Long ago, there was a small town. The people there lived a quiet life – they grew grain and grapes, kept sheep and cows, wove cloth, carved wood and stone, and traded their produce. As the years passed, the town gradually grew larger.
Then one day, out of the blue, there was a great commotion and unrest arose in the town. Cows had begun to disappear from the pastures along the banks of the river. Each morning the cowherd led his herd out to the meadows and each evening he found that one cow was missing.
The town decided to send armed guards out to the meadows to find out the source of these mysterious disappearances.
For two days, nothing happened. But shortly after midday on the third day, the guards came running back from the meadows in terror, crying:
“Help! Run for your lives! The cows are being taken by a dragon! A real dragon! It has taken up residence in a cave near the river, it is huge and breathes fire!”
The unrest in the town turned into fear and panic. Would the dragon carry on living in the cave and eating their animals? What if it felt like eating people? Everyone was afraid that sooner or later the dragon would attack the town itself.
Soon, rumours began to spread that the dragon was wandering around the streets of the town at night. People began to be afraid of going out after dark. The town, which had always been a bustling, cheerful place became quiet and uneasy, its streets deserted. So the town councillors decided to promise a reward of one hundred gold florins to anyone who succeeded in getting rid of the dragon.
Only – alas! – when the town’s…