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Chapter 6
Seldon looked up. A young man was standing before him, looking down at him with an expression of amused contempt. Next to him was another young man--a bit younger, perhaps. Both were large and appeared to be strong. They were dressed in an extreme of Trantorian fashion, Seldon judged--boldly clashing colors, broad fringed belts, round hats with wide brims all about and the two ends of a bright pink ribbon extending from the brim to the back of the neck.
In Seldons eyes, it was amusing and he smiled.
The young man before him snapped, "Whatre you grinning at, misfit?" Seldon ignored the manner of address and said gently, "Please pardon my smile. I was merely enjoying your costume."
"My costume? So? And what are you wearing? Whats that awful offal you call clothes?" His hand went out and his finger flicked at the lapel of Seldons jacket--disgracefully heavy and dull, Seldon himself thought, in comparison to the others lighthearted colors.
Seldon said, "Im afraid its my Outworlder clothes. Theyre all I have." He couldnt help notice that the few others who were sitting in the small park were rising to their feet and walking off. It was as though they were expecting trouble and had no desire to remain in the vicinity. Seldon wondered if his new friend, Hummin, was leaving too, but he felt it injudicious to take his eyes away from the young man who was confronting him. He teetered back on his chair slightly.
The young man said, "You an Outworlder?"
"Thats right. Hence my clothes."
"Hence? What kind of words that? Outworld word?"
"What I meant was, that was why my clothes seem peculiar to you. Im a visitor here."
"From what planet?"
"Helicon."
The young mans eyebrows drew together. "Never heard of it."
"Its not a large planet."
"Why dont you go back there?"
"I intend to. Im leaving tomorrow."
"Sooner! Now!"
The young man looked at his partner. Seldon followed the look and caught a glimpse of Hummin. He had not left, but the park was now empty except for himself, Hummin, and the two young men.
Seldon said, "Id thought Id spend today sight-seeing."
"No. You dont want to do that. You go home now."
Seldon smiled. "Sorry. I wont."
The young man said to his partner. "You like his clothes, Marbie?"
Marbie spoke for the first time. "No. Disgusting. Turns the stomach."
"Cant let him go around turning stomachs, Marbie. Not good for peoples health."
"No, not by no means, Alem," said Marbie.
Alem grinned. "Well now. You heard what Marbie said."
And now Hummin spoke. He said, "Look, you two, Alem, Marbie, whatever your names are. Youve had your fun. Why dont you go away?"
Alem, who had been leaning slightly toward Seldon, straightened and turned. "Who are you?"
"Thats not your business," snapped Hummin.
"Youre Trantorian?" asked Alem.
"Also not your business."
Alem frowned and said, "Youre dressed Trantorian. Were not interested in you, so dont go looking for problems."
"I intend to stay. That means there are two of us. Two against two doesnt sound like your kind of fight. Why dont you go away and get some friends so you can handle two people?"
Seldon said, "I really think you ought to get away if you can, Hummin. Its kind of you to try to protect me, but I dont want you harmed."
"These are not dangerous people, Seldon. Just half-credit lackeys."
"Lackeys!" The word seemed to infuriate Alem, so that Seldon thought it must have a more insulting meaning on Trantor than it had on Helicon.
"Here, Marbie," said Alem with a growl. "You take care of that other motherlackey and Ill rip the clothes off this Seldon. Hes the one we want. Now--"
His hands came down sharply to seize Seldon............
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