Little Fuzzy – Day 68 of 77

“For this purpose, we are temporarily abandoning some of the traditional trial procedures. We will call witnesses; statements of purported fact will be made under veridication as usual. We will also have a general discussion, in which all of you at these tables will be free to participate. I and my associates will preside; as we can’t have everybody shouting disputations at once, anyone wishing to speak will have to be recognized. At least, I hope we will be able to conduct the discussion in this manner.

“You will all have noticed the presence of a number of officers from Xerxes Naval Base, and I suppose you have all heard that Commodore Napier has assumed control of the civil government. Captain Greibenfeld, will you please rise and be seen? He is here participating as amicus curiae, and I have given him the right to question witnesses and to delegate that right to any of his officers he may deem proper. Mr. Coombes and Mr. Brannhard may also delegate that right as they see fit.”

Coombes was on his feet at once. “Your Honors, if we are now to discuss the sapience question, I would suggest that the first item on our order of business be the presentation of some acceptable definition of sapience. I should, for my part, very much like to know what it is that the Kellogg prosecution and the Holloway defense mean when they use that term.”

That’s it. They want us to define it. Gerd van Riebeek was looking chagrined; Ernst Mallin was smirking. Gus Brannhard, however, was pleased.

“Jack, they haven’t any more damn definition than we do,” he whispered.

Captain Greibenfeld, who had seated himself after rising at the request of the court, was on his feet again.

“Your Honors, during the past month we at Xerxes Naval Base have been working on exactly that problem. We have a very considerable interest in having the classification of this planet established, and we also feel that this may not be the last time a question of disputable sapience may arise. I believe, your Honors, that we have approached such a definition. However, before we begin discussing it, I would like the court’s permission to present a demonstration which may be of help in understanding the problems involved.”

“Captain Greibenfeld has already discussed this demonstration with me, and it has my approval. Will you please proceed, Captain,” the Chief Justice said.

Greibenfeld nodded, and a deputy marshal opened the door on the right of the bench. Two spacemen came in, carrying cartons. One went up to the bench; the other started around in front of the tables, distributing small battery-powered hearing aids.

“Please put them in your ears and turn them on,” he said. “Thank you.”

Baby Fuzzy tried to get Jack’s. He put the plug in his ear and switched on the power. Instantly he began hearing a number of small sounds he had never heard before, and Baby was saying to him: “He-inta sa-wa’aka; igga sa geeda?

“Muhgawd, Gus, he’s talking!”

“Yes, I hear him; what do you suppose—?”

“Ultrasonic; God, why didn’t we think of that long ago?”

He snapped off the hearing aid. Baby Fuzzy was saying, “Yeeek.” When he turned it on again, Baby was saying, “Kukk-ina za zeeva.

“No, Baby, Pappy Jack doesn’t understand. We’ll have to be awfully patient, and learn each other’s language.”

Pa-pee Jaaak!” Baby cried. “Ba-bee za-hinga; Pa-pee Jaak za zag ga he-izza!

“That yeeking is just the audible edge of their speech; bet we have a lot of transsonic tones in our voices, too.”

“Well, he can hear what we say; he’s picked up his name and yours.”

“Mr. Brannhard, Mr. Holloway,” Judge Pendarvis was saying, “may we please have your attention? Now, have you all your earplugs in and turned on? Very well; carry on, Captain.”

This time, an ensign went out and came back with a crowd of enlisted men, who had six Fuzzies with them. They set them down in the open space between the bench and the arc of tables and backed away. The Fuzzies drew together into a clump and stared around them, and he stared, unbelievingly, at them. They couldn’t be; they didn’t exist any more. But they were—Little Fuzzy and Mamma Fuzzy and Mike and Mitzi and Ko-Ko and Cinderella. Baby whooped something and leaped from the table, and Mamma came stumbling to meet him, clasping him in her arms. Then they all saw him and began clamoring: “Pa-pee Jaaak! Pa-pee Jaaak!

He wasn’t aware of rising and leaving the table; the next thing he realized, he was sitting on the floor, his family mobbing him and hugging him, gabbling with joy. Dimly he heard the gavel hammering, and the voice of Chief Justice Pendarvis: “Court is recessed for ten minutes!” By that time, Gus was with him; gathering the family up, they carried them over to their table.

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