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“Bridle and Saddle” Part 2

(Part 1)


Next to Sermak himself, Lewis Bort was the most active in rallying those dissident elements which had fused into the now-vociferous Action Party. Yet he had not been one of the deputation that had called on Salvor Hardin almost half a year previously. That this was so was not due to any lack of recognition of his efforts; quite the contrary. He was absent for the very good reason that he was on Anacreon’s capital world at the time.

He visited it as a private citizen. He saw no official and he did nothing of importance. He merely watched the obscure comers of the busy planet and poked his stubby nose into dusty crannies.

He arrived home toward the end of a short winter day that had started with clouds and was finishing with snow and within an hour was seated at the octagonal table in Sermak’s home. His first words were not calculated to improve the atmosphere of a gathering already considerably depressed by the deepening snow-filled twilight outside.

“I’m afraid,” he said, “that our position is what is usually termed, in melodramatic phraseology, a ‘Lost Cause.'”

“You think so?” said Sermak, gloomily.

“It’s gone past thought, Sermak. There’s no room for any other opinion.”

“Armaments-” began Dokor Walto, somewhat officiously, but Bort broke in at once.

“Forget that. That’s an old story.” His eyes traveled round the circle. “I’m referring to the people.

I admit that it was my idea originally that we attempt to foster a palace rebellion of some sort to install as king someone more favorable to the Foundation. It was a good idea. It still is. The only trifling flaw about it is that it is impossible. The great Salvor Hardin saw to that.”

Sermak said sourly, “If you’d give us the details, Bort-”

“Details! There aren’t any! It isn’t as simple as that. It’s the whole damned situation on Anacreon. It’s this religion the Foundation has established. It works!”


“You’ve got to see it work to appreciate it. All you see here is that we have a large school devoted to the training of priests, and that occasionally a special show is put on in some obscure comer of the city for the benefit of pilgrims and that’s all. The whole business hardly affects us as a general thing. But on Anacreon-”

Lem Tarki smoothed his prim little Vandyke with one finger, and cleared his throat. “What kind of religion is it? Hardin’s always said that it was just a fluffy flummery to get them to accept our science without question. You remember, Sermak, he told us that day-”

“Hardin’s explanations,” reminded Sermak, “don’t often mean much at face value. But what kind of a religion is it, Bort?”

Bort considered. “Ethically, it’s fine. It scarcely varies from the various philosophies of the old Empire. High moral standards and all that. There’s nothing to complain about from that viewpoint. Religion is one of the great civilizing influences of history and in that respect, it’s fulfilling-”

“We know that,” interrupted Sermak, impatiently. “Get to the point.”

“Here it is.” Bort was a trifle disconcerted, but didn’t show it. “The religion – which the Foundation has fostered and encouraged, mind you – is built on on strictly authoritarian lines. The priesthood has sole control of the instruments of science we have given Anacreon, but they’ve learned to handle these tools only empirically. They believe in this religion entirely, and in the … uh … spiritual value of the power they handle. For instance, two months ago some fool tampered with the power plant in the Thessalekian Temple – one of the large ones. He contaminated the city, of course. It was considered divine vengeance by everyone, including the priests.”

“I remember. The papers had some garbled version of the story at the time. I don’t see what you’re driving at.”

“Then, listen,” said Bort, stiffly. “The priesthood forms a hierarchy at the apex of which is the king, who is regarded as a sort of minor god. He’s an absolute monarch by divine right, and the people believe it, thoroughly, and the priests, too. You can’t overthrow a king like that. Now do you get the point?”

“Hold on,” said Walto, at this point. “What did you mean when you said Hardin’s done all this? How does he come in?”

Bort glanced at his questioner bitterly. “The Foundation has fostered this delusion assiduously. We’ve put all our scientific backing behind the hoax. There isn’t a festival at which the king does not preside surrounded by a radioactive aura shining forth all over his body and raising itself like a coronet above his head. Anyone touching him is severely burned. He can move from place to place through the air at crucial moments, supposedly by inspiration of divine spirit. He fills the temple with a pearly, internal light at a gesture. There is no end to these quite simple tricks that we perform for his benefit; but even the priests believe them, while working them personally.”

“Bad!” said Sermak, biting his lip.

“I could cry – like the fountain in City Hall Park,” said Bort, earnestly, “when I think of the chance we muffed. Take the situation thirty years ago, when Hardin saved the Foundation from Anacreon – At that time, the Anacreonian people had no real conception of the fact that the Empire was running down. They had been more or less running their own affairs since the Zeonian revolt, but even after communications broke down and Lepold’s pirate of a grandfather made himself king, they never quite realized the Empire had gone kaput.

“If the Emperor had had the nerve to try, he could have taken over again with two cruisers and with the help of the internal revolt that would have certainly sprung to life. And we we could have done the same; but no, Hardin established monarch worship. Personally, I don’t understand it. Why? Why? Why?”

“What,” demanded Jaim Orsy, suddenly, “does Verisof do? There was a day when he was an advanced Actionist. What’s he doing there? Is he blind, too?”

“I don’t know,” said Bort, curtly. “He’s high priest to them. As far as I know, he does nothing but act as adviser to the priesthood on technical details. Figurehead, blast him, figurehead!”

There was silence all round and all eyes turned to Sermak. The young party leader was biting a fingernail nervously, and then said loudly, “No good. It’s fishy!”

He looked around him, and added more energetically, “Is Hardin then such a fool?”

“Seems to be,” shrugged Bort.

