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The Savior
by Michael C. Keith

There is something which excites compassion

in the very word . . . compassion.

–– Sydney Smith

Masao climbed the steep hill behind his family’s hut to where he often spent hours looking out over the limitless savannah. When he reached the summit, he discovered a nest of black-tailed crakes. The chicks––three in all––pleaded with him to drop something, anything, into their gaping beaks. They appeared malnourished and one seemed on the verge of death.

The young Masai looked above to the outstretched limbs of the Barringtonia pendula expecting to see the parents of the baby birds. But all he saw were the abundant banana-shaped fruit dangling from the reddish-brown tree. Thinking their guardians had abandoned the tiny, fuzzy creatures after their fall to the ground, Masao decided to come to their rescue.

He climbed the low limb to where a clump of fruit hung. It was directly above the squawking fowl. I will save you from your dire plight and free you from your pain, he mumbled, removing a small blade from his belt. It took several swipes to cut through the thick stalk holding the produce. Finally, they fell to earth striking the black-tail crakes and crushing them.

“There,” said Masao, pleased with his effort. “No more suffering.”