Jandrax 32

Jan had warned them, but they would not listen.

Only Nur, whose difference was even more outstanding than Jan’s, truly believed that the crew members were in danger. Henri flatly refused to listen, pointing out that he had been fully accepted and had married. Valikili echoed his sentiments, though Jan thought he detected more than a trace of hidden worry. Valikili remembered the night he had been attacked, but that was a year past. Marcel Darmle had not found a girl to marry, nor was he likely to do so. Still, Marcel had made many friends, including Marcel Dumezil, the patriarch’s eldest son.

Angi remained unmarried. Her relationship with Jan had cooled only slightly, though she was impatient with his refusal to marry her. He did not understand why she did not marry; certainly there were at least two dozen eligible bachelors and she could have had any one or two of them for the asking.

Sabine Conners had not revealed his identity to anyone but Angi. He was not convinced that Jan was imagining things; he, too, remembered Hallam’s World.

***

Jan made his warnings and remained ready for what he feared to be inevitable, but the day it came he was caught unprepared. The entire colony, save Nur Mohammet, had gathered for the Sabbath service in the town hall and the patriarch rose to deliver his message. He eyed the crowd in silence for a moment, then said, “We are not all present.

“There is one among us who does not bow his head to the will of God. He openly defies the Maker by refusing to attend His services and persists in praying to a false God.

“We cannot tolerate his presence any longer.

“Nor can we tolerate those who sit among us, but are not with us in the spirit . . . ”

Jan felt Dumezil’s eyes on him. His muscles tightened, readying for any action that might be needed. His eyes flitted here and there, weighing possibilities. Marcel Damle looked scared but was trying to remain inconspicuous. Henri was holding Marie’s hand possessively, as if unwilling to let anything separate them. Sweat stood out on Valikili’s dark face.

“The time has come for a reckoning. God saw fit to separate us from the rest of the human race, to bring us here to this place, to let us make what we will of it. It is a cold world, and harsh. Was it God’s will to hurl us into torment? No! It was a testing. We have stood firm in our faith and we have conquered. Yet that is not enough. Did God cast us into this place for no purpose? You know He did not. He separated us from the heathen portion of our race to purify us and make us whole before him. We have an entire planet set before us, a barren, inhospitable planet which we can make over into a new Eden. And God will show the way toward the making of a new Eden. He will be with us.

“But only . . . only . . .

“Only if we first purify ourselves in His sight. Who is with God?”

They shouted in unison. Jan tried to shout, for self-preservation, but the cry stuck in his throat.

“Who is with Him?” They shouted again.

“Who will purify themselves before Him?”

Jan knew what was coming.

“Who will take a hand to purify God’s community?”

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