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Chapter 48

Venabili woke up and could tell by her timeband that the night period was only half over. Not hearing Haris snore, she could tell that his cot was empty. If he had not left the apartment, then he was in the bathroom. She tapped lightly on the door and said softly, "Hari?"
He said, "Come in," in an abstracted way and she did. The toilet lid was down and Seldon, seated upon it, held the Book open on his lap. He said, quite unnecessarily, "Im reading."
"Yes, I see that. But why?"
"I couldnt sleep. Im sorry."
"But why read in here?"
"If I had turned on the room light, I would have woken you up."
"Are you sure the Book cant be illuminated?"
"Pretty sure. When Raindrop Forty-Three described its workings, she never mentioned illumination. Besides, I suppose that would use up so much energy that the battery wouldnt last the life of the Book." He sounded dissatisfied.
Dors said, "You can step out, then. I want to use this place, as long as Im here."
When she emerged, she found him sitting cross-legged on his cot, still reading, with the room well lighted.
She said, "You dont look happy. Does the Book disappoint you?"
He looked up at her, blinking. "Yes, it does. Ive sampled it here and there. Its all Ive had time to do. The thing is a virtual encyclopedia and the index is almost entirely a listing of people and places that are of little use for my purposes. It has nothing to do with the Galactic Empire or the pre-Imperial Kingdoms either. It deals almost entirely with a single world and, as nearly as I can make out from what I have read, it is an endless dissertation on internal politics."
"Perhaps you underestimate its age. It may deal with a period when there was indeed only one world ... one inhabited world."
"Yes, I know," said Seldon a little impatiently. "Thats actually what I want--provided I can be sure its history, not legend. I wonder. I dont want to believe it just because I want to believe it."
Dors said, "Well, this matter of a single-world origin is much in the air these days. Human beings are a single species spread all over the Galaxy, so they must have originated somewhere. At least thats the popular view at present. You cant have independent origins producing the same species on different worlds."
"But Ive never seen the inevitability of that argument," said Seldon. "If human beings arose on a number of worlds as a number of different species, why couldnt they have interbred into some single intermediate species?"
"Because species cant interbreed. Thats what makes them species."
Seldon thought about it a moment, then dismissed it with a shrug. "Well, Ill leave it to the biologists."
"Theyre precisely the ones who are keenest on the Earth hypothesis."
"Earth? Is that what they call the supposed world of origin?"
"Thats a popular name for it, though theres no way of telling what it was called, assuming there was one. And no one has any clue to what its location might be."
"Earth!" said Seldon, curling his lips. "It sounds like a belch to me. In any case, if the book deals with the original world, I didnt come across it. How do you spell the word?"
She told him and he checked the Book quickly. "There you are. The name is not listed in the index, either by t............
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