Little Fuzzy – Day 76 of 77

This time, instead of keeping quiet, everybody made all the noise they could, and Uncle Gus was holding him high over his head and shouting:

“The winnah! By unanimous decision!”


Ruth Ortheris sipped at the tart, cold cocktail. It was good; oh, it was good, all good! The music was soft, the lights were dim, the tables were far apart; just she and Gerd, and nobody was paying any attention to them. And she was clear out of the business, too. An agent who testified in court always was expended in service like a fired round. They’d want her back, a year from now, to testify when the board of inquiry came out from Terra, but she wouldn’t be Lieutenant j.g. Ortheris then, she’d be Mrs. Gerd van Riebeek. She set down the glass and rubbed the sunstone on her finger. It was a lovely sunstone, and it meant such a lovely thing.

And we’re getting married with a ready-made family, too. Four Fuzzies and a black-and-white kitten.

“You’re sure you really want to go to Beta?” Gerd asked. “When Napier gets this new government organized, it’ll be taking over Science Center. We could both get our old jobs back. Maybe something better.”

“You don’t want to go back?” He shook his head. “Neither do I. I want to go to Beta and be a sunstone digger’s wife.”

“And a Fuzzyologist.”

“And a Fuzzyologist. I couldn’t drop that now. Gerd, we’re only beginning with them. We know next to nothing about their psychology.”

He nodded seriously. “You know, they may turn out to be even wiser than we are.”

She laughed. “Oh, Gerd! Let’s don’t get too excited about them. Why, they’re like little children. All they think about is having fun.”

“That’s right. I said they were wiser than we are. They stick to important things.” He smoked silently for a moment. “It’s not just their psychology; we don’t know anything much about their physiology, or biology either.” He picked up his glass and drank. “Here; we had eighteen of them in all. Seventeen adults and one little one. Now what kind of ratio is that? And the ones we saw in the woods ran about the same. In all, we sighted about a hundred and fifty adults and only ten children.”

“Maybe last year’s crop have grown up,” she began.

“You know any other sapient races with a one-year maturation period?” he asked. “I’ll bet they take ten or fifteen years to mature. Jack’s Baby Fuzzy hasn’t gained a pound in the last month. And another puzzle; this craving for Extee Three. That’s not a natural food; except for the cereal bulk matter, it’s purely synthetic. I was talking to Ybarra; he was wondering if there mightn’t be something in it that caused an addiction.”

“Maybe it satisfies some kind of dietary deficiency.”

“Well, we’ll find out.” He inverted the jug over his glass. “Think we could stand another cocktail before dinner?”

Space Commodore Napier sat at the desk that had been Nick Emmert’s and looked at the little man with the red whiskers and the rumpled suit, who was looking back at him in consternation.

“Good Lord, Commodore; you can’t be serious?”

“But I am. Quite serious, Dr. Rainsford.”

“Then you’re nuts!” Rainsford exploded. “I’m no more qualified to be Governor General than I’d be to command Xerxes Base. Why, I never held an administrative position in my life.”

“That might be a recommendation. You’re replacing a veteran administrator.”

“And I have a job. The Institute of Zeno-Sciences—”

“I think they’ll be glad to give you leave, under the circumstances. Doctor, you’re the logical man for this job. You’re an ecologist; you know how disastrous the effects of upsetting the balance of nature can be. The Zarathustra Company took care of this planet, when it was their property, but now nine-tenths of it is public domain, and people will be coming in from all over the Federation, scrambling to get rich overnight. You’ll know how to control things.”

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