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Kind little Edmund.
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.
Start of Story
When he opened his eyes again there was no town--only a bare place where
it had stood, and the dragon licking her lips and curling herself up to
go to sleep, just as Kitty does when she has quite finished with a
mouse. Edmund gasped once or twice, and then ran into the cave to tell
"Well," said the cockatrice thoughtfully, when the tale had been told.
"I don't think you quite understand," said Edmund gently. "The dragon
has swallowed up the town."
"Does it matter?" said the cockatrice.
"But I live there," said Edmund blankly.
"Never mind," said the cockatrice, turning over in the pool of fire to
warm its other side, which was chilly, because Edmund had, as usual,
forgotten to close the cave door. "You can live here with me."
"I'm afraid I haven't made my meaning clear," said Edmund patiently.
"You see, my granny is in the town, and I can't bear to lose my granny
"I don't know what a granny may be," said the cockatrice, who seemed to
be growing weary of the subject, "but if it's a possession to which you
attach any importance----"
"Of course it is," said Edmund, losing patience at last. "Oh--do help
me. What can I do?"
"If I were you," said his friend, stretching itself out in the pool of
flame so that the waves covered him up to his chin, "I should find the
drakling and bring it here."
"But why?" said Edmund. He had gotten into the habit of asking why at
school, and the master had always found it trying. As for the
cockatrice, he was not going to stand that sort of thing for a moment.
"Oh, don't talk to me!" he said, splashing angrily in the flames. "I
give you advice; take it or leave it--I shan't bother about you anymore.
If you bring the drakling here to me, I'll tell you what to do next. If
And the cockatrice drew the fire up close around his shoulders, tucked
himself up in it, and went to sleep.
Now this was exactly the right way to manage Edmund, only no one had
ever thought of trying to do it before.
He stood for a moment looking at the cockatrice; the cockatrice looked
at Edmund out of the corner of his eye and began to snore very loudly,
and Edmund understood, once and for all, that the cockatrice wasn't
going to put up with any nonsense. He respected the cockatrice very much
from that moment, and set off at once to do exactly as he was told--for
perhaps the first time in his life.
Though he had played truant so often, he knew one or two things that
perhaps you don't know, though you have always been so good and gone to
school regularly. For instance, he knew that a drakling is a dragon's
baby, and he felt sure that what he had to do was to find the third of
the three noises that people used to hear coming from the mountains. Of
course, the clucking had been the cockatrice, and the big noise like a
large gentleman asleep after dinner had been the big dragon. So the
smaller rumbling must have been the drakling.
He plunged boldly into the caves and searched and wandered and wandered
and searched, and at last he came to a third door in the mountain, and
on it was written THE BABY IS ASLEEP. Just before the door stood fifty
pairs of copper shoes, and no one could have looked at them for a moment
without seeing what sort of feet they were made for, for each shoe had
five holes in it for the drakling's five claws. And there were fifty
pairs because the drakling took after his mother, and had a hundred
feet--no more and no less. He was the kind called _Draco centipedis_ in
the learned books.
Edmund was a good deal frightened, but he remembered the grim expression
of the cockatrice's eye, and the fixed determination of his snore still
rang in his ears, in spite of the snoring of the drakling, which was, in
itself, considerable. He screwed up his courage, flung the door open,
and called out: "Hello, you drakling. Get out of bed this minute."
The drakling stopped snoring and said sleepily: "It ain't time yet."
"Your mother says you are to, anyhow; and look sharp about it, what's
more," said Edmund, gaining courage from the fact that the drakling had
not yet eaten him.
The drakling sighed, and Edmund could hear it getting out of bed. The
next moment it began to come out of its room and to put on its shoes. It
was not nearly so big as its mother; only about the size of a Baptist
"Hurry up," said Edmund, as it fumbled clumsily with the seventeenth
"Mother said I was never to go out without my shoes," said the
drakling; so Edmund had to help it to put them on. It took some time,
and was not a comfortable occupation.
At last the drakling said it was ready, and Edmund, who had forgotten to
be frightened, said, "Come on then," and they went back to the
The cave was rather narrow for the drakling, but it made itself thin, as
you may see a fat worm do when it wants to get through a narrow crack in
a piece of hard earth.
"Here it is," said Edmund, and the cockatrice woke up at once and asked
the drakling very politely to sit down and wait. "Your mother will be
here presently," said the cockatrice, stirring up its fire.
The drakling sat down and waited, but it watched the fire with hungry
"I beg your pardon," it said at last, "but I am always accustomed to
having a little basin of fire as soon as I get up, and I feel rather
faint. Might I?"
It reached out a claw toward the cockatrice's basin.
"Certainly not," said the cockatrice sharply. "Where were you brought
up? Did they never teach you that 'we must not ask for all we see'? Eh?"
"I beg your pardon," said the drakling humbly, "but I am really _very_
The cockatrice beckoned Edmund to the side of the basin and whispered in
his ear so long and so earnestly that one side of the dear boy's hair
was quite burnt off. And he never once interrupted the cockatrice to ask
why. But when the whispering was over, Edmund--whose heart, as I may
have mentioned, was very tender--said to the drakling: "If you are
really hungry, poor thing, I can show you where there is plenty of
fire." And off he went through the caves, and the drakling followed.
When Edmund came to the proper place he stopped.
There was a round iron thing in the floor, like the ones the men shoot
the coals down into your cellar, only much larger. Edmund heaved it up
by a hook that stuck out at one side, and a rush of hot air came up
that nearly choked him. But the drakling came close and looked down with
one eye and sniffed, and said: "That smells good, eh?"