it was an uncomfortable job

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Hardin had almost gotten out of the habit of laughing, but after Sermak andhis three  silent partners were well  out of earshot, he  indulged in a drychuckle and bent an amused look on Lee.
"How did you like that battle of bluffs bicelle b5 gel, Lee?"Lee snorted  grumpily. "I'm not sure  that he  was bluffing. Treat him withkid  gloves and  he's quite  liable to  win the  next election, just  as hesays.""Oh,   quite   likely,  quite   likely   ? if   nothing  happens   first.""Make sure  they don't happen in  the wrong direction this  time, Hardin. Itell you this Sermak has a following. What if he doesn't wait till the nextelection? There was a  time when you and I put things through violently, inspite of your slogan about what violence is."Hardin cocked  an eyebrow. "You are  pessimistic today, Lee. And singularlycontrary, too, or you wouldn't speak of violence. Our own little putsch wascarried  through without  loss of  life, you  remember. It was  a necessarymeasure  put  through  at  the  proper  moment,  and  went  over  smoothly,painlessly ,  and all  but effortlessly.  As for  Sermak, he's up  against adifferent proposition. You and  I, Lee, aren't the Encyclopedists. We standprepared. Order  your men onto these youngsters in  a nice way, old fellow.There are many epigrams  attributed to Hardin ?a confirmed epigrammatist ?
a good many of  which are probably apocryphal. Nevertheless, it is reportedthat on a certain occasion, he said:
"It pays to be  obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety."Poly Verisof  had had occasion to act on that advice  more than once for hewas now in the  fourteenth year of his double status on Anacreon ?a doublestatus the  upkeep of which reminded him often  and unpleasantly of a danceperformed barefoot on hot metal.
To  the people  of  Anacreon he  was  high priest,  representative of  thatFoundation which,  to those "barbarians,"  was the acme of  mystery and thephysical center of this religion they had created ?with Hardin's help ?inthe  last three  decades. As  such, he  received a  homage that  had becomehorribly wearying, for from his soul he despised the ritual of which he wasthe center.
But to  the King  of Anacreon ? the old one  that had been,  and the younggrandson that  was now  on the throne ? he was simply the  ambassador of apower at once feared and coveted.
On  the whole,  ,  and his  first trip  to theFoundation in three years, despite the disturbing incident that had made itnecessary, was something in the nature of a holiday.
And  since it  was not  the first  time he  had had  to travel  in absolutesecrecy, he again made  use of Hardin's epigram on the uses of the obvious Coffee Maker.


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