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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
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, and 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 pleas
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
I n 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 intertangted 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.
THE SPANISH JEW'S TALE.
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 seymitars of the guard, And the weary camels that bared their teeth,
As they passed and passed through the
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-
The weavers are busy in Samarcand,
The miners are sifting the golden sand,
The divers plunging for pearls in the
And peace and plenty are in the land.
"Raldacca'a 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 He in wait,
Concealed by forests and hillocks of sand,
And forward dashed with a handful of
To lure the old tiger from his den
Into the ambush l had planned.
Ere we reached the town the alarm was
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
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
, py« ,
On jewels that gleamed like a glowworm'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
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
"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
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
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."
THE STUDENT'S TALE.
THE COBBLER OF HAGENAU.
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
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,^he 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
Siit 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
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
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 §ross 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 graee of God is at your gate!"
So onward to the church they passed.
The cobbler slowly turned his last,
And, wagging his sagacious head,
Unto his kneeling housewife said:
"'T is 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
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
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
Some little trinkets and cheap rings,
A locket with her mother's hair,
Her wedding gown, the fuded 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
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 wav,
Kindly but cold : "Is thy wife dead?"
The cobbler meekly bowed his head;
"She is," came struggling from his
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
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 l 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
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
l n evidence it may be used;
Therefore acquitted is the accused."
Then to the cobbler turned: "My
Pray tell me, didst thou ever read
Reynard the Fox?"—"O yes, in-
deed !" —
"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
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;