The Three Dogs: E213
In this story from the Brothers Grimm, a brave young lad manages to conquer a fierce dragon and win the hand of a beautiful princess, all with the help of three very unusual dogs. (duration 15 minutes) An episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids, ages 5-10.
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The Three Dogs
What is your favorite kind of story? Do you like funny stories or adventure stories, or maybe stories about fairies or tigers or magic?
Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley. Welcome to Journey with Story. I wonder how you answered my question. Many of our listeners have requested a story about a dragon and so today’s episode is all about a very fierce dragon and a very brave lad who conquers this dragon with the help of another animal. I wonder what kind of animal would be able to fight a dragon? Let’s find out.
Before we begin –remember we love to hear from our listeners, so do get in touch with us at www.journeywithstory.com and tell us about your favorite episode or send us a request for a particular type of story or send us your drawings inspired by a recent episode so we can share with others.
Now, let’s take a journey with The Three Dogs by the Brothers Grimm.
Once upon a time there was an old shepherd who had a son and a daughter. Alas the shepherd fell gravely ill, and before he departed this life, he said, “My dear children, I am very poor and have nothing to leave you but this little house and my three sheep. When I am gone, you must divide these between you, but always be kind to one another and do not quarrel over this.”
So, after his father had died, the brother asked his sister which she would like best, the sheep or the little house; and when she had chosen the house he said, ‘Then I’ll take the sheep and go out to seek my fortune in the wide world.”
He had not gone very far when he met a man followed by three black dogs.
“Good morning, my friend,” he said. “Will you exchange your sheep for my dog?”
‘What would I do with your dogs? My sheep at least feed themselves, but I should have to find food for the dogs.”
‘My dogs are not like other dogs,’ said the stranger; ‘they will feed you instead of you them, and will make your fortune. The smallest one is called “Salt,” and will bring you food whenever you wish; the second is called “Pepper,” and will tear anyone to pieces who offers to hurt you; and the great big strong one is called “Mustard,” and is so powerful that he will break iron or steel with his teeth.’
The lad began to think that this was indeed a good bargain after all, but still he asked, “Why do you want to exchange three such valuable animals for these three ordinary sheep?”
“Ah, that is of no concern for you,” answered the man. “Take my dogs now and good luck to you.”
With that, he vanished as did the three sheep and the lad was left standing with the three dogs, wondering if he had met with a saint or an angel or some kind of magician.
Off he went on his way, and in a little while, he met a carriage rattling along the road. The coach was black. The horses were black, and the coachman and his passenger, a young girl were also dressed from head to toe in black. The young girl was weeping bitterly.
‘Coachman, what’s the meaning of all this grief?’ asked the lad.
At first the coachman wouldn’t say anything, but when the youth pressed him he explained that a huge dragon dwelt in the neighbourhood, and it required yearly the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden. This year the lot had fallen on the King’s daughter, and the whole country was filled with terrible heartache and sadness.
So sorry did he feel for the young girl that the lad determined to follow the carriage In a little while it halted at the foot of a high mountain. The girl got out, and walked slowly and sadly to meet her terrible fate.
The coachman shouted at the lad, “Begone! There is nothing you can do! Go back now while you can!”
But the lad paid no heed. When they were no more than half way up the mountain, they heard a deafening roar. Flames shot up into the sky and down through the flames swooped the dragon in a blaze of fire. But the lad stood his ground, and when the dragon landed on a rock, he cried out. “Pepper – show your strength.” Whereupon Pepper leaped upon the dragon and seized it by its throat.
The dragon beat his mighty wings and clung to the rock and a fierce struggle took place with biting and and writhing and torrents of fire and smoke, but Pepper never lost his grip on the dragon’s throat and finally, the dragon’s struggles grew weaker and weaker until at last he rolled over stone dead.
The Princess was quite overcome with terror and joy, and fell fainting at the feet of her rescuer.
Salt began to lick the princess until she was conscious once more. Pepper gobbled up the dragon’s flesh, and Mustard ground up his bones with his massive jaws. Very soon there was nothing left of the dragon but two of its teeth which the lad picked up and put in his pocket.
