| The Dragon And The Prince |
UT THE EMPEROR sent two grooms after him to go stealthily and see what he did, and they placed themselves on a high hill whence they could have a good view. When the shepherd arrived, he put the hounds and bagpipes under the stump and the falcon upon it, then tucked up his hose and sleeves waded into the lake and shouted: "Dragon, dragon! come out to single combat with me, that we may measure ourselves once more together, unless you are a woman!" The dragon replied: "I will do so, prince, now, now!" Erelong, behold the dragon! it was large, it was terrible, it was disgusting! And it seized him by the waist and wrestled with him a summer's day till afternoon.
But when the afternoon heat came on, the dragon said: "Let me go, prince, that I may moisten my parched head in the lake, and may toss you to the sky." The prince replied: "Come, dragon, don't talk nonsense; if I had the emperor's daughter to kiss me on the forehead, I would toss you still higher." Thereupon the dragon suddenly left hold of him, and went off into the lake.
When night approached the prince drove the sheep as before, and went home playing the bagpipes When he arrived at the town, the whole town was astir and began to wonder because the shepherd came home every evening, which no one had been able to do before. Those two grooms had already arrived at the palace before the prince, and related to the emperor in order everything that they had heard and seen.
Now when the emperor saw that the shepherd returned home, he immediately summoned his daughter into his presence and told her all, what it was and how it was. "But," said he, "to-morrow you must go with the shepherd to the lake and kiss him on the forehead." When she heard this she burst into tears and began to entreat her father. "You have no one but me, and I am your only daughter, and you don't care about me if I perish." Then the emperor began to persuade and encourage her: "Don't fear, my daughter; you see we have had so many changes of shepherds, and of all that went out to the lake not one has returned; but he had been contending with the dragon for two whole days and it has done him no hurt. I assure you, in God's name, that he is able to overcome the dragon, only go to-morrow with him to see whether he will free us from this mischief which has destroyed so many people."
When, on the morrow, the day dawned and the sun came forth, up rose the shepherd, up rose the maiden too, to begin to prepare for going to the lake.
The shepherd was cheerful, more cheerful than ever, but the emperor's daughter was sad and shed tears. The shepherd comforted her: "Lady sister, I pray you, do not weep, but do what I tell you. When it is time, run up and kiss me, and fear not." As he went and drove the sheep, the shepherd was thoroughly cheery, and played a merry tune on his bagpipes; but the damsel did nothing but weep as she went beside him, and he several times left off playing and turned toward her: "Weep not, golden one; fear nought." When they arrived at the lake, the sheep immediately spread round it, and the prince placed the falcon on the stump, and the hounds and bagpipes under it, then tucked up his hose and sleeves, waded into the water, and shouted: "Dragon! dragon! Come out to single combat with me; let us measure ourselves once more, unless you're a woman!" The dragon replied: "I will, prince; now, now!" Erelong, there was the dragon! it was huge, it was terrible, it was disgusting! When it came out, they seized each other by the middle, and wrestled a summer's day till afternoon.
But when the afternoon heat came on, the dragon said: "Let me go, prince, that I may moisten my parched head in the lake, and toss you to the skies." The prince replied: "Come, dragon, don't talk nonsense; if I had the emperor's daughter to kiss me on the forehead, I would toss you much higher." When he said this, the emperor's daughter ran up and kissed him on the face, on the eye, and on the forehead.
Then he swung the dragon, and tossed it high into the air, and when it fell to the ground it burst into pieces. But as it burst into pieces, out of it sprang a wild boar, and started to run away. But the prince shouted to his shepherd dogs: "Hold it! don't let it go!" and the dogs sprang up and after it, caught it, and soon tore it to pieces. But out of the boar flew a pigeon, and the prince loosed the falcon, and the falcon caught the pigeon and brought it into the prince's hands. The prince said to it: "Tell me now, where are my brothers?" The pigeon replied: "I will; only do me no harm. Immediately behind your father's town is a water-mill, and in the water-mill are three wands that have sprouted up. Cut these three wands up from below, and strike with them upon their root; an iron door will immediately open into a large vault. In that vault are many people, old and young, rich and poor, small and great, wives and maidens, so that you could settle a populous empire; there, too, are your brothers." When the pigeon had told him all this, the prince immediately wrung its neck.
The emperor had gone out in person, and posted himself on the hill from which the grooms had viewed the shepherd, and he, too, was a spectator of all that had taken place. After the shepherd had thus obtained the dragon's head, twilight began to approach.
He washed himself nicely, took the falcon on his shoulder, the hounds behind him, and the bagpipes under his arm, played as he went, drove the sheep, and proceeded to the emperor's palace, with the damsel at his side still in terror. When they came to the town, all the town assembled as to see a wonder. The emperor, who had seen all his heroism from the hill, called him into his presence, and gave him his daughter, went immediately to church, had them married, and held a wedding festival for a week.
After this the prince told him who and whence he was, and the emperor and the whole town rejoiced still more. Then, as the prince was urgent to go to his own home, the emperor gave him a large escort, and equipped him for the journey.
When they were in the neighbourhood of the water-mill, the prince halted his attendants, went inside, cut up the three wands, and struck the root with them, and the iron door opened at once. In the vault was a vast multitude of people.
The prince ordered them to come out one by one, and go whither each would, and stood himself at the door. They came out thus one after another, and lo! there were his brothers also, whom he embraced and kissed.
When the whole multitude had come out, they thanked him for releasing and delivering them, and went each to his own home. But he went to his father's house with his brothers and bride, and there lived and reigned to the end of his days.