Prelude to Foundation Chapter 15 Undercover


DAVAN-... In the unsettled times marking the final centuries of the First Galactic Empire, the typical sources of unrest arose from the fact that political and military leaders jockeyed for "supreme" power (a supremacy that grew more worthless with each decade). Only rarely was there anything that could be called a popular movement prior to the advent of psychohistory. In this connection, one intriguing example involves Davan, of whom little is actually known, but who may have met with Hari Seldon at one time when...

Encyclopedia Galactica


Both Hari Seldon and Dors Venabili had taken rather lingering baths, making use of the somewhat primitive facilities available to them in the Tisalver household. They had changed their clothing and were in Seldon's room when Jirad Tisalver returned in the evening. His signal at the door was (or seemed) rather timid. The buzz did not last long.

Seldon opened the door and said pleasantly, "Good evening, Master Tisalver. And Mistress."

She was standing right behind her husband, forehead puckered into a puzzled frown.

Tisalver said tentatively, as though he was unsure of the situation, "Are you and Mistress Venabili both well?" He nodded his head as though trying to elicit an affirmative by body language.

"Quite well. In and out of Billibotton without trouble and we're all washed and changed. There's no smell left." Seldon lifted his chin as he said it, smiling, tossing the sentence over Tisalver's shoulder to his wife. She sniffed loudly, as though testing the matter.

Still tentatively, Tisalver said, "I understand there was a knife fight."

Seldon raised his eyebrows. "Is that the story?"

"You and the Mistress against a hundred thugs, we were cold, and you killed them all. Is that so?" There was the reluctant sound of deep respect in his voice.

"Absolutely not," Dors put in with sudden annoyance. "That's ridiculous. What do you think we are? Mass murderers? And do you think a hundred thugs would remain in place, waiting the considerable time it would take me-us-to kill them all? I mean, think about it."

"That's what they're saying," said Casilia Tisalver with shrill firmness. "We can't have that sort of thing in this house."

"In the first place," said Seldon, "it wasn't in this house. In the second, it wasn't a hundred men, it was ten. In the third, no one was killed. There was some altercation back and forth, after which they left and made way for us."

"They just made way. Do you expect me to believe that, Outworlders?" demanded Mistress Tisalver belligerently.

Seldon sighed. At the slightest stress, human beings seemed to divide themselves into antagonistic groups. He said, "Well, I grant you one of them was cut a little. Not seriously."

"And you weren't hurt at all?" said Tisalver. The admiration in his voice was more marked.

"Not a scratch," said Seldon. "Mistress Venabili handles two knives excellently well."

"I dare say," said Mistress Tisalver, her eyes dropping to Dors's belt, "and that's not what I want to have going on here." Dors said sternly, "As long as no one attacks us here, that's what you won't have here."

"But on account of you," said Mistress Tisalver, "we have trash from the street standing at the doorway."

"My love," said Tisalver soothingly, "let us not anger-"

"Why?" spat his wife with contempt. "Are you afraid of her knives? I would like to see her use them here."

"I have no intention of using them here," said Dors with a sniff as loud as any that Mistress Tisalver had produced. "What is this trash from the street you're talking about?"

Tisalver said, "What my wife means is that an urchin from Billibotton-at least, judging by his appearance-wishes to see you and we are not accustomed to that sort of thing in this neighborhood. It undermines our standing." He sounded apologetic.

Seldon said, "Well, Master Tisalver, we'll go outside, find out what it's all about, and send him on his business as quickly-"

"No. Wait," said Dors, annoyed. "These are our rooms. We pay for them. We decide who visits us and who does not. If there is a young man outside from Billibotton, he is nonetheless a Dahlite. More important, he's a Trantorian. Still more important, he's a citizen of the Empire and a human being. Most important, by asking to see us, he becomes our guest. Therefore, we invite him in to see us."

Mistress Tisalver didn't move. Tisalver himself seemed uncertain.

Dors said, "Since you say I killed a hundred bullies in Billibotton, you surely do not think I am afraid of a boy or, for that matter, of you two." Her right hand dropped casually to her belt.

Tisalver said with sudden energy, "Mistress Venabili, we do not intend to offend you. Of course these rooms are yours and you can entertain whomever you wish here." He stepped back, pulling his indignant wife with him, undergoing a burst of resolution for which he might conceivably have to pay afterward. Dors looked after them sternly.

