This is all of the wonderful tale I had to tell. May be it will not seem so wonderful to you, for perhaps you, too, have felt the Dream-Fairies rocking your eyelids down with gentle lullaby music; perhaps you, too, know all the precious dreams they bring. In that case you will bear witness that my tale, even though it be not wonderful, is strictly true.
SWEET-ONE-DARLING AND THE MOON-GARDEN
One time Sweet-One-Darling heard her brother, little Our-Golden-Son, talking with the nurse. The nurse was a very wise woman and they called her Good-Old-Soul, because she was so kind to children. Little Our-Golden-Son was very knowing for a little boy only two years old, but there were several things he did not know about and one of these things troubled him a good deal and he went to the wise nurse to find out all about it.
"Tell me, Good-Old-Soul," said he, "where did I come from?"
Good-Old-Soul thought this a very natural question for little Our-Golden-Son to ask, for he was a precocious boy and was going to be a great man some time.
"I asked your mother that very question the other day," said Good-Old-Soul, "and what do you think she told me? She told me that the Doctor-Man brought you! She told me that one night she was wishing all to herself that she had a little boy with light golden hair and dark golden eyes. 'If I had such a little boy,' said she, 'I should call him Our-Golden-Son.' While she was talking this way to herself, rap-tap-rap came a knock at the door. 'Who is there?' asked your mother. 'I am the Doctor-Man,' said the person outside, 'and I have brought something for you.' Then the Doctor-Man came in and he carried a box in one hand. 'I wonder what can be in the box!' thought your mother. Now what do you suppose it was?"
"Bananas?" said little Our-Golden-Son.
"No, no," answered Good-Old-Soul, "it was nothing to eat; it was the cutest, prettiest little baby boy you ever saw! Oh, how glad your mother was, and what made her particularly happy was this: The little baby boy had light golden hair and dark golden eyes! 'Did you really bring this precious little boy for me?' asked your mother. 'Indeed I did,' said the Doctor-Man, and he lifted the little creature out of the box and laid him very tenderly in your mother's arms. That 's how you came, little Our-Golden-Son, and it was very good of the Doctor-Man to bring you, was n't it?"
Little Our-Golden-Son was much pleased with this explanation. As for Sweet-One-Darling, she was hardly satisfied with what the nurse had told. So that night when the fairies—the Dream-Fairies—came, she repeated the nurse's words to them.
"What I want to know," said Sweet-One-Darling, "is this: Where did the Doctor-Man get little Our-Golden Son? I don't doubt the truth of what Good-Old-Soul says, but Good-Old-Soul does n't tell how the Doctor-Man came to have little Our-Golden-Son in the box. How did little Our-Golden-Son happen to be in the box? Where did he come from before he got into the box?"
"That is easy enough to answer," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk. "We Dream-Fairies know all about it. Before he got into the Doctor-Man's box little Our-Golden-Son lived in the Moon. That's where all little babies live before the Doctor-Man brings them."
"Did I live there before the Doctor-Man brought me?" asked Sweet-One-Darling.
"Of course you did," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk. "I saw you there a long, long time before the Doctor-Man brought you."
"But I thought that the Moon was a big, round soda-cracker," said Sweet-One-Darling.
That made the Dream-Fairies laugh. They assured Sweet-One-Darling that the Moon was not a soda-cracker, but a beautiful round piece of silver way, way up in the sky, and that the stars were little Moons, bearing the same relationship (in point of size) to the old mother Moon that a dime does to a big silver dollar.
"And how big is the Moon?" asked Sweet-One-Darling. "Is it as big as this room?"
"Oh, very, very much bigger," said the Dream-Fairies.
"I guess it must be as big as a house," suggested Sweet-One-Darling.
"Bigger than a house," answered Gleam-o'-the-Murk.
"Oh, my!" exclaimed Sweet-One-Darling, and she began to suspect that the Dream-Fairies were fooling her.
But that night the Dream-Fairies took Sweet-One-Darling with them to the Moon! You don't believe it, eh? Well, you wait until you 've heard all about it, and then, may be, you not only will believe it, but will want to go there, too.
The Dream-Fairies lifted Sweet-One-Darling carefully out of her cradle; then their wings went "whir-r-r, whir-r-r"—you 've heard a green fly buzzing against a window-pane, have n't you? That was the kind of whirring noise the Dream-Fairies' wings made, with the pleasing difference that the Dream-Fairies' wings produced a soft, soothing music. The cricket under the honeysuckle by the window heard this music and saw the Dream-Fairies carrying Sweet-One-Darling away. "Be sure to bring her back again," said the cricket, for he was a sociable little fellow and was very fond of little children.
You can depend upon it that Sweet-One-Darling had a delightful time riding through the cool night air in the arms of those Dream-Fairies; it was a good deal like being a bird, only the Dream-Fairies flew very much faster than any bird can fly. As they sped along they told Sweet-One-Darling all about the wonderful things they saw and everything was new to Sweet-One-Darling, for she had never made any journeys before except in the little basket-carriage which Good-Old-Soul, her nurse, propelled every sunny morning up and down the street. Pretty soon they came to a beautiful river, which looked as if it were molten silver; but it was n't molten silver; it was a river of moonbeams.
"We will take a sail now," said Gleam-o'-the-Murk. "This river leads straight to the Moon, and it is well worth navigating."
So they all got into a boat that had a sail made out of ten thousand and ten baby-spiders' webs, and away they sailed as merrily as you please. Sweet-One-Darling put her feet over the side of the boat and tried to trail them in the river, but the moonbeams tickled her so that she could n't stand it very long. And what do you think? When she pulled her feet back into the boat she found them covered with dimples. She did n't know what to make of these phenomena until the Dream-Fairies explained to her that a dimple always remains where a moonbeam tickles a little child. A dimple on the foot is a sure sign that one has been trailing in that beautiful silver river that leads to the Moon.
By and by they got to the Moon. I can't begin to tell you how large it was; you 'd not believe me if I did.
"This is very lovely," said Sweet-One-Darling, "but where are the little babies?"
"Surely you did n't suppose you 'd find any babies here!" exclaimed the Dream-Fairies. "Why, in all this bright light the babies would never, never go to sleep! Oh, no; we 'll have to look for the babies on the other side of the Moon."
"Of course we shall," said Sweet-One-Darling. "I might have guessed as much if I 'd only stopped to think."
The Dream-Fairies showed Sweet-One-Darling how to get to the edge of the Moon, and when she had crawled there she held on to the edge very fast and peeped over as cautiously as if she had been a timid little mouse instead of the bravest Sweet-One-Darling in all the world. She was very cautious and quiet, because the Dream-Fairies had told her that she must be very sure not to awaken any of the little babies, for there are no Mothers up there on the other side of the Moon, and if by any chance a little baby is awakened—why, as you would easily suppose, the consequences are exceedingly embarrassing.
"Can you see anything?" asked the Dream-Fairies of Sweet-One-Darling as she clung to the edge of the Moon and peeped over.
"I should say I did!" exclaimed Sweet-One-Darling. "I never supposed there could be so beautiful a place. I see a large, fair garden, filled with shrubbery and flowers; there are fountains and velvety hillocks and silver lakes and embowered nooks. A soft, dim, golden light broods over the quiet spot."
"Yes, that is the light which shines through the Moon from the bright side; but it is very faint," said the Dream-Fairies.
"And I see the little babies asleep," continued Sweet-One-Darling. "They are lying in the embowered nooks, near the fountains, upon the velvety hillocks, amid the flowers, under the trees, and upon the broad leaves of the lilies in the silver lakes. How cunning and plump and sweet they are—I must take some of them back with me!"
If they had not been afraid of waking the babies the Dream-Fairies would have laughed uproariously at this suggestion. Just fancy Sweet-One-Darling, a baby herself, undertaking the care of a lot of other little babies fresh from the garden on the other side of the Moon!
"I wonder how they all came here in this Moon-Garden?" asked Sweet-One-Darling. And the Dream-Fairies told her.
They explained that whenever a mother upon earth asked for a little baby of her own her prayer floated up and up—many leagues up—and was borne to the other side of the Moon, where it fell and rested upon a lily leaf or upon a bank of flowers in that beautiful garden. And resting there the prayer presently grew and grew until it became a cunning little baby! So when the Doctor-Man came with his box the baby was awaiting him, and he had only to carry the precious little thing to the Mother and give her prayer back to her to keep and to love always. There are so very many of these tiny babies in the Moon-Garden that sometimes—he does n't do it of purpose—but sometimes the Doctor-Man brings the baby to the wrong mother, and that makes the real mother, who prayed for the baby, feel very, very badly.
Well, I actually believe that Sweet-One-Darling would gladly have spent the rest of her life clinging to the edge of the Moon and peeping over at the babies in that beautiful garden. But the Dream-Fairies agreed that this would never do at all. They finally got Sweet-One-Darling away by promising to stop on their journey home to replenish her nursing bottle at the Milky Way, which, as perhaps you know, is a marvellous lacteal ocean in the very midst of the sky. This beverage had so peculiar and so soothing a charm that presently Sweet-One-Darling went sound asleep, and when she woke up—goodness me! it was late in the morning, and her brother, little Our-Golden-Son, was standing by her cradle, wondering why she did n't wake up to look at his beautiful new toy elephant.
Sweet-One-Darling told Good-Old-Soul and little Our-Golden-Son all about the garden on the other side of the Moon.
