Prelude to Foundation Chapter 19 Dors

Prelude to Foundation Chapter 19 Dors

SELDON, HARI-… it is customary to think of Hari Seldon only in connection with psychohistory, to see him only as mathematics and social change personified. There is no doubt that he himself encouraged this for at no time in his formal writings did he give any hint as to how he came to solve the various problems of psychohistory. His leaps of thought might have all been plucked from air, for all he tells us. Nor does he tell us of the blind alleys into which he crept or the wrong turnings he may have made…

As for his private life, it is a blank. Concerning his parents and siblings, we know a handful of factors, no more. His only son, Raych Seldon, is known to have been adopted, but how that came about is not known. Concerning his wife, we only know that she existed. Clearly, Seldon wanted to be a cipher except where psychohistory was concerned. It is as though he felt-or wanted it to be felt-that he did not live, he merely psychohistorified.

Encyclopedia Galactica

91.

Hummin sat calmly, not a muscle twitching, still looking at Hari Seldon and Seldon, for his part, waited. It was Hummin, he thought, who should speak next.

Hummin did, but said merely, “A robot? Me?-By robot, I presume you mean an artificial being such as the object you saw in the Sacratorium in Mycogen.”

“Not quite like that,” said Seldon.

“Not metal? Not burnished? Not a lifeless simulacrum?” Hummin said it without any evidence of amusement.

“No. To be of artificial life is not necessarily to be made of metal. I speak of a robot indistinguishable from a human being in appearance.’. “If indistinguishable, Hari, then how do you distinguish?”

“Not by appearance.”

“Explain.”

“Hummin, in the course of my flight from yourself as Demerzel, I heard of two ancient worlds, as I told you-Aurora and Earth. Each seemed to be spoken of as a first world or an only world. In both cases, robots were spoken of, but with a difference.”

Seldon was staring thoughtfully at the man across the table, wondering if, in any way, he would give some sign that he was less than a man-or more. He said, “Where Aurora was in question, one robot was spoken of as a renegade, a traitor, someone who deserted the cause. Where Earth was in question, one robot was spoken of as a hero, one who represented salvation. Was it too much to suppose that it was the same robot?”

“Was it?” murmured Hummin.

“This is what I thought, Hummin. I thought that Earth and Aurora were two separate worlds, co-existing in time. I don’t know which one preceded the other. From the arrogance and the conscious sense of superiority of the Mycogenians, I might suppose that Aurora was the original world and that they despised the Earthmen who derived from them-or who degenerated from them.

“On the other hand, Mother Rittah, who spoke to me of Earth, was convinced that Earth was the original home of humanity and, certainly, the tiny and isolated position of the Mycogenians in a whole galaxy of quadrillions of people who lack the strange Mycogenian ethos might mean that Earth was indeed the original home and that Aurora was the aberrant offshoot. I cannot tell, but I pass on to you my thinking, so that you will understand my final conclusions.”

Hummin nodded. “I see what you are doing. Please continue.”

“The worlds were enemies. Mother Rittah certainly made it sound so. When I compare the Mycogenians, who seem to embody Aurora, and the Dahlites, who seem to embody Earth, I imagine that Aurora, whether first or second, was nevertheless the one that was more advanced, the one that could produce more elaborate robots, even ones indistinguishable from human beings in appearance. Such a robot was designed and devised in Aurora, then. But he was a renegade, so he deserted Aurora. To the Earthpeople he was a hero, so he must have joined Earth. Why he did this, what his motives were, I can’t say.”

Hummin said, “Surely, you mean why it did this, what its motives were.”

“Perhaps, but with you sitting across from me,” said Seldon, “I find it difficult to use the inanimate pronoun. Mother Rittah was convinced that the heroic robot-her heroic robot-still existed, that he would return when he was needed. It seemed to me that there was nothing impossible in the thought of an immortal robot or at least one who was immortal as long as the replacement of worn-out parts was not neglected.”

“Even the brain?” asked Hummin.

“Even the brain. I don’t really know anything about robots, but I imagine a new brain could be re-recorded from the old.-And Mother Rittah hinted of strange mental powers.-I thought: It must be so. I may, in some ways, be a romantic, but I am not so much a romantic as to think that one robot, by switching from one side to the other, can alter the course of history. A robot could not make Earth’s victory sure, nor Aurora’s defeat certain-unless there was something strange, something peculiar about the robot.”

