Tales Of A Wayside Inn - Complete





    One Autumn night, in Sudbury town,
    Across the meadows bare and brown,
    The windows of the wayside inn
    Gleamed red with fire-light through the leaves
    Of woodbine, hanging from the eaves
    Their crimson curtains rent and thin.

    As ancient is this hostelry
    As any in the land may be,
    Built in the old Colonial day,
    When men lived in a grander way,
    With ampler hospitality;
    A kind of old Hobgoblin Hall,
    Now somewhat fallen to decay,
    With weather-stains upon the wall,
    And stairways worn, and crazy doors,
    And creaking and uneven floors,
    And chimneys huge, and tiled and tall.

    A region of repose it seems,
    A place of slumber and of dreams,
    Remote among the wooded hills!
    For there no noisy railway speeds,
    Its torch-race scattering smoke and gleeds;
    But noon and night, the panting teams
    Stop under the great oaks, that throw
    Tangles of light and shade below,
    On roofs and doors and window-sills.
    Across the road the barns display
    Their lines of stalls, their mows of hay,
    Through the wide doors the breezes blow,
    The wattled cocks strut to and fro,
    And, half effaced by rain and shine,
    The Red Horse prances on the sign.
    Round this old-fashioned, quaint abode
    Deep silence reigned, save when a gust
    Went rushing down the county road,
    And skeletons of leaves, and dust,
    A moment quickened by its breath,
    Shuddered and danced their dance of death,
    And through the ancient oaks o'erhead
    Mysterious voices moaned and fled.

    But from the parlor of the inn
    A pleasant murmur smote the ear,
    Like water rushing through a weir:
    Oft interrupted by the din
    Of laughter and of loud applause,
    And, in each intervening pause,
    The music of a violin.
    The fire-light, shedding over all
    The splendor of its ruddy glow,
    Filled the whole parlor large and low;
    It gleamed on wainscot and on wall,
    It touched with more than wonted grace
    Fair Princess Mary's pictured face;
    It bronzed the rafters overhead,
    On the old spinet's ivory keys
    It played inaudible melodies,
    It crowned the sombre clock with flame,
    The hands, the hours, the maker's name,
    And painted with a livelier red
    The Landlord's coat-of-arms again;
    And, flashing on the window-pane,
    Emblazoned with its light and shade
    The jovial rhymes, that still remain,
    Writ near a century ago,
    By the great Major Molineaux,
    Whom Hawthorne has immortal made.

    Before the blazing fire of wood
    Erect the rapt musician stood;
    And ever and anon he bent
    His head upon his instrument,
    And seemed to listen, till he caught
    Confessions of its secret thought,--
    The joy, the triumph, the lament,
    The exultation and the pain;
    Then, by the magic of his art,
    He soothed the throbbings of its heart,
    And lulled it into peace again.

    Around the fireside at their ease
    There sat a group of friends, entranced
    With the delicious melodies
    Who from the far-off noisy town
    Had to the wayside inn come down,
    To rest beneath its old oak-trees.
    The fire-light on their faces glanced,
    Their shadows on the wainscot danced,
    And, though of different lands and speech,
    Each had his tale to tell, and each
    Was anxious to be pleased and please.
    And while the sweet musician plays,
    Let me in outline sketch them all,
    Perchance uncouthly as the blaze
    With its uncertain touch portrays
    Their shadowy semblance on the wall.

    But first the Landlord will I trace;
    Grave in his aspect and attire;
    A man of ancient pedigree,
    A Justice of the Peace was he,
    Known in all Sudbury as "The Squire."
    Proud was he of his name and race,
    Of old Sir William and Sir Hugh,
    And in the parlor, full in view,
    His coat-of-arms, well framed and glazed,
    Upon the wall in colors blazed;
    He beareth gules upon his shield,
    A chevron argent in the field,
    With three wolf's heads, and for the crest
    A Wyvern part-per-pale addressed
    Upon a helmet barred; below
    The scroll reads, "By the name of Howe."
    And over this, no longer bright,
    Though glimmering with a latent light,
    Was hung the sword his grandsire bore
    In the rebellious days of yore,
    Down there at Concord in the fight.

    A youth was there, of quiet ways,
    A Student of old books and days,
    To whom all tongues and lands were known
    And yet a lover of his own;
    With many a social virtue graced,
    And yet a friend of solitude;
    A man of such a genial mood
    The heart of all things he embraced,
    And yet of such fastidious taste,
    He never found the best too good.
    Books were his passion and delight,
    And in his upper room at home
    Stood many a rare and sumptuous tome,
    In vellum bound, with gold bedight,
    Great volumes garmented in white,
    Recalling Florence, Pisa, Rome.
    He loved the twilight that surrounds
    The border-land of old romance;
    Where glitter hauberk, helm, and lance,
    And banner waves, and trumpet sounds,
    And ladies ride with hawk on wrist,
    And mighty warriors sweep along,
    Magnified by the purple mist,
    The dusk of centuries and of song.
    The chronicles of Charlemagne,
    Of Merlin and the Mort d'Arthure,
    Mingled together in his brain
    With tales of Flores and Blanchefleur,
    Sir Ferumbras, Sir Eglamour,
    Sir Launcelot, Sir Morgadour,
    Sir Guy, Sir Bevis, Sir Gawain.

    A young Sicilian, too, was there;
    In sight of Etna born and bred,
    Some breath of its volcanic air
    Was glowing in his heart and brain,
    And, being rebellious to his liege,
    After Palermo's fatal siege,
    Across the western seas he fled,
    In good King Bomba's happy reign.
    His face was like a summer night,
    All flooded with a dusky light;
    His hands were small; his teeth shone white
    As sea-shells, when he smiled or spoke;
    His sinews supple and strong as oak;
    Clean shaven was he as a priest,
    Who at the mass on Sunday sings,
    Save that upon his upper lip
    His beard, a good palm's length least,
    Level and pointed at the tip,
    Shot sideways, like a swallow's wings.
    The poets read he o'er and o'er,
    And most of all the Immortal Four
    Of Italy; and next to those,
    The story-telling bard of prose,
    Who wrote the joyous Tuscan tales
    Of the Decameron, that make
    Fiesole's green hills and vales
    Remembered for Boccaccio's sake.
    Much too of music was his thought;
    The melodies and measures fraught
    With sunshine and the open air,
    Of vineyards and the singing sea
    Of his beloved Sicily;
    And much it pleased him to peruse
    The songs of the Sicilian muse,--
    Bucolic songs by Meli sung
    In the familiar peasant tongue,
    That made men say, "Behold! once more
    The pitying gods to earth restore
    Theocritus of Syracuse!"

    A Spanish Jew from Alicant
    With aspect grand and grave was there;
    Vender of silks and fabrics rare,
    And attar of rose from the Levant.
    Like an old Patriarch he appeared,
    Abraham or Isaac, or at least
    Some later Prophet or High-Priest;
    With lustrous eyes, and olive skin,
    And, wildly tossed from cheeks and chin,
    The tumbling cataract of his beard.
    His garments breathed a spicy scent
    Of cinnamon and sandal blent,
    Like the soft aromatic gales
    That meet the mariner, who sails
    Through the Moluccas, and the seas
    That wash the shores of Celebes.
    All stories that recorded are
    By Pierre Alphonse he knew by heart,
    And it was rumored he could say
    The Parables of Sandabar,
    And all the Fables of Pilpay,
    Or if not all, the greater part!
    Well versed was he in Hebrew books,
    Talmud and Targum, and the lore
    Of Kabala; and evermore
    There was a mystery in his looks;
    His eyes seemed gazing far away,
    As if in vision or in trance
    He heard the solemn sackbut play,
    And saw the Jewish maidens dance.

    A Theologian, from the school
    Of Cambridge on the Charles, was there;
    Skilful alike with tongue and pen,
    He preached to all men everywhere
    The Gospel of the Golden Rule,
    The New Commandment given to men,
    Thinking the deed, and not the creed,
    Would help us in our utmost need.
    With reverent feet the earth he trod,
    Nor banished nature from his plan,
    But studied still with deep research
    To build the Universal Church,
    Lofty as in the love of God,
    And ample as the wants of man.

    A Poet, too, was there, whose verse
    Was tender, musical, and terse;
    The inspiration, the delight,
    The gleam, the glory, the swift flight,
    Of thoughts so sudden, that they seem
    The revelations of a dream,
    All these were his; but with them came
    No envy of another's fame;
    He did not find his sleep less sweet
    For music in some neighboring street,
    Nor rustling hear in every breeze
    The laurels of Miltiades.
    Honor and blessings on his head
    While living, good report when dead,
    Who, not too eager for renown,
    Accepts, but does not clutch, the crown!

    Last the Musician, as he stood
    Illumined by that fire of wood;
    Fair-haired, blue-eyed, his aspect blithe.
    His figure tall and straight and lithe,
    And every feature of his face
    Revealing his Norwegian race;
    A radiance, streaming from within,
    Around his eyes and forehead beamed,
    The Angel with the violin,
    Painted by Raphael, he seemed.
    He lived in that ideal world
    Whose language is not speech, but song;
    Around him evermore the throng
    Of elves and sprites their dances whirled;
    The Stromkarl sang, the cataract hurled
    Its headlong waters from the height;
    And mingled in the wild delight
    The scream of sea-birds in their flight,
    The rumor of the forest trees,
    The plunge of the implacable seas,
    The tumult of the wind at night,
    Voices of eld, like trumpets blowing,
    Old ballads, and wild melodies
    Through mist and darkness pouring forth,
    Like Elivagar's river flowing
    Out of the glaciers of the North.

    The instrument on which he played
    Was in Cremona's workshops made,
    By a great master of the past,
    Ere yet was lost the art divine;
    Fashioned of maple and of pine,
    That in Tyrolian forests vast
    Had rocked and wrestled with the blast;
    Exquisite was it in design,
    Perfect in each minutest part.
    A marvel of the lutist's art;
    And in its hollow chamber, thus,
    The maker from whose hands it came
    Had written his unrivalled name,--
    "Antonius Stradivarius."

    And when he played, the atmosphere
    Was filled with magic, and the ear
    Caught echoes of that Harp of Gold,
    Whose music had so weird a sound,
    The hunted stag forgot to bound,
    The leaping rivulet backward rolled,
    The birds came down from bush and tree,
    The dead came from beneath the sea,
    The maiden to the harper's knee!

    The music ceased; the applause was loud,
    The pleased musician smiled and bowed;
    The wood-fire clapped its hands of flame,
    The shadows on the wainscot stirred,
    And from the harpsichord there came
    A ghostly murmur of acclaim,
    A sound like that sent down at night
    By birds of passage in their flight,
    From the remotest distance heard.

    Then silence followed; then began
    A clamor for the Landlord's tale,--
    The story promised them of old,
    They said, but always left untold;
    And he, although a bashful man,
    And all his courage seemed to fail,
    Finding excuse of no avail,
    Yielded; and thus the story ran.



    Listen, my children, and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
    On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year.

    He said to his friend, "If the British march
    By land or sea from the town to-night,
    Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
    Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
    One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
    And I on the opposite shore will be,
    Ready to ride and spread the alarm
    Through every Middlesex village and farm
    For the country folk to be up and to arm,"

    Then he said, "Good night!" and with muffled oar
    Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
    Just as the moon rose over the bay,
    Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
    The Somerset, British man-of-war;
    A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
    Across the moon like a prison bar,
    And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
    By its own reflection in the tide.

    Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,
    Wanders and watches with eager ears,
    Till in the silence around him he hears
    The muster of men at the barrack door,
    The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
    And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
    Marching down to their boats on the shore.

    Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
    By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
    To the belfry-chamber overhead,
    And startled the pigeons from their perch
    On the sombre rafters, that round him made
    Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
    By the trembling ladder, steep and tall
    To the highest window in the wall,
    Where he paused to listen and look down
    A moment on the roofs of the town,
    And the moonlight flowing over all.

    Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
    In their night-encampment on the hill,
    Wrapped in silence so deep and still
    That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
    The watchful night-wind, as it went
    Creeping along from tent to tent
    And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
    A moment only he feels the spell
    Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
    Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
    For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
    On a shadowy something far away,
    Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
    A line of black that bends and floats
    On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

    Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
    Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
    On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
    Now he patted his horse's side,
    Now gazed at the landscape far and near,
    Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
    And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
    But mostly he watched with eager search
    The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
    As it rose above the graves on the hill,
    Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
    And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
    A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
    He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
    But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
    A second lamp in the belfry burns!

    A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
    A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
    And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
    Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
    That was all!    And yet, through the gloom and the light,
    The fate of a nation was riding that night;
    And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
    Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
    He has left the village and mounted the steep,
    And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
    Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
    And under the alders, that skirt its edge,
    Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
    Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

    It was twelve by the village clock
    When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
    He heard the crowing of the cock,
    And the barking of the farmer's dog,
    And felt the damp of the river fog,
    That rises after the sun goes down.

    It was one by the village clock,
    When he galloped into Lexington.
    He saw the gilded weathercock
    Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
    And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
    Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
    As if they already stood aghast
    At the bloody work they would look upon.

    It was two by the village clock,
    When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
    He heard the bleating of the flock,
    And the twitter of birds among the trees,
    And felt the breath of the morning breeze
    Blowing over the meadows brown.
    And one was safe and asleep in his bed
    Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
    Who that day would be lying dead,
    Pierced by a British musket-ball.

    You know the rest.    In the books you have read,
    How the British Regulars fired and fled,--
    How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
    From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
    Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
    Then crossing the fields to emerge again
    Under the trees at the turn of the road,
    And only pausing to fire and load.

    So through the night rode Paul Revere;
    And so through the night went his cry of alarm
    To every Middlesex village and farm,--
    A cry of defiance and not of fear,
    A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
    And a word that shall echo forevermore!
    For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
    Through all our history, to the last,
    In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
    The people will waken and listen to hear
    The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
    And the midnight message of Paul Revere.


    The Landlord ended thus his tale,
    Then rising took down from its nail
    The sword that hung there, dim with dust
    And cleaving to its sheath with rust,
    And said, "This sword was in the fight."
    The Poet seized it, and exclaimed,
    "It is the sword of a good knight,
    Though homespun was his coat-of-mail;
    What matter if it be not named
    Joyeuse, Colada, Durindale,
    Excalibar, or Aroundight,
    Or other name the books record?
    Your ancestor, who bore this sword
    As Colonel of the Volunteers,
    Mounted upon his old gray mare,
    Seen here and there and everywhere,
    To me a grander shape appears
    Than old Sir William, or what not,
    Clinking about in foreign lands
    With iron gauntlets on his hands,
    And on his head an iron pot!"

    All laughed; the Landlord's face grew red
    As his escutcheon on the wall;
    He could not comprehend at all
    The drift of what the Poet said;
    For those who had been longest dead
    Were always greatest in his eyes;
    And be was speechless with surprise
    To see Sir William's plumed head
    Brought to a level with the rest,
    And made the subject of a jest.
    And this perceiving, to appease
    The Landlord's wrath, the others' fears,
    The Student said, with careless ease,
    "The ladies and the cavaliers,
    The arms, the loves, the courtesies,
    The deeds of high emprise, I sing!
    Thus Ariosto says, in words
    That have the stately stride and ring
    Of armed knights and clashing swords.
    Now listen to the tale I bring
    Listen! though not to me belong
    The flowing draperies of his song,
    The words that rouse, the voice that charms.
    The Landlord's tale was one of arms,
    Only a tale of love is mine,
    Blending the human and divine,
    A tale of the Decameron, told
    In Palmieri's garden old,
    By Fiametta, laurel-crowned,
    While her companions lay around,
    And heard the intermingled sound
    Of airs that on their errands sped,
    And wild birds gossiping overhead,
    And lisp of leaves, and fountain's fall,
    And her own voice more sweet than all,
    Telling the tale, which, wanting these,
    Perchance may lose its power to please."



    One summer morning, when the sun was hot,
    Weary with labor in his garden-plot,
    On a rude bench beneath his cottage eaves,
    Ser Federigo sat among the leaves
    Of a huge vine, that, with its arms outspread,
    Hung its delicious clusters overhead.
    Below him, through the lovely valley flowed
    The river Arno, like a winding road,
    And from its banks were lifted high in air
    The spires and roofs of Florence called the Fair;
    To him a marble tomb, that rose above
    His wasted fortunes and his buried love.
    For there, in banquet and in tournament,
    His wealth had lavished been, his substance spent,
    To woo and lose, since ill his wooing sped,
    Monna Giovanna, who his rival wed,
    Yet ever in his fancy reigned supreme,
    The ideal woman of a young man's dream.

    Then he withdrew, in poverty and pain,
    To this small farm, the last of his domain,
    His only comfort and his only care
    To prune his vines, and plant the fig and pear;
    His only forester and only guest
    His falcon, faithful to him, when the rest,
    Whose willing hands had found so light of yore
    The brazen knocker of his palace door,
    Had now no strength to lift the wooden latch,
    That entrance gave beneath a roof of thatch.
    Companion of his solitary ways,
    Purveyor of his feasts on holidays,
    On him this melancholy man bestowed
    The love with which his nature overflowed.

    And so the empty-handed years went round,
    Vacant, though voiceful with prophetic sound,
    And so, that summer morn, he sat and mused
    With folded, patient hands, as he was used,
    And dreamily before his half-closed sight
    Floated the vision of his lost delight.
    Beside him, motionless, the drowsy bird
    Dreamed of the chase, and in his slumber heard
    The sudden, scythe-like sweep of wings, that dare
    The headlong plunge thro' eddying gulfs of air,
    Then, starting broad awake upon his perch,
    Tinkled his bells, like mass-bells in a church,
    And, looking at his master, seemed to say,
    "Ser Federigo, shall we hunt to-day?"

    Ser Federigo thought not of the chase;
    The tender vision of her lovely face,
    I will not say he seems to see, he sees
    In the leaf-shadows of the trellises,
    Herself, yet not herself; a lovely child
    With flowing tresses, and eyes wide and wild,
    Coming undaunted up the garden walk,
    And looking not at him, but at the hawk.
    "Beautiful falcon!" said he, "would that I
    Might hold thee on my wrist, or see thee fly!"
    The voice was hers, and made strange echoes start
    Through all the haunted chambers of his heart,
    As an aeolian harp through gusty doors
    Of some old ruin its wild music pours.

    "Who is thy mother, my fair boy?" he said,
    His hand laid softly on that shining head.
    "Monna Giovanna.    Will you let me stay
    A little while, and with your falcon play?
    We live there, just beyond your garden wall,
    In the great house behind the poplars tall."

    So he spake on; and Federigo heard
    As from afar each softly uttered word,
    And drifted onward through the golden gleams
    And shadows of the misty sea of dreams,
    As mariners becalmed through vapors drift,
    And feel the sea beneath them sink and lift,
    And hear far off the mournful breakers roar,
    And voices calling faintly from the shore!
    Then, waking from his pleasant reveries
    He took the little boy upon his knees,
    And told him stories of his gallant bird,
    Till in their friendship he became a third.

    Monna Giovanna, widowed in her prime,
    Had come with friends to pass the summer time
    In her grand villa, half-way up the hill,
    O'erlooking Florence, but retired and still;
    With iron gates, that opened through long lines
    Of sacred ilex and centennial pines,
    And terraced gardens, and broad steps of stone,
    And sylvan deities, with moss o'ergrown,
    And fountains palpitating in the heat,
    And all Val d'Arno stretched beneath its feet.
    Here in seclusion, as a widow may,
    The lovely lady whiled the hours away,
    Pacing in sable robes the statued hall,
    Herself the stateliest statue among all,
    And seeing more and more, with secret joy,
    Her husband risen and living in her boy,
    Till the lost sense of life returned again,
    Not as delight, but as relief from pain.
    Meanwhile the boy, rejoicing in his strength,
    Stormed down the terraces from length to length;
    The screaming peacock chased in hot pursuit,
    And climbed the garden trellises for fruit.
    But his chief pastime was to watch the flight
    Of a gerfalcon, soaring into sight,
    Beyond the trees that fringed the garden wall,
    Then downward stooping at some distant call;
    And as he gazed full often wondered he
    Who might the master of the falcon be,
    Until that happy morning, when he found
    Master and falcon in the cottage ground.

    And now a shadow and a terror fell
    On the great house, as if a passing-bell
    Tolled from the tower, and filled each spacious room
    With secret awe, and preternatural gloom;
    The petted boy grew ill, and day by day
    Pined with mysterious malady away.
    The mother's heart would not be comforted;
    Her darling seemed to her already dead,
    And often, sitting by the sufferer's side,
    "What can I do to comfort thee?" she cried.
    At first the silent lips made no reply,
    But moved at length by her importunate cry,
    "Give me," he answered, with imploring tone,
    "Ser Federigo's falcon for my own!"
    No answer could the astonished mother make;
    How could she ask, e'en for her darling's sake,
    Such favor at a luckless lover's hand,
    Well knowing that to ask was to command?
    Well knowing, what all falconers confessed,
    In all the land that falcon was the best,
    The master's pride and passion and delight,
    And the sole pursuivant of this poor knight.
    But yet, for her child's sake, she could no less
    Than give assent to soothe his restlessness,
    So promised, and then promising to keep
    Her promise sacred, saw him fall asleep.

    The morrow was a bright September morn;
    The earth was beautiful as if new-born;
    There was that nameless splendor everywhere,
    That wild exhilaration in the air,
    Which makes the passers in the city street
    Congratulate each other as they meet.
    Two lovely ladies, clothed in cloak and hood,
    Passed through the garden gate into the wood,
    Under the lustrous leaves, and through the sheen
    Of dewy sunshine showering down between.

    The one, close-hooded, had the attractive grace
    Which sorrow sometimes lends a woman's face;
    Her dark eyes moistened with the mists that roll
    From the gulf-stream of passion in the soul;
    The other with her hood thrown back, her hair
    Making a golden glory in the air,
    Her cheeks suffused with an auroral blush,
    Her young heart singing louder than the thrush.
    So walked, that morn, through mingled light and shade,
    Each by the other's presence lovelier made,
    Monna Giovanna and her bosom friend,
    Intent upon their errand and its end.

    They found Ser Federigo at his toil,
    Like banished Adam, delving in the soil;
    And when he looked and these fair women spied,
    The garden suddenly was glorified;
    His long-lost Eden was restored again,
    And the strange river winding through the plain
    No longer was the Arno to his eyes,
    But the Euphrates watering Paradise!

    Monna Giovanna raised her stately head,
    And with fair words of salutation said:
    "Ser Federigo, we come here as friends,
    Hoping in this to make some poor amends
    For past unkindness.    I who ne'er before
    Would even cross the threshold of your door,
    I who in happier days such pride maintained,
    Refused your banquets, and your gifts disdained,
    This morning come, a self-invited guest,
    To put your generous nature to the test,
    And breakfast with you under your own vine."
    To which he answered: "Poor desert of mine,
    Not your unkindness call it, for if aught
    Is good in me of feeling or of thought,
    From you it comes, and this last grace outweighs
    All sorrows, all regrets of other days."

    And after further compliment and talk,
    Among the asters in the garden walk
    He left his guests; and to his cottage turned,
    And as he entered for a moment yearned
    For the lost splendors of the days of old,
    The ruby glass, the silver and the gold,
    And felt how piercing is the sting of pride,
    By want embittered and intensified.
    He looked about him for some means or way
    To keep this unexpected holiday;
    Searched every cupboard, and then searched again,
    Summoned the maid, who came, but came in vain;
    "The Signor did not hunt to-day," she said,
    "There's nothing in the house but wine and bread."

    Then suddenly the drowsy falcon shook
    His little bells, with that sagacious look,
    Which said, as plain as language to the ear,
    "If anything is wanting, I am here!"
    Yes, everything is wanting, gallant bird!
    The master seized thee without further word.
    Like thine own lure, he whirled thee round; ah me!
    The pomp and flutter of brave falconry,
    The bells, the jesses, the bright scarlet hood,
    The flight and the pursuit o'er field and wood,
    All these forevermore are ended now;
    No longer victor, but the victim thou!

    Then on the board a snow-white cloth he spread,
    Laid on its wooden dish the loaf of bread,
    Brought purple grapes with autumn sunshine hot,
    The fragrant peach, the juicy bergamot;
    Then in the midst a flask of wine he placed,
    And with autumnal flowers the banquet graced.
    Ser Federigo, would not these suffice
    Without thy falcon stuffed with cloves and spice?

    When all was ready, and the courtly dame
    With her companion to the cottage came,
    Upon Ser Federigo's brain there fell
    The wild enchantment of a magic spell!
    The room they entered, mean and low and small,
    Was changed into a sumptuous banquet-hall,
    With fanfares by aerial trumpets blown;
    The rustic chair she sat on was a throne;
    He ate celestial food, and a divine
    Flavor was given to his country wine,
    And the poor falcon, fragrant with his spice,
    A peacock was, or bird of paradise!

    When the repast was ended, they arose
    And passed again into the garden-close.
    Then said the lady, "Far too well I know
    Remembering still the days of long ago,
    Though you betray it not with what surprise
    You see me here in this familiar wise.
    You have no children, and you cannot guess
    What anguish, what unspeakable distress
    A mother feels, whose child is lying ill,
    Nor how her heart anticipates his will.
    And yet for this, you see me lay aside
    All womanly reserve and check of pride,
    And ask the thing most precious in your sight,
    Your falcon, your sole comfort and delight,
    Which if you find it in your heart to give,
    My poor, unhappy boy perchance may live."

    Ser Federigo listens, and replies,
    With tears of love and pity in his eyes:
    "Alas, dear lady! there can be no task
    So sweet to me, as giving when you ask.
    One little hour ago, if I had known
    This wish of yours, it would have been my own.
    But thinking in what manner I could best
    Do honor to the presence of my guest,
    I deemed that nothing worthier could be
    Than what most dear and precious was to me,
    And so my gallant falcon breathed his last
    To furnish forth this morning our repast."

    In mute contrition, mingled with dismay,
    The gentle lady tuned her eyes away,
    Grieving that he such sacrifice should make,
    And kill his falcon for a woman's sake,
    Yet feeling in her heart a woman's pride,
    That nothing she could ask for was denied;
    Then took her leave, and passed out at the gate
    With footstep slow and soul disconsolate.

    Three days went by, and lo! a passing-bell
    Tolled from the little chapel in the dell;
    Ten strokes Ser Federigo heard, and said,
    Breathing a prayer, "Alas! her child is dead!"
    Three months went by; and lo! a merrier chime
    Rang from the chapel bells at Christmas time;
    The cottage was deserted, and no more
    Ser Federigo sat beside its door,
    But now, with servitors to do his will,
    In the grand villa, half-way up the hill,
    Sat at the Christmas feast, and at his side
    Monna Giovanna, his beloved bride,
    Never so beautiful, so kind, so fair,
    Enthroned once more in the old rustic chair,
    High-perched upon the back of which there stood
    The image of a falcon carved in wood,
    And underneath the inscription, with date,
    "All things come round to him who will but wait."


    Soon as the story reached its end,
    One, over eager to commend,
    Crowned it with injudicious praise;
    And then the voice of blame found vent,
    And fanned the embers of dissent
    Into a somewhat lively blaze.

    The Theologian shook his head;
    "These old Italian tales," he said,
    "From the much-praised Decameron down
    Through all the rabble of the rest,
    Are either trifling, dull, or lewd;
    The gossip of a neighborhood
    In some remote provincial town,
    A scandalous chronicle at best!
    They seem to me a stagnant fen,
    Grown rank with rushes and with reeds,
    Where a white lily, now and then,
    Blooms in the midst of noxious weeds
    And deadly nightshade on its banks."

    To this the Student straight replied,
    "For the white lily, many thanks!
    One should not say, with too much pride,
    Fountain, I will not drink of thee!
    Nor were it grateful to forget,
    That from these reservoirs and tanks
    Even imperial Shakespeare drew
    His Moor of Venice, and the Jew,
    And Romeo and Juliet,
    And many a famous comedy."

    Then a long pause; till some one said,
    "An Angel is flying overhead!"
    At these words spake the Spanish Jew,
    And murmured with an inward breath:
    "God grant, if what you say be true,
    It may not be the Angel of Death!"
    And then another pause; and then,
    Stroking his beard, he said again:
    "This brings back to my memory
    A story in the Talmud told,
    That book of gems, that book of gold,
    Of wonders many and manifold,
    A tale that often comes to me,
    And fills my heart, and haunts my brain,
    And never wearies nor grows old."



    Rabbi Ben Levi, on the Sabbath, read
    A volume of the Law, in which it said,
    "No man shall look upon my face and live."
    And as he read, he prayed that God would give
    His faithful servant grace with mortal eye
    To look upon His face and yet not die.

    Then fell a sudden shadow on the page,
    And, lifting up his eyes, grown dim with age
    He saw the Angel of Death before him stand,
    Holding a naked sword in his right hand.
    Rabbi Ben Levi was a righteous man,
    Yet through his veins a chill of terror ran.
    With trembling voice he said, "What wilt thou here?"
    The angel answered, "Lo! the time draws near
    When thou must die; yet first, by God's decree,
    Whate'er thou askest shall be granted thee."
    Replied the Rabbi, "Let these living eyes
    First look upon my place in Paradise."

    Then said the Angel, "Come with me and look."
    Rabbi Ben Levi closed the sacred book,
    And rising, and uplifting his gray head,
    "Give me thy sword," he to the Angel said,
    "Lest thou shouldst fall upon me by the way."
    The angel smiled and hastened to obey,
    Then led him forth to the Celestial Town,
    And set him on the wall, whence, gazing down,
    Rabbi Ben Levi, with his living eyes,
    Might look upon his place in Paradise.

    Then straight into the city of the Lord
    The Rabbi leaped with the Death-Angel's sword,
    And through the streets there swept a sudden breath
    Of something there unknown, which men call death.
    Meanwhile the Angel stayed without and cried,
    "Come back!"    To which the Rabbi's voice replied,
    "No! in the name of God, whom I adore,
    I swear that hence I will depart no more!"

