How did Elizabeth befriend fairy dragon April? Certainly not the way she expected.
Starting next week ‘A Dragon for Elizabeth‘ is moving to Tuesdays ’cause I’ve got a special surprise in story on Thursdays…guest what it might be?
The eggs spent the night in her room. With no proper nesting box, it was as good a place as any, according to Papa. That it gave her a little more time to spend with them was probably best not mentioned.
He assured her that the eggs did not need to be kept any warmer than her room, else she might have tucked them into her bed with her. He probably knew that. Still, she wrapped the nest in her apron and moved her writing desk a little closer to the fireplace. No sense in taking any chances. Her little guests should be as comfortable as she could make them.
She fell asleep staring at the wrapped nest and slept more soundly that she had in a very long time. Could the little egg bound dragons have been singing her to sleep, thanking her for a warm safe place to weather the evening’s storm? Papa would declare her fanciful and silly, but it was definitely possible. At the very least, it would not hurt to record it in her commonplace book. It was the sort of thing one wished to remember.
After breakfast, Papa called her to his office and asked she bring her ‘bundle’ with her. What would Mama think to know they had dragon eggs in the house? Probably best not to find out, though even if she told Mama directly, Mama would probably laugh at her, pat her on the head and scold Papa for encouraging too much imagination in her. That was what Mama always said when the subject of dragons came up. Not that it did very often, but perhaps a little more often than it might in a non-dragon keeping household.
What would it be like to be in a place where one could freely discuss dragons and all things related to them? She had never been in such a place, but surely they must exist, mustn’t they?
A low fire glowed in the fireplace of Papa’s study warming the room just a mite. Sometimes he did that because his joints hurt, but today, it seemed it was more for the eggs given that he had cleared a wider than usual path through the chaos as well as space for a wooden box near the hearth filled with hay.
For being such a very particular man, Papa’s study was a picture of refined disorder. Piles dominated every possible surface. His imposing oak desk held stacks of correspondence, journals he was reading and ones he was writing in. Somewhere the ledgers for the household must be hiding, but they were probably near the bottom of a pile given the way Mama complained about his tending to the estate duties. The chess table near the window held several mahogany dragons carved in precise detail. He once said they were exact models of an amphithere and a lindwurm. They were among his most treasured possessions.
An heirloom dragon perch that resembled a dining room chair without a seat stood in the midst of a pair of comfortable chairs. Uncle Gardiner’s friend, his cockatrice Rustle would perch there when he visited. How odd that Mama’s brother could hear dragons but she could not. Last time he had visited he had asked Papa’s advice about becoming betrothed to a woman who could not hear dragons—Papa had forgotten she was in the room writing letters for him when that conversation took place. How strenuously he had warned her not to say anything of the discussion to anyone, especially Mama.
The floor, as usual was strewn with towers of books nearly as high as her waist. He often mutters that he really needed to get them all back on the shelves, but it did not take a grown man to see that there was no possible way all his books would fit on the study shelves. He would need at least another room of shelves to accomplish that. She wove her way around them, into the room.
He locked the door behind them, not that anyone was really likely to disturb them. No one liked to bother Papa when he was ensconced in his book room, for good reason.
“Take the eggs to the nesting box, there.” He pointed toward the hearth with his chin and shambled behind her.
The rough wooden box had been fashioned of weathered, gray boards that had clearly seen some past use outside. The box came half-way up her shins and had been sanded more or less smooth. The sides were a bit uneven—most likely something one of the grooms had cobbled together, not the work of a carpenter. But that was not something little dragons would notice or care about. Clean, sweet smelling hay filled the interior about two third of the way to the top. Propped up against the hearth was what must be a lid for the box and a small coil of rope to tie it on with.
Was it wrong to be just a little sad to know that they little dragons were going away and she would not get to see them after they hatched? Probably, but those thoughts needed to be kept to herself. Especially since they were going to a place with Friends who would keep them safe from the abundant dangers to fairy dragons.
“Put the whole nest in the center of the hay. Dig out a little well for it first and lay them gently inside.” Papa gestured with his hands.
She unwrapped her apron and nestled her burden into the box. If she closed her eyes she could just barely hear soft, sweet cheeping. She yawned.
“That is how you know for certain these are fairy dragon eggs my dear. Tatzelwurm eggs look very similar, but their eggs are laid in burrows, not in trees, and the eggs, well they sort of purr–that is the best description of the sound—whilst these will set you to sleeping early as quickly as full grown fairy dragons.”
That was something she would need to write down in her commonplace book.
Papa hunkered down beside her and removed the largest egg from the nest. He held it up in the sunlight, turned it around in his hands, and tapped on the shell. “They are not far from hatching. A se’nnight, maybe ten days at the most. You can tell by the sound they make and the condition of the shell. Come, look.”
She pressed in close, her shoulder touching his. He smelt like herbal liniment and that reddish tea he drank—was it willow bark.
“You see how it feels like tough shoe leather, but just a bit malleable? As it gets closer to hatching, it becomes more like a supple boot rather than the hard sole. And you can feel the chick inside tapping back against your finger. When you can feel the sharp tip of the beak, then it is a day or so day away.”
“You are not quite there, are you yet?” She whispered to the egg in her hands.
“Did you know, several tomes of Dragon Lore say that it is good to speak to eggs before they hatch, that is assists the chicks in imprinting, since they already know the sound of human voices?” He smiled that rare approving smile that made her feel all warm and furry inside.
“Might that be my job then while we wait for them to hatch?”
He smiled as though he had intended for her to ask just that. “I have another job for you. Perhaps you might talk to them when you are finished with what else I need from you.”
She clasped her hands tightly and tried not to fidget—he always warned her not to do that. “What may I do?”
“I know of several Blue Order families within a day’s journey from Longbourn who might be in want of a dragon friend for the ladies of the household.”
“Few consider fairy dragons a manly companion, so usually they are relegated to the ladies.”
Elizabeth chewed her lip to contain her questions before Papa became cross.
“I will dictate the first letter to you. After that you can copy it over several times substituting in the proper names and details to each. I must get those out in today’s post. There is no time to waste in finding proper homes for these eggs.” He reached behind him to push off a chair to help him rise. His knees were probably bothering him again.
“What will happen if we cannot?” She held her breath.
Papa sighed. “We will take them out to the barn and let them hatch there, with us in attendance of course. It does not hurt to have them properly imprinted upon humans, but there is no need to have them living in the house with us. Your mother could hardly accept them.”
She nodded, still holding her breath. At least the little dragons would hatch safely. They might even choose to live in the barn and help keep down some of the flies that lived there. She might even visit them occasionally that way.
Still though, it would have been much nicer if they could have lived in the house.
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