It was just an error, a stupid error, the kind anyone could make. Only now Earth is never going to have another visitor from space. Not ever.

The Watery Place
Issac Asimov
1 We're never going to have visitors from space. No extraterrestrials will ever land on Earth -- at least, any more.
水 乡

2 I'm not just being a pessimist. As a matter of fact, extraterrestrials have landed. I know that. Space ships are crisscrossing space among a million worlds, probably, but they will never come here. I know that, too. All on account of a ridiculous error.

3 I'll explain.

4 It was actually Bart Cameron's error and you'll have to understand about Bart Cameron. He's the sheriff at Twin Gulch, Idaho, and I'm his deputy. Bart Cameron is an impatient man and he gets most impatient when he has to work up his income tax. You see, besides being sheriff, he also owns and runs the general store, he's got some shares in a sheep ranch, he's got a kind of pension for being a disabled veteran (bad knee) and a few other things like that. Naturally, it makes his tax figures complicated.

5 It wouldn't be so bad if he'd let a taxman work on the forms with him, but he insists on doing it himself and it makes him a bitter man. By April 14, he isn't approachable. 要是他让税务人员帮他填表就不至于那么糟糕,可他非得要自己填,于是填得他牢骚满腹。每年到了4月14日,他就变得难以接近。

6 So it's too bad the flying saucer landed on April 14, 19

7 I saw it land. My chair was backed up against the wall in the sheriff's office, and I was looking at the stars through the windows and wondering if I ought to knock off and hit the sack or keep on listening to Cameron curse real steady as he went over his columns of figures for the hundred twenty-seventh time.

8 It looked like a shooting star at first, but then the track of light broadened into two things that looked like rocket exhausts and the thing came down without a sound.

9 Two men got out.

10 I couldn't say anything or do anything. I couldn't choke or point; I couldn't even bug my eyes. I just sat there.

11 Cameron? He never looked up.

12 There was a knock on the door. It opened and the two men from the flying saucer stepped in. I would have thought they were city fellows if I hadn't seen the flying saucer land. They wore gray suits, with white shirts and dark red-brown ties. They had on black shoes and black hats. They had dark complexions, black wavy hair and brown eyes. They had very serious looks on their faces and were about five foot ten apiece. They looked very much alike.

13 God, I was scared.

14 But Cameron just looked up when the door opened and frowned. He said, "What can I do for you, folks?" and he tapped his hand on the forms so it was obvious he hadn't much time.
可卡默伦只是在门开的那会儿略一抬头,皱了皱眉头。 “有什么事吗,伙计?”他边说边用手拍着税单,显然正忙着呢。

15 One of the two stepped forward. He said, "We have had your people under observation a long time." He pronounced each word carefully and all by itself.

16 Cameron said, "My people? All I got's a wife. What's she been doing?"

17 The fellow in the suit said, "We have chosen this locality for our first contact because it is isolated and peaceful. We know that you are the leader here."

18 "I'm the sheriff, if that's what you mean, so spit it out. What's your trouble?"
“我是治安官,这是你要说的吧,有什么话就直说, 你们遇到什么麻烦了?”

19 "We have been careful to adopt your mode of dress and even to assume your appearance. We have also learned your language."

20 You could see the light break in on Cameron. He said, "You guys foreigners?" Cameron didn't go much for foreigners, never having met many outside the army, but generally he tried to be fair.

21 The man from the saucer said, "Foreigners? Indeed we are. We come from the watery place your people call Venus."

22 Cameron never blinked an eye. He said, "All right. This is the U.S.A. We all got equal rights regardless of race, color, or nationality. I'm at your service. What can I do for you?"

23 "We would like to have you make immediate arrangements for the important men of your U.S.A., as you call it, to be brought here for discussions leading to your people joining our great organization."

24 Slowly, Cameron got red. "Our people join your organization. We're already part of the U.N. and God knows what else. And I suppose I'm to get the President here, eh? Right now? In Twin Gulch? Send a hurry-up message?" He looked at me, as though he wanted to see a smile on my face, but I couldn't as much as fall down if someone had pushed the chair out from under me.

25 The saucer man said, "Speed is desirable."

26 "You want Congress, too? The Supreme Court?"

27 "If they will help, sheriff."

28 And Cameron really went to pieces. He banged his income tax form and yelled, "Well, you're not helping me, and I have no time for wise guys who come around, especially foreigners. If you don't get the hell out of here straight away, I'll lock you up for disturbing the peace and I'll never let you out."

29 "You wish us to leave?" said the man from Venus.

30 "Right now! Get the hell out of here and back to wherever you're from and don't ever come back. I don't want to see you and no one else around here does."

31 The two men looked at each other.

32 Then the one who had done all the talking said, "I can see in your mind that you really wish, with great intensity, to be left alone. It is not our way to force ourselves or our organization on people who do not wish us or it. We will respect your privacy and leave. We will not return. We will put a warning around your world and none will enter."

33 Cameron said, "Mister, I'm tired of this garbage, so I'll count to three -- "

34 They turned and left, and I just knew that everything they said was so. I was listening to them, you see, which Cameron wasn't, because he was busy thinking of his income tax, and it was as though I could hear their minds, know what I mean? I knew that there would be a kind of fence around earth, keeping others out.

35 And when they left, I got my voice back -- too late. I screamed, "Cameron, for God's sake, they're from space. Why'd you send them away?"

36 "From space!" He stared at me.

37 I yelled, "Look!" I don't know how I did it, he being twenty-five pounds heavier than I, but I heaved him to the window by his shirt collar.

38 He was too surprised to resist and when he recovered his wits enough to make like he was going to knock me down, he caught sight of what was going on outside the window and the breath went out of him.



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