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Main > Italy folktales > Fairy tale "The Dragon"

The Dragon

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Miuccio at these words was near losing his senses, and as soon as he was able to speak, he said to the King, "Alas, what a headache have you given me by your continual teasing! Is my life a black goat-skin rug that you are for ever wearing it away thus? This is not a pared pear ready to drop into one's mouth, but a dragon, that tears with his claws, breaks to pieces with his head, crushes with his tail, crunches with his teeth, poisons with his eyes, and kills with his breath. Wherefore do you want to send me to death? Is this the sinecure you give me for having given you a kingdom? Who is the wicked soul that has set this die on the table? What son of perdition has taught you these capers and put these words into your mouth?" Then the King, who, although he let himself be tossed to and fro as light as a ball, was firmer than a rock in keeping to what he had once said, stamped with his feet, and exclaimed, "After all you have done, do you fail at the last? But no more words; go, rid my kingdom of this plague, unless you would have me rid you of life."

Poor Miuccio, who thus received one minute a favour, at another a threat, now a pat on the face, and now a kick, now a kind word, now a cruel one, reflected how mutable court fortune is, and would fain have been without the acquaintance of the King. But knowing that to reply to great men is a folly, and like plucking a lion by the beard, he withdrew, cursing his fate, which had led him to the court only to curtail the days of his life. And as he was sitting on one of the door-steps, with his head between his knees, washing his shoes with his tears and warming the ground with his sighs, behold the bird came flying with a plant in her beak, and throwing it to him, said, "Get up, Miuccio, and take courage! for you are not going to play at unload the ass' with your days, but at backgammon with the life of the dragon. Take this plant, and when you come to the cave of that horrid animal, throw it in, and instantly such a drowsiness will come over him that he will fall fast asleep; whereupon, nicking and sticking him with a good knife, you may soon make an end of him.

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