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The Red Fairy Book

Drakestail
DRAKESTAIL was very little, that is why he was called Drakestail; but tiny as he was he
had brains, and he knew what he was about, for having begun with nothing he ended by
amassing a hundred crowns. Now the King of the country, who was very extravagant and
never kept any money, having heard that Drakestail had some, went one day in his own
person to borrow his hoard, and, my word, in those days Drakestail was not a little proud
of having lent money to the King. But after the first and second year, seeing that they
never even dreamed of paying the interest, he became uneasy, so much so that at last he
resolved to go and see His Majesty himself, and get repaid. So one fine morning
Drakestail, very spruce and fresh, takes the road, singing: `Quack, quack, quack, when
shall I get my money back?'
He had not gone far when he met friend Fox, on his rounds that way.
`Good-morning, neighbour,' says the friend, `where are you off to so early?'
`I am going to the King for what he owes me.'
`Oh! take me with thee!'
Drakestail said to himself: `One can't have too many friends.' . . . `I will,' says he, `but
going on all-fours you will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat--
go into my gizzard and I will carry you.'
`Happy thought!' says friend Fox.
He takes bag and baggage, and, presto! is gone like a letter into the post.
And Drakestail is off again, all spruce and fresh, still singing: `Quack, quack, quack,
when shall I have my money back?'
He had not gone far when he met his lady-friend Ladder, leaning on her wall.
`Good morning, my duckling,' says the lady friend, `whither away so bold?'
`I am going to the King for what he owes me.'
`Oh! take me with thee!'
Drakestail said to himself: `One can't have too many friends.' . . . `I will,' says he, `but
with your wooden legs you will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my
throat--go into my gizzard and I will carry you.'
`Happy thought!' says my friend Ladder, and nimble, bag and baggage, goes to keep
company with friend Fox.
And `Quack, quack, quack.' Drakestail is off again, singing and spruce as before. A little
farther he meets his sweetheart, my friend River, wandering quietly in the sunshine.
 
 
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