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- Heroes Every Child Should Know - 10/52 -


upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail.

And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he essayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.

And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bore the shield went before him.

And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands.

And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

And David put his hand to his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.

Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou comest to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron.

And the children of Irsael returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.

And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent.

And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O King, I cannot tell.

And the King said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is.

And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand.

And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.

CHAPTER V

ST. GEORGE

In the year 280, in a town in Cappadocia, was born that great soldier and champion of the oppressed whom we call St. George. His parents were Christians, and by them, and especially by his mother, he was most carefully instructed and trained.

When the youth came to the age of seventeen years he took up the profession of arms, and since he was gifted with beauty of person, intelligence, and an exquisite courtesy, he rose rapidly to a considerable military rank. Especially he pleased his imperial master, Diocletian.

One day while the Emperor, who was devoted to the worship of Apollo, was consulting at a shrine of that god upon an affair of much importance, from the dark depths of the cavern came forth a voice saying, "The just who are on the earth keep me from telling the truth. By them the inspiration of the Sacred Tripod is made a lie." At once the Emperor was stricken with consternation and asked who these just people were. "Master," answered one of the priests of Apollo, "they are the Christians." This answer so enraged Diocletian that he rekindled his persecutions.

Now from the first the young soldier George had burned with indignation because of the unspeakable cruelties put upon Christians, and he had spoken out boldly in defence of his brethren. His friends had counselled silence and prudence. But George would have none. He knew, however, that he might be called upon to suffer at any time, and he hoped to do better work for the world and to die after braver effort. He therefore distributed his money and his fine apparel among the poor and needy, set free all the slaves he possessed, and went forth upon knightly travel.

While pricking one day through the plains of Libya he came to a certain city called Silene, the people of which were bewailing a dire misfortune that had come upon them. An enormous dragon had issued from a marsh neighbouring the town and had devoured all their flocks and herds. Already the monster had taken dwelling near the city walls, and at such distance the people had been able to keep him only by granting him two sheep every day for his food and drink. If they had failed in this he would have come within their walls and poisoned every man, woman, and child with his plague-like breath.

But now already all the flocks and herds had been eaten. Nothing remained to fill the insatiable maw of the dragon but the little people of the homes and hearths of all the town. Every day two children were now given him. Each child taken was under the age of fifteen, and was chosen by lot. Thus it happened that every house and every street and all the public squares echoed with the wailing of unhappy parents and the cries of the innocents who were soon to be offered.

Now it chanced that the King of the city had one daughter, an exceeding fair girl both in mind and body, and after many days of the choosing of lots for the sacrifice, and after many a blooming girl and boy had met an unhappy death, the lot fell to this maiden, Cleodolinda. When her father, the King, heard his misfortune, in his despair he offered all the gold in the state treasury and even half his kingdom, to redeem the maiden. But at this many fathers and mothers who had lost their children murmured greatly and said, "O King, art thou just? By thy edict thou hast made us desolate. And now behold thou wouldst withhold thine own child!"

Thus the people spake, and speaking they waxed wroth greatly, and so joining together they marched threatening to burn the King in his palace unless he delivered the maiden to fulfil her lot. To such demands the King perforce submitted, and at last he asked only a delay of eight days which he might spend with the lovely girl and bewail her fate. This the people granted.

At the end of the time agreed to the fair victim was led forth. She fell at her father's feet asking his blessing and protesting she was ready to die for her people. Then amid tears and lamentations she was led to the walls and put without. The gates were shut and barred against her.

She walked towards the dwelling of the dragon, slowly and painfully, for the road was strewn with the bones of her playmates, and she wept as she went on her way.

It was this very morning that George, courageously seeking to help the weak, and strong to serve the truth, was passing by in his knightly journeying. He saw stretched before him the noisome path, and, moved to see so beautiful a maiden in tears, he checked his charger and asked her why she wept. The whole pitiful story she recounted, to which the valiant one answered, "Fear not; I will deliver you."

"Oh noble youth," cried the fair victim, "tarry not here lest you perish with me. Fly, I beseech you."

"God forbid that I should fly," said George in answer; "I will lift my hand against this loathly thing, and I will deliver you through the power that lives in all true followers of Christ."

At that moment the dragon was seen coming forth from his lair half flying and half crawling towards them. "Fly, I beseech you, brave knight," cried the fair girl trembling, "Leave me here to die."

But George answered not. Rather he put spurs to his horse and, calling upon his Lord, rushed towards the monster, and, after a terrible and prolonged combat, pinned the mighty hulk to the earth with his lance. Then he called to the maiden to bring him her girdle. With this he bound the dragon fast, and gave the end of the girdle into her hand, and the subdued monster crawled after them like a dog.

Walking in this way they approached the city. All the onlooking people were stricken with terror, but George called out to them saying, "Fear nothing. Only believe in Christ, through whose help I have conquered this adversary, and live in accord with His teachings, and I will destroy him before your eyes."

So the King and the people believed and such a life they endeavoured to live.


Heroes Every Child Should Know - 10/52

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