en-de  Isaac_Asimov_Youth_chapter1 Easy
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31547/31547-h/31547-h.htm. (Gutenberg Lizenz).

Isaac Asimov: Youth (auf Deutsch: "Jugend"); 1. Kapitel

Red und Slim fanden die zwei seltsamen kleinen Tiere an dem Morgen, nachdem sie die Donnergeräusche gehört hatten. Sie wussten, sie würden ihre neuen Haustiere nie ihren Eltern zeigen können.

Es gab ein Prasseln von Kieselsteinen gegen das Fenster und der Jugendliche rührte sich im Schlaf. Noch einer, und er war wach.

Er setzte sich steif im Bett auf. Sekunden verstrichen, während er seine seltsame Umgebung deutete. Er war natürlich nicht in seinem eigenen Haus. Das war draußen auf dem Land. Es war kälter, als es sein sollte und es war etwas Grünes am Fenster.

"Slim!"

Der Ruf war ein heiseres, eindringliches Geflüster, und der Jugendliche machte einen Satz zum geöffneten Fenster.

Slim war nicht sein richtiger Name, aber es hatte nur einen Blickes auf die dünne Gestalt bedurft, die er am vorherigen Tag getroffen hatte, um zu sagen, "Du bist Slim". Er fügte hinzu: "Ich bin Red."

Red war auch nicht sein richtiger Name, aber seine Eignung lag auf der Hand. Sie wurden sofort Freunde, mit der schnellen bedingungslosen Freundschaft von Jugendlichen, die noch nicht ganz in der Pubertät waren, bevor sogar die ersten Makel des Erwachsenseins begannen, in Erscheinung zu treten.

Slim rief, "Hallo, Red!" , und winkte fröhlich, dabei noch schläfrig mit den Augen blinzelnd.

Red blieb bei seinem krächzenden Flüstern, "Still! Willst du jemand aufwecken?"

Slim bemerkte sofort, dass die Sonne kaum über den niedrigen Hügeln im Osten lag, dass die Schatten lang und weich waren, und dass das Gras nass war.

Slim sagte leiser, "Was ist los?"

Red winkte ihm zu, heraus zu kommen.

Slim zog sich schnell an, und beschränkte seine Morgentoilette auf das kurze Besprühen mit etwas lauwarmem Wasser. Er ließ die Luft die unbedeckten Teile des Körpers trocknen, als er nach draußen rannte, während nackte Haut wegen des taufeuchten Grases nass wurde.

Red sagte: "Du musst leise sein. Wenn Mutter aufwacht, oder Vater, oder dein Vater, oder selbst einer der Arbeitskräfte, wird es heißen "Mach, dass du rein kommst oder die Kälte wird dich umbringen."

Er äffte die Stimme und die Stimmlage so getreu nach, dass Slim lachte und dachte, es hätte nie so einen lustigen Burschen wie Red gegeben.

Slim sagte erwartungsvoll: "Kommst du hier jeden Tag so raus, Red? Schon so früh? Es ist, als ob die ganze Welt nur dir gehört, nicht wahr, Red? Keiner sonst hier herum und dergleichen." Er war stolz darüber, dass ihm erlaubt war, in diese private Welt einzutreten.

Red starrte ihn von der Seite an. Er sagte achtlos: "Ich bin seit Stunden auf. Hast du es letzte Nacht nicht gehört?"

"Was gehört?"

"Donner."

"Gab es ein Gewitter?" Slim schlief nie während eines Gewitters.

"Ich glaube nicht. Aber es donnerte. Ich habe es gehört und ging dann zum Fenster und es hat nicht geregnet. Da waren überall Sterne und der Himmel war dabei, irgendwie beinahe grau zu werden. Weißt du, was ich meine?"

Slim hatte es noch nie so gesehen, aber er nickte.

"Deshalb dachte ich einfach, ich sollte rausgehen", sagte Red.

Sie gingen die grasbewachsene Seite der Betonstraße entlang, die das Panorama in der Mitte bis hinunter zu dem Punkt teilte, an dem sie zwischen den Hügeln verschwand.

Sie war so alt, dass Reds Vater Red nicht sagen konnte, wann es gebaut worden war. Sie hatte keinen Riss oder holprige Stelle.

