Shepherd Paul

: The Crimson Fairy Book

Once upon a time a shepherd was taking his flock out to pasture, when he

found a little baby lying in a meadow, left there by some wicked person,

who thought it was too much trouble to look after it. The shepherd was

fond of children, so he took the baby home with him and gave it plenty

of milk, and by the time the boy was fourteen he could tear up oaks

as if they were weeds. Then Paul, as the shepherd had called him, grew
/> tired of living at home, and went out into the world to try his luck.

He walked on for many miles, seeing nothing that surprised him, but in

an open space of the wood he was astonished at finding a man combing

trees as another man would comb flax.

'Good morning, friend,' said Paul; 'upon my word, you must be a strong


The man stopped his work and laughed. 'I am Tree Comber,' he answered

proudly; 'and the greatest wish of my life is to wrestle with Shepherd


'May all your wishes be fulfilled as easily, for I am Shepherd Paul,

and can wrestle with you at once,' replied the lad; and he seized Tree

Comber and flung him with such force to the ground that he sank up

to his knees in the earth. However, in a moment he was up again, and

catching hold of Paul, threw him so that he sank up to his waist; but

then it was Paul's turn again, and this time the man was buried up to

his neck. 'That is enough,' cried he; 'I see you are a smart fellow, let

us become friends.'

'Very good,' answered Paul, and they continued their journey together.

By-and-by they reached a man who was grinding stones to powder in his

hands, as if they had been nuts.

'Good morning,' said Paul politely; 'upon my word, you must be a strong


'I am Stone Crusher,' answered the man, and the greatest wish of my life

is to wrestle with Shepherd Paul.'

'May all your wishes be as easily fulfilled, for I am Shepherd Paul, and

will wrestle with you at once,' and the sport began. After a short time

the man declared himself beaten, and begged leave to go with them; so

they all three travelled together.

A little further on they came upon a man who was kneading iron as if

it had been dough. 'Good morning,' said Paul, 'you must be a strong


'I am Iron Kneader, and should like to fight Shepherd Paul,' answered


'Let us begin at once then,' replied Paul; and on this occasion also,

Paul got the better of his foe, and they all four continued their


At midday they entered a forest, and Paul stopped suddenly. 'We three

will go and look for game,' he said, 'and you, Tree Comber, will stay

behind and prepare a good supper for us.' So Tree Comber set to work to

boil and roast, and when dinner was nearly ready, a little dwarf with

a pointed beard strolled up to the place. 'What are you cooking?' asked

he, 'give me some of it.'

'I'll give you some on your back, if you like,' answered Tree Comber

rudely. The dwarf took no notice, but waited patiently till the dinner

was cooked, then suddenly throwing Tree Comber on the ground, he ate

up the contents of the saucepan and vanished. Tree Comber felt rather

ashamed of himself, and set about boiling some more vegetables, but

they were still very hard when the hunters returned, and though they

complained of his bad cooking, he did not tell them about the dwarf.

Next day Stone Crusher was left behind, and after him Iron Kneader, and

each time the dwarf appeared, and they fared no better than Tree Comber

had done. The fourth day Paul said to them: 'My friends, there must be

some reason why your cooking has always been so bad, now you shall go

and hunt and I will stay behind.' So they went off, amusing themselves

by thinking what was in store for Paul.

He set to work at once, and had just got all his vegetables simmering in

the pot when the dwarf appeared as before, and asked to have some of the

stew. 'Be off,' cried Paul, snatching up the saucepan as he spoke. The

dwarf tried to get hold of his collar, but Paul seized him by the

beard, and tied him to a big tree so that he could not stir, and went

on quietly with his cooking. The hunters came back early, longing to see

how Paul had got on, and, to their surprise, dinner was quite ready for


'You are great useless creatures,' said he, 'who couldn't even outwit

that little dwarf. When we have finished supper I will show you what I

have done with him!' But when they reached the place where Paul had left

the dwarf, neither he nor the tree was to be seen, for the little fellow

had pulled it up by the roots and run away, dragging it after him. The

four friends followed the track of the tree and found that it ended in

a deep hole. 'He must have gone down here,' said Paul, 'and I will go

after him. See! there is a basket that will do for me to sit in, and a

cord to lower me with. But when I pull the cord again, lose no time in

drawing the basket up.'

And he stepped into the basket, which was lowered by his friends.

At last it touched the ground and he jumped out and looked about him. He

was in a beautiful valley, full of meadows and streams, with a splendid

castle standing by. As the door was open he walked in, but a lovely

maiden met him and implored him to go back, for the owner of the castle

was a dragon with six heads, who had stolen her from her home and

brought her down to this underground spot. But Paul refused to listen to

all her entreaties, and declared that he was not afraid of the dragon,

and did not care how many heads he had; and he sat down calmly to wait

for him.

In a little while the dragon came in, and all the long teeth in his six

heads chattered with anger at the sight of the stranger.

'I am Shepherd Paul,' said the young man, 'and I have come to fight you,

and as I am in a hurry we had better begin at once.'

'Very good,' answered the dragon. 'I am sure of my supper, but let us

have a mouthful of something first, just to give us an appetite.'

