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E-Books (english-e-reader), Fugu (1)

Fugu (1)

Time: the present

Place: a top Japanese restaurant in New York, USA

It was midnight. The restaurant was closed. The last customers had left and all the waiters had gone home.

Taro Yamada looked thoughtfully at his row of knives. They shone in the bright lights of the kitchen. He liked to tidy them away at the end of a long day.

The knives came in many sizes. They were all extremely sharp. Mr Yamada, after many years of practice, knew exactly how to use them. He had learned all about cutting fish when he was a young man. He used to work in the fish markets of Japan, where he cut up lots of fish every morning.

Taro had learned how to cook fish in Japan too. For many years he had worked in the finest fish restaurants in Japan. He had been the best chef in Tokyo. He could make the finest meals from all kinds of food from the oceans.

Yes, he had learned everything he needed to know. They had been good years. There was nobody who knew more about fish than Mr Taro Yamada. Nobody.

These days, Taro mainly prepared sashimi for customers in a Japanese restaurant in New York. Sashimi is finely-cut uncooked fish and it comes with a sauce. Taro could prepare sashimi really well. And the most expensive sashimi is fugu.

Fugu is the Japanese name for the puffer fish. Its skin, heart and liver are all poisonous - although, sometimes, the liver is carefully prepared for people who want to try it. You can eat most other parts of the fugu, but it sometimes leaves a strange feeling in you. It is like feeling that you can't stand up or like having a strong alcoholic drink. The feeling comes from the very small amount of poison that is left in the fish.

Of course, if too much poison is left in the fish, it can kill you. Fugu must be prepared very, very carefully. If it isn't, you will die.

In fact, fugu is so dangerous that you have to be carefully trained and even have a special licence before you are allowed to prepare it.

Taro had the training and the licence. He was the best. He knew just how to leave the right amount of poison in the fugu to suit every customer. He always looked carefully at the person who was going to eat it - like he was measuring somebody for a suit of clothes.

Taro himself didn't like fugu. He thought the taste was rather boring. But he knew that there were plenty of people who did enjoy it. Some people liked to eat it because it was dangerous. Some liked to show others that they could afford expensive food. Some ate it for both these reasons. It didn't matter what their reasons were. If they paid, Taro would prepare it for them.

It is said that the best fugu chefs can, if they want to, give a person enough poison so that they appear to die. The person looks dead, but they aren't really. And a few days later, they're all right again.

There were very few chefs in Tokyo who were clever enough, or even brave enough, to prepare fugu in this way.

Only this was not Tokyo. This was New York.

'Taro?'

It was Anzu, Taro's wife. She was always worried when she saw her husband in this thoughtful mood. Sometimes Taro looked at his sharp knives as if they could, in some way, cut him and Anzu free of all their worries. They had had plenty of those in the last four years.

'It's all right, Anzu,' Taro answered. 'Tell Iku I'll be out as soon as I've tidied this room a bit.'

Anzu nodded. She knew this was Taro's way of saying he wanted to be alone for a few minutes.

Their nephew, Iku, was the owner of the restaurant. Taro had left Tokyo four years ago and come to New York to become Iku's head chef. Iku had been a little surprised, but he had also been very pleased. Taro soon became known as the best Japanese chef in New York. And Iku's Place, which was the name of the restaurant, was a favourite of both Japanese and American people in New York. Business was good.

Iku didn't know the reason why Taro had left Tokyo. In fact, he knew very little about Taro. Nevertheless, he knew Taro was a good chef and that was enough for him.

Anzu liked her nephew. She didn't want him to worry about the reasons why she and Taro had left Tokyo. It was best that he didn't know.

When Anzu returned to the dining room, she saw Iku talking to two very large Japanese men dressed in smart suits. They were standing by the door. Even from where Anzu stood she noticed that the smaller of the two men had part of a finger missing.

She felt afraid.

'I'm sorry, sir,' Iku said again. 'As I said, were closed. It's much too late for a meal. Please, come again tomorrow.'

Iku wasn't a small man. Difficult customers usually left when he asked them to. But these two men were even bigger than Iku. They looked very strong, too. They didn't move.

'We've come to see Taro Yamada,' said the man with half a finger. 'We've come a long way and we have a present for him.'

