The dragon and his mother were rigid with amazement when they saw Stan come in the next morning as sound as an egg.
"Good morning; but how did you sleep last night?"
"Very well," replied Stan. "Only I dreamed that a flea bit me just here on the forehead, and it seems as if it still pained me."
"Just listen to that, mother!" cried the dragon. "Did you hear? He talks about a flea, and I hit him with my club!"
This was too much for the she-dragon. She perceived that it isn't worth while to argue with such people. So they hastened to fill his sacks, in order to get rid of him as quickly as possible. But poor Stan now began to perspire. When he stood beside the bags, he trembled like an aspen leaf, because he was unable to lift even one of them from the ground. So he stood staring at them.
"Why are you standing there?" asked the dragon.
"H'm! I'm waiting," replied Stan, "because I would rather stay with you another year. I'm ashamed to have any body see me carry away so little at one time. I'm afraid people will say, 'Look at Stan Bolovan, who in one year has grown as weak as a dragon.'"
Now, it was the two dragons' turn to be frightened.
They vainly told him that they would give him seven—nay, three times seven or even seven times seven—sacks of ducats, if he would only go away.
"I'll tell you what," said Stan, at last. "As I see you don't want to keep me, I won't force you to do so. Have it your own way. I'll go. But, that I need not be ashamed before the people, you must carry this treasure home for me."
The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when the dragon picked up the sacks and set off with Stan.
Short and smooth, yet always too long, is the road that leads home. But, when Stan found himself close to his house, and heard his children's shouts, he began to walk slower. It seemed too near; for he was afraid that, if the dragon knew where he lived, he might come to take away the treasure. Only he was puzzled to find any way of carrying his money home alone.
"I really don't know what to do," he said, turning to the dragon. "I have a hundred hungry children, and fear you may fare badly among them, because they are very fond of fighting. But just behave sensibly, and I'll protect you as well as I can."
A hundred children! That's no joke! The dragon—though a dragon of dragon race—let the bags fall in his fright. But, from sheer terror, he picked them up again. Yet his fear did not gain the mastery till they entered the court-yard. When the hungry children saw their father coming with the loaded dragon, they rushed toward him, each one with a knife in the right hand and a fork in the left. Then they all began to whet the knives on the forks, shrieking at the top of their lungs, "We want dragon meat!"
This was enough to scare Satan himself. The dragon threw down the sacks, and then took to flight, so frightened that since that time he has never dared to come back to the world.