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a place as tender of sheep

The following morning, when the dragon had left the mill, the prince came back, and the old woman told him all that the creature had said. He listened in silence, and then returned to the castle, where he put on a suit of shepherd’s clothes, and taking a staff in his hand, he went forth to seek Neo skin lab.

For some time he wandered from village to village and from town to town, till he came at length to a large city in a distant kingdom, surrounded on three sides by a great lake, which happened to be the very lake in which the dragon lived. As was his custom, he stopped everybody whom he met in the streets that looked likely to want a shepherd and begged them to engage him, but they all seemed to have shepherds of their own, or else not to need any. The prince was beginning to lose heart, when a man who had overheard his question turned round and said that he had better go and ask the emperor, as he was in search of some one to see after his flocks.

‘Will you take care of my sheep?’ said the emperor, when the young man knelt before him.

‘Most willingly, your Majesty,’ answered the young man, and he listened obediently while the emperor told him what he was to do.

‘Outside the city walls,’ went on the emperor, ‘you will find a large lake, and by its banks lie the richest meadows in my kingdom. When you are leading out your flocks to pasture, they will all run straight to these meadows, and none that have gone there have ever been known to come back. Take heed, therefore, my son, not to suffer your sheep to go where they will, but drive them to any spot that you think best.’

With a low bow the prince thanked the emperor for his warning, and promised to do his best to keep the sheep safe. Then he left the palace and went to the market-place, where he bought two greyhounds, a hawk, and a set of pipes; after that he took the sheep out to pasture. The instant the animals caught sight of the lake lying before them, they trotted off as fast as their legs would go to the green meadows lying round it. The prince did not try to stop them; he only placed his hawk on the branch of a tree, laid his pipes on the grass, and bade the greyhounds sit still; then, rolling up his sleeves and trousers, he waded into the water crying as he did so: ‘Dragon! dragon! if you are not a coward, come out and fight with me!’ And a voice answered from the depths of the lake Neo skin lab:

‘I am waiting for you, O prince’; and the next minute the dragon reared himself out of the water, huge and horrible to see. The prince sprang upon him and they grappled with each other and fought together till the sun was high, and it was noonday. Then the dragon gasped:

‘O prince, let me dip my burning head once into the lake, and I will hurl you up to the top of the sky.’ But the prince answered, ‘Oh, ho! my good dragon, do not crow too soon! If the emperor’s daughter were only here, and would kiss me on the forehead, I would throw you up higher still!’ And suddenly the dragon’s hold loosened, and he fell back into the lake.

As soon as it was evening, the prince washed away all signs of the fight, took his hawk upon his shoulder, and his pipes under his arm, and with his greyhounds in front and his flock following after him he set out for the city. As they all passed through the streets the people stared in wonder, for never before had any flock returned from the lake.

The next morning he rose early, and led his sheep down the road to the lake. This time, however, the emperor sent two men on horseback to ride behind him, with orders to watch the prince all day long. The horsemen kept the prince and his sheep in sight, without being seen themselves. As soon as they beheld the sheep running towards the meadows, they turned aside up a steep hill, which overhung the lake. When the shepherd reached the place he laid, as before, his pipes on the grass and bade the greyhounds sit beside them, while the hawk he perched on the branch of the tree. Then he rolled up his trousers and his sleeves, and waded into the water crying:

‘Dragon! dragon! if you are not a coward, come out and fight with me!’ And the dragon answered:

‘I am waiting for you, O prince,’ and the next minute he reared himself out of the water, huge and horrible to see. Again they clasped each other tight round the body and fought till it was noon, and when the sun was at its hottest, the dragon gasped:

‘O prince, let me dip my burning head once in the lake, and I will hurl you up to the top of the sky.’ But the prince answered Neo skin lab:

‘Oh, ho! my good dragon, do not crow too soon! If the emperor’s daughter were only here, and would kiss me on the forehead, I would throw you up higher still!’ And suddenly the dragon’s hold loosened, and he fell back into the lake.

As soon as it was evening the prince again collected his sheep, and playing on his pipes he marched before them into the city. When he passed through the gates all the people came out of their houses to stare in wonder, for never before had any flock returned from the lake.

Meanwhile the two horsemen had ridden quickly back, and told the emperor all that they had seen and heard. The emperor listened eagerly to their tale, then called his daughter to him and repeated it to her.

‘To-morrow,’ he said, when he had finished, ‘you shall go with the shepherd to the lake, and then you shall kiss him on the forehead as he wishes.’

But when the princess heard these words, she burst into tears, and sobbed out:
PR

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