The Complete Stories (Page 82)
"Earth also exports high-specialized professionals and keeps its own population at an endurable level. Since they are shipped out in a balanced sex ratio, they act as self-reproductive units and help increase the populations on the Outworlds where an increase is needed. Furthermore, tapes and men are paid for in material which we much need and on which our economy depends. Now do you understand why our Education is the best way?"
"Does it help you to understand, knowing that without it, interstellar colonization was impossible for fifteen hundred yea~s?"
"Then you see the uses of history." The Historian smiled. "And now I wonder if you see why I’m interested in you?"
George snapped out of time and space back to reality. Ingenescu, apparently, didn’t talk aimlessly. All this lecture had been a device to attack him from a new angle.
He said, once again withdrawn, hesitating, "Why?"
"Social Scientists work with societies and societies are made up of people."
"But people aren’t machines. The professionals in physical science work with machines. There is only a limited amount to know about a machine and the professionals know it all. Furthermore, all machines of a given sort are just about alike so that there is nothing to interest them in any given individual machine. But people, ah- They are so complex and so different one from another that a Social Scientist never knows all there is to know or even a good part of what there is to know. To understand his own specialty, he must always be ready to study people; particularly unusual Specimens."
"Like me," said George tonelessly.
"I shouldn’t call you a specimen, I suppose, but you are unusual. You’re
worth studying, and if you will allow me that privilege then, in return, I will help you if you are in trouble and if I can."
There were pin wheels whirring in George’s mind. -All this talk about people and colonization made possible by Education. It was as though caked thought within him were being broken up and strewn about mercilessly.
He said, "Let me think," and clamped his hands over his ears.
He took them away and said to the Historian, "Will you do something for me, sir?"
"If I can," said the Historian amiably.
"And everything I say in this room is a privileged communication. You said so."
”And I meant it.”
"Then get me an interview with an Outworld official, with-with a Novian."
Ingenescu looked startled. "Well, now-"
"You can do it," said George earnestly. "You’re an important official. I saw the policeman’s look when you put that card in front of his eyes. If you refuse, I-I won’t let you study me."
It sounded a silly threat in George’s own ears, one without force. On Ingenescu, however, it seemed to have a strong effect.
He said, "That’s an impossible condition. A Novian in Olympics month-"
"All right, then, get me a Novian on the phone and I’ll make my own arrangements for an interview."
"Do you think you can?"
"I know I can. Wait and see."
Ingenescu stared at George thoughtfully and then reached for the visiphone.
George waited, half drunk with his new outlook on the whole problem and the sense of power it brought. It couldn’t miss. It couldn’t miss. He would be a Novian yet. He would leave Earth in triumph despite Antonelli and the whole crew of fools at the House for the (he almost laughed aloud) Feeble-minded.
George watched eagerly as the visiplate lit up. It would open up a window into a room of Novians, a window into a small patch of Novia transplanted to Earth. In twenty-four hours, he had accomplished that much.
There was a burst of laughter as the plate unmisted and sharpened, but for the moment no single head could be seen but rather the fast passing of the shadows of men and women, this way and that. A voice was heard, clear-worded over a background of babble. "Ingenescu? He wants me?"
Then there he was, staring out of the plate. A Novian. A genuine Novian. (George had not an atom of doubt. There was something completely
Outworldly about him. Nothing that could be completely defined, or even momentarily mistaken.)
He was swarthy in complexion with a dark wave of hair combed rigidly back from his forehead. He wore a thin black mustache and a pointed beard, just as dark, that scarcely reached below, the lower limit of his narrow chin, but the rest of his face was so smooth that it looked as though it had been depilated permanently.
He was smiling. "Ladislas, this goes too far. We fully expect to be spied on, within reason, during our stay on Earth, but mind reading is out of bounds."
"Mind reading, Honorable?"
"Confess! You knew I was going to call this evening. You knew I was only waiting to finish this drink." His hand moved up into view and his eye peered through a small glass of a faintly violet liqueur. "I can’t offer you one, I’m afraid."
George, out of range of Ingenescu’s transmitter could not be seen by the Novian. He was relieved at that. He wanted time to compose himself and he needed it badly. It was as though he were made up exclusively of restless fingers, drumming, drumming- But he was right. He hadn’t miscalculated. Ingenescu was important.
The Novian called him by his first name.
Good! Things worked well. What George had lost on Antonelli, he would make up, with advantage, on Ingenescu. And someday, when he was on his own at last, and could come back to Earth as powerful a Novian as this one who could negligently joke with Ingenescu’s first name and be addressed as "Honorable" in turn-when he came back, he would settle with Antonelli. He had a year and a half to pay back and he- He all but lost his balance on the brink of the enticing daydream and