Seldon smiled dryly. "How unlike you, Dors. I thought I was the one who quixotically got into trouble and that you were the calm and practical one whose only aim was to prevent trouble."

Dors shook her head. "I can't bear to hear a human being spoken of with contempt just because of his group identification-even by other human beings. It's these respectable people here who create those hooligans out there."

"And other respectable people," said Seldon, "who create these respectable people. These mutual animosities are as much a part of humanity-"

"Then you'll have to deal with it in your psychohistory, won't you?"

"Most certainly-if there is ever a psychohistory with which to deal with anything at all.-Ah, here comes the urchin under discussion. And it's Raych, which somehow doesn't surprise me."


Raych entered, looking about, clearly intimidated. The forefinger of his right hand reached for his upper lip as though wondering when he would begin to feel the first downy hairs there.

He turned to the clearly outraged Mistress Tisalver and bowed clumsily. "Thank ya, Missus. Ya got a lovely place."

Then, as the door slammed behind him, he turned to Seldon and Dors with an air of easy connoisseurship. "Nice place, guys."

"I'm glad you like it," said Seldon solemnly. "How did you know we were here?"

"Followed ya. How'd ya think? Hey, lady"-he turned to Dors-"you don't fight like no dame."

"Have you watched many dames fight?" asked Dors, amused.

Raych rubbed his nose, "No, never seen none whatever. They don't carry knives, except little ones to scare kids with. Never scared me."

"I'm sure they didn't. What do you do to make dames draw their knives?"

"Nothin'. You just kid around a little. You holler, 'Hey, lady, lemme-' " He thought about it for a moment and said, "Nothin'."

Dors said, "Well, don't try that on me."

"Ya kiddin'? After what ya did to Marron? Hey, lady, where'd you learn to fight that way?"

"On my own world."

"Could ya teach me?"

"Is that what you came here to see me about?"

"Akchaly, no. I came to bring ya a kind of message."

"From someone who wants to fight me?"

"No one wants to fight ya, lady. Listen, lady, ya got a reputation now. Everybody knows ya. You just walk down anywhere in old Billibotton and all the guys will step aside and let ya pass and grin and make sure they don't look cross-eyed at ya. Oh, lady, ya got it made. That's why he wants to see ya."

Seldon said, "Raych, just exactly who wants to see us?"

"Guy called Davan."

"And who is he?"

"Just a guy. He lives in Billibotton and don't carry no knife."

"And he stays alive, Raych?"

"He reads a lot and he helps the guys there when they get in trouble with the gov'ment. They kinda leave him alone. He don't need no knife."

"Why didn't he come himself, then?" said Dors. "Why did he send you?"

"He don't like this place. He says it makes him sick. He says all the people here, they lick the gov'ment's-" He paused, looked dubiously at the two Outworlders, and said, "Anyway, he won't come here. He said they'd let me in cause I was only a kid." He grinned. "They almost didn't, did they? I mean that lady there who looked like she was smellin' somethin'?" He stopped suddenly, abashed, and looked down at himself. "Ya don't get much chance to wash where I come from."

"It's all right," said Dors, smiling. "Where are we supposed to meet, then, if he won't come here? After all-if you don't mind-we don't feel like going to Billibotton."

"I told ya," said Raych indignantly. "Ya get free run of Billibotton, I swear. Besides, where he lives no one will bother ya."

"Where is it?" asked Seldon.

"I can take ya there. It ain't far."

"And why does he want to see us?" asked Dors.

"Dunno. But he says like this-" Raych half-closed his eyes in an effort to remember. " 'Tell them I wanna see the man who talked to a Dahlite heatsinker like he was a human being and the woman who beat Marron with knives and didn't kill him when she mighta done so.' I think I got it right."

Seldon smiled. "I think you did. Is he ready for us now?"

"He's waiting."

"Then we'll come with you." He looked at Dors with a trace of doubt in his eyes.

She said, "All right. I'm willing. Perhaps it won't be a trap of some sort. Hope springs eternal-"


There was a pleasant glow to the evening light when they emerged, a faint violet touch and a pinkish edge to the simulated sunset clouds that were scudding along. Dahl might have complaints of their treatment by the Imperial rulers of Trantor, but surely there was nothing wrong with the weather the computers spun out for them.

