Elsewhere on the island is a team of archeologists that has dug and sifted, dug and sifted, dug and sifted daily at an excavation yielding thus far sand and rock and clay but not much else, until this morning, when said dirty, dogged, diligence unearths something so fantastic that the members jointly gape. It is a speck of white, at first, and then a bone chip; no, a vertebra, then a spinal column sunk inside volcanic mud, intact. In fact, the skeleton is whole, when it lies virtually uncovered, in a pit the rough equivalent of a dragon's den, or lair, since this (though larger) is the prototype for Komodo's best-known resident (Dr. Windmollen notwithstanding), with a prehistoric twist that has those present in an intellectual uproar.
Lending inverse credence to an earlier observation made by Vina: "birds are reptiles," reptiles, way back when, were birds, albeit flightless in the form on view, so recently discovered that analysis needs be done before conclusions are confirmed. But any child can see, by looking at the outspread, paired appendages (be they cramped within the confines of their desecrated grave) that they were wings once, fully fledged, or, in the place of plumage, scaled, evoking images of the beast slain by Saint George.
Fire breathing unconfirmed, the find is no less fabulous for contributing to the fossil record proof (if not a hoax) that mythic lore, from the days of yore, may rest on truth.
"Stuff 'n nonsense," Poppie scoffs, unequivocally, over coffee, upon reading, in the local paper, news about his peers (whose learned company the recluse has failed to court).
"What is?" Vina asks while making syrup of her kopi. Laced with susu kental manis, hers and his taste poles apart, yet dad and daughter are content to slurp in unison.
Poppie, apropos, performs an energetic pantomime that has Vina in hysterics - "tickled pink" as the saying goes (though hers are flesh tones more akin to cafe latté).
Pulling down a phantom visor, Poppie mounts his steed (a chair turned backwards), hefts his lance (the rolled-up newspaper), lifts his heels and claps them roundly to the horse's ribs (the chair legs), rears, then charges, bouncing up and down and side to side at a breakneck, slapstick speed, until his eyes behold then fix their glare on a fiend. He changes character, flares his nostrils (with a pair of coins inserted), bends his knees, adjusts his massive tail (a mop Bi Mun has mislaid), sticks his tongue out (given added length by the fork his teeth have clenched), extends his wings (his fingers pinion-like, his elbows cocked askew at awkward angles, hinting flight is less a function than is flap), proceeds to sneeze (extruding coins and fork in tandem), pulls a hankie from his pocket, plus a handheld butane lighter that he fumbles, drops, retrieves, ignites the flame in front of his face and ROARS resoundingly!.
"A fire-breathing dragon's on the island, Poppie?"
"Used to be. Or so these U.S. crackpots want the gullible to believe. Appears they've dug up the remains of Mister Local Lizard's forebears. Some vestigial wings, allegedly, helped propel the ancient beast, suggesting once-upon-a-time it may have flown."
"Cool," is Vina's comment.
Poppie scowls at her vernacular.
"More like balderdash, as loony as a levitating squirrel. Who goes by what name?"
"Ah, yes. Ade Oya Esquirrel?"
"You mean 'esquire'? That's not funny, Poppie. Anyway, he returned."
"As to his cage, I trust?"
"Well, not exactly."
"Hovering just above it?"
"If you haven't seen a thing, it doesn't prove that it's untrue."
"Quite right. I haven't seen a microwave ray, yet know it bakes potatoes. I haven't seen a broadcast beam, yet know the PC works. I haven't seen gravitational force, yet know it keeps us grounded - lest you've figured out what I tend to doubt your paleface pet could learn."
"He's not my pet; he is intelligent," Vina protests, getting testy. Poppie's skepticism rankles; it does harm to disbelieve when a thing is so, no matter how farfetched. 'The world is round,' was radical, to medieval minds convinced that it was flat. 'The sun stays put,' despite an archive of outdated texts depicting revolutions round an Earth proclaimed the pupil of some Universal eye. Is it unthinkable to think, as Ade Oya stated recently, that a human being is not the Cosmos' cause célèbre?
"If you're asking me to accept on faith this rodent's erudition, overlooking his ability to convert hot air to lift, I do confess the test of truth must be my sight."
AGGRAVATED, Vina gulps her cocoa-colored coffee, thereby signaling her daily lesson's end, uncouthly burps, then marches off to have a chat with her misnamed "pet."