A boy and his dog found the sign nailed to a tree alongside the trail. BEWARE OF OWLS. He read the sign as a smile grew on his face. “Keep an eye out, Moxie,” he said to the beagle. It wagged its tail, unconcerned. The boy thought the dog must agree. Only mice and rabbits needed to worry about owls.
Not far down the path, he saw the shadow and movement of wings in the branches. Instantly alert, the beagle bounded a few strides off the path. The boy quickly called it back thinking it best not to tempt the fates. But then an owl landed on the branch above them. And another settled nearby. And another, and another. A congregation of the wide-eyed creatures peered down at the boy and his dog.
The largest among them stretched its wings and gave a cough. “My first is a creature whose breeding is unclear. My second, a price you must pay. My whole can be found in the river of Time and refers to events of today. What am I?”
The boy looked down at the beagle and then back up at the owl. “What was that?” he asked, taken aback by the speaking creature.
“A riddle. Answer it. Or give us your dog for dinner.”
The boy’s features scrunched up in thought. “I have a better one for you,” he said at last. The owls ruffled their wings and the boy went on. “Which would see most clearly in total darkness? A bat, a tiger, or an owl?”
That did it. “An owl, of course! We do!” said one straight away. Another thought for a moment and disagreed. “A tiger’s sight is keen!” Still another thought the bat must see best. They began to debate heatedly. By the time it was decided that nothing could see clearly in total darkness, the boy and his dog had vanished.
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