Janni And The Draken

: The Grey Fairy Book

Once there was a man who shunned the world, and lived in the

wilderness. He owned nothing but a flock of sheep, whose milk and

wool he sold, and so procured himself bread to eat; he also

carried wooden spoons, and sold them. He had a wife and one

little girl, and after a long time his wife had another child.

The evening it was born the man went to the nearest village to

fetch a nurse, and on the way he met a monk who b
gged him for a

night's lodging. This the man willingly granted, and took him

home with him. There being no one far nor near to baptize the

child, the man asked the monk to do him this service, and the

child was given the name of Janni.

In the course of time Janni's parents died, and he and his sister

were left alone in the world; soon affairs went badly with them,

so they determined to wander away to seek their fortune. In

packing up, the sister found a knife which the monk had left for

his godson, and this she gave to her brother.

Then they went on their way, taking with them the three sheep

which were all that remained of their flocks. After wandering for

three days they met a man with three dogs who proposed that they

should exchange animals, he taking the sheep, and they the dogs.

The brother and sister were quite pleased at this arrangement,

and after the exchange was made they separated, and went their

different ways.

Janni and his sister in course of time came to a great castle, in

which dwelt forty Draken, who, when they heard that Janni had

come, fled forty fathoms underground.

So Janni found the castle deserted, and abode there with his

sister, and every day went out to hunt with the weapons the

Draken had left in the castle.

One day, when he was away hunting, one of the Draken came up to

get provisions, not knowing that there was anyone in the castle.

When he saw Janni's sister he was terrified, but she told him not

to be afraid, and by-and-by they fell in love with each other,

for every time that Janni went to hunt the sister called the

Drakos up. Thus they went on making love to each other till at

length, unknown to Janni, they got married. Then, when it was too

late, the sister repented, and was afraid of Janni's wrath when

he found it out.

One day the Drakos came to her, and said: ‘You must pretend to be

ill, and when Janni asks what ails you, and what you want, you

must answer: "Cherries," and when he inquires where these are to

be found, you must say: "There are some in a garden a day's

journey from here." Then your brother will go there, and will

never come back, for there dwell three of my brothers who will

look after him well.'

Then the sister did as the Drakos advised, and next day Janni set

out to fetch the cherries, taking his three dogs with him. When

he came to the garden where the cherries grew he jumped off his

horse, drank some water from the spring, which rose there, and

fell directly into a deep sleep. The Draken came round about to

eat him, but the dogs flung themselves on them and tore them in

pieces, and scratched a grave in the ground with their paws, and

buried the Draken so that Janni might not see their dead bodies.

When Janni awoke, and saw his dogs all covered with blood, he

believed that they had caught, somewhere, a wild beast, and was

angry because they had left none of it for him. But he plucked

the cherries, and took them back to his sister.

When the Drakos heard that Janni had come back, he fled for fear

forty fathoms underground. And the sister ate the cherries and

declared herself well again.

The next day, when Janni was gone to hunt, the Drakos came out,

and advised the sister that she should pretend to be ill again,

and when her brother asked her what she would like, she should

answer ‘Quinces,' and when he inquired where these were to be

found, she should say: ‘In a garden distant about two days'

journey.' Then would Janni certainly be destroyed, for there

dwelt six brothers of the Drakos, each of whom had two heads.

The sister did as she was advised, and next day Janni again set

off, taking his three dogs with him. When he came to the garden

he dismounted, sat down to rest a little, and fell fast asleep.

First there came three Draken round about to eat him, and when

these three had been worried by the dogs, there came three others

who were worried in like manner. Then the dogs again dug a grave

and buried the dead Draken, that their master might not see them.

When Janni awoke and beheld the dogs all covered with blood, he

thought, as before, that they had killed a wild beast, and was

again angry with them for leaving him nothing. But he took the

quinces and brought them back to his sister, who, when she had

eaten them, declared herself better. The Drakos, when he heard

that Janni had come back, fled for fear forty fathoms deeper


Next day, when Janni was hunting, the Drakos went to the sister

and advised that she should again pretend to be ill, and should

beg for some pears, which grew in a garden three days' journey

from the castle. From this quest Janni would certainly never

return, for there dwelt nine brothers of the Drakos, each of whom

had three heads.

The sister did as she was told, and next day Janni, taking his

three dogs with him, went to get the pears. When he came to the

garden he laid himself down to rest, and soon fell asleep.

Then first came three Draken to eat him, and when the dogs had

worried these, six others came and fought the dogs a long time.

The noise of this combat awoke Janni, and he slew the Draken, and

knew at last why the dogs were covered with blood.

After that he freed all whom the Draken held prisoners, amongst

others, a king's daughter. Out of gratitude she would have taken

him for her husband; but he put her off, saying: ‘For the

kindness that I have been able to do to you, you shall receive in

this castle all the blind and lame who pass this way.' The

princess promised him to do so, and on his departure gave him a


So Janni plucked the pears and took them to his sister, who, when

she had eaten them, declared she felt better. When, however, the

Drakos heard that Janni had come back yet a third time safe and

sound, he fled for fright forty fathoms deeper underground; and,

next day, when Janni was away hunting, he crept out and said to

the sister: ‘Now are we indeed both lost, unless you find out

from him wherein his strength lies, and then between us we will

contrive to do away with him.'

When, therefore, Janni had come back from hunting, and sat at

evening with his sister by the fire, she begged him to tell her

wherein lay his strength, and he answered: ‘It lies in my two

fingers; if these are bound together then all my strength


‘That I will not believe,' said the sister, ‘unless I see it for


Then he let her tie his fingers together with a thread, and

immediately he became powerless. Then the sister called up the

Drakos, who, when he had come forth, tore out Janni's eyes, gave

them to his dogs to eat, and threw him into a dry well.

Now it happened that some travellers, going to draw water from

this well, heard Janni groaning at the bottom. They came near,

and asked him where he was, and he begged them to draw him up

from the well, for he was a poor unfortunate man.

The travellers let a rope down and drew him up to daylight. It

was not till then that he first became aware that he was blind,

and he begged the travellers to lead him to the country of the

king whose daughter he had freed, and they would be well repaid

for their trouble.

When they had brought him there he sent to beg the princess to

come to him; but she did not recognise him till he had shown her

the ring she had given him.

Then she remembered him, and took him with her into the castle.

When she learnt what had befallen him she called together all the

sorceresses in the country in order that they should tell her

where the eyes were. At last she found one who declared that she

knew where they were, and that she could restore them. This

sorceress then went straight to the castle where dwelt the sister

and the Drakos, and gave something to the dogs to eat which

caused the eyes to reappear. She took them with her and put them

back in Janni's head, so that he saw as well as before.

Then he returned to the castle of the Drakos, whom he slew as

well as his sister; and, taking his dogs with him, went back to

the princess and they were immediately married.