“Perhaps they did at least once and that gave rise to the legend.”

            “Except that on no human-occupied world has there been any record or trace of any prehuman or nonhuman intelligence.”

            “But why ‘robots’? Does the word have meaning?”

            “Not that I know of, but it’s the equivalent of the familiar ‘automata.’ “

            “Automata! Well, why don’t they say so?”

            “Because people do use archaic terms for flavor when they tell an ancient legend. Why do you ask all this, by the way?”

            “Because in this ancient Mycogenian book, they talk of robots. And very favorably, by the way. -Listen, Dors, aren’t you going out with Raindrop Forty-Five again this afternoon?”

            “Supposedly-if she shows up.”

            “Would you ask her some questions and try to get the answers out of her?”

            “I can try. What are the questions?”

            “I would like to find out, as tactfully as possible, if there is some structure in Mycogen that is particularly significant, that is tied in with the past, that has a sort of mythic value, that can--”

            Dors interrupted, trying not to smile. “I think that what you are trying to ask is whether Mycogen has a temple.”

            And, inevitably, Seldon looked blank and said, “What’s a temple?”

            “Another archaic term of uncertain origin. It means all the things you asked about-significance, past, myth. Very well, I’ll ask. It’s the sort of thing, however, that they might find difficult to speak of. To tribespeople, certainly.”

            “Nevertheless, do try.”




        AURORA- . . . A mythical world, supposedly inhabited in primordial times, during the dawn of interstellar travel. It is thought by some to he the perhaps equally mythical “world of origin” of humanity and to be another name for “Earth.” The people of the Mycogen (q.v.) Sector of ancient Trantor reportedly held themselves to be descended from the inhabitants of Aurora and made that tenet central to their system of beliefs, concerning which almost nothing else is known . . .





            The two Raindrops arrived at midmorning. Raindrop Forty-Five seemed as cheerful as ever, but Raindrop Forty-Three paused just inside the door, looking drawn and circumspect. She kept her eyes down and did not as much as glance at Seldon.

            Seldon looked uncertain and gestured to Dors, who said in a cheerful businesslike tone of voice, “One moment, Sisters. I must give instructions to my man or he won’t know what to do with himself today.”

            They moved into the bathroom and Dors whispered, “Is something wrong?”

            “Yes. Raindrop Forty-Three is obviously shattered. Please tell her that I will return the Book as soon as possible.”

            Dors favored Seldon with a long surprised look. “Hari, “ she said, “you’re a sweet, caring person, but you haven’t the good sense of an amoeba. If I as much as mention the Book to the poor woman, she’ll be certain that you told me all about what happened yesterday and then she’ll really be shattered. The only hope is to treat her exactly as I would ordinarily.”

            Seldon nodded his head and said dispiritedly, “I suppose you’re right.”

            Dors returned in time for dinner and found Seldon on his cot, still leafing through the Book, but with intensified impatience.

            He looked up with a scowl and said, “If we’re going to be staying here any length of time, we’re going to need a communication device of some sort between us. I had no idea when you’d get back and I was a little concerned.”

            “Well, here I am, “ she said, removing her skincap gingerly and looking at it with more than a little distaste. “I’m really pleased at your concern. I rather thought you’d be so lost in the Book, you wouldn’t even realize I was gone.”

            Seldon snorted.

            Dors said, “As for communications devices, I doubt that they are easy to come by in Mycogen. It would mean easing communication with tribespeople outside and I suspect the leaders of Mycogen are bound and determined to cut down on any possible interaction with the great beyond.”

            “Yes, “ said Seldon, tossing the Book to one side, “I would expect that from what I see in the Book. Did you find out about the whatever you called it . . . the temple?”

            “Yes, “ she said, removing her eyebrow patches. “It exists. There are a number of them over the area of the sector, but there’s a central building that seems to be the important one. -Would you believe that one woman noticed my eyelashes and told me that I shouldn’t let myself be seen in public? I have a feeling she intended to report me for indecent exposure.”

            “Never mind that, “ said Seldon impatiently. “Do you know where the central temple is located?”

            “I have directions, but Raindrop Forty-Five warned me that women were not allowed inside except on special occasions, none of which are coming up soon. It’s called the Sacratorium.”

            “The what.”

            “The Sacratorium.”

            “What an ugly word. What does it mean?”

            Dors shook her head. “It’s new to me. And neither Raindrop knew what it meant either. To them, Sacratorium isn’t what the building is called, it’s what it is. Asking them why they called it that probably sounded like asking them why a wall is called a wall.”

            “Is there anything about it they do know?”

            “Of course, Hari. They know what it’s for. It’s a place that’s devoted to something other than the life here in Mycogen. It’s devoted to another world, a former and better one.”

            “The world they once lived on, you mean?”

            “Exactly. Raindrop Forty-Five all but said so, but not quite. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word.”


            “That’s the word, but I suspect that if you were to say it out loud to a group of Mycogenians, they would be shocked and horrified. Raindrop Forty-Five, when she said, ‘The Sacratorium is dedicated to-’, stopped at that point and carefully wrote out the letters one by one with her finger on the palm of her hand. And she blushed, as though she was doing something obscene.”

            “Strange, “ said Seldon. “If the Book is an accurate guide, Aurora is their dearest memory, their chief point of unification, the center about which everything in Mycogen revolves. Why should its mention be considered obscene? -Are you sure you didn’t misinterpret what the Sister meant?”

            “I’m positive. And perhaps it’s no mystery. Too much talk about it would get to tribespeople. The best way of keeping it secret unto themselves is to make its very mention taboo.”


            “A specialized anthropological term. It’s a reference to serious and effective social pressure forbidding some sort of action. The fact that women are not allowed in the Sacratorium probably has the force of a taboo. I’m sure that a Sister would be horrified if it was suggested that she invade its precincts.”

            “Are the directions you have good enough for me to get to the Sacratorium on my own?”

            “In the first place, Hari, you’re not going alone. I’m going with you. I thought we had discussed the matter and that I had made it clear that I cannot protect you at long distance-not from sleet storms and not from feral women. In the second place, it’s impractical to think of walking there. Mycogen may be a small sector, as sectors go, but it simply isn’t that small.”

            “An Expressway, then.”

            “There are no Expressways passing through Mycogenian territory. It would make contact between Mycogenians and tribespeople too easy. Still, there are public conveyances of the kind that are found on less developed planets. In fact, that’s what Mycogen is, a piece of an undeveloped planet, embedded like a splinter in the body of Trantor, which is otherwise a patchwork of developed societies. --and Hari, finish with the Book as soon as possible. It’s apparent that Rainbow Forty-Three is in trouble as long as you have it and so will we be if they find out.”

            “Do you mean a tribesperson reading it is taboo?”

            “I’m sure of it.”

            “Well, it would be no great loss to give it back. I should say that 95 percent of it is incredibly dull; endless in-fighting among political groups, endless justification of policies whose wisdom I cannot possibly judge, endless homilies on ethical matters which, even when enlightened, and they usually aren’t, are couched with such infuriating self-righteousness as to almost enforce violation.”

            “You sound as though I would be doing you a great favor it I took the thing away from you.”

            “Except that there’s always the other 5 percent that discusses the never-to-be-mentioned Aurora. I keep thinking that there may be something there and that it may be helpful to me. That’s why I wanted to know about the Sacratorium.

            “Do you hope to find support for the Book’s concept of Aurora in the Sacratorium?”

            “In a way. And I’m also terribly caught up in what the Book has to say about automata, or robots, to use their term. I find myself attracted to the concept.”

            “Surely, you don’t take it seriously?”

            “Almost. If you accept some passages of the Book literally, then there is an implication that some robots were in human shape.”

            “Naturally. If you’re going to construct a simulacrum of a human being, you will make it look like a human being.”

            “Yes, simulacrum means ‘likeness, ‘ but a likeness can be crude indeed. An artist can draw a stick figure and you might know he is representing a human being and recognize it. A circle for the head, a stalk for the body, and four bent lines for arms and legs and you have it. But I mean robots that really look like a human being, in every detail.”

            “Ridiculous, Hari. Imagine the time it would take to fashion the metal of the body into perfect proportions, with the smooth curve of underlying muscles.”

            “Who said ‘metal, ‘ Dors? The impression I got is that such robots were organic or pseudo-organic, that they were covered with skin, that you could not easily draw a distinction between them and human beings in any way.”

            “Does the Book say that?”

            “Not in so many words. The inference, however--”

            “Is your inference, Hari. You can’t take it seriously.”

            “Let me try. I find four things that I can deduce from what the Book says about robots--and I followed up every reference the index gave. First, as I say, they--or some of them-exactly resembled human beings; second, they had very extended life spans-if you want to call it that.”

            “Better say ‘effectiveness, ‘ “ said Dors, “or you’ll begin thinking of them as human altogether.”

            “Third, “ said Seldon, ignoring her, “that some--or, at any rate, at least one-continues to live on to this day.”

            “Hart’, that’s one of the most widespread legends we have. The ancient hero does not die but remains in suspended animation, ready to return to save his people at some time of great need. Really, Hari.”

            “Fourth, “ said Seldon, still not rising to the bait, “there are some lines that seem to indicate that the central temple--or the Sacratorium, if that’s what it is, though I haven’t found that word in the Book, actually contains a robot.” He paused, then said, “Do you see?”

            Dors said, “No. What should I see?”

            “If we combine the four points, perhaps a robot that looks exactly like a human being and that is still alive, having been alive for, say, the last twenty thousand years, is in the Sacratorium.”

            “Come on, Hari, you can’t believe that.”

            “I don’t actually believe it, but I can’t entirely let go either. What if its true? What if-its only one chance out of a million, I admit it’s true? Don’t you see how useful he could be to me? He could remember the Galaxy as it was long before any reliable historical records existed. He might help make psychohistory possible.”

            “Even if it was true, do you suppose the Mycogenians would let you see and interview the robot?”

            “I don’t intend to ask permission. I can at least go to the Sacratorium and see if there’s something to interview first.”

            “Not now. Tomorrow at the earliest. And if you don’t think better of it by morning, we go.”

            “You told me yourself they don’t allow women--”

            “They allow women to look at it from outside, I’m sure, and I suspect that is all we’ll get to do.”

            And there she was adamant.

            Hari Seldon was perfectly willing to let Dors take the lead. She had been out in the main roadways of Mycogen and was more at home with them than he was.

            Dors Venabili, brows knitted, was less delighted with the prospect. She said, “We can easily get lost, you know.”

            “Not with that booklet, “ said Seldon.

            She looked up at him impatiently. “Fix your mind on Mycogen, Hari. What I should have is a computomap, something I can ask questions of. This Mycogenian version is just a piece of folded plastic. I can’t tell this thing where I am. I can’t tell it by word of mouth and I can’t even tell it by pushing the necessary contacts. It can’t tell me anything either way. It’s a print thing.”

            “Then read what it says.”

            “That’s what I’m trying to do, but it’s written for people who are familiar with the system to begin with. We’ll have to ask.”

            “No, Dors. That would be a last resort. I don’t want to attract attention. I would rather we take our chances and try to find our own way, even if it means making one or two wrong turns.”

            Dors leafed through the booklet with great attention and then said grudgingly, “Well, it gives the Sacratorium important mention. I suppose that’s only natural. I presume everyone in Mycogen would want to get there at one time or another.” Then, after additional concentration, she said, “I’ll tell you what. There’s no way of taking a conveyance from here to there.”


            “Don’t get excited. Apparently, there’s a way of getting from here to another conveyance that will take us there. We’ll have to change from one to another.”

            Seldon relaxed. “Well, of course. You can’t take an Expressway to half the places on Trantor without changing.”

            Dors cast an impatient glance at Seldon. “I know that too. It’s just that I’m used to having these things tell me so. When they expect you to find out for yourself, the simplest things can escape you for a while.”

            “All right, dear. Don’t snap. If you know the way now, lead. I will follow humbly.”

            And follow her he did, until they came to an intersection, where they stopped.

            Three white-kirtled males and a pair of gray-kirtled females were at the same intersection. Seldon tried a universal and general smile in their direction, but they responded with a blank stare and looked away.

            And then the conveyance came. It was an outmoded version of what Seldon, back on Helicon, would have called a gravi-bus. There were some twenty upholstered benches inside, each capable of holding four people. Each bench had its own doors on both sides of the bus. When it stopped, passengers emerged on either side. (For a moment, Seldon was concerned for those who got out on the traffic side of the gravi-bus, but then he noticed that every vehicle approaching from either direction stopped as it neared the bus. None passed it while it was not moving.)

            Dors pushed Seldon impatiently and he moved on to a bench where two adjoining seats were available. Dors followed after. (The men always got on and got off first, he noticed.)

            “Well, try.”

            “For instance, “ she said and pointed to a smooth boxed-off area on the back of the bench directly before each of them. As soon as the conveyance had begun to move, words lit up, naming the next stop and the notable structures or crossways that were nearby.

            “Now, that will probably tell us when we’re approaching the changeover we want. At least the sector isn’t completely barbaric.”

            “Good, “ said Seldon. Then, after a while, leaning toward Dors, he whispered, “No one is looking at us. It seems that artificial boundaries are set up to preserve individual privacy in any crowded place. Have you noticed that?”

            “I’ve always taken it for granted. If that’s going to be a rule of your psychohistory, no one will be very impressed by it.”

            As Dors had guessed, the direction plaque in front of them eventually announced the approach to the changeover for the direct line to the Sacratorium.

            They exited and again had to wait. Some buses ahead had already left this intersection, but another gravi-bus was already approaching. They were on a well-traveled route, which was not surprising; the Sacratorium was bound to be the center and heartbeat of the sector.

            They got on the gravi-bus and Seldon whispered, “We’re not paying.”

            “According to the map, public transportation is a free service.”

            Seldon thrust out his lower lip. “How civilized. I suppose that nothing is all of a piece, not backwardness, not barbarism, nothing.”

            But Dors nudged him and whispered, “Your rule is broken. We’re being watched. The man on your right.”




            Seldon’s eyes shifted briefly. The man to his right was rather thin and seemed quite old. He had dark brown eyes and a swarthy complexion, and Seldon was sure that he would have had black hair if he had not been depilated.

            He faced front again, thinking. This Brother was rather atypical. The few Brothers he had paid any attention to had been rather tall, lightskinned, and with blue or gray eyes. Of course, he had not seen enough of them to make a general rule.

            Then there was a light touch on the right sleeve of his kirtle. Seldon turned hesitantly and found himself looking at a card on which was written lightly, CAREFUL, TRIBESMAN!

            Seldon started and put a hand to his skincap automatically. The man next to him silently mouthed, “Hair.”

            Seldon’s hand found it, a tiny exposure of bristles at his temple. He must have disturbed the skincap at some point or another. Quickly and as unobtrusively as possible, he tugged the skincap, then made sure that it was snug under the pretence of stroking his head.

            He turned to his neighbor on his right, nodded slightly, and mouthed, “Thank you.”

            His neighbor smiled and said in a normal speaking voice, “Going to the Sacratorium?”

            Seldon nodded. “Yes, I am.”

            “Easy guess. So am I. Shall we get off together?” His smile was friendly.

            “I’m with my-my--”

            “With your woman. Of course. All three together, then?”

            Seldon was not sure how to react. A quick look in the other direction showed him that Dors’s eyes were turned straight ahead. She was showing no interest in masculine conversation-an attitude appropriate for a Sister. However, Seldon felt a soft pat on his left knee, which he took (with perhaps little justification) to mean: “It’s all right.”

            In any case, his natural sense of courtesy was on that side and he said, “Yes, certainly.”

            There was no further conversation until the direction plaque told them they were arriving at the Sacratorium and Seldon’s Mycogenian friend was rising to get off.

            The gravi-bus made a wide turn about the perimeter of a large area of the Sacratorium grounds and there was a general exodus when it came to a halt, the men sliding in front of the women to exit first. The women followed.

            The Mycogenian’s voice crackled a bit with age, but it was cheerful. He said, “It’s a little early for lunch my . . . friends, but take my word for it that things will be crowded in not too long a time. Would you be willing to buy something simple now and eat it outside? I am very familiar with this area and I know a good place.”

            Seldon wondered if this was a device to maneuver innocent tribespeople into something or other disreputable or costly, yet decided to chance it.

            “You’re very kind, “ he said. “Since we are not at all familiar with the place, we will be glad to let you take the lead.”

            They bought lunch-sandwiches and a beverage that looked like milkat an open-air stand. Since it was a beautiful day and they were visitors, the old Mycogenian said, they would go to the Sacratorium grounds and eat out of doors, the better to become acquainted with their surroundings.

            During their walk, carrying their lunch, Seldon noted that, on a very small scale, the Sacratorium resembled the Imperial Palace and that the grounds around it resembled, on a minute scale, the Imperial grounds. He could scarcely believe that the Mycogenian people admired the Imperial institution or, indeed, did anything but hate and despise it, yet the cultural attraction was apparently not to be withstood.

            “It’s beautiful, “ said the Mycogenian with obvious pride.

            “Quite, “ said Seldon. “How it glistens in the daylight.”

            “The grounds around it, “ he said, “are constructed in imitation of the government grounds on our Dawn World . . . in miniature, to be sure.”

            “Did you ever see the grounds of the Imperial Palace?” asked Seldon cautiously.

            The Mycogenian caught the implication and seemed in no way put out by it. “They Copied the Dawn World as best they could too.”

            Seldon doubted that in the extreme, but he said nothing.

            They came to a semicircular seat of white stonite, sparkling in the light as the Sacratorium did.

            “Good, “ said the Mycogenian, his dark eyes gleaming with pleasure. “No one’s taken my place. I call it mine only because it’s my favorite seat. It affords a beautiful view of the side wall of the Sacratorium past the trees. Please sit down. It’s not cold, I assure you. And your companion. She is welcome to sit too. She is a tribeswoman, I know, and has different customs. She . . . she may speak if she wishes.”

            Dors gave him a hard look and sat down.

            Seldon, recognizing the fact that they might remain with this old Mycogenian a while, thrust out his hand and said, “I am Hari and my female companion is Dors. We don’t use numbers, I’m afraid.”

            “To each his . . . or her . . . own, “ said the other expansively. “I am Mycelium Seventy-Two. We are a large cohort.”

            “Mycelium?” said Seldon a bit hesitantly.

            “You seem surprised, “ said Mycelium. “I take it, then, you’ve only met members of our Elder families. Names like Cloud and Sunshine and Starlight-all astronomical.”

            “I must admit--” began Seldon.

            “Well, meet one of the lower classes. We take our names from the ground and from the micro-organisms we grow. Perfectly respectable.”

            “I’m quite certain, “ said Seldon, “and thank you again for helping me with my . . . problem in the gravi-bus.”

            “Listen, “ said Mycelium Seventy-Two, “I saved you a lot of trouble. If a Sister had seen you before I did, she would undoubtedly have screamed and the nearest Brothers would have bustled you off the bus maybe not even waiting for it to stop moving.”

