Airman by Eoin Colfer

By Eoin Colfer

Conor Broekhart was once born to fly.

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The fire wagon had a ladder hooked on its flank, a rope too. Neither was long enough to reach the king. ’ he muttered, hefting the coiled rope on to his shoulder. ‘Tall towers and short ladders. ’ asked a member of the fire brigade. ’ Vigny jerked a thumb skywards. ’ The fireman frowned. ’ The Frenchman winced. Idiots everywhere. ’ The fireman glanced upwards, catching sight of the king in the window. ‘Do what he says,’ roared Nicholas. ’ ‘Yes, Your Majesty. ’ Victor pointed at the ladder. ’ ‘It won’t reach,’ said the fireman, eager to say something intelligent.

Isabella. I must show her that I am unharmed. ’ He cast his gaze around the courtyard. ‘I don’t see her. I don’t… Of course. Someone has taken her to safety. ’ Victor Vigny did not meet his friend’s gaze, his eyes were directed instead over the king’s shoulder at the tower’s parapet wall. There were two somethings in the midst of the smoke and flame. Two someones. A boy and a girl. Perhaps nine or ten years of age. ‘Mon Dieu,’ breathed the Frenchman. ’ The turret roof was completely gone now apart from ragged blocks round the walls, as though the dragon had grown and now occupied the entire tower.

But, madame, this is impossible. I cannot allow it on my ship. I do not even know if this is good luck or bad luck. I will have to check the aeronaut’s manual. ’ It was Vigny’s habit to chatter wittily when anxious. Wit in times of danger was, in his opinion, very cavalier. This did not stop him performing his duties. He guided the dirigible expertly towards the chosen landing spot, compensating for the leaks with expert tugs on the gas line. On the basket’s cramped floor, Catherine struggled to deliver her child.

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