Little Fuzzy by Henry Beam Piper - HTML preview

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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 nonsapient 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-sillylittle-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.

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 racialdiscrimination 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 prawnshell.”

“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 whitehaired 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-andwhite 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.

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