The Yellow Fairy Book HTML version

The Dragon Of The North
Very long ago, as old people have told me, there lived a terrible monster, who
came out of the North, and laid waste whole tracts of country, devouring both
men and beasts; and this monster was so destructive that it was feared that
unless help came no living creature would be left on the face of the earth. It had
a body like an ox, and legs like a frog, two short fore-legs, and two long ones
behind, and besides that it had a tail like a serpent, ten fathoms in length. When
it moved it jumped like a frog, and with every spring it covered half a mile of
ground. Fortunately its habit, was to remain for several years in the same place,
and not to move on till the whole neighbourhood was eaten up. Nothing could
hunt it, because its whole body was covered with scales, which were harder than
stone or metal; its two great eyes shone by night, and even by day, like the
brightest lamps, and anyone who had the ill luck to look into those eyes became
as it were bewitched, and was obliged to rush of his own accord into the
monster's jaws. In this way the Dragon was able to feed upon both men and
beasts without the least trouble to itself, as it needed not to move from the spot
where it was lying. All the neighbouring kings had offered rich rewards to anyone
who should be able to destroy the monster, either by force or enchantment, and
many had tried their luck, but all had miserably failed. Once a great forest in
which the Dragon lay had been set on fire; the forest was burnt down, but the fire
did not do the monster the least harm. However, there was a tradition amongst
the wise men of the country that the Dragon might be overcome by one who
possessed King Solomon's signet-ring, upon which a secret writing was
engraved. This inscription would enable anyone who was wise enough to
interpret it to find out how the Dragon could be destroyed. Only no one knew
where the ring was hidden, nor was there any sorcerer or learned man to be
found who would be able to explain the inscription.
At last a young man, with a good heart and plenty of courage, set out to search
for the ring. He took his way towards the sunrising, because he knew that all the