Thom is left alone

The man humphed and Thom heard footstep walking away from the bed.

"Underbed Dragons need an expert to oust or they'll nest," muttered the voice, fading away.  "The young master will know how to handle them, damsels and dragonflies he will...."

Thom stayed very still, even after the voice and the footsteps had both faded away, just in case their owner was standing inside the doorway, waiting for him to reveal himself.  When he didn't dare stay there any longer in case the young master came back while he was still hiding he poked his head quickly out from beneath the valance and peered around.

The room was empty, though the dust had been kicked up in a wide trail from the door to the foot of the bed.  The door was still open, and the tapis by the door was rucked up, having been dragged when the door was forced open.  The chest was where he'd left it, with its lid leaning up against it.  He darted out, sneezing again as more dust lifted into the air, and looked at the open chest, wanting to see what was in it, but also wanting to get away from the room before anyone came to find him.

Curiosity won out over caution, and Thom scampered back to the chest, and looked inside.  Black cloth covered everything in the chest, and Thom reached in to pull it out.  The cloth was finely woven, and felt almost satiny when he touched it.  It was heavy too, and all in one piece.  He had to stretch up to his tiptoes to pull it all up, and he realised that it was a beautiful black cloak.  It smelled slightly musty, but was far better than any coat or cloak he had ever owned.  The collar fastened with a silvery clasp made to resemble an odd little dragon, with very short legs, stubby wings, and bright blue gemstone eyes.  Completely unable to resist, Thom dragged the rest of the cloak out of the box and put it on, fastening the clasp at his neck.  The cloak was too big, and dragged on the floor, and was a heavy weight across his shoulders, but was deliciously warm.  Thom giggled to himself in delight, pulling the cloak around him, loving the warmth and the soft silky fabric.

Looking back into the chest Thom saw next a book called Underbed Dragons, their Ecology and Life-cycle.  So they were real!  Something glittered underneath the book, but as he was reaching out to move the book aside, he heard a faint voice:

"Moonbeams and moonshine, master, but it is surely an Underbed dragon.  It sneezed as clearly as daylight with its explosive little nose-let.  You know for sure-sure that they'll nest if they're not ousted."

Thom looked upwards, panicking, but there was no way he could climb wearing the cloak.  He ran to the door and looked out.  The corridor beyond went both left and right, and the voices -- he could hear a second, deeper voice now -- were coming from the right.

"If it's an underbed dragon, Minchin, then I'll be breeding it," said the deeper voice.  "It can go with the rest in the Verminarium."

 

The End

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