TERMINUS… Its location (see map) was an odd one for the role it was called upon to play in Galactic history, and yet as many writers have never tired of pointing out, an inevitable one. Located on the very fringe of the Galactic spiral, an only planet of an isolated sun, poor in resources and negligible in economic value, it was never settled in the five centuries after its discovery, until the landing of the Encyclopedists….
It was inevitable that as a new generation grew, Terminus would become something more than an appendage of the psychohistorians of Trantor. With the Anacreonian revolt and the rise to power of Salvor Hardin, first of the great line of…
Lewis Pirenne was busily engaged at his desk in the one well-lit comer of the room. Work had to be co-ordinated. Effort had to be organized. Threads had to be woven into a pattern.
Fifty years now; fifty years to establish themselves and set up Encyclopedia Foundation Number One into a smoothly working unit. Fifty years to gather the raw material. Fifty years to prepare.
It had been done. Five more years would see the publication of the first volume of the most monumental work the Galaxy had ever conceived. And then at ten-year intervals regularly like clockwork volume after volume. And with them there would be supplements; special articles on events of current interest, until
Pirenne stirred uneasily, as the muted buzzer upon his desk muttered peevishly. He had almost forgotten the appointment. He shoved the door release and out of an abstracted comer of one eye saw the door open and the broad figure of Salvor Hardin enter. Pirenne did not look up.
Hardin smiled to himself. He was in a hurry, but he knew better than to take offense at Pirenne’s cavalier treatment of anything or anyone that disturbed him at his work. He buried himself in the chair on the other side of the desk and waited.
Pirenne’s stylus made the faintest scraping sound as it raced across paper. Otherwise, neither motion nor sound. And then Hardin withdrew a two-credit coin from his vest pocket. He flipped it and its stainless-steel surface caught flitters of light as it tumbled through the air. He caught it and-flipped it again, watching the flashing reflections lazily. Stainless steel made good medium of exchange on a planet where all metal had to be imported.
Pirenne looked up and blinked. “Stop that!” he said querulously.
“That infernal coin tossing. Stop it.”
“Oh.” Hardin pocketed the metal disk. “Tell me when you’re ready, will you? I promised to be back at the City Council meeting before the new aqueduct project is put to a vote.”
Pirenne sighed and shoved himself away from the desk. “I’m ready. But I hope you aren’t going to bother me with city affairs. Take care of that yourself, please. The Encyclopedia takes up all my time.”
“Have you heard the news?” questioned Hardin, phlegmatically.
“The news that the Terminus City ultrawave set received two hours ago. The Royal Governor of the Prefect of Anacreon has assumed the title of king.”
“Well? What of it?”
“It means,” responded Hardin, “that we’re cut off from the inner regions of the Empire. We’ve been expecting it but that doesn’t make it any more comfortable. Anacreon stands square across what was our last remaining trade route to Santanni and to Trantor and to Vega itself. Where is our metal to come from? We haven’t managed to get a steel or aluminum shipment through in six months and now we won’t be able to get any at all, except by grace of the King of Anacreon.”
Pirenne tch-tched impatiently. “Get them through him, then.”
“But can we? Listen, Pirenne, according to the charter which established this Foundation, the Board of Trustees of the Encyclopedia Committee has been given full administrative powers. I, as Mayor of Terminus City, have just enough power to blow my own nose and perhaps to sneeze if you countersign an order giving me permission. It’s up to you and your Board then. I’m asking you in the name of the City, whose prosperity depends upon uninterrupted commerce with the Galaxy, to call an emergency meeting”
“Stop! A campaign speech is out of order. Now, Hardin, the Board of Trustees has not barred the establishment of a municipal government on Terminus. We understand one to be necessary because of the increase in population since the Foundation was established fifty years ago, and because of the increasing number of people involved in non-Encyclopedia affairs. But that does not mean that the first and only aim of the Foundation is no longer to publish the definitive Encyclopedia of all human knowledge. We are a State-supported, scientific institution, Hardin. We cannot must not will not interfere in local politics.”
