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We had no shelter except the ship—people died of frostbite, the power ran down till we had to lie six or eight together at night for warmth. It was pure hell. And in the ship emotions blew up to explosion point. Gomes and his officers decided to impose their rule whether we liked it or not, "and two men—the only two with a spark of guts—they put out in the snow. " His voice trembled. "I was smart—or cowardly. I was his supercargo, you see. Training for crew. I saw early that I had to stay on his right side or go the same way.

Newly sprouted plants of all kinds fringed the river and a network of roots meshed out from the banks. The disappearance of the water had left them dry and fibrous, and the rotting bodies of freshwater animals were piled in what had been the last puddles. The mud had dried out, and gave a good footing. They made fair progress all through the morning. Around them were strange noises: oddly-shaped birds, yellow-grey and brown, shrilled and boomed, carapaced insectoids hissed and stridulated, and sometimes there were bubbling grunts which suggested that some large creature had been taken by what passed for its throat and strangled to death.

He was still staring at it when Baffin got up beside him and turned to help the others over the obstacle. " Minty called from below. "It looks like a dam," said Lex harshly. He went on studying it. At the sides of the riverbed there was a pair of extra-sturdy posts, and—although it was hard to make out details—he had the impression that between these posts the mud-plastered hurdles were not fixed in place, but only jammed, to form a kind of crude sluice-gate. But— He took a pace forward, unconsciously, out of sheer surprise.

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