Anzu then noticed a large plastic box which the larger man was holding. It was like a suitcase, but more square. She didn't like the look of the 'present', even though she didn't know what it was. She knew the men and their box meant trouble. She had been expecting trouble ever since they had left Tokyo.

By now, Iku realised that these men were not going to go away.

'Look,' he said loudly, 'I'll call the police if I have to-'

'You don't have to, Iku,' Taro interrupted, as he walked into the dining room from the kitchen. 'I've been expecting these people for some time. Please let them in.'

'Are you sure, Uncle? I mean, look at the time...'

'Please, Iku - I think it's best not to displease these gentlemen,' Taro said quietly. 'They've come a long way to see me. It would be very impolite if we turned them away.'

Taro paused. Iku could see his uncle look down at the box that the men were carrying. He looked at it too. And then he saw something in the shorter man's other hand - a gun!

Iku suddenly felt very afraid. He couldn't stop staring at the gun. And while he looked, he noticed a tattoo on the man's wrist. The picture belonged to the Yakuza, a Japanese society of criminals. These men were gangsters!

Half-Finger smiled.

'It's been a long time since we last met, Mr Yamada. My boss was very annoyed when you turned down his offer. It made him very unhappy And then you disappeared. That was very rude of you.'

Iku, Taro and Anzu looked at one another.

'Offer?' Iku asked, despite his fear. 'What offer, Uncle? What do these men want?'

'Iku,' Taro began. 'In Tokyo people can make a lot of money from restaurants with the best chefs. These men wanted me to work for them in a restaurant of theirs. But I'm an honest man. I refused to work for gangsters. I left Tokyo because I didn't want to work for people like that.'

'But why did they want you, Uncle?' Iku asked. 'There are plenty of chefs in Tokyo!'

'We wanted Taro Yamada,' said Half-Finger, 'because he was the best fugu chef in the world. At least, that's what my boss said. My boss thinks fugu is the greatest Japanese food of all. He says Taro Yamada's fugu is the best. "I want Taro Yamada," he says and what my boss wants he gets!'

Taro noticed Half-Finger touch the part of his finger that was left as he spoke. He knew that gangsters in the Yakuza had to cut off a finger if they made a mistake or displeased their boss. Half-Finger had to please his boss before he lost another finger - or maybe his life.

'Now,' Half-Finger said quietly, 'you make fugu for us and we'll see just how good you are.'

'We don't do real fugu' said Anzu. 'We're not allowed to prepare it here - it's too dangerous because of the poison. And we can't get fresh fugu puffer fish here. We have to get them sent to us from Japan.'

'We know that,' Half-Finger said. He made a sign to the bigger man, who then put the plastic box on a table.

'Our present - fresh fugu puffer fish, still alive. Two of them. These are tora-fugu - the best fugu of all.'

The big man opened the plastic box. It contained, in water, two tora-fugu and they were still very much alive. Tora-fugu are considered to be the most poisonous of all the different kinds of fugu. They are also the most valuable. The lips of the two fish, Taro noticed, had been sewn closed to stop them biting each other. These men knew what they were doing.

'And if I don't want to make fugu for you?' Taro asked. 'You have already been rude to us when you refused our first offer,' said Half-Finger. 'To refuse us again would not be acceptable. I think you understand me. I think all of you do, eh?' Taro knew. Iku and Anzu knew too. If Taro refused to prepare the fish, these men would kill them all.

And if I do it, what then?' Taro asked.

'Then you work for us in Tokyo,' Half-Finger replied. 'My boss wants you as his own private chef. Of course, your wife will come too. Your nephew,' he pointed to Iku, 'can stay here. I'm sure he can find another chef for his restaurant. And I'm sure he can keep his mouth shut.'

'Our boss wants us to watch you prepare the fugu and then eat some ourselves,' said the other man. 'You were once the best. Are you still the best? Or have you forgotten how to prepare tora-fugu? We'll soon find out. If you're not good enough, we'll kill you anyway, so don't try anything stupid.'

Taro knew he had no choice. He had to prepare fugu for these men.

In the kitchen Half-Finger watched Taro prepare the fish while the other man watched Anzu and Iku prepare the vegetables. The men's guns were pointing at them all the time.

