|The Book of Legends|
|by Horace Elisha Scudder|
|Legends to supplement Fifty Famous Stories Retold. Includes the stories of St. George and the Dragon, William Tell, King Cophetua, St. Christopher, The Wandering Jew, and the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, retold in fine English prose. Ages 7-10 |
ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON
 IN the country of Libya in Asia Minor there was a town
called Silene, and near the town was a pond, and this pond
was the roving place of a monster dragon. Many times had
great armies been sent to slay him, but never had they been
able to overcome him. Instead, he had driven them back to
the walls of the city.
Whenever this dragon drew near the city walls, his breath
was so full of poison that it caused the death of all who
were within reach of it; and so, to save the city, it was
the custom to throw each day two sheep to feed the dragon
and satisfy his hunger. So it went on, until not a sheep was
left, and not one could be found in the neighborhood.
Then the people took counsel, and they drew lots, and each
day a man or a woman and one of their cattle were given to
the dragon, so that he might not destroy the whole city.
And their lot spared no one. Rich or poor, high or low, some
one must each day be sacrificed to the dreadful dragon.
 Now it came to pass one day that the princess herself was
drawn by lot. The king was filled with horror. He offered in
exchange his gold, his silver, and half his realm if she
might but be spared. All he could obtain was a respite of
eight days, in which to mourn the fate of the
girl. At the end of that time, the people came to the
palace and said:—
"Why do you spare your daughter and kill your subjects?
Every day we are slain by the breath of the monster." So the
king knew he must part with his daughter. He dressed her in
her richest apparel, and kissed her, and said:
"Ah, my dearest daughter! what an end is this! I had
thought to die and leave you happy. I hoped to have invited
princes to your wedding, and to have had music and
dancing. I hoped to see your children, and now I must send
you to the dragon."
The princess wept and clung to her father, and begged him to
bless her. So he did, weeping bitterly, and she left him,
and went, like those before her, to the lake where the
Now these people of Libya were heathen, but in Cappadocia,
not far away, was a Christian named George, and this George
was a young
 man of noble bearing. He heard in a vision that he was to
go to Libya, and so he rode his horse toward the city, and
he was hard by the lake, when he saw the princess standing
alone, weeping bitterly. He asked her why she wept, and she
"Good youth, mount your horse again quickly and fly, lest
you perish with me." But George said to her:—
"Do not fear. Tell me what you await, and why the vast
crowd yonder are watching you."
Again she begged him to fly.
"You have a kind and noble heart, sir, I perceive," said
she, "yet fly, and at once."
"Not so," said George; "I will first hear your tale."
Then she told him all.
"Be of good courage," said he. "It was for
this I was sent. In the name of Jesus Christ I will
"I do not know that name, brave knight," said she. "Do
not seek to die with me. It is enough that I should
perish. You can neither save me nor yourself from this
terrible dragon." At that moment, the dragon rose with a
great bellowing from the lake. "Fly! fly!" said the
trembling princess. "Fly, sir knight!"
 But George, nothing daunted, made the sign of the cross, and
went forward boldly to meet the dragon, commending himself
to God. He raised his spear, and flung it with all his force
at the neck of the monster. So surely did the spear fly that
it pierced the neck and pinned the dragon to the ground.
Then he bade the princess take her girdle and pass it round
the spear, and fear nothing. She did so, and the dragon rose
and followed her like a docile hound. George led his horse
and walked beside her, and thus they entered the city. The
people began to flee when they saw the dread beast, but
George stayed them.
"Fear not," said he. "This monster can no longer harm
you. The Lord sent me to deliver you;" and so the
multitude followed, and they came before the palace, where
the king sat sorrowing. And when the king heard the mighty
rejoicing, he came forth and saw his beloved daughter,
safe, with the dragon at her heels.
Then George took his sword and smote off the dragon's head,
and all the people hailed him as their deliverer. But George
bade them give glory to the Lord; and he remained and
 them the new faith, so that the king and the princess and
all the people were baptized. And when George died he was
called St. George, and it fell out finally that he became
the patron saint of merry England.
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