Little Fuzzy – Day 43 of 77

He must have said more than that, but that was all that registered. Leonard wasn’t really conscious of going back to the other room, until he realized that he was sitting in his relaxer chair, filling the glass with brandy. There was only a little ice in it, but he didn’t care.

They were going to try him for murder for killing that little animal, and Ham O’Brien had said they wouldn’t, he’d promised he’d keep the case from trial and he hadn’t, they were going to try him anyhow and if they convicted him they would take him out and shoot him for just killing a silly little animal he had killed it he’d kicked it and jumped on it he could still hear it screaming and feel the horrible soft crunching under his feet….

He gulped what was left in the glass and poured and gulped more. Then he staggered to his feet and stumbled over to the couch and threw himself onto it, face down, among the cushions.

Leslie Coombes found Nick Emmert with Victor Grego in the latter’s office when he entered. They both rose to greet him, and Grego said “You’ve heard?”

“Yes. O’Brien called me immediately. I called my client—my client of record, that is—and told him. I’m afraid it was rather a shock to him.”

“It wasn’t any shock to me,” Grego said as they sat down. “When Ham O’Brien’s as positive about anything as he was about that, I always expect the worst.”

“Pendarvis is going to try the case himself,” Emmert said. “I always thought he was a reasonable man, but what’s he trying to do now? Cut the Company’s throat?”

“He isn’t anti-Company. He isn’t pro-Company either. He’s just pro-law. The law says that a planet with native sapient inhabitants is a Class-IV planet, and has to have a Class-IV colonial government. If Zarathustra is a Class-IV planet, he wants it established, and the proper laws applied. If it’s a Class-IV planet, the Zarathustra Company is illegally chartered. It’s his job to put a stop to illegality. Frederic Pendarvis’ religion is the law, and he is its priest. You never get anywhere by arguing religion with a priest.”

They were both silent for a while after he had finished. Grego was looking at the globe, and he realized, now, that while he was proud of it, his pride was the pride in a paste jewel that stands for a real one in a bank vault. Now he was afraid that the real jewel was going to be stolen from him. Nick Emmert was just afraid.

“You were right yesterday, Victor. I wish Holloway’d killed that son of a Khooghra. Maybe it’s not too late—”

“Yes, it is, Nick. It’s too late to do anything like that. It’s too late to do anything but win the case in court.” He turned to Grego. “What are your people doing?”

Grego took his eyes from the globe. “Ernest Mallin’s studying all the filmed evidence we have and all the descriptions of Fuzzy behavior, and trying to prove that none of it is the result of sapient mentation. Ruth Ortheris is doing the same, only she’s working on the line of instinct and conditioned reflexes and nonsapient, single-stage reasoning. She has a lot of rats, and some dogs and monkeys, and a lot of apparatus, and some technician from Henry Stenson’s instrument shop helping her. Juan Jimenez is studying mentation of Terran dogs, cats and primates, and Freyan kholphs and Mimir black slinkers.”

“He hasn’t turned up any simian or canine parallels to that funeral, has he?”

Grego said nothing, merely shook his head. Emmert muttered something inaudible and probably indecent.

“I didn’t think he had. I only hope those Fuzzies don’t get up in court, build a bonfire and start making speeches in Lingua Terra.”

Nick Emmert cried out in panic. “You believe they’re sapient yourself!”

“Of course. Don’t you?”

Grego laughed sourly. “Nick thinks you have to believe a thing to prove it. It helps but it isn’t necessary. Say we’re a debating team; we’ve been handed the negative of the question. Resolved: that Fuzzies are Sapient Beings. Personally, I think we have the short end of it, but that only means we’ll have to work harder on it.”

“You know, I was on a debating team at college,” Emmert said brightly. When that was disregarded, he added: “If I remember, the first thing was definition of terms.”

Grego looked up quickly. “Leslie, I think Nick has something. What is the legal definition of a sapient being?”

“As far as I know, there isn’t any. Sapience is something that’s just taken for granted.”

“How about talk-and-build-a-fire?”

He shook his head. “People of the Colony of Vishnu versus Emily Morrosh, 612 A.E.” He told them about the infanticide case. “I was looking up rulings on sapience; I passed the word on to Ham O’Brien. You know, what your people will have to do will be to produce a definition of sapience, acceptable to the court, that will include all known sapient races and at the same time exclude the Fuzzies. I don’t envy them.”

“We need some Fuzzies of our own to study,” Grego said.

“Too bad we can’t get hold of Holloway’s,” Emmert said. “Maybe we could, if he leaves them alone at his camp.”

“No. We can’t risk that.” He thought for a moment. “Wait a moment. I think we might be able to do it at that. Legally.”

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