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

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

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the least chance of war with neighbouring tribes. To pre­pare for battle, like Ragnar, they jumped into water, and then rolled themselves in the dust until their bodies were covered with it; then they allowed the sun, which, of course, is always very powerful in Africa, to bake it into a sort of cake or mud-pie crust, which formed the first layer of defensive armour; when that was sufficiently dry and hard they repeated the process, not once or twice only, but again and again, until they thought their coat of mail, if we may so call it, strong enough to be proof against the arrows of the enemy.
A very worthy writer, who lived about 1600, has told us that he quite believes in the reality of winged dragons. After giving us some wonderful stories about them, he remarks that ' from these and similar tales we can easily see that what we find in other authors about winged dragons is all true.'
Switzerland, especially that part of it round about the Lake of Lucerne, was famous for these creatures. There is opposite to the town of Lucerne a mountain, called Pilatus, from the tradition that Pontius Pilate, when banished by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, wandered there, and threw himself into a black lake at the summit. His ghost is supposed to haunt the place ; once a year it appears, clothed in robes of office, and whoever is unlucky enough to see it, will die before the year is out. Mount Pilatus often has on a cap of clouds, and it is said that the weather will be fine, or the reverse, according as Pilatus has his cap off or on. We may well imagine it, therefore, to be a wild, eerie sort of place, in every way suitable for dragons to take up their abode. Our old author then tells us that a peasant one morning was mowing hay; he looked up, and at that moment there issued from Pilatus a huge dragon, which flew across the lake to a mountain on the other side. In its flight there dropped from it something which the peasant could not clearly distinguish, for he was too frightened
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