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with little thin shields and paltry lances, and would come presently with a host like the
robbers and fugitive slaves, said he, comNo one was adorned with gold or precious pounded of all vices, and a by-word to the stones, except Nicephorus himself, whom the noble race of Germans. Come over and he imperial regalia, made for the persons of his would find out what kind of fighters these ancestors, rendered all the more hideous.
As this phenomenal retinue crept forward, This kind of talk was of course highly de the singers set up a clamor : "Behold, the lightful to the would-be father-in-law. He Morning Star! Eous rises, and darkens succeeded at length in calling a halt, howwith his gaze the beams of the sun! The ever, and brought the festivities to a close. pale death of the Saracens! Nicephorus, Two days later the ambassador, overcome the King !” and in the midst of such flatter- with vexation and heat, fell sick. ing pæans, for which Liutpraud would have ters left much to be desired. The house was substituted far different expressions, the in the first place so far removed from the Emperor entered the church. Here the two royal palace that the Bishop, deprived of his young princes whose rights he had usurped horse, exhausted all his patience and breath bowed to the earth and received the kiss of in getting to court, and when he came wearpeace.
ily home, found rest for his episcopal person What religious services took place the not on hay, nor straw, nor even the earth, Bishop fails to say. His report turns at once but on a couch of hard marble with stones to the court dinner which immediately fol- for pillows. Sufficient good water could not • lowed, and to which he was invited for the be bought for money, while the Greek wine first time.
was almost undrinkable for mixtures of pitch, In the royal hall be found the seast spread resin, and gypsum. Their daily necessities upon a long, narrow table, which was cov- were supplied by a guardian of the house, ered for only about the width of a plark, and whose like for charges, thievery, and other for half its length had no cloth at all. inflictions Liutpraud thought could only be
With none of his followers present, nor found in Inferno. The company saw lingereven at call in the palace, Liutpraud, Bishop ing starvation and alien graves slowly open of Cremona, Man of Letters, and Ambassa- before them, but at length by a heavy bribe dor Extraordinary of both Ottos, was shown the household persecutor, was induced to to a seat at the fifteenth remove from the carry a petition to the Chancellor that the Emperor, and entirely beyond the consola- embassy be allowed to go home. A Venetian tions of the table-cloth. To add to the ship was about to sail, and the Bishop wouid enjoyment of the tedious meal, which reeked like, at least, that his body might reach his with oil, fish gravy, and obscenity, Nicepho- native soil. He was told to present himself rus plied the Bishop with questions about at court in four days. his native country, and when answered, On making his appearance he found a compromptly told him he lied. He remarked pany of the most learned men of the realm among other things that the clumsy Franks gathered together to discuss the royal procould not fight in their heavy armor, and posal of marriage. After some preliminary were brave any way only when drunk. He talk, they said it was an unheard of thing,
for a princess born in purple to a father born Tou mad to answer, he followed where in purple to marry a foreigner, but the mat- they proposed, and the Emperor, to soothe ter could be arranged if the right price was him, sent tid-bits from his own table. A paid. They named Ravenna and Rome with piece of fat kid, for instance, from which he all the territory between, up to the borders he had himself eaten, stuffed with garlic, of their provinces, as sufficient remuneration. onions, and leeks, and besmeared with fish
The bold envoy scouted the idea, and sauce, was a delicacy which the sarcastic struck right and left into their royal purple Bishop wished his master might live to enjoy. and their royal claims on Rome. Other A week later, as though he set great store strangers had married their daughters, and is upon the honor, the invitation was repeated. Nicephorus cared so much for the Church On this occasion, they speared him with why did he not give her back the possessions religious questions. But he was ready for he had stolen ?
them, and thanks to the inspiration of the He would do that when Rome was obe- hour answered everything “eleganter." dient to him, would he? Once there was a The same day, as the Bishop was laboring man who prayed the Lord to avenge him on up to the palace again in the afternoon, his his enemies. The Lord said, “I will do it baggard appearance awakened much feminine in that day when I reward every one accord- synpathy among the populace. Heretofore, ing to his works.” “ Alas," the poor man the women on the street had stopped their sighed, “how late!”
