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Full text of "The holy cross, and other tales"

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THE HOLY CROSS 



THE HOLY CROSS 




Caleg 



BY 



EUGENE FIELD 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER S SONS 

1896 



IBRARY 







t 



MAP. 2 9 19S3 

UNIVERSITY OFTHE PACIFIC J 

Tl687(T 



Copyright 
BY EUGENE FIELD 



Copyright 1896 

BY JULIA SUTHERLAND FIELD 



NOTE. 

To this volume as it was originally issued have been 
added five Tales, beginning with "The Platonic 
Bassoon," which are characteristic of the various 
moods, serious, gay, or pathetic, out of which 
grew the best work of the author s later years. 



DEDICATED WITH LOVE 
AND GRATITUDE TO 
ROSWELL MARTIN FIELD 



Content^ 



PAGE 

THE HOLY CROSS 3 

THE ROSE AND THE THRUSH 27 

THE PAGAN SEAL- WIFE 43 

FLAIL, TRASK, AND BISLAND 77 

THE TOUCH IN THE HEART 91 

DANIEL AND THE DEVIL in 

METHUSELAH 129 

FELICE AND PETIT-POULAIN 147 

THE RIVER 161 

FRANZ ABT 167 

MISTRESS MERCILESS 175 

THE PLATONIC BASSOON 195 

HAWAIIAN FOLK TALES 217 

LUTE BAKER AND His WIFE EM 235 

JOEL S TALK WITH SANTA CLAUS 249 

THE LONESOME LITTLE SHOE 267 



f)e 




THE HOLY CROSS 



WHILST the noble Don Esclevador 
and his little band of venturesome 
followers explored the neighboring fast 
nesses in quest for gold, the Father Miguel 
tarried at the shrine which in sweet piety 
they had hewn out of the stubborn rock in 
that strangely desolate spot. Here, upon 
that serene August morning, the holy Father 
held communion with the saints, beseeching 
them, in all humility, to intercede with our 
beloved Mother for the safe guidance of the 
fugitive Cortes to his native shores, and for 
the divine protection of the little host, which, 
separated from the Spanish army, had wan 
dered leagues to the northward, and had 
sought refuge in the noble mountains of an 
unknown land. The Father s devotions 
were, upon a sudden, interrupted by the ap- 



THE HOLY CROSS 

proach of an aged man who toiled along the 
mountain-side path,- -a man so aged and so 
bowed and so feeble that he seemed to have 
been brought down into that place, by means 
of some necromantic art, out of distant cen 
turies. His face was yellow and wrinkled 
like ancient parchment, and a beard whiter 
than Samite streamed upon his breast, whilst 
about his withered body and shrunken legs 
hung faded raiment which the elements had 
corroded and the thorns had grievously rent. 
And as he toiled along, the aged man con 
tinually groaned, and continually wrung his 
palsied hands, as if a sorrow, no lighter than 
his years, afflicted him. 

"In whose name comest thou?" de 
manded the Father Miguel, advancing a space 
toward the stranger, but not in threatening 
wise; whereat the aged man stopped in his 
course and lifted his eyebrows, and regarded 
the Father a goodly time, but he spake no 
word. 

( In whose name comest thou ? " repeated 
the priestly man. " Upon these mountains 
have we lifted up the cross of our blessed 
Lord in the name of our sovereign liege, and 

4 



AND OTHER TALES 

here have we set down a tabernacle to the 
glory of the Virgin and of her ever-blessed 
son, our Redeemer and thine, whoso thou 
mayest be! 

" Who is thy king I know not," quoth the 
aged man, feebly ; " but the shrine in yonder 
wall of rock I know; and by that symbol 
which I see therein, and by thy faith for 
which it stands, I conjure thee, as thou lov- 
est both, give me somewhat to eat and to 
drink, that betimes I may go upon my way 
again, for the journey before me is a long 
one." 

These words spake the old man in tones 
of such exceeding sadness that the Father 
Miguel, touched by compassion, hastened 
to meet the wayfarer, and, with his arms 
about him, and with whisperings of sweet 
comfort, to conduct him to a resting-place. 
Coarse food in goodly plenty was at hand; 
and it happily fortuned, too, that there was 
a homely wine, made by Pietro del y Sagu- 
ache himself, of the wild grapes in which 
a neighboring valley abounded. Of these 
things anon the old man partook, greedily 
but silently, and all that while he rolled his 

5 



THE HOLY CROSS 

eyes upon the shrine; and then at last, strug 
gling to his feet, he made as if to go upon 
his way. 

"Nay," interposed the Father Miguel, 
kindly; "abide with us a season. Thou art 
an old man and sorely spent. Such as we 
have thou shalt have, and if thy soul be dis 
tressed, we shall pour upon it the healing 
balm of our blessed faith. 

" Little knowest thou whereof thou speak- 
est," quoth the old man, sadly. "There is 
no balm can avail me. I prithee let me go 
hence, ere, knowing what manner of man I 
am, thou hatest me and doest evil unto me/ 
But as he said these words he fell back again 
even then into the seat where he had sat, 
and, as through fatigue, his hoary head 
dropped upon his bosom. 

"Thou art ill!" cried the Father Miguel, 
hastening to his side. "Thou shalt go no 
farther this day! Give me thy staff," and 
he plucked it from him. 

Then said the old man: "As I am now, 
so have I been these many hundred years. 
Thou hast heard tell of me, canst thou not 
guess my name; canst thou not read my 

6 



AND OTHER TALES 

sorrow in my face and in my bosom ? As 
thou art good and holy through thy faith in 
that symbol in yonder shrine, hearken to 
me, for I will tell thee of the wretch whom 
thou hast succored. Then, if it be thy will, 
give me thy curse and send me on my way. 

Much marvelled the Father Miguel at these 
words, and he deemed the old man to be 
mad; but he made no answer. And pre 
sently the old man, bowing his head upon 
his hands, had to say in this wise: 

"Upon a time," he quoth, "I abided in 
the city of the Great King, there was I 
born and there I abided. I was of good 
stature, and I asked favor of none. I was 
an artisan, and many came to my shop, and 
my cunning was sought of many, for I was 
exceeding crafty in my trade; and so, there 
fore, speedily my pride begot -an insolence 
that had respect to none at all. And once I 
heard a tumult in the street, as of the cries 
of men and boys commingled, and the clash 
ing of arms and staves. Seeking to know 
the cause thereof, I saw that one was being 
driven to execution, one that had said he 
was the Son of God and the King of the Jews, 

7 



THE HOLY CROSS 

for which blasphemy and crime against our 
people he was to die upon the cross. Over 
come by the weight of this cross, which he 
bore upon his shoulders, the victim tottered 
in the street and swayed this way and that, as 
though each moment he were like to fall, and 
he groaned in sore agony. Meanwhile about 
him pressed a multitude that with vast clamor 
railed at him and scoffed him and smote him, 
to whom he paid no heed ; but in his agony his 
eyes were alway uplifted to heaven, and his 
lips moved in prayer for them that so shame 
fully entreated him. And as he went his way 
to Calvary, it fortuned that he fell and lay be 
neath the cross right at my very door, where 
upon, turning his eyes upon me as I stood 
over against him, he begged me that for a 
little moment I should bear up the weight 
of the cross whilst that he wiped the sweat 
from off his brow. But I was filled with 
hatred, and I spurned him with my foot, and 
I said to him : * Move on, thou wretched 
criminal, move on. Pollute not my door 
way with thy touch, move on to death, I 
command thee! This was the answer I 
gave to him, but no succor at all. Then he 

8 



AND OTHER TALES 

spake to me once again, and he said : Thou, 
too, shalt move on, O Jew! Thou shalt 
move on forever, but not to death ! And 
with these words he bore up the cross again 
and went upon his way to Calvary. 

" Then of a sudden/ quoth the old man, 
"a horror filled my breast, and a resistless 
terror possessed me. So was I accursed for- 
evermore. A voice kept saying always to 
me: * Move on, O Jew! move on forever! 
From home, from kin, from country, from all 
I knew and loved I fled; nowhere could I 
tarry,- -the nameless horror burned in my 
bosom, and I heard continually a voice cry 
ing unto me: Move on, O Jew! move on 
forever! So, with the years, the centuries, 
the ages, I have fled before that cry and in 
that nameless horror; empires have risen 
and crumbled, races have been born and are 
extinct, mountains have been cast up and 
time hath levelled them, still I do live and 
still I wander hither and thither upon the 
face of the earth, and am an accursed thing. 
The gift of tongues is mine, all men I 
know, yet mankind knows me not. Death 
meets me face to face, and passes me by; 

9 



THE HOLY CROSS 

the sea devours all other prey, but will not 
hide me in its depths; wild beasts flee from 
me, and pestilences turn their consuming 
breaths elsewhere. On and on and on I go, 
not to a home, nor to my people, nor to 
my grave, but evermore into the tortures of 
an eternity of sorrow. And evermore I feel 
the nameless horror burn within, whilst 
evermore I see the pleading eyes of him 
that bore the cross, and evermore I hear his 
voice crying: ( Move on, O Jew! move on 
forevermore! " 

" Thou art the Wandering Jew!" cried the 
Father Miguel. 

" I am he," saith the aged man. " I mar 
vel not that thou dost revolt against me, for 
thou standest in the shadow of that same 
cross which I have spurned, and thou art 
illumined with the love of him that went his 
way to Calvary. But I beseech thee bear 
with me until I have told thee all, then 
drive me hence if thou art so minded." 

" Speak on," quoth the Father Miguel. 

Then said the Jew: " How came I here I 
scarcely know; the seasons are one to me, 
and one day but as another; for the span of 

IO 



AND OTHER TALES 

my life, O priestly man! is eternity. This 
much know you: from a far country I em 
barked upon a ship, I knew not whence 
t was bound, nor cared I. I obeyed the voice 
that bade me go. Anon a mighty tempest 
fell upon the ship and overwhelmed it. The 
cruel sea brought peace to all but me ; a 
many days it tossed and buffeted me, then 
with a cry of exultation cast me at last upon 
a shore I had not seen before, a coast far, far 
westward whereon abides no human thing. 
But in that solitude still heard I from within 
the awful mandate that sent me journeying 
onward, Move on, O Jew! move on; and 
into vast forests I plunged, and mighty plains 
I traversed; onward, onward, onward I 
went, with the nameless horror in my bosom, 
and that cry, that awful cry! The rains 
beat upon me; the sun wrought pitilessly 
with me; the thickets tore my flesh; and 
the inhospitable shores bruised my weary 
feet, yet onward I went, plucking what 
food I might from thorny bushes to stay my 
hunger, and allaying my feverish thirst at 
pools where reptiles crawled. Sometimes a 
monster beast stood in my pathway and 

1 1 



THE HOLY CROSS 

threatened to devour me; then would I 
spread my two arms thus, and welcome 
death, crying : Rend thou this Jew in twain, 
O beast! strike thy kindly fangs deep into 
this heart, be notafeard, for I shall make no 
battle with thee, nor any outcry whatsoever ! 
But, lo, the beast would cower before me and 
skulk away. So there is no death for me; 
the judgment spoken is irrevocable; my sin 
is unpardonable, and the voice will not be 
hushed!" 

Thus and so much spake the Jew, bowing 
his hoary head upon his hands. Then was 
the Father Miguel vastly troubled ; yet he re 
coiled not from the Jew,- -nay, he took the 
old man by the hand and sought to soothe 
him. 

"Thy sin was most heinous, O Jew!" 
quoth the Father; "but it falleth in our 
blessed faith to know that whoso repenteth 
of his sin, what it soever may be, the same 
shall surely be forgiven. Thy punishment 
hath already been severe, and God is merci 
ful, for even as we are all his children, even so 
his tenderness to us is like unto the tender 
ness of a father unto his child yea, and infi- 

12 



AND OTHER TALES 

nitely tenderer and sweeter, for who can 
estimate the love of our heavenly Father ? 
Thou didst deny thy succor to the Nazarene 
when he besought it, yet so great compas 
sion hath he that if thou but callest upon him 
he will forget thy wrong, leastwise will 
pardon it. Therefore be thou persuaded by 
me, and tarry here this night, that in the 
presence of yonder symbol and the holy 
relics our prayers may go up with thine unto 
our blessed Mother and to the saints who 
haply shall intercede for thee in Paradise. 
Rest here, O sufferer, rest thou here, and 
we shall presently give thee great comfort." 
The Jew, well-nigh fainting with fatigue, 
being persuaded by the holy Father s gentle 
words, gave finally his consent unto this 
thing, and went anon unto the cave beyond 
the shrine, and entered thereinto, and lay 
upon abed of skins and furs, and made as if 
to sleep. And when he slept his sleep was 
seemingly disturbed by visions, and he tossed 
as doth an one that sees full evil things, and 
in that sleep he muttered somewhat of a 
voice he seemed to hear, though round about 
there was no sound whatsoever, save only 

13 



THE HOLY CROSS 

the soft music of the pine-trees on the moun 
tain-side. Meanwhile in the shrine, hewn 
out of those rocks, did the Father Miguel 
bow before the sacred symbol of his faith 
and plead for mercy for that same Jew that 
slumbered anear. And when, as the deepen 
ing blue mantle of night fell upon the hill 
tops and obscured the valleys round about, 
Don Esclevador and his sturdy men came 
clamoring along the mountain-side, the holy 
Father met them a way off and bade them 
have regard to the aged man that slept in 
yonder cave. But when he told them of that 
Jew and of his misery and of the secret 
causes thereof, out spake the noble Don 
Esclevador, full hotly, 

"By our sweet Christ, "he cried, "shall 
we not offend our blessed faith and do most 
impiously in the Virgin s sight if we give 
this harbor and this succor unto so vile a 
sinner as this Jew that hath denied our dear 
Lord!" 

Which words had like to wrought great 
evil with the Jew, for instantly the other men 
sprang forward as if to awaken the Jew and 
drive him forth into the night. But the 



AND OTHER TALES 

Father Miguel stretched forth his hands and 
commanded them to do no evil unto the 
Jew, and so persuasively did he set forth 
the godliness and the sweetness of compas 
sion that presently the whole company was 
moved with a gentle pity toward that Jew. 
Therefore it befell anon, when night came 
down from the skies and after they had 
feasted upon their homely food as was their 
wont, that they talked of the Jew, and 
thinking of their own hardships and mis 
fortunes (whereof it is not now to speak), 
they had all the more compassion to that 
Jew, which spake them passing fair, I 
ween. 

Now all this while lay the Jew upon the 
bed of skins and furs within the cave, and 
though he slept (for he was exceeding weary), 
he tossed continually from side to side, and 
spoke things in his sleep, as if his heart were 
sorely troubled, and as if in his dreams he 
beheld grievous things. And seeing the old 
man, and hearing his broken speech, the 
others moved softly hither and thither and 
made no noise soever lest they should 
awaken him. And many an one yes, all 

5 



THE HOLY CROSS 

that valiant company bowed down that 
night before the symbol in the shrine, and 
with sweet reverence called upon our blessed 
Virgin to plead in the cause of that wretched 
Jew. Then sleep came to all, and in dreams 
the noble Don Esclevador saw his sovereign 
liege, and kneeled before his throne, and 
heard his sovereign liege s gracious voice; 
in dreams the heartweary soldier sailed the 
blue waters of the Spanish main, and pressed 
his native shore, and beheld once again the 
lovelight in the dark eyes of her that awaited 
him ; in dreams the mountain-pines were 
kissed of the singing winds, and murmured 
drowsily and tossed their arms as do little 
children that dream of their play; in dreams 
the Jew swayed hither and thither, scourged 
by that nameless horror in his bosom, and 
seeing the pleading eyes of our dying Master, 
and hearing that awful mandate: " Move on, 
O Jew! move on forever!" So each slept 
and dreamed his dreams, all slept but the 
Father Miguel, who alone throughout the 
night kneeled in the shrine and called unto 
the saints and unto our Mother Mary in 
prayer. And his supplication was for that 

16 



AND OTHER TALES 

Jew; and the mists fell upon that place and 
compassed it about, and it was as if the 
heavens had reached down their lips to kiss 
the holy shrine. And suddenly there came 
unto the Jew a quiet as of death, so that he 
tossed no more in his sleep and spake no 
word, but lay exceeding still, smiling in his 
sleep as one who sees his home in dreams, 
or his mother, or some other such beloved 
thing. 

It came to pass that early in the morning 
the Jew came from the cavern to go upon 
his way, and the Father Miguel besought 
him to take with him a goodly loaf in his 
wallet as wise provision against hunger. 
But the Jew denied this, and then he said: 
" Last night while I slept methought I stood 
once more in the city of the Great King, 
ay, in that very doorway where I stood, 
swart and lusty, when I spurned him that 
went his way to Calvary. In my bosom 
burned the terror as of old, and my soul 
was consumed of a mighty anguish. None 
of those that passed in that street knew me; 
centuries had ground to dust all my kin. 
O God ! I cried in agony, suffer my sin 

7 



THE HOLY CROSS 

to be forgotten, suffer me to sleep, to 
sleep forever beneath the burden of the cross 
I sometime spurned ! As I spake these 
words there stood before me one in shining 
raiment, and lo! t was he who bore the 
cross to Calvary! His eyes that had pleaded 
to me on a time now fell compassionately 
upon me, and the voice that had com 
manded me move on forever, now broke 
full sweetly on my ears: Thou shalt go on 
no more, O Jew, but as thou hast asked, so 
shall it be, and thou shalt sleep forever be 
neath the cross/ Then fell I into a deep 
slumber, and, therefrom but just now awak 
ing, I feel within me what peace bespeaketh 
pardon for my sin. This day am I ransomed ; 
so suffer me to go my way, O holy man. 

So went the Jew upon his way, not groan- 
ingly and in toilsome wise, as was his wont, 
but eagerly, as goeth one to meet his bride, 
or unto some sweet reward. And the Father 
Miguel stood long, looking after him and 
being sorely troubled in mind; for he knew 
not what interpretation he should make of 
all these things. And anon the Jew was 
lost to sight in the forest. 

18 



AND OTHER TALES 

But once, a little space thereafter, while 
that Jose Conejos, the Castilian, clambered 
up the yonder mountain-side, he saw amid 
the grasses there the dead and withered 
body of an aged man, and thereupon forth 
with made he such clamor that Don Escleva- 
dor hastened thither and saw it was the Jew ; 
and since there was no sign that wild beasts 
had wrought evil with him, it was declared 
that the Jew had died of age and fatigue 
and sorrow, albeit on the wrinkled face 
there was a smile of peace that none had seen 
thereon while yet the Jew lived. And it 
was accounted to be a most wondrous thing 
that, whereas never before had flowers of 
that kind been seen in those mountains, 
there now bloomed all round about flowers 
of the dye of blood, which thing the noble 
Don Esclevador took full wisely to be a 
symbol of our dear Lord s most precious 
blood, whereby not only you and I but 
even the Jew shall be redeemed to Paradise. 

Within the spot where they had found the 
Jew they buried him, and there he sleeps 
unto this very day. Above the grave the 
Father Miguel said a prayer; and the ground 

19 



THE HOLY CROSS 

of that mountain they adjudged to be holy 
ground; but over the grave wherein lay 
the Jew they set up neither cross nor sym 
bol of any kind, fearing to offend their holy 
faith. 

But that very night, when that they were 
returned unto their camp half a league dis 
tant, there arose a mighty tempest, and there 
was such an upheaval and rending of the 
earth as only God s hand could make; and 
there was a crashing and a groaning as if 
the world were smitten in twain, and the 
winds fled through the valleys in dismay, 
and the trees of the forest shrieked in terror 
and fell upon their faces. Then in the morn 
ing when the tempest ceased and all the sky 
was calm and radiant they saw that an im 
passable chasm lay between them and that 
mountain-side wherein the Jew slept the sleep 
of death ; that God had traced with his finger 
a mighty gulf about that holy ground which 
held the bones of the transgressor. Between 
heaven and earth hung that lonely grave, nor 
could any foot scale the precipice that guarded 
it ; but one might see that the spot was beau 
tiful with kindly mountain verdure and that 

20 



AND OTHER TALES 

flowers of blood-red dye bloomed in that 
lonely place. 

This was the happening in a summer-time 
a many years ago ; to the mellow grace of 
that summer succeeded the purple glory of 
the autumn, and then came on apace the 
hoary dignity of winter. But the earth hath 
its resurrection too, and anon came the beau 
teous spring-time with warmth and scents 
and new life. The brooks leapt forth once 
more from their hiding-places, the verdure 
awaked, and the trees put forth their foliage. 
Then from the awful mountain peaks the 
snow silently and slowly slipped to the val 
leys, and in divers natural channels went 
onward and ever downward to the southern 
sea, and now at last t was summer-time 
again and the mellow grace of August 
brooded over the earth. But in that yonder 
mountain-side had fallen a symbol never to 
be removed, ay, upon that holy ground 
where slept the Jew was stretched a cross, a 
mighty cross of snow on which the sun never 
fell and which no breath of wind ever dis 
turbed. Elsewhere was the tender warmth 
of verdure and the sacred passion of the 

21 



THE HOLY CROSS 

blood-red flowers, but over that lonely grave 
was stretched the symbol of him that went 
his way to Calvary, and in that grave slept 
the Jew. 

Mightily marvelled Don Esclevador and 
his warrior host at this thing; but the 
Father Miguel knew its meaning; for he 
was minded of that vision wherein it was 
foretold unto the Jew that, pardoned for his 
sin, he should sleep forever under the burden 
of the cross he spurned. All this the Father 
Miguel showed unto Don Esclevador and 
the others, and he said: "I deem that unto 
all ages this holy symbol shall bear witness 
of our dear Christ s mercy and compassion. 
Though we, O exiled brothers, sleep in this 
foreign land in graves which none shall 
know, upon that mountain height beyond 
shall stretch the eternal witness to our faith 
and to our Redeemer s love, minding all that 
look thereon, not of the pains and the punish 
ments of the Jew, but of the exceeding mercy 
of our blessed Lord, and of the certain eter 
nal peace that cometh through his love! 

How long ago these things whereof I 
speak befell, I shall not say. They never 

22 



AND OTHER TALES 

saw that Spanish host- -they never saw 
their native land, their sovereign liege, their 
loved ones faces again ; they sleep, and they 
are dust among those mighty mountains in 
the West. Where is the grave of the Father 
Miguel, or of Don Esclevador, or of any of 
the valiant Spanish exiles, it is not to tell; 
God only knoweth, and the saints: all sleep 
in the faith, and their reward is certain. But 
where sleepeth the Jew all may see and 
know; for on that awful mountain-side, in 
a spot inaccessible to man, lieth the holy 
cross of snow. The winds pass lightly over 
that solemn tomb, and never a sunbeam 
lingereth there. White and majestic it lies 
where God s hands have placed it, and its 
mighty arms stretch forth as in a benediction 
upon the fleeting dust beneath. 

So shall it bide forever upon that moun 
tain-side, and the memory of the Jew and 
of all else human shall fade away and be for 
gotten in the surpassing glory of the love and 
the compassion of him that bore the redeem 
ing burden to Calvary. 



anb tfjc 



THE ROSE AND THE THRUSH 



THERE was none other in the quiet valley 
so happy as the rose-tree, none other 
so happy unless perchance it was the thrush 
who made his home in the linden yonder. 
The thrush loved the rose-tree s daughter, 
and he was happy in thinking that some day 
she would be his bride. Now the rose-tree 
had many daughters, and each was beauti 
ful; but the rose whom the thrush loved was 
more beautiful than her sisters, and all the 
wooers came wooing her until at last the 
fair creature s head was turned, and the rose 
grew capricious and disdainful. Among her 
many lovers were the south wind and the 
fairy Dewlove and the little elf-prince Beam- 
bright and the hoptoad, whom all the rest 
called Mr. Roughbrown. The hoptoad lived 
in the stone-wall several yards away; but 

27 



THE HOLY CROSS 

every morning and evening he made a jour 
ney to the rose-tree, and there he would sit 
for hours gazing with tender longings at the 
beautiful rose, and murmuring impassioned 
avowals. The rose s disdain did not chill 
the hoptoad s ardor. "See what I have 
brought you, fair rose," he would say. "A 
beautiful brown beetle with golden wings 
and green eyes ! Surely there is not in all the 
world a more delicious morsel than a brown 
beetle! Or, if you but say the word, I will 
fetch you a tender little fly, or a young gnat, 
see, I am willing to undergo all toils and 
dangers for your own sweet sake." 

Poor Mr. Roughbrown ! His wooing was 
very hopeless. And all the time he courted 
the imperious rose, who should be peeping 
at him from her home in the hedge but as 
plump and as sleek a little Miss Dormouse 
as ever you saw, and her eyes were full of 
envy. 

" If Mr. Roughbrown had any sense," she 
said to herself, " he would waste no time on 
that vain and frivolous rose. He is far too 
good a catch for her. " 

The south wind was forever sighing and 

28 



AND OTHER TALES 

sobbing about. He lives, you know, very 
many miles from here. His home is beyond 
a great sea ; in the midst of a vast desert there 
is an oasis, and it is among the palm-trees 
and the flowers of this oasis that the south 
wind abides. When spring calls from the 
North, "O south wind, where are you? 
Come hither, my sunny friend! " the south 
wind leaps from his couch in the far-off oasis, 
and hastens whitherthespring-timecalls. As 
he speeds across the sea the mermaids seek 
to tangle him in their tresses, and the waves 
try to twine their white arms about him ; but 
he shakes them off and laughingly flies upon 
his way. Wheresoever he goes he is be 
loved. With their soft, solemn music the 
pine-trees seek to detain him ; the flowers 
of earth lift up their voices and cry, " Abide 
with us, dear spirit, " but to all he answers : 
"The spring-time calls me in the North, and 
I must hasten whither she calls." But when 
the south wind came to the rose-tree he 
would go no farther; he loved the rose, and 
he lingered about her with singing and sigh 
ing and protestations. 
It was not until late in the evening that 

29 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Dewlove and the elf-prince appeared. Just 
as the moon rolled up in the horizon and 
poured a broad streak of silver through the 
lake the three crickets went "Chirp-chirp, 
chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp, "and then out danced 
Dewlove and Beambright from their hiding- 
places. The cunning little fairy lived under 
the moss at the foot of the oak-tree; he was 
no bigger than a cambric needle, but he 
had two eyes, and in this respect he had 
quite the advantage of the needle. As for 
the elf-prince, his home was in the tiny, dark 
subterranean passage which the mole used 
to live in ; he was plump as a cupid, and his 
hair was long and curly, although if you 
force me to it I must tell you that the elf- 
prince was really no larger than your little 
finger,- - so you will see that so far as physi 
cal proportions were concerned Dewlove 
and Beambright were pretty well matched. 
Merry, merry fellows they were, and I should 
certainly fail most lamentably did 1 attempt 
to tell you how prettily they danced upon the 
greensward of the meadowlands throughout 
the summer nights. Sometimes the other 
fairies and elves joined them, delicate little 

3 



AND OTHER TALES 

lady fairies with gossamer wings, and chubby 
little lady elves clad in filmy spider webs, 

-and they danced and danced and danced, 
while the three crickets went Chirp-chirp, 
chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp," all night long. 
Now it was very strange- -was it not ? that 
instead of loving one of these delicate little 
lady fairies, or one of these chubby little lady 
elves, both Dewlove and Beambright loved 
the rose. Yet, she was indeed very beau 
tiful. 

The thrush did not pester the rose with his 
protestations of love. He was not a partic 
ularly proud fellow, but he thought too much 
of the rose to vex her with his pleadings. 
But all day long he would perch in the 
thicket and sing his songs as only a thrush 
can sing to the beautiful rose he loves. He 
sung, we will say, of the forests he had 
explored, of the farqous river he had once 
seen, of the dew which the rose loved, of 
the storm-king that slew the old pine and 
made his cones into a crown, he sung of a 
thousand things which we might not under 
stand, but which pleased the rose because 
she understood them. And one day the 

31 



THE HOLY CROSS 

thrush swooped down from the linden upon 
a monstrous devil s darning-needle that came 
spinning along and poised himself to stab 
the beautiful rose. Yes, like lightning the 
thrush swooped down on this murderous 
monster, and he bit him in two, and I am 
glad of it, and so are you if your heart be 
not wholly callous. 

"How comes it, "said the rose-tree to the 
thrush that day, " how comes it that you 
do not woo my daughter ? You have 
shown that you love her; why not speak to 
her?" 

"No, I will wait," answered the thrush. 
" She has many wooers, and each wooes her 
in his own way. Let me show her by my 
devotion that I am worthy of her, and then 
perchance she will listen kindly to me when 
I speak to her." 

The rose-tree thought very strange of this; 
in all her experience of bringing out her fair 
daughters into society she had never before 
had to deal with so curious a lover as the 
thrush. She made up her mind to speak 
for him. 

"My daughter," said she to the rose, "the 

3 2 



AND OTHER TALES 

thrush loves you; of all your wooers he is 
the most constant and the most amiable. I 
pray that you will hear kindly to his suit." 

The rose laughed carelessly, yes, mer 
rily, as if she heeded not the heartache 
which her indifference might cause the hon 
est thrush. 

"Mother," said the rose, "these suitors 
are pestering me beyond all endurance. How 
can I have any patience with the south wind, 
who is forever importuning me with his sen 
timental sighs and melancholy wheezing? 
And as for that old hoptoad, Mr. Rough- 
brown, why, it is a husband I want, not a 
father!" 

"Prince Beambright pleases you, then?" 
asked the rose-tree. 

" He is a merry, capering fellow," said the 
daughter, "and so is his friend Dewlove; 
but I do not fancy either. And as for the 
thrush who sends you to speak for him, 
why, he is quite out of the question, I assure 
you. The truth is, mother, that I am to fill 
a higher station than that of bride to any of 
these simple rustic folk. Am I not more 
beautiful than any of my companions, and 

33 



THE HOLY CROSS 

have I not ambitions above all others of my 
kind?" 

"Whom have you seen that you talk so 
vain-gloriously ? " cried the rose-tree in 
alarm. "What flattery has instilled into 
you this fatal poison?" 

" Have you not seen the poet who comes 
this way every morning?" asked the rose. 
"His face is noble, and he sings grandly to 
the pictures Nature spreads before his eyes. 
I should be his bride. Some day he will see 
me; he will bear me away upon his bosom; 
he will indite to me a poem that shall live 
forever! " 

These words the thrush heard, and his 
heart sank within him. If his songs that day 
were not so blithe as usual it was because of 
the words that the rose had spoken. Yet the 
thrush sang on, and his song was full of his 
honest love. 

