Batcha and the Dragon: The Story of a Shepherd Who Slept all Winter
"There, there," he said, "no use getting excited! Of course he hasn't been sleeping here in the sheepfold all winter. The question is, where has he been? Here is some money for you. Take it and go along home to your cottage in the valley. Leave Batcha to me and I promise you I'll get the truth out of him."
The woman abused her husband some more and then, pocketing the money, went off.
As soon as she was gone, the stranger changed into a horrible looking creature with a third eye in the middle of his forehead.
"Good heavens!" Batcha gasped in fright. "He's the wizard of the mountain! Now what's going to happen to me!"
Batcha had often heard terrifying stories of the wizard, how he could himself take any form he wished and how he could turn a man into a ram.
"Aha!" the wizard laughed. "I see you know me! Now then, no more lies! Tell me: where have you been all winter long?"
At first Batcha remembered his triple oath to the old king serpent and he feared to break it. But when the wizard thundered out the same question a second time and a third time, and grew bigger and more horrible looking each time he spoke, Batcha forgot his oath and confessed everything.
"Now come with me," the wizard said. "Show me the cliff. Show me the magic plant."
What could Batcha do but obey? He led the wizard to the cliff and picked a leaf of the magic plant.
"Open the rock," the wizard commanded.
Batcha laid the leaf against the cliff and instantly the rock opened.
"Go inside!" the wizard ordered.
But Batcha's trembling legs refused to move.
The wizard took out a book and began mumbling an incantation. Suddenly the earth trembled, the sky thundered, and with a great hissing whistling sound a monster dragon flew out of the cavern. It was the old king serpent whose seven years were up and who was now become a flying dragon. From his huge mouth he breathed out fire and smoke. With his long tail he swished right and left among the forest trees and these snapped and broke like little twigs.