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-
“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.”