Fortunately, the leaders of the factions didn't cling to their convictions yet as rigidly as to miss the appeal to reason in this speech and so the proposition was passed unanimously. And chances of success looked promising, for over the next few weeks the ever shifted victim was promptly devoured. Utter care, as had been recommended, was observed in the arrangements. No suspicion should be aroused in the beast, none whatsoever.
In consequence, it was strictly forbidden to anyone to be on the ramparts or walls during the feeding. Just one man - and the scheme's promoter was a natural choice - was allowed to follow the course of the experiment from a hidden observation post and only when its goal of 'right under the wall' was achieved, the people would be given permission to fill the walls, roofs and towers in due silence to be confronted at once with the solution in all its clarity. If granted prematurely, chances were the old feud would flare anew by lack of substantial evidence. Also for this reason our observer wrapped himself in deep silence on what he had seen.
At last, after months, the proper day arrived. Word came that on the next Saturday every one would see from close by the creature that for so long had engrossed their thoughts, and that it would reveal itself in its entirety and in one of its essential acts.
It would be a day of revelation.
In this same week, a long gallery was built on top of the section of the town wall that offered a view of the sensational action. Moreover, protruding balconies and upper windows, roofs and even towers were reshaped to such a fashion that spectators could watch the arrival and proceedings of the monster without being seen by it themselves. Every one claimed his share in the sighting.
Thus, on that Saturday morning, the whole of Silene had mounted their posts, camouflaged so well that someone unfamiliar with the town wouldn't have noticed anything special on its outside. There was nobody but had rested his gaze for a while on the little sheep below. On its tether is was grazing peacefully. That it never showed a sign of foreboding was what gave people a special thrill.
The mandatory silence was not observed, emotions were too highly strung for that. Silence did fall, however, at the appearance of the terrible beast from the distance and persisted as long as it remained within view. Even during the calm and ruthless quelling of the desperate struggle and the deliberate shattering of the prey no groan, no cough was heard, not even a sigh. Only when the monster with bulging belly had disappeared from the scene, people drew breath again. Its frightening appearance had pre-empted the bid for silence.
English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2009
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983