The Gift Bearer
By CHARLES L. FONTENAY
This could well have been Montcalm's greatest opportunity;
a chance to bring mankind priceless gifts from worlds beyond.
But Montcalm was a solid family man—and what about that nude
statue in the park?
It was one of those rare
strokes of poetic something-or-other
that the whole business
occurred the morning after the
stormy meeting of the Traskmore
Like the good general he was,
Richard J. Montcalm had foreseen
trouble at this meeting, for
it was the boldest invasion yet
into the territory of evil and
laxity. His forces were marshaled.
Several of the town's
ministers who had been with him
on other issues had balked on
this one, but he had three of
them present, as well as heads
of several women's clubs.
As he had anticipated, the
irresponsible liberals were present
to do battle, headed by red-haired
"This board," said Levitt in
his strong, sarcastic voice, "has
gone too far. It was all right to
get rid of the actual filth ...
and everyone will agree there
was some. But when you banned
the sale of some magazines and
books because they had racy covers
or because the contents were
a little too sophisticated to suit
the taste of members of this
board ... well, you can carry
protection of our youth to the
point of insulting the intelligence
of adults who have a right
to read what they want to."
"You're talking about something
that's already in the past,
Mr. Levitt," said Montcalm
mildly. "Let's keep to the issue
at hand. You won't deny that
children see this indecent statue
"No, I won't deny it!" snapped
Levitt. "Why shouldn't they
see it? They can see the plate of
the original in the encyclopaedia.
It's a fine copy of a work of art."
Montcalm waited for some rebuttal
from his supporters, but
none was forthcoming. On this
matter, they apparently were
unwilling to go farther than the
moral backing of their presence.
"I do not consider the statue
of a naked woman art, even if it
is called 'Dawn,'" he said bitingly.
He looked at his two colleagues
and received their nods
of acquiescence. He ruled: "The
statue must be removed from
the park and from public view."
Levitt had one parting shot.
"Would it solve the board's
problem if we put a brassiere
and panties on the statue?" he
"Mr. Levitt's levity is not
amusing. The board has ruled,"
said Montcalm coldly, arising to
signify the end of the meeting.
That night Montcalm slept the
satisfied sleep of the just.
He awoke shortly after dawn
to find a strange, utterly beautiful
naked woman in his bedroom.
For a bemused instant Montcalm
thought the statue of Dawn in
the park had come to haunt him.
His mouth fell open but he was
unable to speak.
"Take me to your President,"
said the naked woman musically,
with an accent that could have
Mrs. Montcalm awoke.
"What's that? What is it,
Richard?" she asked sleepily.
"Don't look, Millie!" exclaimed
Montcalm, clapping a hand
over her eyes.
"Nonsense!" she snapped,
pushing his hand aside and sitting
up. She gasped and her eyes
went wide, and in an instinctive,
unreasonable reaction she clutched
the covers up around her own
"Who are you, young woman?"
demanded Montcalm indignantly.
"How did you get in
"I am a visitor from what you
would call an alien planet," she
said. "Of course," she added
thoughtfully, "it isn't alien to
"The woman's mad," said
Montcalm to his wife. A warning
noise sounded in the adjoining
bedroom. Alarmed, he instructed:
"Go and keep the children
out of here until I can get her to
put on some clothes. They
mustn't see her like this."
Mrs. Montcalm got out of bed,
but she gave her husband a
"Are you sure I can trust you
in here with her?" she asked.
"Millie!" exclaimed Montcalm
sternly, shocked. She dropped
her eyes and left the room.
When the door closed behind her,
he turned to the strange woman
"Now, look, young lady, I'll
get you one of Millie's dresses.
You'll have to get some clothes
on and leave."
"Aren't you going to ask me
my name?" asked the woman.
"Of course, it's unpronounceable
to you, but I thought that was
the first thing all Earth people
asked of visitors from other
"All right," he said in exasperation.
"What's your name?"
She said an unpronounceable
word and added: "You may call
Montcalm went to the closet
and found one of Millie's house
dresses. He held it out to her
As he did so, he was stricken
with a sudden sharp feeling of
regret that she must don it. Her
figure ... why Millie had never
had a figure like that! At once,
he felt ashamed and disloyal and
sterner than ever.
Liz rejected the proffered garment.
"I wouldn't think of adopting
your alien custom of wearing
clothing," she said sweetly.
"Now look," said Montcalm, "I
don't know whether you're drunk
or crazy, but you're going to
have to put something on and
get out of here before I call the
"I anticipated doubt," said
Liz. "I'm prepared to prove my
With the words, the two of
them were no longer standing in
the Montcalm bedroom, but in
a broad expanse of green fields
and woodland, unmarred by any
habitation. Montcalm didn't recognize
the spot, but it looked
vaguely like it might be somewhere
in the northern part of
Montcalm was dismayed to
find that he was as naked as his
"Oh, my Lord!" he exclaimed,
trying to cover himself with a
September Morn pose.