“Never! There’s something wrong. To cut our own throats so thoroughly and so hopelessly would require colossal stupidity. More than Hardin could possibly have even if he were a fool, which I deny. On the one hand, to establish a religion that would wipe out all chance of internal troubles. On the other hand, to arm Anacreon with all weapons of warfare. I don’t see it.”

“The matter is a little obscure, I admit,” said Bort, “but the facts are there. What else can we think?”

Walto said, jerkily, “Outright treason. He’s in their pay.”

But Sermak shook his head impatiently. “I don’t see that, either. The whole affair is as insane and meaningless – Tell me, Bort, have you heard anything about a battle cruiser that the Foundation is supposed to have put into shape for use in the Anacreon navy?”

“Battle cruiser?”

“An old Imperial cruiser-”

“No, I haven’t. But that doesn’t mean much. The navy yards are religious sanctuaries completely inviolate on the part of the lay public. No one ever hears anything about the fleet.”

“Well, rumors have leaked out. Some of the Party have brought the matter up in Council. Hardin never denied it, you know. His spokesmen denounced rumor mongers and let it go at that. It might have significance.”

“It’s of a piece with the rest,” said Bort. “if true, it’s absolutely crazy. But it wouldn’t be worse than the rest.”

“I suppose,” said Orsy, “Hardin hasn’t any secret weapon waiting. That might-”

“Yes,” said Sermak, viciously, “a huge jack-in-the-box that will jump out at the psychological moment and scare old Wienis into fits. The Foundation may as well blow itself out of existence and save itself the agony of suspense if it has to depend on any secret weapon.”

“Well,” said Orsy, changing the subject hurriedly, “the question comes down to this: How much time have we left? Eli, Bort?”

“All fight. It is the question. But don’t look at me; I don’t know. The Anacreonian press never mentions the Foundation at all. Right now, it’s full of the approaching celebrations and nothing else. Lepold is coming of age next week, you know.”

“We have months then.” Walto smiled for the first time that evening. “That gives us time-”

“That gives us time, my foot,” ground out Bort, impatiently. “The king’s a god, I tell you. Do you suppose he has to carry on a campaign of propaganda to get his people into fighting spirit? Do you suppose he has to accuse us of aggression and pull out all stops on cheap emotionalism? When the time comes to strike, Lepold gives the order and the people fight. Just like that. That’s the damnedness of the system. You don’t question a god. He may give the order tomorrow for all I know; and you can wrap tobacco round that and smoke it.”

Everyone tried to talk at once and Sermak was slamming the table for silence, when the front door opened and Levi Norast stamped in. He bounded up the stairs, overcoat on, trailing snow.

“Look at that!” he cried, tossing a cold, snow-speckled newspaper onto the table. “The visicasters are full of it, too.”

The newspaper was unfolded and five heads bent over it.

Sermak said, in a hushed voice, “Great Space, he’s going to Anacreon! Going to Anacreon!”

It is treason,” squeaked Tarki, in sudden excitement. “I’ll be damned if Walto isn’t right. He’s sold us out and now he’s going there to collect his wage.”

Sermak had risen. “We’ve no choice now. I’m going to ask the Council tomorrow that Hardin be
impeached. And if that fails-”


The snow had ceased, but it caked the ground deeply now and the sleek ground car advanced through the deserted streets with lumbering effort. The murky gray light of incipient dawn was cold not only in the poetical sense but also in a very literal way – and even in the then turbulent state of the Foundation’s politics, no one, whether Actionist or pro-Hardin found his spirits sufficiently ardent to begin street activity that early.

Yohan Lee did not like that and his grumblings grew audible. “It’s going to look bad, Hardin. They’re going to say you sneaked away.”

“Let them say it if they wish. I’ve got to get to Anacreon and I want to do it without trouble. Now that’s enough, Lee.”

Hardin leaned back into the cushioned seat and shivered slightly. It wasn’t cold inside the well-heated car, but there was something frigid about a snow-covered world, even through glass, that annoyed him.

He said, reflectively, “Some day when we get around to it we ought to weather-condition Terminus. It could be done.”

“I,” replied Lee, “would like to see a few other things done first. For instance, what about weather-conditioning Sermak? A nice, dry cell fitted for twenty-five centigrade all year round would be just fight.”

“And then I’d really need bodyguards,” said Hardin, “and not just those two,” He indicated two of Lee’s bully-boys sitting up front with the driver, hard eyes on the empty streets, ready hands at their atom blasts. “You evidently want to stir up civil war.”

“I do? There are other sticks in the fire and it won’t require much stirring, I can tell you.” He counted off on blunt fingers, “One: Sermak raised hell yesterday in the City Council and called for an impeachment.”

“He had a perfect right to do so,” responded Hardin, coolly. “Besides which, his motion was defeated 206 to 184.”

“Certainly. A majority of twenty-two when we had counted on sixty as a minimum. Don’t deny it; you know you did.”

It was close,” admitted Hardin.

“All right. And two; after the vote, the fifty-nine members of the Actionist Party reared upon their hind legs and stamped out of the Council Chambers.”

Hardin was silent, and Lee continued, “And three: Before leaving, Sermak howled that you were a traitor, that you were going to Anacreon to collect your payment, that the Chamber majority in refusing to vote impeachment had participated in the treason, and that the name of their party was not ‘Actionist’ for nothing. What does that sound like?”

“Trouble, I suppose.”

“And now you’re chasing off at daybreak, like a criminal. You ought to face them, Hardin – and if you have to, declare martial law, by space!”

