Little Fuzzy – Day 38 of 77

“What’s happened, Jack? Why didn’t you wait till we got here?”

“This maniac assaulted me and murdered that man over there!” Kellogg began vociferating.

“Is your name Jack too?” Lunt demanded.

“My name’s Leonard Kellogg, and I’m a chief of division with the Company—”

“Then keep quiet till I ask you something. Ahmed, call the post; get Knabber and Yorimitsu, with investigative equipment, and find out what’s tying up Car Three.”

Mallin had opened the first-aid kit by now; Gerd, on seeing the constabulary, had holstered his pistol. Kellogg, still holding the sodden tissues to his nose, was wanting to know what there was to investigate.

“There’s the murderer; you have him red-handed. Why don’t you arrest him?”

“Jack, let’s get over where we can watch these people without having to listen to them,” Lunt said. He glanced toward the body of Goldilocks. “That happen first?”

“Watch out, Lieutenant! He still has his pistol!” Mallin shouted warningly.

They went over and sat down on the contragravity-field generator housing one of the rented airjeeps. Jack started with Gerd van Riebeek’s visit immediately after noon.

“Yes, I thought of that angle myself,” Lunt said disgustedly. “I didn’t think of it till this morning, though, and I didn’t think things would blow up as fast as this. Hell, I just didn’t think! Well, go on.”

He interrupted a little later to ask: “Kellogg was stamping on the Fuzzy when you hit him. You were trying to stop him?”

“That’s right. You can veridicate me on that if you want to.”

“I will; I’ll veridicate this whole damn gang. And this guy Borch had his heater out when you turned around? Nothing to it, Jack. We’ll have to have some kind of a hearing, but it’s just plain self-defense. Think any of this gang will tell the truth here, without taking them in and putting them under veridication?”

“Ruth Ortheris will, I think.”

“Send her over here, will you.”

She was still with the Fuzzies, and Ben Rainsford was standing beside her, his camera ready. The Fuzzies were still swaying and yeeking plaintively. She nodded and rose without speaking, going over to where Lunt waited.

“Just what did happen, Jack?” Rainsford wanted to know. “And whose side is he on?” He nodded toward van Riebeek, standing guard over Kellogg and Mallin, his thumbs in his pistol belt.

“Ours. He’s quit the Company.”

Just as he was finishing, Car Three put in an appearance; he had to tell the same story over again. The area in front of the Kellogg camp was getting congested; he hoped Mike Hennen’s labor gang would stay away for a while. Lunt talked to van Riebeek when he had finished with Ruth, and then with Jimenez and Mallin and Kellogg. Then he and one of the men from Car Three came over to where Jack and Rainsford were standing. Gerd van Riebeek joined them just as Lunt was saying:

“Jack, Kellogg’s made a murder complaint against you. I told him it was self-defense, but he wouldn’t listen. So, according to the book, I have to arrest you.”

“All right.” He unbuckled his gun and handed it over. “Now, George, I herewith make complaint and accusation against Leonard Kellogg, charging him with the unlawful and unjustified killing of a sapient being, to wit, an aboriginal native of the planet of Zarathustra commonly known as Goldilocks.”

Lunt looked at the small battered body and the six mourners around it.

“But, Jack, they aren’t legally sapient beings.”

“There is no such thing. A sapient being is a being on the mental level of sapience, not a being that has been declared sapient.”

“Fuzzies are sapient beings,” Rainsford said. “That’s the opinion of a qualified xeno-naturalist.”

“Two of them,” Gerd van Riebeek said. “That is the body of a sapient being. There’s the man who killed her. Go ahead, Lieutenant, make your pinch.”

“Hey! Wait a minute!”

The Fuzzies were rising, sliding their chopper-diggers under the body of Goldilocks and lifting it on the steel shafts. Ben Rainsford was aiming his camera as Cinderella picked up her sister’s weapon and followed, carrying it; the others carried the body toward the far corner of the clearing, away from the camp. Rainsford kept just behind them, pausing to photograph and then hurrying to keep up with them.

They set the body down. Mike and Mitzi and Cinderella began digging; the others scattered to hunt for stones. Coming up behind them, George Lunt took off his beret and stood holding it in both hands; he bowed his head as the grass-wrapped body was placed in the little grave and covered.

Then, when the cairn was finished, he replaced it, drew his pistol and checked the chamber.

“That does it, Jack,” he said. “I am now going to arrest Leonard Kellogg for the murder of a sapient being.”

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