The Complete Stories (Page 15)
Foster paced the floor. Somehow, this explained the reason for Potterley’s rabid, irrational desire to boost the Carthaginians, deify them, most of all disprove the story of their fiery sacrifices to Moloch. By freeing them of the guilt of infanticide by fire, he symbolically freed himself of the same guilt.
So the same fire that had driven him on to causing the construction of a chronoscope was now driving him on to the destruction.
Foster looked sadly at the older man. "I see your position, Dr. Potterley, but this goes above personal feelings. I’ve got to smash this throttling hold on the throat of science."
Potterley said, savagely, "You mean you want the fame and wealth that goes with such a discovery."
"I don’t know about the wealth, but that, too, I suppose. I’m no more than human."
"You won’t suppress your knowledge?"
"Not under any circumstances."
"Well, then-" and the historian got to his feet and stood for a moment, glaring.
Foster had an odd moment of terror. The man was older than he, smaller, feebler, and he didn’t look armed. Still . . .
Foster said, "If you’re thinking of killing me or anything insane like that, I’ve got the information in a safety-deposit vault where the proper people will find it in case of my disappearance or death."
Potterley said, "Don’t be a fool," and stalked out.
Foster closed the door, locked it and sat down to think. He felt silly. He had no information in any safety-deposit vault, of course. Such a melodramatic action would not have occurred to him ordinarily. But now it had.
Feeling even sillier, he spent an hour writing out the equations of the application of pseudo-gravitic optics to neutrinic recording, and some diagrams for the engineering details of construction. He sealed it in an envelope and scrawled Ralph Nimmo’s name over the outside.
He spent a rather restless night and the next morning, on the way to school, dropped the envelope off at the bank, with appropriate instructions to an official, who made him sign a paper permitting the box to be opened after his death.
He called Nimmo to tell him of the existence of the envelope, refusing querulously to say anything about its contents.
He had never felt so ridiculously self-conscious as at that moment.
That night and the next, Foster spent in only fitful sleep, finding himself face to face with the highly practical problem of the publication of data unethically obtained.
The Proceedings of the Society for Pseudo-Gravities, which was the journal with which he was best acquainted, would certainly not touch any paper that did not include the magic footnote: "The work described in this paper was made possible by Grant No. so-and-so from the Commission of Research of the United Nations."
Nor, doubly so, would the Journal of Physics.
There were always the minor journals who might overlook the nature of the article for the sake of the sensation, but that would require a little financial negotiation on which he hesitated to embark. It might, on the whole, be better to pay the cost of publishing a small pamphlet for general distribution among scholars. In that case, he would even be able to dispense with the services of a science writer, sacrificing polish for speed. He would have to find a reliable printer. Uncle Ralph might know one.
He walked down the corridor to his office and wondered anxiously if
perhaps he ought to waste no further time, give himself no further chance to lapse into indecision and take the risk of calling Ralph from his office phone. He was so absorbed in his own heavy thoughts that he did not notice that his room was occupied until he turned from the clothes closet and approached his desk.
Dr. Potterley was there and a man whom Foster did not recognize.
Foster stared at them. "What’s this?"
Potterley said, "I’m sorry, but I had to stop you."
Foster continued staring. "What are you talking about?"
The stranger said, "Let me introduce myself." He had large teeth, a little uneven, and they showed prominently when he smiled. "I am Thaddeus Araman, Department Head of the Division of Chronoscopy. I am here to see you concerning information brought to me by Professor Arnold Potterley and confirmed by our own sources-"
Potterley said breathlessly, "I took all the blame, Dr. Foster. I explained that it was I who persuaded you against your will into unethical practices. I have offered to accept full responsibility and punishment. I don’t wish you harmed in any way. It’s just that chronoscopy must not be permitted!"
Araman nodded. "He has taken the blame as he says, Dr. Foster, but this thing is out of his hands now."
Foster said, "So? What are you going to do? Blackball me from all consideration for research grants?"
"That is in my power," said Araman.
"Order the university to discharge rne?"
"That, too, is in my power."
"All right, go ahead. Consider it done. I’ll leave my office now, with you. I can send for my books later. If you insist, I’ll leave my books. Is that all?"
"Not quite," said Araman. "You must engage to do no further research in chronoscopy, to publish none of your findings in chronoscopy and, of course, to build no chronoscope. You will remain under surveillance indefinitely to make sure you keep that promise."
"Supposing I refuse to promise? What can you do? Doing research out of my field may be unethical, but it isn’t a criminal offense."
"In the case of chronoscopy, my young friend," said Araman patiently, ;"it is a criminal offense. If necessary, you will be put in jail and kept there."
"Why?" shouted Foster. "What’s magic about chronoscopy?"