THE FUNNY OLD DRAGON
" Oh no, I shouldn't! " said the dragon in alarm. " Couldn't you take me home with you and let me be your pet? I've a very sweet, loving nature, really."
" No, I don't think my mother would like a dragon on the rug in front of the fire," said James. " In fact, I'm sure she wouldn't. And Daddy would say you smelt."
" Smelt! " said the dragon, offended. " Do I smell? What do I smell of? "
" You smell of smoke," said James, sniffing.
" Ah, that's because I can breathe out fire and smoke just like the old dragons could in the fairy-tales! " said the dragon. " Watch! "
James watched. The dragon breathed out a lot of smoke from his nose and mouth, and a long red flame spurted out too. The dragon looked proudly at James.
" What do you think of that ? " he said. " A good trick, isn't it? "
" My goodness! " said James, " you'd be useful to Daddy when he lights bonfires! A puff of your flame and smoke and any bonfire would go well! I wish I could do that! "
" Listen, boy! " said the dragon excitedly. " Couldn't I help with people's bonfires? I could hide in a chimney in the daytime somewhere, and then my breath coming out at the top would look Uke chimney smoke óbut at night I could creep out and go all round puffing at people's bon≠fires and making them burn well. I should love that. That would be a real good piece of work for me to do! "
" Well, if I let you do that, will you teach me how to breathe out fire and smoke just like you do? " asked James longingly.
" Of course! " said the dragon. So they shook hands solemnly, and James managed to take the dragon to his house by the side-door, get him into the study, and stuff him up the chimney without anyone seeing.
The dragon was long, but not fat, so he was quite all right in the chimney. His breath shot out at the top, and no one thought it was any≠thing else but ordinary chimney smoke.
That night James gave him a tug and he slid neatly down and slipped out into the garden. He went to the bonfire that James's Daddy had tried to light. There had been a shower of rain and the bonfire was almost out.
" Puff! Fffffffff! Puff!" went the dragon busily, blowing out smoke