Part 4 out of 5
a courtesy and many a well-bent bow, and explained to them how it
was about his castle, and felicitated them on the victory of their
good cause, and so wished them farewell. And they said farewell
sorrowfully: but when they saw he would go, they gave him horses
for himself and Morano, and another for his captive; and they
heaped them with sacks of provender and blankets and all things
that could give him comfort upon a journey: all this they brought
him out of their spoils of war, and they would give him no less
that the most that the horses could carry. And then Rodriguez
turned to his captive again, who now stood on his feet.
"Senor," he said, "pray tell us all of your castle wherewith you
ransom your life."
"Senor," he answered, "I have a castle in Spain."
"Master," broke in Morano, his eyes lighting up with delight,
"there are no castles like the Spanish ones."
They got to horse then, all three; the captive on a horse of far
poorer build than the other two and well-laden with sacks, for
Rodriguez took no chance of his castle cantering, as it were, away
from him on four hooves through the dust.
And when they heard that his journey was by way of the Pyrenees
four knights of that army swore they would ride with him as far as
the frontier of Spain, to bear him company and bring him fuel in
the lonely cold of the mountains. They all set off and the merry
army cheered. He left them making ready for their banquet, and
never knew the cause for which he had fought.
They came by evening again to the house to which Rodriguez had
come two nights before, when he had slept there with his castle
yet to win. They all halted before it, and the man and the woman
came to the door terrified. "The wars!" they said.
"The wars," said one of the riders, "are over, and the just cause
"The Saints be praised!" said the woman. "But will there be no
"Never again," said the horseman, "for men are sick of gunpowder."
"The Saints be thanked," she said.
"Say not that," said the horseman, "for Satan invented gunpowder."
And she was silent; but, had none been there, she had secretly
They demanded the food and shelter that armed men have the right
In the morning they were gone. They became a memory, which
lingered like a vision, made partly of sunset and partly of the
splendour of their cloaks, and so went down the years that those
two folk had, a thing of romance, magnificence and fear. And now
the slope of the mountain began to lift against them, and they
rode slowly towards those unearthly peaks that had deserted the
level fields before ever man came to them, and that sat there now
familiar with stars and dawn with the air of never having known of
man. And as they rode they talked. And Rodriguez talked with the
four knights that rode with him, and they told tales of war and
told of the ways of fighting of many men: and Morano rode behind
them beside the captive and questioned him all the morning about
his castle in Spain. And at first the captive answered his
questions slowly, as if he were weary, or as though he were long
from home and remembered its features dimly; but memory soon
returned and he answered clearly, telling of such a castle as
Morano had not dreamed; and the eyes of the fat man bulged as he
rode beside him, growing rounder and rounder as they rode.
They came by sunset to that wood of firs in which Rodriguez had
rested. In the midst of the wood they halted and tethered their
horses to trees; they tied blankets to branches and made an
encampment; and in the midst of it they made a fire, at first,
with pine-needles and the dead lower twigs and then with great
logs. And there they feasted together, all seven, around the fire.
And when the feast was over and the great logs burning well, and
red sparks went up slowly towards the silver stars, Morano turned
to the prisoner seated beside him and "Tell the senors," he said,
"of my master's castle."
And in the silence, that was rather lulled than broken by the
whispering wind from the snow that sighed through the wood, the
captive slowly lifted up his head and spoke in his queer accent.
"Senors, in Aragon, across the Ebro, are many goodly towers." And
as he spoke they all leaned forward to listen, dark faces bright
with firelight. "On the Ebro's southern bank stands," he went on,
He told of strange rocks rising from the Ebro; of buttresses built
among them in unremembered times; of the great towers lifting up
in multitudes from the buttresses; and of the mighty wall,
windowless until it came to incredible heights, where the windows
shone all safe from any ladder of war.
At first they felt in his story his pride in his lost home, and
wondered, when he told of the height of his towers, how much he
added in pride. And then the force of that story gripped them all
and they doubted never a battlement, but each man's fancy saw
between firelight and starlight every tower clear in the air. And
at great height upon those marvellous towers the turrets of arches
were; queer carvings grinned down from above inaccessible
windows; and the towers gathered in light from the lonely air
where nothing stood but they, and flashed it far over Aragon; and
the Ebro floated by them always new, always amazed by their
He spoke to the six listeners on the lonely mountain, slowly,
remembering mournfully; and never a story that Romance has known
and told of castles in Spain has held men more than he held his
listeners, while the sparks flew up toward the peaks of the
Pyrenees and did not reach to them but failed in the night, giving
place to the white stars.
And when he faltered through sorrow, or memory weakening, Morano
always, watching with glittering eyes, would touch his arm,
sitting beside him, and ask some question, and the captive would
answer the question and so talk sadly on.
He told of the upper terraces, where heliotrope and aloe and
oleander took sunlight far above their native earth: and though
but rare winds carried the butterflies there, such as came to
those fragrant terraces lingered for ever.
And after a while he spoke on carelessly, and Morano's questions
ended, and none of the men in the firelight said a word; but he
spoke on uninterrupted, holding them as by a spell, with his eyes
fixed far away on black crags of the Pyrenees, telling of his
great towers: almost it might have seemed he was speaking of
mountains. And when the fire was only a deep red glow and white
ash showed all round it, and he ceased speaking, having told of a
castle marvellous even amongst the towers of Spain: all sitting
round the embers felt sad with his sadness, for his sad voice
drifted into their very spirits as white mists enter houses, and
all were glad when Rodriguez said to him that one of his ten tall
towers the captive should keep and should live in it for ever. And
the sad man thanked him sadly and showed no joy.
When the tale of the castle and those great towers was done, the
wind that blew from the snow touched all the hearers; they had
seemed to be away by the bank of the Ebro in the heat and light of
Spain, and now the vast night stripped them and the peaks seemed
to close round on them. They wrapped themselves in blankets and
lay down in their shelters. For a while they heard the wind waving
branches and the thump of a horse's hoof restless at night; then
they all slept except one that guarded the captive, and the
captive himself who long lay thinking and thinking.
Dawn stole through the wood and waked none of the sleepers; the
birds all shouted at them, still they slept on; and then the
captive's guard wakened Morano and he stirred up the sparks of the
fire and cooked, and they breakfasted late. And soon they left the
wood and faced the bleak slope, all of them going on foot and
leading their horses.
And the track crawled on till it came to the scorn of the peaks,
winding over a shoulder of the Pyrenees, where the peaks gaze cold
and contemptuous away from the things of man.
In the presence of those that bore them company Rodriguez and
Morano felt none of the deadly majesty of those peaks that regard
so awfully over the solitudes. They passed through them telling
cheerfully of wars the four knights had known: and descended and
came by sunset to the lower edge of the snow. They pushed on a
little farther and then camped; and with branches from the last
camp that they had heaped on their horses they made another great
fire and, huddling round it in the blankets that they had brought,
found warmth even there so far from the hearths of men.
And dawn and the cold woke them all on that treeless slope by
barely warm embers. Morano cooked again and they ate in silence.
And then the four knights rose sadly and one bowed and told
Rodriguez how they must now go back to their own country. And
grief seized on Rodriguez at his words, seeing that he was to lose
four old friends at once and perhaps for ever, for when men have
fought under the same banner in war they become old friends on
"Senors," said Rodriguez, "we may never meet again!"
And the other looked back to the peaks beyond which the far lands
lay, and made a gesture with his hands.
"Senor, at least," said Rodriguez, "let us camp once more
And even Morano babbled a supplication.
"Methinks, senor," he answered, "we are already across the
frontier, and when we men of the sword cross frontiers
misunderstandings arise, so that it is our custom never to pass
across them save when we push the frontier with us, adding the
lands over which we march to those of our liege lord."
"Senors," said Rodriguez, "the whole mountain is the frontier.
Come with us one day further." But they would not stay.
All the good things that could be carried they loaded on to the
three horses whose heads were turned towards Spain; then turned,
all four, and said farewell to the three. And long looked each in
the face of Rodriguez as he took his hand in fare well, for they
had fought under the same banner and, as wayfaring was in those
days, it was not likely that they would ever meet again. They
turned and went with their horses back towards the land they had
Rodriguez and his captive and Morano went sadly down the mountain.
They came to the fir woods, and rested, and Morano cooked their
dinner. And after a while they were able to ride their horses.
They came to the foot of the mountains, and rode on past the Inn
of the World's End. They camped in the open; and all night long
Rodriguez or Morano guarded the captive.
For two days and part of the third they followed their old course,
catching sight again and again of the river Segre; and then they
turned further west ward to come to Aragon further up the Ebro.