"I am sure it is true," said Good-Old-Soul. "And now that I come to think of it, that is the reason why the Moon always turns her bright side toward our earth! If the other side were turned this way the light of the sun and the noise we make would surely awaken and frighten those poor little babies!"
Little Our-Golden-Son believed the story, too. And if Good-Old-Soul and little Our-Golden-Son believed it, why should n't you? If it were not true how could I have known all about it and told it to you?
SAMUEL COWLES AND HIS HORSE ROYAL
The day on which I was twelve years old my father said to me: "Samuel, walk down the lane with me to the pasture-lot; I want to show you something." Never suspicioning anything, I trudged along with father, and what should I find in the pasture lot but the cunningest, prettiest, liveliest colt a boy ever clapped eyes on!
"That is my birthday present to you," said father. "Yes, Samuel, I give the colt to you to do with as you like, for you 've been a good boy and have done well at school."
You can easily understand that my boyish heart overflowed with pride and joy and gratitude. A great many years have elapsed since that time, but I have n't forgotten and I never shall forget the delight of that moment, when I realized that I had a colt of my own—a real, live colt, and a Morgan colt, at that!
"How old is he, father?" I asked.
"A week old, come to-morrow," said father.
"Has Judge Phipps seen him yet?" I asked.
"No; nobody has seen him but you and me and the hired man."
Judge Phipps was the justice of the peace. I had a profound respect for him, for what he did n't know about horses was n't worth knowing; I was sure of this, because the judge himself told me so. One of the first duties to which I applied myself was to go and get the judge and show him the colt. The judge praised the pretty creature inordinately, enumerating all his admirable points and predicting a famous career for him. The judge even went so far as to express the conviction that in due time my colt would win "imperishable renown and immortal laurels as a competitor at the meetings of the Hampshire County Trotting Association," of which association the judge was the president, much to the scandal of his estimable wife, who viewed with pious horror her husband's connection with the race-track.
"What do you think I ought to name my colt?" I asked of the judge.
"When I was about your age," the judge answered, "I had a colt and I named him Royal. He won all the premiums at the county fair before he was six year old."
That was quite enough for me. To my thinking every utterance of the judge's was ex cathedra; moreover, in my boyish exuberance, I fancied that this name would start my colt auspiciously upon a famous career; I began at once to think and to speak of him as the prospective winner of countless honors.
From the moment when I first set eyes on Royal I was his stanch friend; even now, after the lapse of years, I cannot think of my old companion without feeling here in my breast a sense of gratitude that that honest, patient, loyal friend entered so largely into my earlier life.
Twice a day I used to trudge down the lane to the pasture-lot to look at the colt, and invariably I was accompanied by a troop of boy acquaintances who heartily envied me my good luck, and who regaled me constantly with suggestions of what they would do if Royal were their colt. Royal soon became friendly with us all, and he would respond to my call, whinnying to me as I came down the lane, as much as to say: "Good morning to you, little master! I hope you are coming to have a romp with me." And, gracious! how he would curve his tail and throw up his head and gather his short body together and trot around the pasture-lot on those long legs of his! He enjoyed life, Royal did, as much as we boys enjoyed it.
Naturally enough, I made all sorts of plans for Royal. I recall that, after I had been on a visit to Springfield and had beholden for the first time the marvels of Barnum's show, I made up my mind that when Royal and I were old enough we would unite our fortunes with those of a circus, and in my imagination I already pictured huge and gaudy posters announcing the blood-curdling performances of the dashing bareback equestrian, Samuel Cowles, upon his fiery Morgan steed, Royal! This plan was not at all approved of by Judge Phipps, who continued to insist that it was on the turf and not in the sawdust circle that Royal's genius lay, and to this way of thinking I was finally converted, but not until the judge had promised to give me a sulky as soon as Royal demonstrated his ability to make a mile in 2:40.
It is not without a sigh of regret that in my present narrative I pass over the five years next succeeding the date of Royal's arrival. For they were very happy years—indeed, at this distant period I am able to recall only that my boyhood was full, brimful of happiness. I broke Royal myself; father and the hired man stood around and made suggestions, and at times they presumed to take a hand in the proceedings. Virtually, however, I broke Royal to the harness and to the saddle, and after that I was even more attached to him than ever before—you know how it is, if ever you 've broken a colt yourself!
When I went away to college it seemed to me that leaving Royal was almost as hard as leaving mother and father; you see the colt had become a very large part of my boyish life—followed me like a pet dog, was lonesome when I was n't round, used to rub his nose against my arm and look lovingly at me out of his big, dark, mournful eyes—yes, I cried when I said good-by to him the morning I started for Williamstown. I was ashamed of it then, but not now—no, not now.
But my fun was all the keener, I guess, when I came home at vacation times. Then we had it, up hill and down dale—Royal and I did! In the summer-time along the narrow roads we trailed, and through leafy lanes, and in my exultation I would cut at the tall weeds at the roadside and whisk at the boughs arching overhead, as if I were a warrior mounted for battle and these other things were human victims to my valor. In the winter we sped away over the snow and ice, careless to the howling of the wind and the wrath of the storm. Royal knew the favorite road, every inch of the way; he knew, too, when Susie held the reins—Susie was Judge Phipps' niece, and I guess she 'd have mittened me if it had n't been that I had the finest colt in the county!
The summer I left college there came to me an overwhelming sense of patriotic duty. Mother was the first to notice my absent-mindedness, and to her I first confided the great wish of my early manhood. It is hard for parents to bid a son go forth to do service upon the battlefield, but New England in those times responded cheerfully and nobly to Mr. Lincoln's call. The Eighth Massachusetts cavalry was the regiment I enlisted in; a baker's dozen of us boys went together from the quiet little village nestling in the shadow of Mount Holyoke. From Camp Andrew I wrote back a piteous letter, complaining of the horse that had been assigned to me; I wanted Royal; we had been inseparable in times of peace—why should we not share together the fortunes of war? Within a fortnight along came Royal, conducted in all dignity by—you would never guess—by Judge Phipps! Full of patriotism and of cheer was the judge.
"Both of ye are thoroughbreds," said he. "Ye 'll come in under the wire first every time, I know ye will."
The judge also brought me a saddle blanket which Susie had ornamented with wondrous and tender art.
So Royal and I went into the war together. There were times of privation and of danger; neither of us ever complained. I am proud to bear witness that in every emergency my horse bore himself with a patience and a valor that seemed actually human. My comrades envied me my gentle, stanch, obedient servant. Indeed, Royal and I became famous as inseparable and loyal friends.
We were in five battles and neither of us got even so much as a scratch. But one afternoon in a skirmish with the rebels near Potomac Mills a bullet struck me in the thigh, and from the mere shock I fell from Royal's back into the tangle of the thicket. The fall must have stunned me, for the next thing I knew I was alone—deserted of all except my faithful horse. Royal stood over me, and when I opened my eyes he gave a faint whinny. I hardly knew what to do. My leg pained me excruciatingly. I surmised that I would never be able to make my way back to camp under the fire of the rebel picketers, for I discovered that they were closing in.
Then it occurred to me to pin a note to Royal's saddle blanket and to send Royal back to camp telling the boys of the trouble I was in. The horse understood it all; off he galloped, conscious of the import of the mission upon which he had been dispatched. Bang-bang-bang! went the guns over yonder, as if the revengeful creatures in the far-off brush guessed the meaning of our manoeuvering and sought to slay my loyal friend. But not a bullet touched him—leastwise he galloped on and on till I lost sight of him. They came for me at last, the boys did; they were a formidable detachment, and how the earth shook as they swept along!
"We thought you were a goner, sure," said Hi Bixby.
"I guess I would have been if it had n't been for Royal," said I.
"I guess so, myself," said he. "When we saw him stumblin' along all bloody we allowed for sure you was dead!"
"All blood?" I cried. "Is Royal hurt?"
"As bad as a hoss can be," said he.
In camp we found them doing the best they could for him. But it was clearly of no avail. There was a gaping, ragged hole in his side; seeking succor for me, Royal had met his death-wound. I forgot my own hurt; I thrust the others aside and hobbled where he lay.
"Poor old Roy!" I cried, as I threw myself beside my dying friend and put my arms about his neck. Then I patted and stroked him and called him again and again by name, and there was a look in his eyes that told me he knew me and was glad that I was there.
How strange, and yet how beautiful, it was that in that far-off country, with my brave, patient, loyal friend's fluttering heart close unto mine, I neither saw nor thought of the scene around me.
But before my eyes came back the old, familiar places—the pasture lot, the lane, the narrow road up the hill, the river winding along between great stretches of brown corn, the aisle of maple trees, and the fountain where we drank so many, many times together—and I smelled the fragrance of the flowers and trees abloom, and I heard the dear voices and the sweet sounds of my boyhood days.
Then presently a mighty shudder awakened me from this dreaming. And I cried out with affright and grief, for I felt that I was alone.
In the reign of Egbert the Saxon there dwelt in Britain a maiden named Yseult, who was beloved of all, both for her goodness and for her beauty. But, though many a youth came wooing her, she loved Harold only, and to him she plighted her troth.
Among the other youth of whom Yseult was beloved was Alfred, and he was sore angered that Yseult showed favor to Harold, so that one day Alfred said to Harold: "Is it right that old Siegfried should come from his grave and have Yseult to wife?" Then added he, "Prithee, good sir, why do you turn so white when I speak your grandsire's name?"
Then Harold asked, "What know you of Siegfried that you taunt me? What memory of him should vex me now?"
