GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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The dragon, on this, seized them in his claws, and carried them through the air, over the heads of their comrades, and landed them safely on the ground, at a great distance. He then gave each of them a whip, and said, " When you crack these whips smartly, money will flow around you in abundance, as much as you desire. You can then live in style, like great lords, and have horses and carriages, and every luxury; but, at the end of seven years, you will belong to me." At these words he handed them a book, in which they were expected to sign their names.
After this was done, he said : " I will, however, give you one chance to escape me, if at the end of the time you are able to guess three riddles which I shall then propound to you, my power will be over and you will be free." The dragon then flew away, and the three soldiers immediately began to crack their whips joyfully, and soon hac money enough and to spare. They had horses and carriages, and could travel all over the world, and they ate and drank, lived and dressed like gentlemen—happy and contented, but did nothing wicked or wrong.
Time, however, passed on quickly, and as the end of the seven years approached, two of the soldiers became very sad and un­easy ; the third, however, who was naturally light-hearted, said to them : " Brothers, do not fear, I have my wits about me still; I will find out the dragon's riddles."
They were walking in the fields a few days after this, and the two fearful ones seated themselves on a mound with most woeful faces while the other stood by. Presently an old woman passed them, and said : "Why are you two looking so miserable?"
"What does it matter to you ?" they replied. "You cannot help us."
" How do you know that ?" she replied. " Come now, trust me with your sorrow, and see if I cannot help you."
Then they told her about the dragon, and how that he had given them the means of making gold like hay for seven years, but that they had signed their names to be his servants at the end of that time, which had nearly arrived, unless they could guess three riddles. Therefore it was no wonder they felt so sad.
" If I am to help you," replied the old woman, " one of you must go into the forest. There he will find a steep, overturned