Quietly as a thieving mouse, Nipi eased off his bunk bed and went to the window. Remembering its risk, he pushed it very slowly open to mute its usual squeak. Then, with anxious eyes and craning neck he leaned out to study the king-orange tree in the yard. A long, fearful instant teased him with other sights he wasn't looking for, like blinding blue sky, and other sights he wasn't looking for, like blinding blue sky, and leaves greener because of the dew. Then he saw it.
A sighing feeling overcame him and softened the prickling tension that had slept like a burr in his head the long night past. Now it disappeared like a dream as he took ease from the soothing relief his eyes offered: The golden-ripe king orange was still there.
He had followed its life from a tiny green thing no bigger than a marble to its present gleaming ripeness, and for Nipi, the orange had grown from a private anticipation to an earned reward for patient nurture. He had fed it worry and care; look how just yesterday he had chanced it an extra day of ripening. Now yesterday's risk was a happy one. For in its yellow sheen, he could see the orange blushing that slightly pinkish tint that guaranteed special sweetness.
All at once Nipi's mouth gushed full and he guiltily swallowed the "eager water" (which Ma said sprang from a well of gluttony). But this wasn't common greed. No! The way the sweet thoughts of the orange affected his mouth glands was more like magic. Same as how it sent private glances, possessive glances, at him every time the green leaf-curtain trembled.
Two kiskadees floated into the perfect picture, and Nipi tensed up. The gaudy yellow and black invaders were alit on an upper branch performing their early morning mating rituals. The male began hopping from branch to branch following the serenading female. Every time she sang "kiss-kiss-kissss kee-dee," he echoed it and tried to jump her, and then she'd hop away through the air onto another branch. But it wasn't all this carrying-on to the music that had set Nipi's heart beating faster. The love struck birds were frisking nearer and nearer to his orange, and kiskadees, at any time, were known to more than favor ripe king orange. Yet with all this hazarding, he couldn't go outside to chase them away.
Because Ma, who had ears like a bat, was up and dressing in her adjoining bedroom. If she knew that he, too, was up, most likely she'd make him accompany her to early matins. Normally, Nipi didn't mind that chore: it meant he was spared his normal yard-cleaning routines, and the church was a quiet place where he always resumed his sleep. But this morning was different. That reddish gold orange was the only blessing he desired, and those screeching kiskadees were playing the devils for him.
Nipi looked around for help. Maybe there were some bluebirds in the other trees, or even a cocoa rachelle, both natural enemies of kiskadees. He did see some bits of feathered sky-blue flitting about in the crown of the coconut tree, but they were paying no attention to the kiskadees. Before he could even damn his luck, a busy flutter of wings sounded his eyes back to his main concerns. Still nearer to the orange, they were persisting at their duet. Now they'd added somersaulting to the exercises. Nipi feared they were warming up to a sweet breakfast, while all he could do was watch from his trap at the open window. If only Ma'd hurry up and leave for church, he could go outside and make those blasted birds dance to a different music.
Unable to just look on, Nipi stretched his torso out through the window and began waving his arms about with extra vigor to make up for the absent noise he couldn't make. But the birds didn't notice him at all. He could've been any old whirling morning breeze. It would've been so different if only he had something to throw at them-and suddenly Nipi remembered his slingshot.
A scamper on tiptoe to his dresser and he'd got it, only to realize he had no stone to sling. He looked rapidly around the room. But his search made no miracles happen, and no stone upturned. Then his eyes fell on the marble on his brother's dresser. It was Diram's lucky doogle, his extra eye, as he bragged. Last night, just before they went to sleep, they'd been pitching marbles on the floor. Diram had won everything with his straight aiming. It really seemed the doogle could see targets on its own. Right now, though, an immediate glance showed Deadeye Diram still scrunched up in the bed like a baby, nursing some extra sleep from it. So, keeping a severe gaze on his brother's resting face Nipi seized the seeing-eye doogle. There was a special target he wanted it to take a look at.
The birds had now hidden their threat to his orange, but they had not stopped. They were perched in a basket of leafy fronds, out of sight for a clear shot. But armed with the doogle, Nipi had a new patience. He sat with the slingshot ready and kept his eyes on their general area, gauging their location by their singing. His left fingers held the marble loosely through the tongue of the slingshot. His right hand steadied the forked stick. He held the rubbers half-stretched in watch and followed the different rhythms of the couple's song. As he waited for the music to move, one thought gave him calm reassurance: Kiskadees were birds. Just as they had to sing, they had to fly.