All the way they avoided houses and camped in the open, for they
kept their captive to themselves: and they slept warm with their
ample store of blankets. And all the while the captive seemed
morose or ill at ease, speaking seldom and, when he did, in
Morano, as they rode, or by the camp fire at evening, still
questioned him now and then about his castle; and sometimes he
almost seemed to contradict himself, but in so vast a castle may
have been many styles of architecture, and it was difficult to
trace a contradiction among all those towers and turrets. His name
was Don Alvidar-of-the-Rose-pink-Castle on-Ebro.
One night while all three sat and gazed at the camp-fire as men
will, when the chilly stars are still and the merry flames are
leaping, Rodriguez, seeking to cheer his captive's mood, told him
some of his strange adventures. The captive listened with his
sombre air. But when Rodriguez told how they woke on the mountain
after their journey to the sun; and the sun was shining on their
faces in the open, but the magician and his whole house were gone;
then there came another look into Alvidar's eyes. And Rodriguez
ended his tale and silence fell, broken only by Morano saying
across the fire, "It is true," and the captive's thoughtful eyes
gazed into the darkness. And then he also spoke.
"Senor," he said, "near to my rose-pink castle which looks into
the Ebro dwells a magician also."
"Is it so?" said Rodriguez.
"Indeed so, senor," said Don Alvidar. "He is my enemy but dwells
in awe of me, and so durst never molest me except by minor
"How know you that he is a magician?" said Rodriguez.
"By those wonders," answered his captive. "He afflicts small dogs
and my poultry. And he wears a thin, high hat: his beard is also
"Long?" said Morano.
"Green," answered Don Alvidar.
"Is he very near the castle?" said Rodriguez and Morano together.
"Too near," said Don Alvidar.
"Is his house wonderful?" Rodriguez asked.
"It is a common house," was the answer. "A mean, long house of one
story. The walls are white and it is well thatched. The windows
are painted green; there are two doors in it and by one of them
grows a rose tree."
"A rose tree?" exclaimed Rodriguez.
"It seemed a rose tree," said Don Alvidar.
"A captive lady chained to the wall perhaps, changed by magic,"
"Perhaps," said Don Alvidar.
"A strange house for a magician," said Rodriguez, for it sounded
like any small farmhouse in Spain.
"He much affects mortal ways," replied Don Alvidar.
Little more was then said, the fire being low: and Rodriguez lay
down to sleep while Morano guarded the captive.
And the day after that they came to Aragon, and in one day more
they were across the Ebro; and then they rode west for a day along
its southern bank looking all the while as they rode for
Rodriguez' castle. And more and more silent and aloof, as they
rode, grew Don Alvidar-of-the-Rose-pink-Castle-on-Ebro.
And just before sunset a cry broke from the captive. "He has taken
it!" he said. And he pointed to just such a house as he had
described, a jolly Spanish farmhouse with white walls and thatch
and green shutters, and a rose tree by one of the doors just as he
"The magician's house. But the castle is gone," he said.
Rodriguez looked at his face and saw real alarm in it. He said
nothing but rode on in haste, a dim hope in his mind that
explanations at the white cottage might do something for his lost
And when the hooves were heard a woman came out of the cottage
door by the rose tree leading a small child by the hand. And the
captive called to the woman, "Maria, we are lost. And I gave my
great castle with rose-pink towers that stood just here as ransom
to this senor for my life. But now, alas, I see that that magician
who dwelt in the house where you are now has taken it whither we
"Yes, Pedro," said the woman, "he took it yesterday." And she
turned blue eyes upon Rodriguez.
And then Morano would be silent no longer. He had thought vaguely
for some days and intensely for the last few hundreds yards, and
now he blurted out the thoughts that boiled in him.
"Master," he shouted, "he has sold his cattle and bought this
raiment of his, and that helmet that you opened up for him, and
never had any castle on the Ebro with any towers to it, and never
knew any magician, but lived in this house himself, and now your
castle is gone, master, and as for his life ..."
"Be silent a moment, Morano," said Rodriguez, and he turned to the
woman whose eyes were on him still.
"Was there a castle in this place?" he said.
"Yes, senor. I swear it," she said. "And my husband, though a poor
man, always spoke the truth."
"She lies," said Morano, and Rodriguez silenced him with a
"I will get neighbours who will swear it too," she said.
"A lousy neighbourhood," said Morano.
Again Rodriguez silenced him. And then the child spoke in a
frightened voice, holding up a small cross that it had been taught
to revere. "I swear it too," it said.
Rodriguez heaved a sigh and turned away. "Master," Morano cried in
pained astonishment, "you will not believe their swearings."
"The child swore by the cross," he answered.
"But, master!" Morano exclaimed.
But Rodriguez would say no more. And they rode away aimless in
Galloping hooves were heard and Pedro was there. He had come to
give up his horse. He gave its reins to the scowling Morano but
Rodriguez said never a word. Then he ran round and kissed
Rodriguez' hand, who still was silent, for his hopes were lost
with the castle; but he nodded his head and so parted for ever
from the man whom his wife called Pedro, who called himself Don
THE TENTH CHRONICLE
HOW HE CAME BACK TO LOWLIGHT
"Master," Morano said. But Rodriguez rode ahead and would not
They were riding vaguely southward. They had ample provisions on
the horse that Morano led, as well as blankets, which gave them
comfort at night. That night they both got the sleep they needed,
now that there was no captive to guard. All the next day they rode
slowly in the April weather by roads that wandered among tended
fields; but a little way off from the fields there shone low hills
in the sunlight, so wild, so free of man, that Rodriguez
remembering them in later years, wondered if their wild shrubs
just hid the frontiers of fairyland.
For two days they rode by the edge of unguessable regions. Had Pan
piped there no one had marvelled, nor though fauns had scurried
past sheltering clumps of azaleas. In the twilight no tiny queens
had court within rings of toadstools: yet almost, almost they
And on the third day all at once they came to a road they knew. It
was the road by which they had ridden when Rodriguez still had his
dream, the way from Shadow Valley to the Ebro. And so they turned
into the road they knew, as wanderers always will; and, still
without aim or plan, they faced towards Shadow Valley. And in the
evening of the day that followed that, as they looked about for a
camping-ground, there came in sight the village on the hill which
Rodriguez knew to be fifty miles from the forest: it was the
village in which they had rested the first night after leaving
Shadow Valley. They did not camp but went on to the village and
knocked at the door of the inn. Habit guides us all at times, even
kings are the slaves of it (though in their presence it takes the
prouder name of precedent); and here were two wanderers without
any plans at all; they were therefore defenceless in the grip of
habit and, seeing an inn they knew, they loitered up to it. Mine
host came again to the door. He cheerfully asked Rodriguez how he
had fared on his journey, but Rodriguez would say nothing. He
asked for lodging for himself and Morano and stabling for the
horses: he ate and slept and paid his due, and in the morning was
Whatever impulses guided Rodriguez as he rode and Morano followed,
he knew not what they were or even that there could be any. He
followed the road without hope and only travelled to change his
camping-grounds. And that night he was half-way between the
village and Shadow Valley.
Morano never spoke, for he saw that his master's disappointment
was still raw; but it pleased him to notice, as he had done all
day, that they were heading for the great forest. He cooked their
evening meal in their camp by the wayside and they both ate it in
silence. For awhile Rodriguez sat and gazed at the might-have-
beens in the camp-fire: and when these began to be hidden by white
ash he went to his blankets and slept. And Morano went quietly
about the little camp, doing all that needed to be done, with
never a word. When the horses were seen to and fed, when the
knives were cleaned, when everything was ready for the start next
morning, Morano went to his blankets and slept too. And in the
morning again they wandered on.
That evening they saw the low gold rays of the sun enchanting the
tops of a forest. It almost surprised Rodriguez, travelling
without an aim, to recognise Shadow Valley. They quickened their
slow pace and, before twilight faded, they were under the great
oaks; but the last of the twilight could not pierce the dimness of
Shadow Valley, and it seemed as if night had entered the forest
They chose a camping-ground as well as they could in the darkness
and Morano tied the horses to trees a little way off from the
camp. Then he returned to Rodriguez and tied a blanket to the
windward side of two trees to make a kind of bedroom for his
master, for they had all the blankets they needed. And when this
was done he set the emblem and banner of camps, anywhere all over
the world in any time, for he gathered sticks and branches and lit
a camp-fire. The first red flames went up and waved and proclaimed
a camp: the light made a little circle, shadows ran away to the
forest, and the circle of light on the ground and on the trees
that stood round it became for that one night home.
