The Pink Fairy Book
How the Dragon Was Tricked
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
'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
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