“Inhabitants of Belmont, Abbot Mael, our venerable father, informs you through my mouth that neither by strength nor skill in arms shall you prevail against the dragon; but the beast shall be overcome by a virgin. If, then, there be among you a perfectly pure virgin, let her arise and go towards the monster; and when she meets him let her tie her girdle round his neck and she shall lead him as easily as if he were a little dog.”
And the young monk, replacing his hood upon his head, departed to carry the proclamation of the blessed Mael to other villages.
Orberosia sat in the amorous straw, resting her head in her hand and supporting her elbow upon her knee, meditating on what she had just heard.
Although, so far as Kraken was concerned, she feared the power of a virgin much less than the strength of armed men, she did not feel reassured by the proclamation of the blessed Mael. A vague but sure instinct ruled her mind and warned her that Kraken could not henceforth be a dragon with safety.
She said to the neatherd:
“My own heart, what do you think about the dragon?”
The rustic shook his head.
“It is certain that dragons laid waste the earth in ancient times and some have been seen as large as mountains. But they come no longer, and I believe that what has been taken for a dragon is not one at all, but pirates or merchants who have carried off the fair Orberosia and the best of the children of Alca in their ships. But if one of those brigands attempts to rob me of my oxen, I will either by force or craft find a way to prevent him from doing me any harm.”
This remark of the neatherd increased Orberosia’s apprehensions and added to her solicitude for the husband whom she loved.
The days passed by and no maiden arose in the island to combat the monster. And in the wooden monastery old Mael, seated on a bench in the shade of an old fig-tree, accompanied by a pious monk called Regimental, kept asking himself anxiously and sadly how it was that there was not in Alca a single virgin fit to overthrow the monster.
He sighed and brother Regimental sighed too. At that moment old Mael called young Samuel, who happened to pass through the garden, and said to him:
“I have meditated anew, my son, on the means of destroying the dragon who devours the flower of our youth, our flocks, and our harvests. In this respect the story of the dragons of St. Riok and of St. Pol de Leon seems to me particularly instructive. The dragon of St. Riok was six fathoms long; his head was derived from the cock and the basilisk, his body from the ox and the serpent; he ravaged the banks of the Elorn in the time of King Bristocus. St. Riok, then aged two years, led him by a leash to the sea, in which the monster drowned himself of his own accord. St. Pol’s dragon was sixty feet