    Then all the Angels cried, "O Holy One,
    See what the son of Levi here hath done!
    The kingdom of Heaven he takes by violence,
    And in Thy name refuses to go hence!"
    The Lord replied, "My Angels, be not wroth;
    Did e'er the son of Levi break his oath?
    Let him remain; for he with mortal eye
    Shall look upon my face and yet not die."

    Beyond the outer wall the Angel of Death
    Heard the great voice, and said, with panting breath,
    "Give back the sword, and let me go my way."
    Whereat the Rabbi paused, and answered, "Nay!
    Anguish enough already hath it caused
    Among the sons of men."    And while he paused
    He heard the awful mandate of the Lord
    Resounding through the air, "Give back the sword!"

    The Rabbi bowed his head in silent prayer;
    Then said he to the dreadful Angel, "Swear,
    No human eye shall look on it again;
    But when thou takest away the souls of men,
    Thyself unseen, and with an unseen sword,
    Thou wilt perform the bidding of the Lord."
    The Angel took the sword again, and swore,
    And walks on earth unseen forevermore.


    He ended: and a kind of spell
    Upon the silent listeners fell.
    His solemn manner and his words
    Had touched the deep, mysterious chords,
    That vibrate in each human breast
    Alike, but not alike confessed.
    The spiritual world seemed near;
    And close above them, full of fear,
    Its awful adumbration passed,
    A luminous shadow, vague and vast.
    They almost feared to look, lest there,
    Embodied from the impalpable air,
    They might behold the Angel stand,
    Holding the sword in his right hand.

    At last, but in a voice subdued,
    Not to disturb their dreamy mood,
    Said the Sicilian: "While you spoke,
    Telling your legend marvellous,
    Suddenly in my memory woke
    The thought of one, now gone from us,--
    An old Abate, meek and mild,
    My friend and teacher, when a child,
    Who sometimes in those days of old
    The legend of an Angel told,
    Which ran, as I remember, thus?'



    Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
    And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
    Apparelled in magnificent attire,
    With retinue of many a knight and squire,
    On St. John's eve, at vespers, proudly sat
    And heard the priests chant the Magnificat,
    And as he listened, o'er and o'er again
    Repeated, like a burden or refrain,
    He caught the words, "Deposuit potentes
    De sede, et exaltavit humiles";
    And slowly lifting up his kingly head
    He to a learned clerk beside him said,
    "What mean these words?"    The clerk made answer meet,
    "He has put down the mighty from their seat,
    And has exalted them of low degree."
    Thereat King Robert muttered scornfully,
    "'T is well that such seditious words are sung
    Only by priests and in the Latin tongue;
    For unto priests and people be it known,
    There is no power can push me from my throne!"
    And leaning back, he yawned and fell asleep,
    Lulled by the chant monotonous and deep.

    When he awoke, it was already night;
    The church was empty, and there was no light,
    Save where the lamps, that glimmered few and faint,
    Lighted a little space before some saint.
    He started from his seat and gazed around,
    But saw no living thing and heard no sound.
    He groped towards the door, but it was locked;
    He cried aloud, and listened, and then knocked,
    And uttered awful threatenings and complaints,
    And imprecations upon men and saints.
    The sounds re-echoed from the roof and walls
    As if dead priests were laughing in their stalls.

    At length the sexton, hearing from without
    The tumult of the knocking and the shout,
    And thinking thieves were in the house of prayer,
    Came with his lantern, asking, "Who is there?"
    Half choked with rage, King Robert fiercely said,
    "Open: 'tis I, the King!    Art thou afraid?"
    The frightened sexton, muttering, with a curse,
    "This is some drunken vagabond, or worse!"
    Turned the great key and flung the portal wide;
    A man rushed by him at a single stride,
    Haggard, half naked, without hat or cloak,
    Who neither turned, nor looked at him, nor spoke,
    But leaped into the blackness of the night,
    And vanished like a spectre from his sight.

    Robert of Sicily, brother of Pope Urbane
    And Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
    Despoiled of his magnificent attire,
    Bareheaded, breathless, and besprent with mire,
    With sense of wrong and outrage desperate,
    Strode on and thundered at the palace gate;
    Rushed through the courtyard, thrusting in his rage
    To right and left each seneschal and page,
    And hurried up the broad and sounding stair,
    His white face ghastly in the torches' glare.
    From hall to hall he passed with breathless speed;
    Voices and cries he heard, but did not heed,
    Until at last he reached the banquet-room,
    Blazing with light and breathing with perfume.

    There on the dais sat another king,
    Wearing his robes, his crown, his signet-ring,
    King Robert's self in features, form, and height,
    But all transfigured with angelic light!
    It was an Angel; and his presence there
    With a divine effulgence filled the air,
    An exaltation, piercing the disguise,
    Though none the hidden Angel recognize.

    A moment speechless, motionless, amazed,
    The throneless monarch on the Angel gazed,
    Who met his look of anger and surprise
    With the divine compassion of his eyes;
    Then said, "Who art thou? and why com'st thou here?"
    To which King Robert answered, with a sneer,
    "I am the King, and come to claim my own
    From an impostor, who usurps my throne!"
    And suddenly, at these audacious words,
    Up sprang the angry guests, and drew their swords;
    The Angel answered, with unruffled brow,
    "Nay, not the King, but the King's Jester, thou
    Henceforth shall wear the bells and scalloped cape,
    And for thy counsellor shalt lead an ape;
    Thou shalt obey my servants when they call,
    And wait upon my henchmen in the hall!"

    Deaf to King Robert's threats and cries and prayers,
    They thrust him from the hall and down the stairs;
    A group of tittering pages ran before,
    And as they opened wide the folding door,
    His heart failed, for he heard, with strange alarms,
    The boisterous laughter of the men-at-arms,
    And all the vaulted chamber roar and ring
    With the mock plaudits of "Long live the King!"

    Next morning, waking with the day's first beam,
    He said within himself, "It was a dream!"
    But the straw rustled as he turned his head,
    There were the cap and bells beside his bed,
    Around him rose the bare, discolored walls,
    Close by, the steeds were champing in their stalls,
    And in the corner, a revolting shape,
    Shivering and chattering sat the wretched ape.
    It was no dream; the world he loved so much
    Had turned to dust and ashes at his touch!

    Days came and went; and now returned again
    To Sicily the old Saturnian reign;
    Under the Angel's governance benign
    The happy island danced with corn and wine,
    And deep within the mountain's burning breast
    Enceladus, the giant, was at rest.

    Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate,
    Sullen and silent and disconsolate.
    Dressed in the motley garb that Jesters wear,
    With look bewildered and a vacant stare,
    Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn,
    By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn,
    His only friend the ape, his only food
    What others left,--he still was unsubdued.
    And when the Angel met him on his way,
    And half in earnest, half in jest, would say
    Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel
    The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel,
    "Art thou the King?" the passion of his woe
    Burst from him in resistless overflow,
    And, lifting high his forehead, he would fling
    The haughty answer back, "I am, I am the King!"

    Almost three years were ended; when there came
    Ambassadors of great repute and name
    From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
    Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane
    By letter summoned them forthwith to come
    On Holy Thursday to his city of Rome.
    The Angel with great joy received his guests,
    And gave them presents of embroidered vests,
    And velvet mantles with rich ermine lined,
    And rings and jewels of the rarest kind.
    Then he departed with them o'er the sea
    Into the lovely land of Italy,
    Whose loveliness was more resplendent made
    By the mere passing of that cavalcade,
    With plumes, and cloaks, and housings, and the stir
    Of jewelled bridle and of golden spur.
    And lo! among the menials, in mock state,
    Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait,
    His cloak of fox-tails flapping in the wind,
    The solemn ape demurely perched behind,
    King Robert rode, making huge merriment
    In all the country towns through which they went.

    The Pope received them with great pomp and blare
    Of bannered trumpets, on Saint Peter's square,
    Giving his benediction and embrace,
    Fervent, and full of apostolic grace.
    While with congratulations and with prayers
    He entertained the Angel unawares,
    Robert, the Jester, bursting through the crowd,
    Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud,
    "I am the King!    Look, and behold in me
    Robert, your brother, King of Sicily!
    This man, who wears my semblance to your eyes,
    Is an impostor in a king's disguise.
    Do you not know me? does no voice within
    Answer my cry, and say we are akin?"
    The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien,
    Gazed at the Angel's countenance serene;
    The Emperor, laughing, said, "It is strange sport
    To keep a mad man for thy Fool at court!"
    And the poor, baffled Jester in disgrace
    Was hustled back among the populace.

    In solemn state the Holy Week went by,
    And Easter Sunday gleamed upon the sky;
    The presence of the Angel, with its light,
    Before the sun rose, made the city bright,
    And with new fervor filled the hearts of men,
    Who felt that Christ indeed had risen again.
    Even the Jester, on his bed of straw,
    With haggard eyes the unwonted splendor saw,
    He felt within a power unfelt before,
    And, kneeling humbly on his chamber floor,
    He heard the rushing garments of the Lord
    Sweep through the silent air, ascending heavenward.

    And now the visit ending, and once more
    Valmond returning to the Danube's shore,
    Homeward the Angel journeyed, and again
    The land was made resplendent with his train,
    Flashing along the towns of Italy
    Unto Salerno, and from thence by sea.
    And when once more within Palermo's wall,
    And, seated on the throne in his great hall,
    He heard the Angelus from convent towers,
    As if the better world conversed with ours,
    He beckoned to King Robert to draw nigher,
    And with a gesture bade the rest retire;
    And when they were alone, the Angel said,
    "Art thou the King?"    Then, bowing down his head,
    King Robert crossed both hands upon his breast,
    And meekly answered him: "Thou knowest best!
    My sins as scarlet are; let me go hence,
    And in some cloister's school of penitence,
    Across those stones, that pave the way to heaven,
    Walk barefoot, till my guilty soul be shriven!"

    The Angel smiled, and from his radiant face
    A holy light illumined all the place,
    And through the open window, loud and clear,
    They heard the monks chant in the chapel near,
    Above the stir and tumult of the street:
    "He has put down the mighty from their seat,
    And has exalted them of low degree!"
    And through the chant a second melody
    Rose like the throbbing of a single string:
    "I am an Angel, and thou art the King!"

    King Robert, who was standing near the throne,
    Lifted his eyes, and lo! he was alone!
    But all apparelled as in days of old,
    With ermined mantle and with cloth of gold;
    And when his courtiers came, they found him there
    Kneeling upon the floor, absorbed in, silent prayer.


    And then the blue-eyed Norseman told
    A Saga of the days of old.
    "There is," said he, "a wondrous book
    Of Legends in the old Norse tongue,
    Of the dead kings of Norroway,--
    Legends that once were told or sung
    In many a smoky fireside nook
    Of Iceland, in the ancient day,
    By wandering Saga-man or Scald;
    Heimskringla is the volume called;
    And he who looks may find therein
    The story that I now begin."

    And in each pause the story made
    Upon his violin he played,
    As an appropriate interlude,
    Fragments of old Norwegian tunes
    That bound in one the separate runes,
    And held the mind in perfect mood,
    Entwining and encircling all
    The strange and antiquated rhymes
    with melodies of olden times;
    As over some half-ruined wall,
    Disjointed and about to fall,
    Fresh woodbines climb and interlace,
    And keep the loosened stones in place.





    I am the God Thor,
    I am the War God,
    I am the Thunderer!
    Here in my Northland,
    My fastness and fortress,
    Reign I forever!

    Here amid icebergs
    Rule I the nations;
    This is my hammer,
    Miolner the mighty;
    Giants and sorcerers
    Cannot withstand it!

    These are the gauntlets
    Wherewith I wield it,
    And hurl it afar off;
    This is my girdle;
    Whenever I brace it,
    Strength is redoubled!

    The light thou beholdest
    Stream through the heavens,
    In flashes of crimson,
    Is but my red beard
    Blown by the night-wind,
    Affrighting the nations!

    Jove is my brother;
    Mine eyes are the lightning;
    The wheels of my chariot
    Roll in the thunder,
    The blows of my hammer
    Ring in the earthquake!

    Force rules the world still,
    Has ruled it, shall rule it;
    Meekness is weakness,
    Strength is triumphant,
    Over the whole earth
    Still is it Thor's-Day!

    Thou art a God too,
    O Galilean!
    And thus single-handed
    Unto the combat,
    Gauntlet or Gospel,
    Here I defy thee!



    And King Olaf heard the cry,
    Saw the red light in the sky,
        Laid his hand upon his sword,
    As he leaned upon the railing,
    And his ships went sailing, sailing
        Northward into Drontheim fiord.

    There he stood as one who dreamed;
    And the red light glanced and gleamed
        On the armor that he wore;
    And he shouted, as the rifled
    Streamers o'er him shook and shifted,
        "I accept thy challenge, Thor!"

    To avenge his father slain,
    And reconquer realm and reign,
        Came the youthful Olaf home,
    Through the midnight sailing, sailing,
    Listening to the wild wind's wailing,
        And the dashing of the foam.

    To his thoughts the sacred name
    Of his mother Astrid came,
        And the tale she oft had told
    Of her flight by secret passes
    Through the mountains and morasses,
        To the home of Hakon old.

    Then strange memories crowded back
    Of Queen Gunhild's wrath and wrack,
        And a hurried flight by sea;
    Of grim Vikings, and the rapture
    Of the sea-fight, and the capture,
        And the life of slavery.

    How a stranger watched his face
    In the Esthonian market-place,
        Scanned his features one by one,
    Saying, "We should know each other;
    I am Sigurd, Astrid's brother,
        Thou art Olaf, Astrid's son!"

    Then as Queen Allogia's page,
    Old in honors, young in age,
        Chief of all her men-at-arms;
    Till vague whispers, and mysterious,
    Reached King Valdemar, the imperious,
        Filling him with strange alarms.

    Then his cruisings o'er the seas,
    Westward to the Hebrides,
        And to Scilly's rocky shore;
    And the hermit's cavern dismal,
    Christ's great name and rites baptismal
        in the ocean's rush and roar.

    All these thoughts of love and strife
    Glimmered through his lurid life,
        As the stars' intenser light
    Through the red flames o'er him trailing,
    As his ships went sailing, sailing,
        Northward in the summer night.

    Trained for either camp or court,
    Skilful in each manly sport,
        Young and beautiful and tall;
    Art of warfare, craft of chases,
    Swimming, skating, snow-shoe races
        Excellent alike in all.

    When at sea, with all his rowers,
    He along the bending oars
        Outside of his ship could run.
    He the Smalsor Horn ascended,
    And his shining shield suspended,
    On its summit, like a sun.

    On the ship-rails he could stand,
    Wield his sword with either hand,
        And at once two javelins throw;
    At all feasts where ale was strongest
    Sat the merry monarch longest,
        First to come and last to go.

    Norway never yet had seen
    One so beautiful of mien,
        One so royal in attire,
    When in arms completely furnished,
    Harness gold-inlaid and burnished,
        Mantle like a flame of fire.

    Thus came Olaf to his own,
    When upon the night-wind blown
        Passed that cry along the shore;
    And he answered, while the rifted
    Streamers o'er him shook and shifted,
        "I accept thy challenge, Thor!"



    "Thora of Rimol! hide me! hide me!
    Danger and shame and death betide me!
    For Olaf the King is hunting me down
    Through field and forest, through thorp and town!"
        Thus cried Jarl Hakon
        To Thora, the fairest of women.

    Hakon Jarl! for the love I bear thee
    Neither shall shame nor death come near thee!
    But the hiding-place wherein thou must lie
    Is the cave underneath the swine in the sty."
        Thus to Jarl Hakon
        Said Thora, the fairest of women.

    So Hakon Jarl and his base thrall Karker
    Crouched in the cave, than a dungeon darker,
    As Olaf came riding, with men in mail,
    Through the forest roads into Orkadale,
        Demanding Jarl Hakon
        Of Thorn, the fairest of women.

    "Rich and honored shall be whoever
    The head of Hakon Jarl shall dissever!"
    Hakon heard him, and Karker the slave,
    Through the breathing-holes of the darksome cave.
        Alone in her chamber
        Wept Thora, the fairest of women.

    Said Karker, the crafty, "I will not slay thee!
    For all the king's gold I will never betray thee!"
    "Then why dost thou turn so pale, O churl,
    And then again black as the earth?" said the Earl.
        More pale and more faithful
        Was Thora, the fairest of women.

    From a dream in the night the thrall started, saying,
    "Round my neck a gold ring King Olaf was laying!"
    And Hakon answered, "Beware of the king!
    He will lay round thy neck a blood-red ring."
        At the ring on her finger
        Gazed Thorn, the fairest of women.

    At daybreak slept Hakon, with sorrows encumbered,
    But screamed and drew up his feet as he slumbered;
    The thrall in the darkness plunged with his knife,
    And the Earl awakened no more in this life.
        But wakeful and weeping
        Sat Thorn, the fairest of women.

    At Nidarholm the priests are all singing,
    Two ghastly heads on the gibbet are swinging;
    One is Jarl Hakon's and one is his thrall's,
    And the people are shouting from windows and walls;
        While alone in her chamber
        Swoons Thorn, the fairest of women.



    Queen Sigrid the Haughty sat proud and aloft
    In her chamber, that looked over meadow and croft.
        Heart's dearest,
        Why dost thou sorrow so?

    The floor with tassels of fir was besprent,
    Filling the room with their fragrant scent.

    She heard the birds sing, she saw the sun shine,
    The air of summer was sweeter than wine.

    Like a sword without scabbard the bright river lay
    Between her own kingdom and Norroway.

    But Olaf the King had sued for her hand,
    The sword would be sheathed, the river be spanned.

    Her maidens were seated around her knee,
    Working bright figures in tapestry.

    And one was singing the ancient rune
    Of Brynhilda's love and the wrath of Gudrun.

    And through it, and round it, and over it all
    Sounded incessant the waterfall.

    The Queen in her hand held a ring of gold,
    From the door of Lade's Temple old.

    King Olaf had sent her this wedding gift,
    But her thoughts as arrows were keen and swift.

    She had given the ring to her goldsmiths twain,
    Who smiled, as they handed it back again.

    And Sigrid the Queen, in her haughty way,
    Said, "Why do you smile, my goldsmiths, say?"

    And they answered: "O Queen! if the truth must be told,
    The ring is of copper, and not of gold!"

    The lightning flashed o'er her forehead and cheek,
    She only murmured, she did not speak:

    "If in his gifts he can faithless be,
    There will be no gold in his love to me."

    A footstep was heard on the outer stair,
    And in strode King Olaf with royal air.

    He kissed the Queen's hand, and he whispered of love,
    And swore to be true as the stars are above.

    But she smiled with contempt as she answered: "O King,
    Will you swear it, as Odin once swore, on the ring?"

    And the King: "O speak not of Odin to me,
    The wife of King Olaf a Christian must be."

    Looking straight at the King, with her level brows,
    She said, "I keep true to my faith and my vows."

    Then the face of King Olaf was darkened with gloom,
    He rose in his anger and strode through the room.

    "Why, then, should I care to have thee?" he said,--
    "A faded old woman, a heathenish jade!"

    His zeal was stronger than fear or love,
    And he struck the Queen in the face with his glove.

    Then forth from the chamber in anger he fled,
    And the wooden stairway shook with his tread.

    Queen Sigrid the Haughty said under her breath,
    "This insult, King Olaf, shall be thy death!"
        Heart's dearest,
        Why dost thou sorrow so?



    Now from all King Olaf's farms
        His men-at-arms
    Gathered on the Eve of Easter;
    To his house at Angvalds-ness
        Fast they press,
    Drinking with the royal feaster.

    Loudly through the wide-flung door
        Came the roar
    Of the sea upon the Skerry;
    And its thunder loud and near
        Reached the ear,
    Mingling with their voices merry.

    "Hark!" said Olaf to his Scald,
        Halfred the Bald,
    "Listen to that song, and learn it!
    Half my kingdom would I give,
        As I live,
    If by such songs you would earn it!

    "For of all the runes and rhymes
        Of all times,
    Best I like the ocean's dirges,
    When the old harper heaves and rocks,
        His hoary locks
    Flowing and flashing in the surges!"

    Halfred answered: "I am called
        The Unappalled!
    Nothing hinders me or daunts me.
    Hearken to me, then, O King,
        While I sing
    The great Ocean Song that haunts me."

    "I will hear your song sublime
        Some other time,"
    Says the drowsy monarch, yawning,
    And retires; each laughing guest
        Applauds the jest;
    Then they sleep till day is dawning.

    Facing up and down the yard,
        King Olaf's guard
    Saw the sea-mist slowly creeping
    O'er the sands, and up the hill,
        Gathering still
    Round the house where they were sleeping.

    It was not the fog he saw,
        Nor misty flaw,
    That above the landscape brooded;
    It was Eyvind Kallda's crew
        Of warlocks blue
    With their caps of darkness hooded!

    Round and round the house they go,
        Weaving slow
    Magic circles to encumber
    And imprison in their ring
        Olaf the King,
    As he helpless lies in slumber.

    Then athwart the vapors dun
        The Easter sun
    Streamed with one broad track of splendor!
    in their real forms appeared
        The warlocks weird,
    Awful as the Witch of Endor.

    Blinded by the light that glared,
        They groped and stared
    Round about with steps unsteady;
    From his window Olaf gazed,
        And, amazed,
    "Who are these strange people?" said he.

    "Eyvind Kallda and his men!"
        Answered then
    From the yard a sturdy farmer;
    While the men-at-arms apace
        Filled the place,
    Busily buckling on their armor.

    From the gates they sallied forth,
        South and north,
    Scoured the island coast around them,
    Seizing all the warlock band,
        Foot and hand
    On the Skerry's rocks they bound them.

    And at eve the king again
        Called his train,
    And, with all the candles burning,
    Silent sat and heard once more
        The sullen roar
    Of the ocean tides returning.

    Shrieks and cries of wild despair
        Filled the air,
    Growing fainter as they listened;
    Then the bursting surge alone
        Sounded on;--
    Thus the sorcerers were christened!

    "Sing, O Scald, your song sublime,
        Your ocean-rhyme,"
    Cried King Olaf: "it will cheer me!"
    Said the Scald, with pallid cheeks,
        "The Skerry of Shrieks
    Sings too loud for you to hear me!"



    The guests were loud, the ale was strong,
    King Olaf feasted late and long;
    The hoary Scalds together sang;
    O'erhead the smoky rafters rang.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    The door swung wide, with creak and din;
    A blast of cold night-air came in,
    And on the threshold shivering stood
    A one-eyed guest, with cloak and hood.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    The King exclaimed, "O graybeard pale!
    Come warm thee with this cup of ale."
    The foaming draught the old man quaffed,
    The noisy guests looked on and laughed.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    Then spake the King: "Be not afraid;
    Sit here by me."    The guest obeyed,
    And, seated at the table, told
    Tales of the sea, and Sagas old.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    And ever, when the tale was o'er,
    The King demanded yet one more;
    Till Sigurd the Bishop smiling said,
    "'T is late, O King, and time for bed."
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    The King retired; the stranger guest
    Followed and entered with the rest;
    The lights were out, the pages gone,
    But still the garrulous guest spake on.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    As one who from a volume reads,
    He spake of heroes and their deeds,
    Of lands and cities he had seen,
    And stormy gulfs that tossed between.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    Then from his lips in music rolled
    The Havamal of Odin old,
    With sounds mysterious as the roar
    Of billows on a distant shore.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    "Do we not learn from runes and rhymes
    Made by the gods in elder times,
    And do not still the great Scalds teach
    That silence better is than speech?"
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    Smiling at this, the King replied,
    "Thy lore is by thy tongue belied;
    For never was I so enthralled
    Either by Saga-man or Scald,"
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    The Bishop said, "Late hours we keep!
    Night wanes, O King! 't is time for sleep!"
    Then slept the King, and when he woke
    The guest was gone, the morning broke.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    They found the doors securely barred,
    They found the watch-dog in the yard,
    There was no footprint in the grass,
    And none had seen the stranger pass.
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.

    King Olaf crossed himself and said:
    "I know that Odin the Great is dead;
    Sure is the triumph of our Faith,
    The one-eyed stranger was his wraith."
        Dead rides Sir Morten of Fogelsang.



        Olaf the King, one summer morn,
        Blew a blast on his bugle-horn,
    Sending his signal through the land of Drontheim.

        And to the Hus-Ting held at Mere
        Gathered the farmers far and near,
    With their war weapons ready to confront him.

        Ploughing under the morning star,
        Old Iron-Beard in Yriar
    Heard the summons, chuckling with a low laugh.

        He wiped the sweat-drops from his brow,
        Unharnessed his horses from the plough,
    And clattering came on horseback to King Olaf.

        He was the churliest of the churls;
        Little he cared for king or earls;
    Bitter as home-brewed ale were his foaming passions.

        Hodden-gray was the garb he wore,
        And by the Hammer of Thor he swore;
    He hated the narrow town, and all its fashions.

        But he loved the freedom of his farm,
        His ale at night, by the fireside warm,
    Gudrun his daughter, with her flaxen tresses.

        He loved his horses and his herds,
        The smell of the earth, and the song of birds,
    His well-filled barns, his brook with its water-cresses.

        Huge and cumbersome was his frame;
        His beard, from which he took his name,
    Frosty and fierce, like that of Hymer the Giant.

        So at the Hus-Ting he appeared,
        The farmer of Yriar, Iron-Beard,
    On horseback, in an attitude defiant.

        And to King Olaf he cried aloud,
        Out of the middle of the crowd,
    That tossed about him like a stormy ocean:

        "Such sacrifices shalt thou bring;
        To Odin and to Thor, O King,
    As other kings have done in their devotion!"

        King Olaf answered: "I command
        This land to be a Christian land;
    Here is my Bishop who the folk baptizes!

        "But if you ask me to restore
        Your sacrifices, stained with gore,
    Then will I offer human sacrifices!

        "Not slaves and peasants shall they be,
        But men of note and high degree,
    Such men as Orm of Lyra and Kar of Gryting!"

         Then to their Temple strode he in,
         And loud behind him heard the din
    Of his men-at-arms and the peasants fiercely fighting.

        There in the Temple, carved in wood,
        The image of great Odin stood,
    And other gods, with Thor supreme among them.

        King Olaf smote them with the blade
        Of his huge war-axe, gold inlaid,
    And downward shattered to the pavement flung them.

        At the same moment rose without,
        From the contending crowd, a shout,
    A mingled sound of triumph and of wailing.

        And there upon the trampled plain
        The farmer iron-Beard lay slain,
    Midway between the assailed and the assailing.

        King Olaf from the doorway spoke.
        "Choose ye between two things, my folk,
    To be baptized or given up to slaughter!"

        And seeing their leader stark and dead,
        The people with a murmur said,
    "O King, baptize us with thy holy water";

        So all the Drontheim land became
        A Christian land in name and fame,
    In the old gods no more believing and trusting.

        And as a blood-atonement, soon
        King Olaf wed the fair Gudrun;
    And thus in peace ended the Drontheim Hus-Ting!



    On King Olaf's bridal night
    Shines the moon with tender light,
    And across the chamber streams
        Its tide of dreams.

    At the fatal midnight hour,
    When all evil things have power,
    In the glimmer of the moon
        Stands Gudrun.

    Close against her heaving breast
    Something in her hand is pressed
    Like an icicle, its sheen
        Is cold and keen.

    On the cairn are fixed her eyes
    Where her murdered father lies,
    And a voice remote and drear
        She seems to hear.

    What a bridal night is this!
    Cold will be the dagger's kiss;
    Laden with the chill of death
        Is its breath.

    Like the drifting snow she sweeps
    To the couch where Olaf sleeps;
    Suddenly he wakes and stirs,
        His eyes meet hers.

    "What is that," King Olaf said,
    "Gleams so bright above thy head?
    Wherefore standest thou so white
        In pale moonlight?"

    "'T is the bodkin that I wear
    When at night I bind my hair;
    It woke me falling on the floor;
        'T is nothing more."

    "Forests have ears, and fields have eyes;
    Often treachery lurking lies
    Underneath the fairest hair!
        Gudrun beware!"

    Ere the earliest peep of morn
    Blew King Olaf's bugle-horn;
    And forever sundered ride
        Bridegroom and bride!



    Short of stature, large of limb,
        Burly face and russet beard,
    All the women stared at him,
        When in Iceland he appeared.
        "Look!" they said,
        With nodding head,
    "There goes Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest."

    All the prayers he knew by rote,
        He could preach like Chrysostome,
    From the Fathers he could quote,
        He had even been at Rome,
        A learned clerk,
        A man of mark,
    Was this Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest,

    He was quarrelsome and loud,
        And impatient of control,
    Boisterous in the market crowd,
        Boisterous at the wassail-bowl,
        Would drink and swear,
    Swaggering Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest

    In his house this malcontent
        Could the King no longer bear,
    So to Iceland he was sent
        To convert the heathen there,
        And away
        One summer day
    Sailed this Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

    There in Iceland, o'er their books
        Pored the people day and night,
    But he did not like their looks,
        Nor the songs they used to write.
        "All this rhyme
        Is waste of time!"
    Grumbled Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

    To the alehouse, where he sat
        Came the Scalds and Saga-men;
    Is it to be wondered at,
        That they quarrelled now and then,
        When o'er his beer
        Began to leer
    Drunken Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest?

    All the folk in Altafiord
        Boasted of their island grand;
    Saying in a single word,
        "Iceland is the finest land
        That the sun
        Doth shine upon!"
    Loud laughed Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

    And he answered: "What's the use
        Of this bragging up and down,
    When three women and one goose
        Make a market in your town!"
        Every Scald
        Satires scrawled
    On poor Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

    Something worse they did than that;
        And what vexed him most of all
    Was a figure in shovel hat,
        Drawn in charcoal on the wall;
        With words that go
        Sprawling below,
    "This is Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest."

