Infomotions, Inc.Jurgen A Comedy of Justice / Cabell, James Branch, 1879-1958



Author: Cabell, James Branch, 1879-1958
Title: Jurgen A Comedy of Justice
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): jurgen; says jurgen; mother sereda; dame lisa; heitman michael; king smoit; king jurgen; queen helen; now jurgen; jurgen went; jurgen came; jurgen saw; gogyrvan gawr
Contributor(s): Garnett, Constance, 1861-1946 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 97,463 words (short) Grade range: 9-11 (high school) Readability score: 62 (easy)
Identifier: etext8771
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Title: Jurgen
       A Comedy of Justice

Author: James Branch Cabell

Release Date: August, 2005 [EBook #8771]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on August 12, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JURGEN ***




Produced by Suzanne L. Shell, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
With thanks to the McCain Library, Agnes Scott College.





JURGEN

_A Comedy of Justice_



By

JAMES BRANCH CABELL

1922



   _"Of JURGEN eke they maken mencioun,
   That of an old wyf gat his youthe agoon,
   And gat himselfe a shirte as bright as fyre
   Wherein to jape, yet gat not his desire
   In any countrie ne condicioun."_






TO

BURTON RASCOE

     Before each tarradiddle,
   Uncowed by sciolists,
   Robuster persons twiddle
   Tremendously big fists.

     "Our gods are good," they tell us;
   "Nor will our gods defer
   Remission of rude fellows'
   Ability to err."

     So this, your JURGEN, travels
   Content to compromise
   Ordainments none unravels
   Explicitly ... and sighs.





      *       *       *       *       *


"Others, with better moderation, do either entertain the vulgar
history of Jurgen as a fabulous addition unto the true and authentic
story of St. Iurgenius of Poictesme, or else we conceive the literal
acception to be a misconstruction of the symbolical expression:
apprehending a veritable history, in an emblem or piece of Christian
poesy. And this emblematical construction hath been received by men
not forward to extenuate the acts of saints."

                                        --PHILIP BORSDALE.


"A forced construction is very idle. If readers of _The High
History of Jurgen_ do not meddle with the allegory, the allegory
will not meddle with them. Without minding it at all, the whole is
as plain as a pikestaff. It might as well be pretended that we
cannot see Poussin's pictures without first being told the allegory,
as that the allegory aids us in understanding _Jurgen_."

                                        --E. NOEL CODMAN.


"Too urbane to advocate delusion, too hale for the bitterness of
irony, this fable of Jurgen is, as the world itself, a book wherein
each man will find what his nature enables him to see; which gives
us back each his own image; and which teaches us each the lesson
that each of us desires to learn."

                                        --JOHN FREDERICK LEWISTAM.


      *       *       *       *       *




_CONTENTS_

        A FOREWORD: WHICH ASSERTS NOTHING

      I WHY JURGEN DID THE MANLY THING

     II ASSUMPTION OF A NOTED GARMENT

    III THE GARDEN BETWEEN DAWN AND SUNRISE

     IV THE DOROTHY WHO DID NOT UNDERSTAND

      V REQUIREMENTS OF BREAD AND BUTTER

     VI SHOWING THAT SEREDA IS FEMININE

    VII OF COMPROMISES ON A WEDNESDAY

   VIII OLD TOYS AND A NEW SHADOW

     IX THE ORTHODOX RESCUE OF GUENEVERE

      X PITIFUL DISGUISES OF THRAGNAR

     XI APPEARANCE OF THE DUKE OF LOGREUS

    XII EXCURSUS OF YOLANDE'S UNDOING

   XIII PHILOSOPHY OF GOGYRVAN GAWR

    XIV PRELIMINARY TACTICS OF DUKE JURGEN

     XV OF COMPROMISES IN GLATHION

    XVI DIVERS IMBROGLIOS OF KING SMOIT

   XVII ABOUT A COCK THAT CROWED TOO SOON

  XVIII WHY MERLIN TALKED IN TWILIGHT

    XIX THE BROWN MAN WITH QUEER FEET

     XX EFFICACY OF PRAYER

    XXI HOW ANAITIS VOYAGED

   XXII AS TO A VEIL THEY BROKE

  XXIII SHORTCOMINGS OF PRINCE JURGEN

   XXIV OF COMPROMISES IN COCAIGNE

    XXV CANTRAPS OF THE MASTER PHILOLOGIST

   XXVI IN TIME'S HOUR-GLASS

  XXVII VEXATIOUS ESTATE OF QUEEN HELEN

 XXVIII OF COMPROMISES IN LEUKE

   XXIX CONCERNING HORVENDILE'S NONSENSE

    XXX ECONOMICS OF KING JURGEN

   XXXI THE FALL OF PSEUDOPOLIS

  XXXII SUNDRY DEVICES OF THE PHILISTINES

 XXXIII FAREWELL TO CHLORIS

  XXXIV HOW EMPEROR JURGEN FARED INFERNALLY

   XXXV WHAT GRANDFATHER SATAN REPORTED

  XXXVI WHY COTH WAS CONTRADICTED

 XXXVII INVENTION OF THE LOVELY VAMPIRE

XXXVIII AS TO APPLAUDED PRECEDENTS

  XXXIX OF COMPROMISES IN HELL

     XL THE ASCENSION OF POPE JURGEN

    XLI OF COMPROMISES IN HEAVEN

   XLII TWELVE THAT ARE FRETTED HOURLY

  XLIII POSTURES BEFORE A SHADOW

   XLIV IN THE MANAGER'S OFFICE

    XLV THE FAITH OF GUENEVERE

   XLVI THE DESIRE OF ANAITIS

  XLVII THE VISION OF HELEN

 XLVIII CANDID OPINIONS OF DAME LISA

   XLIX OF THE COMPROMISE WITH KOSHCHEI

      L THE MOMENT THAT DID NOT COUNT




A FOREWORD

_"Nescio quid certe est: et Hylax in limine latrat."_




_A Foreword: Which Asserts Nothing._


In Continental periodicals not more than a dozen articles in all
would seem to have given accounts or partial translations of the
Jurgen legends. No thorough investigation of this epos can be said
to have appeared in print, anywhere, prior to the publication, in
1913, of the monumental _Synopses of Aryan Mythology_ by Angelo
de Ruiz. It is unnecessary to observe that in this exhaustive digest
Professor de Ruiz has given (VII, p. 415 _et sequentia_) a
summary of the greater part of these legends as contained in the
collections of Verville and Buelg; and has discussed at length and
with much learning the esoteric meaning of these folk-stories and
their bearing upon questions to which the "solar theory" of myth
explanation has given rise. To his volumes, and to the pages of Mr.
Lewistam's _Key to the Popular Tales of Poictesme_, must be
referred all those who may elect to think of Jurgen as the
resplendent, journeying and procreative sun.

Equally in reading hereinafter will the judicious waive all
allegorical interpretation, if merely because the suggestions
hitherto advanced are inconveniently various. Thus Verville
finds the Nessus shirt a symbol of retribution, where Buelg,
with rather wide divergence, would have it represent the dangerous
gift of genius. Then it may be remembered that Dr. Codman says,
without any hesitancy, of Mother Sereda: "This Mother Middle is
the world generally (an obvious anagram of _Erda es_), and this
Sereda rules not merely the middle of the working-days but the
midst of everything. She is the factor of _middleness_, of
mediocrity, of an avoidance of extremes, of the eternal compromise
begotten by use and wont. She is the Mrs. Grundy of the Leshy; she is
Comstockery: and her shadow is common-sense." Yet Codman speaks with
certainly no more authority than Prote, when the latter, in his
_Origins of Fable_, declares this epos is "a parable of ... man's
vain journeying in search of that rationality and justice which his
nature craves, and discovers nowhere in the universe: and the shirt
is an emblem of this instinctive craving, as ... the shadow symbolizes
conscience. Sereda typifies a surrender to life as it is, a giving up
of man's rebellious self-centredness and selfishness: the anagram being
_se dare_."

Thus do interpretations throng and clash, and neatly equal the
commentators in number. Yet possibly each one of these unriddlings,
with no doubt a host of others, is conceivable: so that wisdom will
dwell upon none of them very seriously.

With the origin and the occult meaning of the folklore of Poictesme
this book at least is in no wise concerned: its unambitious aim has
been merely to familiarize English readers with the Jurgen epos for
the tale's sake. And this tale of old years is one which, by rare
fortune, can be given to English readers almost unabridged, in view
of the singular delicacy and pure-mindedness of the Jurgen mythos:
in all, not more than a half-dozen deletions have seemed expedient
(and have been duly indicated) in order to remove such sparse and
unimportant outcroppings of mediaeval frankness as might conceivably
offend the squeamish.

Since this volume is presented simply as a story to be read for
pastime, neither morality nor symbolism is hereinafter educed, and
no "parallels" and "authorities" are quoted. Even the gaps are left
unbridged by guesswork: whereas the historic and mythological
problems perhaps involved are relinquished to those really
thoroughgoing scholars whom erudition qualifies to deal with such
topics, and tedium does not deter....

In such terms, and thus far, ran the Foreword to the first issues of
this book, whose later fortunes have made necessary the lengthening
of the Foreword with a postscript. The needed addition--this much at
least chiming with good luck--is brief. It is just that fragment
which some scholars, since the first appearance of this volume, have
asserted--upon what perfect frankness must describe as not
indisputable grounds--to be a portion of the thirty-second chapter
of the complete form of _La Haulte Histoire de Jurgen_.

And in reply to what these scholars assert, discretion says nothing.
For this fragment was, of course, unknown when the High History was
first put into English, and there in consequence appears, here,
little to be won either by endorsing or denying its claims to
authenticity. Rather, does discretion prompt the appending, without
any gloss or scholia, of this fragment, which deals with

    _The Judging of Jurgen._

Now a court was held by the Philistines to decide whether or no King
Jurgen should be relegated to limbo. And when the judges were
prepared for judging, there came into the court a great tumblebug,
rolling in front of him his loved and properly housed young ones.
With the creature came pages, in black and white, bearing a sword, a
staff and a lance.

This insect looked at Jurgen, and its pincers rose erect in horror.
The bug cried to the three judges, "Now, by St. Anthony! this Jurgen
must forthwith be relegated to limbo, for he is offensive and lewd
and lascivious and indecent."

"And how can that be?" says Jurgen.

"You are offensive," the bug replied, "because this page has a sword
which I choose to say is not a sword. You are lewd because that page
has a lance which I prefer to think is not a lance. You are
lascivious because yonder page has a staff which I elect to declare
is not a staff. And finally, you are indecent for reasons of which a
description would be objectionable to me, and which therefore I must
decline to reveal to anybody."

"Well, that sounds logical," says Jurgen, "but still, at the same
time, it would be no worse for an admixture of common-sense. For you
gentlemen can see for yourselves, by considering these pages fairly
and as a whole, that these pages bear a sword and a lance and a
staff, and nothing else whatever; and you will deduce, I hope, that
all the lewdness is in the insectival mind of him who itches to be
calling these things by other names."

The judges said nothing as yet. But they that guarded Jurgen, and
all the other Philistines, stood to this side and to that side with
their eyes shut tight, and all these said: "We decline to look at
the pages fairly and as a whole, because to look might seem to imply
a doubt of what the tumblebug has decreed. Besides, as long as the
tumblebug has reasons which he declines to reveal, his reasons stay
unanswerable, and you are plainly a prurient rascal who are making
trouble for yourself."

"To the contrary," says Jurgen, "I am a poet, and I make
literature."

"But in Philistia to make literature and to make trouble for
yourself are synonyms," the tumblebug explained. "I know, for
already we of Philistia have been pestered by three of these makers
of literature. Yes, there was Edgar, whom I starved and hunted until
I was tired of it: then I chased him up a back alley one night, and
knocked out those annoying brains of his. And there was Walt, whom I
chivvied and battered from place to place, and made a paralytic of
him: and him, too, I labelled offensive and lewd and lascivious and
indecent. Then later there was Mark, whom I frightened into
disguising himself in a clown's suit, so that nobody might suspect
him to be a maker of literature: indeed, I frightened him so that he
hid away the greater part of what he had made until after he was
dead, and I could not get at him. That was a disgusting trick to
play on me, I consider. Still, these are the only three detected
makers of literature that have ever infested Philistia, thanks be to
goodness and my vigilance, but for both of which we might have been
no more free from makers of literature than are the other
countries."

"Now, but these three," cried Jurgen, "are the glory of Philistia:
and of all that Philistia has produced, it is these three alone,
whom living ye made least of, that to-day are honored wherever art
is honored, and where nobody bothers one way or the other about
Philistia."

"What is art to me and my way of living?" replied the tumblebug,
wearily. "I have no concern with art and letters and the other lewd
idols of foreign nations. I have in charge the moral welfare of my
young, whom I roll here before me, and trust with St. Anthony's aid
to raise in time to be God-fearing tumblebugs like me, delighting in
what is proper to their nature. For the rest, I have never minded
dead men being well-spoken-of. No, no, my lad: once whatever I may
do means nothing to you, and once you are really rotten, you will
find the tumblebug friendly enough. Meanwhile I am paid to protest
that living persons are offensive and lewd and lascivious and
indecent, and one must live."

Then the Philistines who stood to this side and to that side said in
indignant unison: "And we, the reputable citizenry of Philistia, are
not at all in sympathy with those who would take any protest against
the tumblebug as a justification of what they are pleased to call
art. The harm done by the tumblebug seems to us very slight, whereas
the harm done by the self-styled artist may be very great."

Jurgen now looked more attentively at this queer creature: and he
saw that the tumblebug was malodorous, certainly, but at bottom
honest and well-meaning; and this seemed to Jurgen the saddest thing
he had found among the Philistines. For the tumblebug was sincere in
his insane doings, and all Philistia honored him sincerely, so that
there was nowhere any hope for this people.

Therefore King Jurgen addressed himself, as his need was, to submit
to the strange customs of the Philistines. "Now do you judge me
fairly," cried Jurgen to his judges, "if there be any justice in
this mad country. And if there be none, do you relegate me to limbo
or to any other place, so long as in that place this tumblebug is
not omnipotent and sincere and insane."

And Jurgen waited....




*       *       *       *       *



 JURGEN

 ... _amara lento temperet risu_




1.

Why Jurgen Did the Manly Thing


It is a tale which they narrate in Poictesme, saying: In the 'old
days lived a pawnbroker named Jurgen; but what his wife called him
was very often much worse than that. She was a high-spirited woman,
with no especial gift for silence. Her name, they say, was Adelais,
but people by ordinary called her Dame Lisa.

They tell, also, that in the old days, after putting up the shop-windows
for the night, Jurgen was passing the Cistercian Abbey, on his way home:
and one of the monks had tripped over a stone in the roadway. He was
cursing the devil who had placed it there.

"Fie, brother!" says Jurgen, "and have not the devils enough to bear
as it is?"

"I never held with Origen," replied the monk; "and besides, it hurt
my great-toe confoundedly."

"None the less," observes Jurgen, "it does not behoove God-fearing
persons to speak with disrespect of the divinely appointed Prince of
Darkness. To your further confusion, consider this monarch's
industry! day and night you may detect him toiling at the task
Heaven set him. That is a thing can be said of few communicants and
of no monks. Think, too, of his fine artistry, as evidenced in all
the perilous and lovely snares of this world, which it is your
business to combat, and mine to lend money upon. Why, but for him we
would both be vocationless! Then, too, consider his philanthropy!
and deliberate how insufferable would be our case if you and I, and
all our fellow parishioners, were to-day hobnobbing with other
beasts in the Garden which we pretend to desiderate on Sundays! To
arise with swine and lie down with the hyena?--oh, intolerable!"

Thus he ran on, devising reasons for not thinking too harshly of the
Devil. Most of it was an abridgement of some verses Jurgen had
composed, in the shop when business was slack.

"I consider that to be stuff and nonsense," was the monk's glose.

"No doubt your notion is sensible," observed the pawnbroker: "but
mine is the prettier."

Then Jurgen passed the Cistercian Abbey, and was approaching
Bellegarde, when he met a black gentleman, who saluted him and said:

"Thanks, Jurgen, for your good word."

"Who are you, and why do you thank me?" asks Jurgen.

"My name is no great matter. But you have a kind heart, Jurgen. May
your life be free from care!"

"Save us from hurt and harm, friend, but I am already married."

"Eh, sirs, and a fine clever poet like you!"

"Yet it is a long while now since I was a practising poet."

"Why, to be sure! You have the artistic temperament, which is not
exactly suited to the restrictions of domestic life. Then I suppose
your wife has her own personal opinion about poetry, Jurgen."

"Indeed, sir, her opinion would not bear repetition, for I am sure
you are unaccustomed to such language."

"This is very sad. I am afraid your wife does not quite understand
you, Jurgen."

"Sir," says Jurgen, astounded, "do you read people's inmost
thoughts?"

The black gentleman seemed much dejected. He pursed his lips, and
fell to counting upon his fingers: as they moved his sharp nails
glittered like flame-points.

"Now but this is a very deplorable thing," says the black gentleman,
"to have befallen the first person I have found ready to speak a
kind word for evil. And in all these centuries, too! Dear me, this
is a most regrettable instance of mismanagement! No matter, Jurgen,
the morning is brighter than the evening. How I will reward you, to
be sure!"

So Jurgen thanked the simple old creature politely. And when Jurgen
reached home his wife was nowhere to be seen. He looked on all sides
and questioned everyone, but to no avail. Dame Lisa had vanished in
the midst of getting supper ready--suddenly, completely and
inexplicably, just as (in Jurgen's figure) a windstorm passes and
leaves behind it a tranquillity which seems, by contrast, uncanny.
Nothing could explain the mystery, short of magic: and Jurgen on a
sudden recollected the black gentleman's queer promise. Jurgen
crossed himself.

"How unjustly now," says Jurgen, "do some people get an ill name for
gratitude! And now do I perceive how wise I am, always to speak
pleasantly of everybody, in this world of tale-bearers."

Then Jurgen prepared his own supper, went to bed, and slept soundly.

"I have implicit confidence," says he, "in Lisa. I have particular
confidence in her ability to take care of herself in any
surroundings."

That was all very well: but time passed, and presently it began to
be rumored that Dame Lisa walked on Morven. Her brother, who was a
grocer and a member of the town-council, went thither to see about
this report. And sure enough, there was Jurgen's wife walking in the
twilight and muttering incessantly.

"Fie, sister!" says the town-councillor, "this is very unseemly
conduct for a married woman, and a thing likely to be talked about."

"Follow me!" replied Dame Lisa. And the town-councillor followed her
a little way in the dusk, but when she came to Amneran Heath and
still went onward, he knew better than to follow.

Next evening the elder sister of Dame Lisa went to Morven. This
sister had married a notary, and was a shrewd woman. In consequence,
she took with her this evening a long wand of peeled willow-wood.
And there was Jurgen's wife walking in the twilight and muttering
incessantly.

"Fie, sister!" says the notary's wife, who was a shrewd woman, "and
do you not know that all this while Jurgen does his own sewing, and
is once more making eyes at Countess Dorothy?"

Dame Lisa shuddered; but she only said, "Follow me!"

And the notary's wife followed her to Amneran Heath, and across the
heath, to where a cave was. This was a place of abominable repute. A
lean hound came to meet them there in the twilight, lolling his
tongue: but the notary's wife struck thrice with her wand, and the
silent beast left them. And Dame Lisa passed silently into the cave,
and her sister turned and went home to her children, weeping.

So the next evening Jurgen himself came to Morven, because all his
wife's family assured him this was the manly thing to do. Jurgen
left the shop in charge of Urien Villemarche, who was a highly
efficient clerk. Jurgen followed his wife across Amneran Heath until
they reached the cave. Jurgen would willingly have been elsewhere.

For the hound squatted upon his haunches, and seemed to grin at
Jurgen; and there were other creatures abroad, that flew low in the
twilight, keeping close to the ground like owls; but they were
larger than owls and were more discomforting. And, moreover, all
this was just after sunset upon Walburga's Eve, when almost anything
is rather more than likely to happen.

So Jurgen said, a little peevishly: "Lisa, my dear, if you go into
the cave I will have to follow you, because it is the manly thing to
do. And you know how easily I take cold."

The voice of Dame Lisa, now, was thin and wailing, a curiously
changed voice. "There is a cross about your neck. You must throw
that away."

Jurgen was wearing such a cross, through motives of sentiment,
because it had once belonged to his dead mother. But now, to
pleasure his wife, he removed the trinket, and hung it on a barberry
bush; and with the reflection that this was likely to prove a
deplorable business, he followed Dame Lisa into the cave.




2.

Assumption of a Noted Garment


The tale tells that all was dark there, and Jurgen could see no one.
But the cave stretched straight forward, and downward, and at the
far end was a glow of light. Jurgen went on and on, and so came
presently to a centaur: and this surprised him not a little, because
Jurgen knew that centaurs were imaginary creatures.

Certainly they were curious to look at: for here was the body of a
fine bay horse, and rising from its shoulders, the sun-burnt body of
a young fellow who regarded Jurgen with grave and not unfriendly
eyes. The Centaur was lying beside a fire of cedar and juniper wood:
near him was a platter containing a liquid with which he was
anointing his hoofs. This stuff, as the Centaur rubbed it in with
his fingers, turned the appearance of his hoofs to gold.

"Hail, friend," says Jurgen, "if you be the work of God."

"Your protasis is not good Greek," observed the Centaur, "because in
Hellas we did not make such reservations. Besides, it is not so much
my origin as my destination which concerns you."

"Well, friend, and whither are you going?"

"To the garden between dawn and sunrise, Jurgen."

"Surely, now, but that is a fine name for a garden! and it is a
place I would take joy to be seeing."

"Up upon my back, Jurgen, and I will take you thither," says the
Centaur, and heaved to his feet. Then said the Centaur, when the
pawnbroker hesitated: "Because, as you must understand, there is no
other way. For this garden does not exist, and never did exist, in
what men humorously called real life; so that of course only
imaginary creatures such as I can enter it."

"That sounds very reasonable," Jurgen estimated: "but as it happens,
I am looking for my wife, whom I suspect to have been carried off by
a devil, poor fellow!"

And Jurgen began to explain to the Centaur what had befallen.

The Centaur laughed. "It may be for that reason I am here. There is,
in any event, only one remedy in this matter. Above all devils--and
above all gods, they tell me, but certainly above all centaurs--is
the power of Koshchei the Deathless, who made things as they are."

"It is not always wholesome," Jurgen submitted, "to speak of
Koshchei. It seems especially undesirable in a dark place like
this."

"None the less, I suspect it is to him you must go for justice."

"I would prefer not doing that," said Jurgen, with unaffected
candor.

"You have my sympathy: but there is no question of preference where
Koshchei is concerned. Do you think, for example, that I am frowzing
in this underground place by my own choice? and knew your name by
accident?"

Jurgen was frightened, a little. "Well, well! but it is usually the
deuce and all, this doing of the manly thing. How, then, can I come
to Koshchei?"

"Roundabout," says the Centaur. "There is never any other way."

"And is the road to this garden roundabout?"

"Oh, very much so, inasmuch as it circumvents both destiny and
common-sense."

"Needs must, then," says Jurgen: "at all events, I am willing to
taste any drink once."

"You will be chilled, though, traveling as you are. For you and I
are going a queer way, in search of justice, over the grave of a
dream and through the malice of time. So you had best put on this
shirt above your other clothing."

"Indeed it is a fine snug shining garment, with curious figures on
it. I accept such raiment gladly. And whom shall I be thanking for
his kindness, now?"

"My name," said the Centaur, "is Nessus."

"Well, then, friend Nessus, I am at your service."

And in a trice Jurgen was on the Centaur's back, and the two of them
had somehow come out of the cave, and were crossing Amneran Heath.
So they passed into a wooded place, where the light of sunset yet
lingered, rather unaccountably. Now the Centaur went westward. And
now about the pawnbroker's shoulders and upon his breast and over
his lean arms glittered like a rainbow the many-colored shirt of
Nessus.

For a while they went through the woods, which were composed of big
trees standing a goodish distance from one another, with the
Centaur's gilded hoofs rustling and sinking in a thick carpet of
dead leaves, all gray and brown, in level stretches that were
unbroken by any undergrowth. And then they came to a white roadway
that extended due west, and so were done with the woods. Now
happened an incredible thing in which Jurgen would never have
believed had he not seen it with his own eyes: for now the Centaur
went so fast that he gained a little by a little upon the sun, thus
causing it to rise in the west a little by a little; and these two
sped westward in the glory of a departed sunset. The sun fell full
in Jurgen's face as he rode straight toward the west, so that he
blinked and closed his eyes, and looked first toward this side, then
the other. Thus it was that the country about him, and the persons
they were passing, were seen by him in quick bright flashes, like
pictures suddenly transmuted into other pictures; and all his
memories of this shining highway were, in consequence, always
confused and incoherent.

He wondered that there seemed to be so many young women along the
road to the garden. Here was a slim girl in white teasing a great
brown and yellow dog that leaped about her clumsily; here a girl sat
in the branches of a twisted and gnarled tree, and back of her was a
broad muddied river, copper-colored in the sun; and here shone the
fair head of a tall girl on horseback, who seemed to wait for
someone: in fine, the girls along the way were numberless, and
Jurgen thought he recollected one or two of them.

But the Centaur went so swiftly that Jurgen could not be sure.




3.

The Garden between Dawn and Sunrise


Thus it was that Jurgen and the Centaur came to the garden between
dawn and sunrise, entering this place in a fashion which it is not
convenient to record. But as they passed over the bridge three fled
before them, screaming. And when the life had been trampled out of
the small furry bodies which these three had misused, there was none
to oppose the Centaur's entry into the garden between dawn and
sunrise.

This was a wonderful garden: yet nothing therein was strange.
Instead, it seemed that everything hereabouts was heart-breakingly
familiar and very dear to Jurgen. For he had come to a broad lawn
which slanted northward to a well-remembered brook: and
multitudinous maples and locust-trees stood here and there,
irregularly, and were being played with very lazily by an irresolute
west wind, so that foliage seemed to toss and ripple everywhere like
green spray: but autumn was at hand, for the locust-trees were
dropping a Danae's shower of small round yellow leaves. Around the
garden was an unforgotten circle of blue hills. And this was a place
of lucent twilight, unlit by either sun or stars, and with no
shadows anywhere in the diffused faint radiancy that revealed this
garden, which is not visible to any man except in the brief interval
between dawn and sunrise.

"Why, but it is Count Emmerick's garden at Storisende," says Jurgen,
"where I used to be having such fine times when I was a lad."

"I will wager," said Nessus, "that you did not use to walk alone in
this garden."

"Well, no; there was a girl."

"Just so," assented Nessus. "It is a local by-law: and here are
those who comply with it."

For now had come toward them, walking together in the dawn, a
handsome boy and girl. And the girl was incredibly beautiful,
because everybody in the garden saw her with the vision of the boy
who was with her. "I am Rudolph," said this boy, "and she is Anne."

"And are you happy here?" asked Jurgen.

"Oh, yes, sir, we are tolerably happy: but Anne's father is very
rich, and my mother is poor, so that we cannot be quite happy until
I have gone into foreign lands and come back with a great many lakhs
of rupees and pieces of eight."

"And what will you do with all this money, Rudolph?"

"My duty, sir, as I see it. But I inherit defective eyesight."

"God speed to you, Rudolph!" said Jurgen, "for many others are in
your plight."

Then came to Jurgen and the Centaur another boy with the small
blue-eyed person in whom he took delight. And this fat and indolent
looking boy informed them that he and the girl who was with him were
walking in the glaze of the red mustard jar, which Jurgen thought
was gibberish: and the fat boy said that he and the girl had decided
never to grow any older, which Jurgen said was excellent good sense
if only they could manage it.

"Oh, I can manage that," said this fat boy, reflectively, "if only I
do not find the managing of it uncomfortable."

Jurgen for a moment regarded him, and then gravely shook hands.

"I feel for you," said Jurgen, "for I perceive that you, too, are a
monstrous clever fellow: so life will get the best of you."

"But is not cleverness the main thing, sir?"

"Time will show you, my lad," says Jurgen, a little sorrowfully.
"And God speed to you, for many others are in your plight."

And a host of boys and girls did Jurgen see in the garden. And all
the faces that Jurgen saw were young and glad and very lovely and
quite heart-breakingly confident, as young persons beyond numbering
came toward Jurgen and passed him there, in the first glow of dawn:
so they all went exulting in the glory of their youth, and
foreknowing life to be a puny antagonist from whom one might take
very easily anything which one desired. And all passed in
couples--"as though they came from the Ark," said Jurgen. But the
Centaur said they followed a precedent which was far older than the
Ark.

"For in this garden," said the Centaur, "each man that ever lived
has sojourned for a little while, with no company save his
illusions. I must tell you again that in this garden are encountered
none but imaginary creatures. And stalwart persons take their hour
of recreation here, and go hence unaccompanied, to become aldermen
and respected merchants and bishops, and to be admired as captains
upon prancing horses, or even as kings upon tall thrones; each in
his station thinking not at all of the garden ever any more. But now
and then come timid persons, Jurgen, who fear to leave this garden
without an escort: so these must need go hence with one or another
imaginary creature, to guide them about alleys and by-paths, because
imaginary creatures find little nourishment in the public highways,
and shun them. Thus must these timid persons skulk about obscurely
with their diffident and skittish guides, and they do not ever
venture willingly into the thronged places where men get horses and
build thrones."

"And what becomes of these timid persons, Centaur?"

"Why, sometimes they spoil paper, Jurgen, and sometimes they spoil
human lives."

"Then are these accursed persons," Jurgen considered.

"You should know best," replied the Centaur.

"Oh, very probably," said Jurgen. "Meanwhile here is one who walks
alone in this garden, and I wonder to see the local by-laws thus
violated."

Now Nessus looked at Jurgen for a while without speaking: and in the
eyes of the Centaur was so much of comprehension and compassion that
it troubled Jurgen. For somehow it made Jurgen fidget and consider
this an unpleasantly personal way of looking at anybody.

"Yes, certainly," said the Centaur, "this woman walks alone. But
there is no help for her loneliness, since the lad who loved this
woman is dead."

"Nessus, I am willing to be reasonably sorry about it. Still, is
there any need of pulling quite such a portentously long face? After
all, a great many other persons have died, off and on: and for
anything I can say to the contrary, this particular young fellow may
have been no especial loss to anybody."

Again the Centaur said, "You should know best."




4.

The Dorothy Who Did Not Understand


For now had come to Jurgen and the Centaur a gold-haired woman,
clothed all in white, and walking alone. She was tall, and lovely
and tender to regard: and hers was not the red and white comeliness
of many ladies that were famed for beauty, but rather it had the
even glow of ivory. Her nose was large and high in the bridge, her
flexible mouth was not of the smallest: and yet whatever other
persons might have said, to Jurgen this woman's countenance was in
all things perfect. Perhaps this was because he never saw her as she
was. For certainly the color of her eyes stayed a matter never
revealed to him: gray, blue or green, there was no saying: they
varied as does the sea; but always these eyes were lovely and
friendly and perturbing.

Jurgen remembered that: for Jurgen saw this was Count Emmerick's
second sister, Dorothy la Desiree, whom Jurgen very long ago (a many
years before he met Dame Lisa and set up in business as a
pawnbroker) had hymned in innumerable verses as Heart's Desire.

"And this is the only woman whom I ever loved," Jurgen remembered,
upon a sudden. For people cannot always be thinking of these
matters.

So he saluted her, with such deference as is due to a countess from
a tradesman, and yet with unforgotten tremors waking in his staid
body. But the strangest was yet to be seen, for he noted now that
this was not a handsome woman in middle life but a young girl.

"I do not understand," he said, aloud: "for you are Dorothy. And yet
it seems to me that you are not the Countess Dorothy who is Heitman
Michael's wife."

And the girl tossed her fair head, with that careless lovely gesture
which the Countess had forgotten. "Heitman Michael is well enough,
for a nobleman, and my brother is at me day and night to marry the
man: and certainly Heitman Michael's wife will go in satin and
diamonds at half the courts of Christendom, with many lackeys to
attend her. But I am not to be thus purchased."

"So you told a boy that I remember, very long ago. Yet you married
Heitman Michael, for all that, and in the teeth of a number of other
fine declarations."

"Oh, no, not I," said this Dorothy, wondering. "I never married
anybody. And Heitman Michael has never married anybody, either, old
as he is. For he is twenty-eight, and looks every day of it! But who
are you, friend, that have such curious notions about me?"

"That question I will answer, just as though it were put reasonably.
For surely you perceive I am Jurgen."

"I never knew but one Jurgen. And he is a young man, barely come of
age--" Then as she paused in speech, whatever was the matter upon
which this girl now meditated, her cheeks were tenderly colored by
the thought of it, and in her knowledge of this thing her eyes took
infinite joy.

And Jurgen understood. He had come back somehow to the Dorothy whom
he had loved: but departed, and past overtaking by the fleet hoofs
of centaurs, was the boy who had once loved this Dorothy, and who
had rhymed of her as his Heart's Desire: and in the garden there was
of this boy no trace. Instead, the girl was talking to a staid and
paunchy pawnbroker, of forty-and-something.

So Jurgen shrugged, and looked toward the Centaur: but Nessus had
discreetly wandered away from them, in search of four-leafed
clovers. Now the east had grown brighter, and its crimson began to
be colored with gold.

"Yes, I have heard of this other Jurgen," says the pawnbroker. "Oh,
Madame Dorothy, but it was he that loved you!"

"No more than I loved him. Through a whole summer have I loved
Jurgen."

And the knowledge that this girl spoke a wondrous truth was now to
Jurgen a joy that was keen as pain. And he stood motionless for a
while, scowling and biting his lips.

"I wonder how long the poor devil loved you! He also loved for a
whole summer, it may be. And yet again, it may be that he loved you
all his life. For twenty years and for more than twenty years I have
debated the matter: and I am as well informed as when I started."

"But, friend, you talk in riddles."

"Is not that customary when age talks with youth? For I am an old
fellow, in my forties: and you, as I know now, are near
eighteen,--or rather, four months short of being eighteen, for it is
August. Nay, more, it is the August of a year I had not looked ever
to see again; and again Dom Manuel reigns over us, that man of iron
whom I saw die so horribly. All this seems very improbable."

Then Jurgen meditated for a while. He shrugged.

"Well, and what could anybody expect me to do about it? Somehow it
has befallen that I, who am but the shadow of what I was, now walk
among shadows, and we converse with the thin intonations of dead
persons. For, Madame Dorothy, you who are not yet eighteen, in this
same garden there was once a boy who loved a girl, with such love as
it puzzles me to think of now. I believe that she loved him. Yes,
certainly it is a cordial to the tired and battered heart which
nowadays pumps blood for me, to think that for a little while, for a
whole summer, these two were as brave and comely and clean a pair of
sweethearts as the world has known."

Thus Jurgen spoke. But his thought was that this was a girl whose
equal for loveliness and delight was not to be found between two
oceans. Long and long ago that doubtfulness of himself which was
closer to him than his skin had fretted Jurgen into believing the
Dorothy he had loved was but a piece of his imaginings. But
certainly this girl was real. And sweet she was, and innocent she
was, and light of heart and feet, beyond the reach of any man's
inventiveness. No, Jurgen had not invented her; and it strangely
contented him to know as much.

"Tell me your story, sir," says she, "for I love all romances."

"Ah, my dear child, but I cannot tell you very well of just what
happened. As I look back, there is a blinding glory of green woods
and lawns and moonlit nights and dance music and unreasonable
laughter. I remember her hair and eyes, and the curving and the feel
of her red mouth, and once when I was bolder than ordinary--But that
is hardly worth raking up at this late day. Well, I see these things
in memory as plainly as I now seem to see your face: but I can
recollect hardly anything she said. Perhaps, now I think of it, she
was not very intelligent, and said nothing worth remembering. But
the boy loved her, and was happy, because her lips and heart were
his, and he, as the saying is, had plucked a diamond from the
world's ring. True, she was a count's daughter and the sister of a
count: but in those days the boy quite firmly intended to become a
duke or an emperor or something of that sort, so the transient
discrepancy did not worry them."

"I know. Why, Jurgen is going to be a duke, too," says she, very
proudly, "though he did think, a great while ago, before he knew me,
of being a cardinal, on account of the robes. But cardinals are not
allowed to marry, you see--And I am forgetting your story, too! What
happened then?"

"They parted in September--with what vows it hardly matters now--and
the boy went into Gatinais, to win his spurs under the old Vidame de
Soyecourt. And presently--oh, a good while before Christmas!--came
the news that Dorothy la Desiree had married rich Heitman Michael."

"But that is what I am called! And as you know, there is a Heitman
Michael who is always plaguing me. Is that not strange! for you tell
me all this happened a great while ago."

"Indeed, the story is very old, and old it was when Methuselah was
teething. There is no older and more common story anywhere. As the
sequel, it would be heroic to tell you this boy's life was ruined.
But I do not think it was. Instead, he had learned all of a sudden
that which at twenty-one is heady knowledge. That was the hour which
taught him sorrow and rage, and sneering, too, for a redemption. Oh,
it was armor that hour brought him, and a humor to use it, because
no woman now could hurt him very seriously. No, never any more!"

"Ah, the poor boy!" she said, divinely tender, and smiling as a
goddess smiles, not quite in mirth.

"Well, women, as he knew by experience now, were the pleasantest of
playfellows. So he began to play. Rampaging through the world he
went in the pride of his youth and in the armor of his hurt. And
songs he made for the pleasure of kings, and sword-play he made for
the pleasure of men, and a whispering he made for the pleasure of
women, in places where renown was, and where he trod boldly, giving
pleasure to everybody, in those fine days. But the whispering, and
all that followed the whispering, was his best game, and the game he
played for the longest while, with many brightly colored playmates
who took the game more seriously than he did. And their faith in the
game's importance, and in him and his high-sounding nonsense, he
very often found amusing: and in their other chattels too he took
his natural pleasure. Then, when he had played sufficiently, he held
a consultation with divers waning appetites; and he married the
handsome daughter of an estimable pawnbroker in a fair line of
business. And he lived with his wife very much as two people
customarily live together. So, all in all, I would not say his life
was ruined."

"Why, then, it was," said Dorothy. She stirred uneasily, with an
impatient sigh; and you saw that she was vaguely puzzled. "Oh, but
somehow I think you are a very horrible old man: and you seem doubly
horrible in that glittering queer garment you are wearing."

"No woman ever praised a woman's handiwork, and each of you is
particularly severe upon her own. But you are interrupting the
saga."

"I do not see"--and those large bright eyes of which the color was
so indeterminable and so dear to Jurgen, seemed even larger
now--"but I do not see how there could well be any more."

"Still, human hearts survive the benediction of the priest, as you may
perceive any day. This man, at least, inherited his father-in-law's
business, and found it, quite as he had anticipated, the fittest of
vocations for a cashiered poet. And so, I suppose, he was content. Ah,
yes; but after a while Heitman Michael returned from foreign parts,
along with his lackeys, and plate, and chest upon chest of merchandise,
and his fine horses, and his wife. And he who had been her lover could
see her now, after so many years, whenever he liked. She was a handsome
stranger. That was all. She was rather stupid. She was nothing
remarkable, one way or another. This respectable pawnbroker saw that
quite plainly: day by day he writhed under the knowledge. Because, as
I must tell you, he could not retain composure in her presence, even
now. No, he was never able to do that."

The girl somewhat condensed her brows over this information. "You
mean that he still loved her. Why, but of course!"

"My child," says Jurgen, now with a reproving forefinger, "you are
an incurable romanticist. The man disliked her and despised her. At
any event, he assured himself that he did. Well, even so, this
handsome stupid stranger held his eyes, and muddled his thoughts,
and put errors into his accounts: and when he touched her hand he
did not sleep that night as he was used to sleep. Thus he saw her,
day after day. And they whispered that this handsome and stupid
stranger had a liking for young men who aided her artfully to
deceive her husband: but she never showed any such favor to the
respectable pawnbroker. For youth had gone out of him, and it seemed
that nothing in particular happened. Well, that was his saga. About
her I do not know. And I shall never know! But certainly she got the
name of deceiving Heitman Michael with two young men, or with five
young men it might be, but never with a respectable pawnbroker."

"I think that is an exceedingly cynical and stupid story," observed
the girl. "And so I shall be off to look for Jurgen. For he makes
love very amusingly," says Dorothy, with the sweetest, loveliest
meditative smile that ever was lost to heaven.

And a madness came upon Jurgen, there in the garden between dawn and
sunrise, and a disbelief in such injustice as now seemed incredible.

"No, Heart's Desire," he cried, "I will not let you go. For you are
dear and pure and faithful, and all my evil dream, wherein you were
a wanton and be-fooled me, was not true. Surely, mine was a dream
that can never be true so long as there is any justice upon earth.
Why, there is no imaginable God who would permit a boy to be robbed
of that which in my evil dream was taken from me!"

"And still I cannot understand your talking, about this dream of
yours--!"

"Why, it seemed to me I had lost the most of myself; and there was
left only a brain which played with ideas, and a body that went
delicately down pleasant ways. And I could not believe as my fellows
believed, nor could I love them, nor could I detect anything in
aught they said or did save their exceeding folly: for I had lost
their cordial common faith in the importance of what use they made
of half-hours and months and years; and because a jill-flirt had
opened my eyes so that they saw too much, I had lost faith in the
importance of my own actions, too. There was a little time of which
the passing might be made endurable; beyond gaped unpredictable
darkness: and that was all there was of certainty anywhere. Now tell
me, Heart's Desire, but was not that a foolish dream? For these
things never happened. Why, it would not be fair if these things
ever happened!"

And the girl's eyes were wide and puzzled and a little frightened.
"I do not understand what you are saying: and there is that about
you which troubles me unspeakably. For you call me by the name which
none but Jurgen used, and it seems to me that you are Jurgen; and
yet you are not Jurgen."

"But I am truly Jurgen. And look you, I have done what never any man
has done before! For I have won back to that first love whom every
man must lose, no matter whom he marries. I have come back again,
passing very swiftly over the grave of a dream and through the
malice of time, to my Heart's Desire! And how strange it seems that
I did not know this thing was inevitable!"

"Still, friend, I do not understand you."

"Why, but I yawned and fretted in preparation for some great and
beautiful adventure which was to befall me by and by, and dazedly I
toiled forward. Whereas behind me all the while was the garden
between dawn and sunrise, and therein you awaited me! Now assuredly,
the life of every man is a quaintly builded tale, in which the right
and proper ending comes first. Thereafter time runs forward, not as
schoolmen fable in a straight line, but in a vast closed curve,
returning to the place of its starting. And it is by a dim
foreknowledge of this, by some faint prescience of justice and
reparation being given them by and by, that men have heart to live.
For I know now that I have always known this thing. What else was
living good for unless it brought me back to you?"

But the girl shook her small glittering head, very sadly. "I do not
understand you, and I fear you. For you talk foolishness and in your
face I see the face of Jurgen as one might see the face of a dead
man drowned in muddy water."

"Yet am I truly Jurgen, and, as it seems to me, for the first time
since we were parted. For I am strong and admirable--even I, who
sneered and played so long, because I thought myself a thing of
no worth at all. That which has been since you and I were young
together is as a mist that passes: and I am strong and admirable,
and all my being is one vast hunger for you, my dearest, and I will
not let you go, for you, and you alone, are my Heart's Desire."

Now the girl was looking at him very steadily, with a small puzzled
frown, and with her vivid young soft lips a little parted. And all
her tender loveliness was glorified by the light of a sky that had
turned to dusty palpitating gold.

"Ah, but you say that you are strong and admirable: and I can only
marvel at such talking. For I see that which all men see."

And then Dorothy showed him the little mirror which was attached to
the long chain of turquoise matrix about her neck: and Jurgen
studied the frightened foolish aged face that he found in the
mirror.

Thus drearily did sanity return to Jurgen: and his flare of passion
died, and the fever and storm and the impetuous whirl of things was
ended, and the man was very weary. And in the silence he heard the
piping cry of a bird that seemed to seek for what it could not find.

"Well, I am answered," said the pawnbroker: "and yet I know that
this is not the final answer. Dearer than any hope of heaven was
that moment when awed surmises first awoke as to the new strange
loveliness which I had seen in the face of Dorothy. It was then I
noted the new faint flush suffusing her face from chin to brow so
often as my eyes encountered and found new lights in the shining
eyes which were no longer entirely frank in meeting mine. Well, let
that be, for I do not love Heitman Michael's wife.

"It is a grief to remember how we followed love, and found his
service lovely. It is bitter to recall the sweetness of those vows
which proclaimed her mine eternally,--vows that were broken in their
making by prolonged and unforgotten kisses. We used to laugh at
Heitman Michael then; we used to laugh at everything. Thus for a
while, for a whole summer, we were as brave and comely and clean a
pair of sweethearts as the world has known. But let that be, for I
do not love Heitman Michael's wife.

"Our love was fair but short-lived. There is none that may revive
him since the small feet of Dorothy trod out this small love's life.
Yet when this life of ours too is over--this parsimonious life which
can allow us no more love for anybody,--must we not win back,
somehow, to that faith we vowed against eternity? and be content
again, in some fair-colored realm? Assuredly I think this thing will
happen. Well, but let that be, for I do not love Heitman Michael's
wife."

"Why, this is excellent hearing," observed Dorothy, "because I see
that you are converting your sorrow into the raw stuff of verses. So
I shall be off to look for Jurgen, since he makes love quite
otherwise and far more amusingly."

And again, whatever was the matter upon which this girl now
meditated, her cheeks were tenderly colored by the thought of it,
and in her knowledge of this thing her eyes took infinite joy.

Thus it was for a moment only: for she left Jurgen now, with the
friendliest light waving of her hand; and so passed from him, not
thinking of this old fellow any longer, as he could see, even in the
instant she turned from him. And she went toward the dawn, in search
of that young Jurgen whom she, who was perfect in all things, had
loved, though only for a little while, not undeservedly.




5.

Requirements of Bread and Butter


"Nessus," says Jurgen, "and am I so changed? For that Dorothy whom I
loved in youth did not know me."

"Good and evil keep very exact accounts," replied the Centaur, "and
the face of every man is their ledger. Meanwhile the sun rises, it
is already another workday: and when the shadows of those two who
come to take possession fall full upon the garden, I warn you, there
will be astounding changes brought about by the requirements of
bread and butter. You have not time to revive old memories by
chatting with the others to whom you babbled aforetime in this
garden."

"Ah, Centaur, in the garden between dawn and sunrise there was never
any other save Dorothy la Desiree."

The Centaur shrugged. "It may be you forget; it is certain that you
underestimate the local population. Some of the transient visitors
you have seen, and in addition hereabouts dwell the year round all
manner of imaginary creatures. The fairies live just southward, and
the gnomes too. To your right is the realm of the Valkyries: the
Amazons and the Cynocephali are their allies: all three of these
nations are continually at loggerheads with their neighbors, the
Baba-Yagas, whom Morfei cooks for, and whose monarch is Oh, a person
very dangerous to name. Northward dwell the Lepracauns and the Men
of Hunger, whose king is Clobhair. My people, who are ruled by
Chiron, live even further to the north. The Sphinx pastures on
yonder mountain; and now the Chimaera is old and generally derided,
they say that Cerberus visits the Sphinx at twilight, although I was
never the person to disseminate scandal--"

"Centaur," said Jurgen, "and what is Dorothy doing here?"

"Why, all the women that any man has ever loved live here," replied
the Centaur, "for very obvious reasons."

"That is a hard saying, friend."

Nessus tapped with his forefinger upon the back of Jurgen's hand.
"Worm's-meat! this is the destined food, do what you will, of small
white worms. This by and by will be a struggling pale corruption,
like seething milk. That too is a hard saying, Jurgen. But it is a
true saying."

"And was that Dorothy whom I loved in youth an imaginary creature?"

"My poor Jurgen, you who were once a poet! she was your masterpiece.
For there was only a shallow, stupid and airy, high-nosed and
light-haired miss, with no remarkable good looks,--and consider what
your ingenuity made from such poor material! You should be proud of
yourself."

"No, Centaur, I cannot very well be proud of my folly: yet I do not
regret it. I have been befooled by a bright shadow of my own
raising, you tell me, and I concede it to be probable. No less, I
served a lovely shadow; and my heart will keep the memory of that
loveliness until life ends, in a world where other men follow
pantingly after shadows which are not even pretty."

"There is something in that, Jurgen: there is also something in an
old tale we used to tell in Thessaly, about a fox and certain
grapes."

"Well, but look you, Nessus, there is an emperor that reigns now in
Constantinople and occasionally does business with me. Yes, and I
could tell you tales of by what shifts he came to the throne--"

"Men's hands are by ordinary soiled in climbing," quoth the Centaur.

"And 'Jurgen,' this emperor says to me, not many months ago, as he
sat in his palace, crowned and dreary and trying to cheat me out of
my fair profit on some emeralds,--'Jurgen, I cannot sleep of nights,
because of that fool Alexius, who comes into my room with staring
eyes and the bowstring still about his neck. And my Varangians must
be in league with that silly ghost, because I constantly order them
to keep Alexius out of my bedchamber, and they do not obey me,
Jurgen. To be King of the East is not to the purpose, Jurgen, when
one must submit to such vexations.' Yes, it was Caesar Pharamond
himself said this to me: and I deduce the shadow of a crown has led
him into an ugly pickle, for all that he is the mightiest monarch in
the world. And I would not change with Caesar Pharamond, not I who am
a respectable pawnbroker, with my home in fee and my bit of tilled
land. Well, this is a queer world, to be sure: and this garden is
visited by no stranger things than pop into a man's mind sometimes,
without his knowing how."

"Ah, but you must understand that the garden is speedily to be
remodeled. Yonder you may observe the two whose requirements are to
rid the place of all fantastic unremunerative notions; and who will
develop the natural resources of this garden according to generally
approved methods."

And from afar Jurgen could see two figures coming out of the east,
so tall that their heads rose above the encircling hills and
glistened in the rays of a sun which was not yet visible. One was a
white pasty-looking giant, with a crusty expression: he walked with
the aid of a cane. The other was of a pale yellow color: his face
was oily, and he rode on a vast cow that was called AEdhumla.

"Make way there, brother, with your staff of life," says the yellow
giant, "for there is much to do hereabouts."

"Ay, brother, this place must be altered a deal before it meets with
our requirements," the other grumbled. "May I be toasted if I know
where to begin!"

Then as the giants turned dull and harsh faces toward the garden,
the sun came above the circle of blue hills, so that the mingled
shadows of these two giants fell across the garden. For an instant
Jurgen saw the place oppressed by that attenuated mile-long shadow,
as in heraldry you may see a black bar painted sheer across some
brightly emblazoned shield. Then the radiancy of everything twitched
and vanished, as a bubble bursts.

And Jurgen was standing in the midst of a field, very neatly plowed,
but with nothing as yet growing in it. And the Centaur was with him
still, it seemed, for there were the creature's hoofs, but all the
gold had been washed or rubbed away from them in traveling with
Jurgen.

"See, Nessus!" Jurgen cried, "the garden is made desolate. Oh,
Nessus, was it fair that so much loveliness should be thus wasted!"

"Nay," said the Centaur, "nay!" Long and wailingly he whinneyed,
"Nay!"

And when Jurgen raised his eyes he saw that his companion was not a
centaur, but only a strayed riding-horse.

"Were you the animal, then," says Jurgen, "and was it a quite
ordinary animal, that conveyed me to the garden between dawn and
sunrise?" And Jurgen laughed disconsolately. "At all events, you
have clothed me in a curious fine shirt. And, now I look, your
bridle is marked with a coronet. So I will return you to the castle
at Bellegarde, and it may be that Heitman Michael will reward me."

Then Jurgen mounted this horse and rode away from the plowed field
wherein nothing grew as yet. As they left the furrows they came to a
signboard with writing on it, in a peculiar red and yellow
lettering.

Jurgen paused to decipher this.

"Read me!" was written on the signboard: "read me, and judge if you
understand! So you stopped in your journey because I called,
scenting something unusual, something droll. Thus, although I am
nothing, and even less, there is no one that sees me but lingers
here. Stranger, I am a law of the universe. Stranger, render the law
what is due the law!"

Jurgen felt cheated. "A very foolish signboard, indeed! for how can
it be 'a law of the universe', when there is no meaning to it!" says
Jurgen. "Why, for any law to be meaningless would not be fair."




6.

Showing that Sereda Is Feminine


Then, having snapped his fingers at that foolish signboard, Jurgen
would have turned easterly, toward Bellegarde: but his horse
resisted. The pawnbroker decided to accept this as an omen.

"Forward, then!" he said, "in the name of Koshchei." And thereafter
Jurgen permitted the horse to choose its own way.

Thus Jurgen came through a forest, wherein he saw many things not
salutary to notice, to a great stone house like a prison, and he
sought shelter there. But he could find nobody about the place,
until he came to a large hall, newly swept. This was a depressing
apartment, in its chill neat emptiness, for it was unfurnished save
for a bare deal table, upon which lay a yardstick and a pair of
scales. Above this table hung a wicker cage, containing a blue bird,
and another wicker cage containing three white pigeons. And in this
hall a woman, no longer young, dressed all in blue, and wearing a
white towel by way of head-dress was assorting curiously colored
cloths.

She had very bright eyes, with wrinkled lids; and now as she looked
up at Jurgen her shrunk jaws quivered.

"Ah," says she, "I have a visitor. Good day to you, in your
glittering shirt. It is a garment I seem to recognize."

"Good day, grandmother! I am looking for my wife, whom I suspect to
have been carried off by a devil, poor fellow! Now, having lost my
way, I have come to pass the night under your roof."

"Very good: but few come seeking Mother Sereda of their own accord."

Then Jurgen knew with whom he talked: and inwardly he was perturbed,
for all the Leshy are unreliable in their dealings.

So when he spoke it was very civilly. "And what do you do here,
grandmother?"

"I bleach. In time I shall bleach that garment you are wearing. For
I take the color out of all things. Thus you see these stuffs here,
as they are now. Clotho spun the glowing threads, and Lachesis wove
them, as you observe, in curious patterns, very marvelous to see:
but when I am done with these stuffs there will be no more color or
beauty or strangeness anywhere apparent than in so many dishclouts."

"Now I preceive," says Jurgen, "that your power and dominion is more
great than any other power which is in the world."

He made a song of this, in praise of the Leshy and their Days, but
more especially in praise of the might of Mother Sereda and of the
ruins that have fallen on Wednesday. To Chetverg and Utornik and
Subbota he gave their due. Pyatinka and Nedelka also did Jurgen
commend for such demolishments as have enregistered their names in
the calendar of saints, no less. Ah, but there was none like Mother
Sereda: hers was the centre of that power which is the Leshy's. The
others did but nibble at temporal things, like furtive mice: she
devastated, like a sandstorm, so that there were many dustheaps
where Mother Sereda had passed, but nothing else.

And so on, and so on. The song was no masterpiece, and would not be
bettered by repetition. But it was all untrammeled eulogy, and the
old woman beat time to it with her lean hands: and her shrunk jaws
quivered, and she nodded her white-wrapped head this way and that
way, with a rolling motion, and on her thin lips was a very proud
and foolish smile.

"That is a good song," says she; "oh, yes, an excellent song! But
you report nothing of my sister Pandelis who controls the day of the
Moon."

"Monday!" says Jurgen: "yes, I neglected Monday, perhaps because she
is the oldest of you, but in part because of the exigencies of my
rhyme scheme. We must let Pandelis go unhymned. How can I remember
everything when I consider the might of Sereda?"

"Why, but," says Mother Sereda, "Pandelis may not like it, and she
may take holiday from her washing some day to have a word with you.
However, I repeat, that is an excellent song. And in return for your
praise of me, I will tell you that, if your wife has been carried
off by a devil, your affair is one which Koshchei alone can remedy.
Assuredly, I think it is to him you must go for justice."

"But how may I come to him, grandmother?"

"Oh, as to that, it does not matter at all which road you follow.
All highways, as the saying is, lead roundabout to Koshchei. The one
thing needful is not to stand still. This much I will tell you also
for your song's sake, because that was an excellent song, and nobody
ever made a song in praise of me before to-day."

Now Jurgen wondered to see what a simple old creature was this
Mother Sereda, who sat before him shaking and grinning and frail as
a dead leaf, with her head wrapped in a common kitchen-towel, and
whose power was so enormous.

"To think of it," Jurgen reflected, "that the world I inhabit is
ordered by beings who are not one-tenth so clever as I am! I have
often suspected as much, and it is decidedly unfair. Now let me see
if I cannot make something out of being such a monstrous clever
fellow."

Jurgen said aloud: "I do not wonder that no practising poet ever
presumed to make a song of you. You are too majestical. You frighten
these rhymesters, who feel themselves to be unworthy of so great a
theme. So it remained for you to be appreciated by a pawnbroker,
since it is we who handle and observe the treasures of this world
after you have handled them."

"Do you think so?" says she, more pleased than ever. "Now, may be
that was the way of it. But I wonder that you who are so fine a poet
should ever have become a pawnbroker."

"Well, and indeed, Mother Sereda, your wonder seems to me another
wonder: for I can think of no profession better suited to a retired
poet. Why, there is the variety of company! for high and low and
even the genteel are pressed sometimes for money: then the plowman
slouches into my shop, and the duke sends for me privately. So the
people I know, and the bits of their lives I pop into, give me a
deal to romance about."

