A certain Magician had retired for the sake of study to a cottage in a
forest. It was summer in a hot country. In the trees near the cottage
dwelt a most beautiful Firefly. The light she bore with her was dazzling,
yet soft and palpitating, as the evening star, and she seemed a single
flash of fire as she shot in and out suddenly from under the screen of
foliage, or like a lamp as she perched panting upon some leaf, or hung
glowing from some bough; or like a wandering meteor as she eddied gleaming
over the summits of the loftiest trees; as she often did, for she was an
ambitious Firefly. She learned to know the Magician, and would sometimes
alight and sit shining in his hair, or trail her lustre across his book as
she crept over the pages. The Magician admired her above all things:
"What eyes she would have if she were a woman!" thought he.
Once he said aloud;
"How happy you must be, you rare, beautiful, brilliant creature!"
"I am not happy," rejoined the Firefly; "what am I, after all, but a
flying beetle with a candle in my tail? I wish I were a star."
"Very well," said the Magician, and touched her with his wand, when she
became a beautiful star in the twelfth degree of the sign Pisces.
After some nights the Magician asked her if she was content.
"I am not," replied she. "When I was a Firefly I could fly whither I
would, and come and go as I pleased. Now I must rise and set at certain
times, and shine just so long and no longer. I cannot fly at all, and only
creep slowly across the sky. In the day I cannot shine, or if I do no one
sees me. I am often darkened by rain, and mist, and cloud. Even when I
shine my brightest I am less admired than when I was a Firefly, there are
so many others like me. I see, indeed, people looking up from the earth by
night towards me, but how do I know that they are looking at me?"
"The laws of nature will have it so," returned the Magician.
"Don't talk to me of the laws of Nature," rejoined the Firefly. "I did
not make them, and I don't see why I should be compelled to obey them.
Make me something else."
"What would you be?" demanded the accommodating Magician.
"As I creep along here," replied the Star, "I see such a soft pure
track of light. It proceeds from the lamp in your study. It flows out of
your window like a river of molten silver, both cool and warm. Let me be
such a lamp."
"Be it so," answered the Magician: and the star became a lovely
alabaster lamp, set in an alcove in his study. Her chaste radiance was
shed over his page as long as he continued to read. At a certain hour he
extinguished her and retired to rest.
Next morning the Lamp was in a terrible humour.
"I don't choose to be blown out," she said.
"You would have gone out of your own accord else," returned the
"What!" exclaimed the Lamp, "am I not shining by my own light?"
"Certainly not: you are not now a Firefly or a Star. You must now
depend upon others. You would be dark for ever if I did not rekindle you
by the help of this oil."
"What!" cried the Lamp, "not shine of my own accord! Never! Make me an
everlasting lamp, or I will not be one at all."
"Alas, poor friend," returned the Magician sadly, "there is but one
place where aught is everlasting. I can make thee a lamp of the
"Content," responded the Lamp. And the Magician made her one of those
strange occult lamps which men find ever and anon when they unseal the
tombs of ancient kings and wizards, sustaining without nutriment a
perpetual flame. And he bore her to a sepulchre where a great king was
lying embalmed and perfect in his golden raiment, and set her at the head
of the corpse. And whether the poor fitful Firefly found at last rest in
the grave, we may know when we come thither ourselves. But the Magician
closed the gates of the sepulchre behind him, and walked thoughtfully
home. And as he approached his cottage, behold another Firefly darting and
flashing in and out among the trees, as brilliantly as ever the first had
done. She was a wise Firefly, well satisfied with the world and everything
in it, more particularly her own tail. And if the Magician would have made
a pet of her no doubt she would have abode with him. But he never looked
Iridion had broken her lily. A misfortune for any rustic nymph, but
especially for her, since her life depended upon it.
From her birth the fate of Iridion had been associated with that of a
flower of unusual loveliness—a stately, candid lily, endowed with a
charmed life, like its possessor. The seasons came and went without
leaving a trace upon it; innocence and beauty seemed as enduring with it,
as evanescent with the children of men. In equal though dissimilar
loveliness its frolicsome young mistress nourished by its side. One thing
alone, the oracle had declared, could prejudice either, and this was an
accident to the flower. From such disaster it had long been shielded by
the most delicate care; yet in the inscrutable counsels of the Gods, the
dreaded calamity had at length come to pass. Broken through the upper part
of the stem, the listless flower drooped its petals towards the earth, and
seemed to mourn their chastity, already sullied by the wan flaccidity of
decay. Not one had fallen as yet, and Iridion felt no pain or any symptom
of approaching dissolution, except, it may be, the unwonted seriousness
with which, having exhausted all her simple skill on behalf of the
languishing plant, she sat down to consider its fate in the light of its
bearing upon her own.
Meditation upon an utterly vague subject, whether of apprehension or of
hope, speedily lapses into reverie. To Iridion, Death was as indefinable
an object of thought as the twin omnipotent controller of human destiny,
Love. Love, like the immature fruit on the bough, hung unsoliciting and
unsolicited as yet, but slowly ripening to the maiden's hand. Death, a
vague film in an illimitable sky, tempered without obscuring the sunshine
of her life. Confronted with it suddenly, she found it, in truth, an
impalpable cloud, and herself as little competent as the gravest
philosopher to answer the self-suggested inquiry, "What shall I be when I
am no longer Iridion?" Superstition might have helped her to some definite
conceptions, but superstition did not exist in her time. Judge, reader, of
The maiden's reverie might have terminated only with her existence, but
for the salutary law which prohibits a young girl, not in love or at
school, from sitting still more than ten minutes. As she shifted her seat
at the expiration of something like this period, she perceived that she
had been sitting on a goatskin, and with a natural association of ideas—
"I will ask Pan," she exclaimed.
Pan at that time inhabited a cavern hard by the maiden's dwelling,
which the judicious reader will have divined could only have been situated
in Arcadia. The honest god was on excellent terms with the simple people;
his goats browsed freely along with theirs, and the most melodious of the
rustic minstrels attributed their proficiency to his instructions. The
maidens were on a more reserved footing of intimacy—at least so they
wished it to be understood, and so it was understood, of course. Iridion,
however, decided that the occasion would warrant her incurring the risk
even of a kiss, and lost no time in setting forth upon her errand,
carrying her poor broken flower in its earthen vase. It was the time of
day when the god might be supposed to be arousing himself from his
afternoon's siesta. She did not fear that his door would be closed against
her, for he had no door.
The sylvan deity stood, in fact, at the entrance of his cavern, about
to proceed in quest of his goats. The appearance of Iridion operated a
change in his intention, and he courteously escorted her to a seat of turf
erected for the special accommodation of his fair visitors, while he
placed for himself one of stone.
"Pan," she began, "I have broken my lily."
"That is a sad pity, child. If it had been a reed, now, you could have
made a flute of it."
