The World's Greatest Books, Vol. I
Part 6 out of 7
Then Eli fell ill, and Birgit blamed Baard because Mathilde had gone
away from the parsonage on a visit to town without bidding good-bye to
Eli. It seemed to Baard that whatever he did was wrong.
"You either keep silent too much, or you talk too much," said his wife.
During Eli's illness Baard would often sit and talk with Arne, and one
day he told him how he had been driven to attack Nils, and then how he
had courted and won Birgit.
"She was very melancholy at first," said Baard, "and I had nothing to
say; and then she got into bustling, domineering ways, and I had nothing
to say to that. But one day of real happiness I've not had the twenty
years we've been married."
When Eli was getting better, her mother came down one evening and asked
Arne, in her daughter's name, to go up and sing to her. Eli had heard
him singing. Arne was confused, but gave in and went upstairs.
The room was in darkness, and he had not seen Eli since the day she had
fallen ill, and he had helped to carry her to her room. Arne sat down in
a chair at the foot of the bed. When people talk in the dark they are
generally more truthful than when they see one another's faces.
Eli made Arne sing to her, first a hymn, and then a song of his own. For
some time there was silence between them, and then Eli said, "I wonder,
Arne, that you, who have so much that is beautiful within, should want
to go away. You must not go away."
"There are times when I seem not to want to so much," he answered.
Presently Arne could hear her weeping, and he felt that he must
move--either forward or back.
"Yes." Both voices were at a whisper.
"Give me your hand."
She made no answer. He listened, quickly, closely, stretched out his own
hand, and grasped a warm little hand that lay bare.
There was a step on the stairs; they let go of one another, and Birgit
entered with a light. "You've been sitting too long in the dark," she
said, putting the candle on the table. But neither Eli nor Arne could
bear the light; she turned to the pillow, and he shaded his face with
"Ah, yes; it's a bit dazzling at first," said the mother, "but the
feeling soon passes away."
Next day Arne heard that Eli was better and going to come down for a
time after dinner. He at once put his tools together, and bade farewell
to the farm. And when Eli came downstairs he was gone.
_IV.--After Many Years_
It was springtime when Margit went up to the parsonage. There was
something heavy on her heart. Letters had come from Kristen for Arne,
and she had been afraid to give them to her son lest he should go away
and join his friend. Kristen had even sent money, and this Margit had
given to Arne, pretending it had been left him by his grandmother. All
this Margit poured out to the old pastor, and also her fears that Arne
would go travelling.
"Ah!" he said, smiling, "if only there was some little lassie who could
get hold of him. Eli Boeen, eh? And if he could manage so that they could
meet sometimes at the parsonage."
Margit looked up anxiously.
"Well, we'll see what we can do," he went on; "for, to tell you the
truth, my wife and daughter have long been of the same mind."
Then came the summer, and one day, when the heavens were clear, Arne
walked out and threw himself down on the grass. He meant to go to the
parsonage and borrow a newspaper. He had not been to Boeen since that
night in the sick-room, and now he glanced towards the house, and then
turned away his eyes. Presently he heard someone singing his song, the
song he had lost the very day he made it.
Fain would I know what the world may be
Over the mountains high.
Mine eyes can nought but the white snow see,
And up the steep sides the dark fir-tree,
That climbs as if yearning to know.
Say, tree, dost thou venture to go?
There were eight verses, and Arne stood listening till the last word had
died away. He must see who it was, and presently above him he caught
sight of Eli.
The sunlight was falling straight on her, and it seemed to Arne, as he
looked at her, that he had never seen or dreamt of anything more
beautiful in his life. He watched her get up, without letting himself be
seen, and presently she was gone. Arne no longer wanted to go to the
parsonage, but he went and sat where she had sat, and his breast was
full of gentle feelings.
Eli often went to the parsonage, and one Sunday evening Margit found her
there, and persuaded the girl to walk back to Kampen with her. Eli
entered the house only when she heard that Arne was not at home. It was
the first time she had visited the homestead. Margit took her all over
the house, and showed her Arne's room, and opened a little chest full of
silk kerchiefs and ribbons.
"He bought something each time he's been to the town," Margit remarked.
Eli would have given anything to go away, but she dared not speak.
In a special compartment in the chest she had seen a buckle, a pair of
gold rings, and a hymn-book bound with silver clasps, and wrought on the
"Eli Baardsdatter Boeen."
The mother put back the things, closed the box, and clasped the girl to
her heart; for Eli was weeping.
When they were downstairs again, they heard a man's step in the passage,
and Arne entered, and saw Eli.
"You here?" he said, and blushed a fiery red. Then he put his arms
around her, and she leant her head on his breast. He whispered something
in her ear, and for a long while they stood in silence, her arms around
As they walked home together in the fair summer evening, they could
utter but few words in their strange, new Happiness. Nature interpreted
their hearts to one another, and on his way back from that first
summer-night's walk, Arne made many new songs.
It was harvest time when the marriage of Eli with Arne was celebrated.
The Black Water was full of boats taking people to Boeen.
All the doors were open at the house. Eli was in her room with Mathilde
and the pastor's wife. Arne was downstairs looking out from the window.
Presently Baard and Birgit, both dressed, for church, met on the stairs,
and went up together to a garret where they were alone. Baard had
something to say, but it was hard to say it.
"Birgit," he began, "you've been thinking, as I've been, I daresay. _He_
stood between us two, I know, and it's gone on a long time. To-day a son
of his has come into our house, and to him we've given our only
daughter.... Birgit, can't we, too, join our hearts to-day?"
His voice trembled, but no answer came.
They heard Eli outside, calling gently: "Aren't you coming, mother?"
"Yes, I'm coming now, dear!" said Birgit, in a choking voice. She walked
across the room to Baard, took his hand in hers, and broke into violent
sobs. The two hands clung tight and it was hand in hand they opened the
door and went downstairs. And when the bridal train streamed down to the
landing stage, and Arne gave his hand to Eli, Baard, against all custom,
took Birgit's hand in his own and followed them calmly, happily,
In the boat his eyes rested on the bridal pair and on his wife. "Ah!" he
said to himself, "no one would have thought such a thing possible twenty
* * * * *
In God's Way
"In God's Way" belongs to the second group of Bjoernson's
novels, of which the first group is represented by early
peasant tales like "Arne." In this later category the stories
are of a more or less didactic nature. Although "In God's Way"
lacks something of the freshness and beauty that distinguished
"Arne," it is, nevertheless a powerful and vivid picture of
Norwegian religious life; and it is, of all Bjoernson's books,
the one by which he is most widely known outside his native
country. In this story Bjoernson has been influenced by the
social dramas of his compatriot, Ibsen; but it may be
questioned whether he has not brought to his task a higher
inspiration and a stronger faith in humanity than the famous
dramatist possessed. Published in 1889, the main theme of "In
God's Way" was undoubtedly suggested by the religious
excitement which then prevailed in Norway.
_I.--A Strange Home-coming_
Pastor Tuft was walking up and down his study, composing his Sunday
sermon. He was a handsome man, with a long, fair face, and dreamy eyes;
his wife, Josephine, in the days when she thought she was in love with
him, used to call him Melanchthon--that was not many years ago, and he
still resembled in appearance the poet of the Reformation. But his
features had now lost their fine serenity, and he was glad when his
bitter and troubled thoughts on the doctrine of justification--a subject
he had chosen for its bearing on his brother-in-law's conduct--were
interrupted by his wife. Josephine burst into his study in a state of
"They will be here in a moment," she said. "The steamer has arrived. Oh,
that woman, that woman! She has ruined my brother's life!"
"If he wanted to settle again in Norway with her," said the pastor,
"couldn't he have chosen some spot where the story of their misconduct
was not known? But to come to the very town! Everybody will remember!"
"Yes," said Josephine; "it is only six years since Edward ran off to
America with Soeren Kule's wife. Surely, he will not expect you, a
minister, to receive the woman, especially as Kule is still living."
While she was talking, Tuft stared out of the window. A tall man in
light clothes was coming to the house--a tall man, with a clear-cut,
sunburnt face, and a lean, curved nose that gave him the air of a bird
of prey. By his side was a lady with sweet, delicate features, dressed
in a tartan travelling costume. There was a knock at the door. Josephine
went down very slowly, and opened it. "Edward!"
There was a glow in her eyes as she welcomed her brother, and his eyes
also lighted up. He was about to cross the threshold, when he noticed
that she completely disregarded his companion. In the meantime, Tuft had
come to the door; he, too, made no advances. There was always something
of the keen, wild look of an eagle about Edward Kallem; it became still
more striking as he glared at his sister and brother-in-law.
"Are you waiting," he said, "for me to introduce my wife? Well, here she
So the pair had married in America! If Tuft and Josephine had not been
so eager to impute every sort of misconduct to runaways, they would have
foreseen this natural event. Tuft tried to find something to say, but
failed, and glanced at Josephine. But she did not look as if she were
willing to help him.
For the fact that Edward and Ragni were now married increased rather
than diminished Josephine's bitterness. Although she would not admit it
to herself, her religious objections were a mere pretence. She was
jealous, jealous with the strange jealousy of a sister who wanted to be
all in all to her brilliant brother, and hated that another woman should
be more to him than she was. All her life had been centred on him. She
had married Ole Tuft, a poor peasant's son, because he was the bosom
friend of Edward. Her marriage, she thought, would connect them still
more closely. She wanted to live by his side, watching him rise into
fame as the greatest doctor in Norway. For young Kallem's masters had
predicted that he would prove to be a man of genius.
Possessing considerable wealth, he had taken up the study of medicine,
not as a means of livelihood, but as a matter of love and duty. Then,
six years ago, he had run off with old Soeren Kule's young wife, and
Josephine's dream had come to an end, leaving her life little more than
a dull, empty round of routine housework.
This was why she now gazed with hard, cold eyes at Ragni. Edward Kallem
saw her look of wild hatred, and, taking his weeping wife gently by the
arm, he turned away, and led her from the house into the road.
Josephine went upstairs, and gazed from the study window at the
retreating figures. Her husband followed her, with a curious look in his
eyes. Neither of them spoke. In their hearts was raging a storm of
passion wilder than the anger which possessed Kallem, and the sorrow
which bowed down Ragni.
