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Chapter 50

The two Raindrops arrived at midmorning. Raindrop Forty-Five seemed as cheerful as ever, but Raindrop Forty-Three paused just inside the door, looking drawn and circumspect. She kept her eyes down and did not as much as glance at Seldon.
Seldon looked uncertain and gestured to Dors, who said in a cheerful businesslike tone of voice, "One moment, Sisters. I must give instructions to my man or he wont know what to do with himself today."
They moved into the bathroom and Dors whispered, "Is something wrong?"
"Yes. Raindrop Forty-Three is obviously shattered. Please tell her that I will return the Book as soon as possible."
Dors favored Seldon with a long surprised look. "Hari," she said, "youre a sweet, caring person, but you havent the good sense of an amoeba. If I as much as mention the Book to the poor woman, shell be certain that you told me all about what happened yesterday and then shell really be shattered. The only hope is to treat her exactly as I would ordinarily."
Seldon nodded his head and said dispiritedly, "I suppose youre right."

Dors returned in time for dinner and found Seldon on his cot, still leafing through the Book, but with intensified impatience. He looked up with a scowl and said, "If were going to be staying here any length of time, were going to need a communication device of some sort between us. I had no idea when youd get back and I was a little concerned."
"Well, here I am," she said, removing her skincap gingerly and looking at it with more than a little distaste. "Im really pleased at your concern. I rather thought youd be so lost in the Book, you wouldnt even realize I was gone."
Seldon snorted.
Dors said, "As for communications devices, I doubt that they are easy to come by in Mycogen. It would mean easing communication with tribespeople outside and I suspect the leaders of Mycogen are bound and determined to cut down on any possible interaction with the great beyond."
"Yes," said Seldon, tossing the Book to one side, "I would expect that from what I see in the Book. Did you find out about the whatever you called it ... the temple?"
"Yes," she said, removing her eyebrow patches. "It exists. There are a number of them over the area of the sector, but theres a central building that seems to be the important one.--Would you believe that one woman noticed my eyelashes and told me that I shouldnt let myself be seen in public? I have a feeling she intended to report me for indecent exposure."
"Never mind that," said Seldon impatiently. "Do you know where the central temple is located?"
"I have directions, but Raindrop Forty-Five warned me that women were not allowed inside except on special occasions, none of which are coming up soon. Its called the Sacratorium."
"The what."
"The Sacratorium."
"What an ugly word. What does it mean?"
Dors shook her head. "Its new to me. And neither Raindrop knew what it meant either. To them, Sacratorium isnt what the building is called, its what it is. Asking them why they called it that probably sounded like asking them why a wall is called a wall."
"Is there anything about it they do know?"
"Of course, Hari. They know what its for. Its a place thats devoted to something other than the life here in Mycogen. Its devoted to another world, a former and better one."
"The world they once lived on, you mean?"
"Exactly. Raindrop Forty-Five all but said so, but not quite. She couldnt bring herself to say the word."
"Aurora?"
"Thats the word, but I suspect that if you were to say it out loud to a group of Mycogenians, they would be shocked and horrified. Raindrop Forty-Five, when she said, The Sacratorium is dedicated to--, stopped at that point and carefully wrote out the letters one by one with her finger on the palm of her hand. And she blushed, as though she was doing something obscene."
"Strange," said Seldon. "If the Book is an accurate guide, Aurora is their dearest memory, their chief point of unification, the center about which everything in Mycogen revolves. Why should its mention be considered obscene? Are you sure you didnt misinterpret what the Sister meant?"
"Im positive. And perhaps its no mystery. Too much talk about it would get to tribespeople. The best way of keeping it secret unto themselves is to make its very mention taboo."
"Taboo?"
"A specialized anthropological term. Its a reference to serious and effective social pressure forbidding some sort of action. The fact that women are not allowed in the Sacratorium probably has the force of a taboo. Im sure that a Sister would be horrified if it was suggested that she invade its precincts."
"Are the directions you have good enough for me to get to the Sacratorium on my own?"
"In the first place, Hari, youre not going alone. Im going with you. I thought we had discussed the matter and that I had made it clear that I cannot protect you at long distance--not from sleet storms and not from feral women. In the second place, its impractical to think of walking there. Mycogen may be a small sector, as sectors go, but it simply isnt that small."
"An Expressway, then."
"There are no Expressways passing through Mycogenian territory. It would make contact between Mycogenians and tribespeople too easy. Still, there are public conveyances of the kind that are found on less developed planets. In fact, thats what Mycogen is, a piece of an undeveloped planet, embedded like a splinter in the body of Trantor, which is otherwise a patchwork of developed societies.--And Hari, finish with the Book as soon as possible. Its apparent that Rainbow Forty-Three is in trouble as long as you have it and so will we be if they find out."
"Do you mean a tribesperson reading it is taboo?"
"Im sure of it."
"Well, it would be no great loss to give it back. I should say that 95 percent of it is incredibly dull; endless in-fighting among political groups, endless justification of policies whose wisdom I cannot possibly judge, endless homilies on ethical matters which, even when enlightened, and they usually arent, are couched with such infuriating self-righteousness as to almost enforce violation."
"You sound as though I would be doing you a great favor if I took the thing away from you."
"Except that theres always the other 5 percent that discusses the never-to-be-mentioned Aurora. I keep thinking that there may be something there and that it may be helpful to me. Thats why I wanted to kn............
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