Adapted by Bertie.
Read by Elizabeth.
Proofread & audio edited by Jana Elizabeth.
There was once upon a time a weaver, who lived in Duleek.
Well one morning, he was sitting at his loom, when his housekeeper called out: “Your breakfast is ready!”
“Leave me alone,” replies he. “I’m here working on a new pattern and until I’ve mastered it, I won’t quit!”
“Think of the fry-up that will be spoilt entirely,” says she, pleading.
“Fie on your fry-up!” snarls the weaver.
“May the Lord forgive you for cursing your good breakfast!” replies she.
When at last he left the loom and went to his fry-up, he found it as black as a crow, for it was the height of summer, you see, and flies had covered it entirely.
“Why you impudent beasties,” calls out he. “How dare you go spoiling my good breakfast?” And as his temper was not at all sweet just then, he slammed down his fist upon the plate in anger. His blow killed a good three score and ten of them - that’s seventy in everyday language - he knew how many because he counted out the dead flies exactly.
When he saw the slaughter that he had done, he felt a powerful spirit rising up inside him. He swelled with pride, arrogance you might say, and he would not do a stitch more work that day. He went about the town, squaring up to people, showing them his fist and saying: “See that’s the weapon I used to kill three score and ten with one blow. All these years I’ve been wasting my powers stuck to my loom. I’ll tell you who I should be. I should be that St. George and the Dragon, one or either or both of them. From now on I’m a weaver no more. You should know that I'm a wandering knight, that’s who I am.”
And sure enough, the next day he called on his neighbours collecting old pots and kettles, and he had them stitched together to make a suit of armour. He took an old frying pan lid to his friend the painter, and asked him to write on it. “This be the man who killed three score and ten with one blow.”
“When people see that written on my shield,” said he, “they shall rightly tremble.”
Next he went home and asked his housekeeper to scour out an old pot.
“Will you be wearing that by way of a hat?” asked she.
“Aye, that I will,” he replied. “For a knight should have a weight upon his brain.”
“But it’s got holes in it and will let in the rain,” she said.
“That way it will be cooler and more comfortable,” he replied.
“The handle looks silly.”
“Every helmet should have a spike coming out of it.”
“Well,” said she getting up. “It won’t be the first sheep’s head that’s been dressed in it.”
“At your service,” said he with a bow, and set off.
As he passed the fields he saw the Miller’s horse out to graze. “That’s the steed for me,” he said. “She’s used to pulling sacks of flour, now she can carry the flower of chivalry.”
As he was riding away, who should spot him but the miller. “Is that my horse you be stealing, my honest man?” asked the miller.
“No, I’m just taking him for a spot of exercise in the cool of the evening.
It will be good for his health.”
“Thanking you, be so kind as to leave her be,” said the Miller.
“Sorry, but duty calls,” cried out the weaver, and he shot over the ditch.
“Come back here you impudent thieving tin-covered vagabond!” called the Miller, but it was too late, for the knight on his horse was already galloping away. He made for Dublin, for he thought it was as well to ask the King of Dublin for work worthy of a wandering knight. Four hours he took to travel there, and when he arrived he made straight for the palace and rode into the courtyard. Now the king was a decent and obliging fellow, and he provided benches in his courtyard where the people could sit and contemplate. The weaver lay down and let his horse graze on the grass that was growing between the cobbles, for everything was flourishing around the palace. As he had come in, it so happened that the king was diverting himself by looking out through his drawing room window. He saw the weaver clattering into the courtyard upon his horse, and then lying down on a stone bench. He turned to one of the lords of court and said:
“What do you think of that vagabond who comes wandering into my courtyard and lays himself down on a stone bench? Now I like to be a decent and obliging fellow, and to provide ordinary folk with places to sit and contemplate, but there’s no reason that they should make a hotel of the palace and sleep here, don’t you think?”
“Sire, I agree with your well considered opinion entirely,” replied the lord.
“I shall go and circumspect this odd fellow myself,” said the king. “For he is dressed most strangely, and I should like to know who he thinks he is.”
And so the king and the lord ambled out into the courtyard. The Weaver saw them coming but pretended to be asleep. He turned his shield slightly to make sure that the words on it were visible, the ones that said: “This be the man who killed three score and ten with one blow.”
When the king saw this slogan he said: “Be sure this is the very man I want.”
“Sire, for what reason?” asked the lord.
”Why? To kill the dragon that’s been annoying my peasants and eating the poultry,” said the king.
“Do you think he’s able?” asked the lord, “when so many knights honest and brave have failed so far?”
“Sure, don’t you see what’s written upon his shield?
A dragon is no match for a man that’s killed three score and ten with one blow.”
And he went up to the weaver and shook the by the shoulder.
“Who are you to be sure?” asked the weaver opening his eyes.
The king puffed himself up all proud and dainty and said: “Why aren't I the king of Dublin?”
When he heard this, the weaver knelt before the king saying: “I beg God’s forgiveness and yours for the liberty I took, please, your holiness, I hope you will forgive it.”
