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Noble Experiments

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With a captain, the personal identity of the dragon is lost. Its person is completely sunk in that of its captain, and he acquires an absolute mastery over its person and effects. Hence its complete disability to contract legal obligations; and except in the event of separation, a captained dragon in the United Kingdom cannot engage in trade.

Leone Levi, International Commercial Law, 1863


There was a traffic jam on the street in front of the dragon settlement house. The driver of a motorcar and a mottled yellow lightweight offloading a construction wagon were engaged in a spirited argument over the right of way, as several peddlers pushed their fruit carts discreetly out of the way of her wildly gesticulating wings. A thick press of pedestrians, trucks, and assorted handcarts tried to squeeze past the spectacle. Several harried mothers rushed their tarrying children in through the gate toward the free kindergarten, one stopping for a moment to grab a copy of the Chicago Herald and Examiner from a paper boy.

 "Do you know," said Temeraire, with a blink, as they exited the gates of Covert House, "I believe the city was rather smaller, the last time I was here."

 "With the typical human reproduction rate and the agro-industrial migration, I should think so!" said Perscitia, "But of course I will not explain, because you would not find it useful, and we are here in service to the Cause."

 "Chicago looks so very much quieter by night and from air," he said, "You must own, it is a little startling."

 Perscitia owned no such thing. "This is all perfectly useless. Do not stand here speculating, we must go to the docks and begin our survey."

 Temeraire scrupulously did not argue the point with her, for over a century's acquaintance had taught him the folly of this.


 Monday afternoon this courtyard is filled with Italian girls who sew, play games, and dance, and the little ones cut out pictures and past them in scrap-books. Sometimes they take a bath when they can be convinced of the beauty of the porcelain tubs, and clean clothes are talked about as a desideratum.

 Every day the laundry is at the disposal of those who wish to make use of it.

 Monday afternoon a club of young women meets and reads the works of Shaw, aided by sketches of various scenes from his plays, contemporary art, and lectures by the dragon Castitas on modern literary theory. Miss Waters talks about each work in a historical context. Monday evening belongs to a group of Quebecois lightweight class dragons, who are reviewing the old salons of Paris. Music, conversation, and coffee form the excuse for a brilliant evening, with an occasional lecture on Marie Antoinette and kindred subjects.

 - Nora Marks, Chicago Tribune


Covert House had been very sympathetic to the cause of the National Dragon's Suffrage Society – in Britain, only dragons who were over the age of thirty and were captained, owned a household of their own or had a university degree could vote. This, they agreed, was ridiculous. In the United States, all dragons above the age of reason had had the vote for the past three years, and nothing in the least terrible had happened!* Most of the settlement's dragon residents were now members of the League of Dragon Voters, and remembered the struggle well. So when the National Dragon Suffrage Society decided to send an exploratory mission to the United States, Covert House was quite happy to host the delegation on their Chicago stop. They had not quite reckoned on a guest the size of a Chinese Celestial, but the prospect of such a distinguished visitor as Temeraire quite silenced what protestations there might have been.

 "When the ladies of Hull House set up shop and began doing good works," said Castitas, sipping from a small cask of peppermint tea in the shade of the hastily-erected guest pavilion tent, "The felicity of the idea quite recommended itself. What better way for dragons to make themselves better known and loved to the general mass of humanity, than to live among them and make ourselves of some use? And of course, the duty of gently raised dragons to share the benefits of our education with our feral brothers and sisters was clear."

 "There have been setbacks, my dear," chided Miss Polacheck, Castitas's captain. "Remember the beginnings of your nourishing soup program. Most ferals, no matter that they could rarely afford a healthy cow or buffalo, were reluctant to eat barley and vegetables with a seasoning of butcher scraps."

 "To be sure," admitted Castitas, "We learned much of our less fortunate kin that we might not have guessed. And, indeed, of cookery. But the wisdom of our plan could hardly be argued, and on the whole, I feel we have been a success."

 "May I trouble you to ask -" asked Temeraire, "What is this delicious roast? It is like cow, but rather more flavorful."

 "It is buffalo," said Spezzatura, with some pride. "They are native to this continent, as you know, and are herded and culled by dragons, for only a dragon can control such vast herds and keep them from towns and railroads with ease."

 "They would have killed them all and left them to rot on the plain," complained Veritude, a somewhat fragile Pecheur-Couronne who rejoiced in a distant and rather dubious claim to Dakota ancestry. "But we would not let them, because buffalo are so very tasty, and likewise, convenient."


Vote NO on Dragon Suffrage

BECAUSE 90% of the dragons either do not want it, or do not care.

BECAUSE it means competition of dragons with men instead of co-operation.

BECAUSE 80% of the dragons eligible to vote are captained and can only double or annul their captain's votes.

BECAUSE it can be of no benefit commensurate with the additional expense involved.

BECAUSE in some remote counties more voting dragons than voting men will place their Government under scaled rule.

BECAUSE it is unwise to risk the good we already have for the evil which may occur. 

- National Association Opposed to Dragon Suffrage


"How do you choose which candidate you vote for?" asked Perscitia, reading from her questionnaire to a medium weight yellow dragon

 "Well, as for that," said the dragon, "The same as any human. We vote for whoever promises us the best!"

