Once upon a time there was a boy named Salman who loved Dinosaurs, especially the Triceratops. Salman wished he had a pet Triceratops to play with. His brothers and his parents told him that the Triceratops were extinct were; and in any case they too big to keep as pets. There were no more Triceratops in the world.

Salman's mother explained to him that the Triceratops lived long, long ago, in the cretaceous period, 150 million years ago; but Salman would not listen and kept wishing he had a real Triceratops to play with. His mother bought him many rubber Triceratops, but Salman still wanted a real Triceratops.

During the summer holidays, Salman and his family went to Nathiagali. One day they planned to got for a walk along the Dongagali pipe line. There were many trees and flowers there, and Salman was chasing a butterfly when he saw cave, covered with bushes and ivy. Excitedly he called to his brothers, "Ahmad! Ali!I found a cave!"

His brothers did not answer, so Salman entered the cave. There was nothing there, except for a pile of dried leaves. He was about to turn away when he saw a passage to the left of the cave.

"I wonder where this passage leads to?" thought Salman, and turning on his torch, he went in.

It was a long, dark and damp passage, with an odd musty smell. Salman felt a little frightened but he kept on going. He went on and on until a large rock blocked his path. Salman was a strong boy so he pushed and pushed until the rock moved a little and there was just enough space for him to squeeze through. Imagine his surprise when he found himself in a thick jungle with strange birds flying around.

"Oh!" thought Salman, very, very surprised, " That bird, as big as a crow, has claws on its wings! It's tail is like a fan! and it has teeth! Why, it looks just like an Archaeopteryx." He had seen pictures of the Archaeopteryx in his books. Then he saw another strange looking bird,

"That one with a long tail seems to be a Pterodactyl!" He rubbed his eyes, he was quite sure he must be dreaming, but when he looked again, the strange looking birds were still flying around, and they still looked just like the pictures he had seen in his book about dinosaurs.

Salman saw a large feather lying on the ground next to his feet and he picked it up, thinking, "It must have fallen off the Pterodactyl's tail."

"This is a very strange place, I must show it to Ahmad and Ali. They will never believe me if I tell them about it," thought Salman.

He was just about to turn back, when he heard a sound. Looking up he saw a Triceratops staring at him. Salman was quite scared and wanted to run, but the Triceratops did not seem to be in a bad mood, so he stood there, staring back at it.

"Hello!" he heard someone say.

Salman looked around but there was nobody there except the Triceratops and he.

"Hello there, I am speaking to you. Who are you? You look very, very strange!"

Salman did not like to be told that he looked strange.

"I am not strange, I am Salman. You are strange, you have three horns on your face!" said Salman angrily.

"Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!" The Triceratops threw up its head and laughed, "Of course I have three horns on my face, I am a Triceratops. You see, that means `three horns'!"

"Are you a real Triceratops or have you dressed up to look like one?" asked Salman.

"Are you the cousin of a Brontosaurus or a Diplodocus?" asked the Triceratops.

"Of course I am not their cousin, I am a boy!" said Salman.

"Then why are you asking such stupid questions? The only clumsy, stupid people I have met are either a Diplodocus or a Brontosaurus. They have long necks and big bodies but their brains are very small, and they always ask stupid questions."

"But.... but.... Triceratops and all the other dinosaurs died millions of years ago!" said Salman.

"Oh no, I am not dead. In fact I am quite hungry!" said the Triceratops. Salman was now really afraid, and said in a trembling voice,

"Please don't eat me."

"I only eat plants, silly. I am not a Tyrannasaurus or an Allosaurus. They are the ones that kill anything they see, and are always hungry. I don't like meat, I am a vegetarian. I told you, I am a Triceratops. Look at my three horns." said the Triceratops shaking its head. "Come on climb ont o my back and I will show you where to find the juiciest and most tasty plants."

Salman was so happy to make friends with a real Triceratops, that he forgot all about his brothers and his parents. He climbed on to the back of the Triceratops and held on to it's top horn.

The Triceratops trotted off, and soon reached a lake with lots of plants growing around it. The Triceratops started chewing the tops of the plant, rolling eyes his in enjoyment.

