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Guennolé strove the silken robes of the courtiers mightily against the wicked- opened raggedly to reveal their ness which he found in the clean-picked frames. court of King Gralon of Ker-ys. By the will of God all Ahès was indifferent to all these shall live again to be persuasion, and she was angry judged by Him,' said St Guenbecause the blessed saint spoke nolé steadily, and with that to her without fear and bitterly. word the
sweet sunshine She was determined that he gleamed again on the coloured should look into the face of floor, the sea wind breathed fear, for then, she knew, he through the wide hall of the could no longer trouble her. King, and the rustle of silken “ It was
a day when St robes was as an echo of the Guennolé battled with sound breath of the wind. There sat ing words against the hesita- red King Gralon on his throne tion and weakness which was in playing with the golden chain the heart of the King. The at his throat from which hung King's court was about him, the golden key of the seaand Princess Ahès, smiling gates, and all his courtiers coldly, leaned against the high were murmuring compliments throne.
about him. “Repent or perish !' thun- “ • Have you no fear of dered the Blessed Saint. “Ex- death?'asked Ahès curiously, copt you turn from evil there "'I fear God and the evil shall be no mercy for you!' in my own mind that leads the
“'What mercy is this you soul away from Him,' said St speak of beyond the veil ?' Guennolé. Ahès demanded scornfully. ". There are other fears,'
“The infinite mercy of God,' said Ahès. She stripped the said St Guennolé, 'without golden rings from her fingers which men are as beasts of the and cast them down on the field, and doomed to destruo- floor. Where they fell a wreath tion.'
of mist appeared; darkness Shall I show you that followed their scattering ; where mercy ' Ahès asked quietly. they stopped a terror sprang up 'Look, then, at this King ! in the gloom. War strode
“St Guennolé looked, follow- through the hall; famine and ing the slow gesture of her pestilence followed ; impotence white hand. A bleached skele- and poverty crept through the ton sat on the King's high lurid light. All the thousand throne; the nodding skull wore permitted terrors snarled and a golden crown ; the bony howled, gibbered and jeered at jaws bound with rotting linen the saint standing firmly with gibbered and japed. The court his crozier in his hand. was a house of the dead where 6. These are the illusions of the clanking bones of warriors ignorance,' he said. 'In God's leaned on their rusty swords ; good time all these shall pass away.' He made the sign of long and earnestly at the Blessed the cross, and the terrors van- Saint. ished with the darkness in "' You are not so brave as which they came.
I thought,' she said. "No man “'You are brave !' laughed could withstand the onslaught Ahès, but you are only a man. of the unleashed powers except Therefore there is fear in he possessed a charm stronger you.'
than the wizardry of Merlin “She stooped and gathered and the hidden knowledge of a little handful of dust from the old dead. Give me also the floor, scattered it on the the secret of that charm, and air, where it hung in a tiny I will teach you my wisdom cloud. The cloud spread swiftly to make youth leap again in until it filled all the hall, and your limbs and to make your in that cloud St Guennolé saw grey lips red and thirsty for the moving shapes of all that wine and kisses. I will give he fought and feared : cruelty you the wisdom of the people with blood - dripping talons ; under the world who possess lust with clutching hands and all wealth. I will give you the hungry stony eyes; sin wear- serpent's wisdom that heals ing a mask of insupportable every hurt. I will give you beauty; hatred, hairy and the ancient wisdom that combestial, brutal and menacing; mands the powers of fire and blind pride and lame avarice water and air and earth. All stumbling together; greed with that I have I will give in return swollen paunch and loose lips for your charm.' slobbering ; withered hypocrisy “ In answer St Guennolé held rubbing her lying hands ; de- out the cross to her. ceit with thin smiling mouth ". All that I have I give and drooping eyelids ; stark freely, Princess Ahès. I need white horror and madness with Daught you can give me. My tearing fingers and quaking strength is in God, from whom jaws. Hell was let loose in is all power. All knowledge that hall, shrieking and mew- necessary to me He will give ing. Nightmare demons leaped to me. Against Him the powers and danced in sulphurous flame of evil shall not prevail.' that flaunted and swirled about “The Princess Ahès shrank the still form of the saint, away from the touch of the nearer and nearer.
Holy Crucifix, and ran from “'I see but myself,
he the hall with her white hands whispered, and from myself, over her eyes, for her doom was these phantoms, by the power prepared, and she could not of God, I am saved.'
escape from the evil that was “Now, when the shapes had in her. On that day King vanished at the sound of the Gralon submitted himself to sacred name, the Princess Ahès, the Saint of Landevenec with that terrible enchantress, looked more than a hundred of his
court, and these St Guennolé man. He wore a green jacket led out from the wicked city embroidered with silk and gold. to the cells of his monks high He carried his pipes bravely above Rumengol."
with a gay silken ribbon over Such tales Lommic the Fool his shoulder. Sea-green was told to the villagers of Kerimor his tasselled cap, and green as through the dark evenings of the new leaf were the fine winter as he sat on a low stool leather shoes on his feet. He before the wide hearths, fire- was just such a figure as the light gleaming on his towsled elder bards who were welcomed red hair, and lending a flame in every castle; a singer of to his amber eyes. Sometimes fine songs ; a master of geste his tales were of such surpass- and canticle ; a monarch in ing beauty that it seemed the his own domain of dreams. spirit of Guenc'hlan the Bard Such was his delusion. spoke again through him. Some- All this came about quite times his tales awakened haunt- simply without the least diffiing terror, so that those who culty. Lommic, the poor fool, heard them were afraid to go was despised of men. Lommic to their homes in the late hours the Fool accepted without ranexcept three or four were in cour the kicks and jeers that company. Only Lommic would were the natural wage of his go out fearlessly into the dark witlessness. ness, for he spun those tales Lommic the Poet despised from dark dreams and from the the peasant foot which kicked kindred shadows that were ever Lommic the Fool equally with in his own mind.
