THERE was once, I don't know where, a shepherd, who one day found a little boy in a meadow; the boy was not more than two days old, and so the shepherd took him to an old ewe and it nursed the child. The little boy was suckled by it for seven years, his name was Paul; and he grew so strong that he was able to uproot good-sized trees. The old shepherd kept the boy another seven years on the old ewe's milk, and after that he grew so strong that he could pull up oak-trees like weeds. One day Paul betook himself into the world in order to see countries, to get to know something of life, and try his luck. He went on and on, and on the very first day he met a man who was combing huge trees like one does flax. "Good day, my relative," said Paul; "upon my word, you are very strong! my Koma!" "I am Tree-Comber," said the man, "and am very anxious to wrestle with Shepherd Paul." "I'm the man you name; come along and let us wrestle," exclaimed Paul. And thereupon he seized Tree-Comber and threw him to the ground with such force that he sunk into the ground as far as his knees. But he soon recovered, jumped up, seized Paul, and threw him to the ground, so that he went in as far as his waist; and then Paul again caught him, and put him in as far as his neck. "That will do!" called out Tree-Comber; "I can see that you are a smart fellow, and should be glad to become your ally." "Well and good," said Paul, and they continued their journey together.
They went on and soon after found a man who was crushing stones to powder with his hands, as if they were clods. "Good day," said Paul; "you must be a strong chap, my Koma." "I am Stone-Crusher, and should like to wrestle with Shepherd Paul." Thereupon Paul wrestled with him too, and defeated him the same way as he had done Tree-Comber; and he too became an ally, and all three continued their journey. After a short time, they came across a man who was kneading hard iron, as if it were dough. "Good day," said Paul; "you must have the strength of a devil, Koma." "I am Iron-Kneader, and should like to fight Shepherd Paul," answered this man. Paul wrestled with him and defeated him, and they all four became allies, and continued their journey. About noon they settled down in a forest, and Paul thus addressed his mates: "We three are going to look for some game, and you, Koma Tree-Comber, will stop here in the meantime and prepare a good supper for us." The three went hunting, and Tree-Comber in the meantime commenced to boil and roast, until he had nearly got the meal ready, when a little dwarf with a pointed beard came to the place, and said, "What are you cooking, countryman? Give me some of it." "I'll give you some on your back if you like," replied Tree-Comber. The little dwarf made no reply, but waited till the sauerkraut was done, and then, suddenly seizing Tree-Comber by the neck and pulling him on his back, he placed the saucepan on his belly, ate the sauerkraut, and disappeared. Tree-Comber was rather ashamed of this, and in order to hide the real facts from his friends, commenced working afresh; however, the vegetable was not done by the time his mates returned, but he did not tell them the cause of it.
Next day, Stone-Crusher remained behind, while the others went hunting; he fared like Tree-Comber with the dwarf with the pointed beard, and the same thing happened to Iron-Kneader on the third day. Thereupon, Paul spoke thus: "Well, my Komas, there must be something behind all this, I think; none of you have been able to do the work while the rest of us were hunting. I propose that you three go hunting, while I remain and prepare the food." They went in high glee, chuckling that the little dwarf would teach Shepherd Paul a lesson also. Paul hurried on with the cooking, and had nearly finished, when the little fellow with the pointed beard came and asked for something to eat. "Be off," shouted Paul, and picked up the saucepan, so that the little fellow could not get it. The dwarf tried to get hold of his collar, but Paul swiftly seized him by his beard and tied him to a big tree, so that he could not move. The three mates returned early from their hunting, but Paul had the supper ready, and thus spoke to the three astonished men: "You, my Komas, are a fraud, you weren't able even to outwit that little dwarf with the pointed beard. Now let us have our supper at once, and then I will show you what I have done with him." When they finished, Paul took his mates to the place where he had fastened the dwarf, but he was gone, and so was the tree, as he had pulled it up by its roots and run away. The four fellows thereupon decided to give chase to him, and they followed the track made by the tree, and thus arrived at a deep hole, and as the track of the tree stopped here they came to the conclusion that the dwarf must have for a certainty got down into the deep hole. They held a short consultation and came to the resolution that they would lower Paul in a basket, and that they would remain above until Paul should pull the rope, and thus give them a signal to haul him up with all haste. So they lowered Paul, and deep below in the earth among beautiful valleys he found a splendid castle, into which he at once entered. In the castle he found a beautiful girl who at once warned him to run away as fast as possible if he valued his life, because the castle belonged to a dragon with six heads, who had kidnapped her from earth, taken her to this underground place, and made her his wife; but Paul decided to await the dragon's return, as he was desirous of liberating the pretty girl. The monster with six heads soon arrived and angrily gnashed his teeth at the foolhardy Paul, who thus addressed him, "I am the famous Shepherd Paul, and I've come to fight you." "Well done," replied the dragon; "so, at least, I shall have something for supper, but first, let's have something to whet our appetites." Whereupon he commenced to devour a few hundredweights of huge round boulders, and, after he had satisfied his hunger, offered Paul one. Paul took a wooden knife and cut in two the stone offered to him, which weighed one hundredweight, and took up both halves and launched them with such power at the dragon that two of his heads were smashed to pulp. The dragon thereupon got into an awful rage, and made a furious onslaught on Paul, but he with a clever sword-cut slashed off two more of the monster's heads, and took him round the waist, and dashed him against the rock with such force, that the brains splashed out of the remaining two heads. The pretty girl thereupon with tears in her eyes thanked Paul for his services, for having liberated her from her ugly tormentor, but at the same time informed him, that two younger sisters of hers were languishing in the possession of two more powerful dragons.
