Tiger Tales #71 - The Orphan Dragon

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"The Orphan Dragon"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Hungry Tiger of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 9, 1918.

Once upon a time there was a poor little orphan dragon. A terrible earthquake had separated him from his father and mother and granddaddy dragons, and he couldn't find any one to love him. You see, his looks were against him.

No matter how pleasant and kindly he felt he couldn't keep the fire out of his eye or the smoke out of his mouth, and no one would stop long enough to learn what he said for fear of being scorched.

Now, as it happened, he was one of those rare, few and far between sort of dragons who really didn't care about eating people or things; indeed, he took nothing stronger than tea and crackers. So you can imagine how it hurt his feelings to have every one run away from him.

One day he met a lion. "Surely," thought the poor dragon, "this kingly beast will listen to me and not run away." But no sooner did the lion catch sight of the dragon than up goes his tail and his heels and off he plunges like any scared rabbit.

Another time he came upon a herd of elephants in the jungle. Concealing himself in some tall bushes, he talked with them for a long time, and they not only expressed pleasure at his conversation, but promised to give him a home with them if he proved to be as desirable as he seemed.

The dragon took heart a bit at this, and pleading with them not to be alarmed at his fierceness of expression, backed slowly out of the bushes.

The elephants looked curiously at his glittering back and tail, but - when - when his head appeared they threw their trunks into the air and, snorting with rage and terror, stampeded off like a hurricane or a Kansas cyclone.

The orphan dragon was discouraged. Two tears sizzled down his nose, and he was ready to give up the struggle and die of loneliness on the spot. But he had, unfortunately, a strong constitution, and after waiting an hour or so for death to overtake him with no results, he started off once more in search of a family.

For forty days and nights he traveled in a straight line, meeting everywhere with terror and aversion. The forty-first night brought him far to the north in the country of the Eskimo.

Almost exhausted, he was crawling along over the snow when he came upon a small black bundle. It was a little boy overcome with cold and fast freezing to death. With a sigh of resignation the dragon breathed upon the little fellow till he began to show signs of reviving. He almost regretted having to waken him, "for as soon as he sees me he will run away!" thought the lonely creature. Nevertheless, he persisted till the little boy opened his eyes.

Wondering where the grateful warmth was coming from, the boy looked straight into the dragon's eyes, and though they shone like fire and though smoke poured out of his mouth, he didn't scream or jump. "If he had been going to eat me up he would have done it long ago," reasoned the little brown Eskimo; and as he hasn't I guess he won't. Hello, there!" he said aloud, and although it was in Eskimo, the dragon understood and wagged his tail with delight. They were friends straightaway.

And when the two reached the little boy's snowhouse, the mother and father were charmed with this new pet.

"It will be so handy to light the fire!" said the wife to her husband.

" 'Twill keep the hut warm and cozy!" chuckled the husband. And, come to think of it, a dragon would be mighty convenient in the North Pole. No wonder they adopted him and that he lived happily ever after. Oh, well!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 28, 1918.

The Puzzle Corner

Mr. G. Ography tells some more about his travels before the war. The Forgetful Poet has written them into rhymes and says that you are to fill in the blanks with the money Mr. Geography spent in the course of his journeyings.

In Holland, where the waterways
And wind mills are so foreign,
I bought some bulbs and cheese and squandered
Many a shiny ------?

The man who travels Hindustan
Full many a wonder sees,
And in the process pays his way
In Indian -------?

In London town I settled down
Ere I resumed my rounds,
And paid my bill with right good will
In honest English -------?

The answers to last week's puzzles were: Japan and yen; France, sou and francs, and lira.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2007 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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