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Mistress Gurney's Box (standard:fantasy, 1709 words)
Author: moyaAdded: May 20 2002Views/Reads: 1906/1253Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A mysterious box with 'Do Not Open' on the lid - well, what would you do? 4th in the 'Dragontails' series.

It sat in the middle of the road as they rounded a blind corner. Sir
Eustace's horse had to brake so hard he nearly fell off. 

“What the blazes - !”  He pushed himself upright again and straightened
his helmet. Snowdrop the dragon flew down to investigate. 

“What is it?” 

“It's a box,” said Sir Eustace. “Some blithering idiot has dumped their
luggage right in everyone's way. I could have had an accident.” 

“Some people have no consideration,” agreed the dragon. “Wonder who it
belongs to?” 

Sir Eustace got down off his horse and went to have a closer look. It
was a small wooden, ironbound box, about two foot by eighteen inches. 
Burnt on the lid in large letters were the words 


“No name on it.” 

“Perhaps the address is inside the lid,” suggested the dragon.  “Have to
open it to find out.” 

They looked at one another. 

“After you,” said the dragon, politely. 

Sir Eustace shook his head. “No thanks, I don't meddle with strange
boxes. No knowing what might be in there.” 

“You're scared!” cried Snowdrop. 

“I have a well-developed sense of self-preservation,” said Eustace.
“Anyway, we're nearly at Toadsley Bottom. Let's take it with us, maybe 
someone there will recognise it.” 

As they drew near the village Snowdrop flew ahead to wait for Sir
Eustace on the other side. They had found that the presence of a dragon 
could cause a bit of a stir, and besides it was as well not to appear 
too friendly towards each other in public. 

Eustace made straight for the village inn, the ‘Mad Cow'. As he entered,
the box in his arms, the crowd of yokels inside fell suddenly silent. 
One or two ducked under the tables. Eustace dropped the box on the 

“Pint of bitter, please,” he said. 

“Yessir!”  With trembling hands the landlord pulled a pint. Eustace
turned to survey the cowering peasants. 

“Anyone know anything about this box?” he enquired. “Found it in the

A quavering voice spoke from a corner. 

“That be Mistress Gurney's box.” 

“Who's Mistress Gurney?” 

“Oh, a very respectable lady,” said the landlord. “No-one round here has
a word to say against Mistress Gurney.” 

“Then can you tell me where she lives?” 

There was a short silence. Everyone seemed to be avoiding his eye. He
heard muttering of   “I dunno . . . not one for callers . . . might not 
like it . . . ” 

“Never mind,” said Sir Eustace in exasperation, “I expect the address is
inside the box.” 

The yokels rose as a man and made for the door. Some of them did not

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