work to admire his stately appearance, and At this everybody laughed except the Chan- he had heard them call out to one another, cellor. That lean and pious fraud broke up “Look, mother, look !” But now pity filled the interview, and Liutpraud, conducted their eyes; they beat their breasts and cried, back to his leaky house and ravenous family “Poor man ! Poor man!” was kept under guard for the rest of the Unutterable things he called down from month.
high heaven that day upon Nicephorus, the The feast of the Apostles having arrived, author of his miseries, yet could but laugh the Bishop, although in ill condition, was to himself, when the little, insignificant summoned to celebrate the day, and to dine Emperor made his appearance on a very again at the royal board.
large and frisky horse, looking for all the He found himself once more at the bare world like one of the dolls which in Gerend of the table, and to his inexpressible dis- many the Slavs used to tie to a colt to make gust, below a newly arrived Bulgarian am
it caper. bassador. This creature, gotten up like a bar- Three long exasperating weeks now passed barian, unwashed and unshaven, wore only in which the sick and hungry embassy saw an iron chain about his neck and, as the no signs of their promised departure. The Bishop more than suspected, had never been Emperor tried to make the ambassador conbaptized. To come after this unchristened cede the disputed boundary questions, but heathen was too much. It was an insult, of Liutpraud refused to go beyond his written course, not so much to him, Liutpraud, as to instructions. He begged only to be allowed the Emperor Otto. He rose and left the to go home. But as day after day went by, table. As he angrily withdrew, the Chancel- and no dismission came, the Bishop began to lor and others hastened after and endeavored lose some of his boldness. He no longer to explain. According to an ancient mar- assumed the lofty carriage and resolute riage contract, they said the Bulgarian ambas- demeanor which the representative of a vigsador was given precedence over all others orous western power should sustain at the at the court of Constantinople. If it was so court of a crumbling monarchy, but descendvery unpleasant, they begged him to go to a ed to diplomacy and even attempted the public house with some of the attendants, as politic. he would not be allowed to go horne.
When at one interview Nicephorus, hav
ing expatiated upon the obedience due him, But the Lord Chancellor lied; for a few said at last, “Go home to your master, inform days later the Bishop was ordered to meet him of these things, and if he complies, the Emperor at a point about eighteen miles come hither again yourself,” the delighted from the city, and laboriously reached it ambassador replied, “Let your sacred Maj. only to hear the same old demands renewed. esty but arrange that I return at once to It was on this occasion that he was taken Italy, for I am convinced that my lord will to see the royal preserves and the wonderful do just as you wish, and I shall come back herds of wild asses. The Greeks had lauded to you rejoicing."
these pets very highly, and he was anxious to He bowed himself to the earth and was view them himself. The park was very large, reverently departing, but alas ! the Emperor very hilly, and full of underbrush, so the amhad noticed the irony. He smilingly nod- bassador rode. He had just got into hot ded, and invited the envoy to dinner ! water with an attendant on account of this
As usual, Nicephorus spiced the ill-scented unlawful proceeding, when a drove of deer meal with sport at the expense of the Franks. with a number of asses approached. The Among other things he demanded of Liut- Bishop could not for the life of him see how praud where the bishopric might be.“ Cre- they differed from the tame beasts of Cremona, said he, “near the Po, one of the mona, but like a true diplomat, exclaimed, “I greatest rivers of Italy. Since your highness really never saw such animals as those in Saxthinks of sending a fleet thither, I hope itony !” may be my fortune to see and know you This was enough. His Greek companion there. Grant peace to the place, that through said at once that if the Emperor (Otto would you it may flourish, since it is not able to only submit, Nicephorus would give him a resist you."