            Dors leaned forward so as to see across Seldon. “How is it you did not act in this way yourself?”

            “I? I have no animosity against tribespeople. I’m a scholar.”

            “A scholar?”

            “First one in my cohort. I studied at the Sacratorium School and did very well. I’m learned in all the ancient arts and I have a license to enter the tribal library, where they keep book-films and books by tribespeople. I can view any book-film or read any book I wish to. We even have a computerized reference library and I can handle that too. That sort of thing broadens your mind. I don’t mind a little hair showing. I’ve seen pictures of men with hair many a time. And women too.” He glanced quickly at Dors.

            They ate in silence for a while and then Seldon said, “I notice that every Brother who enters or leaves the Sacratorium is wearing a red sash.”

            “Oh yes, “ said Mycelium Seventy-Two. “Over the left shoulder and around the right side of the waist-usually very fancily embroidered.”

            “Why is that?”

            “It’s called an ‘obiah.’ It symbolizes the joy felt at entering the Sacratorium and the blood one would spill to preserve it.”

            “Blood?” said Dors, frowning.

            “Just a symbol. I never actually heard of anyone spilling blood over the Sacratorium. For that matter, there isn’t that much joy. it’s mostly wailing and mourning and prostrating one’s self over the Lost World.” His voice dropped and became soft. “Very silly.”

            Dors said, “You’re not a . . . a believer?”

            “I’m a scholar, “ said Mycelium with obvious pride. His face wrinkled as he grinned and took on an even more pronounced appearance of age. Seldon found himself wondering how old the man was. Several centuries? -No, they’d disposed of that. It couldn’t be and yet

            “How old are you?” Seldon asked suddenly, involuntarily.

            Mycelium Seventy-Two showed no signs of taking offense at the question, nor did he display any hesitation at answering, “Sixtyseven.”

            Seldon had to know. “I was told that your people believe that in very early times everyone lived for several centuries.”

            Mycelium Seventy-Two looked at Seldon quizzically. “Now how did you find that out? Someone must have been talking out of turn ... but its true. There is that belief. Only the unsophisticated believe it, but the Elders encourage it because it shows our superiority. Actually, our life expectancy is higher than elsewhere because we eat more nutritionally, but living even one century is rare.”

            “I take it you don’t consider Mycogenians superior, “ said Seldon.

            Mycelium Seventy-Two said, “There’s nothing wrong with Mycogenians. They’re certainly not inferior. Still, I think that all men are equal. -Even women, “ he added, looking across at Dors.

            “I don’t suppose, “ said Seldon, “that many of your people would agree with that.”

            “Or many of your people, “ said Mycelium Seventy-Two with a faint resentment. “I believe it, though. A scholar has to. I’ve viewed and even read all the great literature of the tribespeople. I understand your culture. I’ve written articles on it. I can sit here just as comfortably with you as though you were . . . tit. “

            Dors said a little sharply, “You sound proud of understanding tribespeople’s ways. Have you ever traveled outside Mycogen?”

            Mycelium Seventy-Two seemed to move away a little. “No.”

            “Why not? You would get to know us better.”

            “I wouldn’t feel right. I’d have to wear a wig. I’d be ashamed.”

            Dors said, “Why a wig? You could stay bald.”

            “No, “ said Mycelium Seventy-Two, “I wouldn’t be that kind of fool. I’d be mistreated by all the hairy ones.”

            “Mistreated? Why?” said Dors. “We have a great many naturally bald people everywhere on Trantor and on every other world too.”

            “My father is quite bald, “ said Seldon with a sigh, “and I presume that in the decades to come I will be bald too. My hair isn’t all that thick now.”

            “That’s not bald, “ said Mycelium Seventy-Two. “You keep hair around the edges and over your eyes. I mean bald-no hair at all.”

            “Anywhere on your body?” said Dors, interested.

            And now Mycelium Seventy-Two looked offended and said nothing.

            Seldon, anxious to get the conversation back on track, said, “Tell me, Mycelium Seventy-Two, can tribespeople enter the Sacratorium as spectators?”

            Mycelium Seventy-Two shook his head vigorously. “Never. It’s for the Sons of the Dawn only.”

            Dors said, “Only the Sons?”

            Mycelium Seventy-Two looked shocked for a moment, then said forgivingly, “Well, you’re tribespeople. Daughters of the Dawn enter only on certain days and times. That’s just the way it is. I don’t say I approve. If it was up to me, I’d say, ‘Go in. Enjoy if you can.’ Sooner others than me, in fact.”

            “Don’t you ever go in?”

            “When I was young, my parents took me, but--he shook his head--”it was just people staring at the Book and reading from it and sighing and weeping for the old days. It’s very depressing. You can’t talk to each other. You can’t laugh. You can’t even look at each other. Your mind has to be totally on the Lost World. Totally.” He waved a hand in rejection. “Not for me. I’m a scholar and I want the whole world open to me.”

            “Good, “ said Seldon, seeing an opening. “We feel that way too. We are scholars also, Dors and myself.”

            “I know, “ said Mycelium Seventy-Two.

            “You know? How do you know?”

            “You’d have to be. The only tribespeople allowed in Mycogen are Imperial officials and diplomats, important traders, and scholars --and to me you have the look of scholars. That’s what interested me in you. Scholars together.” He smiled delightedly.

            “So we are. I am a mathematician. Dors is a historian. And you?”

            “I specialize in . . . culture. I’ve read all the great works of literature of the tribespeople: Lissauer, Mentone, Novigor--”

            “And we have read the great works of your people. I’ve read the Book, for instance. -About the Lost World.”

            Mycelium Seventy-Two’s eyes opened wide in surprise. His olive complexion seemed to fade a little. “You have? How? Where?”

            “At our University we have copies that we can read if we have permission.”

            “Copies of the Book?”


            “I wonder if the Elders know this?”

            Seldon said, “And I’ve read about robots.”


            “Yes. That is why I would like to be able to enter the Sacratorium. I would like to see the robot.” (Dors kicked lightly at Seldon’s ankle, but he ignored her.)

            Mycelium Seventy-Two said uneasily, “I don’t believe in such things. Scholarly people don’t.” But he looked about as though he was afraid of being overheard.

            Seldon said, “I’ve read that a robot still exists in the Sacratorium.”

            Mycelium Seventy-Two said, “I don’t want to talk about such nonsense.”

            Seldon persisted. “Where would it be if it was in the Sacratorium?”

            “Even if one was there, I couldn’t tell you. I haven’t been in there since I was a child.”

            “Would you know if there was a special place, a hidden place?”

            “There’s the Elders’ aerie. Only Elders go there, but there’s nothing there.”

            “Have you ever been there?”

            “No, of course not.”

            “Then how do you know?”

            “I don’t know that there’s no pomegranate tree there. I don’t know that there’s no laser-organ there. I don’t know that there’s no item of a million different kinds there. Does my lack of knowledge of their absence show they are all present?”

            For the moment, Seldon had nothing to say.

            A ghost of a smile broke through Mycelium Seventy-Two’s look of concern. He said, “That’s scholars’ reasoning. I’m not an easy man to tackle, you see. Just the same, I wouldn’t advise you to try to get up into the Elders’ aerie. I don’t think you’d like what would happen if they found a tribesman inside. -Well. Best of the Dawn to you.” And he rose suddenly-without warning--and hurried away.

            Seldon looked after him, rather surprised. “What made him rush off like that?”

            “I think, “ said Dors, “it’s because someone is approaching.”

            And someone was. A tall man in an elaborate white kirtle, crossed by an even more elaborate and subtly glittering red sash, glided solemnly toward them. He had the unmistakable look of a man with authority and the even more unmistakable look of one who is not pleased.




            Hari Seldon rose as the new Mycogenian approached. He hadn’t the slightest idea whether that was the appropriate polite behavior, but he had the distinct feeling it would do no harm. Dors Venabili rose with him and carefully kept her eyes lowered.

            The other stood before them. He too was an old man, but more subtly aged than Mycelium Seventy-Two. Age seemed to lend distinction to his still-handsome face. His bald head was beautifully round and his eyes were a startling blue, contrasting sharply with the bright all--but glowing red of his sash.

            The newcomer said, “I see you are tribespeople.” His voice was more high-pitched than Seldon had expected, but he spoke slowly, as though conscious of the weight of authority in every word he uttered.

            “So we are, “ said Seldon politely but firmly. He saw no reason not to defer to the other’s position, but he did not intend to abandon his own.

            “Your names?”

            “I am Hari Seldon of Helicon. My companion is Dors Venabili of Cinna. And yours, man of Mycogen?”

            The eyes narrowed in displeasure, but he too could recognize an air of authority when he felt it.

            “I am Skystrip Two, “ he said, lifting his head higher, “an Elder of the Sacratorium. And your position, tribesman?”

            “We, “ said Seldon, emphasizing the pronoun, “are scholars of Streeling University. I am a mathematician and my companion is a historian and we are here to study the ways of Mycogen.”

            “By whose authority?”

            “By that of Sunmaster Fourteen, who greeted us on our arrival.”

            Skystrip Two fell silent for a moment and then a small smile appeared on his face and he took on an air that was almost benign. He said, “The High Elder. I know him well.”

            “And so you should, “ said Seldon blandly. “Is there anything else, Elder?”

            “Yes.” The Elder strove to regain the high ground. “Who was the man who was with you and who hurried away when I approached?”

            Seldon shook his head, “We never saw him before, Elder, and know nothing about him. We encountered him purely by accident and asked about the Sacratorium.”

            “What did you ask him?”

            “Two questions, Elder. We asked if that building was the Sacratorium and if tribespeople were allowed to enter it. He answered in the affirmative to the first question and in the negative to the second.”

            “Quite so. And what is your interest in the Sacratorium?”

            “Sir, we are here to study the ways of Mycogen and is not the Sacratorium the heart and brain of Mycogen?”

            “It is entirely ours and reserved for us.”

            “Even if an Elder-the High Elder-would arrange for permission in view of our scholarly function?”

            “Have you indeed the High Elder’s permission?”

            Seldon hesitated the slightest moment while Dors’s eyes lifted briefly to look at him sideways. He decided he could not carry off a lie of this magnitude. “No, “ he said, “not yet.”

            “Or ever, “ said the Elder. “You are here in Mycogen by authority, but even the highest authority cannot exert total control over the public. We value our Sacratorium and the populace can easily grow excited over the presence of a tribesperson anywhere in Mycogen but, most particularly, in the vicinity of the Sacratorium. It would take one excitable person to raise a cry of ‘Invasion!’ and a peaceful crowd such as this one would be turned into one that would be thirsting to tear you apart. I mean that quite literally. For your own good, even if the High Elder has shown you kindness, leave. Now!”

            “But the Sacratorium--” said Seldon stubbornly, though Dors was pulling gently at his kirtle.

            “What is there in the Sacratorium that can possibly interest you?” said the Elder. “You see it now. There is nothing for you to see in the interior.”

            “There is the robot, “ said Seldon.

            The Elder stared at Seldon in shocked surprise and then, bending to bring his lips close to Seldon’s ear, whispered harshly, “Leave now or I will raise the cry of ‘Invasion!’ myself. Nor, were it not for the High Elder, would I give you even this one chance to leave.”

            And Dors, with surprising strength, nearly pulled Seldon off his feet as she stepped hastily away, dragging him along until he caught his balance and stepped quickly after her.




            It was over breakfast the next morning, not sooner, that Dors took up the subject---and in a way that Seldon found most wounding.

            She said, “Well, that was a pretty fiasco yesterday.”

            Seldon, who had honestly thought he had gotten away with it without comment, looked sullen. “What made it a fiasco?”

            “Driven out is what we were. And for what? What did we gain?”

            “Only the knowledge that there is a robot in there.”

            “Mycelium Seventy-Two said there wasn’t.”

            “Of course he said that. He’s a scholar--or thinks he is-end what he doesn’t know about the Sacratorium would probably fill that library he goes to. You saw the Elder’s reaction.”

            “I certainly did.”

            “He would not have reacted like that if there was no robot inside. He was horrified we knew.”

            “That’s just your guess, Hari. And even if there was, we couldn’t get in.”

            “We could certainly try. After breakfast, we go out and buy a sash for me, one of those obiahs. I put it on, keep my eyes devoutly downward, and walk right in.”

            “Skincap and all? They’ll spot you in a microsecond.”

            “No, they won’t. We’ll go into the library where all the tribespeople data is kept. I’d like to see it anyway. From the library, which is a Sacratorium annex, I gather, there will probably be an entrance into the Sacratorium

            “Where you will be picked up at once.”

            “Not at all. You heard what Mycelium Seventy-Two had to say. Everyone keeps his eyes down and meditates on their great Lost World, Aurora. No one looks at anyone else. It would probably be a grievous breach of discipline to do so. Then I’ll find the Elders’ aerie--”

            “Just like that?”

            “At one point, Mycelium Seventy-Two said he would advise me not to try to get up into the Elders’ aerie. Up. It must be somewhere in that tower of the Sacratorium, the central tower.”

            Dors shook her head. “I don’t recall the man’s exact words and I don’t think you do either. That’s a terribly weak foundation to wait.” She stopped suddenly and frowned.

            “Well?” said Seldon.

            “There is an archaic word ‘aerie’ that means ‘a dwelling place on high.’ ‘

            “Ah! There you are. You see, we’ve learned some vital things as the result of what you tall a fiasco. And if I can find a living robot that’s twenty thousand years old and if it can tell me-

            “Suppose that such a thing exists, which passes belief, and that you find it, which is not very likely, how long do you think you will be able to talk to it before your presence is discovered?”

            “I don’t know, but if I can prove it exists and if I can find it, then I’ll think of some way to talk to it. It’s too late for me to back out now under any circumstances. Hummin should have left me alone when I thought there was no way of achieving psychohistory. Now that it seems there may be, I won’t let anything stop me---short of being killed.”

            “The Mycogenians may oblige, Hari, and you can’t run that risk.”

            “Yes, I can. I’m going to try.”

            “No, Hari. I must look after you and I can’t let you.”

            “You must let me. Finding a way to work out psychohistory is more important than my safety. My safety is only important because I may work out psychohistory. Prevent me from doing so and your task loses its meaning. -Think about it.”

            Hari felt himself infused with a renewed sense of purpose. Psychohistory-his nebulous theory that he had, such a short while ago, despaired ever of proving-loomed larger, more real. Now he had to believe that it was possible; he could feel it in his gut. The pieces seemed to be falling together and although he couldn’t see the whole pattern yet, he was sure the Sacratorium would yield another piece to the puzzle.

            “Then I’ll go in with you so I can pull you out, you idiot, when the time comes.”

            “Women can’t enter.”

            “What makes me a woman? Only this gray kirtle. You can’t see my breasts under it. I don’t have a woman’s style hairdo with the skincap on. I have the same washed, unmarked face a man has. The men here don’t have stubble. All I need is a white kirtle and a sash and I can enter. Any Sister could do it if she wasn’t held back by a taboo. I am not held back by one.”

            “You’re held back by me. I won’t let you. It’s too dangerous.”

            “No more dangerous for me than for you.”

            “But I must take the risk.”

            “Then so must I. Why is your imperative greater than mine?”

            “Because--” Seldon paused in thought.

            “Just tell yourself this, “ said Dors, her voice hard as rock. “I won’t let you go there without me. If you try, I will knock you unconscious and tie you up. If you don’t like that, then give up any thought of going alone.”

            Seldon hesitated and muttered darkly. He gave up the argument, at least for now.




            The sky was almost cloudless, but it was a pale blue, as though wrapped in a high thin mist. That, thought Seldon, was a good touch, but suddenly he missed the sun itself. No one on Trantor saw the planet’s sun unless he or she went Upperside and even then only when the natural cloud layer broke.

            Did native Trantorians miss the sun? Did they give it any thought? When one of them visited another world where a natural sun was in view, did he or she stare, half-blinded, at it with awe?

            Why, he wondered, did so many people spend their lives not trying to find answers to questions-not even thinking of questions to begin with? Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers?

            His glance shifted to ground level. The wide roadway was lined with low buildings, most of them shops. Numerous individual ground-cars moved in both directions, each hugging the right side. They seemed like a collection of antiques, but they were electrically driven and quite soundless. Seldon wondered if “antique” was always a word to sneer at. Could it be that silence made up for slowness? Was there any particular hurry to life, after all?

            There were a number of children on the walkways and Seldon’s lips pressed together in annoyance. Clearly, an extended life span for the Mycogenians was impossible unless they were willing to indulge in infanticide. The children of both sexes (though it was hard to tell the boys from the girls) wore kirtles that came only a few inches below the knee, making the wild activity of childhood easier.

            The children also still had hair, reduced to an inch in length at most, but even so the older ones among them had hoods attached to their kirtles and wore them raised, hiding the top of the head altogether. It was as though they were getting old enough to make the hair seem a trifle obscene---or old enough to be wishing to hide it, in longing for the day of rite of passage when they were depilated.

            A thought occurred to Seldon. He said, “Dors, when you’ve been out shopping, who paid, you or the Raindrop women?”

            “I did of course. The Raindrops never produced a credit tile. But why should they? What was being bought was for us, not for them.”

            “But you have a Trantorian credit tile-a tribeswoman credit tile.”

            “Of course, Hari, but there was no problem. The people of Mycogen may keep their own culture and ways of thought and habits of life as they wish. They can destroy their cephalic hair and wear kirtles. Nevertheless, they must use the world’s credits. If they don’t, that would choke off commerce and no sensible person would want to do that. The credits nerve, Hari.” She held up her hand as though she was holding an invisible credit tile.

            “And they accepted your credit tile?”

            “Never a peep out of them. And never a word about my skincap. Credits sanitize everything.”

            “Well, that’s good. So I can buy--”

            “No, I’ll do the buying. Credits may sanitize everything, but they more easily sanitize a tribeswoman. They’re so used to paying women little or no attention that they automatically pay me the same. --and here’s the clothing store I’ve been using.”

            “I’ll wait out here. Get me a nice red sash-one that looks impressive.”

            “Don’t pretend you’ve forgotten our decision. I’ll get two. And another white kirtle also . . . to my measurements.”

            “Won’t they think it odd that a woman would be buying a white kirtle?”

            “Of course not. They’ll assume I’m buying it for a male companion who happens to be my size. Actually, I don’t think they’ll bother with any assumptions at all as long as my credit tile is good.”

            Seldon waited, half-expecting someone to come up and greet him as a tribesman or denounce him as one-more likely--but no one did. Those who passed him did so without a glance and even those who glanced in his direction moved on seemingly untouched. He was especially nervous about the gray kirtles -- the women-walking by in pairs or, even worse, with a man. They were downtrodden, unnoticed, snubbed. How better to gain a brief notoriety than by shrieking at the sight of a tribesman? But even the women moved on.

            They’re not expecting to see a tribesman, Seldon thought, so they don’t see one.

