Uncanny jumping beans

IMAGE (C) YOUNG WORLD, THE HINDU, 2015

Beans that jump and move on their own? The detectives at Hoppers have a tough case on hand!

Rock, the head of Hopper, Hopper and Hopper Detective Agency, flicked open a long white envelope and pulled out a neatly folded letter from it. He shook his head in amazement as he read it.

“Interesting! Never heard of spooky beans,” he muttered aloud to his fellow detectives.

Spooked!

“Spooky beans? Whatever is that? What’s in the letter?” asked Rana in an impatient voice.

“The letter is from two dogs on a ranch in Texas, U.S. They want us to visit their ranch to solve the case of the jumping beans. Should we take up the case?”

“Nope, Texas is many hops from here. I don’t think we should go. Who cares a hoot about ghosts in beans,” croaked the frog in his usual ill-tempered way.

But Let-it-be convinced his friends that they ought to take up this intriguing case. So after many jumps and trips, leaps and slips, the three detectives reached the ranch, wondering how to get in touch with Pom and Poo who had written the letter.

“Woof, woof,” called out a Pomeranian and a Poodle as they leaped out of a pick-up truck parked near the gate.

“Hi, I guess you are the detectives from the Hoppers. You know what, we have a serious problem here. Mario is a big trickster. How come we lose the bet every time?” cried the shaggy Pomeranian excitedly.

Rana glared at her with his bulging eyes.

“You are not making any sense. Who is Mario? What bet?”

At that moment, with a sudden yelp a tiny black creature raced towards them.

“I am Mario, a Chihuahua. We are the smallest dogs on our planet and the smartest, if I may say so myself. How can these two foolish dogs blame me if they lose the bet every time?” asked the cocky dog with a twinkle in his eyes.

The detectives learned from the Pom and Poo that Mario was playing a betting game. He seemed to win all the time, which meant he got to eat all the dog biscuits. Mario had some beans from Mexico that did some ‘spooky things’. They jumped and wriggled, and moved on their own. The game was to go around the beans one by one. If the beans didn’t move when one was going around it, he was the winner. Mario was always the winner, as the beans never moved when he walked around them.

It took a few minutes for Let-it-be to Google up some scientific info on Mario’s spooky beans.

“Mario, come on here! We want to see the magic beans,” said Rock sternly.

The sly dog reluctantly emptied a bag of jumping beans.

“Pom and Poo, some of these beans have the larvae of a moth inside them. This is why they jump and move on their own. But look, here is one with a neat hole in it. It does not move because the larva has come out as a moth and flown away. This clever dog has been cheating you. He made you walk around beans with larvae inside, whereas he walked around beans that were empty.”

Mario knew that the game was over. He ran as fast as his tiny legs could carry him. The case of the jumping beans was solved.

Published as part of a series titled SPOOK Nook in Young World, The Hindu on July 23, 2015.

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