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       TWO DAYS HAD PASSED AND GENDIBAL FOUND HIMSELF NOT SO MUCH heavyhearted as enraged. There was no reason why there could not have been an immediate hearing. Had he been unprepared--had he needed time--they would have forced an immediate hearing on him, he was sure.
                But since there was nothing more facing the Second Foundation than the greatest crisis since the Mule, they wasted time--and to no purpose but to irritate him.
                Theydid irritate him and, by Seldon, that would make his counterstroke the heavier. He was determined on that.
                He looked about him. The anteroom was empty. It had been like that for two days now. He was a marked man, a Speaker whom all knew would--by means of an action unprecedented in the five-century history of the Second Foundation--soon lose his position. He would be demoted to the ranks, demoted to the position of a Second Foundationer, plain and simple.
                It was one thing, however--and a very honored thing--to be a Second Foundationer of the ranks, particularly if one held a respectable title, as Gendibal might even after the impeachment. It would be quite another thing to have once been a Speaker and to have been demoted.
                It won’t happen though, thought Gendibal savagely, even though for two days he had been avoided. Only Sura Novi treated him as before, but she was too nave to understand the situation. To her, Gendibal was still “Master.”
                It irritated Gendibal that he found a certain comfort in this. He felt ashamed when he began to notice that his spirits rose when he noticed her gazing at him worshipfully. Was he becoming grateful for giftsthat small?
                A clerk emerged from the Chamber to tell him that the Table was ready for him and Gendibal stalked in. The clerk was one Gendibal knew well; he was one who knew--to the tiniest fraction--the precise gradation of civility that each Speaker deserved. At the moment, that accorded Gendibal was appallingly low. Even the clerk thought him as good as convicted.
                They were all sitting about the Table gravely, wearing the black robes of judgment. First Speaker Shandess looked a bit uncomfortable, but he did not allow his face to crease into the smallest touch of friendliness. Delarmi--one of the three Speakers who were women--did not even look at him.
                The First Speaker said, “Speaker Stor Gendibal, you have been impeached for behaving in a manner unbecoming a Speaker. You have, before us all, accused the Table--vaguely and without evidence--of treason and attempted murder. You have implied that all Second Foundationers--including the Speakers and the First Speaker--require a thorough mental analysis to ascertain who among them are no longer to be trusted. Such behavior breaks the bonds of community, without which the Second Foundation cannot control an intricate and potentially hostile Galaxy and without which they cannot build, with surety, a viable Second Empire.
                “Since we have all witnessed those offenses, we will forego the presentation of a formal case for the prosecution. We will therefore move directly to the next stage. Speaker Stor Gendibal, do you have a defense?”
                Now Delarmi--still not looking at him--allowed herself a small catlike smile.
                Gendibal said, “If truth be considered a defense, I have one. Thereare grounds for suspecting a breach of security. That breach may involve the mental control of one or more Second Foundationers--not excluding members here present--and this has created a deadly crisis for the Second Foundation. If, indeed, you hasten this trial because you cannot waste time, you may all perhaps dimly recognize the seriousness of the crisis, but in that case, why have you wasted two days after I had formally requested an immediate trial? I submit that it is this deadly crisis that has forced me to say what I have said. I would have behaved in a manner unbecoming a Speaker --had Inot done so.”
                “He but repeats the offense, First Speaker,” said Delarmi softly.
                Gendibal’s seat was further removed from the Table than that of the others--a clear demotion already. He pushed it farther back, a5 though he cared nothing for that, and rose.
                He said, “Will you convict me now, out of hand, in defiance of law--or may I present my defense in detail?”
                The First Speaker said, “This is not a lawless assemblage, Speaker. Without much in fine way of precedent to guide us, we will lean in your direction, recognizing that if our too-human abilities should cause us to deviate from absolute justice, it is better to allow the guilty to go free than to convict the innocent. Therefore, although the case before us is so grave that we may not lightly allow the guilty to go free, we will permit you to present your case in such manner as you wish and for as long as you require, until it is decided by unanimous vote,including my own ” (and he raised his voice at that phrase) “that enough has been heard.”
                Gendibal said, “Let me begin, then, by saying that Golan Trevize --the First Foundationer who has been driven from Terminus and whom the First Speaker and I believe to be the knife-edge of the gathering crisis has moved off in an unexpected direction.”
