Reggie was already at work in the garage, a wooden outbuilding that had once been the Hall’s stables. It still smelled like horses. This was a problem for Reggie because it made him think about things. It made him think about living things, and what it would be like to chase them down and make them non-living things.
Most days he could keep those thoughts under control. Some days, however, they tended to overwhelm his discipline. There’s a reason why most people would choose, given the option, not to be a werewolf. That reason is called the full moon. It was close, that moon. Only a few days away.
Reggie worked very industriously at polishing the headlights of the Packard Eight. He was going to make them gleam.
When Neville and Mrs. Patavatsky stormed into the garage he was so surprised he knocked over the bottle of metal polish and it spilled everywhere. At least the smell of it helped mask the smell of horses. “Are we heading out?” he asked, wondering where Neville wanted to go so early in the morning. Then he noticed Neville was still wearing his pyjamas.
“Mrs. P has something to tell us about this Pinemont Dragon,” Neville said. He was nearly bouncing up and down in excitement.
“Is no dragon. Is myth,” Mrs. P said, which perhaps should have ended the conversation rather than started it. But Neville was persistent. “As long as can remember, drunken men die in Pinemont. They climb up these tall trees, then jump out.”
“Like the guy we saw yesterday,” Reggie said.
“Yes! Which could just be coincidence, but—Mrs. P, how often does this happen?”
The housekeeper shrugged. “Many fools in world, much drink is had.” Reggie couldn’t fault that logic, having been the object of it more than once. “How often these fools jump from trees? Say, one time in month. Is not like this in New York City?”
“There’s less trees there.” Reggie put down his polishing cloth. “Still. Once a month. For years. Someone dies after being dropped from a height. In a town with a population of three thousand.” He took a long breath. Blew it out again. “Boss—”
“What if there is a dragon?” Neville asked.
“Is impossible,” Mrs. P averred. “Problem is inverse square law. Big lizard, he weighs too much, cannot get free of ground. Yes? Is basic science, proved by Soviet learned men many times. Is too big, cannot fly.”
“What if there is such a thing as a dragon?” Neville asked again. “And it happens to live right here, in our new home town?”
“Boss,” Reggie said again, though without much hope.
“This is exactly why we came here, Reggie.” Neville had a bad habit of saying “we” when he was trying to justify his fascinations. “Why we came to Grimbly Hall. To create a haven for those like us. The lost and the strange. I admit, I had more bipedal refugees in mind, but—Reggie! What if there really is a dragon! A dragon!”
“A… dragon?” Neville tried one last time.
“Is no dragon. Is myth. Wing load ratios, this impossible,” Mrs. P said.
Eventually, of course, they dropped it again. Neville was a creature of strong enthusiasms. Few of them lasted particularly long before the next one arrived. Reggie had most of a day to pretend like this one would evanesce just the same.
Until the next morning when he came down for breakfast, and found Neville in the front hall, surrounded by packing crates. Excelsior strewed the marble floor and a crowbar had been tossed into the umbrella stand.
It was hardly unusual for packages and crates and bundles and parcels to show up at Grimbly Hall, often in great profusion. Neville was a very rich man and like most very rich men he bought many more things than he technically needed. So finding him sitting on the floor surrounded by open boxes as if it were Christmas morning was hardly surprising. Yet Reggie’s heart fell a little when he saw just what Neville had purchased this time.
A pith helmet and a full set of safari clothes, khaki shorts and a linen shirt covered in pockets. Several pairs of binoculars and a complete camera set-up with tripods, long lenses, and flash bulbs. And standing in the middle of the marble floor, looking like it very much wanted to ask where the powder room might be, a kid goat with tiny nubbins in way of horns.
“Golfing today?” Reggie asked, hopefully.
Neville took up a pair of binoculars and peered at Reggie through them. He had them the wrong way round. “I thought I might take up bird watching,” he said.