(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The happy prince and other tales and A house of pomegranate"

:co 
<o 

CO 
O) 

in 
o 
in 



CO 



A HOUSE 

OF POMEGRANATES 
THE HAPPY PRINCE 

AND OTHER 
TALES 

BY 

OSCAR WILDE 



METHUEN AND CO. 
36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON Q 



First Published 

A House of Pomegranates . . 1891 

The Happy Prince . . . 1888 

First Issued by Methuen and Co. . 1908 



' The Happy Prince' is included in thit 
edition by arrangement with Mr. David 
Nutt, to whom the copyright belongs. 




This Edition on handmade paper is limited to 1000 copies 
for the United Kingdom and America 



CONTENTS 

9 

A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES: 

PAGE 

THE YOUNG KING, 3 

THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA, . . 31 

THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL, . . 67 

THE STAR-CHILD, 133 

THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES : 

THE HAPPY PRINCE, .... 167 

THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE, . . 187 

THE SELFISH GIANT, . . . .201 

THE DEVOTED FRIEND, . . . .211 

THE REMARKABLE ROCKET, ... 235 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 



THE YOUNG KING 



TO 



MARGARET LADY BROOKE 



THE YOUNG KING 

IT was the night before the day fixed for 
his coronation, and the young King was 
sitting alone in his beautiful chamber. 
His courtiers had all taken their leave of him, 
bowing their heads to the ground, according to 
the ceremonious usage of the day, and had 
retired to the Great Hall of the Palace, to 
receive a few last lessons from the Professor of 
Etiquette ; there being some of them who had 
still quite natural manners, which in a courtier 
is, I need hardly say, a very grave offence. 

The lad for he was only a lad, being but 
sixteen years of age was not sorry at their 
departure, and had flung himself back with a 
deep sigh of relief on the soft cushions of his 
embroidered couch, lying there, wild-eyed and 
open-mouthed, like a brown woodland Faun, or 
some young animal of the forest newly snared 
by the hunters. 

And, indeed, it was the hunters who had 

3 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

found him, coming upon him almost by chance 
as, bare-limbed and pipe in hand, he was follow- 
ing the flock of the poor goatherd who had 
brought him up, and whose son he had always 
fancied himself to be. The child of the old 
King's only daughter by a secret marriage with 
one much beneath her in station a stranger, 
some said, who, by the wonderful magicT~6f his 
lute-playing, had made the young Princess love 
him ; while others spoke of an artist from 
Rimini, to whom the Princess had shown 
much, perhaps too much honour, and who had 
suddenly disappeared from the city, leaving his 
work in the Cathedral unfinished he had been, 
when but a week old, stolen away from his 
mother's side, as she slept, 'and given into the 
charge of a common peasant and his wife, who 
were without children of their own, and lived in 
a remote part of the forest, more than a day's 
ride from the town. Grief, or the plague, as 
the court physician stated, or, as some suggested, 
a swift Italian poison administered in a cup of 
spiced wine, slew, within an hour of her waken- 
ing, the white girl who had given him birth, 
and as the trusty messenger who bare the child 
across his saddle-bow stooped from his weary 
horse and knocked at the rude door of the 
4 



THE YOUNG KING 

goatherd's hut, the body of the Princess was 
being lowered into an open grave that had been 
dug in a deserted churchyard, beyond the city 
gates, a grave where it was said that another 
body was also lying, that of a young man of 
marvellous and foreign beauty, whose hands 
were tied behind him with a knotted cord, and 
whose breast was stabbed with many red wounds. 

Such, at least, was the story that men whis- 
pered to each other. Certain it was that the 
old King, when on his deathbed, whether moved 
by remorse for his great sin, or merely desiring 
that the kingdom should not pass away from 
his line, had had the lad sent for, and, in the 
presence of the Council, had acknowledged him 
as his heir. 

And it seems that from the very first moment 
of his recognition he had shown signs of that 
strange passion for beauty that was destined to 
have so great an influence over his life. Those 
who accompanied him to the suite of rooms set 
apart for his service, often spoke of the cry of 
pleasure that broke from his lips when he saw 
the delicate raiment and rich jewels that had 
been prepared for him, and of the almost fierce 
joy with which he flung aside his rough leathern 
tunic and coarse sheepskin cloak. He missed, 

5 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

indeed, at times the fine freedom of his forest 
life, and was always apt to chafe at the tedious 
Court ceremonies that occupied so much of each 
day, but the wonderful palace Joyeuse, as they 
called it of which he now found himself lord, 
seemed to him to be a new world fresh-fashioned 
for his delight ; and as soon as he could escape 
from the council-board or audience-chamber, he 
would run down the great staircase, with its 
lions of gilt bronze and its steps of bright por- 
phyry, and wander from room to room, and 
from corridor to corridor, like one who was seek- 
ing to find in beauty an anodyne from pain, a 
sort of restoration from sickness. 

Upon these journeys of discovery, as he would 
call them and, indeed, they .were to him real 
voyages through a marvellous land, he would 
sometimes be accompanied by the slim, fair- 
haired Court pages, with their floating mantles, 
and gay fluttering ribands ; but more often he 
would be alone, feeling through a certain quick 
instinct, which was almost a divination, that the 
secrets of art are best learned in secret, and 
that Beauty, like Wisdom, loves the lonely 
worshipper. 

Many curious stories were related about him 
6 



THE YOUNG KING 

at this period. It was said that a stout Burgo- 
master, who had come to deliver a florid ora- 
torical address on behalf of the citizens of the 
town, had caught sight of him kneeling in real 
adoration before a great picture that had just 
been brought from Venice, and that seemed to 
herald the worship of some new gods. On another 
occasion he had been missed for several hours, 
and after a lengthened search had been dis- 
covered in a little chamber in one of the northern 
turrets of the palace gazing, as one in a trance, 
at a Greek gem carved with the figure of Adonis. 
He had been seen, so the tale ran, pressing his 
warm lips to the marble brow of an antique 
statue that had been discovered in the bed of 
the river on the occasion of the building of the 
stone bridge, and was inscribed with the name 
of the Bithynian slave of Hadrian. He had 
passed a whole night in noting the effect of the 
moonlight on a silver image of Endymion. 

All rare and costly materials had certainly a 
great fascination for him, and in his eagerness 
to procure them he had sent away many 
merchants, some to traffic for amber with the 
rough fisher-folk of the north seas, some to 
Egypt to look for that curious green turquoise 
which is found only in the tombs of kings, and 

7 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

is said to possess magical properties, some to 
Persia for silken carpets and painted pottery, 
and others to India to buy gauze and stained 
ivory, moonstones and bracelets of jade, sandal- 
wood and blue enamel and shawls of fine 
wool. 

But what had occupied him most was the 
robe he was to wear at his coronation, the robe 
of tissued gold, and the ruby-studded crown, 
and the sceptre with its rows and rings of pearls. 
Indeed, it was of this that he was thinking 
to-night, as he lay back on his luxurious couch, 
watching the great pine wood log that was burn- 
ing itself out on the open hearth. The designs, 
which were from the hands of the most famous 
artists of the time, had been submitted to him 
many months before, and he had given orders 
that the artificers were to toil night and day to 
carry them out, and that the whole world was 
to be searched for jewels that would be worthy 
of their work. He saw himself in fancy stand- 
ing at the high altar of the cathedral in the fair 
raiment of a King, and a smile played and 
lingered about his boyish lips, and lit up with a 
bright lustre his dark woodland eyes. 

After some time he rose from his seat, and 
leaning against the carved penthouse of the 
8 



chimney, looked round at the dimly-lit room. 
The walls were hung with rich tapestries repre- 
senting the Triumph of Beauty. A large press, 
inlaid with agate and lapis-lazuli, filled one 
corner, and facing the window stood a curiously 
wrought cabinet with lacquer panels of powdered 
and mosaiced gold, on which were placed some 
delicate goblets of Venetian glass, and a cup 
of dark -veined onyx. Pale poppies were 
broidered on the silk coverlet of the bed, as 
though they had fallen from the tired hands of 
sleep, and tall reeds of fluted ivory bare up the 
velvet canopy, from which great tufts of ostrich 
plumes sprang, like white foam, to the pallid 
silver of the fretted ceiling. A laughing Nar- 
cissus in green bronze held a polished mirror 
above its head. On the table stood a flat bowl 
of amethyst. 

Outside he could see the huge dome of the 
cathedral, looming like a bubble over the 
shadowy houses, and the weary sentinels pacing 
up and down on the misty terrace by the river. 
Far away, in an orchard, a nightingale was 
singing. A faint perfume of jasmine came 
through the open window. He brushed his 
brown curls back from his forehead, and taking 
up a lute, let his fingers stray across the cords. 

9 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

His heavy eyelids drooped, and a strange 
languor came over him. Never before had he 
felt so keenly, or with such exquisite joy, the 
magic and the mystery of beautiful things. 

When midnight sounded from the clock- 
tower he touched a bell, and his pages entered 
and disrobed him with much ceremony, pouring 
rose-water over his hands, and strewing flowers 
on his pillow. A few moments after that they 
had left the room, he fell asleep. 

And as he slept he dreamed a dream, and this 
was his dream. 

He thought that he was standing in a long, 
low attic, amidst the whir and clatter of many 
looms. The meagre daylight peered in through 
the grated windows, and showed him the gaunt 
figures of the weavers bending over their cases. 
Pale, sickly-looking children were crouched on 
the huge crossbeams. As the shuttles dashed 
through the warp they lifted up the heavy 
battens, and when the shuttles stopped they let 
the battens fall and pressed the threads together. 
Their faces were pinched with famine, and their 
thin hands shook and trembled. Some haggard 
women were seated at a table sewing. A horrible 
odour filled the place. The air was foul and 
10 



THE YOUNG KING 

heavy, and the walls dripped and streamed with 
damp. 

The young King went over to one of the 
weavers, and stood by him and watched him. 

And the weaver looked at him angrily, and 
said, ' Why art thou watching me ? Art thou 
a spy set on us by our master ? ' 

* Who is thy master ? ' asked the young 
King. 

' Our master ! ' cried the weaver, bitterly. 
* He is a man like myself. Indeed, there is but 
this difference between us that he wears fine 
clothes while I go in rags, and that while I am 
weak from hunger he suffers not a little from 
overfeeding.' 

* The land is free,' said the young King, * and 
thou art no man's slave.' 

'In war,' answered the weaver, 'the strong 
make slaves of the weak, and in peace the rich 
make slaves of the poor. We must work to live, 
and they give us such mean wages that we die. 
We toil for them all day long, and they heap up 
gold in their coffers, and our children fade away 
before their time, and the faces of those we love 
become hard and evil. We tread out the grapes, 
and another drinks the wine. We sow the corn, 
and our own board is empty. We have chains, 

11 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

though no eye beholds them ; and are slaves, 
though men call us free.' 

' Is it so with all ? ' he asked. 

' It is so with all,' answered the weaver, * with 
the young as well as with the old, with the 
women as well as with the men, with the little 
children as well as with those who are stricken 
in years. The merchants grind us down, and 
we must needs do their bidding. The priest 
rides by and tells his beads, and no man has care 
of us. Through our sunless lanes creeps Poverty 
with her hungry eyes, and Sin with his sodden 
face follows close behind her. Misery wakes us 
in the morning, and Shame sits with us at night. 
But what are these things to thee ? Thou art 
not one of us. Thy face is too happy.' And 
he turned away scowling, and threw the shuttle 
across the loom, and the young King saw that 
it was threaded with a thread of gold. 

And a great terror seized upon him, and he 
said to the weaver, % ' What robe is this that thou 
art weaving ? ' 

'It is the robe for vthe coronation of the 
young King,' he answered ;"' what is that to 
thee?' 

And the young King gave a loud cry and 
woke, and lo ! he was in his own chamber, and 
12 



THE YOUNG KING 

through the window he saw the great honey- 
coloured moon hanging in the dusky air. 

And he fell asleep again and dreamed, and 
this was his dream. 

He thought that he was lying on the deck of 
a huge galley that was being rowed by a hundred 
slaves. On a carpet by his side the master of 
the galley was seated. He was black as ebony, 
and his turban was of crimson silk. Great ear- 
rings of silver dragged down the thick lobes of 
his ears, and in his hands he had a pair of ivory 
scales. 

The slaves were naked, but for a ragged loin- 
cloth, and each man was chained to his neighbour. 
The hot sun beat brightly upon them, and the 
negroes ran up and down the gangway and 
lashed them with whips of hide. They stretched 
out their lean arms and pulled the heavy oars 
through the water. The salt spray flew from 
the blades. 

At last they reached a little bay, and began 
to take soundings. A light wind blew from the 
shore, and covered the deck and the great lateen 
sail with a fine red dust. Three Arabs mounted 
on wild asses rode out and threw spears at them. 
The master of the galley took a painted bow 

13 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

in his hand and shot one of them in the throat. 
He fell heavily into the surf, and his companions 
galloped away. A woman wrapped in a yellow 
veil followed slowly on a camel, looking back 
now and then at the dead body. 

As soon as they had cast anchor and hauled 
down the sail, the negroes went into the hold 
and brought up a long rope-ladder, heavily 
weighted with lead. The master of the galley 
threw it over the side, making the ends fast to 
two iron stanchions. Then the negroes seized 
the youngest of the slaves and knocked his gyves 
off, and filled his nostrils and his ears with wax, 
and tied a big stone round his waist. He crept 
wearily down the ladder, and disappeared into 
the sea. A few bubbles rose where he sank. 
Some of the other slaves peered curiously over 
the side. At the prow of the galley sat a 
shark-charmer, beating monotonously upon a 
drum. 

After some time the diver rose up out of the 
water, and clung panting to the ladder with a 
pearl in his right hand. The negroes seized it 
from him, and thrust him back. The slaves fell 
asleep over their oars. ^ 

Again and again he came up, and each time 
that he did so he brought with him a beautiful 
14 



THE YOUNG KING 

pearl. The master of the galley weighed them, 
and put them into a little bag of green leather. 

The young King tried to speak, but his tongue 
seemed to cleave to the roof of his mouth, and 
his lips refused to move. The negroes chattered 
to each other, and began to quarrel over a string 
of bright beads. Two cranes flew round and 
round the vessel. 

Then the diver came up for the last time, and 
the pearl that he brought with him was fairer 
than all the pearls of Ormuz, for it was shaped 
like the full moon, and whiter than the morning 
star. But his face was strangely pale, and as 
he fell upon the deck the blood gushed from his 
ears and nostrils. He quivered for a little, and 
then he was still. The negroes shrugged their 
shoulders, and threw the body overboard. 

And the master of the galley laughed, and, 
reaching out, he took the pearl, and when he 
saw it he pressed it to his forehead and bowed. 
'It shall be,' he said, 'for the sceptre of the 
young King,' and he made a sign to the negroes 
to draw up the anchor. 

And when the young King heard this he gave 
a great cry, and woke, and through the window 
he saw the long grey fingers of the dawn clutch- 
ing at the fading stars. 

15 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

And he fell asleep again, and dreamed, and 
this was his dream. 

He thougKlTfhat he was wandering through 
a dim wood, hung with strange fruits and with 
beautiful poisonous flowers. The adders hissed 
at him as he went by, and the bright parrots 
flew screaming from branch to branch. Huge 
tortoises lay asleep upon the hot mud. The 
trees were full of apes and peacocks. 

On and on he went, till he reached the out- 
skirts of the wood, and there he saw an immense 
multitude of men toiling in the bed of a dried-up 
river. They swarmed up the crag like ants. 
They dug deep pits in the ground and went 
down into them. Some of them cleft the rocks 
with great axes ; others grabbled in the sand. 
They tore up the cactus by its roots, and trampled 
on the scarlet blossoms. They hurried about, 
calling to each other, and no man was idle. 

From the darkness of a cavern Death and 
Avarice watched them, and Death said, * I am 
weary; give me a third of them and let 
me go.' 

But Avarice shook her head. ' They are my 
servants,' she answered. 

And Death said to her, ' What hast thou in 
thy hand ? ' 
16 






THE YOUNG KING 

* I have three grains of corn,' she answered ; 
* what is that to thee ? ' 

' Give me one of them,' cried Death, * to plant 
in my garden ; only one of them, and I will go 
away.' 

* I will not give thee anything,' said Avarice, 
and she hid her hand in the fold of her raiment. 

And Death laughed, and took a cup, and 
dipped it into a pool of water, and out of the 
cup rose Ague. She passed through the great 
multituderand a third of them lay dead. A cold 
mist followed her, and the water-snakes ran by 
her side. 

And when Avarice saw that a third of the 
multitude was dead she beat her breast and 
wept. She beat her barren bosom, and cried 
aloud. ' Thou hast slain a third of my servants,' 
she cried, * get thee gone. There is war in the 
mountains of Tartary, and the kings of each side 
are calling to thee. The Afghans have slain 
the black ox, and are marching to battle. They 
have beaten upon their shields with their spears, 
and have put on their helmets of iron. What 
is my valley to thee, that thou shouldst tarry 
in it? Get thee gone, and come here no more.' 

'Nay,' answered Death, 'but till thou hast 
given me a grain of corn I will not go.' 

B 17 






A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

But Avarice shut her hand, and clenched her 
teeth. ' I will not give thee anything,' she 
muttered. 

And Death laughed, and took up a black 
stone, and threw it into the forest, and out of a 
thicket of wild hemlock came Fever in a robe 
of flame. She passed through the multitude, 
and touched them, and each man that she 
touched died. The grass withered beneath her 
feet as she walked. 

And Avarice shuddered, and put ashes on 
her head. ' Thou art cruel/ she cried ; ' thou 
art cruel. There is famine in the walled cities 
of India, and the cisterns of Samarcand have run 
dry. There is famine in the walled cities of 
Egypt, and the locusts have come up from the 
desert. The Nile has not overflowed its banks, 
and the priests have cursed Isis and Osiris. Get 
thee gone to those who need thee, and leave me 
my servants.' 

* Nay,' answered Death, * but till thou hast 
given me a grain of corn I will not go.' 

* I will not give thee anything,' said Avarice. 
And Death laughed again, and he whistled 

through his fingers, and a woman came flying 
through the air. Plague was written upon her 
forehead, and a crowd of lean vultures wheeled 
18 



THE YOUNG KING 

round her. She covered the valley' with her 
wings, and no man was left alive. 

And Avarice fled shrieking through the forest, 
and Death leaped upon his red horse and gal- 
loped away, and his galloping was faster than 
the wind. 

And out of the slime at the bottom of the 
valley crept dragons and horrible things with 
scales, and the jackals came trotting along the 
sand, sniffing up the air with their nostrils. 

And the young King wept, and said : ' Who 
were these men, and for what were they seeking ? ' 

* For rubies for a king's crown,' answered one 
who stood behind him. 

And the young King started, and, turning 
round, he saw a man habited as a pilgrim and 
holding in his hand a mirror of silver. 

And he grew pale, and said : ' For what king ? ' 

And the pilgrim answered : * Look in this 
mirror, and thou shalt see him.' 

And he looked in the mirror, and, seeing his 
own face, he gave a great cry and woke, and the 
bright sunlight was streaming into the room, 
and from the trees of the garden and pleasaunce 
the birds were singing. 

And the Chamberlain and the high officers 

19 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

of State came in and made obeisance to him, 
and the pages brought him the robe of tissued 
gold, and set the crown and the sceptre before 
him. 

And the young King looked at them, and 
they were beautiful. More beautiful were they 
than aught that he had ever seen. But he 
remembered his dreams, and he said to his lords : 
'Take these things away, for I will not wear 
them.' 

And the courtiers were amazed, and some of 
them laughed, for they thought that he was 
jesting. 

But he spake sternly to them again, and said : 
* Take these things away, and hide them from 
me. Though it be the day of my coronation, I 
will not wear them. For on the loom of Sorrow,"" 
and by the white hands of Pain, has this my 
robe been woven. There is Blood in the heart 
of the ruby, and Death in the heart of the pearl.' 
And he told them his three dreams. 

And when the courtiers heard them they 
looked at each other and whispered, saying: 
' Surely he is mad ; for what is a dream but a 
dream, and a vision but a vision ? They are 
not real things that one should heed them. 
And what have we to do with the lives of those-'' 
20 



THE YOUNG KING 

who toil for us ? Shall a man not eat bread till 
lie has seen the sower, nor drink wine till he has 
talked with the vinedresser?' 

And the Chamberlain spake to the young 
King, and said, ' My lord, I pray thee set aside 
these black thoughts of thine, and put on this 
fair robe, and set this crown upon thy head. 
For how shall the people know that thou art a 
king, if thou hast not a king's raiment ? ' 

And the young King looked at him. ' Is it 
so, indeed ? ' he questioned, * Will they not- 
know me for a king if I have not a king's 
raiment ? ' 

* They will not know thee, my lord,' cried the 
Chamberlain. 

' I had thought that there had been men who 
were kinglike,' he answered, * but it may be as 
thou sayest. And yet I will not wear this robe, 
nor will I be crowned with this crown, but even 
as I came to the palace so will I go forth 
from it.' 

And he bade them all leave him, save one 
page whom he kept as his companion, a lad a 
year younger than himself. Him he kept for 
his service, and when he had bathed himself in 
clear water, he opened a great painted chest, 
and from it he took the leathern tunic and rough 

21 






A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

sheepskin cloak that he had worn when he had 
watched on the hillside the shaggy goats of the 
goatherd. These he put on, and in his hand he 
took his rude shepherd's staff. 

And the little page opened his big blue eyes 
in wonder, and said smiling to him, ' My lord, 
I see thy robe and thy sceptre, but where is thy 
crown ? ' 

And the young King plucked a spray of wild 
briar that was climbing over the balcony, and 
bent it, and made a circlet of it, and set it on 
his own head. 

' This shall be my crown,' he answered. 

And thus attired he passed out of his chamber 
into the Great Hall, where the nobles were 
waiting for him. 

And the nobles made merry, and some of 
them cried out to him, ' My lord, the people 
wait for their king, and thou showest them a 
beggar,' and others were wroth and said, ' He 
brings shame upon our state, and is unworthy 
to be our master.' But he answered them not 
a word, but passed on, and went down the 
bright porphyry staircase, and out through the 
gates of bronze, and mounted upon his horse, 
and rode towards the cathedral, the little page 
running beside him. 
22 



THE YOUNG KING 

And the people laughed and said, * It is the 
King's fool who is riding by,' and they mocked 
him. 

And he drew rein and said, * Nay, but I am 
the King.' And he told them his three dreams. 

And a man came out of the crowd and spake 
bitterly to him, and said, ' Sir, knowest thou 
not that out of the luxury of the rich cometh 
the life of the poor? By your pomp we are 
nurtured, and your vices give us bread. To toil 
for a hard master is bitter, but to have no master- 
to toil for is more bitter still. Thinkest thou 
that the ravens will feed us ? And what cure 
hast thou for these things ? Wilt thou say to 
the buyer, " Thou shalt buy for so much," and 
to the seller, " Thou shalt sell at this price " ? I 
trow not. Therefore go back to thy Palace and 
put on thy purple and fine linen. What hast 
thou to do with us, and what we suffer ? ' 

'Are not the rich and the poor brothers?' 
asked the young King. 

'Ay,' answered the man, 'and the name of 
the rich brother is Cain.' 

And the young King's eyes filled with tears, 
and he rode on through the murmurs of the 
people, and the little page grew afraid and left 
him. 

23 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

And when he reached the great portal of the 
cathedral, the soldiers thrust their halberts out 
and said, ' What dost thou seek here ? None 
enters by this door but the King.' 

And his face flushed with anger, and he said 
to them, *I am the King,' and waved their 
halberts aside and passed in. 

And when the old Bishop saw him coming in 
his goatherd's dress, he rose up in wonder from 
his throne, and went to meet him, and said to 
him, * My son, is this a king's apparel ? And 
with what crown shall I crown thee, and what 
sceptre shall I place in thy hand ? Surely this 
should be to thee a day of joy, and not a day 
of abasement.' 

* Shall Joy wear what Grief has fashioned ? ' 
said the young King. And he told him his 
three dreams. 

And when the Bishop had heard them he knit 
his brows, and said, ' My son, I am an old man, 
and in the winter of my days, and I know that 
many evil things are done in the wide world. 
The fierce robbers come down from the moun- 
tains, and carry off the little children, and sell 
them to the Moors. The lions lie in wait for 
the caravans, and leap upon the camels. The 
wild boar roots up the corn in the valley, and 
24 



THE YOUNG KING 

the foxes gnaw the vines upon the hill. The 
pirates lay waste the sea-coast and burn the 
ships of the fishermen, and take their nets from 
them. In the salt-marshes live the lepers ; they 
have houses of wattled reeds, and none may 
come nigh them. The beggars wander through 
the cities, and eat their food with the dogs. 
Canst thou make these things not to be ? Wilt 
thou take the leper for thy bedfellow, and set 
the beggar at thy board ? Shall the lion do thy 
bidding, and the wild boar obey thee ? Is not 
He who made misery wiser than thou art ? 
Wherefore I praise thee not for this that thou 
hast done, but I bid thee ride back to the 
Palace and make thy face glad, and put on the 
raiment that beseemeth a king, and with the 
crown of gold I will crown thee, and the 
sceptre of pearl will I place in thy hand. And 
as for thy dreams, think no more of them. 
The burden of this world is too great for one 
man to bear, and the world's sorrow too heavy 
for one heart to suffer.' 

* Sayest thou that in this house ? ' said the 
young King, and he strode past the Bishop, and 
climbed up the steps of the altar, and stood 
before the image of Christ. 

He stood before the image of Christ, and on 

25 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

his right hand and on his left were the marvel- 
lous vessels of gold, the chalice with the yellow 
wine, and the vial with the holy oil. He knelt 
before the image of Christ, and the great candles 
burned brightly by the jewelled shrine, and the 
smoke of the incense curled in thin blue wreaths 
through the dome. He bowed his head in 
prayer, and the priests in their stiff copes crept 
away from the altar. 

And suddenly a wild tumult came from the 
street outside, and in entered the nobles with 
drawn swords and nodding plumes, and shields 
of polished steel. ' Where is this dreamer of 
dreams ? ' they cried. ' Where is this King, who 
is apparelled like a beggar this boy who brings 
shame upon our state ? Surely we will slay him, 
for he is unworthy to rule over us.' 

And the young King bowed his head again, 
and prayed, and when he had finished his prayer 
he rose up, and turning round he looked at 
them sadly. 

And lo ! through the painted windows came 
the sunlight streaming upon him, and the sun- 
beams wove round him a tissued robe that was 
fairer than the robe that had been fashioned for 
his pleasure. The dead staff blossomed, and- 
bare lilies that were whiter than pearls. The 
26 



THE YOUNG KING 

dry thorn blossomed, and bare roses that were 
redder than rubies. Whiter than fine pearls 
were the lilies, and their stems were of bright 
silver. Redder than male rubies were the roses, 
and their leaves were of beaten gold. 

He stood there in the raiment of a king, and 
the gates of the jewelled shrine flew open, and 
from the crystal of the many-rayed monstrance 
shone a marvellous and mystical light. He 
stood there in a king's raiment, and the Glory 
of God filled the place, and the saints in their 
carven niches seemed to move. In the fair 
raiment of a king he stood before them, and the 
organ pealed out its music, and the trumpeters 
blew upon their trumpets, and the singing boys 
sang. 

And the people fell upon their knees in awe, 
and the nobles sheathed their swords and did 
homage, and the Bishop's face grew pale, and 
his hands trembled. ' A greater than I hath 
crowned thee,' he cried, and he knelt before him. 

And the young King came down from the 
high altar, and passed home through the midst 
of the people. But no man dared look upon his 
face, for it was like the face of an angel. 



27 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 



TO 

MRS. WILLIAM H. GRBNFELL 
OF TAPLOW COURT 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

IT was the birthday of the Infanta. She 
was just twelve years of age, and the sun 
was shining brightly in the gardens of the 
palace. 

Although she was a real Princess and the 
Infanta of Spain, she had only one birthday 
every year, just like the children of quite poor 
people, so it was naturally a matter of great 
importance to the whole country that she should 
have a really fine day for the occasion. And a 
really fine day it certainly was. The tall striped 
tulips stood straight up upon their stalks, like 
long rows of soldiers, and looked defiantly across 
the grass at the roses, and said : ' We are quite 
as splendid as you are now.' The purple butter- 
flies fluttered about with gold dust on their 
wings, visiting each flower in turn ; the little 
lizards crept out of the crevices of the wall, and 
lay basking in the white glare ; and the pome- 
granates split and cracked with the heat, and 

31 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

showed their bleeding red hearts. Even the 
pale yellow lemons, that hung in such profusion 
from the mouldering trellis and along the dim 
arcades, seemed to have caught a richer colour 
from the wonderful sunlight, and the magnolia 
trees opened their great globe-like blossoms of 
folded ivory, and filled the air with a sweet 
heavy perfume. 

The little Princess herself walked up and 
down the terrace with her companions, and 
played at hide and seek round the stone vases 
and the old moss-grown statues. On ordinary 
days she was only allowed to play with children 
of her own rank, so she had always to play 
alone, but her birthday was an exception, and 
the King had given orders that she was to invite 
any of her young friends whom she liked to 
come and amuse themselves with her. There 
was a stately grace about these slim Spanish 
children as they glided about, the boys with 
their large-plumed hats and short fluttering 
cloaks, the girls holding up the trains of their 
long brocaded gowns, and shielding the sun from 
their eyes with huge fans of black and silver. 
But the Infanta was the most graceful of all, 
and the most tastefully attired, after the some- 
what cumbrous fashion of the day. Her robe 
32 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

was of grey satin, the skirt and the wide puffed 
sleeves heavily embroidered with silver, and the 
stiff corset studded with rows of fine pearls. 
Two tiny slippers with big pink rosettes peeped 
out beneath her dress as she walked. Pink and 
pearl was her great gauze fan, and in her hair, 
which like an aureole of faded gold stood out 
stiffly round her pale little face, she had a 
beautiful white rose. 

