Louise de la Ramee
Part 2 out of 3
"Two thousand ducats, your majesty," muttered the dealers,
frightened out of their wits, and telling the truth in their
The gentleman was not present: he was a trusted counselor in art
matters of the king's, and often made purchases for him.
The king smiled a little, and said nothing. The gentleman had made
out the price to him as eleven thousand ducats.
"You will give at once to this boy's father the two thousand gold
ducats that you received, less the two hundred Austrian florins
that you paid him," said the king to his humiliated and abject
subjects. "You are great rogues. Be thankful you are not more
He dismissed them by a sign to his courtiers, and to one of these
gave the mission of making the dealers of the Marienplatz disgorge
their ill-gotten gains.
August heard, and felt dazzled yet miserable. Two thousand gold
Bavarian ducats for his father! Why, his father would never need
to go any more to the salt-baking! And yet whether for ducats or
for florins, Hirschvogel was sold just the same, and would the
king let him stay with it?--would he?
"Oh, do! oh, please do!" he murmured, joining his little brown
weather-stained hands, and kneeling down before the young monarch,
who himself stood absorbed in painful thought, for the deception
so basely practised for the greedy sake of gain on him by a
trusted counselor was bitter to him.
He looked down on the child, and as he did so smiled once more.
"Rise up, my little man," he said, in a kind voice; "kneel only to
your God. Will I let you stay with your Hirschvogel? Yes, I will;
you shall stay at my court, and you shall be taught to be a
painter,--in oils or on porcelain as you will,--and you must grow
up worthily, and win all the laurels at our Schools of Art, and if
when you are twenty-one years old you have done well and bravely,
then I will give you your Nurnberg stove, or, if I am no more
living, then those who reign after me shall do so. And now go away
with this gentleman, and be not afraid, and you shall light a fire
every morning in Hirschvogel, but you will not need to go out and
cut the wood."
Then he smiled and stretched out his hand; the courtiers tried to
make August understand that he ought to bow and touch it with his
lips, but August could not understand that anyhow; he was too
happy. He threw his two arms about the king's knees, and kissed
his feet passionately; then he lost all sense of where he was, and
fainted away from hunger, and tire, and emotion, and wondrous joy.
As the darkness of his swoon closed in on him, he heard in his
fancy the voice from Hirschvogel saying:--
"Let us be worthy our maker!"
He is only a scholar yet, but he is a happy scholar, and promises
to be a great man. Sometimes he goes back for a few days to Hall,
where the gold ducats have made his father prosperous. In the old
house room there is a large white porcelain stove of Munich, the
king's gift to Dorothea and 'Gilda.
And August never goes home without going into the great church and
saying his thanks to God, who blessed his strange winter's journey
in the Nurnberg stove. As for his dream in the dealers' room that
night, he will never admit that he did dream it; he still declares
that he saw it all, and heard the voice of Hirschvogel. And who
shall say that he did not? for what is the gift of the poet and
the artist except to see the sights which others cannot see and to
hear the sounds that others cannot hear?
THE AMBITIOUS ROSE TREE
She was a Quatre Saison Rose Tree.
She lived in a beautiful old garden with some charming magnolias
for neighbors: they rather overshadowed her, certainly, because
they were so very great and grand; but then such shadow as that is
preferable, as every one knows, to a mere vulgar enjoyment of
common daylight, and then the beetles went most to the magnolia-
blossoms, for being so great and grand of course they got very
much preyed upon, and this was a vast gain for the rose that was
near them. She herself leaned against the wall of an orange-house,
in company with a Banksia, a buoyant, active, simple-minded thing,
for whom Rosa Damascena, who thought herself much better born than
these climbers, had a natural contempt. Banksiae will flourish and
be content anywhere, they are such easily pleased creatures; and
when you cut them they thrive on it, which shows a very plebeian
and pachydermatous temper; and they laugh all over in the face of
an April day, shaking their little golden clusters of blossom in
such a merry way that the Rose Tree, who was herself very reserved
and thorny, had really scruples about speaking to them.
For she was by nature extremely proud,--much prouder than her
lineage warranted,--and a hard fate had fixed her to the wall of
an orangery, where hardly anybody ever came, except the gardener
and his men to carry the oranges in in winter and out in spring,
or water and tend them while they were housed there.
She was a handsome rose, and she knew it. But the garden was so
crowded--like the world--that she could not get herself noticed in
it. In vain was she radiant and red close on to Christmas-time as
in the fullest heats of midsummer. Nobody thought about her or
praised her. She pined and was very unhappy.
The Banksiae, who are little, frank, honest-hearted creatures, and
say out what they think, as such plebeian people will, used to
tell her roundly she was thankless for the supreme excellence of
"You have everything the soul of a rose can wish for: a splendid
old wall with no nasty chinks in it; a careful gardener, who nips
all the larvae in the bud before they can do you any damage; sun,
water, care; above all, nobody ever cuts a single blossom off you!
What more can you wish for? This orangery is paradise!"
She did not answer.
What wounded her pride so deeply was just this fact, that they
never DID cut off any of her blossoms. When day after day, year
after year, she crowned herself with her rich crimson glory and no
one ever came nigh to behold or to gather it, she could have died
with vexation and humiliation.
Would nobody see she was worth anything?
The truth was that in this garden there was such an abundance of
very rare roses that a common though beautiful one like Rosa
Damascena remained unthought of; she was lovely, but then there
were so many lovelier still, or, at least, much more a la mode.
In the secluded garden corner she suffered all the agonies of a
pretty woman in the great world, who is only a pretty woman, and
no more. It needs so VERY much more to be "somebody." To be
somebody was what Rosa Damascena sighed for, from rosy dawn to
From her wall she could see across the green lawns, the great
parterre which spread before the house terrace, and all the great
roses that bloomed there,--Her Majesty Gloire de Dijon, who was a
reigning sovereign born, the royally born Niphetos, the Princesse
Adelaide, the Comtesse Ouvaroff, the Vicomtesse de Cazes all in
gold, Madame de Sombreuil in snowy white, the beautiful Louise de
Savoie, the exquisite Duchess of Devoniensis,--all the roses that
were great ladies in their own right, and as far off her as were
the stars that hung in heaven. Rosa Damascena would have given all
her brilliant carnation hues to be pale and yellow like the
Princesse Adelaide, or delicately colorless like Her Grace of
She tried all she could to lose her own warm blushes, and prayed
that bees might sting her and so change her hues; but the bees
were of low taste, and kept their pearl-powder and rouge and other
pigments for the use of common flowers, like the evening primrose
or the butter-cup and borage, and never came near to do her any
good in arts of toilet.
One day the gardener approached and stood and looked at her: then
all at once she felt a sharp stab in her from his knife, and a
vivid pain ran downward through her stem.
She did not know it, but gardeners and gods "this way grant
"Has not something happened to me?" she asked of the little
Banksiae; for she felt very odd all over her; and when you are
unwell you cannot be very haughty.
The saucy Banksiae laughed, running over their wires that they
cling to like little children.
"You have got your wish," they said. "You are going to be a great
lady; they have made you into a Rosa Indica!"
A tea rose! Was it possible?
Was she going to belong at last to that grand and graceful order,
which she had envied so long and vainly from afar?
Was she, indeed, no more mere simple Rosa Damascena? She felt so
happy she could hardly breathe. She thought it was her happiness
that stifled her; in real matter of fact it was the tight bands in
which the gardener had bound her.
"Oh, what joy!" she thought, though she still felt very
uncomfortable, but not for the world would she ever have admitted
it to the Banksiae.
The gardener had tied a tin tube on to her, and it was heavy and
cumbersome; but no doubt, she said to herself, the thing was
fashionable, so she bore the burden of it very cheerfully.
The Banksiae asked her how she felt, but she would not deign even
to reply; and when a friendly blackbird, who had often picked
grubs off her leaves, came and sang to her, she kept silent: a
Rosa Indica was far above a blackbird.
"Next time you want a caterpillar taken away, he may eat you for
ME!" said the blackbird, and flew off in a huff.
She was very ungrateful to hate the black-bird so, for he had been
most useful to her in doing to death all the larvae of worms and
beetles and caterpillars and other destroyers which were laid
treacherously within her leaves. The good blackbird, with many
another feathered friend, was forever at work in some good deed of
the kind, and all the good, grateful flowers loved him and his
race. But to this terribly proud and discontented Rosa Damascena
he had been a bore, a common creature, a nuisance, a monster--any
one of these things by turns, and sometimes all of them
altogether. She used to long for the cat to get him.
"You ought to be such a happy rose!" the merle had said to her,
one day. "There is no rose so strong and healthy as you are,
except the briers."
And from that day she had hated him. The idea of naming those
hedgerow brier roses in the same breath with her!
You would have seen in that moment of her rage a very funny sight
had you been there; nothing less funny than a rose tree trying to
box a blackbird's ears!
But, to be sure, you would only have thought the wind was blowing
about the rose, so you would have seen nothing really of the
drollery of it all, which was not droll at all to Rosa Damascena,
for a wound in one's vanity is as long healing as a wound from a
conical bullet in one's body. The blackbird had not gone near her
after that, nor any of his relations and friends, and she had had
a great many shooting and flying pains for months together, in
consequence of aphides' eggs having been laid inside her stem--
eggs of which the birds would have eased her long before if they
had not been driven away by her haughty rage.
However, she had been almost glad to have some ailment. She had
called it aneurism, and believed it made her look refined and
interesting. If it would only have made her pale! But it had not
done that: she had remained of the richest rose color.
When the winter had passed and the summer had come round again,
the grafting had done its work: she was really a Rosa Indica, and
timidly put forth the first blossom in her new estate. It was a
small, rather puny yellowish thing, not to be compared to her own
natural red clusters, but she thought it far finer.
Scarcely had it been put forth by her than the gardener whipped it
off with his knife, and bore it away in proof of his success in
She had never felt the knife before, when she had been only Rosa
Damascena: it hurt her very much, and her heart bled.
"Il faut souffrir pour etre belle," said the Banksiae in a good-
natured effort at consolation. She was not going to answer them,
and she made believe that her tears were only dew, though it was
high noon and all the dewdrops had been drunk by the sun, who by
noontime gets tired of climbing and grows thirsty.
Her next essay was much finer, and the knife whipped that off
also. That summer she bore more and more blossoms, and always the
knife cut them away, for she had been made one of the great race
of Rosa Indica.