Whereupon he began to eat some huge boulders as if they had been cakes,

and when he had quite finished, he offered Paul one. Paul was not fond

of boulders, but he took a wooden knife and cut one in two, then

he snatched up both halves in his hands and threw them with all his

strength at the dragon, so that two out of the six heads were smashed

in. At this the dragon, with a mighty roar, rushed upon Paul, but he

sprang on one side, and with a swinging blow cut off two of the other

heads. Then, seizing the monster by the neck, he dashed the remaining

heads against the rock.

When the maiden heard that the dragon was dead, she thanked her

deliverer with tears in her eyes, but told him that her two younger

sisters were in the power of dragons still fiercer and more horrible

than this one. He vowed that his sword should never rest in its sheath

till they were set free, and bade the girl come with him, and show him

the way.

The maiden gladly consented to go with him, but first she gave him a

golden rod, and bade him strike the castle with it. He did so, and it

instantly changed into a golden apple, which he put in his pocket. After

that, they started on their search.

They had not gone far before they reached the castle where the second

girl was confined by the power of the dragon with twelve heads, who had

stolen her from her home. She was overjoyed at the sight of her sister

and of Paul, and brought him a shirt belonging to the dragon, which made

every one who wore it twice as strong as they were before. Scarcely had

he put it on when the dragon came back, and the fight began. Long and

hard was the struggle, but Paul's sword and his shirt helped him, and

the twelve heads lay dead upon the ground.

Then Paul changed the castle into an apple, which he put into his

pocket, and set out with the two girls in search of the third castle.

It was not long before they found it, and within the walls was the third

sister, who was younger and prettier than either of the other two. Her

husband had eighteen heads, but when he quitted the lower regions for

the surface of the earth, he left them all at home except one, which he

changed for the head of a little dwarf, with a pointed beard.

The moment that Paul knew that this terrible dragon was no other than

the dwarf whom he had tied to the tree, he longed more than ever to fly

at his throat. But the thought of the eighteen heads warned him to be

careful, and the third sister brought him a silk shirt which would make

him ten times stronger than he was before.

He had scarcely put it on, when the whole castle began to shake

violently, and the dragon flew up the steps into the hall.

'Well, my friend, so we meet once more! Have you forgotten me? I am

Shepherd Paul, and I have come to wrestle with you, and to free your

wife from your clutches.'

'Ah, I am glad to see you again,' said the dragon. 'Those were my two

brothers whom you killed, and now your blood shall pay for them.' And he

went into his room to look for his shirt and to drink some magic wine,

but the shirt was on Paul's back, and as for the wine, the girl had

given a cupful to Paul and then had allowed the rest to run out of the


At this the dragon grew rather frightened, but in a moment had

recollected his eighteen heads, and was bold again.

'Come on,' he cried, rearing himself up and preparing to dart all his

heads at once at Paul. But Paul jumped underneath, and gave an upward

cut so that six of the heads went rolling down. They were the best heads

too, and very soon the other twelve lay beside them. Then Paul changed

the castle into an apple, and put it in his pocket. Afterwards he and

the three girls set off for the opening which led upwards to the earth.

The basket was still there, dangling from the rope, but it was only big

enough to hold the three girls, so Paul sent them up, and told them to

be sure and let down the basket for him. Unluckily, at the sight of the

maidens' beauty, so far beyond anything they had ever seen, the friends

forgot all about Paul, and carried the girls straight away into a far

country, so that they were not much better off than before. Meanwhile

Paul, mad with rage at the ingratitude of the three sisters, vowed he

would be revenged upon them, and set about finding some way of getting

back to earth. But it was not very easy, and for months, and months, and

months, he wandered about underground, and, at the end, seemed no nearer

to fulfilling his purpose than he was at the beginning.

At length, one day, he happened to pass the nest of a huge griffin,

who had left her young ones all alone. Just as Paul came along a cloud

containing fire instead of rain burst overhead, and all the little

griffins would certainly have been killed had not Paul spread his cloak

over the nest and saved them. When their father returned the young ones

told him what Paul had done, and he lost no time in flying after Paul,

and asking how he could reward him for his goodness.

'By carrying me up to the earth,' answered Paul; and the griffin agreed,

but first went to get some food to eat on the way, as it was a long


'Now get on my back,' he said to Paul, 'and when I turn my head to the

right, cut a slice off the bullock that hangs on that side, and put it

in my mouth, and when I turn my head to the left, draw a cupful of wine

from the cask that hangs on that side, and pour it down my throat.'

For three days and three nights Paul and the griffin flew upwards, and

on the fourth morning it touched the ground just outside the city where

Paul's friends had gone to live. Then Paul thanked him and bade him

farewell, and he returned home again.

At first Paul was too tired to do anything but sleep, but as soon as

he was rested he started off in search of the three faithless ones, who

almost died from fright at the sight of him, for they had thought he

would never come back to reproach them for their wickedness.

'You know what to expect,' Paul said to them quietly. 'You shall never

see me again. Off with you!' He next took the three apples out of his

pocket and placed them all in the prettiest places he could find; after

which he tapped them with his golden rod, and they became castles again.

He gave two of the castles to the eldest sisters, and kept the other

for himself and the youngest, whom he married, and there they are living


[From Ungarische Mahrchen.]