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
“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.”