Little Fuzzy – Day 29 of 77

“Jack, stop them,” Ruth called out. “They’re going away.”

“If they want to go, I have no right to stop them.”

When they were almost at the edge of the woods, Ko-Ko stopped, drove the point of his weapon into the ground and came running back to Pappy Jack, throwing his arms around the human knees and yeeking. Jack stooped and stroked him, but didn’t try to pick him up. One of the two females pulled his chopper-digger out, and they both came back slowly. At the same time, Little Fuzzy, Mamma Fuzzy, Mike and Mitzi came running back. For a while, all the Fuzzies embraced one another, yeeking happily. Then they all trooped across the grass and went into the house.

“Get that all, Gerd?” he asked.

“On film, yes. That’s the only way I did, though. What happened?”

“You have just made the first film of intertribal social and mating customs, Zarathustran Fuzzy. This is the family’s home; they don’t want any strange Fuzzies hanging around. They were going to run the girls off. Then Ko-Ko decided he liked their looks, and he decided he’d team up with them. That made everything different; the family sat down with them to tell them what a fine husband they were getting and to tell Ko-Ko good-bye. Then Ko-Ko remembered that he hadn’t told me good-bye, and he came back. The family decided that two more Fuzzies wouldn’t be in excess of the carrying capacity of this habitat, seeing what a good provider Pappy Jack is, so now I should imagine they’re showing the girls the family treasures. You know, they married into a mighty well-to-do family.”

The girls were named Goldilocks and Cinderella. When lunch was ready, they were all in the living room, with the viewscreen on; after lunch, the whole gang went into the bedroom for a nap on Pappy Jack’s bed. He spent the afternoon developing movie film, while Gerd and Ruth wrote up the notes they had made the day before and collaborated on an account of the adoption. By late afternoon, when they were finished, the Fuzzies came out for a frolic and prawn hunt.

They all heard the aircar before any of the human people did, and they all ran over and climbed up on the bench beside the kitchen door. It was a constabulary cruise car; it landed, and a couple of troopers got out, saying that they’d stopped to see the Fuzzies. They wanted to know where the extras had come from, and when Jack told them, they looked at one another.

“Next gang that comes along, call us and keep them entertained till we can get here,” one of them said. “We want some at the post, for prawns if nothing else.”

“What’s George’s attitude?” he asked. “The other night, when he was here, he seemed half scared of them.”

“Aah, he’s got over that,” one of the troopers said. “He called Ben Rainsford; Ben said they were perfectly safe. Hey, Ben says they’re not animals; they’re people.”

He started to tell them about some of the things the Fuzzies did. He was still talking when the Fuzzies heard another aircar and called attention to it. This time, it was Ben Rainsford and Juan Jimenez. They piled out as soon as they were off contragravity, dragging cameras after them.

“Jack, there are Fuzzies all over the place up there,” Rainsford began, while he was getting out. “All headed down this way; regular Volkerwanderung. We saw over fifty of them—four families, and individuals and pairs. I’m sure we missed ten for every one we saw.”

“We better get up there with a car tomorrow,” one of the troopers said. “Ben, just where were you?”

“I’ll show you on the map.” Then he saw Goldilocks and Cinderella. “Hey! Where’d you two girls come from? I never saw you around here before.”

There was another clearing across the stream, with a log footbridge and a path to the camp. Jack guided the big airboat down onto it, and put his airjeep alongside with the canopy up. There were two men on the forward deck of the boat, Kellogg and another man who would be Ernst Mallin. A third man came out of the control cabin after the boat was off contragravity. Jack didn’t like Mallin. He had a tight, secretive face, with arrogance and bigotry showing underneath. The third man was younger. His face didn’t show anything much, but his coat showed a bulge under the left arm. After being introduced by Kellogg, Mallin introduced him as Kurt Borch, his assistant.

Mallin had to introduce Borch again at the camp, not only to Ben Rainsford but also to van Riebeek, to Jimenez and even to Ruth Ortheris, which seemed a little odd. Ruth seemed to think so, too, and Mallin hastened to tell her that Borch was with Personnel, giving some kind of tests. That appeared to puzzle her even more. None of the three seemed happy about the presence of the constabulary troopers, either; they were all relieved when the cruise car lifted out.

Kellogg became interested in the Fuzzies immediately, squatting to examine them. He said something to Mallin, who compressed his lips and shook his head, saying:

“We simply cannot assume sapience until we find something in their behavior which cannot be explained under any other hypothesis. We would be much safer to assume nonsapience and proceed to test that assumption.”

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