41. Whimsical

"Make thee a fiery serpent, Moses," said the Lord, "and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live."

A watching angel clapped her hands, and giggled delightedly. "I love it when He gets whimsical…"


42. Optimal

"But, Dido, Carthage has to be circular," Anna insisted. "That's the optimal shape to maximize the area enclosed by a fixed perimeter, like your ox-hide thong. Multiplier analysis proves…"

"Anna," said Dido patiently, "we don't want the maximum land area."

Anna blinked. "Then what do we want?"

"The harbor."

"…Oh."


43. Spotted

The prostrate ewe paused to gulp some air; then she gave one last heave, and her lamb wriggled free. Squirming eagerly out of his placenta, he staggered to his hooves, his spotted fleece gleaming unmistakably in the sunlight.

Laban's sons exchanged uneasy glances. Four in a row. This wasn't good…


44. Brother

Remember last Independence Day, when Elly fell asleep on my shoulder on the way home from the fireworks? I promised God, then, that I'd die in boiling oil sooner than let anyone hurt her.

And now I'm sending her to fight Martians single-handed.

Being a big brother is hard, sometimes.


45. Callous

It isn't atrocities that get tyrants toppled. It's the little callous touches afterwards.

Take Laxidarg of Zunchwer. If you have to publicly kill an innocent little girl, that's one thing; everyone miscalculates sometimes, and the populace can admire truly unswerving zeal, however ruthless.

But billing her mother for the ammunition…


46. Early

I never claimed to be a dinosaur buff. And I'm methodical; say "Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous", and I'll start at the beginning and work forward. It's not my fault the Tempo-Vator broke after the trip to the Early Triassic.

Anyway, what's Jason's beef? Five healthy dicynodont eggs must be worth something.


47. Complain

"Why should you complain about Japanese stereotypes?" I said. "Such a sophisticated and attractive culture – I'd be honored to be associated with it."

"But it's misrepresentative," said Keiko earnestly. "I'm not part of an attractive, sophisticated culture, and saying I am is wrong."

Well, when she put it that way…


48. Needy

I became a priest because I wanted to serve the poor, the needy – those without hope in this world. Making me chaplain of Poncebridge University seemed like some cruel joke on God's part.

Then I got to know the students here.

I think I'm right where I ought to be.


49. Laborer

"What can I do, Bellman?" Princess Isabel moaned. "I love Charles desperately, but Father and Mother won't hear of my marrying a common laborer."

"Unless," the court wizard mused, "he wins your hand by breaking your nefarious curse."

Isabel blinked. "I'm not under any curse."

"Well, that can be remedied…"


50. Crow

"What's your name?" I asked the older crow.

"I haven't any," she said. "Naming belongs to Adam's children."

I thought of myself an hour before: no crow yet, but a Negro schoolgirl being reviled as a race traitor for loving Selma Lagerlöf's Nils. "May I call you Akka, then?"

"Certainly."