Welcome to Andre Norton's

 

Reading Corner

 

andre norton storyteller 1948

Andre the Librarian hosting "Story Time" at the Cleveland Public Library ~ 1948

 

"Come on In! . . .Take a Seat! . . . and Settle Down! . . ."

As we share with you a tale by one of the leading story tellers of the past century.

 

Twice a Month (on the 1st and the 16th) We are going to post an original story by Andre Norton

During the showcase period you will be able to read it here free of charge.

 

Many were only published once.

So it's a sure thing that there's going to be a few you have never heard of.

The order will be rather random in hopes you return often.

 

Happy Reading!




 

 

Teddi

by Andre Norton

 

all.cats.are.gray.1953 fantastic universe

(1979) Educational Progress Published by Western Publishing Co. a division of Educational Development Corp, #1-803544, 26pg

 

1st PublishedScience Fiction Adventures from Way Out (1973) Edited by Roger Elwood, Published by Whitman, HC, 8-615-05163-3, $0.89, 212pg ~ cover and illustrated by Dan Speigle

 

Available Now ~Moon Mirror (1988) Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-93098-4, LCCN 88020136, $17.95, 250pg ~ cover by Yvonne Gilbert

 

Bibliography PageTeddi (andre-norton-books.com)




Joboy was still crying when the Little used the stunner on him. Me, I had to lie there, with that tangler cord around my feet, and watch. Had to keep quiet, too. No use getting myself blasted when maybe I could still take care of Joboy.

“Take care of Joboy…” I’d been hearing that ever since he was born. Nats have to learn to take care early, with Little hunting packs out combing the hills and woods for them. Those packs are able to pick off the Olds early, but in the beginning, we kids aren’t too much larger than the Littles, and we can hide out. We can’t hide out forever, though. We have to eat, and in winter there isn’t much to find in the hills—which means raiding down in Little country. Sooner or later, of course, we run into their traps, as Joboy and I did that night.

I was scared, sure, but I was more scared for Joboy. He had never been down in the fields before. I usually hid him out when I went food-snitching, but this time he had refused to stay behind. And then…

All because of an old, dirty piece of fur stuffed with dried grass! I could have cried myself, only I wasn’t going to let any Little see me do that. Joboy, he was just a kid, and it was his Teddi that had gotten us into this. I could see the darned thing now. One of the Littles had kicked it against the field wall, and now it sat there looking back at me, with that silly, stupid grin on its torn face.

Da had brought Teddi back to the cave when Joboy was still a baby. It was from the lowlands but not Little-made. Da told Joboy silly stories about Teddi—kid stuff, but Joboy sure liked them. After Da went out that day and never came back, Joboy wanted me to tell them, too. First I tried to remember what Da had said. Then I just added extra things out of my own head. I think Joboy thought Teddi was alive. Once, when he got torn and lost some of his insides, Joboy went wild. I stuffed Teddi with grass and tried to patch him up, but I wasn’t too good at it.

Joboy carried him all the time, but that night he dropped Teddi when I found the potatoes, and when he reached for him again, he set off the alarm, and the Littles were right on us.

They used a tangler on me quick. Guess they must have known I was a raider and knew most of the tricks. I told Joboy to beat it, and he might have gotten away if he hadn’t tried to get Teddi again. So there we were; the Littles had us, but good.

Now they stood around us, looking us over as if we were animals. I guess, to the Littles, that’s what we Nats were. I wondered if they knew just how much we hated them! Littles—I could have spit right in their nasty, screwed-up faces. Only I didn’t—not when they had Joboy and maybe would make him pay for what I did.

There were only six of them. Put me on my feet, free, and I could— But I knew I couldn’t, ever. They had tanglers and stunners. What did we have? Stones and sticks. Da had had a gun but nothing left to shoot out of it. It was at the back of our cave now, leaning against the wall, not as much good as a well-shaped club would be.

