18. The Music Festival




      LUNCH was in the same dining room in which they had had breakfast. It was full of Alphans, and with them were Trevize and Pelorat, made thoroughly welcome. Bliss and Fallom ate separately, and more or less privately, in a small annex.

            There were several varieties of fish, together with soup in which there were strips of what might well have been boiled kid. Loaves of bread were there for the slicing, butter and jam for the spreading. A salad, large and diffuse, came afterward, and there was a notable absence of any dessert, although fruit juices were passed about in apparently inexhaustible pitchers. Both Foundationers were forced to be abstemious after their heavy breakfast, but everyone else seemed to eat freely.

            “How do they keep from getting fat?” wondered Pelorat in a low voice.

            Trevize shrugged. “Lots of physical labor, perhaps.”

            It was clearly a society in which decorum at meals was not greatly valued. There was a miscellaneous hubbub of shouting, laughing, and thumping on the table with thick, obviously unbreakable, cups. Women were as loud and raucous as men, albeit in higher pitch.

            Pelorat winced, but Trevize, who now (temporarily, at least) felt no trace of the discomfort he had spoken of to Hiroko, felt both relaxed and good-natured.

            He said, “Actually, it has its pleasant side. These are people who appear to enjoy life and who have few, if any, cares. Weather is what they make it and food is unimaginably plentiful. This is a golden age for them that simply continues and continues.”

            He had to shout to make himself heard, and Pelorat shouted back, “But it’s so noisy.”

            “They’re used to it.”

            “I don’t see how they can understand each other in this riot.”

            Certainly, it was all lost on the two Foundationers. The queer pronunciation and the archaic grammar and word order of the Alphan language made it impossible to understand at the intense sound levels. To the Foundationers, it was like listening to the sounds of a zoo in fright.

            It was not till after lunch that they rejoined Bliss in a small structure, which Trevize found to be rather inconsiderably different from Hiroko’s quarters, and which had been assigned them as their own temporary living quarters. Fallom was in the second room, enormously relieved to be alone, according to Bliss, and attempting to nap.

            Pelorat looked at the door-gap in the wall and said uncertainly, “There’s very little privacy here. How can we speak freely?”

            “I assure you,” said Trevize, “that once we pull the canvas barrier across the door, we won’t be disturbed. The canvas makes it impenetrable by all the force of social custom.”

            Pelorat glanced at the high, open windows. “We can be overheard.”

            “We need not shout. The Alphans won’t eavesdrop. Even when they stood outside the windows of the dining room at breakfast, they remained at a respectful distance.”

            Bliss smiled. “You’ve learned so much about Alphan customs in the time you spent alone with gentle little Hiroko, and you’ve gained such confidence in their respect for privacy. What happened?”

            Trevize said, “If you’re aware that the tendrils of my mind have undergone a change for the better and can guess the reason, I can only ask you to leave my mind alone.”

            “You know very well that Gaia will not touch your mind under any circumstances short of life-crisis, and you know why. Still, I’m not mentally blind. I could sense what happened a kilometer away. Is this your invariable custom on space voyages, my erotomaniac friend?”

            “Erotomaniac? Come, Bliss. Twice on this entire trip. Twice!”

            “We were only on two worlds that had functioning human females on them. Two out of two, and we had only been a few hours on each.”

            “You are well aware I had no choice on Comporellon.”

            “That makes sense. I remember what she looked like.” For a few moments, Bliss dissolved in laughter. Then she said, “Yet I don’t think Hiroko held you helpless in her mighty grip, or inflicted her irresistible will on your cringing body.”

            “Of course not. I was perfectly willing. But it was her suggestion, just the same.”

            Pelorat said, with just a tinge of envy in his voice, “Does this happen to you all the time, Golan?”

            “Of course it must, Pel,” said Bliss. “Women are helplessly drawn to him.”

            “I wish that were so,” said Trevize, “but it isn’t. And I’m glad it isn’t-I do have other things I want to do in life. Just the same, in this case I was irresistible. After all,-we were the first people from another world that Hiroko had ever seen or, apparently, that anyone now alive on Alpha had ever seen: I gathered from things she let slip, casual remarks, that she had the rather exciting notion that I might be different from Alphans, either anatomically or in my technique. Poor thing. I’m-afraid she was disappointed.”

            “Oh?” said Bliss. “Were you?”

            “No,” said Trevize. “I have been on a number of worlds and I have had my experiences. And what I had discovered is that people are people and sex is sex, wherever one goes. If there are noticeable differences, they are usually both trivial and unpleasant. The perfumes I’ve encountered in my time! I remember when a young woman simply couldn’t manage unless there was music loudly played, music that consisted of a desperate screeching sound. So she played the music and then I couldn’t manage. I assure you-if it’s the same old thing, then I’m satisfied.”

            “Speaking of music,” said Bliss, “we are invited to a musicale after dinner. A very formal thing, apparently, that is being held in our honor. I gather the Alphans are very proud of their music.”

            Trevize grimaced. “Their pride will in no way make the music sound better to our ears.”

            “Hear me out,” said Bliss. “I gather that their pride is that they play expertly on very archaic instruments. Very archaic. We may get some information about Earth by way of them.”

            Trevize’s eyebrows shot up. “An interesting thought. And that reminds me that both of you may already have information. Janov, did you see this Monolee that Hiroko told us about?”

            “Indeed I did,” said Pelorat. “I was with him for three hours and Hiroko did not exaggerate. It was a virtual monologue on his part and when I left to come to lunch, he clung to me and would not let me go until I promised to return whenever I could in order that I might listen to him some more.”

            “And did he say anything of interest?”

