'It is a bargain,' replied Stan, though at the moment he did not know how, supposing he did come off the victor, he would ever be able to drive so large a flock home.
However, that matter could be settled later. At present night was not far off, and he must consider how best to fight with the dragon.
Just at midnight, a horrible feeling that was new and strange to him came over Stan — a feeling that he could not put into words even to himself, but which almost forced him to give up the battle and take the shortest road home again. He half turned; then he remembered the children, and turned back.
' You or I,' said Stan to himself, and took up his position on the edge of the flock.
' Stop!' he suddenly cried, as the air was filled with a rushing noise, and the dragon came dashing past.
'Dear me!' exclaimed the dragon, looking round. ' Who are you, and where do you come from ? '
' I am Stan Bolovan, who eats rocks all night, and in the day feeds on the flowers of the mountain; and if you meddle with those sheep I will carve a cross on your back.'
When the dragon heard these words he stood quite still in the middle of the road, for he knew he had met with his match.
' But you will have to fight me first,' he said in a trembling voice, for when you faced him properly he was not brave at all.
' I fight you ?' replied Stan, ' why I could slay you with one breath!' Then, stooping to pick up a large cheese which lay at his feet, he added, ' Go and get a stone like this out of the river, so that we may lose no time in seeing who is the best man.'
The dragon did as Stan bade him, and brought back a stone out of the brook.
' Can you get buttermilk out of your stone ?' asked Stan.