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<span> When Furello awoke, he was surprised to find that night had settled upon the land. He stared at the cloudless sky, stars were forming diamond pictures on a dark, velvet blue background. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Kelton! He called to the sleeping elk.  We ve slept too long. We must be going. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Kelton opened his eyes and tiredly rose to his hooves.  How could we do such a thing? he grumbled sleepily. Then his body went rigid.  Oh no! he cried.  I just remembered. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Just remembered what? Furello asked. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Tomorrow is the day, he said, his voice breaking,  the day I lose my ships. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  There is still time, Furello declared strongly.  But only if we hurry. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> The two friends broke into a run. They scrambled up the trail, dodging rocks that lay in the way. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Bordering one side of the path was a sheer cliff. The other side seemed to drop into nothingness, although Furello could hear the faint gurgling of a brook far below. The bright stars lit their way and, as they ran, the crisp night air refreshed them. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Before long, they reached the end of the trail. Lying flat as a pancake on top of a mountain was a tiny plateau. Light from the stars lent a soft sheen to its rocky surface. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> On a small pinnacle of stone in the middle of the plateau perched an aged astronomer peering through a telescope at the star-filled sky. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Kelton gasped,  That must be the man looking through the tube the turtle was telling us about. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Let s go speak to him, Furello said eagerly, and bounded to where the astronomer was perched. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Sir, Furello addressed him respectfully,  May I please ask you a question? The astronomer seemed not to hear Furello and continued to peer through his telescope as though he were a statue. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello politely repeated himself.  Sir, may I please ask you something? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Not even looking at the young unicorn, the astronomer merely replied in a monotone,  I would greatly appreciate it if you would wait until I am finished. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello did not know what to do. He looked at Kelton. The striped elk pawed the ground nervously--as well one might when one is about to lose his most prized possessions. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Hours crawled by before the astronomer lowered his telescope and turned to them. When he did, his face was expressionless. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  What is it that you would like to inquire of me about? he asked in a very even voice. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Mr. Turtle said that you could tell us what we need to know, Furello told him. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  I can, replied the astronomer with authority, bending to pick up a globe of the earth.  What is it you care to know? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  What is the most important thing in the world? Furello s voice trembled in anticipation as he asked it. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Humph...such a simple question. The most important thing in the world is to know exactly where you stand in the universe, he declared, placing a world globe upon the ground beside him. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  And, do you know where we stand? Furello asked eagerly. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Young one, I know precisely where we stand. He stuck his hand into his pocket and pulled out a scroll of paper. With a dramatic flourish, he unrolled a map of the heavens.  We are here, he said, pointing at one of the dots on the sheet. </span></p> <p> <center> <img id="image_22" src="image_s_22.jpg" onfocus="this.src='image_f_22.jpg';" onblur="this.src='image_s_22.jpg';" alt="The astronomer shows Furello and Kelton where they are." tabIndex = 0> </center> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello starred blankly at the chart in front of him. So, the great question was finally answered.  It all seems so simple, Furello said, thinking of the long distance they had traveled and the many obstacles they had overcome to reach this place. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  It s very simple, the astronomer said.  There are not any secrets in the universe. I have found all the answers merely by observing carefully. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Kelton was incredulous.  You mean there isn t anything you do not know? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  I do not mean to boast, the astronomer bragged in his even, sure manner,  but the universe has a strict order and, once you know that order, you need never again be unsure of yourself. His voice never wavered and his expression never changed. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello looked at the stars. The night seemed to hum with their twinkling.  Now I have the answer, he said to himself silently,  but why don t I feel satisfied? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> He longed to be somewhere else. Somewhere that was a special place. He did not know where that place was, but he knew that it was more special than anywhere he had ever been...even more special than his newly found valley. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Suddenly, Furello s body trembled.  What s wrong? he thought. Then his body shook even harder.  Something is very wrong! he exclaimed, trying to steady himself so he would not fall. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> He glanced at Kelton and saw that the elk was also shaking.  Wh-what is happening? Kelton wailed, barely keeping his balance. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  The astronomer will know what is wrong, Furello thought. He looked hopefully toward the aged stargazer. But the astronomer had lost his confidence. His face was contorted into a state of confusion.  Oh, what is wrong? What is wrong? he sobbed.  Is there not any order to the universe? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Another strong jolt sent him tumbling from his perch.  Oh, my, he moaned.  Can we never be sure of anything? </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> He picked himself up from the ground and darted across the plateau, his robe flapping in the night. He reached the edge of the mountain top and fled down a path. A brief silence followed the last jolt, and then the mountain began to rumble. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Le-let s go back to the ships, Kelton stammered. Suddenly, a giant crack in the earth opened behind them. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Jump! screamed Furello. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> The two companions leaped over the fissure and raced across the heaving mountain top. They found the trail they had climbed and fled down it. The path was extremely tricky. They slipped and slid on rocks in the trail, and every time the mountain trembled, their legs buckled. During one of these sharp jolts, Kelton lost his footing. </span></p> <br> <br> <br> <a href="chapter_17.html">Click here to go to Chapter 17.</a> <br><br><br> <!-- #EndEditable --></td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" bgcolor="#000000"> <table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tr> <td><a href="http://www.host-central.net"><img src="../images/template_design_r6_c1.jpg" width="773" height="22" border="0"></a></td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </table> </body> <!-- InstanceEnd --></html>