            “Well, he, too-like everybody else-insisted that Earth was thoroughly and murderously radioactive; that the ancestors of the Alphans were the last to leave and that if they hadn’t, they would have died.-And, Golan, he was so emphatic that I couldn’t help believing him. I’m convinced that Earth is dead, and that our entire search is, after all, useless.”




            TREVIZE sat back in his chair, staring at Pelorat, who was sitting on a narrow cot. Bliss, having risen from where she had been sitting next to Pelorat, looked from one to the other.

            Finally, Trevize said, “Let me be the judge as to whether our search is useless or not, Janov. Tell me what the garrulous old man had to say to you-in brief, of course.”

            Pelorat said, “I took notes as Monolee spoke. It helped reinforce my role a scholar, but I don’t have to refer to them. He was quite stream-of-consciousness in his speaking. Each thing he said would remind him of something else, but, of course, I have spent my life trying to organize information in the search of the relevant and significant, so that it’s second nature for me now to be able to condense a long and incoherent discourse-”

            Trevize said gently, “Into something just as long and incoherent? To the point, dear Janov.”

            Pelorat cleared his throat uneasily. “Yes, certainly, old chap. I’ll try to make a connected and chronological tale out of it. Earth was the original home of humanity and of millions of species of plants and animals. It continued so for countless years until hyperspatial travel was invented. Then the Spacer worlds were founded. They broke away from Earth, developed their own cultures, and came to despise and oppress the mother planet.

            “After a couple of centuries of this, Earth managed to regain its freedom, though Monolee did not explain the exact manner in which this was done, and I dared not ask questions, even if he had given me a chance to interrupt, which he did not, for that might merely have sent him into new byways. He did mention a culture-hero named Elijah Baley, but the references were so characteristic of the habit of attributing to one figure the accomplishments of generations that there was little value in attempting to-”

            Bliss said, “Yes, Pel dear, we understand that part.”

            Again, Pelorat paused in midstream and reconsidered. “Of course. My apologies. Earth initiated a second wave of settlements, founding many new worlds in a new fashion. The new group of Settlers proved more vigorous than the Spacers, outpaced them, defeated them, outlasted them, and, eventually, established the Galactic Empire. During the course of the wars between the Settlers and the Spacers-no, not wars, for he used the word ‘conflict,’ being very careful about that-the Earth became radioactive.”

            Trevize said, with clear annoyance, “That’s ridiculous, Janov. How can a world become radioactive? Every world is very slightly radioactive to one degree or another from the moment of formation, and that radioactivity slowly decays. It doesn’t become radioactive.”

            Pelorat shrugged. “I’m only telling you what he said. And he was only telling me what he had heard-from someone who only told him what he had heard-and so on. It’s folk-history, told and retold over the generations, with who knows what distortions creeping in at each retelling.”

            “I understand that, but are there no books, documents, ancient histories which have frozen the story at an early time and which could give us something more accurate than the present tale?”

            “Actually, I managed to ask that question, and the answer is no. He said vaguely that there were books about it in ancient times and that they had long ago been lost, but that what he was telling us was what had been in those books.”

            “Yes, well distorted. It’s the same story. In every world we go to, the records of Earth have, in one way or another, disappeared.-Well, how did he say the radioactivity began on Earth?”

            “He didn’t, in any detail. The closest he came to saying so was that the Spacers were responsible, but then I gathered that the Spacers were the demons on whom the people of Earth blamed all misfortune. The radioactivity-”

            A clear voice overrode him here. “Bliss, am I a Spacer?”

            Fallom was standing in the narrow doorway between the two rooms, hair tousled and the nightgown she was wearing (designed to fit Bliss’s more ample proportions) having slid off one shoulder to reveal an undeveloped breast.

            Bliss said, “We worry about eavesdroppers outside and we forget the one inside.-Now, Fallom, why do you say that?” She rose and walked toward the youngster.

            Fallom said, “I don’t have what they have,” she pointed at the two men, “or what you have, Bliss. I’m different. Is that because I’m a Spacer?”

            “You are, Fallom,” said Bliss soothingly, “but little differences don’t matter. Come back to bed.”

            Fallom became submissive as she always did when Bliss willed her to be so. She turned and said, “Am I a demon? What is a demon?”

            Bliss said over her shoulder, “Wait one moment for me. I’ll be right back.”

            She was, within five minutes. She was shaking her head. “She’ll be sleeping now till I wake her. I should have done that before, I suppose, but any modification of the mind must be the result of necessity.” She added defensively, “I can’t have her brood on the differences between her genital equipment and ours.”

            Pelorat said, “Someday she’ll have to know she’s hermaphroditic.”

            “Someday,” said Bliss, “but not now. Go on with the story, Pel.”

            “Yes,” said Trevize, “before something else interrupts us.”

            “Well, Earth became radioactive, or at least its crust did. At that time, Earth had had an enormous population that was centered in huge cities that existed for the most part underground-”

            “Now, that,” put in Trevize, “is surely not so. “It must be local patriotism glorifying the golden age of a planet, and the details were simply a distortion of Trantor in its golden age, when it was the Imperial capital of a Galaxy-wide system of worlds.”

            Pelorat paused, then said, “Really, Golan, you mustn’t teach me my business. We mythologists know very well that myths and legends contain borrowings, moral lessons, nature cycles, and a hundred other distorting influences, and we labor to cut them away and get to what might be a kernel of truth. In fact, these same techniques must be applied to the most sober histories, for no one writes the clear and apparent truth-if such a thing can even be said to exist. For now, I’m telling you more or less what Monolee told me, though I suppose I am adding distortions of my own, try as I might not to do so.”

            “Well, well,” said Trevize. “Go on, Janov. I meant no offense.”