The princess was overcome with joy and gratitude. She begged the young lad to come back with her to the palace. “I know my father, the king, will want to reward you richly for what you have done,” she said.
But the lad told her he wanted to see something of the world. “But in three years, my lady, I will return.”
The princess returned to her carriage, and they bid each other farewell.
But as the carriage rumbled over a bridge, the coachman halted the horses suddenly and turned round to her, saying, ‘Your rescuer has gone, and doesn’t thank you for your gratitude. It would be nice of you to make a poor fellow happy; therefore you may tell your father that it was I who killed the dragon, and if you refuse to, I will throw you into the river, and no one will be any the wiser, for they will think the dragon has devoured you.’
The poor princess had no choice but to agree to the cruel coachman’s crafty plan.
Everyone in the city rejoiced to see their princess safe and sound. The king embraced the coachman and said, ‘You have not only saved the life of my child, but you have also freed the country from a terrible scourge; therefore, it is only fitting that you should be richly rewarded. Take, therefore, my daughter for your wife; but as she is still so young, do not let the marriage be celebrated for another year.’
The coachman thanked the King for his graciousness, and was then led away to be richly dressed and instructed in all the arts and graces that befitted his new position.
But the poor Princess wept bitterly, though she did not dare to confide her grief to anyone. When the year was over, she begged her father to delay the wedding of another year, and he granted her request.
After another year passed, the princess again threw herself at her father’s feet, and begged so piteously for one more year that the King’s heart was melted, and he yielded to her request, much to the Princess’s joy, for she knew that her real rescuer would appear at the end of the third year.
And so the year passed away like the other two, and the wedding-day was fixed, and all the people were prepared to feast and make merry.
But on the wedding-day it happened that a stranger came to the town with three black dogs. He asked what the meaning of all the feasting and fuss was, and they told him that the King’s daughter was just going to be married to the man who had slain the terrible dragon.
“The coachman is a liar,” shouted the stranger. “It was my dog that killed the dragon.”
But no one would listen to him and they seized him and threw him into a cell with iron doors.
While he was lying on his straw pallet, pondering mournfully on his fate, he thought he heard the low whining of his dogs outside; then an idea dawned on him, and he called out as loudly as he could, ‘Mustard, come to my help,’ and in a second he saw the paws of his biggest dog at the window of his cell, and before he could count to two, the creature had bitten through the iron bars and stood beside him.
Then they both let themselves out of the prison by the window, and the poor youth was free once more, though he felt very sad when he thought that another was to enjoy the reward that rightfully belonged to him.
He felt hungry too, so he called his dog ‘Salt,’ and asked him to bring home some food. The faithful creature trotted off, and soon returned with a table-napkin full of the most delicious food, and the napkin itself was embroidered with a kingly crown.
Meanwhile, the King had just seated himself at the wedding-feast with all his Court, when the dog appeared and licked the Princess’s hand. She recognized him immediately and knelt down to tie her napkin around Salt’s neck. Then she plucked up her courage and told her father the whole story.
The King at once sent a servant to follow the dog, and in a short time the stranger was led into the Kings presence. The former coachman grew as white as a sheet when he saw the young lad, and, falling on his knees, begged for mercy and forgiveness.
The Princess recognized her rescuer at once, and did not need the proof of the two dragon’s teeth which he drew from his pocket.
The coachman was thrown into a dark dungeon, and the young lad took his place at the Princess’s side, and this time, you may be sure, she did not beg for the wedding to be put off. So they were married the next day.
And in the midst of all this happiness and celebration, the young lad thought of his sister living alone in her poor little house. He told the princess all about her and at once she insisted on sending a carriage to fetch her. She arrived at the palace and was given a grand welcome.
Later that day, the three dogs came to the lad, and spoke to him.
‘Our task is done; you have no more need of us. We only waited to see that you did not forget your sister in your good fortune. Now that she too is safe and loved, we must make our farewell.”
And with these words the three dogs became three birds and flew away into the heavens.
So, who do you think the stranger was who gave the lad these very special dogs? Was he a saint or an angel or a magician? Do you think he was connected in some way to the old shepherd?
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