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Chapter 4

Eto Demerzel emerged and glanced at the Emperor with a hint of proper deference. He said, "Sire, you have almost lost your temper."
Cleon looked up and, with an obvious effort, managed to smile. "Well, so I did. The man was very disappointing."
"And yet he promised no more than he offered."
"He offered nothing."
"And promised nothing, Sire."
"It was disappointing."
Demerzel said, "More than disappointing, perhaps. The man is a loose cannon, Sire."
"A loose what, Demerzel? You are always so full of strange expressions. What is a cannon?"
Demerzel said gravely, "It is simply an expression I heard in my youth, Sire. The Empire is full of strange expressions and some are unknown on Trantor, as those of Trantor are sometimes unknown elsewhere."
"Do you come to teach me the Empire is large? What do you mean by saying that the man is a loose cannon?"
"Only that he can do much harm without necessarily intending it. He does not know his own strength. Or importance."
"You deduce that, do you, Demerzel?"
"Yes, Sire. He is a provincial. He does not know Trantor or its ways. He has never been on our planet before and he cannot behave like a man of breeding, like a courtier. Yet he stood up to--"
"And why not? I gave him permission to speak. I left off ceremony. I treated him as an equal."
"Not entirely, Sire. You dont have it within you to treat others as equals. You have the habit of command. And even if you tried to put a person at his ease, there would be few who could manage it. Most would be speechless or, worse, subservient and sycophantic. This man stood up to you."
"Well, you may admire that, Demerzel, but I didnt like him." Cleon looked thoughtfully discontented. "Did you notice that he made no effort to explain his mathematics to me? It was as though he knew I would not understand a word of it."
"Nor would you have, Sire. You are not a mathematician, nor a scientist of any kind, nor an artist. There are many fields of knowledge in which others know more than you. It is their task to use their knowledge to serve you. You are the Emperor, which is worth all their specializations put together."
"Is it? I would not mind being made to feel ignorant by an old man who had accumulated knowledge over many years. But this man, Seldon, is just my age. How does he know so much?"
"He has not had to learn the habit of command, the art of reaching a decision that will affect the lives of others."
"Sometimes, Demerzel, I wonder if you are laughing at me."
"Sire?" said Demerzel reproachfully.
"But never mind. Back to that loose cannon of yours. Why should you consider him dangerous? He seems a naive provincial to me."
"He is. But he h............
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