The Tarasque: The Terror of Nerluc


The Drac: French Tales of Dragons and Demons
By Felice Holman and Nanine Valen
Drawings by Stephen Walker
Scribner's Sons, New York: 1975

The Story
The Tarasque cannot be destroyed by mere human strength or weapons. The people in Nerluc have suffered many years until Martha, the girl with a quiet disposition and a Christian, comes to spread the words of God to the pagan people. She listens to the stories of the Tarasque and sets out, bear-footed, to search the dragon. When she finds the dragon, she uses two sticks as a cross and that stops the dragon as if it is pierced by a sword. She sprinkles holy water on the dragon and that quenches all the fire in him. She uses his sharp tooth to cut off her braids and using the braids as a bridle, leads him back in town, tame as a lamb. The townspeople kills the Tarasque with a shower of stones and Martha weeps for the creature but forgives the people's action because she understands their long-time suffering.

This male dragon is enormous. His body is most like an ox but with six short bear-like legs with enormous claws. On his body he has two shields like those of a turtle but covered with curved spikes, and the rest of his body is covered with closely overlapping scales that formed his armor. His tail is long and curved like a scorpion. His head is that of a lion, yet with a horse's ears, but his face, with eyebrows and mustache, is that of a sad and bitter old man. The Tarasque is described as an evil fire-breathing beast. The other monster similarly tamed, also originates from France, is The Gargouille, even though the later is an aquatic dragon.

Copyright 1996 Roxanne Hsu Feldman Last Updated

April 12, 2003