Forward the Foundation Chapter 28
It was a lovely day, neither too warm nor too cold, not too bright nor too gray. Even though the groundskeeping budget had given out years ago, the few straggly perennials lining the steps leading up to the Galactic Library managed to add a cheerful note to the morning. (The Library, having been built in the classical style of antiquity, was fronted with one of the grandest stairways to be found in the entire Empire, second only to the steps at the Imperial Palace itself. Most Library visitors, however, preferred to enter via the gliderail) Seldon had high hopes for the day.
Since he and Stettin Palver had been cleared of all charges in their recent assault and battery case, Hari Seldon felt like a new man. Although the experience had been painful, its very public nature had advanced Seldon’s cause. Judge Tejan Popjens Lih, who was considered one of, if not the most influential judge on Trantor, had been quite vociferous in her opinion, delivered the day following Rial Nevas’s emotional testimony.
“When we come to such a crossroads in our ‘civilized’ society,” the judge intoned from her bench, “that a man of Professor Hari Seldon’s standing is made to bear the humiliation, abuse, and lies of his peers simply because of who he is and what he stands for, it is truly a dark day for the Empire. I admit that I, too, was taken in-at first. ‘Why wouldn’t Professor Seldon,’ I reasoned, ‘resort to such trickery in an attempt to prove his predictions?’ But, as I came to see, I was most grievously wrong.” Here the judge’s brow furrowed, a dark blue flush began creeping up her neck and into her cheeks. “For I was ascribing to Professor Seldon motives born of our new society, a society in which honesty, decency, and goodwill are likely to get one killed, a society in which it appears one must resort to dishonesty and trickery merely to survive.
“How far we have strayed from our founding principles. We were lucky this time, fellow citizens of Trantor. We owe a debt of thanks to Professor Hari Seldon for showing us our true selves; let us take his example to heart and resolve to be vigilant against the baser forces of our human nature.”
Following the hearing, the Emperor had sent Seldon a congratulatory holo-disc. On it he expressed the hope that perhaps now Seldon would find renewed funding for his Project.
As Seldon slid up the entrance gliderail, he reflected on the current status of his Psychohistory Project. His good friend-the former Chief Librarian Las Zenow-had retired. During his tenure, Zenow had been a strong proponent of Seldon and his work. More often than not, however, Zenow’s hands had been tied by the Library Board. But, he had assured Seldon, the affable new Chief Librarian, Tryma Acarnio, was as progressive as he himself, and was popular with many factions among the Board membership.
“Hari, my friend,” Zenow had said before leaving Trantor for his home world of Wencory, “Acarnio is a good man, a person of deep intellect and an open mind. I’m sure he’ll do all that he can to help you and the Project. I’ve left him the entire data file on you and your EncyIopedia; I know he’ll be as excited as I about the contribution to humanity it represents. Take care, my friend-I’ll remember you fondly.”
And so today Hari Seldon was to have his first official meeting with the new Chief Librarian. He was cheered by the reassurances Las Zenow had left with him and he was looking forward to sharing his plans for the future of the Project and the Encyclopedia.
Tryma Acarnio stood as Hari entered the Chief Librarian’s office.
Already he had made his mark on the place; whereas Zenow had stuffed every nook and cranny of the room with holo-discs and tridijournals from the different sectors of Trantor, and a dizzying array of visiglobes representing various worlds of the Empire had spun in midair, Acarnio had swept clear the mounds of data and images that Zenow had liked to keep at his fingertips. A large holoscreen now dominated one wall on which, Seldon presumed, Acarnio could view any publication or broadcast that he desired.
Acarnio was short and stocky, with a slightly distracted look-from a childhood corneal correction that had gone awry-that belied a fearsome intelligence and constant awareness of everything going on around him at all times.
“Well, well. Professor Seldon. Come in. Sit down.” Acarnio gestured to a straight-backed chair facing the desk at which he sat. “It was, I felt, quite fortuitous that you requested this meeting. You see, I had intended to get in touch with you as soon as I settled in.”
Seldon nodded, pleased that the new Chief Librarian had considered him enough of a priority to plan to seek him out in the hectic early days of his tenure.