Even Half-Finger could see how good Taro was as he watched him at work. Taro used a special small knife to cut open the fugu while they were still alive. He quickly cut away the parts people didn't eat, putting the liver - which was the most expensive part - to one side. Then he cut the fish into very thin pieces and arranged it on two plates with the vegetables, rice and special sauce.

The Yakuza men watched every move.

'It's all ready,' Taro said, as he put the plates onto a table in the dining area. 'Please. Sit down and enjoy your meal.'

Half-Finger smiled. 'It looks good. But I am a polite man. I cannot be the first to eat. After you, Mr Yamada. The liver first.'

Taro looked nervous. 'But I thought you wanted to try it yourself?'

'And I will,' said Half-Finger, 'after I've seen you eat it. We're not stupid - you could have left enough poison in it to kill us. So if you thought you could get rid of us, forget it - you'll be the one to die. Now eat!'

Taro's face was sweating as he picked up a small piece of fugu liver with his chopsticks. He raised it to his mouth slowly.

'Taro! No!' cried Anzu. 'Let me eat it first!'


Fugu (1)

Time: the present

Place: a top Japanese restaurant in New York, USA

It was midnight. The restaurant was closed. The last customers had left and all the waiters had gone home.

Taro Yamada looked thoughtfully at his row of knives. 山田太郎は自分のナイフの列をじっくりと見つめた。 They shone in the bright lights of the kitchen. He liked to tidy them away at the end of a long day. 彼は長い一日の終わりにそれらを片付けるのが好きでした。

The knives came in many sizes. ナイフにはさまざまなサイズがありました。 They were all extremely sharp. それらはすべて非常に鋭いものでした。 Mr Yamada, after many years of practice, knew exactly how to use them. 山田さんは長年の練習を経て、使い方を正確に知っていました。 He had learned all about cutting fish when he was a young man. He used to work in the fish markets of Japan, where he cut up lots of fish every morning. 彼はかつて日本の魚市場で働いていました。そこで彼は毎朝たくさんの魚を切りました。

Taro had learned how to cook fish in Japan too. For many years he had worked in the finest fish restaurants in Japan. He had been the best chef in Tokyo. He could make the finest meals from all kinds of food from the oceans. 彼は海からのあらゆる種類の食物から最高の食事を作ることができました。

Yes, he had learned everything he needed to know. はい、彼は知る必要のあるすべてを学びました。 They had been good years. There was nobody who knew more about fish than Mr Taro Yamada. 山田太郎さんほど魚のことを知っている人は誰もいませんでした。 Nobody.

These days, Taro mainly prepared sashimi for customers in a Japanese restaurant in New York. 最近、太郎は主にニューヨークの日本食レストランで顧客のために刺身を用意していました。 Sashimi is finely-cut uncooked fish and it comes with a sauce. Taro could prepare sashimi really well. And the most expensive sashimi is fugu.

Fugu is the Japanese name for the puffer fish. Its skin, heart and liver are all poisonous - although, sometimes, the liver is carefully prepared for people who want to try it. その皮膚、心臓、肝臓はすべて有毒ですが、肝臓はそれを試したい人のために注意深く準備されている場合があります。 You can eat most other parts of the fugu, but it sometimes leaves a strange feeling in you. ふぐの他のほとんどの部分を食べることができますが、それは時々あなたに奇妙な感覚を残します。 It is like feeling that you can't stand up or like having a strong alcoholic drink. 立ち上がれない、強いお酒を飲むような気分です。 The feeling comes from the very small amount of poison that is left in the fish.

Of course, if too much poison is left in the fish, it can kill you. もちろん、魚に毒が残っていると、あなたを殺す可能性があります。 Fugu must be prepared very, very carefully. If it isn't, you will die. そうでなければ、あなたは死ぬでしょう。

In fact, fugu is so dangerous that you have to be carefully trained and even have a special licence before you are allowed to prepare it. 実際、ふぐは非常に危険なので、準備する前に注意深く訓練し、特別な免許を取得する必要があります。

Taro had the training and the licence. He was the best. He knew just how to leave the right amount of poison in the fugu to suit every customer. 彼は、すべての顧客に合うようにふぐに適切な量の毒を残す方法を知っていました。 He always looked carefully at the person who was going to eat it - like he was measuring somebody for a suit of clothes. 彼はいつもそれを食べようとしている人を注意深く見ていました-まるで彼が誰かに服のスーツを測っていたかのように。

