DARELL, ARKADY novelist, born 11, 5, 362 F.E., died 1, 7, 443 F.E. Although primarily a writer of fiction, Arkady Darell is best known for her biography of her grandmother, Bayta Darell. Based on first-hand information, it has for centuries served as a primary source of information concerning the Mule and his times... Like "Unkeyed Memories", her novel "Time and Time and Over" is a stirring reflection of the brilliant Kalganian society of the early Interregnum, based, it is said, on a visit to Kalgan in her youth...
Arcadia Darell declaimed firmly into the mouthpiece of her transcriber:
"The Future of Seldon's Plan, by A. Darell" and then thought darkly that some day when she was a great writer, she would write all her masterpieces under the pseudonym of Arkady. Just Arkady. No last name at all.
"A. Darell" would be just the sort of thing that she would have to put on all her themes for her class in Composition and Rhetoric - so tasteless. All the other kids had to do it, too, except for Olynthus Dam, because the class laughed so when he did it the first time, And "Arcadia" was a little girls name, wished on her because her great-grandmother had been called that; her parents just had no imagination at all.
Now that she was two days past fourteen, you'd think they'd recognize the simple fact of adulthood and call her Arkady. Her lips tightened as she thought of her father looking up from his book-viewer just long enough to say, "But if you're going to pretend you're nineteen, Arcadia, what will you do when you're twenty-five and all the boys think you're thirty?"
From where she sprawled across the arms and into the hollow of her own special armchair, she could see the mirror on her dresser. Her foot was a little in the way because her house slipper kept twirling about her big toe, so she pulled it in and sat up with an unnatural straightness to her neck that she felt sure, somehow, lengthened it a full two inches into slim regality.
For a moment, she considered her face thoughtfully - too fat. She opened her jaws half an inch behind closed lips, and caught the resultant trace of unnatural gauntness at every angle. She licked her lips with a quick touch of tongue and let them pout a bit in moist softness. Then she let her eyelids droop in a weary, worldly way- Oh, golly if only her cheeks weren't that silly pink.
She tried putting her fingers to the outer corners of her eye and tilting the lids a bit to get that mysterious exotic languor of the women of the inner star systems, but her hands were in the way and she couldn't see her face very well.
Then she lifted her chin, caught herself at a half-profile, and with her eyes a little strained from looking out the comer and her neck muscles faintly aching, she said, in a voice one octave below its natural pitch, "Really, father, if you think it makes a particle of difference to me what some silly old boys think you just-"
And then she remembered that she still had the transmitter open in her hand and said, drearily, "Oh, golly," and shut it off.
The faintly violet paper with the peach margin line on the left had upon it the following:
"THE FUTURE OF SELDON'S PLAN"
"Really, father, if you think it makes a particle of difference to me what some silly old boys think you just
She pulled the sheet out of the machine with annoyance and another clicked neatly into place.
But her face smoothed out of its vexation, nevertheless, and her wide, little mouth stretched into a self-satisfied smile. She sniffed at the paper delicately. just right. Just that proper touch of elegance and charm. And the penmanship was just the last word.
The machine had been delivered two days ago on her first adult birthday. She had said, "But father, everybody - just everybody in the class who has the slightest pretensions to being anybody has one. Nobody but some old drips would use hand machines-"
The salesman had said, "There is no other model as compact on the one hand and as adaptable on the other. It will spell and punctuate correctly according to the sense of the sentence. Naturally, it is a great aid to education since it encourages the user to employ careful enunciation and breathing in order to make sure of the correct spelling, to say nothing of demanding a proper and elegant delivery for correct punctuation."
Even then her father had tried to get one geared for type-print as if she were some dried-up, old-maid teacher.
But when it was delivered, it was the model she wanted - obtained perhaps with a little more wail and sniffle than quite went with the adulthood of fourteen - and copy was turned out in a charming and entirely feminine handwriting, with the most beautifully graceful capitals anyone ever saw.
Even the phrase, "Oh, golly." somehow breathed glamour when the Transcriber was done with it.
But just the same she had to get it right, so she sat up straight in her chair, placed her first draft before her in businesslike fashion, and began again, crisply and clearly; her abdomen flat, her chest lifted, and her breathing carefully controlled. She intoned, with dramatic fervor:
"The Future of Seldon's Plan.