“But, first, Professor, please let me know why you wanted to see me before we move on to my, most likely, more prosaic concerns.”
Seldon cleared his throat and leaned forward. “Chief Librarian, Las Zenow has no doubt told you of my work here and of my idea for an Encyclopedia Galactica. Las was quite enthusiastic, and a great help, providing a private office for me here and unlimited access to the Library’s vast resources. In fact, it was he who located the eventual home of the Encyclopedia Project, a remote Outer World called Terminus.
“There was one thing, however, that Las could not provide. In order to keep the Project on schedule, I must have office space and unlimited access granted to a number of my colleagues, as well. It is an enormous undertaking, just gathering the information to be copied and transferred to Terminus before we can begin the actual work of compiling the Encyclopedia.
“Las was not popular with the Library Board, as you undoubtedly are aware. You, however, are. And so I ask you, Chief Librarian: Will you see to it that my colleagues are granted insiders’ privileges so that we may continue our most vital work?”
Here Hari stopped, almost out of breath. He was sure that his speech, which he had gone over and over in his mind the night before, would have the desired effect. He waited, confident in Acarnio’s response.
“Professor Seldon,” Acarnio began. Seldon’s expectant smile faded. There was an edge to the Chief Librarian’s voice that Seldon had not expected. “My esteemed predecessor provided me-in exhaustive detail-an explication of your work here at the Library. He was quite enthusiastic about your research and committed to the idea of your colleagues joining you here. As was I, Professor Seldon”-at Acarnio’s pause, Seldon looked up sharply-“at first. I was prepared to call a special meeting of the Board to propose that a larger suite of offices be prepared for you and your Encyclopedists. But, Professor Seldon, all that has now changed.”
“Changed! But why?”
“Professor Seldon, you have just finished serving as principal defendant in a most sensational assault and battery case.”
“But I was acquitted,” Seldon broke in. “The case never even made it to trial.”
“Nonetheless, Professor, your latest foray into the public eye has given you an undeniable-how shall I say it?-tinge of ill repute. Oh yes, you were acquitted of all charges. But in order to get to that acquittal, your name, your past, your beliefs, and your work were paraded before the eyes of all the worlds. And even if one progressive right-thinking judge has proclaimed you faultless, what of the millions-perhaps billions-of other average citizens who see not a pioneering psychohistorian striving to preserve his civilization’s glory but a raving lunatic shouting doom and gloom for the great and mighty Empire?
“You, by the very nature of your work, are threatening the essential fabric of the Empire. I don’t mean the huge, nameless, faceless, monolithic Empire. No, I am referring to the heart and soul of the Empire-its people. When you tell them the Empire is failing, you are saying that they are failing. And this, my dear Professor, the average citizen cannot face.
“Seldon, like it or not, you have become an object of derision, a subject of ridicule, a laughingstock.”
“Pardon me, Chief Librarian, but for years now I have been, to some circles, a laughingstock.”
“Yes, but only to some circles. But this latest incident-and the very public forum in which it was played out-has opened you up to ridicule not only here on Trantor but throughout the worlds. And, Professor, if, by providing you an office, we, the Galactic Library, give tacit approval to your work, then, by inference, we, the Library, also become a laughingstock throughout the worlds. And no matter how strongly I may personally believe in your theory and your Encyclopedia, as Chief Librarian of the Galactic Library on Trantor, I must think of the Library first.
“And so, Professor Seldon, your request to bring in your colleagues is denied.”
Hari Seldon jerked back in his chair as if struck.
“Further,” Acarnio continued, “I must advise you of a two-week temporary suspension of all Library privileges-effective immediately. The Board has called that special meeting, Professor Seldon. In two weeks’ time we will notify you whether or not we’ve decided that our association with you must be terminated.”
Here, Acarnio stopped speaking and, placing his palms on the glossy, spotless surface of his desk, stood up. “That is all, Professor Seldon-for now.”
Hari Seldon stood as well, although his upward movement was not as smooth, nor as quick, as Tryma Acarnio’s.
“May I be permitted to address the Board?” asked Seldon. “Perhaps if I were able to explain to them the vital importance of psychohistory and the Encyclopedia-“
“I’m afraid not, Professor,” said Acarnio softly and Seldon caught a brief glimmer of the man Las Zenow had told him about. But, just as quickly, the icy bureaucrat was back as Acarnio guided Seldon to the door.
