The Dragon's Question

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The Other Dragons

The dragon had a lesson every day, and every day more people came. Soon, the people filled the meadow by the olive tree. The dragon had to start using magic to speak louder. He learned many things about humans and other subjects, and he was happy. The woman came to every lesson and helped him. Every day she asked him with a smile, "Will you eat me today?" Every day he answered, "Not today, but perhaps I will eat you tomorrow."

A few years later, a noise outside his cave woke up the dragon. He walked past some students who came to study his books and went outside. There, he saw a big red dragon waiting for him. The red dragon did not look happy. "Good morning, friend dragon," he said. "How may I help you?"

"The other dragons asked me to talk to you," the red dragon said. "They do not like you helping humans."

"Why not?" asked the dragon. "I am helping them, but they are also helping me."

"But you are giving them your knowledge," the red dragon said. "I would never give humans my gold."

The dragon shook his head. "I am not giving my knowledge. I am sharing it, and that makes it bigger. If you could have more gold by sharing it, you would do the same."

The red dragon was silent for a minute. His tail swished back and forth like an angry cat. "Dragons do not give or share," he said at last. "Dragons take." Then he saw the people in the cave. "Dragons do not let humans into their caves – they eat them! You are not being a good dragon. Eat these humans and show that you are a good dragon."

The dragon's students looked scared, but he shook his head. "Are all dragons the same?" he asked.

The red dragon looked confused. "No," he replied.

"Are we the same?" the dragon asked. "Do we like the same things, or do the same things?"

"No," the red dragon hissed like a snake. "Why are you asking these questions?"

"Because we are not the same," answered the dragon. "I am good at being me, and you are good at being you. It does not matter that we are both dragons. Perhaps that is the only way that we are the same, and it is not important."

The red dragon was silent again. "But these humans are not scared of you," he said after a moment. "If they are not scared of you, they will learn not to be scared of other dragons."

The dragon laughed. "I scare these humans every day. I tell them things that make their hair turn white and make them run home to their mothers." He thought for a minute, tapping his chin. He leaned in close and whispered to the red dragon. "I know you, too. Your favorite thing is not gold – it is the teddy bear you found when you were a baby. Am I right?"

The red dragon looked very scared. "Will you tell everyone?" he whispered back.

The dragon shook his head. "No," he whispered. "I will teach you a spell that will make you smaller. Then you can play and sleep with it."

"But it is very old," the red dragon said sadly. "I cannot touch it because it will fall apart."

"I can teach you another spell," the dragon replied. "This spell will make it strong and clean again. If I teach you these spells, will you talk to the other dragons for me?"

The red dragon nodded happily. "Yes, I will talk to them. You helped me, so I will help you."

After the red dragon learned the spells, he said goodbye and flew away. The dragon went back into his cave to take a nap. It is very hard to turn an enemy into a friend, he thought to himself as he lay down to sleep. Still, knowing so many things was clearly very helpful sometimes!

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