One morning, Lucas sat outside with his grandfather. They looked past the gravel road that led to a natural reservoir on the delta. On the other side of the water, there was a cottage.

“Does a ghost live there?” Lucas asked.

“No, a mad hatter lives there,” said his grandfather. Lucas didn’t know what a mad hatter was, but the image of a scary man haunted him.

Later, Lucas went for a walk in the forest. He collected pieces of amber and granite that he found on the ground. He looked at the moss on the trees and watched a bird peck at the ground. But the forest was like a maze. Soon, Lucas was lost.

Lucas heard somebody behind him. He wanted to run away, but he fell. He had a streak of blood on his shirt and some pebbles stuck in his skin. Then a man appeared.

“I will take you home. First, let’s get you cleaned up,” he said.

Lucas followed him. When they arrived at the cottage, he realized the man was the mad hatter!

He sat down inside. It smelled like charcoal, but it looked like a normal house. The man brought Lucas back some medicine.

“It’s a bit old, but it’s not expired,” the man said.

While Lucas cleaned his cut, the man washed the blood out of his shirt with detergent.

Lucas asked, “Are you a mad hatter?”

The man laughed and replied, “That’s a euphemism for a crazy person. Actually, I’m pretty normal. I’m a columnist for a newspaper,” said the man. He pointed to his credentials which hung on the wall.

Lucas could hear the crickets outside. It was getting dark, so he asked, “Could you take me home now?”

The man said yes. Lucas was surprised that people thought the man was crazy. He was actually very courteous. Maybe Lucas should have a more liberal attitude. Next time, Lucas wouldn’t make judgments about people without getting to know them first.