“Violence is the last refuge-”

“-Of the incompetent. Bah!”

“All right. We’ll see. Now listen to me carefully, Lee. Thirty years ago, the Time Vault opened, and on the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Foundation, there appeared a Hari Seldon recording to give us our first idea of what was really going on.”

“I remember,” Lee nodded reminiscently, with a half smile. “It was the day we took over the government.”

“That’s right. It was the time of our first major crisis. This is our second – and three weeks from today will be the eightieth anniversary of the beginning of the Foundation. Does that strike you as in any way significant?”

“You mean he’s coming again?”

“I’m not finished. Seldon never said anything about returning, you understand, but that’s of a piece with his whole plan. He’s always done his best to keep all foreknowledge from us. Nor is there any way of telling whether the computer is set for further openings short of dismantling the Vault – and it’s probably set to destroy itself if we were to try that. I’ve been there every anniversary since the first appearance, just on the chance. He’s never shown up, but this is the first time since then that there’s really been a crisis.”

“Then he’ll come.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. However, this is the point. At today’s session of the Council, just after you announce that I have left for Anacreon, you will further announce, officially, that on March 14th next, there will be another Hari Seldon recording, containing a message of the utmost importance regarding the recent successfully concluded crisis. That’s very important, Lee. Don’t add anything more no matter how many questions are asked.”

Lee stared. “Will they believe it?”

“That doesn’t matter. It will confuse them, which is all I want. Between wondering whether it is true and what I mean by it if it isn’t – they’ll decide to postpone action till after March 1 4th. I’ll be back considerably before then.”

Lee looked uncertain. “But that ‘successfully concluded.’ That’s bull!”

“Highly confusing bull. Here’s the airport!”

The waiting spaceship bulked somberly in the dimness. Hardin stamped through the snow toward it and at the open air lock turned about with outstretched hand.

“Good-by, Lee. I hate to leave you in the frying pan like this, but there’s not another I can trust. Now please keep out of the fire.”

“Don’t worry. The frying pan is hot enough. I’ll follow orders.” He stepped back, and the air lock closed.


Salvor Hardin did not travel to the planet Anacreon – from which planet the kingdom derived its name – immediately. It was only on the day before the coronation that he arrived, after having made flying visits to eight of the larger stellar systems of the kingdom, stopping only long, enough to confer with the local representatives of the Foundation.

The trip left him with an oppressive realization of the vastness of the kingdom. It was a little splinter, an insignificant fly speck compared to the inconceivable reaches of the Galactic Empire of which it had once formed so distinguished a part; but to one whose habits of thought had been built around a single planet, and a sparsely settled one at that, Anacreon’s size in area and population was staggering.

Following closely the boundaries of the old Prefect of Anacreon, it embraced twenty-five stellar systems, six of which included more than one inhabited world. The population of nineteen billion, though still far less than it had been in the Empire’s heyday was rising rapidly with the increasing scientific development fostered by the Foundation.

And it was only now that Hardin found himself floored by the magnitude of that task. Even in thirty years, only the capital world had been powered. The outer provinces still possessed immense stretches where nuclear power had not yet been re-introduced. Even the progress that had been made might have been impossible had it not been for the still workable relics left over by the ebbing tide of Empire.

When Hardin did arrive at the capital world, it was to find all normal business at an absolute standstill. In the outer provinces there had been and still were celebrations; but here on the planet Anacreon, not a person but took feverish part in the hectic religious pageantry that heralded the coming-of-age of their god-king, Lepold.

Hardin had been able to snatch only half an hour from a haggard and harried Verisof before his ambassador was forced to rush off to supervise still another temple festival. But the half-hour was a most profitable one, and Hardin prepared himself for the night’s fireworks well satisfied.

In all, he acted as an observer, for he had no stomach for the religious tasks he would undoubtedly have had to undertake if his identity became known. So, when the palace’s ballroom filled itself with a glittering horde of the kingdom’s very highest and most exalted nobility, he found himself hugging the wall, little noticed or totally ignored.

He had been introduced to Lepold as one of a long line of introducees, and from a safe distance, for the king stood apart in lonely and impressive grandeur, surrounded by his deadly blaze of radioactive aura. And in less than an hour this same king would take his seat upon the massive throne of rhodium-iridium alloy with jewel-set gold chasings, and then, throne and all would rise majestically into the air, skim the ground slowly to hover before the great window from which the great crowds of common folk could see their king and shout themselves into near apoplexy. The throne would not have been so massive, of course, if it had not had a shielded nuclear motor built into it.

It was past eleven. Hardin fidgeted and stood on his toes to better his view. He resisted an impulse to stand on a chair. And then he saw Wienis threading through the crowd toward him and he relaxed.

Wienis’ progress was slow. At almost every step, he had to pass a kindly sentence with some revered noble whose grandfather had helped Lepold’s grandfather brigandize the kingdom and had received a dukedom therefor.

And then he disentangled himself from the last uniformed peer and reached Hardin. His smile crooked itself into a smirk and his black eyes peered from under grizzled brows with glints of satisfaction in them.

“My dear Hardin,” he said, in a low voice, “you must expect to be bored, when you refuse to announce your identity.”

“I am not bored, your highness. This is all extremely interesting. We have no comparable spectacles on Terminus, you know.”

“No doubt. But would you care to step into my private chambers, where we can speak at greater length and with considerably more privacy?”


With arms linked, the two ascended the staircase, and more than one dowager duchess stared after them in surprise and wondered at the identity of this insignificantly dressed and uninteresting-looking stranger on whom such signal honor was being conferred by the prince regent.

