BURNING SANDS

   Grandfather and grandson climbed up onto a slope and sat down in the shade of a tall tree.
   From their vantage point they could see the Amu Darya and the crescent of the oxbow lake surrounding the island. They could also make out the flocks of sheep. Along the banks of the lake the island was green, but it was not entirely an oasis. Spreading from the south towards the slope were yellow sands.
   The sun was directly overhead, and although it was autumn, the day was sultry.
   Rakhim-aga pulled some roasted meat and a churek out of his rucksack.
   Arslan divided his bread in two and gave one half to Bu- benchik.
   "You're not getting homesick, are you?" Grandfather asked.
   "Just a little," Arslan admitted.
   "Tomorrow we'll head for home," Rakhim-aga said. "When it gets a little cooler I'll go and take a look at our flock, see how they're faring here. Tomorrow morning we'll gather some sorghum seeds and then we'll take the boat back home."
   While Rakhim-aga   and Arslan were having their lunch, the kid browsed, working its way slowly to the foot of the
slope.
   Suddenly it jumped aside with a startled bleat and raced back up the slope to where Arslan and his grandfather were
sitting.
   "A jackal?" Arslan asked in a frightened voice.
   "A hare!" Grandfather said with a laugh. "Bubenchik got scared. Can you see it?"
   The hare darted in fright out onto the sand and went bounding across the clearing.
   "Want to catch a baby hare?" Grandfather asked.
   "Yes!"
   "Then run over and grab it!"
   "But you know I could never catch it," Arslan said indignantly.
   "Sure you can. It's only a youngster. It ran out onto the sand out of fright, but the sand is hot and it'll scorch its paws. It won't run very far."
   Arslan went chasing after the hare and caught it. The hare saw its pursuer and took several leaps, but the sand was scorching. It lay down submissively on the ground.
   Arslan covered it over with his shirt and carried it up onto the slope.
   "Let it run free!" Arslan said, releasing the hare. "Besides, I have Bubenchik."
   "It'll be better off this way," Grandfather said in agreement.
"Let it run free."