"Let us drop wolves and sheep, being men; my meaning is, that a good soldier never pillages-a comrade. Come, young man, too much suspicion becomes not your years. They who travel should learn to read faces; methinks you might see lealty in mine sith I have seen it in yourn. Is it yon fat purse at your girdle you fear for?" (Gerard turned pale.) "Look hither!" and he undid his belt, and poured out of it a double handful of gold pieces, then returned them to their hiding-place. "There is a hostage for you," said he; "carry you that, and let us be comrades," and handed him his belt, gold and all.
Gerard stared. "If I am over prudent, you have not enow." But he flushed and looked pleased at the other's trust in him.
"Bah! I can read faces; and so must you, or you'll never take your four bones safe to Rome."
"Soldier, you would find me a dull companion, for my heart is very heavy," said Gerard, yielding.
"I'll cheer you, mon gars."
"I think you would," said Gerard sweetly; "and sore need have I of a kindly voice in mine ear this day."
"Oh! no soul is sad alongside me. I lift up their poor little hearts with my consigne: 'Courage, tout le monde, le diable est mort.' Ha! ha!"
"So be it, then," said Gerard. "But take back your belt, for I could never trust by halves. We will go together as far as Rhine, and God go with us both!"
"Amen!" said Denys, and lifted his cap. "En avant!"
The pair trudged manfully on, and Denys enlivened the weary way. He chattered about battles and sieges, and things which were new to Gerard; and he was one of those who make little incidents wherever they go. He passed nobody without addressing them. "They don't understand it, but it wakes them up," said he. But whenever they fell in with a monk or priest. He pulled a long face, and sought the reverend father's blessing, and fearlessly poured out on him floods of German words in such order as not to produce a single German sentence—He doffed his cap to every woman, high or low, he caught sight of, and with eagle eye discerned her best feature, and complimented her on it in his native tongue, well adapted to such matters; and at each carrion crow or magpie, down came his crossbow, and he would go a furlong off the road to circumvent it; and indeed he did shoot one old crow with laudable neatness and despatch, and carried it to the nearest hen-roost, and there slipped in and set it upon a nest. "The good-wife will say, 'Alack, here is Beelzebub ahatching of my eggs.'"
"No, you forget he is dead," objected Gerard.
"So he is, so he is. But she doesn't know that, not having the luck to be acquainted with me, who carry the good news from city to city, uplifting men's hearts."
Such was Denys in time of peace.
Our travellers towards nightfall reached a village; it was a very small one, but contained a place of entertainment. They searched for it, and found a small house with barn and stables. In the former was the everlasting stove, and the clothes drying round it on lines, and a traveller or two sitting morose. Gerard asked for supper.
"Supper? We have no time to cook for travellers; we only provide lodging, good lodging for man and beast. You can have some beer."
"Madman, who, born in Holland, sought other lands!" snorted Gerard in Dutch. The landlady started.
"What gibberish is that?" asked she, and crossed herself with looks of superstitious alarm. "You can buy what you like in the village, and cook it in our oven; but, prithee, mutter no charms nor sorceries here, good man; don't ye now, it do make my flesh creep so."
They scoured the village for food, and ended by supping on roasted eggs and brown bread.
At a very early hour their chambermaid came for them. It was a rosy-cheeked old fellow with a lanthorn.
They followed him. He led them across a dirty farmyard, where they had much ado to pick their steps, and brought them into a cow-house. There, on each side of every cow, was laid a little clean straw, and a tied bundle of ditto for a pillow. The old man looked down on this his work with paternal pride. Not so Gerard. "What, do you set Christian men to lie among cattle?"
"Well, it is hard upon the poor beasts. They have scarce room to turn."
"Oh! what, it is not hard on us, then?"
"Where is the hardship? I have lain among them all my life. Look at me! I am fourscore, and never had a headache in all my born days—all along of lying among the kye. Bless your silly head, kine's breath is ten times sweeter to drink nor Christians'. You try it!" and he slammed the bedroom door.
"Denys, where are you?" whined Gerard.
"Here, on her other side."
"What are you doing?"
"I know not; but as near as I can guess, I think I must be going to sleep. What are you at?
"I am saying my prayers."
"Forget me not in them!"
"Is it likely? Denys, I shall soon have done: do not go to sleep, I want to talk.
"Despatch then! for I feel—augh like floating-in the sky on a warm cloud."
"Augh! eh! hallo! is it time to get up?"
"Alack, no. There, I hurried my orisons to talk; and look at you, going to sleep! We shall be starved before morning, having no coverlets."
"Well, you know what to do."
"Not I, in sooth."
"Cuddle the cow."
"Burrow in the straw, then. You must be very new to the world, to grumble at this. How would you bear to lie on the field of battle on a frosty night, as I did t'other day, stark naked, with nothing to keep me warm but the carcass of a fellow I had been and helped kill?"
"Horrible! horrible! Tell me all about it! Oh, but this is sweet."
"Well, we had a little battle in Brabant, and won a little victory, but it cost us dear; several arbalestriers turned their toes up, and I among them."
"Killed, Denys? come now!"
"Dead as mutton. Stuck full of pike-holes till the blood ran out of me, like the good wine of Macon from the trodden grapes. It is right bounteous in me to pour the tale in minstrel phrase, for—augh—I am sleepy. Augh—now where was I?"
"Left dead on the field of battle, bleeding like a pig; that is to say, like grapes, or something; go on, prithee go on, 'tis a sin to sleep in the midst of a good story."
"Granted. Well, some of those vagabonds, that strip the dead soldier on the field of glory, came and took every rag off me; they wrought me no further ill, because there was no need."
"No; you were dead."
"C'est convenu. This must have been at sundown; and with the night came a shrewd frost that barkened the blood on my wounds, and stopped all the rivulets that were running from my heart, and about midnight I awoke as from a trance.'
"And thought you were in heaven?" asked Gerard eagerly, being a youth inoculated with monkish tales.
"Too frost-bitten for that, mon gars; besides, I heard the wounded groaning on all sides, so I knew I was in the old place. I saw I could not live the night through without cover. I groped about shivering and shivering; at last one did suddenly leave groaning. 'You are sped,' said I, so made up to him, and true enough he was dead, but warm, you know. I took my lord in my arms, but was too weak to carry him, so rolled with him into a ditch hard by; and there my comrades found me in the morning properly stung with nettles, and hugging a dead Fleming for the bare life."
Gerard shuddered. "And this is war; this is the chosen theme of poets and troubadours, and Reden Ryckers. Truly was it said by the men of old, dulce bellum inexpertis."
"I say-oh, what stout hearts some men have!"
"N'est-ce pas, p'tit? So after that sort—thing—this sort thing is heaven. Soft—warm—good company, comradancow—cou'age—diable—m-ornk!"
And the glib tongue was still for some hours.
In the morning Gerard was wakened by a liquid hitting his eye, and it was Denys employing the cow's udder as a squirt.
"Oh, fie!" cried Gerard, "to waste the good milk;" and he took a horn out of his wallet. "Fill this! but indeed I see not what right we have to meddle with her milk at all."
"Make your mind easy! Last night la camarade was not nice; but what then, true friendship dispenses with ceremony. To-day we make as free with her."
"Why, what did she do, poor thing?"
"Ate my pillow."
"On waking I had to hunt for my head, and found it down in the stable gutter. She ate our pillow from us, we drink our pillow from her. A votre sante, madame; et sans rancune;" and the dog drank her milk to her own health.
"The ancient was right though," said Gerard. "Never have I risen so refreshed since I left my native land. Henceforth let us shun great towns, and still lie in a convent or a cow-house; for I'd liever sleep on fresh straw, than on linen well washed six months agone; and the breath of kine it is sweeter than that of Christians, let alone the garlic, which men and women folk affect, but cowen abhor from, and so do I, St. Bavon be my witness!"
The soldier eyed him from head to foot: "Now but for that little tuft on your chin I should take you for a girl; and by the finger-nails of St. Luke, no ill-favoured one neither."
These three towns proved types and repeated themselves with slight variations for many a weary league; but even when he could get neither a convent nor a cow-house, Gerard learned in time to steel himself to the inevitable, and to emulate his comrade, whom he looked on as almost superhuman for hardihood of body and spirit.
There was, however, a balance to all this veneration.
Denys, like his predecessor Achilles, had his weak part, his very weak part, thought Gerard.
His foible was "woman."
Whatever he was saying or doing, he stopped short at sight of a farthingale, and his whole soul became occupied with that garment and its inmate till they had disappeared; and sometimes for a good while after.
He often put Gerard to the blush by talking his amazing German to such females as he caught standing or sitting indoors or out, at which they stared; and when he met a peasant girl on the road, he took off his cap to her and saluted her as if she was a queen; the invariable effect of which was, that she suddenly drew herself up quite stiff like a soldier on parade, and wore a forbidding countenance.
"They drive me to despair," said Denys. "Is that a just return to a civil bonnetade? They are large, they are fair, but stupid as swans."
"What breeding can you expect from women that wear no hose?" inquired Gerard; "and some of them no shoon? They seem to me reserved and modest, as becomes their sex, and sober, whereas the men are little better than beer-barrels. Would you have them brazen as well as hoseless?"
"A little affability adorns even beauty," sighed Denys.
"Then let these alone, sith they are not to your taste," retorted Gerard. "What, is there no sweet face in Burgundy that would pale to see you so wrapped up in strange women?"
"Half-a-dozen that would cry their eyes out."
"But it is a long way to Burgundy."
"Ay, to the foot, but not to the heart. I am there, sleeping and waking, and almost every minute of the day."
"In Burgundy? Why, I thought you had never—"
"In Burgundy?" cried Gerard contemptuously. "No, in sweet Sevenbergen. Ah! well-a-day! well-a-day!"