Then Patience delivered the female. She flitted into the clear and rested on a little branch to preen her yellow breast at him. Like a trigger, Nipi responded. He squinted his right eye and stretched the rubbers fully in aim. Then he gently sent off the seeing eye doogle. It shot a squawk out of the yellow target, and down she came tracing golden down behind her. Nipi grinned satisfaction; the doogle had proven itself. As the kiskadees fell dead, the male flew a screeching spiral around he. When she rested and moved no more, he flew up to a lower branch, rocking back and forth there as if nervous at not flying away. But he didn't go. He just used the rocking as a rhythm to cry "kee-dee kee-dee kee-dee."
Nipi aimed the empty slingshot at him. His squinted right eye lined up the bird, and he thought, yup, I could've had him, too. Then, without firing, he released the tension of the rubbers and glanced back up at the orange. It was safe.
Inside, Ma's shoe-steps told him that she was almost ready. So he relaxed again into contemplation. . . Even the birds knew that his orange was especially sweet. Should he peg it or should he peel? The male bird's crying intruded on his musing: "Ka-dee-ka-dee ka-dee." Nipi studied him again from the valley of his aimed sling-shot. He wished he had another marble.
The slam of the front door announced that Ma was on her way to pray. He remained still for a little bit until he heard the sound of her shoes in the empty morning street. Then, as out of a cage, he jumped through the window into the yard. The gritty, cool dirt yard shocked a welcome to his bare feet, reflexively triggering an urgent call to void. So he trotted off to the latrine far up the backyard. As he passed the bathroom, he snatched up his toothbrush, intending to brush his teeth as he squatted and pushed. He had no time to waste.
Sitting and brushing in the fetid gloom, Nipi heard footsteps approaching the outhouse. He recognized them as Diram's and enjoyed a brief gloating at getting to the latrine first. It soothed the memory of those many other times-those times when he had been the one forced to tighten up and fidget on the outside.
"Nipi!" Diram demanded in an accusing voice. "You took my doogle?"
Nipi winced in his privacy. He had almost forgotten already that he had shot the marble. Nevertheless, his response was immediate.
"Which doogle?" he asked in a voice that carried varied messages. Right off, it denied that he had taken the doogle. Also, with some skepticism, it asked for clearer identification of this missing doogle. And finally, it suggested that Diram was most out of place even to question him on the matter.
This time Diram's tones were of convinced threat: "You'd better give me back my doogle before I bust your li'l backside." Then he heard Diram walk away.
Nipi sucked his teeth frothily. He was done, but he decided to remain squatting just to make Diram suffer. How dare he accuse him? There was no way he could find Nipi responsible for what ever mysterious things happened to the stupid doogle. Diram had been asleep like a watchman in a dream factory when he used it up as shot.
Still, though, Nipi was anxious. Diram was one to hit when he got vexed, and Ma always seemed to support him. She was always saying that he was the bigger brother, so he had to get respect. When Nipi finally left the outhouse, he decided he'd be very discreet how he moved around Mr. Diram, the Elder.
Diram was no where in sight. Nipi washed his hands in the tub of rainwater collected from the eaves around the latrine. He was about to wash his mouth as well, but the sight of the many mosquito larvae looking big-eyed at him out of the surface offended. Done with cleaning, he searched around the ground and chose a few smooth stones. Then as soon as he had the orange tree in sight, he set to locate Diram. With this fruit picking that he had planned, he wanted his privacy.
The sound of Princess Elenor's barking from somewhere in the front of the house made his mind easy. There would Diram be-he liked to play with the Dalmatian when he got up in the morning. So most likely the respected big brother would be occupied for a while. Everything was now right for him to load the slingshot and approach the tree.
Nearer to the tree, he made automatic note that, dead and alive, the kiskadees were still there. But his attention dismissed them to peer up in the tree. Then he changed vantage and peered again, and shifted his look about. Then his anxiety, growing in strength, almost choked him: the special orange had been nipped. For the first time and the worst time, it was not there.
He knew that it was Diram even before he noticed the long, slender bamboo rod left leaning against the tree trunk. Nipi could imagine how he had done it. He had used his long arms and the longer rod to reach and snap it down. Nipi felt a quick bitterness at the fact that he himself was so short. Even with the rod, he couldn't have reached the orange. He'd have had to shoot it down with his slingshot.