    Hardly knowing what he did,
        Then he smote them might and main,
    Thorvald Veile and Veterlid
        Lay there in the alehouse slain.
        "To-day we are gold,
        To-morrow mould!"
    Muttered Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.

    Much in fear of axe and rope,
        Back to Norway sailed he then.
    "O, King Olaf! little hope
        Is there of these Iceland men!"
        Meekly said,
        With bending head,
    Pious Thangbrand, Olaf's Priest.



    "All the old gods are dead,
    All the wild warlocks fled;
    But the White Christ lives and reigns,
    And throughout my wide domains
    His Gospel shall be spread!"
        On the Evangelists
        Thus swore King Olaf.

    But still in dreams of the night
    Beheld he the crimson light,
    And heard the voice that defied
    Him who was crucified,
    And challenged him to the fight.
        To Sigurd the Bishop
        King Olaf confessed it.

    And Sigurd the Bishop said,
    "The old gods are not dead,
    For the great Thor still reigns,
    And among the Jarls and Thanes
    The old witchcraft still is spread."
        Thus to King Olaf
        Said Sigurd the Bishop.

    "Far north in the Salten Fiord,
    By rapine, fire, and sword,
    Lives the Viking, Raud the Strong;
    All the Godoe Isles belong
    To him and his heathen horde."
         Thus went on speaking
         Sigurd the Bishop.

    "A warlock, a wizard is he,
    And lord of the wind and the sea;
    And whichever way he sails,
    He has ever favoring gales,
    By his craft in sorcery."
        Here the sign of the cross
        Made devoutly King Olaf.

    "With rites that we both abhor,
    He worships Odin and Thor;
    So it cannot yet be said,
    That all the old gods are dead,
    And the warlocks are no more,"
        Flushing with anger
        Said Sigurd the Bishop.

    Then King Olaf cried aloud:
    "I will talk with this mighty Raud,
    And along the Salten Fiord
    Preach the Gospel with my sword,
    Or be brought back in my shroud!"
        So northward from Drontheim
        Sailed King Olaf!



    Loud the angry wind was wailing
    As King Olaf's ships came sailing
    Northward out of Drontheim haven
         To the mouth of Salten Fiord.

    Though the flying sea-spray drenches
    Fore and aft the rowers' benches,
    Not a single heart is craven
        Of the champions there on board.

    All without the Fiord was quiet
    But within it storm and riot,
    Such as on his Viking cruises
        Raud the Strong was wont to ride.

    And the sea through all its tide-ways
    Swept the reeling vessels sideways,
    As the leaves are swept through sluices,
        When the flood-gates open wide.

    "'T is the warlock! 't is the demon
    Raud!" cried Sigurd to the seamen;
    "But the Lord is not affrighted
        By the witchcraft of his foes."

    To the ship's bow he ascended,
    By his choristers attended,
    Round him were the tapers lighted,
        And the sacred incense rose.

    On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd,
    In his robes, as one transfigured,
    And the Crucifix he planted
        High amid the rain and mist.

    Then with holy water sprinkled
    All the ship; the mass-bells tinkled;
    Loud the monks around him chanted,
        Loud he read the Evangelist.

    As into the Fiord they darted,
    On each side the water parted;
    Down a path like silver molten
        Steadily rowed King Olaf's ships;

    Steadily burned all night the tapers,
    And the White Christ through the vapors
    Gleamed across the Fiord of Salten,
        As through John's Apocalypse,--

    Till at last they reached Raud's dwelling
    On the little isle of Gelling;
    Not a guard was at the doorway,
        Not a glimmer of light was seen.

    But at anchor, carved and gilded,
    Lay the dragon-ship he builded;
    'T was the grandest ship in Norway,
        With its crest and scales of green.

    Up the stairway, softly creeping,
    To the loft where Raud was sleeping,
    With their fists they burst asunder
        Bolt and bar that held the door.

    Drunken with sleep and ale they found him,
    Dragged him from his bed and bound him,
    While he stared with stupid wonder,
        At the look and garb they wore.

    Then King Olaf said: "O Sea-King!
    Little time have we for speaking,
    Choose between the good and evil;
        Be baptized, or thou shalt die!

    But in scorn the heathen scoffer
    Answered: "I disdain thine offer;
    Neither fear I God nor Devil;
        Thee and thy Gospel I defy!"

    Then between his jaws distended,
    When his frantic struggles ended,
    Through King Olaf's horn an adder,
        Touched by fire, they forced to glide.

    Sharp his tooth was as an arrow,
    As he gnawed through bone and marrow;
    But without a groan or shudder,
        Raud the Strong blaspheming died.

    Then baptized they all that region,
    Swarthy Lap and fair Norwegian,
    Far as swims the salmon, leaping,
        Up the streams of Salten Fiord.

    In their temples Thor and Odin
    Lay in dust and ashes trodden,
    As King Olaf, onward sweeping,
        Preached the Gospel with his sword.

    Then he took the carved and gilded
    Dragon-ship that Raud had builded,
    And the tiller single-handed,
        Grasping, steered into the main.

    Southward sailed the sea-gulls o'er him,
    Southward sailed the ship that bore him,
    Till at Drontheim haven landed
        Olaf and his crew again.



    At Drontheim, Olaf the King
    Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring,
        As he sat in his banquet-hall,
    Drinking the nut-brown ale,
    With his bearded Berserks hale
        And tall.

    Three days his Yule-tide feasts
    He held with Bishops and Priests,
        And his horn filled up to the brim;
    But the ale was never too strong,
    Nor the Saga-man's tale too long,
        For him.

    O'er his drinking-horn, the sign
    He made of the cross divine,
    As he drank, and muttered his prayers;
    But the Berserks evermore
    Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor
        Over theirs.

    The gleams of the fire-light dance
    Upon helmet and hauberk and lance,
        And laugh in the eyes of the King;
    And he cries to Halfred the Scald,
    Gray-bearded, wrinkled, and bald,

    "Sing me a song divine,
    With a sword in every line,
        And this shall be thy reward."
    And he loosened the belt at his waist,
    And in front of the singer placed
        His sword.

    "Quern-biter of Hakon the Good,
    Wherewith at a stroke he hewed
        The millstone through and through,
    And Foot-breadth of Thoralf the Strong,
    Were neither so broad nor so long,
        Nor so true."

    Then the Scald took his harp and sang,
    And loud though the music rang
        The sound of that shining word;
    And the harp-strings a clangor made,
    As if they were struck with the blade
        Of a sword.

    And the Berserks round about
    Broke forth into a shout
        That made the rafters ring:
    They smote with their fists on the board,
    And shouted, "Long live the Sword,
        And the King!"

    But the King said, "O my son,
    I miss the bright word in one
        Of thy measures and thy rhymes."
    And Halfred the Scald replied,
    "In another 't was multiplied
        Three times."

    Then King Olaf raised the hilt
    Of iron, cross-shaped and gilt,
        And said, "Do not refuse;
    Count well the gain and the loss,
    Thor's hammer or Christ's cross:

    And Halfred the Scald said, "This
    In the name of the Lord I kiss,
        Who on it was crucified!"
    And a shout went round the board,
    "In the name of Christ the Lord,
        Who died!"

    Then over the waste of snows
    The noonday sun uprose,
        Through the driving mists revealed,
    Like the lifting of the Host,
    By incense-clouds almost

    On the shining wall a vast
    And shadowy cross was cast
        From the hilt of the lifted sword,
    And in foaming cups of ale
    The Berserks drank "Was-hael!
        To the Lord!"



    Thorberg Skafting, master-builder,
        In his ship-yard by the sea,
    Whistling, said, "It would bewilder
    Any man but Thorberg Skafting,
        Any man but me!"

    Near him lay the Dragon stranded,
        Built of old by Raud the Strong,
    And King Olaf had commanded
    He should build another Dragon,
        Twice as large and long.

    Therefore whistled Thorberg Skafting,
        As he sat with half-closed eyes,
    And his head turned sideways, drafting
    That new vessel for King Olaf
        Twice the Dragon's size.

    Round him busily hewed and hammered
        Mallet huge and heavy axe;
    Workmen laughed and sang and clamored;
    Whirred the wheels, that into rigging
        Spun the shining flax!

    All this tumult heard the master,--
        It was music to his ear;
    Fancy whispered all the faster,
    "Men shall hear of Thorberg Skafting
        For a hundred year!"

    Workmen sweating at the forges
        Fashioned iron bolt and bar,
    Like a warlock's midnight orgies
    Smoked and bubbled the black caldron
        With the boiling tar.

    Did the warlocks mingle in it,
        Thorberg Skafting, any curse?
    Could you not be gone a minute
    But some mischief must be doing,
        Turning bad to worse?

    'T was an ill wind that came wafting,
        From his homestead words of woe
    To his farm went Thorberg Skafting,
    Oft repeating to his workmen,
        Build ye thus and so.

    After long delays returning
        Came the master back by night
    To his ship-yard longing, yearning,
    Hurried he, and did not leave it
        Till the morning's light.

    "Come and see my ship, my darling"
        On the morrow said the King;
    "Finished now from keel to carling;
    Never yet was seen in Norway
        Such a wondrous thing!"

    In the ship-yard, idly talking,
        At the ship the workmen stared:
    Some one, all their labor balking,
    Down her sides had cut deep gashes,
        Not a plank was spared!

    "Death be to the evil-doer!"
        With an oath King Olaf spoke;
    "But rewards to his pursuer
    And with wrath his face grew redder
        Than his scarlet cloak.

    Straight the master-builder, smiling,
        Answered thus the angry King:
    "Cease blaspheming and reviling,
    Olaf, it was Thorberg Skafting
        Who has done this thing!"

    Then he chipped and smoothed the planking,
        Till the King, delighted, swore,
    With much lauding and much thanking,
    "Handsomer is now my Dragon
        Than she was before!"

    Seventy ells and four extended
        On the grass the vessel's keel;
    High above it, gilt and splendid,
    Rose the figure-head ferocious
        With its crest of steel.

    Then they launched her from the tressels,
        In the ship-yard by the sea;
    She was the grandest of all vessels,
    Never ship was built in Norway
        Half so fine as she!

    The Long Serpent was she christened,
        'Mid the roar of cheer on cheer!
    They who to the Saga listened
    Heard the name of Thorberg Skafting
        For a hundred year!



    Safe at anchor in Drontheim bay
    King Olaf's fleet assembled lay,
        And, striped with white and blue,
    Downward fluttered sail and banner,
    As alights the screaming lanner;
    Lustily cheered, in their wild manner,
        The Long Serpent's crew

    Her forecastle man was Ulf the Red,
    Like a wolf's was his shaggy head,
        His teeth as large and white;
    His beard, of gray and russet blended,
    Round as a swallow's nest descended;
    As standard-bearer he defended
        Olaf's flag in the fight.

    Near him Kolbiorn had his place,
    Like the King in garb and face,
        So gallant and so hale;
    Every cabin-boy and varlet
    Wondered at his cloak of scarlet;
    Like a river, frozen and star-lit,
        Gleamed his coat of mail.

    By the bulkhead, tall and dark,
    Stood Thrand Rame of Thelemark,
    A figure gaunt and grand;
    On his hairy arm imprinted
    Was an anchor, azure-tinted;
    Like Thor's hammer, huge and dinted
    Was his brawny hand.

    Einar Tamberskelver, bare
    To the winds his golden hair,
        By the mainmast stood;
    Graceful was his form, and slender,
    And his eyes were deep and tender
    As a woman's, in the splendor
        Of her maidenhood.

    In the fore-hold Biorn and Bork
    Watched the sailors at their work:
        Heavens! how they swore!
    Thirty men they each commanded,
    Iron-sinewed, horny-handed,
    Shoulders broad, and chests expanded.
     Tugging at the oar.

    These, and many more like these,
    With King Olaf sailed the seas,
        Till the waters vast
    Filled them with a vague devotion,
    With the freedom and the motion,
    With the roll and roar of ocean
        And the sounding blast.

    When they landed from the fleet,
    How they roared through Drontheim's street,
        Boisterous as the gale!
    How they laughed and stamped and pounded,
    Till the tavern roof resounded,
    And the host looked on astounded
        As they drank the ale!

    Never saw the wild North Sea
    Such a gallant company
        Sail its billows blue!
    Never, while they cruised and quarrelled,
    Old King Gorm, or Blue-Tooth Harald,
    Owned a ship so well apparelled,
        Boasted such a crew!



    A little bird in the air
    Is singing of Thyri the fair,
        The sister of Svend the Dane;
    And the song of the garrulous bird
    In the streets of the town is heard,
        And repeated again and again.
        Hoist up your sails of silk,
        And flee away from each other.

    To King Burislaf, it is said,
    Was the beautiful Thyri wed,
        And a sorrowful bride went she;
    And after a week and a day,
    She has fled away and away,
        From his town by the stormy sea.
        Hoist up your sails of silk,
        And flee away from each other.

    They say, that through heat and through cold,
    Through weald, they say, and through wold,
        By day and by night, they say,
    She has fled; and the gossips report
    She has come to King Olaf's court,
        And the town is all in dismay.
        Hoist up your sails of silk,
        And flee away from each other.

    It is whispered King Olaf has seen,
        Has talked with the beautiful Queen;
        And they wonder how it will end;
    For surely, if here she remain,
    It is war with King Svend the Dane,
        And King Burislaf the Vend!
        Hoist up your sails of silk,
        And flee away from each other.

    O, greatest wonder of all!
    It is published in hamlet and hall,
        It roars like a flame that is fanned!
    The King--yes, Olaf the King--
    Has wedded her with his ring,
        And Thyri is Queen in the land!
        Hoist up your sails of silk,
        And flee away from each other.



    Northward over Drontheim,
    Flew the clamorous sea-gulls,
    Sang the lark and linnet
        From the meadows green;

    Weeping in her chamber,
    Lonely and unhappy,
    Sat the Drottning Thyri,
        Sat King Olaf's Queen.

    In at all the windows
    Streamed the pleasant sunshine,
    On the roof above her
        Softly cooed the dove;

    But the sound she heard not,
    Nor the sunshine heeded,
    For the thoughts of Thyri
        Were not thoughts of love,

    Then King Olaf entered,
    Beautiful as morning,
    Like the sun at Easter
        Shone his happy face;

    In his hand he carried
    Angelicas uprooted,
    With delicious fragrance
        Filling all the place.

    Like a rainy midnight
    Sat the Drottning Thyri,
    Even the smile of Olaf
        Could not cheer her gloom;

    Nor the stalks he gave her
    With a gracious gesture,
    And with words as pleasant
        As their own perfume.

    In her hands he placed them,
    And her jewelled fingers
    Through the green leaves glistened
        Like the dews of morn;

    But she cast them from her,
    Haughty and indignant,
    On the floor she threw them
        With a look of scorn.

    "Richer presents," said she,
    "Gave King Harald Gormson
    To the Queen, my mother,
        Than such worthless weeds;

    "When he ravaged Norway,
    Laying waste the kingdom,
    Seizing scatt and treasure
        For her royal needs.

    "But thou darest not venture
    Through the Sound to Vendland,
    My domains to rescue
        From King Burislaf;

    "Lest King Svend of Denmark,
    Forked Beard, my brother,
    Scatter all thy vessels
        As the wind the chaff."

    Then up sprang King Olaf,
    Like a reindeer bounding,
    With an oath he answered
        Thus the luckless Queen:

    "Never yet did Olaf
    Fear King Svend of Denmark;
    This right hand shall hale him
        By his forked chin!"

    Then he left the chamber,
    Thundering through the doorway,
    Loud his steps resounded
        Down the outer stair.

    Smarting with the insult,
    Through the streets of Drontheim
    Strode he red and wrathful,
        With his stately air.

    All his ships he gathered,
    Summoned all his forces,
    Making his war levy
        In the region round;

    Down the coast of Norway,
    Like a flock of sea-gulls,
    Sailed the fleet of Olaf
        Through the Danish Sound.

    With his own hand fearless,
    Steered he the Long Serpent,
    Strained the creaking cordage,
        Bent each boom and gaff;

    Till in Venland landing,
    The domains of Thyri
    He redeemed and rescued
        From King Burislaf.

    Then said Olaf, laughing,
    "Not ten yoke of oxen
    Have the power to draw us
        Like a woman's hair!

    "Now will I confess it,
    Better things are jewels
    Than angelica stalks are
        For a Queen to wear."



    Loudly the sailors cheered
    Svend of the Forked Beard,
    As with his fleet he steered
        Southward to Vendland;
    Where with their courses hauled
    All were together called,
    Under the Isle of Svald
        Near to the mainland.

    After Queen Gunhild's death,
    So the old Saga saith,
    Plighted King Svend his faith
        To Sigrid the Haughty;
    And to avenge his bride,
    Soothing her wounded pride,
    Over the waters wide
        King Olaf sought he.

    Still on her scornful face,
    Blushing with deep disgrace,
    Bore she the crimson trace
        Of Olaf's gauntlet;
    Like a malignant star,
    Blazing in heaven afar,
    Red shone the angry scar
        Under her frontlet.

    Oft to King Svend she spake,
    "For thine own honor's sake
    Shalt thou swift vengeance take
        On the vile coward!"
    Until the King at last,
    Gusty and overcast,
    Like a tempestuous blast
        Threatened and lowered.

    Soon as the Spring appeared,
    Svend of the Forked Beard
    High his red standard reared,
        Eager for battle;
    While every warlike Dane,
    Seizing his arms again,
    Left all unsown the grain,
        Unhoused the cattle.

    Likewise the Swedish King
    Summoned in haste a Thing,
    Weapons and men to bring
        In aid of Denmark;
    Erie the Norseman, too,
    As the war-tidings flew,
    Sailed with a chosen crew
        From Lapland and Finmark.

    So upon Easter day
    Sailed the three kings away,
    Out of the sheltered bay,
        In the bright season;
    With them Earl Sigvald came,
    Eager for spoil and fame;
    Pity that such a name
        Stooped to such treason!

    Safe under Svald at last,
    Now were their anchors cast,
    Safe from the sea and blast,
        Plotted the three kings;
    While, with a base intent,
    Southward Earl Sigvald went,
    On a foul errand bent,
        Unto the Sea-kings.

    Thence to hold on his course,
    Unto King Olaf's force,
    Lying within the hoarse
        Mouths of Stet-haven;
    Him to ensnare and bring,
    Unto the Danish king,
    Who his dead corse would fling
        Forth to the raven!



    On the gray sea-sands
    King Olaf stands,
    Northward and seaward
    He points with his hands.

    With eddy and whirl
    The sea-tides curl,
    Washing the sandals
    Of Sigvald the Earl.

    The mariners shout,
    The ships swing about,
    The yards are all hoisted,
    The sails flutter out.

    The war-horns are played,
    The anchors are weighed,
    Like moths in the distance
    The sails flit and fade.

    The sea is like lead
    The harbor lies dead,
    As a corse on the sea-shore,
    Whose spirit has fled!

    On that fatal day,
    The histories say,
    Seventy vessels
    Sailed out of the bay.

    But soon scattered wide
    O'er the billows they ride,
    While Sigvald and Olaf
    Sail side by side.

    Cried the Earl: "Follow me!
    I your pilot will be,
    For I know all the channels
    Where flows the deep sea!"

    So into the strait
    Where his foes lie in wait,
    Gallant King Olaf
    Sails to his fate!

    Then the sea-fog veils
    The ships and their sails;
    Queen Sigrid the Haughty,
    Thy vengeance prevails!



    "Strike the sails!" King Olaf said;
    "Never shall men of mine take flight;
    Never away from battle I fled,
    Never away from my foes!
        Let God dispose
    Of my life in the fight!"

    "Sound the horns!" said Olaf the King;
    And suddenly through the drifting brume
    The blare of the horns began to ring,
    Like the terrible trumpet shock
        Of Regnarock,
    On the Day of Doom!

    Louder and louder the war-horns sang
    Over the level floor of the flood;
    All the sails came down with a clang,
    And there in the mist overhead
        The sun hung red
    As a drop of blood.

    Drifting down on the Danish fleet
    Three together the ships were lashed,
    So that neither should turn and retreat;
    In the midst, but in front of the rest
        The burnished crest
    Of the Serpent flashed.

    King Olaf stood on the quarter-deck,
    With bow of ash and arrows of oak,
    His gilded shield was without a fleck,
    His helmet inlaid with gold,
        And in many a fold
    Hung his crimson cloak.

    On the forecastle Ulf the Red
    Watched the lashing of the ships;
    "If the Serpent lie so far ahead,
    We shall have hard work of it here,
        Said he with a sneer
    On his bearded lips.

    King Olaf laid an arrow on string,
    "Have I a coward on board?" said he.
    "Shoot it another way, O King!"
    Sullenly answered Ulf,
        The old sea-wolf;
    "You have need of me!"

    In front came Svend, the King of the Danes,
    Sweeping down with his fifty rowers;
    To the right, the Swedish king with his thanes;
    And on board of the Iron Beard
        Earl Eric steered
    To the left with his oars.

    "These soft Danes and Swedes," said the King,
    "At home with their wives had better stay,
    Than come within reach of my Serpent's sting:
    But where Eric the Norseman leads
        Heroic deeds
    Will be done to-day!"

    Then as together the vessels crashed,
    Eric severed the cables of hide,
    With which King Olaf's ships were lashed,
    And left them to drive and drift
        With the currents swift
    Of the outward tide.

    Louder the war-horns growl and snarl,
    Sharper the dragons bite and sting!
    Eric the son of Hakon Jarl
    A death-drink salt as the sea
        Pledges to thee,
    Olaf the King!



    It was Einar Tamberskelver
        Stood beside the mast;
    From his yew-bow, tipped with silver,
        Flew the arrows fast;
    Aimed at Eric unavailing,
        As he sat concealed,
    Half behind the quarter-railing,
        Half behind his shield.

    First an arrow struck the tiller,
        Just above his head;
    "Sing, O Eyvind Skaldaspiller,"
        Then Earl Eric said.
    "Sing the song of Hakon dying,
        Sing his funeral wail!"
    And another arrow flying
        Grazed his coat of mail.

    Turning to a Lapland yeoman,
        As the arrow passed,
    Said Earl Eric, "Shoot that bowman
        Standing by the mast."
    Sooner than the word was spoken
        Flew the yeoman's shaft;
    Einar's bow in twain was broken,
        Einar only laughed.

    "What was that?" said Olaf, standing
        On the quarter-deck.
    "Something heard I like the stranding
        Of a shattered wreck."
    Einar then, the arrow taking
        From the loosened string,
    Answered, "That was Norway breaking
        From thy hand, O King!"

    "Thou art but a poor diviner,"
        Straightway Olaf said;
    "Take my bow, and swifter, Einar,
        Let thy shafts be sped."
    Of his bows the fairest choosing,
        Reached he from above;
    Einar saw the blood-drops oozing
        Through his iron glove.

    But the bow was thin and narrow;
        At the first assay,
    O'er its head he drew the arrow,
        Flung the bow away;
    Said, with hot and angry temper
        Flushing in his cheek,
    "Olaf! for so great a Kamper
        Are thy bows too weak!"

    Then, with smile of joy defiant
        On his beardless lip,
    Scaled he, light and self-reliant,
        Eric's dragon-ship.
    Loose his golden locks were flowing,
        Bright his armor gleamed;
    Like Saint Michael overthrowing
        Lucifer he seemed.



    All day has the battle raged,
    All day have the ships engaged,
    But not yet is assuaged
        The vengeance of Eric the Earl.

    The decks with blood are red,
    The arrows of death are sped,
    The ships are filled with the dead,
        And the spears the champions hurl.

    They drift as wrecks on the tide,
    The grappling-irons are plied,
    The boarders climb up the side,
        The shouts are feeble and few.

    Ah! never shall Norway again
    See her sailors come back o'er the main;
    They all lie wounded or slain,
        Or asleep in the billows blue!

    On the deck stands Olaf the King,
    Around him whistle and sing
    The spears that the foemen fling,
        And the stones they hurl with their hands.

    In the midst of the stones and the spears,
    Kolbiorn, the marshal, appears,
    His shield in the air he uprears,
        By the side of King Olaf he stands.

    Over the slippery wreck
    Of the Long Serpent's deck
    Sweeps Eric with hardly a check,
        His lips with anger are pale;

    He hews with his axe at the mast,
    Till it falls, with the sails overcast,
    Like a snow-covered pine in the vast
        Dim forests of Orkadale.

    Seeking King Olaf then,
    He rushes aft with his men,
    As a hunter into the den
        Of the bear, when he stands at bay.

    "Remember Jarl Hakon!" he cries;
    When lo! on his wondering eyes,
    Two kingly figures arise,
        Two Olaf's in warlike array!

    Then Kolbiorn speaks in the ear
    Of King Olaf a word of cheer,
    In a whisper that none may hear,
        With a smile on his tremulous lip;

    Two shields raised high in the air,
    Two flashes of golden hair,
    Two scarlet meteors' glare,
        And both have leaped from the ship.

    Earl Eric's men in the boats
    Seize Kolbiorn's shield as it floats,
    And cry, from their hairy throats,
        "See! it is Olaf the King!"

    While far on the opposite side
    Floats another shield on the tide,
    Like a jewel set in the wide
        Sea-current's eddying ring.

    There is told a wonderful tale,
    How the King stripped off his mail,
    Like leaves of the brown sea-kale,
        As he swam beneath the main;

    But the young grew old and gray,
    And never, by night or by day,
    In his kingdom of Norroway
        Was King Olaf seen again!



    In the convent of Drontheim,
    Alone in her chamber
    Knelt Astrid the Abbess,
    At midnight, adoring,
    Beseeching, entreating
    The Virgin and Mother.

    She heard in the silence
    The voice of one speaking,
    Without in the darkness,
    In gusts of the night-wind
    Now louder, now nearer,
    Now lost in the distance.

    The voice of a stranger
    It seemed as she listened,
    Of some one who answered,
    Beseeching, imploring,
    A cry from afar off
    She could not distinguish.

    The voice of Saint John,
    The beloved disciple,
    Who wandered and waited
    The Master's appearance.
    Alone in the darkness,
    Unsheltered and friendless.

    "It is accepted
    The angry defiance
    The challenge of battle!
    It is accepted,
    But not with the weapons
    Of war that thou wieldest!

    "Cross against corselet,
    Love against hatred,
    Peace-cry for war-cry!
    Patience is powerful;
    He that o'ercometh
    Hath power o'er the nations!

    "As torrents in summer,
    Half dried in their channels,
    Suddenly rise, though the
    Sky is still cloudless,
    For rain has been falling
    Far off at their fountains;

    So hearts that are fainting
    Grow full to o'erflowing,
    And they that behold it
    Marvel, and know not
    That God at their fountains
    Far off has been raining!

    "Stronger than steel
    Is the sword of the Spirit;
    Swifter than arrows
    The light of the truth is,
    Greater than anger
    Is love, and subdueth!

    "Thou art a phantom,
    A shape of the sea-mist,
    A shape of the brumal
    Rain, and the darkness
    Fearful and formless;
    Day dawns and thou art not!

    "The dawn is not distant,
    Nor is the night starless;
    Love is eternal!
    God is still God, and
    His faith shall not fail us
    Christ is eternal!"


    A strain of music closed the tale,
    A low, monotonous, funeral wail,
    That with its cadence, wild and sweet,
    Made the long Saga more complete.

    "Thank God," the Theologian said,
    "The reign of violence is dead,
    Or dying surely from the world;
    While Love triumphant reigns instead,
    And in a brighter sky o'erhead
    His blessed banners are unfurled.
    And most of all thank God for this:
    The war and waste of clashing creeds
    Now end in words, and not in deeds,
    And no one suffers loss, or bleeds,
    For thoughts that men call heresies.

    "I stand without here in the porch,
    I hear the bell's melodious din,
    I hear the organ peal within,
    I hear the prayer, with words that scorch
    Like sparks from an inverted torch,
    I hear the sermon upon sin,
    With threatenings of the last account.
    And all, translated in the air,
    Reach me but as our dear Lord's Prayer,
    And as the Sermon on the Mount.

    "Must it be Calvin, and not Christ?
    Must it be Athanasian creeds,
    Or holy water, books, and beads?
    Must struggling souls remain content
    With councils and decrees of Trend?
    And can it be enough for these
    The Christian Church the year embalms
    With evergreens and boughs of palms,
    And fills the air with litanies?

    "I know that yonder Pharisee
    Thanks God that he is not like me;
    In my humiliation dressed,
    I only stand and beat my breast,
    And pray for human charity.

    "Not to one church alone, but seven,
    The voice prophetic spake from heaven;
    And unto each the promise came,
    Diversified, but still the same;
    For him that overcometh are
    The new name written on the stone,
    The raiment white, the crown, the throne,
    And I will give him the Morning Star!

    "Ah! to how many Faith has been
    No evidence of things unseen,
    But a dim shadow, that recasts
    The creed of the Phantasiasts,
    For whom no Man of Sorrows died,
    For whom the Tragedy Divine
    Was but a symbol and a sign,
    And Christ a phantom crucified!

    "For others a diviner creed
    Is living in the life they lead.
    The passing of their beautiful feet
    Blesses the pavement of the street
    And all their looks and words repeat
    Old Fuller's saying, wise and sweet,
    Not as a vulture, but a dove,
    The Holy Ghost came from above.

    "And this brings back to me a tale
    So sad the hearer well may quail,
    And question if such things can be;
    Yet in the chronicles of Spain
    Down the dark pages runs this stain,
    And naught can wash them white again,
    So fearful is the tragedy."



    In the heroic days when Ferdinand
    And Isabella ruled the Spanish land,
    And Torquemada, with his subtle brain,
    Ruled them, as Grand Inquisitor of Spain,
    In a great castle near Valladolid,
    Moated and high and by fair woodlands hid,
    There dwelt as from the chronicles we learn,
    An old Hidalgo proud and taciturn,
    Whose name has perished, with his towers of stone,
    And all his actions save this one alone;
    This one, so terrible, perhaps 't were best
    If it, too, were forgotten with the rest;
    Unless, perchance, our eyes can see therein
    The martyrdom triumphant o'er the sin;
    A double picture, with its gloom and glow,
    The splendor overhead, the death below.

