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CHAPTER TWELVE AGENT
 1.
 
 
 
       MUNN LI COMPOR, COUNCILMAN OF TERMINUS, LOOKED UNCERTAIN as he extended his right hand to Trevize.
 
                Trevize looked at the hand sternly and did not take it. He said, apparently to open air, “I am in no position to create a situation in which I may find myself arrested for disturbing the peace on a foreign planet, but I will do so anyway if this individual comes a step closer.”
 
                Compor stopped abruptly, hesitated, and finally said in a low voice after glancing uncertainly at Pelorat, “Am I to have a chance to talk? To explain? Will you listen?”
 
                Pelorat looked from one to the other with a slight frown on his long face. He said, “What’s all this, Golan? Have we come to this far world and at once met someone you know?”
 
                Trevize’s eyes remained firmly fixed on Compor, but he twisted his body slightly to make it clear that he was talking to Pelorat. Trevize said, “This--human being--we would judge that much from his shape--was once a friend of mine on Terminus. As is my habit with my friends, I trusted him. I told him my views, which were perhaps not the kind that should have received a general airing. He told them to the authorities in great detail, apparently, and did not take the trouble to tell me he had done so. For that reason, I walked neatly into a trap and now I find myself in exile. And now this--human being--wishes to be recognized as a friend.”
 
                He turned to Compor full on and brushed his fingers through his hair, succeeding only in disarranging the curls further. “See here, you. Ido have a question for you. What are you doing here? Of all the worlds in the Galaxy on which you could be, why are you onthis one? And whynow ?”
 
                Compor’s hand, which had remained outstretched throughout Trevize’s speech, now fell to his side and the smile left his face. The air of self-confidence, which was ordinarily so much a part of him, was gone and in its absence he looked younger than his thirty-four years and a bit woebegone. “I’ll explain,” he said, “but only from the start!”
 
                Trevize looked about briefly. “Here? You really want to talk about it here? In a public place? You want me to knock you downhere after I’ve listened to enough of your lies?”
 
                Compor lifted both hands now, palms facing each other. “It’s the safest place, believe me.” And then, checking himself and realizing what the other was about to say, added hurriedly, “Or don’t believe me, it doesn’t matter. I’m telling the truth. I’ve been on the planet several hours longer than you and I’ve checked it out. This is some particular day they have here on Sayshell. It’s a day for meditation, for some reason. Almost everyone is at home--or should be. --You see how empty this place is. You don’t suppose it’s like this every day.”
 
                Pelorat nodded and said, “I was wondering why it was so empty, at that.” He leaned toward Trevize’s ear and whispered, “Why not let him talk, Golan? He looks miserable, poor chap, and hemay be trying to apologize. It seems unfair not to give him the chance to do so.’,
 
                Trevize said, “Dr. Pelorat seems anxious to hear you. I’m willing to oblige him, but you’ll obligeme if you’re brief about it. This may be a good day on which to lose my temper. If everyone is meditating, any disturbance I cause may not produce the guardians of the law. I may not be so lucky tomorrow. Why waste an opportunity?”
 
                Compor said in a strained voice, “Look, if you want to take a poke at me, do so. I won’t even defend myself, see? Go ahead, hit me--butlisten !”
 
                “Go ahead and talk, then. I’ll listen for a while.”
 
                “In the first place, Golan--”
 
                “Address me as Trevize, please. I am not on first-name terms with you.”
 
                “In the first place,Trevize , you did too good a job convincing me of your views--”
 
                “You hid that well. I could have sworn you were amused by me.”
 
                “I tried to be amused to hide from myself the fact that you were being extremely disturbing. --Look, let us sit down up against the wall. Even if the place is empty, some fewmay come in and I don’t think we ought to be needlessly conspicuous.”
 
                Slowly the three men walked most of the length of the large room. Compor was smiling tentatively again, but remained carefully at more than arm’s length from Trevize.
 
                They sat each on a seat that gave as their weight was placed upon it and molded itself into the shape of their hips and buttocks. Pelorat looked surprised and made as though to stand up.
 
