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There. She had said Hari's name. Even though she had too much tact to speak openly of
what bothered him, she was hinting that Leyel's bad humor was because he was still waiting
for Hari Seldon's answer. Maybe so-- Leyel wouldn't deny it. It was annoying that it had taken
Hari so long to respond. Leyel had expected a call the day Hari got his application. At least
within the week. But he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of admitting that the waiting
bothered him. "The Empire will be killed by its own refusal to change. I rest my case."
"Well, I hope you have a wonderful morning growling and grumbling about the stupidity of
everyone in origin studies-- except your esteemed self."
"Why are you teasing me about my vanity today? I've always been vain."
"I consider it one of your most endearing traits."
"At least I make an effort to live up to my own opinion of myself."
"That's nothing. You even live up to my opinion of you." She kissed the bald spot on the top
of his head as she breezed by, heading for the bathroom.
Leyel turned his attention to the new essay at the front of the lector display. It was a name
he didn't recognize. Fully prepared to find pretentious writing and puerile thought, he was
surprised to find himself becoming quite absorbed. This woman had been following a trail of
primate studies-- a field so long neglected that there simply were no papers within the range
of millennial depth. Already he knew she was his kind of scholar. She even mentioned the
fact that she was using archives opened by the Forska Research Foundation. Leyel was not
above being pleased at this tacit expression of gratitude.
It seemed that the woman-- a Dr. Thoren Magolissian-- had been following Leyel's lead,
searching for the principles of human origin rather than wasting time on the irrelevant search
for one particular planet. She had uncovered a trove of primate research from three
millennia ago, which was based on chimpanzee and gorilla studies dating back to seven
thousand years ago. The earliest of these had referred to original research so old it may
have been conducted before the founding of the Empire-- but those most ancient reports
had not yet been located. They probably didn't exist any more. Texts abandoned for more
than five thousand years were very hard to restore; texts older than eight thousand years
were simply unreadable. It was tragic, how many texts had been "stored" by librarians who
never checked them, never refreshed or recopied them. Presiding over vast archives that
had lost every scrap of readable information. All neatly catalogued, of course, so you knew
exactly what it was that humanity had lost forever.
Never mind.
Magolissian's article. What startled Leyel was her conclusion that primitive language
capability seemed to be inherent in the primate mind. Even in primates incapable of
speech, other symbols could easily be learned-- at least for simple nouns and verbs- and the
nonhuman primates could come up with sentences and ideas that had never been spoken
to them. This meant that mere production of language, per se, was prehuman, or at least not
the deterinining factor of humanness.
It was a dazzling thought. It meant that the difference between humans and nonhumans--
the real origin of humans in recognizably human form-- was postlinguistic. Of course this
came as a direct contradiction of one of Leyel's own assertions in an early paper-- he had
said that "since language is what separates human from beast, historical linguistics may
provide the key to human origins" --but this was the sort of contradiction he welcomed. He
wished he could shout at the other fellow, make him look at Magolissian's article. See? This
is how to do it! Challenge my assumption, not my conclusion, and do it with new evidence
instead of trying to twist the old stuff. Cast a light in the darkness, don't just churn up the
same old sediment at the bottom of the river.
Before he could get into the main body of the article, however, the house computer
informed him that someone was at the door of the apartment. It was a message that crawled
along the bottom of the lector display. Leyel pressed the key that brought the message to
the front, in letters large enough to read. For the thousandth time he wished that sometime in
the decamillennia of human history, somebody had invented a computer capable of speech.
"Who is it?" Leyel typed.
A moment's wait, while the house computer interrogated the visitor.
The answer appeared on the lector: "Secure courier with a message for Leyel Forska."
The very fact that the courier had got past house security meant that it was genuine-- and
important. Leyel typed again. "From?"
Another pause. "Hari Seldon of the Encyclopedia Galactica Foundation."
Leyel was out of his chair in a moment. He got to the door even before the house computer
could open it, and without a word took the message in his hands. Fumbling a bit, he pressed
the top and bottom of the black glass lozenge to prove by fingerprint that it was he, by body
temperature and pulse that he was alive to receive it. Then, when the courier and her [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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