From a window in the palace the sad melan- 
choly King watched them. Behind him stood 
his brother, Don Pedro of Aragon, whom he 
hated, and his confessor, the Grand Inquisitor 
of Granada, sat by his side. Sadder even than 
usual was the King, for as he looked at the 
Infanta bowing with childish gravity to the 
assembling courtiers, or laughing behind her fan 
at the grim Duchess of Albuquerque who always 
accompanied her, he thought of the young 
Queen, her mother, who but a short time before 
so it seemed to him had come from the gay 
country of France, and had withered away in 
the sombre splendour of the Spanish court, dying 
just six months after the birth of her child, and 
before she had seen the almonds blossom twice 
in the orchard, or plucked the second year's fruit 
from the old gnarled fig- tree that stood .in the 

c 33 



centre of the now grass-grown courtyard. So 
great had been his love for her that he had not 
suffered even the grave to hide her from him. 
She had been embalmed by a Moorish physician, 
who in return for this service had been granted 
his life, which for heresy and suspicion of magical 
practices had been already forfeited, men said, 
to the Holy Office, and her body was still lying-' 
on its tapestried bier in the black marble chapel 
of the Palace, just as the monks had borne 
her in on that windy March day nearly twelve 
years before. Once every month the King, 
wrapped in a dark cloak and with a muffled 
lantern in his hand, went in and knelt by her 
side, calling out, 'Mi reina! Mi reina!' and 
sometimes breaking through the formal etiquette 
that in Spain governs every separate action of 
life, and sets limits even to the sorrow of a King, 
he would clutch at the pale jewelled hands in a 
wild agony of grief, and try to wake by his mad 
kisses the cold painted face. 

To-day he seemed to see her again, as he had 
seen her first at the Castle of Fontainebleau, 
when he was but fifteen years of age, and she 
still younger. They had been formally betrothed 
on that occasion by the Papal Nuncio in the 
presence of the French King and all the Court, 
34 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

and he had returned to the Escurial bearing with 
him a little ringlet of yellow hair, and the 
memory of two childish lips bending down to 
kiss his hand as he stepped into his carriage. 
Later on had followed the marriage, hastily per- 
formed at Burgos, a small town on the frontier 
between the two countries, and the grand public 
entry into Madrid with the customary celebra- 
tion of high mass at the Church of La Atocha, 
and a more than usually solemn auto-da-fe, in 
which nearly three hundred heretics, amongst 
whom were many Englishmen, had been de- 
livered over to the secular arm to be burned. 

Certainly he had loved her madly, and to the-- 
ruin, many thought, of his country, then at 
war with England for the possession of the 
empire of the New World. He had hardly ever 
permitted her to be out of his sight ; for her, he 
had forgotten, or seemed to have forgotten, all 
grave affairs of State; and, with that terrible 
blindness that passion brings upon its servants, 
he had failed to notice that the elaborate cere- 
monies by which he sought to please her did 
but aggravate the strange malady from which 
she suffered. When she died he was, for a time, 
like one bereft of reason. Indeed, there is no 
doubt but that he would have formally abdicated 

35 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

and retired to the great Trappist monastery at 
Granada, of which he was already titular Prior, 
had he not been afraid to leave the little Infanta 
at the mercy of his brother, whose cruelty, even 
in Spain, was notorious, and who was suspected 
by many of having caused the Queen's death 
by means of a pair of poisoned gloves that he 
had presented to her on the occasion of her visit- 
ing his castle in Aragon. Even after the expira- 
tion of the three years of public mourning that 
he had ordained throughout his whole dominions 
by royal edict, he would never suffer his ministers 
to speak about any new alliance, and when the 
Emperor himself sent to him, and offered him 
the hand of the lovely Archduchess of Bohemia, 
his niece, in marriage, he bade the ambassadors 
tell their master that the King of Spain was 
already wedded to Sorrow, and that though she 
was but a barren bride he loved her better than 
Beauty ; an answer that cost his crown the rich- 
provinces of the Netherlands, which soon after, 
at the Emperor's instigation, revolted against 
him under the leadership of some fanatics of 
the Reformed Church. 

His whole married life, with its fierce, fiery- 
coloured joys and the terrible agony of its sudden 
ending, seemed to come back to him to-day as 
36 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

he watched the Infanta playing on the terrace. 
She had all the Queen's pretty petulance of 
manner, the same wilful way of tossing her head, 
the same proud curved beautiful mouth, the 
same wonderful smile vrai sourire de France 
indeed as she glanced up now and then at the 
window, or stretched out her little hand for the 
stately Spanish gentlemen to kiss. But the 
shrill laughter of the children grated on his ears, 
and the bright pitiless sunlight mocked his 
sorrow, and a dull odour of strange spices, 
spices such as embalmers use, seemed to taint 
or was it fancy? the clear morning air. He 
buried his face in his hands, and when the 
Infanta looked up again the curtains had been 
drawn, and the King had retired. 

She made a little moue of disappointment, 
and shrugged her shoulders. Surely he might 
have stayed with her on her birthday. What 
did the stupid State-affairs matter ? Or had he 
gone to that gloomy chapel, where the candles 
were always burning, and where she was never 
allowed to enter ? How silly of him, when the 
sun was shining so brightly, and everybody was 
so happy ! Besides, he would miss the sham 
bull-fight for which the trumpet was already 
sounding, to say nothing of the puppet-show 

37 






A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

> 

and the other wonderful things. Her uncle and 
the Grand Inquisitor were much more sensible. 
They had come out on the terrace, and paid her 
nice compliments. So she tossed her pretty 
head, and taking Don Pedro by the hand, she 
walked slowly down the steps towards a long 
pavilion of purple silk that had been erected at 
the end of the garden, the other children follow- 
ing in strict order of precedence, those who had 
the longest names going first. 



A procession of noble boys, fantastically 
dressed as toreadors, came out to meet her, and 
the young Count of Tierra-Nueva, a wonderfully 
handsome lad of about fourteen years of age, 
uncovering his head with all the grace of a born 
hidalgo and grandee of Spain, led her solemnly in 
to a little gilt and ivory chair that was placed on a 
raised dais above the arena. The children grouped 
themselves all round, fluttering their big fans 
and whispering to each other, and Don Pedro 
and the Grand Inquisitor stood laughing at the 
entrance. Even the Duchess the Camerera- 
Mayor as she was called a thin, hard-featured 
woman with a yellow ruff, did not look quite 
so bad-tempered as usual, and something like a 
38 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

chill smile flitted across her wrinkled face and 
twitched her thin bloodless lips. 

It certainly was a marvellous bull-fight, and 
much nicer, the Infanta thought, than the real 
bull-fight that she had been brought to see at 
Seville, on the occasion of the visit of the Duke 
of Parma to her father. Some of the boys 
pranced about on richly-caparisoned hobby- 
horses brandishing long javelins with gay 
streamers of bright ribands attached to them ; 
others went on foot waving their scarlet cloaks 
before the bull, and vaulting lightly over the 
barrier when he charged them ; and as for the 
bull himself, he was just like a live bull, though 
he was only made of wicker-work and stretched 
hide, and sometimes insisted on running round 
the arena on his hind legs, which no live bull 
ever dreams of doing. He made a splendid 
fight of it too, and the children got so excited 
that they stood up upon the benches, and waved 
their lace handkerchiefs and cried out : Bravo 
torof Bravo toro f just as sensibly as if they 
had been grown-up people. At last, however, 
after a prolonged combat, during which several 
of the hobby-horses were gored through and 
through, and their riders dismounted, the young 
Count of Tierra-Nueva brought the bull to his 

39 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

knees, and having obtained permission from the 
Infanta to give the coup de grace, he plunged 
his wooden sword into the neck of the animal 
with such violence that the head came right off, 
and disclosed the laughing face of little Monsieur 
de Lorraine, the son of the French Ambassador 
at Madrid. 

The arena was then cleared amidst much 
applause, and the dead hobby-horses dragged 
solemnly away by two Moorish pages in yellow 
and black liveries, and after a short interlude, 
during which a French posture-master performed 
upon the tight-rope, some Italian puppets 
appeared in the semi- classical tragedy of Sophon- 
isba on the stage of a small theatre that had 
been built up for the purpose. They acted 
so well, and their gestures were so extremely 
natural, that at the close of the play the eyes of 
the Infanta were quite dim with tears. Indeed 
some of the children really cried, and had to be 
comforted with sweetmeats, and the Grand 
Inquisitor himself was so affected that he could 
not help saying to Don Pedro that it seemed 
to him intolerable that things made simply out 
of wood and coloured wax, and worked mechani- 
cally by wires, should be so unhappy and meet 
with such terrible misfortunes. 
40 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

An African juggler followed, who brought in 
a large flat basket covered with a red cloth, and 
having placed it in the centre of the arena, he 
took from his turban a curious reed pipe, and 
blew through it. In a few moments the cloth 
began to move, and as the pipe grew shriller 
and shriller two green and gold snakes put out 
their strange wedge-shaped heads and rose slowly 
up, swaying to and fro with the music as a plant 
sways in the water. The children, however, 
were rather frightened at their spotted hoods 
and quick darting tongues, and were much more 
pleased when the juggler made a tiny orange- 
tree grow out of the sand and bear pretty white 
blossoms and clusters of real fruit ; and when 
he took the fan of the little daughter of the 
Marquess de Las-Torres, and changed it into a 
blue bird that flew all round the pavilion and 
sang, their delight and amazement knew no 
bounds. The solemn minuet, too, performed 
by the dancing boys from the church of Nuestra 
Senora Del Pilar, was charming. The Infanta 
had never before seen this wonderful ceremony 
which takes place every year at Maytime in 
front of the high altar of the Virgin, and in her 
honour ; and indeed none of the royal family of 
Spain had entered the great cathedral of Sara- 

41 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

gossa since a mad priest, supposed by many to 
have been in the pay of Elizabeth of England, 
had tried to administer a poisoned wafer to the 
Prince of the Asturias. So she had known only 
by hearsay of * Our Lady's Dance,' as it was 
called, and it certainly was a beautiful sight. 
The boys wore old-fashioned court dresses of 
white velvet, and their curious three-cornered 
hats were fringed with silver and surmounted 
with huge plumes of ostrich feathers, the dazzling 
whiteness of their costumes, as they moved about 
in the sunlight, being still more accentuated by 
their swarthy faces and long black hair. Every- 
body was fascinated by the grave dignity with 
which they moved through the intricate figures 
of the dance, and by the elaborate grace of their 
slow gestures, and stately bows, and when they 
had finished their performance and doffed their 
great plumed hats to the Infanta, she acknow- 
ledged their reverence with much courtesy, and 
made a vow that she would send a large wax 
candle to the shrine of Our Lady of Pilar in 
return for the pleasure that she had given her. 

A troop of handsome Egyptians as the 
gipsies were termed in those days then ad- 
vanced into the arena, and sitting down cross- 
legs, in a circle, began to play softly upon their 
42 






THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

zithers, moving their bodies to the tune, and 
humming, almost below their breath, a low 
dreamy air. When they caught sight of Don 
Pedro they scowled at him, and some of them 
looked terrified, for only a few weeks before he 
had had two of their tribe hanged for sorcery 
in the market-place at Seville, but the pretty 
Infanta charmed them as she leaned back peep- 
ing over her fan with her great blue eyes, and 
they felt sure that one so lovely as she was 
could never be cruel to anybody. So they 
played on very gently and just touching the 
cords of the zithers with their long pointed nails, 
and their heads began to nod as though they 
were falling asleep. Suddenly, with a cry so 
shrill that all the children were startled and Don 
Pedro's hand clutched at the agate pommel of 
his dagger, they leapt to their feet and whirled 
madly round the enclosure beating their tam- 
bourines, and chaunting some wild love-song 
in their strange guttural language. Then at 
another signal they all flung themselves again 
to the ground and lay there quite still, the dull 
strumming of the zithers being the only sound 
that broke the silence. After that they had 
done this several times, they disappeared for a 
moment and came back leading a brown shaggy 

43 



. 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

bear by a chain, and carrying on their shoulders 
some little Barbary apes. The bear stood upon 
his head with the utmost gravity, and the wizened 
apes played all kinds of amusing tricks with two 
gipsy boys who seemed to be their masters, and 
fought with tiny swords, and fired off guns, and 
went through a regular soldier's drill just like 
the King's own bodyguard. In fact the gipsies 
were a great success. 

But the funniest part of the whole morning's 
entertainment, was undoubtedly the dancing of 
the little Dwarf. When he stumbled into the 
arena, waddling on his crooked legs and wagging 
his huge misshapen head from side to side, the 
children went off into a loud shout of delight, 
and the Infanta herself laughed so much that 
the Camerera was obliged to remind her that 
although there were many precedents in Spain 
for a King's daughter weeping before her equals, 
there were none for a Princess of the blood royal 
making so merry before those who were her 
inferiors in birth. The Dwarf, however, was 
really quite irresistible, and even at the Spanish 
Court, always noted for its cultivated passion 
for the horrible, so fantastic a little monster had 
never been seen. It was his first appearance, 
too. He had been discovered only the day 
44 



. 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

before, running wild through the forest, by two 
of the nobles who happened to have been hunt- 
ing in a remote part of the great cork-wood that 
surrounded the town, and had been carried off 
by them to the Palace as a surprise for the 
Infanta ; his father, who was a poor charcoal- 
burner, being but too well pleased to get rid of 
so ugly and useless a child. Perhaps the most 
amusing thing about him was his complete 
unconsciousness of his own grotesque appearance. 
Indeed he seemed quite happy and full of the 
highest spirits. When the children laughed, he 
laughed as freely and as joyously as any of them, 
and at the close of each dance he made them 
each the funniest of bows, smiling and nodding 
at them just as if he was really one of them- 
selves, and not a little misshapen thing that 
Nature, in some humourous mood, had fashioned 
for others to mock at. As for the Infanta, she 
absolutely fascinated him. He could not keep 
his eyes off her, and seemed to dance for her 
alone, and when at the close of the performance, 
remembering how she had seen the great ladies 
of the Court throw bouquets to Caffarelli, the 
famous Italian treble, whom the Pope had sent 
from his own chapel to Madrid that he might 
cure the King's melancholy by the sweetness of 

45 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

his voice, she took out of her hair the beautiful 
white rose, and partly for a jest and partly to 
tease the Camerera, threw it to him across the 
arena with her sweetest smile, he took the whole 
matter quite seriously, and pressing the flower 
to his rough coarse lips he put his hand upon his 
heart, and sank on one knee before her, grinning 
from ear to ear, and with his little bright eyes 
sparkling with pleasure. 

This so upset the gravity of the Infanta that 
she kept on laughing long after the little Dwarf 
had run out of the arena, and expressed a desire 
to her uncle that the dance should be immediately 
repeated. The Camerera, however, on the plea 
that the sun was too hot, decided that it would 
be better that her Highness should return with- 
out delay to the Palace, where a wonderful feast 
had been already prepared for her, including a 
real birthday cake with her own initials worked 
all over it in painted sugar and a lovely silver 
flag waving from the top. The Infanta accord- 
ingly rose up with much dignity, and having 
given orders that the little dwarf was to dance 
again for her after the hour of siesta, and con- 
veyed her thanks to the young Count of 
Tierra-Nueva for his charming reception, she 
went back to her apartments, the children 
46 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

following in the same order in which they had 
entered. 

Now when the little Dwarf heard that he was 
to dance a second time before the Infanta, and 
by her own express command, he was so proud 
that he ran out into the garden, kissing the 
white rose in an absurd ecstasy of pleasure, and 
making the most uncouth and clumsy gestures 
of delight. 

The Flowers were quite indignant at his 
daring to intrude into their beautiful home, and 
when they saw him capering up and down the 
walks, and waving his arms above his head in 
such a ridiculous manner, they could not restrain 
their feelings any longer. 

* He is really far too ugly to be allowed to play 
in any place where we are,' cried the Tulips. 

' He should drink poppy-juice, and go to sleep 
for a thousand years,' said the great scarlet 
Lilies, and they grew quite hot and angry. 

' He is a perfect horror ! ' screamed the Cactus. 
' Why, he is twisted and stumpy, and his head 
is completely out of proportion with his legs. 
Really he makes me feel prickly all over, and if 
he comes near me I will sting him with my 
thorns.' 

47 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

'And he has actually got one of my best 
blooms,' exclaimed the White Rose-Tree. ' I 
gave it to the Infanta this morning myself, as 
a birthday present, and he has stolen it from 
her.' And she called out : * Thief, thief, thief! ' 
at the top of her voice. 

Even the red Geraniums, who did not usually 
give themselves airs, and were known to have 
a great many poor relations themselves, curled 
up in disgust when they saw him, and when the 
Violets meekly remarked that though he was 
certainly extremely plain, still he could not help 
it, they retorted with a good deal of justice that 
that was his chief defect, and that there was no 
reason why one should admire a person because 
he was incurable ; and, indeed, some of the 
Violets themselves felt that the ugliness of the 
little Dwarf was almost ostentatious, and that 
he would have shown much better taste if he 
had looked sad, or at least pensive, instead of 
jumping about merrily, and throwing himself 
into such grotesque and silly attitudes. 

As for the old Sundial, who was an extremely 
remarkable individual, and had once told the 
time of day to no less a person than the Emperor 
Charles v. himself, he was so taken aback by 
the little Dwarf's appearance, that he almost 
48 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

forgot to mark two whole minutes with his long 
shadowy finger, and could not help saying to 
the great milk-white Peacock, who was sunning 
h&elf on the balustrade, that every one knew 
that the children of Kings were Kings, and that 
the children of charcoal-burners were charcoal- 
burners, and that it was absurd to pretend that 
it wasn't so ; a statement with which the Pea- 
cock entirely agreed, and indeed screamed out, 
' Certainly, certainly,' in such a loud, harsh 
voice, that the gold-fish who lived in the basin 
of the cool splashing fountain put their heads 
out of the water, and asked the huge stone 
Tritons what on earth was the matter. 

But somehow the Birds liked him. They had 
seen him often in the forest, dancing about like 
an elf after the eddying leaves, or crouched up 
in the hollow of some old oak-tree, sharing his 
nuts with the squirrels. They did not mind his 
being ugly, a bit. Why, even the nightingale 
herself, who sang so sweetly in the orange groves 
at night that sometimes the Moon leaned down 
to listen, was not much to look at after all ; 
and, besides, he had been kind to them, and 
during that terribly bitter winter, when there 
were no berries on the trees, and the ground 
was as hard as iron, and the wolves had come 

D 49 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

down to the very gates of the city to look for 
food, he had never once forgotten them, but 
had always given them crumbs out of his little 
hunch of black bread, and divided with them 
whatever poor breakfast he had. 

So they flew round and round him, just 
touching his cheek with their wings as they 
passed, and chattered to each other, and the 
little Dwarf was so pleased that he could not 
help showing them the beautiful white rose, and 
telling them that the Infanta herself had given 
it to him because she loved him. 

.They did not understand a single word of 
what he was saying, but that made no matter, 
for they put their heads on one side, and looked 
wise, which is quite as good as understanding 
a thing, and very much easier. 

The Lizards also took an immense fancy to 
him, and when he grew tired of running about 
and flung himself down on the grass to rest, 
they played and romped all over him, and tried 
to amuse him in the best way they could. 
'Every one cannot be as beautiful as a lizard,' 
they cried ; ' that would be too much to expect. 
And, though it sounds absurd to say so, he is 
really not so ugly after all, provided, of course, 
that one shuts one's eyes, and does not look at 
50 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

him.' The Lizards were extremely philosophical 
by nature, and often sat thinking for hours and 
hours together, when there was nothing else to 
do, or when the weather was too rainy for them 
to go out. 

The Flowers, however, were excessively 
annoyed at their behaviour, and at the behaviour 
of the birds. * It only shows,' they said, * what 
a vulgarising effect this incessant rushing and 
flying about has. Well-bred people always 
stay exactly in the same place, as we do. No 
one ever saw us hopping up and down the 
walks, or galloping madly through the grass 
after dragon-flies. When we do want change 
of air, we send for the gardener, and he carries 
us to another bed. This is dignified, and as it 
should be. But birds and lizards have no sense 
of repose, and indeed birds have not even a 
permanent address. They are mere vagrants 
like the gipsies, and should be treated in exactly 
the same manner.' So they put their noses in 
the air, and looked very haughty, and were quite 
delighted when after some time they saw the 
little Dwarf scramble up from the grass, and 
make his way across the terrace to the palace. . 

' He should certainly be kept indoors for the 
rest of his natural life,' they said. ' Look at his 

51 



hunched back, and his crooked legs,' and they 
began to titter. 

But the little Dwarf knew nothing of all this. 
He liked the birds and the lizards immensely, 
and thought that the flowers were the most 
marvellous things in the whole world, except of 
course the Infanta, but then she had given him 
the beautiful white rose, and she loved him, and 
that made a great difference. How he wished 
that he had gone back with her I She would 
have put him on her right hand, and smiled at 
him, and he would have never left her side, but 
would have made her his playmate, and taught 
her all kinds of delightful tricks. For though 
he had never been in a palace before, he knew a 
great many wonderful things. He could make 
little cages out of rushes for the grasshoppers to 
sing in, and fashion the long-jointed bamboo 
into the pipe that Pan loves to hear. He knew 
the cry of every bird, and could call the starlings 
from the tree-top, or the heron from the mere. 
He knew the trail of every animal, and could 
Wtf^ track the hare by its delicate footprints, and 

1 fW 

the boar by the trampled leaves. All the wild- 
dances he knew, the mad dance in red raiment 
with the autumn, the light dance in blue sandals 
over the corn, the dance with white snow- 
52 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

wreaths in winter, and the blossom-dance through 
the orchards in spring. He knew where the 
wood-pigeons built their nests, and once when 
a fowler had snared the parent birds, he had 
brought up the young ones himself, and had 
built a little dovecot for them in the cleft of a 
pollard elm. They were quite tame, and used 
to feed out of his hands every morning. She 
would like them, and the rabbits that scurried 
about in the long fern, and the jays with their 
steely feathers and black bills, andjthe hedge- 
hogs- that eotild ^rl themselves up into prickly 
balis, and the great wise tortoises that crawled 
slowly about, shaking their heads and nibbling 
at the young leaves. Yes, she must certainly 
come to the forest and play with him. He 
would give her his own little bed, and would 
watch outside the window till dawn, to see that 
the wild horned cattle did not harm her, nor 
the gaunt wolves creep too near the hut. And 
at dawn he would tap at the shutters and wake 
her, and they would go out and dance together 
all the day long. It was really not a bit lonely 
in the forest. Sometimes a Bishop rode through 
on his white mule, reading out of a painted 
book. Sometimes in their green velvet caps, 
and their jerkins of tanned deerskin, the falconers 

53 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

passed by, with hooded hawks on their wrists. 
At vintage-time came the grape-treaders, with 
purple hands and feet, wreathed with glossy ivy 
and carrying dripping skins of wine ; and the 
charcoal-burners sat round their huge braziers 
at night, watching the dry logs charring slowly 
in the fire, and roasting chestnuts in the ashes, 
and the robbers came out of their caves and 
made merry with them. Once, too, he had seen 
a beautiful procession winding up the long dusty 
road to Toledo. The monks went in front sing- 
ing sweetly, and carrying bright banners and 
crosses of gold, and then, in silver armour, with 
matchlocks and pikes, came the soldiers, and in 
their midst walked three barefooted men, in 
strange yellow dresses painted all over with 
wonderful figures, and carrying lighted candles 
in their hands. Certainly there was a great deal 
to look at in the forest, and when she was tired 
he would find a soft bank of moss for her, or 
carry her in his arms, for he was very strong, 
though he knew that he was not tall. He would 
make her a necklace of red bryony berries, that 
would be quite as pretty as the white berries 
that she wore on her dress, and when she was 
tired of them, she could throw them away, and 
he would find her others. He would bring her 
54 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

acorn-cups and dew-drenched anemones, and tiny 
glow-worms to be stars in the pale gold of her hair. 

But where was she ? He asked the white 
rose, and it made him no answer. The whole 
palace seemed asleep, and even where the 
shutters had not been closed, heavy curtains 
had been drawn across the windows to keep out 
the glare. He wandered all round looking for 
some place throbgh which he might gain an 
entrance, and at last he caught sight of a little 
private door that was lying open. He slipped 
through, and found himself in a splendid hall, 
far more splendid, he feared, than the forest, 
there was so much more gilding everywhere, 
and even the floor was made of great coloured 
stones, fitted together into a sort of geometrical 
pattern. But the little Infanta was not there, 
only some wonderful white statues that looked 
down on him from their jasper pedestals, with 
sad blank eyes and strangely smiling lips. 

At the end of the hall hung a richly em- 
broidered curtain of black velvet, powdered with 
suns and stars, the King's favourite devices, and 
broidered on the colour he loved best. Perhaps 
she was hiding behind that ? He would try at 
any rate. 

55 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

So he stole quietly across, and drew it aside. 
No ; there was only another room, though a 
prettier room, he thought, than the one he had 
just left. The walls were hung with a many- 
figured green arras of needle-wrought tapestry 
representing a hunt, the work of some Flemish 
artists who had spent more than seven years in 
its composition. It had once been the chamber 
of Jean le Fou, as he was called, that mad King 
who was so enamoured of the chase, that he 
had often tried in his delirium to mount the 
huge rearing horses, and to drag down the stag 
on which the great hounds were leaping, sound- 
ing his hunting horn, and stabbing with his 
dagger at the pale flying deer. It was now 
used as the council-room, and on the centre 
table were lying the red portfolios of the 
ministers, stamped with the gold tulips of Spain, 
and with the arms and emblems of the house 
of Hapsburg. 

The little Dwarf looked in wonder all round 
him, and was half-afraid to go on. The strange 
silent horsemen that galloped so swiftly through 
the long glades without making any noise, 
seemed to him like those terrible phantoms of 
whom he had heard the charcoal-burners speak- 
ing the Comprachos, who hunt only at night, 
56 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

and if they meet a man, turn him into a hind, 
and chase him. But he thought of the pretty 
Infanta, and took courage. He wanted to find' 
her alone, and to tell her that he too loved her. 
Perhaps she was in the room beyond. 

He ran across the soft Moorish carpets, and 
opened the door. No ! She was not here either. 
The room was quite empty. 

It was a throne-room, used for the reception 
of foreign ambassadors, when the King, which 
of late had not been often, consented to give 
them a personal audience ; the same room in 
which, many years before, envoys had appeared 
from England to make arrangements for the 
marriage of their Queen, then one of the Catholic 
sovereigns of Europe, with the Emperor's eldest 
son. The hangings were of gilt Cordovan 
leather, and a heavy gilt chandelier with branches 
for three hundred wax lights hung down from 
the black and white ceiling. Underneath a great 
canopy of gold cloth, on which the lions and 
towers of Castile were broidered in seed pearls, 
stood the throne itself, covered with a rich pall 
of black velvet studded with silver tulips and 
elaborately fringed with silver and pearls. On 
the second step of the throne was placed the 
kneeling-stool of the Infanta, with its cushion 

57 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

of cloth of silver tissue, and below that again, 
and beyond the limit of the canopy, stood the 
chair for the Papal Nuncio, who alone had the 
right to be seated in the King's presence on the 
occasion of any public ceremonial, and whose 
Cardinal's hat, with its tangled scarlet tassels, 
lay on a purple tabouret in front. On the wall, 
facing the throne, hung a life-sized portrait of 
Charles v. in hunting dress, with a great mastiff 
by his side, and a picture of Philip n. receiving 
the homage of the Netherlands occupied the 
centre of the other wall. Between the windows 
stood a black ebony cabinet, inlaid with plates 
of ivory, on which the figures from Holbein's 
Dance of Death had been graved by the 
hand, some said, of that famous master himself. 
But the little Dwarf cared nothing for all 
this magnificence. He would not have given' 
his rose for all the pearls on the canopy, nor 
one white petal of his rose for the throne itself. 
What he wanted was to see the Infanta before 
she went down to the pavilion, and to ask her 
to come away with him when he had finished 
his dance. Here, in the Palace, the air was 
close and heavy, but in the forest the wind blew 
free, and the sunlight with wandering hands of 
gold moved the tremulous leaves aside. There 
58 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

were flowers, too, in the forest, not so splendid, 
perhaps, as the flowers in the garden, but more 
sweetly scented for all that ; hyacinths in early 
spring that flooded with waving purple the cool 
glens, and grassy knolls ; yellow primroses that 
nestled in little clumps round the gnarled roots 
of the oak-trees; bright celandine, and blue 
speedwell, and irises lilac and gold. There were 
grey catkins on the hazels, and the fox-gloves 
drooped with the weight of their dappled bee- 
haunted cells. The chestnut had its spires of 
white stars, and the hawthorn its pallid moons 
of beauty. Yes : surely she would come if he- 
could only find her ! She would come with him 
to the fair forest, and all day long he would 
dance for her delight. A smile lit up his eyes 
at the thought, and he passed into the next 
room. 

Of all the rooms this was the brightest and 
the most beautiful. The walls were covered 
with a pink-flowered Lucca damask, patterned 
with birds and dotted with dainty blossoms of 
silver; the furniture was of massive silver, 
festooned with florid wreaths, and swinging 
Cupids ; in front of the two large fire-places 
stood great screens broidered with parrots and 
peacocks, and the floor, which was of sea-green 

59 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

onyx, seemed to stretch far away into the dis- 
tance. Nor was he alone. Standing under the 
shadow of the doorway, at the extreme end of 
the room, he saw a little figure watching him. 
His heart trembled, a cry of joy broke from his 
lips, and he moved out into the sunlight. As 
he did so, the figure moved out also, and he saw 
it plainly. 

The Infanta! It was a monster, the most- 
grotesque monster he had ever beheld. Not 
properly shaped, as all other people were, but 
hunchbacked, and crooked-limbed, with huge 
lolling head and mane of black hair. The little 
Dwarf frowned, and the monster frowned also. 
He laughed, and it laughed with him, and held 
its hands to its sides, just as he himself was 
doing. He made it a mocking bow, and it 
returned him a low reverence. He went towards 
it, and it came to meet him, copying eacli step 
that he made, and stopping when he stopped 
himself. He shouted with amusement, and ran 
forward, and reached out his hand, and the 
hand of the monster touched his, and it was as 
cold as ice. He grew afraid, and moved his 
hand across, and the monster's hand followed it 
quickly. He tried to press on, but something 
smooth and hard stopped him. The face of the 
60 



monster was now close to his own, and seemed 
full of terror. He brushed his hair off his eyes. 
It imitated him. He struck at it, and it returned 
blow for blow. He loathed it, and it made 
hideous faces at him. He drew back, and it 
retreated. 