Josephine left the room without looking-at her husband. He gazed after
her still with the same curious look in his eyes. Then, pulling himself
together, he went on writing his sermon. "What makes God so merciful to
sinners?" he wrote. "His infinite love? Yes, justification is certainly
an act of mercy, but it is also an act of judgment. The claims of the
law must be first fulfilled. A sinner must believe in order to be
The point in this was that Edward Kallem was a freethinker. There could
be no forgiveness for him. At the bottom of his heart, Tuft was glad
that there had been no reconciliation. Ever since he had married the
wealthy and beautiful sister of his bosom friend, he had been jealous of
Josephine's passionate attachment to her brother. Her brother had
remained her hero, and the peasant she had married and enriched was
little more than her servant.
While, with these bitter thoughts in his head, Tuft was composing his
sermon Josephine was writing a dastardly letter. It was to Soeren Kule.
Edward and Ragni had returned, married. There was an empty house near
the one they had bought. Would Soeren Kule come and live in it? So the
letter ran. The next day, Sunday, Josephine went to church in a very
Christianlike frame of mind. She felt she had done her duty, and avenged
herself in doing it.
_II.--The Poison of Tongues_
At first things did not go as Josephine expected. With the exception of
his sister and brother-in-law, everybody welcomed Edward Kallem and his
wife back to his native town. At the house of Pastor Meek, the oldest
and most influential of the clergy, Ragni was introduced to a middle-
aged lady, who startled her by saying:
"I am Soeren Kule's sister. I want to tell you that, in your position, I
should have acted just as you did."
This, indeed, was the general verdict. No one who knew Soeren Kule blamed
Ragni. An old rake, blind and half-paralysed as the immediate result of
ill-living, he had worried his first wife, Ragni's sister, into the
grave, and then taken advantage of the young girl's innocence to marry
her. The man was a mass of corruption, and his second marriage was one
of those strangely cruel crimes which go unpunished in the present state
of society. Kallem, who was then lodging in the same house as Kule, was
maddened by it. Being a doctor, he foresaw clearly the fate of the pure,
lovely, girlish victim of Kule's brutal passion, and in rescuing her
from it he had displayed, in the opinion of his friends, the chivalry of
soul of a modern knight-errant.
Pastor Meek was a liberal-minded and courageous old man; he showed his
sympathy with the Kallems, and his trust in them, in a practical manner.
"My grandson, Karl," he said to Kallem, "is at school here. I wish you
would let him come, now and then, to your house. He is only nineteen
years old, but he promises to be a first-rate composer. Your wife plays
the piano beautifully. They ought to get on well together."
Kallem was so pleased with this mark of approval that he went the next
morning to the young musician's lodgings, and invited him to come and
live with him. Karl Meek was a lanky, awkward hobbledehoy, with a
tousled head of hair and long red hands, which were always covered with
chilblains. Ragni asked him to play a simple duet, but he made so many
mistakes in playing that she got up from the piano. He was upset, and
ran away from the house. Kallem spent an afternoon looking for him, and
brought him back with his hair cut, his nails trimmed, and his clothes
"Can't you see?" said Kallem to his wife. "The lad's shy and afraid of
you. Do, my dear, make him feel quite at home."
Ragni was a sweet and gentle woman, and though she did not like Karl
much at first, she took him in hand, and, little by little, obtained a
great influence over the wild creature. As his fine poetic nature
gradually revealed itself, she began to mother him. They were often seen
walking out together, and as soon as the snow was firm, they used to go
and meet Kallem, and drive home with him, each standing on one of the
runners of his sledge. One afternoon, after they had been skating
together on the frozen bay, they were returning, without Kallem, when a
carriage barred their way. At the sound of Ragni's voice, the man inside
"There she goes! Who is it with her? Another man? Ah, I thought that's
what would happen!"
Ragni shuddered. It was Soeren Kule. The paralysed old rake turned his
blind face upon her, as though he could see her, and had caught her
doing wrong. The carriage stopped by the next house to the Kallems.
Before Kule could get out, Ragni had run indoors. Shortly afterwards her
husband arrived. She saw that he, too, had met Kule, and he saw that she
had gone into the bedroom to hide herself. She buried her head in his
arms; it seemed to her that the air was now full of evil spirits.
And so it was. Edward Kallem did not know it, as he was now too busy to
go out anywhere. He was spending a great deal of his wealth in fitting
out a private hospital for the study and treatment of the diseases that
he specialised in. But Karl Meek soon became aware of malign influences
working around him, and around the two persons for whom he would
willingly, nay, happily, have laid down his life. He met an old friend
in the street, who said to him:
"How do you stand in regard to Mrs. Kallem?"
Karl did not take in his meaning, and began to praise Ragni
"Yes, I know all about that," his friend interrupted. "But, to make a
clean breast of it, are you her lover?"
"How dare you, how dare you!" cried Karl.
His friend quietly said that he only wanted to warn Karl; the report had
certainly got about.
"You've been a great deal together, you know," said his friend; "that
has given the scandal-mongers something to go on."
Both Edward and Ragni saw that something had happened to Karl when he
returned. He was in a black mood; he did not speak; his blue eyes were,
by turns, strangely savage and strangely sorrowful. He had to go home at
once, he said. He could not tell them now what the matter was, but he
would write to them, as soon as he could pluck up the courage to do so.
He packed his luggage, and Kallem went to see him off.
A few days afterwards, Ragni received a letter from Karl. He was going
to Berlin, he said, to take up the study of music seriously. And then,
for four pages, he talked about his prospects. But there was another
page, a loose one, on which was written in red ink: "Read this when you
"I have decided, Ragni," Karl wrote, "that it would be wisest to tell
you why I left so suddenly. Someone has started a dreadful slander
against us. If I do not now tell you, you will hear it from the lips of
some enemy. Ah, God! that I should have brought this upon you! Love you?
Of course I love you. How could I help doing so, after all your kindness
to me? And as for Edward, I worship the ground he treads on. He is the
noblest man I have ever met. But do not show him this letter. Spare him
the evil news as long as possible. Now that I have gone away, it may all
Kallem did not get home from the hospital that night until eight
o'clock. When he came home his wife was lying in bed with a headache.
She did not get up the next morning. She was in bed several days. When
at last she got up, her husband noticed that she had grown very thin;
her face had a tired, delicate expression; there were dark rings around
her sweet eyes, and she was troubled with a cough.
_III.--The Fell Work of Slander_
Ragni now did not stir outside her own door. She longed for fresh air,
but she would not go out into the town for fear of the cruel, curious
eyes of the scandal-mongers. Soeren Kule haunted her. His house
overlooked her garden, and she got the strange fancy into her head that
he was always sitting at the window blindly listening for her. So she
never even went for a walk in the park-like grounds which Kallem had
purchased wholly for her pleasure.
The poison of scandal had done its work. Her husband, unfortunately,
never suspected that she was really ill; he had a deep longing for a
child of his marriage, and, misled by too eager a hope, he
misinterpreted the strange alteration in his wife's health.
But one evening, when she coughed, some blood came up. Kallem saw it,
and the hideous truth came upon him in a blinding flash. It was the
terrible disease which he had spent the greater part of his fortune in
fighting against. Tuberculosis! But how was it that it had come so
suddenly, and ravaged her dear, sweet, tender body so furiously? She was
in a galloping consumption, and the end was not far off ... a few
weeks ... a few days, perhaps.
"Darling," he said, coming to her bedside one day, "isn't there some
secret you would like to confide in me--some secret that has been
hurting and distressing you? Tell me, dearest, for I shall have no peace
until I know it."
"I will tell you," she said. "I have just been thinking about it. You
will find some papers in my writing-table--they are all for you. Read
them, dear, when----" she broke off abruptly--"by and by. You will
understand that it was for your sake I kept it secret."
He went downstairs, and in the writing-table he found Karl's letter.
Horror, indignation, and helplessness overcame him. Why had he not known
of this in time? He would have gone to every soul in the town, and told
them that they lied.
"Ay," he said, "I will tell them so yet. They have murdered
her--cowardly murdered her! Ah, God, I have spent my life and my fortune
in my endeavours to benefit them, and there's not one of them--not
one--honest enough to tell me to defend my wife's good name!"
What drove him almost to madness was that there was none he could go to
and take by the throat, exclaiming: "You have done this! You are
answerable to me for this!" Still, there was one who stood apart from
the others--Josephine. Josephine had not invented the slander; that was
not her way. But she would believe what was invented when it concerned
anyone she disliked. And how she disliked Ragni! Yes, it was Josephine
and her hypocrite of a husband who had laid his darling open to this
sort of attack. Very well! Everything else was gone--his joy of life,
his interest in science, and his love of mankind. But he still had
something to live for--vengeance!
As he was sitting one evening by the bedside of his wife the door
opened, and Karl Meek came into the room. "Is she dead?" said the boy.
Ragni heard the question. She looked up, and tried to smile. Her eyes
rested for a moment on Karl, and then remained on her husband. A moment
after she was dead.
Josephine was surprised to hear that Karl Meek was the only person whom
her brother allowed to follow the coffin of his dead wife. Did that mean
that Edward did not suspect him? Or, more likely, that he had forgiven
him? Ah, if one could be as good as that!
"God's way with sinners," said Tuft, "may seem cruel, but it is really
kind and merciful. The death of that woman will work for Edward's good:
Of course, he feels it keenly now, but he will get over it. It is a
blessing in disguise."
As soon as Tuft uttered these words he felt the sheer brutality of them.
By a strange irony of fate, his own child had fallen ill about the time
that Ragni took to her bed, and the minister and his wife were now
talking over the couch of their suffering little boy. Something was
wrong with his chest, and Josephine would have liked to call in her
clever brother in place of the ordinary family doctor, but she would not
humble herself to beg his help. Perhaps it was the shock of her
husband's words that aroused her, but that night the springs of her
nature were strangely opened. She came downstairs in her nightdress to
Tuft's bed, and awoke him. Her eyes were fixed in a blank stare.
"I can't sleep, Ole," she whispered. "I want to warn you. That woman--
Edward's wife--is trying to take away our boy. We have been too hard on
her--too hard. Now she will make us pay for it."
"You are not yourself, Josephine," said Tuft, rising up, and dressing
himself hastily. "I will fetch the doctor."
"No, no!" she cried. "Ask Edward to come."
Tuft did not dare do this himself, but he got his doctor to approach
Kallem, who made an appointment to examine the child early next morning.
Josephine shrieked when she saw him. Under the stress of mental
suffering, the flesh on his face had wasted to the bone; he was the
image of death. Without speaking to either of the parents he went to the
child, tapped its chest lightly here and there, and then said something
to the doctor and went out.
