pink fairy book

I felt like a dragon tale today, probably because of all the How to Train Your Dragon 2 commercials I’ve been seeing, but came up with “How the Dragon Was Tricked” when I did a quick search. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but a clever boy’s never a wrong choice. It’s is a Greek fairy tale collected by J. G. von Hahn in Griechische und Albanesische Märchen. The version I read was the one Andrew Lang included it in The Pink Fairy Book, 1897.

An older brother was jealous of his younger brother and one day tied him to a tree to be rid of him. An old, humpbacked shepherd saw him and asked him why; the younger brother said it was to straighten out his back, and persuaded the shepherd to be tied there in his place, then drove off the sheep. He also persuaded a horse boy and a driver of oxen to come with him. He played many tricks and became quite famous because of it. Not exactly a good character but not evil either.

The king heard about the boy’s adventures and was curious. The king captured him and said he had earned death for all of his misdeed, but promised to spare him if he brought him the dragon’s flying horse. The boy went and tried three times to steal the horse. Each time it neighed, alerting the dragon, but the third time the dragon, annoyed at being awoken, beat the horse. The fourth time, the horse did not neigh because he was angry with dragon and it allowed the boy to lead it out. Once out, the boy mounted and rode off, taunting the dragon.

The king then demanded the dragon’s bedcoverings which had little bells on it. The boy went and tried to hook the blanket during the night, but the bells woke the dragon who thought his wife was hogging the blankets, and pulled them back, pulling the boy down too. The dragon tied the boy up and told his wife to cook him the next day while the dragon went to church. When he returned, they would eat him. The dragoness untied the boy to cut his throat more easily, but the boy was quicker and cut her throat and threw her into the oven. He stole the bedcoverings and returned to the king.

The king then demanded the dragon itself. The boy requested two years to let his beard grow as a disguise, and the king agreed. When the two years were up, the young man changed clothing with a beggar and found the dragon making a box. The dragon said the box was for the boy who had stolen his belongings. The young man said that the box was too small. The dragon assured him that it was big enough even for himself and wriggled in to show him. The young man nailed on the top and told the dragon to see if the youth would be able to escape. The dragon tried as hard as it could, and could not get out.

The young man brought the dragon back to the king. The king naturally wanted to see the dragon. He was careful  to open a hole too small for the dragon to escape, but it was big enough for the dragon to bite the king and swallow him whole. The youth married the king’s daughter and became king in his place. No one knows what happened to the dragon.

I like stories where the hero wins by his intelligence, even if the boy was not very nice, at least in the beginning. I hope he treated his new wife well, although I have to think his history of tricking people and getting her dad killed did not bode well for the marriage.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.