Case of Conscience
steadily. "But your running up against that 'pineapple' was no accident. If you'd been observing Lithia as you were sent here to do, instead of spending all your time building up a fictitious Lithia for purposes of your own, you'd have known enough about the planet to have been more careful about 'pineapples.' You'd also have spoken at least as much Lithian as Agronski, by this time."
    "That," Cleaver said, "is probably true, and again it doesn't make any difference to me. I observed the one fact about Lithia that overrides all other facts, and that is going to turn out to be sufficient. Unlike you, Father, I have no respect for petty niceties in extreme situations, and I'm not the kind of man who thinks anyone learns anything from analysis after the fact."
    "Let's not get to bickering this early," Michelis said. "You've told us your story without any visible decoration, and it's evident that you have a reason for confessing. You expect us to excuse you, or at least not to blame you too heavily, when you tell us what that reason is. Let's hear it."
    "It's this," Cleaver said, and for the first time he seemed to become a little more animated. He leaned forward, the glowing gaslight bringing the bones of his face into sharp contrast with the sagging hollows of his cheeks, and pointed a not-quite-steady finger at Michelis. "Do you know, Mike, what it is that we're sitting on here? Just to begin with, do you know how much rutile there is here?"
    "Of course I know," Michelis said. "Agronski told me, and since then I've been working on practicable methods of refining the ore. If we decide to vote for opening the planet up, our titanium problem will be solved for a century, maybe even longer. I'm saying as much in my personal report. But what of it? We anticipated that that would be true even before we first landed here, as soon as we got accurate figures on the mass of the planet."
    "And what about the pegmatite?" Cleaver demanded softly.
    "Well, what about it?" Michelis said, looking more puzzled than before.
    "I suppose it's abundant—I really didn't bother to check. Titanium's important to us, but I don't quite see why lithium should be. The days when the metal was used as a rocket fuel are fifty years behind us."
    "And a good thing, too," Agronski said. "Those old Li-Fluor engines used to go off like warheads. One little leak in the feed lines, and blooey!"
    "And yet the metal's still worth about twenty thousand dollars an English ton back home, Mike, and that's exactly the same price it was drawing in the nineteen-sixties, allowing for currency changes since then. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
    "I'm more interested in knowing what it means to you," Michelis said. "None of us can make a personal penny out of this trip, even if we find the planet solid platinum inside—which is hardly likely. And if price is the only consideration, surely the fact that lithium ore is common here will break the market for it. What's it good for, after all, on a large scale?"
    "Bombs," Cleaver said. "Real bombs. Fusion bombs. It's no good for controlled fusion, for power, but the deuterium salt makes the prettiest multimegaton explosion you ever saw."
    Ruiz-Sanchez suddenly felt sick and tired all over again. It was exactly what he had feared had been on Cleaver's mind; given a planet named Lithia only because it appeared to be mostly rock, and a certain kind of mind will abandon every other concern to find a metal called lithium on it. But he had not wanted to find himself right.
    "Paul," he said, "I've changed my mind. I would have caught you out, even if you had never blundered against your 'pineapple.' That same day you mentioned to me that you were looking for pegmatite when you had your accident, and that you thought Lithia might be a good place for tritium production on a large scale. Evidently you thought that I wouldn't know what you were talking about. If you hadn't hit the 'pineapple,' you would have given yourself away to me

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