Now, a rose tree, when a blossom is chopped or broken off, suffers
precisely as we human mortals do if we lose a finger; but the rose
tree, being a much more perfect and delicate handiwork of nature
than any human being, has a faculty we have not: it lives and has
a sentient soul in every one of its roses, and whatever one of
these endures the tree entire endures also by sympathy. You think
this very wonderful? Not at all. It is no whit more wonderful than
that a lizard's tail chopped off runs about by itself, or that a
dog can scent a foe or a thief whilst the foe or the thief is yet
miles away. All these things are most wonderful, or not at all so-
-just as you like.
In a little while she bore another child: this time it was a fine
fair creature, quite perfect in its hues and shapes. "I never saw
a prettier!" said an emperor butterfly, pausing near for a moment;
at that moment the knife of the gardener severed the rosebud's
"The lady wants one for her bouquet de corsage: she goes to the
opera to-night," the man said to another man, as he took the young
"What is the opera?" asked the mother rose wearily of the
butterfly. He did not know; but his cousin the death's-head moth,
asleep under a magnolia leaf, looked down with a grim smile on his
"It is where everything dies in ten seconds," he answered. "It is
a circle of fire; many friends of mine have flown in, none ever
returned: your daughter will shrivel up and perish miserably. One
pays for glory."
The rose tree shivered through all her stalks; but she was still
proud, and tried to think that all this was said only out of envy.
What should an old death's-head moth know, whose eyes were so weak
that a farthing rushlight blinded them?
So she lifted herself a little higher, and would not even see that
the Banksiae were nodding to her; and as for her old friend the
blackbird, how vulgar he looked, bobbing up and down hunting worms
and woodlice! could anything be more outrageously vulgar than
that staring yellow beak of his? She twisted herself round not to
see him, and felt quite annoyed that he went on and sang just the
same, unconscious of, or indifferent to, her coldness.
With each successive summer Rosa Damascena became more integrally
and absolutely a Rosa Indica, and suffered in proportion to her
fashion and fame.
True, people came continually to look at her, and especially in
Maytime would cry aloud, "What a beautiful Niphetos!" But then she
was bereaved of all her offspring, for, being of the race of
Niphetos, they were precious, and one would go to die in an hour
in a hot ballroom, and another to perish in a Sevres vase, where
the china indeed was exquisite but the water was foul, and others
went to be suffocated in the vicious gases of what the mortals
call an opera box, and others were pressed to death behind hard
diamonds in a woman's bosom; in one way or another they each and
all perished miserably. She herself also lost many of her once
luxuriant leaves, and had a little scanty foliage, red-brown in
summer, instead of the thick, dark-green clothing that she had
worn when a rustic maiden. Not a day passed but the knife stabbed
her; when the knife had nothing to take she was barren and chilly,
for she had lost the happy power of looking beautiful all the year
round, which once she had possessed.
One day came when she was taken up out of the ground and borne
into a glass house, placed in a large pot, and lifted up on to a
pedestal, and left in a delicious atmosphere, with patrician
plants all around her with long Latin names, and strange, rare
beauties of their own. She bore bud after bud in this crystal
temple, and became a very crown of blossom; and her spirit grew so
elated, and her vanity so supreme, that she ceased to remember she
had ever been a simple Rosa Damascena, except that she was always
saying to herself, "How great I am! how great I am!" which she
might have noticed that those born ladies, the Devoniensis and the
Louise de Savoie, never did. But she noticed nothing except her
own beauty, which she could see in a mirror that was let into the
opposite wall of the greenhouse. Her blossoms were many and all
quite perfect, and no knife touched them; and though to be sure
she was still very scantily clothed so far as foliage went, yet
she was all the more fashionable for that, so what did it matter?
One day, when her beauty was at its fullest perfection, she heard
all the flowers about her bending and whispering with rustling and
murmuring, saying, "Who will be chosen? who will be chosen?"
Chosen for what? They did not talk much to her, because she was
but a newcomer and a parvenue, but she gathered from them in a
little time that there was to be a ball for a marriage festivity
at the house to which the greenhouse was attached. Each flower
wondered if it would be chosen to go to it. The azaleas knew they
would go, because they were in their pink or rose ball-dresses all
ready; but no one else was sure. The rose tree grew quite sick and
faint with hope and fear. Unless she went, she felt that life was
not worth the living. She had no idea what a ball might be, but
she knew that it was another form of greatness, when she was all
ready, too, and so beautiful!
The gardener came and sauntered down the glass house, glancing
from one to another. The hearts of all beat high. The azaleas only
never changed color: they were quite sure of themselves. Who could
do without them in February?
"Oh, take me! take me! take me!" prayed the rose tree, in her
foolish, longing, arrogant heart.
Her wish was given her. The lord of their fates smiled when he
came to where she stood.
"This shall be for the place of honor," he murmured, as he lifted
her out of the large vase she lived in on to a trestle and
summoned his boys to bear her away. The very azaleas themselves
grew pale with envy.
As for the rose tree herself, she would not look at any one; she
was carried through the old garden straight past the Banksise, but
she would make them no sign; and as for the blackbird, she hoped a
cat had eaten him! Had he not known her as Rosa Damascena?
She was borne bodily, roots and all, carefully wrapped up in soft
matting, and taken into the great house.
It was a very great house, a very grand house, and there was to be
a marvelous feast in it, and a prince and princess from over the
seas were that night to honor the mistress of it by their
presence. All this Rosa Indica had gathered from the chatter of
the flowers, and when she came into the big palace she saw many
signs of excitement and confusion: servants out of livery were
running up against one another in their hurry-scurry; miles and
miles, it seemed, of crimson carpeting were being unrolled all
along the terrace and down the terrace steps, since by some
peculiar but general impression royal personages are supposed not
to like to walk upon anything else, though myself I think they
must get quite sick of red carpet, seeing so very much of it
spread for them wherever they go. To Rosa Indica, however, the
bright scarlet carpeting looked very handsome, and seemed, indeed,
a foretaste of heaven.
Soon she was carried quite inside the house, into an immense room
with a beautiful dome-shaped ceiling, painted in fresco three
centuries before, and fresh as though it had been painted
yesterday. At the end of the room was a great chair, gilded and
painted, too, three centuries before, and covered with velvet,
gold-fringed, and powdered with golden grasshoppers. "That common
insect here!" thought Rosa, in surprise, for she did not know that
the chief of the house, long, long, long ago, when sleeping in the
heat of noon in Palestine in the first crusade, had been awakened
by a grasshopper lighting on his eyelids, and so had been aroused
in time to put on his armor and do battle with a troop attacking
Saracen cavalry, and beat them; wherefore, in gratitude, he had
taken the humble field-creature as his badge for evermore.
They set the roots of Rosa Indica now into a vase--such a vase!
the royal blue of Sevres, if you please, and with border and
scroll work and all kinds of wonders and glories painted on it and
gilded on it, and standing four feet high if it stood one inch! I
could never tell you the feelings of Rosa if I wrote a thousand
pages. Her heart thrilled so with ecstasy that she almost dropped
all her petals, only her vanity came to her aid, and helped her to
control in a measure her emotions. The gardeners broke off a good
deal of mould about her roots, and they muttered one to another
something about her dying of it. But Rosa thought no more of that
than a pretty lady does when her physician tells her she will die
of tight lacing; not she! She was going to be put into that Sevres
This was enough for her, as it is enough for the lady that she is
going to be put into a hundred-guinea ball gown.
In she went. It was certainly a tight fit, as the gown often is,
and Rosa felt nipped, strained, bruised, suffocated. But an old
proverb has settled long ago that pride feels no pain, and perhaps
the more foolish the pride the less is the pain that is felt--for
They set her well into the vase, putting green moss over her
roots, and then they stretched her branches out over a gilded
trelliswork at the back of the vase. And very beautiful she
looked; and she was at the head of the room, and a huge mirror
down at the farther end opposite to her showed her own reflection.
She was in paradise!
"At last," she thought to herself, "at last they have done me
The azaleas were all crowded round underneath her, like so many
kneeling courtiers, but they were not taken out of their pots;
they were only shrouded in moss. They had no Sevres vases. And
they had always thought so much of themselves and given themselves
such airs, for there is nothing so vain as an azalea,--except,
indeed, a camellia, which is the most conceited flower in the
world, though, to do it justice, it is also the most industrious,
for it is busy getting ready its next winter buds whilst the
summer is still hot and broad on the land, which is very wise and
prudent in it and much to be commended.
Well, there was Rosa Indica at the head of the room in the Sevres
vase, and very proud and triumphant she felt throned there, and
the azaleas, of course, were whispering enviously underneath her,
"Well, after all, she was only Rosa Damascena not so VERY long
Yes, THEY KNEW! What a pity it was! They knew she had once been
Rosa Damascena and never would wash it out of their minds--the
tiresome, spiteful, malignant creatures!
Even aloft in the vase, in all her glory, the rose could have shed
tears of mortification, and was ready to cry like Themistocles,
"Can nobody give us oblivion?"
Nobody could give that, for the azaleas, who were so irritated at
being below her, were not at all likely to hold their tongues. But
she had great consolations and triumphs, and began to believe
that, let them say what they chose, she had never been a common
garden wall rose. The ladies of the house came in and praised her
to the skies; the children ran up to her and clapped their hands
and shouted for joy at her beauty; a wonderful big green bird came
in and hopped before her, cocked his head on one side, and said to
her, "Pretty Poll! oh, SUCH a pretty Poll!"
"Even the birds adore me here!" she thought, not dreaming he was
only talking of himself; for when you are as vain as was this poor
dear Rosa, creation is pervaded with your own perfections, and
even when other people say only "Poll!" you feel sure they are
saying "You!" or they ought to be if they are not.
So there she stood in her grand Sevres pot, and she was ready to
cry with the poet, "The world may end tonight!" Alas! it was not
the world which was to end. Let me hasten to close this true
There was a great dinner as the sun began to set, and the mistress
of the house came in on the arm of the great foreign prince; and
what did the foreign prince do but look up at Rosa, straight up at
her, and over the heads of the azaleas, and say to his hostess:
"What a beautiful rose you have there! A Niphetos, is it not?"
And her mistress, who had known her long as simple Rosa Damascena,
answered, "Yes, sir; it is a Niphetos."
Oh, to have lived for that hour! The silly thing thought it worth
all her suffering from the gardener's knife, all the loss of her
robust health and delightful power of flowering in all four
seasons. She was a Niphetos, really and truly a Niphetos! and not
one syllable hinted as to her origin! She began to believe she had
been BORN a tea rose!