"Ah, yes, indeed," says Mother Sereda, wisely, "that well may be the
case. But I do not hold with romance, myself."

"Moreover, sitting in my shop, I wait there quiet-like while tribute
comes to me from the ends of earth: everything which men and women
have valued anywhere comes sooner or later to me: and jewels and
fine knickknacks that were the pride of queens they bring me, and
wedding rings, and the baby's cradle with his little tooth marks on
the rim of it, and silver coffin-handles, or it may be an old
frying-pan, they bring me, but all comes to Jurgen. So that just to
sit there in my dark shop quiet-like, and wonder about the history
of my belongings and how they were made mine, is poetry, and is the
deep and high and ancient thinking of a god who is dozing among what
time has left of a dead world, if you understand me, Mother Sereda."

"I understand: oho, I understand that which pertains to gods, for a
sufficient reason."

"And then another thing, you do not need any turn for business:
people are glad to get whatever you choose to offer, for they would
not come otherwise. So you get the shining and rough-edged coins
that you can feel the proud king's head on, with his laurel-wreath
like millet seed under your fingers; and you get the flat and
greenish coins that are smeared with the titles and the chins and
hooked noses of emperors whom nobody remembers or cares about any
longer: all just by waiting there quiet-like, and making a favor of
it to let customers give you their belongings for a third of what
they are worth. And that is easy labor, even for a poet."

"I understand: I understand all labor."

"And people treat you a deal more civilly than any real need is,
because they are ashamed of trafficking with you at all: I dispute
if a poet could get such civility shown him in any other profession.
And finally, there is the long idleness between business interviews,
with nothing to do save sit there quiet-like and think about the
queerness of things in general: and that is always rare employment
for a poet, even without the tatters of so many lives and homes
heaped up about him like spillikins. So that I would say in all,
Mother Sereda, there is certainly no profession better suited to an
old poet than the profession of pawnbroking."

"Certainly, there may be something in what you tell me," observes
Mother Sereda. "I know what the Little Gods are, and I know what
work is, but I do not think about these other matters, nor about
anything else. I bleach."

"Ah, and a great deal more I could be saying, too, godmother, but
for the fear of wearying you. Nor would I have run on at all about
my private affairs were it not that we two are so close related. And
kith makes kind, as people say."

"But how can you and I be kin?"

"Why, heyday, and was I not born upon a Wednesday? That makes you my
godmother, does it not?"

"I do not know, dearie, I am sure. Nobody ever cared to claim kin
with Mother Sereda before this," says she, pathetically.

"There can be no doubt, though, on the point, no possible doubt.
Sabellius states it plainly. Artemidorus Minor, I grant you, holds
the question debatable, but his reasons for doing so are tolerably
notorious. Besides, what does all his flimsy sophistry avail against
Nicanor's fine chapter on this very subject? Crushing, I consider
it. His logic is final and irrefutable. What can anyone say against
Saevius Nicanor?--ah, what indeed?" demanded Jurgen.

And he wondered if there might not have been perchance some such
persons somewhere, after all. Their names, in any event, sounded
very plausible to Jurgen.

"Ah, dearie, I was never one for learning. It may be as you say."

"You say 'it may be', godmother. That embarrasses me, rather,
because I was about to ask for my christening gift, which in the
press of other matters you overlooked some forty years back. You
will readily conceive that your negligence, however unintentional,
might possibly give rise to unkindly criticism: and so I felt I
ought to mention it, in common fairness to you."

"As for that, dearie, ask what you will within the limits of my
power. For mine are all the sapphires and turquoises and whatever
else in this dusty world is blue; and mine likewise are all the
Wednesdays that have ever been or ever will be: and any one of these
will I freely give you in return for your fine speeches and your
tender heart."

"Ah, but, godmother, would it be quite just for you to accord me so
much more than is granted to other persons?"

"Why, no: but what have I to do with justice? I bleach. Come now,
then, do you make a choice! for I can assure you that my sapphires
are of the first water, and that many of my oncoming Wednesdays will
be well worth seeing."

"No, godmother, I never greatly cared for jewelry: and the future is
but dressing and undressing, and shaving, and eating, and computing
percentage, and so on; the future does not interest me now. So I
shall modestly content myself with a second-hand Wednesday, with one
that you have used and have no further need of: and it will be a
Wednesday in the August of such and such a year."

Mother Sereda agreed to this. "But there are certain rules to be
observed," says she, "for one must have system."

As she spoke, she undid the towel about her head, and she took a
blue comb from her white hair: and she showed Jurgen what was
engraved on the comb. It frightened Jurgen, a little: but he nodded
assent.

"First, though," says Mother Sereda, "here is the blue bird. Would
you not rather have that, dearie, than your Wednesday? Most people
would."

"Ah, but, godmother," he replied, "I am Jurgen. No, it is not the
blue bird I desire."

So Mother Sereda took from the wall the wicker cage containing the
three white pigeons: and going before him, with small hunched shoulders,
and shuffling her feet along the flagstones, she led the way into a
courtyard, where, sure enough, they found a tethered he-goat. Of a
dark blue color this beast was, and his eyes were wiser than the eyes
of a beast.

Then Jurgen set about that which Mother Sereda said was necessary.




7.

Of Compromises on a Wednesday


So it was that, riding upon a horse whose bridle was marked with a
coronet, the pawnbroker returned to a place, and to a moment, which
he remembered. It was rather queer to be a fine young fellow again,
and to foresee all that was to happen for the next twenty years.

As it chanced, the first person he encountered was his mother Azra,
whom Coth had loved very greatly but not long. And Jurgen talked
with Azra of what clothes he would be likely to need in Gatinais,
and of how often he would write to her. She disparaged the new shirt
he was wearing, as was to be expected, since Azra had always
preferred to select her son's clothing rather than trust to Jurgen's
taste. His new horse she admitted to be a handsome animal; and only
hoped he had not stolen it from anybody who would get him into
trouble. For Azra, it must be recorded, had never any confidence in
her son; and was the only woman, Jurgen felt, who really understood
him.

And now as his beautiful young mother impartially petted and snapped
at him, poor Jurgen thought of that very real dissension and
severance which in the oncoming years was to arise between them; and
of how she would die without his knowing of her death for two whole
months; and of how his life thereafter would be changed, somehow,
and the world would become an unstable place in which you could no
longer put cordial faith. And he foreknew all the remorse he was to
shrug away, after the squandering of so much pride and love. But
these things were not yet: and besides, these things were
inevitable.

"And yet that these things should be inevitable is decidedly not
fair," said Jurgen.

So it was with all the persons he encountered. The people whom he
loved when at his best as a fine young fellow were so very soon, and
through petty causes, to become nothing to him, and he himself was
to be converted into a commonplace tradesman. And living seemed to
Jurgen a wasteful and inequitable process.

Then Jurgen left the home of his youth, and rode toward Bellegarde,
and tethered his horse upon the heath, and went into the castle.
Thus Jurgen came to Dorothy. She was lovely and dear, and yet, by
some odd turn, not quite so lovely and dear as the Dorothy he had
seen in the garden between dawn and sunrise. And Dorothy, like
everybody else, praised Jurgen's wonderful new shirt.

"It is designed for such festivals," said Jurgen, modestly--"a
little notion of my own. A bit extreme, some persons might consider
it, but there is no pleasing everybody. And I like a trifle of
color."

For there was a masque that night at the castle of Bellegarde: and
wildly droll and sad it was to Jurgen to remember what was to befall
so many of the participants.

Jurgen had not forgotten this Wednesday, this ancient Wednesday upon
which Messire de Montors had brought the Confraternity of St. Medard
from Brunbelois, to enact a masque of The Birth of Hercules, as the
vagabonds were now doing, to hilarious applause. Jurgen remembered
it was the day before Bellegarde discovered that Count Emmerick's
guest, the Vicomte de Puysange, was in reality the notorious outlaw,
Perion de la Foret. Well, yonder the yet undetected impostor was
talking very earnestly with Dame Melicent: and Jurgen knew all that
was in store for this pair of lovers.

Meanwhile, as Jurgen reflected, the real Vicomte de Puysange was at
this moment lying in a delirium, yonder at Benoit's: to-morrow the
true Vicomte would be recognized, and within the year the Vicomte
would have married Felise de Soyecourt, and later Jurgen would meet
her, in the orchard; and Jurgen knew what was to happen then also.

And Messire de Montors was watching Dame Melicent, sidewise, while
he joked with little Ettarre, who was this night permitted to stay
up later than usual, in honor of the masque: and Jurgen knew that
this young bishop was to become Pope of Rome, no less; and that the
child he joked with was to become the woman for possession of whom
Guiron des Rocques and the surly-looking small boy yonder, Maugis
d'Aigremont, would contend with each other until the country
hereabouts had been devastated, and the castle wherein Jurgen now
was had been besieged, and this part of it burned. And wildly droll
and sad it was to Jurgen thus to remember all that was going to
happen to these persons, and to all the other persons who were
frolicking in the shadow of their doom and laughing at this trivial
masque.

For here--with so much of ruin and failure impending, and with
sorrow prepared so soon to smite a many of these revellers in ways
foreknown to Jurgen; and with death resistlessly approaching so
soon to make an end of almost all this company in some unlovely
fashion that Jurgen foreknew exactly,--here laughter seemed
unreasonable and ghastly. Why, but Reinault yonder, who laughed so
loud, with his cropped head flung back: would Reinault be laughing
in quite this manner if he knew the round strong throat he thus
exposed was going to be cut like the throat of a calf, while three
Burgundians held him? Jurgen knew this thing was to befall Reinault
Vinsauf before October was out. So he looked at Reinault's throat,
and shudderingly drew in his breath between set teeth.

"And he is worth a score of me, this boy!" thought Jurgen: "and it
is I who am going to live to be an old fellow, with my bit of land
in fee, years after dirt clogs those bright generous eyes, and years
after this fine big-hearted boy is wasted! And I shall forget all
about him, too. Marion l'Edol, that very pretty girl behind him, is
to become a blotched and toothless haunter of alleys, a leering
plucker at men's sleeves! And blue-eyed Colin here, with his baby
mouth, is to be hanged for that matter of coin-clipping--let me
recall, now,--yes, within six years of to-night! Well, but in a way,
these people are blessed in lacking foresight. For they laugh, and I
cannot laugh, and to me their laughter is more terrible than
weeping. Yes, they may be very wise in not glooming over what is
inevitable; and certainly I cannot go so far as to say they are
wrong: but still, at the same time--! And assuredly, living seems to
me in everything a wasteful and inequitable process."

Thus Jurgen, while the others passed a very pleasant evening.

And presently, when the masque was over, Dorothy and Jurgen went out
upon the terrace, to the east of Bellegarde, and so came to an
unforgotten world of moonlight. They sat upon a bench of carved
stone near the balustrade which overlooked the highway: and the boy
and the girl gazed wistfully beyond the highway, over luminous
valleys and tree-tops. Just so they had sat there, as Jurgen
perfectly remembered, when Mother Sereda first used this Wednesday.

"My Heart's Desire," says Jurgen, "I am sad to-night. For I am
thinking of what life will do to us, and what offal the years will
make of you and me."

"My own sweetheart," says she, "and do we not know very well what is
to happen?" And Dorothy began to talk of all the splendid things
that Jurgen was to do, and of the happy life which was to be theirs
together.

"It is horrible," he said: "for we are more fine than we shall ever
be hereafter. We have a splendor for which the world has no
employment. It will be wasted. And such wastage is not fair."

"But presently you will be so and so," says she: and fondly predicts
all manner of noble exploits which, as Jurgen remembered, had once
seemed very plausible to him also. Now he had clearer knowledge as
to the capacities of the boy of whom he had thought so well.

"No, Heart's Desire: no, I shall be quite otherwise."

"--and to think how proud I shall be of you! 'But then I always knew
it', I shall tell everybody, very condescendingly--"

"No, Heart's Desire: for you will not think of me at all."

"Ah, sweetheart! and can you really believe that I shall ever care a
snap of my fingers for anybody but you?"

Then Jurgen laughed a little; for Heitman Michael came now across
the lonely terrace, in search of Madame Dorothy: and Jurgen foreknew
this was the man to whom within two months of this evening Dorothy
was to give her love and all the beauty that was hers, and with whom
she was to share the ruinous years which lay ahead.

But the girl did not know this, and Dorothy gave a little shrugging
gesture. "I have promised to dance with him, and so I must. But the
old fellow is a great plague."

For Heitman Michael was nearing thirty, and this to Dorothy and
Jurgen was an age that bordered upon senility.

"Now, by heaven," said Jurgen, "wherever Heitman Michael does his
next dancing it will not be hereabouts."

Jurgen had decided what he must do.

And then Heitman Michael saluted them civilly. "But I fear I must
rob you of this fair lady, Master Jurgen," says he.

Jurgen remembered that the man had said precisely this a score of
years ago; and that Jurgen had mumbled polite regrets, and had stood
aside while Heitman Michael bore off Dorothy to dance with him. And
this dance had been the beginning of intimacy between Heitman
Michael and Dorothy.

"Heitman," says Jurgen, "the bereavement which you threaten is very
happily spared me, since, as it happens, the next dance is to be
mine."

"We can but leave it to the lady," says Heitman Michael, laughing.

"Not I," says Jurgen. "For I know too well what would come of that.
I intend to leave my destiny to no one."

"Your conduct, Master Jurgen, is somewhat strange," observed Heitman
Michael.

"Ah, but I will show you a thing yet stranger. For, look you, there
seem to be three of us here on this terrace. Yet I can assure you
there are four."

"Read me the riddle, my boy, and have done."

"The fourth of us, Heitman, is a goddess that wears a speckled
garment and has black wings. She can boast of no temples, and no
priests cry to her anywhere, because she is the only deity whom no
prayers can move or any sacrifices placate. I allude, sir, to the
eldest daughter of Nox and Erebus."

"You speak of death, I take it."

"Your apprehension, Heitman, is nimble. Even so, it is not quick
enough, I fear, to forerun the whims of goddesses. Indeed, what
person could have foreseen that this implacable lady would have
taken such a strong fancy for your company."

"Ah, my young bantam," replies Heitman Michael, "it is quite true
that she and I are acquainted. I may even boast of having despatched
one or two stout warriors to serve her underground. Now, as I divine
your meaning, you plan that I should decrease her obligation by
sending her a whippersnapper."

"My notion, Heitman, is that since this dark goddess is about to
leave us, she should not, in common gallantry, be permitted to go
hence unaccompanied. I propose, therefore, that we forthwith decide
who is to be her escort."

Now Heitman Michael had drawn his sword. "You are insane. But you
extend an invitation which I have never yet refused."

"Heitman," cries Jurgen, in honest gratitude and admiration, "I bear
you no ill-will. But it is highly necessary you die to-night, in
order that my soul may not perish too many years before my body."

With that he too whipped out his sword.

So they fought. Now Jurgen was a very acceptable swordsman, but from
the start he found in Heitman Michael his master. Jurgen had never
reckoned upon that, and he considered it annoying. If Heitman
Michael perforated Jurgen the future would be altered, certainly,
but not quite as Jurgen had decided it ought to be remodeled. So
this unlooked-for complication seemed preposterous, and Jurgen began
to be irritated by the suspicion that he was getting himself killed
for nothing at all.

Meanwhile his unruffled tall antagonist seemed but to play with
Jurgen, so that Jurgen was steadily forced back toward the
balustrade. And presently Jurgen's sword was twisted from his hand,
and sent flashing over the balustrade, into the public highway.

"So now, Master Jurgen," says Heitman Michael, "that is the end of
your nonsense. Why, no, there is not any occasion to posture like a
statue. I do not intend to kill you. Why the devil's name, should I?
To do so would only get me an ill name with your parents: and
besides it is infinitely more pleasant to dance with this lady, just
as I first intended." And he turned gaily toward Madame Dorothy.

But Jurgen found this outcome of affairs insufferable. This man was
stronger than he, this man was of the sort that takes and uses
gallantly all the world's prizes which mere poets can but
respectfully admire. All was to do again: Heitman Michael, in his
own hateful phrase, would act just as he had first intended, and
Jurgen would be brushed aside by the man's brute strength. This man
would take away Dorothy, and leave the life of Jurgen to become a
business which Jurgen remembered with distaste. It was unfair.

So Jurgen snatched out his dagger, and drove it deep into the
undefended back of Heitman Michael. Three times young Jurgen stabbed
and hacked the burly soldier, just underneath the left ribs. Even in
his fury Jurgen remembered to strike on the left side.

It was all very quickly done. Heitman Michael's arms jerked upward,
and in the moonlight his fingers spread and clutched. He made
curious gurgling noises. Then the strength went from his knees, so
that he toppled backward. His head fell upon Jurgen's shoulder,
resting there for an instant fraternally; and as Jurgen shuddered
away from the abhorred contact, the body of Heitman Michael
collapsed. Now he lay staring upward, dead at the feet of his
murderer. He was horrible looking, but he was quite dead.

"What will become of you?" Dorothy whispered, after a while. "Oh,
Jurgen, it was foully done, that which you did was infamous! What
will become of you, my dear?"

"I will take my doom," says Jurgen, "and without whimpering, so that
I get justice. But I shall certainly insist upon justice." Then
Jurgen raised his face to the bright heavens. "The man was stronger
than I and wanted what I wanted. So I have compromised with
necessity, in the only way I could make sure of getting that which
was requisite to me. I cry for justice to the power that gave him
strength and gave me weakness, and gave to each of us his desires.
That which I have done, I have done. Now judge!"

Then Jurgen tugged and shoved the heavy body of Heitman Michael,
until it lay well out of sight, under the bench upon which Jurgen
and Dorothy had been sitting. "Rest there, brave sir, until they
find you. Come to me now, my Heart's Desire. Good, that is
excellent. Here I sit with my true love, upon the body of my enemy.
Justice is satisfied, and all is quite as it should be. For you must
understand that I have fallen heir to a fine steed, whose bridle is
marked with a coronet,--prophetically, I take it,--and upon this
steed you will ride pillion with me to Lisuarte. There we will find
a priest to marry us. We will go together into Gatinais. Meanwhile,
there is a bit of neglected business to be attended to." And he drew
the girl close to him.

For Jurgen was afraid of nothing now. And Jurgen thought:

"Oh, that I could detain the moment! that I could make some fitting
verses to preserve this moment in my own memory! Could I but get
into words the odor and the thick softness of this girl's hair as my
hands, that are a-quiver in every nerve of them, caress her hair;
and get into enduring words the glitter and the cloudy shadowings of
her hair in this be-drenching moonlight! For I shall forget all this
beauty, or at best I shall remember this moment very dimly."

"You have done very wrong--" says Dorothy.

Says Jurgen, to himself: "Already the moment passes this miserably
happy moment wherein once more life shudders and stands heart-stricken
at the height of bliss! it passes, and I know even as I lift this girl's
soft face to mine, and mark what faith and submissiveness and expectancy
is in her face, that whatever the future holds for us, and whatever of
happiness we two may know hereafter, we shall find no instant happier
than this, which passes from us irretrievably while I am thinking about
it, poor fool, in place of rising to the issue."

"--And heaven only knows what will become of you Jurgen--"

Says Jurgen, still to himself: "Yes, something must remain to me of
all this rapture, though it be only guilt and sorrow: something I
mean to wrest from this high moment which was once wasted
fruitlessly. Now I am wiser: for I know there is not any memory with
less satisfaction in it than the memory of some temptation we
resisted. So I will not waste the one real passion I have known, nor
leave unfed the one desire which ever caused me for a heart-beat to
forget to think about Jurgen's welfare. And thus, whatever happens,
I shall not always regret that I did not avail myself of this girl's
love before it was taken from me."

So Jurgen made such advances as seemed good to him. And he noted,
with amusing memories of how much afraid he had once been of
shocking his Dorothy's notions of decorum, that she did not repulse
him very vigorously.

"Here, over a dead body! Oh, Jurgen, this is horrible! Now, Jurgen,
remember that somebody may come any minute! And I thought I could
trust you! Ah, and is this all the respect you have for me!" This
much she said in duty. Meanwhile the eyes of Dorothy were dilated
and very tender.

"Faith, I take no chances, this second time. And so whatever
happens, I shall not always regret that which I left undone."

Now upon his lips was laughter, and his arms were about the
submissive girl. And in his heart was an unnamable depression and a
loneliness, because it seemed to him that this was not the Dorothy
whom he had seen in the garden between dawn and sunrise. For in my
arms now there is just a very pretty girl who is not over-careful in
her dealings with young men, thought Jurgen, as their lips met.
Well, all life is a compromise; and a pretty girl is something
tangible, at any rate. So he laughed, triumphantly, and prepared for
the sequel.

But as Jurgen laughed triumphantly, with his arm beneath the head of
Dorothy, and with the tender face of Dorothy passive beneath his lips,
and with unreasonable wistfulness in his heart, the castle bell tolled
midnight. What followed was curious: for as Wednesday passed, the face
of Dorothy altered, her flesh roughened under his touch, and her cheeks
fell away, and fine lines came about her eyes, and she became the
Countess Dorothy whom Jurgen remembered as Heitman Michael's wife.
There was no doubt about it, in that be-drenching moonlight: and she
was leering at him, and he was touching her everywhere, this horrible
lascivious woman, who was certainly quite old enough to know better
than to permit such liberties. And her breath was sour and nauseous.
Jurgen drew away from her, with a shiver of loathing, and he closed his
eyes, to shut away that sensual face.

"No," he said; "it would not be fair to what we owe to others. In
fact, it would be a very heinous sin. We should weigh such
considerations occasionally, madame."

Then Jurgen left his temptress, with simple dignity. "I go to search
for my dear wife, madame, in a frame of mind which I would strongly
advise you to adopt toward your husband."

And he went straightway down the terraces of Bellegarde, and turned
southward to where his horse was tethered upon Amneran Heath: and
Jurgen was feeling very virtuous.




8.

Old Toys and a New Shadow


Jurgen had behaved with conspicuous nobility, Jurgen reflected: but
he had committed himself. "I go in search of my dear wife," he had
stated, in the exaltation of virtuous sentiments. And now Jurgen
found himself alone in a world of moonlight just where he had last
seen his wife.

"Well, well," he said, "now that my Wednesday is done with, and I am
again a reputable pawnbroker, let us remember the advisability of
sometimes doing the manly thing! It was into this cave that Lisa
went. So into this cave go I, for the second time, rather than home
to my unsympathetic relatives-in-law. Or at least, I think I am
going--"

"Ay," said a squeaking voice, "this is the time. A ab hur hus!"

"High time!"

"Oh, more than time!"

"Look, the man in the oak!"

"Oho, the fire-drake!"

Thus many voices screeched and wailed confusedly. But Jurgen,
staring about him, could see nobody: and all the tiny voices seemed
to come from far overhead, where nothing was visible save the clouds
which of a sudden were gathering; for a wind was rising, and already
the moon was overcast. Now for a while that noise high in the air
became like a wrangling of sparrows, wherein no words were
distinguishable.

Then said a small shrill voice distinctly: "Note now, sweethearts,
how high we pass over the wind-vexed heath, where the gallows'
burden creaks and groans swaying to and fro in the night! Now the
rain breaks loose as a hawk from the fowler, and grave Queen Holda
draws her tresses over the moon's bright shield. Now the bed is
made, and the water drawn, and we the bride's maids seek for the
lass who will be bride to Sclaug."

Said another: "Oh, search for a maid with golden hair, who is
perfect, tender and pure, and fit for a king who is old as love,
with no trace of love in him. Even now our grinning dusty master
wakes from sleep, and his yellow fingers shake to think of her
flower-soft lips who comes to-night to his lank embrace and warms
the ribs that our eyes have seen. Who will be bride to Sclaug?"

And a third said: "The wedding-gown we have brought with us, we that
a-questing ride; and a maid will go hence on Phorgemon in
Cleopatra's shroud. Hah. Will o'the Wisp will marry the couple--"

"No, no! let Brachyotus!"

"No, be it Kitt with the candle-stick!"

"Eman hetan, a fight, a fight!"

"Oho, Tom Tumbler, 'ware of Stadlin!"

"Hast thou the marmaritin, Tib?"

"A ab hur hus!"

"Come, Bembo, come away!"

So they all fell to screeching and whistling and wrangling high over
Jurgen's head, and Jurgen was not pleased with his surroundings.

"For these are the witches of Amneran about some deviltry or another
in which I prefer to take no part. I now regret that I flung away a
cross in this neighborhood so very recently, and trust the action
was understood. If my wife had not made a point of it, and had not
positively insisted upon it, I would never have thought of doing
such a thing. I intended no reflection upon anybody. Even so, I
consider this heath to be unwholesome. And upon the whole, I prefer
to seek whatever I may encounter in this cave."

So in went Jurgen, for the second time.

And the tale tells that all was dark there, and Jurgen could see no
one. But the cave stretched straight forward, and downward, and at
the far end was a glow of light. Jurgen went on and on, and so came
to the place where he had found the Centaur. This part of the cave
was now vacant. But behind where Nessus had lain in wait for Jurgen
was an opening in the cave's wall, and through this opening streamed
the light. Jurgen stooped and crawled through the orifice.

He stood erect. He caught his breath sharply. Here at his feet was,
of all things, a tomb carved with the recumbent effigy of a woman.
Now this part of the cave was lighted by lamps upon tall iron
stands, so that everything was clearly visible, even to Jurgen,
whose eyesight had of late years failed him. This was certainly a
low flat tombstone such as Jurgen had seen in many churches: but the
tinted effigy thereupon was curious, somehow Jurgen looked more
closely. He touched the thing.

Then he recoiled, because there is no mistaking the feel of dead
flesh. The effigy was not colored stone: it was the body of a dead
woman. More unaccountable still, it was the body of Felise de
Puysange, whom Jurgen had loved very long ago in Gatinais, a great
many years before he set up in business as a pawnbroker.

Very strange it was to Jurgen again to see her face. He had often
wondered what had become of this large brown woman; had wondered if
he were really the first man for whom she had put a deceit upon her
husband; and had wondered what sort of person Madame Felise de
Puysange had been in reality.

"Two months it was that we played at intimacy, was it not, Felise?
You comprehend, my dear, I really remember very little about you.
But I recall quite clearly the door left just a-jar, and how as I
opened it gently I would see first of all the lamp upon your
dressing-table, turned down almost to extinction, and the glowing
dust upon its glass shade. Is it not strange that our exceeding
wickedness should have resulted in nothing save the memory of dust
upon a lamp chimney? Yet you were very handsome, Felise. I dare say
I would have liked you if I had ever known you. But when you told me
of the child you had lost, and showed me his baby picture, I took a
dislike to you. It seemed to me you were betraying that child by
dealing over-generously with me: and always between us afterward was
his little ghost. Yet I did not at all mind the deceits you put upon
your husband. It is true I knew your husband rather intimately--.
Well, and they tell me the good Vicomte was vastly pleased by the
son you bore him some months after you and I had parted. So there
was no great harm done, after all--"

Then Jurgen saw there was another woman's body lying like an effigy
upon another low flat tomb, and beyond that another, and then still
others. And Jurgen whistled.

"What, all of them!" he said. "Am I to be confronted with every
pound of tender flesh I have embraced? Yes, here is Graine, and
Rosamond, and Marcoueve, and Elinor. This girl, though, I do not
remember at all. And this one is, I think, the little Jewess I
purchased from Hassan Bey in Sidon, but how can one be sure? Still,
this is certainly Judith, and this is Myrina. I have half a mind to
look again for that mole, but I suppose it would be indecorous.
Lord, how one's women do add up! There must be several scores of
them in all. It is the sort of spectacle that turns a man to serious
thinking. Well, but it is a great comfort to reflect that I dealt
fairly with every one of them. Several of them treated me most
unjustly, too. But that is past and done with: and I bear no malice
toward such fickle and short-sighted creatures as could not be
contented with one lover, and he the Jurgen that was!"

Thereafter, Jurgen, standing among his dead, spread out his arms in
an embracing gesture.

"Hail to you, ladies, and farewell! for you and I have done with love.
Well, love is very pleasant to observe as he advances, overthrowing all
ancient memories with laughter. And yet for each gay lover who concedes
the lordship of love, and wears intrepidly love's liveries, the end of
all is death. Love's sowing is more agreeable than love's harvest: or,
let us put it, he allures us into byways leading nowhither, among
blossoms which fall before the first rough wind: so at the last, with
much excitement and breath and valuable time quite wasted, we find that
the end of all is death. Then would it have been more shrewd, dear
ladies, to have avoided love? To the contrary, we were unspeakably wise
to indulge the high-hearted insanity that love induced; since love alone
can lend young people rapture, however transiently, in a world wherein
the result of every human endeavor is transient, and the end of all is
death."

Then Jurgen courteously bowed to his dead loves, and left them, and
went forward as the cave stretched.

But now the light was behind him, so that Jurgen's shadow, as he
came to a sharp turn in the cave, loomed suddenly upon the cave
wall, confronting him. This shadow was clear-cut and unarguable.

Jurgen regarded it intently. He turned this way, then the other; he
looked behind him, raised one hand, shook his head tentatively; then
he twisted his head sideways with his chin well lifted, and squinted
so as to get a profile view of this shadow. Whatever Jurgen did the
shadow repeated, which was natural enough. The odd part was that it
in nothing resembled the shadow which ought to attend any man, and
this was an uncomfortable discovery to make in loneliness deep under
ground.

"I do not exactly like this," said Jurgen. "Upon my word, I do not
like this at all. It does not seem fair. It is perfectly
preposterous. Well"--and here he shrugged,--"well, and what could
anybody expect me to do about it? Ah, what indeed! So I shall treat
the incident with dignified contempt, and continue my exploration of
this cave."




9.

The Orthodox Rescue of Guenevere


Now the tale tells how the cave narrowed and again turned sharply,
so that Jurgen came as through a corridor into quite another sort of
underground chamber. Yet this also was a discomfortable place.

Here suspended from the roof of the vault was a kettle of quivering
red flames. These lighted a very old and villainous looking man in
full armor, girded with a sword, and crowned royally: he sat erect
upon a throne, motionless, with staring eyes that saw nothing. Back
of him Jurgen noted many warriors seated in rows, and all staring at
Jurgen with wide-open eyes that saw nothing. The red flaming of the
kettle was reflected in all these eyes, and to observe this was not
pleasant.

Jurgen waited non-committally. Nothing happened. Then Jurgen saw
that at this unengaging monarch's feet were three chests. The lids
had been ripped from two of them, and these were filled with silver
coins. Upon the middle chest, immediately before the king, sat a
woman, with her face resting against the knees of the glaring,
withered, motionless, old rascal.

"And this is a young woman. Obviously! Observe the glint of that
thick coil of hair! the rich curve of the neck! Oh, clearly, a
tidbit fit to fight for, against any moderate odds!"

So ran the thoughts of Jurgen. Bold as a dragon now, he stepped
forward and lifted the girl's head.

Her eyes were closed. She was, even so, the most beautiful creature
Jurgen had ever imagined.

"She does not breathe. And yet, unless memory fails me, this is
certainly a living woman in my arms. Evidently this is a sleep
induced by necromancy. Well, it is not for nothing I have read so
many fairy tales. There are orthodoxies to be observed in the
awakening of every enchanted princess. And Lisa, wherever she may
be, poor dear! is nowhere in this neighborhood, because I hear
nobody talking. So I may consider myself at liberty to do the
traditional thing by this princess. Indeed, it is the only fair
thing for me to do, and justice demands it."

In consequence, Jurgen kissed the girl. Her lips parted and
softened, and they assumed a not unpleasant sort of submissive
ardor. Her eyes, enormous when seen thus closely, had languorously
opened, had viewed him without wonder, and then the lids had fallen,
about half-way, just as, Jurgen remembered, the eyelids of a woman
ought to do when she is being kissed properly. She clung a little,
and now she shivered a little, but not with cold: Jurgen perfectly
remembered that ecstatic shudder convulsing a woman's body:
everything, in fine, was quite as it should be. So Jurgen put an end
to the kiss, which, as you may surmise, was a tolerably lengthy
affair.

His heart was pounding as though determined to burst from his body,
and he could feel the blood tingling at his finger-tips. He wondered
what in the world had come over him, who was too old for such
emotions.

Yet, truly, this was the loveliest girl that Jurgen had ever
imagined. Fair was she to look on, with her shining gray eyes and
small smiling lips, a fairer person might no man boast of having
seen. And she regarded Jurgen graciously, with her cheeks flushed by
that red flickering overhead, and she was very lovely to observe.
She was clothed in a robe of flame-colored silk, and about her neck
was a collar of red gold. When she spoke her voice was music.

"I knew that you would come," the girl said, happily.

"I am very glad that I came," observed Jurgen.

"But time presses."

"Time sets an admirable example, my dear Princess--"

"Oh, messire, but do you not perceive that you have brought life
into this horrible place! You have given of this life to me, in the
most direct and speedy fashion. But life is very contagious. Already
it is spreading by infection."

And Jurgen regarded the old king, as the girl indicated. The
withered ruffian stayed motionless: but from his nostrils came slow
augmenting jets of vapor, as though he were beginning to breathe in
a chill place. This was odd, because the cave was not cold.

"And all the others too are snorting smoke," says Jurgen. "Upon my
word I think this is a delightful place to be leaving."

First, though, he unfastened the king's sword-belt, and girded
himself therewith, sword, dagger and all. "Now I have arms befitting
my fine shirt," says Jurgen.

Then the girl showed him a sort of passage way, by which they
ascended forty-nine steps roughly hewn in stone, and so came to
daylight. At the top of the stairway was an iron trapdoor, and this
door at the girl's instruction Jurgen lowered. There was no way of
fastening the door from without.

"But Thragnar is not to be stopped by bolts or padlocks," the girl
said. "Instead, we must straightway mark this door with a cross,
since that is a symbol which Thragnar cannot pass."

Jurgen's hand had gone instinctively to his throat. Now he shrugged.
"My dear young lady, I no longer carry the cross. I must fight
Thragnar with other weapons."

"Two sticks will serve, laid crosswise--"

Jurgen submitted that nothing would be easier than to lift the
trapdoor, and thus dislodge the sticks. "They will tumble apart
without anyone having to touch them, and then what becomes of your
crucifix?"

"Why, how quickly you think of everything!" she said, admiringly.
"Here is a strip from my sleeve, then. We will tie the twigs
together."

Jurgen did this, and laid upon the trapdoor a recognizable crucifix.
"Still, when anyone raises the trapdoor whatever lies upon it will
fall off. Without disparaging the potency of your charm, I cannot
but observe that in this case it is peculiarly difficult to handle.
Magician or no, I would put heartier faith in a stout padlock."

So the girl tore another strip, from the hem of her gown, and then
another from her right sleeve, and with these they fastened their
cross to the surface of the trapdoor, in such a fashion that the
twigs could not be dislodged from beneath. They mounted the fine
steed whose bridle was marked with a coronet, the girl riding
pillion, and they turned westward, since the girl said this was
best.

For, as she now told Jurgen, she was Guenevere, the daughter of
Gogyrvan, King of Glathion and the Red Islands. So Jurgen told her
he was the Duke of Logreus, because he felt it was not appropriate
for a pawnbroker to be rescuing princesses: and he swore, too, that
he would restore her safely to her father, whatever Thragnar might
attempt. And all the story of her nefarious capture and imprisonment
by King Thragnar did Dame Guenevere relate to Jurgen, as they rode
together through the pleasant May morning.

She considered the Troll King could not well molest them. "For now
you have his charmed sword, Caliburn, the only weapon with which
Thragnar can be slain. Besides, the sign of the cross he cannot
pass. He beholds and trembles."

"My dear Princess, he has but to push up the trapdoor from beneath,
and the cross, being tied to the trapdoor, is promptly moved out of
his way. Failing this expedient, he can always come out of the cave
by the other opening, through which I entered. If this Thragnar has
any intelligence at all and a reasonable amount of tenacity, he will
presently be at hand."

"Even so, he can do no harm unless we accept a present from him. The
difficulty is that he will come in disguise."

"Why, then, we will accept gifts from nobody."

"There is, moreover, a sign by which you may distinguish Thragnar.
For if you deny what he says, he will promptly concede you are in
the right. This was the curse put upon him by Miramon Lluagor, for a
detection and a hindrance."

"By that unhuman trait," says Jurgen, "Thragnar ought to be very
easy to distinguish."




10.

Pitiful Disguises of Thragnar


Next, the tale tells that as Jurgen and the Princess were nearing
Gihon, a man came riding toward them, full armed in black, and
having a red serpent with an apple in its mouth painted upon his
shield.

"Sir knight," says he, speaking hollowly from the closed helmet,
"you must yield to me that lady."

"I think," says Jurgen, civilly, "that you are mistaken."

So they fought, and presently, since Caliburn was a resistless
weapon, and he who wore the scabbard of Caliburn could not be
wounded, Jurgen prevailed; and gave the strange knight so heavy a
buffet that the knight fell senseless.

"Do you think," says Jurgen, about to unlace his antagonist's
helmet, "that this is Thragnar?"

"There is no possible way of telling," replied Dame Guenevere: "if
it is the Troll King he should have offered you gifts, and when you
contradicted him he should have admitted you were right. Instead, he
proffered nothing, and to contradiction he answered nothing, so that
proves nothing."

"But silence is a proverbial form of assent. At all events, we will
have a look at him."

"But that too will prove nothing, since Thragnar goes about his
mischiefs so disguised by enchantments as invariably to resemble
somebody else, and not himself at all."

"Such dishonest habits introduce an element of uncertainty, I grant
you," says Jurgen. "Still, one can rarely err by keeping on the safe
side. This person is, in any event, a very ill-bred fellow, with
probably immoral intentions. Yes, caution is the main thing, and in
justice to ourselves we will keep on the safe side."

So without unloosing the helmet, he struck off the strange knight's
head, and left him thus. The Princess was now mounted on the horse
of their deceased assailant.

"Assuredly," says Jurgen then, "a magic sword is a fine thing, and a
very necessary equipment, too, for a knight errant of my age."

"But you talk as though you were an old man, Messire de Logreus!"

"Come now," thinks Jurgen, "this is a princess of rare
discrimination. What, after all, is forty-and-something when one is
well-preserved? This uncommonly intelligent girl reminds me a little
of Marcoueve, whom I loved in Artein: besides, she does not look at
me as women look at an elderly man. I like this princess, in fact, I
adore this princess. I wonder now what would she say if I told her
as much?"

But Jurgen did not tempt chance that time, for just then they
encountered a boy who had frizzed hair and painted cheeks. He walked
mincingly, in a curious garb of black bespangled with gold lozenges,
and he carried a gilded dung fork.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then Jurgen and the Princess came to a black and silver pavilion
standing by the roadside. At the door of the pavilion was an
apple-tree in blossom: from a branch of this tree was suspended
a black hunting-horn, silver-mounted. A woman waited there alone.
Before her was a chess-board, with the ebony and silver pieces set
ready for a game, and upon the table to her left hand glittered
flagons and goblets of silver. Eagerly this woman rose and came
toward the travellers.

"Oh, my dear Jurgen," says she, "but how fine you look in that new
shirt you are wearing! But there was never a man had better taste in
dress, as I have always said: and it is long I have waited for you
in this pavilion, which belongs to a black gentleman who seems to be
a great friend of yours. And he went into Crim Tartary this morning,
with some missionaries, by the worst piece of luck, for I know how
sorry he will be to miss you, dear. Now, but I am forgetting that
you must be very tired and thirsty, my darling, after your travels.
So do you and the young lady have a sip of this, and then we will be
telling one another of our adventures."

For this woman had the appearance of Jurgen's wife, Dame Lisa, and
of none other.

Jurgen regarded her with two minds. "You certainly seem to be Lisa.
But it is a long while since I saw Lisa in such an amiable mood."

"You must know," says she, still smiling, "that I have learned to
appreciate you since we were separated."

"The fiend who stole you from me may possibly have brought about
that wonder. None the less, you have met me riding at adventure with
a young woman. And you have assaulted neither of us, you have not
even raised your voice. No, quite decidedly, here is a miracle
beyond the power of any fiend."

"Ah, but I have been doing a great deal of thinking, Jurgen dear, as
to our difficulties in the past. And it seems to me that you were
almost always in the right."

Guenevere nudged Jurgen. "Did you note that? This is certainly
Thragnar in disguise."

"I am beginning to think that at all events it is not Lisa." Then
Jurgen magisterially cleared his throat. "Lisa, if you indeed be
Lisa, you must understand I am through with you. The plain truth is
that you tire me. You talk and talk: no woman breathing equals you
at mere volume and continuity of speech: but you say nothing that I
have not heard seven hundred and eighty times if not oftener."

"You are perfectly right, my dear," says Dame Lisa, piteously. "But
then I never pretended to be as clever as you."

"Spare me your beguilements, if you please. And besides, I am in
love with this princess. Now spare me your recriminations, also, for
you have no real right to complain. If you had stayed the person
whom I promised the priest to love, I would have continued to think
the world of you. But you did nothing of the sort. From a cuddlesome
and merry girl, who thought whatever I did was done to perfection,
you elected to develop into an uncommonly plain and short-tempered
old woman." And Jurgen paused. "Eh?" said he, "and did you not do
this?"

Dame Lisa answered sadly: "My dear, you are perfectly right, from
your way of thinking. However, I could not very well help getting
older."

"But, oh, dear me!" says Jurgen, "this is astonishingly inadequate
impersonation, as any married man would see at once. Well, I made no
contract to love any such plain and short-tempered person. I
repudiate the claims of any such person, as manifestly unfair. And I
pledge undying affection to this high and noble Princess Guenevere,
who is the fairest lady that I have ever seen."

"You are right," wailed Dame Lisa, "and I was entirely to blame. It
was because I loved you, and wanted you to get on in the world and
be a credit to my father's line of business, that I nagged you so.
But you will never understand the feelings of a wife, nor will you
understand that even now I desire your happiness above all else.
Here is our wedding-ring, then, Jurgen. I give you back your
freedom. And I pray that this princess may make you very happy, my
dear. For surely you deserve a princess if ever any man did."

Jurgen shook his head. "It is astounding that a demon so much talked
about should be so poor an impersonator. It raises the staggering
supposition that the majority of married women must go to Heaven. As
for your ring, I am not accepting gifts this morning, from anyone.
But you understand, I trust, that I am hopelessly enamored of the
Princess on account of her beauty."

"Oh, and I cannot blame you, my dear. She is the loveliest person I
have ever seen."

"Hah, Thragnar!" says Jurgen, "I have you now. A woman might, just
possibly, have granted her own homeliness: but no woman that ever
breathed would have conceded the Princess had a ray of good looks."

So with Caliburn he smote, and struck off the head of this thing
which foolishly pretended to be Dame Lisa.

"Well done! oh, bravely done!" cried Guenevere. "Now the enchantment
is dissolved, and Thragnar is slain by my clever champion."

"I could wish there were some surer sign of that," said Jurgen. "I
would have preferred that the pavilion and the decapitated Troll
King had vanished with a peal of thunder and an earthquake and such
other phenomena as are customary. Instead, nothing is changed except
that the woman who was talking to me a moment since now lies at my
feet in a very untidy condition. You conceive, madame, I used to
tease her about that twisted little-finger, in the days before we
began to squabble: and it annoys me that Thragnar should not have
omitted even Lisa's crooked little-finger on her left hand. Yes,
such painstaking carefulness worries me. For you conceive also,
madame, it would be more or less awkward if I had made an error, and
if the appearance were in reality what it seemed to be, because I
was pretty trying sometimes. At all events, I have done that which
seemed equitable, and I have found no comfort in the doing of it,
and I do not like this place."




11.

Appearance of the Duke of Logreus


So Jurgen brushed from the table the chessmen that were set there in
readiness for a game, and he emptied the silver flagons upon the
ground. His reasons for not meddling with the horn he explained to
the Princess: she shivered, and said that, such being the case, he
was certainly very sensible. Then they mounted, and departed from
the black and silver pavilion. They came thus without further
adventure to Gogyrvan Gawr's city of Cameliard.

Now there was shouting and the bells all rang when the people knew
their Princess was returned to them: the houses were hung with
painted cloths and banners, and trumpets sounded, as Guenevere and
Jurgen came to the King in his Hall of Judgment. And this Gogyrvan,
that was King of Glathion and Lord of Enisgarth and Camwy and
Sargyll, came down from his wide throne, and he embraced first
Guenevere, then Jurgen.

"And demand of me what you will, Duke of Logreus," said Gogyrvan,
when he had heard the champion's name, "and it is yours for the
asking. For you have restored to me the best loved daughter that
ever was the pride of a high king."

"Sir," replied Jurgen, reasonably, "a service rendered so gladly
should be its own reward. So I am asking that you do in turn restore
to me the Princess Guenevere, in honorable marriage, do you
understand, because I am a poor lorn widower, I am tolerably
certain, but I am quite certain I love your daughter with my whole
heart."

Thus Jurgen, whose periods were confused by emotion.

"I do not see what the condition of your heart has to do with any
such unreasonable request. And you have no good sense to be asking
this thing of me when here are the servants of Arthur, that is now
King of the Britons, come to ask for my daughter as his wife. That
you are Duke of Logreus you tell me, and I concede a duke is all
very well: but I expect you in return to concede a king takes
precedence, with any man whose daughter is marriageable. But
to-morrow or the next day it may be, you and I will talk over
your reward more privately. Meanwhile it is very queer and very
frightened you are looking, to be the champion who conquered
Thragnar."

For Jurgen was staring at the great mirror behind the King's throne.
In this mirror Jurgen saw the back of Gogyrvan's crowned head, and
beyond this, Jurgen saw a queer and frightened looking young fellow,
with sleek black hair, and an impudent nose, and wide-open bright
brown eyes which were staring hard at Jurgen: and the lad's very red
and very heavy lips were parted, so that you saw what fine strong
teeth he had: and he wore a glittering shirt with curious figures on
it

"I was thinking," says Jurgen, and he saw the lad in the mirror was
speaking too, "I was thinking that is a remarkable mirror you have
there."

"It is like any other mirror," replies the King, "in that it shows
things as they are. But if you fancy it as your reward, why, take it
and welcome."

"And are you still talking of rewards!" cries Jurgen. "Why, if that
mirror shows things as they are, I have come out of my borrowed
Wednesday still twenty-one. Oh, but it was the clever fellow I was,
to flatter Mother Sereda so cunningly, and to fool her into such
generosity! And I wonder that you who are only a king, with bleared
eyes under your crown, and with a drooping belly under all your
royal robes, should be talking of rewarding a fine young fellow of
twenty-one, for there is nothing you have which I need be wanting
now."

"Then you will not be plaguing me any more with your nonsense about
my daughter: and that is excellent news."

"But I have no requirement to be asking your good graces now," said
Jurgen, "nor the good will of any man alive that has a handsome
daughter or a handsome wife. For now I have the aid of a lad that
was very recently made Duke of Logreus: and with his countenance I
can look out for myself, and I can get justice done me everywhere,
in all the bedchambers of the world."

And Jurgen snapped his fingers, and was about to turn away from the
King. There was much sunlight in the hall, so that Jurgen in this
half-turn confronted his shadow as it lay plain upon the flagstones.
And Jurgen looked at it very intently.

"Of course," said Jurgen presently, "I only meant in a manner of
speaking, sir: and was paraphrasing the splendid if hackneyed
passage from Sornatius, with which you are doubtless familiar, in
which he goes on to say, so much more beautifully than I could
possibly express without quoting him word for word, that all this
was spoken jestingly, and without the least intention of offending
anybody, oh, anybody whatever, I can assure you, sir."

"Very well," said Gogyrvan Gawr: and he smiled, for no reason that
was apparent to Jurgen, who was still watching his shadow sidewise.
"To-morrow, I repeat, I must talk with you more privately. To-day I
am giving a banquet such as was never known in these parts, because
my daughter is restored to me, and because my daughter is going to
be queen over all the Britons."

So said Gogyrvan, that was King of Glathion and Lord of Enisgarth
and Camwy and Sargyll: and this was done. And everywhere at the
banquet Jurgen heard talk of this King Arthur who was to marry Dame
Guenevere, and of the prophecy which Merlin Ambrosius had made as to
the young monarch. For Merlin had predicted:

"He shall afford succor, and shall tread upon the necks of his
enemies: the isles of the ocean shall be subdued by him, and he
shall possess the forests of Gaul: the house of Romulus shall fear
his rage, and his acts shall be food for the narrators."

"Why, then," says Jurgen, to himself, "this monarch reminds me in
all things of David of Israel, who was so splendid and famous, and
so greedy, in the ancient ages. For to these forests and islands and
necks and other possessions, this Arthur Pendragon must be adding my
one ewe lamb; and I lack a Nathan to convert him to repentance. Now,
but this, to be sure, is a very unfair thing."

Then Jurgen looked again into a mirror: and presently the eyes of
the lad he found therein began to twinkle.

"Have at you, David!" said Jurgen, valorously; "since after all, I
see no reason to despair."




12.

Excursus of Yolande's Undoing


Now Jurgen, self-appointed Duke of Logreus, abode at the court of
King Gogyrvan. The month of May passed quickly and pleasantly: but
the monstrous shadow which followed Jurgen did not pass. Still, no
one noticed it: that was the main thing. For himself, he was not
afraid of shadows, and the queerness of this one was not enough to
distract his thoughts from Guenevere, nor from his love-making with
Guenevere.

For these were quiet times in Glathion, now that the war with Rience
of Northgalis was satisfactorily ended: and love-making was now
everywhere in vogue. By way of diversion, gentlemen hunted and
fished and rode a-hawking and amicably slashed and battered one
another in tournaments: but their really serious pursuit was
lovemaking, after the manner of chivalrous persons, who knew that
the King's trumpets would presently be summoning them into less
softly furnished fields of action, from one or another of which they
would return feet foremost on a bier. So Jurgen sighed and warbled
and made eyes with many excellent fighting-men: and the Princess
listened with many other ladies whose hearts were not of flint. And
Gogyrvan meditated.

Now it was the kingly custom of Gogyrvan when his dinner was spread
at noontide, not to go to meat until all such as demanded justice
from him had been furnished with a champion to redress the wrong.
One day as the gaunt old King sat thus in his main hall, upon a seat
of green rushes covered with yellow satin, and with a cushion of
yellow satin under his elbow, and with his barons ranged about him
according to their degrees, a damsel came with a very heart-rending
tale of the oppression that was on her.

Gogyrvan blinked at her, and nodded. "You are the handsomest woman I
have seen in a long while," says he, irrelevantly. "You are a woman
I have waited for. Duke Jurgen of Logreus will undertake this
adventure."

There being no help for it, Jurgen rode off with this Dame Yolande,
not very well pleased: but as they rode he jested with her. And so,
with much laughter by the way, Yolande conducted him to the Green
Castle, of which she had been dispossessed by Graemagog, a most
formidable giant.

"Now prepare to meet your death, sir knight!" cried Graemagog,
laughing horribly, and brandishing his club; "for all knights who
come hither I have sworn to slay."

"Well, if truth-telling were a sin you would be a very virtuous
giant," says Jurgen, and he flourished Thragnar's sword, resistless
Caliburn.

Then they fought, and Jurgen killed Graemagog. Thus was the Green
Castle restored to Dame Yolande, and the maidens who attended her
aforetime were duly released from the cellarage. They were now
maidens by courtesy only, but so tender is the heart of women that
they all wept over Graemagog.

Yolande was very grateful, and proffered every manner of reward.

"But, no, I will take none of these fine jewels, nor money, nor
lands either," says Jurgen. "For Logreus, I must tell you, is a
fairly well-to-do duchy, and the killing of giants is by way of
being my favorite pastime. He is well paid that is well satisfied.
Yet if you must reward me for such a little service, do you swear to
do what you can to get me the love of my lady, and that will
suffice."

Yolande, without any particular enthusiasm, consented to attempt
this: and indeed Yolande, at Jurgen's request, made oath upon the
Four Evangelists that she would do everything within her power to
aid him.

"Very well," said Jurgen, "you have sworn, and it is you whom I
love."

Surprise now made her lovely. Yolande was frankly delighted at the
thought of marrying the young Duke of Logreus, and offered to send
for a priest at once.

"My dear," says Jurgen, "there is no need to bother a priest about
our private affairs."

She took his meaning, and sighed. "Now I regret," said she, "that I
made so solemn an oath. Your trick was unfair."

"Oh, not at all," said Jurgen: "and presently you will not regret
it. For indeed the game is well worth the candle."

"How is that shown, Messire de Logreus?"

"Why, by candle-light," says Jurgen,--"naturally."

"In that event, we will talk no further of it until this evening."

So that evening Yolande sent for him. She was, as Gogyrvan had said,
a remarkably handsome woman, sleek and sumptuous and crowned with a
wealth of copper-colored hair. To-night she was at her best in a
tunic of shimmering blue, with a surcote of gold embroidery, and
with gold embroidered pendent sleeves that touched the floor. Thus
she was when Jurgen came to her.

"Now," says Yolande, frowning, "you may as well come out
straightforwardly with what you were hinting at this morning."

But first Jurgen looked about the apartment, and it was lighted by a
tall gilt stand whereon burned candles.

He counted these, and he whistled. "Seven candles! upon my word,
sweetheart, you do me great honor, for this is a veritable
illumination. To think of it, now, that you should honor me, as
people do saints, with seven candles! Well, I am only mortal, but
none the less I am Jurgen, and I shall endeavor to repay this
sevenfold courtesy without discount."

"Oh, Messire de Logreus," cried Dame Yolande, "but what
incomprehensible nonsense you talk! You misinterpret matters, for I
can assure you I had nothing of that sort in mind. Besides, I do not
know what you are talking about."

"Indeed, I must warn you that my actions often speak more
unmistakably than my words. It is what learned persons term an
idiosyncrasy."

"--And I certainly do not see how any of the saints can be concerned
in this. If you had said the Four Evangelists now--! For we were
talking of the Four Evangelists, you remember, this morning--Oh, but
how stupid it is of you, Messire de Logreus, to stand there grinning
and looking at me in a way that makes me blush!"

"Well, that is easily remedied," said Jurgen, as he blew out the
candles, "since women do not blush in the dark."

"What do you plan, Messire de Logreus?"

"Ah, do not be alarmed!" said Jurgen. "I shall deal fairly with
you."

And in fact Yolande confessed afterward that, considering
everything, Messire de Logreus was very generous. Jurgen confessed
nothing: and as the room was profoundly dark nobody else can speak
with authority as to what happened there. It suffices that the Duke
of Logreus and the Lady of the Green Castle parted later on the most
friendly terms.

"You have undone me, with your games and your candles and your
scrupulous returning of courtesies," said Yolande, and yawned, for
she was sleepy; "but I fear that I do not hate you as much as I
ought to."

"No woman ever does," says Jurgen, "at this hour." He called for
breakfast, then kissed Yolande--for this, as Jurgen had said, was
their hour of parting,--and he rode away from the Green Castle in
high spirits.

"Why, what a thing it is again to be a fine young fellow!" said
Jurgen. "Well, even though her big brown eyes protrude too
much--something like a lobster's--she is a splendid woman, that Dame
Yolande: and it is a comfort to reflect I have seen justice was done
her."

Then he rode back to Cameliard, singing with delight in the thought
that he was riding toward the Princess Guenevere, whom he loved with
his whole heart.




13.

Philosophy of Gogyrvan Gawr


At Cameliard the young Duke of Logreus spent most of his time in the
company of Guenevere, whose father made no objection overtly.
Gogyrvan had his promised talk with Jurgen.

"I lament that Dame Yolande dealt over-thriftily with you," the King
said, first of all: "for I estimated you two would be as spark and
tinder, kindling between you an amorous conflagration to burn up all
this nonsense about my daughter."

"Thrift, sir," said Jurgen, discreetly, "is a proverbial virtue, and
fires may not consume true love."

"That is the truth," Gogyrvan admitted, "whoever says it." And he
sighed.

Then for a while he sat in nodding meditation. Tonight the old King
wore a disreputably rusty gown of black stuff, with fur about the
neck and sleeves of it, and his scant white hair was covered by a
very shabby black cap. So he huddled over a small fire in a large
stone fireplace carved with shields; beside him was white wine and
red, which stayed untasted while Gogyrvan meditated upon things that
fretted him.

"Now, then!" says Gogyrvan Gawr: "this marriage with the high King
of the Britons must go forward, of course. That was settled last
year, when Arthur and his devil-mongers, the Lady of the Lake and
Merlin Ambrosius, were at some pains to rescue me at Carohaise. I
estimate that Arthur's ambassadors, probably the devil-mongers
themselves, will come for my daughter before June is out. Meanwhile,
you two have youth and love for playthings, and it is spring."

"What is the season of the year to me," groaned Jurgen, "when I
reflect that within a week or so the lady of my heart will be borne
away from me forever? How can I be happy, when all the while I know
the long years of misery and vain regret are near at hand?"

"You are saying that," observed the King, "in part because you drank
too much last night, and in part because you think it is expected of
you. For in point of fact, you are as happy as anyone is permitted
to be in this world, through the simple reason that you are young.
Misery, as you employ the word, I consider to be a poetical trophe:
but I can assure you that the moment you are no longer young the
years of vain regret will begin, either way."

"That is true," said Jurgen, heartily.