The six of them were wearing the green suits of a hunting pack. They had come down on us in one of their copters. The Littles have everything—cars, planes, you name it—but we can’t use them; they’re all too small. Maybe Joboy could squeeze into the pilot’s seat in a copter, but he wouldn’t know how to fly it.

Joboy lay there as if he were dead, but he was only stunned—so far. I tried not to guess what they would do to us. We were Nats, and that made us things to be hunted down and gotten rid of.

A Little walked over to me and looked right down into my eyes. His eyes were cold and hard, like his face. Yet once we were the same, Littles and Nats. They never seem to think of that, and I guess we don’t much, either.

“You, Nat”—he nudged my shoulder with the toe of his boot—“where’s your filthy nest? Any more of you back there?” I’m sure he didn’t expect any answer. If he had dealt with us before, he should have known he would get none.

Da warned us long ago not to team up with any other Nats. More than one family of us together was easy hunting. Most of us stayed on our own. We were cautious about meeting strange Nats, too. Sometimes the Littles had tame Nats—ones they could control—sent into the hill country to nose us out. However, no Nat ever spilled to the Littles unless he was brain-emptied, so the less we knew, the better. They might backtrack us to the cave, but that wouldn’t do them any good. Da had been gone since last winter, and Mom, though I still remembered her, had died of the coughing sickness when Joboy was only a baby. Maybe they would find Da’s hiding places and the books, but that didn’t matter much at this point. They had us, and there was no escaping from a Nat pen, once you were dumped in. Or was there? You heard stories, and I could keep my eyes and ears open…

“No more of us,” I told him truthfully. “Just Joboy and me.”

He made a face as if I smelled bad. “Two’s two too many. Sent for the pickup yet, Max?” He spoke to the one putting his stunner back in his belt after he had attended to Joboy.

“On its way, chief.”

I wondered if I should cry a bit, let them see me scared. But then they might stun me, too. Better be quiet and try to find a way to— But there was no way. When I realized that, it was like really having the stunner knock me out, only I wasn’t able to sleep. I had to lie and think about it.

They didn’t pay me any more attention, because they didn’t have to; that tangler held me as if I were shut up in a cave, with a rock too big to push filling the entrance. One of them wandered over to Teddi, laughed, and kicked him. Teddi sailed up in the air and came right apart at a seam. I was glad Joboy didn’t see that, and I hated them worse than ever. I hated until I was all hate and nothing else.

Pretty soon one of their trucks came along. The two men in the front got out. We were picked up, gingerly, as if the Littles hated even to touch us, and dumped in the back. I landed hard and it hurt, and I was glad Joboy couldn’t feel it when he landed.

I had time to think as the truck ran along through the night, heading for one of their cities—cities that had once been ours, too. How long ago? I wondered.

Da could read the books. He could write, too. He made Joboy and me learn. Once he said that the Littles thought we were no better than animals, but that there was no need for us to prove them right. He made us learn about the past, as much as he knew.

Littles began quite a while back, when there were too many people in the world. The people built too many houses and too many roads, ate too much, and covered all the country. A lot of people began to worry, and they had different ideas as to what could help. The cities, especially, were traps, overpopulated and full of bad air.

None of their ideas seemed to work—until they started on the Littles. They found a way to work on a person’s body, even before he was born, so that he started life a lot smaller and never did grow very big. His children were small, too, and so it went, on and on. The big cities now could house more and more people. They didn’t have to build more and bigger roads, because the cars were made smaller and smaller, to match the Littles. Littles didn’t need so much food, either, so less land was needed to produce what was required.

There were some people, however, who thought this was all wrong, and they refused to take the treatment to make their children little. When the government passed laws that said everyone had to be a Little, the Naturals—the Nats—moved to places where they thought they could hide. Then the Littles began to hunt them.