            That, he decided, augured well for their forthcoming invasion of the Sacratorium. How much less would anyone expect to see tribespeople there and how much more effectively would they therefore fail to see them!

            He was in fairly good humor when Dors emerged.

            “You have everything?”


            “Then lets go back to the room, so you can change.”

            The white kirtle did not fit her quite as well as the gray one did. Obviously, she could not have tried it on or even the densest shopkeeper would have been struck with alarm.

            “How do I look, Hari?” she asked.

            “Exactly like a boy, “ said Seldon. “Now let’s try the sash . . . or obiah. I had better get used to calling it that.”

            Dors, without her skincap, was shaking out her hair gratefully. She said sharply, “Don’t put it on now. We’re not going to parade through Mycogen with the sash on. The last thing we want to do is call attention to ourselves.”

            “No no. I just want to see how it goes on.”

            “Well, not that one. This one is better quality and more elaborate.”

            “You’re right, Dors. I’ve got to gather in what attention there is. I don’t want them to detect you as a woman.”

            “I’m not thinking of that, Hari. I just want you to look pretty.”

            “A thousand thanks, but that’s impossible, I suspect. Now, let’s see, how does this work?”

            Together, Hari and Dors practiced putting their obiahs on and taking them off, over and over again, until they could do it in one fluid motion. Dors taught Hari how to do it, as she had seen a man doing it the day before at the Sacratorium.

            When Hari praised her for her acute observations, she blushed and said, “Its really nothing, Hari, just something I noticed.”

            Hari replied, “Then you’re a genius for noticing.”

            Finally satisfied, they stood well apart, each surveying the other. Hari’s obiah glittered, a bright red dragonlike design standing out against a paler field of similar hue. Dors’s was a little less bold, had a simple thin line down the center, and was very light in color. “There, “ she said, “just enough to show good taste.” She took it off.

            “Now, “ said Seldon, “we fold it up and it goes into one of the inner pockets. I have my credit tile-Hummin’s, really--and the key to this place in this one and here, on the other side, the Book.”

            “The Book? Should you be carrying it around?”

            “I must. I’m guessing that anyone going to the Sacratorium ought to have a copy of the Book with him. They may intone passages or have readings. If necessary, we’ll share the Book and maybe no one will notice. Ready?”

            “I’ll never be ready, but I’m going with you.”

            “It will be a tedious trip. Will you check my skincap and make sure no hair shows this time? And don’t scratch your head.”

            “I won’t. You look all right.”

            “So do you.”

            “You also look nervous.”

            And Seldon said wryly, “Guess why!”

            Dors reached out impulsively and squeezed Hari’s hand, then drew back as if surprised at herself. Looking down, she straightened her white kirtle. Hari, himself a trifle surprised and peculiarly pleased, cleared his throat and said, “Okay, let’s go.”




        ROBOT- . . . A term used in the ancient legends of several worlds for what are more usually called “automata.” Robots are described as generally human in shape and made of metal, although some are supposed to have been pseudoorganic in nature. Hari Seldon, in the course of The Flight, is popularly supposed to have seen an actual robot, but that story is of dubious origin. Nowhere in Seldon’s voluminous writings does he mention robots at all, although . . .





            They were not noticed.

            Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili repeated the trip of the day before and this time no one gave them a second look. Hardly anyone even gave them a first look. On several occasions, they had to tuck their knees to one side to allow someone sitting on an inner seat to get past them and out. When someone got in, they quickly realized they had to move over if there was an inner empty seat.

            This time they quickly grew tired of the smell of kitties that were not freshly laundered because they were not so easily diverted by what went on outside.

            But eventually they were there.

            “That’s the library, “ said Seldon in a low voice.

            “I suppose so, “ said Dors. “At least that’s the building that Mycelium SeventyTwo pointed out yesterday.”

            They sauntered toward it leisurely.

            “Take a deep breath, “ said Seldon. “This is the first hurdle.”

            The door ahead was open, the light within subdued. There were five broad stone steps leading upward. They stepped onto the lowermost one and waited several moments before they realized that their weight did not cause the steps to move upward. Dors grimaced very slightly and gestured Seldon upward.

            Together they walked up the stairs, feeling embarrassed on behalf of Mycogen for its backwardness. Then, through a door, where, at a desk immediately inside was a man bent over the simplest and clumsiest computer Seldon had ever seen.

            The man did not look up at them. No need, Seldon supposed. White kirtle, bald head-all Mycogenians looked so nearly the same that one’s eyes slid off them and that was to the tribespeople’s advantage at the moment.

            The man, who still seemed to be studying something on the desk, said, “Scholars?”

            “Scholars, “ said Seldon.

            The man jerked his head toward a door. “Go in. Enjoy.”

            They moved inward and, as nearly as they could see, they were the only ones in this section of the library. Either the library was not a popular resort or the scholars were few or-most likely both.

            Seldon whispered, “I thought surely we would have to present some sort of license or permission form and I would have to plead having forgotten it.”

            “He probably welcomes our presence under any terms. Did you ever see a place like this? If a place, like a person, could be dead, we would be inside a corpse.”

            Most of the books in this section were print-books like the Book in Seldon’s inner pocket. Dors drifted along the shelves, studying them. She said, “Old books, for the most part. Part classic. Part worthless.”

            “Outside books? Non-Mycogen, I mean?”

            “Oh yes. If they have their own books, they must be kept in another section. This one is for outside research for poor little selfstyled scholars like yesterday’s. -This is the reference department and here’s an Imperial Encyclopedia . . . must be fifty years old if a day . . . and a computer.”

            She reached for the keys and Seldon stopped her. “Wait. Something could go wrong and we’ll be delayed.”

            He pointed to a discreet sign above a free-standing set of shelves that glowed with the letters TO THE SACRATORIUM. The second A in SACRATORIUM was dead, possibly recently or possibly because no one cared. (The Empire, thought Seldon, was in decay. All parts of it. Mycogen too.)

            He looked about. The poor library, so necessary to Mycogenian pride, perhaps so useful to the Elders who could use it to find crumbs to shore up their own beliefs and present them as being those of sophisticated tribespeople, seemed to be completely empty. No one had entered after them.

            Seldon said, “Let’s step in here, out of eyeshot of the man at the door, and put on our sashes.”

            And then, at the door, aware suddenly there would be no turning back if they passed this second hurdle, he said, “Dors, don’t come in with me.”

            She frowned. “Why not?”

            “It’s not safe and I don’t want you to be at risk.”

            “I am here to protect you, “ she said with soft firmness.

            “What kind of protection can you be? I can protect myself, though you may not think it. And I’d be handicapped by having to protect you. Don’t you see that?”

            “You mustn’t be concerned about me, Hari, “ said Dors. “Concern is my part.” She tapped her sash where it crossed in the space between her obscured breasts.

            “Because Hummin asked you to?”

            “Because those are my orders.”

            She seized Seldon’s arms just above his elbow and, as always, he was surprised by her firm grip. She said, “I’m against this, Hari, but if you feel you must go in, then I must go in too.”

            “All right, then. But if anything happens and you can wriggle out of it, run. Don’t worry about me.”

            “You’re wasting your breath, Hari. And you’re insulting me.”

            Seldon touched the entrance panel and the portal slid open. Together, almost in unison, they walked through.




            A large room, all the larger because it was empty of anything resembling furniture. No chairs, no benches, no seats of any kind. No stage, no drapery, no decorations.

            No lights, merely a uniform illumination of mild, unfocused light. The walls were not entirely blank. Periodically, arranged in spaced fashion at various heights and in no easy repetitive order, there were small, primitive, twodimensional television screens, all of which were operating. From where Dors and Seldon stood, there was not even the illusion of a third dimension, not a breath of true holovision.

            There were people present. Not many and nowhere together. They stood singly and, like the television monitors, in no easy repetitive order. All were white-kirtled, all sashed.

            For the most part, there was silence. No one talked in the usual sense. Some moved their lips, murmuring softly. Those who walked did so stealthily, eyes downcast.

            The atmosphere was absolutely funereal.

            Seldon leaned toward Dors, who instantly put a finger to her lips, then pointed to one of the television monitors. The screen showed an idyllic garden bursting with blooms, the camera panning over it slowly.

            They walked toward the monitor in a fashion that imitated the others-slow steps, putting each foot down softly.

            When they were within half a meter of the screen, a soft insinuating voice made itself heard: “The garden of Antennin, as reproduced from ancient guidebooks and photographs, located in the outskirts of Eos. Note the--”

            Dors said in a whisper Seldon had trouble catching over the sound of the set, “It turns on when someone is close and it will turn off if we step away. If we’re close enough, we can talk under cover, but don’t look at me and stop speaking if anyone approaches.”

            Seldon, his head bent, his hands clasped before him (he had noted that this was a preferred posture), said, “Any moment I expect someone to start wailing.”

            “Someone might. They’re mourning their Lost World, “ said Dors.

            “I hope they change the films every once in a while. It would be deadly to always see the same ones.”

            “They’re all different, “ said Dors, her eyes sliding this way and that. “They may change periodically. I don’t know.”

            “Wait!” said Seldon just a hair’s breadth too loud. He lowered his voice and said, “Come this way.”

            Dors frowned, failing to make out the words, but Seldon gestured slightly with his head. Again the stealthy walk, but Seldon’s footsteps increased in length as he felt the need for greater speed and Dons, catching up, pulled sharply-if very briefly-at his kirtle He slowed.

            “Robots here, “ he said under the cover of the sound as it came on.

            The picture showed the corner of a dwelling place with a rolling lawn and a line of hedges in the foreground and three of what could only be described as robots. They were metallic, apparently, and vaguely human in shape.

            The recording said, “This is a view, recently constructed, of the establishment of the famous Wendome estate of the third century. The robot you see near the center was, according to tradition, named Bendar and served twenty-two years, according to the ancient records, before being replaced.”

            Dors said, “‘Recently constructed, ‘ so they must change views.”

            “Unless they’ve been saying `recently constructed’ for the last thousand years.”

            Another Mycogenian stepped into the sound pattern of the scene and said in a low voice, though not as low as the whisperings of Seldon and Dors, “Greetings, Brothers.”

            He did not look at Seldon and Dons as he spoke and after one involuntary and startled glance, Seldon kept his head averted. Dors had ignored it all.

            Seldon hesitated. Mycelium Seventy-Two had said that there was no talking in the Sacratorium. Perhaps he had exaggerated. Then too he had not been in the Sacratorium since he was a child.

            Desperately, Seldon decided he must speak. He said in a whisper, “And to you, Brother, greetings.”

            He had no idea whether that was the correct formula of reply or if there was a formula, but the Mycogenian seemed to find nothing amiss in it.

            “To you in Aurora, “ he said.

            “And to you, “ said Seldon and because it seemed to him that the other expected more, he added, “in Aurora, “ and there was an impalpable release of tension. Seldon felt his forehead growing moist.

            The Mycogenian said, “Beautiful! I haven’t seen this before.”

            “Skillfully done, “ said Seldon. Then, in a burst of daring, he added, “A loss never to be forgotten.”

            The other seemed startled, then said, “Indeed, indeed, “ and moved away.

            Dors hissed, “Take no chances. Don’t say what you don’t have to.’

            “It seemed natural. Anyway, this it recent. But those are disappointing robots. They are what I would expect automata to be. I want to see the organic ones-the humanoids.”

            “If they existed, “ said Dors with some hesitation, “it seems to me they wouldn’t be used for gardening jobs.”

            “True, “ said Seldon. “We must find the Elders’ aerie.”

            “If that exists. It seems to me there is nothing in this hollow cave but a hollow cave.”

            “Let’s look.”

            They paced along the wall, passing from screen to screen, trying to wait at each for irregular intervals until Dors clutched Seldon’s arms. Between two screens were lines marking out a faint rectangle.

            “A door, “ Dors said. Then she weakened the assertion by adding, “Do you think?”

            Seldon looked about surreptitiously. It was in the highest degree convenient that, in keeping with the mourning atmosphere, every face, when not fixed on a television monitor, was bent in sad concentration on the floor.

            Seldon said, “How do you suppose it would open?”

            “An entrance patch.”

            “I can’t make out any.”

            “It’s just not marked out, but there’s a slight discoloration there. Do you see it? How many palms? How many times?”

            “I’ll try. Keep an eye out and kick me if anyone looks in this direction.”

            He held his breath casually, touched the discolored spot to no avail, and then placed his palm full upon it and pressed.

            The door opened silently-not a creak, not a scrape. Seldon stepped through as rapidly as he could and Dors followed him. The door closed behind them.

            “The question is, “ said Dors, “did anyone see us?”

            Seldon said, “Elders must go through this door frequently.”

            “Yes, but will anyone think we are Elders?”

            Seldon waited, then said, “If we were observed and if anyone thought something was wrong, this door would have been flung open again within fifteen seconds of our entering.”

            “Possibly, “ said Dors dryly, “or possibly there is nothing to be seen or done on this side of the door and no one cares if we enter.”

            “That remains to be seen, “ muttered Seldon.

            The rather narrow room they had entered was somewhat dark, but as they stepped farther into it, the light brightened.

            There were chairs, wide and comfortable, small tables, several davenports, a deep and tall refrigerator, cupboards.

            “If this is the Elders’ aerie, “ said Seldon, “the Elders seem to do themselves comfortably, despite the austerity of the Sacratorium itself.”

            “As would be expected, “ said Dors. “Asceticism among a ruling class except for public show-is very rare. Put that down in your notebook for psychohistorical aphorisms.” She looked about. “And there is no robot.”

            Seldon said, “A aerie is a high position, remember, and this ceiling is not. There must be upper storeys and that must be the way.” He pointed to a well-carpeted stairway.

            He did not advance toward it, however, but looked about vaguely.

            Dors guessed what he was seeking. She said, “Forget about elevators. There’s a cult of primitivism in Mycogen. Surely, you haven’t forgotten that, have you? There would be no elevators and, what’s more, if we place our weight at the foot of the stairs, I am quite certain it will not begin moving upward. We’re going to have to climb it. Several flights, perhaps.”

            “Climb it?”

            “It must, in the nature of things, lead to the aerie-if it leads anywhere. Do you want to see the aerie or don’t you?”

            Together they stepped toward the staircase and began the climb.

            They went up three flights and, as they did, the light level decreased perceptibly and in steady increments. Seldon took a deep breath and whispered, “I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but I hate this.”

            “You’re not used to this precise type of physical exertion.” She showed no signs of physical distress whatever.

            At the top of the third flight the stairs ended and before them was another door.

            “And if it’s locked?” said Seldon, more to himself than to Dors. “Do we try to break it down?”

            But Dors said, “Why should it be locked when the lower door was nor? If this is the Elders’ aerie, I imagine there’s a taboo on anyone but Elders coming here and a taboo is much stronger than any lock.”

            “As far as those who accept the taboo are concerned, “ said Seldon, but he made no move toward the door.

            “There’s still time to turn back, since you hesitate, “ said Dors. “In fact, I would advise you to rum back.”

            “I only hesitate because I don’t know what we’ll find inside. If it’s empty--”

            And then he added in a rather louder voice, “Then it’s empty, “ and he strode forward and pushed against the entry panel.

            The door retracted with silent speed and Seldon took a step back at the surprising flood of light from within.

            And there, facing him, eyes alive with light, arms half-upraised, one foot slightly advanced before the other, gleaming with a faintly yellow metallic shine, was a human figure. For a few moments, it seemed to be wearing a tight-fitting tunic, but on closer inspection it became apparent that the tunic was part of the structure of the object.

            “It’s the robot, “ said Seldon in awe, “but it’s metallic.”

            “Worse than that, “ said Dors, who had stepped quickly to one side and then to the other. “Its eyes don’t follow me. Its arms don’t as much as tremble. It’s not alive-if one can speak of robots as being alive.”

            And a man-unmistakably a man-stepped out from behind the robot and said, “Perhaps not. But I am alive.”

            And almost automatically, Dors stepped forward and took her place between Seldon and the man who had suddenly appeared.




            Seldon pushed Dors to one side, perhaps a shade more roughly than he intended. “I don’t need protection. This is our old friend Sunmaster Fourteen.”

            The man who faced them, wearing a double sash that was perhaps his right as High Elder, said, “And you are Tribesman Seldon.”

            “Of course, “ said Seldon.

            “And this, despite her masculine dress, is Tribeswoman Venabili.”

            Dors said nothing.

            Sunmaster Fourteen said, “You are right, of course, tribesman. You are in no danger of physical harm from me. Please sit down. Both of you. Since you are not a Sister, tribeswoman, you need not retire. There is a seat for you which, if you value such a distinction, you will be the first woman ever to have used.”

            “I do not value such a distinction, “ said Dors, spacing her words for emphasis.

            Sunmaster Fourteen nodded. “That is as you wish. I too will sit down, for I must ask you questions and I do not care to do it standing.”

            They were sitting now in a corner of the room. Seldon’s eyes wandered to the metal robot.

            Sunmaster Fourteen said, “It if a robot.”

            “I know, “ said Seldon briefly.

            “I know you do, “ said Sunmaster Fourteen with similar curtness. “But now that we have settled that matter, why are you here?”

            Seldon gazed steadily at Sunmaster Fourteen and said, “To see the robot.”

            “Do you know that no one but an Elder is allowed in the aerie?”

            “ I did not know that, but I suspected it.”

            “Do you know that no tribesperson is allowed in the Sacratorium?”

            “I was told that.”

            “And you ignored the fact, is that it?”

            “As I said, we wanted to see the robot.”

            “Do you know that no woman, even a Sister, is allowed in the Sacratorium except at certain stated--and rare-occasions?”

            “I was told that.”

            “And do you know that no woman is at any time--or for any reason allowed to dress in masculine garb? That holds, within the borders of Mycogen, for tribeswomen as well as for Sisters.”

            “I was not told that, but I am not surprised.”

            “Good. I want you to understand all this. Now, why did you want to see the robot?”

            Seldon said with a shrug, “Curiosity. I had never seen a robot or even known that such a thing existed.”

            “And how did you come to know that it did exist and, specifically, that it existed here?”

            Seldon was silent, then said, “I do not wish to answer that question.”

            “Is that why you were brought to Mycogen by Tribesman Hummin? To investigate robots?”

            “No. Tribesman Hummin brought us here that we might be secure. However, we are scholars, Dr. Venabili and I. Knowledge is our province and to gain knowledge is our purpose. Mycogen is little understood outside its borders and we wish to know more about your ways and your methods of thought. It is a natural desire and, it seems to us, a harmless-even praiseworthy-one.”

            “Ah, but we do not wish the outer tribes and worlds to know about us. That is our natural desire and we are the judge of what is harmless to us and what harmful. So I ask you again, tribesman:

            How did you know that a robot existed in Mycogen and that it existed in this room?”

            “General rumor, “ said Seldon at length.

            “Do you insist on that?”

            “General rumor. I insist on it.”

