He didn’t laugh at the funny parts. Instead he pulled out a book and started reading. There weren’t any pictures, except for the one on the cover that showed a man in a helmet in a small wagon connected to a horse. It was called Warfare in the Ancient World. Sergeant Defenbargh told me ancient meant “a long time ago,” but I knew that already. When I asked him how many days, he said he didn’t know.


I turned back to the TV, but after he thought about it for a minute he started talking again. “It’s too big,” he said, poking the horse on the book cover. “Horses were smaller back then.”


“Like dogs?”


He frowned. It was a real frown, not like the fake ones that Mom used sometimes when she was only pretending to be confused. “Big dogs, maybe. But the first chariots weren’t even chariots. They were called war carts. And they didn’t use horses at all. They used donkeys.” Sergeant Defenbargh found a pencil and opened the cover to the mostly-blank page with the title. I leaned closer to watch. He drew a funny-looking monster that didn’t look anything like a donkey. He was not very good at drawing.


“See, they put an iron ring through the donkey’s nose,” he said, “and tied the reins to it. So you could pull the reins and make it go where you wanted.”


“Did it hurt the donkey?”


He frowned again, but it wasn’t from confusion this time. “What do you think?”