A Lucky Litle Dragon
By Stine Bahrt
Alfred lay sunbathing on a cliff like small dragons do. His life was quite carefree and he was very well content. He was not yet old enough that others would expect anything from him, and He was not yet so old that expected something from him, and he had no ambition to do anything that was not expected of him. This is why he was not impressed in the slightest when the big dragons started talking about finding themselves some treasure and a princess.
Some of the little dragons spoke dreamily about how amazing it must be to be a grown dragon and to take off on great adventures.
"I don’t understand why you are so busy?" Alfred was wondering "It's great to be here in the sun without having great responsibilities to take care of"
A little dragon, Mads, got up and looked very surprised at Alfred "Duties" asked Mads "How can you call it a duty to care for beautiful treasures and princesses. Have you ever seen a diamond? You wouldn’t call it a duty then. "
Alfred grinned "Neither have you."
"Well no, but I've heard it described and I can’t wait to be grown and find my own treasure and my very own princess" said Mads dreamily. "I’m in no hurry" Alfred said "I like to lie here in the sun."
Mads shook his head as did a couple of small dragons who had heard the conversation.
Alfred just rolled over onto his back and enjoyed the sun warming his stomach, and shortly after he fell asleep. So did several of the other little dragons. Small dragons can’t stay awake for very long at a time, which is one of the most important reasons for them to wait until they are older to take on adventures.
Later, Alfred and the other little dragons were roused by a great commotion among the older dragons. He crawled over to where the big dragons and listened to their conversation.
"The King has offered a reward to the one who can find him the biggest diamond before the next full moon," said one of the oldest dragons solemnly "And guess what this reward is ......" the old dragon left the sentence pending for for the effect.
"The Princess and half the kingdom!!!!"
There was a gasp from all the old dragons and more of the young who had followed Alfred's example and listened.
"Ooohhh, why can’t I be grown” exclaimed a small dragon and several joined in.
The old dragons discovered the little listeners and shooed them back to their cliff. The little dragons went back crestfallen. Only Alfred was not dispirited.
"It'll be exciting to see who wins" he smiled "But do you really think the king intended for a dragon to win? Isn’t it usually a prince who wins the princess and half the kingdom? "
Mads shoved Alfred teasingly "Of course the king expects a prince to find the diamond. But I think he forgot to mention that dragons aren’t allowed to enter the contest .... Probably because he didn’T think we would"grinned Mads.
Now it was Alfred's turn to shake his head, yet he was a little tense. For even though was in no hurry to grow up and take on great adventures, he was after all a dragon. He just was not that old and his inner adventurer was still more fascinated by the rays of the sun than by treasure and princesses.
At night he lay on his cliff and dreamed about the day's events and how nice it was to lie in the sun. In his sleep, he turned onto his back as he had done during the day, but unfortunately he was so close to the edge that he rolled over and fell off the cliff.
He woke up mid fall terrified. He had not yet learned how to fly, but instinct took over and his wigs spread. It softened the fall a bit but he still hit his head and hurt his wing.
"Outch" he squeaked holding his head. He looked up at the side of the cliff and he felt discouragement wash over him. "Oh, it’s so far up." Darkness surrounded him and he felt a bit scared and started to crawl into a small cave that lay before him. He had seen the small cave there. It was impossible to see from the edge of the cliff because it was so small.
The entrance of the cave was just big enough for Alfred to squeeze in. His wing really hurt and he felt pretty miserable.
Then he heard noises outside the cave he’d never heard before and climbed even further. "Outch, what’s this?” he said. The floor suddenly became hard and sharp underneath him. Tears began to roll and he was getting so tired that he could barely keep his eyes open. He found a small space with a softer stone floor. Here he curled up and fell asleep.
He woke up to the most wonderful sight. The sun's rays had found their way into Alfred’s cave and were flowing like over the stone walls, but the most breathtaking view were the glittering diamond surrounding him. Their light was reflected everywhere and Alfred found himself bathed in the most precious colours. Not for a second did he doubt that they were diamonds surrounding him. His heart swelled and he suddenly understood what the big dragons were talking about. He walked around the cave and studied his treasure. "My treasure" he laughed happily "my very own". He looked at where he had slept and his eyes met a round shape sticking up amidst the diamonds. He started digging around the edges and suddenly stood with the most beautiful round diamond. It had to be the one he had slept on and that had felt nice and safe.
He had never heard of a round diamond, but there was the ever so much he did not yet know. It was a very large diamond and heavy to carry, so he put it down on the ground and began to roll it toward the entrance. He was curious to see what it looked like in the sun.
