The Good Beast

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During a visit to my friends near Ottawa, three-year-old Andrew exclaimed that we just had to visit the house under construction next door to check out the echoes that lived in its empty rooms. In the dark basement, Andrew fixed his intense blue eyes on the long, low place in the darkest corner.

“A beast lives in there, Uncla Dooonaldo,” he announced.

“Oh, is that true?” I asked, “Is it a good beast or a bad beast?”

Some time passed as he churned the possibilities over in his mind. Then he said decisively, “Oh, he’s a good beast. He believes in Jesus and likes people.” That established, we went in to visit Mr. Beast. We passed the time of day, exchanging pleasantries over an imaginary cup of mud tea, then took our leave with a promise to come back soon.

I arranged to have his father lurk in the unfinished basement a few hours later when we would return. As we started to enter Mr. Beast’s cave, we were greeted by a gentle yet effective “hooooo.” Andrew, still clutching my hand, jumped backward like a frog in reverse gear. Then, eyes wide with amazement, he announced, “Oh Daddy, it’s only you! You shouldn’t do that, you know. You might scare Uncla Dooonaldo!”

Later, while breathlessly recalling our harrowing experience to his mother, he admitted that he really had been so scared that his heart had started to beat!