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

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

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cold and deep snows, full of pathless forests, haunted by dreadful beasts. King Gorm and his followers were met by a huge man named Gudmund, the brother of Giant Garfred, who gave himself out to be the guardian—the most faithful guardian—of all men who landed in that spot. In reality he was a treacherous scoundrel, but at the outset he invited them to be his guests, and ' took them up in carriages.' ' As they went forward they saw a river which could be crossed by a bridge of gold. They wished to go over it, but Gudmund restrained them, telling them that, by this channel, Nature had divided the world of men from the world of monsters, and that no mortal track might go further.' Well, here we take leave of King Gorm and Gudmund, and we will cross in imagination that golden bridge into monster-land, though they did not, nor does our historian, give any particular description of the monsters which lived there; but, from other ancient writers, we can get a pretty fair idea of what he would have been likely to say about them if it had suited his purpose. He would certainly have in­cluded a stray dragon or two; indeed, elsewhere, he does actually give us two dragon-slaying stories, the first of which concerns King Fridleif, who was wrecked on an unknown island.
He fell asleep, and dreamt that a man appeared before him, and ordered him to dig up a buried treasure, and to attack the dragon that guarded it. To withstand the poison of the creature, he was told to cover himself and his shield with an ox-hide. When he awoke he saw the dragon coming out of the sea, but its scales were so hard that the spears thrown by Fridleif had no effect, and the only thing that happened was the uprooting of several trees by the monster, which wound its tail round them in a fit of temper. However, the King observed that In­constantly going down to the sea the dragon had worn a path, hollowing the ground down to the solid rock to such an extent that a bank rose sheer on each hand; so
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