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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "Batcha and the Dragon: The Story of a Shepherd Who Slept all Winter"

Batcha and the Dragon: The Story of a Shepherd Who Slept all Winter

He was a philosophical fellow and so, after puzzling a moment, he shrugged his shoulders and said:

"Well, if I can't get out I suppose I'll have to stay here for the night."

With that he drew his cape about him, lay down, and was soon fast asleep.

He was awakened by a rustling murmur. Thinking that he was in his own hut, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Then he saw the glittering walls of the cavern and remembered his adventure.

The old king serpent still lay on the golden table but no longer asleep. A movement like a slow wave was rippling his great coils. All the other serpents on the ground were facing the golden table and with darting tongues were hissing:

"Is it time? Is it time?"

The old king serpent slowly lifted his head and with a deep murmurous hiss said:

"Yes, it is time."

He stretched out his long body, slipped off the golden table, and glided away to the wall of the cavern. All the smaller serpents wriggled after him.

Batcha followed them, thinking to himself:

"I'll go out the way they go."

The old king serpent touched the wall with his tongue and the rock opened. Then he glided aside and the serpents crawled out, one by one. When the last one was out, Batcha tried to follow, but the rock swung shut in his face, again locking him in.

The old king serpent hissed at him in a deep breathy voice:

"Hah, you miserable man creature, you can't get out! You're here and here you stay!"

"But I can't stay here," Batcha said. "What can I do in here? I can't sleep forever! You must let me out! I have sheep at pasture and a scolding wife at home in the valley. She'll have a thing or two to say if I'm late in getting back!"

Batcha pleaded and argued until at last the old serpent said:

"Very well, I'll let you out, but not until you have made me a triple oath that you won't tell any one how you came in."

Batcha agreed to this. Three times he swore a mighty oath not to tell any one how he had entered the cavern.

"I warn you," the old serpent said, as he opened the wall, "if you break this oath a terrible fate will overtake you!

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