Hummin said, “Does it occur to you, Hari, that you are dealing with legends, legends that may have been distorted over the centuries and the millennia, even to the extent of building a veil of the supernatural over quite ordinary events? Can you make yourself believe in a robot that not only seems human, but that also lives forever and has mental powers? Are you not beginning to believe in the superhuman?”

“I know very well what legends are and I am not one to be taken in by them and made to believe in fairy tales. Still, when they are supported by certain odd events that I have seen-and even experienced myself-“

“Such as?”

“Hummin, I met you and trusted you from the start. Yes, you helped me against those two hoodlums when you didn’t need to and that predisposed me in your favor, since I didn’t realize at the time that they were your hirelings, doing what you had instructed them to do.-But never mind that.”

“No,” said Hummin, a hint of amusement-finally-in his voice.

“I trusted you. I was easily convinced not to go home to Helicon and to make myself a wanderer over the face of Trantor. I believed everything you told me without question. I placed myself entirely in your hands. Looking back on it now, I see myself as not myself. I am not a person to be so easily led, yet I was. More than that, I did not even think it strange that I was behaving so far out of character.”

“You know yourself best, Hari.”

“It wasn’t only me. How is it that Dors Venabili, a beautiful woman with a career of her own, should abandon that career in order to join me in my flight? How is it that she should risk her life to save mine, seeming to take on, as a kind of holy duty, the cask of protecting me and becoming single-minded in the process? Was it simply because you asked her to?”

“I did ask her to, Hari.”

“Yet she does not strike me as the kind of person to make such a radical changeover in her life merely because someone asks her to. Nor could I believe it was because she had fallen madly in love with me at first sight and could not help herself. I somehow wish she had, but she seems quite the mistress of her emotional self, more-I am now speaking to you frankly-than I myself am with respect to her.”

“She is a wonderful woman,” said Hummin. “I don’t blame you.”

Seldon went on. “How is it, moreover, that Sunmaster Fourteen, a monster of arrogance and one who leads a people who are themselves stiff-necked in their own conceit, should be willing to take in tribespeople like Dors and myself and to treat us as well as the Mycogenians could and did? When we broke every rule, committed every sacrilege, how is it that you could still talk him into letting us go?

“How could you talk the Tisalvers, with their petty prejudices, into taking us in? How can you be at home everywhere in the world, be friends with everyone, influence each person, regardless of their individual peculiarities? For that matter, how do you manage to manipulate Cleon too? And if he is viewed as malleable and easily molded, then how were you able to handle his father, who by all accounts was a rough and arbitrary tyrant? How could you do all this?

“Most of all, how is it that Mannix IV of Wye could spend decades building an army without peer, one trained to be proficient in every detail, and yet have it fall apart when his daughter tries to make use of it? How could you persuade them to play the Renegade, all of them, as you have done?”

Hummin said, “Might this mean no more than that I am a tactful person used to dealing with people of different types, that I am in a position to have done favors for crucial people and am in a position to do additional favors in the future? Nothing I have done, it might seem, requires the supernatural.”

“Nothing you have done? Not even the neutralization of the Wyan army?”

“They did not wish to serve a woman.”

“They must have known for years that any time Mannix laid down his powers or any time he died, Rashelle would be their Mayor, yet they showed no signs of discontent-until you felt it necessary that they show it. Dors described you at one time as a very persuasive man. And so you are. More persuasive than any man could be. But you are not more persuasive than an immortal robot with strange mental powers might be.-Well, Hummin?”

Hummin said, “What is it you expect of me, Hari? Do you expect me to admit I’m a robot? That I only look like a human being? That I am immortal? That I am a mental marvel?!”

Seldon leaned toward Hummin as he sat there on the opposite side of the table. “Yes, Hummin, I do. I expect you to tell me the truth and I strongly suspect that what you have just outlined is the truth. You, Hummin, are the robot that Mother Rittah referred to as Da-Nee, friend of Ba-Lee. You must admit it. You have no choice.”

92.

It was as though they were sitting in a tiny Universe of their own. There, in the middle of Wye, with the Wyan army being disarmed by Imperial force, they sat quietly. There, in the midst of events that all of Trantor-and perhaps all the Galaxy-was watching, there was this small bubble of utter isolation within which Seldon and Hummin were playing their game of attack and defense-Seldon trying hard to force a new reality, Hummin making no move to accept that new reality. Seldon had no fear of interruption. He was certain that the bubble within which they sat had a boundary that could not be penetrated, that Hummin’s-no, the robot’s-powers would keep all at a distance till the game was over.