"The Foundation's past history is, I am sure, well-known to all of us who have had the good fortune to be educated in our planet's efficient and well-staffed school system.
(There! That would start things off right with Miss Erlking, that mean old hag.)
That past history is largely the past history of the great Plan of Hari Seldon. The two are one. But the question in the mind of most people today is whether this Plan will continue in all its great wisdom, or whether it will be fully destroyed, or, perhaps, has been so destroyed already.
"To understand this, it may be best to pass quickly over some of the highlights of the Plan as it has been revealed to humanity thus far.
(This part was easy because she had taken Modern History the semester before.)
"In the days, nearly four centuries ago, when the First Galactic Empire was decaying into the paralysis that preceded final death, one man - the great Hari Seldon - foresaw the approaching end. Through the science of psychohistory, the intrissacies of whose mathematics has long since been forgotten,
(She paused in a trifle of doubt. She was sure that "intricacies" was pronounced with soft c's but the spelling didn't look right. Oh, well, the machine couldn't very well be wrong-)
he and the men who worked with him are able to foretell the course of the great social and economic currents sweeping the Galaxy at the time. It was possible for them to realize that, left to itself, the Empire would break up, and that thereafter there would be at least thirty thousand years of anarchic chaos prior to the establishment of a new Empire.
"It was too late to prevent the great Fall, but it was still possible, at least, to cut short the intermediate period of chaos. The Plan was, therefore, evolved whereby only a single millennium would separate the Second Empire from the First. We are completing the fourth century of that millennium, and many generations of men have lived and died while the Plan has continued its inexorable workings.
"Hari Seldon established two Foundations at the opposite ends of the Galaxy, in a manner and under such circumstances as would yield the best mathematical solution for his psychohistorical problem. In one of these, our Foundation, established here on Terminus, there was concentrated the physical science of the Empire, and through the possession of that science, the Foundation was able to withstand the attacks of the barbarous kingdoms which had broken away and become independent, out at the hinge of the Empire.
"The Foundation, indeed, was able to conquer in its turn these short-lived kingdoms by means of the leadership of a series of wise and heroic men like Salvor Hardin and Hober Mallow who were able to interpret the Plan intelligently and to guide our land through its
(She had written "intricacies" here also, but decided not to risk it a second time.)
complications. All our planets still revere their memories although centuries have passed.
"Eventually, the Foundation established a commercial system which controlled a large portion of the Siwennian and Anacreonian sectors of the Galaxy, and even defeated the remnants of the old Empire under its last great general, Bel Riose. It seemed that nothing could now stop the workings of Seldon's plan. Every crisis that Seldon had planned had come at its appropriate time and had been solved, and with each solution the Foundation had taken another giant stride toward Second Empire and peace.
(Her breath came short at this point, and she hissed the word, between her teeth, but the Transmitter simply wrote them calmly and gracefully.)
with the last remnants of the dead First Empire gone and with only ineffectual warlords ruling over the splinters and remnants of the decayed colossus,
(She got that phrase out of a thriller on the video last week, but old Miss Erlking never listened to anything but symphonies and lectures, so she'd never know.)
there came the Mule.
"This strange man was not allowed for in the Plan. He was a mutant, whose birth could not have been predicted. He had strange and mysterious power of controlling and manipulating human emotions and in this manner could bend all men to his will. With breath-taking swiftness, he became a conqueror and Empire-builder, until, finally, he even defeated the Foundation itself.
"Yet he never obtained universal dominion, since in his first overpowering lunge he was stopped by the wisdom and daring of a great woman
(Now there was that old problem again. Father would insist that she never bring up the fact that she was the grandchild of Bayta Darell. Everyone knew it and Bayta was just about the greatest woman there ever was and she had stopped the Mule singlehanded.)
in a manner the true story of which is known in its entirety to very few.
(There! If she had to read it to the class, that last could he said in a dark voice, and someone would be sure to ask what the true story was, and then - well, and then she couldn't help tell the truth if they asked her, could she? In her mind, she was already wordlessly whizzing through a hurt and eloquent explanation to a stern and questioning paternal parent.)
"After five years of restricted rule, another change took place, the reasons for which are not known, and the Mule abandoned all plans for further conquest. His last five years were those of an enlightened despot.
