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5


Seldon found himself raging at the passage of time. Eight years ago, when he had first arrived on Trantor, he could take instant action. He had only a hotel room and its contents to forsake and he could range through the sectors of Trantor at will.

Now he found himself with department meetings, with decisions to make, with work to do. It was not so easy to dash off at will to see Demerzel-and if he could, Demerzel also had a-full schedule of his own. To find a time when they both could meet would not be easy.**

Nor was it easy to have Dors shake her head at him. "I don't know what you intend to do, Hari."

And he answered impatiently, "I don't know what I intend to do, either, Dors. I hope to find out when I see Demerzel."

"Your first duty is to psychohistory. He'll tell you so."

"Perhaps. I'll find out."

And then, just as he had arranged a time for the meeting with the First Minister, eight days hence, he received a message on his department office wall screen in slightly archaic lettering. And to match that was the more than slightly archaic message: I CRAVE AN AUDIENCE WITH PROFESSOR HARI SELDON.

Seldon stared at it with astonishment. Even the Emperor was not addressed in quite that centuries-old turn of phrase.

Nor was the signature printed as it usually was for clarity. It was scripted with a flourish that left it perfectly legible and yet gave it the aura of a careless work of art dashed off by a master. The signature was: LASKIN JORANUM. It was Jo-Jo himself, craving an audience.

Seldon found himself chuckling. It was clear why the choice of words-and why the script. It made what was a simple request a device for stimulating curiosity. Seldon had no great desire to meet the man-or would have had none ordinarily. But what was worth the archaism and the artistry? He wanted to find out.

He had his secretary set the time and the place of the appointment. It would be in his office, certainly not in his apartment. A business conversation, nothing social.

And it would come before the projected meeting with Demerzel.

Dors said, "It's no surprise to me, Hari. You hurt two of his people, one of them his chief aide; you spoiled a little rally he was holding; and you made him, in the person of his representatives, seem foolish. He wants to take a look at you and I think I had better be with you."

Seldon shook his head. "I'll take Raych. He knows all the tricks I know and he's a strong and active twenty-year-old. Although I'm sure there'll be no need for protection."

"How can you be sure?"

"Joranum is coming to see me on the University grounds. There will be any number of youngsters in the vicinity. I'm not exactly an unpopular figure with the student body and I suspect that Joranum is the kind of man who does his homework and knows that I'll be safe on home territory. I'm sure that he will be perfectly polite-completely friendly."

"Hmph," said Dors with a light twist of one corner of her lip.

"And quite deadly," Seldon finished.



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