Newt jumped nearly ten feet straight up into the air at the sound of the deep voice in his ear. When he came back down to earth, after a time that seemed endless to him, Newt immediately spun around and looked for the source of the voice.
Standing very near was a huge animal with black ears that stood straight off his massive black head, all perched on a tremendously scary-looking black furry body, and ending in a hugely bushy black tail. Newt was very sure that at night, when there was no moon, this black, black creature with the deep voice would be nearly invisible.
“H-h-hello,” stammered a very frightened Newt, thinking it was always best to at least pretend to be unafraid and face scary situations with a positive attitude.
“Greetings,” answered back the scary animal.
Now a thought passed through Newt’s uncommonly intelligent head: the scary animal had actually snuck up on him from behind and could have hurt him if that had been its intent. So, reasoned Newt further, it was most likely a reasonably friendly animal.
And so now Newt asked the next question.
“What is your name?”
“Beowolf, my little one,” came the reply back.
“OK,” thought Newt, “this is certainly a friendly animal.”
After a bit of silence, through which both animals looked at each other intently, Beowolf continued his reply.
“I am the grandfather wolf here at the zoo. I have been alive for generations and generations. I saw you walk up with Keeper Karl and assume you are a new young animal at the zoo. What is your name, little one?”
At this, Newt relaxed and answered, “My name is Newt and I am new here at the zoo. I am happy to make a new friend and hope that you can be my grandfather as well!”
Beowolf laughed a long and low chuckle – the kind of laugh your grandpa laughs when he gives you a big hug. At this, Newt felt a warm glow deep inside and knew that Beowolf would be both his new grandfather and also his friend for a long time to come.
As he was feeling more at ease, Newt ventured to ask another question.
“Do you know where Keeper Karl goes every night? I have been trying to figure this out, but Keeper Karl doesn’t speak polar bear at all and I am not so good at human.”
Beowolf replied quickly, “Of course! I will answer your question but first I will fix your problem.”
He leaned down and gave Newt a long, slow lick on the top of his head – right over both of his small, round, furry white ears. Newt looked up at Beowolf and cocked his head to one side, trying to figure out what his new, wonderful grandfather had just done.
Without further explanation, Beowolf gave Newt two last bits of information, “Keeper Karl goes to his house, at the back of the zoo on top of the little green hill, every evening. Also I just gave you a gift so that you can now talk with him. No more questions for now. Remember, I will always help you when you need it. Just call my name three times and I will come.” With that, Beowolf silently leapt one giant leap over the fence and back into the wolf enclosure.
Of course, Newt being a young polar bear chalk-full of curiosity, opened his mouth and asked, “But why does Keeper Karl go to his house every night? What does he do there?”
The answer that Newt got was a loud clank as Keeper Karl, who had just returned from clearing the zoo path of the fallen branch, dropped the metal pail he had been carrying.
“Did my little bear just talk?”
“Am I dreaming?”
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