They heard the horses stamp as they always did in the early part
of the night; and then Morano went to give them their fodder.
Rodriguez sat and gazed into the fire, his mind as full of
thoughts as the fire was full of pictures: one by one the pictures
in the fire fell in; and all his thoughts led nowhere.
He heard Morano running back the thirty or forty yards he had gone
from the camp-fire "Master," Morano said, "the three horses are
"Gone?" said Rodriguez. There was little more to say; it was too
dark to track them and he knew that to find three horses in Shadow
Valley was a task that might take years. And after more thought
than might seem to have been needed he said; "We must go on foot."
"Have we far to go, master?" said Morano, for the first time
daring to question him since they left the cottage in Spain.
"I have nowhere to go," said Rodriguez. His head was downcast as
he sat by the fire: Morano stood and looked at him unhappily, full
of a sympathy that he found no words to express. A light wind
slipped through the branches and everything else was still. It was
some while before he lifted his head; and then he saw before him
on the other side of the fire, standing with folded arms, the man
in the brown leather jacket.
"Nowhere to go!" said he. "Who needs go anywhere from Shadow
Rodriguez stared at him. "But I can't stay here!" he said.
"There is no fairer forest known to man," said the other. "I know
many songs that prove it."
Rodriguez made no answer but dropped his eyes, gazing with
listless glance once more at the ground. "Come, senor," said the
man in the leather jacket. "None are unhappy in Shadow Valley."
"Who are you?" said Rodriguez. Both he and Morano were gazing
curiously at the man whom they had saved three weeks ago from the
"Your friend," answered the stranger.
"No friend can help me," said Rodriguez.
"Senor," said the stranger across the fire, still standing with
folded arms, "I remain under an obligation to no man. If you have
an enemy or love a lady, and if they dwell within a hundred miles,
either shall be before you within a week."
Rodriguez shook his head, and silence fell by the camp-fire. And
after awhile Rodriguez, who was accustomed to dismiss a subject
when it was ended, saw the stranger's eyes on him yet, still
waiting for him to say more. And those clear blue eyes seemed to
do more than wait, seemed almost to command, till they overcame
Rodriguez' will and he obeyed and said, although he could feel
each word struggling to stay unuttered, "Senor, I went to the wars
to win a castle and a piece of land thereby; and might perchance
have wed and ended my wanderings, with those of my servant here;
but the wars are over and no castle is won."
And the stranger saw by his face in the firelight, and knew from
the tones of his voice in the still night, the trouble that his
words had not expressed.
"I remain under an obligation to no man," said the stranger. "Be
at this place in four weeks' time, and you shall have a castle as
large as any that men win by war, and a goodly park thereby."
"Your castle, master!" said Morano delighted, whose only thought
up to then was as to who had got his horses. But Rodriguez only
stared: and the stranger said no more but turned on his heel. And
then Rodriguez awoke out of his silence and wonder. "But where?"
he said. "What castle?"
"That you will see," said the stranger.
"But, but how ..." said Rodriguez. What he meant was, "How can I
believe you?" but he did not put it in words.
"My word was never broken," said the other. And that is a good
boast to make, for those of us who can make it; if we need boast
"Whose word?" said Rodriguez, looking him in the eyes.
The smoke from the fire between them was thickening greyly as
though something had been cast on it. "The word," he said, "of the
King of Shadow Valley."
Rodriguez gazing through the increasing smoke saw not to the other
side. He rose and walked round the fire, but the strange man was
Rodriguez came back to his place by the fire and sat long there in
silence. Morano was bubbling over to speak, but respected his
master's silence: for Rodriguez was gazing into the deeps of the
fire seeing pictures there that were brighter than any that he had
known. They were so clear now that they seemed almost true. He saw
Serafina's face there looking full at him. He watched it long
until other pictures hid it, visions that had no meaning for
Rodriguez. And not till then he spoke. And when he spoke his face
was almost smiling.
"Well, Morano," he said, "have we come by that castle at last?"
"That man does not lie, master," he answered: and his eyes were
glittering with shrewd conviction.
"What shall we do then?" said Rodriguez.
"Let us go to some village, master," said Morano, "until the time
"What village?" Rodriguez asked.
"I know not, master," answered Morano, his face a puzzle of
innocence and wonder; and Rodriguez fell back into thought again.
And the dancing flames calmed down to a deep, quiet glow; and soon
Rodriguez stepped back a yard or two from the fire to where Morano
had prepared his bed; and, watching the fire still, and turning
over thoughts that flashed and changed as fast as the embers, he
went to wonderful dreams that were no more strange or elusive than
that valley's wonderful king.
When he spoke in the morning the camp-fire was newly lit and there
was a smell of bacon; and Morano, out of breath and puzzled, was
calling to him.
"Master," he said, "I was mistaken about those horses."
"Mistaken?" said Rodriguez.
"They were just as I left them, master, all tied to the tree with
Rodriguez left it at that. Morano could make mistakes and the
forest was full of wonders: anything might happen. "We will ride,"
Morano's breakfast was as good as ever; and, when he had packed up
those few belongings that make a dwelling-place of any chance spot
in the wilderness, they mounted the horses, which were surely
there, and rode away through sunlight and green leaves. They rode
slow, for the branches were low over the path, and whoever canters
in a forest and closes his eyes against a branch has to consider
whether he will open them to be whipped by the next branch or
close them till he bumps his head into a tree. And it suited
Rodriguez to loiter, for he thought thus to meet the King of
Shadow Valley again or his green bowmen and learn the answers to
innumerable questions about his castle which were wandering
through his mind.
They ate and slept at noon in the forest's glittering greenness.
They passed afterwards by the old house in the wood, in which the
bowmen feasted, for they followed the track that they had taken
before. They knocked loud on the door as they passed but the house
was empty. They heard the sound of a multitude felling trees, but
whenever they approached the sound of chopping ceased. Again and
again they left the track and rode towards the sound of chopping,
and every time the chopping died away just as they drew close.
They saw many a tree half felled, but never a green bowman. And at
last they left it as one of the wonders of the forest and returned
to the track lest they lose it, for the track was more important
to them than curiosity, and evening had come and was filling the
forest with dimness, and shadows stealing across the track were
beginning to hide it away. In the distance they heard the
invisible woodmen chopping.
And then they camped again and lit their fire; and night came down
and the two wanderers slept.
The nightingale sang until he woke the cuckoo: and the cuckoo
filled the leafy air so full of his two limpid notes that the
dreams of Rodriguez heard them and went away, back over their
border to dreamland. Rodriguez awoke Morano, who lit his fire: and
soon they had struck their camp and were riding on.
By noon they saw that if they hurried on they could come to
Lowlight by nightfall. But this was not Rodriguez' plan, for he
had planned to ride into Lowlight, as he had done once before, at
the hour when Serafina sat in her balcony in the cool of the
evening, as Spanish ladies in those days sometimes did. So they
tarried long by their resting-place at noon and then rode slowly
on. And when they camped that night they were still in the forest.
"Morano," said Rodriguez over the camp-fire, "tomorrow brings me
"Aye, master," said Morano, "we shall be there tomorrow."
"That senor with whom I had a meeting there," said Rodriguez, "he ..."
"He loves me not," said Morano.
"He would surely kill you," replied Rodriguez.
Morano looked sideways at his frying-pan.
"It would therefore be better," continued Rodriguez, "that you
should stay in this camp while I give such greetings of ceremony
in Lowlight as courtesy demands."
"I will stay, master," said Morano.
Rodriguez was glad that this was settled, for he felt that to
follow his dreams of so many nights to that balconied house in
Lowlight with Morano would be no better than visiting a house
accompanied by a dog that had bitten one of the family.
"I will stay," repeated Morano. "But, master ..." The fat man's
eyes were all supplication.
"Yes?" said Rodriguez.
"Leave me your mandolin," implored Morano.
"My mandolin?" said Rodriguez.
"Master," said Morano, "that senor who likes my fat body so ill he
would kill me, he ..."
"Well?" said Rodriguez, for Morano was hesitating.
"He likes your mandolin no better, master."
Rodriguez resented a slight to his mandolin as much as a slight to
his sword, but he smiled as he looked at Morano's anxious face.
"He would kill you for your mandolin," Morano went on eagerly, "as
he would kill me for my frying-pan."
