“Of course not,” said the young night who followed her.
“It’s always a jolly lot of fun.” Mrs. Plumtree said brightly. “Getting’ snatched and all that. Old Gumms back there is always real careful and hasn’t torn my dress once but four times.”
The middle aged woman gave a hearty laugh at her clever Irish satire and the knight smiled grimly as the path narrowed and they edged along a sharp cliff.
“Are you sure?” the knight asked as the path finally started to level out, “that I don’t need to go back and actually, you know, slay the dragon?”
“What?” Mrs. Plumtree demanded with a snort. “Slay Old Gumms? Are ye’ daft?”
“Well it is the usual thing,” the knight said.
“Well it’s the usual thing for dragons to snatch fair maids ain’t it?” Mrs. Plumtree demanded. “And I might'a been fair enough back in the day. My Jack thought so at least but he can swear to the fact that I ain’t no maid. I got four soldiers in the Queen’s Red to prove that now don’t I?”
“Right you are,” the knight muttered as they approached his horse. He had heard enough of that on the walk down.
“Naw my young Sir!” Mrs. Plumtree said brightly. “That bright pig sticker would’na have done a bit to Old Gumms. His hide is tougher that old Widow Smith’s pastry.”
“Are you ready to mount up?” The knight said, kneeling to offer his knee to aid the portly woman.
Mrs. Plumtree burst into raucous laughter and shook her head. “Up on that terrible beast? Not on your life young Sir! No, I’ll trot on home on my own two legs. Good day Sir.”
The knight stared blankly out after the woman and wondered idly why on earth the Queen had even bothered sending him on this quest. Mrs. Plumtree seemed to have the situation well in hand.