"I should not have time, Pan," and she recounted her story. A godlike
nature cannot confound truth with falsehood, though it may mistake
falsehood for truth. Pan therefore never doubted Iridion's strange
narrative, and, having heard it to the end, observed, "You will find
plenty more lilies in Elysium."
"Common lilies, Pan; not like mine."
"You are wrong. The lilies of Elysium—asphodels as they call them
there—are as immortal as the Elysians themselves. I have seen them in
Proserpine's hair at Jupiter's entertainment; they were as fresh as she
was. There is no doubt you might gather them by handfuls—at least if you
had any hands—and wear them to your heart's content, if you had but a
"That's just what perplexes me, Pan. It is not the dying I mind, it's
the living. How am I to live without anything alive about me? If you take
away my hands, and my heart, and my brains, and my eyes, and my ears, and
above all my tongue, what is left me to live in Elysium?"
As the maiden spake a petal detached itself from the emaciated lily,
and she pressed her hand to her brow with a responsive cry of pain.
"Poor child!" said Pan compassionately, "you will feel no more pain
"I suppose not, Pan, since you say so. But if I can feel no pain, how
can I feel any pleasure?
"In an incomprehensible manner," said Pan.
"How can I feel, if I have no feeling? and what am I to do without it?"
"You can think!" replied Pan. "Thinking (not that I am greatly given to
it myself) is a much finer thing than feeling; no right-minded person
doubts that. Feeling, as I have heard Minerva say, is a property of
matter, and matter, except, of course, that appertaining to myself and the
other happy gods, is vile and perishable—quite immaterial, in fact.
Thought alone is transcendent, incorruptible, and undying!"
"But, Pan, how can any one think thoughts without something to think
them with? I never thought of anything that I have not seen, or touched,
or smelt, or tasted, or heard about from some one else. If I think with
nothing, and about nothing, is that thinking, do you think?"
"I think," answered Pan evasively, "that you are a sensationalist, a
materialist, a sceptic, a revolutionist; and if you had not sought the
assistance of a god, I should have said not much better than an atheist. I
also think it is time I thought about some physic for you instead of
metaphysics, which are bad for my head, and for your soul." Saying this,
Pan, with rough tenderness, deposited the almost fainting maiden upon a
couch of fern, and, having supported her head with a bundle of herbs,
leaned his own upon his hand, and reflected with all his might. The
declining sun was now nearly opposite the cavern's mouth, and his rays,
straggling through the creepers that wove their intricacies over the
entrance, chequered with lustrous patches the forms of the dying girl and
the meditating god. Ever and anon, a petal would drop from the flower;
this was always succeeded by a shuddering tremor throughout Iridion's
frame and a more forlorn expression on her pallid countenance: while Pan's
jovial features assumed an expression of deeper concern as he pressed his
knotty hand more resolutely against his shaggy forehead, and wrung his
dexter horn with a more determined grasp, as though he had caught a
burrowing idea by the tail.
"Aha!" he suddenly exclaimed, "I have it!"
"What have you, Pan?" faintly lisped the expiring Iridion.
Instead of replying, Pan grasped a wand that leaned against the wall of
his grot, and with it touched the maiden and the flower. O strange
metamorphosis! Where the latter had been pining in its vase, a lovely
girl, the image of Iridion, lay along the ground with dishevelled hair,
clammy brow, and features slightly distorted by the last struggles of
death. On the ferny couch stood an earthen vase, from which rose a
magnificent lily, stately, with unfractured stem, and with no stain or
wrinkle on its numerous petals.
"Aha!" repeated Pan; "I think we are ready for him now." Then, having
lifted the inanimate body to the couch, and placed the vase, with its
contents, on the floor of his cavern, he stepped to the entrance, and
shading his eyes with his hand, seemed to gaze abroad in quest of some
The boughs at the foot of the steep path to the cave divided, and a
figure appeared at the foot of the rock. The stranger's mien was majestic,
but the fitness of his proportions diminished his really colossal stature
to something more nearly the measure of mortality. His form was enveloped
in a sweeping sad-coloured robe; a light, thin veil resting on his
countenance, mitigated, without concealing, the not ungentle austerity of
his marble features. His gait was remarkable; nothing could be more remote
from every indication of haste, yet such was the actual celerity of his
progression, that Pan had scarcely beheld him ere he started to find him
already at his side.
The stranger, without disturbing his veil, seemed to comprehend the
whole interior of the grotto with a glance; then, with the slightest
gesture of recognition to Pan, he glided to the couch on which lay the
metamorphosed lily, upraised the fictitious Iridion in his arms with
indescribable gentleness, and disappeared with her as swiftly and silently
as he had come. The discreet Pan struggled with suppressed merriment until
the stranger was fairly out of hearing, then threw himself back upon his
seat and laughed till the cave rang.
"And now," he said, "to finish the business." He lifted the transformed
maiden into the vase, and caressed her beauty with an exulting but careful
hand. There was a glory and a splendour in the flower such as had never
until then been beheld in any earthly lily. The stem vibrated, the leaves
shook in unison, the petals panted and suspired, and seemed blanched with
a whiteness intense as the core of sunlight, as they throbbed in
anticipation of the richer existence awaiting them.
Impatient to complete his task, Pan was about to grasp his wand when
the motion was arrested as the sinking beam of the sun was intercepted by
a gigantic shadow, and the stranger again stood by his side. The unbidden
guest uttered no word, but his manner was sufficiently expressive of wrath
as he disdainfully cast on the ground a broken, withered lily, the relic
of what had bloomed with such loveliness in the morning, and had since for
a brief space been arrayed in the vesture of humanity. He pointed
imperiously to the gorgeous tenant of the vase, and seemed to expect Pan
to deliver it forthwith.
"Look here," said Pan, with more decision than dignity, "I am a poor
country god, but I know the law. If you can find on this plant one speck,
one stain, one token that you have anything to do with her, take her, and
welcome. If you cannot, take yourself off instead."
"Be it so," returned the stranger, haughtily declining the proffered
inspection. "You will find it is ill joking with Death."
So saying, he quitted the cavern.
Pan sat down chuckling, yet not wholly at ease, for if the charity of
Death is beautiful even to a mortal, his anger is terrible, even to a god.
Anxious to terminate the adventure, he reached towards the charmed wand by
whose wonderful instrumentality the dying maiden had already become a
living flower, and was now to undergo a yet more delightful metamorphosis.
