HAVING BABIES

Oriental Dragons laid their eggs on banks of rivers or lakes. The hen-sized eggs looked like beautiful stones and took a thousand years to hatch. The eggs hatch during a lightning storm.

When the first crack appeared in an egg, the parents each cried out. The father's cry whipped up the winds, and the mother's cry calmed them. Lashing rain and booming thunder rocked the world as the egg burst open and the young dragon was born.

Unlike the European Dragon and other Oriental Dragons, Chinese dragons lay only a single egg, which they carry about, often beneath the chin, rather than lay a clutch of eggs and incubate them in a dry place. However, in both species the eggs are exceptionally hard and stone like and may require many months to hatch. The egg in its early stages is usually white and resembles a pearl, but late in incubation it changes to a golden, or even a reddish-gold, hue.

It took fifteen hundred years to become a full-grown lung, another five hundred to grow horns, and a thousand more to develop wings.

Fortunately, since the maturation process takes such a long time, Eastern Dragons mate frequently. The female usually gives birth to nine at a time. Each baby differs. The first sounds like a bell, the second like a harp, the third is always thirsty, the fourth loves to climb, the fifth is a fighter, number six is a scholar, the seventh has keen hearing, the eighth just sits around, and the ninth is a weight lifter.

Images of these nine dragons decorate various objects, for example, the weight lifter is carved on the bottom of monuments; the fighter, on sword handles; the thirsty one is painted on drinking cups, and the scholar-dragon is printed on textbooks. Some dragons lay eggs near mountain streams, and then desert them. The hen-sized eggs look like beautiful stones. The eggs hatch when lightning flashes in the sky.