Da’s people, way back, had been leaders against the idea of making Littles, because they had found out that being little began to change the way people thought, made them hate everyone not just like themselves. Da said they were “conditioned” to have the ideas that those who were in power wanted them to have—like being a Little was the right way to live and being a Natural was like being a killer or a robber or something. Da said people had worked and fought and even died to let everyone have an equal chance in life, and now the Littles were starting the old, bad ways of thinking, all over again—only this time they were even worse.

That’s why he held on to the old books and made us learn all about what had happened, so we could tell our children— though we probably wouldn’t ever get to tell anyone anything now. I shivered as I bumped around in that truck, wondering what the Littles were going to do with us. They couldn’t make us Littles, so what did they do with Nats when they caught them?

First they dumped us in a Nat pen. It was a big room, with walls like stone. Its small windows were so far up that there was no way to reach them. Along the walls were benches, squat and low, to match Littles and no one else. It smelled bad, as if people had been shut up there for a long time, and I guess people like us had been. To the Littles, of course, we weren’t people—just things.

When the Littles brought us in, they had stunners out, and they yelled to the others to get away from the door or they would ray. They threw us on the floor, and then one sprayed the tangler cords so they began to dissolve. By the time I was free, the Littles were gone. I crawled over to Joboy. Crawl was all I could do, I had been tied up so long. Joboy was still sleeping. I sat beside him and looked at the others in the pen.

There were ten of them, all kids. A couple were just babies, and they were crying. The only one as old as me was a girl. She held one of the babies, trying to get it to suck a wet rag, but she looked over its head at me mighty sharp. There were two other girls. The rest were boys.

“Tarn?” Joboy opened his eyes. “Tarn!” He was scared.

“I’m here!” I put my hands on him so he’d know it was the truth. Joboy had a lot of bad dreams. Sometimes he woke up scared, and I had to make him sure I was right there.

“Tarn, where are we?” He caught at one of my hands with both of his and held it fast.

One of the boys laughed. “Look around, kid, just look around.”

He was smaller than me, but now I saw he was older than I first thought. I didn’t like his looks; he seemed too much like a Little.

He could be a “tweener.” Some of the Little kids were what they called “throwbacks.” They grew too big, so their people were ashamed and afraid of them and got rid of them. I guess they were afraid the tweeners might start everyone changing in size if they kept them around. The tweeners hated Nats, too—maybe even more, because they were something like them.

The girl with the baby spoke. “Shut up, Raul.” Then she asked me, “Kinfolk?”

“Brothers.” That Raul might be older, but I thought this girl was the head one there. “I’m Tarn, and this is Joboy.”

She nodded. “I’m El-Su. She’s Amay.” She motioned toward another girl, about Joboy’s age, I reckoned, who had moved up beside her. “We’re sisters. The rest…” She said who they were, but I didn’t try to remember their names. They were mostly just dirty faces and ragged clothes.

I ran my tongue over my lips, but before I could ask any questions, Joboy jerked at my hand. “Tarn, I’m hungry. Please, Tarn—“

“What about it?” I turned to El-Su. “Do we get fed?”

She pointed to the other wall. “Sure. They don’t starve us—at least, not yet. Go over there and press that red button. Be ready to catch what comes out, or it ends up on the floor.”

I did as she told me, and it was a good thing she had warned me. As it was, I nearly didn’t catch the pot of stuff. I took it over to one of the benches, Joboy tailing me. There were no spoons, so we had to eat with our fingers. The food was stewed stuff that didn’t taste like much of anything, but we were hungry enough to scrape it all out. While we ate, the rest stood around watching us, as if they had nothing else to do—which was the truth.

When I had finished, I tried El-Su again.

“So they feed us. What else do they do? What do they want us for?”

Raul moved in between us and answered first. “Make you work, big boy—really make you work. Bet they haven’t had one as big as you for a long time.” He used the word “big” the way a Little does, meaning something nasty.

“Work how?” The Littles had machines to do their work, and those machines were made for Littles, not Nats, to run.

