Eustace Benjamin had made an important discovery. Months ago, while on his way home from his shift at the potato chip factory, he had met a changeling, but didn't, at first, know it. A small terrier had followed him home. When Eustace arrived at the door of his apartment building, he had turned to the dog and said, "Thanks for the company, dog, but this is where we part ways."
"Please wait," said the terrier. The dog's mouth had difficulty shaping the words, but the response was unmistakable.
Eustace stared at the terrier. He opened his mouth. He said, " ," and then closed his mouth again.
"May I come in?" the terrier continued, "I'd like to speak with you."
Eustace managed words this time. "You're a—"
"Don't say it. Not here. Not in public. Please. It's important. I won't bite."
Eustace nodded. He fished his keys out of his pocket and opened the door, ushering the dog in. He and the terrier ascended three flights of stairs and emerged on Eustace's floor. Beside them, the elevator door opened and Mrs. Beazely stepped out.
"Hello, Eustace," she said. Then she noticed the terrier. "You know there's no pets allowed in this building. I hope I don't have to tell the superintendent."
"Come, now," said Eustace. "You know I don't own a dog. This isn't a pet. This dog is a guest. He won't be staying long."
Mrs. Beazely frowned. "Well, all right. I won't report it yet, but one yap out of that mutt and the superintendent will hear about your breach of the rules. He has government class friends, you know."
"Thank you, Mrs Beazely. I will be mindful of that. I appreciate your generous nature and assure you that Terry, here, won't disturb you in any way."
Mrs. Beazely looked down at the dog. She frowned. The terrier looked up at her. He seemed to be smiling. He licked his chops and fetchingly cocked his head to one side. Mrs. Beazely harumphed and went one way down the hall and Eustace and the dog went the other.
Once inside his apartment, Eustace completed his earlier comment, "You're a changeling!"
"Yes," the terrier said and began changing shape.
Eustace was fascinated. He watched as the transformation took place. He had never actually seen a changeling, but from stories he had heard, he always assumed that the process was a lengthy one and was probably accompanied by painful groans and the sounds of bones cracking and skin stretching. There were no such sounds. In fact, there was no sound at all. Euscace could also not recall seeing anything actually changing. The terrier blurred and was replaced by a vague fuzziness. It didn't look like a cloud, or fog, but more like a three-dimensional video effect. The fuzziness grew taller and then resolved itself into the shape of a woman. Eustace was speechless.
"Have you any clothes I can borrow?" she said.