whole lot of those donkeys to keep. It The Emperor lowered his eyes as though would be no small honor to possess what his he had noticed no sarcasm, and swore with forefathers had not even seen. his hand on his heart to send him back at The inducement was not sufficient, but once with the feet to Ancona. But the the polite words of the envoy having been unhappy Bishop discovered that the Greek reported to the Emperor, he was rewarded could be ironical also.
with a brace of venison and another permisDuring the next four days he received no sion to leave. supplies whatever, and there was such a fam- Before he reached Constantinople, howine in Constantinople that three large gold ever, he was informed that it would be impieces could scarcely obtain a single meal for possible to forward him home at present as the company. On the fifth, the Chancellor, the Saracen pirates then held the sea, and summoning the envoy into his presence, the Huns blocked the land passage, both announced that the Emperor was on his way of which statements were egregiously false. to Arabia with the army, and asked if he yet Placed once more in the bosom of his ra. harbored the desire to see his majesty, and ging family, guards were so stationed that had anything new to communicate.
neither the Bishop nor any of his companThe disgusted prelate replied that he had ions could go out, nor could outsiders apno desires of that kind. See the king ? The proach. Even beggars, who received alms only thing he did want to see was the much in response to their broken Latin supplicapromised harbor of Ancona. Whereupon tions, were beaten and thrown into prison. the Chancellor swore by the head of the Not even the interpreter was allowed to Emperor, by his own life, by the lives of his make purchases in the market. The cook children-Liutpraud noticed that the Greeks might go, but speaking no Greek could only were always ready to swear away the heads make signs and pay four prices for supplies. of their fellow citizens — that the thing When friends attempted to send in food or should be done.
delicacies, their gifts were thrown away and Nicephorus finally arrived. Liutpraud was their messengers thanked with cudgels. summoned into the presence of the Viceroy.
Under woes thus daily accumulating, the “The Pope of Rome," said this official, “ if spirits of the embassy sank daily to lower such a person ought to be called Pope, who depths of despair. But the crowning misfor- has given aid and comfort to an adulterous tune was yet to come.
and apostate vassal of ours, has written a letIn a mood to endure almost any humilia- ter as worthy of him self as it is unworthy of tion to gain their release, they, doubtless, our Emperor, in which he calls him ‘Emperwould have been willing to worship the Em- or of the Greeks,' and not of the Romans, peror by whatever title he chose to name, and there is no doubt but that he did this at if it would have brought them the free air of the suggestion and request of your master.” Italy. At this point messengers suddenly ar- My time has come,” thought the Bishop. rived from the Pope, with a letter addressed to “This road leads to the block.” “The Emperor of the Greeks," advising him “But we know you will say,” continued to join in parental and fraternal relations the Greek, “ that the Pope is the greatest with his dear spiritual son, Otto, “Emperor fool on earth, and we agree with you there." of the Romans.”
“Not I,” exclaimed the Bishop, suddenly Heavens! What a bomb in the camp of recovering. the languishing Franks! They could see “Hear me," resumed the Viceroy. “This their last hopes shatter in blast which this stupid, idiotic Pope does not know that Coninsult would fuse.
stantine brought the imperial scepter, the “Grecian Emperor!” cried the court. “The whole senate and military force of Rome to barbarian, the poverty-stricken Roman! That Constantinople, and left behind nothing but he should have the face to call the August, fishermen, candy-peddlers, bird-catchers, basthe Mighty, the Ruler of the Universe, the tards, and slaves He never would have only Nicephorus, an 'Emperor of the written this letter, if your lord had not put Greeks'!” How the unhappy bearers of the him up to it. They will both find out what message escaped immediate death, the Bish- perils overhang them, if they do not soon op could scarce understand.
come to their senses." “What shall we do with these vile crea- The Bishop was nothing if not couratures?" raged the Greeks. “They are noth- geous, and could scarcely listen to these slaning but low-born menials, and if we kill them ders. But his experience of Oriental hospiwe but soil our hands in their blood. Oh tality was beginning to teach him a little that one were a bishop, or the other a mar- discretion, and he now brought into play all quis, that we might give them a taste of the his hoarded astuteness. He replied, that lash, pull their beards out, sew them up in the Pope was, in reality, distinguished for sacks, and sink them in the sea !”