"How do you know? Now then, put it I were insane enough to marry my
daughter to a mere duke, you would grow damnably tired of her: I can
assure you of that also, for in disposition Guenevere is her sainted
mother all over again. She is nice looking, of course, because in
that she takes after my side of the family: but, between ourselves,
she is not particularly intelligent, and she will always be making
eyes at some man or another. To-day it appears to be your turn to
serve as her target, in a fine glittering shirt of which the like
was never seen in Glathion. I deplore, but even so I cannot deny,
your rights as the champion who rescued her: and I must bid you make
the most of that turn."

"Meanwhile, it occurs to me, sir, that it is unusual to betroth your
daughter to one man, and permit her to go freely with another."

"If you insist upon it," said Gogyrvan Gawr, "I can of course lock
up the pair of you, in separate dungeons, until the wedding day.
Meanwhile, it occurs to me you should be the last commentator to
grumble."

"Why, I tell you plainly, sir, that critical persons would say you
are taking very small care of your daughter's honor."

"To that there are several answers," replied the King. "One is that
I remember my late wife as tenderly as possible, and I reflect I
have only her word for it as to Guenevere's being my daughter.
Another is that, though my daughter is a quiet and well-conducted
young woman, I never heard King Thragnar was anything of this sort."

"Oh, sir," said Jurgen, horrified, "whatever are you hinting!"

"All sorts of things, however, happen in caves, things which it is
wiser to ignore in sunlight. So I ignore: I ask no questions: my
business is to marry my daughter acceptably, and that only. Such
discoveries as may be made by her husband afterward are his affair,
not mine. This much I might tell you, Messire de Logreus, by way of
answer. But the real answer is to bid you consider this: that a
woman's honor is concerned with one thing only, and it is a thing
with which the honor of a man is not concerned at all."

"But now you talk in riddles, King, and I wonder what it is you
would have me do."

Gogyrvan grinned. "Obviously, I advise you to give thanks you were
born a man, because that sturdier sex has so much less need to
bother over breakage."

"What sort of breakage, sir?" says Jurgen.

Gogyrvan told him.

Duke Jurgen for the second time looked properly horrified. "Your
aphorisms, King, are abominable, and of a sort unlikely to quiet my
misery. However, we were speaking of your daughter, and it is she
who must be considered rather than I."

"Now I perceive that you take my meaning perfectly. Yes, in all
matters which concern my daughter I would have you lie like a
gentleman."

"Well, I am afraid, sir," said Jurgen, after a pause, "that you are
a person of somewhat degraded ideals."

"Ah, but you are young. Youth can afford ideals, being vigorous
enough to stand the hard knocks they earn their possessor. But I am
an old fellow cursed with a tender heart and tolerably keen eyes.
That combination, Messire de Logreus, is one which very often forces
me to jeer out of season, simply because I know myself to be upon
the verge of far more untimely tears."

Thus Gogyrvan replied. He was silent for a while, and he
contemplated the fire. Then he waved a shriveled hand toward the
window, and Gogyrvan began to speak, meditatively:

"Messire de Logreus, it is night in my city of Cameliard. And
somewhere one of those roofs harbors a girl whom we will call
Lynette. She has a lover--we will say he is called Sagramor. The
names do not matter. Tonight, as I speak with you, Lynette lies
motionless in the carved wide bed that formerly was her mother's.
She is thinking of Sagramor. The room is dark save where moonlight
silvers the diamond-shaped panes of ancient windows. In every corner
of the room mysterious quivering suggestions lurk."

"Ah, sire," says Jurgen, "you also are a poet!"

"Do not interrupt me, then! Lynette, I repeat, is thinking of Sagramor.
Again they sit near the lake, under an apple-tree older than Rome.
The knotted branches of the tree are upraised as in benediction:
and petals--petals, fluttering, drifting, turning,--interminable white
petals fall silently in the stillness. Neither speaks: for there is no
need. Silently he brushes a petal from the blackness of her hair, and
silently he kisses her. The lake is dusky and hard-seeming as jade.
Two lonely stars hang low in the green sky. It is droll that the chest
of a man is hairy, oh, very droll! And a bird is singing, a silvery
needle of sound moves fitfully in the stillness. Surely high Heaven
is thus quietly colored and thus strangely lovely. So at least thinks
little Lynette, lying motionless like a little mouse, in the carved
wide bed wherein Lynette was born."

"A very moving touch, that," Jurgen interpolated.

"Now, there is another sort of singing: for now the pot-house
closes, big shutters bang, feet shuffle, a drunken man hiccoughs in
his singing. It is a love-song he is murdering. He sheds
inexplicable tears as he lurches nearer and nearer to Lynette's
window, and his heart is all magnanimity, for Sagramor is
celebrating his latest conquest. Do you not think that this or
something very like this is happening to-night in my city of
Cameliard, Messire de Logreus?".

"It happens momently," said Jurgen, "everywhere. For thus is every
woman for a little while, and thus is every man for all time."

"That being a dreadful truth," continued Gogyrvan, "you may take it
as one of the many reasons why I jeer out of season in order to
stave off far more untimely tears. For this thing happens: in my
city it happens, and in my castle it happens. King or no, I am
powerless to prevent its happening. So I can but shrug and hearten
my old blood with a fresh bottle. No less, I regard the young woman,
who is quite possibly my daughter, with considerable affection: and
it would be salutary for you to remember that circumstance, Messire
de Logreus, if ever you are tempted to be candid."

Jurgen was horrified. "But with the Princess, sir, it is unthinkable
that I should not deal fairly."

King Gogyrvan continued to look at Jurgen. Gogyrvan Gawr said
nothing, and not a muscle of him moved.

"Although of course," said Jurgen, "I would, in simple justice to
her, not ever consider volunteering any information likely to cause
pain."

"Again I perceive," said Gogyrvan, "that you understand me. Yet I
did not speak of my daughter only, but of everybody."

"How then, sir, would you have me deal with everybody?"

"Why, I can but repeat my words," says Gogyrvan, very patiently: "I
would have you lie like a gentleman. And now be off with you, for I
am going to sleep. I shall not be wide awake again until my daughter
is safely married. And that is absolutely all I can do for you."

"Do you think this is reputable conduct, King?"

"Oh, no!" says Gogyrvan, surprised. "It is what we call
philanthropy."




14.

Preliminary Tactics of Duke Jurgen


So Jurgen abode at court, and was tolerably content for a little
while. He loved a princess, the fairest and most perfect of mortal
women; and loved her (a circumstance to which he frequently
recurred) as never any other man had loved in the world's history:
and very shortly he was to stand by and see her married to another.
Here was a situation to delight the chivalrous court of Glathion,
for every requirement of romance was exactly fulfilled.

Now the appearance of Guenevere, whom Jurgen loved with an entire
heart, was this:--She was of middling height, with a figure not yet
wholly the figure of a woman. She had fine and very thick hair, and
the color of it was the yellow of corn floss. When Guenevere undid
her hair it was a marvel to Jurgen to note how snugly this hair
descended about the small head and slender throat, and then
broadened boldly and clothed her with a loose soft foam of pallid
gold. For Jurgen delighted in her hair; and with increasing
intimacy, loved to draw great strands of it back of his head,
crossing them there, and pressing soft handfuls of her perfumed hair
against his cheeks as he kissed the Princess.

The head of Guenevere, be it repeated, was small: you wondered at
the proud free tossing movements of that little head which had to
sustain the weight of so much hair. The face of Guenevere was
colored tenderly and softly: it made the faces of other women seem
the work of a sign-painter, just splotched in anyhow. Gray eyes had
Guenevere, veiled by incredibly long black lashes that curved
incredibly. Her brows arched rather high above her eyes: that was
almost a fault. Her nose was delicate and saucy: her chin was
impudence made flesh: and her mouth was a tiny and irresistible
temptation.

"And so on, and so on! But indeed there is no sense at all in
describing this lovely girl as though I were taking an inventory of
my shopwindow," said Jurgen. "Analogues are all very well, and they
have the unanswerable sanction of custom: none the less, when I
proclaim that my adored mistress's hair reminds me of gold I am
quite consciously lying. It looks like yellow hair, and nothing
else: nor would I willingly venture within ten feet of any woman
whose head sprouted with wires, of whatever metal. And to protest
that her eyes are as gray and fathomless as the sea is very well
also, and the sort of thing which seems expected of me: but imagine
how horrific would be puddles of water slopping about in a lady's
eye-sockets! If we poets could actually behold the monsters we rhyme
of, we would scream and run. Still, I rather like this sirvente."

For he was making a sirvente in praise of Guenevere. It was the
pleasant custom of Gogyrvan's court that every gentleman must
compose verses in honor of the lady of whom he was hopelessly
enamored; as well as that in these verses he should address the lady
(as one whose name was too sacred to mention) otherwise than did her
sponsors. So Duke Jurgen of Logreus duly rhapsodized of his
Phyllida.

"I borrow for my dear love the appellation of that noted but by much
inferior lady who was beloved by Ariphus of Belsize," he explained.
"You will remember Poliger suspects she was a princess of the house of
Scleroveus: and you of course recall Pisander's masterly summing-up of
the probabilities, in his _Heraclea_."

"Oh, yes," they said. And the courtiers of Gogyrvan Gawr, like
Mother Sereda, were greatly impressed by young Duke Jurgen's
erudition.

For Jurgen was Duke of Logreus nowadays, with his glittering shirt
and the coronet upon his bridle to show for it. Awkwardly this
proved to be an earl's coronet, but incongruities are not always
inexplicable.

"It was Earl Giarmuid's horse. You have doubtless heard of Giarmuid:
but to ask that is insulting."

"Oh, not at all. It is humor. We perfectly understand your humor,
Duke Jurgen."

"And a very pretty fighter I found this famous Giarmuid as I
traveled westward. And since he killed my steed in the heat of our
conversation, I was compelled to take over his horse, after I had
given this poor Giarmuid proper interment. Oh, yes, a very pretty
fighter, and I had heard much talk of him in Logreus. He was Lord of
Ore and Persaunt, you remember, though of course the estate came by
his mother's side."

"Oh, yes," they said. "You must not think that we of Glathion are
quite shut out from the great world. We have heard of all these
affairs. And we have also heard fine things of your duchy of
Logreus, messire."

"Doubtless," said Jurgen; and turned again to his singing.

"Lo, for I pray to thee, resistless Love," he descanted, "that thou
to-day make cry unto my love, to Phyllida whom I, poor Logreus, love
so tenderly, not to deny me love! Asked why, say thou my drink and
food is love, in days wherein I think and brood on love, and truly
find naught good in aught save love, since Phyllida hath taught me
how to love."

Here Jurgen groaned with nicely modulated ardor; and he continued:
"If she avow such constant hate of love as would ignore my great and
constant love, plead thou no more! With listless lore of love woo
Death resistlessly, resistless Love, in place of her that saith such
scorn of love as lends to Death the lure and grace I love."

Thus Jurgen sang melodiously of his Phyllida, and meant thereby (as
everybody knew) the Princess Guenevere. Since custom compelled him
to deal in analogues, he dealt wholesale. Gems and metals, the
blossoms of the field and garden, fires and wounds and sunrises and
perfumes, an armory of lethal weapons, ice and a concourse of
mythological deities were his starting-point. Then the seas
and heavens were dredged of phenomena to be mentioned with
disparagement, in comparison with one or another feature of Duke
Jurgen's Phyllida. Zoology and history, and generally the remembered
contents of his pawnshop, were overhauled and made to furnish
targets for depreciation: whereas in dealing with the famous ladies
loved by earlier poets, Duke Jurgen was positively insulting,
allowing hardly a rag of merit. Still, he was careful to be just:
and he allowed that these poor creatures might figure advantageously
enough in eyes which had never beheld his Phyllida. And to all this
information the lady whom he hymned attended willingly.

"She is a princess," reflected Jurgen. "She is quite beautiful. She
is young, and whatever her father's opinion, she is reasonably
intelligent, as women go. Nobody could ask more. Why, then, am I not
out of my head about her? Already she permits a kiss or two when
nobody is around, and presently she will permit more. And she thinks
I am quite the cleverest person living. Come, Jurgen, man! is there
no heart in this spry young body you have regained? Come, let us
have a little honest rapture and excitement over this promising
situation!"

But somehow Jurgen could not manage it. He was interested in what,
he knew, was going to happen. Yes, undoubtedly he looked forward to
more intimate converse with this beautiful young princess, but it
was rather as one anticipates partaking of a favorite dessert.
Jurgen felt that a liaison arranged for in this spirit was neither
one thing or the other.

"If only I could feel like a cold-blooded villain, now, I would at
worst be classifiable. But I intend the girl no harm, I am honestly
fond of her. I shall talk my best, broaden her ideas, and give her,
I flatter myself, considerable pleasure: vulgar prejudices apart, I
shall leave her no whit the worse. Why, the dear little thing, not
for the ransom of seven emperors would I do her any hurt! And in
these matters discretion is everything, simply everything. No, quite
decidedly, I am not a cold-blooded villain; and I shall deal fairly
with the Princess."

Thus Jurgen was disappointed by his own emotions, as he turned them
from side to side, and prodded them, and shifted to a fresh
viewpoint, only to find it no more favorable than the one
relinquished: but he veiled the inadequacy of his emotions with very
moving fervors. The tale does not record his conversations with
Guenevere: for Jurgen now discoursed plain idiocy, as one purveys
sweetmeats to a child in fond astonishment at the pet's appetite.
And leisurely Jurgen advanced: there was no hurry, with weeks
wherein to accomplish everything: meanwhile this routine work had a
familiar pleasantness.

For the amateur co-ordinates matters, knowing that one thing
axiomatically leads to another. There is no harm at all in
respectful allusions to a love that comprehends its hopelessness: it
was merely a fact which Jurgen mentioned, and was about to pass on;
only Guenevere, in modesty, was forced to disparage her own
attractions, as an inadequate cause for so much misery. Common
courtesy demanded that Jurgen enter upon a rebuttal. To emphasize
one point in this, the orator was forced to take the hand of his
audience: but strangers did that every day, with nobody objecting;
moreover, the hand was here, not so much seized as displayed by its
detainer, as evidence of what he contended. How else was he to prove
the Princess of Glathion had the loveliest hand in the world? It was
not a matter he could request Guenevere to accept on hearsay: and
Jurgen wanted to deal fairly with her.

Well, but before relinquishing the loveliest hand in the world a
connoisseur will naturally kiss each fingertip: this is merely a
tribute to perfection, and has no personal application. Besides, a
kiss, wherever deposited, as Jurgen pointed out, is, when you think
of it, but a ceremonial, of no intrinsic wrongfulness. The girl
demurring against this apothegm--as custom again exacted,--was,
still in common fairness, convinced of her error. So now, says
Jurgen presently, you see for yourself. Is anything changed between
us? Do we not sit here, just as we were before? Why, to be sure! a
kiss is now attestedly a quite innocuous performance, with nothing
very fearful about it one way or the other. It even has its pleasant
side. Thus there is no need to make a pother over kisses or over an
arm about you, when it is more comfortable sitting so: how can one
reasonably deny to a sincere friend what is accorded to a cousin or
an old cloak? It would be nonsense, as Jurgen demonstrated with a
very apt citation from Napsacus.

Then, sitting so, in the heat of conversation a speaker naturally
gesticulates: and a deal of his eloquence is dependent upon his
hands. When anyone is talking it is discourteous to interrupt,
whereas to lay hold of a gentleman's hand outright, as Jurgen
parenthesized, is a little forward. No, he really did not think it
would be quite proper for Guenevere to hold his hand. Let us
preserve decorum, even in trifles.

"Ah, but you know that you are doing wrong!"

"I doing wrong! I, who am simply sitting here and talking my poor
best in an effort to entertain you! Come now, Princess, but tell me
what you mean!"

"You should know very well what I mean."

"But I protest to you I have not the least notion. How can I
possibly know what you mean when you refuse to tell me what you
mean?"

And since the Princess declined to put into words just what she
meant, things stayed as they were, for the while.

Thus did Jurgen co-ordinate matters, knowing that one thing
axiomatically leads to another. And in short, affairs sped very much
as Jurgen had anticipated.

Now, by ordinary, Jurgen talked with Guenevere in dimly lighted
places. He preferred this, because then he was not bothered by that
unaccountable shadow whose presence in sunlight put him out. Nobody
ever seemed to notice this preposterous shadow; it was patent,
indeed, that nobody could see it save Jurgen: none the less, the
thing worried him. So even from the first he remembered Guenevere as
a soft voice and a delectable perfume in twilight, as a beauty not
clearly visioned.

And Gogyrvan's people worried him. The hook-nosed tall old King had
been by Jurgen dismissed from thought, as an enigma not important
enough to be worth the trouble of solving. Gogyrvan at once seemed
to be schooling himself to patience under some private annoyance and
to be revolving in his mind some private jest; he was queer, and
probably abominable: but to grant the old rascal his due, he was not
meddlesome.

The people about Gogyrvan, though, were perplexing. These men who
considered that all you possessed was loaned you to devote to the
service of your God, your King and every woman who crossed your
path, could hardly be behaving rationally. To talk of serving God
sounded as sonorously and as inspiritingly as a drum: yes, and a
drum had nothing but air in it. The priests said so-and-so: but did
anybody believe the gallant Bishop of Merion, for example, was
always to be depended upon?

"I would like the opinion of Prince Evrawc's wife as to that," said
Jurgen, with a grin. For it was well-known that all affairs between
this Dame Alundyne and the Bishop were so discreetly managed as to
afford no reason for any scandal whatever.

As for serving the King, there in plain view was Gogyrvan Gawr, for
anyone who so elected, to regard and grow enthusiastic over:
Gogyrvan might be shrewd enough, but to Jurgen he suggested very
little of the Lord's anointed. To the contrary, he reminded you of
Jurgen's brother-in-law, the grocer, without being graced by the
tradesman's friendly interest in customers. Gogyrvan Gawr was a
person whom Jurgen simply could not imagine any intelligent Deity
selecting as steward. And finally, when it came to serving women,
what sort of service did women most cordially appreciate? Jurgen had
his answer pat enough, but it was an answer not suitable for
utterance in a mixed company.

"No one of my honest opinions, in fact, is adapted to further my
popularity in Glathion, because I am a monstrous clever fellow who
does justice to things as they are. Therefore I must remember
always, in justice to myself, that I very probably hold traffic with
madmen. Yet Rome was a fine town, and it was geese who saved it.
These people may be right; and certainly I cannot go so far as to
say they are wrong: but still, at the same time--! Yes, that is how
I feel about it."

Thus did Jurgen abide at the chivalrous court of Glathion, and
conform to all its customs. In the matter of love-songs nobody
protested more movingly that the lady whom he loved (quite
hopelessly, of course), embodied all divine perfections: and when it
came to knightly service, the possession of Caliburn made the
despatching of thieves and giants and dragons seem hardly
sportsmanlike. Still, Jurgen fought a little, now and then, in order
to conform to the customs of Glathion: and the Duke of Logreus was
widely praised as a very promising young knight.

And all the while he fretted because he could just dimly perceive
that ideal which was served in Glathion, and the beauty of this
ideal, but could not possibly believe in it. Here was, again, a
loveliness perceived in twilight, a beauty not clearly visioned.

"Yet am not I a monstrous clever fellow," he would console himself,
"to take them all in so completely? It is a joke to which, I think,
I do full justice."

So Jurgen abode among these persons to whom life was a high-hearted
journeying homeward. God the Father awaited you there, ready to
punish at need, but eager to forgive, after the manner of all
fathers: that one became a little soiled in traveling, and sometimes
blundered into the wrong lane, was a matter which fathers
understood: meanwhile here was an ever-present reminder of His
perfection incarnated in woman, the finest and the noblest of His
creations. Thus was every woman a symbol to be honored magnanimously
and reverently. So said they all.

"Why, but to be sure!" assented Jurgen. And in support of his
position he very edifyingly quoted Ophelion, and Fabianus Papirius,
and Sextius Niger to boot.




15.

Of compromises in Glathion


The tale records that it was not a great while before, in simple
justice to Guenevere, Duke Jurgen had afforded her the advantage of
frank conversation in actual privacy. For conventions have to be
regarded, of course. Thus the time of a princess is not her own, and
at any hour of day all sorts of people are apt to request an
audience just when some most improving conversation is progressing
famously: but the Hall of Judgment stood vacant and unguarded at
night.

"But I would never consider doing such a thing," said Guenevere:
"and whatever must you think of me, to make such a proposal!"

"That too, my dearest, is a matter which I can only explain in
private."

"And if I were to report your insolence to my father--"

"You would annoy him exceedingly: and from such griefs it is our
duty to shield the aged."

"And besides, I am afraid."

"Oh, my dearest," says Jurgen, and his voice quavered, because his
love and his sorrow seemed very great to him: "but, oh, my dearest,
can it be that you have not faith in me! For with all my body and
soul I love you, as I have loved you ever since I first raised your
face between my hands, and understood that I had never before known
beauty. Indeed, I love you as, I think, no man has ever loved any
woman that lived in the long time that is gone, for my love is
worship, and no less. The touch of your hand sets me to trembling,
dear; and the look of your gray eyes makes me forget there is
anything of pain or grief or evil anywhere: for you are the
loveliest thing God ever made, with joy in the new skill that had
come to His fingers. And you have not faith in me!"

Then the Princess gave a little sobbing laugh of content and
repentance, and she clasped the hand of her grief-stricken lover.
"Forgive me, Jurgen, for I cannot bear to see you so unhappy!"

"Ah, and what is my grief to you!" he asks of her, bitterly.

"Much, oh, very much, my dear!" she whispered.

So in the upshot Jurgen was never to forget that moment wherein he
waited behind the door, and through the crack between the half-open
door and the door-frame saw Guenevere approach irresolutely, a
wavering white blur in the dark corridor. She came to talk with him
where they would not be bothered with interruptions: but she came
delightfully perfumed, in her night-shift, and in nothing else.
Jurgen wondered at the way of these women even as his arms went
about her in the gloom. He remembered always the feel of that warm
and slender and yielding body, naked under the thin fabric of the
shift, as his arms first went about her: of all their moments
together that last breathless minute before either of them had
spoken stayed in his memory as the most perfect.

And yet what followed was pleasant enough, for now it was to the
wide and softly cushioned throne of a king, no less, that Guenevere
and Jurgen resorted, so as to talk where they would not be bothered
with interruptions. The throne of Gogyrvan was perfectly dark, under
its canopy, in the unlighted hall, and in the dark nobody can see
what happens.

Thereafter these two contrived to talk together nightly upon the
throne of Glathion: but what remained in Jurgen's memory was that
last moment behind the door, and the six tall windows upon the east
side of the hall, those windows which were of commingled blue and
silver, but were all an opulent glitter, throughout that time in the
night when the moon was clear of the tree-tops and had not yet risen
high enough to be shut off by the eaves. For that was all which
Jurgen really saw in the Hall of Judgment. There would be a brief
period wherein upon the floor beneath each window would show a
narrow quadrangle of moonlight: but the windows were set in a wall
so deep that this soon passed. On the west side were six windows
also, but about these was a porch; so no light ever came from the
west.

Thus in the dark they would laugh and talk with lowered voices.
Jurgen came to these encounters well primed with wine, and in
consequence, as he quite comprehended, talked like an angel, without
confining himself exclusively to celestial topics. He was often
delighted by his own brilliance, and it seemed to him a pity there
was no one handy to take it down: so much of his talking was
necessarily just a little over the head of any girl, however
beautiful and adorable.

And Guenevere, he found, talked infinitely better at night. It was
not altogether the wine which made him think that, either: the girl
displayed a side she veiled in the day time. A girl, far less a
princess, is not supposed to know more than agrees with a man's
notion of maidenly ignorance, she contended.

"Nobody ever told me anything about so many interesting matters.
Why, I remember--" And Guenevere narrated a quaintly pathetic little
story, here irrelevant, of what had befallen her some three or four
years earlier. "My mother was living then: but she had never said a
word about such things, and frightened as I was, I did not go to
her."

Jurgen asked questions.

"Why, yes. There was nothing else to do. I cannot talk freely with
my maids and ladies even now. I cannot question them, that is: of
course I can listen as they talk among themselves. For me to do more
would be unbecoming in a princess. And I wonder quietly about so
many things!" She educed instances. "After that I used to notice the
animals and the poultry. So I worked out problems for myself, after
a fashion. But nobody ever told me anything directly."

"Yet I dare say that Thragnar--well, the Troll King, being very
wise, must have made zoology much clearer."

"Thragnar was a skilled enchanter," says a demure voice in the dark;
"and through the potency of his abominable arts, I can remember
nothing whatever about Thragnar."

Jurgen laughed, ruefully. Still, he was tolerably sure about
Thragnar now.

So they talked: and Jurgen marvelled, as millions of men had done
aforetime, and have done since, at the girl's eagerness, now that
barriers were down, to discuss in considerable detail all such
matters as etiquette had previously compelled them to ignore. About
her ladies in waiting, for example, she afforded him some very
curious data: and concerning men in general she asked innumerable
questions that Jurgen found delicious.

Such innocence combined--upon the whole--with a certain moral
obtuseness, seemed inconceivable. For to Jurgen it now appeared that
Guenevere was behaving with not quite the decorum which might fairly
be expected of a princess. Contrition, at least, one might have
looked for, over this hole and corner business: whereas it worried
him to note that Guenevere was coming to accept affairs almost as a
matter of course. Certainly she did not seem to think at all of any
wickedness anywhere: the utmost she suggested was the necessity of
being very careful. And while she never contradicted him in these
private conversations, and submitted in everything to his judgment,
her motive now appeared to be hardly more than a wish to please him.
It was almost as though she were humoring him in his foolishness.
And all this within six weeks! reflected Jurgen: and he nibbled his
finger-nails, with a mental side-glance toward the opinions of King
Gogyrvan Gawr.

But in daylight the Princess remained unchanged. In daylight Jurgen
adored her, but with no feeling of intimacy. Very rarely did
occasion serve for them to be actually alone in the day time. Once
or twice, though, he kissed her in open sunlight: and then her eyes
were melting but wary, and the whole affair was rather flat. She did
not repulse him: but she stayed a princess, appreciative of her
station, and seemed not at all the invisible person who talked with
him at night in the Hall of Judgment.

Presently, by common consent, they began to avoid each other by
daylight. Indeed, the time of the Princess was now pre-occupied: for
now had come into Glathion a ship with saffron colored sails, and
having for its figure-head a dragon that was painted with thirty
colors. Such was the ship which brought Messire Merlin Ambrosius and
Dame Anaitis, the Lady of the Lake, with a great retinue, to fetch
young Guenevere to London, where she was to be married to King
Arthur.

First there was a week of feasting and tourneys and high mirth of
every kind. Now the trumpets blared, and upon a scaffolding that was
gay with pennons and smart tapestries King Gogyrvan sat nodding and
blinking in his brightest raiment, to judge who did the best: and
into the field came joyously a press of dukes and earls and barons
and many famous knights, to contend for honor and a trumpery chaplet
of pearls.

Jurgen shrugged, and honored custom. The Duke of Logreus acquitted
himself with credit in the opening tournament, unhorsing Sir Dodinas
le Sauvage, Earl Roth of Meliot, Sir Epinogris, and Sir Hector de
Maris: then Earl Damas of Listenise smote like a whirlwind, and
Jurgen slid contentedly down the tail of his fine horse. His part in
the tournament was ended, and he was heartily glad of it. He
preferred to contemplate rather than share in such festivities: and
he now followed his bent with a most exquisite misery, because he
considered that never had any other poet occupied a situation more
picturesque.

By day he was the Duke of Logreus, which in itself was a notable
advance upon pawnbroking: after nightfall he discounted the peculiar
privileges of a king. It was the secrecy, the deluding of everybody,
which he especially enjoyed: and in the thought of what a monstrous
clever fellow was Jurgen, he almost lost sight of the fact that he
was miserable over the impending marriage of the lady he loved.

Once or twice he caught the tail-end of a glance from Gogyrvan's
bright old eye. Jurgen by this time abhorred Gogyrvan, as a person
of abominably unjust dealings.

"To take no better care of his own daughter," Jurgen considered, "is
infamous. The man is neglecting his duties as a father, and to do
that is not fair."




16.

Divers Imbroglios of King Smoit


Now it befell that for three nights in succession the Princess
Guenevere was unable to converse with Jurgen in the Hall of
Judgment. So upon one of these disengaged evenings Duke Jurgen held
a carouse with Aribert and Urien, two of Gogyrvan's barons, who had
just returned from Pengwaed-Gir, and had queer tales to narrate of
the Trooping Fairies who garrison that place.

All three were seasoned topers, so Jurgen went to bed prepared for
anything. Later he sat up in bed, and found it was much as he had
suspected. The room was haunted, and at the foot of his couch were
two ghosts: one an impudent-looking leering phantom, in a suit of
old-fashioned armor, and the other a beautiful pale lady, in the
customary flowing white draperies.

"Good-morning to you both," says Jurgen, "and sorry am I that I
cannot truthfully observe I am glad to see you. Though you are
welcome enough if you can manage to haunt the room quietly." Then,
seeing that both phantoms looked puzzled, Jurgen proceeded to
explain. "Last year, when I was traveling upon business in
Westphalia, it was my grief to spend a night in the haunted castle
of Neuedesberg, for I could not get any sleep at all in that place.
There was a ghost in charge who persisted in rattling very large
iron chains and in groaning dismally throughout the night. Then
toward morning he took the form of a monstrous cat, and climbed upon
the foot of my bed: and there he squatted yowling until daybreak.
And as I am ignorant of German, I was not able to convey to him any
idea of my disapproval of his conduct. Now I trust that as
compatriots, or as I might say with more exactness, as former
compatriots, you will appreciate that such behavior is out of all
reason."

"Messire," says the male ghost, and he oozed to his full height,
"you are guilty of impertinence in harboring such a suspicion. I can
only hope it proceeds from ignorance."

"For I am sure," put in the lady, "that I always disliked cats, and
we never had them about the castle."

"And you must pardon my frankness, messire," continued the male
ghost, "but you cannot have moved widely in noble company if you are
indeed unable to distinguish between members of the feline species
and of the reigning family of Glathion."

"Well, I have seen dowager queens who justified some such
confusion," observed Jurgen. "Still, I entreat the forgiveness of
both of you, for I had no idea that I was addressing royalty."

"I was King Smoit," explained the male phantom, "and this was my
ninth wife, Queen Sylvia Tereu."

Jurgen bowed as gracefully, he flattered himself, as was possible in
his circumstances. It is not easy to bow gracefully while sitting
erect in bed.

"Often and over again have I heard of you, King Smoit," says Jurgen.
"You were the grandfather of Gogyrvan Gawr, and you murdered your
ninth wife, and your eighth wife, and your fifth wife, and your
third wife too: and you went under the title of the Black King, for
you were reputed the wickedest monarch that ever reigned in Glathion
and the Red Islands."

It seemed to Jurgen that King Smoit evinced embarrassment, but it is
hard to be quite certain when a ghost is blushing. "Perhaps I was
spoken of in some such terms," says Smoit, "for the neighbors were
censorious gossips, and I was not lucky in my marriages. And I
regret, I bitterly regret, to confess that, in a moment of extreme
yet not quite unprovoked excitement, I assassinated the lady whom
you now behold."

"And I am sure, through no fault of mine," says Sylvia Tereu.

"Certainly, my dear, you resisted with all your might. I only wish
that you had been a larger and a brawnier woman. But you, messire,
can now perceive, I suppose, the folly of expecting a high King of
Glathion, and the queen that he took delight in, to sit upon your
bed and howl?"

So then, upon reflection, Jurgen admitted he had never had that
experience; nor, he handsomely added, could he recall any similar
incident among his friends.

"The notion is certainly preposterous," went on King Smoit, and very
grimly he smiled. "We are drawn hither by quite other intentions. In
fact, we wish to ask of you, as a member of the family, your
assistance in a delicate affair."

"I would be delighted," Jurgen stated, "to aid you in any possible
way. But why do you call me a member of the family?"

"Now, to deal frankly," says Smoit, with a grin, "I am not claiming
any alliance with the Duke of Logreus--"

"Sometimes," says Jurgen, "one prefers to travel incognito. As a
king, you ought to understand that."

--"My interest is rather in the grandson of Steinvor. Now you will
remember your grandmother Steinvor as, I do not doubt, a charming
old lady. But I remember Steinvor, the wife of Ludwig, as one of the
loveliest girls that a king's eyes ever lighted on."

"Oh, sir," says Jurgen, horrified, "and what is this you are telling
me!"

"Merely that I had always an affectionate nature," replied King
Smoit, "and that I was a fine upstanding young king in those days.
And one of the results of my being these things was your father,
whom men called Coth the son of Ludwig. But I can assure you Ludwig
had done nothing to deserve it."

"Well, well!" said Jurgen: "all this is very scandalous: and very
upsetting, too, it is to have a brand-new grandfather foisted upon
you at this hour of the morning. Still, it happened a great while
ago: and if Ludwig did not fret over it, I see no reason why I
should do so. And besides, King Smoit, it may be that you are not
telling me the truth."

"If you doubt my confession, messire my grandson, you have only to
look into the next mirror. It is precisely on this account that we
have ventured to dispel your slumbers. For to me you bear a striking
resemblance. You have the family face."

Now Jurgen considered the lineaments of King Smoit of Glathion.
"Really," said Jurgen, "of course it is very flattering to be told
that your appearance is regal. I do not at all know what to say in
reply to the implied compliment, without seeming uncivil. I would
never for a moment question that you were much admired in your day,
sir, and no doubt very justly so. None the less--well, my nose, now,
from such glimpses of it as mirrors have hitherto afforded, does not
appear to be a snub-nose."

"Ah, but appearances are proverbially deceitful," observed King
Smoit.

"And about the left hand corner," protested Queen Sylvia Tereu, "I
detect a distinct resemblance."

"Now I may seem unduly obtuse," said Jurgen, "for I am a little
obtuse. It is a habit with me, a very bad habit formed in early
infancy, and I have never been able to break myself of it. And so I
have not any notion at what you two are aiming."

Replied the ghost of King Smoit: "I will explain. Just sixty-three
years ago to-night I murdered my ninth wife in circumstances of
peculiar brutality, as you with rather questionable taste have
mentioned."

Then Jurgen was somewhat abashed, and felt that it did not become him,
who had so recently cut off the head of his own wife, to assume the airs
of a precisian. "Of course," says Jurgen, more broad-mindedly, "these
little family differences are always apt to occur in married life."

"So be it! Though, by the so-and-sos of Ursula's eleven thousand
traveling companions, there was a time wherein I would not have
brooked such criticism. Ah, well, that time is overpast, and I am a
bloodless thing that the wind sweeps at the wind's will through
lands in which but yesterday King Smoit was dreaded. So I let that
which has been be."

"Well, that seems reasonable," said Jurgen, "and to be a trifle
rhetorical is the privilege of grandfathers. Therefore I entreat
you, sir, to continue."

"Two years afterward I followed the Emperor Locrine in his
expedition against the Suevetii, an evil and luxurious people who
worship Gozarin peculiarly, by means of little boats. I must tell
you, grandson, that was a goodly raid, conducted by a band of tidy
fighters in a land of wealth and of fine women. But alack, as the
saying is, in our return from Osnach my loved general Locrine was
captured by that arch-fiend Duke Corineus of Cornwall: and I, among
many others who had followed the Emperor, paid for our merry
larcenies and throat-cuttings a very bitter price. Corineus was not
at all broadminded, not what you would call a man of the world. So
it was in a noisome dungeon that I was incarcerated,--I, Smoit of
Glathion, who conquered Enisgarth and Sargyll in open battle and
fearlessly married the heiress of Camwy! But I spare you the
unpleasant details. It suffices to say that I was dissatisfied with
my quarters. Yet fain to leave them as I became, there was but one
way. It involved the slaying of my gaoler, a step which was, I
confess, to me distasteful. I was getting on in life, and had grown
tired of killing people. Yet, to mature deliberation, the life of a
graceless varlet, void of all gentleness and with no bowels of
compassion, and deaf to suggestions of bribery, appeared of no
overwhelming importance."

"I can readily imagine, grandfather, that you were not deeply
interested in either the nature or the anatomy of your gaoler. So
you did what was unavoidable."

"Yes, I treacherously slew him, and escaped in an impenetrable
disguise to Glathion, where not long afterward I died. My dying
just then was most annoying, for I was on the point of being married,
and she was a remarkably attractive girl,--King Tyrnog's daughter,
from Craintnor way. She would have been my thirteenth wife. And not
a week before the ceremony I tripped and fell down my own castle
steps, and broke my neck. It was a humiliating end for one who had
been a warrior of considerable repute. Upon my word, it made me think
there might be something, after all, in those old superstitions about
thirteen being an unlucky number. But what was I saying?--oh, yes!
It is also unlucky to be careless about one's murders. You will
readily understand that for one or two such affairs I am condemned
yearly to haunt the scene of my crime on its anniversary: such
an arrangement is fair enough, and I make no complaint, though of
course it does rather break into the evening. But it happened that
I treacherously slew my gaoler with a large cobble-stone on the
fifteenth of June. Now the unfortunate part, the really awkward
feature, was that this was to an hour the anniversary of the death
of my ninth wife."

"And you murdering insignificant strangers on such a day!" said
Queen Sylvia. "You climbing out of jail windows figged out as a lady
abbess, on an anniversary you ought to have kept on your knees in
unavailing repentance! But you were a hard man, Smoit, and it was
little loving courtesy you showed your wife at a time when she might
reasonably look to be remembered, and that is a fact."

"My dear, I admit it was heedless of me. I could not possibly say
more. At any rate, grandson, I discovered after my decease that such
heedlessness entailed my haunting on every fifteenth of June at
three in the morning two separate places."

"Well, but that was justice," says Jurgen.

"It may have been justice," Smoit admitted: "but my point is that
it happened to be impossible. However, I was aided by my
great-great-grandfather Penpingon Vreichvras ap Mylwald Glasanief.
He too had the family face; and in every way resembled me so
closely that he impersonated me to everyone's entire satisfaction;
and with my wife's assistance re-enacted my disastrous crime upon
the scene of its occurrence, June after June."

"Indeed," said Queen Sylvia, "he handled his sword infinitely better
than you, my dear. It was a thrilling pleasure to be murdered by
Penpingon Vreichvras ap Mylwald Glasanief, and I shall always regret
him."

"For you must understand, grandson, that the term of King Penpingon
Vreichvras ap Mylwald Glasanief's stay in Purgatory has now run out,
and he has recently gone to Heaven. That was pleasant for him, I
dare say, so I do not complain. Still, it leaves me with no one to
take my place. Angels, as you will readily understand, are not
permitted to perpetrate murders, even in the way of kindness. It
might be thought to establish a dangerous precedent."

"All this," said Jurgen, "seems regrettable, but not strikingly
explicit. I have a heart and a half to serve you, sir, with not
seven-eighths of a notion as to what you want of me. Come, put a
name to it!"

"You have, as I have said, the family face. You are, in fact, the
living counterpart of Smoit of Glathion. So I beseech you, messire
my grandson, for this one night to impersonate my ghost, and with
the assistance of Queen Sylvia Tereu to see that at three o'clock
the White Turret is haunted to everyone's satisfaction. Otherwise,"
said Smoit, gloomily, "the consequences will be deplorable."

"But I have had no experience at haunting," Jurgen confessed. "It is
a pursuit in which I do not pretend to competence: and I do not even
know just how one goes about it."

"That matter is simple, although mysterious preliminaries will be,
of course, necessitated, in order to convert a living person into a
ghost--"

"The usual preliminaries, sir, are out of the question: and I must
positively decline to be stabbed or poisoned or anything of that
kind, even to humor my grandfather."

Both Smoit and Sylvia protested that any such radical step would be
superfluous, since Jurgen's ghostship was to be transient. In fact,
all Jurgen would have to do would be to drain the embossed goblet
which Sylvia Tereu held out to him, with Druidical invocations.

And for a moment Jurgen hesitated. The whole business seemed rather
improbable. Still, the ties of kin are strong, and it is not often
one gets the chance to aid, however slightly, one's long-dead
grandfather: besides, the potion smelt very invitingly.

"Well," says Jurgen, "I am willing to taste any drink once." Then
Jurgen drank.

The flavor was excellent. Yet the drink seemed not to affect Jurgen,
at first. Then he began to feel a trifle light-headed. Next he
looked downward, and was surprised to notice there was nobody in his
bed. Closer investigation revealed the shadowy outline of a human
figure, through which the bedclothing had collapsed. This, he
decided, was all that was left of Jurgen. And it gave him a queer
sensation. Jurgen jumped like a startled horse, and so violently
that he flew out of bed, and found himself floating imponderably
about the room.

Now Jurgen recognized the feeling perfectly. He had often had it in
his sleep, in dreams wherein he would bend his legs at the knees so
that his feet came up behind him, and he would pass through the air
without any effort. Then it seemed ridiculously simple, and he would
wonder why he never thought of it before. And then he would reflect:
"This is an excellent way of getting around. I will come to
breakfast this way in the morning, and show Lisa how simple it is.
How it will astonish her, to be sure, and how clever she will think
me!" And then Jurgen would wake up, and find that somehow he had
forgotten the trick of it.

But just now this manner of locomotion was undeniably easy. So
Jurgen floated around his bed once or twice, then to the ceiling,
for practice. Through inexperience, he miscalculated the necessary
force, and popped through into the room above, where he found
himself hovering immediately over the Bishop of Merion. His eminence
was not alone, but as both occupants of the apartment were asleep,
Jurgen witnessed nothing unepiscopal. Now Jurgen rejoined his
grandfather, and girded on charmed Caliburn, and demanded what must
next be done.

"The assassination will take place in the White Turret, as usual.
Queen Sylvia will instruct you in the details. You can invent most
of the affair, however, as the Lady of the Lake, who occupies this
room to-night, is very probably unacquainted with our terrible
history."

Then King Smoit observed that it was high time he kept his
appointment in Cornwall, and he melted into air, with an easy
confidence that bespoke long practise: and Jurgen followed Queen
Sylvia Tereu.




17.

About a Cock That Crowed Too Soon


Next the tale tells of how Jurgen and the ghost of Queen Sylvia
Tereu came into the White Turret. The Lady of the Lake was in bed:
she slept unaccompanied, as Jurgen noted with approval, for he
wished to intrude upon no more tete-a-tetes. And Dame Anaitis did
not at first awake.

Now this was a gloomy and high-paneled apartment, with exactly the
traditional amount of moonlight streaming through two windows. Any
ghost, even an apprentice, could have acquitted himself with credit
in such surroundings, and Jurgen thought he did extremely well. He
was atavistically brutal, and to improvise the accompanying dialogue
he did not find difficult. So everything went smoothly, and with
such spirit that Anaitis was presently wakened by Queen Sylvia's
very moving wails for mercy, and sat erect in bed, as though a
little startled. Then the Lady of the Lake leaned back among the
pillows, and witnessed the remainder of the terrible scene with
remarkable self-possession.

So it was that the tragedy swelled to its appalling climax, and
subsided handsomely. With the aid of Caliburn, Jurgen had murdered
his temporary wife. He had dragged her insensate body across the
floor, by the hair of her head, and had carefully remembered first
to put her comb in his pocket, as Queen Sylvia had requested, so
that it would not be lost. He had given vent to several fiendish
"Ha-ha's" and all the old high imprecations he remembered: and in
short, everything had gone splendidly when he left the White Turret
with a sense of self-approval and Queen Sylvia Tereu.

The two of them paused in the winding stairway; and in the darkness,
after he had restored her comb, the Queen was telling Jurgen how
sorry she was to part with him.

"For it is back to the cold grave I must be going now, Messire
Jurgen, and to the tall flames of Purgatory: and it may be that I
shall not ever see you any more."

"I shall regret the circumstance, madame," says Jurgen, "for you are
the loveliest person I have ever seen."

The Queen was pleased. "That is a delightfully boyish speech, and
one can see it comes from the heart. I only wish that I could meet
with such unsophisticated persons in my present abode. Instead, I am
herded with battered sinners who have no heart, who are not frank
and outspoken about anything, and I detest their affectations."

"Ah, then you are not happy with your husband, Sylvia? I suspected
as much."

"I see very little of Smoit. It is true he has eight other wives all
resident in the same flame, and cannot well show any partiality. Two
of his Queens, though, went straight to Heaven: and his eighth wife,
Gudrun, we are compelled to fear, must have been an unrepentant
sinner, for she has never reached Purgatory. But I always distrusted
Gudrun, myself: otherwise I would never have suggested to Smoit that
he have her strangled in order to make me his queen. You see, I
thought it a fine thing to be a queen, in those days, Jurgen, when I
was an artless slip of a girl. And Smoit was all honey and perfume
and velvet, in those days, Jurgen, and little did I suspect the
cruel fate that was to befall me."

"Indeed, it is a sad thing, Sylvia, to be murdered by the hand
which, so to speak, is sworn to keep an eye on your welfare, and
which rightfully should serve you on its knees."

"It was not that I minded. Smoit killed me in a fit of jealousy, and
jealousy is in its blundering way a compliment. No, a worse thing
than that befell me, Jurgen, and embittered all my life in the
flesh." And Sylvia began to weep.

"And what was that thing, Sylvia?"

Queen Sylvia whispered the terrible truth. "My husband did not
understand me."

"Now, by Heaven," says Jurgen, "when a woman tells me that, even
though the woman be dead, I know what it is she expects of me."

So Jurgen put his arm about the ghost of Queen Sylvia Tereu, and
comforted her. Then, finding her quite willing to be comforted,
Jurgen sat for a while upon the dark steps, with one arm still about
Queen Sylvia. The effect of the potion had evidently worn off,
because Jurgen found himself to be composed no longer of cool
imponderable vapor, but of the warmest and hardest sort of flesh
everywhere. But probable the effect of the wine which Jurgen had
drunk earlier in the evening had not worn off: for now Jurgen began
to talk wildishly in the dark, about the necessity of his, in some
way, avenging the injury inflicted upon his nominal grandfather,
Ludwig, and Jurgen drew his sword, charmed Caliburn.

"For, as you perceive," said Jurgen, "I carry such weapons as are
sufficient for all ordinary encounters. And am I not to use them, to
requite King Smoit for the injustice he did poor Ludwig? Why,
certainly I must. It is my duty."

"Ah, but Smoit by this is back in Purgatory," Queen Sylvia
protested, "And to draw your sword against a woman is cowardly."

"The avenging sword of Jurgen, my charming Sylvia, is the terror of
envious men, but it is the comfort of all pretty women."

"It is undoubtedly a very large sword," said she: "oh, a magnificent
sword, as I can perceive even in the dark. But Smoit, I repeat, is
not here to measure weapons with you."

"Now your arguments irritate me, whereas an honest woman would see
to it that all the legacies of her dead husband were duly
satisfied--"

"Oh, oh! and what do you mean--?"

"Well, but certainly a grandson is--at one remove, I grant you,--a
sort of legacy."

"There is something in what you advance--"

"There is a great deal in what I advance, I can assure you. It is
the most natural and most penetrating kind of logic; and I wish
merely to discharge a duty--"

"But you upset me, with that big sword of yours, you make me
nervous, and I cannot argue so long as you are flourishing it about.
Come now, put up your sword! Oh, what is anybody to do with you!
Here is the sheath for your sword," says she.

At this point they were interrupted.

"Duke of Logreus," says the voice of Dame Anaitis, "do you not think
it would be better to retire, before such antics at the door of my
bedroom give rise to a scandal?"

For Anaitis had half-opened the door of her bedroom, and with a lamp
in her hand, was peering out into the narrow stairway. Jurgen was a
little embarrassed, for his apparent intimacy with a lady who had
been dead for sixty-three years would be, he felt, a matter
difficult to explain. So Jurgen rose to his feet, and hastily put up
the weapon he had exhibited to Queen Sylvia, and decided to pass
airily over the whole affair. And outside, a cock crowed, for it was
now dawn.

"I bid you a good morning, Dame Anaitis," said Jurgen. "But the
stairways hereabouts are confusing, and I must have lost my way. I
was going for a stroll. This is my distant relative Queen Sylvia
Tereu, who kindly offered to accompany me. We were going out to
gather mushrooms and to watch the sunrise, you conceive."

"Messire de Logreus, I think you had far better go back to bed."

"To the contrary, madame, it is my manifest duty to serve as Queen
Sylvia's escort--"

"For all that, messire, I do not see any Queen Sylvia."

Jurgen looked about him. And certainly his grandfather's ninth wife
was no longer visible. "Yes, she has vanished. But that was to be
expected at cockcrow. Still, that cock crew just at the wrong
moment," said Jurgen, ruefully. "It was not fair."

And Dame Anaitis said: "Gogyrvan's cellar is well stocked: and you
sat late with Urien and Aribert: and doubtless they also were lucky
enough to discover a queen or two in Gogyrvan's cellar. No less, I
think you are still a little drunk."

"Now answer me this, Dame Anaitis: were you not visited by two
ghosts to-night?"

"Why, that is as it may be," she replied: "but the White Turret is
notoriously haunted, and it is few quiet nights I have passed there,
for Gogyrvan's people were a bad lot."

"Upon my word," wonders Jurgen, "what manner of person is this Dame
Anaitis, who remains unstirred by such a brutal murder as I have
committed, and makes no more of ghosts than I would of moths? I have
heard she is an enchantress, I am sure she is a fine figure of a
woman: and in short, here is a matter which would repay looking
into, were not young Guenevere the mistress of my heart."

Aloud he said: "Perhaps then I am drunk, madame. None the less, I
still think the cock crew just at the wrong moment."

"Some day you must explain the meaning of that," says she.
"Meanwhile I am going back to bed, and I again advise you to do the
same."

Then the door closed, the bolt fell, and Jurgen went away, still in
considerable excitement.

"This Dame Anaitis is an interesting personality," he reflected,
"and it would be a pleasure, now, to demonstrate to her my grievance
against the cock, did occasion serve. Well, things less likely than
that have happened. Then, too, she came upon me when my sword was
out, and in consequence knows I wield a respectable weapon. She may
feel the need of a good swordsman some day, this handsome Lady of
the Lake who has no husband. So let us cultivate patience.
Meanwhile, it appears that I am of royal blood. Well, I fancy there
is something in the scandal, for I detect in me a deal in common
with this King Smoit. Twelve wives, though! no, that is too many. I
would limit no man's liaisons, but twelve wives in lawful matrimony
bespeaks an optimism unknown to me. No, I do not think I am drunk:
but it is unquestionable that I am not walking very straight.
Certainly, too, we did drink a great deal. So I had best go quietly
back to bed, and say nothing more about to-night's doings."

As much he did. And this was the first time that Jurgen, who had
been a pawnbroker, held any discourse with Dame Anaitis, whom men
called the Lady of the Lake.




18.

Why Merlin Talked in Twilight


It was two days later that Jurgen was sent for by Merlin Ambrosius.
The Duke of Logreus came to the magician in twilight, for the
windows of this room were covered with sheets which shut out the
full radiance of day. Everything in the room was thus visible in a
diffused and tempered light that cast no shadows. In his hand Merlin
held a small mirror, about three inches square, from which he raised
his dark eyes puzzlingly.

"I have been talking to my fellow ambassador, Dame Anaitis: and I
have been wondering, Messire de Logreus, if you have ever reared
white pigeons."

Jurgen looked at the little mirror. "There was a woman of the Leshy
who not long ago showed me an employment to which one might put the
blood of white pigeons. She too used such a mirror. I saw what
followed, but I must tell you candidly that I understood nothing of
the ins and outs of the affair."

Merlin nodded. "I suspected something of the sort. So I elected to
talk with you in a room wherein, as you perceive, there are no
shadows."

"Now, upon my word," says Jurgen, "but here at last is somebody who
can see my attendant! Why is it, pray, that no one else can do so?"

"It was my own shadow which drew my notice to your follower. For I,
too, have had a shadow given me. It was the gift of my father, of
whom you have probably heard."

It was Jurgen's turn to nod. Everybody knew who had begotten Merlin
Ambrosius, and sensible persons preferred not to talk of the matter.
Then Merlin went on to speak of the traffic between Merlin and
Merlin's shadow.

"Thus and thus," says Merlin, "I humor my shadow. And thus and thus
my shadow serves me. There is give-and-take, such as is requisite
everywhere."

"I understand," says Jurgen: "but has no other person ever perceived
this shadow of yours?"

"Once only, when for a while my shadow deserted me," Merlin replied.
"It was on a Sunday my shadow left me, so that I walked unattended
in naked sunlight: for my shadow was embracing the church-steeple,
where church-goers knelt beneath him. The church-goers were
obscurely troubled without suspecting why, for they looked only at
each other. The priest and I alone saw him quite clearly,--the
priest because this thing was evil, and I because this thing was
mine."

"Well, now I wonder what did the priest say to your bold shadow?"

"'But you must go away!'--and the priest spoke without any fear. Why
is it they seem always without fear, those dull and calm-eyed
priests? 'Such conduct is unseemly. For this is High God's house,
and far-off peoples are admonished by its steadfast spire, pointing
always heavenward, that the place is holy,' said the priest. And my
shadow answered, 'But I only know that steeples are of phallic
origin.' And my shadow wept, wept ludicrously, clinging to the
steeple where church-goers knelt beneath him."

"Now, and indeed that must have been disconcerting, Messire Merlin.
Still, as you got your shadow back again, there was no great harm
done. But why is it that such attendants follow some men while other
men are permitted to live in decent solitude? It does not seem quite
fair."

"Perhaps I could explain it to you, friend, but certainly I shall not.
You know too much as it is. For you appear in that bright garment of
yours to have come from a land and a time which even I, who am a skilled
magician, can only cloudily foresee, and cannot understand at all. What
puzzles me, however"--and Merlin's fore-finger shot out. "How many feet
had the first wearer of your shirt? and were you ever an old man?" says
he.

"Well, four, and I was getting on," says Jurgen.

"And I did not guess! But certainly that is it,--an old poet loaned
at once a young man's body and the Centaur's shirt. Aderes has
loosed a new jest into the world, for her own reasons--"

"But you have things backwards. It was Sereda whom I cajoled so
nicely."

"Names that are given by men amount to very little in a case like
this. The shadow which follows you I recognize--and revere--as the
gift of Aderes, a dreadful Mother of small Gods. No doubt she has a
host of other names. And you cajoled her, you consider! I would not
willingly walk in the shirt of any person who considers that. But
she will enlighten you, my friend, at her appointed time."

"Well, so that she deals justly--" Jurgen said, and shrugged.

Now Merlin put aside the mirror. "Meanwhile it was another matter
entirely that Dame Anaitis and I discussed, and about which I wished
to be speaking with you. Gogyrvan is sending to King Arthur, along
with Gogyrvan's daughter, that Round Table which Uther Pendragon
gave Gogyrvan, and a hundred knights to fill the sieges of this
table. Gogyrvan, who, with due respect, possesses a deplorable sense
of humor, has numbered you among these knights. Now it is rumored
the Princess is given to conversing a great deal with you in
private, and Arthur has never approved of garrulity. So I warn you
that for you to come with us to London would not be convenient."

"I hardly think so, either," said Jurgen, with appropriate
melancholy; "for me to pursue the affair any further would only
result in marring what otherwise will always be a perfect memory of
divers very pleasant conversations."

"Old poet, you are well advised," said Merlin,--"especially now that
the little princess whom we know is about to enter queenhood and
become a symbol. I am sorry for her, for she will be worshipped as a
revelation of Heaven's splendor, and being flesh and blood, she will
not like it. And it is to no effect I have forewarned King Arthur,
for that must happen which will always happen so long as wisdom is
impotent against human stupidity. So wisdom can but make the best of
it, and be content to face the facts of a great mystery."

Thereupon, Merlin arose, and lifted the tapestry behind him, so that
Jurgen could see what hitherto this tapestry had screened.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You have embarrassed me horribly," said Jurgen, "and I can feel
that I am still blushing, about the ankles. Well, I was wrong: so
let us say no more concerning it."

"I wished to show you," Merlin returned, "that I know what I am
talking about. However, my present purpose is to put Guenevere out
of your head: for in your heart I think she never was, old poet, who
go so modestly in the Centaur's shirt. Come, tell me now! and does
the thought of her approaching marriage really disturb you?"

"I am the unhappiest man that breathes," said Jurgen, with unction.
"All night I lie awake in my tumbled bed, and think of the miserable
day which is past, and of what is to happen in that equally
miserable day whose dawn I watch with a sick heart. And I cry aloud,
in the immortal words of Apollonius Myronides--"

"Of whom?" says Merlin.

"I allude to the author of the _Myrosis_," Jurgen
explained,--"whom so many persons rashly identify with Apollonius
Herophileius."

"Oh, yes, of course! your quotation is very apt. Why, then your
condition is sad but not incurable. For I am about to give you this
token, with which, if you are bold enough, you will do thus and
thus."

"But indeed this is a somewhat strange token, and the arms and legs,
and even the head, of this little man are remarkably alike! Well,
and you tell me thus and thus. But how does it happen, Messire
Merlin, that you have never used this token in the fashion you
suggest to me?"

"Because I was afraid. You forget I am only a magician, whose
conjuring raises nothing more formidable than devils. But this is a
bit of the Old Magic that is no longer understood, and I prefer not
to meddle with it. You, to the contrary, are a poet, and the Old
Magic was always favorable to poets."

"Well, I will think about it," says Jurgen, "if this will really put
Dame Guenevere out of my head."