"It is said by some that the change in the Mule was brought about by the intervention of the Second Foundation. However, no man has ever discovered the exact location of this other Foundation, nor knows its exact function, so that theory remains unproven.
"A whole generation has passed since the death of the Mule. What of the future, then, now that he has come and gone? He interrupted Seldon's Plan and seemed to have burst it to fragments, yet as soon as he died, the Foundation rose again, like a nova from the dead ashes of a dying star.
(She had made that up herself.)
Once again, the planet Terminus houses the center of a commercial federation almost as great and as rich as before the conquest, and even more peaceful and democratic.
"Is this planned? Is Seldon's great dream still alive, and will a Second Galactic Empire yet be formed six hundred years from now? I, myself, believe so, because (This was the important part. Miss Erlking always had those large, ugly red-pencil scrawls that went: 'But this is only descriptive. What are your personal reactions? Think! Express yourself! Penetrate your own soul!' Penetrate your own soul. A lot she knew about souls, with her lemon face that never smiled in its life-) never at any time has the political situation been so favorable. The old Empire is completely dead and the period of the Mule's rule put an end to the era of warlords that preceded him. Most of the surrounding portions of the Galaxy are civilized and peaceful.
"Moreover the internal health of the Foundation is better than ever before. The despotic times of the pre-Conquest hereditary mayors have given way to the democratic elections of early times. There are no longer dissident worlds of independent Traders; no longer the injustices and dislocations that accompanied accumulations of great wealth in the hands of a few.
"There is no reason, therefore, to fear failure, unless it is true that the Second Foundation itself presents a danger. Those who think so have no evidence to back their claim, but merely vague fears and superstitions. I think that our confidence in ourselves, in our nation, and in Hari Seldon's great Plan should drive from our hearts and minds all uncertainties and (Hm-m-m. This was awfully corny, but something like this was expected at the end.) so I say-"
That is as far as "The Future of Seldon's Plan" got, at that moment, because there was the gentlest little tap on the window, and when Arcadia shot up to a balance on one arm of the chair, she found herself confronted by a smiling face beyond the glass, its even symmetry of feature interestingly accentuated by the short, vertical fine of a finger before its lips.
With the slight pause necessary to assume an attitude of bepuzzlement, Arcadia dismounted from the armchair, walked to the couch that fronted the wide window that held the apparition and, kneeling upon it, stared out thoughtfully.
The smile upon the man's face faded quickly. While the fingers of one hand tightened whitely upon the sill, the other made a quick gesture. Arcadia obeyed calmly, and closed the latch that moved the lower third of the window smoothly into its socket in the wall, allowing the warm spring air to interfere with the conditioning within.
"You can't get in," she said, with comfortable smugness. "The windows are all screened, and keyed only to people who belong here. If you come in, all sorts of alarms will break loose." A pause, then she added, "You look sort of silly balancing on that ledge underneath the window. If you're not careful, you'll fall and break your neck and a lot of valuable flowers."
"In that case," said the man at the window, who had been thinking that very thing - with a slightly different arrangement of adjectives- "will you shut off the screen and let me in?"
"No use in doing that'" said Arcadia. "You're probably thinking of a different house, because I'm not the kind of girl who lets strange men into their... her bedroom this time of night." Her eyes, as she said it, took on a heavy-lidded sultriness - or an unreasonable facsimile thereof.
All traces of humor whatever had disappeared from the young stranger's face. He muttered, "This is Dr. Darell's house, isn't it?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"Oh, Galaxy- Good-by-"
"If you jump off, young man, I will personally give the alarm." (This was intended as a refined and sophisticated thrust of irony, since to Arcadia's enlightened eyes, the intruder was an obviously mature thirty, at least - quite elderly, in fact.)
Quite a pause. Then, tightly, he said, "Well, now, look here, girlie, if you don't want me to stay, and don't want me to go, what do you want me to do?"
"You can come in, I suppose. Dr. Darell does live here. I'll shut off the screen now."
Warily, after a searching look, the young man poked his hand through the window, then hunched himself up and through it. He brushed at his knees with an angry, slapping gesture, and lifted a reddened face at her.
"You're quite sure that your character and reputation won't suffer when they find me here, are you?"
"Not as much as yours would, because just as soon as I hear footsteps outside, I'll just shout and yell and say you forced your way in here."
