Janov Pelorat was white-haired and his face, in repose, looked rather empty.It was rarefy in anything but repose.He was of average height and weight and tended to move without haste and to speak with deliberation.
He seemed considerably older than his fifty-two years.
He had never left Terminus, something that was most unusual, especially for one of his profession. He himself wasn’t sure whether his sedentary ways were because of – or in spite of – his obsession with history.
The obsession had come upon him quite suddenly at the age of fifteen when, during some indisposition, he was given a book of early legends. In it, he found the repeated motif of a world that was alone and isolated – a world that was not even aware of its isolation, since it had never known anything else.
His indisposition began to clear up at once. Within two days, he had read the book three times and was out of bed. The day after that he was at his computer terminal, checking for any records that the Terminus University Library might have on similar legends.
It was precisely such legends that had occupied him ever since. The Terminus University Library had by no means been a great resource in this respect but, when he grew older, he discovered the joys of interlibrary loans. He had printouts in his possession which had been taken off hyper-radiational signals from as far away as Ifnia.
He had become a professor of ancient history and was now beginning his first sabbatical – one for which he had applied with the idea of taking a trip through space (his first) to Trantor itself – thirty-seven years later.
Pelorat was quite aware that it was most unusual for a person of Terminus to have never been in space. It had never been his intention to be notable in this particular way. It was just that whenever he might have gone into space, some new book, some new study, some new analysis came his way. He would delay his projected trip until he had wrung the new matter dry and had added, if possible, one more item of fact, or speculation, or imagination to the mountain he had collected. In the end, his only regret was that the particular trip to Trantor had never been made.
Trantor had been the capital of the First Galactic Empire. It had been the seat of Emperors for twelve thousand years and, before that, the capital of one of the most important pre-Imperial kingdoms, which had, little by little, captured or otherwise absorbed the other kingdoms to establish the Empire.
Trantor had been a world-girdling city, a metal-coated city. Pelorat had read of it in the works of Gaal Dornick, who had visited it in the time of Hari Seldon himself. Dornick’s volume no longer circulated and the one Pelorat owned might have been sold for half the historian’s annual salary. A suggestion that he might part with it would have horrified the historian.
Of course, what Pelorat cared about, as far as Trantor was concerned, was the Galactic Library, which in Imperial times (when it was the Imperial Library) had been the largest in the Galaxy. Trantor was the capital of the largest and most populous Empire humanity had ever seen. It had been a single worldwide city with a population well in excess of forty billion, and its Library had been the gathered record of all the creative (and not-so-creative) work of humanity, the full summary of its knowledge. And it was all computerized in so complex a manner that it took experts to handle the computers.
What was more, the Library had survived. To Pelorat, that was the amazing thing about it. When Trantor had fallen and been sacked, nearly two and a half centuries before, it had undergone appalling destruction, and the tales of human misery and death would not bear repeating – yet the Library had survived, protected (it was said) by the University students, who used ingeniously devised weapons. (Some thought the defense by the students might well have been thoroughly romanticized.)
In any case, the Library had endured through the period of devastation. Ebling Mis had done his work in an intact Library in a ruined world when he had almost located the Second Foundation (according to the story which the people of the Foundation still believed, but which historians have always treated with reserve). The three generations of Darells – Bayta, Toran, and Arkady – had each, at one time or another, been on Trantor. However, Arkady had not visited the Library, and since her time the Library had not impinged on Galactic history.
No Foundationer had been on Trantor in a hundred and twenty years, but there was no reason to believe the Library was not still there. That it had made no impingement was the surest evidence in favor of its being there. Its destruction would surely have made a noise.
The Library was outmoded and archaic – it had been so even in Ebling Mis’s time – but that was all to the good. Pelorat always rubbed his hands with excitement when he thought of an old and outmoded Library. The older and the more outmoded, the more likely it was to have what he needed. In his dreams, he would enter the Library and ask in breathless alarm, “Has the Library been modemized? Have you thrown out the old tapes and computerizations?” And always he imagined the answer from dusty and ancient librarians, “As it has been, Professor, so is it still.”
