There was a man who lived not very far from John o’ Groat’s house, he lived in a little cottage by the sea-shore, and made his living by catching seals and selling their fur, which is very valuable.
He earned a good deal of money in this way, for these creatures used to come out of the sea in large numbers, and lie on the rocks near his house basking in the sunshine, so that it was not difficult to creep up behind them and kill them.
Some of those seals were larger than others, and the country people used to call them “Roane,” and whisper that they were not seals at all, but Mermen and Merwomen, who came from a country of their own, far down under the ocean, who assumed this strange disguise in order that they might pass through the water, and come up to breathe the air of this earth of ours.
But the seal catcher only laughed at them, and said that those seals were most worth killing, for their skins were so big that he got an extra price for them.
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Sir Bedivere, in silence, watched the barge
That bore away King Arthur to the vale
Of Avalon, till it was seen no more.
Then, on the beach, alone amid the dead,
He lifted up his voice and sorely wept
” Alas ! ” he cried, ” gone are the pleasant days
At Camelot, and the sweet fellowship
Of noble knights and true, and beauteous dames
Who have no peers in all the living world,
Is quite dissolved for ever, and the King
Has gone and left none like him among men.
O happy, thrice and fourfold, ye who rest,
Both friends and foemen, in one peaceful bed,
While I am sick at soul and cannot die !
Oh ! that the battle might be fought again !
Then would I surely seek the way to death,
And bleed and sleep like you, and be at peace.
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The Battle of the Dragons
At the beginning of the 5th century the Roman Empire started to collapse and the legions were called back from Britain. The vacuum of power was taken up by a king called Vortigern, but he was pressed on all sides by the Picts and the Scotti who saw the loss of the legions as an opportunity to advance over the borders that the Romans had steadfastly guarded.
In desperation Vortigern hired Saxon mercenaries to supplement his own armies, but before long the Saxons began to seize British land for their own and resisted all attempts to send them back to their own lands.
Vortigern called together his advisors and between them they devised a plan to retreat westward into the mountains of Snowdonia and there to build a mighty fortress at Dinas Emrys from which to consolidate his power.
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