A Typical Beggar
The sticky, humid heat of the summer day hovered in the air in Neopia Central,
enveloping the city and clutching everything in its tight grip. The sun was being
cruel and unforgiving today, making Neopia's main city seem like the Lost Desert.
Thermometers has risen to their breaking point.
The High Street, with its colorful and oddly-shaped shops, was usually very
crowded. But on a day like this, only a few brave Neopians were out and about,
fighting through the heat in the hopes of getting a good deal. Most Neopets
and owners had headed to the beach or were hiding from the heat inside their
The bright sun shone down on the High Street, its rays shining through the
giant rainbow from the Rainbow Pool, blotching the ground with vibrant colors
like a stained glass window. In fact, everything looked like indistinct blobs
of color... it was a trick played by the heat waves that shimmered and danced
on the air, blurring the vision of anyone who happened to be outside.
Even the Money Tree, where many less fortunate Neopians could usually be found,
was deserted on this baking hot day. With no one walking around to donate, even
the poorest Neopians had given up on getting money. Most of them were hanging
out at the soup kitchen, where the Soup Faerie's spells kept it nice and cool,
eating chilled soup.
But upon closer inspection, it seemed that there was one pet under the Money
Tree after all. It was a thin, limp, blue Wocky, devoid of energy, looking for
any donation at all....
The Wocky's name was Gwen. She was sitting under the Money Tree and leaning
against the rough bark, the sun shining through the leaves and blotting her
with uneven shadows. She was grateful for the shade, but it didn't help much.
Heat still crept under the branches and clung to her, and her thick Wocky fur
and mane weren't helping matters. The pet's tongue flopped out, caked and dry,
and sweat glistened on her pink nose before rolling to the ground in droplets
She didn't have anything to her name. All she had owned had been destroyed
in a fire, leaving her without any possessions or Neopoints, for she had kept
all her money at home. She never trusted the bank, what with all those robbers
running about! That was months ago... since then, she had taken up a life as
one of Neopia's beggars, using whatever money she got for food, and never being
able to gather enough to start a shop or do anything else that could help her
earn her own living again.
She had thought she could pick up so many good items today, since no one else
was around, so she was braving the heat. But no one had bothered to stop at
the Money Tree all morning, and now it was noon, when most pets were having
lunch. Gwen's stomach grumbled at the thought of food... food, which some pets
had too much of, but which was such a blessing to her. She wondered at how people
could spend thousands on gourmet food, when she would be happy for anything
other than a half-eaten berry or discarded chunk of rotting omelette.
It was like this every day... she would hang out under the Money Tree, waiting
for someone with a kind heart. Usually there were many pets there, waiting like
hungry beasts for the tiniest bag of money or morsel of food to be dropped into
their midst, and then they would leap upon the item and fight over it, pecking
at each other like a flock of ravenous Crokabeks. Sometimes, people would come
by with bagfuls of Tombola junk and useless items, and even these were pounced
upon and coveted. Usually, Gwen could brave the other pets and snatch a few
Neopoints or a cheap item each day. Today, though, was different. A few Neopets
and owners wandered the High Street, but none came to the Money Tree...
However, the Wocky thought she could see some people approaching through the
heatwave. She got up, and immediately a pain like a thousand needles shot into
her stomach. Gwen winced... it was the feeling of not eating decently for several
days. She moved her legs, and the pain increased. But she bit her lip... she
had to get to the edge of the tree...
As she walked painfully on, she could see that three young female Neopets were
indeed headed to the tree. Her heart leaped into her throat... they were wearing
expensive jewelry, and they were carrying nice purses. They could surely give
her a donation!
Upon reaching the edge of the shade, she could make out the three approaching
forms. It was a Chia, an Aisha, and an Usul. They were chattering and giggling
excitedly, heading for the Money Tree, coming closer every second... but no!
They were beginning to turn away and head off towards the bazaar!
"Hey!" cried out Gwen, her voice cracking. The three girls stopped talking
and turned to look at the Wocky.
"What do you want?" snapped the Usul.
"Please," Gwen gasped, her throat parched. "Please donate. It doesn't have
to be a lot. Just a little bit." Gwen looked up at them, forcing a tiny sliver
of a hopeful smile. She saw their purses, and her ears picked up the jingling
of coins from within them. Coins that they would use to buy things for themselves
when they already had more than enough. Coins they would use for a snack to
make them bloated when other pets were starving. Coins that could give Gwen
food for a few days, enough to give her sufficient energy to make her own money.
Gwen could see herself eating a delicious slice of pizza, or a taco, or a fresh
salad. She would have been salivating, but she couldn't spare the fluid. If
these girls would donate just a little of their pocket change, she could have
a meal like she hadn't had in days, or even weeks!
But the three girls just looked down at her with scornful expressions.
"Oh, please," said the Aisha. "You know how it is with beggars. They just try
to rip you off!"
"Yeah," said the Chia, her lips curled into a sneer. "What a drama queen."
Then she mocked in a high voice, "Please, please donate! I want your money,
since I'm too lazy to work for my own!" The other two girls were sent into a
fit of giggles.
"What a waste of time," the Usul muttered, shaking her head with contempt,
her ears flopping from side to side. "Off to the Grooming Parlour, girls!" With
that, the three of them turned and trotted off.
Gwen just stared. Her already large Wocky eyes became even larger. She opened
her mouth call out to the girls, and she tried to force some air through her
throat, but it stayed in. She was speechless.
