The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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STORIES ABOUT WOLVES                  169
known charm against sorcery) at such close quarters that it appeared impossible he should not be mortally wounded, in a day or two some fresh horror would announce that the creature was still uninjured. The very dogs refused at length to go after him, and fled howling in the opposite direction. The belief became general that it was no ordinary wolf of flesh and blood, but the Fiend himself in beast shape. Prayers were put up in the churches, processions took place, and the Host remained exhibited as in the times of plague and public calamity.
The State offered a reward of 2,000 francs to whoso­ever should slay the monster; the syndics of two neigh­bouring towns added 500 francs, making a total of 100l. English money, a large sum in those days. The young Countess de Mercoire, an orphan, and chatelaine of one of the finest estates of the district, offered her hand and fortune in marriage to whoever should rid the country of the scourge. This inspired the young Count Leonce de Varinas, who, though no sportsman by nature, was so deeply in love with the Countess that he determined to gain the reward or perish in the attempt. Assisted by a small band of well-trained hunters, and by two formidable dogs, a bloodhound and a mastiff, he began a systematic attack on the wolf. After many fruitless attempts they succeeded one day in driving the creature into an abandoned quarry of vast size, the sides of which were twenty or thirty feet high and quite pre­cipitous, and the only entrance a narrow cart track blasted out of the rock. The young Count, determined to do or die alone, sternly refused to allow his men to accompany him into the quarry, and left them posted at the entrance with orders only to fire on the beast should it attempt to force its way out. Taking only the dogs with him, and having carefully seen to the state of his weapons, he went bravely to the encounter. The narrow defile was so com­pletely hemmed in on every side that, to the vanquished, there was no escape nor alternative but death. Here and
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