Many such dialogues as this passed between the pair on the long and weary road, and neither could change the other.
One day about noon they reached a town of some pretensions, and Gerard was glad, for he wanted to buy a pair of shoes; his own were quite worn out. They soon found a shop that displayed a goodly array, and made up to it, and would have entered it, but the shopkeeper sat on the doorstep taking a nap, and was so fat as to block up the narrow doorway; the very light could hardly struggle past his "too, too solid flesh," much less a carnal customer.
My fair readers, accustomed, when they go shopping, to be met half way with nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles, and waved into a seat, while almost at the same instant an eager shopman flings himself half across the counter in a semi-circle to learn their commands, can best appreciate this mediaeval Teuton, who kept a shop as a dog keeps a kennel, and sat at the exclusion of custom snoring like a pig.
Denys and Gerard stood and contemplated this curiosity; emblem, permit me to remark, of the lets and hindrances to commerce that characterized his epoch.
"Jump over him!"
"The door is too low."
"March through him!"
"The man is too thick."
"What is the coil?" inquired a mumbling voice from the interior; apprentice with his mouth full.
"We want to get into your shop?"
"What for, in Heaven's name??!!!"
"Shoon, lazy bones!"
The ire of the apprentice began to rise at such an explanation. "And could ye find no hour out of all the twelve to come pestering us for shoon, but the one little, little hour my master takes his nap, and I sit down to my dinner, when all the rest of the world is full long ago?"
Denys heard, but could not follow the sense. "Waste no more time talking their German gibberish," said he; "take out thy knife and tickle his fat ribs."
"That I will not," said Gerard.
"Then here goes; I'll prong him with this."
Gerard seized the mad fellow's arm in dismay, for he had been long enough in the country to guess that the whole town would take part in any brawl with the native against a stranger. But Denys twisted away from him, and the cross-bow bolt in his hand was actually on the road to the sleeper's ribs; but at that very moment two females crossed the road towards him; he saw the blissful vision, and instantly forgot what he was about, and awaited their approach with unreasonable joy.
Though companions, they were not equals, except in attractiveness to a Burgundian crossbow man; for one was very tall, the other short, and by one of those anomalies which society, however primitive, speedily establishes, the long one held up the little one's tail. The tall one wore a plain linen coif on her head, a little grogram cloak over her shoulders, a grey kirtle, and a short farthingale or petticoat of bright red cloth, and feet and legs quite bare, though her arms were veiled in tight linen sleeves.
The other a kirtle broadly trimmed with fur, her arms in double sleeves, whereof the inner of yellow satin clung to the skin; the outer, all befurred, were open at the inside of the elbow, and so the arm passed through and left them dangling. Velvet head-dress, huge purse at girdle, gorgeous train, bare legs. And thus they came on, the citizen's wife strutting, and the maid gliding after, holding her mistress's train devoutly in both hands, and bending and winding her lithe body prettily enough to do it. Imagine (if not pressed for time) a bantam, with a guineahen stepping obsequious at its stately heel.
This pageant made straight for the shoemaker's shop. Denys louted low; the worshipful lady nodded graciously, but rapidly, having business on hand, or rather on foot; for in a moment she poked the point of her little shoe into the sleeper, and worked it round in him like a gimlet, till with a long snarl he woke. The incarnate shutter rising and grumbling vaguely, the lady swept in and deigned him no further notice. He retreated to his neighbour's shop, the tailor's, and sitting on the step, protected it from the impertinence of morning calls. Neighbours should be neighbourly.
Denys and Gerard followed the dignity into the shop, where sat the apprentice at dinner; the maid stood outside with her insteps crossed, leaning against the wall, and tapping it with her nails.
"Those, yonder," said the dignity briefly, pointing with an imperious little white hand to some yellow shoes gilded at the toe. While the apprentice stood stock still neutralized by his dinner and his duty, Denys sprang at the shoes, and brought them to her; she smiled, and calmly seating herself, protruded her foot, shod, but hoseless, and scented. Down went Denys on his knees, and drew off her shoe, and tried the new ones on the white skin devoutly. Finding she had a willing victim, she abused the opportunity, tried first one pair, then another, then the first again, and so on, balancing and hesitating for about half an hour, to Gerard's disgust, and Denys's weak delight. At last she was fitted, and handed two pair of yellow and one pair of red shoes out to her servant. Then was heard a sigh. It burst from the owner of the shop: he had risen from slumber, and was now hovering about, like a partridge near her brood in danger.
"There go all my coloured shoes," said he, as they disappeared in the girl's apron.
The lady departed: Gerard fitted himself with a stout pair, asked the price, paid it without a word, and gave his old ones to a beggar in the street, who blessed him in the marketplace, and threw them furiously down a well in the suburbs. The comrades left the shop, and in it two melancholy men, that looked, and even talked, as if they had been robbed wholesale.
"My shoon are sore worn," said Denys, grinding his teeth; "but I'll go barefoot till I reach France, ere I'll leave my money with such churls as these."
The Dutchman replied calmly, "They seem indifferent well sewn."
As they drew near the Rhine, they passed through forest after forest, and now for the first time ugly words sounded in travellers' mouths, seated around stoves. "Thieves!" "black gangs!" "cut-throats!" etc.
The very rustics were said to have a custom hereabouts of murdering the unwary traveller in these gloomy woods, whose dark and devious winding enabled those who were familiar with them to do deeds of rapine and blood undetected, or if detected, easily to baffle pursuit.
Certain it was, that every clown they met carried, whether for offence or defence, a most formidable weapon; a light axe, with a short pike at the head, and a long slender handle of ash or yew, well seasoned. These the natives could all throw with singular precision, so as to make the point strike an object at several yard's distance, or could slay a bullock at hand with a stroke of the blade. Gerard bought one and practised with it. Denys quietly filed and ground his bolt sharp, whistling the whilst; and when they entered a gloomy wood, he would unsling his crossbow and carry it ready for action; but not so much like a traveller fearing an attack, as a sportsman watchful not to miss a snap shot.
One day, being in a forest a few leagues from Dusseldorf, as Gerard was walking like one in a dream, thinking of Margaret, and scarce seeing the road he trode, his companion laid a hand on his shoulder, and strung his crossbow with glittering eye. "Hush!" said he, in a low whisper that startled Gerard more than thunder. Gerard grasped his axe tight, and shook a little: he heard a rustling in the wood hard by, and at the same moment Denys sprang into the wood, and his crossbow went to his shoulder, even as he jumped. Twang! went the metal string; and after an instant's suspense he roared, "Run forward, guard the road, he is hit! he is hit!"
Gerard darted forward, and as he ran a young bear burst out of the wood right upon him; finding itself intercepted, it went upon its hind legs with a snarl, and though not half grown, opened formidable jaws and long claws. Gerard, in a fury of excitement and agitation, flung himself on it, and delivered a tremendous blow on its nose with his axe, and the creature staggered; another, and it lay grovelling, with Gerard hacking it.
"Hallo! stop! you are mad to spoil the meat."
"I took it for a robber," said Gerard, panting. "I mean, I had made ready for a robber, so I could not hold my hand."
"Ay, these chattering travellers have stuffed your head full of thieves and assassins; they have not got a real live robber in their whole nation. Nay, I'll carry the beast; bear thou my crossbow."
"We will carry it by turns, then," said Gerard, "for 'tis a heavy load: poor thing, how its blood drips. Why did we slay it?"
"For supper and the reward the baillie of the next town shall give us."
"And for that it must die, when it had but just begun to live; and perchance it hath a mother that will miss it sore this night, and loves it as ours love us; more than mine does me."
"What, know you not that his mother was caught in a pitfall last month, and her skin is now at the tanner's? and his father was stuck full of cloth-yard shafts t'other day, and died like Julius Caesar, with his hands folded on his bosom, and a dead dog in each of them?"
But Gerard would not view it jestingly. "Why, then," said he, "we have killed one of God's creatures that was all alone in the world-as I am this day, in this strange land."
"You young milksop," roared Denys, "these things must not be looked at so, or not another bow would be drawn nor quarrel fly in forest nor battlefield. Why, one of your kidney consorting with a troop of pikemen should turn them to a row of milk-pails; it is ended, to Rome thou goest not alone, for never wouldst thou reach the Alps in a whole skin. I take thee to Remiremont, my native place, and there I marry thee to my young sister, she is blooming as a peach. Thou shakest thy head? ah! I forgot; thou lovest elsewhere, and art a one woman man, a creature to me scarce conceivable. Well then I shall find thee, not a wife, nor a leman, but a friend; some honest Burgundian who shall go with thee as far as Lyons; and much I doubt that honest fellow will be myself, into whose liquor thou has dropped sundry powders to make me love thee; for erst I endured not doves in doublet and hose. From Lyons, I say, I can trust thee by ship to Italy, which being by all accounts the very stronghold of milksops, thou wilt there be safe: they will hear thy words, and make thee their duke in a twinkling."
Gerard sighed. "In sooth I love not to think of this Dusseldorf, where we are to part company, good friend."
They walked silently, each thinking of the separation at hand; the thought checked trifling conversation, and at these moments it is a relief to do something, however insignificant. Gerard asked Denys to lend him a bolt. "I have often shot with a long bow, but never with one of these!"
"Draw thy knife and cut this one out of the cub," said Denys slily.
"Nay, Day, I want a clean one."
Denys gave him three out of his quiver.
Gerard strung the bow, and levelled it at a bough that had fallen into the road at some distance. The power of the instrument surprised him; the short but thick steel bow jarred him to the very heel as it went off, and the swift steel shaft was invisible in its passage; only the dead leaves, with which November had carpeted the narrow road, flew about on the other side of the bough.
