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Since my good people love a fire that flares, With spiders' webs inwoven. But it hung
Beyond his grasp; so, rising, put he forth Casque on my head and lance upon my thigh- His old man's shanks, shriveled and horrible. If it is vivid and intense enough,
Haggard before him stood the Monk. “Then When fed on bumpkins' grease. Flame and live perish, coal
Impenitent blasphemer, in thy sins!" I would compare them !"
He spoke; and, covering at a single bound “ Gottlob! Satan, too, The intervening space, with eyes that burned, Makes hot his furnaces. Think of the flame Gleaming deep-set below his tonsured crown Reddening volcanic mouths ! Think of the As coals upon a forge, cool, resolute, damned
Grappling the Margrave by the throat, despite Writhing and suffocating in the pit,
His shrieks of “Help” and “Murder !" and deOr under horrid portals burning ever,
spite As though eternal torches! Marquis, think His white locks o'er the pillow streaming loose, That above us there is a God! Remember Strangled him—these the only added words: That thou wilt die soon; that thy gibbets all, Die, Margrave, die ! this time without reWith single arms outstretched, are pointing thee prieve!" The downward road! Ay, Margrave! after death,
Then, calm and grave, he reverently bends Thou, who wert brave and well born, and for Over the corpse, and readjusts the sheet, crest
As might a mother o'er her sleeping babe ; Didst bear a hydra blazoned, thou wilt be Lifts and relights a lamp thrown down; and, Naked and helpless as a dunghill worm!
kneeling Then to the fire that dies not hurried on,
As was his wont in hallowed precinct, folds Bleeding from prick of demons' pointed wings,
His hands, and meekly mutters, “ Before God Hands bound, feet chained, and prodded by their Do I confess myself !"
forks, Vainly thy crippled limbs would hold thee back; Hell gapeth for thee! Thou art forward thrust,
THE BENEDICTION. Thy white beard singed in the all-devouring heat !"
It was in eighteen hundred-yes—and nine, “Amen!” replied the Margrave. “Monk, go That we took Saragossa. What a day forth,
Of untold horrors! I was sergeant then. Offering thy keys of paradise, I tell thee, The city carried, we laid siege to houses, To yonder boors so busy with their chants; All shut up close, and with a treacherous look Thanks to the sword, there's more than one of Raining down shots upon us from the windows. them
“ 'Tis the priests' doing !" was the word passed Will need anon that heaven its gates unclose!
round; As to my own account-Satan is prince, So that although since daybreak under arms, I marquis; and on equal terms alone
Our eyes with powder smarting, and our mouths Will I confront him, seeing that we are
Bitter with kissing cartridge-ends—piff! paff! Gentlemen both of us, of lineage both
Rattled the musketry with ready aim, Most ancient and most lofty. Also, there If shovel-hat and long black cloak were seen Down in his hell shall I again encounter
Flying in the distance. Up a narrow street Comrades, my best and bravest of old days, My company worked on. I kept an eye Who in the battle's whirlwind fell by steel ; On every house-top right and left, and saw And tourneys will we interchange and fêtes ! From many a roof flames suddenly burst forth Meantime for you, my minions, you who dance Coloring the sky, as from the chimney-tops And light up bonfires and are all elate,
Among the forges. Low our fellows stooped, I have imagined such a jubilee
Entering the low - pitched dens. When they Such rich repast for my pet carrion-birds
came out, That, centuries hence, your sons will doff their With bayonets dripping red, their bloody fingers hats,
Signed crosses on the wall ; for we were bound Passing within the shadow of my tomb!” In such a dangerous defile not to leave
And Gottlob, panting as the maniac pants, Foes lurking in our rear. There was no drumTurned his black looks to a panoply of arms,
beat, Where swords a score in iron posy ranged No ordered march. Our officers looked grave; Blossomed portentous, shimmering hard and the rank and file uneasy, jogging elbows bright,
As do recruits when flinching.
All at once,
His lifted arms seemed as the spread of wings; Rounding a corner, we are hailed in French And as he raised the pyx, and in the air With cries for help. At double-quick we join With it described the Cross, each man of us Our hard-pressed comrades. They were grena- Fell back, aware the priest no more was tremdiers,
bling A gallant company, but beaten back
Than if before him the devout were ranged. Inglorious from the raised and flag-paved square But when, intoned with clear and mellow voice, Fronting a convent. Twenty stalwart monks The words came to usDefended it-black demons with shaved crowns,
“ Vos benedicat The Cross in white embroidered on their frocks, Deus Omnipotens !” Barefoot, their sleeves tucked up, their only
The captain's order weapons
Rang out again and sharply, “ Shoot him down, Enormous crucifixes, so well brandished
Or I shall swear!" Then one of ours, a dastard, Our men went down before them. By platoons Leveled his gun and fired. Upstanding still, Firing, we swept the place; in fact, we slaugh- The priest changed color, though with steadfast tered
look This terrible group of heroes, no more soul Set upward, and indomitably stern. Being in us than in executioners.
