Little Fuzzy – Day 17 of 77

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

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

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

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

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

“Jack, this stuff is absolutely amazing,” he said.

“It’s better than that. It’s unique. Only collection of native weapons and implements on Zarathustra.”

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

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

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

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

“Why, the Fuzzies would love that. They like company.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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