The Library of History

Page 101

Page 101 alive to the King to Alexandria. It was a bold and difficult undertaking; but Fortune crown'd the Enterprize, and Prosperity effected the Attempt. They spy'd a Serpent lying in the standing Pools Thirty Cubits long, still and quiet (as it used to do at all other times, save when he spy'd any Beast come to the Water to drink, and then he suddainly leapt out, and with his wide Jaws, and the winding himself round about their Bodies, held them so fast as that they could never escape.)

Hereupon these persons considering he was so very long, and naturally dull and slow, conceiv'd some hopes of catching him in Gins and Chains, having all things ready and prepar'd for the purpose; but the nearer they came to him, the more they were terrify'd, and when they saw his Eyes kindle like sparks of Fire, his Tongue slapping about his Jaws, his terrible Hissing, the sharpness of his Scales, his rusling among the Reeds and Bushes when he began to stir himself, the greatness of his terrible Teeth, his horrible Aspect and high Round whereunto he had wound himself, they grew wan and pale with excessive fear, and with trembling Hands cast the Gin upon his Tail; upon which, as soon as it toucht him, the Monster roul'd about with a terrible hiss, and lifting up himself above the head of the First that approacht him, he snapt him up, and tore him in Pieces. The Second he catcht by the winding of his Tail at a great distance when he was making away, and (winding himself round him) held him fast round the middle of his Belly. Hereupon the rest were so affrighted, that away they fled; however, they did not so leave the Monster, for the hopes of the King's bounty overcame the fear of the imminent danger; and therefore what they could not do by Force they endeavour'd to effect by Art, making use of this following Contrivance. They made a Toil of Bulrushes, in shape like to a Bosom Net, large enough to receive and hold the Beast; observing therefore his Hole, and the time when he went out to Feed, and when he return'd, as soon as he was gone forth to hunt for his usual Prey, they stopt up the mouth of his Den with great Stones and Earth, and near to it dug another Hole, and there Plac'd the Toil made of Bulrushes just over against the Mouth of the Hole, that the Entrance might be plain and open. Then as he return'd from Feeding, the Darters, Slingers and a great Number of Horse-men with Trumpeters and other Assailants set upon him, and the Monster (as he came nearer to them) prickt up his Head far above the Heads of the Horse-men, but none of the whole Troop of Hunters durst come near him, being made cautious by the former misfortune; but many cast Darts at him all at once at a great distance; so that by the sight of the Horses, multitude of great Dogs, and the noise of Trumpets, they terrify'd the Beast, and pursu'd him cautiously by degrees, till he came to his Hold, lest by pressing too hard and close upon him, he should be too much provok'd and inrag'd.

Now approaching near to the mouth of the Den, before prepar'd for him, they all at once made a great noise with beating upon their Arms; and so with such a multitude of Men, and the noise and sound of Trumpets, they exceedingly terrify'd the Monster, who not finding his former Hold, and fearing the Hunters, flies into the mouth of that which was open and near at hand. In the mean time while he was filling the Net, by rouling of himself round in it, some forthwith rid up with full speed to the Place, who (before the Beast could wind up himself) ty'd up the mouth of the Net, which was to the Top made very long on purpose for quickness of dispatch in this business. Then with all speed they put Roulers under the massy weight of the Net, to lift it up, and so drew it forth. The Serpent being thus shut up, hiss't most dreadfully, gnawing the Bulrushes with his Teeth, and tossing himself to and fro as if he were just leaping out of the Net, which the Hunters exceedingly fearing he would do, drew him out upon the ground, and by often pricking him in the Tail, caus'd him to snap and bite there where he was most sensible of pain. At length they brought him to Alexandria, and presented the Beast to the King; a most strange Monster, and almost incredible. And to admiration this Creature was afterwards made tame: For keeping him low in want of Food, he abated in his fierceness, so as by degrees to be very gentle. Ptolemy liberally rewarded the Hunters; and kept and fed the Serpent thus tam'd; a most wonderful sight to all Strangers that travell'd into his Kingdom.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books