“Local politics! By the Emperor’s left toe, Pirenne, this is a matter of life and death. The planet, Terminus, by itself cannot support a mechanized civilization. It lacks metals. You know that. It hasn’t a trace of iron, copper, or aluminum in the surface rocks, and precious little of anything else. What do you think will happen to the Encyclopedia if this watchmacallum King of Anacreon clamps down on us?”
“On us? Are you forgetting that we are under the direct control of the Emperor himself? We are not part of the Prefect of Anacreon or of any other prefect. Memorize that! We are part of the Emperor’s personal domain, and no one touches us. The Empire can protect its own.”
“Then why didn’t it prevent the Royal Governor of Anacreon from kicking over the traces? And only Anacreon?
At least twenty of the outermost prefects of the Galaxy, the entire Periphery as a matter of fact, have begun steering things their own way. I tell you I feel damned uncertain of the Empire and its ability to protect us.”
“Hokum! Royal Governors, Kings what’s the difference? The Empire is always shot through with a certain amount of politics and with different men pulling this way and that. Governors have rebelled, and, for that matter, Emperors have been deposed, or assassinated before this. But what has that to do with the Empire itself? Forget it, Hardin. It’s none of our business. We are first of all and last of all-scientists. And our concern is the Encyclopedia.
Oh, yes, I’d almost forgotten. Hardin!”
“Do something about that paper of yours!” Pirenne’s voice was angry.
“The Terminus City Journal? It isn’t mine; it’s privately owned. What’s it been doing?”
“For weeks now it has been recommending that the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Foundation be made the occasion for public holidays and quite inappropriate celebrations.”
“And why not? The computoclock will open the Vault in three months. I would call this first opening a big occasion, wouldn’t you?”
“Not for silly pageantry, Hardin. The Vault and its opening concern the Board of Trustees alone. Anything of importance will be communicated to the people. That is final and please make it plain to the Journal.”
“I’m sorry, Pirenne, but the City Charter guarantees a certain minor matter known as freedom of the press.”
“It may. But the Board of Trustees does not. I am the Emperor’s representative on Terminus, Hardin, and have full powers in this respect.”
Hardin’s expression became that of a man counting to ten, mentally. He said, grimly: “in connection with your status as Emperor’s representative, then, I have a final piece of news to give you.”
“About Anacreon?” Pirenne’s lips tightened. He felt annoyed.
“Yes. A special envoy will be sent to us from Anacreon. In two weeks.”
“An envoy? Here? From Anacreon?” Pirenne chewed that. “What for?”
Hardin stood up, and shoved his chair back up against the desk. “I give you one guess.” And he left quite unceremoniously.
Anselm haut Rodric “haut” itself signifying noble blood -Sub-prefect of Pluema and Envoy Extraordinary of his Highness of Anacreon-plus half a dozen other titleswas met by Salvor Hardin at the spaceport with all the imposing ritual of a state occasion.
With a tight smile and a low bow, the sub-prefect had flipped his blaster from its holster and presented it to Hardin butt first. Hardin returned the compliment with, a blaster specifically borrowed for the occasion. Friendship and good will were thus established, and if Hardin noted the barest bulge at Haut Rodric’s shoulder, he prudently said nothing.
The ground car that received them then preceded, flanked, and followed by the suitable cloud of minor functionaries proceeded in a slow, ceremonious manner to Cyclopedia Square, cheered on its way by a properly enthusiastic crowd.
Sub-prefect Anselm received the cheers with the complaisant indifference of a soldier and a nobleman.
He said to Hardin, “And this city is all your world?”
Hardin raised his voice to be heard above the clamor. “We are a young world, your eminence. In our short history we have had but few members of the higher nobility visiting our poor planet. Hence, our enthusiasm.”
It is certain that “higher nobility” did not recognize irony when he heard it.
