BITTER NIEDICINE


   Dengli caught a chill and fell sick. He began having strange, muddled dreams. He dreamed that he was riding through Samarkand on a white Arabian stallion, and that he climbed up Ulugbek hill and looked at the Moon through a telescope. On the Moon he saw his father plowing the field with a tractor. Then he began having dreams about the town of Tula. To be exact, not the town itself, but the Museum of Weaponry. He was strolling through the museum
and came across a sign: "Please don't touch the exhibits";  however, he stealthily pulled the trigger on one of the rifles. A shot thundered out... And at that instant he awoke with a cr and sat u  in bed. His mother rushed immediately into the room and began coaxing him to take his medicine.
   "But it tastes bad!" Dengli pushed away the medicine and glass of water and pretended to fall asleep. And soon he actually was sound asleep. Once again he began to dream the same dream.
   This did not surprise Dengli in the least: just recently he had been given two pins-"Samarkand" and "Museum of Weaponry in Tula". But he was taken somewhat aback when, instead of Samarkand and himself on a white stallion, he suddenly saw a little man in an odd-looking cap.
   "Why are you giving your Mama a hard time?" the man yelled. "You got yourself sick, now swallow your medicine!"
   "But who are you?" Dengli asked cautiously.
   "You mean you haven't recognized me?"
   "You're probably Shyrdak. Only Shyrdak is supposed to be kind, and you're shouting."
   "I am kind. I want you to get well quickly. Call your Mama in and take your medicine. I can't promise you any presents for such heroism, but I will tell you a story."
   Without another thought Dengli called his mother in and drank his medicine. Mama turned off the light and tiptoed quietly out of the room. She was amazed that Dengli had suddenly become so obedient. But Dengli was already calling softly for his new friend.
   "Shyrdak!" he whispered. "I took my medicine! Where are you?"
   "I'm here," Shyrdak replied, taking a seat on the edge of the pillow. "You drank your medicine well; now listen up." And Shyrdak began his story.