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Chapter 31

When Seldon woke, he found a new face looking at him solemnly. For a moment he frowned owlishly and then he said, "Hummin?"
Hummin smiled very slightly. "You remember me, then?"
"It was only for a day, nearly two months ago, but I remember. You were not arrested, then, or in any way--"
"As you see, I am here, quite safe and whole, but--and he glanced at Dors, who stood to one side--"it was not very easy for me to come here."
Seldon said, "Im glad to see you.--Do you mind, by the way?" He jerked his thumb in the direction of the bathroom.
Hummin said, "Take your time. Have breakfast."
Hummin didnt join him at breakfast. Neither did Dors. Nor did they speak. Hummin scanned a book-film with an attitude of easy absorption. Dors inspected her nails critically and then, taking out a microcomputer, began making notes with a stylus.
Seldon watched them thoughtfully and did not try to start a conversation. The silence now might be in response to some Trantorian reserve customary at a sickbed. To be sure, he now felt perfectly normal, but perhaps they did not realize that. It was only when he was done with his last morsel and with the final drop of milk (which he was obviously getting used to, for it no longer tasted odd) that Hummin spoke.
He said, "How are you, Seldon?"
"Perfectly well, Hummin. Sufficiently well, certainly, for me to be up and about."
"Im glad to hear it," said Hummin dryly. "Dors Venabili was much to blame in allowing this to happen."
Seldon frowned. "No. I insisted on going Upperside."
"Im sure, but she should, at all costs, have gone with you."
"I told her I didnt want her to go with me."
Dors said, "Thats not so, Hari. Dont defend me with gallant lies."
Seldon said angrily, "But dont forget that Dors also came Upperside after me, against strong resistance, and undoubtedly saved my life. Thats not bending the truth at all. Have you added that to your evaluation, Hummin?"
Dors interrupted again, obviously embarrassed. "Please, Hari. Chetter Hummin is perfectly correct in feeling that I should either have kept you from going Upperside or have gone up with you. As for my subsequent actions, he has praised them."
"Nevertheless," said Hummin, "that is past and we can let it go. Let us talk about what happened Upperside, Seldon."
Seldon looked about and said guardedly, "Is it safe to do so?"
Hummin smiled slightly. "Dors has placed this room in a Distortion Field. I can be pretty sure that no Imperial agent at the University--if there is one--has the expense to penetrate it. You are a suspicious person, Seldon."
"Not by nature," said Seldon. "Listening to you in the park and afterward-- You are a persuasive person, Hummin. By the time you were through, I was ready to fear that Eto Demerzel was lurking in every shadow."
"I sometimes think he might be," said Hummin gravely.
"If he was," said Seldon, "I wouldnt know it was he. What does he look like?"
"That scarcely matters. You wouldnt see him unless he wanted you to and by then it would all be over, I imagine--which is what we must prevent. Lets talk about that jet-down you saw."
Seldon said, "As I told you, Hummin, you filled me with fears of Demerzel. As soon as I saw the jet-down, I assumed he was after me, that I had foolishly stepped outside the protection of Streeling University by going Upperside, that I had been lured up there for the specific purpose of being picked up without difficulty."
Dors said, "On the other hand, Leggen--"
Seldon said quickly, "Was he here last night?"
"Yes, dont you remember?"
"Vaguely. I was dead tired. Its all a blur in my memory."
"Well, when he was here last night, Leggen said that the jet-down was merely a meteorological vessel from another station. Perfectly ordinary. Perfectly harmless."
"What?" Seldon was taken aback. "I dont believe that."
Hummin said, "Now the question is: Why dont you believe that? Was there anything about the jet-down that made you think it was dangerous? Something specific, that is, and not just a pervasive suspicion placed in your head by me."
Seldon thought back, biting his lower lip. He said, "Its actions. It seemed to push its forepart below the cloud deck, as though it were looking for something, then it would appear in another spot just the same way, then in another spot, and so on. It seemed to be searching Upperside methodically, section by section, and homing in on me."
Hummin said, "Perhaps you were personifying, Seldon. You may have been treating the jet-down as though it was a strange animal looking for you. It wasnt, of course. It was simply a jet-down and if it was a meteorological vessel, its actions were perfectly normal ... and harmless."
Seldon said, "It didnt seem that way to me."
Hummin said, "Im sure it didnt, but we dont actually know anything. Your conviction that you were in danger is simply an assumption. Leggens decision that it was a meteorological vessel is also only an assumption."
Seldon said stubbornly, "I cant believe that it was an entirely innocent event."
"Well then," said Hummin, "suppose we assume the worst--that the vessel was looking for you. How would whoever sent that vessel know you would be there to seek?"
Dors interjected, "I asked Dr. Leggen if he had, in his report of the forthcoming meteorological work, included the information that Hari would be with the group. There was no reason he should in the ordinary course of events and he denied that he had, with considerable surprise at the question. I believed him."
Hummin said thoughtfully, "Dont believe him too readily. Wouldnt he deny it, in any case? Now ask yourself why he allowed Seldon to come along in the first place. We know he objected initially, but he did relent, without much fight. And that, to me, seems rather out of character for Leggen."
Dors frowned and said, "I suppose that does make it a bit more likely that he did arrange the entire affair. Perhaps he permitted Haris company only in order to put him in the position of being taken. He might have received orders to that effect. We might further argue that he encouraged his young intern, Clowzia, to engage Haris attention and draw him away from the group, isolating him. That would account for Leggens odd lack of concern over Haris absence when it came time to go below. He would insist that Hari had left earlier, something he would have laid the groundwork for, since he had carefully showed him how to go down by himself. It would also account for his reluctance to go back up in search of him, since he would not want to waste time looking for someone he assumed would not be found."
Hummin, who had listened carefully, said, "You make an interesting case against him, but lets not accept that too readily either. After all, he did come Upperside with you in the end."
"Because footsteps had been detected. The Chief Seismologist had [been] witness to that."
"Well, did Leggen show shock and surprise when Seldon was found? I mean, beyond that of finding someone who had been brought into extreme peril through Leggens own negligence. Did he act as though Seldon wasnt supposed to be there? Did he behave as though he were asking himself: How is it they didnt pick him up?"
Dors thought carefully, then said, "He was obviously shocked by the sight of Hari lying there, but I couldnt possibly tell if there was anything to his feelings beyond the very natural horror of the situation."
"No, I suppose you couldnt."
But now Seldon, who had been looking from one to the other as they spoke and who had been listening intently, said, "I dont think it was Leggen."
Hummin transferred his attention to Seldon. "Why do you say that?"
"For one thing, as you noted, he was clearly unwilling to have me come along. It took a whole day of argument and I think he agreed only because he had the impression that I was a clever ............
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