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Author: Michael Crichton

"Well, Peter my boy," Weldon said, reaching out to give his version of a hearty handshake. "You're in early."

Elliot was instantly wary. "I thought I'd beat the crowds," he said. The picketers did not show up until ten o'clock, sometimes later, depending on when they had arranged to meet the TV news crews. That was how it worked these days:

protest by appointment.

"They're not coming anymore." Weldon smiled.

He handed Elliot the late city edition of the Chronicle, a front-page story circled in black pen. Eleanor Vries had resigned her position as regional director of the PPA, pleading overwork and personal pressures; a statement from the PPA in New York indicated that they had seriously misconstrued the nature and content of Elliot's research.

"Meaning what?" Elliot asked.

"Belli's office reviewed your paper and Vries's public statements about torture, and decided that the PPA was exposed to a major libel suit," Weldon said. "The New York office is terrified. They'll be making overtures to you later today. Personally, I hope you'll be understanding."

Elliot dropped into his chair. "What about the faculty meeting next week?"

"Oh, that's essential," Weldon said. "There's no question that the faculty will want to discuss unethical conduct - on the part of the media, and issue a strong statement in your support. I'm drawing up a statement now, to come from my office."

The irony of this was not lost on Elliot. "You sure you want to go out on a limb?" he asked,

"I'm behind you one thousand percent, I hope you know that," Weldon said. Weldon was restless, pacing around the office, staring at the walls, which were covered with Amy's finger paintings. Windy had something further on his mind. "She's still making these same pictures?" he asked, finally.

"Yes," Elliot said.

"And you still have no idea what they mean?"

Elliot paused; at best it was premature to tell Weldon what they thought the pictures meant. "No idea," he said.

"Are you sure?" Weldon asked, frowning. "I think somebody knows what they mean."

"Why is that?"

"Something very strange has happened," Weldon said. "Someone has offered to buy Amy."

"To buy her? What are you talking about, to buy her?"

"A lawyer in Los Angeles called my office yesterday and offered to buy her for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

"It must be some rich do-gooder," Elliot said, "trying to save Amy from torture."

"I don't think so," Weldon said. "For one thing, the otter came from Japan. Someone named Morikawa - he's in electronics in Tokyo. I found that out when the lawyer called back this morning, to increase his offer to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

"Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars?" Elliot said. "For Amy?" Of course it was out of the question. He would never sell her. But why would anyone offer so much money?

Weldon had an answer. "This kind of money, a quarter of a million dollars, can only be coming from private enterprise. Industry. Clearly, Morikawa has read about your work and found a use for speaking primates in an industrial context." Windy stared at the ceiling, a sure sign he was about to wax eloquent. "I think a new field might be opening up here, the training of primates for industrial applications in the real world."

Peter Elliot swore. He was not teaching Amy language in order to put a hard hat on her head and a lunch pail in her hand, and he said so.

"You're not thinking it through," Weldon said. "What if we are on the verge of a new field of applied behavior for the great apes? Think what it means. Not only funding to the Department, and an opportunity for applied research. Most important, there would be a reason to keep these animals alive. You know that the great apes are becoming extinct.

The chimps in Africa are greatly reduced in number. The orangs of Borneo are losing their natural habitat to the timber cutters and will be extinct in ten years. The gorilla is down to three thousand in the central African forests. These animals will all disappear in our lifetime - unless there is a reason to keep them alive, as a species. You may provide that reason, Peter my boy. Think about it."

Elliot did think about it, and he discussed it at the Project Amy staff meeting at ten o'clock. They considered possible industrial applications for apes, and possible advantages to employers, such as the lack of unions and fringe benefits. In the late twentieth century, these were major considerations. (In 1978, for each new automobile that rolled off the Detroit assembly lines, the cost of worker health benefits exceeded the cost of all the steel used to build the car.)

But they concluded that a vision of "industrialized apes"

was wildly fanciful. An ape like Amy was not a cheap and stupid version of a human worker. Quite the opposite: Amy was a highly intelligent and complex creature out of her element in the modern industrial world. She demanded a great deal of supervision; she was whimsical and unreliable; and her health was always at risk. It simply didn't make sense to use her in industry. If Morikawa had visions of apes wielding soldering irons on a microelectronic assembly line, building TVs and hi-fl sets, he was sorely misinformed.

The only note of caution came from Bergman, the child psychologist. "A quarter of a million is a lot of money," he said, "and Mr. Morikawa is probably no fool. He must have learned about Amy through her drawings, which imply she is neurotic and difficult. If he's interested in her, I'd bet it's because of her drawings. But I can't imagine why those drawings should be worth a quarter of a million dollars."

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