Rated: E · Short Story · Children's · #1568489
A brave Gnome outwits a Dragon and earns a kiss from the Queen.
|“The Dragon and the Dewdrop Jewels”|
In which Professor Proot teaches:
How the broom is mightier than the sword
The importance of having a Well-Thought-Out Plan
Another way to trick a Dragon
The Extra Special Secrets to Wealth and Success
If I were to ask if any of you have been so fortunate to receive a gift from a Faery, why, I imagine quite a few would raise a hand. You would tell me that the Tooth Faery often leaves coins beneath your pillow, and you might even flash a gappy smile as proof. This would qualify as a most special gift indeed, but as special as coins from the Tooth Faery are, they are small delights compared to others in Avalon. I wonder, for example, how many of you can say that you have received a reward from Queen Mab herself? If you could answer yes to such a question, then you would be a person of the most fortunate sort, for Mab’s gifts are as rare as they are magical.
Imagine, then, how absolutely marvelous it must be to have a birthday in Avalon, and to be lucky enough to have the Queen on your guest list. What wonders would she bring, do you suppose? In Avalon, a birthday feast is a most special occasion, because they are celebrated only once every ten years. While you may not find this agreeable, it is important to remember that Faeries live for many, many centuries, and their feasts can last years at a time. Were they to celebrate as we do, why, there would be nobody to gather dewdrops, or dance with fireflies on warm summer nights.
This would just not do.
Therefore, it came about that Oberon was celebrating his birthday, and not just any birthday, but his ten thousandth. Mab was in quite the tizzy as she flitted in dizzy circles trying to come up with a fitting gift for such a most special occasion. Imagine yourself in her tiny shoes. What would you get for the Emperor? What, do you suppose, did Mab?
If you guessed dewdrops, then you get a star and an extra serving of pudding. These, of course, were no ordinary dewdrops. Mab gathered them by the light of the Pale Moon, and hung them on a strand of spider silk. She then gave them a kiss and a whisper, before sprinkling them with Faery dust. Nothing sprinkled with Faery dust is more magical as that which has also received a kiss and a whisper from the Queen, and the dewdrops were transformed into a strand of jewels of the most magical sort. Now, I cannot divulge the magic Mab gave them, but if you happened upon these Dewdrop Jewels, why, you would have no need of Genies, or rabbits’ feet, or Fountains of Youth.
Mab was so happy with them that she hung the strand to dry in the night so that the Moon might spy where its pale light was gathered. Poor, naive Mab; her Dewdrop Jewels shone and sparkled as they gathered moonlight, and soon caught the eye of a Dragon passing by. Of course, if you were to leave your jewels hanging in the moonlight, you ought to expect that a passing Dragon would assume they belonged to nobody. Dragons, as you may know, are hoarding creatures. It is not so much that they steal, but simply a matter of nature. Skunks smell, but it is quite unfair to blame the skunk for the matter, just as it is unfair to blame Dragons for their attraction to precious things. Since few things are as precious as the Dewdrop Jewels, the Dragon gave into its nature and took them while Mab slept.
Nature or not, the matter did not sit well with Mab. Claw prints in the loamy ground gave away the culprit, but none of the Faeries wanted anything to do with Dragons. Such was Mab’s distress at the loss of the Dewdrop Jewels that her wailing caught the attention of all the creatures in Avalon. Goblyns, Elves, and Dwarves all came to console the Queen.
None, however, was brave enough to travel to the Dragon’s Lair and retrieve the jewels.
None, that is, until an elderly Gnome named Gnorrin offered to help. The other creatures laughed at his folly, but Gnorrin knew, just as those of you who have read The Gnock-Gnock Gnome know, that Dragons do not eat Gnomes. Of course, Dragons do squash Gnomes beneath their gigantic feet, or toast them with unfortunate burps, but Gnorrin ignored these terrible truths.
“Gnomes are too small to carry swords,” a Goblyn said.
“I only need a broom and a bag of spice,” Gnorrin said.
Of course, everyone laughed at the notion of a Gnome and a broom against a Dragon, but Gnorrin had A Well-Thought-Out Plan, and so he set out to retrieve Mab’s jewels.
Now, for those of you who have not seen one, a Dragon’s Lair is a most untidy place. It is much like your younger brother’s bedroom in that it is a mess, and unlike your younger brother’s bedroom in that the mess is made of all manner of precious things. This is how a Dragon builds its nest. The touch of gold and precious stones is just the right lining for a nest containing a Dragon’s egg. Unfortunately, where there are eggs there are mother Dragons, and they are most jealous of their hoard. Many a Knight has met his end trying to gather riches from a Dragon’s Lair. Dragons, you see, can smell precious things. Even if the Dragon gave you permission to look at her things, if you were to slip one into your pocket, why, she would smell it as you attempted to leave and would most likely roast you where you stood.
