The ringing of the door bell cut into Henderson’s concentration and he made a gesture of irritation with one outflung hand. But he didn’t raise his head or shift his eyes one iota from the tiny green thing on his laboratory table. Tensely absorbed, he stood watching the small miracle he had made and emotion approaching exultation gripped him.
He slid one hand toward a switch, never moving his eyes from the table. The infinitesimal movement of his hand increased the power throb in the machine at his side so imperceptibly that only he could be aware of it.
Suddenly his breath exploded in what was almost a squeal of delight.
The small green plant on the table was with great effort extending a pair of tiny rootlets and was trying to use them to walk!
As Henderson watched, spellbound, the sudden cessation of the doorbell’s ring went unnoticed. He stood there, willing with every cell of his body the miracle that would make that small shred of green take the first vital step.
Slowly, slowly it struggled to an upright position, stood wavering. Henderson increased the power with a trembling hand and almost forgot to breathe as he waited for the miracle which followed.
Several more rootlets abruptly appeared, and now the plant balanced itself easily on the bare table. Then slowly, as a long minute passed, one of the roots made an uncertain step, then another and another, until it was walking unsteadily across the surface of the table!
Henderson, his face--even his lips--white with excitement, now reached for another switch. Before turning it on he adjusted a tiny microphone on the edge of the table. Then he turned the screw switch...
Instantaneously the laboratory was filled with a rustling. Then there came a series of tiny squeaks that sounded strangely like a voice speaking. Henderson sat spellbound, watching, listening...
The door bell rang again, but this time he didn’t even hear it. Nothing could break the spell which held him in his seat before the first talking and walking plant the world had ever known.
He picked up an alternate phase microphone and spoke into it. His voice issued from a tiny speaker beside the plant as a small whisper of itself.
“Man!” his voice whispered, “Man!” He nearly yelled his delight as the small green thing echoed the word!
He shut off the mike, then, and got busy. He sat down and began to plan a vocabulary to educate his plant. When that was done he would stun the world with a demonstration of his genius...
It was some time before he realized there was a ghost of a voice coming from someplace in the room. He looked at the plant on the table, but it was standing quiescent.
Henderson stared around the laboratory, frowning. Then a movement at the window caught his eye.