A short trunk, accompanied by an assortment of flailing limbs, tumbled rapturously over the vacant greenness. Its head bobbled greatly, leaving a faint trail of song behind it which fell slowly to the earth when it was ready. In this head was a brain, in the middle stages of development, and presiding over this brain was a keen mind whose edge glinted dangerously in her eyes.

The greenness came to an end, as did the tumbling. The song found itself dampened, but not extinguished, and with lips barely parted the little girl absorbed the horizon. A harsh, endless line had been drawn in the earth, and beyond it a potential hemisphere of scorched and broken ground with only the sparsest of vegetative punctuation presented itself proudly to her, delighting secretly in its inconvenience. Seeing that she was turning away to go back the way she had come, a lizard sprouted at her feet and forced a thin stream of words through his narrow throat.

“Yes! That’s it! Turn away! You choose well to avoid an encounter with this dangerous place!”

He knew what he was doing. She crouched down and asked him politely what was so dangerous about the place. He narrowed his eyes in premature satisfaction and explained to her with great scorn that it was full to the brim with murderous creatures and treacherous ground and only the bravest and strongest could be justified in entertaining any hopes of surviving it. His forked tongue whipped involuntarily over his reptilian maw as he awaited her answer.

“Thank you for warning me. I shall be sure to avoid this place in the future, if I can help it. Goodbye.”

Nothing in her tone suggested anything but a sincere gratitude for the unnecessary but informative advice she had received, and the lizard stood perfectly still for a little while as he tried to understand. While he did this, the little girl returned and said, “But, if I may ask, why do you stay here if it is so very dangerous?” After a pause, she continued, “Are you not afraid of being killed and eaten?”

This was simply too much, and the lizard darted into a nearby crack for safety. The girl retreated gaily, completely unaware.


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