Saturday, February 11, 2006

20. Proposal

On a world like Comporellon, of course, a member of the Presidium couldn’t simply walk into a Scientistic Temple and expect the fact to remain unknown. On the afternoon of the day after Trevize’s visit, First Minister Lizalor requested his presence in the Administration building. He was able to guess at the reason (me and my intuition, he taunted himself), so the stern look Lizalor gave him was not totally unexpected.

Gesturing at a report on her desk, Lizalor said, "Minister, word has reached me from the Ministry of State Security that you were observed entering a Foundation temple yesterday evening."

"Minister Banasek’s men are operating with their usual flawless efficiency," Trevize responded drily. "I did indeed visit a Temple of Science, to give the facility its correct name. It was the one at the Arcadia shopping district, though I have no doubt that your report has already told you where it is, and also exactly how long I spent there, to the Galactic Standard second."

"You display an unseemly jocularity for a man who is in imminent danger of being arrested for treason," said a frowning Lizalor.

"I was informed by a priest at the Temple (a Father Dorno, in case your report doesn’t mention his name) that there were 46 Scientistic Temples in the Commonwealth. Is everyone who frequents a temple in imminent danger of being arrested for treason?"

Her voice growing perceptively colder, Lizalor said, "None of those other Comporellian citizens is a member of the Presidium. We who serve in the upper echelons of the government are held to a higher standard of loyalty than the average citizen."

Trevize nodded. "So you're saying that the act of walking into a house of worship is grounds for treason here on Comporellon."

"Do not bandy words with me, Minister," said Lizalor, growing visibly angry. "You are consorting with agents of a foreign government, and that is grounds for treason here on Comporellon."

"The First Minister's grasp of Galactic history seems to be faulty," said Trevize. "The Church of Science hasn't been associated with the Foundation's government in over three hundred years. These days, they're simply another religion."

"A foreign religion," Lizalor spat, "sprung from the Foundation."

"Naturally," Trevize said, "as First Minister, it is well within your powers to declare the Church of Science an illegal organization, and to have its members and associates arrested. Will you be doing so?"

If anything, his question seemed to make Lizalor even angrier. "It is not a question of what is within my power, as you know very well. It is within my power to declare war on the Foundation, but we both know that doing so would be the height of folly. It would be almost as foolish to declare the Church of Science," she snarled the name, "illegal. The Presidium has allowed this dangerous cult to grow too influential. To move against it would be to invite an uprising against the government by its adherents, and to make Comporellon appear every bit as barbaric as the Foundation claims we are. So, to answer your question, no, I will not be arresting every member of the Church. But I will arrest you unless you explain exactly what you were doing there!"

"I was homesick," Trevize said simply.

That seemed to bring Lizalor up short. Her anger evaporated, leaving only puzzlement. "Homesick?"

"Yes, First Minister, homesick," Trevize said quietly. "I have been away from Terminus for nearly a year now. I am foresworn there. I can never go back."

"Do you regret becoming a Comporellian?" Lizalor asked, equally quietly.

"No. Moving here was the right thing to do, and I do not regret it. Nevertheless, Terminus is my homeworld. I miss being there, and I can never go back. When I saw the temple at the Arcadia shopping district, it was like looking at a small piece of Terminus, and I couldn't resist the impulse to step inside and feel an echo of home, however faint. If you want to have me arrested for that, First Minister, then go ahead."

Lizalor rose from her desk, came around, and embraced him. "I am sorry, my love," she whispered to him. "You have always been so strong, it never occurred to me that you might suffer so. Can you forgive me?"

Trevize kissed her. "There is nothing to forgive, my love. It was a foolish thing for me to do." It felt wonderful to have Mitza Lizalor in his arms again. He found himself wishing there was some way for the two of them to be open about their love.

And just like that, as though his mind had been waiting for him to frame the question in the proper way, he saw the answer. Releasing Lizalor, he sank down onto one knee before her, took her hand in his, and said, "Mitza Lizalor, will you marry me?"


Anonymous said...

Just read your whole story. Very entertaining! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Nice story. When will the next chapters be finished?

Spiun said...

Wow. Amazingly good read. Thanks for this :)

Anonymous said...

I just read this whole thing, and I just wanted to say great work! Keep it up!

Attila Torkos said...

Wonderful so far! I hope to read the whole story one day!

If you read this comment, would you please get back to me at:

My name is Attila Torkos. I am also an Asimov freak, I am the one who compiled a Robot-Empire-Foundation timeline which was published in Foundation's Triumph and Aurora. I have been trying to contact you for some time but have not been successful. I am looking forward to your email. Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

I originally read the Foundation series (and the other associated series) back in the 80s and early 90s. I too wondered about a sequel to Foundation and Earth! I don't know why but I was thinking of the series recently, ran a search and found your site and After Earth story. Thoroughly enjoyable! I will bookmark this page to read additional chapters as they become available. Thanks again!

wolterstorff said...

Thank you for this! You have a gift. Please write more.