Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Lady of the Land
By Sir John Mandeville
AND some men say that in the Isle of Lango1 is yet the daughter of Hippocrates, in form and likeness of a great dragon, that is a hundred fathom of length, as men say: for I have not seen her. And they of the Isles call her, Lady of the Land. And she lieth in an old castle, in a cave, and sheweth twice or thrice in the year. And she doth no harm to no man, but if men do her harm. And she was thus changed and transformed, from a fair damsel, into likeness of a dragon, by a goddess, that was cleped Diana. And men say, that she shall so endure in that form of a dragon, unto the time that a knight come, that is so hardy, that dare come to her and kiss her on the mouth: and then shall she turn again to her own kind, and be a woman again. But after that she shall not live long. And it is not long since, that a knight of the Rhodes, that was hardy and doughty in arms, said that he would kiss her. And when he was upon his courser, and went to the castle, and entered into the cave, the dragon lift up her head against him. And when the knight saw her in that form so hideous and so horrible, he fled away. And the dragon bare the knight upon a rock, maugre his head; and from that rock she cast him into the sea: and so was lost both horse and man. And also a young man, that wist not of the dragon, went out of a ship, and went through the Isle, till that he came to the castle, and came in to the cave, and went so long till that he found a chamber, and there he saw a damsel that combed her head, and looked in a mirror; and she had much treasure about her, and he trowed, that she had been a common woman, that dwelled there to receive men to folly. And he abode, till the damsel saw the shadow of him in the mirror. And she turned her toward him, and asked him, what he would. And he said, he would be her leman or paramour. And she asked him if that he were a knight. And he said, nay. And then she said that he might not be her leman: but she bade him go again unto his fellows, and make him knight, and come again upon the morrow, and she should come out of the cave before him, and then come and kiss her on the mouth, and have no dread; for I shall do thee no manner of harm, albeit that thou see me in likeness of a dragon. For though thou see me hideous and horrible to look on, I do thee to witness, that it is made by enchantment. For without doubt, I am none other than thou seest now, a woman; and therefore dread thee nought. And if thou kiss me, thou shalt have all this treasure, and be my lord, and lord also of all that isle. And he departed from her and went to his fellows to ship, and let make him knight, and came again upon the morrow, for to kiss this damsel. And when he saw her come out of the cave, in form of a dragon, so hideous and so horrible, he had so great dread, that he fled again to the ship; and she followed him. And when she saw that he turned not again, she began to cry, as a thing that had much sorrow: and then she turned again, into her cave; and anon the knight died. And since then, hitherwards, might no knight see her, but that he died anon. But when a knight cometh, that is so hardy to kiss her, he shall not die; but he shall turn the damsel into her right form and kindly shape,2 and he shall be lord of all the countries and isles abovesaid.