"He has gone to get his instruments," the doctor whispered. "The case is
extremely serious. An operation must be performed at once."
Josephine did not speak, neither did Tuft. They had been watching
Kallem's face as he bent over their boy, and in it they seemed to read
the sentence of death. They had called him in too late.
They were mistaken. Edward Kallem came hurrying back with a staff of
trained assistants. Tuft and Josephine were locked outside their child's
room. An hour afterwards the door was opened. The boy's life was saved.
This they learnt from their own doctor, but Kallem himself departed
without even speaking to them.
That night, over the body of the sleeping child, Ole Tuft at last dealt
sternly and truly with himself. Three times, in the course of the day,
had he gone to Kallem's house to thank him for saving his boy's life.
But Kallem had refused to see him. At the third refusal Tuft understood.
If ever he entered his brother-in-law's house he would enter it a
changed man. He was now vowing that he would begin this new life by
uniting Edward and Josephine. It was his jealousy, he admitted to
himself, which had been the root of all the mischief.
Edward had been his hero, too, in his younger days, and it was this
common worship of a nobler and more gifted nature which had brought him
and Josephine together. Why had he not let it remain the base of their
intercourse? Their marriage would then have been a happy one, and his
own life would have been filled with larger thoughts and more generous
While Pastor Tuft was meditating, his wife was acting. She too, had been
refused admittance to her brother's house. So she was writing to him.
For whatever wrong they might have done, she said, they wished to make
amends. They had been intolerant, she allowed, and they were sorry for
it. But surely they were worthy to be accused? Would he not, then, tell
them plainly what they had done to make him so angry?
Some days afterwards, Josephine received a large envelope addressed to
her by her brother. But she was surprised, on opening it, to find that
it was full of papers in two strange handwritings. They were letters to
Kallem, from Ragni and Karl Meek. Josephine trembled as she looked at
them. She began by chance with Meek's letters. Ragni innocent? Good God!
was she innocent? Yes! Now she understood why Edward had driven away on
the day of the funeral with only Karl Meek by his side; but she could
not understand how he had survived it.
The servant knocked at her bedroom door, saying that supper was ready.
"No, no!" she managed to exclaim, as she writhed in shame and sorrow.
She must go at once to her brother if she had to go to him on her knees.
But no! Here were Ragni's letters. She felt as if her brother were
standing over her, and forcing her to read them. Some of them were early
love-letters. There had been no misconduct. Her chivalrous brother and
the sweet, gentle woman whom he had rescued from a horrible fate had
lived apart from one another in America until the day of their marriage.
Josephine slipped from the chair down upon her knees, weeping and
sobbing. "Forgive me! Forgive me!" she whispered, pressing Ragni's
letters in her hands.
Then she forced herself to silence, so that no one might discover her
crouching there in the shame of her crime. She had murdered her
brother's wife--not by words, but by her silence! Yes, she was a
murderess! Well, let Edward deal with her as he thought fit!
She ran wildly out of the house into the dark, rainy street, past her
husband's church, past the white wall of Soeren Kule's dwelling. Her
brother was standing in the open door, surrounded by trunks and boxes.
Was he thinking of going away? Tears streamed down her face.
She could get no further. He drew himself upright, his face white and
"You shall never enter here!" he said, with a break in his voice.
He bent down to do up a trunk. When he got up she was gone. With a
fierce look in his eyes, he continued his preparations. He meant to
catch the first train the next morning, and get at once far away from
his native town. What he would then do he did not know, except that he
would never return. When everything was ready, he locked the front door
and went to bed. But he could not sleep. Twice in the night the
door-bell rang, but he would not open the door. It rang a third time,
and kept on ringing; and at last he got out of bed. It was Ole Tuft. His
face was ghastly.
"Where is my wife, Edward Kallem? What have you done with my wife?" he
"Ragni's grave," said Kallem. "She is there, I think."
And then he slammed the door to. Just as dawn was breaking, the bell
rang again. Kallem went into the hall, and saw that two pieces of paper
had been thrust through the letter-box. On one, Tuft had written: "She
is not there, Edward; she was not there. I found this note on my
writing-table among the letters you sent her. Oh, Edward, it was not
like you to send her away!" On the other piece of paper Josephine had
written: "Read these, Ole, and you will understand all. For my life's
sake, I am now going to my brother!"
"For my life's sake!" Kallem shivered as he read it, and all his old
love for his sister came back to him. Had he killed her? She had wronged
Ragni, true; but it was merely out of jealousy. Jealousy because he had
made Ragni all in all to him, and left her out of his life. He could
have brought his wife and sister together, but he had not tried to do
it. Ah, he, too, was guilty! All her life long Josephine had looked up
to him and worshipped him. Then he had come back from America, and cast
her off, for one who was not worthy of him, so it seemed to her. And in
his fierce pride he had refused to reveal to her the fine character of
He rushed out of the door, resolved to find what had become of her. She
was sitting on the steps of the house. As she saw him, she crouched down
like a wounded bird, which cannot get away, yet must not be seen. He
took her up into his arms, and carried her indoors.
"Let me stay, Edward--let me stay!" she said.
He bent over her and kissed her.
"God's ways! God's ways!" said Ole Tuft, as he and Edward and Josephine
walked slowly towards his house through the empty streets in the early
"But I still cannot share your faith," Kallem said.
"It matters not," said the minister. "There where good people walk, are
* * * * *
A Daughter of Heth
William Black, born in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 13, 1841, was
educated with a view to being a landscape painter, a training
that clearly influenced his literary life. He became a painter
of scenery in words. At the age of twenty-three he went to
London, after some experience in Glasgow journalism, and
joined the staff of the "Morning Star," and, later, the "Daily
News," of which journal he became assistant-editor. His first
novel appeared in 1868, but it was not until the publication
of "A Daughter of Heth," in 1871, that Black secured the
attention of the reading public. "The Strange Adventures of a
Phaeton" followed, and in 1873 "A Princess of Thule" attained
great popularity. Retiring from journalism the next year he
devoted himself entirely to fiction. A score of novels
followed, the last in 1898, just before his death on December
10 of that year. No novelist has lavished more tender care on
the portrayal of his heroines, or worked up more delicately a
scenic background for plaintive sentiment.
_I.--In Strange Surroundings_
"Noo, Wattie," said the Whaup, "ye maun say a sweer before ye get up.
I'm no jokin', and unless ye be quick ye'll be in the water."
Wattie Cassilis, the "best boy" of the Airlie Manse, paragon of
scholars, and exemplar to his four brothers, was depending from a small
bridge over the burn, his head downward and a short distance from the
water, his feet being held close to the parapet by the muscular arms of
his eldest brother, Tammas Cassilis, commonly known as the Whaup.
"Wattie," repeated the Whaup, "say a sweer, or into the burn ye'll gang
as sure as daith!" and he dipped Wattie a few inches, so that the
ripples touched his head. Wattie set up a fearful howl.
"Now, will ye say it?"
"_Deevil!_" cried Wattie. "Let me up; I hae said a sweer!"
The other brothers raised a demoniac shout of triumph over his apostacy.
"Ye maun say a worse sweer, Wattie. Deevil is no bad enough."
"I'll droon first!" whimpered Wattie, "and then ye'll get your paiks,
Down went Wattie's head into the burn again, and this time he was raised
with his mouth sputtering out the contents it had received.
"I'll say what ye like! _D--n;_ is that bad enough?"
With another unholy shout of derision Wattie was raised and set on the
"Noo," said the Whaup, standing over him, "let me tell you this, my man.
The next time ye gang to my faither, and tell a story about any one o'
us, or the next time you say a word against the French lassie, as ye ca'
her, do ye ken what I'll do? I'll take ye back to my faither by the lug,
and I'll tell him ye were sweerin' like a trooper down by the burn, and
every one o' us will testify against you, and then, I'm thinking, it
will be your turn to consider paiks."
Catherine Cassilis, "the French lassie," had arrived at the Manse a few
weeks before, and she had sore need of a champion.
Andrew Bogue, the ancient henchman of the Rev. Gavin Cassilis, minister
of Airlie, who met her at the station, disapproved of her from the first
as a foreign jade dressed so that all the men turned and looked at her
as if she had been a snare of Satan. Then, had not young Lord Earlshope,
after introducing himself, taken a seat in the trap and talked with her
in her own language as if he had known her for years?
"They jabbered away in their foreign lingo," said Andrew that evening to
his wife Leezibeth, the housekeeper "and I'm thinking it was siccan a
language was talked in Sodom and Gomorrah. And he was a' smiles, and she
was a' smiles, and they seemed to think nae shame o' themselves goin'
through a decent countryside!"
The Whaup himself had said, on the night of Coquette's arrival, "Oh,
she's an actress, and I hate actresses!" But before many days had
passed, he completely changed that hasty view. The big, sturdy,
long-legged lad succumbed to the charms of his parentless cousin--the
daughter of the minister's brother, who had settled in France and taken
to himself a French wife--and he became her defender against those
inhabitants of the Manse and the parish--from his brother Wattie to the
pragmatic schoolmaster--whose prejudices she unintentionally outraged.
Even the minister was grieved when Coquette, as her father had called
her, made a casual remark about the "last time she had gone to the
"I am deeply pained," said the minister gravely. "I knew not that my
brother had been a pervert from the communion of our church."
"Papa was not a Catholic," said Coquette. "Mamma and I were. But it
matters nothing. I will go to your church--it is the same to me. I only
try to be kind to the people around me--that is all."
"She has got the best part of all religions if she does her best for the
people about her," said the Whaup.
"Thomas," remonstrated the minister severely, "you are not competent to
judge of these things."
Coquette's second error was to play the piano on a Sabbath morning. She
was stopped in this hideous offence by the housekeeper, Leezibeth.
"Is the Manse to be turned topsalteery, and made a byword a' because o'
a foreign hussy?" asked Leezibeth.
"Look here," said the Whaup, trying to comfort his weeping cousin, "you
can depend on me. When you get into trouble, send for me, and if any man
or woman in Airlie says a word to you, by jingo I'll punch their head!"
The discovery of a crucifix over the head of the maiden's bed filled
full the cup of Leezibeth's wrath and indignation.
"I thought the Cross was a symbol of all religions," said Coquette
humbly. "If it annoys you, I will take it down. My mother gave it to
me--I cannot put it away altogether."
