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Rated: E · Assignment · Children's · #2214798
An altogether too cunning person.
E.Pig and Pepper

3. "The Cheshire Cat" – Write a short story or poem of a most cunning person with the phrase “with the grin of a Cheshire Cat” used somewhere within. (<1000 words)

The Cheshire Cat

It was Amilcar the hermit who first came across Mascarponi the Magnificent. He was leaning against a wall as Amilcar appeared and, the closer the hermit approached, the broader grew Mascarponi’s grin. By the time Amilcar had arrived in front of him, the grin spread from ear to ear. Amilcar greeted the man politely.

“Good evening, sir. My name is Amilcar and I have been wondering why you are so happy. Your smile seems bright enough to compete with the sun.”

Mascarponi ceased his grinning long enough to answer, “Did your mother never tell you that not all is as it seems? Just because I am smiling, it does not follow that I must be happy. This could be a complete facade designed to make people think I am the merriest of persons.”

“That is certainly true,” replied Amilcar. “So, am I to understand that you are not happy?”

“Indeed,” countered Mascarponi, waving an instructive finger in the air, “I have said nothing on the subject of my happiness at all. The fact that Mascarponi the Magnificent has demonstrated the need to take no note of outward appearances, has absolutely no bearing on the matter of his happiness.”

Amilcar was most impressed. “Mascarponi the Magnificent, is that your name?”

Mascarponi reflected for a moment before answering. “It is one of my names, yes. In spite of it’s being three names, of course. But tell me, lad, what brings you to these parts?”

“I seek enlightenment,” answered Amilcar. “I have searched in many places and in many ways but, so far, I have not glimpsed it.”

“Ah, so you are a hermit,” said Mascarponi, rubbing his chin. “I wondered about the yellow robes, of course, and this explains everything.” He paused and looked to his left, studying the road that Amilcar had yet to travel. Turning his head to the right, he gazed at the route Amilcar had already traced. Then he looked at Amilcar again. “I see no sign of it today,” he said.

Amilcar was puzzled. “No sign of what?” he asked.

“Enlightenment,” replied Mascarponi. “You have no baggage and are travelling very light, therefore, and I see no means of enlightening by throwing things away. And, since the sun is setting, there is little hope of enlightenment from that direction. It is only going to get darker now. Perhaps you would better serve your purpose by seeking a place to spend the night. You could continue your search for enlightenment in the morning.”

“When I am ready to rest, I shall just curl up at the side of road and sleep,” said Amilcar.

Mascarponi appeared quite impressed by this. “So you would not accept if I were to offer you shelter for the night?” he asked.

“No, no,” said Amilcar, “I would not refuse your hospitality, Mr Mascarponi. But I am quite prepared to sleep where I happen to be. As an ascetic, I am used to such things. But I accept your offer of hospitality gratefully.”

“Whoa, steady on, youngster,” said Mascarponi as he held up a delaying hand. “You rush on too fast. I did not say I would give you lodging. My purpose was purely to find out what you would do if you were offered it. And now I know.”

Amilcar’s expression revealed his growing frustration. “Well, if you are not going to offer me a place to spend the night, I must press onwards. I do appreciate that you have spent time in conversing with me, however.”

“I also did not say that I would not let you have a place to stay,” protested Mascarponi.

Amilcar turned away and began walking. “I know,” he called over his shoulder.

Mascarponi watched him go, still with the grin of a Cheshire Cat spread across his face. It was only when the hermit had disappeared into the growing dusk that he allowed the grin to fade.

Word Count: 651
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