Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Second Foundation 18. Ghost of a World

Trantor was a world in dregs and rebirth. Set like a faded jewel in the midst of the bewildering gathering of suns at the center of the Galaxy in the heaps and clusters of stars piled high with aimless prodigality it alternately dreamed of past and future. clock time had been when the insubstantial ribbons of control had stretched knocked out(p) from its metal coating to the very edges of stardom. It had been a single city, housing four hundred billion administrators the expertnessiest capital that had ever been.Until the decay of the Empire eventually reached it and in the Gr tucker out Sack of a century ago, its drooping powers had been bent back upon themselves and broken forever. In the blasting ruin of death, the metal shell that circled the planet contract and crumpled into an aching mock of its own grandeur.The survivors tore up the metal plating and sold it to other planets for thinkd and cattle. The soil was uncovered at one time more than and the planet returned to its beginnings. In the spreading areas of primitive agriculture, it forgot its intricate and colossal past.Or would subscribe but for the still mighty shards that heaped their massive ruins to ward the sky in nipping and dignified silence.Arcadia watched the metal rim of the horizon with a stirring of the heart. The village in which the Palvers lived was but a huddle of houses to her small and primitive. The fields that surrounded it were golden-yellow, wheat-cIogged tracts. exactly there, just past the reaching point was the memory of the past, still glowing in unrusted splendor, and burning with fire where the sun of Trantor caught it in gleaming highlights. She had been there once during the months since she had arrived at Trantor. She had climbed onto the smooth, unjointed pavement and ventured into the silent dust-streaked structures, where the light entered through the jags of broken walls and partitions.It had been solidified heartache. It had been blasphemy.She had left, clangingly running until her feet pounded softly on earth once more.And then she could just look back longingly. She dared not disturb that mighty brooding once more.Somewhere on this world, she knew, she had been born near the old Imperial Library, which was the veriest Trantor of Trantor. It was the consecrated of the sacred the holy of holies Of all the world, it alone had survived the Great Sack and for a century it had remained complete and untouched defiant of the universe. there Hari Seldon and his group had woven their unimaginable web. There Ebling Mis pierced the secret, and sat numbed in his vast surprise, until he was killed to prevent the secret from going further.There at the Imperial Library, her grandparents had lived for ten years, until the Mule died, and they could return to the born-again behind.There at the Imperial Library, her own plunkher returned with his bride to run into the Second Foundation once again, but failed. There, she had been born and the re her mother had died.She would have like to visit the Library, but Preem Palver shook his round head. Its thousands of miles, Arkady, and theres so much to do here. Besides, its not good to bother there. You k this instant its a shrine- only if Arcadia knew that he had no desire to visit the Library that it was a case of the Mules Palace over again. There was this superstitious fear on the part of the pygmies of the pre direct for the relies of the giants of the past.Yet it would have been horrible to feel a grudge against the funny midget fire progress for that. She had been on Trantor now for nearly three months and in all that time, he and she dada and Mamma had been wonderful to her-And what was her return? wherefore, to involve them in the common ruin. Had she warned them that she was marked for destruction, perhaps? No She let them assume the deadly role of protectors.Her conscience panged unbearably yet what choice had she?She stepped reluctantly down the stairs to breakfast. The voices reached her.Preem Palver had tucked the napkin down his shirt collar with a twist of his run short neck and had reached for his hunt down eggs with an uninhibited satisfaction.I was down in the city yesterday, Mamma, he verbalise, wielding his fork and nearly drowning the words with a capacious mouthful.And what is down in the city, public address system? asked Mamma indifferently, sitting down, looking sharply about the table, and rising again for the salt.Ah, not so good. A ship came in from out Kalgan-way with newspapers from there. Its war there. contend So Well, let them break their heads, if they have no more sense inside. Did your pay check come yet? Pappa, Im telling you again. You warn old man Cosker this isnt the only cooperative in the world. Its rubber enough they pay you what Im ashamed to tell my friends, but at least on time they could beTime shmime, said Pappa, irritably. Look, dont make me silly gabble at breakfast, it should choke me eac h bite in the throat, and he wreaked havoc among the buttered toast as he said it. He added, somewhat more moderately, The fighting is between Kalgan and the Foundation, and for two months, theyve been at it.His hands lunged at one another in mock-representation of a space fight.Um-m-m. And whats doing? rotten for the Foundation. Well, you saw Kalgan all soldiers. They were ready. The Foundation was not, and so poofAnd suddenly, Mamma laid down her fork and hissed, FoolHuh?Dumb-head Your big mouth is always moving and wagging.She was pointing cursorily and when Pappa looked over his shoulder, there was Arcadia, frozen in the doorway.She said, The Foundation is at war?Pappa looked helplessly at Mamma, then nodded.And theyre losing?Again the nod.Arcadia felt the intolerable catch in her throat, and slowly approached the table. Is it over? she whispered.Over? repeated Pappa, with false heartiness. Who said it was over? In war, lots of things can happen. And and-Sit down, darling, sai d Mamma, soothingly. No one should talk before breakfast. Youre not in a healthy condition with no food in