Elizabeth was walking home, still wearing her paper bag, when the dragon caught up to her. He still had rings under his eyes, and he looked very sheepish.
“The truth is,” he admitted, “that I am not really the smartest and fiercest dragon in the world.”
Elizabeth was very much surprised to hear it. “But you burnt up a hundred forests in one breath!” she said.
“My brother can burn five hundred. He does it on Thursdays and tells me to count them.”
“You flew around the world in ten seconds!”
“My brother can do it in seven. He’s always asking me if I want to race.”
“Well, I thought you were fantastic, anyway,” Elizabeth insisted.
The dragon moaned. “Don’t say that! I just wanted you to think I was a bigger and more important dragon than I was, so I tried as hard as I could to impress you. I wasn’t really busy, either, and I don’t even like to eat princesses.”
“Really?” Elizabeth asked. She had to admit that was a relief, and it also made her curious. “What do you like to eat, then?”
“Cheesy pastries are my favorite,” the dragon said. “I smelled them cooking in the kitchen, and I smashed open your castle to get them. I just kidnapped the prince and acted tough so my brother wouldn’t laugh.”
“Well,” said Elizabeth, “I think that your brother is a big jerk. Eating cheesy pastries and burning a hundred forests and flying around the world in ten seconds ought to be good enough for anybody.”
And Elizabeth and the dragon went on down the road together.
PS: Oh, and just in case you hadn't seen it, here's a Paper Bag Princess Christmas card by illustrator Michael Martchenko, from “The Paper Bag Princess: The Story Behind the Story, 25th Anniversary Edition.”