Oh! I didn't see you there.
No, not down here. I blend in nicely don't I.
Yes sir, you do. You... you're a crocodile, aren't you?
At your service. I would doth my hat to you, but I came out without it this morning.
Might I be allowed to make an observation?
I... I guess so.
You look awfully tired.
Awfully tired. Dead on your feet, I'd say.
Well, I am a little sleepy, I suppose.
Come closer, boy.
I'd rather not, thank you.
Oh. Oh really. Whyever not?
You're a crocodile.
Ah yes, I am. Do you like my tail? I can swing it around rather well. Watch.
Yes. That's very impressive.
Thank you. I bet you wish you had a big strong tail like mine, don't you?
Not particularly no.
No? So you could do this? Look at it there, swishing about.
I ought to be going.
Oh please don't. Please don't go. You see... I've something else to show you.
Yes. It might wake you up a bit. You see these ridges on my back?
Rub them and see what happens.
I'd rather not.
You're a crocodile.
You said that before.
Crocodiles are dangerous.
Are they now? Have you ever met a crocodile before?
I've heard tell of crocodiles. They eat people.
Ho ho ho. Eat people? The things folk say! I don't think I've ever eaten anyone. I can state that categorically.
And anyway, if I were interested in eating you, I'd have some trouble reaching you back there, now wouldn't I?
I suppose so.
And it would be a shame if all you knew of crocodiles was what you'd heard from other people.
So what do you say?
Okay ... There.
How do your hands feel now.
They tingle a little.
That's the magic, you see. Very magical beasts us crocodiles.
So, that's something you'll be able to tell people from now on. Crocodiles don't eat people, you can say, they happen to be very magical beasts.
It doesn't seem very magical.
You do look terribly tired, you know. Did I say that?
Well if I've said it twice, it must be so. Do you know, boy, what the most comfortable pillow in the world is?
Is it... eiderdown?
No no. It's a crocodile's tongue.
A crocodile's tongue?
Quite so. Another part of our magic, you see. Let me open my mouth so you may rest that weary head of yours.
Please don't feel you have to.
You're stepping back. You're still afraid of me?
Yes I'm afraid of you! You want to eat me.
We don't eat people! Have you ever spoken to a person who has ever been eaten by a crocodile?
Well I wouldn't have, would I?
No, because we don't eat people. We busy ourselves doing good works. That's all the sustenance us crocodiles need. See that over there?
That pile over there, steaming away in the sunset. Do you know what that is?
I think I can guess.
I make that, you know. It's... it's unguent.
What does it do, this unguent?
Why it cures people of their ills! It can make them more confident, and intelligent. It can stop them drinking, and smoking, and over-eating. It is a most remarkably efficacious concoction. Scientifically proven, don't you know.
Scientists. I have the papers with me, but they're heavy reading. Why not sleep here and you can look them over in the morning.
I'm not resting my head inside your mouth.
You still think I'm going to eat you?
However can I rid you of this strange delusion.
It's not a delusion.
You think I lie? I find that rather offensive, as it happens.
I have it on good authority. A zoologist told me.
Oh you don't want to listen to zoologists. I shouldn't really tell you this but... zoologists have their own agendas.
Zoologists are interested in the study of animals.
And I suppose these zoologists have told you that all sorts of wild creatures go about the place eating people, have they.
Yes. And I trust them. I've spoken to several zoologists and they seemed very nice.
Ha! A worse breed of man there has never been. Do you know why zoologists go around spreading such lies?
They aren't lies. I know-
They spread such lies, my young fellow, to cover the awful truth.
I'm beginning to tire of this.
You are tired!
Go on then. Unburden yourself...
They go around infecting people with their dangerous fictions because... zoologists are the ones that eat people.
They eat people as sure as eggs is eggs. As eggs is eggs, they eat people. They gobble down babies and children and women and men, and when the authorities come aknocking, they point to the nearest gazelle and say "dreadful, bloodthirsty things, gazelles, officer," and that is that.
I really am going now.
But home is such a long way.
It's not that far.
It's getting dark.
I can see just fine.
Well I worry for you. They come out at night, you see.
I'll walk with you a while.
Just to the edge of the village.
Just till I know you're safe.
You can ride on my nose if you like.