And at the mention of that frying-pan Rodriguez frowned, although
it had given him many a good meal since the night it offended in
Lowlight. And he would sooner have gone to the wars without a
sword than under the balcony of his heart's desire without a
So Rodriguez would hear no more of Morano's request; and soon he
left the fire and went to lie down; but Morano sighed and sat
gazing on into the embers unhappily; while thoughts plodded slow
through his mind, leading to nothing. Late that night he threw
fresh logs on the camp-fire, so that when they awoke there was
still fire in the embers And when they had eaten their breakfast
Rodriguez said farewell to Morano, saying that he had business in
Lowlight that might keep him a few days. But Morano said not
farewell then, for he would follow his master as far as the midday
halt to cook his next meal. And when noon came they were beyond
Once more Morano cooked bacon. Then while Rodriguez slept Morano
took his cloak and did all that could be done by brushing and
smoothing to give back to it that air that it some time had,
before it had flapped upon so many winds and wrapped Rodriguez on
such various beds, and met the vicissitudes that make this story.
For the plume he could do little.
And his master awoke, late in the afternoon, and went to his horse
and gave Morano his orders. He was to go back with two of the
horses to their last camp in the forest and take with him all
their kit except one blanket and make himself comfortable there
and wait till Rodriguez came.
And then Rodriguez rode slowly away, and Morano stood gazing
mournfully and warningly at the mandolin; and the warnings were
not lost upon Rodriguez, though he would never admit that he saw
in Morano's staring eyes any wise hint that he heeded.
And Morano sighed, and went and untethered his horses; and soon he
was riding lonely back to the forest. And Rodriguez taking the
other way saw at once the towers of Lowlight.
Does my reader think that he then set spurs to his horse,
galloping towards that house about whose balcony his dreams flew
every night? No, it was far from evening; far yet from the colour
and calm in which the light with never a whisper says farewell to
Earth, but with a gesture that the horizon hides takes silent
leave of the fields on which she has danced with joy; far yet from
the hour that shone for Serafina like a great halo round her and
round her mother's house.
We cannot believe that one hour more than another shone upon
Serafina, or that the dim end of the evening was only hers: but
these are the Chronicles of Rodriguez, who of all the things that
befell him treasured most his memory of Serafina in the twilight,
and who held that this hour was hers as much as her raiment and
her balcony: such therefore it is in these chronicles.
And so he loitered, waiting for the slow sun to set: and when at
last a tint on the walls of Lowlight came with the magic of
Earth's most faery hour he rode in slowly not perhaps wholly
unwitting, for all his anxious thoughts of Serafina, that a little
air of romance from the Spring and the evening followed this
From some way off he saw that balcony that had drawn him back from
the other side of the far Pyrenees. Sometimes he knew that it drew
him and mostly he knew it not; yet always that curved balcony
brought him nearer, ever since he turned from the field of the
false Don Alvidar: the balcony held him with invisible threads,
such as those with which Earth draws in the birds at evening. And
there was Serafina in her balcony.
When Rodriguez saw Serafina sitting there in the twilight, just as
he had often dreamed, he looked no more but lowered his head to
the withered rose that he carried now in his hand, the rose that
he had found by that very balcony under another moon. And, gazing
still at the rose, he rode on under the balcony, and passed it,
until his hoof-beats were heard no more in Lowlight and he and his
horse were one dim shape between the night and the twilight. And
still he held on.
He knew not yet, but only guessed, who had thrown that rose from
the balcony on the night when he slept on the dust: he knew not
who it was that he fought on the same night, and dared not guess
what that unknown hidalgo might be to Serafina. He had no claim to
more from that house, which once gave him so cold a welcome, than
thus to ride by it in silence. And he knew as he rode that the
cloak and the plume that he wore scarce seemed the same as those
that had floated by when more than a month ago he had ridden past
that balcony; and the withered rose that he carried added one more
note of autumn. And yet he hoped.
And so he rode into twilight and was hid from the sight of the
village, a worn, pathetic figure, trusting vaguely to vague powers
of good fortune that govern all men, but that favour youth.
And, sure enough, it was not yet wholly moonlight when cantering
hooves came down the road behind him. It was once more that young
hidalgo. And as soon as he drew rein beside Rodriguez both reached
out merry hands as though their former meeting had been some
errand of joy. And as Rodriguez looked him in the eyes, while the
two men leaned over clasping hands, in light still clear though
faded, he could not doubt Serafina was his sister.
"Senor," said his old enemy, "will you tarry with us, in our house
a few days, if your journey is not urgent?"
Rodriguez gasped for joy; for the messenger from Lowlight, the
certainty that here was no rival, the summons to the house of his
dreams' pilgrimage, came all together: his hand still clasped the
stranger's. Yet he answered with the due ceremony that that age
and land demanded: then they turned and rode together towards
Lowlight. And first the young men told each other their names; and
the stranger told how he dwelt with his mother and sister in the
house that Rodriguez knew, and his name was Don Alderon of the
Valley of Dawnlight. His house had dwelt in that valley since
times out of knowledge; but then the Moors had come and his
forbears had fled to Lowlight: the Moors were gone now, for which
Saint Michael and all fighting Saints be praised; but there were
certain difficulties about his right to the Valley of Dawnlight.
So they dwelt in Lowlight still.
And Rodriguez told of the war that there was beyond the Pyrenees
and how the just cause had won, but little more than that he was
able to tell, for he knew scarce more of the cause for which he
had fought than History knows of it, who chooses her incidents and
seems to forget so much. And as they talked they came to the house
with the balcony. A waning moon cast light over it that was now no
longer twilight; but was the light of wild things of the woods,
and birds of prey, and men in mountains outlawed by the King, and
magic, and mystery, and the quests of love. Serafina had left her
place: lights gleamed now in the windows. And when the door was
opened the hall seemed to Rodriguez so much less hugely hollow, so
much less full of ominous whispered echoes, that his courage rose
high as he went through it with Alderon, and they entered the room
together that they had entered together before. In the long room
beyond many candles he saw Dona Serafina and her mother rising up
to greet him. Neither the ceremonies of that age nor Rodriguez'
natural calm would have entirely concealed his emotion had not his
face been hidden as he bowed. They spoke to him; they asked him of
his travels; Rodriguez answered with effort. He saw by their
manner that Don Alderon must have explained much in his favour. He
had this time, to cheer him, a very different greeting; and yet he
felt little more at ease than when he had stood there late at
night before, with one eye bandaged and wearing only one shoe,
suspected of he knew not what brawling and violence.
It was not until Dona Mirana, the mother of Serafina, asked him to
play to them on his mandolin that Rodriguez' ease returned. He
bowed then and brought round his mandolin, which had been slung
behind him; and knew a triumphant champion was by him now, one old
in the ways of love and wise in the sorrows of man, a slender but
potent voice, well-skilled to tell what there were not words to
say; a voice unhindered by language, unlimited even by thought,
whose universal meaning was heard and understood, sometimes
perhaps by wandering spirits of light, beaten far by some evil
thought for their heavenly courses and passing close along the
coasts of Earth.
And Rodriguez played no tune he had ever known, nor any airs that
he had heard men play in lanes in Andalusia; but he told of things
that he knew not, of sadnesses that he had scarcely felt and
undreamed exaltations. It was the hour of need, and the mandolin
And when all was told that the mandolin can tell of whatever is
wistfulest in the spirit of man, a mood of merriment entered its
old curved sides and there came from its hollows a measure such as
they dance to when laughter goes over the greens in Spain. Never a
song sang Rodriguez; the mandolin said all.
And what message did Serafina receive from those notes that were
strange even to Rodriguez? Were they not stranger to her? I have
said that spirits blown far out of their course and nearing the
mundane coasts hear mortal music sometimes, and hearing
understand. And if they cannot understand those snatches of song,
all about mortal things and human needs, that are wafted rarely to
them by chance passions, how much more surely a young mortal
heart, so near Rodriguez, heard what he would say and understood
the message however strange.
When Dona Mirana and her daughter rose, exchanging their little
curtsies for the low bows of Rodriguez, and so retired for the
night, the long room seemed to Rodriguez now empty of threatening
omens. The great portraits that the moon had lit, and that had
frowned at him in the moonlight when he came here before, frowned
at him now no longer. The anger that he had known to lurk in the
darkness on pictured faces of dead generations had gone with the
gloom that it haunted: they were all passionless now in the quiet
light of the candles. He looked again at the portraits eye to eye,
remembering looks they had given him in the moonlight, and all
looked back at him with ages of apathy; and he knew that whatever
glimmer of former selves there lurks about portraits of the dead
and gone was thinking only of their own past days in years remote
from Rodriguez. Whether their anger had flashed for a moment over
the ages on that night a month from now, or whether it was only
the moonlight, he never knew. Their spirits were back now surely
amongst their own days, whence they deigned not to look on the
days that make these chronicles.