"We know and we know," retorted Alfred. "There are some tales told us by our grandmas we have not forgot."
So ever after that Alfred's words and Alfred's bitter smile haunted Harold by day and night.
Harold's grandsire, Siegfried the Teuton, had been a man of cruel violence. The legend said that a curse rested upon him, and that at certain times he was possessed of an evil spirit that wreaked its fury on mankind. But Siegfried had been dead full many years, and there was naught to mind the world of him save the legend and a cunning-wrought spear which he had from Brunehilde, the witch. This spear was such a weapon that it never lost its brightness, nor had its point been blunted. It hung in Harold's chamber, and it was the marvel among weapons of that time.
Yseult knew that Alfred loved her, but she did not know of the bitter words which Alfred had spoken to Harold. Her love for Harold was perfect in its trust and gentleness. But Alfred had hit the truth: the curse of old Siegfried was upon Harold—slumbering a century, it had awakened in the blood of the grandson, and Harold knew the curse that was upon him, and it was this that seemed to stand between him and Yseult. But love is stronger than all else, and Harold loved.
Harold did not tell Yseult of the curse that was upon him, for he feared that she would not love him if she knew. Whensoever he felt the fire of the curse burning in his veins he would say to her, "To-morrow I hunt the wild boar in the uttermost forest," or, "Next week I go stag-stalking among the distant northern hills." Even so it was that he ever made good excuse for his absence, and Yseult thought no evil things, for she was trustful; ay, though he went many times away and was long gone, Yseult suspected no wrong. So none beheld Harold when the curse was upon him in its violence.
Alfred alone bethought himself of evil things. "'T is passing strange," quoth he, "that ever and anon this gallant lover should quit our company and betake himself whither none knoweth. In sooth 't will be well to have an eye on old Siegfried's grandson."
Harold knew that Alfred watched him zealously, and he was tormented by a constant fear that Alfred would discover the curse that was on him; but what gave him greater anguish was the fear that mayhap at some moment when he was in Yseult's presence, the curse would seize upon him and cause him to do great evil unto her, whereby she would be destroyed or her love for him would be undone forever. So Harold lived in terror, feeling that his love was hopeless, yet knowing not how to combat it.
Now, it befell in those times that the country round about was ravaged of a werewolf, a creature that was feared by all men howe'er so valorous. This werewolf was by day a man, but by night a wolf given to ravage and to slaughter, and having a charmed life against which no human agency availed aught. Wheresoever he went he attacked and devoured mankind, spreading terror and desolation round about, and the dream-readers said that the earth would not be freed from the werewolf until some man offered himself a voluntary sacrifice to the monster's rage.
Now, although Harold was known far and wide as a mighty huntsman, he had never set forth to hunt the werewolf, and, strange enow, the werewolf never ravaged the domain while Harold was therein. Whereat Alfred marvelled much, and oftentimes he said: "Our Harold is a wondrous huntsman. Who is like unto him in stalking the timid doe and in crippling the fleeing boar? But how passing well doth he time his absence from the haunts of the werewolf. Such valor beseemeth our young Siegfried."
Which being brought to Harold his heart flamed with anger, but he made no answer, lest he should betray the truth he feared.
It happened so about that time that Yseult said to Harold, "Wilt thou go with me to-morrow even to the feast in the sacred grove?"
"That can I not do," answered Harold. "I am privily summoned hence to Normandy upon a mission of which I shall some time tell thee. And I pray thee, on thy love for me, go not to the feast in the sacred grove without me."
"What say'st thou?" cried Yseult. "Shall I not go to the feast of Ste. Aelfreda? My father would be sore displeased were I not there with the other maidens. 'T were greatest pity that I should despite his love thus."
"But do not, I beseech thee," Harold implored. "Go not to the feast of Ste. Aelfreda in the sacred grove! And thou would thus love me, go not—see, thou my life, on my two knees I ask it!"
"How pale thou art," said Yseult, "and trembling."
"Go not to the sacred grove upon the morrow night," he begged.
Yseult marvelled at his acts and at his speech. Then, for the first time, she thought him to be jealous—whereat she secretly rejoiced (being a woman).
"Ah," quoth she, "thou dost doubt my love," but when she saw a look of pain come on his face she added—as if she repented of the words she had spoken—"or dost thou fear the werewolf?"
Then Harold answered, fixing his eyes on hers, "Thou hast said it; it is the werewolf that I fear."
"Why dost thou look at me so strangely, Harold?" cried Yseult. "By the cruel light in thine eyes one might almost take thee to be the werewolf!"
"Come hither, sit beside me," said Harold tremblingly, "and I will tell thee why I fear to have thee go to the feast of Ste. Aelfreda to-morrow evening. Hear what I dreamed last night. I dreamed I was the werewolf—do not shudder, dear love, for 't was only a dream.
"A grizzled old man stood at my bedside and strove to pluck my soul from my bosom.
"'What would'st thou?' I cried.
"'Thy soul is mine,' he said, 'thou shalt live out my curse. Give me thy soul—hold back thy hands—give me thy soul, I say.'
"'Thy curse shall not be upon me,' I cried. 'What have I done that thy curse should rest upon me? Thou shalt not have my soul.'
"'For my offence shalt thou suffer, and in my curse thou shalt endure hell—it is so decreed.'
"So spake the old man, and he strove with me, and he prevailed against me, and he plucked my soul from my bosom, and he said, 'Go, search and kill'—and—and lo, I was a wolf upon the moor.
"The dry grass crackled beneath my tread. The darkness of the night was heavy and it oppressed me. Strange horrors tortured my soul, and it groaned and groaned, gaoled in that wolfish body. The wind whispered to me; with its myriad voices it spake to me and said, 'Go, search and kill.' And above these voices sounded the hideous laughter of an old man. I fled the moor—whither I knew not, nor knew I what motive lashed me on.
"I came to a river and I plunged in. A burning thirst consumed me, and I lapped the waters of the river—they were waves of flame, and they flashed around me and hissed, and what they said was, 'Go, search and kill,' and I heard the old man's laughter again.
"A forest lay before me with its gloomy thickets and its sombre shadows—with its ravens, its vampires, its serpents, its reptiles, and all its hideous brood of night. I darted among its thorns and crouched amid the leaves, the nettles, and the brambles. The owls hooted at me and the thorns pierced my flesh. 'Go, search and kill,' said everything. The hares sprang from my pathway; the other beasts ran bellowing away; every form of life shrieked in my ears—the curse was on me—I was the werewolf.
"On, on I went with the fleetness of the wind, and my soul groaned in its wolfish prison, and the winds and the waters and the trees bade me, 'Go, search and kill, thou accursed brute; go, search and kill.'
"Nowhere was there pity for the wolf; what mercy, thus, should I, the werewolf, show? The curse was on me and it filled me with a hunger and a thirst for blood. Skulking on my way within myself I cried, 'Let me have blood, oh, let me have human blood, that this wrath may be appeased, that this curse may be removed.'
"At last I came to the sacred grove. Sombre loomed the poplars, the oaks frowned upon me. Before me stood an old man—'twas he, grizzled and taunting, whose curse I bore. He feared me not. All other living things fled before me, but the old man feared me not. A maiden stood beside him. She did not see me, for she was blind.
"Kill, kill,' cried the old man, and he pointed at the girl beside him.
"Hell raged within me—the curse impelled me—I sprang at her throat. I heard the old man's laughter once more, and then—then I awoke, trembling, cold, horrified."
Scarce was this dream told when Alfred strode that way.
"Now, by'r Lady," quoth he, "I bethink me never to have seen a sorrier twain."
Then Yseult told him of Harold's going away and how that Harold had besought her not to venture to the feast of Ste. Aelfreda in the sacred grove.
"These fears are childish," cried Alfred boastfully. "And thou sufferest me, sweet lady, I will bear thee company to the feast, and a score of my lusty yeomen with their good yew-bows and honest spears, they shall attend me. There be no werewolf, I trow, will chance about with us."
Whereat Yseult laughed merrily, and Harold said: "'T is well; thou shalt go to the sacred grove, and may my love and Heaven's grace forefend all evil."
Then Harold went to his abode, and he fetched old Siegfried's spear back unto Yseult, and he gave it into her two hands, saying, "Take this spear with thee to the feast to-morrow night. It is old Siegfried's spear, possessing mighty virtue and marvellous."
And Harold took Yseult to his heart and blessed her, and he kissed her upon her brow and upon her lips, saying, "Farewell, oh, my beloved. How wilt thou love me when thou know'st my sacrifice. Farewell, farewell forever, oh, alder-liefest mine."
So Harold went his way, and Yseult was lost in wonderment.
On the morrow night came Yseult to the sacred grove wherein the feast was spread, and she bore old Siegfried's spear with her in her girdle. Alfred attended her, and a score of lusty yeomen were with him. In the grove there was great merriment, and with singing and dancing and games withal did the honest folk celebrate the feast of the fair Ste. Aelfreda.
But suddenly a mighty tumult arose, and there were cries of "The werewolf!" "The werewolf!" Terror seized upon all—stout hearts were frozen with fear. Out from the further forest rushed the werewolf, wood wroth, bellowing hoarsely, gnashing his fangs and tossing hither and thither the yellow foam from his snapping jaws. He sought Yseult straight, as if an evil power drew him to the spot where she stood. But Yseult was not afeared; like a marble statue she stood and saw the werewolf's coming. The yeomen, dropping their torches and casting aside their bows, had fled; Alfred alone abided there to do the monster battle.
At the approaching wolf he hurled his heavy lance, but as it struck the werewolf's bristling back the weapon was all to-shivered.
Then the werewolf, fixing his eyes upon Yseult, skulked for a moment in the shadow of the yews and thinking then of Harold's words, Yseult plucked old Siegfried's spear from her girdle, raised it on high, and with the strength of despair sent it hurtling through the air.
The werewolf saw the shining weapon, and a cry burst from his gaping throat—a cry of human agony. And Yseult saw in the werewolf's eyes the eyes of some one she had seen and known, but 't was for an instant only, and then the eyes were no longer human, but wolfish in their ferocity. A supernatural force seemed to speed the spear in its flight. With fearful precision the weapon smote home and buried itself by half its length in the werewolf's shaggy breast just above the heart, and then, with a monstrous sigh—as if he yielded up his life without regret—the werewolf fell dead in the shadow of the yews.
Then, ah, then in very truth there was great joy, and loud were the acclaims, while, beautiful in her trembling pallor, Yseult was led unto her home, where the people set about to give great feast to do her homage, for the werewolf was dead, and she it was that had slain him.
But Yseult cried out: "Go, search for Harold—go, bring him to me. Nor eat, nor sleep till he be found."
"Good my lady," quoth Alfred, "how can that be, since he hath betaken himself to Normandy?"
"I care not where he be," she cried. "My heart stands still until I look into his eyes again."
"Surely he hath not gone to Normandy," outspake Hubert. "This very eventide I saw him enter his abode."
They hastened thither—a vast company. His chamber door was barred.
"Harold, Harold, come forth!" they cried, as they beat upon the door, but no answer came to their calls and knockings. Afeared, they battered down the door, and when it fell they saw that Harold lay upon his bed.
"He sleeps," said one. "See, he holds a portrait in his hand—and it is her portrait. How fair he is and how tranquilly he sleeps."
But no, Harold was not asleep. His face was calm and beautiful, as if he dreamed of his beloved, but his raiment was red with the blood that streamed from a wound in his breast—a gaping, ghastly spear wound just above his heart.
From "Culture's Garland"
A MARVELLOUS INVENTION
It is narrated, that, once upon a time, there lived a youth who required so much money for the gratification of his dissolute desires, that he was compelled to sell his library in order to secure funds. Thereupon, he despatched a letter to his venerable father, saying, "Rejoice with me, O father! for already am I beginning to live upon the profits of my books."
Professor Andrew J. Thorpe has invented an ingenious machine which will be likely to redound to the physical comfort and the intellectual benefit of our fellow-citizens. We are disposed to treat of this invention at length, for two reasons: first, because it is a Chicago invention; and, second, because it seems particularly calculated to answer an important demand that has existed in Chicago for a long time. Professor Thorpe's machine is nothing less than a combination parlor, library, and folding bedstead, adapted to the drawing-room, the study, the dining-room, and the sleeping apartment—a producer capable of giving to the world thousands upon thousands of tomes annually, and these, too, in a shape most attractive to our public.
Professor Thorpe himself is of New-England birth and education; and, until became West, he was called "Uncle Andy Thorpe." For many years he lived in New Britain, Connecticut; and there he pursued the vocation of a manufacturer of sofas, settees, settles, and bed-lounges. He came to Chicago three years ago; and not long thereafter, he discovered that the most imperative demand of this community was for a bed which combined, "at one and the same time" (as he says, for he is no rhetorician), the advantages of a bed and the advantages of a library. In a word, Chicago was a literary centre; and it required, even in the matter of its sleeping apparata, machines which, when not in use for bed-purposes, could be utilized to the nobler ends of literary display.
In this emergency the fertile Yankee wit of the immigrant came to his assistance; and about a year ago he put upon the market the ingenious and valuable combination which has commanded the admiration and patronage of our best literary circles, and which at this moment we are pleased to discourse of.
It has been our good fortune to inspect the superb line of folding library-bedsteads which Professor Thorpe offers to the public at startlingly low figures, and we are surprised at the ingenuity and the learning apparent in these contrivances. The Essay bedstead is a particularly handsome piece of furniture, being made of polished mahogany, elaborately carved, and intricately embellished throughout. When closed, this bedstead presents the verisimilitude of a large book-case filled with the essays of Emerson, Carlyle, Bacon, Montaigne, Hume, Macaulay, Addison, Steele, Johnson, Budgell, Hughes, and others. These volumes are made in one piece, of the best seasoned oak, and are hollow within throughout; so that each shelf constitutes in reality a chest or drawer which may be utilized for divers domestic purposes. In these drawers a husband may keep his shirts or neckties; or in them a wife may stow away her furs or flannel underwear in summer, and her white piques and muslins in winter.
These drawers (each of which extends to the height of twelve inches) are faced in superb tree-calf, and afford a perfect representation of rows of books, the title and number of each volume being printed in massive gold characters. The weight of the six drawers in this Essay bedstead does not exceed twelve pounds; but the machine is so stoutly built as to admit of the drawers containing a weight equivalent to six hundred pounds without interfering with the ease and nicety of the machine's operation. Upon touching a gold-mounted knob, the book-case divides, the front part of it descends; and, presto! you have as beautiful a couch as ever Sancho could have envied.
This Essay bedstead is sold for four hundred and fifty dollars. Another design, with the case and bed in black walnut, the books in papier mache, and none but English essayists in the Collection, can be had for a hundred dollars.
A British Poets' folding-bed can be had for three hundred dollars. This is an imitation of the blue-and-gold edition published in Boston some years ago. Busts of Shakespeare and of Wordsworth appear at the front upper corners of the book-case, and these serve as pedestals to the machine when it is unfolded into a bedstead. This style, we are told by Professor Thorpe, has been officially indorsed by the poetry committee of the Chicago Literary Club. A second design, in royal octavo white pine, and omitting the works of Chaucer, Spenser, Ben Jonson, and Herrick, is quoted at a hundred and fifty dollars.
The Historical folding-bed contains complete sets of Hume, Gibbon, Guizot, Prescott, Macaulay, Bancroft, Lingard, Buckle, etc., together with Haines's "History of Lake-County Indians" and Peck's "Gazetteer of Illinois," bound in half calf, and having a storage space of three feet by fourteen inches to each row, there being six rows of these books. You can get this folding-bed for two hundred dollars, or there is a second set in cloth that can be had for a hundred dollars.
The Dramatists' folding-bed (No. 1) costs three hundred dollars, bound in tree-calf hard maple, the case being in polished cherry, elaborately carved. The works included in this library are Shakespeare's, Schiller's, Moliere's, Goethe's, Jonson's, Bartley Campbell's, and many others. Style No. 2 of this folding-bed has not yet been issued, owing to some difficulty which Professor Thorpe has had with eastern publishers; but when the matter of copyright has been adjusted, the works of Plautus, Euripides, Thucydides, and other classic dramatists will be brought out for the delectation of appreciative Chicagoans.
The Novelists' bed can be had in numerous styles. One contains the novels of Mackenzie, Fielding, Smollett, Walpole, Dickens, Thackeray, and Scott, and is bound in tree-calf: another, better adapted to the serious-minded (especially to young women), is made up of the novels of Maria Edgeworth, Miss Jane Porter, Miss Burney, and the Rev. E. P. Roe. This style can be had for fifty dollars. But the Novelists' folding-bed is manufactured in a dozen different styles, and one should consult the catalogue before ordering.
THE STORY OF XANTHIPPE
TO THE EDITOR: I am in a great dilemma, and I come to you for counsel. I love and wish to marry a young carpenter who has been waiting on me for two years. My father wants me to marry a literary man fifteen years older than myself,—a very smart man I will admit, but I fancy he is too smart for me. I much prefer the young carpenter, yet father says a marriage with the literary man would give me the social position he fancies I would enjoy. Now, what am I to do? What would you do, if you were I?
Yours in trouble, PRISCILLA.
Listen, gentle maiden, and ye others of her sex, to the story of Xanthippe, the Athenian woman.
Very, very many years ago there dwelt in Athens a fruit-dealer of the name of Kimon, who was possessed of two daughters,—the one named Helen and the other Xanthippe. At the age of twenty, Helen was wed to Aristagoras the tinker, and went with him to abide in his humble dwelling in the suburbs of Athens, about one parasang's distance from the Acropolis.
Xanthippe, the younger sister, gave promise of singular beauty; and at an early age she developed a wit that was the marvel and the joy of her father's household, and of the society that was to be met with there. Prosperous in a worldly way, Kimon was enabled to give this favorite daughter the best educational advantages; and he was justly proud when at the age of nineteen Xanthippe was graduated from the Minerva Female College with all the highest honors of her class. There was but one thing that cast a shadow upon the old gentleman's happiness, and that was his pain at observing that among all Xanthippe's associates there was one upon whom she bestowed her sweetest smiles; namely, Gatippus, the son of Heliopharnes the plasterer.
"My daughter," said Kimon, "you are now of an age when it becomes a maiden to contemplate marriage as a serious and solemn probability: therefore I beseech you to practise the severest discrimination in the choice of your male associates, and I enjoin upon you to have naught to say or to do with any youth that might not be considered an eligible husband; for, by the dog! it is my wish to see you wed to one of good station."