In Wienis’ chambers, Hardin relaxed in perfect comfort and accepted with a murmur of gratitude the glass of liquor that had been poured out by the regent’s own hand.

“Locris wine, Hardin,” said Wienis, “from the royal cellars. The real thing – two centuries in age. It was laid down ten years before the Zeonian Rebellion.”

“A really royal drink,” agreed Hardin, politely. “To Lepold I, King of Anacreon.”

They drank, and Wienis added blandly, at the pause, “And soon to be Emperor of the Periphery, and further, who knows? The Galaxy may some day be reunited.”

“Undoubtedly. By Anacreon?”

“Why not? With the help of the Foundation, our scientific superiority over the rest of the Periphery would be undisputable.”

Hardin set his empty glass down and said, “Well, yes, except that, of course, the Foundation is bound to help any nation that requests scientific aid of it. Due to the high idealism of our government and the great moral purpose of our founder, Hari Seldon, we are unable to play favorites. That can’t be helped, your highness.”

Wienis’ smile broadened. “The Galactic Spirit, to use the popular cant, helps those who help themselves. I quite understand that, left to itself, the Foundation would never cooperate.”

“I wouldn’t say that. We repaired the Imperial cruiser for you, though my board of navigation wished it for themselves for research purposes.”

The regent repeated the last words ironically. “Research purposes! Yes! Yet you would not have repaired it, had I not threatened war.”

Hardin made a deprecatory gesture. “I don’t know.”

“I do. And that threat always stood.”

“And still stands now?”

“Now it is rather too late to speak of threats.” Wienis had cast a rapid glance at the clock on his desk. “Look here, Hardin, you were on Anacreon once before. You were young then; we were both young. But even then we had entirely different ways of looking at things. You’re what they call a man of peace, aren’t you?”

“I suppose I am. At least, I consider violence an uneconomical way of attaining an end. There are always better substitutes, though they may sometimes be a little less direct.”

“Yes. I’ve heard of your famous remark: ‘Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.’ And yet” – the regent scratched one ear gently in affected abstraction -“I wouldn’t call myself exactly incompetent.”

Hardin nodded politely and said nothing.

“And in spite of that,” Wienis continued, “I have always believed in direct action. I have believed in carving a straight path to my objective and following that path. I have accomplished much that way, and fully expect to accomplish still more.”

“I know,” interrupted Hardin. “I believe you are carving a path such as you describe for yourself and your children that leads directly to the throne, considering the late unfortunate death of the king’s father – your elder brother and the king’s own precarious state of health. He is in a precarious state of health, is he not?”

Wienis frowned at the shot, and his voice grew harder. “You might find it advisable, Hardin, to avoid certain subjects. You may consider yourself privileged as mayor of Terminus to make… uh … injudicious remarks, but if you do, please disabuse yourself of the notion. I am not one to be frightened at words. It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly, and I have never turned my back upon one yet.”

“I don’t doubt that. What particular difficulty are you refusing to turn your back upon at the present moment?”

“The difficulty, Hardin, of persuading the Foundation to co-operate. Your policy of peace, you see, has led you into making several very serious mistakes, simply because you underestimated the boldness of your adversary. Not everyone is as afraid of direct action as you are.”

“For instance?” suggested Hardin.

“For instance, you came to Anacreon alone and accompanied me to my chambers alone.” Hardin looked about him. “And what is wrong with that?”

“Nothing,” said the regent, “except that outside this room are five police guards, well armed and ready to shoot. I don’t think you can leave, Hardin.”

The mayor’s eyebrows lifted, “I have no immediate desire to leave. Do you then fear me so much?”

“I don’t fear you at all. But this may serve to impress you with my determination. Shall we call it a gesture?”

“Call it what you please,” said Hardin, indifferently. “I shall not discommode myself over the incident, whatever you choose to call it.”

“I’m sure that attitude will change with time. But you have made another error, Hardin, a more serious one. It seems that the planet Terminus is almost wholly undefended.”

“Naturally. What have we to fear? We threaten no one’s interest and serve all alike.”

“And while remaining helpless,” Wienis went on, “you kindly helped us to arm ourselves, aiding us particularly in the development of a navy of our own, a great navy. In fact, a navy which, since your donation of the Imperial cruiser, is quite irresistible.”

“Your highness, you are wasting time.” Hardin made as if to rise from his seat. “If you mean to declare war, and are informing me of the fact, you will allow me to communicate with my government at once.”

“Sit down, Hardin. I am not declaring war, and you are not communicating with your government at all. When the war is fought – not declared, Hardin, fought – the Foundation will be informed of it in due time by the nuclear blasts of the Anacreonian navy under the lead of my own son upon the flagship, Wienis, once a cruiser of the Imperial navy.”

Hardin frowned. “When will all this happen?”

“If you’re really interested, the ships of the fleet left Anacreon exactly fifty minutes ago, at eleven, and the first shot will be fired as soon as they sight Terminus, which should be at noon tomorrow. You may consider yourself a prisoner of war.”

“That’s exactly what I do consider myself, your highness,” said Hardin, still frowning. “But I’m disappointed.”

Wienis chuckled contemptuously. “Is that all?”

“Yes. I had thought that the moment of coronation – midnight, you know – would be the logical time to set the fleet in motion. Evidently, you wanted to start the war while you were still regent. It would have been more dramatic the other way.”

The regent stared. “What in Space are you talking about?”

“Don’t you understand?” said Hardin, softly. “I had set my counterstroke for midnight.”

Wienis started from his chair. “You are not bluffing me. There is no counterstroke. If you are counting on the support of the other kingdoms, forget it. Their navies, combined, are no match for ours.”

“I know that. I don’t intend firing a shot. It is simply that the word went out a week ago that at midnight tonight, the planet Anacreon goes under the interdict.”

“The interdict?”

“Yes. If you don’t understand, I might explain that every priest in Anacreon is going on strike, unless I countermand the order. But I can’t while I’m being held incommunicado; nor do I wish to even if I weren’t!” He leaned forward and added, with sudden animation, “Do you realize, your highness, that an attack on the Foundation is nothing short of sacrilege of the highest order?”

Wienis was groping visibly for self-control. “Give me none of that, Hardin. Save it for the mob.”

“My dear Wienis, whoever do you think I am saving it for? I imagine that for the last half hour every temple on Anacreon has been the center of a mob listening to a priest exhorting them upon that very subject. There’s not a man or woman on Anacreon that doesn’t know that their government has launched a vicious, unprovoked attack upon the center of their religion. But it lacks only four minutes of midnight now. You’d better go down to the ballroom to watch events. I’ll be safe here with five guards outside the door.” He leaned back in his chair, helped himself to another glass of Locris wine, and gazed at the ceiling with perfect indifference.

Wienis suddenly furious, rushed out of the room.

A hush had fallen over the elite in the ballroom, as a broad path was cleared for the throne. Lepold sat on it now, hands solidly on its arms, head high, face frozen. The huge chandeliers had dimmed and in the diffused multi-colored light from the tiny nucleo-bulbs that bespangled the vaulted ceiling, the royal aura shone out bravely, lifting high above his head to form a blazing coronet.

Wienis paused on the stairway. No one saw him; all eyes were on the throne. He clenched his fists and remained where he was; Hardin would not bluff him into action.

And then the throne stiffed. Noiselessly, it lifted upward – and drifted. Off the dais, slowly down the steps, and then horizontally, five centimetres off the floor, it worked itself toward the huge, open window.

At the sound of the deep-toned bell that signified midnight, it stopped before the window – and the king’s aura died.

For a frozen split second, the king did not move, face twisted in surprise, without an aura, merely human; and then the throne wobbled and dropped to the floor with a crashing thump, just as every light in the palace went out.

Through the shrieking din and confusion, Wienis’ bull voice sounded. “Get the flares! Get the flares!”

He buffeted right and left through the crowd and forced his way to the door. From without, palace guards had streamed into the darkness.

Somehow the flares were brought back to the ballroom; flares that were to have been used in the gigantic torchlight procession through the streets of the city after the coronation.

Back to the ballroom guardsmen swarmed with torches – blue, green, and red; where the strange light lit up frightened, confused faces.

“There is no harm done,” shouted Wienis. “Keep your places. Power will return in a moment.” He turned to the captain of the guard who stood stiffly at attention. “What is it, Captain?”

“Your highness,” was the instant response, “the palace is surrounded by the people of the city.”

“What do they want?” snarled Wienis.

“A priest is at the head. He has been identified as High Priest Poly Verisof. He demands the immediate release of Mayor Salvor Hardin and cessation of the war against the Foundation.” The report was made in the expressionless tones of an officer, but his eyes shifted uneasily.

Wienis cried, “if any of the rabble attempt to pass the palace gates, blast them out of existence. For the moment, nothing more. Let them howl! There will be an accounting tomorrow.”

The torches had been distributed now, and the ballroom was again alight. Wienis rushed to the throne, still standing by the window, and dragged the stricken, wax-faced Lepold to his feet.

“Come with me.” He cast one look out of the window. The city was pitch-black. From below there were the hoarse confused cries of the mob. Only toward the fight, where the Argolid Temple stood was there illumination. He swore angrily, and dragged the king away.

Wienis burst into his chambers, the five guardsmen at his heels. Lepold followed, wide-eyed, scared speechless.

“Hardin,” said Wienis, huskily, “you are playing with forces too great for you.”

The mayor ignored the speaker. In the pearly light of the pocket nucleo-bulb at his side, he remained quietly seated, a slightly ironic smile on his face.

“Good morning, your majesty,” he said to Lepold. “I congratulate you on your coronation.”

“Hardin,” cried Wienis again, “order your priests back to their jobs.”

Hardin looked up coolly. “Order them yourself, Wienis, and see who is playing with forces too great for whom. Right now, there’s not a wheel turning in Anacreon. There’s not a light burning, except in the temples. There’s not a drop of water running, except in the temples. On the wintry half of the planet, there’s not a calorie of heat, except in the temples. The hospitals are taking in no more patients. The power plants have shut down. All ships are grounded. If you don’t like it, Wienis, you can order the priests back to their jobs. I don’t wish to.”

“By Space, Hardin, I will. If it’s to be a showdown, so be it. We’ll see if your priests can withstand the army. Tonight, every temple on the planet will be put under army supervision.”

“Very good, but how are you going to give the orders? Every line of communication on the planet is shut down. You’ll find that neither wave nor hyperwave will work. In fact, the only communicator of the planet that will work – outside of the temples, of course – is the televisor right here in this room, and I’ve fitted it only for reception.”

Wienis struggled vainly for breath, and Hardin continued, “If you wish you can order your army into the Argolid Temple just outside the palace and then use the ultrawave sets there to contact other portions of the planet. But if you do that, I’m afraid the army contigent will be cut to pieces by the mob, and then what will protect your palace, Wienis? And your lives, Wienis?”