What is it ? He thought for a moment, and 
looked round at the rest of the room. It was 
strange, but everything seemed to have its 
double in this invisible wall of clear water. Yes, 
picture for picture was repeated, and couch for 
couch. The sleeping Faun that lay in the alcove 
by the doorway had its twin brother that slum- 
bered, and the silver Venus that stood in the 
sunlight held out her arms to a Venus as lovely 
as herself. 

Was it Echo ? He had called to her once in 
the valley, and she had answered him word for 
word. Could she mock the eye, as she mocked 
the voice ? Could she make a mimic world just 
like the real world ? Could the shadows of 
things have colour and life and movement? 
Could it be that ? 

He started, and taking from his breast the 
beautiful white rose, he turned round, and 
kissed it. The monster had a rose of its own, 
petal for petal the same ! It kissed it with like 

61 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

kisses, and pressed it to its heart with horrible 
gestures. 

When the truth dawned upon him, he gave 
a wild cry ofcfespair, and fell sobbing to the 
ground. So it was he who was misshapen and 
hunchbacked, foul to look at and grotesque. 
He himself was the monster, and it was at him 
that all the children had been laughing, and the 
little Princess who he had thought loved him 
she too had been merely mocking at his ugli- 
ness, and making merry over his twisted limbs. 
Why had they not left him in the forest, where 
there was no mirror to tell him how loathsome 
he was ? Why had his father not killed him, 
rather than sell him to his shame ? The hot 
tears poured down his cheeks, and he tore the 
white rose to pieces. The sprawling monster 
did the same, and scattered the faint petals in 
the air. It grovelled on the ground, and, when 
he looked at it, it watched him with a face 
drawn with pain. He crept away, lest he should 
see it, and covered his eyes with his hands. He 
crawled, like some wounded thing, into the 
shadow, and lay there moaning. 

And at that moment the Infanta herself came 
in with her companions through the open 
window, and when they saw the ugly little 
62 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

dwarf lying on the ground and beating the floor 
with his clenched hands, in the most fantastic 
and exaggerated manner, they went off into 
shouts of happy laughter, and stood all round 
him and watched him. 

* His dancing was funny,' said the Infanta ; 
' but his acting is funnier still. Indeed he is 
almost as good as the puppets, only of course-- 
not quite so natural.' And she fluttered her 
big fan, and applauded. 

But the little Dwarf never looked up, and his 
sobs grew fainter and fainter, and suddenly he 
gave a curious gasp, and clutched his side. And 
then he fell back again, and lay quite still. 

'That is capital,' said the Infanta, after a 
pause ; ' but now you must dance for me.' 

* Yes,' cried all the children, ' you must get 
up and dance, for you are as clever as the 
Barbary apes, and much more ridiculous.' 

But the little Dwarf made no answer. 

Arid the Infanta stamped her foot, and called 
out to her uncle, who was walking on the terrace 
with the Chamberlain, reading some despatches 
that had just arrived from Mexico, where the 
Holy Office had recently been established. ' My 
funny little dwarf is sulking,' she cried, 'you must 
wake him up, and tell him to dance for me.' 

63 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

They smiled at each other, and sauntered in, 
and Don Pedro stooped down, and slapped the 
Dwarf on the cheek with his embroidered glove. 
' You must dance,' he said, ' petit monstre. You 
must dance. The Infanta of Spain and the 
Indies wishes to be amused.' 

But the little Dwarf never moved. 

* A whipping master should be sent for,' said 
Don Pedro wearily, and he went back to the 
terrace. But the Chamberlain looked grave, 
and he knelt beside the little dwarf, and put his 
hand upon his heart. And after a few moments 
he shrugged his shoulders, and rose up, and 
having made a low bow to the Infanta, he said 

*Mi bella Princesa, your funny little dwarf 
will never dance again. It is a pity, for he is 
so ugly that he might have made the King 
smile.' 

* But why will he not dance again ? ' asked 
the Infanta, laughing. 

* Because his heart is broken,' answered the 
Chamberlain. 

And the Infanta frowned, and her dainty 
rose-leaf lips curled in pretty disdain. ' For the 
future let those who come to play with me have 
no hearts,' she cried, and she ran out into the 
garden. 
64 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 



65 



TO H.S.H. 

ALICE, PRINCESS 
OF MONACO 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

EVERY evening the young Fisherman 
went out upon the sea, and threw his 
nets into the water. 

When the wind blew from the land he caught 
nothing, or but little at best, for it was a bitter 
and black- winged wind, and rough waves rose 
up to meet it. But when the wind blew to the 
shore, the fish came in from the deep, and swam 
into the meshes of his nets, and he took them 
to the market-place and sold them. 

Every evening he went out upon the sea, and 
one evening the net was so heavy that hardly 
could he draw it into the boat. And he laughed, 
and said to himself, ' Surely I have caught all 
the fish that swim, or snared some dull monster 
that will be a marvel to men, or some thing of 
horror that the great Queen will desire,' and 
putting forth all his strength, he tugged at the 
coarse ropes till, like lines of blue enamel round 
a vase of bronze, the long veins rose up on his 

67 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

arms. He tugged at the thin ropes, and nearer 
and nearer came the circle of flat corks, and the 
net rose at last to the top of the water. 

But no fish at all was in it, nor any monster 
or thing of horror, but only a little Mermaid 
lying fast asleep. 

Her hair was as a wet fleece of gold, and each 
separate hair as a thread of fine gold in a cup of 
glass. Her body was as white ivory, and her 
tail was of silver and pearl. Silver and pearl 
was her tail, and the green weeds of the sea 
coiled round it ; and like sea-shells were her 
ears, and her lips were like sea-coral. The cold 
waves dashed over her cold breasts, and the salt 
glistened upon her eyelids. 

So beautiful was she that when the young 
Fisherman saw her he was filled with wonder, 
and he put out his hand and drew the net close 
to him, and leaning over the side he clasped 
her in his arms. And when he touched her, she 
gave a cry like a startled sea-gull, and woke, 
and looked at him in terror with her mauve- 
amethyst eyes, and struggled that she might 
escape. But he held her tightly to him, and 
would not suffer her to depart. 

And when she saw that she could in no way 
escape from him, she began to weep, and said, 
68 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

* I pray thee let me go, for I am the only 
daughter of a King, and my father is aged and 
alone.' 

But the young Fisherman answered, ' I will- 
not let thee go save thou makest me a promise 
that whenever I call thee, thou wilt come and 
sing to me, for the fish delight to listen to the 
song of the Sea-folk, and so shall my nets be 
full.' 

' Wilt thou in very truth let me go, if I 
promise thee this ? ' cried the Mermaid. 

* In very truth I will let thee go,' said the 
young Fisherman. 

So she made him the promise he desired, 
and sware it by the oath of the Sea-folk. And 
he loosened his arms from about her, and she 
sank down into the water, trembling with a 
strange fear. 

Every evening the young Fisherman went out 
upon the sea, and called to the Mermaid, and 
she rose out of the water and sang to him. 
Round and round her swam the dolphins, and 
the wild gulls wheeled above her head. 

And she sang a marvellous song. For she 
sang of the Sea-folk who drive their flocks from 
cave to cave, and carry the little calves on their 

69 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

shoulders ; of the Tritons who have long green 
beards, and hairy breasts, and blow through 
twisted conchs when the King passes by ; of the 
palace of the King which is all of amber, with a 
roof of clear emerald, and a pavement of bright 
pearl ; and of the gardens of the sea where the 
great filigrane fans of coral wave all day long, 
and the fish dart about like silver birds, and the 
anemones cling to the rocks, and the pinks 
bourgeon in the ribbed yellow sand. She sang 
of the big whales that come down from the 
north seas and have sharp icicles hanging to 
their fins; of the Sirens who tell of such 
wonderful things that the merchants have to 
stop their ears with wax lest they should hear 
them, and leap into the water and be drowned ; 
of the sunken galleys with their tall masts, and 
the frozen sailors clinging to the rigging, and 
the mackerel swimming in and out of the open 
portholes ; of the little barnacles who are great 
travellers, and cling to the keels of the ships 
and go round and round the world ; and of the 
cuttlefish who live in the sides of the cliffs and 
stretch out their long black arms, and can make 
night come when they will it. She sang of the 
nautilus who has a boat of her own that is carved 
out of an opal and steered with a silken sail ; of 
70 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

the happy Mermen who play upon harps and 
can charm the great Kraken to sleep ; of the 
little children who catch hold of the slippery 
porpoises and ride laughing upon their backs ; 
of the Mermaids who lie in the white foam and 
hold out their arms to the mariners ; and of the 
sea-lions with their curved tusks, and the sea- 
horses with their floating manes. 

And as she sang, all the tunny-fish came in 
from the deep to listen to her, and the young 
Fisherman threw his nets round them and 
caught them, and others he took with a spear. 
And when his boat was well-laden, the Mer- 
maid would sink down into the sea, smiling at 
him. 

Yet would she never come near him that he- 
might touch her. Oftentimes he called to her 
and prayed of her, but she would not ; and when 
he sought to seize her she dived into the water 
as a seal might dive, nor did he see her again 
that day. And each day the sound of her voice 
became sweeter to his ears. So sweet was her 
voice that he forgot his nets and his cunning, 
and had no care of his craft. Vermilion-finned 
and with eyes of bossy gold, the tunnies went 
by in shoals, but he heeded them not. His 
spear lay by his side unused, and his baskets of 

71 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

plaited osier were empty. With lips parted, 
and eyes dim with wonder, he sat idle in his 
boat and listened, listening till the sea-mists 
crept round him, and the wandering moon 
stained his brown limbs with silver. 

And one evening he called to her, and said : 
* Little Mermaid, little Mermaid, I love thee. 
Take me for thy bridegroom, for I love thee.' 

But the Mermaid shook her head. * Thou 
hast a human soul,' she answered. ' If only 
thou wouldst send away thy soul, then could 
I love thee.' 

And the young Fisherman said to himself, 
' Of what use is my soul to me ? I cannot see 
it. I may not touch, it. I do not know it. 
Surely I will send it away from me, and much 
gladness shall be mine.' And a cry of joy broke 
from his lips, and standing up in the painted 
boat, he held out his arms to the Mermaid. ' I 
will send my soul away,' he cried, ' and you shall 
be my bride, and I will be thy bridegroom, and 
in the depth of the sea we will dwell together, 
and all that thou hast sung of thou shalt show 
me, and all that thou desirest I will do, nor shall 
our lives be divided.' 

And the little Mermaid laughed for pleasure, 
and hid her face in her hands. 
72 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

' But how shall I send my soul from me ? ' 
cried the young Fisherman. ' Tell me how I 
may do it, and lo ! it shall be done.' 

* Alas ! I know not,' said the little Mermaid : 
'the Sea-folk have no souls.' And she sank 
down into the deep, looking wistfully at him. 

Now early on the next morning, before the 
sun was the span of a man's hand above the hill, 
the young Fisherman went to the house of the 
Priest and knocked three times at the door. 

^The novice looked out through the wicket, 
and when he saw who it was, he drew back the 
latch and said to him, ' Enter.' 

And the young Fisherman passed in, and 
knelt down on the sweet-smelling rushes of the 
floor, and cried to the Priest who was reading 
out of the Holy Book and said to him, ' Father, 
I am in love with one of the Sea-folk, and my 
soul hindereth me from having my desire. Tell 
me how I can send my soul away from me, for 
in truth I have no need of it. Of what value 
is my soul to me ? I cannot see it. I may not 
touch it. I do not know it.' 

And the Priest beat his breast, and answered, 
* Alack, alack, thou art mad, or hast eaten of 
some poisonous herb, for the soul is the noblest 

73 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

part of man, and was given to us by God that 
we should nobly use it. There is no thing more 
precious than a human soul, nor any earthly 
thing that can be weighed with it. It is worth 
all the gold that is in the world, and is more 
precious than the rubies of the kings. There- 
fore, my son, think not any more of this matter, 
for it is a sin that may not be forgiven. And 
as for the Sea-folk, they are lost, and they who 
would traffic with them are lost also. They are 
as the beasts of the field that know not good 
from evil, and for them the Lord has not died.' 

The young Fisherman's eyes filled with tears 
when he heard the bitter words of the Priest, 
and he rose up from his knees and said to him, 
* Father, the Fauns live in the forest and are 
glad, and on the rocks sit the Mermen with 
their harps of red gold. Let me be as they are, 
I beseech thee, for their days are as the days of 
flowers. And as for my soul, what doth my 
soul profit me, if it stand between me and the 
thing that I love ? ' 

* The love of the body is vile,' cried the Priest, 
knitting his brows, 'and vile and evil are the 
pagan things God suffers to wander through 
His world. Accursed be the Fauns of the 
woodland, and accursed be the singers of the 
74 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

sea ! I have heard them at night-time, and they 
have sought to lure me from my beads. They 
tap at the window, and laugh. They whisper 
into my ears the tale of their perilous joys. 
They tempt me with temptations, and when I 
would pray they make mouths at me. They 
are lost, I tell thee, they are lost. For them 
there is no heaven nor hell, and in neither shall 
they praise God's name.' 

* Father/ cried the young Fisherman, 'thou 
knowest not what thou sayest. Once in my 
net I snared the daughter of a King. She is 
fairer than the morning star, and whiter than 
the moon. For her body I would give my soul, 
and for her love I would surrender heaven. 
Tell me what I ask of thee, and let me go in 
peace.' 

' Away ! Away ! ' cried the Priest : * thy 
leman is lost, and thou shalt be lost with her.' 
And he gave him no blessing, but drove him 
from his door. 

And the young Fisherman went down into 
the market-place, and he walked slowly, and 
with bowed head, as one who is in sorrow. 

And when the merchants saw him coming, 
they began to whisper to each other, and one of 
them came forth to meet him, and called him 

75 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

by name, and said to him, ' What hast thou to 
sell?' 

* I will sell thee my soul,' he answered : ' I>- 
pray thee buy it of me, for I am weary of it. 
Of what use is my soul to me ? I cannot see it. 
I may not touch it. I do not know it.* 

But the merchants mocked at him, and said, 

* Of what use is a man's soul to us ? It is not 
worth a clipped piece of silver. Sell us thy 
body for a slave, and we will clothe thee in sea- 
purple, and put a ring upon thy finger, and 
make thee the minion of the great Queen. But 
talk not of the soul, for to us it is nought, nor 
has it any value for our service.' 

And the young Fisherman said to himself: 

* How strange a thing this is! The Priest telleth 
me that the soul is worth all the gold in the 
world, and the merchants say that it is not 
worth a clipped piece of silver.' And he passed 
out of the market-place, and went down to the 
shore of the sea, and began to ponder on what 
he should do. 

And at noon he remembered how one of his 

companions, who was a gatherer of samphire, 

had told him of a certain young Witch who 

dwelt in a cave at the head of the bay and was 

76 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

very cunning in her witcheries. And he set to 
and ran, so eager was he to get rid of his soul, 
and a cloud of dust followed him as he sped 
round the sand of the shore. By the itching of 
her palm the young Witch knew his coming, 
and she laughed and let down her red hair. 
With her red hair falling around her, she stood 
at the opening of the cave, and in her hand she 
had a spray of wild hemlock that was blossoming. 
What d'ye lack? What d'ye lack?' she 
cried, as he came panting up the steep, and bent 
down before her. ' Fish for thy net, when the 
wind is foul ? I have a little reed-pipe, and 
when I blow on it the mullet come sailing into 
the bay. But it has a price, pretty boy, it has 
a price. What d' ye lack ? What d' ye lack ? 
A storm to wreck the ships, and wash the chests 
of rich treasure ashore? I have more storms 
than the wind has, for I serve one who is stronger 
than the wind, and with a sieve and a pail of 
water I can send the great galleys to the bottom 
of the sea. But I have a price, pretty boy, I 
have a price. What d'ye lack? What d'ye 
lack ? I know a flower that grows in the valjey, 
none knows it but I. It has purple leaves, and 
a star in its heart, and its juice is as white as 
milk. Shouldst thou touch with this flower 

77 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

the hard lips of the Queen, she would follow 
thee all over the world. Out of the bed of the 
King she would rise, and over the whole world 
she would follow thee. And it has a price, 
pretty boy, it has a price. What d' ye lack ? 
What d' ye lack ? I can pound a toad in a 
mortar, and make broth of it, and stir the broth 
with a dead man's hand. Sprinkle it on thine 
enemy while he sleeps, and he will turn into a 
black viper, and his own mother will slay him. 
With a wheel I can draw the Moon from heaven, 
and in a crystal I can show thee Death. What 
d'ye lack? What d'ye lack? Tell me thy 
desire, and I will give it thee, and thou shalt 
pay me a price, pretty boy, thou shalt pay me 
a price.' 

' My desire is but for a little thing,' said the 
young Fisherman, 'yet hath the Priest been 
wroth with me, and driven me forth. It is but 
for a little thing, and the merchants have mocked 
at me, and denied me. Therefore am I come 
to thee, though men call thee evil, and whatever 
be thy price I shall pay it.' 

' What wouldst thou ? ' asked the Witch, 
coming near to him. 

* I would send my soul away from m*e,' 
answered the young Fisherman. 
78 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

The Witch grew pale, and shuddered, and 
hid her face in her blue mantle. * Pretty boy, 
pretty boy,' she muttered, 'that is a terrible 
thing to do.' 

He tossed his brown curls and laughed. 
* My soul is nought to me,' he answered. ' I 
cannot see it. I may not touch it. I do not 
know it.' 

' What wilt thou give me if I tell thee ? ' 
asked the Witch, looking down at him with her 
beautiful eyes. 

' Five pieces of gold,' he said, ' and my nets, 
and the wattled house where I live, and the 
painted boat in which I sail. Only tell me how 
to get rid of my soul, and I will give thee all 
that I possess.' 

She laughed mockingly at him, and struck 
him with the spray of hemlock. ' I can turn 
the autumn leaves into gold,' she answered, 
'and I can weave the pale moonbeams into 
silver if I will it. He whom I serve is richer 
than all the kings of this world, and has their 
dominions/ 

'What then shall I give thee,' he cried, 'if 
thy price be neither gold nor silver ? ' 

The Witch stroked his hair with her thin 
white hand. ' Thou must dance with me, pretty 

79 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

boy,' she murmured, and she smiled at him as 
she spoke. 

* Nought but that ? ' cried the young Fisher- 
man in wonder, and he rose to his feet. 

* Nought but that,' she answered, and she 
smiled at him again. 

' Then at sunset in some secret place we shall 
dance together,' he said, ' and after that we have 
danced thou shalt tell me the thing which I 
desire to know.' 

She shook her head. * When the moon is full, 
when the moon is full,' she muttered. Then she 
peered all round, and listened. A blue bird 
rose screaming from its nest and circled over the 
dunes, and three spotted birds rustled through 
the coarse grey grass and whistled to each other. 
There was no other sound save the sound of 
a wave fretting the smooth pebbles below. So 
she reached out her hand, and drew him near to 
her and put her dry lips close to his ear. 

' To-night thou must come to the top of the 
mountain,' she whispered. * It is a Sabbath, 
and He will be there.' 

The young Fisherman started and looked at 
her, and she showed her white teeth and laughed. 
' Who is He of whom thou speakest ? ' he asked. 

* It matters not,' she answered. ' Go thou 

80 






THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

to-night, and stand under the branches of the 
hornbeam, and wait for my coming. If a black 
dog run towards thee, strike it with a rod of 
willow, and it will go away. If an owl speak 
to thee, make it no answer. When the moon- 
is full I shall be with thee, and we will dance 
together on the grass.' 

' But wilt thou swear to me to tell me how I 
may send my soul from me ? ' he made question. 

She moved out into the sunlight, and through 
her red hair rippled the wind. 'By the hoofs 
of the goat I swear it,' she made answer. 

* Thou art the best of the witches,' cried the 
young Fisherman, 'and I will surely dance with 
thee to-night on the top of the mountain. I 
would indeed that thou hadst asked of me either 
gold or silver. But such as thy price is thou 
shalt have it, for it is but a little thing.' And 
he doffed his cap to her, and bent his head low, 
and ran back to the town filled with a great 



And the Witch watched him as he went, and 
when he had passed from her sight she entered 
her cave, and having taken a mirror from a box 
of carved cedarwood, she set it up on a frame, 
and burned vervain on lighted charcoal before 
it, and peered through the coils of the smoke. 

F 81 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

And after a time she clenched her hands in 
anger. ' He should have been mine,' she 
muttered, ' I am as fair as she is.' 

And that evening, when the moon had risen, 
the young Fisherman climbed up to the top of 
the mountain, and stood under the branches of 
the hornbeam. Like a targe of polished metal 
the round sea lay at his feet, and the shadows 
of the fishing boats moved in the little bay. A 
great owl, with yellow sulphurous eyes, called 
to him by his name, but he made it no answer. 
A black dog ran towards him and snarled. He 
struck it with a rod of willow, and it went away 
whining. 

At midnight the witches came flying through 
the air like bats. ' Phew ! ' they cried, as they 
lit upon the ground, ' there is some one here we 
know not! ' and they sniffed about, and chattered 
to each other, and made signs. Last of all came 
the young Witch, with her red hair streaming 
in the wind. She wore a dress of gold tissue 
embroidered with peacocks' eyes, and a little 
cap of green velvet was on her head. 

* Where is he, where is he ? ' shrieked the 
witches when they saw her, but she only laughed, 
and ran to the hornbeam, and taking the Fisher- 
82 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

man by the hand she led him out into the 
moonlight and began to dance. 

Round and round they whirled, and the young 
Witch jumped so high that he could see the 
scarlet heels of her shoes. Then right across 
the dancers came the sound of the galloping 
of a horse, but no horse was to be seen, and he 
felt afraid. 

* Faster/ cried the Witch, and she threw her 
arms about his neck, and her breath was hot 
upon his face. ' Faster, faster ! ' she cried, and 
the earth seemed to spin beneath his feet, and 
his brain grew troubled, and a great terror fell 
on him, as of some evil thing that was watching 
him, and at last he became aware that under 
the shadow of a rock there was a figure that 
had not been there before. 

It was a man dressed in a suit of black velvet, 
cut in the Spanish fashion. His face was 
strangely pale, but his lips were like a proud 
red flower. He seemed weary, and was leaning 
back toying in a listless manner with the pommel 
of his dagger. On the grass beside him lay a 
plumed hat, and a pair of riding-gloves gaunt- 
leted with gilt lace, and sewn with seed-pearls 
wrought into a curious device. A short cloak 
lined with sables hung from his shoulder, and 

83 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

his delicate white hands were gemmed with 
rings. Heavy eyelids drooped over his eyes. 

The young Fisherman watched him, as one 
snared in a spell. At last their eyes met, and 
wherever he danced it seemed to him that the 
eyes of the man were upon him. He heard the 
Witch laugh, and caught her by the waist, and 
whirled her madly round and round. 

Suddenly a dog bayed in the wood, and the 
dancers stopped, and going up two by two, 
knelt down, and kissed the man's hands. As 
they did so, a little smile touched his proud lips, 
as a bird's wing touches the water and makes it 
laugh. But there was disdain in it. He kept 
looking at the young fisherman. 

' Come ! let us worship,' whispered the Witch, 
and she led him up, and a great desire to do as 
she besought him seized on him, and he followed 
her. But when he came close, and without 
knowing why he did it, he made on his breast 
the sign of the Cross, and called upon the holy 
name. 

No sooner had he done so than the witches 
screamed like hawks and flew away, and the 
pallid face that had been watching him twitched 
with a spasm of pain. The man went over to 
a little wood, and whistled. A jennet with 
84 



silver trappings came running to meet him. As 
he leapt upon the saddle he turned round, and 
looked at the young Fisherman sadly. 

And the Witch with the red hair tried to fly 
away also, but the Fisherman caught her by her 
wrists, and held her fast 

* Loose me,' she cried, * and let me go. For 
thou hast named what should not be named, 
and shown the sign that may not be looked at.' 

* Nay,' he answered, ' but I will not let thee 
go till thou hast told me the secret.' 

' What secret ? ' said the Witch, wrestling 
with him like a wild cat, and biting her foam- 
flecked lips. 

' Thou knowest,' he made answer. 

Her grass-green eyes grew dim with tears, 
and she said to the Fisherman, ' Ask me any- 
thing but that ! ' 

He laughed, and held her all the more tightly. 

And when she saw that she could not free 
herself, she whispered to him, ' Surely I am as 
fair as the daughters of the sea, and as comely 
as those that dwell in the blue waters,' and she 
fawned on him and put her face close to his. 

But he thrust her back frowning, and said to 
her, * If thou keepest not the promise that thou 
madest to me I will slay thee for a false witch.' 

85 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

She grew grey as a blossom of the Judas tree, 
and shuddered. ' Be it so,' she muttered. * It 
is thy soul and not mine. Do with it as thou 
wilt.' And she took from her girdle a little 
knife that had a handle of green viper's skin, 
and gave it to him. 

* What shall this serve me ? ' he asked of her, 
wondering. 

She was silent for a few moments, and a look 
of terror came over her face. Then she brushed 
her hair back from her forehead, and smiling 
strangely she said to him, * What men call the 
shadow of the body is not the shadow of the 
body, but is the body of the soul. Stand on 
the sea-shore with thy back to the moon, and 
cut away from around thy feet thy shadow, 
which is thy soul's body, and bid thy soul leave 
thee, and it will do so.' 

The young Fisherman trembled. 'Is this 
true ? ' he murmured. 

' It is true, and I would that I had not told 
thee of it,' she cried, and she clung to his knees 
weeping. 

He put her from him and left her in the rank 
grass, and going to the edge of the mountain he 
placed the knife in his belt and began to climb 
down. 
86 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

And his Soul that was within him called out 
to him and said, ' Lo 1 I have dwelt with thee 
for all these years, and have been thy servant. 
Send me not away from thee now, for what 
evil have I done thee ? ' 

And the young Fisherman laughed. ' Thou 
hast done me no evil, but I have no need of 
thee,' he answered. 'The world is wide, and 
there is Heaven also, and Hell, and that dim 
twilight house that lies between. Go wherever 
thou wilt, but trouble me not, for my love is 
calling to me.' 

And his Soul besought him piteously, but he 
heeded it not, but leapt from crag to crag, being 
sure-footed as a wild goat, and at last he reached 
the level ground and the yellow shore of the 
sea. 

Bronze-limbed and well-knit, like a statue 
wrought by a Grecian, he stood on the sand 
with his back to the moon, and out of the foam 
came white arms that beckoned to him, and out 
of the waves rose dim forms that did him 
homage. Before him lay his shadow, which 
was the body of his soul, and behind him hung 
the moon in the honey-coloured air. 

And his Soul said to him, ' If indeed thou 
must drive me from thee, send me not forth 

87 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

without a heart. The world is cruel, give me 
thy heart to take with me.' 

He tossed his head and smiled. * With what 
should I love my love if I gave thee my heart ? ' 
he cried. 

* Nay, but be merciful,' said his Soul: 'give 
me thy heart, for the world is very cruel, and I 
am afraid.' 

' My heart is my love's,' he answered, * there- 
fore tarry not, but get thee gone.' 

* Should I not love also ? ' asked his Soul. 

' Get thee gone, for I have no need of thee,' 
cried the young Fisherman, and he took the 
little knife with its handle of green viper's skin, 
and cut away his shadow from around his feet, 
and it rose up and stood before him, and looked 
at him, and it was even as himself. 

He crept back, and thrust the knife into his 
belt, and a feeling of awe came over him. * Get 
thee gone,' he murmured, ' and let me see thy 
face no more.' 

* Nay, but we must meet again,' said the Soul. 
Its voice was low and flute-like, and its lips 
hardly moved while it spake. 

' How shall we meet ? ' cried the young Fisher- 
man. ' Thou wilt not follow me into the depths 
of the sea?' 
88 



' Once every year I will come to this place, 
and call to thee,' said the Soul. * It may be 
that thou wilt have need of me.' 

* What need should I have of thee ? ' cried the 
young Fisherman, * but be it as thou wilt,' and 
he plunged into the water, and the Tritons 
blew their horns, and the little Mermaid rose 
up to meet him, and put her arms around his 
neck and kissed him on the mouth. 

And the Soul stood on the lonely beach and 
watched them. And when they had sunk down 
into the sea, it went weeping away over the 
marshes. 

And after a year was over the Soul came 
down to the shore of the sea and called to the 
young Fisherman, and he rose out of the deep, 
and said, * Why dost thou call to me ? ' 

And the Soul answered, ' Come nearer, that 
I may speak with thee, for I have seen marvel- 
lous things.' 

So he came nearer, and couched in the shallow 
water, and leaned his head upon his hand and 
listened. 

And the Soul said to him, ' When I left thee 
I turned my face to the East and journeyed. 

89 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

From the East cometh everything that is wise. 
Six days I journeyed, and on the morning of 
the seventh day I came to a hill that is in the 
country of the Tartars. I sat down under the 
shade of a tamarisk tree to shelter myself from 
the sun. The land was dry, and burnt up with the 
heat. The people went to and fro over the plain 
like flies crawling upon a disk of polished copper. 

* When it was noon a cloud of red dust rose 
up from the flat rim of the land. When the 
Tartars saw it, they strung their painted bows, 
and having leapt upon their little horses they 
galloped to meet it. The women fled scream- 
ing to the waggons, and hid themselves behind 
the felt curtains. 

' At twilight the Tartars returned, but five of 
them were missing, and of those that came back 
not a few had been wounded. They harnessed 
their horses to the waggons and drove hastily 
away. Three jackals came out of a cave and 
peered after them. Then they sniffed up the 
air with their nostrils, and trotted off in the 
opposite direction. 

'When the moon rose I saw a camp-fire 

burning on the plain, and went towards it. A 

company of merchants were seated round it on 

carpets. Their camels were picketed behind 

90 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

them, and the negroes who were their servants 
were pitching tents of tanned skin upon the 
sand, and making a high wall of the prickly pear. 

* As I came near them, the chief of the mer- 
chants rose up and drew his sword, and asked 
me my business. 

' I answered that I was a Prince in my own 
land, and that I had escaped from the Tartars, 
who had sought to make me their slave. The 
chief smiled, and showed me five heads fixed 
upon long reeds of bamboo. 

