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CHAPTER FOURTEEN FORWARD!
  1.
 
 
 
       JANOV PELORAT LOOKED OUT AT THE DIM LANDSCAPE IN THE GRAYING dawn with an odd mixture of regret and uncertainty.
 
                “We aren’t staying long enough, Golan. It seems a pleasant and interesting world. I would like to learn more about it.”
 
                Trevize looked up from the computer with a wry smile. “You don’t think I would like to? We had three proper meals on the planet--totally different and each excellent. I’d like more. And the only women we saw, we saw briefly--and some of them looked quite enticing, for--well, for what I’ve got in mind.”
 
                Pelorat wrinkled his nose slightly. “Oh, my dear chap. Those cowbells they call shoes, and all wrapped around in clashing colors, and whatever do they do to their eyelashes. Did you notice their eyelashes?”
 
                “You might just as well believe I noticed everything, Janov. What you object to is superficial. They can easily be persuaded to wash their faces and, at the proper time, off come the shoes and the colors.”
 
                Pelorat said, “I’ll take your word for that, Janov. However, I was thinking more of investigating the matter of Earth further. ‘What we’ve been told about Earth, thus far, is so unsatisfactory, so contradictory--radiation according to one person, robots according to another.”
 
                “Death in either case.”
 
                “True,” said Pelorat reluctantly, “but it may be that one is true and not the other, or that both are true to some extent, or that neither is true. Surely, Janov, when you hear tales that simply shroud matters in thickening mists of doubt,surely you must feel the itch to explore, to find out.”
 
                “I do,” said Golan. “By every dwarf star in the Galaxy, I do. The problem at hand, however, is Gaia. Once that is straightened out, we can go to Earth, or come back here to Sayshell for a more extended stay. But first, Gaia.”
 
                Pelorat nodded, “The problem at hand! If we accept what Quintesetz told us, death is waiting for us on Gaia. Ought we to be going?”
 
                Trevize said, “I ask myself that. Are you afraid?”
 
                Pelorat hesitated as though he were probing his own feelings. Then he said in a quite simple and matter-of-fact manner. “Yes. Terribly!”
 
                Trevize sat back in his chair and swiveled to face the other. He said, just as quietly and matter-of-factly, “Janov, there’s no reason for you to chance this. Say the word and I’ll let you off on Sayshell with your personal belongings and with half our credits. I’ll pick you up when I return and it will be on to Sirius Sector, if you wish, and Earth, if that’s where it is. If I don’t return, the Foundation people on Sayshell will see to it that you get back to Terminus. No hard feelings if you stay behind, old friend.”
 
                Pelorat’s eyes blinked rapidly and his lips pressed together for a few moments. Then he said, rather huskily, “Old friend? We’ve known each other what? A week or so? Isn’t it strange that I’m going to refuse to leave the ship? Iam afraid, but I want to remain with you.”
 
                Trevize moved his hands in a gesture of uncertainty. “But why? I honestly don’t ask it of you.”
 
                “I’m not sure why, but I ask it of myself. It’s--it’s-- Golan, I have faith in you. It seems to me you always know what you’re doing. I wanted to go to Trantor where probably--as I now see-- nothing would have happened.You insisted on Gaia and Gaia must somehow be a raw nerve in the Galaxy. Things seem tohappen in connection with it. And if that’s not enough, Golan, I watched you force Quintesetz to give you the information about Gaia. That wassuch a skillful bluff. I was lost in admiration.”
 
                “You have faith in me, then.”
 
                Pelorat said, “Yes, I do.”
 
                Trevize put his hand on the other’s upper arm and seemed, for a moment, to be searching for words. Finally he said, “Janov, will you forgive me in advance if my judgment is wrong, and if you in one way or another meet with--whatever unpleasant may be awaiting us?”
 
                Pelorat said, “Oh, my dear fellow, why do you ask? I make the decision freely formy reasons, not yours. And, please--let us leave quickly. I don’t trust my cowardice not to seize me by the throat and shame me for the rest of my life.”
 
