ANALYSIS OF A MURDER
Jessie said good-by to them. She was wearing a formal hat and a little jacket of keratofiber as she said, “I hope you’ll excuse me, Mr. Olivaw. I know you have a great deal to discuss with Lije.”
She pushed her son ahead of her as she opened the door.
“When will you be back, Jessie?” asked Baley.
She paused. “When do you want me to be back?”
“Well… No use staying out all night. Why don’t you come back your usual time? Midnight or so.” He looked doubtfully at R. Daneel.
R. Daneel nodded. “I regret having to drive you from your home.”
“Don’t worry about that, Mr. Olivaw. You’re not driving me out at all. This is my usual evening out with the girls anyway. Come on, Ben.”
The youngster was rebellious. “Aw, why the dickens do I have to go, anyway. I’m not going to bother them. Nuts!”
“Now, do as I say.”
“Well, why can’t I go to the etherics along with you?”
“Because I’m going with some friends and you’ve got other things—”
The door closed behind them.
And now the moment had come. Baley had put it off in his mind. lie had thought: First let’s meet the robot and see what he’s like. Then it was: Let’s get him home. And then: Let’s eat.
But now it was all over and there was no room for further delay. It was down at last to the question of murder, of interstellar complications, of possible raises in ratings, of possible disgrace. And he had no way of even beginning except to turn to the robot for help.
His fingernails moved aimlessly on the table, which had not been returned to its wall recess.
R. Daneel said, “How secure are we against being overheard?”
Baley looked up, surprised. “No one would listen to what’s proceeding in another man’s apartment.”
“It is not your custom to eavesdrop?”
“It just isn’t done, Daneel. You might as well suppose they’d—I don’t know—that they’d look in your plate while you’re eating.”
“Or that they would commit murder?”
“It is against your customs to kill, is it not, Elijah?”
Baley felt anger rising. “See here, if we’re going to be partners, don’t try to imitate Spacer arrogance. There’s no room for it in you, R. Daneel.” He could not resist emphasizing the “R.”
“I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings, Elijah. My intention was only to indicate that, since human beings are occasionally capable of murder in defiance of custom, they may be able to violate custom for the smaller impropriety of eavesdropping.”
“The apartment is adequately insulated,” said Baley, still frowning. “You haven’t heard anything from the apartments on any side of us, have you? Well, they won’t hear us, either. Besides, why should anyone think anything of importance is going on here?”
“Let us not underestimate the enemy.”
Baley shrugged. “Let’s get started. My information is sketchy, so I can spread out my hand without much trouble. I know that a man named Roj Nemennuh Sarton, a citizen of the planet Aurora, and a resident of Spacetown, has been murdered by person or persons unknown. I understand that it is the opinion of the Spacers that this is not an isolated event. Am I right?”
“You are quite right, Elijah.”
“They tie it up with recent attempts to sabotage the Spacer-sponsored project of converting us to an integrated human/robot society on the model of the Outer Worlds, and assume the murder was the product of a well-organized terrorist group.”
“All right. Then to begin with, is this Spacer assumption necessarily true? Why can’t the murder have been the work of an isolated fanatic? There is strong anti-robot sentiment on Earth, but there are no organized parties advocating violence of this sort.”
“Not openly, perhaps. No.”
“Even a secret organization dedicated to the destruction of robots and robot factories would have the common sense to realize that the worst thing they could do would be to murder a Spacer. It seems much more likely to have been the work of an unbalanced mind.”
R. Daneel listened carefully, then said, “I think the weight of probability is against the ‘fanatic’ theory. The person killed was too well chosen and the time of the murder too appropriate for anything but deliberate planning on the part of an organized group.”
“Well, then, you’ve got more information than I have. Spill it!”
“Your phraseology is obscure, but I think I understand. I will have to explain some of the background to you. As seen from Spacetown, Elijah, relations with Earth are unsatisfactory.”
“Tough,” muttered Baley.
“I have been told that when Spacetown was first established, it was taken for granted by most of our people that Earth would be willing to adopt the integrated society that has worked so well on the Outer Worlds. Even after the first riots, we thought that it was only a matter of your people getting over the first shock of novelty.
“That has not proven to be the case. Even with the co-operation of the Terrestrial government and of most of the various City governments, resistance has been continuous and progress has been very slow. Naturally, this has been a matter of great concern to our people.”
“Out of altruism, I suppose,” said Baley.
“Not entirely,” said R. Daneel, “although it is good of you to attribute worthy motives to them. It is our common belief that a healthy and modernized Earth would be of great benefit to the whole Galaxy. At least, it is the common belief among our people at Spacetown. I must admit that there are strong elements opposed to them on the Outer Worlds.”
