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The book of beasts.
From The Book of Dragons by Edith Nesbit.
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Start of Story
The Blue Bird sang more sweetly than ever, and the Butterfly shone more
brightly, as Lionel once more carried _The Book of Beasts_ out into the
rose garden, and opened it--very quickly, so that he might not be afraid
and change his mind. The book fell open wide, almost in the middle, and
there was written at the bottom of the page, "Hippogriff," and before
Lionel had time to see what the picture was, there was a fluttering of
great wings and a stamping of hoofs, and a sweet, soft, friendly
neighing; and there came out of the book a beautiful white horse with a
long, long, white mane and a long, long, white tail, and he had great
wings like swan's wings, and the softest, kindest eyes in the world, and
he stood there among the roses.
The Hippogriff rubbed its silky-soft, milky white nose against the
little King's shoulder, and the little King thought: "But for the wings
you are very like my poor, dear lost Rocking Horse." And the Blue Bird's
song was very loud and sweet.
Then suddenly the King saw coming through the sky the great straggling,
sprawling, wicked shape of the Red Dragon. And he knew at once what he
must do. He caught up _The Book of Beasts_ and jumped on the back of the
gentle, beautiful Hippogriff, and leaning down he whispered in the
sharp, white ear: "Fly, dear Hippogriff, fly your very fastest to the
And when the Dragon saw them start, he turned and flew after them, with
his great wings flapping like clouds at sunset, and the Hippogriff's
wide wings were snowy as clouds at moonrise.
When the people in the town saw the Dragon fly off after the Hippogriff
and the King they all came out of their houses to look, and when they
saw the two disappear they made up their minds to the worst, and began
to think what they would wear for Court mourning.
But the Dragon could not catch the Hippogriff. The red wings were bigger
than the white ones, but they were not so strong, and so the
white-winged horse flew away and away and away, with the Dragon
pursuing, till he reached the very middle of the Pebbly Waste.
Now, the Pebbly Waste is just like the parts of the seaside where there
is no sand--all round, loose, shifting stones, and there is no grass
there and no tree within a hundred miles of it.
Lionel jumped off the white horse's back in the very middle of the
Pebbly Waste, and he hurriedly unclasped _The Book of Beasts_ and laid
it open on the pebbles. Then he clattered among the pebbles in his haste
to get back on to his white horse, and had just jumped on when up came
the Dragon. He was flying very feebly, and looking around everywhere for
a tree, for it was just on the stroke of twelve, the sun was shining
like a gold guinea in the blue sky, and there was not a tree for a
The white-winged horse flew around and around the Dragon as he writhed
on the dry pebbles. He was getting very hot: indeed, parts of him even
had begun to smoke. He knew that he must certainly catch fire in
another minute unless he could get under a tree. He made a snatch with
his red claws at the King and Hippogriff, but he was too feeble to reach
them, and besides, he did not dare to overexert himself for fear he
should get any hotter.
It was then that he saw _The Book of Beasts_ lying on the pebbles, open
at the page with "Dragon" written at the bottom. He looked and he
hesitated, and he looked again, and then, with one last squirm of rage,
the Dragon wriggled himself back into the picture and sat down under the
palm tree, and the page was a little singed as he went in.
As soon as Lionel saw that the Dragon had really been obliged to go and
sit under his own palm tree because it was the only tree there, he
jumped off his horse and shut the book with a bang.
"Oh, hurrah!" he cried. "Now we really have done it."
And he clasped the book very tightly with the turquoise and ruby clasps.
"Oh, my precious Hippogriff," he cried. "You are the bravest, dearest,
"Hush," whispered the Hippogriff modestly. "Don't you see that we are
And indeed there was quite a crowd round them on the Pebbly Waste: the
Prime Minister and the Parliament and the Soccer Players and the
Orphanage and the Manticora and the Rocking Horse, and indeed everyone
who had been eaten by the Dragon. You see, it was impossible for the
Dragon to take them into the book with him--it was a tight fit even for
one Dragon--so, of course, he had to leave them outside.
* * * * *
They all got home somehow, and all lived happy ever after.
When the King asked the Manticora where he would like to live he begged
to be allowed to go back into the book. "I do not care for public life,"
Of course he knew his way onto his own page, so there was no danger of
his opening the book at the wrong page and letting out a Dragon or
anything. So he got back into his picture and has never come out since:
That is why you will never see a Manticora as long as you live, except
in a picture-book. And of course he left the kitties outside, because
there was no room for them in the book--and the milk cans too.
Then the Rocking Horse begged to be allowed to go and live on the
Hippogriff's page of the book. "I should like," he said, "to live
somewhere where Dragons can't get at me."
So the beautiful, white-winged Hippogriff showed him the way in, and
there he stayed till the King had him taken out for his
great-great-great-great-grandchildren to play with.
As for the Hippogriff, he accepted the position of the King's Own
Rocking Horse--a situation left vacant by the retirement of the wooden
one. And the Blue Bird and the Butterfly sing and flutter among the
lilies and roses of the Palace garden to this very day.