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How The Dragon Was Tricked

from The Pink Fairy Book





From Griechtsche und Albanesische Marchen, von J. G. von Hahn. (Leipzig:
Engelmann. 1864.)


Once upon a time there lived a man who had two sons but they did not
get on at all well together, for the younger was much handsomer than his
elder brother who was very jealous of him. When they grew older, things
became worse and worse, and at last one day as they were walking through
a wood the elder youth seized hold of the other, tied him to a tree, and
went on his way hoping that the boy might starve to death.

However, it happened that an old and humpbacked shepherd passed the tree
with his flock, and seeing the prisoner, he stopped and said to him,
'Tell me, my son why are you tied to that tree?'

'Because I was so crooked,' answered the young man; 'but it has quite
cured me, and now my back is as straight as can be.'

'I wish you would bind me to a tree,' exclaimed the shepherd, 'so that
my back would get straight.'

'With all the pleasure in life,' replied the youth. 'If you will loosen
these cords I will tie you up with them as firmly as I can.'

This was soon done, and then the young man drove off the sheep, leaving
their real shepherd to repent of his folly; and before he had gone very
far he met with a horse boy and a driver of oxen, and he persuaded them
to turn with him and to seek for adventures.

By these and many other tricks he soon became so celebrated that his
fame reached the king's ears, and his majesty was filled with curiosity
to see the man who had managed to outwit everybody. So he commanded his
guards to capture the young man and bring him before him.

And when the young man stood before the king, the king spoke to him
and said, 'By your tricks and the pranks that you have played on other
people, you have, in the eye of the law, forfeited your life. But on one
condition I will spare you, and that is, if you will bring me the flying
horse that belongs to the great dragon. Fail in this, and you shall be
hewn in a thousand pieces.'

'If that is all,' said the youth, 'you shall soon have it.'

So he went out and made his way straight to the stable where the flying
horse was tethered. He stretched his hand cautiously out to seize the
bridle, when the horse suddenly began to neigh as loud as he could. Now
the room in which the dragon slept was just above the stable, and at
the sound of the neighing he woke and cried to the horse, 'What is the
matter, my treasure? is anything hurting you?' After waiting a little
while the young man tried again to loose the horse, but a second time it
neighed so loudly that the dragon woke up in a hurry and called out
to know why the horse was making such a noise. But when the same thing
happened the third time, the dragon lost his temper, and went down
into the stable and took a whip and gave the horse a good beating. This
offended the horse and made him angry, and when the young man stretched
out his hand to untie his head, he made no further fuss, but suffered
himself to be led quietly away. Once clear of the stable the young man
sprang on his back and galloped off, calling over his shoulder, 'Hi!
dragon! dragon! if anyone asks you what has become of your horse, you
can say that I have got him!'


But the king said, 'The flying horse is all very well, but I want
something more. You must bring me the covering with the little bells
that lies on the bed of the dragon, or I will have you hewn into a
thousand pieces.'

'Is that all?' answered the youth. 'That is easily done.'

And when night came he went away to the dragon's house and climbed up on
to the roof. Then he opened a little window in the roof and let down
the chain from which the kettle usually hung, and tried to hook the bed
covering and to draw it up. But the little bells all began to ring, and
the dragon woke and said to his wife, 'Wife, you have pulled off all the
bed-clothes!' and drew the covering towards him, pulling, as he did so,
the young man into the room. Then the dragon flung himself on the
youth and bound him fast with cords saying as he tied the last knot,
'To-morrow when I go to church you must stay at home and kill him and
cook him, and when I get back we will eat him together.'

So the following morning the dragoness took hold of the young man and
reached down from the shelf a sharp knife with which to kill him. But as
she untied the cords the better to get hold of him, the prisoner caught
her by the legs, threw her to the ground, seized her and speedily cut
her throat, just as she had been about to do for him, and put her body
in the oven. Then he snatched up the covering and carried it to the
king.