"Ye aimed a thought too high," said Denys.
"What a deadly thing! no wonder it is driving out the longbow—to Martin's much discontent."
"Ay, lad," said Denys triumphantly, "it gains ground every day, in spite of their laws and their proclamations to keep up the yewen bow, because forsooth their grandsires shot with it, knowing no better. You see, Gerard, war is not pastime. Men will shoot at their enemies with the hittingest arm and the killingest, not with the longest and missingest."
"Then these new engines I hear of will put both bows down; for these with a pinch of black dust, and a leaden ball, and a child's finger, shall slay you Mars and Goliath, and the Seven Champions."
"Pooh! pooh!" said Denys warmly; "petrone nor harquebuss shall ever put down Sir Arbalest. Why, we can shoot ten times while they are putting their charcoal and their lead into their leathern smoke belchers, and then kindling their matches. All that is too fumbling for the field of battle; there a soldier's weapon needs be aye ready, like his heart."
Gerard did not answer, for his ear was attracted by a sound behind them. It was a peculiar sound, too, like something heavy, but not hard, rushing softly over the dead leaves. He turned round with some little curiosity. A colossal creature was coming down the road at about sixty paces' distance.
He looked at it in a sort of calm stupor at first, but the next moment, he turned ashy pale.
"Denys!" he cried. "Oh, God! Denys!"
Denys whirled round.
It was a bear as big as a cart-horse.
It was tearing along with its huge head down, running on a hot scent.
The very moment he saw it Denys said in a sickening whisper—
Oh! the concentrated horror of that one word, whispered hoarsely, with dilating eyes! For in that syllable it all flashed upon them both like a sudden stroke of lightning in the dark—the bloody trail, the murdered cub, the mother upon them, and it. DEATH.
All this in a moment of time. The next, she saw them. Huge as she was, she seemed to double herself (it was her long hair bristling with rage): she raised her head big as a hull's, her swine-shaped jaws opened wide at them, her eyes turned to blood and flame, and she rushed upon them, scattering the leaves about her like a whirlwind as she came.
"Shoot!" screamed Denys, but Gerard stood shaking from head to foot, useless.
"Shoot, man! ten thousand devils, shoot! too late! Tree! tree!" and he dropped the cub, pushed Gerard across the road, and flew to the first tree and climbed it, Gerard the same on his side; and as they fled, both men uttered inhuman howls like savage creatures grazed by death.
With all their speed one or other would have been torn to fragments at the foot of his tree; but the bear stopped a moment at the cub.
Without taking her bloodshot eyes off those she was hunting, she smelt it all round, and found, how, her Creator only knows, that it was dead, quite dead. She gave a yell such as neither of the hunted ones had ever heard, nor dreamed to be in nature, and flew after Denys. She reared and struck at him as he climbed. He was just out of reach.
Instantly she seized the tree, and with her huge teeth tore a great piece out of it with a crash. Then she reared again, dug her claws deep into the bark, and began to mount it slowly, but as surely as a monkey.
Denys's evil star had led him to a dead tree, a mere shaft, and of no very great height. He climbed faster than his pursuer, and was soon at the top. He looked this way and that for some bough of another tree to spring to. There was none; and if he jumped down, he knew the bear would be upon him ere he could recover the fall, and make short work of him. Moreover, Denys was little used to turning his back on danger, and his blood was rising at being hunted. He turned to bay.
"My hour is come," thought he. "Let me meet death like a man." He kneeled down and grasped a small shoot to steady himself, drew his long knife, and clenching his teeth, prepared to jab the huge brute as soon as it should mount within reach.
Of this combat the result was not doubtful.
The monster's head and neck were scarce vulnerable for bone and masses of hair. The man was going to sting the bear, and the bear to crack the man like a nut.
Gerard's heart was better than his nerves. He saw his friend's mortal danger, and passed at once from fear to blindish rage. He slipped down his tree in a moment, caught up the crossbow, which he had dropped in the road, and running furiously up, sent a bolt into the bear's body with a loud shout. The bear gave a snarl of rage and pain, and turned its head irresolutely.
"Keep aloof!" cried Denys, "or you are a dead man."
"I care not;" and in a moment he had another bolt ready and shot it fiercely into the bear, screaming, "Take that! take that!"
Denys poured a volley of oaths down at him. "Get away, idiot!"
He was right: the bear finding so formidable and noisy a foe behind her, slipped growling down the tree, rending deep furrows in it as she slipped. Gerard ran back to his tree and climbed it swiftly. But while his legs were dangling some eight feet from the ground, the bear came rearing and struck with her fore paw, and out flew a piece of bloody cloth from Gerard's hose. He climbed, and climbed; and presently he heard as it were in the air a voice say, "Go out on the bough!" He looked, and there was a long massive branch before him shooting upwards at a slight angle: he threw his body across it, and by a series of convulsive efforts worked up it to the end.
Then he looked round panting.
The bear was mounting the tree on the other side. He heard her claws scrape, and saw her bulge on both sides of the massive tree. Her eye not being very quick, she reached the fork and passed it, mounting the main stem. Gerard drew breath more freely. The bear either heard him, or found by scent she was wrong: she paused; presently she caught sight of him. She eyed him steadily, then quietly descended to the fork.
Slowly and cautiously she stretched out a paw and tried the bough. It was a stiff oak branch, sound as iron. Instinct taught the creature this: it crawled carefully out on the bough, growling savagely as it came.
Gerard looked wildly down. He was forty feet from the ground. Death below. Death moving slow but sure on him in a still more horrible form. His hair bristled. The sweat poured from him. He sat helpless, fascinated, tongue-tied.
As the fearful monster crawled growling towards him, incongruous thoughts coursed through his mind. Margaret: the Vulgate, where it speaks of the rage of a she-bear robbed of her whelps—Rome—Eternity.
The bear crawled on. And now the stupor of death fell on the doomed man; he saw the open jaws and bloodshot eyes coming, but in a mist.
As in a mist he heard a twang; he glanced down; Denys, white and silent as death, was shooting up at the bear. The bear snarled at the twang. but crawled on. Again the crossbow twanged, and the bear snarled, and came nearer. Again the cross bow twanged; and the next moment the bear was close upon Gerard, where he sat, with hair standing stiff on end and eyes starting from their sockets, palsied. The bear opened her jaws like a grave, and hot blood spouted from them upon Gerard as from a pump. The bough rocked. The wounded monster was reeling; it clung, it stuck its sickles of claws deep into the wood; it toppled, its claws held firm, but its body rolled off, and the sudden shock to the branch shook Gerard forward on his stomach with his face upon one of the bear's straining paws. At this, by a convulsive effort, she raised her head up, up, till he felt her hot fetid breath. Then huge teeth snapped together loudly close below him in the air, with a last effort of baffled hate. The ponderous carcass rent the claws out of the bough, then pounded the earth with a tremendous thump. There was a shout of triumph below, and the very next instant a cry of dismay, for Gerard had swooned, and without an attempt to save himself, rolled headlong from the perilous height.
Denys caught at Gerard, and somewhat checked his fall; but it may be doubted whether this alone would have saved him from breaking his neck, or a limb. His best friend now was the dying bear, on whose hairy carcass his head and shoulders descended. Denys tore him off her. It was needless. She panted still, and her limbs quivered, but a hare was not so harmless; and soon she breathed her last; and the judicious Denys propped Gerard up against her, being soft, and fanned him. He came to by degrees, but confused, and feeling the bear around him, rolled away, yelling.
"Courage," cried Denys, "le diable est mort."
"Is it dead? quite dead?" inquired Gerard from behind a tree; for his courage was feverish, and the cold fit was on him just now, and had been for some time.
"Behold," said Denys, and pulled the brute's ear playfully, and opened her jaws and put in his head, with other insulting antics; in the midst of which Gerard was violently sick.
Denys laughed at him.
"What is the matter now?" said he, "also, why tumble off your perch just when we had won the day?"
"I swooned, I trow."
Not receiving an answer, he continued, "Green girls faint as soon as look at you, but then they choose time and place. What woman ever fainted up a tree?"
"She sent her nasty blood all over me. I think the smell must have overpowered me! Faugh! I hate blood."
"I do believe it potently."
"See what a mess she has made me
"But with her blood, not yours. I pity the enemy that strives to satisfy you."'
"You need not to brag, Maitre Denys; I saw you under the tree, the colour of your shirt."
"Let us distinguish," said Denys, colouring; "it is permitted to tremble for a friend."
Gerard, for answer, flung his arms round Denys's neck in silence.
"Look here," whined the stout soldier, affected by this little gush of nature and youth, "was ever aught so like a woman? I love thee, little milksop—go to. Good! behold him on his knees now. What new caprice is this?"
"Oh, Denys, ought we not to return thanks to Him who has saved both our lives against such fearful odds?" And Gerard kneeled, and prayed aloud. And presently he found Denys kneeling quiet beside him, with his hands across his bosom after the custom of his nation, and a face as long as his arm. When they rose, Gerard's countenance was beaming.
"Good Denys," said he, "Heaven will reward thy piety."
"Ah, bah! I did it out of politeness," said the Frenchman. "It was to please thee, little one. C'est egal, 'twas well and orderly prayed, and edified me to the core while it lasted. A bishop had scarce handled the matter better; so now our evensong being sung, and the saints enlisted with us—marchons."
Ere they had taken two steps, he stopped. "By-the-by, the cub!"
"Oh, no, no!" cried Gerard.
"You are right. It is late. We have lost time climbing trees, and tumbling off 'em, and swooning, and vomiting, and praying; and the brute is heavy to carry. And now I think on't, we shall have papa after it next; these bears make such a coil about an odd cub. What is this? you are wounded! you are wounded!"