As the portals slid open, Acarnio said, “Two weeks, Professor Seldon. Till then.” Hari stepped through to his waiting skitter and the doors slid shut.
What am I going to do now? wondered Seldon disconsolately. Is this the end of my work?
“Wanda dear, what is it that has you so engrossed?” asked Hari Seldon as he entered his granddaughter’s office at Streeling University. The room had been the office of the brilliant mathematician Yugo Amaryl, whose death had impoverished the Psychohistory Project. Fortunately,
Wanda had gradually taken over Yugo’s role in recent years, further refining and adjusting the Prime Radiant.
“Why, I’m working on an equation in Section 33A2D17. See, I’ve recalibrated this section”-she gestured to a glowing violet patch suspended in midair in front of her face-‘taking into consideration the standard quotient and-There! Just what I thought-I think.” She stepped back and rubbed her eyes.
“What is it, Wanda?” Hari moved in closer to study the equation. “Why, this looks like the Terminus equation and yet… Wanda, this is an inverse of the Terminus equation, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Grandpa. See, the numbers weren’t working quite right in the Terminus equation-look.” Wanda touched a contact in a recessed wallstrip and another patch sprang to life in vivid red on the other side of the room. Seldon and Wanda walked over to inspect it. “You see how it’s all hanging together fine now, Grandpa? It’s taken me weeks to get it this way.”
“How did you do it?” asked Hari, admiring the equation’s lines, its logic, its elegance.
“At first, I concentrated on it from over here only. I blocked out all else. In order to get Terminus to work, work on Terminus-stands to reason, doesn’t it? But then I realized that I couldn’t just introduce this equation into the Prime Radiant system and expect it to blend right in smoothly, as if nothing happened. A placement means a displacement somewhere else. A weight needs a counterweight.”
“I think the concept to which you are referring is what the ancients called ‘yin and yang.’ “
“Yes, more or less. Yin and yang. So, you see, I realized that to perfect the yin of Terminus, I had to locate its yang. Which I did, over there.” She moved back to the violet patch, tucked away at the other edge of the Prime Radiant sphere. “And once I adjusted the figures here, the Terminus equation fell into place as well. Harmony!” Wanda looked pleased with herself, as if she’d solved all the problems of the Empire.
“Fascinating, Wanda, and later on you must tell me what you think it all means for the Project. But right now you must come with me to the holoscreen. I received an urgent message from Santanni a few minutes ago. Your father wants us to call him immediately.”
Wanda’s smile faded. She had been alarmed at the recent reports of fighting on Santanni. As Imperial budget cutbacks went into effect, the citizens of the Outer Worlds suffered most. They had limited access to the richer, more populous Inner Worlds and it became more and more difficult to trade their worlds’ products for much needed imports. Imperial hyperships going in and out of Santanni were few and the distant world felt isolated from the rest of the Empire. Pockets of rebellion had erupted throughout the planet.
“Grandfather, I hope everything’s all right,” said Wanda, her fear revealed by her voice.
“Don’t worry, dear. After all, they must be safe if Raych was able to send us a message.”
In Seldon’s office, he and Wanda stood before the holoscreen as it activated. Seldon punched a code on the keypad alongside the screen and they waited a few seconds for the intragalactic connection to be established. Slowly the screen seemed to stretch back into the wall, as if it were the entrance to a tunnel-and out of the tunnel, dimly at first, came the familiar figure of a stocky powerfully built man. As the connection sharpened, the man’s features became clearer. When Seldon and Wanda were able to make out Raych’s bushy Dahlite mustache, the figure sprang to life.
“Dad! Wanda!” said Raych’s three-dimensional hologram, projected to Trantor from Santanni. “Listen, I don’t have much time.” He flinched, as if startled by a loud noise. “Things have gotten pretty bad here. The government has fallen and a provisional party has taken over. Things are a mess, as you can imagine. I just put Manella and Bellis on a hypership to Anacreon. I told them to get in touch with you from there. The name of the ship is the Arcadia VII.
