The Last of the Dragons

This is a story taken from E. Nesbit also called the Last of the Dragons.

Perhaps you already know that dragons were once as common as buses are now. Because every well-brought up prince was expected to kill a dragon, and rescue a princess, the dragons grew fewer and fewer ‘till it was often quite hard for a princess to find a dragon to be rescued from. The last real live dragon left was in England, but that was a long time ago.

The King of Cornwall had one daughter, and when she was sixteen, she would have to face the dragon. The dragon would not eat her, because the prince would come to her rescue. The princess wanted to have nothing to do with the dragon at all, so she appealed to her father. “I could go and kill the dragon myself; I fence much better than any of the princes we know.” She had taken great pains to become the strongest, boldest, sensible, and most skillful and princess in Europe. The king was not moved by her offer and answered, “What an unladylike idea.”

The last day before the princess was to be rescued, she sent a message to the prince that she wanted to speak with him. He announced “I will kill the dragon or perish in the attempt. I love you better than anything in the world.” He looked so kind and sincere that the princes began to like him a little. She answered, “Do you love me enough to come to the rock where they tie me up to free me, so that we can fight the dragon together?” The Prince agreed adding, “It seems such a pity to kill the last dragon in the world.” And the princes responded, “Let don’t; let’s tame him. They say everything can be tamed by kindness.”

When they approached the dragon, they invited him to talk, and offered the presents they had brought with them. The dragon was suspicious and wouldn’t take the cookies they offered. “Go away and don’t bother me.” The princess said, “Dragon! Dragon dear!” The dragon shouted, “What? Say that again.” And the dragon had great tears coursing down his cheeks. Nobody ever called be ‘dear’ before.” The princess said, “Don’t cry dragon dear, we want to tame you.” “I am tame, but nobody but you ever found out. I’m so tame that I’d eat out of your hands. Your kindness quite undragons me.”

The Prince and Princess went back to the palace in triumph, with the dragon following them like a pet dog. The prince had a cart constructed, fitted with fifty seats. The dragon’s greatest pleasure was to take children to the seaside. The children were very fond of the dragon and called him “Dear,” which never failed to bring tears of affection and gratitude to his eyes.

Commentary: In fairy stories for thousands of years, the dragon represents a major life-challenge that calls for courage and creativity. Coming back into the community with the jewels that were obtained from the dragon’s lair represents a new understanding of ourselves and our world. The story beautifully illustrates the qualities necessary for taming a wild relationship into one of joy and generosity.

Courage: They both chose to risk and stepped up to the challenge.

Self-discipline: The princess practiced swordsmanship diligently for years which gave her strength and confidence.

Trust: The prince takes influence from her to make an unorthodox choice.

Creativity: The princes was not defined by tradition nor was she loyal to her father’s views.

Commitment: They made a pact to work together to find another way.

Compassion: They did not want to be part of the extermination of the last dragon.

Loving Kindness: They were able to save the dragons life, and perhaps their own as well, when they lived by the guideline that “everything can be tamed with kindness.”

The partnership that the princess and prince forged becomes a huge success. If we allow the dragon to represent the challenge of creating a great partnership, we see that often we must depart from the prevailing view to formulate a plan that will fit our current reality and values. The princess and the prince were modern enough to reject the prevailing view of what was ladylike. Taking influence from the princess in all likelihood saved the prince’s life.

Together they formed an alliance where they all could live in peace. The dragon becomes an important part of the rise in joy of the entire kingdom. When they became queen and king, the co-creative partnership they forge during their reign, allows the entire kingdom to prosper. They established laws and customs guided by generosity and caring which influences their kingdom for generations to come. The same is true for us as well. The taming of our own dragons will affect the generations that come after us in a decisively favorable way. What qualities do you need to strengthen to tame the wild dragon that is your relationship and what do you stand to gain if you do so?

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Linda & Charlie Bloom

Linda & Charlie Bloom

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW, married since 1972, are experts in the field of relationships and have published four successful books.