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21


In two days Joranum had swept Trantor, partly by himself, mostly through his lieutenants. As Hari muttered to Dors, it was a campaign that had all the marks of military efficiency. "He was born to be a war admiral in the old days," he said. "He's wasted on politics."

And Dors said, "Wasted? At this rate, he's going to make himself First Minister in a week and, if he wishes, Emperor in two weeks. There are reports that some of the military garrisons are cheering him."

Seldon shook his head. "It will collapse, Dors."

"What? Joranum's party or the Empire?"

"Joranum's party. The story of the robot has created an instant stir, especially with the effective use of that flier, but a little thought, a little coolness, and the public will see it for the ridiculous accusation it is."

"But, Hari," said Dors tightly, "you needn't pretend with me. It is not a ridiculous story. How could Joranum possibly have found out that Demerzel is a robot?"

"Oh, that! Why, Raych told him so."**

"Raych!"

"That's right. He did his job perfectly and got back safely with the promise of being made Dahl's sector leader someday. Of course he was believed. I knew he would be."

"You mean you told Raych that Demerzel was a robot and had him pass on the news to Joranum?" Dors looked utterly horrified.

"No, I couldn't do that. You know I couldn't tell Raych-or anyone-that Demerzel was a robot. I told Raych as firmly as I could that Demerzel was not a robot-and even that much was difficult. But I did ask him to tell Joranum that he was. He is under the firm impression that he lied to Joranum."

"But why, Hari? Why?"

"It's not psychohistory, I'll tell you that. Don't you join the Emperor in thinking I'm a magician. I just wanted Joranum to believe that Demerzel was a robot. He's a Mycogenian by birth, so he was filled from youth with his culture's tales of robots. Therefore, he was predisposed to believe and he was convinced that the public would believe with him."

"Well, won't they?"

"Not really. After the initial shock is over, they will realize that it's madcap fiction-or they will think so. I've persuaded Demerzel that he must give a talk on subetheric holovision to be broadcast to key portions of the Empire and to every sector on Trantor. He is to talk about everything but the robot issue. There are enough crises, we all know, to fill such a talk. People will listen and will hear nothing about robots. Then, at the end, he will be asked about the flier and he need not answer a word. He need only laugh."

"Laugh? I've never known Demerzel to laugh. He almost never smiles."

"This time, Dors, he'll laugh. It is the one thing that no one ever visualizes a robot doing. You've seen robots in holographic fantasies, haven't you? They're always pictured as literal-minded, unemotional, inhuman-That's what people are sure to expect. So Demerzel need merely laugh. And on top of that-Do you remember Sunmaster Fourteen, the religious leader of Mycogen?"

"Of course I do. Literal-minded, unemotional, inhuman. He's never laughed, either."

"And he won't this time. I've done a lot of work on this Joranum matter since I had that little set-to at the Field. I know Joranum's real name. I know where he was born, who his parents were, where he had his early training, and all of it, with documentary proof, has gone to Sunmaster Fourteen. I don't think Sunmaster likes Breakaways."

"But I thought you said you don't wish to spark off bigotry."

"I don't. If I had given the information to the holovision people, I would have, but I've given it to Sunmaster, where, after all, it belongs."

"And he'll start off the bigotry."

"Of course he won't. No one on Trantor would pay any attention to Sunmaster-whatever he might say."

"Then what's the point?"

"Well, that's what we'll see, Dors. I don't have a psychohistorical analysis of the situation. I don't even know if one is possible. I just hope that my judgment is right."



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