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The Asses of Balaam   By: (1927-1987)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact Fiction October 1961. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.






Illustrated by Schoenherr

The remarkable characteristic of Balaam's ass was that it was more perceptive than its master. Sometimes a child is more perceptive because more straightforward and logical than an adult....


It is written in the Book of Numbers that Balaam, a wise man of the Moabites, having been ordered by the King of Moab to put a curse upon the invading Israelites, mounted himself upon an ass and rode forth toward the camp of the Children of Israel. On the road, he met an angel with drawn sword, barring the way. Balaam, not seeing or recognizing the angel, kept urging his ass forward, but the ass recognized the angel and turned aside. Balaam smote the beast and forced it to return to the path, and again the angel blocked the way with drawn sword. And again the ass turned aside, despite the beating from Balaam, who, in his blindness, was unable to see the angel.

When the ass stopped for the third time and lay down, refusing to go further, Balaam waxed exceeding wrath and smote again the animal with a stick.

Then the ass spoke and said: "Why dost thou beat me? I have always obeyed thee and never have I failed thee. Have I ever been known to fail thee? "

And Balaam answered: "No." And at that moment his eyes were opened and he saw the angel before him.


by Ceggawynn of Eboricum

With the careful precision of controlled anger, Dodeth Pell rippled a stomp along his right side. Clop clopclop clop clopclop clop clop clop clop clopclop.... Each of his twelve right feet came down in turn while he glared across the business bench at Wygor Bedis. He started the ripple again, while he waited for Wygor's answer. The ripple was a good deal more effective than just tapping one's fingers, and equally as satisfying.

Wygor Bedis twitched his mouth and allowed his eyelids to slide up over his eyeballs in a slow blink before answering. Dodeth had simply asked, "Why wasn't this reported to me before?" But Wygor couldn't find the answer as simply as that. Not that he didn't have a good answer; it was just that he wanted to couch it in exactly the right terms. Dodeth had a way with raking sarcasm that made a person tend to cringe.

Dodeth was perfectly well aware of that. He hadn't been in the Executive Office of Predator Council all these years for nothing; he knew how to handle people when to praise them, when to flatter them, when to rebuke them, and when to drag them unmercifully over the shell bed.

He waited, his right legs marching out their steady rhythm.

"Well," said Wygor at last, "it was just that I couldn't see any point in bothering you with it at that point. I mean, one specimen "

"Of an entirely new species!" snapped Dodeth in a sudden interruption. His legs stopped their rhythmic tramp. His voice rose from its usual eight thousand cycle rumble to a shrill squeak. "Fry it, Wygor, if you weren't such a good field man, I'd have sacked you long ago! Your trouble is that you have a penchant for bringing me problems that you ought to be able to solve by yourself and then flipping right over on your back and holding off on some information that ought to be brought to my attention immediately!"

There wasn't much Wygor could say to that, so he didn't try... Continue reading book >>

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