by Max Reif  


      "They're coming!"
Morgan thought when he woke up that morning..
He hurried to get dressed. After a bowl of cereal he ate so fast his shirt was half soaked, he ran to the side of the house and got on his bike.      
      Cycling quickly past the few streets of their small desert town, Morgan
was soon on State Highway 31, heading toward the hills. After three miles of flat desert, he took the side road and began climbing. The grade was gentle at first. As it steepened, Morgan pushed hard to pedal his feet—up, up, to the very top of Old Baldy. He turned right on the little sandy path, walked his bike, and soon stood at the highest point of the row of hills that stretched in both directions as far as he could see.      
      Yes! His "huncher" had been right! The Graybeards were gathering in the
distance: huge, dark masses moved slowly toward Slywater. Other people knew the Graybeards as the clouds that brought needed rain to the desert each spring. But Morgan knew them as dear friends—in fact, his best friends.      
      Morgan sat still for a long time, watching the Graybeards approach. At last
they were overhead.      
      "Hmmm, Hmmmm," he heard them say to him. "You've come, little
brother."      "Yes," said Morgan. "And so have you. I'm so happy to see you again."      "Hmmmm, hmmm," the Graybeards murmured, but Morgan knew they felt and appreciated his gratitude.      
     Morgan felt a very large drop land on his shoulder. Then he felt another.
Soon the rain was falling hard, making its lines in the sky as far as he could see, making its sweet music in his ears. Drenched, Morgan re-mounted his bike and rode singing and shouting all the way home.      
      "Morgan!" said Mother, as he knew she would. Soon she had him in hot shower, then all dried off and in bed with his pajamas on.      
      Morgan didn't care. From his bed he could see his window. Looking out, and listening more to the Graybeards' concert, he fell into a long nap.      

     He woke up in the morning feeling uneasy, remembering a dream. He was up on Old Baldy. The Graybeards were all around him. They seemed sad. Morgan wondered why.      
      Waking, he wondered what the dream could mean. But he didn't think about it for long. He had plenty to do      
      The desert always filled with brilliant color in the Graybeards' wake. The land, impregnated by rain, gave birth to a multitude of flowers that seemed to dance in the breeze. They kept their festive garb on for weeks. Then, slowly, the flowers would wilt under the hot sun that would then rule for many months.     
      Some desert flowers might already be blooming today. Morgan's plan was to ride his bike deep into the desert and look for signs that the Graybeards had already awakened Spring's garden.      
      But as Morgan ate his breakfast, he heard something. Or rather, he didn't hear something. There was no rain falling.      
      Morgan went to the window and looked out. The sun had cleared the tops of the faraway mountains, and it looked like today was going to be a hot one. The Graybeards were nowhere in sight.

continued on page 2

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