(2) “So,” began Montgomery

“So,” began Montgomery thoughtfully as they neared his country home. “Why did you call the dragon a she? Could you tell?” He glanced to his right at Darren as they both took long strides eastward. Their shadows stretched long before them as the sun finished its descent.
“Not a clue,” answered Darren cheerfully. “I figured I had a 50/50 chance of being right. When you didn’t correct me I assumed I was.” He had gotten most of the leaves out of his hair and clothes and in the fading light you couldn’t see his messy attire.

“Well,” replied Montgomery slowly, “The thing is, I don’t feel quite right about killing a female.” Eyebrows furrowed and mouth pursed, he seemed to be quite put out. He studied the ground as they walked, deep in thought.

“Well,” Darren replied carefully, “I see how that could be upsetting. I mean, in general killing a woman is considered worse than killing a man.” At this he stopped to consider his words. Montgomery was a smart fellow but could take things personally, and Darren didn’t want his friend weighted down by what were completely necessary actions.

“Perhaps,” said Darren as inspiration struck, “you should consider it like butchering a cow.”

Montgomery looked up in surprise. “A cow? You say a dragon is like a cow?” He paused. “Ah. I understand. Utters.”

“Exactly!” Darren responded with enthusiasm. “We get our milk from cows and butcher them as necessary. Yet they’re women. We even kill their babes!” At that he paused. “This conversation is actually starting to concern me a little,” he muttered, and he unknowingly copied Montgomery in furrowing his brows and staring intently at the ground.

“No, I think you’re on to something,” protested Montgomery. “We were defending our lives from the dragon and even if she was a she, which we don’t know, that doesn’t make her, or him, less or more dangerous than she or he was.” He paused his walking to get his bearings. They were within sight of the large estate house and soon would probably be hailed by one of the guards on patrol near the building.

“It’s not like we did anything bad,” Montgomery continued. “We killed a beast that could have injured or killed any luckless wanderer. I mean, if anyone had been walking alone through the middle of the woods without any means of defense…” Here he trailed off. “Well what I mean to say is, you never know when a dragon could kill someone. And it’s not like we walked into its home” He paused again. “Well whether or not we walked into its home, it was a danger. Better to be rid of it before it caused anyone any harm.”

“Right, right,” Darren nodded seriously. “Better to kill it before it kills us. We were protecting innocent lives. It’s not like dragons are important or anything.”

“A biologist, you say?”

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