The Peasant and the Dragon

One day, a dragon who was flying hack home was caught in a violent storm. The wind howled and the rain came down with such force that even the sturdiest oak trees were uprooted and blown down like straw. Despite his great size, the dragon was buffeted in all directions and in the end he lost his way in the dark. In vain he tried and tried again to rise above the storm, battling with all his strength against the elements, but at last, overcome with weariness, he fell exhausted to the ground.

While he lay unconscious in the mud, a peasant who lived in a humble shack nearby walked past. On catching sight of the monster; who lay so still that he looked dead, the man, whose name was Lucas, felt sorry for him. He approached the inert body and saw that the dragon was still alive. With the help of his horse he moved the dragon to an outhouse which served as a barn. Then he made the dragon comfortable and covered him with a patched blanket, and ran into the house to ask his wife to prepare some hot food. She was apprehensive.

"You are mad if you want to give food and shelter to such a beast. You would do better to kill him and then the king will give us a reward for his skin."

"Quiet woman," retorted Lucas. "The dragon is weak and ill, and it is not Christian to deny help to the ailing, of whatever race they belong to.

''Don't be stupid husband!", exclaimed his wife. "This creature is not a Christian, nor is he a man. He will eat you the minute he is better."

Taking no notice of his wile's warning, the peasant devoted himself to feeding and caring for the animal. As a result of his efforts, the dragon soon recovered and thanked the peasant for saving him. "There is nothing to thank me for", replied the good man. "We are all God's creatures."

"Even so, many men in your position would have killed me and sold my skin, which is very valuable."

"Any man who takes advantage of the fallen must be very evil. Such behavior does not befit a knight", replied the peasant.

On hearing her husband's words, the wife, who was listening at the door; began to laugh.

"Look at this fool, giving himself the airs of a knight when he is a pauper!" she exclaimed from her hiding place. "You won't speak like that when the tax collectors come and take away our horse because we haven't paid our taxes.

''It is honor not wealth that makes a man a knight", replied the worthy Lucas in a low voice.

However; the dragon heard the conversation, and, noting the peasant's poverty, offered him a reward for his trouble.

"I could not refuse anything in gold, because the tax collector is coming soon and I have nothing to pay him with, but that is not why I helped you, friend", said the man.

I know; but now that I am strong enough to fly home, come to my cave and choose anything you wish." Lucas climbed fearlessly onto the dragon's back, but his wife begged him not to trust the dragon.

"When you are in the middle of the forest, he will eat you," she groaned, "and I will be left alone."

The dragon bore the peasant to his cave and there he entertained him for three days. When the time came for him to return home, the animal loaded a huge sack of gold and precious stones on to his back as a gift, and carried Lucas back to his shack.

"Come and see me whenever you are hard up", he said on parting.

Lucas found his wife sad and dressed in mourning, for she believed he was dead. With the dragon's gifts the couple were able to buy a beautiful farm with many animals, but the wile started becoming extravagant, and one day she said to her husband: "If we had a little more money, we would be able to buy good land and employ others to work on it, and then when we have a son he will be able to be a knight. Why don't you ask the dragon for a little more gold? " Lucas refused, but in the end he gave in and went to see the dragon. The creature thought it was a sound idea, and was delighted to be able to help his friend once more.

But then hardly a year went by and the wife insisted: "If we could buy a castle and some villages, we would become counts. Lucas, tired of his Wife's nagging, went once more to see the dragon in his cave, and the latter granted his request. The couple received a dukedom. Not long afterwards, the wife wanted to go and live at court.

One day the new duchess saw the queen arriving in her golden carriage, dressed in silks, with silver farthingales, and wearing fabulous jewels. Her eyes glinting with ambition, she said: "My good Lucas, it has occurred to me that when we have a son, if there is a war he will have to go to the front as an officer; and he might die in combat. It would be much better it we became monarchs so that our son would be in less danger. Your friend the dragon will grant us this wish.

''But wife don't talk nonsense.' His wife cried and entreated him until Lucas decided to visit the dragon who greeted him warmly.

"Friend,' said the dragon after listening to his story; "your wife is too ambitious. She will never leave you in peace. She will never have enough and she will always want more, but I have the answer. Come into the cave. And the dragon showed his guest into a cozy room where beautiful young women were singing and dancing. "Now you are my prisoner. These girls will keep you company and will see that your every wish is carried out, for they are my slaves, but you will not be able to leave the cave other than in my company and you will not return to see your wife.

"From then on the good man lived happily with the dragon and the maidens. As for Lucas's wife, she had to dress in mourning, convinced that her husband had finally been devoured bv the monster; just as she had predicted from the beginning.

Story by The Peasant and the Dragon
Art by Ciruelo