“I’m not so sure if I’m happy with this present.” The princess looked puzzled. “What on earth do you do with a dragon’s egg? Hatch it? Cook it? Hide it in the woods and hope that its mother won’t find you?” She looked half amused, half scared at the green egg that lay before her on the golden table. Puffs of steam evaporated from it, even though there’s was not a single crack in the shell. “Who gave it to you anyway?” asked the toad sitting next to her. Your godmother? He eyed the egg suspiciously. It was big. Too big, he thought. An egg with pretensions.
That night, when everybody was asleep, he visited the egg. He knocked on it’s shell. In a low voice he hummed “Knock knock, who’s there”, curious if he would get an answer. The egg kept silent. He rolled it from left to right, rolled it backwards and forwards, but nothing happened. Then he rubbed it, remembering the story of Aladdin and the wonder lamp.
Suddenly, black puffs of smoke billowed from the egg. They formed words, before they slowly faded away. “What do you want”, the black clouds spelled. A pretentious little bugger indeed, thought the toad. “Can’t you just talk?” he asked. I’m not a keen reader, it hurts my eyes.” A sigh came from the egg. “You’re no fun to play with, is there somebody else around?” The voice was small but demanding. The toad hid his irritation and just asked “Why are you here? What do you want of my princess?”
The egg shivered. “I’m here to protect your princess” it answered with an important voice. “She will grow up big and beautiful, and that will attract dangers”. The toad could barely hide his irritation. “What kind of dangers?”, he inquired. The answer came in a small and worried voice. “She will be asked to show herself to the world, naked.” the egg said. “People will want her to take care of them. They will demand comfort. They will ask of her to be their haven. They will want to eat her food and drink her drinks. They will ask her to share what she’s got, and more. They will…” The toad interrupted. “Yeah, right, of course”, he said, “that’s very scary. What are you going to do about it?”
The egg returned to it’s voice of importance. “I will be her friend when she’s growing up. I’ll teach her and take care of her. I’ll make sure that she doesn’t believe what people tell her.” “Believe what?” the toad asked, but the egg ignored his question. “When she’s grown up, she can stay big because she’ll believe she’s small. She can stay beautiful because she’ll believe she’s ugly. She won’t share, because she’ll think she has nothing to offer. She’ll be looking for comfort, because she won’t know she can give it.”
The toad mastered an expression of awe on his face. “So without you she wouldn’t survive” he said. “I’d better take good care of you then, so you can help my princess. An egg is a fragile thing, and she needs you to be big and strong. What do you need to grow up?”
“Please feed me lies”, the egg said. “The more lies I hear, the stronger I will become. And feed me fears”, he added. “With each fear I’ll grow bigger and more powerful. And if you can, feed me some false impressions. They will sharpen my fangs.” The toad nodded. “First thing tomorrow morning, I’ll wrap you in a blanket and bring you to the fool’s house. The fool will take very good care of you.”
And with the king’s fool, the egg stayed. Each day, the fool told the egg the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He cuddled the egg, stroke it, and loved it with all his heart. They slept in the same bed, and the fool sang beautiful love songs for it. He put the egg in front of a crystal mirror each day. It never hatched.
The princess grew up big and beautiful. She shared all she had with the world, and became nothing but richer from it. She found comfort in comforting others. Her nakedness was her haven.
When she became queen, the toad painted a picture of her as the fool. And the fool told the egg it looked great.
The illustration was painted by the fabulous Jen Smith, especially for this story. Jen creates beautiful silverware, and I really like her dragons. You can find her work here.
A wonderful version of this story has been recorded. I totally recommend listening to it, because it’s a completely different experience form reading. Graeme Sandford excuses himself for it being ‘just a demo’. I can’t say I agree with him 🙂
Text © Angela van Son 2013 If you like the story, please share it. A story without readers is an orphan.