            Sunmaster Fourteen’s keen blue eyes seemed to sharpen and he said without raising his voice, “Tribesman Seldon, we have long cooperated with Tribesman Hummin. For a tribesman, he has seemed a decent and trustworthy individual. For a tribesman! When he brought you two to us and commended you to our protection, we granted it. But Tribesman Hummin, whatever his virtues, is still a tribesman and we had misgivings. We were not at all sure what your---or his-real purpose might be.”

            “Our purpose was knowledge, “ said Seldon. “Academic knowledge. Tribeswoman Venabili is a historian and I too have an interest in history. Why should we not be interested in Mycogenian history?”

            “For one thing, because we do not wish you to be. -In any case, two of our trusted Sisters were sent to you. They were to cooperate with you, try to find out what it was you wanted, and-what is the expression you tribesmen use?-play along with you. Yet not in such a way that you would be too aware as to what was happening.” Sunmaster Fourteen smiled, but it was a grim smile.

            “Raindrop Forty-Five, “ Sunmaster Fourteen went on, “went shopping with Tribeswoman Venabili, but there seemed nothing out of the way in what happened on those trips. Naturally, we had a full report. Raindrop Forty-Three showed you, Tribesman Seldon, our microfarms. You might have been suspicious of her willingness to accompany you alone, something that is utterly out of the question for us, but you reasoned that what applied to Brothers did not apply to tribesmen and you flattered yourself that that flimsy bit of reasoning won her over. She complied with your desire, though at considerable cost to her peace of mind. And, eventually, you asked for the Book. To have handed it over too easily might have roused your suspicion, so she pretended to a perverse desire only you could satisfy. Her self-sacrifice will not be forgotten. -I take it, tribesman, you still have the Book and I suspect you have it with you now. May I have it?”

            Seldon sat in bitter silence.

            Sunmaster Fourteen’s wrinkled hand remained obtrusively outstretched and he said, “How much better it would be than to wrest it from you by force.”

            And Seldon handed it over. Sunmaster Fourteen leafed through its pages briefly, as though to reassure himself it was unharmed.

            He said with a small sigh, “It will have to be carefully destroyed in the approved manner. Sad’. --but once you had this Book, we were, of course, not surprised when you made your way out to the Sacratorium. You were watched at all times, for you cannot think that any Brother or Sister, not totally absorbed, would not recognize you for tribespeople at a glance. We know a skincap when we see one and there are less than seventy of them in Mycogen . . . almost all belonging to tribesmen on official business who remain entirely in secular governmental buildings during the time they are here. So you were not only seen but unmistakably identified, over and over.

            “The elderly Brother who met you was careful to tell you about the library as well as about the Sacratorium, but he was also careful to tell you what you were forbidden to do, for we did not wish to entrap you. Skystrip Two also warned you . . . and quite forcibly. Nevertheless, you did not turn away.

            “The shop at which you bought the white kirtle and the two sashes informed us at once and from that we knew well what you intended. The library was kept empty, the librarian was warned to keep his eyes to himself, the Sacratorium was kept under-utilized. The one Brother who inadvertently spoke to you almost gave it away, but hastened off when he realized with whom he was dealing. And then you came up here.

            “You see, then, that it was your intention to come up here and that we in no way lured you here. You came as a result of your own action, your own desire, and what I want to ask you-yet once again-is: Why?”

            It was Dors who answered this time, her voice firm, her eyes hard. “We will tell you yet once again, Mycogenian. We are scholars, who consider knowledge sacred and it is only knowledge that we seek. You did not lure us here, but you did not stop us either, as you might have done before ever we approached this building. You smoothed our way and made it easy for us and even that might be considered a lure. And what harm have we done? We have in no way disturbed the building, or this room, or you, or that.”

            She pointed to the robot. “It is a dead lump of metal that you hide here and we now know that it is dead and that is all the knowledge we sought. We thought it would be more significant and we are disappointed, but now that we know it is merely what it is, we will leave-and, if you wish, we will leave Mycogen as well.”

            Sunmaster Fourteen listened with no trace of expression on his face, but when she was done, he addressed Seldon, saying, “This robot, as you see it, is a symbol, a symbol of all we have lost and of all we no longer have, of all that, through thousands of years, we have not forgotten and what we intend someday to return to. Because it is all that remains to us that is both material and authentic, it is dear to us-yet to your woman it is only ‘a dead lump of metal.’ Do you associate yourself with that judgment, Tribesman Seldon?”

            Seldon said, “We are members of societies that do not tie ourselves to a past that is thousands of years old, making no contact at all with what has existed between that past and ourselves. We live in the present, which we recognize as the product of al! the past and not of one long-gone moment of time that we hug to our chests. We realize, intellectually, what the robot may mean to you and we are willing to let it continue to mean that to you. But we can only see it with our own eyes, as you can only see it with yours. To us, it is a dead lump of metal.”

            “And now, “ said Dors, “we will leave.”

            “You will not, “ said Sunmaster Fourteen. “By coming here, you have committed a crime. It is a crime only in our eyes, as you will hasten to point out”-his lips curved in a wintry smile “but this is our territory and, within it, we make the definitions. And this crime, as we define it, is punishable by death.”

            “And you are going to shoot us down?” said Dors haughtily.

            Sunmaster Fourteen’s expression was one of contempt and he continued to speak only to Seldon. “What do you think we are, Tribesman Seldon? Our culture is as old as yours, as complex, as civilized, as humane. I am not armed. You will be tried and, since you are manifestly guilty, executed according to law, quickly and painlessly.

            “If you were to try to leave now, I would not stop you, but there are many Brothers below, many more than there appeared to be when you entered the Sacratorium and, in their rage at your action, they may lay rough and forceful hands on you. It has happened in our history that tribespeople have even died so and it is not a pleasant death-certainly not a painless one.”

            “We were warned of this, “ said Dors, “by Skystrip Two. So much for your complex, civilized, and humane culture.”

            “People can be moved to violence at moments of emotion, Tribesman Seldon, “ said Sunmaster Fourteen calmly, “whatever their humanity in moments of calm. This is true in every culture, as your woman, who is said to be a historian, must surely know.”

            Seldon said, “Let us remain reasonable, Sunmaster Fourteen. You may be the law in Mycogen over local affairs, but you are not the law over us and you know it. We are both non-Mycogenian citizens of the Empire and it is the Emperor and his designated legal officers who must remain in charge of any capital offense.”

            Sunmaster Fourteen said, “That may be so in statutes and on papers and on holovision screens, but we are not talking theory now. The High Elder has long had the power to punish crimes of sacrilege without interference from the Imperial throne.”

            “If the criminals are your own people, “ said Seldom “It would be quite different if they were outsiders.”

            “I doubt it in this case. Tribesman Hummin brought you here as fugitives and we are not so yeast-headed in Mycogen that we don’t strongly suspect that you are fugitives from the Emperor’s laws. Why should he object if we do his work for him?”

            “Because, “ said Seldon, “he would. Even if we were fugitives from the Imperial authorities and even if he wanted us only to punish us, he would still want us. To allow you to kill, by whatever means and for whatever reason, non-Mycogenians without due Imperial process would be to defy his authority and no Emperor could allow such a precedent. No matter how eager he might be to see that the microfood trade not be interrupted, he would still feel it necessary to re-establish the Imperial prerogative. Do you wish, in your eagerness to kill us, to hove a division of Imperial soldiery loot your farms and your dwellings, desecrate your Sacratorium, and take liberties with the Sisters: Consider.”

            Sunmaster Fourteen smiled once again, but displayed no softness. “Actually, I have considered and there is an alternative. After we condemn you, we could delay your execution to allow you to appeal to the Emperor for a review of your case. The Emperor might be grateful at this evidence of our ready submission to his authority and grateful too to lay his hands on you two-for some reason of his own--and Mycogen might profit. Is that what you want, then? To appeal to the Emperor in due course and to be delivered to him?”

            Seldon and Dors looked at each other briefly and were silent.

            Sunmaster Fourteen said, “I feel you would rather be delivered to the Emperor than die, but why do I get the impression that the preference is only by a slight margin?”

            “Actually, “ said a new voice, “I think neither alternative is acceptable and that we must search for a third.”




            It was Dors who identified the newcomer first, perhaps because it was she who expected him.

            “Hummin, “ she said, “thank goodness you found us. I got in touch with you the moment I realized I was not going to deflect Hari from”-she held up her hands in a wide gesture “this.”

            Hummin’s smile was a small one that did not alter the natural gravity of his face. There was a subtle weariness about him.

            “My dear, “ he said, “I was engaged in other things. I cannot always pull away at a moment’s notice. And when I got here, I had, like you two, to supply myself with a kirde and sash, to say nothing of a skincap, and make my way out here. Had I been here earlier, I might have stopped this, but I believe I’m not too late.”

            Sunmaster Fourteen had recovered from what had seemed to be a painful shock. He said in a voice that lacked its customary severe depth, “How did you get in here, Tribesman Hummin?”

            “It was not easy, High Elder, but as Tribeswoman Venabili likes to say, I am a very persuasive person. Some of the citizens here remember who I was and what I have done for Mycogen in the past, that I am even an honorary Brother. Have you forgotten, Sunmaster Fourteen?”

            The Elder replied, “I have not forgotten, but even the most favorable memory can not survive certain actions. A tribesman here and a tribeswoman. There is no greater crime. All you have done is not great enough to balance that. My people are not unmindful. We will make it up to you some other way. But these two must die or be handed over to the Emperor.”

            “I am also here, “ said Hummin calmly. “Is that not a crime as well?”

            “For you, “ said Sunmaster Fourteen, “for you personally, as a kind of honorary Brother, I can . . . overlook it . . . once. Not these two.’

            “Because you expect a reward from the Emperor? Some favor? Some concession? Have you already been in touch with him or with his Chief of Staff, Eto Demerzel, more likely?”

            “That is not a subject for discussion.”

            “Which is itself an admission. Come on, I don’t ask what the Emperor promised, but it cannot be much. He does not have much to give in these degenerate days. Let me make you an offer. Have these two told you they are scholars?”

            “They have.”

            “And they are. They are not lying. The tribeswoman is a historian and the tribesman is a mathematician. The two together are trying to combine their talents to make a mathematics of history and they call the combined subject ‘psychohistory.’ “

            Sunmaster Fourteen said, “I know nothing about this psychohistory, nor do I care to know. Neither it nor any other facet of your tribal learning interests me.”

            “Nevertheless, “ said Hummin, “I suggest that you listen to me.”

            It took Hummin some fifteen minutes, speaking concisely, to describe the possibility of organizing the natural laws of society (something he always mentioned with audible quotation marks in the tone of his voice) in such a way as to make it possible to anticipate the future with a substantial degree of probability.

            And when he was done, Sunmaster Fourteen, who had listened expressionlessly, said, “A highly unlikely piece of speculation, I should say.”

            Seldon, with a rueful expression, seemed about to speak, undoubtedly to agree, but Hummin’s hand, resting lightly on the other’s knee, tightened unmistakably.

            Hummin said, “Possibly, High Elder, but the Emperor doesn’t think so. And by the Emperor, who is himself an amiable enough personage, I really mean Demerzel, concerning whose ambitions you need no instruction. They would like very much to have these two scholars, which is why I’ve brought them here for safekeeping. I had little expectation that you would do Demerzel’s work for him by delivering the scholars to him.”

            “They have committed a crime that--”

            “Yes, we know, High Elder, but it is only a crime because you choose to call it so. No real harm has been done.”

            “It has been done to our belief, to our deepest felt--”

            “But imagine what harm will be done if psychohistory falls into the hands of Demerzel. Yes, I grant that nothing may come of it, but suppose for a moment that something does and that the Imperial government has the use of it-can foretell what is to come-can take measures with that foreknowledge which no one else would have-can take measures, in fact, designed to bring about an alternate future more to the Imperial liking.”


            “Is there any doubt, High Elder, that the alternate furore more to the Imperial liking would be one of tightened centralization? For centuries now, as you very well know, the Empire has been undergoing a steady decentralization. Many worlds now acknowledge only lip service to the Emperor and virtually rule themselves. Even here on Trantor, there is decentralization. Mycogen, as only one example, is free of Imperial interference for the most part. You rule its High Elder and there is no Imperial officer at your side overseeing your actions and decisions. How long do you think that will last with men like Demerzel adjusting the furore to their liking?”

            “Still the flimsiest of speculation, “ said Sunmaster Fourteen, “but an disturbing one, I admit.”

            “On the other hand, if these scholars can complete their task, an unlikely if, you might say, but an if-then they are sure to remember that you spared them when you might have chosen not to. And it would then be conceivable that they would learn to arrange a future, for instance, that would allow Mycogen to be given a world of its own, a world that could be terraformed into a close replica of the Lost World. And even if these two forget your kindness, I will be here to remind them.”

            “Well--” said Sunmaster Fourteen.

            “Come on, “ said Hummin, “it is not hard to decide what must be going through your mind. Of all tribespeople, you must trust Demerzel the least. And though the chance of psychohistory might be small (if I was not being honest with you, I would not admit that) it is not zero; and if it will bring about a restoration of the Lost World, what can you want more than that? What would you not risk for even a tiny chance of that? Come now-I promise you and my promises are not lightly given. Release these two and choose a tiny chance of your heart’s desire over no chance at all.”

            There was silence and then Sunmaster Fourteen sighed. “I don’t know how it is, Tribesman Hummin, but on every occasion that we meet, you persuade me into something I do not really want to do.”

            “Have I ever misled you, High Elder?”

            “You have never offered me so small a chance?”

            “And so high a possible reward. The one balances the other.”

            And Sunmaster Fourteen nodded his head. “You are right. Take these two and take them out of Mycogen and never let me see them again unless there comes a time when--but surely it will not be in my lifetime.”

            “Perhaps not, High Elder. But your people have been waiting patiently for nearly twenty thousand years. Would you then object to waiting another-perhaps-two hundred?”

            “I would not willingly wait one moment, but my people will wait as long as they must.”

            And standing up, he said, “I will clear the path. Take them and go. “




            They were finally back in a tunnel. Hummin and Seldon had traveled through one when they went from the Imperial Sector to Streeling University in the air-taxi. Now they were in another tunnel, going from Mycogen to . . . Seldon did not know where. He hesitated to ask. Hummin’s face seemed as if it was carved out of granite and it didn’t welcome conversation.

            Hummin sat in the front of the four-seater, with no one to his right. Seldon and Dors shared the backseat.

            Seldon chanced a smile at Dors, who looked glum. “It’s nice to be in real clothes again, isn’t it?”

            “I will never, “ said Dors with enormous sincerity, “wear or look at anything that resembles a kirtle. And I will never, under any circumstances, wear a skincap. In fact, I’m going to feel odd if I ever see a normally bald man.”

            And it was Dors who finally asked the question that Seldon had been reluctant to advance. “Chetter, “ she said rather petulantly, “why won’t you tell us where we’re going?”

            Hummin hitched himself into a sideways position and he looked back at Dors and Seldon gravely. “Somewhere, “ he said, “where it may be difficult for you to get into trouble-although I’m not sure such a place exists.”

            Dors was at once crestfallen. “Actually, Chetter, it’s my fault. At Streeling, I let Hari go Upperside without accompanying him. In Mycogen, I at least accompanied him, but I suppose I ought not to have let him enter the Sacratorium at all.”

            “I was determined, “ said Seldon warmly. “It was in no way Dors’s fault.”

            Hummin made no effort to apportion blame. He simply said, “I gather you wanted to see the robot. Was there a reason for that? Can you tell me?”

            Seldon could feel himself redden. “ I was wrong in that respect, Hummin. I did not see what I expected to see or what I hoped to see. If I had known the content of the aerie, I would never have bothered going there. Call it a complete fiasco.”

            “But then, Seldon, what was it you hoped to see? Please tell me.

            Take your time if you wish. This is a long trip and I am willing to listen.”

            “The thing is, Hummin, that I had the idea that there were humaniform robots, that they were long-lived, that at least one might still be alive, and that it might be in the aerie. There was a robot there, but it was metallic, it was dead, and it was merely a symbol. Had I but known--”

            “Yes. Did we all but know, there would be no need for questions or for research of any kind. Where did you get your information about humaniform robots? Since no Mycogenian would have discussed that with you, I can think of only one source. The Mycogenian Book-a powered print-book in ancient Auroran and modern Galactic. Am I right?”


            “And how did you get a copy?”

            Seldon paused, then muttered, “Its somewhat embarrassing.”

            “I am not easily embarrassed, Seldon.”

            Seldon told him and Hummin allowed a very small smile to twitch across his face.

            Hummin said, “Didn’t it occur to you that what occurred had to be a charade? No Sister would do a thing like that-except under instruction and with a great deal of persuading.”

            Seldon frowned and said with asperity, “That was not at all obvious. People are perverted now and then. And its easy for you to grin. I didn’t have the information you had and neither did Dors. If you did not wish me to fall into traps, you might have warned me of those that existed.”

            “I agree. I withdraw my remark. In any case, you don’t have the Book any longer, I’m sure.”

            “No. Sunmaster Fourteen took it from me.”

            “How much of it did you read?”

            “Only a small fraction. I didn’t have time. It’s a huge book and I must tell you, Hummin, it is dreadfully dull.”

            “Yes, I know that, for I think I have read more of it than you have. It is not only dull, it is totally unreliable. It is a one-sided, official Mycogenian view of history that is more intent on presenting that view than a reasoned objectivity. It is even deliberately unclear in spots so that outsiders-even if they were to read the Book-would never know entirely what they read. What was it, for instance, that you thought you read about robots that interested you?”

            “I’ve already told you. They speak of humaniform robots, robots that could not be distinguished from human beings in outward appearance.”

            “How many of these would exist?” asked Hummin.

            “They don’t say. -At least, I didn’t come across a passage in which they gave numbers. There may have been only a handful, but one of them, the Book refers to as ‘Renegade.’ It seems to have an unpleasant significance, but I couldn’t make out what.”

            “You didn’t tell me anything about that, “ interposed Dors. “If you had, I would have told you that it’s not a proper name. It’s another archaic word and it means, roughly, what ‘traitor’ would mean in Galactic. The older word has a greater aura of fear about it. A traitor, somehow, sneaks to his treason, but a renegade flaunts it. •.

            Hummin said, “I’ll leave the fine points of archaic language to you, Dors, but, in any case, if the Renegade actually existed and if it was a humaniform robot, then, clearly, as a traitor and enemy, it would not be preserved and venerated in the Elders’ aerie.”

            Seldon said, “I didn’t know the meaning of ‘Renegade, ‘ but, as I said, I did get the impression that it was an enemy. I thought it might have been defeated and preserved as a reminder of the Mycogenian triumph.”

            “Was there any indication in the Book that the Renegade was defeated?”

            “No, but I might have missed that portion--”

            “Not likely. Any Mycogenian victory would be announced in the Book unmistakably and referred to over and over again.”

            “There was another point the Book made about the Renegade, “ said Seldon, hesitating, “but I can’t be at all sure I understood it.”

            Hummin said, “As I told you . . . They are deliberately obscure at times.”