The dinner was long and gorgeous; the guests were dazzling in
jewels and in decorations; the table was loaded with old plate and
rare china; the prince made a speech and used her as a simile of
love and joy and purity and peace. The rose felt giddy with
triumph and with the fumes of the wines around her. Her vase was
of purple and gold, and all the voices round her said, "Oh, the
beautiful rose!" No one noticed the azaleas. How she wished that
the blackbird could see for a minute, if the cat would gobble him
up the next!
The day sped on; the chatelaine and her guests went away; the
table was rearranged; the rose tree was left in its place of
honor; the lights were lit; there was the sound of music near at
hand; they were dancing in other chambers.
Above her hung a chandelier--a circle of innumerable little flames
and drops that looked like dew or diamonds. She thought it was the
sun come very close. After it had been there a little while it
grew very hot, and its rays hurt her.
"Can you not go a little farther away, O Sun?" she said to it. It
was flattered at being taken for the sun, but answered her: "I am
fixed in my place. Do you not understand astronomy?"
She did not know what astronomy was, so was silent, and the heat
hurt her. Still, she was in the place of honor: so she was happy.
People came and went; but nobody noticed her. They ate and drank,
they laughed and made love, and then went away to dance again, and
the music went on all night long, and all night long the heat of
the chandelier poured down on her.
"I am in the place of honor," she said to herself a thousand times
in each hour.
But the heat scorched her, and the fumes of the wines made her
faint. She thought of the sweet fresh air of the old garden where
the Banksiae were. The garden was quite near, but the windows were
closed, and there were the walls now between her and it. She was
in the place of honor. But she grew sick and waxed faint as the
burning rays of the artificial light shining above her seemed to
pierce through and through her like lances of steel. The night
seemed very long. She was tired.
She was erect there on her Sevres throne, with the light thrilling
and throbbing upon her in every point. But she thought of the
sweet, dark, fresh nights in the old home where the blackbird had
slept, and she longed for them.
The dancers came and went, the music thrummed and screamed, the
laughter was both near and far; the rose tree was amidst it all.
Yet she felt alone--all alone! as travelers may feel in a desert.
Hour succeeded hour; the night wore on apace; the dancers ceased
to come; the music ceased, too; the light still burned down upon
her, and the scorching fever of it consumed her like fire.
Then there came silence--entire silence. Servants came round and
put out all the lights--hundreds and hundreds of lights--quickly,
one by one. Other servants went to the windows and threw them wide
open to let out the fumes of wine. Without, the night was changing
into the gray that tells of earliest dawn. But it was a bitter
frost; the grass was white with it; the air was ice. In the great
darkness that had now fallen on all the scene this deadly cold
came around the rose tree and wrapped her in it as in a shroud.
She shivered from head to foot.
The cruel glacial coldness crept into the hot banqueting chamber,
and moved round it in white, misty circles, like steam, like
ghosts of the gay guests that had gone. All was dark and chill--
dark and chill as any grave!
What worth was the place of honor now?
Was this the place of honor?
The rose tree swooned and drooped! A servant's rough hand shook
down its worn beauty into a heap of fallen leaves. When they
carried her out dead in the morning, the little Banksia-buds, safe
hidden from the frost within their stems, waiting to come forth
when the summer should come, murmured to one another:--
"She had her wish; she was great. This way the gods grant foolish
prayers, and punish discontent!"
A poor black paint lay very unhappy in its tube one day alone,
having tumbled out of an artist's color box and lying quite
unnoticed for a year. "I am only Lampblack," he said to himself.
"The master never looks at me: he says I am heavy, dull,
lustreless, useless. I wish I could cake and dry up and die, as
poor Flake-white did when he thought she turned yellow and
But Lampblack could not die; he could only lie in his tin tube and
pine, like a silly, sorrowful thing as he was, in company with
some broken bits of charcoal and a rusty palette knife. The master
never touched him; month after month passed by, and he was never
thought of; the other paints had all their turn of fair fortune,
and went out into the world to great academies and mighty palaces,
transfigured and rejoicing in a thousand beautiful shapes and
services. But Lampblack was always passed over as dull and coarse,
which indeed he was, and knew himself to be so, poor fellow, which
made it all the worse. "You are only a deposit!" said the other
colors to him; and he felt that it was disgraceful to be a
deposit, though he was not quite sure what it meant.
"If only I were happy like the others!" thought poor, sooty
Lampblack, sorrowful in his corner. "There is Bistre, now, he is
not so very much better-looking than I am, and yet they can do
nothing without him, whether it is a girl's face or a wimple in a
The others were all so happy in this beautiful bright studio,
whose open casements were hung with myrtle and passion-flower, and
whose silence was filled with the singing of nightingales. Cobalt,
with a touch or two, became the loveliness of summer skies at
morning; the Lakes and Carmines bloomed in a thousand exquisite
flowers and fancies; the Chromes and Ochres (mere dull earths)
were allowed to spread themselves in sheets of gold that took the
shine of the sun into the darkest places; Umber, a sombre and
gloomy thing, could lurk yet in a child's curls and laugh in a
child's smiles; whilst all the families of the Vermilions, the
Blues, the Greens, lived in a perpetual glory of sunset or
sunrise, of ocean waves or autumn woods, of kingly pageant or of
It was very hard. Poor Lampblack felt as if his very heart would
break, above all when he thought of pretty little Rose Madder,
whom he loved dearly, and who never would even look at him,
because she was so very proud, being herself always placed in
nothing less than rosy clouds, or the hearts of roses, or
something as fair and spiritual.
"I am only a wretched deposit!" sighed Lampblack, and the rusty
palette knife grumbled back, "My own life has been ruined in
cleaning dirty brushes, and see what the gratitude of men and
"But at least you have been of use once; but I never am--never!"
said Lampblack, wearily; and indeed he had been there so long that
the spiders had spun their silver fleeces all about him, and he
was growing as gray as an old bottle does in a dark cellar.
At that moment the door of the studio opened, and there came a
flood of light, and the step of a man was heard: the hearts of all
the colors jumped for joy, because the step was that of their
magician, who out of mere common clays and ground ores could raise
them at a touch into splendors of the gods and divinities
Only the heart of poor dusty Lampblack could not beat a throb the
more, because he was always left alone and never was thought
worthy even of a glance. He could not believe his senses when this
afternoon--oh, miracle and ecstasy!--the step of the master
crossed the floor to the obscured corner where he lay under his
spiders' webs, and the hand of the master touched him. Lampblack
felt sick and faint with rapture. Had recognition come at last?
The master took him up, "You will do for this work," he said; and
Lampblack was borne trembling to an easel. The colors, for once in
their turn neglected, crowded together to watch, looking in their
bright tin tubes like rows of little soldiers in armor.
"It is the old dull Deposit," they murmured to one another, and
felt contemptuous, yet were curious, as scornful people often will
"But I am going to be glorious and great," thought Lampblack, and
his heart swelled high; for never more would they be able to hurl
the name of Deposit at him, a name which hurt him none the less,
but all the more indeed, because it was unintelligible.
"You will do for this work," said the master, and let Lampblack
out of his metal prison house into the light and touched him with
the brush that was the wand of magic.
"What am I going to be?" wondered Lampblack, as he felt himself
taken on to a large piece of deal board, so large that he felt he
must be going to make the outline of an athlete or the shadows of
a tempest at the least.
Himself he could not tell what he was becoming: he was happy
enough and grand enough only to be employed, and, as he was being
used, began to dream a thousand things of all the scenes he would
be in, and all the hues that he would wear, and all the praise
that he would hear when he went out into that wonderful great
world of which his master was an idol. From his secret dreams he
was harshly roused; all the colors were laughing and tittering
round him till the little tin helmets they wore shook with their
"Old Deposit is going to be a signpost," they cried to one another
so merrily that the spiders, who are not companionable creatures,
felt themselves compelled to come to the doors of their dens and
chuckle too. A signpost! Lampblack, stretched out in an ecstasy
upon the board, roused himself shivering from his dreams, and
gazed at his own metamorphosis. He had been made into seven
This word in the Italian country, where the English painter's
studio was, means, Do not trespass, do not shoot, do not show
yourself here: anything, indeed, that is peremptory and uncivil to
all trespassers. In these seven letters, outspread upon the board,
was Lampblack crucified!
Farewell, ambitious hopes and happy dreams! He had been employed
to paint a signboard, a thing stoned by the boys, blown on by the
winds, gnawed by the rats, and drenched with the winter's rains.
Better the dust and the cobwebs of his old corner than such shame
But help was there none. His fate was fixed. He was dried with a
drench of turpentine, hastily clothed in a coat of copal, and here
he yet was fully aware of all his misery, was being borne away
upon the great board out of doors and handed to the gardener. For
the master was a hasty and ardent man, and had been stung into
impatience by the slaughter of some favorite blue thrushes in his
ilex trees that day, and so in his haste had chosen to do
journeyman's work himself. Lampblack was carried out of the studio
for the last time, and as the door closed on him he heard all the
colors laughing, and the laugh of little Rose Madder was highest
of all as she cried to Naples Yellow, who was a dandy and made
court to her: "Poor old ugly Deposit! He will grumble to the owls
and the bats now!"
The door shut, shutting him out forever from all that joyous
company and palace of fair visions, and the rough hands of the
gardener grasped him and carried him to the edge of the great
garden, where the wall overlooked the public road, and there
fastened him on high with a band of iron round the trunk of a
That night it rained heavily, and the north wind blew, and there
was thunder also. Lampblack, out in the storm without his tin
house to shelter him, felt that of all creatures wretched on the
face of the earth there was not one so miserable as he.
A signboard! Nothing but a signboard!
The degradation of a color, created for art and artists, could not
be deeper or more grievous anywhere. Oh, how he sighed for his tin
tube and the quiet nook with the charcoal and the palette knife!
He had been unhappy there indeed, but still had had always some
sort of hope to solace him--some chance still remaining that one
day fortune might smile and he be allowed to be at least the
lowest stratum of some immortal work.
But now hope was there none. His doom, his end, were fixed and
changeless. Never more could he be anything but what he was; and
change there could be none till weather and time should have done
their work on him, and he be rotting on the wet earth, a shattered
and worm-eaten wreck.
Day broke--a gloomy, misty morning.
From where he was crucified upon the tree-trunk he could no longer
even see his beloved home, the studio; he could only see a dusky,
intricate tangle of branches all about him, and below the wall of
flint, with the Banksia that grew on it, and the hard muddy
highway, drenched from the storm of the night.