He said thoughtfully: “Founded fifty years ago. Hm-m-m! You have a great deal of unexploited land here, mayor. You have never considered dividing it into estates?”
“There is no necessity as yet. We’re extremely centralized; we have to be, because of the Encyclopedia. Someday, perhaps, when our population has grown”
“A strange world! You have no peasantry?”
Hardin reflected that it didn’t require a great deal of acumen to tell that his eminence was indulging in a bit of fairly clumsy pumping. He replied casually, “No nor nobility.”
Haut Rodric’s eyebrows lifted. “And your leader the man I am to meet?”
“You mean Dr. Pirenne? Yes! He is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and a personal representative of the Emperor.”
“Doctor? No other title? A scholar? And he rates above the civil authority?”
“Why, certainly,” replied Hardin, amiably. “We’re all scholars more or less. After all, we’re not so much a world as a scientific foundation under the direct control of the Emperor.”
There was a faint emphasis upon the last phrase that seemed to disconcert the sub-prefect. He remained thoughtfully silent during the rest of the slow way to Cyclopedia Square.
If Hardin found himself bored by the afternoon and evening that followed, he had at least the satisfaction of realizing that Pirenne and Haut Rodric having met with loud and mutual protestations of esteem and regard were detesting each other’s company a good deal more.
Haut Rodric had attended with glazed eye to Pirenne’s lecture during the “inspection tour” of the Encyclopedia Building. With polite and vacant smile, he had listened to the latter’s rapid patter as they passed through the vast storehouses of reference films and the numerous projection rooms.
It was only after he had gone down level by level into and through the composing departments, editing departments, publishing departments, and filming departments that he made the first comprehensive statement.
“This is all very interesting,” he said, “but it seems a strange occupation for grown men. What good is it?”
It was a remark, Hardin noted, for which Pirenne found no answer, though the expression of his face was most eloquent.
The dinner that evening was much the mirror image of the events of that afternoon, for Haut Rodric monopolized the conversation by describing in minute technical detail and with incredible zest his own exploits as battalion head during the recent war between Anacreon and the neighboring newly proclaimed Kingdom of Smyrno.
The details of the sub-prefect’s account were not completed until dinner was over and one by one the minor officials had drifted away. The last bit of triumphant description of mangled spaceships came when he had accompanied Pirenne and Hardin onto the balcony and relaxed in the warm air of the summer evening.
“And now,” he said, with a heavy joviality, “to serious matters.”
“By all means,” murmured Hardin, lighting a long cigar of Vegan tobacco not many left, he reflected and teetering his chair back on two legs.
The Galaxy was high in the sky and its misty lens shape stretched lazily from horizon to horizon. The few stars here at the very edge of the universe were insignificant twinkles in comparison.
“Of course,” said the sub-prefect, “all the formal discussions the paper signing and such dull technicalities, that is will take place before the What is it you call your Council?”
“The Board of Trustees,” replied Pirenne, coldly.
“Queer name! Anyway, that’s for tomorrow. We might as well clear away some of the underbrush, man to man, right now, though. Hey?”
“And this means” prodded Hardin.
“Just this. There’s been a certain change in the situation out here in the Periphery and the status of your planet has become a trifle uncertain. It would be very convenient if we succeeded in coming to an understanding as to how the matter stands. By the way, mayor, have you another one of those cigars?”
Hardin started and produced one reluctantly.
Anselm haut Rodric sniffed at it and emitted a clucking sound of pleasure. “Vegan tobacco! Where did you get it?”
“We received some last shipment. There’s hardly any left. Space knows when we’ll get more if ever.”
Pirenne scowled. He didn’t smoke and, for that matter, detested the odor. “Let me understand this, your eminence. Your mission is merely one of clarification?”
Haut Rodric nodded through the smoke of his first lusty puffs.
“In that case, it is soon over. The situation with respect to the Encyclopedia Foundation is what it always has been.”
