The Legend of Smok Wawelski
(the Dragon from Wawel)

    Some centuries ago there lived in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill a most horrible fire-belching dragon, a monster that ravaged the nearby meadows by devouring grazing cattle. In vain the bravest knights tried to overcome the dragon. Even before they could draw their swords the fire from the beast's mouth destroyed them, so that one after another the best fell.

    The king who reigned at the time sent out his heralds to announce that whosoever could slay the dragon would as a reward marry his daughter and sit on his throne after his death. Contenders encouraged by such a handsome offer came in hosts, but they too were destroyed. The king gave himself up to despair, while the king's daughter wrung her hands as ahe could not expect to ever be married. The dragon-ravaged country became poorer and poorer.

    Then a shoemaker named Krak decided to conquer the beast by a unique strategy. After stuffing a fat ram with sulphur, he placed the tasty tidbit at the cave's entrance. The dragon, being greedy as well as stupid, swallowed the treacherous gift in one mouthful. Its throat burned so that it ran to the nearby Wisla river, gulping down so much water that it burst with a great bang, thus setting the town and the surrounding countryside free from its grip of terror.

    The shoemaker married the king's daughter, and after the monarch's death, ascended to the throne. The town he rescued from the clutches of Smok, the dragon of Wawel Hill, took its name from him, and bears it to this day with great honour - the old capital of Poland, Krakow.

 

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