            “Nevertheless, they seemed to say that the Renegade could somehow tap human emotions . . . influence them--”

            “Any politician can, “ said Hummin with a shrug. “It’s called charisma-when it works.”

            Seldon sighed. “Well, I wanted to believe. That was it. I would have given a great deal to find an ancient humaniform robot that was still alive and that I could question.”

            “For what purpose?” asked Hummin.

            “To learn the details of the primordial Galactic society when it still consisted of only a handful of worlds. From so small a Galaxy psychohistory could be deduced more easily.”

            Hummin said, “Are you sure you could trust what you heard? After many thousands of years, would you be willing to rely on the robot’s early memories? How much distortion would have entered into them?”

            “That’s right, “ said Dors suddenly. “It would be like the computerized records I told you of, Hari. Slowly, those robot memories would be discarded, lost, erased, distorted. You can only go back so far and the farther you go back, the less reliable the information becomes-no matter what you do.”

            Hummin nodded. “I’ve heard it referred to as a kind of uncertainty principle in information.”

            “But wouldn’t it be possible, “ said Seldon thoughtfully, “that some information, for special reasons, would be preserved? Parts of the Mycogenian Book may well refer to events of twenty thousand years ago and yet be very largely as it had been originally. The more valued and the more carefully preserved particular information is, the more long-lasting and accurate it may be.”

            “The key word is ‘particular.’ What the Book may care to preserve may not be what you wish to have preserved and what a robot may remember best may be what you wish him to remember least.”

            Seldon said in despair, “In whatever direction I turn to seek a way of working out psychohistory, matters so arrange themselves as to make it impossible. Why bother trying?”

            “It might seem hopeless now, “ said Hummin unemotionally, “but given the necessary genius, a route to psychohistory may be found that none of us would at this moment expect. Give yourself more time. --but we’re coming to a rest area. Let us pull off and have dinner.”

            Over the lamb patties on rather tasteless bread (most unpalatable after the fare at Mycogen), Seldon said, “You seem to assume, Hummin, that I am the possessor of ‘the necessary genius.’ I may not be, you know.”

            Hummin said, “That’s true. You may not be. However, I know of no alternate candidate for the post, so I must cling to you.”

            And Seldon sighed and said, “Well, I’ll try, but I’m out of any spark of hope. Possible but not practical, I said to begin with, and I’m more convinced of that now than I ever was before.”




        AMARYL, YUGO- . . . A mathematician who, next to Hari Seldon himself, may be considered most responsible for working out the details of psychohistory. It was he who . . .

            . . . Yet the conditions under which he began life are almost more dramatic than his mathematical accomplishments. Born into the hopeless poverty of the lower classes of Dahl, a sector of ancient Tractor, he might have passed his life in utter obscurity were it not for the fact that Seldon, quite by accident, encountered him in the course of . . .





            The Emperor of all the Galaxy felt weary-physically weary. His lips ached from the gracious smile he had had to place on his face at careful intervals. His neck was stiff from having inclined his head this way and that in a feigned show of interest. His ears pained from having to listen. His whole body throbbed from having to rise and to sit and to turn and to hold out his hand and to nod.

            It was merely a state function where one had to meet Mayors and Viceroys and Ministers and their wives or husbands from here and there in Trantor and (worse) from here and there in the Galaxy. There were nearly a thousand present, all in costumes that varied from the ornate to the downright outlandish, and he had had to listen to a babble of different accents made the worse by an effort to speak the Emperor’s Galactic as spoken at the Galactic University. Worst of all, the Emperor had had to remember to avoid making commitments of substance, while freely applying the lotion of words without substance.

            All had been recorded, sight and sound-very discreetly--and Eto Demerzel would go over it to see if Cleon, First of that Name, had behaved himself. That, of course, was only the way that the Emperor put it to himself. Demerzel would surely say that he was merely collecting data on any unintentional self-revelation on the pan of the guests. And perhaps he was.

            Fortunate Demerzel!

            The Emperor could not leave the Palace and its extensive grounds, while Demerzel could range the Galaxy if he wished. The Emperor was always on display, always accessible, always forced to deal with visitors, from the important to the merely intrusive. Demerzel remained anonymous and never allowed himself to be seen inside the Palace grounds. He remained merely a fearsome name and an invisible (and therefore the more frightening) presence.

            The Emperor was the Inside Man with all the trappings and emoluments of power. Demerzel was the Outside Man, with nothing evident, not even a formal title, but with his fingers and mind probing everywhere and asking for no reward for his tireless labors but one-the reality of power.

            It amused the Emperor-in a macabre sort of way-to consider that, at any moment, without warning, with a manufactured excuse or with none at all, he could have Demerzel arrested, imprisoned, exiled, tortured, or executed. After all, in these annoying centuries of constant unrest, the Emperor might have difficulty in exerting his will over the various planets of the Empire, even over the various sectors of Trantor-with their rabble of local executives and legislatures that he was forced to deal with in a maze of interlocking decrees, protocols, commitments, treaties, and general interstellar legalities--but at least his powers remained absolute over the Palace and its grounds.

            And yet Cleon knew that his dreams of power were useless. Demerzel had served his father and Cleon could not remember a time when he did not turn to Demerzel for everything. It was Demerzel who knew it all, devised it all, did it all. More than that, it was on Demerzel that anything that went wrong could be blamed. The Emperor himself remained above criticism and had nothing to fear except, of course, palace coups and assassination by his nearest and dearest. It was to prevent this, above all, that he depended upon Demerzel.

            Emperor Cleon felt a tiny shudder at the thought of trying to do without Demerzel. There had been Emperors who had ruled personally, who had had a series of Chiefs of Staff of no talent, who had had incompetents serving in the post and had kept them--and somehow they had gotten along for a time and after a fashion.

            But Cleon could not. He needed Demerzel. In fact, now that the thought of assassination had come to him-and, in view of the modern history of the Empire, it was inevitable that it had come to him-he could see that getting rid of Demerzel was quite impossible. It couldn’t be done. No matter how cleverly he, Cleon, would attempt to arrange it, Demerzel (he was sure) would anticipate the move somehow, would know it was on its way, and would arrange, with far superior cleverness, a palace coup. Cleon would be dead before Demerzel could possibly be taken away in chains and there would simply be another Emperor that Demerzel would serve and dominate.

            Or would Demerzel tire of the game and make himself Emperor?

            Never! The habit of anonymity was too strong in him. If Demerzel exposed himself to the world, then his powers, his wisdom, his luck (whatever it was) would surely desert him. Cleon was convinced of that. He felt it to be beyond dispute.

            So while he behaved himself, Cleon was safe. With no ambitions of his own, Demerzel would serve him faithfully.

            And now here was Demerzel, dressed so severely and simply that it made Cleon uneasily conscious of the useless ornamentation of his robes of state, now thankfully removed with the aid of two valets. Naturally, it would not be until he was alone and in dishabille that Demerzel would glide into view.

            “Demerzel, “ said the Emperor of all the Galaxy, “I am tired!”

            “State functions are tiring, Sire, “ murmured Demerzel.

            “Then must I have them every evening?”

            “Not every evening, but they are essential. It gratifies others to see you and to be taken note of by you. It helps keep the Empire running smoothly.”

            “The Empire used to be kept running smoothly by power, “ said the Emperor somberly. “Now it must be kept running by a smile, a wave of the hand, a murmured word, and a medal or a plaque.”

            “If all that keeps the peace, Sire, there is much to be said for it. And your reign proceeds well.”

            “You know why-because I have you at my side. My only real gift is that I am aware of your importance.” He looked at Demerzel slyly. “My son need not be my heir. He is not a talented boy. What if I make you my heir?”

            Demerzel said freezingly, “Sire, that is unthinkable. I would not usurp the throne. I would not steal it from your rightful heir. Besides, if I have displeased you, punish me justly. Surely, nothing I have done or could possibly do deserves the punishment of being made Emperor.”

            Cleon laughed. “For that true assessment of the value of the Imperial throne, Demerzel, I abandon any thought of punishing you. Come now, let us talk about something. I would sleep, but I am not yet ready for the ceremonies with which they put me to bed. Let us talk.”

            “About what, Sire?”

            “About anything. -About that mathematician and his psychohistory. I think about him every once in a while, you know. I thought of him at dinner tonight. I wondered: What if a psychohistorical analysis would predict a method for making it possible to be an Emperor without endless ceremony?”

            “I somehow think, Sire, that even the cleverest psychohistorian could not manage that.”

            “Well, tell me the latest. Is he still hiding among those peculiar baldheads of Mycogen? You promised you would winkle him out of there.”

            “So I did, Sire, and I moved in that direction, but I regret that I must say that I failed.”

            “Failed?” The Emperor allowed himself to frown. “I don’t like that. “

            “Nor I, Sire. I planned to have the mathematician be encouraged to commit some blasphemous act-such acts are easy to commit in Mycogen, especially for an outsider-one that would call for severe punishment. The mathematician would then be forced to appeal to the Emperor and, as a result, we would get him. I planned it at the cost of insignificant concessions on our part-important to Mycogen, totally unimportant to us---and I meant to play no direct role in the arrangement. It was to be handled subtly.”

            “I dare say, “ said Cleon, “but it failed. Did the Mayor of Mycogen

            “He is called the High Elder, Sire.”

            “Do not quibble over titles. Did this High Elder refuse?”

            “On the contrary, Sire, he agreed and the mathematician, Seldon, fell into the trap neatly.”

            “Well then?”

            “He was allowed to leave unharmed.”

            “Why?” said Cleon indignantly.

            “Of this I am not certain, Sire, but I suspect we were outbid.”

            “By whom? By the Mayor of Wye?”

            “Possibly, Sire, but I doubt that. I have Wye under constant surveillance. If they had gained the mathematician, I would know it by now.”

            The Emperor was not merely frowning. He was clearly enraged. “Demerzel, this is bad. I am greatly displeased. A failure like this makes me wonder if you are perhaps not the man you once were. What measures shall we take against Mycogen for this clear defiance of the Emperor’s wishes?”

            Demerzel bowed low in recognition of the storm unleashed, but he said in steely tones, “It would be a mistake to move against Mycogen now, Sire. The disruption that would follow would play into the hands of Wye.”

            “But we must do something. “

            “Perhaps not, Sire. It is not as bad as it may seem.”

            “How can it be not as bad as it seems?”

            “You’ll remember, Sire, that this mathematician was convinced that psychohistory was impractical.”

            “Of course I remember that, but that doesn’t matter, does it? For our purposes?”

            “Perhaps not. But if it were to become practical, it would serve our purposes to an infinitely great extent, Sire. And from what I have been able to find out, the mathematician is now attempting to make psychohistory practical. His blasphemous attempt in Mycogen was, I understand, part of an attempt at solving the problem of psychohistory. In that case, it may pay us, Sire, to leave him to himself. It will serve us better to pick him up when he is closer to his goal or has reached it.”

            “Not if Wye gets him first.”

            “That, I shall see to it, will not happen.”

            “In the same way that you succeeded in winkling the mathematician out of Mycogen just now?”

            “I will not make a mistake the next time, Sire, “ said Demerzel coldly.

            The Emperor said, “Demerzel, you had better not. I will not tolerate another mistake in this respect.” And then he added pettishly, “I think I shall not sleep tonight after all.”




            Jirad Tisalver of the Dahl Sector was short. The top of his head came up only to Hari Seldon’s nose. He did not seem to take that to heart, however. He had handsome, even features, was given to smiling, and sported a thick black mustache and crisply curling black hair.

            He lived, with his wife and a half-grown daughter, in an apartment of seven small rooms, kept meticulously clean, but almost bare of furnishings.

            Tisalver said, “I apologize, Master Seldon and Mistress Venabili, that I cannot give you the luxury to which you must be accustomed, but Dahl is a poor sector and I am not even among the better-off among our people.”

            “The more reason, “ responded Seldon, “that we must apologize to you for placing the burden of our presence upon you.”

            “No burden, Master Seldon. Master Hummin has arranged to pay us generously for your use of our humble quarters and the credits would be welcome even if you were not--and you are. “

            Seldon remembered Hummin’s parting words when they finally arrived in Dahl.

            “Seldom” he had said, “this is the third place I’ve arranged as sanctuary. The first two were notoriously beyond the reach of the Imperium, which might well have served to attract their attention; after all, they were logical places for you. This one is different. It is poor, unremarkable, and, as a matter of fact, unsafe in some ways. It is not a natural refuge for you, so that the Emperor and his Chief of Staff may not think to turn their eyes in this direction. Would you mind staying out of trouble this time, then?”

            “I will try, Hummin, “ said Seldon, a little offended. “Please be aware that the trouble is not of my seeking. I am trying to learn what may well take me thirty lifetimes to learn if I am to have the slightest chance of organizing psychohistory.”

            “I understand, “ said Hummin. “Your efforts at learning brought you to Upperside in Streeling and to the Elders’ aerie in Mycogen and to who can guess where in Dahl. As for you, Dr. Venabili, I know you’ve been trying to take care of Seldon, but you must try harder. Get it fixed in your head that he is the most important person on Trantor--or in the Galaxy, for that matter--and that he must be kept secure at any cost.”

            “I will continue to do my best, “ said Dors stiffly.

            “And as for your host family, they have their peculiarities, but they are essentially good people with whom I have dealt before. Try not to get them in trouble either.”

            But Tisalver, at least, did not seem to anticipate trouble of any kind from his new tenants and his expressed pleasure at the company he now had-quite apart from the rent credits he would be getting-seemed quite sincere.

            He had never been outside Dahl and his appetite for tales of distant places was enormous. His wife too, bowing and smiling, would listen and their daughter, with a finger in her mouth, would allow one eye to peep from behind the door.

            It was usually after dinner, when the entire family assembled, that Seldon and Dors were expected to talk of the outside world. The food was plentiful enough, but it was bland and often tough. So soon after the tangy food of Mycogen, it was all but inedible.

            The “table” was a long shelf against one wall and they ate standing up.

            Gentle questioning by Seldon elicited the fact that this was the usual situation among Dahlites as a whole and was not due to unusual poverty. Of course, Mistress Tisalver explained, there were those with high government jobs in Dahl who were prone to adopt all kinds of effete customs like chairs-she called them “body shelves”--but this was looked down upon by the solid middle class.

            Much as they disapproved of unnecessary luxury, though, the Tisalvers loved hearing about it, listening with a virtual storm of tongueclicking when told of mattresses lifted on legs, of ornate chests and wardrobes, and of a superfluity of tableware.

            They listened also to a description of Mycogenian customs, while Jirad Tisalver stroked his own hair complacently and made it quite obvious that he would as soon think of emasculation as of depilation. Mistress Tisalver was furious at any mention of female subservience and flatly refused to believe that the Sisters accepted it tranquilly.

            They seized most, however, on Seldon’s. casual reference to the Imperial grounds. When, upon questioning, it turned out that Seldon had actually seen and spoken to the Emperor, a blanket of awe enveloped the family. It took a while before they dared ask questions and Seldon found that he could not satisfy them. He had not, after all, seen much of the grounds and even less of the Palace interior.

            That disappointed the Tisalvers and they were unremitting in their attempts to elicit more. And, having heard of Seldon’s Imperial adventure, they found it hard to believe Dors’s assertion that, for her part, she had never been anywhere in the Imperial grounds. Most of all, they rejected Seldon’s casual comment that the Emperor had talked and behaved very much as any ordinary human being would. That seemed utterly impossible to the Tisalvers.

            After three evenings of this, Seldon found himself tiring. He had, at first, welcomed the chance to do nothing for a while (during the day, at least) but view some of the history book-films that Dors recommended. The Tisalvers turned over their book-viewer to their guests during the day with good grace, though the little girl seemed unhappy and was sent over to a neighbor’s apartment to use theirs for her homework.

            “It doesn’t help, “ Seldon said restlessly in the security of his room after he had piped in some music to discourage eavesdropping. “I can see your fascination with history, but it’s all endless detail. It’s a mountainous heap-no, a Galactic heap-of data in which I can’t see the basic organization.”

            “I dare say, “ said Dors, “that there must have been a time when human beings saw no organization in the stars in the sky, but eventually they discovered the Galactic structure.”

            “And I’m sure that took generations, not weeks. There must have been a time when physics seemed a mass of unrelated observations before the central natural laws were discovered and that took generations. --and what of the Tisalvers?”

            “What of them? I think they’re being very nice.”

            “They’re curious.”

            “Of course they are. Wouldn’t you be if you were in their place?”

            “But is it just curiosity? They seem to be ferociously interested in my meeting with the Emperor.”

            Dors seemed impatient. “Again . . . its only natural. Wouldn’t you befit the situation was reversed?”

            “It makes me nervous.”

            “Hummin brought us here.”

            “Yes, but he’s not perfect. He brought me to the University and I was maneuvered Upperside. He brought us to Sunmaster Fourteen, who entrapped us. You know he did. Twice bitten, at least once shy. I’m tired of being questioned.”

            “Then turn the tables, Hari. Aren’t you interested in Dahl?”

            “Of course. What do you know about it to begin with?”

            “Nothing. It’s just one of more than eight hundred sectors and I’ve only been on Trantor a little over two years.”

            “Exactly. And there are twenty-five million other worlds and I’ve been on this problem only a little over two months. -I tell you. I want to go back to Helicon and take up a study of the mathematics of turbulence, which was my Ph.D. problem, and forget I ever saw --or thought I saw that turbulence gave an insight into human society.”

            But that evening he said to Tisalver, “But you know, Master Tisalver, you’ve never told me what you do, the nature of your work.”

            “Me?” Tisalver placed his fingers on his chest, which was covered by the simple white T-shirt with nothing underneath, which seemed to be the standard male uniform in Dahl. “Nothing much. I work at the local holovision station in programming. It’s very dull, but it’s a living.”

            “And it’s respectable, “ said Mistress Tisalver. “It means he doesn’t have to work in the heatsinks.”

            “The heatsinks?” said Dors, lifting her light eyebrows and managing to look fascinated.

            “Oh well, “ said Tisalver, “that’s what Dahl is best known for. It isn’t much, but forty billion people on Trantor need energy and we supply a lot of it. We don’t get appreciated, but I’d like to see some of the fancy sectors do without it.”

            Seldon looked confused. “Doesn’t Trantor get its energy from solar power stations in orbit?”

            “Some, “ said Tisalver, “and some from nuclear fusion stations out on the islands and some from microfusion motors and some from wind stations Upperside, but half” -- he raised a finger in emphasis and his face looked unusually grave “half comes from the heatsinks. There are heatsinks in lots of places, but none-none- as rich as those in Dahl. Are you serious that you don’t know about the heatsinks? You sit there and stare at me.”

            Dors said quickly, “We are Outworlders, you know.” (She had almost said ‘tribespeople, ‘ but had caught herself in time.) “Especially Dr. Seldon. He’s only been on Trantor a couple of months.”

