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JESSICA DRAGONETTE'S FIERY BREATH,
a fable for little girls who love their daddies
by Mary M. Leue
 
High on a mountainside lived a dragon family - father, mother, and daughter Jessica. They had a happy life together, day after day. While Jessica and her mother stayed at home and kept house in their mountain cave, their father flew far and wide over the green countryside on his brazen wings, scorching the earth and everything upon it with his fiery breath, making great blackened trails as he went. Oh, what a sight it was for the two dragonettes, gazing upward into the heavens as he flew overhead every morning, belching flame and smoke from his great, flaring nostrils - just for them! - and roaring his great dragon roar, that made a long jet of fire stream forward from his mouth as he flew, the sun glancing off his broad, bronzy wings in flashes of light so dazzling it hurt their eyes! Then off he would fly in search of new countrysides to ravish and burn with his fiery dragon breath.
 
Then Jessica's mother would say to her, "Come, Jessica. You clear off the breakfast table and wash the dishes while I sweep the cave floor." Jessica would sigh, her heart full of the glory of her father's great form soaring overhead, turn away obediently and follow her mother into the cave.
 
When the work around the cave was done, she would go outside and walk out on the path that led up the mountain until she came to her favorite spot, a grassy, flower-dotted meadow that looked out for miles and miles over the green fields and forests of the countryside below, as far as the eye could see. She would sit there among the flowers, dreamily gazing off into the distance, searching out with her liquid dragon eyes the lines where blackened heath met green growth, following the patches of scorch upward into the sky, searching for evidence of her awesome father's presence; a wisp of smoke - straining her ears for the faintest echo of his mighty roar. And ever so often, she would sigh softly to herself, the tiniest sigh ever sighed.
 
As the evening approached and the shadows began to lengthen on the countryside below her, her eyes would brighten, for she knew it would soon be time for her father to return. Sometimes she would pick a bunch of daisies and weave them into a crown for his glittering brow. Her ears would prick upward at the slightest sound. As the sun grew red and sank toward the horizon, she would hear him coming, soundless except for the brazen, gong-like beating of his huge, metallic wings. And then, as her heart beat fast, suddenly, he would be beside her, having dropped like a stone out of the sky, a dark and mighty presence surrounded by a swirl of wispy smoke. He was home!
 
"Well, Jessica, let's go see what your mother has for supper," he would boom in his echoing voice. She would flutter her wings happily, rising to the height of his great bronze head to place her wreath upon its eminence. Then they would descend the mountain together, her father stalking ahead of her down the narrow path that led from the upland meadow to the great dark cave that was their home. There her mother would have a steaming hot meal already waiting on the table, and they would all eat in silence. Their father wasn't much for conversation. And so each day would come to a close, a happy little dragon family. Jessica loved her parents dearly, and they loved her very much.
 
One day, as Jessica followed her mother back into the cave after watching their father roar off into the distance in a trail of flame and smoke, she spoke out loud a question that had been silently forming in her mind for weeks. "Mother," she asked softly, "Can girl dragons breathe fire?" Her mother stopped in her tracks in front of her and stood there for a moment without a sound. Then she walked over to the table and began piling up dishes, answering in an elaborately casual voice, "Why do you want to know, Jessica?" Jessica watched her working, aware that somehow she had asked something she oughtn't to have. "Oh, I just wondered," she answered timidly. Her mother glanced at her, then moved toward the back of the cave, her claws full of piled-up dishes. Her back toward her daughter, she spoke quietly. "Yes, dear, dragonettes can breathe fire. Of course they can. But no well brought-up dragonette would do such a thing. That is for dragons!" She looked round at Jessica almost reproachfully. Jessica spoke hastily, "Oh, I know that! I just wondered if we could! I mean, I would never do it. I just wondered..." Her voice trailed away. Her mother went on washing dishes in silence, and Jessica turned and picked up the broom, her face hot.
 
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