"Who are you talking to?" Libby asked, her eyes still wide with fright for Robie's presumptuous behavior toward the huge and powerful creature.
"The dragon, a' course," Robie said, having no real sense of doing something unusual. "You'll be careful with them, won't you, dragon?"
Robie was certain the dragon was laughing inside. "What's so funny?"
I have a name, you know.
"Oh, I know that all the dragons have names, but I've only just met you so I don't know your name." Robie turned his head ever so slightly to be sure his friends were observing how brave he was. And courteous.
Cortath is my name. What is yours, little one?
"Robie...that is, Robinton, and you will fly my parents very carefully, won't you?"
Of course I will, young Robinton.
Greatly reassured by that, Robie took advantage of this unparalleled opportunity and asked, "Will you be fighting Thread when it comes back?"
The tail gave such a convulsive twitch that it nearly swept both Lexey and Robinton, who were nearest, off their feet. The dragon swerved his body around so that his great head, with its many faceted eyes swirling with a variety of colors rapidly turning into orange and red, came closer to Robie.
Dragons always fly when Thread is in the sky, was the unequivocal answer.
"You know the song, then?" Robie asked, delighted.
But, before Cortath could answer, his rider was at his head, turning it back so that he could introduce the bronze to Merelan and Petiron
"Robinton, what are you doing back there?" his father demanded, noticing him at last and gesturing for him to get out of the way.
"We were just playing hop-it, only Cortath landed in the middle..." At the boy's words, the great dragon courteously moved his feet. "It's all right, Cortath, you smudged the lines a bit with your tail but we can fix it when you leave."
"Robinton!" his father roared, scowling his amazement. Robinton risked a nervous glance at his mother and saw her slight smile. Why was his father angry with him? He really hadn't been doing anything wrong, had he?
"Cortath says he's enjoyed conversing with your son, Master Petiron," M'ridin said with a reassuring chuckle. "There aren't that many children these days who will, you know."
Robinton's sensitive ears caught the plaintive note in the tall, bronze rider's voice. He opened his mouth to say that he'd be happy to talk to Cortath any time, when he saw his mother raise her finger in her signal for him to be silent and noticed the deepening scowl on his father's face. So he looked anywhere but at the adults.
"Out of the way now, boy," his father said, gesturing urgently.
Robinton scooted off toward the hall, Libby and Lexey well in front of him, all too relieved to be allowed to leave.
"Goodbye, Cortath," Robinton said. Seeing the dragon turn his head to follow him, he waved his fingers in farewell.
We will meet again, young Robinton, Cortath said clearly.
"Shards, Rob, you were lucky," Lexey said enviously.
"And brave," Libby put in, her blue eyes still as wide as saucers in her freckled face.
Robie shrugged. He was probably lucky he hadn't been close enough to his father for a smack at bothering a dragon, but he didn't think he'd been particularly brave. Though he should not, perhaps, have compared a dragon to a watchwher! He'd caught the insulted note in the dragon's voice, and he guessed he was lucky Cortath had deigned to speak with him, instead of just lashing out with his tail at the presumptuous boy.
Use of this excerpt from THE MASTERHARPER OF PERN by Anne McCaffrey may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: copyright ©1998 by Anne McCaffrey
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