            “And I’ve taken none. The huge cities, assuming they existed, crumbled and shrank as the radioactivity slowly grew more intense until the population was but a remnant of what it had been, clinging precariously to regions that were relatively radiation-free. The population was kept down by rigid birth control and by the euthanasia of people over sixty.”

            “Horrible,” said Bliss indignantly.

            “Undoubtedly,” said Pelorat, “but that is what they did, according to Monolee, and that might be true, for it is certainly not complimentary to the Earthpeople and it is not likely that an uncomplimentary lie would be made up. The Earthpeople, having been despised and oppressed by the Spacers, were now despised and oppressed by the Empire, though here we may have exaggeration there out of self-pity, which is a very seductive emotion. There is the case-”

            “Yes, yes, Pelorat, another time. Please go on with Earth.”

            “I beg your pardon. The Empire, in a fit of benevolence, agreed to substitute imported radiation-free soil and to cart away the contaminated soil. Needless to say, that was an enormous task which the Empire soon tired of, especially as this period (if my guess is right) coincided with the fall of Kandar V, after which the Empire had many more things to worry about than Earth.

            “The radioactivity continued to grow more intense, the population continued to fall, and finally the Empire, in another fit of benevolence, offered to transplant the remnant of the population to a new world of their own-to this world, in short.

            “At an earlier period, it seems an expedition had stocked the ocean so that by the time ‘the plans for the transplantation of Earthpeople were being developed, there was a full oxygen atmosphere and an ample supply of food on Alpha. Nor did any of the worlds of the Galactic Empire covet this world because there is a certain natural antipathy to planets that circle stars of a binary system. There are so few suitable planets in such a system, I suppose, that even suitable ones are rejected because of the assumption that there must be something wrong with them. This is a common thought-fashion. There is the well-known case, for instance, of-”

            “Later with the well-known case, Janov,” said Trevize. “On with the transplantation.”

            “What remained,” said Pelorat, hurrying his words a little, “was to prepare a land-base. The shallowest part of the ocean was found and sediment was raised from deeper parts to add to the shallow sea-bottom and, finally, to produce the island of New Earth. Boulders and coral were dredged up and added to the island. Land plants were seeded so that root systems might help make the new land firm. Again, the Empire had set itself an enormous task. Perhaps continents were planned at first, but by the time this one island was produced, the Empire’s moment of benevolence had passed.

            “What was left of Earth’s population was brought here. The Empire’s fleets carried off its men and machinery, and they never returned. The Earthpeople, living on New Earth, found themselves in complete isolation.”

            Trevize said, “Complete? Did Monolee say that no one from elsewhere in the Galaxy has ever come here till we did?”

            “Almost complete,” said Pelorat. “There is nothing to come here for, I suppose, even if we set aside the superstitious distaste for binary systems. Occasionally, at long intervals, a ship would come, as ours did, but it would eventually leave and there has never been a follow-up. And that’s it.”

            Trevize said, “Did you ask Monolee where Earth was located?”

            “Of course I asked that. He didn’t know.”

            “How can he know so much about Earth’s history without knowing where it is located?”

            “I asked him specifically, Golan, if the star that was only a parsec or so distant from Alpha might be the sun about which Earth revolved. He didn’t know what a parsec was, and I said it was a short distance, astronomically speaking. He said, short or long, he did not know where Earth was located and he didn’t know anyone who knew, and, in his opinion, it was wrong to try to find it. It should be allowed, he said, to move endlessly through space in peace.”

            Trevize said, “Do you agree with him?”

            Pelorat shook his head sorrowfully. “Not really. But he said that at the rate the radioactivity continued to increase, the planet must have become totally uninhabitable not long after the transplantation took place and that by now it must be burning intensely so that no one can approach.”

            “Nonsense,” said Trevize firmly. “A planet cannot become radioactive and, having done so, continuously increase in radioactivity. Radioactivity can only decrease.”

            “But Monolee is so sure of it. So many people we’ve talked to on various worlds unite in this-that Earth is radioactive. Surely, it is useless to go on.”




            TREVIZE drew a deep breath, then said, in a carefully controlled voice, “Nonsense, Janov. That’s not true.”

            Pelorat said, “Well, now, old chap, you mustn’t believe something just because you want to believe it.”

            “My wants have nothing to do with it. In world after world we find all records of Earth wiped out. Why should they be. wiped out if there is nothing to hide; if Earth is a dead, radioactive world that cannot be approached?”

            “I don’t know, Golan.”

            “Yes, you do. When we were approaching Melpomenia, you said that the radioactivity might be the other side of the coin. Destroy records to remove accurate information; supply the tale of radioactivity to insert inaccurate information. Both would discourage any attempt to find Earth, and we mustn’t be deluded into discouragement.”

            Bliss said, “Actually, you seem to think the nearby star is Earth’s sun. Why, then, continue to argue the question of radioactivity? What does it matter? Why not simply go to the nearby star and see if it is Earth, and, if so, what it is like?”

            Trevize said, “Because those on Earth must be, in their way, extraordinarily powerful, and I would prefer to approach with some knowledge of the world and its inhabitants. As it is, since I continue to remain ignorant of Earth, approaching it is dangerous. It is my notion that I leave the rest of you here on Alpha and that I proceed to Earth by myself. One life is quite enough to risk.”

            “No, Golan,” said Pelorat earnestly. “Bliss and the child might wait here, but I must go with you. I have been searching for Earth since before you were born and I cannot stay behind when the goal is so close, whatever dangers might threaten.”

            “Bliss and the child will not wait here,” said Bliss. “I am Gaia, and Gaia can protect us even against Earth.”

            “I hope you’re right,” said Trevize gloomily, “but Gaia could not prevent the elimination of all early memories of Earth’s role in its founding.”