Wienis said thickly, “We can hold out, devil. We’ll last the day. Let the mob howl and let the power die, but we’ll hold out. And when the news comes back that the Foundation has been taken, your precious mob will find upon what vacuum their religion has been built, and they’ll desert your priests and turn against them. I give you until noon tomorrow, Hardin, because you can stop the power on Anacreon but you can’t stop my fleet. ” His voice croaked exultantly. “They’re on their way, Hardin, with the great cruiser you yourself ordered repaired, at the head.”

Hardin replied lightly. “Yes, the cruiser I myself ordered repaired – but in my own way. Tell me, Wienis, have you ever heard of a hyperwave relay? No, I see you haven’t. Well, in about two minutes you’ll find out what one can do.”

The televisor flashed to life as he spoke, and he amended, “No, in two seconds. Sit down, Wienis. and listen.”


Theo Aporat was one of the very highest ranking priests of Anacreon. From the standpoint of precedence alone, he deserved his appointment as head priest- attendant upon the flagship Wienis.

But it was not only rank or precedence. He knew the ship. He had worked directly under the holy men from the Foundation itself in repairing the ship. He had gone over the motors under their orders. He had rewired the ‘visors; revamped the communications system; replated the punctured hull; reinforced the beams. He had even been permitted to help while the wise men of the Foundation had installed a device so holy it had never been placed in any previous ship, but had been reserved only for this magnificent colossus of a vessel – a hyperwave relay.

It was no wonder that he felt heartsick over the purposes to which the glorious ship was perverted. He had never wanted to believe what Verisof had told him – that the ship was to be used for appalling wickedness; that its guns were to be turned on the great Foundation. Turned on that Foundation, where he had been trained as a youth, from which all blessedness was derived.

Yet he could not doubt now, after what the admiral had told him.

How could the king, divinely blessed, allow this abominable act? Or was it the king? Was it not, perhaps, an action of the accursed regent, Wienis, without the knowledge of the king at all. And it was the son of this same Wienis that was the admiral who five minutes before had told him:

“Attend to your souls and your blessings, priest. I will attend to my ship.”

Aporat smiled crookedly. He would attend to his souls and his blessings – and also to his cursings; and Prince Lefkin would whine soon enough.

He had entered the general communications room now. His. acolyte preceded him and the two officers in charge made no move to interfere. The head priest-attendant had the right of free entry anywhere on the ship.

“Close the door,” Aporat ordered, and looked at the chronometer. It lacked five minutes of twelve. He had timed it well.

With quick practiced motions, he moved the little levers that opened all communications, so that every part of the two-mile-long ship was within reach of his voice and his image.

“Soldiers of the royal flagship Wienis, attend! It is your priest-attendant that speaks!” The sound of his voice reverberated, he knew, from the stem atom blast in the extreme rear to the navigation tables in the prow.

“Your ship,” he cried, “is engaged in sacrilege. Without your knowledge, it is performing such an act as will doom the soul of every man among you to the eternal frigidity of space! Listen! It is the intention of your commander to take this ship to the Foundation and there to bombard that source of all blessings into submission to his sinful will. And since that is his intention, I, in the name of the Galactic Spirit, remove him from his command, for there is no command where the blessing of the Galactic Spirit has been withdrawn. The divine king himself may not maintain his kingship without the consent of the Spirit.”

His voice took on a deeper tone, while the acolyte listened with veneration and the two soldiers with mounting fear. “And because this ship is upon such a devil’s errand, the blessing of the Spirit is removed from it as well.”

He lifted his arms solemnly, and before a thousand televisors throughout the ship, soldiers cowered, as the stately image of their priest-attendant spoke:

“In the name of the Galactic Spirit and of his prophet, Hari Seldon, and of his interpreters, the holy men of the Foundation, I curse this ship. Let the televisors of this ship, which are its eyes, become blind. Let its grapples, which are its arms, be paralyzed. Let the nuclear blasts, which are its fists, lose their function. Let the motors, which are its heart, cease to beat. Let the communications, which are its voice, become dumb. Let its ventilations, which are its breath, fade. Let its lights, which are its soul, shrivel into nothing. In the name of the Galactic Spirit, I so curse this ship.”

And with his last word, at the stroke of midnight, a hand, light-years distant in the Argolid Temple, opened an ultrawave relay, which at the instantaneous speed of the ultrawave, opened another on the flagship Wienis.

And the ship died!

For it is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works, and that such curses as that of Aporat’s are really deadly.

Aporat saw the darkness close down on the ship and heard the sudden ceasing of the soft, distant purring of the hyperatomic motors. He exulted and from the pocket of his long robe withdrew a self-powered nucleo-bulb that filled the room with pearly light.

He looked down at the two soldiers who, brave men though they undoubtedly were, writhed on their knees in the last extremity of mortal terror. “Save our souls, your reverence. We are poor men, ignorant of the crimes of our leaders,” one whimpered.

“Follow,” said Aporat, sternly. “Your soul is not yet lost.”

The ship was a turmoil of darkness in which fear was so thick and palpable, it was all but a miasmic smell. Soldiers crowded close wherever Aporat and his circle of light passed, striving to touch the hem of his robe, pleading for the tiniest scrap of mercy.

And always his answer was, “Follow me!”

Fie found Prince Lefkin, groping his way through the officers’ quarters, cursing loudly for lights. The admiral stared at the priest-attendant with hating eyes.

