The Shepherd and St George

Once upon a time a loooonng time ago lived a Dragon called Puff.  Now Puff was a friendly Dragon and he was also a magic Dragon because he was invisible to people, unless of course he wanted people to see him, but Puff was a lonely Dragon and desperately wanted to talk to somebody and tell them of his wonderful adventures.

One day a Shepherd was walking in the mountains looking for his sheep when he came across a small terraced clearing and as he walked into the clearing he bumped into something that was not there, or at least something he could not see. He had bumped into Puff dozing in the morning sunshine. Puff woke up with such a start that he suddenly became visible and a great puff of smoke and flames came out of his nose. The Shepherd was so frightened he ran down the mountainside. He ran and ran until he reached his house and as he burst through the door he shouted that he has seen a great monster in the mountains.

Tom, the Shepherd’s son, was sitting doing his homework as all good School children do, looked up and said to his Dad “Wow, it sounds to me like you have seen the Dragon who lives in the mountains”. Tom had heard about the Dragon and had always wanted to meet it so early next morning, as it was a Saturday so he did not go to school, Tom made himself a packed lunch and while making his sandwiches decided to put in a marmalade sandwich just in case he bumped into Paddington on the way, even though that was very unlikely. He set off up the mountain to find the place which his father had described in detail. Eventually he reached the little terraced clearing high in the mountains overlooking the sea, but he stopped at the edge because the Dragon might be sleeping in the sunshine and he did not want to bump into him and have the same experience as his Dad so he put on a special voice and said “Hello, my name is Tom and I have come to find the Dragon and would love to talk to you and hear about all your tales and adventures.”

Puff didn’t quite know what to do. If he made himself visible surely he would frighten Tom so he said in a very quiet still voice “My name is Puff, I am a friendly Dragon and I am also a magic Dragon. People can’t see me, unless I want them to, but you know what I look like because my picture is on the Welsh flag. Would you like to see me?” “Yes please” said Tom and suddenly there in the clearing in front of him was a huge big red Dragon. Tom gasped with surprise and was a little bit frightened, but Puff seemed friendly so Tom sat down in the warm sunshine and Puff started to tell him of his great adventures.

Tom was so enthralled with Puff’s adventure stories that time passed quickly and it was soon time to run home. As he entered the house his Mum asked him where he had been all day and when he told her he had been talking to a Dragon called Puff his Mum said “There are no such things as Dragons, I hope you have not been spying on the Fairies in the glen”. Tom replied “No Mum I realy have been talking to the Dragon”, but his Mum said “Tom, there are no such things as Dragons, I hope you were not annoying the Unicorns in the hidden valley”, but no matter how much he tried to explain to his Mum, who knew about Fairies and Unicorns, he could not persuade her he had been visiting a Dragon. 

Next Saturday Tom was up early having packed his sandwiches the night before. He didn’t put a marmalade sandwich in just in case he met Paddington because he realised that this was rather a silly idea. He set off into the mountains to listen to Puff’s tales.

Now Sunday was Market Day in the village and the Shepherd took some sheep to sell and after a busy day went to the local pub for a beer. The pub is called the Red Dragon and has a picture of Puff on the sign, just like the Dragon he had seen in the mountains and after perhaps too many beers he started to talk about seeing this monster in the mountains. The pub went very quiet as the villagers listened to his story. The people started to be afraid as they had heard tales of Dragons and all sorts of horrible things they did. “We must do something about this” said the villagers. The Mayor said “I know, we will send for Saint George. Saint George is the patron saint of England, but I don’t think he lives in England.”

One of the villagers, who had travelled a lot, said “I think Saint George is also the patron saint of a country far away in Africa called Ethiopia, perhaps that is where he lives”. The villagers called for the keeper if the pigeons and they wrote a message to Saint George telling him they need him to come and kill a Dragon, tied it to the pigeon’s leg and watched it fly up into the clear blue sky.

“I hope your pigeon knows where Ethiopia is?” said one villager.

“It is a pity that the telephone has not been invented yet” said another “It would be so much simpler just to call him”.

The next Saturday Tom climbed into the mountains and told Puff what the villagers had done. Puff was very sad.  All he wanted to do was be friends.