Not till then did Rodriguez admit, or even know, that he had not
eaten since his noonday meal. But now he admitted this to Don
Alderon's questions; and Don Alderon led him to another chamber
and there regaled him with all the hospitality for which that time
was famous. And when Rodriguez had eaten, Don Alderon sent for
wine, and the butler brought it in an olden flagon, dark wine of a
precious vintage: and soon the two young men were drinking
together and talking of the wickedness of the Moors. And while
they talked the night grew late and chilly and still, and the hour
came when moths are fewer and young men think of bed. Then Don
Alderon showed his guest to an upper room, a long room dim with
red hangings, and carvings in walnut and oak, which the one candle
he carried barely lit but only set queer shadows scampering. And
here he left Rodriguez, who was soon in bed, with the great red
hangings round him. And awhile he wondered at the huge silence of
the house all round him, with never a murmur, never an echo, never
a sigh; for he missed the passing of winds, branches waving, the
stirring of small beasts, birds of prey calling, and the hundred
sounds of the night; but soon through the silence came sleep.
He did not need to dream, for here in the home of Serafina he had
come to his dreams' end.
Another day shone on another scene; for the sunlight that went in
a narrow stream of gold and silver between the huge red curtains
had sent away the shadows that had stalked overnight through the
room, and had scattered the eeriness that had lurked on the far
side of furniture, and all the dimness was gone that the long red
room had harboured. And for a while Rodriguez did not know where
he was; and for a while, when he remembered, he could not believe
it true. He dressed with care, almost with fear, and preened his
small moustachios, which at last had grown again just when he
would have despaired. Then he descended, and found that he had
slept late, though the three of that ancient house were seated yet
at the table, and Serafina all dressed in white seemed to
Rodriguez to be shining in rivalry with the morning. Ah dreams and
fancies of youth!
THE ELEVENTH CHRONICLE
HOW HE TURNED TO GARDENING AND HIS SWORD RESTED
These were the days that Rodriguez always remembered; and, side by
side with them, there lodged in his memory, and went down with
them into his latter years, the days and nights when he went
through the Pyrenees and walked when he would have slept but had
to walk or freeze: and by some queer rule that guides us he
treasured them both in his memory, these happy days in this garden
and the frozen nights on the peaks.
For Serafina showed Rodriguez the garden that behind the house ran
narrow and long to the wild. There were rocks with heliotrope
pouring over them and flowers peeping behind them, and great
azaleas all in triumphant bloom, and ropes of flowering creepers
coming down from trees, and oleanders, and a plant named popularly
Joy of the South, and small paths went along it edged with shells
brought from the far sea.
There was only one street in the village, and you did not go far
among the great azaleas before you lost sight of the gables; and
you did not go far before the small paths ended with their shells
from the distant sea, and there was the mistress of all gardeners
facing you, Mother Nature nursing her children, the things of the
wild. She too had azaleas and oleanders, but they stood more
solitary in their greater garden than those that grew in the
garden of Dona Mirana; and she too had little paths, only they
were without borders and without end. Yet looking from the long
and narrow garden at the back of that house in Lowlight to the
wider garden that sweeps round the world, and is fenced by Space
from the garden in Venus and by Space from the garden in Mars, you
scarce saw any difference or noticed where they met: the solitary
azaleas beyond were gathered together by distance, and from
Lowlight to the horizon seemed all one garden in bloom. And
afterwards, all his years, whenever Rodriguez heard the name of
Spain, spoken by loyal men, it was thus that he thought of it, as
he saw it now.
And here he used to walk with Serafina when she tended flowers in
the cool of the morning or went at evening to water favourite
blooms. And Rodriguez would bring with him his mandolin, and
sometimes he touched it lightly or even sang, as they rested on
some carved seat at the garden's end, looking out towards shadowy
shrubs on the shining hill, but mostly he heard her speak of the
things she loved, of what moths flew to their garden, and which
birds sang, and how the flowers grew. Serafina sat no longer in
her balcony but, disguising idleness by other names, they loitered
along those paths that the seashells narrowed; yet there was a
grace in their loitering such as we have not in our dances now.
And evening stealing in from the wild places, from darkening
azaleas upon distant hills, still found them in the garden, found
Rodriguez singing in idleness undisguised, or anxiously helping in
some trivial task, tying up some tendril that had gone awry,
helping some magnolia that the wind had wounded. Almost unnoticed
by him the sunlight would disappear, and the coloured blaze of the
sunset, and then the gloaming; till the colours of all the flowers
queerly changed and they shone with that curious glow which they
wear in the dusk. They returned then to the house, the garden
behind them with its dim hushed air of a secret, before them the
candlelight like a different land. And after the evening meal
Alderon and Rodriguez would sit late together discussing the
future of the world, Rodriguez holding that it was intended that
the earth should be ruled by Spain, and Alderon fearing it would
all go to the Moors.
Days passed thus.
And then one evening Rodriguez was in the garden with Serafina;
the flowers, dim and pale and more mysterious than ever, poured
out their scent towards the coming night, luring huge hawk-moths
from the far dusk that was gathering about the garden, to hover
before each bloom on myriad wingbeats too rapid for human eye:
another inch and the fairies had peeped out from behind azaleas,
yet both of these late loiterers felt fairies were surely there:
it seemed to be Nature's own most secret hour, upon which man
trespasses if he venture forth from his house: an owl from his
hidden haunt flew nearer the garden and uttered a clear call once
to remind Rodriguez of this: and Rodriguez did not heed, but
walked in silence.
He had played his mandolin. It had uttered to the solemn hush of
the understanding evening all it was able to tell; and after that
cry, grown piteous with so many human longings, for it was an old
mandolin, Rodriguez felt there was nothing left for his poor words
to say. So he went dumb and mournful.
Serafina would have heard him had he spoken, for her thoughts
vibrated yet with the voice of the mandolin, which had come to her
hearing as an ambassador from Rodriguez, but he found no words to
match with the mandolin's high mood. His eyes said, and his sighs
told, what the mandolin had uttered; but his tongue was silent.
And then Serafina said, as he walked all heavy with silence past a
curving slope of dimly glowing azaleas, "You like flowers, senor?"
"Senorita, I adore them," he replied.
"Indeed?" said Dona Serafina.
"Indeed I do," said Rodriguez.
"And yet," asked Dona Serafina, "was it not a somewhat withered or
altogether faded flower that you carried, unless I fancied wrong,
when you rode past our balcony?"
"It was indeed faded," said Rodriguez, "for the rose was some
"One who loved flowers, I thought," said Serafina, "would perhaps
care more for them fresh."
Half-dumb though Rodriguez was his shrewdness did not desert him.
To have said that he had the rose from Serafina would have been to
claim as though proven what was yet no more than a hope.
"Senorita," he said, "I found the flower on holy ground."
"I did not know," she said, "that you had travelled so far."
"I found it here," he said, "under your balcony."
"Perchance I let it fall," said she. "It was idle of me."
"I guard it still," he said, and drew forth that worn brown rose.
"It was idle of me," said Serafina.
But then in that scented garden among the dim lights of late
evening the ghost of that rose introduced their spirits one to the
other, so that the listening flowers heard Rodriguez telling the
story of his heart, and, bending over the shell-bordered path,
heard Serafina's answer; and all they seemed to do was but to
watch the evening, with leaves uplifted in the hope of rain.
Film after film of dusk dropped down from where twilight had been,
like an army of darkness slowly pitching their tents on ground
that had been lost to the children of light. Out of the wild lands
all the owls flew nearer: their long, clear cries and the huge
hush between them warned all those lands that this was not man's
hour. And neither Rodriguez nor Serafina heard them.
In pale blue sky where none had thought to see it one smiling star
appeared. It was Venus watching lovers, as men of the crumbled
centuries had besought her to do, when they named her so long ago,
kneeling upon their hills with bended heads, and arms stretched
out to her sweet eternal scrutiny. Beneath her wandering rays as
they danced down to bless them Rodriguez and Serafina talked low
in the sight of the goddess, and their voices swayed through the
flowers with whispers and winds, not troubling the little wild
creatures that steal out shy in the dusk, and Nature forgave them
for being abroad in that hour; although, so near that a single
azalea seemed to hide it, so near seemed to beckon and whisper old
Nature's eldest secret.
When flowers glimmered and Venus smiled and all things else were
dim, they turned on one of those little paths hand in hand
Dona Mirana glanced once at her daughter's eyes and said nothing.
