The Yellow Fairy Book
The Dragon And His Grandmother
There was once a great war, and the King had a great many soldiers, but he
gave them so little pay that they could not live upon it. Then three of them took
counsel together and determined to desert.
One of them said to the others, 'If we are caught, we shall be hanged on the
gallows; how shall we set about it?' The other said, 'Do you see that large
cornfield there? If we were to hide ourselves in that, no one could find us. The
army cannot come into it, and to-morrow it is to march on.'
They crept into the corn, but the army did not march on, but remained encamped
close around them. They sat for two days and two nights in the corn, and grew so
hungry that they nearly died; but if they were to venture out, it was certain death.
They said at last, 'What use was it our deserting? We must perish here
Whilst they were speaking a fiery dragon came flying through the air. It hovered
near them, and asked why they were hidden there.
They answered, 'We are three soldiers, and have deserted because our pay was
so small. Now if we remain here we shall die of hunger, and if we move out we
shall be strung up on the gallows.'
'If you will serve me for seven years,' said the dragon, I will lead you through the
midst of the army so that no one shall catch you.' 'We have no choice, and must
take your offer,' said they. Then the dragon seized them in his claws, took them
through the air over the army, and set them down on the earth a long way from it.
He gave them a little whip, saying, 'Whip and slash with this, and as much money
as you want will jump up before you. You can then live as great lords, keep
horses, and drive about in carriages. But after seven years you are mine.' Then