When the dance was nearly over Mytoh heaved out of her chair, drew the rich folds of her native Venusian tarab about her bulk, and padded softly to a corner of the room, where the shadows lay deepest. Smiling, she rested a moist, jeweled paw on the table at which Ransome, the Earthwoman, sat alone.

Blue eyes looked up coldly out of a weary, lean face. The voice was bored.

'I've paid for my bottle and I have nothing left for you to steal. We have nothing in common, no business together. Now, if you don't mind, you're in my line of vision, and I'd like to watch the finish of the dance.’

The fat Venusian's smile only broadened.

'May I sit down, Ms. Ransome?’ she persisted. 'Here, out of your line of vision?’

'The chair belongs to you,’ Ransome observed flatly.

'Thank you.’

Covertly, as she had done for hours now, Mytoh studied the gaunt, pale Earthwoman in the worn space harness. Ransome had apparently dismissed the Venusian renegade already, and her cold blue eyes followed the man's every movement with fixed intensity.

The music swept on toward its climax and the man's body was a storm of golden flesh and tossing black hair. Mytoh saw the Earthwoman's pale lips twist in the faint suggestion of a bitter smile, saw the long fingers tighten around the glass.

Every woman had her price on Yaroto, and Ransome would not be the first Mytoh had bought with a man. For a moment, Mytoh watched the desire brighten in Ransome's eyes, studied the smile that some women wear on the way to death, in the last moment when life is most precious.

* * * * *

In this moment Ransome was for sale. And Mytoh had a proposition.

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