"You shall not part with it," said the Whaup. "Let me see the man or
woman who will touch that crucifix, though it had on it the woman o'
But the Whaup himself was troubled by the acquaintance of Coquette with
Lord Earlshope, which, from a casual meeting, developed with startling
His lordship's reputation in the parish was far from good. He never
attended the kirk; was seen walking about with his dogs and smoking on
the Sabbath; and even, it was said, read novels on that holy day. His
appearance in church on the first Sunday after Coquette's arrival in
Airlie was not difficult to explain, and it was followed by interchanges
of visits between the Manse and Earlshope House.
Soon the young lord and Coquette began to meet when she was taking her
early walk, a form of "carrying on" which outraged the sentiments of the
parish, and caused the Whaup to announce his intention of "giving her
up" and going to sea.
The alienation of the Whaup made Coquette very miserable, and when her
uncle discovered her walking alone with Lord Earlshope, she tearfully
requested to be allowed to go back to France.
"I am suspected," she sobbed, in her foreign English; "I do hear they
talk of me as dangerous. Is it wrong for me to speak to Lord Earlshope
when I do see him kind to me? Since I left France I did meet no one so
courteous as he has been. He does not think me wicked because I have a
crucifix my mother gave me, and he does not suspect me."
Her second conquest--for the Whaup, on seeing her dejection, had
relented and returned to his allegiance--was Leezibeth, and it was by
music she was won. Coquette was playing and singing "The Flowers o' the
Forest," when Leezibeth crept in, and said shamefacedly:
"Will ye sing that again, miss? Maybe ye'll no ken that me and Andrew
had a boy--a bit laddie that dee'd when he was but seven years auld--and
he used to sing the 'Flowers o' the Forest' afore a' the ither songs,
and ye sing it that fine it makes a body amaist like to greet."
And from that day Leezibeth was the slave of Coquette; but, for the most
part, the thoughts of her neighbours were no kinder to the gay and
spontaneous "daughter of Heth" from the sunny South than were the grey
and dreary skies of Scotland.
_II.--The Lovers of Coquette_
When Sir Peter and Lady Drum returned to Castle Cawmil, their home in
the neighbourhood of Airlie, Lady Drum, whose joy it was to doctor her
friends, prescribed at once a cruise for the drooping Coquette. And Lord
Earlshope lent his yacht, and accompanied the party as a visitor. The
minister, looking back anxiously at his parish, Coquette, and the Whaup,
joined the party from the Manse.
On Coquette the cruise worked wonders. She recovered her spirits, and
her cheeks flushed with happiness.
"You're a pretty invalid," said the Whaup to Coquette as they went
ashore for a scramble. "Give me your hand if you want climbing, and I'll
give you enough of it."
"No," said Coquette, "I will not be pulled by a big, rough boy; but when
you are gentle like Lord Earlshope, I like you." Then, lest Tom should
be hurt, she added: "You are a very good boy, Tom, and somebody will get
very fond of you some day."
From that moment the Whaup grew more serious, and ceased his boyish
"I think your cousin is very fond of you," said the good-natured Lady
Drum to Coquette. "Don't you think that some day or other he will ask
you to marry him?"
"It may be," replied Coquette dubiously. "I do not know, because my
uncle has not spoken to me of any such thing; but he may think it a good
marriage, and arrange it." A French view of marriage that greatly
astonished Lady Drum.
The new sense of responsibility that had come to the Whaup determined
him to return at once to Glasgow, and resume his studies. When Coquette
heard this she became sad and wistful.
"I hope," she said, "I shall be always the same to you, if you come back
in one year--two years--ten years."
And the Whaup thought that, if she would only wait two years he would
work to such purpose as to be able to ask her to marry him.
Before the cruise was ended, Lord Earlshope, who had the lonely man's
habit of playing spectator to his own emotions, informed Coquette, in an
impersonal way, that he had fallen in love with her.
"You are not responsible," said he, shrugging his shoulders and speaking
without bitterness. "All I ask is that you give me the benefit of your
sympathy. I have been flying my kite too near the thunder-cloud. And
what business had a man of my age with a kite?"
"I am very sorry," she said softly.
After this confession Coquette tried to avoid him as much as possible;
but one evening while she was sitting alone on deck, watching the sunset
on wild Loch Scavaig, he came to her and told her he was going away. He
held out his hand, but she made no response. What was it he heard in the
stillness of the night? Moved by a great fear he knelt down, and looked
into her drooping face. She was sobbing bitterly. Then there broke on
him a revelation more terrible than his own sorrow.
"Why are you distressed? It is nothing to you--my going away? It cannot
be anything to you surely?"
"It is very much," she said, with a calmness of despair that startled
him. "I cannot bear it."
"What have I done! What have I done!" he exclaimed. "Coquette, Coquette,
tell me you do not mean this! You do not understand my position. What
you say would be to any other man a joy unspeakable--the beginning of a
new life to him; but to me----" And he turned away with a shudder.
It was she who was the comforter in the presence of an impossible love.
Taking his hand gently, she said in a quiet voice: "I do not know what
you mean; but you must not accuse yourself for me. I have made a
confession--it was right to do that for you were going away. Now you
will go away knowing I am still your friend, that I shall think of you
sometimes: though I shall pray never to see you any more until we are
old people, and may meet and laugh at the old stupid folly."
"It shall not end thus!" he cried. "Let the past be past, Coquette, and
the future ours. Let us seek a new country for ourselves. Let me take
you away, and make for you a new world. Why should we two be for ever
"I am afraid of you now," she said, drawing back in fear. "What are you?
Ah, I do see another face!" And, staggering, she fell insensible on the
deck as the minister approached.
That night Lord Earlshope left the yacht, and this was his parting
message, written on a slip of paper: "I was mad last night. I do not
know what I said. Forgive me, for I cannot forgive myself."
A winter's illness followed the strain of these emotional scenes, but
with the spring Coquette resumed her morning moorland walks, and drank
in new life from the warm, sweet breezes. One morning, she came face to
face with Lord Earlshope. With only a second's pause she stepped forward
and offered him her hand.
"Have you really forgiven me?" he asked.
"That is all over," she said, "and forgotten. It does no good to bring
"How very good you are! I have wandered all over Europe, feeling as
though I had the brand of Cain on my forehead."
"That is nonsense," said Coquette. "Your talk of Cain, your going away,
your fears--I do not understand it at all."
"No," said he. "Nor would you ever understand without a series of
explanations I have not the courage to make."
"I do not understand," she replied; "why all this secrecy--all this
"And I cannot tell you now," he said.
"I wish not to have any more whys," she said impatiently. "Explanations,
they never do good between friends. I am satisfied if you come to the
Manse and become as you were once. That is sufficient."
She tried hard to keep the conversation on the level of friendship; but
when at last she turned to leave him, ere she knew, his arms were around
her, and kisses were being showered on her forehead and on her lips.
"Let me go--let me go!" she pleaded piteously. "Oh, what have we done?"
"We have sealed our fate," said he, with a haggard look. "I have fought
against this for many a day; but now, Coquette, won't you look up and
give me one kiss before we part?"
But her downcast face was pale and deathlike, and finally she said: "I
cannot speak to you now. To-morrow, or next day--perhaps we shall meet."
The next day she met him again, and told him she was going to Glasgow
with Lady Drum to see her cousin, the Whaup.
"I wonder," said Earlshope, "if he hopes to win your love, and is
working there with the intention of coming back and asking you to be his
"And if that will make him happy," she said slowly and with absent eyes,
"I will do that if he demands it."
"You will marry him, and make him fancy that you love him?"
"No, I should tell him everything. I should tell him he deserves to
marry a woman who has never loved anyone but himself, and yet that I
will be his wife if his marrying me will alone make him happy."
"But, Coquette--don't you see it cannot end here?" he said almost
desperately. "You do not know the chains in which I am bound; and I dare
not tell you."
"No; I do not wish to know. It is enough for me to be beside you now,
and if it should all prove bad and sorrowful, I shall remember that once
I walked with you here, and we had no thought of ill, and were for a
little while happy."
Talk of Glasgow being a sombre, grey city! To the Whaup it seemed that
the empty pavements were made of gold; that the fronts of the houses
were shining with a happy light; and the air full of a delicious
tingling. For did not the great city hold in it Coquette? And as he sped
his boots clattered "Coquette! Coquette! Coquette!" And presently he was
taking her out for a walk, and cunningly drawing near to a trysting
"Coquette," he said suddenly, "do you know that lovers used to meet
here, and join their hands over the well, and swear they would marry
each other some day? Coquette, if you would only give me your hand now!
I will wait any time--I have waited already, Coquette."
"Oh, do not say any more. I will do anything for you, but not that--not
that." And then, a moment afterwards, she added: "Or see; I will promise
to marry you, if you like, after many, many years--only not now--not
within a few years."
"What is the matter, Coquette? Does it grieve you to think of what I
"No, no!" she said, hurriedly, "it is right of you to ask it--and I--I
must say Yes. My uncle does expect it, does he not? And you yourself,
Tom, you have been very good to me, and if only this will make you happy
I will be your wife, but not until after many years."
"If you only knew how proud and happy you have made me!" exclaimed Tom,
gaily. "I call upon the leaves of the trees, and all the drops in the
river, and all the light in the air to bear witness that I have won
Coquette for my wife."
"Ah, you foolish boy!" she said sadly. "You have given me a dangerous
name. But no matter; if it pleases you to-day to think I shall be your
wife, I am glad."
_III.--The Opening of the Gates_
Coquette, who loved the sunshine as a drunkard loves drink, was seated
in the park in Glasgow, reading a book under her sunshade, when Lord
Earlshope walked up to the place where she sat.
"Ah, it is you! I do wish much to see you for a few moments," she said.
"First, I must tell you I have promised to my cousin to be his wife. I
did tell you I should do that; now it is done, and he is glad. And so,
as I am to be his wife, I do not think it is right I should see you any
"Coquette," he said, "have you resolved to make your life miserable?
What have you done?"
"I have done what I ought to do. My cousin is very good; he is very fond
of me; he will break his heart if I do not marry him. And I do like him
very well, too. Perhaps in some years it will be a pleasure to me to be
"Coquette," he interrupted, "you do not blame me for being unable to
help you. I am going to tell you why I cannot. Many a time have I
determined to cell you."
"Ah, I know," she said. "You will tell me something you have done. I do
not wish to hear it. I have often seen you about to tell me a secret,
and sometimes I have wondered, too, and wished to know; but then I did
think there was enough trouble in the world without adding to it."
