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Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, [1899], at

No. 21.--The Deluded Dragon

There was an old man with a multitude of children. He had an underground cave in the forest. He said, 'Make me a honey-cake, for I will go and earn something.' He went into the forest, and found a well. By the well was a table. He laid the cake on the table. The crows came and ate it. He slept by the well. He arose and saw the flies eating the crumbs. He struck a blow and killed a hundred flies. He wrote that he had killed a hundred souls with one blow. And he lay down and slept.

A dragon came with a buffalo's skin to draw water. He saw what was written on the table, that he had killed a hundred souls. When he saw the old man, he feared. The old man awoke, and he too feared.

The dragon said, 'Let's become brothers.'

And they swore that they would be Brothers of the Cross. 1 The dragon drew water. 'Come with me, brother, to my palace.'

They went along a footpath, the old man first. When the dragon panted, he drove the old man forward; when he drew in his breath, he pulled him back. The dragon said, 'Brother, why do you sometimes run forward and sometimes come back?'

'I am thinking whether to kill you.'

'Stay, brother, I will go first and you behind; maybe you will change your mind.'

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They came to a cherry-tree. 'Here, brother, have some cherries.'

The dragon climbed up, and the old man was eating below. The dragon said, 'Come up, they're better here.'

The old man said, 'No, they aren't, for the birds have defiled them.'

'Catch hold of this bough.'

The old man did so. The dragon let go of it, and jerked the old man up, and he fell on a hare and caught it.

The dragon said, 'What's the matter, brother? Was the bough too strong for you?'

'I sprang of my own accord, and caught this hare. I hadn't time to run round, so up I sprang.'

The dragon came down and went home. The old man said, 'Would you like a present, sister-in-law?' [seemingly offering the hare to the dragon's wife].

'Thanks, brother-in-law.'

The dragon said to her aside, 'Don't say a word to him, else he'll kill us, for he has killed a hundred souls with one blow.' He sent him to fetch water: 'Go for water, brother.'

He took the spade and the buffalo's hide, dragged it after him, and went to the well, and was digging all round the well.

The dragon went to him. 'What are you doing, brother?'

'I am digging the whole well to carry it home.'

'Don't destroy the spring; I'll draw the water myself.'

The dragon drew the water, and took the old man by the hand, and led him home. He sent him to the forest to fetch a tree. He stripped off bark, and made himself a rope, and bound the trees.

The dragon came. 'What are you doing, brother?'

'I am going to take the whole forest and carry it home.'

'Don't destroy my forest, brother. I'll carry it myself.' The dragon took a tree on his shoulders, and went home.

He said to his wife, 'What shall we do, wife, for he will kill us if we anger him?'

She said, 'Take uncle's big club, and hit him on the head.'

The old man heard. He slept of a night on a bench. And he took the beetle, put it on the bench, dressed it up in his coat, and put his cap on the top of it. And he lay

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down under the bench. The dragon took the club, and felt the cap, and struck with the club. The old man arose, removed the beetle, put it under the bench, and lay down on the bench. He scratched his head. 'God will punish you, brother, and your household, for a flea has bitten me on the head.'

'There! do you hear, wife? I hit him on the head with the club, and he says a mere flea has bitten him. What shall we do with him, wife?'

Give him a sackful of money to go away.'

'What will you take to go, brother? I'll give you a sackful of money.'

'Give it me.'

He gave it. 'Take it, brother, and be gone.'

'I brought my present myself; do you carry yours yourself.'

The dragon took it on his shoulders and carried it. They drew near to the underground cavern. The old man said, 'Stay here, brother, whilst I go home and tie up the dogs, else they'll wholly devour you.' The old man went home to his children, and made them wooden knives, and told them to say when they saw the dragon, 'Mother, father's bringing a dragon; we'll eat his flesh.'

The dragon heard them, and flung down the sack, and fled. And he met a fox.

'Where are you flying to, dragon?'

'The old man will kill me.'

'Fear not; come along with me. I'll kill him, he's so weak.'

The children came outside and cried, 'Mother, the fox is bringing us the dragon skin he owes us, to cover the cave with.'

The dragon took to flight, and caught the fox, and dashed him to the earth; and the fox died. The old man went to the town, and got a cart, and put the money in it. Then he went to the town, and built himself houses, and bought himself oxen and cows.

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Dr. Von Sowa furnishes this Slovak-Gypsy variant:--


80:1 This phrase occurs also in our No. 24, in a Wallachian story cited by Hahn (ii. 312), and, if I mistake not, in Ralston, but I have mislaid the exact reference. The Rómani trúshul, cross, is from the Sanskrit trisula, the trident of Siva.

Next: No. 22.--The Gypsy and the Dragon