“No offence taken, my good man,” said the king. “And what is it you be doing here, taking your rest on a stone bench in my courtyard?”
“Please your reverence, I came to Dublin to seek work as a wandering knight in your employ.”
“Very well,” said the king. “I have a job that will be no trouble for a man such as you. It is not three score and ten, or anything like that, it is merely a blaggard dragon that has been disturbing the country and ruining my peasants, eating their hens, and, I tell ya…. I am at a loss for eggs.”
“Please, your worship, that’s the job for me,” says the weaver.
“I’m sorry it is not more worth your while,” said the king. “This dragon isn’t worth fearing at all. I must tell you, he lives in a bog in County Galway.”
“Let me at him at once,” said the weaver.
“That’s what I like,” said the king. “You’re the very man for my money.”
“Oh, talking of money,” said the weaver, “I’ll be needing a little to be going on with for my travelling expenses.”
“For sure, take what you need,” said the king, who led him to a cupboard where he kept an old sock full of golden guineas. The weaver stuffed as much gold into his tin suit as he could manage. Then the king said: “Next, to the stables. You’ll be needing a fresh horse,” and sure the weaver was glad to exchange the miller’s old nag for a fine steed.
Now you might be wondering what the weaver was thinking about, when he agreed to go and fight a dragon that had had the better of many a knight, honest and strong. Well let me tell you, he had no intention of galloping on his fine fresh steed to County Galway to fight a fire breathing dragon in a bog. He could hear the king’s gold coins rattling around inside the legs and arms of his tin suit of armour, and he was planning to head back to Duleek and spend the money well. Oh, he was a cute one, was that weaver!
But the king was cuter still, for quality folk have some classy tricks of their own. The weaver was put on a horse that trained for a purpose. The minute he was mounted, away powered the horse, heading straight for County Galloway just as if Old Nick were biting his tail. He kept going for four days, until at last the weaver saw a crowd of people shouting and crying at the tops of their voices: “The Dragon! The Dragon!” and he couldn’t stop the horse or turn him back, but he pelted for the bog from which there was a most terrible smell of sulphur, enough to knock you down. The weaver saw he had no time to lose, so he grabbed the branch of a tree and swung himself up onto it as nimbly as a cat. The horse ran straight on into the mouth of the dragon and was all gobbled up. In less than no time, the dragon began to sniffle and scent about for the weaver, and at last he clapped his eyes on him where he was up in the tree. He says:
“You might as well come down, for I’ll have you as sure as eggs is eggs.”
“No way shall I come down,” cries the weaver.
“So what do I care?” says the dragon. “For you are as good as ready money in my pocket. I’ll lie here under this tree, and sooner or later you must fall down into my lap.”
And sure enough he sat down and began to pick his teeth with his tail after the heavy breakfast he had had that morning, for he had eaten a whole village, let alone the horse. Before he fell asleep he wound himself all round the tree, like a lady winds a ribbon around her finger, so that the weaver could not escape. Soon the beast was snoring like thunder, and the weaver took the chance to creep down the tree. He was nigh at the bottom when, would you believe it? A blaggard branch that he was depending on let him down, and he fell straight on top of the dragon. But luck was not against him entirely, for he landed with his two legs on either side of the creature’s beastly neck. The dragon twisted and squirmed, shook all the scales on his body, and tried to bite him, but the weaver clasped tight to his ears and would not let go.
“By the hokey, this is too bad entirely,” says the dragon, but if you won’t let go, I’ll give you a ride that will astonish you.” With that, he flew away like mad, but to where do you think he did fly? By gad, he headed straight for Dublin. The weaver on his neck was a sore nuisance, and he would have far rather carried him as an inside passenger, but anyway, he flew and flew until he came slap up against the palace of the king and knocked himself senseless. As good luck would have it, the king was looking out of his drawing room window for diversion that day. When he saw the weaver riding the fiery dragon, blazing like a tar barrel, he called out: “Make ready with the fire engines to put him out.” When the courtiers saw the dragon fall down, they scampered out to inspect the curiosity close up. By the time they got there, the weaver had slipped off the dragon’s neck and came running up to the king saying: “Please your holiness, I did not think myself worthy of killing that ill-mannered beast, so I tamed him first, and then rode him here for you to do the honours.”
Sure enough, the king with pleasure drew his sword and made an end of the dragon. Well there was great rejoicing in the court when the beast was killed, and the king says:
“There’s no point in me making you a knight over again, since you are one already, so I’ll make you a lord.”
“Oh Lord!” says the weaver, thunderstruck by his own good luck.
“I will,” says the king. “And as you are the first man I ever heard tell of that rode a dragon, you shall be called Lord Mount-Dragon. And I’ll give you my daughter too in marriage.”
And to this day, in the town of Duleek, the weaver and his noble deeds are celebrated with honours equal to St. George and the Dragon.
And that was The Weaver and the Dragon, a traditional Irish story originally written down by Samuel Lover in his book Legends and Stories of Ireland. It has been adapted and updated for Storynory by Bertie.
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