“What? Disagreement among the Spacers?”
“Certainly. There are some who think that a modernized Earth will be a dangerous and an imperialistic Earth. This is particularly true among the populations of those older worlds which are closer to Earth and have greater reason to remember the first few centuries of interstellar travel when their worlds were controlled, politically and economically, by Earth.”
Baley sighed. “Ancient history. Are they really worried? Are they still kicking at us for things that happened a thousand years ago?”
“Humans,” said R. Daneel, “have their own peculiar makeup. They are not as reasonable, in many ways, as we robots, since their circuits are not as preplanned. I am told that this, too, has its advantages.”
“Perhaps it may,” said Baley, dryly.
“You are in a better position to know,” said R. Daneel. “In any case, continuing failure on Earth has strengthened the Nationalist parties on the Outer Worlds. They say that it is obvious that Earthmen are different from Spacers and cannot be fitted into the same traditions. They say that if we imposed robots on Earth by superior force, we would be loosing destruction on the Galaxy. One thing they never forget, you see, is that Earth’s population is eight billions, while the total population of the fifty Outer Worlds combined is scarcely more than five and a half billions. Our people here, particularly Dr. Sarton—”
“He was a doctor?”
“A Doctor of Sociology, specializing in robotics, and a very brilliant man.”
“I see. Go on.”
“As I said, Dr. Sarton and the others realized that Spacetown and all it meant would not exist much longer if such sentiments on the Outer Worlds were allowed to grow by feeding on our continued failure. Dr. Sarton felt that the time had come to make a supreme effort to understand the psychology of the Earthman. It is easy to say that the Earth people are innately conservative and to speak tritely of ‘the unchanging Earth’ and ‘the inscrutable Terrestrial mind,’ but that is only evading the problem.
“Dr. Sarton said it was ignorance speaking and that we could not dismiss the Earthman with a proverb or a bromide. He said the Spacers who were trying to remake Earth must abandon the isolation of Spacetown and mingle with Earthmen. They must live as they, think as they, be as they.”
Baley said, “The Spacers? Impossible.”
“You are quite right,” said R. Daneel. “Despite his views, Dr. Sarton himself could not have brought himself to enter any of the Cities, and he knew it. He would have been unable to bear the hugeness and the crowds. Even if he had been forced inside at the point of a blaster, the externals would have weighed him down so that he could never have penetrated the inner truths for which he sought.”
“What about the way they’re always worrying about disease?” demanded Baley. “Don’t forget that. I don’t think there’s one of them that would risk entering a City on that account alone.”
“There is that, too. Disease in the Earthly sense is unknown on the Outer Worlds and the fear of the unknown is always morbid. Dr. Sarton appreciated all of this, but, nevertheless, he insisted on the necessity of growing to know the Earthman and his way of life intimately.”
“He seems to have worked himself into a corner.”
“Not quite. The objections to entering the City hold for human Spacers. Robot Spacers are another thing entirely.”
Baley thought: I keep forgetting, damn it. Aloud, he said, “Oh?”
“Yes,” said R. Daneel. “We are more flexible, naturally. At least in this respect. We can be designed for adaptation to an Earthly life. By being built into a particularly close similarity to the human externals, we could be accepted by Earthmen and allowed a closer view of their life.”
“And you yourself—” began Baley in sudden enlightenment.
“Am just such a robot. For a year, Dr. Sarton had been working upon the design and construction of such robots. I was the first of his robots and so far the only one. Unfortunately, my education is not yet complete. I have been hurried into my role prematurely as a result of the murder.”
“Then not all Spacer robots are like you? I mean, some look more like robots and less like humans. Right?”
“Why, naturally. The outward appearance is dependent on a robot’s function. My own function requires a very manlike appearance, and I have it. Others are different, although all are humanoid. Certainly they are more humanoid than the distressingly primitive models I saw at the shoe counter. Are all your robots like that?”
“More or less,” said Baley. “You don’t approve?”
“Of course not. It is difficult to accept a gross parody of the human form as an intellectual equal. Can your factories do no better?”
“I’m sure they can, Daneel. I think we just prefer to know when we’re dealing with a robot and when we’re not.” He stared directly into the robot’s eyes as he said that. They were bright and moist, as a human’s would be, but it seemed to Baley that their gaze was steady and did not flicker slightly from point to point as a man’s would.
R. Daneel said, “I am hopeful that in time I will grow to understand that point of view.”
For a moment, Baley thought there was sarcasm in the sentence, then dismissed the possibility.
“In any case,” said R. Daneel, “Dr. Sarton saw clearly the fact that it was a case for C/Fe.”
“See fee? What’s that?”
