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The cobbler thought a moment and replied, "When and if you come to
the dragon's lair, recite the following poem.
Dragon, dragon, how do you do? I've come from the king to murder
Say it very loudly and firmly and the dragon will fall, God
willing, at your feet."
"How curious!" said the eldest son. And he thought to himself,
"The old man is not as wise as I thought. If I say something like
that to the dragon, he will eat me up in an instant. The way to kill
a dragon is to out-fox him." And keeping his opinion to himself, the
eldest son set forth on his quest.
When he came at last to the dragon's lair, which was a cave, the
eldest son slyly disguised himself as a peddler and knocked on the
door and called out, "Hello there!"
"There's nobody home!" roared a voice.
The voice was as loud as an earthquake, and the eldest son's knees
knocked together in terror.
"I don't come to trouble you," the eldest son said meekly. "I
merely thought you might be interested in looking at some of our
brushes. Or if you'd prefer," he added quickly, "I could leave our
catalog with you and I could drop by again, say, early next week."
"I don't want any brushes," the voice roared, "and I especially
don't want any brushes next week."
"Oh," said the eldest son. By now his knees were knocking together
so badly that he had to sit down.
Suddenly a great shadow fell over him, and the eldest son looked
up. It was the dragon. The eldest son drew his sword, but the dragon
lunged and swallowed him in a single gulp, sword and all, and the
eldest son found himself in the dark of the dragon's belly. "What a
fool I was not to listen to my wise old father!" thought the eldest
son. And he began to weep bitterly.
"Well," sighed the king the next morning, "I see the dragon has
not been slain yet."
"I'm just as glad, personally," said the princess, sprinkling the
queen. "I would have had to marry that eldest son, and he had
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