The day of the expected visit from space was turned into something of a gala on Standardia, but then anything was turned into a gala upon the least pretext - youngsters graduating from school having mastered the ability to tie their shoe-laces, the election of a dog-warden, the election of a cat-warden (to avoid discrimination) or the opening of a new inter-farm dual-carriage highway to connect the growing number of farmsteads.
Expansion had been a goal of the Standardians from the day they had first arrived. Nor was there any doubt as to which way they should go. They were still trying to expand, but they seemed hampered, not by labour or land or know-how, there just did not seem to be enough money about to enable everyone to do what he or she wanted.
"Westward!" was the cry on everyone lips. "Towards the setting suns. Let us always by heading into the sunsets!"
When one young man suggested that eastward might also be a good direction to go, he was shouted down by an appalled multitude.
"Listen, son," one old-timer warned him, "us here are all independent free-thinkers, don't none of us like folks as goes against the grain!"
Another difference of opinion was also being voiced.
"I don't understand it, Tex. This last year, I ain't been able to do as much as I planned."
"I know, Jeff. I reckon its all these folks as is headed west."
"Mm. I ain't so sure, Tex. They is buying up all the horses and wagons and tools and seed corn and cattle they can, seems to me like it's only them as is keeping the rest of us in business."
"Yeah, well that's something we can discuss with the little green feller. Get his opinion on things."
Yet the starship that landed was not the one from the previous year, but the one from year before that, the one that looked like a flying slug.
"Guess it's the slug again," remarked Jeff.
It was the slug again, and Barcla the Hoard oozed his way down the ramp of his craft, his voice booming out is beneficent greetings. He slithered up to the table, set before the Governor's house, upon which rested a neat if rather shabby pile of Standardian dollar bills.
"Your interest, Mr Barcla, sir," said Tex gesturing towards the pile.
Barcla coughed and one of his minions, a little creature that resembled a bipedal terrier scurried up and counted it. Satisfied, the little creature looked up at his master and nodded.
"Good," murmured Barcla. Then he turned to Tex.
"I see that Standardia City is flourishing, Governor Stardust. New farmsteads, new roads, more land under cultivation, more... er, flags."
"Yes, we are doing well enough, I guess, but there's still a lot of hold-ups..."
"Yes, people want things doing, and some folks have time enough to help out, but we kinda have to wait for one job to get finished and paid for before we can move on to the next."
Barcla the Hoard laughed.
"But, of course, Governor, did I not say that you will need more money to maintain activity as your economy grows and develops?"
"Yeah, now you come to mention it, you did."
"There you are then!"
"Yeah, I guess, and you said that if ever we'd need more money, we'd only got to ask. Does that still hold?"
"My dear fellow, of course! How much more do you need?"
Barcla the Hoard had thought about the likelihood of a request for a further loan. It would mean that the day when he secured control over the planet would be delayed by a few years, but it would mean that when he did, it would be even more highly developed. Once they finally became his debt-slaves, they might prove to be troublesome and intractable. Far better if they were allowed to develop the delusion that they were working for their own well-being, as they would work all the harder.
"Well, I ain't too sure, Mr Barcla, sir."
"Do you think that another thousand would be sufficient?"
"Another whole thousand? Are you sure, sir?"
"Think of the future, Governor, your continued growth and expansion!"
"Yessirree. We're going west, Mr Barcla, sir!"
"You certainly are, Governor, you certainly are!"