And now his dream would come true. The Mayor herself had assured him of that. How she had known of his work, he wasn’t quite sure. He had not succeeded in publishing many papers. Little of what he had done was solid enough to be acceptable for publication and what had appeared had left no mark. Still, they said Branno the Bronze knew all that went on in Terminus and had eyes at the end of every finger and toe.
Pelorat could almost believe it, but if she knew of his work, why on Terminus didn’t she see its importance and give him a little financial support before this?
Somehow, he thought, with as much bitterness as he could generate, the Foundation had its eyes fixed firmly on the future. It was the Second Empire and their destiny that absorbed them. They had no time, no desire, to peer back into the past – and they were irritated by those who did.
The more fools they, of course, but he could not single-handedly wipe out folly. And it might be better so. He could hug the great pursuit to his own chest and the day would come when he would be remembered as the great Pioneer of the Important.
That meant, of course (and he was too intellectually honest to refuse to perceive it), that he, too, was absorbed in the future – a future in which he would be recognized, and in which he would be a hero on a par with Hari Seldon. In fact, he would be the greater, for how could the working out of a clearly visualized future a millennium long stand comparison with the working out of a lost past at least twenty-five millennia old.
And this was the day; this was the day.
The Mayor had said it would be the day after Seldon’s image made its appearance. That was the only reason Pelorat had been interested in the Seldon Crisis that for months had occupied every mind on Terminus and indeed almost every mind in the Federation.
It had seemed to him to make the most trifling difference as to whether the capital of the Foundation had remained here at Terminus, or had been shifted somewhere else. And now that the crisis had been resolved, he remained unsure as to which side of the matter Hari Seldon had championed, or if the matter under dispute had been mentioned at all.
It was enough that Seldon had appeared and that now this was the day.
It was a little after two in the afternoon that a ground-car slid to a halt in the driveway of his somewhat isolated house just outside Terminus proper.
A rear door slid back. A guard in the uniform of the Mayoralty Security Corps stepped out, then a young man, then two more guards.
Pelorat was impressed despite himself. The Mayor not only knew of his work but clearly considered it of the highest importance. The person who was to be his companion was given an honor guard, and he had been promised a first-class vessel which his companion would be able to pilot. Most flattering! Most –
Pelorat’s housekeeper opened the door. The young man entered and the two guards positioned themselves on either side of the entrance. Through the window, Pelorat saw that the third guard remained outside and that a second ground-car had now pulled up. Additional guards!
He turned to find the young man in his room and was surprised to find that he recognized him. He had seen him on holocasts. He said, “You’re that Councilman. You’re Trevize!”
“Golan Trevize. That’s right. You are Professor Janov Pelorat?”
“Yes, yes,” said Pelorat. “Are you he who will – “
“We are going to be fellow travelers,” said Trevize woodenly. “Or so I have been told.”
“But you’re not a historian.”
“No, I’m not. As you said, I’m a Councilman, a politician.”
“Yes, Yes, But what am I thinking about? I am a historian, therefore what need for another? You can pilot a spaceship.”
“Yes, I’m pretty good at that.”
“Well, that’s what we need, then. Excellent! I’m afraid I’m not one of your practical thinkers, young man, so if it should happen that you are, we’ll make a good team.”
Trevize said, “I am not, at the moment, overwhelmed with the excellence of my own thinking, but it seems we have no choice but to try to make it a good team.”
“Let’s hope, then, that I can overcome my uncertainty about space. I’ve never been in space, you know, Councilman. I am a groundhog, if that’s the term. Would you like a glass of tea, by the way? I’ll have Moda prepare us something. It is my understanding that it will be some hours before we leave, after all. I am prepared right now, however. I have what is necessary for both of us. The Mayor has been most co-operative. Astonishing – her interest in the project.”
Trevize said, “You’ve known about this, then? How long?”
“The Mayor approached me” (here Pelorat frowned slightly and seemed to be making certain calculations) “two, or maybe three, weeks ago. I was delighted. And now that I have got it clear in my head that I need a pilot and not a second historian, I am also delighted that my companion will be you, my dear fellow.”
“Two, maybe three, weeks ago,” repeated Trevize, sounding a little dazed. “She was prepared all this time, then. And I…” He faded out.