Wondrous wand! But where was it? For Death, the great transfigurer of
all below this lunar sphere, had given Pan a characteristic proof of his
superior cunning. Where the wand had reposed writhed a ghastly worm,
which, as Pan's glance fell upon it, glided towards him, uplifting its
head with an aspect of defiance. Pan's immortal nature sickened at the
emblem of corruption; he could not for all Olympus have touched his
metamorphosed treasure. As he shrank back the creature pursued its way
towards the vase; but a marvellous change befell it as it came under the
shadow of the flower. The writhing body divided, end from end, the sordid
scales sank indiscernibly into the dust, and an exquisite butterfly,
arising from the ground, alighted on the lily, and remained for a moment
fanning its wings in the last sunbeam, ere it unclosed them to the evening
breeze. Pan, looking eagerly after the Psyche in its flight, did not
perceive what was taking place in the cavern; but the magic wand, now for
ever lost to its possessor, must have cancelled its own spell, for when
his gaze reverted from the ineffectual pursuit, the living lily had
disappeared, and Iridion lay a corpse upon the ground, the faded flower of
her destiny reposing upon her breast.
Death now stood for a third time upon Pan's threshold, but Pan heeded
"That owned the virtuous ring and glass." —Il Penseroso.
"Must we then part?"
They were folded in each other's arms. There never was such kissing.
"How shall we henceforth exchange the sweet tokens of our undying
affection, my Otto?"
"Alas, my Aurelia, I know not! Thy Otto blushes to acquaint thee that
he cannot write."
"Blush not, my Otto, thou needest not reproach thyself. Even couldest
thou write, thy Aurelia could not read. Oh these dark ages!"
They remained some minutes gazing on each other with an expression of
fond perplexity. Suddenly the damsel's features assumed the aspect of one
who experiences the visitation of a happy thought. Gently yet decidedly
"We will exchange rings."
They drew off their rings simultaneously. "This, Aurelia, was my
"This, Otto, was my grandmother's, which she charged me with her dying
breath never to part with save to him whom alone I loved."
"Mine is a brilliant, more radiant than aught save the eyes of my
And, in fact, Aurelia's eyes hardly sustained the comparison. A finer
stone could not easily be found.
"Mine is a sapphire, azure as the everlasting heavens, and type of a
constancy enduring as they."
In truth, it was of a tint seldom to be met with in sapphires.
The exchange made, the lady seemed less anxious to detain her lover.
"Beware, Otto!" she cried, as he slid down the cord, which yielded him
an oscillatory transit from her casement to the moat, where he alighted
knee-deep in mud. "Beware!—if my brother should be gazing from his chamber
on the resplendent moon!"
But that ferocious young baron was accustomed to spend his time in a
less romantic manner; and so it came to pass that Otto encountered him
Days, weeks, months had passed by, and Otto, a wanderer in a foreign
land, had heard no tidings of his Aurelia. Ye who have loved may well
conceive how her ring was all in all to him. He divided his time pretty
equally between gazing into its cerulean depths, as though her lovely
image were mirrored therein, and pressing its chilly surface to his lips,
little as it recalled the warmth and balminess of hers.
The burnished glow of gold, the chaste sheen of silver, the dance and
sparkle of light in multitudinous gems, arrested his attention as he one
evening perambulated the streets of a great city. He beheld a jeweller's
shop. The grey-headed, spectacled lapidary sat at a bench within,
sedulously polishing a streaked pebble by the light of a small lamp. A
sudden thought struck Otto; he entered the shop, and, presenting the ring
to the jeweller, inquired in a tone of suppressed exultation:
"What hold you for the worth of this inestimable ring?"
The jeweller, with no expression of surprise or curiosity, received the
ring from Otto, held it to the light, glanced slightly at the stone,
somewhat more carefully at the setting, laid the ring for a moment in a
pair of light scales, and, handing it back to Otto, remarked with a tone
and manner of the most entire indifference:
"The worth of this inestimable ring is one shilling and sixpence."
"Caitiff of a huckster!" exclaimed Otto, bringing down his fist on the
bench with such vigour that the pebbles leaped up and fell rattling down:
"Sayest thou this of a gem framed by genii in the bowels of the earth?"
"Nay, friend," returned the jeweller with the same imperturbable air,
"that thy gem was framed of earth I in nowise question, seeing that it
doth principally consist of sand. But when thou speakest of genii and the
bowels of the earth, thou wilt not, I hope, take it amiss if I crave
better proof than thy word that the devil has taken to glass-making. For
glass, and nothing else, credit me, thy jewel is."
"And the gold?" gasped Otto.
"There is just as much gold in thy ring as sufficeth to gild handsomely
a like superficies of brass, which is not saying much."
And, applying a sponge dipped in some liquid to a small part of the
hoop, the jeweller disclosed the dull hue of the baser metal so evidently
that Otto could hardly doubt longer. He doubted no more when the lapidary
laid his ring in the scales against another of the same size and make, and
pointed to the inequality of the balance.
"Thou seest," he continued, "that in our craft a very little gold goes
a very great way. It is far otherwise in the world, as thou, albeit in no
sort eminent for sapience, hast doubtless ere this ascertained for
thyself. Thou art evidently a prodigious fool!"
This latter disparaging observation could be safely ventured upon, as
Otto had rushed from the shop, speechless with rage.
Was Aurelia deceiver or deceived? Should he execrate her, or her
venerable grandmother, or some unknown person? The point was too knotty to
be solved in the agitated state of his feelings. He decided it
provisionally by execrating the entire human race, not forgetting himself.
In a mood like Otto's a trifling circumstance is sufficient to
determine the quality of action. The ancient city of which he was at the
time an inhabitant was traversed by a large river spanned by a quaint and
many-arched bridge, to which his frantic and aimless wanderings had
conducted him. Spires and gables and lengthy façades were reflected in the
water, blended with the shadows of boats, and interspersed with the
mirrored flames of innumerable windows on land, or of lanterns suspended
from the masts or sterns of the vessels. The dancing ripples bickered and
flickered, and seemed to say, "Come hither to us," while the dark reaches
of still water in the shadow of the piers promised that whatever might be
entrusted to them should be faithfully retained. Swayed by a sudden
impulse, Otto drew his ring from his finger. It gleamed an instant aloft
in air; in another the relaxation of his grasp would have consigned it to
Otto turned, and perceived a singular figure by his side. The stranger
was tall and thin, and attired in a dusky cloak which only partially
concealed a flame-coloured jerkin. A cock's feather peaked up in his cap;
his eyes were piercingly brilliant; his nose was aquiline; the expression
of his features sinister and sardonic. Had Otto been more observant, or
less preoccupied, he might have noticed that the stranger's left shoe was
of a peculiar form, and that he limped some little with the corresponding
"Forbear, I say; thou knowest not what thou doest."
"And what skills what I do with a piece of common glass?"
"Thou errest, friend; thy ring is not common glass. Had thy mistress
surmised its mystic virtues, she would have thought oftener than twice ere
exchanging it for thy diamond."
"What may these virtues be?" eagerly demanded Otto.
"In the first place, it will show thee when thy mistress may chance to
think of thee, as it will then prick thy finger."
"Now I know thee for a lying knave," exclaimed the youth indignantly.
