family for you belong to the Syrtis people of Mars, where the children are raised communally. But here’s something for a drink.”
The Martian, startled, took the coin and stumbled hastily away from the big redhead.
Then as Curt passed a tavern from which came wild, whirling music with the pulsing Venusian double-rhythm in it, he heard a sudden uproar break loose inside.
“Marshal or no marshal, you can’t tell Jon Daumer what to do!” roared an Earthman’s bellowing voice.
“I’m telling you, and I’m not telling you again,” answered a steely voice. “You and your friends get out of town and get out now.”
Captain Future recognized that hard second voice. He pushed quickly into the tavern.
It was a big, bright-lit metal hall, hazy with the acrid smoke of Venusian swamp-leaf tobacco. A mixed throng jammed the place. There were prospectors, gamblers and engineers, some of whom had been drinking at the long glassite bar, others of whom had been dancing with hard-faced, painted girls.
All eyes were now watching the tense drama taking place. A big, heavy-faced Earthman in white zipper-suit, with three other mean-eyed men behind him, confronted a grizzled, iron-haired man who wore the black uniform of the Planet Police and a marshal’s badge.
Ezra Gurney, the gray-haired marshal, was looking grimly at the quartet who faced him.
“I’m giving you and your three fellow-crooks just one hour to leave Jungletown, Daumer,” he warned.
Curt saw Daumer crimson with rage.
“You’ve not proved that we have broken any laws! the man bellowed at Gurney.
“I don’t need any more proof than what I’ve got,” said Ezra Gurney. “I know you four have been getting prospectors drunk and robbing them of their radium. You’re leaving!”
DAUMER’S face stiffened. He and his companions dropped their hands toward the hilts of their flare-guns.
“We’re not going, Gurney,” he said ominously.
Curt Newton stepped suddenly from behind Gurney. His tall, red-headed figure confronted Daumer and his companions.
“Take your hands off those guns and get out of town as Marshal Gurney says,” Curt ordered the four men coldly.
Daumer was first amazed at the stranger’s audacity. Then he uttered a guffaw of laughter that was echoed by the motley crowd.
“Listen to this Mr. Nobody that’s telling me what to do!” he exclaimed. The crowd roared in appreciative mirth.
“Captain Future!” cried Ezra Gurney suddenly as he glimpsed Curt’s face.
“Captain Future?” echoed Daumer blankly. His eyes dropped frozenly to the big ring on Curt’s finger.
“It’s him!” he whispered through stiff lips.
The laughter of the crowd was struck to silence as by a blow. In frozen, unbelieving stillness, they stared at Curt.
The greatest adventurer in the Solar System’s history, the mysterious, awesome figure whose legend dominated the nine worlds, stood in their midst. As they realized it, they could only stare rigidly at this big, red-haired, gray-eyed man whose name and fame had rung around the System.
“We’re — going, Captain Future,” Daumer said hoarsely, his brutal face pallid.
“See that you take the first ship off Jupiter,” Curt lashed, his bleak gray eyes boring into the faces of the four men.
Daumer and his companions were out of the place in a moment. Curt and Ezra Gurney followed them.
No man or woman in the crowded hall moved, as Captain Future and the grizzled marshal walked out to the street. But as they reached the noisy, thronged thoroughfare, they heard a great babel of excited voices from behind them blast forth in the tavern.
“Thanks for steppin’ in to help me out, Captain Future, but you spoiled a swell fight,” said Ezra Gurney testily.
“I see you’re as bloodthirsty as ever, Marshal. I thought maybe that fracas in the Swampmen’s Quarter on Venus two years ago would have quieted you down.”
Gurney looked at him with shrewd old eyes.
“What brings you