the hand of the fisherman's Now it must be told how wife that gave him charity. Lommic the Fool was a very He could not talk to these different person from Lommic people so that they underthe Piper, or the singer of stood him. They listened to ballads or the teller of old his tales and his music, which tales. Che fool was all that exalted or frightened them ; any one said of him, witless otherwise they were deaf to and wandering, lazy and awk- the voices of wind or rain, to ward, vagrant and lorn. He the whisper of the leaf and the possessed neither straw for his cool murmurous shade, to the broken sabots nor a sou in the sorrow of darkness and the torn pockets of his ragged drowsy content of bright noon. jacket. He was a lump of The language of bird and beast ungainliness, red and brown was alien to them, and the life from wind and sun, a tall loose of the children of the grass figure of mirth and something they passed under their heavy loss than a man.
feet. They scarcely knew the Here was not Lommic as he flowing tints of the sea, or that was known to himself. Lommic a rainbow was hidden in the the Poet was a fine upstanding gorse, or that purple bloom nestled beneath the wing of At first he had been aware a flying gull. Not one of them of no more than a presence, had ever lain their heads lov- the breath of a passing, a ingly against a shaggy tree or whisper on the wind. At first still stone to feel the pulse of his vision of Ahès was no more life in that motionless silence. than a blowing mist, a spectral And there was another world movement seen in the dusk on unseen of eyes where Lommic the moor. Then there was a the Poet passed readily to and voice which whispered inarticufro, scarcely knowing where the lately, yet which seemed to world that hand touches ended tell him strange secrets imand the world untouched began, possible to express save in the
He could not talk to men. language of song which gave Therefore he talked to his words and music something visions gradually growing more more than their human meanreal to him than men who, ing. He could not have told without judgment, praised and when he first knew that she tormented him. He talked to was the Princess Ahès who the sea and the sky and the spoke to him. There came a clean brown earth, and to the dusk when he followed her inrocks and the trees and the visible passing, and twilights beasts of the earth who pleas- when he waited, crouching still antly answered him.
as a stone, to surprise her appeopled a world of his own pearance. Presently she came with the figures of his imagina- and spoke to him in the dusk. tion, and because his childish Little by little she became concepts were woven on an familiar to him. ancient tapestry, his manhood It was long before Lommic images were living legend and knew that he was a haunted myth reborn. Among his man. .
At first there was only dreams moved Lommic the sweetness in that dark interPoet, man like other men, but course. There was no hint of something more than a man peril. Old tales she told to because the sight was on him. him, and many a quaint con
It was not strange, then, ceit of forgotten things. He that he spoke of the Princess treasured his secret knowledge, Ahès of drowned Ker-ys as one and loved to muse upon it, not who knew all her dark history. knowing at all how much of it The legend told that flood had had always belonged to Lommic overtaken Ahès in her wicked- or how little was part of his ness, but he knew that the creation of Ahès. But he beautiful sorceress was mistress knew in time that he had fallen of the implacable elements. victim to an intolerable evil. She lived, mistress of mysteries, He knew that he was caught temptress of mortal men. She fast in her spells, and there lived, and Lommic the Poet was no escape for him. spoke often to her.
Strange and terrible were the secrets of the Princess Ahès. bration of early Mass. Lommic Drop by drop that poison crept lay prone before the niche of into the mind of the fool. One St Gildas, powerful enemy of could not listen to that evil all devils and devil's sorcery. whispering in the dusk and Weeping, Lommic crept to the retain peace in God's sunlight. feet of the priest.
She was so beautiful ! All “Pity me!" he cried. “ Pity, the fool's dreams of gracious- and pray for me!” ness were embodied in her. He When the touch of the priest's yearned to her with all the hand had calmed the fool, to strength of his thwarted fancy. that good man for the first time Affrighted, he denied her power, Lommic told the story of his and sought escape among men. obsession. Perhaps if Lommic's Nevertheless, he went forth to vision had taken another form, her when the evening drew the peasant in the priest would down, and she came to him. have known at once what to She walked with him over the do. Possession by an evil spirit desolate moors beneath the is a matter with which the waning moon. She arose from Church is able to deal. But the sea and floated toward not in Father Mathieu's exhim in a pale mist of green perience, nor in any instance drapery, her face pale as the of which he had ever heard, face of a corpse, her lips red had a demon chosen to present as a wound, her dark hair himself in the form of a prinbound in a net of pearls. cess of legend who was now,
The people of Kerimor knew by all accounts, some fourteen nothing of this. They under- hundred years dead. Evil may stood only that the fool grew be exorcised by bell, book, and more foolish ; that his eyes candle. Only prayer may somebecame tormented and wild ; times prevail against delusions that madness was not far from existent in the trembling mind him. More often now they of a fool. heard the weird music of dis- Thus Father Mathieu reatant piping at night, and some- soned, and, very pitiful, he times, in the midst of a tale, promised to pray for Lommic, he would throw up his towsled not doubting that, as man or head as if listening to a sum- priest, he could do no more. moning voice, cease speaking, But Lommic needed an exorand go out into the night. It cism or some efficacious charm might be many days before which would save him from they would see him in the the fascinations of the
en• village again.
chantress. Perhaps the charm Once, dawn, Father known to the ancient St GuenMathieu, the priest of Kerimor, nolé might have been effective. found the fool stretched on the The sympathy of the priest bare stone floor of the church was less than Lommic's need. when he entered for the cele- Before moonrise Ahès called