16. The Burning River

ON THE THIRD DAY, a large, broad island came into view. On it was a herd of gracefully shaped swine; they were most handsome creatures. They killed one of the smaller young for food, but it was to heavy to carry to the boat, so they butchered and cooked it on the spot.

Towards the centre of the island rose a high mountain, which they resolved to ascend, in order to view their surroundings; and Germane and Diuran the rhymer were chosen for this task.

When they had advanced some distance towards the mountain, they came to a broad, shallow river; and sitting down on the bank to rest, Germane dipped the point of his lance into the water. It instantly burned off the tip, as if the lance had been thrust into a fierce furnace. So they went no further in that direction.

On the opposite side of the river, they saw a herd of animals like great hornless oxen, all lying down; and a man of gigantic size was near them. Germane began to strike his spear against his shield, in order to rouse the cattle.

“Why are you frightening the poor young calves in that manner?” demanded the giant, in a tremendous voice.

Germane was astonished to find that such large animals were nothing more than calves. Instead of answering the question, he replied “But if these are the calves, then where are their mothers?”

“On the other side of the mountain,” the giant herdsman replied.

Germane and Diuran the rhymer waited to hear no more. Returning to their companions, they told them of everything that they had seen and heard; after which the raised the sail, took to their oars, and left the island.


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