“Just the chemical symbols for the elements carbon and iron, Elijah. Carbon is the basis of human life and iron of robot life. It becomes easy to speak of C/Fe when you wish to express a culture that combines the best of the two on an equal but parallel basis.”
“See fee. Do you write it with a hyphen? Or how?”
“No, Elijah. A diagonal line between the two is the accepted way. It symbolizes neither one nor the other, but a mixture of the two, without priority.”
Against his will, Baley found himself interested. Formal education on Earth included virtually no information on Outer World history or sociology after the Great Rebellion that made them independent of the mother planet. The popular book-film romances, to be sure, had their stock Outer World characters: the visiting tycoon, choleric and eccentric; the beautiful heiress, invariably smitten by the Earthman’s charms and drowning disdain in love; the arrogant Spacer rival, wicked and forever beaten. These were worthless pictures, since they denied even the most elementary and well-known truths: that Spacers never entered Cities and Spacer women virtually never visited Earth.
For the first time in his life, Baley was stirred by an odd curiosity. What was Spacer life really like?
He brought his mind back to the issue at hand with something of an effort. He said, “I think I get what you’re driving at. Your Dr. Sarton was attacking the problem of Earth’s conversion to C/Fe from a new and promising angle. Our conservative groups or Medievalists, as they call themselves, were perturbed. They were afraid he might succeed. So they killed him. That’s the motivation that makes it an organized plot and not an isolated outrage. Right?”
“I would put it about like that, Elijah. Yes.”
Baley whistled thoughtfully under his breath. His long fingers tapped lightly against the table. Then he shook his head. “It won’t wash. It won’t wash at all.”
“Pardon me. I do not understand you.”
“I’m trying to get the picture. An Earthman walks into Spacetown, walks up to Dr. Sarton, blasts him, and walks out. I just don’t see it. Surely the entrance to Spacetown is guarded.”
R. Daneel nodded. “I think it is safe to say that no Earthman can possibly have passed through the entrance illegally.”
“Then where does that leave you?”
“It would leave us in a confusing position, Elijah, if the entrance were the only way of reaching Spacetown from New York City.”
Baley watched his partner thoughtfully. “I don’t get you. It’s the only connection between the two.”
“Directly between the two, yes.” R. Daneel waited a moment, then said, “You do not follow me. Is that not so?”
“That is so. I don’t get you at all.”
“Well, if it will not offend you, I will try to explain myself. May I have a piece of paper and a writer? Thank you. Look here, partner Elijah. I will draw a big circle and label it ‘New York City.’ Now, tangent to it, I will draw a small circle and label it ‘Spacetown.’ Here, where they touch, I draw an arrowhead and label it ‘Barrier.’ Now do you see no other connection?”
Baley said, “Of course not. There is no other connection.”
“In a way,” said the robot, “I am glad to hear you say this. It is in accordance with what I have been taught about Terrestrial ways of thinking. The barrier is the only direct connection. But both the City and Spacetown are open to the countryside in all directions. It is possible for a Terrestrial to leave the City at any of numerous exits and strike out cross country to Spacetown, where no barrier will stop him.”
The tip of Baley’s tongue touched his upper lip and for a moment stayed there. Then he said, “Cross country?”
“Cross country! Alone?”
“Undoubtedly walking. Walking would offer the least chance of detection. The murder took place early in the working day and the trip was undoubtedly negotiated in the hours before dawn.”
“Impossible! There isn’t a man in the City who would do it. Leave the City? Alone?”
“Ordinarily, it would seem unlikely. Yes. We Spacers know that. It is why we guard only the entrance. Even in the Great Riot, your people attacked only at the barrier that then protected the entrance. Not one left the City.”
“But now we are dealing with an unusual situation. It is not the blind attack of a mob following the line of least resistance, but the organized attempt of a small group to strike, deliberately, at the unguarded point. It explains why, as you say, a Terrestrial could enter Spacetown, walk up to his victim, kill him, and walk away. The man attacked through a complete blind spot on our part.”
Baley shook his head. “It’s too unlikely. Have your people done anything to check that theory?”
“Yes, we have. Your Commissioner of Police was present almost at the time of the murder—”
“I know. He told me so.”
“That, Elijah, is another example of the timeliness of the murder. Your Commissioner has co-operated with Dr. Sarton in the past and he was the Earthman with whom Dr. Sarton planned to make initial arrangements concerning the infiltration of your city by R’s such as myself. The appointment for that morning was to concern that. The murder, of course, stopped those plans, at least temporarily, and the fact that it happened when your own Commissioner of Police was actually within Spacetown made the entire situation more difficult and embarrassing for Earth, and for our own people, too.
