Haven’t got an enemy in the world … Too lazy to make ’em

From Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon:

The Boy bit off a stalk of grass and chewed it. “Going to make a long stay here?” he asked, politely.

“Can’t hardly say at present,” replied the dragon. “It seems a nice place enough—but I’ve only been here a short time, and one must look about and reflect and consider before settling down. It’s rather a serious thing, settling down. Besides—now I ‘m going to tell you something! You’d never guess it if you tried ever so!—fact is, I’m such a confoundedly lazy beggar!”

“You surprise me,” said the Boy, civilly.

“It’s the sad truth,” the dragon went on, settling down between his paws and evidently delighted to have found a listener at last: “and I fancy that’s really how I came to be here. You see all the other fellows were so active and earnest and all that sort of thing—always rampaging, and skirmishing, and scouring the desert sands, and pacing the margin of the sea, and chasing knights all over the place, and devouring damsels, and going on generally—whereas I liked to get my meals regular and then to prop my back against a bit of rock and snooze a bit, and wake up and think of things going on and how they kept going on just the same, you know! So when it happened I got fairly caught.”

“When what happened, please?” asked the Boy.

“That’s just what I don’t precisely know,” said the dragon. “I suppose the earth sneezed, or shook itself, or the bottom dropped out of something. Anyhow there was a shake and a roar and a general stramash, and I found myself miles away underground and wedged in as tight as tight. Well, thank goodness, my wants are few, and at any rate I had peace and quietness and wasn’t always being asked to come along and do something. And I’ve got such an active mind—always occupied, I assure you! But time went on, and there was a certain sameness about the life, and at last I began to think it would be fun to work my way upstairs and see what you other fellows were doing. So I scratched and burrowed, and worked this way and that way and at last I came out through this cave here. And I like the country, and the view, and the people—what I’ve seen of ’em—and on the whole I feel inclined to settle down here.”

“What’s your mind always occupied about?” asked the Boy. “That’s what I want to know.”

The dragon coloured slightly and looked away. Presently he said bashfully:

“Did you ever—just for fun—try to make up poetry—verses, you know?”

“’Course I have,” said the Boy. “Heaps of it. And some of it’s quite good, I feel sure, only there’s no one here cares about it. Mother’s very kind and all that, when I read it to her, and so’s father for that matter. But somehow they don’t seem to—”

“Exactly,” cried the dragon; “my own case exactly. They don’t seem to, and you can’t argue with ’em about it. Now you’ve got culture, you have, I could tell it on you at once, and I should just like your candid opinion about some little things I threw off lightly, when I was down there. I’m awfully pleased to have met you, and I’m hoping the other neighbours will be equally agreeable. There was a very nice old gentleman up here only last night, but he didn’t seem to want to intrude.”

“That was my father,” said the boy, “and he is a nice old gentleman, and I’ll introduce you some day if you like.”

“Can’t you two come up here and dine or something to-morrow?” asked the dragon eagerly. “Only, of course, if you ‘ye got nothing better to do,” he added politely.

“Thanks awfully,” said the Boy, “but we don’t go out anywhere without my mother, and, to tell you the truth, I’m afraid she mightn’t quite approve of you. You see there’s no getting over the hard fact that you’re a dragon, is there? And when you talk of settling down, and the neighbours, and so on, I can’t help feeling that you don’t quite realize your position. You’re an enemy of the human race, you see!

“Haven’t got an enemy in the world,” said the dragon, cheerfully. “Too lazy to make ’em, to begin with. And if I do read other fellows my poetry, I’m always ready to listen to theirs!”

“Oh, dear!” cried the boy, “I wish you’d try and grasp the situation properly. When the other people find you out, they’ll come after you with spears and swords and all sorts of things. You’ll have to be exterminated, according to their way of looking at it! You ‘re a scourge, and a pest, and a baneful monster!”

“Not a word of truth in it,” said the dragon, wagging his head solemnly. “Character’ll bear the strictest investigation. And now, there’s a little sonnet-thing I was working on when you appeared on the scene—”

“Oh, if you won’t be sensible,” cried the Boy, getting up, “I’m going off home. No, I can’t stop for sonnets; my mother’s sitting up. I’II look you up to-morrow, sometime or other, and do for goodness’ sake try and realize that you’re a pestilential scourge, or you’ll find yourself in a most awful fix. Good-night!”

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