“Ah! And what is it that it always has been?”
“Just this: A State-supported scientific institution and part of the personal domain of his august majesty, the Emperor.”
The sub-prefect seemed unimpressed. He blew smoke rings. “That’s a nice theory, Dr. Pirenne. I imagine you’ve got charters with the Imperial Seal upon it but what’s the actual situation? How do you stand with respect to Smyrno? You’re not fifty parsecs from Smyrno’s capital. you know. And what about Konom and Daribow?”
Pirenne said: “We have nothing to do with any prefect. As part of the Emperor’s”
“They’re not prefects,” reminded Haut Rodric; “they’re kingdoms now.”
“Kingdoms then. We have nothing to do with them. As a scientific institution”
“Science be damned!” swore the other. “What the devil has that got to do with the fact that we’re liable to see Terminus taken over by Smyrno at any time?”
“And the Emperor? He would just sit by?”
Haut Rodric calmed down and said: “Well, now, Dr. Pirenne, you respect the Emperor’s property and so does Anacreon, but Smyrno might not. Remember, we’ve just signed a treaty with the Emperor I’ll present a copy to that Board of yours tomorrow which places upon us the responsibility of maintaining order within the borders of the old Prefect of Anacreon on behalf of the Emperor. Our duty is clear, then, isn’t it?”
“Certainly. But Terminus is not part of the Prefect of Anacreon.”
“Nor is it part of the Prefect of Smyrno. It’s not part of any prefect.”
“Does Smyrno know that?”
“I don’t care what it knows.”
“We do. We’ve just finished a war with her and she still holds two stellar systems that are ours. Terminus occupies an extremely strategic spot, between the two nations.”
Hardin felt weary. He broke in: “What is your proposition, your eminence?”
The sub-prefect seemed quite ready to stop fencing in favor of more direct statements. He said briskly: “It seems perfectly obvious that, since Terminus cannot defend itself, Anacreon must take over the job for its own sake. You understand we have no desire to interfere with internal administration”
“Uh-huh,” grunted Hardin dryly.
“?but we believe that it would be best for all concerned to have Anacreon establish a military base upon the planet.”
“And that is all you would want a military base in some of the vast unoccupied territory and let it go at that?”
“Well, of course, there would be the matter of supporting the protecting forces.”
Hardin’s chair came down on all four, and his elbows went forward on his knees. “Now we’re getting to the nub. Let’s put it into language. Terminus is to be a protectorate and to pay tribute.”
“Not tribute. Taxes. We’re protecting you. You pay for it.”
Pirenne banged his hand on the chair with sudden violence. “Let me speak, Hardin. Your eminence, I don’t care a rusty half-credit coin for Anacreon, Smyrno, or all your local politics and petty wars. I tell you this is a State-supported tax-free institution.”
“State-supported? But we are the State, Dr. Pirenne, and we’re not supporting.”
Pirenne rose angrily. “Your eminence, I am the direct representative of”
“?his august majesty, the Emperor,” chorused Anselm haut Rodric sourly, “And I am the direct representative of the King of Anacreon. Anacreon is a lot nearer, Dr. Pirenne. ”
“Let’s get back to business,” urged Hardin. “How would you take these so-called taxes, your eminence? Would you take them in kind: wheat, potatoes, vegetables, cattle?”
The sub-prefect stared. “What the devil? What do we need with those? We’ve got hefty surpluses. Gold, of course. Chromium or vanadium would be even better, incidentally, if you have it in quantity.”
Hardin laughed. “Quantity! We haven’t even got iron in quantity. Gold! Here, take a look at our currency.” He tossed a coin to the envoy.
Haut Rodric bounced it and stared. “What is it? Steel?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Terminus is a planet practically without metals. We import it all. Consequently, we have no gold, and nothing to pay unless you want a few thousand bushels of potatoes.”
“Well manufactured goods.”
“Without metal? What do we make our machines out of?”