Suddenly the rod represented a contempt for Nipi and his size. He felt a passionate hatred against it. He rushed up to it and kicked it hard. He kicked soccer fashion, with the inside of his foot, and the hurt was extreme. And the rod just shifted, didn't even fall.
The pain started his tears coming, and he ran towards the front of the house, screaming, "Diram! Give me back my orange!"
Diram was already halfway done peeling the fruit. Shaking from the restraint of not snatching away the orange, Nipi went straight up to him. He brandished his left arm like sword, and said, "Gimme it! Gimme my orange!" He heard his voice, piping, high-pitched from his anger, but rushed on, "I marking it for a week now. Every day. So it's mine. I was just now going to pick it. You know by rights it's mine. You have to give it to me."
Diram sneered at him. Mimicking Nipi's shrill voice, he repeated, "'You have to give it to me,'" then ended in his own voice, "I picked it, and I'm going to eat it. So leave me alone, you little bug." And he turned his back on Nipi.
Nipi felt his body thrumming from frustration. An awkward jig danced out of him. Diram's back was an insulting wall of disdain, as broad and unmoving as the huge world that besieged Nipi. Suddenly, the ghosts of a multitude of old peeves coalesced in his mind to form a just cause. Nipi realized that he was constantly wronged. He was a little mouse in a world of fat cats. They kept him at their whims. They gave him no preferences. He got the least food, the meanest chores, the most rules, and no privileges. None at all. It was, "Don't do this" or "Don't do that," as though they didn't want him to do anything except the jail work they wished on him like a genie. Wasn't he people, too? They were just taking advantage of him! The provocations massed in his mind and mobbed him to the brink. Made wild from their manic energy, Nipi attacked the wall.
He rushed at Diram's back, swinging both fists like hammers, striking downward on the broad shoulder blades. But even as he pounded he recognized that his rage was confusing his effectiveness. Diram just stiffened himself at the surprise assault. And Nipi felt his own knuckles hurting. But still goaded amok for justice, he changed to another tactic.
With intentions to hurt anyhow, anywhere, he tried to simultaneously kick and knee Diram. Then, in the midst of this crabby attack, he suddenly felt himself grabbed by the waist and shoved aside. The force of the violence sent him stumbling, trying to regain his balance. Just then Princess Elenor entered the excitement with a rushing and a barking. Her first play was to collide with him, make him stumble back over in Diram's direction. Then while still in this imbalance, he felt, hard on his ear, the jolting sting of Diram's cuff
Abruptly Nipi didn't want to fight anymore. He fled of in a cower, taking direction from the force of the blow. As he ran away, the tuning fork sounding in his ear faded slightly, just enough to catch the end of Diram's parting taunt: "...li'l mosquito, before I crush you!" Just the spark to flare his rage again. So Nipi decided to be nasty.
The thought of revenge banished his need to sniffle, redirected him to a slower circuit around the house. As he went, he wiped his face of tears and snot, cleaned the mess on his pants absently. He aimed for the house corner next to the site of the scuffle. As he came to it, he was careful to be absolutely quiet. Then putting his face against the wall, he eased a peeping eye around the edge.
Diram was leaning against the front of the house, tossing the last bits of orange peel at the base of the hibiscus fence. That glimpse was enough for Nipi to create his plan. He withdrew his eye from around the corner, and his forehead from the concrete cool. Thinking of the orange's sweet acidity made a spring of his mouth. He suppressed the urge to swallow, let the saliva well.
Then Nipi was almost up to him before Diram noticed. A flash of satisfaction thrilled him at the startled speed he evoked from the respected brother. More important, as Diram spun around, he presented to view the succulent fruit in his hand. Still in full action, and with only a glimpse of the golden pegs of sweetness, Nipi hawked and spat his mouthful. The heaviest gob of phlegm missed, but the slimier spray nicely covered most of the orange. A good deal of it also bathed Diram's hand up to the wrist.
Nipi caught a glimpse of a terrible disgust in Diram's face, but like a flitting bat, he was well on his way. A screaming erupted behind him. A yell that carried satisfying tinges of rage, frustration, and shock, among other angers. Only the effort he was expending kept the grin from Nipi's face. His exultance showed, though, in his buoyant strides. He had got the big lunker back.
