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Silken Thread

In the kingdom of Lilliput, the three great prizes of honour are “fine silk threads six inches long, one blue, another red, and a third green.” The emperor holds a stick in his hands, and the candidates “jump over it or creep under it, backwards or forwards, as the stick indicates,” and he who does so with the greatest agility is rewarded with the blue ribbon, the second best with the red cordon, and the third with the green. The thread is girt about their loins, and no ribbon of the Legion of Honour, or Knight of the Garter, is won more worthily or worn more proudly. (Gulliver's Travels.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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