Dors said in a low voice, "We seem to be celebrities. No mistake about that."

Seldon brought his eyes down from the supposed sky and was immediately aware of a fair-sized crowd around the apartment house in which the Tisalvers lived. Everyone in the crowd stared at them intently. When it was clear that the two Outworlders had become aware of the attention, a low murmur ran through the crowd, which seemed to be on the point of breaking out into applause.

Dors said, "Now I can see where Mistress Tisalver would find this annoying. I should have been a little more sympathetic."

The crowd was, for the most part, poorly dressed and it was not hard to guess that many of the people were from Billibotton. On impulse, Seldon smiled and raised one hand in a mild greeting that was met with applause. One voice, lost in the safe anonymity of the crowd called out, "Can the lady show us some knife tricks?"

When Dors called back, "No, I only draw in anger," there was instant laughter. One man stepped forward. He was clearly not from Billibotton and bore no obvious mark of being a Dahlite. He had only a small mustache, for one thing, and it was brown, not black. He said, "Marlo Tanto of the 'Trantorian HV News.' Can we have you in focus for a bit for our nightly holocast?"

"No," said Dors shortly. "No interviews."

The newsman did not budge. "I understand you were in a fight with a great many men in Billibotton-and won." He smiled. "That's news, that is."

"No," said Dors. "We met some men in Billibotton, talked to them, and then moved on. That's all there is to it and that's all you're going to get."

"What's your name? You don't sound like a Trantorian."

"I have no name."

"And your friend's name?"

"He has no name."

The newsman looked annoyed, "Look, lady. You're news and I'm just trying to do my job."

Raych pulled at Dors's sleeve. She leaned down and listened to his earnest whisper.

She nodded and straightened up again. "I don't think you're a newsman, Mr. Tanto. What I think you are is an Imperial agent trying to make trouble for Dahl. There was no fight and you're trying to manufacture news concerning one as a way of justifying an Imperial expedition into Billibotton. I wouldn't stay here if I were you. I don't think you're very popular with these people."

The crowd had begun to mutter at Dors's first words. They grew louder now and began to drift, slowly and in a menacing way, in the direction of Tanto. He looked nervously around and began to move away.

Dors raised her voice. "Let him go. Don't anyone touch him. Don't give him any excuse to report violence."

And they parted before him.

Raych said, "Aw, lady, you shoulda let them rough him up."

"Bloodthirsty boy," said Dors, "take us to this friend of yours."


They met the man who called himself Davan in a room behind a dilapidated diner.

Far behind.

Raych led the way, once more showing himself as much at home in the burrows of Billibotton as a mole would be in tunnels underground in Helicon. It was Dors Venabili whose caution first manifested itself.

She stopped and said, "Come back, Raych. Exactly where are we going?"

"To Davan," said Raych, looking exasperated. "I told ya."

"But this is a deserted area. There's no one living here." Dors looked about with obvious distaste. The surroundings were lifeless and what light panels there were did not glower [but] did so only dimly.

"It's the way Davan likes it," said Raych. "He's always changing around, staying here, staying there. Ya know... changing around."

"Why?" demanded Dors.

"It's safer, lady."

"From whom?"

"From the gov'ment."

"Why would the government want Davan?"

"I dunno, lady. Tell ya what. I'll tell ya where he is and tell ya how to go and ya go on alone-if ya don't want me to take ya."

Seldon said, "No, Raych, I'm pretty sure we'll get lost without you. In fact, you had better wait till we're through so you can lead us back."

Raych said at once, "What's in it f'me? Ya expect me to hang around when I get hungry?"

"You hang around and get hungry, Raych, and I'll buy you a big dinner. Anything you like."

"Ya say that now. Mister. How do I know?"

Dors's hand flashed and it was holding a knife, blade exposed, "You're not calling us liars, are you, Raych?"

Raych's eyes opened wide. He did not seem frightened by the threat. He said, "Hey, I didn't see that. Do it again."

"I'll do it afterward-if you're still here. Otherwise"-Dors glared at him-"we'll track you down."

"Aw, lady, come on," said Raych. "Ya ain't gonna track me down. Ya ain't that kind. But I'll be here." He struck a pose. "Ya got my word." And he led them onward in silence, though the sound of their shoes was hollow in the empty corridors.

