Little Fuzzy – Day 47 of 77

“And, your Honor,” Brannhard leaped into the breach, “it cannot be denied that these Fuzzies have suffered a most outrageous wrong! Picture them—no, picture innocent and artless children, for that is what these Fuzzies are, happy trusting little children, who, until then, had known only kindness and affection—rudely kidnapped, stuffed into sacks by brutal and callous men—”

“Your Honor!” O’Brien’s face turned even blacker than the hot sun of Agni had made it. “I cannot hear officers of the court so characterized without raising my voice in protest!”

“Mr. O’Brien seems to forget that he is speaking in the presence of two eye witnesses to this brutal abduction.”

“If the officers of the court need defense, Mr. O’Brien, the court will defend them. I believe that you should presently consider a defense of your own actions.”

“Your Honor, I insist that I only acted as I felt to be my duty,” O’Brien said. “These Fuzzies are a key exhibit in the case of People versus Kellogg, since only by demonstration of their sapience can any prosecution against the defendant be maintained.”

“Then why,” Brannhard demanded, “did you endanger them in this criminally reckless manner?”

“Endanger them?” O’Brien was horrified. “Your Honor, I acted only to insure their safety and appearance in court.”

“So you took them away from the only man on this planet who knows anything about their proper care, a man who loves them as he would his own human children, and you subjected them to abuse, which, for all you knew, might have been fatal to them.”

Judge Pendarvis nodded. “I don’t believe, Mr. Brannhard, that you have overstated the case. Mr. O’Brien, I take a very unfavorable view of your action in this matter. You had no right to have what are at least putatively sapient beings treated in this way, and even viewing them as mere physical evidence I must agree with Mr. Brannhard’s characterization of your conduct as criminally reckless. Now, speaking judicially, I order you to produce those Fuzzies immediately and return them to the custody of Mr. Holloway.”

“Well, of course, your Honor.” O’Brien had been growing progressively distraught, and his face now had the gray-over-brown hue of a walnut gunstock that has been out in the rain all day. “It’ll take an hour or so to send for them and have them brought here.”

“You mean they’re not in this building?” Pendarvis asked.

“Oh, no, your Honor, there are no facilities here. I had them taken to Science Center—”


Jack had determined to keep his mouth shut and let Gus do the talking. The exclamation was literally forced out of him. Nobody noticed; it had also been forced out of both Gus Brannhard and Judge Pendarvis. Pendarvis leaned forward and spoke with dangerous mildness:

“Do you refer, Mr. O’Brien, to the establishment of the Division of Scientific Study and Research of the chartered Zarathustra Company?”

“Why, yes; they have facilities for keeping all kinds of live animals, and they do all the scientific work for—”

Pendarvis cursed blasphemously. Brannhard looked as startled as though his own briefcase had jumped at his throat and tried to bite him. He didn’t look half as startled as Ham O’Brien did.

“So you think,” Pendarvis said, recovering his composure with visible effort, “that the logical custodian of prosecution evidence in a murder trial is the defendant? Mr. O’Brien, you simply enlarge my view of the possible!”

“The Zarathustra Company isn’t the defendant,” O’Brien argued sullenly.

“Not of record, no,” Brannhard agreed. “But isn’t the Zarathustra Company’s scientific division headed by one Leonard Kellogg?”

“Dr. Kellogg’s been relieved of his duties, pending the outcome of the trial. The division is now headed by Dr. Ernst Mallin.”

“Chief scientific witness for the defense; I fail to see any practical difference.”

“Well, Mr. Emmert said it would be all right,” O’Brien mumbled.

“Jack, did you hear that?” Brannhard asked. “Treasure it in your memory. You may have to testify to it in court sometime.” He turned to the Chief Justice. “Your Honor, may I suggest the recovery of these Fuzzies be entrusted to Colonial Marshal Fane, and may I further suggest that Mr. O’Brien be kept away from any communication equipment until they are recovered.”

“That sounds like a prudent suggestion, Mr. Brannhard. Now, I’ll give you an order for the surrender of the Fuzzies, and a search warrant, just to be on the safe side. And, I think, an Orphans’ Court form naming Mr. Holloway as guardian of these putatively sapient beings. What are their names? Oh, I have them here on this receipt.” He smiled pleasantly. “See, Mr. O’Brien, we’re saving you a lot of trouble.”

O’Brien had little enough wit to protest. “But these are the defendant and his attorney in another murder case I’m prosecuting,” he began.

Pendarvis stopped smiling. “Mr. O’Brien, I doubt if you’ll be allowed to prosecute anything or anybody around here any more, and I am specifically relieving you of any connection with either the Kellogg or the Holloway trial, and if I hear any argument out of you about it, I will issue a bench warrant for your arrest on charges of malfeasance in office.”

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