Hummin finally said, “You are an ingenious fellow, Hari, but I fail to see why I must admit that I am a robot and why I have no choice but to do so. Everything you say may be true as facts-your own behavior, Dors’s behavior, Sunmaster’s, Tisalver’s, the Wyan generals’-all, all may have happened as you said, but that doesn’t force your interpretation of the meaning of the events to be true. Surely, everything that happened can have a natural explanation. You trusted me because you accepted what I said; Dors felt your safety to be important because she felt psychohistory to be crucial, herself being a historian; Sunmaster and Tisalver were beholden to me for favors you know nothing of, the Wyan generals resented being ruled by a woman, no more. Why must we flee to the supernatural?”

Seldon said, “See here, Hummin, do you really believe the Empire to be falling and do you really consider it important that it not be allowed to do so with no move made to save it or, at the least, cushion its Fall?”

“I really do.” Somehow Seldon knew this statement was sincere. “And you really want me to work out the details of psychohistory and you feel that you yourself cannot do it?”

“I lack the capability.”

“And you feel that only I can handle psychohistory-even if I sometimes doubt it myself?”

“Yes.”

“And you must therefore feel that if you can possibly help me in any way, you must.”

“I do.”

“Personal feelings-selfish considerations-could play no part?” A faint and brief smile passed over Hummin’s grave face and for a moment Seldon sensed a vast and arid desert of weariness behind Hummin’s quiet manner. “I have built a long career on paying no heed to personal feelings or to selfish considerations.”

“Then I ask your help. I can work out psychohistory on the basis of Trantor alone, but I will run into difficulties. Those difficulties I may overcome, but how much easier it would be to do so if I knew certain key facts. For instance, was Earth or Aurora the first world of humanity or was it some other world altogether? What was the relationship between Earth and Aurora? Did either or both colonize the Galaxy? If one, why didn’t the other? If both, how was the issue decided? Are there worlds descended from both or from only one? How did robots come to be abandoned? How did Trantor become the Imperial world, rather than another planet? What happened to Aurora and Earth in the meantime? There are a thousand questions I might ask right now and a hundred thousand that might arise as I go along. Would you allow me to remain ignorant, Hummin, and fail in my task when you could inform me and help me succeed?”

Hummin said, “If I were the robot, would I have room in my brain for all of twenty thousand years of history for millions of different worlds?”

“I don’t know the capacity of robotic brains. I don’t know the capacity of yours. But if you lack the capacity, then you must have that information which you cannot hold safely recorded in a place and in a way that would make it possible for you to call upon it. And if you have it and I need information, how can you deny and withhold it from me? And if you cannot withhold it from me, how can you deny that you are a robot-that robot the Renegade?”

Seldon sat back and took a deep breath. “So I ask you again: Are you that robot? If you want psychohistory, then you must admit it. If you still deny you are a robot and if you convince me you are not, then my chances at psychohistory become much, much smaller. It is up to you, then. Are you a robot? Are you Da-Nee?”

And Hummin said, as imperturbable as ever. “Your arguments are irrefutable. I am R. Daneel Olivaw. The ‘R’ stands for ‘robot.’ “

93.

R. Daneel Olivaw still spoke quietly, but it seemed to Seldon that there was a subtle change in his voice, as though he spoke more easily now that he was no longer playing a part.

“In twenty thousand years,” said Daneel, “no one has guessed I was a robot when it was not my intention to have him or her know. In part, that was because human beings abandoned robots so long ago that very few remember that they even existed at one time. And in part, it is because I do have the ability to detect and affect human emotion. The detection offers no trouble, but to affect emotion is difficult for me for reasons having to do with my robotic nature-although I can do it when I wish. I have the ability but must deal with my will not to use it. I try never to interfere except when I have no choice but to do so. And when I do interfere, it is rarely that I do more than strengthen, as little as I can, what is already there. If I can achieve my purposes without doing even so much, I avoid it.

“It was not necessary to tamper with Sunmaster Fourteen in order to have him accept you-I call it ‘tampering,’ you notice, because it is not a pleasant thing to do. I did not have to tamper with him because he did owe me for favors rendered and he is an honorable man, despite the peculiarities you found in him. I did interfere the second time, when you had committed sacrilege in his eyes, but it took very little. He was not anxious to hand you over to the Imperial authorities, whom he does not like. I merely strengthened the dislike a trifle and he handed you over to my care, accepting the arguments I offered, which otherwise he might have considered specious.