    This sombre man counted each day as lost
    On which his feet no sacred threshold crossed;
    And when he chanced the passing Host to meet,
    He knelt and prayed devoutly in the street;
    Oft he confessed; and with each mutinous thought,
    As with wild beasts at Ephesus, he fought.
    In deep contrition scourged himself in Lent,
    Walked in processions, with his head down bent,
    At plays of Corpus Christi oft was seen,
    And on Palm Sunday bore his bough of green.
    His sole diversion was to hunt the boar
    Through tangled thickets of the forest hoar,
    Or with his jingling mules to hurry down
    To some grand bull-fight in the neighboring town,
    Or in the crowd with lighted taper stand,
    When Jews were burned, or banished from the land.
    Then stirred within him a tumultuous joy;
    The demon whose delight is to destroy
    Shook him, and shouted with a trumpet tone,
    Kill! kill! and let the Lord find out his own!"

    And now, in that old castle in the wood,
    His daughters, in the dawn of womanhood,
    Returning from their convent school, had made
    Resplendent with their bloom the forest shade,
    Reminding him of their dead mother's face,
    When first she came into that gloomy place,--
    A memory in his heart as dim and sweet
    As moonlight in a solitary street,
    Where the same rays, that lift the sea, are thrown
    Lovely but powerless upon walls of stone.
    These two fair daughters of a mother dead
    Were all the dream had left him as it fled.
    A joy at first, and then a growing care,
    As if a voice within him cried, "Beware
    A vague presentiment of impending doom,
    Like ghostly footsteps in a vacant room,
    Haunted him day and night; a formless fear
    That death to some one of his house was near,
    With dark surmises of a hidden crime,
    Made life itself a death before its time.
    Jealous, suspicious, with no sense of shame,
    A spy upon his daughters he became;
    With velvet slippers, noiseless on the floors,
    He glided softly through half-open doors;
    Now in the room, and now upon the stair,
    He stood beside them ere they were aware;
    He listened in the passage when they talked,
    He watched them from the casement when they walked,
    He saw the gypsy haunt the river's side,
    He saw the monk among the cork-trees glide;
    And, tortured by the mystery and the doubt
    Of some dark secret, past his finding out,
    Baffled he paused; then reassured again
    Pursued the flying phantom of his brain.
    He watched them even when they knelt in church;
    And then, descending lower in his search,
    Questioned the servants, and with eager eyes
    Listened incredulous to their replies;
    The gypsy? none had seen her in the wood!
    The monk? a mendicant in search of food!

    At length the awful revelation came,
    Crushing at once his pride of birth and name;
    The hopes his yearning bosom forward cast,
    And the ancestral glories of the vast,
    All fell together, crumbling in disgrace,
    A turret rent from battlement to base.
    His daughters talking in the dead of night
    In their own chamber, and without a light,
    Listening, as he was wont, he overheard,
    And learned the dreadful secret, word by word;
    And hurrying from his castle, with a cry
    He raised his hands to the unpitying sky,
    Repeating one dread word, till bush and tree
    Caught it, and shuddering answered, "Heresy!"

    Wrapped in his cloak, his hat drawn o'er his face,
    Now hurrying forward, now with lingering pace,
    He walked all night the alleys of his park,
    With one unseen companion in the dark,
    The Demon who within him lay in wait,
    And by his presence turned his love to hate,
    Forever muttering in an undertone,
    "Kill! kill! and let the Lord find out his own!"

    Upon the morrow, after early Mass,
    While yet the dew was glistening on the grass,
    And all the woods were musical with birds,
    The old Hidalgo, uttering fearful words,
    Walked homeward with the Priest, and in his room
    Summoned his trembling daughters to their doom.
    When questioned, with brief answers they replied,
    Nor when accused evaded or denied;
    Expostulations, passionate appeals,
    All that the human heart most fears or feels,
    In vain the Priest with earnest voice essayed;
    In vain the father threatened, wept, and prayed;
    Until at last he said, with haughty mien,
    "The Holy Office, then, must intervene!"

    And now the Grand Inquisitor of Spain,
    With all the fifty horsemen of his train,
    His awful name resounding, like the blast
    Of funeral trumpets, as he onward passed,
    Came to Valladolid, and there began
    To harry the rich Jews with fire and ban.
    To him the Hidalgo went, and at the gate
    Demanded audience on affairs of state,
    And in a secret chamber stood before
    A venerable graybeard of fourscore,
    Dressed in the hood and habit of a friar;
    Out of his eyes flashed a consuming fire,
    And in his hand the mystic horn he held,
    Which poison and all noxious charms dispelled.
    He heard in silence the Hidalgo's tale,
    Then answered in a voice that made him quail:
    "Son of the Church! when Abraham of old
    To sacrifice his only son was told,
    He did not pause to parley nor protest
    But hastened to obey the Lord's behest.
    In him it was accounted righteousness;
    The Holy Church expects of thee no less!"

    A sacred frenzy seized the father's brain,
    And Mercy from that hour implored in vain.
    Ah! who will e'er believe the words I say?
    His daughters he accused, and the same day
    They both were cast into the dungeon's gloom,
    That dismal antechamber of the tomb,
    Arraigned, condemned, and sentenced to the flame,
    The secret torture and the public shame.

    Then to the Grand Inquisitor once more
    The Hidalgo went, more eager than before,
    And said: "When Abraham offered up his son,
    He clave the wood wherewith it might be done.
    By his example taught, let me too bring
    Wood from the forest for my offering!"
    And the deep voice, without a pause, replied:
    "Son of the Church! by faith now justified,
    Complete thy sacrifice, even as thou wilt;
    The Church absolves thy conscience from all guilt!"

    Then this most wretched father went his way
    Into the woods, that round his castle lay,
    Where once his daughters in their childhood played
    With their young mother in the sun and shade.
    Now all the leaves had fallen; the branches bare
    Made a perpetual moaning in the air,
    And screaming from their eyries overhead
    The ravens sailed athwart the sky of lead.
    With his own hands he lopped the boughs and bound
    Fagots, that crackled with foreboding sound,
    And on his mules, caparisoned and gay
    With bells and tassels, sent them on their way.

    Then with his mind on one dark purpose bent,
    Again to the Inquisitor he went,
    And said: "Behold, the fagots I have brought,
    And now, lest my atonement be as naught,
    Grant me one more request, one last desire,--
    With my own hand to light the funeral fire!"
    And Torquemada answered from his seat,
    "Son of the Church!    Thine offering is complete;
    Her servants through all ages shall not cease
    To magnify thy deed.    Depart in peace!"

    Upon the market-place, builded of stone
    The scaffold rose, whereon Death claimed his own.
    At the four corners, in stern attitude,
    Four statues of the Hebrew Prophets stood,
    Gazing with calm indifference in their eyes
    Upon this place of human sacrifice,
    Round which was gathering fast the eager crowd,
    With clamor of voices dissonant and loud,
    And every roof and window was alive
    With restless gazers, swarming like a hive.

    The church-bells tolled, the chant of monks drew near,
    Loud trumpets stammered forth their notes of fear,
    A line of torches smoked along the street,
    There was a stir, a rush, a tramp of feet,
    And, with its banners floating in the air,
    Slowly the long procession crossed the square,
    And, to the statues of the Prophets bound,
    The victims stood, with fagots piled around.
    Then all the air a blast of trumpets shook,
    And louder sang the monks with bell and book,
    And the Hidalgo, lofty, stern, and proud,
    Lifted his torch, and, bursting through the crowd,
    Lighted in haste the fagots, and then fled,
    Lest those imploring eyes should strike him dead!

    O pitiless skies! why did your clouds retain
    For peasants' fields their floods of hoarded rain?
    O pitiless earth! why open no abyss
    To bury in its chasm a crime like this?

    That night a mingled column of fire and smoke
    Prom the dark thickets of the forest broke,
    And, glaring o'er the landscape leagues away,
    Made all the fields and hamlets bright as day.
    Wrapped in a sheet of flame the castle blazed,
    And as the villagers in terror gazed,
    They saw the figure of that cruel knight
    Lean from a window in the turret's height,
    His ghastly face illumined with the glare,
    His hands upraised above his head in prayer,
    Till the floor sank beneath him, and he fell
    Down the black hollow of that burning well.

    Three centuries and more above his bones
    Have piled the oblivious years like funeral stones;
    His name has perished with him, and no trace
    Remains on earth of his afflicted race;
    But Torquemada's name, with clouds o'ercast,
    Looms in the distant landscape of the Past,
    Like a burnt tower upon a blackened heath,
    Lit by the fires of burning woods beneath!


    Thus closed the tale of guilt and gloom,
    That cast upon each listener's face
    Its shadow, and for some brief space
    Unbroken silence filled the room.
    The Jew was thoughtful and distressed;
    Upon his memory thronged and pressed
    The persecution of his race,
    Their wrongs and sufferings and disgrace;
    His head was sunk upon his breast,
    And from his eyes alternate came
    Flashes of wrath and tears of shame.

    The student first the silence broke,
    As one who long has lain in wait
    With purpose to retaliate,
    And thus he dealt the avenging stroke.
    "In such a company as this,
    A tale so tragic seems amiss,
    That by its terrible control
    O'ermasters and drags down the soul
    Into a fathomless abyss.
    The Italian Tales that you disdain,
    Some merry Night of Straparole,
    Or Machiavelli's Belphagor,
    Would cheer us and delight us more,
    Give greater pleasure and less pain
    Than your grim tragedies of Spain!"

    And here the Poet raised his hand,
    With such entreaty and command,
    It stopped discussion at its birth,
    And said: "The story I shall tell
    Has meaning in it, if not mirth;
    Listen, and hear what once befell
    The merry birds of Killingworth!"



    It was the season, when through all the land
        The merle and mavis build, and building sing
    Those lovely lyrics, written by His hand,
        Whom Saxon Caedmon calls the Blitheheart King;
    When on the boughs the purple buds expand,
        The banners of the vanguard of the Spring,
    And rivulets, rejoicing, rush and leap,
    And wave their fluttering signals from the steep.

    The robin and the bluebird, piping loud,
        Filled all the blossoming orchards with their glee;
    The sparrows chirped as if they still were proud
        Their race in Holy Writ should mentioned be;
    And hungry crows assembled in a crowd,
        Clamored their piteous prayer incessantly,
    Knowing who hears the ravens cry, and said:
    "Give us, O Lord, this day our daily bread!"

    Across the Sound the birds of passage sailed,
        Speaking some unknown language strange and sweet
    Of tropic isle remote, and passing hailed
        The village with the cheers of all their fleet;
    Or quarrelling together, laughed and railed
        Like foreign sailors, landed in the street
    Of seaport town, and with outlandish noise
    Of oaths and gibberish frightening girls and boys.

    Thus came the jocund Spring in Killingworth,
        In fabulous day; some hundred years ago;
    And thrifty farmers, as they tilled the earth,
        Heard with alarm the cawing of the crow,
    That mingled with the universal mirth,
        Cassandra-like, prognosticating woe;
    They shook their heads, and doomed with dreadful words
    To swift destruction the whole race of birds.

    And a town-meeting was convened straightway
        To set a price upon the guilty heads
    Of these marauders, who, in lieu of pay,
        Levied black-mail upon the garden beds
    And cornfields, and beheld without dismay
        The awful scarecrow, with his fluttering shreds;
    The skeleton that waited at their feast,
    Whereby their sinful pleasure was increased.

    Then from his house, a temple painted white,
        With fluted columns, and a roof of red,
    The Squire came forth, august and splendid sight!
        Slowly descending, with majestic tread,
    Three flights of steps, nor looking left nor right,
        Down the long street he walked, as one who said,
    "A town that boasts inhabitants like me
    Can have no lack of good society!"

    The Parson, too, appeared, a man austere,
        The instinct of whose nature was to kill;
    The wrath of God he preached from year to year,
        And read, with fervor, Edwards on the Will;
    His favorite pastime was to slay the deer
        In Summer on some Adirondac hill;
    E'en now, while walking down the rural lane,
    He lopped the wayside lilies with his cane.

    From the Academy, whose belfry crowned
        The hill of Science with its vane of brass,
    Came the Preceptor, gazing idly round,
        Now at the clouds, and now at the green grass,
    And all absorbed in reveries profound
        Of fair Almira in the upper class,
    Who was, as in a sonnet he had said,
    As pure as water, and as good as bread.

    And next the Deacon issued from his door,
        In his voluminous neck-cloth, white as snow;
    A suit of sable bombazine he wore;
        His form was ponderous, and his step was slow;
    There never was so wise a man before;
        He seemed the incarnate "Well, I told you so!"
    And to perpetuate his great renown
    There was a street named after him in town.

    These came together in the new town-hall,
        With sundry farmers from the region round.
    The Squirt presided, dignified and tall,
        His air impressive and his reasoning sound;
    Ill fared it with the birds, both great and small;
        Hardly a friend in all that crowd they found,
    But enemies enough, who every one
    Charged them with all the crimes beneath the sun.

    When they had ended, from his place apart,
        Rose the Preceptor, to redress the wrong,
    And, trembling like a steed before the start,
        Looked round bewildered on the expectant throng;
    Then thought of fair Almira, and took heart
        To speak out what was in him, clear and strong,
    Alike regardless of their smile or frown,
    And quite determined not to be laughed down.

    "Plato, anticipating the Reviewers,
        From his Republic banished without pity
    The Poets; in this little town of yours,
        You put to death, by means of a Committee,
    The ballad-singers and the Troubadours,
        The street-musicians of the heavenly city,
    The birds, who make sweet music for us all
    In our dark hours, as David did for Saul.

    "The thrush that carols at the dawn of day
        From the green steeples of the piny wood;
    The oriole in the elm; the noisy jay,
        Jargoning like a foreigner at his food;
    The bluebird balanced on some topmost spray,
        Flooding with melody the neighborhood;
    Linnet and meadow-lark, and all the throng
    That dwell in nests, and have the gift of song.

    "You slay them all! and wherefore! for the gain
        Of a scant handful more or less of wheat,
    Or rye, or barley, or some other grain,
        Scratched up at random by industrious feet,
    Searching for worm or weevil after rain!
        Or a few cherries, that are not so sweet
    As are the songs these uninvited guests,
    Sing at their feast with comfortable breasts.

    "Do you ne'er think what wondrous beings these?
        Do you ne'er think who made them and who taught
    The dialect they speak, where melodies
        Alone are the interpreters of thought?
    Whose household words are songs in many keys,
        Sweeter than instrument of man e'er caught!
    Whose habitations in the tree-tops even
    Are half-way houses on the road to heaven!

    "Think, every morning when the sun peeps through
        The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove,
    How jubilant the happy birds renew
     Their old, melodious madrigals of love!
    And when you think of this, remember too
        'T is always morning somewhere, and above
    The awakening continent; from shore to shore,
    Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.

    "Think of your woods and orchards without birds!
        Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams
    As in an idiot's brain remembered words
        Hang empty 'mid the cobwebs of his dreams!
    Will bleat of flocks or bellowing of herds
        Make up for the lost music, when your teams
    Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more
    The feathered gleaners follow to your door?

    "What! would you rather see the incessant stir
        Of insects in the windrows of the hay,
    And hear the locust and the grasshopper
        Their melancholy hurdy-gurdies play?
    Is this more pleasant to you than the whir
        Of meadow-lark, and her sweet roundelay,
    Or twitter of little field-fares, as you take
    Your nooning in the shade of bush and brake?

    "You call them thieves and pillagers; but know,
        They are the winged wardens of your farms,
    Who from the cornfields drive the insidious foe,
        And from your harvests keep a hundred harms;
    Even the blackest of them all, the crow,
        Renders good service as your man-at-arms,
    Crushing the beetle in his coat of mail,
    And crying havoc on the slug and snail.

    "How can I teach your children gentleness,
        And mercy to the weak, and reverence
    For Life, which, in its weakness or excess,
        Is still a gleam of God's omnipotence,
    Or Death, which, seeming darkness, is no less
        The selfsame light, although averted hence,
    When by your laws, your actions, and your speech,
    You contradict the very things I teach?"

    With this he closed; and through the audience went
        A murmur, like the rustle of dead leaves;
    The farmers laughed and nodded, and some bent
        Their yellow heads together like their sheaves;
    Men have no faith in fine-spun sentiment
        Who put their trust in bullocks and in beeves.
    The birds were doomed; and, as the record shows,
    A bounty offered for the heads of crows.

    There was another audience out of reach,
        Who had no voice nor vote in making laws,
    But in the papers read his little speech,
        And crowned his modest temples with applause;
    They made him conscious, each one more than each,
        He still was victor, vanquished in their cause.
    Sweetest of all the applause he won from thee,
    O fair Almira at the Academy!

    And so the dreadful massacre began;
        O'er fields and orchards, and o'er woodland crests,
    The ceaseless fusillade of terror ran.
        Dead fell the birds, with blood-stains on their breasts,
    Or wounded crept away from sight of man,
        While the young died of famine in their nests;
    A slaughter to be told in groans, not words,
    The very St. Bartholomew of Birds!

    The Summer came, and all the birds were dead;
        The days were like hot coals; the very ground
    Was burned to ashes; in the orchards fed
        Myriads of caterpillars, and around
    The cultivated fields and garden beds
        Hosts of devouring insects crawled, and found
    No foe to check their march, till they had made
    The land a desert without leaf or shade.

    Devoured by worms, like Herod, was the town,
        Because, like Herod, it had ruthlessly
    Slaughtered the Innocents.    From the trees spun down
        The canker-worms upon the passers-by,
    Upon each woman's bonnet, shawl, and gown,
        Who shook them off with just a little cry
    They were the terror of each favorite walk,
    The endless theme of all the village talk.

    The farmers grew impatient but a few
        Confessed their error, and would not complain,
    For after all, the best thing one can do
        When it is raining, is to let it rain.
    Then they repealed the law, although they knew
        It would not call the dead to life again;
    As school-boys, finding their mistake too late,
    Draw a wet sponge across the accusing slate.

    That year in Killingworth the Autumn came
        Without the light of his majestic look,
    The wonder of the falling tongues of flame,
        The illumined pages of his Doom's-Day book.
    A few lost leaves blushed crimson with their shame,
        And drowned themselves despairing in the brook,
    While the wild wind went moaning everywhere,
    Lamenting the dead children of the air!

    But the next Spring a stranger sight was seen,
        A sight that never yet by bard was sung,
    As great a wonder as it would have been
        If some dumb animal had found a tongue!
    A wagon, overarched with evergreen,
        Upon whose boughs were wicker cages hung,
    All full of singing birds, came down the street,
    Filling the air with music wild and sweet.

    From all the country round these birds were brought,
        By order of the town, with anxious quest,
    And, loosened from their wicker prisons, sought
        In woods and fields the places they loved best,
    Singing loud canticles, which many thought
        Were satires to the authorities addressed,
    While others, listening in green lanes, averred
    Such lovely music never had been heard!

    But blither still and louder carolled they
        Upon the morrow, for they seemed to know
    It was the fair Almira's wedding-day,
        And everywhere, around, above, below,
    When the Preceptor bore his bride away,
        Their songs burst forth in joyous overflow,
    And a new heaven bent over a new earth
    Amid the sunny farms of Killingworth.


    The hour was late; the fire burned low,
    The Landlord's eyes were closed in sleep,
    And near the story's end a deep
    Sonorous sound at times was heard,
    As when the distant bagpipes blow.
    At this all laughed; the Landlord stirred,
    As one awaking from a swound,
    And, gazing anxiously around,
    Protested that he had not slept,
    But only shut his eyes, and kept
    His ears attentive to each word.

    Then all arose, and said "Good Night."
    Alone remained the drowsy Squire
    To rake the embers of the fire,
    And quench the waning parlor light.
    While from the windows, here and there,
    The scattered lamps a moment gleamed,
    And the illumined hostel seemed
    The constellation of the Bear,
    Downward, athwart the misty air,
    Sinking and setting toward the sun,
    Far off the village clock struck one.



    A cold, uninterrupted rain,
    That washed each southern window-pane,
    And made a river of the road;
    A sea of mist that overflowed
    The house, the barns, the gilded vane,
    And drowned the upland and the plain,
    Through which the oak-trees, broad and high,
    Like phantom ships went drifting by;
    And, hidden behind a watery screen,
    The sun unseen, or only seen
    As a faint pallor in the sky;--
    Thus cold and colorless and gray,
    The morn of that autumnal day,
    As if reluctant to begin,
    Dawned on the silent Sudbury Inn,
    And all the guests that in it lay.

    Full late they slept.    They did not hear
    The challenge of Sir Chanticleer,
    Who on the empty threshing-floor,
    Disdainful of the rain outside,
    Was strutting with a martial stride,
    As if upon his thigh he wore
    The famous broadsword of the Squire,
    And said, "Behold me, and admire!"

    Only the Poet seemed to hear,
    In drowse or dream, more near and near
    Across the border-land of sleep
    The blowing of a blithesome horn,
    That laughed the dismal day to scorn;
    A splash of hoofs and rush of wheels
    Through sand and mire like stranding keels,
    As from the road with sudden sweep
    The Mail drove up the little steep,
    And stopped beside the tavern door;
    A moment stopped, and then again
    With crack of whip and bark of dog
    Plunged forward through the sea of fog,
    And all was silent as before,--
    All silent save the dripping rain.

    Then one by one the guests came down,
    And greeted with a smile the Squire,
    Who sat before the parlor fire,
    Reading the paper fresh from town.
    First the Sicilian, like a bird,
    Before his form appeared, was heard
    Whistling and singing down the stair;
    Then came the Student, with a look
    As placid as a meadow-brook;
    The Theologian, still perplexed
    With thoughts of this world and the next;
    The Poet then, as one who seems
    Walking in visions and in dreams;
    Then the Musician, like a fair
    Hyperion from whose golden hair
    The radiance of the morning streams;
    And last the aromatic Jew
    Of Alicant, who, as he threw
    The door wide open, on the air
    Breathed round about him a perfume
    Of damask roses in full bloom,
    Making a garden of the room.

    The breakfast ended, each pursued
    The promptings of his various mood;
    Beside the fire in silence smoked
    The taciturn, impassive Jew,
    Lost in a pleasant revery;
    While, by his gravity provoked,
    His portrait the Sicilian drew,
    And wrote beneath it "Edrehi,
    At the Red Horse in Sudbury."

    By far the busiest of them all,
    The Theologian in the hall
    Was feeding robins in a cage,--
    Two corpulent and lazy birds,
    Vagrants and pilferers at best,
    If one might trust the hostler's words,
    Chief instrument of their arrest;
    Two poets of the Golden Age,
    Heirs of a boundless heritage
    Of fields and orchards, east and west,
    And sunshine of long summer days,
    Though outlawed now and dispossessed!--
    Such was the Theologian's phrase.

    Meanwhile the Student held discourse
    With the Musician, on the source
    Of all the legendary lore
    Among the nations, scattered wide
    Like silt and seaweed by the force
    And fluctuation of the tide;
    The tale repeated o'er and o'er,
    With change of place and change of name,
    Disguised, transformed, and yet the same
    We've heard a hundred times before.

    The Poet at the window mused,
    And saw, as in a dream confused,
    The countenance of the Sun, discrowned,
    And haggard with a pale despair,
    And saw the cloud-rack trail and drift
    Before it, and the trees uplift
    Their leafless branches, and the air
    Filled with the arrows of the rain,
    And heard amid the mist below,
    Like voices of distress and pain,
    That haunt the thoughts of men insane,
    The fateful cawings of the crow.

    Then down the road, with mud besprent,
    And drenched with rain from head to hoof,
    The rain-drops dripping from his mane
    And tail as from a pent-house roof,
    A jaded horse, his head down bent,
    Passed slowly, limping as he went.

    The young Sicilian--who had grown
    Impatient longer to abide
    A prisoner, greatly mortified
    To see completely overthrown
    His plans for angling in the brook,
    And, leaning o'er the bridge of stone,
    To watch the speckled trout glide by,
    And float through the inverted sky,
    Still round and round the baited hook--
    Now paced the room with rapid stride,
    And, pausing at the Poet's side,
    Looked forth, and saw the wretched steed,
    And said: "Alas for human greed,
    That with cold hand and stony eye
    Thus turns an old friend out to die,
    Or beg his food from gate to gate!
    This brings a tale into my mind,
    Which, if you are not disinclined
    To listen, I will now relate."

    All gave assent; all wished to hear,
    Not without many a jest and jeer,
    The story of a spavined steed;
    And even the Student with the rest
    Put in his pleasant little jest
    Out of Malherbe, that Pegasus
    Is but a horse that with all speed
    Bears poets to the hospital;
    While the Sicilian, self-possessed,
    After a moment's interval
    Began his simple story thus.



    At Atri in Abruzzo, a small town
    Of ancient Roman date, but scant renown,
    One of those little places that have run
    Half up the hill, beneath a blazing sun,
    And then sat down to rest, as if to say,
    "I climb no farther upward, come what may,"--
    The Re Giovanni, now unknown to fame,
    So many monarchs since have borne the name,
    Had a great bell hung in the market-place
    Beneath a roof, projecting some small space,
    By way of shelter from the sun and rain.
    Then rode he through the streets with all his train,
    And, with the blast of trumpets loud and long,
    Made proclamation, that whenever wrong
    Was done to any man, he should but ring
    The great bell in the square, and he, the King,
    Would cause the Syndic to decide thereon.
    Such was the proclamation of King John.

    How swift the happy days in Atri sped,
    What wrongs were righted, need not here be said.
    Suffice it that, as all things must decay,
    The hempen rope at length was worn away,
    Unravelled at the end, and, strand by strand,
    Loosened and wasted in the ringer's hand,
    Till one, who noted this in passing by,
    Mended the rope with braids of briony,
    So that the leaves and tendrils of the vine
    Hung like a votive garland at a shrine.

    By chance it happened that in Atri dwelt
    A knight, with spur on heel and sword in belt,
    Who loved to hunt the wild-boar in the woods,
    Who loved his falcons with their crimson hoods,
    Who loved his hounds and horses, and all sports
    And prodigalities of camps and courts;--
    Loved, or had loved them; for at last, grown old,
    His only passion was the love of gold.

    He sold his horses, sold his hawks and hounds,
    Rented his vineyards and his garden-grounds,
    Kept but one steed, his favorite steed of all,
    To starve and shiver in a naked stall,
    And day by day sat brooding in his chair,
    Devising plans how best to hoard and spare.

    At length he said: "What is the use or need
    To keep at my own cost this lazy steed,
    Eating his head off in my stables here,
    When rents are low and provender is dear?
    Let him go feed upon the public ways;
    I want him only for the holidays."
    So the old steed was turned into the heat
    Of the long, lonely, silent, shadeless street;
    And wandered in suburban lanes forlorn,
    Barked at by dogs, and torn by brier and thorn.

    One afternoon, as in that sultry clime
    It is the custom in the summer time,
    With bolted doors and window-shutters closed,
    The inhabitants of Atri slept or dozed;
    When suddenly upon their senses fell
    The loud alarum of the accusing bell!
    The Syndic started from his deep repose,
    Turned on his couch, and listened, and then rose
    And donned his robes, and with reluctant pace
    Went panting forth into the market-place,
    Where the great bell upon its cross-beam swung
    Reiterating with persistent tongue,
    In half-articulate jargon, the old song:
    "Some one hath done a wrong, hath done a wrong!"

    But ere he reached the belfry's light arcade
    He saw, or thought he saw, beneath its shade,
    No shape of human form of woman born,
    But a poor steed dejected and forlorn,
    Who with uplifted head and eager eye
    Was tugging at the vines of briony.
    "Domeneddio!" cried the Syndie straight,
    "This is the Knight of Atri's steed of state!
    He calls for justice, being sore distressed,
    And pleads his cause as loudly as the best."

    Meanwhile from street and lane a noisy crowd
    Had rolled together like a summer cloud,
    And told the story of the wretched beast
    In five-and-twenty different ways at least,
    With much gesticulation and appeal
    To heathen gods, in their excessive zeal.
    The Knight was called and questioned; in reply
    Did not confess the fact, did not deny;
    Treated the matter as a pleasant jest,
    And set at naught the Syndic and the rest,
    Maintaining, in an angry undertone,
    That he should do what pleased him with his own.

    And thereupon the Syndic gravely read
    The proclamation of the King; then said:
    "Pride goeth forth on horseback grand and gay,
    But cometh back on foot, and begs its way;
    Fame is the fragrance of heroic deeds,
    Of flowers of chivalry and not of weeds!
    These are familiar proverbs; but I fear
    They never yet have reached your knightly ear.
    What fair renown, what honor, what repute
    Can come to you from starving this poor brute?
    He who serves well and speaks not, merits more
    Than they who clamor loudest at the door.
    Therefore the law decrees that as this steed
    Served you in youth, henceforth you shall take heed
    To comfort his old age, and to provide
    Shelter in stall an food and field beside."

    The Knight withdrew abashed; the people all
    Led home the steed in triumph to his stall.
    The King heard and approved, and laughed in glee
    And cried aloud: "Right well it pleaseth me!
    Church-bells at best but ring us to the door;
    But go not in to mass; my bell doth more:
    It cometh into court and pleads the cause
    Of creatures dumb and unknown to the laws;
    And this shall make, in every Christian clime,
    The Bell of Atri famous for all time."


    "Yes, well your story pleads the cause
    Of those dumb mouths that have no speech,
    Only a cry from each to each
    In its own kind, with its own laws;
    Something that is beyond the reach
    Of human power to learn or teach,--
    An inarticulate moan of pain,
    Like the immeasurable main
    Breaking upon an unknown beach."