Taro himself didn't like fugu. He thought the taste was rather boring. 彼は味がかなり退屈だと思った。 But he knew that there were plenty of people who did enjoy it. しかし、彼はそれを楽しんだ人がたくさんいることを知っていました。 Some people liked to eat it because it was dangerous. Some liked to show others that they could afford expensive food. 高価な食べ物を買う余裕があることを他の人に示すのが好きな人もいました。 Some ate it for both these reasons. これらの両方の理由でそれを食べた人もいます。 It didn't matter what their reasons were. 彼らの理由が何であるかは問題ではありませんでした。 If they paid, Taro would prepare it for them. 彼らが支払えば、太郎は彼らのためにそれを準備するでしょう。

It is said that the best fugu chefs can, if they want to, give a person enough poison so that they appear to die. 最高のふぐ料理人は、望むなら、死んだように見えるほどの毒を人に与えることができると言われています。 The person looks dead, but they aren't really. その人は死んでいるように見えますが、実際にはそうではありません。 And a few days later, they're all right again. そして数日後、彼らは再び大丈夫です。

There were very few chefs in Tokyo who were clever enough, or even brave enough, to prepare fugu in this way. このようにふぐを作るのに十分賢い、あるいは勇敢なシェフは東京にはほとんどいませんでした。

Only this was not Tokyo. これだけが東京ではありませんでした。 This was New York.

'Taro?'

It was Anzu, Taro's wife. She was always worried when she saw her husband in this thoughtful mood. この思いやりのある気分で夫を見たとき、彼女はいつも心配していました。 Sometimes Taro looked at his sharp knives as if they could, in some way, cut him and Anzu free of all their worries. 太郎は鋭いナイフを、なんらかの方法で彼と安津を心配事から解放できるかのように見ることがありました。 They had had plenty of those in the last four years. 彼らは過去4年間にそれらをたくさん持っていました。

'It's all right, Anzu,' Taro answered. 「大丈夫、あんず」太郎は答えた。 'Tell Iku I'll be out as soon as I've tidied this room a bit.' 「この部屋を少し片付けたらすぐに出かけるとイクに言ってください。」

Anzu nodded. あんずはうなずいた。 She knew this was Taro's way of saying he wanted to be alone for a few minutes. 彼女は、これが太郎が数分間一人になりたいと言っている方法であることを知っていました。

Their nephew, Iku, was the owner of the restaurant. Taro had left Tokyo four years ago and come to New York to become Iku's head chef. Iku had been a little surprised, but he had also been very pleased. 郁は少し驚いていたが、とても喜んでいた。 Taro soon became known as the best Japanese chef in New York. And Iku's Place, which was the name of the restaurant, was a favourite of both Japanese and American people in New York. Business was good.

Iku didn't know the reason why Taro had left Tokyo. In fact, he knew very little about Taro. 実際、彼は太郎についてほとんど知りませんでした。 Nevertheless, he knew Taro was a good chef and that was enough for him. それにもかかわらず、彼は太郎が良いシェフであることを知っていました、そしてそれは彼にとって十分でした。

Anzu liked her nephew. アンズは甥が好きだった。 She didn't want him to worry about the reasons why she and Taro had left Tokyo. It was best that he didn't know. 彼が知らなかったのが最高だった。

When Anzu returned to the dining room, she saw Iku talking to two very large Japanese men dressed in smart suits. They were standing by the door. Even from where Anzu stood she noticed that the smaller of the two men had part of a finger missing. アンズが立っていたところからでも、2人の男性のうち小さい方の指の一部が欠けていることに気づきました。

She felt afraid.

'I'm sorry, sir,' Iku said again. 'As I said, were closed. It's much too late for a meal. Please, come again tomorrow.'

Iku wasn't a small man. Difficult customers usually left when he asked them to. But these two men were even bigger than Iku. しかし、これらの2人の男性はイクよりもさらに大きかった。 They looked very strong, too. They didn't move.

'We've come to see Taro Yamada,' said the man with half a finger. 'We've come a long way and we have a present for him.'