The king was seated on his throne when the youth appeared before him and
spread out the covering with a deep bow. 'That is not enough,' said his
majesty; 'you must bring me the dragon himself, or I will have you hewn
into a thousand pieces.'

'It shall be done,' answered the youth; 'but you must give me two years
to manage it, for my beard must grow so that he may not know me.'

'So be it,' said the king.

And the first thing the young man did when his beard was grown was to
take the road to the dragon's house and on the way he met a beggar, whom
he persuaded to change clothes with him, and in the beggar's garments he
went fearlessly forth to the dragon.

He found his enemy before his house, very busy making a box, and
addressed him politely, 'Good morning, your worship. Have you a morsel
of bread?'

'You must wait,' replied the dragon, 'till I have finished my box, and
then I will see if I can find one.'

'What will you do with the box when it is made?' inquired the beggar.

'It is for the young man who killed my wife, and stole my flying horse
and my bed covering,' said the dragon.


'He deserves nothing better,' answered the beggar, 'for it was an ill
deed. Still that box is too small for him, for he is a big man.'

'You are wrong,' said the dragon. 'The box is large enough even for me.'

'Well, the rogue is nearly as tall as you,' replied the beggar, 'and,
of course, if you can get in, he can. But I am sure you would find it a
tight fit.'

'No, there is plenty of room,' said the dragon, tucking himself
carefully inside.

But no sooner was he well in, than the young man clapped on the lid and
called out, 'Now press hard, just to see if he will be able to get out.'

The dragon pressed as hard as he could, but the lid never moved.

'It is all right,' he cried; 'now you can open it.'

But instead of opening it, the young man drove in long nails to make it
tighter still; then he took the box on his back and brought it to the
king. And when the king heard that the dragon was inside, he was so
excited that he would not wait one moment, but broke the lock and lifted
the lid just a little way to make sure he was really there. He was
very careful not to leave enough space for the dragon to jump out, but
unluckily there was just room for his great mouth, and with one snap
the king vanished down his wide red jaws. Then the young man married the
king's daughter and ruled over the land, but what he did with the dragon
nobody knows.




The Pink Fairy BookThe Goblin and the Grocer

Translated from the German of Hans Andersen.


There was once a hard-working student who lived in an attic, and he had
nothing in the world of his own. There was also a hard-working grocer
who lived on the first floor, and he had the whole house for his own.

The Goblin belonged to him, for every Christmas Eve there was waiting
for him at the grocer's a dish of jam with a large lump of butter in the
middle.

The grocer could afford this, so the Goblin stayed in the grocer's shop;
and this teaches us a good deal. One evening the student came in by the
back door to buy a candle and some cheese; he had no one to send, so he
came himself.


He got what he wanted, paid for it, and nodded a good evening to the
grocer and his wife (she was a woman who could do more than nod; she
could talk).

When the student had said good night he suddenly stood still, reading
the sheet of paper in which the cheese had been wrapped.

It was a leaf torn out of an old book--a book of poetry

'There's more of that over there!' said the grocer 'I gave an old woman
some coffee for the book. If you like to give me twopence you can have
the rest.'

'Yes,' said the student, 'give me the book instead of the cheese. I can
eat my bread without cheese. It would be a shame to leave the book to
be torn up. You are a clever and practical man, but about poetry you
understand as much as that old tub over there!'

And that sounded rude as far as the tub was concerned, but the grocer
laughed, and so did the student. It was only said in fun.

But the Goblin was angry that anyone should dare to say such a thing to
a grocer who owned the house and sold the best butter.

When it was night and the shop was shut, and everyone was in bed except
the student, the Goblin went upstairs and took the grocer's wife's
tongue. She did not use it when she was asleep, and on whatever object
in the room he put it that thing began to speak, and spoke out its
thoughts and feelings just as well as the lady to whom it belonged. But
only one thing at a time could use it, and that was a good thing, or
they would have all spoken together.

The Goblin laid the tongue on the tub in which were the old newspapers.

'Is it true,' he asked, ' that you know nothing about poetry?'