“Nothing, Professor. I have a bad habit of muttering to myself. It is something you will have to grow accustomed to, if our trip extends itself.”
“It will. It will,” said Pelorat, bustling the other to the dining room table, where an elaborate tea was being; prepared by his housekeeper. “Quite open-ended. The Mayor said we were to take as long as we liked and that the Galaxy lay all before us and, indeed, that wherever we went we could call upon Foundation funds. She said, of course, that we would have to be reasonable. I promised that much.” He chuckled and rubbed his hands: “Sit down, my good fellow, sit down. This may be our last meal on Terminus for a very long time.”
Trevize sat down. He said, “Do you have a family, Professor?”
“I have a son. He’s on the faculty at Santanni University. A chemist, I believe, or something like that. He took after his mother’s side. She hasn’t been with me for a long time, so you see I have no responsibilities, no active hostages to fortune. I trust you have none – help yourself to the sandwiches, my boy.”
“No hostages at the moment. A few women. They come and go.”
“Yes. Yes. Delightful when it works out. Even more delightful when you find it need not be taken seriously. – No children, I take it.
“Good! You know, I’m in the most remarkable good humor. I was taken aback when you first came in. I admit it. But I find you quite exhilarating now. What I need is youth and enthusiasm and someone who can find his way about the Galaxy. We’re on a search, you know. A remarkable search.” Pelorat’s quiet face and quiet voice achieved an unusual animation without any particular change in either expression or intonation. “I wonder if you have been told about this.
Trevize’s eyes narrowed. “A remarkable search?”
“Yes indeed. A pearl of great price is hidden among the tens of millions of inhabited worlds in the Galaxy and we have nothing but the faintest clues to guide us. just the same, it will be an incredible prize if we can find it. If you and I can carry it off, my boy – Trevize, I should say, for I don’t mean to patronize – our names will ring down the ages to the end of time.”
“The prize you speak of – this pearl of great price.”
“I sound like Arkady Darell – the writer, you know – speaking of the Second Foundation, don’t I? no wonder you look astonished.” Pelorat – leaned his head back as though he were going to break into loud laughter but he merely smiled. “Nothing so silly and unimportant, I assure you.”
Trevize said, “If you are not speaking of the Second Foundation, Professor, what are you speaking of?”
Pelorat was suddenly grave, even apologetic. “Ah, then the Mayor has not told you? – It is odd, you know. I’ve spent decades resenting the government and its inability to understand what I’m doing, and now Mayor Branno is being remarkably generous.”
“Yes,” said Trevize, not trying to conceal an intonation of irony, “she is a woman of remarkable hidden philanthropy, but she has not told me what this is all about.”
“You are not aware of my research, then?”
“No. I’m sorry.”
“No need to excuse yourself. Perfectly all right. I have not exactly made a splash. Then let me tell you. You and I are going to search for – and find, for I have an excellent possibility in mind – Earth.”
Trevize did not sleep well that night.
Over and over, he thrashed about the prison that the old woman had built around him. Nowhere could he find a way out.
He was being driven into exile and he could do nothing about it. She had been calmly inexorable and did not even take the trouble to mask the unconstitutionality of it all. He had relied on his rights as a Councilman and as a citizen of the Federation, and she hadn’t even paid them lip service.
And now this Pelorat, this odd academic who seemed to be located in the world without being part of it, told him that the fearsome old woman had been making arrangements for this for weeks.
He felt like the “boy” that she had called him.
He was to be exiled with a historian who kept “dear fellowing” him and who seemed to be in a noiseless fit of joy over beginning a Galactic search for – Earth?
What in the name of the Mule’s grandmother was Earth?
He had asked. Of course! He had asked upon the moment of its mention.
He had said, “Pardon me, Professor. I am ignorant of your specialty and I trust you won’t be annoyed if I ask for an explanation in simple terms. What is Earth?”
Pelorat stared at him gravely while twenty seconds moved slowly past. He said, “It is a planet. The original planet. The one on which human beings first appeared, my dear fellow.”
Trevize stared. “First appeared? From where?”
