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´╗┐Title: Little Fuzzy
Author: Piper, H. Beam, 1904-1964
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Fuzzy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



LITTLE FUZZY

by

H. Beam Piper



I


Jack Holloway found himself squinting, the orange sun full in his eyes. He
raised a hand to push his hat forward, then lowered it to the controls to
alter the pulse rate of the contragravity-field generators and lift the
manipulator another hundred feet. For a moment he sat, puffing on the
short pipe that had yellowed the corners of his white mustache, and looked
down at the red rag tied to a bush against the rock face of the gorge five
hundred yards away. He was smiling in anticipation.

"This'll be a good one," he told himself aloud, in the manner of men who
have long been their own and only company. "I want to see this one go up."

He always did. He could remember at least a thousand blast-shots he had
fired back along the years and on more planets than he could name at the
moment, including a few thermonuclears, but they were all different and
they were always something to watch, even a little one like this. Flipping
the switch, his thumb found the discharger button and sent out a radio
impulse; the red rag vanished in an upsurge of smoke and dust that mounted
out of the gorge and turned to copper when the sunlight touched it. The
big manipulator, weightless on contragravity, rocked gently; falling
debris pelted the trees and splashed in the little stream.

He waited till the machine stabilized, then glided it down to where he had
ripped a gash in the cliff with the charge of cataclysmite. Good shot:
brought down a lot of sandstone, cracked the vein of flint and hadn't
thrown it around too much. A lot of big slabs were loose. Extending the
forward claw-arms, he pulled and tugged, and then used the underside
grapples to pick up a chunk and drop it on the flat ground between the
cliff and the stream. He dropped another chunk on it, breaking both of
them, and then another and another, until he had all he could work over
the rest of the day. Then he set down, got the toolbox and the
long-handled contragravity lifter, and climbed to the ground where he
opened the box, put on gloves and an eyescreen and got out a microray
scanner and a vibrohammer.

The first chunk he cracked off had nothing in it; the scanner gave the
uninterrupted pattern of homogenous structure. Picking it up with the
lifter, he swung it and threw it into the stream. On the fifteenth chunk,
he got an interruption pattern that told him that a sunstone--or
something, probably something--was inside.

Some fifty million years ago, when the planet that had been called
Zarathustra (for the last twenty-five million) was young, there had
existed a marine life form, something like a jellyfish. As these died,
they had sunk into the sea-bottom ooze; sand had covered the ooze and
pressed it tighter and tighter, until it had become glassy flint, and the
entombed jellyfish little beans of dense stone. Some of them, by some
ancient biochemical quirk, were intensely thermofluorescent; worn as gems,
they glowed from the wearer's body heat.

On Terra or Baldur or Freya or Ishtar, a single cut of polished sunstone
was worth a small fortune. Even here, they brought respectable prices from
the Zarathustra Company's gem buyers. Keeping his point of expectation
safely low, he got a smaller vibrohammer from the toolbox and began
chipping cautiously around the foreign object, until the flint split open
and revealed a smooth yellow ellipsoid, half an inch long.

"Worth a thousand sols--if it's worth anything," he commented. A deft tap
here, another there, and the yellow bean came loose from the flint.
Picking it up, he rubbed it between gloved palms. "I don't think it is."
He rubbed harder, then held it against the hot bowl of his pipe. It still
didn't respond. He dropped it. "Another jellyfish that didn't live right."

Behind him, something moved in the brush with a dry rustling. He dropped
the loose glove from his right hand and turned, reaching toward his hip.
Then he saw what had made the noise--a hard-shelled thing a foot in
length, with twelve legs, long antennae and two pairs of clawed mandibles.
He stopped and picked up a shard of flint, throwing it with an oath.
Another damned infernal land-prawn.

He detested land-prawns. They were horrible things, which, of course,
wasn't their fault. More to the point, they were destructive. They got
into things at camp; they would try to eat anything. They crawled into
machinery, possibly finding the lubrication tasty, and caused jams. They
cut into electric insulation. And they got into his bedding, and bit, or
rather pinched, painfully. Nobody loved a land-prawn, not even another
land-prawn.

This one dodged the thrown flint, scuttled off a few feet and turned,
waving its antennae in what looked like derision. Jack reached for his hip
again, then checked the motion. Pistol cartridges cost like crazy; they
weren't to be wasted in fits of childish pique. Then he reflected that no
cartridge fired at a target is really wasted, and that he hadn't done any
shooting recently. Stooping again, he picked up another stone and tossed
it a foot short and to the left of the prawn. As soon as it was out of his
fingers, his hand went for the butt of the long automatic. It was out and
the safety off before the flint landed; as the prawn fled, he fired from
the hip. The quasi-crustacean disintegrated. He nodded pleasantly.

"Ol' man Holloway's still hitting things he shoots at."

Was a time, not so long ago, when he took his abilities for granted. Now
he was getting old enough to have to verify them. He thumbed on the safety
and holstered the pistol, then picked up the glove and put it on again.

Never saw so blasted many land-prawns as this summer. They'd been bad last
year, but nothing like this. Even the oldtimers who'd been on Zarathustra
since the first colonization said so. There'd be some simple explanation,
of course; something that would amaze him at his own obtuseness for not
having seen it at once. Maybe the abnormally dry weather had something to
do with it. Or increase of something they ate, or decrease of natural
enemies.

He'd heard that land-prawns had no natural enemies; he questioned that.
Something killed them. He'd seen crushed prawn shells, some of them close
to his camp. Maybe stamped on by something with hoofs, and then picked
clean by insects. He'd ask Ben Rainsford; Ben ought to know.

Half an hour later, the scanner gave him another interruption pattern. He
laid it aside and took up the small vibrohammer. This time it was a large
bean, light pink in color, He separated it from its matrix of flint and
rubbed it, and instantly it began glowing.

"Ahhh! This is something like it, now!"

He rubbed harder; warmed further on his pipe bowl, it fairly blazed.
Better than a thousand sols, he told himself. Good color, too. Getting his
gloves off, he drew out the little leather bag from under his shirt,
loosening the drawstrings by which it hung around his neck. There were a
dozen and a half stones inside, all bright as live coals. He looked at
them for a moment, and dropped the new sunstone in among them, chuckling
happily.

       *       *       *       *       *

Victor Grego, listening to his own recorded voice, rubbed the sunstone on
his left finger with the heel of his right palm and watched it brighten.
There was, he noticed, a boastful ring to his voice--not the suave,
unemphatic tone considered proper on a message-tape. Well, if anybody
wondered why, when they played that tape off six months from now in
Johannesburg on Terra, they could look in the cargo holds of the ship that
had brought it across five hundred light-years of space. Ingots of gold
and platinum and gadolinium. Furs and biochemicals and brandy. Perfumes
that defied synthetic imitation; hardwoods no plastic could copy. Spices.
And the steel coffer full of sunstones. Almost all luxury goods, the only
really dependable commodities in interstellar trade.

And he had spoken of other things. Veldbeest meat, up seven per cent from
last month, twenty per cent from last year, still in demand on a dozen
planets unable to produce Terran-type foodstuffs. Grain, leather, lumber.
And he had added a dozen more items to the lengthening list of what
Zarathustra could now produce in adequate quantities and no longer needed
to import. Not fishhooks and boot buckles, either--blasting explosives and
propellants, contragravity-field generator parts, power tools,
pharmaceuticals, synthetic textiles. The Company didn't need to carry
Zarathustra any more; Zarathustra could carry the Company, and itself.

Fifteen years ago, when the Zarathustra Company had sent him here, there
had been a cluster of log and prefab huts beside an improvised landing
field, almost exactly where this skyscraper now stood. Today, Mallorysport
was a city of seventy thousand; in all, the planet had a population of
nearly a million, and it was still growing. There were steel mills and
chemical plants and reaction plants and machine works. They produced all
their own fissionables, and had recently begun to export a little refined
plutonium; they had even started producing collapsium shielding.

The recorded voice stopped. He ran back the spool, set for sixty-speed,
and transmitted it to the radio office. In twenty minutes, a copy would be
aboard the ship that would hyper out for Terra that night. While he was
finishing, his communication screen buzzed.

"Dr. Kellogg's screening you, Mr. Grego," the girl in the outside office
told him.

He nodded. Her hands moved, and she vanished in a polychromatic explosion;
when it cleared, the chief of the Division of Scientific Study and
Research was looking out of the screen instead. Looking slightly upward at
the showback over his own screen, Victor was getting his warm,
sympathetic, sincere and slightly too toothy smile on straight.

"Hello, Leonard. Everything going all right?"

It either was and Leonard Kellogg wanted more credit than he deserved or
it wasn't and he was trying to get somebody else blamed for it before
anybody could blame him.

"Good afternoon, Victor." Just the right shade of deference about using
the first name--big wheel to bigger wheel. "Has Nick Emmert been talking
to you about the Big Blackwater project today?"

Nick was the Federation's resident-general; on Zarathustra he was, to all
intents and purposes, the Terran Federation Government. He was also a
large stockholder in the chartered Zarathustra Company.

"No. Is he likely to?"

"Well, I wondered, Victor. He was on my screen just now. He says there's
some adverse talk about the effect on the rainfall in the Piedmont area of
Beta Continent. He was worried about it."

"Well, it would affect the rainfall. After all, we drained half a million
square miles of swamp, and the prevailing winds are from the west. There'd
be less atmospheric moisture to the east of it. Who's talking adversely
about it, and what worries Nick?"

"Well, Nick's afraid of the effect on public opinion on Terra. You know
how strong conservation sentiment is; everybody's very much opposed to any
sort of destructive exploitation."

"Good Lord! The man doesn't call the creation of five hundred thousand
square miles of new farmland destructive exploitation, does he?"

"Well, no, Nick doesn't call it that; of course not. But he's concerned
about some garbled story getting to Terra about our upsetting the
ecological balance and causing droughts. Fact is, I'm rather concerned
myself."

He knew what was worrying both of them. Emmert was afraid the Federation
Colonial Office would blame him for drawing fire on them from the
conservationists. Kellogg was afraid he'd be blamed for not predicting the
effects before his division endorsed the project. As a division chief, he
had advanced as far as he would in the Company hierarchy; now he was on a
Red Queen's racetrack, running like hell to stay in the same place.

"The rainfall's dropped ten per cent from last year, and fifteen per cent
from the year before that," Kellogg was saying. "And some non-Company
people have gotten hold of it, and so had Interworld News. Why, even some
of my people are talking about ecological side-effects. You know what will
happen when a story like that gets back to Terra. The conservation
fanatics will get hold of it, and the Company'll be criticized."

That would hurt Leonard. He identified himself with the Company. It was
something bigger and more powerful than he was, like God.

Victor Grego identified the Company with himself. It was something big and
powerful, like a vehicle, and he was at the controls.

"Leonard, a little criticism won't hurt the Company," he said. "Not where
it matters, on the dividends. I'm afraid you're too sensitive to
criticism. Where did Emmert get this story anyhow? From your people?"

"No, absolutely not, Victor. That's what worries him. It was this man
Rainsford who started it."

"Rainsford?"

"Dr. Bennett Rainsford, the naturalist. Institute of Zeno-Sciences. I
never trusted any of those people; they always poke their noses into
things, and the Institute always reports their findings to the Colonial
Office."

"I know who you mean now; little fellow with red whiskers, always looks as
though he'd been sleeping in his clothes. Why, of course the Zeno-Sciences
people poke their noses into things, and of course they report their
findings to the government." He was beginning to lose patience. "I don't
see what all this is about, Leonard. This man Rainsford just made a
routine observation of meteorological effects. I suggest you have your
meteorologists check it, and if it's correct pass it on to the news
services along with your other scientific findings."

"Nick Emmert thinks Rainsford is a Federation undercover agent."

That made him laugh. Of course there were undercover agents on
Zarathustra, hundreds of them. The Company had people here checking on
him; he knew and accepted that. So did the big stockholders, like
Interstellar Explorations and the Banking Cartel and Terra Baldur-Marduk
Spacelines. Nick Emmert had his corps of spies and stool pigeons, and the
Terran Federation had people here watching both him and Emmert. Rainsford
could be a Federation agent--a roving naturalist would have a wonderful
cover occupation. But this Big Blackwater business was so utterly silly.
Nick Emmert had too much graft on his conscience; it was too bad that
overloaded consciences couldn't blow fuses.

"Suppose he is, Leonard. What could he report on us? We are a chartered
company, and we have an excellent legal department, which keeps us safely
inside our charter. It is a very liberal charter, too. This is a Class-III
uninhabited planet; the Company owns the whole thing outright. We can do
anything we want as long as we don't violate colonial law or the
Federation Constitution. As long as we don't do that, Nick Emmert hasn't
anything to worry about. Now forget this whole damned business, Leonard!"
He was beginning to speak sharply, and Kellogg was looking hurt. "I know
you were concerned about injurious reports getting back to Terra, and that
was quite commendable, but...."

By the time he got through, Kellogg was happy again. Victor blanked the
screen, leaned back in his chair and began laughing. In a moment, the
screen buzzed again. When he snapped it on, his screen-girl said:

"Mr. Henry Stenson's on, Mr. Grego."

"Well, put him on." He caught himself just before adding that it would be
a welcome change to talk to somebody with sense.

The face that appeared was elderly and thin; the mouth was tight, and
there were squint-wrinkles at the corners of the eyes.

"Well, Mr. Stenson. Good of you to call. How are you?"

"Very well, thank you. And you?" When he also admitted to good health, the
caller continued: "How is the globe running? Still in synchronization?"

Victor looked across the office at his most prized possession, the big
globe of Zarathustra that Henry Stenson had built for him, supported six
feet from the floor on its own contragravity unit, spotlighted in orange
to represent the KO sun, its two satellites circling about it as it
revolved slowly.

"The globe itself is keeping perfect time, and Darius is all right, Xerxes
is a few seconds of longitude ahead of true position."

"That's dreadful, Mr. Grego!" Stenson was deeply shocked. "I must adjust
that the first thing tomorrow. I should have called to check on it long
ago, but you know how it is. So many things to do, and so little time."

"I find the same trouble myself, Mr. Stenson." They chatted for a while,
and then Stenson apologized for taking up so much of Mr. Grego's valuable
time. What he meant was that his own time, just as valuable to him, was
wasting. After the screen blanked, Grego sat looking at it for a moment,
wishing he had a hundred men like Henry Stenson in his own organization.
Just men with Stenson's brains and character; wishing for a hundred
instrument makers with Stenson's skills would have been unreasonable, even
for wishing. There was only one Henry Stenson, just as there had been only
one Antonio Stradivari. Why a man like that worked in a little shop on a
frontier planet like Zarathustra....

Then he looked, pridefully, at the globe. Alpha Continent had moved slowly
to the right, with the little speck that represented Mallorysport
twinkling in the orange light. Darius, the inner moon, where the
Terra-Baldur-Marduk Spacelines had their leased terminal, was almost
directly over it, and the other moon, Xerxes, was edging into sight.
Xerxes was the one thing about Zarathustra that the Company didn't own;
the Terran Federation had retained that as a naval base. It was the one
reminder that there was something bigger and more powerful than the
Company.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerd van Riebeek saw Ruth Ortheris leave the escalator, step aside and
stand looking around the cocktail lounge. He set his glass, with its inch
of tepid highball, on the bar; when her eyes shifted in his direction, he
waved to her, saw her brighten and wave back and then went to meet her.
She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, dodged when he reached for her and
took his arm.

"Drink before we eat?" he asked.

"Oh, Lord, yes! I've just about had it for today."

He guided her toward one of the bartending machines, inserted his credit
key, and put a four-portion jug under the spout, dialing the cocktail they
always had when they drank together. As he did, he noticed what she was
wearing: short black jacket, lavender neckerchief, light gray skirt. Not
her usual vacation get-up.

"School department drag you back?" he asked as the jug filled.

"Juvenile court." She got a couple of glasses from the shelf under the
machine as he picked up the jug. "A fifteen-year-old burglar."

They found a table at the rear of the room, out of the worst of the
cocktail-hour uproar. As soon as he filled her glass, she drank half of
it, then lit a cigarette.

"Junktown?" he asked.

She nodded. "Only twenty-five years since this planet was discovered, and
we have slums already. I was over there most of the afternoon, with a pair
of city police." She didn't seem to want to talk about it. "What were you
doing today?"

"Ruth, you ought to ask Doc Mallin to drop in on Leonard Kellogg sometime,
and give him an unobstusive going over."

"You haven't been having trouble with him again?" she asked anxiously.

He made a face, and then tasted his drink. "It's trouble just being around
that character. Ruth, to use one of those expressions your profession
deplores, Len Kellogg is just plain nuts!" He drank some more of his
cocktail and helped himself to one of her cigarettes. "Here," he
continued, after lighting it. "A couple of days ago, he told me he'd been
getting inquiries about this plague of land-prawns they're having over on
Beta. He wanted me to set up a research project to find out why and what
to do about it."

"Well?"

"I did. I made two screen calls, and then I wrote a report and sent it up
to him. That was where I jerked my trigger; I ought to have taken a couple
of weeks and made a real production out of it."

"What did you tell him?"

"The facts. The limiting factor on land-prawn increase is the weather. The
eggs hatch underground and the immature prawns dig their way out in the
spring. If there's been a lot of rain, most of them drown in their holes
or as soon as they emerge. According to growth rings on trees, last spring
was the driest in the Beta Piedmont in centuries, so most of them
survived, and as they're parthenogenetic females, they all laid eggs. This
spring, it was even drier, so now they have land prawns all over central
Beta. And I don't know that anything can be done about them."

"Well, did he think you were just guessing?"

He shook his head in exasperation. "I don't know what he thinks. You're
the psychologist, you try to figure it. I sent him that report yesterday
morning. He seemed quite satisfied with it at the time. Today, just after
noon, he sent for me and told me it wouldn't do at all. Tried to insist
that the rainfall on Beta had been normal. That was silly; I referred him
to his meteorologists and climatologists, where I'd gotten my information.
He complained that the news services were after him for an explanation. I
told him I'd given him the only explanation there was. He said he simply
couldn't use it. There had to be some other explanation."

"If you don't like the facts, you ignore them, and if you need facts,
dream up some you do like," she said. "That's typical rejection of
reality. Not psychotic, not even psychoneurotic. But certainly not sane."
She had finished her first drink and was sipping slowly at her second.
"You know, this is interesting. Does he have some theory that would
disqualify yours?"

"Not that I know of. I got the impression that he just didn't want the
subject of rainfall on Beta discussed at all."

"That is odd. Has anything else peculiar been happening over on Beta
lately?"

"No. Not that I know of," he repeated. "Of course, that swamp-drainage
project over there was what caused the dry weather, last year and this
year, but I don't see...." His own glass was empty, and when he tilted the
jug over it, a few drops trickled out. He looked at his watch. "Think we
could have another cocktail before dinner?" he asked.



II


Jack Holloway landed the manipulator in front of the cluster of prefab
huts. For a moment he sat still, realizing that he was tired, and then he
climbed down from the control cabin and crossed the open grass to the door
of the main living hut, opening it and reaching in to turn on the lights.
Then he hesitated, looking up at Darius.

There was a wide ring around it, and he remembered noticing the wisps of
cirrus clouds gathering overhead through the afternoon. Maybe it would
rain tonight. This dry weather couldn't last forever. He'd been letting
the manipulator stand out overnight lately. He decided to put it in the
hangar. He went and opened the door of the vehicle shed, got back onto the
machine and floated it inside. When he came back to the living hut, he saw
that he had left the door wide open.

"Damn fool!" he rebuked himself. "Place could be crawling with prawns by
now."

He looked quickly around the living room--under the big combination desk
and library table, under the gunrack, under the chairs, back of the
communication screen and the viewscreen, beyond the metal cabinet of the
microfilm library--and saw nothing. Then he hung up his hat, took off his
pistol and laid it on the table, and went back to the bathroom to wash his
hands.

As soon as he put on the light, something inside the shower stall said,
"_Yeeeek!_" in a startled voice.

He turned quickly to see two wide eyes staring up at him out of a ball of
golden fur. Whatever it was, it had a round head and big ears and a
vaguely humanoid face with a little snub nose. It was sitting on its
haunches, and in that position it was about a foot high. It had two tiny
hands with opposing thumbs. He squatted to have a better look at it.

"Hello there, little fellow," he greeted it. "I never saw anything like
you before. What are you anyhow?"

The small creature looked at him seriously and said, "Yeek," in a timid
voice.

"Why, sure; you're a Little Fuzzy, that's what you are."

He moved closer, careful to make no alarmingly sudden movements, and kept
on talking to it.

"Bet you slipped in while I left the door open. Well, if a Little Fuzzy
finds a door open, I'd like to know why he shouldn't come in and look
around."

He touched it gently. It started to draw back, then reached out a little
hand and felt the material of his shirt-sleeve. He stroked it, and told it
that it had the softest, silkiest fur ever. Then he took it on his lap. It
yeeked in pleasure, and stretched an arm up around his neck.

"Why, sure; we're going to be good friends, aren't we? Would you like
something to eat? Well, suppose you and I go see what we can find."

He put one hand under it, to support it like a baby--at least, he seemed
to recall having seen babies supported in that way; babies were things he
didn't fool with if he could help it--and straightened. It weighed between
fifteen and twenty pounds. At first, it struggled in panic, then quieted
and seemed to enjoy being carried. In the living room he sat down in his
favorite armchair, under a standing lamp, and examined his new
acquaintance.

It was a mammal--there was a fairly large mammalian class on
Zarathustra--but beyond that he was stumped. It wasn't a primate, in the
Terran sense. It wasn't like anything Terran, or anything else on
Zarathustra. Being a biped put it in a class by itself for this planet. It
was just a Little Fuzzy, and that was the best he could do.

That sort of nomenclature was the best anybody could do on a Class-III
planet. On a Class-IV planet, say Loki, or Shesha, or Thor, naming animals
was a cinch. You pointed to something and asked a native, and he'd gargle
a mouthful of syllables at you, which might only mean, "Whaddaya wanna
know for?" and you took it down in phonetic alphabet and the whatzit had a
name. But on Zarathustra, there were no natives to ask. So this was a
Little Fuzzy.

"What would you like to eat, Little Fuzzy?" he asked. "Open your mouth,
and let Pappy Jack see what you have to chew with."

Little Fuzzy's dental equipment, allowing for the fact that his jaw was
rounder, was very much like his own.

"You're probably omnivorous. How would you like some nice Terran
Federation Space Forces Emergency Ration, Extraterrestrial, Type Three?"
he asked.

Little Fuzzy made what sounded like an expression of willingness to try
it. It would be safe enough; Extee Three had been fed to a number of
Zarathustran mammals without ill effects. He carried Little Fuzzy out into
the kitchen and put him on the floor, then got out a tin of the field
ration and opened it, breaking off a small piece and handing it down.
Little Fuzzy took the piece of golden-brown cake, sniffed at it, gave a
delighted yeek and crammed the whole piece in his mouth.

"You never had to live on that stuff and nothing else for a month, that's
for sure!"

He broke the cake in half and broke one half into manageable pieces and
put it down on a saucer. Maybe Little Fuzzy would want a drink, too. He
started to fill a pan with water, as he would for a dog, then looked at
his visitor sitting on his haunches eating with both hands and changed his
mind. He rinsed a plastic cup cap from an empty whisky bottle and put it
down beside a deep bowl of water. Little Fuzzy was thirsty, and he didn't
have to be shown what the cup was for.

It was too late to get himself anything elaborate; he found some leftovers
in the refrigerator and combined them into a stew. While it was heating,
he sat down at the kitchen table and lit his pipe. The spurt of flame from
the lighter opened Little Fuzzy's eyes, but what really awed him was Pappy
Jack blowing smoke. He sat watching this phenomenon, until, a few minutes
later, the stew was hot and the pipe was laid aside; then Little Fuzzy
went back to nibbling Extee Three.

Suddenly he gave a yeek of petulance and scampered into the living room.
In a moment, he was back with something elongated and metallic which he
laid on the floor beside him.

"What have you got there, Little Fuzzy? Let Pappy Jack see?"

Then he recognized it as his own one-inch wood chisel. He remembered
leaving it in the outside shed after doing some work about a week ago, and
not being able to find it when he had gone to look for it. That had
worried him; people who got absent-minded about equipment didn't last long
in the wilderness. After he finished eating and took the dishes to the
sink, he went over and squatted beside his new friend.

"Let Pappy Jack look at it, Little Fuzzy," he said. "Oh, I'm not going to
take it away from you. I just want to see it."

The edge was dulled and nicked; it had been used for a lot of things wood
chisels oughtn't to be used for. Digging, and prying, and most likely, it
had been used as a weapon. It was a handy-sized, all-purpose tool for a
Little Fuzzy. He laid it on the floor where he had gotten it and started
washing the dishes.

Little Fuzzy watched him with interest for a while, and then he began
investigating the kitchen. Some of the things he wanted to investigate had
to be taken away from him; at first that angered him, but he soon learned
that there were things he wasn't supposed to have. Eventually, the dishes
got washed.

There were more things to investigate in the living room. One of them was
the wastebasket. He found that it could be dumped, and promptly dumped it,
pulling out everything that hadn't fallen out. He bit a corner off a sheet
of paper, chewed on it and spat it out in disgust. Then he found that
crumpled paper could be flattened out and so he flattened a few sheets,
and then discovered that it could also be folded. Then he got himself
gleefully tangled in a snarl of wornout recording tape. Finally he lost
interest and started away. Jack caught him and brought him back.

"No, Little Fuzzy," he said. "You do not dump wastebaskets and then walk
away from them. You put things back in." He touched the container and
said, slowly and distinctly, "Waste ... basket." Then he righted it, doing
it as Little Fuzzy would have to, and picked up a piece of paper, tossing
it in from Little Fuzzy's shoulder height. Then he handed Little Fuzzy a
wad of paper and repeated, "Waste ... basket."

Little Fuzzy looked at him and said something that sounded as though it
might be: "What's the matter with you, Pappy; you crazy or something?"
After a couple more tries, however, he got it, and began throwing things
in. In a few minutes, he had everything back in except a brightly colored
plastic cartridge box and a wide-mouthed bottle with a screw cap. He held
these up and said, "Yeek?"

"Yes, you can have them. Here; let Pappy Jack show you something."

He showed Little Fuzzy how the box could be opened and shut. Then, holding
it where Little Fuzzy could watch, he unscrewed the cap and then screwed
it on again.

"There, now. You try it."

Little Fuzzy looked up inquiringly, then took the bottle, sitting down and
holding it between his knees. Unfortunately, he tried twisting it the
wrong way and only screwed the cap on tighter. He yeeked plaintively.

"No, go ahead. You can do it."

Little Fuzzy looked at the bottle again. Then he tried twisting the cap
the other way, and it loosened. He gave a yeek that couldn't possibly be
anything but "Eureka!" and promptly took it off, holding it up. After
being commended, he examined both the bottle and the cap, feeling the
threads, and then screwed the cap back on again.

"You know, you're a smart Little Fuzzy." It took a few seconds to realize
just how smart. Little Fuzzy had wondered why you twisted the cap one way
to take it off and the other way to put it on, and he had found out. For
pure reasoning ability, that topped anything in the way of animal
intelligence he'd ever seen. "I'm going to tell Ben Rainsford about you."

Going to the communication screen, he punched out the wave-length
combination of the naturalist's camp, seventy miles down Snake River from
the mouth of Cold Creek. Rainsford's screen must have been on automatic;
it lit as soon as he was through punching. There was a card set up in
front of it, lettered: AWAY ON TRIP, BACK THE FIFTEENTH. RECORDER ON.

"Ben, Jack Holloway," he said. "I just ran into something interesting." He
explained briefly what it was. "I hope he stays around till you get back.
He's totally unlike anything I've ever seen on this planet."

Little Fuzzy was disappointed when Jack turned off the screen; that had
been interesting. He picked him up and carried him over to the armchair,
taking him on his lap.

"Now," he said, reaching for the control panel of the viewscreen. "Watch
this; we're going to see something nice."

When he put on the screen, at random, he got a view, from close up, of the
great fires that were raging where the Company people were burning off the
dead forests on what used to be Big Blackwater Swamp. Little Fuzzy cried
out in alarm, flung his arms around Pappy Jack's neck and buried his face
in the bosom of his shirt. Well, forest fires started from lightning
sometimes, and they'd be bad things for a Little Fuzzy. He worked the
selector and got another pickup, this time on the top of Company House in
Mallorysport, three time zones west, with the city spread out below and
the sunset blazing in the west. Little Fuzzy stared at it in wonder. It
was pretty impressive for a little fellow who'd spent all his life in the
big woods.

So was the spaceport, and a lot of other things he saw, though a view of
the planet as a whole from Darius puzzled him considerably. Then, in the
middle of a symphony orchestra concert from Mallorysport Opera House, he
wriggled loose, dropped to the floor and caught up his wood chisel,
swinging it back over his shoulder like a two-handed sword.

"What the devil? Oh-oh!"

A land-prawn, which must have gotten in while the door was open, was
crossing the living room. Little Fuzzy ran after and past it, pivoted and
brought the corner of the chisel edge down on the prawn's neck, neatly
beheading it. He looked at his victim for a moment, then slid the chisel
under it and flopped it over on its back, slapping it twice with the flat
and cracking the undershell. The he began pulling the dead prawn apart,
tearing out pieces of meat and eating them delicately. After disposing of
the larger chunks, he used the chisel to chop off one of the prawn's
mandibles to use as a pick to get at the less accessible morsels. When he
had finished, he licked his fingers clean and started back to the
armchair.

"No." Jack pointed at the prawn shell. "Wastebasket."

"Yeek?"

"Wastebasket."

Little Fuzzy gathered up the bits of shell, putting them where they
belonged. Then he came back and climbed up on Pappy Jack's lap, and looked
at things in the screen until he fell asleep.

Jack lifted him carefully and put him down on the warm chair seat without
wakening him, then went to the kitchen, poured himself a drink and brought
it in to the big table, where he lit his pipe and began writing up his
diary for the day. After a while, Little Fuzzy woke, found that the lap he
had gone to sleep on had vanished, and yeeked disconsolately.

A folded blanket in one corner of the bedroom made a satisfactory bed,
once Little Fuzzy had assured himself that there were no bugs in it. He
brought in his bottle and his plastic box and put them on the floor beside
it. Then he ran to the front door in the living room and yeeked to be let
out. Going about twenty feet from the house, he used the chisel to dig a
small hole, and after it had served its purpose he filled it in carefully
and came running back.

Well, maybe Fuzzies were naturally gregarious, and were
homemakers--den-holes, or nests, or something like that. Nobody wants
messes made in the house, and when the young ones did it, their parents
would bang them around to teach them better manners. This was Little
Fuzzy's home now; he knew how he ought to behave in it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning at daylight, he was up on the bed, trying to dig Pappy
Jack out from under the blankets. Besides being a most efficient
land-prawn eradicator, he made a first rate alarm clock. But best of all,
he was Pappy Jack's Little Fuzzy. He wanted out; this time Jack took his
movie camera and got the whole operation on film. One thing, there'd have
to be a little door, with a spring to hold it shut, that little Fuzzy
could operate himself. That was designed during breakfast. It only took a
couple of hours to make and install it; Little Fuzzy got the idea as soon
as he saw it, and figured out how to work it for himself.

Jack went back to the workshop, built a fire on the hand forge and forged
a pointed and rather broad blade, four inches long, on the end of a foot
of quarter-inch round tool-steel. It was too point-heavy when finished, so
he welded a knob on the other end to balance it. Little Fuzzy knew what
that was for right away; running outside, he dug a couple of practice
holes with it, and then began casting about in the grass for land-prawns.

Jack followed him with the camera and got movies of a couple of prawn
killings, accomplished with smooth, by-the-numbers precision. Little Fuzzy
hadn't learned that chop-clap-clap routine in the week since he had found
the wood chisel.

Going into the shed, he hunted for something without more than a general
idea of what it would look like, and found it where Little Fuzzy had
discarded it when he found the chisel. It was a stock of hardwood a foot
long, rubbed down and polished smooth, apparently with sandstone. There
was a paddle at one end, with enough of an edge to behead a prawn, and the
other end had been worked to a point. He took it into the living hut and
sat down at the desk to examine it with a magnifying glass. Bits of soil
embedded in the sharp end--that had been used as a pick. The paddle end
had been used as a shovel, beheader and shell-cracker. Little Fuzzy had
known exactly what he wanted when he'd started making that thing, he'd
kept on until it was as perfect as possible, and had stopped short of
spoiling it by overrefinement.

Finally, Jack put it away in the top drawer of the desk. He was thinking
about what to get for lunch when Little Fuzzy burst into the living room,
clutching his new weapon and yeeking excitedly.

"What's the matter, kid? You got troubles?" He rose and went to the
gunrack, picking down a rifle and checking the chamber. "Show Pappy Jack
what it is."

Little Fuzzy followed him to the big door for human-type people, ready to
bolt back inside if necessary.

The trouble was a harpy--a thing about the size and general design of a
Terran Jurassic pterodactyl, big enough to take a Little Fuzzy at one
mouthful. It must have made one swoop at him already, and was circling
back for another. It ran into a 6-mm rifle bullet, went into a backward
loop and dropped like a stone.

Little Fuzzy made a very surprised remark, looked at the dead harpy for a
moment and then spotted the ejected empty cartridge. He grabbed it and
held it up, asking if he could have it. When told that he could, he ran
back to the bedroom with it. When he returned, Pappy Jack picked him up
and carried him to the hangar and up into the control cabin of the
manipulator.

The throbbing of the contragravity-field generator and the sense of rising
worried him at first, but after they had picked up the harpy with the
grapples and risen to five hundred feet he began to enjoy the ride. They
dropped the harpy a couple of miles up what the latest maps were
designating as Holloway's Run, and then made a wide circle back over the
mountains. Little Fuzzy thought it was fun.

After lunch, Little Fuzzy had a nap on Pappy Jack's bed. Jack took the
manipulator up to the diggings, put off a couple more shots, uncovered
more flint and found another sunstone. It wasn't often that he found
stones on two successive days. When he returned to the camp, Little Fuzzy
was picking another land-prawn apart in front of the living hut.

After dinner--Little Fuzzy liked cooked food, too, if it wasn't too
hot--they went into the living room. He remembered having seen a bolt and
nut in the desk drawer when he had been putting the wooden prawn-killer
away, and he got it out, showing it to Little Fuzzy. Little Fuzzy studied
it for a moment, then ran into the bedroom and came back with his
screw-top bottle. He took the top off, put it on again and then screwed
the nut off the bolt, holding it up.

"See, Pappy?" Or yeeks to that effect. "Nothing to it."

Then he unscrewed the bottle top, dropped the bolt inside after replacing
the nut and screwed the cap on again.

"Yeek," he said, with considerable self-satisfaction.

He had a right to be satisfied with himself. What he'd been doing had been
generalizing. Bottle tops and nuts belonged to the general class of
things-that-screwed-onto-things. To take them off, you turned left; to put
them on again, you turned right, after making sure that the threads
engaged. And since he could conceive of right- and left-handedness, that
might mean that he could think of properties apart from objects, and that
was forming abstract ideas. Maybe that was going a little far, but....

"You know, Pappy Jack's got himself a mighty smart Little Fuzzy. Are you a
grown-up Little Fuzzy, or are you just a baby Little Fuzzy? Shucks, I'll
bet you're Professor Doctor Fuzzy."

He wondered what to give the professor, if that was what he was, to work
on next, and he doubted the wisdom of teaching him too much about taking
things apart, just at present. Sometime he might come home and find
something important taken apart, or, worse, taken apart and put together
incorrectly. Finally, he went to a closet, rummaging in it until he found
a tin canister. By the time he returned, Little Fuzzy had gotten up on the
chair, found his pipe in the ashtray and was puffing on it and coughing.

"Hey, I don't think that's good for you!"

He recovered the pipe, wiped the stem on his shirt-sleeve and put it in
his mouth, then placed the canister on the floor, and put Little Fuzzy on
the floor beside it. There were about ten pounds of stones in it. When he
had first settled here, he had made a collection of the local minerals,
and, after learning what he'd wanted to, he had thrown them out, all but
twenty or thirty of the prettiest specimens. He was glad, now, that he had
kept these.

Little Fuzzy looked the can over, decided that the lid was a member of
the class of things-that-screwed-onto-things and got it off. The inside
of the lid was mirror-shiny, and it took him a little thought to discover
that what he saw in it was only himself. He yeeked about that, and looked
into the can. This, he decided, belonged to the class of
things-that-can-be-dumped, like wastebaskets, so he dumped it on the
floor. Then he began examining the stones and sorting them by color.