    Thus spake the Poet with a sigh;
    Then added, with impassioned cry,
    As one who feels the words he speaks,
    The color flushing in his cheeks,
    The fervor burning in his eye:
    "Among the noblest in the land,
    Though he may count himself the least,
    That man I honor and revere
    Who without favor, without fear,
    In the great city dares to stand
    The friend of every friendless beast,
    And tames with his unflinching hand
    The brutes that wear our form and face,
    The were-wolves of the human race!"
    Then paused, and waited with a frown,
    Like some old champion of romance,
    Who, having thrown his gauntlet down,
    Expectant leans upon his lance;
    But neither Knight nor Squire is found
    To raise the gauntlet from the ground,
    And try with him the battle's chance.

    "Wake from your dreams, O Edrehi!
    Or dreaming speak to us, and make
    A feint of being half awake,
    And tell us what your dreams may be.
    Out of the hazy atmosphere
    Of cloud-land deign to reappear
    Among us in this Wayside Inn;
    Tell us what visions and what scenes
    Illuminate the dark ravines
    In which you grope your way.    Begin!"

    Thus the Sicilian spake.    The Jew
    Made no reply, but only smiled,
    As men unto a wayward child,
    Not knowing what to answer, do.
    As from a cavern's mouth, o'ergrown
    With moss and intertangled vines,
    A streamlet leaps into the light
    And murmurs over root and stone
    In a melodious undertone;
    Or as amid the noonday night
    Of sombre and wind-haunted pines,
    There runs a sound as of the sea;
    So from his bearded lips there came
    A melody without a name,
    A song, a tale, a history,
    Or whatsoever it may be,
    Writ and recorded in these lines.



    Into the city of Kambalu,
    By the road that leadeth to Ispahan,
    At the head of his dusty caravan,
    Laden with treasure from realms afar,
    Baldacca and Kelat and Kandahar,
    Rode the great captain Alau.

    The Khan from his palace-window gazed,
    And saw in the thronging street beneath,
    In the light of the setting sun, that blazed
    Through the clouds of dust by the caravan raised,
    The flash of harness and jewelled sheath,
    And the shining scymitars of the guard,
    And the weary camels that bared their teeth,
    As they passed and passed through the gates unbarred
    Into the shade of the palace-yard.

    Thus into the city of Kambalu
    Rode the great captain Alau;
    And he stood before the Khan, and said:
    "The enemies of my lord are dead;
    All the Kalifs of all the West
    Bow and obey thy least behest;
    The plains are dark with the mulberry-trees,
    The weavers are busy in Samarcand,
    The miners are sifting the golden sand,
    The divers plunging for pearls in the seas,
    And peace and plenty are in the land.

    "Baldacca's Kalif, and he alone,
    Rose in revolt against thy throne:
    His treasures are at thy palace-door,
    With the swords and the shawls and the jewels he wore;
    His body is dust o'er the desert blown.

    "A mile outside of Baldacca's gate
    I left my forces to lie in wait,
    Concealed by forests and hillocks of sand,
    And forward dashed with a handful of men,
    To lure the old tiger from his den
    Into the ambush I had planned.
    Ere we reached the town the alarm was spread,
    For we heard the sound of gongs from within;
    And with clash of cymbals and warlike din
    The gates swung wide; and we turned and fled;
    And the garrison sallied forth and pursued,
    With the gray old Kalif at their head,
    And above them the banner of Mohammed:
    So we snared them all, and the town was subdued.

    "As in at the gate we rode, behold,
    A tower that is called the Tower of Gold!
    For there the Kalif had hidden his wealth,
    Heaped and hoarded and piled on high,
    Like sacks of wheat in a granary;
    And thither the miser crept by stealth
    To feel of the gold that gave him health,
    And to gaze and gloat with his hungry eye
    On jewels that gleamed like a glow-worm's spark,
    Or the eyes of a panther in the dark.

    "I said to the Kalif: 'Thou art old,
    Thou hast no need of so much gold.
    Thou shouldst not have heaped and hidden it here,
    Till the breath of battle was hot and near,
    But have sown through the land these useless hoards
    To spring into shining blades of swords,
    And keep thine honor sweet and clear.
    These grains of gold are not grains of wheat;
    These bars of silver thou canst not eat;
    These jewels and pearls and precious stones
    Cannot cure the aches in thy bones,
    Nor keep the feet of Death one hour
    From climbing the stairways of thy tower!'

    "Then into his dungeon I locked the drone,
    And left him to feed there all alone
    In the honey-cells of his golden hive:
    Never a prayer, nor a cry, nor a groan
    Was heard from those massive walls of stone,
    Nor again was the Kalif seen alive!

    "When at last we unlocked the door,
    We found him dead upon the floor;
    The rings had dropped from his withered hands,
    His teeth were like bones in the desert sands:
    Still clutching his treasure he had died;
    And as he lay there, he appeared
    A statue of gold with a silver beard,
    His arms outstretched as if crucified."

    This is the story, strange and true,
    That the great captain Alau
    Told to his brother the Tartar Khan,
    When he rode that day into Kambalu
    By the road that leadeth to Ispahan.


    "I thought before your tale began,"
    The Student murmured, "we should have
    Some legend written by Judah Rav
    In his Gemara of Babylon;
    Or something from the Gulistan,--
    The tale of the Cazy of Hamadan,
    Or of that King of Khorasan
    Who saw in dreams the eyes of one
    That had a hundred years been dead
    Still moving restless in his head,
    Undimmed, and gleaming with the lust
    Of power, though all the rest was dust.

    "But lo! your glittering caravan
    On the road that leadeth to Ispahan
    Hath led us farther to the East
    Into the regions of Cathay.
    Spite of your Kalif and his gold,
    Pleasant has been the tale you told,
    And full of color; that at least
    No one will question or gainsay.
    And yet on such a dismal day
    We need a merrier tale to clear
    The dark and heavy atmosphere.
    So listen, Lordlings, while I tell,
    Without a preface, what befell
    A simple cobbler, in the year --
    No matter; it was long ago;
    And that is all we need to know."



    I trust that somewhere and somehow
    You all have heard of Hagenau,
    A quiet, quaint, and ancient town
    Among the green Alsatian hills,
    A place of valleys, streams, and mills,
    Where Barbarossa's castle, brown
    With rust of centuries, still looks down
    On the broad, drowsy land below,--
    On shadowy forests filled with game,
    And the blue river winding slow
    Through meadows, where the hedges grow
    That give this little town its name.

    It happened in the good old times,
    While yet the Master-singers filled
    The noisy workshop and the guild
    With various melodies and rhymes,
    That here in Hagenau there dwelt
    A cobbler,--one who loved debate,
    And, arguing from a postulate,
    Would say what others only felt;
    A man of forecast and of thrift,
    And of a shrewd and careful mind
    In this world's business, but inclined
    Somewhat to let the next world drift.

    Hans Sachs with vast delight he read,
    And Regenbogen's rhymes of love,
    For their poetic fame had spread
    Even to the town of Hagenau;
    And some Quick Melody of the Plough,
    Or Double Harmony of the Dove,
    Was always running in his head.
    He kept, moreover, at his side,
    Among his leathers and his tools,
    Reynard the Fox, the Ship of Fools,
    Or Eulenspiegel, open wide;
    With these he was much edified:
    He thought them wiser than the Schools.

    His good wife, full of godly fear,
    Liked not these worldly themes to hear;
    The Psalter was her book of songs;
    The only music to her ear
    Was that which to the Church belongs,
    When the loud choir on Sunday chanted,
    And the two angels carved in wood,
    That by the windy organ stood,
    Blew on their trumpets loud and clear,
    And all the echoes, far and near,
    Gibbered as if the church were haunted.
    Outside his door, one afternoon,
    This humble votary of the muse
    Sat in the narrow strip of shade
    By a projecting cornice made,
    Mending the Burgomaster's shoes,
    And singing a familiar tune:--

     "Our ingress into the world
         Was naked and bare;
     Our progress through the world
         Is trouble and care;
     Our egress from the world
         Will be nobody knows where;
     But if we do well here
         We shall do well there;
     And I could tell you no more,
         Should I preach a whole year!"

    Thus sang the cobbler at his work;
    And with his gestures marked the time
    Closing together with a jerk
    Of his waxed thread the stitch and rhyme.
    Meanwhile his quiet little dame
    Was leaning o'er the window-sill,
    Eager, excited, but mouse-still,
    Gazing impatiently to see
    What the great throng of folk might be
    That onward in procession came,
    Along the unfrequented street,
    With horns that blew, and drums that beat,
    And banners flying, and the flame
    Of tapers, and, at times, the sweet
    Voices of nuns; and as they sang
    Suddenly all the church-bells rang.

    In a gay coach, above the crowd,
    There sat a monk in ample hood,
    Who with his right hand held aloft
    A red and ponderous cross of wood,
    To which at times he meekly bowed.
    In front three horsemen rode, and oft,
    With voice and air importunate,
    A boisterous herald cried aloud:
    "The grace of God is at your gate!"
    So onward to the church they passed.

    The cobbler slowly tuned his last,
    And, wagging his sagacious head,
    Unto his kneeling housewife said:
    "'Tis the monk Tetzel.    I have heard
    The cawings of that reverend bird.
    Don't let him cheat you of your gold;
    Indulgence is not bought and sold."

    The church of Hagenau, that night,
    Was full of people, full of light;
    An odor of incense filled the air,
    The priest intoned, the organ groaned
    Its inarticulate despair;
    The candles on the altar blazed,
    And full in front of it upraised
    The red cross stood against the glare.
    Below, upon the altar-rail
    Indulgences were set to sale,
    Like ballads at a country fair.
    A heavy strong-box, iron-bound
    And carved with many a quaint device,
    Received, with a melodious sound,
    The coin that purchased Paradise.

    Then from the pulpit overhead,
    Tetzel the monk, with fiery glow,
    Thundered upon the crowd below.
    "Good people all, draw near!" he said;
    "Purchase these letters, signed and sealed,
    By which all sins, though unrevealed
    And unrepented, are forgiven!
    Count but the gain, count not the loss
    Your gold and silver are but dross,
    And yet they pave the way to heaven.
    I hear your mothers and your sires
    Cry from their purgatorial fires,
    And will ye not their ransom pay?
    O senseless people! when the gate
    Of heaven is open, will ye wait?
    Will ye not enter in to-day?
    To-morrow it will be too late;
    I shall be gone upon my way.
    Make haste! bring money while ye may!'

    The women shuddered, and turned pale;
    Allured by hope or driven by fear,
    With many a sob and many a tear,
    All crowded to the altar-rail.
    Pieces of silver and of gold
    Into the tinkling strong-box fell
    Like pebbles dropped into a well;
    And soon the ballads were all sold.
    The cobbler's wife among the rest
    Slipped into the capacious chest
    A golden florin; then withdrew,
    Hiding the paper in her breast;
    And homeward through the darkness went
    Comforted, quieted, content;
    She did not walk, she rather flew,
    A dove that settles to her nest,
    When some appalling bird of prey
    That scared her has been driven away.

    The days went by, the monk was gone,
    The summer passed, the winter came;
    Though seasons changed, yet still the same
    The daily round of life went on;
    The daily round of household care,
    The narrow life of toil and prayer.
    But in her heart the cobbler's dame
    Had now a treasure beyond price,
    A secret joy without a name,
    The certainty of Paradise.
    Alas, alas!    Dust unto dust!
    Before the winter wore away,
    Her body in the churchyard lay,
    Her patient soul was with the Just!
    After her death, among the things
    That even the poor preserve with care,--
    Some little trinkets and cheap rings,
    A locket with her mother's hair,
    Her wedding gown, the faded flowers
    She wore upon her wedding day,--
    Among these memories of past hours,
    That so much of the heart reveal,
    Carefully kept and put away,
    The Letter of Indulgence lay
    Folded, with signature and seal.

    Meanwhile the Priest, aggrieved and pained,
    Waited and wondered that no word
    Of mass or requiem he heard,
    As by the Holy Church ordained;
    Then to the Magistrate complained,
    That as this woman had been dead
    A week or more, and no mass said,
    It was rank heresy, or at least
    Contempt of Church; thus said the Priest;
    And straight the cobbler was arraigned.

    He came, confiding in his cause,
    But rather doubtful of the laws.
    The Justice from his elbow-chair
    Gave him a look that seemed to say:
    "Thou standest before a Magistrate,
    Therefore do not prevaricate!"
    Then asked him in a business way,
    Kindly but cold: "Is thy wife dead?"
    The cobbler meekly bowed his head;
    "She is," came struggling from his throat
    Scarce audibly.    The Justice wrote
    The words down in a book, and then
    Continued, as he raised his pen:
    "She is; and hath a mass been said
    For the salvation of her soul?
    Come, speak the truth! confess the whole!"
    The cobbler without pause replied:
    "Of mass or prayer there was no need;
    For at the moment when she died
    Her soul was with the glorified!"
    And from his pocket with all speed
    He drew the priestly title-deed,
    And prayed the Justice he would read.

    The Justice read, amused, amazed;
    And as he read his mirth increased;
    At times his shaggy brows he raised,
    Now wondering at the cobbler gazed,
    Now archly at the angry Priest.
    "From all excesses, sins, and crimes
    Thou hast committed in past times
    Thee I absolve!    And furthermore,
    Purified from all earthly taints,
    To the communion of the Saints
    And to the sacraments restore!
    All stains of weakness, and all trace
    Of shame and censure I efface;
    Remit the pains thou shouldst endure,
    And make thee innocent and pure,
    So that in dying, unto thee
    The gates of heaven shall open be!
    Though long thou livest, yet this grace
    Until the moment of thy death
    Unchangeable continueth!"

    Then said he to the Priest: "I find
    This document is duly signed
    Brother John Tetzel, his own hand.
    At all tribunals in the land
    In evidence it may be used;
    Therefore acquitted is the accused."
    Then to the cobbler turned: "My friend,
    Pray tell me, didst thou ever read
    Reynard the Fox?"--"O yes, indeed!"--
    "I thought so.    Don't forget the end."


    "What was the end?    I am ashamed
    Not to remember Reynard's fate;
    I have not read the book of late;
    Was he not hanged?" the Poet said.
    The Student gravely shook his head,
    And answered: "You exaggerate.
    There was a tournament proclaimed,
    And Reynard fought with Isegrim
    The Wolf, and having vanquished him,
    Rose to high honor in the State,
    And Keeper of the Seals was named!"

    At this the gay Sicilian laughed:
    "Fight fire with fire, and craft with craft;
    Successful cunning seems to be
    The moral of your tale," said he.
    "Mine had a better, and the Jew's
    Had none at all, that I could see;
    His aim was only to amuse."

    Meanwhile from out its ebon case
    His violin the Minstrel drew,
    And having tuned its strings anew,
    Now held it close in his embrace,
    And poising in his outstretched hand
    The bow, like a magician's wand,
    He paused, and said, with beaming face:
    "Last night my story was too long;
    To-day I give you but a song,
    An old tradition of the North;
    But first, to put you in the mood,
    I will a little while prelude,
    And from this instrument draw forth
    Something by way of overture."

    He played; at first the tones were pure
    And tender as a summer night,
    The full moon climbing to her height,
    The sob and ripple of the seas,
    The flapping of an idle sail;
    And then by sudden and sharp degrees
    The multiplied, wild harmonies
    Freshened and burst into a gale;
    A tempest howling through the dark,
    A crash as of some shipwrecked bark.
    A loud and melancholy wail.

    Such was the prelude to the tale
    Told by the Minstrel; and at times
    He paused amid its varying rhymes,
    And at each pause again broke in
    The music of his violin,
    With tones of sweetness or of fear,
    Movements of trouble or of calm,
    Creating their own atmosphere;
    As sitting in a church we hear
    Between the verses of the psalm
    The organ playing soft and clear,
    Or thundering on the startled ear.




    At Stralsund, by the Baltic Sea,
        Within the sandy bar,
    At sunset of a summer's day,
    Ready for sea, at anchor lay
        The good ship Valdemar.

    The sunbeams danced upon the waves,
        And played along her side;
    And through the cabin windows streamed
    In ripples of golden light, that seemed
        The ripple of the tide.

    There sat the captain with his friends,
        Old skippers brown and hale,
    Who smoked and grumbled o'er their grog,
    And talked of iceberg and of fog,
        Of calm and storm and gale.

    And one was spinning a sailor's yarn
        About Klaboterman,
    The Kobold of the sea; a spright
    Invisible to mortal sight,
        Who o'er the rigging ran.

    Sometimes he hammered in the hold,
        Sometimes upon the mast,
    Sometimes abeam, sometimes abaft,
    Or at the bows he sang and laughed,
        And made all tight and fast.

    He helped the sailors at their work,
        And toiled with jovial din;
    He helped them hoist and reef the sails,
    He helped them stow the casks and bales,
        And heave the anchor in.

    But woe unto the lazy louts,
        The idlers of the crew;
    Them to torment was his delight,
    And worry them by day and night,
        And pinch them black and blue.

    And woe to him whose mortal eyes
        Klaboterman behold.
    It is a certain sign of death!--
    The cabin-boy here held his breath,
        He felt his blood run cold.


    The jolly skipper paused awhile,
        And then again began;
    "There is a Spectre Ship," quoth he,
    "A ship of the Dead that sails the sea,
        And is called the Carmilhan.

    "A ghostly ship, with a ghostly crew,
        In tempests she appears;
    And before the gale, or against the gale,
    She sails without a rag of sail,
        Without a helmsman steers.

    "She haunts the Atlantic north and south,
        But mostly the mid-sea,
    Where three great rocks rise bleak and bare
    Like furnace-chimneys in the air,
        And are called the Chimneys Three.

    "And ill betide the luckless ship
        That meets the Carmilhan;
    Over her decks the seas will leap,
    She must go down into the deep,
        And perish mouse and man."

    The captain of the Valdemar
        Laughed loud with merry heart.
    "I should like to see this ship," said he;
    "I should like to find these Chimneys Three,
        That are marked down in the chart.

    "I have sailed right over the spot," he said
        "With a good stiff breeze behind,
    When the sea was blue, and the sky was clear,--
    You can follow my course by these pinholes here,--
        And never a rock could find."

    And then he swore a dreadful oath,
        He swore by the Kingdoms Three,
    That, should he meet the Carmilhan,
    He would run her down, although he ran
        Right into Eternity!

    All this, while passing to and fro,
     The cabin-boy had heard;
    He lingered at the door to hear,
    And drank in all with greedy ear,
        And pondered every word.

    He was a simple country lad,
        But of a roving mind.
    "O, it must be like heaven," thought he,
    "Those far-off foreign lands to see,
        And fortune seek and find!"

    But in the fo'castle, when he heard
        The mariners blaspheme,
    He thought of home, he thought of God,
    And his mother under the churchyard sod,
        And wished it were a dream.

    One friend on board that ship had he;
        'T was the Klaboterman,
    Who saw the Bible in his chest,
    And made a sign upon his breast,
        All evil things to ban.


    The cabin windows have grown blank
        As eyeballs of the dead;
    No more the glancing sunbeams burn
    On the gilt letters of the stern,
        But on the figure-head;

    On Valdemar Victorious,
        Who looketh with disdain
    To see his image in the tide
    Dismembered float from side to side,
        And reunite again.

    "It is the wind," those skippers said,
        "That swings the vessel so;
    It is the wind; it freshens fast,
    'T is time to say farewell at last
        'T is time for us to go."

    They shook the captain by the hand,
        "Goodluck! goodluck!" they cried;
    Each face was like the setting sun,
    As, broad and red, they one by one
        Went o'er the vessel's side.

    The sun went down, the full moon rose,
        Serene o'er field and flood;
    And all the winding creeks and bays
    And broad sea-meadows seemed ablaze,
        The sky was red as blood.

    The southwest wind blew fresh and fair,
        As fair as wind could be;
    Bound for Odessa, o'er the bar,
    With all sail set, the Valdemar
        Went proudly out to sea.

    The lovely moon climbs up the sky
        As one who walks in dreams;
    A tower of marble in her light,
    A wall of black, a wall of white,
        The stately vessel seems.

    Low down upon the sandy coast
        The lights begin to burn;
    And now, uplifted high in air,
    They kindle with a fiercer glare,
        And now drop far astern.

    The dawn appears, the land is gone,
        The sea is all around;
    Then on each hand low hills of sand
    Emerge and form another land;
        She steereth through the Sound.

    Through Kattegat and Skager-rack
        She flitteth like a ghost;
    By day and night, by night and day,
    She bounds, she flies upon her way
        Along the English coast.

    Cape Finisterre is drawing near,
        Cape Finisterre is past;
    Into the open ocean stream
    She floats, the vision of a dream
        Too beautiful to last.

    Suns rise and set, and rise, and yet
        There is no land in sight;
    The liquid planets overhead
    Burn brighter now the moon is dead,
        And longer stays the night.


    And now along the horizon's edge
        Mountains of cloud uprose,
    Black as with forests underneath,
    Above their sharp and jagged teeth
        Were white as drifted snows.

    Unseen behind them sank the sun,
        But flushed each snowy peak
    A little while with rosy light
    That faded slowly from the sight
        As blushes from the cheek.

    Black grew the sky,--all black, all black;
        The clouds were everywhere;
    There was a feeling of suspense
    In nature, a mysterious sense
        Of terror in the air.

    And all on board the Valdemar
        Was still as still could be;
    Save when the dismal ship-bell tolled,
    As ever and anon she rolled,
        And lurched into the sea.

    The captain up and down the deck
        Went striding to and fro;
    Now watched the compass at the wheel,
    Now lifted up his hand to feel
        Which way the wind might blow.

    And now he looked up at the sails,
        And now upon the deep;
    In every fibre of his frame
    He felt the storm before it came,
        He had no thought of sleep.

    Eight bells! and suddenly abaft,
        With a great rush of rain,
    Making the ocean white with spume,
    In darkness like the day of doom,
        On came the hurricane.

    The lightning flashed from cloud to cloud,
        And rent the sky in two;
    A jagged flame, a single jet
    Of white fire, like a bayonet
        That pierced the eyeballs through.

    Then all around was dark again,
        And blacker than before;
    But in that single flash of light
    He had beheld a fearful sight,
        And thought of the oath he swore.

    For right ahead lay the Ship of the Dead,
        The ghostly Carmilhan!
    Her masts were stripped, her yards were bare,
    And on her bowsprit, poised in air,
        Sat the Klaboterman.

    Her crew of ghosts was all on deck
        Or clambering up the shrouds;
    The boatswain's whistle, the captain's hail,
    Were like the piping of the gale,
        And thunder in the clouds.

    And close behind the Carmilhan
        There rose up from the sea,
    As from a foundered ship of stone,
    Three bare and splintered masts alone:
        They were the Chimneys Three.

    And onward dashed the Valdemar
        And leaped into the dark;
    A denser mist, a colder blast,
    A little shudder, and she had passed
        Right through the Phantom Bark.

    She cleft in twain the shadowy hulk,
        But cleft it unaware;
    As when, careering to her nest,
    The sea-gull severs with her breast
        The unresisting air.

    Again the lightning flashed; again
        They saw the Carmilhan,
    Whole as before in hull and spar;
    But now on board of the Valdemar
        Stood the Klaboterman.

    And they all knew their doom was sealed;
        They knew that death was near;
    Some prayed who never prayed before,
    And some they wept, and some they swore,
        And some were mute with fear.

    Then suddenly there came a shock,
        And louder than wind or sea
    A cry burst from the crew on deck,
    As she dashed and crashed, a hopeless wreck,
        Upon the Chimneys Three.

    The storm and night were passed, the light
        To streak the east began;
    The cabin-boy, picked up at sea,
    Survived the wreck, and only he,
        To tell of the Carmilhan.


    When the long murmur of applause
    That greeted the Musician's lay
    Had slowly buzzed itself away,
    And the long talk of Spectre Ships
    That followed died upon their lips
    And came unto a natural pause,
    "These tales you tell are one and all
    Of the Old World," the Poet said,
    "Flowers gathered from a crumbling wall,
    Dead leaves that rustle as they fall;
    Let me present you in their stead
    Something of our New England earth,
    A tale which, though of no great worth,
    Has still this merit, that it yields
    A certain freshness of the fields,
    A sweetness as of home-made bread."

    The Student answered: "Be discreet;
    For if the flour be fresh and sound,
    And if the bread be light and sweet,
    Who careth in what mill 't was ground,
    Or of what oven felt the heat,
    Unless, as old Cervantes said,
    You are looking after better bread
    Than any that is made of wheat?
    You know that people nowadays
    To what is old give little praise;
    All must be new in prose and verse:
    They want hot bread, or something worse,
    Fresh every morning, and half baked;
    The wholesome bread of yesterday,
    Too stale for them, is thrown away,
    Nor is their thirst with water slaked.

    As oft we see the sky in May
    Threaten to rain, and yet not rain,
    The Poet's face, before so gay,
    Was clouded with a look of pain,
    But suddenly brightened up again;
    And without further let or stay
    He told his tale of yesterday.



    One hundred years ago, and something more,
    In Queen Street, Portsmouth, at her tavern door,
    Neat as a pin, and blooming as a rose,
    Stood Mistress Stavers in her furbelows,
    Just as her cuckoo-clock was striking nine.
    Above her head, resplendent on the sign,
    The portrait of the Earl of Halifax,
    In scarlet coat and periwig of flax,
    Surveyed at leisure all her varied charms,
    Her cap, her bodice, her white folded arms,
    And half resolved, though he was past his prime,
    And rather damaged by the lapse of time,
    To fall down at her feet and to declare
    The passion that had driven him to despair.
    For from his lofty station he had seen
    Stavers, her husband, dressed in bottle-green,
    Drive his new Flying Stage-coach, four in hand,
    Down the long lane, and out into the land,
    And knew that he was far upon the way
    To Ipswich and to Boston on the Bay!

    Just then the meditations of the Earl
    Were interrupted by a little girl,
    Barefooted, ragged, with neglected hair,
    Eyes full of laughter, neck and shoulders bare,
    A thin slip of a girl, like a new moon,
    Sure to be rounded into beauty soon,
    A creature men would worship and adore,
    Though now in mean habiliments she bore
    A pail of water, dripping, through the street
    And bathing, as she went her naked feet.

    It was a pretty picture, full of grace,--
    The slender form, the delicate, thin face;
    The swaying motion, as she hurried by;
    The shining feet, the laughter in her eye,
    That o'er her face in ripples gleamed and glanced,
    As in her pail the shifting sunbeam danced:
    And with uncommon feelings of delight
    The Earl of Halifax beheld the sight.
    Not so Dame Stavers, for he heard her say
    These words, or thought he did, as plain as day:
    "O Martha Hilton!    Fie! how dare you go
    About the town half dressed, and looking so!"
    At which the gypsy laughed, and straight replied:
    "No matter how I look; I yet shall ride
    In my own chariot, ma'am."    And on the child
    The Earl of Halifax benignly smiled,
    As with her heavy burden she passed on,
    Looked back, then turned the corner, and was gone.

    What next, upon that memorable day,
    Arrested his attention was a gay
    And brilliant equipage, that flashed and spun,
    The silver harness glittering in the sun,
    Outriders with red jackets, lithe and lank,
    Pounding the saddles as they rose and sank,
    While all alone within the chariot sat
    A portly person with three-cornered hat,
    A crimson velvet coat, head high in air,
    Gold-headed cane, and nicely powdered hair,
    And diamond buckles sparkling at his knees,
    Dignified, stately, florid, much at ease.
    Onward the pageant swept, and as it passed,
    Fair Mistress Stavers courtesied low and fast;
    For this was Governor Wentworth, driving down
    To Little Harbor, just beyond the town,
    Where his Great House stood looking out to sea,
    A goodly place, where it was good to be.

    It was a pleasant mansion, an abode
    Near and yet hidden from the great high-road,
    Sequestered among trees, a noble pile,
    Baronial and colonial in its style;
    Gables and dormer-windows everywhere,
    And stacks of chimneys rising high in air,--
    Pandaean pipes, on which all winds that blew
    Made mournful music the whole winter through.
    Within, unwonted splendors met the eye,
    Panels, and floors of oak, and tapestry;
    Carved chimney-pieces, where on brazen dogs
    Revelled and roared the Christmas fires of logs;
    Doors opening into darkness unawares,
    Mysterious passages, and flights of stairs;
    And on the walls, in heavy gilded frames,
    The ancestral Wentworths with Old-Scripture names.

    Such was the mansion where the great man dwelt.
    A widower and childless; and he felt
    The loneliness, the uncongenial gloom,
    That like a presence haunted ever room;
    For though not given to weakness, he could feel
    The pain of wounds, that ache because they heal.

    The years came and the years went,--seven in all,
    And passed in cloud and sunshine o'er the Hall;
    The dawns their splendor through its chambers shed,
    The sunsets flushed its western windows red;
    The snow was on its roofs, the wind, the rain;
    Its woodlands were in leaf and bare again;
    Moons waxed and waned, the lilacs bloomed and died,
    In the broad river ebbed and flowed the tide,
    Ships went to sea, and ships came home from sea,
    And the slow years sailed by and ceased to be.

    And all these years had Martha Hilton served
    In the Great House, not wholly unobserved:
    By day, by night, the silver crescent grew,
    Though hidden by clouds, her light still shining through;
    A maid of all work, whether coarse or fine,
    A servant who made service seem divine!
    Through her each room was fair to look upon;
    The mirrors glistened, and the brasses shone,
    The very knocker on the outer door,
    If she but passed, was brighter than before.

    And now the ceaseless turning of the mill
    Of Time, that never for an hour stands still,
    Ground out the Governor's sixtieth birthday,
    And powdered his brown hair with silver-gray.
    The robin, the forerunner of the spring,
    The bluebird with his jocund carolling,
    The restless swallows building in the eaves,
    The golden buttercups, the grass, the leaves,
    The lilacs tossing in the winds of May,
    All welcomed this majestic holiday!
    He gave a splendid banquet served on plate,
    Such as became the Governor of the State,
    Who represented England and the King,
    And was magnificent in everything.
    He had invited all his friends and peers,--
    The Pepperels, the Langdons, and the Lears,
    The Sparhawks, the Penhallows, and the rest;
    For why repeat the name of every guest?
    But I must mention one, in bands and gown,
    The rector there, the Reverend Arthur Brown
    Of the Established Church; with smiling face
    He sat beside the Governor and said grace;
    And then the feast went on, as others do,
    But ended as none other I e'er knew.