When he started walking, he could again feel the pain in his wing. He folded it close to his body so it would not bump into the walls of the cave so much. The round diamond was not quite so shiny as the edged diamonds, but it reflected the sunlight in a lovely and soft way. "Just as soft to look at as to touch" he smiled to himself.
"Hello" it suddenly sounded from above the cave. Alfred flinched and was about to crawl into the cave again. "No, please don’t go, I won’t you." The voice sounded soft and friendly, and Alfred looked up and saw a little girl sitting with her legs dangling over the edge of the entrance.
She began to climb down, and Alfred crawled back making himself as little as possible. His eyes were wide and frightened. He backed into the cliff wall behind him and jammed his wing "Ouu" he cried and began to move faster away from the girl. She ran after him.
"Wait for me" she yelled after him, "Where are we going? I can’t run so fast "
Alfred stopped. She really didn’t sound very dangerous. He turned and looked into her smiling eyes.
"Hi, my name is Mira. Who are you? "
"Alfred" he replied shily.
"Are you a dragon?"
Alfred nodded and at the same time spotted the round diamond he had left by the left by the cave when he’d run away. He walked past the girl and back to the cave and the diamond. The girl followed him.
"What shall we do now?" She asked excitedly.
He showed her the diamond "I found this" he said proudly.
"Uuhhh it is the finest biggest diamond I've ever seen," she exclaimed with great enthusiasm.
Alfred smiled "I have found many more diamonds. Do you want to see? "
The girl clapped her hands and smiled.
"But that's my treasure, it was me who found it" he said with as much assertiveness in his voice as any little dragon could master.
"Of course," the girl said seriously, but with a gentle smile in his eyes.
They were about to go back into the cave, when Alfred bumped into the wall again “ouch”.
“You keep saying ‘ouch’. Did you hurt yourself?”
"It's my wing" he replied with tears in his eyes. I fell down from way up there in the middle of the night. He pointed up.
"Oohhh, that’s a long way down. Should I take a look at your wing? "
He spread the wing so she could see. "Hmm" she said seriously.
"Is it very bad," he asked uneasily.
"No, it’s just a little torn; I think it will get better if I blow it." She began to blow and Alfred actually thought that he could feel it helpig. "But I think you have to be careful not to hit the cliffs all the time" she said, "We can play out here instead and then look at your treasure when you’re feeling better."
Alfred nodded, it seemed like a good idea.
They were playing and sunbathing outside the cave all day long. The little girl cuddled up to Alfred and they both fell asleep in the sun. They were lying right front of the cave, so Alfred could watch his treasure even while they were asleep. Hi kept the round diamond very close so it wouldn’t get lost.
This was how one of the big dragons found them when he was looking for Alfred. The little girl was the first to wake up and ran frightened into the cave to hide.
"Well, well little Alfred, what have you got there?" asked the big dragon.
Alfred looked around for Mira and saw her waving and smiling from inside the cave. He realized it was his round diamond the big dragon had his eye on and not Mira.
"Isn’t it beautiful?" Alfred asked excitedly.
"Yes, it really is. But you're much too young to go looking for treasure little Alfred" the adult dragon worried, "you could get hurt."
"I fell off the cliff and hurt my wing" Alfred cried. "I wasn’t looking for treasure at all.”
"That was a big tumble for such a small dragon. Climb on my back and I’ll take you back up again. Hold on tight to me and your diamond."
"That sounds good, I just have to do something first." The big dragon was puzzled when Alfred ran over to the cave.
"I’ll watch your treasure till you come back." the little girl whispered. "When will you learn to fly so you can come back here?"
"Probably soon ..."
"Or else I'll fly you down here" the adult dragon smiled. He had come closer to the cave to see what Alfred was doing.
Alfred said goodbye to Mira and climbed up on the big dragon’s back. The other small dragons were eager to hear all about his little adventure. Again and again he would show them the large round diamond.
"With the big diamond you’ll be able to claim the princess" said Mads and was very proud of his friend.
"But I’m not at all interested in winning the princess" Alfred laughed. "I don’t think I care about princesses." Alfred held his round diamond and was happy for his treasure.
He didn’t yet know that the little girl, who had helped and played with him all day, was in fact a princess. Here, Alfred was no different than other dragons: Princesses and beautiful diamonds are and always will be a dragon’s weakness. The only difference was that Alfred didn’t have to kidnap his princess as dragons usually do. He had become friends with his princess at such an early age, that when she grew up and became a "real" princess, their friendship was so strong that it never occurred to him to steal her, like a real dragon would.
Cover illustration: Sarah ”Galaxara” Sharf