“You’ll see—“ Raul began, but El-Su, holding the baby, who had gone to sleep against her shoulder, reached out her other hand and gave him a push.

“He’s asking me, little one.” Now she made “little” sound nasty, in return. “They indenture us,” she told me.

“Indenture?” That was a new word, and anything new, connected with Littles, could be bad. The sooner I knew how bad, the better.

She watched me closely, as if she thought I was pretending I didn’t know what she meant.

“You never heard?”

I was short in answering. “If I had, would I be asking?”

“Right.” El-Su nodded. “You must have been picked up down south. Well, it’s like this. The Littles, they’re sending ships up in the sky—way off to the stars—“

“Moon walk!” One of Da’s books had pictures about that.

“Farther out.” This El-Su spoke as if she had had old books to read, too. “Clear to another sun with a lot of worlds. To save space on the ship, they put most of the people to sleep—freeze them—until they get there.”

Maybe if I hadn’t read that book of Da’s, I would have thought she was making all this up out of her head, the way I made up the stories about Teddi for Joboy. But that moon book had some talk in it about star travel, also.

“The Littles found a world out there, like this one. But it’s all wild—no cities, no roads, nothing—just lots of trees and country, where no one has ever been. They want to live there, but they can’t take their digging and building machines along. Those are too heavy; besides, they’d take up too much room in the ship. So they want to take Nats—like us—to do the work. They get rid of grown-up Nats when they bring them here, but they aren’t so afraid of kids. Maybe we’re lucky.” El-Su didn’t sound so sure about that, however.

“Yeah.” Raul pushed ahead of her again. “You got to work and do just what a Little tells you to. And you’ll never get back here, neither—not in your whole life! What do you think of that, big boy?”

I didn’t think much of it, but I wasn’t going to say so—not when Joboy had tight hold of my hand.

“Tam, are they really going to shoot us up into the sky?” he asked.

He didn’t sound scared, as I thought he might be. He just looked interested when I glanced down at him. Joboy gets interested in things… likes to sit and study them. Back in the woods, he would watch bugs, for what seemed like hours, and then tell me what they were doing and why. Maybe he made it all up, but it sounded real. And he could chitter like a squirrel or whistle like a bird, until the animals would actually come to him.

“I don’t know,” I said, but I had no reason to doubt that both El-Su and Raul thought they were telling the truth.

It seemed that they were, from what happened to us: After we had been there a couple of days, some Littles started processing us. That’s what they called it—processing. We had to get scrubbed up, and they stuck us with needles. That hurt, but there was no getting back at them. Some of them had stunners, and even blasters, on us every minute. They never told us anything. That made it bad, because you kept thinking that something worse yet was waiting.

Then they divided the group. El-Su, Amay, and another girl, called Mara, Raul, Joboy, and me they kept together. I made up my mind that if they tried to take Joboy, stunner or no, I was going to jump the nearest Little. Perhaps the Littles guessed they would have trouble if they tried to separate us.

Finally they marched us into a place where there were boxes on the floor and ordered each of us to get into one. I was afraid for Joboy, but he didn’t cry or hold back. He had that interested look on his face, and he even smiled at me. It gave me a warm feeling that he wasn’t scared. I was—plenty!

We got into the boxes and lay down, and then, almost immediately, we went to sleep. I don’t remember much, and I never knew how long we were in those boxes. For a while I dreamed. I was in a place all sunny and full of flowers with nice smells and lots of other happy things. There was Joboy, and he was walking hand in hand (or paw in hand) with Teddi. In that place, Teddi was as big as Joboy, and he was alive, as I think Joboy always thought he was.

They were talking without sounds—like just in their heads —and I could hear them, too. I can’t remember what they were saying, except that it was happy talk. And I felt light and free, a way I couldn’t remember ever feeling before—as if, in this place, you didn’t have to be afraid of Littles or their traps. Joboy turned to look back at me, with a big smile on his face. 