            “That was done in Gaia’s early history when it was not yet well organized, not yet advanced. Matters are different now.”

            “I hope that is so.-Or is it that you have gained information about Earth this morning that we don’t have? I did ask that you speak to some of the older women that might be available here.”

            “And so I did.”

            Trevize said, “And what did you find out?”

            “Nothing about Earth. There is a total blank there.”


            “But they are advanced biotechnologists.” ,


            “On this small island, they have grown and tested innumerable strains of plants and animals and designed a suitable ecological balance, stable and self. supporting, despite the few species with which they began. They have improved on the ocean life that they found when they arrived here a few thousand years ago, increasing their nutritive value and improving their taste. It is their biotechnology that has made this world such a cornucopia of plenty. They have plans for themselves, too.”

            “What kind of plans?”

            Bliss said, “They know perfectly well they cannot reasonably expect to expand their range under present circumstances, confined as they are to the one small patch of land that exists on their world, but they dream of becoming amphibious.”

            “Of becoming what?

            “Amphibious. They plan to develop gills in addition to lungs. They dream of being able to spend substantial periods of time underwater; of finding shallow regions and building structures on the ocean bottom. My informant was quite glowing about it but she admitted that this had been a goal of the Alphans for some centuries now and that little, if any, progress has been made.”

            Trevize said, “That’s two fields in which they might be more advanced than we are; weather control and biotechnology. I wonder what their techniques are.”

            “We’d have to find specialists,” said Bliss, “and they might not be willing to talk about it.”

            Trevize said, “It’s not our primary concern here, but it would clearly pay the Foundation to attempt to learn from this miniature world.”

            Pelorat said, “We manage to control the weather fairly well on Terminus, as it is.”

            “Control is good on many worlds,” said Trevize, “but always it’s a matter of the world as a whole. Here the Alphans control the weather of a small portion of the world and they must have techniques we don’t have.-Anything else, Bliss?”

            “Social invitations. These appear to be a holiday-making people, in whatever time they can take from farming and fishing. After dinner, tonight there’ll be a music festival. I told you about that already. Tomorrow, during the day, there will be a beach festival. Apparently, all around the rim of the island there will be a congregation of everyone who can get away from the fields in order that they might enjoy the water and celebrate the sun, since it will be raining the next day. In the morning, the fishing fleet will come back, beating the rain, and by evening there will be a food festival, sampling the catch.”

            Pelorat groaned. “The meals are ample enough as it is. What would a food festival be like?”

            “I gather that it will feature not quantity, but variety. In any case, all four of us are invited to participate in all the festivals, especially the music festival tonight.”

            “On the antique instruments?” asked Trevize.

            “That’s right.”

            “What makes them antique, by the way? Primitive computers?”

            “No, no. That’s the point. It isn’t electronic music at all, but mechanical. They described it to me. They scrape strings, blow in tubes, and bang on surfaces.”

            “I hope you’re making that up,” said Trevize, appalled.

            “No, I’m not. And I understand that your Hiroko will be blowing on one of the tubes-I forget its name-and you ought to be able to endure that.”

            “As for myself,” said Pelorat, “I would love to go. I know very little about primitive music and I would like to hear it.”

            “She is not ‘my Hiroko,’ “ said Trevize coldly. “But are the instruments of the type once used on Earth, do you suppose?”

            “So I gathered,” said Bliss. “At least the Alphan women said they were designed long before their ancestors came here.”

            “In that case,” said Trevize, “it may be worth listening to all that scraping, tootling, and banging, for whatever information it might conceivably yield concerning Earth.”




            ODDLY enough, it was Fallom who was most excited at the prospect of a musical evening. She and Bliss had bathed in the small outhouse behind their quarters. It had a bath with running water, hot and cold (or, rather, warm and cool), a washbowl, and a commode. It was totally clean and usable and, in the late afternoon sun, it was even well lit and cheerful.

            As always, Fallom was fascinated with Bliss’s breasts and Bliss was reduced to saying (now that Fallom understood Galactic) that on her world that was the way people were. To which Fallom said, inevitably, “Why?” and Bliss, after some thought, deciding there was no sensible way of answering, returned the universal reply, “Because!”

            When they were done, Bliss helped Fallom put on the undergarment supplied them by the Alphans and worked out the system whereby the skirt went on over it. Leaving Fallom unclothed from the waist up seemed reasonable enough. She herself, while making use of Alphan garments below the waist (rather tight about the hips), put on her own blouse. It seemed silly to be too inhibited to expose breasts in a society where all women did, especially since her own were not large and were as shapely as any she had seen but-there it was.

            The two men took their turn at the outhouse next, Trevize muttering the usual male complaint concerning the time the women had taken.

            Bliss turned Fallom about to make sure the skirt would hold in place over her boyish hips and buttocks. She said, “It’s a very pretty skirt, Fallom. Do you like it?”

            Fallom stared at it in a mirror and said, “Yes, I do. Won’t I be cold with nothing on, though?” and she ran her hands down her bare chest.

            “I don’t think so, Fallom. It’s quite warm on this world.”

           You have something on.”

            “Yes, I do. That’s how it is on my world. Now, Fallom, we’re going to be with a great many Alphans during dinner and afterward. Do you think you can bear that?”

            Fallom looked distressed, and Bliss went on, “I will sit on your right side and I will hold you. Pel will sit on the other side, and Trevize will sit across the table from you. We won’t let anyone talk to you, and you won’t have to talk to anyone.”

            “I’ll try, Bliss,” Fallom piped in her highest tones.

            “Then afterward,” said Bliss, “some Alphans will make music for us in their own special way. Do you know what music is?” She hummed in the best imitation of electronic harmony that she could.

