en-es  Isaac_Asimov_Youth_chapter1
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.
unit 1
ttp://www.gutenberg.org/files/31547/31547-h/31547-h.htm.
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unit 2
(Gutenberg License).
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 3
Isaac Asimov: YOUTH_chapter_1.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 5
They knew that they could never show their new pets to their parents.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 7
Another, and he was awake.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 8
He sat up stiffly in bed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 9
Seconds passed while he interpreted his strange surroundings.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 10
He wasn't in his own home, of course.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 11
This was out in the country.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 12
It was colder than it should be and there was green at the window.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 13
"Slim!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 16
He added, "I'm Red."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 17
Red wasn't his real name, either, but its appropriateness was obvious.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 19
Slim cried, "Hi, Red!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 20
and waved cheerfully, still blinking the sleep out of himself.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 21
Red kept to his croaking whisper, "Quiet!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 22
You want to wake somebody?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 24
Slim said, more softly, "What's the matter?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 25
Red only waved for him to come out.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 28
Red said, "You've got to be quiet.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 31
Slim said, eagerly, "Do you come out here every day like this, Red?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 32
Real early?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 33
It's like the whole world is just yours, isn't it, Red?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 34
No one else around and all like that."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 35
He felt proud at being allowed entrance into this private world.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 36
Red stared at him sidelong.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 37
He said carelessly, "I've been up for hours.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 38
Didn't you hear it last night?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 39
"Hear what?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 40
"Thunder."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 41
"Was there a thunderstorm?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 42
Slim never slept through a thunderstorm.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 43
"I guess not.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 44
But there was thunder.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 45
I heard it, and then I went to the window and it wasn't raining.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 46
It was all stars and the sky was just getting sort of almost gray.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 47
You know what I mean?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 48
Slim had never seen it so, but he nodded.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 49
"So I just thought I'd go out," said Red.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 51
unit 52
It didn't have a crack or a rough spot in it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 53
Red said, "Can you keep a secret?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 54
"Sure, Red.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 55
What kind of a secret?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 56
"Just a secret.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 57
Maybe I'll tell you and maybe I won't.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 58
I don't know yet."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 62
He said, "There'll be a circus around."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 63
Slim said, "That's no secret.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 64
I knew that.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 65
My Dad told me even before we came here—" "That's not the secret.
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unit 66
Fine secret!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 67
Ever see a circus?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 68
"Oh, sure.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 69
You bet."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 70
"Like it?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 71
"Say, there isn't anything I like better."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 72
Red was watching out of the corner of his eyes again.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 73
"Ever think you would like to be with a circus?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 74
I mean, for good?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 75
Slim considered, "I guess not.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 76
I think I'll be an astronomer like my Dad.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 77
I think he wants me to be."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 78
"Huh!
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unit 79
Astronomer!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 80
said Red.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 82
He said, placatingly, "A circus would be more fun."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 83
"You're just saying that."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 84
"No, I'm not.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 85
I mean it."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 86
Red grew argumentative.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 87
"Suppose you had a chance to join the circus right now.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 88
What would you do?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 89
"I—I—" "See!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 90
Red affected scornful laughter.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 91
Slim was stung.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 92
"I'd join up."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 93
"Go on."
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unit 94
"Try me."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 95
Red whirled at him, strange and intense.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 96
"You meant that?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 97
You want to go in with me?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 98
"What do you mean?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 99
Slim stepped back a bit, surprised by the unexpected challenge.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 100
"I got something that can get us into the circus.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 101
Maybe someday we can even have a circus of our own.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 102
We could be the biggest circus-fellows in the world.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 103
That's if you want to go in with me.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 104
Otherwise—Well, I guess I can do it on my own.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 105
I just thought: Let's give good old Slim a chance."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 106
The world was strange and glamorous, and Slim said, "Sure thing, Red.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 107
I'm in!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 108
What is it, huh, Red?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 109
Tell me what it is."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 110
"Figure it out.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 111
What's the most important thing in circuses?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 112
Slim thought desperately.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 113
He wanted to give the right answer.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 114
Finally, he said, "Acrobats?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 115
"Holy Smokes!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 116
I wouldn't go five steps to look at acrobats."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 117
"I don't know then."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 118
"Animals, that's what!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 119
What's the best side-show?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 120
Where are the biggest crowds?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 121
Even in the main rings the best acts are animal acts."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 122
There was no doubt in Red's voice.
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unit 123
"Do you think so?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 124
"Everyone thinks so.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 125
You ask anyone.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 126
Anyway, I found animals this morning.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 127
Two of them."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 128
"And you've got them?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 129
"Sure.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 130
That's the secret.
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unit 131
Are you telling?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 132
"Of course not."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 133
"Okay.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 134
I've got them in the barn.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 135
Do you want to see them?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 136
They were almost at the barn; its huge open door black.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 137
Too black.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 138
They had been heading there all the time.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 139
Slim stopped in his tracks.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 140
He tried to make his words casual.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 141
"Are they big?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 142
"Would I fool with them if they were big?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 143
They can't hurt you.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 144
They're only about so long.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 145
I've got them in a cage."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 147
It was covered with stiff canvas.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 148
Red said, "We used to have some bird there or something.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 149
Anyway, they can't get away from there.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 150
Come on, let's go up to the loft."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 151
They clambered up the wooden stairs and Red hooked the cage toward them.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 152
Slim pointed and said, "There's sort of a hole in the canvas."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 153
Red frowned.
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unit 154
"How'd that get there?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 155
unit 156
"The canvas appeared to be burned," worried Slim.
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unit 157
"You want to look, or don't you?"
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unit 158
Slim nodded slowly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 159
He wasn't sure he wanted to, after all.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 160
They might be— But the canvas had been jerked off and there they were.
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unit 161
Two of them, the way Red said.
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unit 162
They were small, and sort of disgusting-looking.
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unit 164
Red poked a cautious finger at them.
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unit 165
"Watch out," said Slim, in agony.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 166
"They don't hurt you," said Red.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 167
"Ever see anything like them?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 168
"No."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 169
"Can't you see how a circus would jump at a chance to have these?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 170
"Maybe they're too small for a circus."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 171
Red looked annoyed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 172
He let go the cage which swung back and forth pendulum-fashion.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 173
"You're just trying to back out, aren't you?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 174
"No, I'm not.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 175
It's just—" "They're not too small, don't worry.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 176
Right now, I've only got one worry."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 177
"What's that?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 178
"Well, I've got to keep them till the circus comes, don't I?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 179
I've got to figure out what to feed them meanwhile."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None

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.