By Keith Roberts

'We attain and we thresh; grain for part the realm. we're the Grain Kings raised of old.'

They name them the Grain Kings. massive mechanical monarchs of the wheat-bearing plains that have been as soon as the frozen Alaskan wastes. entire eco-systems in themselves, they could offer the foodstuff so desperately wanted by way of the teeming hundreds of thousands of our overpopulated planet. yet even now, because the entire international waits in hungry suspense, the nice powers conflict for regulate of the prairies and competing mix harvesters locate they're heading on a process collision. A collision with catastrophic results - not just for the masses of crewmen aboard every one tremendous desktop yet for the longer term survival of all mankind.

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He acknowledged, ‘I am a piece anxious, truly. ’ ‘Why? ’ He acknowledged, ‘Escorting a slightly wonderful blonde. ’ She tossed her head, and laughed. She acknowledged, ‘You want a drink to boot then. ’ He poured whisky, stated, ‘Cheers. ’ The ebook, now, looked to be burning into his shoulderblades. She acknowledged, in truth, you’re taking a look fairly fetching your self. ’ He inspiration, ‘This is the evening whilst all issues come jointly. There may be a notice for it. ’ Then he remembered approximately until eventually Eulenspiegel. She acknowledged, ‘We’d truthfully greater pass down. ’ lighting gleamed within the nice corridor, reflecting from polished forums, darkish linenfold panelling. on the closer finish of the chamber a major fireplace burned. underneath the minstrels’ gallery lengthy tables have been set. casual or now not, they shone with glass and silverware. Candles glowed amid wreaths of darkish evergreen; beside every one position used to be a rolled pink serviette. in the course of the corridor, its tip brushing the coffered ceiling, stood a Christmas tree. Its branches have been hung with apples, baskets of candies, pink paper roses; at its base have been piled presents in gay-striped wrappers. around the tree people stood in teams, chatting and giggling. Richard observed Müller, the Defence Minister, with a striking-looking blonde he took to be his spouse; beside them was once a tall, monocled guy who was once whatever or different in safeguard. there has been a gaggle of GSP officials of their darkish, neat uniforms, past them part a dozen Liaison humans. He observed Hans the chauffeur status head bent, nodding carefully, smiling at a few comment; and proposal as he had inspiration prior to, how he seemed like an enormous, good-looking ox. Diane had paused within the doorway, and associated her arm via his. however the Minister had already obvious them. He got here weaving in the course of the crowd, a pitcher in his hand. He used to be donning tight black trews, a gloomy blue roll-neck blouse. He seemed satisfied and comfortable. He acknowledged, ‘Richard. And my pricey omit Hunter. We’d approximately given you up for misplaced. in any case, Hans Trapp is set. Now, a few beverages. and are available, do come; please sign up for my buddies. Over right here, the place it's hot. ’ She acknowledged, ‘Who’s Hans Trapp? ’ Mainwaring acknowledged, ‘You’ll discover in a piece. ’ a bit later the Minister acknowledged, ‘Ladies and gents, i feel we can be seated. ’ The meal used to be extraordinary, the wine ample. by the point the brandy was once served Richard chanced on himself speaking extra simply, and the Geissler reproduction driven approximately to the again of his brain. the conventional toasts – King and Fuehrer, the provinces, the 2 Empires – have been inebriated; then the Minister clapped his arms for quiet. ‘My friends,’ he stated, ‘tonight, this unique evening after we can all combine so freely, is Weihnachtsabend. It capacity, i guess, many stuff to the numerous folks right here. yet allow us to have in mind, at the beginning, that this is often the evening of the kids. your kids, who've include you to proportion half a minimum of of this very exact Christmas. ’ He paused. Already,’ he stated, ‘they were referred to as from their crèche; quickly, they are going to be with us. allow me convey them to you. ’ He nodded; on the gesture servants wheeled ahead a heavy, ornate field.

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