'Certainly not!' answered the tub. 'Poetry is something that is in the
papers, and that is frequently cut out. I have a great deal more in
me than the student has, and yet I am only a small tub in the grocer's
shop.'

And the Goblin put the tongue on the coffee-mill, and how it began to
grind! He put it on the butter-cask, and on the till, and all were
of the same opinion as the waste-paper tub. and one must believe the
majority.

'Now I will tell the student!' and with these words he crept softly up
the stairs to the attic where the student lived.

There was a light burning, and the Goblin peeped through the key-hole
and saw that he was reading the torn book that he had bought in the
shop.


But how bright it was! Out of the book shot a streak of light which grew
into a large tree and spread its branches far above the student. Every
leaf was alive, and every flower was a beautiful girl's head, some with
dark and shining eyes, others with wonderful blue ones. Every fruit was
a glittering star, and there was a marvellous music in the student's
room. The little Goblin had never even dreamt of such a splendid sight,
much less seen it.

He stood on tiptoe gazing and gazing, till the candle in the attic
was put out; the student had blown it out and had gone to bed, but the
Goblin remained standing outside listening to the music, which very
softly and sweetly was now singing the student a lullaby.

'I have never seen anything like this!' said the Goblin. 'I never
expected this! I must stay with the student.'

The little fellow thought it over, for he was a sensible Goblin. Then he
sighed, 'The student has no jam!'

And on that he went down to the grocer again. And it was a good thing
that he did go back, for the tub had nearly worn out the tongue. It had
read everything that was inside it, on the one side, and was just going
to turn itself round and read from the other side when the Goblin came
in and returned the tongue to its owner.

But the whole shop, from the till down to the shavings, from that night
changed their opinion of the tub, and they looked up to it, and had such
faith in it that they were under the impression that when the grocer
read the art and drama critiques out of the paper in the evenings, it
all came from the tub.

But the Goblin could no longer sit quietly listening to the wisdom and
intellect downstairs. No, as soon as the light shone in the evening
from the attic it seemed to him as though its beams were strong ropes
dragging him up, and he had to go and peep through the key-hole. There
he felt the sort of feeling we have looking at the great rolling sea in
a storm, and he burst into tears. He could not himself say why he wept,
but in spite of his tears he felt quite happy. How beautiful it must be
to sit under that tree with the student, but that he could not do; he
had to content himself with the key-hole and be happy there!

There he stood out on the cold landing, the autumn wind blowing through
the cracks of the floor. It was cold--very cold, but he first found it
out when the light in the attic was put out and the music in the wood
died away. Ah! then it froze him, and he crept down again into his warm
corner; there it was comfortable and cosy.

When Christmas came, and with it the jam with the large lump of butter,
ah! then the grocer was first with him.

But in the middle of the night the Goblin awoke, hearing a great noise
and knocking against the shutters--people hammering from outside. The
watchman was blowing his horn: a great fire had broken out; the whole
town was in flames.

Was it in the house? or was it at a neighbour's? Where was it?

The alarm increased. The grocer's wife was so terrified that she took
her gold earrings out of her ears and put them in her pocket in order
to save something. The grocer seized his account books. and the maid her
black silk dress.

Everyone wanted to save his most valuable possession; so did the Goblin,
and in a few leaps he was up the stairs and in the student's room. He
was standing quietly by the open window looking at the fire that was
burning in the neighbour's house just opposite. The Goblin seized the
book lying on the table, put it in his red cap, and clasped it with both
hands. The best treasure in the house was saved, and he climbed out on
to the roof with it--on to the chimney. There he sat, lighted up by the
flames from the burning house opposite, both hands holding tightly on
his red cap, in which lay the treasure; and now he knew what his heart
really valued most--to whom he really belonged. But when the fire was
put out, and the Goblin thought it over--then--

'I will divide myself between the two,' he said. 'I cannot quite give up
the grocer, because of the jam!'

And it is just the same with us. We also cannot quite give up the
grocer--because of the jam.





Next: The House In The Wood

Previous: The Cat's Elopement



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