"Learn, to thy confusion, that it hath not pricked me once since I parted
"Which proves that she has never once thought of thee."
"Villain!" shouted Otto, "say that again, and I will transfix thee."
"Thou mayest if thou canst," rejoined the stranger, with an expression
of such cutting scorn that Otto's spirit quailed, and he felt a secret but
overpowering conviction of his interlocutor's veracity. Rallying, however,
in some measure, he exclaimed:
"Aurelia is true! I will wager my soul upon it!"
"Done!" screamed the stranger in a strident voice of triumph, while a
burst of diabolical laughter seemed to proceed from every cranny of the
eaves and piers of the old bridge, and to be taken up by goblin echoes
from the summits of the adjacent towers and steeples.
Otto's blood ran chill, but he mustered sufficient courage to inquire
"What of its further virtues?"
"When it shall have pricked thee," returned the mysterious personage,
"on turning it once completely round thy finger thou wilt see thy mistress
wherever she may be. If thou turnest it the second time, thou wilt know
what her thought of thee is; and, if the third time, thou wilt find
thyself in her presence. But I give thee fair warning that by doing this
thou wilt place thyself in a more disastrous plight than any thou hast
experienced hitherto. And now farewell."
The speaker disappeared. Otto stood alone upon the bridge. He saw
nothing around him but the stream, with its shadows and lights, as he
slowly and thoughtfully turned round to walk to his lodgings.
Ye who have loved, et cetera, as aforesaid, will comprehend the anxiety
with which Otto henceforth consulted his ring. He was continually
adjusting it to his finger in a manner, as he fancied, to render the
anticipated puncture more perceptible when it should come at last. He
would have worn it on all his fingers in succession had the conformation
of his robust hand admitted of its being placed on any but the slenderest.
Thousands of times he could have sworn that he felt the admonitory sting;
thousands of times he turned the trinket round and round with desperate
impatience; but Aurelia's form remained as invisible, her thoughts as
inscrutable, as before. His great dread was that he might be pricked in
his sleep, on which account he would sit up watching far into the morn.
For, as he reasoned, not without plausibility, when could he more
rationally hope for a place in Aurelia's thoughts than at that witching
and suggestive period? She might surely think of him when she had nothing
else to do! Had she really nothing else to do? And Otto grew sick and
livid with jealousy. It of course frequently occurred to him to doubt and
deride the virtues of the ring, and he was several times upon the point of
flinging it away. But the more he pondered upon the appearance and manner
of the stranger, the less able he felt to resist the conviction of his
At last a most unmistakable puncture! the distinct, though slight, pang
of a miniature wound. A crimson bead of blood rose on Otto's finger,
swelled to its due proportion, and became a trickling blot.
"She is thinking of me!" cried he rapturously, as if this were an
instance of the most signal and unforeseen condescension. All the weary
expectancy of the last six months was forgotten. He would have railed at
himself had the bliss of the moment allowed him to remember that he had
ever railed at her.
Otto turned his ring once, and Aurelia became visible in an instant.
She was standing before the mercer's booth in the chief street of the
little town which adjoined her father's castle. Her gaze was riveted on a
silk mantle, trimmed with costly furs, which depended from a hook inside
the doorway. Her lovely features wore an expression of extreme
dissatisfaction. She was replacing a purse, apparently by no means
weighty, in her embroidered girdle.
Otto turned the ring the second time, and Aurelia's silvery accents
immediately became audible to the following effect:
"If that fool Otto were here, he would buy it for me."
She turned away, and walked down the street. Otto uttered a cry like
the shriek of an uprooted mandrake. His hand was upon the ring to turn it
for the third time; but the stranger's warning occurred to him, and for a
moment he forbore. In that moment the entire vision vanished from before
What boots it to describe Otto's feelings upon this revelation of
Aurelia's sentiments? For lovers, description would be needless; to wiser
people, incomprehensible. Suffice it to say, that as his lady deemed him a
fool he appeared bent on proving that she did not deem amiss.
A long space of time elapsed without any further admonition from the
ring. Perhaps Aurelia had no further occasion for his purse; perhaps she
had found another pursebearer. The latter view of the case appeared the
more plausible to Otto, and it hugely aggravated his torments.
At last the moment came. It was the hour of midnight. Again Otto felt
the sharp puncture, again the ruby drop started from his finger, again he
turned the ring, and again beheld Aurelia. She was in her chamber, but not
alone. Her companion was a youth of Otto's age. She was in the act of
placing Otto's brilliant upon his finger. Otto turned his own ring, and
heard her utter, with singular distinctness:
"This ring was given me by the greatest fool I ever knew. Little did he
imagine that it would one day be the means of procuring me liberty, and
bliss in the arms of my Arnold. My venerable grandmother—"
The voice expired upon her lips, for Otto stood before her.
Arnold precipitated himself from the window, carrying the ring with
him. Otto, glaring at his faithless mistress, stood in the middle of the
apartment with his sword unsheathed. Was he about to use it? None can say;
for at this moment the young Baron burst into the room, and, without the
slightest apology for the liberty he was taking, passed his sword through
Otto groaned, and fell upon his face. He was dead. The young Baron
ungently reversed the position of the corpse, and scanned its features
with evident surprise and dissatisfaction.
"It is not Arnold, after all!" he muttered. "Who would have thought
"Thou seest, brother, how unjust were thy suspicions," observed
Aurelia, with an air of injured but not implacable virtue. "As for this
abominable ravisher——" Her feelings forbade her to proceed.
The brother looked mystified. There was something beyond his
comprehension in the affair; yet he could not but acknowledge that Otto
was the person who had rushed by him as he lay in wait upon the stairs. He
finally determined that it was best to say nothing about the matter: a
resolution the easier of performance as he was not wont to be lavish of
his words at any time. He wiped his sword on his sister's curtains, and
was about to withdraw, when Aurelia again spoke:
"Ere thou departest, brother, have the goodness to ring the bell, and
desire the menials to remove this carrion from my apartment."
The young Baron sulkily complied, and retreated growling to his
The attendants carried Otto's body forth. To the honour of her sex be
it recorded, that before this was done Aurelia vouchsafed one glance to
the corpse of her old lover. Her eye fell on the brazen ring. "And he has
actually worn it all this time!" thought she.
"Would have outraged my daughter, would he?" said the old Baron, when
the transaction was reported to him. "Let him be buried in a concatenation
"What the guy dickens be a concatrenation, Geoffrey?" interrogated
"Methinks it is Latin for a ditch," responded Geoffrey.
This interpretation commending itself to the general judgment of the
retainers, Otto was interred in the shelving bank of the old moat, just
under Aurelia's window. A rough stone was laid upon the grave. The magic
ring, which no one thought worth appropriating, remained upon the corpse's
finger. Thou mayest probably find it there, reader, if thou searchest long
The first visitor to Otto's humble sepulchre was, after all, Aurelia
herself, who alighted thereon on the following night after letting herself
down from her casement to fly with Arnold. Their escape was successfully
achieved upon a pair of excellent horses, the proceeds of Otto's diamond,
which had become the property of a Jew.