                “As you say, Janov,” said Trevize. “We’ll leave at the earliest moment the computer will permit. This time, we’ll be moving gravitically--straight up--as soon as we can be assured the atmosphere above is clear of other ships. And as the surrounding atmosphere grows less and less dense, we’ll put on more and more speed. Well within the hour, we’ll be in open space.”
 
                “Good,” Pelorat said and pinched the tip off a plastic coffee container. The opened orifice almost at once began steaming. Pelorat put the nipple to his mouth and sipped, allowing just enough air to enter his mouth to cool the coffee to a bearable temperature.
 
                Trevize grinned. “You’ve learned how to use those things beautifully. You’re a space veteran, Janov.”
 
                Pelorat stared at the plastic container for a moment and said, “Now that we have ships that can adjust a gravitational field at will, surely we can use ordinary containers, can’t we?”
 
                “Of course, but you’re not going to get space people to give up their space-centered apparatus. How is a space rat going to put distance between himself and surface worms if he uses an openmouthed cup? See those rings on the walls and ceilings? Those have been traditional in spacecraft for twenty thousand years and more, but they’re absolutely useless in a gravitic ship. Yet they’re there and I’ll bet the entire ship to a cup of coffee that your space rat will pretend he’s being squashed into asphyxiation on takeoff and will then sway back and forth from those rings as though he’s under zero-gray when its gee-one--normal-grav, that is--on both occasions.”
 
                “You’re joking.”
 
                “Well, maybe a little, but there’s always social inertia to everything--even technological advance. Those useless wall rings are there and the cups they supply us have nipples.”
 
                Pelorat nodded thoughtfully and continued to sip at his coffee. Finally he said, “And when do we take off?”
 
                Trevize laughed heartily and said, “Got you. I began talking about wall rings and you never noticed that we were taking off right at that time. We’re a mile high right now.”
 
                “You don’t mean it.”
 
                “Look out.”
 
                Pelorat did and then said, “But I never felt a thing.”
 
                “You’re not supposed to.”
 
                “Aren’t we breaking the regulations? Surely we ought to have followed a radio beacon in an upward spiral, as we did in a downward spiral on landing?”
 
                “No reason to, Janov. No one will stop us. No one at all.”
 
                “Coming down, you said--”
 
                “That was different. They weren’t anxious to see us arrive, but they’re ecstatic to see us go.”
 
                “Why do you say that, Golan? The only person who talked to us about Gaia was Quintesetz and he begged us not to go.”
 
                “Don’t you believe it, Janov. That was for form. He made sure we’d go to Gaia. --Janov, you admired the way I bluffed the information out of Quintesetz. I’m sorry, but I don’t deserve the admiration. If I had done nothing at all, he would have offered the information. If I had tried to plug my ears, he would have shouted it at me.”
 
                “Why do you say that, Golan? That’s crazy.”
 
                “Paranoid? Yes, I know.” Trevize turned to the computer and extended his sense intently. He said, “We’re not being stopped. No ships in interfering distance, no warning messages of any kind.”
 
                Again he swiveled in the direction of Pelorat. He said, “Tell me, Janov, how did you find out about Gaia? You knew about Gaia while we were still on Terminus. You knew it was in the Sayshell Sector. You knew the name was, somehow, a form of Earth. Where did you hear all this?”
 
                Pelorat seemed to stiffen. He said, “If I were back in my office on Terminus, I might consult my files. I have not broughteverything with me--certainly not the dates on which I first encountered this piece of data or that.”
 
                “Well, think about it,” said Trevize grimly. “Consider that the Sayshellians themselves are close-mouthed about the matter. They are so reluctant to talk about Gaia as it really is that they actually encourage a superstition that has the common people of the sector believing that no such planet exists in ordinary space. In fact, I can tell you something else. Watch this!”
 
                Trevize swung to the computer, his fingers sweeping across the direction hand-rests with the ease and grace of long practice. When he placed his hands on the manuals, he welcomed their warm touch and enclosure. He felt, as always, a bit of his will oozing outward.
 
