The Book of Dragons

So he took The Book of Beasts out into the rose garden and opened the page next to the one where the Dragon had been just a tiny bit to see what the name was.

He could only see "cora," but he felt the middle of the page swelling up thick with the creature that was trying to come out, and it was only by putting the book down and sitting on it suddenly, very hard, that he managed to get it shut. Then he fastened the clasps with the rubies and turquoises in them and sent for the Chancellor, who had been ill since Saturday, and so had not been eaten with the rest of the Parliament, and he said:


"What animal ends in 'cora'?"

The Chancellor answered: "The Manticora, of course."

"What is he like?" asked the King.

"He is the sworn foe of Dragons," said the Chancellor. "He drinks their blood.

He is yellow, with the body of a lion and the face of a man. I wish we had a few Manticoras here now. But the last died hundreds of years ago—worse luck!"

Then the King ran and opened the book at the page that had "cora" on it, and there was the picture—Manticora, all yellow, with a lion's body and a man's face, just as the Chancellor had said.

And under the picture was written, "Manticora." In a few minutes the Manticora came sleepily out of the book, rubbing its eyes with its hands and mewing piteously.

It seemed very stupid, and when Lionel gave it a push and said, "Go along and fight the Dragon, do," it put its tail between its legs and fairly ran away. It went and hid behind the Town Hall, and at night when the people were asleep it went around and ate all the cats in the town. And then it mewed more than ever.

And on the Saturday morning, when people were a little timid about going out, because the Dragon had no regular hour for calling, the Manticora went up and down the streets and drank all the milk that was left in the cans at the doors for people's teas, and it ate the cans as well…

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