Anzu then noticed a large plastic box which the larger man was holding. It was like a suitcase, but more square. スーツケースのようでしたが、もっと正方形でした。 She didn't like the look of the 'present', even though she didn't know what it was. 彼女はそれが何であるかを知らなかったにもかかわらず、「現在」の外観が好きではありませんでした。 She knew the men and their box meant trouble. She had been expecting trouble ever since they had left Tokyo. 彼女は彼らが東京を去ってからずっとトラブルを予期していた。

By now, Iku realised that these men were not going to go away. 今では、イクはこれらの男性が去るつもりはないことに気づきました。

'Look,' he said loudly, 'I'll call the police if I have to-' 「見てください」と彼は大声で言いました、「私がしなければならないなら私は警察に電話します-」

'You don't have to, Iku,' Taro interrupted, as he walked into the dining room from the kitchen. 「イク、そうする必要はない」太郎は台所から食堂に入ると、邪魔をした。 'I've been expecting these people for some time. 「私はしばらくの間、これらの人々を期待してきました。 Please let them in.'

'Are you sure, Uncle? I mean, look at the time...' つまり、その時を見てください...」

'Please, Iku - I think it's best not to displease these gentlemen,' Taro said quietly. 「お願い、郁-これらの紳士を不快にさせないのが最善だと思う」と太郎は静かに言った。 'They've come a long way to see me. It would be very impolite if we turned them away.'

Taro paused. 太郎は一時停止しました。 Iku could see his uncle look down at the box that the men were carrying. He looked at it too. And then he saw something in the shorter man's other hand - a gun!

Iku suddenly felt very afraid. He couldn't stop staring at the gun. 彼は銃を見つめるのをやめられなかった。 And while he looked, he noticed a tattoo on the man's wrist. そして彼が見ている間、彼は男の手首に入れ墨があることに気づきました。 The picture belonged to the Yakuza, a Japanese society of criminals. 写真は日本の犯罪者協会であるヤクザのものでした。 These men were gangsters! これらの男性はギャングでした!

Half-Finger smiled.

'It's been a long time since we last met, Mr Yamada. 「最後に会ってから久しぶりです、山田さん。 My boss was very annoyed when you turned down his offer. あなたが彼の申し出を断ったとき、私の上司は非常にイライラしました。 It made him very unhappy And then you disappeared. That was very rude of you.' それはあなたにとって非常に失礼でした。」

Iku, Taro and Anzu looked at one another.

'Offer?' 'オファー?' Iku asked, despite his fear. 恐怖にもかかわらず、イクは尋ねた。 'What offer, Uncle? What do these men want?'

'Iku,' Taro began. 'In Tokyo people can make a lot of money from restaurants with the best chefs. 「東京では、人々は最高のシェフがいるレストランからたくさんのお金を稼ぐことができます。 These men wanted me to work for them in a restaurant of theirs. But I'm an honest man. I refused to work for gangsters. I left Tokyo because I didn't want to work for people like that.'

'But why did they want you, Uncle?' 「でも、なぜ彼らはあなたを欲しがったのですか、おじさん?」 Iku asked. 'There are plenty of chefs in Tokyo!' 「東京にはたくさんのシェフがいます!」

'We wanted Taro Yamada,' said Half-Finger, 'because he was the best fugu chef in the world. At least, that's what my boss said. 少なくとも、それは私の上司が言ったことです。 My boss thinks fugu is the greatest Japanese food of all. He says Taro Yamada's fugu is the best. "I want Taro Yamada," he says and what my boss wants he gets!' 「山田太郎が欲しい」と上司が欲しいものを手に入れたい!

Taro noticed Half-Finger touch the part of his finger that was left as he spoke. 太郎は、ハーフフィンガーが話しているときに残った指の部分に触れていることに気づきました。 He knew that gangsters in the Yakuza had to cut off a finger if they made a mistake or displeased their boss. Half-Finger had to please his boss before he lost another finger - or maybe his life.

'Now,' Half-Finger said quietly, 'you make fugu for us and we'll see just how good you are.' 「さて、」ハーフフィンガーは静かに言った、「あなたは私たちのためにふぐを作ってくれます、そして私たちはあなたがどれほど良いかを見るでしょう。」

'We don't do real fugu' said Anzu. 「本物のふぐはしません」と安津は言った。 'We're not allowed to prepare it here - it's too dangerous because of the poison. And we can't get fresh fugu puffer fish here. そして、ここでは新鮮なふぐフグを手に入れることはできません。 We have to get them sent to us from Japan.'