“From nowhere. It’s the planet on which humanity developed through evolutionary processes from lower animals.”
Trevize thought about it, then shook his head. “I don’t know what you mean.”
An annoyed expression crossed Pelorat’s face briefly. He cleared his throat and said, “There was a time when Terminus had no human beings upon it. It was settled by human beings from other worlds. You know that, I suppose?”
“Yes, of course,” said Trevize impatiently. He was irritated at the other’s sudden assumption of pedagogy.
“Very well. This is true of all the other worlds. Anacreon, Santanni, Kalgan – all of them. They were all, at some time in the past, founded. People arrived there from other worlds. It’s true even of Trantor. It may have been a great metropolis for twenty thousand years, but before that it wasn’t.”
“Why, what was it before that?”
“Empty? At least of human beings.”
“That’s hard to believe.”
“It’s true. The old records show it.”
“Where did the people come from who first settled Trantor?”
“No one is certain. There are hundreds of planets which claim to have been populated in the dim mists of antiquity and whose people present fanciful tales about the nature of the first arrival of humanity. Historians tend to dismiss such things and to brood over the ‘Origin Question.’”
“What is that? I’ve never heard of it.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. It’s not a popular historical problem now, I admit, but there was a time during the decay of the Empire when it roused a certain interest among intellectuals. Salvor Hardin mentions it briefly in his memoirs. It’s the question of the identity and location of the one Planet from which it all started. If ,we look backward in time, humanity flows inward from the most recently established worlds to older ones, to still older ones, until all concentrates on one – the original.”
Trevize thought at once of the obvious flaw in the argument. “Might there not have been a large number of originals?”
“Of course not. All human beings all over the Galaxy are of a single species. A single species cannot originate on more than one planet. Quite impossible.”
“How do you know?”
“In the first place.” Pelorat ticked off the first finger of his left hand with the first finger of his right, and then seemed to think better of what would undoubtedly have been a long and intricate exposition. He put both hands at his side and said with great earnestness, “My dear fellow, I give you my word of honor.”
Trevize bowed formally and said, “I would not dream of doubting it, Professor Pelorat. Let us say, then, that there is one planet of origin, but might there not be hundreds who lay claim to the honor?”
“There not only might be, there are. Yet every claim is without merit. Not one of those hundreds that aspire to the credit of priority shows any trace of a prehyperspatial society, let alone any trace of human evolution from prehuman organisms.”
“Then are you saying that there is a planet of origin, but that, for some reason, it is not making the claim?”
“You have hit it precisely.”
“And you are going to search for it?”
“We are. That is our mission. Mayor Branno has arranged it all. You will pilot our ship to Trantor.”
“To Trantor? It’s not the planet of origin. You said that much a while ago.”
“Of course Trantor isn’t. Earth is.”
“Then why aren’t you telling me to pilot the ship to Earth?”
“I am not making myself clear. Earth is a legendary name. It is enshrined in ancient myths. It has no meaning we can be certain of, but it is convenient to use the word as a one-syllable synonym for ‘the planet of origin of the human species.’ just which planet in real space is the one we are defining as ‘Earth’ is not known.”
“Will they know on Trantor?”
“I hope to find information there, certainly. Trantor possesses the Galactic Library, the greatest in the system.”
“Surely that Library has been searched by those people you said were interested in the ‘Origin Question’ in the time of the First Empire.”
Pelorat nodded thoughtfully, “Yes, but perhaps not well enough. I have learned a great deal about the ‘Origin Question’ that perhaps the Imperials of five centuries back did not know. I might search the old records with greater understanding, you see. I have been thinking about this for a long time and I have an excellent possibility in mind.”
“You have told Mayor Branno all this, I imagine, and she approves?”
“Approves? My dear fellow, she was ecstatic. She told me that Trantor was surely the place to find out all I needed to know.”
“No doubt,” muttered Trevize.
That was part of what occupied him that night. Mayor Branno was sending him out to find out what he could about the Second Foundation. She was sending him with Pelorat so that he might mask his real aim with the pretended search for Earth – a search that could carry him anywhere in the Galaxy. It was a perfect cover, in fact, and he admired the Mayor’s ingenuity.