"Be assured it will do that," said Merlin. "For with reason does the
_Dirghagama_ declare, 'The brightness of the glowworm cannot be
compared to that of a lamp.'"

"A very pleasant little work, the _Dirghagama_," said Jurgen,
tolerantly--"though superficial, of course."

Then Merlin Ambrosius gave Jurgen the token, and some advice.

So that night Jurgen told Guenevere he would not go in her train to
London. He told her candidly that Merlin was suspicious of their
intercourse.

"And therefore, in order to protect you and to protect your fame, my
dearest dear," said Jurgen, "it is necessary that I sacrifice myself
and everything I prize in life. I shall suffer very much: but my
consolation will be that I have dealt fairly with you whom I love
with an entire heart, and shall have preserved you through my
misery."

But Guenevere did not appear to notice how noble this was of Jurgen.
Instead, she wept very softly, in a heartbroken way that Jurgen
found unbearable.

"For no man, whether emperor or peasant," says the Princess, "has
ever been loved more dearly or faithfully or more wholly without any
reserve or forethought than you, my dearest, have been loved by me.
All that I had I have given you. All that I had you have taken,
consuming it. So now you leave me with not anything more to give
you, not even any anger or contempt, now that you turn me adrift,
for there is nothing in me anywhere save love of you, who are
unworthy."

"But I die many deaths," said Jurgen, "when you speak thus to me."
And in point of fact, he did feel rather uncomfortable.

"I speak the truth, though. You have had all: and so you are a
little weary, and perhaps a little afraid of what may happen if you
do not break off with me."

"Now you misjudge me, darling--"

"No, I do not misjudge you, Jurgen. Instead, for the first time I
judge both of us. You I forgive, because I love you, but myself I do
not forgive, and I cannot ever forgive, for having been a
spendthrift fool."

And Jurgen found such talking uncomfortable and tedious and very
unfair to him. "For there is nothing I can do to help matters," says
Jurgen. "Why, what could anybody possibly expect me to do about it?
And so why not be happy while we may? It is not as though we had any
time to waste."

For this was the last night but one before the day that was set for
Guenevere's departure.




19.

The Brown Man with Queer Feet


Early in the following morning Jurgen left Cameliard, traveling
toward Carohaise, and went into the Druid forest there, and followed
Merlin's instructions.

"Not that I for a moment believe in such nonsense," said Jurgen:
"but it will be amusing to see what comes of this business, and it
is unjust to deny even nonsense a fair trial."

So he presently observed a sun-browned brawny fellow, who sat upon
the bank of a stream, dabbling his feet in the water, and making
music with a pipe constructed of seven reeds of irregular lengths.
To him Jurgen displayed, in such a manner as Merlin had prescribed,
the token which Merlin had given. The man made a peculiar sign, and
rose. Jurgen saw that this man's feet were unusual.

Jurgen bowed low, and he said, as Merlin had bidden: "Now praise be
to thee, thou lord of the two truths! I have come to thee, O most
wise, that I may learn thy secret. I would know thee, and would know
the forty-two mighty ones who dwell with thee in the hall of the two
truths, and who are nourished by evil-doers, and who partake of
wicked blood each day of the reckoning before Wennofree. I would
know thee for what thou art."

The brown man answered: "I am everything that was and that is to be.
Never has any mortal been able to discover what I am."

Then this brown man conducted Jurgen to an open glen, at the heart
of the forest.

"Merlin dared not come himself, because," observed the brown man,
"Merlin is wise. But you are a poet. So you will presently forget
that which you are about to see, or at worst you will tell pleasant
lies about it, particularly to yourself."

"I do not know about that," says Jurgen, "but I am willing to taste
any drink once. What are you about to show me?"

The brown man answered: "All."

So it was near evening when they came out of the glen. It was dark
now, for a storm had risen. The brown man was smiling, and Jurgen
was in a flutter.

"It is not true," Jurgen protested. "What you have shown me is a
pack of nonsense. It is the degraded lunacy of a so-called Realist.
It is sorcery and pure childishness and abominable blasphemy. It is,
in a word, something I do not choose to believe. You ought to be
ashamed of yourself!"

"Even so, you do believe me, Jurgen."

"I believe that you are an honest man and that I am your cousin: so
there are two more lies for you."

The brown man said, still smiling: "Yes, you are certainly a poet,
you who have borrowed the apparel of my cousin. For you come out of
my glen, and from my candor, as sane as when you entered. That is
not saying much, to be sure, in praise of a poet's sanity at any
time. But Merlin would have died, and Merlin would have died without
regret, if Merlin had seen what you have seen, because Merlin
receives facts reasonably."

"Facts! sanity! and reason!" Jurgen raged: "why, but what nonsense
you are talking! Were there a bit of truth in your silly puppetry
this world of time and space and consciousness would be a bubble, a
bubble which contained the sun and moon and the high stars, and
still was but a bubble in fermenting swill! I must go cleanse my
mind of all this foulness. You would have me believe that men, that
all men who have ever lived or shall ever live hereafter, that even
I am of no importance! Why, there would be no justice in any such
arrangement, no justice anywhere!"

"That vexed you, did it not? It vexes me at times, even me, who
under Koshchei's will alone am changeless."

"I do not know about your variability: but I stick to my opinion
about your veracity," says Jurgen, for all that he was upon the
verge of hysteria. "Yes, if lies could choke people that shaggy
throat would certainly be sore."

Then the brown man stamped his foot, and the striking of his foot
upon the moss made a new noise such as Jurgen had never heard: for
the noise seemed to come multitudinously from every side, at first
as though each leaf in the forest were tinily cachinnating; and then
this noise was swelled by the mirth of larger creatures, and echoes
played with this noise, until there was a reverberation everywhere
like that of thunder. The earth moved under their feet very much as
a beast twitches its skin under the annoyance of flies. Another
queer thing Jurgen noticed, and it was that the trees about the glen
had writhed and arched their trunks, and so had bended, much as
candles bend in very hot weather, to lay their topmost foliage at
the feet of the brown man. And the brown man's appearance was
changed as he stood there, terrible in a continuous brown glare from
the low-hanging clouds, and with the forest making obeisance, and
with shivering and laughter everywhere.

"Make answer, you who chatter about justice! how if I slew you now,"
says the brown man,--"I being what I am?"

"Slay me, then!" says Jurgen, with shut eyes, for he did not at all
like the appearance of things. "Yes, you can kill me if you choose,
but it is beyond your power to make me believe that there is no
justice anywhere, and that I am unimportant. For I would have you
know I am a monstrous clever fellow. As for you, you are either a
delusion or a god or a degraded Realist. But whatever you are, you
have lied to me, and I know that you have lied, and I will not
believe in the insignificance of Jurgen."

Chillingly came the whisper of the brown man: "Poor fool! O
shuddering, stiff-necked fool! and have you not just seen that which
you may not ever quite forget?"

"None the less, I think there is something in me which will endure.
I am fettered by cowardice, I am enfeebled by disastrous memories;
and I am maimed by old follies. Still, I seem to detect in myself
something which is permanent and rather fine. Underneath everything,
and in spite of everything, I really do seem to detect that
something. What role that something is to enact after the death of
my body, and upon what stage, I cannot guess. When fortune knocks I
shall open the door. Meanwhile I tell you candidly, you brown man,
there is something in Jurgen far too admirable for any intelligent
arbiter ever to fling into the dustheap. I am, if nothing else, a
monstrous clever fellow: and I think I shall endure, somehow. Yes,
cap in hand goes through the land, as the saying is, and I believe I
can contrive some trick to cheat oblivion when the need arises,"
says Jurgen, trembling, and gulping, and with his eyes shut tight,
but even so, with his mind quite made up about it. "Of course you
may be right; and certainly I cannot go so far as to say you are
wrong: but still, at the same time--"

"Now but before a fool's opinion of himself," the brown man cried,
"the Gods are powerless. Oh, yes, and envious, too!"

And when Jurgen very cautiously opened his eyes the brown man had
left him physically unharmed. But the state of Jurgen's nervous
system was deplorable.




20.

Efficacy of Prayer


Jurgen went in a tremble to the Cathedral of the Sacred Thorn in
Cameliard. All night Jurgen prayed there, not in repentance, but in
terror. For his dead he prayed, that they should not have been
blotted out in nothingness, for the dead among his kindred whom he
had loved in boyhood, and for these only. About the men and women
whom he had known since then he did not seem to care, or not at
least so vitally. But he put up a sort of prayer for Dame
Lisa--"wherever my dear wife may be, and, O God, grant that I may
come to her at last, and be forgiven!" he wailed, and wondered if he
really meant it.

He had forgotten about Guenevere. And nobody knows what were that
night the thoughts of the young Princess, nor if she offered any
prayers, in the deserted Hall of Judgment.

In the morning a sprinkling of persons came to early mass. Jurgen
attended with fervor, and started doorward with the others. Just
before him a merchant stopped to get a pebble from his shoe, and the
merchant's wife went forward to the holy-water font.

"Madame, permit me," said a handsome young esquire, and offered her
holy water.

"At eleven," said the merchant's wife, in low tones. "He will be out
all day."

"My dear," says her husband, as he rejoined her, "and who was the
young gentleman?"

"Why, I do not know, darling. I never saw him before."

"He was certainly very civil. I wish there were more like him. And a
fine looking young fellow, too!"

"Was he? I did not notice," said the merchant's wife, indifferently.

And Jurgen saw and heard and regarded the departing trio ruefully.
It seemed to him incredible the world should be going on just as it
went before he ventured into the Druid forest.

He paused before a crucifix, and he knelt and looked up wistfully.
"If one could only know," says Jurgen, "what really happened in
Judea! How immensely would matters be simplified, if anyone but knew
the truth about You, Man upon the Cross!"

Now the Bishop of Merion passed him, coming from celebration of the
early mass. "My Lord Bishop," says Jurgen, simply, "can you tell me
the truth about this Christ?"

"Why, indeed, Messire de Logreus," replied the Bishop, "one cannot
but sympathize with Pilate in thinking that the truth about Him is
very hard to get at, even nowadays. Was He Melchisedek, or Shem, or
Adam? or was He verily the Logos? and in that event, what sort of a
something was the Logos? Granted He was a god, were the Arians or
the Sabellians in the right? had He existed always, co-substantial
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, or was He a creation of the
Father, a kind of Israelitic Zagreus? Was He the husband of
Acharamoth, that degraded Sophia, as the Valentinians aver? or the
son of Pantherus, as say the Jews? or Kalakau, as contends
Basilides? or was it, as the Docetes taught, only a tinted cloud in
the shape of a man that went from Jordan to Golgotha? Or were the
Merinthians right? These are a few of the questions, Messire de
Logreus, which naturally arise. And not all of them are to be
settled out of hand."

Thus speaking, the gallant prelate bowed, then raised three fingers
in benediction, and so quitted Jurgen, who was still kneeling before
the crucifix.

"Ah, ah!" says Jurgen, to himself, "but what a variety of
interesting problems are, in point of fact, suggested by religion.
And what delectable exercise would the settling of these problems,
once for all, afford the mind of a monstrous clever fellow! Come
now, it might be well for me to enter the priesthood. It may be that
I have a call."

But people were shouting in the street. So Jurgen rose and dusted
his knees. And as Jurgen came out of the Cathedral of the Sacred
Thorn the cavalcade was passing that bore away Dame Guenevere to the
arms and throne of her appointed husband. Jurgen stood upon the
Cathedral porch, his mind in part pre-occupied by theology, but
still not failing to observe how beautiful was this young princess,
as she rode by on her white palfrey, green-garbed and crowned and
a-glitter with jewels. She was smiling as she passed him, bowing
her small tenderly-colored young countenance this way and that way,
to the shouting people, and not seeing Jurgen at all.

Thus she went to her bridal, that Guenevere who was the symbol of
all beauty and purity to the chivalrous people of Glathion. The mob
worshipped her; and they spoke as though it were an angel who
passed.

"Our beautiful young Princess!"

"Ah, there is none like her anywhere!"

"And never a harsh word for anyone, they say--!"

"Oh, but she is the most admirable of ladies--!"

"And so brave too, that lovely smiling child who is leaving her home
forever!"

"And so very, very pretty!"

"--So generous!"

"King Arthur will be hard put to it to deserve her!"

Said Jurgen: "Now it is droll that to these truths I have but to add
another truth in order to have large paving-stones flung at her! and
to have myself tumultuously torn into fragments, by those
unpleasantly sweaty persons who, thank Heaven, are no longer
jostling me!"

For the Cathedral porch had suddenly emptied, because as the
procession passed heralds were scattering silver among the
spectators.

"Arthur will have a very lovely queen," says a soft lazy voice.

And Jurgen turned and saw that beside him was Dame Anaitis, whom
people called the Lady of the Lake.

"Yes, he is greatly to be envied," says Jurgen, politely. "But do
you not ride with them to London?"

"Why, no," says the Lady of the Lake, "because my part in this
bridal was done when I mixed the stirrup-cup of which the Princess
and young Lancelot drank this morning. He is the son of King Ban of
Benwick, that tall young fellow in blue armor. I am partial to
Lancelot, for I reared him, at the bottom of a lake that belongs to
me, and I consider he does me credit. I also believe that Madame
Guenevere by this time agrees with me. And so, my part being done to
serve my creator, I am off for Cocaigne."

"And what is this Cocaigne?"

"It is an island wherein I rule."

"I did not know you were a queen, madame."

"Why, indeed there are a many things unknown to you, Messire de
Logreus, in a world where nobody gets any assuredness of knowledge
about anything. For it is a world wherein all men that live have but
a little while to live, and none knows his fate thereafter. So that
a man possesses nothing certainly save a brief loan of his own body:
and yet the body of man is capable of much curious pleasure."

"I believe," said Jurgen, as his thoughts shuddered away from what
he had seen and heard in the Druid forest, "that you speak wisdom."

"Then in Cocaigne we are all wise: for that is our religion. But of
what are you thinking, Duke of Logreus?"

"I was thinking," says Jurgen, "that your eyes are unlike the eyes
of any other woman that I have ever seen."

Smilingly the dark woman asked him wherein they differed, and
smilingly he said he did not know. They were looking at each other
warily. In each glance an experienced gamester acknowledged a worthy
opponent.

"Why, then you must come with me into Cocaigne," says Anaitis, "and
see if you cannot discover wherein lies that difference. For it is
not a matter I would care to leave unsettled."

"Well, that seems only just to you," says Jurgen. "Yes, certainly I
must deal fairly with you."

Then they left the Cathedral of the Sacred Thorn, walking together.
The folk who went toward London were now well out of sight and
hearing, which possibly accounts for the fact that Jurgen was now in
no wise thinking of Guenevere. So it was that Guenevere rode out of
Jurgen's life for a while: and as she rode she talked with Lancelot.




21.

How Anaitis Voyaged


Now the tale tells that Jurgen and this Lady of the Lake came
presently to the wharves of Cameliard, and went aboard the ship
which had brought Anaitis and Merlin into Glathion. This ship was
now to every appearance deserted: yet all its saffron colored sails
were spread, as though in readiness for the ship's departure.

"The crew are scrambling, it may be, for the largesse, and fighting
over Gogyrvan's silver pieces," says Anaitis, "but I think they will
not be long in returning. So we will sit here upon the prow, and
await their leisure."

"But already the vessel moves," says Jurgen, "and I hear behind
us the rattling of silver chains and the flapping of shifted
saffron-colored sails."

"They are roguish fellows," says Anaitis, smiling. "Evidently, they
hid from us, pretending there was nobody aboard. Now they think to
give us a surprise when the ship sets out to sea as though it were
of itself. But we will disappoint these merry rascals, by seeming to
notice nothing unusual."

So Jurgen sat with Anaitis in the two tall chairs that were in the
prow of the vessel, under a canopy of crimson stuff embroidered with
gold dragons, and just back of the ship's figurehead, which was a
dragon painted with thirty colors: and the ship moved out of the
harbor, and so into the open sea. Thus they passed Enisgarth.

"And it is a queer crew that serve you, Anaitis, who are Queen of
Cocaigne: for I can hear them talking, far back of us, and their
language is all a cheeping and a twittering, as though the mice and
the bats were holding conference."

"Why, you must understand that these are outlanders who speak a
dialect of their own, and are not like any other people you have
ever seen."

"Indeed, now, that is very probable, for I have seen none of your
crew. Sometimes it is as though small flickerings passed over the
deck, and that is all."

"It is but the heat waves rising from the deck, for the day is
warmer than you would think, sitting here under this canopy. And
besides, what call have you and I to be bothering over the pranks of
common mariners, so long as they do their proper duty?"

"I was thinking, O woman with unusual eyes, that these are hardly
common mariners."

"And I was thinking, Duke Jurgen, that I would tell you a tale of
the Old Gods, to make the time speed more pleasantly as we sit here
untroubled as a god and a goddess."

Now they had passed Camwy: and Anaitis began to narrate the history
of Anistar and Calmoora and of the unusual concessions they granted
each other, and of how Calmoora contented her five lovers: and
Jurgen found the tale perturbing.

While Anaitis talked the sky grew dark, as though the sun were
ashamed and veiled his shame with clouds: and they went forward in a
gray twilight which deepened steadily over a tranquil sea. So they
passed the lights of Sargyll, most remote of the Red Islands, while
Anaitis talked of Procris and King Minos and Pasiphae. As color went
out of the air new colors entered into the sea, which now assumed
the varied gleams of water that has long been stagnant. And a
silence brooded over the sea, so that there was no noise anywhere
except the sound of the voice of Anaitis, saying, "All men that live
have but a little while to live, and none knows his fate thereafter.
So that a man possesses nothing certainly save a brief loan of his
own body; and yet the body of man is capable of much curious
pleasure."

They came thus to a low-lying naked beach, where there was no sign
of habitation. Anaitis said this was the land they were seeking, and
they went ashore.

"Even now," says Jurgen, "I have seen none of the crew who brought
us hither."

And the beautiful dark woman shrugged, and marveled why he need
perpetually be bothering over the doings of common sailors.

They went forward across the beach, through sand hills, to a moor,
seeing no one, and walking in a gray fog. They passed many gray fat
sluggish worms and some curious gray reptiles such as Jurgen had
never imagined to exist, but Anaitis said these need not trouble
them.

"So there is no call to be fingering your charmed sword as we walk
here, Duke Jurgen, for these great worms do not ever harm the
living."

"For whom, then, do they lie here in wait, in this gray fog,
wherethrough the green lights flutter, and wherethrough I hear at
times a thin and far-off wailing?"

"What is that to you, Duke Jurgen, since you and I are still in the
warm flesh? Surely there was never a man who asked more idle
questions."

"Yet this is an uncomfortable twilight."

"To the contrary, you should rejoice that it is a fog too heavy to
be penetrated by the Moon."

"But what have I to do with the Moon?"

"Nothing, as yet. And that is as well for you, Duke Jurgen, since it
is authentically reported you have derided the day which is sacred
to the Moon. Now the Moon does not love derision, as I well know,
for in part I serve the Moon."

"Eh?" says Jurgen: and he began to reflect.

So they came to a wall that was high and gray, and to the door which
was in the wall.

"You must knock two or three times," says Anaitis, "to get into
Cocaigne."

Jurgen observed the bronze knocker upon the door, and he grinned in
order to hide his embarrassment.

"It is a quaint fancy," said he, "and the two constituents of it
appear to have been modeled from life."

"They were copied very exactly from Adam and Eve," says Anaitis,
"who were the first persons to open this gateway."

"Why, then," says Jurgen, "there is no earthly doubt that men
degenerate, since here under my hand is the proof of it."

With that he knocked, and the door opened, and the two of them
entered.




22.

As to a Veil They Broke


So it was that Jurgen came into Cocaigne, wherein is the bedchamber
of Time. And Time, they report, came in with Jurgen, since Jurgen
was mortal: and Time, they say, rejoiced in this respite from the
slow toil of dilapidating cities stone by stone, and with his eyes
tired by the finicky work of etching in wrinkles, went happily into
his bedchamber, and fell asleep just after sunset on this fine
evening in late June: so that the weather remained fair and
changeless, with no glaring sun rays anywhere, and with one large
star shining alone in clear daylight. This was the star of Venus
Mechanitis, and Jurgen later derived considerable amusement from
noting how this star was trundled about the dome of heaven by a
largish beetle, named Khepre. And the trees everywhere kept their
first fresh foliage, and the birds were about their indolent evening
songs, all during Jurgen's stay in Cocaigne, for Time had gone to
sleep at the pleasantest hour of the year's most pleasant season. So
tells the tale.

And Jurgen's shadow also went in with Jurgen, but in Cocaigne as in
Glathion, nobody save Jurgen seemed to notice this curious shadow
which now followed Jurgen everywhere.

In Cocaigne Queen Anaitis had a palace, where domes and pinnacles
beyond numbering glimmered with a soft whiteness above the top of an
old twilit forest, wherein the vegetation was unlike that which is
nourished by ordinary earth. There was to be seen in these woods,
for instance, a sort of moss which made Jurgen shudder. So Anaitis
and Jurgen came through narrow paths, like murmuring green caverns,
into a courtyard walled and paved with yellow marble, wherein was
nothing save the dimly colored statue of a god with ten heads and
thirty-four arms: he was represented as very much engrossed by a
woman, and with his unoccupied hands was holding yet other women.

"It is Jigsbyed," said Anaitis.

Said Jurgen: "I do not criticize. Nevertheless, I think this
Jigsbyed is carrying matters to extremes."

Then they passed the statue of Tangaro Loloquong, and afterward the
statue of Legba. Jurgen stroked his chin, and his color heightened.
"Now certainly, Queen Anaitis," he said, "you have unusual taste in
sculpture."

Thence Jurgen came with Anaitis into a white room, with copper
plaques upon the walls, and there four girls were heating water in a
brass tripod. They bathed Jurgen, giving him astonishing caresses
meanwhile--with the tongue, the hair, the finger-nails, and the tips
of the breasts,--and they anointed him with four oils, then dressed
him again in his glittering shirt. Of Caliburn, said Anaitis, there
was no present need: so Jurgen's sword was hung upon the wall.

These girls brought silver bowls containing wine mixed with honey,
and they brought pomegranates and eggs and barleycorn, and
triangular red-colored loaves, whereon they sprinkled sweet-smelling
little seeds with formal gestures. Then Anaitis and Jurgen broke
their fast, eating together while the four girls served them.

"And now," says Jurgen, "and now, my dear, I would suggest that we
enter into the pursuit of those curious pleasures of which you were
telling me."

"I am very willing," responded Anaitis, "since there is no one of
these pleasures but is purchased by some diversion of man's nature.
Yet first, as I need hardly inform you, there is a ceremonial to be
observed."

"And what, pray, is this ceremonial?"

"Why, we call it the Breaking of the Veil." And Queen Anaitis
explained what they must do.

"Well," says Jurgen, "I am willing to taste any drink once."

So Anaitis led Jurgen into a sort of chapel, adorned with very
unchurchlike paintings. There were four shrines, dedicated severally
to St. Cosmo, to St. Damianus, to St. Guignole of Brest, and to St.
Foutin de Varailles. In this chapel were a hooded man, clothed in
long garments that were striped with white and yellow, and two naked
children, both girls. One of the children carried a censer: the
other held in one hand a vividly blue pitcher half filled with
water, and in her left hand a cellar of salt.

First of all, the hooded man made Jurgen ready. "Behold the lance,"
said the hooded man, "which must serve you in this adventure."

"I accept the adventure," Jurgen replied, "because I believe the
weapon to be trustworthy."

Said the hooded man: "So be it! but as you are, so once was I."

Meanwhile Duke Jurgen held the lance erect, shaking it with his
right hand. This lance was large, and the tip of it was red with
blood.

"Behold," said Jurgen, "I am a man born of a woman incomprehensibly.
Now I, who am miraculous, am found worthy to perform a miracle, and
to create that which I may not comprehend."

Anaitis took salt and water from the child, and mingled these. "Let
the salt of earth enable the thin fluid to assume the virtue of the
teeming sea!"

Then, kneeling, she touched the lance, and began to stroke it
lovingly. To Jurgen she said: "Now may you be fervent of soul and
body! May the endless Serpent be your crown, and the fertile flame
of the sun your strength!"

Said the hooded man, again: "So be it!" His voice was high and
bleating, because of that which had been done to him.

"That therefore which we cannot understand we also invoke," said
Jurgen. "By the power of the lifted lance"--and now with his left
hand he took the hand of Anaitis,--"I, being a man born of a woman
incomprehensibly, now seize upon that which alone I desire with my
whole being. I lead you toward the east. I upraise you above the
earth and all the things of earth."

Then Jurgen raised Queen Anaitis so that she sat upon the altar, and
that which was there before tumbled to the ground. Anaitis placed
together the tips of her thumbs and of her fingers, so that her
hands made an open triangle; and waited thus. Upon her head was a
network of red coral, with branches radiating downward: her gauzy
tunic had twenty-two openings, so as to admit all imaginable
caresses, and was of two colors, being shot with black and crimson
curiously mingled: her dark eyes glittered and her breath came fast.

Now the hooded man and the two naked girls performed their share in
the ceremonial, which part it is not essential to record. But Jurgen
was rather shocked by it.

None the less, Jurgen said: "O cord that binds the circling of the
stars! O cup which holds all time, all color, and all thought! O
soul of space! not unto any image of thee do we attain unless thy
image show in what we are about to do. Therefore by every plant
which scatters its seed and by the moist warm garden which receives
and nourishes it, by the comminglement of bloodshed with pleasure,
by the joy that mimics anguish with sighs and shudderings, and by
the contentment which mimics death,--by all these do we invoke thee.
O thou, continuous one, whose will these children attend, and whom I
now adore in this fair-colored and soft woman's body, it is thou
whom I honor, not any woman, in doing what seems good to me: and it
is thou who art about to speak, and not she."

Then Anaitis said: "Yea, for I speak with the tongue of every woman,
and I shine in the eyes of every woman, when the lance is lifted. To
serve me is better than all else. When you invoke me with a heart
wherein is kindled the serpent flame, if but for a moment, you will
understand the delights of my garden, what joy unwordable pulsates
therein, and how potent is the sole desire which uses all of a man.
To serve me you will then be eager to surrender whatever else is in
your life: and other pleasures you will take with your left hand,
not thinking of them entirely: for I am the desire which uses all of
a man, and so wastes nothing. And I accept you, I yearn toward you,
I who am daughter and somewhat more than daughter to the Sun. I who
am all pleasure, all ruin, and a drunkenness of the inmost sense,
desire you."

Now Jurgen held his lance erect before Anaitis. "O secret of all
things, hidden in the being of all which lives, now that the lance
is exalted I do not dread thee: for thou art in me, and I am thou. I
am the flame that burns in every beating heart and in the core of
the farthest star. I too am life and the giver of life, and in me
too is death. Wherein art thou better than I? I am alone: my will is
justice: and there comes no other god where I am."

Said the hooded man behind Jurgen: "So be it! but as you are, so
once was I."

The two naked children stood one at each side of Anaitis, and waited
there trembling. These girls, as Jurgen afterward learned, were
Alecto and Tisiphone, two of the Eumenides. And now Jurgen shifted
the red point of the lance, so that it rested in the open triangle
made by the fingers of Anaitis.

"I am life and the giver of life," cried Jurgen. "Thou that art one,
that makest use of all! I who am a man born of woman, I in my
station honor thee in honoring this desire which uses all of a man.
Make open therefore the way of creation, encourage the flaming dust
which is in our hearts, and aid us in that flame's perpetuation! For
is not that thy law?"

Anaitis answered: "There is no law in Cocaigne save, Do that which
seems good to you."

Then said the naked children: "Perhaps it is the law, but certainly
it is not justice. Yet we are little and quite helpless. So
presently we must be made as you are for now you two are no longer
two, and your flesh is not shared merely with each other. For your
flesh becomes our flesh, and your sins our sins: and we have no
choice."

Jurgen lifted Anaitis from the altar, and they went into the chancel
and searched for the adytum. There seemed to be no doors anywhere in
the chancel: but presently Jurgen found an opening screened by a
pink veil. Jurgen thrust with his lance and broke this veil. He
heard the sound of one brief wailing cry: it was followed by soft
laughter. So Jurgen came into the adytum.

Black candles were burning in this place, and sulphur too was
burning there, before a scarlet cross, of which the top was a
circle, and whereon was nailed a living toad. And other curious
matters Jurgen likewise noticed.

He laughed, and turned to Anaitis: now that the candles were behind
him, she was standing in his shadow. "Well, well! but you are a
little old-fashioned, with all these equivocal mummeries. And I did
not know that civilized persons any longer retained sufficient
credulity to wring a thrill from god-baiting. Still, women must be
humored, bless them! and at last, I take it, we have quite fairly
fulfilled the ceremonial requisite to the pursuit of curious
pleasures."

Queen Anaitis was very beautiful, even under his bedimming shadow.
Triumphant too was the proud face beneath that curious coral
network, and yet this woman's face was sad.

"Dear fool," she said, "it was not wise, when you sang of the Leshy,
to put an affront upon Monday. But you have forgotten that. And now
you laugh because that which we have done you do not understand: and
equally that which I am you do not understand."

"No matter what you may be, my dear, I am sure that you will
presently tell me all about it. For I assume that you mean to deal
fairly with me."

"I shall do that which becomes me, Duke Jurgen--"

"That is it, my dear, precisely! You intend to be true to yourself,
whatever happens. The aspiration does you infinite honor, and I
shall try to help you. Now I have noticed that every woman is most
truly herself," says Jurgen, oracularly, "in the dark."

Then Jurgen looked at her for a moment, with twinkling eyes: then
Anaitis, standing in his shadow, smiled with glowing eyes: then
Jurgen blew out those black candles: and then it was quite dark.




23.

Shortcomings of Prince Jurgen


Now the happenings just recorded befell on the eve of the Nativity
of St. John the Baptist: and thereafter Jurgen abode in Cocaigne,
and complied with the customs of that country.

In the palace of Queen Anaitis, all manner of pastimes were
practised without any cessation. Jurgen, who considered himself to
be somewhat of an authority upon such contrivances, was soon
astounded by his own innocence. For Anaitis showed him whatever was
being done in Cocaigne, to this side and to that side, under the
direction of Anaitis, whom Jurgen found to be a nature myth of
doubtful origin connected with the Moon; and who, in consequence,
ruled not merely in Cocaigne but furtively swayed the tides of life
everywhere the Moon keeps any power over tides. It was the mission
of Anaitis to divert and turn aside and deflect: in this the jealous
Moon abetted her because sunlight makes for straightforwardness. So
Anaitis and the Moon were staunch allies. These mysteries of their
private relations, however, as revealed to Jurgen, are not very
nicely repeatable.

"But you dishonored the Moon, Prince Jurgen, denying praise to the
day of the Moon. Or so, at least, I have heard."

"I remember doing nothing of the sort. But I remember considering it
unjust to devote one paltry day to the Moon's majesty. For night is
sacred to the Moon, each night that ever was the friend of
lovers,--night, the renewer and begetter of all life."

"Why, indeed, there is something in that argument," says Anaitis,
dubiously.

"'Something', do you say! why, but to my way of thinking it proves
the Moon is precisely seven times more honorable than any of the
Leshy. It is merely, my dear, a question of arithmetic."

"Was it for that reason you did not praise Pandelis and her Mondays
with the other Leshy?"

"Why, to be sure," said Jurgen, glibly. "I did not find it at all
praiseworthy that such an insignificant Leshy as Pandelis should
name her day after the Moon: to me it seemed blasphemy." Then Jurgen
coughed, and looked sidewise at his shadow. "Had it been Sereda,
now, the case would have been different, and the Moon might well
have appreciated the delicate compliment."

Anaitis appeared relieved. "I shall report your explanation.
Candidly, there were ill things in store for you, Prince Jurgen,
because your language was misunderstood. But that which you now say
puts quite a different complexion upon matters."

Jurgen laughed, not understanding the mystery, but confident he
could always say whatever was required of him.

"Now let us see a little more of Cocaigne!" cries Jurgen.

For Jurgen was greatly interested by the pursuits of Cocaigne, and
for a week or ten days participated therein industriously. Anaitis,
who reported the Moon's honor to be satisfied, now spared no effort
to divert him, and they investigated innumerable pastimes together.

"For all men that live have but a little while to live," said
Anaitis, "and none knows his fate thereafter. So that a man
possesses nothing certainly save a brief loan of his body: and yet
the body of man is capable of much curious pleasure. As thus and
thus," says Anaitis. And she revealed devices to her Prince Consort.

For Jurgen found that unknowingly he had in due and proper form
espoused Queen Anaitis, by participating in the Breaking of the
Veil, which is the marriage ceremony of Cocaigne. His earlier
relations with Dame Lisa had, of course, no legal standing in
Cocaigne, where the Church is not Christian and the Law is, Do that
which seems good to you.

"Well, when in Rome," said Jurgen, "one must be romantic. But
certainly this proves that nobody ever knows when he is being
entrapped into respectability: and never did a fine young fellow
marry a high queen with less premeditation."

"Ah, my dear," says Anaitis, "you were controlled by the finger of
Fate."

"I do not altogether like that figure of speech. It makes one seem
too trivial, to be controlled by a mere finger. No, it is not quite
complimentary to call what prompted me a finger."

"By the long arm of coincidence, then."

"Much more appropriate, my love," says Jurgen, complacently: "it
sounds more dignified, and does not wound my self esteem."

Now this Anaitis who was Queen of Cocaigne was a delicious tall dark
woman, thinnish, and lovely, and very restless. From the first her
new Prince Consort was puzzled by her fervors, and presently was
fretted by them. He humbly failed to understand how anyone could be
so frantic over Jurgen. It seemed unreasonable. And in her more
affectionate moments this nature myth positively frightened him: for
transports such as these could not but rouse discomfortable
reminiscences of the female spider, who ends such recreations by
devouring her partner.

"Thus to be loved is very flattering," he would reflect, "and I
again am Jurgen, asking odds of none. But even so, I am mortal. She
ought to remember that, in common fairness."

Then the jealousy of Anaitis, while equally flattering, was equally
out of reason. She suspected everybody, seemed assured that every
bosom cherished a mad passion for Jurgen, and that not for a moment
could he be trusted. Well, as Jurgen frankly conceded, his conduct
toward Stella, that ill-starred yogini of Indawadi, had in point of
fact displayed, when viewed from an especial and quite unconscionable
point of view, an aspect which, when isolated by persons judging
hastily, might, just possibly, appear to approach remotely, in one
or two respects, to temporary forgetfulness of Anaitis, if indeed
there were people anywhere so mentally deficient as to find such
forgetfulness conceivable.

But the main thing, the really important feature, which Anaitis
could not be made to understand, was that she had interrupted her
consort in what was, in effect, a philosophical experiment,
necessarily attempted in the dark. The muntrus requisite to the
sacti sodhana were always performed in darkness: everybody knew
that. For the rest, this Stella had asserted so-and-so; in simple
equity she was entitled to a chance to prove her allegations if she
could: so Jurgen had proceeded to deal fairly with her. Besides, why
keep talking about this Stella, after a vengeance so spectacular and
thorough as that to which Anaitis had out of hand resorted? why keep
reverting to a topic which was repugnant to Jurgen and visibly upset
the dearest nature myth in all legend? Was it quite fair to anyone
concerned? That was the sensible way in which Jurgen put it.

Still, he became honestly fond of Anaitis. Barring her
eccentricities when roused to passion, she was a generous and kindly
creature, although in Jurgen's opinion somewhat narrow-minded.

"My love," he would say to her, "you appear positively unable to
keep away from virtuous persons! You are always seeking out the
people who endeavor to be upright and straightforward, and you are
perpetually laying plans to divert these people. Ah, but why bother
about them? What need have you to wear yourself out, and to devote
your entire time to such proselitizing, when you might be so much
more agreeably employed? You should learn, in justice to yourself as
well as to others, to be tolerant of all things; and to acknowledge
that in a being of man's mingled nature a strain of respectability
is apt to develop every now and then, whatever you might prefer."

But Anaitis had high notions as to her mission, and merely told him
that he ought not to speak with levity of such matters. "I would be
much happier staying at home with you and the children," she would
say, "but I feel that it is my duty--"

"And your duty to whom, in heaven's name?"

"Please do not employ such distasteful expressions, Jurgen. It is my
duty to the power I serve, my very manifest duty to my creator. But
you have no sense of religion, I am afraid; and the reflection is
often a considerable grief to me."

"Ah, but, my dear, you are quite certain as to who made you, and for
what purpose you were made. You nature myths were created in the
Mythopoeic age by the perversity of old heathen nations: and you
serve your creator religiously. That is quite as it should be. But I
have no such authentic information as to my origin and mission in
life, I appear at all events to have no natural talent for being
diverted, I do not take to it wholeheartedly, and these are facts we
have to face." Now Jurgen put his arm around her. "My dear Anaitis,
you must not think it mere selfishness on my part. I was born with a
something lacking that is requisite for anyone who aspires to be as
thoroughly misled as most people: and you will have to love me in
spite of it."

"I almost wish I had never seen you as I saw you in that corridor,
Jurgen. For I felt drawn toward you then and there. I almost wish I
had never seen you at all. I cannot help being fond of you: and yet
you laugh at the things I know to be required of me, and sometimes
you make me laugh, too."

"But, darling, are you not just the least, littlest, tiniest, very
weest trifle bigoted? For instance, I can see that you think I ought
to evince more interest in your striking dances, and your strange
pleasures, and your surprising caresses, and all your other
elaborate diversions. And I do think they do you credit, great
credit, and I admire your inventiveness no less than your
industry--"

"You have no sense of reverence, Jurgen, you seem to have no sense
at all of what is due to one's creator. I suppose you cannot help
that: but you might at least remember it troubles me to hear you
talk so flippantly of my religion."

"But I do not talk flippantly--"

"Indeed you do, though. And it does not sound at all well, let me
tell you."

"--Instead, I but point out that your creed necessitates, upon the
whole, an ardor I lack. You, my pet, were created by perversity: and
everyone knows it is the part of piety to worship one's creator in
fashions acceptable to that creator. So, I do not criticize your
religious connections, dear, and nobody admires these ceremonials of
your faith more heartily than I do. I merely confess that to
celebrate these rites so frequently requires a sustention of
enthusiasm which is beyond me. In fine, I have not your fervent
temperament, I am more sceptical. You may be right; and certainly I
cannot go so far as to say you are wrong: but still, at the same
time--! That is how I feel about it, my precious, and that is why I
find, with constant repetition of these ceremonials, a certain lack
of firmness developing in my responses: and finally, darling, that
is all there is to it."

"I never in my whole incarnation had such a Prince Consort!
Sometimes I think you do not care a bit about me one way or the
other, Jurgen."

"Ah, but I do care for you very much. And to prove it, come now let
us try some brand-new diversion, at sight of which the skies will be
blackened and the earth will shudder or something of that sort, and
then I will take the children fishing, as I promised."

"No, Jurgen, I do not feel like diverting you just now. You take all
the solemnity out of it with your jeering. Besides, you are always
with the children. Jurgen, I believe you are fonder of the children
than you are of me. And when you are not with them you are locked up
in the Library."

"Well, and was there ever such a treasury as the Library of
Cocaigne? All the diversions that you nature myths have practised I
find recorded there: and to read of your ingenious devices delights
and maddens me. For it is eminently interesting to meditate upon
strange pleasures, and to make verses about them is the most amiable
of avocations: it is merely the pursuit of them that I would
discourage, as disappointing and mussy. Besides, the Library is the
only spot I have to myself in the palace, what with your fellow
nature myths making the most of life all over the place."

"It is necessary, Jurgen, for one in my position to entertain more
or less. And certainly I cannot close the doors against my own
relatives."

"Such riffraff, though, my darling! Such odds and ends! I cannot
congratulate you upon your kindred, for I do not get on at all with
these patchwork combinations, that are one-third man and the other
two-thirds a vulgar fraction of bull or hawk or goat or serpent or
ape or jackal or what not. Priapos is the only male myth who comes
here in anything like the semblance of a complete human being: and I
had infinitely rather he stayed away, because even I who am Jurgen
cannot but be envious of him."

"And why, pray?"

"Well, where I go reasonably equipped with Caliburn, Priapos carries
a lance I envy--"

"Like all the Bacchic myths he usually carries a thyrsos, and it is
a showy weapon, certainly; but it is not of much use in actual
conflict."

"My darling! and how do you know?"

"Why, Jurgen, how do women always know these things?--by intuition,
I suppose."

"You mean that you judge all affairs by feeling rather than reason?
Indeed, I dare say that is true of most women, and men are daily
chafed and delighted, about equally, by your illogical method of
putting things together. But to get back to the congenial task of
criticizing your kindred, your cousin Apis, for example, may be a
very good sort of fellow: but, say what you will, it is ill-advised
of him to be going about in public with a bull's head. It makes him
needlessly conspicuous, if not actually ridiculous: and it puts me
out when I try to talk to him."

"Now, Jurgen, pray remember that you speak of a very generally
respected myth, and that you are being irreverent--"

"--And moreover, I take the liberty of repeating, my darling, that
even though this Ba of Mendes is your cousin, it honestly does
embarrass me to have to meet three-quarters of a goat socially--"

"But, Jurgen, I must as a master of course invite prolific Ba to my
feasts of the Sacae--"

"Even so, my dear, in issuing invitations a hostess may fairly presuppose
that her guests will not make beasts of themselves. I often wish that
this mere bit of ordinary civility were more rigorously observed by Ba
and Hortanes and Fricco and Vul and Baal-Peor, and by all your other
cousins who come to visit you in such a zoologically muddled condition.
It shows a certain lack of respect for you, my darling."

"Oh, but it is all in the family, Jurgen--"

"Besides, they have no conversation. They merely bellow--or twitter
or bleat or low or gibber or purr, according to their respective
incarnations,--about unspeakable mysteries and monstrous pleasures
until I am driven to the verge of virtue by their imbecility."

"If you were more practical, Jurgen, you would realize that it
speaks splendidly for anyone to be really interested in his
vocation--"

"And your female relatives are just as annoying, with their eternal
whispered enigmas, and their crescent moons, and their mystic roses
that change color and require continual gardening, and their
pathetic belief that I have time to fool with them. And the entire
pack practises symbolism until the house is positively littered with
asherahs and combs and phalloses and linghams and yonis and arghas
and pulleiars and talys, and I do not know what other idiotic toys
that I am continually stepping on!"

"Which of those minxes has been making up to you?" says Anaitis, her
eyes snapping.

"Ah, ah! now many of your female cousins are enticing enough--"

"I knew it! Oh, but you need not think you deluded me--!"

"My darling, pray consider! be reasonable about it! Your feminine
guests at present are Sekhmet in the form of a lioness, Io
incarnated as a cow, Hekt as a frog, Derceto as a sturgeon, and--ah,
yes!--Thoueris as a hippopotamus. I leave it to your sense of
justice, dear Anaitis, if of ladies with such tastes in dress a
lovely myth like you can reasonably be jealous."

"And I know perfectly well who it is! It is that Ephesian hussy, and
I had several times noticed her behavior. Very well, oh, very well,
indeed! nevertheless, I shall have a plain word or two with her at
once, and the sooner she gets out of my house the better, as I shall
tell her quite frankly. And as for you, Jurgen--!"

"But, my dear Lisa--!"

"What do you call me? Lisa was never an epithet of mine. Why do you
call me Lisa?"

"It was a slip of the tongue, my pet, an involuntary but not
unnatural association of ideas. As for the Ephesian Diana, she
reminds me of an animated pine-cone, with that eruption of breasts
all over her, and I can assure you of your having no particular
reason to be jealous of her. It was merely of the female myths in
general I spoke. Of course they all make eyes at me: I cannot well
help that, and you should have anticipated as much when you selected
such an attractive Prince Consort. What do these poor enamored
creatures matter when to you my heart is ever faithful?"

"It is not your heart I am worrying over, Jurgen, for I believe you
have none. Yes, you have quite succeeded in worrying me to
distraction, if that is any comfort to you. However, let us not talk
about it. For it is now necessary, absolutely imperative, that I go
into Armenia to take part in the mourning for Tammouz: people would
not understand it at all if I stayed away from such important
orgies. And I shall get no benefit whatever from the trip, much as I
need the change, because, without speaking of that famous heart of
yours, you are always up to some double-dealing, and I shall not
know into what mischief you may be thrusting yourself."

Jurgen laughed, and kissed her. "Be off, and attend to your
religious duties, dear, by all means. And I promise you I will stay
safe locked in the Library till you come back."

Thus Jurgen abode among the offspring of heathen perversity, and
conformed to their customs. Death ends all things for all, they
contended, and life is brief: for how few years do men endure, and
how quickly is the most subtle and appalling nature myth explained
away by the Philologists! So the wise person, and equally the
foreseeing nature myth, will take his glut of pleasure while there
is yet time to take anything, and will waste none of his short lien
upon desire and vigor by asking questions.

"Oh, but by all means!" said Jurgen, and he docilely crowned himself
with a rose garland, and drank his wine, and kissed his Anaitis.
Then, when the feast of the Sacae was at full-tide, he would whisper
to Anaitis, "I will be back in a moment, darling," and she would
frown fondly at him as he very quietly slipped from his ivory dining
couch, and went, with the merest suspicion of a reel, into the
Library. She knew that Jurgen had no intention of coming back: and
she despaired of his ever taking the position in the social life of
Cocaigne to which he was entitled no less by his rank as Prince
Consort than by his personal abilities. For Anaitis did not really
think that, as went natural endowments, her Jurgen had much reason
to envy even such a general favorite as Priapos, say, from what she
knew of both.

So it was that Jurgen honored custom. "Because these beastly nature
myths may be right," said Jurgen; "and certainly I cannot go so far
as to say they are wrong: but still, at the same time--!"

For Jurgen was content to dismiss no riddle with a mere "I do not
know." Jurgen was no more able to give up questioning the meaning of
life than could a trout relinquish swimming: indeed, he lived
submerged in a flood of curiosity and doubt, as his native element.
That death ended all things might very well be the case: yet if the
outcome proved otherwise, how much more pleasant it would be, for
everyone concerned, to have aforetime established amicable relations
with the overlords of his second life, by having done whatever it
was they expected of him here.

"Yes, I feel that something is expected of me," says Jurgen: "and
without knowing what it is, I am tolerably sure, somehow, that it is
not an indulgence in endless pleasure. Besides, I do not think death
is going to end all for me. If only I could be quite certain my
encounter with King Smoit, and with that charming little Sylvia
Tereu, was not a dream! As it is, plain reasoning assures me I am
not indispensable to the universe: but with this reasoning, somehow,
does not travel my belief. No, it is only fair to my own interests
to go graveward a little more openmindedly than do these nature
myths, since I lack the requisite credulity to become a free-thinking
materialist. To believe that we know nothing assuredly, and cannot
ever know anything assuredly, is to take too much on faith."

And Jurgen paused to shake his sleek black head two or three times,
very sagely.

"No, I cannot believe in nothingness being the destined end of all:
that would be too futile a climax to content a dramatist clever
enough to have invented Jurgen. No, it is just as I said to the
brown man: I cannot believe in the annihilation of Jurgen by any
really thrifty overlords; so I shall see to it that Jurgen does
nothing which he cannot more or less plausibly excuse, in case of
supernal inquiries. That is far safer."

Now Jurgen was shaking his head again: and he sighed.

"For the pleasures of Cocaigne do not satisfy me. They are all well
enough in their way; and I admit the truism that in seeking bed and
board two heads are better than one. Yes, Anaitis makes me an
excellent wife. Nevertheless, her diversions do not satisfy me, and
gallantly to make the most of life is not enough. No, it is
something else that I desire: and Anaitis does not quite understand
me."




24.

Of Compromises in Cocaigne


Thus Jurgen abode for a little over two months in Cocaigne, and
complied with the customs of that country. Nothing altered in
Cocaigne: but in the world wherein Jurgen was reared, he knew, it
would by this time be September, with the leaves flaring gloriously,
and the birds flocking southward, and the hearts of Jurgen's fellows
turning to not unpleasant regrets. But in Cocaigne there was no
regret and no variability, but only an interminable flow of curious
pleasures, illumined by the wandering star of Venus Mechanitis.

"Why is it, then, that I am not content?" said Jurgen. "And what
thing is this which I desire? It seems to me there is some injustice
being perpetrated upon Jurgen, somewhere."

Meanwhile he lived with Anaitis the Sun's daughter very much as he
had lived with Lisa, who was daughter to a pawnbroker. Anaitis
displayed upon the whole a milder temper: in part because she could
confidently look forward to several centuries more of life before
being explained away by the Philologists, and so had less need than
Dame Lisa to worry over temporal matters; and in part because there
was less to ruin one's disposition in two months than in ten years
of Jurgen's company. Anaitis nagged and sulked for a while when her
Prince Consort slackened in the pursuit of strange delights, as he
did very soon, with frank confession that his tastes were simple and
that these outlandish refinements bored him. Later Anaitis seemed to
despair of his ever becoming proficient in curious pleasures, and
she permitted Jurgen to lead a comparatively normal life, with only
an occasional and half-hearted remonstrance.

What puzzled Jurgen was that she did not seem to tire of him: and he
would often wonder what this lovely myth, so skilled and potent in
arts wherein he was the merest bungler, could find to care for in
Jurgen. For now they lived together like any other humdrum married
couple, and their occasional exchange of endearments was as much a
matter of course as their meals, and hardly more exciting.

"Poor dear, I believe it is simply because I am a monstrous clever
fellow. She distrusts my cleverness, she very often disapproves of
it, and yet she values it as queer, as a sort of curiosity. Well,
but who can deny that cleverness is truly a curiosity in Cocaigne?"

So Anaitis petted and pampered her Prince Consort, and took such
open pride in his queerness as very nearly embarrassed him
sometimes. She could not understand his attitude of polite amusement
toward his associates and the events which befell him, and even
toward his own doings and traits. Whatever happened, Jurgen
shrugged, and, delicately avoiding actual laughter, evinced
amusement. Anaitis could not understand this at all, of course,
since Asian myths are remarkably destitute of humor. To Jurgen in
private she protested that he ought to be ashamed of his levity: but
none the less, she would draw him out, when among the bestial and
grim nature myths, and she would glow visibly with fond pride in
Jurgen's queerness.

"She mothers me," reflected Jurgen. "Upon my word, I believe that in
the end this is the only way in which females are capable of loving.
And she is a dear and lovely creature, of whom I am sincerely fond.
What is this thing, then, that I desire? Why do I feel life is not
treating me quite justly?"

So the summer had passed; and Anaitis travelled a great deal, being
a popular myth in every land. Her sense of duty was so strong that
she endeavored to grace in person all the peculiar festivals held in
her honor, and this, now the harvest season was at hand, left her
with hardly a moment disengaged. Then, too, the mission of Anaitis
was to divert; and there were so many people whom she had personally
to visit--so many notable ascetics who were advancing straight
toward canonization, and whom her underlings were unable to
divert,--that Anaitis was compelled to pass night after night in
unwholesomely comfortless surroundings, in monasteries and in the
cells and caves of hermits.

"You are wearing yourself out, my darling," Jurgen would say: "and
does it not seem, after all, a game that is hardly worth the candle?
I know that, for my part, before I would travel so many miles into a
desert, and then climb a hundred foot pillar, just to whisper
diverting notions into an anchorite's very dirty ear, I would let
the gaunt rascal go to Heaven. But you associate so much with
saintly persons that you have contracted their incapacity for seeing
the humorous side of things. Well, you are a dear, even so. Here is
a kiss for you: and do you come back to your adoring husband as soon
as you conveniently can without neglecting your duty."

"They report that this Stylites is very far gone in rectitude," said
Anaitis, absent-mindedly, as she prepared for the journey, "but I
have hopes for him."

Then Anaitis put purple powder on her hair, and hastily got together
a few beguiling devices, and went into the Thebaid. Jurgen went back
to the Library, and the _System of Worshipping a Girl_, and the
unique manuscripts of Astyanassa and Elephantis and Sotades, and the
Dionysiac Formulae, and the Chart of Postures, and the _Litany of
the Centre of Delight_, and the Spintrian Treatises, and the
_Thirty-two Gratifications_, and innumerable other volumes
which he found instructive.

The Library was a vaulted chamber, having its walls painted with the
twelve Asan of Cyrene; the ceiling was frescoed with the arched body
of a woman, whose toes rested upon the cornice of the east wall, and
whose out-stretched finger-tips touched the cornice of the western
wall. The clothing of this painted woman was remarkable: and to
Jurgen her face was not unfamiliar.

"Who is that?" he inquired, of Anaitis.

Looking a little troubled, Anaitis told him this was AEsred.

"Well, I have heard her called otherwise: and I have seen her in
quite other clothing."

"You have seen AEsred!"

"Yes, with a kitchen towel about her head, and otherwise
unostentatiously appareled--but very becomingly, I can assure you!"
Here Jurgen glanced sidewise at his shadow, and he cleared his
throat. "Oh, and a most charming and a most estimable old lady I
found this AEsred to be, I can assure you also."

"I would prefer to know nothing about it," said Anaitis, hastily, "I
would prefer, for both our sakes, that you say no more of AEsred."
Jurgen shrugged.

Now in the Library of Cocaigne was garnered a record of all that the
nature myths had invented in the way of pleasure. And here, with no
companion save his queer shadow, and with AEsred arched above and
bleakly regarding him, Jurgen spent most of his time, rather
agreeably, in investigating and meditating upon the more curious of
these recreations. The painted Asan were, in all conscience, food
for wonder: but over and above these dozen surprising pastimes, the
books of Anaitis revealed to Jurgen, without disguise or reticence,
every other far-fetched frolic of heathenry. Hitherto unheard-of
forms of diversion were unveiled to him, and every recreation which
ingenuity had been able to contrive, for the gratifying of the most
subtle and the most strong-stomached tastes. No possible sort of
amusement would seem to have been omitted, in running the quaint
gamut of refinements upon nature which Anaitis and her cousins had
at odd moments invented, to satiate their desire for some more suave
or more strange or more sanguinary pleasure. Yet the deeper Jurgen
investigated, and the longer he meditated, the more certain it
seemed to him that all such employment was a peculiarly
unimaginative pursuit of happiness.

"I am willing to taste any drink once. So I must give diversion a
fair trial. But I am afraid these are the games of mental childhood.
Well, that reminds me I promised the children to play with them for
a while before supper."

So he came out, and presently, brave in the shirt of Nessus, and
mimicked in every action by that incongruous shadow, Prince Jurgen
was playing tag with the three little Eumenides, the daughters of
Anaitis by her former marriage with Acheron, the King of Midnight.

Anaitis and the dark potentate had parted by mutual consent.
"Acheron meant well," she would say, with a forgiving sigh, "and
that in the Moon's absence he occasionally diverted travellers, I do
not deny. But he did not understand me."

And Jurgen agreed that this tragedy sometimes befell even the
irreproachably diverting.

The three Eumenides at this period were half-grown girls, whom their
mother was carefully tutoring to drive guilty persons mad by the
stings of conscience: and very quaint it was to see the young Furies
at practise in the schoolroom, black-robed, and waving lighted
torches, and crowned each with her garland of pet serpents. They
became attached to Jurgen, who was always fond of children, and who
had frequently regretted that Dame Lisa had borne him none.

"It is enough to get the poor dear a name for eccentricity," he had
been used to say.

So Jurgen now made much of his step-children: and indeed he found
their innocent prattle quite as intelligent, in essentials, as the
talk of the full-grown nature myths who infested the palace of
Anaitis. And the four of them--Jurgen, and critical Alecto, and
grave Tisiphone, and fairy-like little Megaera,--would take long
walks, and play with their dolls (though Alecto was a trifle
condescending toward dolls), and romp together in the eternal
evening of Cocaigne; and discuss what sort of dresses and trinkets
Mother would probably bring them when she came back from Ecbatana or
Lesbos, and would generally enjoy themselves.

Rather pathetically earnest and unimaginative little lasses, Jurgen
found the young Eumenides: they inherited much of their mother's
narrow-mindedness, if not their father's brooding and gloomy
tendencies; but in them narrow-mindedness showed merely as amusing.
And Jurgen loved them, and would often reflect what a pity it was
that these dear little girls were destined when they reached
maturity, to spend the rest of their lives in haunting criminals and
adulterers and parricides and, generally, such persons as must
inevitably tarnish the girls' outlook upon life, and lead them to
see too much of the worst side of human nature.

So Jurgen was content enough. But still he was not actually happy,
not even among the endless pleasures of Cocaigne.

"And what is this thing that I desire?" he would ask himself, again
and again.

And still he did not know: he merely felt he was not getting
justice: and a dim sense of this would trouble him even while he was
playing with the Eumenides.




25.

Cantraps of the Master Philologist


But now, as has been recorded, it was September, and Jurgen could
see that Anaitis too was worrying over something. She kept it from
him as long as possible: first said it was nothing at all, then said
he would know it soon enough, then wept a little over the
possibility that he would probably be very glad to hear it, and
eventually told him. For in becoming the consort of a nature myth
connected with the Moon Jurgen had of course exposed himself to the
danger of being converted into a solar legend by the Philologists,
and in that event would be compelled to leave Cocaigne with the
Equinox, to enter into autumnal exploits elsewhere. And Anaitis was
quite heart-broken over the prospect of losing Jurgen.