A man passed in a miller's cart, and stood up and swore at him,
because the people had liked to come and shoot and trap the birds
of the master's wooded gardens, and knew that they must not do it
A slug crawled over him, and a snail also. A woodpecker hammered
at him with its strong beak. A boy went by under the wall and
threw stones at him, and called him names. The rain poured down
again heavily. He thought of the happy painting room, where it had
seemed always summer and always sunshine, and where now in the
forenoon all the colors were marshaling in the pageantry of the
Arts, as he had seen them do hundreds of times from his lone
corner. All the misery of the past looked happiness now.
"If I were only dead, like Flakewhite," he thought; but the stones
only bruised, they did not kill him; and the iron band only hurt,
it did not stifle him. For whatever suffers very much has always
so much strength to continue to exist. And almost his loyal heart
blasphemed and cursed the master who had brought him to such a
fate as this.
The day grew apace, and noon went by, and with it the rain passed.
The sun shone out once more, and Lampblack, even imprisoned and
wretched as he was, could not but see how beautiful the wet leaves
looked, and the gossamers all hung with raindrops, and the blue
sky that shone through the boughs; for he had not lived with a
great artist all his days to be blind, even in pain, to the
loveliness of nature. The sun came out, and with it some little
brown birds tripped out too--very simple and plain in their
costumes and ways, but which Lampblack knew were the loves of the
poets, for he had heard the master call them so many times in
summer nights. The little brown birds came tripping and pecking
about on the grass underneath his tree-trunk, and then flew on the
top of the wall, which was covered with Banksia and many other
creepers. The brown birds sang a little song, for though they sing
most in the moonlight, they do sing by day too, and sometimes all
day long. And what they sung was this:--
"Oh, how happy we are, how happy! No nets dare now be spread for
us, no cruel boys dare climb, and no cruel shooters fire. We are
safe, quite safe, and the sweet summer has begun!"
Lampblack listened, and even in his misery was touched and soothed
by the tender liquid sounds that these little throats poured out
among the light yellow bloom of the Banksia flowers. And when one
of the brown birds came and sat on a branch by him, swaying itself
and drinking the raindrops off a leaf, he ventured to ask, as well
as he could for the iron that strangled him, why they were so
safe, and what made them so happy.
The bird looked at him in surprise.
"Do you not know?" he said. "It is YOU!"
"I!" echoed Lampblack, and could say no more, for he feared that
the bird was mocking him, a poor, silly, rusty black paint, only
spread out to rot in fair weather and foul. What good could he do
to any creature?
"You," repeated the nightingale. "Did you not see that man under
the wall? He had a gun; we should have been dead but for you. We
will come and sing to you all night long, since you like it; and
when we go to bed at dawn, I will tell my cousins, the thrushes
and merles, to take our places, so that you shall hear somebody
singing near you all the day long."
Lampblack was silent.
His heart was too full to speak.
Was it possible that he was of use, after all?
"Can it be true?" he said timidly.
"Quite true," said the nightingale.
"Then the master knew best," thought Lampblack.
Never would he adorn a palace or be adored upon an altar. His high
hopes were all dead, like last year's leaves. The colors in the
studio had all the glories of the world, but he was of use in it,
after all: he could save these little lives. He was poor and
despised, bruised by stones and drenched by storms; yet was he
content, nailed there upon his tree, for he had not been made
quite in vain.
The sunset poured its red and golden splendors through the
darkness of the boughs, and the birds sang all together, shouting
for joy and praising God.
THE CHILD OF URBINO
It was in the year of grace 1490, in the reign of Guidobaldo, Lord
of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino,--the year, by the way, of the
birth of that most illustrious and gracious lady, Vittoria
It was in the spring of the year, in that mountain eyrie beloved
of the Muses and coveted of the Borgia, that a little boy stood
looking out of a grated casement into the calm, sunshiny day. He
was a pretty boy, with hazel eyes, and fair hair cut straight
above his brows; he wore a little blue tunic with some embroidery
about the throat of it, and had in his hand a little round flat
cap of the same color. He was sad of heart this merry morning, for
a dear friend of his, a friend ten years older than himself, had
gone the night before on a journey over the mountains to Maestro
Francesco at Bologna, there to be bound apprentice to that gentle
artist. This friend, Timoteo della Vita, had been very dear to the
child, had played with him and jested with him, made him toys and
told him stories, and he was very full of pain at Timoteo's loss.
Yet he told himself not to mind, for had not Timoteo said to him,
"I go as goldsmith's 'prentice to the best of men; but I mean to
become a painter"? And the child understood that to be a painter
was to be the greatest and wisest the world held; he quite
understood that, for he was Raffaelle, the seven-year-old son of
Signor Giovanni Sanzio.
He was a very happy little boy here in this stately, yet homely
and kindly Urbino, where his people had come for refuge when the
lances of Malatesta had ravaged and ruined their homestead. He had
the dearest old grandfather in all the world; he had a loving
mother, and he had a father who was very tender to him, and
painted him among the angels of heaven, and was always full of
pleasant conceits and admirable learning, and such true love of
art that the child breathed it with every breath, as he could
breathe the sweetness of a cowslip-bell when he held one in his
hands up to his nostrils. It was good in those days to live in old
Urbino. It was not, indeed, so brilliant a place as it became in a
later day, when Ariosto came there, and Bembo and Castiglione and
many another witty and learned gentleman, and the Courts of Love
were held with ingenious rhyme and pretty sentiment, sad only for
wantonness. But, if not so brilliant, it was homelier, simpler,
full of virtue, with a wise peace and tranquillity that joined
hands with a stout courage. The burgher was good friends with his
prince, and knew that in any trouble or perplexity he could go up
to the palace, or stop the duke in the market place, and be sure
of sympathy and good counsel. There were a genuine love of
beautiful things, a sense of public duty and of public spirit, a
loyal temper and a sage contentment, among the good people of that
time, which made them happy and prosperous.
All work was solidly and thoroughly done, living was cheap, and
food good and plentiful, much better and more plentiful than it is
now; in the fine old houses every stone was sound, every bit of
ornament well wrought; men made their nests to live in and to pass
to their children and children's children after them, and had
their own fancies and their own traditions recorded in the
ironwork of their casements and in the woodwork of their doors.
They had their happy day of honest toil from matins bell to
evensong, and then walked out or sat about in the calm evening air
and looked down on the plains below that were rich with grain and
fruit and woodland, and talked and laughed among each other, and
were content with their own pleasant, useful lives, not burnt up
with envy of desire to be some one else, as in our sickly,
hurrying time most people are.
Yes, life must have been very good in those old days in old
Urbino, better than it is anywhere in ours.
Can you not picture to yourself good, shrewd, wise Giovanni
Sanzio, with his old father by his side, and his little son
running before him, in the holy evening time of a feast day, with
the deep church bells swaying above-head, and the last sun-rays
smiting the frescoed walls, the stone bastions, the blazoned
standard on the castle roof, the steep city rocks shelving down
into the greenery of cherry orchard and of pear tree? I can,
whenever I shut my eyes and recall Urbino as it was; and would it
had been mine to live then in that mountain home, and meet that
divine child going along his happy smiling way, garnering
unconsciously in his infant soul all the beautiful sights and
sounds around him, to give them in his manhood to the world.
"Let him alone: he will paint all this some day," said his wise
father, who loved to think that his brushes and his colors would
pass in time to Raffaelle, whose hands would be stronger to hold
them than his own had been. And, whether he would ever paint it or
not, the child never tired of thus looking from his eyrie on the
rocks and counting all that passed below through the blowing corn
under the leafy orchard boughs.
There were so many things to see in Urbino in that time, looking
so over the vast green valley below: a clump of spears, most
likely, as men-at-arms rode through the trees; a string of market
folk bringing in the produce of the orchards or the fields;
perchance a red-robed cardinal on a white mule with glittering
housings, behind him a sumpter train rich with baggage, furniture,
gold and silver plate; maybe the duke's hunting party going out or
coming homeward with caracoling steeds, beautiful hounds straining
at their leash, hunting horns sounding merrily over the green
country; maybe a band of free lances, with plumes tossing, steel
glancing, bannerets fluttering against the sky; or maybe a quiet
gray-robed string of monks or pilgrims singing the hymn sung
before Jerusalem, treading the long lush grass with sandaled feet,
coming towards the city, to crowd slowly and gladly up its rocky
height. Do you not wish with me you could stand in the window with
Raffaelle to see the earth as it was then?
No doubt the good folks of Urbino laughed at him often for a
little moonstruck dreamer, so many hours did he stand looking,
looking,--only looking,--as eyes have a right to do that see well
and not altogether as others see. Happily for him, the days of his
childhood were times of peace, and he did not behold, as his
father had done, the torches light up the street and the flames
devour the homesteads.
At this time Urbino was growing into fame for its pottery work:
those big dishes and bowls, those marriage plates and pharmacy
jars which it made, were beginning to rival the products of its
neighbor Gubbio, and when its duke wished to send a bridal gift,
or a present on other festal occasions, he oftenest chose some
service or some rare platter of his own Urbino ware. Now, pottery
had not then taken the high place among the arts of Italy that it
was destined very soon to do. As you will learn when you are
older, after the Greeks and the Christians had exhausted all that
was beautiful in shape and substance of clay vases, the art seemed
to die out, and the potters and the pottery painters died with it,
or at any rate went to sleep for a great many centuries, whilst
soldiers and prelates, nobles and mercenaries, were trampling to
and fro all over the land and disputing it, and carrying fire and
torch, steel and desolation, with them in their quarrels and
covetousness. But now, the reign of the late good duke, great
Federigo, having been favorable to the Marches (as we call his
province now), the potters and pottery painters, with other gentle
craftsmen, had begun to look up again, and the beneficent fires of
their humble ovens had begun to burn in Castel Durante, in Pesaro,
in Faenza, in Gubbio, and in Urbino itself. The great days had not
yet come: Maestro Giorgio was but a youngster, and Orazio Fontane
not born, nor the clever baker Prestino either, nor the famous Fra
Xanto; but there was a Don Giorgio even then in Gubbio, of whose
work, alas! one plate now at the Louvre is all we have; and here
in the ducal city on the hill rich and noble things were already
being made in the stout and lustrous majolica that was destined to
acquire later on so wide a ceramic fame. Jars and bowls and
platters, oval dishes and ewers and basins, and big-bodied, metal-
welded pharmacy vases were all made and painted at Urbino whilst
Raffaelle Sanzio was running about on rosy infantine feet. There
was a master-potter of the Montefeltro at that time, one Maestro
Benedetto Ronconi, whose name had not become world-renowned as
Orazio Fontane's and Maestro Giorgio's did in the following
century, yet who in that day enjoyed the honor of all the duchy,
and did things very rare and fine in the Urbino ware. He lived
within a stone's throw of Giovanni Sanzio, and was a gray-haired,
handsome, somewhat stern and pompous man, now more than middle-
aged, who had one beauteous daughter, by name Pacifica. He
cherished Pacifica well, but not so well as he cherished the
things he wrought--the deep round nuptial plates and oval massive
dishes that he painted with Scriptural stories and strange
devices, and landscapes such as those he saw around, and flowing
scrolls with Latin mottoes in black letters, and which, when thus
painted, he consigned with an anxiously beating heart to the trial
of the ovens, and which sometimes came forth from the trial all
cracked and blurred and marred, and sometimes emerged in triumph
and came into his trembling hands iridescent and lovely with those
lustrous and opaline hues which we admire in them to this day as
the especial glory of majolica.