"He is wounded; miserable that I am!"
"Be calm, Denys. I am not touched; I feel no pain anywhere."
"You? you only feel when another is hurt," cried Denys, with great emotion; and throwing himself on his knees, he examined Gerard's leg with glistening eyes.
"Quick! quick! before it stiffens," he cried, and hurried him on.
"Who makes the coil about nothing now?" inquired Gerard composedly.
Denys's reply was a very indirect one.
"Be pleased to note," said he, "that I have a bad heart. You were man enough to save my life, yet I must sneer at you, a novice in war. Was not I a novice once myself? Then you fainted from a wound, and I thought you swooned for fear, and called you a milksop. Briefly, I have a bad tongue and a bad heart."
"You are very good to say so, little one, and I am eternally obliged to you," mumbled the remorseful Denys.
Ere they had walked many furlongs, the muscles of the wounded leg contracted and stiffened, till presently Gerard could only just put his toe to the ground, and that with great pain.
At last he could bear it no longer.
"Let me lie down and die," he groaned, "for this is intolerable."
Denys represented that it was afternoon, and the nights were now frosty; and cold and hunger ill companions; and that it would be unreasonable to lose heart, a certain great personage being notoriously defunct. So Gerard leaned upon his axe, and hobbled on; but presently he gave in, all of a sudden, and sank helpless in the road.
Denys drew him aside into the wood, and to his surprise gave him his crossbow and bolts, enjoining him strictly to lie quiet, and if any ill-looking fellows should find him out and come to him, to bid them keep aloof; and should they refuse, to shoot them dead at twenty paces. "Honest men keep the path; and, knaves in a wood, none but fools do parley with them." With this he snatched up Gerard's axe, and set off running—not, as Gerard expected, towards Dusseldorf, but on the road they had come.
Gerard lay aching and smarting; and to him Rome, that seemed so near at starting, looked far, far off, now that he was two hundred miles nearer it. But soon all his thoughts turned Sevenbergen-wards. How sweet it would be one day to hold Margaret's hand, and tell her all he had gone through for her! The very thought of it, and her, soothed him; and in the midst of pain and irritation of the nerves be lay resigned, and sweetly, though faintly, smiling.
He had lain thus more than two hours, when suddenly there were shouts; and the next moment something struck a tree hard by, and quivered in it.
He looked, it was an arrow.
He started to his feet. Several missiles rattled among the boughs, and the wood echoed with battle-cries. Whence they came he could not tell, for noises in these huge woods are so reverberated, that a stranger is always at fault as to their whereabout; but they seemed to fill the whole air. Presently there was a lull; then he heard the fierce galloping of hoofs; and still louder shouts and cries arose, mingled with shrieks and groans; and above all, strange and terrible sounds, like fierce claps of thunder, bellowing loud, and then dying off in cracking echoes; and red tongues of flame shot out ever and anon among the trees, and clouds of sulphurous smoke came drifting over his head. And all was still.
Gerard was struck with awe. "What will become of Denys?" he cried. "Oh, why did you leave me? Oh, Denys, my friend! my friend!"
Just before sunset Denys returned, almost sinking under a hairy bundle. It was the bear's skin.
Gerard welcomed him with a burst of joy that astonished him.
"I thought never to see you again, dear Denys. Were you in the battle?"
"No. What battle?"
"The bloody battle of men, or fiends, that raged in the wood a while agone;" and with this he described it to the life, and more fully than I have done.
Denys patted him indulgently on the back.
"It is well," said he; "thou art a good limner; and fever is a great spur to the imagination. One day I lay in a cart-shed with a cracked skull, and saw two hosts manoeuvre and fight a good hour on eight feet square, the which I did fairly describe to my comrade in due order, only not so gorgeously as thou, for want of book learning.
"What, then, you believe me not? when I tell you the arrows whizzed over my head, and the combatants shouted, and—"
"May the foul fiends fly away with me if I believe a word of it."
Gerard took his arm, and quietly pointed to a tree close by.
"Why, it looks like—it is-a broad arrow, as I live!" And he went close, and looked up at it.
"It came out of the battle. I heard it, and saw it."
"An English arrow."
"How know you that?"
"Marry, by its length. The English bowmen draw the bow to the ear, others only to the right breast. Hence the English loose a three-foot shaft, and this is one of them, perdition seize them! Well, if this is not glamour, there has been a trifle of a battle. And if there has been a battle in so ridiculous a place for a battle as this, why then 'tis no business of mine, for my Duke hath no quarrel hereabouts. So let's to bed," said the professional. And with this he scraped together a heap of leaves, and made Gerard lie on it, his axe by his side. He then lay down beside him, with one hand on his arbalest, and drew the bear-skin over them, hair inward. They were soon as warm as toast, and fast asleep.
But long before the dawn Gerard woke his comrade.
"What shall I do, Denys, I die of famine?"
"Do? why, go to sleep again incontinent: qui dort dine."
"But I tell you I am too hungry to sleep," snapped Gerard.
"Let us march, then," replied Denys, with paternal indulgence.
He had a brief paroxysm of yawns; then made a small bundle of bears' ears, rolling them up in a strip of the skin, cut for the purpose; and they took the road.
Gerard leaned on his axe, and propped by Denys on the other side, hobbled along, not without sighs.
"I hate pain." said Gerard viciously.
"Therein you show judgment," replied papa smoothly.
It was a clear starlight night; and soon the moon rising revealed the end of the wood at no great distance: a pleasant sight, since Dusseldorf they knew was but a short league further.
At the edge of the wood they came upon something so mysterious that they stopped to gaze at it, before going up to it. Two white pillars rose in the air, distant a few paces from each other; and between them stood many figures, that looked like human forms.
"I go no farther till I know what this is," said Gerard, in an agitated whisper. "Are they effigies of the saints, for men to pray to on the road? or live robbers waiting to shoot down honest travellers? Nay, living men they cannot be, for they stand on nothing that I see. Oh! Denys, let us turn back till daybreak; this is no mortal sight."
Denys halted, and peered long and keenly. "They are men," said he, at last. Gerard was for turning back all the more. "But men that will never hurt us, nor we them. Look not to their feet, for that they stand on!"
"Where, then, i' the name of all the saints?"
"Look over their heads," said Denys gravely.
Following this direction, Gerard presently discerned the outline of a dark wooden beam passing from pillar to pillar; and as the pair got nearer, walking now on tiptoe, one by one dark snake-like cords came out in the moonlight, each pendent from the beam to a dead man, and tight as wire.
Now as they came under this awful monument of crime and wholesale vengeance a light air swept by, and several of the corpses swung, or gently gyrated, and every rope creaked. Gerard shuddered at this ghastly salute. So thoroughly had the gibbet, with its sickening load, seized and held their eyes, that it was but now they perceived a fire right underneath, and a living figure sitting huddled over it. His axe lay beside him, the bright blade shining red in the glow. He was asleep.
Gerard started, but Denys only whispered, "courage, comrade, here is a fire."
"Ay! but there is a man at it."
"There will soon be three;" and he began to heap some wood on it that the watcher had prepared; during which the prudent Gerard seized the man's axe, and sat down tight on it, grasping his own, and examining the sleeper. There was nothing outwardly distinctive in the man. He wore the dress of the country folk, and the hat of the district, a three-cornered hat called a Brunswicker, stiff enough to turn a sword cut, and with a thick brass hat-band. The weight of the whole thing had turned his ears entirely down, like a fancy rabbit's in our century; but even this, though it spoiled him as a man, was nothing remarkable. They had of late met scores of these dog's-eared rustics. The peculiarity was, this clown watching under a laden gallows. What for?
Denys, if he felt curious, would not show it; he took out two bears' ears from his bundle, and running sticks through them, began to toast them. "'Twill be eating coined money," said he; "for the burgomaster of Dusseldorf had given us a rix-dollar for these ears, as proving the death of their owners; but better a lean purse than a lere stomach."
"Unhappy man!" cried Gerard, "could you eat food here?"
"Where the fire is lighted there must the meat roast, and where it roasts there must it be eaten; for nought travels worse than your roasted meat."
"Well, eat thou, Denys, an thou canst! but I am cold and sick; there is no room for hunger in my heart after what mine eyes have seen," and he shuddered over the fire. "Oh! how they creak! and who is this man, I wonder? what an ill-favoured churl!"
Denys examined him like a connoisseur looking at a picture, and in due course delivered judgment. "I take him to be of the refuse of that company, whereof these (pointing carelessly upward) were the cream, and so ran their heads into danger.
"At that rate, why not stun him before he wakes?" and Gerard fidgeted where he sat.
Denys opened his eyes with humorous surprise. "For one who sets up for a milksop you have the readiest hand. Why should two stun one? tush! he wakes: note now what he says at waking, and tell me."
These last words were hardly whispered when the watcher opened his eyes. At sight of the fire made up, and two strangers eyeing him keenly, he stared, and there was a severe and pretty successful effort to be calm; still a perceptible tremor ran all over him. Soon he manned himself, and said gruffly. "Good morrow. But at the very moment of saying it he missed his axe, and saw how Gerard was sitting upon it, with his own laid ready to his hand. He lost countenance again directly. Denys smiled grimly at this bit of byplay.
"Good morrow!" said Gerard quietly, keeping his eye on him.
The watcher was now too ill at ease to be silent. "You make free with my fire," said he; but he added in a somewhat faltering voice, "you are welcome."
Denys whispered Gerard. The watcher eyed them askant.
"My comrade says, sith we share your fire, you shall share his meat."
"So be it," said the man warmly. "I have half a kid hanging on a bush hard by, I'll go fetch it;" and he arose with a cheerful and obliging countenance, and was retiring.
Denys caught up his crossbow, and levelled it at his head. The man fell on his knees.
