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Huffle was a sad dragon.

He was sad because he had very small wings, and a very big belly, and the one simply couldn’t carry the weight of the other.

His mother told him to be proud of what he could do. His big belly meant that he could eat more than the average dragon, and the more a dragon ate, the more fire he could breathe. When Huffle breathed fire, he was a fearsome sight indeed. His eyes lit up red, and smoke billowed out of his nostrils like twin chimneys. He could burn down whole forests if he wanted to; he could even melt a beach into a solid field of glass.

But he was still not happy.

He would sit at the entrance to his cave, puffing out great roiling rivers of flame that danced across the glass of his beach below, but he didn’t watch the fire dance. His eyes were fixed on the sky, where the other dragons reeled through the air.

His friends didn’t like to see him sad, and they tried to think of ways to make him happy. They brought him presents – big fat goats to eat, shiny things for his hoard, and other things that dragons like – and he would smile for a little while. But he was still sad.

One day, two of his friends brought him a very special present. They brought a man from the nearby town, who cowered and looked very afraid to be surrounded by dragons, but they said he wasn’t there to be eaten. The man took out long pieces of string and put them around Huffle, measuring the length of his wings, the width of his chest, the length of his head.

And then, the man was sent back to his home.

Huffle was very puzzled. This was a very strange gift indeed, he thought, to be poked and pulled around by a little man. But soon he was to discover what the gift really was.

The man came back to the glassy beach, with several other men, carrying a large, strange thing. It was like a giant sack, with ropes and leather straps attached. The men climbed around Huffle, attaching the leather straps around his chest and laying out the giant sack in front of his head. Then, standing in front of him, they held up the edge of the sack and blew in it. They pointed at him, then blew again.

Puzzled, Huffle reached out one claw to hold up the edge of the sack. The men scattered, running for shelter.

Huffle blew gently into the sack, the fire in his belly heating his breath, and the sack began to billow and fill up. It began to rise. He blew some more, and it raised some more. He blew and blew, and it rose up and up, until it was over his head. He blew more, and it raised still higher, and the leather straps tightened around his chest, pulling him upwards.

He blew again, and his feet left the ground.

He blew again and again, and the balloon above his head lifted him high up into the air, where his friends flew around him in circles.

He smiled and laughed, and as he drifted through the sky he was the happiest dragon that ever lived.

© Kari Fay