Nipi crouched low in the ditch behind the latrine and searched the yard for signs of pursuit. He couldn't see the bully. So he stooped back down in the gravel-bottomed drain to think. It was certain that Diram would not let him get away with his wet revenge. But a stubbornness in Nipi resisted the threat of that certainty. His actions had been just. The orange had been his by rights. So Diram had been wrong. Whatever he got from taking it was just darkness following daylight. Fair Brer Anancy justice. Yet Nipi's experience advised him to run and hide a little right now. Better he get as far away as sensible from Diram before standing up for his rights.
With a muted "Aha!" Nipi spied his brother. He had been washing off in the bathroom. He now emerged in a crouching stalk. He had not dried off, and the water made his shoulders glisten in the morning sun. Diram's face was twisted with a determined grimace. Abruptly, Nipi remembered his brother's hunting skills. Once he had seen Diram stalk a nesting quail: Walking soft as a shadow, he had surprised the bird and wrung its neck before it could even cry out. This memory now served as inspiration for Nipi to get moving. With an intuition that hunted he should try balancing things out with his hunter, he began crawling along the ditch towards the house. His intent to find something to help make up for the five years and eight inches that made big brother bigger.
As Nipi started to scramble out of the ditch, some loose stones rattled in from the edge. Diram must have noticed the noise-Nipi heard him enter the ditch up behind the latrine, same place as he had. That Diram, the Stalker, had not bothered to conceal his movements convinced Nipi that bad trouble was nigh, and him without an equalizer. In the quick confusion as he realized Diram was gaining too fast, Nipi couldn't think of where to run. Blind of direction, he leapt out of the ditch and into open flight.
As he raced around the back of the house, past the open kitchen door, a stratagem occurred to him. He stopped short, turned swiftly into the kitchen, and dived into the first dark space he saw. The cupboard-sized space under the fireside, where the firewood was kept. As usual, because this was one of Diram's most neglected chores, it was almost empty. As Nipi settled among the scant pieces of wood, he heard the pursuit arrive outside in the yard. Diram came around the kitchen by a few quick footsteps, then a listening pause, then another step or two, and another seeking interval, and then a move again.
Every time the footsteps stopped, Nipi held his breath and listened hard to trace the chase. An odd thought itched itself into his concentration: The way the rabbits stuck their faces out the cage-wire front of their hutch when he went to feed them. The picture of long, sparse whiskers around a wet twitching nose gradually became so irritating, Nipi could hardly stop from sneezing.
He pinched his nose hard. Then, looking about himself, he realized the trap about his hiding place. He had jumped into a box with one door and was crouched unprotected, looking through it into danger. He couldn't change places now, either. The quiet outside meant Diram was playing bat out there, listening to the airwaves for direction. Exposed as Nipi was, his best move was staying put. So, carefully, silently, he crept farther back under the fireside and huddled there, quivering and quiet. He tried not to think of rabbits.
The tentative footsteps came to the kitchen door and stopped. Nipi found infinite menace in the pause. Fear, joined with the rough feel of firewood under his hands, revived the thought of an equalizer. His left hand made a palm-spread scan of a small radius. His right tried on its side. Throughout the questing, though, his stare never wavered from his boxed view of bright kitchen space.
Meanwhile, his hands suffered and searched. Examined by feel and texture a broom handle, old spoons, a battered old pot. Rejected all except one pushy splinter. A soft gargle of frustration escaped him, even as he realized it might betray him. Still, his alarm pulsed more immediately as the outburst coincided with the creak of the loose floorboard at the kitchen door. Then there was no other sound.
Nipi was certain the kitchen no longer was empty. Diram was in there. He was tiptoeing along the kitchen wall out of view. Right then, as he stared out into the too-quiet brightness of the kitchen in growing fear, Nipi could divine around corners. His right hand rapidly reconsidered and selected a stick it had just passed over. Then, with a shock, he saw his instincts had been right. Diram's unsuspecting feet showed on the floor before him, first one, and then a careful other, just a foot or two away. They pressed silently on their balls with each step, toes spreading to push away the floor only at the last moment.
Just so, searching, the feet passed by and right on through the kitchen. Diram never noticing Nipi crouched in his dim box. It was only when they were safely away that Nipi's left hand came upon the small-wood hatchet. Now, at last, he felt equal.