"For I have never had such a Prince Consort in Cocaigne, so
maddening, and so helpless, and so clever; and the girls are so fond
of you, although they have not been able to get on at all with so
many of their step-fathers! And I know that you are flippant and
heartless, but you have quite spoiled me for other men. No, Jurgen,
there is no need to argue, for I have experimented with at least a
dozen lovers lately, when I was traveling, and they bored me
insufferably. They had, as you put it, dear, no conversation: and
you are the only young man I have found in all these ages who could
talk interestingly."

"There is a reason for that, since like you, Anaitis, I am not so
youthful as I appear."

"I do not care a straw about appearances," wept Anaitis, "but I know
that I love you, and that you must be leaving me with the Equinox
unless you can settle matters with the Master Philologist."

"Well, my pet," says Jurgen, "the Jews got into Jericho by trying."

He armed, and girded himself with Caliburn, drank a couple of
bottles of wine, put on the shirt of Nessus over all, and then went
to seek this thaumaturgist.

Anaitis showed him the way to an unpretentious residence, where a
week's washing was drying and flapping in the side yard. Jurgen
knocked boldly, and after an interval the door was opened by the
Master Philologist himself.

"You must pardon this informality," he said, blinking through his
great spectacles, which had dust on them: "but time was by ill luck
arrested hereabouts on a Thursday evening, and so the maid is out
indefinitely. I would suggest, therefore, that the lady wait outside
upon the porch. For the neighbors to see her go in would not be
respectable."

"Do you know what I have come for?" says Jurgen, blustering, and
splendid in his glittering shirt and his gleaming armor. "For I warn
you I am justice."

"I think you are lying, and I am sure you are making an unnecessary
noise. In any event, justice is a word, and I control all words."

"You will discover very soon, sir, that actions speak louder than
words."

"I believe that is so," said the Master Philologist, still blinking,
"just as the Jewish mob spoke louder than He Whom they crucified.
But the Word endures."

"You are a quibbler!"

"You are my guest. So I advise you, in pure friendliness, not to
impugn the power of my words."

Said Jurgen, scornfully: "But is justice, then, a word?"

"Oh, yes, it is one of the most useful. It is the Spanish _justicia_,
the Portuguese _justica_, the Italian _giustizia_, all from
the Latin _justus_. Oh, yes indeed, but justice is one of my best
connected words, and one of the best trained also, I can assure you."

"Aha, and to what degraded uses do you put this poor enslaved
intimidated justice!"

"There is but one intelligent use," said the Master Philologist,
unruffled, "for anybody to make of words. I will explain it to you,
if you will come in out of this treacherous draught. One never knows
what a cold may lead to."

Then the door closed upon them, and Anaitis waited outside, in some
trepidation.

Presently Jurgen came out of that unpretentious residence, and so
back to Anaitis, discomfited. Jurgen flung down his magic sword,
charmed Caliburn.

"This, Anaitis, I perceive to be an outmoded weapon. There is no
weapon like words, no armor against words, and with words the Master
Philologist has conquered me. It is not at all equitable: but the
man showed me a huge book wherein were the names of everything in
the world, and justice was not among them. It develops that,
instead, justice is merely a common noun, vaguely denoting an
ethical idea of conduct proper to the circumstances, whether of
individuals or communities. It is, you observe, just a grammarian's
notion."

"But what has he decided about you, Jurgen?"

"Alas, dear Anaitis, he has decided, in spite of all that I could
do, to derive Jurgen from _jargon_, indicating a confused
chattering such as birds give forth at sunrise: thus ruthlessly does
the Master Philologist convert me into a solar legend. So the affair
is settled, and we must part, my darling."

Anaitis took up the sword. "But this is valuable, since the man who
wields it is the mightiest of warriors."

"It is a rush, a rotten twig, a broomstraw, against the insidious
weapons of the Master Philologist. But keep it if you like, my dear,
and give it to your next Prince Consort. I am ashamed to have
trifled with such toys," says Jurgen, in fretted disgust. "And
besides, the Master Philologist assures me I shall mount far higher
through the aid of this."

"But what is on that bit of parchment?"

"Thirty-two of the Master Philologist's own words that I begged of
him. See, my dear, he made this cantrap for me with his own hand and
ink." And Jurgen read from the parchment, impressively: "'At the
death of Adrian the Fifth, Pedro Juliani, who should be named John
the Twentieth, was through an error in the reckoning elevated to the
papal chair as John the Twenty-first.'"

Said Anaitis, blankly: "And is that all?"

"Why, yes: and surely thirty-two whole words should be enough for
the most exacting."

"But is it magic? are you certain it is authentic magic?"

"I have learned that there is always magic in words."

"Now, if you ask my opinion, Jurgen, your cantrap is nonsense, and
can never be of any earthly use to anybody. Without boasting, dear,
I have handled a great deal of black magic in my day, but I never
encountered a spell at all like this."

"None the less, my darling, it is evidently a cantrap, for else the
Master Philologist would never have given it to me."

"But how are you to use it, pray?"

"Why, as need directs," said Jurgen, and he put the parchment into
the pocket of his glittering shirt. "Yes, I repeat, there is always
something to be done with words, and here are thirty-two authentic
words from the Master Philologist himself, not to speak of three
commas and a full-stop. Oh, I shall certainly go far with this."

"We women have firmer faith in the sword," replied Anaitis. "At all
events, you and I cannot remain upon this thaumaturgist's porch
indefinitely."

So Anaitis put up Caliburn, and carried it from the thaumaturgist's
unpretentious residence to her fine palace in the old twilit wood:
and afterward, as everybody knows, she gave this sword to King
Arthur, who with its aid rose to be hailed as one of the Nine
Worthies of the World. So did the husband of Guenevere win for
himself eternal fame with that which Jurgen flung away.




26.

In Time's Hour-Glass


"Well, well!" said Jurgen, when he had taken off all that foolish
ironmongery, and had made himself comfortable in his shirt; "well,
beyond doubt, the situation is awkward. I was content enough in
Cocaigne, and it is unfair that I should be thus ousted. Still, a
sensible person will manage to be content anywhere. But whither,
pray, am I expected to go?"

"Into whatever land you may elect, my dear," said Anaitis, fondly.
"That much at least I can manage for you: and the interpretation of
your legend can be arranged afterward."

"But I grow tired of all the countries I have ever seen, dear
Anaitis, and in my time I have visited nearly all the lands that are
known to men."

"That too can be arranged: and you can go instead into one of the
countries which are desired by men. Indeed there are a number of
such realms which no man has ever visited except in dreams, so that
your choice is wide."

"But how am I to make a choice without having seen any of these
countries? It is not fair to be expecting me to do anything of the
sort."

"Why, I will show them to you," Anaitis replied.

The two of them then went together into a small blue chamber, the
walls of which were ornamented with gold stars placed helter-skelter.
The room was entirely empty save for an hour-glass near twice the
height of a man.

"It is Time's own glass," said Anaitis, "which was left in my
keeping when Time went to sleep."

Anaitis opened a little door of carved crystal that was in the lower
half of the hour-glass, just above the fallen sands. With her
finger-tips she touched the sand that was in Time's hour-glass, and
in the sand she drew a triangle with equal sides, she who was
strangely gifted and perverse. Then she drew just such another
figure so that the tip of it penetrated the first triangle. The sand
began to smoulder there, and vapors rose into the upper part of the
hour-glass, and Jurgen saw that all the sand in Time's hour-glass
was kindled by a magic generated by the contact of these two
triangles. And in the vapors a picture formed.

"I see a land of woods and rivers, Anaitis. A very old fellow,
regally crowned, lies asleep under an ash-tree, guarded by a
watchman who has more arms and hands than Jigsbyed."

"It is Atlantis you behold, and the sleeping of ancient Time--Time,
to whom this glass belongs,--while Briareus watches."

"Time sleeps quite naked, Anaitis, and, though it is a delicate
matter to talk about, I notice he has met with a deplorable
accident."

"So that Time begets nothing any more, Jurgen, the while he brings
about old happenings over and over, and changes the name of what is
ancient, in order to persuade himself he has a new plaything. There
is really no more tedious and wearing old dotard anywhere, I can
assure you. But Atlantis is only the western province of Cocaigne.
Now do you look again, Jurgen!"

"Now I behold a flowering plain and three steep hills, with a castle
upon each hill. There are woods wherein the foliage is crimson:
shining birds with white bodies and purple heads feed upon the
clusters of golden berries that grow everywhere: and people go about
in green clothes, with gold chains about their necks, and with broad
bands of gold upon their arms, and all these people have untroubled
faces."

"That is Inislocha: and to the south is Inis Daleb, and to the north
Inis Ercandra. And there is sweet music to be listening to
eternally, could we but hear the birds of Rhiannon, and there is the
best of wine to drink, and there delight is common. For thither
comes nothing hard nor rough, and no grief, nor any regret, nor
sickness, nor age, nor death, for this is the Land of Women, a land
of many-colored hospitality."

"Why, then, it is no different from Cocaigne. And into no realm
where pleasure is endless will I ever venture again of my own free
will, for I find that I do not enjoy pleasure."

Then Anaitis showed him Ogygia, and Trypheme, and Sudarsana, and the
Fortunate Islands, and AEaea, and Caer-Is, and Invallis, and the
Hesperides, and Meropis, and Planasia, and Uttarra, and Avalon, and
Tir-nam-Beo, and Theleme, and a number of other lands to enter which
men have desired: and Jurgen groaned.

"I am ashamed of my fellows," says he: "for it appears their notion
of felicity is to dwell eternally in a glorified brothel. I do not
think that as a self-respecting young Prince I would care to inhabit
any of these earthly paradises, for were there nothing else, I would
always be looking for an invasion by the police."

"There remains, then, but one other realm, which I have not shown
you, in part because it is an obscure little place, and in part
because, for a reason that I have, I shall not assist you to go
thither. Still, there is Leuke, where Queen Helen rules: and Leuke
it is that you behold."

"But Leuke seems like any other country in autumn, and appears to be
reasonably free from the fantastic animals and overgrown flowers
which made the other paradises look childish. Come now, there is an
attractive simplicity about Leuke. I might put up with Leuke if the
local by-laws allowed me a rational amount of discomfort."

"Discomfort you would have full measure. For the heart of no man
remains untroubled after he has once viewed Queen Helen and the
beauty that is hers. It is for that reason, Jurgen, I shall not help
you to go into Leuke: for in Leuke you would forget me, having seen
Queen Helen."

"Why, what nonsense you are talking, my darling! I will wager she
cannot hold a candle to you."

"See for yourself!" said Anaitis, sadly.

Now through the rolling vapors came confusedly a gleaming and a
surging glitter of all the loveliest colors of heaven and earth:
and these took order presently, and Jurgen saw before him in the
hour-glass that young Dorothy who was not Heitman Michael's wife.
And long and wistfully he looked at her, and the blinding tears
came to his eyes for no reason at all, and for the while he could
not speak.

Then Jurgen yawned, and said, "But certainly this is not the Helen
who was famed for beauty."

"I can assure you that it is," said Anaitis: "and that it is she who
rules in Leuke, whither I do not intend you shall go."

"Why, but, my darling! this is preposterous. The girl is nothing to
look at twice, one way or the other. She is not actually ugly, I
suppose, if one happens to admire that washed-out blonde type, as of
course some people do. But to call her beautiful is out of reason;
and that I must protest in simple justice."

"Do you really think so?" says Anaitis, brightening.

"I most assuredly do. Why, you remember what Calpurnius Bassus says
about all blondes?"

"No, I believe not. What did he say, dear?"

"I would only spoil the splendid passage by quoting it inaccurately
from memory. But he was quite right, and his opinion is mine in
every particular. So if that is the best Leuke can offer, I heartily
agree with you I had best go into some other country."

"I suppose you already have your eyes upon some minx or other?"

"Well, my love, those girls in the Hesperides were strikingly like
you, with even more wonderful hair than yours: and the girl Aille
whom we saw in Tir-nam-Beo likewise resembled you remarkably, except
that I thought she had the better figure. So I believe in either of
those countries I could be content enough, after a while. Since part
from you I must," said Jurgen, tenderly, "I intend, in common
fairness to myself, to find a companion as like you as possible. You
conceive I can pretend it is you at first: and then as I grow fonder
of her for her own sake, you will gradually be put out of my mind
without my incurring any intolerable anguish."

Anaitis was not pleased. "So you are already hankering after those
huzzies! And you think them better looking than I am! And you tell
me so to my face!"

"My darling, you cannot deny we have been married all of three whole
months: and nobody can maintain an infatuation for any woman that
long, in the teeth of having nothing refused him. Infatuation is
largely a matter of curiosity, and both of these emotions die when
they are fed."

"Jurgen," said Anaitis, with conviction, "you are lying to me about
something. I can see it in your eyes."

"There is no deceiving a woman's intuition. Yes, I was not speaking
quite honestly when I pretended I had as lief go into the Hesperides
as to Tir-nam-Beo: it was wrong of me, and I ask your pardon. I
thought that by affecting indifference I could manage you better.
But you saw through me at once, and very rightly became angry. So I
fling my cards upon the table, I no longer beat about the bushes of
equivocation. It is Aille, the daughter of Cormac, whom I love, and
who can blame me? Did you ever in your life behold a more enticing
figure, Anaitis?--certainly I never did. Besides, I noticed--but
never mind about that! Still I could not help seeing them. And then
such eyes! twin beacons that light my way to comfort for my not
inconsiderable regret at losing you, my darling. Oh, yes, assuredly
it is to Tir-nam-Beo I elect to go."

"Whither you go, my fine fellow, is a matter in which I have the
choice, not you. And you are going to Leuke."

"My love, now do be reasonable! We both agreed that Leuke was not a
bit suitable. Why, were there nothing else, in Leuke there are no
attractive women."

"Have you no sense except book-sense! It is for that reason I am
sending you to Leuke."

And thus speaking, Anaitis set about a strong magic that hastened
the coming of the Equinox. In the midst of her charming she wept a
little, for she was fond of Jurgen.

And Jurgen preserved a hurt and angry face as well as he could: for
at the sight of Queen Helen, who was so like young Dorothy la
Desiree, he had ceased to care for Queen Anaitis and her diverting
ways, or to care for aught else in the world save only Queen Helen,
the delight of gods and men. But Jurgen had learned that Anaitis
required management.

"For her own good," as he put it, "and in simple justice to the many
admirable qualities which she possesses."




27.

Vexatious Estate of Queen Helen


"But how can I travel with the Equinox, with a fictitious thing,
with a mere convention?" Jurgen had said. "To demand any such
proceeding of me is preposterous."

"Is it any more preposterous than to travel with an imaginary
creature like a centaur?" they had retorted. "Why, Prince Jurgen, we
wonder how you, who have done that perfectly unheard-of thing, can
have the effrontery to call anything else preposterous! Is there no
reason at all in you? Why, conventions are respectable, and that is
a deal more than can be said for a great many centaurs. Would you be
throwing stones at respectability, Prince Jurgen? Why, we are
unutterably astounded at your objection to any such well-known
phenomenon as the Equinox!" And so on, and so on, and so on, said
they.

And in fine, they kept at him until Jurgen was too confused to
argue, and his head was in a whirl, and one thing seemed as
preposterous as another: and he ceased to notice any especial
improbability in his traveling with the Equinox, and so passed
without any further protest or argument about it, from Cocaigne to
Leuke. But he would not have been thus readily flustered had Jurgen
not been thinking all the while of Queen Helen and of the beauty
that was hers.

So he inquired forthwith the way that one might quickliest come into
the presence of Queen Helen.

"Why, you will find Queen Helen," he was told, "in her palace at
Pseudopolis." His informant was a hamadryad, whom Jurgen encountered
upon the outskirts of a forest overlooking the city from the west.
Beyond broad sloping stretches of ripe corn, you saw Pseudopolis as
a city builded of gold and ivory, now all a dazzling glitter under a
hard-seeming sky that appeared unusually remote from earth.

"And is the Queen as fair as people report?" asks Jurgen.

"Men say that she excels all other women," replied the Hamadryad,
"as immeasurably as all we women perceive her husband to surpass all
other men--"

"But, oh, dear me!" says Jurgen.

"--Although, for one, I see nothing remarkable in Queen Helen's
looks. And I cannot but think that a woman who has been so much
talked about ought to be more careful in the way she dresses."

"So this Queen Helen is already provided with a husband!" Jurgen was
displeased, but saw no reason for despair. Then Jurgen inquired as
to the Queen's husband, and learned that Achilles, the son of
Peleus, was now wedded to Helen, the Swan's daughter, and that these
two ruled in Pseudopolis.

"For they report," said the Hamadryad, "that in Ades' dreary kingdom
Achilles remembered her beauty, and by this memory was heartened to
break the bonds of Ades: so did Achilles, King of Men, and all his
ancient comrades come forth resistlessly upon a second quest of this
Helen, whom people call--and as I think, with considerable
exaggeration--the wonder of this world. Then the Gods fulfilled the
desire of Achilles, because, they said, the man who has once beheld
Queen Helen will never any more regain contentment so long as his
life lacks this wonder of the world. Personally, I would dislike to
think that all men are so foolish."

"Men are not always rational, I grant you: but then," says Jurgen,
slyly, "so many of their ancestresses are feminine."

"But an ancestress is always feminine. Nobody ever heard of a man
being an ancestress. Men are ancestors. Why, whatever are you
talking about?"

"Well, we were speaking, I believe, of Queen Helen's marriage."

"To be sure we were! And I was telling you about the Gods, when you
made that droll mistake about ancestors. Everybody makes mistakes
sometimes, however, and foreigners are always apt to get words
confused. I could see at once you were a foreigner--"

"Yes," said Jurgen, "but you were not telling me about myself but
about the Gods."

"Why, you must know the aging Gods desired tranquillity. So we will
give her to Achilles, they said; and then, it may be, this King of
Men will retain her so safely that his littler fellows will despair,
and will cease to war for Helen: and so we shall not be bothered any
longer by their wars and other foolishnesses. For this reason it was
that the Gods gave Helen to Achilles, and sent the pair to reign in
Leuke: though, for my part," concluded the Hamadryad, "I shall never
cease to wonder what he saw in her--no, not if I live to be a
thousand."

"I must," says Jurgen, "observe this monarch Achilles before the world
is a day older. A king is all very well, of course, but no husband
wears a crown so as to prevent the affixion of other head-gear."

And Jurgen went down into Pseudopolis, swaggering.

       *       *       *       *       *

So in the evening, just after sunset, Jurgen returned to the
Hamadryad: he walked now with the aid of the ashen staff which
Thersites had given Jurgen, and Jurgen was mirthless and rather
humble.

"I have observed your King Achilles," Jurgen says, "and he is a
better man than I. Queen Helen, as I confess with regret, is
worthily mated."

"And what have you to say about her?" inquires the Hamadryad.

"Why, there is nothing more to say than that she is worthily mated,
and fit to be the wife of Achilles." For once, poor Jurgen was
really miserable. "For I admire this man Achilles, I envy him, and I
fear him," says Jurgen: "and it is not fair that he should have been
created my superior."

"But is not Queen Helen the loveliest of ladies that you have ever
seen?"

"As to that--!" says Jurgen. He led the Hamadryad to a forest pool
hard-by the oak-tree in which she resided. The dusky water lay
unruffled, a natural mirror. "Look!" said Jurgen, and he spoke with
a downward waving of his staff.

The silence gathering in the woods was wonderful. Here the air was
sweet and pure: and the little wind which went about the ilex boughs
in search of night was a tender and peaceful wind, because it knew
that the all-healing night was close at hand.

The Hamadryad replied, "But I see only my own face."

"It is the answer to your question, none the less. Now do you tell
me your name, my dear, so that I may know who in reality is the
loveliest of all the ladies I have ever seen."

The Hamadryad told him that her name was Chloris, and that she
always looked a fright with her hair arranged as it was to-day, and
that he was a strangely impudent fellow. So he in turn confessed to
her he was King Jurgen of Eubonia, drawn from his remote kingdom by
exaggerated reports as to the beauty of Queen Helen. Chloris agreed
with him that rumor was in such matters invariably untrustworthy.

This led to further talk as twilight deepened: and the while that a
little by a little this pretty girl was convered into a warm
breathing shadow, hardly visible to the eye, the shadow of Jurgen
departed from him, and he began to talk better and better. He had
seen Queen Helen face to face, and other women now seemed
unimportant. Whether or not he got into the graces of this Hamadryad
did not greatly matter, one way or the other: and in consequence
Jurgen talked with such fluency, such apposite remarks and such
tenderness as astounded him.

So he sat listening with delight to the seductive tongue of that
monstrous clever fellow, Jurgen. For this plump brown-haired
bright-eyed little creature, this Chloris, he was honestly sorry.
Into the uneventful life of a hamadryad, here in this uncultured
forest, could not possibly have entered much pleasurable excitement,
and it seemed only right to inject a little. "Why, simply in justice
to her!" Jurgen reflected. "I must deal fairly."

Now it grew darker and darker under the trees, and in the dark
nobody can see what happens. There were only two voices that talked,
with lengthy pauses: and they spoke gravely of unimportant trifles,
like children at play together.

"And how does a king come thus to be traveling without any retinue
or even a sword about him?"

"Why, I travel with a staff, my dear, as you perceive: and it
suffices me."

"Certainly it is large enough, in all conscience. Alas, young
outlander, who call yourself a king! you carry the bludgeon of a
highwayman, and I am afraid of it."

"My staff is a twig from Yggdrasill, the tree of universal life:
Thersites gave it me, and the sap that throbs therein arises from
the Undar fountain, where the grave Norns make laws for men and fix
their destinies."

"Thersites is a scoffer, and his gifts are mockery. I would have
none of them."

The two began to wrangle, not at all angrily, as to what Jurgen had
best do with his prized staff. "Do you take it away from me, at any
rate!" says Chloris. So Jurgen hid his staff where Chloris could not
possibly see it; and he drew the Hamadryad close to him, and he
laughed contentedly.

"Oh, oh! O wretched King," cried Chloris, "I fear that you will be
the death of me! And you have no right to oppress me in this way,
for I am not your subject."

"Rather shall you be my queen, dear Chloris, receiving all that I
most prize."

"But you are too domineering: and I am afraid to be alone with you
and your big staff! Ah! not without knowing what she talked about
did my mother use to quote her AEolic saying, The king is cruel and
takes joy in bloodshed!"

"Presently you will not be afraid of me, nor will you be afraid of
my staff. Custom is all. For this likewise is an AEolic saying, The
taste of the first olive is unpleasant, but the second is good."

Now for a while was silence save for the small secretive rumors of
the forest. One of the large green locusts which frequent the Island
of Leuke began shrilling tentatively.

"Wait now, King Jurgen, for surely I hear footsteps, and one comes
to trouble us."

"It is a wind in the tree-tops: or perhaps it is a god who envies
me. I pause for neither."

"Ah, but speak reverently of the Gods! For is not Love a god, and a
jealous god that has wings with which to leave us?"

"Then am I a god, for in my heart is love, and in every fibre of me
is love, and from me now love emanates."

"But certainly I heard somebody approaching through the forest--"

"Well, and do you not perceive I have withdrawn my staff from its
hiding-place?"

"Ah, you have great faith in that staff of yours!"

"I fear nobody when I brandish it."

Another locust had answered the first one. Now the two insects were
in full dispute, suffusing the warm darkness with their pertinacious
whirrings.

"King of Eubonia, it is certainly true, that which you told me about
olives."

"Yes, for always love begets truthfulness."

"I pray it may beget between us utter truthfulness, and nothing
else, King Jurgen."

"Not 'Jurgen' now, but 'love'."

"Indeed, they tell that even so, in such deep darkness, Love came to
his sweetheart Psyche."

"Then why do you complain because I piously emulate the Gods, and
offer unto Love the sincerest form of flattery?" And Jurgen shook
his staff at her.

"Ah, but you are strangely ready with your flattery! and Love
threatened Psyche with no such enormous staff."

"That is possible: for I am Jurgen. And I deal fairly with all
women, and raise my staff against none save in the way of kindness."

So they talked nonsense, in utter darkness, while the locusts, and
presently a score of locusts, disputed obstinately. Now Chloris and
Jurgen were invisible, even to each other, as they talked under her
oak-tree: but before them the fields shone mistily under a gold-dusted
dome, for this night seemed builded of stars. And the white towers of
Pseudopolis also could Jurgen see, as he laughed there and took his
pleasure with Chloris. He reflected that very probably Achilles and
Helen were laughing thus, and were not dissimilarly occupied, out
yonder, in this night of wonder.

He sighed. But in a while Jurgen and the Hamadryad were speaking
again, just as inconsequently, and the locusts were whirring just as
obstinately. Later the moon rose, and they all slept.

With the dawn Jurgen arose, and left this Hamadryad Chloris still
asleep. He stood where he overlooked the city and the shirt of
Nessus glittered in the level sun rays: and Jurgen thought of Queen
Helen. Then he sighed, and went back to Chloris and wakened her with
the sort of salutation that appeared her just due.




28.

Of Compromises in Leuke


Now the tale tells that ten days later Jurgen and his Hamadryad were
duly married, in consonance with the law of the Wood: not for a
moment did Chloris consider any violation of the proprieties, so
they were married the first evening she could assemble her kindred.

"Still, Chloris, I already have two wives," says Jurgen, "and it is
but fair to confess it."

"I thought it was only yesterday you arrived in Leuke."

"That is true: for I came with the Equinox, over the long sea."

"Then Jugatinus has not had time to marry you to anybody, and
certainly he would never think of marrying you to two wives. Why do
you talk such nonsense?"

"No, it is true, I was not married by Jugatinus."

"So there!" says Chloris, as if that settled matters. "Now you see
for yourself."

"Why, yes, to be sure," says Jurgen, "that does put rather a
different light upon it, now I think of it."

"It makes all the difference in the world."

"I would hardly go that far. Still, I perceive it makes a
difference."

"Why, you talk as if everybody did not know that Jugatinus marries
people!"

"No, dear, let us be fair! I did not say precisely that."

"--And as if everybody was not always married by Jugatinus!"

"Yes, here in Leuke, perhaps. But outside of Leuke, you understand,
my darling!"

"But nobody goes outside of Leuke. Nobody ever thinks of leaving
Leuke. I never heard such nonsense."

"You mean, nobody ever leaves this island?"

"Nobody that you ever hear of. Of course, there are Lares and
Penates, with no social position, that the kings of Pseudopolis
sometimes take a-voyaging--"

"Still, the people of other countries do get married."

"No, Jurgen," said Chloris, sadly, "it is a rule with Jugatinus
never to leave the island; and indeed I am sure he has never even
considered such unheard-of conduct: so, of course, the people of
other countries are not able to get married."

"Well, but, Chloris, in Eubonia--"

"Now if you do not mind, dear, I think we had better talk about
something more pleasant. I do not blame you men of Eubonia, because
all men are in such matters perfectly irresponsible. And perhaps it
is not altogether the fault of the women, either, though I do think
any really self-respecting woman would have the strength of
character to keep out of such irregular relations, and that much I
am compelled to say. So do not let us talk any more about these
persons whom you describe as your wives. It is very nice of you,
dear, to call them that, and I appreciate your delicacy. Still, I
really do believe we had better talk about something else."

Jurgen deliberated. "Yet do you not think, Chloris, that in the
absence of Jugatinus--and in, as I understand it, the unavoidable
absence of Jugatinus,--somebody else might perform the ceremony?"

"Oh, yes, if they wanted to. But it would not count. Nobody but
Jugatinus can really marry people. And so of course nobody else
does."

"What makes you sure of that?"

"Why, because," said Chloris, triumphantly, "nobody ever heard of
such a thing."

"You have voiced," said Jurgen, "an entire code of philosophy. Let
us by all means go to Jugatinus and be married."

So they were married by Jugatinus, according to the ceremony with
which the People of the Wood were always married by Jugatinus. First
Virgo loosed the girdle of Chloris in such fashion as was customary;
and Chloris, after sitting much longer than Jurgen liked in the lap
of Mutinus (who was in the state that custom required of him) was
led back to Jurgen by Domiducus in accordance with immemorial
custom; Subigo did her customary part; then Praema grasped the
bride's plump arms: and everything was perfectly regular.

Thereafter Jurgen disposed of his staff in the way Thersites had
directed: and thereafter Jurgen abode with Chloris upon the
outskirts of the forest, and complied with the customs of Leuke. Her
tree was a rather large oak, for Chloris was now in her two hundred
and sixty-sixth year; and at first its commodious trunk sheltered
them. But later Jurgen builded himself a little cabin thatched with
birds' wings, and made himself more comfortable.

"It is well enough for you, my dear, in fact it is expected of you,
to live in a tree-bole. But it makes me feel uncomfortably like a
worm, and it needlessly emphasizes the restrictions of married life.
Besides, you do not want me under your feet all the time, nor I you.
No, let us cultivate a judicious abstention from familiarity: such
is one secret of an enduring, because endurable, marriage. But why
is it, pray, that you have never married before, in all these
years?"

She told him. At first Jurgen could not believe her, but presently
Jurgen was convinced, through at least two of his senses, that what
Chloris told him was true about hamadryads.

"Otherwise, you are not markedly unlike the women of Eubonia," said
Jurgen.

And now Jurgen met many of the People of the Wood; but since the
tree of Chloris stood upon the verge of the forest, he saw far more
of the People of the Field, who dwelt between the forest and the
city of Pseudopolis. These were the neighbors and the ordinary
associates of Chloris and Jurgen; though once in a while, of course,
there would be family gatherings in the forest. But Jurgen presently
had found good reason to distrust the People of the Wood, and went
to none of these gatherings.

"For in Eubonia," he said, "we are taught that your wife's relatives
will never find fault with you to your face so long as you keep away
from them. And more than that, no sensible man expects."

Meanwhile, King Jurgen was perplexed by the People of the Field, who
were his neighbors. They one and all did what they had always done.
Thus Runcina saw to it that the Fields were weeded: Seia took care
of the seed while it was buried in the earth: Nodosa arranged the
knots and joints of the stalk: Volusia folded the blade around the
corn: each had an immemorial duty. And there was hardly a day that
somebody was not busied in the Fields, whether it was Occator
harrowing, or Sator and Sarritor about their sowing and raking, or
Stercutius manuring the ground: and Hippona was always bustling
about in one place or another looking after the horses, or else
Bubona would be there attending to the cattle. There was never any
restfulness in the Fields.

"And why do you do these things year in and year out?" asked Jurgen.

"Why, King of Eubonia, we have always done these things," they said,
in high astonishment.

"Yes, but why not stop occasionally?"

"Because in that event the work would stop. The corn would die, the
cattle would perish, and the Fields would become jungles."

"But, as I understand it, this is not your corn, nor your cattle,
nor your Fields. You derive no good from them. And there is nothing
to prevent your ceasing this interminable labor, and living as do
the People of the Wood, who perform no heavy work whatever."

"I should think not!" said Aristaeus, and his teeth flashed in a smile
that was very pleasant to see, as he strained at the olive-press.
"Whoever heard of the People of the Wood doing anything useful!"

"Yes, but," says Jurgen, patiently, "do you think it is quite fair
to yourselves to be always about some tedious and difficult labor
when nobody compels you to do it? Why do you not sometimes take
holiday?"

"King Jurgen," replied Fornax, looking up from the little furnace
wherein she was parching corn, "you are talking nonsense. The People
of the Field have never taken holiday. Nobody ever heard of such a
thing."

"We should think not indeed!" said all the others, sagely.

"Ah, ah!" said Jurgen, "so that is your demolishing reason. Well, I
shall inquire about this matter among the People of the Wood, for
they may be more sensible."

Then as Jurgen was about to enter the forest, he encountered
Terminus, perfumed with ointment, and crowned with a garland of
roses, and standing stock still.

"Aha," said Jurgen, "so here is one of the People of the Wood about
to go down into the Fields. But if I were you, my friend, I would
keep away from any such foolish place."

"I never go down into the Fields," said Terminus.

"Oh, then, you are returning into the forest."

"But certainly not. Whoever heard of my going into the forest!"

"Indeed, now I look at you, you are merely standing here."

"I have always stood here," said Terminus.

"And do you never move?"

"No," said Terminus.

"And for what reason?"

"Because I have always stood here without moving," replied Terminus.
"Why, for me to move would be a quite unheard-of thing."

So Jurgen left him, and went into the forest. And there Jurgen
encountered a smiling young fellow, who rode upon the back of a
large ram. This young man had his left fore-finger laid to his lips,
and his right hand held an astonishing object to be thus publicly
displayed.

"But, oh, dear me! now, really, sir--!" says Jurgen.

"Bah!" says the ram.

But the smiling young fellow said nothing at all as he passed
Jurgen, because it is not the custom of Harpocrates to speak.

"Which would be well enough," reflected Jurgen, "if only his custom
did not make for stiffness and the embarrassment of others."

Thereafter Jurgen came upon a considerable commotion in the bushes,
where a satyr was at play with an oread.

"Oh, but this forest is not respectable!" said Jurgen. "Have you no
ethics and morals, you People of the Wood! Have you no sense of
responsibility whatever, thus to be frolicking on a working-day?"

"Why, no," responded the Satyr, "of course not. None of my people
have such things: and so the natural vocation of all satyrs is that
which you are now interrupting."

"Perhaps you speak the truth," said Jurgen. "Still, you ought to be
ashamed of the fact that you are not lying."

"For a satyr to be ashamed of himself would be indeed an unheard-of
thing! Now go away, you in the glittering shirt! for we are studying
eudaemonism, and you are talking nonsense, and I am busy, and you
annoy me," said the Satyr.

"Well, but in Cocaigne," said Jurgen, "this eudaemonism was
considered an indoor diversion."

"And did you ever hear of a satyr going indoors?"

"Why, save us from all hurt and harm! but what has that to do with
it?"

"Do not try to equivocate, you shining idiot! For now you see for
yourself you are talking nonsense. And I repeat that such unheard-of
nonsense irritates me," said the Satyr.

The Oread said nothing at all. But she too looked annoyed, and
Jurgen reflected that it was probably not the custom of oreads to be
rescued from the eudaemonism of satyrs.

So Jurgen left them; and yet deeper in the forest he found a bald-headed
squat old man, with a big paunch and a flat red nose and very small
bleared eyes. Now the old fellow was so helplessly drunk that he could
not walk: instead, he sat upon the ground, and leaned against a tree-bole.

"This is a very disgusting state for you to be in so early in the
morning," observed Jurgen.

"But Silenus is always drunk," the bald-headed man responded, with a
dignified hiccough.

"So here is another one of you! Well, and why are you always drunk,
Silenus?"

"Because Silenus is the wisest of the People of the Wood."

"Ah, ah! but I apologize. For here at last is somebody with a
plausible excuse for his daily employment. Now, then, Silenus, since
you are so wise, come tell me, is it really the best fate for a man
to be drunk always?"

"Not at all. Drunkenness is a joy reserved for the Gods: so do men
partake of it impiously, and so are they very properly punished for
their audacity. For men, it is best of all never to be born; but,
being born, to die very quickly."

"Ah, yes! but failing either?"

"The third best thing for a man is to do that which seems expected
of him," replied Silenus.

"But that is the Law of Philistia: and with Philistia, they inform
me, Pseudopolis is at war."

Silenus meditated. Jurgen had discovered an uncomfortable thing
about this old fellow, and it was that his small bleared eyes did
not blink nor the lids twitch at all. His eyes moved, as through
magic the eyes of a painted statue might move horribly, under quite
motionless red lids. Therefore it was uncomfortable when these eyes
moved toward you.

"Young fellow in the glittering shirt, I will tell you a secret: and
it is that the Philistines were created after the image of Koshchei
who made some things as they are. Do you think upon that! So the
Philistines do that which seems expected. And the people of Leuke
were created after the image of Koshchei who made yet other things
as they are: therefore do the people of Leuke do that which is
customary, adhering to classical tradition. Do you think upon that
also! Then do you pick your side in this war, remembering that you
side with stupidity either way. And when that happens which will
happen, do you remember how Silenus foretold to you precisely what
would happen, a long while before it happened, because Silenus was
so old and so wise and so very disreputably drunk, and so very, very
sleepy."

"Yes, certainly, Silenus: but how will this war end?"

"Dullness will conquer dullness: and it will not matter."

"Ah, yes! but what will become, in all this fighting, of Jurgen?"

"That will not matter either," said Silenus, comfortably. "Nobody
will bother about you." And with that he closed his horrible bleared
eyes and went to sleep.

So Jurgen left the old tippler, and started to leave the forest
also. "For undoubtedly all the people in Leuke are resolute to do
that which is customary," reflected Jurgen, "for the unarguable
reason it is their custom, and has always been their custom. And
they will desist from these practises when the cat eats acorns, but
not before. So it is the part of wisdom to inquire no further into
the matter. For after all, these people may be right; and certainly
I cannot go so far as to say they are wrong." Jurgen shrugged. "But
still, at the same time--!"

Now in returning to his cabin Jurgen heard a frightful sort of
yowling and screeching as of mad people.

"Hail, daughter of various-formed Protogonus, thou that takest joy
in mountains and battles and in the beating of the drum! Hail, thou
deceitful saviour, mother of all gods, that comest now, pleased with
long wanderings, to be propitious to us!"

But the uproar was becoming so increasingly unpleasant that Jurgen
at this point withdrew into a thicket: and thence he witnessed the
passing through the Woods of a notable procession. There were
features connected with this procession sufficiently unusual to
cause Jurgen to vow that the desiderated moment wherein he walked
unhurt from the forest would mark the termination of his last visit
thereto. Then amazement tripped up the heels of terror: for now
passed Mother Sereda, or, as Anaitis had called her, AEsred. To-day,
in place of a towel about her head, she wore a species of crown,
shaped like a circlet of crumbling towers: she carried a large key,
and her chariot was drawn by two lions. She was attended by howling
persons, with shaved heads: and it was apparent that these persons
had parted with possessions which Jurgen valued.

"This is undoubtedly," said he, "a most unwholesome forest."

Jurgen inquired about this procession, later, and from Chloris he
got information which surprised him.

"And these are the beings who I had thought were poetic ornaments of
speech! But what is the old lady doing in such high company?"

He described Mother Sereda, and Chloris told him who this was. Now
Jurgen shook his sleek black head.

"Behold another mystery! Yet after all, it is no concern of mine if
the old lady elects for an additional anagram. I should be the last
person to criticize her, inasmuch as to me she has been more than
generous. Well, I shall preserve her friendship by the infallible
recipe of keeping out of her way. Oh, but I shall certainly keep out
of her way now that I have perceived what is done to the men who
serve her."

And after that Jurgen and Chloris lived very pleasantly together,
though Jurgen began to find his Hamadryad a trifle unperceptive, if
not actually obtuse.

"She does not understand me, and she does not always treat my
superior wisdom quite respectfully. That is unfair, but it seems to
be an unavoidable feature of married life. Besides, if any woman had
ever understood me she would, in self-protection, have refused to
marry me. In any case, Chloris is a dear brown plump delicious
partridge of a darling: and cleverness in women is, after all, a
virtue misplaced."

And Jurgen did not return into the Woods, nor did he go down into
the city. Neither the People of the Field nor of the Wood, of
course, ever went within city gates. "But I would think that you
would like to see the fine sights of Pseudopolis," says
Chloris,--"and that fine Queen of theirs," she added, almost as
though she spoke without premeditation.

"Woman dear," says Jurgen, "I do not wish to appear boastful. But in
Eubonia, now! well, really some day we must return to my kingdom,
and you shall inspect for yourself a dozen or two of my cities--Ziph
and Eglington and Poissieux and Gazden and Baeremburg, at all events.
And then you will concede with me that this little village of
Pseudopolis, while well enough in its way--!" And Jurgen shrugged.
"But as for saying more!"

"Sometimes," said Chloris, "I wonder if there is any such place as
your fine kingdom of Eubonia: for certainly it grows larger and more
splendid every time you talk of it."

"Now can it be," asks Jurgen, more hurt than angry, "that you
suspect me of uncandid dealing and, in short, of being an impostor!"

"Why, what does it matter? You are Jurgen," she answered, happily.

And the man was moved as she smiled at him across the glowing queer
embroidery-work at which Chloris seemed to labor interminably: he
was conscious of a tenderness for her which was oddly remorseful:
and it appeared to him that if he had known lovelier women he had
certainly found nowhere anyone more lovable than was this plump and
busy and sunny-tempered little wife of his.

"My dear, I do not care to see Queen Helen again, and that is a
fact. I am contented here, with a wife befitting my station, suited
to my endowments, and infinitely excelling my deserts."

"And do you think of that tow-headed bean-pole very often, King
Jurgen?"

"That is unfair, and you wrong me, Chloris, with these unmerited
suspicions. It pains me to reflect, my dear, that you esteem the tie
between us so lightly you can consider me capable of breaking it
even in thought."

"To talk of fairness is all very well, but it is no answer to a
plain question."

Jurgen looked full at her; and he laughed. "You women are so
unscrupulously practical. My dear, I have seen Queen Helen face to
face. But it is you whom I love as a man customarily loves a woman."

"That is not saying much."

"No: for I endeavor to speak in consonance with my importance. You
forget that I have also seen Achilles."

"But you admired Achilles! You told me so yourself."

"I admired the perfections of Achilles, but I cordially dislike the
man who possesses them. Therefore I shall keep away from both the
King and Queen of Pseudopolis."

"Yet you will not go into the Woods, either, Jurgen--"

"Not after what I have witnessed there," said Jurgen, with an
exaggerated shudder that was not very much exaggerated.

Now Chloris laughed, and quitted her queer embroidery in order to
rumple up his hair. "And you find the People of the Field so
insufferably stupid, and so uninterested by your Zorobasiuses and
Ptolemopiters and so on, that you keep away from them also. O
foolish man of mine, you are determined to be neither fish nor beast
nor poultry and nowhere will you ever consent to be happy.

"It was not I who determined my nature, Chloris: and as for being
happy, I make no complaint. Indeed, I have nothing to complain of,
nowadays. So I am very well contented by my dear wife and by my
manner of living in Leuke," said Jurgen, with a sigh.




29.

Concerning Horvendile's Nonsense


It was on a bright and tranquil day in November, at the period which
the People of the Field called the summer of Alcyone, that Jurgen
went down from the forest; and after skirting the moats of
Pseudopolis, and avoiding a meeting with any of the town's
dispiritingly glorious inhabitants, Jurgen came to the seashore.

Chloris had suggested his doing this, in order that she could have a
chance to straighten things in his cabin while she was tidying her
tree for the winter, and could so make one day's work serve for two.
For the dryad of an oak-tree has large responsibilities, what with
the care of so many dead leaves all winter, and the acorns being
blown from their places and littering up the ground everywhere, and
the bark cracking until it looks positively disreputable: and Jurgen
was at any such work less a help than a hindrance. So Chloris gave
him a parcel of lunch and a perfunctory kiss, and told him to go
down to the seashore and get inspired and make up a pretty poem
about her. "And do you be back in time for an early supper, Jurgen,"
says she, "but not a minute before."

Thus it befell that Jurgen reflectively ate his lunch in solitude,
and regarded the Euxine. The sun was high, and the queer shadow that
followed Jurgen was huddled into shapelessness.

"This is indeed an inspiring spectacle," Jurgen reflected. "How puny
seems the race of man, in contrast with this mighty sea, which now
spreads before me like, as So-and-so has very strikingly observed, a
something or other under such and such conditions!" Then Jurgen
shrugged. "Really, now I think of it, though, there is no call for
me to be suffused with the traditional emotions. It looks like a
great deal of water, and like nothing else in particular. And I
cannot but consider the water is behaving rather futilely."

So he sat in drowsy contemplation of the sea. Far out a shadow would
form on the water, like the shadow of a broadish plank, scudding
shoreward, and lengthening and darkening as it approached. Presently
it would be some hundred feet in length, and would assume a hard
smooth darkness, like that of green stone: this was the under side
of the wave. Then the top of it would curdle, the southern end of
the wave would collapse, and with exceeding swiftness this white
feathery falling would plunge and scamper and bluster northward, the
full length of the wave. It would be neater and more workmanlike to
have each wave tumble down as a whole. From the smacking and the
splashing, what looked like boiling milk would thrust out over the
brown sleek sands: and as the mess spread it would thin to a
reticulated whiteness, like lace, and then to the appearance of
smoke sprays clinging to the sands. Plainly the tide was coming in.

Or perhaps it was going out. Jurgen's notions as to such phenomena
were vague. But, either way, the sea was stirring up a large
commotion and a rather pleasant and invigorating odor.

And then all this would happen once more: and then it would happen
yet again. It had happened a number of hundred of times since Jurgen
first sat down to eat his lunch: and what was gained by it? The sea
was behaving stupidly. There was no sense in this continual sloshing
and spanking and scrabbling and spluttering.

Thus Jurgen, as he nodded over the remnants of his lunch.

"Sheer waste of energy, I am compelled to call it," said Jurgen,
aloud, just as he noticed there were two other men on this long
beach.

One came from the north, one from the south, so that they met not
far from where Jurgen was sitting: and by an incredible coincidence
Jurgen had known both of these men in his first youth. So he hailed
them, and they recognized him at once. One of these travellers was
the Horvendile who had been secretary to Count Emmerick when Jurgen
was a lad: and the other was Perion de la Foret, that outlaw who had
come to Bellegarde very long ago disguised as the Vicomte de
Puysange. And all three of these old acquaintances had kept their
youth surprisingly.

Now Horvendile and Perion marveled at the fine shirt which Jurgen
was wearing.

"Why, you must know," he said, modestly, "that I have lately become
King of Eubonia, and must dress according to my station."

So they said they had always expected some such high honor to befall
him, and then the three of them fell to talking. And Perion told how
he had come through Pseudopolis, on his way to King Theodoret at
Lacre Kai, and how in the market-place at Pseudopolis he had seen
Queen Helen. "She is a very lovely lady," said Perion, "and I
marvelled over her resemblance to Count Emmerick's fair sister, whom
we all remember."

"I noticed that at once," said Horvendile, and he smiled strangely,
"when I, too, passed through the city."

"Why, but nobody could fail to notice it," said Jurgen.

"It is not, of course, that I consider her to be as lovely as Dame
Melicent," continued Perion, "since, as I have contended in all
quarters of the world, there has never lived, and will never live,
any woman so beautiful as Melicent. But you gentlemen appear
surprised by what seems to me a very simple statement. Your air, in
fine, is one that forces me to point out it is a statement I can
permit nobody to deny." And Perion's honest eyes had narrowed
unpleasantly, and his sun-browned countenance was uncomfortably
stern.

"Dear sir," said Jurgen, hastily, "it was merely that it appeared to
me the lady whom they call Queen Helen hereabouts is quite evidently
Count Emmerick's sister Dorothy la Desiree."

"Whereas I recognized her at once," says Horvendile, "as Count
Emmerick's third sister, La Beale Ettarre."

And now they stared at one another, for it was certain that these
three sisters were not particularly alike.

"Putting aside any question of eyesight," observes Perion, "it is
indisputable that the language of both of you is distorted. For one
of you says this is Madame Dorothy, and the other says this is
Madame Ettarre: whereas everybody knows that this Queen Helen,
whomever she may resemble, cannot possibly be anybody else save
Queen Helen."

"To you, who are always the same person," replied Jurgen, "that may
sound reasonable. For my part, I am several people: and I detect no
incongruity in other persons' resembling me."

"There would be no incongruity anywhere," suggested Horvendile, "if
Queen Helen were the woman whom we had loved in vain. For the woman
whom when we were young we loved in vain is the one woman that we
can never see quite clearly, whatever happens. So we might easily, I
suppose, confuse her with some other woman."

"But Melicent is the lady whom I have loved in vain," said Perion,
"and I care nothing whatever about Queen Helen. Why should I? What
do you mean now, Horvendile, by your hints that I have faltered in
my constancy to Dame Melicent since I saw Queen Helen? I do not like
such hints."

"No less, it is Ettarre whom I love, and have loved not quite in
vain, and have loved unfalteringly," says Horvendile, with his quiet
smile: "and I am certain that it was Ettarre whom I beheld when I
looked upon Queen Helen."

"I may confess," says Jurgen, clearing his throat, "that I have
always regarded Madame Dorothy with peculiar respect and admiration.
For the rest, I am married. Even so, I think that Madame Dorothy is
Queen Helen."

Then they fell to debating this mystery. And presently Perion said
the one way out was to leave the matter to Queen Helen. "She at all
events must know who she is. So do one of you go back into the city,
and embrace her knees as is the custom of this country when one
implores a favor of the King or the Queen: and do you then ask her
fairly."

"Not I," says Jurgen. "I am upon terms of some intimacy with a
hamadryad just at present. I am content with my Hamadryad. And I
intend never to venture into the presence of Queen Helen any more,
in order to preserve my contentment."

"Why, but I cannot go," says Perion, "because Dame Melicent has a
little mole upon her left cheek. And Queen Helen's cheek is
flawless. You understand, of course, that I am certain this mole
immeasurably enhances the beauty of Dame Melicent," he added,
loyally. "None the less, I mean to hold no further traffic with
Queen Helen."

"Now my reason for not going is this," said Horvendile:--"that if I
attempted to embrace the knees of Ettarre, whom people hereabouts
call Helen, she would instantly vanish. Other matters apart, I do
not wish to bring any such misfortune upon the Island of Leuke."

"But that," said Perion, "is nonsense."

"Of course it is," said Horvendile. "That is probably why it
happens."

So none of them would go. And each of them clung, none the less, to
his own opinion about Queen Helen. And presently Perion said they
were wasting both time and words. Then Perion bade the two farewell,
and Perion continued southward, toward Lacre Kai. And as he went he
sang a song in honor of Dame Melicent, whom he celebrated as Heart
o' My Heart: and the two who heard him agreed that Perion de la
Foret was probably the worst poet in the world.

"Nevertheless, there goes a very chivalrous and worthy gentleman,"
said Horvendile, "intent to play out the remainder of his romance. I
wonder if the Author gets much pleasure from these simple
characters? At least they must be easy to handle."

"I cultivate a judicious amount of gallantry," says Jurgen: "I do
not any longer aspire to be chivalrous. And indeed, Horvendile, it
seems to me indisputable that each one of us is the hero in his own
romance, and cannot understand any other person's romance, but
misinterprets everything therein, very much as we three have fallen
out in the simple matter of a woman's face."

Now young Horvendile meditatively stroked his own curly and reddish
hair, brushing it away from his ears with his left hand, as he sat
there staring meditatively at nothing in particular.

"I would put it, Jurgen, that we three have met like characters out
of three separate romances which the Author has composed in
different styles."

"That also," Jurgen submitted, "would be nonsense."

"Ah, but perhaps the Author very often perpetrates nonsense. Come
Jurgen, you who are King of Eubonia!" says Horvendile, with his
wide-set eyes a-twinkle; "what is there in you or me to attest that
our Author has not composed our romances with his tongue in his
cheek?"

"Messire Horvendile, if you are attempting to joke about Koshchei
who made all things as they are, I warn you I do not consider that
sort of humor very wholesome. Without being prudish, I believe in
common-sense: and I would vastly prefer to have you talk about
something else."

Horvendile was still smiling. "You look some day to come to
Koshchei, as you call the Author. That is easily said, and sounds
excellently. Ah, but how will you recognize Koshchei? and how do you
know you have not already passed by Koshchei in some street or
meadow? Come now, King Jurgen," said Horvendile, and still his young
face wore an impish smile; "come tell me, how do you know that I am
not Koshchei who made all things as they are?"

"Be off with you!" says Jurgen; "you would never have had the wit to
invent a Jurgen. Something else is troubling me: I have just
recollected that the young Perion who left us only a moment since,
grew to be rich and gray-headed and famous, and took Dame Melicent
from her pagan husband, and married her himself: and that all this
happened long years ago. So our recent talk with young Perion seems
very improbable."

"Why, but do you not remember, too, that I ran away in the night
when Maugis d'Aigremont stormed Storisende? and was never heard of
any more? and that all this, too, took place a long, long while ago?
Yet we have met as three fine young fellows, here on the beach of
fabulous Leuke. I put it to you fairly, King Jurgen: now how could
this conceivably have come about unless the Author sometimes
composes nonsense?"

"Truly the way that you express it, Horvendile, the thing does seem
a little strange; and I can think of no explanation rendering it
plausible."

"Again, see now, King Jurgen of Eubonia, how you underrate the
Author's ability. This is one of the romancer's most venerable
devices that is being practised. See for yourself!" And suddenly
Horvendile pushed Jurgen so that Jurgen tumbled over in the warm
sand.

Then Jurgen arose, gaping and stretching himself. "That was a very
foolish dream I had, napping here in the sun. For it was certainly a
dream. Otherwise, they would have left footprints, these young
fellows who have gone the way of youth so long ago. And it was a
dream that had no sense in it. But indeed it would be strange if
that were the whole point of it, and if living, too, were such a
dream, as that queer Horvendile would have me think."

Jurgen snapped his fingers.

"Well, and what in common fairness could he or anyone else expect me
to do about it! That is the answer I fling at you, you Horvendile
whom I made up in a dream. And I disown you as the most futile of my
inventions. So be off with you! and a good riddance, too, for I
never held with upsetting people."

Then Jurgen dusted himself, and trudged home to an early supper with
the Hamadryad who contented him.




30.

Economics of King Jurgen


Now Jurgen's curious dream put notions into the restless head of
Jurgen. So mighty became his curiosity that he went shuddering into
the abhorred Woods, and passed over Coalisnacoan (which is the Ferry
of Dogs), and did all such detestable things as were necessary to
placate Phobetor. Then Jurgen tricked Phobetor by an indescribable
device, wherein surprising use was made of a cheese and three
beetles and a gimlet, and so cheated Phobetor out of a gray magic.
And that night while Pseudopolis slept King Jurgen came down into
this city of gold and ivory.

Jurgen went with distaste among the broad-browed and great-limbed
monarchs of Pseudopolis, for they reminded him of things that he had
long ago put aside, and they made him feel unpleasantly ignoble and
insignificant. That was his real reason for avoiding the city.

Now he passed between unlighted and silent palaces, walking in
deserted streets where the moon made ominous shadows. Here was the
house of Ajax Telamon who reigned in sea-girt Salamis, here that of
god-like Philoctetes: much-counseling Odysseus dwelt just across the
way, and the corner residence was fair-haired Agamemnon's: in the
moonlight Jurgen easily made out these names engraved upon the
bronze shield that hung beside each doorway. To every side of him
slept the heroes of old song while Jurgen skulked under their
windows.

He remembered how incuriously--not even scornfully--these people had
overlooked him on that disastrous afternoon when he had ventured
into Pseudopolis by daylight. And a spiteful little gust of rage
possessed him, and Jurgen shook his fist at the big silent palaces.

"Yah!" he snarled: for he did not know at all what it was that he
desired to say to those great stupid heroes who did not care what he
said, but he knew that he hated them. Then Jurgen became aware of
himself growling there like a kicked cur who is afraid to bite, and
he began to laugh at this Jurgen.

"Your pardon, gentlemen of Greece," says he, with a wide ceremonious
bow, "and I think the information I wished to convey was that I am a
monstrous clever fellow."

Jurgen went into the largest palace, and crept stealthily by the
bedroom of Achilles, King of Men, treading a-tip-toe; and so came at
last into a little room panelled with cedar-wood where slept Queen
Helen. She was smiling in her sleep when he had lighted his lamp,
with due observance of the gray magic. She was infinitely beautiful,
this young Dorothy whom people hereabouts through some odd error
called Helen.

For Jurgen saw very well that this was Count Emmerick's sister
Dorothy la Desiree, whom Jurgen had vainly loved in the days when
Jurgen was young alike in body and heart. Just once he had won back
to her, in the garden between dawn and sunrise: but he was then a
time-battered burgher whom Dorothy did not recognise. Now he
returned to her a king, less admirable it might be than some of the
many other kings without realms who slept now in Pseudopolis, but
still very fine in his borrowed youth, and above all, armored by a
gray magic: so that improbabilities were possible. And Jurgen's eyes
were furtive, and he passed his tongue across his upper lip from one
corner to the other, and his hand went out toward the robe of
violet-colored wool which covered the sleeping girl, for he stood
ready to awaken Dorothy la Desiree in the way he often awoke
Chloris.

But a queer thought held him. Nothing, he recollected, had shown the
power to hurt him very deeply since he had lost this young Dorothy.
And to affairs which threatened to result unpleasantly, he had
always managed to impart an agreeable turn, since then, by virtue of
preserving a cool heart. What if by some misfortune he were to get
back his real youth? and were to become again the flustered boy who
blundered from stammering rapture to wild misery, and back again, at
the least word or gesture of a gold-haired girl?

"Thank you, no!" says Jurgen. "The boy was more admirable than I,
who am by way of being not wholly admirable. But then he had a
wretched time of it, by and large. Thus it may be that my real youth
lies sleeping here: and for no consideration would I re-awaken it."

And yet tears came into his eyes, for no reason at all. And it
seemed to him that the sleeping woman, here at his disposal, was not
the young Dorothy whom he had seen in the garden between dawn and
sunrise, although the two were curiously alike; and that of the two
this woman here was, somehow, infinitely the lovelier.