On the third night an aged monk stood by Otto's grave, and wept
plentifully. He carried a lantern, a mallet, and a chisel. "He was my
pupil," sobbed the good old man. "It were meet to contribute what in me
lies to the befitting perpetuation of his memory."
Setting down the lantern, he commenced work, and with pious toil
engraved on the stone in the Latin of the period:
"HAC MAGNUS STULTUS JACET IN FOSSA SEPULTUS.
MULIER CUI CREDIDIT MORTUUM ILLUM REDDIDIT."
Here he paused, at the end of his strength and of his Latin.
"Beshrew my old arms and brains!" he sighed.
"Hem!" coughed a deep voice in his vicinity.
The monk looked up. The personage in the dusky cloak and flame-coloured
jerkin was standing over him.
"Good monk," said the fiend, "what dost thou here?"
"Good fiend," said the monk, "I am inscribing an epitaph to the memory
of a departed friend. Thou mightest kindly aid me to complete it."
"Truly," rejoined the demon, "it would become me to do so, seeing that
I have his soul here in my pocket. Thou wilt not expect me to employ the
language of the Church. Nathless, I see not wherefore the vernacular may
not serve as well."
And, taking the mallet and chisel, he completed the monk's inscription
with the supplementary legend:
"SERVED HIM RIGHT."
The town of Epinal, in Lorraine, possessed in the Middle Ages a peal of
three bells, respectively dedicated to St. Eulogius, St. Eucherius, and
St. Euschemon, whose tintinnabulation was found to be an effectual
safeguard against all thunderstorms. Let the heavens be ever so murky, it
was merely requisite to set the bells ringing, and no lightning flashed
and no thunder peal broke over the town, nor was the neighbouring country
within hearing of them ravaged by hail or flood.
One day the three saints, Eulogius, Eucherius, and Euschemon, were
sitting together, exceedingly well content with themselves and everything
around them, as indeed they had every right to be, supposing that they
were in Paradise. We say supposing, not being for our own part entirely
able to reconcile this locality with the presence of certain cans and
flagons, which had been fuller than they were.
"What a happy reflection for a Saint," said Eulogius, who was rapidly
passing from the mellow stage of good fellowship to the maudlin, "that
even after his celestial assumption he is permitted to continue a source
of blessing and benefit to his fellow-creatures as yet dwelling in the
shade of mortality! The thought of the services of my bell, in averting
lightning and inundation from the good people of Epinal, fills me with
"Your bell!" interposed Eucherius, whose path had lain through
the mellow to the quarrelsome. "Your bell, quotha! You had as good
clink this cannakin" (suiting the action to the word) "as your bell. It's
my bell that does the business."
"I think you might put in a word for my bell," interposed
Euschemon, a little squinting saint, very merry and friendly when not put
out, as on the present occasion.
"Your bell!" retorted the big saints, with incredible disdain; and,
forgetting their own altercation, they fell so fiercely on their little
brother that he ran away, stopping his ears with his hands, and vowing
A short time after this fracas, a personage of venerable appearance
presented himself at Epinal, and applied for the post of sacristan and
bell-ringer, at that time vacant. Though he squinted, his appearance was
far from disagreeable, and he obtained the appointment without difficulty.
His deportment in it was in all respects edifying; or if he evinced some
little remissness in the service of Saints Eulogius and Eucherius, this
was more than compensated by his devotion to the hitherto somewhat
slighted Saint Euschemon. It was indeed observed that candles, garlands,
and other offerings made at the shrines of the two senior saints were
found to be transferred in an unaccountable and mystical manner to the
junior, which induced experienced persons to remark that a miracle was
certainly brewing. Nothing, however, occurred until, one hot summer
afternoon, the indications of a storm became so threatening that the
sacristan was directed to ring the bells. Scarcely had he begun than the
sky became clear, but instead of the usual rich volume of sound the
townsmen heard with astonishment a solitary tinkle, sounding quite
ridiculous and unsatisfactory in comparison. St. Euschemon's bell was
ringing by itself.
In a trice priests and laymen swarmed to the belfry, and indignantly
demanded of the sacristan what he meant.
"To enlighten you," he responded. "To teach you to give honour where
honour is due. To unmask those canonised impostors."
And he called their attention to the fact that the clappers of the
bells of Eulogius and Eucherius were so fastened up that they could not
emit a sound, while that of Euschemon vibrated freely.
"Ye see," he continued, "that these sound not at all, yet is the
tempest stayed. Is it not thence manifest that the virtue resides solely
in the bell of the blessed Euschemon?"
The argument seemed conclusive to the majority, but those of the clergy
who ministered at the altars of Eulogius and Eucherius stoutly resisted,
maintaining that no just decision could be arrived at until Euschemon's
bell was subjected to the same treatment as the others. Their view
eventually prevailed, to the great dismay of Euschemon, who, although
firmly convinced of the virtue of his own bell, did not in his heart
disbelieve in the bells of his brethren. Imagine his relief and amazed joy
when, upon his bell being silenced, the storm, for the first time in the
memory of the oldest inhabitant, broke with full fury over Epinal, and,
for all the frantic pealing of the other two bells, raged with unspeakable
fierceness until his own was brought into requisition, when, as if by
enchantment, the rain ceased, the thunder-clouds dispersed, and the sun
broke out gloriously from the blue sky.
"Carry him in procession!" shouted the crowd.
"Amen, brethren; here I am," rejoined Euschemon, stepping briskly into
the midst of the troop.
"And why in the name of Zernebock should we carry you?" demanded
some, while others ran off to lug forth the image, the object of their
"Why, verily," Euschemon began, and stopped short. How indeed was he to
prove to them that he was Euschemon? His personal resemblance to
his effigy, the work of a sculptor of the idealistic school, was in no
respect remarkable; and he felt, alas! that he could no more work a
miracle than you or I. In the sight of the multitude he was only an
elderly sexton with a cast in his eye, with nothing but his office to keep
him out of the workhouse. A further and more awkward question arose, how
on earth was he to get back to Paradise? The ordinary method was not
available, for he had already been dead for several centuries; and no
other presented itself to his imagination.
Muttering apologies, and glad to be overlooked, Euschemon shrank into a
corner, but slightly comforted by the honours his image was receiving at
the hands of the good people of Epinal. As time wore on he became pensive
and restless, and nothing pleased him so well as to ascend to the belfry
on moonlight nights, scribbling disparagement on the bells of Eulogius and
Eucherius, which had ceased to be rung, and patting and caressing his own,
which now did duty for all three. With alarm he noticed one night an
incipient crack, which threatened to become a serious flaw.
"If this goes on," said a voice behind him, "I shall get a holiday."
Euschemon turned round, and with indescribable dismay perceived a
gigantic demon, negligently resting his hand on the top of the bell, and
looking as if it would cost him nothing to pitch it and Euschemon together
to the other side of the town.
"Avaunt, fiend," he stammered, with as much dignity as he could muster,
"or at least remove thy unhallowed paw from my bell."
"Come, Eusky," replied the fiend, with profane familiarity, "don't be a
fool. You are not really such an ass as to imagine that your virtue has
anything to do with the virtue of this bell?"
"Whose virtue then?" demanded Euschemon.
"Why truly," said the demon, "mine! When this bell was cast I was
imprisoned in it by a potent enchanter, and so long as I am in it no storm
can come within sound of its ringing. I am not allowed to quit it except
by night, and then no further than an arm's length: this, however, I take
the liberty of measuring by my own arm, which happens to be a long one.
This must continue, as I learn, until I receive a kiss from some bishop of
distinguished sanctity. Thou hast done some bishoping in thy time,
Euschemon energetically protested that he had been on earth but a
simple laic, which was indeed the fact, and was also the reason why
Eulogius and Eucherius despised him, but which, though he did not think it
needful to tell the demon, he found a singular relief under present
"Well," continued the fiend, "I wish he may turn up shortly, for I am
half deaf already with the banging and booming of this infernal clapper,
which seems to have grown much worse of late; and the blessings and the
crossings and the aspersions which I have to go through are most repugnant
to my tastes, and unsuitable to my position in society. Bye-bye, Eusky;
come up to-morrow night." And the fiend slipped back into the bell, and
instantly became invisible.
The humiliation of poor Euschemon on learning that he was indebted for
his credit to the devil is easier to imagine than to describe. He did not,
however, fail at the rendezvous next night, and found the demon sitting
outside the bell in a most affable frame of mind. It did not take long for
the devil and the saint to become very good friends, both wanting company,
and the former being apparently as much amused by the latter's simplicity
as the latter was charmed by the former's knowingness. Euschemon learned
numbers of things of which he had not had the faintest notion. The demon
taught him how to play cards (just invented by the Saracens), and
initiated him into divers "arts, though unimagined, yet to be," such as
smoking tobacco, making a book on the Derby, and inditing queer stories
for Society journals. He drew the most profane but irresistibly funny
caricatures of Eulogius and Eucherius, and the rest of the host of heaven.
He had been one of the demons who tempted St. Anthony, and retailed
anecdotes of that eremite which Euschemon had never heard mentioned in
Paradise. He was versed in all scandal respecting saints in general, and
Euschemon found with astonishment how much about his own order was known
downstairs. On the whole he had never enjoyed himself so much in his life;
he became proficient in all manner of minor devilries, and was ceasing to
trouble himself about his bell or his ecclesiastical duties, when an
untoward incident interrupted his felicity.
It chanced that the Bishop of Metz, in whose diocese Epinal was
situated, finding himself during a visitation journey within a short
distance of the town, determined to put, up there for the night. He did
not arrive until nightfall, but word of his intention having been sent
forward by a messenger the authorities, civil and ecclesiastical, were
ready to receive him. When, escorted in state, he had arrived at the house
prepared for his reception, the Mayor ventured to express a hope that
everything had been satisfactory to his Lordship.
"Everything," said the bishop emphatically. "I did indeed seem to
remark one little omission, which no doubt may be easily accounted for."
"What was that, my Lord?"
"It hath," said the bishop, "usually been the practice to receive a
bishop with the ringing of bells. It is a laudable custom, conducive to
the purification of the air and the discomfiture of the prince of the
powers thereof. I caught no sound of chimes on the present occasion, yet I
am sensible that my hearing is not what it was."
The civil and ecclesiastical authorities looked at each other. "That
graceless knave of a sacristan!" said the Mayor.
"He hath indeed of late strangely neglected his charge," said a priest.
"Poor man, I doubt his wits are touched," charitably added another.
"What!" exclaimed the bishop, who was very active, very fussy, and a
great stickler for discipline. "This important church, so renowned for its
three miraculous bells, confided to the tender mercies of an imbecile
rogue who may burn it down any night! I will look to it myself without
losing a minute."
And in spite of all remonstrances, off he started. The keys were
brought, the doors flung open, the body of the church thoroughly examined,
but neither in nave, choir, or chancel could the slightest trace of the
sacristan be found.
"Perhaps he is in the belfry," suggested a chorister.
"We'll see," responded the bishop, and bustling nimbly up the ladder,
he emerged into the open belfry in full moonlight.
Heavens! what a sight met his eye! The sacristan and the devil sitting
vis-a-vis close by the miraculous bell, with a smoking can of hot
spiced wine between them, finishing a close game of cribbage.
"Seven," declared Euschemon.
"And eight are fifteen," retorted the demon, marking two.
"Twenty-three and pair," cried Euschemon, marking in his turn.
"And seven is thirty."
"Ace, thirty-one, and I'm up."
"It is up with you, my friend," shouted the bishop, bringing his
crook down smartly on Euschemon's shoulders.
"Deuce!" said the devil, and vanished into his bell.
When poor Euschemon had been bound and gagged, which did not take very
long, the bishop briefly addressed the assembly. He said that the accounts
of the bell which had reached his ears had already excited his
apprehensions. He had greatly feared that all could not be right, and now
his anxieties were but too well justified. He trusted there was not a man
before him who would not suffer his flocks and his crops to be destroyed
by tempest fifty times over rather than purchase their safety by
unhallowed means. What had been done had doubtless been done in ignorance,
and could be made good by a mulct to the episcopal treasury. The amount of
this he would carefully consider, and the people of Epinal might rest
assured that it should not be too light to entitle them to the benefit of
a full absolution. The bell must go to his cathedral city, there to be
examined and reported on by the exorcists and inquisitors. Meanwhile he
would himself institute a slight preliminary scrutiny.
The bell was accordingly unhung, tilted up, and inspected by the
combined beams of the moonlight and torchlight. Very slight examination
served to place the soundness of the bishop's opinion beyond dispute. On
the lip of the bell were engraven characters unknown to every one else,
but which seemed to affect the prelate with singular consternation.
"I hope," he exclaimed, "that none of you know anything about these
characters! I earnestly trust that none can read a single one of them. If
I thought anybody could I would burn him as soon as look at him!"
The bystanders hastened to assure him that not one of them had the
slightest conception of the meaning of the letters, which had never been
"I rejoice to hear it," said the bishop. "It will be an evil day for
the church when these letters are understood."
And next morning he departed, carrying off the bell, with the invisible
fiend inside it; the cards, which were regarded as a book of magic; and
the luckless Euschemon, who shortly found himself in total darkness, the
inmate of a dismal dungeon.