But Trantor? Where was the sense in that? Once they were on Trantor, Pelorat would find his way into the Galactic Library and would never emerge. With endless stacks of books, films, and recordings, with innumerable computerizations and symbolic representations, he would surely never want to leave.
Besides that –
Ebling Mis had once gone to Trantor, in the Mule’s time. The story was that he had found the location of the Second Foundation there and had died before he could reveal it. But then, so had Arkady Darell, and she had succeeded in locating the Second Foundation. But the location she had found was on Terminus itself, and there the nest of Second Foundationers was wiped out. Wherever the Second Foundation was now would be elsewhere, so what more had Trantor to tell? If be were looking for the Second Foundation, it was best to go anywhere but Trantor.
Besides that –
What further plans Branno had, he did not know, but he was not in the mood to oblige her. Branno had been ecstatic, had she, about a trip to Trantor? Well, if Branno wanted Trantor, they were not going to Trantor! – Anywhere else. – But not Trantor!
And worn out, with the night verging toward dawn, Trevize fell at last into a fitful slumber.
Mayor Branno had had a good day on the one following the arrest of Trevize. She had been extolled far beyond her deserts and the incident was never mentioned.
Nevertheless, she knew well that the Council would soon emerge from its paralysis and that questions would be raised. She would have to act quickly. So, putting a great many matters to one side, she pursued the matter of Trevize.
At the time when Trevize and Pelorat were discussing Earth, Branno was facing Councilman Munn Li Compor in the Mayoralty Office. As he sat across the desk from her, perfectly at ease, she appraised him once again.
He was smaller and slighter than Trevize and only two years older. Both were freshmen Councilmen, young and brash, and that must have been the only thing that held them together, for they were different in all other respects.
Where Trevize seemed to radiate a glowering intensity, Compor shone with an almost serene self-confidence. Perhaps it was his blond hair and blue eyes, not at all common among Foundationers. They lent him an almost feminine delicacy that (Branno judged) made him less attractive to women than Trevize was. He was clearly vain of his looks, though, and made the most of them, wearing his hair rather long and making sure that it was carefully waved. He wore a faint blue shadowing under his eyebrows to accentuate the eye color. (Shadowing of various tints had become common among men these last ten years.)
He was no womanizer. He lived sedately with his wife, but had not yet registered parental intent and was not known to have a clandestine second companion. That, too, was different from Trevize, who changed housemates as often as he changed the loudly colored sashes for which he was notorious.
There was little about either young Councilman that Kodell’s department had not uncovered, and Kodell himself sat quietly in one corner of the room, exuding a comfortable good cheer as always.
Branno said, “Councilman Compor, you have done the Foundation good service, but unfortunately for yourself, it is not of the sort that can be praised in public or repaid in ordinary fashion.”
Compor smiled. He had white and even teeth, and Branno idly wondered, for one flashing moment if all the inhabitants of the Sirius Sector looked like that. Compor’s tale of stemming from that particular, rather peripheral, region went back to his maternal grandmother, who had also been blond-haired and blue-eyed and who had maintained that her mother was from the Sirius Sector. According to Kodell, however, there was no hard evidence in favor of that.
Women being what they were, Kodell had said, she might well have claimed distant and exotic ancestry to add to her glamour and her already formidable attractiveness.
“Is that how women are?” Branno had asked drily, and Kodell had smiled and muttered that he was referring to ordinary women, of course.
Compor said, “It is not necessary that the people of the Foundation know of my service – only that you do.”
“I know and I will not forget. What I also will not do is to let you assume that your obligations are now over. You have embarked on a complicated course and you must continue. We want more about Trevize.”
“I have told you all I know concerning him.”
“That may be what you would have me believe. That may even be what you truly believe yourself. Nevertheless, answer my questions. Do you know a gentleman named Janov Pelorat?”
For just a moment Compor’s forehead creased, then smoothed itself almost at once. He said carefully, “I might know him if I were to see him, but the name does not seem to cause any association within me.”
“He is a scholar.”
Compor’s mouth rounded into a rather contemptuous but unsounded “Oh?” as though he were surprised that the Mayor would expect him to know scholars.