Denys lowered his weapon, and pointed him back to his place. He rose and went back slowly and unsteadily, like one disjointed; and sick at heart as the mouse, that the cat lets go a little way, and then darts and replaces.
"Sit down, friend," said Denys grimly, in French.
The man obeyed finger and tone, though he knew not a word of French.
"Tell him the fire is not big enough for more than thee. He will take my meaning."
This being communicated by Gerard, the man grinned; ever since Denys spoke he had seemed greatly relieved. "I wist not ye were strangers," said he to Gerard.
Denys cut a piece of bear's ear, and offered it with grace to him he had just levelled crossbow at.
He took it calmly, and drew a piece of bread from his wallet, and divided it with the pair. Nay, more, he winked and thrust his hand into the heap of leaves he sat on (Gerard grasped his axe ready to brain him) and produced a leathern bottle holding full two gallons. He put it to his mouth, and drank their healths, then handed it to Gerard; he passed it untouched to Denys.
"Mort de ma vie!" cried the soldier, "it is Rhenish wine, and fit for the gullet of an archbishop. Here's to thee, thou prince of good fellows, wishing thee a short life and a merry one! Come, Gerard, sup! sup! Pshaw, never heed them, man! they heed not thee. Natheless, did I hang over such a skin of Rhenish as this, and three churls sat beneath a drinking it and offered me not a drop, I'd soon be down among them."
"My spirit would cut the cord, and womp would come my body amongst ye, with a hand on the bottle, and one eye winking, t'other."
Gerard started up with a cry of horror and his fingers to his ears, and was running from the place, when his eye fell on the watcher's axe. The tangible danger brought him back. He sat down again on the axe with his fingers in his ears.
"Courage, l'ami, le diable est mort!" shouted Denys gaily, and offered him a piece of bear's ear, put it right under his nose as he stopped his ears. Gerard turned his head away with loathing.
"Wine!" he gasped. "Heaven knows I have much need of it, with such companions as thee and—"
He took a long draught of the Rhenish wine: it ran glowing through his veins, and warmed and strengthened his heart, but could not check his tremors whenever a gust of wind came. As for Denys and the other, they feasted recklessly, and plied the bottle unceasingly, and drank healths and caroused beneath that creaking sepulchre and its ghastly tenants.
"Ask him how they came here," said Denys, with his mouth full, and pointing up without looking.
On this question being interpreted to the watcher, he replied that treason had been their end, diabolical treason and priest-craft. He then, being rendered communicative by drink, delivered a long prosy narrative, the purport of which was as follows. These honest gentlemen who now dangled here so miserably were all stout men and true, and lived in the forest by their wits. Their independence and thriving state excited the jealousy and hatred of a large portion of mankind, and many attempts were made on their lives and liberties; these the Virgin and their patron saints, coupled with their individual skill and courage constantly baffled. But yester eve a party of merchants came slowly on their mules from Dusseldorf. The honest men saw them crawling, and let them penetrate near a league into the forest, then set upon them to make them disgorge a portion of their ill-gotten gains. But alas! the merchants were no merchants at all, but soldiers of more than one nation, in the pay of the Archbishop of Cologne; haubergeons had they beneath their gowns, and weapons of all sorts at hand; natheless, the honest men fought stoutly, and pressed the traitors hard, when lo! horsemen, that had been planted in ambush many hours before, galloped up, and with these new diabolical engines of war, shot leaden bullets, and laid many an honest fellow low, and so quelled the courage of others that they yielded them prisoners. These being taken red-handed, the victors, who with malice inconceivable had brought cords knotted round their waists, did speedily hang, and by their side the dead ones, to make the gallanter show. "That one at the end was the captain. He never felt the cord. He was riddled with broad arrows and leaden balls or ever they could take him: a worthy man as ever cried, 'Stand and deliver!' but a little hasty, not much: stay! I forgot; he is dead. Very hasty, and obstinate as a pig. That one in the—buff jerkin is the lieutenant, as good a soul as ever lived: he was hanged alive. This one here, I never could abide; no (not that one; that is Conrad, my bosom friend); I mean this one right overhead in the chicken-toed shoon; you were always carrying tales, ye thief, and making mischief; you know you were; and, sirs, I am a man that would rather live united in a coppice than in a forest with backbiters and tale-bearers: strangers, I drink to you." And so he went down the whole string, indicating with the neck of the bottle, like a showman with his pole, and giving a neat description of each, which though pithy was invariably false; for the showman had no real eye for character, and had misunderstood every one of these people.
"Enough palaver!" cried Denys. "Marchons! Give me his axe: now tell him he must help you along."
The man's countenance fell, but he saw in Denys's eye that resistance would be dangerous; he submitted. Gerard it was who objected. He said, "Y pensez-vous? to put my hand on a thief, it maketh my flesh creep."
"Childishness! all trades must live. Besides, I have my reasons. Be not you wiser than your elder."
"No. Only if I am to lean on him I must have my hand in my bosom, still grasping the haft of my knife."
"It is a new attitude to walk in; but please thyself."
And in that strange and mixed attitude of tender offices and deadly suspicion the trio did walk. I wish I could draw them—I would not trust to the pen.
The light of the watch-tower at Dusseldorf was visible as soon as they cleared the wood, and cheered Gerard. When, after an hour's march, the black outline of the tower itself and other buildings stood out clear to the eye, their companion halted and said gloomily, "You may as well slay me out of hand as take me any nearer the gates of Dusseldorf town."
On this being communicated to Denys, he said at once, "Let him go then, for in sooth his neck will be in jeopardy if he wends much further with us." Gerard acquiesced as a matter of course. His horror of a criminal did not in the least dispose him to active co-operation with the law. But the fact is, that at this epoch no private citizen in any part of Europe ever meddled with criminals but in self-defence, except, by-the-by, in England, which, behind other nations in some things, was centuries before them all in this.
The man's personal liberty being restored, he asked for his axe. It was given him. To the friends' surprise he still lingered. Was he to have nothing for coming so far out of his way with them?
"Here are two batzen, friend.
"Add the wine, the good Rhenish?"
"Did you give aught for it?"
"Ay! the peril of my life."
"Hum! what say you, Denys?"
"I say it was worth its weight in gold. Here, lad, here be silver groshen, one for every acorn on that gallows tree; and here is one more for thee, who wilt doubtless be there in due season."
The man took the coins, but still lingered.
"Well! what now?" cried Gerard, who thought him shamefully overpaid already. "Dost seek the hide off our bones?"
"Nay, good sirs, but you have seen to-night how parlous a life is mine. Ye be true men, and your prayers avail; give me then a small trifle of a prayer, an't please you; for I know not one."
Gerard's choler began to rise at the egotistical rogue; moreover, ever since his wound he had felt gusts of irritability. However, he bit his lip and said, "There go two words to that bargain; tell me first, is it true what men say of you Rhenish thieves, that ye do murder innocent and unresisting travellers as well as rob them?"
The other answered sulkily, "They you call thieves are not to blame for that; the fault lies with the law."
"Gramercy! so 'tis the law's fault that ill men break it?"
"I mean not so; but the law in this land slays an honest man an if he do but steal. What follows? he would be pitiful, but is discouraged herefrom; pity gains him no pity, and doubles his peril: an he but cut a purse his life is forfeit; therefore cutteth he the throat to boot, to save his own neck: dead men tell no tales. Pray then for the poor soul who by bloody laws is driven to kill or else be slaughtered; were there less of this unreasonable gibbeting on the highroad, there should be less enforced cutting of throats in dark woods, my masters."
"Fewer words had served," replied Gerard coldly. "I asked a question, I am answered," and suddenly doffing his bonnet—
"'Obsecro Deum omnipotentem, ut, qua cruce jam pendent isti quindecim latrones fures et homicidae, in ea homicida fur et latro tu pependeris quam citissime, pro publica salute, in honorem justi Dei cui sit gloria, in aeternum, Amen.'"
"And so good day."
The greedy outlaw was satisfied last. "That is Latin," he muttered, "and more than I bargained for." So indeed it was.
And he returned to his business with a mind at ease. The friends pondered in silence the many events of the last few hours.
At last Gerard said thoughtfully, "That she-bear saved both our lives-by God's will."
"Like enough," replied Denys; "and talking of that, it was lucky we did not dawdle over our supper."
"What mean you?"
"I mean they are not all hanged; I saw a refuse of seven or eight as black as ink around our fire."
"Ere we had left it five minutes."
"Good heavens! and you said not a word."
"It would but have worried you, and had set our friend a looking back, and mayhap tempted him to get his skull split. All other danger was over; they could not see us, we were out of the moonshine, and indeed, just turning a corner. Ah! there is the sun; and here are the gates of Dusseldorf. Courage, l'ami, le diable est mort!"
"My head! my head!" was all poor Gerard could reply.
So many shocks, emotions, perils, horrors, added to the wound, his first, had tried his youthful body and sensitive nature too severely.
It was noon of the same day.
In a bedroom of "The Silver Lion" the rugged Denys sat anxious, watching his young friend.
And he lay raging with fever, delirious at intervals, and one word for ever on his lips.
It was the afternoon of the next day. Gerard was no longer lightheaded, but very irritable and full of fancies; and in one of these he begged Denys to get him a lemon to suck. Denys, who from a rough soldier had been turned by tender friendship into a kind of grandfather, got up hastily, and bidding him set his mind at ease, "lemons he should have in the twinkling of a quart pot," went and ransacked the shops for them.
