The Book of Saints and Friendly Beasts, Chapter 00

Preface

Saint Bridget and the King's Wolf
Saint Bridget and the King's Wolf

In loving memory of a friendly beast

Brother, hast thou never learned in holy writ, that with him who has led his life after God's will the wild beasts and wild birds are tame?
Saint Guthlac of Crowland

In the old legends there may be things which some folk nowadays find it hard to believe. But surely the theme of each is true. It is not hard to see how gentle bodies who had no other friends should make comrades of the little folk in fur and fins and feathers. For, as St. Francis knew so well, all the creatures are our little brothers, ready to meet halfway those who will but try to understand. And this is a truth which every one to-day, even tho' he be no Saint, is waking up to learn. The happenings are set down quite as they read in the old books. Veritable histories, like those of St. Francis and St. Cuthbert, ask no addition of color to make them real. But sometimes, when a mere line of legend remained to hint of some dear Saint's relation with his friendly Beast, the story has been filled out in the way that seemed most likely to be true. For so alone could the old tale be made alive again. So all one's best is dressing old words new.