“You should have seen Manella, Dad. Mad as anything that she had to go. The only way I was able to convince her to leave was to point out that it was for Bellis’s sake.
“I know what you’re thinking, Dad and Wanda. Of course I would have gone with them-if I could have. But there wasn’t enough room. You should’ve seen what I had to go through just to get them onto the ship.” Raych flashed one of his lopsided grins that Seldon and Wanda loved so much, then continued. “Besides, since I’m here, I have to help guard the University-we may be part of the Imperial University system, but we’re a place of learning and building, not of destruction. I tell you, if one of those hot-headed Santanni rebels comes near our stuff-“
“Raych,” Hari broke in, “How bad is it? Are you close to the fighting?”
“Dad, are you in danger?” asked Wanda.
They waited a few seconds for their message to travel the nine thousand parsecs across the Galaxy to Raych.
“I-I-I couldn’t quite make out what you said,” the hologram replied. “There’s a bit of fighting going on. It’s sort of exciting, actually,” Raych said, breaking into that grin again. “So I’m going to sign off now. Remember, find out what happened to the Arcadia VII going to Anacreon. I’ll be back in touch as soon as I’m able. Remember, I-” The transmission broke off and the hologram faded. The holoscreen tunnel collapsed in on itself so that Seldon and Wanda were left staring at a blank wall.
“Grandpa,” said Wanda, “what do you think he was going to say?”
“I have no idea, dear. But there is one thing I do know and that is that your father can take care of himself. I pity any rebel who gets near enough for a well-placed Twist-kick from your dad! Come, let’s get back to that equation and in a few hours we’ll check on the Arcadia VII.”
“Commander, have you no idea what happened to the ship?” Hari Seldon was again engaged in intragalactic conversation, but this time it was with an Imperial navy commander stationed at Anacreon. For this communication, Seldon was making use of the visiscreen-much less realistic than the holoscreen but also much simpler.
“I’m telling you, Professor, that we have no record of that hypership requesting permission to enter the Anacreonic atmosphere. Of course, communications with Santanni have been broken for several hours and sporadic at best for the last week. It is possible that the ship tried to reach us on a Santanni-based channel and could not get through, but I doubt it.
“No, it’s more likely that the Arcadia VII changed destination. Voreg, perhaps, or Sarip. Have you tried either of those worlds, Professor?”
“No,” said Seldon wearily, “but I see no reason if the ship was bound for Anacreon that it would not go to Anacreon. Commander, it is vital that I locate that ship.”
“Of course,” the commander ventured, “the Arcadia VII might not have made it. Out safely, I mean. There’s a lot of fighting going on. Those rebels don’t care who they blow up. They just train their lasers and pretend it’s the Emperor Agis they’re blasting. I tell you, it’s a whole different game out here on the fringe, Professor.”
“My daughter-in-law and granddaughter are on that ship, Commander,” Seldon said in a tight voice.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Professor,” said an abashed commander. “I’ll be in touch with you as soon as I hear anything.”
Dispiritedly Hari closed the visiscreen contact. How tired I am, he thought. And, he mused, I’m not surprised-I’ve known that this would come for nearly forty years.
Seldon chuckled bitterly to himself. Perhaps that commander had thought he was shocking Seldon, impressing him with the vivid detail of life “on the fringe.” But Seldon knew all about the fringe. And as the fringe came apart, like a piece of knitting with one loose thread, the whole piece would unravel to the core: Trantor.
Seldon became aware of a soft buzzing sound. It was the door signal. “Yes?”
“Grandpa,” said Wanda, entering the office, “I’m scared.”
“Why, dear?” asked Seldon with concern. He didn’t want to tell her yet what he had learned-or hadn’t learned-from the commander on Anacreon.
“Usually, although they’re so far away, I feel Dad and Mom and Bellis-feel them in here”-she pointed to her head-“and in here”-she placed her hand over her heart. “But now, today, I don’t feel them-it feels less, as if they’re fading, like one of the dome bulbs. And I want to stop it. I want to pull them back, but I can’t.”