Except for an interest in colorful views on the screen, this was the first
real evidence that Fuzzies possessed color perception. He proceeded to
give further and more impressive proof, laying out the stones by shade, in
correct spectral order, from a lump of amethystlike quartz to a dark red
stone. Well, maybe he'd seen rainbows. Maybe he'd lived near a big misty
waterfall, where there was always a rainbow when the sun was shining. Or
maybe that was just his natural way of seeing colors.

Then, when he saw what he had to work with, he began making arrangements
with them, laying them out in odd circular and spiral patterns. Each time
he finished a pattern, he would yeek happily to call attention to it, sit
and look at it for a while, and then take it apart and start a new one.
Little Fuzzy was capable of artistic gratification too. He made useless
things, just for the pleasure of making and looking at them.

Finally, he put the stones back into the tin, put the lid on and rolled it
into the bedroom, righting it beside his bed along with his other
treasures. The new weapon he laid on the blanket beside him when he went
to bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning, Jack broke up a whole cake of Extee Three and put it
down, filled the bowl with water, and, after making sure he had left
nothing lying around that Little Fuzzy could damage or on which he might
hurt himself, took the manipulator up to the diggings. He worked all
morning, cracking nearly a ton and a half of flint, and found nothing.
Then he set off a string of shots, brought down an avalanche of sandstone
and exposed more flint, and sat down under a pool-ball tree to eat his
lunch.

Half an hour after he went back to work, he found the fossil of some
jellyfish that hadn't eaten the right things in the right combinations,
but a little later, he found four nodules, one after another, and two of
them were sunstones; four or five chunks later, he found a third. Why,
this must be the Dying Place of the Jellyfish! By late afternoon, when he
had cleaned up all his loose flint, he had nine, including one deep red
monster an inch in diameter. There must have been some connection current
in the ancient ocean that had swirled them all into this one place. He
considered setting off some more shots, decided that it was too late and
returned to camp.

"Little Fuzzy!" he called, opening the living-room door. "Where are you,
Little Fuzzy? Pappy Jack's rich; we're going to celebrate!"

Silence. He called again; still no reply or scamper of feet. Probably
cleaned up all the prawns around the camp and went hunting farther out
into the woods, thought Jack. Unbuckling his gun and dropping it onto the
table, he went out to the kitchen. Most of the Extee Three was gone. In
the bedroom, he found that Little Fuzzy had dumped the stones out of the
biscuit tin and made an arrangement, and laid the wood chisel in a neat
diagonal across the blanket.

After getting dinner assembled and in the oven, he went out and called for
a while, then mixed a highball and took it into the living room, sitting
down with it to go over his day's findings. Rather incredulously, he
realized that he had cracked out at least seventy-five thousand sols'
worth of stones today. He put them into the bag and sat sipping the
highball and thinking pleasant thoughts until the bell on the stove warned
him that dinner was ready.

He ate alone--after all the years he had been doing that contentedly, it
had suddenly become intolerable--and in the evening he dialed through his
micro-film library, finding only books he had read and reread a dozen
times, or books he kept for reference. Several times he thought he heard
the little door open, but each time he was mistaken. Finally he went to
bed.

As soon as he woke, he looked across at the folded blanket, but the wood
chisel was still lying athwart it. He put down more Extee Three and
changed the water in the bowl before leaving for the diggings. That day he
found three more sunstones, and put them in the bag mechanically and
without pleasure. He quit work early and spent over an hour spiraling
around the camp, but saw nothing. The Extee Three in the kitchen was
untouched.

Maybe the little fellow ran into something too big for him, even with his
fine new weapon--a hobthrush, or a bush-goblin, or another harpy. Or maybe
he'd just gotten tired staying in one place, and had moved on.

No; he'd liked it here. He'd had fun, and been happy. He shook his head
sadly. Once he, too, had lived in a pleasant place, where he'd had fun,
and could have been happy if he hadn't thought there was something he'd
had to do. So he had gone away, leaving grieved people behind him. Maybe
that was how it was with Little Fuzzy. Maybe he didn't realize how much of
a place he had made for himself here, or how empty he was leaving it.

He started for the kitchen to get a drink, and checked himself. Take a
drink because you pity yourself, and then the drink pities you and has a
drink, and then two good drinks get together and that calls for drinks all
around. No; he'd have one drink, maybe a little bigger than usual, before
he went to bed.



III


He started awake, rubbed his eyes and looked at the clock. Past twenty-two
hundred; now it really was time for a drink, and then to bed. He rose
stiffly and went out to the kitchen, pouring the whisky and bringing it in
to the table desk, where he sat down and got out his diary. He was almost
finished with the day's entry when the little door behind him opened and a
small voice said, "Yeeek." He turned quickly.

"Little Fuzzy?"

The small sound was repeated, impatiently. Little Fuzzy was holding the
door open, and there was an answer from outside. Then another Fuzzy came
in, and another; four of them, one carrying a tiny, squirming ball of
white fur in her arms. They all had prawn-killers like the one in the
drawer, and they stopped just inside the room and gaped about them in
bewilderment. Then, laying down his weapon, Little Fuzzy ran to him;
stooping from the chair, he caught him and then sat down on the floor with
him.

"So that's why you ran off and worried Pappy Jack? You wanted your family
here, too!"

The others piled the things they were carrying with Little Fuzzy's steel
weapon and approached hesitantly. He talked to them, and so did Little
Fuzzy--at least it sounded like that--and finally one came over and
fingered his shirt, and then reached up and pulled his mustache. Soon all
of them were climbing onto him, even the female with the baby. It was
small enough to sit on his palm, but in a minute it had climbed to his
shoulder, and then it was sitting on his head.

"You people want dinner?" he asked.

Little Fuzzy yeeked emphatically; that was a word he recognized. He took
them all into the kitchen and tried them on cold roast veldbeest and
yummiyams and fried pool-ball fruit; while they were eating from a couple
of big pans, he went back to the living room to examine the things they
had brought with them. Two of the prawn-killers were wood, like the one
Little Fuzzy had discarded in the shed. A third was of horn, beautifully
polished, and the fourth looked as though it had been made from the
shoulder bone of something like a zebralope. Then there was a small _coup
de poing_ ax, rather low paleolithic, and a chipped implement of flint the
shape of a slice of orange and about five inches along the straight edge.
For a hand the size of his own, he would have called it a scraper. He
puzzled over it for a while, noticed that the edge was serrated, and
decided that it was a saw. And there were three very good flake knives,
and some shells, evidently drinking vessels.

Mamma Fuzzy came in while he was finishing the examination. She seemed
suspicious, until she saw that none of the family property had been taken
or damaged. Baby Fuzzy was clinging to her fur with one hand and holding a
slice of pool-ball fruit, on which he was munching, with the other. He
crammed what was left of the fruit into his mouth, climbed up on Jack and
sat down on his head again. Have to do something to break him of that. One
of these days, he'd be getting too big for it.

In a few minutes, the rest of the family came in, chasing and pummeling
each other and yeeking happily. Mamma jumped off his lap and joined the
free-for-all, and then Baby took off from his head and landed on Mamma's
back. And he thought he'd lost his Little Fuzzy, and, gosh, here he had
five Fuzzies and a Baby Fuzzy. When they were tired romping, he made beds
for them in the living room, and brought out Little Fuzzy's bedding and
his treasures. One Little Fuzzy in the bedroom was just fine; five and a
Baby Fuzzy were a little too much of a good thing.

They were swarming over the bed, Baby and all, to waken him the next
morning.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning he made a steel chopper-digger for each of them, and half
a dozen extras for replacements in case more Fuzzies showed up. He also
made a miniature ax with a hardwood handle, a handsaw out of a piece of
broken power-saw blade and half a dozen little knives forged in one piece
from quarter-inch coil-spring material. He had less trouble trading the
Fuzzies' own things away from them than he had expected. They had a very
keen property sense, but they knew a good deal when one was offered. He
put the wooden and horn and bone and stone artifacts away in the desk
drawer. Start of the Holloway Collection of Zarathustran Fuzzy Weapons and
Implements. Maybe he'd will it to the Federation Institute of
Xeno-Sciences.

Of course, the family had to try out the new chopper-diggers on
land-prawns, and he followed them around with the movie camera. They
killed a dozen and a half that morning, and there was very little interest
in lunch, though they did sit around nibbling, just to be doing what he
was doing. As soon as they finished, they all went in for a nap on his
bed. He spent the afternoon pottering about camp doing odd jobs that he
had been postponing for months. The Fuzzies all emerged in the late
afternoon for a romp in the grass outside.

He was in the kitchen, getting dinner, when they all came pelting in
through the little door into the living room, making an excited outcry.
Little Fuzzy and one of the other males came into the kitchen. Little
Fuzzy squatted, put one hand on his lower jaw, with thumb and little
finger extended, and the other on his forehead, first finger upright. Then
he thrust out his right arm stiffly and made a barking noise of a sort he
had never made before. He had to do it a second time before Jack got it.

There was a large and unpleasant carnivore, called a damnthing--another
example of zoological nomenclature on uninhabited planets--which had a
single horn on its forehead and one on either side of the lower jaw. It
was something for Fuzzies, and even for human-type people, to get excited
about. He laid down the paring knife and the yummiyam he had been peeling,
wiped his hands and went into the living room, taking a quick nose count
and satisfying himself that none of the family were missing as he crossed
to the gunrack.

This time, instead of the 6-mm he had used on the harpy, he lifted down a
big 12.7 double express, making sure that it was loaded and pocketing a
few spare rounds. Little Fuzzy followed him outside, pointing around the
living hut to the left. The rest of the family stayed indoors.

Stepping out about twenty feet, he started around counter-clockwise. There
was no damnthing on the north side, and he was about to go around to the
east side when Little Fuzzy came dashing past him, pointing to the rear.
He whirled, to see the damnthing charging him from behind, head down, and
middle horn lowered. He should have thought of that; damnthings would
double and hunt their hunters.

He lined the sights instinctively and squeezed. The big rifle roared and
banged his shoulder, and the bullet caught the damnthing and hurled all
half-ton of it backward. The second shot caught it just below one of the
fungoid-looking ears, and the beast gave a spasmodic all-over twitch and
was still. He reloaded mechanically, but there was no need for a third
shot. The damnthing was as dead as he would have been except for Little
Fuzzy's warning.

He mentioned that to Little Fuzzy, who was calmly retrieving the empty
cartridges. Then, rubbing his shoulder where the big rifle had pounded
him, he went in and returned the weapon to the rack. He used the
manipulator to carry the damnthing away from the camp and drop it into a
treetop, where it would furnish a welcome if puzzling treat for the
harpies.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was another alarm in the evening after dinner. The family had come in
from their sunset romp and were gathered in the living room, where Little
Fuzzy was demonstrating the principle of things-that-screwed-onto-things
with the wide-mouthed bottle and the bolt and nut, when something huge
began hooting directly overhead. They all froze, looking up at the ceiling,
and then ran over and got under the gunrack. This must be something far
more serious than a damnthing, and what Pappy Jack would do about it would
be nothing short of catastrophic. They were startled to see Pappy Jack
merely go to the door, open it and step outside. After all, none of them
had ever heard a Constabulary aircar klaxon before.

The car settled onto the grass in front of the camp, gave a slight lurch
and went off contragravity. Two men in uniform got out, and in the
moonlight he recognized both of them: Lieutenant George Lunt and his
driver, Ahmed Khadra. He called a greeting to them.

"Anything wrong?" he asked.

"No; just thought we'd drop in and see how you were making out," Lunt told
him. "We don't get up this way often. Haven't had any trouble lately, have
you?"

"Not since the last time." The last time had been a couple of woods
tramps, out-of-work veldbeest herders from the south, who had heard about
the little bag he carried around his neck. All the Constabulary had needed
to do was remove the bodies and write up a report. "Come on in and hang up
your guns awhile. I have something I want to show you."

Little Fuzzy had come out and was pulling at his trouser leg; he stooped
and picked him up, setting him on his shoulder. The rest of the family,
deciding that it must be safe, had come to the door and were looking out.

"Hey! What the devil are those things?" Lunt asked, stopping short halfway
from the car.

"Fuzzies. Mean to tell me you've never seen Fuzzies before?"

"No, I haven't. What are they?"

The two Constabulary men came closer, and Jack stepped back into the
house, shooing the Fuzzies out of the way. Lunt and Khadra stopped inside
the door.

"I just told you. They're Fuzzies. That's all the name I know for them."

A couple of Fuzzies came over and looked up at Lieutenant Lunt; one of
them said, "Yeek?"

"They want to know what you are, so that makes it mutual."

Lunt hesitated for a moment, then took off his belt and holster and hung
it on one of the pegs inside the door, putting his beret over it. Khadra
followed his example promptly. That meant that they considered themselves
temporarily off duty and would accept a drink if one were offered. A Fuzzy
was pulling at Ahmed Khadra's trouser leg and asking to be noticed, and
Mamma Fuzzy was holding Baby up to show to Lunt. Khadra, rather
hesitantly, picked up the Fuzzy who was trying to attract his attention.

"Never saw anything like them before Jack," he said. "Where did they come
from?"

"Ahmed; you don't know anything about those things," Lunt reproved.

"They won't hurt me, Lieutenant; they haven't hurt Jack, have they?" He
sat down on the floor, and a couple more came to him. "Why don't you get
acquainted with them? They're cute."

George Lunt wouldn't let one of his men do anything he was afraid to do;
he sat down on the floor, too, and Mamma brought her baby to him.
Immediately, the baby jumped onto his shoulder and tried to get onto his
head.

"Relax, George," Jack told him, "They're just Fuzzies; they want to make
friends with you."

"I'm always worried about strange life forms," Lunt said. "You've been
around enough to know some of the things that have happened--"

"They are not a strange life form; they are Zarathustran mammals. The same
life form you've had for dinner every day since you came here. Their
biochemistry's identical with ours. Think they'll give you the Polka-Dot
Plague, or something?" He put Little Fuzzy down on the floor with the
others. "We've been exploring this planet for twenty-five years, and
nobody's found anything like that here."

"You said it yourself, Lieutenant," Khadra put in. "Jack's been around
enough to know."

"Well.... They are cute little fellows." Lunt lifted Baby down off his
head and gave him back to Mamma. Little Fuzzy had gotten hold of the chain
of his whistle and was trying to find out what was on the other end. "Bet
they're a lot of company for you."

"You just get acquainted with them. Make yourselves at home; I'll go
rustle up some refreshments."

While he was in the kitchen, filling a soda siphon and getting ice out of
the refrigerator, a police whistle began shrilling in the living room. He
was opening a bottle of whisky when Little Fuzzy came dashing out, blowing
on it, a couple more of the family pursuing him and trying to get it away
from him. He opened a tin of Extee Three for the Fuzzies, as he did,
another whistle in the living room began blowing.

"We have a whole shoebox full of them at the post," Lunt yelled to him
above the din. "We'll just write these two off as expended in service."

"Well, that's real nice of you, George. I want to tell you that the
Fuzzies appreciate that. Ahmed, suppose you do the bartending while I give
the kids their candy."

By the time Khadra had the drinks mixed and he had distributed the Extee
Three to the Fuzzies, Lunt had gotten into the easy chair, and the Fuzzies
were sitting on the floor in front of him, still looking him over
curiously. At least the Extee Three had taken their minds off the whistles
for a while.

"What I want to know, Jack, is where they came from," Lunt said, taking
his drink. "I've been up here for five years, and I never saw anything
like them before."

"I've been here five years longer, and I never saw them before, either. I
think they came down from the north, from the country between the
Cordilleras and the West Coast Range. Outside of an air survey at ten
thousand feet and a few spot landings here and there, none of that country
has been explored. For all anybody knows, it could be full of Fuzzies."

He began with his first encounter with Little Fuzzy, and by the time he
had gotten as far as the wood chisel and the killing of the land-prawn,
Lunt and Khadra were looking at each other in amazement.

"That's it!" Khadra said. "I've found prawn-shells cracked open and the
meat picked out, just the way you describe it. I always wondered what did
that. But they don't all have wood chisels. What do you suppose they used
ordinarily?"

"Ah!" He pulled the drawer open and began getting things out. "Here's the
one Little Fuzzy discarded when he found my chisel. The rest of this stuff
the others brought in when they came."

Lunt and Khadra rose and came over to look at the things. Lunt tried to
argue that the Fuzzies couldn't have made that stuff. He wasn't even able
to convince himself. Having finished their Extee Three, the Fuzzies were
looking expectantly at the viewscreen, and it occurred to him that none of
them except Little Fuzzy had ever seen it on. Then Little Fuzzy jumped up
on the chair Lunt had vacated, reached over to the control-panel and
switched it on. What he got was an empty stretch of moonlit plain to the
south, from a pickup on one of the steel towers the veldbeest herders
used. That wasn't very interesting; he twiddled the selector and finally
got a night soccer game at Mallorysport. That was just fine; he jumped
down and joined the others in front of the screen.

"I've seen Terran monkeys and Freyan Kholphs that liked to watch screens
and could turn them on and work the selector," Lunt said. It sounded like
the token last salvo before the surrender.

"Kholphs are smart," Khadra agreed. "They use tools."

"Do they make tools? Or tools to make tools with, like that saw?" There
was no argument on that. "No. Nobody does that except people like us and
the Fuzzies."

It was the first time he had come right out and said that; the first time
he had even consciously thought it. He realized that he had been convinced
of it all along, though. It startled the constabulary lieutenant and
trooper.

"You mean you think--?" Lunt began.

"They don't talk, and they don't build fires," Ahmed Khadra said, as
though that settled it.

"Ahmed, you know better than that. That talk-and-build-a-fire rule isn't
any scientific test at all."

"It's a legal test." Lunt supported his subordinate.

"It's a rule-of-thumb that was set up so that settlers on new planets
couldn't get away with murdering and enslaving the natives by claiming
they thought they were only hunting and domesticating wild animals," he
said. "Anything that talks and builds a fire is a sapient being, yes.
That's the law. But that doesn't mean that anything that doesn't isn't. I
haven't seen any of this gang building fires, and as I don't want to come
home sometime and find myself burned out, I'm not going to teach them. But
I'm sure they have means of communication among themselves."

"Has Ben Rainsford seen them yet?" Lunt asked.

"Ben's off on a trip somewhere. I called him as soon as Little Fuzzy, over
there, showed up here. He won't be back till Friday."

"Yes, that's right; I did know that." Lunt was still looking dubiously at
the Fuzzies. "I'd like to hear what he thinks about them."

If Ben said they were safe, Lunt would accept that. Ben was an expert, and
Lunt respected expert testimony. Until then, he wasn't sure. He'd probably
order a medical check-up for himself and Khadra the first thing tomorrow,
to make sure they hadn't picked up some kind of bug.



IV


The Fuzzies took the manipulator quite calmly the next morning. That
wasn't any horrible monster, that was just something Pappy Jack took rides
in. He found one rather indifferent sunstone in the morning and two good
ones in the afternoon. He came home early and found the family in the
living room; they had dumped the wastebasket and were putting things back
into it. Another land-prawn seemed to have gotten into the house; its
picked shell was with the other rubbish in the basket. They had dinner
early, and he loaded the lot of them into the airjeep and took them for a
long ride to the south and west.

The following day, he located the flint vein on the other side of the
gorge and spent most of the morning blasting away the sandstone above it.
The next time he went into Mallorysport, he decided, he was going to shop
around for a good power-shovel. He had to blast a channel to keep the
little stream from damming up on him. He didn't get any flint cracked at
all that day. There was another harpy circling around the camp when he got
back; he chased it with the manipulator and shot it down with his pistol.
Harpies probably found Fuzzies as tasty as Fuzzies found land-prawns. The
family were all sitting under the gunrack when he entered the living room.

The next day he cracked flint, and found three more stones. It really
looked as though he had found the Dying Place of the Jellyfish at that. He
knocked off early that afternoon, and when he came in sight of the camp,
he saw an airjeep grounded on the lawn and a small man with a red beard in
a faded Khaki bush-jacket sitting on the bench by the kitchen door,
surrounded by Fuzzies. There was a camera and some other equipment laid up
where the Fuzzies couldn't get at it. Baby Fuzzy, of course, was sitting
on his head. He looked up and waved, and then handed Baby to his mother
and rose to his feet.

"Well, what do you think of them, Ben?" Jack called down, as he grounded
the manipulator.

"My God, don't start me on that now!" Ben Rainsford replied, and then
laughed. "I stopped at the constabulary post on the way home. I thought
George Lunt had turned into the biggest liar in the known galaxy. Then I
went home, and found your call on the recorder, so I came over here."

"Been waiting long?"

The Fuzzies had all abandoned Rainsford and come trooping over as soon as
the manipulator was off contragravity. He climbed down among them, and
they followed him across the grass, catching at his trouser legs and
yeeking happily.

"Not so long." Rainsford looked at his watch. "Good Lord, three and half
hours is all. Well, the time passed quickly. You know, your little fellows
have good ears. They heard you coming a long time before I did."

"Did you see them killing any prawns?"

"I should say! I got a lot of movies of it." He shook his head slowly.
"Jack, this is almost incredible."

"You're staying for dinner, of course?"

"You try and chase me away. I want to hear all about this. Want you to
make a tape about them, if you're willing."

"Glad to. We'll do that after we eat." He sat down on the bench, and the
Fuzzies began climbing upon and beside him. "This is the original, Little
Fuzzy. He brought the rest in a couple of days later. Mamma Fuzzy, and
Baby Fuzzy. And these are Mike and Mitzi. I call this one Ko-Ko, because
of the ceremonious way he beheads land-prawns."

"George says you call them all Fuzzies. Want that for the official
designation?"

"Sure. That's what they are, isn't it?"

"Well, let's call the order Hollowayans," Rainsford said. "Family,
Fuzzies; genus, Fuzzy. Species, Holloway's Fuzzy--_Fuzzy fuzzy holloway_.
How'll that be?"

That would be all right, he supposed. At least, they didn't try to
Latinize things in extraterrestrial zoology any more.

"I suppose our bumper crop of land-prawns is what brought them into this
section?"

"Yes, of course. George was telling me you thought they'd come down from
the north; about the only place they could have come from. This is
probably just the advance guard; we'll be having Fuzzies all over the
place before long. I wonder how fast they breed."

"Not very fast. Three males and two females in this crowd, and only one
young one." He set Mike and Mitzi off his lap and got to his feet. "I'll
go start dinner now. While I'm doing that, you can look at the stuff they
brought in with them."

When he had placed the dinner in the oven and taken a couple of highballs
into the living room, Rainsford was still sitting at the desk, looking at
the artifacts. He accepted his drink and sipped it absently, then raised
his head.

"Jack, this stuff is absolutely amazing," he said.

"It's better than that. It's unique. Only collection of native weapons and
implements on Zarathustra."

Ben Rainsford looked up sharply. "You mean what I think you mean?" he
asked. "Yes; you do." He drank some of his highball, set down the glass
and picked up the polished-horn prawn-killer. "Anything--pardon,
anybody--who does this kind of work is good enough native for me." He
hesitated briefly. "Why, Jack this tape you said you'd make. Can I
transmit a copy to Juan Jimenez? He's chief mammalogist with the Company
science division; we exchange information. And there's another Company man
I'd like to have hear it. Gerd van Riebeek. He's a general
xeno-naturalist, like me, but he's especially interested in animal
evolution."

"Why not? The Fuzzies are a scientific discovery. Discoveries ought to be
reported."

Little Fuzzy, Mike and Mitzi strolled in from the kitchen. Little Fuzzy
jumped up on the armchair and switched on the viewscreen. Fiddling with
the selector, he got the Big Blackwater woods-burning. Mike and Mitzi
shrieked delightedly, like a couple of kids watching a horror show. They
knew, by now, that nothing in the screen could get out and hurt them.

"Would you mind if they came out here and saw the Fuzzies?"

"Why, the Fuzzies would love that. They like company."

Mamma and Baby and Ko-Ko came in, seemed to approve what was on the screen
and sat down to watch it. When the bell on the stove rang, they all got
up, and Ko-Ko jumped onto the chair and snapped the screen off. Ben
Rainsford looked at him for a moment.

"You know, I have married friends with children who have a hell of a time
teaching eight-year-olds to turn off screens when they're through watching
them," he commented.

       *       *       *       *       *

It took an hour, after dinner, to get the whole story, from the first
little yeek in the shower stall, on tape. When he had finished, Ben
Rainsford made a few remarks and shut off the recorder, then looked at his
watch.

"Twenty hundred; it'll be seventeen hundred in Mallorysport," he said. "I
could catch Jimenez at Science Center if I called now. He usually works a
little late."

"Go ahead. Want to show him some Fuzzies?" He moved his pistol and some
other impedimenta off the table and set Little Fuzzy and Mamma Fuzzy and
Baby upon it, then drew up a chair beside it, in range of the
communication screen, and sat down with Mike and Mitzi and Ko-Ko.
Rainsford punched out a wavelength combination. Then he picked up Baby
Fuzzy and set him on his head.

In a moment, the screen flickered and cleared, and a young man looked out
of it, with the momentary upward glance of one who wants to make sure his
public face is on straight. It was a bland, tranquilized, life-adjusted,
group-integrated sort of face--the face turned out in thousands of copies
every year by the educational production lines on Terra.

"Why, Bennett, this is a pleasant surprise," he began. "I never expec--"
Then he choked; at least, he emitted a sound of surprise. "What in the
name of Dai-Butsu are those things on the table in front of you?" he
demanded. "I never saw anything--_And what is that on your head?_"

"Family group of Fuzzies," Rainsford said. "Mature male, mature female,
immature male." He lifted Baby Fuzzy down and put him in Mamma's arms.
"Species _Fuzzy fuzzy holloway zarathustra_. The gentleman on my left is
Jack Holloway, the sunstone operator, who is the original discoverer.
Jack, Juan Jimenez."

They shook their own hands at one another in the ancient Terran-Chinese
gesture that was used on communication screens, and assured each
other--Jimenez rather absently--that it was a pleasure. He couldn't take
his eyes off the Fuzzies.

"Where did they come from?" he wanted to know. "Are you sure they're
indigenous?"

"They're not quite up to spaceships, yet, Dr. Jimenez. Fairly early
Paleolithic, I'd say."

Jimenez thought he was joking, and laughed. The sort of a laugh that could
be turned on and off, like a light. Rainsford assured him that the Fuzzies
were really indigenous.

"We have everything that's known about them on tape," he said. "About an
hour of it. Can you take sixty-speed?" He was making adjustments on the
recorder as he spoke. "All right, set and we'll transmit to you. And can
you get hold of Gerd van Riebeek? I'd like him to hear it too; it's as
much up his alley as anybody's."

When Jimenez was ready, Rainsford pressed the play-off button, and for a
minute the recorder gave a high, wavering squeak. The Fuzzies all looked
startled. Then it ended.

"I think, when you hear this, that you and Gerd will both want to come out
and see these little people. If you can, bring somebody who's a qualified
psychologist, somebody capable of evaluating the Fuzzies' mentation. Jack
wasn't kidding about early Paleolithic. If they're not sapient, they only
miss it by about one atomic diameter."

Jimenez looked almost as startled as the Fuzzies had. "You surely don't
mean that?" He looked from Rainsford to Jack Holloway and back. "Well,
I'll call you back, when we've both heard the tape. You're three time
zones west of us, aren't you? Then we'll try to make it before your
midnight--that'll be twenty-one hundred."

He called back half an hour short of that. This time, it was from the
living room of an apartment instead of an office. There was a portable
record player in the foreground and a low table with snacks and drinks,
and two other people were with him. One was a man of about Jimenez's age
with a good-humored, non-life-adjusted, non-group-integrated and slightly
weather-beaten face. The other was a woman with glossy black hair and a
Mona Lisa-ish smile. The Fuzzies had gotten sleepy, and had been bribed
with Extee Three to stay up a little longer. Immediately, they registered
interest. This was more fun than the viewscreen.

Jimenez introduced his companions as Gerd van Riebeek and Ruth Ortheris.
"Ruth is with Dr. Mallin's section; she's been working with the school
department and the juvenile court. She can probably do as well with your
Fuzzies as a regular xeno-psychologist."

"Well, I have worked with extraterrestrials," the woman said. "I've been
on Loki and Thor and Shesha."

Jack nodded. "Been on the same planets myself. Are you people coming out
here?"

"Oh, yes," van Riebeek said. "We'll be out by noon tomorrow. We may stay a
couple of days, but that won't put you to any trouble; I have a boat
that's big enough for the three of us to camp on. Now, how do we get to
your place?"

Jack told him, and gave map coordinates. Van Riebeek noted them down.

"There's one thing, though, I'm going to have to get firm about. I don't
want to have to speak about it again. These little people are to be
treated with consideration, and not as laboratory animals. You will not
hurt them, or annoy them, or force them to do anything they don't want to
do."

"We understand that. We won't do anything with the Fuzzies without your
approval. Is there anything you'd want us to bring out?"

"Yes. A few things for the camp that I'm short of; I'll pay you for them
when you get here. And about three cases of Extee Three. And some toys.
Dr. Ortheris, you heard the tape, didn't you? Well, just think what you'd
like to have if you were a Fuzzy, and bring it."



V


Victor Grego crushed out his cigarette slowly and deliberately.

"Yes, Leonard," he said patiently. "It's very interesting, and doubtless
an important discovery, but I can't see why you're making such a
production of it. Are you afraid I'll blame you for letting non-Company
people beat you to it? Or do you merely suspect that anything Bennett
Rainsford's mixed up in is necessarily a diabolical plot against the
Company and, by consequence, human civilization?"

Leonard Kellogg looked pained. "What I was about to say, Victor, is that
both Rainsford and this man Holloway seem convinced that these things they
call Fuzzies aren't animals at all. They believe them to be sapient
beings."

"Well, that's--" He bit that off short as the significance of what Kellogg
had just said hit him. "Good God, Leonard! I beg your pardon abjectly; I
don't blame you for taking it seriously. Why, that would make Zarathustra
a Class-IV inhabited planet."

"For which the Company holds a Class-III charter," Kellogg added. "For an
uninhabited planet."

Automatically void if any race of sapient beings were discovered on
Zarathustra.

"You know what will happen if this is true?"

"Well, I should imagine the charter would have to be renegotiated, and now
that the Colonial Office knows what sort of a planet this is, they'll be
anything but generous with the Company...."

"They won't renegotiate anything, Leonard. The Federation government will
simply take the position that the Company has already made an adequate
return on the original investments, and they'll award us what we can show
as in our actual possession--I hope--and throw the rest into the public
domain."

The vast plains on Beta and Delta continents, with their herds of
veldbeest--all open range, and every 'beest that didn't carry a Company
brand a maverick. And all the untapped mineral wealth, and the untilled
arable land; it would take years of litigation even to make the Company's
claim to Big Blackwater stick. And Terra-Baldur-Marduk Spacelines would
lose their monopolistic franchise and get sticky about it in the courts,
and in any case, the Company's import-export monopoly would go out the
airlock. And the squatters rushing in and swamping everything--

"Why, we won't be any better off than the Yggdrasil Company, squatting on
a guano heap on one continent!" he burst out. "Five years from now,
they'll be making more money out of bat dung than we'll be making out of
this whole world!"

And the Company's good friend and substantial stockholder, Nick Emmert,
would be out, too, and a Colonial Governor General would move in, with
regular army troops and a complicated bureaucracy. Elections, and a
representative parliament, and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a grudge
against the Company would be trying to get laws passed--And, of course, a
Native Affairs Commission, with its nose in everything.

"But they couldn't just leave us without any kind of a charter," Kellogg
insisted. Who was he trying to kid--besides himself? "It wouldn't be
fair!" As though that clinched it. "It isn't our fault!"

He forced more patience into his voice. "Leonard, please try to realize
that the Terran Federation government doesn't give one shrill soprano hoot
on Nifflheim whether it's fair or not, or whose fault what is. The
Federation government's been repenting that charter they gave the Company
ever since they found out what they'd chartered away. Why, this planet is
a better world than Terra ever was, even before the Atomic Wars. Now, if
they have a chance to get it back, with improvements, you think they won't
take it? And what will stop them? If those creatures over on Beta
Continent are sapient beings, our charter isn't worth the parchment it's
engrossed on, and that's an end of it." He was silent for a moment. "You
heard that tape Rainsford transmitted to Jimenez. Did either he or
Holloway actually claim, in so many words, that these things really are
sapient beings?"

"Well, no; not in so many words. Holloway consistently alluded to them as
people, but he's just an ignorant old prospector. Rainsford wouldn't come
out and commit himself one way or another, but he left the door wide open
for anybody else to."

"Accepting their account, could these Fuzzies be sapient?"

"Accepting the account, yes," Kellogg said, in distress. "They could be."

They probably were, if Leonard Kellogg couldn't wish the evidence out of
existence.

"Then they'll look sapient to these people of yours who went over to Beta
this morning, and they'll treat it purely as a scientific question and
never consider the legal aspects. Leonard, you'll have to take charge of
the investigation, before they make any reports everybody'll be sorry
for."

Kellogg didn't seem to like that. It would mean having to exercise
authority and getting tough with people, and he hated anything like that.
He nodded very reluctantly.

"Yes. I suppose I will. Let me think about it for a moment, Victor."

One thing about Leonard; you handed him something he couldn't delegate or
dodge and he'd go to work on it. Maybe not cheerfully, but
conscientiously.

"I'll take Ernst Mallin along," he said at length. "This man Rainsford has
no grounding whatever in any of the psychosciences. He may be able to
impose on Ruth Ortheris, but not on Ernst Mallin. Not after I've talked to
Mallin first." He thought some more. "We'll have to get these Fuzzies away
from this man Holloway. Then we'll issue a report of discovery, being
careful to give full credit to both Rainsford and Holloway--we'll even
accept the designation they've coined for them--but we'll make it very
clear that while highly intelligent, the Fuzzies are not a race of sapient
beings. If Rainsford persists in making any such claim, we will brand it
as a deliberate hoax."

"Do you think he's gotten any report off to the Institute of Xeno-Sciences
yet?"

Kellogg shook his head. "I think he wants to trick some of our people into
supporting his sapience claims; at least, corroborating his and Holloway's
alleged observations. That's why I'll have to get over to Beta as soon as
possible."

By now, Kellogg had managed to convince himself that going over to Beta
had been his idea all along. Probably also convincing himself that
Rainsford's report was nothing but a pack of lies. Well, if he could work
better that way, that was his business.

"He will, before long, if he isn't stopped. And a year from now, there'll
be a small army of investigators here from Terra. By that time, you should
have both Rainsford and Holloway thoroughly discredited. Leonard, you get
those Fuzzies away from Holloway and I'll personally guarantee they won't
be available for investigation by then. Fuzzies," he said reflectively.
"Fur-bearing animals, I take it?"

"Holloway spoke, on the tape, of their soft and silky fur."

"Good. Emphasize that in your report. As soon as it's published, the
Company will offer two thousand sols apiece for Fuzzy pelts. By the time
Rainsford's report brings anybody here from Terra, we may have them all
trapped out."

Kellogg began to look worried.

"But, Victor, that's genocide!"

"Nonsense! Genocide is defined as the extermination of a race of sapient
beings. These are fur-bearing animals. It's up to you and Ernst Mallin to
prove that."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Fuzzies, playing on the lawn in front of the camp, froze into
immobility, their faces turned to the west. Then they all ran to the bench
by the kitchen door and scrambled up onto it.

"Now what?" Jack Holloway wondered.

"They hear the airboat," Rainsford told him. "That's the way they acted
yesterday when you were coming in with your machine." He looked at the
picnic table they had been spreading under the featherleaf trees.
"Everything ready?"

"Everything but lunch; that won't be cooked for an hour yet. I see them
now."

"You have better eyes than I do, Jack. Oh, I see it. I hope the kids put
on a good show for them," he said anxiously.

He'd been jittery ever since he arrived, shortly after breakfast. It
wasn't that these people from Mallorysport were so important themselves;
Ben had a bigger name in scientific circles than any of this Company
crowd. He was just excited about the Fuzzies.

The airboat grew from a barely visible speck, and came spiraling down to
land in the clearing. When it was grounded and off contragravity, they
started across the grass toward it, and the Fuzzies all jumped down from
the bench and ran along with them.