Maestro Benedetto was an ambitious and vain man, and had had a
hard, laborious manhood, working at his potter's wheel and
painter's brush before Urbino ware was prized in Italy or even in
the duchy. Now, indeed, he was esteemed at his due worth, and his
work was so also, and he was passably rich, and known as a good
artist beyond the Marches; but there was a younger man over at
Gubbio, the Don Giorgio who was precursor of unequaled Maestro
Giorgio Andreoli, who surpassed him, and made him sleep o' nights
on thorns, as envy makes all those to do who take her as their
The house of Maestro Benedetto was a long stone building, with a
loggia at the back all overclimbed by hardy rose trees, and
looking on a garden that was more than half an orchard, and in
which grew abundantly pear trees, plum trees, and wood strawberries.
The lancet windows of his workshop looked on all this quiet greenery.
There were so many such pleasant workshops then in the land--calm,
godly, homelike places, filled from without with song of birds and
scent of herbs and blossoms. Nowadays men work in crowded, stinking
cities, in close factory chambers; and their work is barren as their
The little son of neighbor Sanzio ran in and out this bigger,
wider house and garden of Maestro Benedetto at his pleasure, for
the maiden Pacifica was always glad to see him, and even the
sombre master-potter would unbend to him, and show him how to lay
the color on to the tremulous, fugitive, unbaked biscuit.
Pacifica was a lovely young woman of some seventeen or eighteen
summers; and perhaps Raffaelle was but remembering her when he
painted in his after-years the face of his Madonna di San Sisto.
He loved her as he loved everything that was beautiful and every
one who was kind; and almost better than his own beloved father's
studio, almost better than his dear old grandsire's cheerful
little shop, did he love this grave, silent, sweet-smelling, sun-
pierced, shadowy old house of Maestro Benedetto.
Maestro Benedetto had four apprentices or pupils in that time
learning to become figuli, but the one whom Raffaelle liked the
most (and Pacifica too) was one Luca Torelli, of a village above
in the mountains,--a youth with a noble, dark, pensive beauty of
his own, and a fearless gait, and a supple, tall, slender figure
that would have looked well in the light coat of mail and silken
doublet of a man-at-arms. In sooth, the spirit of Messer Luca was
more made for war and its risks and glories than for the wheel and
the brush of the bottega; but he had loved Pacifica ever since he
had come down one careless holy-day into Urbino, and had bound
himself to her father's service in a heedless moment of eagerness
to breathe the same air and dwell under the same roof as she did.
He had gained little for his pains: to see her at mass and at
mealtimes, now and then to be allowed to bring water from the well
for her or feed her pigeons, to see her gray gown go down between
the orchard trees and catch the sunlight, to hear the hum of her
spinning wheel, the thrum of her viol--this was the uttermost he
got of joy in two long years; and how he envied Raffaelle running
along the stone floor of the loggia to leap into her arms, to hang
upon her skirts, to pick the summer fruit with her, and sort with
her the autumn herbs for drying!
"I love Pacifica!" he would say, with a groan, to Raffaelle; and
Raffaelle would say, with a smile, "Ah, Luca, so do I!"
"It is not the same thing, my dear," sighed Luca; "I want her for
"I shall have no wife; I shall marry myself to painting," said
Raffaelle, with a little grave, wise face looking out from under
the golden roof of his fair hair. For he was never tired of
watching his father painting the saints with their branch of palm
on their ground of blue or of gold, or Maestro Benedetto making
the dull clay glow with angels' wings and prophets' robes and holy
legends told in color.
Now, one day, as Raffaelle was standing and looking thus at his
favorite window in the potter's house, his friend, the handsome,
black-browed Luca, who was also standing there, did sigh so deeply
and so deplorably that the child was startled from his dreams.
"Good Luca, what ails you?" he murmured, winding his arms about
the young man's knees.
"Oh, 'Faello!" mourned the apprentice, woefully. "Here is such a
chance to win the hand of Pacifica if only I had talent--such
talent as that Giorgio of Gubbio has! If the good Lord had only
gifted me with a master's skill, instead of all this bodily
strength and sinew, like a wild hog of the woods, which avails me
"What chance is it?" asked Raffaelle, "and what is there new about
Pacifica? She told me nothing, and I was with her an hour."
"Dear simple one, she knows nothing of it," said Luca, heaving
another tremendous sigh from his heart's deepest depths. "You must
know that a new order has come in this very forenoon from the
duke; he wishes a dish and a jar of the very finest and firmest
majolica to be painted with the story of Esther, and made ready in
three months from this date, to then go as his gifts to his
cousins of Gonzaga. He has ordered that no cost be spared in the
work, but that the painting thereof be of the best that can be
produced, and the prize he will give is fifty scudi. Now, Maestro
Benedetto, having known some time, it seems, of this order, has
had made in readiness several large oval dishes and beautiful big-
bellied jars: he gives one of each to each of his pupils,--to
myself, to Berengario, to Tito, and Zenone. The master is sorely
distraught that his eyesight permits him not himself to execute
the duke's commands; but it is no secret that should one of us be
so fortunate as to win the duke's approbation, the painter who
does so shall become his partner here and shall have the hand of
Pacifica. Some say that he has only put forth this promise as a
stimulus to get the best work done of which his bottega is
capable; but I know Maestro Benedetto too well to deem him guilty
of any such evasion. What he has said, he will carry out; if the
vase and the dish win the duke's praise, they will also win
Pacifica. Now you see, 'Faello mine, why I am so bitterly sad of
heart, for I am a good craftsman enough at the wheel and the
furnace, and I like not ill the handling and the moulding of the
clay, but at the painting of the clay I am but a tyro, and
Berengario or even the little Zenone will beat me; of that I am
Raffaelle heard all this in silence, leaning his elbows on his
friend's knee, and his chin on the palms of his own hands. He knew
that the other pupils were better painters by far than his Luca,
though not one of them was such a good-hearted or noble-looking
youth, and for none of them did the maiden Pacifica care.
"How long a time is given for the jar and the dish to be ready?"
he asked, at length.
"Three months, my dear," said Luca, with a sigh sadder than ever.
"But if it were three years, what difference would it make? You
cannot cudgel the divine grace of art into a man with blows as you
cudgel speed into a mule, and I shall be a dolt at the end of the time
as I am now. What said your good father to me but yesternight?--and
he IS good to me and does not despise me. He said: 'Luca, my son,
it is of no more avail for you to sigh for Pacifica than for the
moon. Were she mine I would give her to you, for you have a heart
of gold, but Signor Benedetto will not; for never, I fear me, will
you be able to decorate anything more than an apothecary's mortar
or a barber's basin. If I hurt you, take it not ill; I mean kindness,
and were I a stalwart youth like you I would go try my fortunes in
the Free Companies in France or Spain, or down in Rome, for you are
made for a soldier.' That was the best even your father could say
for me, 'Faello."
"But Pacifica," said the child,--"Pacifica would not wish you to
join the Free Companies."
"God knows," said Luca, hopelessly. "Perhaps she would not care."
"I am sure she would," said Raffaelle, "for she does love you,
Luca, though she cannot say so, being but a girl, and Signor
Benedetto against you. But that redcap you tamed for her, how she
loves it, how she caresses it, and half is for you, Luca, half for
Luca kissed him.
But the tears rolled down the poor youth's face, for he was much
in earnest and filled with despair.
"Even if she did, if she do," he murmured hopelessly, "she never
will let me know it, since her father forbids a thought of me; and
now here is this trial of skill at the duke's order come to make
things worse, and if that swaggering Berengario of Fano win her,
then truly will I join the free lances and pray heaven send me
swift shrive and shroud."
Raffaelle was very pensive for a while; then he raised his head,
"I have thought of something, Luca. But I do not know whether you
will let me try it."
"You angel child! What would your old Luca deny to you? But as for
helping me, my dear, put that thought out of your little mind
forever, for no one can help me, 'Faello, not the saints
themselves, since I was born a dolt!"
Raffaelle kissed him, and said, "Now listen!"
A few days later Signer Benedetto informed his pupils in
ceremonious audience of the duke's command and of his own
intentions; he did not pronounce his daughter's name to the
youths, but he spoke in terms that were clear enough to assure
them that whoever had the good fortune and high merit to gain the
duke's choice of his pottery should have the honor of becoming
associate in his own famous bottega. Now, it had been known in
Urbino ever since Pacifica had gone to her first communion that
whoever pleased her father well enough to become his partner would
have also to please her as her husband. Not much attention was
given to maidens' wishes in those times, and no one thought the
master-potter either unjust or cruel in thus suiting himself
before he suited his daughter. And what made the hearts of all the
young men quake and sink the lowest was the fact that Signer
Benedetto offered the competition, not only to his own apprentices,
but to any native of the duchy of Urbino. For who could tell what
hero might not step forth from obscurity and gain the great prize
of this fair hand of Pacifica's? And with her hand would go many
a broad gold ducat, and heritage of the wide old gray stone house,
and many an old jewel and old brocade that were kept there in dusky
sweet-smelling cabinets, and also more than one good piece of land,
smiling with corn and fruit trees, outside the gates in the lower
pastures to the westward.
Luca, indeed, never thought of these things, but the other three
pupils did, and other youths as well. Had it not been for the
limitation as to birth within the duchy, many a gallant young
painter from the other side of the Apennines, many a lusty
vasalino or boccalino from the workshops of fair Florence herself,
or from the Lombard cities, might have traveled there in hot haste
as fast as horses could carry them, and come to paint the clay for
the sake of so precious a recompense. But Urbino men they had to
be; and poor Luca, who was so full of despair that he could almost
have thrown himself headlong from the rocks, was thankful to
destiny for even so much slender mercy as this,--that the number
of his rivals was limited.
