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Chapter 23
Jenarr Leggen had a dark look about him. It was not so much his complexion, which was fair enough. It was not even his eyebrows, which were thick and dark enough. It was, rather, that those eyebrows were hunched over deep-set eyes and a long and rather prominent nose. He had, as a result, a most unmerry look. His eyes did not smile and when he spoke, which wasnt often, he had a deep, strong voice, surprisingly resonant for his rather thin body. He said, "Youll need warmer clothing than that, Seldon."
Seldon said, "Oh?" and looked about.
There were two men and two women who were making ready to go up with Leggen and Seldon And, as in Leggens own case, their rather satiny Trantorian clothing was covered by thick sweaters that, not surprisingly, were brightly colored in bold designs. No two were even faintly alike, of course. Seldon looked down at himself and said, "Sorry, I didnt know but I dont have any suitable outer garment."
"I can give you one. I think theres a spare here somewhere.--Yes, here it is. A little threadbare, but its better than nothing."
"Wearing sweaters like these tan make you unpleasantly warm," said Seldon.
"Here they would," said Leggen. "Other conditions exist Upperside. Cold and windy. Too bad I dont have spare leggings and boots for you too. Youll want them later."
They were taking with them a cart of instruments, which they were testing one by one with what Seldon thought was unnecessary slowness. "Your home planet cold?" asked Leggen.
Seldon said, "Parts of it, of course. The part of Helicon I come from is mild and often rainy."
"Too bad. You wont like the weather Upperside."
"I think I can manage to endure it for the time well be up there."
When they were ready, the group filed into an elevator that was marked: OFFICIAL USE ONLY.
"Thats because it goes Upperside," said one of the young women, "and people arent supposed to be up there without good reason." Seldon had not met the young woman before, but he had heard her addressed as Clowzia. He didnt know if that was a first name, a last name, or a nickname. The elevator seemed no different from others that Seldon had been on, either here on Trantor or at home in Helicon (barring, of course, the gravitic lift he and Hummin had used), but there was something about knowing that it was going to take him out of the confines of the planet and into emptiness above that made it feel like a spaceship.
Seldon smiled internally. A foolish fantasy.
The elevator quivered slightly, which remind Seldon of Hummins forebodings of Galactic decay. Leggen, along with the other men and one of the women, seemed frozen and waiting, as though they had suspended thought as well as activity until they could get out, but Clowzia kept glancing at him as though she found him terribly impressive.
Seldon leaned close and whispered to her (he hesitated to disturb the others), "Are we going up very high?"
"High?" she repeated. She spoke in a normal voice, apparently not feeling that the others required silence. She seemed very young and it occurred to Seldon that she was probably an undergraduate. An apprentice, perhaps.
"Were taking a long time. Upperside must be many stories high in the air."
For a moment, she looked puzzled. Then, "Oh no. Not high at all. We started very deep. The University is at a low level. We use a great deal of energy and if were quite deep, the energy costs are lower."
Leggen said, "All right. Were here. Lets get the equipment out."
The elevator stopped with a small shudder and the wide door slid open rapidly. The temperature dropped at once and Seldon thrust his hands into his pockets and was very glad he had a sweater on. A cold wind stirred his hair and it occurred to him that he would have found a hat useful and, even as he thought that, Leggen pulled something out of a fold in his sweater, snapped it open, and put it on his head. The others did the same.
Only Clowzia hesitated. She paused just before she put hers on, then offered it to Seldon.
Seldon shook his head. "I cant take your hat, Clowzia."
"Go ahead. I have long hair and its pretty thick. Yours is short and a little ... thin."
Seldon would have liked to deny that firmly and at another time he would have. Now, however, he took the hat and mumbled, "Thank you. If your head gets cold, Ill give it back."
Maybe she wasnt so young. It was her round face, almost a baby face. And now that she had called attention to her hair, he could see that it was a charming russet shade. He had never seen hair quite like that on Helicon.
Outside it was cloudy, as it had been the time he was taken across open country to the Palace. It was considerably colder than it had been then, but he assumed that was because they were six weeks farther into winter. The clouds were thicker than they had been on the earlier occasion and the day was distinctly darker and threatening--or was it just closer to night? Surely, they wouldnt come up to do important work without leaving themselves an ample period of daylight to do it in. Or did they expect to take very little time? He would have liked to have asked, but it occurred to him that they might not like questions at this time. All of them seemed to be in states varying from excitement to anger.
Seldon inspected his surroundings.
He was standing on something that he thought might be dull metal from the sound it made when he surreptitiously thumped his foot down on it. It was not bare metal, however. When he walked, he left footprints. The surface was clearly covered by dust or fine sand or clay. Well, why not? There could scarcely be anyone coming up here to dust the place. He bent down to pinch up some of the matter out of curiosity.
Clowzia had come up to him. She noticed what he was doing and said, with the air of a housewife caught at an embarrassing negligence, "We do sweep hereabouts for the sake of the instruments. Its much worse most places Upperside, but it really doesnt matter. It makes for insulation, you know."
Seldon grunted and continued to look about. There was no chance of understanding the instruments that looked as though they were growing out of the thin soil (if one could call it that). He hadnt the faintest idea of what they were or what they measured.
Leggen was walking toward him. He was picking up his feet and putting them down gingerly and it occurred to Seldon that he was doing so to avoid jarring the instruments. He made a mental note to walk that way himself.
"You! Seldon!"
Seldon didnt quite like the tone of voice. He replied coolly, "Yes, Dr. Leggen?"
"Well, Dr. Seldon, then." He said it impatiently. "That little fellow Randa told me you are a mathematician."
"Thats right."
"A good one?"
"Id like to think so, but its a hard thing to guarantee."
"And youre interested in intractable problems?"
Seldon said feelingly, "Im stuck with one."
"Im stuck with another. Youre free to look about. If you have any questions, our intern, Clowzia, will help out. You might be able to help us."
"I would be delighted to, but I know nothing about meteorology."
"Thats all right, Seldon. I just want you to get a feel for this thing and then Id like to discuss my mathematics, such as it is."
"Im at your service."
Leggen turned away, his long scowling face looking grim. Then he turned back. "If you get cold--too cold--the elevator door is open. You just step in and touch the spot marked; UNIVERSITY BASE. It will take you down and the elevator will then return to us automatically. Clowzia will show you--if you forget."
"I wont forget."
This time he did leave and Seldon looked after him, feeling the cold wind knife through his sweater. Clowzia came back over to him, her face slightly reddened by that wind.
Seldon said, "Dr. Leggen seems annoyed. Or is that just his ordinary outlook on life?"
She giggled. "He does look annoyed most of the time, but right now he really is."
Seldon said very naturally, "Why?"
Clowzia looked over her shoulder, her long hair swirling. Then she said, "Im not supposed to know, but I do just the same. Dr. Leggen had it all figured out that today, just at this time, there was going to be a break in the clouds and hed been planning to make special measurements in sunlight. Only ... well, look at the weather."
Seldon nodded.
"We have holovision receivers up here, so he knew it was cloudy worse than usual--and I guess he was hoping there would be something wrong with the instruments so that it would be their fault and not that of his theory. So far, though, they havent found anything out of the way."............
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