            Fallom’s face lit up. “You mean-“ The last word was in her own language, and she burst into song.

            Bliss’s eyes widened. It was a beautiful tune, even though it was wild, and rich in trills. “That’s right. Music,” she said.

            Fallom said excitedly, “Jemby made”-she hesitated, then decided to use the Galactic word-”music all the time. It made music on a “ Again a word in her own language.

            Bliss repeated the word doubtfully, “On a feeful?”

            Fallom laughed. “Not feeful, -“

            With both words juxtaposed like that, Bliss could hear the difference, but she despaired of reproducing the second. She said, “What does it look like?”

            Fallom’s as yet limited vocabulary in Galactic did not suffice for an accurate description, and her gestures did not produce any shape clearly in Bliss’s mind.

            “He showed me how to use the “ Fallom said proudly. “I used my fingers just the way Jemby did, but it said that soon I wouldn’t have to.”

            “That’s wonderful, dear,” said Bliss. “After dinner, we’ll see if the Alphans are as good as your Jemby was.”

            Fallom’s eyes sparkled and pleasant thoughts of what was to follow carried her through a lavish dinner despite the crowds and laughter and noise all about her. Only once, when a dish was accidentally upset, setting off shrieks of excitement fairly close to them, did Fallom look frightened, and Bliss promptly held her close in a warm and protective hug.

            “I wonder if we can arrange to eat by ourselves,” she muttered to Pelorat. “Otherwise, we’ll have to get off this world. It’s bad enough eating all this Isolate animal protein, but I must be able to do it in peace.”

            “It’s only high spirits,” said Pelorat, who would have endured anything within reason that he felt came under the heading of primitive behavior and beliefs.

            -And then the dinner was over, and the announcement came that the music festival would soon begin.




            THE HALL in which the music festival was to be held was about as large as the dining room, and there were folding seats (rather uncomfortable, Trevize found out) for about a hundred fifty people. As honored guests, the visitors were led to the front row, and various Alphans commented politely and favorably on their clothes.

            Both men were bare above the waist and Trevize tightened his abdominal muscles whenever he thought of it and stared down, on occasion, with complacent self-admiration at his dark-haired chest. Pelorat, in his ardent observation of everything about him, was indifferent to his own appearance. Bliss’s blouse drew covert stares of puzzlement but nothing was said concerning it.

            Trevize noted that the hall was only about half-full and that the large majority of the audience were women, since, presumably, so many men were out to sea.

            Pelorat nudged Trevize and whispered, “They have electricity.”

            Trevize looked at the vertical tubes on the walls, and at others on the ceiling. They were softly luminous.

            “Fluorescence,” he said. “Quite primitive.”

            “Yes, but they do the job, and we’ve got those things in our rooms and in the outhouse. I thought they were just decorative. If we can find out how to work them, we won’t have to stay in the dark.”

            Bliss said irritably, “They might have told us.”

            Pelorat said, “They thought we’d know; that anyone would know.”

            Four women now emerged from behind screens and seated themselves in a group in the space at the front. Each held an instrument of varnished wood of a similar shape, but one that was not easily describable. The instruments were chiefly different in size. One was quite small, two somewhat larger, and the fourth considerably larger. Each woman also held a long rod in the other hand.

            The audience whistled softly as they came in, in response to which the four women bowed. Each had a strip of gauze bound fairly tightly across the breasts as though to keep them from interfering with the instrument.

            Trevize, interpreting the whistles as signs of approval, or of pleased anticipation, felt it only polite to add his own. At that, Fallom added a trill that was far more than a whistle and that was beginning to attract attention when pressure from Bliss’s hand stopped her.

            Three of the women, without preparation, put their instruments under their chins, while the largest of the instruments remained between the legs of the fourth woman and rested on the floor. The long rod in the right hand of each was sawed across the strings stretching nearly the length of the instrument, while the fingers of the left hand shifted rapidly along the upper ends of those strings.

            This, thought Trevize, was the “scraping” he had expected, but it didn’t sound like scraping at all. There was a soft and melodious succession of notes; each instrument doing something of its own and the whole fusing pleasantly.

            It lacked the infinite complexity of electronic music (“real music,” as Trevize could not help but think of it) and there was a distinct sameness to it. Still, as time passed, and his ear grew accustomed to this odd system of sound, he began to pick out subtleties. It was wearisome to have to do so, and he thought, longingly, of the clamor and mathematical precision and purity of the real thing, but it occurred to him that if he listened to the music of these simple wooden devices long enough he might well grow to like it.

            It was not till the concert was some forty-five minutes old that Hiroko stepped out. She noticed Trevize in the front row at once and smiled at him. He joined the audience in the soft whistle of approval with a whole heart. She looked beautiful in a long and most elaborate skirt, a large flower in her hair, and nothing at all over her breasts since (apparently) there was no danger of their interference with the instrument.

            Her instrument proved to be a dark wooden tube about two thirds of a meter long and nearly two centimeters thick. She lifted the instrument to her lips and blew across an opening near one end, producing a thin, sweet note that wavered in pitch as her fingers manipulated metal objects along the length of the tube.

            At the first sound, Fallom clutched at Bliss’s arm and said, “Bliss, that’s a “ and the word sounded like “feeful” to Bliss.

            Bliss shook her head firmly at Fallom, who said, in a lower voice, “But it is!”

            Others were looking in Fallom’s direction. Bliss put her hand firmly over Fallom’s mouth, and leaned down to mutter an almost subliminally forceful “Quiet!” into her ear.

            Fallom listened to Hiroko’s playing quietly thereafter, but her fingers moved spasmodically, as though they were operating the objects along the length of the instrument.