They were not so common in the North as they are now, and he was absent a long while, and Gerard getting very impatient, when at last the door opened. But it was not Denys. Entered softly an imposing figure; an old gentleman in a long sober gown trimmed with rich fur, cherry-coloured hose, and pointed shoes, with a sword by his side in a morocco scabbard, a ruff round his neck not only starched severely, but treacherously stiffened in furrows by rebatoes, or a little hidden framework of wood; and on his head a four-cornered cap with a fur border; on his chin and bosom a majestic white beard. Gerard was in no doubt as to the vocation of his visitor, for, the sword excepted, this was familiar to him as the full dress of a physician. Moreover, a boy followed at his heels with a basket, where phials, lint, and surgical tools rather courted than shunned observation. The old gentleman came softly to the bedside, and said mildly and sotto voce, "How is't with thee, my son?"
Gerard answered gratefully that his wound gave him little pain now; but his throat was parched, and his head heavy.
"A wound! they told me not of that. Let me see it. Ay, ay, a good clean bite. The mastiff had sound teeth that took this out, I warrant me;" and the good doctor's sympathy seemed to run off to the quadruped he had conjured, his jackal.
"This must be cauterized forthwith, or we shall have you starting back from water, and turning somersaults in bed under our hands. 'Tis the year for raving curs, and one hath done your business; but we will baffle him yet. Urchin, go heat thine iron."
"But, sir," edged in Gerard, "'twas no dog, but a bear."
"A bear! Young man," remonstrated the senior severely, "think what you say; 'tis ill jesting with the man of art who brings his grey hairs and long study to heal you. A bear, quotha! Had you dissected as many bears as I, or the tithe, and drawn their teeth to keep your hand in, you would know that no bear's jaw ever made this foolish trifling wound. I tell you 'twas a dog, and since you put me to it, I even deny that it was a dog of magnitude, but neither more nor less than one of these little furious curs that are so rife, and run devious, biting each manly leg, and laying its wearer low, but for me and my learned brethren, who still stay the mischief with knife and cautery."
"Alas, sir! when said I 'twas a bear's jaw? I said, 'A bear:' it was his paw, now."
"And why didst not tell me that at once?"
"Because you kept telling me instead."
"Never conceal aught from your leech, young man," continued the senior, who was a good talker, but one of the worst listeners in Europe. "Well, it is an ill business. All the horny excrescences of animals, to wit, claws of tigers, panthers, badgers, cats, bears, and the like, and horn of deer, and nails of humans, especially children, are imbued with direst poison. Y'had better have been bitten by a cur, whatever you may say, than gored by bull or stag, or scratched by bear. However, shalt have a good biting cataplasm for thy leg; meantime keep we the body cool: put out thy tongue!-good!-fever. Let me feel thy pulse: good!—fever. I ordain flebotomy, and on the instant."
"Flebotomy! that is bloodletting: humph! Well, no matter, if 'tis sure to cure me, for I will not lie idle here." The doctor let him know that flebotomy was infallible, especially in this case.
"Hans, go fetch the things needful, and I will entertain the patient meantime with reasons."
The man of art then explained to Gerard that in disease the blood becomes hot and distempered and more or less poisonous; but a portion of this unhealthy liquid removed, Nature is fain to create a purer fluid to fill its place. Bleeding, therefore, being both a cooler and a purifier, was a specific in all diseases, for all diseases were febrile, whatever empirics might say.
"But think not," said he warmly, "that it suffices to bleed; any paltry barber can open a vein (though not all can close it again). The art is to know what vein to empty for what disease. T'other day they brought me one tormented with earache. I let him blood in the right thigh, and away flew his earache. By-the-by, he has died since then. Another came with the toothache. I bled him behind the ear, and relieved him in a jiffy. He is also since dead as it happens. I bled our bailiff between the thumb and forefinger for rheumatism. Presently he comes to me with a headache and drumming in the ears, and holds out his hand over the basin; but I smiled at his folly, and bled him in the left ankle sore against his will, and made his head as light as a nut."
Diverging then from the immediate theme after the manner of enthusiasts, the reverend teacher proceeded thus:
"Know, young man, that two schools of art contend at this moment throughout Europe. The Arabian, whose ancient oracles are Avicenna, Rhazes, Albucazis; and its revivers are Chauliac and Lanfranc; and the Greek school, whose modern champions are Bessarion, Platinus, and Marsilius Ficinus, but whose pristine doctors were medicine's very oracles, Phoebus, Chiron, Aesculapius, and his sons Podalinus and Machaon, Pythagoras, Democritus, Praxagoras, who invented the arteries, and Dioctes, 'qui primus urinae animum dedit.' All these taught orally. Then came Hippocrates, the eighteenth from Aesculapius, and of him we have manuscripts; to him we owe 'the vital principle.' He also invented the bandage, and tapped for water on the chest; and above all he dissected; yet only quadrupeds, for the brutal prejudices of the pagan vulgar withheld the human body from the knife of science. Him followed Aristotle, who gave us the aorta, the largest blood-vessel in the human body."
"Surely, sir, the Almighty gave us all that is in our bodies, and not Aristotle, nor any Grecian man," objected Gerard humbly.
"Child! of course He gave us the thing; but Aristotle did more, he gave us the name of the thing. But young men will still be talking. The next great light was Galen; he studied at Alexandria, then the home of science. He, justly malcontent with quadrupeds, dissected apes, as coming nearer to man, and bled like a Trojan. Then came Theophilus, who gave us the nerves, the lacteal vessels, and the pia mater."
This worried Gerard. "I cannot lie still and hear it said that mortal man bestowed the parts which Adam our father took from Him, who made him of the clay, and us his sons."
"Was ever such perversity?" said the doctor, his colour rising. "Who is the real donor of a thing to man? he who plants it secretly in the dark recesses of man's body, or the learned wight who reveals it to his intelligence, and so enriches his mind with the knowledge of it? Comprehension is your only true possession. Are you answered?"
"I am put to silence, sir."
"And that is better still; for garrulous patients are ill to cure, especially in fever; I say, then, that Eristratus gave us the cerebral nerves and the milk vessels; nay, more, he was the inventor of lithotomy, whatever you may say. Then came another whom I forget; you do somewhat perturb me with your petty exceptions. Then came Ammonius, the author of lithotrity, and here comes Hans with the basin-to stay your volubility. Blow thy chafer, boy, and hand me the basin; 'tis well. Arabians, quotha! What are they but a sect of yesterday who about the year 1000 did fall in with the writings of those very Greeks, and read them awry, having no concurrent light of their own? for their demigod, and camel-driver, Mahound, impostor in science as in religion, had strictly forbidden them anatomy, even of the lower animals, the which he who severeth from medicine, 'tollit solem e mundo,' as Tully quoth. Nay, wonder not at my fervour, good youth; where the general weal stands in jeopardy, a little warmth is civic, humane, and honourable. Now there is settled of late in this town a pestilent Arabist, a mere empiric, who, despising anatomy, and scarce knowing Greek from Hebrew, hath yet spirited away half my patients; and I tremble for the rest. Put forth thine ankle; and thou, Hans, breathe on the chafer."
Whilst matters were in this posture, in came Denys with the lemons, and stood surprised. "What sport is toward?" said he, raising his brows.
Gerard coloured a little, and told him the learned doctor was going to flebotomize him and cauterize him; that was all.
"Ay! indeed; and yon imp, what bloweth he hot coals for?"
"What should it be for," said the doctor to Gerard, "but to cauterize the vein when opened and the poisonous blood let free? 'Tis the only safe way. Avicenna indeed recommends a ligature of the vein; but how 'tis to be done he saith not, nor knew he himself I wot, nor any of the spawn of Ishmael. For me, I have no faith in such tricksy expedients; and take this with you for a safe principle: 'Whatever an Arab or Arabist says is right, must be wrong.'"
"Oh, I see now what 'tis for," said Denys; "and art thou so simple as to let him put hot iron to thy living flesh? didst ever keep thy little finger but ten moments in a candle? and this will be as many minutes. Art not content to burn in purgatory after thy death? must thou needs buy a foretaste on't here?"
"I never thought of that," said Gerard gravely; "the good doctor spake not of burning, but of cautery; to be sure 'tis all one, but cautery sounds not so fearful as burning."
"Imbecile! That is their art; to confound a plain man with dark words, till his hissing flesh lets him know their meaning. Now listen to what I have seen. When a soldier bleeds from a wound in battle, these leeches say, 'Fever. Blood him!' and so they burn the wick at t'other end too. They bleed the bled. Now at fever's heels comes desperate weakness; then the man needs all his blood to live; but these prickers and burners, having no forethought, recking nought of what is sure to come in a few hours, and seeing like brute beasts only what is under their noses, having meantime robbed him of the very blood his hurt had spared him to battle that weakness withal; and so he dies exhausted. Hundreds have I seen so scratched and pricked out of the world, Gerard, and tall fellows too; but lo! if they have the luck to be wounded where no doctor can be had, then they live; this too have I seen. Had I ever outlived that field in Brabant but for my most lucky mischance, lack of chirurgery? The frost chocked all my bleeding wounds, and so I lived. A chirurgeon had pricked yet one more hole in this my body with his lance, and drained my last drop out, and my spirit with it. Seeing them thus distraught in bleeding of the bleeding soldier, I place no trust in them; for what slays a veteran may well lay a milk-and-water bourgeois low."
"This sounds like common sense," sighed Gerard languidly, "but no need to raise your voice so; I was not born deaf, and just now I hear acutely."
"Common sense! very common sense indeed," shouted the bad listener; "why, this is a soldier; a brute whose business is to kill men, not cure them." He added in very tolerable French, "Woe be to you, unlearned man, if you come between a physician and his patient; and woe be to you, misguided youth, if you listen to that man of blood."
