" But why has no one killed the dragon ?" said the huntsman.
" Ah! " answered the innkeeper, " many knights have lost their lives in the attempt, for the king has not only promised his daughter as wife to the man who kills the dragon, but will also leave his kingdom to him after his death."
The huntsman made no further remark, but the following morning he started off with his animals and climbed up the mountain. On reaching the top he found a little church, on the altar of which stood three full goblets inscribed with the words, " Whosoever drinks the contents of these goblets will at once become the strongest man on earth, and will be able to wield the sword that lies buried beyond the threshold of the church." The huntsman did not immediately drink of them but went first and looked for the buried sword, but he found it quite beyond his strength to move. Then he went back into the church and emptied the three goblets, and after that he had no difficulty in lifting the sword, and was able to wield it with the greatest ease. At last the hour came when the king's daughter was to be delivered up to the dragon.
She was accompanied to the foot of the mountain by her father, the marshal, and others of the court.
She looked up from below and saw the huntsman on the mountain top, and thought it was the dragon awaiting her, and at first she would not begin the ascent. After a while, however, knowing that otherwise the whole town would be destroyed, she gathered courage, and began the last stage of her mournful journey. The king and the court turned sorrowfully homewards, only the marshal remained behind, as it was his duty to watch at a distance to the end
When the king's daughter reached the summit of the mountain, she found there not the dragon she expected, but a young huntsman, who spoke words of comfort to her and promised to save her. He then led her into the church, and locked the door upon her. It was not long before the huntsman heard a hideous roar, and saw the seven-headed monster coming towards him. On seeing the huntsman, the dragon exclaimed in astonishment, "What have you to do here on this mountain ?" The huntsman answered, " I have come to fight with you."
" Ah," said the dragon, " so many knights have said that and have ended by losing their lives, and I will make an end of yours too," and with this the fire came pouring out of his seven jaws and set fire to the surrounding grass. The huntsman was nearly suffocated by the heat and smoke, but his animals came running up and trod out the fire. The dragon now rushed towards him, but the huntsman swung up his sword, which came whistling down through the air and cut off three of the monster's heads. Then the dragon in his fury, reared himself up, shot flames of fire towards the huntsman, and was about to fall on him, when he again lifted his sword and cut off three more heads. The monster sank exhausted, but roused himself to make one more attack on the huntsman. The latter, his strength almost at an end, with one last blow, cut off the dragon's tail, and then unable to fight any more himself, he called his animals, and they tore the monster in pieces.
The fight now being over, the huntsman opened the church door. He found the king's daughter lying on the floor in a swoon, into which she had fallen, overcome by distress and terror while the fighting was going on. He carried her out, and as she came to herself and opened her eyes, he showed her the torn carcass of the dragon, and told her that she was saved. In her joy she exclaimed, "Now I shall have you for my dear husband, for my father has promised me to the man who should kill the dragon." In recompense for what they had done, she then took off her coral necklace and divided it among the animals, giving the lion the gold clasp. Her handkerchief, on which her name was worked, she gave to the huntsman. He now went and cut out the dragon's seven tongues, which he wrapped up in the handkerchief, and kept carefully by him.
This being done, feeling exhausted after the heat and the fighting, he said to the king's daughter, "Let us sleep a little, we are both tired and faint." She agreed to this, and they lay down on the ground. Before sleeping, however, the huntsman said to the lion, "You must watch and see that no one surprises us while we are sleeping," and then he and the king's daughter both fell asleep.
The lion placed himself near them, so as to watch, but he also was tired after the fight, so he called the bear, and said, "Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me." The bear therefore laid himself down near the lion, but he was also tired, and so he called the wolf, and said, " Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me." The wolf, therefore, laid himself down by the bear, but he was also tired, so he called the fox, and said, " Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me." The fox, therefore, laid himself down near the wolf, but he was also tired, so he called the hare, and said, " Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake ma"
So the hare sat down beside him, but the poor hare was also tired, and had no one to ask to watch by her, and she fell asleep. So now, the king's daughter, the huntsman, the lion, the bear, the wolf, the fox, and the hare, had all fallen asleep, and were all sleeping soundly.
Meanwhile the marshal, whose duty it had been to watch from a distance, when he saw no dragon re-appear carrying off the king's daughter, and heard no further sound of any kind on the mountain top, summoned up courage to climb to the summit and ascertain the cause of the silence. There lay the torn and dismembered carcass of the dragon, and near it the king's daughter, and a huntsman and his animals, all sunk in deep sleep ; and when the marshal saw this, being a wicked and treacherous man, he drew his sword and cut off the huntsman's head, took the king's daughter in his arms, and carried her down the mountain. Thereupon she awoke, and was seized with fear. "You are now in my power," said the marshal to her, "you are to tell everyone that it was I who killed the dragon."