Penguin Island eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about Penguin Island.

And old Mael remained deep in thought and kept asking himself in grief: 

“Who will deliver us from the dragon’s tooth?  Who will preserve us from his breath?  Who will save us from his look?”

However, the inhabitants of Alca began to take courage.  The labourers of Dombes and the neatherds of Belmont swore that they themselves would be of more avail than a girl against the ferocious beast, and they exclaimed as they stroked the muscles on their arms, “Let the dragon come!” Many men and women had seen him.  They did not agree about his form and his figure, but all now united in saying that he was not as big as they had thought, and that his height was not much greater than a man’s.  The defence was organised; towards nightfall watches were stationed at the entrances of the villages ready to give the alarm; and during the night companies armed with pitchforks and scythes protected the paddocks in which the animals were shut up.  Indeed, once in the village of Anis some plucky labourers surprised him as he was scaling Morio’s wall, and, as they had flails, scythes, and pitchforks, they fell upon him and pressed him hard.  One of them, a very quick and courageous man, thought to have run him through with his pitchfork; but he slipped in a pool and so let him escape.  The others would certainly have caught him had they not waited to pick up the rabbits and fowls that he dropped in his flight.

Those labourers declared to the Elders of the village that the monster’s form and proportions appeased to them human enough except for his head and his tail, which were, in truth, terrifying.

XI.  THE DRAGON OF ALCA (Continuation)

On that day Kraken came back to his cavern sooner than usual.  He took from his head his sealskin helmet with its two bull’s horns and its visor trimmed with terrible hooks.  He threw on the table his gloves that ended in horrible claws—­they were the beaks of sea-birds.  He unhooked his belt from which hung a long green tail twisted into many folds.  Then he ordered his page, Elo, to help him off with his boots and, as the child did not succeed in doing this very quickly, he gave him a kick that sent him to the other end of the grotto.

Without looking at the fair Orberosia, who was spinning, he seated himself in front of the fireplace, on which a sheep was roasting, and he muttered: 

“Ignoble Penguins. . . .  There is no worse trade than a dragon’s.”

“What does my master say?” asked the fair Orberosia.

“They fear me no longer,” continued Kraken.  “Formerly everyone fled at my approach.  I carried away hens and rabbits in my bag; I drove sheep and pigs, cows, and oxen before me.  To-day these clod-hoppers keep a good guard; they sit up at night.  Just now I was pursued in the village of Anis by doughty labourers armed with flails and scythes and pitchforks.  I had to drop the hens and rabbits, put my tail under my arm, and run as fast as I could.  Now I ask you, is it seemly for a dragon of Cappadocia to run away like a robber with his tail under his arm?  Further, incommoded as I was by crests, horns, hooks, claws, and scales, I barely escaped a brute who ran half an inch of his pitchfork into my left thigh.”

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Penguin Island from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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