Don Alderon renewed his talk with Rodriguez, giving reasons for
his apprehension of the conquest of the world by the Moors, which
he had thought of since last night; and Rodriguez agreed with all
that Don Alderon said, but understood little, being full of dreams
that seemed to dance on the further, side of the candlelight to a
strange, new, unheard tune that his heart was aware of. He gazed
much at Serafina and said little.
He drank no wine that night with Don Alderon: what need had he of
wine? On wonderful journeys that my pen cannot follow, for all the
swiftness of the wing from which it came; on darting journeys
outspeeding the lithe swallow or that great wanderer the white-
fronted goose, his young thoughts raced by a myriad of golden
evenings far down the future years. And what of the days he saw?
Did he see them truly? Enough that he saw them in vision. Saw them
as some lone shephered on lifted downs sees once go by with music
a galleon out of the East, with windy sails, and masts ablaze with
pennants, and heroes in strange dress singing new songs; and the
galleon goes nameless by till the singing dies away. What ship was
it? Whither bound? Why there? Enough that he has seen it. Thus do
we glimpse the glory of rare days as we swing round the sun; and
youth is like some high headland from which to see.
On the next day he spoke with Dona Mirano. There was little to say
but to observe the courtesies appropriate to this occasion, for
Dona Mirana and her daughter had spoken long together already; and
of one thing he could say little, and indeed was dumb when asked
of it, and that was the question of his home. And then he said
that he had a castle; and when Dona Mirana asked him where it was
he said vaguely it was to the North. He trusted the word of the
King of Shadow Valley and so he spoke of his castle as a man
speaks the truth. And when she asked him of his castle again,
whether on rock or river or in leafy lands, he began to describe
how its ten towers stood, being builded of a rock that was
slightly pink, and how they glowed across a hundred fields,
especially at evening; and suddenly he ceased, perceiving all in a
moment he was speaking unwittingly in the words of Don Alvidar and
describing to Dona Mirana that rose-pink castle on Ebro. And Dona
Mirana knew then that there was some mystery about Rodriguez'
She spoke kindly to Rodriguez, yet she neither gave her consent
nor yet withheld it, and he knew there was no immediate hope in
her words. Graceful as were his bows as he withdrew, he left with
scarcely another word to say. All day his castle hung over him
like a cloud, not nebulous and evanescent only, but brooding
darkly, boding storms, such as the orange blossoms dread.
He walked again in the garden with Serafina, but Dona Mirana was
never far, and the glamour of the former evening, lit by one star,
was driven from the garden by his anxieties about that castle of
which he could not speak. Serafina asked him of his home. He would
not parry her question, and yet he could not tell her that all
their future hung on the promise of a man in an old leathern
jacket calling himself a king. So the mystery of his habitation
deepened, spoiling the glamour of the evening. He spoke, instead,
of the forest, hoping she might know something of that strange
monarch to whom they dwelt so near; but she glanced uneasily
towards Shadow Valley and told him that none in Lowlight went that
way. Sorrow grew heavier round Rodriguez' heart at this: believing
in the promise of a man whose eyes he trusted he had asked
Serafina to marry him, and Serafina had said Yes; and now he found
she knew nothing of such a man, which seemed somehow to Rodriguez
to weaken his promise, and, worst of all, she feared the place
where he lived. He welcomed the approach of Dona Mirana, and all
three returned to the house. For the rest of that evening he spoke
little; but he had formed his project.
When the two ladies retired Rodriguez, who had seemed tongue-tied
for many hours, turned to Don Alderon. His mother had told Don
Alderon nothing yet; for she was troubled by the mystery of
Rodriguez' castle, and would give him time to make it clear if he
could; for there was something about Rodriguez of which with many
pages I have tried to acquaint my reader but which was clear when
first she saw him to Dona Mirana. In fact she liked him at once,
as I hope that perhaps by now my reader may. He turned to Don
Alderon, who was surprised to see the vehemence with which his
guest suddenly spoke after those hours of silence, and Rodriguez
told him the story of his love and the story of both his castles,
that which had vanished from the bank of the Ebro and that which
was promised him by the King of Shadow Valley. And often Don
"Oh, Rodriguez," he said, "you are welcome to our ancient,
unfortunate house": and later he said, "I have met no man that had
a prettier way with the sword."
But Rodriguez held on to the end, telling all he had to tell; and
especially that he was landless and penniless but for that one
promise; and as for the sword, he said, he was but as a child
playing before the sword of Don Alderon. And this Don Alderon said
was in no wise so, though there were a few cunning passes that he
had learned, hoping that the day might come for him to do God a
service thereby by slaying some of the Moors: and heartily he gave
his consent and felicitation. But this Rodriguez would not have:
"Come with me," he said, "to the forest to the place where I met
this man, and if we find him not there we will go to the house in
which his bowmen feast and there have news of him, and he shall
show us the castle of his promise and, if it be such a castle as
you approve, then your consent shall be given, but if not ..."
"Gladly indeed," said Don Alderon. "We will start tomorrow."
And Rodriguez took his words literally, though his host had meant
no more than what we should call "one of these days," but
Rodriguez was being consumed with a great impatience. And so they
arranged it, and Don Alderon went to bed with a feeling, which is
favourable to dreams, that on the next day they went upon an
adventure; for neither he nor anyone in that village had entered
Once more next morning Rodriguez walked with Serafina, with
something of the romance of the garden gone, for Dona Mirana
walked there too; and romance is like one of those sudden,
wonderful colours that flash for a moment out of a drop of dew; a
passing shadow obscures them; and ask another to see it, and the
colour is not the same: move but a yard and the ray of enchantment
is gone. Dona Mirana saw the romance of that garden, but she saw
it from thirty years away; it was all different what she saw, all
changed from a certain day (for love was love in the old days):
and to Rodriguez and Serafina it seemed that she could not see
romance at all, and somehow that dimmed it. Almost their eyes
seemed to search amongst the azaleas for the romance of that other
And then Rodriguez told Serafina that he was riding away with her
brother to see about the affairs of his castle, and that they
would return in a few days. Scarcely a hint he gave that those
affairs might not prosper, for he trusted the word of the King of
Shadow Valley. His confidence had returned: and soon, with swords
at side and cloaks floating brilliant on light winds of April,
Rodriguez and Alderon rode away together.
Soon in the distance they saw Shadow Valley. And then Rodriguez
bethought him of Morano and of the foul wrong he committed against
Don Alderon with his frying-pan, and how he was there in the camp
to which he was bringing his friend. And so he said: "That vile
knave Morano still lives and insists on serving me."
"If he be near," said Don Alderon, "I pray you to disarm him of
his frying-pan for the sake of my honour, which does not suffer me
to be stricken with culinary weapons, but only with the sword, the
lance, or even bolts of cannon or arquebuss ..." He was thinking
of yet more weapons when Rodriguez put spurs to his horse. "He is
near," he said; "I will ride on and disarm him."
So Rodriguez came cantering into the forest while Don Alderon
ambled a mile or so behind him.
And there he found his old camp and saw Morano, sitting upon the
ground by a small fire. Morano sprang up at once with joy in his
eyes, his face wreathed with questions, which he did not put into
words for he did not pry openly into his master's affairs.
"Morano," said Rodriguez, "give me your frying-pan."
"My frying-pan?" said Morano.
"Yes," said Rodriguez. And when he held in his hand that
blackened, greasy utensil he told Morano, "That senor you met in
Lowlight rides with me."
The cheerfulness faded out of Morano's face as light fades at
sunset. "Master," he said, "he will surely slay me now."
"He will not slay you," said Rodriguez.
"Master," Morano said, "he hopes for my fat carcase as much as men
hope for the unicorn, when they wear their bright green coats and
hunt him with dogs in Spring." I know not what legend Morano
stored in his mind, nor how much of it was true. "And when he
finds me without my frying-pan he will surely slay me."
"That senor," said Rodriguez emphatically, "must not be hit with
"That is a hard rule, master," said Morano.
And Rodriguez was indignant, when he heard that, that anyone
should thus blaspheme against an obvious law of chivalry: while
Morano's only thought was upon the injustice of giving up the
sweets of life for the sake of a frying-pan. Thus they were at
cross-purposes. And for some while they stood silent, while
Rodriguez hung the reins of his horse over the broken branch of a
tree. And then Don Alderon rode into the wood.
All then that was most pathetic in Morano's sense of injustice
looked out of his eyes as he turned them upon his master. But Don
Alderon scarcely glanced at all at Morano, even when he handed to
him the reins of his horse as he walked on towards Rodriguez.