"Oh, I'm sorry," apologized
Liz, and instantly Montcalm's
pajamas were lying at his feet.
He got into them hurriedly.
"How did we get here?" he
asked, his astonished curiosity
overcoming his disapproval of
this immodest woman.
"By a mode of transportation
common to my people in planetary
atmospheres," she answered.
"It's one of the things I
propose to teach your people."
She sat down cross-legged on
the grass. Montcalm averted his
eyes, like the gentleman he was.
"You see," said Liz, "the people
of your world are on the
verge of going to space and
joining the community of worlds.
It's only natural the rest of us
should wish to help you. We
have a good many things to give
you, to help you control the elements
and natural conditions of
your world. The weather, for example ..."
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a
small cloud appeared above them
and spread, blocking out the
early sun. It began to rain, hard.
The rain stopped as suddenly
as it had begun and the cloud
dissipated. Montcalm stood shivering
in his soaked pajamas and
Liz got to her feet, her skin glistening
"You have a problem raising
food for your population in some
areas," she said....
A small haw-apple tree near
them suddenly began to grow at
an amazing rate of speed. It
doubled its size in three minutes,
put forth fruit and dropped
it to the ground.
"These are only a few of the
things I'll give to your planet,"
At her words, they were back
in the bedroom. This time she
had been thoughtful. Montcalm
was still clad in wet pajamas.
"I don't know what sort of
hypnosis this is," he began aggressively,
"but you can't fool
me, young lady, into believing ..."
Millie came into the room. She
had donned a robe over her
"Richard, where have you
been with this woman?" she demanded.
"Why, my dear ..."
"You've been roaming around
the house somewhere with her.
I came in here a moment ago
and you were gone. Now, Richard,
I want you to do something
about her and stop fooling
around. I can't keep the children
in their room all day."
It hadn't been hypnosis then!
Liz was for real. A vision rose
before Montcalm of mankind
given wonders, powers, benefits
representing advances of thousands
of years. The world could
become a paradise with the
things she offered to teach.
"Millie, this woman is from
another planet!" he exclaimed
excitedly, and turned to Liz.
"Why did you choose me to contact
"Why, I happened to land near
your house," she answered. "I
know how your primitive social
organization is set up, but isn't
one human being just as good as
another to lead me to the proper
"Yes," he said joyfully, visualizing
black headlines and his
picture in the papers.
Millie stood to one side, puzzled
and grim at once. Montcalm
picked up the house dress he had
taken from the closet earlier.
"Now, Miss," he said, "if
you'll just put this on, I'll take
you to the mayor and he can get
in touch with Washington at
"I told you," said Liz, "I don't
want to adopt your custom of
"But you can't go out in public
like that!" said the dismayed
Montcalm. "If you're going to
move among Earth people, you
must dress as we do."
"My people wouldn't demand
that Earth people disrobe to associate
with us," she countered
Millie had had enough. She
went into action.
"You can argue with this
hussy all you like, Richard, but
I'm going to call the police," she
said, and left the room with determination
in her eye.
The next fifteen minutes were
agonizing for Montcalm as he
tried futilely to get Liz to dress
like a decent person. He was
torn between realization of what
the things she offered would
mean to the world and his own
sense of the fitness of things.
His children, the children of
Traskmore, the children of the
world ... what would be the effect
on their tender morals to
realize that a sane adult was
willing to walk around in brazen
There was a pounding on the
front door, and the voice of Millie
inviting the law into the
"Now I'm afraid you're due
to go to jail," said Montcalm
mournfully. "But when they get
some clothes on you, I'll try to
explain it and get you an audience
with the mayor."
Two blue-clad policemen entered
One policeman took the
house dress from Montcalm's lax
fingers and tossed it over Liz'
head without further ado.
Liz did not struggle. She
looked at Montcalm with a quizzical
"I'm sorry," she said. "My
people made a mistake. If you
Earth people aren't tolerant
enough to accept a difference in
customs of dress, I'm afraid
you're too immature."
With that, she was gone like
a puff of air. The astonished policemen
held an empty dress.
Montcalm didn't see the flying
saucer that whizzed over Traskmore
that morning and disappeared
into the sky, but he didn't
doubt the reports. He debated
with himself for a long time
whether he had taken the right
attitude, but decided he had.
After all, there were the children
This etext was produced from Amazing Science Fiction Stories September
1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and
typographical errors have been corrected without note.