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Chapter 12
Hummins practiced eye seemed to take in the recess, the other taxis, the diner, the walkways, and the men and women all at a glance. Seldon, trying to look inconspicuous and again not knowing how, watched him, trying not to do so too intently.
When they sat down at a small table and punched in their orders, Seldon, attempting to sound indifferent, said, "Everything okay?"
"Seems so," said Hummin.
"How can you tell?"
Hummin let his dark eyes rest on Seldon for a moment. "Instinct," he said. "Years of news gathering. You look and know, No news here. "
Seldon nodded and felt relieved. Hummin might have said it sardonically, but there must be a certain amount of truth to it. His satisfaction did not last through the first bite of his sandwich. He looked up at Hummin with his mouth full and with a look of hurt surprise on his face.
Hummin said, "This is a wayside diner, my friend. Cheap, fast, and not very good. The foods homegrown and has an infusion of rather sharp yeast. Trantorian palates are used to it."
Seldon swallowed with difficulty. "But back in the hotel--"
"You were in the Imperial Sector, Seldon. Food is imported there and where microfood is used it is high-quality. It is also expensive."
Seldon wondered whether to take another bite. "You mean that as long as I stay on Trantor--"
Hummin made a hushing motion with his lips. "Dont give anyone the impression that youre used to better. There are places on Trantor where to be identified as an aristocrat is worse than being identified as an Outworlder. The food wont be so bad everywhere, I assure you. These wayside places have a reputation for low quality. If you can stomach that sandwich, youll be able to eat anywhere on Trantor. And it wont hurt you. Its not decayed or bad or anything like that. It just has a harsh, strong taste and, honestly, you may grow accustomed to it. Ive met Trantorians who spit out honest food and say it lacks that homegrown tang."
"Do they grow much food on Trantor?" asked Seldon. A quick side glance showed him there was no one seated in the immediate vicinity and he spoke quietly. "Ive always heard it takes twenty surrounding worlds to supply the hundreds of freight ships required to feed Trantor every da............
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