And there in that leafy place they rested all through the evening,
for they had not started so early upon their journey as travellers
should. Eight days had gone since Rodriguez had left that small
camp to ride to Lowlight, and to the apex of his life towards
which all his days had ascended; and in that time Morano had
collected good store of wood and, in little ways unthought of by
dwellers in cities, had made the place like such homes as
wanderers find. Don Alderon was charmed with their roof of
towering greenness, and with the choirs of those which inhabited
it and which were now all coming home to sing. And at some moment
in the twilight, neither Rodriguez nor Alderon noticed when,
Morano repossessed himself of his frying-pan, unbidden by
Rodriguez, but acting on a certain tacit permission that there
seemed to be in the twilight or in the mood of the two young men
as they sat by the fire. And soon he was cooking once more, at a
fire of his own, with something of the air that you see upon a
Field Marshal's face who has lost his baton and found it again.
Have you ever noticed it, reader?
And when the meal was ready Morano served it in silence, moving
unobtrusively in the gloom of the wood; for he knew that he was
forgiven, yet not so openly that he wished to insist on his
presence or even to imply his possession of the weapon that fried
the bacon. So, like a dryad he moved from tree to tree, and like
any fabulous creature was gone again. And the two young men supped
well, and sat on and on, watching the sparks go up on innumerable
journeys from the fire at which they sat, to be lost to sight in
huge wastes of blackness and stars, lost to sight utterly, lost
like the spirit of man to the gaze of our wonder when we try to
follow its journey beyond the hearths that we know.
All the next day they rode on through the forest, till they came
to the black circle of the old fire of their next camp. And here
Rodriguez halted on account of the attraction that one of his old
camps seems to have for a wanderer. It drew his feet towards it,
this blackened circle, this hearth that for one night made one
spot in the wilderness home. Don Alderon did not care whether they
tarried or hurried; he loved his journey through this leafy land;
the cool night-breeze slipping round the tree-trunks was new to
him, and new was the comradeship of the abundant stars; the quest
itself was a joy to him; with his fancy he built Rodriguez'
mysterious castle no less magnificently than did Don Alvidar.
Sometimes they talked of the castle, each of the young men
picturing it as he saw it; but in the warmth of the camp-fire
after Morano slept they talked of more than these chronicles can
In the morning they pressed on as fast as the forest's low boughs
would allow them. They passed somewhere near the great cottage in
which the bowmen feasted; but they held on, as they had decided
after discussion to do, for the last place in which Rodriguez had
seen the King of Shadow Valley, which was the place of his
promise. And before any dimness came even to the forest, or golden
shafts down colonnades which were before all cathedrals, they
found the old camp that they sought, which still had a clear
flavour of magic for Morano on account of the moth-like coming and
going of his three horses after he had tied them to that tree. And
here they looked for the King of Shadow Valley; and then Rodriguez
called him; and then all three of them called him, shouting "King
of Shadow Valley" all together. No answer came: the woods were
without echo: nothing stirred but fallen leaves. But before those
miles of silence could depress them Rodriguez hit upon a simple
plan, which was that he and Alderon should search all round, far
from the track, while Morano stayed in the camp and shouted
frequently, and they would not go out of hearing of his voice: for
Shadow Valley had a reputation of being a bad forest for
travellers to find their way there; indeed, few ever attempted to.
So they did as he said, he and Alderon searching in different
directions, while Morano remained in the camp, lifting a large and
melancholy voice. And though rumour said it was hard to find the
way when twenty yards from the track in Shadow Valley, it did not
say it was hard to find the green bowmen: and Rodriguez, knowing
that they guarded the forest as the shadows of trees guard the
coolness, was assured he would meet with some of them even though
he should miss their master. So he and Alderon searched till the
forest darkness came and only birds on high branches still had
light; and they never saw the King of Shadow Valley or any trace
whatever of any man. And Alderon first returned to the encampment;
but Rodriguez searched on into the night, searching and calling
through the darkness, and feeling, as every minute went by and
every faint call of Morano, that his castle was fading away,
slipping past oak-tree and thorn-bush, to take its place among the
unpitying stars. And when he returned at last from his useless
search he found Morano standing by a good fire, and the sight of
it a little cheered Rodriguez, and the sight of the firelight on
Morano's face, and the homely comfort of the camp, for everything
And over their supper Rodriguez and Alderon agreed that they had
come to a part of the forest too remote from the home of the King
of Shadow Valley, and decided to go the next day to the house of
the green bowmen: and before he slept Rodriguez felt once more
that all was well with his castle.
Yet when the next day came they searched again, for Rodriguez
remembered how it was to this very place that the King of Shadow
Valley had bidden him come in four weeks, and though this period
was not yet accomplished, he felt, and Alderon fully agreed, they
had waited long enough: so they searched all the morning, and then
fulfilled their decision of overnight by riding for the great
cottage Rodriguez knew. All the way they met no one. And
Rodriguez' gaiety came back as they rode, for he and Don Alderon
recognised more and more clearly that the bowmen's great cottage
was the place they should have gone at first.
In early evening they were just at their journey's end; but barely
had they left the track that they had ridden the day before,
barely taken the smaller path that led after a few hundred yards
to the cottage when they found themselves stopped by huge chains
that hung from tree to tree. High into the trees went the chains
above their heads where they sat their horses, and a chain ran
every six inches down to the very ground: the road was well
Rodriguez and Alderon hastily consulted; then, leaving the horses
with Morano, they followed the chains through dense forest to find
a place where they could get the horses through. Finding the
chains go on and on and on, and as evening was drawing in, the two
friends divided, Alderon going back and Rodriguez on, agreeing to
meet again on the path where Morano was.
It was darkening when they met there, Rodriguez having found
nothing but that iron barrier going on from trunk to trunk, and
Alderon having found a great gateway of iron; but it was shut.
Through the silent shadows stealing abroad at evening the three
men crashed their way on foot, leading their horses, towards this
gate; but their way was slow and difficult for no path at all led
up to it. It was dark when they reached it and they saw the high
gate in the night, a black barrier among the trees where no one
would wish to come, and in forest that seemed to these three to be
nearly impenetrable. And what astonished Rodriguez most of all was
that the chains had not been across the path when he had feasted
with the green bowmen.
They stood there gazing, all three, at the dark locked gate, and
then they saw two shields that met in the midst of it, and
Rodriguez mounted his horse and stretched up to feel what device
there was on the beaten iron; and both the shields were blank.
There they camped as well as men can when darkness has fallen
before they reach their camping-ground; and Morano lit a great
fire before the gate, and the smooth blank shields touching
shoulders there up above them shone on Rodriguez and Alderon in
the firelight. For a while they wondered at that strange gate that
stood there dividing the wilderness; and then sleep came.
As soon as they woke they called loudly, but no one guarded that
gate, no step but theirs stirred in the forest. Then, leaving
Morano in the camp with its great gate that led nowhere, the two
young men climbed up by branches and chains, and were soon on the
other side of the gate and pressing on through the silence of the
forest to find the cottage in which Rodriguez had slept. And
almost at once the green bowmen appeared, ten of them with their
bows, in front of Rodriguez and Alderon. "Stop," said the ten
green bowmen. When the bowmen said that, there was nothing else to
"What do you seek?" said the bowmen.
"The King of Shadow Valley," answered Rodriguez.
"He is not here," they said.
"Where is he?" asked Rodriguez.
"He is nowhere," said one, "when he does not wish to be seen."
"Then show me the castle that he promised me," said Rodriguez.
"We know nothing of any castle," said one of the bowmen, and they
all shook their heads.
"No castle?" said Rodriguez.
"No," they said.
"Has the King of Shadow Valley no castle?" he asked, beginning now
"We know of none," they said. "He lives in the forest."
Before Rodriguez quite despaired he asked each one if they knew
not of any castle of which their King was possessed; and each of
them said that there was no castle in all Shadow Valley. The ten
still stood in front of them with their bows: and Rodriguez turned
away then indeed in despair, and walked slowly back to the camp,
and Alderon walked behind him. In silence they reached their camp
by the great gate that led nowhere, and there Rodriguez sat down
on a log beside the dwindling fire, gazing at the grey ashes and
thinking of his dead hopes. He had not the heart to speak to
Alderon, and the silence was unbroken by Morano who, for all his
loquacity, knew when his words were not welcome. Don Alderon tried
to break that melancholy silence, saying that these ten bowmen did
not know the whole world; but he could not cheer Rodriguez. For,
sitting there in dejection on his log, thinking of all the
assurance with which he had often spoken of his castle, there was
one more thing to trouble him than Don Alderon knew. And this was
that when the bowmen had appeared he had hung once more round his
neck that golden badge that was worked for him by the King of
Shadow Valley; and they must have seen it, and they had paid no
heed to it whatever: its magic was wholly departed. And one thing
troubled him that Rodriguez did not know, a very potent factor in
human sorrow: he had left in the morning so eagerly that he had
had no breakfast, and this he entirely forgot and knew not how
much of his dejection came from this cause, thinking that the loss
of his castle was of itself enough.
