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Chapter 18

Dors was right. Breakfast was by no means bad. There was something that was unmistakably eggy and the meat was pleasantly smoked. The chocolate drink (Trantor was strong on chocolate and Seldon did not mind that) was probably synthetic, but it was tasty and the breakfast rolls were good. He felt is only right to say as much. "This has been a very pleasant breakfast. Food. Surroundings. Everything."
"Im delighted you think so," said Dors.
Seldon looked about. There were a bank of windows in one wall and while actual sunlight did not enter (he wondered if, after a while, he would learn to be satisfied with diffuse daylight and would cease to look for patches of sunlight in a room), the place was light enough. In fact, it was quite bright, for the local weather computer had apparently decided is was time for a sharp, clear day.
The cables were arranged for four apiece and most were occupied by the full number, but Dors and Seldon remained alone at theirs. Dors had called over some of the men and women and had introduced them. All had been polite, but none had joined them. Undoubtedly, Dors intended that to be so, but Seldon did not see how she managed to arrange it.
He said, "You havent introduced me to any mathematicians, Dors."
"I havent seen any that I know. Most mathematicians start the day early and have classes by eight. My own feeling is that any student so foolhardy as to take mathematics wants to get that part of the course over with as soon as possible."
"I take it youre not a mathematician yourself."
"Anything but," said Dors with a short laugh. "Anything. History is my field. Ive already published some studies on the rise of Trantor--I mean the primitive kingdom, not this world. I suppose that will end up as my field of specialization--Royal Trantor."
"Wonderful," said Seldon.
"Wonderful?" Dors looked at him quizzically. "Are you interested in Royal Trantor too?"
"In a way, yes. That and other things like that. Ive never really studied history and I should have."
"Should you? If you had studied history, youd scarcely have had time to study mathematics and mathematicians are very much needed--especially at this University. Were full to here with historians," she said, raising her hand to her eyebrows, "and economists and political scientists, but were short on science and mathematics. Chetter Hummin pointed that out to me once. He called it the decline of science and seemed to think it was a general phenomenon."
Seldon said, "Of course, when I say I should have studied history, I dont mean that I should have made it a life work. I meant I should have studied enough to help me in my mathematics. My field of specialization is the mathematical analysis of social structure."
"Sounds horrible."
"In a way, it is. Its very complicated and without my knowing a great deal more about how societies evolved its hopeless. My picture is too static, you see."
"I cant see because I know nothing about it. Chetter told me you were developing something called psychohistory and that it was important. Have I got it right? Psychohistory?"
"Thats right. I should have called it psychosociology, but it seemed to me that was too ugly a word. Or perhaps I knew instinctively that a knowledge of history was necessary and then didnt pay sufficient attention to my thoughts."
"Psychohistory does sound better, but I dont know what it is."
"I scarcely do myself." He brooded a few minutes, looking at the woman on the other side of the table and feeling that she might make this exile of his seem a little less like an exile. He thought of the other woman he had known a few years ago, but blocked it off with a determined effort. If he ever found another companion, it would have to be one who understood scholarship and what it demanded of a person.
To get his mind onto a new track, he said, "Chetter Hummin told me that the University is in no way troubled by the government."
"Hes right."
Seldon shook his head. "That seems rather unbelievably forbearing of the Imperial government. The educational institutions on Helicon are by no means so independent of governmental pressures."
"Nor on Cinna. Nor on any Outworld, except perhaps for one or two of the largest. Trantor is another matter."
"Yes, but why?"
"Because its the center of the Empire. The universities here have enormous prestige. Professionals are turned out by any university anywhere, but the administrators of the Empire--the high officials, the countless millions of people who represent the tentacles of Empire reaching into every corner of the Galaxy--are educated right here on Trantor."
"Ive never seen the statistics--" began Seldon.
"Take my word for it. It is important that the officials of the Empire have some common ground, some special feeling for the Empire. And they cant all be native Trantorians or else the Outworlds would grow restless. For that reason, Trantor must attract millions of Outworlders for education here. It doesnt matter where they come from or what their home accent or culture may be, as long as they pick up the Trantorian patina and identify themselves with a Trantorian educational background. Thats what holds the Empire together. The Outworlds are also less restive when a noticeable portion of the administrators who represent the Imperial government are their own people by birth and upbringing."
Seldon felt embarrassed again. This was something he had never given any thought to. He wondered if anyone could be a truly great mathematician if mathematics was all he knew. He said, "Is this common knowledge?"
"I suppose it isnt," said Dors after some thought. "Theres so much knowledge to be had that specialists cling to their specialties as a shield against having to know anything about anything else. They avoid being drowned."
"Yet you know it."
"But thats my specialty. Im a historian who deals with the rise of Royal Trantor and t............
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