Branno said, “Pelorat is an interesting person who, for reasons of his own, has the ambition of visiting Trantor. Councilman Trevize will accompany him. Now, since you have been a good friend of Trevize and . perhaps know his system of thinking, tell me. Do you think Trevize will consent to go to Trantor?”
Compor said, “If you see to it that Trevize gets on the ship, and if the ship is piloted to Trantor, what can he do but go there? Surely you don’t suggest he will mutiny and take over the ship.”
“You don’t understand. He and Pelorat will be alone on the ship and it will be Trevize at the controls.”
“You are asking whether he would go voluntarily to Trantor?”
“Yes, that is what I am asking.”
“Madam Mayor, how can I possibly know what he will do?”
“Councilman Compor, you have been close to Trevize. You know his belief in the existence of the Second Foundation. Has he never spoken to you of his theories as to where it might exist, where it might be found?”
“Never, Madam Mayor.”
“Do you think he will find it?”
Compor chuckled. “I think the Second Foundation, whatever it was and however important it might have been, was wiped out in the time of Arkady Darell. I believe her story.”
“Indeed? In that case, why did you betray your friend? If he were searching for something that does not exist, what harm could he have done by propounding his quaint theories?”
Compor said, “It is not the truth alone that can harm. His theories may have been merely quaint, but they might have succeeded in unsettling the people of Terminus and, by introducing doubts and fears as to the Foundation’s role in the great drama of Galactic history, have weakened its leadership of the Federation and its dreams of a Second Galactic Empire. Clearly you thought this yourself, or you would not have seized him on the floor of the Council, and you would not now be forcing him into exile without trial. Why have you done so, if I may ask, Mayor?”
“Shall we say that I was cautious enough to wonder if there were some faint chance that he might be right, and that the expression of his views might be actively and directly dangerous?”
Compor said nothing.
Branno said, “I agree with you, but I am forced by the responsibilities of my position to consider the possibility. Let me ask you again if you have any indication as to where he might think the Second Foundation exists, and where he might go.”
“I have none.”
“He has never given you any hints in that direction?”
“No, of course not.”
“Never? Don’t dismiss the thought easily. Think! Never?”
“Never,” said Compor firmly.
“No hints? no joking remarks? no doodles? no thoughtful abstractions at moments that achieve significance as you look back on them?”
“None. I tell you, Madam Mayor, his dreams of the Second Foundation are the most nebulous starshine. You know it, and you but waste your time and your emotions in your concern over it.”
“You are not by some chance suddenly changing sides again and protecting the friend you delivered into my hands?”
“No,” said Compor. “I turned him over to you for what seemed to me to be good and patriotic reasons. I have no reason to regret the action, or to change my attitude.”
“Then you can give me no hint as to where he might go once he has a ship at his disposal?”
“As I have already said…”
“And yet, Councilman,” and here the lines of the Mayor’s face so folded as to make her seem wistful, “I would like to know where he goes.”
“In that case, I think you ought to place a hyper-relay on his ship.”
“I have thought of that, Councilman. He is, however, a suspicious man and I suspect he will find it – however cleverly it might be placed. Of course, it might be placed in such a way that he cannot remove it without crippling the ship, and he might therefore be forced to leave it in place…”
“An excellent notion.”
“Except that,” said Branno, “he would then be inhibited. He might not go where he would go if he felt himself free and untrammeled. The knowledge I would gain would be useless to me.”
“In that case, it appears you cannot find out where he will go.”
“I might, for I intend to be very primitive. A person who expects the completely sophisticated and who guards against it is quite apt never to think of the primitive. – I’m thinking of having Trevize followed.”
“Exactly. By, another pilot in another spaceship. See how astonished you are at the thought? He would be equally astonished. He might not think of scouring space for an accompanying mass and, in any case, we will see to it that his ship is not equipped with our latest mass-detection devices.”
Compor said, “Madam Mayor, I speak with all possible respect, but I must point out that you lack experience in space flight. To have one ship followed by another is never done – because it won’t work. Trevize will escape with the first hyperspatial jump. Even if he doesn’t know he is being followed, that first jump will be his path to freedom. If he doesn’t have a hyper-relay on board ship, he can’t be traced.”
