Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a little lamb called Ivy. You may think that’s a strange name for a lamb, and perhaps it is. Now, Ivy was a little different from all the other lambs. To be honest, Ivy lived in a world of her own. Ivy liked to bounce around the field exploring while the other lambs huddled together with the sheep. Such a happy little lamb; the world was just one big adventure for her. By the end of the day, Ivy was at the other end of the field, alone. She didn’t notice the farmer calling all the other animals in for the night. Before she knew it, Ivy was the only one left outside. The thing about Ivy is that she didn’t have a very good sense of direction. Thinking she was heading back to the farm, she wandered out the wrong gate. Before long, she was lost. Poor little Ivy, she really was lost. By now, it was starting to get dark. In the distance, Ivy could see the glow of a fire. Thinking that it was the farmer’s house, she headed off towards it.
As she got near, she could see that it wasn’t the farmer’s house. In fact, it wasn’t a house at all. It was a cave halfway up a hill. Still, she thought, perhaps the person in the cave could tell me the way to the farmer’s house. Just then, she could hear a sound behind her—it was a wolf. Now, although Ivy wasn’t as smart as all the other animals, she was smart enough to know that wolves are very dangerous. They eat little lambs. Ivy raced up the hill just as fast as her little legs would take her. She could hear the wolf getting closer and closer. As Ivy got close to the cave's entrance, the wolf stopped chasing, let out a howl, and started off back down the hill. "What a strange wolf," Ivy thought. He’s chased me all this way and suddenly given up. How lucky is that? By now, Ivy was almost at the cave entrance.
Ivy entered the cave and was amazed to see a very large animal asleep by the fire. She had never seen an animal so big. "What a funny colour," she thought. It was dark green with a long tail and what looked like wings. It was a dragon. Ivy had never seen a dragon before, so she had no idea what it was. Without a care in the world, she started to bounce around the dragon, trying to see just how big it was. Now, in life, there is a list of things you should do, and things you shouldn’t do. Dancing around a sleeping dragon is very near the top of the list of things you shouldn’t do. But this was Ivy. It wasn’t long before all that bouncing around woke the sleeping dragon. It opened one eye—a big, yellow eye. Amazed to see a midnight snack standing before him, the dragon lifted his sleepy head, opened his huge mouth, and, licking his lips, moved toward Ivy.
"Hello, what’s your name?" said Ivy.
The dragon was quite shocked. His surprise midnight snack was speaking to him. "I’m a dragon; I don’t have a name."
"But you must have a name," said Ivy. "I have a name; I bet you can’t guess what it is."
The dragon, who had just woken up, was starting to think this was a dream. He said this while shaking his head to try to get some blood to his sleepy brain. "What do you mean, guess your name? What kind of question is that?"
"I just thought it would be a bit of fun," said Ivy. "I wanted to see if you could guess my name."
The dragon leaned forward. "Okay, and this is just a wild guess you understand, is it—supper?"
"No, it is not."
"Yes, that was just a wild guess; now let me think. Chop?"
"No, it’s Ivy; my name is Ivy; how do you do?"
"Ivy, that’s an unusual name for a lamb. Why are you called Ivy?"
Ivy bounced right up to the dragon's face and said, "It’s because of my birthmark. I have it on the side of my body, look." As she said that, she turned to show the dragon her side. The dragon started laughing. Painted on her wool, in blue, were the letters IV. You see, the dragon knew that a long time ago, the letters IV were once used instead of the number four.
"Why are you laughing?"
"Don’t worry, it’s nothing. I'm assuming you have brothers and sisters. Am I right?
"Yes, I have three."
“I see, and I bet you were the last one to be born, number four?”
“Oh my, you are a clever dragon. How did you know that?”
The dragon smiled and told Ivy that it was a special skill he had. Ivy looked at him and said, “Now that I have told you my name, perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me yours.”
The dragon had never been asked his name before, especially by a lamb. “Why would a dragon have a name?”
“So I don’t get you mixed up with other dragons.”