            The final player in the concert was an elderly man who had an instrument with fluted sides suspended over his shoulders. He pulled it in and out while one hand flashed across a succession of white and dark objects at one end, pressing them down in groups.

            Trevize found this sound particularly wearing, rather barbaric, and unpleasantly like the memory of the barking of the dogs on Aurora-not that the sound was like barking, but the emotions it gave rise to were similar. Bliss looked as though she would like to place her hands over her ears, and Pelorat had a frown on his face. Only Fallom seemed to enjoy it, for she was tapping her foot lightly, and Trevize, when he noticed that, realized, to his own surprise, that there was a beat to the music that matched Fallom’s footfall.

            It came to an end at last and there was a perfect storm of whistling, with Fallom’s trill clearly heard above it all.

            Then the audience broke up into small conversational groups and became as loud and raucous as Alphans seemed to be on all public occasions. The various individuals who had played in the concert stood about in front of the room and spoke to those people who came up to congratulate them.

            Fallom evaded Bliss’s grasp and ran up to Hiroko.

            “Hiroko,” she cried out, gaspingly. “Let me see the-“

            “The what, dear one?” said Hiroko.

            “The thing you made the music with.”

            “Oh.” Hiroko laughed. “That’s a flute, little one.”

            “May I see it?”

            “Well.” Hiroko opened a case and took out the instrument. It was in three parts, but she put it together quickly, held it toward Fallom with the mouthpiece near her lips, and said, “There, blow thou thy breath across this.”

            “I know. I know,” said Fallom eagerly, and reached for the flute.

            Automatically, Hiroko snatched it away and held it high. “Blow, child, but touch not.”

            Fallom seemed disappointed. “May I just look at it, then? I won’t touch it.”

            “Certainly, dear one.”

            She held out the flute again and Fallom stared at it earnestly.

            And then, the fluorescent lighting in the room dimmed very slightly, and the sound of a flute’s note, a little uncertain and wavering, made itself heard.

            Hiroko, in surprise, nearly dropped the flute, and Fallom cried out, “I did it. I did it. Jemby said someday I could do it.”

            Hiroko said, “Was it thou that made the sound?”

            “Yes, I did. I did.”

            “But how didst thou do so, child?”

            Bliss said, red with embarrassment, “I’m sorry, Hiroko. I’ll take her away.”

            “No,” said Hiroko. “I wish her to do it again.”   -

            A few of the nearest Alphans had gathered to watch. Fallom furrowed her brow as though trying hard. The fluorescents dimmed rather more than before, and again there was the note of the flute, this time pure and steady. Then it became erratic as the metal objects along the length of the flute moved of their own accord.

            “It’s a little different from the     “ Fallom said, a little breathlessly, as though the breath that had been activating the flute had been her own instead of power-driven air.

            Pelorat said to Trevize, “She must be getting the energy from the electric current that feeds the fluorescents.”

            “Try again,” said Hiroko in a choked voice.

            Fallom closed her eyes. The note was softer now and under firmer control. The flute played by itself, maneuvered by no fingers, but moved by distant energy, transduced through the still immature lobes of Fallom’s brain. The notes which began as almost random settled into a musical succession and now everyone in the hall had gathered around Hiroko and Fallom, as Hiroko held the flute gently with thumb and forefinger at either end, and Fallom, eyes closed, directed the current of air and the movement of the keys.

            “It’s the piece I played,” whispered Hiroko.

            “I remember it,” said Fallom, nodding her head slightly, trying not to break her concentration.

            “Thou didst not miss a note,” said Hiroko, when it was done.

            “But it’s not right, Hiroko. You didn’t do it right.”

            Bliss said, “Fallom! That’s not polite. You mustn’t-”

            “Please,” said Hiroko peremptorily, “do not interfere. Why is it not right, child?”

            “Because I would play it differently.”

            “Show me, then.”

            Again the flute played, but in more complicated fashion, for the forces that pushed the keys did so more quickly, in more rapid succession and in more elaborate combinations than before. The music was more complex, and infinitely more emotional and moving. Hiroko stood rigid and there was not a sound to be heard anywhere in the room.

            Even after Fallom had finished playing, there was not a sound until Hiroko drew a deep breath and said, “Little one, hast thou ever played that before?”

            “No,” said Fallom, “before this I could only use my fingers, and I can’t do my fingers like that.” Then, simply and with no trace of vaunting, “No one can.”

            “Canst thou play anything else?”

            “I can make something up.”

            “Dost thou mean-improvise?”

            Fallom frowned at the word and looked toward Bliss. Bliss nodded and Fallom said, “Yes.”

            “Please do so, then,” said Hiroko.

            Fallom paused and thought for a minute or two, then began slowly, in a very simple succession of notes, the whole being rather dreamy. The fluorescent lights dimmed and brightened as the amount of power exerted intensified and faded. No one seemed to notice, for it seemed to be the effect of the music rather than the cause, as though a ghostly electrical spirit were obeying the dictates of the sound waves.

            The combination of notes then repeated itself a bit more loudly, then a bit more complexly, then in variations that, without ever losing the clearly heard basic combination, became more stirring and more exciting until it was almost impossible to breathe. And finally, it descended much more rapidly than it had ascended and did so with the effect of a swooping dive that brought the listeners to ground level even while they still retained the feeling that they were high in the air.

            There followed sheer pandemonium that split the air, and even Trevize, who was used to a totally different kind of music, thought sadly, “And now 17’11 never hear that again.”

            When a most reluctant quiet had returned, Hiroko held out her flute. “Here, Fallom, this is thine!”

            Fallom reached for it eagerly, but Bliss caught hold of the child’s outstretched arm and said, “We can’t take it, Hiroko. It’s a valuable instrument.”