Red sagte, "Kannst du ein Geheimnis behalten?"

"Klar doch, Red. Was für eine Art von Geheimnis?"

"Einfach ein Geheimnis. Vielleicht werde ich es dir sagen und vielleicht auch nicht. Ich weiß noch nicht." Red brach einen langen schlanken Stiel von einem Farn, an dem sie vorübergingen, entfernte methodisch seine Blättchen und schwenkte das, was übrig war, wie eine Peitsche.

Für einen Augenblick war er auf einem wilden Streitross, das sich aufbäumte und unter seiner eisernen Kontrolle schnaubte. Dann langweilte es ihn, er warf die Peitsche weg und versteckte das Streitross in einer Ecke seiner Vorstellung, um es später zu verwenden.

Er sagte, "Ein Zirkus wird vorbeikommen."

Slim sagte: "Das ist kein Geheimnis. Ich wusste das. Mein Vater erzählte es mir sogar, bevor wir hierhin kamen -" "Das ist nicht das Geheimnis. Feines Geheimnis! Schon mal einen Zirkus gesehen?"

"Na klar. Kannst drauf wetten."

"So wie den?"

"Sag, es gibt nichts Besseres, was ich mag."

Red beobachtete wieder aus seinen Augenwinkeln heraus. "Hast du jemals daran gedacht, dass du gerne beim Zirkus wärst? Für immer, meine ich?"

Slim überlegte: "Ich glaube nicht. Ich denke, ich will Astronom werden, wie mein Vater. Ich glaube, er möchte, dass ich es werde."

"Hui! Astronom!" sagte Red.

Slim fühlte, dass sich ihm die Tore der neuen, privaten Welt verschlossen, und Astronomie wurde eine Sache toter Sterne und eines schwarzen, leeren Weltraums.

Beschwichtigend sagte er: "Ein Zirkus würde mehr Spaß machen."

"Das sagst du nur so."

"Nein, tue ich nicht. Ich meine es so."

Red wurde streitlustig. "Nimm mal an, du hättest gerade jetzt eine Chance, dich dem Zirkus anzuschließen. Was würdest du tun?"

"Ich- ich-" "Sieh!" Red befiel verächtliches Lachen.

Slim war gekränkt. "Ich würde mich anheuern lassen."

"Red' weiter."

"Wetten das."

Red verdrehte seine Augen, seltsam und intensiv. "Du meinst es ernst? Du möchtest mit mir hineingehen?"

"Was meinst du?" Slim trat ein wenig zurück, überrascht von der unverhofften Herausforderung.

"Ich habe etwas, das uns in den Zirkus hineinbringen kann. Vielleicht kann uns eines Tages sogar ein eigener Zirkus gehören. Wir könnten die wichtigsten Zirkusleute der Welt sein.

Aber nur, wenn du mit mir zusammen reingehen willst. Ansonsten - gut, ich schätze, ich schaffe das auch alleine. Ich dachte nur: "Geben wir doch dem guten alten Slim eine Chance.“

Die Welt war fremd und glamourös, und Slim sagte: "Na klar, Red. Ich bin dabei! Was ist es, hä, Red? Sag mir, was es ist."

"Finde es heraus. Was ist die wichtigste Sache im Zirkus?"

Slim dachte krampfhaft nach. Er wollte die passende Antwort geben. Schließlich sagte er:"Akrobaten?"

"Heiliger Bimbam! Ich würde keine fünf Schritte gehen, um mir Akrobaten anzusehen."

"Dann weiß ich es nicht."

"Tiere, das ist es, was zählt! Was ist die beste Nebenattraktion? Wo ist der größte Andrang? Auch in den Haupt-Manegen sind die besten Darbietungen Tiernummern." Es gab keinen Zweifel in Reds Stimme.

"Glaubst du das wirklich?"

"Jeder denkt so. Frag mal jemanden. Wie dem auch sei, ich habe heute morgen Tiere gefunden. Zwei davon."

"Und hast du sie?"

"Klar. Das ist das Geheimnis. Verrätst du es mir?"

"Natürlich nicht."