It was the next morning that the poet came 
that way. He lived in the city, but each day 
he stole away from the noise and crowd of 
the city to commune with himself and with 
Nature in the quiet valley where bloomed the 
rose-tree, where the thrush sung, and where 

34 



AND OTHER TALES 

dwelt the fays and the elves of whom it has 
been spoken. The sun shone fiercely ; withal 
the quiet valley was cool, and the poet bared 
his brow to the breeze that swept down the 
quiet valley from the lake over yonder. 

"The south wind loves the rose! Aha, 
aha, foolish brother to love the rose! " 

This was what the breeze said, and the 
poet heard it. Then his eyes fell upon the 
rose-tree and upon her blooming daughters. 

"The hoptoad loves the rose! Foolish 
old Roughbrown to love the rose, aha, 
aha!" 

There was a malicious squeakiness in this 
utterance, of course it came from that 
envious Miss Dormouse, who was forever 
peeping out of her habitation in the hedge. 

"What a beautiful rose!" cried the poet, 
and leaping over the old stone-wall he 
plucked the rose from the mother-tree, 
yes, the poet bore away this very rose who 
had hoped to be the poet s bride. 

Then the rose-tree wept bitterly, and so 
did her other daughters; the south wind 
wailed, and the old hoptoad gave three 
croaks so dolorous that if you had heard 

35 



THE HOLY CROSS 

them you would have said that his heart 
was truly broken. All were sad, all but 
the envious dormouse, who chuckled mali 
ciously, and said it was no more than they 
deserved. 

The thrush saw the poet bearing the rose 
away, yet how could the fluttering little 
creature hope to prevail against the cruel 
invader ? What could he do but twitter in 
anguish ? So there are tragedies and heart 
aches in lives that are not human. 

As the poet returned to the city he wore 
the rose upon his breast. The rose was 
happy, for the poet spoke to her now and 
then, and praised her loveliness, and she 
saw that her beauty had given him an in 
spiration. 

"The rose despised my brother! Aha, 
aha, foolish rose, but she shall wither!" 

It was the breeze that spake ; far away from 
the lake in the quiet valley its voice was very 
low, but the rose heard and trembled. 

"It s a lie," cried the rose. " I shall not 
die. The poet loves me, and I shall live for 
ever upon his bosom." 

Yet a singular faintness a faintness never 

36 



AND OTHER TALES 

felt before came upon the rose; she bent 
her head and sighed. The heat- -that was 
all was very oppressive, and here at the 
entrance to the city the tumult aroused an 
aggravating dust. The poet seemed sud 
denly to forget the rose. A carriage was 
approaching, and from the carriage leaned a 
lady, who beckoned to the poet. The lady 
was very fair, and the poet hastened to an 
swer her call. And as he hastened the rose 
fell from his bosom into the hot highway, 
and the poet paid no heed. Ascending into 
the carriage with the lady (1 am sure she 
must have been a princess!) the poet was 
whirled away, and there in the stifling dust 
lay the fainting rose, all stained and dying. 

The sparrows flew down and pecked at 
her inquisitively; the cruel wagons crushed 
her beneath their iron wheels; careless feet 
buffeted her hither and thither. She was no 
longer a beautiful rose; no, nor even a rem 
iniscence of one,- -simply a colorless, scent 
less, ill-shapen mass. 

But all at once she heard a familiar voice, 
and then she saw familiar eyes. The voice 
was tender and the eyes were kindly. 

37 



THE HOLY CROSS 

" O honest thrush," cried the rose, " is it 
you who have come to reproach me for my 
folly ? " 

"No,no, dear rose, "said the thrush, "how 
should I speak ill to you ? Come, rest your 
poor head upon my breast, and let me bear 
you home." 

" Let me rather die here," sighed the rose, 
" for it was here that my folly brought me. 
How could I go back with you whom I 
never so much as smiled upon ? And do 
they not hate and deride me in the valley ? 
I would rather die here in misery than there 
in shame! 

"Poor, broken flower, they love you," 
urged the thrush. "They grieve for you; 
let me bear you back where the mother-tree 
will shade you, and where the south wind 
will nurse you for for he loves you." 

So the thrush bore back the withering rose 
to her home in the quiet valley. 

"So she has come back, has she? "sneered 
the dormouse. "Well, she has impudence, 
if nothing else! " 

"She was pretty once," said the old hop 
toad; "but she lost her opportunity when I 

38 



AND OTHER TALES 

made up my mind to go wooing a certain 
glossy damsel in the hedge." 

The rose-tree reached out her motherly 
arms to welcome her dying daughter, and 
she said: "Rest here, dear one, and let me 
rock you to repose. 

It was evening in the quiet valley now. 
Where was the south wind that he came not 
with his wooing ? He had flown to the 
North, for that day he had heard the spring 
time s voice a-calling, and he went in answer 
to its summons. Everything was still. 
" Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp," 
piped the three crickets, and forthwith the 
fairy boy and the elf-prince danced from their 
habitations. Their little feet tinkled over the 
clover and the daisies. 

"Hush, little folk," cried the rose-tree. 
"Do not dance to-night, the rose is dy 
ing." 

But they danced on. The rose did not 
hear them ; she heard only the voice of the 
thrush, who perched in the linden yonder, 
and, with a breaking heart, sung to the 
dying flower. 



39 




t 



THE PAGAN SEAL-WIFE 1 



IT is to tell of Harold, the son of Egbert, 
the son of Ib ; comely was he to look upon, 
and a braver than he lived not in these isl 
ands, nor one more beloved of all people. 
But it chanced upon a time, while he was 
still in early manhood, that a grievous sorrow 
befell him; for on a day his mother Eleanor 
came to her end in this full evil wise. It was 
her intent to go unto the neighboring island, 
where grazed the goats and the kine, and it 
fortuned that, as she made her way thither 
in the boat, she heard sweet music, as if one 
played upon a harp in the waters, and, look 
ing over the side of the boat, she beheld 
down in the waters a sea-maiden making 
those exceeding pleasant sounds. And the 
sea-maiden ceased to play, and smiled up at 

1 Orkney Folk-Lore. 
43 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Eleanor, and stretched up her hands and be 
sought Eleanor to pluck her from the sea into 
the boat, which seeking to do, Eleanor fell 
headlong into the waters, and was never 
thereafter seen either alive or dead by any 
of her kin. Now under this passing heavy 
grief Egbert, the son of Ib, being old and 
spent by toil, brake down, and on a night 
died, making with his latest breath most 
heavy lamentation for Eleanor, his wife; so 
died he, and his soul sped, as they tell, to 
that far northern land where the souls of the 
departed make merry all the night, which 
merriment sendeth forth so vast and so beau 
tiful a light that all the heavens are illumined 
thereby. But Harold, the son of Egbert and 
of Eleanor, was left alone, having neither 
brother, nor sister, nor any of kin, save an 
uncle abiding many leagues distant in Jut 
land. Thereupon befell a wonderful thing; 
if it had not happened it would not be told. 
It chanced that, on a certain evening in 
the summer-time, Harold walked alone 
where a Druid circle lay coiled like a dark 
serpent on a hillside; his heart was filled 
with dolor, for he thought continually of 

44 



AND OTHER TALES 

Eleanor, his mother, and he wept softly to 
himself through love of that dear mother. 
While thus he walked in vast heaviness of 
soul, he was beheld of Membril, the fairy 
that with her goodly subjects dwelt in the 
ruin of the Pict s house hard by the Druid 
circle. And Membril had compassion upon 
Harold, and upon the exceeding fine down 
of a tiny sea-bird she rode out to meet him, 
and it was before his eyes as if a star shined 
out of a mist in his pathway. So it was that 
Membril the fairy made herself known to 
him, and having so done, she said and she 
sung: 

I am Membril, queen of Fay, 

That would charm thy grief away! 

Thou art like the little bark 

Drifting in the cold and dark, 

Drifting through the tempest s roar 

To a rocky, icy shore ; 

All the torment dost thou feel 

Of the spent and fearful seal 

Wounded by the hunter s steel. 

I am Membril, hark to me: 

Better times await on thee ! 

Wouldst thou clasp thy mother dear, 

Strange things see and stranger hear ? 

45 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Straight betake thee to thy boat 
And to yonder haven float, 
Go thy way, and silent be, 
It is Membril counsels thee; 
Go thy way, and thou shalt see ! 

Great marvel had Harold to this thing; 
nevertheless he did the bidding of Membril 
the fairy, and it was full wisely done. And 
presently he came to where his boat lay, 
half on the shore and half in the waters, and 
he unloosed the thong that held it, and en 
tered into the boat; but he put neither hand 
to the oars thereof, for he was intent to do 
the bidding of Membril the fairy. Then 
as if of its own accord, or as if the kindly 
waves themselves bore it along, the boat 
moved upon the waters and turned toward 
the yonder haven whereof it was said and 
sung. Fair shone the moon, and the night 
was passing fair; the shadows fell from the 
hilltops in their sleep and lay, as they had 
been little weary children, in the valleys and 
upon the shore, and they were rocked in the 
cradles of those valleys, and the waters along 
the shore sung softly to them. Upon the one 
side lay the island where grazed the goats 

46 



AND OTHER TALES 

and the kine, and upon the other side lay the 
island where Harold and other people abode; 
between these islands crept the sea with its 
gentle murmurings, and upon this sea drifted 
the boat bearing Harold to the yonder haven. 
Now the haven whereunto the course lay 
brooded almost beneath the shadow of the 
Stennis stones, and the waters thereof were 
dark, as if, forsooth, the sea frowned when 
soever it saw those bloody stones peering 
down into its tranquil bosom. And some 
said that the place was haunted, and that 
upon each seventh night came thereunto the 
spirits of them that had been slain upon those 
stones, and waved their ghostly arms and 
wailed grievously; but of latter times none 
believeth this thing to be true. 

It befell that, coming into the haven and 
bearing toward the shore thereof, Harold 
was ware of sweet music, and presently he 
saw figures as of men and women dancing 
upon the holm ; but neither could he see who 
these people were, nor could he tell where- 
from the music came. But such fair music 
never had he heard before, and with great 
marvel he came from the boat into the clus- 

47 



THE HOLY CROSS 

ter of beech-trees that stood between the 
haven and that holm where the people 
danced. Then of a sudden Harold saw 
twelve skins lying upon the shore in the 
moonlight; and they were the comeliest and 
most precious sealskins that ever he saw, 
and he coveted them. So presently he took 
up one of the sealskins and bore it with him 
into his boat, and pushed the boat from the 
shore into the waters of the haven again, 
and, so doing, there was such plashing of 
the waters that those people dancing upon 
the fair green holm became ware of Harold s 
presence, and were afeared, so that, ceasing 
from their sport, they made haste down to 
the shore and did on the skins and dived 
into the waters with shrill cries. But there 
was one of them that could not do so, be 
cause Harold bore off that skin wherewith 
she was wont to begird herself, and when 
she found it not she wailed and wept and 
besought Harold to give her that skin again, 
and, lo! it was Eleanor, the wife of Egbert! 
Now when Harold saw that it was his mo 
ther that so entreated him he was filled with 
wonder, and he drew nearer the shore to re- 

4 s 



AND OTHER TALES 

gard her and to hear her words, for he loved 
her passing well. But he denied her that 
skin, knowing full well that so soon as she 
possessed it she would leave him and he 
should never again behold her. Then El 
eanor related to him how that she had been 
drowned in the sea through treachery of the 
harp-maiden, and how that the souls of 
drowned people entered into the bodies of 
seals, nor were permitted to return to earth, 
save only one night in every month, at which 
time each recovered his human shape and 
was suffered to dance in the moonlight upon 
the fair green holm from the hour of sunset 
unto the hour of sunrise. 

"Give me the skin, 1 pray thee," she cried, 
"for if the sun came upon me unawares I 
should crumble into dust before thine eyes, 
and that moment would a curse fall upon 
you. I am happy as I am ; the sea and those 
who dwell therein are good to me, give 
me the skin, I beseech thee, that I may return 
whence I came, and thereby shall a great 
blessing accrue to thee and thine. 

But Harold said: "Nay, mother, I were a 
fool to part so cheerfully with one whom I 

49 



THE HOLY CROSS 

love dearer than life itself ! I shall not let 
you go so easily; you shall come with me 
to our home, where I have lived alone too 
long already. I shall be alone no longer, 
come with me, I say, for I will not deliver 
up this skin, nor shall any force wrest it from 
me!" 

Then Eleanor, his mother, reasoned a space 
with him, and anon she showed him the folly 
of his way; but still he hung his head upon 
his breast and was loath to do her bidding, 
until at last she sware unto him that if he 
gave to her that skin he should, upon the 
next dancing night, have to wife the most 
beautiful maiden in the world, and therefore 
should be alone in the world no more. To 
this presently Harold gave assent, and then 
Eleanor, his mother, bade him come to that 
same spot one month hence, and do what 
she should then bid him do. Receiving, 
therefore, the skin from him, she folded it 
about her and threw herself into the sea, and 
Harold betook himself unto his home. 

Now wit ye well that full wearily dragged 
the days and the nights until that month was 
spent; but now at last it was the month of 

50 



AND OTHER TALES 

August, and upon the night of the seventh 
day thereof ended the season of waiting. It 
is to tell that upon that night came Harold, 
the son of Egbert, from his hut, and stood 
on the threshold thereof, and awaited the 
rising of the moon from out the silver waters 
yonder. While thus he stood there appeared 
unto him Membril the fairy, and smiling upon 
him she said and she sung: 

I am Membril, queen of Fay, 
Come to urge thee on thy way ; 
Haste to yonder haven-side 
Where awaits thy promised bride; 
Daughter of a king is she, 
Many leagues she comes to thee, 
Thine and only thine to be. 
Haste and see, then come again 
To thy pretty home, and, when 
Smiles the sun on earth once more, 
Will come knocking at thy door ; 
Open then, and to thy breast 
Clasp whom thou shalt love the best ! 
It is Membril counsels thee, 
Haste and see what thou shalt see ! 

Now by this thing was Harold mightily 
rejoiced, and he believed it to be truth that 
great good was in store for him ; for he had 

51 



THE HOLY CROSS 

seen pleasant things in the candle a many 
nights, and the smoke from his fire blew 
cheerily and lightly to the westward, and a 
swan had circled over his house that day 
week, and in his net each day for twice 
seven days had he drawn from the sea a fish 
having one golden eye and one silver eye: 
which things, as all men know, portend full 
goodly things, or else they portend nothing 
at all whatsoever. So, being pleasantly 
minded, Harold returned in kind unto Mem- 
bril, the fairy queen, that bespoke him so 
courteously, and to her and to them that bore 
her company he said and he sung: 

Welcome, bonnie queen of Fay! 

For thou speakest pleasing words ; 
Thou shall have a gill of whey 

And a thimblefull of curds ; 
In this rose is honey-dew 
That a bee hath brought for you ! 

Welcome, bonnie queen of Fay ! 

Call thy sisters from the gloam, 
And, whilst I am on my way, 

Feast and frolic in my home, 
Kiss the moonbeams, blanching white, 
Shrinking, shivering with affright ! 

52 



AND OTHER TALES 

Welcome, all, and have no fear, 

There is flax upon the sill, 
No foul sprite can enter here, 

Feast and frolic as you will; 
Feast and frisk till break of day, 
Welcome, little folk of Fay ! 

Thus having said and thus having sung, 
Harold went upon his way, and came to his 
boat and entered into it and journeyed to the 
haven where some time he had seen and 
discoursed with Eleanor, his mother. His 
course to this same haven lay, as before, 
over the waters that stole in between the 
two islands from the great sea beyond. Fair 
shone the moon, and the night was passing 
fair; the shadows rolled from the hilltops in 
their sleep and lay like little weary children 
in the valleys and upon the shore, and they 
were rocked in the cradles of those valleys, 
and the waters along the shore sung softly 
to them. Upon this hand lay the island 
where the goats and the kine found sweet 
pasturage, and upon the other hand stretched 
the island where people abode, and where 
the bloody Stennis stones rebuked the smil 
ing sky, and where ghosts walked and wailed 

53 



THE HOLY CROSS 

and waved their white arms in the shadows 
of those haunted ruins where once upon a 
time the Picts had dwelt. And Harold s 
heart was full of joy, the more in especial 
when, as he bore nigh unto the haven, he 
heard sweet music and beheld a goodly 
company of people that danced in the moon 
light upon the fair green holm. Then, when 
presently his boat touched the inner shore of 
the haven, and he departed therefrom and 
drew the boat upon the shore, he saw 
wherefrom issued the beautiful music to 
which the people danced; he saw that the 
waters reached out their white fingers and 
touched the kale and the fair pebbles and 
the brittle shells and the moss upon the 
beach, and these things gave forth sweet 
sounds, which were as if a thousand attuned 
harps vied with the singing of the summer- 
night winds. Then, as before, Harold saw 
sealskins lying upon the shore, and presently 
came Eleanor, his mother, and pointing to a 
certain fair velvet skin, she said: "Take 
that fair velvet skin into thy boat and speed 
with all haste to thy home. To-morrow at 
sunrise thy bride shall come knocking at thy 

54 



AND OTHER TALES 

door. And so, farewell, my son, oh, 
Harold, my only son! Which saying, 
Eleanor, the wife of Egbert, drew a skin 
about her and leapt into the sea; nor was 
she ever thereafter beholden of human eyes. 

Then Harold took up the fair velvet skin 
to which his mother had directed him, and he 
bore it away with him in his boat. So softly 
went he upon the waters that none of them 
that danced upon the fair green holm either 
saw or heard him. Still danced they on to the 
sweet music made by the white fingers of the 
waves, and still shone the white moon upon 
the fair green holm where they so danced. 

Now when came Harold to his home, 
bearing the precious skin with him, he saw 
the fairies at play upon the floor of his hut, 
and they feared no evil, for there was barley 
strewn upon the sill so that no wicked sprite 
could enter there. And when Membril, the 
fairy queen, saw him bringing the skin that 
he had found upon the shore, she bade him 
good welcome, and she said and she sung : 

I am Membril, queen of Fay, 
Ponder well what words I say; 

55 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Hide that fair and velvet skin 

Some secluded spot within; 

In the tree where ravens croak, 

In the hollow of the oak, 

In the cave with mosses lined, 

In the earth where none may find; 

Hide it quick and hide it deep, 

So secure shall be thy sleep, 

Thine shall bride and blessings be, 

Thine a fair posterity, 

So doth Membril counsel thee! 

So, pondering upon this counsel and think 
ing well of it, Harold took the fair velvet 
skin and hid it, and none knew where it was 
hid, none save only the raven that lived in 
the hollow oak. And when he had so done 
he returned unto his home and lay upon his 
bed and slept. It came to pass that early 
upon the morrow, when the sun made all the 
eastward sky blush for the exceeding ardor 
of his morning kiss, there came a knocking 
at the door of Harold s hut, and Harold 
opened the door, and lo! there stood upon 
the threshold the fairest maiden that eyes 
ever beheld. Unlike was she to maidens 
dwelling in those islands, for her hair was 
black as the waters of the long winter night, 

56 



AND OTHER TALES 

and her eyes were as the twin midnight 
rocks that look up from the white waves of 
the moonlit sea in yonder reef; withal was 
she most beautiful to look upon, and her 
voice was as music that stealeth to one over 
pleasant waters. 

The maiden s name was Persis, and she 
was the daughter of a Pagan king that ruled 
in a country many, many oh, many leagues 
to the southward of these islands, in a coun 
try where unicorns and dragons be, and 
where dwelleth the phoenix and hippogriffins 
and the cockatrix, and where bloometh a 
tree that runneth blood, and where mighty 
princes do wondrous things. Now it for 
tuned that the king was minded to wed his 
daughter Persis unto a neighboring prince, 
a high and mighty prince, but one whom 
Persis loved not, neither could she love. So 
for the first time Persis said, "Nay, I will 
not," unto her father s mandate, whereat the 
king was passing wroth, and he put his 
daughter in a place that was like a jail to 
her, for it was where none might see her, 
and where she might see none, none but 
those that attended upon her. This much 

57 



THE HOLY CROSS 

told Persis, the Pagan princess, unto Harold, 
and then, furthermore, she said: "The place 
wherein I was put by the king, my father, 
was hard by the sea, and oftentimes I went 
thereon in my little boat, and once, looking 
down from that boat into the sea, I saw the 
face of a fair young man within a magic 
mirror that was held up in the waters of the 
sea by two ghostly hands, and the fair young 
man moved his lips and smiled at me, and 
methought I heard him say: Come, be my 
bride, O fair and gentle Persis ! But, vastly 
afeared, I cried out and put back again to 
shore. Yet in my dreams I saw that face 
and heard that voice, nor could 1 find any 
rest until I came upon the sea again in hope 
to see the face and hear the voice once more. 
Then, that second time, as I looked into the 
sea, another face came up from below and 
lifted above the waters, and a woman s voice 
spake thus to me: I am mother of him that 
loveth thee and whom thou lovest; his face 
hast thou seen in the mirror, and of thee I 
have spoken to him ; come, let me bear thee 
as a bride to him! And in that moment a 
faintness came upon me and I fell into her 

58 



AND OTHER TALES 

arms, and so was I drowned (as men say), 
and so was I a seal a little space until last 
dancing night, when, lo! some one brought 
me to life again, and one that said her name 
was Membril showed me the way unto thy 
door. And now I look upon thy face in 
truth, and thou art he who shall have me to 
his wife, for thou art he whose face I saw 
within the mirror which the ghostly hands 
bore up to me that day upon the sea! " 

Great then was Harold s joy, and he folded 
her in his arms, and he spake sweet words 
to her, and she was content. So they were 
wed that very day, and there came to do 
them honor all the folk upon these islands: 
Dougal and Tarn and Ib and Robbie and 
Nels and Gram and Rupert and Rolf and 
many others and all their kin, and they 
made merry, and it was well. And never 
spake the Pagan princess of that soft velvet 
skin which Harold had hid away, never 
spake she of it to him or to any other one. 

It is to tell that to Harold and to Persis 
were born these children, and in this order: 
Egbert and Ib (that was nicknamed the 
Strong) and Harold and Joan and Tarn and 

59 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Annie and Rupert the Fair and Flocken and 
Elsa and Albert and Theodoric, these 
eleven children were born unto them in good 
time; and right fair children were they to see, 
comely and stout, yet sweetly minded withal. 
And prosperous times continually befell Har 
old; his herds multiplied, and the fish came 
into his nets, so that presently there was none 
other richer than he in all that country, and 
he did great good with his riches, for he had 
compassion to the poor. So Harold was be 
loved of all, and all spake full fairly of his 
wife, how that she cared for his little ones, 
and kept the house, and did deeds of sweet 
charity among the needy and distressed, 
ay, so was Persis, the wife of Harold, beloved 
of all, and by none other more than by Har 
old, who was wont to say that Persis had 
brought him all he loved best: his children, 
his fortune, his happiness, and, best of all, 
herself. So now they were wed twice seven 
years, and in that time was Persis still as 
young and fair to look upon as when she 
came to Harold s door for the first time and 
knocked. This I account to be a marvel, 
but still more a marvel was it that in all these 

60 



AND OTHER TALES 

years spake she never a word of that soft 
velvet skin which Harold took and hid, 
never a word to him nor to any one else. 
But the soft velvet skin lay meanwhile in the 
hollow of the oak, and in the branches of 
that tree perched a raven that croaked and 
croaked and croaked. 

Now it befell upon a time that a ship 
touched at that island, and there came there 
from men that knelt down upon the shore 
and made strange prayers to a strange God, 
and forthwith uplifted in that island a sym 
bol of wood in the similitude of a cross. 
Straightway went Harold with the rest to 
know the cause thereof, being fearful lest 
for this impiety their own gods, whom they 
served diligently, should send hail and fire 
upon them and their herds. But those that 
had come in the ship spake gently with 
them and showed themselves to be peaceful 
folk whose God delighted not in wars, but 
rather in gentleness and love. How it was, 
I, knowing not, cannot say, but presently 
the cause of that new God, whose law was 
gentleness and love, waxed mightily, and 
the people came from all around to kiss that 

61 



THE HOLY CROSS 

cross and worship it. And among them 
came Harold, for in his heart had dawned 
the light of a new wisdom, and he knew the 
truth as we know it, you and I. So Harold 
was baptized in the Christian faith, he and 
his children; but Persis, his wife, was not 
baptized, for she was the daughter of a 
Pagan king, and she feared to bring evil 
upon those she loved by doing any blas 
phemous thing. Right sorely grieved was 
Harold because of this, and oftentimes he 
spake with her thereof, and oftentimes he 
prayed unto his God and ours to incline her 
mind toward the cross, which saveth all alike. 
But Persis would say: "My best beloved, 
let me not do this thing in haste, for I fear 
to vex thy God since I am a Pagan and the 
daughter of a Pagan king, and therefore 
have not within me the light that there is in 
thee and thy kind. Perchance (since thy 
God is good and gracious) the light will 
come to me anon, and shine before mine 
eyes as it shineth before thine. I pray thee, 
let me bide my time. So spake Persis, and 
her life ever thereafter was kind and char 
itable, as, soothly, it had ever before been, 

62 



AND OTHER TALES 

and she served Harold, her husband, well, 
and she was beloved of all, and a great 
sweetness came to all out of her daily life. 

It fortuned, upon a day whilst Harold was 
from home, there was knocking at the door 
of their house, and forthwith the door opened 
and there stood in the midst of them one 
clad all in black and of rueful countenance. 
Then, as if she foresaw evil, Persis called 
unto her little ones and stood between them 
and that one all in black, and she demanded 
of him his name and will. " I am the Death- 
Angel," quoth he, " and I come for the best- 
beloved of thy lambs! " 

NowTheodoric was that best-beloved; for 
he was her very little one, and had always 
slept upon her bosom. So when she heard 
those words she made a great outcry, and 
wrestled with the Death-Angel, and sought 
to stay him in his purpose. But the Death- 
Angel chilled her with his breath, and over 
came her, and prevailed against her; and he 
reached into the midst of them and took 
Theodoric in his arms and folded him upon 
his breast, and Theodoric fell asleep there, 
and his head dropped upon the Death-Angel s 



THE HOLY CROSS 

shoulder. But in her battle for the child, Per- 
sis catched at the chain about the child s neck, 
and the chain brake and remained in her hand, 
and upon the chain was the little cross of fair 
alabaster which an holy man had put there 
when Theodoric was baptized. So the Death- 
Angel went his way with that best-beloved 
lamb, and Persisfell upon her face and wailed. 
The years went on and all was well upon 
these islands. Egbert became a mighty 
fisherman, and Ib (that was nicknamed the 
Strong) wrought wondrous things in Norro- 
way, as all men know; Joan was wed to 
Cuthbert the Dane, and Flocken was wooed 
of a rich man s son of Scotland. So were 
all things for good and for the best, and it 
was a marvel to all that Persis, the wife of 
Harold, looked still to be as young and beau 
tiful as when she came from the sea to be 
her husband s bride. Her life was full of 
gentleness and charity, and all folk blessed 
her. But never in all these years spake she 
aught to any one of the fair velvet skin ; and 
through all the years that skin lay hid in the 
hollow of the oak-tree, where the raven 
croaked and croaked and croaked. 

64 



AND OTHER TALES 

At last upon a time a malady fell upon 
Persis, and a strange light came into her 
eyes, and naught they did was of avail to 
her. One day she called Harold to her, and 
said: "My beloved, the time draweth near 
when we twain must part. I pray thee, send 
for the holy man, for I would fain be bap 
tized in thy faith and in the faith of our 
children." So Harold fetched the holy man, 
and Persis, the daughter of the Pagan king, 
was baptized, and she spake freely and full 
sweetly of her love to Jesus Christ, her 
Saviour, and she prayed to be taken into his 
rest. And when she was baptized, there 
was given to her the name of Ruth, which 
was most fairly done, I trow, for soothly 
she had been the friend of all. 

Then, when the holy man was gone, she 
said to her husband: "Beloved, I beseech 
thee go to yonder oak-tree, and bring me 
from the hollow thereof the fair velvet skin 
that hath lain therein so many years." 

Then Harold marvelled, and he cried: 
"Who told thee that the fair velvet skin 
was hidden there ?" 

"The raven told me all," she answered; 

65 



THE HOLY CROSS 

"and had I been so minded I might have 
left thee long ago, thee and our little ones. 
But I loved thee and them, and the fair vel 
vet skin hath been unseen of me." 

"And wouldst thou leave us now?" he 
cried. "Nay, it shall not be! Thou shalt 
not see that fair velvet skin, for this very day 
will 1 cast it into the sea!" 

But she put an arm about his neck and 
said: "This night, dear one, we part; but 
whether we shall presently be joined to 
gether in another life I know not, neither 
canst thou say; for I, having been a Pagan 
and the daughter of a Pagan king, may by 
my birth and custom have so grievously 
offended our true God that even in his com 
passion and mercy he shall not find pardon 
for me. Therefore 1 would have thee fetch 
since I shall die this night and do require of 
thee this last act of kindness I would have 
thee fetch that same fair velvet skin from 
yonder oak-tree, and wrap me therein, and 
bear me hence, and lay me upon the green 
holm by the farther haven, for this is dancing 
night, and the seal-folk shall come from the 
sea as is their wont. Thou shalt lay me, so 

66 



AND OTHER TALES 

wrapped within that fair velvet skin, upon 
that holm, and thou shalt go a space aside 
and watch throughout the night, coming not 
anear me (as thou lovest me ! ) until the dawn 
breaks, nor shalt thou make any outcry, but 
thou shalt wait until the night is sped. Then, 
when thou comest at daybreak to the holm, 
if thou fmdest me in the fair velvet skin thou 
shalt know that my sin hath been pardoned ; 
but if I be not there thou may st know that, 
being a Pagan, the seal-folk have borne me 
back into the sea unto my kind. Thus do I 
require of thee; swear so to do, and let thy 
beloved bless thee." 

So Harold swore to do, and so he did. 
Straightway he went to the oak-tree and 
took from the hollow thereof the fair velvet 
skin; seeing which deed, the raven flew 
away and was never thereafter seen in these 
islands. And with a heavy heart, and with 
full many a caress and word of love, did 
Harold bind his fair wife in that same velvet 
skin, and he bore her to his boat, and they 
went together upon the waters; for he had 
sworn so to do. His course unto the haven 
lay as before over the waters that stole in 

67 



THE HOLY CROSS 

between the two islands from the great 
troubled sea beyond. Fair shone the moon, 
and the night was passing fair; the shadows 
lay asleep, like little weary children, in the val 
leys, and the waters moaned, and the winds 
rebuked the white fingers that stretched up 
from the waves to clutch them. And when 
they were come to the inner shore of the 
haven, Harold took his wife and bore her 
up the bank and laid her where the light 
came down from the moon and slept full 
sweetly upon the fragrant sward. Then, 
kissing her, he went his way and sat be 
hind the Stennis stones a goodly space be 
yond, and there he kept his watch, as he had 
sworn to do. 

Now wit ye well a grievous heavy watch 
it was that night, for his heart yearned for 
that beloved wife that lay that while upon 
the fair green holm, ay, never before had 
night seemed so long to Harold as did that 
dancing night when he waited for the seal- 
folk to come where the some-time Pagan 
princess lay wrapped in the fair velvet skin. 
But while he watched and waited, Membril, 
the fairy queen, came and brought others of 

68 



AND OTHER TALES 

her kind with her, and they made a circle 
about Harold, and threw around him such a 
charm that no evil could befall him from 
the ghosts and ghouls that in their shrouds 
walked among those bloody stones and 
wailed wofully and waved their white 
arms. For Membril, coming to Harold in 
the similitude of a glow-worm, made her 
self known to him, and she said and she 
sung: 

Loving heart, be calm a space 
In this gloomy vigil place; 
Though these confines haunted be 
Naught of harm can come to thee 
Nothing canst thou see or hear 
Of the ghosts that stalk anear, 
For around thee Membril flings 
Charms of Fay and fairy rings. 

Nothing daunted was Harold by thoughts 
of evil monsters, and naught recked he of 
the uncanny dangers of that haunted place; 
but he addressed these words to Membril 
and her host, and he said and he sung: 

Tell me if thy piercing eyes 

See the inner haven shore. 
There my Own Beloved lies, 

With the cowslips bending o er: 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Speed, O gentle folk of Fay! 
And in guise of cowslips say 
I shall love my love for aye! 

Even so did Membril and the rest; and 
presently they returned, and they brought 
these words unto Harold, saying and singing 
them: 

We as cowslips in that place 
Clustered round thy dear one s face, 
And we whispered to her there 
Those same words we went to bear; 
And she smiled and bade us then 
Bear these words to thee again : 
" Die we shall, and part we may, 
Love is love and lives for aye! 

Then of a sudden there was a tumult upon 
the waters, as if the waters were troubled, 
and there came up out of the waters a host 
of seals that made their way to the shore 
and cast aside their skins and came forth in 
the forms of men and of women, for they 
were the drowned folk that were come, as 
was their wont, to dance in the moonlight 
upon the fair green holm. At that moment 
the waters stretched out their white fingers 

70 



AND OTHER TALES 

and struck the kale and the pebbles and the 
soft moss upon the beach, for they sought to 
make music for the seal-folk to dance there 
by; but the music that was made was not 
merry nor gleeful, but was passing gruesome 
and mournful. And presently the seal-folk 
came where lay the wife of Harold wrapped 
in the fair velvet skin, and they knew her of 
old, and they called her by what name she 
was known to them, " Persis! Persis! " over 
and over again, and there was great wailing 
among the seal-folk for a mighty space; and 
the seal-folk danced never at all that night, 
but wailed about the wife of Harold, and 
called " Persis! Persis! " over and over again, 
and made great moan. And at last all was 
still once more, for the seal-folk, weeping 
and clamoring grievously, went back into 
the sea, and the sea sobbed itself to sleep. 

Mindful of the oath he swore, Harold dared 
not go down to that shore, but he besought 
Membril, the queen of Fay, to fetch him tid 
ings from his beloved, whether she still lay 
upon the holm, or whether the seal-folk had 
borne her away with them into the waters 
of the deep. But Membril might not go, nor 

71 



THE HOLY CROSS 

any of her host, for already the dawn was in 
the east and the kine were lowing on yonder 
slope. So Harold was left alone a tedious 
time, until the sun looked upon the earth, 
and then, with clamoring heart, Harold came 
from the Stennis stones and leapt downward 
to the holm where his beloved had lain that 
weary while. Then he saw that the fair 
velvet skin was still there, and presently he 
saw that within the skin his beloved still re 
posed. He called to her, but she made no 
answer; with exceeding haste he kneeled 
down and did off the fair velvet skin, and 
folded his beloved to his breast. The sun 
shone full upon her glorious face and kissed 
away the dew that clung to her white cheeks. 
"Thou art redeemed, O my beloved!" 
cried Harold; but her lips spake not, and 
her eyes opened not upon him. Yet on the 
dead wife s face was such a smile as angels 
wear, and it told him that they should meet 
again in a love that knoweth no fear of part 
ing. And as Harold held her to his bosom 
and wailed, there fell down from her hand 
what she had kept with her to the last, and 
it lay upon the fair green holm, the little 

72 



AND OTHER TALES 

alabaster cross which she had snatched from 
Theodoric s neck that day the Death-Angel 
bore the child away. 

It was to tell of Harold, the son of Egbert, 
the son of Ib, and of Persis, his wife, daugh 
ter of the Pagan king; and it hath been told. 
And there is no more to tell, for the tale is 
ended. 



M, 



, anti 



FLAIL, TRASK, AND BISLAND 



MY quondam friends, Flail, Trask, and 
Bisland, are no more; they are dead, 
and with them has gone out of existence as 
gross an imposition as the moral cowardice 
of man were capable of inventing, construct 
ing, and practising. 

When Alice became my wife she knew 
that I was a lover and collector of books, 
but, being a young thing, she had no idea of 
the monstrous proportions which biblio 
mania, unchecked, is almost certain to ac 
quire. Indeed, the dear girl innocently and 
rapturously encouraged this insidious vice. 
"Some time," she used to say, "we shall 
have a house of our own, and then your 
library shall cover the whole top-floor, and 
the book-cases shall be built in the walls, 
and there shall be a lovely blue-glass sky- 

77 



THE HOLY CROSS 

light," etc. Moreover, although she could 
not tell the difference between an Elzevir and 
a Pickering, or between a folio and an octavo, 
Alice was very proud of our little library, and 
I recall now with real delight the times I used 
to hear her showing off those precious books 
to her lady callers. Alice made up for certain 
inaccuracies of information with a distinct 
enthusiasm and garrulity that never failed 
to impress her callers deeply. I was mighty 
proud of Alice; I was prepared to say, para 
phrasing Sam Johnson s remark about the 
Scotchman, "A wife can be made much of, 
if caught young. 

It was not until after little Grolier and lit 
tle Richard de Bury were born to us that 
Alice s regard for my pretty library seemed 
to abate. I then began to realize the truth 
of what my bachelor friend Kinzie had often 
declared, namely, that the chief objection 
to children was that they weaned the collector 
from his love of books. Grolier was a mis 
chievous boy, and I had hard work trying to 
convince his mother that he should by no 
means be allowed to have his sweet but 
destructive will with my Bewicks and Bed- 

78 



AND OTHER TALES 

fords. Thumb and finger marks look well 
enough in certain places, but I protested 
that they did not enhance the quaint beauty 
of an old wood-cut, a delicate binding, or a 
wide margin. And Richard de Bury a 
lovely little i6mo of a child was almost as 
destructive as his older brother. The most 
painful feature of it all to me then was that 
their mother actually protected the toddling 
knaves in their vandalism. I never saw 
another woman change so as Alice did after 
those two boys came to us. Why, she even 
suggested to me one day that when we did 
build our new house we should devote the 
upper story thereof not to library but to nur 
sery purposes! 

Things gradually got to the pass that I 
began to be afraid to bring books into the 
house. At first Alice used to reproach me 
indirectly by eying the new book jealously, 
and hinting in a subtle, womanly way that 
Grolier needed new shoes, or that Richard 
was sadly in need of a new cap. Presently, 
encouraged by my lamb-like reticence, Alice 
began to complain gently of what she termed 
my extravagance, and finally she fell into 

79 



THE HOLY CROSS 

the pernicious practice of berating me roundly 
for neglecting my family for the selfish 
yes, the cruel- -gratification of a foolish fad, 
and then she would weep and gather up the 
two boys and wonder how soon we should 
all be in the poorhouse. 

I have spoken of my bachelor friend, Kin- 
zie; there was a philosopher for you, and 
his philosophy was all the sweeter because 
it had never been embittered by marital ex 
perience. I had confidence in Kinzie, and I 
told him all about the dilemma I was in. 
He pitied me and condoled with me, for he 
was a sympathetic man, and he was, too, 
as consistent a bibliomaniac as I ever met 
with. "Be of good cheer," said he, "we 
shall find a way out of all this trouble." 
And he suggested a way. I seized upon it 
as the proverbial drowning man is supposed 
to clutch at the proverbial straw. 

The next time 1 took a bundle of books 
home I marched into the house boldly with 
them. Alice fetched a deep sigh. "Ah, 
been buying more books, have you ? " she 
asked in a despairing tone. 

"No, indeed," I answered triumphantly; 

80 



AND OTHER TALES 

"they were given to me,- -a present from 
Judge Trask. I m in great luck, ain t I ? 

Alice was almost as pleased as 1 was. 
The interest with which she inspected the 
lovely volumes was not feigned. "But 
who is Judge Trask? she asked, as she 
read the autographic lines upon a flyleaf in 
each book. I explained glibly that the judge 
was a wealthy and cultured citizen who felt 
somewhat under obligation to me for certain 
little services I had rendered him one time 
and another. I was not to be trapped or 
cornered. I had learned my sinful lesson 
perfectly. Alice never so much as suspected 
me of evil. 

The scheme worked so well that I pur 
sued it with more or less diligence. I should 
say that about twice a week on an average 
a bundle of books came to the house "with 
the compliments of either Judge Trask or 
Colonel Flail or Mr. Bisland. You can un 
derstand that I could not hope to play the 
Trask deception exclusively and success 
fully. I invented Colonel Flail and Mr. Bis 
land, and I contrived to render them quite 
as liberal in their patronage as the mythical 

81 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Judge Trask himself. Occasionally a dona 
tion came in, by way of variety, from Smea- 
ton and Holbrook and Caswell and other 
solitary creations of my mendacious imag 
ination, when I used to blind poor dear 
Alice to the hideous truth. Touching my 
self, 1 gave it out that I had abandoned book- 
buying, was convinced of the folly of the 
mania, had reformed, and was repentant. 
Alice loved me all the better for that, and 
she became once more the sweetest, most 
amiable little woman in all the world. She 
was inexpressibly happy in the fond de 
lusion that I had become prudent and 
thrifty, and was putting money in bank 
for that home we were going to buy 
sometime. 

Meanwhile the names of Flail, Trask, and 
Bisland became household words with us. 
Occasionally Smeaton and Holbrook and 
Caswell were mentioned gratefully as some 
fair volume bearing their autograph was in 
spected ; but, after all, Flail, Trask, and Bis 
land were the favorites, for it was from them 
that most of my beloved books came. Yes, 
Alice gradually grew to love those three 

82 



AND OTHER TALES 

myths; she loved them because they were 
good to me. 

Alice had, like most others of her sex, a 
strong sense of duty. She determined to do 
something for my noble friends, and finally 
she planned a lovely little dinner whereat 
Judge Trask and Colonel Flail and Mr. Bis- 
land were to be regaled with choicest viands 
of Alice s choice larder and with the sweetest 
speeches of Alice s graceful heart. I was 
authorized only to convey the invitations to 
this delectable banquet, and here was a 
pretty plight for a man to be in, surely 
enough! But my bachelor friend Kinzie 
(ough, the Mephisto!) helped me out. I 
reported back to Alice that Judge Trask was 
out of town, that Colonel Flail was sick abed 
with grip, and that Mr. Bisland was alto 
gether too shy a man to think of venturing 
out to a dinner alone. Alice was dreadfully 
disappointed. Still there was consolation in 
feeling that she had done her duty in trying 
to do it. 

Well, this system of deception and perjury 
went on a long time, Alice never suspecting 
any evil, but perfectly happy in my supposed 

83 



THE HOLY CROSS 

reform and economy, and in the gracious lib 
erality of those three Maecenas-like friends, 
Flail, Trask, and Bisland, who kept pouring 
in rare and beauteous old tomes upon me. 
She was joyous, too, in the prospect of that 
new house which we would soon be able to 
build, now that I had so long quit the old 
ruinous mania for book-buying! And I 
wretch that I was I humored her in this 
conceit; I heaped perjury upon perjury; ly 
ing and deception had become my second 
nature. Yet I loathed myself and I hated 
those books; they reproached me every time 
I came into their presence. So I was mis 
erable and helpless; how hard it is to turn 
about when one once gets into the down 
ward path ! The shifts I was put to, and the 
desperate devices which I was forced to em 
ploy, I shudder to recall them! Life became 
a constant, terrifying lie. 

Thank Heaven, it is over now, and my face 
is turned the right way. A third little son 
was born to us. Alice was, oh! so very ill. 
When she was convalescing she said to me 
one day: " Hiram, I have been thinking it all 
over, and I ve made up my mind that we must 

84 



AND OTHER TALES 

name the baby Trask Flail Bisland, after our 
three good friends." 

1 did n t make any answer, went out into 
the hall, and communed awhile with my 
own hideous, tormented self. How my soul 
revolted against the prospect of giving to 
that innocent babe a name that would serve 
simply to scourge me through the rest of 
my wicked life! No, I could not consent to 
that. I would be a coward no longer! 

1 went back into Alice s room, and sat 
upon the bed beside her, and took one of 
Alice s dear little white hands in mine, and 
told her everything, told Alice the whole 
truth,- -all about my wickedness and per 
juries and deceptions; told her what a self 
ish, cruel monster I had been; dispelled all 
the sinful delusion about Flail, Trask, and 
Bisland; threw myself, penitent and hope 
less, upon my deceived, outraged little wife s 
mercy. Was it a mean advantage to take of 
a sick woman ? 

I fancied she would reproach me, for I 
knew that her heart was set upon that new 
house she had talked of so often ; I told her 
that the savings she had supposed were in 

S3 



THE HOLY CROSS 

bank, were in reality represented only by 
and in those stately folios and sumptuous 
quartos which the mythical Flail, Trask, and 
Bisland had presumably donated. "But," 
I added, "I shall sell them now, and with 
the money I shall build the home in which 
we may be happy again, a lovely home, 
sweetheart, with no library at all, but all 
nursery if you wish it so! " 

"No," said Alice, when I had ended my 
blubbering confession, "we shall not part 
with the books; they have caused you more 
suffering than they have me, and, moreover, 
their presence will have a beneficial effect 
upon you. Furthermore, I myself have be- 
comeattachedtothem, you know I thought 
they were given to you, and so I have learned 
to care for them. Poor Judge Trask and Colo 
nel Flail and Mr. Bisland, so they are only 
myths? Dear Hiram/ she added with a 
sigh, "I can forgive you for everything ex 
cept for taking those three good men out of 
our lives! " 

After all this I have indeed reformed. I 
have actually become prudent, and I have a 
bank-account that is constantly increasing. 

86 



AND OTHER TALES 

I do not hate books; I simply do not buy 
them. And I eschew that old sinner, Kinzie, 
and all the sinister influences he represents. 
As for our third little boy, we have named 
him Reform Meigs, after Alice s mother s 
grandfather, who built the first saw-mill in 
what is now the State of Ohio, and was 
killed by the Indians in 1796. 



ourf) in tfje 



THE TOUCH IN THE HEART 



OLD Abel Dunklee was delighted, and so 
was old Abel s wife, when little Abel 
came. For this coming they had waited many 
years. God had prospered them elsewise; 
this one supreme blessing only had been 
withheld. Yet Abel had never despaired. 
"I shall some time have a son," said he. 
"I shall call him Abel. He shall be rich ; he 
shall succeed to my business ; my house, my 
factory, my lands, my fortune, all shall be 
his!" Abel Dunklee felt this to be a cer 
tainty, and with this prospect constantly in 
mind he slaved and pinched and bargained. 
So when at last the little one did come it was 
as heir to a considerable property. 

The joy in the house of Dunklee was not 
shared by the community at large. Abel 
Dunklee was by no means a popular man. 

91 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Folk had the well-defined opinion that he 
was selfish, miserly, and hard. If he had 
not been actually bad, he had never been 
what the world calls a good man. His 
methods had been of the grinding, sordid 
order. He had always been scrupulously 
honest in the payment of his debts, and in 
keeping his word; but his sense of duty 
seemed to stop there: Abel s idea of good 
ness was to owe no man any money. He 
never gave a penny to charities, and he 
never spent any time sympathizing with the 
misfortunes or distresses of other people. He 
was narrow, close, selfish, and hard, so his 
neighbors and the community at large said, 
and I shall not deny that the verdict was a 
just one. 

When a little one comes into this world of 
ours, it is the impulse of the people here to 
bid it welcome, and to make its lot pleasant. 
When little Abel was born no such enthu 
siasm obtained outside the austere Dunklee 
household. Popular sentiment found vent in 
an expression of the hope that the son and 
heir would grow up to scatter the dollars 
which old man Dunklee had accumulated by 

92 



AND OTHER TALES 

years of relentless avarice and unflagging 
toil. But Dr. Hardy he who had officiated 
in an all-important capacity upon that mo 
mentous occasion in the Dunklee household 
Dr. Hardy shook his head wisely, and 
perhaps sadly, as if he were saying to him 
self: No, the child will never do either what 
the old folk or what the other folk would 
have him do; he is not long for here." 

Had you questioned him closely, Dr. Hardy 
would have told you that little Abel was as 
frail a babe as ever did battle for life. Dr. 
Hardy would surely never have dared say 
that to old Dunklee; for in his rapture in 
the coming of that little boy old Dunklee 
would have smote the offender who pre 
sumed even to intimate that the babe was 
not the most vigorous as well as the most 
beautiful creature upon earth. The old man 
was simply assotted upon the child, in a 
selfish way, undoubtedly, but even this sel 
fish love of that puny little child showed that 
the old man was capable of somewhat better 
than his past life had been. To hear him 
talk you might have fancied that Mrs. Dunk 
lee had no part or parcel or interest in their 

93 



THE HOLY CROSS 

offspring. It was always " my little boy," 
yes, old Abel Dunklee s money had a rival 
in the old man s heart at last, and that rival 
was a helpless, shrunken, sickly little babe. 
Among his business associates Abel Dunk- 
lee was familiarly known as Old Growly, 
for the reason that his voice was harsh and 
discordant, and sounded for all the world 
like the hoarse growling of an ill-natured 
bear. Abel was not a particularly irritable 
person, but his slavish devotion to money- 
getting, his indifference to the amenities of 
life, his entire neglect of the tender practices 
of humanity, his rough, unkempt personal 
ity, andhisdeep, hoarse voice,- -these things 
combined to make that sobriquet of "Old 
Growly" an exceedingly appropriate one. 
And presumably Abel never thought of re 
senting the slur implied therein and there 
by; he was too shrewd not to see that, 
however disrespectful and evil-intentioned 
the phrase might be, it served him to good 
purpose; for it conduced to that very gen 
eral awe, not to say terror, which kept peo 
ple from bothering him with their charitable 
and sentimental schemes. 

94 



AND OTHER TALES 

Yes, I think we can accept it as a fact 
that Abel liked that sobriquet; it meant 
more money in his pocket, and fewer de 
mands upon his time and patience. 

But Old Grovvly abroad and Old Growly 
at home were two very different people. 
Only the voice was the same. The homely, 
furrowed, wizened face lighted up, and the 
keen, restless eyes lost their expression of 
shrewdness, and the thin, bony hands that 
elsewhere clutched and clutched and pinched 
and pinched for possession unlimbered 
themselves in the presence of little Abel, 
and reached out their long fingers yearn 
ingly and caressingly toward the little child. 
Then the hoarse voice would growl a salu 
tation that was full of tenderness, for it came 
straight from the old man s heart; only, had 
you not known how much he loved the 
child, you might have thought otherwise, 
for the old man s voice was always hoarse 
and discordant, and that was why they 
called him Old Growly. But what proved 
his love for that puny babe was the fact that 
every afternoon, when he came home from 
the factory, Old Growly brought his little 

95 



THE HOLY CROSS 

boy a dime; and once, when the little fellow 
had a fever on him from teething, Old 
Growly brought him a dollar! Next day 
the tooth came through and the fever left 
him, but you could not make the old man 
believe but what it was the dollar that did 
it all. That was natural, perhaps; for his 
life had been spent in grubbing for money, 
and he had not the soul to see that the best 
and sweetest things in human life are not to 
be had by riches alone. 

As the doctor had in one way and another 
intimated would be the case, the child did 
not wax fat and vigorous. Although Old 
Growly did not seem to see the truth, little 
Abel grew older only to become what the 
doctor had foretold, a cripple. A weak 
ness of the spine was developed, a malady 
that dwarfed the child s physical growth, 
giving to his wee face a pinched, starved 
look, warping his emaciated body, and en 
feebling his puny limbs, while at the same 
time it quickened the intellectual faculties to 
the degree of precocity. And so two and 
three and four years went by, little Abel 
clinging to life with pathetic heroism, and 

96 



AND OTHER TALES 

Old Growly loving that little cripple with 
all the violence of his selfish nature. Never 
once did it occur to the father that his child 
might die, that death s seal was already set 
upon the misshapen little body ; on the con 
trary, Old Growly s thoughts were con 
stantly of little Abel s famous future, of the 
great fortune he was to fall heir to, of the 
prosperous business career he was to pursue, 
of the influence he was to wield in the 
world, of dollars, dollars, dollars, millions 
of them which little Abel was some time to 
possess; these were Old Growly s dreams, 
and he loved to dream them ! 

Meanwhile the world did well by the old 
man; despising him, undoubtedly, for his 
avarice and selfishness, but constantly pour 
ing wealth, and more wealth, and even more 
wealth into his coffers. As for the old man, 
he cared not for what the world thought or 
said, so long as it paid tribute to him; he 
wrought on as of old, industriously, shrewdly, 
hardly, but with this new purpose: to make 
his little boy happy and great with riches. 

Toys and picture-books were vanities in 
which Old Growly never indulged; to have 

97 



THE HOLY CROSS 

expended a farthing for chattels of that char 
acter would have seemed to Old Growly like 
sinful extravagance. The few playthings 
which little Abel had were such as his 
mother surreptitiously bought; the old man 
believed that a child should be imbued with 
a proper regard for the value of money from 
the very start, so his presents were always 
cash in hand, and he bought a large tin bank 
for little Abel, and taught the child how to 
put the copper and silver pieces into it, and 
he labored diligently to impress upon the 
child of how great benefit that same money 
would be to him by and by. Just picture to 
yourself, if you can, that fond, foolish old 
man seeking to teach this lesson to that wan- 
eyed, pinched-face little cripple! But little 
Abel took it all very seriously, and was so 
apt a pupil that Old Growly made great joy 
and was wont to rub his bony hands glee 
fully and say to himself, "He has great 
genius, this boy of mine, great genius 
for finance! " 

But on a day, coining from his factory, 
Old Growly was stricken with horror to find 
that during his absence from home a great 

98 



AND OTHER TALES 

change had come upon his child. The doc 
tor said it was simply the progress of the 
disease; that it was a marvel that little Abel 
had already held out so long; that from the 
moment of his birth the seal of death had 
been set upon him in that cruel malady which 
had drawn his face and warped his body and 
limbs. Then all at once Old Growly s eyes 
seemed to be opened to the truth, and like 
a lightning flash it came to him that perhaps 
his pleasant dreams which he had dreamed 
of his child s future could never be realized. 
It was a bitter awakening, yet amid it all the 
old man was full of hope, determination, and 
battle. He had little faith in drugs and 
nursing and professional skill; he remem 
bered that upon previous occasions cures 
had been wrought by means of money ; teeth 
had been brought through, the pangs of colic 
beguiled, and numerous other ailments to 
which infancy is heir had by the same spe 
cific been baffled. So now Old Growly set 
about wooing his little boy from the embrace 
of death, sought to coax him back to 
health with money, and the dimes became 
dollars, and the tin blink was like to burst 

99 



THE HOLY CROSS 

of fulness. But little Abel drooped and 
drooped, and he lost all interest in other 
things, and he was content to lie, drooping- 
eyed and listless, in his mother s arms all 
day. At last the little flame went out with 
hardly so much as a flutter, and the hope of 
the house of Dunklee was dissipated forever. 
But even in those last moments of the little 
cripple s suffering the father struggled to 
call back the old look into the fading eyes, 
and the old smile into the dear, white face. 
He brought treasure from his vaults and 
held it up before those fading eyes, and 
promised it all, all, all everything he pos 
sessed, gold, houses, lands all he had he 
would give to that little child if that little 
child would only live. But the fading eyes 
saw other things, and the ears that were 
deaf to the old man s lamentations heard 
voices that soothed the anguish of that last 
solemn hour. And so little Abel knew the 
Mystery. 

Then the old man crept away from that 
vestige of his love, and stood alone in the 
night, and lifted up his face, and beat his 
bosom, and moaned at the stars, asking over 

100 



AND OTHER TALES 

and over again why he had been so bereaved. 
And while he agonized in this wise and 
cried there came to him a voice, a voice 
so small that none else could hear, a voice 
seemingly from God; for from infinite 
space beyond those stars it sped its instan 
taneous way to the old man s soul and 
lodged there. 

" Abel, I have touched thy heart! " 
And so, having come into the darkness of 
night, old Dunklee went back into the light 
of day and found life beautiful ; for the touch 
was in his heart. 

After that, Old Growly s way of dealing 
with the world changed. He had always 
been an honest man, honest as the world 
goes. Butnowhe was somewhat better than 
honest; he was kind, considerate, merciful. 
People saw and felt the change, and they 
knew why it was so. But the pathetic part 
of it all was that Old Growly would never 
admit no, not even to himself that he 
was the least changed from his old grinding, 
hard self. The good deeds he did were not 
his own; they were his little boy s, at least 
so he said. And it was his whim when doing 

101 



THE HOLY CROSS 

some kind and tender thing to lay it to little 
Abel, of whom he always spoke as if he 
were still living. His workmen, his neigh 
bors, his townsmen, all alike felt the gra- 
ciousness of the wondrous change, and many, 
ah ! many a lowly sufferer blessed that broken 
old man for succor in little Abel s name. 
And the old man was indeed much broken: 
not that he had parted with his shrewdness 
and acumen, for, as of old, his every venture 
prospered; but in this particular his mind 
seemed weakened; that, as I have said, he 
fancied his child lived, that he was given to 
low muttering and incoherent mumblings, 
of which the burden seemed to be that child 
of his, and that his greatest pleasure appeared 
now to be watching other little ones at their 
play. In fact, so changed was he from the 
Old Growly of former years, that, whereas 
he had then been wholly indifferent to the 
presence of those little ones upon earth, he 
now sought their company, and delighted to 
view their innocent and mirthful play. And 
so, presently, the children, from regarding 
him at first with distrust, came to confide in 
and love him, and in due time the old man 

102 



AND OTHER TALES 

was known far and wide as Old Grampa 
Growly, and he was pleased thereat. It was 
his wont to go every fair day, of an after 
noon, into a park hard by his dwelling, and 
mingle with the crowd of little folk there; 
and when they were weary of their sports 
they used to gather about him, some even 
clambering upon his knees, and hear him 
tell his story, for he had only one story to tell, 
and that was the story that lay next his heart, 
the story ever and forever beginning with, 
"Once ther wuz a littl boy." A very ten 
der little story it was, too, told very much 
more sweetly than I could ever tell it; for it 
was of Old Grampa Growly s own little boy, 
and it came from that heart in which the 
touch the touch of God Himself lav like 

* 

a priceless pearl. 

So you must know that the last years of 
the old man s life made full atonement for 
those that had gone before. People forgot 
that the old man had ever been other than 
he was now, and of course the children never 
knew otherwise. But as for himself, Old 
Grampa Growly grew tenderer and tenderer, 
and his goodness became a household word, 

103 



THE HOLY CROSS 

and he was beloved of all. And to the very 
last he loved the little ones, and shared their 
pleasures, and sympathized with them in their 
griefs, but always repeating that same old 
story, beginning with "Once ther wuz a 
littr boy." 

The curious part of it was this : that while 
he implied by his confidences to the children 
that his own little boy was dead, he never 
made that admission to others. On the con 
trary, it was his wont, as I have said, to 
speak of little Abel as if that child still lived, 
and, humoring him in this conceit, it was 
the custom of the older ones to speak al 
ways of that child as if he lived and were 
known and beloved of all. In this custom 
the old man had great content and solace. 
For it was his wish that all he gave to and 
did for charity s sake should be known to 
come, not from him, but from Abel, his son, 
and this was his express stipulation at all 
such times. I know whereof I speak, for I 
was one of those to whom the old man came 
upon a time and said: "My little boy 
Abel, you know will give me no peace till 
I do what he requires. He has this sum of 

104 



AND OTHER TALES 

money which he has saved in his bank, count 
it yourselves, it is $50,000, and he bids me 
give it to the townsfolk for a hospital, one for 
little lame boys and girls. And I have prom 
ised him - - my little boy, Abel, you know 
that I will give $50,000 more. You shall 
have it when that hospital is built." Surely 
enough, in eighteen months time the old man 
handed us the rest of the money, and when 
we told him that the place was to be called 
the Abel Dunklee hospital he was sorely dis 
tressed, and shook his head, and said : " No, 
no, not my name! Call it the Little Abel 
hospital, for little Abel my boy, you know 
has done it all." 

The old man lived many years, lived to 
hear tender voices bless him, and to see pale 
faces brighten at the sound of his footfall. 
Yes, for many years the quaint, shuffling 
figure moved about our streets, and his hoarse 
but kindly voice oh, very kindly now ! 
was heard repeating to the children that 
pathetic old story of "Once ther wuz a littl 
boy." And where the dear old feet trod 
the grass grew greenest, and the sunbeams 
nestled. But at last there came a sum- 

105 



THE HOLY CROSS 

mons for the old man, a summons from 
away off yonder, and the old man heard it 
and went thither. 

The doctor himself hoary and stooping 
now told me that toward the last Old 
Grampa Growly sunk into a sort of sleep, or 
stupor, from which they could not rouse him. 
For many hours he lay like one dead, but his 
thin, creased face was very peaceful, and 
there was no pain. Children tiptoed in 
with flowers, and some cried bitterly, 
while others those who were younger 
whispered to one another: "Hush, let 
us make no noise; Old Grampa Growly is 
sleeping." 

At last the old man roused up. He had 
lain like one dead for many hours, but now 
at last he seemed to wake of a sudden, and, 
seeing children about him, perhaps he fan 
cied himself in that pleasant park, under the 
trees, where so very often he had told his one 
pathetic story to those little ones. Leastwise 
he made a feeble motion as if he would have 
them gather nearer, and, seeming to know 
his wish, the children came closer to him. 
Those who were nearest heard him say with 

1 06 



AND OTHER TALES 

the ineffable tenderness of old, "Oncether 
wuz a littl boy " 

And with those last sweet words upon his 
lips, and with the touch in his heart, the old 
man went down into the Valley. 



107 



Stanirf and tfje SDctil 



DANIEL AND THE DEVIL 



DANIEL was a very wretched man. As 
he sat with his head bowed upon his 
desk that evening he made up his mind that 
his life had been a failure. " I have labored 
long and diligently," said he to himself, 
" and although I am known throughout the 
city as an industrious and shrewd business 
man, I am still a poor man, and shall prob 
ably continue so to the end of my days un 
less unless " 

Here Daniel stopped and shivered. For 
a week or more he had been brooding over 
his unhappy lot. There seemed to be but 
One way out of his trouble, yet his soul re 
volted from taking that step. That was why 
he stopped and shivered. 

"But," he argued, "I must do something! 
My nine children are growing up into big 

in 



THE HOLY CROSS 

boys and girls. They must have those ad 
vantages which my limited means will not 
admit of! All my life so far has been pure, 
circumspect, and rigid; poverty has at last 
broken my spirit. I give up the fight, I 
am ready to sell my soul to the Devil! " 

"The determination is a wise one," said 
a voice at Daniel s elbow. Daniel looked up 
and beheld a grim-visaged stranger in the 
chair beside him. The stranger was arrayed 
all in black, and he exhaled a distinct odor of 
sulphur. 

"Am I to understand," asked the stranger, 
"that you are prepared to enter into a league 
with the Devil ?" 

"Yes," said Daniel, firmly; and he set his 
teeth together after the fashion of a man who 
is not to be moved from his purpose. 

" Then I am ready to treat with you," said 
the stranger. 

"Are you the Devil ? " asked Daniel, eying 
the stranger critically. 

"No, but I am authorized to enter into 
contracts for him," explained the stranger. 
" My name is Beelzebub, and I am my mas 
ter s most trusted agent." 

I 12 



AND OTHER TALES 

"Sir," said Daniel, "you must pardon me 
(for I am loath to wound your feelings), but 
one of the rules governing my career as a 
business man has been to deal directly with 
principals, and never to trust to the offices of 
middle-men. The affair now in hand is one 
concerning the Devil and myself, and be 
tween us two and by us two only can the 
preliminaries be adjusted." 

"As it so happens," explained Beelzebub, 
"this is Friday, commonly called hang 
man s day, and that is as busy a time in 
our particular locality as a Monday is in a 
laundry, or as the first of every month is at 
a book-keeper s desk. You can understand, 
perhaps, that this is the Devil s busy day; 
therefore be content to make this deal with 
me, and you will find that my master will 
cheerfully accept any contract I may enter 
into as his agent and in his behalf." 

But no, Daniel would not agree to this; 
with the Devil himself, and only the Devil 
himself, would he treat. So he bade Beel 
zebub go to the Devil and make known his 
wishes. Beelzebub departed, much cha 
grined. Presently back came the Devil, and 



THE HOLY CROSS 

surely it was the Devil this time, there could 
be no mistake about it; for he wore a scarlet 
cloak, and had cloven feet, and carried about 
with him as many suffocating smells as there 
are kinds of brimstone, sulphur, and assa- 
foetida. 

The two talked over all Daniel s miseries; 
the Devil sympathized with Daniel, and ever 
and anon a malodorous, gummy tear would 
trickle down the Devil s sinister nose and 
drop off on the carpet. 

"What you want is money," said the 
Devil. "That will give you the comfort and 
the contentment you crave." 

"Yes," said Daniel ; "it will give me every 
opportunity to do good." 

" To do good ! " repeated the Devil. "To 
do good, indeed! Yes, it s many a good 
time we shall have together, friend Daniel! 
Ha, ha, ha!" And the Devil laughed up 
roariously. Nothing seemed more humor 
ous than the prospect of " doing good " with 
the Devil s money! But Daniel failed to see 
what the Devil was so jolly about. Daniel 
was not a humorist; he was, as we have 
indicated, a plain business man. 

114 



AND OTHER TALES 

It was finally agreed that Daniel should sell 
his soul to the Devil upon condition that for 
the space of twenty-four years the Devil 
should serve Daniel faithfully, should pro 
vide him with riches, and should do what 
soever he was commanded to do; then, at 
the end of the twenty-fourth year, Daniel s 
soul was to pass into the possession of the 
Devil, and was to remain there forever, with 
out recourse or benefit of clergy. Surely a 
more horrible contract was never entered 
into! 

"You will have to sign, your name to 
this contract," said the Devil, producing a 
sheet of asbestos paper upon which all the 
terms of the diabolical treaty were set forth 
exactly. 

"Certainly," replied Daniel. "I have 
been a business man long enough to know 
the propriety and necessity of written con 
tracts. And as for you, you must of course 
give a bond for the faithful execution of your 
part of this business." 

"That is something I have never done be 
fore, suggested the Devil. 

I shall insist upon it, " said Daniel, firmly. 

"5 



THE HOLY CROSS 

"This is no affair of sentiment; it is strictly 
and coldly business: you are to do certain 
service, and are to receive certain rewards 
therefor " 

"Yes, your soul!" cried the Devil, glee 
fully rubbing his callous hands together. 
" Your soul in twenty-four years! 

"Yes," said Daniel. "Now, no contract 
is good unless there is a quid pro quo. 

"That s so," said the Devil, "so let s get 
a lawyer to draw up the paper for me to 
sign." 

"Why a lawyer?" queried Daniel. "A 
contract is a simple instrument; I, as a busi 
ness man, can frame one sufficiently bind 
ing." 

"But I prefer to have a lawyer do it," 
urged the Devil. 

And / prefer to do it myself," said Daniel. 

When a business man once gets his mind 
set, not even an Archimedean lever could stir 
it. So Daniel drew up the bond for the Devil 
to sign, and this bond specified that in case 
the Devil failed at any time during the next 
twenty-four years to do whatso Daniel com 
manded him, then should the bond which the 

116 



AND OTHER TALES 

Devil held against Daniel become null and 
void, and upon that same day should a 
thousand and one souls be released forever 
from the Devil s dominion. The Devil winced ; 
he hated to sign this agreement, but he had 
to. An awful clap of thunder ratified the 
abominable treaty, and every black cat within 
a radius of a hundred leagues straightway 
fell to frothing and to yowling grotesquely. 

Presently Daniel began to prosper; the 
Devil was a faithful slave, and he served 
Daniel so artfully that no person on earth 
suspected that Daniel had leagued with the 
evil one. Daniel had the finest house in the 
city, his wife dressed magnificently, and his 
children enjoyed every luxury wealth could 
provide. Still, Daniel was content to be 
known as a business man ; he deported him 
self modestly and kindly; he pursued with 
all his old-time diligence the trade which in 
earlier days he had found so unproductive of 
riches. His indifference to the pleasures 
which money put within his reach was pass 
ing strange, and it caused the Devil vast un 
easiness. 

Daniel, said the Devil, one day, you re 

117 



THE HOLY CROSS 

not getting out of this thing all the fun there 
is in it. You go poking along in the same 
old rut with never a suspicion that you have 
it in your power to enjoy every pleasure of 
human life. Why don t you break away from 
the old restraints ? Why don t you avail your 
self of the advantages at your command? 

"I know what you re driving at," said 
Daniel, shrewdly, "Politics!" 

"No, not at all, remonstrated the Devil. 
" What I mean is fun, gayety. Why not 
have a good time, Daniel ? 

"But I am having a good time," said 
Daniel. "My business is going along all 
right, I am rich. I ve got a lovely home; 
my wife is happy; my children are healthy 
and contented; I am respected, what more 
could I ask ? What better time could I de 
mand?" 

"You don t understand me," explained 
the Devil. "What I mean by a good time 
is that which makes the heart merry and 
keeps the soul youthful and buoyant, - - wine, 
Daniel! Wine and the theatre and pretty 
girls and fast horses and all that sort of happy, 
joyful life!" 

118 



AND OTHER TALES 

"Tut, tut, tut!" cried Daniel; "no more 
of that, sir! I sowed my wild oats in college. 
What right have I to think of such silly fol 
lies, I, at forty years of age, and a business 
man too ?" 

So not even the Devil himself could per 
suade Daniel into a life of dissipation. All 
you who have made a study of the business 
man will agree that of all human beings he 
is the hardest to swerve from conservative 
methods. The Devil groaned and began to 
wonder why he had ever tied up to a man 
like Daniel,- -a business man. 

Pretty soon Daniel developed an ambition. 
He wanted reputation, and he told the Devil 
so. The Devil s eyes sparkled. "At last," 
murmured the Devil, with a sigh of relief, 
"at last." 

" Yes," said Daniel, " 1 want to be known 
far and wide. You must build a church for 
me." 

"What!" shrieked the Devil. And the 
Devil s tail stiffened up like a sore thumb. 

"Yes," said Daniel, calmly; "you must 
build a church for me, and it must be the 
largest and the handsomest church in the 

119 



THE HOLY CROSS 

city. The sittings shall be free, and you 
shall provide the funds for its support for 
ever." 

The Devil frothed at his mouth, and blue 
fire issued from his ears and nostrils. He 
was the maddest devil ever seen on earth. 

"I won t do it! " roared the Devil. " Do 
you suppose I m going to spend my time 
building churches and stultifying myself just 
for the sake of gratifying your idle whims ? 
I won t do it, never! " 

"Then the bond I gave is null and void," 
said Daniel. 

"Take your old bond," said the Devil, 
petulantly. 

"But the bond you gave is operative," 
continued Daniel. So release the thousand 
and one souls you owe me when you refuse 
to obey me. 

"Oh, Daniel!" whimpered the Devil, 
"how can you treat me so? Have n t I 
always been good to you ? Have n t I given 
you riches and prosperity ? Does no senti 
ment of friendship " 

"Hush," said Daniel, interrupting him. 
"I have already told you a thousand times 

1 20 



AND OTHER TALES 

that our relations were simply those of one 
business man with another. It now be 
hooves you to fulfil your part of our com 
pact; eventually I shall fulfil mine. Come, 
now, to business! Will you or will you 
not keep your word and save your bond ? 

The Devil was sorely put to his trumps. 
But when it came to releasing a thousand 
and one souls from hell, ah, that staggered 
him! He had to build the church, and a 
noble one it was too. Then he endowed 
the church, and finally he built a parsonage; 
altogether it was a stupendous work, and 
Daniel got all the credit for it. The preacher 
whom Daniel installed in this magnificent 
temple was severely orthodox, and one of 
the first things he did was to preach a series 
of sermons upon the personality of the Devil, 
wherein he inveighed most bitterly against 
that person and his work. 

By and by Daniel made the Devil endow 
and build a number of hospitals, charity 
schools, free baths, libraries, and other in 
stitutions of similar character. Then he 
made him secure the election of honest men 
to office and of upright judges to the bench. 

121 



THE HOLY CROSS 

It almost broke the Devil s heart to do it, 
but the Devil was prepared to do almost 
anything else than forfeit his bond and give 
up those one thousand and one souls. By 
this time Daniel came to be known far and 
wide for his philanthropy and his piety. 
This gratified him of course; but most of all 
he gloried in the circumstance that he was 
a business man. 

"Have you anything for me to do to 
day?" asked the Devil, one morning. He 
had grown to be a very meek and courteous 
devil; steady employment in righteous 
causes had chastened him to a degree and 
purged away somewhat of the violence of 
his nature. On this particular morning he 
looked haggard and ill,- -yes, and he looked, 
too, as blue as a whetstone. 

"I am not feeling robust," explained the 
Devil. "To tell the truth, I am somewhat 
ill." 

"I am sorry to hear it," said Daniel; "but 
as I am not conducting a sanitarium, I can 
do nothing further than express my regret 
that you are ailing. Of course our business 
relations do not contemplate any inter- 

122 



AND OTHER TALES 

change of sympathies; still I 11 go easy with 
you to-day. You may go up to the house 
and look after the children; see that they 
don t smoke cigarettes, or quarrel, or tease 
the cat, or do anything out of the way." 

Now that was fine business for the Devil to 
be in ; but how could the Devil help himself? 
He was wholly at Daniel s mercy. He went 
groaning about the humiliating task. 

The crash came at last. It was when the 
Devil informed Daniel one day that he was n t 
going to work for him any more. 

"You have ruined my business, said 
the Devil, wearily. "A committee of imps 
waited upon me last night and told me that 
unless I severed my connection with you a 
permanent suspension of my interests down 
yonder would be necessitated. While I have 
been running around doing your insane er 
rands my personal business has gone to the 
dogs I would n t beat all surprised if I were 
to have to get a new plant altogether. Mean 
while my reputation has suffered ; I am no 
longer respected, and the number of my re 
cruits is daily becoming smaller. I give up, 
I can make no further sacrifice." 

123 



THE HOLY CROSS 

"Then you are prepared to forfeit your 
bond ?" asked Daniel. 

"Not by any means," replied the Devil. 
"I propose to throw the matter into the 
courts. 

That will hardly be to your interest, " said 
Daniel, "since, as you well know, we have 
recently elected honest men to the bench, 
and, as 1 recollect, most of our judges are 
members in good standing of the church we 
built some years ago! 

The Devil howled with rage. Then, pres 
ently, he began to whimper. 

" For the last time, expostulated Daniel, 
"let me remind you that sentiment does not 
enter into this affair at all. We are simply 
two business parties cooperating in a busi 
ness scheme. Our respective duties are ex 
actly defined in the bonds we hold. You 
keep your contract and I ll keep mine. Let 
me see, I still have a margin of thirteen 
years. 

The Devil groaned and writhed. 

"They call me a dude, whimpered the 
Devil. 

"Who do?" asked Daniel. 

124 



AND OTHER TALES 

"Beelzebub and the rest," said the Devil. 
"I have been trotting around doing pious 
errands so long that 1 ve lost all my sulphur- 
and-brimstone flavor, and now I smell like 
spikenard and myrrh." 

"Pooh!" said Daniel. 

" Well, I do," insisted the Devil. "You ve 
humiliated me so that I hain t got any more 
ambition. Yes, Daniel, you ve worked me 
shamefully hard ! 

" Well," said Daniel, " I have a very dis 
tinct suspicion that when, thirteen years 
hence, I fall into your hands I shall not enjoy 
what might be called a sedentary life." 

The Devil plucked up at this suggestion. 
" Indeed you shall not," he muttered. " I ll 
make it hot for you! " 

" But come, we waste time," said Daniel. 
" I am a man of business, and I cannot fritter 
away the precious moments parleying with 
you. I have important work for you. To 
morrow is Sunday; you are to see that all 
the saloons are kept closed. 

"I sha n t, I won t!" yelled the Devil. 

"But you must," said Daniel, firmly. 

"Do you really expect me to do that? " 

125 



THE HOLY CROSS AND OTHER TALES 

roared the Devil. " Do you fancy that I am 
so arrant a fool as to shut off the very feeders 
whereby my hungry hell is supplied ? That 
would be suicidal! " 

" I don t know anything about that," said 
Daniel; "I am a business man, and by this 
business arrangement of ours it is explicitly 
stipulated " 

"I don t care what the stipulations are!" 
shrieked the Devil. " I m through with you, 
and may I be consumed by my own fires if 
ever again I have anything to do with a 
business man! " 

The upshot of it all was that the Devil 
forfeited his bond, and by this act Daniel 
was released from every obligation unto the 
Devil, and one thousand and one souls were 
ransomed from the torture of the infernal 
fires. 



126 




w 



METHUSELAH 



THE discussion now going on between 
our clergymen and certain unbelievers 
touching the question of Cain and his wife 
will surely result beneficially, for it will set 
everybody to reading his Bible more dili 
gently. Still, the biography of Cain is one 
that we could never become particularly in 
terested in ; in short, of all the Old Testament 
characters none other interests us so much 
as does Methuselah, the man who lived 969 
years. Would it be possible to find in all 
history another life at once so grand and so 
pathetic ? One can get a faint idea of the aw 
ful magnitude of Methuselah s career by paus 
ing to recollect that 969 years represent 9.69 
centuries, 96 decades. 11,628 months, 50,388 
weeks, 3=53,928 days, 8,494,272 hours, 521,- 
656,320 minutes, and 36,299,879,200 sec 
onds! 

I2Q 



THE HOLY CROSS 

How came he to live so long ? Ah, that 
is easily enough explained. He loved life 
and the world, both were beautiful to him. 
And one day he spoke his wish in words. 
"Oh, that I might live a thousand years! " 
he cried. 

Then looking up straightway he beheld an 
angel, and the angel said: "Wouldst thoti 
live a thousand years? 

And Methuselah answered him, saying: 
"As the Lord is my God, I would live a 
thousand years." 

" It shall be even so," said the angel; and 
then the angel departed out of his sight. So 
Methuselah lived on and on, as the angel had 
promised. 

How sweet a treasure the young Methu 
selah must have been to his parents and to 
his doting ancestors ; with what tender solic 
itude must the old folks have watched the 
child s progress from the innocence of his 
first to the virility of his later centuries. We 
can picture the happy reunions of the old 
Adam family under the domestic vines and 
fig-trees that bloomed near the Euphrates. 
When Methuselah was a mere toddler of 

no 



AND OTHER TALES 

nineteen years, Adam was still living, and 
so was his estimable wife; the possibility 
is that the venerable couple gave young 
Methuselah a birthday party at which (we 
can easily imagine) there were present these 
following, to-wit: Adam, aged 687; Seth, 
aged 557; Enos, aged 452; Cainan, aged 
362; Mahalaleel, aged 292; Jared, aged 227; 
Enoch, aged 65, and his infant boy Methu 
selah, aged 19. Here were represented 
eight direct generations, and there were 
present, of course, the wives and daughters; 
so that, on the whole, the gathering must 
have been as numerous as it was otherwise 
remarkable. Nowhere in any of the vistas 
of history, of romance, or of mythology were 
it possible to find a spectacle more impos 
ing than that of the child Methuselah sur 
rounded by his father Enoch, his grandfather 
Jared, his great-grandfather Mahalaleel, his 
great-great-grandfather Cainan, his great- 
great-great-grandfather Enos, his great- 
great-great-great-grandfather Seth, and his 
great - great - great - great - great - grandfather 
Adam, as well as by his great-great-great- 
great-great-grandmother Eve, and her femi- 



THE HOLY CROSS 

nine posterity for (say) four centuries! How 
pretty and how kindly dear old grandma Eve 
must have looked on that gala occasion, at 
tired, as she must have been, in all the quaint 
simplicity of that primeval period; and how 
must the dear old soul have fretted through 
fear that little Methuselah would eat too 
many papaws, or drink too much goat s 
milk. It is a marvel, we think, that in spite 
of the indulgence and the petting in which 
he was reared, Methuselah grew to be a 
good, kind man. 

Profane historians agree that just about 
the time he reached the age of ninety-four 
Methuselah became deeply enamoured of a 
comely and sprightly damsel named Mizpah, 
a young thing scarce turned seventy-six. 
Up to this period of adolescence his cautious 
father Enoch had kept Methuselah out of 
all love entanglements, and it is probable 
that he would not have approved of this 
affair with Mizpah had not Jared, the boy s 
grandfather, counselled Enoch to give the 
boy a chance. But alas and alackaday for 
the instability of youthful affection ! It be 
fell in an evil time that there came over from 

133 



AND OTHER TALES 

the land of Nod a frivolous and gorgeously 
apparelled beau, who, with finely wrought 
phrases, did so fascinate the giddy Mizpah 
that incontinently she gave Methuselah the 
mitten, and went with the dashing young 
stranger of 102 as his bride. 

This shocking blow so grievously affected 
Methuselah that for some time (that is to 
say, for a period of ninety-one years) he 
shunned female society. But having recov 
ered somewhat from the bitterness of that 
great disappointment received in the callow- 
ness of his ninth decade, he finally met and 
fell in love with Adah, a young woman of 
148, and her he married. The issue of this 
union was a boy whom they named Lamech, 
and this child from the very hour of his 
birth gave his father vast worriment, which, 
considering the disparity in their ages, is 
indeed most shocking of contemplation. 
The tableau of a father (aged 187) vainly 
coddling a colicky babe certainly does not 
call for our enthusiasm. Yet we presume 
to say that Methuselah bore his trials meekly, 
that he cherished and adored the baby, and 
that he spent weeks and months playing 

133 



THE HOLY CROSS 

peek-a-boo and ride-a-cock-horse. In all 
our consideration of Methuselah we must 
remember that the mere matter of time was 
of no consequence to him. 

Lamech grew to boyhood, involving his 
father in all those ridiculous complications 
which parents nowadays do not heed so 
much, but which must have been of vast 
annoyance to a man of Methuselah s ad 
vanced age and proper notions. Whittling 
with the old gentleman s razor, hooking off 
from school, trampling down the neighbors 
rowen, tracking mud into the front parlor- 
these were some of Lamech s idiosyncrasies, 
and of course they tormented Methuselah, 
who recalled sadly that boys were no longer 
what they used to be when he was a boy 
some centuries previous. But when he got 
to be 182 years old Lamech had sowed all 
his wild oats, and it was then he married a 
clever young girl of 98, who bore him a son 
whom they called Noah. Now if Methuselah 

_/ 

had been worried and plagued by Lamech, 
he was more than compensated therefor by 
this baby grandson, whom he found to be, 
aside from all prejudices, the prettiest and 

34 



AND OTHER TALES 

the smartest child he had ever seen. Old 
father Adam, who was now turned of his 
ninth century, tottered over to see the baby, 
and he, too, allowed that it was an uncom 
monly bright child. And dear old grandma 
Eve declared that there was an expression 
about the upper part of the little Noah s face 
that reminded her very much of the soft- 
eyed boy she lost 800 years ago. And dear 
old grandma Eve used to rock little Noah 
and sing to him, and cry softly to herself all 
the while. 

Now, in good time, Noah grew to lusty 
youth, and although he was, on the whole, 
a joy to his grandsire Methuselah, he devel 
oped certain traits and predilections that oc 
casioned the old gentleman much uneasiness. 
At the tender age of 265 Noah exhibited a 
strange passion for aquatics, and while it 
was common for other boys of that time to 
divert themselves with the flocks and herds, 
with slingshots and spears, with music and 
dancing, Noah preferred to spend his hours 
floating toy-ships in the bayous of the Eu 
phrates. Every day he took his little shittim- 
wood boats down to the water, tied strings 

135 



THE HOLY CROSS 

to them, and let them float hither and thither 
on the crystal bosom of the tide. Naturally 
enough these practices worried the grand 
father mightily. 

"May not the crocodiles compass him 
round about ? " groaned Methuselah. " May 
not behemoth prevail against him ? Or, 
verily, it may befell that the waves shall de 
vour him. Woe is me and lamentation unto 
this household if destruction come to him 
through the folly of his fathers! " 

So Methuselah s age began to be full of 
care and trouble, and many a time he felt 
weary of living, and sometimes- -yes, some 
times- -he wished he were dead. People in 
those times were not afraid to die; they be 
lieved in the second and better life, because 
God spoke with them and told them it 
should be. 

The last century of this good man s so 
journ upon earth was particularly pathetic. 
His ancestors were all dead; he alone re 
mained the last living reminiscence of a time 
that but for him would have been forgotten. 
Deprived of the wise counsels of his great- 
great-great-great- great-grandfather Adam 

136 



AND OTHER TALES 

and of the gentle admonitions of his great- 
great-great-great-great-grandmother Eve, 
Methuselah felt not only lonesome but even 
in danger of wrong-doing, so precious to him 
had been the teachings of these worthy pro 
genitors. And what particularly disturbed 
Methuselah were the dreadful changes that 
had taken place in society since he was a 
boy. Dress, speech, customs, and morals 
were all different now from what they used 
to be. 

When Methuselah was a boy,- -ah, he re 
membered it well, people went hither and 
thither clad only in simple fig-leaf garb, and 
they were content therewith. 

When Methuselah was a boy, people spoke 
a plain, direct language, strong in its truth, 
its simplicity, and its honest vigor. 

When Methuselah was a boy, manners 
were open and unaffected, and morals were 
pure and healthy. 

But now all these things were changed. 
An evil called fashion had filled the minds of 
men and women with vanity. From the sin 
ful land of Nod and from other pagan coun 
tries came divers tradesmen with purples and 

137 



THE HOLY CROSS 

finens and fine feathers, whereby a wicked 
pride was engendered, and from these sinful 
countries, too, came frivolous manners that 
supplanted the guileless etiquette of the past. 

Moreover, traffic and intercourse with the 
subtle heathen had corrupted and perverted 
the speech of Adam s time: crafty phrases 
and false rhetorics had crept in, and the 
grand old Edenic idioms either were fast 
being debased or had become wholly obso 
lete. Such new-fangled words as " eftsoon," 
"albeit," " wench," "soothly," " zounds," 
" whenas," and "sithence" had stolen into 
common usage, making more direct and 
simpler speech a jest and a byword. 

Likewise had prudence given way to ex 
travagance, abstemiousness to intemperance, 
dignity to frivolity, and continence to lust; 
so that by these evils was Methuselah griev 
ously tormented, and it repented him full 
sore that he had lived to see such exceeding 
wickedness upon earth. But in the midst of 
all these follies did Methuselah maintain an 
upright and godly life, and continually did he 
bless God for that he had held him in the 
path of rectitude. 

138 



AND OTHER TALES 

Now when Methuselah was in the 964^ 
summer of his sojourn he was called upon to 
mourn the death of his son Lamech, whom 
an inscrutable Providence had cut off in 
what in those days was considered the flower 
of a man s life, namely, the eighth century 
thereof. Lamech s untimely decease was a 
severe blow to his doting father, who, forget- 
tingall his son s boyish indiscretions, remem 
bered now only Lamech s good and lovable 
traits and deeds. It is reasonable to suppose, 
however, that the old gentleman was some 
what beguiled from his grief by the lively 
dispositions and playful antics of Lamech s 
grandsons, Noah s sons, and his own great- 
grandsons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, 
who at this time had attained to the frolic 
some ages of ninety-five, ninety-two, and 
ninety-one, respectively. These boys inher 
ited from their father a violent penchant for 
aquatics, and scarcely a day passed that they 
did not paddle around the bayous and 
sloughs of the Euphrates in their gopher- 
wood canoes. 

"Gran pa," Noah used to say, "the con 
duct of those boys causes me constant vexa- 

139 



THE HOLY CROSS 

tion. I have no time to follow them around, 
and I am haunted continually by the fear 
that they will be drowned, or that the croco 
diles will get them if they don t watch out! 

But Methuselah would smiling answer: 
" Possess thy soul in patience and thy 
bowels in peace ; for verily is it not written 
boys will be boys! " 

Now Shem, Ham, and Japheth were very 
fond of their great-grandpa, and to their 
credit be it said that next to paddling over 
the water privileges of the Euphrates they 
liked nothing better than to sit in the old 
gentleman s lap, and to hear him talk about 
old times. Marvellous tales he told them, 
too; for his career of nine and a half cen 
turies had been well stocked with incident, 
as one would naturally suppose. Howbeit, 
the admiration which these callow youths 
had for Methuselah was not shared by a 
large majority of the people then on earth. 
On the contrary, we blush to admit it, Me 
thuselah was held in very trifling esteem by 
his frivolous fellow-citizens, who habitually 
referred to him as an "old way back," "a 
barnacle," an "old fogy," a "mossback," 

140 



AND OTHER TALES 

or a garrulous dotard," and with singular 
irreverence they took delight in twitting him 
upon his senility and in pestering him with 
divers new-fangled notions altogether dis 
tasteful, not to say shocking, to a gentleman 
of his years. 

It was perhaps, however, at the old set 
tlers picnics, which even then were of annual 
occurrence, that Methuselah most enjoyed 
himself; for on these occasions he was given 
the place of prominence and he was deferred 
to in everything, since he antedated all the 
others by at least three centuries. The his 
torians and the antiquarians of the time found 
him of much assistance to them in their la 
bors, since he was always ready to provide 
them with dates touching incidents of the 
remote period from which he had come 
down unscathed. He remembered vividly 
how, when he was 186 years of age, the 
Euphrates had frozen over to a depth of 
seven feet; the 2ogth winter of his existence 
he referred to as "the winter of the deep 
snow; he remembered that when he was 
a boy the women had more character than 
the women of these later years ; he had a vivid 

141 



THE HOLY CROSS 

recollection of the great plague that pre 
vailed in the city of Enoch during his fourth 
century; he could repeat, word for word, the 
address of welcome his great-great-great- 
great-great-grandfather Adam delivered to 
an excursion party that came over from the 
land of Nod one time when Methuselah was 
a mere child of eighty-seven,- -oh, yes, poor 
old Methuselah was full of reminiscence, and 
having crowded an active career into the 
brief period of 969 years, it can be imagined 
that ponderous tomes would not hold the 
tales he told whenever he was encouraged. 

One day, however, Methuselah s grandson 
Noah took the old gentleman aside and con 
fided into his ear-trumpet a very solemn 
secret which must have grieved the old gen 
tleman immensely, for he gnashed his gums 
and wrung his thin, bony hands and groaned 
dolorously. 

"The end of all flesh is at hand," said 
Noah. "The earth is filled with violence 
through them, and God will destroy them 
with the earth. I will make an ark of go 
pher-wood, the length thereof 300 cubits, 
the breadth of it 50 cubits, and the height 

142 



AND OTHER TALES 

of it 30 cubits, and I will pitch it within and 
without with pitch. Into the ark will I come, 
and my sons and my wife, and my sons 
wives, and certain living beasts shall come, 
and birds of the air, and we and they shall 
be saved. Come thou also, for thou art an 
austere man and a just. 

But as Methuselah sate alone upon his 
couch that night he thought of his life: how 
sweet it had been, how that, despite the 
evil now and then, there had been more of 
happiness than of sorrow in it. He even 
forgot the wickedness of the world and re 
membered only its good and its sunshine, 
its kindness and its love. He blessed God 
for it all, and he prayed for the death-angel 
to come to him ere he beheld the destruction 
of all he so much loved. 

Then the angel came and spread his sha 
dow about the old man. 

And the angel said : " Thy prayer is heard, 
and God doth forgive thee the score-and- 
ten years of the promised span of thy life. 

And Methuselah gathered up his feet into 
the bed, and prattling of the brooks, he fell 
asleep; and so he slept with his fathers. 

143 







f ftite an& 





FELICE AND PETIT-POULAIN 



THE name was singularly appropriate, 
for assuredly Felice was the happiest 
of all four-footed creatures. Her nature was 
gentle; she was obedient, long-suffering, 
kind. She had known what it was to toil 
and to bear burdens; sometimes she had 
suffered from hunger and from thirst; and 
before she came into the possession of Jacques 
she had been beaten, for Pierre, her former 
owner, was a hard master. But Felice was 
always a kind, faithful, and gentle creature; 
presumably that was why they named her 
that pretty name, Felice. She may not have 
been happy when Pierre owned and over 
worked and starved and beat her; that does 
not concern us now, for herein it is to tell 
of that time when she belonged to Jacques, 
and Jacques was a merciful man. 
Jacques was a farmer; he lived a short 

47 



THE HOLY CROSS 

distance from Cinqville, which, as you are 
probably aware, is a town of considerable 
importance upon what used to be the boun 
dary line between France and Germany. The 
country round about is devoted to agriculture. 
You can fancy that, with its even roads, 
leafy woods, quiet lanes, velvety paddocks, 
tall hedges, and bountiful fields, this country 
was indeed as pleasant a home as Felice - 
or, for that matter, any other properly minded 
horse could hope for. To ward the southern 
horizon there were hills that looked a grayish 
blue from a distance; upon these hills were 
vineyards, and the wine that came therefrom 
is very famous wine, as your uncle, if he 
be a club man, will very truly assure you. 
There was a pretty little river that curled 
like a silver snake through the fertile mead 
ows, and lost its way among the hills, and 
there were many tiny brooks that scampered 
across lots and got tangled up with that 
pretty little river in most bewildering fashion. 
So, as you can imagine, this was a fair coun 
try, and you do not wonder that, with so 
merciful a master as Jacques, our friend Fe 
lice was happy. 

148 



AND OTHER TALES 

But what perfected her happiness was the 
coming of her little colt, as cunning and as 
blithe a creature as ever whisked a tail or 
galloped on four legs. I do not know why 
they called him by that name, but Petit- 
Poulain was what they called him, and that 
name seemed to please Felice, for when for 
mer Jacques came thrice a day to the stile 
and cried, " Petit-Poulain, petit, petit, Petit- 
Poulain!" the kind old mother would look 
up fondly, and, with doting eyes, watch her 
dainty little colt go bounding toward his 
calling master. And he was indeed a lovely 
little fellow. The cure, the holy pere Fran- 
ois, predicted that in due time that colt 
would make a great name for himself and a 
great fortune for his owner. The holy pere 
knew whereof he spake, for in his youth he 
had tasted of the sweets of Parisian life, and 
upon one memorable occasion had success 
fully placed ten francs upon the winner of 
le grand prix. We can suppose that Felice 
thought well of the holy pere. He never 
came down the road that she did not thrust 
her nose through the hedge and give a mild 
whinny of recognition, as if she fain would 

149 



THE HOLY CROSS 

say: "Pray stop a moment and see Petit- 
Poulain and his old mother! 

What happy days those were for Felice 
and her darling colt. With what tender 
ness they played together in the paddock; 
or, when the sky was overcast and a storm 
came on, with what solicitude would the 
old mother lead the way into the thatched 
stable, where there was snug protection 
against the threatening element. There are 
those who say that none but humankind is 
immortal, that none but man has a soul. 
I do not make or believe that claim. There 
is that within me which tells me that no 
thing in this world and life of ours which 
has felt the grace of maternity shall utterly 
perish. And this I say in all reverence, and 
with the hope that I offend neither God nor 
man. 

You are to know that old Felice s devo 
tion to Petit-Poulain was human in its ten 
derness. As readily, as gladly, and as surely 
as your dear mother would lay down her 
life for you would old Felice have yielded up 
her life for her innocent, blithe darling. So 
old Felice was happy that pleasant time in 

150 



AND OTHER TALES 

that fair country, and Petit-Poulain waxed 
hale and evermore blithe and beautiful. 

Happy days, too, were those for that 
peaceful country and the other dwellers 
therein. There was no thought of evil there ; 
the seasons were propitious, the vineyards 
thrived, the crops were bountiful; as far as 
eye could see all was prosperity and con 
tentment. But one day the holy Father 
Francois came hurrying down the road, and 
it was too evident that he brought evil tid 
ings. Felice thought it very strange that he 
paid no heed to her when, as was her wont, 
she thrust her nose through the hedge and 
gave a mild whinny of welcome. Anon she 
saw that he talked long and earnestly with 
her master Jacques, and presently she saw 
that Jacques went into the cottage and came 
again therefrom with his wife Justine and 
kissed her, and then went away with Pere 
Francois toward the town off yonder. Felice 
saw that Justine was weeping, and with 
never a suspicion of impending evil, she 
wondered why Justine should weep when 
all was so prosperous and bright and fair 
and happy about her. Felice saw and won- 



THE HOLY CROSS 

dered, and meanwhile Petit-Poulain scam 
pered gayly about that velvety paddock. 

That night the vineyard hills, bathed in 
the mellow grace of moonlight, saw a sight 
they had never seen before. From the east 
an army came riding and marching on,- -an 
army of strange, determined men, speaking 
a language before unheard in that fair coun 
try and threatening things of which that 
peaceful valley had never dreamed. You 
and I, of course, know that these were the 
Germans advancing upon France, a nation 
of immortals eager to destroy the posses 
sions and the human lives of fellow-immor 
tals! But old Felice, hearing the din away 
off yonder, the unwonted noise of cavalry 
and infantry advancing with murderous in 
tent, she did not understand it all, she did 
not even suspect the truth. You cannot 
wonder, for what should a soulless beast 
know of the noble, the human privilege of 
human slaughter? Old Felice heard that 
strange din, and instinct led her to coax her 
little colt from the pleasant paddock into 
that snug and secure retreat, the thatched 
stable, and there, in the early morning, they 

152 



AND OTHER TALES 

found her, Petit-Poulain pulling eagerly at 
her generous dugs. 

Those who came riding up were strangers 
in those parts; they were ominously ac 
coutred and they spoke words that old Felice 
had never heard before. Yes, as you have 
already guessed, they were German cavalry 
men. A battle was impending, and they 
needed more horses. 

"Old enough; but in lieu of a better, she 
will do. That was what they said. They 
approached her carefully, for they suspected 
that she might be vicious. Poor old Felice, 
she had never harmed even the flies that 
pestered her. "They are going to put me 
at the plough," she thought. "It is a long 
time since I did work of any kind, nothing, 
in fact, since Petit-Poulain was born. Poor 
Petit-Poulain will miss me; but I will soon 
return." With these thoughts she turned 
her head fondly and caressed her pretty 
colt. 

"The colt must be tied in the stall or he 
will follow her." So said the cavalrymen. 
They threw a rope about his neck and made 
him fast in the stable. Petit-Poulain was 

53 



THE HOLY CROSS 

very much surprised, and he remonstrated 
vainly with his fierce little heels. 

They put a halter upon old Felice. Jus 
tine, the farmer s wife, met them in the yard, 
and reproached them wildly in French. 
They laughed boisterously, and answered 
her in German. Then they rode away, lead 
ing old Felice, who kept turning her head 
and whinnying pathetically, for she was 
thinking of Petit-Poulain. 

Of peace I know and can speak, of 
peace, with its solace of love, plenty, honor, 
fame, happiness, and its pathetic tragedy of 
poverty, heartache, disappointment, tears, 
bereavement. Of war 1 know nothing, and 
never shall know; it is not in my heart or 
for my hand to break that law which God 
enjoined from Sinai and Christ confirmed in 
Galilee. I do not know of war, nor can I 
tell you of that battle which men with im 
mortal souls fought one glorious day in a 
fertile country with vineyard hills all round 
about. But when night fell there was deso 
lation everywhere and death. The Eden 
was a wilderness; the winding river was 
choked with mangled corpses; shell and 

154 



AND OTHER TALES 

shot had mowed down the acres of waving 
grain, the exuberant orchards, the gardens 
and the hedgerows; black, charred ruins, 
gaunt and ghostlike, marked the spots where 
homes had stood. The vines had been cut 
and torn away, and the despoiled hills 
seemed to crouch down like bereaved mo 
thers under the pitiless gaze of the myriad 
eyes of heaven. 

The victors went their way; a greater 
triumph was in store for them; a mighty 
capital was to be besieged; more homes 
were to be desolated, more blood shed, 
more hearts broken. So the victors went 
their way, their hands red and their immor 
tal souls elated. 

In the early dawn a horse came galloping 
homeward. It is Felice, old Felice, rider 
less, splashed with mud, wild-eyed, sore 
with fatigue! Felice, Felice, what horrors 
hast thou not seen! If thou couldst speak, 
if that tongue of thine could be loosed, what 
would it say of those who, forgetful of their 
souls, sink lower than the soulless brutes! 
Better it is thou canst not speak; the an 
guish in thine eyes, the despair in thy honest 

155 



THE HOLY CROSS 

heart, the fear, the awful fear in thy mother 
breast, what tongue could utter them ? 

Adown the road she galloped, the same 
road she had traversed, perhaps, a thousand 
times before, yet it was so changed now 
she hardly knew it. Twenty-four hours 
had ruthlessly levelled the noble trees, the 
hedgerows, and the fields of grain. Twenty- 
four hours of battle had done all this and 
more. In all those ghastly hours, one thought 
had haunted Felice; one thought alone, 
the thought of Petit-Poulain ! She pictured 
him tied jn that far-away stall, wondering 
why she did not come. He was hungry, 
she knew; her dugs were full of milk and 
they pained her; how sweet would be her 
relief when her Petit-Poulain broke his long 
fast. Petit-Poulain, Petit-Poulain, Petit-Pou 
lain, this one thought and this alone had 
old Felice throughout those hours of battle 
and of horror. 

Could this have been the farm-house ? It 
was a ruin now. Shells had torn it apart. 
Where was the good master Jacques; had 
he gone with the cure to the defence of the 
town? And Justine, where was she? 

.56 



AND OTHER TALES 

Bullets had cut away the rose-trees and 
the smoke-bush; the garden was no more. 
The havoc, the desolation, was complete. The 
cote, which had surmounted the pole around 
which an ivy twined, had been swept away. 
The pigeons now circled here and there be 
wildered; wondering, perhaps, why Justine 
did not come and call to them and feed them. 

To this seared, scarred spot came old 
Felice. He that had ridden her into battle 
lay with his face downward near those dis 
tant vineyard hills. His blood had stained 
Felice s neck; a bullet had grazed her flank, 
but that was a slight wound, riderless, she 
turned and came from the battle-field and 
sought her Petit-Poulain once again. 

Hard by the ruins of cottage, of garden, 
and of cote, she came up standing; she was 
steaming and breathless. She rolled her 
eyes wildly around, she looked for the 
stable where she had left Petit-Poulain. She 
trembled as if an overwhelming apprehen 
sion of disaster suddenly possessed her. 
She gave a whinny, pathetic in its tender 
ness. She was calling Petit-Poulain. But 
there was no answer. 



THE HOLY CROSS AND OTHER TALES 

Petit-Poulain lay dead in the ruins of the 
stable. His shelter had not escaped the fury 
of the battle. He could not run away, for 
they had tied him fast when they carried his 
old mother off. So now he lay amid that 
debris, his eyes half open in death and his 
legs stretched out stark and stiff. 

And old Felice, her udder bursting with 
the maternal grace he never again should 
know, and her heart breaking with the agony 
of sudden and awful bereavement, she 
staggered, as if blinded by despair, toward 
that vestige of her love, and bent over him 
and caressed her Petit-Poulain. 



158 




fttoer 



THE RIVER 



ONCE upon a time a little boy came, dur 
ing his play, to the bank of a river. 
The waters of the river were very dark and 
wild, and there was so black a cloud over 
the river that the little boy could not see the 
further shore. An icy wind came up from 
the cloud and chilled the little boy, and he 
trembled with cold and fear as the wind smote 
his cheeks and ran its slender icicle fingers 
through his yellow curls. An old man sat 
on the bank of the river; he was very, very 
old; his head and shoulders were covered 
with a black mantle ; and his beard was white 
as snow. 

"Will you come with me, little boy?" 
asked the old man. 

"Where ?" inquired the little boy. 

161 



THE HOLY CROSS 

" To yonder shore," replied the old man. 

Oh, no ; not to that dark shore, " said the 
little boy. " I should be afraid to go." 

" But think of the sunlight always there, " 
said the old man, "the birds and flowers; 
and remember there is no pain, nor anything 
of that kind to vex you." 

The little boy looked and saw the dark 
cloud hanging over the waters, and he felt 
the cold wind come up from the river; more 
over, the sight of the strange man terrified 
him. So, hearing his mother calling him, 
the little boy ran back to his home, leaving 
the old man by the river alone. 

Many years after that time the little boy 
came again to the river; but he was not a 
little boy now, he was a big, strong man. 

"The river is the same," said he; "the 
wind is the same cold, cutting wind of ice, 
and the same black cloud obscures yonder 
shore. I wonder where the strange old man 
can be." 

"I am he," said a solemn voice. 

The man turned and looked on him who 
spoke, and he saw a warrior clad in black 
armor and wielding an iron sword. 

162 



AND OTHER TALES 

"No, you are not he!" cried the man. 
" You are a warrior come to do me harm. 

"I am indeed a warrior," said the other. 
"Come with me across the river." 

"No, "replied the man, " I will notgo with 
you. Hark, I hear the voices of my wife 
and children calling to me, I will return 
to them!" 

The warrior strove to hold him fast and 
bear him across the river to the yonder shore, 
but the man prevailed against him and re 
turned to his wife and little ones, and the 
warrior was left upon the river-bank. 

Then many years went by and the strong 
man became old and feeble. He found no 
pleasure in the world, for he was weary of 
living. His wife and children were dead, and 
the old man was alone. So one day in those 
years he came to the bank of the river for the 
third time, and he saw that the v/aters had 
become quiet and that the wind which came 
up from the river was warm and gentle and 
smelled of flowers; there was no dark cloud 
overhanging the yonder shore, but in its 
place was a golden mist through which the 
old man could see people walking on the 

163 



THE HOLY CROSS AND OTHER TALES 

yonder shore and stretching out their hands 
to him, and he could hear them calling him 
by name. Then he knew they were the 
voices of his dear ones. 

"I am weary and lonesome/ cried the 
old man. All have gone before me : father, 
mother, wife, children, all whom I have 
loved. I see them and hear them on yonder 
shore, but who will bear me to them ? 

Then a spirit came in answer to this cry. 
But the spirit was not a strange old man nor 
yet an armored warrior; but as he came to 
the river s bank that day he was a gentle an 
gel, clad in white; his face was very beauti 
ful, and there was divine tenderness in his 
eyes. 

"Rest thy head upon my bosom," said 
the angel, "and I will bear thee across the 
river to those who call thee." 

So, with the sweet peace of a little child 
sinking to his slumbers, the old man drooped 
in the arms of the angel and was borne across 
the river to those who stood upon the yon 
der shore and called. 



164 



FRANZ ABT 



MANY years ago a young composer was 
sitting in a garden. All around bloomed 
beautiful roses, and through the gentle even 
ing air the swallows flitted, twittering 
cheerily. The young composer neither saw 
the roses nor heard the evening music of the 
swallows; his heart was full of sadness and 
his eyes were bent wearily upon the earth 
before him. 

" Why," said the young composer, with a 
sigh, " should I be doomed to all this bitter 
disappointment ? Learning seems vain, pa 
tience is mocked,- -fame is as far from me 
as ever. 

The roses heard his complaint. They 
bent closer to him and whispered, Listen 
to us,- -listen to us. And the swallows 
heard him, too, and they flitted nearer him; 
and they, too, twittered, " Listen to us, 
listen to us. But the young composer was 

167 



THE HOLY CROSS 

in no mood to be beguiled by the whisper 
ings of the roses and the twitterings of the 
birds; with a heavy heart and sighing bit 
terly he arose and went his way. 

It came to pass that many times after that 
the young composer came at evening and 
sat in the garden where the roses bloomed 
and the swallows twittered; his heart was 
always full of disappointment, and often he 
cried out in anguish against the cruelty of 
fame that it came not to him. And each 
time the roses bent closer to him, and the 
swallows flew lower, and there in the garden 
the sweet flowers and little birds cried, 
"Listen to us, listen to us, and we will 
help you." 

And one evening the young composer, 
hearing their gentle pleadings, smiled sadly, 
and said : "Yes, I will listen to you. What 
have you to say, pretty roses ? 

"Make your songs of us, whispered the 
roses, "make your songs of us." 

"Ha, ha!" laughed the composer. "A 
song of the roses would be very strange, in 
deed! No, sweet flowers,- -it is fame I 
seek, and fame would scorn even the beauty 

1 68 



AND OTHER TALES 

of your blushes and the subtlety of your 
perfumes." 

"You are wrong," twittered the swal 
lows, flying lower. "You are wrong, fool 
ish man. Make a song for the heart, make 
a song of the swallows and the roses, and 
it will be sung forever, and your fame shall 
never die." 

But the composer laughed louder than be 
fore; surely there never had been a stranger 
suggestion than that of the roses and the 
swallows! Still, in his chamber that night 
the composer thought of what the swallows 
had said, and in his dreams he seemed to 
hear the soft tones of the roses pleading 
with him. Yes, many times thereafter the 
composer recalled what the birds and flowers 
had said, but he never would ask them as 
he sat in the garden at evening how he could 
make the heart-song of which they chat 
tered. And the summer sped swiftly by, 
and one evening when the composer came 
into the garden the roses were dead, and 
their leaves lay scattered on the ground. 
There were no swallows fluttering in the 
sky, and the nests under the eaves were 

169 



THE HOLY CROSS 

deserted. Then the composer knew his 
little friends were beyond recall, and he was 
oppressed by a feeling of loneliness. The 
roses and the swallows had grown to be a 
solace to the composer, had stolen into his 
heart all unawares, now that they were 
gone, he was filled with sadness. 

"I will do as they counselled," said he; 
"I will make a song of them, a song of 
the swallows and the roses. I will forget 
my greed for fame while I write in memory 
of my little friends." 

Then the composer made a song of the 
swallows and the roses, and, while he wrote, 
it seemed to him that he could hear the twit 
tering of the little birds all around him, and 
scent the fragrance of the flowers, and his soul 
was warmed with a warmth he had never felt 
before, and his tears fell upon his manuscript. 

When the world heard the song which the 
composer had made of the swallows and the 
roses, it did homage to his genius. Such 
sentiment, such delicacy, such simplicity, 
such melody, such heart, such soul, ah, 
there was no word of rapturous praise too 
good for the composer now : fame, the sweet- 

170 



AND OTHER TALES 

est and most enduring kind of fame, had 
come to him. 

And the swallows and the roses had done 
it all. Their subtle influences had filled the 
composer s soul with a great inspiration, - 
by means like this God loves to speak to the 
human heart. 

" We told you so," whispered the roses 
when they came again in the spring. " We 
told you that if you sang of us the world 
would love your song. 

Then the swallows, flying back from the 
south, twittered: "We told you so; sing 
the songs the heart loves, and you shall live 
forever." 

"Ah, dear ones," said the composer, 
softly ; you spoke the truth. He who seeks 
a fame that is immortal has only to reach 
and abide in the human heart. 

The lesson he learned of the swallows and 
the roses he never forgot. It was the inspira 
tion and motive of a long and beautiful life. 
He left for others that which some called 
a loftier ambition. He was content to sit 
among the flowers and hear the twitter of 
birds and make songs that found an echo in 

171 



THE HOLY CROSS AND OTHER TALES 

all breasts. Ah, there was such a beautiful 
simplicity, such a sweet wisdom in his life ! 
And where er the swallows flew, and where er 
the roses bloomed, he was famed and re 
vered and beloved, and his songs were sung. 

Then his hair grew white at last, and his 
eyes were dim and his steps were slow. A 
mortal illness came upon him, and he knew 
that death was nigh. 

The winter has been long," said he, 
wearily. " Open the window and raise me 
up that I may see the garden, for it must be 
that spring is come." 

It was indeed spring, but the roses had not 
yet bloomed. The swallows were chattering 
in their nests under the eaves or flitting in the 
mild, warm sky. 

"Hear them," he said faintly. "How 
sweetly they sing. But alas! where are the 
roses ?" 

Where are the roses ? Heaped over thee, 
dear singing heart; blooming on thy quiet 
grave in the Fatherland, and clustered and 
entwined all in and about thy memory, which 
with thy songs shall go down from heart to 
heart to immortality. 

172 



# 



MISTRESS MERCILESS 



THIS is to tell of our little Mistress Mer 
ciless, who for a season abided with us, 
but is now and forever gone from us unto 
the far-off land of Ever-Plaisance. The tale 
is soon told; for it were not seemly to speak 
all the things that are in one s heart when 
one hath to say of a much-beloved child, 
whose life here hath been shortened so that, 
in God s wisdom and kindness, her life shall 
be longer in that garden that bloometh for 
away. 

You shall know that all did call her Mis 
tress Merciless; but her mercilessness was of 
a sweet, persuasive kind : for with the beauty 
of her face and the music of her voice and 
the exceeding sweetness of her virtues was 
she wont to slay all hearts; and this she did 
unwittingly, for she was a little child. And 
so it was in love that we did call her Mistress 

175 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Merciless, just as it was in love that she did 
lord it over all our hearts. 

Upon a time walked she in a full fair gar 
den, and there went with her an handmaiden 
that we did call in merry wise the Queen of 
Sheba; for this handmaiden was in sooth 
no queen at all, but a sorry and ill-favored 
wench; but she was assotted upon our little 
Mistress Merciless and served her diligently, 
and for that good reason was vastly beholden 
of us all. Yet, in a jest, we called her the 
Queen of Sheba; and I make a venture that 
she looked exceeding fair in the eyes of our 
little Mistress Merciless: for the eyes of chil 
dren look not upon the faces but into the 
hearts and souls of others. Whilst these 
two walked in the full fair garden at that 
time they came presently unto an arbor 
wherein there was a rustic seat, which was 
called the Siege of Restfulness; and here 
upon sate a little sick boy that, from his 
birth, had been lame, so that he could not 
play and make merry with other children, 
but was wont to come every day into this 
full fair garden and content himself with the 
companionship of the flowers. And, though 

176 



AND OTHER TALES 

he was a little lame boy, he never trod upon 
those flowers; and even had he done so, 
methinks the pressure of those crippled feet 
had been a caress, for the little lame boy 
was filled with the spirit of love and ten 
derness. As the tiniest, whitest, shrinking 
flower exhaleth the most precious perfume, 
so in and from this little lame boy s life 
there came a grace that was hallowing in 
its beauty. 

Since they never before had seen him, 
they asked him his name; and he answered 
them that of those at home he was called 
Master Sweetheart, a name he could not un 
derstand : for surely, being a cripple, he must 
be a very sorry sweetheart; yet, that he was 
a sweetheart unto his mother at least he had 
no doubt, for she did love to hold him in her 
lap and call him by that name; and many 
times when she did so he saw that tears were 
in her eyes, a proof, she told him when 
he asked, that Master Sweetheart was her 
sweetheart before all others upon earth. 

It befell that our little Mistress Merciless 
and Master Sweetheart became fast friends, 
and the Queen of Sheba was handmaiden to 

177 



THE HOLY CROSS 

them both; for the simple, loyal creature 
had not a mind above the artless prattle of 
childhood, and the strange allegory of the 
lame boy s speech filled her with awe, even 
as the innocent lisping of our little Mistress 
Merciless delighted her heart and came with 
in the comprehension of her limited under 
standing. So each day, when it was fair, 
these three came into the full fair garden, and 
rambled there together; and when they were 
weary they entered into the arbor and sate 
together upon the Siege of Restfulness. Wit 
ye well there was not a flower or a tree or a 
shrub or a bird in all that full fair garden 
which they did not know and love, and in 
very sooth every flower and tree and shrub 
and bird therein did know and love them. 

When they entered into the arbor, and 
sate together upon the Siege of Restfulness, 
it was Master Sweetheart s wont to tell them 
of the land of Ever-Plaisance, for it was a 
conceit of his that he journeyed each day 
nearer and nearer to that land, and that his 
journey thitherward was nearly done. How 
came he to know of that land I cannot say, 
for I do not know; but I am fain to believe 

178 



AND OTHER TALES 

that, as he said, the exceeding fair angels 
told him thereof when by night, as he lay 
sleeping, they came singing and with ca 
resses to his bedside. 

1 speak now of a holy thing, therefore I 
speak truth when I say that while little chil 
dren lie sleeping in their beds at night it 
pleaseth God to send His exceeding fair an 
gels with singing and caresses to bear mes 
sages of His love unto those little sleeping 
children. And I have seen those exceeding 
fair angels bend with folded wings over the 
little cradles and the little beds, and kiss 
those little sleeping children and whisper 
God s messages of love to them, and I knew 
that those messages were full of sweet tid 
ings; for, even though they slept, the little 
children smiled. This have I seen, and there 
is none who loveth little children that will 
deny the truth of this thing which I have now 
solemnly declared. 

Of that land of Ever-Plaisance was our 
little Mistress Merciless ever fain to hear tell. 
But when she beset the rest of us to speak 
thereof we knew not what to say other than 
to confirm such reports as Master Sweet- 

179 



THE HOLY CROSS 

heart had already made. For when it com- 
eth to knowing of that far-off land, ah me, 
who knoweth more than the veriest little 
child? And oftentimes within the bosom 
of a little, helpless, fading one there bloom- 
eth a wisdom which sages cannot compre 
hend. So when she asked us we were wont 
to bid her go to Master Sweetheart, for he 
knew the truth and spake it. 

It is now to tell of an adventure which on 
a time befell in that full fair garden of which 
you have heard me speak. In this garden 
lived many birds of surpassing beauty and 
most rapturous song, and among them was 
one that they called Joyous, for that he did 
ever carol forth so joyously, it mattered not 
what the day soever might be. This bird 
Joyous had his home in the top of an ex 
ceeding high tree, hard by the pleasant arbor, 
and here did he use to sit at such times as 
the little people came into that arbor, and 
then would he sing to them such songs as 
befitted that quiet spot, and them that came 
thereto. But there was a full evil cat that 
dwelt near by, and this cruel beast found no 
pleasure in the music that Joyous did make 

180 



AND OTHER TALES 

continually; nay, that music filled this full 
evil cat with a wicked thirst for the blood of 
that singing innocent, and she had no peace 
for the malice that was within her seeking to 
devise a means whereby she might compre 
hend the bird Joyous to her murderous in 
tent. Now you must know that it was the 
wont of our little Mistress Merciless and of 
Master Sweetheart to feed the birds in that 
fair garden with such crumbs as they were 
suffered to bring with them into the arbor, 
and at such times would those birds fly 
down with grateful twitterings and eat of 
those crumbs upon the greensward round 
about the arbor. Wit ye well, it was a 
merry sight to see those twittering birds 
making feast upon the good things which 
those children brought, and our little Mis 
tress Merciless and little Master Sweetheart 
had sweet satisfaction therein. But, on a 
day, whilst thus those twittering birds made 
great feasting, lo! on a sudden did that 
full evil cat whereof I have spoken steal 
softly from a thicket, and with one hideous 
bound make her way into the very midst 
of those birds and seize upon that bird 

181 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Joyous, that was wont to sing so merrily 
from the tree hard by the arbor. Oh, there 
was a mighty din and a fearful fluttering, 
and the rest flew swiftly away, but Joyous 
could not do so, because the full evil cat 
held him in her cruel fangs and claws. And 
I make no doubt that Joyous would speedily 
have met his death, but that with a wrathful 
cry did our little Mistress Merciless hasten 
to his rescue. And our little Mistress be 
labored that full evil cat with Master Sweet 
heart s crutch, until that cruel beast let loose 
her hold upon the fluttering bird and was 
full glad to escape with her aching bones 
into the thicket again. So it was that Joy 
ous was recovered from death; but even 
then might it have fared ill with him, had 
they nottaken him up and dressed his wounds 
and cared for him until duly he was well 
again. And then they released him to do 
his plaisance, and he returned to his home 
in the tree hard by the arbor and there he 
sung unto those children more sweetly than 
ever before ; for his heart was full of gratitude 
to our little Mistress Merciless and Master 
Sweetheart. 

182 



AND OTHER TALES 

Now, of the dolls that she had in goodly 
number, that one which was named Beautiful 
did our little Mistress Merciless love best. 
Know well that the doll Beautiful had come 
not from oversea, and was neither of wax nor 
of china; but she was right ingeniously con 
structed of a bed-key that was made of 
wood, and unto the top of this bed-key had 
the Queen of Sheba superadded a head with 
a fair face, and upon the body and the arms 
of the key had she hung passing noble rai 
ment. Unto this doll Beautiful was our lit 
tle Mistress Merciless vastly beholden, and 
she did use to have the doll Beautiful lie 
by her side at night whilst she slept, and 
whithersoever during the day she went, there 
also would she take the doll Beautiful, too. 
Much sorrow and lamentation, therefore, 
made our little Mistress Merciless when on 
an evil day the doll Beautiful by chance fell 
into the fish-pond, and was not rescued there 
from until one of her beauteous eyes had 
been devoured of the envious water; so that 
ever thereafter the doll Beautiful had but 
one eye, and that, forsooth, was grievously 
faded. And on another evil day came a 

183 



THE HOLY CROSS 

monster ribald dog pup and seized upon 
the doll Beautiful whilst she reposed in the ar 
bor, and bore her away, and romped boister 
ously with her upon the sward, and tore off 
her black-thread hair, and sought to destroy 
her wholly, which surely he would have 
done but for the Queen of Sheba, who made 
haste to rescue the doll Beautiful, and chas 
tise that monster ribald dog pup. 

Therefore, as you can understand, the 
time was right busily spent. The full fair 
garden, with its flowers and the singing 
birds and the gracious arbor and the Siege 
of Restfuiness, found favor with those chil 
dren, and amid these joyous scenes did 
Master Sweetheart have to tell each day of 
that far-off land of Ever-Plaisance, whither 
he said he was going. And one day, when 
the sun shone very bright, and the full fair 
garden joyed in the music of those birds, 
Master Sweetheart did not come, and they 
missed the little lame boy and wondered 
where he was. And as he never came 
again they thought at last that of a surety 
he had departed into that country whereof 
he loved to tell. Which thing filled our lit- 

184 



AND OTHER TALES 

tie Mistress Merciless with wonder and in 
quiry; and I think she was lonely ever after 
that, lonely for Master Sweetheart. 

I am thinking now of her and of him; 
for this is the Christmas season, the time 
when it is most meet to think of the children 
and other sweet and holy things. There 
is snow everywhere, snow and cold. The 
garden is desolate and voiceless: the flowers 
are gone, the trees are ghosts, the birds have 
departed. It is winter out there, and it is 
winter, too, in this heart of mine. Yet in 
this Christmas season I think of them, and 
it pleaseth me God forbid that I offend 
with much speaking it pleaseth me to tell 
of the little things they did and loved. And 
you shall understand it all if, perchance, 
this sacred Christmas time a little Mistress 
Merciless of your own, or a little Master 
Sweetheart, clingeth to your knee and sanc- 
tifieth your hearthstone. 

When of an evening all the joy of day was 
done, would our little Mistress Merciless 
fall aweary; and then her eyelids would 
grow exceeding heavy and her little tired 
hands were fain to fold. At such a time it 

185 



THE HOLY CROSS 

was my wont to beguile her weariness with 
little tales of faery, or with the gentle play 
that sleepy children like. Much was her 
fancy taken with what I told her of the 
train that every night whirleth away to 
Shut-Eye Town, bearing unto that beauteous 
country sleepy little girls and boys. Nor 
would she be content until I told her there 
of, yes, every night whilst I robed her in 
her cap and gown would she demand of me 
that tale of Shut-Eye Town, and the won 
derful train that was to bear her thither. 
Then would I say in this wise: 

At Bedtime-ville there is a train of cars that waiteth 
for you, my sweet,- -for you and for other little ones 
that would go to quiet, slumbrous Shut-Eye Town. 

But make no haste; there is room for all. Each hath 
a tiny car that is snug and warm, and when the train 
starteth each car swingeth soothingly this way and that 
way, this way and that way, through all the journey of 
the night. 

Your little gown is white and soft; your little cap will 
hold those pretty curls so fast that they cannot get 
away. Here is a curl that peepeth out to see what is 
going to happen. Hush, little curl! make no noise; 
we will let you peep out at the wonderful sights, but 
you must not tell the others about it; let them sleep, 
snuggled close together. 

1 86 



AND OTHER TALES 

The locomotive is ready to start. Can you not 
hear it ? 

11 Snug-chug! Snug-chug! Shug-chug! That is what 
the locomotive is saying, all to itself. It knoweth how 
pleasant a journey it is about to make. 

"Shug-chug! Shug-chug! Snug-chug! 

Oh, many a time hath it proudly swept over prairie 
and hill, over river and plain, through sleeping gardens 
and drowsy cities, swiftly and quietly, bearing the little 
ones to the far, pleasant valley where lieth Shut-Eye 
Town. 

"Shug-chug! Shug-chug! Shug-chug! 

So sayeth the locomotive to itself at the station in 
Bedtime- ville; for it knoweth how fair and far a journey 
is before it. 

Then a bell soundeth. Surely my little one heareth 
the bell! 

" Ting-long! Ting-a-long! Ting-long!" 

So soundeth the bell, and it seemeth to invite you to 
sleep and dreams. 

" Ting-long! Ting-a-long! Ting-long!" 

How sweetly ringeth and calleth that bell. 

" To sleep to dreams, O little lambs! it seemeth 
to call. " Nestle down close, fold your hands, and 
shut your dear eyes! We are off and away to Shut-Eye 
Town! Ting-long! Ting-a-long! Ting-long! To sleep 
to dreams, O little cosset lambs! 

And now the conductor calleth out in turn. " All 
aboard! " he calleth, " All aboard for Shut-Eye Town! " 
he calleth in a kindly tone. 

But, hark ye, dear-my-soul, make thou no haste; 



THE HOLY CROSS 

there is room for all. Here is a cosey little car for you. 
How like your cradle it is, for it is snug and warm, and 
it rocketh this way and that way, this way and that way, 
all night long, and its pillows caress you tenderly. So step 
into the pretty nest, and in it speed to Shut-Eye Town. 

"Toot! Toot!" 

That is the whistle. It soundeth twice, but it must 
sound again before the train can start. Now you have 
nestled down, and your dear hands are folded; let your 
two eyes be folded, too, my sweet; for in a moment 
you shall be rocked away, and away, away into the 
golden mists of Balow! 

"Ting-long! Ting-a-long! Ting-long! 

"All aboard!" 

"Toot! Toot! Toot!" 

And so my little golden apple is off and away for 
Shut-Eye Town! 

Slowly moveth the train, yet faster by degrees. Your 
hands are folded, my beloved, and your dear eyes they 
are closed; and yet you see the beauteous sights that 
skirt the journey through the mists of Balow. And it is 
rockaway, rockaway, rockaway, that your speeding 
cradle goes, rockaway, rockaway, rockaway, through 
the golden glories that lie in the path that leadeth to 
Shut-Eye Town. 

"Toot! Toot!" 

So crieth the whistle, and it is "down-brakes," for 
here we are at Ginkville, and every little one knoweth 
that pleasant waking-place, where mother with her 
gentle hands holdeth the gracious cup to her sleepy 
darling s lips. 

1 88 



AND OTHER TALES 

"Ting-long! Ting-a-long! Ting-long! and off is 
the train again. And swifter and swifter it speedeth, 
oh, I am sure no other train speedeth half so swiftly! 
The sights my dear one sees! I cannot tell of them 
one must see those beauteous sights to know how won 
derful they are! 

"Shiig-chug! Shug-chug! Shug-chug! : 
On and on and on the locomotive proudly whirleth 
the train. 

"Ting-long! Ting-a-long! Ting-long ! : 
The bell calleth anon, but fainter and evermore 
fainter; and fainter and fainter groweth that other call 
ing "Toot! Toot! Toot!" till finally I know that 
in that Shut-Eye Town afar my dear one dreameth 
the dreams of Balow. 



This was the bedtime tale which I was 
wont to tell our little Mistress Merciless, and 
at its end I looked upon her face to see it 
calm and beautiful in sleep. 

Then was I wont to kneel beside her little 
bed and fold my two hands, thus, and 
let my heart call to the host invisible: "O 
guardian angels of this little child, hold her 
in thy keeping from all the perils of dark 
ness and the night! O sovereign Shepherd, 
cherish Thy little lamb and mine, and, Holy 
Mother, fold her to thy bosom and thy love! 



THE HOLY CROSS 

But give her back to me,- -when morning 
cometh, restore ye unto me my little one!" 

But once she came not back. She had 
spoken much of Master Sweetheart and of 
that land of Ever-Plaisance whither he had 
gone. And she was not afeared to make 
the journey alone ; so once upon a time 
when our little Mistress Merciless bade us 
good-by, and went away forever, we knew 
that it were better so; for she was lonely 
here, and without her that far-distant coun 
try whither she journeyed were not content. 
Though our hearts were like to break for 
love of her, we knew that it were better so. 

The tale is told, for it were not seemly to 
speak all the things that are in one s heart 
when one hath to say of a much-beloved 
child whose life here hath been shortened so 
that, in God s wisdom and kindness, her life 
shall be longer in that garden that bloometh 
far away. 

About me are scattered the toys she loved, 
and the doll Beautiful hath come down all 
battered and grim, yet, oh! so very pre 
cious to me, from those distant years; yon 
der fareth the Queen of Sheba in her service 

190 



AND OTHER TALES 

as handmaiden unto me and mine, gaunt 
and doleful-eyed, yet stanch and sturdy as 
of old. The garden lieth under the Christ 
mas snow, the garden where ghosts of 
trees wave their arms and moan over the 
graves of flowers; the once gracious arbor 
is crippled now with the infirmities of age, 
the Siege of Restfulness fast sinketh into 
decay, and long, oh! long ago did that bird 
Joyous carol forth his last sweet song in the 
garden that was once so passing fair. 

And amid it all, this heartache and the 
loneliness which the years have brought, 
cometh my Christmas gift to-day : the solace 
of a vision of that country whither she 
our little Mistress Merciless hath gone; a 
glimpse of that far-off land of Ever-Plaisance. 



191 



f)c potontc 



THE PLATONIC BASSOON 



A,L who knew the beautiful and accom 
plished Aurora wondered why she did 
not marry. She had now reached the ma 
ture age of twenty-five years, and was in 
full possession of those charms which are 
estimated by all men as the choicest gifts a 
woman can possess. You must know that 
Aurora had a queenly person, delightful 
manners, an extensive education, and an 
amiable disposition; and, being the only 
child of wealthy parents, she should not 
have lacked the one thing that seemed nec 
essary to perfect and round out her useful 
ness as a member of society. 

The truth was, Aurora did not fancy the 
male sex. She regarded men as conveniences 
that might come handy at times when an 
escort to the theatre was required, or when 

195 



THE HOLY CR.OSS 

a partner in a dance was demanded, when 
a fan was to be picked up, or when an er 
rand was to be run ; but the idea of marry 
ing any man was as distasteful to Aurora as 
the proposition to marry a hat-rack or any 
other piece of household furniture would 
have been. 

The secret of this strange aversion might 
have been traced to Aurora s maiden aunt 
Eliza, who had directed Aurora s education, 
and had from her niece s early youth in 
stilled into Aurora s mind very distinct no 
tions touching the masculine sex. 

Aurora had numerous admirers among the 
young gentlemen who moved in the same 
elevated social circle as herself and fre 
quently called at her father s house. Any 
one of them would gladly have made her 
his wife, and many of them had expressed 
a tender yearning for her life companionship. 
But Aurora was quick to recognize in each 
suitor some objectionable trait or habit or 
feature which her aunt Eliza had told about, 
and which imperatively prohibited a con 
tinuance of the young gentleman s attentions. 

Aurora s father could not understand why 

196 



AND OTHER TALES 

his daughter was so hypercritical and fas 
tidious in a matter which others of her sex 
were so apt to accept with charitable eyes. 
They are bright, honest fellows, " he urged, 
"worthy of any girl s love. Receive their 
advances kindly, my child, and having 
chosen one among them, you will be the 
happier for it." 

"Never mind, Aurora," said Aunt Eliza. 
" Men are all alike. They show their mean 
ness in different ways, but the same spirit 
of evil is in em all. I have lived in this 
world forty-six years, and during that time 
I have found men to be the most unfeeling 
and most untrustworthy of brutes. 

So it was that at the age of twenty-five 
Aurora was found beautiful, amiable, and 
accomplished, but thoroughly and hope 
lessly a man-hater. And it was about this 
time that she became involved in that un 
happy affair which even to this day is talked 
of by those who knew her then. 

On the evening of a certain day Aurora 
attended the opera with her father and mo 
ther and Morgan Magnus, the young banker. 
Their box at the opera was so close to the 

197 



THE HOLY CROSS . 

orchestra that by reaching out her hand Au 
rora could have touched several of the in 
struments. Now it happened that a bas 
soon was the instrument nearest the box 
in which Aurora sat, and it was natural 
therefore that the bassoon attracted more 
of Aurora s attention than any other instru 
ment in the orchestra. If you have never 
beheld or heard a bassoon you are to un 
derstand that it is an instrument of wood, 
of considerable more length than breadth, 
provided with numerous stops and keys, 
and capable of producing an infinite variety 
of tones, ranging from the depth of lugu- 
briousness to the highest pitch of vivacity. 
This particular bassoon was of an appear 
ance that bordered upon the somber, the 
polished white of his keys emphasizing the 
solemn black of his long, willowy body. 
And, as he loomed up above the serene bald 
head of the musician that played him, Au 
rora thought she had never seen a more 
distingue object. 

The opera was "II Trovatore," a work 
well calculated to call in play all that peculiar 
pathos of which the bassoon is capable. 

198 



AND OTHER TALES 

When Aurora saw the player raise the bas 
soon and apply the tiny tube thereunto ap 
pertaining to his lips, and heard him evoke 
from the innermost recesses of the bassoon 
tones that were fairly reeking with tears and 
redolent of melancholy, she felt a curious 
sentiment of pity awakened in her bosom. 

Aurora had seen many an agonized swain 
at her feet, and had heard his impassioned 
pleadings for mercy ; she had perused many 
a love missive wherein her pity was elo 
quently implored, but never had she expe 
rienced the tender, melting sentiment that 
percolated through her breast when she 
heard the bassoon mingling his melancholy 
tones with Manrico s plaints. The tears 
welled up into Aurora s eyes, her bosom 
heaved convulsively, and the most subtile 
emotions thrilled her soul. 

In vain did young Magnus, the banker, 
seek to learn the cause of her agitation, and 
it seemed like a cruel mockery when Auro 
ra s mother said: "You must remember, 
dear, that it is not real; it is only a play/ 

After this memorable evening, v/herein an 
unexpected and indescribable sweetness 

199 



THE HOLY CROSS 

had crept into the young woman s life, 
Aurora more frequently insisted upon going 
to the opera. A strange fascination attracted 
her thither, and on each succeeding evening 
she found some new beauty in the bassoon, 
some new phase in his kaleidoscopic char 
acter to wonder at, some new accomplish 
ment to admire. On one occasion it was 
at the opera bouffe this musical prodigy 
exhibited a playfulness and an exuberance 
of wit and humor that Aurora had never 
dreamed of. He ran the gamut of vocal 
conceit, and the polyglot fertility of his fancy 
simply astounded his rapt auditor. She was 
dazed, enchanted, spellbound. So here we 
find the fair Aurora passing from the con 
dition of pity into the estate of admiration. 

And now, having first conceived a won 
drous pity for the bassoon, and then having 
become imbued with an admiration of his 
wit, sarcasm, badinage, repartee, and hu 
mor, it followed naturally and logically that 
Aurora should fall desperately in love with 
him; for pity and admiration are but the 
forerunners of the grand passion. 

"Aunt Eliza, "said Aurora one day, "you 

200 



AND OTHER TALES 

have instilled into my sensitive nature an 
indelible aversion to men, compared with 
which all such deleble passions as affection 
and love are as inconsequential as summer 
zephyrs. I believe men to be by nature and 
practice gross, vulgar, sensual, and un 
worthy; and from this opinion I feel that I 
shall never recede. Yet such a clinging and 
fragile thing is woman s heart that it must 
needs have some object about which it may 
twine, even as the gentle ivy twines about 
the oak. Now, as you know, some women 
there are who, convinced of the utter worth- 
lessness of the opposite sex, dedicate their 
lives to the adoration of some art or science, 
lavishing thereupon that love which women 
less prudent squander upon base men and 
ungrateful children ; in the painting of pic 
tures, devotion to the drama, the cultivation 
of music, pursuit of trade, or the exclusive 
attention to a profession, some women find 
the highest pleasure. But you and I, dear 
aunt, who are directed by even higher and 
purer motives than these women, scorn the 
pursuits of the arts and sciences, the profes 
sions and trades, and lay our hearts as will- 

201 



THE HOLY CROSS 

ing sacrifices upon the altars of a tabby cat 
and a bassoon. What could be purer or 
more exalted than a love of that kind?" 

Having uttered this eloquent preface,which 
was, indeed, characteristic of the fair crea 
ture, Aurora told Aunt Eliza of the bassoon, 
and as she spoke of his versatile accom 
plishments and admirable qualities her eyes 
glowed with an unwonted animation, and 
a carmine hue suffused her beautiful cheeks. 
It was plain that Aurora was deeply in love, 
and Aunt Eliza was overjoyed. 

"It is gratifying," said Aunt Eliza, "to 
find that my teachings promise such happy 
results, that the seeds I have so carefully 
sown already show signs of a glorious frui 
tion. Now, while it is true that I cannot 
conceive of a happier love than that which 
exists between my own dear tabby cat and 
myself, it is also true that I recognize your 
bassoon as an object so much worthier of 
adoration than mankind in general, and your 
male acquaintances in particular, that I most 
heartily felicitate you upon the idol you have 
chosen for your worship. Bassoons do not 
smoke, nor chew tobacco, nor swear, nor 

202 



AND OTHER TALES 

bet on horse-races, nor play billiards, nor do 
any of those horrid things which constitute 
the larger part of a man s ambitions and pur 
suits. You have acted wisely, my dear, 
and heaven grant you may be as happy in 
bis love as I am in tabby s. 

"I feel that I shall be," murmured Au 
rora; " already my bassoon is very precious 
to me." 

With the dawn of this first passion a new 
motive seemed to come into Aurora s life 
a gentle melancholy, a subdued sentiment 
whose accompaniments were sighings and 
day-dreamings and solitary tears and swoon- 
ings. 

Quite naturally Aurora sought Aunt Eliza s 
society more than ever now, and her con 
versation and thoughts were always on the 
bassoon. It was very beautiful. 

But late one night Aurora burst into Aunt 
Eliza s room and threw herself upon Aunt 
Eliza s bed, sobbing bitterly. Aunt Eliza 
was inexpressibly shocked, and under a sud 
den impulse of horror the tabby sprang to 
her feet, arched her back, bristled her tail, 
and uttered monosyllables of astonishment. 

203 



THE HOLY CROSS 

" Why, Aurora, what ails you ? " inquired 
Aunt Eliza, kindly. 

"Oh, auntie, my heart is broken, I know 
it is," wailed Aurora. 

"Come, come, my child, said Aunt 
Eliza, soothingly, "don t take on so. Tell 
auntie what ails you. 

" He was harsh and cruel to me to-night, 
and oh! 1 loved him so!" moaned Aurora. 

"A lovers quarrel, eh?" thought Aunt 
Eliza; and she got up, slipped her wrapper 
on, and brewed Aurora a big bowl of bone- 
set tea. Oh, how nice and bitter and fra 
grant it was, and how Aunt Eliza s nostrils 
sniffed, and how her eyes sparkled as she 
sipped the grateful beverage. 

"There, drink that, my dear," said Aunt 
Eliza, "and then tell me all about it." . 

Aurora quaffed the bowl of boneset tea, 
and the wholesome draught seemed to give 
her fortitude, for now she told Aunt Eliza 
the whole story. It seems that Aurora had 
been to the opera as usual, not for the pur 
pose of hearing and seeing the performance, 
but simply for the sake of being where the 
beloved bassoon was. The opera was Wag- 

204 



AND OTHER TALES 

ner s "Die Walkure," and the part played 
by the bassoon in the orchestration was one 
of conspicuous importance. Fully appreciat 
ing his importance, the bassoon conducted 
himself with brutal arrogance and supercili 
ousness on this occasion. His whole nature 
seemed changed; his tones were harsh and 
discordant, and with malevolent obstinacy 
he led all the other instruments in the or 
chestra through a seemingly endless series 
of musical pyrotechnics. There never was 
a more remarkable exhibition of stubborn 
ness. When the violins and the cellos, the 
hautboys and the flutes, the cornets and the 
trombones, said "Come, let us work to 
gether in G minor," or "Let us do this pas 
sage in B flat," the bassoon would lead off 
with a wild shriek in D sharp or some other 
foreign key, and maintain it so lustily that 
the other instruments e. g., the violins, 
the cellos, the hautboys, and all were 
compelled to back, switch, and wheel into 
the bassoon s lead as best they could. 

But no sooner had they come into harmony 
than the bassoon-- oh, melancholy perver 
sity of that instrument would strike off - 

205 



THE HOLY CROSS 

into another key with a ribald snicker or 
coarse guffaw, causing more turbulence and 
another stampede. And this preposterous 
condition of affairs was kept up the whole 
evening, the bassoon seeming to take a 
fiendish delight in his riotous, brutal con 
duct. 

At first Aurora was mortified; then her 
mortification deepened into chagrin. In the 
hope of touching his heart she bestowed 
upon him a look of such tender supplication 
that, had he not been the most callous crea 
ture in the world, he must have melted un 
der it. To his eternal shame, let it be said, 
the bassoon remained as impervious to her 
beseeching glances as if he had been a sphinx 
or a rhinoceros. In fact, Aurora s supplicat 
ing eyes seemed to instigate him to further 
and greater madness, for after that he became 
still more riotous, and at many times during 
the evening the crisis in the orchestra threat 
ened anarchy and general disintegration. 

Aurora s humiliation can be imagined by 
those only who have experienced a like bit 
terness the bitterness of awakening to a 
realization of the cruelty of love. Aurora 

206 



AND OTHER TALES 

loved the bassoon tenderly, deeply, absorb 
ingly. The sprightliness of his lighter moods, 
no less than the throbbing pathos of his 
sadder moments, had won her heart. She 
had given him her love unreservedly, she 
fairly worshipped him, and now she awak 
ened, as it were, from a golden dream, to 
find her idol clay! It was very sad. Yet 
who that has loved either man or bassoon 
does not know this bitterness ? 

" He will be gentler hereafter," said Aunt 
Eliza, encouragingly. "You must always 
remember that we should be charitable and 
indulgent with those we love. Who knows 
why the bassoon was harsh and wayward 
and imperious to-night? Let us not judge 
him till we have heard the whys and where 
fores. He may have been ill; depend upon 
it, my dear, he had cause for his conduct." 

Aunt Eliza s prudent words were a great 
solace to Aurora. And she forgave the bas 
soon all the pain he had inflicted when she 
went to the opera the next night and heard 
him in "I Puritani," a work in which the 
grand virility of his nature, its vigor and 
force, came out with telling effect. There 

207 



THE HOLY CROSS 

was not a trace of the insolence he had man 
ifested in "Die Walkure," nor of the hu 
morous antics he had displayed in "La 
Grande Duchesse " ; divested of all charlatan 
ism, he was now a magnificent, sonorous, 
manly bassoon, and you may depend upon 
it Aurora was more in love with him than 
ever. 

It was about this time that, perceiving a 
marked change in his daughter s appearance 
and demeanor, Aurora s father began to ques 
tion her mother about it all, and that good 
lady at last made bold to tell the old gentle 
man the whole truth of the matter, which 
was simply that Aurora cherished a passion 
for the bassoon. Now the father was an ex 
ceedingly matter-of-fact, old-fashioned man, 
who possessed not the least bit of senti 
ment, and when he heard that his only 
child had fallen in love with a bassoon, his 
anger was very great. He summoned Au 
rora into his presence, and regarded her with 
an austere countenance. 

"Girl," he said, in icy tones, "is it true 
that you have been flirting with a bas 
soon j>" 

208 



AND OTHER TALES 

Father/ replied Aurora, with dignity, 
" I have never flirted with anybody, and you 
grievously wrong the bassoon when you 
intimated that he, too, is capable of such 
frivolity." 

"It is nevertheless true," roared the old 
gentleman, "that you have conceived a pas 
sion for this bassoon, and have cherished it 
clandestinely." 

"It is true, father, that I love the bas 
soon," said Aurora; " it is true that I admire 
his wit, vivacity, sentiment, soul, force, 
power, and manliness, but I have loved in 
secret. We have^iever met; he may know 
I love him, and he may reciprocate my love, 
but he has never spoken to me nor I to him, 
so there is nothing clandestine in the af 
fair." 

"Oh, my child! my child!" sobbed the 
old man, breaking down; " how could you 
love a bassoon, when so many eligible young 
men are suitors for your hand ?" 

"Don t mention him in the same breath 
with those horrid creatures!" cried Aurora, 
indignantly. "What scent of tobacco or 
odor of wines has ever profaned the purity 

209 



THE HOLY CROSS 

of his balmy breath ? What does be know 
of billiards, of horse-racing, of actresses, and 
those other features of brutal men s lives ? 
Father, he is pure and good and exalted; 
seek not to debase him by naming him in 
the category of man ! " 

"These are Eliza s teachings! shrieked 
the old gentleman; and off he bundled to 
vent his wrath on the maiden aunt. But it 
was little satisfaction he got from Aunt 
Eliza. 

After that the old gentleman kept a strict 
eye on Aurora, and very soon he became 
satisfied of two things: first, that Aurora 
was sincerely in love with the bassoon; and, 
second, that the bassoon cared nothing for 
Aurora. That Aurora loved the bassoon 
was evidenced by her demeanor when in 
his presence --her steadfast eyes, her parted 
lips, her heaving bosom, her piteous sighs, 
her flushed cheeks, and her varying emotions 
as his tones changed, bore unimpeachable 
testimony to the sincerity of her passion. 
That the bassoon did not care for Aurora 
was proved by his utter disregard of her 
feelings, for though he might be tender this 

2IO 



AND OTHER TALES 

moment he was harsh the next though 
pleading now he spurned her anon ; and so, 
variable and fickle and false as the winds, 
he kept Aurora in misery and hysterics about 
half the time. 

One morning the old gentleman entered 
the theatre while the orchestra was rehears 
ing. 

Who plays the bassoon ?" he asked, in 
an imperative tone. 

" Ich! " said a man with a bald head and 
gold spectacles. 

"Your name? demanded the old gen 
tleman. 

"Otto Baumgarten," replied he of the bald 
head and gold spectacles. 

"Then, Otto Baumgarten, "said the father, 
"I will give you one hundred dollars for 
your bassoon. 

" Mein Gott! "said Herr Baumgarten, "dat 
bassoon gost me not half so much fon dot! 

"Never mind! " replied the old gentle 
man. "Take the money and give me the 
bassoon." 

Herr Baumgarten did not hesitate a mo 
ment. He clutched at the gold pieces, and 

21 I 



THE HOLY CROSS 

while he counted them Aurora s father was 
hastening up the street with the bassoon 
under his arm. Aurora saw him coming, 
and she recognized the idol of her soul; his 
silver-plated keys were not to be mistaken. 
With a cry of joy she met her father in the 
hallway, snatched the bassoon to her heart, 
and covered him with kisses. 

"He makes no answer to your protesta 
tions! " said her father. "Come, give over 
a love that is hopeless; cast aside this bas 
soon, who is hollow at heart, and whose af 
fection at best is only platonic! " 

"You speak blasphemies, father," cried 
Aurora, "and you yourself shall hear how 
he loves me, for when I but put my lips to 
this slender mouthpiece there shall issue from 
my worshipped bassoon tones of such inef 
fable tenderness that even you shall be con 
vinced that my passion is reciprocated. 

With these words Aurora glued her beau 
teous lips to the slender blowpipe of the 
bassoon, and, having inflated her lungs to 
their capacity, breathed into it a respiration 
that seemed to come from her very soul. 
But no sound issued from the cold, hollow, 



212 



AND OTHER TALES 

unresponsive bassoon. Aurora repeated the 
effort with increased vigor. There came no 
answer at all. 

Aha ! " laughed her father. I told you 
so; he loves you not." 

But then, with a last superhuman effort, 
Aurora made her third attempt; her eyeballs 
started from their sockets, big, blue veins 
and cords stood out on her lovely neck, and 
all the force and vigor of her young life 
seemed to go out through her pursed lips 
into the bassoon s system. And then, oh 
then! as if to mock her idolatry and sound 
the death knell of her unhappy love, the 
bassoon recoiled and emitted a tone so harsh, 
so discordant, so supernatural, that even Au 
rora s father drew back in horror. 

And lo! hearing that supernatural sound 
that told her of the hopelessness of love, 
Aurora dropped the hollow, mocking scoffer, 
clutched spasmodically at her heart, and, 
with an agonizing shriek, fell lifeless to the 
floor. 



213 




^atoaiimt folft 



HAWAIIAN FOLK TALES 



THE EEL-KING 

* 

THERE was a maiden named Liliokani 
whose father was a fisherman. But 
the maiden liked not her father s employ 
ment, for she believed it to be an offence 
against Atua, the all-god, to deprive any 
animal of that life which Atua had breathed 
into it. And this was pleasing unto Atua, 
and he blessed Liliokani with exceeding 
beauty; no other eyes were so large, dark, 
and tender as hers; the braids of her long, 
soft hair fell like silken seagrass upon her 
shoulders; she was tall and graceful as the 
palm, and her voice was the voice of the 
sea when the sea cradles the moonlight and 
sings it to sleep. 

Full many kings sons came wooing Lilio- 

217 



THE HOLY CROSS 

kani, and chiefs renowned in war; and with 
others came Tatatao, that was a mighty 
hunter of hares and had compassed famous 
hardships. For those men that delight in 
adventure and battle are most pleasantly 
minded to gentle women, for thus capri 
ciously hath Atua, the all-god, ordained. 
But Liliokani had no ear to the wooing of 
these men, and the fisherman s daughter 
was a virgin when Mimi came. 

Mimi was king of the eels, and Atua had 
given him eternal life and the power to 
change his shape when it pleased him to 
issue from the water and walk the earth. It 
befell that this eel-king, Mimi, beheld Lilio 
kani upon a time as he swam the little river 
near her father s abode, and he saw that she 
was exceeding fair and he heard the soft, sad 
sea-tone in her voice. So for many days 
Mimi frequented those parts and grew more 
and more in love with the maiden. 

Upon a certain day, while she helped her 
father to mend his nets, Liliokani saw a 
young man of goodly stature and handsome 
face approaching, and to herself she said : 
" Surely if ever I be tempted to wed it shall 

218 



AND OTHER TALES 

be with this young man, whose like I have 
never before known." But she had no 
thought that it was Mimi, the eel-king, who 
in this changed shape now walked the 
earth. 

Sweetly he made obeisance and pleasant 
was his discourse with the fisherman and his 
daughter, and he told them many things of 
his home, which he said was many kumes 
distant from that spot. Though he spake 
mostly to the old man, his eyes were fixed 
upon Liliokani, and, after the fashion of her 
sex, that maiden presently knew that he had 
great love unto her. Many days after that 
came Mimi to hold discourse with them, 
and they had joy of his coming, for in sooth 
he was of fair countenance and sweet ad 
dress, and the fisherman, being a single- 
minded and a simple man, had no suspicion 
of the love between Mimi and Liliokani. 
But once Mimi said to Liliokani in such a 
voice as the sea-wind hath to the maiden 
palm-trees: " Brown maiden mine, let thy 
door be unlatched this night, and I will come 

to thee." 

So the door was not latched that night 

219 



THE HOLY CROSS 

and Mimi went in unto her, and they two 
were together and alone. 

"What meaneth that moaning of the 
sea?" asked Liliokani. 

"The sea chanteth our bridal anthem," he 
answered. 

"And what sad music cometh from the 
palms to-night ? she asked. 

"They sing soft and low of our wedded 
love," he answered. 

But Liliokani apprehended evil, and, al 
though she spake no more of it at that time, 
a fear of trouble was in her heart. 

Now Atua, the all-god, was exceeding 
wroth at this thing, and in grievous anger 
he beheld how that every night the door 
was unlatched and Mimi went in unto Lilio 
kani. And Atua set about to do vengeance, 
and Atua s wrath is sure and very dreadful. 

There was a night when Mimi did not 
come; the door was unlatched and the 
breath of Liliokani was as the perfume of 
flowers and of spices commingled; yet he 
came not. Then Liliokani wept and un- 
braided her hair and cried as a widow crieth, 
and she thought that Mimi had found an- 

220 



AND OTHER TALES 

other pleasanter than she unto him. So, 
upon the next night, she latched the door. 
But in the middle of the night, when the fire 
was kindled in the island moon, there was a 
gentle tapping at the door, and Mimi called 
to her. And when she had unlatched the 
door she began to chide him, but he stopped 
her chiding, and with great groaning he took 
her to his breast, and she knew by the beat 
ing of his heart that evil had come upon 
him. 

Then Mimi told her who he was and how 
wroth the all-god was because the eel-king, 
forgetful of his immortality and neglectful of 
his domain, loved the daughter of a mortal. 

" Forswear me, then/ quoth Liliokani, 
"forswear me, and come not hither again, 
and the anger of the all-god shall be ap 
peased." 

It is not to lie to Atua," answered Mimi. 
" The all-god readeth every heart and know- 
eth every thought. How can I, that love 
thee only, forswear thee ? More just and 
terrible would be Atua s wrath for that lie 
to him and that wrong to thee and to my 
self. Brown maiden, I go back into the sea 

221 



THE HOLY CROSS 

and from thee forever, bearing with me a 
love for thee which even the all-god s anger 
cannot chill." 

So he kissed her for the last time and bade 
her a last farewell, and then he went from 
that door down to the water s edge and into 
his domain. And Liliokani made great moan 
and her heart was like to break. But the 
sea was placid as a hearthstone and the 
palms lay asleep in the sky that night, for it 
was Atua s will that the woman should suf 
fer alone. 

In the middle of the next night a mighty 
tempest arose. The clouds reached down 
and buffeted the earth and sea, and the 
winds and the waters cried out in anger 
against each other and smote each other. 
Above the tumult Atua s voice was heard. 
" Arise, Liliokani," quoth that voice, "and 
with thy father s stone hatchet smite off the 
head of the fish that lieth upon the threshold 
of the door." 

Then Liliokani arose with fear and trem 
bling and went to the door, and there, on the 
threshold, lay a monster eel whose body 
had been floated thither by the flood and 



AND OTHER TALES 

the tempest. With her father s stone hatchet 
she smote off the eel s head, and the head 
fell into the hut, but the long, dead body 
floated back with the flood into the sea and 
was seen no more. Then the tempest 
abated, and with the morning came the 
sun s light and its tender warmth. And at 
the earliest moment Liliokani took the eel s 
head secretly and buried it with much sor 
row and weeping, for the eyes within that 
lifeless head were Mimi s eyes, and Liliokani 
knew that this thing was come of the all- 
god s wrath. 

It was her wont to go each day and make 
moan over the spot where she had hid this 
vestige of her love, and presently Atua pitied 
her, for Atua loveth his children upon this 
earth, even though they sin most grievously. 
So, by and by, Liliokani saw that two green 
leaves were sprouting from the earth, and 
in a season these two leaves became twin 
stalks and grew into trees, the like of which 
had never before been seen upon earth. And 
Liliokani lived to see and to taste the fruit 
of these twin trees that sprung from Mimi s 
brain the red cocoanut and the white 

223 



THE HOLY CROSS 

cocoanut, whereof all men have eaten since 
that time. And all folk hold that fruit in 
sweet estimation, for it cometh from the love 
that a god had unto a mortal woman, and 
mortality is love and love is immortality. 

Atua forgot not Liliokani when the skies 
opened to her; she liveth forever in the star 
that looketh only upon this island, and it is 
her tender grace that nourishes the infant 
cocoas and maketh the elder ones fruitful. 
Meanwhile no woman that dwelleth upon 
earth hath satisfaction in tasting the flesh of 
eels, for a knowledge of Mimi s love and 
sacrifice hath been subtly implanted by Atua, 
the all-god, in every woman s breast. 

ii 

THE MOON LADY 

Once there were four maidens who were 
the daughters of Talakoa, and they were 
so very beautiful that their fame spread 
through the universe. The oldest of these 
maidens was named Kaulualua, and it is of 
her. that it is to tell this tale. 

224 



AND OTHER TALES 

One day while Kaulualua was combing 
her hair she saw a tall, fair man fishing in 
the rivulet, and he was a stranger to her. 
Never before had she seen so fair a man, 
though in very sooth she had been wooed 
of many king s sons and of chiefs from every 
part of the earth. Then she called to her 
three sisters and asked them his name, but 
they could not answer; this, however, they 
knew- -he was of no country whereof they 
had heard tell, for he was strangely clad and 
he was of exceeding fair complexion and his 
stature surpassed that of other men. 

The next day these maidens saw this same 
tall, fair man, but he no longer fished in the 
rivulet; he hunted the hares and was pass 
ing skilful thereat, so that the maidens ad 
mired him not only for his exceeding come 
liness but also for his skill as a huntsman, for 
surely there was no hare that could escape 
his vigilance and the point of his arrow. 
So when Talakoa, their father, came that 
evening the maidens told him of this stran 
ger, and he wondered who he was and 
whence he fared. Awaking from sleep in 
the middle of that night, Kaulualua saw that 

225 



THE HOLY CROSS 

the stars shone with rare brilliancy, and that 
by their light a man was gazing upon her 
through the window. And she saw that 
the man was the tall, fair man of whom it 
has been spoken. So she uttered no cry, 
but feigned that she slept, for she saw that 
there was love in the tall, fair man s eyes, 
and it pleaseth a maiden to be looked upon 
in that wise. 

When it was morning this tall, fair man 
came and entered that house and laid a fish 
and a hare upon the hearthstone and called 
for Talakoa. And he quoth to Talakoa: 
"Old man, I would have your daughter to 
wife." 

Being a full crafty man, as beseemeth one 
of years, Talakoa replied: "Four daughters 
have I." 

The tall, fair man announced: " You speak 
sooth, as well becometh a full crafty man. 
Four daughters have you, and it is Kaulualua 
that I would have to wife." 

Saith that full crafty man, the father : How 
many palm trees grow in thy possession, 
and how many rivers flow through thy 
chiefdom ? Whence comest thou, gentle 

226 



AND OTHER TALES 

sir, for assuredly neither I nor mine have 
seen the like of thee before." 

Good sooth, " answered the tall, fair man, 
" I will tell you no lie, for I would have that 
daughter to wife, and the things you require 
do well beseem a full crafty man that mean- 
eth for his child s good. I am the man of 
the moon, and my name is Marama." 

Then Talakoa and his daughters looked at 
one another and were sore puzzled, for they 
knew not whereof Marama spake. And they 
deemed him a madman; yet did they not 
laugh him to scorn, because that he had come 
a-wooing, and had laid the fish and the hare 
upon the hearthstone. 

"Kind sir, bringing gifts," quoth Tala 
koa, " I say no lie to you, but we know not 
that country whereof you speak. Pray tell 
us of the moon and where is it situate, and 
how many kumes is it distant from here?" 

"Full crafty man, father of her whom I 
would have to wife, I will tell you truly," an 
swered Marama. " The moon wherefrom I 
come is a mighty island in the vast sea of 
night, and it is distant from here so great a 
space that it were not to count the kumes 

227 



THE HOLY CROSS 

that lie between. Exceeding fair is that isl 
and in that vast sea, and it hath mountains 
and valleys and plains and seas and rivers 
and lakes, and I am the chief over all. Atua 
made that island for me and put it in that 
mighty sea, for 1 am the son of Atua, and 
over that island in that sea I shall rule for 
ever." 

Great wonder had they to hear tell of these 
things, and they knew now that Marama was 
the child of Atua, who made the universe 
and is the all-god. Then Marama said on: 

"Atua bade me search and find me a wife, 
and upon the stars have I walked two hun 
dred years, fishing and hunting, and seeing 
maidens, but of all maidens seen there is 
none that I did love. So now at last, in 
this island of this earth, I have found Kau- 
lualua, and have seen the pearl of her beauty 
and smelled the cinnamon of her breath, and 
I would fain have her to wife that she may 
be ruler with me over the moon, my island 
in the vast, black sea of night." 

It was not for Talakoa, being of earth such 
as all human kind, to gainsay the words of 
Marama. And there was a flame in Kau- 

228 



AND OTHER TALES 

lualua s heart and incense in her breath and 
honey in her eyes toward this tall, fair man 
that was the son of Atua. So the old father 
said to her: " Take up the fish and the hare 
and roast them, my daughter, and spread 
them before us, and we will eat them and so 
pledge our troth, one to another." 

This thing did Kaulualua, and so the man 
from the moon had her to wife. 

That night they went from the home of 
Talakoa to the island in the sea of night, 
and Talakoa and the three maidens watched 
for a signal from that island, for Kaulualua 
told them she would build a fire thereon 
that they might know when she was come 
thither. Many, many nights they watched, 
and their hair grew white, and Time marked 
their faces with his fingers, and the moss 
gathered on the palm trees. At last, as if 
he would sleep forever, Talakoa laid himself 
upon his mat by the door and asked that 
the skies be opened to him, for he was en 
feebled with age. 

And while he asked this thing the three 
sisters saw a dim light afar off in the black 
sea of night, and it was such a light as had 

229 



THE HOLY CROSS 

never before been seen. And this light grew 
larger and brighter, so that in seven nights 
it was thrice the size of the largest palm 
leaf, and it lighted up all that far-off island 
in the sea of night, and they knew that Kau- 
lualua and the moon-god were in their home 
at last. So old Talakoa was soothed and 
the skies that opened unto him found him 
satisfied. 

The three sisters lived long, and yet two 
hundred ages are gone since the earth re 
ceived them into its bosom. Yet still upon 
that island in the dark sea of night abideth 
in love the moon-god with his bride. Atua 
hath been good to her, for he hath given 
her eternal youth, as he giveth to all wives 
that do truly love and serve their husbands. 
It is for us to see that pleasant island where 
in Kaulualua liveth ; it is for us to see that 
when Marama goeth abroad to hunt or to 
fish his moon-lady sitteth alone and maketh 
moan, and heedeth not her fires; it is for us 
to see that when anon he cometh back she 
buildeth up those fires whereon to cook food 
for him, and presently the fires grow brighter 
and the whole round moon island is lighted 

230 



AND OTHER TALES 

and warmed thereby. In this wise an ex 
ceeding fair example is set unto all wives 
of their duty unto their mates. 

When the sea singeth to the sands, when 
the cane beckoneth to the stars, and when 
the palm-leaves whisper to sweet-breathed 
night, how pleasant it is, my brown maiden, 
to stand with thee and look upon that island 
in the azure sea that spreadeth like a veil 
above the cocoa trees. For there we see 
the moon-lady, and she awaiteth her dear 
lord and shesmileth in love; and that grace 
warmeth our hearts your heart and mine, 
O little maiden ! and w r e are glad with a joy 
that knoweth no speaking. 



231 



Hute 



anti li# toife m 



LUTE BAKER AND HIS WIFE EM 



THE Plainfield boys always had the name 
of being smart, and I guess Lute Baker 
was just about the smartest boy the old 
town ever turned out. Well, he came by it 
naturally; Judge Baker was known all over 
western Massachusetts as the sage of Plain- 
field, and Lute s mother she was a Kel 
logg before the judge married her she had 
more faculty than a dozen of your girls now 
adays, and her cooking was talked about 
everywhere never was another woman, 
as folks said, could cook like Miss Baker. 
The boys --Lute s friends used to hang 
around the back porch of noonings just to 
get some of her doughnuts ; she was always 
considerate and liberal to growing boys. 
May be Lute would n t have been so popu 
lar if it had n t been for those doughnuts, 

235 



THE HOLY CROSS 

and may be he would n t have been so smart 
if it had n t been for all the good things his 
mother fed into him. Always did believe 
there was piety and wisdom in New Eng 
land victuals. 

Lute went to Amherst College and did 
well; was valedictorian; then he taught 
school a winter, for Judge Baker said that 
nobody could amount to much in the world 
unless he taught school a spell. Lute was 
set on being a lawyer, and so presently he 
went down to Springfield and read and 
studied in Judge Morris office, and Judge 
Morris wrote a letter home to the Bakers 
once testifying to Lute s "probity" and 
"acumen" things that are never heard 
tell of except high up in the legal profession. 

How Lute came to get the western fever I 
can t say, but get it he did, and one winter 
he up and piked off to Chicago, and there 
he hung out his shingle and joined a literary 
social and proceeded to get rich and famous. 
The next spring Judge Baker fell off the 
woodshed while he was shingling it, and it 
jarred him so he kind of drooped and pined 
round a spell and then one day up and died. 

236 



AND OTHER TALES 

Lute had to come back home and settle up 
the estate. 

When he went west again he took a wife 
with him Emma Cowles that was (every 
body called her Em for short), pretty as a 
picture and as likely a girl as there was in the 
township. Lute had always had a hanker 
ing for Em, and Em thought there never was 
another such a young fellow as Lute; she 
understood him perfectly, having sung in 
the choir with him two years. The young 
couple went west well provided. 

Lute and Em went to housekeeping in 
Chicago. Em wanted to do her own work, 
but Lute would n t hear to it; so they hired 
a German girl that was just over from the 
vineyards of the Rhine country. 

" Lute," says Em, " Hulda does n t know 
much about cooking. 

" So I see," says Lute, feelingly. <( She s 
green as grass; you 11 have to teach her." 

Hulda could swing a hoe and wield a 
spade deftly, but of the cuisine she knew 
somewhat less than nothing. Em had lots 
of patience and pluck, but she found teach 
ing Hulda how to cook a precious hard job. 

257 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Lute was amiable enough at first; used to 
laugh it off with a cordial bet that by and 
by Em would make a famous cook of the 
obtuse but willing immigrant. This moral 
backing buoyed Em up considerable, until 
one evening in an unguarded moment Lute 
expressed a pining for some doughnuts Mike 
those mother makes/ and that casual re 
mark made Em unhappy. But next even 
ing when Lute came home there were dough 
nuts on the table beautiful, big, plethoric 
doughnuts that fairly reeked with the homely, 
delicious sentiment of New England. Lute 
ate one. Em felt hurt. 

" I guess it J s because I ve eaten so much 
else," explained Lute, "but somehow or 
other they don t taste like mother s." 

Next day Em fed the rest of the dough 
nuts to a poor man who came and said he 
was starving. " Thank you, rnarm," said 
he, with his heart full of gratitude and his 
mouth full of doughnuts; " I ha n t had any 
thing as good as this since I left Con 
necticut twenty years ago. 

That little subtlety consoled Em, but 
still she found it hard to bear up under her 



AND OTHER TALES 

apparent inability to do her duty by Lute s 
critical palate. Once when Lute brought 
Col. Hi Thomas home to dinner they had 
chicken pie. The colonel praised it and 
passed his plate a third time. 

"Oh, but you ought to eat some of mo 
ther s chicken pie," said Lute. "Mother 
never puts an "under crust in her chicken 
pies, and that makes em juicier." 

Same way when they had fried pork and 
potatoes; Lute could not understand why 
the flesh of the wallowing, carnivorous west 
ern hog should n t be as white and firm and 
sweet as the meat of the swill-fed Yankee 
pig. And why were the Hubbard squashes 
so tasteless and why was maple syrup so very 
different ? Yes, amid all his professional du 
ties Lute found time to note and remark upon 
this and other similar things, and of course 
Em was by implication, at least held 
responsible for them all. 

And Em did try so hard, so very hard, to 
correct the evils and to answer the hypercrit 
ical demands of Lute s foolishly petted and 
spoiled appetite. She warred valorously 
with butchers, grocers, and hucksters; she 

239 



THE HOLY CROSS 

sent down east to Mother Baker for all the 
famous family recipes ; she wrestled in speech 
and in practice with that awful Hulda; she 
experimented long and patiently; she blis 
tered her pretty face and burned her little 
hands over that kitchen range - - yes, a slow, 
constant martyrdom that conscientious wife 
willingly endured for years in her enthusi 
astic determination to do her duty by Lute. 
Doughnuts, chicken-pies, boiled dinners, 
layer-cakes, soda biscuits, flapjacks, fish 
balls, baked beans, squash pies, corned-beef 
hash, dried-apple sauce, currant wine, succo 
tash, brown bread how valorously Em 
toiled over them, only to be rewarded with 
some cruel reminder of how mother " used 
to do these things! It was terrible; a tedi 
ous martyrdom. 

Lute mind you Lute was not wilfully 
cruel; no, he was simply and irremediably a 
heedless idiot of a man, just as every mar 
ried man is, for a spell, at least. But it broke 
Em s heart, all the same. 

Lute s mother came to visit them when 
their first child was born, and she lifted a 
great deal of trouble off the patient wife. 

240 



AND OTHER TALES 

Old Miss Baker always liked Em; had told 
the minister three years ago that she knew 
Em would make Lute a good Christian wife. 
They named the boy Moses, after the old 
judge who was dead, and old Miss Baker 
said he should have his gran pa s watch when 
he got to be twenty-one. 

Old Miss Baker always stuck by Em ; may 
be she remembered how the old judge had 
talked once on a time about his mother s 
cooking. For all married men are, as I have 
said, idiotically cruel about that sort of thing. 
Yes, old Miss Baker braced Em up wonder 
ful; brought a lot of dried catnip out west 
with her for the baby; taught Em how to 
make salt-rising bread; told her all about 
stewing things and broiling things and roast 
ing things; showed her how to tell the real 
Yankee codfish from the counterfeit oh, she 
just did Em lots of good, did old Miss Baker! 

The rewards of virtue may be slow in com 
ing, but they are sure to come. Em s three 
boys- -the three bouncing boys that came 
to Em and Lute- -those three boys waxed 
fat and grew up boisterous, blatant appreci- 
ators of their mother s cooking. The way 

241 



THE HOLY CROSS 

those boys did eat mother s doughnuts! 
And mother s pies - - wow ! Other boys - 
the neighbors boys came round regularly 
in troops, battalions, armies, and like a con 
suming fire licked up the wholesome viands 
which Em s skill and liberality provided for 
her own boys enthusiastic playmates. And 
all those boys there must have been mil 
lions of em --were living, breathing, vocif 
erous testimonials to the unapproachable 
excellence of Em s cooking. 

Lute got into politics, and they elected him 
to the legislature. After the campaign, need 
ing rest, he took it into his head to run down 
east to see his mother; he had not been back 
home for eight years. He took little Moses 
with him. They were gone about three 
weeks. Gran ma Baker had made great 
preparations for them ; had cooked up enough 
pies to last all winter, and four plump, be 
headed, well-plucked, yellow-legged pullets 
hung stiff and solemn-like in the chill pantry 
off the kitchen, awaiting the last succulent 
scene of all. 

Lute and the little boy got there late of an 
evening. The dear old lady was so glad to 

242 



AND OTHER TALES 

see them; the love that beamed from her 
kindly eyes well nigh melted the glass in her 
silver-bowed specks. The table was spread 
in the dining-room; the sheet-iron stove 
sighed till it seemed like to crack with the 
heat of that hardwood fire. 

"Why, Lute, you ain t eatin enough to 
keep a fly alive, remonstrated old Miss 
Baker, when her son declined a second dough 
nut; "and what ails the child?" she con 
tinued; " ha n t he got no appetite ? Why, 
when you wuz his age, Lute, seemed as if 1 
could n t cook doughnuts fast enough for 
you!" 

Lute explained that both he and his little 
boy had eaten pretty heartily on the train 
that day. But all the time of their visit there 
poor old Gran ma Baker wondered and wor 
ried because they did n t eat enough 
seemed to her as if western folks had n t the 
right kind of appetite. Even the plump pul 
lets, served in a style that had made Miss 
Baker famed throughout those discriminat 
ing parts even those pullets failed to awak 
en the expected and proper enthusiasm in 
the visitors. 

243 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Home again in Chicago, Lute drew his 
chair up to the table with an eloquent sigh 
of relief. As for little Moses, he clamored 
his delight. 

"Chicken pie!" he cried, gleefully; and 
then he added a soulful wow ! " as his eager 
eyes fell upon a plateful of hot, exuberant, 
voluptuous doughnuts. 

"Yes, we are both glad to get back," said 
Lute. 

"But I am afraid," suggested Em, tim 
idly, "that gran ma s cooking has spoiled 
you." 

Little Moses (bless him) howled an indig 
nant, a wrathful remonstrance. " Gran ma 
can t cook worth a cent! said he. 

Em expected Lute to be dreadfully shocked, 
but he was n t. 

"1 would n t let her know it for all the 
world, "remarked Lute, confidentially, "but 
mother has lost her grip on cooking. At 
any rate, her cooking is n t what it used to 
be; it has changed." 

Then Em came bravely to the rescue. 
"No, Lute," says she, and she meant it, 
"your mother s cooking has n t changed, 

244 



AND OTHER TALES 

but you have. The man has grown away 
from the boy, and the tastes, the ways, and 
the delights of boyhood have no longer any 
fascination for the man. 

" May be you re right," said Lute. " At 
any rate, I m free to say that your cooking 
beats the world. " 

Good for Lute! Virtue triumphs and my 
true story ends. But first an explanation to 
concinnate my narrative. 

I should never have known this true story 
if Lute himself had n t told it to me at the 
last dinner of the Sons of New England 
told it to me right before Em, that dear, pa 
tient little martyred wife of his. And I 
knew by the love light in Em s eyes that she 
was glad that she had endured that martyr 
dom for Lute s sake. 



245 




talft 




anta 



JOEL S TALK WITH SANTA GLAUS 



ONE Christmas eve Joel Baker was in a 
most unhappy mood. He was lone 
some and miserable; the chimes making 
merry Christmas music outside disturbed 
rather than soothed him, the jingle of the 
sleigh-bells fretted him, and the shrill whist 
ling of the wind around the corners of the 
house and up and down the chimney seemed 
to grate harshly on his ears. 

" Humph," said Joel, wearily, "Christmas 
is nothin to me; there was a time when it 
meant a great deal, but that was long ago 
fifty years is a long stretch to look back 
over. There is nothin in Christmas now, 
nothin for me at least; it is so long since 
Santa Glaus remembered me that I venture 
to say he has forgotten that there ever was 
such a person as Joel Baker in all the world. 
It used to be different; Santa Glaus used to 

249 



THE HOLY CROSS 

think a great deal of me when I was a boy. 
Ah! Christmas nowadays ain t what it was 
in the good old time no, not what it used 
to be." 

As Joel was absorbed in his distressing 
thoughts he became aware very suddenly 
that somebody was entering or trying to 
enter the room. First came a draft of cold 
air, then a scraping, grating sound, then a 
strange shuffling, and then, yes, then, all 
at once, Joel saw a pair of fat legs and a still 
fatter body dangle down the chimney, fol 
lowed presently by a long white beard, 
above which appeared a jolly red nose and 
two bright twinkling eyes, while over the 
head and forehead was drawn a fur cap, 
white with snowflakes. 

" Ha, ha," chuckled the fat, jolly stranger, 
emerging from the chimney and standing 
well to one side of the hearthstone; "ha, 
ha, they don t have the big, wide chimneys 
they used to build, but they can t keep Santa 
Glaus out no, they can t keep Santa Glaus 
out! Ha, ha, ha. Though the chimney 
were no bigger than a gas pipe, Santa Glaus 
would slide down it! " 

250 



AND OTHER TALES 

It didn t require a second glance to assure 
Joel that the new-comer was indeed Santa 
Glaus. Joel knew the good old saint oh, 
yes and he had seen him once before, and, 
although that was when Joel was a little 
boy, he had never forgotten how Santa 
Glaus looked. 

Nor had Santa Glaus forgotten Joel, al 
though Joel thought he had ; for now Santa 
Glaus looked kindly at Joel and smiled and 
said: " Merry Christmas to you, Joel! " 

" Thank you, old Santa Glaus," replied 
Joel, " but I don t believe it s going to be a 
very merry Christmas. It s been so long 
since I Ve had a merry Christmas that I 
don t believe I d know how to act if I had 
one." 

"Let s see," said Santa Glaus, "it must 
be going on fifty years since I saw you last 
yes, you were eight years old the last 
time I slipped down the chimney of the old 
homestead and filled your stocking. Do 
you remember it ? " 

"I remember it well," answered Joel. "I 
had made up my mind to lie awake and see 
Santa Glaus; I had heard tell of you, but 

251 



THE HOLY CROSS 

I d never seen you, and Brother Otis and I 
concluded we d lie awake and watch for 
you to come. 

Santa Glaus shook his head reproachfully. 

"That was very wrong," said he, "for 
I m so scarey that if I d known you boys 
were awake I d never have come down the 
chimney at all, and then you d have had 
no presents." 

"But Otis could n t keep awake," ex 
plained Joel. " We talked about every thin 
we could think of, till father called out to 
us that if we did n t stop talking he d have 
to send one of us up into the attic to sleep 
with the hired man. So in less than five 
minutes Otis was sound asleep and no 
pinching could wake him up. But / was 
bound to see Santa Glaus and I don t believe 
anything would ve put me to sleep. I 
heard the big clock in the sitting-room strike 
eleven, and I had begun wonderin if you 
never were going to come, when all of a 
sudden I heard the tinkle of the bells around 
your reindeers necks. Then I heard the 
reindeers prancin on the roof and the sound 
of your sleigh-runners cuttin through the 



AND OTHER TALES 

crust and slippin over the shingles. I was 
kind o scared and I covered my head up 
with the sheet and quilts only I left a little 
hole so I could peek out and see what was 
goin on. As soon as I saw you I got over 
bein scared for you were jolly and smilin 
like, and you chuckled as you went around 
to each stockin and filled it up." 

Yes, I can remember the night, " said Santa 
Glaus. " I brought you a sled, did n t I ?" 

"Yes, and you brought Otis one, too, 
replied Joel. "Mine was red and had Yan 
kee Doodle painted in black letters on 
the side; Otis was black and had Snow 
Queen in gilt letters." 

"I remember those sleds distinctly," said 
Santa Glaus, "for I made them specially for 
you boys. 

"You set the sleds up against the wall," 
continued Joel, "and then you filled the 
stockin s." 

"There were six of em, as I recollect?" 
said Santa Glaus. 

" Let me see," queried Joel. " There was 
mine, and Otis , and Elvira s, and Thank- 
ful s, and Susan Prickett s Susan was our 

253 



THE HOLY CROSS 

help, you know. No, there were only five, 
and, as I remember, they were the biggest 
we could beg or borrer of Aunt Dorcas, who 
weighed nigh unto two hundred pounds. 
Otis and I did n t like Susan Prickett, and we 
were hopin you d put a cold potato in her 
stockin ." 

"But Susan was a good girl, remon 
strated Santa Glaus. " You know I put cold 
potatoes only in the stockin s of boys and 
girls who are bad and don t believe in Santa 
Glaus." 

* At any rate, " said Joel, you filled all the 
stockin s with candy and pop-corn and nuts 
and raisins, and 1 can remember you said 
you were afraid you d run out of pop-corn 
balls before you got around. Then you left 
each of us a book. Elvira got the best one, 
which was The Garland of Frien ship, and 
had poems in it about the bleeding of hearts, 
and so forth. Father was n t expectin any 
thing, but you left him a new pair of mittens, 
and mother got a new fur boa to wear to 
meetinV 

"Of course/ said Santa Glaus, "I never 
forgot father and mother." 

254 



AND OTHER TALES 

"Well, it was as much as I could do to 
lay still," continued Joel, "for I d been long- 
in for a sled, an the sight of that red sled 
with Yankee Doodle painted on it jest 
made me wild. But, somehow or other, I 
began to get powerful sleepy all at once, and 
I could n t keep my eyes open. The next 
thing I knew Otis was nudgin me in the 
ribs. Git up, Joel, says he; it s Chris - 
mas an Santa Glaus has been here. Merry 
Christ mas! Merry Chris mas! we cried as 
we tumbled out o bed. Then Elvira an* 
Thankful came in, not more n half dressed, 
and Susan came in, too, an we just made 
Rome howl with Merry Chris mas! Merry 
Chris mas ! to each other. Ef you children 
don t make less noise in there, cried father, 
I 11 hev to send you all back to bed/ The 
idea of askin boys an girls to keep quiet on 
Chris mas mornin when they Ve got new 
sleds an Garlands of Friendship ! " 

Santa Glaus chuckled; his rosy cheeks 
fairly beamed joy. 

"Otis an I did n t want any breakfast," 
said Joel. "We made up our minds that a 
stockin ful of candy and pop-corn and rai- 

25*5 



THE HOLY CROSS 

sins would stay us for a while. I do believe 
there was n t buckwheat cakes enough in 
the township to keep us indoors that morn- 
in ; buckwheat cakes don t size up much 
longside of a red sled with Yankee Doodle 
painted onto it and a black sled named Snow 
Queen. We did n t care how cold it was 
so much the better for slidin down hill! All 
the boys had new sleds Lafe Dawson, Bill 
Holbrook, Gum Adams, Rube Playford, Le- 
ander Merrick, Ezra Purple all on em had 
new sleds excep Martin Peavey, and he said 
he calculated Santa Glaus had skipped him 
this year cause his father had broke his leg 
haulin logs from the Pelham woods and 
had been kep indoors six weeks. But Mar 
tin had his ol sled, and he didn t hev to ask 
any odds of any of us, neither." 

" I brought Martin a sled the next Christ 
mas," said Santa Glaus. 

"Like as not but did you ever slide 
down hill, Santa Glaus ? I don t mean such 
hills as they hev out here in this new coun 
try, but one of them old-fashioned New 
England hills that was made specially for 
boys to slide down, full of bumpers an 



AND OTHER TALES 

thank-ye-marms, and about ten times longer 
comin up than it is goin down ! The wind 
blew in our faces and almos took our breath 
away. Merry Chris mas to ye, little boys ! 
it seemed to say, and it untied our mufflers 
an whirled the snow in our faces, just as if it 
was a boy, too, an wanted to play with us. 
An ol crow came flappin over us from the 
corn field beyond the meadow. He said: 
Caw, caw, when he saw my new sled 
I s pose he d never seen a red one before. 
Otis had a hard time with his sled the 
black one- -an he wondered why it would 
n t go as fast as mine would. Hev you 
scraped the paint off n the runners ? " asked 
Wralsey Goodnow. Course I hev, said 
Otis; broke my own knife an Lute Ingra- 
ham s a-doin it, but it don t seem to make 
no difrence- -the darned ol thing won t 
go! Then, what did Simon Buzzell say 
but that, like s not, it was because Otis s 
sled s name was Snow Queen. Never 
did see a girl sled that was worth a cent, 
anyway, sez Simon. Well, now, that jest 
about broke Otis up in business. It ain t a 
girl sled, sez he, and its name ain t "Snow 

257 



THE HOLY CROSS 

Queen " ! I m a-goin to call it Dan l Web 
ster," or "Ol ver Optic," or "Sheriff Rob- 
bins, "or after some other big man! An the 
boys plagued him so much about that pesky 
girl sled that he scratched off the name, an , 
as I remember, it did go better after that! 

" About the only thing," continued Joel, 
"that marred the harmony of the occasion, 
as the editor of the Hampshire County Phoe 
nix used to say, was the ashes that Deacon 
Morris Frisbie sprinkled out in front of his 
house. He said he was n t going to have 
folks breakin their necks jest on account of 
a lot of frivolous boys that was goin to the 
gallows as fas as they could ! Oh, how we 
hated him ! and we d have snowballed him, 
too, if we had n t been afraid of the constable 
that lived next door. But the ashes did n t 
bother us much, and every time we slid side 
saddle we d give the ashes a kick, and that 
sort of scattered em. 

The bare thought of this made Santa Glaus 
laugh. 

"Coin on about nine o clock," said Joel, 
"the girls come along Sister Elvira an 
Thankful, Prudence Tucker, Belle Yocum, 

258 



AND OTHER TALES 

Sophrone Holbrook, Sis Hubbard, an Marthy 
Sawyer. Marthy s brother Increase wanted 
her to ride on bis sled, but Marthy allowed 
that a red sled was her choice every time. 
* I don t see how I m goin to hold on/ said 
Marthy. Seems as if I would hev my hands 
full keepin my things from bio win away. 
Don t worry about yourself, Marthy, sez I, 
for if you 11 look after your things, I kind 
o calc late I 11 manage not to lose you on 
the way. Dear Marthy seems as if I could 
see you now, with your tangled hair a-blow- 
in in the wind, your eyes all bright and 
sparklin , an your cheeks as red as apples. 
Seems, too, as if I could hear you laughin 
an callin , jist as you did as I toiled up the 
old New England hill that Chris mas morn- 
in a callin : Joel, Joel, Joel ain t ye ever 
comin , Joel? But the hill is long and 
steep, Marthy, an Joel ain t the boy he used 
to be; he s old, an gray, an feeble, but 
there s love an faith in his heart, an they 
kind o keep him totterin tow rds the voice 
he hears a-callin : Joel, Joel, Joel! " 

"I know I see it all," murmured Santa 
Glaus, very softly. 

259 



THE HOLY CROSS 

"Oh, that was so long ago," sighed Joel; 
"so very long ago! And I ve had no 
Chris mas since only once, when our little 
one Marthy s an mine you remember 
him, Santa Glaus ?" 

"Yes," said Santa Glaus, "a toddling lit 
tle boy with blue eyes " 

Like his mother, " interrupted Joel ; "an 
he was like her, too so gentle an lovin , 
only we called him Joel, for that was my 
father s name and it kind o run in the fam ly. 
He wa n t more n three years old when you 
came with your Chris mas presents for him, 
Santa Glaus. We had told him about you, 
and he used to go to the chimney every night 
and make a little prayer about what he wanted 
you to bring him. And you brought em, 
too a stick-horse, an a picture-book, an* 
some blocks, an a drum they re on the 
shelf in the closet there, and his little Chris 
mas stockin with em I ve saved em all, 
an I ve taken em down an held em in my 
hands, oh, so many times! 

"But when I came again," said Santa 
Claus 

" His little bed was empty, an I was alone. 

260 



AND OTHER TALES 

It killed his mother Marthy was so tender 
hearted; she kind o drooped an pined after 
that. So now they ve been asleep side by 
side in the buryin -ground these thirty years. 

"That s why I m so sad-like whenever 
Chris mas comes," said Joel, after a pause. 
"The thinkin of long ago makes me bitter 
almost. It s so different now from what it 
used to be." 

"No, Joel, oh, no," said Santa Glaus. 
"T is the same world, and human nature 
is the same and always will be. But Christ 
mas is for the little folks, and you, who are 
old and grizzled now, must know it and love 
it only through the gladness it brings the lit 
tle ones." 

"True," groaned Joel; "but how may I 
know and feel this gladness when I have 
no little stocking hanging in my chimney 
corner no child to please me with his 
prattle? See, I am alone. 

"No, you re not alone, Joel," said Santa 
Glaus. "There are children in this great 
city who would love and bless you for your 
goodness if you but touched their hearts. 
Make them happy, Joel; send by me this 

261 



THE HOLY CROSS 

night some gift to the little boy in the old 
house yonder he is poor and sick; a simple 
toy will fill his Christmas with gladness." 

"His little sister, too take her some 
present/ said Joel; "make them happy for 
me, Santa Glaus you are right make them 
happy for me." 

How sweetly Joel slept ! When he awoke, 
the sunlight streamed in through the window 
and seemed to bid him a merry Christmas. 
How contented and happy Joel felt ! It must 
have been the talk with Santa Claus that did 
it all; he had never known a sweeter sense 
of peace. A little girl came out of the house 
over the way. She had a new doll in her 
arms, and she sang a merry little song and 
she laughed with joy as she skipped along 
the street. Ay, and at the window sat the 
little sick boy, and the toy Santa Claus left 
him seemed to have brought him strength 
and health, for his eyes sparkled and his 
cheeks glowed, and it was plain to see his 
heart was full of happiness. 

And, oh! how the chimes did ring out, 
and how joyfully they sang their Christmas 
carol that morning ! They sang of Bethlehem 



262 



AND OTHER TALES 

and the manger and the Babe; they sang of 
love and charity, till all the Christmas air 
seemed full of angel voices. 

Carol of the Christmas morn 
Carol of the Christ-child born 

Carol to the listening sky 
Till it echoes back again 
* Glory be to God on high, 
Peace on earth, good will tow rd men ! " 

So all this music the carol of the chimes, 
the sound of children s voices, the smile of 
the poor little boy over the way all this 
sweet music crept into Joel s heart that Christ 
mas morning; yes, and with these sweet, 
holy influences came others so subtile and 
divine that, in its silent communion with 
them, Joel s heart cried out amen and amen 
to the glory of the Christmas time. 



263 



Sittfe 




THE LONESOME LITTLE SHOE 



THE clock was in ill humor; so was the 
vase. It was all on account of the lit 
tle shoe that had been placed on the mantel 
piece that day,and had done nothing but sigh 
dolorously all the afternoon and evening. 

"Look you here, neighbor," quoth the 
clock, in petulant tones, "you are sadly mis 
taken if you think you will be permitted to 
disturb our peace and harmony with your 
constant sighs and groans. If you are ill, 
pray let us know ; otherwise, have done with 
your manifestations of distress." 

"Possibly you do not know what befell 
the melancholy plaque that intruded his pres 
ence upon us last week/ said the vase. 
"We pitched him off the mantelpiece, and 
he was shattered into a thousand bits." 

The little shoe gave a dreadful shudder. 

267 



THE HOLY CROSS 

It could not help thinking it had fallen among 
inhospitable neighbors. It began to cry. 
The brass candlestick took pity on the sob 
bing thing, and declared with some show 
of temper that the little shoe should not be 
imposed on. 

"Now tell us why you are so full of sad 
ness/ said the brass candlestick. 

tf I do not know how to explain," whim 
pered the little shoe. " You see I am quite 
a young thing, albeit I have a rusty appear 
ance and there is a hole in my toes and my 
heel is badly run over. I feel so lonesome 
and friendless and sort of neglected-like, that 
it seems as if there were nothing for me to 
do but sigh and grieve and weep all day 
long." 

" Sighing and weeping do no good," re 
marked the vase, philosophically. 

" I know that very well," replied the little 
shoe; "but once I was so happy that my 
present lonesome lot oppresses me all the 
more grievously. 

"You say you once were happy pray 
tell us all about it," demanded the brass can 
dlestick. 

268 



AND OTHER TALES 

The vase was eager to hear the little shoe s 
story, and even the proud, haughty clock 
expressed a willingness to listen. The match 
box came from the other end of the mantel 
piece, and the pen-wiper, the paper-cutter, 
and the cigar-case gathered around the little 
shoe, and urged it to proceed with its nar 
rative. 

"The first thing I can remember in my 
short life," said the little shoe, "was being 
taken from a large box in which there were 
many of my kind thrown together in great 
confusion. I found myself tied with a slen 
der cord to a little mate, a shoe so very like 
me that you could not have told us apart. 
We two were taken and put in a large win 
dow in the midst of many grown-up shoes, 
and we had nothing to do but gaze out of 
the window all day long into the wide, busy 
street. That was a very pleasant life. Some 
times the sunbeams would dance through 
the window-panes and play at hide-and-seek 
all over me and my little mate; they would 
kiss and caress us, and we learned to love 
them very much they were so warm and 
gentle and merrisome. Sometimes the rain- 

269 



THE HOLY CROSS 

drops would patter against the window- 
panes, singing wild songs to us, and clam 
oring to break through and destroy us with 
their eagerness. When night came, we 
could see stars away up in the dark sky wink 
ing at us, and very often the old mother 
moon stole out from behind a cloud to give 
us a kindly smile. The wind used to sing 
us lullabies, and in one corner of our window 
there was a little open space where the mice 
gave a grand ball every night to the music 
of the crickets and a blind frog. Altogether 
we had a merry time." 

" I d have liked it all but the wind," said 
the brass candlestick. "I don t know why 
it is, but I m dreadfully put out by the hor 
rid old wind!" 

" Many people," continued the little shoe, 
"used to stop and look in at the window, 
and I believe my little mate and I were ad 
mired more than any of our larger and more 
pretentious companions. I can remember 
there was a pair of red-top boots that was 
exceedingly jealous of us. But that did not 
last long, for one day a very sweet lady came 
and peered in at the window and smiled 

270 



AND OTHER TALES 

very joyously when she saw me and my 
little mate. Then I remember we were 
taken from the window, and the lady held 
us in her hands and examined us very 
closely, and measured our various dimen 
sions with a string, and finally, I remember, 
she said she would carry us home. We did 
not know what that meant, only we realized 
that we would never live in the shop win 
dow again, and we were loath to be sepa 
rated from the sunbeams and the mice and 
the other friends that had been so kind to us. " 

" What a droll little shoe ! " exclaimed the 
vase. Whereupon the clock frowned and 
ticked a warning to the vase not to inter 
rupt the little shoe in the midst of its divert 
ing narrative. 

"It is not necessary for me to tell you 
how we were wrapped in paper and carried 
a weary distance," said the little shoe; "it is 
sufficient to my purpose to say that, after 
what seemed to us an interminable journey 
and a cruel banging around, we were taken 
from the paper and found ourselves in a quiet, 
cozy room- yes, in this very apartment 
where we all are now! The sweet lady 

271 



THE HOLY CROSS 

held us in her lap, and at the sweet lady s 
side stood a little child, gazing at us with 
an expression of commingled astonishment, 
admiration, and glee. We knew the little 
child belonged to the sweet lady, and from 
the talk we heard we knew that henceforth 
the child was to be our little master." 

As if some sudden anguish came upon it, 
hushing its speech, the little shoe paused in 
its narrative. The others said never a word. 
Perhaps it was because they were beginning 
to understand. The proud, haughty clock 
seemed to be less imperious for the moment, 
and its ticking was softer and more rever 
ential. 

From that time," resumed the little shoe, 
" our little master and we were inseparable 
during all the happy day. We played and 
danced with him and wandered everywhere 
through the grass, over the carpets, down 
the yard, up the street ay, everywhere our 
little master went, we went too, sharing 
his pretty antics and making music every 
where. Then, when evening came and little 
master was put to sleep, in yonder crib, we 
were set on the warm carpet near his bed 

272 



AND OTHER TALES 

where we could watch him while he slept, 
and bid him good-morrow when the morn 
ing came. Those were pleasant nights, too, 
for no sooner had little master fallen asleep 
than the fairies came trooping through the 
keyholes and fluttering down the chimney 
to dance over his eyes all night long, giving 
him happy dreams, and filling his baby ears 
with sweetest music." 

"What a curious conceit! " said the pen 
wiper. 

"And is it true that fairies dance on chil 
dren s eyelids at night?" asked the paper- 
cutter. 

"Certainly," the clock chimed in, "and 
they sing very pretty lullabies and very cun 
ning operettas, too. I myself have seen and 
heard them." 

"I should like to hear a fairy operetta," 
suggested the pen-wiper. 

" I remember one the fairies sang my little 
master as they danced over his eyelids," 
said the little shoe, "and I will repeat it if 
you wish." 

"Nothing would please me more," said 
the pen-wiper. 

273 



THE HOLY CROSS 

"Then you must know," said the little 
shoe, "that, as soon as my master fell 
asleep, the fairies would make their appear 
ance, led by their queen, a most beautiful 
and amiable little lady no bigger than a cam 
bric needle. Assembling on the pillow of 
the crib, they would order their minstrels 
and orchestra to seat themselves on little 
master s forehead. The minstrels invariably 
were the cricket, the flea, the katydid, and 
the gnat, while the orchestra consisted of 
mosquitos, bumblebees, and wasps. Once 
in a great while, on very important occa 
sions, the fairies would bring the old blind 
hop-toad down the chimney and set him on 
the window-sill, where he would discourse 
droll ditties to the infinite delight of his 
hearers. But on ordinary occasions, the 
fairy queen, whose name was Taffie, would 
lead the performance in these pleasing words, 
sung to a very dulcet air: 

AN INVITATION TO SLEEP 

Little eyelids, cease your winking; 

Little orbs, forget to beam ; 
Little soul, to slumber sinking, 

Let the fairies rule your dream. 

274 



AND OTHER TALES 

Breezes, through the lattice sweeping, 

Sing their lullabies the while 
And a star-ray, softly creeping 

To thy bedside, woos thy smile. 
But no song nor ray entrancing 

Can allure thee from the spell 
Of the tiny fairies dancing 

O er the eyes they love so well. 
See, we come in countless number 

I, their queen, and all my court 
Haste, my precious one, to slumber 

Which invites our fairy sport. 

"At the conclusion of this song Prince 
Whimwham, a tidy little gentleman fairy in 
pink silk small-clothes, approaching Queen 
Taffie and bowing graciously, would say: 

Pray, lady, may I have the pleasure 
Of leading you this stately measure ? 

To which her majesty would reply with 
equal graciousness in the affirmative. Then 
Prince Whimwham and Queen Taffie would 
take their places on one of my master s eye 
lids, and the other gentleman fairies and 
lady fairies would follow their example, till 
at last my master s face would seem to be 

275 



THE HOLY CROSS 

alive with these delightful little beings. 
The mosquitos would blow a shrill blast 
on their trumpets, the orchestra would 
strike up, and then the festivities would 
begin in earnest. How the bumblebees 
would drone, how the wasps would buzz, 
and how the mosquitos would blare! It 
was a delightful harmony of weird sounds. 
The strange little dancers floated hither and 
thither over my master s baby face, as light 
as thistledowns, and as graceful as the 
slender plumes they wore in their hats and 
bonnets. Presently they would weary of 
dancing, and then the minstrels would be 
commanded to entertain them. Invariably 
the flea, who was a rattle-headed fellow, 
would discourse some such incoherent song 
as this: 

COQUETRY 

Tiddle-de-dumpty, tiddle-de-dee 
The spider courted the frisky flea ; 
Tiddle-de-dumpty, tiddle-de-doo 
The flea ran off with the bugaboo! 

"Oh, tiddle-de-dee!" 
* 

Said the frisky flea 
276^ 



AND OTHER TALES 

For what cared she 
For the miseree 
The spider knew, 
When, tiddle-de-doo, 
The flea ran off with the bugaboo! 

Rumpty-tumpty, pimplety-pan 
The flubdub courted a catamaran 
But timplety-topplety, timpity-tare 
The flubdub wedded the big blue bear! 

The fun began 

With a pimplety-pan 

When the catamaran, 

Tore up a man 

And streaked the air 

With his gore and hair 
Because the flubdub wedded the bear! 

" I remember with what dignity the fairy 
queen used to reprove the flea for his inane 
levity : 

Nay, futile flea ; these verses you are making 
Disturb the child for, see, he is awaking! 
Come, little cricket, sing your quaintest numbers, 
And they, perchance, shall lull him back to slumbers. 

" Upon this invitation the cricket, who 
is justly one of the most famous songsters 

277 



THE HOLY CROSS 



in the world, would get his pretty voice in 



tune and sing as follows: 



THE CRICKET S SONG 

When all around from out the ground 

The little flowers are peeping, 
And from the hills the merry rills 

With vernal songs are leaping, 
1 sing my song the whole day long 

In woodland, hedge, and thicket 
And sing it, too, the whole night through, 

For I m a merry cricket. 

The children hear my chirrup clear 

As, in the woodland straying, 
They gather flow rs through summer hours 

And then I hear them saying: 
" Sing, sing away the livelong day, 

Glad songster of the thicket 
With your shrill mirth yon gladden earth, 

You merry little cricket ! 

When summer goes, and Christmas snows 

Are from the north returning, 
I quit my lair and hasten where 

The old yule-log is burning. 
And where at night the ruddy light 

Of that old log is flinging 
A genial joy o er girl and boy, 

There I resume my singing. 

278 



AND OTHER TALES 

And, when they hear my chirrup clear, 

The children stop their playing 
With eager feet they haste to greet 

My welcome music, saying: 
" The little thing has come to sing 

Of woodland, hedge, and thicket 
Of summer day and lambs at play 

Oh, how we love the cricket! 

" This merry little song always seemed to 
please everybody except the gnat. The fair 
ies appeared to regard the gnat as a pestifer 
ous insect, but a contemptuous pity led them 
to call upon him for a recitation, which in 
variably was in the following strain : 



THE FATE OF THE FLIMFLAM 

A flimflam flopped from a fillamaloo, 

Where the pollywog pinkled so pale, 
And the pipkin piped a petulant " pooh 

To the garrulous gawp of the gale. 
"Oh, woe to the swap of the sweeping swipe 

That booms on the bobbling bay! 
Snickered the snark to the snoozing snipe 

That lurked where the lamprey lay. 

The gluglug glinked in the glimmering gloam, 
Where the buzbuz bumbled his bee 

279 



THE HOLY CROSS 

When the flimflam flitted, all flecked with foam, 
From the sozzling and succulent sea. 

" Oh, swither the swipe, with its sweltering 

sweep! 
She swore as she swayed in a swoon, 

And a doleful dank dumped over the deep, 
To the lay of the limpid loon! 

"This was simply horrid, as you all will 
allow. The queen and her fairy followers 
were much relieved when the honest katy 
did narrated a pleasant moral in the form of 
a ballad to this effect: 



CONTENTMENT 

Once on a time an old red hen 

Went strutting round with pompous clucks, 
For she had little babies ten, 

A part of which were tiny ducks. 
" T is very rare that hens," said she, 

" Have baby ducks as well as chicks 
But I possess, as you can see, 

Of chickens four and ducklings six! 

A season later, this old hen 

Appeared, still cackling of her luck, 

For, though she boasted babies ten, 
Not one among them was a duck! 

280 



AND OTHER. TALES 

"T is well," she murmured, brooding o er 
The little chicks of fleecy down 

1 My babies now will stay ashore, 
And, consequently, cannot drown! 

The following spring the old red hen 

Clucked just as proudly as of yore 
But lo! her babes were ducklings ten, 

Instead of chickens, as before! 
" T is better," said the old red hen, 

As she surveyed her waddling brood; 
1 A little water now and then 

Will surely do my darlings good!" 

But oh! alas, how very sad! 

When gentle spring rolled round again 
The eggs eventuated bad, 

And childless was the old red hen! 
Yet patiently she bore her woe, 

And still she wore a cheerful air, 
And said: " T is best these things are so, 

For babies are a dreadful care ! " 

I half suspect that many men, 

And many, many women, too, 
Could learn a lesson from the hen 

With foliage of vermilion hue; 
She ne er presumed to take offence 

At any fate that might befall, 
But meekly bowed to Providence 

She was contented that was all! 

281 



THE HOLY CROSS 

"Then the fairies would resume their 
dancing. Each little gentleman fairy would 
bow to his lady fairy and sing in the most 
musical of voices: 

Sweet little fairy, 

Tender and airy, 
Come, let us dance on the good baby-eyes; 

Merrily skipping, 

Cheerily tripping, 
Murmur we ever our soft lullabies. 

"And then, as the rest danced, the fairy 
queen sang the following slumber-song, ac 
companied by the orchestra: 

A FAIRY LULLABY 

There are two stars in yonder steeps 
That watch the baby while he sleeps. 
But while the baby is awake 

And singing gayly all day long, 
The little stars their slumbers take 
Lulled by the music of his song. 
So sleep, dear tired baby, sleep 
While little stars their vigils keep. 

Beside his loving mother-sheep 
A little lambkin is asleep; 

282 



AND OTHER TALES 

What does he know of midnight gloom 

He sleeps, and in his quiet dreams 
He thinks he plucks the clover bloom 

And drinks at cooling, purling streams. 
And those same stars the baby knows 
Sing softly to the lamb s repose. 

Sleep, little lamb; sleep, little child 
The stars are dim the night is wild ; 
But o er the cot and o er the lea 

A sleepless eye forever beams 
A shepherd watches over thee 

In all thy little baby dreams; 
The shepherd loves his tiny sheep 
Sleep, precious little lambkin, sleep! 



" That is very pretty, indeed ! " exclaimed 
the brass candlestick. 

"So it is," replied the little shoe, "but 
you should hear it sung by the fairy queen ! " 

" Did the operetta end with that lullaby ? " 
inquired the cigar-case. 

"Oh, no," said the little shoe. "No 
sooner had the queen finished her lullaby 
than an old gran ma fairy, wearing a quaint 
mob-cap and large spectacles, limped for 
ward with her crutch and droned out a cu 
rious ballad, which seemed to be for the 

283 



THE HOLY CROSS 

special benefit of the boy and girl fairies, 
very many of whom were of the company. 
This ballad was as follows : 

BALLAD OF THE JELLY-CAKE 

A little boy whose name was Tim 

Once ate some jelly-cake for tea 
Which cake did not agree with him, 

As by the sequel you shall see. 
11 My darling child," his mother said, 

" Pray do not eat that jelly-cake, 
For, after you have gone to bed, 

I fear t will make your stomach ache! : 
But foolish little Tim demurred 
Unto his mother s warning word. 

That night, while all the household slept, 
Tim felt an awful pain, and then 

From out the dark a nightmare leapt 

And stood upon his abdomen ! 
I cannot breathe! " the infant cried 
Oh, Mrs. Nightmare, pity take! 
There is no mercy," she replied, 
" For boys who feast on jelly-cake! 

And so, despite the moans of Tim, 

The cruel nightmare went for him. 

At first, she d tickle Timmy s toes 
Or roughly smite his baby cheek 

284 



AND OTHER TALES 

And now she d rudely tweak his nose 
And other petty vengeance wreak; 

And then, with hobnails in her shoes 
And her two horrid eyes aflame, 

The mare proceeded to amuse 

Herself by prancing o er his frame 

First to his throbbing brow, and then 

Back to his little feet again. 

At last, fantastic, wild, and weird, 

And clad in garments ghastly grim, 
A scowling hoodoo band appeared 

And joined in worrying little Tim. 
Each member of this hoodoo horde 

Surrounded Tim with fierce ado 
And with long, cruel gimlets bored 

His aching system through and through, 
And while they labored all night long 
The nightmare neighed a dismal song. 

Next morning, looking pale and wild, 

Poor little Tim emerged from bed 
" Good gracious ! what can ail the child ! " 

His agitated mother said. 
" We live to learn," responded he, 

" And I have lived to learn to take 
Plain bread and butter for my tea, 

And never, never, jelly-cake ! 
For when my hulk with pastry teems, 
I must expect unpleasant dreams ! 

285 



THE HOLY CROSS 

you can imagine this ballad im 
pressed the child fairies very deeply," con 
tinued the little shoe. "Whenever the 
gran ma fairy sang it, the little fairies ex 
pressed great surprise that boys and girls 
ever should think of eating things which 
occasioned so much trouble. So the night 
was spent in singing and dancing, and our 
master would sleep as sweetly as you please. 
At last the lark- what a beautiful bird she 
is would flutter against the window panes, 
and give the fairies warning in these words: 

MORNING SONG 

The eastern sky is streaked with red, 

The weary night is done, 
And from his distant ocean bed 

Rolls up the morning sun. 
The dew, like tiny silver beads 

Bespread o er velvet green, 
Is scattered on the wakeful meads 

By angel hands unseen. 
11 Good-morrow, robin in the trees ! " 

The star-eyed daisy cries ; 
" Good-morrow," sings the morning breeze 

Unto the ruddy skies; 
" Good-morrow, every living thing ! 

Kind Nature seems to say, 

286 



AND OTHER TALES 

And all her works devoutly sing 

A hymn to birth of day, 

So, haste, without delay. 
Haste, fairy friends, on silver wing, 

And to your homes away ! 

"But the fairies could never leave little 
master so unceremoniously. Before betak 
ing themselves to their pretty homes under 
the rocks near the brook, they would ad 
dress a parting song to his eyes, and this 
song they called a matin invocation : 

TO A SLEEPING BABY S EYES 

And thou, twin orbs of love and joy ! 

Unveil thy glories with the morn 
Dear eyes, another day is born 

Awake, O little sleeping boy ! 

Bright are the summer morning skies, 
But in this quiet little room 
There broods a chill, oppressive gloom 

All for the brightness of thine eyes. 

Without those radiant orbs of thine 

How dark this little world would be 
This sweet home-world that worships thee 

So let their wondrous glories shine 

On those who love their warmth and joy 

Awake, O sleeping little boy. 

287 



THE HOLY CROSS 

" So that ended the fairy operetta, did it ? " 
inquired the match-box. 

"Yes," said the little shoe, with a sigh 
of regret. " The fairies were such bewitch 
ing creatures, and they sang so sweetly, I 
could have wished they would never stop 
their antics and singing. But, alas ! I fear I 
shall never see them again." 

"What makes you think so ? " asked the 
brass candlestick. 

" I m sure I can t tell," replied the little 
shoe; "only everything is so strange-like 
and so changed from what it used to be that 
I hardly know whether indeed I am still the 
same little shoe I used to be." 

Why, what can you mean ? " queried the 
old clock, with a puzzled look on her face. 

" I will try to tell you, " said the little shoe. 
"You see, my mate and our master and I 
were great friends ; as I have said, we roamed 
and frolicked around together all day, and 
at night my little mate and I watched at 
master s bedside while he slept. One day 
we three took a long ramble, away up the 
street and beyond where the houses were 
built; until we came into a beautiful green 

288 



AND OTHER TALES 

field, where the grass was very tall and green, 
and where there were pretty flowers of every 
kind. Our little master talked to the flowers 
and they answered him, and we all had a 
merry time in the meadow that afternoon, 
I can tell you. Don t go away, little child, 
cried the daisies, * but stay and be our 
playfellow always. A butterfly came and 
perched on our master s hand, and looked 
up and smiled, and said : * I m not afraid of 
you ; you would n t hurt me, would you ? 
A little mouse told us there was a thrush s 
nest in the bush yonder, and we hurried to 
see it. The lady thrush was singing her 
four babies to sleep. They were strange- 
looking babies, with their gaping mouths, 
bulbing eyes, and scant feathers! Do not 
wake them up, protested the lady thrush. 
Go a little further on and you will come to 
the brook. I will join you presently. So 
we went to the brook. 

"Oh, but I would have been afraid," sug 
gested the pen-wiper. 

" Afraid of the brook! " cried the little shoe. 
"Oh, no; what could be prettier than the 
brook ! We heard it singing in the distance. 

289 



THE HOLY CROSS 

We called to it and it bade us welcome. 
How it smiled in the sunshine ! How restless 
and furtive and nimble it was, yet full of 
merry prattling and noisy song. Our master 
was overjoyed. He had never seen the 
brook before; nor had we, for that matter. 
Let me cool your little feet, said the brook, 
and, without replying, our master waded 
knee-deep into the brook. In an instant we 
were wet through- -my mate and I; but 
how deliciously cool it was here in the 
brook, and how smooth and bright the peb 
bles were ! One of the pebbles told me it had 
come many, many miles that day from its 
home in the hills where the brook was born. 

"Pooh, I don t believe it," sneered the 
vase. 

" Presently our master toddled back from 
out the brook," continued the little shoe, 
heedless of the vase s interruption, "and sat 
among the cowslips and buttercups on the 
bank. The brook sang on as merrily as be 
fore. Would you like to go sailing ? asked 
our master of my mate. Indeed I would, 
replied my mate, and so our master pulled 
my mate from his little foot and set it afloat 

290 



AND OTHER TALES 

upon the dancing waves of the brook. My 
mate was not the least alarmed. It spun 
around gayly several times at first and then 
glided rapidly away. The butterfly hastened 
and alighted upon the merry little craft. 
Where are you going? 1 cried. I am 
going down to the sea/ replied my little 
mate, with laughter. And I am going to 
marry the rose in the far-away south, cried 
the butterfly. But will you not come back ? 
I cried. They answered me, but they were 
so far away I could not hear them. It was 
very distressing, and I grieved exceedingly. 
Then, all at once, I discovered my little 
master was asleep, fast asleep among the 
cowslips and buttercups. I did not try to 
wake him only I felt very miserable, for I 
was so cold and wet. Presently the lady 
thrush came, as she had said she would. 
The child is asleep he will be ill I 
must hasten to tell his mother, she cried, 
and away she flew. 

" And was he sick ? " asked the vase. 

" I do not know," said the little shoe. "1 
can remember it was late that evening when 
the sweet lady and others came and took us 

291 



THE HOLY CROSS 

up and carried us back home, to this very room. 
Then I was pulled off very unceremoniously 
and thrown under my little master s bed, and 
I never saw my little master after that. 

"How very strange!" exclaimed the 
match-safe. 

"Very, very strange," repeated the shoe. 
" For many days and nights I lay under the 
crib all alone. I could hear my little master 
sighing and talking as if in a dream. Some 
times he spoke of me, and of the brook, and 
of my little mate dancing to the sea, and one 
night he breathed very loud and quick and 
he cried out and seemed to struggle, and 
then, all at once, he stopped, and I could hear 
the sweet lady weeping. But I remember 
all this very faintly. I was hoping the fair 
ies would come back, but they never came. 

"I remember," resumed the little shoe, 
after a solemn pause, "I remember how, 
after a long, long time, the sweet lady came 
and drew me from under the crib and held 
me in her lap ard kissed me and wept over 
me. Then she put me in a dark, lonesome 
drawer, where there were dresses and stock 
ings and the little hat my master used to 

292 



AND OTHER TALES 

wear. There I lived, oh ! such a weary time, 
and we talked the dresses, the stockings, 
the hat, and I did - - about our little master, 
and we wondered that he never came. And 
every little while the sweet lady would take 
us from the drawer and caress us, and we 
saw that she was pale and that her eyes were 
red with weeping. 

"But has your little master never come 
back! " asked the old clock. 

"Not yet," said the little shoe, " and that 
is why I am so very lonesome. Sometimes 
I think he has gone down to the sea in search 
of my little mate and that the two will come 
back together. But I do not understand it. 
The sweet lady took me from the drawer 
to-day and kissed me and set me here on 
the mantelpiece." 

You don t mean to say she kissed you ? " 
cried the haughty vase, "you horrid little 
stumped-out shoe! 

"Indeed she did," insisted the lonesome 
little shoe, " and I know she loves me. But 
why she loves me and kisses me and weeps 
over me I do not know. It is all very 
strange. I do not understand it at all." 



DATE DUE 



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: 



GAYLORD 



PRINTED IN U.S.A. 



Field, Eugene 
Holy cross 



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