“There you are!” Lefkin inherited his blue eyes from his mother, but there was that about the hook in his nose and the squint in his eye that marked him as the son of Wienis. “What is the meaning of your treasonable actions? Return the power to the ship. I am commander here.”

“No longer,” said Aporat, somberly.

Lefkin looked about wildly. “Seize that man. Arrest him, or by Space, I will send every man within reach of my voice out the air lock in the nude.” He paused, and then shrieked, “It is your admiral that orders. Arrest him.”

Then, as he lost his head entirely, “Are you allowing yourselves to be fooled by this mountebank, this harlequin? Do you cringe before a religion compounded of clouds and moonbeams? This man is an imposter and the Galactic Spirit he speaks of a fraud of the imagination devised to-”

Aporat interrupted furiously. “Seize the blasphemer. You listen to him at the peril of your souls.” And promptly, the noble admiral went down under the clutching hands of a score of soldiers. “Take him with you and follow me.”

Aporat turned, and with Lefkin dragged along after him, and the corridors behind black with soldiery, he returned to the communications room. There, he ordered the ex-commander before the one televisor that worked.

“Order the rest of the fleet to cease course and to prepare for the return to Anacreon.”

The disheveled Lefkin, bleeding, beaten, and half stunned, did so.

“And now,” continued Aporat, grimly, “we are in contact with Anacreon on the hyperwave beam. Speak as I order you.”

Lefkin made a gesture of negation, and the mob in the room and the others crowding the corridor beyond, growled fearfully.

“Speak!” said Aporat. “Begin: The Anacreonian navy-”

Lefkin began.


There was absolute silence in Wienis’ chambers when the image of Prince Lefkin appeared at the televisor. There had been one startled gasp from the regent at the haggard face and shredded uniform of his son, and then he collapsed into a chair, face contorted with surprise and apprehension.

Hardin listened stolidly, hands clasped lightly in his lap, while the just-crowned King Lepold sat shriveled in the most shadowy comer, biting spasmodically at his goldbraided sleeve. Even the soldiers had lost the emotionless stare that is the prerogative of the military, and, from where they lined up against the door, nuclear blasts ready, peered furtively at the figure upon the televisor.

Lefkin spoke, reluctantly, with a tired voice that paused at intervals as though he were being prompted-and not gently:

“The Anacreonian navy … aware of the nature of its mission … and refusing to be a party … to abominable sacrilege … is returning to Anacreon … with the following ultimatum issued … to those blaspheming sinners … who would dare to use profane force … against the Foundation … source of all blessings … and against the Galactic Spirit. Cease at once all war against … the true faith . . . and guarantee in a manner suiting us of the navy … as represented by our … priest-attendant, Theo Aporat … that such war will never in the future … be resumed, and that”- here a long pause, and then continuing -“and that the one-time prince regent, Wienis … be imprisoned … and tried before an ecclesiastical court … for his crimes. Otherwise the royal navy … upon returning to Anacreon … will blast the palace to the ground … and take whatever other measures … are necessary … to destroy the nest of sinners … and the den of destroyers … of men’s souls that now prevail.”

The voice ended with half a sob and the screen went blank.

Hardin’s fingers passed rapidly over the nucleo-bulb and its light faded until in the dimness, the hitherto regent, the king, and the soldiers were hazy-edged shadows; and for the first time it could be seen that an aura encompassed Hardin.

It was not the blazing light that was the prerogative of kings, but one less spectacular, less impressive, and yet one more effective in its own way, and more useful.

Hardin’s voice was softly ironic as he addressed the same Wienis who had one hour earlier declared him a prisoner of war and Terminus on the point of destruction, and who now was a huddled shadow, broken and silent.

“There is an old fable,” said Hardin, “as old perhaps as humanity, for the oldest records containing it are merely copies of other records still older, that might interest you. It runs as follows:

“A horse having a wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man’s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.

“The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: ‘Now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.’

“Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, ‘Never!’ and applied the spurs with a will.” Silence still. The shadow that was Wienis did not stir.

Hardin continued quietly, “You see the analogy, I hope. In their anxiety to cement forever domination over their own people, the kings of the Four Kingdoms accepted the religion of science that made them divine; and that same religion of science was their bridle and saddle, for it placed the life blood of nuclear power in the hands of the priesthood who took their orders from us, be it noted, and not from you. You killed the wolf, but could not get rid of the m-”

Wienis sprang to his feet and in the shadows, his eyes were maddened hollows. His voice was thick, incoherent. “And yet I’ll get you. You won’t escape. You’ll rot. Let them blow us up. Let them blow everything up. You’ll rot! I’ll get you!

“Soldiers!” he thundered, hysterically. “Shoot me down that devil. Blast him! Blast him!”

Hardin turned about in his chair to face the soldiers and smiled. One aimed his nuclear blast and then lowered it. The others never budged. Salvor Hardin, mayor of Terminus, surrounded by that soft aura, smiling so confidently, and before whom all the power of Anacreon had crumbled to powder was too much for them, despite the orders of the shrieking maniac just beyond.

Wienis shouted incoherently and staggered to the nearest soldier. Wildly, he wrested the nuclear blast from the man’s hand-aimed it at Hardin, who didn’t stir, shoved the lever and held it contacted.

The pale continous beam impinged upon the force-field that surrounded the mayor of Terminus
and was sucked harmlessly to neutralization. Wienis pressed harder and laughed tearingly.