It was some time before Euschemon became sensible of the presence of
any partner in his captivity, by reason of the trotting of the rats. At
length, however, a deep sigh struck upon his ear.
"Who art thou?" he exclaimed.
"An unfortunate prisoner," was the answer.
"What is the occasion of thy imprisonment?"
"Oh, a mere trifle. A ridiculous suspicion of sacrificing a child to
Beelzebub. One of the little disagreeables that must occasionally occur in
"Our profession!" exclaimed Euschemon.
"Art thou not a sorcerer?" demanded the voice.
"No," replied Euschemon, "I am a saint."
The warlock received Euschemon's statement with much incredulity, but
becoming eventually convinced of its truth—
"I congratulate thee," he said. "The devil has manifestly taken a fancy
to thee, and he never forgets his own. It is true that the bishop is a
great favourite with him also. But we will hope for the best. Thou hast
never practised riding a broomstick? No? 'Tis pity; thou mayest have to
mount one at a moment's notice."
This consolation had scarcely been administered ere the bolts flew
back, the hinges grated, the door opened, and gaolers bearing torches
informed the sorcerer that the bishop desired his presence.
He found the bishop in his study, which was nearly choked up by
Euschemon's bell. The prelate received him with the greatest affability,
and expressed a sincere hope that the very particular arrangements he had
enjoined for the comfort of his distinguished prisoner had been faithfully
carried out by his subordinates. The sorcerer, as much a man of the world
as the bishop, thanked his Lordship, and protested that he had been
"I have need of thy art," said the bishop, coming to business. "I am
exceedingly bothered—flabbergasted were not too strong an expression—by
this confounded bell. All my best exorcists have been trying all they know
with it, to no purpose. They might as well have tried to exorcise my mitre
from my head by any other charm than the offer of a better one. Magic is
plainly the only remedy, and if thou canst disenchant it, I will give thee
"It will be a tough business," observed the sorcerer, surveying the
bell with the eye of a connoisseur. "It will require fumigations."
"Yes," said the bishop, "and suffumigations."
"Aloes and mastic," advised the sorcerer.
"Aye," assented the bishop, "and red sanders."
"We must call in Primeumaton," said the warlock.
"Clearly," said the bishop, "and Amioram."
"Triangles," said the sorcerer.
"Pentacles," said the bishop.
"In the hour of Methon," said the sorcerer.
"I should have thought Tafrac," suggested the bishop, "but I defer to
your better judgment."
"I can have the blood of a goat?" queried the wizard.
"Yes," said the bishop, "and of a monkey also."
"Does your Lordship think that one might venture to go so far as a
little unweaned child?"
"If absolutely necessary," said the bishop.
"I am delighted to find such liberality of sentiment on your Lordship's
part," said the sorcerer. "Your Lordship is evidently of the profession."
"These are things which stuck by me when I was an inquisitor,"
explained the bishop, with some little embarrassment.
Ere long all arrangements were made. It would be impossible to
enumerate half the crosses, circles, pentagrams, naked swords,
cross-bones, chafing-dishes, and vials of incense which the sorcerer found
to be necessary. The child was fortunately deemed superfluous. Euschemon
was brought up from his dungeon, and, his teeth chattering with fright and
cold, set beside his bell to hold a candle to the devil. The incantations
commenced, and speedily gave evidence of their efficacy. The bell
trembled, swayed, split open, and a female figure of transcendent
loveliness attired in the costume of Eve stepped forth and extended her
lips towards the bishop. What could the bishop do but salute them? With a
roar of triumph the demon resumed his proper shape. The bishop swooned.
The apartment was filled with the fumes of sulphur. The devil soared
majestically out of the window, carrying the sorcerer under one arm and
Euschemon under the other.
It is commonly believed that the devil good-naturedly dropped Euschemon
back again into Paradise, or wheresoever he might have come from. It is
even added that he fell between Eulogius and Eucherius, who had been
arguing all the time respecting the merits of their bells, and resumed his
share in the discussion as if nothing had happened. Some maintain, indeed,
that the devil, chancing to be in want of a chaplain, offered the
situation to Euschemon, by whom it was accepted. But how to reconcile this
assertion with the undoubted fact that the duties of the post in question
are at present ably discharged by the Bishop of Metz, in truth we see not.
One thing is certain: thou wilt not find Euschemon's name in the calendar,
The mulct to be imposed upon the parish of Epinal was never exacted.
The bell, ruptured beyond repair by the demon's violent exit, was taken
back and deposited in the museum of the town. The bells of Eulogius and
Eucherius were rung freely on occasion; but Epinal has not since enjoyed
any greater immunity from storms than the contiguous districts. One day an
aged traveller, who had spent many years in Heathenesse and in whom some
discerned a remarkable resemblance to the sorcerer, noticed the bell, and
asked permission to examine it. He soon discovered the inscription,
recognised the mysterious characters as Greek, read them without the least
Μη κινει Καμαριναν ακινητος γαρ
and favoured the townsmen with this free but substantially accurate
CAN'T YOU LET WELL ALONE?
Midday, midsummer, middle of the dark ages. Fine healthy weather at the
city of Biserta in Barbary. Wind blowing strong from the sea, roughening
the dark blue waters, and fretting their indigo with foam, as though the
ocean's coursers champed an invisible curb. On land tawny sand whirling,
green palm-fans swaying and whistling, men abroad in the noonday blaze
rejoicing in the unwonted freshness.
"She is standing in," they cried, "and, by the Prophet, she seemeth not
a ship of the true believers."
She was not, but she bore a flag of truce. Pitching and rearing, the
little bark bounded in, and soon was fast in harbour. Ere long messengers
of peace had landed, bearing presents and a letter from the Bishop of
Amalfi to the Emir of Biserta. The presents consisted of fifty casks of
Lacrima Christi, and of a captive, a tall, noble-looking man, in soiled
ecclesiastical costume, and disfigured by the loss of his left eye, which
seemed to have been violently plucked out.
"Health to the Emir!" ran the letter. "I send thee my captive, Gaddo,
sometime Bishop of Amalfi, now an ejected intruder. For what saith the
Scripture? 'When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in
peace; but if one stronger than he cometh, he divideth the spoils.'
Moreover it is written: 'His bishopric let another take.' Having solemnly
sworn that I would not kill or blind or maim my enemy, or imprison him in
a monastery, and the price of absolution from an oath in this corrupt age
exceeding all reason and Christian moderation, I knew not how to take
vengeance on him, until a sagacious counsellor represented that a man
cannot be said to be blinded so long as he is deprived of only one eye.
This I accordingly eradicated, and now, being restrained from imprisoning
him, and fearing to release him, I send him to thee, to retain in
captivity on my behalf; in return for which service, receive fifty casks
of the choicest Lacrima Christi, which shall not fail to be sent thee
yearly, so long as Gaddo continues in thy custody.
"+ Addo, by Divine permission Bishop of Amalfi."
