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

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

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GRIFFINS AND UNICORNS                  7
Griffins were not to be met with every day, nor in every country; but they roamed freely through the Caucasus Mountains, in search of gold and precious stones. Indeed, so fond of gold was the griffin, that after he had dug out a large heap with his powerful claws, he would roll about in it with delight, or sit and look at it by the hour together.
But, unluckily, the griffin was not allowed to enjoy this innocent pleasure undisturbed. The gold mines were the property of an ugly one-eyed race, who dwelt near a cave which is the home of the north wind, and when they found they were being quietly robbed, they consulted what they should do to punish the thief. It was not an easy task, for the griffin was much cleverer and quicker than his enemies, and, indeed, he nearly always got the best of it. Whenever they went out to dig for gold and emeralds, the griffin would hide until they had collected a large store, and then jump on them, flapping his great wings, and shaking his terrible claws, till they ran away in terror, dropping all their hard-earned treasure. There was only one way in which they could revenge themselves, and that was by carrying off the griffin's egg, that had the power of curing every disease from which mankind can suffer. But it was seldom that any one was fortunate enough or clever enough to win this prize, for the griffin is a very cunning creature, and more than a match for the one-eyed race. Still, now and then, an egg was discovered by some accident, and then how the whole nation rejoiced and prospered, till the precious thing got broken in some careless hands !
We all know about the battle, in ' Alice in Wonder­land,' between the lion and the unicorn for the possession of the crown, and how the unicorn was worsted, and ' beaten all round the town,' by the victorious lion. Since that victory the lion has waved triumphantly from the English flag; but he and the unicorn are deadly foes still, and glare furiously at each other across the arms of
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