Little Fuzzy – Day 30 of 77

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.”

That seemed to establish the keynote. Kellogg straightened, and he and Mallin started one of those “of course I agree, doctor, but don’t you find, on the other hand, that you must agree” sort of arguments, about the difference between scientific evidence and scientific proof. Jimenez got into it to the extent of agreeing with everything Kellogg said, and differing politely with everything Mallin said that he thought Kellogg would differ with. Borch said nothing; he just stood and looked at the Fuzzies with ill-concealed hostility. Gerd and Ruth decided to help getting dinner.

They ate outside on the picnic table, with the Fuzzies watching them interestedly. Kellogg and Mallin carefully avoided discussing them. It wasn’t until after dusk, when the Fuzzies brought their ball inside and everybody was in the living room, that Kellogg, adopting a presiding-officer manner, got the conversation onto the subject. For some time, without giving anyone else an opportunity to say anything, he gushed about what an important discovery the Fuzzies were. The Fuzzies themselves ignored him and began dismantling the stick-and-ball construction. For a while Goldilocks and Cinderella watched interestedly, and then they began assisting.

“Unfortunately,” Kellogg continued, “so much of our data is in the form of uncorroborated statements by Mr. Holloway. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t, myself, doubt for a moment anything Mr. Holloway said on that tape, but you must realize that professional scientists are most reluctant to accept the unsubstantiated reports of what, if you’ll pardon me, they think of as nonqualified observers.”

“Oh, rubbish, Leonard!” Rainsford broke in impatiently. “I’m a professional scientist, of a good many more years’ standing than you, and I accept Jack Holloway’s statements. A frontiersman like Jack is a very careful and exact observer. People who aren’t don’t live long on frontier planets.”

“Now, please don’t misunderstand me,” Kellogg reiterated. “I don’t doubt Mr. Holloway’s statements. I was just thinking of how they would be received on Terra.”

“I shouldn’t worry about that, Leonard. The Institute accepts my reports, and I’m vouching for Jack’s reliability. I can substantiate most of what he told me from personal observation.”

“Yes, and there’s more than just verbal statements,” Gerd van Riebeek chimed in. “A camera is not a nonqualified observer. We have quite a bit of film of the Fuzzies.”

“Oh, yes; there was some mention of movies,” Mallin said. “You don’t have any of them developed yet, do you?”

“Quite a lot. Everything except what was taken out in the woods this afternoon. We can run them off right now.”

He pulled down the screen in front of the gunrack, got the film and loaded his projector. The Fuzzies, who had begun on a new stick-and-ball construction, were irritated when the lights went out, then wildly excited when Little Fuzzy, digging a toilet pit with the wood chisel, appeared. Little Fuzzy in particular was excited about that; if he didn’t recognize himself, he recognized the chisel. Then there were pictures of Little Fuzzy killing and eating land-prawns, Little Fuzzy taking the nut off the bolt and putting it on again, and pictures of the others, after they had come in, hunting and at play. Finally, there was the film of the adoption of Goldilocks and Cinderella.

“What Juan and I got this afternoon, up in the woods, isn’t so good, I’m afraid,” Rainsford said when the show was over and the lights were on again. “Mostly it’s rear views disappearing into the brush. It was very hard to get close to them in the jeep. Their hearing is remarkably acute. But I’m sure the pictures we took this afternoon will show the things they were carrying—wooden prawn-killers like the two that were traded from the new ones in that last film.”

Mallin and Kellogg looked at one another in what seemed oddly like consternation.

“You didn’t tell us there were more of them around,” Mallin said, as though it were an accusation of duplicity. He turned to Kellogg. “This alters the situation.”

“Yes, indeed, Ernst,” Kellogg burbled delightedly. “This is a wonderful opportunity. Mr. Holloway, I understand that all this country up here is your property, by landgrant purchase. That’s right, isn’t it? Well, would you allow us to camp on that clearing across the run, where our boat is now? We’ll get prefab huts—Red Hill’s the nearest town, isn’t it?—and have a Company construction gang set them up for us, and we won’t be any bother at all to you. We had only intended staying tonight on our boat, and returning to Mallorysport in the morning, but with all these Fuzzies swarming around in the woods, we can’t think of leaving now. You don’t have any objection, do you?”

He had lots of objections. The whole business was rapidly developing into an acute pain in the neck for him. But if he didn’t let Kellogg camp across the run, the three of them could move seventy or eighty miles in any direction and be off his land. He knew what they’d do then. They’d live-trap or sleep-gas Fuzzies; they’d put them in cages, and torment them with maze and electric-shock experiments, and kill a few for dissection, or maybe not bother killing them first. On his own land, if they did anything like that, he could do something about it.

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