* Then he asked me who was the prophet of 
God, and I answered him Mohammed. 

* When he heard the name of the false pro- 
phet, he bowed and took me by the hand, and 
placed me by his side. A negro brought me 
some mare's milk in a wooden dish, and a piece 
of lamb's flesh roasted. 

' At daybreak we started on our journey. I 
rode on a red-haired camel by the side of the 
chief, and a runner ran before us carrying a 
spear. The men of war were on either hand, 
and the mules followed with the merchandise. 
There were forty camels in the caravan, and the 
mules were twice forty in number. 

'We went from the country of the Tartars 
into the country of those who curse the Moon. 
91 



We saw the Gryphons guarding their gold on 
the white rocks, and the scaled Dragons sleeping 
in their caves. As we passed over the mountains 
we held our breath lest the snows might fall on 
us, and each man tied a veil of gauze before his 
eyes. As we passed through the valleys the 
Pygmies shot arrows at us from the hollows of 
the trees, and at night time we heard the wild 
men beating on their drums. When we came 
to the Tower of Apes we set fruits before them, 
and they did not harm us. When we came to 
the Tower of Serpents we gave them warm milk 
in bowls of brass, and they let us go by. Three 
times in our journey we came to the banks of 
the Oxus. We crossed it on rafts of wood with 
great bladders of blown hide. The river-horses 
raged against us and sought to slay us. When 
the camels saw them they trembled. 

* The kings of each city levied tolls on us, 
but would not suffer us to enter their gates. 
They threw us bread over the walls, little maize- 
cakes baked in honey and cakes of fine flour 
filled with dates. For every hundred baskets 
we gave them a bead of amber. 

*When the dwellers in the villages saw us 
coming, they poisoned the wells and fled to the 
hill-summits. We fought with the Magadae 
92 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

who are born old, and grow younger and younger 
every year, and die when they are little children ; 
and with the Laktroi who say that they are the 
sons of tigers, and paint themselves yellow and 
black ; and with the Aurantes who bury their 
dead on the tops of trees, and themselves live 
in dark caverns lest the Sun, who is their god, 
should slay them ; and with the Krimnians who 
worship a crocodile, and give it earrings of green 
glass, and feed it with butter and fresh fowls ; 
and with the Agazonbae, who are dog-faced; 
and with the Sibans, who have horses' feet, and 
run more swiftly than horses. A third of our 
company died in battle, and a third died of want. 
The rest murmured against me, and said that I" 
had brought them an evil fortune. I took a 
horned adder from beneath a stone and let it 
sting me. When they saw that I did not sicken 
they grew afraid. 

' In the fourth month we reached the city of 
Illel. It was night time when we came to the 
grove that is outside the walls, and the air was 
sultry, for the Moon was travelling in Scorpion. 
We took the ripe pomegranates from the trees, 
and brake them, and drank their sweet juices. 
Then we lay down on our carpets and waited 
for the dawn. 

93 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

'And at dawn we rose and knocked at the 
gate of the city. It was wrought out of red 
bronze, and carved with sea-dragons and dragons 
that have wings. The guards looked down from 
the battlements and asked us our business. The 
interpreter of the caravan answered that we had 
come from the island of Syria with much 
merchandise. They took hostages, and told us 
that they would open the gate to us at noon, 
and bade us tarry till then. 

'When it was noon they opened the gate, 
and as we entered in the people came crowding 
out of the houses to look at us, and a crier went 
round the city crying through a shell. We 
stood in the market-place, and the negroes 
uncorded the bales of figured cloths and opened 
the carved chests of sycamore. And when they 
had ended their task, the merchants set forth 
their strange wares, the waxed linen from Egypt 
and the painted linen from the country of the 
Ethiops, the purple sponges from Tyre and the 
blue hangings from Sidon, the cups of cold 
amber and the fine vessels of glass and the 
curious vessels of burnt clay. From the roof 
of a house a company of women watched us. 
One of them wore a mask of gilded leather. 

' And on the first day the priests came and 
94 







THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

bartered with us, and on the second day came 
the nobles, and on the third day came the crafts- 
men and the slaves. And this is their custom 
with all merchants as long as they tarry in the 
city. 

'And we tarried for a moon, and when the 
moon was waning, I wearied and wandered away 
through the streets of the city and came to the 
garden of its god. The priests in their yellow 
robes moved silently through the green trees, 
and on a pavement of black marble stood the 
rose-red house in which the god had his dwelling. 
Its doors were of powdered lacquer, and bulls 
and peacocks were wrought on them in raised 
and polished gold. The tiled roof was of sea- 
green porcelain, and the jutting eaves were 
festooned with little bells. When the white 
doves flew past, they struck the bells with their 
wings and made them tinkle. 

'In front of the temple was a pool of clear 
water paved with veined onyx. I lay down 
beside it, and with my pale fingers I touched 
the broad leaves. One of the priests came 
towards me and stood behind me. He had 
sandals on his feet, one of soft serpent-skin and 
the other of birds' plumage. On his head was 
a mitre of black felt decorated with silver 

95 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

crescents. Seven yellows were woven into his 
robe, and his frizzed hair was stained with 
antimony. 

'After a little while he spake to me, and 
asked me my desire. 

' I told him that my desire was to see the 
god. 

' " The god is hunting," said the priest, looking 
strangely at me with his small slanting eyes. 

' " Tell me in what forest, and I will ride with 
him," I answered. 

' He combed out the soft fringes of his tunic 
with his long pointed nails. " The god is asleep," 
he murmured. 

' " Tell me on what couch, and I will watch 
by him," I answered. 

* " The god is at the feast," he cried. 

' " If the wine be sweet I will drink it with 
him, and if it be bitter I will drink it with him 
also," was my answer. 

* He bowed his head in wonder, and, taking 
me by the hand, he raised me up, and led me 
into the temple. 

* And in the first chamber I saw an idol 
seated on a throne of jasper bordered with great 
orient pearls. It was carved out of ebony, and 
in stature was of the stature of a man. On its 

96 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

forehead was a ruby, and thick oil dripped from 
its hair on to its thighs. Its feet were red with 
the blood of a newly-slain kid, and its loins girt 
with a copper belt that was studded with seven 
beryls. 

* And I said to the priest, " Is this the god ? " 
And he answered me, " This is the god." 

* " Show me the god," I cried, " or I will surely 
slay thee." And I touched his hand, and it 
became withered. 

'And the priest besought me, saying, "Let 
my lord heal his servant, and I will show him 
the god." 

' So I breathed with my breath upon his hand, 
and it became whole again, and he trembled 
and led me into the second chamber, and I saw 
an idol standing on a lotus of jade hung with 
great emeralds. It was carved out of ivory, and 
in stature was twice the stature of a man. On 
its forehead was a chrysolite, and its breasts 
were smeared with myrrh and cinnamon. In 
one hand it held a crooked sceptre of jade, and 
in the other a round crystal. It ware buskins 
of brass, and its thick neck was circled with a 
circle of selenites. 

* And I said to the priest, " Is this the god ? " 
And he answered me, " This is the god." 

G 97 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

* " Show me the god," I cried, " or I will surely 
slay thee." And I touched his eyes, and they 
became blind. 

'And the priest besought me, saying, "Let 
my lord heal his servant, and I will show him 
the god." 

' So I breathed with my breath upon his eyes, 
and the sight came back to them, and he 
trembled again, and led me into the third 
chamber, and lo ! there was no idol in it, nor 
image of any kind, but only a mirror of round 
metal set on an altar of stone. 

' And I said to the priest, " Where is the god ? " 

' And he answered me : " There is no god but 
this mirror that thou seest, for this is the Mirror 
of Wisdom. And it reflecteth all things ttiat 
are in heaven and on earth, save only the face 
of him who looketh into it. This it reflecteth 
not, so that he who looketh into it may be wise. 
Many other mirrors are there, but they are 
mirrors of Opinion. This only is the Mirror of 
Wisdom. And they who possess this mirror 
know everything, nor is there anything hidden 
from them. And they who possess it not have 
not Wisdom. Therefore is it the god, and we 
worship it." And I looked into the mirror, and 
it was even as he had said to me. 
98 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

' And I did a strange thing, but what I did 
matters not, for in a valley that is but a day's 
journey from this place have I hidden the Mirror 
of Wisdom. Do but suffer me to enter into 
thee again and be thy servant, and thou shalt 
be wiser than all the wise men, and Wisdom 
shall be thine. Suffer me to enter into thee, 
and none will be as wise as thou.' 

But the young Fisherman laughed. ' Love 
is better than Wisdom,' he cried, ' and the little 
Mermaid loves me.' 

'Nay, but there is nothing better than 
Wisdom,' said the Soul. 

' Love is better,' answered the young Fisher- 
man, and he plunged into the deep, and the 
Soul went weeping away over the marshes. 

And after the second year was over, the Soul 
came down to the shore of the sea, and called 
to the young Fisherman, and he rose out of the 
deep and said, ' Why dost thou call to me ? ' 

And the Soul answered, ' Come nearer, that I 
may speak with thee, for I have seen marvellous 
things.' 

So he came nearer, and couched in the shallow 
water, and leaned his head upon his hand and 
listened. 

99 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

And the Soul said to him, ' When I left thee, 
I turned my face to the South and journeyed. 
From the South cometh everything that is 
precious. Six days I journeyed along the high- 
ways that lead to the city of Ashter, along the 
dusty red-dyed highways by which the pilgrims 
are wont to go did I journey, and on the morn- 
ing of the seventh day I lifted up my eyes, and 
lo ! the city lay at my feet, for it is in a valley. 

'There are nine gates to this city, and in 
front of each gate stands a bronze horse that 
neighs when the Bedouins come down from the 
mountains. The walls are cased with copper, 
and the watch-towers on the walls are roofed 
with brass. In every tower stands an archer 
with a bow in his hand. At sunrise he strikes 
with an arrow on a gong, and at sunset he blows 
through a horn of horn. 

' When I sought to enter, the guards stopped 
me and asked of me who I was. I made answer 
that I was a Dervish and on my way to the city 
of Mecca, where there was a green veil on which 
the Koran was embroidered in silver letters by 
the hands of the angels. They were filled with 
wonder, and entreated me to pass in. 

' Inside it is even as a bazaar. Surely thou 
shouldst have been with me. Across the narrow 
100 



streets the gay lanterns of paper flutter like 
large butterflies. When the wind blows over 
the roofs they rise and fall as painted bubbles 
do. In front of their booths sit the merchants 
on silken carpets. They have straight black 
beards, and their turbans are covered with golden 
sequins, and long strings of amber and carved 
peach-stones glide through their cool fingers. 
Some of them sell gelbanum and nard, and 
curious perfumes from the islands of the Indian 
Sea, and the thick oil of red roses, and myrrh 
and little nail-shaped cloves. When one stops 
to speak to them, they throw pinches of frank- 
incense upon a charcoal brazier and make the 
air sweet. I saw a Syrian who held in his hands 
a thin rod like a reed. Grey threads of smoke 
came from it, and its odour as it burned was as 
the odour of the pink almond in spring. Others 
sell silver bracelets embossed all over with 
creamy blue turquoise stones, and anklets of 
brass wire fringed with little pearls, and tigers' 
claws set in gold, and the claws of that gilt cat, 
the leopard, set in gold also, and earrings of 
pierced emerald, and finger-rings of hollowed 
jade. From the tea-houses comes the sound of 
the guitar, and the opium-smokers with their 
white smiling faces look out at the passers-by. 

101 ' 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

' Of a truth thou shouldst have been with me. 
The wine-sellers elbow their way through the 
crowd with great black skins on their shoulders. 
Most of them sell the wine of Schiraz, which is 
as sweet as honey. They serve it in little metal 
cups and strew rose leaves upon it. In the 
market-place stand the fruitsellers, who sell all 
kinds of fruit : ripe figs, with their bruised purple 
flesh, melons, smelling of musk and yellow as 
topazes, citrons and rose-apples and clusters of 
white grapes, round red-gold oranges, and oval 
lemons of green gold. Once I saw an elephant 
go by. Its trunk was painted with vermilion 
and turmeric, and over its ears it had a net of 
crimson silk cord. It stopped opposite one of 
the booths and began eating the oranges, and 
the man only laughed. Thou canst not think 
how strange a people they are. When they are 
glad they go to the bird-sellers and buy of them 
a caged bird, and set it free that their joy may 
be greater, and when they are sad they scourge 
themselves with thorns that their sorrow may 
not grow less. 

' One evening I met some negroes carrying a 

heavy palanquin through the bazaar. It was 

made of gilded bamboo, and the poles were of 

vermilion lacquer studded with brass peacocks. 

102 



Across the windows hung thin curtains of muslin 
embroidered with beetles' wings and with tiny 
seed-pearls, and as it passed by a pale-faced 
Circassian looked out and smiled at me. I 
followed behind, and the negroes hurried their 
steps and scowled. But I did not care. I felt 
a great curiosity come over me. 

' At last they stopped at a square white house. 
There were no windows to it, only a little door 
like the door of a tomb. They set down the 
palanquin and knocked three times with a copper 
hammer. An Armenian in a caftan of green 
leather peered through the wicket, and when he 
saw them he opened, and spread a carpet on the 
ground, and the woman stepped out. As she 
went in, she turned round and smiled at me 
again. I had never seen any one so pale. 

* When the moon rose I returned to the same-' 
place and sought for the house, but it was no 
longer there. When I saw that, I knew who 
the woman was, and wherefore she had smiled 
at me. 

' Certainly thou shouldst have been with me. 
On the feast of the New Moon the young 
Emperor came forth from his palace and went 
into the mosque to pray. His hair and beard 
were dyed with rose-leaves, and his cheeks 

103 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

were powdered with a fine gold dust. The 
palms of his feet and hands were yellow with 
saffron. 

' At sunrise he went forth from his palace in 
a robe of silver, and at sunset he returned to it 
again in a robe of gold. The people flung them- 
selves on the ground and hid their faces, but I 
would not do so. I stood by the stall of a seller 
of dates and waited. When the Emperor saw 
me, he raised his painted eyebrows and stopped. 
I stood quite still, and made him no obeisance. 
The people marvelled at my boldness, and 
counselled me to flee from the city. I paid no 
heed to them, but went and sat with the sellers 
of strange gods, who by reason of their craft are 
abominated. When I told them what I had 
done, each of them gave me a god and prayed 
me to leave them. 

* That night, as I lay on a cushion in the tea- 
house that is in the Street of Pomegranates, the 
guards of the Emperor entered and led me to 
the palace. As I went in they closed each door 
behind me, and put a chain across it. Inside 
was a great court with an arcade running all 
round. The walls were of white alabaster, set 
here and there with blue and green tiles. The 
pillars were of green marble, and the pavement 
104 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

of a kind of peach -blossom marble. I had never 
seen anything like it before. 

'As I passed across the court two veiled 
women looked down from a balcony and cursed 
me. The guards hastened on, and the butts of 
the lances rang upon the polished floor. They 
opened a gate of wrought ivory, and I found 
myself in a watered garden of seven terraces. 
It was planted with tulip-cups and moonflowers, 
and silver-studded aloes. Like a slim reed of 
crystal a fountain hung in the dusky air. The 
cypress-trees were like burnt-out torches. From 
one of them a nightingale was singing. 

'At the end of the garden stood a little 
pavilion. As we approached it two eunuchs 
came out to meet us. Their fat bodies swayed 
as they walked, and they glanced curiously at 
me with their yellow-lidded eyes. One of them 
drew aside the captain of the guard, and in a 
low voice whispered to him. The other kept 
munching scented pastilles, which he took with 
an affected gesture out of an oval box of lilac 
enamel. 

* After a few moments the captain of the 
guard dismissed the soldiers. They went back 
to the palace, the eunuchs following slowly 
behind and plucking the sweet mulberries from 

105 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

the trees as they passed. Once the elder of the 
two turned round, and smiled at me with an 
evil smile. 

' Then the captain of the guard motioned me 
towards the entrance of the pavilion. I walked 
on without trembling, and drawing the heavy 
curtain aside I entered in. 

'The young Emperor was stretched on a 
couch of dyed lion skins, and a ger-falcon perched 
upon his wrist. Behind him stood a brass- 
turbaned Nubian, naked down to the waist, and 
with heavy earrings in his split ears. On a table 
by the side of the couch lay a mighty scimitar 
of steel. 

* When the Emperor saw me he frowned, and 
said to me, " What is thy name ? Knowest thou 
not that I am Emperor of this city ? " But I 
made him no answer. 

He pointed with his finger at the scimitar, and 
the Nubian seized it, and rushing forward struck 
at me with great violence. The blade whizzed 
through me, and did me no hurt. The man 
fell sprawling on the floor, and when he rose 
up his teeth chattered with terror and he hid 
himself behind the couch. 

' The Emperor leapt to his feet, and taking 
a lance from a stand of arms, he threw it at me. 
106 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

I caught it in its flight, and brake the shaft 
into two pieces. He shot at me with an arrow, 
but I held up my hands and it stopped in mid- 
air. Then he drew a dagger from a belt of 
white leather, and stabbed the Nubian in the 
throat lest the slave should tell of his dishonour. 
The man writhed like a trampled snake, and a 
red foam bubbled from his lips. 

' As soon as he was dead the Emperor turned 
to me, and when he had wiped away the bright 
sweat from his brow with a little napkin of 
purfled and purple silk, he said to me, "Art thou 
a prophet, that I may not harm thee, or the son 
of a prophet, that I can do thee no hurt ? I 
pray thee leave my city to-night, for while thou 
art in it I am no longer its lord." 

' And I answered him, " I will go for half of 
thy treasure. Give me half of thy treasure, 
and I will go away." 

* He took me by the hand, and led me out 
into the garden. When the captain of the guard 
saw me, he wondered. When the eunuchs saw 
me, their knees shook and they fell upon the 
ground in fear. 

'There is a chamber in the palace that has 
eight walls of red porphyry, and a brass-scaled 
ceiling hung with lamps. The Emperor touched 

107 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

one of the walls and it opened, and we passed 
down a corridor that was lit with many torches. 
In niches upon each side stood great wine-jars 
filled to the brim with silver pieces. When we 
reached the centre of the corridor the Emperor 
spake the word that may not be spoken, and a 
granite door swung back on a secret spring, and 
he put his hands before his face lest his eyes 
should be dazzled. 

* Thou couldst not believe how marvellous a 
place it was. There were huge tortoise-shells 
full of pearls, and hollowed moonstones of great 
size piled up with red rubies. The gold was 
stored in coffers of elephant-hide, and the gold- 
dust in leather bottles. There were opals and 
sapphires, the former in cups of crystal, and the 
latter in cups of jade. Round green emeralds 
were ranged in order upon thin plates of ivory, 
and in one corner were silk bags filled, some 
with turquoise-stones, and others with beryls. 
The ivory horns were heaped with purple ame- 
thysts, and the horns of brass with chalcedonies 
and sards. The pillars, which were of cedar, were 
hung with strings of yellow lynx-stones. In 
the flat oval shields there were carbuncles, both 
wine-coloured and coloured like grass. And yet 
I have told thee but a tithe of what was there. 
108 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

' And when the Emperor had taken away his 
hands from before his face he said to me : " This 
is my house of treasure, and half that is in it is 
thine, even as I promised to thee. And I will 
give thee camels and camel drivers, and they 
shall do thy bidding and take thy share of the 
treasure to whatever part of the world thou 
desirest to go. And the thing shall be done 
to-night, for I would not that the Sun, who is 
my father, should see that there is in my city a 
man whom I cannot slay." 

' But I answered him, " The gold that is here 
is thine, and the silver also is thine, and thine 
are the precious jewels and the things of price. 
As for me, I have no need of these. Nor shall 
I take aught from thee but that little ring that 
thou wearest on the finger of thy hand." 

* And the Emperor frowned. " It is but a 
ring of lead," he cried, "nor has it any value. 
Therefore take thy half of the treasure and go 
from my city." 

' " Nay," I answered, " but I will take nought 
but that leaden ring, for I know what is written 
within it, and for what purpose." 

* And the Emperor trembled, and besought me 
and said, " Take all the treasure and go from my 
city. The half that is mine shall be thine also." 

109 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

' And I did a strange thing, but what I did 
matters not, for in a cave that is but a day's 
journey from this place have I hidden the Ring 
of Riches. It is but a day's journey from this 
place, and it waits for thy coming. He who 
has this Ring is richer than all the kings of the 
world. Come therefore and take it, and the 
world's riches shall be thine.' 

But the young Fisherman laughed. 'Love 
is better than Riches,' he cried, * and the little 
Mermaid loves me.' 

' Nay, but there is nothing better than Riches,' 
said the Soul. 

* Love is better,' answered the young Fisher- 
man, and he plunged into the deep, and the Soul 
went weeping away over the marshes. 

And after the third_year was over, the Soul 
came down to the shore of the sea, and called 
to the young Fisherman, and he rose out of the 
deep and said, * Why dost thou call to me ? ' 

And the Soul answered, 'Come nearer, that 
I may speak with thee, for I have seen marvel- 
lous things.' 

So he came nearer, and couched in the shallow 
water, and leaned his head upon his hand and 
listened. 
110 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

And the Soul said to him, ' In a city that I 
know of there is an inn that standeth by a river. 
I sat there with sailors who drank of two 
different- coloured wines, and ate bread made of 
barley, and little salt fish served in bay leaves 
with vinegar. And as we sat and made merry, 
there entered to us an old man bearing a leathern 
carpet and a lute that had two horns of amber. 
And when he had laid out the carpet on the 
floor, he struck with a quill on the wire strings 
of his lute, and a girl whose face was veiled ran 
in and began to dance before us. Her face was 
veiled with a veil of gauze, but her feet were 
naked. Naked were her feet, and they moved 
over the carpet like little white pigeons. Never 
have I seen anything so marvellous, and the 
city in which she dances is but a day's journey 
from this place.' 

Now when the young Fisherman heard the 
words of his Soul, he remembered that the little * 
Mermaid had no feet and could not dance. And 
a great desire came over him, and he said to 
himself, * It is but a day's journey, and I can 
return to my love,' and he laughed, and stood 
up in the shallow water, and strode towards the 
shore. 

And when he had reached the dry shore he 

111 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

laughed again, and held out his arms to his Soul. 
And his Soul gave a great cry of joy and ran to 
meet him, and entered into him, and the young 
Fisherman saw stretched before him upon the 
sand that shadow of the body that is the body 
of the Soul. 

And his Soul said to him, ' Let us not tarry, 
but get hence at once, for the Sea-gods are 
jealous, and have monsters that do their bidding.' 

So they made haste, and all that night they 
journeyed beneath the moon, and all the next 
day they journeyed beneath the sun, and on the 
evening of the day they came to a city. 

And the young Fisherman said to his Soul, 
* Is this the city in which she dances of whom 
thou didst speak to me ? ' 

And his Soul answered him, * It is not this 
city, but another. Nevertheless let us enter in.' 

So they entered in and passed through the 
streets, and as they passed through the Street 
of the Jewellers the young Fisherman saw a 
fair silver cup set forth in a booth. And his 
Soul said to him, *Take that silver cup and 
hide it.' 

So he took the cup and hid it in the fold of his 
tunic, and they went hurriedly out of the city. 
112 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

And after that they had gone a league from 
the city, the young Fisherman frowned, and 
flung the cup away, and said to his Soul, * Why 
didst thou tell me to take this cup and hide it, 
for it was an evil thing to do ? ' 

But his Soul answered him, ' Be at peace, be 
at peace." 

And on the evening of the second day they 
came to a city, and the young Fisherman said 
to his Soul, ' Is this the city in which she dances 
of whom thou didst speak to me ? ' 

And his Soul answered him, ' It is not this 
city, but another. Nevertheless let us enter in.' 

So they entered in and passed through the 
streets, and as they passed through the Street 
of the Sellers of Sandals, the young Fisherman 
saw a child standing by a jar of water. And 
his Soul said to him, ' Smite that child.' So he 
smote the child till it wept, and when he had 
done this they went hurriedly out of the city. 

And after that they had gone a league from 
the city the young Fisherman grew wroth, and 
said to his Soul, 'Why didst thou tell me to 
smite the child, for it was an evil thing to do ? ' 

But his Soul answered him, ' Be at peace, be 
at peace.' 

And on the evening of the third day they 

H 113 



came to a city, and the young Fisherman said 
to his Soul, ' Is this the city in which she dances 
of whom thou didst speak to me ? ' 

And his Soul answered him, * It may he that 
it is in this city, therefore let us enter in.' 

So they entered in and passed through the 
streets, but nowhere could the young Fisher- 
man find the river or the inn that stood by its 
side. And the people of the city looked curiously 
at him, and he grew afraid and said to his Soul, 
' Let us go hence, for she who dances with 
white feet is not here.' 

But his Soul answered, ' Nay, but let us tarry, 
for the night is dark and there will be robbers 
on the way.' 

So he sat him down in the market-place and 
rested, and after a time there went by a hooded 
merchant who had a cloak of cloth of Tartary, 
and bare a lantern of pierced horn at the end 
of a jointed reed. And the merchant said to 
him, ' Why dost thou sit in the market-place, 
seeing that the booths are closed and the bales 
corded ? * 

And the young Fisherman answered him, ' I 
can find no inn in this city, nor have I any 
kinsman who might give me shelter.' 

* Are we not all kinsmen ? ' said the merchant. 
114 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

* And did not one God make us ? Therefore 
come with me, for I have a guest-chamber.' 

So the young Fisherman rose up and followed 
the merchant to his house. And when he had 
passed through a garden of pomegranates and 
entered into the house, the merchant brought 
him rose-water in a copper dish that he might 
wash his hands, and ripe melons that he might 
quench his thirst, and set a bowl of rice and a 
piece of roasted kid before him. 

And after that he had finished, the merchant 
led him to the guest-chamber, and bade him 
sleep and be at rest And the young Fisherman 
gave him thanks, and kissed the ring that was 
on his hand, and flung himself down on the 
carpets of dyed goat's-hair. And when he had 
covered himself with a covering of black lamb's- 
wool he fell asleep. 

And three hours before dawn, and while it 
was still night, his Soul waked him and said 
to him, 'Rise up and go to the room of the 
merchant, even to the room in which he sleepeth, 
and slay him, and take from him his gold, for 
we have need of it.' 

And the young Fisherman rose up and crept 
towards the room of the merchant, and over 
the feet of the merchant there was lying a 

115 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

curved sword, and the tray by the side of the 
merchant held nine purses of gold. And he 
reached out his hand and touched the sword, 
and when he touched it the merchant started 
and awoke, and leaping up seized himself the 
sword and cried to the young Fisherman, * Dost 
thou return evil for good, and pay with the 
shedding of blood for the kindness that I have 
shown thee ? ' 

And his Soul said to the young Fisherman, 
* Strike him,' and he struck him so that he 
swooned, and he seized then the nine purses of 
gold, and fled hastily through the garden of 
pomegranates, and set his face to the star that 
is the star of morning. 

And when they had gone a league from the 
city, the young Fisherman beat his breast, and 
said to his Soul, * Why didst thou bid me slay 
the merchant and take his gold ? Surely thou 
art evil.' 

But his Soul answered him, * Be at peace, be 
at peace.' 

*Nay,' cried the young Fisherman, 'I may 
not be at peace, for all that thou hast made me 
to do I hate. Thee also I hate, and I bid thee 
tell me wherefore thou hast wrought with me 
in this wise.' 
116 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

And his Soul answered him, * When thou 
didst send me forth into the world thou gavest 
me no heart, so I learned to do all these things 
and love them.' 

* What sayest thou ? ' murmured the young 
Fisherman. 

'Thou knowest,' answered his Soul, 'thou 
knowest it well. Hast thou forgotten that thou 
gavest me no heart ? I trow not. And so 
trouble not thyself nor me, but be at peace, for 
there is no pain that thou shalt not give away, 
nor any pleasure that thou shalt not receive.' 

And when the young Fisherman heard these 
words he trembled and said to his Soul, ' Nay, 
but thou art evil, and hast made me forget my 
love, and hast tempted me with temptations, 
and hast set my feet in the ways o sin.' 

And his Soul answered him, ' Thou hast not 
forgotten that when thou didst send me forth 
into the world thou gavest me no heart. Come, 
let us go to another city, and make merry, for 
we have nine purses of gold.' 

But the young Fisherman took the nine 
purses of gold, and flung them down, and 
trampled on them. 

'Nay,' he cried, 'but I will have nought to 
do with thee, nor will I journey with thee any- 

117 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

where, but even as I sent thee away before, so 
will I send thee away now, for thou hast wrought 
me no good. And he turned his back to the 
moon, and with the little knife that had the 
handle of green viper's skin he strove to cut 
from his feet that shadow of the body which is 
the body of the Soul. 

Yet his Soul stirred not from him, nor paid 
heed to his command, but said to him, 'The 
spell that the Witch told thee avails thee no 
more, for I may not leave thee, nor mayest thou 
drive me forth. Once in his life may a man 
send his Soul away, but he who receiveth back 
his Soul must keep it with him for ever, and 
this is his punishment and his reward.' 

And the young Fisherman grew pale and 
clenched his hands and cried, ' She was a false 
Witch in that she told me not that.' 

' Nay,' answered his Soul, ' but she was true 
to Him she worships, and whose servant she 
will be ever.' 

And when the young Fisherman knew that 
he could no longer get rid of his Soul, and that 
it was an evil Soul and would abide with him 
always, he fell upon the ground weeping bitterly. 

And when it was day the young Fisherman 
118 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

rose up and said to his Soul, * I will bind my 
hands that I may not do thy bidding, and close 
my lips that I may not speak thy words, and I 
will return to the place where she whom I love 
has her dwelling. Even to the sea will I re- 
turn, and to the little bay where she is wont 
to sing, and I will call to her and tell her the 
evil I have done and the evil thou hast wrought 
on me.' 

And his Soul tempted him and said, * Who 
is thy love, that thou shouldst return to her? 
The world has many fairer than she is. There 
are the dancing-girls of Samaris who dance in 
the manner of all kinds of birds and beasts. 
Their feet are painted with henna, and in their 
hands they have little copper bells. They laugh 
while they dance, and their laughter is as clear 
as the laughter of water. Come with me and 
I will show them to thee. For what is this 



trouble of thine about the things of sin ? Is 
that which is pleasant to eat not made for the 
eater ? Is there poison in that which is sweet 
to drink ? Trouble not thyself, but come with 
me to another city. There is a little city hard 
by in which there is a garden of tulip-trees. 
And there dwell in this comely garden white 
peacocks and peacocks that have blue breasts. 