There was a pause and Pirenne tried again. “This whole discussion is wide of the point. Terminus is not a planet, but a scientific foundation preparing a great encyclopedia. Space, man, have you no respect for science?”
“Encyclopedias don’t win wars.” Haut Rodric’s brows furrowed. “A completely unproductive world, then and practically unoccupied at that. Well, you might pay with land.”
“What do you mean?” asked Pirenne.
“This world is just about empty and the unoccupied land is probably fertile. There are many of the nobility on Anacreon that would like an addition to their estates.”
“You can’t propose any such”
“There’s no necessity of looking so alarmed, Dr. Pirenne. There’s plenty for all of us. If it comes to what it comes, and you co-operate, we could probably arrange it so that you lose nothing. Titles can be conferred and estates granted. You understand me, I think.”
Pirenne sneered, “Thanks!”
And then Hardin said ingenuously: “Could Anacreon supply us with adequate quantities of plutonium for our nuclear-power plant? We’ve only a few years’ supply left.”
There was a gasp from Pirenne and then a dead silence for minutes. When Haut Rodric spoke it was in a voice quite different from what it had been till then:
“You have nuclear power?”
“Certainly. What’s unusual in that? I imagine nuclear power is fifty thousand years old now. Why shouldn’t we have it? Except that it’s a little difficult to get plutonium.”
“Yes … Yes.” The envoy paused and added uncomfortably: “Well, gentlemen, we’ll pursue the subject tomorrow. You’ll excuse me”
Pirenne looked after him and gritted through his teeth: “That insufferable, dull-witted donkey! That”
Hardin broke in: “Not at all. He’s merely the product of his environment. He doesn’t understand much except that ‘I have a gun and you haven’t.”
Pirenne whirled on him in exasperation. “What in space did you mean by the talk about military bases and tribute? Are you crazy?”
“No. I merely gave him rope and let him talk. You’ll notice that he managed to stumble out with Anacreon’s real intentions that is, the parceling up of Terminus into landed estates. Of course, I don’t intend to let that happen.”
“You don’t intend. You don’t. And who are you? And may I ask what you meant by blowing off your mouth about our nuclear-power plant? Why, it’s just the thing that would make us a military target.”
“Yes,” grinned Hardin. “A military target to stay away from. Isn’t it obvious why I brought the subject up? It happened to confirm a very strong suspicion I had had.”
“And that was what?”
“That Anacreon no longer has a nuclear-power economy. If they had, our friend would undoubtedly have realized that plutonium, except in ancient tradition is not used in power plants. And therefore it follows that the rest of the Periphery no longer has nuclear power either. Certainly Smyrno hasn’t, or Anacreon wouldn’t have won most of the battles in their recent war. Interesting, wouldn’t you say?”
“Bah!” Pirenne left in fiendish humor, and Hardin smiled gently.
He threw his cigar away and looked up at the outstretched Galaxy. “Back to oil and coal, are they?” he murmured and what the rest of his thoughts were he kept to himself.
When Hardin denied owning the Journal, he was perhaps technically correct, but no more. Hardin had been the leading spirit in the drive to incorporate Terminus into an autonomous municipality-he had been elected its first mayor-so it was not surprising that, though not a single share of Journal stock was in his name, some sixty percent was controlled by him in more devious fashions.
There were ways.
Consequently, when Hardin began suggesting to Pirenne that he be allowed to attend meetings of the Board of Trustees, it was not quite coincidence that the Journal began a similar campaign. And the first mass meeting in the history of the Foundation was held, demanding representation of the City in the “national” government.
And, eventually, Pirenne capitulated with ill grace.
Hardin, as he sat at the foot of the table, speculated idly as to just what it was that made physical scientists such poor administrators. It might be merely that they were too used to inflexible fact and far too unused to pliable people.
