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Little Fuzzy

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:
 
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