    When they had drunk the King, with many a cheer,
    The Governor whispered in a servant's ear,
    Who disappeared and presently there stood
    Within the room, in perfect womanhood,
    A maiden, modest and yet self-possessed,
    Youthful and beautiful, and simply dressed.
    Can this be Martha Hilton?    It must be!
    Yes, Martha Hilton, and no other she!
    Dowered with the beauty of her twenty years,
    How ladylike, how queenlike she appears;
    The pale, thin crescent of the days gone by
    Is Dian now in all her majesty!
    Yet scarce a guest perceived that she was there,
    Until the Governor, rising from his chair,
    Played slightly with his ruffles, then looked down,
    And said unto the Reverend Arthur Brown:
    "This is my birthday: it shall likewise be
    My wedding-day; and you shall marry me!"

    The listening guests were greatly mystified,
    None more so than the rector, who replied:
    "Marry you?    Yes, that were a pleasant task,
    Your Excellency; but to whom? I ask."
    The Governor answered: "To this lady here"
    And beckoned Martha Hilton to draw near.
    She came and stood, all blushes, at his side.
    The rector paused.    The impatient Governor cried:
    "This is the lady; do you hesitate?
    Then I command you as Chief Magistrate."
    The rector read the service loud and clear:
    "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here,"
    And so on to the end.    At his command
    On the fourth finger of her fair left hand
    The Governor placed the ring; and that was all:
    Martha was Lady Wentworth of the Hall!


    Well pleased the audience heard the tale.
    The Theologian said: "Indeed,
    To praise you there is little need;
    One almost hears the farmers flail
    Thresh out your wheat, nor does there fail
    A certain freshness, as you said,
    And sweetness as of home-made bread.
    But not less sweet and not less fresh
    Are many legends that I know,
    Writ by the monks of long-ago,
    Who loved to mortify the flesh,
    So that the soul might purer grow,
    And rise to a diviner state;
    And one of these--perhaps of all
    Most beautiful--I now recall,
    And with permission will narrate;
    Hoping thereby to make amends
    For that grim tragedy of mine,
    As strong and black as Spanish wine,
    I told last night, and wish almost
    It had remained untold, my friends;
    For Torquemada's awful ghost
    Came to me in the dreams I dreamed,
    And in the darkness glared and gleamed
    Like a great lighthouse on the coast."

    The Student laughing said: "Far more
    Like to some dismal fire of bale
    Flaring portentous on a hill;
    Or torches lighted on a shore
    By wreckers in a midnight gale.
    No matter; be it as you will,
    Only go forward with your tale."



    "Hads't thou stayed, I must have fled!"
    That is what the Vision said.

    In his chamber all alone,
    Kneeling on the floor of stone,
    Prayed the Monk in deep contrition
    For his sins of indecision,
    Prayed for greater self-denial
    In temptation and in trial;
    It was noonday by the dial,
    And the Monk was all alone.

    Suddenly, as if it lightened,
    An unwonted splendor brightened
    All within him and without him
    In that narrow cell of stone;
    And he saw the Blessed Vision
    Of our Lord, with light Elysian
    Like a vesture wrapped about him,
    Like a garment round him thrown.

    Not as crucified and slain,
    Not in agonies of pain,
    Not with bleeding hands and feet,
    Did the Monk his Master see;
    But as in the village street,
    In the house or harvest-field,
    Halt and lame and blind he healed,
    When he walked in Galilee.

    In an attitude imploring,
    Hands upon his bosom crossed,
    Wondering, worshipping, adoring,
    Knelt the Monk in rapture lost.
    Lord, he thought, in heaven that reignest,
    Who am I, that thus thou deignest
    To reveal thyself to me?
    Who am I, that from the centre
    Of thy glory thou shouldst enter
    This poor cell, my guest to be?

    Then amid his exaltation,
    Loud the convent bell appalling,
    From its belfry calling, calling,
    Rang through court and corridor
    With persistent iteration
    He had never heard before.
    It was now the appointed hour
    When alike in shine or shower,
    Winter's cold or summer's heat,
    To the convent portals came
    All the blind and halt and lame,
    All the beggars of the street,
    For their daily dole of food
    Dealt them by the brotherhood;
    And their almoner was he
    Who upon his bended knee,
    Rapt in silent ecstasy
    Of divinest self-surrender,
    Saw the Vision and the Splendor.

    Deep distress and hesitation
    Mingled with his adoration;
    Should he go, or should he stay?
    Should he leave the poor to wait
    Hungry at the convent gate,
    Till the Vision passed away?
    Should he slight his radiant guest,
    Slight this visitant celestial,
    For a crowd of ragged, bestial
    Beggars at the convent gate?
    Would the Vision there remain?
    Would the Vision come again?
    Then a voice within his breast
    Whispered, audible and clear
    As if to the outward ear:
    "Do thy duty; that is best;
    Leave unto thy Lord the rest!"

    Straightway to his feet he started,
    And with longing look intent
    On the Blessed Vision bent,
    Slowly from his cell departed,
    Slowly on his errand went.

    At the gate the poor were waiting,
    Looking through the iron grating,
    With that terror in the eye
    That is only seen in those
    Who amid their wants and woes
    Hear the sound of doors that close,
    And of feet that pass them by;
    Grown familiar with disfavor,
    Grown familiar with the savor
    Of the bread by which men die!
    But to-day, they knew not why,
    Like the gate of Paradise
    Seemed the convent sate to rise,
    Like a sacrament divine
    Seemed to them the bread and wine.
    In his heart the Monk was praying,
    Thinking of the homeless poor,
    What they suffer and endure;
    What we see not, what we see;
    And the inward voice was saying:
    "Whatsoever thing thou doest
    To the least of mine and lowest,
    That thou doest unto me!"

    Unto me! but had the Vision
    Come to him in beggar's clothing,
    Come a mendicant imploring,
    Would he then have knelt adoring,
    Or have listened with derision,
    And have turned away with loathing.

    Thus his conscience put the question,
    Full of troublesome suggestion,
    As at length, with hurried pace,
    Towards his cell he turned his face,
    And beheld the convent bright
    With a supernatural light,
    Like a luminous cloud expanding
    Over floor and wall and ceiling.

    But he paused with awe-struck feeling
    At the threshold of his door,
    For the Vision still was standing
    As he left it there before,
    When the convent bell appalling,
    From its belfry calling, calling,
    Summoned him to feed the poor.
    Through the long hour intervening
    It had waited his return,
    And he felt his bosom burn,
    Comprehending all the meaning,
    When the Blessed Vision said,
    "Hadst thou stayed, I must have fled!"


    All praised the Legend more or less;
    Some liked the moral, some the verse;
    Some thought it better, and some worse
    Than other legends of the past;
    Until, with ill-concealed distress
    At all their cavilling, at last
    The Theologian gravely said:
    "The Spanish proverb, then, is right;
    Consult your friends on what you do,
    And one will say that it is white,
    And others say that it is red."
    And "Amen!" quoth the Spanish Jew.

    "Six stories told!    We must have seven,
    A cluster like the Pleiades,
    And lo! it happens, as with these,
    That one is missing from our heaven.
    Where is the Landlord?    Bring him here;
    Let the Lost Pleiad reappear."

    Thus the Sicilian cried, and went
    Forthwith to seek his missing star,
    But did not find him in the bar,
    A place that landlords most frequent,
    Nor yet beside the kitchen fire,
    Nor up the stairs, nor in the hall;
    It was in vain to ask or call,
    There were no tidings of the Squire.

    So he came back with downcast head,
    Exclaiming: "Well, our bashful host
    Hath surely given up the ghost.
    Another proverb says the dead
    Can tell no tales; and that is true.
    It follows, then, that one of you
    Must tell a story in his stead.
    You must," he to the Student said,
    "Who know so many of the best,
    And tell them better than the rest."
    Straight by these flattering words beguiled,
    The Student, happy as a child
    When he is called a little man,
    Assumed the double task imposed,
    And without more ado unclosed
    His smiling lips, and thus began.



    Baron Castine of St. Castine
    Has left his chateau in the Pyrenees,
    And sailed across the western seas.
    When he went away from his fair demesne
    The birds were building, the woods were green;
    And now the winds of winter blow
    Round the turrets of the old chateau,
    The birds are silent and unseen,
    The leaves lie dead in the ravine,
    And the Pyrenees are white with snow.

    His father, lonely, old, and gray,
    Sits by the fireside day by day,
    Thinking ever one thought of care;
    Through the southern windows, narrow and tall,
    The sun shines into the ancient hall,
    And makes a glory round his hair.
    The house-dog, stretched beneath his chair,
    Groans in his sleep as if in pain
    Then wakes, and yawns, and sleeps again,
    So silent is it everywhere,--
    So silent you can hear the mouse
    Run and rummage along the beams
    Behind the wainscot of the wall;
    And the old man rouses from his dreams,
    And wanders restless through the house,
    As if he heard strange voices call.

    His footsteps echo along the floor
    Of a distant passage, and pause awhile;
    He is standing by an open door
    Looking long, with a sad, sweet smile,
    Into the room of his absent son.
    There is the bed on which he lay,
    There are the pictures bright and gay,
    Horses and hounds and sun-lit seas;
    There are his powder-flask and gun,
    And his hunting-knives in shape of a fan;
    The chair by the window where he sat,
    With the clouded tiger-skin for a mat,
    Looking out on the Pyrenees,
    Looking out on Mount Marbore
    And the Seven Valleys of Lavedan.
    Ah me! he turns away and sighs;
    There is a mist before his eyes.

    At night whatever the weather be,
    Wind or rain or starry heaven,
    Just as the clock is striking seven,
    Those who look from the windows see
    The village Curate, with lantern and maid,
    Come through the gateway from the park
    And cross the courtyard damp and dark,--
    A ring of light in a ring of shade.

    And now at the old man's side he stands,
    His voice is cheery, his heart expands,
    He gossips pleasantly, by the blaze
    Of the fire of fagots, about old days,
    And Cardinal Mazarin and the Fronde,
    And the Cardinal's nieces fair and fond,
    And what they did, and what they said,
    When they heard his Eminence was dead.

    And after a pause the old man says,
    His mind still coming back again
    To the one sad thought that haunts his brain,
    "Are there any tidings from over sea?
    Ah, why has that wild boy gone from me?"
    And the Curate answers, looking down,
    Harmless and docile as a lamb,
    "Young blood! young blood!    It must so be!"
    And draws from the pocket of his gown
    A handkerchief like an oriflamb,
    And wipes his spectacles, and they play
    Their little game of lansquenet
    In silence for an hour or so,
    Till the clock at nine strikes loud and clear
    From the village lying asleep below,
    And across the courtyard, into the dark
    Of the winding pathway in the park,
    Curate and lantern disappear,
    And darkness reigns in the old chateau.

    The ship has come back from over sea,
    She has been signalled from below,
    And into the harbor of Bordeaux
    She sails with her gallant company.
    But among them is nowhere seen
    The brave young Baron of St. Castine;
    He hath tarried behind, I ween,
    In the beautiful land of Acadie!

    And the father paces to and fro
    Through the chambers of the old chateau,
    Waiting, waiting to hear the hum
    Of wheels on the road that runs below,
    Of servants hurrying here and there,
    The voice in the courtyard, the step on the stair,
    Waiting for some one who doth not come!
    But letters there are, which the old man reads
    To the Curate, when he comes at night
    Word by word, as an acolyte
    Repeats his prayers and tells his beads;
    Letters full of the rolling sea,
    Full of a young man's joy to be
    Abroad in the world, alone and free;
    Full of adventures and wonderful scenes
    Of hunting the deer through forests vast
    In the royal grant of Pierre du Gast;
    Of nights in the tents of the Tarratines;
    Of Madocawando the Indian chief,
    And his daughters, glorious as queens,
    And beautiful beyond belief;
    And so soft the tones of their native tongue,
    The words are not spoken, they are sung!

    And the Curate listens, and smiling says:
    "Ah yes, dear friend! in our young days
    We should have liked to hunt the deer
    All day amid those forest scenes,
    And to sleep in the tents of the Tarratines;
    But now it is better sitting here
    Within four walls, and without the fear
    Of losing our hearts to Indian queens;
    For man is fire and woman is tow,
    And the Somebody comes and begins to blow."
    Then a gleam of distrust and vague surmise
    Shines in the father's gentle eyes,
    As fire-light on a window-pane
    Glimmers and vanishes again;
    But naught he answers; he only sighs,
    And for a moment bows his head;
    Then, as their custom is, they play
    Their little gain of lansquenet,
    And another day is with the dead.

    Another day, and many a day
    And many a week and month depart,
    When a fatal letter wings its way
    Across the sea, like a bird of prey,
    And strikes and tears the old man's heart.
    Lo! the young Baron of St. Castine,
    Swift as the wind is, and as wild,
    Has married a dusky Tarratine,
    Has married Madocawando's child!

    The letter drops from the father's hand;
    Though the sinews of his heart are wrung,
    He utters no cry, he breathes no prayer,
    No malediction falls from his tongue;
    But his stately figure, erect and grand,
    Bends and sinks like a column of sand
    In the whirlwind of his great despair.
    Dying, yes, dying!    His latest breath
    Of parley at the door of death
    Is a blessing on his wayward son.
    Lower and lower on his breast
    Sinks his gray head; he is at rest;
    No longer he waits for any one;

    For many a year the old chateau
    Lies tenantless and desolate;
    Rank grasses in the courtyard grow,
    About its gables caws the crow;
    Only the porter at the gate
    Is left to guard it, and to wait
    The coming of the rightful heir;
    No other life or sound is there;
    No more the Curate comes at night,
    No more is seen the unsteady light,
    Threading the alleys of the park;
    The windows of the hall are dark,
    The chambers dreary, cold, and bare!

    At length, at last, when the winter is past,
    And birds are building, and woods are green,
    With flying skirts is the Curate seen
    Speeding along the woodland way,
    Humming gayly, "No day is so long
    But it comes at last to vesper-song."
    He stops at the porter's lodge to say
    That at last the Baron of St. Castine
    Is coming home with his Indian queen,
    Is coming without a week's delay;
    And all the house must be swept and clean,
    And all things set in good array!
    And the solemn porter shakes his head;
    And the answer he makes is: "Lackaday!
    We will see, as the blind man said!"

    Alert since first the day began,
    The cock upon the village church
    Looks northward from his airy perch,
    As if beyond the ken of man
    To see the ships come sailing on,
    And pass the isle of Oleron,
    And pass the Tower of Cordouan.

    In the church below is cold in clay
    The heart that would have leaped for joy--
    O tender heart of truth and trust!--
    To see the coming of that day;
    In the church below the lips are dust;
    Dust are the hands, and dust the feet,
    That would have been so swift to meet
    The coming of that wayward boy.

    At night the front of the old chateau
    Is a blaze of light above and below;
    There's a sound of wheels and hoofs in the street,
    A cracking of whips, and scamper of feet,
    Bells are ringing, and horns are blown,
    And the Baron hath come again to his own.
    The Curate is waiting in the hall,
    Most eager and alive of all
    To welcome the Baron and Baroness;
    But his mind is full of vague distress,
    For he hath read in Jesuit books
    Of those children of the wilderness,
    And now, good, simple man! he looks
    To see a painted savage stride
    Into the room, with shoulders bare,
    And eagle feathers in her hair,
    And around her a robe of panther's hide.

    Instead, he beholds with secret shame
    A form of beauty undefined,
    A loveliness with out a name,
    Not of degree, but more of kind;
    Nor bold nor shy, nor short nor tall,
    But a new mingling of them all.
    Yes, beautiful beyond belief,
    Transfigured and transfused, he sees
    The lady of the Pyrenees,
    The daughter of the Indian chief.

    Beneath the shadow of her hair
    The gold-bronze color of the skin
    Seems lighted by a fire within,
    As when a burst of sunlight shines
    Beneath a sombre grove of pines,--
    A dusky splendor in the air.
    The two small hands, that now are pressed
    In his, seem made to be caressed,
    They lie so warm and soft and still,
    Like birds half hidden in a nest,
    Trustful, and innocent of ill.
    And ah! he cannot believe his ears
    When her melodious voice he hears
    Speaking his native Gascon tongue;
    The words she utters seem to be
    Part of some poem of Goudouli,
    They are not spoken, they are sung!
    And the Baron smiles, and says, "You see,
    I told you but the simple truth;
    Ah, you may trust the eyes of youth!"

    Down in the village day by day
    The people gossip in their way,
    And stare to see the Baroness pass
    On Sunday morning to early Mass;
    And when she kneeleth down to pray,
    They wonder, and whisper together, and say,
    "Surely this is no heathen lass!"
    And in course of time they learn to bless
    The Baron and the Baroness.

    And in course of time the Curate learns
    A secret so dreadful, that by turns
    He is ice and fire, he freezes and burns.
    The Baron at confession hath said,
    That though this woman be his wife,
    He bath wed her as the Indians wed,
    He hath bought her for a gun and a knife!
    And the Curate replies: "O profligate,
    O Prodigal Son! return once more
    To the open arms and the open door
    Of the Church, or ever it be too late.
    Thank God, thy father did not live
    To see what he could not forgive;
    On thee, so reckless and perverse,
    He left his blessing, not his curse.
    But the nearer the dawn the darker the night,
    And by going wrong all things come right;
    Things have been mended that were worse,
    And the worse, the nearer they are to mend.
    For the sake of the living and the dead,
    Thou shalt be wed as Christians wed,
    And all things come to a happy end."

    O sun, that followest the night,
    In yon blue sky, serene and pure,
    And pourest thine impartial light
    Alike on mountain and on moor,
    Pause for a moment in thy course,
    And bless the bridegroom and the bride!
    O Gave, that from thy hidden source
    In you mysterious mountain-side
    Pursuest thy wandering way alone,
    And leaping down its steps of stone,
    Along the meadow-lands demure
    Stealest away to the Adour,
    Pause for a moment in thy course
    To bless the bridegroom and the bride!

    The choir is singing the matin song,
    The doors of the church are opened wide,
    The people crowd, and press, and throng
    To see the bridegroom and the bride.
    They enter and pass along the nave;
    They stand upon the father's grave;
    The bells are ringing soft and slow;
    The living above and the dead below
    Give their blessing on one and twain;
    The warm wind blows from the hills of Spain,
    The birds are building, the leaves are green,
    And Baron Castine of St. Castine
    Hath come at last to his own again.


    "Nunc plaudite!" the Student cried,
    When he had finished; "now applaud,
    As Roman actors used to say
    At the conclusion of a play";
    And rose, and spread his hands abroad,
    And smiling bowed from side to side,
    As one who bears the palm away.
    And generous was the applause and loud,
    But less for him than for the sun,
    That even as the tale was done
    Burst from its canopy of cloud,
    And lit the landscape with the blaze
    Of afternoon on autumn days,
    And filled the room with light, and made
    The fire of logs a painted shade.

    A sudden wind from out the west
    Blew all its trumpets loud and shrill;
    The windows rattled with the blast,
    The oak-trees shouted as it passed,
    And straight, as if by fear possessed,
    The cloud encampment on the hill
    Broke up, and fluttering flag and tent
    Vanished into the firmament,
    And down the valley fled amain
    The rear of the retreating rain.

    Only far up in the blue sky
    A mass of clouds, like drifted snow
    Suffused with a faint Alpine glow,
    Was heaped together, vast and high,
    On which a shattered rainbow hung,
    Not rising like the ruined arch
    Of some aerial aqueduct,
    But like a roseate garland plucked
    From an Olympian god, and flung
    Aside in his triumphal march.

    Like prisoners from their dungeon gloom,
    Like birds escaping from a snare,
    Like school-boys at the hour of play,
    All left at once the pent-up room,
    And rushed into the open air;
    And no more tales were told that day.



    The evening came; the golden vane
    A moment in the sunset glanced,
    Then darkened, and then gleamed again,
    As from the east the moon advanced
    And touched it with a softer light;
    While underneath, with flowing mane,
    Upon the sign the Red Horse pranced,
    And galloped forth into the night.

    But brighter than the afternoon
    That followed the dark day of rain,
    And brighter than the golden vane
    That glistened in the rising moon,
    Within the ruddy fire-light gleamed;
    And every separate window-pane,
    Backed by the outer darkness, showed
    A mirror, where the flamelets gleamed
    And flickered to and fro, and seemed
    A bonfire lighted in the road.

    Amid the hospitable glow,
    Like an old actor on the stage,
    With the uncertain voice of age,
    The singing chimney chanted low
    The homely songs of long ago.

    The voice that Ossian heard of yore,
    When midnight winds were in his hall;
    A ghostly and appealing call,
    A sound of days that are no more!
    And dark as Ossian sat the Jew,
    And listened to the sound, and knew
    The passing of the airy hosts,
    The gray and misty cloud of ghosts
    In their interminable flight;
    And listening muttered in his beard,
    With accent indistinct and weird,
    "Who are ye, children of the Night?"

    Beholding his mysterious face,
    "Tell me," the gay Sicilian said,
    "Why was it that in breaking bread
    At supper, you bent down your head
    And, musing, paused a little space,
    As one who says a silent grace?"

    The Jew replied, with solemn air,
    "I said the Manichaean's prayer.
    It was his faith,--perhaps is mine,--
    That life in all its forms is one,
    And that its secret conduits run
    Unseen, but in unbroken line,
    From the great fountain-head divine
    Through man and beast, through grain and grass.
    Howe'er we struggle, strive, and cry,
    From death there can be no escape,
    And no escape from life, alas
    Because we cannot die, but pass
    From one into another shape:
    It is but into life we die.

    "Therefore the Manichaean said
    This simple prayer on breaking bread,
    Lest he with hasty hand or knife
    Might wound the incarcerated life,
    The soul in things that we call dead:
    'I did not reap thee, did not bind thee,
    I did not thrash thee, did not grind thee,
    Nor did I in the oven bake thee!
    It was not I, it was another
    Did these things unto thee, O brother;
    I only have thee, hold thee, break thee!'"

    "That birds have souls I can concede,"
    The poet cried, with glowing cheeks;
    "The flocks that from their beds of reed
    Uprising north or southward fly,
    And flying write upon the sky
    The biforked letter of the Greeks,
    As hath been said by Rucellai;
    All birds that sing or chirp or cry,
    Even those migratory bands,
    The minor poets of the air,
    The plover, peep, and sanderling,
    That hardly can be said to sing,
    But pipe along the barren sands,--
    All these have souls akin to ours;
    So hath the lovely race of flowers:
    Thus much I grant, but nothing more.
    The rusty hinges of a door
    Are not alive because they creak;
    This chimney, with its dreary roar,
    These rattling windows, do not speak!"
    "To me they speak," the Jew replied;
    "And in the sounds that sink and soar,
    I hear the voices of a tide
    That breaks upon an unknown shore!"

    Here the Sicilian interfered:
    "That was your dream, then, as you dozed
    A moment since, with eyes half-closed,
    And murmured something in your beard."

    The Hebrew smiled, and answered, "Nay;
    Not that, but something very near;
    Like, and yet not the same, may seem
    The vision of my waking dream;
    Before it wholly dies away,
    Listen to me, and you shall hear."



    King Solomon, before his palace gate
    At evening, on the pavement tessellate
    Was walking with a stranger from the East,
    Arrayed in rich attire as for a feast,
    The mighty Runjeet-Sing, a learned man,
    And Rajah of the realms of Hindostan.
    And as they walked the guest became aware
    Of a white figure in the twilight air,
    Gazing intent, as one who with surprise
    His form and features seemed to recognize;
    And in a whisper to the king he said:
    "What is yon shape, that, pallid as the dead,
    Is watching me, as if he sought to trace
    In the dim light the features of my face?"

    The king looked, and replied: "I know him well;
    It is the Angel men call Azrael,
    'T is the Death Angel; what hast thou to fear?"
    And the guest answered: "Lest he should come near,
    And speak to me, and take away my breath!
    Save me from Azrael, save me from death!
    O king, that hast dominion o'er the wind,
    Bid it arise and bear me hence to Ind."

    The king gazed upward at the cloudless sky,
    Whispered a word, and raised his hand on high,
    And lo! the signet-ring of chrysoprase
    On his uplifted finger seemed to blaze
    With hidden fire, and rushing from the west
    There came a mighty wind, and seized the guest
    And lifted him from earth, and on they passed,
    His shining garments streaming in the blast,
    A silken banner o'er the walls upreared,
    A purple cloud, that gleamed and disappeared.
    Then said the Angel, smiling: "If this man
    Be Rajah Runjeet-Sing of Hindostan,
    Thou hast done well in listening to his prayer;
    I was upon my way to seek him there."


    "O Edrehi, forbear to-night
    Your ghostly legends of affright,
    And let the Talmud rest in peace;
    Spare us your dismal tales of death
    That almost take away one's breath;
    So doing, may your tribe increase."

    Thus the Sicilian said; then went
    And on the spinet's rattling keys
    Played Marianina, like a breeze
    From Naples and the Southern seas,
    That brings us the delicious scent
    Of citron and of orange trees,
    And memories of soft days of ease
    At Capri and Amalfi spent.

    "Not so," the eager Poet said;
    "At least, not so before I tell
    The story of my Azrael,
    An angel mortal as ourselves,
    Which in an ancient tome I found
    Upon a convent's dusty shelves,
    Chained with an iron chain, and bound
    In parchment, and with clasps of brass,
    Lest from its prison, some dark day,
    It might be stolen or steal away,
    While the good friars were singing mass.

    "It is a tale of Charlemagne,
    When like a thunder-cloud, that lowers
    And sweeps from mountain-crest to coast,
    With lightning flaming through its showers,
    He swept across the Lombard plain,
    Beleaguering with his warlike train
    Pavia, the country's pride and boast,
    The City of the Hundred Towers."
    Thus heralded the tale began,
    And thus in sober measure ran.



    Olger the Dane and Desiderio,
    King of the Lombards, on a lofty tower
    Stood gazing northward o'er the rolling plains,
    League after league of harvests, to the foot
    Of the snow-crested Alps, and saw approach
    A mighty army, thronging all the roads
    That led into the city.    And the King
    Said unto Olger, who had passed his youth
    As hostage at the court of France, and knew
    The Emperor's form and face "Is Charlemagne
    Among that host?"    And Olger answered: "No."

    And still the innumerable multitude
    Flowed onward and increased, until the King
    Cried in amazement: "Surely Charlemagne
    Is coming in the midst of all these knights!"
    And Olger answered slowly: "No; not yet;
    He will not come so soon."    Then much disturbed
    King Desiderio asked: "What shall we do,
    if he approach with a still greater army!"
    And Olger answered: "When he shall appear,
    You will behold what manner of man he is;
    But what will then befall us I know not."

    Then came the guard that never knew repose,
    The Paladins of France; and at the sight
    The Lombard King o'ercome with terror cried:
    "This must be Charlemagne!" and as before
    Did Olger answer: "No; not yet, not yet."

    And then appeared in panoply complete
    The Bishops and the Abbots and the Priests
    Of the imperial chapel, and the Counts
    And Desiderio could no more endure
    The light of day, nor yet encounter death,
    But sobbed aloud and said: "Let us go down
    And hide us in the bosom of the earth,
    Far from the sight and anger of a foe
    So terrible as this!"    And Olger said:
    "When you behold the harvests in the fields
    Shaking with fear, the Po and the Ticino
    Lashing the city walls with iron waves,
    Then may you know that Charlemagne is come.
    And even as he spake, in the northwest,
    Lo! there uprose a black and threatening cloud,
    Out of whose bosom flashed the light of arms
    Upon the people pent up in the city;
    A light more terrible than any darkness;
    And Charlemagne appeared;--a Man of Iron!

    His helmet was of iron, and his gloves
    Of iron, and his breastplate and his greaves
    And tassets were of iron, and his shield.
    In his left hand he held an iron spear,
    In his right hand his sword invincible.
    The horse he rode on had the strength of iron,
    And color of iron.    All who went before him
    Beside him and behind him, his whole host,
    Were armed with iron, and their hearts within them
    Were stronger than the armor that they wore.
    The fields and all the roads were filled with iron,
    And points of iron glistened in the sun
    And shed a terror through the city streets.

    This at a single glance Olger the Dane
    Saw from the tower, and turning to the King
    Exclaimed in haste: "Behold! this is the man
    You looked for with such eagerness!" and then
    Fell as one dead at Desiderio's feet.


    Well pleased all listened to the tale,
    That drew, the Student said, its pith
    And marrow from the ancient myth
    Of some one with an iron flail;
    Or that portentous Man of Brass
    Hephaestus made in days of yore,
    Who stalked about the Cretan shore,
    And saw the ships appear and pass,
    And threw stones at the Argonauts,
    Being filled with indiscriminate ire
    That tangled and perplexed his thoughts;
    But, like a hospitable host,
    When strangers landed on the coast,
    Heated himself red-hot with fire,
    And hugged them in his arms, and pressed
    Their bodies to his burning breast.

    The Poet answered: "No, not thus
    The legend rose; it sprang at first
    Out of the hunger and the thirst
    In all men for the marvellous.
    And thus it filled and satisfied
    The imagination of mankind,
    And this ideal to the mind
    Was truer than historic fact.
    Fancy enlarged and multiplied
    The tenors of the awful name
    Of Charlemagne, till he became
    Armipotent in every act,
    And, clothed in mystery, appeared
    Not what men saw, but what they feared.
    Besides, unless my memory fail,
    Your some one with an iron flail
    Is not an ancient myth at all,
    But comes much later on the scene
    As Talus in the Faerie Queene,
    The iron groom of Artegall,
    Who threshed out falsehood and deceit,
    And truth upheld, and righted wrong,
    As was, as is the swallow, fleet,
    And as the lion is, was strong."

