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He told himself that all wasn't lost. Maybe the E was back in control of Eden, but he, Gunderson, still had a morals case. All those photographs!
Some of the press and commentators might desert him, now that the Junior had proved adequate to the job. Unless he chose carefully, some stupid judge might decide the means were justified by the end result. But there were those photographs, and the world was full of Mrs. Grundy. He might have to back up a little bit on the incompetence of the Junior E, but Mrs. Grundy would be behind him a hundred per cent on the morals issue--when he released some of the photographs, and titillated her nasty imagination by reference to others too indecent to release.
It was then that the observer ship got a call through to him, and told him that the photographs, every one of them, had disappeared from the ship's vault where they had been locked, and the only thing remaining in the vault was one little slip of paper which read, "Shame on you for taking feelthy pictures. Naughty, naughty! Calvin Gray."
The case was crumbling, but all was not lost. He still had witnesses. He thought for a minute and began to wonder about those witnesses. Any judge, anybody around the courts, anybody connected with the press, and maybe even some of the public knew that any police officer will swear to any lie to back up another police officer because he might need the favor returned tomorrow.
Without concrete evidence ...
He suddenly found himself standing in the cabin of the E ship, confronted by E McGinnis, Junior E Gray, and Mrs. Gray. He sank down in a chair and sat frozen, immobile. Only his eyes were alive, darting frantically here and there as if expecting some hole to open up and swallow him--perhaps wishing one would.
"I don't know just what to do with you," Cal said a little sadly, ruefully. "Far as the E's are concerned, you've only been a minor nuisance, hardly worth noticing, but your intentions were dangerous. As far back as man's history goes the growth of police powers immediately preceded and caused the fall and destruction of each culture.
"It is a law of the nature of man that he will resist the ascendancy of any special me-and-mine group over him; that this resistance will grow until man will even destroy himself in the attempt to destroy that ascendancy. In more recent history it was the growth, extension, and severity of the police in controlling every activity of man that destroyed both the United States and Russia.
"Now you are attempting to rebuild that same police control in world government. The result will be the same. Man will destroy himself in trying to destroy you.
"We in E don't want that to happen. We see no need of it. We have already warned that the attitude of the police toward the public is the major cause of crime, that crime will increase with each increase of police power and severity until the whole structure rots and crumbles.
"Yet man has not yet progressed far enough to know how to maintain an organized society without some special body to enforce that organization. It's a problem which the E's haven't solved, probably because we know too little about the natural laws affecting the behavior of man. Perhaps it is still a field belonging to non-science, because science doesn't know enough yet to take hold of it.
"I would suggest, Gunderson, that you turn your talents and your organization to solving this problem of how to build an organized society instead of destroying it."
The chair where Gunderson had sat was empty.
E McGinnis looked at Cal; he too was sitting silent and immobile. But E science had inured him to shock. He waited because it was E Gray's show, and he was letting Cal handle it.
"Where is he now?" McGinnis asked when he saw the empty chair.
"Sitting at his desk in his office back on Earth," Cal said with a grin.
"Our boy has a few things to think about."
"You've explained the theory back of all this"--McGinnis changed the subject--"but I still find it incredible. It's still just theory."
"Well," Cal said, "theory comes first. Even to add two and two, you first have to get the idea that it can be done, a theory of how it is done, but that still won't get you four. You've got to learn how to apply the theory.
"When I first found I knew how, I was pretty concerned. The whole basis of science is that anybody can do it, anybody who follows the step-by-step method. It doesn't take any special gifts that can't be trained. I had visions of a world, a universe of people, in possession of this theory and method before they were wise enough to use it, and chaos.
"But when I thought it over, I stopped worrying. The methods of science are also open to all. But few bother to learn them. Most prefer their frustrations and their miseries to making the effort which will solve them. For centuries the libraries containing all the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of mankind have been free and open to anybody who wants to read, but few have bothered to absorb that knowledge and that wisdom.
"This new key we have that unlocks the door to another vista of knowledge, another point of view whereby we can change material things to suit our desire, is merely another advance of science. For science, after all, is no more than organized knowledge of reality. You can't multiply six times six until you've learned how to add two and two. Most people won't bother.
"It will be a long, long time before any significant number will graduate through all the normal seven steps of E science to become ready for the eighth. Some of the E's will master it, but you know how few E's there are. And the E's have enough restraint, wisdom, and selflessness to use this new knowledge for the benefit of man instead of his detriment.
"I suspect that one has to be graduated beyond the desire to make me-and-mine ascendant over others before he can absorb this knowledge."
"Maybe that's my trouble," McGinnis said slowly. "I've been thinking, all along, of how much power this gives the E's. Wondering if even the E's should have that much power over others."
Linda spoke up.
"E McGinnis," she said, "Cal has solved the problem of what happened to the colonists, why they didn't communicate. Do you think this will qualify him for his big E?"
Both men burst into laughter.
"No question of it, Linda," E McGinnis said with a chuckle. "But I doubt it really matters to E Gray, now. He can do things none of the rest of us can do, and the real question now is whether we have the right to call ourselves Seniors until we can match his ability."
"I think," Cal said slowly, "we'd better recommend to E.H.Q. that the colonists be withdrawn from Eden, assigned somewhere else. I've left the shield around the planet so none can enter or leave without the eighth key. I can unlock the door and close it again. Perhaps Eden should become the next step for the E, the next hurdle he must cross.
"When I've sent my ship and crew back to Earth, and we've removed all the colonists, it might be a good idea to restore Eden to what it was when I arrived--a place where no tools will work, no physical tools. To qualify for E, a man will be put on the island, where he can live as we lived, to work out the step-by-step method. When he's ready, he can go into the thought-amplifier on top of the mountain, and if his mind is open enough to the potentials he'll receive the final step of instruction--as I did.
"One by one, as the E's shake free of their present projects, they can take this next step."
"I'm not working on any project right now," E McGinnis said hopefully.
"I'll be right back," Cal said with a grin, "and we'll get started on it."
The chair where he had been sitting was empty.
Cal stood within the crystal amphitheater atop the mountain and watched the interplay of lights until he felt communion come.
"Be patient," he said. "There will be more, and more, and more.
"You had an advantage," he reminded Them. "You started with a crystalline vibration nearer to the force field than that possible in protoplasm. We've had to come up the hard way.
"But we have come up.
"You had no competition. We've had to fight for our very lives every inch of the way, endure the setbacks lasting for centuries, millennia.
It is no wonder that the me-and-mine-ascendant concept has dominated all our thought, and does still. Without it, we'd not have survived at all.
"It takes time to outgrow it, to learn we can survive without it. Five hundred years after Copernicus, a survey of the high school students in the United States revealed that a third of them still rejected his knowledge, still believed the Earth to be at the center of the universe and man was the reason why the universe had been created at all. But two thirds had adjusted.
"More important, there _was_ a Copernicus.
"Don't sell man short because he's slow to learn, and you are impatient for fuller, deeper exploration of the truths in reality. He has much to offer you, as you to him. Competition for survival has given him ingenuity.
"Once all learned men believed the Earth to be the center of the universe, but there _was_ a Copernicus who asked the question, 'What if it isn't so?'
"Millions of men watched apples fall to the ground, but one _did_ ask if this might not be the key to the structure of the universe, the balance of the stars.
"Billions watched the stars, but finally one _did_ ask, 'What if the light be curved instead of straight?'