The Curious Snarf

There was once a young Snarf who was curious about absolutely everything. No matter what it was, he wanted to know about it. And he drove everyone mad by constantly asking questions from morning to night.

"Where does the sun go at night?"

"Why is the sky blue?"

"What makes water wet?"

How do plants grow?"

His parents did their best to answer his questions, but he always wanted to know more. And, because he always wanted to know more, he kept on asking questions. Soon, his mother grew so tired of it she lost her temper.

"Snarf! Will you stop pestering me?" she yelled when the curious young Snarf finally asked one question too many. "You do nothing but ask questions from morning to night!"

"But, if I don't ask questions, how can I find out about things?" asked the young Snarf.

But his mother only "hmmphed" in reply, before carrying on with her chores as if he hadn't spoken.

It so happens that, on the very same day, a great wizard came to Thundera, a wizard so wise that he knew the answers to every question. People were coming from all over Thundera to see him and, when the curious young Snarf heard about the wise old wizard, he decided to go and see him too. He travelled a very long way, but he finally arrived in the city where the wizard was staying.

The streets of the city were thronged with Thunderians of all ages, all of them hoping to see the wizard and ask him what they wanted to know. Now, Snarfs as we all know are small, so this curious young Snarf found it impossible to see over the heads of all the people, even when he balanced on his tail. He was very upset. Had he come all this way for nothing? Would he never get to ask the questions he so wanted to ask?

Every day, the Snarf tried his best to see the wizard. And, every day, he failed to catch even a glimpse. For, though the Snarf went to all the open-air gatherings the wizard held, he always ended up stuck at the back of the crowds, unable to see over the heads of those in front of him. He tried shouting to attract the wizard's attention, but he could never make himself heard.

Soon, it was the last day of the wizard's visit to Thundera and the young Snarf thought he had lost his chance to hear answers to his many questions. With a heavy heart, he prepared to go back home, but, just as he was about to set off, he met a little old man with a long white beard. This little old man was very little indeed, only slightly taller than the Snarf, and his beard was so long that it almost touched the ground.

"Good day to you, young Snarf," said the old man.

The Snarf bowed and looked at the old man. He was so short that the Snarf wondered if he too had been unable to see the wizard. If only there was a way to become taller, the Snarf thought to himself, he might have heard the answers to all the questions he longed to ask. Wait, maybe the wizard knew, but the Snarf did not know where to find him. And the wizard would soon be leaving Thundera, so the Snarf would never have another chance. He looked down and sighed with disappointment.

"What's the matter?" asked the old man.

"Snarf. I wanted to see the wizard," the Snarf said, sighing again. "But, because I'm so small, I couldn't see over the heads of the crowds. And now he's going away and I'll never have another chance. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him."

The old man began to laugh. "Oh, I wouldn't worry about that," he said, smiling at the young Snarf. "You see, I am the wizard you wanted to see. And I will answer any three questions you have."

The Snarf could hardly believe it. He had expected the wizard to be a tall man with a long white beard, perhaps carrying a crystal ball with him. This little old man had the long white beard, but that was all. He was far from being tall and there was no sign of a crystal ball. "Wait," said the Snarf. "You mean you're the wizard everyone's been talking about?"

"Indeed I am," said the wizard.

"Is that true?" asked the Snarf, still unable to believe that this little old man was really the wise old wizard he had come so far to see.

"Indeed it is," said the wizard.

"Are you really?" was the Snarf's next question.

"Indeed I am," the wizard said again. "I hope my answers will help you," he added as he turned to walk away.

"Wait!" the Snarf called after him. "You promised I could ask you three questions!"

The wizard turned around at the sound of the Snarf's voice. "Yes, I did," he replied. "You asked me three questions and I answered them. And now I must go and seek out others who need my wisdom."

"But those weren't the questions I wanted to ask!" The young Snarf was getting desperate. He had wanted to ask the wizard so many things. "Please! Just let me ask three more questions!"

But the wizard shook his head. "I'm sorry," he said. "I only ever let anyone ask me three questions - otherwise, I couldn't share my wisdom with so many people. You have used up your three questions and you may not ask me any more." With that, he turned and walked away without saying another word. And, no matter how much the Snarf called after him, no matter how much the Snarf begged to be allowed to ask just one more question, the wizard did not look back.

The young Snarf wept with disappointment. He had thought the wizard would answer all the questions he wanted to ask, but it hadn't been like that. He had been allowed to ask only three questions and he had wasted them. Now, he would never have another chance. The wizard was leaving Thundera and might never come back again. And, even if he did, the Snarf knew it would be useless to go looking for him again. He had used up his three questions.

He decided to go home. But, just as he turned round, a voice called after him. "Hey! Wait!" He turned around to find himself face-to-face with the wizard. "Listen," said the wizard, "I may not be able to answer any more of your questions, but I can give you some advice. Just go to Snarf School, study hard and you'll soon learn what you want to know. Will you promise to do that?"

"I'll try," said the Snarf.

And so the curious young Snarf returned home and started going to Snarf School, where he learned the answers to many questions. And, though he often thought about the wizard, he never saw the little old man with the long white beard again.