"Dann eben nicht. Ich habe sie im Stall. Willst du sie sehen?"

Sie waren fast am Stall, seinem großen schwarzen Tor. Zu schwarz. Sie waren die ganze Zeit darauf zugesteuert. Slim blieb abrupt stehen.

Er versuchte, seine Worte beiläufig klingen zu lassen. "Sind sie groß?"

"Würde ich mich auf sie einlassen, wenn sie groß wären? Sie können dir nichts anhaben. Sie sind nur etwa so lang. Ich habe sie in einem Käfig."

Sie waren jetzt im Stall und Slim sah den großen Käfig, der an einem Haken unterm Dach aufgehängt war. Er war mit steifer Plane abgedeckt.

Red sagte: "Früher hatten wir dort einen Vogel oder so was. Jedenfalls kommen sie da nicht raus. Los, lass uns zum Dachboden hoch gehen."

Sie stiegen die hölzernen Stufen hinauf und Red zog den Käfig mit einem Haken zu ihnen hin.

Slim zeigte darauf und sagte: "Da ist irgend so ein Loch im Segeltuch."

Red runzelte die Stirn. "Wie ist das da rein gekommen?" Er hob die Plane hoch, schaute hinein und sagte mit Erleichterung: "Sie sind noch da."

"Die Plane sieht aus, als wäre sie angebrannt", beunruhigte sich Slim.

"Willst du nun gucken oder nicht?"

Slim nickte bedächtig. Er war sich nicht sicher, ob er das überhaupt wollte. Sie könnten - Aber die Plane war weggerissen worden und da waren sie. Zwei davon, so wie Red es sagte. Sie waren klein und sahen irgendwie abstoßend aus. Die Tiere bewegten sich schnell, als die Plane hochgehoben wurde und waren auf der Seite in Richtung der Jugendlichen. Red stubste sie behutsam mit dem Finger.

"Pass auf", sagte Slim sehr besorgt.

"Sie tun dir schon nichts", sagte Red. "Hast du schon mal so etwas wie die gesehen?"

"Nein."

"Kannst du nicht sehen, wie ein Zirkus sich auf so eine Gelegenheit stürzen würde, sie zu bekommen?"

"Vielleicht sind sie zu klein für einen Zirkus."

Red sah verärgert aus. Er ließ den Käfig los, der wie ein Pendel hin- und her schwang. "Du versuchst doch nur einen Rückzieher zu machen, nicht wahr?"

Nein, das mache ich nicht. Es ist nur - " "Sie sind nicht zu klein, keine Sorge. Im Moment habe ich nur eine einzige Sorge."

"Um was geht es?"

"Na ja, ich muss sie versorgen bis der Zirkus kommt, nicht wahr? Mittlerweile, muss ich herausfinden was ich ihnen zu fressen geben soll."

