A pilgrim moves across an unforgiving land beneath the dusty sun, and comes to a walled city. Hoping to find relief from his thirst, he passes through the gates. He comes to a bustling marketplace, and drawn to a knot of people, he moves over to learn what they are about.
A small boy is poking with his toe at the body of a dead dog. Each time he jars it a whispering growl is forced through its throat, and a white snarl passes across its stiff lips. The loitering adults find this amusing and laugh merrily.
One of them says, “What a mangy bitch -- you couldn’t even patch a sandal with its scabby hide.” Another says, “When the rats finish eating that skinny carcass, they’ll be hungrier than when they started.” And another says, “It stinks now, but not as bad as when it was alive.” They all laugh at such cleverness.
Then the pilgrim steps forward. “Pearls,” he says, “pearls cannot surpass the whiteness of her teeth.”
In the ensuing silence the adults slowly grow ashamed. And each of them turns and goes away, one by one, to his own place until, at the side of the dead dog, only the pilgrim and the small boy remain.