candor and sincerity, and had written this They were thrown into prison instead, letter to praise rather than disparage the while the unlucky Bishop, trembling in his Emperor. For, although he knew that Con
. captivity, saw no escape but by the gate of stantine had built this city, yet he recogthe gallows. At home he regarded hinıself nized that with their eastern customs and a poor man, but after the arrival of this papal speech, the name Roman was as little suitaembassy, whose poverty had been their only ble for them as for their times. “But in fusafeguard, he felt like a Cresus.
ture,” — and this he regarded as his masterThe letter was forwarded to the camp of piece of subtlety, — "the address of his letters the Emperor, and the company, filled with shall be, John, Pope of Rome, to Nicephoexasperating uncertainty, awaited the return rus, Constantine, and Basilius, great and of the courier.
mighty Emperors of the Romans.” A month having dragged its weary length He calculated that unless a letter were through the heat of summer, an answer from thus ceremoniously directed, it would be un
likely to reach the Emperor at all, and in- The Bishop was outraged. The Emperor
strels and abandoned wonen.
He stratagem. They rejoiced at such a great con- would please exhibit whatever purple he had cession, and told the Bishop that he was the acquired either by gift or by purchase ; -- and only Frank they loved, adding, that when he in spite of the wrath of the prelate, ambassacame back to Constantinople he should be dor of the glorious emperors, Otto, father and richly rewarded.
son, the wicked Greeks went through the episBut the next minute Liutpraud nearly copal baggage and took away five costly robes upset the whole pottage, when they asked which he had designed for the church at him if his master really desired to join in a
Cremona. treaty of friendship and marriage.
A letter, written in gold, from Nicephorus The seventeen weeks of hungry captivity, was then entrusted to the ambassador for his the indignities put upon his rank and prece royal master, and for the Bishop of Rome, dence, the taunts of the Greeks, all trooped who was not considered worthy of an impein procession through the mind of the ambas. rial answer, an epistle in silver from the Lord sador. Although he had not heard a single Chancellor, which was thus sent back by Liutword from his sovereign since arriving in praud instead of the menial commissioners, Constantinople, and Otto might be coming in order that Gregory might better perceive across the country on his knees to sue for that unless he mended his ways he was a his bride for all he knew, yet he answered lost Pope. loftily, "That was, indeed, the desire of my Whereupon, with much kissing, which to lord when I first came here. But since on the Bishop was especially sweet and delightaccount of your meanness he has been una- ful, they bade him farewell, almost forgetting ble to get letters from me all this long time, to say, as he left, that under the circumstanhe thinks I am held captive and in chains, ces horses would be provided for the comand rages like a lioness robbed of her young, pany but not for the baggage. waiting for the hour of vengeance. Marriage Our worthy minister succeeded, however, he now abhors. He would sooner empty the by means of an enormous bribe in getting vials of wrath on your heads.”
his impediments forwarded, and having first The Greeks replied, briefly, that if he vented his spite in twenty lines of ponderous attempted any such measures, they would Latin verse upon the walls of the house in hire all the nations of Europe, and “smash which these one hundred and twenty unhappy him” like a potter's vessel. Furthermore, by days had been spent, set out for sunny Italy. the way, they understood he had purchased After many vicissitudes he arrived at his numerous eastern costumes which he intend- destination and made the report from which ed to carry away. He would please bring we have gathered this tale. them in for inspection and such as were found Four years later, through the efforts of a suitable for him to keep would be marked new embassador, a wedding took place, in
, with a leaden seal. The others would be which Theophano and Otto were the princitaken away and the price returned, as foreign pal figures. people were not permitted to wear the Gre- Liutpraud doubtless wondered to the end cian purple.
of his days how the business was managed.
John Martin Vincent.