"The Dragon After His Winter Sleep" is one of the stories within Project Gutenberg's public-domain version of 1921's "The Chinese Fairy Book."
The anthology was edited by Dr. Richard Wilhelm and was "translated after original sources by Frederick H. Martens."
In his preface, Martens writes: "The fairy tales and legends of olden China have in common with the 'Thousand and One Nights' an oriental glow and glitter of precious stones and gold and multicolored silks, an oriental wealth of fantastic and supernatural action. And yet they strike an exotic note distinct in itself. The seventy-three stories here presented after original sources. ... They have been retold simply, with no changes in style or expression beyond such details of presentation which differences between oriental and occidental viewpoints at times compel. It is the writer’s hope that others may take as much pleasure in reading them as he did in their translation."
Once there was a scholar who was reading in the upper story of his house. It was a rainy, cloudy day and the weather was gloomy. Suddenly he saw a little thing which shone like a fire-fly. It crawled upon the table, and wherever it went it left traces of burns, curved like the tracks of a rainworm. Gradually it wound itself about the scholar’s book and the book, too, grew black. Then it occurred to him that it might be a dragon. So he carried it out of doors on the book. There he stood for quite some time; but it sat uncurled, without moving in the least.
Then the scholar said: “It shall not be said of me that I was lacking in respect.” With these words he carried back the book and once more laid it on the table. Then he put on his robes of ceremony, made a deep bow and escorted the dragon out on it again.
No sooner had he left the door, than he noticed that the dragon raised his head and stretched himself. Then he flew up from the book with a hissing sound, like a radiant streak. Once more he turned around toward the scholar, and his head had already grown to the size of a barrel, while his body must have been a full fathom in length. He gave one more snaky twist, and then there was a terrible crash of thunder and the dragon went sailing through the air.
The scholar then returned and looked to see which way the little creature had come. And he could follow his tracks hither and thither, to his chest of books.