    The Theologian said: "Perchance
    Your chronicler in writing this
    Had in his mind the Anabasis,
    Where Xenophon describes the advance
    Of Artaxerxes to the fight;
    At first the low gray cloud of dust,
    And then a blackness o'er the fields
    As of a passing thunder-gust,
    Then flash of brazen armor bright,
    And ranks of men, and spears up-thrust,
    Bowmen and troops with wicker shields,
    And cavalry equipped in white,
    And chariots ranged in front of these
    With scythes upon their axle-trees."

    To this the Student answered: "Well,
    I also have a tale to tell
    Of Charlemagne; a tale that throws
    A softer light, more tinged with rose,
    Than your grim apparition cast
    Upon the darkness of the past.
    Listen, and hear in English rhyme
    What the good Monk of Lauresheim
    Gives as the gossip of his time,
    In mediaeval Latin prose."



    When Alcuin taught the sons of Charlemagne,
    In the free schools of Aix, how kings should reign,
    And with them taught the children of the poor
    How subjects should be patient and endure,
    He touched the lips of some, as best befit,
    With honey from the hives of Holy Writ;
    Others intoxicated with the wine
    Of ancient history, sweet but less divine;
    Some with the wholesome fruits of grammar fed;
    Others with mysteries of the stars o'er-head,
    That hang suspended in the vaulted sky
    Like lamps in some fair palace vast and high.

    In sooth, it was a pleasant sight to see
    That Saxon monk, with hood and rosary,
    With inkhorn at his belt, and pen and book,
    And mingled lore and reverence in his look,
    Or hear the cloister and the court repeat
    The measured footfalls of his sandaled feet,
    Or watch him with the pupils of his school,
    Gentle of speech, but absolute of rule.

    Among them, always earliest in his place.
    Was Eginhard, a youth of Frankish race,
    Whose face was bright with flashes that forerun
    The splendors of a yet unrisen sun.
    To him all things were possible, and seemed
    Not what he had accomplished, but had dreamed,
    And what were tasks to others were his play,
    The pastime of an idle holiday.

    Smaragdo, Abbot of St. Michael's, said,
    With many a shrug and shaking of the head,
    Surely some demon must possess the lad,
    Who showed more wit than ever schoolboy had,
    And learned his Trivium thus without the rod;
    But Alcuin said it was the grace of God.

    Thus he grew up, in Logic point-device,
    Perfect in Grammar, and in Rhetoric nice;
    Science of Numbers, Geometric art,
    And lore of Stars, and Music knew by heart;
    A Minnesinger, long before the times
    Of those who sang their love in Suabian rhymes.

    The Emperor, when he heard this good report
    Of Eginhard much buzzed about the court,
    Said to himself, "This stripling seems to be
    Purposely sent into the world for me;
    He shall become my scribe, and shall be schooled
    In all the arts whereby the world is ruled."
    Thus did the gentle Eginhard attain
    To honor in the court of Charlemagne;
    Became the sovereign's favorite, his right hand,
    So that his fame was great in all the land,
    And all men loved him for his modest grace
    And comeliness of figure and of face.
    An inmate of the palace, yet recluse,
    A man of books, yet sacred from abuse
    Among the armed knights with spur on heel,
    The tramp of horses and the clang of steel;
    And as the Emperor promised he was schooled
    In all the arts by which the world is ruled.
    But the one art supreme, whose law is fate,
    The Emperor never dreamed of till too late.

    Home from her convent to the palace came
    The lovely Princess Emma, whose sweet name,
    Whispered by seneschal or sung by bard,
    Had often touched the soul of Eginhard.
    He saw her from his window, as in state
    She came, by knights attended through the gate;
    He saw her at the banquet of that day,
    Fresh as the morn, and beautiful as May;
    He saw her in the garden, as she strayed
    Among the flowers of summer with her maid,
    And said to him, "O Eginhard, disclose
    The meaning and the mystery of the rose";
    And trembling he made answer: "In good sooth,
    Its mystery is love, its meaning youth!"

    How can I tell the signals and the signs
    By which one heart another heart divines?
    How can I tell the many thousand ways
    By which it keeps the secret it betrays?

    O mystery of love!    O strange romance!
    Among the Peers and Paladins of France,
    Shining in steel, and prancing on gay steeds,
    Noble by birth, yet nobler by great deeds,
    The Princess Emma had no words nor looks
    But for this clerk, this man of thought and books.

    The summer passed, the autumn came; the stalks
    Of lilies blackened in the garden walks;
    The leaves fell, russet-golden and blood-red,
    Love-letters thought the poet fancy-led,
    Or Jove descending in a shower of gold
    Into the lap of Danae of old;
    For poets cherish many a strange conceit,
    And love transmutes all nature by its heat.

    No more the garden lessons, nor the dark
    And hurried meetings in the twilight park;
    But now the studious lamp, and the delights
    Of firesides in the silent winter nights,
    And watching from his window hour by hour
    The light that burned in Princess Emma's tower.

    At length one night, while musing by the fire,
    O'ercome at last by his insane desire,--
    For what will reckless love not do and dare?--
    He crossed the court, and climbed the winding stair,
    With some feigned message in the Emperor's name;
    But when he to the lady's presence came
    He knelt down at her feet, until she laid
    Her hand upon him, like a naked blade,
    And whispered in his ear: "Arise, Sir Knight,
    To my heart's level, O my heart's delight."

    And there he lingered till the crowing cock,
    The Alectryon of the farmyard and the flock,
    Sang his aubade with lusty voice and clear,
    To tell the sleeping world that dawn was near.
    And then they parted; but at parting, lo!
    They saw the palace courtyard white with snow,
    And, placid as a nun, the moon on high
    Gazing from cloudy cloisters of the sky.
    "Alas!" he said, "how hide the fatal line
    Of footprints leading from thy door to mine,
    And none returning!"    Ah, he little knew
    What woman's wit, when put to proof, can do!

    That night the Emperor, sleepless with the cares
    And troubles that attend on state affairs,
    Had risen before the dawn, and musing gazed
    Into the silent night, as one amazed
    To see the calm that reigned o'er all supreme,
    When his own reign was but a troubled dream.
    The moon lit up the gables capped with snow,
    And the white roofs, and half the court below,
    And he beheld a form, that seemed to cower
    Beneath a burden, come from Emma's tower,--
    A woman, who upon her shoulders bore
    Clerk Eginhard to his own private door,
    And then returned in haste, but still essayed
    To tread the footprints she herself had made;
    And as she passed across the lighted space,
    The Emperor saw his daughter Emma's face!

    He started not; he did not speak or moan,
    But seemed as one who hath been turned to stone;
    And stood there like a statue, nor awoke
    Out of his trance of pain, till morning broke,
    Till the stars faded, and the moon went down,
    And o'er the towers and steeples of the town
    Came the gray daylight; then the sun, who took
    The empire of the world with sovereign look,
    Suffusing with a soft and golden glow
    All the dead landscape in its shroud of snow,
    Touching with flame the tapering chapel spires,
    Windows and roofs, and smoke of household fires,
    And kindling park and palace as he came;
    The stork's nest on the chimney seemed in flame.
    And thus he stood till Eginhard appeared,
    Demure and modest with his comely beard
    And flowing flaxen tresses, come to ask,
    As was his wont, the day's appointed task.

    The Emperor looked upon him with a smile,
    And gently said: "My son, wait yet awhile;
    This hour my council meets upon some great
    And very urgent business of the state.
    Come back within the hour.    On thy return
    The work appointed for thee shalt thou learn.

    Having dismissed this gallant Troubadour,
    He summoned straight his council, and secure
    And steadfast in his purpose, from the throne
    All the adventure of the night made known;
    Then asked for sentence; and with eager breath
    Some answered banishment, and others death.

    Then spake the king: "Your sentence is not mine;
    Life is the gift of God, and is divine;
    Nor from these palace walls shall one depart
    Who carries such a secret in his heart;
    My better judgment points another way.
    Good Alcuin, I remember how one day
    When my Pepino asked you, 'What are men?'
    You wrote upon his tablets with your pen,
    'Guests of the grave and travellers that pass!'
    This being true of all men, we, alas!
    Being all fashioned of the selfsame dust,
    Let us be merciful as well as just;
    This passing traveller, who hath stolen away
    The brightest jewel of my crown to-day,
    Shall of himself the precious gem restore;
    By giving it, I make it mine once more.
    Over those fatal footprints I will throw
    My ermine mantle like another snow."

    Then Eginhard was summoned to the hall,
    And entered, and in presence of them all,
    The Emperor said: "My son, for thou to me
    Hast been a son, and evermore shalt be,
    Long hast thou served thy sovereign, and thy zeal
    Pleads to me with importunate appeal,
    While I have been forgetful to requite
    Thy service and affection as was right.
    But now the hour is come, when I, thy Lord,
    Will crown thy love with such supreme reward,
    A gift so precious kings have striven in vain
    To win it from the hands of Charlemagne."

    Then sprang the portals of the chamber wide,
    And Princess Emma entered, in the pride
    Of birth and beauty, that in part o'er-came
    The conscious terror and the blush of shame.
    And the good Emperor rose up from his throne,
    And taking her white hand within his own
    Placed it in Eginhard's, and said: "My son
    This is the gift thy constant zeal hath won;
    Thus I repay the royal debt I owe,
    And cover up the footprints in the snow."


    Thus ran the Student's pleasant rhyme
    Of Eginhard and love and youth;
    Some doubted its historic truth,
    But while they doubted, ne'ertheless
    Saw in it gleams of truthfulness,
    And thanked the Monk of Lauresheim.

    This they discussed in various mood;
    Then in the silence that ensued
    Was heard a sharp and sudden sound
    As of a bowstring snapped in air;
    And the Musician with a bound
    Sprang up in terror from his chair,
    And for a moment listening stood,
    Then strode across the room, and found
    His dear, his darling violin
    Still lying safe asleep within
    Its little cradle, like a child
    That gives a sudden cry of pain,
    And wakes to fall asleep again;
    And as he looked at it and smiled,
    By the uncertain light beguiled,
    Despair! two strings were broken in twain.

    While all lamented and made moan,
    With many a sympathetic word
    As if the loss had been their own,
    Deeming the tones they might have heard
    Sweeter than they had heard before,
    They saw the Landlord at the door,
    The missing man, the portly Squire!
    He had not entered, but he stood
    With both arms full of seasoned wood,
    To feed the much-devouring fire,
    That like a lion in a cage
    Lashed its long tail and roared with rage.

    The missing man!    Ah, yes, they said,
    Missing, but whither had he fled?
    Where had he hidden himself away?
    No farther than the barn or shed;
    He had not hidden himself, nor fled;
    How should he pass the rainy day
    But in his barn with hens and hay,
    Or mending harness, cart, or sled?
    Now, having come, he needs must stay
    And tell his tale as well as they.

    The Landlord answered only: "These
    Are logs from the dead apple-trees
    Of the old orchard planted here
    By the first Howe of Sudbury.
    Nor oak nor maple has so clear
    A flame, or burns so quietly,
    Or leaves an ash so clean and white";
    Thinking by this to put aside
    The impending tale that terrified;
    When suddenly, to his delight,
    The Theologian interposed,
    Saying that when the door was closed,
    And they had stopped that draft of cold,
    Unpleasant night air, he proposed
    To tell a tale world-wide apart
    From that the Student had just told;
    World-wide apart, and yet akin,
    As showing that the human heart
    Beats on forever as of old,
    As well beneath the snow-white fold
    Of Quaker kerchief, as within
    Sendal or silk or cloth of gold,
    And without preface would begin.

    And then the clamorous clock struck eight,
    Deliberate, with sonorous chime
    Slow measuring out the march of time,
    Like some grave Consul of old Rome
    In Jupiter's temple driving home
    The nails that marked the year and date.
    Thus interrupted in his rhyme,
    The Theologian needs must wait;
    But quoted Horace, where he sings
    The dire Necessity of things,
    That drives into the roofs sublime
    Of new-built houses of the great
    The adamantine nails of Fate.

    When ceased the little carillon
    To herald from its wooden tower
    The important transit of the hour,
    The Theologian hastened on,
    Content to be all owed at last
    To sing his Idyl of the Past.




    "Ah, how short are the days!    How soon the night overtakes us!
    In the old country the twilight is longer; but here in the forest
    Suddenly comes the dark, with hardly a pause in its coming,
    Hardly a moment between the two lights, the day and the lamplight;
    Yet how grand is the winter!    How spotless the snow is, and perfect!"

        Thus spake Elizabeth Haddon at nightfall to Hannah the housemaid,
    As in the farm-house kitchen, that served for kitchen and parlor,
    By the window she sat with her work, and looked on a landscape
    White as the great white sheet that Peter saw in his vision,
    By the four corners let down and descending out of the heavens.
    Covered with snow were the forests of pine, and the fields and the meadows.
    Nothing was dark but the sky, and the distant Delaware flowing
    Down from its native hills, a peaceful and bountiful river.

        Then with a smile on her lips made answer Hannah the housemaid:
    "Beautiful winter! yea, the winter is beautiful, surely,
    If one could only walk like a fly with one's feet on the ceiling.
    But the great Delaware River is not like the Thames, as we saw it
    Out of our upper windows in Rotherhithe Street in the Borough,
    Crowded with masts and sails of vessels coming and going;
    Here there is nothing but pines, with patches of snow on their branches.
    There is snow in the air, and see! it is falling already;
    All the roads will be blocked, and I pity Joseph to-morrow,
    Breaking his way through the drifts, with his sled and oxen; and then, too,
    How in all the world shall we get to Meeting on First-Day?"

        But Elizabeth checked her, and answered, mildly reproving:
    "Surely the Lord will provide; for unto the snow he sayeth,
    Be thou on the earth, the good Lord sayeth; he is it
    Giveth snow like wool, like ashes scatters the hoar-frost."
    So she folded her work and laid it away in her basket.

        Meanwhile Hannah the housemaid had closed and fastened the shutters,
    Spread the cloth, and lighted the lamp on the table, and placed there
    Plates and cups from the dresser, the brown rye loaf, and the butter
    Fresh from the dairy, and then, protecting her hand with a holder,
    Took from the crane in the chimney the steaming and simmering kettle,
    Poised it aloft in the air, and filled up the earthen teapot,
    Made in Delft, and adorned with quaint and wonderful figures.

        Then Elizabeth said, "Lo! Joseph is long on his errand.
    I have sent him away with a hamper of food and of clothing
    For the poor in the village.    A good lad and cheerful is Joseph;
    In the right place is his heart, and his hand is ready and willing."

        Thus in praise of her servant she spake, and Hannah the housemaid
    Laughed with her eyes, as she listened, but governed her tongue, and was silent,
    While her mistress went on: "The house is far from the village;
    We should be lonely here, were it not for Friends that in passing
    Sometimes tarry o'ernight, and make us glad by their coming."

        Thereupon answered Hannah the housemaid, the thrifty, the frugal:
    "Yea, they come and they tarry, as if thy house were a tavern;
    Open to all are its doors, and they come and go like the pigeons
    In and out of the holes of the pigeon-house over the hayloft,
    Cooing and smoothing their feathers and basking themselves in the sunshine."

        But in meekness of spirit, and calmly, Elizabeth answered:
    "All I have is the Lord's, not mine to give or withhold it;
    I but distribute his gifts to the poor, and to those of his people
    Who in journeyings often surrender their lives to his service.
    His, not mine, are the gifts, and only so far can I make them
    Mine, as in giving I add my heart to whatever is given.
    Therefore my excellent father first built this house in the clearing;
    Though he came not himself, I came; for the Lord was my guidance,
    Leading me here for this service.    We must not grudge, then, to others
    Ever the cup of cold water, or crumbs that fall from our table."

        Thus rebuked, for a season was silent the penitent housemaid;
    And Elizabeth said in tones even sweeter and softer:
    "Dost thou remember, Hannah, the great May-Meeting in London,
    When I was still a child, how we sat in the silent assembly,
    Waiting upon the Lord in patient and passive submission?
    No one spake, till at length a young man, a stranger, John Estaugh,
    Moved by the Spirit, rose, as if he were John the Apostle,
    Speaking such words of power that they bowed our hearts, as a strong wind
    Bends the grass of the fields, or grain that is ripe for the sickle.
    Thoughts of him to-day have been oft borne inward upon me,
    Wherefore I do not know; but strong is the feeling within me
    That once more I shall see a face I have never forgotten."


    E'en as she spake they heard the musical jangle of sleigh-bells,
    First far off, with a dreamy sound and faint in the distance,
    Then growing nearer and louder, and turning into the farmyard,
    Till it stopped at the door, with sudden creaking of runners.
    Then there were voices heard as of two men talking together,
    And to herself, as she listened, upbraiding said Hannah the housemaid,
    "It is Joseph come back, and I wonder what stranger is with him?"

        Down from its nail she took and lighted the great tin lantern
    Pierced with holes, and round, and roofed like the top of a lighthouse,
    And went forth to receive the coming guest at the doorway,
    Casting into the dark a network of glimmer and shadow
    Over the falling snow, the yellow sleigh, and the horses,
    And the forms of men, snow-covered, looming gigantic.
    Then giving Joseph the lantern, she entered the house with the stranger.
    Youthful he was and tall, and his cheeks aglow with the night air;
    And as he entered, Elizabeth rose, and, going to meet him,
    As if an unseen power had announced and preceded his presence,
    And he had come as one whose coming had long been expected,
    Quietly gave him her hand, and said, "Thou art welcome, John Estaugh."
    And the stranger replied, with staid and quiet behavior,
    "Dost thou remember me still, Elizabeth?    After so many
    Years have passed, it seemeth a wonderful thing that I find thee.
    Surely the hand of the Lord conducted me here to thy threshold.
    For as I journeyed along, and pondered alone and in silence
    On his ways, that are past finding out, I saw in the snow-mist,
    Seemingly weary with travel, a wayfarer, who by the wayside
    Paused and waited.    Forthwith I remembered Queen Candace's eunuch,
    How on the way that goes down from Jerusalem unto Gaza,
    Reading Esaias the Prophet, he journeyed, and spake unto Philip,
    Praying him to come up and sit in his chariot with him.
    So I greeted the man, and he mounted the sledge beside me,
    And as we talked on the way he told me of thee and thy homestead,
    How, being led by the light of the Spirit, that never deceiveth,
    Full of zeal for the work of the Lord, thou hadst come to this country.
    And I remembered thy name, and thy father and mother in England,
    And on my journey have stopped to see thee, Elizabeth Haddon.
    Wishing to strengthen thy hand in the labors of love thou art doing."

        And Elizabeth answered with confident voice, and serenely
    Looking into his face with her innocent eyes as she answered,
    "Surely the hand of the Lord is in it; his Spirit hath led thee
    Out of the darkness and storm to the light and peace of my fireside."

        Then, with stamping of feet, the door was opened, and Joseph
    Entered, bearing the lantern, and, carefully blowing the light out,
    Rung it up on its nail, and all sat down to their supper;
    For underneath that roof was no distinction of persons,
    But one family only, one heart, one hearth and one household.

        When the supper was ended they drew their chairs to the fireplace,
    Spacious, open-hearted, profuse of flame and of firewood,
    Lord of forests unfelled, and not a gleaner of fagots,
    Spreading its arms to embrace with inexhaustible bounty
    All who fled from the cold, exultant, laughing at winter!
    Only Hannah the housemaid was busy in clearing the table,
    Coming and going, and hustling about in closet and chamber.

        Then Elizabeth told her story again to John Estaugh,
    Going far back to the past, to the early days of her childhood;
    How she had waited and watched, in all her doubts and besetments
    Comforted with the extendings and holy, sweet inflowings
    Of the spirit of love, till the voice imperative sounded,
    And she obeyed the voice, and cast in her lot with her people
    Here in the desert land, and God would provide for the issue.

        Meanwhile Joseph sat with folded hands, and demurely
    Listened, or seemed to listen, and in the silence that followed
    Nothing was heard for a while but the step of Hannah the housemaid
    Walking the floor overhead, and setting the chambers in order.
    And Elizabeth said, with a smile of compassion, "The maiden
    Hath a light heart in her breast, but her feet are heavy and awkward."
    Inwardly Joseph laughed, but governed his tongue, and was silent.

        Then came the hour of sleep, death's counterfeit, nightly rehearsal
    Of the great Silent Assembly, the Meeting of shadows, where no man
    Speaketh, but all are still, and the peace and rest are unbroken!
    Silently over that house the blessing of slumber descended.
    But when the morning dawned, and the sun uprose in his splendor,
    Breaking his way through clouds that encumbered his path in the heavens,
    Joseph was seen with his sled and oxen breaking a pathway
    Through the drifts of snow; the horses already were harnessed,
    And John Estaugh was standing and taking leave at the threshold,
    Saying that he should return at the Meeting in May; while above them
    Hannah the housemaid, the homely, was looking out of the attic,
    Laughing aloud at Joseph, then suddenly closing the casement,
    As the bird in a cuckoo-clock peeps out of its window,
    Then disappears again, and closes the shutter behind it.


    Now was the winter gone, and the snow; and Robin the Redbreast,
    Boasted on bush and tree it was he, it was he and no other
    That had covered with leaves the Babes in the Wood, and blithely
    All the birds sang with him, and little cared for his boasting,
    Or for his Babes in the Wood, or the Cruel Uncle, and only
    Sang for the mates they had chosen, and cared for the nests they were building.
    With them, but more sedately and meekly, Elizabeth Haddon
    Sang in her inmost heart, but her lips were silent and songless.
    Thus came the lovely spring with a rush of blossoms and music,
    Flooding the earth with flowers, and the air with melodies vernal.

        Then it came to pass, one pleasant morning, that slowly
    Up the road there came a cavalcade, as of pilgrims
    Men and women, wending their way to the Quarterly Meeting
    In the neighboring town; and with them came riding John Estaugh.
    At Elizabeth's door they stopped to rest, and alighting
    Tasted the currant wine, and the bread of rye, and the honey
    Brought from the hives, that stood by the sunny wall of the garden;
    Then remounted their horses, refreshed, and continued their journey,
    And Elizabeth with them, and Joseph, and Hannah the housemaid.
    But, as they started, Elizabeth lingered a little, and leaning
    Over her horse's neck, in a whisper said to John Estaugh
    "Tarry awhile behind, for I have something to tell thee,
    Not to be spoken lightly, nor in the presence of others;
    Them it concerneth not, only thee and me it concerneth."
    And they rode slowly along through the woods, conversing together.
    It was a pleasure to breathe the fragrant air of the forest;
    It was a pleasure to live on that bright and happy May morning!

        Then Elizabeth said, though still with a certain reluctance,
    As if impelled to reveal a secret she fain would have guarded:
    "I will no longer conceal what is laid upon me to tell thee;
    I have received from the Lord a charge to love thee, John Estaugh."

        And John Estaugh made answer, surprised by the words she had spoken,
    "Pleasant to me are thy converse, thy ways, thy meekness of spirit;
    Pleasant thy frankness of speech, and thy soul's immaculate whiteness,
    Love without dissimulation, a holy and inward adorning.
    But I have yet no light to lead me, no voice to direct me.
    When the Lord's work is done, and the toil and the labor completed
    He hath appointed to me, I will gather into the stillness
    Of my own heart awhile, and listen and wait for his guidance."

        Then Elizabeth said, not troubled nor wounded in spirit,
    "So is it best, John Estaugh.    We will not speak of it further.
    It hath been laid upon me to tell thee this, for to-morrow
    Thou art going away, across the sea, and I know not
    When I shall see thee more; but if the Lord hath decreed it,
    Thou wilt return again to seek me here and to find me."
    And they rode onward in silence, and entered the town with the others.


    Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
    Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
    So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
    Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

        Now went on as of old the quiet life of the homestead.
    Patient and unrepining Elizabeth labored, in all things
    Mindful not of herself, but bearing the burdens of others,
    Always thoughtful and kind and untroubled; and Hannah the housemaid
    Diligent early and late, and rosy with washing and scouring,
    Still as of old disparaged the eminent merits of Joseph,
    And was at times reproved for her light and frothy behavior,
    For her shy looks, and her careless words, and her evil surmisings,
    Being pressed down somewhat like a cart with sheaves overladen,
    As she would sometimes say to Joseph, quoting the Scriptures.

        Meanwhile John Estaugh departed across the sea, and departing
    Carried hid in his heart a secret sacred and precious,
    Filling its chambers with fragrance, and seeming to him in its sweetness
    Mary's ointment of spikenard, that filled all the house with its odor.
    O lost days of delight, that are wasted in doubting and waiting!
    O lost hours and days in which we might have been happy!
    But the light shone at last, and guided his wavering footsteps,
    And at last came the voice, imperative, questionless, certain.

        Then John Estaugh came back o'er the sea for the gift that was offered,
    Better than houses and lands, the gift of a woman's affection.
    And on the First-Day that followed, he rose in the Silent Assembly,
    Holding in his strong hand a hand that trembled a little,
    Promising to be kind and true and faithful in all things.
    Such were the marriage-rites of John and Elizabeth Estaugh.

        And not otherwise Joseph, the honest, the diligent servant,
    Sped in his bashful wooing with homely Hannah the housemaid;
    For when he asked her the question, she answered, "Nay"; and then added
    "But thee may make believe, and see what will come of it, Joseph."


    "A pleasant and a winsome tale,"
    The Student said, "though somewhat pale
    And quiet in its coloring,
    As if it caught its tone and air
    From the gray suits that Quakers wear;
    Yet worthy of some German bard,
    Hebel, or Voss, or Eberhard,
    Who love of humble themes to sing,
    In humble verse; but no more true
    Than was the tale I told to you."

    The Theologian made reply,
    And with some warmth, "That I deny;
    'T is no invention of my own,
    But something well and widely known
    To readers of a riper age,
    Writ by the skilful hand that wrote
    The Indian tale of Hobomok,
    And Philothea's classic page.
    I found it like a waif afloat
    Or dulse uprooted from its rock,
    On the swift tides that ebb and flow
    In daily papers, and at flood
    Bear freighted vessels to and fro,
    But later, when the ebb is low,
    Leave a long waste of sand and mud."

    "It matters little," quoth the Jew;
    "The cloak of truth is lined with lies,
    Sayeth some proverb old and wise;
    And Love is master of all arts,
    And puts it into human hearts
    The strangest things to say and do."

    And here the controversy closed
    Abruptly, ere 't was well begun;
    For the Sicilian interposed
    With, "Lordlings, listen, every one
    That listen may, unto a tale
    That's merrier than the nightingale;
    A tale that cannot boast, forsooth,
    A single rag or shred of truth;
    That does not leave the mind in doubt
    As to the with it or without;
    A naked falsehood and absurd
    As mortal ever told or heard.
    Therefore I tell it; or, maybe,
    Simply because it pleases me."



    Once on a time, some centuries ago,
        In the hot sunshine two Franciscan friars
    Wended their weary way with footsteps slow
        Back to their convent, whose white walls and spires
    Gleamed on the hillside like a patch of snow;
        Covered with dust they were, and torn by briers,
    And bore like sumpter-mules upon their backs
    The badge of poverty, their beggar's sacks.

    The first was Brother Anthony, a spare
        And silent man, with pallid cheeks and thin,
    Much given to vigils, penance, fasting, prayer,
        Solemn and gray, and worn with discipline,
    As if his body but white ashes were,
        Heaped on the living coals that glowed within;
    A simple monk, like many of his day,
    Whose instinct was to listen and obey.

    A different man was Brother Timothy,
        Of larger mould and of a coarser paste;
    A rubicund and stalwart monk was he,
        Broad in the shoulders, broader in the waist,
    Who often filled the dull refectory
        With noise by which the convent was disgraced,
    But to the mass-book gave but little heed,
    By reason he had never learned to read.

    Now, as they passed the outskirts of a wood,
        They saw, with mingled pleasure and surprise,
    Fast tethered to a tree an ass, that stood
        Lazily winking his large, limpid eyes.
    The farmer Gilbert of that neighborhood
        His owner was, who, looking for supplies
    Of fagots, deeper in the wood had strayed,
    Leaving his beast to ponder in the shade.

    As soon as Brother Timothy espied
        The patient animal, he said: "Good-lack!
    Thus for our needs doth Providence provide;
        We'll lay our wallets on the creature's back."
    This being done, he leisurely untied
        From head and neck the halter of the jack,
    And put it round his own, and to the tree
    Stood tethered fast as if the ass were he.

    And, bursting forth into a merry laugh,
        He cried to Brother Anthony: "Away!
    And drive the ass before you with your staff;
        And when you reach the convent you may say
    You left me at a farm, half tired and half
        Ill with a fever, for a night and day,
    And that the farmer lent this ass to bear
    Our wallets, that are heavy with good fare."

    Now Brother Anthony, who knew the pranks
        Of Brother Timothy, would not persuade
    Or reason with him on his quirks and cranks,
        But, being obedient, silently obeyed;
    And, smiting with his staff the ass's flanks,
        Drove him before him over hill and glade,
    Safe with his provend to the convent gate,
    Leaving poor Brother Timothy to his fate.

    Then Gilbert, laden with fagots for his fire,
        Forth issued from the wood, and stood aghast
    To see the ponderous body of the friar
        Standing where he had left his donkey last.
    Trembling he stood, and dared not venture nigher,
        But stared, and gaped, and crossed himself full fast;
    For, being credulous and of little wit,
    He thought it was some demon from the pit.

    While speechless and bewildered thus he gazed,
        And dropped his load of fagots on the ground,
    Quoth Brother Timothy: "Be not amazed
        That where you left a donkey should be found
    A poor Franciscan friar, half-starved and crazed,
        Standing demure and with a halter bound;
    But set me free, and hear the piteous story
    Of Brother Timothy of Casal-Maggiore.