“ Pater et Filius !" The foul deed done—deliberately done
Came the words. What frenzy, And, the thick smoke rolling away, we noted
What maddening thirst for blood, sent from our Under the huddled masses of the dead
ranks Rivulets of blood run trickling down the steps;
Another shot, I know not; but 'twas done. While in the background solemnly the church
The monk with one hand on the altar's Loomed up, its doors wide open. We went in.
ledge It was a desert. Lighted tapers starred
Held himself up; and, strenuous to complete The inner gloom with points of gold. The in- His benediction, in the other raised
The consecrated host. For the third time Gave out its perfume. At the upper end,
Tracing in air the symbol of forgiveness, Turned to the altar as though unconcerned
With eyes closed, and in tones exceeding low, In the fierce battle that had raged, a priest,
But in the general hush distinctly heard-
he said ; and, ending
The golden pyx Making the red blood on the pavement steam; Rolled bounding on the floor. Then, as we And there, framed in by the low porch, the stood, priest;
Even the old troopers, with our muskets groundAnd there the altar brilliant as a shrine;
ed, And here ourselves, all halting, hesitating, And choking horror in our hearts, at sight Almost afraid.
Of such a shameless murder and at sight
Of such a martyr, with a chuckling laughI, certès, in those days Was a confirmed blasphemer. 'Tis on record
" Amen/" That once, by way of sacrilegious joke,
Drawled out a drummer-boy.
“Shoot him !” our captain cried. Not a soul budged. The priest beyond all doubt Soon as her lover to the war had gone, Heard, but as though he heard not. Turning Without or tears or commonplace despair, round,
Irene de Grandfief, a maiden pure He faced us, with the elevated host,
And noble-minded, reassumed the garb Having that period of the service reached That at the convent she had worn-black dress When on the faithful benediction falls.
With narrow pelerine—and the small cross
In silver at her breast. Her piano closed, She would be brave as Roger. So she blushed Her jewels put away-all save one ring,
At her own momentary fear; then, calm
As though the incident a trifle were,
Down to the drawing-room as usual went,
It had indeed
Thrown out as scouts, a few Bavarian soldiers Smitten when joyous at high festival,
Had been abruptly by our Franc-Tireurs Groaned; but his action gallant was and prompt. Surprised and driven off. The distant glades Bidding farewell, and from Irene's brow
Resumed their wonted silence. Culling one silken tress, that he might wear it
“ 'Twould be well,” In gold medallion close upon his heart,
Remarked Irene, “ that an ambulance
In fact, they had picked up Too well is known.
Just at that moment, where the fight had been, Impassible, and speaking A wounded officer-Bavarian was heSeldom as might be of her absent lover, Shot through the neck. And, when they brought Irene daily, at a certain hour,
him in, Watched at her window till the postman came That tall young man, all pale, eyes closed, and Down o'er the hill along the public road,
bleeding, His mail-bag at his back. If he passed by, Stretched on a mattress, without sigh or shudder Nor any letter left, she turned away,
Irene had him carefully borne up Stifling a long-drawn sigh; and that was all. Into the room by Roger occupied
When he came wooing there. Then, while they But Roger wrote; nor were Irene's fears,
put Up to mid-August, unendurable.
The wounded man to bed, she carried out He with the army was in fact at Metz
Herself his vest and cloak all black with blood; Blocked in. Then, gathering from a fugitive
Bade the old valet wear an air less glum, Who had fled thence that Roger had survived
And stir himself with more alacrity; The earlier battles, she in sight of all
And, when the doctor dressed the wound, lent aid, Held back her rebel tears, and bravely strove
As of the Sisterhood of Charity, To live debarred of tidings. She became
With her own hands. The officer at last, More pious, passing many an hour at church.
Wonder and gratitude upon his face, Often she visited the village poor,
Sank down among the pillows deftly laid. Freest of converse, liberal most, in homes
Then by that drowsy head she took a seat, Whence by the war the sons had been with. Asked for what linen rags might be at hand, drawn.
And wrought them into lint. Irene thus
Bringing the doctor. When he saw his patient, Drew near Irene's château. Uhlans foraged A strange expression fitted o'er his face, The country round. But all in vain the priest As to himself he muttered: “Yes ; fushed cheek; And the old doctor, in their evening talk Pulse beating much too high. Phew! a bad Grouped with the family around the hearth,
night; Death for their constant theme before her took. Fever, delirium, and the rest that follows !"No sad foreboding could that young heart know. “But will he die?” with tremor on her lip Roger at Metz was with his regiment, safe, Irene asked. At the last date unwounded. He was living;
“Who knows? If possible,
And tend him closely.”
“ Doctor, I am here." Wakened, one morning, with a start, she heard In the far copses of the park shots fired
“ Not you, young lady! Service such as this In quick succession. 'Twas the enemy! One of your valets can—"
“ No, doctor, no ! Touched with compassion sudden and supreme,
'I must needs die.. You are an officer A German woman for his nurse.”