            “I have another, Bliss. Not quite as good, but that is how it should be. This instrument belongeth to the person who playeth it best. Never have I heard such music and it would be wrong for me to own an instrument I cannot use to full potential. Would that I knew how the instrument could be made to play without being touched.”

            Fallom took the flute and, with an expression of deep content, held it tightly to her chest.




            EACH OF the two rooms of their quarters were lit by one fluorescent light. The outhouse had a third. The lights were dim, and were uncomfortable to read by, but at least the rooms were no longer dark.

            Yet they now lingered outside. The sky was full of stars, something that was always fascinating to a native of Terminus, where the night sky was all but starless and in which only the faint foreshortened cloud of the Galaxy was prominent.

            Hiroko had accompanied them back to their chambers for fear they would get lost in the dark, or that they would stumble. All the way back, she held Fallom’s hand, and then, after lighting the fluorescents for them, remained outside with them, still clutching at the youngster.

            Bliss tried again, for it was clear to her that Hiroko was in a state of a difficult conflict of emotions. “Really, Hiroko, we cannot take your flute.”

            “No, Fallom must have it.” But she seemed on edge just the same.

            Trevize continued to look at the sky. The night was truly dark, a darkness that was scarcely affected by the trickle of light from their own chambers; and much less so by the tiny sparks of other houses farther off.

            He said, “Hiroko, do you see that star that is so bright? What is it called?” Hiroko looked up casually and said, with no great appearance of interest, “That’s the Companion.”

            “Why is it called that?”

            “It circleth our sun every eighty Standard Years. It is an evening star at this time of year. Thou canst see it in daytime, too, when it lieth above the horizon.”

            Good, thought Trevize. She’s not totally ignorant of astronomy. He said, “Do you know that Alpha has another companion, a very small, dim one that’s much much farther away than that bright star. You can’t see it without a telescope.” (He hadn’t seen it himself, hadn’t bothered to search for it, but the ship’s computer had the information in its memory banks.)

            She said indifferently, “We were told that in school.”

            “But now what about that one? You see those six stars in a zigzag line?”

            Hiroko said, “That is Cassiopeia.”

            “Really?” said Trevize, startled. “Which star?”

            “All of them. The whole zigzag. It is Cassiopeia.”

            “Why is it called that?”

            “I lack the knowledge. I know nothing of astronomy, respected Trevize.”

            “Do you see the lowermost star in the zigzag, the one that’s brighter than the other stars? What is that?”

            “It is a star. I know not its name.”

            “But except for the two companion stars, it’s the closest of all the stars to Alpha. It is only a parsec away.”

            Hiroko said, “Sayest thou so? I know that not.”

            “Might it not be the star about which Earth revolves?”

            Hiroko looked at the star with a faint flash of interest. “I know not. I have never heard any person say so.”

            “Don’t you think it might be?”

            “How can I say? None knoweth where Earth might be. I-I must leave thee, now. I will be taking my shift in the fields tomorrow morning before the beach festival. I’ll see you all there, right after lunch. Yes? Yes?”

            “Certainly, Hiroko.”

            She left suddenly, half-running in the dark. Trevize looked after her, then followed the others into the dimly lit cottage.

            He said, “Can you tell whether she was lying about Earth, Bliss?”

            Bliss shook her head. “I don’t think she was. She is under enormous tension, something I was not aware of until after the concert. It existed before you asked her about the stars.”

            “Because she gave away her flute, then?”

            “Perhaps. I can’t tell.” She turned to Fallom. “Now, Fallom, I want you to go into your room. When you’re ready for bed, go to the outhouse, use the potty, then wash your hands, your face, and your teeth.”

            “I would like to play the flute, Bliss.”

            “Just for a little while, and very quietly. Do you understand, Fallom? And you must stop when I tell you to.”

            “Yes, Bliss.”

            The three were now alone; Bliss in the one chair and the men sitting each on his cot.

            Bliss said, “Is there any point in staying on this planet any longer?”

            Trevize shrugged. “We never did get to discuss Earth in connection with the ancient instruments, and we might find something there. It might also pay to wait for the fishing fleet to return. The men might know something the stay-at-homes don’t.”

           Very unlikely, I think,” said Bliss. “Are you sure it’s not Hiroko’s dark eyes that hold you?”

            Trevize said impatiently, “I don’t understand, Bliss. What have you to do with what I choose to do? Why do you seem to arrogate to yourself the right of sitting in moral judgment on me?”

            “I’m not concerned with your morals. The matter affects our expedition. You want to find Earth so that you can finally decide whether you are right in choosing Galaxia over Isolate worlds. I want you to so decide. You say you need to visit Earth to make the decision and you seem to be convinced that Earth revolves about that bright star in the sky. Let us go there, then. I admit it would be useful to have some information about it before we go, but it is clear to me that the information is not forthcoming here. I do not wish to remain simply because you enjoy Hiroko.”

            “Perhaps we’ll leave,” said Trevize. “Let me think about it, and Hiroko will play no part in my decision, I assure you.”

            Pelorat said, “I feel we ought to move on to Earth, if only to see whether it is radioactive or not. I see no point in waiting longer.”

            “Are you sure it’s not Bliss’s dark eyes that drive you?” said Trevize, a bit spitefully. Then, almost at once, “No, I take that back, Janov. I was just being childish. Still-this is a charming world, quite apart from Hiroko, and I must say that under other circumstances, I would be tempted to remain indefinitely.-Don’t you think, Bliss, that Alpha destroys your theory about Isolates?”

            “In what way?” asked Bliss.

            “You’ve been maintaining that every truly isolated world turns dangerous and hostile.”

            “Even Comporellon,” said Bliss evenly, “which is rather out of the main current of Galactic activity for all that it is, in theory, an Associated Power of the Foundation Federation.”

            “But not Alpha. This world is totally isolated, but can you complain of their friendliness and hospitality? They feed us, clothe us, shelter us, put on festivals in our honor, urge us to stay on. What fault is there to find with them?”

            “None, apparently. Hiroko even gives you her body.”

            Trevize said angrily, “Bliss, what bothers you about that? She didn’t give me her body. We gave each other our bodies. It was entirely mutual, entirely pleasurable. Nor can you say that you hesitate to give your body as it suits you.”

            “Please, Bliss,” said Pelorat. “Golan is entirely right. There is no reason to object to his private pleasures.”

            “As long as they don’t affect us,” said Bliss obdurately.

            “They do not affect us,” said Trevize. “We will leave, I assure you. A delay to search further for information will not be long.”

            “Yet I don’t trust Isolates,” said Bliss, “even when they come bearing gifts.”

            Trevize flung up his arms. “Reach a conclusion, then twist the evidence to fit. How like a-”

            “Don’t say it,” said Bliss dangerously. “I am not a woman. I am Gaia. It is Gaia, not I, who is uneasy.”

            “There is no reason to-” And at that point there was a scratching at the door.

            Trevize froze. “What’s that?” he said, in a low voice.

            Bliss shrugged lightly. “Open the door and see. You tell us this is a kindly world that offers no danger.”

            Nevertheless, Trevize hesitated, until a soft voice from the other side of the door called out softly, “Please. It is P”

            It was Hiroko’s voice. Trevize threw the door open.

            Hiroko entered quickly. Her cheeks were wet.

            “Close the door,” she gasped.

            “What is it?” asked Bliss.

            Hiroko clutched at Trevize. “I could not stay away. I tried, but I endured it not. Go thou, and all of you. Take the youngster with you quickly. Take the ship away-away from Alpha-while it is yet dark.”

            “But why?” asked Trevize.

            “Because else wilt thou die; and all of you.”




            THE THREE Outworlders stared frozenly at Hiroko for a long moment. Then Trevize said, “Are you saying your people will kill us?”

            Hiroko said, as the tears rolled down her cheeks, “Thou art already on the road to death, respected Trevize. And the others with you.-Long ago, those of learning devised a virus, harmless to us, but deadly to Outworlders. We have been made immune.” She shook Trevize’s arm in distraction. “Thou art infected.”


            “When we had our pleasure. It is one way.”

            Trevize said, “But I feel entirely well.”

            “The virus is as yet inactive. It will be made active when the fishing fleet returns. By our laws, all must decide on such a thing-even the men. All will surely decide it must be done, and we keep you here till that time, two mornings hence. Leave now while it is yet dark and none suspects.”

            Bliss said sharply, “Why do your people do this?”

            “For our safety. We are few and have much. We do not wish Outworlders to intrude. If one cometh and then reporteth our lot, others will come, and so when, once in a long while, a ship arriveth, we must make certain it leaveth not.”

            “But then,” said Trevize, “why do you warn us away?”

            “Ask not the reason.-Nay, but I will tell you, since I hear it again. Listen-”

            From the next room, they could hear Fallom playing softly-and infinitely sweetly.

            Hiroko said, “I cannot bear the destruction of that music, for the young one will also die.”

            Trevize said sternly, “Is that why you gave the flute to Fallom? Because you knew you would have it once again when she was dead?”

            Hiroko looked horrified. “Nay, that was not in my mind. And when it came to mind at length, I knew it must not be done. Leave with the child, and with her, take the flute that I may never see it more. Thou wilt be safe back in space and, left inactive, the virus now in thy body will die after a time. In return, I ask that none of you ever speak of this world, that none else may know of it.”

            “We will not speak of it,” said Trevize.

            Hiroko looked up. In a lower voice, she said, “May I not kiss thee once ere thou leavest?”

            Trevize said, “No. I have been infected once and surely that is enough.” And then, a little less roughly, he added, “Don’t cry. People will ask why you are crying and you’ll be unable to reply.-I’ll forgive what you did to me in view of your present effort to save us.”

            Hiroko straightened, carefully wiped her cheeks with the back of her hands, took a deep breath, and said, “I thank thee for that,” and left quickly.

            Trevize said, “We will put out the light, and we will wait awhile, and then we will leave.-Bliss, tell Fallom to stop playing her instrument. Remember to take the flute, of course.-Then we will make our way to the ship, if we can find it in the dark.”

            “I will find it,” said Bliss. “Clothing of mine is on board and, however dimly, that, too, is Gaia. Gaia will have no trouble finding Gaia.” And she vanished into her room to collect Fallom.

            Pelorat said, “Do you suppose that they’ve managed to damage our ship in order to keep us on the planet?”

            “They lack the technology to do it,” said Trevize grimly. When Bliss emerged, holding Fallom by the hand, Trevize put out the lights.

            They sat quietly in the dark for what seemed half the night, and might have been half an hour. Then Trevize slowly and silently opened the door. The sky seemed a bit more cloudy, but stars shone. High in the sky now was Cassiopeia, with what might be Earth’s sun burning brightly at its lower tip. The air was still and there was no sound.

            Carefully, Trevize stepped out, motioning the others to follow. One of his hands dropped, almost automatically, to the butt of his neuronic whip. He was sure he would not have to use it, but-

            Bliss took the lead, holding Pelorat’s hand, who held Trevize’s. Bliss’s other hand held Fallom, and Fallom’s other hand held the flute. Feeling gently with her feet in the nearly total darkness, Bliss guided the others toward where she felt, very weakly, the Gaia-ness of her clothing on board the Far Star.


Foundation and Earth
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