Honor Among Thieves

             In a dark forest, a wiry weasel walked willfully and warily along, when without warning, a common raven croaked at it from the branches above.

            “Toc toc, watch out, toc toc. The badger ahead might see you, toc toc.”

           “I know my way around, thank you very much,” winked the witful weasel. “In fact, it is he who I am trying to find.”

           “Toc toc, pity you then, toc toc. I’ll be ushering your soul away shortly, toc toc.”

           Deeply into the forest, the weasel voyaged, as the near leafless, contorted canopy overhead broke up the sun-drenched sky with knotty twigs, sprigs, boughs, and greyness. Darker the path led him ‘til a great shadow overtook him that shrouded everything in a blanket of shade so thick that hardly a thing could be seen.

            “Darkness will do,” he whispered. “No torch is needed.”

           Abruptly, a flurry of fresh footsteps signaled the weasel was not alone. Instinctually, he bolted into the closest hollow of a tree just as a big badger, mouse still in mouth, chomped at the spur of his heels, hardly missing the mark.

           “You prowl these parts unprotected from me?” the badger laughed, gnawing on the half-eaten rodent. “I afford you too much respect for not having devoured you already. You’re lucky I’m full for now, but unlucky I’m never full for long—what d’you want?”

           “The one thing no one ever has received, a morsel of the badger’s food, freely given.”

           “That’s about as likely as you getting out of here alive. And how will you win it?”

           “Give me a riddle to solve. When you’ve thought of as many as I have, you can unravel any.”

           “Why are clouds white and branches gray? And why do I never notice them?”

           “Wavelengths of sunlight, and because you’re too—”

            “Good,” the beguiling badger tore him off a morsel of food then seized him up the moment he accepted it, “you did know the answer to the second question.”