"Lady, if you indeed be the Swan's daughter, long and long ago there
was a child that was ill. And his illness turned to a fever, and in
his fever he arose from his bed one night, saying that he must set
out for Troy, because of his love for Queen Helen. I was once that
child. I remember how strange it seemed to me I should be talking
such nonsense: I remember how the warm room smelt of drugs: and I
remember how I pitied the trouble in my nurse's face, drawn and old
in the yellow lamplight. For she loved me, and she did not
understand: and she pleaded with me to be a good boy and not to
worry my sleeping parents. But I perceive now that I was not talking
nonsense."

He paused, considering the riddle: and his fingers fretted with the
robe of violet-colored wool beneath which lay Queen Helen.  "Yours
is that beauty of which men know by fabulous report alone, and which
they may not ever find, nor ever win to, quite. And for that beauty
I have hungered always, even in childhood. Toward that beauty I have
struggled always, but not quite whole-heartedly. That night forecast
my life. I have hungered for you: and"--Jurgen smiled here--"and I
have always stayed a passably good boy, lest I should beyond reason
disturb my family. For to do that, I thought, would not be fair: and
still I believe for me to have done that would have been unfair."

He grimaced at this point: for Jurgen was finding his scruples
inconveniently numerous.

"And now I think that what I do to-night is not quite fair to Chloris.
And I do not know what thing it is that I desire, and the will of
Jurgen is a feather in the wind. But I know that I would like to love
somebody as Chloris loves me, and as so many women have loved me. And
I know that it is you who have prevented this, Queen Helen, at every
moment of my life since the disastrous moment when I first seemed to
find your loveliness in the face of Madame Dorothy. It is the memory
of your beauty, as I then saw it mirrored in the face of a jill-flirt,
which has enfeebled me for such honest love as other men give women:
and I envy these other men. For Jurgen has loved nothing--not even you,
not even Jurgen!--quite whole-heartedly. Well, what if I took vengeance
now upon this thieving comeliness, upon this robber that strips life of
joy and sorrow?"

Jurgen stood at Queen Helen's bedside, watching her, for a long
while. He had shifted into a less fanciful mood: and the shadow that
followed him was ugly and hulking and wavering upon the cedarn wall
of Queen Helen's sleeping-chamber.

"Mine is a magic which does not fail," old Phobetor had said, while
his attendants raised his eyelids so that he could see King Jurgen.

Now Jurgen remembered this. And reflectively he drew back the robe
of violet-colored wool, a little way. The breast of Queen Helen lay
bare. And she did not move at all, but she smiled in her sleep.

Never had Jurgen imagined that any woman could be so beautiful nor
so desirable as this woman, or that he could ever know such rapture.
So Jurgen paused.

"Because," said Jurgen now, "it may be this woman has some fault: it
may be there is some fleck in her beauty somewhere. And sooner than
know that, I would prefer to retain my unreasonable dreams, and this
longing which is unfed and hopeless, and the memory of to-night.
Besides, if she were perfect in everything, how could I live any
longer, who would have no more to desire? No, I would be betraying
my own interests, either way; and injustice is always despicable."

So Jurgen sighed and gently replaced the robe of violet-colored
wool, and he returned to his Hamadryad.

"And now that I think of it, too," reflected Jurgen, "I am behaving
rather nobly. Yes, it is questionless that I have to-night evinced a
certain delicacy of feeling which merits appreciation, at all events
by King Achilles."




31.

The Fall of Pseudopolis


So Jurgen abode in Leuke, and complied with the customs of that
country; and what with one thing and another, he and Chloris made
the time pass pleasantly enough, until the winter solstice was at
hand. Now Pseudopolis, as has been said, was at war with Philistia:
so it befell that at this season Leuke was invaded by an army of
Philistines, led by their Queen Dolores, a woman who was wise but
not entirely reliable. They came from the coast, a terrible army
insanely clad in such garments as had been commanded by Ageus, a god
of theirs; and chaunting psalms in honor of their god Vel-Tyno, who
had inspired this crusade: thus they swept down upon Pseudopolis,
and encamped before the city.

These Philistines fought in this campaign by casting before them a
more horrible form of Greek fire, which consumed whatever was not
gray-colored. For that color alone was now favored by their god
Vel-Tyno. "And all other colors," his oracles had decreed, "are
forevermore abominable, until I say otherwise."

So the forces of Philistia were marshalled in the plain before
Pseudopolis, and Queen Dolores spoke to her troops. And smilingly
she said:--

"Whenever you come to blows with the enemy he will be beaten. No
mercy will be shown, no prisoners taken. As the Philistines under
Libnah and Goliath and Gershon, and a many other tall captains, made
for themselves a name which is still mighty in traditions and
legend, even thus to-day may the name of Realist be so fixed in
Pseudopolis, by your deeds to-day, that no one shall ever dare again
even to look askance at a Philistine. Open the door for Realism,
once for all!"

Meanwhile within the city Achilles, King of Men, addressed his
army:--

"The eyes of all the world will be upon you, because you are in some
especial sense the soldiers of Romance. Let it be your pride,
therefore, to show all men everywhere, not only what good soldiers
you are, but also what good men you are, keeping yourselves fit and
straight in everything, and pure and clean through and through. Let
us set ourselves a standard so high that it will be a glory to live
up to it, and then let us live up to it, and add a new laurel to the
crown of Pseudopolis. May the Gods of Old keep you and guide you!"

Then said Thersites, in his beard: "Certainly Pelides has learned
from history with what weapon a strong man discomfits the
Philistines."

But the other kings applauded, and the trumpet was sounded, and the
battle was joined. And that day the forces of Philistia were
everywhere triumphant. But they report a queer thing happened: and
it was that when the Philistines shouted in their triumph, Achilles
and all they who served him rose from the ground like gleaming
clouds and passed above the heads of the Philistines, deriding them.

Thus was Pseudopolis left empty, so that the Philistines entered
thereinto without any opposition. They defiled this city of
blasphemous colors, then burned it as a sacrifice to their god
Vel-Tyno, because the color of ashes is gray.

Then the Philistines erected lithoi (which were not unlike may-poles),
and began to celebrate their religious rites.

       *       *       *       *       *

So it was reported: but Jurgen witnessed none of these events.

"Let them fight it out," said Jurgen: "it is not my affair. I agree
with Silenus: dullness will conquer dullness, and it will not
matter. But do you, woman dear, take shelter with your kindred in
the unconquerable Woods, for there is no telling what damage the
Philistines may do hereabouts."

"Will you go with me, Jurgen?"

"My dear, you know very well that it is impossible for me ever again
to go into the Woods, after the trick I played upon Phobetor."

"And if only you had kept your head about that bean-pole of a Helen,
in her yellow wig--for I have not a doubt that every strand of it is
false, and at all events this is not a time to be arguing about it,
Jurgen,--why, then you would never have meddled with Uncle Phobetor!
It simply shows you!"

"Yes," said Jurgen.

"Still, I do not know. If you come with me into the Woods, Uncle
Phobetor in his impetuous way will quite certainly turn you into a
boar-pig, because he has always done that to the people who
irritated him--"

"I seem to recognise that reason."

"--But give me time, and I can get around Uncle Phobetor, just as I
have always done, and he will turn you back."

"No," says Jurgen, obstinately, "I do not wish to be turned into a
boar-pig."

"Now, Jurgen, let us be sensible about this! Of course, it is a
little humiliating. But I will take the very best of care of you,
and feed you with my own acorns, and it will be a purely temporary
arrangement. And to be a pig for a week or two, or even for a month,
is infinitely better for a poet than being captured by the
Philistines."

"How do I know that?" says Jurgen.

"--For it is not, after all, as if Uncle Phobetor's heart were not
in the right place. It is just his way. And besides, you must
remember what you did with that gimlet!"

Said Jurgen: "All this is hardly to the purpose. You forget I have
seen the hapless swine of Phobetor, and I know how he ameliorates
the natural ferocity of his boar-pigs. No, I am Jurgen. So I remain.
I will face the Philistines and whatever they may possibly do to me,
rather than suffer that which Phobetor will quite certainly do to
me."

"Then I stay too," said Chloris.

"No, woman dear--!"

"But do you not understand?" says Chloris, a little pale, as he saw
now. "Since the life of a hamadryad is linked with the life of her
tree, nobody can harm me so long as my tree lives: and if they cut
down my tree I shall die, wherever I may happen to be."

"I had forgotten that." He was really troubled now.

"--And you can see for yourself, Jurgen, it is quite out of the
question for me to be carrying that great oak anywhere, and I wonder
at your talking such nonsense."

"Indeed, my dear," says Jurgen, "we are very neatly trapped. Well,
nobody can live longer in peace than his neighbor chooses.
Nevertheless, it is not fair."

As he spoke the Philistines came forth from the burning city. Again
the trumpet sounded, and the Philistines advanced in their order of
battle.




32.

Sundry Devices of the Philistines


Meanwhile the People of the Field had watched Pseudopolis burn, and
had wondered what would befall them. They had not long to wonder,
for next day the Fields were occupied, without any resistance by the
inhabitants.

"The People of the Field," said they, "have never fought, and for
them to begin now would be a very unheard-of thing indeed."

So the Fields were captured by the Philistines, and Chloris and
Jurgen and all the People of the Field were judged summarily. They
were declared to be obsolete illusions, whose merited doom was to be
relegated to limbo. To Jurgen this appeared unreasonable.

"For I am no illusion," he asserted. "I am manifestly flesh and
blood, and in addition, I am the high King of Eubonia, and no less.
Why, in disputing these facts you contest circumstances that are so
well known hereabouts as to rank among mathematical certainties. And
that makes you look foolish, as I tell you for your own good."

This vexed the leaders of the Philistines, as it always vexes people
to be told anything for their own good. "We would have you know,"
said they, "that we are not mathematicians; and that moreover, we
have no kings in Philistia, where all must do what seems to be
expected of them, and have no other law."

"How then can you be the leaders of Philistia?"

"Why, it is expected that women and priests should behave
unaccountably. Therefore all we who are women or priests do what we
will in Philistia, and the men there obey us. And it is we, the
priests of Philistia, who do not think you can possibly have any
flesh and blood under a shirt which we recognize to be a
conventional figure of speech. It does not stand to reason. And
certainly you could not ever prove such a thing by mathematics; and
to say so is nonsense."

"But I can prove it by mathematics, quite irrefutably. I can prove
anything you require of me by whatever means you may prefer," said
Jurgen, modestly, "for the simple reason that I am a monstrous
clever fellow."

Then spoke the wise Queen Dolores, saying: "I have studied
mathematics. I will question this young man, in my tent to-night,
and in the morning I will report the truth as to his claims. Are you
content to endure this interrogatory, my spruce young fellow who
wear the shirt of a king?"

Jurgen looked full upon her: she was lovely as a hawk is lovely: and
of all that Jurgen saw Jurgen approved. He assumed the rest to be in
keeping: and deduced that Dolores was a fine woman.

"Madame and Queen," said Jurgen, "I am content. And I can promise to
deal fairly with you."

So that evening Jurgen was conducted into the purple tent of Queen
Dolores of Philistia. It was quite dark there, and Jurgen went in
alone, and wondering what would happen next: but this scented
darkness he found of excellent augury, if only because it prevented
his shadow from following him.

"Now, you who claim to be flesh and blood, and King of Eubonia,
too," says the voice of Queen Dolores, "what is this nonsense you
were talking about proving any such claims by mathematics?"

"Well, but my mathematics," replied Jurgen, "are Praxagorean."

"What, do you mean Praxagoras of Cos?"

"As if," scoffed Jurgen, "anybody had ever heard of any other
Praxagoras!"

"But he, as I recall, belonged to the medical school of the
Dogmatici," observed the wise Queen Dolores, "and was particularly
celebrated for his researches in anatomy. Was he, then, also a
mathematician?"

"The two are not incongruous, madame, as I would be delighted to
demonstrate."

"Oh, nobody said that! For, indeed, it does seem to me I have heard
of this Praxagorean system of mathematics, though, I confess, I have
never studied it."

"Our school, madame, postulates, first of all, that since the
science of mathematics is an abstract science, it is best inculcated
by some concrete example."

Said the Queen: "But that sounds rather complicated."

"It occasionally leads to complications," Jurgen admitted, "through
a choice of the wrong example. But the axiom is no less true."

"Come, then, and sit next to me on this couch if you can find it in
the dark; and do you explain to me what you mean."

"Why, madame, by a concrete example I mean one that is perceptible
to any of the senses--as to sight or hearing, or touch--"

"Oh, oh!" said the Queen, "now I perceive what you mean by a
concrete example. And grasping this, I can understand that
complications must of course arise from a choice of the wrong
example."

"Well, then, madame, it is first necessary to implant in you, by the
force of example, a lively sense of the peculiar character, and
virtues and properties, of each of the numbers upon which is based
the whole science of Praxagorean mathematics. For in order to
convince you thoroughly, we must start far down, at the beginning of
all things."

"I see," said the Queen, "or rather, in this darkness I cannot see
at all, but I perceive your point. Your opening interests me: and
you may go on."

"Now ONE, or the monad," says Jurgen, "is the principle and the end
of all: it reveals the sublime knot which binds together the chain
of causes: it is the symbol of identity, of equality, of existence,
of conservation, and of general harmony." And Jurgen emphasized
these characteristics vigorously. "In brief, ONE is a symbol of the
union of things: it introduces that generating virtue which is the
cause of all combinations: and consequently ONE is a good
principle."

"Ah, ah!" said Queen Dolores, "I heartily admire a good principle.
But what has become of your concrete example?"

"It is ready for you, madame: there is but ONE Jurgen."

"Oh, I assure you, I am not yet convinced of that. Still, the
audacity of your example will help me to remember ONE, whether or
not you prove to be really unique."

"Now, TWO, or the dyad, the origin of contrasts--"

Jurgen went on penetratingly to demonstrate that TWO was a symbol of
diversity and of restlessness and of disorder, ending in collapse
and separation: and was accordingly an evil principle. Thus was the
life of every man made wretched by the struggle between his TWO
components, his soul and his body; and thus was the rapture of
expectant parents considerably abated by the advent of TWINS.

THREE, or the triad, however, since everything was composed of three
substances, contained the most sublime mysteries, which Jurgen duly
communicated. We must remember, he pointed out, that Zeus carried a
TRIPLE thunderbolt, and Poseidon a TRIDENT, whereas Ades was guarded
by a dog with THREE heads: this in addition to the omnipotent
brothers themselves being a TRIO.

Thus Jurgen continued to impart the Praxagorean significance of each
digit separately: and by and by the Queen was declaring his flow of
wisdom was superhuman.

"Ah, but, madame, not even the wisdom of a king is without limit.
EIGHT, I repeat, then, is appropriately the number of the
Beatitudes. And NINE, or the ennead, also, being the multiple of
THREE, should be regarded as sacred--"

The Queen attended docilely to his demonstration of the peculiar
properties of NINE. And when he had ended she confessed that beyond
doubt NINE should be regarded as miraculous. But she repudiated his
analogues as to the muses, the lives of a cat, and how many tailors
made a man.

"Rather, I shall remember always," she declared, "that King Jurgen
of Eubonia is a NINE days' wonder."

"Well, madame," said Jurgen, with a sigh, "now that we have reached
NINE, I regret to say we have exhausted the digits."

"Oh, what a pity!" cried Queen Dolores. "Nevertheless, I will
concede the only illustration I disputed; there is but ONE Jurgen:
and certainly this Praxagorean system of mathematics is a
fascinating study." And promptly she commenced to plan Jurgen's
return with her into Philistia, so that she might perfect herself in
the higher branches of mathematics. "For you must teach me calculus
and geometry and all other sciences in which these digits are
employed. We can arrange some compromise with the priests. That is
always possible with the priests of Philistia, and indeed the
priests of Sesphra can be made to help anybody in anything. And as
for your Hamadryad, I will attend to her myself."

"But, no," says Jurgen, "I am ready enough in all conscience to
compromise elsewhere: but to compound with the forces of Philistia
is the one thing I cannot do."

"Do you mean that, King Jurgen?" The Queen was astounded.

"I mean it, my dear, as I mean nothing else. You are in many ways an
admirable people, and you are in all ways a formidable people. So I
admire, I dread, I avoid, and at the very last pinch I defy. For you
are not my people, and willy-nilly my gorge rises against your laws,
as equally insane and abhorrent. Mind you, though, I assert nothing.
You may be right in attributing wisdom to these laws; and certainly
I cannot go so far as to say you are wrong: but still, at the same
time--! That is the way I feel about it. So I, who compromise with
everything else, can make no compromise with Philistia. No, my
adored Dolores, it is not a virtue, rather it is an instinct with
me, and I have no choice."

Even Dolores, who was Queen of all the Philistines, could perceive
that this man spoke truthfully.  "I am sorry," says she, with real
regret, "for you could be much run after in Philistia."

"Yes," said Jurgen, "as an instructor in mathematics."

"But, no, King Jurgen, not only in mathematics," said Dolores,
reasonably. "There is poetry, for instance! For they tell me you are
a poet, and a great many of my people take poetry quite seriously, I
believe. Of course, I do not have much time for reading, myself. So
you can be the Poet Laureate of Philistia, on any salary you like.
And you can teach us all your ideas by writing beautiful poems about
them. And you and I can be very happy together."

"Teach, teach! there speaks Philistia, and very temptingly, too,
through an adorable mouth, that would bribe me with praise and fine
food and soft days forever. It is a thing that happens rather often,
though. And I can but repeat that art is not a branch of pedagogy!"

"Really I am heartily sorry. For apart from mathematics, I like you,
King Jurgen, just as a person."

"I, too, am sorry, Dolores. For I confess to a weakness for the
women of Philistia."

"Certainly you have given me no cause to suspect you of any weakness
in that quarter," observed Dolores, "in the long while you have been
alone with me, and have talked so wisely and have reasoned so
deeply. I am afraid that after to-night I shall find all other men
more or less superficial. Heigho! and I shall probably weep my eyes
out to-morrow when you are relegated to limbo. For that is what the
priests will do with you, King Jurgen, on one plea or another, if
you do not conform to the laws of Philistia."

"And that one compromise I cannot make! Ah, but even now I have a
plan wherewith to escape your priests: and failing that, I possess a
cantrap to fall back upon in my hour of direst need. My private
affairs are thus not yet in a hopeless or even in a dejected
condition. This fact now urges me to observe that TEN, or the
decade, is the measure of all, since it contains all the numeric
relations and harmonies--"

So they continued their study of mathematics until it was time for
Jurgen to appear again before his judges.

And in the morning Queen Dolores sent word to her priests that she
was too sleepy to attend their council, but that the man was
indisputably flesh and blood, amply deserved to be a king, and as a
mathematician had not his peer.

Now these points being settled, the judges conferred, and Jurgen was
decreed a backslider into the ways of undesirable error. His judges
were the priests of Vel-Tyno and Sesphra and Ageus, who are the Gods
of Philistia.

Then the priest of Ageus put on his spectacles and consulted the
canonical law, and declared that this change in the indictment
necessitated a severance of Jurgen from the others, in the
infliction of punishment.

"For each, of course, must be relegated to the limbo of his fathers,
as was foretold, in order that the prophecies may be fulfilled.
Religion languishes when prophecies are not fulfilled. Now it
appears that the forefathers of the flesh and blood prisoner were of
a different faith from the progenitors of these obsolete illusions,
and that his fathers foretold quite different things, and that their
limbo was called Hell."

"It is little you know," says Jurgen, "of the religion of Eubonia."

"We have it written down in this great book," the priest of Vel-Tyno
then told him,--"every word of it without blot or error."

"Then you will see that the King of Eubonia is the head of the
church there, and changes all the prophecies at will. Learned
Gowlais says so directly: and the judicious Stevegonius was forced
to agree with him, however unwillingly, as you will instantly
discover by consulting the third section of his widely famous
nineteenth chapter."

"Both Gowlais and Stevegonius were probably notorious heretics,"
says the priest of Ageus. "I believe that was settled once for all
at the Diet of Orthumar."

"Eh!" says Jurgen. He did not like this priest. "Now I will wager,
sirs," Jurgen continued, a trifle patronizingly, "that you gentlemen
have not read Gowlais, or even Stevegonius, in the light of
Vossler's commentaries. And that is why you underrate them."

"I at least have read every word that was ever written by any of
these three," replied the priest of Sesphra--"and with, as I need
hardly say, the liveliest abhorrence. And this Gowlais in
particular, as I hasten to agree with my learned confrere, is a most
notorious heretic--"

"Oh, sir," said Jurgen, horrified, "whatever are you telling me
about Gowlais!"

"I tell you that I have been roused to indignation by his
_Historia de Bello Veneris_--"

"You surprise me: still--"

"--Shocked by his _Pornoboscodidascolo_--"

"I can hardly believe it: even so, you must grant--"

"--And horrified by his _Liber de immortalitate Mentulae_--"

"Well, conceding you that earlier work, sir, yet, at the same
time--"

"--And have been disgusted by his _De modo coeundi_--"

"Ah, but, none the less--"

"--And have shuddered over the unspeakable enormities of
his _Erotopaegnion!_ of his _Cinaedica!_ and especially of his
_Epipedesis_, that most pestilential and abominable book,
_quem sine horrore nemo potest legere_--"

"Still, you cannot deny--"

"--And have read also all the confutations of this detestable
Gowlais: as those of Zanchius, Faventinus, Lelius Vincentius,
Lagalla, Thomas Giaminus, and eight other admirable commentators--"

"You are very exact, sir: but--"

"--And that, in short, I have read every book you can imagine," says
the priest of Sesphra.

The shoulders of Jurgen rose to his ears, and Jurgen silently flung
out his hands, palms upward.

"For, I perceive," says Jurgen, to himself, "that this Realist is
too circumstantial for me. None the less, he invents his facts: it
is by citing books which never existed that he publicly confutes the
Gowlais whom I invented privately: and that is not fair. Now there
remains only one chance for Jurgen; but luckily that chance is
sure."

"Why are you fumbling in your pocket?" asks the old priest of Ageus,
fidgeting and peering.

"Aha, you may well ask!" cried Jurgen. He unfolded the cantrap which
had been given him by the Master Philologist, and which Jurgen had
treasured against the time when more was needed than a glib tongue.
"O most unrighteous judges," says Jurgen, sternly, "now hear and
tremble! 'At the death of Adrian the Fifth, Pedro Juliani, who
should be named John the Twentieth, was through an error in the
reckoning elevated to the papal chair as John the Twenty-first!'"

"Hah, and what have we to do with that?" inquired the priest of
Vel-Tyno, with raised eyebrows. "Why are you telling us of these
irrelevant matters?"

"Because I thought it would interest you," said Jurgen. "It was a
fact that appeared to me rather amusing. So I thought I would
mention it."

"Then you have very queer ideas of amusement," they told him. And
Jurgen perceived that either he had not employed his cantrap
correctly or else that its magic was unappreciated by the leaders of
Philistia.




33.

Farewell to Chloris


Now the Philistines led out their prisoners, and made ready to
inflict the doom which was decreed. And they permitted the young
King of Eubonia to speak with Chloris.

"Farewell to you now, Jurgen!" says Chloris, weeping softly. "It is
little I care what foolish words these priests of Philistia may
utter against me. But the big-armed axemen are felling my tree
yonder, to get them timber to make a bedstead for the Queen of
Philistia: for that is what this Queen Dolores ordered them to do
the first thing this morning."

And Jurgen raised his hands. "You women!" he said. "What man would
ever have thought of that?"

"So when my tree is felled I must depart into a sombre land wherein
there is no laughter at all; and where the puzzled dead go wandering
futilely through fields of scentless asphodel, and through tall
sullen groves of myrtle,--the puzzled quiet dead, who may not even
weep as I do now, but can only wonder what it is that they regret.
And I too must taste of Lethe, and forget all I have loved."

"You should give thanks to the imagination of your forefathers, my
dear, that your doom is no worse. For I am going into a more
barbaric limbo, into the Hell of a people who thought entirely too
much about flames and pitchforks," says Jurgen, ruefully. "I tell
you it is the deuce and all, to come of morbid ancestry." And he
kissed Chloris, upon the brow. "My dear, dear girl," he said, with a
gulp, "as long as you remember me, do so with charity."

"Jurgen"--and she clung close to him--"you were not ever unkind, not
even for a moment. Jurgen, you have not ever spoken one harsh word
to me or any other person, in all the while we were together. O
Jurgen, whom I have loved as you could love nobody, it was not much
those other women had left me to worship!"

"Indeed, it is a pity that you loved me, Chloris, for I was not
worthy." And for the instant Jurgen meant it.

"If any other person said that, Jurgen, I would be very angry. And even
to hear you say it troubles me, because there was never a hamadryad
between two hills that had a husband one-half so clever-foolish as he
made light of time and chance, with his sleek black head cocked to one
side, and his mischievous brown eyes a-twinkle."

And Jurgen wondered that this should be the notion Chloris had of
him, and that a gesture should be the things she remembered about
him: and he was doubly assured that no woman bothers to understand
the man she elects to love and cosset and slave for.

"O woman dear," says Jurgen, "but I have loved you, and my heart is
water now that you are taken from me: and to remember your ways and
the joy I had in them will be a big and grinding sorrow in the long
time to come. Oh, not with any heroic love have I loved you, nor
with any madness and high dreams, nor with much talking either; but
with a love befitting my condition, with a quiet and cordial love."

"And must you be trying, while I die, to get your grieving for me
into the right words?" she asks him, smiling very sadly. "No matter:
you are Jurgen, and I have loved you. And I am glad that I shall
know nothing about it when in the long time, to come you will be
telling so many other women about what was said by Zorobasius and
Ptolemopiter, and when you will be posturing and romancing for their
delight. For presently I shall have tasted Lethe: and presently I
shall have forgotten you, King Jurgen, and all the joy I had in you,
and all the pride, and all the love I had for you, King Jurgen, who
loved me as much as you were able."

"Why, and will there be any love-making, do you think, in Hell?" he
asks her, with a doleful smile.

"There will be love-making," she replied, "wherever you go, King
Jurgen. And there will be women to listen. And at the last there
will be a bean-pole of a woman, in a wig."

"I am sorry--" he said. "And yet I have loved you, Chloris."

"That is my comfort now. And presently there will be Lethe. I put
the greater faith in Lethe. And still, I cannot help but love you,
Jurgen, in whom I have no faith at all."

He said, again: "I am not worthy."

They kissed. Then each of them was conveyed to an appropriate doom.

And tears were in the eyes of Jurgen, who was not used to weep: and
he thought not at all of what was to befall him, but only of this
and that small trivial thing which would have pleased his Chloris
had Jurgen done it, and which for one reason or another Jurgen had
left undone.

"I was not ever unkind to her, says she! ah, but I might have been
so much kinder. And now I shall not ever see her any more, nor ever
any more may I awaken delight and admiration in those bright tender
eyes which saw no fault in me! Well, but it is a comfort surely that
she does not know how I devoted the last night she was to live to
teaching mathematics."

And then Jurgen wondered how he would be despatched into the Hell of
his fathers? And when the Philistines showed him in what manner they
proposed to inflict their sentence he wondered at his own
obtuseness.

"For I might have surmised this would be the way of it," said
Jurgen. "And yet as always there is a simplicity in the methods of
the Philistines which is unimaginable by really clever fellows. And
as always, too, these methods are unfair to us clever fellows. Well,
I am willing to taste any drink once: but this is a very horrible
device, none the less; and I wonder if I have the pluck to endure
it?"

Then as he stood considering this matter, a man-at-arms came
hurrying. He brought with him three great rolled parchments, with
seals and ribbons and everything in order: and these were Jurgen's
pardon and Jurgen's nomination as Poet Laureate of Philistia and
Jurgen's appointment as Mathematician Royal.

The man-at-arms brought also a letter from Queen Dolores, and this
Jurgen read with a frown.

"Do you consider now what fun it would be to hood-wink everybody by
pretending to conform to our laws!" said this letter, and it said
nothing more: Dolores was really a wise woman. Yet there was a
postscript. "For we could be so happy!" said the postscript.

And Jurgen looked toward the Woods, where men were sawing up a great
oak-tree. And Jurgen gave a fine laugh, and with fine deliberateness
he tore up the Queen's letter into little strips. Then statelily he
took the parchments, and found they were so tough he could not tear
them. This was uncommonly awkward, for Jurgen's ill-advised attempt
to tear the parchments impaired the dignity of his magnanimous
self-sacrifice: he even suspected one of the guards of smiling. So
there was nothing for it but presently to give up that futile tugging
and jerking, and to compromise by crumpling these parchments.

"This is my answer," said Jurgen heroically, and with some
admiration of himself, but still a little dashed by the uncalled-for
toughness of the parchments.

Then Jurgen cried farewell to fallen Leuke; and scornfully he cried
farewell to the Philistines and to their devices. Then he submitted
to their devices. Thus, it was without making any special protest
about it that Jurgen was relegated to limbo, and was despatched to
the Hell of his fathers, two days before Christmas.




34.

How Emperor Jurgen Fared Infernally


Now the tale tells how the devils of Hell were in one of their churches
celebrating Christmas in such manner as the devils observe that day;
and how Jurgen came through the trapdoor in the vestry-room; and how
he saw and wondered over the creatures which inhabited this place. For
to him after the Christmas services came all such devils as his fathers
had foretold, and in not a hair or scale or talon did they differ from
the worst that anybody had been able to imagine.

"Anatomy is hereabouts even more inconsequent than in Cocaigne," was
Jurgen's first reflection. But the first thing the devils did was to
search Jurgen very carefully, in order to make sure he was not
bringing any water into Hell.

"Now, who may you be, that come to us alive, in a fine shirt of
which we never saw the like before?" asked Dithican. He had the head
of a tiger, but otherwise the appearance of a large bird, with
shining feathers and four feet: his neck was yellow, his body green,
and his feet black.

"It would not be treating honestly with you to deny that I am the
Emperor of Noumaria," said Jurgen, somewhat advancing his estate.

Now spoke Amaimon, in the form of a thick suet-colored worm going
upright upon his tail, which shone like the tail of a glowworm. He
had no feet, but under his chops were two short hands, and upon his
back were bristles such as grow upon hedgehogs.

"But we are rather overrun with emperors," said Amaimon, doubtfully,
"and their crimes are a great trouble to us. Were you a very wicked
ruler?"

"Never since I became an emperor," replied Jurgen, "has any of my
subjects uttered one word of complaint against me. So it stands to
reason I have nothing very serious with which to reproach myself."

"Your conscience, then, does not demand that you be punished?"

"My conscience, gentlemen, is too well-bred to insist on anything."

"You do not even wish to be tortured?"

"Well, I admit I had expected something of the sort. But none the
less, I will not make a point of it," said Jurgen, handsomely. "No,
I shall be quite satisfied even though you do not torture me at
all."

And then the mob of devils made a great to-do over Jurgen.

"For it is exceedingly good to have at least one unpretentious and
undictatorial human being in Hell. Nobody as a rule drops in on us
save inordinately proud and conscientious ghosts, whose self-conceit
is intolerable, and whose demands are outrageous."

"How can that be?"

"Why, we have to punish them. Of course they are not properly
punished until they are convinced that what is happening to them is
just and adequate. And you have no notion what elaborate tortures
they insist their exceeding wickedness has merited, as though that
which they did or left undone could possibly matter to anybody. And
to contrive these torments quite tires us out."

"But wherefore is this place called the Hell of my fathers?"

"Because your forefathers builded it in dreams," they told him, "out
of the pride which led them to believe that what they did was of
sufficient importance to merit punishment. Or so at least we have
heard: but if you want the truth of the matter you must go to our
Grandfather at Barathum."

"I shall go to him, then. And do my own grandfathers, and all the
forefathers that I had in the old time, inhabit this gray place?"

"All such as are born with what they call a conscience come hither,"
the devils said. "Do you think you could persuade them to go
elsewhere? For in that event, we would be deeply obliged to you.
Their self-conceit is pitiful: but it is also a nuisance, because it
prevents our getting any rest."

"Perhaps I can help you to obtain justice, and certainly to attempt
to secure justice for you is my imperial duty. But who governs this
country?"

They told him how Hell was divided into principalities that had for
governors Lucifer and Beelzebub and Belial and Ascheroth and
Phlegeton: but that over all these was Grandfather Satan, who lived
in the Black House at Barathum.

"Well, I prefer," says Jurgen, "to deal directly with your
principal, especially if he can explain the polity of this insane
and murky country. Do some of you conduct me to him in such state as
becomes an emperor!"

So Cannagosta fetched a wheelbarrow, and Jurgen got into it, and
Cannagosta trundled him away. Cannagosta was something like an ox,
but rather more like a cat, and his hair was curly.

And as they came through Chorasma, a very uncomfortable place where
the damned abide in torment, whom should Jurgen see but his own
father, Coth, the son of Smoit and Steinvor, standing there chewing
his long moustaches in the midst of an especially tall flame.

"Do you stop now for a moment!" says Jurgen, to his escort.

"Oh, but this is the most vexatious person in all Hell!" cried
Cannagosta; "and a person whom there is absolutely no pleasing!"

"Nobody knows that better than I," says Jurgen.

And Jurgen civilly bade his father good-day, but Coth did not
recognize this spruce young Emperor of Noumaria, who went about Hell
in a wheelbarrow.

"You do not know me, then?" says Jurgen.

"How should I know you when I never saw you before?" replied Coth,
irritably.

And Jurgen did not argue the point: for he knew that he and his
father could never agree about anything. So Jurgen kept silent for
that time, and Cannagosta wheeled him through the gray twilight,
descending always deeper and yet deeper into the lowlands of Hell,
until they had come to Barathum.




35.

What Grandfather Satan Reported


Next the tale tells how three inferior devils made a loud music with
bagpipes as Jurgen went into the Black House of Barathum, to talk
with Grandfather Satan.

Satan was like a man of sixty, or it might be sixty-two, in all
things save that he was covered with gray fur, and had horns like
those of a stag. He wore a breech-clout of very dark gray, and he
sat in a chair of black marble, on a dais: his bushy tail, which was
like that of a squirrel, waved restlessly over his head as he looked
at Jurgen, without speaking, and without turning his mind from an
ancient thought. And his eyes were like light shining upon little
pools of ink, for they had no whites to them.

"What is the meaning of this insane country?" says Jurgen, plunging
at the heart of things. "There is no sense in it, and no fairness at
all."

"Ah," replied Satan, in his curious hoarse voice, "you may well say
that: and it is what I was telling my wife only last night."

"You have a wife, then!" says Jurgen, who was always interested in
such matters. "Why, but to be sure! either as a Christian or as a
married man, I should have comprehended this was Satan's due. And
how do you get on with her?"

"Pretty well," says Grandfather Satan: "but she does not understand
me."

"_Et tu, Brute!_" says Jurgen.

"And what does that mean?"

"It is an expression connotating astonishment over an event without
parallel. But everything in Hell seems rather strange, and the place
is not at all as it was rumored to be by the priests and the bishops
and the cardinals that used to be exhorting me in my fine palace at
Breschau."

"And where, did you say, is this palace?"

"In Noumaria, where I am the Emperor Jurgen. And I need not insult
you by explaining Breschau is my capital city, and is noted for
its manufacture of linen and woolen cloth and gloves and cameos
and brandy, though the majority of my subjects are engaged in
cattle-breeding and agricultural pursuits."

"Of course not: for I have studied geography. And, Jurgen, it is
often I have heard of you, though never of your being an emperor."

"Did I not say this place was not in touch with new ideas?"

"Ah, but you must remember that thoughtful persons keep out of Hell.
Besides, the war with Heaven prevents us from thinking of other
matters. In any event, you Emperor Jurgen, by what authority do you
question Satan, in Satan's home?"

"I have heard that word which the ass spoke with the cat," replied
Jurgen; for he recollected upon a sudden what Merlin had shown him.

Grandfather Satan nodded comprehendingly. "All honor be to Set and
Bast! and may their power increase. This, Emperor, is how my kingdom
came about."

Then Satan, sitting erect and bleak in his tall marble chair,
explained how he, and all the domain and all the infernal
hierarchies he ruled, had been created extempore by Koshchei, to
humor the pride of Jurgen's forefathers. "For they were exceedingly
proud of their sins. And Koshchei happened to notice Earth once upon
a time, with your forefathers walking about it exultant in the
enormity of their sins and in the terrible punishments they expected
in requital. Now Koshchei will do almost anything to humor pride,
because to be proud is one of the two things that are impossible to
Koshchei. So he was pleased, oh, very much pleased: and after he had
had his laugh out, he created Hell extempore, and made it just such
a place as your forefathers imagined it ought to be, in order to
humor the pride of your forefathers."

"And why is pride impossible to Koshchei?"

"Because he made things as they are; and day and night he
contemplates things as they are, having nothing else to look at.
How, then, can Koshchei be proud?"

"I see. It is as if I were imprisoned in a cell wherein there was
nothing, absolutely nothing, except my verses. I shudder to think of
it! But what is this other thing which is impossible to Koshchei?"

"I do not know. It is something that does not enter into Hell."

"Well, I wish I too had never entered here, and now you must assist
me to get out of this murky place."

"And why must I assist you?"

"Because," said Jurgen, and he drew out the cantrap of the Master
Philologist, "because at the death of Adrian the Fifth, Pedro
Juliani, who should be named John the Twentieth, was through an
error in the reckoning elevated to the papal chair as John the
Twenty-first. Do you not find my reason sufficient?"

"No," said Grandfather Satan, after thinking it over, "I cannot say
that I do. But, then, popes go to Heaven. It is considered to look
better, all around, and particularly by my countrymen, inasmuch as
many popes have been suspected of pro-Celestialism. So we admit none
of them into Hell, in order to be on the safe side, now that we are
at war. In consequence, I am no judge of popes and their affairs,
nor do I pretend to be."

And Jurgen perceived that again he had employed his cantrap
incorrectly or else that it was impotent to rescue people from
Satan. "But who would have thought," he reflected, "that Grandfather
Satan was such a simple old creature!"

"How long, then, must I remain here?" asks Jurgen, after a dejected
pause.

"I do not know," replies Satan. "It must depend entirely upon what
your father thinks about it--"

"But what has he to do with it?"

"--Since I and all else that is here are your father's absurd
notions, as you have so frequently proved by logic. And it is hardly
possible that such a clever fellow as you can be mistaken."

"Why, of course, that is not possible," says Jurgen. "Well, the
matter is rather complicated. But I am willing to taste any drink
once: and I shall manage to get justice somehow, even in this
unreasonable place where my father's absurd notions are the truth."

So Jurgen left the Black House of Barathum: and Jurgen also left
Grandfather Satan, erect and bleak in his tall marble chair, and
with his eyes gleaming in the dim light, as he sat there restively
swishing his soft bushy tail, and not ever turning his mind from an
ancient thought.




36.

Why Coth was Contradicted


Then Jurgen went back to Chorasma, where Coth, the son of Smoit and
Steinvor, stood conscientiously in the midst of the largest and
hottest flame he had been able to imagine, and rebuked the outworn
devils who were tormenting him, because the tortures they inflicted
were not adequate to the wickedness of Coth.

And Jurgen cried to his father: "The lewd fiend Cannagosta told you
I was the Emperor of Noumaria, and I do not deny it even now. But do
you not perceive I am likewise your son Jurgen?"

"Why, so it is," said Coth, "now that I look at the rascal. And how,
Jurgen, did you become an emperor?"

"Oh, sir, and is this a place wherein to talk about mere earthly
dignities? I am surprised your mind should still run upon these
empty vanities even here in torment."

"But it is inadequate torment, Jurgen, such as does not salve my
conscience. There is no justice in this place, and no way of getting
justice. For these shiftless devils do not take seriously that which
I did, and they merely pretend to punish me, and so my conscience
stays unsatisfied."

"Well, but, father, I have talked with them, and they seem to think
your crimes do not amount to much, after all."

Coth flew into one of his familiar rages. "I would have you know
that I killed eight men in cold blood, and held five other men while
they were being killed. I estimate the sum of such iniquity as ten
and a half murders, and for these my conscience demands that I be
punished."

"Ah, but, sir, that was fifty years or more ago, and these men would
now be dead in any event, so you see it does not matter now."

"I went astray with women, with I do not know how many women."

Jurgen shook his head. "This is very shocking news for a son to
receive, and you can imagine my feelings. None the less, sir, that
also was fifty years ago, and nobody is bothering over it now."

"You jackanapes, I tell you that I swore and stole and forged and
burned four houses and broke the Sabbath and was guilty of mayhem
and spoke disrespectfully to my mother and worshipped a stone image
in Porutsa. I tell you I shattered the whole Decalogue, time and
again. I committed all the crimes that were ever heard of, and
invented six new ones."

"Yes, sir," said Jurgen: "but, still, what does it matter if you
did?"

"Oh, take away this son of mine!" cried Coth: "for he is his mother
all over again; and though I was the vilest sinner that ever lived,
I have not deserved to be plagued twice with such silly questions.
And I demand that you loitering devils bring more fuel."

"Sir," said a panting little fiend, in the form of a tadpole with
hairy arms and legs like a monkey's, as he ran up with four bundles
of faggots, "we are doing the very best we can for your discomfort.
But you damned have no consideration for us, and do not remember
that we are on our feet day and night, waiting upon you," said the
little devil, whimpering, as with his pitchfork he raked up the fire
about Coth. "You do not even remember the upset condition of the
country, on account of the war with Heaven, which makes it so hard
for us to get you all the inconveniences of life. Instead, you
lounge in your flames, and complain about the service, and
Grandfather Satan punishes us, and it is not fair."

"I think, myself," said Jurgen, "you should be gentler with the boy.
And as for your crimes, sir, come, will you not conquer this pride
which you nickname conscience, and concede that after any man has
been dead a little while it does not matter at all what he did? Why,
about Bellegarde no one ever thinks of your throat-cutting and
Sabbath-breaking except when very old people gossip over the fire,
and your wickedness brightens up the evening for them. To the rest
of us you are just a stone in the churchyard which describes you as
a paragon of all the virtues. And outside of Bellegarde, sir, your
name and deeds mean nothing now to anybody, and no one anywhere
remembers you. So really your wickedness is not bothering any person
now save these poor toiling devils: and I think that, in
consequence, you might consent to put up with such torments as they
can conveniently contrive, without complaining so ill-temperedly
about it."

"Ah, but my conscience, Jurgen! that is the point."

"Oh, if you continue to talk about your conscience, sir, you
restrict the conversation to matters I do not understand, and so
cannot discuss. But I dare say we will find occasion to thresh out
this, and all other matters, by and by: and you and I will make the
best of this place, for now I will never leave you."

Coth began to weep: and he said that his sins in the flesh had been
too heinous for this comfort to be permitted him in the unendurable
torment which he had fairly earned, and hoped some day to come by.

"Do you care about me, one way or the other, then?" says Jurgen,
quite astounded.

And from the midst of his flame Coth, the son of Smoit, talked of
the birth of Jurgen, and of the infant that had been Jurgen, and of
the child that had been Jurgen. And a horrible, deep, unreasonable
emotion moved in Jurgen as he listened to the man who had begotten
him, and whose flesh was Jurgen's flesh, and whose thoughts had not
ever been Jurgen's thoughts: and Jurgen did not like it. Then the
voice of Coth was bitterly changed, as he talked of the young man
that had been Jurgen, of the young man who was idle and rebellious
and considerate of nothing save his own light desires; and of the
division which had arisen between Jurgen and Jurgen's father Coth
spoke likewise: and Jurgen felt better now, but was still grieved to
know how much his father had once loved him.

"It is lamentably true," says Jurgen, "that I was an idle and
rebellious son. So I did not follow your teachings. I went astray,
oh, very terribly astray. I even went astray, sir I must tell you,
with a nature myth connected with the Moon."

"Oh, hideous abomination of the heathen!"

"And she considered, sir, that thereafter I was likely to become a
solar legend."

"I should not wonder," said Coth, and he shook his bald and dome-shaped
head despondently. "Ah, my son, it simply shows you what comes of these
wild courses."

"And in that event, I would, of course, be released from sojourning
in the underworld by the Spring Equinox. Do you not think so, sir?"
says Jurgen, very coaxingly, because he remembered that, according
to Satan, whatever Coth believed would be the truth in Hell.

"I am sure," said Coth--"why, I am sure I do not know anything about
such matters."

"Yes, but what do you think?"

"I do not think about it at all."

"Yes, but--"

"Jurgen, you have a very uncivil habit of arguing with people--"

"Still, sir--"

"And I have spoken to you about it before--"

"Yet, father--"

"And I do not wish to have to speak to you about it again--"

"None the less, sir--"

"And when I say that I have no opinion--"

"But everybody has an opinion, father!" Jurgen shouted this, and
felt it was quite like old times.

"How dare you speak to me in that tone of voice, sir!"

"But I only meant--"

"Do not lie to me, Jurgen! and stop interrupting me! For, as I was
saying when you began to yell at your father as though you were
addressing an unreasonable person, it is my opinion that I know
nothing whatever about Equinoxes! and do not care to know anything
about Equinoxes, I would have you understand! and that the less said
as to such disreputable topics the better, as I tell you to your
face!"

And Jurgen groaned. "Here is a pretty father! If you had thought so,
it would have happened. But you imagine me in a place like this, and
have not sufficient fairness, far less paternal affection, to
imagine me out of it."

"I can only think of your well merited affliction, you quarrelsome
scoundrel! and of the host of light women with whom you have sinned!
and of the doom which has befallen you in consequence!"

"Well, at worst," says Jurgen, "there are no women here. That ought
to be a comfort to you."

"I think there are women here," snapped his father. "It is reputed
that quite a number of women have had consciences. But these
conscientious women are probably kept separate from us men, in some
other part of Hell, for the reason that if they were admitted into
Chorasma they would attempt to tidy the place and make it habitable.
I know your mother would have been meddling out of hand."

"Oh, sir, and must you still be finding fault with mother?"

"Your mother, Jurgen, was in many ways an admirable woman. But,"
said Coth, "she did not understand me."

"Ah, well, that may have been the trouble. Still, all this you say
about women being here is mere guess-work."

"It is not!" said Coth, "and I want none of your impudence, either.
How many times must I tell you that?"

Jurgen scratched his ear reflectively. For he still remembered what
Grandfather Satan had said, and Coth's irritation seemed promising.
"Well, but the women here are all ugly, I wager."

"They are not!" said his father, angrily. "Why do you keep
contradicting me?"

"Because you do not know what you are talking about," says Jurgen,
egging him on. "How could there be any pretty women in this horrible
place? For the soft flesh would be burned away from their little
bones, and the loveliest of queens would be reduced to a horrid
cinder."

"I think there are any number of vampires and succubi and such
creatures, whom the flames do not injure at all, because these
creatures are informed with an ardor that is unquenchable and is
more hot than fire. And you understand perfectly what I mean, so
there is no need for you to stand there goggling at me like a
horrified abbess!"

"Oh, sir, but you know very well that I would have nothing to do
with such unregenerate persons."

"I do not know anything of the sort. You are probably lying to me.
You always lied to me. I think you are on your way to meet a vampire
now."

"What, sir, a hideous creature with fangs and leathery wings!"

"No, but a very poisonous and seductively beautiful creature."

"Come, now! you do not really think she is beautiful."

"I do think so. How dare you tell me what I think and do not think!"

"Ah, well, I shall have nothing to do with her."

"I think you will," said his father: "ah, but I think you will be up
to your tricks with her before this hour is out. For do I not know
what emperors are? and do I not know you?"

And Coth fell to talking of Jurgen's past, in the customary terms of
a family squabble, such as are not very nicely repeatable elsewhere.
And the fiends who had been tormenting Coth withdrew in
embarrassment, and so long as Coth continued talking they kept out
of earshot.




37.

Invention of the Lovely Vampire


So again Coth parted with his son in anger, and Jurgen returned
again toward Barathum; and, whether or not it was a coincidence,
Jurgen met precisely the vampire of whom he had inveigled his father
into thinking. She was the most seductively beautiful creature that
it would be possible for Jurgen's father or any other man to
imagine: and her clothes were orange-colored, for a reason
sufficiently well known in Hell, and were embroidered everywhere
with green fig-leaves.

"A good morning to you, madame," says Jurgen, "and whither are you
going?"

"Why, to no place at all, good youth. For this is my vacation,
granted yearly by the Law of Kalki--"

"And who is Kalki, madame?"

"Nobody as yet: but he will come as a stallion. Meanwhile his Law
precedes him, so that I am spending my vacation peacefully in Hell,
with none of my ordinary annoyances to bother me."

"And what, madame, can they be?"

"Why, you must understand that it is little rest a vampire gets on
earth, with so many fine young fellows like yourself going about
everywhere eager to be destroyed."

"But how, madame, did you happen to become a vampire if the life
does not please you? And what is it that they call you?"

"My name, sir," replied the Vampire, sorrowfully, "is Florimel,
because my nature no less than my person was as beautiful as the
flowers of the field and as sweet as the honey which the bees (who
furnish us with such admirable examples of industry) get out of
these flowers. But a sad misfortune changed all this. For I chanced
one day to fall ill and die (which, of course, might happen to
anyone), and as my funeral was leaving the house the cat jumped over
my coffin. That was a terrible misfortune to befall a poor dead girl
so generally respected, and in wide demand as a seamstress; though,
even then, the worst might have been averted had not my sister-in-law
been of what they call a humane disposition and foolishly attached to
the cat. So they did not kill it, and I, of course, became a vampire."

"Yes, I can understand that was inevitable. Still, it seems hardly
fair. I pity you, my dear." And Jurgen sighed.

"I would prefer, sir, that you did not address me thus familiarly,
since you and I have omitted the formality of an introduction; and
in the absence of any joint acquaintances are unlikely ever to meet
properly."

"I have no herald handy, for I travel incognito. However, I am that
Jurgen who recently made himself Emperor of Noumaria, King of
Eubonia, Prince of Cocaigne, and Duke of Logreus; and of whom you
have doubtless heard."

"Why, to be sure!" says she, patting her hair straight. "And who
would have anticipated meeting your highness in such a place!"

"One says 'majesty' to an emperor, my dear. It is a detail, of
course: but in my position one has to be a little exigent."

"I perfectly comprehend, your majesty; and indeed I might have
divined your rank from your lovely clothes. I can but entreat you to
overlook my unintentional breach of etiquette: and I make bold to
add that a kind heart reveals the splendor of its graciousness
through the interest which your majesty has just evinced in my
disastrous history."

"Upon my word," thinks Jurgen, "but in this flow of words I seem to
recognize my father's imagination when in anger."

Then Florimel told Jurgen of her horrible awakening in the grave,
and of what had befallen her hands and feet there, the while that
against her will she fed repugnantly, destroying first her kindred
and then the neighbors. This done, she had arisen.

"For the cattle still lived, and that troubled me. When I had put an
end to this annoyance, I climbed into the church belfry, not alone,
for one went with me of whom I prefer not to talk; and at midnight I
sounded the bell so that all who heard it would sicken and die. And
I wept all the while, because I knew that when everything had been
destroyed which I had known in my first life in the flesh, I would
be compelled to go into new lands, in search of the food which alone
can nourish me, and I was always sincerely attached to my home. So
it was, your majesty, that I forever relinquished my sewing, and
became a lovely peril, a flashing desolation, and an evil which
smites by night, in spite of my abhorrence of irregular hours: and
what I do I dislike extremely, for it is a sad fate to become a
vampire, and still to sympathize with your victims, and particularly
with their poor mothers."

So Jurgen comforted Florimel, and he put his arm around her.

"Come, come!" he said, "but I will see that your vacation passes
pleasantly. And I intend to deal fairly with you, too."

Then he glanced sidewise at his shadow, and whispered a suggestion
which caused Florimel to sigh.  "By the terms of my doom," said she,
"at no time during the nine lives of the cat can I refuse. Still, it
is a comfort you are the Emperor of Noumaria and have a kind heart."

"Oh, and a many other possessions, my dear! and I again assure you
that I intend to deal fairly with you."

So Florimel conducted Jurgen, through the changeless twilight of
Barathum, like that of a gray winter afternoon, to a quiet cleft by
the Sea of Blood, which she had fitted out very cosily in imitation
of her girlhood home; and she lighted a candle, and made him welcome
to her cleft. And when Jurgen was about to enter it he saw that his
shadow was following him into the Vampire's home.

"Let us extinguish this candle!" says Jurgen, "for I have seen so
many flames to-day that my eyes are tired."

So Florimel extinguished the candle, with a good-will that delighted
Jurgen. And now they were in utter darkness, and in the dark nobody
can see what is happening. But that Florimel now trusted Jurgen and
his Noumarian claims was evinced by her very first remark.

"I was in the beginning suspicious of your majesty," said Florimel,
"because I had always heard that every emperor carried a magnificent
sceptre, and you then displayed nothing of the sort. But now,
somehow, I do not doubt you any longer. And of what is your majesty
thinking?"

"Why, I was reflecting, my dear," says Jurgen, "that my father
imagines things very satisfactorily."




38.

As to Applauded Precedents


Afterward Jurgen abode in Hell, and complied with the customs of
that country. And the tale tells that a week or it might be ten days
after his meeting with Florimel, Jurgen married her, without being
at all hindered by his having three other wives. For the devils, he
found, esteemed polygamy, and ranked it above mere skill at
torturing the damned, through a literal interpretation of the saying
that it is better to marry than to burn.

"And formerly," they told Jurgen, "you could hardly come across a
marriage anywhere that was not hallmarked 'made in Heaven': but
since we have been at war with Heaven we have quite taken away that
trade from our enemies. So you may marry here as much as you like."

"Why, then," says Jurgen, "I shall marry in haste, and repeat at
leisure. But can one obtain a divorce here?"

"Oh, no," said they. "We trafficked in them for a while, but we
found that all persons who obtained divorces through our industry
promptly thanked Heaven they were free at last. In the face of such
ingratitude we gave over that profitless trade, and now there is a
manufactory, for specialties in men's clothing, upon the old
statutory grounds."

"But these makeshifts are unsatisfactory, and I wish to know, in
confidence, what do you do in Hell when there is no longer any
putting up with your wives."

The devils all blushed. "We would prefer not to tell you," said
they, "for it might get to their ears."

"Now do I perceive," said Jurgen, "that Hell is pretty much like any
other place."

So Jurgen and the lovely Vampire were duly married. First Jurgen's
nails were trimmed, and the parings were given to Florimel. A
broomstick was laid before them, and they stepped over it. Then
Florimel said "Temon!" thrice, and nine times did Jurgen reply
"Arigizator!" Afterward the Emperor Jurgen and his bride were given
a posset of dudaim and eruca, and the devils modestly withdrew.

Thereafter Jurgen abode in Hell, and complied with the customs of
that country, and was tolerably content for a while. Now Jurgen
shared with Florimel that quiet cleft which she had fitted out in
imitation of her girlhood home: and they lived in the suburbs of
Barathum, very respectably, by the shore of the sea. There was, of
course, no water in Hell; indeed the importation of water was
forbidden, under severe penalties, in view of its possible use for
baptismal purposes: this sea was composed of the blood that had been
shed by piety in furthering the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, and
was reputed to be the largest ocean in existence. And it explained
the nonsensical saying which Jurgen had so often heard, as to Hell's
being paved with good intentions.

"For Epigenes of Rhodes is right, after all," said Jurgen, "in
suggesting a misprint: and the word should be 'laved'."

"Why, to be sure, your majesty," assented Florimel: "ah, but I
always said your majesty had remarkable powers of penetration, quite
apart from your majesty's scholarship."

For Florimel had this cajoling way of speaking. None the less, all
vampires have their foibles, and are nourished by the vigor and
youth of their lovers. So one morning Florimel complained of being
unwell, and attributed it to indigestion.

Jurgen stroked her head meditatively; then he opened his glittering
shirt, and displayed what was plain enough to see.

"I am full of vigor and I am young," said Jurgen, "but my vigor and
my youthfulness are of a peculiar sort, and are not wholesome. So
let us have no more of your tricks, or you will quite spoil your
vacation by being very ill indeed."

"But I had thought all emperors were human!" said Florimel, in a
flutter of blushing penitence, exceedingly pretty to observe.

"Even so, sweetheart, all emperors are not Jurgens," he replied,
magnificently. "Therefore you will find that not every emperor is
justly styled the father of his people, or is qualified by nature to
wield the sceptre of Noumaria. I trust this lesson will suffice."

"It will," said Florimel, with a wry face.

So thereafter they had no further trouble of this sort, and the
wound on Jurgen's breast was soon healed.

And Jurgen kept away from the damned, of course, because he and
Florimel were living respectably. They paid a visit to Jurgen's
father, however, very shortly after they were married, because this
was the proper thing to do. And Coth was civil enough, for Coth, and
voiced a hope that Florimel might have a good influence upon Jurgen
and make him worth his salt, but did not pretend to be optimistic.
Yet this visit was never returned, because Coth considered his
wickedness was too great for him to be spared a moment of torment,
and so would not leave his flame.

"And really, your majesty," said Florimel, "I do not wish for an
instant to have the appearance of criticizing your majesty's
relatives. But I do think that your majesty's father might have
called upon us, at least once, particularly after I offered to have
a fire made up for him to sit on any time he chose to come. I
consider that your majesty's father assumes somewhat extravagant
airs, in the lack of any definite proof as to his having been a bit
more wicked than anybody else: and the child-like candor which has
always been with me a leading characteristic prevents concealment of
my opinion."

"Oh, it is just his conscience, dear."

