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Chapter 41

"That was good." said Seldon explosively. "It was considerably better than the food Graycloud brought--"
Dors said reasonably, "You have to remember that Grayclouds woman had to prepare it on short notice in the middle of the night." She paused and said, "I wish they would say wife. They make woman sound like such an appanage, like my house or my robe. It is absolutely demeaning."
"I know. Its infuriating. But they might well make wife sound like an appanage as well. Its the way they live and the Sisters dont seem to mind. You and I arent going to change it by lecturing. Anyway, did you see how the Sisters did it?"
"Yes, I did and they made everything seem very simple. I doubted I could remember everything they did, but they insisted I wouldnt have to. I could get away with mere heating. I gathered the bread had some sort of microderivative added to it in the baking that both raised the dough and lent it that crunchy consistency and warm flavor. Just a hint of pepper, didnt you think?"
"I couldnt tell, but whatever it was, I didnt get enough. And the soup. Did you recognize any of the vegetables?"
"And what was the sliced meat? Could you tell?"
"I dont think it was sliced meat, actually. We did have a lamb dish back on Cinna that it reminded me of."
"It was certainly not lamb."
"I said that I doubted it was meat aaaall.--I dont think anyone outside Mycogen eats like this either. Not even the Emperor, Im sure. Whatever the Mycogenians sell is, Im willing to bet, near the bottom of the line. They save the best for themselves. We had better not stay here too long, Hari. If we get used to eating like this, well never be able to acclimatize ourselves to the miserable stuff they have outside." She laughed.
Seldon laughed too. He took another sip aaathe fruit juice, which tasted far more tantalizing than any fruit juice he had ever sipped before, and said, "listen, when Hummin took me to the University, we stopped at a roadside diner and had some food that was heavily yeasted. It tasted like-- No, never mind what it tasted like, but I wouldnt have thought it conceivable, then, that microfood could taste like this. I wish the Sisters were still here. It would have been polite to thank them."
"I think they were quite aware of how we would feel. I remarked on the wonderful smell while everything was warming and they said, quite complacently, that it would taste even better."
"The older one said that, I imagine."
"Yes. The younger one giggled.--And theyll be back. Theyre going to bring me a kirtle, so that I can go out to see the shops with them. And they made it clear I would have to wash my face if I was to be seen in public. They will show me where to buy some good-quality kirtles of my own and where I can buy ready-made meals of all kinds. All Ill have to do is heaaathem up. They explained that decent Sisters wouldnt do that, but would start from scratch. In fact, some of the meal they prepared for us was simply heated and they apologized for that. They managed to imply, though, that tribespeople couldnt be expected to appreciate true artistry in cooking, so that simply heating prepared food would do for us.--They seem to take it for granted, by the way, that I will be doing all the shopping and cooking."
"As we say at home, When in Trantor, do as the Trantorians do. "
"Yes, I was sure that would be your attitude in this case."
"Im only human," said Seldon.
"The usual excuse," said Dors with a small smile. Seldon leaned back with a satisfactory well-filled feeling and said, "Youve been on Trantor for two years, Dors, so you might understand a few things that I dont. Is it your opinion thaaathis odd social system the Mycogenians have is part of a supernaturalistic view they have?"
"Yes. Would you have heard that this was so?"
"What do you mean by supernaturalistic?"
"The obvious. A belief in entities that are independent of natural law, that are not bound by the conservation of energy, for instance, or by the existence of a constant of action."
"I see. Youre asking if Mycogen is a religious community."
It was Seldons turn. "Religious?"
"Yes. Its an archaic term, but we historians use it--our study is riddled with archaic terms. Religious is not precisely equivalent to supernaturalistic, though it contains richly supernaturalistic elements. I cant answer your specific question, however, because Ive never made any special investigation of Mycogen. Still, from what little Ive seen of the place and from my knowledge of religions in history, I wouldnt be surprised if the Mycogenian society was religious in character."
"In that case, would it surprise you if Mycogenian legends were also religious in character?"
"No, it wouldnt."
"And therefore not based on historical matter?"
"That wouldnt necessarily follow. The core of the legends might still be authentically historic, allowing for distortion and supernaturalistic intermixture."
"Ah," said Seldon and seemed to retire into his thoughts.
Finally Dors broke the silence that followed and said, "Its not so uncommon, you know. There is a considerable religious element on many worlds. Its grown stronger in the last few centuries as the Empire has grown more turbulent. On my world of Cinna, at least a quarter of the population is tritheistic."
Seldon was again painfully and regretfully conscious of his ignorance of history. He said, "Were there times in past history when religion was more prominent than it is today?"
"Certainly. In addition, there are new varieties springing up constantly. The Mycogenian religion, whatever it might be, could be relatively new and may be restricted to Mycogen itself. I couldnt really tell without considerable study."
"But now we get to the point of it, Dors. Is it your opinion that women ar............
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