The month dragged on and every Saturday Tom climbed into the mountains to visit Puff. There was no answer from Ethiopia and Tom began to hope that the pigeons had got lost or had lost the message and that Saint George would not come.

Once again, at the end of the month, it was market day and the villagers had not heard from Saint George. Perhaps he was not coming. They gathered in the Red Dragon and sorrowfully discussed what to do if he never came.

Just as the landlord rang the bell for last orders the door suddenly burst open in there stood a knight in shining armour, a red plume of feathers sprang from his shiny helmet and he was holding a white shield with a red cross emblazoned on it. “I’m Saint George the Dragon slayer. You sent for me?” said the man. 

The villagers heaved a sigh of relief and when the Shepherd came home that evening he told his wife that Saint George had arrived. Tom was now very worried and didn’t know what to do. Next morning he was up very early and went to the Red Dragon and sneaked quietly upstairs and knocked on the door to Saint George’s room. Saint George was not well pleased to be woken so early in the morning, but listened to what Tom had to say. Tom told Saint George that the Dragon was called Puff and that he was a friendly Dragon who was magic so was invisible to people, unless he wanted them to see him, and that Puff was his friend and he did not like the idea of Saint George killing his friend. Actually, Saint George was worried about having to fight a Dragon. Last time he fought one it was an exhausting battle and he was lucky to have won, so when Tom said “I don’t want you to kill him Saint George, so please can you come with me to the mountains today and talk to the Dragon?” Saint George was only too happy to do so.

Tom and Saint George climbed up to where Puff lived. “I see no Dragon.” said Saint George.

“I told you he is a magic Dragon and people cannot see him, unless he wants them to, but if you look carefully at the grass you can see where it is flattened as if something is lying on it” said Tom. Just then a still quiet peaceful voice came out of nowhere “Hello Saint George, I’m Puff the magic Dragon and just want to be friends. I understand that you have come to slay me, but that will not do. No, it simply will not do at all. Would you like me to become visible?” Saint George nearly jumped out of his shining armour as there right in front of his eyes was a huge red Dragon looking at him. Saint George, still shaking a little, sat down on the grass next to Puff and Tom and together they hatched a plan.

Next Sunday was the day of the battle and the villagers climbed up to where Puff lived. “I see no Dragon” said one villager. “Let’s go home, there is nothing to see here” said another. “I don’t believe in Dragons anyway” said a third. Just then Puff made himself visible and smoke and flames shot out of his nostrils as he gave a great roar.  The people were very frightened and ran away and hid in the trees and behind the rocks so that when Saint George arrived he couldn’t see any villages. “Where are the villagers?” asked Saint George, “We can’t have a battle without witnesses.” Puff roared loudly and charged with smoke and flames coming from his nostrils and kicking up so much dust that anyone watching could not see anything. Saint George and Puff were hidden by the smoke and dust. The noise suddenly stopped and the dust settled and there was Puff lying on his side and above his head stood Saint George with his sword looking as if he was ready to hack of his head. The villagers came out of their hiding places and began to cheer. Some shouted “Kill the Dragon” and others “Cut off his head”, but Saint George just stood there until all was quit again and then turned to villagers and said “Don’t you know that this is Puff. He is a friendly Dragon and all he wants to do is make friends and talk about all his adventures. He doesn’t need to be killed.”

“It is true” said Puff “I just want to be friends and tell you of my adventures”.

“He will eat our sheep and cows and goats” wailed one of the villagers but Saint George told them “None of these things will happen. Let’s go down to the pub and listen to some of his tales”.

Reluctantly they all set off down the mountain. Some were still worried but many were relieved that the Dragon had not been killed, especially Saint George, who never wanted to kill another Dragon in the first place. As they approached the pub Puff was delighted to see it was named after him and his picture was on the sign swinging above the door. After a good session in the pub the villagers realised that Puff was not a danger to them and was nothing like his cousin Smaug who lived under the mountain in Middle-Earth. Smaug was mean and greedy, but fortunately spent most of his time asleep on his hoards of gold and jewels.

The Adventures of Puff, the Magic Dragon