Someone came along the road, came as if to sit on the seat with them--a
woman with a coarse, red face and unsteady black eyes, full of
Lord Earlshope rose and faced the stranger.
"You had better go home," he said to her. "I give you fair warning, you
had better go home."
"Why," said the woman, with a loud laugh. "You have not said as much to
me for six years back! My dear," she added, looking at Coquette, "I am
sorry to have disturbed you; but do you know who I am? I am Lady
"Coquette," said Earlshope, "that is my wife."
When the woman had walked away, laughing and kissing her hand in tipsy
fashion, Coquette came a step nearer, and held out her hand.
"I know it all now," she said, "and am very sorry for you. I do now know
the reason of many things, and I cannot be angry when we are going away
from each other. Good-bye. I will hear of you sometimes through Lady
"Good-bye, Coquette," he said, "and God bless you for your gentleness,
and your sweetness, and your forgiveness."
It was to Lady Drum that Coquette made her confession that day.
"I do love him better than everything in the world--and I cannot help
it. And now he is gone, and I shall never see him again, and I would
like to see him only once to say I am sorry for him."
Coquette returned to Airlie, and tried to find peace in homely duties in
the village. As time went on the Whaup pressed for the marriage day to
be named, but he could not awake in her hopes for the future. Then, one
dull morning in March, as she walked by herself over the Moor, Lord
Earlshope was by her side, saying: "Coquette, have you forgotten
nothing, as I have forgotten nothing?" And she was saying: "I love you,
dearest, more than ever."
"Listen, Coquette, listen!" he said. "A ship passes here in the morning
for America; I have taken two berths in it for you and me; to-morrow we
shall be sailing away to a new world, and leaving all these troubles
behind. You remember that woman--nothing has been heard of her for two
years. I have sought her everywhere. She must be dead. And so we shall
be married when we get there. The yacht will be waiting off Saltcoats
to-night; you must go down by yourself, and the gig shall come for you,
and we shall intercept the ship."
A little while thereafter Coquette was on her way back to the Manse
alone. She had promised to go down to Saltcoats that night, and had
sealed her sin with a kiss.
It was a wild, strange night that she stole out of the house, leaving
behind her all the sweet consciousness of rectitude and the purity and
innocence which had enabled her to meet trials with a courageous
heart--leaving behind the crown of womanhood, the treasure of a
stainless name. Every moment the storm grew in intensity, till the
rain-clouds were blown upon the land in hissing torrents. At last, just
as she saw before her the lights of Saltcoats, she sank down by the
roadside with a faint cry of "Uncle! Uncle!"
When she came to herself, in a neighbour's house, a letter was given her
from Lord Earlshope, saying that he could not exact from her the
sacrifice he had proposed, and incur for both the penalty of remorse and
misery; so he would leave for America alone.
Even as she was reading the letter, the report reached Saltcoats that
the yacht had gone down in the storm, and Lord Earlshope was beyond the
reach of accusation and defence.
She married the Whaup, but was never again the old Coquette, and though
Tom tried hopefully to charm her back to cheerfulness, she faded month
by month. It was not till the end was drawing near that she was told of
the death of Lord Earlshope, and her last journey was to Saltcoats to
see the wild waste of waters that were his grave.
There came a night when she beckoned her husband to her and asked him in
a scarcely audible voice: "Tom, am I going to die?" And when in answer
he could only look at her sad eyes, she said: "I am not sorry. It will
be better for you and everyone; and you will not blame me because I
could not make your life more happy for you--it was all a misfortune, my
coming to this country."
"Coquette, Coquette," he said, beside himself with grief, "if you are
going to die, I will go with you, too--see, I will hold your hand, and
when the gates are open, I will not let you go--I will go with you,
Scarce half an hour afterwards the gates opened, and she silently passed
through, while a low cry broke from his lips: "So near--so near! And I
cannot go with her, too!"
* * * * *
R. D. BLACKMORE
Richard Doddridge Blackmore, one of the most famous English
novelists of the last generation, was born on June 9, 1825, at
Longworth, Berkshire, of which parish his father was vicar.
Like John Ridd, the hero of "Lorna Doone," he was educated at
Blundell's School, Tiverton. An early marriage with a
beautiful Portuguese girl, and a long illness, forced him to
live for some years in hard and narrow circumstances. Happily,
in 1860, he came, unexpectedly, into a considerable fortune.
Settling down at Teddington, he divided his life between the
delights of gardening and the pleasures of literature;
cultivating his vines, peaches, nectarines, pears, and
strawberries, and writing, first, sensational stories, and
then historical romances. In 1869, with his third attempt in
fiction, "Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor," he suddenly
became famous as a novelist, and acted as the pioneer of the
new romantic movement in fiction which R. L. Stevenson and
other brilliant writers afterwards carried on. Lorna Doone is
the most famous of his heroines, but in "Cradock Nowell," a
fine tale of the New Forest, in "Alice Lorraine," a story of
the South Downs, and in "The Maid of Sker," he has depicted
womanly types equal in charm to Lorna. He died at Teddington
on January 20, 1900.
_I.--An Adventure in Glen Doone_
Two miles below our farm at Oare, the Bagworthy water runs into the
Lynn, but though I fished nearly every stream in our part of Exmoor in
my boyhood, it was a long time before I dared go those two miles. For
the water flowed out of Glen Doone, where the Doones had settled, and I
had good reason to be afraid of this wild band of outlaws. It was an
unhappy day for everybody on Exmoor when Sir Ensor Doone was outlawed by
good King Charles, and came with his tall sons and wild retainers to the
This befell in 1640. At first, the newcomers were fairly quiet, and what
little sheep-stealing they did was overlooked. But in the troublous
times of the Great Rebellion they grew bolder and fiercer; they attacked
men and burnt farms and carried off women, and all Exmoor stood in fear
and terror of them. None of the Doones was under six feet, and there
were forty and more of them, and they were all true marksmen. The worst
thing they did was to murder my father, John Ridd, in the year 1673,
when I was twelve years of age.
That was why I was afraid to fish the Bagworthy water. But I spent a
good deal of time in learning to shoot straight with my father's gun; I
sent pretty well all the lead gutter round our little church into our
best barn door, a thing which has often repented me since, especially as
churchwarden. When, however, I was turned fourteen years old, and put
into small clothes, and worsted hosen knitted by my dear mother, I set
out with a loach-fork to explore the Bagworthy water. It was St.
Valentine's day, 1676, as I well remember. After wading along Lynn
stream, I turned into the still more icy-cold current of Bagworthy
water, where I speared an abundance of loaches. I was stopped at last by
a great black whirlpool, into which a slide of water came thundering a
hundred yards down a cliff. My bare legs were weak and numbed with cold,
and twilight was falling in the wild, narrow glen. So I was inclined to
turn back. But then I said to myself: "John Ridd, the place is making a
coward of thee."
With that, I girt up my breeches anew, and slung the fish tighter round
my neck, and began to climb up through the water-slide. The green wave
came down on me and my feet gave way, but I held with my loach-fork to a
rock, and got my footing. How I got up, I cannot remember, but I fainted
on reaching the top of the cliff.
When I came to, a little girl was kneeling by me, and rubbing my
forehead tenderly with a dock-leaf.
"Oh, I am glad!" she said. "Now you will try to be better, won't you?"
I had never heard so sweet a sound as came from her red lips; neither
had I ever seen anything so beautiful as the large, dark eyes intent
upon me, in pity and wonder. Her long black hair fell on the grass, and
among it--like an early star--was the first primrose of the year. And
since that day, I think of her whenever I see an early primrose.
"How you are looking at me!" I said. "I have never seen anyone like you
before. My name is John Ridd. What is your name?"
"My name is Lorna Doone," she replied, in a low voice, and hanging her
Young and harmless as she was, her name made guilt of her. Yet I could
not help looking at her tenderly. And when she began to cry, what did I
do but kiss her. This made her angry, but we soon became friends again,
and fell to talking about ourselves. Suddenly a shout rang through the
valley, and Lorna trembled, and put her cheek close to mine.
"Oh, they will find us together and kill us," she said.
"Come with me," I whispered. "I can carry you down the waterfall."
"No, no!" she cried, as I took her up. "You see that hole in the rock
there? There is a way out from the top of it."
I hid myself just in time, and a dozen tall, fierce-looking men found
Lorna seemingly lying asleep on the grass. One of them took her tenderly
in his arms and carried her away. I then waited until it was full dark,
and crept to the hole that Lorna had pointed out.
The fright I had taken that night satisfied me for a long time
thereafter; not that I did not think of Lorna and wish very often to see
her. But I was only a boy, and inclined, therefore, to despise young
girls. Besides, our farm of five hundred acres was the largest in Oare,
and I had to work very hard on it. But the work did me good; I grew four
inches longer every year, and two inches wider, until there was no man
of my size to be seen elsewhere upon Exmoor, and I also won the belt of
the championship for wrestling in the West Counties.
_II.--John Ridd Goes A-Wooing_
Seven years went by before I climbed up Glen Doone again. The occasion
was a strange one. My uncle, Ben Huckaback, was robbed by the Doones on
his way to our farm, and he was mighty vexed with their doings. This
time the outlaws met their match, for Uncle Ben was one of the richest
men in the West Counties, and, moreover, he was well acquainted with the
most powerful and terrible man in England. I mean the famous Lord Chief
"I am going to London, my boy," he said to me, "to get these scoundrel
Doones shot or hanged. I want you, while I am gone, to go to the place
where they live, and see how the troops I shall bring can best attack
This put other thoughts in my head. I waited till St. Valentine's day,
and then I dressed myself in my best clothes, and went up the Bagworthy
water. The stream, which once had taken my knees, now came only to my
ankles, and with no great difficulty I climbed to the top of the cliff.
Here I beheld the loveliest sight, one glimpse of which was enough to
make me kneel in the coldest water. Lorna was coming singing towards me!
I could not see what her face was, my heart so awoke and trembled; only
that her hair was flowing from a wreath of white violets. She turned to
fly, frightened, perhaps, at my great size; but I fell on the grass, as
I had fallen seven years agone that day, and just said: "Lorna Doone!"
"Master Ridd, are you mad," she said. "The patrol will be here
She led me, with many timid glances, to the hole in the rock which she
had shown me before; by the right of this was a crevice, hung with green
ivy, which opened into a mossy cave about twenty feet across.
"We shall be safe from interruption here," said Lorna, "for I begged Sir
Ensor that this place might be looked on as my bower."
