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the dragon.

From The suns babies by Edith Howes.
Age Rating 2 to 4.

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He was not a pretty fellow by any means when he lived in the water. Indeed, the mosquito babies thought him the ugliest and fiercest-looking creature in the world; but as he ate them up whenever he could catch them their bad opinion of him was hardly to be wondered at. They all lived in the pool. The mosquito babies felt that it would have been a happy life if it had not been for the Dragon. He would lie so still and grey in the water that they would think he was only a stick, but as they came near his horrid mask would open, and out would shoot his cruel jaws; they would be swallowed before they had time to think any more. What an appetite he had! It seemed as if all the mosquito babies in the pool would never satisfy him. But one day his appetite failed. "I feel very queer," he said. "I will go up into the air." He crawled slowly up a reed and hung on to it above the water, and there he seemed to sleep for days and weeks, neither moving nor eating. The mosquito babies could have a good time now--if there were any left. As he hung there his skin grew strangely hard and dry and shrunken, as if it were becoming a lifeless case. And that is just what was happening. Inside it the Dragon was growing into something quite different from what he had been. One morning he stirred. "How close and dark it is in here!" he said. "I must go out." He put his head against the end of the case and pushed hard. Crack! went the dry skin, and out popped his head. "This is tiring work," he said; he stopped to rest and to grow used to the strong light. Soon he began again. He pushed and pushed till the opening grew wide enough for his body; then he crawled slowly out and stood on top of his old skin. He felt strange and damp and chilly at first, but the sun was delightfully warm, so he stood still, to be dried and comforted. "How changed I am!" he thought. Indeed, the change was wonderful. The flabby grey body and the ugly mask and claws were gone. In their places he had a long, slender body barred with black and gold, a shapely head with two big bronze-green eyes and delicate feelers, and six supple finely-jointed legs. And he had wings! Yes, four beautiful, beautiful wings. He raised them one by one to dry them. He quivered with joy as he looked at their delicate lacework and lovely colours. "How fine they are! And how glorious it will be to fly!" he thought. Soon he was dried and warmed. He spread his glittering wings, rose into the air, and sailed away to play with his cousins and catch moths--a Pool Dragon no longer, but a shining Dragon-fly.

       



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