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.