“Orberosia, your cunning, is deep,” said he, “And if your plans are carried out according to your intentions I shall derive great advantages from them. But how can you be the virgin destined by heaven?”
“Don’t bother about that,” she replied, “and come to bed.”
The next day in the grease-laden atmosphere of the cavern, Kraken plaited a deformed skeleton out of osier rods and covered it with bristling, scaly, and filthy skins. To one extremity of the skeleton Orberosia sewed the fierce crest and the hideous mask that Kraken used to wear in his plundering expeditions, and to the other end she fastened the tail with twisted folds which the hero was wont to trail behind him. And when the work was finished they showed little Elo and the other five children who waited on them how to get inside this machine, how to make it walk, how to blow horns and burn tow in it so as to send forth smoke and flames through the dragon’s mouth.
XII. THE DRAGON OF ALCA (Continuation)
Orberosia, having clothed herself in a robe made of coarse stuff and girt herself with a thick cord, went to the monastery and asked to speak to the blessed Mael. And because women were forbidden to enter the enclosure of the monastery the old man advanced outside the gates, holding his pastoral cross in his right hand and resting his left on the shoulder of Brother Samuel, the youngest of his disciples.
“Woman, who art thou?”
“I am the maiden Orberosia.”
At this reply Mael raised his trembling arms to heaven.
“Do you speak truth, woman? It is a certain fact that Orberosia was devoured by the dragon. And yet I see Orberosia and hear her. Did you not, O my daughter, while within the dragon’s bowels arm yourself with the sign of the cross and come uninjured out of his throat? That is what seems to me the most credible explanation.”
“You are not deceived, father,” answered Orberosia. “That is precisely what happened to me. Immediately I came out of the creature’s bowels I took refuge in a hermitage on the Coast of Shadows. I lived there in solitude, giving myself up to prayer and meditation, and performing unheard of austerities, until I learnt by a revelation from heaven that a maid alone could overcome the dragon, and that I was that maid.”
“Show me a sign of your mission,” said the old man.
“I myself am the sign,” answered Orberosia.
“I am not ignorant of the power of those who have placed a seal upon their flesh,” replied the apostle of the Penguins. “But are you indeed such as you say?”
“You will see by the result,” answered Orberosia.
The monk Regimental drew near: