TRADERS-... With psychohistoric inevitability. economic control of the Foundation grew. The traders grew rich; and with riches came power....

            It is sometimes forgotten that Hober Mallow began life as an ordinary trader. It is never forgotten that he ended it as the first of the Merchant Princes....



            Jorane Sutt put the tips of carefully-manicured fingers together and said, “It’s something of a puzzle. In fact -- and this is in the strictest of confidence -- it may be another one of Hari Seldon’s crises.”

            The man opposite felt in the pocket of his short Smyrnian jacket for a cigarette. “Don’t know about that, Sutt. As a general rule, politicians start shouting ‘Seldon crisis’ at every mayoralty campaign.”

            Sutt smiled very faintly, “I’m not campaigning, Mallow. We’re facing nuclear weapons, and we don’t know where they’re coming from.”

            Hober Mallow of Smyrno, Master Trader, smoked quietly, almost indifferently. “Go on. If you have more to say, get it out.” Mallow never made the mistake of being overpolite to a Foundation man. He might be an Outlander, but a man’s a man for a’ that.

            Sutt indicated the trimensional star-map on the table. He adjusted the controls and a cluster of some half-dozen stellar systems blazed red.

            ‘That,” he said quietly, “is the Korellian Republic.”

            The trader nodded, “I’ve been there. Stinking rathole! I suppose you can call it a republic but it’s always someone out of the Argo family that gets elected Commdor each time. And if you ever don’t like it -- things happen to you.” He twisted his lip and repeated, “I’ve been there.”

            “But you’ve come back, which hasn’t always happened. Three trade ships, inviolate under the Conventions, have disappeared within the territory of the Republic in the last year. And those ships were armed with all the usual nuclear explosives and force-field defenses.”

            “What was the last word heard from the ships?”

            “Routine reports. Nothing else.”

            “What did Korell say?”

            Sutt’s eyes gleamed sardonically, “There was no way of asking. The Foundation’s greatest asset throughout the Periphery is its reputation of power. Do you think we can lose three ships and ask for them?”

            “Well, then, suppose you tell me what you want with me.”

            Jorane Sutt did not waste his time in the luxury of annoyance. As secretary to the mayor, he had held off opposition councilmen, jobseekers, reformers, and crackpots who claimed to have solved in its entirety the course of future history as worked out by Hari Seldon. With training like that, it took a good deal to disturb him.

            He said methodically, “In a moment. You see, three ships lost in the same sector in the same year can’t be accident, and nuclear power can be conquered only by more nuclear power. The question automatically arises: if Korell has nuclear weapons, where is it getting them?”

            “And where does it?”

            “Two alternatives. Either the Korellians have constructed them themselves--”


            “Very! But the other possibility is that we are being afflicted with a case of treason.”

            “You think so?” Mallow’s voice was cold.

            The secretary said calmly, “There’s nothing miraculous about the possibility. Since the Four Kingdoms accepted the Foundation Convention, we have had to deal with considerable groups of dissident populations in each nation. Each former kingdom has its pretenders and its former noblemen, who can’t very well pretend to love the Foundation. Some of them are becoming active, perhaps.”

            Mallow was a dull red. “I see. Is there anything you want to say to me? I’m a Smyrnian.”

            “I know. You’re a Smyrnian -- born in Smyrno, one of the former Four Kingdoms. You’re a Foundation man by education only. By birth, you’re an Outlander and a foreigner. No doubt your grandfather was a baron at the time of the wars with Anacreon and Loris, and no doubt your family estates were taken away when Sef Sermak redistributed the land.”

            “No, by Black Space, no! My grandfather was a blood-poor son-of-a-spacer who died heaving coal at starving wages before the Foundation took over. I owe nothing to the old regime. But I was born in Smyrno, and I’m not ashamed of either Smyrno or Smyrnians, by the Galaxy. Your sly little hints of treason aren’t going to panic me into licking Foundation spittle. And now you can either give your orders or make your accusations. I don’t care which.”

            “My good Master Trader, I don’t care an electron whether your grandfather was King of Smyrno or the greatest pauper on the planet. I recited that rigmarole about your birth and ancestry to show you that I’m not interested in them. Evidently, you missed the point. Let’s go back now. You’re a Smyrnian. You know the Outlanders. Also, you’re a trader and one of the best. You’ve been to Korell and you know the Korellians. That’s where you’ve got to go.”

            Mallow breathed deeply, “As a spy?”

            “Not at all. As a trader -- but with your eyes open. If you can find out where the power is coming from -- I might remind you, since you’re a Smyrnian, that two of those lost trade ships had Smyrnian crews.”

            “When do I start?”

            “When will your ship be ready?”

            “In six days.”

            “Then that’s when you start. You’ll have all the details at the Admiralty.”

            “Right!” The trader rose, shook hands roughly, and strode out.

            Sutt waited, spreading his fingers gingerly and rubbing out the pressure; then shrugged his shoulders and stepped into the mayor’s office.

            The mayor deadened the visiplate and leaned back. “What do you make of it, Sutt?”

            “He could be a good actor,” said Sutt, and stared thoughtfully ahead.




            It was evening of the same day, and in Jorane Sutt’s bachelor apartment on the twenty-first floor of the Hardin Building, Publis Manlio was sipping wine slowly.

            It was Publis Manlio in whose slight, aging body were fulfilled two great offices of the Foundation. He was Foreign Secretary in the mayor’s cabinet, and to all the outer suns, barring only the Foundation itself, he was, in addition, Primate of the Church, Purveyor of the Holy Food, Master of the Temples, and so forth almost indefinitely in confusing but sonorous syllables.

            He was saying, “But he agreed to let you send out that trader. It is a point.”

            “But such a small one,” said Sutt. “It gets us nothing immediately. The whole business is the crudest sort of stratagem, since we have no way of foreseeing it to the end. It is a mere paying out of rope on the chance that somewhere along the length of it will be a noose.”

            “True. And this Mallow is a capable man. What if he is not an easy prey to dupery?”

            “That is a chance that must be run. If there is treachery, it is the capable men that are implicated. If not, we need a capable man to detect the truth. And Mallow will be guarded. Your glass is empty.”

            “No, thanks. I’ve had enough.”

            Sutt filled his own glass and patiently endured the other’s uneasy reverie.

            Of whatever the reverie consisted, it ended indecisively, for the primate said suddenly, almost explosively, “Sutt, what’s on your mind?”

            “I’ll tell you, Manlio.” His thin lips parted, “We’re in the middle of a Seldon crisis.”

            Manlio stared, then said softly, “How do you know? Has Seldon appeared in the Time Vault again?”

            “That much, my friend, is not necessary. Look, reason it out. Since the Galactic Empire abandoned the Periphery, and threw us on our own, we have never had an opponent who possessed nuclear power. Now, for the first time, we have one. That seems significant even if it stood by itself. And it doesn’t. For the first time in over seventy years, we are facing a major domestic political crisis. I should think the synchronization of the two crises, inner and outer, puts it beyond all doubt.”

            Manlio’s eyes narrowed, “If that’s all, it’s not enough. There have been two Seldon crises so far, and both times the Foundation was in danger of extermination. Nothing can be a third crisis till that danger returns.”

            Sutt never showed impatience, “That danger is coming. Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo. Look, Manlio, we’re proceeding along a planned history. We know that Hari Seldon worked out the historical probabilities of the future. We know that some day we’re to rebuild the Galactic Empire. We know that it will take a thousand years or thereabouts. And we know that in the interval we will face certain definite crises.

            “Now the first crisis came fifty years after the establishment of the Foundation, and the second, thirty years later than that. Almost seventy-five years have gone since. It’s time, Manlio, it’s time.”

            Manlio rubbed his nose uncertainly, “And you’ve made your plans to meet this crisis?”

            Sutt nodded.

            “And I,” continued Manlio, “am to play a part in it?”

            Sutt nodded again, “Before we can meet the foreign threat of atomic power, we’ve got to put our own house in order. These traders--”

            “Ah!” The primate stiffened, and his eyes grew sharp.

            “That’s right. These traders. They are useful, but they are too strong -- and too uncontrolled. They are Outlanders, educated apart from religion. On the one hand, we put knowledge into their hands, and on the other, we remove our strongest hold upon them.”

            “If we can prove treachery?”

            “If we could, direct action would be simple and sufficient. But that doesn’t signify in the least. Even if treason among them did not exist, they would form an uncertain element in our society. They wouldn’t be bound to us by patriotism or common descent, or even by religious awe. Under their secular leadership, the outer provinces, which, since Hardin’s time, look to us as the Holy Planet, might break away.”

            “I see all that, but the cure--”

            “The cure must come quickly, before the Seldon Crisis becomes acute. If nuclear weapons are without and disaffection within, the odds might be too great.” Sutt put down the empty glass he had been fingering, “This is obviously your job.”


            “I can’t do it. My office is appointive and has no legislative standing.”

            “The mayor--”

            “Impossible. His personality is entirely negative. He is energetic only in evading responsibility. But if an independent party arose that might endanger re-election, he might allow himself to be led.”

            “But, Sutt, I lack the aptitude for practical politics.”

            “Leave that to me. Who knows, Manlio? Since Salvor Hardin’s time, the primacy and the mayoralty have never been combined in a single person. But it might happen now -- if your job were well done.”




            And at the other end of town, in homelier surroundings, Hober Mallow kept a second appointment. He had listened long, and now he said cautiously, “Yes, I’ve heard of your campaigns to get trader representation in the council. But why me, Twer?”

            Jaim Twer, who would remind you any time, asked or unasked, that he was in the first group of Outlanders to receive a lay education at the Foundation, beamed.

            “I know what I’m doing,” he said. “Remember when I met you first, last year.”

            “At the Trader’s Convention.”

            “Right. You ran the meeting. You had those red-necked oxen planted in their seats, then put them in your shirtpocket and walked off with them. And you’re all right with the Foundation masses, too. You’ve got glamor -- or, at any rate, solid adventure-publicity, which is the same thing.”

            “Very good,” said Mallow, dryly. “But why now?”

            ‘Because now’s our chance. Do you know that the Secretary of Education has handed in his resignation? It’s not out in the open yet, but it will be.”

            “How do you know?”

            “That -- never mind--” He waved a disgusted hand. “It’s so. The Actionist party is splitting wide open, and we can murder it right now on a straight question of equal rights for traders; or, rather, democracy, pro- and anti-.”

            Mallow lounged back in his chair and stared at his thick fingers, “Uh-uh. Sorry, Twer. I’m leaving next week on business. You’ll have to get someone else.”

            Twer stared, “Business? What kind of business?”

            “Very super-secret. Triple-A priority. All that, you know. Had a talk with the mayor’s own secretary.”

            “Snake Sutt?” Jaim Twer grew excited. “A trick. The son-of-a-spacer is getting rid of you. Mallow--”

            “Hold on!” Mallow’s hand fell on the other’s balled fist. “Don’t go into a blaze. If it’s a trick, I’ll be back some day for the reckoning. if it isn’t, your snake, Sutt, is playing into our hands. Listen, there’s a Seldon crisis coming up.”

            Mallow waited for a reaction but it never came. Twer merely stared. “What’s a Seldon crisis?”

            “Galaxy!” Mallow exploded angrily at the anticlimax, “What the blue blazes did you do when you went to school? What do you mean anyway by a fool question like that?”

            The elder man frowned, “If you’ll explain--”

            There was a long pause, then, “I’ll explain.” Mallow’s eyebrows lowered, and he spoke slowly. “When the Galactic Empire began to die at the edges, and when the ends of the Galaxy reverted to barbarism and dropped away, Hari Seldon and his band of psychologists planted a colony, the Foundation, out here in the middle of the mess, so that we could incubate art, science, and technology, and form the nucleus of the Second Empire.”

            “Oh, yes, yes--”

            “I’m not finished,” said the trader, coldly. “The future course of the Foundation was plotted according to the science of psychohistory, then highly developed, and conditions arranged so as to bring about a series of crises that will force us most rapidly along the route to future Empire. Each crisis, each Seldon crisis, marks an epoch in our history. We’re approaching one now -- our third.”

            Twer shrugged. “I suppose this was mentioned in school, but I’ve been out of school a long time -- longer than you.”

            “I suppose so. Forget it. What matters is that I’m being sent out into the middle of the development of this crisis. There’s no telling what I’ll have when I come back, and there is a council election every year.”

            Twer looked up, “Are you on the track of anything?”


            “You have definite plans?”

            “Not the faintest inkling of one.”


            “Well, nothing. Hardin once said: ‘To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.’ I’ll improvise.”

            Twer shook his head uncertainly, and they stood, looking at each other.

            Mallow said, quite suddenly, but quite matter-of-factly, “I tell you what, how about coming with me? Don’t stare, man. You’ve been a trader before you decided them was more excitement in politics. Or so I’ve heard.”

            “Where are you going? Tell me that.”

            Towards the Whassallian Rift. I can’t be more specific till we’re out in space. What do you say?”

            Suppose Sutt decides he wants me where he can see

            “Not likely. If he’s anxious to get rid of me, why not of you as well? Besides which, no trader would hit space if he couldn’t pick his own crew. I take whom I please.”

            There was a queer glint in the older man’s eyes, “All right. I’ll go.” He held out his hand, “It’ll be my first trip in three years.”

            Mallow grasped and shook the other’s hand, “Good! All fired good! And now I’ve got to round up the boys. You know where the Far Star docks, don ‘t you? Then show up tomorrow. Good-by.”




            Korell is that frequent phenomenon in history: the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal “honor” and court etiquette.

            Materially, its prosperity was low. The day of the Galactic Empire had departed, with nothing but silent memorials and broken structures to testify to it. The day of the Foundation had not yet come -- and in the fierce determination of its ruler, the Commdor Asper Argo, with his strict regulation of the traders and his stricter prohibition of the missionaries, it was never coming.

            The spaceport itself was decrepit and decayed, and the crew of the Far Star were drearily aware of that. The moldering hangars made for a moldering atmosphere and Jaim Twer itched and fretted over a game of solitaire.

            Hober Mallow said thoughtfully, “Good trading material here.” He was staring quietly out the viewport. So far, there was little else to be said about Korell. The trip here was uneventful. The squadron of Korellian ships that had shot out to intercept the Far Star had been tiny, limping relics of ancient glory or battered, clumsy hulks. They had maintained their distance fearfully, and still maintained it, and for a week now, Mallow’s requests for an audience with the local go government had been unanswered.

            Mallow repeated, “Good trading here. You might call this virgin territory.”

            Jaim Twer looked up impatiently, and threw his cards aside, “What the devil do you intend doing, Mallow? The crew’s grumbling, the officers are worried, and I’m wondering--”

            “Wondering? About what?”

            “About the situation. And about you. What are we doing?”


            The old trader snorted and grew red. He growled, “You’re going it blind, Mallow. There’s a guard around the field and there are ships overhead. Suppose they’re getting ready to blow us into a hole in the ground.”

            “They’ve had a week.”

            “Maybe they’re waiting for reinforcements.” Twer’s eyes were sharp and hard.

            Mallow sat down abruptly, “Yes, I’d thought of that You see, it poses a pretty problem. First, we got here without trouble. That may mean nothing, however, for only three ships out of better than three hundred went a-glimmer last year. The percentage is low. But that may mean also that the number of their ships equipped with nuclear power is small, and that they dare not expose them needlessly, until that number grows.

            “But it could mean, on the other hand, that they haven’t nuclear power after all. Or maybe they have and are keeping undercover, for fear we know something. It’s one thing, after all, to piratize blundering, light-armed merchant ships. It’s another to fool around with an accredited envoy of the Foundation when the mere fact of his presence may mean the Foundation is growing suspicious.

            “Combine this--”

            “Hold on, Mallow, hold on.” Twer raised his hands. “You’re just about drowning me with talk. What’re you getting at? Never mind the in-betweens.”

            “You’ve got to have the in-betweens, or you won’t understand, Twer. We’re both waiting. They don’t know what I’m doing here and I don’t know what they’ve got here. But I’m in the weaker position because I’m one and they’re an entire world -- maybe with atomic power. I can’t afford to be the one to weaken. Sure it’s dangerous. Sure there may be a hole in the ground waiting for us. But we knew that from the start. What else is there to do?”

            “I don’t-- Who’s that, now?”

            Mallow looked up patiently, and tuned the receiver. The visiplate glowed into the craggy face of the watch sergeant.

            “Speak, sergeant.”

            The sergeant said, “Pardon, sir. The men have given entry to a Foundation missionary.”

            “A what?” Mallow’s face grew livid.

            “A missionary, sit. He’s in need of hospitalization, sir-”

            “There’ll be more than one in need of that, sergeant, for this piece of work. Order the men to battle stations.”

            Crew’s lounge was almost empty. Five minutes after the order, even the men on the off-shift were at their guns. It was speed that was the great virtue in the anarchic regions of the interstellar space of the Periphery, and it was in speed above all that the crew of a master trader excelled.

            Mallow entered slowly, and stared the missionary up and down and around. His eye slid to Lieutenant Tinter, who shifted uneasily to one side and to Watch-Sergeant Demen, whose blank face and stolid figure flanked the other.

            The Master Trader turned to Twer and paused thoughtfully, “Well, then, Twer, get the officers here quietly, except for the co-ordinators and the trajectorian. The men are to remain at stations till further orders.”

            There was a five-minute hiatus, in which Mallow kicked open the doors to the lavatories, looked behind the bar, pulled the draperies across the thick windows. For half a minute he left the room altogether, and when he returned he was humming abstractedly.

            Men filed in. Twer followed, and closed the door silently.

            Mallow said quietly, “First, who let this man in without orders from me?”

            The watch sergeant stepped forward. Every eye shifted. “Pardon, sir. It was no definite person. It was a sort of mutual agreement. He was one of us, you might say, and these foreigners here--”

            Mallow cut him short, “I sympathize with your feelings, sergeant, and understand them. These men, were they under your command?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            “When this is over, they’re to be confined to individual quarters for a week. You yourself are relieved of all supervisory duties for a similar period. Understood?”

            The sergeant’s face never changed, but there was the slightest droop to his shoulders. He said, crisply, “Yes, sir.”

            “You may leave. Get to your gun-station.”

            The door closed behind him and the babble rose.

            Twer broke in, “Why the punishment, Mallow? You know that these Korellians kill captured missionaries.”

            “An action against my orders is bad in itself whatever other reasons there may be in its favor. No one was to leave or enter the ship without permission.”

            Lieutenant Tinter murmured rebelliously, “Seven days without action. You can’t maintain discipline that way.”

            Mallow said icily, “I can. There’s no merit in discipline under ideal circumstances. I’ll have it in the face of death, or it’s useless. Where’s this missionary? Get him here in front of me.”

            The trader sat down, while the scarlet-cloaked figure was carefully brought forward.

            “What’s your name, reverend?”

            “Eh?” The scarlet-robed figure wheeled towards Mallow, the whole body turning as a unit. His eyes were blankly open and there was a bruise on one temple. He had not spoken, nor, as far as Mallow could tell, moved during all the previous interval.

            “Your name, revered one?”

            The missionary started to sudden feverish life. His arms went out in an embracing gesture. “My son -- my children. May you always be in the protecting arms of the Galactic Spirit.”

            Twer stepped forward, eyes troubled, voice husky, “The man’s sick. Take him to bed, somebody. Order him to bed, Mallow, and have him seen to. He’s badly hurt.”

            Mallow’s great arm shoved him back, “Don’t interfere, Twer, or I’ll have you out of the room. Your name, revered one?”

            The missionary’s hands clasped in sudden supplication, “As you are enlightened men, save me from the heathen.” The words tumbled out, “Save me from these brutes and darkened ones who raven after me and would afflict the Galactic Spirit with their crimes. I am Jord Parma, of the Anacreonian worlds. Educated at the Foundation; the Foundation itself, my children. I am a Priest of the Spirit educated into all the mysteries, who have come here where the inner voice called me.” He was gasping. “I have suffered at the hands of the unenlightened. As you are Children of the Spirit; and in the name of that Spirit, protect me from them.”

            A voice broke in upon them, as the emergency alarm box clamored metallically:

            “Enemy units in sight! Instruction desired!”

            Every eye shot mechanically upward to the speaker.

            Mallow swore violently. He clicked open the reverse and yelled, “Maintain vigil! That is all!” and turned it off.

            He made his way to the thick drapes that rustled aside at a touch and stared grimly out,

            Enemy units! Several thousands of them in the persons of the individual members of a Korellian mob. The rolling rabble encompassed the port from extreme end to extreme end, and in the cold, hard light of magnesium flares the foremost straggled closer.

            “Tinter!” The trader never turned, but the back of his neck was red. “Get the outer speaker working and find out what they want. Ask if they have a representative of the law with them. Make no promises and no threats, or I’ll kill you.”

            Tinter turned and left.

            Mallow felt a rough hand on his shoulder and he struck it aside. It was Twer. His voice was an angry hiss in his ear, “Mallow, you’re bound to hold onto this man. There’s no way of maintaining decency and honor otherwise. He’s of the Foundation and, after all, he -- is a priest. These savages outside-- Do you hear me?”

            “I hear you, Twer.” Mallow’s voice was incisive. “I’ve got more to do here than guard missionaries. I’ll do, sir, what I please, and, by Seldon and all the Galaxy, if you try to stop me, I’ll tear out your stinking windpipe. Don’t get in my way, Twer, or it will be the last of you.”

            He turned and strode past. “You! Revered Parma! Did you know that, by convention, no Foundation missionaries may enter the Korellian territory?”

            The missionary was trembling, “I can but go where the Spirit leads, my son. If the darkened ones refuse enlightenment, is it not the greater sign of their need for it?”

            “That’s outside the question, revered one. You are here against the law of both Korell and the Foundation. I cannot in law protect you.”

            The missionary’s hands were raised again. His earlier bewilderment was gone. There was the raucous clamor of the ship’s outer communication system in action, and the faint, undulating gabble of the angry horde in response. The sound made his eyes wild.

            “You hear them? Why do you talk of law to me, of a law made by men? There are higher laws. Was it not the Galactic Spirit that said: Thou shalt not stand idly by to the hurl of thy fellowman. And has he not said: Even as thou dealest with the humble and defenseless, thus shalt thou be dealt with.

            “Have you not guns? Have you not a ship? And behind you is there not the Foundation? And above and all-about you is there not the Spirit that rules the universe?” He paused for breath.

            And then the great outer voice of the Far Star ceased and Lieutenant Tinter was back, troubled.

            “Speak!” said Mallow, shortly.

            “Sir, they demand the person of Jord Parma.”

            “If not?”

            “There are various threats, sir. It is difficult to make much out. There are so many -- and they seem quite mad. There is someone who says he governs the district and has police powers, but he is quite evidently not his own master.”

            “Master or not,” shrugged Mallow, “he is the law. Tell them that if this governor, or policeman, or whatever he is, approaches the ship alone, he can have the Revered Jord Parma.”

            And there was suddenly a gun in his hand. He added, “I don’t know what insubordination is. I have never had any experience with it. But if there’s anyone here who thinks he can teach me, I’d like to teach him my antidote in return.’’

            The gun swiveled slowly, and rested on Twer. With an effort, the old trader’s face untwisted and his hands unclenched and lowered. His breath was a harsh rasp in his nostrils.

            Tinter left, and in five minutes a puny figure detached itself from the crowd. It approached slowly and hesitantly, plainly drenched in fear and apprehension. Twice it turned back, and twice the patently obvious threats of the many-headed monster urged him on.

            “All right,” Mallow gestured with the hand-blaster, which remained unsheathed. “Grun and Upshur, take him out.”

            The missionary screeched. He raised his arms and rigid fingers speared upward as the voluminous sleeves fell away to reveal the thin, veined arms. There was a momentary, tiny flash of light that came and went in a breath. Mallow blinked and gestured again, contemptuously.

            The missionary’s voice poured out as he struggled in the two-fold grasp, “Cursed be the traitor who abandons his fellowman to evil and to death. Deafened be the ears that are deaf to the pleadings of the helpless. Blind be the eyes that are blind to innocence. Blackened forever be the soul that consorts with blackness--”

            Twer clamped his hands tightly over his ears.

            Mallow flipped his blaster and put it away. “Disperse,” he said, evenly, “to respective stations. Maintain full vigil for six hours after dispersion of crowd. Double stations for forty-eight hours thereafter. Further instructions at that time. Twer, come with me.”

            They were alone in Mallow’s private quarters. Mallow indicated a chair and Twer sat down. His stocky figure looked shrunken.

            Mallow stared him down, sardonically. “Twer,” he said, “I’m disappointed. Your three years in politics seem to have gotten you out of trader habits. Remember, I may be a democrat back at the Foundation, but there’s nothing short of tyranny that can run my ship the way I want it run. I never had to pull a blaster on my men before, and I wouldn’t have had to now, if you hadn’t gone out of line.

            “Twer, you have no official position, but you’re here on my invitation, and I’ll extend you every courtesy -- in private. However, from now on, in the presence of my officers or men, I’m ‘sir,’ and not ‘Mallow.’ And when I give an order, you’ll jump faster than a third-class recruit just for luck, or I’ll have you handcuffed in the sub-level even faster. Understand?”

            The party-leader swallowed dryly. He said, reluctantly, “My apologies.”

            “Accepted! Will you shake?”

            Twer’s limp fingers were swallowed in Mallow’s huge palm. Twer said, “My motives were good. It’s difficult to send a man out to be lynched. That wobbly-kneed governor or whatever-he-was can’t save him. It’s murder.”

            “I can’t help that. Frankly, the incident smelled too bad. Didn’t you notice?”

            “Notice what?”

            “This spaceport is deep in the middle of a sleepy far section. Suddenly a missionary escapes. Where from? He comes here. Coincidence? A huge crowd gathers. From where? The nearest city of any size must be at least a hundred miles away. But they arrive in half an hour. How?”

            “How?” echoed Twer.

            “Well, what if the missionary were brought here and released as bait. Our friend, Revered Parma, was considerably confused. He seemed at no time to be in complete possession of his wits.”

            “Hard usage--” murmured Twer bitterly.

            “Maybe! And maybe the idea was to have us go all chivalrous and gallant, into a stupid defense of the man. He was here against the laws of Korell and the Foundation. If I withhold him, it is an act of war against Korell, and the Foundation would have no legal right to defend us.”

            “That -- that’s pretty far-fetched.”

            The speaker blared and forestalled Mallow’s answer: “Sir, official communication received.”

            “Submit immediately!”

            The gleaming cylinder arrived in its slot with a click. Mallow opened it and shook out the silver-impregnated sheet it held. He rubbed it appreciatively between thumb and finger and said, “Teleported direct from the capital. Commdor’s own stationery.”

            He read it in a glance and laughed shortly, “So my idea was far-fetched, was it?”

            He tossed it to Twer, and added, “Half an hour after we hand back the missionary, we finally get a very polite invitation to the Commdor’s august presence -- after seven days of previous waiting. I think we passed a test.”




            Commdor Asper was a man of the people, by self-acclamation. His remaining back-fringe of gray hair drooped limply to his shoulders, his shirt needed laundering, and he spoke with a snuffle.

            “There is no ostentation here, Trader Mallow,” he said. “No false show. In me, you see merely the first citizen of the state. That’s what Commdor means, and that’s the only title I have.”

            He seemed inordinately pleased with it all, “in fact, I consider that fact one of the strongest bonds between Korell and your nation. I understand you people enjoy the republican blessings we do.”

            “Exactly, Commdor,” said Mallow gravely, taking mental exception to the comparison, “an argument which I consider strongly in favor of continued peace and friendship between our governments.”

            “Peace! Ah!” The Commdor’s sparse gray beard twitched to the sentimental grimaces of his face. “I don’t think there is anyone in the Periphery who has so near his heart the ideal of Peace, as I have. I can truthfully say that since I succeeded my illustrious father to the leadership of the state, the reign of Peace has never been broken. Perhaps I shouldn’t say it” --he coughed gently-- “but I have been told that my people, my fellow-citizens rather, know me as Asper, the Well-Beloved.”

            Mallow’s eyes wandered over the well-kept garden. Perhaps the tall men and the strangely-designed but openly-vicious weapons they carried just happened to be lurking in odd comers as a precaution against himself. That would be understandable. But the lofty, steel-girdered walls that circled the place had quite obviously been recently strengthened -- an unfitting occupation for such a Well-Beloved Asper.

            He said, “It is fortunate that I have you to deal with then, Commdor. The despots and monarchs of surrounding worlds, which haven’t the benefit of enlightened administration, often lack the qualities that would make a ruler well-beloved.”

            “Such as?” There was a cautious note in the Commdor’s voice.

            “Such as a concern for the best interests of their people, You, on the other hand, would understand,”

            The Commdor kept his eyes on the gravel path as they walked leisurely, His hands caressed each other behind his back.

            Mallow went on smoothly, “Up to now, trade between our two nations has suffered because of the restrictions placed upon our traders by your government. Surely, it has long been evident to you that unlimited trade--”

            “Free Trade!” mumbled the Commdor.

            “Free Trade, then. You must see that it would be of benefit to both of us. There are things you have that we want, and things we have that you want. It asks only an exchange to bring increased prosperity. An enlightened ruler such as yourself, a friend of the people -- I might say, a member of the people -- needs no elaboration on that theme. I won’t insult your intelligence by offering any.”

            “True! I have seen this. But what would you?” His voice was a plaintive whine. “Your people have always been so unreasonable. I am in favor of all the trade our economy can support, but not on your terms. I am not sole master here.” His voice rose, “I am only the servant of public opinion. My people will not take commerce which carries with it a compulsory religion.”

            Mallow drew himself up, “A compulsory religion?”

            “So it has always been in effect. Surely you remember the case of Askone twenty years ago. First they were sold some of your goods and then your people asked for complete freedom of missionary effort in order that the goods might be run properly; that Temples of Health be set up. There was then the establishment of religious schools; autonomous rights for all officers of the religion and with what result? Askone is now an integral member of the Foundation’s system and the Grand Master cannot call his underwear his own. Oh, no! Oh, no! The dignity of an independent people could never suffer it.”

            “None of what you speak is at all what I suggest,” interposed Mallow.


            “No. I’m a Master Trader. Money is my religion. All this mysticism and hocus-pocus of the missionaries annoy me, and I’m glad you refuse to countenance it. It makes you more my type of man.”

            The Commdor’s laugh was high-pitched and jerky, “Well said! The Foundation should have sent a man of your caliber before this.”

            He laid a friendly hand upon the trader’s bulking shoulder, “But man, you have told me only half. You have told me what the catch is not. Now tell me what it is.

            “The only catch, Commdor, is that you’re going to be burdened with an immense quantity of riches.”

            “Indeed?” he snuffled. “But what could I want with riches? The true wealth is the love of one’s people. I have that.”

            “You can have both, for it is possible to gather gold with one hand and love with the other.”

            “Now that, my young man, would be an interesting phenomenon, if it were possible. How would you go about it?”

            “Oh, in a number of ways. The difficulty is choosing among them. Let’s see. Well, luxury items, for instance. This object here, now--”

            Mallow drew gently out of an inner pocket a flat, linked chain of polished metal. “This, for instance.”

            “What is it?”

            “That’s got to be demonstrated. Can you get a woman? Any young female will do. And a mirror, full length.”

            “Hm-m-m. Let’s get indoors, then.”

            The Commdor referred to his dwelling place as a house. The populace undoubtedly would call it a palace. To Mallow’s straightforward eyes, it looked uncommonly like a fortress. it was built on an eminence that overlooked the capital. Its walls were thick and reinforced. Its approaches were guarded, and its architecture was shaped for defense. Just the type of dwelling, Mallow thought sourly, for Asper, the Well-Beloved.

            A young girl was before them. She bent low to the Commdor, who said, “This is one of the Commdora’s girls. Will she do?”


            The Commdor watched carefully while Mallow snapped the chain about the girl’s waist, and stepped back.

            The Commdor snuffled, “Well. Is that all?”

            “Will you draw the curtain, Commdor. Young lady, there’s a little knob just near the snap. Will you move it upward, please? Go ahead, it won’t hurt you.”

            The girl did so, drew a sharp breath, looked at her hands, and gasped, “Oh!”

            From her waist as a source she was drowned in a pale, streaming luminescence of shifting color that drew itself over her head in a flashing coronet of liquid fire. It was as if someone had tom the aurora borealis out of the sky and molded it into a cloak.

            The girl stepped to the mirror and stared, fascinated.

            “Here, take this.” Mallow handed her a necklace of dull pebbles. “Put it around your neck.”

            The girl did so, and each pebble, as it entered the luminescent field became an individual flame that leaped and sparkled in crimson and gold.

            “What do you think of it?” Mallow asked her. The girl didn’t answer but there was adoration in her eyes. The Commdor gestured and reluctantly, she pushed the knob down, and the glory died. She left -- with a memory.

            “It’s yours, Commdor,” said Mallow, “for the Commdora. Consider it a small gift from the Foundation.”

            “Hm-m-m.’ The Commdor turned the belt and necklace over in his hand as though calculating the weight. “How is it done?”

            Mallow shrugged, “That’s a question for our technical experts. But it will work for you without -- mark you, without -- priestly help.”

            “Well, it’s only feminine frippery after all. What could you do with it? Where would the money come in?”

            “You have balls, receptions, banquets -- that sort of thing?”

            “Oh, yes.”

            “Do you realize what women will pay for that sort of jewelry? Ten thousand credits, at least.”

            The Commdor seemed struck in a heap, “Ah!”

            “And since the power unit of this particular item will not last longer than six months, there will be the necessity of frequent replacements. Now we can sell as many of these as you want for the equivalent in wrought iron of one thousand credits. There’s nine hundred percent profit for you.”

            The Commdor plucked at his beard and seemed engaged in awesome mental calculations, “Galaxy, how they would fight for them. I’ll keep the supply small and let them bid. Of course, it wouldn’t do to let them know that I personally--”

            Mallow said, “We can explain the workings of dummy corporations, if you would like. --Then, working further at random, take our complete line of household gadgets. We have collapsible stoves that will roast the toughest meats to the desired tenderness in two minutes. We’ve got knives that won’t require sharpening. We’ve got the equivalent of a complete laundry that can be packed in a small closet and will work entirely automatically. Ditto dish-washers. Ditto-ditto floor-scrubbers, furniture polishers, dust-precipitators, lighting fixtures -- oh, anything you like. Think of your increased popularity, if you make them available to the public. Think of your increased quantity of, uh, worldly goods, if they’re available as a government monopoly at nine hundred percent profit. It will be worth many times the money to them, and they needn’t know what you pay for it. And, mind you, none of it will require priestly supervision. Everybody will be happy.”

            “Except you, it seems. What do you get out of it?”

            “Just what every trader gets by Foundation law. My men and I will collect half of whatever profits we take in. Just you buy all I want to sell you, and we’ll both make out quite well. Quite well.”

            The Commdor was enjoying his thoughts, “What did you say you wanted to be paid with? Iron?”

            “That, and coal, and bauxite. Also tobacco, pepper, magnesium, hardwood. Nothing you haven’t got enough of.”

            “It sounds well.”

            “I think so. Oh, and still another item at random, Commdor. I could retool your factories.”

            “Eh? How’s that?”

            “Well, take your steel foundries. I have handy little gadgets that could do tricks with steel that would cut production costs to one percent of previous marks. You could cut prices by half, and still split extremely fat profits with the manufacturers. I tell you, I could show you exactly what I mean, if you allowed me a demonstration. Do you have a steel foundry in this city? It wouldn’t take long.”

            “It could be arranged, Trader Mallow. But tomorrow, tomorrow. Would you dine with us tonight?”

            “My men--” began Mallow.

            “Let them all come,” said the Commdor, expansively. “A symbolic friendly union of our nations. It will give us a chance for further friendly discussion. But one thing,” his face lengthened and grew stem, “none of your religion. Don’t think that all this is an entering wedge for the missionaries.”

            “Commdor,” said Mallow, dryly, “I give you my word that religion would cut my profits.”

            “Then that will do for now. You’ll be escorted back to your ship.”




            The Commdora was much younger than her husband. Her face was pale and coldly formed and her black hair was drawn smoothly and tightly back.

            Her voice was tart. “You are quite finished, my gracious and noble husband? Quite, quite finished? I suppose I may even enter the garden if I wish, now.”

            “There is no need for dramatics, Licia, my dear,” said the Commdor, mildly. “The young man will attend at dinner tonight, and you can speak with him all you wish and even amuse yourself by listening to all I say. Room will have to be arranged for his men somewhere about the place. The stars grant that they be few in numbers.”

            “Most likely they’ll be great hogs of eaters who will eat meat by the quarter-animal and wine by the hogshead. And you will groan for two nights when you calculate the expense.”

            “Well now, perhaps I won’t. Despite your opinion, the dinner is to be on the most lavish scale.”

            “Oh, I see.” She stared at him contemptuously. “You are very friendly with these barbarians. Perhaps that is why I was not to be permitted to attend your conversation. Perhaps your little weazened soul is plotting to turn against my father.”

            “Not at all.”

            “Yes, I’d be likely to believe you, wouldn’t I? If ever a poor woman was sacrificed for policy to an unsavory marriage, it was myself. I could have picked a more proper man from the alleys and mudheaps of my native world.”

            “Well, now, I’ll tell you what, my lady. Perhaps you would enjoy returning to your native world. Except that, to retain as a souvenir that portion of you with which I am best acquainted, I could have your tongue cut out first. And,” he tolled his head, calculatingly, to one side, “as a final improving touch to your beauty, your ears and the tip of your nose as well.”

            “You wouldn’t dare, you little pug-dog. My father would pulverize your toy nation to meteoric dust. In fact, he might do it in any case, if I told him you were treating with these barbarians.”

            “Hm-m-m. Well, there’s no need for threats. You are free to question the man yourself tonight. Meanwhile, madam, keep your wagging tongue still.”

            “At your orders?”

            “Here, take this, then, and keep still.”

            The band was about her waist and the necklace around her neck. He pushed the knob himself and stepped back.

            The Commdora drew in her breath and held out her hands stiffly. She fingered the necklace gingerly, and gasped again.

            The Commdor rubbed his hands with satisfaction and said, “You may wear it tonight -- and I’ll get you more. Now keep still.”

            The Commdora kept still.




            Jaim Twer fidgeted and shuffled his feet. He said, “What’s twisting your face?”

            Hober Mallow lifted out of his brooding, “Is my face twisted? It’s not meant so.”

            “Something must have happened yesterday, --I mean, besides that feast.” With sudden conviction, “Mallow, there’s trouble, isn’t there?”

            “Trouble? No. Quite the opposite. In fact, I’m in the position of throwing my full weight against a door and finding it ajar at the time. We’re getting into this steel foundry too easily.”

            “You suspect a trap?”

            “Oh, for Seldon’s sake, don’t be melodramatic.” Mallow swallowed his impatience and added conversationally, “It’s just that the easy entrance means there will be nothing to see.

            “Nuclear power, huh?” Twer ruminated. “I’ll tell you. There’s just about no evidence of any nuclear power economy here in Korell. And it would be pretty hard to mask all signs of the widespread effects a fundamental technology such as nucleics would have on everything.”

            “Not if it was just starting up, Twer, and being applied to a war economy. You’d find it in the shipyards and the steel foundries only.”

            “So if we don’t find it, then--”

            “Then they haven’t got it -- or they’re not showing it. Toss a coin or take a guess.”

            Twer shook his head, “I wish I’d been with you yesterday.”

            “I wish you had, too,” said Mallow stonily. “I have no objection to moral support. Unfortunately, it was the Commdor who set the terms of the meeting, and not myself. And what is coming now would seem to be the royal groundcar to escort us to the foundry. Have you got the gadgets?”

            “All of them.”




            The foundry was large, and bore the odor of decay which no amount of superficial repairs could quite erase. It was empty now and in quite an unnatural state of quiet, as it played unaccustomed host to the Commdor and his court.

            Mallow had swung the steel sheet onto the two supports with a careless heave. He had taken the instrument held out to him by Twer and was gripping the leather handle inside its leaden sheath.

            “The instrument,” he said, “is dangerous, but so is a buzz saw. You just have to keep your fingers away.”

            And as he spoke, he drew the muzzle-slit swiftly down the length of the steel sheet, which quietly and instantly fell in two.

            There was a unanimous jump, and Mallow laughed. He picked up one of the halves and propped it against his knee, “You can adjust the cutting-length accurately to a hundredth of an inch, and a two-inch sheet will slit down the middle as easily as this thing did. If you’ve got the thickness exactly judged, you can place steel on a wooden table, and split the metal without scratching the wood.”

            And at each phrase, the nuclear shear moved and a gouged chunk of steel flew across the room.

            “That,” he said, “is whittling -- with steel.”

            He passed back the shear. “Or else you have the plane. Do you want to decrease the thickness of a sheet, smooth out an irregularity, remove corrosion? Watch!”

            Thin, transparent foil flew off the other half of the original sheet in six-inch swarths, then eight-inch, then twelve.

            “Or drills? It’s all the same principle.”

            They were crowded around now. It might have been a sleight-of-hand show, a comer magician, a vaudeville act made into high-pressure salesmanship. Commdor Asper fingered scraps of steel. High officials of the government tiptoed over each other’s shoulders, and whispered, while Mallow punched clean, beautiful round holes through an inch of hard steel at every touch of his nuclear drill.

            “Just one more demonstration. Bring two short lengths of pipe, somebody.”

            An Honorable Chamberlain of something-or-other sprang to obedience in the general excitement and thought-absorption, and stained his hands like any laborer.

            Mallow stood them upright and shaved the ends off with a single stroke of the shear, and then joined the pipes, fresh cut to fresh cut.

            And there was a single pipe! The new ends, with even atomic irregularities missing, formed one piece upon joining.

            Then Mallow looked up at his audience, stumbled at his first word and stopped. There was the keen stirring of excitement in his chest, and the base of his stomach went tingly and cold.

            The Commdor’s own bodyguard, in the confusion, had struggled to the front line, and Mallow, for the first time, was near enough to see their unfamiliar hand-weapons in detail.

            They were nuclear! There was no mistaking it; an explosive projectile weapon with a barrel like that was impossible. But that wasn’t the big point. That wasn’t the point at all.

            The butts of those weapons had, deeply etched upon them, in worn gold plating, the Spaceship-and-Sun!

            The same Spaceship-and-Sun that was stamped on every. one of the great volumes of the original Encyclopedia that the Foundation had begun and not yet finished. The same Spaceship-and-Sun that had blazoned the banner of the Galactic Empire through millennia.

            Mallow talked through and around his thoughts, “Test that pipe! It’s one piece. Not perfect; naturally, the joining shouldn’t be done by hand.”

            There was no need of further legerdemain. It had gone over. Mallow was through. He had what he wanted. There was only one thing in his mind. The golden globe with its conventionalized rays, and the oblique cigar shape that was a space vessel.

            The Spaceship-and-Sun of the Empire!

            The Empire! The words drilled! A century and a half had passed but there was still the-Empire, somewhere deeper in the Galaxy. And it was emerging again, out into the Periphery.

            Mallow smiled!




            The Far Star was two days out in space, when Hober Mallow, in his private quarters with Senior Lieutenant Drawt, handed him an envelope, a roll of microfilm, and a silvery spheroid.

            “As of an hour from now, Lieutenant, you’re Acting Captain of the Far Star, until I return, --or forever.”

            Drawt made a motion of standing but Mallow waved him down imperiously.

            “Quiet, and listen. The envelope contains the exact location of the planet to which you’re to proceed. There you will wait for me for two months. If, before the two months are up, the Foundation locates you, the microfilm is my report of the trip.

            “If, however,” and his voice was somber, “I do not return at the end of two months, and Foundation vessels do not locate you, proceed to the planet, Terminus, and hand in the Time Capsule as the report. Do you understand that?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            “At no time are you, or any of the men, to amplify in any single instance, my official report.”

            “If we are questioned, sir?”

            “Then you know nothing.”

            “Yes, sir.”

            The interview ended, and fifty minutes later, a lifeboat kicked lightly off the side of the Far Star.




            Onum Barr was an old man, too old to be afraid. Since the last disturbances, he had lived alone on the fringes of the land with what books he had saved from the ruins. He had nothing he feared losing, least of all the worn remnant of his life, and so he faced the intruder without cringing.

            “Your door was open,” the stranger explained.

            His accent was clipped and harsh, and Barr did not fail to notice the strange blue-steel hand-weapon at his hip. In the half gloom of the small room, Barr saw the glow of a force-shield surrounding the man.

            He said, wearily, “There is no reason to keep it closed. Do you wish anything of me?”

            “Yes.” The stranger remained standing in the center of the room. He was large, both in height and bulk. “Yours is the only house about here.”

            “It is a desolate place,” agreed Barr, “but there is a town to the east. I can show you the way’.”

            “In a while. May I sit?”

            “If the chairs will hold you,” said the old man, gravely. They were old, too. Relics of a better youth.

            The stranger said, “My name is Hober Mallow. I come from a far province.”

            Barr nodded and smiled, “Your tongue convicted you of that long ago. I am Onum Barr of Siwenna -- and once Patrician of the Empire.”

            “Then this is Siwenna. I had only old maps to guide me.”

            “They would have to be old, indeed, for star-positions to be misplaced.”

            Barr sat quite still, while the other’s eyes drifted away into a reverie. He noticed that the nuclear force-shield had vanished from about the man and admitted dryly to himself that his person no longer seemed formidable to strangers -- or even, for good or for evil, to his enemies.

            He said, “My house is poor and my resources few. You may share what I have if your stomach can endure black bread and dried corn.”

            Mallow shook his head, “No, I have eaten, and I can’t stay. All I need are the directions to the center of government.”

            “That is easily enough done, and poor though I am, deprives me of nothing. Do you mean the capital of the planet, or of the Imperial Sector?”

            The younger man’s eyes narrowed, “Aren’t the two identical? Isn’t this Siwenna?”

            The old patrician nodded slowly, “Siwenna, yes. But Siwenna is no longer capital of the Normannic Sector. Your old map has misled you after all. The stars may not change even in centuries, but political boundaries are all too fluid.”

            “That’s too bad. In fact, that’s very bad. Is the new capital far off?”

            “It’s on Orsha II. Twenty parsecs off. Your map will direct you. How old is it?”

            “A hundred and fifty years.”

            “That old?” The old man sighed. “History has been crowded since. Do you know any of it?”

            Mallow shook his bead slowly.

            Barr said, “You’re fortunate. It has been an evil time for the provinces, but for the reign of Stannell VI, and he died fifty years ago. Since that time, rebellion and ruin, ruin and rebellion.” Barr wondered if he were growing garrulous. It was a lonely life out here, and he had so little chance to talk to men.

            Mallow said with sudden sharpness, “Ruin, eh? You sound as if the province were impoverished.”

            “Perhaps not on an absolute scale. The physical resources of twenty-five first-rank planets take a long time to use up. Compared to the wealth of the last century, though, we have gone a long way downhill -- and there is no sign of turning, not yet. Why are you so interested in all this, young man? You are all alive and your eyes shine!”

            The trader came near enough to blushing, as the faded eyes seemed to look too deep into his and smile at what they saw.

            He said, “Now look here. I’m a trader out there -- out toward the rim of the Galaxy. I’ve located some old maps, and I’m out to open new markets. Naturally, talk of impoverished provinces disturbs me. You can’t get money out of a world unless money’s there to be got. Now how’s Siwenna, for instance?”

            The old man leaned forward, “I cannot say. It will do even yet, perhaps. But you a trader? You look more like a fighting man. You hold your hand near your gun and there is a scar on your jawbone.”

            Mallow jerked his head, “There isn’t much law out there where I come from. Fighting and scars are part of a trader’s overhead. But fighting is only useful when there’s money at the end, and if I can get it without, so much the sweeter. Now will I find enough money here to make it worth the fighting? I take it I can find the fighting easily enough.”

            “Easily enough,” agreed Barr. “You could join Wiscard’s remnants in the Red Stars. I don’t know, though, if you’d call that fighting or piracy. Or you could join our present gracious viceroy -- gracious by right of murder, pillage, rapine, and the word of a boy Emperor, since rightfully assassinated.” The patrician’s thin cheeks reddened. His eyes closed and then opened, bird-bright.

            “You don’t sound very friendly to the viceroy, Patrician Barr,” said Mallow. “What if I’m one of his spies?”

            “What if you are?” said Barr, bitterly. “What can you take?” He gestured a withered arm at the bare interior of the decaying mansion.

            “Your life.”

            “It would leave me easily enough. It has been with me five years too long. But you are not one of the viceroy’s men. If you were, perhaps even now instinctive self-preservation would keep my mouth closed.”

            “How do you know?”

            The old man laughed, “You seem suspicious -- Come, I’ll wager you think I’m trying to trap you into denouncing the government. No, no. I am past politics.”

            “Past politics? Is a man ever past that? The words you used to describe the viceroy -- what were they? Murder, pillage, all that. You didn’t sound objective. Not exactly. Not as if you were past politics.”

            The old man shrugged, “Memories sting when they come suddenly. Listen! Judge for yourself! When Siwenna was the provincial capital, I was a patrician and a member of the provincial senate. My family was an old and honored one. One of my great-grandfathers had been-- No, never mind that. Past glories are poor feeding.”

            “I take it,” said Mallow, “there was a civil war, or a revolution.”

            Barr’s face darkened. “Civil wars are chronic in these degenerate days, but Siwenna had kept apart. Under Stannell VI, it had almost achieved its ancient prosperity. But weak emperors followed, and weak emperors mean strong viceroys, and our last viceroy -- the same Wiscard, whose remnants still prey on the commerce among the Red Stars -- aimed at the Imperial Purple. He wasn’t the first to aim. And if he had succeeded, he wouldn’t have been the first to succeed.

            “But he failed. For when the Emperor’s Admiral approached the province at the head of a fleet, Siwenna itself rebelled against its rebel viceroy.” He stopped, sadly.

            Mallow found himself tense on the edge of his seat, and relaxed slowly, “Please continue, sir.”

            “Thank you,” said Barr, wearily. “It’s kind of you to humor an old man. They rebelled; or I should say, we rebelled, for I was one of the minor leaders. Wiscard left Siwenna, barely ahead of us, and the planet, and with it the province, were thrown open to the admiral with every gesture of loyalty to the Emperor. Why we did this, --I’m not sure. Maybe we felt loyal to the symbol, if not the person, of the Emperor, --a cruel and vicious child. Maybe we feared the horrors of a siege.”

            “Well?” urged Mallow, gently.

            “Well, came the grim retort, “that didn’t suit the admiral. He wanted the glory of conquering a rebellious province and his men wanted the loot such conquest would involve. So while the people were still gathered in every large city, cheering the Emperor and his admiral, he occupied all armed centers, and then ordered the population put to the nuclear blast.”

            “On what pretext?”

            “On the pretext that they had rebelled against their viceroy, the Emperor’s anointed. And the admiral became the new viceroy, by virtue of one month of massacre, pillage and complete horror. I had six sons. Five died -- variously. I had a daughter. I hope she died, eventually. I escaped because I was old. I came here, too old to cause even our viceroy worry.” He bent his gray head, “They left me nothing, because I had helped drive out a rebellious governor and deprived an admiral of his glory.”

            Mallow sat silent, and waited. Then, “What of your sixth son?” he asked softly.

            “Eh?” Barr smiled acidly. “He is safe, for he has joined the admiral as a common soldier under an assumed name. He is a gunner in the viceroy’s personal fleet. Oh, no, I see your eyes. He is not an unnatural son. He visits me when he can and gives me what he can. He keeps me alive. And some day, our great and glorious viceroy will grovel to his death, and it will be my son who will be his executioner.”

            “And you tell this to a stranger? You endanger your son.”

            “No. I help him, by introducing a new enemy. And were I a friend of the viceroy, as I am his enemy, I would tell him to string outer space with ships, clear to the rim of the Galaxy.”

            “There are no ships there?”

            “Did you find any? Did any space-guards question your entry? With ships few enough, and the bordering provinces filled with their share of intrigue and iniquity, none can be spared to guard the barbarian outer suns. No danger ever threatened us from the broken edge of the Galaxy, --until you came.”

            “I? I’m no danger.”

            “There will be more after you.”

            Mallow shook his head slowly, “I’m not sure I understand you.”

            “Listen!” There was a feverish edge to the old man’s voice. “I knew you when you entered. You have a force-shield about your body, or had when I first saw you.”

            Doubtful silence, then, “Yes, --I had.”

            “Good. That was a flaw, but you didn’t know that. There are some things I know. It’s out of fashion in these decaying times to be a scholar. Events race and flash past and who cannot fight the tide with nuclear-blast in hand is swept away, as I was. But I was a scholar, and I know that in all the history of nucleics, no portable force-shield was ever invented. We have force-shields -- huge, lumbering powerhouses that will protect a city, or even a ship, but not one, single man.”

            “Ah?” Mallow’s underlip thrust out. “And what do you deduce from that?”

            “There have been stories percolating through space. They travel strange paths and become distorted with every parsec, --but when I was young there was a small ship of strange men, who did not know our customs and could not tell where they came from. They talked of magicians at the edge of the Galaxy; magicians who glowed in the darkness, who flew unaided through the air, and whom weapons would not touch.

            “We laughed. I laughed, too. I forgot it till today. But you glow in the darkness, and I don’t think my blaster, if I had one, would hurt you. Tell me, can you fly through air as you sit there now?”

            Mallow said calmly, “I can make nothing of all this.”

            Barr smiled, “I’m content with the answer. I do not examine my guests. But if there are magicians; if you are one of them; there may some day be a great influx of them, or you. Perhaps that would be well. Maybe we need new blood.” He muttered soundlessly to himself, then, slowly, “But it works the other way, too. Our new viceroy also dreams, as did our old Wiscard.”

            “Also after the Emperor’s crown?”

            Barr nodded, “My son hears tales. In the viceroy’s personal entourage, one could scarcely help it. And he tells me of them. Our new viceroy would not refuse the Crown if offered, but he guards his line of retreat. There are stories that, failing Imperial heights, he plans to carve out a new Empire in the Barbarian hinterland. It is said, but I don’t vouch for this, that he has already given one of his daughters as wife to a Kinglet somewhere in the uncharted Periphery.”

            “If one listened to every story--”

            “I know. There are many more. I’m old and I babble nonsense. But what do you say?” And those sharp, old eyes peered deep.

            The trader considered, “I say nothing. But I’d like to ask something. Does Siwenna have nuclear power? Now, wait, I know that it possesses the knowledge of nucleics. I mean, do they have power generators intact, or did the recent sack destroy them?”

            “Destroy them? Oh, no. Half a planet would be wiped out before the smallest power station would be touched. They are irreplaceable and the suppliers of the strength of the fleet.” Almost proudly, “We have the largest and best on this side of Trantor itself.”

            “Then what would I do first if I wanted to see these generators?”

            “Nothing!” replied Barr, decisively. “You couldn’t approach any military center without being shot down instantly. Neither could anyone. Siwenna is still deprived of civic rights.”

            “You mean all the power stations are under the military?”

            “No. There are the small city stations, the ones supplying power for heating and lighting homes, powering vehicles and so forth. Those are almost as bad. They’re controlled by the tech-men.”

            “Who are they?”

            “A specialized group which supervises the power plants. The honor is hereditary, the young ones being brought up in the profession as apprentices. Strict sense of duty, honor, and all that. No one but a tech-man could enter a station.”

            “I see.”

            “I don’t say, though,” added Barr, “that there aren’t cases where tech-men haven’t been bribed. In days when we have nine emperors in fifty years and seven of these are assassinated, --when every space-captain aspires to the usurpation of a viceroyship, and every viceroy to the Imperium,

            I suppose even a tech-man can fall prey to money. But it would require a good deal, and I have none. Have you?”

            “Money? No. But does one always bribe with money?”

            “What else, when money buys all else.”

            “There is quite enough that money won’t buy. And now if you’ll tell me the nearest city with one of the stations, and how best to get there, I’ll thank you.”

            “Wait!” Barr held out his thin hands. “Where do you rush? You come here, but I ask no questions. In the city, where the inhabitants are still called rebels, you would be challenged by the first soldier or guard who heard your accent and saw your clothes.”

            He rose and from an obscure comer of an old chest brought out a booklet. “My passport, --forged. I escaped with it.”

            He placed it in Mallow’s hand and folded the fingers over it. “The description doesn’t fit, but if you flourish it, the chances are many to one they will not look closely.”

            “But you. You’ll be left without one.”

            The old exile shrugged cynically, “What of it? And a further caution. Curb your tongue! Your accent is barbarous, your idioms peculiar, and every once in a while you deliver yourself of the most astounding archaisms. The less you speak, the less suspicion you will draw upon yourself. Now I’ll tell you how to get to the city--”

            Five minutes later, Mallow was gone.

            He returned but once, for a moment, to the old patrician’s house, before leaving it entirely, however. And when Onum Barr stepped into his little garden early the next morning, he found a box at his feet. It contained provisions, concentrated provisions such as one would find aboard ship, and alien in taste and preparation.

            But they were good, and lasted long.




            The tech-man was short, and his skin glistened with well-kept plumpness. His hair was a fringe and his skull shone through pinkly. The rings on his fingers were thick and heavy, his clothes were scented, and he was the first man Mallow had met on the planet who hadn’t looked hungry.

            The tech-man’s lips pursed peevishly, “Now, my man, quickly. I have things of great importance waiting for me. You seem a stranger--” He seemed to evaluate Mallow’s definitely un-Siwennese costume and his eyelids were heavy with suspicion.

            “I am not of the neighborhood,” said Mallow, calmly, “but the matter is irrelevant. I have had the honor to send you a little gift yesterday--”

            The tech-man’s nose lifted, “I received it. An interesting gewgaw. I may have use for it on occasion.”

            “I have other and more interesting gifts. Quite out of the gewgaw stage.”

            “Oh-h?” The tech-man’s voice lingered thoughtfully over the monosyllable. “I think I already see the course of the interview; it has happened before. You are going to give me some trifle or other. A few credits, perhaps a cloak, second-rate jewelry; anything your little soul may think sufficient to corrupt a tech-man.” His lower lip puffed out belligerently, “And I know what you wish in exchange. There have been others and to spare with the same bright idea. You wish to be adopted into our clan. You wish to be taught the mysteries of nucleics and the care of the machines. You think because you dogs of Siwenna -- and probably your strangerhood is assumed for safety’s sake -- are being daily punished for your rebellion that you can escape what you deserve by throwing over yourselves the privileges and protections of the tech-man’s guild.”

            Mallow would have spoken, but the tech-man raised himself into a sudden roar. “And now leave before I report your name to the Protector of the City. Do you think that I would betray the trust? The Siwennese traitors that preceded me would have -- perhaps! But you deal with a different breed now. Why, Galaxy, I marvel that I do not kill you myself at this moment with my bare hands.”

            Mallow smiled to himself. The entire speech was patently artificial in tone and content, so that all the dignified indignation degenerated into uninspired farce.

            The trader glanced humorously at the two flabby hands that had been named as his possible executioners then and there, and said, “Your Wisdom, you are wrong on three counts. First, I am not a creature of the viceroy come to test your loyalty. Second, my gift is something the Emperor himself in all his splendor does not and will never possess. Third, what I wish in return is very little; a nothing; a mere breath.”

            “So you say!” He descended into heavy sarcasm. “Come, what is this imperial donation that your godlike power wishes to bestow upon me? Something the Emperor doesn’t have, eh?” He broke into a sharp squawk of derision.

            Mallow rose and pushed the chair aside, “I have waited three days to see you, Your Wisdom, but the display will take only three seconds. If you will just draw that blaster whose butt I see very near your hand--”


            “And shoot me, I will be obliged.”


            “If I am killed, you can tell the police I tried to bribe you into betraying guild secrets. You’ll receive high praise. If I am not killed, you may have my shield.”

            For the first time, the tech-man became aware of the dimly-white illumination that hovered closely about his visitor, as though he had been dipped in pearl-dust. His blaster raised to the level and with eyes a-squint in wonder and suspicion, he closed contact.

            The molecules of air caught in the sudden surge of atomic disruption, tore into glowing, burning ions, and marked out the blinding thin line that struck at Mallow’s heart -- and splashed!

            While Mallow’s look of patience never changed, the nuclear forces that tore at him consumed themselves against that fragile, pearly illumination, and crashed back to die in mid-air.

            The tech-man’s blaster dropped to the floor with an unnoticed crash.

            Mallow said, “Does the Emperor have a personal force-shield? You can have one.”

            The tech-man stuttered, “Are you a tech-man?”


            “Then -- then where did you get that?”

            “What do you care?” Mallow was coolly contemptuous. “Do you want it?” A thin, knobbed chain fell upon the desk, “There it is.”

            The tech-man snatched it up and fingered it nervously, “Is this complete?”


            “Where’s the power?”

            Mallow’s finger fell upon the largest knob, dull in its leaden case.

            The tech-man looked up, and his face was congested with blood, “Sir, I am a tech-man, senior grade. I have twenty years behind me as supervisor and I studied under the great Bier at the University of Trantor. If you have the infernal charlatanry to tell me that a small container the size of a -- of a walnut, blast it, holds a nuclear generator, I’ll have you before the Protector in three seconds.”

            “Explain it yourself then, if you can. I say it’s complete.”

            The tech-man’s flush faded slowly as he bound the chain about his waist, and, following Mallow’s gesture, pushed the knob. The radiance that surrounded him shone into dim relief. His blaster lifted, then hesitated. Slowly, he adjusted it to an almost burnless minimum.

            And then, convulsively, he closed circuit and the nuclear fire dashed against his hand, harmlessly.

            He whirled, “And what if I shoot you now, and keep the shield.”

            “Try!” said Mallow. “Do you think I gave you my only sample?” And he, too, was solidly incased in light.

            The tech-man giggled nervously. The blaster clattered onto the desk. He said, “And what is this mere nothing, this breath, that you wish in return’?”

            “I want to see your generators.”

            “You realize that that is forbidden. It would mean ejection into space for both of us--”

            “I don’t want to touch them or have anything to do with them. I want to see them -- from a distance.”

            “If not?”

            “If not, you have your shield, but I have other things. For one thing, a blaster especially designed to pierce that shield.”

            “Hm-m-m.” The tech-man’s eyes shifted. “Come with me.”




            The tech-man’s home was a small two-story affair on the Outskirts of the huge, cubiform, windowless affair that dominated the center of the city. Mallow passed from one to the other through an underground passage, and found himself in the silent, ozone-tinged atmosphere of the powerhouse.

            For fifteen minutes, he followed his guide and said nothing. His eyes missed nothing. His fingers touched nothing. And then, the tech-man said in strangled tones, “Have you had enough? I couldn’t trust my underlings in this case.”

            “Could you ever?” asked Mallow, ironically. “I’ve had enough.”

            They were back in the office and Mallow said, thoughtfully, “And all those generators are in your hands?”

            “Every one,” said the tech-man, with more than a touch of complacency.

            “And you keep them running and in order?”


            “And if they break down?”

            The tech-man shook his head indignantly, “They don’t break down. They never break down. They were built for eternity.”

            “Eternity is a long time. Just suppose--”

            “It is unscientific to suppose meaningless cases.”

            “All right. Suppose I were to blast a vital part into nothingness? I suppose the machines aren’t immune to nuclear forces? Suppose I fuse a vital connection, or smash a quartz D-tube?”

            “Well, then,” shouted the tech-man, furiously, “you would be killed.”

            “Yes, I know that,” Mallow was shouting, too, “but what about the generator? Could you repair it?”

            “Sir,” the tech-man howled his words, “you have had a fair return. You’ve had what you asked for. Now get out! I owe you nothing more!”

            Mallow bowed with a satiric respect and left.

            Two days later he was back where the Far Star waited to return with him to the planet, Terminus.

            And two days later, the tech-man’s shield went dead, and for all his puzzling and cursing never glowed again.




            Mallow relaxed for almost the first time in six months. He was on his back in the sunroom of his new house, stripped to the skin. His great, brown arms were thrown up and out, and the muscles tautened into a stretch, then faded into repose.

            The man beside him placed a cigar between Mallow’s teeth and lit it. He champed on one of his own and said, “You must be overworked. Maybe you need a long rest.”

            “Maybe I do, Jael, but I’d rather rest in a council seat. Because I’m going to have that seat, and you’re going to help me.”

            Ankor Jael raised his eyebrows and said, “How did I get into this?”

            “You got in obviously. Firstly, you’re an old dog of a politico. Secondly, you were booted out of your cabinet seat by Jorane Sutt, the same fellow who’d rather lose an eyeball than see me in the council. You don’t think much of my chances, do you?”

            “Not much,” agreed the ex-Minister of Education. “You’re a Smyrnian.”

            “That’s no legal bar. I’ve had a lay education.”

            “Well, come now. Since when does prejudice follow any law but its own. Now, how about your own man -- this Jaim Twer? What does he say?”

            “He spoke about running me for council almost a year ago,” replied Mallow easily, “but I’ve outgrown him. He couldn’t have pulled it off in any case. Not enough depth. He’s loud and forceful -- but that’s only an expression of nuisance value. I’m off to put over a real coup. I need you.

            “Jorane Sutt is the cleverest politician on the planet and he’ll be against you. I don’t claim to be able to outsmart him. And don’t think he doesn’t fight hard, and dirty.”

            “I’ve got money.”

            “Mat helps. But it takes a lot to buy off prejudice, you dirty Smyrnian.”

            “I’ll have a lot.”

            “Well, I’ll look into the matter. But don’t ever you crawl up on your hind legs and bleat that I encouraged you in the matter. Who’s that?”

            Mallow pulled the corners of his mouth down, and said, “Jorane Sutt himself, I think. He’s early, and I can understand it. I’ve been dodging him for a month. Look, Jael, get into the next room, and turn the speaker on low. I want you to listen.”

            He helped the council member out of the room with a shove of his bare foot, then scrambled up and into a silk robe. The synthetic sunlight faded to normal power.

            The secretary to the mayor entered stiffly, while the solemn major-domo tiptoed the door shut behind him.

            Mallow fastened his belt and said, “Take your choice of chairs, Sutt.”

            Sutt barely cracked a flickering smile. The chair he chose was comfortable but he did not relax into it. From its edge, he said, “If you’ll state your terms to begin with, we’ll get down to business.”

            “What terms?”

            “You wish to be coaxed? Well, then, what, for instance, did you do at Korell? Your report was incomplete.”

            “I gave it to you months ago. You were satisfied then.”

            Yes,” Sutt rubbed his forehead thoughtfully with one finger, “but since then your activities have been significant. We know a good deal of what you’re doing, Mallow. We know, exactly, how many factories you’re putting up; in what a hurry you’re doing it; and how much it’s costing you. And there’s this palace you have,” he gazed about him with a cold lack of appreciation, “which set you back considerably more than my annual salary; and a swathe you’ve been cutting -- a very considerable and expensive swathe -- through the upper layers of Foundation society.”

            “So? Beyond proving that you employ capable spies, what does it show?”

            “It shows you have money you didn’t have a year ago. And that can show anything -- for instance, that a good deal went on at Korell that we know nothing of. Where are you getting your money?”

            “My dear Sutt, you can’t really expect me to tell you.”

            “I don’t.”

            “I didn’t think you did. That’s why I’m going to tell you. It’s straight from the treasure-chests of the Commdor of Korell.”

            Sutt blinked.

            Mallow smiled and continued. “Unfortunately for you, the money is quite legitimate. I’m a Master Trader and the money I received was a quantity of wrought iron and chromite in exchange for a number of trinkets I was able to supply him with. Fifty per cent of the profit is mine by hidebound contract with the Foundation. The other half goes to the government at the end of the year when all good citizens pay their income tax.”

            “There was no mention of any trade agreement in your report.”

            “Nor was there any mention of what I had for breakfast that day, or the name of my current mistress, or any other irrelevant detail.” Mallow’s smile was fading into a sneer. “I was sent -- to quote yourself -- to keep my eyes open. They were never. shut. You wanted to find out what happened to the captured Foundation merchant ships. I never saw or heard of them. You wanted to find out if Korell had nuclear power. My report tells of nuclear blasters in the possession of the Commdor’s private bodyguard. I saw no other signs. And the blasters I did see are relics of the old Empire, and may be show-pieces that do not work, for all my knowledge.

            “So far, I followed orders, but beyond that I was, and. still am, a free agent. According to the laws of the Foundation, a Master Trader may open whatever new markets he can, and receive therefrom his due half of the profits. What are your objections? I don’t see them.”

            Sutt bent his eyes carefully towards the wall and spoke with a difficult lack of anger, “It is the general custom of all traders to advance the religion with their trade.”

            “I adhere to law, and not to custom.”

            “There are times when custom can be the higher law.”

            “Then appeal to the courts.”

            Sutt raised somber eyes which seemed to retreat into their sockets. “You’re a Smyrnian after all. It seems naturalization and education can’t wipe out the taint in the blood. Listen, and try to understand, just the same.

            “This goes beyond money, or markets. We have the science of the great Hari Seldon to prove that upon us depends the future empire of the Galaxy, and from the course that leads to that Imperium we cannot turn. The religion we have is our all-important instrument towards that end. With it we have brought the Four Kingdoms under our control, even at the moment when they would have crushed us. It is the most potent device known with which to control men and worlds.

            “The primary reason for the development of trade and traders was to introduce and spread this religion more quickly, and to insure that the introduction of new techniques and a new economy would be subject to our thorough and intimate control.”

            He paused for breath, and Mallow interjected quietly, “I know the theory. I understand it entirely.”

            “Do you? It is more than I expected. Then you see, of course, that your attempt at trade for its own sake; at mass production of worthless gadgets, which can only affect a world’s economy superficially; at the subversion of interstellar policy to the god of profits; at the divorce of nuclear power from our controlling religion -- can only end with the overthrow and complete negation of the policy that has worked successfully for a century.”

            “And time enough, too,” said Mallow, indifferently, “for a policy outdated, dangerous and impossible. However well your religion has succeeded in the Four Kingdoms, scarcely another world in the Periphery has accepted it. At the time we seized control of the Kingdoms, there were a sufficient number of exiles, Galaxy knows, to spread the story of how Salvor Hardin used the priesthood and the superstition of the people to overthrow the independence and power of the secular monarchs. And if that wasn’t enough, the case of Askone two decades back made it plain enough. There isn’t a ruler in the Periphery now that wouldn’t sooner cut his own throat than let a priest of the Foundation enter the territory.

            “I don’t propose to force Korell or any other world to accept something I know they don’t want. No, Sutt. If nuclear power makes them dangerous, a sincere friendship through trade will be many times better than an insecure overlordship, based on the hated supremacy of a foreign spiritual power, which, once it weakens ever so slightly, can only fall entirely and leave nothing substantial behind except an immortal fear and hate.”

            Suit said cynically, “Very nicely put. So, to get back to the original point of discussion, what are your terms? What do you require to exchange your ideas for mine?”

            “You think my convictions are for sale?”

            “Why not?” came the cold response. “Isn’t that your business, buying and selling?”

            “Only at a profit,” said Mallow, unoffended. “Can you offer me more than I’m getting as is?”

            “You could have three-quarters of your trade profits, rather than half.”

            Mallow laughed shortly, “A fine offer. The whole of the trade on your terms would fall far below -- a tenth share on mine. Try harder than that.”

            “You could have a council seat.”

            “I’ll have that anyway, without and despite you.”

            With a sudden movement, Sutt clenched his fist, “You could also save yourself a prison term. Of twenty years, if I have my way. Count the profit in that.”

            “No profit at all, but can you fulfill such a threat?”

            “How about a trial for murder?”

            “Whose murder?” asked Mallow, contemptuously.

            Sutt’s voice was harsh now, though no louder than before, “The murder of an Anacreonian priest, in the service of the Foundation.”

            “Is that so now? And what’s your evidence?”

            The secretary to the mayor leaned forward, “Mallow, I’m not bluffing. The preliminaries are over. I have only to sign one final paper and the case of the Foundation versus Hober Mallow, Master Trader, is begun. You abandoned a subject of the Foundation to torture and death at the hands of an alien mob, Mallow, and you have only five seconds to prevent the punishment due you. For myself, I’d rather you decided to bluff it out. You’d be safer as a destroyed enemy, than as a doubtfully-converted friend.”

            Mallow said solemnly, “You have your wish.”

            “Good!” and the secretary smiled savagely. “It was the mayor who wished the preliminary attempt at compromise, not I. Witness that I did not try too hard.”

            The door opened before him, and he left.

            Mallow looked up as Ankor Jael re-entered the room.

            Mallow said, “Did you hear him?”

            The politician flopped to the floor. “I never heard him as angry as that, since I’ve known the snake.”

            “All right. What do you make of it?”

            “Well, I’ll tell you. A foreign policy of domination through spiritual means is his idee fixe, but it’s my notion that his ultimate aims aren’t spiritual. I was fired out of the Cabinet for arguing on the same issue, as I needn’t tell you.”

            “You needn’t. And what are those unspiritual aims according to your notion?”

            Jael grew serious, “Well, he’s not stupid, so he must see the bankruptcy of our religious policy, which has hardly made a single conquest for us in seventy years. He’s obviously using it for purposes of his own.

            “Now any dogma primarily based on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user. For a hundred years now, we’ve supported a ritual and mythology that is becoming more and more venerable, traditional -- and immovable. In some ways, it isn’t under our control any more.”

            “In what ways?” demanded Mallow. “Don’t stop. I want your thoughts.”

            “Well, suppose one man, one ambitious man, uses the force of religion against us, rather than for us.”

            “You mean Sutt--”

            “You’re right. I mean Sutt. Listen, man, if he could mobilize the various hierarchies on the subject planets against the Foundation in the name of orthodoxy, what chance would we stand? By planting himself at the head of the standards of the pious, he could make war on heresy, as represented by you, for instance, and make himself king eventually. After all, it was Hardin who said: ‘A nuclear blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.’“

            Mallow slapped his bare thigh, “All right, Jael, then get me in that council, and I’ll fight him.”

            Jael paused, then said significantly, “Maybe not. What was all that about having a priest lynched? Is isn’t true, is it?”

            “It’s true enough,” Mallow said, carelessly.

            Jael whistled, “Has he definite proof?”

            “He should have.” Mallow hesitated, then added, “Jaim Twer was his man from the beginning, though neither of them knew that I knew that. And Jaim Twer was an eyewitness.”

            Jael shook his head. “Uh-uh. That’s bad.”

            “Bad? What’s bad about it? That priest was illegally upon the planet by the Foundation’s own laws. He was obviously used by the Korellian government as a bait, whether involuntary or not. By all the laws of common-sense, I had no choice but one action -- and that action was strictly within the law. If he brings me to trial, he’ll do nothing but make a prime fool of himself.”

            And Jael shook his head again, “No, Mallow, you’ve missed it. I told you he played dirty. He’s not out to convict you; he knows he can’t do that. But he is out to ruin your standing with the people. You heard what he said. Custom is higher than law, at times. You could walk out of the trial scot-free, but if the people think you threw a priest to the dogs, your popularity is gone.

            “They’ll admit you did the legal thing, even the sensible thing. But just the same you’ll have been, in their eyes, a cowardly dog, an unfeeling brute, a hard-hearted monster. And you would never get elected to the council. You might even lose your rating as Master Trader by having your citizenship voted away from you. You’re not native born, you know. What more do you think Sutt can want?” Mallow frowned stubbornly, “So!” “My boy,” said Jael. “I’ll stand by you, but I can’t help. You’re on the spot, --dead center.”




            The council chamber was full in a very literal sense on the fourth day of the trial of Hober Mallow, Master Trader. The only councilman absent was feebly cursing the fractured skull that had bedridden him. The galleries were filled to the aisleways and ceilings with those few of the crowd who by influence, wealth, or sheer diabolic perseverance had managed to get in. The rest filled the square outside, in swarming knots about the open-air trimensional ‘visors.

            Ankor Jael made his way into the chamber with the near-futile aid and exertions of the police department, and then through the scarcely smaller confusion within to Hober Mallow’s seat.

            Mallow turned with relief, “By Seldon, you cut it thin. Have you got it?”

            “Here, take it,” said Jael. “It’s everything you asked for.”

            “Good. How are they taking it outside?”

            “They’re wild clear through.” Jael stirred uneasily, “You should never have allowed public hearings. You could have stopped them.”

            “I didn’t want to.”

            “There’s lynch talk. And Publis Manlio’s men on the outer planets--”

            “I wanted to ask you about that, Jael. He’s stirring up the Hierarchy against me, is he?”

           Is he? It’s the sweetest setup you ever saw, As Foreign Secretary, he handles the prosecution in a case of interstellar law. As High Priest and Primate of the Church, he rouses the fanatic hordes--”

            “Well, forget it. Do you remember that Hardin quotation you threw at me last month? We’ll show them that the nuclear blaster can point both ways.”

            The mayor was taking his seat now and the council members were rising in respect.

            Mallow whispered, “It’s my turn today. Sit here and watch the fun.”

            The day’s proceedings began and fifteen minutes later, Hober Mallow stepped through a hostile whisper to the empty space before the mayor’s bench. A lone beam of light centered upon him and in the public ‘visors of the city, as well as on the myriads of private ‘visors in almost every home of the Foundation’s planets, the lonely giant figure of a man stared out defiantly.

            He began easily and quietly, “To save time, I will admit the truth of every point made against me by the prosecution. The story of the priest and the mob as related by them is perfectly accurate in every detail.”

            There was a stirring in the chamber and a triumphant mass-snarl from the gallery. He waited patiently for silence.

            “However, the picture they presented fell short of completion. I ask the privilege of supplying the completion in my own fashion. My story may seem irrelevant at first. I ask your indulgence for that.”

            Mallow made no reference to the notes before him.

            “I begin at the same time as the prosecution did; the day of my meeting with Jorane Sutt and Jaim Twer. What went on at those meetings you know. The conversations have been described, and to that description I have nothing to add -- except my own thoughts of that day.

            “They were suspicious thoughts, for the events of that day were queer. Consider. Two people, neither of whom I knew more than casually, make unnatural and somewhat unbelievable propositions to me. One, the secretary to the mayor, asks me to play the part of intelligence agent to the government in a highly confidential matter, the nature and importance of which has already been explained to you. The other, self-styled leader of a political party, asks me to run for a council seat.

            “Naturally I looked for the ulterior motive. Sutt’s seemed evident. He didn’t trust me. Perhaps he thought I was selling nuclear power to enemies and plotting rebellion. And perhaps he was forcing the issue, or thought he was. In that case, he would need a man of his own near me on my proposed mission, as a spy. The last thought, however, did not occur to me until later on, when Jaim Twer came on the scene.

            “Consider again: Twer presents himself as a trader, retired into politics, yet I know of no details of his trading career, although my knowledge of the field is immense. And further, although Twer boasted of a lay education, he had never heard of a Seldon crisis.”

            Hober Mallow waited to let the significance sink in and was rewarded with the first silence he had yet encountered, as the gallery caught its collective breath. That was for the inhabitants of Terminus itself. The men of the Outer Planets could hear only censored versions that would suit the requirements of religion. They would hear nothing of Seldon crises. But there would be further strokes they would not miss.

            Mallow continued:

            “Who here can honestly state that any man with a lay education can possibly be ignorant of the nature of a Seldon crisis? There is only one type of education upon the Foundation that excludes all mention of the planned history of Seldon and deals only with the man himself as a semi-mythical wizard--

            “I knew at that instant that Jaim Twer had never been a trader. I knew then that he was in holy orders and perhaps a full-fledged priest; and, doubtless, that for the three years he had pretended to head a political party of the traders, he had been a bought man of Jorane Sutt.

            “At the moment, I struck in the dark. I did not know Sun’s purposes with regard to myself, but since he seemed to be feeding me rope liberally, I handed him a few fathoms of my own. My notion was that Twer was to be with me on my voyage as unofficial guardian on behalf of Jorane Sutt. Well, if he didn’t get on, I knew well there’d be other devices waiting -- and those others I might not catch in time. A known enemy is relatively safe. I invited Twer to come with me. He accepted.

            “That, gentlemen of the council, explains two things. First, it tells you that Twer is not a friend of mine testifying against me reluctantly and for conscience’ sake, as the prosecution would have you believe. He is a spy, performing his paid job. Secondly, it explains a certain action of mine on the occasion of the first appearance of the priest whom I am accused of having murdered -- an action as yet unmentioned, because unknown.”

            Now there was a disturbed whispering in the council. Mallow cleared his throat theatrically, and continued:

            “I hate to describe my feelings when I first heard that we had a refugee missionary on board. I even hate to remember them. Essentially, they consisted of wild uncertainty. The event struck me at the moment as a move by Sutt, and passed beyond my comprehension or calculation. I was at sea -- and completely.

            “There was one thing I could do. I got rid of Twer for five minutes by sending him after my officers. In his absence, I set up a Visual Record receiver, so that whatever happened might be preserved for future study. This was in the hope, the wild but earnest hope, that what confused me at the time might become plain upon review.

            “I have gone over that Visual Record some fifty times since. I have it here with me now, and will repeat the job a fifty-first time in your presence right now.”

            The mayor pounded monotonously for order, as the chamber lost its equilibrium and the gallery roared. In five million homes on Terminus, excited observers crowded their receiving sets more closely, and at the prosecutor’s own bench, Jorane Sutt shook his head coldly at the nervous high priest, while his eyes blazed fixedly on Mallow’s face.

            The center of the chamber was cleared, and the lights burnt low. Ankor Jael, from his bench on the left, made the adjustments, and with a preliminary click, a holographic scene sprang to view; in color, in three-dimensions, in every attribute of life but life itself.

            There was the missionary, confused and battered, standing between the lieutenant and the sergeant. Mallow’s image waited silently, and then men filed in, Twer bringing up the rear.

            The conversation played itself out, word for word. The sergeant was disciplined, and the missionary was questioned. The mob appeared, their growl could be heard, and the Revered Jord Parma made his wild appeal. Mallow drew his gun, and the missionary, as he was dragged away, lifted his arms in a mad, final curse and a tiny flash of light came and went.

            The scene ended, with the officers frozen at the horror of the situation, while Twer clamped shaking hands over his ears, and Mallow calmly put his gun away.

            The lights were on again; the empty space in the center of the floor was no longer even apparently full. Mallow, the real Mallow of the present, took up the burden of his narration:

            “The incident, you see, is exactly as the prosecution has presented it -- on the surface. I’ll explain that shortly. Jaim Twer’s emotions through the whole business shows clearly a priestly education, by the way.

            “It was on that same day that I pointed out certain incongruities in the episode to Twer. I asked him where the missionary came from in the midst of the near-desolate tract we occupied at the time. I asked further where the gigantic mob had come from with the nearest sizable town a hundred miles away. The prosecution has paid no attention to such problems.

            “Or to other points; for instance, the curious point of Jord Parma’s blatant conspicuousness. A missionary on Korell, risking his life in defiance of both Korellian and Foundation law, parades about in a very new and very distinctive priestly costume. There’s something wrong there. At the time, I suggested that the missionary was an unwitting accomplice of the Commdor, who was using him in an attempt to force us into an act of wildly illegal aggression, to justify, in law, his subsequent destruction of our ship and of us.

            “The prosecution has anticipated this justification of my actions. They have expected me to explain that the safety of my ship, my crew, my mission itself were at stake and could not be sacrificed for one man, when that man would, in any case, have been destroyed, with us or without us. They reply by muttering about the Foundation’s ‘honor’ and the necessity of upholding our ‘dignity’ in order to maintain our ascendancy.

            “For some strange reason, however, the prosecution has neglected Jord Parma himself, --as an individual. They brought out no details concerning him; neither his birthplace, nor his education, nor any detail of previous history. The explanation of this will also explain the incongruities I have pointed out in the Visual Record you have just seen. The two are connected.

            “The prosecution has advanced no details concerning Jord Parma because it cannot. That scene you saw by Visual Record seemed phoney because Jord Parma was phoney. There never was a Jord Parma. This whole trial is the biggest farce ever cooked up over an issue that never existed.”

            Once more he had to wait for the babble to die down. He said, slowly:

            “I’m going to show you the enlargement of a single still from the Visual Record. It will speak for itself. Lights again, Jael.”

            The chamber dimmed, and the empty air filled again with frozen figures in ghostly, waxen illusion. The officers of the Far Star struck their stiff, impossible attitudes. A gun pointed from Mallow’s rigid hand. At his left, the Revered Jord Parma, caught in mid-shriek, stretched his claws upward, while the failing sleeves hung halfway.

            And from the missionary’s hand there was that little gleam that in the previous showing had flashed and gone. It was a permanent glow now.

            “Keep your eye on that light on his hand,” called Mallow from the shadows. “Enlarge that scene, Jael!”

            The tableau bloated quickly. Outer portions fell away as the missionary drew towards the center and became a giant. Then there was only a hand and an arm, and then only a hand, which filled everything and remained there in immense, hazy tautness.

            The light had become a set of fuzzy, glowing letters: K S P.

            “That,” Mallow’s voice boomed out, “is a sample of tatooing, gentlemen. Under ordinary light it is invisible, but under ultraviolet light -- with which I flooded the room in taking this Visual Record, it stands out in high relief. I’ll admit it is a naive method of secret identification, but it works on Korell, where UV light is not to be found on street comers. Even in our ship, detection was accidental.

            “Perhaps some of you have already guessed what K S P stands for. Jord Parma knew his priestly lingo well and did his job magnificently. Where he had learned it, and how, I cannot say, but K S P stands for ‘Korellian Secret Police.’“

            Mallow shouted over the tumult, roaring against the noise, “I have collateral proof in the form of documents brought from Korell, which I can present to the council if required.

            “And where is now the prosecution’s case? They have already made and re-made the monstrous suggestion that I should have fought for the missionary in defiance of the law, and sacrificed my mission, my ship, and myself to the ‘honor’ of the Foundation.

            “But to do it for an impostor?

            “Should I have done it then for a Korellian secret agent tricked out in the robes and verbal gymnastics probably borrowed of an Anacreonian exile? Would Jorane Sutt and Publis Manlio have had me fall into a stupid, odious trap--”

            His hoarsened voice faded into the featureless background of a shouting mob. He was being lifted onto shoulders, and carried to the mayor’s bench. Out the windows, he could see a torrent of madmen swarming into the square to add to the thousands there already.

            Mallow looked about for Ankor Jael, but it was impossible to find any single face in the incoherence of the mass. Slowly he became aware of a rhythmic, repeated shout, that was spreading from a small beginning, and pulsing into insanity:

            “Long live Mallow -- long live Mallow -- long live Mallow--”




            Ankor Jael blinked at Mallow out of a haggard face. The last two days had been mad, sleepless ones.

            “Mallow, you’ve put on a beautiful show, so don’t spoil it by jumping too high. You can’t seriously consider running for mayor. Mob enthusiasm is a powerful thing, but it’s notoriously fickle.”

            “Exactly!” said Mallow, grimly, “so we must coddle it, and the best way to do that is to continue the show.”

            “Now what?”

            “You’re to have Publis Manlio and Jorane Sutt arrested--”


            “Just what you hear. Have the mayor arrest them! I don’t care what threats you use. I control the mob, --for today, at any rate. He won’t dare face them.”

            “But on what charge, man?”

            “On the obvious one. They’ve been inciting the priesthood of the outer planets to take sides in the factional quarrels of the Foundation. That’s illegal, by Seldon. Charge them with ‘endangering the state.’ And I don’t care about a conviction any more than they did in my case. Just get them out of circulation until I’m mayor.”

            “It’s half a year till election.”

            “Not too long!” Mallow was on his feet, and his sudden grip of Jael’s arm was tight. “Listen, I’d seize the government by force if I had to -- the way Salvor Hardin did a hundred years ago. There’s still that Seldon crisis coming up, and when it comes I have to be mayor and high priest. Both!”

            Jael’s brow furrowed. He said, quietly, “What’s it going to be? Korell, after all?”

            Mallow nodded, “Of course. They’ll declare war, eventually, though I’m betting it’ll take another pair of years.”

            “With nuclear ships?”

            “What do you think? Those three merchant ships we lost in their space sector weren’t knocked over with compressed-air pistols. Jael, they’re getting ships from the Empire itself. Don’t open your mouth like a fool. I said the Empire! It’s still there, you know. It many be gone here in the Periphery but in the Galactic center it’s still very much alive. And one false move means that it, itself, may be on our neck. That’s why I must be mayor and high priest. I’m the only man who knows how to fight the crisis.”

            Jael swallowed dryly, “How? What are you going to do?”


            Jael smiled uncertainly, “Really! All of that!”

            But Mallow’s answer was incisive, “When I’m boss of this Foundation, I’m going to do nothing. One hundred percent of nothing, and that is the secret of this crisis.”




            Asper Argo, the Well-Beloved, Commdor of the Korellian Republic greeted his wife’s entry by a hangdog lowering of his scanty eyebrows. To her at least, his self-adopted epithet did not apply. Even he knew that.

            She said, in a voice as sleek as her hair and as cold as her eyes, “My gracious lord, I understand, has finally come to a decision upon the fate of the Foundation upstarts.”

            “Indeed?” said the Commdor, sourly. “And what more does your versatile understanding embrace?”

            “Enough, my very noble husband. You had another of your vacillating consultations with your councilors. Fine advisors.” With infinite scorn, “A herd of palsied purblind idiots hugging their sterile profits close to their sunken chests in the face of my father’s displeasure.”

            “And who, my dear,” was the mild response, “is the excellent source from which your understanding understands all this?”

            The Commdora laughed shortly, “If I told you, my source would be more corpse than source.”

            “Well, you’ll have your own way, as always.” The Commdor shrugged and turned away. “And as for your father’s displeasure: I much fear me it extends to a niggardly refusal to supply more ships.”

            “More ships!” She blazed away, hotly, “And haven’t you five? Don’t deny it. I know you have five; and a sixth is promised.”

            “Promised for the last year.”

            “But one -- just one -- can blast that Foundation into stinking rubble. Just one! One, to sweep their little pygmy boats out of space.”

            “I couldn’t attack their planet, even with a dozen.”

            “And how long would their planet hold out with their trade ruined, and their cargoes of toys and trash destroyed?” “Those toys and trash mean money,” he sighed. “A good deal of money.”

            “But if you had the Foundation itself, would you not have all it contained’? And if you had my father’s respect and gratitude, would you not have more than ever the Foundation could give you? It’s been three years -- more -- since that barbarian came with his magic sideshow. It’s long enough.”

            “My dear!” The Commdor turned and faced her. “I am growing old. I am weary. I lack the resilience to withstand your rattling mouth. You say you know that I have decided. Well, I have. It is over, and there is war between Korell and the Foundation.”

            “Well!” The Commdora’s figure expanded and her eyes sparkled, “You learned wisdom at last, though in your dotage. And now when you are master of this hinterland, you may be sufficiently respectable to be of some weight and importance in the Empire. For one thing, we might leave this barbarous world and attend the viceroy’s court. Indeed we might.”

            She swept out, with a smile, and a hand on her hip. Her hair gleamed in the light.

            The Commdor waited, and then said to the closed door, with malignance and hate, “And when I am master of what you call the hinterland, I may be sufficiently respectable to do without your father’s arrogance and his daughter’s tongue. Completely -- without!”




            The senior lieutenant of the Dark Nebula stared in horror at the visiplate.

            “Great Galloping Galaxies!” It should have been a howl, but it was a whisper instead, “What’s that?”

            It was a ship, but a whale to the Dark Nebula’s minnow; and on its side was the Spaceship-and-Sun of the Empire. Every alarm on the ship yammered hysterically.

            The orders went out, and the Dark Nebula prepared to run if it could, and fight if it must, --while down in the hyperwave room, a message stormed its way through hyperspace to the Foundation.

            Over and over again! Partly a plea for help, but mainly a warning of danger.




            Hober Mallow shuffled his feet wearily as he leafed through the reports. Two years of the mayoralty had made him a bit more housebroken, a bit softer, a bit more patient, --but it had not made him learn to like government reports and the mind-breaking officialese in which they were written.

            “How many ships did they get?” asked Jael.

            “Four trapped on the ground. Two unreported. All others accounted for and safe.” Mallow grunted, “We should have done better, but it’s just a scratch.”

            There was no answer and Mallow looked up, “Does anything worry you?”

            “I wish Sutt would get here,” was the almost irrelevant answer.

            “Ah, yes, and now we’ll hear another lecture on the home front.”

            “No, we won’t,” snapped Jael, “but you’re stubborn, Mallow. You may have worked out the foreign situation to the last detail but you’ve never given a care about what goes on here on the home planet.”

            “Well, that’s your job, isn’t it? What did I make you Minister of Education and Propaganda for?”

            “Obviously to send me to an early and miserable grave, for all the co-operation you give me. For the last year, I’ve been deafening you with the rising danger of Sutt and his Religionists. What good will your plans be, if Sutt forces a special election and has you thrown out?”

            “None, I admit.”

            “And your speech last night just about handed the election to Sutt with a smile and a pat. Was there any necessity for being so frank?”

            “Isn’t there such a thing as stealing Sutt’s thunder?”

