At the Cocktail Bar, where Aristasians once gathered, music played and drinks were served…

Miss Mina: For as the other pettes savour the decadence of fleeming, I have decided that unless otherwise informed, there is no such thing as an allergy to alcohol in Aristasia. Oh, it’s not that the non-alcy Blonde Bombshell is so unpalatable, really. I suppose it could get a bit sickly, but I find it is greatly improved by being taken in little sips from a coffee spoon, like cod liver oil. I have been getting some funny looks though…

Now about the drink. Perhaps I ought to have something really dramatic – to celebrate my shocking conversion to Vice (after all, I do sometimes worry that I’m a bit too much of a good girl). I wonder; can the Cocktail Bar furnish that mysterious, exotic beverage of legend, the Golden Dragon?

Miss Mehitabelle: We are pleased beyond pleasure by your grace and charm. But from sugar and cream to a Golden Dragon? Do you not, as they say in Miralene, climb the mountain with a single step? Do drink it carefully, I beg you, for I have heard they are no light matter. Nor will you find ours so perfect as those from Rayapurh, but Miss Ithelia is kind enough to tell us that they are, which means, I dare to hope that they are not so very bad.

Dear bar-blonde, a Golden Dragon for Miss Mina, and in the proper goblet.

Miss Ellhedrine: Golden Dragons do look delightful. Can I smell yours? Ooh! just the scent makes me quite squiffy. And gosh, they’re three shillings! Imagine a drink being three shillings! I suppose that is because it comes all the way from Rayapurh or somewhere.

Another day…

Miss Mina: And now I shall relate without further ado the sorry tale of my first exercise in social imbibement. In attempting that hoary Golden Dragon, well, I not only climbed the mountain with a single step – I fear I fell right into the volcano. Oh, it was most exquisite, and queerly aetheriel – so that it was all I could do to be sure I had really drunk any – which was quite possibly the reason for the eventual disappearance of nearly all the goblet’s contents. So Miss Ellhedrine! We should both be thankful that I hadn’t the shekels to buy one for your sweet self – as I had been naturally inclined to do after you expressed such awe and “squiffy”ness at the sight and scent. For I can attest that it is a powerful substance indeed. Although I swear I felt just fine when I left for home… And as for what happened when I did get home… Well, I hung my coat up, took a little compact from my beaded bag, and looked. But instead of my face, all I could see in the mirror was a silken golden mist. I peered resolutely into it, and found I could make out what appeared to be scales – or, as I peered closer – fiery-gold chainmail… And then a figure slowly turning toward me, occupying all my field of vision…

Of course, I promptly fainted. Fortunately Evangeline heard the compact crash to the floor, and came rushing in. She went flying then about the house, upturning all-and-sundry in search of her 1903 ‘Home Notes’ annual, which at last she found – and I was eventually revived with the reliable “Remedy for Fits and Swooning Spells.”

Could it be, I consider now, that the Golden Dragon is one of the most decisive Aristasian sex-determination tests as ever there was? If so it ought to come with instructions. (‘Brunettes: Partake of the Golden Dragon without recourse to the smelling salts. Blondes: Experience abnormal phenomena and lie in for a week, resting languidly in yards and yards of something rather pale and diaphanous…’)

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