If things had turned out different, they could've been just like her. They
wouldn't be so happy and uncaring then. By the same token, if the fire had never
occurred, Gwen could have been going on a shopping spree instead of begging
for loose change.
If only someone could help her. If only someone could find it in their heart
to give her enough money for a few good meals.
The Wocky's eyes fell to the grass in front of her. The vivid green blades
blurred and transformed into a shapeless void of green. Then the bright color
slowly faded to black...
Several hours later, Gwen awoke to a pain in her side. She slid her eyes open,
wondering where she was. In front of her, she saw grass, and above that the
quiet High Street. The sun was setting, but it was still warm out. Instantly,
the Wocky remembered her situation. She must have fainted, or fell into a deep
Suddenly, another sharp pain struck the Wocky in her ribs. She winced and bit
her lip, and struggled to stand on her feet. She turned her head weakly. Standing
there was a large and angry-looking red Tonu.
"Hi... sir," Gwen said feebly.
"What's the matter with you, girl?" the Tonu roared. "You've been lying there
at the edge of the Money Tree for hours now!"
"I... I'm sorry, I think I fainted-" Gwen began, but she was rudely cut off.
"Oh, sure," the Tonu grumbled. "Fainted, my foot. You think you can just take
a nap anywhere you please, don't you? Well, you can't in public! You had a few
passersby scared. They didn't know what was the matter with you. I was sent
to wake you up. All it took was a few good, hard kicks, just as I thought it
"I'm sorry, really!" Gwen said. "But I'm so weak... please, sir, could you
donate to me?"
The Tonu rolled his eyes. "I should've known!" he exclaimed. "First, you think
you can snooze in the middle of a public market, and now you want me to pay
you for doing so? You're a typical beggar." He then turned and began to walk
"Please, sir... just a few Neopoints..." Gwen begged, tugging on his arm and
feeling the tears coming into her eyes.
The Tonu turned and stared at her for a second. His eyes seemed to soften a
tiny bit. He then dug around in a bag he was wearing around his waist, picked
out a few old coins and tossed them at her. "Go buy yourself a meal, girl."
Gwen picked up the coins gratefully as the Tonu trotted away. "Thank you, sir!"
she called out. The Wocky studied the large coins. It was 300 Neopoints, a fortune
to her! She truly smiled for the first time in a long time. At last, she could
have a good meal! Grinning, she turned and was about to leave the shelter of
the Money Tree when she heard sniffling behind her. Gwen pivoted her body around
and saw a pitiful little green Zafara sitting there, sobbing into his paws.
He must have come to the tree when she was asleep!
"What's wrong, little one?" Gwen asked gently, patting the small pet on his
The Zafara looked up at her and gasped, "I've been here for a while now." He
heaved a shuddering sob and went on, "I was supposed to get some money for my
owner, but no one's been by to donate! When he gets back and sees me empty handed,
he's going to be pretty sad, miss..." The Zafara gulped. "We don't have a lot,
you see. He depends on me."
Gwen frowned. The Zafara's face had panic and anxiety written all over it.
"Here," said the Wocky, offering him half of the coins she had just received.
Then, something pulled at the back of her mind. She looked at the snivelling
little pet and then offered him all 300 Neopoints.
The Zafara grew wide-eyed. "No, ma'am, they're yours!"
Gwen took the Zafara's paw and pressed the coins into them. "Just take them!"
The Zafara looked up at her and nodded slowly. The last sliver of the sun disappeared
below the horizon, and the sky exploded with a fiery crimson color for a split
second before the purples and blues of evening took over. The Money Tree sagged
its branches and rustled its leaves, cooling off the still-warm air. Gwen leaned
back against the trunk, penniless again, as the Zafara stood up to await his
owner. Her stomach growled, but she didn't care.
Minutes flew by, and she watched as the Zafara's young owner came up. He was
a young boy with messy brown hair. The owner conversed with his pet for a second,
then smiled and ruffled the Zafara's ears. The Zafara pointed at Gwen, and the
boy smiled at her. Gwen smiled back. Then, the boy and his Neopet ran off towards
the Food Shop, laughing.
"Another day in my life," Gwen muttered to herself quietly. For some reason,
though, she was feeling great. She seemed to have a bit of energy, and a good
feeling of hopefulness in her heart. She leaned back against the rough bark
of the trunk, and suddenly felt a tap on the shoulder. Gwen turned to see the
Zafara grinning at her.
"Oh, hi," she said, surprised. "I thought you went to the Food Shop."
"That's where I was headed, but I came back," the Zafara said. "My name's Siro.
My owner and I want you to come have supper with us."
"Really?" asked Gwen, completely shocked.
"Would I lie?" chuckled Siro. He pulled the Wocky to her feet and bounded off
towards the food shop. Gwen looked after him for a second, surprised. She wasn't
used to people caring about her. Here was a Zafara and his owner who didn't
have much at all, and they were going to make room in their hearts (and their
wallet) for her?
Siro turned and waved to her when he had almost reached the Food Shop. "Come
on!" he called, then leaped to the shop and entered.
Gwen walked along after him, but thoughts of food weren't in her mind. She
was thinking of something else she hadn't had for a long time: a friend. Whether
or not she ever had much money again, she knew she had a new buddy that would
help her through the hard times, and at the moment, that was all that mattered