Little Fuzzy – Day 72 of 77

“Like ‘Pa-pee Jaak’?” the judge on his right, with the black mustache, asked.

The globe flashed red at once.

“Your Honors, I cannot consider words picked up at random and learned by rote speech. The Fuzzies have merely learned to associate that sound with a specific human, and use it as a signal, not as a symbol.”

The globe was still red. The Chief Justice, in the middle, rapped with his gavel.

“Dr. Mallin! Of all the people on this planet, you at least should know the impossibility of lying under veridication. Other people just know it can’t be done; you know why. Now I’m going to rephrase Judge Janiver’s question, and I’ll expect you to answer truthfully. If you don’t I’m going to hold you in contempt. When those Fuzzies cried out, ‘Pappy Jack!’ do you or do you not believe that they were using a verbal expression which stood, in their minds, for Mr. Holloway?”

He couldn’t say it. This sapience was all a big fake; he had to believe that. The Fuzzies were only little mindless animals.

But he didn’t believe it. He knew better. He gulped for a moment.

“Yes, your Honor. The term ‘Pappy Jack’ is, in their minds, a symbol standing for Mr. Jack Holloway.”

He looked at the globe. The red had turned to mauve, the mauve was becoming violet, and then clear blue. He felt better than he had felt since the afternoon Leonard Kellogg had told him about the Fuzzies.

“Then Fuzzies do think consciously, Dr. Mallin?” That was Pendarvis.

“Oh, yes. The fact that they use verbal symbols indicates that, even without other evidence. And the instrumental evidence was most impressive. The mentation pictures we got by encephalography compare very favorably with those of any human child of ten or twelve years old, and so does their learning and puzzle-solving ability. On puzzles, they always think the problem out first, and then do the mechanical work with about the same mental effort, say, as a man washing his hands or tying his neckcloth.”

The globe was perfectly blue. Mallin had given up trying to lie; he was simply gushing out everything he thought.

Leonard Kellogg slumped forward, his head buried in his elbows on the table, and misery washed over him in tides.

I am a murderer; I killed a person. Only a funny little person with fur, but she was a person, and I knew it when I killed her, I knew it when I saw that little grave out in the woods, and they’ll put me in that chair and make me admit it to everybody, and then they’ll take me out in the jail yard and somebody will shoot me through the head with a pistol, and—

And all the poor little thing wanted was to show me her new jingle!

“Does anybody want to ask the witness any questions?” the Chief Justice was asking.

“I don’t,” Captain Greibenfeld said. “Do you, Lieutenant?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Lieutenant Ybarra said. “Dr. Mallin’s given us a very lucid statement of his opinions.”

He had, at that, after he’d decided he couldn’t beat the veridicator. Jack found himself sympathizing with Mallin. He’d disliked the man from the first, but he looked different now—sort of cleaned and washed out inside. Maybe everybody ought to be veridicated, now and then, to teach them that honesty begins with honesty to self.

“Mr. Coombes?” Mr. Coombes looked as though he never wanted to ask another witness another question as long as he lived. “Mr. Brannhard?”

Gus got up, holding a sapient member of a sapient race who was hanging onto his beard, and thanked Ernst Mallin fulsomely.

“In that case, we’ll adjourn until o-nine-hundred tomorrow. Mr. Coombes, I have here a check on the chartered Zarathustra Company for twenty-five thousand sols. I am returning it to you and I am canceling Dr. Kellogg’s bail,” Judge Pendarvis said, as a couple of attendants began getting Mallin loose from the veridicator.

“Are you also canceling Jack Holloway’s?”

“No, and I would advise you not to make an issue of it, Mr. Coombes. The only reason I haven’t dismissed the charge against Mr. Holloway is that I don’t want to handicap you by cutting off your foothold in the prosecution. I do not consider Mr. Holloway a bail risk. I do so consider your client, Dr. Kellogg.”

“Frankly, your Honor, so do I,” Coombes admitted. “My protest was merely an example of what Dr. Mallin would call conditioned reflex.”

Then a crowd began pushing up around the table; Ben Rainsford, George Lunt and his troopers, Gerd and Ruth, shoving in among them, their arms around each other.

“We’ll be at the hotel after a while, Jack,” Gerd was saying. “Ruth and I are going out for a drink and something to eat; we’ll be around later to pick up her Fuzzies.”

Now his partner had his girl back, and his partner’s girl had a Fuzzy family of her own. This was going to be real fun. What were their names now? Syndrome, Complex, Id and Superego. The things some people named Fuzzies!

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