“Wanda, I really think this is merely a product of your concern for your family in light of the rebellion. You know that uprisings occur all over the Empire all the time-little eruptions to let off steam. Come now, you know that chances of anything happening to Raych, Manella, or Bellis are vanishingly small. Your dad will call any day to say all is well; your mom and Bellis will land on Anacreon at any moment and enjoy a little vacation. We are the ones to be pitied-we’re stuck here up to our ears in work! So, sweetheart, go to bed and think only good thoughts. I promise you, tomorrow, under the sunny dome, things will look much better.”
“All right, Grandpa,” said Wanda, not sounding entirely convinced. “But tomorrow-if we haven’t heard by tomorrow-we’ll have to-to-“
“Wanda, what can we do, except wait?” asked Hari, his voice gentle.
Wanda turned and left, the weight of her worries showing in the slope of her shoulders. Hari watched her go, finally allowing his own worries to come to the surface.
It had been three days since the hologram transmission from Raych. Since then-nothing. And today the naval commander at Anacreon denied ever having heard of a ship called Arcadia VII
Hari had tried earlier to get through to Raych on Santanni, but all communication beams were down. It was as if Santanni-and the Arcadia VII-had simply broken off from the Empire, like a petal from a flower.
Seldon knew what he had to do now. The Empire might be down, but it was not out. Its power, when properly wielded, was still awesome. Seldon placed an emergency transmission to Emperor Agis XIV.
“What a surprise-my friend Hari!” Agis’s visage beamed at Seldon through the holoscreen. “I am glad to hear from you, although you usually request the more formal personal audience. Come, you’ve piqued my interest. Why the urgency?”
“Sire,” began Seldon, “my son, Raych, and his wife and daughter live on Santanni.”
“Ah, Santanni,” the Emperor said as his smile faded. “A bunch of misguided wretches if I eve -“
“Sire, please,” broke in Seldon, surprising both the Emperor and himself with this flagrant breach of Imperial protocol. “My son was able to get Manella and Bellis onto a hypership, the Arcadia VII, bound for Anacreon. He, however, had to remain. That was three days ago. The ship has not landed at Anacreon. And my son seems to have disappeared. My calls to Santanni have gone unanswered and now the communication beams are broken.
“Please, Sire, can you help me?”
“Hari, as you know, officially all ties between Santanni and Trantor have been severed. However, I still hold some influence in selected areas of Santanni. That is, there are still a few loyal to me who have not yet been found out. Although I cannot make direct contact with any of my operatives on that world, I can share with you any reports I receive from there. These are, of course, highly confidential, but considering your situation and our relationship, I will allow you access to those pieces that might interest you.
“I am expecting another dispatch within the hour. If you like, I’ll recontact you when it arrives. In the meantime, I’ll have one of my aides go over all transmissions from Santanni for the past three days to look for anything pertaining to Raych, Manella, or Bellis Seldon.”
“Thank you, Sire. I thank you most humbly.” And Hari Seldon dipped his head as the Emperor’s image faded from the holoscreen.
Sixty minutes later Hari Seldon was still sitting at his desk, waiting to hear from the Emperor. The past hour had been one of the most difficult he had ever spent, second only to the hours after Dors’s destruction.
It was the not knowing that did Hari in. He had made a career of knowing-the future as well as the present. And now he had no idea at all about three of the people most precious to him.
The holoscreen buzzed softly and Hari pressed a contact in response. Agis appeared.
“Hari,” began the Emperor. From the soft slow sadness in his voice, Hari knew this call brought bad news.
“My son,” said Hari.
“Yes,” replied the Emperor. “Raych was killed, earlier today, in a bombardment on Santanni University. I’ve learned from my sources that Raych knew the attack was coming but refused to desert his post. You see, a good number of the rebels are students and Raych felt that if they knew that he was still there, they would never… But hate overcame all reason.
“The University is, you see, an Imperial University. The rebels feel they must destroy all things Imperial before rebuilding anew. The fools! Why-” And here Agis stopped, as if suddenly realizing that Seldon did not care about Santanni University or the plans of the rebels-not right now, at least.
“Hari, if it makes you feel any better, remember that your son died in defense of knowledge. It was not the Empire Raych fought and died for but humanity itself.”
Seldon looked up out of tear-filled eyes. Weakly he asked, “And Manella and little Bellis? What of them? Have you found the Arcadia Hl?”