                “Point of information,” said Delarmi softly. “How does the speaker” (the intonation clearly indicated that the word was not capitalized) “know this?”
                “I was informed of this by the First Speaker,” said Gendibal, “but I confirm it of my own knowledge. Under the circumstances, however, considering my suspicions concerning the level of the security of the Chamber, I must be allowed to keep my sources of information secret.”
                The First Speaker said, “I will suspend judgment on that. Let us proceed without that item of information but if, in the judgment of the Table, the information must be obtained, Speaker Gendibal will have to yield it.”
                Delarmi said, “If the speaker does not yield the information now, it is only fair to say that I assume he has an agent serving him--an agent who is privately employed by him and who is not responsible to the Table generally. We cannot be sure that such an agent is obeying the rules of behavior governing Second Foundation personnel.
                The First Speaker said with some displeasure, “I see all the implications, Speaker Delarmi. There is no need to spell them out for me.”
                “I merely mention it for the record, First Speaker, since this aggravates the offense and it is not an item mentioned in the bill of impeachment, which, I would like to say, has not been read in full and to which I move this item be added.”
                “The clerk is directed to add the item,” said the First Speaker, “and the precise wording will be adjusted at the appropriate time. --Speaker Gendibal” (he, at least, capitalized) “your defense is indeed a step backward. Continue.”
                Gendibal said, “Not only has this Trevize moved in an unexpected direction, but at an unprecedented speed. My information, which the First Speaker does not yet have, is that he has traveled nearly ten thousand parsecs in well under an hour.”
                “In a single jump?” said one of the Speakers incredulously.
                “In over two dozen jumps, one after the other, with virtually no time intervening,” said Gendibal, “something that is even more difficult to imagine than a single jump. Even if he is now located, it will take time to follow him and, if he detects us and really means to flee us, we will not be able to overtake him. --and you spend your time in games of impeachment and allow two days to pass so that you might savor them the more.”
                The First Speaker managed to mask his anguish. “Please tell us, Speaker Gendibal, what you think the significance of this might be.”
                “It is an indication, First Speaker, of the technological advances that are being made by the First Foundation, who are far more powerful now than they were in the time of Preem Palver. We could not stand up against them if they found us and were free to act.”
                Speaker Delarmi rose to her feet. She said, “First Speaker, our time is being wasted with irrelevancies. We are not children to be frightened with tales by Grandmother Spacewarp. It does not matter how impressive the machinery of the First Foundation is when, in any crisis, their minds will be in our control.”
                “What do you have to say to that, Speaker Gendibal?” asked the First Speaker.
                “ Merely that we will come to the matter of minds in due course. For the moment, I merely wish to stress the superior--and increasing technological might of the First Foundation.”
                The First Speaker said, “Pass on to the next point, Speaker Gendibal. Your first point, I must tell you, does not impress me as very pertinent to the matter contained in the bill of impeachment.”
                There was a clear gesture of agreement from the Table generally.
                Gendibal said, “I pass on. Trevize has a companion in his present journey” (he paused momentarily to consider pronunciation) “one Janov Pelorat, a rather ineffectual scholar who has devoted his life to tracking down myths and legends concerning Earth.”
                “You know all this about him? Your hidden source, I presume?” said Delarmi, who had settled into her role of prosecutor with a clear feeling of comfort.
                “Yes, I know all this about him,” said Gendibal stolidly. “A few months ago, the Mayor of Terminus, an energetic and capable woman, grew interested in this scholar for no clear reason, and so I grew interested, too, as a matter of course. Nor have I kept this to myself. All the information I have gained has been made available to the First Speaker.”
                “I bear witness to that,” said the First Speaker in a low voice.
                An elderly Speaker said, “What is this Earth? Is it the world of origin we keep coming across in fables? The one they made a fuss about in old Imperial times?”
                Gendibal nodded. “In the tales of Grandmother Spacewarp, as Speaker Delarmi would say. --I suspect it was Pelorat’s dream to come to Trantor to consult the Galactic Library, in order to find information concerning Earth that he could not obtain in the interstellar library service available on Terminus.
                “When he left Terminus with Trevize, he must have been under the impression that that dream was to be fulfilled. Certainly we were expecting the two and counted on having the opportunity to examine them--to our own profit. As it turns out--and as you all know by now--they are not coming. They have turned off to some destination that is not yet clear and for some reason that is not yet known.”
