Little Fuzzy – Day 65 of 77

“Then Commodore Napier’s taken over the civil government?”

“Well, say he’s assumed control of it, pending the outcome of this trial. We want to know whether the present administration’s legal or not.”

“Then you won’t interfere with the trial itself?”

“That depends, your Honor. We are certainly going to participate.” He looked at his watch. “You won’t convene court for another hour? Then perhaps I’ll have time to explain.”

Max Fane met them at the courtroom door with a pleasant greeting. Then he saw Baby Fuzzy on Jack’s shoulder and looked dubious.

“I don’t know about him, Jack. I don’t think he’ll be allowed in the courtroom.”

“Nonsense!” Gus Brannhard told him. “I admit, he is both a minor child and an incompetent aborigine, but he is the only surviving member of the family of the decedent Jane Doe alias Goldilocks, and as such has an indisputable right to be present.”

“Well, just as long as you keep him from sitting on people’s heads. Gus, you and Jack sit over there; Ben, you and Gerd find seats in the witness section.”

It would be half an hour till court would convene, but already the spectators’ seats were full, and so was the balcony. The jury box, on the left of the bench, was occupied by a number of officers in Navy black and Marine blue. Since there would be no jury, they had apparently appropriated it for themselves. The press box was jammed and bristling with equipment.

Baby was looking up interestedly at the big screen behind the judges’ seats; while transmitting the court scene to the public, it also showed, like a nonreversing mirror, the same view to the spectators. Baby wasn’t long in identifying himself in it, and waved his arms excitedly. At that moment, there was a bustle at the door by which they had entered, and Leslie Coombes came in, followed by Ernst Mallin and a couple of his assistants, Ruth Ortheris, Juan Jimenez—and Leonard Kellogg. The last time he had seen Kellogg had been at George Lunt’s complaint court, his face bandaged and his feet in a pair of borrowed moccasins because his shoes, stained with the blood of Goldilocks, had been impounded as evidence.

Coombes glanced toward the table where he and Brannhard were sitting, caught sight of Baby waving to himself in the big screen and turned to Fane with an indignant protest. Fane shook his head. Coombes protested again, and drew another headshake. Finally he shrugged and led Kellogg to the table reserved for them, where they sat down.

Once Pendarvis and his two associates—a short, roundfaced man on his right, a tall, slender man with white hair and a black mustache on his left—were seated, the trial got underway briskly. The charges were read, and then Brannhard, as the Kellogg prosecutor, addressed the court—“being known as Goldilocks … sapient member of a sapient race … willful and deliberate act of the said Leonard Kellogg … brutal and unprovoked murder.” He backed away, sat on the edge of the table and picked up Baby Fuzzy, fondling him while Leslie Coombes accused Jack Holloway of brutally assaulting the said Leonard Kellogg and ruthlessly shooting down Kurt Borch.

“Well, gentlemen, I believe we can now begin hearing the witnesses,” the Chief Justice said. “Who will start prosecuting whom?”

Gus handed Baby to Jack and went forward: Coombes stepped up beside him.

“Your Honor, this entire trial hinges upon the question of whether a member of the species Fuzzy fuzzy holloway zarathustra is or is not a sapient being,” Gus said. “However, before any attempt is made to determine this question, we should first establish, by testimony, just what happened at Holloway’s Camp, in Cold Creek Valley, on the afternoon of June 19, Atomic Era Six Fifty-Four, and once this is established, we can then proceed to the question of whether or not the said Goldilocks was truly a sapient being.”

“I agree,” Coombes said equably. “Most of these witnesses will have to be recalled to the stand later, but in general I think Mr. Brannhard’s suggestion will be economical of the court’s time.”

“Will Mr. Coombes agree to stipulate that any evidence tending to prove or disprove the sapience of Fuzzies in general be accepted as proving or disproving the sapience of the being referred to as Goldilocks?”

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