A kind boy learns about a baby dragon who needs help. He goes on an adventure to save the dragon from Wild Island!
Chapter 2 – I Run Away
“Wild Island is cut into two by a very wide and muddy river,” continued the cat. “This river begins near one end of the island and flows into the ocean at the other end. The animals there are very lazy, and they used to hate having to go all the way around the beginning of this river to get to the other side of the island. It was very inconvenient to travel and send mail across the river. The crocodiles in the river are very moody and are always looking for something to eat. If anyone tried to swim across, they would meet an angry, hungry crocodile. So, for many years, the animals took the long journey around the river.”
“Um… how does this story relate to airplanes?” I asked. It seemed like the cat was taking a long time to explain.
“Be patient, Elmer,” said the cat. She continued with her story. “One day, about four months before I arrived on Wild Island, a baby dragon fell from a low cloud. He landed on the bank of the river. He was too young to fly very well, and he had bruised his wing very badly, so he couldn’t get back to his cloud. The animals found him and everybody said, ‘This is exactly what we need!’ They tied a big rope around his neck and waited for his wing to get better. This was going to end all their trouble to cross the river.”
“I’ve never seen a dragon,” I said. “Did you see him? How big is he?”
“Oh yes, I saw the dragon. In fact, we became great friends,” said the cat. “I used to hide in the bushes and talk to him when nobody was around. He’s not a very big dragon. He is only about the size of a large black bear, although he probably has grown a bit since I left. He has a long tail and yellow and blue stripes. His horn and eyes are bright red, and so are the bottoms of his feet. He has gold-colored wings.”
“Oh, how wonderful!” I said. “What did the animals do with him when his wing healed?”
“They started training him to carry passengers. Even though he is just a baby dragon, they make him work all day and all night too sometimes. They make him carry loads that are much too heavy. And if he complains, they twist his wings and hit him. He’s always tied to a rope that is only long enough to go across the river. His only friends are the crocodiles, who say ‘Hello’ to him once a week (if they don’t forget). Really, he’s the most miserable animal I’ve ever come across. When I left, I promised I’d try to help him someday, although, I couldn’t see how. The rope that is tied around his neck is the biggest, toughest rope you can imagine. It has so many knots that it would take days to untie them all.”
The cat shook her head and her eyes were full of pity. She continued the story with a sudden burst of energy. “Anyway, when you were talking about airplanes, you gave me a good idea. Now, I’m quite sure that if you were able to rescue the dragon, which wouldn’t be easy, he’d let you ride him almost anywhere, as long as you were nice to him, of course. How about trying it?”
“Oh, I’d love to,” I said.
I was really interested in seeing the dragon. And besides, I was so angry at my mother for being rude to the cat that I didn’t feel guilty about running away from home for a while.
That same afternoon, the cat and I went down to the docks to see the ship schedule. We checked to see which ships were going to the Island of Tangerina. We found out that a ship would be sailing there next week.
Right away, we started planning the rescue of the dragon. The cat was a great help in suggesting things for me to take. And she told me everything she knew about Wild Island. Unfortunately, she was too old to go along on the journey, so she firmly decided to stay behind.
Everything had to be kept a secret, so when we found or bought anything to take on the trip, we hid it behind a big rock in the park. The night before the journey, I borrowed my father’s backpack. The cat and I packed everything very carefully. I took chewing gum, about 20 lollipops, a package of rubber bands, black rubber boots, a compass, a toothbrush and toothpaste, six magnifying glasses, a very sharp knife, a comb, a hairbrush, seven hair ribbons in different colors, an empty grain bag labeled “Cranberry,” some clean clothes, and enough food to last while on the ship. When the cat had originally made the journey, she could eat the mice on the ship. But of course, I can’t survive on mice, so I took twenty-five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and six apples. Unfortunately, my parents hadn’t kept better food in the kitchen, so that was all I could take.
When everything was packed, the cat and I went down to the docks at night. We found the ship that was supposed to set sail for the Island of Tangerina. A night guard was on duty, so the cat made loud noises to distract him. When the guard’s attention was on the cat, I ran over to the ship. I walked across a plank and went down into the hold of the ship and hid among some bags of wheat. The ship sailed early the next morning.