"Much obliged," said Denys, with mock politeness; "but I am a true man, and would rob no man of his name. I do somewhat in the way of blood, but not worth mention in this presence. For one I slay, you slay a score; and for one spoonful of blood I draw, you spill a tubful. The world is still gulled by shows. We soldiers vapour with long swords, and even in war be-get two foes for every one we kill; but you smooth gownsmen, with soft phrases and bare bodkins, 'tis you that thin mankind."
"A sick chamber is no place for jesting," cried the physician.
"No, doctor, nor for bawling," said the patient peevishly.
"Come, young man," said the senior kindly, "be reasonable. Cuilibet in sua arte credendum est. My whole life has been given to this art. I studied at Montpelier; the first school in France, and by consequence in Europe. There learned I Dririmancy, Scatomancy, Pathology, Therapeusis, and, greater than them all, Anatomy. For there we disciples of Hippocrates and Galen had opportunities those great ancients never knew. Goodbye, quadrupeds and apes, and paganism, and Mohammedanism; we bought of the churchwardens, we shook the gallows; we undid the sexton's work of dark nights, penetrated with love of science and our kind; all the authorities had their orders from Paris to wink; and they winked. Gods of Olympus, how they winked! The gracious king assisted us: he sent us twice a year a living criminal condemned to die, and said, 'Deal ye with him as science asks; dissect him alive, if ye think fit.'"
"By the liver of Herod, and Nero's bowels, he'll make me blush for the land that bore me, an' if he praises it any more," shouted Denys at the top of his voice.
Gerard gave a little squawk, and put his fingers in his ears; but speedily drew them out and shouted angrily, and as loudly, "you great roaring, blaspheming bull of Basan, hold your noisy tongue!"
Denys summoned a contrite look.
"Tush, slight man," said the doctor, with calm contempt, and vibrated a hand over him as in this age men make a pointer dog down charge; then flowed majestic on. "We seldom or never dissected the living criminal, except in part. We mostly inoculated them with such diseases as the barren time afforded, selecting of course the more interesting ones."
"That means the foulest," whispered Denys meekly.
"These we watched through all their stages to maturity."
"Meaning the death of the poor rogue," whispered Denys meekly.
"And now, my poor sufferer, who best merits your confidence, this honest soldier with his youth, his ignorance, and his prejudices, or a greybeard laden with the gathered wisdom of ages?"
"That is," cried Denys impatiently, "will you believe what a jackdaw in a long gown has heard from a starling in a long gown, who heard it from a jay-pie, who heard it from a magpie, who heard it from a popinjay; or will you believe what I, a man with nought to gain by looking awry, nor speaking false, have seen; nor heard with the ears which are given us to gull us, but seen with these sentinels mine eye, seen, seen; to wit, that fevered and blooded men die, that fevered men not blooded live? stay, who sent for this sang-sue? Did you?"
"Not I. I thought you had."
"Nay," explained the doctor, "the good landlord told me one was 'down' in his house; so I said to myself, 'A stranger, and in need of my art,' and came incontinently."
"It was the act of a good Christian, sir."
"Of a good bloodhound," cried Denys contemptuously. "What, art thou so green as not to know that all these landlords are in league with certain of their fellow-citizens, who pay them toll on each booty? Whatever you pay this ancient for stealing your life blood, of that the landlord takes his third for betraying you to him. Nay, more, as soon as ever your blood goes down the stair in that basin there, the landlord will see it or smell it, and send swiftly to his undertaker and get his third out of that job. For if he waited till the doctor got downstairs, the doctor would be beforehand and bespeak his undertaker, and then he would get the black thirds. Say I sooth, old Rouge et Noir? dites!"
"Denys, Denys, who taught you to think so ill of man?"
"Mine eyes, that are not to be gulled by what men say, seeing this many a year what they do, in all the lands I travel."
The doctor with some address made use of these last words to escape the personal question. "I too have eyes as well as thou, and go not by tradition only, but by what I have seen, and not only seen, but done. I have healed as many men by bleeding as that interloping Arabist has killed for want of it. 'Twas but t'other day I healed one threatened with leprosy; I but bled him at the tip of the nose. I cured last year a quartan ague: how? bled its forefinger. Our cure lost his memory. I brought it him back on the point of my lance; I bled him behind the ear. I bled a dolt of a boy, and now he is the only one who can tell his right hand from his left in a whole family of idiots. When the plague was here years ago, no sham plague, such as empyrics proclaim every six years or so, but the good honest Byzantine pest, I blooded an alderman freely, and cauterized the symptomatic buboes, and so pulled him out of the grave; whereas our then chirurgeon, a most pernicious Arabist, caught it himself, and died of it, aha, calling on Rhazes, Avicenna, and Mahound, who, could they have come, had all perished as miserably as himself."
"Oh, my poor ears," sighed Gerard.
"And am I fallen so low that one of your presence and speech rejects my art and listens to a rude soldier, so far behind even his own miserable trade as to bear an arbalest, a worn-out invention, that German children shoot at pigeons with, but German soldiers mock at since ever arquebusses came and put them down?"
"You foul-mouthed old charlatan," cried Denys, "the arbalest is shouldered by taller men than ever stood in Rhenish hose, and even now it kills as many more than your noisy, stinking arquebus, as the lancet does than all our toys together. Go to! He was no fool who first called you 'leeches.' Sang-sues! va!"
Gerard groaned. "By the holy virgin, I wish you were both at Jericho, bellowing.'
"Thank you comrade. Then I'll bark no more, but at need I'll bite. If he has a lance, I have a sword; if he bleeds you, I'll bleed him. The moment his lance pricks your skin, little one, my sword-hilt knocks against his ribs; I have said it."
And Denys turned pale, folded his arms, and looked gloomy and dangerous.
Gerard sighed wearily. "Now, as all this is about me, give me leave to say a word."
"Ay! let the young man choose life or death for himself."
Gerard then indirectly rebuked his noisy counsellors by contrast and example. He spoke with unparalleled calmness, sweetness, and gentleness. And these were the words of Gerard the son of Eli. "I doubt not you both mean me well; but you assassinate me between you. Calmness and quiet are everything to me; but you are like two dogs growling over a bone. And in sooth, bone I should be, did this uproar last long."
There was a dead silence, broken only by the silvery voice of Gerard, as he lay tranquil, and gazed calmly at the ceiling, and trickled into words.
"First, venerable sir, I thank you for coming to see me, whether from humanity, or in the way of honest gain; all trades must live.
"Your learning, reverend sir, seems great, to me at least, and for your experience, your age voucheth it.
"You say you have bled many, and of these many, many have not died thereafter, but lived, and done well. I must needs believe you."
The physician bowed; Denys grunted.
"Others, you say, you have bled, and-they are dead. I must needs believe you.
"Denys knows few things compared with you, but he knows them well. He is a man not given to conjecture. This I myself have noted. He says he has seen the fevered and blooded for the most part die; the fevered and not blooded live. I must needs believe him.
"Here, then, all is doubt.
"But thus much is certain; if I be bled, I must pay you a fee, and be burnt and excruciated with a hot iron, who am no felon.
"Pay a certain price in money and anguish for a doubtful remedy, that will I never.
"Next to money and ease, peace and quiet are certain goods, above all in a sick-room; but 'twould seem men cannot argue medicine without heat and raised voices; therefore, sir, I will essay a little sleep, and Denys will go forth and gaze on the females of the place, and I will keep you no longer from those who can afford to lay out blood and money in flebotomy and cautery."
The old physician had naturally a hot temper; he had often during this battle of words mastered it with difficulty, and now it mastered him. The most dignified course was silence; he saw this, and drew himself up, and made loftily for the door, followed close by his little boy and big basket.
But at the door he choked, he swelled, he burst. He whirled and came back open-mouthed, and the little boy and big basket had to whisk semicircularly not to be run down, for de minimis non curat Medicina-even when not in a rage.
"Ah! you reject my skill, you scorn my art. My revenge shall be to leave you to yourself; lost idiot, take your last look at me, and at the sun. Your blood be on your head!" And away he stamped.
But on reaching the door he whirled and came back; his wicker tail twirling round after him like a cat's.
"In twelve hours at furthest you will be in the secondary stage of fever. Your head will split. Your carotids will thump. Aha! And let but a pin fall, you will jump to the ceiling. Then send for me; and I'll not come." He departed. But at the door-handle gathered fury, wheeled and came flying, with pale, terror-stricken boy and wicker tail whisking after him. "Next will come—CRAMPS of the STOMACH. Aha!
"Then—BILIOUS VOMIT. Aha!
"Then—COLD SWEAT, and DEADLY STUPOR.
"Then—CONFUSION OF ALL THE SENSES.
"And after that nothing can save you, not even I; and if I could I would not, and so farewell!"
Even Denys changed colour at threats so fervent and precise; but Gerard only gnashed his teeth with rage at the noise, and seized his hard bolster with kindling eye.
This added fuel to the fire, and brought the insulted ancient back from the impassable door, with his whisking train.
"And after that—MADNESS!
"And after that—BLACK VOMIT
"And then—THAT CESSATION OF ALL VITAL FUNCTIONS THE VULGAR CALL 'DEATH,' for which thank your own Satanic folly and insolence. Farewell." He went. He came. He roared, "And think not to be buried in any Christian church-yard; for the bailiff is my good friend, and I shall tell him how and why you died: felo de se! felo de se! Farewell."
Gerard sprang to his feet on the bed by some supernatural gymnastic power excitement lent him, and seeing him so moved, the vindictive orator came back at him fiercer than ever, to launch some master-threat the world has unhappily lost; for as he came with his whisking train, and shaking his fist, Gerard hurled the bolster furiously in his face and knocked him down like a shot, the boy's head cracked under his falling master's, and crash went the dumb-stricken orator into the basket, and there sat wedged in an inverted angle, crushing phial after phial. The boy, being light, was strewed afar, but in a squatting posture; so that they sat in a sequence, like graduated specimens, the smaller howling. But soon the doctor's face filled with horror, and he uttered a far louder and unearthly screech, and kicked and struggled with wonderful agility for one of his age.