Der Käfig schwang hin und her, und die kleinen gefangenen Kreaturen klammerten sich an seine Gitterstäbe und gestikulierten mit seltsamen, schnellen Bewegungen zu den Kindern – fast so, als ob sie intelligent wären.
unit 1
ttp://www.gutenberg.org/files/31547/31547-h/31547-h.htm.
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(Gutenberg License).
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unit 3
Isaac Asimov: YOUTH_chapter_1.
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Red and Slim found the two strange little animals the morning after they heard the thunder sounds.
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They knew that they could never show their new pets to their parents.
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There was a spatter of pebbles against the window and the youngster stirred in his sleep.
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Another, and he was awake.
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He sat up stiffly in bed.
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Seconds passed while he interpreted his strange surroundings.
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He wasn't in his own home, of course.
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This was out in the country.
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It was colder than it should be and there was green at the window.
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"Slim!"
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The call was a hoarse, urgent whisper, and the youngster bounded to the open window.
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He added, "I'm Red."
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Red wasn't his real name, either, but its appropriateness was obvious.
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Slim cried, "Hi, Red!"
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and waved cheerfully, still blinking the sleep out of himself.
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Red kept to his croaking whisper, "Quiet!
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You want to wake somebody?"
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Slim said, more softly, "What's the matter?"
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Red only waved for him to come out.
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Red said, "You've got to be quiet.
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Slim said, eagerly, "Do you come out here every day like this, Red?
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Real early?
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It's like the whole world is just yours, isn't it, Red?
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No one else around and all like that."
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He felt proud at being allowed entrance into this private world.
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Red stared at him sidelong.
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He said carelessly, "I've been up for hours.
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Didn't you hear it last night?"
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"Hear what?"
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"Thunder."
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"Was there a thunderstorm?"
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Slim never slept through a thunderstorm.
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"I guess not.
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But there was thunder.
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I heard it, and then I went to the window and it wasn't raining.
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It was all stars and the sky was just getting sort of almost gray.
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You know what I mean?"
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Slim had never seen it so, but he nodded.
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"So I just thought I'd go out," said Red.
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It was so old that Red's father couldn't tell Red when it had been built.
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It didn't have a crack or a rough spot in it.
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Red said, "Can you keep a secret?"
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"Sure, Red.
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What kind of a secret?"
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"Just a secret.
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Maybe I'll tell you and maybe I won't.
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I don't know yet."
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For a moment, he was on a wild charger, which reared and champed under his iron control.
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He said, "There'll be a circus around."
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Slim said, "That's no secret.
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I knew that.
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My Dad told me even before we came here—" "That's not the secret.
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Fine secret!
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Ever see a circus?"
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"Oh, sure.
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You bet."
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"Like it?"
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"Say, there isn't anything I like better."
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Red was watching out of the corner of his eyes again.
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"Ever think you would like to be with a circus?
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I mean, for good?"
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Slim considered, "I guess not.
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I think I'll be an astronomer like my Dad.
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I think he wants me to be."
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"Huh!
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Astronomer!"
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said Red.
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He said, placatingly, "A circus would be more fun."
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"You're just saying that."
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"No, I'm not.
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I mean it."
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Red grew argumentative.
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"Suppose you had a chance to join the circus right now.
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What would you do?"
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"I—I—" "See!"
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Red affected scornful laughter.
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Slim was stung.
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"I'd join up."
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"Go on."
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"Try me."
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Red whirled at him, strange and intense.
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"You meant that?
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You want to go in with me?"
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"What do you mean?"
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Slim stepped back a bit, surprised by the unexpected challenge.
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"I got something that can get us into the circus.
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Maybe someday we can even have a circus of our own.
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We could be the biggest circus-fellows in the world.
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That's if you want to go in with me.
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Otherwise—Well, I guess I can do it on my own.
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I just thought: Let's give good old Slim a chance."
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The world was strange and glamorous, and Slim said, "Sure thing, Red.
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I'm in!
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What is it, huh, Red?
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Tell me what it is."
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"Figure it out.
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What's the most important thing in circuses?"
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Slim thought desperately.
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He wanted to give the right answer.
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Finally, he said, "Acrobats?"
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"Holy Smokes!
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I wouldn't go five steps to look at acrobats."
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"I don't know then."
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"Animals, that's what!
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What's the best side-show?
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Where are the biggest crowds?
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Even in the main rings the best acts are animal acts."
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There was no doubt in Red's voice.
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"Do you think so?"
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"Everyone thinks so.
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You ask anyone.
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Anyway, I found animals this morning.
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Two of them."
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"And you've got them?"
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"Sure.
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That's the secret.
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Are you telling?"
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"Of course not."
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"Okay.
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I've got them in the barn.
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Do you want to see them?"
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They were almost at the barn; its huge open door black.
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Too black.
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They had been heading there all the time.
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Slim stopped in his tracks.
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He tried to make his words casual.
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"Are they big?"
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"Would I fool with them if they were big?
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They can't hurt you.
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They're only about so long.
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I've got them in a cage."
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They were in the barn now and Slim saw the large cage suspended from a hook in the roof.
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unit 147
It was covered with stiff canvas.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 148
Red said, "We used to have some bird there or something.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 149
Anyway, they can't get away from there.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 150
Come on, let's go up to the loft."
1 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 151
They clambered up the wooden stairs and Red hooked the cage toward them.
3 Translations, 7 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 152
Slim pointed and said, "There's sort of a hole in the canvas."
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 153
Red frowned.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 154
"How'd that get there?"
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 155
He lifted the canvas, looked in, and said, with relief, "They're still there."
1 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 156
"The canvas appeared to be burned," worried Slim.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 157
"You want to look, or don't you?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 158
Slim nodded slowly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 159
He wasn't sure he wanted to, after all.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 160
They might be— But the canvas had been jerked off and there they were.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 161
Two of them, the way Red said.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 162
They were small, and sort of disgusting-looking.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 163
The animals moved quickly as the canvas lifted and were on the side toward the youngsters.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 164
Red poked a cautious finger at them.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 165
"Watch out," said Slim, in agony.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 166
"They don't hurt you," said Red.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 167
"Ever see anything like them?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 168
"No."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 169
"Can't you see how a circus would jump at a chance to have these?"
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 170
"Maybe they're too small for a circus."
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 171
Red looked annoyed.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 172
He let go the cage which swung back and forth pendulum-fashion.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 9 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 173
"You're just trying to back out, aren't you?"
2 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 174
"No, I'm not.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 175
It's just—" "They're not too small, don't worry.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 176
Right now, I've only got one worry."
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 177
"What's that?"
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 178
"Well, I've got to keep them till the circus comes, don't I?
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 179
I've got to figure out what to feed them meanwhile."
3 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
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bf2010 • 10880  translated  unit 13  9 months, 3 weeks ago