I had much ado, however, to get through the crevice, and, instead of
being proud of my size, as it seemed to me she ought to be, Lorna
laughed at me. Thereupon it went hard with me not to kiss her, only it
smote me that this would be a low advantage of her trust and
helplessness. She seemed to know what I would be at, and she liked me
for my forbearance, because she was not in love with me yet. As we sat
in her bower, she talked about her dear self, and her talk was sad.
"Ah, Master Ridd," she said, "you have a mother who loves you, and
sisters, and a quiet home. You do not know what loneliness is. I get so
full of anger at the violence and wickedness around me that I dare not
give way to speech. It is scarcely a twelvemonth since my cousin, Lord
Alan Brandir, came from London and tried to rescue me. Carver Doone
killed him before my eyes. Ah, you know Carver!"
Ay, I did. It was he who slew my father. I would not tell Lorna this,
but in my slow way I began, to look forward to meeting Carver Doone, not
for my father's sake--I had forgiven that--but for Lorna's. I boded some
harm to her, and before I left I arranged that if she were ever in need
of help she should hang a black mantle on a stone that I could see from
a neighbouring hill.
When I got home, I found a king's messenger waiting for me, and, to the
alarm of my dear mother and my sisters, I was taken to London to be
examined by Chief Justice Jeffreys touching the Doone. He was a
fierce-looking man, with a bull-head, but he used me kindly--maybe for
Uncle Ben's sake--and I got back to Exmoor, none the worse for my
journey to the great city of London. But I lost all delight in my
homecoming when I went to the hill overlooking Glen Doone, and saw that
the stone was covered with a mantle. Off I set to climb the cliff above
the Bagworthy water, and there I found Lorna in a sad state of mind.
"Oh, John," she said, "Carver Doone is trying to force me to marry him.
Where have you been? Tis two months since I gave the signal."
Thereupon I told her of my travels to London, and when she learnt that
my seeming negligence of her was nothing but my wretched absence far
away, the tears fell from her eyes, and she came and sat so close beside
me that I trembled like a folded sheep at the bleating of her lamb.
"Dearest darling of my life!" I whispered through her clouds of hair, "I
love you more than heart can hold in silence! I have waited long and
long, and, though I am so far below you, I can wait no longer!"
"You have been very faithful, John," she murmured to the fern and moss.
"You are the bravest and the kindest and the simplest of all men, and I
like you very much."
"That will not do for me!" I said. "I will not have liking! I must have
your heart of hearts, even as you have mine, Lorna!"
She glanced up shyly through her fluttering lashes. Then she opened wide
upon me all the glorious depth and softness of her eyes, and flung both
arms around my neck.
"Darling," she cried, "you have won it all! I shall never be my own
again. I am yours for ever and ever!"
I am sure I know not what I did or said thereafter, being overcome with
transport by her words and her eyes.
"Hush!" said Lorna suddenly, drawing me away from the entrance to her
bower. "Here is Carver Doone!"
A great man was coming leisurely down the valley, and the light was
still good enough for me to descry his features through the ivy screen.
Though I am not a good judge of men's faces, there was something in his
which gave me a feeling of horror. Not that it was an ugly face; nay,
rather; it seemed a handsome one, full of strength and vigour and
resolution; but there was a cruel hankering in his steel-blue eyes. Yet,
he did not daunt me. Here, I saw, was a man of strength yet for me to
encounter, such as I had never met, but would be glad to meet, having
found no man of late who needed not my mercy at wrestling or
singlestick. My heart was hot against him. And, though he carried a
carbine, I would have been at him, maybe ere he could use it, but for
the presence of Lorna. So I crouched down until Carver Doone departed,
and then, because she feared for my safety, I returned home.
_III.--Love Amid the Snows_
I found the king's messenger waiting again for me. He was a small, but
keen-witted man called Jeremy Stickler, and I liked his company. He now
came upon a graver business than conducting me to London. He held a
royal commission to raise the train-bands of Somerset and Devon, and he
brought a few troops with him, and made our farm his headquarters. He
had been sent in hot haste by Chief Justice Jeffreys to destroy the
Doones who were likely now to pay dearly for robbing my Uncle Ben. I was
not, however, as pleased with the arrival of Jeremy Stickler as he
expected, for I bethought myself how Lorna would fare in the wild
The next evening, I went to her bower to tell her of the matter, but she
was not there. Then the snow began to fall, and still I clambered up the
cliff, and waited at the end of the valley every hour of the day and far
into the night. But no light footstep came to meet me, and no sweet
voice was in the air. At last I resolved upon a desperate and difficult
enterprise, for I was well-nigh mad with anxiety. I would go to Lorna's
house, and find out at all costs what had befallen her. But though I
knew fairly well where her house was in Doone village, I was perplexed
how to get there. I could not even get to her bower; for in the night a
great snow-storm broke over the country--the worst since 1625. Our farm
was drifted up, and in some places the snow was thirty and fifty feet
deep. Travel of any sort seemed impossible. But my elder sister, Lizzie,
whom I looked down on because she was always reading books instead of
helping my mother as Annie did, came to my help. She had a wonderful lot
of book learning--much more than I ever got, though father had sent me
to the famous grammar school at Tiverton founded by Master Blundell. She
now showed me how to make some strange contrivances called snowshoes,
which men use in very cold countries. Having learnt how to glide about
in them, I set off to find Lorna.
By good fortune, when I got to Glen Doone, where the waterfall had
frozen into rough steps, easy to climb, the snow came on again, thick
enough to blind a man who had not spent his time among it as I had for
days and days. The weather drove all the Doones indoors, and I found
Lorna's house almost drifted up like our farm, but got at last to the
door and knocked. I was not sure but that the answer might not be the
mouth of a carbine; but Gwenny Carfax, a little Cornish maid attached to
my Lorna, opened it, and said when she saw me:
"Master Ridd! I wish you was good to eat. Us be shut in here and
The look of wolfish hunger in her eyes frightened me, and I strode in
and found Lorna fainting for want of food. Happily, I had a good loaf of
bread and a large mince pie, which I had brought in case I had to bide
out all night. When Lorna and her maid had eaten these, I heard the tale
of their sufferings. Sir Ensor Doone was dead, and Carver Doone was now
the leader; and he was trying to starve Lorna into agreeing to marry
"If I warrant to bring you safe and sound to our farm, Lorna, will you
come with me?" I said.
"To be sure I will, dear," said my darling. "I must either starve or go
with you, John."
Our plans were soon made. I went home with the utmost speed, and got out
our light pony-sled and dragged it to the top of the waterfall near my
darling's bower. It was well I returned quickly. When I entered Lorna's
house I saw, by the moonlight flowing in, a sight which drove me beyond
sense. Lorna was crouching behind a chair in utter terror, and a drunken
Doone was trying to draw the chair away. I bore him out of the house as
lightly as I would a baby, but I squeezed his throat a little more than
I would an infant's; then I pitched him into a snow-drift, and he did
It was no time to linger. I ran with Lorna in my arms to the sled, and
Gwenny followed. Then, with my staff from rock to rock, I broke the
sled's too rapid way down the frozen waterfall, and brought my darling
safely out of Glen Doone by the selfsame path which first led me up to
her. In an hour's time she was under my roof, and my dear mother and my
sisters were tending her and Gwenny, for they both were utterly worn out
by their cruel privations.
_IV.--A Night of Fire and Blood_
It gave me no little pleasure to think how mad Carver Doone must be with
me for robbing him of the lovely bride whom he was trying to starve into
marriage. However, I was not pleased with the prospect of the
consequences; but set all hands to work to prepare for the attack on the
farm which I saw would follow when the paths were practicable. By the
time the rain fell and cleared the snow away, I had everything ready.
The outlaws waited till the moon was risen, as it was dangerous to cross
the flooded valley in the darkness, and then they rode into our farmyard
as coolly as if they had been invited. Jeremy Stickler and his troopers
were waiting in the shadow of the house, and I stood with a club and a
gun in the mow-yard, for I knew the Doones would begin by firing our
"Two of you go"--it was the deep voice of Carver Doone--"and make us a
light to cut their throats by."
As he spoke I set my gun against his breast. Yet--will you believe
me?--I could not pull the trigger. Would to God I had done so! But I had
never taken human life. I dropped my carbine, and grasped my club, which
seemed a more straightforward implement. With this I struck down the
first man that put a torch to the rick, and broke the collar-bone of the
second. Then a blaze of light came from the house, and two of the Doones
fell under the fire of the troopers, and the rest hung back. They were
not used to this kind of reception from farmers; they thought it neither
kind nor courteous. Unable any longer to contain myself, I came across
the yard. But no one shot at me; and I went up to Carver Doone and took
him by the beard, and said: "Do you call yourself a man?"
He was so astonished that he could not speak. He saw he had met his
equal, or perhaps his master. He held a pistol at me; but I was too
quick for him, and I laid him flat upon his back.
"Now, Carver Doone, take warning," I said to him. "You have shown
yourself a fool by your contempt of me. I may not be your match in
craft; but I am in manhood. Lay low there in your native muck."
Seeing him down, the others broke and ran, but one had a shot at me. And
while I was feeling my wound--which was nothing much--Carver arose and
strode away with a train of curses.
But he had his revenge in a short time. Jeremy Stickler brought up two
train-bands to storm Glen Doone, and they were beaten off with
considerable loss. Then I took the matter up, just when the Doones were
emboldened by their victory to commit fresh crimes; or rather, the
leadership was thrust upon me. Carver Doone and one of his men entered
the house of Kit Badcock, one of my neighbours, and killed his baby and
carried off his wife. Kit wandered about half crazy, and the people came
flocking about me, and asked me to lead them against the Doones. I
resolved on a night-assault, and divided the men into two parties. The
Doone-gate was, I knew, impregnable, and it was there that the train-
bands had failed. I pretended to attack it, but led my best fighters up
the waterfall. The earliest notice the Doones had of our presence was
the blazing of the logwood house where lived that villain Carver.
By the time they came from Doone-gate all the village was burning, and
as soon as they got into easy distance we shot them down in the light of
the flaming houses. I did not fire. I cared to meet none but Carver, and
he did not appear. He was the only Doone that escaped. Every man I had
with me had some wrong to avenge; some had lost their wives, others
their daughters; the more fortunate had had all their sheep and cattle
carried off, and every man avenged his wrong. I was vexed at the escape
of Carver. It was no light thing to have a man of such power and
resource and desperation left at large and furious. When he saw all the
houses in the valley flaming with a handsome blaze, and throwing a fine
light around, such as he had often revelled in when he was the attacker,
he turned his great black horse, and spurred it through Doone-gate, and
he passed into the darkness before the yeomen I had posted there could
bring him down.