Kimon thereupon proceeded to tell his daughter that his dearest ambition had been a desire to unite her in marriage with a literary man. He saw that the tendency of the times was in the direction of literature; schools of philosophy were springing up on every side, logic and poetry were prated in every household. Why should not the beautiful and accomplished daughter of Kimon the fruiterer become one of that group of geniuses who were contributing at that particular time to the glory of Athens as the literary centre of the world? The truth was that, having prospered in his trade, Kimon pined for social recognition; it grieved him that one of his daughters had wed a tinker, and he had registered a vow with Pallas that his other daughter should be given into the arms of a worthier man.
Xanthippe was a dutiful daughter; she had been taught to obey her parents; and although her heart inclined to Gatippus, the son of Heliopharnes the plasterer, she smothered all rebellious emotions, and said she would try to do her father's will. Accordingly, therefore, Kimon introduced into his home one evening a certain young Athenian philosopher,—a typical literary Bohemian of that time,—one Socrates, a creature of wondrous wisdom and ready wit.
The appearance of this suitor, presumptive if not apparent, did not particularly please Xanthippe. Socrates was an ill-favored young man. He was tall, raw-boned, and gangling. When he walked, he slouched; and when he sat down, he sprawled like a crab upon its back. His coarse hair rebelled upon his head and chin; and he had a broad, flat nose, that had been broken in two places by the kick of an Assyrian mule. Withal, Socrates talked delightfully; and it is not hard to imagine that Xanthippe's pretty face, plump figure, and vivacious manners served as an inspiration to the young philosopher's wit. So it was not long ere Xanthippe found herself entertaining a profound respect for Socrates.
At all events, Xanthippe, the Athenian beauty, was wed to Socrates the philosopher. Putting all thought of Gatippus, the son of Heliopharnes the plasterer, out of her mind, Xanthippe went to the temple of Aphrodite, and was wed to Socrates. Historians differ as to the details of the affair; but it seems generally agreed that Socrates was late at the ceremony, having been delayed on his way to the temple by one Diogenes, who asked to converse with him on the immortality of the soul. Socrates stopped to talk, and would perhaps have been stopping there still had not Kimon hunted him up, and fetched him to the wedding.
A great wedding it was. A complete report of it was written by one of Socrates' friends, another literary man, named Xenophon. The literary guild, including philosophers by the score, were there in full feather, and Xenophon put himself to the trouble of giving a complete list of these distinguished persons; and to the report, as it was penned for the "Athens Weekly Papyrus," he appended a fine puff of Socrates, which has led posterity to surmise that Socrates conferred a great compliment on Xanthippe in marrying her. Yet, what else could we expect of this man Xenophon? The only other thing he ever did was to conduct a retreat from a Persian battle-field.
And now began the trials of Xanthippe, the wife of the literary man. Ay, it was not long ere the young wife discovered that, of all husbands in the world, the literary husband was the hardest to get along with. Always late at his meals, always absorbed in his work, always indifferent to the comforts of home—what a trial this man Socrates must have been! Why, half the time, poor Xanthippe did n't know where the next month's rent was coming from; and as for the grocer's and butcher's bills—well, between this creditor and that creditor the tormented little wife's life fast became a burden to her. Had it not been for her father's convenient fruit-stall, Xanthippe must have starved; and, at best, fruit as a regular diet is hardly preferable to starvation. And while she scrimped and saved, and made her own gowns, and patched up the children's kilts as best she might, Socrates stood around the streets talking about the immortality of the soul and the vanity of human life!
Many times Xanthippe pined for the amusements and seductive gayeties of social life, but she got none. The only society she knew was the prosy men-folk whom Socrates used to fetch home with him occasionally. Xanthippe grew to hate them, and we don't blame her. Just imagine that dirty old Diogenes lolling around on the furniture, and expressing his preference for a tub; picking his teeth with his jack-knife, and smoking his wretched cob-pipe in the parlor!
"Socrates, dear," Xanthippe would say at times, "please take me to the theatre to-night; I do so want to see that new tragedy by Euclydides."
But Socrates would swear by Hercules, or by the dog, or by some other classic object, that he had an engagement with the rhetoricians, or with the sophists, or with Alcibiades, or with Crito, or with some of the rest of the boys—he called them philosophers, but we know what he meant by that.
So it was toil and disappointment, disappointment and toil, from one month's end to another's; and so the years went by.
Sometimes Xanthippe rebelled; but, with all her wit, how could she reason with Socrates, the most gifted and the wisest of all philosophers? He had a provoking way of practising upon her the exasperating methods of Socratic debate,—a system he had invented, and for which he still is revered. Never excited or angry himself, he would ply her with questions until she found herself entangled in a network of contradictions; and then she would be driven, willy-nilly, to that last argument of woman—"because." Then Socrates—the brute!—would laugh at her, and would go out and sit on the front door-steps, and look henpecked. This is positively the meanest thing a man can do!
"Look at that poor man," said the wife of Edippus the cobbler. "I do believe his wife is cruel to him: see how sad and lonesome he is."
"Don't play with those Socrates children," said another matron. "Their mother must be a dreadful shiftless creature to let her young ones run the streets in such patched-up clothes."
So up and down the street the neighbors gossiped—oh! it was very humiliating to Xanthippe.
Meanwhile Helen lived in peace with Aristagoras the tinker. Their little home was cosey and comfortable. Xanthippe used to go to see them sometimes, but the sight of their unpretentious happiness made her even more miserable. Meanwhile, too, Xanthippe's old beau, Gatippus, had married; and from Thessaly came reports of the beautiful vineyard and the many wine-presses he had acquired. So Xanthippe's life became somewhat more than a struggle; it became a martyrdom. And the wrinkles came into Xanthippe's face, and Xanthippe's hair grew gray, and Xanthippe's heart was filled with the bitterness of disappointment. And the years, full of grind and of poverty and of neglect, crept wearily on.
Time is the grim old collector who goes dunning for the abused wife, and Time finally forced a settlement with Socrates.
Having loafed around Athens for many years to the neglect of his family, and having obtruded his views touching the immortality of the soul upon certain folk who believed that the first duty of a man was to keep his family from starving to death, Socrates was apprehended on a bench-warrant, thrown into jail, tried by a jury, and sentenced to die.
It was in this emergency that the great, the divine nobility of the wife asserted itself. She had been neglected by this man, she had gone in rags for him, she had sacrificed her beauty and her hopes and her pride, she had endured the pity of her neighbors, she had heard her children cry with hunger—ay, all for him; yet, when a righteous fate o'ertook him, she forgot all the misery of his doing, and she went to him to be his comforter.
Well, she could not have done otherwise, for she was a woman.
Where was his philosophy now? where his wisdom, his logic, his wit? What had become of his disputatious and learned associates that not one of them stood up to plead for the life of Socrates now? Why, the first breath of adversity had blown them away as though they were but mist; and, with these false friends scattered like the coward chaff they were, grim old Socrates turned to Xanthippe for consolation.
She burdened his ears with no reproaches, she spoke not of herself. Her thoughts were of him only, and it was to his chilled spirit that she alone ministered. Not even the horrors of the hemlock draught could drive her from his side, or unloose her arms from about his neck; and when at last the philosopher lay stiff in death, it was Xanthippe that bore away his corpse, and, with spices moistened by her tears, made it ready for the grave.
BAKED BEANS AND CULTURE
The members of the Boston Commercial Club are charming gentlemen. They are now the guests of the Chicago Commercial Club, and are being shown every attention that our market affords. They are a fine-looking lot, well-dressed and well-mannered, with just enough whiskers to be impressive without being imposing.
"This is a darned likely village," said Seth Adams last evening. "Everybody is rushin' 'round an' doin' business as if his life depended on it. Should think they 'd git all tuckered out 'fore night, but I 'll be darned if there ain't just as many folks on the street after nightfall as afore. We 're stoppin' at the Palmer tavern; an' my chamber is up so all-fired high that I can count all your meetin'-house steeples from the winder."
Last night five or six of these Boston merchants sat around the office of the hotel, and discussed matters and things. Pretty soon they got to talking about beans; this was the subject which they dwelt on with evident pleasure.
"Waal, sir," said Ephraim Taft, a wholesale dealer in maple-sugar and flavored lozenges, "you kin talk 'bout your new-fashioned dishes an' high-falutin vittles; but, when you come right down to it, there ain't no better eatin' than a dish o' baked pork 'n' beans."
"That's so, b'gosh!" chorused the others.
"The truth o' the matter is," continued Mr. Taft, "that beans is good for everybody,—'t don't make no difference whether he 's well or sick. Why, I 've known a thousand folks—waal, mebbe not quite a thousand; but,—waal, now, jest to show, take the case of Bill Holbrook; you remember Bill, don't ye?"
"Bill Holbrook?" said Mr. Ezra Eastman; "why, of course I do! Used to live down to Brimfield, next to the Moses Howard farm."
"That 's the man," resumed Mr. Taft. "Waal, Bill fell sick,—kinder moped round, tired like, for a week or two, an' then tuck to his bed. His folks sent for Dock Smith,—ol' Dock Smith that used to carry round a pair o' leather saddlebags,—gosh, they don't have no sech doctors nowadays! Waal, the dock, he come; an' he looked at Bill's tongue, an' felt uv his pulse, an' said that Bill had typhus fever. Ol' Dock Smith was a very careful, conserv'tive man, an' he never said nothin' unless he knowed he was right.
"Bill began to git wuss, an' he kep' a-gittin' wuss every day. One mornin' ol' Dock Smith sez, 'Look a-here, Bill, I guess you 're a goner; as I figger it, you can't hol' out till nightfall.'