The three visitors climbed down. Ruth Ortheris wore slacks and a sweater,
but the slacks were bloused over a pair of ankle boots. Gerd van Riebeek
had evidently done a lot of field work: his boots were stout, and he wore
old, faded khakis and a serviceable-looking sidearm that showed he knew
what to expect up here in the Piedmont. Juan Jimenez was in the same
sports casuals in which he had appeared on screen last evening. All of
them carried photographic equipment. They shook hands all around and
exchanged greetings, and then the Fuzzies began clamoring to be noticed.
Finally all of them, Fuzzies and other people drifted over to the table
under the trees.

Ruth Ortheris sat down on the grass with Mamma and Baby. Immediately Baby
became interested in a silver charm which she wore on a chain around her
neck which tinkled fascinatingly. Then he tried to sit on her head. She
spent some time gently but firmly discouraging this. Juan Jimenez was
squatting between Mike and Mitzi, examining them alternately and talking
into a miniature recorder phone on his breast, mostly in Latin. Gerd van
Riebeek dropped himself into a folding chair and took Little Fuzzy on his
lap.

"You know, this is kind of surprising," he said. "Not only finding
something like this, after twenty-five years, but finding something as
unique as this. Look, he doesn't have the least vestige of a tail, and
there isn't another tailless mammal on the planet. Fact, there isn't
another mammal on this planet that has the slightest kinship to him. Take
ourselves; we belong to a pretty big family, about fifty-odd genera of
primates. But this little fellow hasn't any relatives at all."

"Yeek?"

"And he couldn't care less, could he?" Van Riebeek pummeled Little Fuzzy
gently. "One thing, you have the smallest humanoid known; that's one
record you can claim. Oh-oh, what goes on?"

Ko-Ko, who had climbed upon Rainsford's lap, jumped suddenly to the
ground, grabbed the chopper-digger he had left beside the chair and
started across the grass. Everybody got to their feet, the visitors
getting cameras out. The Fuzzies seemed perplexed by all the excitement.
It was only another land-prawn, wasn't it?

Ko-Ko got in front of it, poked it on the nose to stop it and then struck
a dramatic pose, flourishing his weapon and bringing it down on the
prawn's neck. Then, after flopping it over, he looked at it almost in
sorrow and hit it a couple of whacks with the flat. He began pulling it
apart and eating it.

"I see why you call him Ko-Ko," Ruth said, aiming her camera, "Don't the
others do it that way?"

"Well, Little Fuzzy runs along beside them and pivots and gives them a
quick chop. Mike and Mitzi flop theirs over first and behead them on their
backs. And Mamma takes a swipe at their legs first. But beheading and
breaking the undershell, they all do that."

"Uh-huh; that's basic," she said. "Instinctive. The technique is either
self-learned or copied. When Baby begins killing his own prawns, see if he
doesn't do it the way Mamma does!"

"Hey, look!" Jimenez cried. "He's making a lobster pick for himself!"

Through lunch, they talked exclusively about Fuzzies. The subjects of the
discussion nibbled things that were given to them, and yeeked among
themselves. Gerd van Riebeek suggested that they were discussing the odd
habits of human-type people. Juan Jimenez looked at him, slightly
disturbed, as though wondering just how seriously he meant it.

"You know, what impressed me most in the taped account was the incident of
the damnthing," said Ruth Ortheris. "Any animal associating with man will
try to attract attention if something's wrong, but I never heard of one,
not even a Freyan kholph or a Terran chimpanzee, that would use
descriptive pantomime. Little Fuzzy was actually making a symbolic
representation, by abstracting the distinguishing characteristic of the
damnthing."

"Think that stiff-arm gesture and bark might have been intended to
represent a rifle?" Gerd van Riebeek asked. "He'd seen you shooting
before, hadn't he?"

"I don't think it was anything else. He was telling me, 'Big nasty
damnthing outside; shoot it like you did the harpy.' And if he hadn't run
past me and pointed back, that damnthing would have killed me."

Jimenez, hesitantly, said, "I know I'm speaking from ignorance. You're the
Fuzzy expert. But isn't it possible that you're overanthropomorphizing?
Endowing them with your own characteristics and mental traits?"

"Juan, I'm not going to answer that right now. I don't think I'll answer
at all. You wait till you've been around these Fuzzies a little longer,
and then ask it again, only ask yourself."

       *       *       *       *       *

"So you see, Ernst, that's the problem."

Leonard Kellogg laid the words like a paperweight on the other words he
had been saying, and waited. Ernst Mallin sat motionless, his elbows on
the desk and his chin in his hands. A little pair of wrinkles, like
parentheses, appeared at the corners of his mouth.

"Yes. I'm not a lawyer, of course, but...."

"It's not a legal question. It's a question for a psychologist."

That left it back with Ernst Mallin, and he knew it.

"I'd have to see them myself before I could express an opinion. You have
that tape of Holloway's with you?" When Kellogg nodded, Mallin continued:
"Did either of them make any actual, overt claim of sapience?"

He answered it as he had when Victor Grego had asked the same question,
adding:

"The account consists almost entirely of Holloway's uncorroborated
statements concerning things to which he claims to have been the sole
witness."

"Ah." Mallin permitted himself a tight little smile. "And he's not a
qualified observer. Neither, for that matter, is Rainsford. Regardless of
his position as a xeno-naturalist, he is complete layman in the
psychosciences. He's just taken this other man's statements uncritically.
As for what he claims to have observed for himself, how do we know he
isn't including a lot of erroneous inferences with his descriptive
statements?"

"How do we know he's not perpetrating a deliberate hoax?"

"But, Leonard, that's a pretty serious accusation."

"It's happened before. That fellow who carved a Late Upland Martian
inscription in that cave in Kenya, for instance. Or Hellermann's claim to
have cross-bred Terran mice with Thoran tilbras. Or the Piltdown Man, back
in the first century Pre-Atomic?"

Mallin nodded. "None of us like to think of a thing like that, but, as you
say, it's happened. You know, this man Rainsford is just the type to do
something like that, too. Fundamentally an individualistic egoist; badly
adjusted personality type. Say he wants to make some sensational discovery
which will assure him the position in the scientific world to which he
believes himself entitled. He finds this lonely old prospector, into whose
isolated camp some little animals have strayed. The old man has made pets
of them, taught them a few tricks, finally so projected his own
personality onto them that he has convinced himself that they are people
like himself. This is Rainsford's great opportunity; he will present
himself as the discoverer of a new sapient race and bring the whole
learned world to his feet." Mallin smiled again. "Yes, Leonard, it is
altogether possible."

"Then it's our plain duty to stop this thing before it develops into
another major scientific scandal like Hellermann's hybrids."

"First we must go over this tape recording and see what we have on our
hands. Then we must make a thorough, unbiased study of these animals, and
show Rainsford and his accomplice that they cannot hope to foist these
ridiculous claims on the scientific world with impunity. If we can't
convince them privately, there'll be nothing to do but expose them
publicly."

"I've heard the tape already, but let's play if off now. We want to
analyze these tricks this man Holloway has taught these animals, and see
what they show."

"Yes, of course. We must do that at once," Mallin said. "Then we'll have
to consider what sort of statement we must issue, and what sort of
evidence we will need to support it."

       *       *       *       *       *

After dinner was romptime for Fuzzies on the lawn, but when the dusk came
creeping into the ravine, they all went inside and were given one of their
new toys from Mallorysport--a big box of many-colored balls and short
sticks of transparent plastic. They didn't know that it was a
molecule-model kit, but they soon found that the sticks would go into
holes in the balls, and that they could be built into three-dimensional
designs.

This was much more fun than the colored stones. They made a few
experimental shapes, then dismantled them and began on a single large
design. Several times they tore it down, entirely or in part, and began
over again, usually with considerable yeeking and gesticulation.

"They have artistic sense," Van Riebeek said. "I've seen lots of abstract
sculpture that wasn't half as good as that job they're doing."

"Good engineering, too," Jack said. "They understand balance and
center-of-gravity. They're bracing it well, and not making it top-heavy."

"Jack, I've been thinking about that question I was supposed to ask
myself," Jimenez said. "You know, I came out here loaded with suspicion.
Not that I doubted your honesty; I just thought you'd let your obvious
affection for the Fuzzies lead you into giving them credit for more
intelligence than they possess. Now I think you've consistently
understated it. Short of actual sapience, I've never seen anything like
them."

"Why short of it?" van Riebeek asked. "Ruth, you've been pretty quiet this
evening. What do you think?"

Ruth Ortheris looked uncomfortable. "Gerd, it's too early to form opinions
like that. I know the way they're working together looks like cooperation
on an agreed-upon purpose, but I simply can't make speech out of that
yeek-yeek-yeek."

"Let's keep the talk-and-build-a-fire rule out of it," van Riebeek said.
"If they're working together on a common project, they must be
communicating somehow."

"It isn't communication, it's symbolization. You simply can't think
sapiently except in verbal symbols. Try it. Not something like changing
the spools on a recorder or field-stripping a pistol; they're just learned
tricks. I mean ideas."

"How about Helen Keller?" Rainsford asked. "Mean to say she only started
thinking sapiently after Anna Sullivan taught her what words were?"

"No, of course not. She thought sapiently--And she only thought in
sense-imagery limited to feeling." She looked at Rainsford reproachfully;
he'd knocked a breach in one of her fundamental postulates. "Of course,
she had inherited the cerebroneural equipment for sapient thinking." She
let that trail off, before somebody asked her how she knew that the
Fuzzies hadn't.

"I'll suggest, just to keep the argument going, that speech couldn't have
been invented without pre-existing sapience," Jack said.

Ruth laughed. "Now you're taking me back to college. That used to be one
of the burning questions in first-year psych students' bull sessions. By
the time we got to be sophomores, we'd realized that it was only an
egg-and-chicken argument and dropped it."

"That's a pity," Ben Rainsford said. "It's a good question."

"It would be if it could be answered."

"Maybe it can be," Gerd said. "There's a clue to it, right there. I'll say
that those fellows are on the edge of sapience, and it's an even-money bet
which side."

"I'll bet every sunstone in my bag they're over."

"Well, maybe they're just slightly sapient," Jimenez suggested.

Ruth Ortheris hooted at that. "That's like talking about being just
slightly dead or just slightly pregnant," she said. "You either are or you
aren't."

Gerd van Riebeek was talking at the same time. "This sapience question is
just as important in my field as yours, Ruth. Sapience is the result of
evolution by natural selection, just as much as a physical characteristic,
and it's the most important step in the evolution of any species, our own
included."

"Wait a minute, Gerd," Rainsford said. "Ruth, what do you mean by that?
Aren't there degrees of sapience?"

"No. There are degrees of mentation--intelligence, if you prefer--just as
there are degrees of temperature. When psychology becomes an exact science
like physics, we'll be able to calibrate mentation like temperature. But
sapience is qualitatively different from nonsapience. It's more than just
a higher degree of mental temperature. You might call it a sort of mental
boiling point."

"I think that's a damn good analogy," Rainsford said. "But what happens
when the boiling point is reached?"

"That's what we have to find out," van Riebeek told him. "That's what I
was talking about a moment ago. We don't know any more about how sapience
appeared today than we did in the year zero, or in the year 654 Pre-Atomic
for that matter."

"Wait a minute," Jack interrupted. "Before we go any deeper, let's agree
on a definition of sapience."

Van Riebeek laughed. "Ever try to get a definition of life from a
biologist?" he asked. "Or a definition of number from a mathematician?"

"That's about it." Ruth looked at the Fuzzies, who were looking at their
colored-ball construction as though wondering if they could add anything
more without spoiling the design. "I'd say: a level of mentation
qualitatively different from nonsapience in that it includes ability to
symbolize ideas and store and transmit them, ability to generalize and
ability to form abstract ideas. There; I didn't say a word about
talk-and-build-a-fire, did I?"

"Little Fuzzy symbolizes and generalizes," Jack said. "He symbolizes a
damnthing by three horns, and he symbolizes a rifle by a long thing that
points and makes noises. Rifles kill animals. Harpies and damnthings are
both animals. If a rifle will kill a harpy, it'll kill a damnthing too."

Juan Jimenez had been frowning in thought; he looked up and asked, "What's
the lowest known sapient race?"

"Yggdrasil Khooghras," Gerd van Riebeek said promptly. "Any of you ever
been on Yggdrasil?"

"I saw a man shot once on Mimir, for calling another man a son of a
Khooghra," Jack said. "The man who shot him had been on Yggdrasil and knew
what he was being called."

"I spent a couple of years among them," Gerd said. "They do build fires;
I'll give them that. They char points on sticks to make spears. And they
talk. I learned their language, all eighty-two words of it. I taught a few
of the intelligentsia how to use machetes without maiming themselves, and
there was one mental giant I could trust to carry some of my equipment, if
I kept an eye on him, but I never let him touch my rifle or my camera."

"Can they generalize?" Ruth asked.

"Honey, they can't do nothin' else but! Every word in their language is a
high-order generalization. _Hroosha_, live-thing. _Noosha_, bad-thing.
_Dhishta_, thing-to-eat. Want me to go on? There are only seventy-nine
more of them."

Before anybody could stop him, the communication screen got itself into an
uproar. The Fuzzies all ran over in front of it, and Jack switched it on.
The caller was a man in gray semiformals; he had wavy gray hair and a face
that looked like Juan Jimenez's twenty years from now.

"Good evening; Holloway here."

"Oh, Mr. Holloway, good evening." The caller shook hands with himself,
turning on a dazzling smile. "I'm Leonard Kellogg, chief of the Company's
science division. I just heard the tape you made about the--the Fuzzies?"
He looked down at the floor. "Are these some of the animals?"

"These are the Fuzzies." He hoped it sounded like the correction it was
intended to be. "Dr. Bennett Rainsford's here with me now, and so are Dr.
Jimenez, Dr. van Riebeek and Dr. Ortheris." Out of the corner of his eye
he could see Jimenez squirming as though afflicted with ants, van Riebeek
getting his poker face battened down and Ben Rainsford suppressing a grin.
"Some of us are out of screen range, and I'm sure you'll want to ask a lot
of questions. Pardon us a moment, while we close in."

He ignored Kellogg's genial protest that that wouldn't be necessary until
the chairs were placed facing the screen. As an afterthought, he handed
Fuzzies around, giving Little Fuzzy to Ben, Ko-Ko to Gerd, Mitzi to Ruth,
Mike to Jimenez and taking Mamma and Baby on his own lap.

Baby immediately started to climb up onto his head, as expected. It seemed
to disconcert Kellogg, also as expected. He decided to teach Baby to thumb
his nose when given some unobtrusive signal.

"Now, about that tape I recorded last evening," he began.

"Yes, Mr. Holloway." Kellogg's smile was getting more mechanical every
minute. He was having trouble keeping his eyes off Baby. "I must say, I
was simply astounded at the high order of intelligence claimed for these
creatures."

"And you wanted to see how big a liar I was. I don't blame you; I had
trouble believing it myself at first."

Kellogg gave a musically blithe laugh, showing even more dental equipment.

"Oh, no. Mr. Holloway; please don't misunderstand me. I never thought
anything like that."

"I hope not," Ben Rainsford said, not too pleasantly. "I vouched for Mr.
Holloway's statements, if you'll recall."

"Of course, Bennett; that goes without saying. Permit me to congratulate
you upon a most remarkable scientific discovery. An entirely new order of
mammals--"

"Which may be the ninth extrasolar sapient race," Rainsford added.

"Good heavens, Bennett!" Kellogg jettisoned his smile and slid on a look
of shocked surprise. "You surely can't be serious?" He looked again at the
Fuzzies, pulled the smile back on and gave a light laugh.

"I thought you'd heard that tape," Rainsford said.

"Of course, and the things reported were most remarkable. But sapiences!
Just because they've been taught a few tricks, and use sticks and stones
for weapons--" He got rid of the smile again, and quick-changed to
seriousness. "Such an extreme claim must only be made after careful
study."

"Well, I won't claim they're sapient," Ruth Ortheris told him. "Not till
day after tomorrow, at the earliest. But they very easily could be. They
have learning and reasoning capacity equal to that of any eight-year-old
Terran Human child, and well above that of the adults of some recognizedly
sapient races. And they have not been taught tricks; they have learned by
observation and reasoning."

"Well, Dr. Kellogg, mentation levels isn't my subject," Jimenez took it
up, "but they do have all the physical characteristics shared by other
sapient races--lower limbs specialized for locomotion and upper limbs for
manipulation, erect posture, stereoscopic vision, color perception, erect
posture, hand with opposing thumb--all the characteristics we consider as
prerequisite to the development of sapience."

"I think they're sapient, myself," Gerd van Riebeek said, "but that's not
as important as the fact that they're on the very threshold of sapience.
This is the first race of this mental level anybody's ever seen. I believe
that study of the Fuzzies will help us solve the problem of how sapience
developed in any race."

Kellogg had been laboring to pump up a head of enthusiasm; now he was
ready to valve it off.

"But this is amazing! This will make scientific history! Now, of course,
you all realize how pricelessly valuable these Fuzzies are. They must be
brought at once to Mallorysport, where they can be studied under
laboratory conditions by qualified psychologists, and--"

"No."

Jack lifted Baby Fuzzy off his head and handed him to Mamma, and set Mamma
on the floor. That was reflex; the thinking part of his brain knew he
didn't need to clear for action when arguing with the electronic image of
a man twenty-five hundred miles away.

"Just forget that part of it and start over," he advised.

Kellogg ignored him. "Gerd, you have your airboat; fix up some nice
comfortable cages--"

_"Kellogg!_"

The man in the screen stopped talking and stared in amazed indignation. It
was the first time in years he had been addressed by his naked patronymic,
and possibly the first time in his life he had been shouted at.

"Didn't you hear me the first time Kellogg? Then stop gibbering about
cages. These Fuzzies aren't being taken anywhere."

"But Mr. Holloway! Don't you realize that these little beings must be
carefully studied? Don't you want them given their rightful place in the
hierarchy of nature?"

"If you want to study them, come out here and do it. That's so long as you
don't annoy them, or me. As far as study's concerned, they're being
studied now. Dr. Rainsford's studying them, and so are three of your
people, and when it comes to that, I'm studying them myself."

"And I'd like you to clarify that remark about qualified psychologists,"
Ruth Ortheris added, in a voice approaching zero-Kelvin. "You wouldn't be
challenging my professional qualifications, would you?"

"Oh, Ruth, you know I didn't mean anything like that. Please don't
misunderstand me," Kellogg begged. "But this is highly specialized work--"

"Yes; how many Fuzzy specialists have you at Science Center, Leonard?"
Rainsford wanted to know. "The only one I can think of is Jack Holloway,
here."

"Well, I'd thought of Dr. Mallin, the Company's head psychologist."

"He can come too, just as long as he understands that he'll have to have
my permission for anything he wants to do with the Fuzzies," Jack said.
"When can we expect you?"

Kellogg thought some time late the next afternoon. He didn't have to ask
how to get to the camp. He made a few efforts to restore the conversation
to its original note of cordiality, gave that up as a bad job and blanked
out. There was a brief silence in the living room. Then Jimenez said
reproachfully:

"You certainly weren't very gracious to Dr. Kellogg, Jack. Maybe you don't
realize it, but he is a very important man."

"He isn't important to me, and I wasn't gracious to him at all. It doesn't
pay to be gracious to people like that. If you are, they always try to
take advantage of it."

"Why, I didn't know you knew Len," van Riebeek said.

"I never saw the individual before. The species is very common and widely
distributed." He turned to Rainsford. "You think he and this Mallin will
be out tomorrow?"

"Of course they will. This is a little too big for underlings and
non-Company people to be allowed to monkey with. You know, we'll have to
watch out or in a year we'll be hearing from Terra about the discovery of
a sapient race on Zarathustra; _Fuzzy fuzzy Kellogg_. As Juan says, Dr.
Kellogg is a very important man. That's how he got important."



VI


The recorded voice ceased; for a moment the record player hummed
voicelessly. Loud in the silence, a photocell acted with a double click,
opening one segment of the sun shielding and closing another at the
opposite side of the dome. Space Commodore Alex Napier glanced up from his
desk and out at the harshly angular landscape of Xerxes and the blackness
of airless space beyond the disquietingly close horizon. Then he picked up
his pipe and knocked the heel out into the ashtray. Nobody said anything.
He began packing tobacco into the bowl.

"Well, gentlemen?" He invited comment.

"Pancho?" Captain Conrad Greibenfeld, the Exec., turned to Lieutenant
Ybarra, the chief psychologist.

"How reliable is this stuff?" Ybarra asked.

"Well, I knew Jack Holloway thirty years ago, on Fenris, when I was just
an ensign. He must be past seventy now," he parenthesized. "If he says he
saw anything, I'll believe it. And Bennett Rainsford's absolutely
reliable, of course."

"How about the agent?" Ybarra insisted.

He and Stephen Aelborg, the Intelligence officer, exchanged glances. He
nodded, and Aelborg said:

"One of the best. One of our own, lieutenant j.g., Naval Reserve. You
don't need to worry about credibility, Pancho."

"They sound sapient to me," Ybarra said. "You know, this is something I've
always been half hoping and half afraid would happen."

"You mean an excuse to intervene in that mess down there?" Greibenfeld
asked.

Ybarra looked blankly at him for a moment. "No. No, I meant a case of
borderline sapience; something our sacred talk-and-build-a-fire rule won't
cover. Just how did this come to our attention, Stephen?"

"Well, it was transmitted to us from Contact Center in Mallorysport late
Friday night. There seem to be a number of copies of this tape around; our
agent got hold of one of them and transmitted it to Contact Center, and it
was relayed on to us, with the agent's comments," Aelborg said. "Contact
Center ordered a routine surveillance inside Company House and, to play
safe, at the Residency. At the time, there seemed no reason to give the
thing any beat-to-quarters-and-man-guns treatment, but we got a report on
Saturday afternoon--Mallorysport time, that is--that Leonard Kellogg had
played off the copy of the tape that Juan Jimenez had made for file, and
had alerted Victor Grego immediately.

"Of course, Grego saw the implications at once. He sent Kellogg and the
chief Company psychologist, Ernst Mallin, out to Beta Continent with
orders to brand Rainsford's and Holloway's claims as a deliberate hoax.
Then the Company intends to encourage the trapping of Fuzzies for their
fur, in hopes that the whole species will be exterminated before anybody
can get out from Terra to check on Rainsford's story."

"I hadn't heard that last detail before."

"Well, we can prove it," Aelborg assured him.

It sounded like a Victor Grego idea. He lit his pipe slowly. Damnit, he
didn't want to have to intervene. No Space Navy C.O. did. Justifying
intervention on a Colonial planet was too much bother--always a board of
inquiry, often a courtmartial. And supersession of civil authority was
completely against Service Doctrine. Of course, there were other and more
important tenets of Service Doctrine. The sovereignty of the Terran
Federation for one, and the inviolability of the Federation Constitution.
And the rights of extraterrestrials, too. Conrad Greibenfeld, too, seemed
to have been thinking about that.

"If those Fuzzies are sapient beings, that whole setup down there is
illegal. Company, Colonial administration and all," he said.
"Zarathustra's a Class-IV planet, and that's all you can make out of it."

"We won't intervene unless we're forced to. Pancho, I think the decision
will be largely up to you."

Pancho Ybarra was horrified.

"Good God, Alex! You can't mean that. Who am I? A nobody. All I have is an
ordinary M.D., and a Psych.D. Why, the best psychological brains in the
Federation--"

"Aren't on Zarathustra, Pancho. They're on Terra, five hundred
light-years, six months' ship voyage each way. Intervention, of course, is
my responsibility, but the sapience question is yours. I don't envy you,
but I can't relieve you of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerd van Riebeek's suggestion that all three of the visitors sleep aboard
the airboat hadn't been treated seriously at all. Gerd himself was
accommodated in the spare room of the living hut. Juan Jimenez went with
Ben Rainsford to his camp for the night. Ruth Ortheris had the cabin of
the boat to herself. Rainsford was on the screen the next morning, while
Jack and Gerd and Ruth and the Fuzzies were having breakfast; he and
Jimenez had decided to take his airjeep and work down from the head of
Cold Creek in the belief that there must be more Fuzzies around in the
woods.

Both Gerd and Ruth decided to spend the morning at the camp and get
acquainted with the Fuzzies on hand. The family had had enough breakfast
to leave them neutral on the subject of land-prawns, and they were given
another of the new toys, a big colored ball. They rolled it around in the
grass for a while, decided to save it for their evening romp and took it
into the house. Then they began playing aimlessly among some junk in the
shed outside the workshop. Once in a while one of them would drift away to
look for a prawn, more for sport than food.

Ruth and Gerd and Jack were sitting at the breakfast table on the grass,
talking idly and trying to think of excuses for not washing the dishes.
Mamma Fuzzy and Baby were poking about in the tall grass. Suddenly Mamma
gave a shrill cry and started back for the shed, chasing Baby ahead of her
and slapping him on the bottom with the flat of her chopper-digger to
hurry him along.

Jack started for the house at a run. Gerd grabbed his camera and jumped up
on the table. It was Ruth who saw the cause of the disturbance.

"Jack! Look, over there!" She pointed to the edge of the clearing. "Two
strange Fuzzies!"

He kept on running, but instead of the rifle he had been going for, he
collected his movie camera, two of the spare chopper-diggers and some
Extee Three. When he emerged again, the two Fuzzies had come into the
clearing and stood side by side, looking around. Both were females, and
they both carried wooden prawn-killers.

"You have plenty of film?" he asked Gerd. "Here, Ruth; take this." He
handed her his own camera. "Keep far enough away from me to get what I'm
doing and what they're doing. I'm going to try to trade with them."

He went forward, the steel weapons in his hip pocket and the Extee Three
in his hand, talking softly and soothingly to the newcomers. When he was
as close to them as he could get without stampeding them, he stopped.

"Our gang's coming up behind you," Gerd told him. "Regular skirmish line;
choppers at high port. Now they've stopped, about thirty feet behind you."

He broke off a piece of Extee Three, put it in his mouth and ate it. Then
he broke off two more pieces and held them out. The two Fuzzies were
tempted, but not to the point of rashness. He threw both pieces within a
few feet of them. One darted forward, threw a piece to her companion and
then snatched the other piece and ran back with it. They stood together,
nibbling and making soft delighted noises.

His own family seemed to disapprove strenuously of this lavishing of
delicacies upon outsiders. However, the two strangers decided that it
would be safe to come closer, and soon he had them taking bits of field
ration from his hand. Then he took the two steel chopper-diggers out of
his pocket, and managed to convey the idea that he wanted to trade. The
two strange Fuzzies were incredulously delighted. This was too much for
his own tribe; they came up yeeking angrily.

The two strange females retreated a few steps, their new weapon ready.
Everybody seemed to expect a fight, and nobody wanted one. From what he
could remember of Old Terran history, this was a situation which could
develop into serious trouble. Then Ko-Ko advanced, dragging his
chopper-digger in an obviously pacific manner, and approached the two
females, yeeking softly and touching first one and then the other. Then he
laid his weapon down and put his foot on it. The two females began
stroking and caressing him.

Immediately the crisis evaporated. The others of the family came forward,
stuck their weapons in the ground and began fondling the strangers. Then
they all sat in a circle, swaying their bodies rhythmically and making
soft noises. Finally Ko-Ko and the two females rose, picked up their
weapons and started for the woods.

"Jack, stop them," Ruth called out. "They're going away."

"If they want to go, I have no right to stop them."

When they were almost at the edge of the woods, Ko-Ko stopped, drove the
point of his weapon into the ground and came running back to Pappy Jack,
throwing his arms around the human knees and yeeking. Jack stooped and
stroked him, but didn't try to pick him up. One of the two females pulled
his chopper-digger out, and they both came back slowly. At the same time,
Little Fuzzy, Mamma Fuzzy, Mike and Mitzi came running back. For a while,
all the Fuzzies embraced one another, yeeking happily. Then they all
trooped across the grass and went into the house.

"Get that all, Gerd?" he asked.

"On film, yes. That's the only way I did, though. What happened?"

"You have just made the first film of intertribal social and mating
customs, Zarathustran Fuzzy. This is the family's home; they don't want
any strange Fuzzies hanging around. They were going to run the girls off.
Then Ko-Ko decided he liked their looks, and he decided he'd team up with
them. That made everything different; the family sat down with them to
tell them what a fine husband they were getting and to tell Ko-Ko
good-bye. Then Ko-Ko remembered that he hadn't told me good-bye, and he
came back. The family decided that two more Fuzzies wouldn't be in excess
of the carrying capacity of this habitat, seeing what a good provider
Pappy Jack is, so now I should imagine they're showing the girls the
family treasures. You know, they married into a mighty well-to-do family."

The girls were named Goldilocks and Cinderella. When lunch was ready, they
were all in the living room, with the viewscreen on; after lunch, the
whole gang went into the bedroom for a nap on Pappy Jack's bed. He spent
the afternoon developing movie film, while Gerd and Ruth wrote up the
notes they had made the day before and collaborated on an account of the
adoption. By late afternoon, when they were finished, the Fuzzies came out
for a frolic and prawn hunt.

They all heard the aircar before any of the human people did, and they all
ran over and climbed up on the bench beside the kitchen door. It was a
constabulary cruise car; it landed, and a couple of troopers got out,
saying that they'd stopped to see the Fuzzies. They wanted to know where
the extras had come from, and when Jack told them, they looked at one
another.

"Next gang that comes along, call us and keep them entertained till we can
get here," one of them said. "We want some at the post, for prawns if
nothing else."

"What's George's attitude?" he asked. "The other night, when he was here,
he seemed half scared of them."

"Aah, he's got over that," one of the troopers said. "He called Ben
Rainsford; Ben said they were perfectly safe. Hey, Ben says they're not
animals; they're people."

He started to tell them about some of the things the Fuzzies did. He was
still talking when the Fuzzies heard another aircar and called attention
to it. This time, it was Ben Rainsford and Juan Jimenez. They piled out as
soon as they were off contragravity, dragging cameras after them.

"Jack, there are Fuzzies all over the place up there," Rainsford began,
while he was getting out. "All headed down this way; regular
_Volkerwanderung_. We saw over fifty of them--four families, and
individuals and pairs. I'm sure we missed ten for every one we saw."

"We better get up there with a car tomorrow," one of the troopers said.
"Ben, just where were you?"

"I'll show you on the map." Then he saw Goldilocks and Cinderella. "Hey!
Where'd you two girls come from? I never saw you around here before."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was another clearing across the stream, with a log footbridge and a
path to the camp. Jack guided the big airboat down onto it, and put his
airjeep alongside with the canopy up. There were two men on the forward
deck of the boat, Kellogg and another man who would be Ernst Mallin. A
third man came out of the control cabin after the boat was off
contragravity. Jack didn't like Mallin. He had a tight, secretive face,
with arrogance and bigotry showing underneath. The third man was younger.
His face didn't show anything much, but his coat showed a bulge under the
left arm. After being introduced by Kellogg, Mallin introduced him as Kurt
Borch, his assistant.

Mallin had to introduce Borch again at the camp, not only to Ben Rainsford
but also to van Riebeek, to Jimenez and even to Ruth Ortheris, which
seemed a little odd. Ruth seemed to think so, too, and Mallin hastened to
tell her that Borch was with Personnel, giving some kind of tests. That
appeared to puzzle her even more. None of the three seemed happy about the
presence of the constabulary troopers, either; they were all relieved when
the cruise car lifted out.

Kellogg became interested in the Fuzzies immediately, squatting to examine
them. He said something to Mallin, who compressed his lips and shook his
head, saying:

"We simply cannot assume sapience until we find something in their
behavior which cannot be explained under any other hypothesis. We would be
much safer to assume nonsapience and proceed to test that assumption."

That seemed to establish the keynote. Kellogg straightened, and he and
Mallin started one of those "of course I agree, doctor, but don't you
find, on the other hand, that you must agree" sort of arguments, about the
difference between scientific evidence and scientific proof. Jimenez got
into it to the extent of agreeing with everything Kellogg said, and
differing politely with everything Mallin said that he thought Kellogg
would differ with. Borch said nothing; he just stood and looked at the
Fuzzies with ill-concealed hostility. Gerd and Ruth decided to help
getting dinner.

They ate outside on the picnic table, with the Fuzzies watching them
interestedly. Kellogg and Mallin carefully avoided discussing them. It
wasn't until after dusk, when the Fuzzies brought their ball inside and
everybody was in the living room, that Kellogg, adopting a
presiding-officer manner, got the conversation onto the subject. For some
time, without giving anyone else an opportunity to say anything, he gushed
about what an important discovery the Fuzzies were. The Fuzzies themselves
ignored him and began dismantling the stick-and-ball construction. For a
while Goldilocks and Cinderella watched interestedly, and then they began
assisting.

"Unfortunately," Kellogg continued, "so much of our data is in the form of
uncorroborated statements by Mr. Holloway. Now, please don't misunderstand
me. I don't, myself, doubt for a moment anything Mr. Holloway said on that
tape, but you must realize that professional scientists are most reluctant
to accept the unsubstantiated reports of what, if you'll pardon me, they
think of as nonqualified observers."

"Oh, rubbish, Leonard!" Rainsford broke in impatiently. "I'm a
professional scientist, of a good many more years' standing than you, and
I accept Jack Holloway's statements. A frontiersman like Jack is a very
careful and exact observer. People who aren't don't live long on frontier
planets."

"Now, please don't misunderstand me," Kellogg reiterated. "I don't doubt
Mr. Holloway's statements. I was just thinking of how they would be
received on Terra."

"I shouldn't worry about that, Leonard. The Institute accepts my reports,
and I'm vouching for Jack's reliability. I can substantiate most of what
he told me from personal observation."

"Yes, and there's more than just verbal statements," Gerd van Riebeek
chimed in. "A camera is not a nonqualified observer. We have quite a bit
of film of the Fuzzies."

"Oh, yes; there was some mention of movies," Mallin said. "You don't have
any of them developed yet, do you?"

"Quite a lot. Everything except what was taken out in the woods this
afternoon. We can run them off right now."

He pulled down the screen in front of the gunrack, got the film and loaded
his projector. The Fuzzies, who had begun on a new stick-and-ball
construction, were irritated when the lights went out, then wildly excited
when Little Fuzzy, digging a toilet pit with the wood chisel, appeared.
Little Fuzzy in particular was excited about that; if he didn't recognize
himself, he recognized the chisel. Then there were pictures of Little
Fuzzy killing and eating land-prawns, Little Fuzzy taking the nut off the
bolt and putting it on again, and pictures of the others, after they had
come in, hunting and at play. Finally, there was the film of the adoption
of Goldilocks and Cinderella.

"What Juan and I got this afternoon, up in the woods, isn't so good, I'm
afraid," Rainsford said when the show was over and the lights were on
again. "Mostly it's rear views disappearing into the brush. It was very
hard to get close to them in the jeep. Their hearing is remarkably acute.
But I'm sure the pictures we took this afternoon will show the things they
were carrying--wooden prawn-killers like the two that were traded from the
new ones in that last film."

Mallin and Kellogg looked at one another in what seemed oddly like
consternation.

"You didn't tell us there were more of them around," Mallin said, as
though it were an accusation of duplicity. He turned to Kellogg. "This
alters the situation."

"Yes, indeed, Ernst," Kellogg burbled delightedly. "This is a wonderful
opportunity. Mr. Holloway, I understand that all this country up here is
your property, by landgrant purchase. That's right, isn't it? Well, would
you allow us to camp on that clearing across the run, where our boat is
now? We'll get prefab huts--Red Hill's the nearest town, isn't it?--and
have a Company construction gang set them up for us, and we won't be any
bother at all to you. We had only intended staying tonight on our boat,
and returning to Mallorysport in the morning, but with all these Fuzzies
swarming around in the woods, we can't think of leaving now. You don't
have any objection, do you?"

He had lots of objections. The whole business was rapidly developing into
an acute pain in the neck for him. But if he didn't let Kellogg camp
across the run, the three of them could move seventy or eighty miles in
any direction and be off his land. He knew what they'd do then. They'd
live-trap or sleep-gas Fuzzies; they'd put them in cages, and torment them
with maze and electric-shock experiments, and kill a few for dissection,
or maybe not bother killing them first. On his own land, if they did
anything like that, he could do something about it.

"Not at all. I'll have to remind you again, though, that you're to treat
these little people with consideration."

"Oh, we won't do anything to your Fuzzies," Mallin said.

