Another small, casual sequence of events--so unhurried and unforced, indeed, that one doesn't realize until the close how much one has taken in. Christopher, batting a rubber ball in a hayfield--for his dog Ben to retrieve, as the spirit moves him--loses the ball and comes upon a porcupine. . . which, that night, sticks Ben with quills. They are painfully removed; but, Christopher's father warns him, Ben may not have learned his lesson. As for the porcupine, it has left behind another memento: a chewed ax handle--attracted, Ben's father tells him, ""to the salt that the sweat from your hands left on the wood."" So before going in the next night, Christopher leaves ""a gift under the porcupine's tree"" and later, to his relief, hears Ben coming in. That gift, we learn the next morning, was his baseball bat--which will be none the worse for ""a few toothmarks."" It's that last, suspenseful night that cagily turns the incident into a story--after the emotional and informational props have each been unobtrusively set in place.