"Had I been you," Giovanni Sanzio ventured once to say
respectfully to Signor Benedetto, "I think I should have picked
out for my son-in-law the best youth that I knew, not the best
painter; for be it said in all reverence, my friend, the greatest
artist is not always the truest man, and by the hearthstone humble
virtues have sometimes high claim."
Then Signor Benedetto had set his stern face like a flint, knowing
very well what youth Messer Giovanni would have liked to name to
"I have need of a good artist in my bottega to keep up its fame,"
he had said stiffly. "My vision is not what it was, and I should
be loath to see Urbino ware fall back, whilst Pesaro and Gubbio
and Castel Durante gain ground every day. Pacifica must pay the
penalty, if penalty there be, for being the daughter of a great
Mirthful, keen-witted Sanzio smiled to himself, and went his way
in silence; for he who loved Andrea Mantegna did not bow down in
homage before the old master-potter's estimation of himself, which
was in truth somewhat overweening in its vanity.
"Poor Pacifica!" he thought; "if only my 'Faello were but some
He, who could not foresee the future, the splendid, wondrous,
unequaled future that awaited his young son, wished nothing better
for him than a peaceful painter's life here in old Urbino, under
the friendly shadow of the Montefeltro's palace walls.
Meanwhile, where think you was Raffaelle? Half the day, or all the
day, and every day whenever he could? Where think you was he?
Well, in the attic of Luca, before a bowl and a dish almost as big
as himself. The attic was a breezy, naked place, underneath the
arches supporting the roof of Maestro Benedetto's dwelling. Each
pupil had one of these garrets to himself,--a rare boon, for which
Luca came to be very thankful, for without it he could not have
sheltered his angel; and the secret that Raffaelle had whispered
to him that day of the first conference had been, "Let ME try and
For a long time Luca had been afraid to comply, had only forborne
indeed from utter laughter at the idea from his love and reverence
for the little speaker. Baby Sanzio, who was only just seven years
old as the April tulips reddened the corn, painting a majolica
dish and vase to go to the Gonzaga of Mantua! The good fellow
could scarcely restrain his shouts of mirth at the audacious
fancy; and nothing had kept him grave but the sight of that most
serious face of Raffaelle, looking up to his with serene, sublime
self-confidence, nay, perhaps, rather, confidence in heaven and in
"Let me try!" said the child a hundred times. He would tell no
one, only Luca would know; and if he failed--well, there would
only be the spoiled pottery to pay for, and had he not two whole
ducats that the duke had given him when the court had come to
behold his father's designs for the altar frescos at San Dominico
So utterly in earnest was he, and so intense and blank was Luca's
absolute despair, that the young man had in turn given way to his
entreaties. "Never can I do aught," he thought, bitterly, looking
at his own clumsy designs, "And sometimes by the help of cherubs
the saints work miracles,"
"It will be no miracle," said Raffaelle, hearing him murmur this;
"it will be myself, and that which the dear God has put into me."
From that hour Luca let him do what he would, and through all
these lovely early summer days the child came and shut himself up
in the garret, and studied, and thought, and worked, and knitted
his pretty fair brows, and smiled in tranquil satisfaction,
according to the mood he was in and the progress of his labors.
Giovanni Sanzio went away at that time to paint an altar-piece
over at Citta di Castello, and his little son for once was glad he
was absent. Messer Giovanni would surely have remarked the long
and frequent visits of Raffaelle to the attic, and would, in all
likelihood, have obliged him to pore over his Latin or to take
exercise in the open fields; but his mother said nothing, content
that he should be amused and safe, and knowing well that Pacifica
loved him and would let him come to no harm under her roof.
Pacifica herself did wonder that he deserted her so perpetually
for the garret. But one day when she questioned him the sweet-
faced rogue clung to her and murmured, "Oh, Pacifica, I do want
Luca to win you, because he loves you so; and I do love you both!"
And she grew pale, and answered him, "Ah, dear, if he could!" and
then said never a word more, but went to her distaff; and
Raffaelle saw great tears fall off her lashes down among the flax.
She thought he went to the attic to watch how Luca painted, and
loved him more than ever for that, but knew in the hopelessness of
her heart--as Luca also knew it in his--that the good and gallant
youth would never be able to create anything that would go as the
duke's gifts to the Gonzaga of Mantua. And she did care for Luca!
She had spoken to him but rarely indeed, yet passing in and out of
the same doors, and going to the same church offices, and dwelling
always beneath the same roof, he had found means of late for a
word, a flower, a serenade. And he was so handsome and so brave,
and so gentle, too, and so full of deference. Poor Pacifica cared
not in the least whether he could paint or not. He could have made
In the attic Raffaelle passed the most anxious hours of all his
sunny little life. He would not allow Luca even to look at what he
did. He barred the door and worked; when he went away he locked
his work up in a wardrobe. The swallows came in and out of the
unglazed window, and fluttered all around him; the morning
sunbeams came in, too, and made a nimbus round his golden head,
like that which his father gilded above the heads of saints.
Raffaelle worked on, not looking off, though clang of trumpet, or
fanfare of cymbal, often told him there was much going on worth
looking at down below. He was only seven years old, but he labored
as earnestly as if he were a man grown, his little rosy ringers
gripping that pencil which was to make him in life and death
famous as kings are not famous, and let his tender body lie in its
last sleep in the Pantheon of Rome.
He had covered hundreds of sheets with designs before he had
succeeded in getting embodied the ideas that haunted him. When he
had pleased himself at last, he set to work to transfer his
imaginations to the clay in color in the subtile luminous metallic
enamel that characterizes Urbino majolica.
Ah, how glad he was now that his father had let him draw from the
time he was two years old, and that of late Messer Benedetto had
shown him something of the mysteries of painting on biscuit and
producing the metallic lustre which was the especial glory of the
pottery of the duchy!
How glad he was, and how his little heart bounded and seemed to
sing in this his first enjoyment of the joyous liberties and
powers of creative work!
A well-known writer has said that genius is the power of taking
pains; he should have said rather that genius HAS this power also,
but that first and foremost it possesses the power of spontaneous
and exquisite production without effort and with delight.
Luca looked at him (not at his work, for the child had made him
promise not to do so) and began to marvel at his absorption, his
intentness, the evident facility with which he worked: the little
figure leaning over the great dish on the bare board of the table,
with the oval opening of the window and the blue sky beyond it,
began to grow sacred to him with more than the sanctity of
childhood. Raffaelle's face grew very serious, too, and lost its
color, and his large hazel eyes looked very big and grave and
"Perhaps Signer Giovanni will be angry with me if ever he knows,"
thought poor Luca; but it was too late to alter anything now. The
child Sanzio had become his master.
So Raffaelle, unknown to any one else, worked on and on there in
the attic while the tulips bloomed and withered, and the
honeysuckle was in flower in the hedges, and the wheat and barley
were being cut in the quiet fields lying far down below in the
sunshine. For midsummer was come; the three months all but a week
had passed by. It was known that every one was ready to compete
for the duke's choice.
One afternoon Raffaelle took Luca by the hand and said to him,
He led the young man up to the table, beneath the unglazed window,
where he had passed so many of these ninety days of the spring and
Luca gave a great cry, and stood gazing, gazing, gazing. Then he
fell on his knees and embraced the little feet of the child: it
was the first homage that he, whose life became one beautiful song
of praise, received from man.
"Dear Luca," he said softly, "do not do that. If it be indeed
good, let us thank God."
What his friend saw were the great oval dish and the great jar or
vase standing with the sunbeams full upon them, and the brushes
and the tools and the colors all strewn around. And they shone
with lustrous opaline hues and wondrous flame-like glories and
gleaming iridescence, like melted jewels, and there were all
manner of graceful symbols and classic designs wrought upon them;
and their borders were garlanded with cherubs and flowers, bearing
the arms of Montefeltro, and the landscapes were the tender,
homely landscapes round about Urbino; and the mountains had the
solemn radiance that the Apennines wore at eveningtime; and amidst
the figures there was one supreme, white-robed, golden-crowned
Esther, to whom the child painter had given the face of Pacifica.
And this wondrous creation, wrought by a baby's hand, had safely
and secretly passed the ordeal of the furnace, and had come forth
without spot or flaw.
Luca ceased not from kneeling at the feet of Raffaelle, as ever
since has kneeled the world.
"Oh, wondrous boy! Oh, angel sent unto men!" sighed the poor
'prentice, as he gazed; and his heart was so full that he burst
"Let us thank God," said little Raffaelle again; and he joined his
small hands that had wrought this miracle, and said his Laus
When the precious jar and the great platter were removed to the
wardrobe and shut up in safety behind the steel wards of the
locker, Luca said timidly, feeling twenty years in age behind the
wisdom of this divine child: "But, dearest boy, I do not see how
your marvelous and most exquisite accomplishment can advantage me.
Even if you would allow it to pass as mine, I could not accept
such a thing; it would be a fraud, a shame: not even to win
Pacifica could I consent."
"Be not so hasty, good friend," said Raffaelle. "Wait just a
little longer yet and see. I have my own idea. Do trust in me."
"Heaven speaks in you, that I believe," said Luca, humbly.
Raffaelle answered not, but ran downstairs, and, passing Pacifica,
threw his arms about her in more than his usual affectionate
"Pacifica, be of good heart," he murmured, and would not be
questioned, but ran homeward to his mother.
"Can it be that Luca has done well," thought Pacifica; but she
feared the child's wishes had outrun his wisdom. He could not be
any judge, a child of seven years, even though he were the son of
that good and honest painter and poet, Giovanni Sanzio.
The next morning was midsummer day. Now, the pottery was all to be
placed on this forenoon in the bottega of Signor Benedetto; and
the Duke Guidobaldo was then to come and make his choice from
amidst them; and the master-potter, a little because he was a
courtier, and more because he liked to affect a mighty indifference
and to show he had no favoritism, had declared that he would not
himself see the competing works of art until the eyes of the Lord
of Montefeltro also fell upon them.
As for Pacifica, she had locked herself in her chamber, alone with
her intense agitation. The young men were swaggering about, and
taunting each other, and boasting. Luca alone sat apart, thrumming
an old lute. Giovanni Sanzio, who had ridden home at evening from
Citta di Castello, came in from his own house and put his hand on
the youth's shoulder.
