XIII. THE DRAGON OF ALCA (Continuation and End)
The people of the Penguins were assembled by Mael and they spent the night on the Coast of Shadows within the bounds which the holy man had prescribed in order that none among the Penguins should be poisoned by the monster’s breath.
The veil of night still covered the earth when, preceded by a hoarse bellowing, the dragon showed his indistinct and monstrous form upon the rocky coast. He crawled like a serpent and his writhing body seemed about fifteen feet long. At his appearance the crowd drew back in terror. But soon all eyes were turned towards the Virgin Orberosia, who, in the first light of the dawn, clothed in white, advanced over the purple heather. With an intrepid though modest gait she walked towards the beast, who, uttering awful bellowings, opened his flaming throat. An immense cry of terror and pity arose from the midst of the Penguins. But the virgin, unloosing her linen girdle, put it round the dragon’s neck and led him on the leash like a faithful dog amid the acclamations of the spectators.
She had walked over a long stretch of the heath when Kraken appeared armed with a flashing sword. The people, who believed him dead, uttered cries of joy and surprise. The hero rushed towards the beast, turned him over on his back, and with his sword cut open his belly, from whence came forth in their shirts, with curling hair and folded hands, little Elo and the five other children whom the monster had devoured.
Immediately they threw themselves on their knees before the virgin Orberosia, who took them in her arms and whispered into their ears:
“You will go through the villages saying: ’We are the poor little children who were devoured by the dragon, and we came out of his belly in our shirts.’ The inhabitants will give you abundance of all that you can desire. But if you say anything else you will get nothing but cuffs and whippings. Go!”
Several Penguins, seeing the dragon disembowelled, rushed forward to cut him to pieces, some from a feeling of rage and vengeance, others to get the magic stone called dragonite, that is engendered in his head. The mothers of the children who had come back to life ran to embrace their little ones. But the holy Mael kept them back, saying that none of them were holy enough to approach a dragon without dying.
And soon little Elo, and the five other children came towards the people and said:
“We are the poor little children who were devoured by the dragon and we came out of his belly in our shirts.”
And all who heard them kissed them and said:
“Blessed children, we will give you abundance of all that you can desire.”
And the crowd of people dispersed, full of joy, singing hymns and canticles.
To commemorate this day on which Providence delivered the people from a cruel scourge, processions were established in which the effigy of a chained dragon was led about.