                “Relax, Professor,” said Compor. “I’ve been through this already. They’re in advance of us in some ways. It’s a world that believes in small comforts.”
 
                He turned to Trevize, placing one arm over the back of his chair and speaking easily now. “You disturbed me. You made me feel the Second Foundationdid exist, and that was deeply upsetting. Consider the consequences if they did. Wasn’t it likely that they might take care of you somehow? Remove you as a menace? And if I behaved as though I believed you, I might be removed as well. Do you see my point?”
 
                “I see a coward.”
 
                “What good would it do to be storybook brave?” said Compor warmly, his blue eyes widening in indignation. “Can you or I stand up to an organization capable of molding our minds and emotions? The only way we could fight effectively would be to hide our knowledge to begin with.”
 
                “So you hid it and were safe? --Yet you didn’t hide it from Mayor Branno, did you? Quite a risk there.”
 
                “Yes! But I thought that was worth it. Just talking between ourselves might do nothing more than get ourselves mentally controlled--or our memories erased altogether. If I told the Mayor, on the other hand-- She knew my father well, you know. My father and I were immigrants from Smyrno and the Mayor had a grandmother who--”
 
                “Yes, yes,” said Trevize impatiently, “and several generations farther back you can trace ancestry to the Sirius Sector. You’ve told all that to everyone you know. Get on with it, Compor!”
 
                “Well, I had her ear. If I could convince the Mayor that there was danger, using your arguments, the Federation might take some action. We’re not as helpless as we were in the days of the Mule and --at the worst--this dangerous knowledge would be spread more widely and we ourselves would not be in as muchspecific danger.”
 
                Trevize said sardonically, “Endanger the Foundation, but keep ourselves safe. That’s good patriotic stuff.”
 
                “That would be at the worst. I was counting on the best.” His forehead had become a little damp. He seemed to be straining against Trevize’s immovable contempt.
 
                “And you didn’t tell me of this clever plan of yours, did you?”
 
                “No, I didn’t and I’m sorry about that, Trevize. The Mayor ordered me not to. She said she wanted to know everything you knew but that you were the sort of person who would freeze if you knew that your remarks were being passed on.”
 
                “How right she was!”
 
                “I didn’t know--I couldn’t guess--I had no way ofconceiving that she was planning to arrest you and throw you off the planet.”
 
                “She was waiting for the right political moment, when my status as Councilman would not protect me. You didn’t foresee that?”
 
                “How could I? You yourself did not.”
 
                “Had I known that she knew my views, I would have.”
 
                Compor said with a sudden trace of insolence, “That’s easy enough to say--in hindsight.”
 
                “And what is it you want of me here? Now that you have a bit of hindsight, too.”
 
                “To make up for all this. To make up for the harm I unwittingly--unwittingly--did you.”
 
                “Goodness,” said Trevize dryly. “How kind of you! But you haven’t answered my original question. How did you come to behere ? How do you happen to be on the very planet I am on?”
 
                Compor said, “There’s no complicated answer necessary for that. I followed you!”
 
                “Through hyperspace? With my ship making Jumps in series?”
 
                Compor shook his head. “No mystery. I have the same kind of a ship you do, with the same kind of computer. You know I’ve always had this trick of being able to guess in which direction through hyperspace a ship would go. It’s not usually a very good guess and I’m wrong two times out of three, but with the computer I’m much better. And you hesitated quite a bit at the start and gave me a chance to evaluate the direction and speed in which you were going before entering hyperspace. I fed the data--together with my own intuitive extrapolations--into the computer and it did the rest.”
 
                “And you actually got to the city ahead of me?”
 
                “Yes. You didn’t use gravitics and I did. I guessed you would come to the capital city, so I went straight down, while you--” Compor made a short spiral motion with his finger as though it were a ship riding a directional beam.
 
                “You took a chance on a run-in with Sayshellian officialdom.”
 
                “Well--” Compor’s face broke into a smile that lent it an undeniable charm and Trevize felt himself almost warming to him. Compor said, “I’m not a coward at all times and in all things.”
 
