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

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

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In former times, when hardly anybody thought of travelling for pleasure, and there were no Zoological Gardens to teach us what foreign animals and birds were really like, men used to tell each other stories about all sorts of strange creatures that lived in distant lands. Sometimes these tales were brought by the travellers themselves, who loved to excite the wonder of their friends at home, and knew there was nobody to contradict them. Sometimes they may have been invented by people to amuse their children; but, anyway, the old books are full of descriptions of birds and beasts very interesting to read about.
One of the most famous of these was the Phoenix, a bird whose plumage was, according to one writer, ' partly red and partly golden,' while its size was ' almost exactly that of the eagle.' Once in five hundred years it' comes out of Arabia,' says one old writer, ' all the way to Egypt, bringing the parent bird, plastered over with myrrh, to the Temple of the Sun (in the city of Heliopolis), and then buries the body. In order to bring the body, they say, it first forms a ball of myrrh as big as it can carry, puts the parent inside, and covers the opening with fresh myrrh; the ball is then exactly the same weight as at first; thus it brings the body to Egypt, plastered over as I have said, and deposits it in the Temple of the Sun.' This is all that the writer we have been quoting seems to know about the Phoenix ; but we are told by someone
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