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"So we got into telepathic contact wilh Bardsley and a few others," Ihe Kitchen King continued. "We offered them enlightenment in exchange. for their assistance. They accepted eagerly. Under our direction, they set up Robotgnomics and hired a small group of technicians to construct our robot bodies and offer our services. So far the response has been overwhelmingly favorable."

"I find it a little difficult to believe," said Ives, "that you've gone to all this trouble in order to do laundry and wash dishes."

"That," Lucy said, "is because you are not an ages-old, free-floating intelligence gifted with perfect enlightenment,""Maybe not," Ives said. "But if you aliens really want to help, why don't you give us a simple cure for cancer or teach us how to run our cars on water, or something useful like that?"

"People would only resent it," Rudy said.

'And anyhow, we're not interested. Scrubbing sinks and cleaning the drapes—that's what we like, and that's what people want done for ihem."

"What happens," Ives asked, "if people find they really don't want you around, no matter how useful you are?"

"Then we leave," Rudy said. "We don't stay where we're not wanted. If you want io get rid of us, all you have to do is say the word."

"I was just asking," Ives said.

"Well, now you know," the Kitchen King said. "But I see that it's almost five in the morning. You must be tired, Mr. Ives."

"I could use some more sleep," Ives said.

"But who are Ihey?" He indicated the two unfamiliar robofs silting on the stove.

"This.one is Charlie Chef," Rudy said. "He's just moved in with the Barlows in 12C The other is Betty Babysitter, who has recently taken up residence with a family down the block. They just came by for a visit."

"You'll be seeing many more of us soon,"

the Kitchen King said. "It's amazing how many humans want things done for them.

Good night, Mr. Ives."

A few minutes later, Ives was back in his bed, watching the programmed shadows move slowly across the ceiling. Magda the Mood Maker was playing something cool and melodic, but also tough and masculine —the sort of music Clint Eastwood might have slept by. Ives was the star of his own movie, the master of his own life. What the aliens had brought was magical, all right.

Only one thing bothered him now, and it was just a detail. Why did Robotgnomics produce only single-purpose machines? It could have nothing to do with what Bardsley had called design philosophy, since the company wasn't producing real robots at all, but rather, robo: bodies - or alien souls.

Then he had it. The Kitchen King had told him there was a whole race of bodiless aliens out there, millions of them, maybe billions, all waiting for their chance to serve somebody on Earth. By keeping the robot bodies single-purpose, they were providing themselves with the maximum number ot jobs.

With five or ten alien servants per human, that's twenty or thirty billion helpers . . .

Ives had a sudden vision of Earth turned into a vast zoo. Instead of cages there were houses and apartmenis. They were filled with mild-mannered human animals, unaggressive and content, cared for by their little alien keepers, who kept them warm, clothed, fed, and amused. The aliens were offering the equivalent of a warm stable and a nose bag tilled with oats. That was their idea of human destiny. But of course, that was ridiculous.

The human race wouldn't let matters go that far Surely people would know where to draw the line.

Secure in that certainly, Ives fell at last into a deep and refreshing sleep.