                Delarmi’s round face looked positively cherubic as she said, “And why is this disturbing? We are no worse off for their absence, surely. Indeed, since they dismiss us so easily, we can deduce that the First Foundation does not know the true nature of Trantor and we can applaud the handiwork of Preem Palver.”
                Gendibal said, “If we thought no further, we might indeed come to such a comforting solution. Could if be, though, that the turnoff was not the result of any failure to see the importance of Trantor? Could it be that the turnoff resulted from anxiety lest Trantor, by examining these two men, see the importance of Earth?”
                There was a stir about the Table.
                “Anyone,” said Delarmi coldly, “can invent formidable--sounding propositions and couch them in balanced sentences. But do they make sense when you do invent them? Why should anyone care what we of the Second Foundation think of Earth? Whether it is the true planet of origin, or whether it is a myth, or whether there is no one place of origin to begin with, is surely something that should interest only historians, anthropologists, and folk-tale collectors, such as this Pelorat of yours. Why us?”
                “Why indeed?” said Gendibal. “How is it, then, that there are no references to Earth in the Library?”
                For the first time, something in the atmosphere that was other than hostility made itself felt about the Table.
                Delarmi said, “Aren’t there?”
                Gendibal said quite calmly, “When word first reached me that Trevize and Pelorat might be coming here in search of information concerning Earth, I, as a matter of course, had our Library computer make a listing of documents containing such information. I was mildly interested when it turned up nothing. Not minor quantities. Not very little. --Nothing?
                “But then you insisted I wait for two days before this hearing could take place, and at the same time, my curiosity was further piqued by the news that the First Foundationers were not coming here after all. I had to amuse myself somehow. While the rest of you therefore were, as the saying goes, sipping wine while the house was falling, I went through some history books in my own possession. I came across passages that specifically mentioned some of the investigations on the ‘Origin Question’ in late-Imperial times. Particular documents--both printed and filmed--were referred to and quoted from. I returned to the Library and made a personal check for those documents. I assure you there was nothing.”
                Delarmi said, “Even if this is so, it need not be surprising. If Earth is indeed a myth--”
                “Then I would find it in mythological references. If it were a story of Grandmother Spacewarp, I would find it in the collected tales of Grandmother Spacewarp. If it were a figment of the diseased mind, I would find it under psychopathology. The fact is that something about Earth exists or you would not all have heard of it and, indeed, immediately recognized it as the name of the putative planet of origin of the human species. Why, then, is there no reference to it in the Library,anywhere ?”
                Delarmi was silent for a moment and another Speaker interposed. He was Leonis Cheng, a rather small man with an encyclopedic knowledge of the minutiae of the Seldon Plan and a rather myopic attitude toward the actual Galaxy. His eyes tended to blink rapidly when he spoke.
                He said, “It is well known that the Empire in its final days attempted to create an Imperial mystique by soft-pedaling all interest in pre-Imperial times.”
                Gendibal nodded. “Soft-pedaled is the precise term, Speaker Cheng. That is not equivalent to destroying evidence. As you should know better than anyone, another characteristic of Imperial decay was a sudden interest in earlier--and presumably better--times. I have just referred to the interest in the ‘Origin Question’ in Hari Seldon’s time.”
                Cheng interrupted with a formidable clearing of the throat. “I know this very well, young man, and know far more of these social problems of Imperial decay than you seem to think I do. The process of ‘Imperialization’ overtook these dilettantish games concerning Earth. Under Cleon II, during the Empire’s last resurgence, two centuriesafter Seldon, Imperialization reached its peak and all speculation on the question of Earth came to an end. There was even a directive in Cleon’s time concerning this, referring to the interest in such things as (and I think I quote it correctly) ‘stale and unproductive speculation that tends to undermine the people’s love of the Imperial throne.”‘
                Gendibal smiled. “Then it was in the time of Cleon II, Speaker Cheng, that you would place the destruction of all reference to Earth?”
                “I draw no conclusions. I have simply stated what I have stated.”
                “It is shrewd of you to draw no conclusions. By Cleon’s time, the Empire may have been resurgent, but the University and Library, at least, were in our hands or, at any rate, in those of our predecessors. It would have been impossible for any material to be removed from the Library without the Speakers of the Second Foundation knowing it. In fact, it would have been the Speakers to whom the task would have had to be entrusted, though the dying Empire would not have known that.”
                Gendibal paused, but Cheng, saying nothing, looked over the other’s head.