If that is not enough to keep a person from ever taking anything without permission, then I do not know what else to say on the matter.
Of course, it is one thing to steal, and quite another to retrieve what belongs to somebody else. The Dragon, however, would never give up any of her nest, even if you told her it belonged to Queen Mab. They would simply say, “How could it belong to Her Majesty when it is sitting in my lair,” and that would be the end of it.
Dragons are like that.
Gnorrin the Gnome hatched A Well-Thought-Out Plan. He doffed his cap (even Gnomes know it is rude to wear a hat in somebody else’s home) and approached the Dragon with a most appealing offer. “Mother Dragon,” he said with the greatest of respect, “I see how tiresome it is for you to care for your lair while the egg is there. Might I tidy it for you?”
As you might imagine, an offer to clean the lair was a wonderful surprise, but the Dragon, being a Dragon, was suspicious. “Why should I allow you to clean my Lair, Mister Gnome? Will you try to steal from me? You should know that I can smell my precious things and will roast you where you stand.”
Gnorrin knew this, but because he had A Well-Thought-Out Plan, he was undeterred. “Mother Dragon, I promise you I will not steal from you that which is yours. All I ask is that you allow me to gather a bag of gold dust from your Lair as payment, and for this I will tidy the space and make it fit for a Dragon.”
Dragons, just like human mothers, despise dust, even gold dust. The walls of the Lair are covered with it, and although it is wondrous to look at, it is still dust. “We have a deal, Mister Gnome,” said the Dragon. “For a sack of gold dust, you may clean my Lair.”
Therefore, Gnorrin set about the task of cleaning while he searched for the Dewdrop Jewels. He swept his broom into every nook and crook of the chamber until he spied the jewels tucked into a pocket in the pile. He did not take them, but instead Gnorrin left the cleaning of that part of the Lair for last, and instead set to the task of tidying the rest. At first, the Dragon watched him with a careful eye, but seeing the industrious little Gnome at work, soon became quite impressed by the way he stacked and cleaned and sorted. Soon the lair was neat and tidy and everything had a place. As those of you with tired mothers know, a clean room is better than a hot cup of tea for changing a mood.
“Well, Mister Gnome, I must say I am quite impressed,” the Dragon quipped. She looked around the space and admired his work.
Seeing his chance, Gnorrin reached into his bag of spice, pulled out a handful of garlic and rosemary, and popped them into his mouth, chewing on them as quickly as he could. He then covered his beard with gold dust, before slipping the Dewdrop Jewels into the thatch of hair. When the Dragon cast her gaze again upon the Gnome, she noticed something different about him.
“What is this?” she boomed, sniffing at his beard. All she could smell, however, was the garlic and rosemary the Gnome chewed. The force of her breath, however, caused a puff of gold dust to burst from the beard and catch her in the eyes. Despite the tears this brought, she could still make out the colors of the Dewdrop Jewels. “What do you have there, Mister Gnome?”
Gnorrin, as I have said, had A Well-Thought-Out Plan, and this was part of it. “Mother Dragon,” he replied, “I was just admiring the beauty of your lair. It struck me how marvelous a place this will be for your youngling, and it brought tears to my eyes in such a torrent that they have collected in my beard. What you see is the reflection of the beauty of you lair upon my tears of joy.”
Mothers are mothers; this is always true. Next to having a house cleaned by somebody other than herself, nothing brings joy to a mother’s heart quite the way praise of her home does. “Why, Mister Gnome, what a wonderful thing to say. You have quite earned your sack of gold dust, I think, and one more too.”
The Dragon stretched up to the top of the cavern where she pulled a large pouch from a ledge and dropped it at his feet. Gnorrin took the extra bag and headed home. Before he exited the cave, the Dragon called out “um, Mister Gnome, if you find yourself in need of more gold dust there will always be plenty to be earned here.”
This is how it was that Gnorrin recovered the Queen’s Dewdrop Jewels. Mab, of course, was thrilled and rewarded him with a kiss and a kind word, which, as those of you who have received such things know, are gifts on which you cannot hang a price.
This is also how Gnorrin became the wealthiest Gnome in Avalon: returning to the Dragon’s Lair each month to tidy for her and gather sacks of gold dust. The Extra Special Secret to Wealth is, as any Gnome knows, to do the one thing nobody else wants to do. As for The Extra Special Secret to Success?
Well, that is simply learning how to keep mothers happy.