"Yes?" he replied with heavy courtesy, "And how do you intend to explain the shut-off protective screen?"
"Poof! That would be easy. There wasn't any there in the first place."
The man's eyes were wide with chagrin. "That was a bluff? How old are you, kid?"
"I consider that a very impertinent question, young man. And I am not accustomed to being addressed as 'kid.'"
"I don't wonder. You're probably the Mule's grandmother in disguise. Do you mind if I leave now before you arrange a lynching party with myself as star performer?"
"You had better not leave - because my father's expecting you."
The man's look became a wary one, again. An eyebrow shot up as he said, lightly, "Oh? Anyone with your father?'
"Anyone called on him lately?'
"Only tradespeople - and you."
"Anything unusual happen at all?"
"Forget me, will you? No, don't forget me. Tell me, how did you know your father was expecting me?"
"Oh, that was easy. Last week, he received a Personal Capsule, keyed to him personally, with a self-oxidizing message, you know. He threw the capsule shell into the Trash Disinto, and yesterday, he gave Poli - that's our maid, you see - a month's vacation so she could visit her sister in Terminus City, and this afternoon, he made up the bed in the spare room. So I knew he expected somebody that I wasn't supposed to know anything about. Usually, he tells me everything."
"Really! I'm surprised he has to. I should think you'd know everything before he tells you."
'I usually do." Then she laughed. She was beginning to feel very much at ease. The visitor was elderly, but very distinguished-looking with curly brown hair and very blue eyes. Maybe she could meet somebody like that again, sometimes, when she was old herself.
"And just how," he asked, "did you know it was I he expected."
"Well, who else could it be? He was expecting somebody in so secrety a way, if you know what I mean - and then you come gumping around trying to sneak through windows, instead of walking through the front door, the way you would if you had any sense." She remembered a favorite line, and used it promptly. "Men are so stupid!"
"Pretty stuck on yourself, aren't you, kid? I mean, Miss. You could be wrong, you know. What if I told you that all this is a mystery to me and that as far as I know, your father is expecting someone else, not me."
"Oh, I don't think so. I didn't ask you to come in, until after I saw you drop your briefcase."
"Your briefcase, young man. I'm not blind. You didn't drop it by accident, because you looked down first, so as to make sure it would land right. Then you must have realized it would land just under the hedges and wouldn't be seen, so you dropped it and didn't look down afterwards. Now since you came to the window instead of the front door, it must mean that you were a little afraid to trust yourself in the house before investigating the place. And after you had a little trouble with me, you took care of your briefcase before taking care of yourself, which means that you consider whatever your briefcase has in it to be more valuable than your own safety, and that means that as long as you're in here and the briefcase is out there and we know that it's out there, you're probably pretty helpless."
She paused for a much-needed breath, and the man said, grittily, "Except that I think I'll choke you just about medium dead and get out of here, with the briefcase."
"Except, young man, that I happen to have a baseball bat under my bed, which I can reach in two seconds from where I'm sitting, and I'm very strong for a girl."
Impasse. Finally, with a strained courtesy, the "young man" said, "Shall I introduce myself, since we're being so chummy. I'm Pelleas Anthor. And your name?"
"I'm Arca- Arkady Darell. Pleased to meet you."
"And now Arkady, would you be a good little girl and call your father?"
Arcadia bridled. "I'm not a little girl. I think you're very rude - especially when you're asking a favor."
Pelleas Anthor sighed. "Very well. Would you be a good, kind, dear, little old lady, just chock full of lavender, and call your father?"
"That's not what I meant either, but I'll call him. Only not so I'll take my eyes off you, young man." And she stamped on the floor.
There came the sound of hurrying footsteps in the hall, and the door was flung open.
"Arcadia-" There was a tiny explosion of exhaled air, and Dr. Darell said, "Who are you, sir?"
Pelleas sprang to his feet in what was quite obviously relief. "Dr. Toran Darell? I am Pelleas Anthor. You've received word about me, I think. At least, your daughter says you have."
"My daughter says I have?" He bent a frowning glance at her which caromed harmlessly off the wide-eyed and impenetrable web of innocence with which she met the accusation.
Dr. Darell said, finally: "I have been expecting you. Would you mind coming down with me, please?" And he stopped as his eye caught a flicker of motion, which Arcadia caught simultaneously.
