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Once upon a time there was a Samurai called Hido. Valiant and strong, he was afraid of no-one, yet in all the wars he had ever fought, he had always found himself on the losing side. People in his home town began to say "Hido brings bad luck."

And because nobody wanted him to fight for them any more the Samurai ended up a poor man.

He said to himself: "I'll go to a town where no-one knows me. Maybe I'll find work there." He gathered up his remaining belongings, his sword, bow and three arrows, and set off along the first road he came to. On and on he walked, until after many days march, he reached the banks of a lake. As he started to cross the narrow bridge over the water, he stopped in surprise. The way was blocked by an enormous snake, fast asleep. From its mouth and nostrils, it breathed red smoke with a pungent smell of sulfur. Hido thought to himself,

"That beast isn't going to stop me," and on tiptoe he stepped over the snake, without wakening it up, and went on his way. But he had barely gone twenty meters when he heard a voice behind him.

"Hey, you! Samurai!" He turned round. The snake had disappeared and in its place stood a well-dressed man, who made a friendly gesture and said,

"You're a brave one! You weren't scared of the snake. You see, I'm looking for a Samurai, and so, whenever I see someone coming, I turn into a snake. So far, you're the only person that has had the courage to step over it. What's your name?"

"Hido," replied the Samurai, "and who are you?" The man pointed to the lake.

"I'm King of that realm."

"What!" exclaimed Hido. "Is your realm a lake?" The King replied smiling,

"Yes. But under the water lies a great city protected by a crystal ball. My people live there happily, or at least they were happy until the Dragon arrived."

"The Dragon?" asked Hido. And the King replied sadly,

"Yes. Every second night he dives off the bridge into the water, enters the crystal ball and creates havoc amongst my subjects. It won't be long before he eats us all. That's why I'm looking for a Samurai!"

Hido understood what he meant. "Do you want me to fight the Dragon?" he asked.


"I think you ought to know, Sire, that people say I bring bad luck." To which the King replied:

"I never believe what I hear, only what I see. Come with me." He took Hido's hand and they went down into the lake. Wonder of wonders! The waters opened up and they went down to the great crystal circle that contained the city. There, Hido sat down with the King who gave him food and drink. Then he said, "In a little while you will hear a terrible noise. It will be the Dragon. You will have to face him up there, Hido."

"I'm not afraid. I have my sword, bow and three arrows."

"Only three? You will need a hundred arrows!" exclaimed the King. But Hido shook his head.

"They're poisoned, but even if they weren't, they would still be enough, because if the Dragon doesn't stop with three arrows in him, I wouldn't have time to fire any more." Just then there was a fearful noise and the sound of shouting.

"The Dragon! The Dragon!" Hido picked up his weapons and ran onto the bridge, only just in time. For the Dragon, huge and terrible, was advancing, with a roar, and breathing fire. Hido fired his first and second arrows, both of them hit the Dragon right in the heart, but it didn't stop.

Just as the Dragon was bearing down ferociously on him, Hido remembered hearing that the only poison to stop a dragon is a man's saliva. So he licked his fingers and wet the tip of his last arrow, fired and hit the Dragon . . . On it came, still roaring. "All is lost," said Hido to himself . . .

. . . but after taking another step or two, the Dragon stopped in its tracks, shuddered and fell to the ground. It was dead. All the citizens rushed from the lake to greet Hido and shower him with gifts, telling him:

"Oh, brave Samurai, luck is with you and with our people!" So Hido knew that not only had he defeated the Dragon, he had overcome his bad luck.

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