Written & illustrated by Diana Cooper.
Everyone has a dragon who can be your best friend but not many people know this.
One beautiful day Mei Lan and Tara were playing with their dragons in the meadow behind Tara’s house. Tara’s was fiery red orange with a brown tail and blue tipped wings. His name was Duggie and he was chasing her through the field with his wings flapping while she laughed with delight.
Mei Lan was running in circles round the oak tree with her dragon, Ping Yun, who was bright blue with brown ears and a red tail.
Ash-ting, Tara’s magical talking kitten, was lying in the long grass watching, so that only his ears peeped out.
Ash-ting had a dragon too but his was a water one who looked like a sea serpent and was pale green. From a distance it heard the children playing, so he glided over the horizon to join them. He was followed by a very tiny dragon.
‘Hallo,’ called Tara rushing over to meet them followed by Duggie, Mei Lan and Ping Yun.
‘I’ve brought my nephew to meet you,’ said the pale green dragon.
They all said ‘Hi’ to him and Tara asked the big green dragon what his name was.
‘You mean like a currant bun?’ exclaimed the little girl.
‘No, that’s currant with an a. I’m Current with an e like the flow of a river,’ the smooth green creature answered patiently. Then he turned to Ash-ting and asked him, ‘Would you mind if my nephew gave you a little ride. He’s training and he has never carried any creature before. He needs to learn.’
Ash-ting eyed up the pint sized little dragon.
He looked rather weedy and immature but he glided forward with a hopeful look on his face. The kitten was kind. He meowed obligingly. ‘Of course I will.’ And he clambered onto the little fellow.
Tara asked loudly. ‘What’s your name, nephew?’
‘Drip,’ he replied.
Suddenly Tara forgot her manners. She did not remember how Ash-ting said you should never tease anyone about their name.
‘Drip!’ she guffawed. ‘Are you a bit of a drip then?’
His Uncle Current responded with firm dignity, ‘All water dragons are given watery names.’
But it was too late. Drip hated being taunted about his name. He was enraged and steam started to hiss from him.
Before Ash-ting could jump off, the little dragon rose high in the air, higher than he had ever been before. With his wings flapping hard he deposited the unfortunate kitten on the top branch of the oak tree. Then he raced away as fast as he could fly with his Uncle Current and the other two dragons in hot pursuit.
Tara stared in horror at Ash-ting perched at the top of the tree. He looked very small and far away.
Mei Lan gawped in disbelief and the fairies, elves and pixies rushed out of the oak tree and gazed up at him.
Tara wailed loudly. ‘Ash-ting, Ash-ting. Hold on. I’m sorry.’
Marigold and Silver who were very kind fairies flew up to sit beside the kitten and keep him company but he was not happy. From the ground they could hear his plaintive meow, ‘Get me down. Please get me down.’
Tara’s Mum and Dad and her brother and sister, Mel and Jack, came rushing into the meadow to see what the commotion was about.
‘Well,’ said Dad staring up at the top of the tree, ‘Who would have thought little Ash-ting could climb all the way up there?’ Tara and Mi-Li looked at each other but they could not say anything.
‘Daddy. Do something. Get him down!’ sobbed Tara. ‘He’ll fall!’
‘No he won’t,’ Mummy responded firmly. ‘He climbed up there. He can come down by himself.’
Jack, who was five, said unhelpfully, ‘Perhaps he’ll jump and be killed!’
Tara was so upset that she lifted her hand to hit her little brother but she heard Ash-ting calling to her very clearly. ‘No Tara. It’s your fault I’m up here. Fighting with Jack won’t help.’
And the little girl hung her head and dropped her hand. Truth to tell Jack was a bit disappointed. He thought Tara got too much attention and a scrap would get her into trouble. But he didn’t want really Ash-ting to get hurt.
All the neighbours came to watch Ash-ting up the tree.
‘Call the fire brigade,’ suggested Tracy’s mother.
‘Open a tin of sardines and leave it at the bottom of the tree. That always works,’ suggested Mrs. Pogg.
‘I’ve got a long ladder,’ offered Blake and Bob’s Dad from number 12.
Mei Lan’s family arrived to collect her and they joined the throng but no one seemed to be able to do anything.
It was getting dark and Mum said they had to go in. Tara pleaded with tears running down her cheeks to stay. Dad went in and phoned the fire brigade who confirmed what Mrs. Pogg had suggested. So he opened a tin of sardines and left it open at the bottom of the tree. Then they all went home.
No one could settle that night. Mel and Jack could not sleep. Mum and Dad kept looking out of the back door to see if he had come down. Tara got out of bed, opened her window and stared into the dark at the tree.
It was Tara who saw the flash of orange light first. Duggie her dragon had sent out a burst of fire and in its glow she saw Ping Yun and Current with naughty Drip in between them. Drip flew to the top branch of the oak tree and apologised to Ash-ting who graciously rode down to the ground on his back, escorted by fairies.
The kitten gobbled up the sardines then sauntered up the garden path. Tara saw him first. She raced downstairs shouting to Mum and Dad. ‘He’s back.’
Mel and Jack ran downstairs too and there was a huge welcome for the kitten.
‘I told you he could get down,’ cooed Mummy. ‘Such a clever little kitty-cat.’
When they had all stroked Ash-ting and patted him and made a great fuss of him, Mum said Tara could take him up to bed.
When she was in her bedroom, Tara looked out of the window and said crossly to Ash-ting, ’I’m never going to speak to that nasty Drip ever again.’
But Ash-ting said, ‘Look Tara. There he is and he’s coming to see you. You must say sorry to him.’
Floating between his uncle and Duggie little Drip hung his head. ‘Sorry Ash-ting and sorry Tara.’ The little girl almost felt sorry for him and she knew she had been horrid to him. So she said, ‘I’m sorry for teasing you about your name.’ She gulped and glanced at Ash-ting who was looking hard at her. She added generously. ‘It’s a lovely dragon name.’
And Drip smiled a huge smile and his Uncle Current smiled and Tara smiled too.
And the biggest smile of all was from Ash-ting who was very glad to be on the ground again and full of sardines.