ttp://www.gutenberg.org/files/31547/31547-h/31547-h.htm. (Gutenberg License).

Isaac Asimov: YOUTH_chapter_1.

Red and Slim found the two strange little animals the morning after they heard the thunder sounds. They knew that they could never show their new pets to their parents.

There was a spatter of pebbles against the window and the youngster stirred in his sleep. Another, and he was awake.

He sat up stiffly in bed. Seconds passed while he interpreted his strange surroundings. He wasn't in his own home, of course. This was out in the country. It was colder than it should be and there was green at the window.

"Slim!"

The call was a hoarse, urgent whisper, and the youngster bounded to the open window.

Slim wasn't his real name, but the new friend he had met the day before had needed only one look at his slight figure to say, "You're Slim." He added, "I'm Red."

Red wasn't his real name, either, but its appropriateness was obvious. They were friends instantly with the quick unquestioning friendship of young ones not yet quite in adolescence, before even the first stains of adulthood began to make their appearance.

Slim cried, "Hi, Red!" and waved cheerfully, still blinking the sleep out of himself.

Red kept to his croaking whisper, "Quiet! You want to wake somebody?"

Slim noticed all at once that the sun scarcely topped the low hills in the east, that the shadows were long and soft, and that the grass was wet.

Slim said, more softly, "What's the matter?"

Red only waved for him to come out.

Slim dressed quickly, gladly confining his morning wash to the momentary sprinkle of a little lukewarm water. He let the air dry the exposed portions of his body as he ran out, while bare skin grew wet against the dewy grass.

Red said, "You've got to be quiet. If Mom wakes up or Dad or your Dad or even any of the hands then it'll be 'Come on in or you'll catch your death of cold.'"

He mimicked voice and tone faithfully, so that Slim laughed and thought that there had never been so funny a fellow as Red.

Slim said, eagerly, "Do you come out here every day like this, Red? Real early? It's like the whole world is just yours, isn't it, Red? No one else around and all like that." He felt proud at being allowed entrance into this private world.

Red stared at him sidelong. He said carelessly, "I've been up for hours. Didn't you hear it last night?"

"Hear what?"

"Thunder."

"Was there a thunderstorm?" Slim never slept through a thunderstorm.

"I guess not. But there was thunder. I heard it, and then I went to the window and it wasn't raining. It was all stars and the sky was just getting sort of almost gray. You know what I mean?"

Slim had never seen it so, but he nodded.

"So I just thought I'd go out," said Red.

They walked along the grassy side of the concrete road that split the panorama right down the middle all the way down to where it vanished among the hills.

It was so old that Red's father couldn't tell Red when it had been built. It didn't have a crack or a rough spot in it.

Red said, "Can you keep a secret?"

"Sure, Red. What kind of a secret?"