“That search has proved fruitless, Hari. The Arcadia VII left Santanni, as you were told. But it seems to have disappeared. It may have been hijacked by rebels or it may have made an emergency detour-at this point, we just don’t know.”
Seldon nodded. “Thank you, Agis. Although you have brought me tragic news, at least you have brought it. Not knowing was worse. You are a true friend.”
“And so, my friend,” said the Emperor, “I’ll leave you to yourself now-and your memories.” The Emperor’s image faded from the screen as Hari Seldon folded his arms in front of him on his desk, put his head down, and wept.
Wanda Seldon adjusted the waistband of her unisuit, pulling it a little tighter around her middle. Taking up a hand hoe, she attacked some weeds that had sprung up in her small flower garden outside the Psychohistory Building at Streeling. Generally Wanda spent the bulk of her time in her office, working with her Prime Radiant. She found solace in its precise statistical elegance; the unvarying equations were somehow reassuring in this Empire gone so crazy. But when thoughts of her beloved father, mother, and baby sister became too much to bear, when even her research could not keep her mind off the horrible losses she’d so recently undergone, Wanda invariably found herself out here, scratching at the terraformed ground, as if coaxing a few plants to life might somehow, in some tiny measure, ameliorate her pain.
Since her father’s death a month ago and the disappearance of Manella and Bellis, Wanda, who had always been slim, had been losing weight. Whereas a few months ago Hari Seldon would have been concerned over his darling granddaughter’s loss of appetite, now he, stuck in his own grief, seemed not to notice.
A profound change had come over Hari and Wanda Seldon-and the few remaining members of the Psychohistory Project. Hari seemed to have given up. He now spent most of his days sitting in an armchair in the Streeling solarium, staring out at the University grounds, warmed by the bright bulbs overhead. Occasionally Project members told Wanda that his bodyguard, a man named Stettin Palver, would badger Seldon into a walk out under the dome or try to engage him in a discussion of the future direction of the Project.
Wanda retreated deeper into her study of the Prime Radiant’s fascinating equations. She could feel the future her grandfather had worked so hard to achieve finally taking shape, and he was right: The Encyclopedists must be established on Terminus; they would be the Foundation.
And Section 33A2D17-in it Wanda could see what Seldon referred to as the Second, or secret, Foundation. But how? Without Seldon’s active interest, Wanda was at a loss as to how to proceed. And her sorrow over the destruction of her family cut so deep that she didn’t seem to have the strength to figure it out.
The members of the Project itself, those fifty or so hardy souls who remained, continued their work as well as possible. The majority were Encyclopedists, researching the source materials they would need to copy and catalogue for their eventual move to Terminus-when and if they gained full access to the Galactic Library. At this point, they were working on faith alone. Professor Seldon had lost his private office at the Library, so the prospects of any other Project member gaining special access were slim.
The remaining Project members (other than the Encyclopedists) were historical analysts and mathematicians. The historians interpreted past and current human actions and events, turning their findings over to the mathematicians, who in turn fit those pieces into the great Psychohistorical Equation. It was long painstaking work.
Many Project members had left because the rewards were so few-psychohistorians were the butt of many jokes on Trantor and limited funds had forced Seldon to enact drastic pay cuts. But the constant reassuring presence of Hari Seldon had-till now-overcome the difficult working conditions of the Project. Indeed, the Project members who had stayed on had, to a person, done so out of respect and devotion to Professor Seldon.
Now, thought Wanda Seldon bitterly, what reason is left for them to stay? A light breeze blew a piece of her blond hair across her eyes; she pushed it back absentmindedly and continued her weeding.
“Miss Seldon, may I have a moment of your time?” Wanda turned and looked up. A young man-she judged him to be in his early twenties-stood on the gravel path next to her. She immediately sensed him to be strong and fearsomely intelligent. Her grandfather had chosen wisely. Wanda rose to speak with him.
“I recognize you. You are my grandfather’s bodyguard, are you not? Stettin Palver, I believe?”
“Yes, that’s correct, Miss Seldon,” Palver said and his cheeks reddened slightly, as if he were pleased that so pretty a girl should have given him any notice. “Miss Seldon, it is your grandfather I’d like to talk to you about. I’m very worried about him. We must do something.”