119 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

Their tails when they spread them to the sun 
are like disks of ivory and like gilt disks. And 
she who feeds them dances for their pleasure, 
and sometimes she dances on her hands and at 
other times she dances with her feet. Her eyes 
are coloured with stibium, and her nostrils are 
shaped like the wings of a swallow. From a 
hook in one of her nostrils hangs a flower that 
is carved out of a pearl. She laughs while she 
dances, and the silver rings that are about her 
ankles tinkle like bells of silver. And so trouble 
not thyself any more, but come with me to this 
city.' 

But the young Fisherman answered not his 
Soul, but closed his lips with the seal of silence 
and with a tight cord bound his hands, and 
journeyed back to the place from which he had 
come, even to the little bay where his love had 
been wont to sing. And ever did his Soul tempt 
him by the way, but he made it no answer, nor 
would he do any of the wickedness that it sought 
to make him to do, so great was the power of 
the love that was within him. 

And when he had reached the shore of the 

sea, he loosed the cord from his hands, and took 

the seal of silence from his lips, and called to 

the little Mermaid. But she came not to his 

120 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

call, though he called to her all day long and 
besought her. 

And his Soul mocked him and said, ' Surely 
thou hast but little joy out of thy love. Thou 
art as one who in time of dearth pours water 
into a broken vessel. Thou givest away what 
thou hast, and nought is given to thee in return. 
It were better for thee to come with me, for 
I know where the Valley of Pleasure lies, and 
what things are wrought there.' 

But the young Fisherman answered not his 
Soul, but in a cleft of the rock he built himself 
a house of wattles, and abode there for the space 
of a year. And every morning he called to the- 
Mermaid, and every noon he called to her again, 
and at night-time he spake her name. Yet 
never did she rise out of the sea to meet him, 
nor in any place of the sea could he find her, 
though he sought for her in the caves and in 
the green water, in the pools of the tide and in 
the wells that are at the bottom of the deep. 

And ever did his Soul tempt him with evil, 
and whisper of terrible things. Yet did it. not 
prevail against him, so great was the power of 
his love. 

And after the year was over, the Soul thought 
within himself, * I have tempted my master 

121 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

with evil, and his love is stronger than I am. I 
will tempt him now with good, and it may be 
that he will come with me.' 

So he spake to the young Fisherman and said, 
* I have told thee of the joy of the world, and 
thou hast turned a deaf ear to me. Suffer me 
now to tell thee of the world's pain, and it may 
be that thou wilt hearken. For of a truth pain 
is the Lord of this world, nor is there any one 
who escapes from its net. There be some who 
lack raiment, and others who lack bread. There 
be widows who sit in purple, and widows who 
sit in rags. To and fro over the fens go the 
lepers, and they are cruel to each other. The 
beggars go up and down on the highways, and 
their wallets are empty. Through the streets 
of the cities walks Famine, and the Plague sits 
at their gates. Come, let us go forth and mend 
these things, and make them not to be. Where- 
fore shouldst thou tarry here calling to thy love, 
seeing she comes not to thy call? And what 
is love, that thou shouldsf set this high store 
upon it ? ' 

But the young Fisherman answered it nought, 

so great was the power of his love. And every 

morning he called to the Mermaid, and every 

noon he called to her again, and at night-time 

122 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

he spake her name. Yet never did she rise out 
of the sea to meet him, nor in any place of the 
sea could he find her, though he sought for her 
in the rivers of the sea, and in the valleys that 
are under the waves, in the sea that the night 
makes purple, and in the sea that the dawn 
leaves grey. 

And after the second year was over, the Soul 
said to the young Fisherman at night-time, and 
as he sat in the wattled house alone, * Lo ! 
now I have tempted thee with evil, and I have 
tempted thee with good, and thy love is stronger 
than I am. Wherefore will I tempt thee no 
longer, but I pray thee to suffer me to enter-- 
thy heart, that I may be one with thee even as 
before.' 

* Surely thou mayest enter,' said the young 
Fisherman, * for in the days when with no heart 
thou didst go through the world thou must 
have much suffered.' 

' Alas ! ' cried his Soul, ' I can find no place 
of entrance, so cdmpassed about with love is 
this heart of thine.' 

* Yet I would that I could help thee,' said the 
young Fisherman. 

And as he spake there came a great cry of 
mourning from the sea, even the cry that men 

123 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

hear when one of the Sea-folk is dead. And 
the young Fisherman leapt up, and left his 
wattled house, and ran down to the shore. And 
the black waves came hurrying to the shore, 
bearing with them a burden that was whiter 
than silver. White as the surf it was, and like 
a flower it tossed on the waves. And the surf 
took it from the waves, and the foam took it 
from the surf, and the shore received it, and 
lying at his feet the young Fisherman saw the 
body of the little Mermaid. Dead at his feet it 
was lying. 

Weeping as one smitten with pain he flung 
himself down beside it, and he kissed the cold 
red of the mouth, and toyed with the wet amber 
of the hair. He flung himself down beside it 
on the sand, weeping as one trembling with joy, 
and in his brown arms he held it to his breast. 
Cold were the lips, yet he kissed them. Salt 
was the honey of the hair, yet he tasted it with 
a bitter joy. He kissed the closed eyelids, and 
the wild spray that lay upon their cups was less 
salt than his tears. 

And to the dead thing he made confession. 

Into the shells of its ears he poured the harsh 

wine of his tale. He put the little hands round 

his neck, and with his fingers he touched the 

124 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

thin reed of the throat. Bitter, bitter was his 
joy, and full of strange gladness was his pain. 

The black sea came nearer, and the white 
foam moaned like a leper. With white claws 
of foam the sea grabbled at the shore. From 
the palace of the Sea-King came the cry of 
mourning again, and far out upon the sea the 
great Tritons blew hoarsely upon their horns. 

* Flee away,' said his Soul, ' for ever doth the 
sea come nigher, and if thou tarriest it will slay 
thee. Flee away, for I am afraid, seeing that 
thy heart is closed against me by reason of the 
greatness of thy love. Flee away to a place of 
safety. Surely thou wilt not send me without 
a heart into another world ? ' 

But the young Fisherman listened not to his 
Soul, but called on the little Mermaid and said, 
* Love is better than wisdom, and more precious 
than riches, and fairer than the feet of the 
daughters of men. The fires cannot destroy it, 
nor can the waters quench it. I called on thee 
at dawn, and thou didst not come to my call. 
The moon heard thy name, yet hadst thou no 
heed of me. For evilly had I left thee, and to 
my own hurt had I wandered away. Yet ever 
did thy love abide with me, and ever was it 
strong, nor did aught prevail against it, though 

125 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

I have looked upon evil and looked upon good. 
And now that thou art dead, surely I will die 
with thee also.' 

And his Soul besought him to depart, but he 
would not, so great was his love. And the sea 
came nearer, and sought to cover him with its 
waves, and when he knew that the end was at 
hand he kissed with mad lips the cold lips of 
the Mermaid, and the heart that was within 
him brake. And as through the fulness of his 
love his heart did break, the Soul found an 
entrance and entered in, and was one with him 
even as before. And the sea covered the young 
Fisherman with its waves. 

And in the morning the Priest went forth to 
bless the sea, for it had been troubled. And 
with him went the monks and the musicians, 
and the candle-bearers, and the swingers of 
censers, and a great company. 

And when the Priest reached the shore he 
saw the young Fisherman lying drowned in the 
surf, and clasped in his arms was the body of 
the little Mermaid. And he drew back frown- 
ing, and having made the sign of the cross, he 
cried aloud and said, * I will not bless the sea 
nor anything that is in it. Accursed be the Sea-- 
126 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

folk, and accursed be all they who traffic with 
them. And as for him who for love's sake 
forsook God, and so lieth here with his leman 
slain by God's judgment, take up his body and 
the body of his leman, and bury them in the 
corner of the Field of the Fullers, and set no 
mark above them, nor sign of any kind, that 
none may know the place of their resting. For 
accursed were they in their lives, and accursed 
shall they be in their deaths also.' 

And the people did as he commanded them, 
and in the corner of the Field of the Fullers, 
where no sweet herbs grew, they dug a deep pit, 
and laid the dead things within it. 

And when the third year was over, and on a 
day that was a holy day, the Priest went up to 
the chapel, that he might show to the people 
the wounds of the Lord, and speak to them 
about the wrath of God. 

And when he had robed himself with his 
robes, and entered in and bowed himself before 
the altar, he saw that the altar was covered with 
strange flowers that never had been seen before. 
Strange were they to look at, and of curious 
beauty, and their beauty troubled him, and their 
odour was sweet in his nostrils. And he felt 
glad, and understood not why he was glad. 
127 






A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

And after that he had opened the tabernacle, 
and incensed the monstrance that was in it, and 
shown the fair wafer to the people, and hid it 
again behind the veil of veils, he began to speak 
to the people, desiring to speak to them of the 
wrath of God. But the beauty of the white 
flowers troubled him, and their odour was sweet 
in his nostrils, and there came another word 
into his lips, and he spake not of the wrath of 
God, but of the God whose name is Love. And 
why he so spake, he knew not. 

And when he had finished his word the people 
wept, and the Priest went back to the sacristy, 
and his eyes were full of tears. And the deacons 
came in and began to unrobe him, and took 
from him the alb and the girdle, the maniple 
and the stole. And he stood as one in a dream. 

And after that they had unrobed him, he 
looked at them and said, * What are the flowers 
that stand on the altar, and whence do they 
come ?' 

And they answered him, * What flowers they 
are we cannot tell, but they come from the 
corner of the Fullers' Field. And the Priest 
trembled, and returned to his own house and 
prayed. 

And in the morning, while it was still dawn, 
128 



THE FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL 

he went forth with the monks and the musicians, 
and the candle-bearers and the swingers of 
censers, and a great company, and came to the 
shore of the sea, and blessed the sea, and all the 
wild things that are in it. The Fauns also he 
blessed, and the little things that dance in the 
woodland, and the bright-eyed things that peer 
through the leaves. All the things in God's 
world he blessed, and the people were filled with 
joy and wonder. Yet never again in the corner 
of the Fullers' Field grew flowers of any kind, 
but the field remained barren even as before. 
Nor came the Sea-folk into the bay as they hadk" 
been wont to do, for they went to another part 
of the sea. 



\ 

I 129 



\ 



THE STAR-CHILD 



TO 
MISS MARGOT TENNANT 



THE STAR-CHILD 

ONCE upon a time two poor Wood- 
cutters were making their way home 
through a great pine-forest. It was 
winter, and a night of bitter cold. The snow 
lay thick upon the ground, and upon the branches 
of the trees : the frost kept snapping the little 
twigs on either side of them, as they passed : 
and when they came to the Mountain -Torrent 
she was hanging motionless in air, for the Ice- 
King had kissed her. 

So cold was it that even the animals and the 
birds did not know what to make of it. 

* Ugh ! ' snarled the Wolf, as he limped through 
the brushwood with his tail between his legs, 
'this is perfectly monstrous weather. Why 
doesn't the Government look to it ? ' 

* Weet ! weet ! weet ! ' twittered the green 
Linnets, 'the old Earth is dead, and they have 
laid her out in her white shroud.' 

' The Earth is going to be married, and this 

133 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

is her bridal dress,' whispered the Turtle-doves 
to each other. Their little pink feet were quite 
frost-bitten, but they felt that it was their duty 
to take a romantic view of the situation. 

' Nonsense ! ' growled the Wolf. ' I tell you 
that it is all the fault of the Government, and 
if you don't believe me I shall eat you.' The 
Wolf had a thoroughly practical mind, and was 
never at a loss for a good argument. 

* Well, for my own part,' said the Wood- 
pecker, who was a born philosopher, ' 1 don't 
care an atomic theory for explanations. If a 
thing is so, it is so, and at present it is terribly 
cold.' 

Terribly cold it certainly was. The little 
Squirrels, who lived inside the tall fir-tree, kept 
rubbing each other's noses to keep themselves 
warm, and the Rabbits curled themselves up in 
their holes, and did not venture even to look 
out of doors. The only people who seemed to 
enjoy it were the great horned Owls. Their 
feathers were quite stiff with rime, but they did 
not mind, and they rolled their large yellow 
eyes, and called out to each other across the 
forest, < Tu-whit! Tu-whoo! Tu-whit! Tu- 
whoo ! what delightful weather we are having ! ' 

On and on went the two Woodcutters, blow- 
134 



THE STAR-CHILD 

ing lustily upon their fingers, and stamping with 
their huge iron-shod boots upon the caked snow. 
Once they sank into a deep drift, and came out 
as white as millers are, when the stones are 
grinding; and once they slipped on the hard 
smooth ice where the marsh-water was frozen, 
and their faggots fell out of their bundles, and 
they had to pick them up and bind them together 
again ; and once they thought that they had 
lost their way, and a great terror seized on them, 
for they knew that the Snow is cruel to those 
who sleep in her arms. But they put their trust 
in the good Saint Martin, who watches over all 
travellers, and retraced their steps, and went 
warily, and at last they reached the outskirts 
of the forest, and saw, far down in the valley 
beneath them, the lights of the village in which 
they dwelt. 

So overjoyed were they at their deliverance 
that they laughed aloud, and the Earth seemed 
to them like a flower of silver, and the Moon 
like a flower of gold. 

Yet, after that they had laughed they became 
sad, for they remembered their poverty, and one 
of them said to the other, ' Why did we make 
merry, seeing that life is for the rich, and not 
for such as we are ? Better that we had died 

135 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

of cold in the forest, or that some wild beast 
had fallen upon us and slain us.' 

' Truly,' answered his companion, ' much is 
given to some, and little is given to others. 
Injustice has parcelled out the world, nor is 
there equal division of aught save of sorrow.' 

But as they were bewailing their misery to 
each other this strange thing happened. There 
fell from heaven a very bright and beautiful 
star. It slipped down the side of the sky, pass- 
ing by the other stars in its course, and, as they 
watched it wondering, it seemed to them to 
sink behind a clump of willow-trees that stood 
hard by a little sheepfold no more than a stone's- 
throw away. 

* Why 1 there is a crock of gold for whoever 
finds it,' they cried, and they set to and ran, so 
eager were they for the gold. 

And one of them ran faster than his mate, 
and outstripped him, and forced his way through 
the willows, and came out on the other side, 
and lo ! there was indeed a thing of gold lying 
on the white snow. So he hastened towards it, 
and stooping down placed his hands upon it, 
and it was a cloak of golden tissue, curiously 
wrought with stars, and wrapped in many folds. 
And he cried out to his comrade that he had 
136 



THE STAR-CHILD 

found the treasure that had fallen from the sky, 
and when his comrade had come up, they sat 
them down in the snow, and loosened the folds 
of the cloak that they might divide the pieces 
of gold. But, alas ! no gold was in it, nor silver, 
nor, indeed, treasure of any kind, but only 
little child who was asleep. 

And one of them said to the other: * This is 
a bitter ending to our hope, nor have we any 
good fortune, for what doth a child profit to a 
man ? Let us leave it here, and go our way, 
seeing that we are poor men, and have children 
of our own whose bread we may not give to 
another.' 

But his companion answered him : ' Nay, but 
it were an evil thing to leave the child to perish 
here in the snow, and though I am as poor as 
thou art, and have many mouths to feed, and 
but little in the pot, yet will I bring it home 
with me, and my wife shall have care of it.' 

So very tenderly he took up the child, and 
wrapped the cloak around it to shield it from 
the harsh cold, and made his way down the hill 
to the village, his comrade marvelling much at 
his foolishness and softness of heart. 

And when they came to the village, his 
comrade said to him, ' Thou hast the child, 

137 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

therefore give me the cloak, for it is meet that 
we should share.' 

But he answered him : ' Nay, for the cloak 
is neither mine nor thine, but the child's only,' 
and he bade him Godspeed, and went to his 
own house and knocked. 

And when his wife opened the door and saw 
that her husband had returned safe to her, she 
put her arms round his neck and kissed him, 
and took from his back the bundle of faggots, 
and brushed the snow off his boots, and bade 
him come in. 

But he said to her, ' I have found something 
in the forest, and I have brought it to thee to 
have care of it,' and he stirred not from the 
threshold. 

* What is it ? ' she cried. * Show it to me, for 
the house is bare, and we have need of many 
things.' And he drew the cloak back, and 
showed her the sleeping child. 

' Alack, goodman 1 ' she murmured, ' have we 
not children of our own, that thou must needs 
bring a changeling to sit by the hearth ? And 
who knows if it will not bring us bad fortune ? 
And how shall we tend it?' And she was 
wroth against him. 

' Nay, but it is a Star-Child,' he answered ; 
138 



THE STAR-CHILD 

and he told her the strange manner of the find- 
ing of it. 

But she would not be appeased, but mocked 
at him, and spoke angrily, and cried: 'Our 
children lack bread, and shall we feed the child 
of another ? Who is there who careth for us ? 
And who giveth us food ? ' 

' Nay, but God careth for the sparrows even, 
and feedeth them,' he answered. 

'Do not the sparrows die of hunger in the 
winter ? ' she asked. ' And is it not winter now ? ' 
And the man answered nothing, but stirred not 
from the threshold. 

And a bitter wind from the forest came in 
through the open door, and made her tremble, 
and she shivered, and said to him : ' Wilt thou 
not close the door? There cometh a bitter 
wind into the house, and I am cold.' 

' Into a house where a heart is hard cometh 
there not always a bitter wind ? ' he asked. And 
the woman answered him nothing, but crept 
closer to the fire. 

And after a time she turned round and looked 
at him, and her eyes were full of tears. And 
he came in swiftly, and placed the child in her 
arms, and she kissed it, and laid it in a little bed 
where the youngest of their own children was 

139 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

lying. And on the morrow the Woodcutter 
took the curious cloak of gold and placed it in 
a great chest, and a chain of amber that was 
round the child's neck his wife took and set it 
in the chest also. 

So the Star-Child was brought up with the 
children of the Woodcutter, and sat at the same 
board with them, and was their playmate. And 
every year he became more beautiful to look at, 
so that all those who dwelt in the village were 
filled with wonder, for, while they were swarthy 
and black-haired, he was white and delicate as 
sawn ivory, and his curls were like the rings of 
the daffodil. His lips, also, were like the petals 
of a red flower, and his eyes were like violets 
by a river of pure water, and his body like the 
narcissus of a field where the mower comes not. 

Yet did his beauty work him evil. For he-' 
grew proud, and cruel, and selfish. The children 
of the Woodcutter, and the other children of 
the village, he despised, saying that they were 
of mean parentage, while he was noble, being 
sprung from a Star, and he made himself master 
over them, and called them his servants. No 
pity had he for the poor, or for those who were 
blind or maimed or in any way afflicted, but 
140 



THE STAR-CHILD 

would cast stones at them and drive them forth 
on to the highway, and bid them beg their bread 
elsewhere, so that none save the outlaws came 
twice to that village to ask for alms. Indeed, 
he was as one enamoured of beauty, and would 
mock at the weakly and ill-favoured, and make 
jest of them; and himself he loved, and in 
summer, when the winds were still, he would 
lie by the well in the priest's orchard and look 
down at the marvel of his own face, and laugh 
for the pleasure he had in his fairness. 

Often did the Woodcutter and his wife chide 
him, and say : * We did not deal with thee as 
thou dealest with those who are left desolate, 
and have none to succour them. Wherefore 
art thou so cruel to all who need pity ? ' 

Often did the old priest send for him, and 
seek to teach him the love of living things, 
saying to him : ' The fly is thy brother. Do it 
no harm. The wild birds that roam through 
the forest have their freedom. Snare them not 
for thy pleasure. God made the blind-worm 
and the mole, and each has its place. Who art 
thou to bring pain into God's world ? Even the 
cattle of the field praise Him.' 

But the Star-Child heeded not their words, 
but would frown and flout, and go back to his 

141 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

companions, and lead them. And his com- 
panions followed him, for he was fair, and fleet 
of foot, and could dance, and pipe, and make 
music. And wherever the Star-Child led them 
they followed, and whatever the Star-Child 
bade them do, that did they. And when he 
pierced with a sharp reed the dim eyes of the 
mole, they laughed, and when he cast stones at 
the leper they laughed also. And in all things 
he ruled them, and they became hard of heart, - 
even as he was. 

Now there passed one day through the village 
a poor beggar-woman. Her garments were torn 
and ragged, and her feet were bleeding from the 
rough road on which she had travelled, and she 
was in very evil plight. And being weary she 
sat her down under a chestnut-tree to rest. 

But when the Star-Child saw her, he said 
to his companions, ' See 1 There sitteth a foul 
beggar-woman under that fair and green-leaved 
tree. Come, let us drive her hence, for she is 
ugly and ill-favoured.' 

So he came near and threw stones at her, and 

mocked her, and she looked at him with terror 

in her eyes, nor did she move her gaze from him. 

And when the Woodcutter, who was cleaving 

142 



THE STAR-CHILD 

logs in a haggard hard by, saw what the Star- 
Child was doing, he ran up and rebuked him, 
and said to him : * Surely thou art hard of heart 
and knowest not mercy, for what evil has this 
poor woman done to thee that thou shouldst 
treat her in this wise ? ' 

And the Star-Child grew red with anger, and 
stamped his foot upon the ground, and said, 
' Who art thou to question me what I do ? I 
am no son of thine to do thy bidding.' 

' Thou speakest truly,' answered the Wood- 
cutter, ' yet did I show thee pity when I found 
thee in the forest.' 

And when the woman heard these words she 
gave a loud cry, and fell into a swoon. And 
the Woodcutter carried her to his own house, 
and his wife had care of her, and when she rose 
up from the swoon into which she had fallen, 
they set meat and drink before her, and bade 
her have comfort. 

But she would neither eat nor drink, but said 
to the Woodcutter, * Didst thou not say that 
the child was found in the forest ? And was it 
not ten years from this day ? ' 

And the Woodcutter answered, ' Yea, it was 
in the forest that I found him, and it is ten 
years from this day.' 

143 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

* And what signs didst thou find with him ? ' 
she cried. ' Bare he not upon his neck a chain 
of amber ? Was not round him a cloak of gold 
tissue broidered with stars ? ' 

* Truly,' answered the Woodcutter, 'it was 
even as thou sayest.' And he took the cloak 
and the amber chain from the chest where they 
lay, and showed them to her. 

And when she saw them she wept for joy, 
and said, * He is my little son whom I lost in " 
the forest. I pray thee send for him quickly, 
for in search of him have I wandered over the 
whole world.' 

So the Woodcutter and his wife went out 
and called to the Star-Child, and said to him, 
* Go into the house, and there shalt thou find 
thy mother, who is waiting for thee.' 

So he ran in, filled with wonder and great 
gladness. But when he saw her who was wait- 
ing there, he laughed scornfully and said, * Why, 
where is my mother ? For I see none here but 
this vile beggar-woman.' 

And the woman answered him, ' I am thy 
mother.' 

' Thou art mad to say so,' cried the Star-Child 
angrily. ' I am no son of thine, for thou art a 
beggar, and ugly, and in rags. Therefore get 
144 



THE STAR-CHILD 

thee hence, and let me see thy foul face no 
more.' 

'Nay, but thou art indeed my little son, 
whom I bare in the forest/ she cried, and she 
fell on her knees, and held out her arms to him. 
' The robbers stole thee from me, and left thee 
to die,' she murmured, 'but I recognised thee 
when I saw thee, and the signs also have I 
recognised, the cloak of golden tissue and the 
amber-chain. Therefore I pray thee come with 
me, for over the whole world have I wandered 
in search of thee. Come with me, my son, for 
I have need of thy love.' 

But the Star- Child stirred not from his place, 
but shut the doors of his heart against her, nor 
was there any sound heard save the sound of 
the woman weeping for pain. 

And at last he spoke to her, and his voice 
was hard and bitter. ' If in very truth thou art 
my mother,' he said, ' it had been better hadst 
thou stayed away, and not come here to 
bring me to shame, seeing that I thought I 
was the child of some Star, and not a beggar's 
child, as thou tellest me that I am. There- 
fore get thee hence, and let me see thee no 
more.' 

' Alas ! my son,' she cried, ' wilt thou not kiss 

K 145 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

me before I go ? For I have suffered much to 
find thee.' 

' Nay,' said the Star-Child, * but thou art too 
foul to look at, and rather would I kiss the 
adder or the toad than thee.' 

So the woman rose up, and went away into 
the forest weeping bitterly, and when the Star- 
Child saw that she had gone, he was glad, and 
ran back to his playmates that he might play 
with them. 

But when they beheld him coming, they 
mocked him and said, ' Why, thou art as foul 
as the toad, and as loathsome as the adder. Get 
thee hence, for we will not suffer thee to play 
with us,' and they drave him out of the 
garden. 

And the Star-Child frowned and said to him- 
self, ' What is this that they say to me ? I will 
go to the well of water and look into it, and it 
shall tell me of my beauty.' 

So he went to the well of water and looked 
into it, and lo ! his face was as the face of a toad, 

Jt f* 

^ and his body was scaled like an adder. And 

he flung himself down on the grass and wept, 
and said to himself, ' Surely this has come upon 
me by reason of my sin. For I have denied my 
mother, and driven her away, and been proud, 
146 



THE STAR-CHILD 

and cruel to her. Wherefore I will go and seek 
her through the whole world, nor will I rest till 
I have found her.' 

And there came to him the little daughter of 
the Woodcutter, and she put her hand upon his 
shoulder and said, ' What doth it matter if thou 
hast lost thy comeliness ? Stay with us, and I 
will not mock at thee.' 

And he said to her, 'Nay, but I have been 
cruel to my mother, and as a punishment has 
tli is evil been sent to me. Wherefore I must 
go hence, and wander through the world till I 
find her, and she give me her forgiveness.* 

So he ran away into the forest and called out 
to his mother to come to him, but there was no 
answer. All day long he called to her, and 
when the sun set he lay down to sleep on a bed 
of leaves, and the birds and the animals fled 
from him, for they remembered his cruelty, and 
he was alone save for the toad that watched 
him, and the slow adder that crawled past. 

And in the morning he rose up, and plucked 
some bitter berries from the trees and ate them, 
and took his way through the great wood, weep- 
ing sorely. And of everything that he met he 
made inquiry if perchance they had seen his 
mother. 

147 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

He said to the Mole, * Thou canst go beneath 
the earth. Tell me, is my mother there ? ' 

And the Mole answered, ' Thou hast blinded 
mine eyes. How should I know ? ' 

He said to the Linnet, * Thou canst fly over 
the tops of the tall trees, and canst see the whole 
world. Tell me, canst thou see my mother ? ' 

And the Linnet answered, * Thou hast clipt 
my wings for thy pleasure. How should I fly ? ' 

And to the little Squirrel who lived in the 
fir-tree, and was lonely, he said, * Where is my 
mother ? ' 

And the Squirrel answered, 'Thou hast slain 
mine. Dost thou seek to slay thine also ? ' 

And the Star-Child wept and bowed his head, 
and prayed forgiveness of God's things, and 
went on through the forest, seeking for the 
beggar-woman. And on the third day he came 
to the other side of the forest and went down 
into the plain. 

And when he passed through the villages the 
children mocked him, and threw stones at him, 
and the carlots would not suffer him even to 
sleep in the byres lest he might bring mildew 
on the stored corn, so foul was he to look at, 
and their hired men drave him away, and there 
was none who had pity on him. Nor could he 
148 



THE STAR-CHILD 

hear anywhere of the beggar-woman who was 
his mother, though for the space of three years 
he wandered over the world, and often seemed 
to see her on the road in front of him, and 
would call to her, and run after her till the sharp 
flints made his feet to bleed. But overtake her 
he could not, and those who dwelt by the way 
did ever deny that they had seen her, or any 
like to her, and they made sport of his sorrow. 

For the space of three years he wandered over 
the world, and in the world there was neither 
love nor loving-kindness nor charity for him, 
but it was even such a world as he had made 
for himself in the days of his great pride. 

And one evening he came to the gate of a 
strong- walled city that stood by a river, and, 
weary and footsore though he was, he made to 
enter in. But the soldiers who stood on guard 
dropped their halberts across the entrance, and 
said roughly to him, * What is thy business in 
the city ? ' 

' I am seeking for my mother,' he answered, 
* and I pray ye to suffer me to pass, for it may 
be that she is in this city.' 

But they mocked at him, and one of them 
wagged a black beard, and set down his shield 

149 



A HOUSE OP POMEGRANATES 

and cried, * Of a truth, thy mother will not be 
merry when she sees thee, for thou art more 
ill-favoured than the toad of the marsh, or the 
adder that crawls in the fen. Get thee gone. 
Get thee gone. Thy mother dwells not in this 
city.' 

And another, who held a yellow banner in his 
hand, said to him, ' Who is thy mother, and 
wherefore art thou seeking for her ? ' 

And he answered, ' My mother is a beggar 
even as I am, and I have treated her evilly, and 
I pray ye to suffer me to pass that she may give 
me her forgiveness, if it be that she tarrieth in 
this city/ But they would not, and pricked 
him with their spears. 

And, as he turned away weeping, one whose 
armour was inlaid with gilt flowers, and on 
whose helmet couched a lion that had wings, 
came up and made inquiry of the soldiers who 
it was who had sought entrance. And they 
said to him, c It is a beggar and the child of a 
beggar, and we have driven him away.' 

* Nay,' he cried, laughing, * but we will sell the 
foul thing for a slave, and his price shall be the 
price of a bowl of sweet wine.' 

And an old and evil-visaged man who was 
passing by called out, and said, * I will buy him 
150 ' 



THE STAR-CHILD 

for that price/ and, when he had paid the price, 
he took the Star-Child by the hand and led him 
into the city. 

And after that they had gone through many 
streets they came to a little door that was set 
in a wall that was covered with a pomegranate 
tree. And the old man touched the door with 
a ring of graved jasper and it opened, and they 
went down five steps of brass into a garden 
filled with black poppies and green jars of burnt 
clay. And the old man took then from his 
turban a scarf of figured silk, and bound with it 
the eyes of the Star-Child, and drave him in front 
of him. And when the scarf was taken off his 
eyes, the Star-Child found himself in a dungeon, 
that was lit by a lantern of horn. 