                He said, “This is the computer’s Galactic map, as it existed within its memory banks before we landed on Sayshell. I am going to show you that portion of the map that represents the night sky of Sayshell as we saw it this past night.”
 
                The room darkened and a representation of a night sky sprang out onto the screen.
 
                Pelorat said in a low voice, “As beautiful as we saw it on Sayshell.”
 
                “More beautiful,” said Trevize, impatiently. “There is no atmospheric interference of any kind, no clouds, no absorption at the horizon. But wait, let me make an adjustment”
 
                The view shifted steadily, giving the two the uncomfortable impression that it was they who were moving. Pelorat instinctively took hold of the arms of his chair to steady himself.
 
                “There!” said Trevize. “Do you recognize that?”
 
                “Of course. Those are the Five Sisters--the pentagon of stars that Quintesetz pointed out. It is unmistakable.”
 
                “Yes indeed. But where is Gaia?”
 
                Pelorat blinked. There was no dim star at the center.
 
                “It’s not there,” he said.
 
                “That’s right. It’s not there. And that’s because its location is not included in the data banks of the computer. Since it passes the bounds of likelihood that those data banks were deliberately made incomplete in this respect for our benefit, I conclude that to the Foundation Gaiactographers who designed those data banks--and who had tremendous quantities of information at their disposal-- Gaia was unknown.”
 
                “Do you suppose if we had gone to Trantor--” began Pelorat.
 
                “I suspect we would have found no data on Gaia there, either. Its existence is kept a secret by the Sayshellians--and even more so, I suspect, by the Gaians themselves. You yourself said a few days ago it was not entirely uncommon that some worlds deliberately stayed out of sight to avoid taxation or outside interference.”
 
                “Usually,” said Pelorat, “when mapmakers and statisticians come across such a world, they are found to exist in thinly populated sections of the Galaxy. It’s isolation that makes it possible for them to hide. Gaia is not isolated.”
 
                “That’s right. That’s another of the things that makes it unusual. So let’s leave this map on the screen so that you and I might continue to ponder the ignorance of our Gaiactographers--and let me ask you again-- In view of this ignorance on the part of the most knowledgeable of people, how didyou come to hear of Gaia?”
 
                “I have been gathering data on Earth myths, Earth legends, and Earth histories for over thirty years, my good Golan. Without my complete records, how could I possibly--”
 
                “We can begin somewhere, Janov. Did you learn about it in, say, the first fifteen years of your research or in the last fifteen?”
 
                “Oh! Well, if we’re going to be that broad, it was later on.”
 
                “You can do better than that. Suppose I suggest that you learned of Gaia only in the last couple of years.”
 
                Trevize peered in Pelorat’s direction, felt the absence of any ability to read an unseen expression in the dimness, and raised the light level of the room a bit. The glory of the representation of the night sky on the screen dimmed in proportion. Pelorat’s expression was stony and revealed nothing.
 
                “Well?” said Trevize.
 
                “I’m thinking,” said Pelorat mildly. “You may be right. I wouldn’t swear to it. When I wrote Jimbor of Ledbet University, I didn’t mention Gaia, though in that case it would have been appropriate to do so, and that was in--let’s see--in ‘~ and that was three years ago. I think you’re right, Golan.”

 
                “And how did you come upon it?” asked Trevize. “In a communication? A book? A scientific paper? Some ancient song? How? --Come on!”
 
                Pelorat sat back and crossed his arms. He fell into deep thought and didn’t move. Trevize said nothing and waited.
 
                Finally Pelorat said, “In a private communication. --But it’s no use asking me from whom, my dear chap. I don’t remember.”
 
                Trevize moved his hands over his sash. They felt clammy as he continued his efforts to elicit information without too clearly forcing words into the other’s mouth. He said, “From a historian? From an expert in mythology? From a Gaiactographer?”
 
                “No use. I cannot match a name to the communication.”
 
                “Because, perhaps, there was none.”
 
                “Oh no. That scarcely seems possible.”
 
                “Why? Would you have rejected an anonymous communication?”
 
