The End of the Beginning

The End of the Beginning
Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant)


Harcourt, Inc.
Orlando Austin New York San Diego Toronto London

Text copyright © 2004 by Avi
Illustrations copyright © 2004 by Tricia Tusa

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording, or any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work
should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department,
Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

A substantially different version of this story was previously published as
Snail Tale: The Adventures of a Rather Small Snail
by Pantheon Books in 1972.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Avi. 1937–
The end of the beginning: being the adventures of a small snail
(and an even smaller ant)/Avi; illustrated by Tricia Tusa.
p. cm.
Summary: Avon the snail and Edward, a take-charge ant, set off together on a
journey to an undetermined destination in search of unspecified adventures,
[1. Voyages and travels—Fiction. 2. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction.
3. Snails—Fiction. 4. Ants—Fiction. 5. Insects—Fiction.] I. Tusa, Tricia, ill.
II. Title.
PZ7.A953EP 2004
[E]—dc22 2004002696
ISBN 0-15-204968-1

Text set in Mrs. Eaves
Designed by Judythe Sieck


Manufactured in China

To Avon from Edward, with surprise

In Which the Adventure Begins

Avon, a rather small snail, read a book every day. He loved to read because books told him all about the things that creatures did when they went on adventures.

Now, Avon had noticed that when creatures finished their adventures, and when the stories ended, the creatures were always happy. Because Avon had never had an adventure of his own, the more he read, the sadder he became. It was absolutely necessary, he decided, to have adventures for himself. Only then would he be happy.

He sighed. "No adventures will ever come my way."

A newt who was passing by overheard Avon's words. "Nay, lad, don't say such things."

"But don't you see," said Avon, close to tears, "the most important thing in the world is having adventures. Not only have I not had any, I don't think I ever will. And if I don't have adventures—like the ones I've read about in these books—I'm bound to be unhappy forever."

"Then go out and seek some adventures," said the newt.

"I don't know how," Avon said.

"Remember, lad," said the newt, "if it's going to be tomorrow, it might as well be today. And if it is today, it could have been yesterday. If it
yesterday, then you're over and done with it, and can write your own book. Think about that."

Avon thought about it for a long moment, and then he said right out loud,

"Yes, I will do it. Yesterday for sure!"

In Which Avon Gets Some Advice

Avon began to prepare for his adventures by putting his house in proper order, certain that if he did not leave right away, he might never go. Then, just as he was about to close the door, he heard a voice.

"Not going off without saying good-bye, are you?"

It was an ant.

"I've been living here," said the ant, "for a whole year, and you have never once said hello."

"I am sorry," replied Avon. "But there was never anyone around to introduce us."

"I kept telling myself you were just being polite," said the ant. "And I'm glad to learn I was right. Still, if you have ever noticed, while it's awkward to say hello without introductions, one can always say good-bye."

"Now that you mention it, I have noticed," said Avon. "When one sets out on a journey such as I'm about to take, it's necessary to notice everything."

"What sort of a journey is it?" asked the ant.

Avon told the ant all about his plan to seek adventures. "Of course," said Avon, "I've never done anything like this before, so if you have any suggestions, I would be happy to hear them."

A worried look came upon the ant's face. "Do you mean to tell me you don't really know what sort of journey you're going on?"

"I'm afraid not," said Avon.

"Hmmmm," said the ant. "You'll need a lot of questions answered."

"Might you have the answers?"

"Well," said the ant, "if I don't have a right answer, at least I'll have a wrong one."

"As long as it's an answer," said Avon, "I can use it. You absolutely must come with me."

"I'd very much like to," confessed the ant. "If I do, however, there won't be anybody for you to say good-bye to. Half the fun of going away is saying good-bye."

"There, you see!" exclaimed Avon. "If you weren't here, I would have gone without saying good-bye to anyone."

"I suggest that you say good-bye to me," said the ant. "Then leave. After a few moments, I'll come along and we can go on together."

Avon readily agreed.

"Only let's get it over with," said the ant. "I really hate long good-byes."

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