And the old man set before him some mouldy 
bread on a trencher and said, ' Eat,' and some 
brackish water in a cup and said, * Drink,' and 
when he had eaten and drunk, the old man 
went out, locking the door behind him and 
fastening it with an iron chain. 

And on the morrow the old man, who was 
indeed the subtlest of the magicians of Libya 
and had learned his art from one who dwelt 
in the tombs of the Nile, came in to him and 

151 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

frowned at him, and said, * In a wood that is 
nigh to the gate of this city of Giaours there are 
three pieces of gold. One is of white gold, and 
another is of yellow gold, and the gold of the 
third one is red. To-day thou shalt bring me 
the piece of white gold, and if thou bringest it 
not back, I will beat thee with a hundred stripes. 
Get thee away quickly, and at sunset I will be 
waiting for thee at the door of the garden. See 
that thou bringest the white gold, or it shall go 
ill with thee, for thou art my slave, and I have 
bought thee for the price of a bowl of sweet 
wine.' And he bound the eyes of the Star- 
Child with the scarf of figured silk, and led him 
through the house, and through the garden of 
poppies, and up the five steps of brass. And 
having opened the little door with his ring he 
set him in the street. 

And the Star-Child went out of the gate of 
the city, and came to the wood of which the 
Magician had spoken to him. 

Now this wood was very fair to look at from 
without, and seemed full of singing birds and of 
sweet-scented flowers, and the Star-Child entered 
it gladly. Yet did its beauty profit him little, 
for wherever he went harsh briars and thorns 
152 



THE STAR-CHILD 

shot up from the ground and encompassed him, 
and evil nettles stung him, and the thistle pierced 
him with her daggers, so that he was in sore 
distress. Nor could he anywhere find the piece 
of white gold of which the Magician had spoken, 
though he sought for it from morn to noon, and 
from noon to sunset. And at sunset he set his 
face towards home, weeping bitterly, for he 
knew what fate was in store for him. 

But when he had reached the outskirts of the 
wood, he heard from a thicket a cry as of some 
one in pain. And forgetting his own sorrow he 
ran back to the place, and saw there a little Hare 
caught in a trap that some hunter had set for it. 

And the Star-Child had pity on it, and released 
it, and said to it, * I am myself but a slave, yet 
may I give thee thy freedom/ 

And the Hare answered him, and said : 
* Surely thou hast given me freedom, and what 
shall I give thee in return ? ' 

And the Star-Child said to it, * I am seeking 
for a piece of white gold, nor can I anywhere 
find it, and if I bring it not to my master he will 
beat me.' 

* Come thou with me,' said the Hare, * and I 
will lead thee to it, for I know where it is 
hidden, and for what purpose.' 

158 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

So the Star-Child went with the Hare, and 
lo ! in the cleft of a great oak-tree he saw the 
piece of white gold that he was seeking. And 
he was filled with joy, and seized it, and said to 
the Hare, ' The service that I did to thee thou 
hast rendered back again many times over, and 
the kindness that I showed thee thou hast 
repaid a hundred-fold.' 

' Nay,' answered the Hare, ' but as thou dealt 
with me, so I did deal with thee,' and it ran 
away swiftly, and the Star- Child went towards 
the city. 

Now at the gate of the city there was seated 
one who was a leper. Over his face hung a cowl 
of grey linen, and through the eyelets his eyes 
gleamed like red coals. And when he saw the 
Star-Child coming, he struck upon a wooden 
bowl, and clattered his bell, and called out to 
him, and said, * Give me a piece of money, or I 
must die of hunger. For they have thrust me 
out of the city, and there is no one who has 
pity on me.' 

* Alas ! ' cried the Star-Child, * I have but one 
piece of money in my wallet, and if I bring it 
not to my master he will beat me, for I am his 
slave.' 

But the leper entreated him, and prayed of 
154 



THE STAR-CHILD 

him, till the Star-Child had pity, and gave him 
the piece of white gold. 

And when he came to the Magician's house, 
the Magician opened to him, and brought him 
in, and said to him, ' Hast thou the piece of 
white gold ? ' And the Star-Child answered, * I 
have it not.' So the Magician fell upon him, 
and beat him, and set before him an empty 
trencher, and said, * Eat,' and an empty cup, 
and said, * Drink,' and flung him again into the 
dungeon. 

And on the morrow the Magician came to 
him, and said, ' If to-day thou bringest me not 
the piece of yellow gold, I will surely keep thee 
as my slave, and give thee three hundred 
stripes.' 

So the Star-Child went to the wood, and all 
day long he searched for the piece of yellow 
gold, but nowhere could he find it. And at 
sunset he sat him down and began to weep, and 
as he was weeping there came to him the little 
Hare that he had rescued from the trap. 

And the Hare said to him, *Why art thou 
weeping? And what dost thou seek in the 
wood ? ' 

And the Star-Child answered, * I am seeking 
for a piece of yellow gold that is hidden here, 

155 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

and if I find it not my master will beat me, and 
keep me as a slave.' 

'Follow me,' cried the Hare, and it ran 
through the wood till it came to a pool of water. 
And at the bottom of the pool the piece of 
yellow gold was lying. 

' How shall I thank thee ? ' said the Star- 
Child, ' for lo I this is the second time that you 
have succoured me/ 

* Nay, but thou hadst pity on me first,' said 
the Hare, and it ran away swiftly. 

And the Star-Child took the piece of yellow 
gold, and put it in his wallet, and hurried to 
the city. But the leper saw him coming, and 
ran to meet him, and knelt down and cried, 
'Give me a piece of money or I shall die of 
hunger.' 

And the Star-Child said to him, ' I have in 
my wallet but one piece of yellow gold, and if I 
bring it not to my master he will beat me and 
keep me as his slave.' 

But the leper entreated him sore, so that the 
Star-Child had pity on him, and gave him the 
piece of yellow gold. 

And when he came to the Magician's house, 
the Magician opened to him, and brought him 
156 



THE STAR-CHILD 

in, and said to him, ' Hast thou the piece of 
yellow gold ? ' And the Star- Child said to him, 
* I have it not.' So the Magician fell upon him, 
and beat him, and loaded him with chains, and 
cast him again into the dungeon. 

And on the morrow the Magician came to him, 
and said, * If to-day thou bringest me the piece 
of red gold I will set thee free, but if thou 
bringest it not I will surely slay thee.' 

So the Star-Child went to the wood, and all 
day long he searched for the piece of red gold, 
but nowhere could he find it. And at evening 
he sat him down, and wept, and as he was 
weeping there came to him the little Hare. 

And the Hare said to him, ' The piece of red 
gold that thou seekest is in the cavern that is 
behind thee. Therefore weep no more but be 
glad.' 

* How shall I reward thee,' cried the Star- 
Child, * for lo 1 this is the third time thou hast 
succoured me.' 

' Nay, but thou hadst pity on me first,' said 
the Hare, and it ran away swiftly. 

And the Star-Child entered the cavern, and 
in its farthest corner he found the piece of red 
gold. So he put it in his wallet, and hurried to 
the city. And the leper seeing him coming, 

157 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

stood in the centre of the road, and cried out, 
and said to him, 'Give me the piece of red 
money, or I must die,' and the Star-Child had 
pity on him again, and gave him the piece of 
red gold, saying, 'Thy need is greater than 
mine.' Yet was his heart heavy, for he knew 
what evil fate awaited him. 

But lo ! as he passed through the gate of the 
city, the guards bowed down and made obeisance 
to him, saying, 'How beautiful is our lord!' 
and a crowd of citizens followed him, and cried 
out, ' Surely there is none so beautiful in the 
whole world ! ' so that the Star- Child wept, and 
said to himself, 'They are mocking me, and 
making light of my misery.' And so large was 
the concourse of the people, that he lost the 
threads of his way, and found himself at last in 
a great square, in which there was a palace of 
a King. 

And the gate of the palace opened, and the 
priests and the high officers of the city ran forth 
to meet him, and they abased themselves before 
him, and said, ' Thou art our lord for whom we 
have been waiting, and the son of our King. ' 

And the Star-Child answered them and said, 
' I am no king's son, but the child of a poor 
158 



THE STAR-CHILD 

beggar-woman. And how say ye that I am 
beautiful, for I know that I am evil to look 
at?' 

Then he, whose armour was inlaid with gilt 
flowers, and on whose helmet couched a lion 
that had wings, held up a shield, and cried, 
* How saith my lord that he is not beautiful ? ' 

And the Star- Child looked, and lo ! his face 
was even as it had been, and his comeliness had 
come back to him, and he saw that in his eyes 
which he had not seen there before. 

And the priests and the high officers knelt 
down and said to him, 'It was prophesied of 
old that on this day should come he who was 
to rule over us. Therefore, let our lord take 
this crown and this sceptre, and be in his justice 
and mercy our King over us.' 

But he said to them, ' I am not worthy, for 
I have denied the mother who bare me, nor 
may I rest till I have found her, and known her 
forgiveness. Therefore, let me go, for I must 
wander again over the world, and may not tarry 
here, though ye bring me the crown and the 
sceptre.' And as he spake he turned his face 
from them towards the street that led to the 
gate of the city, and lo ! amongst the crowd 
that pressed round the soldiers, he saw the 

159 



A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES 

beggar-woman who was his mother, and at her 
side stood the leper, who had sat by the road. 

And a cry of joy broke from his lips, and 
he ran over, and kneeling down he kissed the 
wounds on his mother's feet, and wet them with 
his tears. He bowed his head in the dust, and 
sobbing, as one whose heart might break, he 
said to her : * Mother, I denied thee in the hour 
of my pride. Accept me in the hour of my 
humility. Mother, I gave thee hatred. Do 
thou give me love. Mother, I rejected thee. 
Receive thy child now.' But the beggar-woman 
answered him not a word. 

And he reached out his hands, and clasped 
the white feet of the leper, and said to him : 
' Thrice did I give thee of my mercy. Bid 
my mother speak to me once.' But the leper 
answered him not a word. 

And he sobbed again, and said : ' Mother, 
my suffering is greater than I can bear. Give 
me thy forgiveness, and let me go back to the 
forest.' And the beggar-woman put her hand 
on his head, and said to him, 'Rise,' and the 
leper put his hand on his head, and said to him 
' Rise,' also. 

And he rose up from his feet, and looked at 
them, and lo ! they were a King and a Queen. 
160 



THE STAR-CHILD 

And the Queen said to him, * This is thy 
father whom thou hast succoured.' 

And the King said, 'This is thy mother 
whose feet thou hast washed with thy tears.' 

And they fell on his neck and kissed him, and 
brought him into the palace, and clothed him 
in fair raiment, and set the crown upon his head, 
and the sceptre in his hand, and over the city 
that stood by the river he ruled, and was its 
lord. Much justice and mercy did he show to 
all, and the evil Magician he banished, and to 
the Woodcutter and his wife he sent many rich 
gifts, and to their children he gave high honour. 
Nor would he suffer any to be cruel to bird or 
beast, but taught love and loving-kindness and 
charity, and to the poor he gave bread, and to 
the naked he gave raiment, and there was peace 
and plenty in the land. 

Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his 
suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, 
for after the space of three years he died. And 
he who came after him ruled evilly. 



161 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

AND OTHER TALES 



*>"> 



TO 

CARLOS BLACKER 






THE HAPPY PRINCE 















THE HAPPY PRINCE 

HIGH above the city, on a tall column, 
stood the statue of the Happy Prince. 
He was gilded all over with thin 
leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright 
sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his 
sword-hilt. 

He was very much admired indeed. 'He 
is as beautiful as a weathercock,' remarked one 
of the Town Councillors who wished to gain a 
reputation for having artistic tastes ; ' only not 
quite so useful,' he added, fearing lest people 
should think him unpractical, which he really 
was not. 

' Why can't you be like the Happy Prince ? ' 
asked a sensible mother of her little boy who 
was crying for the moon. ' The Happy Prince 
never dreams of crying for anything.' 

' I am glad there is some one in the world 

167 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

who is quite happy,' muttered a disappointed 
man as he gazed at the wonderful statue. 

* He looks just like an angel,' said the Charity 
Children as they came out of the cathedral in 
their bright scarlet cloaks and their clean white 
pinafores. 

* How do you know ? ' said the Mathematical 
Master, ' you have never seen one.' 

' Ah ! but we have, in our dreams,' answered 
the children ; and the Mathematical Master 
frowned and looked very severe, for he did not 
approve of children dreaming. 

One night there flew over the city a little 
Swallow. His friends had gone away to Egypt 
six weeks before, but he had stayed behind, for 
he was in love with the most beautiful Reed. 
He had met her early in the spring as he was 
flying down the river after a big yellow moth, 
and had been so attracted by her slender waist 
that he had stopped to talk to her. 

* Shall I love you ? ' said the Swallow, who 
liked to come to the point at once, and the 
Reed made him a low bow. So he flew round 
and round her, touching the water with his 
wings, and making silver ripples. This was 
his courtship, and it lasted all through the 
summer. 

168 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

* It is a ridiculous attachment,' twittered the 
other Swallows ; ' she has no money, and far too 
many relations ' ; and indeed the river was quite 
full of Reeds. Then, when the autumn came, 
they all flew away. 

After they had gone he felt lonely, and 
began to tire of his lady-love. ' She has no con- 
versation,' he said, 'and I am afraid that she 
is a coquette, for she is always flirting with the 
wind.' And certainly, whenever the wind 
blew, the Reed made the most graceful curt- 
seys. * I admit that she is domestic,' he con- 
tinued, 'but I love travelling, and my wife, 
consequently, should love travelling also.' 

* Will you come away with me ? ' he said 
finally to her ; but the Reed shook her head, 
she was so attached to her home. 

* You have been trifling with me,' he cried. 
* I am off to the Pyramids. Good-bye ! ' and 
he flew away. 

All day long he flew, and at night-time he 
arrived at the city. * Where shall I put up ? ' 
he said ; ' I hope the town has made pre- 
parations.' 

Then he saw the statue on the tall column. 

* I will put up there,' he cried ; * it is a fine 
position with plenty of fresh air.' So he 

169 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

alighted just between the feet of the Happy 
Prince. 

* I have a golden bedroom,' he said softly to 
himself as he looked round, and he prepared to 
go to sleep ; but just as he was putting his head 
under his wing a large drop of water fell on 
him. ' What a curious thing ! ' he cried ; * there 
is not a single cloud in the sky, the stars are 
quite clear and bright, and yet it is raining. 
The climate in the north of Europe is really 
dreadful. The Reed used to like the ram, but 
that was merely her selfishness.' 

Then another drop fell. 

' What is the use of a statue if it cannot 
keep the rain off ? ' he said ; ' I must look for a 
good chimney-pot,' and he determined to fly 
away. 

But before he had opened his wings, a third 

drop fell, and he looked up, and saw Ah ! 

what did he see ? 

The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled 
with tears, and tears were running down his 
golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in 
the moonlight that the little Swallow was filled 
with pity. 

' Who are you ? ' he said. 

* I am the Happy Prince.' 

170 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

'Why are you weeping then?' asked the 
Swallow ; ' you have quite drenched me.' 

' When I was alive and had a human heart,' 
answered the statue, 'I did not know what 
tears were, for I lived in the Palace of Sans- 
Souci, where sorrow is not allowed to enter. In 
the daytime I played with my companions in 
the garden, and in \ he evening I led the dance 
in the Great Hall. Round the garden ran a 
very lofty wall, but I never cared to ask what 
lay beyond it, everything about me was so 
beautiful. My courtiers called me the Happy 
Prince, and happy indeed I was, if pleasure 
be happiness. So I lived, and so I died. 
And now that I am dead they have set me up 
here so high that I can see all the ugliness and 
all the misery of my city, and though my heart 
is made of lead yet I cannot choose but weep.' 

'What! is he not solid gold?' said the 
Swallow to himself. He was too polite to 
make any personal remarks out loud. 

' Far away,' continued the statue in a low 
musical voice, ' far away in a little street there 
is a poor house. One of the windows is open, 
and through it I can see a woman seated at a 
table. Her face is thin and worn, and she has 
coarse, red hands, all pricked by the needle, 

171 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

for she is a seamstress. She is embroidering 
passion-flowers on a satin gown for the loveliest 
of the Queen's maids-of-honour to wear at the 
next Court-ball. In a bed in the corner of the 
room her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, 
and is asking for oranges. His mother has 
nothing to give him but river water, so he is 
crying. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will 
you not bring her the ruby out of my sword- 
hilt? My feet are fastened to this pedestal 
and I cannot move.X 

' I am waited for in Egypt,' said the Swallow. 
* My friends are flying up and down the Nile, 
and talking to the large lotus-flowers. Soon 
they will go to sleep in the tomb of the great 
King. The King is there himself in his painted 
coffin. He is wrapped in yellow linen, and 
embalmed with spices. Round his neck is a 
chain of pale green jade, and his hands are like 
withered leaves.' 

* Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the 
Prince, 'will you not stay with me for one 
night, and be my messenger? The boy is so 
thirsty, and the mother so sad.' 

'I don't think I like boys,' answered the 
Swallow. ' Last summer, when I was staying 
on the river, there were two rude boys, the 
172 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

miller's sons, who were always throwing stones 
at me. They never hit me, of course; we 
swallows fly far too well for that, and besides, I 
come of a family famous for its agility; but 
still, it was a mark of disrespect.' 

But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the 
little Swallow was sorry. ' It is very cold here,' 
he said ; ' but I will stay with you for one night, 
and be your messenger.' 

' Thank you, little Swallow,' said the Prince. 

So the Swallow picked out the great ruby 
from the Prince's sword, and flew away with it 
in his beak over the roofs of the town. 

He passed by the cathedral tower, where the 
white marble angels were sculptured. He 
passed by the palace and heard the sound of 
dancing. A beautiful girl came out on the 
balcony with her lover. ' How wonderful the 
stars are,' he said to her, * and how wonderful is 
the power of love ! ' 

' I hope my dress will be ready in time for 
the State-ball,' she answered ; * I have ordered 
passion-flowers to be/embroidered on it; but 
the seamstresses are so lazy.' 

He passed over the river, and saw the 
lanterns hanging to the masts of the ships. 
He passed over the Ghetto, and saw the old 

173 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

Jews bargaining with each other, and weighing 
out money in copper scales. At last he came 
to the poor house and looked in. The boy was 
tossing feverishly on his bed, and the mother 
had fallen asleep, she was so tired. In he 
hopped, and laid the great ruby on the table 
beside the woman's thimble. Then he flew 
gently round the bed, fanning the boy's fore- 
head with his wings. 'How cool I feel,' said 
the boy, ' I must be getting better ' ; and he 
sank into a delicious slumber. 

Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy 
Prince, and told him what he had done. * It 
is curious,' he remarked, ' but I feel quite warm 
now, although it is so cold.' 

'That is because you have done a good 
action,' said the Prince. And the little Swallow 
began to think, and then he fell asleep. Think- 
ing always made him sleepy. 

When day broke he flew down to the river 
and had a bath. * What a remarkable phe- 
nomenon,' said the Professor of Ornithology 
as he was passing over the bridge. * A swallow 
in winter ! ' And he wrote a long letter about 
it to the local newspaper. Every one quoted 
it, it was full of so many words that they could 
not understand. 
174 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

* To-night I go to Egypt/ said the Swallow, 
and he was in high spirits at the prospect. He 
visited all the public monuments, and sat a long 
time on top of the church steeple. Wherever 
he went the Sparrows chirruped, and said to each 
other, ' What a distinguished stranger ! ' so he 
enjoyed himself very much. 

When the moon rose he flew back to the 
Happy Prince. 'Have you any commissions 
for Egypt ? ' he cried ; I ajn just starting.' 

' Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the 
Prince, * will you not stay with me one night 
longer ? ' 

* I am waited for in Egypt,' answered the 
Swallow. * To-morrow my friends will fly 
up to the Second Cataract. The river-horse 
couches there among the bulrushes, and on a 
great granite throne sits the God Memnon. 
All night long he watches the stars, and when 
the morning star shines he utters one cry of joy, 
and then he is silent. At noon the yellow 
lions come down to the water's edge to drink. 
They have eyes like green beryls, and their 
roar is louder than the roar of the cataract.' 

'Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the 
Prince, ' far away across the city I see a young 
man in a garret. He is leaning over a desk 

175 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

covered with papers, and in a tumbler by his 
side there is a bunch of withered violets. His 
hair is brown and crisp, and his lips are red as 
a pomegranate, and he has large and dreamy 
eyes. He is trying to finish a play for the 
Director of the Theatre, but he is too cold to 
write any more. There is no fire in the grate, 
and hunger has made him faint.' 

' I will wait with you one night longer,' said 
the Swallow, who really had a good heart. 
* Shall I take him another ruby ? ' 

' Alas ! I have no ruby now,' said the Prince ; 
'my eyes are all that I have left. They are" 
made of rare sapphires, which were brought out 
of India a thousand years ago. Pluck out 
one of them and take it to him. He will sell 
it to the jeweller, and' buy food and firewood, 
and finish his play.' 

* Dear Prince,' said the Swallow, ' I cannot 
do that'; and he began to weep. 

* Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the 
Prince, * do as I command you.' 

So the Swallow plucked out the Prince's eye, 
and flew away to the student's garret. It was 
easy enough to get in, as there was a hole in 
the roof. Through this he darted, and came 
into the room. The young man had his head 
176 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

buried in his hands, so he did not hear the 
flutter of the bird's wings, and when he looked 
up he found the beautiful sapphire lying on the 
withered violets. 

' I am beginning to be appreciated,' he cried ; 
* this is from some great admirer. Now I 
can finish my play/ and he looked quite 
happy. 

The next day the Swallow flew down to the 
harbour. He sat on the mast of a large vessel 
and watched the sailors hauling big chests out 
of the hold with ropes. ' Heave a-hoy ! ' they 
shouted as each chest came up. * I am going 
to Egypt,' cried the Swallow, but nobody 
minded, and when the moon rose he flew back 
to the Happy Prince. 

* I am come to bid you good-bye,' he 
cried. 

' Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the 
Prince, ' will you not stay with me one night 
longer ? ' 

* It is winter,' answered the Swallow, * and 
the chill snow will soon be here. In Egypt 
the sun is warm on the green palm-trees, and 
the crocodiles lie in the mud and look lazily 
about them. My companions are building a 
nest in the Temple of Baalbec, and the pink 

M 177 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

and white doves are watching them, and cooing 
to each other. Dear Prince, I must leave you, 
but I will never forget you, and next spring 
I will bring you back two beautiful jewels in 
place of those you have given away. The ruby 
shall be redder than a red rose, and the sapphire 
shall be as blue as the great sea.' 

' In the square below,' said the Happy 
Prince, * there stands a little match-girl. She 
has let her matches fall in the gutter, and they 
are all spoiled. Her father will beat her if she 
does not bring home some money, and she is 
crying. She has no shoes or stockings, and 
her little head is bare. Pluck out my other 
eye, and give it to her, and her father will not 
beat her.' 

' I will stay with you one night longer,' said 
the Swallow, * but I cannot pluck out your eye. 
You would be quite blind then.' 

* Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,' said the 
Prince, 'do as I command you.' 

So he plucked out the Prince's other eye, 
and darted down with it. He swooped past 
the match-girl, and slipped the jewel into the 
palm of her hand. 'What a lovely bit of 
glass,' cried the little girl ; and she ran home, 
laughing. 
178 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

Then the Swallow came back to the Prince. 
'You are blind now,' he said, 'so I will stay 
with you always.' 

' No, little Swallow,' said the poor Prince, 
' you must go away to Egypt.' 

* I will stay with you always,' said the 
Swallow, and he slept at the Prince's feet. 

All the next day he sat on the Prince's 
shoulder, and told him stories of what he had 
seen in strange lands. He told him of the red 
ibises, who stand in long rows on the banks of 
the Nile, and catch gold-fish in their beaks ; of 
the Sphinx, who is as old as the world itself, and 
lives in the desert, and knows everything; of 
the merchants, who walk slowly by the side of 
their camels, and carry amber beads in their 
hand; of the King of the Mountains of the 
Moon, who is as black as ebony, and worships 
a large crystal ; of the great green snake that 
sleeps in a palm-tree, and has twenty priests to 
feed it with honey-cakes ; and of the pygmies 
who sail over a big lake on large flat leaves, and 
are always at war with the butterflies. 

' Dear little Swallow,' said the Prince, ' you 
tell me of marvellous things, but more marvel- 
lous than anything is the suffering of men and 
of women. There is no Mystery so great as 

179 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

Misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, and 
tell me what you see there.' 

So the Swallow flew over the great city, and 
saw the rich making merry in their beautiful 
houses, while the beggars were sitting at the 
gates. He flew into dark lanes, and saw the 
white faces of starving children looking out 
listlessly at the black streets. Under the arch- 
way of a bridge two little boys were lying in 
one another's arms to try and keep themselves 
warm. ' How hungry we are ! ' they said. 
* You must not lie here,' shouted the Watch- 
man, and they wandered out into the rain. 

Then he flew back and told the Prince what 
he had seen. 

' I am covered with fine gold,' said the Prince, 
' you must take it off, leaf by leaf, and give it 
to my poor ; the living always think that gold 
can make them happy.' 

Leaf after leaf of the fine gold the Swallow 
picked off, till the Happy Prince looked quite 
dull and grey. Leaf after leaf of the fine gold 
he brought to the poor, and the children's faces 
grew rosier, and they laughed and played games 
in the street. * We have bread now ! ' they 
cried. 

Then the snow came, and after the snow came 
180 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

the frost. The streets looked as if they were 
made of silver, they were so bright and glisten- 
ing ; long icicles like crystal daggers hung down 
from the eaves of the houses, everybody went 
about in furs, and the little boys wore scarlet 
caps and skated on the ice. 

The poor little Swallow grew colder and 
colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he 
loved him too well. He picked up crumbs 
outside the baker's door when the baker was not 
looking, and tried to keep himself warm by 
flapping his wings. 

But at last he knew that he was going to die. 
He had just strength to fly up to the Prince's 
shoulder once more. ' Good-bye, dear Prince ! ' 
he murmured, ' will you let me kiss your 
hand?' 

* I am glad that you are going to Egypt at 
last, little Swallow,' said the Prince, * you have 
stayed too long here ; but you must kiss me on 
the lips, for I love you.' 

* It is not to Egypt that I am going,' said the 
Swallow. ' I am going to the House of Death. 
Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not ? ' 

And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, 
and fell down dead at his feet. 

At that moment a curious crack sounded 

181 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

inside the statue, as if something had broken. 
The fact is that the leaden heart had snapped 
right in two. It certainly was a dreadfully 
hard frost. 

Early the next morning the Mayor was walk- 
ing in the square below in company with the 
Town Councillors. As they passed the column 
he looked up at the statue : ' Dear me ! how 
shabby the Happy Prince looks ! ' he said. 

* How shabby indeed 1 ' cried the Town 
Councillors, who always agreed with the Mayor ; 
and they went up to look at it. 

'The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his 
eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer,' said 
the Mayor ; * in fact, he is little better than a 
beggar ! ' 

* Little better than a beggar,' said the Town 
Councillors. 

' And here is actually a dead bird at his feet ! ' 
continued the Mayor. ' We must really issue 
a proclamation that birds are not to be allowed 
to die here.' And the Town Clerk made a note 
of the suggestion. 

So they pulled down the statue of the Happy 
Prince. ' As he is no longer beautiful he is no 
longer useful,' said the Art Professor at the 
University. 
182 



THE HAPPY PRINCE 

Then they melted the statue in a furnace, 
and the Mayor held a meeting of the Corpora- 
tion to decide what was to be done with the 
metal. ' We must have another statue, of 
course,' he said, 'and it shall be a statue of 
myself.' 

' Of myself,' said each of the Town Coun- 
cillors, and they quarrelled. When I last heard 
of them they were quarrelling still. 

* What a strange thing ! ' said the overseer 
of the workmen at the foundry. * This broken 
lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We 
must throw it away.' So they threw it on a 
dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also 
lying. 

* Bring me the two most precious things in 
the city,' said God to one of His Angels ; and 
the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and 
the dead bird. 

* You have rightly chosen,' said God, * for in 
my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing 
for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy 
Prince shall praise me.' 



183 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

HE said that she would dance with me 
if I brought her red roses,' cried the 
young Student ; ' but in all my garden 
there is no red rose.' 

From her nest in the holm-oak tree the 
Nightingale heard him, and she looked out 
through the leaves, and wondered. 

* No red rose in all my garden 1 ' he cried, and 
his beautiful eyes filled with tears. 'Ah, on 
what little things does happiness depend! I 
have read all that the wise men have written, 
and all the secrets of philosophy are mine, yet 
for want of a red rose is my life made wretched.' 

' Here at last is a true lover,' said the Night- 
ingale. ' Night after night have I sung of him, 
though I knew him not : night after night have 
I told his story to the stars, and now I see 
him. His hair is dark as the hyacinth-blossom, 
and his lips are red as the rose of his desire ; but 

187 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

passion has made his face like pale ivory, and 
sorrow has set her seal upon his brow.' 

'The Prince gives a ball to-morrow night,' 
murmured the young Student, 'and my love 
will be of the company. If I bring her a red 
rose she will dance with me till dawn. If I 
bring her a red rose, I shall hold her in my 
arms, and she will lean her head upon my 
shoulder, and her hand will be clasped in mine. 
But there is no red rose in my garden, so I 
shall sit lonely, and she will pass me by. She 
will have no heed of me, and my heart will 
break.' 

'Here indeed is the true lover,' said the 
Nightingale. ' What I sing of, he suffers : what 
is joy to me, to him is pain. Surely Love is 
a wonderful thing. It is more precious than 
emeralds, and dearer than fine opals. Pearls 
and pomegranates cannot buy it, nor is it set 
forth in the market-place. It may not be 
purchased of the merchants, nor can it be 
weighed out in the balance for gold.' 

' The musicians will sit in their gallery,' said 
the young Student, 'and play upon their 
stringed instruments, and my love will dance 
to the sound of the harp and the violin. She 
will dance so lightly that her feet will not touch 
188 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

the floor, and the courtiers in their gay dresses 
will throng round her. But with me she will 
not dance, for I have no red rose to give her ' ; 
and he flung himself down on the grass, and 
buried his face in his hands, and wept. 

