Chapter 4 Summary

Stormgren contacts Pierre Duval, the Chief of the Science Bureau to help him in his plan to find some way to see what Karellen looks like. Duval states that it is probably not a TV system that Karellen uses to communicate with Stormgren but a one-way mirror. If he could devise some way to make a light that will shine through the mirror, Stormgren could at last see the physical appearance of the Overlords.

On his next trip up to the spaceship, Stormgren carries a radar device along with the draft of the World State government that he is to deliver to Karellen. The alien senses nothing as Stormgren activates the radar. Karellen tells the Secretary-General that he has asked his superiors about showing themselves to the people of Earth. They have decided that in fifty years, when mankind as evolved enough to accept it, Karellen will come down to Earth and show himself. He warns that people will experience a “psychological discontinuity” at their first look, but they will adjust soon, much sooner than their grandfathers would.

Stormgren delivers the radar to Duval. They look at the readings to discover that Karellen is a physical body in the small room. On the next trip, Duval will send a light with Stormgren. He suspects that what Karellen has to hide is that there is nothing to hide. The aliens will look like human beings.

On his final conference with Karellen, Stormgren takes the light. After they discuss Stormgren’s replacement, Stormgren gets up to leave. He jumps to the mirror and flashes the light into the room beyond. He sees an empty chair and Karellen’s form disappearing through the door. But he did see what the Overlords look like.

Thirty years later, a reporter comes to interview the ninety-year-old Stormgren. He tells the former statesman that there was a rumor that someone had invented a device by which Stormgren could see the Overlords. Stormgren says this is true, but he saw nothing. When the reporter leaves, Stormgren thinks back on the form he saw. Karellen said that the Overlords had experienced some failures. He wonders if it was Karellen himself who failed, and this has led to the legend being passed down for generations to haunt the childhoods of every race of man. He thinks that it will indeed take some adjustment for human beings to get used to the appearance of the Overlords. He hopes that, in twenty years’ time, Karellen will visit the grave of the human being who was his first friend.