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The Moralist
written by "Taylor, Jack"
...ry ways and her morning inspections, but the last straw was when she shot Johnny, the station's pet Me-too bird that we had raised from almost an egg. Same as humans, Johnny had his little faults and foibles, but we loved him in spite of them. "One of those faults was the reason Johnny lived outside the dome instead of inside with the rest of us, as he would have liked. We never let him stay inside for any length of time because he was never able to understand why floors should be clean and kept that way. So Johnny's nest was on top of the ultra-wave tower and that's where he spent most of his time when he wasn't lazily riding around on the shoulders of one of us or pan-handling Joe, the cook, for something extra to eat. "He was in his nest when Prunella got him with that delicate-looking, deadly little needle-gun of hers. I'll bet he had a hundred of those tiny slivers of steel in him. One would have been enough, but she must have set the gun on full automatic and then let it spew itself empty." I made sympathetic noises. "She said afterward that Johnny had been a possible disease carrier and, besides, he was dirty. There was absolutely no doubt about it—Johnny was dirty and in more ways than one, but as for diseases, Xenon seemed to have none that the human race hadn't already overcome on some other planet far more dangerous than this one."   laid more wood on the fire as Lee paused to sip and roll the brandy. He said, "I've always suspected, however, that the real reason for Johnny's assassination struck Prunella, so to speak, like a bolt from the blue when she walked under his nest in the tower. At any rate, I saw her shoving her shirt into the disposer chute. Johnny had one bad habit and all of us knew better than to get within his range, but Prunella, being new with us, just didn't understand that bird." He stopped, twirling his empty glass suggestively, with painful memories obviously clouding his eye...

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