            “Really?” said Mistress Tisalver. She was a trifle shorter than her husband, was plump without quite being fat, had her dark hair drawn tightly back into a bun, and possessed rather beautiful dark eyes. Like her husband, she appeared to be in her thirties.

            (After a period in Mycogen, not actually long in duration but intense, it struck Dors as odd to have a woman enter the conversation at will. How quickly modes and manners establish themselves, she thought, and made a mental note to mention that to Seldon -- one more item for his psychohistory.)

            “Oh yes, “ she said. “Dr. Seldon is from Helicon.”

            Mistress Tisalver registered polite ignorance. “And where might that be?”

            Dors said, “Why, it’s--” She turned to Seldon. “Where is it, Hari?”

            Seldon looked abashed. “To tell you the truth, I don’t think I could locate it very easily on a Galactic model without looking up the coordinates. All I can say is that it’s on the other side of the central black hole from Trantor and getting there by hypership is rather a chore.”

            Mistress Tisalver said, “I don’t think Jirad and I will ever be on a hypership.”

            “Someday, Casilia, “ said Tisalver cheerfully, “maybe we will. But tell us about Helicon, Master Seldon.”

            Seldon shook his head. “To me that would be dull. Its just a world, like any other. Only Trantor is different from all the rest. There are no heatsinks on Helicon--or probably anywhere else except Trantor. Tell me about them.”

            (“Only Trantor is different from all the rest.” The sentence repeated itself in Seldon’s mind and for a moment he grasped at it, and for some reason Dor’s hand-on-thigh story suddenly recurred to him, but Tisalver was speaking and it passed out of Seldon’s mind as quickly as it had entered.)

            Tisalver said, “If you really want to know about heatsinks, I can show you.” He turned to his wife. “Casilia, would you mind if tomorrow evening I take Master Seldon to the heatsinks.”

            “And me, “ said Dors quickly.

            “And Mistress Venabili?”

            Mistress Tisalver frowned and said sharply, “I don’t think it would be a good idea. Our visitors would find it dull.”

            “I don’t think so, Mistress Tisalver, “ said Seldon ingratiatingly. “We would very much like to see the heatsinks. We would be delighted if you would join us too . . . and your little daughter-if she wants to come.”

            “To the heatsinks?” said Mistress Tisalver, stiffening. “It’s no place at all for a decent woman.”

            Seldon felt embarrassed at his gaffe. “I meant no harm, Mistress Tisalver.”

            “No offense, “ said Tisalver. “Casilia thinks it’s beneath us and so it is, but as long as I don’t work there, it’s no distress merely to visit and show it to guests. But it is uncomfortable and I would never get Casilia to dress properly.”

            They got up from their crouching positions. Dahlite “chairs” were merely molded plastic seats on small wheels and they cramped Seldon’s knees terribly and seemed to wiggle at his least body movement. The Tisalvers, however, had mastered the art of sitting firmly and rose without trouble and without needing to use their arms for help as Seldon had to. Dors also got up without trouble and Seldon once again marveled at her natural grace.

            Before they parted to their separate rooms for the night, Seldon said to Dors, “Are you sure you know nothing about heatsinks? Mistress Tisalver makes them seem unpleasant.”

            “They can’t be that unpleasant or Tisalver wouldn’t suggest taking us on tour. Lets be content to be surprised.”




            Tisalver said, “You’ll need proper clothing.” Mistress Tisalver sniffed markedly in the background.

            Cautiously, Seldon, thinking of kirtles with vague distress, said, “What do you mean by proper clothing?”

            “Something light, such as I wear. A T-shirt, very short sleeves, loose slacks, loose underpants, foot socks, open sandals. I have it all for you.”

            “Good. IL doesn’t sound bad.”

            “As for Mistress Venabili, I have the same. I hope it fits.”

            The clothes Tisalver supplied each of them (which were his own) fit fine-if a bit snugly. When they were ready, they bade Mistress Tisalver good-bye and she, with a resigned if still disapproving air, watched them from the doorway as they set off.

            It was early evening and there was an attractive twilight glow above. It was clear that Dahl’s lights would soon be winking on. The temperature was mild and there were virtually no vehicles to be seen; everyone was walking. In the distance was the everpresent hum of an Expressway and the occasional glitter of its lights could be easily seen.

            The Dahlites, Seldon noted, did not seem to be walking toward any particular destination. Rather, there seemed to be a promenade going on, a walking for pleasure. Perhaps, if Dahl was an impoverished sector, as Tisalver had implied, inexpensive entertainment was at a premium and what was as pleasant--and as inexpensive--as an evening stroll?

            Seldon felt himself easing automatically into the gait of an aimless stroll himself and felt the warmth of friendliness a0 around him. People greeted each other as they passed and exchanged a few words. Black mustaches of different shape and thickness flashed everywhere and seemed a requisite for the Dahlite male, as ubiquitous as the bald heads of the Mycogenian Brothers.

            It was an evening rite, a way of making sure that another day had passed safely and that one’s friends were still well and happy. And, it soon became apparent, Dors caught every eye. In the twilight glow, the ruddiness of her hair had deepened, but it stood out against the sea of black-haired heads (except for the occasional gray) like a gold coin winking its way across a pile of coal.

            “This is very pleasant, “ said Seldon.

            “It is, “ said Tisalver. “Ordinarily, I’d be walking with my wife and she’d be in her element. There is no one for a kilometer around whom she doesn’t know by name, occupation, and interrelationships. I can’t do that. Right now, half the people who greet me . . . I couldn’t tell you their names. But, in any case, we mustn’t creep along too slowly. We must get to the elevator. It’s a busy world on the lower levels.”

            They were on the elevator going down when Dors said, “I presume, Master Tisalver, that the heatsinks are places where the internal heat of Trantor is being used to produce steam that will turn turbines and produce electricity.”

            “Oh no. Highly efficient large-scale thermopiles produce electricity directly. Don’t ask me the details, please. I’m just a holovision programmer. In fact, don’t ask anyone the details down there. The whole thing is one big black box. It works, but no one knows how.”

            “What if something goes wrong?”

            “It doesn’t usually, but if it does, some expert comes over from somewhere. Someone who understands computers. The whole thing is highly computerized, of course.”

            The elevator came to a halt and they stepped out. A blast of heat struck them.

            “It’s hot, “ said Seldon quite unnecessarily.

            “Yes, it is, “ said Tisalver. “That’s what makes Dahl so valuable as an energy source. The magma layer is nearer the surface here than it is anywhere else in the world. So you have to work in the heat.”

            “How about air-conditioning?” said Dors.

            “There is air-conditioning, but it’s a matter of expense. We ventilate and dehumidify and cool, but if we go too far, then we’re using up too much energy and the whole process becomes too expensive.”

            Tisalver stopped at a door at which he signaled. It opened to a blast of cooler air and he muttered, “We ought to be able to get someone to help show us around and he’ll control the remarks that Mistress Venabili will otherwise be the victim of . . . at least from the men.”

            “Remarks won’t embarrass me, “ said Dors.

            “They will embarrass me, “ said Tisalver.

            A young man walked out of the office and introduced himself as Hano Linder. He resembled Tisalver quite closely, but Seldon decided that until he got used to the almost universal shortness, swarthiness, black hair, and luxuriant mustaches, he would not be able to see individual differences easily.

            Lindor said, “I’ll be glad to show you around for what there is to see. It’s not one of your spectaculars, you know.” He addressed them all, but his eyes were fixed on Dors. He said, “It’s not going to be comfortable. I suggest we remove our shirts.”

            “It’s nice and cool in here, “ said Seldon.

            “Of course, but that’s because we’re executives. Rank has its privileges. Out there we can’t maintain air-conditioning at this level. That’s why they get paid more than I do. In fact, those are the best-paying jobs in Dahl, which is the only reason we get people to work down here. Even so, it’s getting harder to get heatsinkers all the time.” He took a deep breath. “Okay, out into the soup.”

            He removed his own shirt and tucked it into his waistband. Tisalver did the same and Seldon followed suit.

            Linder glanced at Dors and said, “For your own comfort, Mistress, but it’s not compulsory.”

            “That’s all right, “ said Dors and removed her shirt.

            Her brassiere was white, unpadded, and showed considerable cleavage.

            “Mistress, “ said Lindor, “That’s not--” He thought a moment, then shrugged and said, “All right. We’ll get by.”

            At first, Seldon was aware only of computers and machinery, huge pipes, flickering lights, and flashing screens.

            The overall light was comparatively dim, though individual sections of machinery were illuminated. Seldon looked up into the almost-darkness. He said, “Why isn’t it better lit?”

            “It’s lit well enough . . . where it should be, “ said Lindor. His voice was well modulated and he spoke quickly, but a little harshly. “Overall illumination is kept low for psychological reasons. Too bright is translated, in the mind, into heat. Complaints go up when we turn up the lights, even when the temperature is made to go down.”

            Dors said, “It seems to be well computerized. I should think the operations could be turned over to computers altogether. This sort of environment is made for artificial intelligence.”

            “Perfectly right, “ said Lindor, “but neither can we take a chance on any failures. We need people on the spot if anything goes wrong. A misfunctioning computer can raise problems up to two thousand kilometers away.”

            “So can human error. Isn’t that so?” said Seldon.

            “Oh yes, but with both people and computers on the job, computer error can be more quickly tracked down and corrected by people and, conversely, human error can be more quickly corrected by computers. What it amounts to is that nothing serious can happen unless human error and computer error take place simultaneously. And that hardly ever happens.”

            “Hardly ever, but not never, eh?” said Seldon.

            “Almost never, but not never. Computers aren’t what they used to be and neither are people.”

            “That’s the way it always seems, “ said Seldon, laughing slightly.

            “No no. I’m not talking memory. I’m not talking good old days. I’m talking statistics.”

            At this, Seldon recalled Hummin talking of the degeneration of the times.

            “See what I mean?” said Lindor, his voice dropping. “There’s a bunch of people, at the C-3 level from the looks of them, drinking. Not one of them is at his or her post.”

            “What are they drinking?” asked Dors.

            “Special fluids for replacing electrolyte loss. Fruit juice.”

            “You can’t blame them, can you?” said Dors indignantly. “In this dry heat, you would have to drink.”

            “Do you know how long a skilled C-3 can spin out a drink? And there’s nothing to be done about it either. If we give them fiveminute breaks for drinks and stagger them so they don’t all congregate in a group, you simply stir up a rebellion.”

            They were approaching the group now. There were men and women (Dahl seemed to be a more or less amphisexual society) and both sexes were shirtless. The women wore devices that might be called brassieres, but they were strictly functional. They served to lift the breasts in order to improve ventilation and limit perspiration, but covered nothing.

            Dors said in an aside to Seldon, “That makes sense, Hari. I’m soaking wet there.”

            “Take off your brassiere, then, “ said Seldon. “I won’t lift a finger to stop you.”

            “Somehow, “ said Dors, “I guessed you wouldn’t.” She left her brassiere where it was.

            They were approaching the congregation of people-about a dozen of them.

            Dors said, “If any of them make rude remarks, I shall survive.”

            “Thank you, “ said Lindor. “I cannot promise they won’t. --but I’ll have to introduce you. If they get the idea that you two are inspectors and in my company, they’ll become unruly. Inspectors are supposed to poke around on their own without anyone from management overseeing them.”

            He held up his arms. “Heatsinkers, I have two introductions to make. We have visitors from outside-two Outworlders, two scholars. They’ve got worlds running short on energy and they’ve come here to see how we do it here in Dahl. They think they may learn something.”

            “They’ll learn how to sweat!” shouted a heatsinker and there was raucous laughter.

            “She’s got a sweaty chest right now, “ shouted a woman, “covering up like that.”

            Dors shouted back, “I’d take it off, but mine can’t compete with yours.” The laughter turned good-natured.

            But one young man stepped forward, staring at Seldon with intense deep-set eyes, his face set into a humorless mask. He said, “I know you. You’re the mathematician.”

            He ran forward, inspecting Seldon’s face with eager solemnity. Automatically, Dors stepped in front of Seldon and Lindor stepped in front of her, shouting, “Back, heatsinker. Mind your manners.”

            Seldon said, “Wait! Let him talk to me. Why is everyone piling in front of me?”

            Lindor said in a low voice, “If any of them get close, you’ll find they don’t smell like hothouse flowers.”

            “I’ll endure it, “ said Seldon brusquely. “Young man, what is it you want?”

            “My name is Amaryl. Yugo Amaryl. I’ve seen you on holovision.”

            “You might have, but what about it?”

            “I don’t remember your name.”

            “You don’t have to.”

            “You talked about something called psychohistory.”

            “You don’t know how I wish I hadn’t.”


            “Nothing. What is it you want?”

            “I want to talk to you. Just for a little while. Now.”

            Seldon looked at Lindor, who shook his head firmly. “Not while he’s on his shift.”

            “When does your shift begin, Mr. Amaryl?” asked Seldon.

            “Sixteen hundred.”

            “Can you see me tomorrow at fourteen hundred?”

            “Sure. Where?”

            Seldon turned to Tisalver. Would you permit me to see him in your place?”

            Tisalver looked very unhappy. “Its not necessary. He’s just a heatsinker.”

            Seldon said, “He recognized my face. He knows something about me. He can’t be just an anything. I’ll see him in my room.” And then, as Tisalver’s face didn’t soften, he added, “My room, for which rent is being paid. And you’ll be at work, out of the apartment.”

            Tisalver said in a low voice, “It’s not me, Master Seldon. It’s my wife, Casilia. She won’t stand for it.”

            “I’ll talk to her, “ said Seldon grimly. “She’ll have to.”




            Casilia Tisalver opened her eyes wide. “A heatsinker? Not in my apartment.”

            “Why not? Besides, he’ll be coming to my room, “ said Seldon. “At fourteen hundred.”

            “I won’t have it, “ said Mistress Tisalver. “This is what comes of going down to the heatsinks. Jirad was a fool.”

            “Not at all, Mistress Tisalver. We went at my request and I was fascinated. I must see this young man, since that is necessary to my scholarly work.”

            “I’m sorry if it is, but I won’t have it.”

            Dors Venabili raised her hand. “Hari, let me take care of this. Mistress Tisalver, if Dr. Seldon must see someone in his room this afternoon, the additional person naturally means additional rent. We understand that. For today, then, the rent on Dr. Seldon’s room will be doubled.”

            Mistress Tisalver thought about it. “Well, that’s decent of you, but it’s not only the credits. There’s the neighbours to think of. A sweaty, smelly heatsinker--”

            “I doubt that he’ll be sweaty and smelly at fourteen hundred, Mistress Tisalver, but let me go on. Since Dr. Seldon must see him, then if he can’t see him here, he’ll have to see him elsewhere, but we can’t run here and there. That would be too inconvenient. Therefore, what we will have to do is to get a room elsewhere. It won’t be easy and we don’t want to do it, but we will have to. So we will pay the rent through today and leave and of course we will have to explain to Master Hummin why we have had to change the arrangements that he so kindly made for us.”

            “Wait.” Mistress Tisalver’s face became a study of calculation. “We wouldn’t like to disoblige Master Hummin . . . or you two. How long would this creature have to stay?”

            “He’s coming at fourteen hundred. He must be at work at sixteen hundred. He will be here for less than two hours, perhaps considerably less. We will meet him outside, the two of us, and bring him to Dr. Seldon’s room. Any neighbours who see us will think he is an Outworlder friend of ours.”

            Mistress Tisalver nodded her head. “Then let it be as you say. Double rent for Master Seldon’s room for today and the heatsinker will visit just this one time.”

            “Just this one time, “ said Dors.

            But later, when Seldon and Dors were sitting in her room, Dors said, “Why do you have to see him, Hari? Is interviewing a heatsinker important to psychohistory too?”

            Seldon thought he detected a small edge of sarcasm in her voice and he said tartly, “I don’t have to base everything on this huge project of mine, in which I have very little faith anyway. I am also a human being with human curiosities. We were down in the heatsinks for hours and you saw what the working people there were like. They were obviously uneducated. They were low-level individuals-no play on words intended and yet here was one who recognized me. He must have seen me on holovision on the occasion of the Decennial Convention and he remembered the word ‘psychohistory.’ He strikes me as unusual--as out of place somehow --and I would like to talk to him.”

            “Because it pleases your vanity to have become known even to heatsinkers in Dahl?”

            “Well . . . perhaps. But it also piques my curiosity.”

            “And how do you know he hasn’t been briefed and intends to lead you into trouble as has happened before.”

            Seldon winced. “I won’t let him run his fingers through my hair. In any case, we’re more nearly prepared now, aren’t we? And I’m sure you’ll be with me. I mean, you let me go Upperside alone, you let me go with Raindrop Forty-Three to the microfarms alone, and you’re not going to do that again, are you?”

            “You can be absolutely sure I won’t, “ said Dors.

            “Well then, I’ll talk to the young man and you can watch out for traps. I have every faith in you.”




            Amaryl arrived a few minutes before 1400, looking warily about. His hair was neat and his thick mustache was combed and turned up slightly at the edges. His T-shirt was startlingly white. He did smell, but it was a fruity odor that undoubtedly came from the slightly overenthusiastic use of scent. He had a bag with him.

            Seldon, who had been waiting outside for him, seized one elbow lightly, while Dors seized the other, and they moved rapidly into the elevator. Having reached the correct level, they passed through the apartment into Seldon’s room.

            Amaryl said in a low hangdog voice, “Nobody home, huh?”

            “Everyone’s busy, “ said Seldon neutrally. He indicated the only chair in the room, a pad directly on the floor.

            “No, “ said Amaryl. “I don’t need that. One of you two use it.” He squatted on the floor with a graceful downward motion.

            Dors imitated the movement, sitting on the edge of Seldon’s floorbased mattress, but Seldon dropped down rather clumsily, having to make use of his hands and unable, quite, to find a comfortable position for his legs.

            Seldon said, “Well, young man, why do you want to see me?”

            “Because you’re a mathematician. You’re the first mathematician I ever saw-close up-so I could touch him, you know.”

            “Mathematicians feel like anyone else.”

            “Not to me, Dr . . . . Dr. . . . Seldon?”

            “That’s my name.”

            Amaryl looked pleased. “I finally remembered. -You see, I want to be a mathematician too.”

            “Very good. What’s stopping you?”

            Amaryl suddenly frowned. “Are you serious?”

            “I presume something is stopping you. Yes, I’m serious.”

            “What’s stopping me is I’m a Dahlite, a heatsinker on Dahl. I don’t have the money to get an education and I can’t get the credits to get an education. A real education, I mean. All they taught me was to read and cipher and use a computer and then I knew enough to be a heatsinker. But I wanted more. So I taught myself.”

            “In some ways, that’s the best kind of teaching. How did you do that?”

            “I knew a librarian. She was willing to help me. She was a very nice woman and she showed me how to use computers for learning mathematics. And she set up a software system that would connect me with other libraries. I’d come on my days off and on mornings after my shift. Sometimes she’d lock me in her private room so I wouldn’t be bothered by people coming in or she would let me in when the library was closed. She didn’t know mathematics herself, but she helped me all she could. She was oldish, a widow lady. Maybe she thought of me as a kind of son or something. She didn’t have children of her own.”

