Papillon took the dragon's grunts as a Yes and picked his way across the rocks. Lucky for him the ties had snagged on a rock, which kept the sack out of the water.
"What did you find, little fella? Another shoe?"
It wasn't a shoe, although it smelled a bit like an old shoe. It was brown and sort of round. A chestnut? Not at the base of an oak tree. It looked too chewy to be a chestnut in any case. Suddenly Papillon knew what it was.
There were, and Papillon greedily gathered them up.
"You know, I've heard of truffle sniffing pigs and truffle sniffing dogs, but I've never heard of a truffle sniffing dragon. You're pretty special!"
"Come on, little guy. Let's deliver you to the nursery."
"I never meant to take him away. He followed me home yesterday, so I've brought him back."
"And he is unharmed."
"Of course. He has special talents, this one. You should keep him safe."
The little dragon seemed to sense a farewell in the air. He began to cry.
"Good day, Monsieur Papillon," she said. "Is that dragon meat you're bringing me?"
"I come bearing something more precious than dragon meat, Mme. Peapod."
Papillon opened the sack. He beamed. "Truffles, Madame!"
"Yes, I know what they are. Well, well. You are full of surprises, Monsieur Papillon."
Papillon said, "What is that?"
"A cria. A baby alpaca. Her mother is grazing in an upper pasture. The baby is very tame. See? I can climb on her back and ride her."
The penny dropped. This was the herd Mme. Peapod wanted him to tend. Surely that wouldn't be necessary now?
"That's only if I accept the truffles in lieu of dragon meat."
She wouldn't...she couldn't...refuse?
He thought quickly. "If you don't accept them, I will sell them at market myself and bring you the exact amount of money I owe you. How's that?"
"And I extend your credit for their full worth."
"We have a deal, Mme. Peapod."
Ah, but victory is sweet!