“Nor did I tamper with you noticeably. You distrusted the Imperials too. Most human beings do these days, which is an important factor in the decay and deterioration of the Empire. What’s more, you were proud of psychohistory as a concept, proud of having thought of it. You would not have minded having it prove to be a practical discipline. That would have further fed your pride.” Seldon frowned and said, “Pardon me, Master Robot, but I am not aware that I am quite such a monster of pride.”

Daneel said mildly, “You are not a monster of pride at all. You are perfectly aware that [it] is neither admirable nor useful to be driven by pride, so you try to subdue that drive, but you might as well disapprove of having yourself powered by your heartbeat. You cannot help either fact. Though you hide your pride from yourself for the sake of your own peace of mind, you cannot hide it from me. It is there, however carefully you mask it over. And I had but to strengthen it a touch and you were at once willing to take measures to hide from Demerzel, measures that a moment before you would have resisted. And you were eager to work at psychohistory with an intensity that a moment before you would have scorned.

“I saw no necessity to touch anything else and so you have reasoned out your robothood. Had I foreseen the possibility of that, I might have stopped it, but my foresight and my abilities are not infinite. Nor am I sorry now that I failed, for your arguments are good ones and it is important that you know who I am and that I use what I am to help you.

“Emotions, my dear Seldon are a powerful engine of human action, far more powerful than human beings themselves realize, and you cannot know how much can be done with the merest touch and how reluctant I am to do it.”

Seldon was breathing heavily, trying to see himself as a man driven by pride and not liking it. “Why reluctant?”

“Because it would be so easy to overdo. I had to stop Rashelle from converting the Empire into a feudal anarchy. I might have bent minds quickly and the result might well have been a bloody uprising. Men are men-and the Wyan generals are almost all men. It does not actually take much to rouse resentment and latent fear of women in any man. It may be a biological matter that I, as a robot, cannot fully understand.

“I had but to strengthen the feeling to produce a breakdown in her plans. If I had done it the merest millimeter too much, I would have lost what I wanted-a bloodless takeover. I wanted nothing more than to have them not resist when my soldiers arrived.”

Daneel paused, as though trying to pick his words, then said, “I do not wish to go into the mathematics of my positronic brain. It is more than I can understand, though perhaps not more than you can if you give it enough thought. However, I am governed by the Three Laws of Robotics that are traditionally put into words-or once were, long ago. They are these:

” ‘One. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

” ‘Two. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

” ‘Three. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.’

“But I had a… a friend twenty thousand years ago. Another robot. Not like myself. He could not be mistaken for a human being, but it was he who had the mental powers and it was through him that I gained mine. “It seemed to him that there should be a still more general rule than any of the Three Laws. He called it the Zeroth Law, since zero comes before one. It is:

” ‘Zero. A robot may not injure humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.’

“Then the First Law must read:

” ‘One. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, except where that would conflict with the Zeroth Law.’

“And the other laws must be similarly modified. Do you understand?”

Daneel paused earnestly and Seldon said, “I understand.” Daneel went on. “The trouble is, Hari, that a human being is easy to identify. I can point to one. It is easy to see what will harm a human being and what won’t-relatively easy, at least. But what is humanity? To what can we point when we speak of humanity? And how can we define harm to humanity? When will a course of action do more good than harm to humanity as a whole and how can one tell? The robot who first advanced the Zeroth law died-became permanently inactive-because he was forced into an action that he felt would save humanity, yet which he could not be sure would save humanity. And as he became inactivated, he left the care of the Galaxy to me.

“Since then, I have tried. I have interfered as little as possible, relying on human beings themselves to judge what was for the good. They could gamble; I could not. They could miss their goals; I did not dare. They could do harm unwittingly; I would grow inactive if I did. The Zeroth Law makes no allowance for unwitting harm.

“But at times I am forced to take action. That I am still functioning shows that my actions have been moderate and discreet. However, as the Empire began to fail and to decline, I have had to interfere more frequently and for decades now I have had to play the role of Demerzel, trying to run the government in such a way as to stave off ruin-and yet I will function, you see.