            (Maybe, thought Seldon briefly, there was some other emotion involved too, but he put the thought away. None of his business.)

            “I liked number theory, “ said Amaryl. “I worked some things out from what I learned from the computer and from the bookfilms it used to teach me mathematics. I came up with some new things that weren’t in the book-films.”

            Seldon raised his eyebrows. “That’s interesting. Like what?”

            “I’ve brought some of them to you. I’ve never showed them to anyone. The people around me--” He shrugged. “They’d either laugh or be annoyed. Once I tried to tell a girl I knew, but she just said I was weird and wouldn’t see me anymore. Is it all right for me to show them to you?”

            “Quite all right. Believe me.”

            Seldon held out his hand and after a brief hesitation, Amaryl handed him the bag he was carrying.

            For a long time, Seldon looked over Amaryl’s papers. The work was naive in the extreme, but he allowed no smile to cross his face. He followed the demonstrations, not one of which was new, of course--or even nearly new--or of any importance.

            But that didn’t matter.

            Seldon looked up. “Did you do all of this yourself?”

            Amaryl, looking more than half-frightened, nodded his head.

            Seldon extracted several sheets. “What made you think of this?” His finger ran down a line of mathematical reasoning.

            Amaryl looked it over, frowned, and thought about it. Then he explained his line of thinking.

            Seldon listened and said, “Did you ever read a book by Anat Bigell?”

            “On number theory?”

            “The title was Mathematical Deduction. It wasn’t about number theory, particularly.”

            Amaryl shook his head. “I never heard of him. I’m sorry.”

            “He worked out this theorem of yours three hundred years ago.’

            Amaryl looked stricken. “I didn’t know that.”

            “I’m sure you didn’t. You did it more cleverly, though. It’s not rigorous, but--”

            “What do you mean, ‘rigorous’?”

            “It doesn’t matter.” Seldon put the papers back together in a sheaf, restored it to the bag, and said, “Make several copies of all this. Take one copy, have it dated by an official computer, and place it under computerized seal. My friend here, Mistress Venabili, can get you into Streeling University without tuition on some sort of scholarship. You’ll have to start at the beginning and take courses in other subjects than mathematics, but-

            By now Amaryl had caught his breath. “Into Streeling University? They won’t take me.”

            “Why not? Dors, you can arrange it, can’t you?”

            “I’m sure I can.”

            “No, you can’t, “ said Amaryl hotly. “They won’t take me. I’m from Dahl.”


            “They won’t take people from Dahl.”

            Seldon looked at Dors. “What’s he talking about?”

            Dors shook her head. “I really don’t know.”

            Amaryl said, “You’re an Outworlder, Mistress. How long have you been at Streeling?”

            “A little over two years, Mr. Amaryl.”

            “Have you ever seen Dahlites there-short, curly black hair, big mustaches?”

            “There are students with all kinds of appearances.”

            “But no Dahlites. Look again the next time you’re there.”

            “Why not?” said Seldon.

            “They don’t like us. We look different. They don’t like our mustaches.”

            “You can shave your--” but Seldon’s voice died under the other’s furious glance.

            “Never. Why should I? My mustache is my manhood.”

            “You shave your beard. That’s your manhood too.”

            “To my people it is the mustache.”

            Seldon looked at Dors again and murmured, “Bald heads, mustaches . . . madness.”

            “What?” said Amaryl angrily.

            “Nothing. Tell me what else they don’t like about Dahlites.”

            “They make up things not to like. They say we smell. They say we’re dirty. They say we steal. They say we’re violent. They say we’re dumb. “

            “Why do they say all this?”

            “Because its easy to say it and it makes them feel good. Sure, if we work in the heatsinks, we get dirty and smelly. If we’re poor and held down, some of us steal and get violent. But that isn’t the way it is with all of us. How about those tall yellow-hairs in the Imperial Sector who think they own the Galaxy-no, they do own the Galaxy. Don’t they ever get violent? Don’t they steal sometimes? If they did my job, they’d smell the way I do. If they had to live the way I have to, they’d get dirty too.”

            “Who denies that there are people of all kinds in all places?” said Seldon.

            “No one argues the matter! They just take it for granted. Master Seldon, I’ve got to get away from Trantor. I have no chance on Trantor, no way of earning credits, no way of getting an education, no way of becoming a mathematician, no way of becoming any thing but what they say I am . . . a worthless nothing.” This last was said in frustration--and desperation.

            Seldon tried to be reasonable. “The person I’m renting this room from is a Dahlite. He has a clean job. He’s educated.”

            “Oh sure, “ said Amaryl passionately. “There are some. They let a few do it so that they can say it can be done. And those few can live nicely as long as they stay in Dahl. Let them go outside and they’ll see how they’re treated. And while they’re in here they make themselves feel good by treating the rest of us like dirt. That makes them yellow-hairs in their own eyes. What did this nice person you’re renting this room from say when you told him you were bringing in a heatsinker? What did he say I would be like? They’re gone now . . . wouldn’t be in the same place with me.”

            Seldon moistened his lips. “I won’t forget you. I’ll see to it that you’ll get off Trantor and into my own University in Helicon once I’m back there myself.”

            “Do you promise that? Your word of honor? Even though I’m a Dahlite?”

            “The fact that you’re a Dahlite is unimportant to me. The fact that you are already a mathematician is! But I still can’t quite grasp what you’re telling me. I find it impossible to believe that there would be such unreasoning feeling against harmless people.”

            Amaryl said bitterly, “That’s because you’ve never had any occasion to interest yourself in such things. It ran all pass right under your nose and you wouldn’t smell a thing because it doesn’t affect you. “

            Dors said, “Mr. Amaryl, Dr. Seldon is a mathematician like you and his head can sometimes be in the clouds. You must understand that. I am a historian, however. I know that it isn’t unusual to have one group of people look down upon another group. There are peculiar and almost ritualistic hatreds that have no rational justification and that can have their serious historical influence. It’s too bad.”

            Amaryl said, “Saying something is ‘too bad’ is easy. You say you disapprove, which makes you a nice person, and then you can go about your own business and not be interested anymore. It’s a lot worse than ‘too bad.’ It’s against everything decent and natural. We’re all of us the same, yellow-hairs and black-hairs, tall and short, Easterners, Westerners, Southerners, and Outworlders. We’re all of us, you and I and even the Emperor, descended from the people of Earth, aren’t we?”

            “Descended from what” asked Seldon. He turned to look at Dors, his eyes wide.

            “From the people of Earth!” shouted Amaryl. “The one planet on which human beings originated.”

            “One planet? Just one planet?”

            “The only planet. Sure. Earth.”

            “When you say Earth, you mean Aurora, don’t you?”

            “Aurora? What’s that? -I mean Earth. Have you never heard of Earth?”

            “No, “ said Seldon. “Actually not.”

            “It’s a mythical world, “ began Dors, “that--”

            “It’s not mythical. It was a real planet.”

            Seldon sighed. “I’ve heard this all before. Well, let’s go through it again. Is there a Dahlite book that tells of Earth?”


            “Some computer software, then?”

            “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

            “Young man, where did you hear about Earth?”

            “My dad told me. Everyone knows about it.”

            “Is there anyone who knows about it especially? Did they teach you about it in school?”

            “They never said a word about it there.”

            “Then how do people know about it?”

            Amaryl shrugged his shoulders with an air of being uselessly badgered over nothing. “Everyone just does. If you want stories about it, there’s Mother Rittah. I haven’t heard that she’s died yet.”

            “Your mother? Wouldn’t you know--”

            “She’s not my mother. That’s just what they call her. Mother Rittah. She’s an old woman. She lives in Billibotton. Or used to.”

            “Where’s that?”

            “Down in that direction, “ said Amaryl, gesturing vaguely.

            “How do I get there?”

            “Get there? You don’t want to get there. You’d never come back.”

            “Why not?”

            “Believe me. You don’t want to go there.”

            “But I’d like to see Mother Rittah.”

            Amaryl shook his head. “Can you use a knife?”

            “For what purpose? What kind of knife?”

            “A cutting knife. Like this.” Amaryl reached down to the belt that held his pants tight about his waist. A section of it came away and from one end there flashed out a knife blade, thin, gleaming, and deadly.

            Dors’s hand immediately came down hard upon his right wrist.

            Amaryl laughed. “I wasn’t planning to use it. I was just showing it to you.” He put the knife back in his belt. “You need one in selfdefense and if you don’t have one or if you have one but don’t know how to use it, you’ll never get out of Billibotton alive. Anyway”-he suddenly grew very grave and intent--”are you really serious, Master Seldon, about helping me get to Helicon?”

            “Entirely serious. That’s a promise. Write down your name and where you can be reached by hypercomputer. You have a code, I suppose.”

            “My shift in the heatsinks has one. Will that do?”


            “Well then, “ said Amaryl, looking up earnestly at Seldon, “this means I have my whole future riding on you, Master Seldon, so please don’t go to Billibotton. I can’t afford to lose you now.” He turned beseeching eyes on Dors and said softly, “Mistress Venabili, if he’ll listen to you, don’t let him go. Please. “




        DAHL- . . . Oddly enough, the best-known aspect of this sector is Billibotton, a semi-legendary place about which innumerable tales have grown up. In fact, a whole branch of literature now exists in which heroes and adventurers (and victims) must dare the dangers of passing through Billibotton. So stylized have these stories become that the one well-known and, presumably, authentic tale involving such a passage, that of Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili, has come to seem fantastic simply by association . . .





            When Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili were alone, Dors asked thoughtfully, “Are you really planning to see this ‘Mother’ woman?”

            “I’m thinking about it, Dors.”

            “You’re an odd one, Hari. You seem to go steadily from bad to worse. You went Upperside, which seemed harmless enough, for a rational purpose when you were in Streeling. Then, in Mycogen, you broke into the Elders’ aerie, a much more dangerous task, for a much more foolish purpose. And now in Dahl, you want to go to this place, which that young man seems to think is simple suicide, for something altogether nonsensical.”

            “I’m curious about this reference to Earth--and must know if there’s anything to it.”

            Dors said, “It’s a legend and not even an interesting one. It is routine. The names differ from planet to planet, but the content is the same. There is always the tale of an original world and a golden age. There is a longing for a supposedly simple and virtuous past that is almost universal among the people of a complex and vicious society. In one way or another, this is true of all societies, since everyone imagines his or her own society to be too complex and vicious, however simple it may be. Mark that down for your psychohistory.”

            “Just the same, “ said Seldon, “I have to consider the possibility that one world did once exist. Aurora . . . Earth . . . the name doesn’t matter. In fact--”

            He paused and finally Dors said, “Well?”

            Seldon shook his head. “Do you remember the hand-on-thigh story you told me in Mycogen? It was right after I got the Book from Raindrop Forty-Three . . . Well, it popped into my head one evening recently when we were talking to the Tisalvers. I said something that reminded me, for an instant--”

            “Reminded you of what?”

            “I don’t remember. It came into my head and went out again, but somehow every time I think of the single-world notion, it seems to me I have the tips of my fingers on something and then lose it.”

            Dors looked at Seldon in surprise. “I don’t see what it could be. The hand-on-thigh story has nothing to do with Earth or Aurora.”

            “I know, but this . . . thing . . . that hovers just past the edge of my mind seems to be connected with this single world anyway and I have the feeling that I must find out more about it at any cost. That . . . and robots.”

            “Robots too? I thought the Elders’ aerie put an end to that.”

            “Not at all. I’ve been thinking about them.” He stared at Dors with a troubled look on his fare for a long moment, then said, “But I’m not sure.”

            “Sure about what, Hari?”

            But Seldon merely shook his head and said nothing more.

            Dors frowned, then said, “Hari, let me tell you one thing. In sober history-and, believe me, I know what I’m talking about there is no mention of one world of origin. It’s a popular belief, I admit. I don’t mean just among the unsophisticated followers of folklore, like the Mycogenians and the Dahlite heatsinkers, but there are biologists who insist that there must have been one world of origin for reasons that are well outside my area of expertise and there are the more mystical historians who tend to speculate about it. And among the leisure-class intellectuals, I understand such speculations are becoming fashionable. Still, scholarly history knows nothing about it.”

            Seldon said, “All the more reason, perhaps, to go beyond scholarly history. All I want is a device that will simplify psychohistory for me and I don’t care what the device is, whether it is a mathematical trick or a historical trick or something totally imaginary. If the young man we’ve just talked to had had a little more formal training, I’d have set him on the problem. His thinking is marked by considerable ingenuity and originality--”

            Dors said, “And you’re really going to help him, then?”

            “Absolutely. Just as soon as I’m in a position to.”

            “But ought you to make promises you’re not sure you’ll be able to keep?”

            “I want to keep it. If you’re that stiff about impossible promises, consider that Hummin told Sunmaster Fourteen that I’d use psychohistory to get the Mycogenians their world back. There’s just about zero chance of that Even if I work out psychohistory, who knows if it can be used for so narrow and specialized a purpose? There’s a real case of promising what one can’t deliver.”

            But Dors said with some heat, “Chetter Hummin was trying to save our lives, to keep us out of the hands of Demerzel and the Emperor. Don’t forget that. And I think he really would like to help the Mycogenians.”

            “And I really would like to help Yugo Amaryl and I am far more likely to be able to help him than I am the Mycogenians, so if you justify the second, please don’t criticize the first. What’s more, Dors”--and his eyes flashed angrily--”I really would like to find Mother Rittah and I’m prepared to go alone.”

            “Never!” snapped Dors. “If you go, I go.”




            Mistress Tisalver returned with her daughter in tow an hour after Amaryl had left on this way to his shift. She said nothing at all to either Seldon or Dors, but gave a curt nod of her head when they greeted her and gazed sharply about the room as though to verify that the heatsinker had left no trace. She then sniffed the air sharply and looked at Seldon accusingly before marching through the common room into the family bedroom.

            Tisalver himself arrived home later and when Seldon and Dors came to the dinner table, Tisalver took advantage of the fact that his wife was still ordering some last-minute details in connection with the dinner to say in a low voice, “Has that person been here?”

            “And gone, “ said Seldon solemnly. “Your wife was out at the time.”

            Tisalver nodded and said, “Will you have to do this again?”

            “I don’t think so, “ said Seldon.


            Dinner passed largely in silence, but afterward, when the daughter had gone to her room for the dubious pleasures of computer practice, Seldon leaned back and said, “Tell me about Billibotton.”

            Tisalver looked astonished and his mouth moved without any sound issuing. Casilia, however, was less easily rendered speechless.

            She said, “Is that where your new friend lives? Are you going to return the visit?”

            “So far, “ said Seldon quietly, “I have just asked about Billibotton.”

            Casilia said sharply, “It is a slum. The dregs live there. No one goes there, except the filth that make their homes there.”

            “I understand a Mother Rittah lives there.”

            “I never heard of her, “ said Casilia, her mouth closing with a snap. It was quite clear that she had no intention of knowing anyone by name who lived in Billibotton.

            Tisalver, casting an uneasy look at his wife, said, “I’ve heard of her. She’s a crazy old woman who is supposed to tell fortunes.”

            “And does she live in Billibotton?”

            “I don’t know, Master Seldon. I’ve never seen her. She’s mentioned sometimes in the news holocasts when she makes her predictions.”

            “Do they come true?”

            Tisalver snorted. “Do predictions ever come true? Hers don’t even make sense.”

            “Does she ever talk about Earth?”

            “I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

            “The mention of Earth doesn’t puzzle you. Do you know about Earth?”

            Now Tisalver looked surprised. “Certainly, Master Seldon. It’s the world all people came from . . . supposedly.”

            “Supposedly? Don’t you believe it?”

            “Me? I’m educated. But many ignorant people believe it.”

            “Are there book-films about Earth?”

            “Children’s stories sometimes mention Earth. I remember, when I was a young boy, my favorite story began, ‘Once, long ago, on Earth, when Earth was the only planet-’ Remember, Casilia? You liked it too.”

            Casilia shrugged, unwilling to bend as yet.

            “I’d like to see it sometime, “ said Seldon, “but I mean real bookfilms . . . uh . . . learned ones . . . or films . . . or printouts.”

            “I never heard of any, but the library--”

            “I’ll try that. -Are there any taboos about speaking of Earth?”

            “What are taboos?”

            “I mean, is it a strong custom that people mustn’t talk of Earth or that outsiders mustn’t ask about it?”

            Tisalver looked so honestly astonished that there seemed no point in waiting for an answer.

            Dors put in, “Is there some rule about outsiders not going to Billibotton?”

            Now Tisalver turned earnest. “No rule, but it’s not a good idea for anyone to go there. 7 wouldn’t.”

            Dors said, “Why not?”

            “It’s dangerous. Violent! Everyone is armed. -I mean, Dahl is an armed place anyway, but in Billibotton they use the weapons. Stay in this neighborhood. It’s safe.”

            “So far, “ said Casilia darkly. “It would be better if we left altogether. Heatsinkers go anywhere these days.” And there was another lowering look in Seldon’s direction.

            Seldon said, “What do you mean that Dahl is an armed place? There are strong Imperial regulations against weapons.”

            “I know that, “ said Tisalver, “and there are no stun guns here or percussives or Psychic Probes or anything like that. But there are knives.” He looked embarrassed.

            Dors said, “Do you carry a knife, Tisalver?”

            “Me?” He looked genuinely horrified. “I am a man of peace and this is a safe neighborhood.”

            “We have a couple of them in the house, “ said Casilia, sniffing again. “We’re not that certain this is a safe neighborhood.”

            “Does everyone carry knives?” asked Dors.

            “Almost everyone, Mistress Venabili, “ said Tisalver. “It’s customary. But that doesn’t mean everyone uses them.”

            “But they use them in Billibotton, I suppose, “ said Dors.

            “Sometimes. When they’re excited, they have fights.”

            “And the government permits it? The Imperial government, I mean?”

            “Sometimes they try to clean Billibotton up, but knives are too easy to hide and the custom is too strong. Besides, it’s almost always Dahlites that get killed and I don’t think the Imperial government gets too upset over that.”

            “What if it’s an outsider who gets killed?”

            “If it’s reported, the Imperials could get excited. But what happens is that no one has seen anything and no one knows anything. The Imperials sometimes round up people on general principles, but they can never prove anything. I suppose they decide it’s the outsiders’ fault for being there. -So don’t go to Billibotton, even if you have a knife.”

            Seldon shook his head rather pettishly. “I wouldn’t carry a knife. I don’t know how to use one. Not skillfully.”

            “Then it’s simple, Master Seldon. Stay out.” Tisalver shook his head portentously. “Just stay out.”

            “I may not be able to do that either, “ said Seldon.

            Dors glared at him, clearly annoyed, and said to Tisalver, “Where does one buy a knife? Or may we have one of yours?”