_V.--The Duel at Wizard's Slough_
The only thing which pleased me was that Lorna was taken to London
before I led the assault on Glen Doone. Jeremy Stickler, a man with much
knowledge of the law, discovered that she was a great heiress, and that
her true title was Lady Lorna Dugal. She was related to the Doones, and
they had carried her off when a little child, and on her all the
ambition of Sir Ensor Doone had turned. The marriage he designed between
her and Carver would have brought the outlaws the wealth necessary to
retrieve their fortunes and recover their position in the world. This
strange news explained many things in their conduct towards Lorna, but
it made me feel rather sad. For it seemed to me that there was too great
a difference between John Ridd, the yeoman farmer, and Lady Lorna, the
heiress of the Earl of Lome. Besides, she was now a ward of chancery,
under the care of the great Lord Jeffreys, and I much doubted if he
would consent to our marriage, even if she still remembered me amid the
courtly splendour in which she moved. Judge then of my joy when Lorna
returned in the spring to our farm, as glad as a bird to get back to its
"Oh, I love it all," she said. "The scent of the gorse on the moors
drove me wild, and the primroses under the hedges. I am sure I was meant
to be a farmer's wife."
This, with a tender, playful look at me. Then she told the good news.
Lord Jeffreys had, for a certain round sum, given his ward permission to
marry me. There was a great to-do throughout the country about our
wedding on Whit-Monday. People came from more than thirty miles around,
upon excuse of seeing Lorna's beauty and my stature; but in good truth
out of curiosity and a love of meddling.
It is impossible for any, who have not loved as I have, to conceive my
joy and pride when, after the ring and all was done, and the parson had
blessed us, she turned and gazed on me. Her eyes were so full of faith
and devotion that I was amazed, thoroughly as I knew them. But when I
stooped to kiss her, as the bridegroom is allowed to do, a shot rang
through the church. My darling fell across my knees, and her blood
flowed out on the altarsteps. She sighed a long sigh to my breast, and
grew cold. I laid her in my mother's arms, and went forth for my
The men fell back before me. Who showed me the course, I cannot tell. I
only know that I leaped upon a horse and took it. Weapon of no sort had
I. Unarmed, and wondering at my strange attire, I rode out to discover
this: whether in this world there be or be not a God of justice. Putting
my horse at a furious speed, I came upon Black Burrow Down, and there, a
furlong before me, rode a man on a great black horse. I knew that man
was Carver Doone, bearing his child, little Ensie, before him. I knew he
was strong. I knew he was armed with gun, pistol, and sword.
Nevertheless, I had no more doubt of killing him than a cook has of
spitting a headless fowl.
I came up with him at Wizard's Slough. A bullet struck me somewhere, but
I took no heed of that. With an oak stick I felled his horse. Carver
Doone lay on the ground, stunned. Leaping from my steed, I waited, and
bared my arms as if in the ring for wrestling. Then the boy ran towards
me, clasped my leg, and looked up at me.
"Ensie, dear," I said, "run and try to find a bunch of bluebells for the
Presently Carver Doone gathered together his mighty limbs, and I closed
with him. He caught me round the waist with such a grip as had never
been laid upon me. I heard a rib go where the bullet had broken it. But
God was with me that day. I grasped Carver Doone's arm, and tore the
muscle out of it; then I had him by the throat, and I left him sinking,
joint by joint, into the black bog.
I returned to the farm in a dream, and only the thought of Lorna's
death, like a heavy knell, was tolling in the belfry of my brain. Into
the old farmhouse I tottered, like a weakling child, with mother helping
me along, yet fearing, except by stealth, to look at me.
"I have killed him," was all I said, "even as he killed Lorna."
"Lorna is still living, John," said my mother, very softly.
"Is there any chance for her?" I cried, awaking out of my dream. "For
me, I mean; for me?"
Well, my darling is sitting by me now as I write, and I am now Sir John
Ridd, if you please. Year by year, Lorna's beauty grows, with the growth
of goodness, kindness, and true happiness--above all, with loving. For
change, she makes a joke of this, and plays with it, and laughs at it.
Then, when my slow nature marvels, back she comes to the earnest thing.
If I wish to pay her out--as may happen once or twice, when we become
too galdsome--I bring her to sadness, and to me for the cure of it, by
the two words, "Lorna Doone."
* * * * *
The Decameron Or Ten Days' Entertainment
Giovanni Boccaccio, the father of Italian prose literature,
was born in 1313, probably at Certaldo, a small town about
twenty miles from Florence, where he was brought up. In 1341
he fell in love with the daughter of King Robert of Naples,
and the lady, whom he made famous under the name of Fiammetta,
seems to have loved him in return. It was for her amusement,
and for the amusement of the Queen of Naples, that he composed
many of the stories in "The Decameron." He returned to
Florence in 1350, after the great plague, which he has
described in so vivid a manner in the opening chapter of his
great work, had abated; and three years afterwards he
published "The Decameron," the title being derived from the
Greek words signifying "ten days." This collection of a
hundred stories is certainly one of the world's great books.
Many English writers of the first order have gone to it for
inspiration. Boccaccio's friend, Petrarch, was so delighted
with the tale of Griselda, with which the work concludes, that
he learnt it off by heart. Chaucer developed it into the
finest of all his stories. Dryden, Keats, and Tennyson have
also been inspired by Boccaccio; while Lessing has made the
Italian story-teller's allegory of "The Three Rings" the
jeweled point on which turns his masterly play. "Nathan the
Wise" (see Vol. XVII). Boccaccio, after filling many high
posts at Florence, retired to Certaldo, where he died on
December 21, 1375.
_The Seven Beautiful Maidens_
In the year of our Lord 1348 a terrible plague broke out in Florence,
which, from being the finest city in Italy, became the most desolate. It
was a strange malady that no drugs could cure; and it was communicated,
not merely by conversing with those strickened by the pestilence, but
even by touching their clothes, or anything they had worn. As soon as
the purple spots, which were the sign of the disease, appeared on the
body, death was certain to ensue within three days.
So great were the terror and disorder and distress, that all laws, human
and divine, were disregarded. Everybody in Florence did just as he
pleased. The wilder sort broke into the houses of rich persons, and gave
themselves over to riotous living, exclaiming that, since it was
impossible to avoid dying from the plague, they would at least die
merrily. Others shut themselves up from the rest of the world, and lived
on spare diet, and many thousands fled from their houses into the open
country, leaving behind them all their goods and wealth, and all their
relatives and friends. Brother fled from brother, wife from husband,
and, what was more cruel, even parents forsook their own children. It
was perilous to walk the streets, for they were strewn with the bodies
of plague-strickened wretches, and I have seen with my own eyes the very
dogs perish that touched their rags.
Between March and July a hundred thousand persons died in Florence,
though, before the calamity, the city was not supposed to have contained
so many inhabitants. But I am weary of recounting out late miseries,
and, passing by everything that I can well omit, I shall only observe
that, when the city was almost depopulated, seven beautiful young
ladies, in deep mourning, met one Tuesday evening in Saint Mary's
Church, where indeed they composed the whole of the congregation. They
were all related to each other, either by the ties of birth, or by the
more generous bonds of friendship. Pampinea, the eldest, was
twenty-eight years of age; Fiammetta was a little younger; Filomena,
Emilia, Lauretta, and Neifile were still more youthful; and Elisa was
only eighteen years old.
After the service was over, they got into a corner of the church, and
began to devise what they should do, for they were now alone in the
"I would advise," said Pampinea, "that we should leave Florence, for the
city is now dangerous to live in, not merely by reason of the plague,
but because of the lawless men that prowl about the streets and break
into our houses. Let us retire together into the country, where the air
is pleasanter, and the green hills and the waving corn-fields afford a
much more agreeable prospect than these desolate walls."
"I doubt," said Filomena, "if we could do this unless we got some man to
"But how can we?" exclaimed Elisa. "Nearly all the men of our circle are
dead, and the rest have gone away."
While they were talking, three handsome young cavaliers--Pamfilo,
Filostrato, and Dioneo--came into the church, looking for their
sweethearts, who by chance were Neifile, Pampinea, and Filomena.
"See," said Pampinea with a smile, "fortune is on our side. She has
thrown in our way three worthy gentlemen, who, I am sure, will come with
us if we care to invite them."
She then acquainted the cavaliers with her design, and begged them to
help her to carry it out. At first they took it all for a jest; but when
they found that the ladies were in earnest, they made arrangements to
accompany them. So the next morning, at the break of day, the ladies and
their maids, and the cavaliers and their men-servants, set out from
Florence, and after travelling for two miles they came to the appointed
place. It was a little wooded hill, remote from the highway, on the top
of which was a stately palace with a beautiful court, and fine
galleries, and splendid rooms adorned with excellent paintings. And
around it were fair green meadows, a delightful garden, fountains of
water, and pleasant trees.
Finding that everything in the palace had been set in order for their
reception, the ladies and their cavaliers took a walk in the garden, and
diverted themselves by singing love-songs, and weaving garlands of
flowers. At three o'clock, dinner was laid in the banqueting hall, and
when this was over, Dioneo took a lute and Fiammetta a viol, and played
a merry air, while the rest of the company danced to the music. When the
dance was ended, they began to sing, and so continued dancing and
singing until nightfall. The cavaliers then retired to their chambers,
and the ladies to theirs, after arranging that Pampinea should be the
queen of their company for the following day, and direct all their
feasts and amusements.
The next morning Queen Pampinea called them all up at nine o'clock,
saying it was unwholesome to sleep in the daytime, and led them into a
meadow of deep grass shadowed by tall trees.
"As the sun is high and hot," she continued, "and nothing is to be heard
but the chirping of grasshoppers among the olives, it would be folly to
think of walking. So let us sit down in a circle and tell stories. By
the time the tales have gone round, the heat of the sun will have
abated, and we can then divert ourselves as best we like. Now, Pamfilo,"
she said, turning to the cavalier on her right hand, "pray begin."
_Cymon and Iphigenia: A Tale of Love_
Of all the stories that have come into my mind, said Pamfilo, there is
one which I am sure you will all like, for it shows how strange and
wonderful is the power of love. Some time ago, there lived in the island
of Cyprus a man of great rank and wealth, called Aristippus, who was
very unhappy because his son Cymon, though very tall and handsome, was
feeble in intellect. Finding that the most skilful teacher could not
beat the least spark of knowledge into the head of his son, Aristippus
made Cymon live out of his sight, among the slaves in his country-house.