A gentleman perchance.' “Yes; tell me, quick;
“ So be it,” What can I for you?' 'Promise-only promise Answered the doctor, offering her his hand. To forward this,' he said, his fingers clutching “ You will keep watch, then, through the night. A gold medallion hanging at his breast, The fever
Dabbled in blood,“to-' Then his latest thought Must not take hold, or he will straightway die. Passed with his latest breath. The loved one's Give him the potion four times every hour.
name, I will return to judge of its effects
Mistress or bride affianced, was not told
On the medallion, I took charge of it,
Hoping to trace her at some future day
Among the old nobility of France,
Here it is. Take it. But, I pray you, swear
“I swear it, sir !” she murmured. “Sleep in
peace!" Do not excite yourself. Your life depends On perfect quiet.
The wounded man sank down in sleep. Irene,
Yes, he is dead, her lover! Those his arms;
The very blood-stains his! Nor was his death It was last month, by Metz; 'twas my ill fate
Heroic, soldier-like. Struck from behind,
Without or cry or call for comrades' help,
The man who murdered him! Yes; he has
With what cruel mockery, cruel and supreme-
Administer the remedy prescribed,
So that he die not! And the man himself
Counting on this in quiet, sheltered, housed
Beyond imagination horrible ?
All that is awful in the one word “hate"!
Up toward the antique Christ in ivory While in her breast the ominous anger seethes At the bed's head suspended on the wall That nerved, in Holy Scripture, Jael's arm Irene raised the martyr's look sublime; To drive the nail through Sisera's head !she Then, ashen pale, but ever with her eyes save
Turned to the God of Calvary, poured out The accursèd German! Oh, away ! such point The soothing draught, and with a delicate hand Forbearance reaches not. What !-while it glit- Gave to the wounded man the drink he asked.
ters There in the corner, the brass-pommeled sword
Thou, Lord, and thou alone, didst see what Wherewith the murderer struck, and fell de
Beside that couch in those funereal hours. Fierce impulse, bids it from the scabbard leap, When in that gloom the Evil Spirit spoke, Shall she, in deference to vague prejudice,
Thou, who by Satan to the desert led To some fantastic notion that affects
Couldst only at the last find strength to say, Human respect and duty, shall she put
“ Get thee behind me!” thou, O Lord ! didst Repose and sleep and antidote and life
pardon Into the horrible hand by which all joy
That tempted soul. And when she bowed her Is ravished from her ? Never! She will break
head The assuaging flask. ... But no! 'Twere need- Before the final anguish, thou alone
Wert witness, and alone thou didst approve. less that. She needs but leave Fate to work out its end.
Remembering then that on the Mount of Olives Fate, to avenge her, seems to be at one
Thou didst recoil from thy impending doom, With her resolve. "Twere but to let him die!
And meekly pray, “O Father, let this cup Yes; there the life-preserving potion stands;
Pass from me!” thou with pity didst behold But for one hour might she not fall asleep?
That heart too sorely smitten. Who can doubt,
Lord, that thy blessing was on her vouchsafed ? Then, all in tears, she murmured, “ Infamy!"
But when the doctor in the morning came, And still the struggle lasted, till the German, And saw her still beside the officer, Roused by her deep groans from his wandering Tending him still and giving him his drink dreams,
With trembling fingers, he was much amazed. Moved, ill at ease, and, feverish, begged for drink. Irene had white hair!
THÉ OPHILE GAUTIER.
“I WAS born to travel and to make verses,” lettre de change that bankers can not be found
sighed Théophile Gautier, thinking of the to honor, and with which one does not get far number of columns in a daily newspaper which upon one's travels in these degenerate days, when he was bound to fill up somehow or other, for troubadours are at a mournful discount, and when the sad consideration of so many centimes a line even Geoffrey Rudel might bawl himself hoarse -a moral slavery more galling than the whip without getting so much as a supper of bread and the chain of the debased South African. and cheese, if his purse were minus a silver For the indignant journalist, who had to hatch lining ! up improbabilities, scurrilities, and rubbish of The Fates, however, were more propitious to any kind to furnish “copy" for a penny periodi- this poet pining for the sandal-shoon and the cal, and expend his time and his brain-power on cockle-shell of the roving pilgrim than to many something which brought him neither fame nor others of his gifted brotherhood, who seldom obfortune, but simply a dinner and a lodging, was a tain what they most sigh for until the desire of it poet of rare genius. And, like all poets, he loved has passed away, and its possession can no lonhis ease and the ever-changeful aspect of nature, ger bring the happiness it might have done had and burned to behold the fabled marvels of far- it come when it was wanted. Théophile Gautier off lands. And, like all poets again, or at least a not only found leisure by and by to make the great many of them, he had fewer bank-notes verses for whose especial fabrication he was first than illusions—which are unfortunately a kind of introduced into an unromantic world (and what