Davan looked up when they entered, a wild look that softened when he saw Raych.

He gestured quickly toward the two others-questioningly.

Raych said, "These are the guys." And, grinning, he left.

Seldon said, "I am Hari Seldon. The young lady is Dors Venabili." He regarded Davan curiously. Davan was swarthy and had the thick black mustache of the Dahlite male, but in addition he had a stubble of beard. He was the first Dahlite whom Seldon had seen who had not been meticulously shaven. Even the bullies of Billibotton had been smooth of cheek and chin. Seldon said, "What is your name, sir?"

"Davan. Raych must have told you."

"Your second name."

"I am only Davan. Were you followed here, Master Seldon?"

"No, I'm sure we weren't. If we had, then by sound or sight, I expect Raych would have known. And if he had not, Mistress Venabili would have."

Dors smiled slightly. "You have faith in me, Hari."

"More all the time," he said thoughtfully.

Davan stirred uneasily. "Yet you've already been found."


"Yes, I have heard of this supposed newsman."

"Already?" Seldon looked faintly surprised. "But I suspect he really was a newsman... and harmless. We tatted him an Imperial agent at Raych's suggestion, which was a good idea. The surrounding crowd grew threatening and we got rid of him."

"No," said Davan, "he was what you called him. My people know the man and he does work for the Empire.-But then you do not do as I do. You do not use a false name and change your place of abode. You go under your own names, making no effort to remain undercover. You are Hari Seldon, the mathematician."

"Yes, I am," said Seldon. "Why should I invent a false name?"

"The Empire wants you, does it not?"

Seldon shrugged. "I stay in places where the Empire cannot reach out to take me."

"Not openly, but the Empire doesn't have to work openly. I would urge you to disappear... really disappear."

"Like you... as you say," said Seldon looking about with an edge of distaste. The room was as dead as the corridors he had walked through. It was musty through and through and it was overwhelmingly depressing.

"Yes," said Davan. "You could be useful to us."

"In what way?"

"You talked to a young man named Yugo Amaryl."

"Yes, I did."

"Amaryl tells me that you can predict the future."

Seldon sighed heavily. He was tired of standing in this empty room. Davan was sitting on a cushion and there were other cushions available, but they did not look clean. Nor did he wish to lean against the mildew-streaked wall.

He said, "Either you misunderstood Amaryl or Amaryl misunderstood me. What I have done is to prove that it is possible to choose starting conditions from which historical forecasting does not descend into chaotic conditions, but can become predictable within limits. However, what those starting conditions might be I do not know, nor am I sure that those conditions can be found by any one person-or by any number of people-in a finite length of time. Do you understand me?"


Seldon sighed again. "Then let me try once more. It is possible to predict the future, but it may be impossible to find out how to take advantage of that possibility. Do you understand?"

Davan looked at Seldon darkly, then at Dors. "Then you can't predict the future."

"Now you have the point, Master Davan."

"Just call me Davan. But you may be able to learn to predict the future someday."

"That is conceivable."

"Then that's why the Empire wants you."

"No," Seldon raised his finger didactically. "It's my idea that that is why the Empire is not making an overwhelming effort to get me. They might like to have me if I can be picked up without trouble, but they know that right now I know nothing and that it is therefore not worth upsetting the delicate peace of Trantor by interfering with the local rights of this sector or that. That's the reason I can move about under my own name with reasonable security."

For a moment, Davan buried his head in his hands and muttered, "This is madness." Then he looked up wearily and said to Dors, "Are you Master Seldon's wife?"

Dors said calmly, "I am his friend and protector."

"How well do you know him?"

"We have been together for some months."

"No more?"

"No more."

"Would it be your opinion he is speaking the truth?"

"I know he is, but what reason would you have to trust me if you do not trust him? If Hari is, for some reason, lying to you, might I not be lying to you equally in order to support him?"

Davan looked from one to the other helplessly. Then he said, "Would you, in any case, help us?"

"Who are 'us' and in what way do you need help?"

Davan said, "You see the situation here in Dahl. We are oppressed. You must know that and, from your treatment of Yugo Amaryl, I cannot believe you lack sympathy for us."

"We are fully sympathetic."

"And you must know the source of the oppression."