“I admit my lack of experience. Unlike you and Trevize, I have had no naval training. Nevertheless, I am told by my advisers – who have had such training – that if a ship is observed immediately prior to a jump, its direction, speed, and acceleration make it possible to guess what the jump might be – in a general way. Given a good computer and an excellent sense of judgment, a follower might duplicate the jump closely enough to pick up the trail at the other end – especially if the follower has a good mass-detector.”
“That might happen once,” said Compor energetically, “even twice if the follower is very lucky, but that’s it. You can’t rely on such things.”
“Perhaps we can. – Councilman Compor, you have hyper-raced in your time. You see, I know a great deal about you. You are an excellent pilot and have done amazing things when it comes to following a competitor through a jump.”
Compor’s eyes widened. He almost squirmed in his chair. “I was in college then. I am older now.”
“Not too old. Not yet thirty-five. Consequently you are going to follow Trevize, Councilman. Where he goes, you will follow, and you will report back to me. You will leave soon after Trevize does, and he will be leaving in a few hours. If you refuse the task, Councilman, you will be imprisoned for treason. If you take the ship that we will provide for you, and if you fail to follow, you need not bother coming back. You will be shot out of space if you try.”
Compor rose sharply to his feet. “! have a life to live. I have work to do. I have a wife. I cannot leave it all.”
“You will have to. Those of us who choose to serve the Foundation must be prepared at ail times to serve it in a prolonged and uncomfortable fashion, if that should become necessary.”
“My wife must go with me, of course.”
“Do you take me for an idiot? She stays here, of course.”
“As a hostage?”
“If you like the word. I prefer to say that you will be taking yourself into danger and my kind heart wants her to stay here where she will not be in danger. – There is no room for discussion. You are as much under arrest as Trevize is, and I am sure you understand I must act quickly – before the euphoria enveloping Terminus wears off. I fear my star will soon be in the descendant.”
Kodell said, “You were not easy on him, Madam Mayor.”
The Mayor said with a sniff, “Why should I have been? He betrayed a friend.”
“That was useful to us.”
“Yes, as it happened. His next betrayal, however, might not be.”
“Why should there be another?”
“Come, Liono,” said Branno impatiently, “don’t play games with me. Anyone who displays a capacity for double-dealing must forever be suspected of being capable of displaying it again.”
“He may use the capability to combine with Trevize once again. Together, they may…”
“You don’t believe that. With all his folly and naivete, Trevize goes straight for his goal. He does not understand betrayal and he will never, under any circumstances, trust Compor a second time.”
Kodell said, “Pardon me, Mayor, but let me make sure I follow your thinking. How far, then, can you trust Compor? How do you know he will follow Trevize and report honestly? Do you count on his fears for the welfare of his wife as a restraint? His longing to return to her?”
“Both are factors, but I don’t entirely rely on that. On Compor’s ship there will be a hyper-relay. Trevize would suspect pursuit and would search for one. However Compor – being the pursuer – will, I assume, not suspect pursuit and will not search for one. – Of course, if he does, and if he finds it, then we must depend on the attractions of his wife.”
Kodell laughed. “To think I once had to give you lessons. And the purpose of the pursuit?”
“A double layer of protection. If Trevize is caught, it may be that
Compor will carry on and give us the information that Trevize will not be able to.”
“One more question. What if, by some chance, Trevize finds the Second Foundation, and we learn of it through him, or through Compor, or if we gain reason to suspect its existence – despite the deaths of both?”
“I’m hoping the Second Foundation does exist, Liono,” she said. “In any case, the Seldon Plan is not going to serve us much longer. The great Hari Seldon devised it in the dying days of the Empire, when technological advance had virtually stopped. Seldon was a product of his times, too, and however brilliant this semimythical science of psychohistory must have been, it could not rise out of its roots. It surely would not allow for raid technological advance. The Foundation has been achieving that, especially in this last century. We have mass-detection devices of a kind undreamed of earlier, computers that can respond to thought, and – most of all – mental shielding. The Second Foundation cannot control us for much longer, if they can do so now. I want, in my final years in power, to be the one to start Terminus on a new path.”
