Who knows how many times the corrupting breath had been drifting across the town already, saturating its alleys and invading its dwelling-places. In any case, the sad fact must be told that everybody craved an escalation of suspense.
And so it came to pass that the Council took a decision even more monstrous than the monster itself. As it was providing the public with so much pleasure, they decided to treat the beast from now on to the tenderest titbit they could procure, a virgin of between twelve and eighteen. All of these should presently be registered and every time, whom it had to be would be chosen by lot.
This decision engendered a festive mood all over town. It promised a world of new, impetuous sensations. Not only because disposing of a girl - the more so, when she was pretty - would have a far more smashing impact but besides, the erotic element was to enter the scene. Shudders wouldn't be merely running down the spine, henceforth, the entire body would be involved. The deepest layer of feelings was burrowed.
And imagine the possibilities!
Would the beast be sensitive to feminine beauty? Would it approach its meal in the manner of a suitor?
For the first time, there was an opportunity to descry something of the inner beast, that it might give away a glimpse of its soul.
And the girls, how might they proceed? Would they play nice to him to soften his mood? And would he let them have their way, at least for a while? Or would they be screaming their heart out?
The prisoners always had been offered naked. With girls, this wasn't suitable. But how then? In their plain clothes? Or in a festive gown? Like a bride?
And would he peel it off beforehand? He could hardly eat them dress and all. Some remembered calling him 'the Convivant', in the early days. In this context, that would obtain a different meaning entirely. What an opportunity for the beast to put on a great show!
And there was another side to it as well. For the first time, sensations were no longer restricted to the mere protagonists. To the dragon's bride, as she was presently called, there was also her family. Her father and mother, the brothers and sisters and possibly, a fiancé. How would they bear themselves? To spy on their demeanour, wouldn't that be a special sensation? All that was happening within such a family now became a public affair to which the whole community was setting its heart on.
It was further decided that lots would be drawn on Sundays so that the family appointed by fate could spend six full days on preparations and the amplest of partings. It goes without saying that during these days such a family would be for ever in the public eye and that a fiancé, if any, would be under constant scrutiny from every perspective conceivable.
For these closest relatives the most outstanding places were reserved on the grandstand and by this arrangement, not only were they procured the best view of the spectacle below but also could they themselves be watched even better by everybody else.
English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2009
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983