The pair have a Philosophical discussion on whether to intervene if one of the animals/aliens being studied is in danger. One of them is for intervening and the other against altering what would have happened had they not been there.

At the end of the story one of the Naturalists is in grave peril and is rescued by another visiting Alien. It had been studying them and chose to intervene when necessary.

I read this sometime in the 1970's-1980's but can recall no other details.

  • 1
    This is an instance of the Alien Non-Interference Clause trope (warning: TV Tropes link), aka the "Prime Directive" in Star Trek lingo. Might aid in searching for this.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 10, 2019 at 20:03
  • 3
    If not for the part about one of the secret observers is in danger and is rescued by someone else from an even higher level of civilization, I might have thought you were describing an old Gordon R. Dickson story: "The Odd Ones." In his version, the two observers finally agree that it is their duty to protect the pair they've been observing (a human married couple who are pioneers; starting a farm on a newly discovered planet). But no one else was secretly watching the watchers all along . . .
    – Lorendiac
    Nov 11, 2019 at 1:13
  • 1
    I've read this, but it was decades ago and I now don't remember where I read it. The predator lives underground and catches prey by sending tentacles up though the ground. The biologists are watching it catch a deer-like animal when the man gets too close and is also grabbed by a tentacle. Nov 11, 2019 at 7:07
  • @JohnRennie with those details now I think I have read it as well! Pondering. Nov 17, 2019 at 2:44
  • Thanks John, that definitely sounds right. Hopefully this extra information will jog someones memory.
    – Seldon2k
    Feb 4, 2020 at 8:14


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