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The Twilight of The Gods and Other Tales by Richard Garnett - Contents

 

THE FIREFLY

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 Magician.

"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 sepulchre."

"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 at her.

PAN'S WAND

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 its remoteness.

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 heart."

"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 by-and-by."

"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 anticipated visitor.

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 him not.

A PAGE FROM THE BOOK OF FOLLY


  "That owned the virtuous ring and glass." —Il Penseroso.

I

"Aurelia!"

"Otto!"

"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 she pronounced:

"We will exchange rings."

They drew off their rings simultaneously. "This, Aurelia, was my grandfather's."

"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 Aurelia."

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 not.

II

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 the stream.

"Forbear!"

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 foot.

"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 from Aurelia."

"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 hoarsely:

"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.

III

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 truthfulness.

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 his eyes.

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's body.

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 it?"

"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 chamber.

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 accordingly."

"What the guy dickens be a concatrenation, Geoffrey?" interrogated Giles.

"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 enough.

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 BELL OF SAINT EUSCHEMON

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 indescribable beatitude."

"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 vengeance.

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 devotion.

"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, peradventure?"

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 circumstances.

"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 observed before.

"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."

"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 perfectly comfortable.

"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 thy freedom."

"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, courteous reader.

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 difficulty—

Μη κινει Καμαριναν ακινητος γαρ αμεινων—

and favoured the townsmen with this free but substantially accurate translation:—

CAN'T YOU LET WELL ALONE?

BISHOP ADDO AND BISHOP GADDO

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 the affirmative.

"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 them.

"I will tear thee to pieces with pincers," shouted he to Gaddo.

"Your Highness will not be guilty of that black action," responded Gaddo resolutely.

"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 trifling deduction."

"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 rest."

"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 for repentance."

"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.

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