            Casilia said quickly, “No one takes someone else’s knife. You must buy your own.”

            Tisalver said, “There are knife stores all over. There aren’t supposed to be. Theoretically they’re illegal, you know. Any appliance store sells them, however. If you see a washing machine on display, that’s a sure sign.”

            “And how does one get to Billibotton?” asked Seldon.

            “By Expressway.” Tisalver looked dubious as he looked at Dors’s frowning expression.

            Seldon said, “And once I reach the Expressway?”

            “Get on the eastbound side and watch for the signs. But if you must go, Master Seldon”-Tisalver hesitated, then said--”you mustn’t take Mistress Venabili. Women sometimes are treated . . . worse.”

            “She won’t go, “ said Seldon.

            “I’m afraid she will, “ said Dors with quiet determination.




            The appliance store dealer’s mustache was clearly as lush as it had been in his younger days, but it was grizzled now, even though the hair on his head was still black. He touched the mustache out of sheer habit as he gazed at Dors and brushed it back on each side.

            He said, “You’re not a Dahlite.”

            “Yes, but I still want a knife.”

            He said, “It’s against the law to sell knives.”

            Dors said, “I’m not a policewoman or a government agent of any soft. I’m going to Billibotton.”

            He stared at her thoughtfully. “Alone?”

            “With my friend.” She jerked her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of Seldon, who was waiting outside sullenly.

            “You’re buying it for him?” He stared at Seldon and it didn’t take him long to decide. “He’s an outsider too. Let him come in and buy it for himself”

            “He’s not a government agent either. And I’m buying it for myself.”

            The dealer shook his head. “Outsiders are crazy. But if you want to spend some credits, I’ll take them from you. He reached under the counter, brought out a stub, turned it with a slight and expert motion, and the knife blade emerged.

            “Is that the largest you have?”

            “Best woman’s knife made.”

            “Show me a man’s knife.”

            “You don’t want one that’s coo heavy. Do you know how to use one of these things?”

            “I’ll learn and I’m not worried about heavy. Show me a man’s knife.”

            The dealer smiled. “Well, if you want to see one--” He moved farther down the counter and brought up a much fatter stub. He gave it a twist and what appeared to be a butcher’s knife emerged.

            He handed it to her, handle first, still smiling.

            She said, “Show me that twist of yours.”

            He showed her on a second knife, slowly twisting one way to make the blade appear, then the other way to make it disappear. “Twist and squeeze, “ he said.

            “Do it again, sir.”

            The dealer obliged.

            Dors said, “All right, close it and toss me the haft”

            He did, in a slow upward loop.

            She caught it, handed it back, and said, “Faster.”

            He raised his eyebrows and then, without warning, backhanded it to her left side. She made no attempt to bring over her right hand, but caught it with her left and the blade showed tumescently at once-then disappeared. The dealer’s mouth fell open.

            “And this is the largest you have?” she said.

            “It is. If you try to use it, it will just tire you out.”

            “I’ll breathe deeply. I’ll take a second one too.”

            “For your friend?”

            “No. For me.”

            “You plan on using two knives?”

            “I’ve got two hands.”

            The dealer sighed. “Mistress, please stay out of Billibotton. You don’t know what they do to women there.”

            “I can guess. How do I put these knives on my belt?”

            “Not the one you’ve got on, Mistress. That’s not a knife belt. I can sell you one, though.”

            “Will it hold two knives?”

            “I might have a double belt somewhere. Not much call for them.”

            “I’m calling for them.”

            “I may not have it in your size.”

            “Then we’ll cut it down or something.”

            “It will cost you a lot of credits.”

            “My credit tile will cover it.”

            When she emerged at last, Seldon said sourly, “You look ridiculous with that bulky belt.”

            “Really, Hari? Too ridiculous to go with you to Billibotton? Then let’s both go back to the apartment.”

            “No. I’ll go on by myself. I’ll be safer by myself.”

            Dors said, “There is no use saying that, Hari. We both go back or we both go forward. Under no circumstances do we separate.”

            And somehow the firm look in her blue eyes, the set to her lips, and the manner in which her hands had dropped to the hafts at her belt, convinced Seldon she was serious.

            “Very well, “ he said, “but if you survive and if I ever see Hummin again, my price for continuing to work on psychohistory much as I have grown fond of you-will be your removal. Do you understand?”

            And suddenly Dors smiled. “Forget it. Don’t practice your chivalry on me. Nothing will remove me. Do you understand?”




            They got off the Expressway where the sign, flickering in the air, said: BILLIBOTTON. As perhaps an indication of what might be expected, the second I was smeared, a mere blob of fainter light.

            They made their way out of the car and down to the walkway below. It was early afternoon and at first glance, Billibotton seemed much like the part of Dahl they had left.

            The air, however, had a pungent aroma and the walkway was littered with crash. One could tell that auto-sweeps were not to 6e found in the neighborhood.

            And, although the walkway looked ordinary enough, the atmosphere was uncomfortable and as tense as a too-tightly coiled spring.

            Perhaps it was the people. There seemed the normal number of pedestrians, but they were not like pedestrians elsewhere, Seldon thought. Ordinarily, in the press of business, pedestrians were self-absorbed and in the endless crowds on the endless thoroughfares of Trantor, people could only survive-psychologically-by ignoring each other. Eyes slid away. Brains were closed off. There was an artificial privacy with each person enclosed in a velvet fog of his or her own making. Or there was the ritualistic friendliness of an evening promenade in those neighborhoods that indulged in such things.

            But here in Billibotton, these was neither friendliness nor neutral withdrawal. At least not where outsiders were concerned. Every person who passed, moving in either direction, turned to stare at Seldon and Dors. Every pair of eyes, as though attached by invisible cords to the two outsiders, followed them with ill will.

            The clothing of the Billibottoners tended to be smudged, old, and sometimes corn. There was a patina of ill-washed poverty over them and Seldon felt uneasy at the slickness of his own new clothes.

            He said, “Where in Billibotton does Mother Rittah live, do you suppose?”

            “I don’t know, “ said Dors. “You brought us here, so you do the supposing. I intend to confine myself to the task of protection and I think I’m going to find it necessary to do just that.”

            Seldon said, “I assumed it would only be necessary to ask the way of any passerby, but somehow I’m not encouraged to do so.”

            “I don’t blame you. I don’t think you’ll find anyone springing w your assistance.”

            “On the other hand, there are such things as youngsters.” He indicated one with a brief gesture of one hand. A boy who looked to be about twelve-in any case young enough to lack the universal adult male mustache had come to a full halt and was staring at them.

            Dors said, “You’re guessing that a boy that age has not yet developed the full Billibottonian dislike of outsiders.”

            “At any rate, “ said Seldon, “I’m guessing he is scarcely large enough to have developed the full Billibottonian penchant for violence. I suppose he might run away and shout insults from a distance if we approach him, but I doubt he’ll attack us.”

            Seldon raised his voice. “Young man.”

            The boy took a step backward and continued to stare.

            Seldon said, “Come here, “ and beckoned.

            The boy said, “Wa’ fox, guy?”

            “So I can ask you directions. Come closer, so I don’t have to shout.”

            The boy approached two steps closer. His face was smudged, but his eyes were bright and sharp. His sandals were of different make and there was a large patch on one leg of his trousers. I He said, “Wa’ kind o’ directions?”

            “We’re trying to find Mother Rittah.”

            The boy’s eyes flickered. “Wa’ for, guy?”

            “I’m a scholar. Do you know what a scholar

            “Ya went to school?”

            “Yes. Didn’t you?”

            The boy spat to one side in contempt. “Nah.”

            “I want advice from Mother Rittah-if you’ll take me to her.”

            “Ya want your fortune? Ya come to Billibotton, guy, with your fancy clothes, so ! can tell ya your fortune. All bad.”

            “What’s your name, young man?”

            “What’s it to ya?”

            “So we can speak in a more friendly fashion. And so you can take me to Mother Rittah’s place. Do you know where she lives?”

            “Maybe yes, maybe no. My name’s Raych. What’s in it for me if I take ya?”

            “What would you like, Raych?”

            The boy’s eyes halted at Dors’s belt. Raych said, “The lady got a couple o’ knives. Gimme one and I’ll take ya to Mother Rittah.”

            “Those are grown people’s knives, Raych. You’re too young.”

            “Then I guess I’m too young to know where Mother Rittah lives.” And he looked up slyly through the shaggy halt that curtained his eyes.

            Seldon grew uneasy. It was possible they might attract a crowd. Several men had stopped already, but had then moved on when nothing of interest seemed to be taking place. If, however, the boy grew angry and lashed out at them in word or deed, people would undoubtedly gather.

            He smiled and said, “Can you read, Raych?”

            Raych spat again. “Nab! Who wants to read?”

            “Can you use a computer?”

            “A talking computer? Sure. Anyone can.”

            “I’ll tell you what, then. You take me to the nearest computer store and I’ll buy you a little computer all your own and software that will teach you to read. A few weeks and you’ll be able to read.”

            It seemed to Seldon that the boy’s eyes sparkled at the thought, but-if so-they hardened at once. *’Nab, Knife or nothin’.”

            “That’s the point, Raych. You learn to read and don’t tell anyone and you can surprise people. After a while you can bet them you can read. Bet them five credits. You can win a few extra credits that way and you can buy a knife of your own.”

            The boy hesitated. “Nab! No one will bet me. No one got credits.”

            “If you can read, you can get a job in a knife store and you can save your wages and get a knife at a discount. How about that?”

            “When ya gonna buy the talking computer?”

            “Right now. I’ll give it to you when I see Mother Rittah.”

            “You got credits?”

            “I have a credit tile.”

            “Let’s see ya buy the computer.”

            The transaction was carried through, but when the boy reached for it, Seldon shook his head and put it inside his pouch. “You’ve got to get me to Mother Rittah first, Raych. Are you sure you know where to find her?”

            Raych allowed a look of contempt to cross his face. “Sure I do. I’ll take ya there, only ya better hand over the computer when we get there or I’ll get some guys I know after you and the lady, so ya better watch out.”

            “You don’t have to threaten us, “ said Seldon. “We’ll take care of our end of the deal.”

            Raych led them quickly along the walkway, past curious stares.

            Seldon was silent during the walk and so was Dors. Dors was far less lost in her own thoughts, though, for she clearly remained conscious of the surrounding people at all times. She kept meeting, with a level glare, the eyes of those passersby that turned toward them. On occasion, when there were footsteps behind them, she turned to look grimly back.

            And then Raych stopped and said, “In here. She ain’t homeless, ya know.”

            They followed him into an apartment complex and Seldon, who had had the intention of following their route with a view to retracing his steps later, was quickly lost.

            He said, “How do you know your way through these alleys, Raych?”

            The boy shrugged. “I been loafin’ through them since I was a kid, “ he said. “Besides, the apartments are numbered-where they ain’t broken offend there’s arrows and things. You can’t get lost if you know the tricks.”

            Raych knew the tricks, apparently, and they wandered deeper into the complex. Hanging over it all was an air of total decay: disregarded debris, inhabitants slinking past in clear resentment of the outsiders’ invasion. Unruly youngsters ran along the alleys in pursuit of some game or other. Some of them yelled, “Hey, get out o’ the way!” when their levitating ball narrowly missed Dors.

            And finally, Raych stopped before a dark scarred door on which the number 2782 glowed feebly.

            “This is it, “ he said and held out his hand.

            “First let’s see who’s inside, “ said Seldon softly. He pushed the signal button and nothing happened.

            “It don’t work, “ said Raych. “Ya gotta bang. Loud. She don’t hear too good.”

            Seldon pounded his fist on the door and was rewarded with the sound of movement inside. A shrill voice called out, “Who wants Mother Rittah?”

            Seldon shouted, “Two scholars!”

            He tossed the small computer, with its small package of software attached, to Raych, who snatched it, grinned, and took off at a rapid run. Seldon then turned to face the opening door and Mother Rittah.




            Mother Rittah was well into her seventies, perhaps, but had the kind of face that, at first sight, seemed to belie that. Plump cheeks, a little mouth, a small round chin slightly doubled. She was very short-not quite 1.5 meters tall--and had a thick body.

            But there were fine wrinkles about her eyes and when she smiled, as she smiled at the sight of them, others broke out over her face. And she moved with difficulty.

            “Come in, come in, “ she said in a soft high-pitched voice and peered at them as though her eyesight was beginning to fail. “Outsiders . . . Outworlders even. Am I right? You don’t seem to have the Trantor smell about you.”

            Seldon wished she hadn’t mentioned smell. The apartment, overcrowded and littered with small possessions that seemed dim and dusty, reeked with food odors that were on the edge of rancidity. The air was so thick and clinging that he was sure his cloches would smell strongly of it when they left.

            He said, “You are sight, Mother Rittah. I am Hari Seldon of Helicon. My friend is Dors Venabili of Cinna.”

            “So, “ she said, looking about for an unoccupied spot on the floor where she could invite them to sit, but finding none suitable.

            Dors said, “We are willing to stand, Mother.”

            “What?” she looked up at Dors. “You must speak briskly, my child. My hearing is not what it was when I was your age.”

            “Why don’t you get a hearing device?” said Seldon, raising his voice.

            “It wouldn’t help, Master Seldon. Something seems to be wrong with the nerve and I have no money for nerve rebuilding. -You have come to learn the future from old Mother Rittah?”

            “Not quite, “ said Seldon. “I have come to learn the past.”

            “Excellent. It is such a strain to decide what people want to hear.”

            “It must 6e quite an art, “ said Dors, smiling.

            “It seems easy, but one has to he properly convincing. I earn my fees.”

            “If you have a credit outlet, “ said Seldon. “We will pay any reasonable fees if you tell us about Earth-without cleverly designing what you tell us to suit what we want to hear. We wish to hear the truth.”

            The old woman, who had been shuffling about the room, making adjustments here and there, as though to make it all prettier and more suitable for important visitors, stopped shots. “What do you want to know about Earth?”

            “What is it, to begin with?”

            The old woman turned and seemed to gaze off into space. When she spoke, her voice was low and steady.

            “It is a world, a very old planet. It is forgotten and lost.”

            Dors said, “It is not part of history. We know that much.”

            “It comes before history, child, “ said Mother Rittah solemnly. “It existed in the dawn of the Galaxy and before the dawn. It was the only world with humanity.” She nodded firmly.

            Seldon said, “Was another name for Earth . . . Aurora?”

            And now Mother Rittah’s face misted into a frown. “Where did you hear that?”

            “In my wanderings. I have heard of an old forgotten world named Aurora on which humanity lived in primordial peace.”

            “It’s a lie. “ She wiped her mouth as though to get the taste of what she had just heard out of it. “That name you mention must never be mentioned except as the place of Evil. It was the beginning of Evil. Earth was alone till Evil came, along with its sister worlds. Evil nearly destroyed Earth, but Earth rallied and destroyed Evil with the help of heroes.”

            “Earth was before this Evil. Are you sure of that?”

            “Long before. Earth was alone in the Galaxy for thousands of years millions of years.”

            “Millions of years? Humanity existed on it for millions of years with no other people on any other world?”

            “That’s true. That’s true. That’s true. “

            “But how do you know all this? Is it all in a computer program? Or a printout? Do you have anything I can read?”

            Mother Rittah shook her head. “I heard the old stories from my mother, who heard it from hers, and so on far back. I have no children, so I tell the stories to others, but it may come to an end. This is a time of disbelief.”

            Dors said, “Not really, Mother. There are people who speculate about prehistoric times and who study some of the tales of lost worlds.”

            Mother Rittah made a motion of her arm as though to wipe it away. “They look at it with cold eyes. Scholarly. They try to fit it in with their notions. I could tell you stories for a year of the great hero Ba-Lee, but you would have no time to listen and I have lost the strength to tell.”

            Seldon said, “Have you ever heard of robots?”

            The old woman shuddered and her voice was almost a scream. “Why do you ask such things? Those were artificial human beings, evil in themselves and the work of the Evil worlds. They were destroyed and should never be mentioned.”

            “There was one special robot, wasn’t there, that the Evil worlds hated?”

            Mother Rittah tottered toward Seldon and peered into his eyes. He could feel her hot breath on his face. “Have you come to mock me? You know of these things and yet you ask? Why do you ask?”

            “Because I wish to know.”

            “There was an artificial human being who helped Earth. He was DaNee, friend of Ba-Lee. He never died and lives somewhere, waiting for his time to return. None knows when that time will be, but someday he will come and restore the great old days and remove all cruelty, injustice, and misery. That is the promise.” At this, she closed her eyes and smiled, as if remembering . . .

            Seldon waited a while in silence, then sighed and said, “Thank you, Mother Rittah. You have been very helpful. What is your fee?”

            “So pleasant to meet Outworlders, “ the old woman replied. “Ten credits. May I offer you some refreshment?”

            “No, thank you, “ said Seldon earnestly. “Please take twenty. You need only tell us how to get back to the Expressway from here. -And, Mother Rittah, if you can arrange to have some of your tales of Earth put into a computer disc, I will pay you well.”

            “I would need so much strength. How well?”

            “It would depend on how long the story is and how well it is told. I might pay a thousand credits.”

            Mother Rittah licked her lips. “A thousand credits? But how will I find you when the story is told?”

            “I will give you the computer code number at which I can be reached.”

            After Seldon gave Mother Rittah the code number, he and Dors left, thankful for the comparatively clean odor of the alley outside. They walked briskly in the direction indicated by the old woman.

            Dors said, “That wasn’t a very long interview, Hari.”

            “I know. The surroundings were terribly unpleasant and I felt I had learned enough. Amazing how these folktales tend to magnify.”

            “What do you mean, ‘magnify’?”

            “Well, the Mycogenians fill their Aurora with human beings who lived for centuries and the Dahlites fill their Earth with a humanity that lived for millions of years. And both talk of a robot that lives forever. Still, it makes one think.”

            “As far as millions of years go, there’s room for-Where are we going?”

            “Mother Rittah said we go in this direction till we reach a rest area, then follow the sign for CENTRAL WALKWAY, bearing left, and keep on following the sign. Did we pass a rest area on the way in?.,

            “We may be leaving by a route different from the one we came in. I don’t remember a rest area, but I wasn’t watching the route. I was keeping my eye on the people we passed and-’

            Her voice died away. Up ahead the alley swelled outward on both sides.

            Seldon remembered. They had passed that way. There had been a couple of ratty couch pads resting on the walkway floor on either side.

            There was, however, no need for Dors to watch passersby going out as she had coming in. There were no passersby. But up ahead in the rest area they spotted a group of men, rather large-sized for Dahlites, mustaches bristling, bare upper arms muscular and glistening under the yellowish indoor light of the walkway.

            Clearly, they were waiting for the Outworlders and, almost automatically, Seldon and Dors came to a halt. For a moment or two, the tableau held. Then Seldon looked behind him hastily. Two or three additional men had stepped into view.

            Seldon said between his teeth, “We’re trapped. I should not have let you come, Dors.”