"I hear the Pesaro men have brought fine things. Take courage, my
lad. Maybe we can entreat the duke to dissuade Pacifica's father
from this tyrannous disposal of her hand."
Luca shook his head wearily.
There would be one beautiful thing there, indeed, he knew; but
what use would that be to him?
"The child--the child--" he stammered, and then remembered that he
must not disclose Raffaelle's secret.
"My child?" said Signor Giovanni. "Oh, he will be here; he will be
sure to be here: wherever there is a painted thing to be seen,
there always, be sure, is Raffaelle."
Then the good man sauntered within from the loggia, to exchange
salutations with Ser Benedetto, who, in a suit of fine crimson
with doublet of sad-colored velvet, was standing ready to advance
bareheaded into the street as soon as the hoofs of the duke's
charger should strike on the stones.
"You must be anxious in your thoughts," said Signor Giovanni to
him. "They say a youth from Pesaro brings something fine: if you
should find yourself bound to take a stranger into your workroom
and your home--"
"If he be a man of genius, he will be welcome," answered Messer
Ronconi, pompously. "Be he of Pesaro, or of Fano, or of Castel
Durante, I go not back from my word: I keep my word, to my own
hindrance even, ever."
"Let us hope it will bring you only joy and triumph here," said
his neighbor, who knew him to be an honest man and a true, if
over-obstinate and too vain of his own place in Urbino.
"Our lord the duke!" shouted the people standing in the street;
and Ser Benedetto walked out with stately tread to receive the
honor of his master's visit to his bottega.
Raffaelle slipped noiselessly up to his father's side, and slid
his little hand into Sanzio's.
"You are not surely afraid of our good Guidobaldo!" said his
father, with a laugh and some little surprise, for Raffaelle was
very pale, and his lower lip trembled a little.
"No," said the child, simply.
The young duke and his court came riding down the street, and
paused before the old stone house of the master-potter,--splendid
gentlemen, though only in their morning apparel, with noble
Barbary steeds fretting under them, and little pages and liveried
varlets about their steps. Usually, unless he went hunting or on a
visit to some noble, Guidobaldo, like his father, walked about
Urbino like any one of his citizens; but he knew the pompous and
somewhat vainglorious temper of Messer Benedetto, and good-
naturedly was willing to humor its harmless vanities. Bowing to
the ground, the master-potter led the way, walking backward into
his bottega; the courtiers followed their prince; Giovanni Sanzio
with his little son and a few other privileged persons went in
also at due distance. At the farther end of the workshop stood the
pupils and the artists from Pesaro and other places in the duchy
whose works were there in competition. In all there were some ten
competitors: poor Luca, who had set his own work on the table with
the rest as he was obliged to do, stood hindmost of all, shrinking
back, to hide his misery, into the deepest shadow of the deep-
bayed latticed window.
On the narrow deal benches that served as tables on working days
to the pottery painters were ranged the dishes and the jars, with
a number attached to each--no name to any, because Signor
Benedetto was resolute to prove his own absolute disinterestedness
in the matter of choice: he wished for the best artist. Prince
Guidobaldo, doffing his plumed cap courteously, walked down the
long room and examined each production in its turn. On the whole,
the collection made a brave display of majolica, though he was
perhaps a little disappointed at the result in each individual
case, for he had wanted something out of the common run and
absolutely perfect. Still, with fair words he complimented Signor
Benedetto on the brave show, and only before the work of poor Luca
was he entirely silent, since indeed silence was the greatest
kindness he could show to it: the drawing was bold and regular,
but the coloring was hopelessly crude, glaring, and ill-disposed.
At last, before a vase and a dish that stood modestly at the very
farthest end of the deal bench, the duke gave a sudden exclamation
of delight, and Signor Benedetto grew crimson with pleasure and
surprise, and Giovanni Sanzio pressed a little nearer and tried to
see over the shoulders of the gentlemen of the court, feeling sure
that something rare and beautiful must have called forth that cry
of wonder from the Lord of Montefeltro, and having seen at a
glance that for his poor friend Luca there was no sort of hope.
"This is beyond all comparison," said Guidobaldo, taking the great
oval dish up reverently in his hands. "Maestro Benedetto, I do
felicitate you indeed that you should possess such a pupil. He
will be a glory to our beloved Urbino."
"It is indeed most excellent work, my lord duke," said the master-
potter, who was trembling with surprise and dared not show all the
astonishment and emotion that he felt at the discovery of so
exquisite a creation in his bottega. "It must be," he added, for
he was a very honest man, "the work of one of the lads of Pesaro
or Castel Durante. I have no such craftsman in my workshop. It is
"It is worth its weight in gold!" said the prince, sharing his
emotion. "Look, gentlemen--look! Will not the fame of Urbino be
borne beyond the Apennines and Alps?"
Thus summoned, the court and the citizens came to look, and
averred that truly never in Urbino had they seen such painting on
majolica. "But whose is it?" said Guidobaldo, impatiently, casting
his eyes over the gathered group in the background of apprentices
and artists. "Maestro Benedetto, I pray you, the name of the
artist; I pray you, quick!"
"It is marked number eleven, my lord," answered the master-potter.
"Ho, you who reply to that number, stand out and give your name.
My lord duke has chosen your work. Ho, there! do you hear me?"
But not one of the group moved. The young men looked from one to
another. Who was this nameless rival? There were but ten of
"Ho, there!" repeated Signor Benedetto, getting angry. "Cannot you
find a tongue, I say? Who has wrought this work? Silence is but
insolence to his highness and to me!"
Then the child Sanzio loosened his little hand from his father's
hold, and went forward, and stood before the master-potter.
"I painted it," he said, with a pleased smile; "I, Raffaelle."
Can you not fancy, without telling, the confusion, the wonder, the
rapture, the incredulity, the questions, the wild ecstasy of
praise, that followed on the discovery of the child artist? Only
the presence of Guidobaldo kept it in anything like decent
quietude, and even he, all duke though he was, felt his eyes wet
and felt his heart swell; for he himself was childless, and for
the joy that Giovanni Sanzio felt that day he would have given his
patrimony and duchy.
He took a jewel hung on a gold chain from his own breast and threw
it over Raffaelle's shoulders.
"There is your first guerdon," he said; "you will have many, O
wondrous child, who shall live when we are dust!"
Raffaelle, who himself was all the while quite tranquil and
unmoved, kissed the duke's hand with sweetest grace, then turned
to his own father.
"It is true I have won my lord duke's prize?"
"Quite true, my angel!" said Giovanni Sanzio, with tremulous
Raffaelle looked up at Maestro Benedetto.
"Then I claim the hand of Pacifica!"
There was a smile on all the faces round, even on the darker
countenances of the vanquished painters.
"Oh, would indeed you were of age to be my son by marriage, as you
are the son of my heart!" murmured Signor Benedetto. "Dear and
marvelous child, you are but jesting, I know. Tell me what it is
indeed that you would have. I could deny you nothing; and truly it
is you who are my master."
"I am your pupil," said Raffaelle, with that pretty serious smile
of his, his little fingers playing with the ducal jewel. "I could
never have painted that majolica yonder had you not taught me the
secrets and management of your colors. Now, dear maestro mine, and
you, O my lord duke, do hear me! I by the terms of the contest
have won the hand of Pacifica and the right of association with
Messer Ronconi. I take these rights and I give them over to my
dear friend Luca of Fano, because he is the honestest man in all
the world, and does honor Signor Benedetto and love Pacifica as no
other can do so well, and Pacifica loves him, and my lord duke
will say that thus all will be well."
So with the grave, innocent audacity of a child he spoke--this
seven-year-old painter who was greater than any there.
Signor Benedetto stood mute, sombre, agitated. Luca had sprung
forward and dropped on one knee; he was as pale as ashes.
Raffaelle looked at him with a smile.
"My lord duke," he said, with his little gentle smile, "you have
chosen my work; defend me in my rights."
"Listen to the voice of an angel, my good Benedetto; heaven speaks
by him," said Guidobaldo, gravely, laying his hand on the arm of
Harsh Signor Benedetto burst into tears.
"I can refuse him nothing," he said, with a sob. "He will give
such glory unto Urbino as never the world hath seen!"
"And call down this fair Pacifica whom Raffaelle has won," said
the sovereign of the duchy, "and I will give her myself as her
dower as many gold pieces as we can cram into this famous vase. An
honest youth who loves her and whom she loves--what better can you
do, Benedetto? Young man, rise up and be happy. An angel has
descended on earth this day for you."
But Luca heard not; he was still kneeling at the feet of
Raffaelle, where the world has knelt ever since.
There was a little boy, a year or two ago, who lived under the
shadow of Martinswand. Most people know, I should suppose, that
the Martinswand is that mountain in the Oberinnthal where, several
centuries past, brave Kaiser Max lost his footing as he stalked
the chamois, and fell upon a ledge of rock, and stayed there, in
mortal peril, for thirty hours, till he was rescued by the
strength and agility of a Tyrol hunter--an angel in the guise of a
hunter, as the chronicles of the time prefer to say.
The Martinswand is a grand mountain, being one of the spurs of the
greater Sonnstein, and rises precipitously, looming, massive and
lofty, like a very fortress for giants, where it stands right
across that road which, if you follow it long enough, takes you
through Zell to Landeck,--old, picturesque, poetic Landeck, where
Frederick of the Empty Pockets rhymed his sorrows in ballads to
his people,--and so on by Bludenz into Switzerland itself, by as
noble a highway as any traveler can ever desire to traverse on a
summer's day. It is within a mile of the little burg of Zell,
where the people, in the time of their emperor's peril, came out
with torches and bells, and the Host lifted up by their priest,
and all prayed on their knees underneath the steep gaunt pile of
limestone, that is the same to-day as it was then, whilst Kaiser
Max is dust; it soars up on one side of this road, very steep and
very majestic, having bare stone at its base, and being all along
its summit crowned with pine woods; and on the other side of the
road are a little stone church, quaint and low, and gray with age,
and a stone farmhouse, and cattle sheds, and timber sheds, all of
wood that is darkly brown from time; and beyond these are some of
the most beautiful meadows in the world, full of tall grass and
countless flowers, with pools and little estuaries made by the
brimming Inn River that flows by them; and beyond the river are
the glaciers of the Sonnstein and the Selrain and the wild Arlberg
region, and the golden glow of sunset in the west, most often seen
from here through the veil of falling rain.
At this farmhouse, with Martinswand towering above it, and Zell a
mile beyond, there lived, and lives still, a little boy who bears
the old historical name of Findelkind, whose father, Otto Korner,
is the last of a sturdy race of yeomen, who had fought with Hofer
and Haspinger, and had been free men always.
