Little Fuzzy – Day 32 of 77

“About a mile and a half. I made copies of everything, even the stuff the others took.”

“Good. We’ll send that, too. Let Kellogg read about it in the papers a year from now.” He thought for a moment, then said: “Gerd and Ruth and Juan are bunking at the other camp now; suppose I move in here with you tomorrow. I assume you don’t want to leave the Fuzzies alone while that gang’s here. I can help you keep an eye on them.”

“But, Ben, you don’t want to drop whatever else you’re doing—”

“What I’m doing, now, is learning to be a Fuzzyologist, and this is the only place I can do it. I’ll see you tomorrow, after I stop at the constabulary post.”

The people across the run—Kellogg, Mallin and Borch, and van Riebeek, Jimenez and Ruth Ortheris—were still up when Rainsford went out to his airjeep. After watching him lift out, Jack went back into the house, played with his family in the living room for a while and went to bed. The next morning he watched Kellogg, Ruth and Jimenez leave in one jeep and, shortly after, Mallin and van Riebeek in the other. Kellogg didn’t seem to be willing to let the three who had come to the camp first wander around unchaperoned. He wondered about that.

Ben Rainsford’s airjeep came over the mountains from the south in the late morning and settled onto the grass. Jack helped him inside with his luggage, and then they sat down under the big featherleaf trees to smoke their pipes and watch the Fuzzies playing in the grass. Occasionally they saw Kurt Borch pottering around outside the other camp.

“I sent the report off,” Rainsford said, then looked at his watch. “It ought to be on the mail boat for Mallorysport by now; this time tomorrow it’ll be in hyperspace for Terra. We won’t say anything about it; just sit back and watch Len Kellogg and Ernst Mallin working up a sweat trying to talk us out of sending it.” He chuckled. “I made a definite claim of sapience; by the time I got the report in shape to tape off, I couldn’t see any other alternative.”

“Damned if I can. You hear that, kids?” he asked Mike and Mitzi, who had come over in hope that there might be goodies for them. “Uncle Ben says you’re sapient.”


“They want to know if it’s good to eat. What’ll happen now?”

“Nothing, for about a year. Six months from now, when the ship gets in, the Institute will release it to the press, and then they’ll send an investigation team here. So will any of the other universities or scientific institutes that may be interested. I suppose the government’ll send somebody, too. After all, subcivilized natives on colonized planets are wards of the Terran Federation.”

He didn’t know that he liked that. The less he had to do with the government the better, and his Fuzzies were wards of Pappy Jack Holloway. He said as much.

Rainsford picked up Mitzi and stroked her. “Nice fur,” he said. “Fur like that would bring good prices. It will, if we don’t get these people recognized as sapient beings.”

He looked across the run at the new camp and wondered. Maybe Leonard Kellogg saw that, too, and saw profits for the Company in Fuzzy fur.

The airjeeps returned in the middle of the afternoon, first Mallin’s, and then Kellogg’s. Everybody went inside. An hour later, a constabulary car landed in front of the Kellogg camp. George Lunt and Ahmed Khadra got out. Kellogg came outside, spoke with them and then took them into the main living hut. Half an hour later, the lieutenant and the trooper emerged, lifted their car across the run and set it down on the lawn. The Fuzzies ran to meet them, possibly expecting more whistles, and followed them into the living room. Lunt and Khadra took off their berets, but made no move to unbuckle their gun belts.

“We got your package off all right Ben,” Lunt said. He sat down and took Goldilocks on his lap; immediately Cinderella jumped up, also. “Jack, what the hell’s that gang over there up to anyhow?”

“You got that, too?”

“You can smell it on them for a mile, against the wind. In the first place, that Borch. I wish I could get his prints; I’ll bet we have them on file. And the whole gang’s trying to hide something, and what they’re trying to hide is something they’re scared of, like a body in a closet. When we were over there, Kellogg did all the talking; anybody else who tried to say anything got shut up fast. Kellogg doesn’t like you, Jack and he doesn’t like Ben, and he doesn’t like the Fuzzies. Most of all he doesn’t like the Fuzzies.”

“Well, I told you what I thought this morning,” Rainsford said. “They don’t want outsiders discovering things on this planet. It wouldn’t make them look good to the home office on Terra. Remember, it was some non-Company people who discovered the first sunstones, back in ’Forty-eight.”

George Lunt looked thoughtful. On him, it was a scowl.

“I don’t think that’s it, Ben. When we were talking to him, he admitted very freely that you and Jack discovered the Fuzzies. The way he talked, he didn’t seem to think they were worth discovering at all. And he asked a lot of funny questions about you, Jack. The kind of questions I’d ask if I was checking up on somebody’s mental competence.” The scowl became one of anger now. “By God, I wish I had an excuse to question him—with a veridicator!”

Kellogg didn’t want the Fuzzies to be sapient beings. If they weren’t they’d be … fur-bearing animals. Jack thought of some overfed society dowager on Terra or Baldur, wearing the skins of Little Fuzzy and Mamma Fuzzy and Mike and Mitzi and Ko-Ko and Cinderella and Goldilocks wrapped around her adipose carcass. It made him feel sick.

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