There Cymon used to drudge like one of the slaves, whom, indeed, he
resembled in the harshness of his voice and the uncouthness of his
manners. But one day as he was tramping round the farm, with his staff
upon his shoulder, he came upon a beautiful maiden sleeping in the deep
grass of a meadow, with two women and a manservant slumbering at her
feet. Cymon had never seen the face of a woman before, and, leaning upon
his staff, he gazed in blank wonder at the lovely girl, and strange
thoughts and feelings began to work within him. After watching her for a
long time, he saw her eyes slowly open, and there was a sweetness about
them that filled him with joy.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" she said. "Please go away. You
"I will not go away," he answered; "I cannot!"
And though she was afraid of him, he would not leave her until he had
led her to her own house. He then went to his father and said he wanted
to live like a gentleman, and not like a slave. His father was surprised
to find that his voice had grown soft and musical, and his manners
winning and courteous. So he dressed him in clothes suitable to his high
station, and let him go to school. Four years after he had fallen in
love, Cymon became the most accomplished young gentleman in Cyprus. He
then went to the father of Iphigenia, for such was her name, and asked
for her in marriage. But her father replied that she was already
promised to Pasimondas, a young nobleman of Rhodes, and that their
nuptials were about to be celebrated.
"O Iphigenia," said Cymon to himself, on hearing the unhappy news, "it
is now time for me to show you how I love you! Love for you has made a
man of me, and marriage with you would make me as happy and as glorious
as a god! Have you I will, or else I will die!"
He at once prevailed upon some young noblemen, who were his friends, to
help him in fitting out a ship of war. With this he waylaid the vessel
in which Iphigenia embarked for Rhodes. Throwing a grappling iron upon
this ship, Cymon drew it close to his own. Then, without waiting for
anyone to second him, he jumped among his enemies, and drove them like
sheep before him, till they threw down their arms.
"I have not come to plunder you," said Cymon, "but to win the noble
maiden, Iphigenia, whom I love more than aught else in the world. Resign
her to me, and I will do you no harm!"
Iphigenia came to him all in tears.
"Do not weep, my sweet lady," he said to her tenderly. "I am your Cymon,
and my long and constant love is worth more than all Pasimondas's
She smiled at him through her tears, and he led her on board his ship,
and sailed away to Crete, where he and his friends had relations and
acquaintances. But in the night a violent tempest arose, and blotted out
all the stars of heaven, and whirled the ship about, and drove it into a
little bay upon the island of Rhodes, a bow-shot from the place where
the Rhodian ship had just arrived.
Before they could put out to sea again, Pasimondas came with an armed
host and took Cymon a prisoner, and led him to the chief magistrate of
the Rhodians for that year, Lysimachus, who sentenced him and his
friends to perpetual imprisonment, on the charge of piracy and
While Cymon was languishing in prison, with no hope of ever obtaining
his liberty, Pasimondas prepared for his nuptials with Iphigenia. Now
Pasimondas had a younger brother called Hormisdas, who wanted to marry a
beautiful lady, Cassandra, with whom the chief magistrate Lysimachus was
also in love. Pasimondas thought it would save a good deal of trouble
and expense if he and his brother were to marry at the same time. So he
arranged that this should be done. Thereupon Lysimachus was greatly
angered. After a long debate with himself, honour gave way to love, and
he resolved at all hazards to carry off Cassandra.
But whom should he get as companions in this wild enterprise? He at once
thought of Cymon and his friends, and he fetched them out of prison and
armed them, and concealed them in his house. On the wedding-day he
divided them into three parties. One went down to the shore and secured
a ship; one watched at the gate of Pasimondas's house; and the third
party, headed by Cymon and Lysimachus, rushed with drawn swords into the
bridal chamber and killed the two bridegrooms, and bore the tearful but
by no means unwilling brides to the ship, and sailed joyfully away for
There they espoused their ladies, amidst the congratulations of their
relatives and friends; and though, by reason of their actions, a great
quarrel ensued between the two islands of Cyprus and Rhodes, everything
was at last amicably adjusted. Cymon then returned with Iphigenia to
Cyprus, and Lysimachus carried Cassandra back to Rhodes, and all of them
lived very happily to the end of their days.
_Gisippus and Titus: A Tale of Friendship_
As Pamfilo has told us so excellent a tale about the force of love, said
Filomena, I will now relate a story showing the great power of
At the time when Octavius Caesar, who afterwards became the Emperor
Augustus, was governing Rome as a triumvir, a young Roman gentleman,
Titus Quintius Fulvus, went to Athens to study philosophy. There he
became acquainted with a noble young Athenian named Gisippus, and a
brotherly affection sprang up between them, and for three years they
studied together and lived under the same roof.
In the meantime, Gisippus fell in love with a young and beautiful
Athenian maiden named Sophronia, and a marriage was arranged between
them. Some days before the marriage, Gisippus took his friend with him
on a visit to his lady. It was the first time that Titus had seen
Sophronia, and as he looked upon her beauty he grew as much enamoured as
ever a man in the world was with a woman. So great was his passion that
he could neither eat nor sleep, and he grew so sick that at last he was
unable to rise from his bed. Gisippus was extremely grieved at his
illness, and knowing that it must have been caused by some secret malady
of the mind, he pressed him to reveal the cause of his grief. At length
Titus, unable to restrain himself any longer, said, with his face
streaming with tears:
"O Gisippus, I am unworthy of the name of friend! I have fallen in love
with Sophronia, and it is killing me. How base I am! But pardon me, my
dear friend, for I feel that I shall soon be punished for my disloyalty
Gisippus stood for some time in suspense by the bed side of Titus,
divided between the claims of love and the claims of friendship. But at
last he resolved to save his friend's life at the cost of his own
happiness. Some days afterwards, Sophronia was brought to his house for
the bridal ceremony to be consummated. Going softly into the bridal
chamber where the bride was lying, he put out the candles, and then went
silently to Titus, and told him that he might be the bridegroom. Titus
was so overcome with shame that he refused to go; but Gisippus so
passionately entreated him, that at last he consented. Going into the
dark bridal chamber, he softly asked Sophronia if she would be his wife.
She, thinking it was Gisippus, replied, "Yes." Then, taking a ring of
value, and putting it upon her finger, Titus said: "And I will be your
In the morning, Sophronia discovered the trick that had been put upon
her. Stealing out of the house, she went to her father and mother, and
told them that Gisippus had deceived her, and married her to Titus.
Great was the resentment against Gisippus throughout Athens, for
Sophronia came of a very ancient and noble family.
But seeing that what had been done could not be undone, the parents of
the bride at last allowed Titus to lead her to Rome, where the scandal
would not be known. But when Titus was gone, they resolved to take
vengeance upon Gisippus. A powerful party was formed against him, who
succeeded in getting him stripped of all his possessions, driven from
Athens, and condemned to perpetual exile.
Friendless and beggared, Gisippus slowly travelled on foot to Rome,
intending to ask Titus to help him. He found that his friend was now a
rich and powerful man, enjoying the favour of the young Prince Octavius,
and living in a splendid palace. Gisippus did not dare to enter it, as
his clothes were now worn to rags, so he stood humbly by the gate like a
beggar, hoping that his friend would recognise him and speak to him. But
Titus came out in a hurry, and never even stopped to look at him; and
Gisippus, thinking that he was now despised, went away confounded with
grief and despair.
Wandering at random about the streets, he came at nightfall to a cavern
where thieves were wont to gather, and laid down on the hard ground and
wept himself to sleep. While he was sleeping, two thieves entered with
their booty and began to quarrel about it, whereupon one killed the
other and fled. In the morning some watchmen found Gisippus sleeping
beside the dead body, and arrested him.
"Yes, I killed him," said Gisippus, who was now resolved to die, and
thought that this would be a better way than taking his own life.
Thereupon, the judge sentenced him to be crucified, which was the usual
manner of death in these cases. By a strange chance, however, Titus came
into the hall to defend a poor client. He instantly recognised Gisippus,
and, wondering greatly at the sad change of his fortune, he determined
at all costs to save him. But the case had gone so far that there was
only one way of doing this. And Titus took it. Stepping resolutely up to
the judge, he greatly astonished everyone by exclaiming:
"Recall thy sentence. This person is innocent; I killed the man!"
Gisippus turned round in astonishment, and seeing Titus, he concluded
that he was trying to save him for friendship's sake. But he was
determined that he would not accept the sacrifice.
"Do not believe him, sir. I was the murderer. Let the punishment fall on
me," he said to the judge.
The judge was amazed to see two men contending for the torture of
crucifixion with as much eagerness as if it had been the highest honour
in the world; and suddenly a notorious thief, who had been standing in
the court, came forward and made this surprising declaration:
"This strange debate has so moved me that I will confess everything," he
said. "You cannot believe, sir, that either of these men committed the
murder. What should a man of the rank and wealth of Titus have to do in
a thieves' cavern? He was never there. But this poor, ragged stranger
was sleeping in a corner when I and my fellow entered. Thieves, you
know, sometimes fall out, especially over their booty. This was what
happened last night; and, to put an end to the quarrel, I used a knife."
The appearance of a third self-accuser so perplexed the judge that he
put the case before Octavius Caesar, and Caesar called the three men up
before him. Thereupon Titus and Gisippus related to him at length the
strange story of their friendship, and he set the two friends at
liberty, and even pardoned the thief for their sakes.
Titus then took Gisippus to his house and forced him to accept a half of
his great wealth, and married him to his sister Fulvia, a very charming
and lovely young noblewoman.
For the rest of their lives Titus and Sophronia, and Gisippus and
Fulvia, lived very happily together in the same palace in Rome, and
every day added something to their contentment and felicity.
_The Three Rings: A Tale of Ingenuity_
It was now Neifile's turn to tell a story, and she said that as there
had been much controversy at Florence during the plague concerning
religion, this had put her in mind of the tale of Melchizedeck.
This man was a very rich Jew, who lived at Alexandria in the reign of
great Sultan Saladin. Saladin, being much impoverished by his wars, had
a mind to rob Melchizedeck. In order to get a pretext for plundering the
Jew, he sent for him.
"I hear that thou art very wise in religious matters," said Saladin,
"and I wish to know which religion thou judgest to be the true one--the
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