In any case, there was Tomaz Sutt and Jord Fara on his left; Lundin Crast and Yate Fulham on his fight; with Pirenne, himself, presiding. He knew them all, of course, but they seemed to have put on an extra-special bit of pomposity for the occasion.
Hardin had dozed through the initial formalities and then perked up when Pirenne sipped at the glass of water before him by way of preparation and said:
“I find it very gratifying to be able to inform the Board that since our last meeting, I have received word that Lord Dorwin, Chancellor of the Empire, will arrive at Terminus in two weeks. It may be taken for granted that our relations with Anacreon will be smoothed out to our complete satisfaction as soon as the Emperor is informed of the situation. ”
He smiled and addressed Hardin across the length of the table. “Information to this effect has been given the Journal.”
Hardin snickered below his breath. It seemed evident that Pirenne’s desire to strut this information before him had been one reason for his admission into the sacrosanctum.
He said evenly: “Leaving vague expressions out of account, what do you expect Lord Dorwin to do?”
Tomaz Sutt replied. He had a bad habit of addressing one in the third person when in his more stately moods.
“It is quite evident,” he observed, “that Mayor Hardin is a professional cynic. He can scarcely fail to realize that the Emperor would be most unlikely to allow his personal rights to be infringed.”
“Why? What would he do in case they were?”
There was an annoyed stir. Pirenne said, “You are out of order,” and, as an afterthought, “and are making what are near-treasonable statements, besides.”
“Am I to consider myself answered?”
“Yes! If you have nothing further to say”
“Don’t jump to conclusions. I’d like to ask a question. Besides this stroke of diplomacy which may or may not prove to mean anything has anything concrete been done to meet the Anacreonic menace?”
Yate Fulham drew one hand along his ferocious red mustache. “You see a menace there, do you?”
“Scarcely” this with indulgence. “The Emperor”
“Great space!” Hardin felt annoyed. “What is this? Every once in a while someone mentions ‘Emperor’ or ‘Empire’ as if it were a magic word. The Emperor is thousands of parsecs away, and I doubt whether he gives a damn about us. And if he does, what can he do? What there was of the imperial navy in these regions is in the hands of the four kingdoms now and Anacreon has its share. Listen, we have to fight with guns, not with words.
“Now, get this. We’ve had two months’ grace so far, mainly because we’ve given Anacreon the idea that we’ve got nuclear weapons. Well, we all know that that’s a little white lie. We’ve got nuclear power, but only for commercial uses, and darn little at that. They’re going to find that out soon, and if you think they’re going to enjoy being jollied along, you’re mistaken.”
“My dear sir”
“Hold on: I’m not finished.” Hardin was warming up. He liked this. “It’s all very well to drag chancellors into this, but it would be much nicer to drag a few great big siege guns fitted for beautiful nuclear bombs into it. We’ve lost two months, gentlemen, and we may not have another two months to lose. What do you propose to do?”
Said Lundin Crast, his long nose wrinkling angrily: “If you’re proposing the militarization of the Foundation, I won’t hear a word of it. It would mark our open entrance into the field of politics. We, Mr. Mayor, are a scientific foundation and nothing else.”
Added Sutt: “He does not realize, moreover, that building armaments would mean withdrawing men valuable men from the Encyclopedia. That cannot be done, come what may.”
“Very true,” agreed Pirenne. “The Encyclopedia first always.”
Hardin groaned in spirit. The Board seemed to suffer violently from Encyclopedia on the brain,
He said icily: “Has it ever occurred to this Board that it is barely possible that Terminus may have interests other than the Encyclopedia?”
Pirenne replied: “I do not conceive, Hardin, that the Foundation can have any interest other than the Encyclopedia.”
“I didn’t say the Foundation; I said Terminus. I’m afraid you don’t understand the situation. There’s a good million of us here on Terminus, and not more than a hundred and fifty thousand are working directly on the Encyclopedia. To the rest of us, this is home. We were born here. We’re living here. Compared with our farms and our homes and our factories, the Encyclopedia means little to us. We want them protected”
He was shouted down.