                Trevize steeled himself. “How did you happen to get a ship like mine?”
 
                “In precisely the same wayyou got a ship like yours. The old lady --Mayor Branno--assigned it to me.”
 
                “Why?”
 
                “I’m being entirely frank with you. My assignment was to follow you. The Mayor wanted to know where you were going and what you would be doing.”
 
                “And you’ve been reporting faithfully to her, I suppose. --Or have you been faithless to the Mayor also?”
 
                “I reported to her. I had no choice, actually. She placed a hyperrelay on board ship, which I wasn’t supposed to find, but which I did find.”
 
                “Well?”
 
                “Unfortunately it’s hooked up so that I can’t remove it without immobilizing the vessel. At least, there’s no wayI can remove it. Consequently she knows where I am--and she knows where you are.”
 
                “Suppose you hadn’t been able to follow me. Then she wouldn’t have known where I was. Had you thought of that?”
 
                “Of course I did. I thought of just reporting I had lost you--but she wouldn’t have believed me, would she? And I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Terminus for who knows how long. And I’m not like you, Trevize. I’m not a carefree person without attachments. I have a wife on Terminus--a pregnant wife--and I want to get back to her. You can afford to think only of yourself. I can’t. --Besides, I’ve come to warn you. By Seldon, I’m trying to do that and you won’t listen. You keep talking about other things.”
 
                “I’m not impressed by your sudden concern for me. What can you warn me against? It seems to me thatyou are the only thing I need be warned about. You betray me, and now you follow me in order to betray me again. No one else is doing me any harm.”
 
                Compor said earnestly, “Forget the dramatics, man. Trevize, you’re a lightning rod! You’ve been sent out to draw Second Foundation response--if there is such a thing as the Second Foundation. I have an intuitive sense for things other than hyperspatial pursuit and I’m sure that’s what she’s planning. If you try to find the Second Foundation, they’ll become aware of it and they’ll act against you. If they do, they are very likely to tip their hand. And when they do, Mayor Branno will go for them.”
 
                “A pity your famous intuition wasn’t working when Branno was planning my arrest.”
 
                Compor flushed and muttered, “You know it doesn’t always work.”
 
                “And now it tells you she’s planning to attack the Second Foundation. She wouldn’t dare.”
 
                “I think she would. But that’s not the point. The point is that right now she is throwing you out as bait.”
 
                “So?”
 
                “So by all the black holes in space, don’t search for the Second Foundation. She won’t care if you’re killed in the search, butI care. I feel responsible for this and I care.”
 
                “I’m touched,” said Trevize coldly, “but as it happens I have another task on hand at the moment.”
 
                “You have?”
 
                “Pelorat and I are on the track of Earth, the planet that some think was the original home of the human race. Aren’t we, Janov?”
 
                Pelorat nodded his head. “Yes, it’s a purely scientific matter and a long-standing interest of mine.”
 
                Compor looked blank for a moment. Then, “Looking forEarth ? But why?”
 
                “To study it,” said Pelorat. “As the one world on which human beings developed--presumably from lower forms of life, instead of, as on all others, merely arriving ready-made--it should be a fascinating study in uniqueness.”
 
                “And,” said Trevize, “as a world where, just possibly, I may learn more of the Second Foundation. --Just possibly.”
 
                Compor said, “But there isn’t any Earth. Didn’t you know that?”
 
                “No Earth?” Pelorat looked utterly blank, as he always did when he was preparing to be stubborn. “Are you saying there was no planet on which the human species originated?”
 
                “Oh no. Of course, there was an Earth. There’s no question of that! But there isn’t any Earthnow . No inhabited Earth. It’s gone!”
 
                Pelorat said, unmoved, “There are tales--”
 
                “Hold on, Janov,” said Trevize. “Tell me, Compor, how do you know this?”
 
                “What do you mean, how? It’s my heritage. I trace my ancestry from the Sirius Sector, if I may repeat that fact without boring you. We know all about Earth out there. It exists in that sector, which means it’s not part of the Foundation Federation, so apparently no one on Terminus bothers with it. But that’s where Earth is, just the same.”
 