"You won't hurt any Fuzzies. Not more than once, anyhow."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning, during breakfast, Kellogg and Kurt Borch put in an
appearance, Borch wearing old clothes and field boots and carrying his
pistol on his belt. They had a list of things they thought they would need
for their camp. Neither of them seemed to have more than the foggiest
notion of camp requirements. Jack made some suggestions which they
accepted. There was a lot of scientific equipment on the list, including
an X-ray machine. He promptly ran a pencil line through that.

"We don't know what these Fuzzies' level of radiation tolerance is. We're
not going to find out by overdosing one of my Fuzzies."

Somewhat to his surprise, neither of them gave him any argument. Gerd and
Ruth and Kellogg borrowed his airjeep and started north; he and Borch went
across the run to make measurements after Rainsford and Jimenez arrived
and picked up Mallin. Borch took off soon after with the boat for Red
Hill. Left alone, he loafed around the camp, and developed the rest of the
movie film, making three copies of everything. Toward noon, Borch brought
the boat back, followed by a couple of scowlike farmboats. In a few hours,
the Company construction men from Red Hill had the new camp set up. Among
other things, they brought two more air jeeps.

The two jeeps returned late in the afternoon, everybody excited. Between
them, the parties had seen almost a hundred Fuzzies, and had found three
camps, two among rocks and one in a hollow pool-ball tree. All three had
been spotted by belts of filled-in toilet pits around them; two had been
abandoned and the third was still occupied. Kellogg insisted on playing
host to Jack and Rainsford for dinner at the camp across the run. The
meal, because everything had been brought ready-cooked and only needed
warming, was excellent.

Returning to his own camp with Rainsford, Jack found the Fuzzies finished
with their evening meal and in the living room, starting a new
construction--he could think of no other name for it--with the
molecule-model balls and sticks. Goldilocks left the others and came over
to him with a couple of balls fastened together, holding them up with one
hand while she pulled his trouser leg with the other.

"Yes, I see. It's very beautiful," he told her.

She tugged harder and pointed at the thing the others were making.
Finally, he understood.

"She wants me to work on it, too," he said. "Ben, you know where the
coffee is; fix us a pot. I'm going to be busy here."

He sat down on the floor, and was putting sticks and balls together when
Ben brought in the coffee. This was more fun than he'd had in a couple of
days. He said so while Ben was distributing Extee Three to the Fuzzies.

"Yes, I ought to let you kick me all around the camp for getting this
started," Rainsford said, pouring the coffee. "I could make some excuses,
but they'd all sound like 'I didn't know it was loaded.'"

"Hell, I didn't know it was loaded, either." He rose and took his coffee
cup, blowing on it to cool it. "What do you think Kellogg's up to, anyhow?
That whole act he's been putting on since he came here is phony as a
nine-sol bill."

"What I told you, evening before last," Rainsford said. "He doesn't want
non-Company people making discoveries on Zarathustra. You notice how hard
he and Mallin are straining to talk me out of sending a report back to
Terra before he can investigate the Fuzzies? He wants to get his own
report in first. Well, the hell with him! You know what I'm going to do?
I'm going home, and I'm going to sit up all night getting a report into
shape. Tomorrow morning I'm going to give it to George Lunt and let him
send it to Mallorysport in the constabulary mail pouch. It'll be on a ship
for Terra before any of this gang knows it's been sent. Do you have any
copies of those movies you can spare?"

"About a mile and a half. I made copies of everything, even the stuff the
others took."

"Good. We'll send that, too. Let Kellogg read about it in the papers a
year from now." He thought for a moment, then said: "Gerd and Ruth and
Juan are bunking at the other camp now; suppose I move in here with you
tomorrow. I assume you don't want to leave the Fuzzies alone while that
gang's here. I can help you keep an eye on them."

"But, Ben, you don't want to drop whatever else you're doing--"

"What I'm doing, now, is learning to be a Fuzzyologist, and this is the
only place I can do it. I'll see you tomorrow, after I stop at the
constabulary post."

       *       *       *       *       *

The people across the run--Kellogg, Mallin and Borch, and van Riebeek,
Jimenez and Ruth Ortheris--were still up when Rainsford went out to his
airjeep. After watching him lift out, Jack went back into the house,
played with his family in the living room for a while and went to bed. The
next morning he watched Kellogg, Ruth and Jimenez leave in one jeep and,
shortly after, Mallin and van Riebeek in the other. Kellogg didn't seem to
be willing to let the three who had come to the camp first wander around
unchaperoned. He wondered about that.

Ben Rainsford's airjeep came over the mountains from the south in the late
morning and settled onto the grass. Jack helped him inside with his
luggage, and then they sat down under the big featherleaf trees to smoke
their pipes and watch the Fuzzies playing in the grass. Occasionally they
saw Kurt Borch pottering around outside the other camp.

"I sent the report off," Rainsford said, then looked at his watch. "It
ought to be on the mail boat for Mallorysport by now; this time tomorrow
it'll be in hyperspace for Terra. We won't say anything about it; just sit
back and watch Len Kellogg and Ernst Mallin working up a sweat trying to
talk us out of sending it." He chuckled. "I made a definite claim of
sapience; by the time I got the report in shape to tape off, I couldn't
see any other alternative."

"Damned if I can. You hear that, kids?" he asked Mike and Mitzi, who had
come over in hope that there might be goodies for them. "Uncle Ben says
you're sapient."

"Yeek?"

"They want to know if it's good to eat. What'll happen now?"

"Nothing, for about a year. Six months from now, when the ship gets in,
the Institute will release it to the press, and then they'll send an
investigation team here. So will any of the other universities or
scientific institutes that may be interested. I suppose the government'll
send somebody, too. After all, subcivilized natives on colonized planets
are wards of the Terran Federation."

He didn't know that he liked that. The less he had to do with the
government the better, and his Fuzzies were wards of Pappy Jack Holloway.
He said as much.

Rainsford picked up Mitzi and stroked her. "Nice fur," he said. "Fur like
that would bring good prices. It will, if we don't get these people
recognized as sapient beings."

He looked across the run at the new camp and wondered. Maybe Leonard
Kellogg saw that, too, and saw profits for the Company in Fuzzy fur.

       *       *       *       *       *

The airjeeps returned in the middle of the afternoon, first Mallin's, and
then Kellogg's. Everybody went inside. An hour later, a constabulary car
landed in front of the Kellogg camp. George Lunt and Ahmed Khadra got out.
Kellogg came outside, spoke with them and then took them into the main
living hut. Half an hour later, the lieutenant and the trooper emerged,
lifted their car across the run and set it down on the lawn. The Fuzzies
ran to meet them, possibly expecting more whistles, and followed them into
the living room. Lunt and Khadra took off their berets, but made no move
to unbuckle their gun belts.

"We got your package off all right Ben," Lunt said. He sat down and took
Goldilocks on his lap; immediately Cinderella jumped up, also. "Jack, what
the hell's that gang over there up to anyhow?"

"You got that, too?"

"You can smell it on them for a mile, against the wind. In the first
place, that Borch. I wish I could get his prints; I'll bet we have them on
file. And the whole gang's trying to hide something, and what they're
trying to hide is something they're scared of, like a body in a closet.
When we were over there, Kellogg did all the talking; anybody else who
tried to say anything got shut up fast. Kellogg doesn't like you, Jack and
he doesn't like Ben, and he doesn't like the Fuzzies. Most of all he
doesn't like the Fuzzies."

"Well, I told you what I thought this morning," Rainsford said. "They
don't want outsiders discovering things on this planet. It wouldn't make
them look good to the home office on Terra. Remember, it was some
non-Company people who discovered the first sunstones, back in
'Forty-eight."

George Lunt looked thoughtful. On him, it was a scowl.

"I don't think that's it, Ben. When we were talking to him, he admitted
very freely that you and Jack discovered the Fuzzies. The way he talked,
he didn't seem to think they were worth discovering at all. And he asked a
lot of funny questions about you, Jack. The kind of questions I'd ask if I
was checking up on somebody's mental competence." The scowl became one of
anger now. "By God, I wish I had an excuse to question him--with a
veridicator!"

Kellogg didn't want the Fuzzies to be sapient beings. If they weren't
they'd be ... fur-bearing animals. Jack thought of some overfed society
dowager on Terra or Baldur, wearing the skins of Little Fuzzy and Mamma
Fuzzy and Mike and Mitzi and Ko-Ko and Cinderella and Goldilocks wrapped
around her adipose carcass. It made him feel sick.



VII


Tuesday dawned hot and windless, a scarlet sun coming up in a hard, brassy
sky. The Fuzzies, who were in to wake Pappy Jack with their whistles,
didn't like it; they were edgy and restless. Maybe it would rain today
after all. They had breakfast outside on the picnic table, and then Ben
decided he'd go back to his camp and pick up a few things he hadn't
brought and now decided he needed.

"My hunting rifle's one," he said, "and I think I'll circle down to the
edge of the brush country and see if I can pick off a zebralope. We ought
to have some more fresh meat."

So, after eating, Rainsford got into his jeep and lifted away. Across the
run, Kellogg and Mallin were walking back and forth in front of the camp,
talking earnestly. When Ruth Ortheris and Gerd van Riebeek came out, they
stopped, broke off their conversation and spoke briefly with them. Then
Gerd and Ruth crossed the footbridge and came up the path together.

The Fuzzies had scattered, by this time, to hunt prawns. Little Fuzzy and
Ko-Ko and Goldilocks ran to meet them; Ruth picked Goldilocks up and
carried her, and Ko-Ko and Little Fuzzy ran on ahead. They greeted Jack,
declining coffee; Ruth sat down in a chair with Goldilocks, Little Fuzzy
jumped up on the table and began looking for goodies, and when Gerd
stretched out on his back on the grass Ko-Ko sat down on his chest.

"Goldilocks is my favorite Fuzzy," Ruth was saying. "She is the sweetest
thing. Of course, they're all pretty nice. I can't get over how
affectionate and trusting they are; the ones we saw out in the woods were
so timid."

"Well, the ones out in the woods don't have any Pappy Jack to look after
them" Gerd said. "I'd imagine they're very affectionate among themselves,
but they have so many things to be afraid of. You know, there's another
prerequisite for sapience. It develops in some small, relatively
defenseless, animal surrounded by large and dangerous enemies he can't
outrun or outfight. So, to survive, he has to learn to outthink them. Like
our own remote ancestors, or like Little Fuzzy; he had his choice of
getting sapient or getting exterminated."

Ruth seemed troubled. "Gerd, Dr. Mallin has found absolutely nothing about
them that indicates true sapience."

"Oh, Mallin be bloodied; he doesn't know what sapience is any more than I
do. And a good deal less than you do, I'd say. I think he's trying to
prove that the Fuzzies aren't sapient."

Ruth looked startled. "What makes you say that?"

"It's been sticking out all over him ever since he came here. You're a
psychologist; don't tell me you haven't seen it. Maybe if the Fuzzies were
proven sapient it would invalidate some theory he's gotten out of a book,
and he'd have to do some thinking for himself. He wouldn't like that. But
you have to admit he's been fighting the idea, intellectually and
emotionally, right from the start. Why, they could sit down with pencils
and slide rules and start working differential calculus and it wouldn't
convince him."

"Dr. Mallin's trying to--" she began angrily. Then she broke it off.
"Jack, excuse us. We didn't really come over here to have a fight. We came
to meet some Fuzzies. Didn't we, Goldilocks?"

Goldilocks was playing with the silver charm on the chain around her neck,
holding it to her ear and shaking it to make it tinkle, making small
delighted sounds. Finally she held it up and said, "Yeek?"

"Yes, sweetie-pie, you can have it." Ruth took the chain from around her
neck and put it over Goldilocks' head; she had to loop it three times
before it would fit. "There now; that's your very own."

"Oh, you mustn't give her things like that."

"Why not. It's just cheap trade-junk. You've been on Loki, Jack, you know
what it is." He did; he'd traded stuff like that to the natives himself.
"Some of the girls at the hospital there gave it to me for a joke. I only
wear it because I have it. Goldilocks likes it a lot better than I do."

An airjeep rose from the other side and floated across. Juan Jimenez was
piloting it; Ernst Mallin stuck his head out the window on the right,
asked her if she were ready and told Gerd that Kellogg would pick him up
in a few minutes. After she had gotten into the jeep and it had lifted
out, Gerd put Ko-Ko off his chest and sat up, getting cigarettes from his
shirt pocket.

"I don't know what the devil's gotten into her," he said, watching the
jeep vanish. "Oh, yes, I do. She's gotten the Word from On High. Kellogg
hath spoken. Fuzzies are just silly little animals," he said bitterly.

"You work for Kellogg, too, don't you?"

"Yes. He doesn't dictate my professional opinion, though. You know, I
thought, in the evil hour when I took this job--" He rose to his feet,
hitching his belt to balance the weight of the pistol on the right against
the camera-binoculars on the left, and changed the subject abruptly.
"Jack, has Ben Rainsford sent a report on the Fuzzies to the Institute
yet?" he asked.

"Why?"

"If he hasn't, tell him to hurry up and get one in."

There wasn't time to go into that further. Kellogg's jeep was rising from
the camp across the run and approaching.

He decided to let the breakfast dishes go till after lunch. Kurt Borch had
stayed behind at the Kellogg camp, so he kept an eye on the Fuzzies and
brought them back when they started to stray toward the footbridge. Ben
Rainsford hadn't returned by lunchtime, but zebralope hunting took a
little time, even from the air. While he was eating, outside, one of the
rented airjeeps returned from the northeast in a hurry, disgorging Ernst
Mallin, Juan Jimenez and Ruth Ortheris. Kurt Borch came hurrying out; they
talked for a few minutes, and then they all went inside. A little later,
the second jeep came in, even faster, and landed; Kellogg and van Riebeek
hastened into the living hut. There wasn't anything more to see. He
carried the dishes into the kitchen and washed them, and the Fuzzies went
into the bedroom for their nap.

He was sitting at the table in the living room when Gerd van Riebeek
knocked on the open door.

"Jack, can I talk to you for a minute?" he asked.

"Sure. Come in."

Van Riebeek entered, unbuckling his gun belt. He shifted a chair so that
he could see the door from it, and laid the belt on the floor at his feet
when he sat down. Then he began to curse Leonard Kellogg in four or five
languages.

"Well, I agree, in principle; why in particular, though?"

"You know what that son of a Khooghra's doing?" Gerd asked. "He and
that--" He used a couple of Sheshan words, viler than anything in Lingua
Terra. "--that quack headshrinker, Mallin, are preparing a report,
accusing you and Ben Rainsford of perpetrating a deliberate scientific
hoax. You taught the Fuzzies some tricks; you and Rainsford, between you,
made those artifacts yourselves and the two of you are conspiring to foist
the Fuzzies off as sapient beings. Jack, if it weren't so goddamn stinking
contemptible, it would be the biggest joke of the century!"

"I take it they wanted you to sign this report, too?"

"Yes, and I told Kellogg he could--" What Kellogg could do, it seemed, was
both appalling and physiologically impossible. He cursed again, and then
lit a cigarette and got hold of himself. "Here's what happened. Kellogg
and I went up that stream, about twenty miles down Cold Creek, the one
you've been working on, and up onto the high flat to a spring and a stream
that flows down in the opposite direction. Know where I mean? Well, we
found where some Fuzzies had been camping, among a lot of fallen timber.
And we found a little grave, where the Fuzzies had buried one of their
people."

He should have expected something like that, and yet it startled him. "You
mean, they bury their dead? What was the grave like?"

"A little stone cairn, about a foot and a half by three, a foot high.
Kellogg said it was just a big toilet pit, but I was sure of what it was.
I opened it. Stones under the cairn, and then filled-in earth, and then a
dead Fuzzy wrapped in grass. A female; she'd been mangled by something,
maybe a bush-goblin. And get this Jack; they'd buried her prawn-stick with
her."

"They bury their dead! What was Kellogg doing, while you were opening the
grave?"

"Dithering around having ants. I'd been taking snaps of the grave, and I
was burbling away like an ass about how important this was and how it was
positive proof of sapience, and he was insisting that we get back to camp
at once. He called the other jeep and told Mallin to get to camp
immediately, and Mallin and Ruth and Juan were there when we got in. As
soon as Kellogg told them what we'd found, Mallin turned fish-belly white
and wanted to know how we were going to suppress it. I asked him if he was
nuts, and then Kellogg came out with it. They don't dare let the Fuzzies
be proven sapient."

"Because the Company wants to sell Fuzzy furs?"

Van Riebeek looked at him in surprise. "I never thought of that. I doubt
if they did, either. No. Because if the Fuzzies are sapient beings, the
Company's charter is automatically void."

This time Jack cursed, not Kellogg but himself.

"I am a senile old dotard! Good Lord, I know colonial law; I've been
skating on the edge of it on more planets than you're years old. And I
never thought of that; why, of course it would. Where are you now, with
the Company, by the way?"

"Out, but I couldn't care less. I have enough in the bank for the trip
back to Terra, not counting what I can raise on my boat and some other
things. Xeno-naturalists don't need to worry about finding jobs. There's
Ben's outfit, for instance. And, brother, when I get back to Terra, what
I'll spill about this deal!"

"If you get back. If you don't have an accident before you get on the
ship." He thought for a moment. "Know anything about geology?"

"Why, some; I have to work with fossils. I'm as much a paleontologist as a
zoologist. Why?"

"How'd you like to stay here with me and hunt fossil jellyfish for a
while? We won't make twice as much, together, as I'm making now, but you
can look one way while I'm looking the other, and we may both stay alive
longer that way."

"You mean that, Jack?"

"I said it, didn't I?"

Van Riebeek rose and held out his hand; Jack came around the table and
shook it. Then he reached back and picked up his belt, putting it on.

"Better put yours on, too, partner. Borch is probably the only one we'll
need a gun for, but--"

Van Riebeek buckled on his belt, then drew his pistol and worked the slide
to load the chamber. "What are we going to do?" he asked.

"Well, we're going to try to handle it legally. Fact is, I'm even going to
call the cops."

He punched out a combination on the communication screen. It lighted and
opened a window into the constabulary post. The sergeant who looked out of
it recognized him and grinned.

"Hi, Jack. How's the family?" he asked. "I'm coming up, one of these
evenings, to see them."

"You can see some now." Ko-Ko and Goldilocks and Cinderella were coming
out of the hall from the bedroom; he gathered them up and put them on the
table. The sergeant was fascinated. Then he must have noticed that both
Jack and Gerd were wearing their guns in the house. His eyes narrowed
slightly.

"You got problems, Jack?" he asked.

"Little ones; they may grow, though. I have some guests here who have
outstayed their welcome. For the record, better make it that I have
squatters I want evicted. If there were a couple of blue uniforms around,
maybe it might save me the price of a few cartridges."

"I read you. George was mentioning that you might regret inviting that
gang to camp on you." He picked up a handphone. "Calderon to Car Three,"
he said. "Do you read me, Three? Well, Jack Holloway's got a little
squatter trouble. Yeah; that's it. He's ordering them off his grant, and
he thinks they might try to give him an argument. Yeah, sure, Peace Lovin'
Jack Holloway, that's him. Well, go chase his squatters for him, and if
they give you anything about being Company big wheels, we don't care what
kind of wheels they are, just so's they start rolling." He replaced the
phone. "Look for them in about an hour, Jack."

"Why, thanks, Phil. Drop in some evening when you can hang up your gun and
stay awhile."

He blanked the screen and began punching again. This time he got a girl,
and then the Company construction boss at Red Hill.

"Oh, hello, Jack; is Dr. Kellogg comfortable?"

"Not very. He's moving out this afternoon. I wish you'd have your gang
come up with those scows and get that stuff out of my back yard."

"Well, he told us he was staying for a couple of weeks."

"He got his mind changed for him. He's to be off my land by sunset."

The Company man looked troubled. "Jack, you haven't been having trouble
with Dr. Kellogg, have you?" he asked. "He's a big man with the Company."

"That's what he tells me. You'll still have to come and get that stuff,
though."

He blanked the screen. "You know," he said, "I think it would be no more
than fair to let Kellogg in on this. What's his screen combination?"

Gerd supplied it, and he punched it out. One of those tricky special
Company combinations. Kurt Borch appeared in the screen immediately.

"I want to talk to Kellogg."

"Doctor Kellogg is very busy, at present."

"He's going to be a damned sight busier; this is moving day. The whole
gang of you have till eighteen hundred to get off my grant."

Borch was shoved aside, and Kellogg appeared. "What's this nonsense?" he
demanded angrily.

"You're ordered to move. You want to know why? I can let Gerd van Riebeek
talk to you; I think there are a few things he's forgotten to call you."

"You can't order us out like this. Why, you gave us permission--"

"Permission cancelled. I've called Mike Hennen in Red Hill; he's sending
his scows back for the stuff he brought here. Lieutenant Lunt will have a
couple of troopers here, too. I'll expect you to have your personal things
aboard your airboat when they arrive."

He blanked the screen while Kellogg was trying to tell him that it was all
a misunderstanding.

"I think that's everything. It's quite a while till sundown," he added,
"but I move for suspension of rules while we pour a small libation to
sprinkle our new partnership. Then we can go outside and observe the
enemy."

There was no observable enemy action when they went out and sat down on
the bench by the kitchen door. Kellogg would be screening Mike Hennen and
the constabulary post for verification, and there would be a lot of
gathering up and packing to do. Finally, Kurt Borch emerged with a
contragravity lifter piled with boxes and luggage, and Jimenez walking
beside to steady the load. Jimenez climbed up onto the airboat and Borch
floated the load up to him and then went back into the huts. This was
repeated several times. In the meantime, Kellogg and Mallin seemed to be
having some sort of exchange of recriminations in front. Ruth Ortheris
came out, carrying a briefcase, and sat down on the edge of a table under
the awning.

Neither of them had been watching the Fuzzies, until they saw one of them
start down the path toward the footbridge, a glint of silver at the throat
identifying Goldilocks.

"Look at that fool kid; you stay put, Gerd, and I'll bring her back."

He started down the path; by the time he had reached the bridge,
Goldilocks was across and had vanished behind one of the airjeeps parked
in front of the Kellogg camp. When he was across and within twenty feet of
the vehicle, he heard a sound across and within twenty feet of the
vehicle, he heard a sound he had never heard before--a shrill, thin
shriek, like a file on saw teeth. At the same time, Ruth's voice screamed.

"Don't! Leonard, stop that!"

As he ran around the jeep, the shrieking broke off suddenly. Goldilocks
was on the ground, her fur reddened. Kellogg stood over her, one foot
raised. He was wearing white shoes, and they were both spotted with blood.
He stamped the foot down on the little bleeding body, and then Jack was
within reach of him, and something crunched under the fist he drove into
Kellogg's face. Kellogg staggered and tried to raise his hands; he made a
strangled noise, and for an instant the idiotic thought crossed Jack's
mind that he was trying to say, "Now, please don't misunderstand me." He
caught Kellogg's shirt front in his left hand, and punched him again in
the face, and again, and again. He didn't know how many times he punched
Kellogg before he heard Ruth Ortheris' voice:

"Jack! Watch out! Behind you!"

He let go of Kellogg's shirt and jumped aside, turning and reaching for
his gun. Kurt Borch, twenty feet away, had a pistol drawn and pointed at
him.

His first shot went off as soon as the pistol was clear of the holster. He
fired the second while it was still recoiling; there was a spot of red on
Borch's shirt that gave him an aiming point for the third. Borch dropped
the pistol he hadn't been able to fire, and started folding at the knees
and then at the waist. He went down in a heap on his face.

Behind him, Gerd van Riebeek's voice was saying, "Hold it, all of you; get
your hands up. You, too, Kellogg."

Kellogg, who had fallen, pushed himself erect. Blood was gushing from his
nose, and he tried to stanch it on the sleeve of his jacket. As he
stumbled toward his companions, he blundered into Ruth Ortheris, who
pushed him angrily away from her. Then she went to the little crushed
body, dropping to her knees beside it and touching it. The silver charm
bell on the neck chain jingled faintly. Ruth began to cry.

Juan Jimenez had climbed down from the airboat; he was looking at the body
of Kurt Borch in horror.

"You killed him!" he accused. A moment later, he changed that to
"murdered." Then he started to run toward the living hut.

Gerd van Riebeek fired a bullet into the ground ahead of him, bringing him
up short.

"You'll stop the next one, Juan," he said. "Go help Dr. Kellogg; he got
himself hurt."

"Call the constabulary," Mallin was saying. "Ruth, you go; they won't
shoot at you."

"Don't bother. I called them. Remember?"

Jimenez had gotten a wad of handkerchief tissue out of his pocket and was
trying to stop his superior's nosebleed. Through it, Kellogg was trying to
tell Mallin that he hadn't been able to help it.

"The little beast attacked me; it cut me with that spear it was carrying."

Ruth Ortheris looked up. The other Fuzzies were with her by the body of
Goldilocks; they must have come as soon as they had heard the screaming.

"She came up to him and pulled at his trouser leg, the way they all do
when they want to attract your attention," she said. "She wanted him to
look at her new jingle." Her voice broke, and it was a moment before she
could recover it. "And he kicked her, and then stamped her to death."

"Ruth, keep your mouth shut!" Mallin ordered. "The thing attacked Leonard;
it might have given him a serious wound."

"It did!" Still holding the wad of tissue to his nose with one hand,
Kellogg pulled up his trouser leg with the other and showed a scar on his
shin. It looked like a briar scratch. "You saw it yourself."

"Yes, I saw it. I saw you kick her and jump on her. And all she wanted was
to show you her new jingle."

Jack was beginning to regret that he hadn't shot Kellogg as soon as he saw
what was going on. The other Fuzzies had been trying to get Goldilocks
onto her feet. When they realized that it was no use, they let the body
down again and crouched in a circle around it, making soft, lamenting
sounds.

"Well, when the constabulary get here, you keep quiet," Mallin was saying.
"Let me do the talking."

"Intimidating witnesses, Mallin?" Gerd inquired. "Don't you know
everybody'll have to testify at the constabulary post under veridication?
And you're drawing pay for being a psychologist, too." Then he saw some of
the Fuzzies raise their heads and look toward the southeastern horizon.
"Here come the cops, now."

However, it was Ben Rainsford's airjeep, with a zebralope carcass lashed
along one side. It circled the Kellogg camp and then let down quickly;
Rainsford jumped out as soon as it was grounded, his pistol drawn.

"What happened, Jack?" he asked, then glanced around, from Goldilocks to
Kellogg to Borch to the pistol beside Borch's body. "I get it. Last time
anybody pulled a gun on you, they called it suicide."

"That's what this was, more or less. You have a movie camera in your jeep?
Well, get some shots of Borch, and some of Goldilocks. Then stand by, and
if the Fuzzies start doing anything different, get it all. I don't think
you'll be disappointed."

Rainsford looked puzzled, but he holstered his pistol and went back to his
jeep, returning with a camera. Mallin began insisting that, as a licensed
M.D., he had a right to treat Kellogg's injuries. Gerd van Riebeek
followed him into the living hut for a first-aid kit. They were just
emerging, van Riebeek's automatic in the small of Mallin's back, when a
constabulary car grounded beside Rainsford's airjeep. It wasn't Car Three.
George Lunt jumped out, unsnapping the flap of his holster, while Ahmed
Khadra was talking into the radio.

"What's happened, Jack? Why didn't you wait till we got here?"

"This maniac assaulted me and murdered that man over there!" Kellogg began
vociferating.

"Is your name Jack too?" Lunt demanded.

"My name's Leonard Kellogg, and I'm a chief of division with the
Company--"

"Then keep quiet till I ask you something. Ahmed, call the post; get
Knabber and Yorimitsu, with investigative equipment, and find out what's
tying up Car Three."

Mallin had opened the first-aid kit by now; Gerd, on seeing the
constabulary, had holstered his pistol. Kellogg, still holding the sodden
tissues to his nose, was wanting to know what there was to investigate.

"There's the murderer; you have him red-handed. Why don't you arrest him?"

"Jack, let's get over where we can watch these people without having to
listen to them," Lunt said. He glanced toward the body of Goldilocks.
"That happen first?"

"Watch out, Lieutenant! He still has his pistol!" Mallin shouted
warningly.

They went over and sat down on the contragravity-field generator housing
one of the rented airjeeps. Jack started with Gerd van Riebeek's visit
immediately after noon.

"Yes, I thought of that angle myself," Lunt said disgustedly. "I didn't
think of it till this morning, though, and I didn't think things would
blow up as fast as this. Hell, I just didn't think! Well, go on."

He interrupted a little later to ask: "Kellogg was stamping on the Fuzzy
when you hit him. You were trying to stop him?"

"That's right. You can veridicate me on that if you want to."

"I will; I'll veridicate this whole damn gang. And this guy Borch had his
heater out when you turned around? Nothing to it, Jack. We'll have to have
some kind of a hearing, but it's just plain self-defense. Think any of
this gang will tell the truth here, without taking them in and putting
them under veridication?"

"Ruth Ortheris will, I think."

"Send her over here, will you."

She was still with the Fuzzies, and Ben Rainsford was standing beside her,
his camera ready. The Fuzzies were still swaying and yeeking plaintively.
She nodded and rose without speaking, going over to where Lunt waited.

"Just what did happen, Jack?" Rainsford wanted to know. "And whose side is
he on?" He nodded toward van Riebeek, standing guard over Kellogg and
Mallin, his thumbs in his pistol belt.

"Ours. He's quit the Company."

Just as he was finishing, Car Three put in an appearance; he had to tell
the same story over again. The area in front of the Kellogg camp was
getting congested; he hoped Mike Hennen's labor gang would stay away for a
while. Lunt talked to van Riebeek when he had finished with Ruth, and then
with Jimenez and Mallin and Kellogg. Then he and one of the men from Car
Three came over to where Jack and Rainsford were standing. Gerd van
Riebeek joined them just as Lunt was saying:

"Jack, Kellogg's made a murder complaint against you. I told him it was
self-defense, but he wouldn't listen. So, according to the book, I have to
arrest you."

"All right." He unbuckled his gun and handed it over. "Now, George, I
herewith make complaint and accusation against Leonard Kellogg, charging
him with the unlawful and unjustified killing of a sapient being, to wit,
an aboriginal native of the planet of Zarathustra commonly known as
Goldilocks."

Lunt looked at the small battered body and the six mourners around it.

"But, Jack, they aren't legally sapient beings."

"There is no such thing. A sapient being is a being on the mental level of
sapience, not a being that has been declared sapient."

"Fuzzies are sapient beings," Rainsford said. "That's the opinion of a
qualified xeno-naturalist."

"Two of them," Gerd van Riebeek said. "That is the body of a sapient
being. There's the man who killed her. Go ahead, Lieutenant, make your
pinch."

"Hey! Wait a minute!"

The Fuzzies were rising, sliding their chopper-diggers under the body of
Goldilocks and lifting it on the steel shafts. Ben Rainsford was aiming
his camera as Cinderella picked up her sister's weapon and followed,
carrying it; the others carried the body toward the far corner of the
clearing, away from the camp. Rainsford kept just behind them, pausing to
photograph and then hurrying to keep up with them.

They set the body down. Mike and Mitzi and Cinderella began digging; the
others scattered to hunt for stones. Coming up behind them, George Lunt
took off his beret and stood holding it in both hands; he bowed his head
as the grass-wrapped body was placed in the little grave and covered.

Then, when the cairn was finished, he replaced it, drew his pistol and
checked the chamber.

"That does it, Jack," he said. "I am now going to arrest Leonard Kellogg
for the murder of a sapient being."



VIII


Jack Holloway had been out on bail before, but never for quite so much. It
was almost worth it, though, to see Leslie Coombes's eyes widen and
Mohammed Ali O'Brien's jaw drop when he dumped the bag of sunstones,
blazing with the heat of the day and of his body, on George Lunt's
magisterial bench and invited George to pick out twenty-five thousand
sols' worth. Especially after the production Coombes had made of posting
Kellogg's bail with one of those precertified Company checks.

He looked at the whisky bottle in his hand, and then reached into the
cupboard for another one. One for Gus Brannhard, and one for the rest of
them. There was a widespread belief that that was why Gustavus Adolphus
Brannhard was practicing sporadic law out here in the boon docks of a
boon-dock planet, defending gun fighters and veldbeest rustlers. It
wasn't. Nobody on Zarathustra knew the reason, but it wasn't whisky.
Whisky was only the weapon with which Gus Brannhard fought off the memory
of the reason.

He was in the biggest chair in the living room, which was none too ample
for him; a mountain of a man with tousled gray-brown hair, his broad face
masked in a tangle of gray-brown beard. He wore a faded and grimy bush
jacket with clips of rifle cartridges on the breast, no shirt and a torn
undershirt over a shag of gray-brown chest hair. Between the bottoms of
his shorts and the tops of his ragged hose and muddy boots, his legs were
covered with hair. Baby Fuzzy was sitting on his head, and Mamma Fuzzy was
on his lap. Mike and Mitzi sat one on either knee. The Fuzzies had taken
instantly to Gus. Bet they thought he was a Big Fuzzy.

"Aaaah!" he rumbled, as the bottle and glass were placed beside him. "Been
staying alive for hours hoping for this."

"Well, don't let any of the kids get at it. Little Fuzzy trying to smoke
pipes is bad enough; I don't want any dipsos in the family, too."

Gus filled the glass. To be on the safe side, he promptly emptied it into
himself.

"You got a nice family, Jack. Make a wonderful impression in court--as
long as Baby doesn't try to sit on the judge's head. Any jury that sees
them and hears that Ortheris girl's story will acquit you from the box,
with a vote of censure for not shooting Kellogg, too."

"I'm not worried about that. What I want is Kellogg convicted."

"You better worry, Jack," Rainsford said. "You saw the combination against
us at the hearing."

Leslie Coombes, the Company's top attorney, had come out from Mallorysport
in a yacht rated at Mach 6, and he must have crowded it to the limit all
the way. With him, almost on a leash, had come Mohammed Ali O'Brien, the
Colonial Attorney General, who doubled as Chief Prosecutor. They had both
tried to get the whole thing dismissed--self-defense for Holloway, and
killing an unprotected wild animal for Kellogg. When that had failed, they
had teamed in flagrant collusion to fight the inclusion of any evidence
about the Fuzzies. After all it was only a complaint court; Lieutenant
Lunt, as a police magistrate, had only the most limited powers.

"You saw how far they got, didn't you?"

"I hope we don't wish they'd succeeded," Rainsford said gloomily.

"What do you mean, Ben?" Brannhard asked. "What do you think they'll do?"

"I don't know. That's what worries me. We're threatening the Zarathustra
Company, and the Company's too big to be threatened safely," Rainsford
replied. "They'll try to frame something on Jack."

"With veridication? That's ridiculous, Ben."

"Don't you think we can prove sapience?" Gerd van Riebeek demanded.

"Who's going to define sapience? And how?" Rainsford asked. "Why,
between them, Coombes and O'Brien can even agree to accept the
talk-and-build-a-fire rule."

"Huh-uh!" Brannhard was positive. "Court ruling on that, about forty years
ago, on Vishnu. Infanticide case, woman charged with murder in the death
of her infant child. Her lawyer moved for dismissal on the grounds that
murder is defined as the killing of a sapient being, a sapient being is
defined as one that can talk and build a fire, and a newborn infant can do
neither. Motion denied; the court ruled that while ability to speak and
produce fire is positive proof of sapience, inability to do either or both
does not constitute legal proof of nonsapience. If O'Brien doesn't know
that, and I doubt if he does, Coombes will." Brannhard poured another
drink and gulped it before the sapient beings around him could get at it.
"You know what? I will make a small wager, and I will even give odds, that
the first thing Ham O'Brien does when he gets back to Mallorysport will be
to enter _nolle prosequi_ on both charges. What I'd like would be for him
to _nol. pros._ Kellogg and let the charge against Jack go to court. He
would be dumb enough to do that himself, but Leslie Coombes wouldn't let
him."

"But if he throws out the Kellogg case, that's it," Gerd van Riebeek said.
"When Jack comes to trial, nobody'll say a mumblin' word about sapience."

"I will, and I will not mumble it. You all know colonial law on homicide.
In the case of any person killed while in commission of a felony, no
prosecution may be brought in any degree, against anybody. I'm going to
contend that Leonard Kellogg was murdering a sapient being, that Jack
Holloway acted lawfully in attempting to stop it and that when Kurt Borch
attempted to come to Kellogg's assistance he, himself, was guilty of
felony, and consequently any prosecution against Jack Holloway is illegal.
And to make that contention stick, I shall have to say a great many words,
and produce a great deal of testimony, about the sapience of Fuzzies."