"Just a secret. Maybe I'll tell you and maybe I won't. I don't know yet." Red broke a long, supple stem from a fern they passed, methodically stripped it of its leaflets and swung what was left whip-fashion.

For a moment, he was on a wild charger, which reared and champed under his iron control. Then he got tired, tossed the whip aside and stowed the charger away in a corner of his imagination for future use.

He said, "There'll be a circus around."

Slim said, "That's no secret. I knew that. My Dad told me even before we came here—"

"That's not the secret. Fine secret! Ever see a circus?"

"Oh, sure. You bet."

"Like it?"

"Say, there isn't anything I like better."

Red was watching out of the corner of his eyes again. "Ever think you would like to be with a circus? I mean, for good?"

Slim considered, "I guess not. I think I'll be an astronomer like my Dad. I think he wants me to be."

"Huh! Astronomer!" said Red.

Slim felt the doors of the new, private world closing on him and astronomy became a thing of dead stars and black, empty space.

He said, placatingly, "A circus would be more fun."

"You're just saying that."

"No, I'm not. I mean it."

Red grew argumentative. "Suppose you had a chance to join the circus right now. What would you do?"

"I—I—"

"See!" Red affected scornful laughter.

Slim was stung. "I'd join up."

"Go on."

"Try me."

Red whirled at him, strange and intense. "You meant that? You want to go in with me?"

"What do you mean?" Slim stepped back a bit, surprised by the unexpected challenge.

"I got something that can get us into the circus. Maybe someday we can even have a circus of our own. We could be the biggest circus-fellows in the world.

That's if you want to go in with me. Otherwise—Well, I guess I can do it on my own. I just thought: Let's give good old Slim a chance."

The world was strange and glamorous, and Slim said, "Sure thing, Red. I'm in! What is it, huh, Red? Tell me what it is."

"Figure it out. What's the most important thing in circuses?"

Slim thought desperately. He wanted to give the right answer. Finally, he said, "Acrobats?"

"Holy Smokes! I wouldn't go five steps to look at acrobats."

"I don't know then."

"Animals, that's what! What's the best side-show? Where are the biggest crowds? Even in the main rings the best acts are animal acts." There was no doubt in Red's voice.

"Do you think so?"

"Everyone thinks so. You ask anyone. Anyway, I found animals this morning. Two of them."

"And you've got them?"

"Sure. That's the secret. Are you telling?"

"Of course not."

"Okay. I've got them in the barn. Do you want to see them?"

They were almost at the barn; its huge open door black. Too black. They had been heading there all the time. Slim stopped in his tracks.

He tried to make his words casual. "Are they big?"

"Would I fool with them if they were big? They can't hurt you. They're only about so long. I've got them in a cage."

They were in the barn now and Slim saw the large cage suspended from a hook in the roof. It was covered with stiff canvas.

Red said, "We used to have some bird there or something. Anyway, they can't get away from there. Come on, let's go up to the loft."

They clambered up the wooden stairs and Red hooked the cage toward them.

Slim pointed and said, "There's sort of a hole in the canvas."

Red frowned. "How'd that get there?" He lifted the canvas, looked in, and said, with relief, "They're still there."

"The canvas appeared to be burned," worried Slim.

"You want to look, or don't you?"

Slim nodded slowly. He wasn't sure he wanted to, after all. They might be—

But the canvas had been jerked off and there they were. Two of them, the way Red said. They were small, and sort of disgusting-looking. The animals moved quickly as the canvas lifted and were on the side toward the youngsters. Red poked a cautious finger at them.

"Watch out," said Slim, in agony.

"They don't hurt you," said Red. "Ever see anything like them?"

"No."

"Can't you see how a circus would jump at a chance to have these?"

"Maybe they're too small for a circus."

Red looked annoyed. He let go the cage which swung back and forth pendulum-fashion. "You're just trying to back out, aren't you?"

"No, I'm not. It's just—"

"They're not too small, don't worry. Right now, I've only got one worry."

"What's that?"

"Well, I've got to keep them till the circus comes, don't I? I've got to figure out what to feed them meanwhile."

The cage swung and the little trapped creatures clung to its bars, gesturing at the youngsters with queer, quick motions—almost as though they were intelligent.