"First," said the Emir, "I would be certified whether this vintage is
indeed of such excellence as to prevail upon a faithful Mussulman to
jeopard Paradise, the same being forbidden by his law."
Experiments were instituted forthwith, and the problem was resolved in
"This being so," declared the Emir, "honour and good faith towards
Bishop Addo require that Bishop Gaddo be kept captive with all possible
strictness. Yet bolts may be burst, fetters may be filed, walls may be
scaled, doors may be broken through. Better to enchain the captive's soul,
binding him with invisible bonds, and searing out of him the very wish to
escape. Embrace the faith of the Prophet," continued he, addressing Gaddo;
"become a Mollah."
"No," said the deposed Bishop, "my inclination hath ever been towards a
military life. At present, mutilated and banished as I am, I rather affect
the crown of martyrdom."
"Thou shalt receive it by instalments," said the Emir. "Thou shalt work
at the new pavilion in my garden."
Unceasing toil under the blazing sun, combined with the discipline of
the overseers, speedily wore down Gaddo's strength, already impaired by
captivity and ill-treatment. Unable to drag himself away after his
fellow-workmen had ceased from their labours, he lay one evening, faint
and almost senseless, among the stones and rubbish of the unfinished
edifice. The Emir's daughter passed by. Gaddo was handsome and wretched,
the Princess was beautiful and compassionate. Conveyed by her fair hands,
a cup of Bishop Addo's wine saved Bishop Gaddo's life.
The next evening Gaddo again lingered behind, and the Princess spoke to
him out of her balcony. The third evening they encountered in an arbour.
The next meeting took place in her chamber, where her father discovered
"I will tear thee to pieces with pincers," shouted he to Gaddo.
"Your Highness will not be guilty of that black action," responded
"No?" roared the Emir. "No? and what shall hinder me?"
"The Lacrima Christi will hinder your Highness," returned the
far-seeing Gaddo. "Deems your Highness that Bishop Addo will send another
cupful, once he is assured of my death?"
"Thou sayest well," rejoined the Emir. "I may not slay thee. But my
daughter is manifestly most inflammable, wherefore I will burn her."
"Were it not better to circumcise me?" suggested Gaddo.
Many difficulties were raised, but Ayesha's mother siding with Gaddo,
and promising a more amicable deportment for the future towards the other
lights of the harem, the matter was arranged, and Gaddo recited the
Mahometan profession of faith, and became the Emir's son-in-law. The
execrable social system under which he had hitherto lived thus vanished
like a nightmare from an awakened sleeper. Wedded to one who had saved his
life by her compassion, and whose life he had in turn saved by his change
of creed, adoring her and adored by her, with the hope of children, and
active contact with multitudes of other interests from which he had
hitherto been estranged, he forgot the ecclesiastic in the man; his
intellect expanded, his ideas multiplied, he cleared his mind of cant, and
became an eminent philosopher.
"Dear son," said the Emir to him one day, "the Lacrima is spent, we
thirst, and the tribute of that Christian dog, the Bishop of Amalfi,
tarries to arrive. We will presently fit out certain vessels, and thou
shalt hold a visitation of thine ancient diocese."
"Methinks I see a ship even now," said Gaddo; and he was right. She
anchored, the ambassadors landed and addressed the Emir:
"Prince, we bring thee the stipulated tribute, yet not without a
"Deduction!" exclaimed the Emir, bending his brows ominously.
"Highness," they represented, "by reason of the deficiency of last
year's vintage it hath not been possible to provide more than forty-nine
casks, which we crave to offer thee accordingly."
"Then," pronounced the Emir sententiously, "the compact is broken, the
ship is confiscated, and war is declared."
"Not so, Highness," said they, "for the fiftieth cask is worth all the
"Let it be opened," commanded the Emir.
It was accordingly hoisted out, deposited on the quay, and prized open;
and from its capacious interior, in a deplorable plight from hunger,
cramp, and sea-sickness, was extracted—Bishop Addo.
"We have," explained the deputation, "wearied of our shepherd, who,
shearing his flock somewhat too closely, hath brought the wolf to light.
We therefore desire thee to receive him at our hands in exchange for our
good Bishop Gaddo, promising one hundred casks of Lacrima Christi as
yearly tribute for the future."
"He stands before you," answered the Emir; "take him, an ye can prevail
upon him to return with you."
The eyes of the envoys wandered hopelessly from one whiskered,
turbaned, caftaned, and yataghaned figure to another. They could not
discover that any of the Paynim present looked more or less like a bishop
than his fellows.
"Brethren," said Gaddo, taking compassion on their bewilderment,
"behold me! I thank you for your kindly thought of me, but how to profit
by it I see not. I have become a Saracen. I have pronounced the Mahometan
confession. I am circumcised. I am known by the name of Mustapha."
"We acknowledge the weight of your Lordship's objections," they said,
"and do but venture to hint remotely that the times are hard, and that the
Holy Father is grievously in want of money."
"I have also taken a wife," said Gaddo.
"A wife!" exclaimed they with one consent. "If it had been a concubine!
Let us return instantly."
They gathered up their garments and spat upon the ground.
"A bishop, then," inquired Gaddo, "may be guilty of any enormity sooner
than wedlock, which money itself cannot expiate?"
"Such," they answered, "is the law and the prophets."
"Unless," added one of benignant aspect, "he sew the abomination up in
a sack and cast her into the sea, then peradventure he may yet find place
"Miserable blasphemers!" exclaimed Gaddo. "But why," continued he,
checking himself, "do I talk of what none will understand for five hundred
years, which to understand myself I was obliged to become a Saracen? Addo,"
he pursued, addressing his dejected competitor, "bad as thou art, thou art
good enough for the world as it is. I spare thy life, restore thy dignity,
and, to prove that the precepts of Christ may be practised under the garb
of Mahomet, will not even exact eye for eye. Yet, as a wholesome
admonition to thee that treachery and cruelty escape not punishment even
in this life, I will that thou do presently surrender to me thy left ear.
Restore my eye and I will return it immediately. And ye," addressing the
envoys, "will for the future pay one hundred casks tribute, unless ye
would see my father-in-law's galleys on your coasts."
So Addo returned to his bishopric, leaving his ear in Gaddo's keeping.
The Lacrima was punctually remitted, and as punctually absorbed by the
Emir and his son-in-law, with some little help from Ayesha. Gaddo's eye
never came back, and Addo never regained his ear until, after the
ex-prelate's death in years and honour, he ransomed it from his
representatives. It became a relic, and is shown in Addo's cathedral to
this day in proof of his inveterate enmity to the misbelievers, and of the
sufferings he underwent at their hands. But Gaddo trumped him, the entry
after his name in the episcopal register, "Fled to the Saracens," having
been altered into "Flayed by the Saracens" by a later bishop, jealous of
the honour of the diocese.