Little Fuzzy – Day 45 of 77

The car was landing; George Lunt, two of his men and two men in civilian clothes were getting out. Both the latter were armed, and one of them carried a bundle under his arm.

“Hello, George; come on in.”

“We want to talk to you, Jack.” Lunt’s voice was strained, empty of warmth or friendliness. “At least, these men do.”

“Why, yes. Sure.”

He backed into the room to permit them to enter. Something was wrong; something bad had come up. Khadra came in first, placing himself beside and a little behind him. Lunt followed, glancing quickly around and placing himself between Jack and the gunrack and also the holstered pistols on the table. The third trooper let the two strangers in ahead of him, and then closed the door and put his back against it. He wondered if the court might have cancelled his bond and ordered him into custody. The two strangers—a beefy man with a scrubby black mustache, and a smaller one with a thin, saturnine face—were looking expectantly at Lunt. Rainsford and van Riebeek were on their feet. Gus Brannhard leaned over to refill his glass, but did not rise.

“Let me have the papers,” Lunt said to the beefy stranger.

The other took a folded document and handed it over.

“Jack, this isn’t my idea,” Lunt said. “I don’t want to do it, but I have to. I wouldn’t want to shoot you, either, but you make any resistance and I will. I’m no Kurt Borch; I know you, and I won’t take any chances.”

“If you’re going to serve that paper, serve it,” the bigger of the two strangers said. “Don’t stand yakking all night.”

“Jack,” Lunt said uncomfortably, “this is a court order to impound your Fuzzies as evidence in the Kellogg case. These men are deputy marshals from Central Courts; they’ve been ordered to bring the Fuzzies into Mallorysport.”

“Let me see the order, Jack,” Brannhard said, still remaining seated.

Lunt handed it to Jack, and he handed it across to Brannhard. Gus had been drinking steadily all evening; maybe he was afraid he’d show it if he stood up. He looked at it briefly and nodded.

“Court order, all right, signed by the Chief Justice.” He handed it back. “They have to take the Fuzzies, and that’s all there is to it. Keep that order, though, and make them give you a signed and thumbprinted receipt. Type it up for them now, Jack.”

Gus wanted to busy him with something, so he wouldn’t have to watch what was going on. The smaller of the two deputies had dropped the bundle from under his arm. It was a number of canvas sacks. He sat down at the typewriter, closing his ears to the noises in the room, and wrote the receipt, naming the Fuzzies and describing them, and specifying that they were in good health and uninjured. One of them tried to climb to his lap, yeeking frantically; it clutched his shirt, but it was snatched away. He was finished with his work before the invaders were with theirs. They had three Fuzzies already in sacks. Khadra was catching Cinderella. Ko-Ko and Little Fuzzy had run for the little door in the outside wall, but Lunt was standing with his heels against it, holding it shut; when they saw that, both of them began burrowing in the bedding. The third trooper and the smaller of the two deputies dragged them out and stuffed them into sacks.

He got to his feet, still stunned and only half comprehending, and took the receipt out of the typewriter. There was an argument about it; Lunt told the deputies to sign it or get the hell out without the Fuzzies. They signed, inked their thumbs and printed after their signatures. Jack gave the paper to Gus, trying not to look at the six bulging, writhing sacks, or hear the frightened little sounds.

“George, you’ll let them have some of their things, won’t you?” he asked.

“Sure. What kind of things?”

“Their bedding. Some of their toys.”

“You mean this junk?” The smaller of the two deputies kicked the ball-and-stick construction. “All we got orders to take is the Fuzzies.”

“You heard the gentleman.” Lunt made the word sound worse than son of a Khooghra. He turned to the two deputies. “Well, you have them; what are you waiting for?”

Jack watched from the door as they put the sacks into the aircar, climbed in after them and lifted out. Then he came back and sat down at the table.

“They don’t know anything about court orders,” he said. “They don’t know why I didn’t stop it. They think Pappy Jack let them down.”

“Have they gone, Jack?” Brannhard asked. “Sure?” Then he rose, reaching behind him, and took up a little ball of white fur. Baby Fuzzy caught his beard with both tiny hands, yeeking happily.

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