"Bill's mother insisted on a con-sul-tation bein' held; so ol' Dock Smith sent over for young Dock Brainerd. I calc'late that, next to ol' Dock Smith, young Dock Brainerd was the smartest doctor that ever lived.
"Waal, pretty soon along come Dock Brainerd; an' he an' Dock Smith went all over Bill, an' looked at his tongue, an felt uv his pulse, an' told him it was a gone case, an' that he had got to die. Then they went off into the spare chamber to hold their con-sul-tation.
"Waal, Bill he lay there in the front room a-pantin' an' a-gaspin' an' a-wond'rin' whether it wuz true. As he wuz thinkin', up comes the girl to get a clean tablecloth out of the clothes-press, an' she left the door ajar as she come in. Bill he gave a sniff, an' his eyes grew more natural-like; he gathered together all the strength he had, an' he raised himself up on one elbow, an' sniffed again."
"'Sary,' says he, 'wot's that a-cookin'?'
"'Beans,' says she, 'beans for dinner.'
"'Sary,' says the dyin' man, 'I must hev a plate uv them beans!'
"'Sakes alive, Mr. Holbrook!' says she; 'if you wuz to eat any o' them beans, it 'd kill ye!'
"'If I've got to die,'says he, 'I'm goin' to die happy; fetch me a plate uv them beans.'
"Waal, Sary, she pikes off to the doctors.
"'Look a-here,' says she. 'Mr. Holbrook smelt the beans cookin', an' he says he 's got to have a plate uv 'em. Now, what shall I do about it?'
"'Waal, doctor,' says Dock Smith, 'what do you think 'bout it?
"'He 's got to die anyhow,' says Dock Brainerd; 'an' I don't suppose the beans 'll make any diff'rence.'
"'That's the way I figger it,' says Dock Smith; 'in all my practice I never knew of beans hurtin' anybody.'
"So Sary went down to the kitchen, an' brought up a plateful of hot baked beans. Dock Smith raised Bill up in bed, an' Dock Brainerd put a piller under the small of Bill's back. Then Sary sat down by the bed, an' fed them beans into Bill until Bill could n't hold any more.
"'How air you feelin' now?' asked Dock Smith.
"Bill did n't say nuthin'; he jest smiled sort uv peaceful-like, an' closed his eyes.
"'The end hes come,' said Dock Brainerd sof'ly. 'Bill is dyin'.'
"Then Bill murmured kind o' far-away-like (as if he was dreamin'), 'I ain't dyin'; I 'm dead an' in heaven.'
"Next mornin' Bill got out uv bed, an' done a big day's work on the farm, an' he hain't hed a sick spell since. Them beans cured him! I tell you, sir, that beans is," etc.
MLLE. PRUD'HOMME'S BOOK
WASHINGTON, D. C., Mai 3.
M. LE REDACTEUR: D'apres votre article dans la "New-York Tribune," copie du "Chicago News," je me figure que les habitants de Chicago ayant grand besoin d'un systeme de prononciation francaise, je prends la liberte de vous envoyer par la malle-poste le No. 2 d'un ouvrage que je viens de publier; si vous desirez les autres numeros, je me ferai un plaisir de vous les envoyer aussi. Les emballeurs de porc ayant peu de temps a consacrer a l'etude, vu l' omnipotent dollar, seront je crois enchantes et reconnaissants d'un systeme par lequel ils pourront apprendre et comprendre la langue de la fine Sara, au bout de trente lecons, si surtout Monsieur le redacteur veut bien au bout de sa plume spirituelle leur en indiquer le chemin. Sur ce l'auteur du systeme a bien l'honneur de le saluer.
This is a copy of a pleasant letter we have received from a distinguished Washington lady; we do not print the accentuations, because the Chicago patwor admits of none. A literal rendering of the letter into English is as follows: "From after your article in 'The New York Tribune,' copied from 'The Chicago News,' I to myself have figured that the inhabitants of Chicago having great want of a system of pronunciation French, I take the liberty to you to send by the mail-post the number two of a work which I come from to publish; if you desire the other numbers, I to myself will make the pleasure of to you them to send also. The packers of porkers, having little of time to consecrate to the study (owing to the omnipotent dollar), will be, I believe, enchanted and grateful of a system by the which they may learn and understand the language of the clever Sara, at the end of thirty lessons, especially if Mister the editor will at the end of his pen witty to them thereof indicate the road. Whereupon the author of the system has much the honor of him to salute," etc.
We have not given Mdlle. Prud'homme's oovray that conscientious study and that careful research which we shall devote to it just as soon as the tremendous spring rush in local literature eases up a little. The recent opening up of the Straits of Mackinaw, and the prospect of a new railroad-line into the very heart of the dialectic region of Indiana, have given Chicago literature so vast an impetus, that we find our review-table groaning under the weight of oovrays that demand our scholarly consideration. Mdlle. Prud'homme must understand (for she appears to be exceedingly amiable) that the oovrays of local litterateurs have to be reviewed before the oovrays of outside litterateurs can be taken up. This may seem hard, but it cannot be helped.
Still, we will say that we appreciate, and are grateful for, the uncommon interest which Mdlle. Prud'homme seems to take in the advancement of the French language and French literature in the midst of us. We have heard many of our leading savants and scholiasts frequently express poignant regret that they were unable to read "La Fem de Fu," "Mamzel Zheero Mar Fem," and other noble old French classics whose fame has reached this modern Athens. With the romances of Alexandre Dumas, our public is thoroughly acquainted, having seen the talented James O'Neill in Monty Cristo, and the beautiful and accomplished Grace Hawthorne ("Only an American Girl") in Cameel; yet our more enterprising citizens are keenly aware that there are other French works worthy of perusal—intensely interesting works, too, if the steel engravings therein are to be accepted as a criterion.
We doubt not that Mdlle. Prud'homme is desirous of doing Chicago a distinct good; and why, we ask in all seriousness, should this gifted and amiable French scholar not entertain for Chicago somewhat more than a friendly spirit, merely? The first settlers of Chicago were Frenchmen; and, likely as not, some of Mdlle. Prud'homme's ancestors were of the number of those Spartan voyageurs who first sailed down Chicago River, pitched their tents on the spot where Kirk's soap-factory now stands, and captured and brought into the refining influences of civilization Long John Wentworth, who at that remote period was frisking about on our prairies, a crude, callow boy, only ten years old, and only seven feet tall.
Chicago was founded by Jeanne Pierre Renaud, one of the original two orphans immortalized by Claxton and Halevy's play in thirteen acts of the same name. At that distant date it was anything but promising; and its prominent industries were Indians, musk-rats, and scenery. The only crops harvested were those of malaria, twice per annum,—in October and in April,—but the yield was sufficient to keep the community well provided all the year round.
THE DEMAND FOR CONDENSED MUSIC
There is a general belief that the mistake made by the managers of the symphony concert in Central Music Hall night before last was in not opening the concert with Beethoven's "Eroica," instead of making it the last number on the programme. We incline to the opinion, however, that, in putting the symphony last, the managers complied with the very first requirement of dramatic composition. This requirement is to the effect that you must not kill all your people off in the first act.
There doubtless are a small number of worthy people who enjoy these old symphonies that are being dragged out of oblivion by glass-eyed Teutons from Boston. It may argue a very low grade of intellectuality, spirituality, or whatsoever you may be pleased to call it; but we must confess in all candor, that, much as we revere Mr. Beethoven's memory, we do not fancy having fifty-five-minute chunks of his musty opi hurled at us.
It is a marvel to us, that, in these progressive times, such leaders as Thomas and Gericke do not respond to the popular demand by providing the public with symphonies in the nutshell. We have condensations in every line except music. Even literature is being boiled down; because in these busy times, people demand a literature which they can read while they run. We have condensed milk, condensed meats, condensed wines,—condensed everything but music. What a joyous shout would go up if Thomas or Gericke would only prepare and announce
"SYMPHONIES FOR BUSY PEOPLE! THE OLD MASTERS EPITOMIZED!"
What Chicago demands, and what every enterprising and intelligent community needs, is the highest class of music on the "all-the-news-for-two-cents" principle. Blanket-sheet concertizing must go!
Now, here was this concert, night before last. Two hours and a half to five numbers! Suppose we figure a little on this subject:
Total number of minutes . . . . . . . . . . 150 Total number of pieces . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Minutes to each piece . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Total number of minutes . . . . . . . . . . 150 Hog-slaughtering capacity per minute . . . . 3 Total killing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
Figures will not lie, because (as was the reason with George) they cannot. And figures prove to us, that, in the time consumed by five symphonic numbers, the startling number of four hundred and fifty hogs could be (and are daily) slaughtered, scraped, disembowelled, hewn, and packed. While forty or fifty able-bodied musicians are discoursing Beethoven's rambling "Eroica," it were possible to dispatch and to dress a carload of as fine beeves as ever hailed from Texas; and the performance of the "Sakuntala" overture might be regarded as a virtual loss of as much time as would be required for the beheading, skinning, and dismembering of two hundred head of sheep.
These comparisons have probably never occurred to Mr. Thomas or to Mr. Gericke; but they are urged by the patrons of music in Chicago, and therefore they must needs be recognized by the caterers to popular tastes. Chicago society has been founded upon industry, and the culture which she now boasts is conserved only by the strictest attention to business. Nothing is more criminal hereabouts than a waste of time; and it is no wonder, then, that the creme de la creme of our elite lift up their hands, and groan, when they discover that it takes as long to play a classic symphony as it does to slaughter a carload of Missouri razor-backs, or an invoice of prairie-racers from Kansas.
