The Bee-Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales HTML version

The Griffin And The Minor Canon
Over the great door of an old, old church which stood in a quiet town of a far-away land
there was carved in stone the figure of a large griffin. The old-time sculptor had done his
work with great care, but the image he had made was not a pleasant one to look at. It had
a large head, with enormous open mouth and savage teeth; from its back arose great
wings, armed with sharp hooks and prongs; it had stout legs in front, with projecting
claws; but there were no legs behind,—the body running out into a long and powerful
tail, finished off at the end with a barbed point. This tail was coiled up under him, the end
sticking up just back of his wings.
The sculptor, or the people who had ordered this stone figure, had evidently been very
much pleased with it, for little copies of it, also in stone, had been placed here and there
along the sides of the church, not very far from the ground, so that people could easily
look at them, and ponder on their curious forms. There were a great many other
sculptures on the outside of this church,—saints, martyrs, grotesque heads of men, beasts,
and birds, as well as those of other creatures which cannot be named, because nobody
knows exactly what they were; but none were so curious and interesting as the great
griffin over the door, and the little griffins on the sides of the church.
A long, long distance from the town, in the midst of dreadful wilds scarcely known to
man, there dwelt the Griffin whose image had been put up over the church-door. In some
way or other, the old-time sculptor had seen him, and afterward, to the best of his
memory, had copied his figure in stone. The Griffin had never known this, until,
hundreds of years afterward, he heard from a bird, from a wild animal, or in some manner
which it is not now easy to find out, that there was a likeness of him on the old church in
the distant town. Now, this Griffin had no idea how he looked. He had never seen a
mirror, and the streams where he lived were so turbulent and violent that a quiet piece of
water, which would reflect the image of any thing looking into it, could not be found.
Being, as far as could be ascertained, the very last of his race, he had never seen another
griffin. Therefore it was, that, when he heard of this stone image of himself, he became
very anxious to know what he looked like, and at last he determined to go to the old
church, and see for himself what manner of being he was. So he started off from the
dreadful wilds, and flew on and on until he came to the countries inhabited by men,
where his appearance in the air created great consternation; but he alighted nowhere,
keeping up a steady flight until he reached the suburbs of the town which had his image
on its church. Here, late in the afternoon, he alighted in a green meadow by the side of a
brook, and stretched himself on the grass to rest. His great wings were tired, for he had
not made such a long flight in a century, or more.
The news of his coming spread quickly over the town, and the people, frightened nearly
out of their wits by the arrival of so extraordinary a visitor, fled into their houses, and
shut themselves up. The Griffin called loudly for some one to come to him, but the more
he called, the more afraid the people were to show themselves. At length he saw two