“And if there is, in fact, no Second Foundation?”
“Then we start on a new path at once.”
The troubled sleep that had finally come to Trevize did not last long. A touch on his shoulder was repeated a second time.
Trevize started up, bleary and utterly failing to understand why he should be in a strange bed. “What – What – ?”
Pelorat said to him apologetically, “I’m sorry, Councilman Trevize. You are my guest and I owe you rest, but the Mayor is here.” He was standing at the side of the bed in flannel pajamas and shivering slightly. Trevize’s senses leaped to a weary wakefulness and he remembered.
The Mayor was in Pelorat’s living room, looking as composed as always. Kodell was with her, rubbing lightly at his white mustache.
Trevize adjusted his sash to the proper snugness and wondered how long the two of them – Branno and Kodell – were ever apart.
Trevize said mockingly, ” Has the Council recovered yet? Are its members concerned over the absence of one of them?”
The Mayor said, “There are signs of life, yes, but not enough to do you any good. There is no question but that I still have the power to force you to leave. You will be taken to Ultimate Spaceport…”
“Not Terminus Spaceport, Madam Mayor? Am I to be deprived of a proper farewell from weeping thousands?”
“I see you have recovered your penchant for teenage silliness, Councilman, and I am pleased. It stills what might otherwise be a certain rising twinge of conscience. At Ultimate Spaceport, you and Professor Pelorat will leave quietly.”
“And never return?”
“And perhaps never return. Of course,” and here she smiled briefly, “if you discover something of so great an importance and usefulness that even I will be glad to have you back with your information, you will return. You may even be treated with honor.”
Trevize nodded casually, “That may happen.”
“Almost anything may happen. – In any case, you will be comfortable. You are being assigned a recently completed pocket-cruiser, the Far Star, named for Hober Mallow’s cruiser. One person can handle it, though it will hold as many as three with reasonable comfort.”
Trevize was jolted out of his carefully assumed mood of light irony. “Fully armed?”
“Unarmed but otherwise fully equipped. Wherever you go, you will be citizens of the Foundation and there will always be a consul to whom you can turn, so you will not require arms. You will be able to draw on funds at need. – Not unlimited funds, I might add.”
“You are generous.”
“I know that, Councilman. But, Councilman, understand me. You are helping Professor Pelorat search for Earth. Whatever you think you are searching for, you are searching for Earth. All whom you meet must understand that. And always remember that the Far Star is not armed.”
“I am searching for Earth;” said Trevize. “I understand that perfectly.”
“Then you will go now.”
“Pardon me, but surely there is more to all of this than we have discussed. I have piloted ships in my time, but I have had no experience with a late-model pocket-cruiser. What if I cannot pilot it?”
“I am told that the Far Star is thoroughly computerized. – And before you ask, you don’t have to know how to handle a late-model ship’s computer. It will itself tell you anything you need to know. Is there anything else you need?”
Trevize looked down at himself ruefully. “A change of clothing.”
“You will find them on board ship. Including those girdles you wear, or sashes, whichever they are called. The professor is also supplied with what he needs. Everything reasonable is already aboard, although I hasten to add that this does not include female companions.”
“Too bad,” said Trevize. “It would be pleasant, but then, I have no likely candidate at the moment, as it happens. Still, I presume the Galaxy is populous and that once away from here I may do as I Please.”
“With regard to companions? Suit yourself.”
She rose heavily. “I will not take you to the spaceport,” she said, “but there are those who will, and you must make no effort to do anything you are not told to do. I believe they will kill you if you make an effort to escape. The fact that I will not be with them will remove any inhibition.”
Trevize said, “I will make no unauthorized effort, Madam Mayor, but one thing…”
Trevize searched his mind rapidly and finally said with a smile that he very much hoped looked unforced, “The time may come, Madam Mayor, when you will ask me for an effort. I will then do as I choose, but I will remember the past two days.”
Mayor Branno sighed. “Spare me the melodrama. If the time comes, it will come, but for now – I am asking for nothing.”