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"Little late for an ambulance, Little Father," said Remo.

The ambulance rushed up toward the tent, kicking up sand sprays from its wheels and two men jumped from the back carrying a stretcher.

"What's going on?" Remo asked a reporter.

"Fielding. He collapsed."

Remo and Chiun passed through the crowd as if it were not there. As Fielding was being put on the stretcher, Remo leaned over to him and said:

"Fielding, I know. I know the whole scheme."

Fielding's face was chalky white, his lips almost violet under the harsh overhead light. The lips split into a thin smile as his unfocused eyes searched out Remo. "They're all bugs. Bugs. And now the bugs are all going to die. And I did it." His eyes closed again and the ambulance attendants carried him away.


"It couldn't be worse." Smith's voice sounded as forlorn and sour as his words.

"I don't know why. Just get rid of the radioactive seeds."

"They're gone," said Smith. "They've been moved from the Denver storage depot and we haven't yet been able to trace them. But we think they're probably someplace overseas."

"All right," said Remo. "Then just let the government brand the Fielding process as a hoax."

"That's the problem. That lunatic public relations company that Fielding's got, they're already out spreading the word that powerful government forces are trying to stop Fielding from feeding the world. If the government acts now, America'll wind up being labeled antihuman."

"Well, I've got a solution," said Remo.

"What's that?"

"Just let the seed get out and get planted around the world. And then there won't be anybody left to label us anti-human."

"I knew I could count on you for clear thinking," said Smith, his voice dripping ice. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," said Remo. "Call anytime."

After he hung up the phone, Chiun said, "You do not feel as good as you try to sound."

"It'll pass."

"No, it won't. You feel you have been made a fool of by Fielding and now people may suffer because of it."

"Maybe," Remo conceded.

"And you do not know what to do about it. Fielding is dying; you cannot threaten to kill him unless he tells the truth, because he just will not care."

"Something like that," Remo said. He looked out the window over the city of Denver. "I guess it's because Smitty feels so bad. You know, I could never tell him but I kind of respect him. He's got a tough job and he does it well. I'd like to help him out."

"Bah," said Chiun. "Emperors come and emperors go. You and I should go to Persia. There assassins are appreciated."

Remo shook his head, still looking at the skyline. "I'm an American, Chiun. I belong here."

"You are the heir to the title of Sinanju. You belong where your profession takes you."

"That's easy for you to say," said Remo. "I just don't want to leave Smith and CURE."

"And what of your coequal partner? Does my opinion count for nothing?"

"No, you're on the team too."

"All right. It is agreed."

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What is agreed?"

"It is agreed that I will solve this little problem for you. And in the future, you and Emperor Smith alone will not determine the assignments. I will have something to say about what you and I do."

"Chiun, did you ever do anything for anybody without extracting a price for it?" asked Remo.

"I am not the Salvation Army."

"What makes you think you can solve this problem?"

"Why not?" asked Chiun. "I am the Master of Sinanju."

James Orayo Fielding had only brief periods of consciousness now. The leukemia that was eating him up would win. It might be hours. It might be days. But the fight was over. Fielding was doomed.

Because of this, the doctors did not make any plans to operate or to minister to Fielding around the clock. Despite the fact that he was dying, he seemed to be happy, lying in his hospital bed, his face wreathed in smiles.

Until that afternoon when the aged Oriental appeared before him and offered to kiss his feet.

"Who are you?" asked Fielding softly of the ancient man in the light blue robe who stood at the foot of his bed.

"Just a humble man who has come to bring you the thanks of all mankind," said Chiun. "Already my poor village has been saved through your wonderful genius."

Fielding's eyes narrowed and for the first time in twenty-four hours, the smile passed from his face.

"But how?"

"Oh, you did not have all the process. You were very close," Chiun said, "but you missed one thing. The chemicals you put into the grain, they could be very dangerous, but we found the thing to render them harmless."

As Fielding's face lengthened, Chiun went on. "Salt," he said. "Common salt. Found everywhere. Seeded into the soil with your grain, it makes plants grow, not in weeks, but in only days. And it has no bad effects. Like that bomb long ago in Japan. Look!"

Chiun opened his hand and lowered it to show Fielding his palm. In it rested a solitary seed. From his other hand, Chiun sprinkled some white grains on the seed. "Salt," he explained.

He closed the hand and then opened it again. The seed had already begun to sprout. A tiny shoot rose from the top of it.

"It takes now only moments," said Chiun. He closed his hand again. When he reopened it, a few seconds later, the shoot had grown. It was now an inch tall, sprouting above the seed.

"All the world will sing your praises," said Chiun. "You will feed the world instantly. Never again will there be hunger because of you."

He bowed deeply at the foot of Fielding's bed and then backed from the room, as if leaving the presence of a king.

Fielding's mouth tried to move. Salt. Just common salt could make his process work. Because of him, the buggy humans would eat happily ever after. He had failed. His monument that was to be carved from the deaths of billions had failed… unless…

The public relations firm of Feldman, O'Connor and the late Mr. Jordan had no trouble getting the press to meet in Fielding's hospital room for a major press conference at six o'clock that night. After all, Fielding was a world-famous figure. His every move was news.

Chiun and Remo sat in their hotel room watching on television, as James Orayo Fielding told the reporters that his Wondergrain process was a hoax.

"Just a prank," he said, "but now I find that it can be very dangerous. The radioactivity in the seeds could hurt the bugs… er, that is the people who come in contact with it. I am ordering the ships that were carrying this seed overseas for distribution to dump their cargo instantly to protect the people of the world from harm."

Remo watched on the television, then turned to Chiun.

"All right. How'd you do it?"

"Shhhh," said Chiun. "I am listening to the news."

After the press conference, the newscaster reported that the first comment on Fielding's announcement had just been received from the government of India. While India had not bid on the food process, it might be interested in taking the radioactive waste off Fielding's hands-at no charge, of course-for further research into potential military uses of it. Booby traps, the newscaster said.

When the news show had turned safely to weather and sports, Remo asked again: "How'd you do it?"

"I reasoned with him."

Remo stood up. "That's no answer." He walked around the room, stalking, awaiting another word from Chiun. None came. Remo went to the window and looked out again. His hand came to rest on the windowsill and brushed against something.

He picked it up.

"And what is this plastic plant doing here?" he asked.

"It is a gift for you. To remind you of the everlasting goodness of your Mr. Fielding. May the bugs feast forever on his body."