                Gendibal said, “It follows that the Library could not have been emptied of material on Earth during Seldon’s time, since the ‘Origin Question’ was then an active preoccupation. It could not have been emptied afterward because the Second Foundation was in charge. Yet the Library is empty of it now. How can this be?”
                Delarmi broke in impatiently, “You may stop weaving the dilemma, Gendibal. We see it. What is it that you suggest as a solution? That you have removed the documents yourself?”
                “As usual, Delarmi, you penetrate to the heart.” And Gendibal bent his head to her in sardonic respect (at which she allowed herself a slight lifting of the lip). “One solution is that the cleansing was done by a Speaker of the Second Foundation, someone who would know how to use curators without leaving a memory behind --and computers without leaving a record behind:”
                First Speaker Shandess turned red. “Ridiculous, Speaker Gendibal. I cannot imagine a Speaker doing this. What would the motivation be? Even if, for some reason, the material on Earth were removed, why keep it from the rest of the Table? Why risk a complete destruction of one’s career by tampering with the Library when the chances of its being discovered are so great? Besides, I don’t think that even the most skillful Speaker could perform the task without leaving a trace.”
                “Then it must be, First Speaker, that you disagree with Speaker Delarmi in her suggestion that I did it”
                “I certainly do,” said the First Speaker. “Sometimes I doubt your judgment, but I have yet to consider you downright insane.”
                “Then it must never have happened, First Speaker. The material on Earth must still be in the Library, for we now seem to have eliminated all the possible ways in which it could have been removed--and yet the material is not there.”
                Delarmi said with an affectation of weariness, “Well well, let us finish. Again, what is it you suggest as a solution? I am sure you think you have one.”
                “If you are sure, Speaker, we may all be sure as well. My suggestion is that the Library was cleansed by someone of the Second Foundation who was under the control of a subtle force from outside the Second Foundation. The cleansing went unnoticed because that same force saw to it that it was not noticed.”
                Delarmi laughed. “Until you found out. You--the uncontrolled. and uncontrollable. If this mysterious force existed, how didyou find out about the absence of material from the Library? Why weren’t you controlled?”
                Gendibal said gravely, “It’s not a laughing matter, Speaker. They feel, that all tampering should be held to a minimum. When my life was in danger a few days ago, I was more concerned with refraining from fiddling with a Hamish mind than with protecting myself. So it might be with these others--as soon as they felt it was safe they ceased tampering. That is the danger, the deadly danger. The fact that I could find out what has happened may mean they no longer care that I do. The fact that they no longer care may mean that they feel they have already won. And we continue to play our games here!”
                “But what aim do they have in all this? What conceivable aim?” demanded Delarmi, shuffling her feet and biting her lips. She felt her power fading as the Table grew more interested--concerned--
                Gendibal said, “Consider-- The First Foundation, with its enormous arsenal of physical power, is searching for Earth. They pretend to send out two exiles, hoping we will think that is all they are, but would they equip them with ships of unbelievable power--ships that can move ten thousand parsecs in less than an hour--if that was all that they were?
                “As for the Second Foundation, we havenot been searching for Earth and, clearly, steps have been takenwithout our knowledge to keep any information of Earth away from us. The First Foundation is now so close to finding Earth and we are so far from doing so, that--”
                Gendibal paused and Delarmi said, “That what? Finish your childish tale. Do you know anything or don’t you?”
                “I don’t knoweverything , Speaker. I have not penetrated the total depth of the web that is encircling us, but I know the web is there. I don’t know what the significance of finding Earth might be, but I am certain the Second Foundation is in enormous danger and, with it, the Seldon Plan and the future of all humanity.”
                Delarmi rose to her feet. She was not smiling and she spoke in a tense but tightly controlled voice. “Trash? First Speaker, put an end to this! What is at issue is the accused’s behavior. What he tells us is not only childish but irrelevant. He cannot extenuate his behavior by building a cobwebbery of theories that makes sense only in his own mind. I call for a vote on the matter now--a unanimous vote for conviction.”
                “Wait,” said Gendibal sharply. “I have been told I would have an opportunity to defend myself, and there remains one more item--one more. Let me present that, and you may proceed to a vote with no further objection from me.”