The smooth handful of hatchet handle was like a magic wand. It transformed him into an awesome fighting creature of the grim strength and might. Thus armed and equal, on all fours, this dangerous being slinked out from the murky belly of the fireside cave.
Assassin set, Nipi stole through the door the feet had taken, then abruptly stopped stalking. He had lost his surprise advantage! Diram, the thief, had seen him already. He was waiting under the shade of the sapodilla tree. He made a quick start to come at Nipi, but halted full stop as though the air had turned solid around him. Glee surged through Nipi as Diram acknowledged the power of the hatchet. Retribution swelled like an afterwave. Then his elation became perfect as he saw Diram turn and run hide behind the sapodilla tree trunk.
Nipi shifted to the right, then to the left, trying to get a line on him, but he couldn't get a clear throw. Diram was shifting with him and kept the trunk in the way. Briefly confused by this tactic, Nipi stood still in the open yard. He measured the foe behind the tree trunk. Diram seemed to be split into protruding shoulders and a left-side peering face wearing a bit of a grin. Nipi wished he could throw the blade right through tree trunk and bully and all. It suddenly occurred to him that the hatchet was getting heavy. He rested it on his shoulder, blade up, threatening his right ear and the blue sky above.
The enemy's face kept bobbing from side to side of the trunk. Its grin, grown big and cheeky, insulted Nipi back into rage. He shouted at Diram, "Come out! Come on out, you big coward."
He supported this with a winding rush toward the sapodilla tree. He stopped halfway there, as Diram had shifted with him as he approached, successfully keeping the tree trunk as his shield. His big face wasn't laughing anymore, though.
This show of respect overwhelmed Nipi with a feeling of power that left him wild, and relieved, and a little dizzy. He rushed the tree again and again in crescent patterns. Not so much in attack as in an effort to maintain control of the situation, and partly for the thrill of seeing the concern in Diram's face. After a while, though, seeing that Diram's parrying was keeping him at bay, his good feelings began turning foolish.
Seemed he was making all the noise and sweat in this exercise; he pulling and tugging, Diram the oar's tip. He had a sneaky feeling that Diram was comfortably dancing around in the cool shade of the sapodilla tree making sport of him. Self-conscious all a-sudden, Nipi glanced quickly over at the neighbor's house to see if anyone was looking on. All in all, he was about ready to stop.
Then Diram taunted, "Going hunting, Li'l Beaver?" And Nipi felt the hellfire flare in him once more. He didn't think at all. He just rushed straight at the tree, swinging the hatchet. If he needed to, he'd chop right through it to get Diram out of his life.
But, as Nipi committed his attack to one side of the tree, Diram left its security and ran from the other. Nipi was completely faked out. He was moving too fast to stop and set himself to throw a good shot. And Diram was heading for the full safety of the tool shed's open door.
Diram ran rapidly in a low, intent crouch. His move had been so well timed, that by the time Nipi changed direction, he'd be through the shed's door, and safe. Frustrated and enraged by the neat maneuver, Nipi made a desperate try. In one unbalanced moment, he saw where the fleeing back would come clear of the intervening tree trunk. In the next, he fired off the hatchet with a smooth downward swing.
As the weapon left his fingers, Nipi knew the throw was perfect. Although he had to hop and twist so as not to fall as he watched its trajectory, he saw it all. He saw how the sharpened wedge rotated forward very slightly and proceeded on an arching pathway, assuming a fascinating grace in its swift flight, its true flight. For as Diram would fill the doorway's space, the flying blade would be there to enter his back as bidden. Or, if he was still stooping, his neck.
Still marveling at the sureness of his aim, Nipi saw Diram run through the doorway. Then the door swung shut with a bang and accepted the winging hatchet with a dull THUNK!
That did it. Staring at the hatchet solidly stuck there in the cheating door, Nipi gave up altogether. He had lost. Everything was against him. There was no way he could've won anyhow. Even if Diram had been hit, the damage would've made Ma know they'd been fighting. And any reported fighting meant a whipping from Ma. Then a smirking from Diram, the newsmonger. Clearly, too, this morning's action was too good a tale not to tattle.