She scrambled toward her Transcriber, but it was quite useless, since her father was standing right next to it. He said, sweetly, "You've left it going all this time, Arcadia."
"Father," she squeaked, in real anguish, "it is very ungentlemanly to read another person's private correspondence, especially when it's talking correspondence."
"Ah," said her father, "but 'talking correspondence' with a strange man in your bedroom! As a father, Arcadia, I must protect you against evil."
"Oh, golly - it was nothing like that."
Pelleas laughed suddenly, "Oh, but it was, Dr. Darell. The young lady was going to accuse me of all sorts of things, and I must insist that you read it, if only to clear my name."
"Oh-" Arcadia held back her tears with an effort. Her own father didn't even trust her. And that darned Transcriber- If that silly fool hadn't come gooping at the window, and making her forget to turn it off. And now her father would be making long, gentle speeches about what young ladies aren't supposed to do. There just wasn't anything they were supposed to do, it looked like, except choke and die, maybe.
"Arcadia," said her father, gently, "it strikes me that a young lady-"
She knew it. She knew it.
"-should not be quite so impertinent to men older than she is."
"Well, what did he want to come peeping around my window for? A young lady has a right to privacy- Now I'll have to do my whole darned composition over."
"It's not up to you to question his propriety in coming to your window. You should simply not have let him in. You should have called me instantly - especially if you thought I was expecting him."
She said, peevishly, "It's just as well if you didn't see him - stupid thing. Hell give the whole thing away if he keeps on going to windows, instead of doors."
"Arcadia, nobody wants your opinion on matters you know nothing of."
"I do, too. It's the Second Foundation, that's what it is."
There was a silence. Even Arcadia felt a little nervous stirring in her abdomen.
Dr. Darell said, softly, "Where have you heard this?"
"Nowheres, but what else is there to be so secret about? And you don't have to worry that I'll tell anyone."
"Mr. Anthor," said Dr. Darell, "I must apologize for all this."
"Oh, that's all right," came Anthor's rather hollow response. "It's not your fault if she's sold herself to the forces of darkness. But do you mind if I ask her a question before we go. Miss Arcadia-"
"What do you want?"
"Why do you think it is stupid to go to windows instead of to doors?"
"Because you advertise what you're trying to hide, silly. If I have a secret, I don't put tape over my mouth and let everyone know I have a secret. I talk just as much as usual, only about something else. Didn't you ever read any of the sayings of Salvor Hardin? He was our first Mayor, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"Well, he used to say that only a lie*** that wasn't ashamed of itself could possibly succeed. He also said that nothing had to be true, but everything had to sound true. Well, when you come in through a window, it's a lie that's ashamed of itself and it doesn't sound true."
"Then what would you have done?"
"If I had wanted to see my father on top secret business, I would have made his acquaintance openly and seen him about all sorts of strictly legitimate things. And then when everyone knew all about you and connected you with my father as a matter of course, you could be as top secret as you want and nobody would ever think of questioning it."
Anthor looked at the girl strangely, then at Dr. Darell. He said, "Let's go. I have a briefcase I want to pick up in the garden. Wait! Just one last question. Arcadia, you don't really have a baseball bat under your bed, do you?"
"No! I don't."
"Hah. I didn't think so."
Dr. Darell stopped at the door. "Arcadia," he said, "when you rewrite your composition on the Seldon Plan, don't be unnecessarily mysterious about your grandmother. There is no necessity to mention that part at all."
He and Pelleas descended the stairs in silence. Then the visitor asked in a strained voice, "Do you mind, sir? How old is she?"
"Fourteen, day before yesterday."
"Fourteen? Great Galaxy- Tell me, has she ever said she expects to marry some day?"
"No, she hasn't. Not to me."
Well, if she ever does, shoot him. The one she's going to marry, I mean." He stared earnestly into the older man's eyes. "I'm serious. Life could hold no greater horror than living with what she'll be like when she's twenty. I don't mean to offend you, of course."
"You don't offend me. I think I know what you mean."
Upstairs, the object of their tender analyses faced the Transcriber with revolted weariness and said, dully: "Thefutureofseldonsplan." The Transcriber with infinite aplomb, translated that into elegantly, complicated script capitals as:
"The Future of Seldon's Plan."