“Teddi knows. Teddi always knows,” he said.

I hurt. I hurt all over. I hurt so bad I yelled; at least, somebody was yelling. I opened my eyes, and everything was all red, like fire, and that hurt, too—and so I woke up on a new world.

When we could walk (we were so stiff, it hurt to move at all), the Littles, four of them with blasters, herded us into another room, where the walls were logs of wood and the floor was dirt, tramped down hard. They made us take a bunch of pills, and we moved around, but there were no windows to see out of.

After a while, they came for us again and marched us out into the open. We knew then that we were on another world, all right.

The sky was green, not blue, and there were queer-looking trees and bushes. Right around the log-walled places, the ground had been burned off or dug up until it was typically ugly Little country. They had a couple of very small, light diggers and blasters, and they ran these around, trying to make the ugly part bigger.

We marched across to a place where there was just grass growing. There the Little chief lined us up and said this grass had to be dug out and cleared away so seeds could be planted, to test whether they could grow things from our world. He had tools (they must have been made for tweeners, at least, because they were all right for us): shovels, picks, hoes. He told us to get to work.

It was tough going. The grass roots ran deep, and we couldn’t get much of the ground scraped as bare as he wanted it. They had to give us breaks for rest and food. I guess they didn’t want to wear us out too fast.

While we weren’t working, I took every chance to look around. Once you got used to the different colors of things, it wasn’t so strange. There was one thing, I think, that the Littles should have remembered better. We Nats had lived in the woods and wild places for a long time. We were used to trees and bushes. The Littles never liked to go very far into the wild places; they needed walls about them to feel safe and happy— if Littles could be happy.

So the wide bigness of this wild country must have scared the Littles. It bothered me, just because it was unfamiliar, but not as much as it bothered the Littles. I had a feeling that, if what lay beyond that big stand of trees was no worse than what was right here, there was no reason why we Nats couldn’t take to the woods the first chance we got. Then let the Littles just try to find us! I chewed on that in my mind but didn’t say it out loud—yet.

It was on the fifth day of working that Raul, Joboy, and I were sent, along with a small clearing machine, in the other direction—into the woods on the opposite side of that bare place. I noticed that Joboy kept turning his head in one direction. When our guard dropped back, he whispered to me.

“Tarn, Teddi’s here!”

I missed a step. Teddi! Teddi was a dirty rag! Was Joboy hurt in the head now? I was so scared that I could have yelled, but Joboy shook his head at me.

“Teddi says no. He’ll come when it’s time. He don’t like the Littles. They make everything bad.”

They set us to piling up logs and tree branches. We could lift and carry bigger loads than any Little. I kept Joboy with me as much as I could, and away from Raul. I didn’t want Raul to know about Joboy and Teddi. As far as I was concerned, Raul still had some of the tweener look, and I never trusted him.

There was sticky sap oozing out of the wood, and it got all over us. At first I tried to wipe it off Joboy and myself, using leaves, but Joboy twisted away from me.

“Don’t, Tarn. Leave it on. It makes the bugs stay away.”

I had noticed that the Littles kept slapping at themselves and grunting. There were a lot of flies, and from the way the Littles acted, they could really bite. But the buzzers weren’t bothering us, so I was willing to stay sticky, if that’s what helped. The Littles acted as if the bites were getting worse. They moved away from us. Finally two of them went back to the log buildings, to get bug spray, I suppose, leaving only the one who drove the machine. He got into the small cab and closed the windows. I suppose he thought there was no chance of our running off into that strange wilderness.

Raul sat down to rest, but Joboy wandered close to the edge of the cut, and I followed to keep an eye on him. He squatted down near a bush, facing it. The leaves were big and flat and had yellow veins. Joboy stared, as if they were windows he could see through.

I knelt beside him. “What is it, Joboy?”