“When you made your speech to the Decennial Convention, I realized at once that in psychohistory there was a tool that might make it possible to identify what was good and bad for humanity. With it, the decisions we would make would be less blind. I would even trust to human beings to make those decisions and again reserve myself only for the greatest emergencies. So I arranged quickly to have Cleon learn of your speech and call you in. Then, when I heard your denial of the worth of psychohistory, I was forced to think of some way to make you try anyway. Do you understand, Hari?”

More than a little daunted, Seldon said, “I understand, Hummin.”

“To you, I must remain Hummin on those rare occasions when I will be able to see you. I will give you what information I have if it is something you need and in my persona as Demerzel I will protect you as much as I can. As Daneel, you must never speak of me.”

“I wouldn’t want to,” said Seldon hurriedly. “Since I need your help, it would ruin matters to have your plans impeded.”

“Yes, I know you wouldn’t want to.” Daneel smiled wearily. “After all, you are vain enough to want full credit for psychohistory. You would not want anyone to know-ever-that you needed the help of a robot.”

Seldon flushed. “I am not-“

“But you are, even if you carefully hide it from yourself. And it is important, for I am strengthening that emotion within you minimally so that you will never be able to speak of me to others. It will not even occur to you that you might do so.”

Seldon said, “I suspect Dors knows-“

“She knows of me. And she too cannot speak of me to others. Now that you both know of my nature, you can speak of me to each other freely, but not to anyone else.”

Daneel rose.-Hari, I have my work to do now. Before long, you and Dors will be taken back to the Imperial Sector-“

“The boy Raych must come with me. I cannot abandon him. And there is a young Dahlite named Yugo Amaryl-“

“I understand. Raych will be taken too and you can do with any friend as you will. You will all be taken care of appropriately. And you will work on psychohistory. You will have a staff. You will have the necessary computers and reference material. I will interfere as little as possible and if there is resistance to your views that does not actually reach the point of endangering the mission, then you will have to deal with it yourself.”

“Wait, Hummin,” said Seldon urgently. “What if, despite all your help and all my endeavors, it turns out that psychohistory cannot be made into a practical device after all? What if I fail?”

Daneel rose. “In that case, I have a second plan in hand. One I have been working on a long time on a separate world in a separate way. It too is very difficult and to some ways even more radical than psychohistory. It may fail too, but there is a greater chance of success if two roads are open than if either one alone was.

“Take my advice, Hari! If the time comes when you are able to set up some device that may act to prevent the worst from happening see if you can think of two devices, so that if one fails, the other will carry on. The Empire must be steadied or rebuilt on a new foundation. Let there be two such, rather than one, if that is possible.”

He rose, “Now I must return to my ordinary work and you must turn to yours. You will be taken care of.”

With one final nod, he rose and left.

Seldon looked after him and said softly, “First I must speak to Dors.”

94.

Dors said, “The palace is cleared. Rashelle will not be physically harmed. And you’ll return to the Imperial Sector, Hari.”

“And you, Dors?” said Seldon in a low tight voice.

“I presume I will go back to the University,” she said. “My work is being neglected, my classes abandoned.”

“No, Dors, you have a greater task.”

“What is that?”

“Psychohistory. I cannot tackle the project without you.”

“Of course you can. I am a total illiterate in mathematics.”

“And I in history-and we need both.”

Dors laughed. “I suspect that, as a mathematician, you are one of a kind. I, as a historian, am merely adequate, certainly not outstanding. You will find any number of historians who will suit the needs of psychohistory better than I do.”

“In that case, Dors, let me explain that psychohistory needs more than a mathematician and a historian. It also needs the will to tackle what will probably be a lifetime problem. Without you, Dors, I will not have that will.”

“Of course you’ll have it.”

“Dors, if you’re not with me, I don’t intend to have it.”

Dors looked at Seldon thoughtfully. “This is a fruitless discussion, Hari. Undoubtedly, Hummin will make the decision. If he sends me back to the University.”

“He won’t.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because I’ll put it to him plainly. If he sends you back to the University, I’ll go back to Helicon and the Empire can go ahead and destroy itself.”

“You can’t mean it.”

“But I certainly do.”

“Don’t you realize that Hummin can arrange to have your feelings change so that you will work on psychohistory-even without me?”

Seldon shook his head. “Hummin will not make such an arbitrary decision. I’ve spoken to him. He dares not do much to the human mind because he is bound by what he calls the Laws of Robotics. To change my mind to the point where I will not want you with me, Dors, would mean a change of the kind he can not risk. On the other hand, if he leaves me alone and if you join me in the project, he will have what he wants-a true chance at psychohistory. Why should he not settle for that?”