            “No,” said Jael, violently, “not the way you did it. You claim to have foreseen everything, and don’t explain why you traded with Korell to their exclusive benefit for three years. Your only plan of battle is to retire without a battle. You abandon all trade with the sectors of space near Korell. You openly proclaim a stalemate. You promise no offensive, even in the future. Galaxy, Mallow, what am I supposed to do with such a mess?”

            “It lacks glamor?”

            “It lacks mob emotion-appeal.”

            “Same thing.”

            “Mallow, wake up. You have two alternatives. Either you present the people with a dynamic foreign policy, whatever your private plans are, or you make some sort of compromise with Sutt.”

            Mallow said, “All right, if I’ve failed the first, let’s try the second. Sutt’s just arrived.”

            Sutt and Mallow had not met personally since the day of the trial, two years back. Neither detected any change in the other, except for that subtle atmosphere about each which made it quite evident that the roles of ruler and defier had changed.

            Sutt took his seat without shaking hands.

            Mallow offered a cigar and said, “Mind if Jael stays? He wants a compromise earnestly. He can act as mediator if tempers rise.”

            Sutt shrugged, “A compromise will be well for you. Upon another occasion I once asked you to state your terms. I presume the positions are reversed now.”

            “You presume correctly.”

            “Then there are my terms. You must abandon your blundering policy of economic bribery and trade in gadgetry, and return to the tested foreign policy of our fathers.”

            “You mean conquest by missionary.”


            “No compromise short of that?”


            “Um-m-m.” Mallow lit up very slowly and inhaled the tip of his cigar into a bright glow. “In Hardin’s time, when conquest by missionary was new and radical, men like yourself opposed it. Now it is tried, tested, hallowed, --everything a Jorane Sutt would find well. But, tell me, how would you get us out of our present mess?”

            “Your present mess. I had nothing to do with it.”

            “Consider the question suitably modified.”

            “A strong offensive is indicated. The stalemate you seem to be satisfied with is fatal. It would be a confession of weakness to all the worlds of the Periphery, where the appearance of strength is all-important, and there’s not one vulture among them that wouldn’t join the assault for its share of the corpse. You ought to understand that. You’re from Smyrno, aren’t you?”

            Mallow passed over the significance of the remark. He said, “And if you beat Korell, what of the Empire? That is the real enemy.”

            Sutt’s narrow smile tugged at the comers of his mouth, “Oh, no, your records of your visit to Siwenna were complete. The viceroy of the Normannic Sector is interested in creating dissension in the Periphery for his own benefit, but only as a side issue. He isn’t going to stake everything on an expedition to the Galaxy’s rim when he has fifty hostile neighbors and an emperor to rebel against. I paraphrase your own words.”

            “Oh, yes he might, Sutt, if he thinks we’re strong enough to be dangerous. And he might think so, if we destroy Korell by the main force of frontal attack. We’d have to be considerably more subtle.”

            “As for instance--”

            Mallow leaned back, “Sutt, I’ll give you your chance. I don’t need you, but I can use you. So I’ll tell you what it’s all about, and then you can either join me and receive a place in a coalition cabinet, or you can play the martyr and rot in jail.”

            “Once before you tried that last trick.”

            “Not very hard, Sutt. The right time has only just come. Now listen.” Mallow’s eyes narrowed.

            “When I first landed on Korell,” he began, A bribed the Commdor with the trinkets and gadgets that form the trader’s usual stock. At the start, that. was meant only to get us entrance into a steel foundry. I had no plan further than that, but in that I succeeded. I got what I wanted. But it was only after my visit to the Empire that I first realized exactly what a weapon I could build that trade into.

            “This is a Seldon crisis we’re facing, Sutt, and Seldon crises are not solved by individuals but by historic forces. Hari Seldon, when he planned our course of future history, did not count on brilliant heroics but on the broad sweeps of economics and sociology. So the solutions to the various crises must be achieved by the forces that become available to us at the time.

            “In this case, --trade!”

            Sutt raised his eyebrows skeptically and took advantage of the pause, “I hope I am not of subnormal intelligence, but the fact is that your vague lecture isn’t very illuminating.”

            “It will become so,” said Mallow. “Consider that until now the power of trade has been underestimated. It has been thought that it took a priesthood under our control to make it a powerful weapon. That is not so, and this is my contribution to the Galactic situation. Trade without priests! Trade alone! It is strong enough. Let us become very simple and specific. Korell is now at war with us. Consequently our trade with her has stopped. But, --notice that I am making this as simple as a problem in addition, --in the past three years she has based her economy more and more upon the nuclear techniques which we have introduced and which only we can continue to supply. Now what do you suppose will happen once the tiny nuclear generators begin failing, and one gadget after another goes out of commission?

            “The small household appliances go first. After a half a year of this stalemate that you abhor, a woman’s nuclear knife won’t work any more. Her stove begins failing. Her washer doesn’t do a good job. The temperature-humidity control in her house dies on a hot summer day. What happens?”

            He paused for an answer, and Sutt said calmly, “Nothing. People endure a good deal in war.”

            “Very true. They do. They’ll send their sons out in unlimited numbers to die horribly on broken spaceships. They’ll bear up under enemy bombardment, if it means they have to live on stale bread and foul water in caves half a mile deep. But it’s very hard to bear up under little things when the patriotic uplift of imminent danger is not present. It’s going to, be a stalemate. There will be no casualties, no bombardments, no battles.

            “There will just be a knife that won’t cut, and a stove that won’t cook, and a house that freezes in the winter. It will be annoying, and people will grumble.”

            Sutt said slowly, wonderingly, “Is that what you’re setting your hopes on, man? What do you expect? A housewives’ rebellion? A Jacquerie? A sudden uprising of butchers and grocers with their cleavers and bread-knives shouting ‘Give us back our Automatic Super-Kleeno Nuclear Washing Machines.’“

            “No, sir,” said Mallow, impatiently, “I do not. I expect, however, a general background of grumbling and dissatisfaction which will be seized on by more important figures later on.”

            “And what more important figures are these?”

            “The manufacturers, the factory owners, the industrialists of Korell. When two years of the stalemate have gone, the machines in the factories will, one by one, begin to fail. Those industries which we have changed from first to last with our new nuclear gadgets will find themselves very suddenly ruined. The heavy industries will find themselves, en masse and at a stroke, the owners of nothing but scrap machinery that won’t work.”

            “The factories ran well enough before you came there, Mallow.”

            “Yes, Sutt, so they did -- at about one-twentieth the profits, even if you leave out of consideration the cost of reconversion to the original pre-nuclear state. With the industrialist and financier and the average man all against him, how long will the Commdor hold out?”

            “As long as he pleases, as soon as it occurs to him to get new nuclear generators from the Empire.”

            And Mallow laughed joyously, “You’ve missed, Sutt, missed as badly as the Commdor himself. You’ve missed everything, and understood nothing. Look, man, the Empire can replace nothing. The Empire has always been a realm of colossal resources. They’ve calculated everything in planets, in stellar systems, in whole sectors of the Galaxy. Their generators are gigantic because they thought in gigantic fashion.

            “But we, --we, our little Foundation, our single world almost without metallic resources, --have had to work with brute economy. Our generators have had to be the size of our thumb, because it was all the metal we could afford. We had to develop new techniques and new methods, --techniques and methods the Empire can’t follow because they have degenerated past the stage where they can make any really vital scientific advance.

            “With all their nuclear shields, large enough to protect a ship, a city, an entire world; they could never build one to protect a single man. To supply light and heat to a city, they have motors six stories high, --I saw them -- where ours could fit into this room. And when I told one of their nuclear specialists that a lead container the size of a walnut contained a nuclear generator, he almost choked with indignation on the spot.

            “Why, they don’t even understand their own colossi any longer. The machines work from generation to generation automatically, and the caretakers are a hereditary caste who would be helpless if a single D-tube in all that vast structure burnt out.

            “The whole war is a battle between those two systems, between the Empire and the Foundation; between the big and the little. To seize control of a world, they bribe with immense ships that can make war, but lack all economic significance. We, on the other hand, bribe with little things, useless in war, but vital to prosperity and profits.

            “A king, or a Commdor, will take the ships and even make war. Arbitrary rulers throughout history have bartered their subjects’ welfare for what they consider honor, and glory, and conquest. But it’s still the little things in life that count -- and Asper Argo won’t stand up against the economic depression that will sweep all Korell in two or three years.”

            Sutt was at the window, his back to Mallow and Jael. It was early evening now, and the few stars that struggled feebly here at the very rim of the Galaxy sparked against the background of the misty, wispy Lens that included the remnants of that Empire, still vast, that fought against them.

            Sutt said, “No. You are not the man.”

            “You don’t believe me?”

            “I mean I don’t trust you. You’re smooth-tongued. You befooled me properly when I thought I had you under proper care on your first trip to Korell. When I thought I had you cornered at the trial, you wormed your way out of it and into the mayor’s chair by demagoguery. There is nothing straight about you; no motive that hasn’t another behind it; no statement that hasn’t three meanings.

            “Suppose you were a traitor. Suppose your visit to the Empire had brought you a subsidy and a promise of power. Your actions would be precisely what they are now. You would bring about a war after having strengthened the enemy. You would force the Foundation into inactivity. And you would advance a plausible explanation of everything, one so plausible it would convince everyone.”

            “You mean there’ll be no compromise?” asked Mallow, gently.

            “I mean you must get out, by free will or force.”

            “I warned you of the only alternative to co-operation.”

            Jorane Sutt’s face congested with blood in a sudden access of emotion. “And I warn you, Hober Mallow of Smyrno, that if you arrest me, there will be no quarter. My men will stop nowhere in spreading the truth about you, and the common people of the Foundation will unite against their foreign ruler. They have a consciousness of destiny that a Smyrnian can never understand -- and that consciousness will destroy you.”

            Hober Mallow said quietly to the two guards who had entered, “Take him away. He’s under arrest.”

            Sutt said, “Your last chance.”

            Mallow stubbed out his cigar and never looked up.

            And five minutes later, Jael stirred and said, wearily, “Well, now that you’ve made a martyr for the cause, what next?”

            Mallow stopped playing with the ash tray and looked up, “That’s not the Sutt I used to know. He’s a blood-blind bull. Galaxy, he hates me.”

            “All the more dangerous then.”

            “More dangerous? Nonsense! He’s lost all power of judgement.”

            Jael said grimly, “You’re overconfident, Mallow. You’re ignoring the possibility of a popular rebellion.”

            Mallow looked up, grim in his turn, “Once and for all, Jael, there is no possibility of a popular rebellion.”

            “You’re sure of yourself!”

            “I’m sure of the Seldon crisis and the historical validity of their solutions, externally and internally. There are some things I didn’t tell Suit right now. He tried to control the Foundation itself by religious forces as he controlled the outer worlds, and he failed, --which is the surest sign that in the Seldon scheme, religion is played out.

            “Economic control worked differently. And to paraphrase that famous Salvor Hardin quotation of yours, it’s a poor nuclear blaster that won’t point both ways. If Korell prospered with our trade, so did we. If Korellian factories fail without our trade; and if the prosperity of the outer worlds vanishes with commercial isolation; so will our factories fail and our prosperity vanish.

            “And there isn’t a factory, not a trading center. not a shipping line that isn’t under my control; that I couldn’t squeeze to nothing if Sutt attempts revolutionary propaganda. Where his propaganda succeeds, or even looks as though it might succeed, I will make certain that prosperity dies. Where it fails, prosperity will continue, because my factories will remain fully staffed.

            “So by the same reasoning which makes me sure that the Korellians will revolt in favor of prosperity, I am sure we will not revolt against it. The game will be played out to its end.”

            “So then,” said Jael, “you’re establishing a plutocracy. You’re making us a land of traders and merchant princes. Then what of the future?”

            Mallow lifted his gloomy face, and exclaimed fiercely, “What business of mine is the future? No doubt Seldon has foreseen it and prepared against it. There will be other crises in the time to come when money power has become as dead a force as religion is now. Let my successors solve those new problems, as I have solved the one of today.”


            KORELL--...And so after three years of a war which was certainly the most unfought war on record, the Republic of Korell surrendered unconditionally, and Hober Mallow took his place next to Hari Seldon and Salvor Hardin in the hearts of the people of the Foundation.





            Isaac Asimov was born in the Soviet Union to his great surprise. He moved quickly to correct the situation. When his parents emigrated to the United States, Isaac (three years old at the time) stowed away in their baggage. He has been an American citizen since the age of eight.

            Brought up in Brooklyn, and educated in its public schools, he eventually found his way to Columbia University and, over the protests of the school administration, managed to annex a series of degrees in chemistry, up to and including a Ph.D. He then infiltrated Boston University and climbed the academic ladder, ignoring all cries of outrage, until he found himself Professor of Biochemistry.

            Meanwhile, at the age of nine, he found the love of his life (in the inanimate sense) when he discovered his first science-fiction magazine. By the time he was eleven, he began to write stories, and at eighteen, he actually worked up the nerve to submit one. It was rejected. After four long months of tribulation and suffering, he sold his first story and, thereafter, he never looked back.

            In 1941, when he was twenty-one years old, he wrote the classic short story “Nightfall” and his future was assured. Shortly before that he had begun writing his robot stories, and shortly after that he had begun his Foundation series.

            What was left except quantity? At the present time, he has published over 260 books, distributed through every major division of the Dewey system of library classification, and shows no signs of slowing up. He remains as youthful, as lively, and as lovable as ever, and grows more handsome with each year. You can be sure that this is so since he has written this little essay himself and his devotion to absolute objectivity is notorious.

            He is married to Janet Jeppson, psychiatrist and writer, has two children by a previous marriage, and lives in New York City.