"A conscience is all very well in its place, your majesty; and I,
for one, would never have been able to endure the interminable labor
of seducing and assassinating so many fine young fellows if my
conscience had not assured me that it was all the fault of my
sister-in-law. But, even so, there is no sense in letting your
conscience make a slave of you: and when conscience reduces your
majesty's father to ignoring the rules of common civility and
behaving like a candle-wick, I am sure that matters are being
carried too far."

"And right you are, my dear. However, we do not lack for company. So
come now, make yourself fine, and shake the black dog from your
back, for we are spending the evening with the Asmodeuses."

"And will your majesty talk politics again?"

"Oh, I suppose so. They appear to like it."

"I only wish that I did, your majesty," observed Florimel, and she
yawned by anticipation.

For with the devils Jurgen got on garrulously. The religion of Hell
is patriotism, and the government is an enlightened democracy. This
contented the devils, and Jurgen had learned long ago never to fall
out with either of these codes, without which, as the devils were
fond of observing, Hell would not be what it is.

They were, to Jurgen's finding, simple-minded fiends who allowed
themselves to be deplorably overworked by the importunate dead. They
got no rest because of the damned, who were such persons as had been
saddled with a conscience, and who in consequence demanded
interminable torments. And at the time of Jurgen's coming into Hell
political affairs were in a very bad way, because there was a
considerable party among the younger devils who were for compounding
the age-old war with Heaven, at almost any price, in order to get
relief from this unceasing influx of conscientious dead persons in
search of torment. For it was well-known that when Satan submitted
to be bound in chains there would be no more death: and the annoying
immigration would thus be ended. So said the younger devils: and
considered Grandfather Satan ought to sacrifice himself for the
general welfare.

Then too they pointed out that Satan had been perforce their
presiding magistrate ever since the settlement of Hell, because a
change of administration is inexpedient in war-time: so that Satan
must term after term be re-elected: and of course Satan had been
voted absolute power in everything, since this too is customary in
wartime. Well, and after the first few thousand years of this the
younger devils began to whisper that such government was not ideal
democracy.

But their more conservative elders were enraged by these effete and
wild new notions, and dealt with their juniors somewhat severely,
tearing them into bits and quite destroying them. The elder devils
then proceeded to inflict even more startling punishments.

       *       *       *       *       *

So Grandfather Satan was much vexed, because the laws were being
violated everywhere: and a day or two after Jurgen's advent Satan
issued a public appeal to his subjects, that the code of Hell should
be better respected. But under a democratic government people do not
like to be perpetually bothering about law and order, as one of the
older and stronger devils pointed out to Jurgen.

Jurgen drew a serious face, and he stroked his chin. "Why, but look
you," says Jurgen, "in deploring the mob spirit that has been
manifesting itself sporadically throughout this country against the
advocates of peace and submission to the commands of Heaven and
other pro-Celestial propaganda,--and in warning loyal citizenship
that such outbursts must be guarded against, as hurtful to the
public welfare of Hell,--why, Grandfather Satan should bear in mind
that the government, in large measure, holds the remedy of the evil
in its own hands." And Jurgen looked very severely toward Satan.

"Come now," says Phlegeton, nodding his head, which was like that of
a bear, except for his naked long, red ears, inside each of which
was a flame like that of a spirit-lamp: "come now, but this young
emperor in the fine shirt speaks uncommonly well!"

"So we spoke together in Pandemonium," said Belial, wistfully, "in
the brave days when Pandemonium was newly built and we were all imps
together."

"Yes, his talk is of the old school, than which there is none
better. So pray continue, Emperor Jurgen," cried the elderly devils,
"and let us know what you are talking about."

"Why, merely this," says Jurgen, and again he looked severely toward
Satan: "I tell you that as long as sentimental weakness marks the
prosecution of offences in violation of the laws necessitated by
war-time conditions; as long as deserved punishment for overt acts
of pro-Celestialism is withheld; as long as weak-kneed clemency
condones even a suspicion of disloyal thinking: then just so long
will a righteously incensed, if now and then misguided patriotism
take into its own hands vengeance upon the offenders."

"But, still--" said Grandfather Satan.

"Ineffectual administration of the law," continued Jurgen, sternly,
"is the true defence of these outbursts: and far more justly
deplorable than acts of mob violence is the policy of condonation
that furnishes occasion for them. The patriotic people of Hell are
not in a temper to be trifled with, now that they are at war.
Conviction for offenses against the nation should not be behedged
about with technicalities devised for over-refined peacetime
jurisprudence. Why, there is no one of you, I am sure, but has at
his tongue's tip the immortal words of Livonius as to this very
topic: and so I shall not repeat them. But I fancy you will agree
with me that what Livonius says is unanswerable."

So it was that Jurgen went on at a great rate, and looking always
very sternly at Grandfather Satan.

"Yes, yes!" said Satan, wriggling uncomfortably, but still not
thinking of Jurgen entirely: "yes, all this is excellent oratory,
and not for a moment would I decry the authority of Livonius. And
your quotation is uncommonly apropos and all that sort of thing. But
with what are you charging me?"

"With sentimental weakness," retorted Jurgen. "Was it not only
yesterday one of the younger devils was brought before you, upon the
charge that he had said the climate in Heaven was better than the
climate here? And you, sir, Hell's chief magistrate--you it was who
actually asked him if he had ever uttered such a disloyal heresy!"

"Now, but what else was I to do?" said Satan, fidgeting, and
swishing his great bushy tail so that it rustled against his horns,
and still not really turning his mind from that ancient thought.

"You should have remembered, sir, that a devil whose patriotism is
impugned is a devil to be punished; and that there is no time to be
prying into irrevelant questions of his guilt or innocence.
Otherwise, I take it, you will never have any real democracy in
Hell."

Now Jurgen looked very impressive, and the devils were all cheering
him.

"And so," says Jurgen, "your disgusted hearers were wearied by such
frivolous interrogatories, and took the fellow out of your hands,
and tore him into particularly small bits. Now I warn you,
Grandfather Satan, that it is your duty as a democratic magistrate
just so to deal with such offenders first of all, and to ask your
silly questions afterward. For what does Rudigernus say outright
upon this point? and Zantipher Magnus, too? Why, my dear sir, I ask
you plainly, where in the entire history of international
jurisprudence will you find any more explicit language than these
two employ?"

"Now certainly," says Satan, with his bleak smile, "you cite very
respectable authority: and I shall take your reproof in good part. I
will endeavor to be more strict in the future. And you must not
blame my laxity too severely, Emperor Jurgen, for it is a long while
since any man came living into Hell to instruct us how to manage
matters in time of war. No doubt, precisely as you say, we do need a
little more severity hereabouts, and would gain by adopting more
human methods. Rudigernus, now?--yes, Rudigernus is rather
unanswerable, and I concede it frankly. So do you come home and have
supper with me, Emperor Jurgen, and we will talk over these things."

Then Jurgen went off arm in arm with Grandfather Satan, and Jurgen's
erudition and sturdy common-sense were forevermore established among
the older and more solid element in Hell. And Satan followed Jurgen's
suggestions, and the threatened rebellion was satisfactorily
discouraged, by tearing into very small fragments anybody who
grumbled about anything. So that all the subjects of Satan went
about smiling broadly all the time at the thought of what might
befall them if they seemed dejected. Thus was Hell a happier
looking place because of Jurgen's coming.




39.

Of Compromises in Hell


Now Grandfather Satan's wife was called Phyllis: and apart from
having wings like a bat's, she was the loveliest little slip of
devilishness that Jurgen had seen in a long while. Jurgen spent this
night at the Black House of Barathum, and two more nights, or it
might be three nights: and the details of what Jurgen used to do
there, after supper, when he would walk alone in the Black House
Gardens, among the artfully colored cast-iron flowers and shrubbery,
and would so come to the grated windows of Phyllis's room, and would
stand there joking with her in the dark, are not requisite to this
story.

Satan was very jealous of his wife, and kept one of her wings
clipped and held her under lock and key, as the treasure that she
was. But Jurgen was accustomed to say afterward that, while the
gratings over the windows were very formidable, they only seemed
somehow to enhance the piquancy of his commerce with Dame Phyllis.
This queen, said Jurgen, he had found simply unexcelled at repartee.

Florimel considered the saying cryptic: just what precisely did his
majesty mean?

"Why, that in any and all circumstances Dame Phyllis knows how to
take a joke, and to return as good as she receives."

"So your majesty has already informed me: and certainly jokes can be
exchanged through a grating--"

"Yes, that was what I meant. And Dame Phyllis appeared to appreciate
my ready flow of humor. She informs me Grandfather Satan is of a
cold dry temperament, with very little humor in him, so that they go
for months without exchanging any pleasantries. Well, I am willing
to taste any drink once: and for the rest, remembering that my host
had very enormous and intimidating horns, I was at particular pains
to deal fairly with my hostess. Though, indeed, it was more for the
honor and the glory of the affair than anything else that I
exchanged pleasantries with Satan's wife. For to do that, my dear, I
felt was worthy of the Emperor Jurgen."

"Ah, I am afraid your majesty is a sad scapegrace," replied
Florimel: "however, we all know that the sceptre of an emperor is
respected everywhere."

"Indeed," says Jurgen, "I have often regretted that I did not bring
with me my jewelled sceptre when I left Noumaria."

She shivered at some unspoken thought: it was not until some while
afterward that Florimel told Jurgen of her humiliating misadventure
with the absent-minded Sultan of Garcao's sceptre. Now she only
replied that jewels might, conceivably, seem ostentatious and out of
place.

Jurgen agreed to this truism: for of course they were living very
quietly, and Jurgen was splendid enough for any reasonable wife's
requirements, in his glittering shirt.

So Jurgen got on pleasantly with Florimel. But he never became as
fond of her as he had been of Guenevere or Anaitis, nor one-tenth as
fond of her as he had been of Chloris. In the first place, he
suspected that Florimel had been invented by his father, and Coth
and Jurgen had never any tastes in common: and in the second place,
Jurgen could not but see that Florimel thought a great deal of his
being an emperor.

"It is my title she loves, not me," reflected Jurgen, sadly, "and
her affection is less for that which is really integral to me than
for imperial orbs and sceptres and such-like external trappings."

And Jurgen would come out of Florimel's cleft considerably dejected,
and would sit alone by the Sea of Blood, and would meditate how
inequitable it was that the mere title of emperor should thus shut
him off from sincerity and candor.

"We who are called kings and emperors are men like other men: we are
as rightly entitled as other persons to the solace of true love and
affection: instead, we live in a continuous isolation, and women
offer us all things save their hearts, and we are a lonely folk.
No, I cannot believe that Florimel loves me for myself alone: it is
my title which dazzles her. And I would that I had never made myself
the emperor of Noumaria: for this emperor goes about everywhere
in a fabulous splendor, and is, very naturally, resistless in his
semi-mythical magnificence. Ah, but these imperial gewgaws distract
the thoughts of Florimel from the real Jurgen; so that the real
Jurgen is a person whom she does not understand at all. And it is
not fair."

Then, too, he had a sort of prejudice against the way in which
Florimel spent her time in seducing and murdering young men. It was
not possible, of course, actually to blame the girl, since she was
the victim of circumstances, and had no choice about becoming a
vampire, once the cat had jumped over her coffin. Still, Jurgen
always felt, in his illogical masculine way, that her vocation was
not nice. And equally in the illogical way of men, did he persist in
coaxing Florimel to tell him of her vampiric transactions, in spite
of his underlying feeling that he would prefer to have his wife
engaged in some other trade: and the merry little creature would
humor him willingly enough, with her purple eyes a-sparkle, and with
her vivid lips curling prettily back, so as to show her tiny white
sharp teeth quite plainly.

She was really very pretty thus, as she told him of what happened
in Copenhagen when young Count Osmund went down into the blind
beggar-woman's cellar, and what they did with bits of him; and
of how one kind of serpent came to have a secret name, which,
when cried aloud in the night, with the appropriate ceremony, will
bring about delicious happenings; and of what one can do with small
unchristened children, if only they do not kiss you, with their
moist uncertain little mouths, for then this thing is impossible;
and of what use she had made of young Sir Ganelon's skull, when he
was through with it, and she with him; and of what the young priest
Wulfnoth had said to the crocodiles at the very last.

"Oh, yes, my life has its amusing side," said Florimel: "and one
likes to feel, of course, that one is not wholly out of touch with
things, and is even, in one's modest way, contributing to the
suppression of folly. But even so, your majesty, the calls that are
made upon one! the things that young men expect of you, as the price
of their bodily and spiritual ruin! and the things their relatives say
about you! and, above all, the constant strain, the irregular hours,
and the continual effort to live up to one's position! Oh, yes, your
majesty, I was far happier when I was a consumptive seamstress and took
pride in my buttonholes. But from a sister-in-law who only has you in
to tea occasionally as a matter of duty, and who is prominent in
churchwork, one may, of course, expect anything. And that reminds
me that I really must tell your majesty about what happened in the
hay-loft, just after the abbot had finished undressing--"

So she would chatter away, while Jurgen listened and smiled
indulgently. For she certainly was very pretty. And so they kept
house in Hell contentedly enough until Florimel's vacation was at an
end: and then they parted, without any tears but in perfect
friendliness.

And Jurgen always remembered Florimel most pleasantly, but not as a
wife with whom he had ever been on terms of actual intimacy.

Now when this lovely Vampire had quitted him, the Emperor Jurgen, in
spite of his general popularity and the deference accorded his
political views, was not quite happy in Hell.

"It is a comfort, at any rate," said Jurgen, "to discover who
originated the theory of democratic government. I have long wondered
who started the notion that the way to get a wise decision on any
conceivable question was to submit it to a popular vote. Now I know.
Well, and the devils may be right in their doctrines; certainly I
cannot go so far as to say they are wrong: but still, at the same
time--!"

For instance, this interminable effort to make the universe safe for
democracy, this continual warring against Heaven because Heaven
clung to a tyrannical form of autocratic government, sounded both
logical and magnanimous, and was, of course, the only method of
insuring any general triumph for democracy: yet it seemed rather
futile to Jurgen, since, as he knew now, there was certainly
something in the Celestial system which made for military
efficiency, so that Heaven usually won. Moreover, Jurgen could not
get over the fact that Hell was just a notion of his ancestors with
which Koshchei had happened to fall in: for Jurgen had never much
patience with antiquated ideas, particularly when anyone put them
into practice, as Koshchei had done.

"Why, this place appears to me a glaring anachronism," said Jurgen,
brooding over the fires of Chorasma: "and its methods of tormenting
conscientious people I cannot but consider very crude indeed. The
devils are simple-minded and they mean well, as nobody would dream
of denying, but that is just it: for hereabouts is needed some more
pertinacious and efficiently disagreeable person--"

And that, of course, reminded him of Dame Lisa: and so it was the
thoughts of Jurgen turned again to doing the manly thing. And he
sighed, and went among the devils tentatively looking and inquiring
for that intrepid fiend who in the form of a black gentleman had
carried off Dame Lisa. But a queer happening befell, and it was that
nowhere could Jurgen find the black gentleman, nor did any of the
devils know anything about him.

"From what you tell us, Emperor Jurgen," said they all, "your wife
was an acidulous shrew, and the sort of woman who believes that
whatever she does is right."

"It was not a belief," says Jurgen: "it was a mania with the poor
dear."

"By that fact, then, she is forever debarred from entering Hell."

"You tell me news," says Jurgen, "which if generally known would
lead many husbands into vicious living."

"But it is notorious that people are saved by faith. And there is no
faith stronger than that of a bad-tempered woman in her own
infallibility. Plainly, this wife of yours is the sort of person who
cannot be tolerated by anybody short of the angels. We deduce that
your Empress must be in Heaven."

"Well, that sounds reasonable. And so to Heaven I will go, and it
may be that there I shall find justice."

"We would have you know," the fiends cried, bristling, "that in Hell
we have all kinds of justice, since our government is an enlightened
democracy."

"Just so," says Jurgen: "in an enlightened democracy one has all
kinds of justice, and I would not dream of denying it. But you have
not, you conceive, that lesser plague, my wife; and it is she whom I
must continue to look for."

"Oh, as you like," said they, "so long as you do not criticize the
exigencies of war-time. But certainly we are sorry to see you going
into a country where the benighted people put up with an autocrat
Who was not duly elected to His position. And why need you continue
seeking your wife's society when it is so much pleasanter living in
Hell?"

And Jurgen shrugged. "One has to do the manly thing sometimes."

So the fiends told him the way to Heaven's frontiers, pitying him.
"But the crossing of the frontier must be your affair."

"I have a cantrap," said Jurgen; "and my stay in Hell has taught me
how to use it."

Then Jurgen followed his instructions, and went into Meridie, and
turned to the left when he had come to the great puddle where the
adders and toads are reared, and so passed through the mists of
Tartarus, with due care of the wild lightning, and took the second
turn to his left--"always in seeking Heaven be guided by your
heart," had been the advice given him by devils,--and thus avoiding
the abode of Jemra, he crossed the bridge over the Bottomless Pit
and the solitary Narakas. And Brachus, who kept the toll-gate on
this bridge, did that of which the fiends had forewarned Jurgen: but
for this, of course, there was no help.




40.

The Ascension of Pope Jurgen


The tale tells how on the feast of the Annunciation Jurgen came to
the high white walls which girdle Heaven. For Jurgen's forefathers
had, of course, imagined that Hell stood directly contiguous to
Heaven, so that the blessed could augment their felicity by gazing
down upon the tortures of the damned. Now at this time a boy angel
was looking over the parapet of Heaven's wall.

"And a good day to you, my fine young fellow," says Jurgen. "But of
what are you thinking so intently?" For just as Dives had done long
years before, now Jurgen found that a man's voice carries perfectly
between Hell and Heaven.

"Sir," replies the boy, "I was pitying the poor damned."

"Why, then, you must be Origen," says Jurgen, laughing.

"No, sir, my name is Jurgen."

"Heyday!" says Jurgen: "well, but this Jurgen has been a great many
persons in my time. So very possibly you speak the truth."

"I am Jurgen, the son of Coth and Azra."

"Ah, ah! but so were all of them, my boy."

"Why, then, I am Jurgen, the grandson of Steinvor, and the
grandchild whom she loved above her other grandchildren: and so I
abide forever in Heaven with all the other illusions of Steinvor.
But who, messire, are you that go about Hell unscorched, in such a
fine looking shirt?"

Jurgen reflected. Clearly it would never do to give his real name,
and thus raise the question as to whether Jurgen was in Heaven or
Hell. Then he recollected the cantrap of the Master Philologist,
which Jurgen had twice employed incorrectly. And Jurgen cleared his
throat, for he believed that he now understood the proper use of
cantraps.

"Perhaps," says Jurgen, "I ought not to tell you who I am. But what
is life without confidence in one another? Besides, you appear a boy
of remarkable discretion. So I will confide in you that I am Pope
John the Twentieth, Heaven's regent upon Earth, now visiting this
place upon Celestial business which I am not at liberty to divulge
more particularly, for reasons that will at once occur to a young
man of your unusual cleverness."

"Oh, but I say! that is droll. Do you just wait a moment!" cried the
boy angel.

His bright face vanished, with a whisking of brown curls: and Jurgen
carefully re-read the cantrap of the Master Philologist. "Yes, I
have found, I think, the way to use such magic," observes Jurgen.

Presently the young angel re-appeared at the parapet. "I say, messire!
I looked on the Register--all popes are admitted here the moment they
die, without inquiring into their private affairs, you know, so as to
avoid any unfortunate scandal,--and we have twenty-three Pope Johns
listed. And sure enough, the mansion prepared for John the Twentieth
is vacant. He seems to be the only pope that is not in Heaven."

"Why, but of course not," says Jurgen, complacently, "inasmuch as
you see me, who was once Bishop of Rome and servant to the servants
of God, standing down here on this cinder-heap."

"Yes, but none of the others in your series appears to place you.
John the Nineteenth says he never heard of you, and not to bother
him in the middle of a harp lesson--"

"He died before my accession, naturally."

"--And John the Twenty-first says he thinks they lost count somehow,
and that there never was any Pope John the Twentieth. He says you
must be an impostor."

"Ah, professional jealousy!" sighed Jurgen: "dear me, this is very
sad, and gives one a poor opinion of human nature. Now, my boy, I
put it to you fairly, how could there have been a twenty-first
unless there had been a twentieth? And what becomes of the great
principle of papal infallibility when a pope admits to a mistake in
elementary arithmetic? Oh, but this is a very dangerous heresy, let
me tell you, an Inquisition matter, a consistory business! Yet,
luckily, upon his own contention, this Pedro Juliani--"

"And that was his name, too, for he told me! You evidently know all
about it, messire," said the young angel, visibly impressed.

"Of course, I know all about it. Well, I repeat, upon his own
contention this man is non-existent, and so, whatever he may say
amounts to nothing. For he tells you there was never any Pope John
the Twentieth: and either he is lying or he is telling you the
truth. If he is lying, you, of course, ought not to believe him:
yet, if he is telling you the truth, about there never having been
any Pope John the Twentieth, why then, quite plainly, there was
never any Pope John the Twenty-first, so that this man asserts his
own non-existence; and thus is talking nonsense, and you, of course,
ought not to believe in nonsense. Even did we grant his insane
contention that he is nobody, you are too well brought up, I am
sure, to dispute that nobody tells lies in Heaven: it follows that
in this case nobody is lying; and so, of course, I must be telling
the truth, and you have no choice save to believe me."

"Now, certainly that sounds all right," the younger Jurgen conceded:
"though you explain it so quickly it is a little difficult to follow
you."

"Ah, but furthermore, and over and above this, and as a tangible
proof of the infallible particularity of every syllable of my
assertion," observes the elder Jurgen, "if you will look in the
garret of Heaven you will find the identical ladder upon which I
descended hither, and which I directed them to lay aside until I was
ready to come up again. Indeed, I was just about to ask you to fetch
it, inasmuch as my business here is satisfactorily concluded."

Well, the boy agreed that the word of no pope, whether in Hell or
Heaven, was tangible proof like a ladder: and again he was off.
Jurgen waited, in tolerable confidence.

It was a matter of logic. Jacob's Ladder must from all accounts have
been far too valuable to throw away after one night's use at Beth-El;
it would come in very handy on Judgment Day: and Jurgen's knowledge
of Lisa enabled him to deduce that anything which was being kept
because it would come in handy some day would inevitably be stored
in the garret, in any establishment imaginable by women. "And it is
notorious that Heaven is a delusion of old women. Why, the thing is
a certainty," said Jurgen; "simply a mathematical certainty."

And events proved his logic correct: for presently the younger
Jurgen came back with Jacob's Ladder, which was rather cobwebby and
obsolete looking after having been lain aside so long.

"So you see you were perfectly right," then said this younger
Jurgen, as he lowered Jacob's Ladder into Hell. "Oh, Messire John,
do hurry up and have it out with that old fellow who slandered you!"

Thus it came about that Jurgen clambered merrily from Hell to Heaven
upon a ladder of unalloyed, time-tested gold: and as he climbed the
shirt of Nessus glittered handsomely in the light which shone from
Heaven: and by this great light above him, as Jurgen mounted higher
and yet higher, the shadow of Jurgen was lengthened beyond belief
along the sheer white wall of Heaven, as though the shadow were
reluctant and adhered tenaciously to Hell. Yet presently Jurgen
leaped the ramparts: and then the shadow leaped too; and so his
shadow came with Jurgen into Heaven, and huddled dispiritedly at
Jurgen's feet.

"Well, well!" thinks Jurgen, "certainly there is no disputing the
magic of the Master Philologist when it is correctly employed. For
through its aid I am entering alive into Heaven, as only Enoch and
Elijah have done before me: and moreover, if this boy is to be
believed, one of the very handsomest of Heaven's many mansions
awaits my occupancy. One could not ask more of any magician fairly.
Aha, if only Lisa could see me now!"

That was his first thought. Afterward Jurgen tore up the cantrap and
scattered its fragments as the Master Philologist had directed. Then
Jurgen turned to the boy who aided Jurgen to get into Heaven.

"Come, youngster, and let us have a good look at you!"

And Jurgen talked with the boy that he had once been, and stood face
to face with all that Jurgen had been and was not any longer. And
this was the one happening which befell Jurgen that the writer of
the tale lacked heart to tell of.

So Jurgen quitted the boy that he had been. But first had Jurgen
learned that in this place his grandmother Steinvor (whom King Smoit
had loved) abode and was happy in her notion of Heaven; and that
about her were her notions of her children and of her grandchildren.
Steinvor had never imagined her husband in Heaven, nor King Smoit
either.

"That is a circumstance," says Jurgen, "which heartens me to hope
one may find justice here. Yet I shall keep away from my
grandmother, the Steinvor whom I knew and loved, and who loved me so
blindly that this boy here is her notion of me. Yes, in mere
fairness to her, I must keep away."

So he avoided that part of Heaven wherein were his grandmother's
illusions: and this was counted for righteousness in Jurgen. That
part of Heaven smelt of mignonette, and a starling was singing
there.




41.

Of Compromises in Heaven


Jurgen then went unhindered to where the God of Jurgen's grandmother
sat upon a throne, beside a sea of crystal. A rainbow, made high
and narrow like a window frame, so as to fit the throne, formed an
arch-way in which He sat: at His feet burned seven lamps, and four
remarkable winged creatures sat there chaunting softly, "Glory and
honor and thanks to Him Who liveth forever!" In one hand of the God
was a sceptre, and in the other a large book with seven red spots on
it.

There were twelve smaller thrones, without rainbows, upon each side
of the God of Jurgen's grandmother, in two semi-circles: upon these
inferior thrones sat benignant-looking elderly angels, with long
white hair, all crowned, and clothed in white robes, and having a
harp in one hand, and in the other a gold flask, about pint size.
And everywhere fluttered and glittered the multicolored wings of
seraphs and cherubs, like magnified paroquets, as they went softly
and gaily about the golden haze that brooded over Heaven, to a
continuous sound of hushed organ music and a remote and
undistinguishable singing.

Now the eyes of this God met the eyes of Jurgen: and Jurgen waited
thus for a long while, and far longer, indeed, than Jurgen
suspected.

"I fear You," Jurgen said, at last: "and, yes, I love You: and yet I
cannot believe. Why could You not let me believe, where so many
believed? Or else, why could You not let me deride, as the remainder
derided so noisily? O God, why could You not let me have faith? for
You gave me no faith in anything, not even in nothingness. It was
not fair."

And in the highest court of Heaven, and in plain view of all the
angels, Jurgen began to weep.

"I was not ever your God, Jurgen."

"Once very long ago," said Jurgen, "I had faith in You."

"No, for that boy is here with Me, as you yourself have seen. And
to-day there is nothing remaining of him anywhere in the man that is
Jurgen."

"God of my grandmother! God Whom I too loved in boyhood!" said
Jurgen then: "why is it that I am denied a God? For I have searched:
and nowhere can I find justice, and nowhere can I find anything to
worship."

"What, Jurgen, and would you look for justice, of all places, in
Heaven?"

"No," Jurgen said; "no, I perceive it cannot be considered here.
Else You would sit alone."

"And for the rest, you have looked to find your God without, not
looking within to see that which is truly worshipped in the thoughts
of Jurgen. Had you done so, you would have seen, as plainly as I now
see, that which alone you are able to worship. And your God is
maimed: the dust of your journeying is thick upon him; your vanity
is laid as a napkin upon his eyes; and in his heart is neither love
nor hate, not even for his only worshipper."

"Do not deride him, You Who have so many worshippers! At least, he
is a monstrous clever fellow," said Jurgen: and boldly he said it,
in the highest court of Heaven, and before the pensive face of the
God of Jurgen's grandmother.

"Ah, very probably. I do not meet with many clever people. And as
for My numerous worshippers, you forget how often you have
demonstrated that I was the delusion of an old woman."

"Well, and was there ever a flaw in my logic?"

"I was not listening to you, Jurgen. You must know that logic does
not much concern us, inasmuch as nothing is logical hereabouts."

And now the four winged creatures ceased their chaunting, and the
organ music became a far-off murmuring. And there was silence in
Heaven. And the God of Jurgen's grandmother, too, was silent for a
while, and the rainbow under which He sat put off its seven colors
and burned with an unendurable white, tinged bluishly, while the God
considered ancient things. Then in the silence this God began to
speak.

Some years ago (said the God of Jurgen's grandmother) it was
reported to Koshchei that scepticism was abroad in his universe, and
that one walked therein who would be contented with no rational
explanation. "Bring me this infidel," says Koshchei: so they brought
to him in the void a little bent gray woman in an old gray shawl.
"Now, tell me why you will not believe," says Koshchei, "in things
as they are."

Then the decent little bent gray woman answered civilly; "I do not
know, sir, who you may happen to be. But, since you ask me,
everybody knows that things as they are must be regarded as
temporary afflictions, and as trials through which we are
righteously condemned to pass, in order to attain to eternal life
with our loved ones in Heaven."

"Ah, yes," said Koshchei, who made things as they are; "ah, yes, to
be sure! and how did you learn of this?"

"Why, every Sunday morning the priest discoursed to us about Heaven,
and of how happy we would be there after death."

"Has this woman died, then?" asked Koshchei.

"Yes, sir," they told him,--"recently. And she will believe nothing
we explain to her, but demands to be taken to Heaven."

"Now, this is very vexing," Koshchei said, "and I cannot, of course,
put up with such scepticism. That would never do. So why do you not
convey her to this Heaven which she believes in, and thus put an end
to the matter?"

"But, sir," they told him, "there is no such place."

Then Koshchei reflected. "It is certainly strange that a place which
does not exist should be a matter of public knowledge in another
place. Where does this woman come from?"

"From Earth," they told him.

"Where is that?" he asked: and they explained to him as well as they
could.

"Oh, yes, over that way," Koshchei interrupted. "I remember.
Now--but what is your name, woman who wish to go to Heaven?"

"Steinvor, sir: and if you please I am rather in a hurry to be with
my children again. You see, I have not seen any of them for a long
while."

"But stay," said Koshchei: "what is that which comes into this
woman's eyes as she speaks of her children?" They told him it was
love.

"Did I create this love?" says Koshchei, who made things as they
are. And they told him, no: and that there were many sorts of love,
but that this especial sort was an illusion which women had invented
for themselves, and which they exhibited in all dealings with their
children. And Koshchei sighed.

"Tell me about your children," Koshchei then said to Steinvor: "and
look at me as you talk, so that I may see your eyes."

So Steinvor talked of her children: and Koshchei, who made all
things, listened very attentively. Of Coth she told him, of her only
son, confessing Coth was the finest boy that ever lived,--"a little
wild, sir, at first, but then you know what boys are,"--and telling
of how well Coth had done in business and of how he had even risen
to be an alderman. Koshchei, who made all things, seemed properly
impressed. Then Steinvor talked of her daughters, of Imperia and
Lindamira and Christine: of Imperia's beauty, and of Lindamira's
bravery under the mishaps of an unlucky marriage, and of Christine's
superlative housekeeping. "Fine women, sir, every one of them, with
children of their own! and to me they still seem such babies, bless
them!" And the decent little bent gray woman laughed. "I have been
very lucky in my children, sir, and in my grandchildren, too," she
told Koshchei. "There is Jurgen, now, my Coth's boy! You may not
believe it, sir, but there is a story I must tell you about
Jurgen--" So she ran on very happily and proudly, while Koshchei,
who made all things, listened, and watched the eyes of Steinvor.

Then privately Koshchei asked, "Are these children and grandchildren
of Steinvor such as she reports?"

"No, sir," they told him privately.

So as Steinvor talked Koshchei devised illusions in accordance with
that which Steinvor said, and created such children and
grandchildren as she described. Male and female he created them
standing behind Steinvor, and all were beautiful and stainless: and
Koshchei gave life to these illusions.

Then Koshchei bade her turn about. She obeyed: and Koshchei was
forgotten.

Well, Koshchei sat there alone in the void, looking not very happy,
and looking puzzled, and drumming upon his knee, and staring at the
little bent gray woman, who was busied with her children and
grandchildren, and had forgotten all about him. "But surely,
Lindamira," he hears Steinvor say, "we are not yet in Heaven."--"Ah,
my dear mother," replies her illusion of Lindamira, "to be with you
again is Heaven: and besides, it may be that Heaven is like this,
after all."--"My darling child, it is sweet of you to say that, and
exactly like you to say that. But you know very well that Heaven is
fully described in the Book of Revelations, in the Bible, as the
glorious place that Heaven is. Whereas, as you can see for yourself,
around us is nothing at all, and no person at all except that very
civil gentleman to whom I was just talking; and who, between
ourselves, seems woefully uninformed about the most ordinary
matters."

"Bring Earth to me," says Koshchei. This was done, and Koshchei
looked over the planet, and found a Bible. Koshchei opened the
Bible, and read the Revelation of St. John the Divine, while
Steinvor talked with her illusions. "I see," said Koshchei. "The
idea is a little garish. Still--!" So he replaced the Bible, and
bade them put Earth, too, in its proper place, for Koshchei dislikes
wasting anything. Then Koshchei smiled and created Heaven about
Steinvor and her illusions, and he made Heaven just such a place as
was described in the book.

"And so, Jurgen, that was how it came about," ended the God of
Jurgen's grandmother. "And Me also Koshchei created at that time,
with the seraphim and the saints and all the blessed, very much as
you see us: and, of course, he caused us to have been here always,
since the beginning of time, because that, too, was in the book."

"But how could that be done?" says Jurgen, with brows puckering.
"And in what way could Koshchei juggle so with time?"

"How should I know, since I am but the illusion of an old woman, as
you have so frequently proved by logic? Let it suffice that whatever
Koshchei wills, not only happens, but has already happened beyond
the ancientest memory of man and his mother. How otherwise could he
be Koshchei?"

"And all this," said Jurgen, virtuously, "for a woman who was not
even faithful to her husband!"

"Oh, very probably!" said the God: "at all events, it was done for a
woman who loved. Koshchei will do almost anything to humor love,
since love is one of the two things which are impossible to
Koshchei."

"I have heard that pride is impossible to Koshchei--"

The God of Jurgen's grandmother raised His white eyebrows. "What is
pride? I do not think I ever heard of it before. Assuredly it is
something that does not enter here."

"But why is love impossible to Koshchei?"

"Because Koshchei made things as they are, and day and night he
contemplates things as they are. How, then, can Koshchei love
anything?"

But Jurgen shook his sleek black head. "That I cannot understand at
all. If I were imprisoned in a cell wherein was nothing except my
verses I would not be happy, and certainly I would not be proud: but
even so, I would love my verses. I am afraid that I fall in more
readily with the ideas of Grandfather Satan than with Yours; and
without contradicting You, I cannot but wonder if what You reveal is
true."

"And how should I know whether or not I speak the truth?" the God
asked of him, "since I am but the illusion of an old woman, as you
have so frequently proved by logic."

"Well, well!" said Jurgen, "You may be right in all matters, and
certainly I cannot presume to say You are wrong: but still, at the
same time--! No, even now I do not quite believe in You."

"Who could expect it of a clever fellow, who sees so clearly through
the illusions of old women?" the God asked, a little wearily.

And Jurgen answered:

"God of my grandmother, I cannot quite believe in You, and Your
doings as they are recorded I find incoherent and a little droll.
But I am glad the affair has been so arranged that You may always
now be real to brave and gentle persons who have believed in and
have worshipped and have loved You. To have disappointed them would
have been unfair: and it is right that before the faith they had in
You not even Koshchei who made things as they are was able to be
reasonable.

"God of my grandmother, I cannot quite believe in You; but
remembering the sum of love and faith that has been given You, I
tremble. I think of the dear people whose living was confident and
glad because of their faith in You: I think of them, and in my heart
contends a blind contrition, and a yearning, and an enviousness, and
yet a tender sort of amusement colors all. Oh, God, there was never
any other deity who had such dear worshippers as You have had, and
You should be very proud of them.

"God of my grandmother, I cannot quite believe in You, yet I am not
as those who would come peering at You reasonably. I, Jurgen, see
You only through a mist of tears. For You were loved by those whom I
loved greatly very long ago: and when I look at You it is Your
worshippers and the dear believers of old that I remember. And it
seems to me that dates and manuscripts and the opinions of learned
persons are very trifling things beside what I remember, and what I
envy!"

"Who could have expected such a monstrous clever fellow ever to envy
the illusions of old women?" the God of Jurgen's grandmother asked
again: and yet His countenance was not unfriendly.

"Why, but," said Jurgen, on a sudden, "why, but my grandmother--in a
way--was right about Heaven and about You also. For certainly You
seem to exist, and to reign in just such estate as she described.
And yet, according to Your latest revelation, I too was right--in a
way--about these things being an old woman's delusions. I wonder
now--?"

"Yes, Jurgen?"

"Why, I wonder if everything is right, in a way? I wonder if that is
the large secret of everything? It would not be a bad solution,
sir," said Jurgen, meditatively.

The God smiled. Then suddenly that part of Heaven was vacant, except
for Jurgen, who stood there quite alone. And before him was the throne
of the vanished God and the sceptre of the God, and Jurgen saw that
the seven spots upon the great book were of red sealing-wax.

Jurgen was afraid: but he was particularly appalled by his
consciousness that he was not going to falter. "What, you who have
been duke and prince and king and emperor and pope! and do such
dignities content a Jurgen? Why, not at all," says Jurgen.

So Jurgen ascended the throne of Heaven, and sat beneath that
wondrous rainbow: and in his lap now was the book, and in his hand
was the sceptre, of the God of Jurgen's grandmother.

Jurgen sat thus, for a long while regarding the bright vacant courts
of Heaven. "And what will you do now?" says Jurgen, aloud. "Oh,
fretful little Jurgen, you that have complained because you had not
your desire, you are omnipotent over Earth and all the affairs of
men. What now is your desire?" And sitting thus terribly enthroned,
the heart of Jurgen was as lead within him, and he felt old and very
tired. "For I do not know. Oh, nothing can help me, for I do not
know what thing it is that I desire! And this book and this sceptre
and this throne avail me nothing at all, and nothing can ever avail
me: for I am Jurgen who seeks he knows not what."

So Jurgen shrugged, and climbed down from the throne of the God, and
wandering at adventure, came presently to four archangels. They were
seated upon a fleecy cloud, and they were eating milk and honey from
gold porringers: and of these radiant beings Jurgen inquired the
quickest way out of Heaven.

"For hereabouts are none of my illusions," said Jurgen, "and I must
now return to such illusions as are congenial. One must believe in
something. And all that I have seen in Heaven I have admired and
envied, but in none of these things could I believe, and with none
of these things could I be satisfied. And while I think of it, I
wonder now if any of you gentlemen can give me news of that Lisa who
used to be my wife?"

He described her; and they regarded him with compassion.

But these archangels, he found, had never heard of Lisa, and they
assured him there was no such person in Heaven. For Steinvor had
died when Jurgen was a boy, and so she had never seen Lisa; and in
consequence, had not thought about Lisa one way or the other, when
Steinvor outlined her notions to Koshchei who made things as they
are.

Now Jurgen discovered, too, that, when his eyes first met the eyes
of the God of Jurgen's grandmother, Jurgen had stayed motionless for
thirty-seven days, forgetful of everything save that the God of his
grandmother was love.

"Nobody else has willingly turned away so soon," Zachariel told him:
"and we think that your insensibility is due to some evil virtue in
the glittering garment which you are wearing, and of which the like
was never seen in Heaven."

"I did but search for justice," Jurgen said: "and I could not find
it in the eyes of your God, but only love and such forgiveness as
troubled me."

"Because of that should you rejoice," the four archangels said; "and
so should all that lives rejoice: and more particularly should we
rejoice that dwell in Heaven, and hourly praise our Lord God's
negligence of justice, whereby we are permitted to enter into this
place."




42.

Twelve That are Fretted Hourly


So it was upon Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more
than likely to happen, that Jurgen went hastily out of Heaven,
without having gained or wasted any love there. St. Peter unbarred
for him, not the main entrance, but a small private door, carved
with innumerable fishes in bas-relief, because this exit opened
directly upon any place you chose to imagine.

"For thus," St. Peter said, "you may return without loss of time to
your own illusions."

"There was a cross," said Jurgen, "which I used to wear about my
neck, through motives of sentiment, because it once belonged to my
dead mother. For no woman has ever loved me save that Azra who was
my mother--"

"I wonder if your mother told you that?" St. Peter asked him,
smiling reminiscently. "Mine did, time and again. And sometimes I
have wondered--? For, as you may remember, I was a married man,
Jurgen: and my wife did not quite understand me," said St. Peter,
with a sigh.

"Why, indeed," says Jurgen, "my case is not entirely dissimilar: and
the more I marry, the less I find of comprehension. I should have
had more sympathy with King Smoit, who was certainly my grandfather.
Well, you conceive, St. Peter, these other women have trusted me,
more or less, because they loved a phantom Jurgen. But Azra trusted
me not at all, because she loved me with clear eyes. She
comprehended Jurgen, and yet loved him: though I for one, with all
my cleverness, cannot do either of these things. None the less, in
order to do the manly thing, in order to pleasure a woman,--and a
married woman, too!--I flung away the little gold cross which was
all that remained to me of my mother: and since then, St. Peter, the
illusions of sentiment have given me a woefully wide berth. So I
shall relinquish Heaven to seek a cross."

"That has been done before, Jurgen, and I doubt if much good came of
it."

"Heyday, and did it not lead to the eternal glory of the first and
greatest of the popes? It seems to me, sir, that you have either
very little memory or very little gratitude, and I am tempted to
crow in your face."

"Why, now you talk like a cherub, Jurgen, and you ought to have
better manners. Do you suppose that we Apostles enjoy hearing jokes
made about the Church?"

"Well, it is true, St. Peter, that you founded the Church--"

"Now, there you go again! That is what those patronizing seraphim
and those impish cherubs are always telling us. You see, we Twelve
sit together in Heaven, each on his white throne: and we behold
everything that happens on Earth. Now from our station there has
been no ignoring the growth and doings of what you might loosely
call Christianity. And sometimes that which we see makes us very
uncomfortable, Jurgen. Especially as just then some cherub is sure
to flutter by, in a broad grin, and chuckle, 'But you started it.'
And we did; I cannot deny that in a way we did. Yet really we never
anticipated anything of this sort, and it is not fair to tease us
about it."

"Indeed, St. Peter, now I think of it, you ought to be held
responsible for very little that has been said or done in the shadow
of a steeple. For as I remember it, you Twelve attempted to convert
a world to the teachings of Jesus: and good intentions ought to be
respected, however drolly they may turn out."

It was apparent this sympathy was grateful to the old Saint, for he
was moved to a more confidential tone. Meditatively he stroked his
long white beard, then said with indignation: "If only they would
not claim sib with us we could stand it: but as it is, for centuries
we have felt like fools. It is particularly embarrassing for me, of
course, being on the wicket; for to cap it all, Jurgen, the little
wretches die, and come to Heaven impudent as sparrows, and expect me
to let them in! From their thumbscrewings, and their auto-da-fes,
and from their massacres, and patriotic sermons, and holy wars, and
from every manner of abomination, they come to me, smirking. And
millions upon millions of them, Jurgen! There is no form of cruelty
or folly that has not come to me for praise, and no sort of criminal
idiot who has not claimed fellowship with me, who was an Apostle and
a gentleman. Why, Jurgen, you may not believe it, but there was an
eminent bishop came to me only last week in the expectation that I
was going to admit him,--and I with the full record of his work for
temperance, all fairly written out and in my hand!"

Now Jurgen was surprised. "But temperance is surely a virtue, St.
Peter."

"Ah, but his notion of temperance! and his filthy ravings to my
face, as though he were talking in some church or other! Why, the
slavering little blasphemer! to my face he spoke against the first
of my Master's miracles, and against the last injunction which was
laid upon us Twelve, spluttering that the wine was unfermented! To
me he said this, look you, Jurgen! to me, who drank of that noble
wine at Cana and equally of that sustaining wine we had in the
little upper room in Jerusalem when the hour of trial was near and
our Master would have us at our best! With me, who have since tasted
of that unimaginable wine which the Master promised us in His
kingdom, the busy wretch would be arguing! and would have convinced
me, in the face of all my memories, that my Master, Who was a Man
among men, was nourished by such thin swill as bred this niggling
brawling wretch to plague me!"

"Well, but indeed, St. Peter, there is no denying that wine is often
misused."

"So he informed me, Jurgen. And I told him by that argument he would
prohibit the making of bishops, for reasons he would find in the
mirror: and that, remembering what happened at the Crucifixion, he
would clap every lumber dealer into jail. So they took him away
still slavering," said St. Peter, wearily. "He was threatening to
have somebody else elected in my place when I last heard him: but
that was only old habit."

"I do not think, however, that I encountered any such bishop, sir,
down yonder."

"In the Hell of your fathers? Oh, no: your fathers meant well, but
their notions were limited. No, we have quite another eternal home
for these blasphemers, in a region that was fitted out long ago,
when the need grew pressing to provide a place for zealous
Churchmen."

"And who devised this place, St. Peter?"

"As a very special favor, we Twelve to whom is imputed the beginning
and the patronizing of such abominations were permitted to design
and furnish this place. And, of course, we put it in charge of our
former confrere, Judas. He seemed the appropriate person. Equally of
course, we put a very special roof upon it, the best imitation which
we could contrive of the War Roof, so that none of those grinning
cherubs could see what long reward it was we Twelve who founded
Christianity had contrived for these blasphemers."

"Well, doubtless that was wise."

"Ah, and if we Twelve had our way there would be just such another
roof kept always over Earth. For the slavering madman has left a
many like him clamoring and spewing about the churches that were
named for us Twelve, and in the pulpits of the churches that were
named for us: and we find it embarrassing. It is the doctrine of
Mahound they splutter, and not any doctrine that we ever preached or
even heard of: and they ought to say so fairly, instead of libeling
us who were Apostles and gentlemen. But thus it is that the rascals
make free with our names: and the cherubs keep track of these
antics, and poke fun at us. So that it is not all pleasure, this
being a Holy Apostle in Heaven, Jurgen, though once we Twelve were
happy enough." And St. Peter sighed.

"One thing I did not understand, sir: and that was when you spoke
just now of the War Roof."

"It is a stone roof, made of the two tablets handed down at Sinai,
which God fits over Earth whenever men go to war. For He is
merciful: and many of us here remember that once upon a time we were
men and women. So when men go to war God screens the sight of what
they do, because He wishes to be merciful to us."

"That must prevent, however, the ascent of all prayers that are made
in war-time."

"Why, but, of course, that is the roof's secondary purpose," replied
St. Peter. "What else would you expect when the Master's teachings
are being flouted? Rumors get through, though, somehow, and horribly
preposterous rumors. For instance, I have actually heard that in
war-time prayers are put up to the Lord God to back His favorites
and take part in the murdering. Not," said the good Saint, in haste,
"that I would believe even a Christian bishop to be capable of such
blasphemy: I merely want to show you, Jurgen, what wild stories get
about. Still, I remember, back in Cappadocia--" And then St. Peter
slapped his thigh. "But would you keep me gossiping here forever,
Jurgen, with the Souls lining up at the main entrance like ants that
swarm to molasses! Come, out of Heaven with you, Jurgen! and back to
whatever place you imagine will restore to you your own proper
illusions! and let me be returning to my duties."

"Well, then, St. Peter, I imagine Amneran Heath, where I flung away
my mother's last gift to me."

"And Amneran Heath it is," said St. Peter, as he thrust Jurgen through
the small private door that was carved with fishes in bas-relief.

And Jurgen saw that the Saint spoke truthfully.




43.

Postures before a Shadow


Thus Jurgen stood again upon Amneran Heath. And again it was
Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more than likely to
happen: and the low moon was bright, so that the shadow of Jurgen
was long and thin. And Jurgen searched for the gold cross that he
had worn through motives of sentiment, but he could not find it, nor
did he ever recover it: but barberry bushes and the thorns of
barberry bushes he found in great plenty as he searched vainly. All
the while that he searched, the shirt of Nessus glittered in the
moonlight, and the shadow of Jurgen streamed long and thin, and
every movement that was made by Jurgen the shadow parodied. And as
always, it was the shadow of a lean woman, with her head wrapped in
a towel.

Now Jurgen regarded this shadow, and to Jurgen it was abhorrent.

"Oh, Mother Sereda," says he, "for a whole year your shadow has
dogged me. Many lands we have visited, and many sights we have seen:
and at the end all that we have done is a tale that is told: and it
is a tale that does not matter. So I stand where I stood at the
beginning of my foiled journeying. The gift you gave me has availed
me nothing: and I do not care whether I be young or old: and I have
lost all that remained to me of my mother and of my mother's love,
and I have betrayed my mother's pride in me, and I am weary."

Now a little whispering gathered upon the ground, as though dead
leaves were moving there: and the whispering augmented (because this
was upon Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more than
likely to happen), and the whispering became the ghost of a voice.

"You flattered me very cunningly, Jurgen, for you are a monstrous
clever fellow." This it was that the voice said drily.

"A number of people might say that with tolerable justice," Jurgen
declared: "and yet I guess who speaks. As for flattering you,
godmother, I was only joking that day in Glathion: in fact, I was
careful to explain as much, the moment I noticed your shadow seemed
interested in my idle remarks and was writing them all down in a
notebook. Oh, no, I can assure you I trafficked quite honestly, and
have dealt fairly everywhere. For the rest, I really am very clever:
it would be foolish of me to deny it."

"Vain fool!" said the voice of Mother Sereda.

Jurgen replied: "It may be that I am vain. But it is certain that I
am clever. And even more certain is the fact that I am weary. For,
look you, in the tinsel of my borrowed youth I have gone romancing
through the world; and into lands unvisited by other men have I
ventured, playing at spillikins with women and gear and with the
welfare of kingdoms; and into Hell have I fallen, and into Heaven
have I climbed, and into the place of the Lord God Himself have I
crept stealthily: and nowhere have I found what I desired. Nor do I
know what my desire is, even now. But I know that it is not possible
for me to become young again, whatever I may appear to others."

"Indeed, Jurgen, youth has passed out of your heart, beyond the
reach of Leshy: and the nearest you can come to regaining youth is
to behave childishly."

"O godmother, but do give rein to your better instincts and all that
sort of thing, and speak with me more candidly! Come now, dear lady,
there should be no secrets between you and me. In Leuke you were
reported to be Cybele, the great Res Dea, the mistress of every
tangible thing. In Cocaigne they spoke of you as AEsred. And at
Cameliard Merlin called you Aderes, dark Mother of the Little Gods.
Well, but at your home in the forest, where I first had the honor of
making your acquaintance, godmother, you told me you were Sereda,
who takes the color out of things, and controls all Wednesdays. Now
these anagrams bewilder me, and I desire to know you frankly for
what you are."

"It may be that I am all these. Meanwhile I bleach, and sooner or
later I bleach everything. It may be that some day, Jurgen, I shall
even take the color out of a fool's conception of himself."

"Yes, yes! but just between ourselves, godmother, is it not this
shadow of you that prevents my entering, quite, into the appropriate
emotion, the spirit of the occasion, as one might say, and robs my
life of the zest which other persons apparently get out of living?
Come now, you know it is! Well, and for my part, godmother, I love a
jest as well as any man breathing, but I do prefer to have it
intelligible."

"Now, let me tell you something plainly, Jurgen!" Mother Sereda
cleared her invisible throat, and began to speak rather indignantly.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well, godmother, if you will pardon my frankness, I do not think it
is quite nice to talk about such things, and certainly not with so
much candor. However, dismissing these considerations of delicacy,
let us revert to my original question. You have given me youth and
all the appurtenances of youth: and therewith you have given, too,
in your joking way--which nobody appreciates more heartily than
I,--a shadow that renders all things not quite satisfactory, not
wholly to be trusted, not to be met with frankness. Now--as you
understand, I hope,--I concede the jest, I do not for a moment deny
it is a master-stroke of humor. But, after all, just what exactly is
the point of it? What does it mean?"

"It may be that there is no meaning anywhere. Could you face that
interpretation, Jurgen?"

"No," said Jurgen: "I have faced god and devil, but that I will not
face."

"No more would I who have so many names face that. You jested with
me. So I jest with you. Probably Koshchei jests with all of us. And
he, no doubt--even Koshchei who made things as they are,--is in turn
the butt of some larger jest."

"He may be, certainly," said Jurgen: "yet, on the other hand--"

"About these matters I do not know. How should I? But I think that
all of us take part in a moving and a shifting and a reasoned using
of the things which are Koshchei's, a using such as we do not
comprehend, and are not fit to comprehend."

"That is possible," said Jurgen: "but, none the less--!"

"It is as a chessboard whereon the pieces move diversely: the
knights leaping sidewise, and the bishops darting obliquely, and the
rooks charging straightforward, and the pawns laboriously hobbling
from square to square, each at the player's will. There is no
discernible order, all to the onlooker is manifestly in confusion:
but to the player there is a meaning in the disposition of the
pieces."

"I do not deny it: still, one must grant--"

"And I think it is as though each of the pieces, even the pawns, had
a chessboard of his own which moves as he is moved, and whereupon he
moves the pieces to suit his will, in the very moment wherein he is
moved willy-nilly."

"You may be right: yet, even so--"

"And Koshchei who directs this infinite moving of puppets may well
be the futile harried king in some yet larger game."

"Now, certainly I cannot contradict you: but, at the same time--!"

"So goes this criss-cross multitudinous moving as far as thought can
reach: and beyond that the moving goes. All moves. All moves
uncomprehendingly, and to the sound of laughter. For all moves in
consonance with a higher power that understands the meaning of the
movement. And each moves the pieces before him in consonance with
his ability. So the game is endless and ruthless: and there is
merriment overhead, but it is very far away."

"Nobody is more willing to concede that these are handsome fancies,
Mother Sereda. But they make my head ache. Moreover, two people are
needed to play chess, and your hypothesis does not provide anybody
with an antagonist. Lastly, and above all, how do I know there is a
word of truth in your high-sounding fancies?"

"How can any of us know anything? And what is Jurgen, that his
knowing or his not knowing should matter to anybody?"

Jurgen slapped his hands together. "Hah, Mother Sereda!" says he,
"but now I have you. It is that, precisely that damnable question,
which your shadow has been whispering to me from the beginning of
our companionship. And I am through with you. I will have no more of
your gifts, which are purchased at the cost of hearing that whisper.
I am resolved henceforward to be as other persons, and to believe
implicitly in my own importance."

"But have you any reason to blame me? I restored to you your youth.
And when, just at the passing of that replevined Wednesday which I
loaned, you rebuked the Countess Dorothy very edifyingly, I was
pleased to find a man so chaste: and therefore I continued my grant
of youth--"

"Ah, yes!" said Jurgen: "then that was the way of it! You were
pleased, just in the nick of time, by my virtuous rebuke of the
woman who tempted me. Yes, to be sure. Well, well! come now, you
know, that is very gratifying."

"None the less your chastity, however unusual, has proved a barren
virtue. For what have you made of a year of youth? Why, each thing
that every man of forty-odd by ordinary regrets having done, you
have done again, only more swiftly, compressing the follies of a
quarter of a century into the space of one year. You have sought
bodily pleasures. You have made jests. You have asked many idle
questions. And you have doubted all things, including Jurgen. In the
face of your memories, in the face of what you probably considered
cordial repentance, you have made of your second youth just nothing.
Each thing that every man of forty-odd regrets having done, you have
done again."

"Yes: it is undeniable that I re-married," said Jurgen. "Indeed, now
I think of it, there was Anaitis and Chloris and Florimel, so that I
have married thrice in one year. But I am largely the victim of
heredity, you must remember, since it was without consulting me that
Smoit of Glathion perpetuated his characteristics."

"Your marriages I do not criticize, for each was in accordance with
the custom of the country: the law is always respectable; and
matrimony is an honorable estate, and has a steadying influence, in
all climes. It is true my shadow reports several other affairs--"

"Oh, godmother, and what is this you are telling me!"

"There was a Yolande and a Guenevere"--the voice of Mother Sereda
appeared to read from a memorandum,--"and a Sylvia, who was your own
step-grandmother, and a Stella, who was a yogini, whatever that may
be; and a Phyllis and a Dolores, who were the queens of Hell and
Philistia severally. Moreover, you visited the Queen of Pseudopolis
in circumstances which could not but have been unfavorably viewed by
her husband. Oh, yes, you have committed follies with divers women."

"Follies, it may be, but no crimes, not even a misdemeanor. Look
you, Mother Sereda, does your shadow report in all this year one
single instance of misconduct with a woman?" says Jurgen, sternly.

"No, dearie, as I joyfully concede. The very worst reported is that
matters were sometimes assuming a more or less suspicious turn when
you happened to put out the light. And, of course, shadows cannot
exist in absolute darkness."

"See now," said Jurgen, "what a thing it is to be careful! Careful,
I mean, in one's avoidance of even an appearance of evil. In what
other young man of twenty-one may you look to find such continence?
And yet you grumble!"

"I do not complain because you have lived chastely. That pleases me,
and is the single reason you have been spared this long."

"Oh, godmother, and whatever are you telling me!"

"Yes, dearie, had you once sinned with a woman in the youth I gave,
you would have been punished instantly and very terribly. For I was
always a great believer in chastity, and in the old days I used to
insure the chastity of all my priests in the only way that is
infallible."

"In fact, I noticed something of the sort as you passed in Leuke."

