When God made a creature, he first of all shaped it in clay. Then he baked it in the ovens of the sun until it was hard. Then he took it out of the oven and, when it was cool, breathed life into it. Last of all, he pulled its skin on to it like a tight jersey.
All the animals got different skins. If it was a cold day, God would give to the animals he made on that day a dense, woolly skin. Snow was falling heavily when he made the sheep and the bears.
If it was a hot day, the new animals got a thin skin.
On the day he made greyhounds and dachshunds and boys and girls, the weather was so hot God had to wear a sun hat and was calling endlessly for iced drinks.
Now on the day he made Torto, God was so hot the sweat was running down on to the tips of his fingers.
After baking Torto in the oven, God took him out to cool. Then he flopped back in his chair and ordered Elephant to fan him with its ears. He had made Elephant only a few days before and was very pleased with its big flapping ears. At last he thought that Torto must surely be cool.
“He’s had as long as I usually give a little thing like him,” he said, and picking up Torto, he breathed life into him. As he did so, he found out his mistake.
Torto was not cool. Far from it. On that hot day, with no cooling breezes, Torto had remained scorching hot. Just as he was when he came out of the oven.
“Ow!” roared God. He dropped Torto and went hopping away on one leg to the other end of his workshop, shaking his burnt fingers.
“Ow, ow, ow!” he roared again, and plunged his hand into his ice bucket to cure the burns.
Torto meanwhile lay on the floor, just alive, groaning with the heat.
“Oh, I’m so hot!” he moaned. “So hot! The heat. Oh, the heat!”
God was alarmed that he had given Torto life before he was properly cooled.
“Just a minute, Torto,” he said. “I’ll have a nice, thin, cooling skin on you in a jiffy. Then you’ll feel better.” But Torto wanted no skin. He was too hot as it was. “No, no!” he cried. “I shall stifle. Let me go without a skin for a few days. Let me cool off first.”