The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey

The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey

Author:Lester Del Rey [del Rey, Lester]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

11. Custody

The two Martian policemen were quick and businesslike. “You are Captain Becker?” one of them asked.

“Yes,” the captain answered.

“We got a message from you about a runaway boy.”

“This is the lad.”

The other policeman took Paul by the arm, while the first one — carefully polite as all Martian officials are — bowed slightly to Captain Becker.

“You will have to come too, sir. Your report on this affair at the police station will have to be made in person.”

Captain Becker shrugged with annoyance. “All right, if I have to, I have to. The boy stowed away at Ganapolis, and I found him fifteen days out of Marsport. That’s all there is to it.”

“The report must be made in person,” the policeman insisted. “We will not take up much of your time.”

“Stay here,” Captain Becker said to me, and the three of them left with Paul, not even looking in my direction. After they were gone I stood there in the pilot’s cabin trying to figure out what had happened.

Captain Becker had reported a stowaway, and the police had met us at the spaceport. That was easy to see. They had entered the Terrabella and taken Paul to the police station.

But why hadn’t they taken me? I had been completely ignored.

It didn’t make any sense.

I stood there going over it again and again.

I could understand why Paul had ignored me. He’d probably been as surprised as I was, but as long as they made no move in my direction he wasn’t going to call me to their attention.

As I kept on thinking the situation over, another part of it got a little clearer. The Martian police either did not associate a boy stowaway on the Terrabella with the kidnaped governor’s son on Ganymede, or else the kidnaping story hadn’t been given any weight by Interplanetary Security.

That last seemed more likely to be true. Also, Captain Becker must have known the police weren’t expecting a robot to be with Paul Simpson, or he wouldn’t have dared to ignore me in his report.

It was all pretty confusing, and I decided all I could do was wait until Captain Becker came back and explained what had happened.

He was back in less than an hour. I hadn’t moved. I was still in the pilot’s cabin, and he came in and snorted at me as though daring me to object to what he’d done.

I didn’t object, of course. A robot never objects to what a human does. But I did feel that I could ask some questions.

“Why did you turn Paul over to the police?”

“It was best for him. They’ll send him home to his father.”

“Why didn’t they take me?”

He seemed to be deciding whether to answer or not. Then he said, “Why, you should consider yourself lucky that they didn’t.”

“But they wouldn’t take Paul and leave me, his kidnaper, unless — “

“That kidnaping story was discounted,” Captain Becker said. “The investigation back in Ganymede proved that Paul left the Star Queen of his own accord. There wasn’t any robot with him.


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