Another Look at My Past
The Distinguished Professor Lively continued to speak. And speak and speak. Frank Mills listened
attentively. Sitting straight in the chair, eyes directed toward the speaker, he dared anybody to prove he was
not listening. In actuality, all this talk about the past was turning his thoughts to his own past, when he first
started learning the history of his native planet Altgeld. Back to that day at school...
“Children, when did The Fair Winds land on Altgeld?” Miss Vaught looked at the class, wondering which of
the children would know the answer.
“The first day.” Little Johnny raised his hand and immediately blurted out the answer.
Miss Vaught was pleased. “Yes, Johnny, that is right. The day The Fair Winds landed on Altgeld is called
day one of year one.”
Johnny Johnson said nothing. He had no idea that was really the answer, he was just trying to get a laugh
from everyone. Getting something right was a new experience for him. Too much of this could ruin his
Miss Vaught turned her attention back to the class. Some of these kids you had to watch every second. “And
how many people were there on The Fair Winds?”
Nelson Jones raised his hand. He waited until Miss Vaught nodded at him even though he was really eager to
tell the answer. “Four hundred and ninety-two.”
Miss Vaught went on the offensive. Turning to Frank she asked “Frank, how many of these are you
descended from?” When Miss Vaught turned her baleful eye on you, you had better sit up straight and pay
attention and have the right answer.
But Frank did know the answer. Sitting up as straight as he could he proudly announced “All of them.” Yes,
it was documented, Frank Mills was descended from all four hundred and ninety-two persons who walked off
The Fair Winds on that day. As were his mother and father and brother and sister. Actually 98.4 percent of
the people on Altgeld were descended from all the Four Hundred And N inety-Two. Visitors from off- world
often commented that a lot of people kind of looked alike.
Miss Vaught resumed her lecture voice. It was getting up into the afternoon, and you had to assert yourself to
keep these kids under control. “The Fair Winds set out in search of academic freedom. The y endured many
perils before coming to the planet where we now live. After they arrived they immediately set about making
the planet fit for them and their children to live on....”
Everybody laughed at something Professor Lively said. Frank laughed too, because it was expected. He did
not actually hear the joke, but it did not much matter. You listen politely and laugh when you are supposed
to. Soon they would be hearing some real information, probably in the next meeting.