Findelkind came in the middle of seven other children, and was a
pretty boy of nine years, with slenderer limbs and paler cheeks
than his rosy brethren, and tender dreamy eyes that had the look,
his mother told him, of seeking stars in midday: de chercher midi
a quatorze heures, as the French have it. He was a good little
lad, and seldom gave any trouble from disobedience, though he
often gave it from forgetfulness. His father angrily complained
that he was always in the clouds,--that is, he was always
dreaming, and so very often would spill the milk out of the pails,
chop his own fingers instead of the wood, and stay watching the
swallows when he was sent to draw water. His brothers and sisters
were always making fun of him: they were sturdier, ruddier, and
merrier children than he was, loved romping and climbing and
nutting, thrashing the walnut trees and sliding down snowdrifts,
and got into mischief of a more common and childish sort than
Findelkind's freaks of fancy. For indeed he was a very fanciful
little boy: everything around had tongues for him; and he would
sit for hours among the long rushes on the river's edge, trying to
imagine what the wild green-gray water had found in its
wanderings, and asking the water rats and the ducks to tell him
about it; but both rats and ducks were too busy to attend to an
idle little boy, and never spoke, which vexed him.
Findelkind, however, was very fond of his books; he would study
day and night, in his little ignorant, primitive fashion. He loved
his missal and his primer, and could spell them both out very
fairly, and was learning to write of a good priest in Zirl, where
he trotted three times a week with his two little brothers. When
not at school, he was chiefly set to guard the sheep and the cows,
which occupation left him very much to himself; so that he had
many hours in the summertime to stare up to the skies and wonder--
wonder--wonder about all sorts of things; while in the winter--the
long, white, silent winter, when the post-wagons ceased to run,
and the road into Switzerland was blocked, and the whole world
seemed asleep, except for the roaring of the winds--Findelkind,
who still trotted over the snow to school in Zirl, would dream
still, sitting on the wooden settle by the fire, when he came home
again under Martinswand. For the worst--or the best--of it all was
that he WAS Findelkind.
This is what was always haunting him. He was Findelkind; and to
bear this name seemed to him to mark him out from all other
children and to dedicate him to heaven. One day three years
before, when he had been only six years old, the priest in Zirl,
who was a very kindly and cheerful man, and amused the children as
much as he taught them, had not allowed Findelkind to leave school
to go home, because the storm of snow and wind was so violent, but
had kept him until the worst should pass, with one or two other
little lads who lived some way off, and had let the boys roast a
meal of apples and chestnuts by the stove in his little room, and,
while the wind howled and the blinding snow fell without, had told
the children the story of another Findelkind--an earlier
Findelkind, who had lived in the flesh on Arlberg as far back as
1381, and had been a little shepherd lad, "just like you," said
the good man, looking at the little boys munching their roast
crabs, and whose country had been over there, above Stuben, where
Danube and Rhine meet and part.
The pass of Arlberg is even still so bleak and bitter that few
care to climb there; the mountains around are drear and barren,
and snow lies till midsummer, and even longer sometimes. "But in
the early ages," said the priest (and this is quite a true tale
that the children heard with open eyes, and mouths only not open
because they were full of crabs and chestnuts), "in the early
ages," said the priest to them, "the Arlberg was far more dreary
than it is now. There was only a mule track over it, and no refuge
for man or beast; so that wanderers and peddlers, and those whose
need for work or desire for battle brought them over that
frightful pass, perished in great numbers, and were eaten by the
bears and the wolves. The little shepherd-boy Findelkind--who was
a little boy five hundred years ago, remember," the priest
repeated--"was sorely disturbed and distressed to see these poor
dead souls in the snow winter after winter, and seeing the
blanched bones lie on the bare earth, unburied, when summer melted
the snow. It made him unhappy, very unhappy; and what could he do,
he a little boy keeping sheep? He had as his wages two florins a
year; that was all; but his heart rose high, and he had faith in
God. Little as he was, he said to himself, he would try and do
something, so that year after year those poor lost travelers and
beasts should not perish so. He said nothing to anybody, but he
took the few florins he had saved up, bade his master farewell,
and went on his way begging--a little fourteenth-century boy, with
long, straight hair, and a girdled tunic, as you see them,"
continued the priest, "in the miniatures in the black-letter
missal that lies upon my desk. No doubt heaven favored him very
strongly, and the saints watched over him; still, without the
boldness of his own courage and the faith in his own heart, they
would not have done so. I suppose, too, that when knights in their
armor, and soldiers in their camps, saw such a little fellow all
alone, they helped him, and perhaps struck some blows for him, and
so sped him on his way, and protected him from robbers and from
wild beasts. Still, be sure that the real shield and the real
reward that served Findelkind of Arlberg was the pure and noble
purpose that armed him night and day. Now, history does not tell
us where Findelkind went, nor how he fared, nor how long he was
about it; but history does tell us that the little barefooted,
long-haired boy, knocking so loudly at castle gates and city walls
in the name of Christ and Christ's poor brethren, did so well
succeed in his quest that before long he had returned to his
mountain home with means to have a church and a rude dwelling
built, where he lived with six other brave and charitable souls,
dedicating themselves to St. Christopher, and going out night and
day to the sound of the Angelus, seeking the lost and weary. This
is really what Findelkind of Arlberg did five centuries ago, and
did so quickly that his fraternity of St. Christopher twenty years
after numbered among its members archdukes, and prelates, and
knights without number, and lasted as a great order down to the
days of Joseph II. This is what Findelkind in the fourteenth
century did, I tell you. Bear like faith in your hearts, my
children; and though your generation is a harder one than this,
because it is without faith, yet you shall move mountains, because
Christ and St. Christopher will be with you."
Then the good man, having said that, blessed them, and left them
alone to their chestnuts and crabs, and went into his own oratory
to prayer. The other boys laughed and chattered; but Findelkind
sat very quietly, thinking of his namesake, all the day after, and
for many days and weeks and months this story haunted him. A
little boy had done all that; and this little boy had been called
Findelkind; Findelkind, just like himself.
It was beautiful, and yet it tortured him. If the good man had
known how the history would root itself in the child's mind,
perhaps he would never have told it; for night and day it vexed
Findelkind, and yet seemed beckoning to him and crying, "Go thou
and do likewise!"
But what could he do?
There was the snow, indeed, and there were the mountains, as in
the fourteenth century, but there were no travelers lost. The
diligence did not go into Switzerland after autumn, and the
country people who went by on their mules and in their sledges to
Innspruck knew their way very well, and were never likely to be
adrift on a winter's night, or eaten by a wolf or a bear.
When spring came, Findelkind sat by the edge of the bright pure
water among the flowering grasses, and felt his heart heavy.
Findelkind of Arlberg who was in heaven now must look down, he
fancied, and think him so stupid and so selfish, sitting there.
The first Findelkind, a few centuries before, had trotted down on
his bare feet from his mountain pass, and taken his little crook,
and gone out boldly over all the land on his pilgrimage, and
knocked at castle gates and city walls in Christ's name and for
love of the poor! That was to do something indeed!
This poor little living Findelkind would look at the miniatures in
the priest's missal, in one of which there was the little
fourteenth-century boy with long hanging hair and a wallet and
bare feet, and he never doubted that it was the portrait of the
blessed Findelkind who was in heaven; and he wondered if he looked
like a little boy there, or if he were changed to the likeness of
"He was a boy just like me," thought the poor little fellow, and
he felt so ashamed of himself--so very ashamed; and the priest had
told him to try and do the same. He brooded over it so much, and
it made him so anxious and so vexed, that his brothers ate his
porridge and he did not notice it, his sisters pulled his curls
and he did not feel it, his father brought a stick down on his
back and he only started and stared, and his mother cried because
he was losing his mind and would grow daft, and even his mother's
tears he scarcely saw. He was always thinking of Findelkind in
When he went for water, he spilt one-half; when he did his
lessons, he forgot the chief part; when he drove out the cow, he
let her munch the cabbages; and when he was set to watch the oven,
he let the loaves burn, like great Alfred. He was always busied
thinking: "Little Findelkind that is in heaven did so great a
thing: why may not I? I ought! I ought!" What was the use of being
named after Findelkind that was in heaven, unless one did
something great, too?
Next to the church there is a little stone lodge, or shed, with
two arched openings, and from it you look into the tiny church
with its crucifixes and relics, or out to the great, bold, sombre
Martinswand, as you like best; and in this spot Findelkind would
sit hour after hour, while his brothers and sisters were playing,
and look up at the mountains or on to the altar, and wish and pray
and vex his little soul most woefully; and his ewes and his lambs
would crop the grass about the entrance, and bleat to make him
notice them and lead them farther afield, but all in vain. Even
his dear sheep he hardly heeded, and his pet ewes, Katte and
Greta, and the big ram Zips, rubbed their soft noses in his hand
unnoticed. So the summer droned away--the summer that is so short
in the mountains, and yet so green and so radiant, with the
torrents tumbling through the flowers, and the hay tossing in the
meadows, and the lads and lasses climbing to cut the rich sweet
grass of the alps. The short summer passed as fast as a dragonfly
flashes by, all green and gold, in the sun; and it was near winter
once more, and still Findelkind was always dreaming and wondering
what he could do for the good of St. Christopher; and the longing
to do it all came more and more into his little heart, and he
puzzled his brain till his head ached. One autumn morning, whilst
yet it was dark, Findelkind made his mind up, and rose before his
brothers, and stole downstairs and out into the air, as it was
easy to do, because the house door never was bolted. He had
nothing with him; he was barefooted, and his school satchel was
slung behind him, as Findelkind of Arlberg's wallet had been five
He took a little staff from the piles of wood lying about, and
went out on to the highroad, on his way to do heaven's will. He
was not very sure what that divine will wished, but that was
because he was only nine years old, and not very wise; but
Findelkind that was in heaven had begged for the poor; so would
His parents were very poor, but he did not think of them as in any
want at any time, because he always had his bowlful of porridge
and as much bread as he wanted to eat. This morning he had nothing
to eat; he wished to be away before any one could question him.
It was quite dusk in the fresh autumn morning: the sun had not
risen behind the glaciers of the Stubaithal, and the road was
scarcely seen; but he knew it very well, and he set out bravely,
saying his prayers to Christ, and to St. Christopher, and to
Findelkind that was in heaven.
He was not in any way clear as to what he would do, but he thought
he would find some great thing to do somewhere, lying like a jewel
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