Slave Planet
Chapter 13

Public Domain

“There’s nothing to be done about it.” Dr. Haenlingen delivered the words and sat down rigidly behind her desk. Norma nodded, very slowly.

“I know that,” she said. “I started out—I started to do just what you wanted. To talk to him, draw him out, find out just what he did feel and what he planned.”

“And then something happened,” Dr. Haenlingen said tightly. “I know.”

Norma paced to the window and looked out, but the day was gray: she saw only her own reflection. “Something happened,” she murmured. “I—guess I had too much to drink. I wanted to talk.”

“So I understand,” Dr. Haenlingen said. “And you talked. And—whatever his situation—you managed to increase his tension rather than understand or lessen it.”

Norma shook her head at the reflection. “I’m sorry.”

“I have often found,” Dr. Haenlingen said, “that sorrow following an action is worse than useless. It usually implies a request to commit the same action again.”

“But I wouldn’t—” Norma said, turning, and then stopped before the calm gaze of the old woman.

“No?” Dr. Haenlingen said.

“I’ll try to—”

Dr. Haenlingen lifted a hand and brushed the words aside. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I am beginning to see that it doesn’t matter.”


“All we can do now is wait,” Dr. Haenlingen said. “We are—outplayed.”

There was a little silence. Norma waited through it without moving.

“Would you like to have a lesson in psychology?” Dr. Haenlingen said in the graying room. “Would you like to learn a little, just a little, about your fellow man?”

Norma felt suddenly frightened. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong,” Dr. Haenlingen said. “Everything is moving along exactly as might have been predicted. If we had known what the Confederation planned, and exactly the timetable of their actions ... but we did not, and could not. Norma, listen to me.”

The story she told was very simple. It took a fairly long time to tell.

Slavery takes a toll of the slaves (as the Confederation was beginning to find out, as the idealists, the do-gooders, were beginning, however slowly to realize). But it takes a toll of the masters, too.

The masters can’t quite rid themselves of the idea that beings which react so much like people may really (in spite of everything, in spite of appearance, in spite of laws and regulations and social practices) be people, after all, in everything but name and training.

And it just wouldn’t be right to treat people that way...

Slaves feel pain. In simple reciprocity, masters feel guilt.

And because (according to the society, and the laws, and the appearances, and the regulations) there was no need for guilt, the masters of Fruyling’s World had, like masters anywhere and any time, buried the guilt, hidden it even from themselves, forbidden its existence and forgotten to mention it to their thoughts.

But the guilt remained, and the guilt demanded.

Punishment was needed.

“They’re going to fight,” Dr. Haenlingen said. “When the Confederation attacks, they’re going to fight back. It’s senseless: even if we won, the Confederation fleet could blockade us, prevent us getting a shipment out, bottle us up and starve us for good. But they don’t need sense, they need motive, which is quite a different thing. They’re going to fight—both because they need the punishment of a really good licking, and because fighting is one more way for them to deny their guilt.”

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