MIAN AND THE GREEN DRAGON

A HALFLING FOLK-TALE

 
Blessedtales   
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Introduction. The following story was collected from a collection of halfling stories called the "Book of Blessedtales", and concerns the peculiar folk hero called Mian Longfellow, possibly known to those Big Folk residing in or around Helmondsshire as Feygin Greenfoot. Tales of Longfellow are not uncommon among hobbits but are particularly thick in Helmondsshire and the region south of Astran in general. The following is one of the most celebrated stories concerning Mian and his encounter with a dragon, which the Compendium has faithfully reproduced here. Our apologies as some of the charm of the story is lost in the translation to the page.
 

ather round, gather round, young and old, lad and gaffer, maid and gammer, for a story of Mian Longfellow. Now, we know of Mian Longfellow, who was taller than you or I, his face was passing fair, with eyes of blue, and his legs were long and he was thinner than you or I, since he walked near and far, over hill and dale with his cloak and his magic bag.

And his magic bag is filled with dragon gold isn’t it?

But where did clever Mian get dragon gold and a magic cloak and bag? Why… from a dragon of course. Mian was never one to stay at hearth and home for long, and he wandered out of the shire much, even though he grew to be as old as your gaffers and never yet aged a day.

Upon a certain day, in a certain place, Mian wandered into a cave, because Mian often wondered what could be found in caves and in logs, often things like mushrooms which are quite tasty. But Mian found no mushrooms in this cave, but a sleeping dragon. A great, green dragon, all asleep but still quite frightening. And as he realized that this was the dragon’s cave, he noticed that the dragon was sleeping on a pile of gold, big enough to fill a great hall; and he had a thought.

So clever Mian, he stepped on a branch which had blown into the mouth of the cave, making it look as though he had been trying to creep into the cave and thus wake the great dragon, for dragons as you well know, have hearing much keener than you or I. And the snap of the branch woke the dragon who opened his mouth with a thunderous yawn, all fire and smoke.

“Who dares! I’ll swallow him whole and his fathers for a snack, and then feast on their wives and daughters!” Roared the dragon with his mouth full of pointy teeth.

Mian raised his hand, trying to look small. “Was I, Master Dragon, but I’m hardly a morsel for one of your great size and strength. I’m all skin and bones I am, it’d take more effort to put me in your belly than I’d be worth to your belly.”

“It is true,’ the dragon said, examining Mian with his great golden eyes, ‘you would hardly fill the belly of a hatchling, let alone one such as I. Then I will feast on your family instead, little one.”

“Master Dragon, I fear I have no family for you to feast on,” Mian admited sheepishly.

“Then what good are you to me, all skin and bone and orphaned. I should flay you where you stand and roast your bones until they crack.” The dragon's voice crackled like fire.

“Master Dragon, I am but a small halfling, and not very clever, but you have all that gold. Men would come from near and far to get that gold, and you could feast on them!” said clever Mian meekly.

“But men come with swords and armour, and try to kill me, do you think me foolish little hobbit?” The dragon roared at Mian.

“No, never Master Dragon, but were you to give me some of your gold, I could tell folk as there was a dead dragon, and my being such a little hobbit, could never carry it all by my onesome. And they’d come flocking back and you could eat them! They’d never see a dragon as powerful and clever as you sneaking up on them.”

“I suppose I could give you some gold…” The dragon said, scratching at its great scaly chin with a claw. He pushed some gold, a small fortune, towards Mian.

But Mian was cleverer still, “Master Dragon, I’m naught but skin and bones and gold, even as little as you give me, is a very heavy thing indeed. How am I to carry this, Master Dragon?”

The dragon pondered this a while, before producing a bag. It was a small, little bag, much too small to hold all the gold that Mian had.

“This bag, it is magic, it will hold the sky itself, and never grow heavier. It will hold the gold that you have.”

Mian is as we all know terribly clever, and so he spoke to the dragon again

“I am but a small hobbit, Master Dragon, and not at all strong, though I lift all this gold over my back, men may take it from me, and we will both be at a loss."

Now the dragon pondered this a while, and discussed it with Mian. Why the little hobbit was too small for a sword, and such would invite trouble in any case. Swords were dangerous things, and people with dangerous things like swords tended to find themselves in more trouble than clever folk who had no use for them. Finally the dragon pulled a great length of cloth out from somewhere in his pile.

"This cloak, it is magic as well, made by cunning elf hands. It will hide the one who wears it, so long as they stay in green places."

"Master Dragon, for sure none shall catch me with your gold and this bag and this cloak, I'll see to sending you some bigger morsels right quick!"

And Mian wrapped himself in the cloak and disappeared. But clever Mian did not leave the cave, no. For his mind was still thinking of all that gold the dragon had. And as he watched the dragon fall asleep again, he returned to the cave and opened the magic bag the dragon had given him and started to push it into the bag. By the time the sun had gone down, half the dragon's gold was in Mian's bag and he thought it wise to leave.

And so Mian made off with the gold, and the Dragon none the wiser until he woke the next day.
 


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