Interea quidam senex de summo colle prospectat , quem circum capellae pascentes opilionem esse profecto clamabant . Eum rogavit unus e nostris haberetne venui lactem vel adhuc liquidum vel in caseum recentem inchoatum . At ille diu capite quassanti Vos autem inquit De cibo vel poculo ) vel omnino ulla refectione nunc cogitatis ? An nulli scitis quo loco comederitis ? Et cum dicto conductis oviculis conversus longe recessit . Quae vox eius et fuga pastoribus nostris non mediocrem pavorem incussit : ac dum perterriti de loci qualitate sciscitari gestiunt nec est qui doceat , senex alius , magnus ille quidem , gravatus annis , totus in baculum pronus et lassum trahens vestigium , ubertim lacrimans per viam proximat , visisque nobis cum fletu maximo singulorum iuvenum genua contingens sic adorabat :
Per fortunas vestrosque genios , sic ad meae senectutis spatia validi laetique veniatis , decepto seni subsistite meumque parvulum ab inferis ereptum canis meis reddite . Nepos namque meus et itineris huius suavis comes dum forte passerem incantantem saepiculae consectatur arripere , delapsus in proxumam foveam , quae fruticibus imis subpatet , in extremo iam vitae consistit periculo , quippe cum de fletu ac voce
ipsius avum sibi saepicule clamitantis vivere illum quidem sentiam , sed per corporis , ut videtis , mei defectam valitudinem opitulari nequeam . At vobis aetatis et roboris beneficio facile est suppetiari miserrimo seni puerumque illum novissimum successionis meae atque unicam stirpem sospitem mihi facere .
Sic deprecantis suamque canitiem distrahentis totos quidem miseruit ; sed unus prae ceteris et animo fortior et aetate iuvenior et corpore validior , quique solus praeter alios incolumis proelium superius evaserat , exsurgit alacer et percontatus quonam loci puer , ille decidisset , monstrantem digito non longe frutices horridos senem illum impigre comitatur . Ac dum pabulo nostro suaque cura refecti sarcinulis quisque sumptis suis viam capessunt , clamore primum nominatim cientes illum iuvenem frequenter inclamant ; mox mora diutina commoti mittunt e suis arcessitorem unum , qui requisitum comitem tempestivae viae commonefactum reduceret . At ille modicum commoratus refert sese buxanti pallore trepidus miraque super conservo suo renuntiat : conspicatum se quippe supinato illi et iam ex maxima parte consumpto immanem draconem mandentem insistere nec ullum usquam miserrimum senem comparere illum . Qua re cognita et cum pastoris sermone collata , qui saevum prorsus hunc illum nec alium locorum inquilinum praeminabatur , pestilenti deserta regione velociori se fuga proripiunt . nosque pellunt crebris tundentes fustibus .
Meanwhile an old man was watching us from the top of a neighbouring hill , obviously a shepherd , for there were goats grazing around him . One of our men asked him whether he had any milk for sale , either fresh or in the form of new cheese . For a long time he merely shook his head . At last , ‘Are you thinking , ’ he asked , ‘of food or drink or any kind of refreshment now ? Haven’t you any idea where you’ve chosen to stop ? ’ And so saying he rounded up his
flock , turned about , and left the scene . His words and his
disappearance greatly alarmed our herdsmen . Panic-stricken , they
were anxiously asking each other what sort of a place this was and
finding nobody to tell them , when there appeared on the road
another old man , this one tall but bowed down by age , leaning heavily
on a staff and wearily dragging his feet , and weeping profusely . When
he saw us he burst out crying , and supplicating each man in turn he
uttered the following appeal :
‘I implore you by your Fortunes and your Guardian Spirits , if you
hope to reach my age in health and happiness , come to the aid of an
old man in his bereavement , rescue my little boy from death and
restore him to his white-haired grandfather . My grandson , my darling
traveling-companion , was trying to catch a bird that was singing in
the hedgerow , and fell into a yawning pit in the bottom of the
thicket . Now he is in peril of his life ; I know he is alive , for I can
hear him crying and calling " Grandfather " over and over again , but as
you see I am too feeble in body to be able to rescue him . But you are
young and strong , and it will be no trouble to you to help a poor old
man and to restore to me this child , the last of my line and all the
family I have left . '
As he uttered this plea and tore his white hair , everybody pitied him . Then one of them , braver and younger and stronger than the
rest , the only one who had come off unscathed from the recent battle ,
jumped up eagerly and asked where exactly the boy had fallen in . The
old man pointed out a thicket not far away , and the volunteer went
off briskly with him . After a while , when we animals had grazed and
the men had seen to themselves and felt restored , they all began to
pack up and get ready to move off . First of all they called the
volunteer by name , with loud and repeated shouts ; then alarmed by
the prolonged delay they sent a messenger to find him and warn him
that it was time to leave , and bring him back . Almost immediately
the messenger reappeared , deathly pale and terrified , with dreadful
news of his fellow servant . He had found him lying half-eaten , with a
monstrous serpent crouched over him and devouring him , and of the
poor old man not a sign anywhere . Hearing this and recollecting what
the old shepherd had said , they realized that this indeed was the
fierce denizen of the region that he had been threatening them with ,
and at once quitted the pestilential place and fled precipitately ,
urging us animals on with continual beating .
In the meane season wee perceived an old man , who seemed to be a Shepheard , by reason of the Goates and Sheep that fed round about him . Then one of our company demanded whether he had any milke , butter , or cheese to sell . To whom he made answere saying : Doe you looke for any meate or drinke , or any other refection here ? Know you not in what place you be ?
And therewithall he tooke his sheepe and drave them away as fast as he might possible . This answere made our shepheards greatly to feare , that they thought of nothing else , but to enquire what Country they were in : Howbeit they saw no manner of person of whom they might demand . At length as they were thus in doubt , they perceived another old man with a staffe in his hand very weary with travell , who approaching nigh to our company , began to weepe and complaine saying : Alas masters I pray you succour me miserable caitife , and restore my nephew to me againe , that by following a sparrow that flew before him , is fallen into a ditch hereby , and verily I thinke he is in danger of death . As for me , I am not able to helpe him out by reason of mine old age , but you that are so valiant and lusty may easily helpe me herein , and deliver me my boy , my heire and guide of my life . These words made us all to pity him . And then the youngest and stoutest of our company , who alone escaped best the late skirmish of Dogges and stones , rose up and demanded in what ditch the boy was fallen : Mary ( quod he ) yonder , and pointed with his finger , and brought him to a great thicket of bushes and thornes where they both entred in . In the meane season , after we cured our wounds , we tooke up our packs , purposing to depart away . And because we would not goe away without the young man our fellow : The shepheards whistled and called for him , but when he gave no answer , they sent one out of their company to seeke him out , who after a while returned againe with a pale face and sorrowfull newes , saying that he saw a terrible Dragon eating and devouring their companion : and as for the old man , hee could see him in no place . When they heard this , ( remembring likewise the words of the first old man that shaked his head , and drave away his sheep ) they ran away beating us before them , to fly from this desart and pestilent Country .