“Teddi’s there.” He pointed with his chin, not moving his scratched, dirty hands from his knees.

“Joboy—“ I began, then stopped suddenly. In my head was something, not words but a feeling, like saying hello, except— Oh, I can never tell just how it was!

“Teddi,” Joboy said. His voice was like Da’s, when I was no older than Joboy and there was a bad storm and Da was telling me not to be afraid.

What made that come into my mind? I stared at the bush. As I studied it now, I saw an opening between two of the leaves that was a window, enough for me to see—

Teddi! Well, perhaps not Teddi as Da had first brought him (and before Joboy wore him dirty and thin from much loving) but enough like him to make Joboy know. Only this was no stuffed toy; this was a live creature! And it was fully as large as Joboy himself, which was about as big as one of the Littles. Its bright eyes stared straight into mine.

Again I had that feeling of greeting, of meeting someone who meant no harm, who was glad to see me. I had no doubt that this was a friend. But—what was it? The Littles hated wild things, especially big wild things. They would kill it! I glanced back at the one in the cab, almost sure I would see him aiming a blaster at the bush.

“Joboy,” I said as quietly as I could, “the Little will—“

Joboy smiled and shook his head. “The Little won’t hurt Teddi, Tarn. Teddi will help us; he likes us. He thinks to me how he likes us.”

“What you looking at, kid?” Raul called.

Joboy pointed to a leaf. “The buzzer. See how big that one is?”

Sure enough, there was an extra-big one of the red buzzing flies sitting on the leaf, scraping its front legs together and looking as if it wanted a bite of someone. At that moment, I felt Teddi leave, which made me happier, as I didn’t have Joboy’s confidence in Teddi’s ability to defend himself against the Littles.

That was the beginning. Whenever we went near the woods, sooner or later Teddi would turn up in hiding. I seldom saw any part of him, but I always felt him come and go. Joboy seemed to be able to think with him and exchange information—until the day Teddi was caught.

The creature had always been so cautious that I had begun to believe that the Littles would never know about him. But suddenly he walked, on his hind legs, right into the open. Raul yelled and pointed, and the Little on guard used his stunner. Teddi dropped. At least, he hadn’t been blasted, not that that would necessarily save him.

I expected Joboy to go wild, but he didn’t. He went over with the rest of us to see Teddi, lying limp and yellow on mashed, sticky leaves where we had been taking off tree limbs. Joboy acted as if he didn’t know a thing about him. That I could not understand.

Teddi was a little taller than Joboy. His round, furry head would just top my shoulder, and his body was plump and fur-covered all over. He had large, round ears, set near the top of his head, a muzzle that came to a point, and a dark brown button of a nose. Yes, he looked like an animal, but I was sure he was something far different.

Now he was just a stunned prisoner, and the Littles made us carry him over to the machine. Then they took us all back to camp. They dumped us in the lockup and took Teddi into another hut. I know what Littles do to animals. They might—

I only hoped Joboy couldn’t imagine what the Littles might do to Teddi. I still didn’t understand why he wasn’t upset.

But when we were shut in, he took my hand. “Tarn?”

I thought I knew what he was going to ask—that I help Teddi—and there was nothing I could do.

“Tarn, listen—Teddi, he wanted to be caught. He did! He has a plan for us. It will work only if he gets real close to the Littles, so he had to be caught.”

“What does he mean?” El-Su demanded.

“The kid’s mind-broke!” Raul burst out. “They knocked over some kind of an animal out there and—“

“Shut up!” I snapped at Raul. I had to know what Joboy meant, because it was plain that he believed what he was saying, and he knew far more about Teddi than I did.

“Teddi can do things with his head.” Joboy paid no attention to either El-Su or Raul, looking straight at me as if he must make me believe what he was aying.

Remembering for myself, I could agree in part. “I know—“

“He can make them—the Littles—feel bad inside. But we have to help.”

“How? We can’t get out of here—“

“Not yet,” Joboy agreed. “But we have to help Teddi think—“

“Mind-broke!” Raul exploded and slouched away. But El-Su and the other two girls squatted down to listen.

“How do we help think?” She asked the question already on my tongue.

“You feel afraid. Remember all the bad things you are afraid of. And we hold hands in a circle to remember them—like bad dreams.” Joboy was plainly struggling to find words to make us understand.

“That’s easy enough—to remember bad things,” El-Su agreed. “All right, we think. Come on, girls.” She took Amay’s hand and Mara’s. I took Mara’s other hand, and Joboy took Amay’s, so we were linked in a circle.

“Now”—Joboy spoke as sharply as any Little setting us to work—“think!”

We had plenty of bad things to remember: cold, hunger, fear. Once you started thinking and remembering, it all heaped up into a big black pile of bad things. I thought about every one of them—how Mom died, how Da was lost, and how—and how—and how…

I got so I didn’t even see where we were or whose hands I held. I forgot all about the present; I just sat and remembered and remembered. It came true again in my mind, as if it were happening all over again, until I could hardly stand it. Yet once I had begun, I had to keep on.

Far off, there was a noise. Something inside me tried to push that noise away. I had to keep remembering, feeding a big black pile. Then suddenly the need for remembering was gone. I awakened from the nightmare.

I could hear someone crying. El-Su was facing me with tear streaks on her grimy face; the two little girls were bawling out loud. But Joboy wasn’t crying. He stood up, looking at the door, though he still held on to our hands.

Then I looked in that direction. Raul crouched beside the door, hands to his head, moaning as if something hurt him bad. The door was opening—probably a Little, to find out why we were making all that noise.

Teddi stood there, with another Teddi behind him, looking over his shoulder. All the blackness was gone out of my head, as if I had rid myself of all the bad that had ever happened to me in my whole life. I felt so light and free and happy—as if I could flap my arms like wings and go flying off!

Outside, near where the Teddis stood, there was a Little crawling along the ground, holding on to his head the way Raul did. He didn’t even see us as we walked past him. We saw two other Littles, one lying quiet, as if he were dead. Nobody tried to stop us or the Teddis. We just walked out of the bad old life together.

I don’t know how long we walked before we came to an open place, and I thought, This I remember, because it was in my dream. Here were Joboy and Teddi, hand in paw. There was a Teddi with me, too, his furry paw in my hand, and from him the feeling was all good.

We understand now what happened and why. When the Littles first came to this world, spoiling and wrecking, as they always have done and still do, the Teddis tried to stop them. But the minds of the Littles were closed tight; the Teddis could not reach them—not until they found Joboy. He had no fear of them, because he knew a Teddi who had been a part of his life.

So Joboy was the key to unlock the Littles’ minds, with us to add more strength, just as it takes more than one to lift a really big stone. With Joboy and us opening the closed doors of the Littles’ minds, the Teddis could feed back to them all the fear they had spread through the years, the fear we had lived with and known in our nightmares. Such fear was a poison worse than any of the Littles’ own weapons.

We still go and think at them now and then, with a Teddi to aim our thoughts from where we hide. From all the signs, it won’t be long before they will have had enough and will raise their starship and leave us alone. Maybe they will try to come back, but by then, perhaps, the Teddis and we can make it even harder for them.

Now we are free, and no one is ever going to put us back in a Nat pen. We are not “Nats” anymore. That is a Little name, and we take nothing from the Littles—ever again! We have a new name from old, old times. Once it was a name to make little people afraid, so it is our choice. We are free, and we are Giants, growing larger every day.

So shall we stay!



 

 “Andre Norton's Reading Corner

Copyright ~ Estate of Andre Norton
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Formatted by Jay Watts ~ aka: Lots-a-watts ~ 2021

Duplication of this story (in whole or in part) for profit of any kind NOT permitted.