Little Fuzzy – Day 23 of 77

“Then it’s our plain duty to stop this thing before it develops into another major scientific scandal like Hellermann’s hybrids.”

“First we must go over this tape recording and see what we have on our hands. Then we must make a thorough, unbiased study of these animals, and show Rainsford and his accomplice that they cannot hope to foist these ridiculous claims on the scientific world with impunity. If we can’t convince them privately, there’ll be nothing to do but expose them publicly.”

“I’ve heard the tape already, but let’s play if off now. We want to analyze these tricks this man Holloway has taught these animals, and see what they show.”

“Yes, of course. We must do that at once,” Mallin said. “Then we’ll have to consider what sort of statement we must issue, and what sort of evidence we will need to support it.”

After dinner was romptime for Fuzzies on the lawn, but when the dusk came creeping into the ravine, they all went inside and were given one of their new toys from Mallorysport—a big box of many-colored balls and short sticks of transparent plastic. They didn’t know that it was a molecule-model kit, but they soon found that the sticks would go into holes in the balls, and that they could be built into three-dimensional designs.

This was much more fun than the colored stones. They made a few experimental shapes, then dismantled them and began on a single large design. Several times they tore it down, entirely or in part, and began over again, usually with considerable yeeking and gesticulation.

“They have artistic sense,” Van Riebeek said. “I’ve seen lots of abstract sculpture that wasn’t half as good as that job they’re doing.”

“Good engineering, too,” Jack said. “They understand balance and center-of-gravity. They’re bracing it well, and not making it top-heavy.”

“Jack, I’ve been thinking about that question I was supposed to ask myself,” Jimenez said. “You know, I came out here loaded with suspicion. Not that I doubted your honesty; I just thought you’d let your obvious affection for the Fuzzies lead you into giving them credit for more intelligence than they possess. Now I think you’ve consistently understated it. Short of actual sapience, I’ve never seen anything like them.”

“Why short of it?” van Riebeek asked. “Ruth, you’ve been pretty quiet this evening. What do you think?”

Ruth Ortheris looked uncomfortable. “Gerd, it’s too early to form opinions like that. I know the way they’re working together looks like cooperation on an agreed-upon purpose, but I simply can’t make speech out of that yeek-yeek-yeek.”

“Let’s keep the talk-and-build-a-fire rule out of it,” van Riebeek said. “If they’re working together on a common project, they must be communicating somehow.”

“It isn’t communication, it’s symbolization. You simply can’t think sapiently except in verbal symbols. Try it. Not something like changing the spools on a recorder or field-stripping a pistol; they’re just learned tricks. I mean ideas.”

“How about Helen Keller?” Rainsford asked. “Mean to say she only started thinking sapiently after Anna Sullivan taught her what words were?”

“No, of course not. She thought sapiently—And she only thought in sense-imagery limited to feeling.” She looked at Rainsford reproachfully; he’d knocked a breach in one of her fundamental postulates. “Of course, she had inherited the cerebroneural equipment for sapient thinking.” She let that trail off, before somebody asked her how she knew that the Fuzzies hadn’t.

“I’ll suggest, just to keep the argument going, that speech couldn’t have been invented without pre-existing sapience,” Jack said.

Ruth laughed. “Now you’re taking me back to college. That used to be one of the burning questions in first-year psych students’ bull sessions. By the time we got to be sophomores, we’d realized that it was only an egg-and-chicken argument and dropped it.”

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