With another mental jolt, he a realized that Ma must be on her way back from church by now, and all his chores were yet undone. Totally despondent at the hot trouble-pot he had fallen into, Nipi hauled himself to the bole of the sapodilla tree and sat down. He glanced again at the he hatchet stuck in the door. It looked good there, sort of mighty. The only neat scene in a bad picture. Then a hiccup erupted in his chest.
Nipi stood in waiting, swinging the wicket gate open, creak, and shut, bang. Open and shut, creak and bang. The noisy activity provided background for his anxious staring up the street. Immediately Ma came into sight, he left his post and ran to the backyard, where Diram was busily feeding the chickens. He commenced lurking a few yards away from his brother like a loosely connected shadow.
He tried on a penitent look and was approaching Diram when he stalled. He just couldn't do it. Couldn't get up the gumption to beg the bully. Then, too soon, he heard the final sounds. The gate declaring Creak, Bang. The front door, Slam. At which Diram departed his gloat into the house. Nipi's next hiccup exploded in his throat, hurting as though it collided with the Hope crashing to the bottom of his belly.
His immediate thought was to run away forever. Escape it all. This frittered from his mind when he could think of no place to go. Then his heart swelled with self-pity as a whimper and tears sought to share time with the hiccups. He crept around the house to his mother's room and pressed his ear against the wall. Indistinctly, he could hear Diram's voice. Its tattle-tale tones were plain, though. Briefly, Nipi hated him again, and felt sorry the swinging door had saved more serious trouble. The sounds of their leaving the room interrupted his spite. So he darted back to the backyard, was ready and waiting when Ma called for him. Instantly, he sprinted to his fate.
Nipi met her standing in the yard arms akimbo, impatient: not good. Her head was banded with a white cloth, her face sweating: neither here nor there. It was washday, and hot. Most puzzling, but definitely good, she held no whip in hand. He stopped arm's length in front of her, and hiccupped.
She frowned at him and asked, "And what've you been doing since morning?" The "you" seemed selectively accusing.
Nipi swallowed to clear his cramped throat and tried to answer. Instead, he hiccupped.
Ma frowned at him again. Then, irritation raising her voice, she commanded, "Answer me, boy."
Nipi had no satisfactory answer, but he wanted to say something before Ma thought he was being insolent by his silence. He tried for "Nothing, Ma," and helplessly hiccupped again. Frustrated, he felt the sting in his eyes turn wet and roll out hot onto his cheeks. Adding to his embarrassment, he knew that any attempt to talk would end in hiccups and make him look more simple. Broken by all this woe, burning under her stern frown, he began crying in truth.
Beyond the blurring of his vision, he saw Ma's face go gentle. Then her voice, only remembered stern, said, "Stop the sniveling, and straighten up yourself, child."
With growing relief and less tears, Nipi corrected his stance, pulled in an extra-hard sniffle. As he swallowed, Ma continued, "Now you better go attend to your chores, before I show you which side barley grows, okay?"
He'd never understood about barley's growing preferences, but that threat always suggested a hot backside for him. He nodded mutely as a more important thought filled his mind: Ma hadn't heard about the fight. Diram hadn't told.
"Did you hear me, boy?" Ma demanded.
He went to answer, "Yes, Ma." Instead, he hiccupped again. Ma choked off a snigger and walked away. Nipi looked at the ground and shook his head. He wondered what they always found so funny about him.
On his way to get the yard broom, Nipi passed Diram playing with Princess Elenor. He pouted his face sullen and walked straight past them. Diram's voice pursued him: "Go sweep the yard, Li'l Beaver." Nipi turned to answer, but had to grind his teeth. A hiccup was threatening. He tried to suppress it and failed. He went on his way wondering which pointlessness God had invented first, hiccups, or being little.
He began sweeping, as usual, under the orange tree, working robot-like at rounding up the yellow leaves. Life's unfairness was on his mind. There seemed an enormous endlessness of days upon days until that unthinkable time when he'd be where Diram was. How would he bear the wait? The sweeping broom catapulted the kiskadee's carcass onto the pile of leaves and debris he had been forming. As the body rolled over, Nipi noticed something shiny about its wound. On looking closer it was the seeing-eye doogle.
Immediately, he forgave Life everything. It was sweet. It was fair. It dealt in Justice. Diram had bullied away his orange. Now, in return, Nipi's lucky stars had provided him the magic doogle. Of course, it would be troublesome to ever use it publicly. But that was minor. Just hoarding it'd be fine.
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