Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/392

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356 Collectanea.

The old woman opens the door, saying, — "And I have no child. Be thou my son, and I will be thy mother. Let us dwell together. God will give us bread." So they become mother and son.

After a time the son says, — " Mother I am thirsty. A little water, I beg."

The old woman replies, — " May my soul perish ! there is no water."

"Mother, what are you saying?"

" May I die for you ! " she replies, " but there is only one fountain in our land, and a dragon stands on guard (to prevent us from reaching it). On the Lord's Day a virgin is taken to the dragon, and while he devours her everyone hastens to obtain a supply of water. After he has eaten her the dragon returns to guard the fountain once more. To-day it will be the turn of the King's daughter to be offered to the dragon. Listen ! I hear them coming. They are taking the maiden to the dragon."

The Prince looks, and finds it is indeed true. They have a maiden fair as the moon, and are carrying her along (by force). The Prince goes also. They leave the maiden beside the fountain, and everyone goes away.

The Prince, who has his magic sword with him, approaches the maiden, and says, — " Maiden, let me rest my head in your lap and sleep. Do not fear. Arouse me when the dragon comes, and I will save you." Then he falls asleep.

Soon the dragon approaches the maiden, with his mouth open, lashing his tail and hissing frightfully. The maiden is speechless from fright. She bursts into tears and her hot tears fall upon the face of the Prince, and he awakes. He springs to his feet, and what does he see but the maiden already half down the dragon's throat ! Immediately he draws his magic sword, and, laying it across the maiden's body, as the dragon continues to try to swallow the maiden his body is cleft in two, and the maiden steps out safe and sound. The dragon is no more.

Then the Prince says to the maiden, — "Arise, and go home."

The maiden first dips her hand into the dragon's blood, and lays the print of her hand upon the Prince's back for a mark by