                “I suppose not.”
 
                “Did you ever receive any?”
 
                “Once in a long while. In recent years, I had become well known in certain academic circles as a collector of particular types of myths and legends and some of my correspondents were occasionally kind enough to forward material they had picked up from nonacademic sources. Sometimes these might not be attributed to anyone in particular.”
 
                Trevize said, “Yes, but did you ever receive anonymous information directly, and not by way of some academic correspondent?”
 
                “That sometimes happened--but very rarely.”
 
                “And can you be certain that this was not so in the case of Gaia?”
 
                “Such anonymous communications took place so rarely that I should think Iwould remember if it had happened in this case. Still, I can’t say certainly that the information was not of anonymous origin. Mind, though, that’s not to say that Idid receive the information from an anonymous source.”
 
                “I realize that. But it remains a possibility, doesn’t it?”
 
                Pelorat said, very reluctantly, “I suppose it does. But what’s all this about?”
 
                “I’m not finished,” said Trevize peremptorily. “Where did you get the information from--anonymous or not? What world?”
 
                Pelorat shrugged. “Come now, I haven’t the slightest idea.”
 
                “Could it possibly have been from Sayshell?”
 
                “I told you. I don’t know.”
 
                “I’m suggesting youdid get it from Sayshell.”
 
                “You can suggest all you wish, but that does not necessarily make it so.”
 
                “No? When Quintesetz pointed out the dim Star at the center of the Five Sisters, you knew at once it was Gaia. You said so later on to Quintesetz, identifying it before he did. Do you remember?”
 
                “Yes, of course.”
 
                “How was that possible? How did you recognize at once that the dim star was Gaia?”
 
                “Because in the material I had on Gaia, it was rarely referred to by that name. Euphemisms were common, many different ones. One of the euphemisms, several times repeated, was ‘the little Brother of the Five Sisters.’ Another was ‘the Pentagon’s Center’ and sometimes it was called ‘o Pentagon.’ When Quintesetz pointed out the Five Sisters and the central star, the allusions came irresistibly to mind.”
 
                “You never mentioned those allusions to me earlier.”
 
                “I didn’t know what they meant and I didn’t think it would have been important to discuss the matter with you, who were a--” Pelorat hesitated.
 
                “A nonspecialist?”
 
                “Yes.”
 
                “You realize, I hope, that the pentagon of the Five Sisters is an entirely relative form.”
 
                “What do you mean?”
 
                Trevize laughed affectionately. “You surface worm. Do you think the sky has an objective shape of its own? That the stars are nailed in place? The pentagon has the shape it has from the surface of the worlds of the planetary system to which Sayshell Planet belongs-- and from thereonly . From a planet circling any other star, the appearance of the Five Sisters is different. They are seen from a different angle, for one thing. For another, the five stars of the pentagon are at different distances from Sayshell and, seen from other angles, there could be no visible relationship among them at all. One or two stars might be in one half of the sky, the others in the other half. See here--”
 
                Trevize darkened the room again and leaned over the computer. “There are eighty-six populated planetary systems making up the Sayshell union. Let us keep Gaia--or the spot where Gaia ought to be--in place” (as he said that, a small red circle appeared in the center of the pentagon of the Five Sisters) “and shift to the skies as seen from any of the other eighty-six worlds taken at random.”
 
                The sky shifted and Pelorat blinked. The small red circle remained at the center of the screen, but the Five Sisters had disappeared. There were bright stars in the neighborhood but no tight pentagon. Again the sky shifted, and again, and again. It went on shifting. The red circle remained in place always, but at no time did a small pentagon of equally bright stars appear. Sometimes what might be a distorted pentagon of stars--unequally bright--appeared, but nothing like the beautiful asterism Quintesetz had pointed out.
 
                “Had enough?” said Trevize. “I assure you, the Five Sisters can never be seen exactly as we have seen it from any populated world but the worlds of the Sayshell planetary system.”
 
                Pelorat said, “The Sayshellian view might have been exported to other planets. There were many proverbs in Imperial times--some of which linger into our own, in fact--that are Trantor-centered.”
 
