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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Crocodile
Bestiaries and Lapidaries
Guillaume le Clerc de Normandie (Thirteenth Century)
 
THE CROCODILE is a fierce beast that lives always beside the river Nile. In shape it is somewhat like an ox; it is full twenty ells long, and as big around as the trunk of a tree. It has four feet, large claws, and very sharp teeth; by means of these it is well armed. So hard and tough is its skin, that it minds not in the least hard blows made by sharp stones. Never was seen another such a beast, for it lives on land and in water. At night it is submerged in water, and during the day it reposes upon the land. If it meets and overcomes a man, it swallows him entire, so that nothing remains. But ever after it laments him as long as it lives. 1 The upper jaw of this beast is immovable when it eats, and the lower one alone moves. No other living creature has this peculiarity. The other beast of which I have told you (the water-serpent), which always lives in the water, hates the crocodile with a mortal hatred. When it sees the crocodile sleeping on the ground with its mouth wide open, it rolls itself in the slime and mud in order to become more slippery. Then it leaps into the throat of the crocodile and is swallowed down into its stomach. Here it bites and tears its way out again, but the crocodile dies on account of its wounds.  1
 
Note 1. “Crocodile tears” are proverbial. Cf:
            “As the mournful crocodile
With sorrow snares relenting passengers.”
—‘2 Henry VI.,’ iii. 1.    

  “Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.”
—‘Othello’ iv. 1.    [back]
 
 
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