“But that is not what I started to say. Your Commissioner was present. We said to him, ‘The man must have come cross country.’ Like you, he said, ‘Impossible,’ or perhaps, ‘Unthinkable.’ He was quite disturbed, of course, and perhaps that may have made it difficult for him to see the essential point. Nevertheless, we forced him to begin checking that possibility almost at once.”
Baley thought of the Commissioner’s broken glasses and, even in the middle of somber thoughts, a corner of his mouth twitched. Poor Julius! Yes, he would be disturbed. Of course, there would be no way for Enderby to have explained the situation to the lofty Spacers, who looked upon physical disability as a peculiarly disgusting attribute of the non-genetically selected Earthmen. At least, he couldn’t without losing face, and face was valuable to Police Commissioner Julius Enderby. Well, Earthmen had to stick together in some respects. The robot would never find out about Enderby’s nearsightedness from Baley.
R. Daneel continued, “One by one, the various exit points from the City were investigated. Do you know how many there are, Elijah?”
Baley shook his head, then hazarded, “Twenty?”
“Five hundred and two.”
“Originally, there were many more. Five hundred and two are all that remain functional. Your City represents a slow growth, Elijah. It was once open to the sky and people crossed from City to country freely.”
“Of course. I know that.”
“Well, when it was first enclosed, there were many exits left. Five hundred and two still remain. The rest are built over or blocked up. We are not counting, of course, the entrance points for air freight.”
“Well, what of the exit points?”
“It was hopeless. They are unguarded. We could find no official who was in charge or who considered them under his jurisdiction. It seemed as though no one even knew they existed. A man could have walked out of any of them at any time and returned at will. He would never have been detected.”
“Anything else? The weapon was gone, I suppose.”
“Any clues of any sort?”
“None. We have investigated the grounds surrounding Spacetown thoroughly. The robots on the truck farms were quite useless as possible witnesses. They are little more than automatic farm machinery, scarcely humanoid. And there were no humans.”
“Uh-huh. What next?”
“Having failed, so far, at one end, Spacetown, we will work at the other, New York City. It will be our duty to track down all possible subversive groups, to sift all dissident organizations—”
“How much time do you intend to spend?” interrupted Baley.
“As little as possible, as much as necessary.”
“Well,” said Baley, thoughtfully, “I wish you had another partner in this mess.”
“I do not,” said R. Daneel. “The Commissioner spoke very highly of your loyalty and ability.”
“It was nice of him,” said Baley sardonically. He thought: Poor Julius. I’m on his conscience and he tries hard.
“We didn’t rely entirely on him,” said R. Daneel. “We checked your records. You have expressed yourself openly against the use of robots in your department.”
“Oh? Do you object?”
“Not at all. Your opinions are, obviously, your own. But it made it necessary for us to check your psychological profile very closely. We know that, although you dislike R’s intensely, you will work with one if you conceive it to be your duty. You have an extraordinarily high loyalty aptitude and a respect for legitimate authority. It is what we need. Commissioner Enderby judged you well.”
“You have no personal resentment toward my anti-robot sentiments?”
R. Daneel said, “If they do not prevent you from working with me and helping me do what is required of me, how can they matter?”
Baley felt stopped. He said, belligerently, “Well, then, if I pass the test, how about you? What makes you a detective?”
“I do not understand you.”
“You were designed as an information-gathering machine. A manimitation to record the facts of human life for the Spacers.”
“That is a good beginning for an investigator, is it not? To be an information-gathering machine?”
“A beginning, maybe. But it’s not all there is, by a long shot.”
“To be sure, there has been a final adjustment of my circuits.”
“I’d be curious to hear the details of that, Daneel.”
“That is easy enough. A particularly strong drive has been inserted into my motivation banks; a desire for justice.”
“Justice!” cried Baley. The irony faded from his face and was replaced by a look of the most earnest distrust.
But R. Daneel turned swiftly in his chair and stared at the door. “Someone is out there.”
Someone was. The door opened and Jessie, pale and thin-lipped, walked in.
Baley was startled. “Why, Jessie! Is anything wrong?”
She stood there, eyes not meeting his. “I’m sorry. I had to… Her voice trailed off.
“He’s to stay the night in the Youth Hall.”
Baley said, “Why? I didn’t tell you to do that.”
“You said your partner would stay the night. I felt he would need Bentley’s room.”
R. Daneel said, “There was no necessity, Jessie.”
Jessie lifted her eyes to R. Daneel’s face, staring at it earnestly.
Baley looked at his fingertips, sick at what might follow, somehow unable to interpose. The momentary silence pressed thickly on his eardrums and then, far away, as though through folds of plastex, he heard his wife say, “I think you are a robot, Daneel.”
And R. Daneel replied, in a voice as calm as ever, “I am.”