A young woman is with an archaeology team on a strange planet. They are there with government permission, but some of the natives object to aliens digging up their past. Some of the most aggressive sneak into the dig and capture her while she sleeps. She wakes in a boat floating down a river. Someone had stowed a lot of supplies in the boat, so after she wakes, and realises she is heading for a tall cataract, she manages to steer the boat to shore.
She retrieves the supplies and sends the boat off to crash over the falls. By the time she made her way up from the river bank, it is late, so she sets up camp and settles for the night. She is wakened by the sound of yipping and howling and something circling the tent. When she peeks out, she sees natives dancing around. One sees her and forces her to come out of the tent.
They travel to the Capitol city and to the government. There she is greeted warmly and promised help for herself and the archaeologists. Unwrapping a cloth bundle, she reveals a small statuette; she had been told to keep it safe, and secret. She presents it to the Flxl (president) and all in the room go to their knees in awe.
The story continues:
Slowly I knelt too. The atmosphere of reverence and awe in the room was so strong, I could do nothing else.
The next day there was a big ceremony of thanksgiving for the restoration of their lost God. It was an impressive rite, and full of light, colour and music; I was overawed by the beauty of it all. When the ceremony was over, there was a great feast that included everyone, from the Flxl and his governing body down to the meanest beggar. The feast lasted all afternoon and on into the early hours of the next day. I couldn’t stay for more than a couple of hours after sunset. I was just too tired after the long journey and the excitement of the ceremony and feast. I felt overstuffed with the delicious food, and was falling asleep where I sat.
The warrior who had interpreted for me at the campsite and on the journey told me it would be all right to leave. He walked with me to government house and saw me safely to my room. I thanked him for his help, went in and closed the door. The room was prepared for me, even to a pale green linen bed robe spread over the foot of the bed. I had a quick bath, slipped into the robe, and settled in the bed. I was asleep almost before my head touched the pillow.
I was up early in the morning, and a maid came to take me to the dining room, where the Flxl and his wife were breaking their fast. “Good morning Miss Longwell, I hope you are well rested,” the Flxl said, smiling. “Please join us.” He indicated a cushion beside the low table.
“Yes, thank you, I had a very restful sleep and am ready for whatever you have planned for the day.” I sat on the cushion and helped myself from dishes of food a servant offered. We chatted about the plans as we ate. We would be leaving for the archaeology site in two days, with a large contingent of warriors. Flxl was determined to put an end to the dissidents and the trouble they were causing. I was glad that Dr. Alexander and the others would soon have help, and I was anxious to get back to the dig. They had started finding some extraordinary things, the small statue only a small indication of what was there to be found.
The journey went quickly, as we traveled most of the way on the river. We arrived to find the site surrounded by angry natives, the team trying to protect the tents and artifacts with shovels, rakes and other tools, as well as pieces of firewood. Two of the men had pistols and apparently they had shot and wounded a couple of the natives. The noise and injuries they made had frightened the natives and what we found was a standoff. When the Flxl landed, he and four warriors approached the leaders of the dissidents. The rest of the warriors spread out and stood ready. Flxl talked to the leaders, arguing with them and ordered them to put down their weapons. They argued, but the fear of the pistols weakened their determination, and when the Flxl told them of the statuette I had taken to him, they surrendered.
I went to Dr. Alexander and was given a warm welcome back. I gave a short description of the events in the city, and he told me they had just started to uncover something that he thought was an even more important find. The Flxl came over and Dr. Alexander told him about it, and took him to the site. He became very excited, and offered the help of all his men to complete the digging.
They were eager to help, and listened to instructions carefully. In three days, the treasure was revealed. It was the remainder of a temple; in the one room that was almost whole, there was a full sized replica of the small statuette. Even the dissidents were awe struck, and joined in the impromptu rite of celebration and praise. A week later, the temple was cleared and rebuilding had commenced. Four priests had been sent for, and they supervised the work.
A month later, people from all over the world, a huge gathering, was there for the rededication of the restored temple. It was an even more impressive ceremony than the one I had witnessed in the city. We were honoured for our work in uncovering this lost part of their culture, and allowed to take a good selection of artifacts away with us. We also arranged for representatives of the United Galaxy Federation to come and work out a trade agreement.
We left the planet a week after the temple dedication, and a cheering throng gathered as close to the spaceport as safety allowed, to see us off. I had had a chance to say goodbye to my rescuers, and to give their leader and the interpreter each a brooch, one in the likeness of an Eagle and the other a falcon. They were pleased with them, and pinned hem to their vests after I showed them how. As the ship lifted off, I made up my mind that I would be back. The people and the planet fascinated me.