When a dragon is discovered up on the Downs, the Boy is not in the least surprised. He’s always known the cave there was a dragon cave, so it seems only right for a dragon to be living in it.
The Boy decides to pay a visit to the cave, and he thinks he knows just what to expect. But this particular dragon is not a bit like the ones in fairy tales!
In Grahame’s story, a young boy discovers an erudite, poetry-loving dragon living in the grass-covered hills above his home. The two become friends, but soon afterwards the dragon is discovered by the townsfolk, who send for St George to rid them of it.
The boy introduces St George to the dragon, and the two decide that it would be better for them not to fight. Eventually, they decide to stage a fake joust between the two combatants. As the two have planned, St George harmlessly spears the dragon through a shallow fold of skin suggested by the dragon, and the townsfolk rejoice (though not all of them, as some had placed bets on the dragon winning). St George then proclaims that the dragon is reformed in character, and assures the townsfolk that he is not dangerous. The dragon is then accepted by the people.
“Of course I was terrible frightened,” the shepherd went on; “yet somehow I couldn’t keep away. So this very evening, before I come down, I took a cast round by the cave, quietly. And there–O Lord! there I saw him at last, as plain as I see you!”
“Saw who?” said his wife, beginning to share in her husband’s nervous terror.
“Why him, I ‘m a telling you!” said the shepherd. “He was sticking half-way out of the cave, and seemed to be enjoying of the cool of the evening in a poetical sort of way. He was as big as four cart-horses, and all covered with shiny scales–deep-blue scales at the top of him, shading off to a tender sort o’ green below. As he breathed, there was that sort of flicker over his nostrils that you see over our chalk roads on a baking windless day in summer. He had his chin on his paws, and I should say he was meditating about things. Oh, yes, a peaceable sort o beast enough, and not ramping or carrying on or doing anything but what was quite right and proper. I admit all that. And yet, what am I to do? Scales, you know, and claws, and a tail for certain, though I didn’t see that end of him–I ain’t used to ‘em, and I don’t hold with ‘em, and that ‘s a fact!”
The Boy, who had apparently been absorbed in his book during his father s recital, now closed the volume, yawned, clasped his hands behind his head, and said sleepily:
“It’s all right, father. Don’t you worry. It’s only a dragon.”
Disney’s version of The Reluctant Dragon is entertaining from start to finish, even though the filmography is older and now isn’t the best quality. It is fun for all ages and is a somewhat rare film that the family — from 8 to 80 — and gather around and enjoy together.