The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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26                                 DRAGONS
even less satisfying, being only the moisture which trickled from the surface of the rock. Learned men have certainly proved that it is possible to keep oneself alive for many weeks without food, if a sufficient supply of water be taken; but I do not remember to have met with any other case where any one lived for six months upon such provender. When spring came round the dragons thought it time to leave their abode ; unfolding its wings, the first one flew up, and the second was preparing to follow, when Victor, seizing at once his opportunity and the tail of the dragon, was carried by the creature into the upper world. He found his way back to Lucerne ; but a return to his ordinary food, of whicli he had been for so long deprived, brought on an illness, and in two months he died. His adventures were embroidered upon an ecclesiastical vestment, which used to be shown in the church of St. Leodegarus to any sight­seers who might wish to see it.
Near the church of St. Stephen in the city of Ehodes there was a vast rock, and a cavern in it from which issued a stream of water.1 In this subterranean cave there lived, in the year 1345, a terrible dragon, which devastated the whole island ; not only did it devour sheep, cattle, men, anything living, upon which it could seize, but its breathing was so pestilential that the very atmosphere was poisoned by it. Nobody could venture to go near the part of the coast where it dwelt; in fact the Grand Master of the Knights strictly forbade any­body belonging to the Order to attempt it, under this severe penalty: First, he was to suffer the disgrace of
1 The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or the Knights Hospi­tallers, as they are sometimes called, were an Order founded in the eleventh century, some time after the first crusade ; in the fourteenth century they took the Island of Ehodes, in the Mediterranean, and held it against the Turks. It was during their life in this island that the events occurred which are now to be described. The account is taken from a history of the Order, which is quoted word for word by the author who has told us the story of the Lucerne dragons.
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