                “Thatis one suggestion, yes,” said Pelorat. “There was considerable enthusiasm for that ‘Sirius Alternative,’ as they called it, in the days of the Empire.”
 
                Compor said vehemently. “It’s not an alternative. It’s a fact.”
 
                Pelorat said, “What would you say if I told you I know of many different places in the Galaxy that are called Earth--or were called Earth--by the people who lived in its stellar neighborhood?”
 
                “But this is the real thing,” said Compor. “The Sirius Sector is the longest-inhabited portion of the Galaxy. Everyone knows that.”
 
                “The Sirians claim it, certainly,” said Pelorat, unmoved.
 
                Compor looked frustrated. “I tell you--”
 
                But Trevize said, “Tell us what happened to Earth. You say it’s not inhabited any longer. Why not?”
 
                “Radioactivity. The whole planetary surface is radioactive because of nuclear reactions that went out of control, or nuclear explosions-- I’m not sure--and now no life is possible there.”
 
                The three stared at each other for a while and then Compor felt it necessary to repeat. He said, “I tell you, there’s no Earth. There’s no use looking for it.”
 
 
 
 2.
 
 
 
 Janov Pelorat’s face was, for once, not expressionless. It was not that there was passion in it--or any of the more unstable emotions. It was that his eyes had narrowed--and that a kind of fierce intensity had filled every plane of his face.
 
                He said, and his voice lacked any trace of its usual tentative quality, “How did you say you know all this?”
 
                “I told you,” said Compor. “It’s my heritage.”
 
                “Don’t be silly, young man. You are a Councilman. That means you must be born on one of the Federation worlds--Smyrno, I think you said earlier.”
 
                “That’s right.”
 
                “Well then, what heritage are you talking about? Are you telling me that you possess Sirian genes that fill you with inborn knowledge of the Sirian myths concerning Earth.”
 
                Compor looked taken aback. “No, of course not.”
 
                “Then what are you talking about?”
 
                Compor paused and seemed to gather his thoughts. He said quietly, “My family has old books of Sirian history. An external heritage, not an internal one. It’s not something we talk about outside, especially if one is intent on political advancement. Trevize seems to think I am, but, believe me, I mention it only to good friends.”
 
                There was a trace of bitterness in his voice. “Theoretically all Foundation citizens are alike, but those from the old worlds of the Federation are more alike than those from the newer ones--and those that trace from worlds outside the Federation are least alike of all. But, never mind that. Aside from the books, I once visited the old worlds. Trevize--hey, there--”
 
                Trevize had wandered off toward one end of the room, looking out a triangular window. It served to let in a view of the sky and to diminish the view of the city--more lightand more privacy. Trevize stretched upward to look down.
 
                He returned through the empty room. “Interesting window design,” he said. “You called me, Councilman?”
 
                “Yes. Remember the postcollegiate tour I took?”
 
                “After graduation? I remember very well. We were pals. Pals forever. Foundation of trust. Two against the world. You went off on your tour. I joined the Navy, full of patriotism. Somehow I didn’t think I wanted to tour with you--some instinct told me not to. I wish the instinct had stayed with me.”
 
                Compor did not rise to the bait. He said, “I visited Comporellon. Family tradition said that my ancestors had come from there--at least on my father’s side. We were of the ruling family in ancient times before the Empire absorbed us, and my name is derived from the world--or so the family tradition has it. We had an old, poetic name for the star Comporellon circled--Epsilon Eridani.”
 
                “What does that mean?” asked Pelorat.
 
                Compor shook his head. “I don’t know that it has any meaning. Just tradition. They live with a great deal of tradition. It’s an old world. They have long, detailed records of Earth’s history, but no one talks about it much. They’re superstitious about it. Every time they mention the word, they lift up both hands with first and second fingers crossed to ward off misfortune.”
 
                “Did you tell this to anyone when you came back?”
 
                “Of course not. Who would be interested? And I wasn’t going to force the tale on anyone. No, thank you! I had a political career to develop and the last thing I want is to stress my foreign origin.”
 
