I'm fed up with scandals, with people who have no right to talk giving advice on other people's marriages, with all of the nonsense and silliness and the thinking our lives are private or not private or really just wishing other people's were.
So here's a story.
It really wasn't the little dragon's idea. There were five boxes, and only one of them had turned out to be lump sugar, and the rest had turned out to be tea, so she'd gone looking for a marker to label the tea so she wouldn't get confused. This meant a lengthy trip from the pantry to the drawing room (where Mother's writing desk was) and along the way, she'd been distracted by the cook.
The cook was in the middle of making a something with butter and pears and golden syrup, and hadn't noticed when the little dragon set her feet down in the treacle. The dragon hadn't noticed, either, so she was very surprised to find her feet sticking to the mantle, where she'd stopped en route to rest on her way to the writing desk.
She was further dismayed when her attempts to rub out the sticky footprints landed her in the fireplace, where soot and treacle made their usual terrible combination. At that point, the dragon couldn't figure out what to do, so she just meeped loudly for a little while, hoping someone would come along who could help her clean her feet and get to the writing desk before she could forget what she wanted to label. Unfortunately, mother and Emily were out in the garden, and cook was singing merrily in the kitchen, and the long wait for rescue led to a nap among the warm coals of the fireplace, grubby feet and all.
Had the family known what would take place, they certainly wouldn't have hired a chimney sweep for that day. But they DIDN'T know, and the dragon (who was by this time fast asleep, and dreaming of jam-tarts and emeralds) had no idea, either. Her first idea of it came as she was rudely scooped up among the ashes and dumped unceremoniously into a bucket.
"EEEEP!" she leaped out of the bucket, leaving sticky black footprints up the arm of the workman's shirt.
"Ahhhh!" He stumbled backwards, thinking he'd finally met himself a soot goblin. (In all fairness, being covered in ashes, the dragon looked nothing like a dragon and a very great deal like a soot goblin.) He swatted at the dragon, who took to the air, frightening the man very nearly out of his wits.
"EEK!" he shouted, swatting at the dragon. "Flying goblin!" The dragon (who couldn't see very well because of the ashes) attached herself to the first thing she could land on to try to sort herself out. This was the man's shirt, and he began shouting and reeling about the room, trying to detach her. This only made her hold on for dear life.
At this point cook, who at least TRIED to keep a watchful ear out for the dragon, heard the commotion and came racing in, covered in flour. She saw the chimney sweep attacking their dragon, and let fly with the bowl she'd accidentally carried with her in her haste.
The chimney sweep (whose name was actually Mr. Bellers, and he was a very nice man when he wasn't terrified, as most of us usually are) gave another yell as the bowl hit him in the shoulder. Batter flew everywhere, including onto the dragon, right into her eyes. It also flew into the chimney sweep's eyes, which is surely the ONLY reason why he crashed into the drapes (it couldn't possibly have been that he was aiming a punch at the cook, even though it may have seemed so at the time.) The dragon scrambled blindly to catch hold of something that wouldn't hit her in reprisal. Anything. Cook- debating between continuing to pursue the attacker and stopping to rescue the dragon, who had made it as far as the mantle again- decided to make the best of both worlds, and seized the dragon with one hand while hip-checking the chimneysweep heavily. He crashed through the glass door into the garden, and landed right in front of where Mother was weeding.
The cook crashed right after him, by now having gotten hold of the tongs, and (still waving the bewildered and unhappy dragon in her other hand) was alternating between fierce blows at the sweep and loud cries of sympathy for her "poor, defenseless duckie..."
The sweep, on the other hand, had both arms raised, trying to defend himself from a flour-covered shouting woman waving a blackened, flaming, wing-flapping bundle of indignance in one hand and the fire tongs in the other, and really believed that he had the worst end of the affair.
Mother took one look at the mess and decided she'd better keep her gardening gloves on while she sorted it out.
This was how the mislabeled tea ended up causing an entire room to be cleaned, a dragon to be sent to bed early, and the cook to be given a half-day's leave to collect her wits. It's also why the chamomile patch went untended, because mother had her hands full just getting things cleared up again. Every party involved felt injured and insulted, and she had to call for order many times just to get the story straight.
In the end, the sweep comany paid for the glass repair. Cook was commended for her courage, and out of the goodness of her heart even sent a pear tart over to the sweep company, who listened in disbelief as Mr. Bellers then poured out his tale of woe, feeling more than a little abashed by his violent response to the frightened dragon (who really wasn't any bigger than a sparrow, but if you've ever seen a sparrow get loose in a room, you'd know just how much trouble that size can be!) The dragon even wrote him a personal letter of apology (which adventure led to the Inkstand Affair and the Great Blotting Paper Debacle, but that's another story) which was delivered to the sweep's house by the chimney care company. But it was no good; he'd given up his job to be an elephant trainer with the circus, to the great delight of his two children. He did feel badly for frightening the dragon so much, though, and sent her and Emily tickets to the circus, which they very much enjoyed. And although none of the involved parties ever went too near the fireplace at home again without a very watchful eye on the rest of the room, it may almost be said that they lived happily ever after, after each had been well scolded and had been given a chance to take a bath and calm down.