“Do what, Mr. Palver? I am at a loss. Since my father”-she swallowed hard, as if she were having difficulty speaking-“died and my mother and sister disappeared, it is all I can do to get him out of bed in the morning. And to tell you the truth, it has affected me very deeply as well. You understand, don’t you?” She looked into his eyes and knew that he did.
“Miss Seldon,” Palver said softly, “I am terribly sorry about your losses. But you and Professor Seldon are alive and you must keep working at psychohistory. The professor seems to have given up. I was hoping that maybe you-we-could come up with something to give him hope again. You know, a reason to go on.”
Ah, Mr. Palver, thought Wanda, maybe Grandpa has it right. I wonder if there truly is any reason to go on. But she said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Palver, I can think of nothing.” She gestured toward the ground with her hoe. “And now, as you can see, I must get back to these pesky weeds.”
“I don’t think your grandfather has got it right. I think there truly is a reason to go on. We just have to find it.”
The words struck her with full force. How had he known what she had been thinking? Unless-“You can handle minds, can’t you?” Wanda asked, holding her breath, as if afraid to hear Palver’s response.
“Yes, I can,” the young man replied. “I always have, I think. At least, I can’t remember not doing it. Half the time I’m not even consciously aware of it-I just know what people are thinking-or have thought.
“Sometimes,” he continued, encouraged by the understanding he felt emanating from Wanda, “I get flashes of it coming from someone else. It’s always in a crowd, though, and I can’t locate whoever it is. But I know there are others like me-us-around.”
Wanda grabbed Palver’s hand excitedly, her gardening tool tossed to the ground, forgotten. “Have you any idea what this might mean? For Grandpa, for psychohistory? One of us alone can do only so much, but both of us together-” Wanda started walking into the Psychohistory Building, leaving Palver standing on the gravel path. Almost to the entrance she stopped and turned. Come, Mr. Palver, we must tell my grandfather, Wanda said without opening her mouth. Yes, I suppose we should, answered Palver as he joined her.
“Do you mean to say I have been searching Trantor-wide for someone with your powers, Wanda, and he’s been here with us for the past few months and we never knew it?” Hari Seldon was incredulous. He had been dozing in the solarium when Wanda and Palver shook him awake to give him their amazing news.
“Yes, Grandpa. Think about it. I’ve never had occasion to meet Stettin. Your time with him has primarily been away from the Project and I spend the majority of my time closeted in my office, working with the Prime Radiant. When would we have met? In fact, the one time our paths did cross, the results were most significant.”
“When was that?” asked Seldon, searching his memory.
“Your last hearing-before Judge Lih,” Wanda replied immediately. “Remember the eyewitness who swore that you and Stettin had attacked those three muggers? Remember how he broke down and told the truth-and even he didn’t seem to know why. But Stettin and I have pieced it together. We were both pushing Rial Nevas to come clean. He had been very steadfast in his original claim; I doubt that either one of us would have been able to push him alone. But together”-she stole a shy glance at Palver, who was standing off to the side-“our power is awesome!”
Hari Seldon took all this in and then made as if to speak. But Wanda continued. “In fact, we plan to spend the afternoon testing our mentalic abilities, separately and together. From the little we’ve discovered so far, it seems as if Stettin’s power is slightly lower than mine-perhaps a five on my rating scale. But his five, combined with my seven, gives us a twelve! Think of it, Grandpa. Awesome!”
“Don’t you see, Professor?” Palver spoke up. “Wanda and I are that breakthrough you’re looking for. We can help you convince the worlds of the validity of psychohistory, we can help find others like us, we can help put psychohistory back on track.”
Hari Seldon gazed up at the two young people standing in front of him. Their faces were aglow with youth and vigor and enthusiasm and he realized it did his old heart good. Perhaps all was not lost, after all. He had not thought he would survive this latest tragedy, the death of his son and the disappearance of his son’s wife and child, but now he could see that Raych lived on in Wanda. And in Wanda and Stettin, he now knew, lived the future of the Foundation.
“Yes, yes,” agreed Seldon nodding forcefully. “Come you two, help me up. I must get back to my office to plan our next step.”