                “What about the satellite? Describe Earth’s satellite,” said Pelorat sharply.
 
                Compor looked astonished. “I don’t know anything about that.”
 
                “Does it have one?”
 
                “I don’t recall reading or hearing about it. But I’m sure if you’ll consult the Comporellonian records, you can find out.”
 
                “But you know nothing?”
 
                “Not about the satellite. Not that I recall.”
 
                “Huh! How did Earth come to be radioactive?”
 
                Compor shook his head and said nothing.
 
                Pelorat said, “Think! You must have heard something.”
 
                “It was seven years ago, Professor. I didn’t know then you’d be questioning me about it now. There was some sort of legend--they considered it history--”
 
                “What was the legend?”
 
                “Earth was radioactive--ostracized and mistreated by the Empire, its population dwindling--and it was going to destroy the Empire somehow.”
 
                “One dying world was going to destroy the whole Empire?” interposed Trevize.
 
                Compor said defensively, “I said it was a legend. I don’t know the details. Bel Arvardan was involved in the tale, I know.”
 
                “Who was he?” asked Trevize.
 
                “A historical character. I looked him up. He was an honest-to-Galaxy archaeologist back in the early days of the Empire and he maintained that Earth was in the Sirius Sector.”
 
                “I’ve heard the name,” said Pelorat.

                “He’s a folk hero in Comporellon. Look, if you want to know these things--go to Comporellon. It’s no use hanging around here.”
 
                Pelorat said, “Just how did they say Earth planned to destroy the Empire?”
 
                “Don’t know.” A certain sullenness was entering Compor’s voice.
 
                “Did the radiation have anything to do with it?”
 
                “Don’t know. There were tales of some mind-expander developed on Earth--a Synapsifier or something.”
 
                “Did it create superminds?” said Pelorat in deepest tones of incredulity.
 
                “I don’t think so. What I chiefly remember is that it didn’t work. People became bright and died young.”
 
                Trevize said, “It was probably a morality myth. If you ask for too much, you lose even that which you have.”
 
                Pelorat turned on Trevize in annoyance. “What doyou know of morality myths?”
 
                Trevize raised his eyebrows. “Your field may not be my field, Janov, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally ignorant.”
 
                “What else do you remember about what you call the Synapsifier, Councilman Compor?” asked Pelorat.
 
                “Nothing, and I won’t submit to any further cross-examination. Look, I followed you on orders from the Mayor. I wasnot ordered to make personal contact with you. I have done so only to warn you that you were followed and to tell you that you had been sent out to serve the Mayor’s purposes, whatever those might be. There was nothing else I should have discussed with you, but you surprised me by suddenly bringing up the matter of Earth. Well, let me repeat: Whatever there has existed there in the past--Bel Arvardan, the Synapsifier, whatever--that has nothing to do with what exists now. I’ll tell you again: Earth is a dead world. I strongly advise you to go to Comporellon, where you’ll find out everything you want to know. Just get away from here.”
 
                “And, of course, you will dutifully tell the Mayor that we’re going to Comporellon--and you’ll follow us to make sure. Or maybe the Mayor knows already. I imagine she has carefully instructed and rehearsed you in every word you have spoken to us here because, for her own purposes, it’s in Comporellon that she wants us. Right?”
 
                Compor’s face paled. He rose to his feet and almost stuttered in his effort to control his voice. “I’ve tried to explain. I’ve tried to be helpful. I shouldn’t have tried. You can drop yourself into a black hole, Trevize.”
 
                He turned on his heel and walked away briskly without looking back.
 
                Pelorat seemed a bit stunned. “That was rather tactless of you, Golan, old fellow. I could have gotten more out of him.”
 
                “No, you couldn’t,” said Trevize gravely. “You could not have gotten one thing out of him that he was not ready to let you have. Janov, you don’t know what he is --Until today, I didn’t know what he is.”
 
 
 
 3.
 
 
 
 Pelorat hesitated to disturb Trevize. Trevize sat motionless in his chair, deep in thought.
 
