WHY THE DRAGONS DISAPPEARED

WHY THE DRAGONS DISAPPEARED

There was once, a very long time ago, a dragon that came to live in the town of Utrecht. Where he came from nobody knew. One day there wasn’t, and the next day there was a dragon in Utrecht.

According to legends dragons come from eggs. But not dragon eggs! When a hen lays an egg without a yolk, and a turtle hatches it, then magically a dragon is born.

Oh, a terrible creature is the dragon. It has a poisonous poky spine. It’s eyes shoot forth flames. One look into those dreadful eyes: you fall down dead.

Now in this town of Utrecht there lived Art the cheese-maker. He also ran a  restaurant — a crowded, noisy place. The doors were always open; all were welcome.

One evening the crowd was large. Patrons milled around, calling to the servers.

“More malt, Peiter,” called one.

A hungry patron saw Jan going towards the kitchen. “Hurry back with the fish Jan,” he said.

Art looked around. Where was Peiter?

“Jan, go see what is keeping Peiter,” he said.

Jan crept down the stairs to the cheese-cellar.

“Peiter, Peiter,” he called. “We are waiting. Hurry up.”

The further down he went the more intense the heat grew. A strange, hissing sound floated upwards.

“Oh, oh.” Jan scrambled up again as fast as he could.

“Minjheer,” he gasped. “Help.”

A crowd gathered around.

“What is it Jan? Where is Peiter?” asked Art.

“A…a…a…dragon,” stuttered Jan. “There is a dragon in the cellar.”

“Can’t be,” shouted Agnes from the crowd. “Dragons live in the forests and hills. Maybe they hide in the tulip fields, but they wouldn’t come into the city.”

But people started heading out the door all the same.

“Oh, woe is me,” moaned Art. “I cannot go down to my own cellar. I am ruined.”

“No minjheer,” said a young man. “You could let it be known that even dragons like your brew.”

“That Geert,” said Agnes, shaking her head. “Making fun of everything.”

“Young man, be more fearful,” quivered an old, old man. “This is a dragon we are talking about. Our lives are in danger now. Who will get rid of it?”

“I will,” said Geert.

“You?” asked Art.

“I will,” Geert repeated firmly.

“You are too young to know what you are talking about,” said the old man. “To fight a dragon unarmed…” words failed him.

“I can but try minjheers and mervous. May I be allowed to go fetch my weapons?” asked Geert.

When the people saw he was serious they let him go. He was back soon. A wooden board hung around his neck.

“No,” said Art. “I cannot allow you to enter the cellar with just a wooden board for a weapon.”

Geert took off his scarf and tore in in two.

“Then tie this over your eyes so you don’t see me go,” he said.

He tied the other half around his own eyes.

“There,” he said. “My eyes are covered, so I will not, even accidentally, look into the dragon’s eyes. Can someone please lead me to the stairs?”

Agnes stepped forward.

“Come,” she said, leading Geert to the cellar door. “Hold on to the bannisters, and go carefully. Good luck.”

Slowly Geert made his way down. Tap, tap, tap. The dragon heard the sound. He shot out a flame.

“Heat,” muttered Geert. “I must be getting close to the dragon.”

The flames grew fiercer. The dragon turned from side to side searching, searching. Geert felt the dragon’s breath on his face. Just what he had been waiting for. He whipped his board around. The other side was a mirror.

“Aargh,” the dragon gasped. The mirror reflected his flame-shooting eyes back to him. He hurried up the stairs. The dragon ran through the crowd like a warm knife cutting through frozen butter.

Out the door he raced, and flew into the sky. Soon he was a tiny speck on the horizon. And then he was gone.

Word went round the dragon community of this new danger. that threatened. Fleeing in ones and twos, and then in the hundreds the dragons disappeared.

And that is why there are no dragons on earth today.

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