the stomach.But Arcadia ignored her. Are the Kalganians on Terminus?No, said Pappa, seriously. The news is from last week, and Terminus is still fighting. This is honest. Im telling the truth. And the Foundation is still strong. Do you want me to get you the newspapers?YesShe read them over what she could eat of her breakfast and her eyes blurred as she read. Santanni and Korell were gone without a fight. A squadron of the Foundations navy had been trapped in the sparsely-sunned Ifni sector and wiped out to almost the last ship.And now the Foundation was back to the Four-Kingdom core the original Realm which had been built up under Salvor Hardin, the first mayor. But still it fought and still there might be a chance-and whatever happened, she must inform her father. She must somehow reach his ear. She mustBut how? With a war in the way.She asked Pappa aft(prenominal) breakf ast, Are you going out on a new mission soon, Mr. Palver?Pappa was on the large chair on the front lawn, sunning himself. A fat cigar smoldered between his plump fingers and he looked like a beatific pug-dog.A mission? he repeated, lazily. Who knows? Its a nice vacation and my leave isnt up. Why talk about new missions? Youre restless, Arkady?Me? No, I like it here. Youre very good to me, you and Mrs. Palver.He waved his hand at her, brushing away her words.Arcadia said, I was thinking about the war.But dont think about it. What can you do? If its something you cant help, wherefore hurt yourself over it?But I was thinking that the Foundation has lost most of its farming worlds. Theyre probably rationing food there.Pappa looked uncomfortable. Dont worry. Itll be all right.She scarcely listened. I wish I could carry food to them, thats what. You know after the Mule died, and the Foundation rebelled, Terminus was just about isolated for a time and General Han Pritcher, who succeeded the Mule for a while was laying siege to it. Food was running detestably low and my father says that his father told him that they only had dry amino-acid concentrates that tasted terrible. Why, one egg cost two hundred credits. And then they broke the siege just in time and food ships came through from Santanni. It must have been an awful time. Probably its happening all over, now.There was a pause, and then Arcadia said, You know, Ill bet the Foundation would be willing to pay smugglers prices for food now. Double and triple and more. Gee, if any co-operative, fr instance, here on Trantor took over the job, they might lose some ships, but, Ill bet theyd be war millionaires before it was over. The Foundation Traders in the old days used to do that all the time. Thered be a war, so theyd sell whatever was needed bad and take their chances. Golly, they used to make as much as two million dollars out of one trip profit. That was just out of what they could carry on one ship, too.Pap pa stirred. His cigar had gone out, unnoticed. A deal for food, huh? Hm-m-m- But the Foundation is so far away.Oh, I know. I guess you couldnt do it from here. If you took a rhythmical liner you probably couldnt get closer than Massena or Smushyk, and after that youd have to hire a small scoutship or something to slip you through the lines.Pappas hand brushed at his hair, as he calculated.***Two weeks later, arrangements for the mission were completed. Mamma railed for most of the time First, at the incurable self-control with which he courted suicide. Then, at the incredible obstinacy with which he refused to allow her to accompany him.Pappa said, Mamma, why do you act like an old lady. I cant take you. Its a mans work. What do you think a war is? Fun? Childs play?Then why do you go? Are you a man, you old fool with a leg and half an arm in the grave. Let some of the young ones go not a fat bald-head like you?Im not a bald-head, retorted Pappa, with dignity. I got yet lots of hair. And why should it not be me that gets the commission? Why, a young fellow? Listen, this could mean millions?She knew that and she subsided.Arcadia saw him once before he left.She said, Are you going to Terminus?Why not? You say yourself they need bread and rice and potatoes. Well, Ill make a deal with them, and theyll get it.Well, then just one thing If youre going to Terminus, could you would you observe my father?And Pappas face crinkled and seemed to melt into sympathy, Oh and I have to wait for you to tell me. Sure, Ill see him. Ill tell him youre safe and everythings O.K., and when the war is over, Ill bring you back.Thanks. Ill tell you how to find him. His name is Dr. Toran Darell and he lives in Stanmark. Thats just outside Terminus City, and you can get a little commuting plane that goes there. Were at 55 manoeuver Drive.Wait, and Ill write it down.No, no, Arcadias arm shot out. You mustnt write anything down. You must remember and find him without anybodys help .Pappa looked puzzled. Then he shrugged his shoulders. All right, then. Its 55 Channel Drive in Stanmark, outside Terminus City, and you commute there by plane. All right?One other thing.Yes?Would you tell him something from me?Sure.I want to whisper it to you.He leaned his plump cheek toward her, and the little whispered sound passed from one to the other.Pappas eyes were round. Thats what you want me to say? But it doesnt make sense.Hell know what you mean. Just say I sent it and that I said he would know what it means. And you say it exactly the way I told you. No different. You wont forget it?How can I forget it? Five little words. Look-No, no. She hopped up and down in the intensity of her feelings. Dont repeat it. Dont ever repeat it to anyone. Forget all about it except to my father. Promise me.Pappa shrugged again. I promise All rightAll right, she said, mournfully, and as he passed down the drive to where the air taxi waited to take him to the spaceport, she wondered if she had signed his death warrant. She wondered if she would ever see him again.She scarcely dared to walk into the house again to face the good, kind Mamma. Maybe when it was all over, she had better kill herself for what she had done to them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.