"It'll have to be expert testimony," Rainsford said. "The testimony of
psychologists. I suppose you know that the only psychologists on this
planet are employed by the chartered Zarathustra Company." He drank what
was left of his highball, looked at the bits of ice in the bottom of his
glass and then rose to mix another one. "I'd have done the same as you
did, Jack, but I still wish this hadn't happened."

"_Huh!_" Mamma Fuzzy looked up, startled by the exclamation. "What do you
think Victor Grego's wishing, right now?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Victor Grego replaced the hand-phone. "Leslie, on the yacht," he said.
"They're coming in now. They'll stop at the hospital to drop Kellogg, and
then they're coming here."

Nick Emmert nibbled a canape. He had reddish hair, pale eyes and a wide,
bovine face.

"Holloway must have done him up pretty badly," he said.

"I wish Holloway'd killed him!" He blurted it angrily, and saw the
Resident General's shocked expression.

"You don't really mean that, Victor?"

"The devil I don't!" He gestured at the recorder-player, which had just
finished the tape of the hearing, transmitted from the yacht at
sixty-speed. "That's only a teaser to what'll come out at the trial. You
know what the Company's epitaph will be? _Kicked to death, along with a
Fuzzy, by Leonard Kellogg._"

Everything would have worked out perfectly if Kellogg had only kept his
head and avoided collision with Holloway. Why, even the killing of the
Fuzzy and the shooting of Borch, inexcusable as that had been, wouldn't
have been so bad if it hadn't been for that asinine murder complaint. That
was what had provoked Holloway's counter-complaint, which was what had
done the damage.

And, now that he thought of it, it had been one of Kellogg's people, van
Riebeek, who had touched off the explosion in the first place. He didn't
know van Riebeek himself, but Kellogg should have, and he had handled him
the wrong way. He should have known what van Riebeek would go along with
and what he wouldn't.

"But, Victor, they won't convict Leonard of murder," Emmert was saying.
"Not for killing one of those little things."

"'Murder shall consist of the deliberate and unjustified killing of any
sapient being, of any race,'" he quoted. "That's the law. If they can
prove in court that the Fuzzies are sapient beings...."

Then, some morning, a couple of deputy marshals would take Leonard Kellogg
out in the jail yard and put a bullet through the back of his head, which,
in itself, would be no loss. The trouble was, they would also be shooting
an irreparable hole in the Zarathustra Company's charter. Maybe Kellogg
could be kept out of court, at that. There wasn't a ship blasted off from
Darius without a couple of drunken spacemen being hustled aboard at the
last moment; with the job Holloway must have done, Kellogg should look
just right as a drunken spaceman. The twenty-five thousand sols' bond
could be written off; that was pennies to the Company. No, that would
still leave them stuck with the Holloway trial.

"You want me out of here when the others come, Victor?" Emmert asked,
popping another canape into his mouth.

"No, no; sit still. This will be the last chance we'll have to get
everybody together; after this, we'll have to avoid anything that'll look
like collusion."

"Well, anything I can do to help; you know that, Victor," Emmert said.

Yes, he knew that. If worst came to utter worst and the Company charter
were invalidated, he could still hang on here, doing what he could to
salvage something out of the wreckage--if not for the Company, then for
Victor Grego. But if Zarathustra were reclassified, Nick would be
finished. His title, his social position, his sinecure, his grafts and
perquisites, his alias-shrouded Company expense account--all out the
airlock. Nick would be counted upon to do anything he could--however much
that would be.

He looked across the room at the levitated globe, revolving imperceptibly
in the orange spotlight. It was full dark on Beta Continent now, where
Leonard Kellogg had killed a Fuzzy named Goldilocks and Jack Holloway had
killed a gunman named Kurt Borch. That angered him, too; hell of a gunman!
Clear shot at the broad of a man's back, and still got himself killed.
Borch hadn't been any better choice than Kellogg himself. What was the
matter with him; couldn't he pick men for jobs any more? And Ham O'Brien!
No, he didn't have to blame himself for O'Brien. O'Brien was one of Nick
Emmert's boys. And he hadn't picked Nick, either.

The squawk-box on the desk made a premonitory noise, and a feminine voice
advised him that Mr. Coombes and his party had arrived.

"All right; show them in."

Coombes entered first, tall suavely elegant, with a calm, untroubled face.
Leslie Coombes would wear the same serene expression in the midst of a
bombardment or an earthquake. He had chosen Coombes for chief attorney,
and thinking of that made him feel better. Mohammed Ali O'Brien was
neither tall, elegant nor calm. His skin was almost black--he'd been born
on Agni, under a hot B3 sun. His bald head glistened, and a big nose
peeped over the ambuscade of a bushy white mustache. What was it they said
about him? Only man on Zarathustra who could strut sitting down. And
behind them, the remnant of the expedition to Beta Continent--Ernst
Mallin, Juan Jimenez and Ruth Ortheris. Mallin was saying that it was a
pity Dr. Kellogg wasn't with them.

"I question that. Well, please be seated. We have a great deal to discuss,
I'm afraid."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Chief Justice Frederic Pendarvis moved the ashtray a few inches to the
right and the slender vase with the spray of starflowers a few inches to
the left. He set the framed photograph of the gentle-faced, white-haired
woman directly in front of him. Then he took a thin cigar from the silver
box, carefully punctured the end and lit it. Then, unable to think of
further delaying tactics, he drew the two bulky loose-leaf books toward
him and opened the red one, the criminal-case docket.

Something would have to be done about this; he always told himself so at
this hour. Shoveling all this stuff onto Central Courts had been all right
when Mallorysport had had a population of less than five thousand and
nothing else on the planet had had more than five hundred, but that time
was ten years past. The Chief Justice of a planetary colony shouldn't have
to wade through all this to see who had been accused of blotting the brand
on a veldbeest calf or who'd taken a shot at whom in a barroom. Well, at
least he'd managed to get a few misdemeanor and small-claims courts
established; that was something.

The first case, of course, was a homicide. It usually was. From Beta,
Constabulary Fifteen, Lieutenant George Lunt. Jack Holloway--so old Jack
had cut another notch on his gun--Cold Creek Valley, Federation citizen,
race Terran human; willful killing of a sapient being, to wit Kurt Borch,
Mallorysport, Federation citizen, race Terran human. Complainant, Leonard
Kellogg, the same. Attorney of record for the defendant, Gustavus Adolphus
Brannhard. The last time Jack Holloway had killed anybody, it had been a
couple of thugs who'd tried to steal his sunstones; it hadn't even gotten
into complaint court. This time he might be in trouble. Kellogg was a
Company executive. He decided he'd better try the case himself. The
Company might try to exert pressure.

The next charge was also homicide, from Constabulary, Beta Fifteen. He
read it and blinked. Leonard Kellogg, willful killing of a sapient being,
to wit, Jane Doe alias Goldilocks, aborigine, race Zarathustran Fuzzy,
complainant, Jack Holloway, defendant's attorney of record, Leslie
Coombes. In spite of the outrageous frivolity of the charge, he began to
laugh. It was obviously an attempt to ridicule Kellogg's own complaint out
of court. Every judicial jurisdiction ought to have at least one Gus
Brannhard to liven things up a little. Race Zarathustran Fuzzy!

Then he stopped laughing suddenly and became deadly serious, like an
engineer who finds a cataclysmite cartridge lying around primed and
connected to a discharger. He reached out to the screen panel and began
punching a combination. A spectacled young man appeared and greeted him
deferentially.

"Good morning, Mr. Wilkins," he replied. "A couple of homicides at the
head of this morning's docket--Holloway and Kellogg, both from Beta
Fifteen. What is known about them?"

The young man began to laugh. "Oh, your Honor, they're both a lot of
nonsense. Dr. Kellogg killed some pet belonging to old Jack Holloway, the
sunstone digger, and in the ensuing unpleasantness--Holloway can be very
unpleasant, if he feels he has to--this man Borch, who seems to have been
Kellogg's bodyguard, made the suicidal error of trying to draw a gun on
Holloway. I'm surprised at Lieutenant Lunt for letting either of those
charges get past hearing court. Mr. O'Brien has entered _nolle prosequi_
on both of them, so the whole thing can be disregarded."

Mohammed O'Brien knew a charge of cataclysmite when he saw one, too. His
impulse had been to pull the detonator. Well, maybe this charge ought to
be shot, just to see what it would bring down.

"I haven't approved the _nolle prosequi_ yet, Mr. Wilkins," he mentioned
gently. "Would you please transmit to me the hearing tapes on these cases,
at sixty-speed? I'll take them on the recorder of this screen. Thank you."

He reached out and made the necessary adjustments. Wilkins, the Clerk of
the Courts, left the screen, and returned. There was a wavering scream for
a minute and a half. Going to take more time than he had expected. Well....

       *       *       *       *       *

There wasn't enough ice in the glass, and Leonard Kellogg put more in.
Then there was too much, and he added more brandy. He shouldn't have
started drinking this early, be drunk by dinnertime if he kept it up, but
what else was there to do? He couldn't go out, not with his face like
this. In any case, he wasn't sure he wanted to.

They were all down on him. Ernst Mallin, and Ruth Ortheris, and even Juan
Jimenez. At the constabulary post, Coombes and O'Brien had treated him
like an idiot child who has to be hushed in front of company and coming
back to Mallorysport they had ignored him completely. He drank quickly,
and then there was too much ice in the glass again. Victor Grego had told
him he'd better take a vacation till the trial was over, and put Mallin in
charge of the division. Said he oughtn't to be in charge while the
division was working on defense evidence. Well, maybe; it looked like the
first step toward shoving him completely out of the Company.

He dropped into a chair and lit a cigarette. It tasted badly, and after a
few puffs he crushed it out. Well, what else could he have done? After
they'd found that little grave, he had to make Gerd understand what it
would mean to the Company. Juan and Ruth had been all right, but Gerd--The
things Gerd had called him; the things he'd said about the Company. And
then that call from Holloway, and the humiliation of being ordered out
like a tramp.

And then that disgusting little beast had come pulling at his clothes, and
he had pushed it away--well, kicked it maybe--and it had struck at him
with the little spear it was carrying. Nobody but a lunatic would give a
thing like that to an animal anyhow. And he had kicked it again, and it
had screamed....

The communication screen in the next room was buzzing. Maybe that was
Victor. He gulped the brandy left in the glass and hurried to it.

It was Leslie Coombes, his face remotely expressionless.

"Oh, hello, Leslie."

"Good afternoon, Dr. Kellogg." The formality of address was studiously
rebuking. "The Chief Prosecutor just called me; Judge Pendarvis has denied
the _nolle prosequi_ he entered in your case and in Mr. Holloway's, and
ordered both cases to trial."

"You mean they're actually taking this seriously?"

"It is serious. If you're convicted, the Company's charter will be almost
automatically voided. And, although this is important only to you
personally, you might, very probably, be sentenced to be shot." He
shrugged that off, and continued: "Now, I'll want to talk to you about
your defense, for which I am responsible. Say ten-thirty tomorrow, at my
office. I should, by that time, know what sort of evidence is going to be
used against you. I will be expecting you, Dr. Kellogg."

He must have said more than that, but that was all that registered.
Leonard wasn't really conscious of going back to the other room, until he
realized that he was sitting in his relaxer chair, filling the glass with
brandy. There was only a little ice in it, but he didn't care.

They were going to try him for murder for killing that little animal, and
Ham O'Brien had said they wouldn't, he'd promised he'd keep the case from
trial and he hadn't, they were going to try him anyhow and if they
convicted him they would take him out and shoot him for just killing a
silly little animal he had killed it he'd kicked it and jumped on it he
could still hear it screaming and feel the horrible soft crunching under
his feet....

He gulped what was left in the glass and poured and gulped more. Then he
staggered to his feet and stumbled over to the couch and threw himself
onto it, face down, among the cushions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Leslie Coombes found Nick Emmert with Victor Grego in the latter's office
when he entered. They both rose to greet him, and Grego said "You've
heard?"

"Yes. O'Brien called me immediately. I called my client--my client of
record, that is--and told him. I'm afraid it was rather a shock to him."

"It wasn't any shock to me," Grego said as they sat down. "When Ham
O'Brien's as positive about anything as he was about that, I always expect
the worst."

"Pendarvis is going to try the case himself," Emmert said. "I always
thought he was a reasonable man, but what's he trying to do now? Cut the
Company's throat?"

"He isn't anti-Company. He isn't pro-Company either. He's just pro-law.
The law says that a planet with native sapient inhabitants is a Class-IV
planet, and has to have a Class-IV colonial government. If Zarathustra is
a Class-IV planet, he wants it established, and the proper laws applied.
If it's a Class-IV planet, the Zarathustra Company is illegally chartered.
It's his job to put a stop to illegality. Frederic Pendarvis' religion is
the law, and he is its priest. You never get anywhere by arguing religion
with a priest."

They were both silent for a while after he had finished. Grego was looking
at the globe, and he realized, now, that while he was proud of it, his
pride was the pride in a paste jewel that stands for a real one in a bank
vault. Now he was afraid that the real jewel was going to be stolen from
him. Nick Emmert was just afraid.

"You were right yesterday, Victor. I wish Holloway'd killed that son of a
Khooghra. Maybe it's not too late--"

"Yes, it is, Nick. It's too late to do anything like that. It's too late
to do anything but win the case in court." He turned to Grego. "What are
your people doing?"

Grego took his eyes from the globe. "Ernest Mallin's studying all the
filmed evidence we have and all the descriptions of Fuzzy behavior, and
trying to prove that none of it is the result of sapient mentation. Ruth
Ortheris is doing the same, only she's working on the line of instinct and
conditioned reflexes and nonsapient, single-stage reasoning. She has a lot
of rats, and some dogs and monkeys, and a lot of apparatus, and some
technician from Henry Stenson's instrument shop helping her. Juan Jimenez
is studying mentation of Terran dogs, cats and primates, and Freyan
kholphs and Mimir black slinkers."

"He hasn't turned up any simian or canine parallels to that funeral, has
he?"

Grego said nothing, merely shook his head. Emmert muttered something
inaudible and probably indecent.

"I didn't think he had. I only hope those Fuzzies don't get up in court,
build a bonfire and start making speeches in Lingua Terra."

Nick Emmert cried out in panic. "You believe they're sapient yourself!"

"Of course. Don't you?"

Grego laughed sourly. "Nick thinks you have to believe a thing to prove
it. It helps but it isn't necessary. Say we're a debating team; we've been
handed the negative of the question. _Resolved: that Fuzzies are Sapient
Beings._ Personally, I think we have the short end of it, but that only
means we'll have to work harder on it."

"You know, I was on a debating team at college," Emmert said brightly.
When that was disregarded, he added: "If I remember, the first thing was
definition of terms."

Grego looked up quickly. "Leslie, I think Nick has something. What is the
legal definition of a sapient being?"

"As far as I know, there isn't any. Sapience is something that's just
taken for granted."

"How about talk-and-build-a-fire?"

He shook his head. "_People of the Colony of Vishnu_ versus _Emily
Morrosh_, 612 A.E." He told them about the infanticide case. "I was
looking up rulings on sapience; I passed the word on to Ham O'Brien. You
know, what your people will have to do will be to produce a definition of
sapience, acceptable to the court, that will include all known sapient
races and at the same time exclude the Fuzzies. I don't envy them."

"We need some Fuzzies of our own to study," Grego said.

"Too bad we can't get hold of Holloway's," Emmert said. "Maybe we could,
if he leaves them alone at his camp."

"No. We can't risk that." He thought for a moment. "Wait a moment. I think
we might be able to do it at that. Legally."



IX


Jack Holloway saw Little Fuzzy eying the pipe he had laid in the ashtray,
and picked it up, putting it in his mouth. Little Fuzzy looked
reproachfully at him and started to get down onto the floor. Pappy Jack
was mean; didn't he think a Fuzzy might want to smoke a pipe, too? Well,
maybe it wouldn't hurt him. He picked Little Fuzzy up and set him back on
his lap, offering the pipestem. Little Fuzzy took a puff. He didn't cough
over it; evidently he had learned how to avoid inhaling.

"They scheduled the Kellogg trial first," Gus Brannhard was saying, "and
there wasn't any way I could stop that. You see what the idea is? They'll
try him first, with Leslie Coombes running both the prosecution and the
defense, and if they can get him acquitted, it'll prejudice the sapience
evidence we introduce in your trial."

Mamma Fuzzy made another try at intercepting the drink he was hoisting,
but he frustrated that. Baby had stopped trying to sit on his head, and
was playing peek-a-boo from behind his whiskers.

"First," he continued, "they'll exclude every bit of evidence about the
Fuzzies that they can. That won't be much, but there'll be a fight to get
any of it in. What they can't exclude, they'll attack. They'll attack
credibility. Of course, with veridication, they can't claim anybody's
lying, but they can claim self-deception. You make a statement you
believe, true or false, and the veridicator'll back you up on it. They'll
attack qualifications on expert testimony. They'll quibble about
statements of fact and statements of opinion. And what they can't exclude
or attack, they'll accept, and then deny that it's proof of sapience.

"What the hell do they want for proof of sapience?" Gerd demanded.
"Nuclear energy and contragravity and hyperdrive?"

"They will have a nice, neat, pedantic definition of sapience, tailored
especially to exclude the Fuzzies, and they will present it in court and
try to get it accepted, and it's up to us to guess in advance what that
will be, and have a refutation of it ready, and also a definition of our
own."

"Their definition will have to include Khooghras. Gerd, do the Khooghras
bury their dead?"

"Hell, no; they eat them. But you have to give them this, they cook them
first."

"Look, we won't get anywhere arguing about what Fuzzies do and Khooghras
don't do," Rainsford said. "We'll have to get a definition of sapience.
Remember what Ruth said Saturday night?"

Gerd van Riebeek looked as though he didn't want to remember what Ruth had
said, or even remember Ruth herself. Jack nodded, and repeated it. "I got
the impression of non-sapient intelligence shading up to a sharp line, and
then sapience shading up from there, maybe a different color, or wavy
lines instead of straight ones."

"That's a good graphic representation," Gerd said. "You know, that line's
so sharp I'd be tempted to think of sapience as a result of mutation,
except that I can't quite buy the same mutation happening in the same way
on so many different planets."

Ben Rainsford started to say something, then stopped short when a
constabulary siren hooted over the camp. The Fuzzies looked up
interestedly. They knew what that was. Pappy Jack's friends in the blue
clothes. Jack went to the door and opened it, putting the outside light
on.

The car was landing; George Lunt, two of his men and two men in civilian
clothes were getting out. Both the latter were armed, and one of them
carried a bundle under his arm.

"Hello, George; come on in."

"We want to talk to you, Jack." Lunt's voice was strained, empty of warmth
or friendliness. "At least, these men do."

"Why, yes. Sure."

He backed into the room to permit them to enter. Something was wrong;
something bad had come up. Khadra came in first, placing himself beside
and a little behind him. Lunt followed, glancing quickly around and
placing himself between Jack and the gunrack and also the holstered
pistols on the table. The third trooper let the two strangers in ahead of
him, and then closed the door and put his back against it. He wondered if
the court might have cancelled his bond and ordered him into custody. The
two strangers--a beefy man with a scrubby black mustache, and a smaller
one with a thin, saturnine face--were looking expectantly at Lunt.
Rainsford and van Riebeek were on their feet. Gus Brannhard leaned over to
refill his glass, but did not rise.

"Let me have the papers," Lunt said to the beefy stranger.

The other took a folded document and handed it over.

"Jack, this isn't my idea," Lunt said. "I don't want to do it, but I have
to. I wouldn't want to shoot you, either, but you make any resistance and
I will. I'm no Kurt Borch; I know you, and I won't take any chances."

"If you're going to serve that paper, serve it," the bigger of the two
strangers said. "Don't stand yakking all night."

"Jack," Lunt said uncomfortably, "this is a court order to impound your
Fuzzies as evidence in the Kellogg case. These men are deputy marshals
from Central Courts; they've been ordered to bring the Fuzzies into
Mallorysport."

"Let me see the order, Jack," Brannhard said, still remaining seated.

Lunt handed it to Jack, and he handed it across to Brannhard. Gus had been
drinking steadily all evening; maybe he was afraid he'd show it if he
stood up. He looked at it briefly and nodded.

"Court order, all right, signed by the Chief Justice." He handed it back.
"They have to take the Fuzzies, and that's all there is to it. Keep that
order, though, and make them give you a signed and thumbprinted receipt.
Type it up for them now, Jack."

Gus wanted to busy him with something, so he wouldn't have to watch what
was going on. The smaller of the two deputies had dropped the bundle from
under his arm. It was a number of canvas sacks. He sat down at the
typewriter, closing his ears to the noises in the room, and wrote the
receipt, naming the Fuzzies and describing them, and specifying that they
were in good health and uninjured. One of them tried to climb to his lap,
yeeking frantically; it clutched his shirt, but it was snatched away. He
was finished with his work before the invaders were with theirs. They had
three Fuzzies already in sacks. Khadra was catching Cinderella. Ko-Ko and
Little Fuzzy had run for the little door in the outside wall, but Lunt was
standing with his heels against it, holding it shut; when they saw that,
both of them began burrowing in the bedding. The third trooper and the
smaller of the two deputies dragged them out and stuffed them into sacks.

He got to his feet, still stunned and only half comprehending, and took
the receipt out of the typewriter. There was an argument about it; Lunt
told the deputies to sign it or get the hell out without the Fuzzies. They
signed, inked their thumbs and printed after their signatures. Jack gave
the paper to Gus, trying not to look at the six bulging, writhing sacks,
or hear the frightened little sounds.

"George, you'll let them have some of their things, won't you?" he asked.

"Sure. What kind of things?"

"Their bedding. Some of their toys."

"You mean this junk?" The smaller of the two deputies kicked the
ball-and-stick construction. "All we got orders to take is the Fuzzies."

"You heard the gentleman." Lunt made the word sound worse than son of a
Khooghra. He turned to the two deputies. "Well, you have them; what are
you waiting for?"

Jack watched from the door as they put the sacks into the aircar, climbed
in after them and lifted out. Then he came back and sat down at the table.

"They don't know anything about court orders," he said. "They don't know
why I didn't stop it. They think Pappy Jack let them down."

"Have they gone, Jack?" Brannhard asked. "Sure?" Then he rose, reaching
behind him, and took up a little ball of white fur. Baby Fuzzy caught his
beard with both tiny hands, yeeking happily.

"Baby! They didn't get him!"

Brannhard disengaged the little hands from his beard and handed him over.

"No, and they signed for him, too." Brannhard downed what was left of his
drink, got a cigar out of his pocket and lit it. "Now, we're going to go
to Mallorysport and get the rest of them back."

"But.... But the Chief Justice signed that order. He won't give them back
just because we ask him to."

Brannhard made an impolite noise. "I'll bet everything I own Pendarvis
never saw that order. They have stacks of those things, signed in blank,
in the Chief of the Court's office. If they had to wait to get one of the
judges to sign an order every time they wanted to subpoena a witness or
impound physical evidence, they'd never get anything done. If Ham O'Brien
didn't think this up for himself, Leslie Coombes thought it up for him."

"We'll use my airboat," Gerd said. "You coming along, Ben? Let's get
started."

       *       *       *       *       *

He couldn't understand. The Big Ones in the blue clothes had been friends;
they had given the whistles, and shown sorrow when the killed one was put
in the ground. And why had Pappy Jack not gotten the big gun and stopped
them. It couldn't be that he was afraid; Pappy Jack was afraid of nothing.

The others were near, in bags like the one in which he had been put; he
could hear them, and called to them. Then he felt the edge of the little
knife Pappy Jack had made. He could cut his way out of this bag now and
free the others, but that would be no use. They were in one of the things
the Big Ones went up into the sky in, and if he got out now, there would
be nowhere to go and they would be caught at once. Better to wait.

The one thing that really worried him was that he would not know where
they were being taken. When they did get away, how would they ever find
Pappy Jack again?

       *       *       *       *       *

Gus Brannhard was nervous, showing it by being overtalkative, and that
worried Jack. He'd stopped twice at mirrors along the hallway to make sure
that his gold-threaded gray neckcloth was properly knotted and that his
black jacket was zipped up far enough and not too far. Now, in front of
the door marked THE CHIEF JUSTICE, he paused before pushing the button to
fluff his newly shampooed beard.

There were two men in the Chief Justice's private chambers. Pendarvis he
had seen once or twice, but their paths had never crossed. He had a good
face, thin and ascetic, the face of a man at peace with himself. With him
was Mohammed Ali O'Brien, who seemed surprised to see them enter, and then
apprehensive. Nobody shook hands; the Chief Justice bowed slightly and
invited them to be seated.

"Now," he continued, when they found chairs, "Miss Ugatori tells me that
you are making complaint against an action by Mr. O'Brien here."

"We are indeed, your Honor." Brannhard opened his briefcase and produced
two papers--the writ, and the receipt for the Fuzzies, handing them across
the desk. "My client and I wish to know upon what basis of legality your
Honor sanctioned this act, and by what right Mr. O'Brien sent his officers
to Mr. Holloway's camp to snatch these little people from their friend and
protector, Mr. Holloway."

The judge looked at the two papers. "As you know, Miss Ugatori took prints
of them when you called to make this appointment. I've seen them. But
believe me, Mr. Brannhard, this is the first time I have seen the original
of this writ. You know how these things are signed in blank. It's a
practice that has saved considerable time and effort, and until now they
have only been used when there was no question that I or any other judge
would approve. Such a question should certainly have existed in this case,
because had I seen this writ I would never have signed it." He turned to
the now fidgeting Chief Prosecutor. "Mr. O'Brien," he said, "one simply
does not impound sapient beings as evidence, as, say, one impounds a
veldbeest calf in a brand-alteration case. The fact that the sapience of
these Fuzzies is still _sub judice_ includes the presumption of its
possibility. Now you know perfectly well that the courts may take no
action in the face of the possibility that some innocent person may suffer
wrong."

"And, your Honor," Brannhard leaped into the breach, "it cannot be denied
that these Fuzzies have suffered a most outrageous wrong! Picture
them--no, picture innocent and artless children, for that is what these
Fuzzies are, happy trusting little children, who, until then, had known
only kindness and affection--rudely kidnapped, stuffed into sacks by
brutal and callous men--"

"Your Honor!" O'Brien's face turned even blacker than the hot sun of Agni
had made it. "I cannot hear officers of the court so characterized without
raising my voice in protest!"

"Mr. O'Brien seems to forget that he is speaking in the presence of two
eye witnesses to this brutal abduction."

"If the officers of the court need defense, Mr. O'Brien, the court will
defend them. I believe that you should presently consider a defense of
your own actions."

"Your Honor, I insist that I only acted as I felt to be my duty," O'Brien
said. "These Fuzzies are a key exhibit in the case of _People_ versus
_Kellogg_, since only by demonstration of their sapience can any
prosecution against the defendant be maintained."

"Then why," Brannhard demanded, "did you endanger them in this criminally
reckless manner?"

"Endanger them?" O'Brien was horrified. "Your Honor, I acted only to
insure their safety and appearance in court."

"So you took them away from the only man on this planet who knows anything
about their proper care, a man who loves them as he would his own human
children, and you subjected them to abuse, which, for all you knew, might
have been fatal to them."

Judge Pendarvis nodded. "I don't believe, Mr. Brannhard, that you have
overstated the case. Mr. O'Brien, I take a very unfavorable view of your
action in this matter. You had no right to have what are at least
putatively sapient beings treated in this way, and even viewing them as
mere physical evidence I must agree with Mr. Brannhard's characterization
of your conduct as criminally reckless. Now, speaking judicially, I order
you to produce those Fuzzies immediately and return them to the custody of
Mr. Holloway."

"Well, of course, your Honor." O'Brien had been growing progressively
distraught, and his face now had the gray-over-brown hue of a walnut
gunstock that has been out in the rain all day. "It'll take an hour or so
to send for them and have them brought here."

"You mean they're not in this building?" Pendarvis asked.

"Oh, no, your Honor, there are no facilities here. I had them taken to
Science Center--"

"_What?_"

Jack had determined to keep his mouth shut and let Gus do the talking. The
exclamation was literally forced out of him. Nobody noticed; it had also
been forced out of both Gus Brannhard and Judge Pendarvis. Pendarvis
leaned forward and spoke with dangerous mildness:

"Do you refer, Mr. O'Brien, to the establishment of the Division of
Scientific Study and Research of the chartered Zarathustra Company?"

"Why, yes; they have facilities for keeping all kinds of live animals, and
they do all the scientific work for--"

Pendarvis cursed blasphemously. Brannhard looked as startled as though his
own briefcase had jumped at his throat and tried to bite him. He didn't
look half as startled as Ham O'Brien did.

"So you think," Pendarvis said, recovering his composure with visible
effort, "that the logical custodian of prosecution evidence in a murder
trial is the defendant? Mr. O'Brien, you simply enlarge my view of the
possible!"

"The Zarathustra Company isn't the defendant," O'Brien argued sullenly.

"Not of record, no," Brannhard agreed. "But isn't the Zarathustra
Company's scientific division headed by one Leonard Kellogg?"

"Dr. Kellogg's been relieved of his duties, pending the outcome of the
trial. The division is now headed by Dr. Ernst Mallin."

"Chief scientific witness for the defense; I fail to see any practical
difference."

"Well, Mr. Emmert said it would be all right," O'Brien mumbled.

"Jack, did you hear that?" Brannhard asked. "Treasure it in your memory.
You may have to testify to it in court sometime." He turned to the Chief
Justice. "Your Honor, may I suggest the recovery of these Fuzzies be
entrusted to Colonial Marshal Fane, and may I further suggest that Mr.
O'Brien be kept away from any communication equipment until they are
recovered."

"That sounds like a prudent suggestion, Mr. Brannhard. Now, I'll give you
an order for the surrender of the Fuzzies, and a search warrant, just to
be on the safe side. And, I think, an Orphans' Court form naming Mr.
Holloway as guardian of these putatively sapient beings. What are their
names? Oh, I have them here on this receipt." He smiled pleasantly. "See,
Mr. O'Brien, we're saving you a lot of trouble."

O'Brien had little enough wit to protest. "But these are the defendant and
his attorney in another murder case I'm prosecuting," he began.

Pendarvis stopped smiling. "Mr. O'Brien, I doubt if you'll be allowed to
prosecute anything or anybody around here any more, and I am specifically
relieving you of any connection with either the Kellogg or the Holloway
trial, and if I hear any argument out of you about it, I will issue a
bench warrant for your arrest on charges of malfeasance in office."



X


Colonial Marshal Max Fane was as heavy as Gus Brannhard and considerably
shorter. Wedged between them on the back seat of the marshal's car, Jack
Holloway contemplated the backs of the two uniformed deputies on the front
seat and felt a happy smile spread through him. Going to get his Fuzzies
back. Little Fuzzy, and Ko-Ko, and Mike, and Mamma Fuzzy, and Mitzi, and
Cinderella; he named them over and imagined them crowding around him,
happy to be back with Pappy Jack.

The car settled onto the top landing stage of the Company's Science
Center, and immediately a Company cop came running up. Gus opened the
door, and Jack climbed out after him.

"Hey, you can't land here!" the cop was shouting. "This is for Company
executives only!"

Max Fane emerged behind them and stepped forward; the two deputies piled
out from in front.

"The hell you say, now," Fane said. "A court order lands anywhere. Bring
him along, boys; we wouldn't want him to go and bump himself on a
communication screen anywhere."

The Company cop started to protest, then subsided and fell in between the
deputies. Maybe it was beginning to dawn on him that the Federation courts
were bigger than the chartered Zarathustra Company after all. Or maybe he
just thought there'd been a revolution.

Leonard Kellogg's--temporarily Ernst Mallin's--office was on the first
floor of the penthouse, counting down from the top landing stage. When
they stepped from the escalator, the hall was crowded with office people,
gabbling excitedly in groups; they all stopped talking as soon as they saw
what was coming. In the division chief's outer office three or four girls
jumped to their feet; one of them jumped into the bulk of Marshal Fane,
which had interposed itself between her and the communication screen. They
were all shooed out into the hall, and one of the deputies was dropped
there with the prisoner. The middle office was empty. Fane took his
badgeholder in his left hand as he pushed through the door to the inner
office.

Kellogg's--temporarily Mallin's--secretary seemed to have preceded them by
a few seconds; she was standing in front of the desk sputtering
incoherently. Mallin, starting to rise from his chair, froze, hunched
forward over the desk. Juan Jimenez, standing in the middle of the room,
seemed to have seen them first; he was looking about wildly as though for
some way of escape.

Fane pushed past the secretary and went up to the desk, showing Mallin his
badge and then serving the papers. Mallin looked at him in bewilderment.

"But we're keeping those Fuzzies for Mr. O'Brien, the Chief Prosecutor,"
he said. "We can't turn them over without his authorization."

"This," Max Fane said gently, "is an order of the court, issued by Chief
Justice Pendarvis. As for Mr. O'Brien, I doubt if he's Chief Prosecutor
any more. In fact, I suspect that he's in jail. _And that_," he shouted,
leaning forward as far as his waistline would permit and banging on the
desk with his fist, "_is where I'm going to stuff you, if you don't get
those Fuzzies in here and turn them over immediately!_"

If Fane had suddenly metamorphosed himself into a damnthing, it couldn't
have shaken Mallin more. Involuntarily he cringed from the marshal, and
that finished him.

"But I can't," he protested. "We don't know exactly where they are at the
moment."

"You don't know." Fane's voice sank almost to a whisper. "You admit you're
holding them here, but you ... don't ... know ... where. _Now start over
again; tell the truth this time!_"

At that moment, the communication screen began making a fuss. Ruth
Ortheris, in a light blue tailored costume, appeared in it.

"Dr. Mallin, what _is_ going on here?" she wanted to know. "I just came in
from lunch, and a gang of men are tearing my office up. Haven't you found
the Fuzzies yet?"

"What's that?" Jack yelled. At the same time, Mallin was almost screaming:
"Ruth! Shut up! Blank out and get out of the building!"

With surprising speed for a man of his girth, Fane whirled and was in
front of the screen, holding his badge out.

"I'm Colonel Marshal Fane. Now, young woman; I want you up here right
away. Don't make me send anybody after you, because I won't like that and
neither will you."

"Right away, Marshal." She blanked the screen.

Fane turned to Mallin. "Now." He wasn't bothering with vocal tricks any
more. "Are you going to tell me the truth, or am I going to run you in and
put a veridicator on you? Where are those Fuzzies?"

"But I don't know!" Mallin wailed. "Juan, you tell him; you took charge of
them. I haven't seen them since they were brought here."

Jack managed to fight down the fright that was clutching at him and got
control of his voice.

"If anything's happened to those Fuzzies, you two are going to envy Kurt
Borch before I'm through with you," he said.

"All right, how about it?" Fane asked Jimenez. "Start with when you and
Ham O'Brien picked up the Fuzzies at Central Courts Building last night.

"Well, we brought them here. I'd gotten some cages fixed up for them,
and--"

Ruth Ortheris came in. She didn't try to avoid Jack's eyes, nor did she
try to brazen it out with him. She merely nodded distantly, as though
they'd met on a ship sometime, and sat down.

"What happened, Marshal?" she asked. "Why are you here with these
gentlemen?"

"The court's ordered the Fuzzies returned to Mr. Holloway." Mallin was in
a dither. "He has some kind a writ or something, and we don't know where
they are."

"Oh, _no!_" Ruth's face, for an instant, was dismay itself. "Not when--"
Then she froze shut.

"I came in about o-seven-hundred," Jimenez was saying, "to give them food
and water, and they'd broken out of their cages. The netting was broken
loose on one cage and the Fuzzy that had been in it had gotten out and let
the others out. They got into my office--they made a perfect shambles of
it--and got out the door into the hall, and now we don't know where they
are. And I don't know how they did any of it."

Cages built for something with no hands and almost no brains. Ever since
Kellogg and Mallin had come to the camp, Mallin had been hypnotizing
himself into the just-silly-little-animals doctrine. He must have
succeeded; last night he'd acted accordingly.

"We want to see the cages," Jack said.

"Yeah." Fane went to the outer door. "Miguel."

The deputy came in, herding the Company cop ahead of him.

"You heard what happened?" Fane asked.

"Yeah. Big Fuzzy jailbreak. What did they do, make little wooden pistols
and bluff their way out?"

"By God, I wouldn't put it past them. Come along. Bring Chummy along with
you; he knows the inside of this place better than we do. Piet, call in.
We want six more men. Tell Chang to borrow from the constabulary if he has
to."

"Wait a minute," Jack said. He turned to Ruth. "What do you know about
this?"

"Well, not much. I was with Dr. Mallin here when Mr. Grego--I mean, Mr.
O'Brien--called to tell us that the Fuzzies were going to be kept here
till the trial. We were going to fix up a room for them, but till that
could be done, Juan got some cages to put them in. That was all I knew
about it till o-nine-thirty, when I came in and found everything in an
uproar and was told that the Fuzzies had gotten loose during the night. I
knew they couldn't get out of the building, so I went to my office and lab
to start overhauling some equipment we were going to need with the
Fuzzies. About ten-hundred, I found I couldn't do anything with it, and my
assistant and I loaded it on a pickup truck and took it to Henry Stenson's
instrument shop. By the time I was through there, I had lunch and then
came back here."

He wondered briefly how a polyencephalographic veridicator would react to
some of those statements; might be a good idea if Max Fane found out.

"I'll stay here," Gus Brannhard was saying, "and see if I can get some
more truth out of these people."

"Why don't you screen the hotel and tell Gerd and Ben what's happened?" he
asked. "Gerd used to work here; maybe he could help us hunt."

"Good idea. Piet, tell our re-enforcements to stop at the Mallory on the
way and pick him up." Fane turned to Jimenez. "Come along; show us where
you had these Fuzzies and how they got away."

       *       *       *       *       *

"You say one of them broke out of his cage and then released the others,"
Jack said to Jimenez as they were going down on the escalator. "Do you
know which one it was?"

Jimenez shook his head. "We just took them out of the bags and put them
into the cages."

That would be Little Fuzzy; he'd always been the brains of the family.
With his leadership, they might have a chance. The trouble was that this
place was full of dangers Fuzzies knew nothing about--radiation and
poisons and electric wiring and things like that. If they really had
escaped. That was a possibility that began worrying Jack.

On each floor they passed going down, he could glimpse parties of Company
employees in the halls, armed with nets and blankets and other catching
equipment. When they got off Jimenez led them through a big room of glass
cases--mounted specimens and articulated skeletons of Zarathustran
mammals. More people were there, looking around and behind and even into
the cases. He began to think that the escape was genuine, and not just a
cover-up for the murder of the Fuzzies.

Jimenez took them down a narrow hall beyond to an open door at the end.
Inside, the permanent night light made a blue-white glow; a swivel chair
stood just inside the door. Jimenez pointed to it.

"They must have gotten up on that to work the latch and open the door," he
said.

It was like the doors at the camp, spring latch, with a handle instead of
a knob. They'd have learned how to work it from watching him. Fane was
trying the latch.

"Not too stiff," he said. "Your little fellows strong enough to work it?"

He tried it and agreed. "Sure. And they'd be smart enough to do it, too.
Even Baby Fuzzy, the one your men didn't get, would be able to figure that
out."

"And look what they did to my office," Jimenez said, putting on the
lights.

They'd made quite a mess of it. They hadn't delayed long to do it, just
thrown things around. Everything was thrown off the top of the desk. They
had dumped the wastebasket, and left it dumped. He saw that and chuckled.
The escape had been genuine all right.

"Probably hunting for things they could use as weapons, and doing as much
damage as they could in the process." There was evidently a pretty wide
streak of vindictiveness in Fuzzy character. "I don't think they like you,
Juan."

"Wouldn't blame them," Fane said. "Let's see what kind of a houdini they
did on these cages now."

The cages were in a room--file room, storeroom, junk room--behind
Jimenez's office. It had a spring lock, too, and the Fuzzies had dragged
one of the cages over and stood on it to open the door. The cages
themselves were about three feet wide and five feet long, with plywood
bottoms, wooden frames and quarter-inch netting on the sides and tops. The
tops were hinged, and fastened with hasps, and bolts slipped through the
staples with nuts screwed on them. The nuts had been unscrewed from five
and the bolts slipped out; the sixth cage had been broken open from the
inside, the netting cut away from the frame at one corner and bent back in
a triangle big enough for a Fuzzy to crawl through.

"I can't understand that," Jimenez was saying. "Why that wire looks as
though it had been cut."

"It was cut. Marshal, I'd pull somebody's belt about this, if I were you.
Your men aren't very careful about searching prisoners. One of the Fuzzies
hid a knife out on them." He remembered how Little Fuzzy and Ko-Ko had
burrowed into the bedding in apparently unreasoning panic, and explained
about the little spring-steel knives he had made. "I suppose he palmed it
and hugged himself into a ball, as though he was scared witless, when they
put him in the bag."

"Waited till he was sure he wouldn't get caught before he used it, too,"
the marshal said. "That wire's soft enough to cut easily." He turned to
Jimenez. "You people ought to be glad I'm ineligible for jury duty. Why
don't you just throw it in and let Kellogg cop a plea?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerd van Riebeek stopped for a moment in the doorway and looked into what
had been Leonard Kellogg's office. The last time he'd been here, Kellogg
had had him on the carpet about that land-prawn business. Now Ernst Mallin
was sitting in Kellogg's chair, trying to look unconcerned and not making
a very good job of it. Gus Brannhard sprawled in an armchair, smoking a
cigar and looking at Mallin as he would look at a river pig when he
doubted whether it was worth shooting it or not. A uniformed deputy turned
quickly, then went back to studying an elaborate wall chart showing the
interrelation of Zarathustran mammals--he'd made the original of that
chart himself. And Ruth Ortheris sat apart from the desk and the three
men, smoking. She looked up and then, when she saw that he was looking
past and away from her, she lowered her eyes.

"You haven't found them?" he asked Brannhard.

The fluffy-bearded lawyer shook his head. "Jack has a gang down in the
cellar, working up. Max is in the psychology lab, putting the Company cops
who were on duty last night under veridication. They all claim, and the
veridicator backs them up, that it was impossible for the Fuzzies to get
out of the building."

"They don't know what's impossible, for a Fuzzy."

"That's what I told him. He didn't give me any argument, either. He's
pretty impressed with how they got out of those cages."

Ruth spoke. "Gerd, we didn't hurt them. We weren't going to hurt them at
all. Juan put them in cages because we didn't have any other place for
them, but we were going to fix up a nice room, where they could play
together...." Then she must have seen that he wasn't listening, and
stopped, crushing out her cigarette and rising. "Dr. Mallin, if these
people haven't any more questions to ask me, I have a lot of work to do."

"You want to ask her anything, Gerd?" Brannhard inquired.

Once he had had something very important he had wanted to ask her. He was
glad, now, that he hadn't gotten around to it. Hell, she was so married to
the Company it'd be bigamy if she married him too.

"No, I don't want to talk to her at all."

She started for the door, then hesitated. "Gerd, I...." she began. Then
she went out. Gus Brannhard looked after her, and dropped the ash of his
cigar on Leonard Kellogg's--now Ernst Mallin's--floor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerd detested her, and she wouldn't have had any respect for him if he
didn't. She ought to have known that something like this would happen. It
always did, in the business. A smart girl, in the business, never got
involved with any one man; she always got herself four or five boyfriends,
on all possible sides, and played them off one against another.

She'd have to get out of the Science Center right away. Marshal Fane was
questioning people under veridication; she didn't dare let him get around
to her. She didn't dare go to her office; the veridicator was in the lab
across the hall, and that's where he was working. And she didn't dare--

Yes, she could do that, by screen. She went into an office down the hall;
a dozen people recognized her at once and began bombarding her with
questions about the Fuzzies. She brushed them off and went to a screen,
punching a combination. After a slight delay, an elderly man with a
thin-lipped, bloodless face appeared. When he recognized her, there was a
brief look of annoyance on the thin face.

"Mr. Stenson," she began, before he could say anything: "That apparatus I
brought to your shop this morning--the sensory-response detector--we've
made a simply frightful mistake. There's nothing wrong with it whatever,
and if anything's done with it, it may cause serious damage."

"I don't think I understand, Dr. Ortheris."

"Well, it was a perfectly natural mistake. You see, we're all at our wits'
end here. Mr. Holloway and his lawyer and the Colonial Marshal are here
with an order from Judge Pendarvis for the return of those Fuzzies. None
of us know what we're doing at all. Why the whole trouble with the
apparatus was the fault of the operator. We'll have to have it back
immediately, all of it."

"I see, Dr. Ortheris." The old instrument maker looked worried. "But I'm
afraid the apparatus has already gone to the workroom. Mr. Stephenson has
it now, and I can't get in touch with him at present. If the mistake can
be corrected, what do you want done?"

"Just hold it; I'll call or send for it."

She blanked the screen. Old Johnson, the chief data synthesist, tried to
detain her with some question.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson. I can't stop now. I have to go over to Company
House right away."

       *       *       *       *       *

The suite at the Hotel Mallory was crowded when Jack Holloway returned
with Gerd van Riebeek; it was noisy with voices, and the ventilators were
laboring to get rid of the tobacco smoke. Gus Brannhard, Ben Rainsford and
Baby Fuzzy were meeting the press.

"Oh, Mr. Holloway!" somebody shouted as he entered. "Have you found them
yet?"

"No; we've been all over Science Center from top to bottom. We know they
went down a few floors from where they'd been caged, but that's all. I
don't think they could have gotten outside; the only exit on the ground
level's through a vestibule where a Company policeman was on duty, and
there's no way for them to have climbed down from any of the terraces or
landing stages."

"Well, Mr. Holloway, I hate to suggest this," somebody else said, "but
have you eliminated the possibility that they may have hidden in a trash
bin and been dumped into the mass-energy converter?"

"We thought of that. The converter's underground, in a vault that can be
entered only by one door, and that was locked. No trash was disposed of
between the time they were brought there and the time the search started,
and everything that's been sent to the converter since has been checked
piece by piece."

"Well, I'm glad to hear that, Mr. Holloway, and I know that everybody
hearing this will be glad, too. I take it you've not given up looking for
them?"

"Are we on the air now? No, I have not; I'm staying here in Mallorysport
until I either find them or am convinced that they aren't in the city. And
I am offering a reward of two thousand sols apiece for their return to me.
If you'll wait a moment, I'll have descriptions ready for you...."

       *       *       *       *       *

Victor Grego unstoppered the refrigerated cocktail jug. "More?" he asked
Leslie Coombes.

"Yes, thank you." Coombes held his glass until it was filled. "As you say,
Victor, you made the decision, but you made it on my advice, and the
advice was bad."

He couldn't disagree, even politely, with that. He hoped it hadn't been
ruinously bad. One thing, Leslie wasn't trying to pass the buck, and
considering how Ham O'Brien had mishandled his end of it, he could have
done so quite plausibly.

"I used bad judgment," Coombes said dispassionately, as though discussing
some mistake Hitler had made, or Napoleon. "I thought O'Brien wouldn't try
to use one of those presigned writs, and I didn't think Pendarvis would
admit, publicly, that he signed court orders in blank. He's been severely
criticized by the press about that."

He hadn't thought Brannhard and Holloway would try to fight a court order
either. That was one of the consequences of being too long in a seemingly
irresistible position; you didn't expect resistance. Kellogg hadn't
expected Jack Holloway to order him off his land grant. Kurt Borch had
thought all he needed to do with a gun was pull it and wave it around. And
Jimenez had expected the Fuzzies to just sit in their cages.

"I wonder where they got to," Coombes was saying. "I understand they
couldn't be found at all in the building."

"Ruth Ortheris has an idea. She got away from Science Center before Fane
could get hold of her and veridicate her. It seems she and an assistant
took some apparatus out, about ten o'clock, in a truck. She thinks the
Fuzzies hitched a ride with her. I know that sounds rather improbable, but
hell, everything else sounds impossible. I'll have it followed up. Maybe
we can find them before Holloway does. They're not inside Science Center,
that's sure." His own glass was empty; he debated a refill and voted
against it. "O'Brien's definitely out, I take it?"

"Completely. Pendarvis gave him his choice of resigning or facing
malfeasance charges."

"They couldn't really convict him of malfeasance for that, could they?
Misfeasance, maybe, but--"

"They could charge him. And then they could interrogate him under
veridication about his whole conduct in office, and you know what they
would bring out," Coombes said. "He almost broke an arm signing his
resignation. He's still Attorney General of the Colony, of course; Nick
issued a statement supporting him. That hasn't done Nick as much harm as
O'Brien could do spilling what he knows about Residency affairs.

"Now Brannhard is talking about bringing suit against the Company, and
he's furnishing copies of all the Fuzzy films Holloway has to the news
services. Interworld News is going hog-wild with it, and even the services
we control can't play it down too much. I don't know who's going to be
prosecuting these cases; but whoever it is, he won't dare pull any
punches. And the whole thing's made Pendarvis hostile to us. I know, the
law and the evidence and nothing but the law and the evidence, but the
evidence is going to filter into his conscious mind through this
hostility. He's called a conference with Brannhard and myself for tomorrow
afternoon; I don't know what that's going to be like."



XI


The two lawyers had risen hastily when Chief Justice Pendarvis entered; he
responded to their greetings and seated himself at his desk, reaching for
the silver cigar box and taking out a panatela. Gustavus Adolphus
Brannhard picked up the cigar he had laid aside and began puffing on it;
Leslie Coombes took a cigarette from his case. They both looked at him,
waiting like two drawn weapons--a battle ax and a rapier.

"Well, gentlemen, as you know, we have a couple of homicide cases and
nobody to prosecute them," he began.

"Why bother, your Honor?" Coombes asked. "Both charges are completely
frivolous. One man killed a wild animal, and the other killed a man who
was trying to kill him."

"Well, your Honor, I don't believe my client is guilty of anything,
legally or morally," Brannhard said. "I want that established by an
acquittal." He looked at Coombes. "I should think Mr. Coombes would be
just as anxious to have his client cleared of any stigma of murder, too."

"I am quite agreed. People who have been charged with crimes ought to have
public vindication if they are innocent. Now, in the first place, I
planned to hold the Kellogg trial first, and then the Holloway trial. Are
you both satisfied with that arrangement?"

"Absolutely not, your Honor," Brannhard said promptly. "The whole basis of
the Holloway defense is that this man Borch was killed in commission of a
felony. We're prepared to prove that, but we don't want our case
prejudiced by an earlier trial."

Coombes laughed. "Mr. Brannhard wants to clear his client by preconvicting
mine. We can't agree to anything like that."

"Yes, and he is making the same objection to trying your client first.
Well, I'm going to remove both objections. I'm going to order the two
cases combined, and both defendants tried together."

A momentary glow of unholy glee on Gus Brannhard's face; Coombes didn't
like the idea at all.

"Your Honor, I trust that that suggestion was only made facetiously," he
said.

"It wasn't, Mr. Coombes."

"Then if your Honor will not hold me in contempt for saying so, it is the
most shockingly irregular--I won't go so far as to say improper--trial
procedure I've ever heard of. This is not a case of accomplices charged
with the same crime; this is a case of two men charged with different
criminal acts, and the conviction of either would mean the almost
automatic acquittal of the other. I don't know who's going to be named to
take Mohammed O'Brien's place, but I pity him from the bottom of my heart.
Why, Mr. Brannhard and I could go off somewhere and play poker while the
prosecutor would smash the case to pieces."

"Well, we won't have just one prosecutor, Mr. Coombes, we will have two.
I'll swear you and Mr. Brannhard in as special prosecutors, and you can
prosecute Mr. Brannhard's client, and he yours. I think that would remove
any further objections."

It was all he could do to keep his face judicially grave and unmirthful.
Brannhard was almost purring, like a big tiger that had just gotten the
better of a young goat; Leslie Coombes's suavity was beginning to crumble
slightly at the edges.

"Your Honor, that is a most excellent suggestion," Brannhard declared. "I
will prosecute Mr. Coombes's client with the greatest pleasure in the
universe."

"Well, all I can say, your Honor, is that if the first proposal was the
most irregular I had ever heard, the record didn't last long!"

"Why, Mr. Coombes, I went over the law and the rules of jurisprudence very
carefully, and I couldn't find a word that could be construed as
disallowing such a procedure."

"I'll bet you didn't find any precedent for it either!"

Leslie Coombes should have known better than that; in colonial law, you
can find a precedent for almost anything.

"How much do you bet, Leslie?" Brannhard asked, a larcenous gleam in his
eye.

"Don't let him take your money away from you. I found, inside an hour,
sixteen precedents, from twelve different planetary jurisdictions."

"All right, your Honor," Coombes capitulated. "But I hope you know what
you're doing. You're turning a couple of cases of the People of the Colony
into a common civil lawsuit."

Gus Brannhard laughed. "What else is it?" he demanded. "_Friends of Little
Fuzzy_ versus _The chartered Zarathustra Company_; I'm bringing action as
friend of incompetent aborigines for recognition of sapience, and Mr.
Coombes, on behalf of the Zarathustra Company, is contesting to preserve
the Company's charter, and that's all there is or ever was to this case."

That was impolite of Gus. Leslie Coombes had wanted to go on to the end
pretending that the Company charter had absolutely nothing to do with it.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was an unending stream of reports of Fuzzies seen here and there,
often simultaneously in impossibly distant parts of the city. Some were
from publicity seekers and pathological liars and crackpots; some were the
result of honest mistakes or overimaginativeness. There was some reason to
suspect that not a few had originated with the Company, to confuse the
search. One thing did come to light which heartened Jack Holloway. An
intensive if concealed search was being made by the Company police, and by
the Mallorysport police department, which the Company controlled.

Max Fane was giving every available moment to the hunt. This wasn't
because of ill will for the Company, though that was present, nor because
the Chief Justice was riding him. The Colonial Marshal was pro-Fuzzy. So
were the Colonial Constabulary, over whom Nick Emmert's administration
seemed to have little if any authority. Colonel Ian Ferguson, the
commandant, had his appointment direct from the Colonial Office on Terra.
He had called by screen to offer his help, and George Lunt, over on Beta,
screened daily to learn what progress was being made.

Living at the Hotel Mallory was expensive, and Jack had to sell some
sunstones. The Company gem buyers were barely civil to him; he didn't try
to be civil at all. There was also a noticeable coolness toward him at the
bank. On the other hand, on several occasions, Space Navy officers and
ratings down from Xerxes Base went out of their way to accost him,
introduce themselves, shake hands with him and give him their best wishes.

Once, in one of the weather-domed business centers, an elderly man with
white hair showing under his black beret greeted him.

"Mr. Holloway I want to tell you how grieved I am to learn about the
disappearance of those little people of yours," he said. "I'm afraid
there's nothing I can do to help you, but I hope they turn up safely."

"Why, thank you, Mr. Stenson." He shook hands with the old master
instrument maker. "If you could make me a pocket veridicator, to use on
some of these people who claim they saw them, it would be a big help."

"Well, I do make rather small portable veridicators for the constabulary,
but I think what you need is an instrument for detection of psychopaths,
and that's slightly beyond science at present. But if you're still
prospecting for sunstones, I have an improved micro-ray scanner I just
developed, and...."

He walked with Stenson to his shop, had a cup of tea and looked at the
scanner. From Stenson's screen, he called Max Fane. Six more people had
claimed to have seen the Fuzzies.

Within a week, the films taken at the camp had been shown so frequently on
telecast as to wear out their interest value. Baby, however, was still
available for new pictures, and in a few days a girl had to be hired to
take care of his fan mail. Once, entering a bar, Jack thought he saw Baby
sitting on a woman's head. A second look showed that it was only a
life-sized doll, held on with an elastic band. Within a week, he was
seeing Baby Fuzzy hats all over town, and shop windows were full of
life-sized Fuzzy dolls.

In the late afternoon, two weeks after the Fuzzies had vanished, Marshal
Fane dropped him at the hotel. They sat in the car for a moment, and Fane
said:

"I think this is the end of it. We're all out of cranks and exhibitionists
now."

He nodded. "That woman we were talking to. She's crazy as a bedbug."

"Yeah. In the past ten years she's confessed to every unsolved crime on
the planet. It shows you how hard up we are that I waste your time and
mine listening to her."

"Max, nobody's seen them. You think they just aren't, any more, don't
you?"

The fat man looked troubled. "Well, Jack, it isn't so much that nobody's
seen them. Nobody's seen any trace of them. There are land-prawns all
around, but nobody's found a cracked shell. And six active, playful,
inquisitive Fuzzies ought to be getting into things. They ought to be
raiding food markets, and fruit stands, getting into places and
ransacking. But there hasn't been a thing. The Company police have stopped
looking for them now."

"Well, I won't. They must be around somewhere." He shook Fane's hand, and
got out of the car. "You've been awfully helpful, Max. I want you to know
how much I thank you."

He watched the car lift away, and then looked out over the city--a vista
of treetop green, with roofs and the domes of shopping centers and
business centers and amusement centers showing through, and the angular
buttes of tall buildings rising above. The streetless contragravity city
of a new planet that had never known ground traffic. The Fuzzies could be
hiding anywhere among those trees--or they could all be dead in some
man-made trap. He thought of all the deadly places into which they could
have wandered. Machinery, dormant and quiet, until somebody threw a
switch. Conduits, which could be flooded without warning, or filled with
scalding steam or choking gas. Poor little Fuzzies, they'd think a city
was as safe as the woods of home, where there was nothing worse than
harpies and damnthings.

Gus Brannhard was out when he went down to the suite; Ben Rainsford was at
a reading screen, studying a psychology text, and Gerd was working at a
desk that had been brought in. Baby was playing on the floor with the
bright new toys they had gotten for him. When Pappy Jack came in, he
dropped them and ran to be picked up and held.

"George called," Gerd said. "They have a family of Fuzzies at the post
now."

"Well, that's great." He tried to make it sound enthusiastic. "How many?"

"Five, three males and two females. They call them Dr. Crippen, Dillinger,
Ned Kelly, Lizzie Borden and Calamity Jane."

Wouldn't it be just like a bunch of cops to hang names like that on
innocent Fuzzies?

"Why don't you call the post and say hello to them?" Ben asked.

"Baby likes them; he'd think it was fun to talk to them again."

He let himself be urged into it, and punched out the combination. They
were nice Fuzzies; almost, but of course not quite, as nice as his own.

"If your family doesn't turn up in time for the trial, have Gus subpoena
ours," Lunt told him. "You ought to have some to produce in court. Two
weeks from now, this mob of ours will be doing all kinds of things. You
ought to see them now, and we only got them yesterday afternoon."

He said he hoped he'd have his own by then; he realized that he was saying
it without much conviction.

They had a drink when Gus came in. He was delighted with the offer from
Lunt. Another one who didn't expect to see Pappy Jack's Fuzzies alive
again.

"I'm not doing a damn thing here," Rainsford said. "I'm going back to Beta
till the trial. Maybe I can pick up some ideas from George Lunt's Fuzzies.
I'm damned if I'm getting away from this crap!" He gestured at the reading
screen. "All I have is a vocabulary, and I don't know what half the words
mean." He snapped it off. "I'm beginning to wonder if maybe Jimenez
mightn't have been right and Ruth Ortheris is wrong. Maybe you can be just
a little bit sapient."

"Maybe it's possible to be sapient and not know it," Gus said. "Like the
character in the old French play who didn't know he was talking prose."

"What do you mean, Gus?" Gerd asked.

"I'm not sure I know. It's just an idea that occurred to me today. Kick it
around and see if you can get anything out of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I believe the difference lies in the area of consciousness," Ernst Mallin
was saying. "You all know, of course, the axiom that only one-tenth, never
more than one-eighth, of our mental activity occurs above the level of
consciousness. Now let us imagine a hypothetical race whose entire
mentation is conscious."

"I hope they stay hypothetical," Victor Grego, in his office across the
city, said out of the screen. "They wouldn't recognize us as sapient at
all."

"We wouldn't be sapient, as they'd define the term," Leslie Coombes, in
the same screen with Grego, said. "They'd have some equivalent of the
talk-and-build-a-fire rule, based on abilities of which we can't even
conceive."

Maybe, Ruth thought, they might recognize us as one-tenth to as much as
one-eighth sapient. No, then we'd have to recognize, say, a chimpanzee as
being one-one-hundredth sapient, and a flatworm as being sapient to the
order of one-billionth.

"Wait a minute," she said. "If I understand, you mean that nonsapient
beings think, but only subconsciously?"

"That's correct, Ruth. When confronted by some entirely novel situation, a
nonsapient animal will think, but never consciously. Of course, familiar
situations are dealt with by pure habit and memory-response."

"You know, I've just thought of something," Grego said. "I think we can
explain that funeral that's been bothering all of us in nonsapient terms."
He lit a cigarette, while they all looked at him expectantly. "Fuzzies,"
he continued, "bury their ordure: they do this to avoid an unpleasant
sense-stimulus, a bad smell. Dead bodies quickly putrefy and smell badly;
they are thus equated, subconsciously, with ordure and must be buried. All
Fuzzies carry weapons. A Fuzzy's weapon is--still subconsciously--regarded
as a part of the Fuzzy, hence it must also be buried."

Mallin frowned portentously. The idea seemed to appeal to him, but of
course he simply couldn't agree too promptly with a mere layman, even the
boss.

"Well, so far you're on fairly safe ground, Mr. Grego," he admitted.
"Association of otherwise dissimilar things because of some apparent
similarity is a recognized element of nonsapient animal behavior." He
frowned again. "That _could_ be an explanation. I'll have to think of it."

About this time tomorrow, it would be his own idea, with grudging
recognition of a suggestion by Victor Grego. In time, that would be
forgotten; it would be the Mallin Theory. Grego was apparently agreeable,
as long as the job got done.

"Well, if you can make anything out of it, pass it on to Mr. Coombes as
soon as possible, to be worked up for use in court," he said.



XII


Ben Rainsford went back to Beta Continent, and Gerd van Riebeek remained
in Mallorysport. The constabulary at Post Fifteen had made steel
chopper-diggers for their Fuzzies, and reported a gratifying abatement of
the land-prawn nuisance. They also made a set of scaled-down carpenter
tools, and their Fuzzies were building themselves a house out of scrap
crates and boxes. A pair of Fuzzies showed up at Ben Rainsford's camp, and
he adopted them, naming them Flora and Fauna.

Everybody had Fuzzies now, and Pappy Jack only had Baby. He was lying on
the floor of the parlor, teaching Baby to tie knots in a piece of string.
Gus Brannhard, who spent most of the day in the office in the Central
Courts building which had been furnished to him as special prosecutor, was
lolling in an armchair in red-and-blue pajamas, smoking a cigar, drinking
coffee--his whisky consumption was down to a couple of drinks a day--and
studying texts on two reading screens at once, making an occasional remark
into a stenomemophone. Gerd was at the desk, spoiling notepaper in an
effort to work something out by symbolic logic. Suddenly he crumpled a
sheet and threw it across the room, cursing. Brannhard looked away from
his screens.

"Trouble, Gerd?"

Gerd cursed again. "How the devil can I tell whether Fuzzies generalize?"
he demanded. "How can I tell whether they form abstract ideas? How can I
prove, even, that they have ideas at all? Hell's blazes, how can I even
prove, to your satisfaction, that I think consciously?"

"Working on that idea I mentioned?" Brannhard asked.

"I was. It seemed like a good idea but...."

"Suppose we go back to specific instances of Fuzzy behavior, and present
them as evidence of sapience?" Brannhard asked. "That funeral, for
instance."

"They'll still insist that we define sapience."

The communication screen began buzzing. Baby Fuzzy looked up
disinterestedly, and then went back to trying to untie a figure-eight knot
he had tied. Jack shoved himself to his feet and put the screen on. It was
Max Fane, and for the first time that he could remember, the Colonial
Marshal was excited.

"Jack, have you had any news on the screen lately?"

"No. Something turn up?"

"God, yes! The cops are all over the city hunting the Fuzzies; they have
orders to shoot on sight. Nick Emmert was just on the air with a reward
offer--five hundred sols apiece, dead or alive."

It took a few seconds for that to register. Then he became frightened. Gus
and Gerd were both on their feet and crowding to the screen behind him.

"They have some bum from that squatters' camp over on the East Side who
claims the Fuzzies beat up his ten-year-old daughter," Fane was saying.
"They have both of them at police headquarters, and they've handed the
story out to Zarathustra News, and Planetwide Coverage. Of course, they're
Company-controlled; they're playing it for all it's worth."

"Have they been veridicated?" Brannhard demanded.

"No, and the city cops are keeping them under cover. The girl says she was
playing outdoors and these Fuzzies jumped her and began beating her with
sticks. Her injuries are listed as multiple bruises, fractured wrist and
general shock."

"I don't believe it! They wouldn't attack a child."

"I want to talk to that girl and her father," Brannhard was saying. "And
I'm going to demand that they make their statements under veridication.
This thing's a frameup, Max; I'd bet my ears on it. Timing's just right;
only a week till the trial."

Maybe the Fuzzies had wanted the child to play with them, and she'd gotten
frightened and hurt one of them. A ten-year-old human child would look
dangerously large to a Fuzzy, and if they thought they were menaced they
would fight back savagely.

They were still alive and in the city. That was one thing. But they were
in worse danger than they had ever been; that was another. Fane was asking
Brannhard how soon he could be dressed.

"Five minutes? Good, I'll be along to pick you up," he said. "Be seeing
you."

Jack hurried into the bedroom he and Brannhard shared; he kicked off his
moccasins and began pulling on his boots. Brannhard, pulling his trousers
up over his pajama pants, wanted to know where he thought he was going.

"With you. I've got to find them before some dumb son of a Khooghra shoots
them."

"You stay here," Gus ordered. "Stay by the communication screen, and keep
the viewscreen on for news. But don't stop putting your boots on; you may
have to get out of here fast if I call you and tell you they've been
located. I'll call you as soon as I get anything definite."

Gerd had the screen on for news, and was getting Planetwide, openly owned
and operated by the Company. The newscaster was wrought up about the
brutal attack on the innocent child, but he was having trouble focusing
the blame. After all, who'd let the Fuzzies escape in the first place? And
even a skilled semanticist had trouble in making anything called a Fuzzy
sound menacing. At least he gave particulars, true or not.

The child, Lolita Lurkin, had been playing outside her home at about
twenty-one hundred when she had suddenly been set upon by six Fuzzies,
armed with clubs. Without provocation, they had dragged her down and
beaten her severely. Her screams had brought her father, and he had driven
the Fuzzies away. Police had brought both the girl and her father, Oscar
Lurkin, to headquarters, where they had told their story. City police,
Company police and constabulary troopers and parties of armed citizens
were combing the eastern side of the city; Resident General Emmert had
acted at once to offer a reward of five thousand sols apiece....

"The kid's lying, and if they ever get a veridicator on her, they'll prove
it", he said. "Emmert, or Grego, or the two of them together, bribed those
people to tell that story."

"Oh, I take that for granted," Gerd said. "I know that place. Junktown.
Ruth does a lot of work there for juvenile court." He stopped briefly,
pain in his eyes, and then continued: "You can hire anybody to do anything
over there for a hundred sols, especially if the cops are fixed in
advance."

He shifted to the Interworld News frequency; they were covering the Fuzzy
hunt from an aircar. The shanties and parked airjalopies of Junktown were
floodlighted from above; lines of men were beating the brush and poking
among them. Once a car passed directly below the pickup, a man staring at
the ground from it over a machine gun.

"Wooo! Am I glad I'm not in that mess!" Gerd exclaimed. "Anybody sees
something he thinks is a Fuzzy and half that gang'll massacre each other
in ten seconds."

"I hope they do!"

Interworld News was pro-Fuzzy; the commentator in the car was being
extremely sarcastic about the whole thing. Into the middle of one view of
a rifle-bristling line of beaters somebody in the studio cut a view of the
Fuzzies, taken at the camp, looking up appealingly while waiting for
breakfast. "These," a voice said, "are the terrible monsters against whom
all these brave men are protecting us."

A few moments later, a rifle flash and a bang, and then a fusillade
brought Jack's heart into his throat. The pickup car jetted toward it; by
the time it reached the spot, the shooting had stopped, and a crowd was
gathering around something white on the ground. He had to force himself to
look, then gave a shuddering breath of relief. It was a zaragoat, a
three-horned domesticated ungulate.

"Oh-Oh! Some squatter's milk supply finished." The commentator laughed.
"Not the first one tonight either. Attorney General--former Chief
Prosecutor--O'Brien's going to have quite a few suits against the
administration to defend as a result of this business."

"He's going to have a goddamn thundering big one from Jack Holloway!"

The communication screen buzzed; Gerd snapped it on.

"I just talked to Judge Pendarvis," Gus Brannhard reported out of it.
"He's issuing an order restraining Emmert from paying any reward except
for Fuzzies turned over alive and uninjured to Marshal Fane. And he's
issuing a warning that until the status of the Fuzzies is determined,
anybody killing one will face charges of murder."

"That's fine, Gus! Have you seen the girl or her father yet?"

Brannhard snarled angrily. "The girl's in the Company hospital, in a
private room. The doctors won't let anybody see her. I think Emmert's
hiding the father in the Residency. And I haven't seen the two cops who
brought them in, or the desk sergeant who booked the complaint, or the
detective lieutenant who was on duty here. They've all lammed out. Max has
a couple of men over in Junktown, trying to find out who called the cops
in the first place. We may get something out of that."

The Chief Justice's action was announced a few minutes later; it got to
the hunters a few minutes after that and the Fuzzy hunt began falling
apart. The City and Company police dropped out immediately. Most of the
civilians, hoping to grab five thousand sols' worth of live Fuzzy, stayed
on for twenty minutes, and so, apparently to control them, did the
constabulary. Then the reward was cancelled, the airborne floodlights went
off and the whole thing broke up.

Gus Brannhard came in shortly afterward, starting to undress as soon as he
heeled the door shut after him. When he had his jacket and neckcloth off,
he dropped into a chair, filled a water tumbler with whisky, gulped half
of it and then began pulling off his boots.

"If that drink has a kid sister, I'll take it," Gerd muttered. "What
happened, Gus?"

Brannhard began to curse. "The whole thing's a fake; it stinks from here
to Nifflheim. It would stink _on_ Nifflheim." He picked up a cigar butt he
had laid aside when Fane's call had come in and relighted it. "We found
the woman who called the police. Neighbor; she says she saw Lurkin come
home drunk, and a little later she heard the girl screaming. She says he
beats her up every time he gets drunk, which is about five times a week,
and she'd made up her mind to stop it the next chance she got. She denied
having seen anything that even looked like a Fuzzy anywhere around."

The excitement of the night before had incubated a new brood of Fuzzy
reports; Jack went to the marshal's office to interview the people making
them. The first dozen were of a piece with the ones that had come in
originally. Then he talked to a young man who had something of different
quality.

"I saw them as plain as I'm seeing you, not more than fifty feet away," he
said. "I had an autocarbine, and I pulled up on them, but gosh, I couldn't
shoot them. They were just like little people, Mr. Holloway, and they
looked so scared and helpless. So I held over their heads and let off a
two-second burst to scare them away before anybody else saw them and shot
them."

"Well, son, I'd like to shake your hand for that. You know, you thought
you were throwing away a lot of money there. How many did you see?"

"Well, only four. I'd heard that there were six, but the other two could
have been back in the brush where I didn't see them."

He pointed out on the map where it had happened. There were three other
people who had actually seen Fuzzies; none were sure how many, but they
were all positive about locations and times. Plotting the reports on the
map, it was apparent that the Fuzzies were moving north and west across
the outskirts of the city.

Brannhard showed up for lunch at the hotel, still swearing, but half
amusedly.

"They've exhumed Ham O'Brien, and they've put him to work harassing us,"
he said. "Whole flock of civil suits and dangerous-nuisance complaints and
that sort of thing; idea's to keep me amused with them while Leslie
Coombes is working up his case for the trial. Even tried to get the
manager here to evict Baby; I threatened him with a racial-discrimination
suit, and that stopped that. And I just filed suit against the Company for
seven million sols on behalf of the Fuzzies--million apiece for them and a
million for their lawyer."

"This evening," Jack said, "I'm going out in a car with a couple of Max's
deputies. We're going to take Baby, and we'll have a loud-speaker on the
car." He unfolded the city map. "They seem to be traveling this way; they
ought to be about here, and with Baby at the speaker, we ought to attract
their attention."

They didn't see anything, though they kept at it till dusk. Baby had a
wonderful time with the loud-speaker; when he yeeked into it, he produced
an ear-splitting noise, until the three humans in the car flinched every
time he opened his mouth. It affected dogs too; as the car moved back and
forth, it was followed by a chorus of howling and baying on the ground.

The next day, there were some scattered reports, mostly of small thefts. A
blanket spread on the grass behind a house had vanished. A couple of
cushions had been taken from a porch couch. A frenzied mother reported
having found her six-year-old son playing with some Fuzzies; when she had
rushed to rescue him, the Fuzzies had scampered away and the child had
begun weeping. Jack and Gerd rushed to the scene. The child's story,
jumbled and imagination-colored, was definite on one point--the Fuzzies
had been nice to him and hadn't hurt him. They got a recording of that on
the air at once.

When they got back to the hotel, Gus Brannhard was there, bubbling with
glee.

"The Chief Justice gave me another job of special prosecuting," he said.
"I'm to conduct an investigation into the possibility that this thing, the
other night, was a frame-up, and I'm to prepare complaints against anybody
who's done anything prosecutable. I have authority to hold hearings, and
subpoena witnesses, and interrogate them under veridication. Max Fane has
specific orders to cooperate. We're going to start, tomorrow, with Chief
of Police Dumont and work down. And maybe we can work up, too, as far as
Nick Emmert and Victor Grego." He gave a rumbling laugh. "Maybe that'll
give Leslie Coombes something to worry about."

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerd brought the car down beside the rectangular excavation. It was fifty
feet square and twenty feet deep, and still going deeper, with a power
shovel in it and a couple of dump scows beside. Five or six men in
coveralls and ankle boots advanced to meet them as they got out.

"Good morning, Mr. Holloway," one of them said. "It's right down over the
edge of the hill. We haven't disturbed anything."

"Mind running over what you saw again? My partner here wasn't in when you
called."

The foreman turned to Gerd. "We put off a couple of shots about an hour
ago. Some of the men, who'd gone down over the edge of the hill, saw these
Fuzzies run out from under that rock ledge down there, and up the hollow,
that way." He pointed. "They called me, and I went down for a look, and
saw where they'd been camping. The rock's pretty hard here, and we used
pretty heavy charges. Shock waves in the ground was what scared them."

They started down a path through the flower-dappled tall grass toward the
edge of the hill, and down past the gray outcropping of limestone that
formed a miniature bluff twenty feet high and a hundred in length. Under
an overhanging ledge, they found two cushions, a red-and-gray blanket, and
some odds and ends of old garments that looked as though they had once
been used for polishing rags. There was a broken kitchen spoon, and a cold
chisel, and some other metal articles.

"That's it, all right. I talked to the people who lost the blanket and the
cushions. They must have made camp last night, after your gang stopped
work; the blasting chased them out. You say you saw them go up that way?"
he asked, pointing up the little stream that came down from the mountains
to the north.

The stream was deep and rapid, too much so for easy fording by Fuzzies;
they'd follow it back into the foothills. He took everybody's names and
thanked them. If he found the Fuzzies himself and had to pay off on an
information-received basis, it would take a mathematical genius to decide
how much reward to pay whom.

"Gerd, if you were a Fuzzy, where would you go up there?" he asked.

Gerd looked up the stream that came rushing down from among the wooded
foothills.

"There are a couple more houses farther up," he said. "I'd get above them.
Then I'd go up one of those side ravines, and get up among the rocks,
where the damnthings couldn't get me. Of course, there are no damnthings
this close to town, but they wouldn't know that."

"We'll need a few more cars. I'll call Colonel Ferguson and see what he
can do for me. Max is going to have his hands full with this investigation
Gus started."

       *       *       *       *       *

Piet Dumont, the Mallorysport chief of police, might have been a good cop
once, but for as long as Gus Brannhard had known him, he had been what he
was now--an empty shell of unsupported arrogance, with a sagging waistline
and a puffy face that tried to look tough and only succeeded in looking
unpleasant. He was sitting in a seat that looked like an old fashioned
electric chair, or like one of those instruments of torture to which
beauty-shop customers submit themselves. There was a bright conical helmet
on his head, and electrodes had been clamped to various portions of his
anatomy. On the wall behind him was a circular screen which ought to have
been a calm turquoise blue, but which was flickering from dark blue
through violet to mauve. That was simple nervous tension and guilt and
anger at the humiliation of being subjected to veridicated interrogation.
Now and then there would be a stabbing flicker of bright red as he toyed
mentally with some deliberate misstatement of fact.

"You know, yourself, that the Fuzzies didn't hurt that girl," Brannhard
told him.

"I don't know anything of the kind," the police chief retorted. "All I
know's what was reported to me."

That had started out a bright red; gradually it faded into purple.
Evidently Piet Dumont was adopting a rules-of-evidence definition of
truth.

"Who told you about it?"

"Luther Woller. Detective lieutenant on duty at the time."

The veridicator agreed that that was the truth and not much of anything
but the truth.

"But you know that what really happened was that Lurkin beat the girl
himself, and Woller persuaded them both to say the Fuzzies did it," Max
Fane said.

"I don't know anything of the kind!" Dumont almost yelled. The screen
blazed red. "All I know's what they told me; nobody said anything else."
Red and blue, juggling in a typical quibbling pattern. "As far as I know,
it was the Fuzzies done it."

"Now, Piet," Fane told him patiently. "You've used this same veridicator
here often enough to know you can't get away with lying on it. Woller's
making you the patsy for this, and you know that, too. Isn't it true, now,
that to the best of your knowledge and belief those Fuzzies never touched
that girl, and it wasn't till Woller talked to Lurkin and his daughter at
headquarters that anybody even mentioned Fuzzies?"

The screen darkened to midnight blue, and then, slowly, it lightened.

"Yeah, that's true," Dumont admitted. He avoided their eyes, and his voice
was surly. "I thought that was how it was, and I asked Woller. He just
laughed at me and told me to forget it." The screen seethed momentarily
with anger. "That son of a Khooghra thinks he's chief, not me. One word
from me and he does just what he damn pleases!"

"Now you're being smart, Piet," Fane said. "Let's start all over...."

       *       *       *       *       *

A constabulary corporal was at the controls of the car Jack had rented
from the hotel: Gerd had taken his place in one of the two constabulary
cars. The third car shuttled between them, and all three talked back and
forth by radio.

"Mr. Holloway." It was the trooper in the car Gerd had been piloting.
"Your partner's down on the ground; he just called me with his portable.
He's found a cracked prawn-shell."

"Keep talking; give me direction," the corporal at the controls said,
lifting up.

In a moment, they sighted the other car, hovering over a narrow ravine on
the left bank of the stream. The third car was coming in from the north.
Gerd was still squatting on the ground when they let down beside him. He
looked up as they jumped out.

"This is it, Jack" he said. "Regular Fuzzy job."

So it was. Whatever they had used, it hadn't been anything sharp; the head
was smashed instead of being cleanly severed. The shell, however, had been
broken from underneath in the standard manner, and all four mandibles had
been broken off for picks. They must have all eaten at the prawn, share
alike. It had been done quite recently.

They sent the car up, and while all three of them circled about, they went
up the ravine on foot, calling: "Little Fuzzy! Little Fuzzy!" They found a
footprint, and then another, where seepage water had moistened the ground.
Gerd was talking excitedly into the portable radio he carried slung on his
chest.

"One of you, go ahead a quarter of a mile, and then circle back. They're
in here somewhere."

"I see them! I see them!" a voice whooped out of the radio. "They're going
up the slope on your right, among the rocks!"

"Keep them in sight; somebody come and pick us up, and we'll get above
them and head them off."

The rental car dropped quickly, the corporal getting the door open. He
didn't bother going off contragravity; as soon as they were in and had
pulled the door shut behind them, he was lifting again. For a moment, the
hill swung giddily as the car turned, and then Jack saw them, climbing the
steep slope among the rocks. Only four of them, and one was helping
another. He wondered which ones they were, what had happened to the other
two and if the one that needed help had been badly hurt.

The car landed on the top, among the rocks, settling at an awkward angle.
He, Gerd and the pilot piled out and started climbing and sliding down the
declivity. Then he found himself within reach of a Fuzzy and grabbed. Two
more dashed past him, up the steep hill. The one he snatched at had
something in his hand, and aimed a vicious blow at his face with it; he
had barely time to block it with his forearm. Then he was clutching the
Fuzzy and disarming him; the weapon was a quarter-pound ballpeen hammer.
He put it in his hip pocket and then picked up the struggling Fuzzy with
both hands.

"You hit Pappy Jack!" he said reproachfully. "Don't you know Pappy any
more? Poor scared little thing!"

The Fuzzy in his arms yeeked angrily. Then he looked, and it was no Fuzzy
he had ever seen before--not Little Fuzzy, nor funny, pompous Ko-Ko, nor
mischievous Mike. It was a stranger Fuzzy.

"Well, no wonder; of course you didn't know Pappy Jack. You aren't one of
Pappy Jack's Fuzzies at all!"

At the top, the constabulary corporal was sitting on a rock, clutching two
Fuzzies, one under each arm. They stopped struggling and yeeked piteously
when they saw their companion also a captive.

"Your partner's down below, chasing the other one," the corporal said.
"You better take these too; you know them and I don't."

"Hang onto them; they don't know me any better than they do you."

With one hand, he got a bit of Extee Three out of his coat and offered it;
the Fuzzy gave a cry of surprised pleasure, snatched it and gobbled it. He
must have eaten it before. When he gave some to the corporal, the other
two, a male and a female, also seemed familiar with it. From below, Gerd
was calling:

"I got one, It's a girl Fuzzy; I don't know if it's Mitzi or Cinderella.
And, my God, wait till you see what she was carrying."

Gerd came into sight, the fourth Fuzzy struggling under one arm and a
little kitten, black with a white face, peeping over the crook of his
other elbow. He was too stunned with disappointment to look at it with
more than vague curiosity.

"They aren't our Fuzzies, Gerd. I never saw any of them before."

"Jack, are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure!" He was indignant. "Don't you think I know my own
Fuzzies? Don't you think they'd know me?"

"Where'd the pussy come from?" the corporal wanted to know.

"God knows. They must have picked it up somewhere. She was carrying it in
her arms, like a baby."

"They're somebody's Fuzzies. They've been fed Extee Three. We'll take them
to the hotel. Whoever it is, I'll bet he misses them as much as I do
mine."

His own Fuzzies, whom he would never see again. The full realization
didn't hit him until he and Gerd were in the car again. There had been no
trace of his Fuzzies from the time they had broken out of their cages at
Science Center. This quartet had appeared the night the city police had
manufactured the story of the attack on the Lurkin girl, and from the
moment they had been seen by the youth who couldn't bring himself to fire
on them, they had left a trail that he had been able to pick up at once
and follow. Why hadn't his own Fuzzies attracted as much notice in the
three weeks since they had vanished?

Because his own Fuzzies didn't exist any more. They had never gotten out
of Science Center alive. Somebody Max Fane hadn't been able to question
under veridication had murdered them. There was no use, any more, trying
to convince himself differently.

"We'll stop at their camp and pick up the blanket and the cushions and the
rest of the things. I'll send the people who lost them checks," he said.
"The Fuzzies ought to have those things."



XIII


The management of the Hotel Mallory appeared to have undergone a change of
heart, or of policy, toward Fuzzies. It might have been Gus Brannhard's
threats of action for racial discrimination and the possibility that the
Fuzzies might turn out to be a race instead of an animal species after
all. The manager might have been shamed by the way the Lurkin story had
crumbled into discredit, and influenced by the revived public sympathy for
the Fuzzies. Or maybe he just decided that the chartered Zarathustra
Company wasn't as omnipotent as he'd believed. At any rate, a large room,
usually used for banquets, was made available for the Fuzzies George Lunt
and Ben Rainsford were bringing in for the trial, and the four strangers
and their black-and-white kitten were installed there. There were a lot of
toys of different sorts, courtesy of the management, and a big view
screen. The four strange Fuzzies dashed for this immediately and turned it
on, yeeking in delight as they watched landing craft coming down and
lifting out at the municipal spaceport. They found it very interesting. It
only bored the kitten.

With some misgivings, Jack brought Baby down and introduced him. They were
delighted with Baby, and Baby thought the kitten was the most wonderful
thing he had ever seen. When it was time to feed them, Jack had his own
dinner brought in, and ate with them. Gus and Gerd came down and joined
him later.

"We got the Lurkin kid and her father," Gus said, and then falsettoed:
"'Naw, Pop gimme a beatin', and the cops told me to say it was the
Fuzzies.'"

"She say that?"

"Under veridication, with the screen blue as a sapphire, in front of half
a dozen witnesses and with audiovisuals on. Interworld's putting it on the
air this evening. Her father admitted it, too; named Woller and the desk
sergeant. We're still looking for them; till we get them, we aren't any
closer to Emmert or Grego. We did pick up the two car cops, but they don't
know anything on anybody but Woller."

That was good enough, as far as it went, Brannhard thought, but it didn't
go far enough. There were those four strange Fuzzies showing up out of
nowhere, right in the middle of Nick Emmert's drive-hunt. They'd been kept
somewhere by somebody--that was how they'd learned to eat Extee Three and
found out about viewscreens. Their appearance was too well synchronized to
be accidental. The whole thing smelled to him of a booby trap.

One good thing had happened. Judge Pendarvis had decided that it would be
next to impossible, in view of the widespread public interest in the case
and the influence of the Zarathustra Company, to get an impartial jury,
and had proposed a judicial trial by a panel of three judges, himself one
of them. Even Leslie Coombes had felt forced to agree to that.

He told Jack about the decision. Jack listened with apparent
attentiveness, and then said:

"You know, Gus, I'll always be glad I let Little Fuzzy smoke my pipe when
he wanted to, that night out at camp."

The way he was feeling, he wouldn't have cared less if the case was going
to be tried by a panel of three zaragoats.

Ben Rainsford, his two Fuzzies, and George Lunt, Ahmed Khadra and the
other constabulary witnesses and their family, arrived shortly before noon
on Saturday. The Fuzzies were quartered in the stripped-out banquet room,
and quickly made friends with the four already there, and with Baby. Each
family bedded down apart, but they ate together and played with each
others' toys and sat in a clump to watch the viewscreen. At first, the
Ferny Creek family showed jealousy when too much attention was paid to
their kitten, until they decided that nobody was trying to steal it.

It would have been a lot of fun, eleven Fuzzies and a Baby Fuzzy and a
black-and-white kitten, if Jack hadn't kept seeing his own family, six
quiet little ghosts watching but unable to join the frolicking.

       *       *       *       *       *

Max Fane brightened when he saw who was on his screen.

"Well, Colonel Ferguson, glad to see you."

"Marshal," Ferguson was smiling broadly. "You'll be even gladder in a
minute. A couple of my men, from Post Eight, picked up Woller and that
desk sergeant, Fuentes."

"Ha!" He started feeling warm inside, as though he had just downed a slug
of Baldur honey-rum. "How?"

"Well, you know Nick Emmert has a hunting lodge down there. Post Eight
keeps an eye on it for him. This afternoon, one of Lieutenant Obefemi's
cars was passing over it, and they picked up some radiation and infrared
on their detectors, as though the power was on inside. When they went down
to investigate, they found Woller and Fuentes making themselves at home.
They brought them in, and both of them admitted under veridication that
Emmert had given them the keys and sent them down there to hide out till
after the trial.

"They denied that Emmert had originated the frameup. That had been one of
Woller's own flashes of genius, but Emmert knew what the score was and
went right along with it. They're being brought up here the first thing
tomorrow morning."

"Well, that's swell, Colonel! Has it gotten out to the news services yet?"

"No. We would like to have them both questioned here in Mallorysport, and
their confessions recorded, before we let the story out. Otherwise,
somebody might try to take steps to shut them up for good."

That had been what he had been thinking of. He said so, and Ferguson
nodded. Then he hesitated for a moment, and said:

"Max, do you like the situation here in Mallorysport? Be damned if I do."

"What do you mean?"

"There are too many strangers in town," Ian Ferguson said. "All the same
kind of strangers--husky-looking young men, twenty to thirty, going around
in pairs and small groups. I've been noticing it since day before last,
and there seem to be more of them every time I look around."

"Well, Ian, it's a young man's planet, and we can expect a big crowd in
town for the trial...."

He didn't really believe that. He just wanted Ian Ferguson to put a name
on it first. Ferguson shook his head.

"No, Max. This isn't a trial-day crowd. We both know what they're like;
remember when they tried the Gawn brothers? No whooping it up in bars, no
excitement, no big crap games; this crowd's just walking around, keeping
quiet, as though they expected a word from somebody."

"Infiltration." Goddamit, he'd said it first, himself after all! "Victor
Grego's worried about this."

"I know it, Max. And Victor Grego's like a veldbeest bull; he isn't
dangerous till he's scared, and then watch out. And against the gang
that's moving in here, the men you and I have together would last about as
long as a pint of trade-gin at a Sheshan funeral."

"You thinking of pushing the panic-button?"

The constabulary commander frowned. "I don't want to. A dim view would be
taken back on Terra if I did it without needing to. Dimmer view would be
taken of needing to without doing it, though. I'll make another check,
first."

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerd van Riebeek sorted the papers on the desk into piles, lit a cigarette
and then started to mix himself a highball.

"Fuzzies are members of a sapient race," he declared. "They reason
logically, both deductively and inductively. They learn by experiment,
analysis and association. They formulate general principles, and apply
them to specific instances. They plan their activities in advance. They
make designed artifacts, and artifacts to make artifacts. They are able to
symbolize, and convey ideas in symbolic form, and form symbols by
abstracting from objects.

"They have aesthetic sense and creativity," he continued. "They become
bored in idleness, and they enjoy solving problems for the pleasure of
solving them. They bury their dead ceremoniously, and bury artifacts with
them."

He blew a smoke ring, and then tasted his drink. "They do all these
things, and they also do carpenter work, blow police whistles, make eating
tools to eat land-prawns with and put molecule-model balls together.
Obviously they are sapient beings. But don't please don't ask me to define
sapience, because God damn it to Nifflheim, I still can't!"

"I think you just did," Jack said.

"No, that won't do. I need a definition."

"Don't worry, Gerd," Gus Brannhard told him. "Leslie Coombes will bring a
nice shiny new definition into court. We'll just use that."



XIV


They walked together, Frederic and Claudette Pendarvis, down through the
roof garden toward the landing stage, and, as she always did, Claudette
stopped and cut a flower and fastened it in his lapel.

"Will the Fuzzies be in court?" she asked.

"Oh, they'll have to be. I don't know about this morning; it'll be mostly
formalities." He made a grimace that was half a frown and half a smile. "I
really don't know whether to consider them as witnesses or as exhibits,
and I hope I'm not called on to rule on that, at least at the start.
Either way, Coombes or Brannhard would accuse me of showing prejudice."

"I want to see them. I've seen them on screen, but I want to see them for
real."

"You haven't been in one of my courts for a long time, Claudette. If I
find that they'll be brought in today, I'll call you. I'll even abuse my
position to the extent of arranging for you to see them outside the
courtroom. Would you like that?"

She'd love it. Claudette had a limitless capacity for delight in things
like that. They kissed good-bye, and he went to where his driver was
holding open the door of the aircar and got in. At a thousand feet he
looked back; she was still standing at the edge of the roof garden,
looking up.

He'd have to find out whether it would be safe for her to come in. Max
Fane was worried about the possibility of trouble, and so was Ian
Ferguson, and neither was given to timorous imaginings. As the car began
to descend toward the Central Courts buildings, he saw that there were
guards on the roof, and they weren't just carrying pistols--he caught the
glint of rifle barrels, and the twinkle of steel helmets. Then, as he came
in, he saw that their uniforms were a lighter shade of blue than the
constabulary wore. Ankle boots and red-striped trousers; Space Marines in
dress blues. So Ian Ferguson had pushed the button. It occurred to him
that Claudette might be safer here than at home.

A sergeant and a couple of men came up as he got out; the sergeant touched
the beak of his helmet in the nearest thing to a salute a Marine ever gave
anybody in civilian clothes.

"Judge Pendarvis? Good morning, sir."

"Good morning, sergeant. Just why are Federation Marines guarding the
court building?"

"Standing by, sir. Orders of Commodore Napier. You'll find that Marshal
Fane's people are in charge below-decks, but Marine Captain Casagra and
Navy Captain Greibenfeld are waiting to see you in your office."

As he started toward the elevators, a big Zarathustra Company car was
coming in. The sergeant turned quickly, beckoned a couple of his men and
went toward it on the double. He wondered what Leslie Coombes would think
about those Marines.

The two officers in his private chambers were both wearing sidearms. So,
also, was Marshal Fane, who was with them. They all rose to greet him,
sitting down when he was at his desk. He asked the same question he had of
the sergeant above.

"Well, Constabulary Colonel Ferguson called Commodore Napier last evening
and requested armed assistance, your Honor," the officer in Space Navy
black said. "He suspected, he said, that the city had been infiltrated. In
that, your Honor, he was perfectly correct; beginning Wednesday afternoon,
Marine Captain Casagra, here, on Commodore Napier's orders, began landing
a Marine infiltration force, preparatory to taking over the Residency.
That's been accomplished now; Commodore Napier is there, and both Resident
General Emmert and Attorney General O'Brien are under arrest, on a variety
of malfeasance and corrupt-practice charges, but that won't come into your
Honor's court. They'll be sent back to Terra for trial."

"Then Commodore Napier's taken over the civil government?"

"Well, say he's assumed control of it, pending the outcome of this trial.
We want to know whether the present administration's legal or not."

"Then you won't interfere with the trial itself?"

"That depends, your Honor. We are certainly going to participate." He
looked at his watch. "You won't convene court for another hour? Then
perhaps I'll have time to explain."

       *       *       *       *       *

Max Fane met them at the courtroom door with a pleasant greeting. Then he
saw Baby Fuzzy on Jack's shoulder and looked dubious.

"I don't know about him, Jack. I don't think he'll be allowed in the
courtroom."

"Nonsense!" Gus Brannhard told him. "I admit, he is both a minor child and
an incompetent aborigine, but he is the only surviving member of the
family of the decedent Jane Doe alias Goldilocks, and as such has an
indisputable right to be present."

"Well, just as long as you keep him from sitting on people's heads. Gus,
you and Jack sit over there; Ben, you and Gerd find seats in the witness
section."

It would be half an hour till court would convene, but already the
spectators' seats were full, and so was the balcony. The jury box, on the
left of the bench, was occupied by a number of officers in Navy black and
Marine blue. Since there would be no jury, they had apparently
appropriated it for themselves. The press box was jammed and bristling
with equipment.

Baby was looking up interestedly at the big screen behind the judges'
seats; while transmitting the court scene to the public, it also showed,
like a nonreversing mirror, the same view to the spectators. Baby wasn't
long in identifying himself in it, and waved his arms excitedly. At that
moment, there was a bustle at the door by which they had entered, and
Leslie Coombes came in, followed by Ernst Mallin and a couple of his
assistants, Ruth Ortheris, Juan Jimenez--and Leonard Kellogg. The last
time he had seen Kellogg had been at George Lunt's complaint court, his
face bandaged and his feet in a pair of borrowed moccasins because his
shoes, stained with the blood of Goldilocks, had been impounded as
evidence.

Coombes glanced toward the table where he and Brannhard were sitting,
caught sight of Baby waving to himself in the big screen and turned to
Fane with an indignant protest. Fane shook his head. Coombes protested
again, and drew another headshake. Finally he shrugged and led Kellogg to
the table reserved for them, where they sat down.

Once Pendarvis and his two associates--a short, roundfaced man on his
right, a tall, slender man with white hair and a black mustache on his
left--were seated, the trial got underway briskly. The charges were read,
and then Brannhard, as the Kellogg prosecutor, addressed the court--"being
known as Goldilocks ... sapient member of a sapient race ... willful and
deliberate act of the said Leonard Kellogg ... brutal and unprovoked
murder." He backed away, sat on the edge of the table and picked up Baby
Fuzzy, fondling him while Leslie Coombes accused Jack Holloway of brutally
assaulting the said Leonard Kellogg and ruthlessly shooting down Kurt
Borch.

"Well, gentlemen, I believe we can now begin hearing the witnesses," the
Chief Justice said. "Who will start prosecuting whom?"

Gus handed Baby to Jack and went forward: Coombes stepped up beside him.

"Your Honor, this entire trial hinges upon the question of whether a
member of the species _Fuzzy fuzzy holloway zarathustra_ is or is not a
sapient being," Gus said. "However, before any attempt is made to
determine this question, we should first establish, by testimony, just
what happened at Holloway's Camp, in Cold Creek Valley, on the afternoon
of June 19, Atomic Era Six Fifty-Four, and once this is established, we
can then proceed to the question of whether or not the said Goldilocks was
truly a sapient being."

"I agree," Coombes said equably. "Most of these witnesses will have to be
recalled to the stand later, but in general I think Mr. Brannhard's
suggestion will be economical of the court's time."

"Will Mr. Coombes agree to stipulate that any evidence tending to prove or
disprove the sapience of Fuzzies in general be accepted as proving or
disproving the sapience of the being referred to as Goldilocks?"

Coombes looked that over carefully, decided that it wasn't booby-trapped
and agreed. A deputy marshal went over to the witness stand, made some
adjustments and snapped on a switch at the back of the chair. Immediately
the two-foot globe in a standard behind it lit, a clear blue. George
Lunt's name was called; the lieutenant took his seat and the bright helmet
was let down over his head and the electrodes attached.

The globe stayed a calm, untroubled blue while he stated his name and
rank. Then he waited while Coombes and Brannhard conferred. Finally
Brannhard took a silver half-sol piece from his pocket, shook it between
cupped palms and slapped it onto his wrist. Coombes said, "Heads," and
Brannhard uncovered it, bowed slightly and stepped back.

"Now, Lieutenant Lunt," Coombes began, "when you arrived at the temporary
camp across the run from Holloway's camp, what did you find there?"

"Two dead people," Lunt said. "A Terran human, who had been shot three
times through the chest, and a Fuzzy, who had been kicked or trampled to
death."

"Your Honors!" Coombes expostulated, "I must ask that the witness be
requested to rephrase his answer, and that the answer he has just made be
stricken from the record. The witness, under the circumstances, has no
right to refer to the Fuzzies as 'people.'"

"Your Honors," Brannhard caught it up, "Mr. Coombes's objection is no less
prejudicial. He has no right, under the circumstances, to deny that the
Fuzzies be referred to as 'people.' This is tantamount to insisting that
the witness speak of them as nonsapient animals."

It went on like that for five minutes. Jack began doodling on a notepad.
Baby picked up a pencil with both hands and began making doodles too. They
looked rather like the knots he had been learning to tie. Finally, the
court intervened and told Lunt to tell, in his own words, why he went to
Holloway's camp, what he found there, what he was told and what he did.
There was some argument between Coombes and Brannhard, at one point, about
the difference between hearsay and _res gestae_. When he was through,
Coombes said, "No questions."

"Lieutenant, you placed Leonard Kellogg under arrest on a complaint of
homicide by Jack Holloway. I take it that you considered this complaint a
valid one?"

"Yes, sir. I believed that Leonard Kellogg had killed a sapient being.
Only sapient beings bury their dead."

Ahmed Khadra testified. The two troopers who had come in the other car,
and the men who had brought the investigative equipment and done the
photographing at the scene testified. Brannhard called Ruth Ortheris to
the stand, and, after some futile objections by Coombes, she was allowed
to tell her own story of the killing of Goldilocks, the beating of Kellogg
and the shooting of Borch. When she had finished, the Chief Justice rapped
with his gavel.

"I believe that this testimony is sufficient to establish the fact that
the being referred to as Jane Doe alias Goldilocks was in fact kicked and
trampled to death by the defendant Leonard Kellogg, and that the Terran
human known as Kurt Borch was in fact shot to death by Jack Holloway. This
being the case, we may now consider whether or not either or both of these
killings constitute murder within the meaning of the law. It is now eleven
forty. We will adjourn for lunch, and court will reconvene at fourteen
hundred. There are a number of things, including some alterations to the
courtroom, which must be done before the afternoon session.... Yes, Mr.
Brannhard?"

"Your Honors, there is only one member of the species _Fuzzy fuzzy
holloway zarathustra_ at present in court, an immature and hence
nonrepresentative individual." He picked up Baby and exhibited him. "If we
are to take up the question of the sapience of this species, or race,
would it not be well to send for the Fuzzies now staying at the Hotel
Mallory and have them on hand?"

"Well, Mr. Brannhard," Pendarvis said, "we will certainly want Fuzzies in
court, but let me suggest that we wait until after court reconvenes before
sending for them. It may be that they will not be needed this afternoon.
Anything else?" He tapped with his gavel. "Then court is adjourned until
fourteen hundred."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some alterations in the courtroom had been a conservative way of putting
it. Four rows of spectators' seats had been abolished, and the dividing
rail moved back. The witness chair, originally at the side of the bench,
had been moved to the dividing rail and now faced the bench, and a large
number of tables had been brought in and ranged in an arc with the witness
chair in the middle of it. Everybody at the tables could face the judges,
and also see everybody else by looking into the big screen. A witness on
the chair could also see the veridicator in the same way.

Gus Brannhard looked around, when he entered with Jack, and swore softly.

"No wonder they gave us two hours for lunch. I wonder what the idea is."
Then he gave a short laugh. "Look at Coombes; he doesn't like it a bit."

A deputy with a seating diagram came up to them.

"Mr. Brannhard, you and Mr. Holloway over here, at this table." He pointed
to one a little apart from the others, at the extreme right facing the
bench. "And Dr. van Riebeek, and Dr. Rainsford over here, please."

The court crier's loud-speaker, overhead, gave two sharp whistles and
began:

"Now hear this! Now hear this! Court will convene in five minutes--"

Brannhard's head jerked around instantly, and Jack's eyes followed his.
The court crier was a Space Navy petty officer.

"What the devil is this?" Brannhard demanded. "A Navy court-martial?"

"That's what I've been wondering, Mr. Brannhard," the deputy said.
"They've taken over the whole planet, you know."

"Maybe we're in luck, Gus. I've always heard that if you're innocent
you're better off before a court-martial and if you're guilty you're
better off in a civil court."

He saw Leslie Coombes and Leonard Kellogg being seated at a similar table
at the opposite side of the bench. Apparently Coombes had also heard that.
The seating arrangements at the other tables seemed a little odd too. Gerd
van Riebeek was next to Ruth Ortheris, and Ernst Mallin was next to Ben
Rainsford, with Juan Jimenez on his other side. Gus was looking up at the
balcony.

"I'll bet every lawyer on the planet's taking this in," he said. "Oh-oh!
See the white-haired lady in the blue dress, Jack? That's the Chief
Justice's wife. This is the first time she's been in court for years."

"Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! Rise for the Honorable Court!"

Somebody must have given the petty officer a quick briefing on courtroom
phraseology. He stood up, holding Baby Fuzzy, while the three judges filed
in and took their seats. As soon as they sat down, the Chief Justice
rapped briskly with his gavel.

"In order to forestall a spate of objections, I want to say that these
present arrangements are temporary, and so will be the procedures which
will be followed. We are not, at the moment, trying Jack Holloway or
Leonard Kellogg. For the rest of this day, and, I fear, for a good many
days to come, we will be concerned exclusively with determining the level
of mentation of _Fuzzy fuzzy holloway zarathustra_.

"For this purpose, we are temporarily abandoning some of the traditional
trial procedures. We will call witnesses; statements of purported fact
will be made under veridication as usual. We will also have a general
discussion, in which all of you at these tables will be free to
participate. I and my associates will preside; as we can't have everybody
shouting disputations at once, anyone wishing to speak will have to be
recognized. At least, I hope we will be able to conduct the discussion in
this manner.

"You will all have noticed the presence of a number of officers from
Xerxes Naval Base, and I suppose you have all heard that Commodore Napier
has assumed control of the civil government. Captain Greibenfeld, will you
please rise and be seen? He is here participating as _amicus curiae_, and
I have given him the right to question witnesses and to delegate that
right to any of his officers he may deem proper. Mr. Coombes and Mr.
Brannhard may also delegate that right as they see fit."

Coombes was on his feet at once. "Your Honors, if we are now to discuss
the sapience question, I would suggest that the first item on our order of
business be the presentation of some acceptable definition of sapience. I
should, for my part, very much like to know what it is that the Kellogg
prosecution and the Holloway defense mean when they use that term."

That's it. They want us to define it. Gerd van Riebeek was looking
chagrined; Ernst Mallin was smirking. Gus Brannhard, however, was pleased.

"Jack, they haven't any more damn definition than we do," he whispered.

Captain Greibenfeld, who had seated himself after rising at the request of
the court, was on his feet again.

"Your Honors, during the past month we at Xerxes Naval Base have been
working on exactly that problem. We have a very considerable interest in
having the classification of this planet established, and we also feel
that this may not be the last time a question of disputable sapience may
arise. I believe, your Honors, that we have approached such a definition.
However, before we begin discussing it, I would like the court's
permission to present a demonstration which may be of help in
understanding the problems involved."

"Captain Greibenfeld has already discussed this demonstration with me, and
it has my approval. Will you please proceed, Captain," the Chief Justice
said.

Greibenfeld nodded, and a deputy marshal opened the door on the right of
the bench. Two spacemen came in, carrying cartons. One went up to the
bench; the other started around in front of the tables, distributing small
battery-powered hearing aids.

"Please put them in your ears and turn them on," he said. "Thank you."

Baby Fuzzy tried to get Jack's. He put the plug in his ear and switched on
the power. Instantly he began hearing a number of small sounds he had
never heard before, and Baby was saying to him: "_He-inta sa-wa'aka; igga
sa geeda?_"

"Muhgawd, Gus, he's talking!"

"Yes, I hear him; what do you suppose--?"

"Ultrasonic; God, why didn't we think of that long ago?"

He snapped off the hearing aid. Baby Fuzzy was saying, "Yeeek." When he
turned it on again, Baby was saying, "_Kukk-ina za zeeva._"

"No, Baby, Pappy Jack doesn't understand. We'll have to be awfully
patient, and learn each other's language."

"_Pa-pee Jaaak!_" Baby cried. "_Ba-bee za-hinga; Pa-pee Jaak za zag ga
he-izza!_"

"That yeeking is just the audible edge of their speech; bet we have a lot
of transsonic tones in our voices, too."

"Well, he can hear what we say; he's picked up his name and yours."

"Mr. Brannhard, Mr. Holloway," Judge Pendarvis was saying, "may we please
have your attention? Now, have you all your earplugs in and turned on?
Very well; carry on, Captain."

This time, an ensign went out and came back with a crowd of enlisted men,
who had six Fuzzies with them. They set them down in the open space
between the bench and the arc of tables and backed away. The Fuzzies drew
together into a clump and stared around them, and he stared,
unbelievingly, at them. They couldn't be; they didn't exist any more. But
they were--Little Fuzzy and Mamma Fuzzy and Mike and Mitzi and Ko-Ko and
Cinderella. Baby whooped something and leaped from the table, and Mamma
came stumbling to meet him, clasping him in her arms. Then they all saw
him and began clamoring: "_Pa-pee Jaaak! Pa-pee Jaaak!_"

He wasn't aware of rising and leaving the table; the next thing he
realized, he was sitting on the floor, his family mobbing him and hugging
him, gabbling with joy. Dimly he heard the gavel hammering, and the voice
of Chief Justice Pendarvis: "Court is recessed for ten minutes!" By that
time, Gus was with him; gathering the family up, they carried them over to
their table.

They stumbled and staggered when they moved, and that frightened him for a
moment. Then he realized that they weren't sick or drugged. They'd just
been in low-G for a while and hadn't become reaccustomed to normal weight.
Now he knew why he hadn't been able to find any trace of them. He noticed
that each of them was wearing a little shoulder bag--a Marine Corps
first-aid pouch--slung from a webbing strap. Why the devil hadn't he
thought of making them something like that? He touched one and commented,
trying to pitch his voice as nearly like theirs as he could. They all
babbled in reply and began opening the little bags and showing him what
they had in them--little knives and miniature tools and bits of bright or
colored junk they had picked up. Little Fuzzy produced a tiny pipe with a
hardwood bowl, and a little pouch of tobacco from which he filled it.
Finally, he got out a small lighter.

"Your Honors!" Gus shouted, "I know court is recessed, but please observe
what Little Fuzzy is doing."

While they watched, Little Fuzzy snapped the lighter and held the flame to
the pipe bowl, puffing.

Across on the other side, Leslie Coombes swallowed once or twice and
closed his eyes.

