Adelaide and Beatrice were taking a break from their work when Gwendolyn brought a thick filing folder out to them. The three had been working under the Professor’s guidance for a little over a month and had already helped him write two small, published works. “Look at this. This is an old project Professor had in his files. I found it while he and I were sorting through his old boxes of papers. He’d started some work on it but… well, it wasn’t long after that he quit and came here. Read the old poem and tell me what you think.”
Aye, dragoness, tho dull with sleep, I ken why ye did abide.
'Tis fearful that like as thee be known soft hearted to a human hide.
My armor I shall lay aside, my former arts retire.
Bold silvered knight I shall be no more
For I've warmed by a dragon's fire.
Thy secret shall ne'er escape these lips nor be writ to ary tome.
Save only upon my heart thy words shall lie as precious stone.
I shall not seek nor call for thee
Nor make on thee ary claim
But may some night ye come as I sleep and whisper to me thy name.
'Tis all I ask of thee, this thing, and that on one night ye wake me.
That on the night that I shall die a tear in thine eye I may see.
The two took a minute to read it over and then Adeliade said, “Huh. It’s weird. Some of it makes sense but… the rest… the parts about a dragon?”
“Seems like silliness, doesn’t it?” Gwendolyn looked at the two as if revealing a conspiracy. “But, according to the old report, this was extremely well hidden and protected from weather. That suggests there was something important about it.”
“It wasn’t just scribbled either,” Adelaide admitted. “That photo looks like the manuscript was carefully formatted and written.”
Gwendolyn smiled; she had their interest. “Yep. The article’s authors concluded the dragon was actually some important Lady at court but… the rest of the poem doesn’t make sense that way. The only way all the lines make sense, all hang together, is if you assume it was written about a dragon. A literal fantastical creature.
Adelaide raised an eyebrow. “Or maybe someone who called themselves a dragon.”
Beatrice shook her head. “No. If it were an important personage, wouldn’t the writer have known their name? Sure they would! Yet the… tenth line asks to someday learn her name.”
Gwendolyn patted Beatrice on the head, approvingly. “Good girl! Apparently there was at least one person in the old studies that noticed the same things. Professor said it was his ancestor. That’s how we have this original copy of journal; it was handed down. I think he meant to someday resurrect this. Maybe support the ancestor’s work somehow. Anyway, the original manuscript itself was destroyed in London during a bombing raid. The entire building was burned out.”
“Second World War?” Beatrice asked.
“First,” said Gwendolyn. “All the journal’s records and equipment were lost. After the war, it never resumed publication. Many of the staff were casualties in the trench warfare. Then right after the war, the Spanish Flu swept over everywhere leaving twice as many more dead. The journal, the manuscript, it was all forgotten.”
“Everyone was too busy rebuilding,” Beatrice said, quietly.
Adelaide tapped her nails on the table for a few seconds and then gave the other two a conspiratorial grin. “Why don’t we take a run at it, just us three, and then take it to him to see what he thinks of it?”
“I hoped you might say something like that,” Gwendolyn said.