"And over and over again I have been angered by my shadow's reports,
and was about to punish you, my poor dearie, when I would remember
that you held fast to the rarest of all virtues in a man, and that
my shadow reported no irregularities with women. And that would
please me, I acknowledge: so I would let matters run on a while
longer. But it is a shiftless business, dearie, for you are making
nothing of the youth I restored to you. And had you a thousand lives
the result would be the same."

"Nevertheless, I am a monstrous clever fellow." Jurgen chuckled
here.

"You are, instead, a palterer; and your life, apart from that fine
song you made about me, is sheer waste."

"Ah, if you come to that, there was a brown man in the Druid forest,
who showed me a very curious spectacle, last June. And I am not apt
to lose the memory of what he showed me, whatever you may say, and
whatever I may have said to him."

"This and a many other curious spectacles you have seen and have
made nothing of, in the false youth I gave you. And therefore my
shadow was angry that in the revelation of so much futile trifling I
did not take away the youth I gave--as I have half a mind to do,
even now, I warn you, dearie, for there is really no putting up with
you. But I spared you because of my shadow's grudging reports as to
your continence, which is a virtue that we of the Leshy peculiarly
revere."

Now Jurgen considered. "Eh?--then it is within your ability to make
me old again, or rather, an excellently preserved person of forty-odd,
or say, thirty-nine, by the calendar, but not looking it by a long
shot? Such threats are easily voiced. But how can I know that you are
speaking the truth?"

"How can any of us know anything? And what is Jurgen, that his
knowing or his not knowing should matter to anybody?"

"Ah, godmother, and must you still be mumbling that! Come now,
forget you are a woman, and be reasonable! You exercise the fair and
ancient privilege of kinship by calling me harsh names, but it is in
the face of this plain fact: I got from you what never man has got
before. I am a monstrous clever fellow, say what you will: for
already I have cajoled you out of a year of youth, a year wherein I
have neither builded nor robbed any churches, but have had upon the
whole a very pleasant time. Ah, you may murmur platitudes and
threats and axioms and anything else which happens to appeal to you:
the fact remains that I got what I wanted. Yes, I cajoled you very
neatly into giving me eternal youth. For, of course, poor dear, you
are now powerless to take it back: and so I shall retain, in spite
of you, the most desirable possession in life."

"I gave, in honor of your chastity, which is the one commendable
trait that you possess--"

"My chastity, I grant you, is remarkable. Nevertheless, you really
gave because I was the cleverer."

"--And what I give I can retract at will!"

"Come, come, you know very well you can do nothing of the sort. I
refer you to Saevius Nicanor. None of the Leshy can ever take back
the priceless gift of youth. That is explicitly proved, in the
Appendix."

"Now, but I am becoming angry--"

"To the contrary, as I perceive with real regret, you are becoming
ridiculous, since you dispute the authority of Saevius Nicanor."

"--And I will show you--oh, but I will show you, you jackanapes!"

"Ah, but come now! keep your temper in hand! All fairly erudite
persons know you cannot do the thing you threaten: and it is
notorious that the weakest wheel of every cart creaks loudest. So do
you cultivate a judicious taciturnity! for really nobody is going to
put up with petulance in an ugly and toothless woman of your age, as
I tell you for your own good."

It always vexes people to be told anything for their own good. So
what followed happened quickly. A fleece of cloud slipped over the
moon. The night seemed bitterly cold, for the space of a heart-beat,
and then matters were comfortable enough. The moon emerged in its
full glory, and there in front of Jurgen was the proper shadow of
Jurgen. He dazedly regarded his hands, and they were the hands of an
elderly person. He felt the calves of his legs, and they were
shrunken. He patted himself centrally, and underneath the shirt of
Nessus the paunch of Jurgen was of impressive dimension. In other
respects he had abated.

"Then, too, I have forgotten something very suddenly," reflected
Jurgen. "It was something I wanted to forget. Ah, yes! but what was
it that I wanted to forget? Why, there was a brown man--with
something unusual about his feet--He talked nonsense and behaved
idiotically in a Druid forest--He was probably insane. No, I do not
remember what it was that I have forgotten: but I am sure it has
gnawed away in the back of my mind, like a small ruinous maggot: and
that, after all, it was of no importance."

Aloud he wailed, in his most moving tones: "Oh, Mother Sereda, I did
not mean to anger you. It was not fair to snap me up on a
thoughtless word! Have mercy upon me, Mother Sereda, for I would
never have alluded to your being so old and plain-looking if I had
known you were so vain!"

But Mother Sereda did not appear to be softened by this form of
entreaty, for nothing happened.

"Well, then, thank goodness, that is over!" says Jurgen, to himself.
"Of course, she may be listening still, and it is dangerous jesting
with the Leshy: but really they do not seem to be very intelligent.
Otherwise this irritable maunderer would have known that, everything
else apart, I am heartily tired of the responsibilities of youth
under any such constant surveillance. Now all is changed: there is
no call to avoid a suspicion of wrong doing by transacting all
philosophical investigations in the dark: and I am no longer
distrustful of lamps or candles, or even of sunlight. Old body, you
are as grateful as old slippers, to a somewhat wearied man: and for
the second time I have tricked Mother Sereda rather neatly. My
knowledge of Lisa, however painfully acquired, is a decided
advantage in dealing with anything that is feminine."

Then Jurgen regarded the black cave. "And that reminds me it still
would be, I suppose, the manly thing to continue my quest for Lisa.
The intimidating part is that if I go into this cave for the third
time I shall almost certainly get her back. By every rule of
tradition the third attempt is invariably successful. I wonder if I
want Lisa back?"

Jurgen meditated: and he shook a grizzled head. "I do not definitely
know. She was an excellent cook. There were pies that I shall always
remember with affection. And she meant well, poor dear! But then if
it was really her head that I sliced off last May--or if her temper
is not any better--Still, it is an interminable nuisance washing
your own dishes: and I appear to have no aptitude whatever for
sewing and darning things. But, to the other hand, Lisa nags so: and
she does not understand me--"

Jurgen shrugged. "See-saw! the argument for and against might run on
indefinitely. Since I have no real preference, I will humor
prejudice by doing the manly thing. For it seems only fair: and
besides, it may fail after all"

Then he went into the cave for the third time.




44.

In the Manager's Office


The tale tells that all was dark there, and Jurgen could see no one.
But the cave stretched straight forward, and downward, and at the
far end was a glow of light. Jurgen went on and on, and so came to
the place where Nessus had lain in wait for Jurgen. Again Jurgen
stooped, and crawled through the opening in the cave's wall, and so
came to where lamps were burning upon tall iron stands. Now, one by
one, these lamps were going out, and there were now no women here:
instead, Jurgen trod inch deep in fine white ashes, leaving the
print of his feet upon them.

He went forward as the cave stretched. He came to a sharp turn in
the cave, with the failing lamplight now behind him, so that his
shadow confronted Jurgen, blurred but unarguable. It was the proper
shadow of a commonplace and elderly pawnbroker, and Jurgen regarded
it with approval.

Jurgen came then into a sort of underground chamber, from the roof
of which was suspended a kettle of quivering red flames. Facing him
was a throne, and back of this were rows of benches: but here, too,
was nobody. Resting upright against the vacant throne was a
triangular white shield: and when Jurgen looked more closely he
could see there was writing upon it. Jurgen carried this shield as
close as he could to the kettle of flames, for his eyesight was now
not very good, and besides, the flames in the kettle were burning
low: and Jurgen deciphered the message that was written upon the
shield, in black and red letters.

"Absent upon important affairs," it said. "Will be back in an hour."
And it was signed, "Thragnar R."

"I wonder now for whom King Thragnar left this notice?" reflected
Jurgen--"certainly not for me. And I wonder, too, if he left it here
a year ago or only this evening? And I wonder if it was Thragnar's
head I removed in the black and silver pavilion? Ah, well, there are
a number of things to wonder about in this incredible cave, wherein
the lights are dying out, as I observe with some discomfort. And I
think the air grows chillier."

Then Jurgen looked to his right, at the stairway which he and
Guenevere had ascended; and he shook his head. "Glathion is no fit
resort for a respectable pawnbroker. Chivalry is for young people,
like the late Duke of Logreus. But I must get out of this place, for
certainly there is in the air a deathlike chill."

So Jurgen went on down the aisle between the rows of benches
wherefrom Thragnar's warriors had glared at Jurgen when he was last
in this part of the cave. At the end of the aisle was a wooden door
painted white. It was marked, in large black letters, "Office of the
Manager--Keep Out." So Jurgen opened this door.

He entered into a notable place illuminated by six cresset lights.
These lights were the power of Assyria, and Nineveh, and Egypt, and
Rome, and Athens, and Byzantium: six other cressets stood ready
there, but fire had not yet been laid to these. Back of all was a
large blackboard with much figuring on it in red chalk. And here,
too, was the black gentleman, who a year ago had given his blessing
to Jurgen, for speaking civilly of the powers of darkness. To-night
the black gentleman wore a black dressing-gown that was embroidered
with all the signs of the Zodiac. He sat at a table, the top of
which was curiously inlaid with thirty pieces of silver: and he was
copying entries from one big book into another. He looked up from
his writing pleasantly enough, and very much as though he were
expecting Jurgen.

"You find me busy with the Stellar Accounts," says he, "which appear
to be in a fearful muddle. But what more can I do for you,
Jurgen?--for you, my friend, who spoke a kind word for things as
they are, and furnished me with one or two really very acceptable
explanations as to why I had created evil?"

"I have been thinking, Prince--" begins the pawnbroker.

"And why do you call me a prince, Jurgen?"

"I do not know, sir. But I suspect that my quest is ended, and that
you are Koshchei the Deathless."

The black gentleman nodded. "Something of the sort. Koshchei, or
Ardnari, or Ptha, or Jaldalaoth, or Abraxas,--it is all one what I
may be called hereabouts. My real name you never heard: no man has
ever heard my name. So that matter we need hardly go into."

"Precisely, Prince. Well, but it is a long way that I have traveled
roundabout, to win to you who made things as they are. And it is
eager I am to learn just why you made things as they are."

Up went the black gentleman's eyebrows into regular Gothic arches.
"And do you really think, Jurgen, that I am going to explain to you
why I made things as they are?"

"I fail to see, Prince, how my wanderings could have any other
equitable climax."

"But, friend, I have nothing to do with justice. To the contrary, I
am Koshchei who made things as they are."

Jurgen saw the point. "Your reasoning, Prince, is unanswerable. I
bow to it. I should even have foreseen it. Do you tell me, then,
what thing is this which I desire, and cannot find in any realm that
man has known nor in any kingdom that man has imagined."

Koshchei was very patient. "I am not, I confess, anything like as
well acquainted with what has been going on in this part of the
universe as I ought to be. Of course, events are reported to me, in
a general sort of way, and some of my people were put in charge of
these stars, a while back: but they appear to have run the
constellation rather shiftlessly. Still, I have recently been
figuring on the matter, and I do not despair of putting the suns
hereabouts to some profitable use, in one way or another, after all.
Of course, it is not as if it were an important constellation. But I
am an Economist, and I dislike waste--"

Then he was silent for an instant, not greatly worried by the
problem, as Jurgen could see, but mildly vexed by his inability to
divine the solution out of hand. Presently Koshchei said:

"And in the mean time, Jurgen, I am afraid I cannot answer your
question on the spur of the moment. You see, there appears to have
been a great number of human beings, as you call them, evolved
upon--oh, yes!--upon Earth. I have the approximate figures over
yonder, but they would hardly interest you. And the desires of each
one of these human beings seem to have been multitudinous and
inconstant. Yet, Jurgen, you might appeal to the local authorities,
for I remember appointing some, at the request of a very charming
old lady."

"In fine, you do not know what thing it is that I desire," said
Jurgen, much surprised.

"Why, no, I have not the least notion," replied Koshchei. "Still, I
suspect that if you got it you would protest it was a most unjust
affliction. So why keep worrying about it?"

Jurgen demanded, almost indignantly: "But have you not then, Prince,
been guiding all my journeying during this last year?"

"Now, really, Jurgen, I remember our little meeting very pleasantly.
And I endeavored forthwith to dispose of your most urgent annoyance.
But I confess I have had one or two other matters upon my mind since
then. You see, Jurgen, the universe is rather large, and the running
of it is a considerable tax upon my time. I cannot manage to see
anything like as much of my friends as I would be delighted to see
of them. And so perhaps, what with one thing and another, I have not
given you my undivided attention all through the year--not every
moment of it, that is."

"Ah, Prince, I see that you are trying to spare my feelings, and it
is kind of you. But the upshot is that you do not know what I have
been doing, and you did not care what I was doing. Dear me! but this
is a very sad come-down for my pride."

"Yes, but reflect how remarkable a possession is that pride of
yours, and how I wonder at it, and how I envy it in vain,--I, who
have nothing anywhere to contemplate save my own handiwork. Do you
consider, Jurgen, what I would give if I could find, anywhere in
this universe of mine, anything which would make me think myself
one-half so important as you think Jurgen is!" And Koshchei sighed.

But instead, Jurgen considered the humiliating fact that Koshchei
had not been supervising Jurgen's travels. And of a sudden Jurgen
perceived that this Koshchei the Deathless was not particularly
intelligent. Then Jurgen wondered why he should ever have expected
Koshchei to be intelligent? Koshchei was omnipotent, as men estimate
omnipotence: but by what course of reasoning had people come to
believe that Koshchei was clever, as men estimate cleverness? The
fact that, to the contrary, Koshchei seemed well-meaning, but rather
slow of apprehension and a little needlessly fussy, went far toward
explaining a host of matters which had long puzzled Jurgen.
Cleverness was, of course, the most admirable of all traits: but
cleverness was not at the top of things, and never had been.  "Very
well, then!" says Jurgen, with a shrug; "let us come to my third
request and to the third thing that I have been seeking. Here,
though, you ought to be more communicative. For I have been
thinking, Prince, my wife's society is perhaps becoming to you a
trifle burdensome."

"Eh, sirs, I am not unaccustomed to women. I may truthfully say that
as I find them, so do I take them. And I was willing to oblige a
fellow rebel."

"But I do not know, Prince, that I have ever rebelled. Far from it,
I have everywhere conformed with custom."

"Your lips conformed, but all the while your mind made verses,
Jurgen. And poetry is man's rebellion against being what he is."

"--And besides, you call me a fellow rebel. Now, how can it be
possible that Koshchei, who made all things as they are, should be a
rebel? unless, indeed, there is some power above even Koshchei. I
would very much like to have that explained to me, sir."

"No doubt: but then why should I explain it to you, Jurgen?" says
the black gentleman.

"Well, be that as it may, Prince! But--to return a little--I do not
know that you have obliged me in carrying off my wife. I mean, of
course, my first wife."

"Why, Jurgen," says the black gentleman, in high astonishment, "do
you mean to tell me that you want the plague of your life back
again!"

"I do not know about that either, sir. She was certainly very hard
to live with. On the other hand, I had become used to having her
about. I rather miss her, now that I am again an elderly person.
Indeed, I believe I have missed Lisa all along."

The black gentleman meditated. "Come, friend," he says, at last. "You
were a poet of some merit. You displayed a promising talent which might
have been cleverly developed, in any suitable environment. Now, I
repeat, I am an Economist: I dislike waste: and you were never fitted
to be anything save a poet. The trouble was"--and Koshchei lowered his
voice to an impressive whisper,--"the trouble was your wife did not
understand you. She hindered your art. Yes, that precisely sums it up:
she interfered with your soul-development, and your instinctive need of
self-expression, and all that sort of thing. You are very well rid of
this woman, who converted a poet into a pawnbroker. To the other side,
as is with point observed somewhere or other, it is not good for man to
live alone. But, friend, I have just the wife for you."

"Well, Prince," said Jurgen, "I am willing to taste any drink once."

So Koshchei waved his hand: and there, quick as winking, was the
loveliest lady that Jurgen had ever imagined.




45.

The Faith of Guenevere


Very fair was this woman to look upon, with her shining gray eyes and
small smiling lips, a fairer woman might no man boast of having seen.
And she regarded Jurgen graciously, with her cheeks red and white, very
lovely to observe. She was clothed in a robe of flame-colored silk, and
about her neck was a collar of red gold. And she told him, quite as
though she spoke with a stranger, that she was Queen Guenevere.

"But Lancelot is turned monk, at Glastonbury: and Arthur is gone
into Avalon," says she: "and I will be your wife if you will have
me, Jurgen."

And Jurgen saw that Guenevere did not know him at all, and that even
his name to her was meaningless. There were a many ways of accounting
for this: but he put aside the unflattering explanation that she had
simply forgotten all about Jurgen, in favor of the reflection that the
Jurgen she had known was a scapegrace of twenty-one. Whereas he was
now a staid and knowledgeable pawnbroker.

And it seemed to Jurgen that he had never really loved any woman
save Guenevere, the daughter of Gogyrvan Gawr, and the pawnbroker
was troubled.

"For again you make me think myself a god," says Jurgen. "Madame
Guenevere, when man recognized himself to be Heaven's vicar upon
earth, it was to serve and to glorify and to protect you and your
radiant sisterhood that man consecrated his existence. You were
beautiful, and you were frail; you were half goddess and half
bric-a-brac. Ohime, I recognize the call of chivalry, and my
heart-strings resound: yet, for innumerable reasons, I hesitate
to take you for my wife, and to concede myself your appointed
protector, responsible as such to Heaven. For one matter, I am not
altogether sure that I am Heaven's vicar here upon earth. Certainly
the God of Heaven said nothing to me about it, and I cannot but
suspect that Omniscience would have selected some more competent
representative."

"It is so written, Messire Jurgen."

Jurgen shrugged. "I too, in the intervals of business, have written
much that is beautiful. Very often my verses were so beautiful that
I would have given anything in the world in exchange for somewhat
less sure information as to the author's veracity. Ah, no, madame,
desire and knowledge are pressing me so sorely that, between them, I
dare not love you, and still I cannot help it!"

Then Jurgen gave a little wringing gesture with his hands. His smile
was not merry; and it seemed pitiful that Guenevere should not
remember him.

"Madame and queen," says Jurgen, "once long and long ago there was a
man who worshipped all women. To him they were one and all of
sacred, sweet intimidating beauty. He shaped sonorous rhymes of
this, in praise of the mystery and sanctity of women. Then a count's
tow-headed daughter whom he loved, with such love as it puzzles me
to think of now, was shown to him just as she was, as not even
worthy of hatred. The goddess stood revealed, unveiled, and
displaying in all things such mediocrity as he fretted to find in
himself. That was unfortunate. For he began to suspect that women,
also, are akin to their parents; and are no wiser, and no more
subtle, and no more immaculate, than the father who begot them.
Madame and queen, it is not good for any man to suspect this."

"It is certainly not the conduct of a chivalrous person, nor of an
authentic poet," says Queen Guenevere. "And yet your eyes are big
with tears."

"Hah, madame," he replied, "but it amuses me to weep for a dead man
with eyes that once were his. For he was a dear lad before he went
rampaging through the world, in the pride of his youth and in the
armor of his hurt. And songs he made for the pleasure of kings, and
sword play he made for the pleasure of men, and a whispering he made
for the pleasure of women, in places where renown was, and where he
trod boldly, giving pleasure to everybody in those fine days. But
for all his laughter, he could not understand his fellows, nor could
he love them, nor could he detect anything in aught they said or did
save their exceeding folly."

"Why, man's folly is indeed very great, Messire Jurgen, and the
doings of this world are often inexplicable: and so does it come
about that man can be saved by faith alone."

"Ah, but this boy had lost his fellows' cordial common faith in the
importance of what use they made of half-hours and months and years;
and because a jill-flirt had opened his eyes so that they saw too
much, he had lost faith in the importance of his own actions, too.
There was a little time of which the passing might be made not
unendurable; beyond gaped unpredictable darkness; and that was all
there was of certainty anywhere. Meanwhile, he had the loan of a
brain which played with ideas, and a body that went delicately down
pleasant ways. And so he was never the mate for you, dear Guenevere,
because he had not sufficient faith in anything at all, not even in
his own deductions."

Now said Queen Guenevere: "Farewell to you, then, Jurgen, for it is
I that am leaving you forever. I was to them that served me the
lovely and excellent masterwork of God: in Caerleon and Northgalis
and at Joyeuse Garde might men behold me with delight, because, men
said, to view me was to comprehend the power and kindliness of their
Creator. Very beautiful was Iseult, and the face of Luned sparkled
like a moving gem; Morgaine and Enid and Viviane and shrewd Nimue
were lovely, too; and the comeliness of Ettarde exalted the beholder
like a proud music: these, going statelily about Arthur's hall,
seemed Heaven's finest craftsmanship until the Queen came to her
dais, as the moon among glowing stars: men then affirmed that God in
making Guenevere had used both hands. And it is I that am leaving
you forever. My beauty was no human white and red, said they, but an
explicit sign of Heaven's might. In approaching me men thought of
God, because in me, they said, His splendor was incarnate. That
which I willed was neither right nor wrong: it was divine. This
thing it was that the knights saw in me; this surety, as to the
power and kindliness of their great Father, it was of which the
chevaliers of yesterday were conscious in beholding me, and of men's
need to be worthy of such parentage; and it is I that am leaving you
forever."

Said Jurgen: "I could not see all this in you, not quite all this,
because of a shadow that followed me. Now it is too late, and this
is a sorrowful thing which is happening. I am become as a rudderless
boat that goes from wave to wave: I am turned to unfertile dust
which a whirlwind makes coherent, and presently lets fall. And so,
farewell to you, Queen Guenevere, for it is a sorrowful thing and a
very unfair thing that is happening."

Thus he cried farewell to the daughter of Gogyrvan Gawr. And
instantly she vanished like the flame of a blown out altar-candle.




46.

The Desire of Anaitis


And again Koshchei waved his hand. Then came to Jurgen a woman who
was strangely gifted and perverse. Her dark eyes glittered: upon her
head was a net-work of red coral, with branches radiating downward,
and her tunic was of two colors, being shot with black and crimson
curiously mingled.

And Anaitis also had forgotten Jurgen, or else she did not recognize
him in this man of forty and something: and again belief awoke in
Jurgen's heart that this was the only woman whom Jurgen had really
loved, as he listened to Anaitis and to her talk of marvelous
things.

Of the lore of Thais she spoke, and of the schooling of Sappho, and
of the secrets of Rhodope, and of the mourning for Adonis: and the
refrain of all her talking was not changed. "For we have but a
little while to live, and none knows his fate thereafter. So that a
man possesses nothing certainly save a brief loan of his own body:
and yet the body of man is capable of much curious pleasure. As thus
and thus," says she. And the bright-colored pensive woman spoke with
antique directness of matters that Jurgen, being no longer a
scapegrace of twenty-one, found rather embarrassing.

"Come, come!" thinks he, "but it will never do to seem provincial. I
believe that I am actually blushing."

Aloud he said: "Sweetheart, there was--why, not a half-hour
since!--a youth who sought quite zealously for the over-mastering
frenzies you prattle about. But, candidly, he could not find the
flesh whose touch would rouse insanity. The lad had opportunities,
too, let me tell you! Hah, I recall with tenderness the glitter of
eyes and hair, and the gay garments, and the soft voices of those
fond foolish women, even now. But he went from one pair of lips to
another, with an ardor that was always half-feigned, and with
protestations which were conscious echoes of some romance or other.
Such escapades were pleasant enough: but they were not very serious,
after all. For these things concerned his body alone: and I am more
than an edifice of viands reared by my teeth. To pretend that what
my body does or endures is of importance seems rather silly
nowadays. I prefer to regard it as a necessary beast of burden which
I maintain, at considerable expense and trouble. So I shall make no
more pother about it."

But then again Queen Anaitis spoke of marvelous things; and he
listened, fair-mindedly; for the Queen spoke now of that which was
hers to share with him.

"Well, I have heard," says Jurgen, "that you have a notable
residence in Cocaigne."

"But that is only a little country place, to which I sometimes
repair in summer, in order to live rustically. No, Jurgen, you must
see my palaces. In Babylon I have a palace where many abide with
cords about them and burn bran for perfume, while they await that
thing which is to befall them. In Armenia I have a palace surrounded
by vast gardens, where only strangers have the right to enter: they
there receive a hospitality that is more than gallant. In Paphos I
have a palace wherein is a little pyramid of white stone, very
curious to see: but still more curious is the statue in my palace at
Amathus, of a bearded woman, which displays other features that
women do not possess. And in Alexandria I have a palace that is
tended by thirty-six exceedingly wise and sacred persons, and
wherein it is always night: and there folk seek for monstrous
pleasures, even at the price of instant death, and win to both of
these swiftly. Everywhere my palaces stand upon high places near the
sea: so they are beheld from afar by those whom I hold dearest, my
beautiful broad-chested mariners, who do not fear even me, but know
that in my palaces they will find notable employment. For I must
tell you of what is to be encountered within these places that are
mine, and of how pleasantly we pass our time there." Then she told
him.

Now he listened more attentively than ever, and his eyes were
narrowed, and his lips were lax and motionless and foolish-looking,
and he was deeply interested. For Anaitis had thought of some new
diversions since their last meeting: and to Jurgen, even at forty
and something, this queen's voice was all a horrible and strange and
lovely magic. "She really tempts very nicely, too," he reflected,
with a sort of pride in her.

Then Jurgen growled and shook himself, half angrily: and he tweaked
the ear of Queen Anaitis.

"Sweetheart," says he, "you paint a glowing picture: but you are
shrewd enough to borrow your pigments from the day-dreams of
inexperience. What you prattle about is not at all as you describe
it. You forget you are talking to a widely married man of varied
experience. Moreover, I shudder to think of what might happen if
Lisa were to walk in unexpectedly. And for the rest, all this to-do
over nameless delights and unspeakable caresses and other anonymous
antics seems rather naive. My ears are beset by eloquent gray hairs
which plead at closer quarters than does that fibbing little tongue
of yours. And so be off with you!"

With that Queen Anaitis smiled very cruelly, and she said: "Farewell
to you, then Jurgen, for it is I that am leaving you forever.
Henceforward you must fret away much sunlight by interminably
shunning discomfort and by indulging tepid preferences. For I, and
none but I, can waken that desire which uses all of a man, and so
wastes nothing, even though it leave that favored man forever after
like wan ashes in the sunlight. And with you I have no more concern,
for it is I that am leaving you forever. Join with your graying
fellows, then! and help them to affront the clean sane sunlight, by
making guilds and laws and solemn phrases wherewith to rid the world
of me. I, Anaitis, laugh, and my heart is a wave in the sunlight.
For there is no power like my power, and no living thing which can
withstand my power; and those who deride me, as I well know, are but
the dead dry husks that a wind moves, with hissing noises, while I
harvest in open sunlight. For I am the desire that uses all of a
man: and it is I that am leaving you forever."

Said Jurgen: "I could not see all this in you, not quite all this,
because of a shadow that followed me. Now it is too late, and this
is a sorrowful thing which is happening. I am become as a puzzled
ghost who furtively observes the doings of loud-voiced ruddy
persons: and I am compact of weariness and apprehension, for I no
longer discern what thing is I, nor what is my desire, and I fear
that I am already dead. So farewell to you, Queen Anaitis, for this,
too, is a sorrowful thing and a very unfair thing that is
happening."

Thus he cried farewell to the Sun's daughter. And all the colors of
her loveliness flickered and merged into the likeness of a tall thin
flame, that aspired; and then this flame was extinguished.




47.

The Vision of Helen


And for the third time Koshchei waved his hand. Now came to Jurgen a
gold-haired woman, clothed all in white. She was tall, and lovely
and tender to regard: and hers was not the red and white comeliness
of many ladies that were famed for beauty, but rather it had the
even glow of ivory. Her nose was large and high in the bridge, her
flexible mouth was not of the smallest; and yet, whatever other
persons might have said, to Jurgen this woman's countenance was in
all things perfect. And, beholding her, Jurgen kneeled.

He hid his face in her white robe: and he stayed thus, without
speaking, for a long while.

"Lady of my vision," he said, and his voice broke--"there is that in
you which wakes old memories. For now assuredly I believe your
father was not Dom Manuel but that ardent bird which nestled very
long ago in Leda's bosom. And now Troy's sons are all in Ades'
keeping, in the world below; fire has consumed the walls of Troy,
and the years have forgotten her tall conquerors; but still you are
bringing woe on woe to hapless sufferers."

And again his voice broke. For the world seemed cheerless, and like
a house that none has lived in for a great while.

Queen Helen, the delight of gods and men, replied nothing at all,
because there was no need, inasmuch as the man who has once glimpsed
her loveliness is beyond saving, and beyond the desire of being
saved.

"To-night," says Jurgen, "as once through the gray art of Phobetor,
now through the will of Koshchei, it appears that you stand within
arm's reach. Hah, lady, were that possible--and I know very well it
is not possible, whatever my senses may report,--I am not fit to
mate with your perfection. At the bottom of my heart, I no longer
desire perfection. For we who are tax-payers as well as immortal
souls must live by politic evasions and formulae and catchwords that
fret away our lives as moths waste a garment; we fall insensibly to
common-sense as to a drug; and it dulls and kills whatever in us is
rebellious and fine and unreasonable; and so you will find no man of
my years with whom living is not a mechanism which gnaws away time
unprompted. For within this hour I have become again a creature of
use and wont; I am the lackey of prudence and half-measures; and I
have put my dreams upon an allowance. Yet even now I love you more
than I love books and indolence and flattery and the charitable wine
which cheats me into a favorable opinion of myself. What more can an
old poet say? For that reason, lady, I pray you begone, because your
loveliness is a taunt which I find unendurable."

But his voice yearned, because this was Queen Helen, the delight of
gods and men, who regarded him with grave, kind eyes. She seemed to
view, as one appraises the pattern of an unrolled carpet, every
action of Jurgen's life: and she seemed, too, to wonder, without
reproach or trouble, how men could be so foolish, and of their own
accord become so miry.

"Oh, I have failed my vision!" cries Jurgen. "I have failed, and I
know very well that every man must fail: and yet my shame is no less
bitter. For I am transmuted by time's handling! I shudder at the
thought of living day-in and day-out with my vision! And so I will
have none of you for my wife."

Then, trembling, Jurgen raised toward his lips the hand of her who
was the world's darling.

"And so farewell to you, Queen Helen! Oh, very long ago I found your
beauty mirrored in a wanton's face! and often in a woman's face I
have found one or another feature wherein she resembled you, and for
the sake of it have lied to that woman glibly. And all my verses, as
I know now, were vain enchantments striving to evoke that hidden
loveliness of which I knew by dim report alone. Oh, all my life was
a foiled quest of you, Queen Helen, and an unsatiated hungering. And
for a while I served my vision, honoring you with clean-handed
deeds. Yes, certainly it should be graved upon my tomb, 'Queen Helen
ruled this earth while it stayed worthy.' But that was very long
ago.

"And so farewell to you, Queen Helen! Your beauty has been to me as
a robber that stripped my life of joy and sorrow, and I desire not
ever to dream of your beauty any more. For I have been able to love
nobody. And I know that it is you who have prevented this, Queen
Helen, at every moment of my life since the disastrous moment when I
first seemed to find your loveliness in the face of Madame Dorothy.
It is the memory of your beauty, as I then saw it mirrored in the face
of a jill-flirt, which has enfeebled me for such honest love as other
men give women; and I envy these other men. For Jurgen has loved
nothing--not even you, not even Jurgen!--quite whole-heartedly.

"And so farewell to you, Queen Helen! Hereafter I rove no more
a-questing anything; instead, I potter after hearthside comforts,
and play the physician with myself, and strive painstakingly to make
old bones. And no man's notion anywhere seems worth a cup of mulled
wine; and for the sake of no notion would I endanger the routine
which so hideously bores me. For I am transmuted by time's handling;
I have become the lackey of prudence and half-measures; and it does
not seem fair, but there is no help for it. So it is necessary that
I now cry farewell to you, Queen Helen: for I have failed in the
service of my vision, and I deny you utterly!"

Thus he cried farewell to the Swan's daughter: and Queen Helen
vanished as a bright mist passes, not departing swiftly, as had
departed Queen Guenevere and Queen Anaitis; and Jurgen was alone
with the black gentleman. And to Jurgen the world seemed cheerless,
and like a house that none has lived in for a great while.




48.

Candid Opinions of Dame Lisa


"Eh, sirs!" observes Koshchei the Deathless, "but some of us are
certainly hard to please." And now Jurgen was already intent to
shrug off his display of emotion. "In selecting a wife, sir,"
submitted Jurgen, "there are all sorts of matters to be
considered--"

Then bewilderment smote him. For it occurred to Jurgen that his
previous commerce with these three women was patently unknown to
Koshchei. Why, Koshchei, who made all things as they are--Koshchei,
no less--was now doing for Jurgen Koshchei's utmost: and that utmost
amounted to getting for Jurgen what Jurgen had once, with the aid of
youth and impudence, got for himself. Not even Koshchei, then, could
do more for Jurgen than might be accomplished by that youth and
impudence and tendency to pry into things generally which Jurgen had
just relinquished as over-restless nuisances. Jurgen drew the
inference, and shrugged; decidedly cleverness was not at the top.
However, there was no pressing need to enlighten Koshchei, and no
wisdom in attempting it.

"--For you must understand, sir," continued Jurgen, smoothly, "that,
whatever the first impulse of the moment, it was apparent to any
reflective person that in the past of each of these ladies there was
much to suggest inborn inaptitude for domestic life. And I am a
peace-loving fellow, sir; nor do I hold with moral laxity, now that
I am forty-odd, except, of course, in talk when it promotes
sociability, and in verse-making wherein it is esteemed as a
conventional ornament. Still, Prince, the chance I lost! I do not
refer to matrimony, you conceive. But in the presence of these
famous fair ones now departed from me forever, with what glowing
words I ought to have spoken! upon a wondrous ladder of trophes,
metaphors and recondite allusions, to what stylistic heights of
Asiatic prose I ought to have ascended! and instead, I twaddled like
a schoolmaster. Decidedly, Lisa is right, and I am good-for-nothing.
However," Jurgen added, hopefully, "it appeared to me that when I
last saw her, a year ago this evening, Lisa was somewhat less
outspoken than usual."

"Eh, sirs, but she was under a very potent spell. I found that
necessary in the interest of law and order hereabouts. I, who made
things as they are, am not accustomed to the excesses of practical
persons who are ruthlessly bent upon reforming their associates.
Indeed, it is one of the advantages of my situation that such folk
do not consider things as they are, and in consequence very rarely
bother me." And the black gentleman in turn shrugged. "You will
pardon me, but I notice in my accounts that I am positively
committed to color this year's anemones to-night, and there is a
rather large planetary system to be discontinued at half-past ten.
So time presses."

"And time is inexorable. Prince, with all due respect, I fancy it is
precisely this truism which you have overlooked. You produce the
most charming of women, in a determined onslaught upon my fancy; but
you forget you are displaying them to a man of forty-and-something."

"And does that make so great a difference?"

"Oh, a sad difference, Prince! For as a man gets on in life he
changes in many ways. He handles sword and lance less creditably,
and does not carry as heavy a staff as he once flourished. He takes
less interest in conversation, and his flow of humor diminishes. He
is not the tireless mathematician that he was, if only because his
faith in his personal endowments slackens. He recognizes his
limitations, and in consequence the unimportance of his opinions,
and indeed he recognizes the probable unimportance of all fleshly
matters. So he relinquishes trying to figure out things, and
sceptres and candles appear to him about equivalent; and he is
inclined to give up philosophical experiments, and to let things
pass unplumbed. Oh, yes, it makes a difference." And Jurgen sighed.
"And yet, for all that, it is a relief, sir, in a way."

"Nevertheless," said Koshchei, "now that you have inspected the
flower of womanhood, I cannot soberly believe you prefer your
termagant of a wife."

"Frankly, Prince, I also am, as usual, undecided. You may be right
in all you have urged; and certainly I cannot go so far as to say
you are wrong; but still, at the same time--! Come now, could you
not let me see my first wife for just a moment?"

This was no sooner asked than granted; for there, sure enough, was
Dame Lisa. She was no longer restricted to quiet speech by any
stupendous necromancy: and uncommonly plain she looked, after the
passing of those lovely ladies.

"Aha, you rascal!" begins Dame Lisa, addressing Jurgen; "and so you
thought to be rid of me! Oh, a precious lot you are! and a deal of
thanks I get for my scrimping and slaving!" And she began scolding
away.

But she began, somewhat to Jurgen's astonishment, by stating that he
was even worse than the Countess Dorothy. Then he recollected that,
by not the most disastrous piece of luck conceivable, Dame Lisa's
latest news from the outside world had been rendered by her sister,
the notary's wife, a twelvemonth back.

And rather unaccountably Jurgen fell to thinking of how
unsubstantial seemed these curious months devoted to other women, as
set against the commonplace years which he and Lisa had fretted
through together; of the fine and merry girl that Lisa had been
before she married him; of how well she knew his tastes in cookery
and all his little preferences, and of how cleverly she humored them
on those rare days when nothing had occurred to vex her; of all the
buttons she had replaced, and all the socks she had darned, and of
what tempests had been loosed when anyone else had had the audacity
to criticize Jurgen; and of how much more unpleasant--everything
considered--life was without her than with her. She was so
unattractive looking, too, poor dear, that you could not but be
sorry for her. And Jurgen's mood was half yearning and half
penitence.

"I think I will take her back, Prince," says Jurgen, very
subdued,--"now that I am forty-and-something. For I do not know but
it is as hard on her as on me."

"My friend, do you forget the poet that you might be, even yet? No
rational person would dispute that the society and amiable chat of
Dame Lisa must naturally be a desideratum--"

But Dame Lisa was always resentful of long words. "Be silent, you
black scoffer, and do not allude to such disgraceful things in the
presence of respectable people! For I am a decent Christian woman, I
would have you understand. But everybody knows your reputation! and
a very fit companion you are for that scamp yonder! and volumes
could not say more!"

Thus casually, and with comparative lenience, did Dame Lisa dispose
of Koshchei, who made things as they are, for she believed him to be
merely Satan. And to her husband Dame Lisa now addressed herself
more particularly.

"Jurgen, I always told you you would come to this, and now I hope
you are satisfied. Jurgen, do not stand there with your mouth open,
like a scared fish, when I ask you a civil question! but answer when
you are spoken to! Yes, and you need not try to look so idiotically
innocent, Jurgen, because I am disgusted with you. For, Jurgen, you
heard perfectly well what your very suitable friend just said about
me, with my own husband standing by. No--now I beg of you!--do not
ask me what he said, Jurgen! I leave that to your conscience, and I
prefer to talk no more about it. You know that when I am once
disappointed in a person I am through with that person. So, very
luckily, there is no need at all for you to pile hypocrisy on
cowardice, because if my own husband has not the feelings of a man,
and cannot protect me from insults and low company, I had best be
going home and getting supper ready. I dare say the house is like a
pig-sty: and I can see by looking at you that you have been ruining
your eyes by reading in bed again. And to think of your going about
in public, even among such associates, with a button off your
shirt!"

She was silent for one terrible moment; then Lisa spoke in frozen
despair.

"And now I look at that shirt, I ask you fairly, Jurgen, do you
consider that a man of your age has any right to be going about in a
shirt that nobody--in a shirt which--in a shirt that I can only--Ah,
but I never saw such a shirt! and neither did anybody else! You
simply cannot imagine what a figure you cut in it, Jurgen. Jurgen, I
have been patient with you; I have put up with a great deal, saying
nothing where many women would have lost their temper; but I simply
cannot permit you to select your own clothes, and so ruin the
business and take the bread out of our mouths. In short, you are
enough to drive a person mad; and I warn you that I am done with you
forever."

Dame Lisa went with dignity to the door of Koshchei's office.

"So you can come with me or not, precisely as you elect. It is all
one to me, I can assure you, after the cruel things you have said,
and the way you have stormed at me, and have encouraged that
notorious blackamoor to insult me in terms which I, for one, would
not soil my lips by repeating. I do not doubt you consider it is all
very clever and amusing, but you know now what I think about it. And
upon the whole, if you do not feel the exertion will kill you, you
had better come home the long way, and stop by Sister's and ask her
to let you have a half-pound of butter; for I know you too well to
suppose you have been attending to the churning."

Dame Lisa here evinced a stately sort of mirth such as is
unimaginable by bachelors.

"You churning while I was away!--oh, no, not you! There is probably
not so much as an egg in the house. For my lord and gentleman has
had other fish to fry, in his fine new courting clothes. And
that--and on a man of your age, with a paunch to you like a beer
barrel and with legs like pipe-stems!--yes, that infamous shirt of
yours is the reason you had better, for your own comfort, come home
the long way. For I warn you, Jurgen, that the style in which I have
caught you rigged out has quite decided me, before I go home or
anywhere else, to stop by for a word or so with your high and mighty
Madame Dorothy. So you had just as well not be along with me, for
there is no pulling wool over my eyes any longer, and you two need
never think to hoodwink me again about your goings-on. No, Jurgen,
you cannot fool me; for I can read you like a book. And such
behavior, at your time of life, does not surprise me at all, because
it is precisely what I would have expected of you."

With that Dame Lisa passed through the door and went away, still
talking. It was of Heitman Michael's wife that the wife of Jurgen
spoke, discoursing of the personal traits, and of the past doings,
and (with augmented fervor) of the figure and visage of Madame
Dorothy, as all these abominations appeared to the eye of
discernment, and must be revealed by the tongue of candor, as a
matter of public duty.

So passed Dame Lisa, neither as flame nor mist, but as the voice of
judgment.




49.

Of the Compromise with Koshchei


"Phew!" said Koshchei, in the ensuing silence: "you had better stay
overnight, in any event. I really think, friend, you will be more
comfortable, just now at least, in this quiet cave."

But Jurgen had taken up his hat. "No, I dare say I, too, had better
be going," says Jurgen. "I thank you very heartily for your intended
kindness, sir, still I do not know but it is better as it is. And is
there anything"--Jurgen coughed delicately--"and is there anything
to pay, sir?"

"Oh, just a trifle, first of all, for a year's maintenance of Dame
Lisa. You see, Jurgen, that is an almighty fine shirt you are
wearing: it rather appeals to me; and I fancy, from something your
wife let drop just now, it did not impress her as being quite suited
to you. So, in the interest of domesticity, suppose you ransom Dame
Lisa with that fine shirt of yours?"

"Why, willingly," said Jurgen, and he took off the shirt of Nessus.

"You have worn this for some time, I understand," said Koshchei,
meditatively: "and did you ever notice any inconvenience in wearing
this garment?"

"Not that I could detect, Prince; it fitted me, and seemed to
impress everybody most favorably."

"There!" said Koshchei; "that is what I have always contended. To
the strong man, and to wholesome matter of fact people generally, it
is a fatal irritant; but persons like you can wear the shirt of
Nessus very comfortably for a long, long while, and be generally
admired; and you end by exchanging it for your wife's society. But
now, Jurgen, about yourself. You probably noticed that my door was
marked Keep Out. One must have rules, you know. Often it is a
nuisance, but still rules are rules; and so I must tell you, Jurgen,
it is not permitted any person to leave my presence unmaimed, if not
actually annihilated. One really must have rules, you know."

"You would chop off an arm? or a hand? or a whole finger? Come now,
Prince, you must be joking!"

Koshchei the Deathless was very grave as he sat there, in meditation,
drumming with his long jet-black fingers upon the table-top that was
curiously inlaid with thirty pieces of silver. In the lamplight his
sharp nails glittered like flame points, and the color suddenly
withdrew from his eyes, so that they showed like small white eggs.

"But, man, how strange you are!" said Koshchei, presently; and life
flowed back into his eyes, and Jurgen ventured the liberty of
breathing. "Inside, I mean. Why, there is hardly anything left. Now
rules are rules, of course; but you, who are the remnant of a poet,
may depart unhindered whenever you will, and I shall take nothing
from you. For really it is necessary to draw the line somewhere."

Jurgen meditated this clemency; and with a sick heart he seemed to
understand. "Yes; that is probably the truth; for I have not
retained the faith, nor the desire, nor the vision. Yes, that is
probably the truth. Well, at all events, Prince, I very unfeignedly
admired each of the ladies to whom you were friendly enough to
present me, and I was greatly flattered by their offers. More than
generous I thought them. But it really would not do for me to take
up with any one of them now. For Lisa is my wife, you see. A great
deal has passed between us, sir, in the last ten years--And I have
been a sore disappointment to her, in many ways--And I am used to
her--"

Then Jurgen considered, and regarded the black gentleman with
mingled envy and commiseration. "Why, no, you probably would not
understand, sir, on account of your not being, I suppose, a married
person. But I can assure you it is always pretty much like that."

"I lack grounds to dispute your aphorism," observed Koshchei,
"inasmuch as matrimony was certainly not included in my doom. None
the less, to a by-stander, the conduct of you both appears
remarkable. I could not understand, for example, just how your wife
proposed to have you keep out of her sight forever and still have
supper with her to-night; nor why she should desire to sup with such
a reprobate as she described with unbridled pungency and
disapproval."

"Ah, but again, it is always pretty much like that, sir. And the
truth of it, Prince, is a great symbol. The truth of it is, we have
lived together so long that my wife has become rather foolishly fond
of me. So she is not, as one might say, quite reasonable about me.
No, sir; it is the fashion of women to discard civility toward those
for whom they suffer most willingly; and whom a woman loveth she
chasteneth, after a good precedent."

"But her talking, Jurgen, has nowhere any precedent. Why, it deafens,
it appals, it submerges you in an uproarious sea of fault-finding; and
in a word, you might as profitably oppose a hurricane. Yet you want her
back! Now assuredly, Jurgen, I do not think very highly of your wisdom,
but by your bravery I am astounded."

"Ah, Prince, it is because I can perceive that all women are poets,
though the medium they work in is not always ink. So the moment Lisa
is set free from what, in a manner of speaking, sir, inconsiderate
persons might, in their unthinking way, refer to as the terrors of
an underground establishment that I do not for an instant doubt to
be conducted after a system which furthers the true interests of
everybody, and so reflects vast credit upon its officials, if you
will pardon my frankness"--and Jurgen smiled ingratiatingly,--"why,
at that moment Lisa's thoughts take form in very much the high
denunciatory style of Jeremiah and Amos, who were remarkably fine
poets. Her concluding observations as to the Countess, in
particular, I consider to have been an example of sustained
invective such as one rarely encounters in this degenerate age.
Well, her next essay in creative composition is my supper, which
will be an equally spirited impromptu. To-morrow she will darn and
sew me an epic; and her desserts will continue to be in the richest
lyric vein. Such, sir, are the poems of Lisa, all addressed to me,
who came so near to gallivanting with mere queens!"

"What, can it be that you are remorseful?" said Koshchei.

"Oh, Prince, when I consider steadfastly the depth and the intensity
of that devotion which, for so many years, has tended me, and has
endured the society of that person whom I peculiarly know to be the
most tedious and irritating of companions, I stand aghast, before a
miracle. And I cry, Oh, certainly a goddess! and I can think of no
queen who is fairly mentionable in the same breath. Hah, all we
poets write a deal about love: but none of us may grasp the word's
full meaning until he reflects that this is a passion mighty enough
to induce a woman to put up with him."

"Even so, it does not seem to induce quite thorough confidence.
Jurgen, I was grieved to see that Dame Lisa evidently suspects you
of running after some other woman in your wife's absence."

"Think upon that now! And you saw for yourself how little the
handsomest of women could tempt me. Yet even Lisa's absurd notion I
can comprehend and pardon. And again, you probably would not
understand my overlooking such a thing, sir, on account of your not
being a married person. Nevertheless, my forgiveness also is a great
symbol."

Then Jurgen sighed and he shook hands, very circumspectly, with
Koshchei, who made things as they are; and Jurgen started out of the
office.

"But I will bear you company a part of the way," says Koshchei.

So Koshchei removed his dressing-gown, and he put on the fine laced
coat which was hung over the back of a strange looking chair with
three legs, each of a different metal; the shirt of Nessus Koshchei
folded and put aside, saying that some day he might be able to use
it somehow. And Koshchei paused before the blackboard and he
scratched his head reflectively. Jurgen saw that this board was
nearly covered with figures which had not yet been added up; and
this blackboard seemed to him the most frightful thing he had faced
anywhere.

Then Koshchei came out of the cave with Jurgen, and Koshchei walked
with Jurgen across Amneran Heath, and through Morven, in the late
evening. And Koshchei talked as they went; and a queer thing Jurgen
noticed, and it was that the moon was sinking in the east, as though
the time were getting earlier and earlier. But Jurgen did not
presume to criticize this, in the presence of Koshchei, who made
things as they are.

"And I manage affairs as best I can, Jurgen. But they get in a
fearful muddle sometimes. Eh, sirs, I have no competent assistants.
I have to look out for everything, absolutely everything! And of
course, while in a sort of way I am infallible, mistakes will occur
every now and then in the actual working out of plans that in the
abstract are right enough. So it really does please me to hear
anybody putting in a kind word for things as they are, because,
between ourselves, there is a deal of dissatisfaction about. And I
was honestly delighted, just now, to hear you speaking up for evil
in the face of that rapscallion monk. So I give you thanks and many
thanks, Jurgen, for your kind word."

"'Just now!'" thinks Jurgen. He perceived that they had passed the
Cistercian Abbey, and were approaching Bellegarde. And it was as in
a dream that Jurgen was speaking, _"Who are you, and why do you
thank me?"_ asks Jurgen.

_"My name is no great matter. But you have a kind heart, Jurgen.
May your life lie free from care."_

_"Save us from hurt and harm, friend, but I am already married_--"
Then resolutely Jurgen put aside the spell that was befogging him.
"See here, Prince, are you beginning all over again? For I really
cannot stand any more of your benevolences."

Koshchei smiled. "No, Jurgen, I am not beginning all over again. For
now I have never begun, and now there is no word of truth in
anything which you remember of the year just past. Now none of these
things has ever happened."

"But how can that be, Prince?"

"Why should I tell you, Jurgen? Let it suffice that what I will, not
only happens, but has already happened, beyond the ancientest memory
of man and his mother. How otherwise could I be Koshchei? And so
farewell to you, poor Jurgen, to whom nothing in particular has
happened now. It is not justice I am giving you, but something
infinitely more acceptable to you and all your kind."

"But, to be sure!" says Jurgen. "I fancy that nobody anywhere cares
much for justice. So farewell to you, Prince. And at our parting I
ask no more questions of you, for I perceive it is scant comfort a
man gets from questioning Koshchei, who made things as they are. But
I am wondering what pleasure you get out of it all?"

"Eh, sirs," says Koshchei, with not the most candid of smiles, "I
contemplate the spectacle with appropriate emotions."

And so speaking, Koshchei quitted Jurgen forever.

"Yet how may I be sure," thought Jurgen, instantly, "that this black
gentleman was really Koshchei? He said he was? Why, yes; and
Horvendile to all intents told me that Horvendile was Koshchei. Aha,
and what else did Horvendile say!--'This is one of the romancer's
most venerable devices that is being practised.' Why, but there was
Smoit of Glathion, also, so that this is the third time I have been
fobbed off with the explanation I was dreaming! and left with no
proof, one way or the other."

Thus Jurgen, indignantly, and then he laughed. "Why, but, of course!
I may have talked face to face with Koshchei, who made all things as
they are; and again, I may not have. That is the whole point of
it--the cream, as one might say, of the jest--that I cannot ever be
sure. Well!"--and Jurgen shrugged here--"well, and what could I be
expected to do about it?"




50.

The Moment That Did Not Count


And that is really all the story save for the moment Jurgen paused
on his way home. For Koshchei (if it, indeed, was Koshchei) had
quitted Jurgen just as they approached Bellegarde: and as the
pawnbroker walked on alone in the pleasant April evening one called
to him from the terrace. Even in the dusk he knew this was the
Countess Dorothy.

"May I speak with you a moment?" says she.

"Very willingly, madame." And Jurgen ascended from the highway to
the terrace.

"I thought it would be near your supper hour. So I was waiting here
until you passed. You conceive, it is not quite convenient for me to
seek you out at the shop."

"Why, no, madame. There is a prejudice," said Jurgen, soberly. And
he waited.

He saw that Madame Dorothy was perfectly composed, yet anxious to
speed the affair. "You must know," said she, "that my husband's
birthday approaches, and I wish to surprise him with a gift. It is
therefore necessary that I raise some money without troubling him.
How much--abominable usurer!--could you advance me upon this
necklace?"

Jurgen turned it in his hand. It was a handsome piece of jewelry,
familiar to him as formerly the property of Heitman Michael's
mother. Jurgen named a sum.

"But that," the Countess says, "is not a fraction of its worth!"

"Times are very hard, madame. Of course, if you cared to sell
outright I could deal more generously."

"Old monster, I could not do that. It would not be convenient." She
hesitated here. "It would not be explicable."

"As to that, madame, I could make you an imitation in paste which
nobody could distinguish from the original, I can amply understand
that you desire to veil from your husband any sacrifices that are
entailed by your affection."

"It is my affection for him," said the Countess quickly.

"I alluded to your affection for him," said Jurgen--"naturally."

Then Countess Dorothy named a price for the necklace. "For it is
necessary I have that much, and not a penny less." And Jurgen shook
his head dubiously, and vowed that ladies were unconscionable
bargainers: but Jurgen agreed to what she asked, because the
necklace was worth almost as much again. Then Jurgen suggested that
the business could be most conveniently concluded through an
emissary.

"If Messire de Nerac, for example, could have matters explained to
him, and could manage to visit me tomorrow, I am sure we could carry
through this amiable imposture without any annoyance whatever to
Heitman Michael," says Jurgen, smoothly.

"Nerac will come then," says the Countess. "And you may give him the
money, precisely as though it were for him."

"But certainly, madame. A very estimable young nobleman, that! and
it is a pity his debts are so large. I heard that he had lost
heavily at dice within the last month; and I grieved, madame."

"He has promised me when these debts are settled to play no
more--But again what am I saying! I mean, Master Inquisitive, that I
take considerable interest in the welfare of Messire de Nerac: and
so I have sometimes chided him on his wild courses. And that is all
I mean."

"Precisely, madame. And so Messire de Nerac will come to me to-morrow
for the money: and there is no more to say."

Jurgen paused. The moon was risen now. These two sat together upon a
bench of carved stone near the balustrade: and before them, upon the
other side of the highway, were luminous valleys and tree-tops.
Fleetingly Jurgen recollected the boy and girl who had once sat in
this place, and had talked of all the splendid things which Jurgen
was to do, and of the happy life that was to be theirs together.
Then he regarded the composed and handsome woman beside him, and he
considered that the money to pay her latest lover's debts had been
assured with a suitable respect for appearances.

"Come, but this is a gallant lady, who would defy the almanac,"
reflected Jurgen. "Even so, thirty-eight is an undeniable and
somewhat autumnal figure, and I suspect young Nerac is bleeding
his elderly mistress. Well, but at his age nobody has a conscience.
Yes, and Madame Dorothy is handsome still; and still my pulse is
playing me queer tricks, because she is near me, and my voice has
not the intonation I intend, because she is near me; and still I am
three-quarters in love with her. Yes, in the light of such cursed
folly as even now possesses me, I have good reason to give thanks
for the regained infirmities of age. Yet living seems to me a
wasteful and inequitable process, for this is a poor outcome for
the boy and girl that I remember. And weighing this outcome, I am
tempted to weep and to talk romantically, even now."

But he did not. For really, weeping was not requisite. Jurgen was
making his fair profit out of the Countess's folly, and it was
merely his duty to see that this little business transaction was
managed without any scandal.

"So there is nothing more to say," observed Jurgen, as he rose in
the moonlight, "save that I shall always be delighted to serve you,
madame, and I may reasonably boast that I have earned a reputation
for fair dealing."

And he thought: "In effect, since certainly as she grows older she
will need yet more money for her lovers, I am offering to pimp for
her." Then Jurgen shrugged. "That is one side of the affair. The
other is that I transact my legitimate business,--I, who am that
which the years have made of me."

Thus it was that Jurgen quitted the Countess Dorothy, whom, as you
have heard, this pawnbroker had loved in his first youth under the
name of Heart's Desire; and whom in the youth that was loaned him by
Mother Sereda he had loved as Queen Helen, the delight of gods and
men. For Jurgen was quitting Madame Dorothy after the simplest of
business transactions, which consumed only a moment, and did not
actually count one way or the other.

And after this moment which did not count, the pawnbroker resumed
his journey, and so came presently to his home. He peeped through
the window. And there in a snug room, with supper laid, sat Dame
Lisa about some sewing, and evidently in a quite amiable frame of
mind.

Then terror smote the Jurgen who had faced sorcerers and gods and
devils intrepidly. "For I forgot about the butter!"

But immediately afterward he recollected that, now, not even what
Lisa had said to him in the cave was real. Neither he nor Lisa, now,
had ever been in the cave, and probably there was no longer any such
place, and now there never had been any such place. It was rather
confusing.

"Ah, but I must remember carefully," said Jurgen, "that I have not
seen Lisa since breakfast, this morning. Nothing whatever has
happened. There has been no requirement laid upon me, after all, to
do the manly thing. So I retain my wife, such as she is, poor dear!
I retain my home. I retain my shop and a fair line of business. Yes,
Koshchei--if it was really Koshchei--has dealt with me very justly.
And probably his methods are everything they should be; certainly I
cannot go so far as to say that they are wrong: but still, at the
same time--!"

Then Jurgen sighed, and entered his snug home. Thus it was in the
old days.


EXPLICIT





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