Paul thereupon at once made up his mind to liberate the other two, and to take the girl with him. The girl handed him a golden rod, with which he struck the castle; and it became a golden apple, which he put in his pocket and went on. Not far off in a gorgeous castle he found the second girl, whose husband and tormentor was a dragon with twelve heads. This girl gave Paul a silk shirt in order to make him more fit for the struggle with her husband. The shirt made Paul twice as strong. He had dinner with the twelve-headed dragon, and after a long struggle succeeded in defeating him, and took away all his twelve heads; he then transformed the castle with a golden rod into a golden apple, and continued his way with the two girls. Not far off in a castle they found the third girl, who was the youngest and the prettiest, and whose husband was a dragon with eighteen heads, who, however, assumed the shape of a little dwarf with a pointed beard whenever he went on his expeditions on the surface of the earth.
Paul longed more than ever to be at him, and in order the better to fortify him for the struggle with the awful monster, the pretty girl dressed him in a silk shirt which made him ten times stronger, and she also gave him some wine which doubled his power again. When the huge dragon with the eighteen heads arrived, Paul at once accosted him, saying, "Well, my Koma, I'm Shepherd Paul, and I've come to wrestle with you, and to liberate that pretty girl from your claws." "I'm glad I've met you," replied the dragon, "it's you who killed my two brothers, and you'll have to pay for that with your life, for it is only your blood that can repay me for the loss." Thereupon the monster went into the next room, to put on the fortifying shirt, and to drink the strengthening wine; but there was no shirt, and no wine in the cask, because the pretty girl had allowed what Paul could not drink to run out. The dragon became very angry and began to pace up and down, being rather nervous as to the issue. But Paul was not long before he set at him, and with one stroke slashed off six of his heads, and, after a short struggle, either broke or cut off the rest; and having thus liberated the third girl, he transformed the castle, like the previous two, into a golden apple, hid it in his pocket, and started with the three girls towards the opening at the top of which his mates awaited him.
Having got there, as there was no room for all four in the basket, Paul bade the three girls to get in, and pulled the rope, whereupon his three mates hastily drew up the basket. Seeing the three pretty girls, they forgot all about hauling up Paul; each chose a girl and hastily left the forest, and settled down with them beyond the seventh country. Paul seeing that he was deceived by his faithless friends, began to swear in his rage, and vowed by heaven and earth that so soon as he should get out he would take bloody revenge on his deceitful mates, even if they had hidden themselves at the end of the world. Thereupon, he walked about aimlessly underground, and cogitated how to get out. After long wanderings he came to the nest of the huge griffin, in which he found several small griffins, and as the old bird was away, and it was hailing fire, he covered the nest with his cloak, and thus saved the little griffins. The old bird, in order to reward him, took him upon its back to carry him up to the surface. It took with it some provisions for the way, which consisted of a roast bullock hanging on one side, and a cask of wine on the other, and gave Paul directions that whenever it turned its head to the bullock he was to cut off a piece, and put it in its mouth, and whenever it turned its head to the cask, to pour a pint of wine down its throat. The griffin started off with Paul on its back, and flew three days and three nights, and on the morning of the fourth day it alighted with Paul outside the very town where his three faithless mates lived, put him down, and returned to its nest. Paul, as soon as he had rested from his fatigues, started off in search of his three mates, who were dreadfully frightened when they saw Shepherd Paul appear, who they thought was dead long ago. Paul gave them a severe scolding for their faithlessness, and then quietly killed all three. He placed the three apples in the prettiest part of the town, side by side, tapped them with the golden rod, and they became three splendid castles. He placed the three girls in them, married the youngest, and lives with her still in the middle castle, if he hasn't died since!