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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Animal Train

Diedre, the dragon, didn't have any friends. She lived by herself in a dark cave at the top of a tall mountain. Because she only ate things like wild rats and bats, she was too skinny. This made her feel sad all the time.

One gloomy morning, when gray clouds hung around the top of the mountain, Diedre sat on a rock, looking down. “I wonder what's below the clouds.” She'd never been anywhere before. “I could fly down there and see what's there. Maybe there will be something to eat.”

She opened her tiny purple wings, flapped them up and down to make sure they still worked and jumped off the rock. “Whee!” She soared back and forth, going lower and lower. As she flew through the clouds, she giggled. “They are much prettier from the inside than from the outside.”

Soon she broke through the clouds and saw a wondrous sight. Trees, flowers, and grass grew everywhere. She saw birds, horses and other animals. “Look at all these animals. I'm sure I can get one of them to be my friend.” Down she went, lower and lower until she landed in a field of tall grass.

An elephant ran past her.

“Excuse me, Mr. Elephant, but would you be my friend?” Diedre ran after him, trying to stop him.

Mr. Elephant stopped at a tree and turned to look at the dragon. “What sort of animal are you? I've never seen your type before.”

“I'm a dragon. I need a friend.” Diedre went on to tell Mr. Elephant about how lonely she was in her cave.

“You can be my friend and I'll introduce you to some of the others. Follow me.” Mr. Elephant led Diedre into a large grassy field.

A cat, several mice, a dog, goat, moose and hippopotamus came running over to them.

“I'm glad you're here. This is Diedre. She lives in the mountains.” Mr. Elephant turned and looked up at the huge mountain. “She wants some friends.”

“I'll be your friend,” said the cat.

“We'll be your friend,” said the mice.

“Me too,” answered the goat.

The horse, dog, moose and hippopotamus all said they'd be Diedre's friend.

They spent the entire day playing games, like hide and seek and tag and hopscotch and marbles. Diedre had so much fun! After they'd finished playing she began to feel a little bit hungry.

“Excuse me, Mr. Elephant, but I'm hungry. What do you have to eat down here?” Diedre licked her lips.

“I eat peanuts,” said Mr. Elephant.

“I eat hay and so does the goat,” said the horse.

“We eat cheese,” squeaked the mice.

“I eat fish,” answered the cat.

The dog brought a bone over and dropped it at Diedre's feet. “I'll share my bone with you.”

“That's kind of you, but I don't eat any of those things. I don't think I will like them. You see, I am used to eating wild rats and bats.”

“We don't have any of those down here. You'll have to go back to the mountains if you want to eat wild rats and bats,” said the hippopotamus.

“I have a good idea. Why don't you try some peanuts. I think you'll like them.” Mr. Elephant handed her a bag. “Go on. Don't be afraid to try new things.”

Diedre took a bite. “This tastes wonderful. I like peanuts!”

“Try some of our cheese,” the mice said, handing her a piece. “Try it.”

She took a bite. “This tastes good too. I like cheese.”

She nibbled on hay, fish, and bits of fruit and loved them all. Diedre looked down at the dog. He wanted her to try his bone. “I don't think I like bones, but I love everything else.”

Diedre never went back to the mountains. She never ate another wild rat or bat again. She stayed in the valley with her friends and nibbled on all the different types of food they offered her.

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