When Pendarvis rapped for attention and declared court reconvened, he
said:

"Ladies and gentlemen, you have all seen and heard this demonstration of
Captain Greibenfeld's. You have heard these Fuzzies uttering what
certainly sounds like meaningful speech, and you have seen one of them
light a pipe and smoke. Incidentally, while smoking in court is
discountenanced, we are going to make an exception, during this trial, in
favor of Fuzzies. Other people will please not feel themselves
discriminated against."

That brought Coombes to his feet with a rush. He started around the table
and then remembered that under the new rules he didn't have to.

"Your Honors, I objected strongly to the use of that term by a witness
this morning; I must object even more emphatically to its employment from
the bench. I have indeed heard these Fuzzies make sounds which might be
mistaken for words, but I must deny that this is true speech. As to this
trick of using a lighter, I will undertake, in not more than thirty days,
to teach it to any Terran primate or Freyan kholph."

Greibenfeld rose immediately. "Your Honors, in the past thirty days, while
these Fuzzies were at Xerxes Naval Base, we have compiled a vocabulary of
a hundred-odd Fuzzy words, for all of which definite meanings have been
established, and a great many more for which we have not as yet learned
the meanings. We even have the beginning of a Fuzzy grammar. As for this
so-called trick of using a lighter, Little Fuzzy--we didn't know his name
then and referred to him as M2--learned that for himself, by observation.
We didn't teach him to smoke a pipe either; he knew that before we had
anything to do with him."

Jack rose while Greibenfeld was still speaking. As soon as the Space Navy
captain had finished, he said:

"Captain Greibenfeld, I want to thank you and your people for taking care
of the Fuzzies, and I'm very glad you learned how to hear what they're
saying, and thank you for all the nice things you gave them, but why
couldn't you have let me know they were safe? I haven't been very happy
the last month, you know."

"I know that, Mr. Holloway, and if it's any comfort to you, we were all
very sorry for you, but we could not take the risk of compromising our
secret intelligence agent in the Company's Science Center, the one who
smuggled the Fuzzies out the morning after their escape." He looked
quickly across in front of the bench to the table at the other end of the
arc. Kellogg was sitting with his face in his hands, oblivious to
everything that was going on, but Leslie Coombes's well-disciplined face
had broken, briefly, into a look of consternation. "By the time you and
Mr. Brannhard and Marshal Fane arrived with an order of the court for the
Fuzzies' recovery, they had already been taken from Science Center and
were on a Navy landing craft for Xerxes. We couldn't do anything without
exposing our agent. That, I am glad to say, is no longer a consideration."

"Well, Captain Greibenfeld," the Chief Justice said, "I assume you mean to
introduce further testimony about the observations and studies made by
your people on Xerxes. For the record, we'd like to have it established
that they were actually taken there, and when, and how."

"Yes, your Honor. If you will call the fourth name on the list I gave you,
and allow me to do the questioning, we can establish that."

The Chief Justice picked up a paper. "Lieutenant j.g. Ruth Ortheris, TFN
Reserve," he called out.

This time, Jack Holloway looked up into the big screen, in which he could
see everybody. Gerd van Riebeek, who had been trying to ignore the
existence of the woman beside him, had turned to stare at her in
amazement. Coombes's face was ghastly for an instant, then froze into
corpselike immobility: Ernst Mallin was dithering in incredulous anger;
beside him Ben Rainsford was grinning in just as incredulous delight. As
Ruth came around in front of the bench, the Fuzzies gave her an ovation;
they remembered and liked her. Gus Brannhard was gripping his arm and
saying: "Oh, brother! This is it, Jack; it's all over but shooting the
cripples!"

Lieutenant j.g. Ortheris, under a calmly blue globe, testified to coming
to Zarathustra as a Federation Naval Reserve officer recalled to duty with
Intelligence, and taking a position with the Company.

"As a regularly qualified doctor of psychology, I worked under Dr. Mallin
in the scientific division, and also with the school department and the
juvenile court. At the same time I was regularly transmitting reports to
Commander Aelborg, the chief of Intelligence on Xerxes. The object of this
surveillance was to make sure that the Zarathustra Company was not
violating the provisions of their charter or Federation law. Until the
middle of last month, I had nothing to report beyond some rather irregular
financial transactions involving Resident General Emmert. Then, on the
evening of June fifteen--"

That was when Ben had transmitted the tape to Juan Jimenez; she described
how it had come to her attention.

"As soon as possible, I transmitted a copy of this tape to Commander
Aelborg. The next night, I called Xerxes from the screen on Dr. van
Riebeek's boat and reported what I'd learned about the Fuzzies. I was then
informed that Leonard Kellogg had gotten hold of a copy of the
Holloway-Rainsford tape and had alerted Victor Grego; that Kellogg and
Ernst Mallin were being sent to Beta Continent with instructions to
prevent publication of any report claiming sapience for the Fuzzies and to
fabricate evidence to support an accusation that Dr. Rainsford and Mr.
Holloway were perpetrating a deliberate scientific hoax."

"Here, I'll have to object to this, your Honor," Coombes said, rising.
"This is nothing but hearsay."

"This is part of a Navy Intelligence situation estimate given to
Lieutenant Ortheris, based on reports we had received from other agents,"
Captain Greibenfeld said. "She isn't the only one we have on Zarathustra,
you know. Mr. Coombes, if I hear another word of objection to this
officer's testimony from you, I am going to ask Mr. Brannhard to subpoena
Victor Grego and question him under veridication about it."

"Mr. Brannhard will be more than happy to oblige, Commander," Gus said
loudly and distinctly.

Coombes sat down hastily.

"Well, Lieutenant Ortheris, this is most interesting, but at the moment,
what we're trying to establish is how these Fuzzies got to Xerxes Naval
Base," the chubby associate justice, Ruiz, put in.

"I'll try to get them there as quickly as possible, your Honor," she said.
"On the night of Friday the twenty-second, the Fuzzies were taken from Mr.
Holloway and brought into Mallorysport; they were turned over by Mohammed
O'Brien to Juan Jimenez, who took them to Science Center and put them in
cages in a room back of his office. They immediately escaped. I found
them, the next morning, and was able to get them out of the building, and
to turn them over to Commander Aelborg, who had come down from Xerxes to
take personal charge of the Fuzzy operation. I will not testify as to how
I was able to do this. I am at present and was then an officer of the
Terran Federation Armed Forces; the courts have no power to compel a
Federation officer to give testimony involving breach of military
security. I was informed, through my contact in Mallorysport, from time to
time, of the progress of the work of measuring the Fuzzies' mental level
there; I was able to pass on suggestions occasionally. Any time any of
these suggestions was based on ideas originating with Dr. Mallin, I was
careful to give him full credit."

Mallin looked singularly unappreciative.

Brannhard got up. "Before this witness is excused, I'd like to ask if she
knows anything about four other Fuzzies, the ones found by Jack Holloway
up Ferny Creek on Friday."

"Why, yes; they're my Fuzzies, and I was worried about them. Their names
are Complex, Syndrome, Id and Superego."

"Your Fuzzies, Lieutenant?"

"Well, I took care of them and worked with them; Juan Jimenez and some
Company hunters caught them over on Beta Continent. They were kept at a
farm center about five hundred miles north of here, which had been vacated
for the purpose. I spent all my time with them, and Dr. Mallin was with
them most of the time. Then, on Monday night, Mr. Coombes came and got
them."

"Mr. Coombes, did you say?" Gus Brannhard asked.

"Mr. Leslie Coombes, the Company attorney. He said they were needed in
Mallorysport. It wasn't till the next day that I found out what they were
needed for. They'd been turned loose in front of that Fuzzy hunt, in the
hope that they would be killed."

She looked across at Coombes; if looks were bullets, he'd have been deader
than Kurt Borch.

"Why would they sacrifice four Fuzzies merely to support a story that was
bound to come apart anyhow?" Brannhard asked.

"That was no sacrifice. They had to get rid of those Fuzzies, and they
were afraid to kill them themselves for fear they'd be charged with murder
along with Leonard Kellogg. Everybody, from Ernst Mallin down, who had
anything to do with them was convinced of their sapience. For one thing,
we'd been using those hearing aids ourselves; I suggested it, after
getting the idea from Xerxes. Ask Dr. Mallin about it, under veridication.
Ask him about the multiordinal polyencephalograph experiments, too."

"Well, we have the Holloway Fuzzies placed on Xerxes," the Chief Justice
said. "We can hear the testimony of the people who worked with them there
at any time. Now, I want to hear from Dr. Ernst Mallin."

Coombes was on his feet again. "Your Honors, before any further testimony
is heard, I would like to confer with my client privately."

"I fail to see any reason why we should interrupt proceedings for that
purpose, Mr. Coombes. You can confer as much as you wish with your client
after this session, and I can assure you that you will be called upon to
do nothing on his behalf until then." He gave a light tap with his gavel
and then said: "Dr. Ernst Mallin will please take the stand."



XV


Ernst Mallin shrank, as though trying to pull himself into himself, when
he heard his name. He didn't want to testify. He had been dreading this
moment for days. Now he would have to sit in that chair, and they would
ask him questions, and he couldn't answer them truthfully and the globe
over his head--

When the deputy marshal touched his shoulder and spoke to him, he didn't
think, at first, that his legs would support him. It seemed miles, with
all the staring faces on either side of him. Somehow, he reached the chair
and sat down, and they fitted the helmet over his head and attached the
electrodes. They used to make a witness take some kind of an oath to tell
the truth. They didn't any more. They didn't need to.

As soon as the veridicator was on, he looked up at the big screen behind
the three judges; the globe above his head was a glaring red. There was a
titter of laughter. Nobody in the Courtroom knew better than he what was
happening. He had screens in his laboratory that broke it all down into
individual patterns--the steady pulsing waves from the cortex, the alpha
and beta waves; beta-aleph and beta-beth and beta-gimel and beta-daleth.
The thalamic waves. He thought of all of them, and of the electromagnetic
events which accompanied brain activity. As he did, the red faded and the
globe became blue. He was no longer suppressing statements and
substituting other statements he knew to be false. If he could keep it
that way. But, sooner or later, he knew, he wouldn't be able to.

The globe stayed blue while he named himself and stated his professional
background. There was a brief flicker of red while he was listing his
publication--that paper, entirely the work of one of his students, which
he had published under his own name. He had forgotten about that, but his
conscience hadn't.

"Dr. Mallin," the oldest of the three judges, who sat in the middle,
began, "what, in your professional opinion, is the difference between
sapient and nonsapient mentation?"

"The ability to think consciously," he stated. The globe stayed blue.

"Do you mean that nonsapient animals aren't conscious, or do you mean they
don't think?"

"Well, neither. Any life form with a central nervous system has some
consciousness--awareness of existence and of its surroundings. And
anything having a brain thinks, to use the term at its loosest. What I
meant was that only the sapient mind thinks and knows that it is
thinking."

He was perfectly safe so far. He talked about sensory stimuli and
responses, and about conditioned reflexes. He went back to the first
century Pre-Atomic, and Pavlov and Korzybski and Freud. The globe never
flickered.

"The nonsapient animal is conscious only of what is immediately present to
the senses and responds automatically. It will perceive something and make
a single statement about it--this is good to eat, this sensation is
unpleasant, this is a sex-gratification object, this is dangerous. The
sapient mind, on the other hand, is conscious of thinking about these
sense stimuli, and makes descriptive statements about them, and then makes
statements about those statements, in a connected chain. I have a
structural differential at my seat; if somebody will bring it to me--"

"Well, never mind now, Dr. Mallin. When you're off the stand and the
discussion begins you can show what you mean. We just want your opinion in
general terms, now."

"Well, the sapient mind can generalize. To the nonsapient animal, every
experience is either totally novel or identical with some remembered
experience. A rabbit will flee from one dog because to the rabbit mind it
is identical with another dog that has chased it. A bird will be attracted
to an apple, and each apple will be a unique red thing to peck at. The
sapient being will say, 'These red objects are apples; as a class, they
are edible and flavorsome.' He sets up a class under the general label of
apples. This, in turn, leads to the formation of abstract ideas--redness,
flavor, et cetera--conceived of apart from any specific physical object,
and to the ordering of abstractions--'fruit' as distinguished from apples,
'food' as distinguished from fruit."

The globe was still placidly blue. The three judges waited, and he
continued:

"Having formed these abstract ideas, it becomes necessary to symbolize
them, in order to deal with them apart from the actual object. The sapient
being is a symbolizer, and a symbol communicator; he is able to convey to
other sapient beings his ideas in symbolic form."

"Like '_Pa-pee Jaak_'?" the judge on his right, with the black mustache,
asked.

The globe flashed red at once.

"Your Honors, I cannot consider words picked up at random and learned by
rote speech. The Fuzzies have merely learned to associate that sound with
a specific human, and use it as a signal, not as a symbol."

The globe was still red. The Chief Justice, in the middle, rapped with his
gavel.

"Dr. Mallin! Of all the people on this planet, you at least should know
the impossibility of lying under veridication. Other people just know it
can't be done; you know why. Now I'm going to rephrase Judge Janiver's
question, and I'll expect you to answer truthfully. If you don't I'm going
to hold you in contempt. When those Fuzzies cried out, 'Pappy Jack!' do
you or do you not believe that they were using a verbal expression which
stood, in their minds, for Mr. Holloway?"

He couldn't say it. This sapience was all a big fake; he had to believe
that. The Fuzzies were only little mindless animals.

But he didn't believe it. He knew better. He gulped for a moment.

"Yes, your Honor. The term 'Pappy Jack' is, in their minds, a symbol
standing for Mr. Jack Holloway."

He looked at the globe. The red had turned to mauve, the mauve was
becoming violet, and then clear blue. He felt better than he had felt
since the afternoon Leonard Kellogg had told him about the Fuzzies.

"Then Fuzzies do think consciously, Dr. Mallin?" That was Pendarvis.

"Oh, yes. The fact that they use verbal symbols indicates that, even
without other evidence. And the instrumental evidence was most impressive.
The mentation pictures we got by encephalography compare very favorably
with those of any human child of ten or twelve years old, and so does
their learning and puzzle-solving ability. On puzzles, they always think
the problem out first, and then do the mechanical work with about the same
mental effort, say, as a man washing his hands or tying his neckcloth."

The globe was perfectly blue. Mallin had given up trying to lie; he was
simply gushing out everything he thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

Leonard Kellogg slumped forward, his head buried in his elbows on the
table, and misery washed over him in tides.

_I am a murderer; I killed a person. Only a funny little person with fur,
but she was a person, and I knew it when I killed her, I knew it when I
saw that little grave out in the woods, and they'll put me in that chair
and make me admit it to everybody, and then they'll take me out in the
jail yard and somebody will shoot me through the head with a pistol,
and--_

_And all the poor little thing wanted was to show me her new jingle!_

       *       *       *       *       *

"Does anybody want to ask the witness any questions?" the Chief Justice
was asking.

"I don't," Captain Greibenfeld said. "Do you, Lieutenant?"

"No, I don't think so," Lieutenant Ybarra said. "Dr. Mallin's given us a
very lucid statement of his opinions."

He had, at that, after he'd decided he couldn't beat the veridicator. Jack
found himself sympathizing with Mallin. He'd disliked the man from the
first, but he looked different now--sort of cleaned and washed out inside.
Maybe everybody ought to be veridicated, now and then, to teach them that
honesty begins with honesty to self.

"Mr. Coombes?" Mr. Coombes looked as though he never wanted to ask another
witness another question as long as he lived. "Mr. Brannhard?"

Gus got up, holding a sapient member of a sapient race who was hanging
onto his beard, and thanked Ernst Mallin fulsomely.

"In that case, we'll adjourn until o-nine-hundred tomorrow. Mr. Coombes, I
have here a check on the chartered Zarathustra Company for twenty-five
thousand sols. I am returning it to you and I am canceling Dr. Kellogg's
bail," Judge Pendarvis said, as a couple of attendants began getting
Mallin loose from the veridicator.

"Are you also canceling Jack Holloway's?"

"No, and I would advise you not to make an issue of it, Mr. Coombes. The
only reason I haven't dismissed the charge against Mr. Holloway is that I
don't want to handicap you by cutting off your foothold in the
prosecution. I do not consider Mr. Holloway a bail risk. I do so consider
your client, Dr. Kellogg."

"Frankly, your Honor, so do I," Coombes admitted. "My protest was merely
an example of what Dr. Mallin would call conditioned reflex."

Then a crowd began pushing up around the table; Ben Rainsford, George Lunt
and his troopers, Gerd and Ruth, shoving in among them, their arms around
each other.

"We'll be at the hotel after a while, Jack," Gerd was saying. "Ruth and I
are going out for a drink and something to eat; we'll be around later to
pick up her Fuzzies."

Now his partner had his girl back, and his partner's girl had a Fuzzy
family of her own. This was going to be real fun. What were their names
now? Syndrome, Complex, Id and Superego. The things some people named
Fuzzies!



XVI


They stopped whispering at the door, turned right, and ascended to the
bench, bearing themselves like images in a procession, Ruiz first, then
himself and then Janiver. They turned to the screen so that the public
whom they served might see the faces of the judges, and then sat down. The
court crier began his chant. They could almost feel the tension in the
courtroom. Yves Janiver whispered to them:

"They all know about it."

As soon as the crier had stopped, Max Fane approached the bench, his face
blankly expressionless.

"Your Honors, I am ashamed to have to report that the defendant, Leonard
Kellogg, cannot be produced in court. He is dead; he committed suicide in
his cell last night. While in my custody," he added bitterly.

The stir that went through the courtroom was not shocked surprise, it was
a sigh of fulfilled expectation. They all knew about it.

"How did this happen, Marshal?" he asked, almost conversationally.

"The prisoner was put in a cell by himself; there was a pickup eye, and
one of my deputies was keeping him under observation by screen." Fane
spoke in a toneless, almost robotlike voice. "At twenty-two thirty, the
prisoner went to bed, still wearing his shirt. He pulled the blankets up
over his head. The deputy observing him thought nothing of that; many
prisoners do that, on account of the light. He tossed about for a while,
and then appeared to fall asleep.

"When a guard went in to rouse him this morning, the cot, under the
blanket, was found saturated with blood. Kellogg had cut his throat, by
sawing the zipper track of his shirt back and forth till he severed his
jugular vein. He was dead."

"Good heavens, Marshal!" He was shocked. The way he'd heard it, Kellogg
had hidden a penknife, and he was prepared to be severe with Fane about
it. But a thing like this! He found himself fingering the toothed track of
his own jacket zipper. "I don't believe you can be at all censured for not
anticipating a thing like that. It isn't a thing anybody would expect."

Janiver and Ruiz spoke briefly in agreement. Marshal Fane bowed slightly
and went off to one side.

Leslie Coombes, who seemed to be making a very considerable effort to look
grieved and shocked, rose.

"Your Honors, I find myself here without a client," he said. "In fact, I
find myself here without any business at all; the case against Mr.
Holloway is absolutely insupportable. He shot a man who was trying to kill
him, and that's all there is to it. I therefore pray your Honors to
dismiss the case against him and discharge him from custody."

Captain Greibenfeld bounded to his feet.

"Your Honors, I fully realize that the defendant is now beyond the
jurisdiction of this court, but let me point out that I and my associates
are here participating in this case in the hope that the classification of
this planet may be determined, and some adequate definition of sapience
established. These are most serious questions, your Honors."

"But, your Honors," Coombes protested, "we can't go through the farce of
trying a dead man."

"_People of the Colony of Baphomet_ versus _Jamshar Singh, Deceased_,
charge of arson and sabotage, A.E. 604," the Honorable Gustavus Adolphus
Brannhard interrupted.

Yes, you could find a precedent in colonial law for almost anything.

Jack Holloway was on his feet, a Fuzzy cradled in the crook of his left
arm, his white mustache bristling truculently.

"I am not a dead man, your Honors, and I am on trial here. The reason I'm
not dead is why I am on trial. My defense is that I shot Kurt Borch while
he was aiding and abetting in the killing of a Fuzzy. I want it
established in this court that it is murder to kill a Fuzzy."

The judge nodded slowly. "I will not dismiss the charges against Mr.
Holloway," he said. "Mr. Holloway had been arraigned on a charge of
murder; if he is not guilty, he is entitled to the vindication of an
acquittal. I am afraid, Mr. Coombes, that you will have to go on
prosecuting him."

Another brief stir, like a breath of wind over a grain field, ran through
the courtroom. The show was going on after all.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the Fuzzies were in court this morning; Jack's six, and the five from
the constabulary post, and Ben's Flora and Fauna, and the four Ruth
Ortheris claimed. There was too much discussion going on for anybody to
keep an eye on them. Finally one of the constabulary Fuzzies, either
Dillinger or Dr. Crippen, and Ben Rainsford's Flora and Fauna, came
sauntering out into the open space between the tables and the bench
dragging the hose of a vacuum-duster. Ahmed Khadra ducked under a table
and tried to get it away from them. This was wonderful; screaming in
delight, they all laid hold of the other end, and Mike and Mitzi and
Superego and Complex ran to help them. The seven of them dragged Khadra
about ten feet before he gave up and let go. At the same time, an
incipient fight broke out on the other side of the arc of tables between
the head of the language department at Mallorysport Academy and a
spinsterish amateur phoneticist. At this point, Judge Pendarvis, deciding
that if you can't prevent it, relax and enjoy it, rapped a few times with
his gavel, and announced that court was recessed.

"You will all please remain here; this is not an adjournment, and if any
of the various groups who seem to be discussing different aspects of the
problem reach any conclusion they feel should be presented in evidence,
will they please notify the bench so that court can be reconvened. In any
case, we will reconvene at eleven thirty."

Somebody wanted to know if smoking would be permitted during the recess.
The Chief Justice said that it would. He got out a cigar and lit it. Mamma
Fuzzy wanted a puff: she didn't like it. Out of the corner of his eye, he
saw Mike and Mitzi, Flora and Fauna scampering around and up the steps
behind the bench. When he looked again, they were all up on it, and Mitzi
was showing the court what she had in her shoulder bag.

He got up, with Mamma and Baby, and crossed to where Leslie Coombes was
sitting. By this time, somebody was bringing in a coffee urn from the
cafeteria. Fuzzies ought to happen oftener in court.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gavel tapped slowly. Little Fuzzy scrambled up onto Jack Holloway's
lap. After five days in court, they had all learned that the gavel meant
for Fuzzies and other people to be quiet. It might be a good idea, Jack
thought, to make a little gavel, when he got home, and keep it on the
table in the living room for when the family got too boisterous. Baby, who
wasn't gavel-trained yet, started out onto the floor; Mamma dashed after
him and brought him back under the table.

The place looked like a courtroom again. The tables were ranged in a neat
row facing the bench, and the witness chair and the jury box were back
where they belonged. The ashtrays and the coffee urn and the ice tubs for
beer and soft drinks had vanished. It looked like the party was over. He
was almost regretful; it had been fun. Especially for seventeen Fuzzies
and a Baby Fuzzy and a little black-and-white kitten.

There was one unusual feature; there was now a fourth man on the bench, in
gold-braided Navy black; sitting a little apart from the judges, trying to
look as though he weren't there at all--Space Commodore Alex Napier.

Judge Pendarvis laid down his gavel. "Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready
to present the opinions you have reached?" he asked.

Lieutenant Ybarra, the Navy psychologist, rose. There was a reading screen
in front of him; he snapped it on.

"Your Honors," he began, "there still exists considerable difference of
opinion on matters of detail but we are in agreement on all major points.
This is quite a lengthy report, and it has already been incorporated into
the permanent record. Have I the court's permission to summarize it?"

The court told him he had. Ybarra glanced down at the screen in front of
him and continued:

"It is our opinion," he said, "that sapience may be defined as differing
from nonsapience in that it is characterized by conscious thought, by
ability to think in logical sequence and by ability to think in terms
other than mere sense data. We--meaning every member of every sapient
race--think consciously, and we know what we are thinking. This is not to
say that all our mental activity is conscious. The science of psychology
is based, to a large extent, upon our realization that only a small
portion of our mental activity occurs above the level of consciousness,
and for centuries we have been diagraming the mind as an iceberg,
one-tenth exposed and nine-tenths submerged. The art of psychiatry
consists largely in bringing into consciousness some of the content of
this submerged nine-tenths, and as a practitioner I can testify to its
difficulty and uncertainty.

"We are so habituated to conscious thought that when we reach some
conclusion by any nonconscious process, we speak of it as a 'hunch,' or an
'intuition,' and question its validity. We are so habituated to acting
upon consciously formed decisions that we must laboriously acquire, by
systematic drill, those automatic responses upon which we depend for
survival in combat or other emergencies. And we are by nature so unaware
of this vast submerged mental area that it was not until the first century
Pre-Atomic that its existence was more than vaguely suspected, and its
nature is still the subject of acrimonious professional disputes."

There had been a few of those, off and on, during the past four days, too.

"If we depict sapient mentation as an iceberg, we might depict nonsapient
mentation as the sunlight reflected from its surface. This is a
considerably less exact analogy; while the nonsapient mind deals,
consciously, with nothing but present sense data, there is a considerable
absorption and re-emission of subconscious memories. Also, there are
occasional flashes of what must be conscious mental activity, in dealing
with some novel situation. Dr. van Riebeek, who is especially interested
in the evolutionary aspect of the question, suggests that the introduction
of novelty because of drastic environmental changes may have forced
nonsapient beings into more or less sustained conscious thinking and so
initiated mental habits which, in time, gave rise to true sapience.

"The sapient mind not only thinks consciously by habit, but it thinks in
connected sequence. It associates one thing with another. It reasons
logically, and forms conclusions, and uses those conclusions as premises
from which to arrive at further conclusions. It groups associations
together, and generalizes. Here we pass completely beyond any comparison
with nonsapience. This is not merely more consciousness, or more thinking;
it is thinking of a radically different kind. The nonsapient mind deals
exclusively with crude sensory material. The sapient mind translates sense
impressions into ideas, and then forms ideas of ideas, in ascending orders
of abstraction, almost without limit.

"This, finally, brings us to one of the recognized overt manifestations of
sapience. The sapient being is a symbol user. The nonsapient being cannot
symbolize, because the nonsapient mind is incapable of concepts beyond
mere sense images."

Ybarra drank some water, and twisted the dial of his reading screen with
the other hand.

"The sapient being," he continued, "can do one other thing. It is a
combination of the three abilities already enumerated, but combining them
creates something much greater than the mere sum of the parts. The sapient
being can imagine. He can conceive of something which has no existence
whatever in the sense-available world of reality, and then he can work and
plan toward making it a part of reality. He can not only imagine, but he
can also create."

He paused for a moment. "This is our definition of sapience. When we
encounter any being whose mentation includes these characteristics, we may
know him for a sapient brother. It is the considered opinion of all of us
that the beings called Fuzzies are such beings."

Jack hugged the small sapient one on his lap, and Little Fuzzy looked up
and murmured, "_He-inta?_"

"You're in, kid," he whispered. "You just joined the people."

Ybarra was saying, "They think consciously and continuously. We know that
by instrumental analysis of their electroencephalographic patterns, which
compare closely to those of an intelligent human child of ten. They think
in connected sequence; I invite consideration of all the different logical
steps involved in the invention, designing and making of their
prawn-killing weapons, and in the development of tools with which to make
them. We have abundant evidence of their ability to think beyond present
sense data, to associate, to generalize, to abstract and to symbolize.

"And above all, they can imagine, not only a new implement, but a new way
of life. We see this in the first human contact with the race which, I
submit, should be designated as _Fuzzy sapiens_. Little Fuzzy found a
strange and wonderful place in the forest, a place unlike anything he had
ever seen, in which lived a powerful being. He imagined himself living in
this place, enjoying the friendship and protection of this mysterious
being. So he slipped inside, made friends with Jack Holloway and lived
with him. And then he imagined his family sharing this precious comfort
and companionship with him, and he went and found them and brought them
back with him. Like so many other sapient beings, Little Fuzzy had a
beautiful dream; like a fortunate few, he made it real."

The Chief Justice allowed the applause to run on for a few minutes before
using his gavel to silence it. There was a brief colloquy among the three
judges, and then the Chief Justice rapped again. Little Fuzzy looked
perplexed. Everybody had been quiet after he did it the first time, hadn't
they?

"It is the unanimous decision of the court to accept the report already
entered into the record and just summarized by Lieutenant Ybarra, TFN, and
to thank him and all who have been associated with him.

"It is now the ruling of this court that the species known as _Fuzzy fuzzy
holloway zarathustra_ is in fact a race of sapient beings, entitled to the
respect of all other sapient beings and to the full protection of the law
of the Terran Federation." He rapped again, slowly, pounding the decision
into the legal framework.

Space Commodore Napier leaned over and whispered; all three of the judges
nodded emphatically. The naval officer rose.

"Lieutenant Ybarra, on behalf of the Service and of the Federation, I
thank you and those associated with you for a lucid and excellent report,
the culmination of work which reflects credit upon all who participated in
it. I also wish to state that a suggestion made to me by Lieutenant Ybarra
regarding possible instrumental detection of sapient mentation is being
credited to him in my own report, with the recommendation that it be given
important priority by the Bureau of Research and Development. Perhaps the
next time we find people who speak beyond the range of human audition, who
have fur and live in a mild climate, and who like their food raw, we'll
know what they are from the beginning."

Bet Ybarra gets another stripe, and a good job out of this. Jack hoped so.
Then Pendarvis was pounding again.

"I had almost forgotten; this is a criminal trial," he confessed. "It is
the verdict of this court that the defendant, Jack Holloway, is not guilty
as here charged. He is herewith discharged from custody. If he or his
attorney will step up here, the bail bond will be refunded." He puzzled
Little Fuzzy by hammering again with his gavel to adjourn court.

This time, instead of keeping quiet, everybody made all the noise they
could, and Uncle Gus was holding him high over his head and shouting:

"The _winnah_! By unanimous decision!"



XVII


Ruth Ortheris sipped at the tart, cold cocktail. It was good; oh, it was
good, all good! The music was soft, the lights were dim, the tables were
far apart; just she and Gerd, and nobody was paying any attention to them.
And she was clear out of the business, too. An agent who testified in
court always was expended in service like a fired round. They'd want her
back, a year from now, to testify when the board of inquiry came out from
Terra, but she wouldn't be Lieutenant j.g. Ortheris then, she'd be Mrs.
Gerd van Riebeek. She set down the glass and rubbed the sunstone on her
finger. It was a lovely sunstone, and it meant such a lovely thing.

And we're getting married with a ready-made family, too. Four Fuzzies and
a black-and-white kitten.

"You're sure you really want to go to Beta?" Gerd asked. "When Napier gets
this new government organized, it'll be taking over Science Center. We
could both get our old jobs back. Maybe something better."

"You don't want to go back?" He shook his head. "Neither do I. I want to
go to Beta and be a sunstone digger's wife."

"And a Fuzzyologist."

"And a Fuzzyologist. I couldn't drop that now. Gerd, we're only beginning
with them. We know next to nothing about their psychology."

He nodded seriously. "You know, they may turn out to be even wiser than we
are."

She laughed. "Oh, Gerd! Let's don't get too excited about them. Why,
they're like little children. All they think about is having fun."

"That's right. I said they were wiser than we are. They stick to important
things." He smoked silently for a moment. "It's not just their psychology;
we don't know anything much about their physiology, or biology either." He
picked up his glass and drank. "Here; we had eighteen of them in all.
Seventeen adults and one little one. Now what kind of ratio is that? And
the ones we saw in the woods ran about the same. In all, we sighted about
a hundred and fifty adults and only ten children."

"Maybe last year's crop have grown up," she began.

"You know any other sapient races with a one-year maturation period?" he
asked. "I'll bet they take ten or fifteen years to mature. Jack's Baby
Fuzzy hasn't gained a pound in the last month. And another puzzle; this
craving for Extee Three. That's not a natural food; except for the cereal
bulk matter, it's purely synthetic. I was talking to Ybarra; he was
wondering if there mightn't be something in it that caused an addiction."

"Maybe it satisfies some kind of dietary deficiency."

"Well, we'll find out." He inverted the jug over his glass. "Think we
could stand another cocktail before dinner?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Space Commodore Napier sat at the desk that had been Nick Emmert's and
looked at the little man with the red whiskers and the rumpled suit, who
was looking back at him in consternation.

"Good Lord, Commodore; you can't be serious?"

"But I am. Quite serious, Dr. Rainsford."

"Then you're nuts!" Rainsford exploded. "I'm no more qualified to be
Governor General than I'd be to command Xerxes Base. Why, I never held an
administrative position in my life."

"That might be a recommendation. You're replacing a veteran
administrator."

"And I have a job. The Institute of Zeno-Sciences--"

"I think they'll be glad to give you leave, under the circumstances.
Doctor, you're the logical man for this job. You're an ecologist; you know
how disastrous the effects of upsetting the balance of nature can be. The
Zarathustra Company took care of this planet, when it was their property,
but now nine-tenths of it is public domain, and people will be coming in
from all over the Federation, scrambling to get rich overnight. You'll
know how to control things."

"Yes, as Commissioner of Conservation, or something I'm qualified for."

"As Governor General. Your job will be to make policy. You can appoint the
administrators."

"Well, who, for instance?"

"Well, you're going to need an Attorney General right away. Who will you
appoint for that position?"

"Gus Brannhard," Rainsford said instantly.

"Good. And who--this question is purely rhetorical--will you appoint as
Commissioner of Native Affairs?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Jack Holloway was going back to Beta Continent on the constabulary
airboat. Official passenger: Mr. Commissioner Jack Holloway. And his
staff: Little Fuzzy, Mamma Fuzzy, Baby Fuzzy, Mike, Mitzi, Ko-Ko and
Cinderella. Bet they didn't know they had official positions!

Somehow he wished he didn't have one himself.

"Want a good job, George?" he asked Lunt.

"I have a good job."

"This'll be a better one. Rank of major, eighteen thousand a year.
Commandant, Native Protection Force. And you won't lose seniority in the
constabulary; Colonel Ferguson'll give you indefinite leave."

"Well, cripes, Jack, I'd like to, but I don't want to leave the kids. And
I can't take them away from the rest of the gang."

"Bring the rest of the gang along. I'm authorized to borrow twenty men
from the constabulary as a training cadre, and you only have sixteen. Your
sergeants'll get commissions, and all your men will be sergeants. I'm
going to have a force of a hundred and fifty for a start."

"You must think the Fuzzies are going to need a lot of protection."

"They will. The whole country between the Cordilleras and the West Coast
Range will be Fuzzy Reservation and that'll have to be policed. Then the
Fuzzies outside that will have to be protected. You know what's going to
happen. Everybody wants Fuzzies; why, even Judge Pendarvis approached me
about getting a pair for his wife. There'll be gangs hunting them to sell,
using stun-bombs and sleepgas and everything. I'm going to have to set up
an adoption bureau; Ruth will be in charge of that. And that'll mean a lot
of investigators--"

Oh, it was going to be one hell of a job! Fifty thousand a year would be
chicken feed to what he'd lose by not working his diggings. But somebody
would have to do it, and the Fuzzies were his responsibility.

Hadn't he gone to law to prove their sapience?

       *       *       *       *       *

They were going home, home to the Wonderful Place. They had seen many
wonderful places, since the night they had been put in the bags: the place
where everything had been light and they had been able to jump so high and
land so gently, and the place where they had met all the others of their
people and had so much fun. But now they were going back to the old
Wonderful Place in the woods, where it had all started.

And they had met so many Big Ones, too. Some Big Ones were bad, but only a
few; most Big Ones were good. Even the one who had done the killing had
felt sorry for what he had done; they were all sure of that. And the other
Big Ones had taken him away, and they had never seen him again.

He had talked about that with the others--with Flora and Fauna, and Dr.
Crippen, and Complex, and Superego, and Dillinger and Lizzie Borden. Now
that they were all going to live with the Big Ones, they would have to use
those funny names. Someday they would find out what they meant, and that
would be fun, too. And they could; now the Big Ones could put things in
their ears and hear what they were saying, and Pappy Jack was learning
some of their words, and teaching them some of his.

And soon all the people would find Big Ones to live with, who would take
care of them and have fun with them and love them, and give them the
Wonderful Food. And with the Big Ones taking care of them, maybe more of
their babies would live and not die so soon. And they would pay the Big
Ones back. First they would give their love and make them happy. Later,
when they learned how, they would give their help, too.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note: Numerous typographical errors have been repaired.
  





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