We bent under the railing to see what it was. “Don’t,” she said and then, in response to my remark of puzzlement, “and don’t play dumb with me.” But I insisted on playing dumb from that point forward, although I really hadn’t heard her; I really hadn’t been paying attention. So I poked it with my foot and asked what she meant as I really didn’t understand. “Stop poking that,” she said, and when I asked her why she began to call me names. They started as bad names and then became worse. “You’re going to get yourself killed,” she said, and I could tell she believed it, but did not see the risk in dangling my foot near its mouth. But then she slipped and her foot was much closer than mine. And that is how we came under the tutelage of Ivan, the toothless zoo panther.

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