Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
There was a great city. In that city was great mourning; every day it was hung with black cloth and with red. There was in a cave a great dragon; it had four-and-twenty heads. Every day must he eat a woman--ah! God! what can be done in such a case? It is clean impossible every day to find food for that dragon. There was but one girl left. Her father was a very wealthy man; he was a king; over all kings he was lord. And there came a certain wanderer, came into the city, and asked what's new there.
They said to him, 'Here is very great mourning.'
'Why so? any one dead?'
'Every day we must feed the dragon with twenty-four heads. If we failed to feed him, he would crush all our city underneath his feet.'
'I'll help you out of that. It is just twelve o'clock; I will go there alone with my dog.'
He had such a big dog: whatever a man just thought of, that dog immediately knew. It would have striven with the very devil. When the wanderer came to the cave, he kept crying, 'Dragon, come out here with your blind mother. Bread and men you have eaten, but will eat no more. I'll see if you are any good.'
The dragon called him into his cave, and the wanderer said to him, 'Now give me whatever I ask for to eat and to drink, and swear to me always to give that city peace, and never to eat men, no, not one. For if ever I hear of your doing so I shall come back and cut your throat.'
'My good man, fear not; I swear to you. For I see you're a proper man. If you weren't, I should long since
have eaten up you and your dog. Then tell me what you want of me.'
'I only want you to bring me the finest wine to drink, and meat such as no man has ever eaten. If you don't, you will see I shall destroy everything that is yours, shall shut you up here, and you will never come out of this cave.'
'Good, I will fetch a basket of meat, and forthwith cook it for you.'
He went and brought him such meat as no man ever had eaten. When he had eaten and drunk his fill, then the dragon must swear to him never to eat anybody, but sooner to die of hunger.
'Good, so let us leave it.'
He went back, that man, who thus had delivered the city, so that it had peace. Then all the gentlemen asked him what he wanted for doing so well. The dragon from that hour never ate any one. And if they are not dead they are still alive.
This story belongs to the 'Valiant Little Tailor' group (No. 21). The maiden-tribute is a familiar feature; the Tobit-like dog seems superfluous, but cf. Hahn's No. 22, i. 170, ii. 217. English-Gypsy women wear black and red in mourning.