LEARNING AND LITERATURE
R. J. N. Whiting writes us from New Litchfield, Ill., asking if we can tell him the name of the author of the poem, of which the following is the first stanza:—
The weary heart is a pilgrim Seeking the Mecca of rest; Its burden is one of sorrows; And it wails a song as it drags along,— 'Tis the song of a hopeless quest.
Mr. Whiting says that this poem has been attributed to James Channahon, a gentleman who flourished about the year 1652; "but," he adds, "its authorship has not as yet been established with any degree of certainty." Mr. Whiting has noticed that the "Daily News" is a "criterion on matters of literary interest," and he craves the boon of our valuable opinion, touching this important question.
Now, although it is true that we occasionally deal with obsolete topics, it is far from our desire to make a practice of so doing. It is natural that, once in a while, when an editor gets hold of a catalogue of unusual merit, and happens to have a line of encyclopaedias at hand—it is natural, we say, that, under such circumstances, an editor should take pleasure in letting his subscribers know how learnedly he can write about books and things. But an editor must be careful not to write above the comprehension of the majority of his readers. If we made a practice of writing as learnedly as we are capable of writing, the proprietors of this paper would soon have to raise its price from two cents to five cents per copy.
We say this in no spirit of egotism; it is simply our good fortune that we happen to possess extraordinary advantages. We have the best assortment of cyclopaedias in seven states, and the Public Library is only two blocks off. It is no wonder, therefore, that our erudition and our research are of the highest order.
Still it is not practicable that we, being now on earth, should devote much time to delving into, and wallowing among, the authors of past centuries. Ignatius Donnelly has been trying for the last three years to inveigle us into a discussion as to the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. We have declined to participate in any public brawl with the Minnesota gentleman, for the simple reason that no good could accrue therefrom to anybody. If there were an international copyright law, there would be some use in trying to find out who wrote these plays, in order that the author might claim royalties on his works; or, if not the author, his heirs or assigns forever.
Mr. Whiting will understand that we cannot take much interest in an anonymous hymn of the seventeenth century. It is enough for us to know that the hymn in question could not have been written by a Chicago man, for the very good reason that Chicago did not exist in the seventeenth century; that is to say, it existed merely as the haunt of the musquash and the mud-turtle, and not as the living, breathing metropolis of to-day. We have our hands full examining into, and criticising, the live topics of current times: if we were to spend our days and nights in hunting up the estray poets and authors of the seventeenth century, how long would it be before the sceptre of trade and culture would slip irrecoverably from Chicago's grasp?
Chicago has very little respect for the seventeenth century, because there is nothing in it. The seventeenth century has done nothing for Chicago: she does not even know that this is the greatest hog-market in the world, and she has never had any commercial dealings with us in any line. If Chicago does n't cut a wider swath in history than the seventeenth century has, we shall be very much ashamed of her.
"DIE WALKUeRE" UND DER BOOMERANGELUNGEN
There is a strange fascination about Herr Wagner's musical drama of "Die Walkuere." A great many people have supposed that Herr Sullivan's opera of "Das Pinafore" was the most remarkable musical work extant, but we believe the mistake will become apparent as Herr Wagner's masterpiece grows in years.
We will not pretend to say that "Die Walkuere" will ever be whistled about the streets, as the airs from "Das Pinafore" are whistled; the fact is, that no rendition of "Die Walkuere" can be satisfactory without the accompaniment of weird flashes of fire; and it is hardly to be expected that our youth will carry packages of lycopodium, and boxes of matches, around with them, for the sole purpose of giving the desired effect to any snatches from Herr Wagner's work they may take the notion to whistle. But in the sanctity of our homes, around our firesides, in the front-parlor, where the melodeon or the newly hired piano has been set up, it is there that Herr Wagner's name will be revered, and his masterpiece repeated o'er and o'er. The libretto is not above criticism; it strikes us that there is not enough of it. The probability is that Herr Wagner ran out of libretto before he had got through with his music, and therefore had to spread out comparatively few words over a vast expanse of music. The result is that a great part of the time the performers are on the stage is devoted to thought, the orchestra doing a tremendous amount of fiddling, etc., while the actors wander drearily around, with their arms folded across their pulmonary departments, and their minds evidently absorbed in profound cogitation.
As for the music, the only criticism we have to pass upon it is that it changes its subject too often; in this particular it resembles the dictionary,—in fact, we believe "Die Walkuere" can be termed the Webster's Unabridged of musical language. Herr Wagner has his own way of doing business. He goes at it on the principle of the twelfth man, who holds out against the eleven other jurors, and finally brings them around to his way of thinking.
For instance, in the midst of a pleasing strain in B natural, Herr Wagner has a habit of suddenly bringing out a small reed-instrument with a big voice (we do not know its name), piped in the key of F sharp. This small reed-instrument will not let go; it holds on to that F sharp like a mortgage. For a brief period the rest of the instruments—fiddles, bassoons, viols, flutes, flageolets, cymbals, drums, etc.—struggle along with an attempt to either drown the intruder, or bring it around to their way of doing business; but it is vain. Every last one of them has to slide around from B natural to F sharp, and they do it as best they can.
Having accomplished its incendiary and revolutionary purpose, the small reed-instrument subsides until it finds another chance to break out. It is a mugwump.
Die Walkueren, as given us by the Damrosch Company, are nine stout, comely young women, attired in costumes somewhat similar to the armor worn by Herr Lawrence Barrett's Roman army in Herr Shakespeare's play of "Der Julius Caesar." Readers of Norse mythology may suppose that these weird sisters were dim, vague, shadowy creatures; but they are mistaken. Brunhilde has the embonpoint of a dowager, and her arms are as robust and red as a dairy-maid's.
As for Gerhilde, Waltraute, Helmwige, and the rest, they are well-fed, buxom ladies, evidently of middle age, whose very appearance exhales an aroma of kraut and garlic, which, by the way, we see by the libretto, was termed "mead" in the days of Wotan and his court. These Die Walkueren are said to ride fiery, untamed steeds; but only one steed is exhibited in the drama as it is given at the Columbia. This steed, we regret to say, is a restless, noisy brute, and invariably has to be led off the stage by one of das supes, before his act concludes.
However, no one should doubt his heroic nature, inasmuch as the cabalistic letters "U. S." are distinctly branded upon his left flank.
The Sieglinde of the piece is Fraeulein Slach, a young lady no bigger than a minute, but with wonderful powers of endurance. To say nothing of Hunding's persecutions, she has to shield Siegmund, elope with him, climb beetling precipices, ride Brunhilde's fiery, untamed steed, confront die Walkueren, and look on her slain lover, and, in addition to these prodigies, participate in a Graeco-Roman wrestling-match with an orchestra of sixty-five pieces for three hours and a half.
Yet she is equal to the emergency. Up to the very last she is as fresh as a daisy; and, after recovering from her swooning-spell in the second act, she braces her shoulders back, and dances all around the top notes of the chromatic scale with the greatest of ease. She is a wonderful little woman, is Fraeulein Slach! What a wee bit of humanity, yet what a volume of voice she has, and what endurance!
Down among the orchestra people sat a pale, sad man. His apparent lonesomeness interested us deeply. We could not imagine what he was there for. Every once in a while he would get up and leave the orchestra, and dive down under the stage, and appear behind the scenes, where we could catch glimpses of him practising with a pair of thirty-pound dumb-bells, and testing a spirometer. Then he would come back and re-occupy his old seat among the orchestra, and look paler and sadder than ever. What strange, mysterious being was he? Why did he inflict his pale, sad presence upon that galaxy of tuneful revellers?
What a cunning master the great Herr Wagner is! For what emergency does he not provide? It was half-past eleven when the third act began. Die Walkueren had assembled in the dismal dell,—all but the den Walkuere, Brunhilde. Wotan is approaching on appalling storm-clouds, composed of painted mosquito-bars and blue lights. The sheet-iron thunder crashes; and the orchestra is engaged in another mortal combat with that revolutionary mugwump, the small reed-instrument, that persists in reforming the tune of the opera.
Then the pale, sad man produces a large brass horn, big enough at the business end for a cow to walk into. It is a fearful, ponderous instrument, manufactured especially for "Die Walkuere" at the Krupp Gun Factory in Essen. It has an appropriate name: the master himself christened it the boomerangelungen. It is the monarch, the Jumbo of all musical instruments. The cuspidor end of it protrudes into one of the proscenium-boxes. The fair occupants of the box are frightened, and timidly shrink back.
Wotan is at hand. He comes upon seven hundred yards of white tarletan, and fourteen pounds of hissing, blazing lycopodium! The pale, sad man at the other end of the boomerangelungen explains his wherefore. He applies his lips to the brazen monster. His eyeballs hang out upon his cheeks, the veins rise on his neck, and the lumpy cords and muscles stand out on his arms and hands. Boohoop, boohoop!—yes, six times boohoop does that brazen megatherium blare out, vivid and distinct, above all the other sixty instruments in the orchestra. Then the white tarletan clouds vanish, the blazing lycopodium goes out, and Wotan stands before the excited spectators.
Then the pale, sad man lays down the boomerangelungen, and goes home. That is all he has to do; the six sonorous boohoops, announcing the presence of Wotan, is all that is demanded of the boomerangelungen. But it is enough: it is marvellous, appalling, prodigious.
