The Currents of Space (Page 62)
"Does it matter?" asked Fife. "As far as you’re concerned, I’m sure it doesn’t. That matter would have been solved by now except for the interference of Trantor and the I.S.B. Eventually I will find the traitor. Remember that the psycho-prober, whoever he is, had the original intention of forcing a monopoly of the kyrt trade into his own hands, so I am not likely to let him escape. Once the psycho-prober is identified and dealt with, your man here will be returned unharmed to you. That is the only offer I can make and it is a very reasonable one."
"What will you do with the psycho-prober?"
"That is a purely internal matter that does not concern you."
"But it does," Junz said energetically. "This is not just a question of the Spatio-analyst. There’s something of greater importance involved and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned yet. This man Elk wasn’t psycho-probed just becausp he was a Spatio-analyst."
Abel was not sure what Junz’s intentions were, but he threw his weight into the scales. He said blandly, "Dr. Junz is referring, of course, to the Spatio-analyst’s original message of danger."
Fife shrugged. "As far as I know, no one has yet attached any importance to that, including Dr. Junz over the past year. However, your man is here, Doctor. Ask him what it’s all about."
"Naturally, he won’t remember," Junz retorted angrily. "The psycho-probe is most effective upon the more intellectual chains of reasoning stored in the mind. The man may never recover the quantitative aspects of his lii ework."
"Then it’s gone," said Fife. "What can be done about that?"
"Something very definite. That’s the point. There’s someone else who knows, and that’s the psycho-prober. He may not have been a Spatio-analyst himself; he may not know the precise details. However, he spoke to the man in a state of untouched mind. He will have learned enough to put us far on the right track. Without having learned enough he would not have dared to destroy the source of his information. Still, for the record, do you remember, Elk?"
"Only that there was danger and that it involved the currents of space," muttered Rik.
Fife said, "Even if you find out, what will you have? How reliable are any of the startling theories that sick Spatio-analysts are forever coming up with? Many of them think they know the secrets of the universe when they’re so sick they can barely read their instruments."
"It may be that you are right. Are you afraid to let me find out?"
"I am against starting any morbid rumors that might, whether true or false, affect the kyrt trade. Don’t you agree with me, Abel?"
Abel squirmed inwardly. Fife was maneuvering himself into the position where any break in kyrt deliveries resulting from his own coup could be blamed on Trantorian maneuvers. But Abel was a good gambler. He raised the stakes calmly and unemotionally.
He said, "I don’t. I suggest you listen to Dr. Junz."
"Thanks," said Junz. "Now you have said, Squire Fife, that whoever the psycho-prober was, he must have killed the doctor who examined this man Rik. That implies that the psycho-prober had kept some sort of watch over Elk during his stay on Florina."
"There must be traces of that kind of watching."
"You mean you think these natives would know who was watching them."
Fife said, "You are not a Sarkite and so you make mistakes. I assure you that natives keep their places. They don’t approach Squires and if Squires approach them they know enough to keep their eyes on their toes. They would know nothing of being watched."
Junz quivered visibly with indignation. The Squires had their despotism so ingrained that they saw nothing wrong or shameful in speaking of it openly.
He said, "Ordinary natives perhaps. But we have a man here who is not an ordinary native. I think he has shown us rather thoroughly that he is not a properly respectful Florinian. So far he has contributed nothing to the discussion and it is time to ask him a few questions."
Fife said, "That native’s evidence is worthless. In fact, I take the opportunity once more to demand that Trantor surrender him to proper trial by the courts of Sark."
"Let me speak to him first."
Abel put in mildly, "I think it will do no harm to ask him a few questions, Fife. If he proves unco-operative or unreliable, we may consider your request for extradition."
Terens, who, till now, had stolidly concentrated on the fingers of his clasped hands, looked up briefly.
Junz turned to Terens. He said, "Elk has been in your town since he was first found on Florina, hasn’t he?"
"And you were in town all that time? I mean you weren’t on any extended business trips, were you?"
"Townmen don’t make business trips. Their business is in their town."
~l1 right. Now relax and don’t get touchy. It would be part of your business to know about any Squire that might come to town, I imagine."
"Sure. When they come."
"Did they come?"
Terens shrugged. "Once or twice. Pure routine, I assure you. Squires don’t dirty their hands with kyrt. Unprocessed kyrt, that is.
"Be respectful!" roared Fife.
Terens looked at him and said, "Can you make me?"
Abel interrupted smoothly, "Let’s keep this between the man and Dr. Junz, Fife. You and I are spectators."
Junz felt a glow of pleasure at the Townman’s insolence, but he said, "Answer my questions without side comments please, Townman. Now who exactly were the Squires who visited your town this past year?"