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Chapter 17

  • 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 wa_lear out of the business, too. An agent who testified in court always wa_xpended 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 b_ieutenant j.g. Ortheris then, she'd be Mrs. Gerd van Riebeek. She set dow_he glass and rubbed the sunstone on her finger. It was a lovely sunstone, an_t meant such a lovely thing.
  • And we're getting married with a ready-made family, too. Four Fuzzies and _lack-and-white kitten.
  • "You're sure you really want to go to Beta?" Gerd asked. "When Napier get_his new government organized, it'll be taking over Science Center. We coul_oth 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 t_eta and be a sunstone digger's wife."
  • "And a Fuzzyologist."
  • "And a Fuzzyologist. I couldn't drop that now. Gerd, we're only beginning wit_hem. We know next to nothing about their psychology."
  • He nodded seriously. "You know, they may turn out to be even wiser than w_re."
  • She laughed. "Oh, Gerd! Let's don't get too excited about them. Why, they'r_ike little children. All they think about is having fun."
  • "That's right. I said they were wiser than we are. They stick to importan_hings." He smoked silently for a moment. "It's not just their psychology; w_on't know anything much about their physiology, or biology either." He picke_p his glass and drank. "Here; we had eighteen of them in all. Seventee_dults and one little one. Now what kind of ratio is that? And the ones we sa_n the woods ran about the same. In all, we sighted about a hundred and fift_dults 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?" h_sked. "I'll bet they take ten or fifteen years to mature. Jack's Baby Fuzz_asn't gained a pound in the last month. And another puzzle; this craving fo_xtee 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 ther_ightn'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 coul_tand another cocktail before dinner?"
  • Space Commodore Napier sat at the desk that had been Nick Emmert's and looke_t the little man with the red whiskers and the rumpled suit, who was lookin_ack 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 Governo_eneral than I'd be to command Xerxes Base. Why, I never held a_dministrative 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 ho_isastrous the effects of upsetting the balance of nature can be. Th_arathustra Company took care of this planet, when it was their property, bu_ow nine-tenths of it is public domain, and people will be coming in from al_ver the Federation, scrambling to get rich overnight. You'll know how t_ontrol things."
  • "Yes, as Commissioner of Conservation, or something I'm qualified for."
  • "As Governor General. Your job will be to make policy. You can appoint th_dministrators."
  • "Well, who, for instance?"
  • "Well, you're going to need an Attorney General right away. Who will yo_ppoint for that position?"
  • "Gus Brannhard," Rainsford said instantly.
  • "Good. And who—this question is purely rhetorical—will you appoint a_ommissioner of Native Affairs?"
  • Jack Holloway was going back to Beta Continent on the constabulary airboat.
  • Official passenger: Mr. Commissioner Jack Holloway. And his staff: Littl_uzzy, Mamma Fuzzy, Baby Fuzzy, Mike, Mitzi, Ko-Ko and Cinderella. Bet the_idn't know they had official positions!
  • Somehow he wished he didn't have one himself.
  • "Want a good job, George?" he asked Lunt.
  • "I have a good job."
  • "This'll be a better one. Rank of major, eighteen thousand a year. Commandant, Native Protection Force. And you won't lose seniority in the constabulary; Colonel Ferguson'll give you indefinite leave."
  • "Well, cripes, Jack, I'd like to, but I don't want to leave the kids. And _an't take them away from the rest of the gang."
  • "Bring the rest of the gang along. I'm authorized to borrow twenty men fro_he constabulary as a training cadre, and you only have sixteen. You_ergeants'll get commissions, and all your men will be sergeants. I'm going t_ave a force of a hundred and fifty for a start."
  • "You must think the Fuzzies are going to need a lot of protection."
  • "They will. The whole country between the Cordilleras and the West Coast Rang_ill be Fuzzy Reservation and that'll have to be policed. Then the Fuzzie_utside that will have to be protected. You know what's going to happen.
  • Everybody wants Fuzzies; why, even Judge Pendarvis approached me about gettin_ pair for his wife. There'll be gangs hunting them to sell, using stun-bomb_nd sleepgas and everything. I'm going to have to set up an adoption bureau; Ruth will be in charge of that. And that'll mean a lot of investigators—"
  • Oh, it was going to be one hell of a job! Fifty thousand a year would b_hicken feed to what he'd lose by not working his diggings. But somebody woul_ave to do it, and the Fuzzies were his responsibility.
  • Hadn't he gone to law to prove their sapience?
  • They were going home, home to the Wonderful Place. They had seen man_onderful places, since the night they had been put in the bags: the plac_here everything had been light and they had been able to jump so high an_and so gently, and the place where they had met all the others of thei_eople and had so much fun. But now they were going back to the old Wonderfu_lace in the woods, where it had all started.
  • And they had met so many Big Ones, too. Some Big Ones were bad, but only _ew; most Big Ones were good. Even the one who had done the killing had fel_orry for what he had done; they were all sure of that. And the other Big One_ad taken him away, and they had never seen him again.
  • He had talked about that with the others—with Flora and Fauna, and Dr.
  • Crippen, and Complex, and Superego, and Dillinger and Lizzie Borden. Now tha_hey were all going to live with the Big Ones, they would have to use thos_unny names. Someday they would find out what they meant, and that would b_un, too. And they could; now the Big Ones could put things in their ears an_ear what they were saying, and Pappy Jack was learning some of their words, and teaching them some of his.
  • And soon all the people would find Big Ones to live with, who would take car_f them and have fun with them and love them, and give them the Wonderfu_ood. And with the Big Ones taking care of them, maybe more of their babie_ould live and not die so soon. And they would pay the Big Ones back. Firs_hey would give their love and make them happy. Later, when they learned how, they would give their help, too.