Whose genius but Herr Wagner's could have found employment for the boomerangelungen? We hear talk of the sword motive, the love motive, the Walhalla motive, and this motive, and that; but they all shrink into nothingness when compared with the motive of the boomerangelungen.
THE WORKS OF SAPPHO
It would be hard to say whether Chicago society is more deeply interested in the circus which is exhibiting on the lake-front this week, than in the compilation of Sappho's complete works just published in London, and but this week given to the trade in Chicago. As we understand it, Sappho and the circus had their beginning about the same time: if any thing, the origin of the circus antedated Sappho's birth some years, and has achieved the more wide-spread popularity.
In the volume now before us, we learn that Sappho lived in the seventh century before Christ, and that she was at the zenith of her fame at the time when Tarquinius Priscus was king of Rome, and Nebuchadnezzar was subsisting on a hay-diet. It appears that, despite her wisdom, this talented lady did not know who her father was; seventeen hundred years after her demise, one Suidas claimed to have discovered that there were seven of her father; but Herodotus gives the name of the gentleman most justly suspected as Scamandronymus. Be this as it may, Sappho married a rich man, and subsequently fell in love with a dude who cared nothing for her; whereupon the unfortunate woman, without waiting to compile her writings, and without even indicating whom she preferred for her literary executor, committed suicide by hurling herself from a high precipice into the sea. Sappho was an exceedingly handsome person, as we see by the engraving which serves as the frontispiece of the work before us. This engraving, as we understand, was made from a portrait painted from life by a contemporaneous old Grecian artist, one Alma Tadema.
Still, we could not help wondering, as we saw the magnificent pageant of Forepaugh's circus sweep down our majestic boulevards and superb thoroughfares yesterday; as we witnessed this imposing spectacle, we say, we could not help wondering how many people in all the vast crowds of spectators knew that there ever was such a poetess as Sappho, or how many, knowing that there was such a party, have ever read her works. It has been nearly a year since a circus came to town; and in that time public taste has been elevated to a degree by theatrical and operatic performers, such as Sara Bernhardt, Emma Abbott, Murray and Murphy, Adele Patti, George C. Miln, Helena Modjeska, Fanny Davenport, and Denman Thompson.
Of course, therefore, our public has come to be able to appreciate with a nicer discrimination and a finer zest the intellectual morceaux and the refined tidbits which Mr. Forepaugh's unparalleled aggregation offers. This was apparent in the vast numbers and in the unbridled enthusiasm of our best citizens gathered upon the housetops and at the street-corners along the line of the circus procession. So magnificent a display of silks, satins, and diamonds has seldom been seen: it truly seemed as if the fashion and wealth of our city were trying to vie with the splendors of the glittering circus pageant. In honor of the event, many of the stores, public buildings, and private dwellings displayed banners, mottoes, and congratulatory garlands. From the balcony of the palatial edifice occupied by one of our leading literary clubs was suspended a large banner of pink silk, upon which appeared the word "Welcome" in white; while beneath, upon a scroll, was an appropriate couplet from one of Robert Browning's poems.
When we asked one of the members of this club why the club made such a fuss over the circus, he looked very much astonished; and he answered, "Well, why not? Old Forepaugh is worth over a million dollars, and he always sends us complimentaries whenever he comes to town!"
We asked this same gentleman if he had read the new edition of Sappho's poems. We had a good deal of confidence in his literary judgment and taste, because he is our leading linseed-oil dealer; and no man in the West is possessed of more enterprise and sand than he.
"My daughter brought home a copy of the book Saturday," said he, "and I looked through it yesterday. Sappho may suit some cranks; but as for me, give me Ella Wheeler or Will Carleton. I love good poetry: I 've got the finest-bound copy of Shakespeare in Illinois, and my edition of Coleridge will knock the socks off any book in the country. My wife has painted all the Doray illustrations of the Ancient Marine, and I would n't swap that book for the costliest Mysonyay in all Paris!
"I can't see where the poetry comes in," he went on to say. "So far as I can make out, this man Sapolio—I mean Sappho—never did any sustained or consecutive work. His poems read to me a good deal like a diary. Some of them consist of one line only, and quite a number have only three words. Now, I will repeat five entire poems taken from this fool-book: I learned them on purpose to repeat at the club. Here is the first,—
"Me just now the golden-sandalled Dawn.
"That 's all there is to it. Here's the second:
"I yearn and seek.
"A third is complete in—
"Much whiter than an egg;
and the fourth is,—
"Stir not the shingle,
which, I take it, was one of Sapphire's juvenile poems addressed to his mother. The fifth poem is simply,—
"And thou thyself, Calliope,
which, by the way, reminds me that Forepaugh's calliope got smashed up in a railroad accident night before last,—a circumstance deeply to be regretted, since there is no instrument calculated to appeal more directly to one versed in mythological lore, or more likely to awaken a train of pleasing associations, than the steam-calliope."
A South-Side packer, who has the largest library in the city, told us that he had not seen Sappho's works yet, but that he intended to read them at an early date. "I 've got so sick of Howells and James," said he, "that I 'm darned glad to hear that some new fellow has come to the front."
Another prominent social light (a brewer) said that he had bought a "Sappho," and was having it bound in morocco, with turkey-red trimmings. "I do enjoy a handsome book," said he. "One of the most valuable volumes in my library I bought of a leading candy-manufacturer in this city. It is the original libretto and score of the 'Songs of Solomon,' bound in the tanned pelt of the fatted calf that was killed when the prodigal son came home."
"I have simply glanced through the Sappho book," said another distinguished representative of local culture; "and what surprised me, was the pains that has been taken in getting up the affair. Why, do you know, the editor has gone to the trouble of going through the book, and translating every darned poem into Greek! Of course, this strikes us business-men of Chicago as a queer bit of pedantry."
The scholarly and courtly editor of the "Weekly Lard Journal and Literary Companion," Professor A. J. Lyvely, criticised Sappho very freely as he stood at the corner of Clark and Madison Streets, waiting for the superb gold chariot drawn by twenty milk-white steeds, and containing fifty musicians, to come along. "Just because she lived in the dark ages," said he, "she is cracked up for a great poet; but she will never be as popular with the masses of Western readers as Ella Wheeler and Marion Harland are. All of her works that remain to us are a few fragments, and they are chestnuts; for they have been printed within the last ten years in the books of a great many poets I could name, and I have read them. We know very little of Sappho's life. If she had amounted to much, we would not be in such ignorance of her doings. The probability is that she was a society or fashion editor on one of the daily papers of her time,—a sort of Clara-Belle woman, whose naughtiness was mistaken for a species of intellectual brilliancy. Sappho was a gamey old girl, you know. Her life must have been a poem of passion, if there is any truth in the testimony of the authorities who wrote about her several centuries after her death. In fact, these verses of hers that are left indicate that she was addicted to late suppers, to loose morning-gowns, to perfumed stationery, and to hysterics. It is ten to one that she wore flaming bonnets and striking dresses; that she talked loud at the theatres and in public generally; and that she chewed gum, and smoked cigarettes, when she went to the races. If that woman had lived in Chicago, she would have been tabooed."
The amiable gentleman who reads manuscripts for Rand, McNally & Co. says that Sappho's manuscripts were submitted to him a year ago. "I looked them over, and satisfied myself that there was nothing in them; and I told the author so. He seemed inclined to dispute me, but I told him I reckoned I understood pretty well what would sell in our literary circles and on our railroad-trains."
But while there was a pretty general disposition to criticise Sappho, there was only one opinion as to the circus-parade; and that was complimentary. For the nonce, we may say, the cares and vexations of business, of literature, of art, and of science, were put aside; and our populace abandoned itself to a hearty enjoyment of the brilliant pageant which appealed to the higher instincts. And, as the cage containing the lions rolled by, the shouts of the enthusiastic spectators swelled above the guttural roars of the infuriate monarchs of the desert. Men waved their hats, and ladies fluttered their handkerchiefs. Altogether, the scene was so exciting as to be equalled only by the rapturous ovation which was tendered Mdlle. Hortense de Vere, queen of the air, when that sylph-like lady came out into the arena of Forepaugh's great circus-tent last evening, and poised herself upon one tiny toe on the back of an untamed and foaming Arabian barb that dashed round and round the sawdust ring. Talk about your Sapphos and your poetry! Would Chicago hesitate a moment in choosing between Sappho and Mdlle. Hortense de Vere, queen of the air? And what rhythm—be it Sapphic, or choriambic, or Ionic a minore—is to be compared with the symphonic poetry of a shapely female balanced upon one delicate toe on the bristling back of a fiery, untamed palfrey that whoops round and round to the music of the band, the plaudits of the public, and the still, small voice of the dyspeptic gent announcing a minstrel show "under this canvas after the performance, which is not yet half completed?"
If it makes us proud to go into our bookstores, and see thousands upon thousands of tomes waiting for customers; if our bosoms swell with delight to see the quiet and palatial homes of our cultured society overflowing with the most expensive wall-papers and the costliest articles of virtue; if we take an ineffable enjoyment in the thousand indications of a growing refinement in the midst of us,—vaster still must be the pride, the rapture, we feel when we behold our intellect and our culture paying the tribute of adoration to the circus. Viewing these enlivening scenes, why may we not cry in the words of Sappho, "Wealth without thee, Worth, is a shameless creature; but the mixture of both is the height of happiness"?