He said he might be a
little in advance of his age, but no matter - science
would come to be honored, some time or other. He said
he would march against the dragon in the morning.
Out of compassion, then, a decent spear was offered him,
but he declined, and said, "spears were useless to men
of science." They allowed him to sup in the servants'
hall, and gave him a bed in the stables.
When he started forth in the morning, thousands were
gathered to see. The emperor said:
"Do not be rash, take a spear, and leave off your knapsack."
But the tramp said:
"It is not a knapsack," and moved straight on.
The dragon was waiting and ready. He was breathing forth
vast volumes of sulphurous smoke and lurid blasts of flame.
The ragged knight stole warily to a good position,
then he unslung his cylindrical knapsack - which was simply
the common fire-extinguisher known to modern times
- and the first chance he got he turned on his hose and shot
the dragon square in the center of his cavernous mouth.
Out went the fires in an instant, and the dragon curled up
This man had brought brains to his aid. He had reared
dragons from the egg, in his laboratory, he had watched
over them like a mother, and patiently studied them
and experimented upon them while they grew.