Between elephants and dragons is everlasting fighting, for the dragon with his tail bindeth and spanneth the elephant, and the elephant with his foot and with his nose throweth down the dragon, and the dragon bindeth and spanneth the elephant's legs, and maketh him fall, but the dragon buyeth it full sore: for while he slayeth the elephant, the elephant falleth upon him and slayeth him. Also the elephant seeing the dragon upon a tree, busieth him to break the tree to smite the dragon, and the dragon leapeth upon the elephant, and busieth him to bite him between the nostrils, and assaileth the elephant's eyen, and maketh him blind sometime, and leapeth upon him sometime behind, and biteth him and sucketh his blood. And at the last after long fighting the elephant waxeth feeble for great blindness, in so much that he falleth upon the dragon, and slayeth in his dying the dragon that him slayeth.
The cause why the dragon desireth his blood, is coldness of the elephant's blood, by the which the dragon desireth to cool himself.
Among beasts the elephant is most of virtue, so that unneth among men is so great readiness found. For in the new moon they come together in great companies, and bathe and wash them in a river, and lowte each to other, and turn so again to their own places, and they make the young go tofore in the turning again; and keep them busily and teach them to do in the same wise: and when they be sick, they gather good herbs, and ere they use the herbs they heave up the head, and look up toward heaven, and pray for help of God in a certain religion.
And they be good of wit, and learn well: and are easy to teach, insomuch that they be taught to know the king and to worship him, and busy to do him reverence and to bend the knees in worship of him. If elephants see a man coming against them that is out of the way in the wilderness, for they would not affray him, they will draw themselves somewhat out of the way, and then they stint, and pass little and little tofore him, and teach him the way. And if a dragon come against him, they fight with the dragon and defend the man, and put them forth to defend the man strongly and mightily: and do so namely when they have young foals, for they dread that the man seeketh their foals. And therefore they purpose first to deliver them of the man, that they may more securely feed their children and keep them the more warily....
Elephants be best in chivalry when they be tame: for they bear towers of tree, and throw down sheltrons, and overturn men of arms, and that is wonderful; for they dread not men of arms ranged in battle, and dread and flee the voice of the least sound of a swine.
When they be taken, they be made tame and mild with barley: and a cave or a ditch is made under the earth, as it were a pitfall in the elephant's way, and unawares he falleth therein. And then one of the hunters cometh to him and beateth and smiteth him, and pricketh him full sore. And then another hunter cometh and smiteth the first hunter, and doth him away, and defendeth the elephant, and giveth him barley to eat, and when he hath eaten thrice or four times, then he loveth him that defended him, and is afterward mild and obedient to him.
I have read in Physiologus' book that the elephant is a beast that passeth all other four-footed beasts in quantity, in wit, and in mind. For among other doings elephants lie never down in sleeping; but when they be weary they lean to a tree and so rest somewhat. And men lie in wait to espy their resting places privily, for to cut the tree in the other side: and the elephant cometh and is not aware of the fraud, and leaneth to the tree and breaketh it with the weight of his body, and falleth down with the breaking, and lieth there. And when he seeth he may not help himself in falling he crieth and roareth in a wonder manner: and by his noise and crying come suddenly many young elephants, and rear up the old little and little with all their strength and might: and while they arear him with wonder affection and love, they bend themselves with all their might and strength.
Also there is another thing said that is full wonderful: among the Ethiopians in some countries elephants be hunted in this wise: there go in the desert two maidens all naked and bare, with open hair of the head: and one of them beareth a vessel, and the other a sword. And these maidens begin to sing alone: and the beast hath liking when he heareth their song, and cometh to them, and licketh their teats, and falleth asleep anon for liking of the song, and then the one maid sticketh him in the throat or in the side with a sword, and the other taketh his blood in a vessel, and with that blood the people of the same country dye cloth, and done colour it therewith.