The Grey Fairy Book HTML version
Janni and the Draken
Once there was a man who shunned the world, and lived in the wilderness. He owned
nothing but a flock of sheep, whose milk and wool he sold, and so procured himself bread
to eat; he also carried wooden spoons, and sold them. He had a wife and one little girl,
and after a long time his wife had another child. The evening it was born the man went to
the nearest village to fetch a nurse, and on the way he met a monk who begged him for a
night's lodging. This the man willingly granted, and took him home with him. There
being no one far nor near to baptize the child, the man asked the monk to do him this
service, and the child was given the name of Janni.
In the course of time Janni's parents died, and he and his sister were left alone in the
world; soon affairs went badly with them, so they determined to wander away to seek
their fortune. In packing up, the sister found a knife which the monk had left for his
godson, and this she gave to her brother.
Then they went on their way, taking with them the three sheep which were all that
remained of their flocks. After wandering for three days they met a man with three dogs
who proposed that they should exchange animals, he taking the sheep, and they the dogs.
The brother and sister were quite pleased at this arrangement, and after the exchange was
made they separated, and went their different ways.
Janni and his sister in course of time came to a great castle, in which dwelt forty Draken,
who, when they heard that Janni had come, fled forty fathoms underground.
So Janni found the castle deserted, and abode there with his sister, and every day went
out to hunt with the weapons the Draken had left in the castle.
One day, when he was away hunting, one of the Draken came up to get provisions, not
knowing that there was anyone in the castle. When he saw Janni's sister he was terrified,
but she told him not to be afraid, and by-and-by they fell in love with each other, for
every time that Janni went to hunt the sister called the Drakos up. Thus they went on
making love to each other till at length, unknown to Janni, they got married. Then, when
it was too late, the sister repented, and was afraid of Janni's wrath when he found it out.
One day the Drakos came to her, and said: ‘You must pretend to be ill, and when Janni
asks what ails you, and what you want, you must answer: "Cherries," and when he
inquires where these are to be found, you must say: "There are some in a garden a day's
journey from here." Then your brother will go there, and will never come back, for there
dwell three of my brothers who will look after him well.'