He was sitting on the hot coals.
They had singed the cloth and were now biting the man. Struggling wildly but vainly to get out of the basket, he rolled yelling over with it sideways, and lo! a great hissing; then the humane Gerard ran and wrenched off the tight basket not without a struggle. The doctor lay on his face groaning, handsomely singed with his own chafer, and slaked a moment too late by his own villainous compounds, which, however, being as various and even beautiful in colour as they were odious in taste, had strangely diversified his grey robe, and painted it more gaudy than neat.
Gerard and Denys raised him up and consoled him. "Courage, man, 'tis but cautery; balm of Gilead, why, you recommend it but now to my comrade here."
The physician replied only by a look of concentrated spite, and went out in dead silence, thrusting his stomach forth before him in the drollest way. The boy followed him next moment but in that slight interval he left off whining, burst into a grin, and conveyed to the culprits by an unrefined gesture his accurate comprehension of, and rapturous though compressed joy at, his master's disaster.
THE worthy physician went home and told his housekeeper he was in agony from "a bad burn." Those were the words. For in phlogistic as in other things, we cauterize our neighbour's digits, but burn our own fingers. His housekeeper applied some old women's remedy mild as milk. He submitted like a lamb to her experience: his sole object in the case of this patient being cure: meantime he made out his bill for broken phials, and took measures to have the travellers imprisoned at once. He made oath before a magistrate that they, being strangers and indebted to him, meditated instant flight from the township.
Alas! it was his unlucky day. His sincere desire and honest endeavour to perjure himself were baffled by a circumstance he had never foreseen nor indeed thought possible.
He had spoken the truth.
And IN AN AFFIDAVIT!
The officers, on reaching "The Silver Lion", found the birds were flown.
They went down to the river, and from intelligence they received there, started up the bank in hot pursuit.
This temporary escape the friends owed to Denys's good sense and observation. After a peal of laughter, that it was a cordial to hear, and after venting his watchword three times, he turned short grave, and told Gerard Dusseldorf was no place for them. "That old fellow," said he, "went off unnaturally silent for such a babbler: we are strangers here; the bailiff is his friend: in five minutes we shall lie in a dungeon for assaulting a Dusseldorf dignity, are you strong enough to hobble to the water's edge? it is hard by. Once there you have but to lie down in a boat instead of a bed; and what is the odds?"
"The odds, Denys? untold, and all in favour of the boat. I pine for Rome; for Rome is my road to Sevenbergen; and then we shall lie in the boat, but ON the Rhine, the famous Rhine; the cool, refreshing Rhine. I feel its breezes coming: the very sight will cure a little hop-'o-my-thumb fever like mine; away! away!"
Finding his excitable friend in this mood, Denys settled hastily with the landlord, and they hurried to the river. On inquiry they found to their dismay that the public boat was gone this half hour, and no other would start that day, being afternoon. By dint, however, of asking a great many questions, and collecting a crowd, they obtained an offer of a private boat from an old man and his two sons.
This was duly ridiculed by a bystander. "The current is too strong for three oars."
"Then my comrade and I will help row," said the invalid.
"No need," said the old man. "Bless your silly heart, he owns t'other boat."
There was a powerful breeze right astern; the boatmen set a broad sail, and rowing also, went off at a spanking rate.
"Are ye better, lad, for the river breeze?"
"Much better. But indeed the doctor did me good."
"The doctor? Why, you would none of his cures."
"No, but I mean—you will say I am nought—but knocking the old fool down—somehow—it soothed me."
"Amiable dove! how thy little character opens more and more every day, like a rosebud. I read thee all wrong at first."
"Nay, Denys, mistake me not, neither. I trust I had borne with his idle threats, though in sooth his voice went through my poor ears; but he was an infidel, or next door to one, and such I have been taught to abhor. Did he not as good as say, we owed our inward parts to men with long Greek names, and not to Him, whose name is but a syllable, but whose hand is over all the earth? Pagan!"
"So you knocked him down forthwith—like a good Christian."
"Now, Denys, you will still be jesting. Take not an ill man's part. Had it been a thunderbolt from Heaven, he had met but his due; yet he took but a sorry bolster from this weak arm."
"What weak arm?" inquired Denys, with twinkling eyes. "I have lived among arms, and by Samson's hairy pow never saw I one more like a catapult. The bolster wrapped round his nose and the two ends kissed behind his head, and his forehead resounded, and had he been Goliath, or Julius Caesar, instead of an old quacksalver, down he had gone. St. Denys guard me from such feeble opposites as thou! and above all from their weak arms—thou diabolical young hypocrite."
The river took many turns, and this sometimes brought the wind on their side instead of right astern. Then they all moved to the weather side to prevent the boat heeling over too much all but a child of about five years old, the grandson of the boatman, and his darling; this urchin had slipped on board at the moment of starting, and being too light to affect the boat's trim, was above, or rather below, the laws of navigation.
They sailed merrily on, little conscious that they were pursued by a whole posse of constables armed with the bailiff's writ, and that their pursuers were coming up with them; for if the wind was strong, so was the current.
And now Gerard suddenly remembered that this was a very good way to Rome, but not to Burgundy. "Oh, Denys," said he, with an almost alarmed look, "this is not your road."
"I know it," said Denys quietly; "but what can I do? I cannot leave thee till the fever leaves thee; and it is on thee still, for thou art both red and white by turns; I have watched thee. I must e'en go on to Cologne, I doubt, and then strike across."
"Thank Heaven," said Gerard joyfully. He added eagerly, with a little touch of self-deception, "'Twere a sin to be so near Cologne and not see it. Oh, man, it is a vast and ancient city such as I have often dreamed of, but ne'er had the good luck to see. Me miserable, by what hard fortune do I come to it now? Well then, Denys," continued the young man less warmly, "it is old enough to have been founded by a Roman lady in the first century of grace, and sacked by Attila the barbarous, and afterwards sore defaced by the Norman Lothaire. And it has a church for every week in the year forbye chapels and churches innumerable of convents and nunneries, and above all, the stupendous minster yet unfinished, and therein, but in their own chapel, lie the three kings that brought gifts to our Lord, Melchior gold, and Gaspar frankincense, and Balthazar the black king, he brought myrrh; and over their bones stands the shrine the wonder of the world; it is of ever-shining brass brighter than gold, studded with images fairly wrought, and inlaid with exquisite devices, and brave with colours; and two broad stripes run to and fro, of jewels so great, so rare, each might adorn a crown or ransom its wearer at need; and upon it stand the three kings curiously counterfeited, two in solid silver, richly gilt; these be bareheaded; but he of Aethiop ebony, and beareth a golden crown; and in the midst our blessed Lady, in virgin silver, with Christ in her arms; and at the corners, in golden branches, four goodly waxen tapers do burn night and day. Holy eyes have watched and renewed that light unceasingly for ages, and holy eyes shall watch them in saecula. I tell thee, Denys, the oldest song, the oldest Flemish or German legend, found them burning, and they shall light the earth to its grave. And there is St. Ursel's church, a British saint's, where lie her bones and all the other virgins her fellows; eleven thousand were they who died for the faith, being put to the sword by barbarous Moors, on the twenty-third day of October, two hundred and thirty-eight. Their bones are piled in the vaults, and many of their skulls are in the church. St. Ursel's is in a thin golden case, and stands on the high altar, but shown to humble Christians only on solemn days."
"Eleven thousand virgins!" cried Denys. "What babies German men must have been in days of yore. Well, would all their bones might turn flesh again, and their skulls sweet faces, as we pass through the gates. 'Tis odds but some of them are wearied of their estate by this time."
"Tush, Denys!" said Gerard; "why wilt thou, being good, still make thyself seem evil? If thy wishing-cap be on, pray that we may meet the meanest she of all those wise virgins in the next world, and to that end let us reverence their holy dust in this one. And then there is the church of the Maccabees, and the cauldron in which they and their mother Solomona were boiled by a wicked king for refusing to eat swine's flesh."
"Oh, peremptory king! and pig-headed Maccabees! I had eaten bacon with my pork liever than change places at the fire with my meat."
"What scurvy words are these? it was their faith."
"Nay, bridle thy choler, and tell me, are there nought but churches in this thy so vaunted city? for I affect rather Sir Knight than Sir Priest."
"Ay, marry, there is an university near a hundred years old; and there is a market-place, no fairer in the world, and at the four sides of it houses great as palaces; and there is a stupendous senate-house all covered with images, and at the head of them stands one of stout Herman Gryn, a soldier like thyself, lad."
"Ay. Tell me of him! what feat of arms earned him his niche?"
"A rare one. He slew a lion in fair combat, with nought but his cloak and a short sword. He thrust the cloak in the brute's mouth, and cut his spine in twain, and there is the man's effigy and eke the lion's to prove it. The like was never done but by three more, I ween; Samson was one, and Lysimachus of Macedon another, and Benaiah, a captain of David's host."
"Marry! three tall fellows. I would like well to sup with them all to-night."
"So would not I," said Gerard drily.
"But tell me," said Denys, with some surprise, "when wast thou in Cologne?"
"Never but in the spirit. I prattle with the good monks by the way, and they tell me all the notable things both old and new.
"Ay, ay, have not I seen your nose under their very cowls? But when I speak of matters that are out of sight, my words they are small, and the thing it was big; now thy words be as big or bigger than the things; art a good limner with thy tongue; I have said it; and for a saint, as ready with hand, or steel, or bolster—as any poor sinner living; and so, shall I tell thee which of all these things thou hast described draws me to Cologne?"