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. Learn by my bad example. Never let an oaf cause you to lose your judgement. Some seconds later I found that my challenge had been turned against me and. -somehow! - all three, the Authority, the Skeptic, and the Well-Traveled Man, had each bet me a hundred that I would not dare walk the fire pit, stipulating that the children walked first.
Then the translator was shushing us again and the priest and priestess stepped down into the fire pit and everybody kept very quiet and I suppose some of us prayed. I know I did. I found myself reciting what popped into my mind:
'Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep-'
Somehow it seemed appropriate.
The priest and the priestess did not walk through the fire; they did-something quietly more spectacular and (it seemed to me) far more dangerous. They simply stood in the fire pit, barefooted, and prayed for several minutes. I could see their lips move. Every so often the old priest sprinkled something into the pit. Whatever it was, as it struck the coals it burst into sparkles.
I tried to see what they were standing on, coals or rocks, but I could not tell... and could not guess which would be worse. Yet this old woman, skinny as gnawed bones, stood there quietly, face placid, and with no precautions other than having tucked up her lava-lava so that it was almost a diaper. Apparently she fretted about burning her clothes but not about burning her legs