The Dragon and the Princess

Everyone except Thomas Creighton-Smith’s granddaughter, Ada, knew Rosie was more than just a pig. Ada’s ideal retirement for Rosie was to explore the ancient land of dragons by day and visit the kitchen for under-the-table dinner scraps in the evenings before dreaming by the fireplace.

At breakfast one dank April Friday, Grandma had suggested they have roast pig for Sunday lunch complete with the traditional three vegetables and brown gravy made from the juices of the roasting meat. It was while Grandma chatted on about where she would insert the large rotisserie rod that Ada ran from the kitchen with Rosie close at her heels. ‘It will help tenderise the old sow,’ Grandma was saying without acknowledging she had heard the back door slam.

Thomas put down his morning paper. ‘I just wanted to take the pig to the abattoir to recoup some of our loses. After all, this is a working farm,’ he muttered as he left the house in search of Ada.

His eyes scanned the landscape for a sign of the two gallant explorers. In spite of himself, old Thomas didn’t envy the little girl. He had grown up in Beatrix Potter country and the fantasies she created in the stunning Lake District would have been more practical for Ada’s school holiday fantasies. He shook his head. Maybe we should have stayed in Ambleside and taken up trout farming.

It was two days before St George’s national holiday and Thomas needed to take that fat old pig for a road trip but Grandma was fixed on having tough pork and bacon. He stood at the garden gate and looked around. Where are they? He squinted into the fog that settled over the bogs as he recalled his mother’s favourite story that dated back to the 6th century. What was it, again? Oh, yes. St George rescued a young maiden by slaying a terrifying fire-breathing dragon. He slipped his hands into his warm pockets and headed for the main road.

So she wouldn’t fall over, Ada held up her long flowing medieval princess costume as she marched down Old Kent Road. Rosie trudged slightly behind with cardboard toilet cylinders on her pointy ears and three black bows tied onto her limp tail.

They stopped near a red telephone box just beyond the intersection where the road-signs crisscrossed a wooden post. ‘Oh Rosie, how could Grandma say such horrid things? I won’t let them eat you.’ Ada stomped her foot splashing slops of mud over both of them.

She lifted the old play dress above her waist to search the pockets of her faded jeans beneath. With 10p in her hand she stepped into the telephone box. Finding the correct number from the list beside the chunky black phone, Ada dialled and waited. Rosie grunted, shuffled and squeezed in until she jammed herself tight between Ada’s knees.

‘Hello,’ Ada shouted into the mouthpiece. ‘Please help me. They’re going to kill Rosie!’

Approaching the end of the lane where it met the road, Grandpa looked left then right. Their farm was located two miles due east of the abattoir between Dover and Holyhead. He sniffed the thick foul air. This neighbourhood is likened to the lowest-priced property on the English Monopoly board. A few moments later he decided Ada would have headed away from town so off he trudged.

Minutes later he heard an ear-piercing squeal followed by a shout from young Ada. He quickened his stride. The telephone box a little ways past the next farm on the opposite side of the road seemed to be alive as it shook and groaned. Grandpa stopped in mid-step; his neck craned forward. There was someone, or something, in the telephone box. There were too many legs to count. He saw what looked like horns and a tail with blades. There was a lot of banging and bumping going on behind the grime and moss streaked glass.

‘Oh my, it looks like a dragon!’

Ada screamed again jolting Grandpa from his trance. Manoeuvring the door open to avoid swishing his granddaughter, he grabbed Rosie by the tail and dragged her squealing from the booth.

Later, after the local Bobbies had their explanation and had a good laugh, Grandpa and Ada sat down to rest at the nearby bus-stop.

‘Did you know, Ada, only forty-five to fifty percent of animals at the abattoir can be turned into edible meat products, fifteen percent is waste, and the remaining forty to forty five percent is turned into by-products like bath soap, candles and glue? Mmm…glue suits her.’

‘But Grandpa…’

‘It’s okay, honey. I rather like rescuing my little princess from dragons. Come on, let’s go home and break the news to Grandma.’ He winked at his granddaughter. ‘There will be no more talk of bacon and roast pork.’

© Chrissy Siggee

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