    "I am a sinful man, although you see
        I wear the consecrated cowl and cape;
    You never owned an ass, but you owned me,
        Changed and transformed from my own natural shape
    All for the deadly sin of gluttony,
        From which I could not otherwise escape,
    Than by this penance, dieting on grass,
    And being worked and beaten as an ass.

    "Think of the ignominy I endured;
        Think of the miserable life I led,
    The toil and blows to which I was inured,
        My wretched lodging in a windy shed,
    My scanty fare so grudgingly procured,
        The damp and musty straw that formed my bed!
    But, having done this penance for my sins,
    My life as man and monk again begins."

    The simple Gilbert, hearing words like these,
        Was conscience-stricken, and fell down apace
    Before the friar upon his bended knees,
        And with a suppliant voice implored his grace;
    And the good monk, now very much at ease,
        Granted him pardon with a smiling face,
    Nor could refuse to be that night his guest,
    It being late, and he in need of rest.

    Upon a hillside, where the olive thrives,
        With figures painted on its white-washed walls,
    The cottage stood; and near the humming hives
        Made murmurs as of far-off waterfalls;
    A place where those who love secluded lives
        Might live content, and, free from noise and brawls,
    Like Claudian's Old Man of Verona here
    Measure by fruits the slow-revolving year.

    And, coming to this cottage of content
        They found his children, and the buxom wench
    His wife, Dame Cicely, and his father, bent
        With years and labor, seated on a bench,
    Repeating over some obscure event
        In the old wars of Milanese and French;
    All welcomed the Franciscan, with a sense
    Of sacred awe and humble reverence.

    When Gilbert told them what had come to pass,
        How beyond question, cavil, or surmise,
    Good Brother Timothy had been their ass,
        You should have seen the wonder in their eyes;
    You should have heard them cry, "Alas! alas!
        Have heard their lamentations and their sighs!
    For all believed the story, and began
    To see a saint in this afflicted man.

    Forthwith there was prepared a grand repast,
        To satisfy the craving of the friar
    After so rigid and prolonged a fast;
        The bustling housewife stirred the kitchen fire;
    Then her two barnyard fowls, her best and last,
        Were put to death, at her express desire,
    And served up with a salad in a bowl,
    And flasks of country wine to crown the whole.

    It would not be believed should I repeat
        How hungry Brother Timothy appeared;
    It was a pleasure but to see him eat,
        His white teeth flashing through his russet beard,
    His face aglow and flushed with wine and meat,
        His roguish eyes that rolled and laughed and leered!
    Lord! how he drank the blood-red country wine
    As if the village vintage were divine!

    And all the while he talked without surcease,
        And told his merry tales with jovial glee
    That never flagged, but rather did increase,
        And laughed aloud as if insane were he,
    And wagged his red beard, matted like a fleece,
        And cast such glances at Dame Cicely
    That Gilbert now grew angry with his guest,
    And thus in words his rising wrath expressed.

    "Good father," said he, "easily we see
        How needful in some persons, and how right,
    Mortification of the flesh may be.
        The indulgence you have given it to-night,
    After long penance, clearly proves to me
        Your strength against temptation is but slight,
    And shows the dreadful peril you are in
    Of a relapse into your deadly sin.

    "To-morrow morning, with the rising sun,
        Go back unto your convent, nor refrain
    From fasting and from scourging, for you run
        Great danger to become an ass again,
    Since monkish flesh and asinine are one;
        Therefore be wise, nor longer here remain,
    Unless you wish the scourge should be applied
    By other hands, that will not spare your hide."

    When this the monk had heard, his color fled
        And then returned, like lightning in the air,
    Till he was all one blush from foot to head,
        And even the bald spot in his russet hair
    Turned from its usual pallor to bright red!
        The old man was asleep upon his chair.
    Then all retired, and sank into the deep
    And helpless imbecility of sleep.

    They slept until the dawn of day drew near,
        Till the cock should have crowed, but did not crow,
    For they had slain the shining chanticleer
        And eaten him for supper, as you know.
    The monk was up betimes and of good cheer,
        And, having breakfasted, made haste to go,
    As if he heard the distant matin bell,
    And had but little time to say farewell.

    Fresh was the morning as the breath of kine;
        Odors of herbs commingled with the sweet
    Balsamic exhalations of the pine;
        A haze was in the air presaging heat;
    Uprose the sun above the Apennine,
        And all the misty valleys at its feet
    Were full of the delirious song of birds,
    Voices of men, and bells, and low of herds.

    All this to Brother Timothy was naught;
        He did not care for scenery, nor here
    His busy fancy found the thing it sought;
        But when he saw the convent walls appear,
    And smoke from kitchen chimneys upward caught
        And whirled aloft into the atmosphere,
    He quickened his slow footsteps, like a beast
    That scents the stable a league off at least.

    And as he entered though the convent gate
        He saw there in the court the ass, who stood
    Twirling his ears about, and seemed to wait,
        Just as he found him waiting in the wood;
    And told the Prior that, to alleviate
        The daily labors of the brotherhood,
    The owner, being a man of means and thrift,
    Bestowed him on the convent as a gift.

    And thereupon the Prior for many days
        Revolved this serious matter in his mind,
    And turned it over many different ways,
        Hoping that some safe issue he might find;
    But stood in fear of what the world would say,
        If he accepted presents of this kind,
    Employing beasts of burden for the packs,
    That lazy monks should carry on their backs.

    Then, to avoid all scandal of the sort,
        And stop the mouth of cavil, he decreed
    That he would cut the tedious matter short,
        And sell the ass with all convenient speed,
    Thus saving the expense of his support,
        And hoarding something for a time of need.
    So he despatched him to the neighboring Fair,
    And freed himself from cumber and from care.

    It happened now by chance, as some might say,
        Others perhaps would call it destiny,
    Gilbert was at the Fair; and heard a bray,
        And nearer came, and saw that it was he,
    And whispered in his ear, "Ah, lackaday!
        Good father, the rebellious flesh, I see,
    Has changed you back into an ass again,
    And all my admonitions were in vain."

    The ass, who felt this breathing in his ear,
        Did not turn round to look, but shook his head,
    As if he were not pleased these words to hear,
        And contradicted all that had been said.
    And this made Gilbert cry in voice more clear,
        "I know you well; your hair is russet-red;
    Do not deny it; for you are the same
    Franciscan friar, and Timothy by name."

    The ass, though now the secret had come out,
        Was obstinate, and shook his head again;
    Until a crowd was gathered round about
        To hear this dialogue between the twain;
    And raised their voices in a noisy shout
        When Gilbert tried to make the matter plain,
    And flouted him and mocked him all day long
    With laughter and with jibes and scraps of song.

    "If this be Brother Timothy," they cried,
        "Buy him, and feed him on the tenderest grass;
    Thou canst not do too much for one so tried
        As to be twice transformed into an ass."
    So simple Gilbert bought him, and untied
        His halter, and o'er mountain and morass
    He led him homeward, talking as he went
    Of good behavior and a mind content.

    The children saw them coming, and advanced,
        Shouting with joy, and hung about his neck,--
    Not Gilbert's, but the ass's,--round him danced,
        And wove green garlands where-withal to deck
    His sacred person; for again it chanced
        Their childish feelings, without rein or check,
    Could not discriminate in any way
    A donkey from a friar of Orders Gray.

    "O Brother Timothy," the children said,
        "You have come back to us just as before;
    We were afraid, and thought that you were dead,
        And we should never see you any more."
    And then they kissed the white star on his head,
        That like a birth-mark or a badge he wore,
    And patted him upon the neck and face,
    And said a thousand things with childish grace.

    Thenceforward and forever he was known
        As Brother Timothy, and led alway
    A life of luxury, till he had grown
        Ungrateful being stuffed with corn and hay,
    And very vicious.    Then in angry tone,
        Rousing himself, poor Gilbert said one day
    "When simple kindness is misunderstood
    A little flagellation may do good."

    His many vices need not here be told;
        Among them was a habit that he had
    Of flinging up his heels at young and old,
        Breaking his halter, running off like mad
    O'er pasture-lands and meadow, wood and wold,
        And other misdemeanors quite as bad;
    But worst of all was breaking from his shed
    At night, and ravaging the cabbage-bed.

    So Brother Timothy went back once more
        To his old life of labor and distress;
    Was beaten worse than he had been before.
        And now, instead of comfort and caress,
    Came labors manifold and trials sore;
        And as his toils increased his food grew less,
    Until at last the great consoler, Death,
    Ended his many sufferings with his breath.

    Great was the lamentation when he died;
        And mainly that he died impenitent;
    Dame Cicely bewailed, the children cried,
        The old man still remembered the event
    In the French war, and Gilbert magnified
        His many virtues, as he came and went,
    And said: "Heaven pardon Brother Timothy,
    And keep us from the sin of gluttony."


    "Signor Luigi," said the Jew,
    When the Sicilian's tale was told,
    "The were-wolf is a legend old,
    But the were-ass is something new,
    And yet for one I think it true.
    The days of wonder have not ceased
    If there are beasts in forms of men,
    As sure it happens now and then,
    Why may not man become a beast,
    In way of punishment at least?

    "But this I will not now discuss,
    I leave the theme, that we may thus
    Remain within the realm of song.
    The story that I told before,
    Though not acceptable to all,
    At least you did not find too long.
    I beg you, let me try again,
    With something in a different vein,
    Before you bid the curtain fall.
    Meanwhile keep watch upon the door,
    Nor let the Landlord leave his chair,
    Lest he should vanish into air,
    And thus elude our search once more."

    Thus saying, from his lips he blew
    A little cloud of perfumed breath,
    And then, as if it were a clew
    To lead his footsteps safely through,
    Began his tale as followeth.



    The battle is fought and won
    By King Ladislaus the Hun,
    In fire of hell and death's frost,
    On the day of Pentecost.
    And in rout before his path
    From the field of battle red
    Flee all that are not dead
    Of the army of Amurath.

    In the darkness of the night
    Iskander, the pride and boast
    Of that mighty Othman host,
    With his routed Turks, takes flight
    From the battle fought and lost
    On the day of Pentecost;
    Leaving behind him dead
    The army of Amurath,
    The vanguard as it led,
    The rearguard as it fled,
    Mown down in the bloody swath
    Of the battle's aftermath.

    But he cared not for Hospodars,
    Nor for Baron or Voivode,
    As on through the night he rode
    And gazed at the fateful stars,
    That were shining overhead
    But smote his steed with his staff,
    And smiled to himself, and said;
    "This is the time to laugh."

    In the middle of the night,
    In a halt of the hurrying flight,
    There came a Scribe of the King
    Wearing his signet ring,
    And said in a voice severe:
    "This is the first dark blot
    On thy name, George Castriot!
    Alas why art thou here,
    And the army of Amurath slain,
    And left on the battle plain?"

    And Iskander answered and said:
    "They lie on the bloody sod
    By the hoofs of horses trod;
    But this was the decree
    Of the watchers overhead;
    For the war belongeth to God,
    And in battle who are we,
    Who are we, that shall withstand
    The wind of his lifted hand?"

    Then he bade them bind with chains
    This man of books and brains;
    And the Scribe said: "What misdeed
    Have I done, that, without need,
    Thou doest to me this thing?"
    And Iskander answering
    Said unto him: "Not one
    Misdeed to me hast thou done;
    But for fear that thou shouldst run
    And hide thyself from me,
    Have I done this unto thee.

    "Now write me a writing, O Scribe,
    And a blessing be on thy tribe!
    A writing sealed with thy ring,
    To King Amurath's Pasha
    In the city of Croia,
    The city moated and walled,
    That he surrender the same
    In the name of my master, the King;
    For what is writ in his name
    Can never be recalled."

    And the Scribe bowed low in dread,
    And unto Iskander said:
    "Allah is great and just,
    But we are as ashes and dust;
    How shall I do this thing,
    When I know that my guilty head
    Will be forfeit to the King?"

    Then swift as a shooting star
    The curved and shining blade
    Of Iskander's scimetar
    From its sheath, with jewels bright,
    Shot, as he thundered: "Write!"
    And the trembling Scribe obeyed,
    And wrote in the fitful glare
    Of the bivouac fire apart,
    With the chill of the midnight air
    On his forehead white and bare,
    And the chill of death in his heart.

    Then again Iskander cried:
    "Now follow whither I ride,
    For here thou must not stay.
    Thou shalt be as my dearest friend,
    And honors without end
    Shall surround thee on every side,
    And attend thee night and day."
    But the sullen Scribe replied
    "Our pathways here divide;
    Mine leadeth not thy way."

    And even as he spoke
    Fell a sudden scimetar-stroke,
    When no one else was near;
    And the Scribe sank to the ground,
    As a stone, pushed from the brink
    Of a black pool, might sink
    With a sob and disappear;
    And no one saw the deed;
    And in the stillness around
    No sound was heard but the sound
    Of the hoofs of Iskander's steed,
    As forward he sprang with a bound.

    Then onward he rode and afar,
    With scarce three hundred men,
    Through river and forest and fen,
    O'er the mountains of Argentar;
    And his heart was merry within,
    When he crossed the river Drin,
    And saw in the gleam of the morn
    The White Castle Ak-Hissar,
    The city Croia called,
    The city moated and walled,
    The city where he was born,--
    And above it the morning star.

    Then his trumpeters in the van
    On their silver bugles blew,
    And in crowds about him ran
    Albanian and Turkoman,
    That the sound together drew.
    And he feasted with his friends,
    And when they were warm with wine,
    He said: "O friends of mine,
    Behold what fortune sends,
    And what the fates design!
    King Amurath commands
    That my father's wide domain,
    This city and all its lands,
    Shall be given to me again."

    Then to the Castle White
    He rode in regal state,
    And entered in at the gate
    In all his arms bedight,
    And gave to the Pasha
    Who ruled in Croia
    The writing of the King,
    Sealed with his signet ring.
    And the Pasha bowed his head,
    And after a silence said:
    "Allah is just and great!
    I yield to the will divine,
    The city and lands are thine;
    Who shall contend with fate?"

    Anon from the castle walls
    The crescent banner falls,
    And the crowd beholds instead,
    Like a portent in the sky,
    Iskander's banner fly,
    The Black Eagle with double head;
    And a shout ascends on high,
    For men's souls are tired of the Turks,
    And their wicked ways and works,
    That have made of Ak-Hissar
    A city of the plague;
    And the loud, exultant cry
    That echoes wide and far
    Is: "Long live Scanderbeg!"

    It was thus Iskander came
    Once more unto his own;
    And the tidings, like the flame
    Of a conflagration blown
    By the winds of summer, ran,
    Till the land was in a blaze,
    And the cities far and near,
    Sayeth Ben Joshua Ben Meir,
    In his Book of the Words of the Days,
    "Were taken as a man
    Would take the tip of his ear."


    "Now that is after my own heart,"
    The Poet cried; "one understands
    Your swarthy hero Scanderbeg,
    Gauntlet on hand and boot on leg,
    And skilled in every warlike art,
    Riding through his Albanian lands,
    And following the auspicious star
    That shone for him o'er Ak-Hissar."

    The Theologian added here
    His word of praise not less sincere,
    Although he ended with a jibe;
    "The hero of romance and song
    Was born," he said, "to right the wrong;
    And I approve; but all the same
    That bit of treason with the Scribe
    Adds nothing to your hero's fame."

    The Student praised the good old times
    And liked the canter of the rhymes,
    That had a hoofbeat in their sound;
    But longed some further word to hear
    Of the old chronicler Ben Meir,
    And where his volume might he found.
    The tall Musician walked the room
    With folded arms and gleaming eyes,
    As if he saw the Vikings rise,
    Gigantic shadows in the gloom;
    And much he talked of their emprise,
    And meteors seen in Northern skies,
    And Heimdal's horn, and day of doom
    But the Sicilian laughed again;
    "This is the time to laugh," he said,
    For the whole story he well knew
    Was an invention of the Jew,
    Spun from the cobwebs in his brain,
    And of the same bright scarlet thread
    As was the Tale of Kambalu.

    Only the Landlord spake no word;
    'T was doubtful whether he had heard
    The tale at all, so full of care
    Was he of his impending fate,
    That, like the sword of Damocles,
    Above his head hung blank and bare,
    Suspended by a single hair,
    So that he could not sit at ease,
    But sighed and looked disconsolate,
    And shifted restless in his chair,
    Revolving how he might evade
    The blow of the descending blade.

    The Student came to his relief
    By saying in his easy way
    To the Musician: "Calm your grief,
    My fair Apollo of the North,
    Balder the Beautiful and so forth;
    Although your magic lyre or lute
    With broken strings is lying mute,
    Still you can tell some doleful tale
    Of shipwreck in a midnight gale,
    Or something of the kind to suit
    The mood that we are in to-night
    For what is marvellous and strange;
    So give your nimble fancy range,
    And we will follow in its flight."

    But the Musician shook his head;
    "No tale I tell to-night," he said,
    "While my poor instrument lies there,
    Even as a child with vacant stare
    Lies in its little coffin dead."

    Yet, being urged, he said at last:
    "There comes to me out of the Past
    A voice, whose tones are sweet and wild,
    Singing a song almost divine,
    And with a tear in every line;
    An ancient ballad, that my nurse
    Sang to me when I was a child,
    In accents tender as the verse;
    And sometimes wept, and sometimes smiled
    While singing it, to see arise
    The look of wonder in my eyes,
    And feel my heart with tenor beat.
    This simple ballad I retain
    Clearly imprinted on my brain,
    And as a tale will now repeat"



    Svend Dyring he rideth adown the glade;
         I myself was young!
    There he hath wooed him so winsome a maid;
         Fair words gladden so many a heart.

    Together were they for seven years,
    And together children six were theirs.

    Then came Death abroad through the land,
    And blighted the beautiful lily-wand.

    Svend Dyring he rideth adown the glade,
    And again hath he wooed him another maid,

    He hath wooed him a maid and brought home a bride,
    But she was bitter and full of pride.

    When she came driving into the yard,
    There stood the six children weeping so hard.

    There stood the small children with sorrowful heart;
    From before her feet she thrust them apart.

    She gave to them neither ale nor bread;
    "Ye shall suffer hunger and hate," she said.

    She took from them their quilts of blue,
    And said: "Ye shall lie on the straw we strew."

    She took from them the great waxlight;
    "Now ye shall lie in the dark at night."

    In the evening late they cried with cold;
    The mother heard it under the mould.

    The woman heard it the earth below:
    "To my little children I must go."

    She standeth before the Lord of all:
    "And may I go to my children small?"

    She prayed him so long, and would not cease,
    Until he bade her depart in peace.

    "At cock-crow thou shalt return again;
    Longer thou shalt not there remain!"

    She girded up her sorrowful bones,
    And rifted the walls and the marble stones.

    As through the village she flitted by,
    The watch-dogs howled aloud to the sky.

    When she came to the castle gate,
    There stood her eldest daughter in wait.

    "Why standest thou here, dear daughter mine?
    How fares it with brothers and sisters thine?"

    "Never art thou mother of mine,
    For my mother was both fair and fine.

    "My mother was white, with cheeks of red,
    But thou art pale, and like to the dead."

    "How should I be fair and fine?
    I have been dead; pale cheeks are mine.

    "How should I be white and red,
    So long, so long have I been dead?"

    When she came in at the chamber door,
    There stood the small children weeping sore.

    One she braided, another she brushed,
    The third she lifted, the fourth she hushed.

    The fifth she took on her lap and pressed,
    As if she would suckle it at her breast.

    Then to her eldest daughter said she,
    "Do thou bid Svend Dyring come hither to me."

    Into the chamber when he came
    She spake to him in anger and shame.

    "I left behind me both ale and bread;
    My children hunger and are not fed.

    "I left behind me quilts of blue;
    My children lie on the straw ye strew.

    "I left behind me the great waxlight;
    My children lie in the dark at night.

    "If I come again unto your hall,
    As cruel a fate shall you befall!

    "Now crows the cock with feathers red;
    Back to the earth must all the dead.

    "Now crows the cock with feathers swart;
    The gates of heaven fly wide apart.

    "Now crows the cock with feathers white;
    I can abide no longer to-night."

    Whenever they heard the watch-dogs wail,
    They gave the children bread and ale.

    Whenever they heard the watch-dogs bay,
    They feared lest the dead were on their way.

    Whenever they heard the watch-dogs bark;
         I myself was young!
    They feared the dead out there in the dark.
         Fair words gladden so many a heart.


    Touched by the pathos of these rhymes,
    The Theologian said: "All praise
    Be to the ballads of old times
    And to the bards of simple ways,
    Who walked with Nature hand in hand,
    Whose country was their Holy Land,
    Whose singing robes were homespun brown
    From looms of their own native town,
    Which they were not ashamed to wear,
    And not of silk or sendal gay,
    Nor decked with fanciful array
    Of cockle-shells from Outre-Mer."

    To whom the Student answered: "Yes;
    All praise and honor!    I confess
    That bread and ale, home-baked, home-brewed,
    Are wholesome and nutritious food,
    But not enough for all our needs;
    Poets--the best of them--are birds
    Of passage; where their instinct leads
    They range abroad for thoughts and words,
    And from all climes bring home the seeds
    That germinate in flowers or weeds.
    They are not fowls in barnyards born
    To cackle o'er a grain of corn;
    And, if you shut the horizon down
    To the small limits of their town,
    What do you but degrade your bard
    Till he at last becomes as one
    Who thinks the all-encircling sun
    Rises and sets in his back yard?"

    The Theologian said again:
    "It may be so; yet I maintain
    That what is native still is best,
    And little care I for the rest.
    'T is a long story; time would fail
    To tell it, and the hour is late;
    We will not waste it in debate,
    But listen to our Landlord's tale."

    And thus the sword of Damocles
    Descending not by slow degrees,
    But suddenly, on the Landlord fell,
    Who blushing, and with much demur
    And many vain apologies,
    Plucking up heart, began to tell
    The Rhyme of one Sir Christopher.



    It was Sir Christopher Gardiner,
    Knight of the Holy Sepulchre,
    From Merry England over the sea,
    Who stepped upon this continent
    As if his august presence lent
    A glory to the colony.

    You should have seen him in the street
    Of the little Boston of Winthrop's time,
    His rapier dangling at his feet
    Doublet and hose and boots complete,
    Prince Rupert hat with ostrich plume,
    Gloves that exhaled a faint perfume,
    Luxuriant curls and air sublime,
    And superior manners now obsolete!

    He had a way of saying things
    That made one think of courts and kings,
    And lords and ladies of high degree;
    So that not having been at court
    Seemed something very little short
    Of treason or lese-majesty,
    Such an accomplished knight was he.

    His dwelling was just beyond the town,
    At what he called his country-seat;
    For, careless of Fortune's smile or frown,
    And weary grown of the world and its ways,
    He wished to pass the rest of his days
    In a private life and a calm retreat.

    But a double life was the life he led,
    And, while professing to be in search
    Of a godly course, and willing, he said,
    Nay, anxious to join the Puritan church,
    He made of all this but small account,
    And passed his idle hours instead
    With roystering Morton of Merry Mount,
    That pettifogger from Furnival's Inn,
    Lord of misrule and riot and sin,
    Who looked on the wine when it was red.

    This country-seat was little more
    Than a cabin of log's; but in front of the door
    A modest flower-bed thickly sown
    With sweet alyssum and columbine
    Made those who saw it at once divine
    The touch of some other hand than his own.
    And first it was whispered, and then it was known,
    That he in secret was harboring there
    A little lady with golden hair,
    Whom he called his cousin, but whom he had wed
    In the Italian manner, as men said,
    And great was the scandal everywhere.

    But worse than this was the vague surmise,
    Though none could vouch for it or aver,
    That the Knight of the Holy Sepulchre
    Was only a Papist in disguise;
    And the more to imbitter their bitter lives,
    And the more to trouble the public mind,
    Came letters from England, from two other wives,
    Whom he had carelessly left behind;
    Both of them letters of such a kind
    As made the governor hold his breath;
    The one imploring him straight to send
    The husband home, that he might amend;
    The other asking his instant death,
    As the only way to make an end.

    The wary governor deemed it right,
    When all this wickedness was revealed,
    To send his warrant signed and sealed,
    And take the body of the knight.
    Armed with this mighty instrument,
    The marshal, mounting his gallant steed,
    Rode forth from town at the top of his speed,
    And followed by all his bailiffs bold,
    As if on high achievement bent,
    To storm some castle or stronghold,
    Challenge the warders on the wall,
    And seize in his ancestral hall
    A robber-baron grim and old.

    But when though all the dust and heat
    He came to Sir Christopher's country-seat,
    No knight he found, nor warder there,
    But the little lady with golden hair,
    Who was gathering in the bright sunshine
    The sweet alyssum and columbine;
    While gallant Sir Christopher, all so gay,
    Being forewarned, through the postern gate
    Of his castle wall had tripped away,
    And was keeping a little holiday
    In the forests, that bounded his estate.

    Then as a trusty squire and true
    The marshal searched the castle through,
    Not crediting what the lady said;
    Searched from cellar to garret in vain,
    And, finding no knight, came out again
    And arrested the golden damsel instead,
    And bore her in triumph into the town,
    While from her eyes the tears rolled down
    On the sweet alyssum and columbine,
    That she held in her fingers white and fine.

    The governor's heart was moved to see
    So fair a creature caught within
    The snares of Satan and of sin,
    And he read her a little homily
    On the folly and wickedness of the lives
    Of women, half cousins and half wives;
    But, seeing that naught his words availed,
    He sent her away in a ship that sailed
    For Merry England over the sea,
    To the other two wives in the old countree,
    To search her further, since he had failed
    To come at the heart of the mystery.

    Meanwhile Sir Christopher wandered away
    Through pathless woods for a month and a day,
    Shooting pigeons, and sleeping at night
    With the noble savage, who took delight
    In his feathered hat and his velvet vest,
    His gun and his rapier and the rest.
    But as soon as the noble savage heard
    That a bounty was offered for this gay bird,
    He wanted to slay him out of hand,
    And bring in his beautiful scalp for a show,
    Like the glossy head of a kite or crow,
    Until he was made to understand
    They wanted the bird alive, not dead;
    Then he followed him whithersoever he fled,
    Through forest and field, and hunted him down,
    And brought him prisoner into the town.

    Alas! it was a rueful sight,
    To see this melancholy knight
    In such a dismal and hapless case;
    His hat deformed by stain and dent,
    His plumage broken, his doublet rent,
    His beard and flowing locks forlorn,
    Matted, dishevelled, and unshorn,
    His boots with dust and mire besprent;
    But dignified in his disgrace,
    And wearing an unblushing face.
    And thus before the magistrate
    He stood to hear the doom of fate.
    In vain he strove with wonted ease
    To modify and extenuate
    His evil deeds in church and state,
    For gone was now his power to please;
    And his pompous words had no more weight
    Than feathers flying in the breeze.

    With suavity equal to his own
    The governor lent a patient ear
    To the speech evasive and highflown,
    In which he endeavored to make clear
    That colonial laws were too severe
    When applied to a gallant cavalier,
    A gentleman born, and so well known,
    And accustomed to move in a higher sphere.

    All this the Puritan governor heard,
    And deigned in answer never a word;
    But in summary manner shipped away,
    In a vessel that sailed from Salem bay,
    This splendid and famous cavalier,
    With his Rupert hat and his popery,
    To Merry England over the sea,
    As being unmeet to inhabit here.

    Thus endeth the Rhyme of Sir Christopher,
    Knight of the Holy Sepulchre,
    The first who furnished this barren land
    With apples of Sodom and ropes of sand.


    These are the tales those merry guests
    Told to each other, well or ill;
    Like summer birds that lift their crests
    Above the borders of their nests
    And twitter, and again are still.

    These are the tales, or new or old,
    In idle moments idly told;
    Flowers of the field with petals thin,
    Lilies that neither toil nor spin,
    And tufts of wayside weeds and gorse
    Hung in the parlor of the inn
    Beneath the sign of the Red Horse.

    And still, reluctant to retire,
    The friends sat talking by the fire
    And watched the smouldering embers burn
    To ashes, and flash up again
    Into a momentary glow,
    Lingering like them when forced to go,
    And going when they would remain;
    For on the morrow they must turn
    Their faces homeward, and the pain
    Of parting touched with its unrest
    A tender nerve in every breast.

    But sleep at last the victory won;
    They must be stirring with the sun,
    And drowsily good night they said,
    And went still gossiping to bed,
    And left the parlor wrapped in gloom.
    The only live thing in the room
    Was the old clock, that in its pace
    Kept time with the revolving spheres
    And constellations in their flight,
    And struck with its uplifted mace
    The dark, unconscious hours of night,
    To senseless and unlistening ears.

    Uprose the sun; and every guest,
    Uprisen, was soon equipped and dressed
    For journeying home and city-ward;
    The old stage-coach was at the door,
    With horses harnessed, long before
    The sunshine reached the withered sward
    Beneath the oaks, whose branches hoar
    Murmured: "Farewell forevermore."

    "Farewell!" the portly Landlord cried;
    "Farewell!" the parting guests replied,
    But little thought that nevermore
    Their feet would pass that threshold o'er;
    That nevermore together there
    Would they assemble, free from care,
    To hear the oaks' mysterious roar,
    And breathe the wholesome country air.

    Where are they now?    What lands and skies
    Paint pictures in their friendly eyes?
    What hope deludes, what promise cheers,
    What pleasant voices fill their ears?
    Two are beyond the salt sea waves,
    And three already in their graves.
    Perchance the living still may look
    Into the pages of this book,
    And see the days of long ago
    Floating and fleeting to and fro,
    As in the well-remembered brook
    They saw the inverted landscape gleam,
    And their own faces like a dream
    Look up upon them from below.


facebook share button twitter share button reddit share button share on pinterest pinterest

Add Tales Of A Wayside Inn - Complete to your library.

Return to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow library , or . . . Read the next poem; Tegners Drapa

© 2022 AmericanLiterature.com