 "So I as understand it, you vote based on promised policies?" Perscitia asked.

 "Sure," she said, with a knowing wink, "That's what I meant."

 "I would not expect to see you here," said a dragon's voice from behind Temeraire.

 He turned. It was a very familiar Kazlik figure. "Iskierka?" Temeraire asked, "It is never you!"

 "I think it is," said Iskierka. "You have brought Perscitia along. Have you been thrown out of Britain again?"

 "I imagine some would like to," said Temeraire, sitting back on his haunches. "But as of late, they haven't the least excuse. No, we are here on behalf of the National Dragon's Suffrage Society, for you here have gotten the vote quite before us, and we should like to learn from you. And you?"

 "I am here for that slime Torrio, and any of his men are fool enough to cause any trouble," she said, happily bloodthirsty. "I am a rich dragon now and have a fine pavilion. Both of you must come visit me, I shall show you my treasure."


Federal Agents, Rum Runners Fire Battle

Windsor, Ont. June 19 (AP) - Rum runners of the East Windsor sector today fought a running dragon fire battle with a United States customs patrol cutter on the Detroit river and escaped over Canadian waters.

Walter S. Petty, acting collector of customs at Detroit, said the rum runner dragon deliberately opened fire when it was near the foot of Joseph Campau avenue, Detroit.

Fire struck the customs patrol cutter and scorched its prow. The customs men returned fire with their guns and the unknown firebreather and its cohorts retreated maintaining a heavy fire, Petty said, even after they had crossed the international line. The United States boat abandoned the pursuit at the line.

- The Associated Press


A dragon of a certain age flying over Chicago could easily see the progress of his kind written on the roofs of the city. With the crowded nature of the metropolis, there was little room on the ground for pavilions save on the grounds of fine mansions, yet ingenuity found a way. From simple awnings for impecunious lightweights on the roofs of the sturdier tenements to shared quarters suitable for breeds of all sizes atop the city's warehouses to fine pavilions in the most elegant style in the roof gardens of the city's grand hotels, signs of dragon habitation were everywhere to be seen. Iskierka lived on the roof of a dance hall in a pavilion liberally decorated in large brightly colored glass and foil gems, done up in what she assured her visitors was the very latest style.

"Fighting battles is very glorious," said a lazily pleased Iskierka, propping her chin comfortably on a pseudo-Egyptian headrest, "But there are not enough of them, which is boring and how am I to have prizes then? So I have gone into business and it is not boring at all."

"And what business are you about?" asked Temeraire, taking in the overwrought splendor of their surroundings. "As you said, you have done well, I see."

"Shipping," said Iskierka. "The gold humans will pay for carrying barrels across a lake! I bring Mr. O'Bannion his barrels, and he pays me in treasure and sometimes a proper fight! I shall never go back to the Aerial Corps unless it is war, it is far less exciting than shipping."

"Iskierka," said Perscitia, "You are a smuggler!"

"I am," she said, "And it is very fine."

"Do you not find breaking the law of the land for a little gold troubles you?" asked Temeraire, horribly fascinated, but not in the least surprised.

"Why, not at all!" said Iskierka. "I am a Canadian now, so it is not my law or my land."

"Are they very desperate characters that you work with?" Temeraire asked, wide-eyed. "Whatever do they wish you to do?"

"I suppose they are desperate," Iskierka said, after a moment's visible thought, "But they are none of them dragons, so they cannot breathe fire. And my captain is one of them, so they are not so bad."

Temeraire and Perscitia exchanged a telling glance. Iskierka had found a new captain?

 "It is not too late if he has led you astray," Perscitia said to her, intensely. "Covert House would help you."

 "Do not be silly," hissed Iskierka. "He is a fine captain, and I flew barrels before we met. I am not a fool like either of you, to do without a captain when one may so easily found!"

"I do not mean to always do without a captain," protested Temeraire, hurt. "A person of the right sensibility is not so easily found as you may think! You cannot expect me to settle, after what I have known."

"Well, I have found Henry, and he is terribly fierce and all one might want. Why, we have been in three skirmishes together only this month!" Iskierka said, offended.

 "Are you a gangster?" asked Perscitia, narrow eyed.

 "No," admitted Iskierka. "I am a free dragon and may do as I please. But I must keep watch for Torrio's men stealing our shipments, or we shall have nothing to sell and I may kill them if they try anything. I hope they do," she said, wistfully, "I have not had a proper fight since the last month."

 "We have a survey," said Temeraire, "It is not so very long. Would you take it?"

 "And why not!" said Iskierka."Ask me your first question!"

 "Would you vote to keep the Volstead act if you could?" he asked.

 "If I could vote in the elections here – and I cannot, because I am a Canadian now, and it is very fine – If I could vote in the elections here, I would vote for Prohibition to continue for-ever!" she said.

 "But you transport liquor!" protested Perscitia.

 "Yes," admitted Iskierka, "And I could not get so much treasure for it if it were legal."

Some things, Temeraire reflected, never changed.


 *Some might argue that Prohibition might have counted, but since most dragons could not be bothered about whether humans chose to drink or not either way, this could hardly be left at the dragon population's doorstep.