E. L. Schwartz The
Spacious and comfortable kitchen. There is no one, only at the burning hearth warms the Cat. A tired passer-by comes in the house. This is Lancelot. He calls someone from the hosts, but there is no answer. Then he turns to the Cat and finds out that the owners – the archivist Charlemagne and his daughter Elsa – have left the yard, and he, the Cat, while trying to relax his soul, because the family is in great sorrow. After persistent requests of Lancelot, the Cat says: over their city, four hundred years ago, a disgusting Dragon settled, who every year chooses a girl, takes her to his cave, and no one else sees it again (according to rumors, all victims die there from disgust). And now it was Elsa’s turn. The returning owners are very friendly with the unexpected guest. Both are calm, Elsa invites everyone for dinner. Lancelot strikes their self-control, but it turns out, they just resigned themselves to their fate. About two hundred
years ago some people fought the Dragon, but he killed all the daredevils. Tomorrow, as soon as the monster leads Elsa, her father will also die. Attempts by Lancelot to awaken in Charlemagne and his daughter the will to resist are futile. Then he declares that he is ready to kill the Dragon.
There is a growing noise, whistling and howl. “It’s easy at the moment!” says the Cat. An elderly man comes in. Lancelot looks at the door, waiting for the monster to enter. And this he is – Charlemagne explains that sometimes the Dragon takes the form of a person. After a short conversation, Lancelot calls him to battle. The dragon is purple and promises a daring immediate death.
Intervene archivist – he recalls that 382 years ago, the Dragon signed a document, according to which the day of the battle is appointed not by him, but by his opponent. The dragon replies that he was a sentimental boy then, and now he is not going to pay attention to that document. The cat jumps out the window, promising everyone to tell everything. The dragon is indignant, but in the end agrees to fight tomorrow
Elsa assures Lancelot that in vain he had started everything: to die she was not afraid. But Lancelot is adamant – you must kill the villain. At this time, the Cat rushes in with a message that he notified the familiar cats and all their kittens who immediately spread the news of the upcoming fight throughout the city. The Burgomaster appears. He attacks Lancelot with reproaches and urges him to leave as soon as possible. The next-born son of Burgomaster Henry (former Elsa’s fiancé, now a footman and personal secretary of the Dragon) demands that he be left alone with the girl. He passes her the master’s order to kill Lancelot and hands a poisoned knife for this. Elsa takes the knife, deciding that she will kill herself.
Having met on the town square, the Mayor and his son are discussing the upcoming events. Henry reports that his master is very nervous. He asks his father if he doubts the Dragon’s victory. The burgomaster guesses that this is a secret interrogation on behalf of the owner. In turn, he tries to find out from Henry whether the Dragon commanded “little by little to stick Mr. Lancelot”, and, without getting a direct answer, stops the conversation.
On the square with a false solemnity, the ceremony of handing weapons to the enemy of the Dragon takes place. In fact, they offer him a copper basin from a barber instead of a shield, hand in a certificate that the spear is under repair, and report that the knight’s armor is not found in the warehouse. But the cat, settled on the fortress wall, in a whisper tells Lancelot good news. His words are interrupted by howling and whistling, after which the Dragon appears. He orders Elsa to say goodbye to Lancelot, and then – to kill him. She obeys. But this is no longer a farewell, but an explanation of two lovers, and ends with a kiss, and then Elsa throws a knife hanging from her belt in the well and no longer wants to listen to the Dragon. We’ll have to fight, the Dragon understands. And leaves.
The cat draws Lancelot’s attention to several drovers with the donkey. They give Lancelot a carpet and an invisible cap, as well as a sword and a spear. Having put on a hat, Lancelot disappears.
The palace doors are being opened. In the smoke and flame, there are three giant heads, huge paws and burning eyes of the Dragon. He’s looking for Lancelot, but that’s nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the sound of a sword is heard. One by one the Dragon’s heads fall to the square, crying for help, but no one, even the Burgomaster with Henry, pays attention to them. When everyone leaves, appears, leaning on a bent sword, holding a cap-invisibility, Lancelot. He is seriously wounded and mentally bids farewell to Elsa: death is near.
After the death of the Dragon, the power is seized by the Burgomaster. Now he is called the president of a free city, and the place of a burgomaster went to his son. All those who are unwanted are thrown into prison. Citizens, as before, in submission and obedience. The new ruler, declaring himself the winner of the Dragon, is going to marry Elsa. But there is no fear that Lancelot will return. He sends his son to talk with Elsa and find out if she has news of Lancelot. When talking with Elsa Henry is full of feigned sympathy, and believing in his sincerity, Elsa tells him everything he knows. Lancelot will not return. The cat found him wounded, laid him on the back of a familiar donkey and led them out of the city into the mountains. On the way, the hero’s heart stopped beating. The cat ordered the donkey to turn back so that Elsa could say goodbye to the deceased and bury him. But the donkey became obstinate and went on,
The mayor is delighted: now he has no one to be afraid of and a wedding can be played. Guests come, but the bride unexpectedly refuses to become the wife of the president of a free city. She turns to the crowd, begging them to wake up: did the Dragon not die, but this time incarnated in a lot of people, is it really that nobody will stand up for it?! At this time appears Lancelot, who was cured by friends in the far Black Mountains. The frightened burgomaster tries to be kind to him, the guests are hiding under the table. Elsa does not immediately believe her eyes. Lancelot admits that he was very homesick for her, she – that she loved him more than before.
Henry and the Mayor are trying to escape, but Lancelot stops them. For a whole month he wandered about the city in an invisible cap and saw what a terrible life people live who have lost the ability to resist evil. And they did it, those whom he released a year ago from the Dragon! The burgomaster and Henry go to prison. Lancelot is ready for hard work – to kill the dragon in disfigured souls. But this is ahead, and now he takes Elsa by the hand and tells music to play – the wedding today will still take place!