| The Great Red Dragon Of Wales |
OW IN ANCIENT times, it was a custom, all over the world, notably in China and Japan and among our ancestors, that when a new castle or bridge was to be built, they sacrificed a human being. This was done either by walling up the victim while alive, or by mixing his or her blood with the cement used in the walls. Often it was a virgin or a little child thus chosen by lot and made to die, the one for the many.
The idea was not only to ward off the anger of the spirits of the air, or to appease the dragons under ground, but also to make the workmen do their best work faithfully, so that the foundation should be sure and the edifice withstand the storm, the wind, and the earthquake shocks.
So, nobody was surprised, or raised his eyebrows, or shook his head, or pursed up his lips, when the king announced that what the wise men declared, must be done and that quickly. Nevertheless, many a mother hugged her darling more closely to her bosom, and fathers feared for their sons or daughters, lest one of these, their own, should be chosen as the victim to be slain.
King Vortigern had the long horn blown for perfect silence, and then he spoke:
"A child must be found who was born without a father. He must be brought here and be solemnly put to death. Then his blood will be sprinkled on the ground and the citadel will be built securely."
Within an hour, swift runners were seen bounding over the Cymric hills. They were dispatched in search of a boy without a father, and a large reward was promised to the young man who found what was wanted. So into every part of the Cymric land, the searchers went.
One messenger noticed some boys playing ball. Two of them were quarreling. Coming near, he heard one say to the other:
"Oh, you boy without a father, nothing good will ever happen to you."
"This must be the one looked for," said the royal messenger to himself. So he went up to the boy, who had been thus twitted and spoke to him thus:
"Don't mind what he says." Then he prophesied great things, if he would go along with him. The boy was only too glad to go, and the next day the lad was brought before King Vortigern.
The workmen and their wives and children, numbering thousands, had assembled for the solemn ceremony of dedicating the ground by shedding the boy's blood. In strained attention the people held their breath.
The boy asked the king:
"Why have your servants brought me to this place?"
Then the sovereign told him the reason, and the boy asked:
"Who instructed you to do this?"
"My wise men told me so to do, and even the sovereign of the land obeys his wise councilors."
"Order them to come to me, Your Majesty," pleaded the boy.
When the wise men appeared, the boy, in respectful manner, inquired of them thus:
"How was the secret of my life revealed to you? Please speak freely and declare who it was that discovered me to you."
Turning to the king, the boy added:
"Pardon my boldness, Your Majesty. I shall soon reveal the whole matter to you, but I wish first to question your advisers. I want them to tell you what is the real cause, and reveal, if they can, what is hidden here underneath the ground."
But the wise men were confounded. They could not tell and they fully confessed their ignorance.
The boy then said:
"There is a pool of water down below. Please order your men to dig for it."
At once the spades were plied by strong hands, and in a few minutes the workmen saw their faces reflected, as in a looking glass. There was a pool of clear water there.
Turning to the wise men, the boy asked before all:
"Now tell me, what is in the pool?"
As ignorant as before, and now thoroughly ashamed, the wise men were silent.
"Your Majesty, I can tell you, even if these men cannot. There are two vases in the pool."