Early afternoon found the small bright creature following a path along the edge of a forest.
It was humming to itself as it thought of the very good lunch it had eaten earlier.
Further along the path, it saw movement up in the trees...
The small bright creature was enchanted.
"You have had so many adventures!" it said.
The snake, swaying slightly, slid down from a tree branch and coiled itself around an old tree stump.
"Oh," it said, "I can tell you many things, about many places, and about many strange doings."
Its voice was soft, with a slight ripple to it. The small bright creature found this very, very soothing.
"I love to hear of adventures," it said. "I've been having wonderful adventures myself."
The snake's head swayed back and forth. "That sounds exciting," it said. "When you have seen so much, as I have, soon it can seem--" it paused.
The small bright creature leaned in closer. "Yes?"
The snake smiled, the effect oddly pleasing. "Oh, no matter," it said, "it's easy to get distracted." It paused again, swaying back and forth. "Caught up, perhaps is the word I'm searching for."
"Oh indeed. I can get very easily distracted."
"Is that so?" said the snake and it uncoiled from the tree stump. It moved with smooth grace, sliding in ripples over the ground. The small bright creature watched as it passed, and passed and passed.
"Goodness," it said, "however did you grow to be so long?"
The snake curled back on itself until it was facing the small bright creature. "Being careful," it said. "Watching out for predators."
The small bright creature nodded. "Yes, that's always wise."
"And," the snake said, "eating well."
"That's most important," said the small bright creature. "I've been very lucky that way."
"How so?" said the snake, sliding closer.
"Squirrels?" said the snake. "Squirrels are--", it paused, "--very good."
"Indeed they are," said the small bright creature. "They were very kind and gave me lunch."
The snake was encircling the small bright creature, going very slowly and very steadily. "Tell me about these squirrels."
The small bright creature watched the pattern of the snake's scales moving around it, getting a little dizzy.
"They were very busy, remarkably so. But, they took time off to give me some nuts and berries."
"Nuts. And berries." The snake's voice was very soothing now and its mouth very close to the small bright creature.
"And seeds too. It was very nice-- eeeek!"
The snake's coils tightened around the small bright creature.
"Please, you don't have to hug so tightly."
"Shhhhh," said the snake. "But I do."
"No, please," said the small bright creature. "If you do, this will get squished."
It pulled out the magpie's glossy black feather it was carrying. The feather touched the snake.
The snake giggled.
"Are you ticklish?" the small bright creature asked. It brushed the feather along the snake's scales.
The snake giggled again, its coils losing their tension.
The small bright creature ran the feather along the snake's body.
The snake unravelled, giggling helplessly.
"You are funny," said the small bright creature. "Thank you so much for that hug. It was very nice."
The snake lay on the grass, twitching and giggling. The small bright creature went its way along the path, admiring how the light caught the magpie's feather.