Respect for Elders (FEGHOOT XXV)

The long series of Feghoot tales was written by Reginald Bretnor under the pseudonym of Grendel Briarton. This story is credited with thanks to Lenore Sellers.

Ferdinand Feghoot, accompanied by his then youngest son, aged eight, rediscovered the curious planet of Robo-Cathay in 7282. He told the boy how its mechanical wonders had been created by refugees from what had been Communist China millenia before, and how man had abandoned it to the robots during the Thousand Year Plague. He showed him how these robots had preserved all the customs of their long-vanished masters, especially Confucius’ moral doctrine of filial piety, which was still their whole basis of law. Then, so that the lesson of this robotic respect for one’s elders should not be lost on the boy, he took him to see the Law Courts of Robo-Cathay.

They watched while a little machine was tried for “the most shameful unfilial behavior to its parent machine.” The little machine, which was designed to hold pieces of metal while the big machine worked on them, had very rudely refused.

“Papa, I don’t understand!” piped up young Feghoot, as the Judge prepared to pass sentence. “What does it mean? What’s wrong with the little machine?”

“My boy,” said Ferdinand Feghoot, . . . “it’s a vise child that noes its own father.”

(Copyright © 1960 by Mercury Press. First published in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, April 1960.)

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