'We know that,' Half-Finger said. He made a sign to the bigger man, who then put the plastic box on a table. 彼は大きな男にサインをし、その男はプラスチックの箱をテーブルに置いた。

'Our present - fresh fugu puffer fish, still alive. Two of them. These are tora-fugu - the best fugu of all.'

The big man opened the plastic box. It contained, in water, two tora-fugu and they were still very much alive. Tora-fugu are considered to be the most poisonous of all the different kinds of fugu. トラフグは、さまざまな種類のふぐの中で最も有毒であると考えられています。 They are also the most valuable. The lips of the two fish, Taro noticed, had been sewn closed to stop them biting each other. 太郎が気付いた二匹の魚の唇は、互いに噛み合うのを防ぐために縫い付けられていた。 These men knew what they were doing. これらの男性は彼らが何をしているのか知っていました。

'And if I don't want to make fugu for you?' 「そして、私があなたのためにふぐを作りたくないのなら?」 Taro asked. 'You have already been rude to us when you refused our first offer,' said Half-Finger. 「私たちの最初の申し出を拒否したとき、あなたはすでに私たちに失礼です」とハーフフィンガーは言いました。 'To refuse us again would not be acceptable. 「私たちを再び拒否することは受け入れられないでしょう。 I think you understand me. I think all of you do, eh?' みなさんもそうだと思いますよね?」 Taro knew. Iku and Anzu knew too. If Taro refused to prepare the fish, these men would kill them all.

And if I do it, what then?' そして、私がそれをするなら、それではどうしますか?」 Taro asked.

'Then you work for us in Tokyo,' Half-Finger replied. 'My boss wants you as his own private chef. Of course, your wife will come too. Your nephew,' he pointed to Iku, 'can stay here. I'm sure he can find another chef for his restaurant. And I'm sure he can keep his mouth shut.' そして、彼は口を閉ざしておくことができると確信しています。」

'Our boss wants us to watch you prepare the fugu and then eat some ourselves,' said the other man. 「私たちの上司は、あなたがふぐを準備してから自分たちで食べるのを見るのを私たちに望んでいます」と他の男は言いました。 'You were once the best. 「あなたはかつて最高でした。 Are you still the best? Or have you forgotten how to prepare tora-fugu? We'll soon find out. すぐにわかります。 If you're not good enough, we'll kill you anyway, so don't try anything stupid.' あなたが十分に良くないなら、とにかく私たちはあなたを殺します、それで愚かなことを何も試みないでください。

Taro knew he had no choice. He had to prepare fugu for these men.

In the kitchen Half-Finger watched Taro prepare the fish while the other man watched Anzu and Iku prepare the vegetables. The men's guns were pointing at them all the time.

Even Half-Finger could see how good Taro was as he watched him at work. ハーフフィンガーでさえ、太郎が仕事をしているのを見て、太郎の素晴らしさを知ることができました。 Taro used a special small knife to cut open the fugu while they were still alive. He quickly cut away the parts people didn't eat, putting the liver - which was the most expensive part - to one side. 彼は人々が食べなかった部分を素早く切り取り、最も高価な部分である肝臓を片側に置いた。 Then he cut the fish into very thin pieces and arranged it on two plates with the vegetables, rice and special sauce.

The Yakuza men watched every move.

'It's all ready,' Taro said, as he put the plates onto a table in the dining area. 'Please. Sit down and enjoy your meal.'

Half-Finger smiled. 'It looks good. But I am a polite man. I cannot be the first to eat. After you, Mr Yamada. The liver first.'

Taro looked nervous. 'But I thought you wanted to try it yourself?' 「でも、自分でやってみたいと思ったの?」

'And I will,' said Half-Finger, 'after I've seen you eat it. 「そして、私はそうします」と、あなたがそれを食べるのを見た後、ハーフフィンガーは言いました。 We're not stupid - you could have left enough poison in it to kill us. So if you thought you could get rid of us, forget it - you'll be the one to die. だから、あなたが私たちを追い払うことができると思ったら、それを忘れてください-あなたは死ぬ人になるでしょう。 Now eat!'

Taro's face was sweating as he picked up a small piece of fugu liver with his chopsticks. He raised it to his mouth slowly. 彼はそれをゆっくりと口に上げた。

'Taro! No!' cried Anzu. 'Let me eat it first!'