"You are going to tell me that it's the Imperial government, I suppose, and I dare say it plays its part. On the other hand, I notice that there is a middle class in Dahl that despises the heatsinkers and a criminal class that terrorizes the rest of the sector."

Davan's lips tightened, but he remained unmoved. "Quite true. Quite true. But the Empire encourages it as a matter of principle. Dahl has the potential for making serious trouble. If the heatsinkers should go on strike, Trantor would experience a severe energy shortage almost at once... with all that that implies. However, Dahl's own upper classes will spend money to hire the hoodlums of Billibotton-and of other places-to fight the heatsinkers and break the strike. It has happened before. The Empire allows some Dahlites to prosper-comparatively-in order to convert them into Imperialist lackeys, while it refuses to enforce the arms-control laws effectively enough to weaken the criminal element.

"The Imperial government does this everywhere-and not in Dahl alone. They can't exert force to impose their will, as in the old days when they ruled with brutal directness. Nowadays, Trantor has grown so complex and so easily disturbed that the Imperial forces must keep their hands off-"

"A form of degeneration," said Seldon, remembering Hummin's complaints.

"What?" said Davan.

"Nothing," said Seldon. "Go on."

"The Imperial forces must keep their hands off, but they find that they can do much even so. Each sector is encouraged to be suspicious of its neighbors. Within each sector, economic and social classes are encouraged to wage a kind of war with each other. The result is that all over Trantor it is impossible for the people to take united action. Everywhere, the people would rather fight each other than make a common stand against the central tyranny and the Empire rules without having to exert force."

"And what," said Dors, "do you think can be done about it?"

"I've been trying for years to build a feeling of solidarity among the peoples of Trantor."

"I can only suppose," said Seldon dryly, "that you are finding this an impossibly difficult and largely thankless task."

"You suppose correctly," said Davan, "but the party is growing stronger. Many of our knifers are coming to the realization that knives are best when they are not used on each other. Those who attacked you in the corridors of Billibotton are examples of the unconverted. However, those who support you now, who are ready to defend you against the agent you thought was a newsman, are my people. I live here among them. It is not an attractive way of life, but I am safe here. We have adherents in neighboring sectors and we spread daily."

"But where do we come in?" asked Dors.

"For one thing," said Davan, "both of you are Outworlders, scholars. We need people like you among our leaders. Our greatest strength is drawn from the poor and the uneducated because they suffer the most, but they can lead the least. A person like one of you two is worth a hundred of them."

"That's an odd estimate from someone who wishes to rescue the oppressed," said Seldon.

"I don't mean as people," said Davan hastily. "I mean as far as leadership is concerned. The party must have among its leaders men and women of intellectual power."

"People like us, you mean, are needed to give your party a veneer of respectability."

Davan said, "You can always put something noble in a sneering fashion if you try. But you, Master Seldon, are more than respectable, more than intellectual. Even if you won't admit to being able to penetrate the mists of the future-"

"Please, Davan," said Seldon, "don't be poetic and don't use the conditional. It's not a matter of admitting. I can't foresee the future. Those are not mists that block the view but chrome steel barriers."

"Let me finish. Even if you can't actually predict with-what do you call it?-psychohistorical accuracy, you've studied history and you may have a certain intuitive feeling for consequences. Now, isn't that so?"

Seldon shook his head. "I may have a certain intuitive understanding for mathematical likelihood, but how far I can translate that into anything of historical significance is quite uncertain. Actually, I have not studied history. I wish I had. I feel the loss keenly."

Dors said evenly, "I am the historian, Davan, and I can say a few things if you wish."

"Please do," said Davan, making it half a courtesy, half a challenge.

"For one thing, there have been many revolutions in Galactic history that have overthrown tyrannies, sometimes on individual planets, sometimes in groups of them, occasionally in the Empire itself or in the pre-Imperial regional governments. Often, this has only meant a change in tyranny. In other words, one ruling class is replaced by another-sometimes by one that is more efficient and therefore still more capable of maintaining itself-while the poor and downtrodden remain poor and downtrodden or become even worse off."

Davan, listening intently, said, "I'm aware of that. We all are. Perhaps we can learn from the past and know better what to avoid. Besides, the tyranny that now exists is actual. That which may exist in the future is merely potential. If we are always to draw back from change with the thought that the change may be for the worse, then there is no hope at all of ever escaping injustice."

