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 The Red Dragon


Once there was a time, thousands of years ago, when animals were not the
same as they are now. Except for a few like the lion, the tiger and the
butterflies, they all looked alike. All were more or less the same height,
everyone had four legs and it wasn't easy to tell which was which, even though
the elephant did weigh more than the hyena, and the hippo more than the
gazelle. One day, while all the animals were relaxing in a field, along came a
red dragon, out of breath, crying,
"We're in danger, folks! The world is about to come to an end!"
"How do you know?" everyone asked. The dragon replied,
"I read it in the stars. We must escape!"
"But where can we go?" they asked him.
"To another world," he replied. "I'll take you there. I can fly and I'll
take you to a planet that is safer than this one." Frightened, as they were,
all the animals climbed on to the dragon's back.
With a bored look, the lion said, "I'm not scared of anything, so I'll just
stay here on Earth." The others, however, were fighting to get on the dragon's
"Don't push, you behind!" shouted the crocodile.
"Hey, move that paw!" It was just like people today pushing and shoving to
get onto an overcrowded train. At last the dragon cried,
"Ready! Off we go," and started to run for takeoff. The first and the
second runs weren't fast enough, but at the third try he finally got off the
ground, flapping his wings and waving his tail.
"Not so fast!" shouted somebody, and another voice yelled: "Faster, or we
will end up in the trees!" The dragon replied,
"Oh, bother! I'm doing the best I can. Why don't you lot keep still, for
once." The fact was that because they were frightened, they did everything but
keep still, and so, after a while, the poor red dragon, now very tired, simply
could not flap his wings any longer . . . and crashed on a lovely green meadow.
All the animals shrieked with terror. Nobody lost his life . . but the
snake lost his legs and slithered away through the grass. The rhino bumped his
head and grew a horn. All the elephant's teeth fell out, except for two which
became very long. The giraffe sprained his neck and it grew to a great length.
The hippo rolled about so much he became nearly round, ended up in a pond and
didn't come out, he was too ashamed to be seen . . . Well, in that fall, all
the animals took on a different appearance and became what they are today. And
when the lion saw them, what he said was:
"Oh, how funny you look!"

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