MAGIC NUMBER by Harold Goodwin
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The house pets have been gentled contrary to their nature, and Dr. Ordley gloats over his ""peaceable kingdom,"" but the intervention of the garden animals (who want a piece of the patio for their contribution in keeping down the insects) is a stealthy reminder that peace is not a pacifier, that real peace is give and take. In this sly, snappy spoof, the battle between the soon-organized forces, ENIGMA (Eaters of Noxious Insects Management Associates) and CRUMB (Committee to Restore Universal Balance) turns against the wild animals until Bat leads the Skunk family into the fray and they lay down a barrage. Parrot, CRUMB's provocateur, won't admit defeat but she can't bear the doctor's subsequent betrayal: unaware of what's happened and blinded by his vision of universal love, he tends the injured Bat and welcomes the wild animals to the patio. After Parrot decamps (for the excitement of the jungle) and Bat learns from fellow-patient Gamal Hamster how to appeal to Cat's vanity and Dog's pride, the two sides are ready to merge (by mixing letters) into MAGIC NUMBER. With side benefits: Cat discovers the disobedient delight of stalking birds, the keen pleasure of not going to a box. (""Just anywhere,"" she cries wildly, following Snake into the garden, ""Just anywhere!""). And the rain--which, missing the patio, started the suspicions of favoritism--falls equally on everyone. An anti-utopian knockout.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1969
Publisher: Bradbury Press