“The Encyclopedia first,” ground out Crast. “We have a mission to fulfill.”
“Mission, hell,” shouted Hardin. “That might have been true fifty years ago. But this is a new generation.”
“That has nothing to do with it,” replied Pirenne. “We are scientists.”
And Hardin leaped through the opening. “Are you, though? That’s a nice hallucination, isn’t it? Your bunch here is a perfect example of what’s been wrong with the entire Galaxy for thousands of years. What kind of science is it to be stuck out here for centuries classifying the work of scientists of the last millennium? Have you ever thought of working onward, extending their knowledge and improving upon it? No! You’re quite happy to stagnate. The whole Galaxy is, and has been for space knows how long. That’s why the Periphery is revolting; that’s why communications are breaking down; that’s why petty wars are becoming eternal; that’s why whole systems are losing nuclear power and going back to barbarous techniques of chemical power.
“If you ask me,” he cried, “the Galactic Empire is dying!”
He paused and dropped into his chair to catch his breath, paying no attention to the two or three that were attempting simultaneously to answer him.
Crast got the floor. “I don’t know what you’re trying to gain by your hysterical statements, Mr. Mayor. Certainly, you are adding nothing constructive to the discussion. I move, Mr. Chairman, that the speaker’s remarks be placed out of order and the discussion be resumed from the point where it was interrupted.”
Jord Fara bestirred himself for the first time. Up to this point Fara had taken no part in the argument even at its hottest. But now his ponderous voice, every bit as ponderous as his three-hundred-pound body, burst its bass way out.
“Haven’t we forgotten something, gentlemen?”
“What?” asked Pirenne, peevishly.
“That in a month we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary.” Fara had a trick of uttering the most obvious platitudes with great profundity.
“What of it?”
“And on that anniversary,” continued Fara, placidly, “Hari Seldon’s Vault will open. Have you ever considered what might be in the Vault?”
“I don’t know. Routine matters. A stock Speech of congratulations, perhaps. I don’t think any significance need be placed on the Vault though the Journal” and he glared at Hardin, who grinned back “did try to make an issue of it. I put a stop to that.”
“Ah,” said Fara, “but perhaps you are wrong. Doesn’t it strike you” he paused and put a finger to his round little nose “that the Vault is opening at a very convenient time?”
“Very inconvenient time, you mean,” muttered Fulham. “We’ve got some other things to worry about.”
“Other things more important than a message from Hari Seldon? I think not.” Fara was growing more pontifical than ever, and Hardin eyed him thoughtfully. What was he getting at?
“In fact,” said Fara, happily, “you all seem to forget that Seldon was the greatest psychologist of our time and that he was the founder of our Foundation. It seems reasonable to assume that he used his science to determine the probable course of the history of the immediate future. If he did, as seems likely, I repeat, he would certainly have managed to find a way to warn us of danger and, perhaps, to point out a solution. The Encyclopedia was very dear to his heart, you know.”
An aura of puzzled doubt prevailed. Pirenne hemmed. “Well, now, I don’t know. Psychology is a great science, but-there are no psychologists among us at the moment, I believe. It seems to me we’re on uncertain ground.”
Fara turned to Hardin. “Didn’t you study psychology under Alurin?”
Hardin answered, half in reverie: “Yes, I never completed my studies, though. I got tired of theory. I wanted to be a psychological engineer, but we lacked the facilities, so I did the next best thing I went into politics. It’s practically the same thing.”
“Well, what do you think of the Vault?”
And Hardin replied cautiously, “I don’t know.”
He did not say a word for the remainder of the meeting even though it got back to the subject of the Chancellor of the Empire.
In fact, he didn’t even listen. He’d been put on a new track and things were falling into place-just a little. Little angles were fitting together one or two.
And psychology was the key. He was sure of that.
He was trying desperately to remember the psychological theory he had once learned and from it he got one thing right at the start.
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