' Why is he weeping ? ' asked a little Green 
Lizard, as he ran past him with his tail in the air. 

* Why, indeed ? ' said a Butterfly, who was 
fluttering about after a sunbeam. 

' Why, indeed ? ' whispered a Daisy to his 
neighbour, in a soft, low voice. 

' He is weeping for a red rose,' said the 
Nightingale. 

' For a red rose ! ' they cried ; * how very 
ridiculous ! ' and the little Lizard, who was 
something of a cynic, laughed outright. 

But the Nightingale understood the secret of 
the Student's sorrow, and she sat silent in the 
oak-tree, and thought about the mystery of 
Love. 

Suddenly she spread her brown wings for 
flight, and soared into the air. She passed 
through the grove like a shadow, and like a 
shadow she sailed across the garden. 

In the centre of the grass-plot was standing 
a beautiful Rose-tree, and when she saw it she 
flew over to it, and lit upon a spray. 

189 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

' Give me a red rose,' she cried, ' and I will 
sing you my sweetest song.' 

But the Tree shook its head. 

' My roses are white,' it answered ; ' as white 
as the foam of the sea, and whiter than the 
snow upon the mountain. But go to my 
brother who grows round the old sun-dial, and 
perhaps he will give you what you want.' 

So the Nightingale flew over to the Rose- 
tree that was growing round the old sun-dial. 

' Give me a red rose,' she cried, ' and I will 
sing you my sweetest song.' 

But the Tree shook its head. 

' My roses are yellow,' it answered ; * as yellow 
as the hair of the mermaiden who sits upon an 
amber throne, and yellower than the daffodil 
that blooms in the meadow before the mower 
comes with his scythe. But go to my brother 
who grows beneath the Student's window, and 
perhaps he will give you what you want.' 

So the Nightingale flew over to the Rose- 
tree that was growing beneath the Student's 
window. 

' Give me a red rose,' she cried, ' and I will 
sing you my sweetest song.' 

But the Tree shook its head. 

* My roses are red,' it answered, ' as red as 
190 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

the feet of the dove, and redder than the great 
fans of coral that wave and wave in the ocean- 
cavern. But the winter has chilled my veins, 
and the frost has nipped my buds, and the 
storm has broken my branches, and I shall 
have no roses at all this year.' 

* One red rose is all I want,' cried the Night- 
ingale, 'only one red rose! Is there no way 
by which I can get it ? ' 

' There is a way,' answered the Tree ; ' but 
it is so terrible that I dare not tell it to you.' 

' Tell it to me,' said the Nightingale, ' I am 
not afraid.' 

' If you want a red rose,' said the Tree, ' you 
must build it out of music by moonlight, and 
stain it with your own heart's- blood. You 
must sing to me with your breast against a 
thorn. All night long you must sing to me, 
and the thorn must pierce your heart, and your 
life-blood must flow into my veins, and become 
mine.' 

' Death is a great price to pay for a red rose,' 
cried the Nightingale, ' and Life is very dear to 
all. It is pleasant to sit in the green wood, and 
to watch the Sun in his chariot of gold, and the 
moon in her chariot of pearl. Sweet is the 
scent of the hawthorn, and sweet are the blue- 

191 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

bells that hide in the valley, and the heather 
that blows on the hill. Yet Love is better than 
Life, and what is the heart of a bird compared 
to the heart of a man ? ' 

So she spread her brown wings for flight, and 
soared into the air. She swept over the garden 
like a shadow, and like a shadow she sailed 
through the grove. 

The young Student was still lying on the 
grass, where she had left him, and the tears 
were not yet dry in his beautiful eyes. 

' Be happy, 1 cried the Nightingale, ' be 
happy; you shall have your red rose. I will 
build it out of music by moonlight, and stain 
it with my own heart 's-blood. All that I ask 
of you in return is that you will be a true lover, 
for Love is wiser than Philosophy, though she 
is wise, and mightier than Power, though he is 
mighty. Flame-coloured are his wings, and 
coloured like flame is his body. His lips are 
sweet as honey, and his breath is like frank- 
incense.' 

The Student looked up from the grass, and 
listened, but he could not understand what the 
Nightingale was saying to him, for he only 
knew the things that are written down in 
books. 
192 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

But the Oak-tree understood, and felt sad, 
for he was very fond of the little Nightingale 
who had built her nest in his branches. 

* Sing me one last song,' he whispered ; ' I 
shall feel very lonely when you are gone.' 

So the Nightingale sang to the Oak-tree, and 
her voice was like water bubbling from a silver 
jar. 

When she had finished her song the Student 
got up, and pulled a note-book and a lead- 
pencil out of his pocket. 

' She has form,' he said to himsejf, as 
walked away through the grove ' that cannot 
be denied to her; but has she got feeling? I 
am afraid not. In fact, she is like most artists ; 
she is all style, without any sincerity. She 
would not sacrifice herself for others. She 
thinks merely of music, and everybody knows 
that the arts are selfish. Still, it must be 
admitted that she has some beautiful notes in 
her voice. What a pity it is that they do not 
mean anything, or do any practical good.' And 
he went into his room, and lay down on his 
little pallet-bed, and began to think of his love ; 
and, after a time, he fell asleep. 

And when the Moon shone in the heavens 
the Nightingale flew to the Rose-tree, and set 

N 193 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

her breast against the thorn. All night long 
she sang with her breast against the thorn, and 
the cold crystal Moon leaned down and listened. 
All night long she sang, and the thorn went 
deeper and deeper into her breast, and her life- 
blood ebbed away from her. 

She sang firlit of the birth of love in the heart 
of a boy and a girl. And on the topmost spray 
of the Rose-tree there blossomed a marvellous 
rose, petal following petal, as song followed 
song. Pale was it, at first, as the mist that 
hangs over the river pale as the feet of the 
morning, and silver as the wings of the dawn. 
As the shadow of a rose in a mirror of silver, 
as the shadow of a rose in a water-pool, so was 
the rose that blossomed on the topmost spray 
of the Tree. 

But the Tree cried to the Nightingale to 
press closer against the thorn. 'Press closer,' 
little Nightingale,' cried the Tree, ' or the 
Day will come before the Rose is finished.' 

So the Nightingale pressed closer against the 
thorn, and louder and louder grew her song, 
for she sang of the birth of passion in the soul 
of a man and a maid. 

And a delicate flush of pink came into the 
leaves of the rose, like the flush in the face of 
194 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

the bridegroom when he kisses the lips of the 
bride. But the thorn had not yet reached her 
heart, so the rose's heart remained white, for 
only a Nightingale's heart's-blood can crimson 
the heart of a rose. 

And the Tree cried to the Nightingale to 
press closer against the thorn. ' Press closer, 
little Nightingale,' cried the Tree, * or the Day 
will come before the rose is finished.' 

So the Nightingale pressed closer against the 
thorn, and the thorn touched her heart, and a 
fierce pang of pain shot through her. Bitter, 
bitter was the pain, and wilder and wilder grew 
her song, for she sang of the Love that is 
perfected by Death, of the Love that dies not 
in the tomb. 

And the marvellous rose became crimson, 
like the rose of the eastern sky. Crimson was 
the girdle of petals, and crimson as a ruby was 
the heart. 

But the Nightingale's voice grew fainter, 
and her little wings began to beat, and a film 
came over her eyes. Fainter and fainter grew 
her song, and she felt something choking her 
in her throat. 

Then she gave one last burst of music. The 
white Moon heard it, and she forgot the dawn, 

195 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

and lingered on in the sky. The red rose heard 
it, and it trembled all over with ecstasy, and 
opened its petals to the cold morning air. 
Echo bore it to her purple cavern in the hills, 
and woke the sleeping shepherds from their 
dreams. It floated through the reeds of the 
river, and they carried its message to the 
sea. 

'Look, look!' cried the Tree, 'the rose is 
finished now'; but the Nightingale made no 
answer, for she was lying dead in the long grass, 
with the thorn in her heart. 

And at noon the Student opened his window 
and looked out. 

' Why, what a wonderful piece of luck ! ' he 
cried;' 'here is a red rose! I have never seen 
any rose like it in all my life. It is so beautiful 
that I am sure it has a long Latin name ' ; and 
he leaned down and plucked it. 

Then he put on his hat, and ran up to 
the Professor's house with the rose in his 
hand. 

The daughter of the Professor was sitting 
in the doorway winding blue silk on a reel, and 
her little dog was lying at her feet. 

' You said that you would dance with me if 
I brought you a red rose,' cried the Student. 
196 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

4 Here is the reddest rose in all the world. You 
will wear it to-night next your heart, and 
as we dance together it will tell you how I 
love you.' 

But the girl frowned. 

*I am afraid it will not go with my dress,' 
she answered ; ' and, besides, the Chamberlain's 
nephew has sent me some real jewels, and 
everybody knows that jewels cost far more than 
flowers.' 

* Well, upon my word, you are very ungrate- 
ful,' said the Student angrily; and he threw 
the rose into the street, where it fell into the 
gutter, and a cart-wheel went over it. 

' Ungrateful ! ' said the girl. ' I tell you what, 
you are very rude; and, after all, who are 
you? Only a Student. Why, I don't be- 
lieve you have even got silver buckles to your 
shoes as the Chamberlain's nephew has'; and 
she got up from her chair and went into the 
house. 

' What a silly thing Love is,' said the Student 
as he walked away. * It is not half as useful 
as Logic, for it does not prove anything, and 
it is always telling one of things that are not 
going to happen, and making one believe things 
that are not true. In fact, it is quite un- 

197 



THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE 

practical, and, as in this age to be practical is 
everything, I shall go back to Philosophy and 
study Metaphysics.' 

So he returned to his room and pulled out a 
great dusty book, and began to read. 



198 



THE SELFISH GIANT 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

EVERY afternoon, as they were coming 
from school, the children used to go 
and play in the Giant's garden. 
It was a large lovely garden, with soft green 
grass. Here and there over the grass stood 
beautiful flowers like stars, and there were 
twelve peach-trees that in the springtime broke 
out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, 
and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds 
sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the 
children used to stop their games in order to 
listen to them. * How happy we are here 1 ' 
they cried to each other. 

One day the Giant came back. He had been 
to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had 
stayed with him for seven years. After the 
seven years were over he had said all that he 
had to say, for his conversation was limited, 
and he determined to return to his own castle. 

201 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

When he arrived he saw the children playing 
in the garden. 

* What are you doing here ? ' he cried in a 
very gruff voice, and the children ran away. 

' My own garden is my own garden,' said the 
Giant ; * any one can understand that, and I 
will allow nobody to play in it but myself.' 
So he built a high wall all round it, and put up 
a notice-board. 



TRESPASSERS 

WILL BE 

PROSECUTED 



He was a very selfish Giant. 

The poor children had now nowhere to play. 
They tried to play on the road, but the road 
was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they 
did not like it. They used to wander round 
the high wall when their lessons were over, and 
talk about the beautiful garden inside. * How 
happy we were there,' they said to each other. 

Then the Spring came, and all over the 
country there were little blossoms and little 
birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish- 
Giant it was still Winter. The birds did not 
202 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

care to sing in it as there were no children, and 
the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful 
flower put its head out from the grass, but 
when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry 
for the children that it slipped back into the 
ground again, and went off to sleep. The only 
people who were pleased were the Snow and 
the Frost. ' Spring has forgotten this garden,' 
they cried, 'so we will live here all the year 
round.' The Snow covered up the grass with 
her great white cloak, and the Frost painted 
all the trees silver. Then they invited the 
North Wind to stay with them, and he came, 
He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day 
about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots 
down. * This is a delightful spot,' he said ; 
* we must ask the Hail on a visit.' So the Hail 
came. Every day for three hours he rattled 
on the roof of the castle till he broke most of 
the slates, and then he ran round and round 
the garden as fast as he could go. He was 
dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice. 

' I cannot understand why the Spring is so 
late in coming,' said the Selfish Giant, as he 
sat at the window and looked out at his cold 
white garden ; ' I hope there will be a change 
in the weather.' 

203 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. 
The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, 
but to the Giant's garden she gave none. * He 
is too selfish,' she said. So it was always Winter 
there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and 
the Frost, and the Snow danced about through 
the trees. 

One morning the Giant was lying awake in 
bed when he heard some lovely music. It 
sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought 
it must be the King's musicians passing by. 
It was really only a little linnet singing outside 
his window, but it was so long since he had' 
heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed 
to him to be the most beautiful music in the 
world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over 
his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, 
and a delicious perfume came to him through 
the open casement. ' I believe the Spring has 
come at last,' said the Giant ; and he jumped 
out of bed and looked out. 

What did he see ? 

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through 
a little hole in the wall the children had crept 
in, and they were sitting in the branches of the 
trees. In every tree that he could see there 
was a little child. And the trees were so 
204 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

glad to have the children back again that they 
had covered themselves with blossoms, and 
were waving their arms gently above the 
children's heads. The birds were flying about 
and twittering with delight, and the flowers 
were looking up through the green grass and 
laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one 
corner it was still Winter. It was the farthest 
corner of the garden, and in it was standing 
a little boy. He was so small that he could 
not reach up to the branches of the tree, and 
he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. 
The poor tree was still quite covered with frost 
and snow, and the North Wind was blowing 
and roaring above it. * Climb up ! little boy,' 
said the Tree, and it bent its branches down 
as low as it could ; but the boy was too tiny. 

And the Giant's heart melted as he looked 
out. * How selfish I have been ! ' he said ; 
* now I know why the Spring would not come 
here. I will put that poor little boy on the 
top of the tree, and then I will knock down 
the wall, and my garden shall be the children's 
playground for ever and ever.' He was really 
very sorry for what he had done. 

So he crept downstairs and opened the front 
door quite softly, and went out into the garden. 

205 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

But when the children saw him they were so. 
frightened that they all ran away, and the 
garden became Winter again. Only the little 
boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of 
tears that he did not see the Giant coming. 
And the Giant stole up behind him and took 
him gently in his hand, and put him up into 
the tree. And the tree broke at once into 
blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, 
and the little boy stretched out his two arms 
and flung them round the Giant's neck, and 
kissed him. And the other children, when they 
saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, 
came running back, and with them came the 
Spring. * It is your garden now, little children,' 
said the Giant, and he took a great axe and 
knocked down the wall. And when the people 
were going to market at twelve o'clock they 
found the Giant playing with the children in 
the most beautiful garden they had ever seen. 

All day long they played, and in the evening 
they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye. 

But where is your little companion ? ' he 
said : ' the boy I put into the tree.' The Giant 
loved him the best because he had kissed him. 

* We don't know,' answered the children ; 
' he has gone away.' 
206 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

' You must tell him to be sure and come here 
to-morrow,' said the Giant. But the children 
said they did not know where he lived, and 
had never seen him before ; and the Giant felt 
very sad. 

Every afternoon, when school was over, the 
children came and played with the Giant. But 
the little boy whom the Giant loved was never 
seen again. The Giant was very kind to all 
the children, yet he longed for his first little 
friend, and often spoke of him. * How I would 
like to see him ! ' he used to say. 

Years went over, and the Giant grew very 
old and feeble. He could not play about any 
more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched 
the children at their games, and admired his 
garden. ' I have many beautiful flowers,' he 
said, * but the children are the most beautiful 
flowers of all.' 

One winter morning he looked out of his 
window as he was dressing. He did not hate 
the Winter now, for he knew that it was 
merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers 
were resting. 

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and 
looked and looked. It certainly was a mar- 
vellous sight. In the farthest corner of the 

207 



THE SELFISH GIANT 

garden was a tree quite covered with lovely 
white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, 
and silver fruit hung down from them, and under- 
neath it stood the little boy he had loved. 

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and 
out into the garden. He hastened across the 
grass, and came near to the child. And when 
he came quite close his face grew red with 
anger, and he said, * Who hath dared to wound 
thee ? ' For on the palms of the child's hands^ 
were the prints of two nails, and the prints of 
two nails were on the little feet. 

* Who hath dared to wound thee ? ' cried the 
Giant ; ' tell me, that I may take my big 
sword and slay him.' 

* Nay ! ' answered the child ; ' but these are 
the wounds of Love.' 

' Who art thou ? ' said the Giant, and a 
strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before 
the little child. 

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said 
to him, * You let me play once in your garden ; 
to-day you shall come with me to my garden, 
which is Paradise.' 

And when the children ran in that afternoon, 
they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, 
all covered with white blossoms. 
208 






THE DEVOTED FRIEND 



209 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

ONE morning the old Water-rat put his 
head out of his hole. He had bright 
beady eyes and stiff grey whiskers, 
and his tail was like a long bit of black india- 
rubber. The little ducks were swimming about 
in the pond, looking just like a lot of yellow 
canaries, and their mother, who was pure white 
with real red legs, was trying to teach them 
how to stand on their heads in the water. 

* You will never be in the best society unless 
you can stand on your heads/ she kept saying 
to them ; and every now and then she showed 
them how it was done. But the little ducks 
paid no attention to her. They were so young 
that they did not know what an advantage it 
is to be in society at all. 

* What disobedient children ! ' cried the old 
Water-rat ; * they really deserve to be drowned.' 

' Nothing of the kind,' answered the Duck, 

211 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

' every one must make a beginning, and parents 
cannot be too patient.' 

' Ah ! I know nothing about the feelings of 
parents,' said the Water-rat ; ' I am not a family 
man. In fact, I have never been married, and 
I never intend to be. Love is all very well in 
its way, but friendship is much higher. Indeed, 
I know of nothing in the world that is either 
nobler or rarer than a devoted friendship.' 

* And what, pray, is your idea of the duties 
of a devoted friend ? ' asked a Green Linnet, 
who was sitting in a willow-tree hard by, and 
had overheard the conversation. 

* Yes, that is just what I want to know,' said 
the Duck, and she swam away to the end of 
the pond, and stood upon her head, in order to 
give her children a good example. 

* What a silly question ! ' cried the Water-rat. 
'I should expect my devoted friend to be 
devoted to me, of course.' 

' And what would you do in return ? ' said 
the little bird, swinging upon a silver spray, 
and flapping his tiny wings. 

'I don't understand you,' answered the 
Water-rat. 

' Let me tell you a story on the subject,' said 
the Linnet. 
212 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

* Is the story about me ? ' asked the Water- 
rat. * If so, I will listen to it, for I am extremely 
fond of fiction.' 

* It is applicable to you,' answered the 
Linnet ; and he flew down, and alighting upon 
the bank, he told the story of The Devoted 
Friend. 

* Once upon a time,' said the Linnet, ' there 
was an honest little fellow named Hans.' 

'Was he very distinguished?' asked the 
Water-rat. 

* No/ answered the Linnet, ' I don't think 
he was distinguished at all, except for his kind 
heart, and his funny round good-humoured 
face. He lived in a tiny cottage all by himself, 
and every day he worked in his garden. In all 
the countryside there was no garden so lovely 
as his. Sweet-william grew there, and Gilly- 
flowers, and Shepherds'-purses, and Fair-maids 
of France. There were damask Roses, and 
yellow Roses, lilac Crocuses and gold, purple 
Violets and white. Columbine and Ladysmock, 
Marjoram and Wild Basil, the Cowslip and the 
Flower-de-luce, the Daffodil and the Clove- 
Pink bloomed or blossomed in their proper 
order as the months went by, one flower taking 
another flower's place, so that there were always 

213 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

beautiful things to look at, and pleasant odours 
to smell. 

' Little Hans had a great many friends, but 
the most devoted friend of all was big Hugh 
the Miller. Indeed, so devoted was the rich 
Miller to little Hans, that he would never go 
by his garden without leaning over the wall 
and plucking a large nosegay, or a handful of 
sweet herbs, or filling his pockets with plums 
and cherries if it was the fruit season. 

' " Real friends should have everything in 
common," the Miller used to say, and little 
Hans nodded and smiled, and felt very proud 
of having a friend with such noble ideas. 

* Sometimes, indeed, the neighbours thought 
it strange that the rich Miller never gave little 
Hans anything in return, though he had a 
hundred sacks of flour stored away in his mill, 
and six milch cows, and a large flock of woolly 
sheep ; but Hans never troubled his head about 
these things, and nothing gave him greater 
pleasure than to listen to all the wonderful 
things the Miller used to say about the un- 
selfishness of true friendship. 

* So little Hans worked away in his garden. 
During the spring, the summer, and the 
autumn he was very happy, but when the 

214 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

winter came, and he had no fruit or flowers 
to bring to the market, he suffered a good deal 
from cold and hunger, and often had to go 
to bed without any supper but a few dried pears 
or some hard nuts. In the winter, also, he 
was extremely lonely, as the Miller never came 
to see him then. 

* " There is no good in my going to see little 
Hans as long as the snow lasts," the Miller used 
to say to his wife, " for when people are in 
trouble they should be left alone, and not be 
bothered by visitors. That at least is my idea 
about friendship, and I am sure I am right. 
So I shall wait till the spring comes, and then 
I shall pay him a visit, and he will be able to 
give me a large basket of primroses, and that 
will make him so happy." 

* " You are certainly very thoughtful about 
others," answered the Wife, as she sat in her 
comfortable armchair by the big pinewood fire ; 
" very thoughtful indeed. It is quite a treat to 
hear you talk about friendship. I am sure the 
clergyman himself could not say such beautiful 
things as you do, though he does live in a three- 
storied house, and wears a gold ring on his little 
finger." 

4 " But could we not ask little Hans up 

215 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

here ? " said the Miller's youngest son. * If 
poor Hans is in trouble I will give him half 
my porridge, and show him my white rabbits." 

* " What a silly boy you are ! " cried the 
Miller ; " I really don't know what is the use 
of sending you to school. You seem not to 
learn anything. ' Why, if little Hans came up 
here, and saw our warm fire, and our good 
supper, and our great cask of red wine, he 
might get envious, and envy is a most terrible 
thing, and would spoil anybody's nature. I 
certainly will not allow Hans' nature to be 
spoiled. I am his best friend, and I will always 
watch over him, and see that he is not led into 
any temptations. Besides, if Hans came here, 
he might ask me to let him have some flour on 
credit, and that I could not do. Flour is one 
thing, and friendship is another, and they 
should not be confused. Why, the words are 
spelt differently, and mean quite different 
things. Everybody can see that." 

' " How well you talk ! " said the Miller's Wife, 
pouring herself out a large glass of warm ale; 
" really I feel quite drowsy. It is just like being 
in church." 

'"Lots of people act well," answered the 
Miller; "but very few people talk well, which 
216 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

shows that talking is much the more difficult 
thing of the two, and much the finer thing 
also"; and he looked sternly across the table 
at his little son, who felt so ashamed of himself 
that he hung his head down, and grew quite 
scarlet, and began to cry into his tea. How- 
ever, he was so young that you must excuse 
him.' 

' Is that the end of the story ? ' asked the 
Water-rat. 

* Certainly not/ answered the Linnet, ' that 
is the beginning.' 

'Then you are quite behind the age,' said 
the Water-rat. * Every good story-teller nowa- 
days starts with the end, and then goes on to 
the beginning, and concludes with the middle. 
That is the new method. I heard all about it 
the other day from a critic who was walking 
round the pond with a young man. He spoke 
of the matter at great length, and I am sure 
he must have been right, for he had blue 
spectacles and a bald head, and whenever the 
young man made any remark, he always 
answered " Pooh ! " But pray go on with your 
story. I like the Miller immensely. I have 
all kinds of beautiful sentiments myself, so 
there is a great sympathy between us.' 

217 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

' Well,' said the Linnet, hopping now on one 
leg and now on the other, ' as soon as the 
winter was over, and the primroses began to 
open their pale yellow stars, the Miller said 
to his wife that he would go down and see 
little Hans. 

* "Why, what a good heart you have! " cried 
his wife ; " you are always thinking of others. 
And mind you take the big basket with you 
for the flowers." 

' So the Miller tied the sails of the windmill 
together with a strong iron chain, arid went 
down the hill with the basket on his arm. 

* " Good morning, little Hans," said the 
Miller. 

' " Good morning," said Hans, leaning on his 
spade, and smiling from ear to ear. 

* " And how have you been all the winter ? " 
said the Miller. 

' " Well, really," cried Hans, " it is very good 
of you to ask, very good indeed. I am afraid 
I had rather a hard time of it, but now the 
spring has come, and I am quite happy, and 
all my flowers are doing well." 

* " We often talked of you during the winter, 
Hans," said the Miller, "and wondered how 
you were getting on." 

218 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

' " That was kind of you," said Hans ; " I 
was half afraid you had forgotten me." 

'"Hans, I am surprised at you," said the 
Miller ; " friendship never forgets. That is 
the wonderful thing about it, but I am afraid 
you don't understand the poetry of life. How 
lovely your primroses are looking, by the 
bye ! " 

* " They are certainly very lovely," said 
Hans, " and it is a most lucky thing for me 
that I have so many. I am going to bring 
them into the market and sell them to the 
Burgomaster's daughter, and buy back my 
wheelbarrow with the money." 

' " Buy back your wheelbarrow ? You don't 
mean to say you have sold it ? What a very 
stupid thing to do ! " 

* " Well, the fact is," said Hans, " that I was 
obliged to. You see the winter was a very 
bad time for me, and I really had no money 
at all to buy bread with. So I first sold the 
silver buttons off my Sunday coat, and then 
I sold my silver chain, and then I sold my 
big pipe, and at last I sold my wheelbarrow. 
But I am going to buy them all back again 
now." 

'"Hans," said the Miller, "I will give you 

219 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

my wheelbarrow. It is not in very good repair ; 
indeed, one side is gone, and there is some- 
thing wrong with the wheel-spokes; but in 
spite of that I will give it to you. I know it 
is very generous of me, and a great many 
people would think me extremely foolish for 
parting with it, but I am not like the rest of 
the world. I think that generosity is the 
essence of friendship, and, besides, I have got 
a new wheelbarrow for myself. Yes, you may 
set your mind at ease, I will give you my 
wheelbarrow." 

' " Well, really, that is generous of you," 
said little Hans, and his funny round face 
glowed all over with pleasure. " I can easily 
put it in repair, as I have a plank of wood in 
the house." 

* " A plank of wood ! " said the Miller ; 
" why, that is just what I want for the roof of 
my barn. There is a very large hole in it, 
and the corn will all get damp if I don't stop 
it up. How lucky you mentioned it! It is 
quite remarkable how one good action always 
breeds another. I have given you my wheel- 
barrow, and now you are going to give me 
your plank. Of course, the wheelbarrow is 
worth far more than the plank, but true friend- 
220 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

ship never notices things like that. Pray get 
it at once, and I will set to work at my barn 
this very day." 

' " Certainly," cried little Hans, and he ran 
into the shed and dragged the plank out. 

* " It is not a very big plank," said the 
Miller, looking at it, "and I am afraid that 
after I have mended my barn-roof there won't 
be any left for you to mend the wheelbarrow 
with ; but, of course, that is not my fault. And 
now, as I have given you my wheelbarrow, I 
am sure you would like to give me some 
flowers in return. Here is the basket, and 
mind you fill it quite full." 

'"Quite full?" said little Hans, rather 
sorrowfully, for it was really a very big basket, 
and he knew that if he filled it he would have 
no flowers left for the market, and he was very 
anxious to get his silver buttons back. 

* " Well, really," answered the Miller, " as 
I have given you my wheelbarrow, I don't 
think that it is much to ask you for a few 
flowers. I may be wrong, but I should have 
thought that friendship, true friendship, was 
quite free from selfishness of any kind." 

'"My dear friend, my best friend," cried 
little Hans, " you are welcome to all the 

221 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

flowers in my garden. I would much sooner 
have your good opinion than my silver 
buttons, any day"; and he ran and plucked 
all his pretty primroses, and filled the Miller's 
basket. 

" Good-bye, little Hans," said the Miller, 
as he went up the hill with the plank on his 
shoulder, and the big basket in his hand. 

* " Good-bye," said little Hans, and he began 
to dig away quite merrily, he was so pleased 
about the wheelbarrow. 

'The next day he was nailing up some 
honeysuckle against the porch, when he heard 
the Miller's voice calling to him from the road. 
So he jumped off the ladder, and ran down the 
garden, and looked over the wall. 

* There was the Miller with a large sack of 
flour on his back. 

"Dear little Hans," said the Miller, " would 
you mind carrying this sack of flour for me to 
market ? " 

' " Oh, I am so sorry," said Hans, " but I 
am really very busy to-day. I have got all 
my creepers to nail up, and all my flowers to 
water, and all my grass to roll." 

'"Well, really," said the Miller, "I think 
that, considering that I am going to give you 
222 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

my wheelbarrow, it is rather unfriendly of you 
to refuse." 

' " Oh, don't say that," cried little Hans, " I 
wouldn't be unfriendly for the whole world " ; 
and he ran in for his cap, and trudged off with 
the big sack on his shoulders, t 

'It was a very hot day, and the road was 
terribly dusty, and before Hans had reached 
the sixth milestone he was so tired that he 
had to sit down and rest. However, he went 
on bravely, and at last he reached the market. 
After he had waited there some time, he sold 
the sack of flour for a very good price, and 
then he returned home at once, for he was 
afraid that if he stopped too late he might meet 
some robbers on the way. 

* " It has certainly been a hard day," said 
little Hans to himself as he was going to bed, 
" but I am glad I did not refuse the Miller, 
for he is my best friend, and, besides, he is 
going to give me his wheelbarrow." 

' Early the next morning the Miller came 
down to get the money for his sack of flour, 
but little Hans was so tired that he was still 
in bed. 

* " Upon my word," said the Miller, " you 
are very lazy. Really, considering that I am 

223 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

going to give you my wheelbarrow, I think 
you might work harder. Idleness is a great 
sin, and I certainly don't like any of my friends 
to be idle or sluggish. You must not mind 
my speaking quite plainly to you. Of course 
I should not dream of doing so if I were not 
your friend. But what is the good of friend- 
ship if one cannot say exactly what one means ? 
Anybody can say charming things and try to 
please and to flatter, but a true friend always 
says unpleasant things, and does not mind 
giving pain. Indeed, if he is a really true 
friend he prefers it, for he knows that then he 
is doing good." 

