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The Dragon's Question

By Matthew Perrett All Rights Reserved ©

Children / Fantasy

The Big Question

Once upon a time, there was a powerful and terrible dragon.  Like all dragons, he was very greedy.  Most dragons loved gold or gems, but he loved knowledge.  He wanted to know everything and have every book!  He would find great teachers, scientists and other very smart people to teach him.  Every time he told them, "You will teach me everything you know.  If you cannot teach me anything, I will eat you."  After thousands of years, however, he was beginning to learn very little and eating very many people.  He was frustrated, but not hungry.

One day, the dragon heard about a very wise woman living in a town near his cave.  He flew to the town and found her reading under an old olive tree.  He landed in front of her with a huge crash.  "You will teach me everything you know," he said in his deep dragon voice.  "If you cannot teach me anything, I will eat you."

The woman looked up at the dragon, who was as big as the olive tree, and blinked.  "Why?" she asked.

The dragon got angry.  "Why?!" he roared.  "Because I want to know everything!"

"But why do you want to know everything?" the woman asked.

The dragon thought about this for a minute.  Everyone was scared of him, but not this woman.  No one had ever asked him a question before, and he did not know the answer.  "I will think about your questions," he said at last, "and I will come back when I have an answer."

"So, will you eat me?" the woman asked.

"Not today," said the dragon, "but perhaps I will eat you tomorrow."

The woman gave the dragon a small smile.  "I look forward to talking with you tomorrow, then."

The dragon flew away and returned to his cave.  He thought very hard about the woman's questions, but he could not find an answer.  He did not know why he wanted to know everything, only that he did.  After a week of thinking, he finally decided that learning new things made him happy.  He flew back to the town and found the woman under the olive tree again.  "I want to know everything because it makes me happy," he said.

"I thought you were going to come back the next day," she replied calmly.

"Your question was very difficult," the dragon growled.  "Now tell me everything you know."

"May I ask one more question first?" she asked.

The dragon was not sure he wanted to answer another question.  "All right," he said after thinking for a minute, "but only one question."

The woman stood up and looked into the dragon's eyes.  "What good is it to know everything if you do nothing with it?" she asked.

The dragon was very surprised.  He also did not have an answer for this question!  He walked around the olive tree three times while he thought, but he still did not know.  "This question is also very difficult," he said angrily.

"Yes, I know," replied the woman.

The dragon walked around the olive tree three more times, thinking very hard.  He was silent for a long time, then said to the woman, "I only know that I like to learn things.  I never thought about how to use what I learned."

"Maybe you could make things," she said.

The dragon shook his head.  "I have claws, not hands.  Besides, I am very big.  I know how to make many things, but most of them are very small for me."

The woman tapped her chin and thought.  "You could write a book," she said, "but you also need hands for that."  She thought a little more, then smiled.  "Or you could teach."

"Teach?!" the dragon roared.  "Why would I teach?!"

The woman held up five fingers.  "If you share your knowledge with five people, then you multiply that knowledge by five.  Am I wrong?"

The dragon thought for a moment.  "No, that sounds right."

"Also, you can learn how to be a teacher," she said.  "I think that is something you do not know."

"This is true.  But who would listen to me?" asked the dragon.  "I am a great and terrible dragon, you know."

"Come back tomorrow," the woman said.  "I will tell everyone that you want to share your knowledge.  I will bring them here, and you can teach them."

The dragon nodded happily.  "Your idea is good.  Bring many people, and I will teach them all."

"And will you eat me today?" she asked.

The dragon smiled a big, toothy smile.  "Not today.  Perhaps I will eat you tomorrow."

The woman smiled back.  "Until tomorrow, then," she replied, and waved goodbye as the dragon flew away.

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