Salman slid off the back of the Triceratops and went towards the lake, nobody had told him that there was such a large lake in Nathiagali. He took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his trousers and started walking into the water which felt nice and cool.

"No, no, don't. Quick get away from the water. A Pleisiosaur or an Ichthyosaur will get you!"

Salman jumped back. "What's that?" He asked.

"An Ichthyosaur lives in the water. It has eyes bigger than your head. It only eats fish, but your skin is so smooth and soft that it might think you are a fish!" said his friend the Triceratops.

"And what is a Pleisiosaur?" said Salman, as he had never heard the name before.

"Where have you lived all this time?" said the Triceratops shaking his head in surprise. "How is it possible that you have not seen a Pleisiosaur? It is about 50 feet long. It has a long neck and a long head. Its sharp teeth can tear your leg off before you know it is there!"

"I think I better go home," said Salman. "There are too many dangerous things here. They may tear me to bits and my family will never know!"

The Triceratops looked so sad to see Salman go, that Salman invited him to come home with him.

"Oh yes, I would like that very much!" said the Triceratops, and his horns on his nose wriggled as he smiled.

Salman and his friend the Triceratops were going back to where they had first met, when they saw a huge Tyrannosaurus. It was about 20 feet tall, standing on it's large hind legs. The Tyrannosaurus stretched out to catch them, but it's front arms were very short and could not reach them. It had a huge head and when it opened it's mouth and roared, Salman saw it's long, sharp teeth. The Tyrannosaurus' toes were like claws and it swished it's big, heavy tail from side to side. Now Salman was really very, very scared.

Thump! Thump! Thump! The Tyrannosaurus was coming nearer and nearer, and the earth shook as it walked.

"Quick get behind that tree." said the Triceratops as it put it's head down and charged at the Tyrannosaurus. The Tyrannosaurus tried to bite the Triceratops on the neck, but the bony plate around the Triceratops' neck protected his friend. The Triceratops' horns hit the Tyrannosaurus in the belly, and the Tyrannosaurus fell back. Before the Tyrannosaurus could get it's breath back, the Triceratops charged at it again and again.

Bang! Crash! the Tyrannosaurus fell back, roaring loudly.

"Quick, lets get away before he gets his breath back," said the Triceratops to Salman.

They ran towards the mouth of the passage, but the Triceratops was too big and got stuck half-way. Salman pushed and pulled at him, but the Triceratops couldn't go any further. Salman patted his new friend and said,

"You are too big. You can't come with me. Run and save yourself now. I will come again."

"Come soon," said the Triceratops, "and bring your family. I will give them many juicy plants to eat. I will take you to my house so that you can meet my family, too."

"Yes, yes," said Salman, "But you must go now. See the Tyrannosaurus is getting up."

"Good-bye, Salman. Good-bye," said the Triceratops waving his head up and down. Salman was quite sad to leave his friend, but was glad to get away from the Tyrannosaurus. Salman ran down the passage in the cave and heard his mother calling,

"Salman, Salman, where have you been! We have been looking for you all day."

Salman's mother was standing over him, shaking him, while he lay on a pile of dry leaves.

"Oh mother, a Triceratops became my friend, and took me to a place where he says the sweetest, juiciest plants grow...and .... and .."

"I have told you so many times not to wander off on your own. We have been so worried about you. Now get up and let us go. Your brothers and your father are still looking for you."

"I will show you where my friend the Triceratops lives" said Salman as he jumped up.

"It was only a dream, Salman," said his mother. "How often do I have to tell you that there are no Triceratops alive now a days?"

Everyone was very angry with Salman for getting lost and spoiling the picnic so Salman went home quietly.

The next day, Salman found the Pterodactyl feather in his pocket,

"Look! look at this feather!" said Salman excitedly.

"Very pretty," said his mother. "Eat your breakfast, before it gets cold."

"But mother, you don't understand! It is a feather from a Pterodactyl!"

"Salman, stop dreaming!" Was all his mother had to say.

No one would believe him. They all thought he had been dreaming.

The next day they were returning home, to Lahore. Salman promised himself that, one day he would return to Nathiagali and find the cave and his friend the Triceratops.

He did return many years later; but that is another story for another time!

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