Dors said, "A second point you must remember is that even if you have right on your side, even if justice thunders condemnation, it is usually the tyranny in existence that has the balance of force on its side. There is nothing your knife handlers can do in the way of rioting and demonstrating that will have any permanent effect as long as, in the extremity, there is an army equipped with kinetic, chemical, and neurological weapons that is willing to use them against your people. You can get all the downtrodden and even all the respectables on your side, but you must somehow win over the security forces and the Imperial army or at least seriously weaken their loyalty to the rulers."

Davan said, "Trantor is a multigovernmental world. Each sector has its own rulers and some of them are themselves anti-Imperial. If we can have a strong sector on our side, that would change the situation, would it not? We would then not be merely ragamuffins fighting with knives and stones."

"Does that mean you do have a strong sector on your side or merely that it is your ambition to have one?"

Davan was silent.

Dors said, "I shall assume that you are thinking of the Mayor of Wye. If the Mayor is in the mood to make use of popular discontent as a way of improving the chance of toppling the Emperor, doesn't it strike you that the end the Mayor would have in view would be that of succeeding to the Imperial throne? Why should the Mayor risk his present not-inconsiderable position for anything less? Merely for the blessings of justice and the decent treatment of people, concerning whom he can have little interest?"

"You mean," said Davan, "that any powerful leader who is willing to help us may then betray us."

"It is a situation that is all too common in Galactic history."

"If we are ready for that, might we not betray him?"

"You mean, make use of him and then, at some crucial moment, subvert the leader of his forces-or a leader, at any rate-and have him assassinated?"

"Not perhaps exactly like that, but some way of getting rid of him might exist if that should prove necessary."

"Then we have a revolutionary movement in which the principal players must be ready to betray each other, with each simply waiting for the opportunity. It sounds like a recipe for chaos."

"You will not help us, then?" said Davan.

Seldon, who had been listening to the exchange between Davan and Dors with a puzzled frown on his face, said, "We can't put it that simply. We would like to help you. We are on your side. It seems to me that no sane man wants to uphold an Imperial system that maintains itself by fostering mutual hatred and suspicions. Even when it seems to work, it can only be described as meta-stable; that is, as too apt to fall into instability in one direction or another. But the question is: How can we help? If I had psychohistory, if I could tell what is most likely to happen, or if I could tell what action of a number of alternative possibilities is most likely to bring on an apparently happy consequence, then I would put my abilities at your disposal.-But I don't have it. I can help you best by trying to develop psychohistory."

"And how long will that take?"

Seldon shrugged. "I cannot say."

"How can you ask us to wait indefinitely?"

"What alternative do I have, since I am useless to you as I am? But I will say this: I have until very recently been quite convinced that the development of psychohistory was absolutely impossible. Now I am not so certain of that."

"You mean you have a solution in mind?"

"No, merely an intuitive feeling that a solution might be possible. I have not been able to pin down what has occurred to make me have that feeling. It may be an illusion, but I am trying. Let me continue to try.-Perhaps [then we'll] meet again."

"Or perhaps," said Davan, "if you return to where you are now staying, you will eventually find yourself in an Imperial trap. You may think that the Empire will leave you alone while you struggle with psychohistory, but I am certain the Emperor and his toady Demerzel are in no mood to wait forever, any more than I am."

"It will do them no good to hasten," said Seldon calmly, "since I am not on their side, as I am on yours.-Come, Dors."

They turned and left Davan, sitting alone in his squalid room, and found Raych waiting for them outside.


Raych was eating, licking his fingers, and crumpling the bag in which the food-whatever it was-had been. A strong smell of onions pervaded the air-different somehow, yeast-based perhaps.

Dors, retreating a little from the odor, said, "Where did you get the food from, Raych?"

"Davan's guys. They brought it to me. Davan's okay."

"Then we don't have to buy you dinner, do we?" said Seldon, conscious of his own empty stomach.

"Ya owe me somethin'," said Raych, looking greedily in Dors's direction. "How about the lady's knife? One of 'em."

"No knife," said Dors. "You get us back safely and I'll give you five credits."

"Can't get no knife for five credits," grumbled Raych.

"You're not getting anything but five credits," said Dors.

