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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The dragon's tail"

The dragon's tail

"I won't be your officer any more, if you do not do as I say," he said, and they began to quarrel.

"We're not going to fight your old dragon, we're going home again to play football, that will be far better fun," said the boys who had joined as recruits, and they went off home, till only Helmut's chums were left. They were glad enough to get rid of the other boys.

"We have more chance of seeing the dragon without those stupid fellows," they said.

They finished their lunch, shouldered their guns again, and entered the second gorge, which is even more picturesque and narrow than the first.

Suddenly Helmut espied something round, and slimy, and long lying on the path before him like a blind worm, but much thicker than blind worms generally are. He became fearfully excited, "Come along you fellows, hurry up," he said, "I do believe it is the dragon's tail!"

They came up close behind him and looked over his shoulders; the gorge was so narrow here that they could not pass one another.

"Good gracious!" they said, "whatever shall we do now?"

They all felt frightened at the idea of a real dragon, but they stood to their guns like men, all but the youngest, Adolf, who wanted to run away home; but the others would not let him.

"Helmut catch hold of it, quick now," whispered Werner and Wolf, the other two boys.

Helmut stretched out his hand courageously; perhaps it was only a huge, blind worm after all; but as he tried to catch it, the thing slipped swiftly away. They all followed it, running as fast as they could through the narrow gorge, bumping themselves against the walls, scratching themselves and tearing their clothes, but all the time Helmut never let that tail (if it was a tail) out of his sight.

"If we had some salt to put on it," said he, "we might catch it like a dicky bird."

"It would be a fine thing to present to a museum," said Wolf.

Well, that thing led them a fine dance. It would stop short, and then when they thought they had got it, it started off again, until they were all puffing and blowing.

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