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

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

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Nearly a thousand years ago there lived a historian who set down in his book not only accounts of real battles and sieges, but also a strange medley of other facts besides. Of course he thought all he wrote was true, for history, as the dictionary tells us, is ' an account of facts and events,' and the business of the historian is to write about them. The stories in this old book about magic, spells, dragons, and monsters may, perhaps, make us smile nowadays, when we are taught that fairy rings are not caused, as we should like to suppose, by the good people, but by ' an agaric or fungus below the sur­face which has seeded in a circular range.' But it must be remembered that to the men of old time all these matters were very real. Our historian, in common with many wise men who lived hundreds of years after him, believed without doubt that the world was full of strange creatures which lived in pathless woods, in rivers, on mountains, or in the sea. One of his tales is the descrip­tion of a voyage by King Gorm Haraldson, under the guidance of Thorkill the Icelander, in quest of treasure supposed to be guarded by Giant Garfred, who lived in a ' land where no light was, and where darkness reigned eternally.' ' The whole way was beset with perils, and hardly passable by mortal man;' nevertheless, three hundred men declared their willingness to follow the King and make the attempt. After many adventures the wind took them to Utter Permland, a region of eternal
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