"You're a lousy dame, lady," said Raych.

"I'm a lousy dame with a quick knife, Raych, so get moving."

"All right. Don't get all perspired." Raych waved his hand. "This way."

It was back through the empty corridors, but this time Dors, looking this way and that, stopped. "Hold on, Raych. We're being followed."

Raych looked exasperated. "Ya ain't supposed to hear 'em."

Seldon said, bending his head to one side, "I don't hear anything."

"I do," said Dors. "Now, Raych, I don't want any fooling around. You tell me right now what's going on or I'll rap your head so that you won't see straight for a week. I mean it."

Raych held up one arm defensively. "You try it, you lousy dame. You try it. It's Davan's guys. They're just taking care of us, in case any knifers come along."

"Davan's guys?"

"Yeah. They're goin' along the service corridors."

Dors's right hand shot out and seized Raych by the scruff of his upper garment. She lifted and he dangled, shouting, "Hey, lady. Hey!"

Seldon said, "Dors! Don't be hard on him."

"I'll be harder still if I think he's lying. You're my charge, Hari, not he."

"I'm not lyin'," said Raych, struggling. "I'm not."

"I'm sure he isn't," said Seldon.

"Well, we'll see. Raych, tell them to come out where we can see them." She let him drop and dusted her hands.

"You're some kind of nut, lady," said Raych aggrievedly. Then he raised his voice. "Yay, Davan! Come out here, some of ya guys!"

There was a wait and then, from an unlit opening along the corridor, two dark-mustached men came out, one with a scar running the length of his cheek. Each held the sheath of a knife in his hand, blade withdrawn.

"How many more of you are there?" asked Dors harshly.

"A few," said one of the newcomers. "Orders. We're guarding you. Davan wants you safe."

"Thank you. Try to be even quieter. Raych, keep on moving."

Raych said sulkily, "Ya roughed me up when I was telling the truth."

"You're right," said Dors. "At least, I think you're right... and I apologize."

"I'm not sure I should accept," said Raych, trying to stand tall. "But awright, just this once." He moved on.

When they reached the walkway, the unseen corps of guards vanished. At least, even Dors's keen ears could hear them no more. By now, though, they were moving into the respectable part of the sector.

Dors said thoughtfully, "I don't think we have clothes that would fit you, Raych."

Raych said, "Why do ya want clothes to fit me, Missus?" (Respectability seemed to invade Raych once they were out of the corridors.) "I got clothes."

"I thought you'd like to come into our place and take a bath."

Raych said, "What for? I'll wash one o' these days. And I'll put on my other shirt." He looked up at Dors shrewdly. "You're sorry ya roughed me up. Right? Ya tryin' to make up?"

Dors smiled. "Yes. Sort of."

Raych waved a hand in lordly fashion. "That's all right. Ya didn't hurt. Listen. You're strong for a lady. Ya lifted me up like I was nothin'."

"I was annoyed, Raych. I have to be concerned about Master Seldon."

"Ya sort of his bodyguard?" Raych looked at Seldon inquiringly. "Ya got a lady for a bodyguard?"

"I can't help it," said Seldon smiling wryly. "She insists. And she certainly knows her job."

Dors said, "Think again, Raych. Are you sure you won't have a bath? A nice warm bath."

Raych said, "I got no chance. Ya think that lady is gonna let me in the house again?"

Dors looked up and saw Casilia Tisalver outside the front door of the apartment complex, staring first at the Outworld woman and then at the slum-bred boy. It would have been impossible to tell in which case her expression was angrier.

Raych said, "Well, so long, Mister and Missus. I don't know if she'll let either of ya in the house." He placed his hands in his pocket and swaggered off in a fine affectation of carefree indifference.

Seldon said, "Good evening, Mistress Tisalver. It's rather late, isn't it?"

"It's very late," she replied. "There was a near riot today outside this very complex because of that newsman you pushed the street vermin at."

"We didn't push anyone on anyone," said Dors.

"I was there," said Mistress Tisalver intransigently. "I saw it." She stepped aside to let them enter, but delayed long enough to make her reluctance quite plain.

"She acts as though that was the last straw," said Dors as she and Seldon made their way up to their rooms.

"So? What can she do about it?" asked Seldon.

"I wonder," said Dors.

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