                Finally Pelorat said, “Are we just sitting here all night, Golan?”
 
                Trevize started. “No, you’re quite right. We’ll be better off with people around us. Come!”
 
                Pelorat rose. He said, “There won’t be people around us. Compor said this was some sort of meditation day.”
 
                “Is that what he said? Was there traffic when we came along the road in our ground-car?”
 
                “Yes, some.”
 
                “Quite a bit, I thought. And then, when we entered the city, was it empty?”
 
                “Not particularly. --Still, you’ve got to admit that this place has been empty.”
 
                “Yes, it has. I noticed that particularly. --But come, Janov, I’m hungry. There’s got to be someplace to eat and we can afford to find something good. At any rate, we can find a place in which we can try some interesting Sayshellian novelty or, if we lose our nerve, good standard Galactic fare. --Come, once we’re safely surrounded, I’ll tell you what I think really happened here.”
 
 
 
 4.
 
 
 
 Trevize leaned back with a pleasant feeling of renewal. The restaurant was not expensive by Terminus standards, but it was certainly novel. It was heated, in part, by an open fire over which food was prepared. Meat tended to be served in bite-sized portions--in a variety of pungent sauces--which were picked up by fingers that were protected from grease and heat by smooth, green leaves that were cold, damp, and had a vaguely minty taste.
 
                It was one leaf to each meat-bit and the whole was taken into the mouth. The waiter had carefully explained how it had to be done. Apparently accustomed to off-planet guests, he had smiled paternally as Trevize and Pelorat gingerly scooped at the steaming bits of meat, and was clearly delighted at the foreigners’ relief at finding that the leaves kept the fingers cool and cooled the meat, too, as one chewed.
 
                Trevize said, “Delicious!” and eventually ordered a second helping. So did Pelorat.
 
                They sat over a spongy, vaguely sweet dessert and a cup of coffee that had a caramelized flavor at which they shook dubious heads. They added syrup, at which the waiter shookhis head.
 
                Pelorat said, “Well, what happened back there at the tourist center?”
 
                “You mean with Compor?”
 
                “Was there anything else there we might discuss?”
 
                Trevize looked about. They were in a deep alcove and had a certain limited privacy, but the restaurant was crowded and the natural hum of noise was a perfect cover.
 
                He said in a low voice, “Isn’t it strange that he followed us to Sayshell?”
 
                “He said he had this intuitive ability.”
 
                “Yes, he was all-collegiate champion at hypertracking. I never questioned that till today. I quite see that you might be able to judge where someone was going to Jump by how he prepared for it if you had a certain developed skill at it, certain reflexes--but Idon’t see how a tracker can judge a Jumpseries . You prepare only for the first one; the computer does all the others. The tracker can judge that first one, but by what magic can he guess what’s in the computer’s vitals?”
 
                “But he did it, Golan.”
 
                “He certainly did,” said Trevize, “and the only possible way I can imagine him doing so is by knowing in advance where we were going to go. Byknowing , not judging.”
 
                Pelorat considered that. “Quite impossible, my boy. How could he know? We didn’t decide on our destination till after we were on board theFar Star .”
 
                “I know that. --And what about this day of meditation?”
 
                “Compor didn’t lie to us. The waiter said it was a day of meditation when we came in here and asked him.”
 
                “Yes, he did, but he said the restaurant wasn’t closed. In fact, what he said was: ‘Sayshell City isn’t the backwoods. It doesn’t close down.’ People meditate, in other words, but not in thebig town, where everyone is sophisticated and there’s no place for small-town piety. So there’s traffic and it’s busy--perhaps not quite as busy as on ordinary days--but busy.”
 
                “But, Golan, no one came into the tourist center while we were there. I was aware of that. Not one person entered.”
 
                “I noticed that, too. I even went to the window at one point and looked out and saw clearly that the streets around the center had a good scattering of people on foot and in vehicles--and yet not one person entered. The day of meditation made a good cover. We would not have questioned the fortunate privacy we had if I simply hadn’t made up my mind not to trust that son of two strangers.”
 
      &nb............
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