                The First Speaker rubbed his eyes wearily. “You may continue, Speaker Gendibal. Let me point out to the Table that the conviction of an impeached Speaker is so weighty and, indeed, unprecedented an action that we dare not give the appearance of not allowing a full defense. Remember, too, that even if the verdict satisfies us, it may not satisfy those who come after us, and I cannot believe that a Second Foundationer of any level--let alone the Speakers of the Table--would not have a full appreciation of the importance of historical perspective. Let us so act that we can be certain of the approval of the Speakers who will follow us in the coming centuries.”
                Delarmi said bitterly, “We run the risk, First Speaker, of having posterity laugh at us for belaboring the obvious. To continue the defense isyour decision.”
                Gendibal drew a deep breath. “In line withyour decision, then, First Speaker, I wish to call a witness--a young woman I met three days ago and without whom I might not have reached the Table meeting at all, instead of merely being late.”
                “Is the woman you speak of known to the Table?” asked the First Speaker.
                “No, First Speaker. She is native to this planet.”
                Delarmi’s eyes opened wide. “AHamishwoman ?”
                “Indeed! Just so!”
                Delarmi said, “What have we to do with one of those? Nothing they say can be of any importance. They don’t exist!”
                Gendibal’s lips drew back tightly over his teeth in something that could not possibly have been mistaken for a smile. He said sharply, “Physically all the Hamish exist. They are human beings and play their part in Seldon’s Plan. In their indirect protection of the Second Foundation, they play a crucial part. I wish to dissociate myself from Speaker Delarmi’s inhumanity and hope that her remark will be retained in the record and be considered hereafter as evidence forher possible unfitness for the position of Speaker. --Will the rest of the Table agree with the Speaker’s incredible remark and deprive me of my witness?”
                The First Speaker said, “Call your witness, Speaker.”
                Gendibal’s lips relaxed into the normal expressionless features of a Speaker under pressure. His mind was guarded and fenced in, but behind this protective barrier, he felt that the danger point had passed and that he had won.
 Sura Novi looked strained. Her eyes were wide and her lower lip was faintly trembling. Her hands were slowly clenching and unclenching and her chest was heaving slightly. Her hair had been pulled back and braided into a bun; her sun-darkened face twitched now and then. Her hands fumbled at the pleats of her long skirt. She looked hastily around the Table--from Speaker to Speaker--her wide eyes filled with awe.
                They glanced back at her with varying degrees of contempt and discomfort. Delarmi kept her eyes well above the top of Novi’s head, oblivious to her presence.
                Carefully Gendibal touched the skin of her mind, soothing and relaxing it. He might have done the same by patting her hand or stroking her cheek, but here, under these circumstances, that was impossible, of course.
                He said, “First Speaker, I am numbing this woman’s conscious awareness so that her testimony wilt not be distorted by fear. Will you please observe--will the rest of you, if you wish, join me and observe that I will, in no way, modify her mind?”
                Novi had started back in terror at Gendibal’s voice, and Gendibal was not surprised at that. He realized that she had never heard Second Foundationers of high rank speak among themselves. She had never experienced that odd swift combination of sound, tone, expression and thought. The terror, however, faded as quickly as it came, as he gentled her mind.
                A look of placidity crossed her face.
                “There is a chair behind you, Novi,” Gendibal said. “Please sit down.”
                Novi curtsied in a small and clumsy manner and sat down, holding herself stiffly.
                She talked quite clearly, but Gendibal made her repeat when her Hamish accent became too thick. And because he kept his own speech formal in deference to the Table, he occasionally had to repeat his own questions to her.
                The tale of the fight between himself and Rufirant was described quietly and well.
                Gendibal said, “Did you see all this yourself, Novi?”
                “Nay, Master, or I would have sooner-stopped it. Rufirant be good fellow, but not quick in head.”
                “But you described it all. How is that possible if you did not see it all?
                “Rufirant be telling me thereof, on questioning. He be ashamed.”
                “Ashamed? Have you ever known him to behave in this manner in earlier times?”
                “Rufirant? Nay, Master. He be gentle, though he be large. He be no fighter and he be afeared of scowlers. He say often they are mighty and possessed of power.”
                “ Why didn’t he feel this way when he met me?”
                “It be strange. It be not understood.” She shook her head. “He be not his ain self. I said to him, ‘Thou blubber-head. Be it your place to assault scowler?’ And he said, ‘I know not how it happened. It be like I am to one side, standing and watching not-I.”‘
                Speaker Cheng interrupted. “First Speaker, of what value is it to have this woman report what a man has told her? Is not the man available for questioning............
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