Hardin still smiled and his force-field aura scarcely brightened as it absorbed the energies of the nuclear blast. From his comer Lepold covered his eyes and moaned.

And, with a yell of despair, Wienis changed his aim and shot again – and toppled to the floor with his head blown into nothingness.

Hardin winced at the sight and muttered, “A man of ‘direct action’ to the end. The last refuge!”


The Time Vault was filled; filled far beyond the available seating capacity, and men lined the back of the room, three deep.

Salvor Hardin compared this large company with the few men attending the first appearance of Hari Seldon, thirty years earlier. There had only been six, then; the five old Encyclopedists – all dead now – and himself, the young figurehead of a mayor. It had been on that day, that he, with Yohan Lee’s assistance had removed the “figurehead” stigma from his office.

It was quite different now; different in every respect. Every man of the City Council was awaiting Seldon’s appearance. He, himself, was still mayor, but all-powerful now; and since the utter rout of Anacreon, all-popular. When he had returned from Anacreon with the news of the death of Wienis, and the new treaty signed with the trembling Lepold, he was greeted with a vote of confidence of shrieking unanimity. When this was followed in rapid order, by similar treaties signed with each of the other three kingdoms – treaties that gave the Foundation powers such as would forever prevent any attempts at attack similar to that of Anacreon’s – torchlight processions had been held in every city street of Terminus. Not even Hari Seldon’s name had been more loudly cheered.

Hardin’s lips twitched. Such popularity had been his after the first crisis also.

Across the room, Sef Sermak and Lewis Bort were engaged in animated discussion, and recent events seemed to have put them out not at all. They had joined in the vote of confidence; made speeches in which they publicly admitted that they had been in the wrong, apologized handsomely for the use of certain phrases in earlier debates, excused themselves delicately by declaring they had merely followed the dictates of their judgement and their conscience – and immediately launched a new Actionist campaign.

Yohan Lee touched Hardin’s sleeve and pointed significantly to his watch.

Hardin looked up. “Hello there, Lee. Are you still sour? What’s wrong now?”

“He’s due in five minutes, isn’t he?”

“I presume so. He appeared at noon last time.”

“What if he doesn’t?”

“Are you going to wear me down with your worries all your life? If he doesn’t, he won’t.”

Lee frowned and shook his head slowly. “If this thing flops, we’re in another mess. Without Seldon’s backing for what we’ve done, Sermak will be free to start all over. He wants outright annexation of the Four Kingdoms, and immediate expansion of the Foundation – by force, if necessary. He’s begun his campaign, already.”

“I know. A fire eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself. And you, Lee, have got to worry even if you must kill yourself to invent something to worry about.”

Lee would have answered, but he lost his breath at just that moment – as the lights yellowed and went dim. He raised his arm to point to the glass cubicle that dominated half the room and then collapsed into a chair with a windy sigh.

Hardin himself straightened at the sight of the figure that now filled the cubicle – a figure in a wheel chair! He alone, of all those present could remember the day, decades ago, when that figure had appeared first. He had been young then, and the figure old. Since then, the figure had not aged a day, but he himself had in turn grown old.

The figure stared straight ahead, hands fingering a book in its lap.

It said, “I am Hari Seldon!” The voice was old and soft.

There was a breathless silence in the room and Hari Seldon continued conversationally, “This is the second time I’ve been here. Of course, I don’t know if any of you were here the first time. In fact, I have no way of telling, by sense perception, that there is anyone here at all, but that doesn’t matter. If the second crisis has been overcome safely, you are bound to be here; there is no way out. If you are not here, then the second crisis has been too much for you.”

He smiled engagingly. “I doubt that, however, for my figures show a ninety-eight point four percent probability there is to be no significant deviation from the Plan in the first eighty years.

“According to our calculations, you have now reached domination of the barbarian kingdoms immediately surrounding the Foundation. Just as in the first crisis you held them off by use of the Balance of Power, so in the second, you gained mastery by use of the Spiritual Power as against the Temporal.

“However, I might warn you here against overconfidence. It is not my way to grant you any foreknowledge in these recordings, but it would be safe to indicate that what you have now achieved is merely a new balance – though one in which your position is considerably better. The Spiritual Power, while sufficient to ward off attacks of the Temporal is not sufficient to attack in turn. Because of the invariable growth of the counteracting force known as Regionalism, or Nationalism, the Spiritual Power cannot prevail. I am telling you nothing new, I’m sure.

“You must pardon me, by the way, for speaking to you in this vague way. The terms I use are at best mere approximations, but none of you is qualified to understand the true symbology of psychohistory, and so I must do the best I can.

“In this case, the Foundation is only at the start of the path that leads to the Second Galactic Empire. The neighboring kingdoms, in manpower and resources are still overwhelmingly powerful as compared to yourselves. Outside them lies the vast tangled jungle of barbarism that extends around the entire breadth of the Galaxy. Within that rim there is still what is left of the Galactic Empire – and that, weakened and decaying though it is, is still incomparably mighty.”

At this point, Hari Seldon lifted his book and opened it. His face grew solemn. “And never forget there was another Foundation established eighty years ago; a Foundation at the other end of the Galaxy, at Star’s End. They will always be there for consideration. Gentlemen, nine hundred and twenty years of the Plan stretch ahead of you. The problem is yours!”

He dropped his eyes to his book and flicked out of existence, while the lights brightened to fullness. In the babble that followed, Lee leaned over to Hardin’s ear. “He didn’t say when he’d be back.”

Hardin replied, “I know – but I trust he won’t return until you and I are safely and cozily dead!”