The birds chirruped happily in the morning light, flitting from branch to branch and plucking cherries with their bony hands. Cathy lay against the tree's gnarled roots, chewing a straw and watching the activity above.
“What is it, Boyo?” she said, without lowering her gaze.
He approached her, cap in hand. “You should come, Cathy. We're in trouble.”
She considered a flippant response about how they were always in trouble, but something about his tone made her think again. “The egg?”
“Just come see.”
Joe stood by their wagon, hands on his hips. From beneath his straw hat, his cold blue eyes fixed on Cathy as she looked in the back.
Her first instinct was that they had been robbed. And then she started to understand. The floor of the wagon was littered with wood: axes without heads, knives without blades, muskets without barrels or locks or triggers. And behind all this, glinting in the light of the low sun, were not one, but two golden eggs.
“Now,” Joe said, running a hand over his grey stubble, “you've done a lot of good for this caravan, so I'll let you make the odd mistake. Fact is, we needed those tools and arms.”
“Right. We should keep metal away from it. I mean, them.”
“Tools are one thing, Cathy. Is it safe?”
“I... Yes, I...”
Joe sighed. “Cathy, here's what we're going to do. We're going to tell everyone you got rid of these eggs. And if you have any sense, we won't be lying.”
He pulled down the brim of his hat and walked away. The other people of the caravan glanced furtively at Cathy, trying not to meet her eye.
Boyo said, “It ate the tools.”
Cathy stared at the two golden eggs. “Right.”
“And made another one,” Boyo went on.
“Yeah. It must have.”
“Can it eat wood?”
Cathy closed up the back of the wagon, hiding the eggs from view. “I really, really hope not.”