Dors shook her head. “He may not agree for reasons of his own.”

“Why should he disagree? You were asked to protect me, Dors. Has Hummin canceled that request?”

“No.”

“Then he wants you to continue your protection. And I want your protection.”

“Against what? You now have Hummin’s protection, both as Demerzel and as Daneel, and surely that is all you need.”

“If I had the protection of every person and every force in the Galaxy, it would still be yours I would want.”

“Then you don’t want me for psychohistory. You want me for protection.”

Seldon scowled. “No! Why are you twisting my words? Why are you forcing me to say what you must know? It is neither psychohistory nor protection I want you for. Those are excuses and I’ll use any other I need. I want you-just you. And if you want the real reason, it is because you are you.”

“You don’t even know me.”

“That doesn’t matter. I don’t care.-And yet I do know you in a way. Better than you think.”

“Do you indeed?”

“Of course. You follow orders and you risk your life without hesitation and with no apparent care for the consequences. You learned how to play tennis so quickly. You learned how to use knives even more quickly and you handled yourself perfectly in the fight with Marron. Inhumanly-if I may say so. Your muscles are amazingly strong and your reaction time is amazingly fast. You can somehow tell when a room is being eavesdropped and you can be in touch with Hummin in some way that does not involve instrumentation.”

Dors said, “And what do you think of all that?”

“It has occurred to me that Hummin, in his persona as R. Daneel Olivaw, has an impossible task. How can one robot try to guide the Empire? He must have helpers.”

“That is obvious. Millions, I should imagine. I am a helper. You are a helper. Little Raych is a helper.”

“You are a different kind of helper.”

“In what way? Hari, say it. If you hear yourself say it, you will realize how crazy it is.”

Seldon looked long at her and then said in a low voice, “I will not say it because… I don’t care.”

“You really don’t? You wish to take me as I am?”

“I will take you as I must. You are Dors and, whatever else you are, in all the world I want nothing else.”

Dors said softly, “Hari, I want what is good for you because of what I am, but I feel that if I wasn’t what I am, I would still want what is good for you. And I don’t think I am good for you.”

“Good for me or bad, I don’t care.” Here Hari looked down as he paced a few steps, weighing what he would say next. “Dors, have you ever been kissed?”

“Of course, Hari. It’s a social part of life and I live socially.”

“No, no! I mean, have you ever really kissed a man? You know, passionately?”

“Well yes, Hari, I have.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

Dors hesitated. She said, “When I’ve kissed in that way, I enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed disappointing a young man I liked, someone whose friendship meant something to me.” At this point, Dors blushed and she turned her face away. “Please, Hari, this is difficult for me to explain.”

But Hari, more determined now than ever, pressed further. “So you kissed for the wrong reasons, then, to avoid hurt feelings.”

“Perhaps everyone does, in a sense.”

Seldon mulled this over, then said suddenly, “Did you ever ask to be kissed?”

Dors paused, as though looking back on her life. “No.”

“Or wish to be kissed again, once you had?”

“No.”

“Have you ever slept with a man?” he asked softly, desperately.

“Of course. I told you. These things are a part of life.”

Hari gripped her shoulders as if he was going to shake her. “But have you ever felt the desire, a need for that kind of closeness with just one special person? Dors, have you ever felt love.”

Dors looked up slowly, almost sadly, and locked eyes with Seldon. “I’m sorry, Hari, but no.”

Seldon released her, letting his arms fall dejectedly to his sides. Then Dors placed her hand gently on his arm and said, “So you see, Hari. I’m not really what you want.”

Seldon’s head drooped and he stared at the floor. He weighed the matter and tried to think rationally. Then he gave up. He wanted what he wanted and he wanted it beyond thought and beyond rationality. He looked up.

“Dors, dear, even so, I don’t care.” Seldon put his arms around her and brought his head close to hers slowly, as though waiting for her to pull away, all the while drawing her nearer.

Dors made no move and he kissed her-slowly, lingeringly, and then passionately-and her arms suddenly tightened around him. When he stopped at last, she looked at him with eyes that mirrored her smile and she said:

“Kiss me again, Hari. Please.”

[1] All quotations from the Encyclopedia Galactica here reproduced are taken from the 116th Edition, published 1,020 FE by the Encyclopedia Galactica Publishing Co., Terminus, with permission of the publishers.)