“Smith, I don’t need to remind you that it’s the little things that count. It’s too old a saying. In this case it happens to be the greatest truth we have found today.
“Smith”—speaking with the utmost care—“what we have just said about the bee’s sting is all true; but only with regard to the bees on the earth. It is only on the earth, so far as we know positively, that the bee is averse to stinging, for fear of losing his sting.
“There is only one way to account for the soldier bee. Its sting has no barbs!”
“Why no? If the poison is virulent enough, the barbs wouldn’t be necessary, would they? Friends, the Sanusian bee is the supreme creature on its planet; it is superior to all the other insects, all the birds, all the animals; and its supremacy is due solely and entirely to the fact that there are no barbs on its sting!”
THE MISSING FACTOR
By the time the four once more got together in the doctor’s study, each had had a chance to consider the Sanusian situation pretty thoroughly. All but Billie were convinced that the humans were deserving people, whose position was all the more regrettable because due, so far as could be seen, the insignificant little detail of the barbless sting.
Were these people doomed forever to live their lives for the sake of insects? Were they always to remain, primitive and uncultured, in ignorance of, the things that civilization is built upon, obeying the orders of creatures who were content to eat, reproduce, and die? For that is all that bees know!
Perhaps it was for the best. Possibly Rolla and her friends were better off as they were. It might have been that a wise Providence, seeing how woefully the human animal had missed its privileges on other worlds, had decided to make man secondary on Sanus. Was that the reason for it all?
All but Billie scouted the idea. To them the affair was a ghastly perversion of what Nature intended. Van Emmon stated the case in a manner which showed how strongly he felt about it.
“Those folks will never get anywhere if the bees can help it!” he charged. “We’ve got to lend a hand, here, and see that they get a chance!”
Smith said that, so far as he was concerned, the bees might all be consigned to hell. “I’m not going to have anything to do with the agent I had, any more!” he declared. “I’m going to get in touch with that chap, Dulnop. What is he like, doc?”
Kinney told him, and then Van Emmon asked for details of the herdsman, Corrus. “No more bees in my young life, either. From now on it’s up to us. What do you think?” turning to his wife, and carefully avoiding any use of her name.
The architect knew well enough that the rest were wondering how she would decide. She answered with deliberation:
“I’m going to stay in touch with Supreme!”