“Other dragons?” With that, dragon lifted his head, looked from side to side around the cave, and said, “Oh, you mean all the other dragons in the cave.”
Ivy bounced forward and said, “What, there are other dragons in here?”
The tired dragon shook his head. “You’re not like the other lambs are you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” said the dragon, ”You’re not afraid of me.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that. Are lambs supposed to be afraid of dragons then?”
The dragon laughed and said, “Everyone is supposed to be afraid of dragons.”
“Well, I’ve never met a dragon before, and you seem very nice. At least you’re not like the wolf who chased me up here.”
“A wolf you say.”
“Yes, a wolf chased me up here.”
“And where is this wolf now?”
“I’m not sure. One minute he was chasing me, and then he stopped.”
“Ah, I see. The wolf is smart. He knew I would eat him.”
“Oh dear, are you going to eat me then?”
“I’ll make a deal with you. If you stop bouncing around and let me get back to sleep, I won’t eat you.”
Ivy agreed and told the dragon that she was also very tired. As Ivy watched the dragon close its eyes, she lay down beside the last remains of the fire and went to sleep.
In the morning, Ivy woke to find herself all alone in the cave; the dragon had gone. The morning sun was shining through the cave’s opening. For the first time, Ivy could get a good look at the inside of the cave. What she found at the back of the cave quite shocked her. It was a pile of bones. Some of the bones looked to be recent. Before she could turn around, the cave started to go dark. It was the shadow of the dragon returning. He was so big that he blocked off nearly all of the light. Ivy was starting to get a bit worried. The last thing she wanted was to be added to the bone collection. The dragon could see that she was nervous.
“Don’t worry little lamb; I’m not going to eat you.”
“No, I promised that I wouldn’t as long as you let me sleep, and you did.”
“I’m so pleased that you had a good sleep kind dragon, and thank you for not eating me of course.”
“You are welcome. I suppose you had better be going, it’s early morning and the farmer will be missing you soon. You had best get back before he does.”
"Yes, you are right; today is a big day for me. The farmer is taking me on a trip to the market. I hope I manage to get past the wolf."
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about the wolf.”
“Did you tell him off for chasing me?”
The dragon lifted one of his claws to his mouth and began to pick his teeth.
“Oh yes; I gave him a right good roasting. He won’t be bothering you again.”
With that, the dragon licked his lips and said, “Tell me more about this market trip, have you been before?”
“No, this will be my first time, it’s quite exciting. My sister and two brothers went last week; I’ve never been on a trip before.”
“I see, and did they come back?”
“Now that you mention it, no they didn’t. I suppose they are still down there.”
“Hmm, I think we should have a little chat about what goes on at the market.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Let me see, how can I put this? You know the wolf, the wolf I said I roasted.”
“Well, I did roast him, and then I had him for breakfast. The farmer wants to sell you to people who will do the same thing to you.”
“What! Roast me and have me for breakfast?”
“Well, dinner actually, but the end result is the same.”
“Oh no, what am I going to do?”
“You could stay here with me. I could find you some jobs to do around the cave.”
Ivy walked over to the cave entrance. From her vantage point high up on the hill, she could see her farm in the distance. Part of her wanted to return, but she didn’t want to be roasted. She told the dragon that she would stay with him. And so she did. Over the weeks and months, they became very fond of each other. The days began to get shorter, winter was coming. The dragon explained to Ivy that dragons don’t like winter; it’s not very good for them as they really need to keep warm. He told her that he usually flies south at this time of year. All dragons do it he said. There is a special island that he likes to go and would need to leave soon. In a sad voice, Ivy said, “I’m going to miss you. Will you come back after winter?”
“Of course, I will come back, and I’m going to miss you too. Unless that is, you want to come with me.”
“Yes, yes, yes, I want to go with you.”
The dragon smiled, “That’s settled then, and we will leave tomorrow. I think you’ll like it there, plenty of fresh green grass for you to eat.”
And so it was, the dragon took Ivy off to the island. A new world with new adventures, but that’s a story for another day.