' " I am very sorry," said little Hans, 
rubbing his eyes and pulling off his night-cap, 
"but I was so tired that I thought I would 
lie in bed for a little time, and listen to the 
birds singing. Do you know that I always work 
better after hearing the birds sing ? " 

' " Well, I am glad of that," said the Miller, 
clapping little Hans on the back, " for I want 
you to come up to the mill as soon as you 
are dressed, and mend my barn-roof for me." 

'Poor little Hans was very anxious to go 
and work in his garden, for his flowers had 
not been watered for two days, but he did not 
224 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

like to refuse the Miller, as he was such a 
good friend to him. 

' " Do you think it would be unfriendly of 
me if I said I was busy ? ' he inquired in a shy 
and timid voice. 

* " Well, really," answered the Miller, " I do 
not think it is much to ask of you, considering 
that I am going to give you my wheelbarrow ; 
but of course if you refuse I will go and do it 
myself." 

' " Oh ! on no account," cried little Hans ; 
and he jumped out of bed, and dressed himself, 
and went up to the barn. 

' He worked there all day long, till sunset, 
and at sunset the Miller came to see how he 
was getting on. 

* " Have you mended the hole in the roof yet, 
little Hans ? " cried the Miller in a cheery voice. 

* " It is quite mended," answered little Hans, 
coming down the ladder. 

'"Ah!" said the Miller, "there is no work 
so delightful as the work one does for others." 

' " It is certainly a great privilege to hear you 
talk," answered little Hans, sitting down and 
wiping his forehead, "a very great privilege. 
But I am afraid I shall never have such 
beautiful ideas as you have." 

p 225 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

* " Oh ! they will come to you," said the 
Miller, " but you must take more pains. At 
present you have only the practice of friendship ; 
some day you will have the theory also." 

'"Do you really think I shall?" asked little 
Hans. 

' " I have no doubt of it," answered the Miller ; 
" but now that you have mended the roof, you 
had better go home and rest, for I want you 
to drive my sheep to the mountain to-morrow." 

' Poor little Hans was afraid to say anything 
to this, and early the next morning the Miller 
brought his sheep round to the cottage, and 
Hans started off' with them to the mountain. 
It took him the whole day to get there and 
back; and when he returned he was so tired 
that he went off to sleep in his chair, and did 
not wake up till it was broad daylight. 

'"What a delightful time I shall have in 
my garden," he said, and he went to work at 
once. 

' But somehow he was never able to look 
after his flowers at all, for his friend the Miller 
was always coming round and sending him off 
on long errands, or getting him to help at the 
mill. Little Hans was veiy much distressed 
at times, as he was afraid his flowers would 
226 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

think he had forgotten them, but he consoled 
himself by the reflection that the Miller was 
his best friend. "Besides," he used to say, 
" he is going to give me his wheelbarrow, and 
that is an act of pure generosity." 

* So little Hans worked away for the Miller, 
and the Miller said all kinds of beautiful things 
about friendship, which Hans took down in a 
note-book, and used to read over at night, for 
he was a very good scholar. 

'Now it happened that one evening little 
Hans was sitting by his fireside when a loud 
rap came at the door. It was a very wild 
night, and the wind was blowing and roaring 
round the house so terribly that at first he 
thought it was merely the storm. But a second 
rap came, and then a third, louder than either 
of the others. 

' " It is some poor traveller," said little Hans 
to himself, as he ran to the door. 

* There stood the Miller with a lantern in 
one hand and a big stick in the other. 

* " Dear little Hans," cried he Miller, " I am 
in great trouble. My little^Jboy has fallen off 
a ladder and hurt himself/'and I am going for 
the Doctor. But he lives so far away, and it 
is such a bad night, that it has just occurred 

227 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

to me that it would be much better if you 
went instead of me. You know I am going to 
give you my wheelbarrow, and so it is only 
fair that you should do something for me in 
return." 

' " Certainly," cried little Hans, " I take it 
quite as a compliment your coming to me, and 
I will start off at once. But you must lend 
me your lantern, as the night is so dark that 
I am afraid I might fall into the ditch." 

* " I am very sorry," answered the Miller, 
" but it is my new lantern, and it would be a 
great loss to me if anything happened to it." 

* " Well, never mind, I will do without it," 
cried little Hans, and he took down his great 
fur coat, and his warm scarlet cap, and tied a 
muffler round his throat, and started off. 

* What a dreadful storm it was ! The night 
was so black that little Hans could hardly see, 
and the wind was so strong that he could 
scarcely stand. However, he was very courage- 
ous, and after he had been walking about three 
hours, he arrived at the Doctor's house, and 
knocked at the door. 

* " Who is there ? " cried the Doctor, putting 
his head out of his bedroom window. 

' " Little Hans, Doctor." 
228 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

" What do you want, little Hans ? " 

' " The Miller's son has fallen from a ladder, 
and has hurt himself, and the Miller wants you 
to come at once." 

'"All right!" said the Doctor; and he 
ordered his horse, and his big boots, and his 
lantern, and came downstairs, and rode off in 
the direction of the Miller's house, little Hans 
trudging behind him. 

'But the storm grew worse and worse, and 
the rain fell in torrents, and little Hans could 
not see where he was going, or keep up with 
the horse. At last he lost his way, and 
wandered off on the moor, which was a very 
dangerous place, as it was full of deep holes, 
and there poor little Hans was drowned. 
His body was found the next day By some 
goatherds, floating in a great pool of water, 
and was brought back by them to the 
i cottage. 

'Everybody went to little Hans' funeral as 
he was so popular, and the Miller was the chief 
mourner. 

'" As I was his best friend," said the Miller, 
"it is only fair that I should have the best 
place"; so he walked at the head of the pro- 
cession in a long black cloak, and every now 

229 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

and then he wiped his eyes with a big pocket- 
handkerchief. 

'"Little Hans is certainly a great loss to 
every one," said the Blacksmith, when the 
funeral was over, and they were all seated 
comfortably in the inn, drinking spiced wine 
and eating sweet cakes. 

' " A great loss to me at any rate," answered 
the Miller ; " why, I had as good as given him 
my wheelbarrow, and now I really don't know 
what to do with it. It is very much in my 
way at home, and it is in such bad repair that 
I could not get anything for it if I sold it. 
I will certainly take care not to give away 
anything again. One always suffers for being 
generous." 1 

' Well ? ' said the Water-rat after a long 
pause. 

' Well, that is the end,' said the Linnet. 

' But what became of the Miller ? ' asked the 
Water-rat. 

' Oh ! I really don't know,' replied the 
Linnet ; 'and I am sure that I don't care.' 

'It is quite evident then that you have no 
sympathy in your nature/ said the Water-rat. 

' I am afraid you don't quite see the moral of 
the story/ remarked the Linnet. 
230 



THE DEVOTED FRIEND 

* The what ? ' screamed the Water-rat. 
' The moral/ 

'Do you mean to say that the story has a 
moral ? ' 

* Certainly,' said the Linnet. 

' Well, really,' said the Water-rat, in a very 
angry manner, * I think you should have told- 
me that before you began. If you had done so, 
I certainly would not have listened to you ; in 
fact, I should have said " Pooh," like the critic. 
However, I can say it now ' ; so he shouted 
out 'Pooh' at the top of his voice, gave a 
whisk with his tail, and went back into his 
hole. 

' And how do yoji like the Water-rat ? ' asked 
the Duck, who came paddling up some minutes 
afterwards. ' He has a great many good points, 
but for my own part I have a mother's feelings, 
and I can never look at a confirmed bachelor 
without the tears coming into my eyes.' 

' I am rather afraid that I have annoyed him,' 
answered the Linnet. ' The fact is, that I told 
him a story with a moral.' 

' Ah ! that is always a very dangerous thing 
to do,' said the Duck. 

And I quite agree with her. 



231 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 



?>,*> 



<*t 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

THE King's son was going to be married, 
so there were general rejoicings. He 
had waited a whole year for his bride, 
and at last she had arrived. She was a Russian 
Princess, and had driven all the way from 
Finland in a sledge drawn by six reindeer. The 
sledge was shaped like a great golden swan, and 
between the swan's wings lay the little Princess 
herself. Her long ermine cloak reached right 
down to her feet, on her head was a tiny cap of 
silver tissue, and she was as pale as the Snow 
Palace in which she had always lived. So pale 
was she that as she drove through the streets 
all the people wondered. * She is like a white 
rose 1 ' they cried, and they threw down flowers 
on her from the balconies. 

At the gate of the Castle the Prince was 
waiting to receive her. He had dreamy violet 
eyes, and his hair was like fine gold. When he 

235 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

saw her he sank upon one knee, and kissed her 
hand. 

* Your picture was beautiful,' he murmured, 
' but you are more beautiful than your picture ' ; 
and the little Princess blushed. 

* She was like a white rose before,' said a 
young Page to his neighbour, * but she is like 
a red rose now'; and the whole Court was 
delighted. 

For the next three days everybody went 
about saying, ' White rose, Red rose, Red rose, 
White rose '; and the King gave orders that 
the Page's salary was to be doubled. As he 
received no salary at all this was not of much 
use to him, but it was considered a great honour, 
and was duly published in the Court Gazette. 

When the three days were over the marriage 
was celebrated. It was a magnificent ceremony, 
and the bride and bridegroom walked hand in 
hand under a canopy of purple velvet em- 
broidered with little pearls. Then there was a 
State Banquet, which lasted for five hours. 
The Prince and Princess sat at the top of the 
Great Hall and drank out of a cup of clear 
crystal. Only true lovers could drink out of 
this cup, for if false lips touched it, it grew grey 
and dull and cloudy. 
236 






THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

* It is quite clear that they love each other/ 
said the little Page, ' as clear as crystal ! ' and 
the King doubled his salary a second time. 
* What an honour ! ' cried all the courtiers. 

After the Banquet there was to be a Ball. 
The bride and bridegroom were to dance the 
Rose-dance together, and the King had pro- 
mised to play the flute. He played very badly, 
but no one had ever dared to tell him so, be- 
cause he was the King. Indeed, he knew only 
two airs, and was never quite certain which one 
he was playing; but it made no matter, for, 
whatever he did, everybody cried out, * Charm- 
ing ! charming ! ' 

The last item on the programme was a grand 
display of fireworks, to be let off exactly at 
midnight. The little Princess had never seen 
a firework in her life, so the King had given 
orders that the Royal Pyrotechnist should be 
in attendance on the day of her marriage. 

' What are fireworks like ? ' she had asked the 
Prince, one morning, as she was walking on the 
terrace. 

* They are like the Aurora Borealis,' said the 
King, who always answered questions that were 
addressed to other people, 'only much more 
natural. I prefer them to stars myself, as you 

237 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

always know when they are going to appear, 
and they are as delightful as my own flute- 
playing. You must certainly see them.' 

So at the end of the King's garden a great 
stand had been set up, and as soon as the Royal 
Pyrotechnist had put everything in its proper 
place, the fireworks began to talk to each other. 

' The world is certainly very beautiful,' cried 
a little Squib. 'Just look at those yellow 
tulips. Why ! if they were real crackers they 
could not be lovelier. I am very glad I have 
travelled. Travel improves the mind wonder- 
fully, and does away with all one's prejudices.* 

' The King's garden is not the world, you 
foolish squib,' said a big Roman Candle ; * the 
world is an enormous place, and it would take 
you three days to see it thoroughly.' 

* Any place you love is the world to you,' ex- 
claimed a pensive Catherine Wheel, who had 
been attached to an old deal box in early life, 
and prided herself on her broken heart; 'but 
love is not fashionable anymore ; the poets have 
killed it. They wrote so much about it that 
nobody believed them, and I am not surprised. 
True love suffers, and is silent. I remember 

myself once But it is no matter now. 

Romance is a thing of the past.' 
238 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

' Nonsense ! ' said the Roman Candle, ' Rom- 
ance never dies. It is like the moon, and lives 
for ever. The bride and bridegroom, for in- 
stance, love each other very dearly. I heard 
all about them this morning from a brown-paper 
cartridge, who happened to be staying in the 
same drawer as myself, and knew the latest 
Court news.' 

But the Catherine Wheel shook her head., 
' Romance is dead, Romance is dead, Romance 
is dead,' she murmured. She was one of those 
people who think that, if you say the same 
thing over and over a great many times, it be- 
comes true in the end. 

Suddenly, a sharp, dry cough was heard, and 
they all looked round. 

It came from a tall, supercilious -looking 
Rocket, who was tied to the end of a long 
stick. He always coughed before he made any 
observation, so as to attract attention. 

* Ahem ! ahem ! ' he said, and everybody 
listened except the poor Catherine Wheel, who 
was still shaking her head, and murmuring, 
* Romance is dead.' 

' Order ! order ! ' cried out a Cracker. He 
was something of a politician, and had always 
taken a prominent part in the local elections, so 

239 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

he knew the proper Parliamentary expressions 
to use. 

* Quite dead,' whispered the Catherine Wheel, 
and she went off to sleep. 

As soon as there was perfect silence, the 
Rocket coughed a third time and began. He 
spoke with a very slow, distinct voice, as if he 
was dictating his memoirs, and always looked 
over the shoulder of the person to whom he 
was talking. In fact, he had a most distinguished 
manner. 

* How fortunate it is for the King's son,' he 
remarked, 'that he is to be married on the very 
day on which I am to be let off. Really, if it 
had been arranged beforehand, it could not have 
turned out better for him ; but Princes are 
always lucky.' 

* Dear me ! ' said the little Squib, ' I thought 
it was quite the other way, and that we were to 
be let off in the Prince's honour.' 

' It may be so with you,' he answered ; ' in- 
deed, I have no doubt that it is, but with me it 
is different. I am a very remarkable Rocket, 
and come of remarkable parents. My mother 
was the most celebrated Catherine Wheel of 
her day, and was renowned for her graceful 
dancing. When she made her great public 
240 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

appearance she spun round nineteen times be- 
fore she went out, and each time that she did 
so she threw into the air seven pink stars. She 
was three feet and a half in diameter, and made 
of the very best gunpowder. My father was a 
Rocket like myself, and of French extraction. 
He flew so high that the people were afraid 
that he would never come down again. He 
did, though, for he was of a kindly disposition, 
and he made a most brilliant descent in a 
shower of golden rain. The newspapers wrote 
about his performance in very flattering terms. 
Indeed, the Court Gazette called him a triumph 
of Pylotechnic art.' 

'Pyrotechnic, Pyrotechnic, you mean,' said 
a Bengal Light ; ' I know it is Pyrotechnic, for 
I saw it written on my own canister.' 

' Well, I said Pylotechnic,' answered the 
Rocket, in a severe tone of voice, and the 
Bengal Light felt so crushed that he began at 
once to bully the little squibs, in order to show 
that he was still a person of some importance. 

' I was saying,' continued the Rocket, * I was 
saying What was I saying ? ' 

'You were talking about yourself,' replied 
the Roman Candle. 

' Of course ; I knew I was discussing some 

Q 241 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

interesting subject when I was so rudely inter- 
rupted. I hate rudeness and bad manners of 
every kind, for I am extremely sensitive. No 
one in the whole world is so sensitive as I am, I 
am quite sure of that.' 

' What is a sensitive person ? ' said the 
Cracker to the Roman Candle. 

* A person who, because he has corns himself, 
always treads on other people's toes,' answered 
the Roman Candle in a low whisper ; and the 
Cracker nearly exploded with laughter. 

' Pray, what are you laughing at ? ' inquired 
the Rocket ; ' I am not laughing.' 

* I am laughing because I am happy,' replied 
the Cracker. 

'That is a very selfish reason,' said the 
Rocket angrily. ' What right have you to be 
happy ? You should be thinking about others. 
In fact, you should be thinking about me. I 
am always thinking about myself, and I expect 
everybody else to do the same. That is what 
is called sympathy. It is a beautiful virtue, and 
I possess it in a high degree. Suppose, for 
instance, anything happened to me to-night, 
what a misfortune that would be for every one ! 
The Prince and Princess would never be happy 
again, their whole married life would be spoiled ; 
242 






THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

and as for the King, I know he would not get 
over it. Really, when I begin to reflect on the 
importance of my position, I am almost moved 
to tears.' 

' If you want to give pleasure to others,' cried 
the Roman Candle, ' you had better keep your- 
self dry.' 

* Certainly,' exclaimed the Bengal Light, who 
was now in better spirits ; * that is only common 
sense.' 

' Common sense, indeed ! ' said the Rocket 
indignantly ; * you forget that I am very un- 
common, and very remarkable. Why, anybody 
can have common sense, provided that they 
have no imagination. But I have imagination, 
for I never think of things as they really are ; I 
always think of them as being quite different. 
As for keeping myself dry, there is evidently no 
one here who can at all appreciate an emotional 
nature. Fortunately for myself, I don't care. 
The only thing that sustains one through life 
is the consciousness of the immense inferiority 
of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I 
have always cultivated. But none of you have 
any hearts. Here you are laughing and making 
merry just as if the Prince and Princess had not 
just been married.' 

243 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

* Well, really,' exclaimed a small Fire-balloon, 
' why not ? It is a most joyful occasion, and 
when I soar up into the air I intend to tell the 
stars all about it. You will see them twinkle 
when I talk to them about the pretty bride.' 

* Ah ! what a trivial view of life 1 ' said the 
Rocket ; * but it is only what I expected. 
There is nothing in you ; you are hollow and 
empty. Why, perhaps the Prince and Princess 
may go to live in a country where there is a 
deep river, and perhaps they may have one only 
son, a little fair-haired boy with violet eyes like 
the Prince himself; and perhaps some day he 
may go out to walk with his nurse; and per- 
haps the nurse may go to sleep under a great 
elder-tree ; and perhaps the little boy may fall 
into the deep river and be drowned. What a 
terrible misfortune ! Poor people, to lose their 
only son 1 It is really too dreadful ! I shall 
never get over it.' 

* But they have not lost their only son,' 
said the Roman Candle; 'no misfortune has 
happened to them at all.' 

*I never said that they had,' replied the 

Rocket ; ' I said that they might. If they had 

lost their only son there would be no use in 

saying anything more about the matter. I hate 

244 * 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

people who cry over spilt milk. But when I 
think that they might lose their only son, I 
certainly am very much affected.' 

* You certainly are ! ' cried the Bengal Light. 
' In fact, you are the most affected person I 
ever met.' 

* You are the rudest person I ever met,' said 
the Rocket, 'and you cannot understand my 
friendship for the Prince.' 

* Why, you don't even know him,' growled 
the Roman Candle. 

' I never said I knew him,' answered the 
Rocket. * I dare say that if I knew him I 
should not be his friend at all. It is a very 
dangerous thing to know one's friends.' 

'You had really better keep yourself dry,' 
said the Fire-balloon. * That is the important 
thing.' 

' Very important for you, I have no doubt, 
answered the Rocket, 'but I shall weep if I 
choose ' ; and he actually burst into real tears, 
which flowed down his stick like rain-drops, 
and nearly drowned two little beetles, who were 
just thinking of setting up house together, 
and were looking for a nice dry spot to live in. 

' He must have a truly romantic nature,' said 
the Catherine Wheel, ' for he weeps when there 

245 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

is nothing at all to weep about'; and she 
heaved a deep sigh, and thought about the 
deal box. 

But the Roman Candle and the Bengal 
Light were quite indignant, and kept saying, 
* Humbug 1 humbug ! ' at the top of their 
voices. They were extremely practical, and 
whenever they objected to anything they called 
it humbug. 

Then the moon rose like a wonderful silver 
shield ; and the stars began to shine, and a 
sound of music came from the palace. 

The Prince and Princess were leading the 
dance. They danced so beautifully that the 
tall white lilies peeped in at the window and 
watched them, and the great red poppies nodded 
their heads and beat time. 

'Then ten o'clock struck, and then eleven, 
and then twelve, and at the last stroke of mid- 
night every one came out on the terrace, and 
the King sent for the Royal Pyrotechnist. 

'Let the fireworks begin,' said the King; 
and the Royal Pyrotechnist made a low bow, 
and marched down to the end of the garden. 
He had six attendants with him, each of 
whom carried a lighted torch at the end of a 
long pole. 
246 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

It was certainly a magnificent display. 

Whizz ! Whizz ! went the Catherine Wheel, 
as she spun round and round. Boom ! Boom ! 
went the Roman Candle. Then the Squibs 
danced all over the place, and the Bengal 
Lights made everything look scarlet. * Good- 
bye,' cried the Fire-balloon, as he soared away, 
dropping tiny blue sparks. Bang ! Bang ! 
answered the Crackers, who were enjoying 
themselves immensely. Every one was a great 
success except the Remarkable Rocket. He 
was so damp with crying that he could not go 
off at all. The best thing in him was the gun- 
powder, and that was so wet with tears that it 
was of no use. All his poor relations, to whom 
he would never speak, except with a sneer, shot 
up into the sky like wonderful golden flowers 
with blossoms of fire. Huzza ! huzza ! cried 
the Court ; and the little Princess laughed with 
pleasure. 

* I suppose they are reserving me for some 
grand occasion,' said the Rocket : ' no doubt 
that is what it means,' and he looked more 
supercilious than ever. 

The next day the workmen came to put 
everything tidy. * This is evidently a deputa- 
tion,' said the Rocket ; * I will receive them 

247 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

with becoming dignity ' : so he put his nose in 
the air, and began to frown severely as if he 
were thinking about some very important sub- 
ject. But they took no notice of him at all 
till they were just going away. Then one of 
them caught sight of him. * Hallo ! ' he cried, 
'what a bad rocket!' and he threw him over 
the wall into the ditch. 

* BAD Rocket ? BAD Rocket ? ' he said, as 
he whirled through the air ; * impossible ! 
GRAND Rocket, that is what the man said. 
BAD and GRAND sound very much the same, 
indeed they often are the same'; and he fell 
into the mud. 

'It is not comfortable here,' he remarked, 
* but no doubt it is some fashionable watering- 
place, and they have sent me away to recruit my 
health. My nerves are certainly very much 
shattered, and I require rest.' 

Then a little Frog, with bright jewelled 
eyes, and a green mottled coat, swam up to him. 

' A new arrival, I see ! ' said the Frog. ' Well, 
after all there is nothing like mud. Give me 
rainy weather and a ditch, and I am quite 
happy. Do you think it will be a wet after- 
noon ? I am sure I hope so, but the sky is 
quite blue and cloudless. What a pity 1 ' 
248 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

* Ahem ! ahem ! ' said the Rocket, and he be 
gan to cough. 

' What a delightful voice you have ! ' cried 
the Frog. ' Really it is quite like a croak, and 
croaking is of course the most musical sound 
in the world. You will hear our glee-club this 
evening. We sit in the old duck-pond close 
by the farmer's house, and as soon as the moon 
rises we begin. It is so entrancing that every- 
body lies awake to listen to us. In fact, it was 
only yesterday that I heard the farmer's wife 
say to her mother that she could not get a wink 
of sleep at night on account of us. It is most 
gratifying to h'nd oneself so popular.' 

* Ahem ! ahem ! ' said the Rocket angrily 
He was very much annoyed that he could not 
get a word in. 

' A delightful voice, certainly,' continued the 
Frog ; ' I hope you will come over to the duck- 
pond. I am off to look for my daughters. I 
have six beautiful daughters, and I am so 
afraid the Pike may meet them. He is a per- 
fect monster, and would have no hesitation in 
breakfasting off them. Well, good-bye : I have 
enjoyed our conversation very much I assure 
you.' 

' Conversation, indeed ! ' said the Rocket. 

249 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

'You have talked the whole time yourself. 
That is not conversation.' 

* Somebody must listen,' answered the Frog, 
'and I like to do all the talking myself. It 
saves time, and prevents arguments.' 

' But I like arguments/ said the Rocket. 

' I hope not,' said the Frog complacently. 
' Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everybody 
in good society holds exactly the same opinions. 
Good-bye a second time ; I see my daughters in 
the distance ' ; and the little Frog swam away. 

'You are a very irritating person,' said the 
Rocket, ' and very ill-bred. I hate people who 
talk about themselves, as you do, when one 
wants to talk about oneself, as I do. It is what 
I call selfishness, and selfishness is a most de- 
testable thing, especially to any one of my 
temperament, for I am well known for my 
sympathetic nature. In fact, you should take 
example by me ; you could not possibly have a 
better model. Now that you have the chance 
you had better avail yourself of it, for I am 
going back to Court almost immediately. I 
am a great favourite at Court; in fact, the 
Prince and Princess were married yesterday in 
my honour. Of course you know nothing of 
these matters, for you are a provincial.' 
250 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

' There is no good talking to him,' said a 
Dragon-fly, who was sitting on the top of a 
large brown bulrush ; ' no good at all, for he 
has gone away.' 

* Well, that is his loss, not mine,' answered 
the Rocket. ' I am not going to stop talking 
to him merely because he pays no attention. 
I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my 
greatest pleasures. I often have long conversa- 
tions all by myself, and I am so clever that 
sometimes I don't understand a single word of 
what I am saying.' 

' Then you should certainly lecture on Philo- 
sophy,' said the Dragon-fly ; and he spread a 
pair of lovely gauze wings and soared away into 
the sky. 

* How very silly of him not to stay here ! ' 
said the Rocket. * I am sure that he has 
not often got such a chance of improving his 
mind. However, I don't care a bit. Genius 
like mine is sure to be appreciated some day ' ; 
and he sank down a little deeper into the 
mud. 

After some time a large White Duck swam 
up to him. She had yellow legs, and webbed 
feet, and was considered a great beauty on 
account of her waddle. 

251 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

' Quack, quack, quack,' she said. * What 
a curious shape you are ! May I ask were 
you born like that, or is it the result of an 
accident ?' 

'It is quite evident that you have always 
lived in the country,' answered the Rocket, 
' otherwise you would know who I am. How- 
ever, I excuse your ignorance. It would be 
unfair to expect other people to be as remark- 
able as oneself. You will no doubt be surprised 
to hear that I can fly up into the sky, and come 
down in a shower of golden rain.' 

' I don't think much of that,' said the Duck, 
'as I cannot see what use it is to any one. 
Now, if you could plough the fields like the 
ox, or draw a cart like the horse, or look after 
the sheep like the collie-dog, that would be 
something.' 

'My good creature,' cried the Rocket in a 
very haughty tone of voice, ' I see that you 
belong to the lower orders. A person of my 
position is never useful. We have certain ac- 
complishments, and that is more than sufficient. 
I have no sympathy myself with industry of 
any kind, least of all with such industries as 
you seem to recommend. Indeed, I have 
always been of opinion that hard work is simply 
252 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

the refuge of people who have nothing whatever 
to do.' 

'Well, well,' said the Duck, who was of a 
very peaceable disposition, and never quarrelled 
with any one, * everybody has different tastes. 
I hope, at any rate, that you are going to take 
up your residence here.' 

' Oh dear no ! ' cried the Rocket. * I am 
merely a visitor, a distinguished visitor. The 
fact is that I find this place rather tedious. 
There is neither society here, nor solitude. | 
In fact, it is essentially suburban. I shall 
probably go back to Court, for I know that 
I am destined to make a sensation in the 
world.' 

' I had thoughts of entering public life once 
myself,' remarked the Duck ; ' there are so 
many things that need reforming. Indeed, I 
took the chair at a meeting some time ago, and 
we passed resolutions condemning everything 
that we did not like. However, they did not 
seem to have much effect. Now I go in for 
domesticity, and look after my family.' 

* I am made for public life,' said the Rocket, 
' and so are all my relations, even the humblest 
of them. Whenever we appear we excite great 
attention. I have not actually appeared myself, 

253 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

but when I do so it will be a magnificent sight. 
As for domesticity, it ages one rapidly, and 
distracts one's mind from higher things.' 

* Ah ! the higher things of life, how fine they 
are ! ' said the Duck ; * and that reminds me 
how hungry I feel ' : and she swam away 
down the stream, saying, * Quack, quack, 
quack.' 

* Come back ! come back ! ' screamed the 
Rocket, ' I have a great deal to say to you ' ; 
but the Duck paid no attention to him. * I am 
glad that she has gone,' he said to himself, ' she 
has a decidedly middle-class mind'; and he 
sank a little deeper still into the mud, and be- 
gan to think about the loneliness of genius, 
when suddenly two little boys in white smocks 
came running down the bank, with a kettle 
and some faggots.* 

'This must be the deputation,' said the 
Rocket, and he tried to look very dignified. 

' Hallo ! ' cried one of the boys, * look at this 
old stick ! I wonder how it came here ' ; and he 
picked the Rocket out of the ditch. 

' OLD Stick ! ' said the Rocket, * impossible ! 
GOLD Stick, that is what he said. Gold Stick 
is very complimentary. In fact, he mistakes me 
for one of the Court dignitaries ! ' 
254 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

* Let us put it into the fire 1 ' said the other 
boy, 'it will help to boil the kettle.' 

So they piled the faggots together, and put 
the Rocket on top, and lit the fire. 

' This is magnificent,' cried the Rocket ; ' they 
are going to let me off in broad daylight, so 
that every one can see me.' 

' We will go to sleep now,' they said, ' and 
when we wake up the kettle will be boiled ' ; 
and they lay down on the grass, and shut their 
eyes. . 

The Rocket was very damp, so he took a 
long time to burn. At last, however, the fire 
caught him. 

' Now I am going off ! ' he cried, and he 
made himself very stiff and straight. * I know 
I shall go much higher than the stars, much 
higher than the moon, much higher than the 
sun. In fact, I shall go so high that ' 

Fizz ! Fizz ! Fizz ! and he went straight up 
into the air. 

* Delightful '.' he cried, 'I shall go on like 
this for ever. What a success I am ! ' 

But nobody saw him. 

Then he began to feel a curious tingling 
sensation all over him. 

' Now I am going to explode,' he cried. * I 

255 



THE REMARKABLE ROCKET 

shall set the whole world on fire, and make such 
a noise that nobody will talk about anything 
else for a whole year.' And he certainly did 
explode. Bang ! Bang ! Bang ! went the gun- 
powder. There was no doubt about it. 

But nobody heard him, not even the two little 
boys, for they were sound asleep. 

Then all that was left of him was the stick, 
and this fell down on the back of a Goose who 
was taking a walk by the side of the ditch. 

* Good heavens ! ' cried the Goose. * It is 
going to rain sticks ' ; and she rushed into the 
water. 

*I knew I should create a great sensation,' 
gasped the Rocket, and he went out. 



Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 






BINDING LIST 



PR 

5810 
F08 
v.3 / 



Wilde, Oscar 
c Works 3 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY