Grimm’s Saga No. 217
Spring Awakening: the Time when Dragons Stir
Alpine folk in Switzerland have preserved many legends about dragons and lindworms* In ancient times these beasts dwelled in mountain caverns, often raining down destruction on the valleys below. Today when a mountain river breaks out of its banks, tearing in its torrent trees and rocks as it descends, people still say: “The dragon has flown out.” The following story is one of the strangest ever told:
A barrel binder from Lucerne went out to find wood for his barrels. He became lost in a barren, remote area when night fell. Suddenly he slipped into a deep hole filled with mud. It was as if a spring fed its waters into the depression. On both sides of the floor of this cave were passageways leading into enormous caverns. When the barrel binder wanted to examine these areas more carefully, to his horror he met two terrifying dragons. The man prayed fervently while the dragons wound their tails around his body. But they did him no harm. One day passed and then several. He had to share the dragons’ company from November 6 until April 10**. He nourished himself on the salty moisture that formed on the cave walls. When the dragons sensed that winter was over, they decided to take flight. The first one departed with loud flapping noise while the other dragon also prepared itself. Seeing this the unfortunate barrel binder seized the tail of the dragon and was pulled upward as the beast flew out of the cave. Once above, the man let go and soon found himself in the city. To commemorate the incident he had a priest’s robe embroidered, which can still be seen in Saint Leodagar’s Church in Lucerne. According to church records, the story took place in the year 1420.
*A mythical monster like a giant reptile (or dinosaur).
** Just in time to file his income taxes.