                “With Sayshell as secretive about Gaia as we know it to be? And why should worlds outside the Sayshell union be interested? Why would they care about a ‘little Brother of the Five Sisters’ if there were nothing in the skies at which to point?”
 
                “Maybe you’re right.”
 
                “Then don’t you see that your original information must have come from Sayshell itself? Not just from somewhere in the union, but precisely from the planetary system to which the capital world of the union belongs.”
 
                Pelorat shook his head. “You make it sound as though it must, but it’s not something I remember. I simply don’t.”
 
                “Nevertheless, youdo see the force of my argument, don’t you?”
 
                “Yes, I do.”
 
                “Next-- When do you suppose the legend could have originated?”
 
                “Anytime. I should suppose it developed far back in the Imperial Era. It has the feel of an ancient--”
 
                “You are wrong, Janov. The Five Sisters are moderately close to Sayshell Planet, which is why they’re so bright. Four of them have high proper motions in consequence and no two are part of a family, so that they move in different directions. Watch what happens as I shift the map backward in time slowly.”
 
                Again the red circle that marked the site of Gaia remained in place, but the pentagon slowly fell apart, as four of the stars drifted in different directions and the fifth shifted slightly.
 
                “Look at that, Janov,” said Trevize. “Would you say that was a regular pentagon?”
 
                “Clearly lopsided,” said Pelorat.
 
                “And is Gaia at the center?”
 
                “No, it’s well to the side.”
 
                “Very well. That is how the asterism looked one hundred and fifty years ago. One and a half centuries, that’s all. --The material you received concerning ‘the Pentagon’s Center’ and so on made no real sense till this centuryanywhere , not even in Sayshell. The material you received had to originate in Sayshell and sometime in this century, perhaps in the last decade. And you got it, even though Sayshell is so close-mouthed about Gaia.”
 
                Trevize put the lights on, turned the star map off, and sat there staring sternly at Pelorat.
 
                Pelorat said, “I’m confused. What’s this about?”
 
                “You tell me. Consider! Somehow I got the idea into my head that the Second Foundation still existed. I was giving a talk during my election campaign. I started a bit of emotional byplay designed to squeeze votes out of the undecided with a dramatic ‘If the Second Foundation still existed--’ and later that day I thought to myself: What if itdid still exist? I began reading history books and within a week, I was convinced. There was no real evidence, but I have always felt that I had the knack of snatching the right conclusion out of a welter of speculation. This time, though--”
 
                Trevize brooded a bit, then went on. “And look at what has happened since. Of all people, I chose Compor as my confidant and he betrayed me. Whereupon Mayor Branno had me arrested and sent into exile. Why into exile, rather than just having me imprisoned, or trying to threaten me into silence? And why in a very late-model ship which gives me extraordinary powers of Jumping through the Galaxy? And why, of all things, does she insist I take you and suggest that I help you search for Earth?
 
                “And why was I so certain that we should not go to Trantor? I was convinced you had a better target for our investigations and at once you come up with the mystery world of Gaia, concerning which, as it now turns out, you gained information under very puzzling circumstances.
 
                “We go to Sayshell--the first natural stop--and at once we encounter Compor, who gives us a circumstantial story about Earth and its death. He then assures us its location is in the Sirius Sector and urges us to go there.”
 
                Pelorat said, “There you are. You seem to be implying that all circumstances are forcing us toward Gaia, but, as you say, Compor tried to persuade us to go elsewhere.”
 
                “And in response, I was determined to continue on our original line of investigation out of my sheer distrust for the man. Don’t you suppose that that was what he might have been counting on? He may have deliberately told us to go elsewhere just to keep us from doing so.”
 
                “That’s mere romance,” muttered Pelorat.
 
                “Is it? Let’s go on. We get in touch with Quintesetz simply because he was handy--”
 
                “Not at all,” said Pelorat. “I recognized his name.”
 
                “It seemed familiar to you. You had never read anything he had written--that you could recall. Why was............
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