Janni And The Draken
: The Grey Fairy Book
Once there was a man who shunned the world, and lived in the
wilderness. He owned nothing but a flock of sheep, whose milk and
wool he sold, and so procured himself bread to eat; he also
carried wooden spoons, and sold them. He had a wife and one
little girl, and after a long time his wife had another child.
The evening it was born the man went to the nearest village to
fetch a nurse, and on the way he met a monk who b
gged him for a
night's lodging. This the man willingly granted, and took him
home with him. There being no one far nor near to baptize the
child, the man asked the monk to do him this service, and the
child was given the name of Janni.
In the course of time Janni's parents died, and he and his sister
were left alone in the world; soon affairs went badly with them,
so they determined to wander away to seek their fortune. In
packing up, the sister found a knife which the monk had left for
his godson, and this she gave to her brother.
Then they went on their way, taking with them the three sheep
which were all that remained of their flocks. After wandering for
three days they met a man with three dogs who proposed that they
should exchange animals, he taking the sheep, and they the dogs.
The brother and sister were quite pleased at this arrangement,
and after the exchange was made they separated, and went their
Janni and his sister in course of time came to a great castle, in
which dwelt forty Draken, who, when they heard that Janni had
come, fled forty fathoms underground.
So Janni found the castle deserted, and abode there with his
sister, and every day went out to hunt with the weapons the
Draken had left in the castle.
One day, when he was away hunting, one of the Draken came up to
get provisions, not knowing that there was anyone in the castle.
When he saw Janni's sister he was terrified, but she told him not
to be afraid, and by-and-by they fell in love with each other,
for every time that Janni went to hunt the sister called the
Drakos up. Thus they went on making love to each other till at
length, unknown to Janni, they got married. Then, when it was too
late, the sister repented, and was afraid of Janni's wrath when
he found it out.
One day the Drakos came to her, and said: ‘You must pretend to be
ill, and when Janni asks what ails you, and what you want, you
must answer: "Cherries," and when he inquires where these are to
be found, you must say: "There are some in a garden a day's
journey from here." Then your brother will go there, and will
never come back, for there dwell three of my brothers who will
look after him well.'
Then the sister did as the Drakos advised, and next day Janni set
out to fetch the cherries, taking his three dogs with him. When
he came to the garden where the cherries grew he jumped off his
horse, drank some water from the spring, which rose there, and
fell directly into a deep sleep. The Draken came round about to
eat him, but the dogs flung themselves on them and tore them in
pieces, and scratched a grave in the ground with their paws, and
buried the Draken so that Janni might not see their dead bodies.
When Janni awoke, and saw his dogs all covered with blood, he
believed that they had caught, somewhere, a wild beast, and was
angry because they had left none of it for him. But he plucked
the cherries, and took them back to his sister.
When the Drakos heard that Janni had come back, he fled for fear
forty fathoms underground. And the sister ate the cherries and
declared herself well again.
The next day, when Janni was gone to hunt, the Drakos came out,
and advised the sister that she should pretend to be ill again,
and when her brother asked her what she would like, she should
answer ‘Quinces,' and when he inquired where these were to be
found, she should say: ‘In a garden distant about two days'
journey.' Then would Janni certainly be destroyed, for there
dwelt six brothers of the Drakos, each of whom had two heads.
The sister did as she was advised, and next day Janni again set
off, taking his three dogs with him. When he came to the garden
he dismounted, sat down to rest a little, and fell fast asleep.
First there came three Draken round about to eat him, and when
these three had been worried by the dogs, there came three others
who were worried in like manner. Then the dogs again dug a grave
and buried the dead Draken, that their master might not see them.
When Janni awoke and beheld the dogs all covered with blood, he
thought, as before, that they had killed a wild beast, and was
again angry with them for leaving him nothing. But he took the
quinces and brought them back to his sister, who, when she had
eaten them, declared herself better. The Drakos, when he heard
that Janni had come back, fled for fear forty fathoms deeper
Next day, when Janni was hunting, the Drakos went to the sister
and advised that she should again pretend to be ill, and should
beg for some pears, which grew in a garden three days' journey
from the castle. From this quest Janni would certainly never
return, for there dwelt nine brothers of the Drakos, each of whom
had three heads.
The sister did as she was told, and next day Janni, taking his
three dogs with him, went to get the pears. When he came to the
garden he laid himself down to rest, and soon fell asleep.
Then first came three Draken to eat him, and when the dogs had
worried these, six others came and fought the dogs a long time.
The noise of this combat awoke Janni, and he slew the Draken, and
knew at last why the dogs were covered with blood.
After that he freed all whom the Draken held prisoners, amongst
others, a king's daughter. Out of gratitude she would have taken
him for her husband; but he put her off, saying: ‘For the
kindness that I have been able to do to you, you shall receive in
this castle all the blind and lame who pass this way.' The
princess promised him to do so, and on his departure gave him a
So Janni plucked the pears and took them to his sister, who, when
she had eaten them, declared she felt better. When, however, the
Drakos heard that Janni had come back yet a third time safe and
sound, he fled for fright forty fathoms deeper underground; and,
next day, when Janni was away hunting, he crept out and said to
the sister: ‘Now are we indeed both lost, unless you find out
from him wherein his strength lies, and then between us we will
contrive to do away with him.'
When, therefore, Janni had come back from hunting, and sat at
evening with his sister by the fire, she begged him to tell her
wherein lay his strength, and he answered: ‘It lies in my two
fingers; if these are bound together then all my strength
‘That I will not believe,' said the sister, ‘unless I see it for
Then he let her tie his fingers together with a thread, and
immediately he became powerless. Then the sister called up the
Drakos, who, when he had come forth, tore out Janni's eyes, gave
them to his dogs to eat, and threw him into a dry well.
Now it happened that some travellers, going to draw water from
this well, heard Janni groaning at the bottom. They came near,
and asked him where he was, and he begged them to draw him up
from the well, for he was a poor unfortunate man.
The travellers let a rope down and drew him up to daylight. It
was not till then that he first became aware that he was blind,
and he begged the travellers to lead him to the country of the
king whose daughter he had freed, and they would be well repaid
for their trouble.
When they had brought him there he sent to beg the princess to
come to him; but she did not recognise him till he had shown her
the ring she had given him.
Then she remembered him, and took him with her into the castle.
When she learnt what had befallen him she called together all the
sorceresses in the country in order that they should tell her
where the eyes were. At last she found one who declared that she
knew where they were, and that she could restore them. This
sorceress then went straight to the castle where dwelt the sister
and the Drakos, and gave something to the dogs to eat which
caused the eyes to reappear. She took them with her and put them
back in Janni's head, so that he saw as well as before.
Then he returned to the castle of the Drakos, whom he slew as
well as his sister; and, taking his dogs with him, went back to
the princess and they were immediately married.