Once upon a time, in a country not far from Fairyland, there lived a king and queen and their daughter, whose name was Una.
Una was one of the most beautiful princesses that ever were seen, and she was as good as she was beautiful.
She and her father and mother loved each other very dearly, and they were very happy together, until a dreadful thing happened in their kingdom and took all their happiness away.
A hideous dragon came from another country, and killed men and women and little children. With its fiery breath it turned the trees and grass and flowers into black ashes, and it slew everybody that it came across.
It would have killed Una’s father and mother too, but they and some of their servants shut themselves up in a tower made of brass. The dragon tried very hard to get in and eat them up, but it could not break into a tower so strong.
For seven years the king and queen hid in their tower, while the dragon lay outside.
Many brave knights came and fought with the horrible monster and tried to save the king and queen. But the dragon was stronger than all the knights, and killed every one of them.
At last Una made up her mind to ride to Fairyland and ask the Queen of the Fairies to send one of her knights to kill the dragon.
Una took no soldiers nor servants with her, but a dwarf carried for her the food and clothes she needed, and she rode on a little white ass.
Her dress was of white, but she covered it and her beautiful, shining, golden hair up with a black cloak to show that she felt sad. Her lovely face was very sorrowful, for she was so unhappy at the cruel things the dragon had done, and the danger her dear father and mother were in.
Una safely got to the court of the Faerie Queen, and a young knight, fearless and faithful and true, offered to come back with her to kill the dragon.
His name was George, but on the breast of his silver armour, and on his silver shield, a red cross was painted. So people called him the Red Cross Knight.
The sun shone bright, and the birds sang sweetly, as Una and her knight rode away through the woods that lay between her father’s kingdom and the lands of the Faerie Queen.
The knight’s great war-horse pranced and champed at its bit, and Una’s little donkey put down its dainty feet gently on the grass and wondered at the great big horse and his jingling harness as they went along side by side.