So with downcast head he sat empty and hopeless, and the little
camp was silent.
In this mournful atmosphere while no one spoke, and no one seemed
to watch, stood, when at last Rodriguez raised his head, with
folded arms before the gate to nowhere, the King of Shadow Valley.
His face was surly, as though the face of a ghost, called from
important work among asteroids needing his care, by the trivial
legerdemain of some foolish novice. Rodriguez, looking into those
angry eyes, wholly forgot it was he that had a grievance. The
silence continued. And then the King of Shadow Valley spoke.
"When have I broken my word?" he said.
Rodriguez did not know. The man was still looking at him, still
standing there with folded arms before the great gate, confronting
him, demanding some kind of answer: and Rodriguez had nothing to
"I came because you promised me the castle," he said at last.
"I did not bid you come here," the man with the folded arms
"I went where you bade me," said Rodriguez, "and you were not
"In four weeks, I said," answered the King angrily.
And then Alderon spoke. "Have you any castle for my friend?" he
"No," said the King of Shadow Valley.
"You promised him one," said Don Alderon.
The King of Shadow Valley raised with his left hand a horn that
hung below his elbow by a green cord round his body. He made no
answer to Don Alderon, but put the horn against his lips and blew.
They watched him all three in silence, till the silence was broken
by many men moving swiftly through covert, and the green bowmen
When seven or eight were there he turned and looked at them. "When
have I broken my word?" he said to his men.
And they all answered him, "Never!"
More broke into sight through the bushes.
"Ask them" he said. And Rodriguez did not speak.
"Ask them," he said again, "when I have broken my word."
Still Rodriguez and Alderon said nothing. And the bowmen answered
them. "He has never broken his word," every bowman said.
"You promised me a castle," said Rodriguez, seeing that man's
fierce eyes upon him still.
"Then do as I bid you," answered the King of Shadow Valley; and he
turned round and touched the lock of the gates with some key that
he had. The gates moved open and the King went through.
Don Alderon ran forward after him, and caught up with him as he
strode away, and spoke to him, and the King answered. Rodriguez
did not hear what they said, and never afterwards knew. These
words he heard only, from the King of Shadow Valley as he and Don
Alderon parted: ".... and therefore, senor, it were better for
some holy man to do his blessed work before we come." And the King
of Shadow Valley passed into the deeps of the wood.
As the great gates were slowly swinging to, Don Alderon came back
thoughtfully. The gates clanged, clicked, and were shut again. The
King of Shadow Valley and all his bowmen were gone.
Don Alderon went to his horse, and Rodriguez and Morano did the
same, drawn by the act of the only man of the three that seemed to
have made up his mind. Don Alderon led his horse back toward the
path, and Rodriguez followed with his. When they came to the path
they mounted in silence; and presently Morano followed them, with
his blankets rolled up in front of him on his horse and his
frying-pan slung behind him.
"Which way?" said Rodriguez.
"Home," said Don Alderon.
"But I cannot go to your home," said Rodriguez.
"Come," said Don Alderon, as one whose plans were made. Rodriguez
without a home, without plans, without hope, went with Don Alderon
as thistledown goes with the warm wind. They rode through the
forest till it grew all so dim that only a faint tinge of
greenness lay on the dark leaves: above were patches of bluish sky
like broken pieces of steel. And a star or two were out when they
left the forest. And cantering on they came to Lowlight when the
Milky Way appeared.
And there were Dona Mirana and Serafina in the hall to greet them
as they entered the door.
"What news?" they asked.
But Rodriguez hung back; he had no news to give. It was Don
Alderon that went forward, speaking cheerily to Serafina, and
afterwards to his mother, with whom he spoke long and anxiously,
pointing toward the forest sometimes, almost, as Rodriguez
thought, in fear.
And a little later, when the ladies had retired, Don Alderon told
Rodriguez over the wine, with which he had tried to cheer his
forlorn companion, that it was arranged that he should marry
Serafina. And when Rodriguez lamented that this was impossible he
replied that the King of Shadow Valley wished it. And when
Rodriguez heard this his astonishment equalled his happiness, for
he marvelled that Don Alderon should not only believe that strange
man's unsupported promise, but that he should even obey him as
though he held him in awe.
And on the next day Rodriguez spoke with Dona Mirana as they
walked in the glory of the garden. And Dona Mirana gave him her
consent as Don Alderon had done: and when Rodriguez spoke humbly
of postponement she glanced uneasily towards Shadow Valley, as
though she too feared the strange man who ruled over the forest
which she had never entered.
And so it was that Rodriguez walked with his lady, with the sweet
Serafina in that garden again. And walking there they forgot the
need of house or land, forgot Shadow Valley with its hopes and its
doubts, and all the anxieties of the thoughts that we take for the
morrow: and when evening came and the birds sang in azaleas, and
the shadows grew solemn and long, and winds blew cool from the
blazing bed of the Sun, into the garden now all strange and still,
they forgot our Earth and, beyond the mundane coasts, drifted on
dreams of their own into aureate regions of twilight, to wander in
lands wherein lovers walk briefly and only once.
THE TWELFTH CHRONICLE
THE BUILDING OF CASTLE RODRIGUEZ AND THE ENDING OF THESE
When the King of Shadow Valley met Rodriguez, for the first time
in the forest, and gave him his promise and left him by his camp-
fire, he went back some way towards the bowmen's cottage and blew
his horn; and his hundred bowmen were about him almost at once. To
these he gave their orders and they went back, whence they had
come, into the forest's darkness. But he went to the bowmen's
cottage and paced before it, a dark and lonely figure of the
night; and wherever he paced the ground he marked it with small
sticks. And next morning the hundred bowmen came with axes as soon
as the earliest light had entered the forest, and each of them
chose out one of the giant trees that stood before the cottage,
and attacked it. All day they swung their axes against the
forest's elders, of which nearly a hundred were fallen when
evening came. And the stoutest of these, great trunks that were
four feet through, were dragged by horses to the bowmen's cottage
and laid by the little sticks that the King of Shadow Valley had
put overnight in the ground. The bowmen's cottage and the kitchen
that was in the wood behind it, and a few trees that still stood,
were now all enclosed by four lines of fallen trees which made a
large rectangle on the ground with a small square at each of its
corners. And craftsmen came, and smoothed and hollowed the inner
sides of the four rows of trees, working far into the night. So
was the first day's work accomplished and so was built the first
layer of the walls of Castle Rodriguez.
On the next day the bowmen again felled a hundred trees; the top
of the first layer was cut flat by carpenters; at evening the
second layer was hoisted up after their under sides had been
flattened to fit the layer below them; quantities more were cast
in to make the floor when they had been gradually smoothed and
fitted: at the end of the second day a man could not see over the
walls of Castle Rodriguez. And on the third day more craftsmen
arrived, men from distant villages at the forest's edge, whence
the King of Shadow Valley had summoned them; and they carved the
walls as they grew. And a hundred trees fell that day, and the
castle was another layer higher. And all the while a park was
growing in the forest, as they felled the great trees; but the
greatest trees of all the bowmen spared, oaks that had stood there
for ages and ages of men; they left them to grip the earth for a
while longer, for a few more human generations.
On the fourth day the two windows at the back of the bowmen's
cottage began to darken, and that evening Castle Rodriguez was
fifteen feet high. And still the hundred bowmen hewed at the
forest, bringing sunlight bright on to grass that was shadowed by
oaks for ages. And at the end of the fifth day they began to roof
the lower rooms and make their second floor: and still the castle
grew a layer a day, though the second storey they built with
thinner trees that were only three feet through, which were more
easily carried to their place by the pulleys. And now they began
to heap up rocks in a mass of mortar against the wall on the
outside, till a steep slope guarded the whole of the lower part of
the castle against fire from any attacker if war should come that
way, in any of the centuries that were yet to be: and the deep
windows they guarded with bars of iron.
The shape of the castle showed itself clearly now, rising on each
side of the bowmen's cottage and behind it, with a tower at each
of its corners. To the left of the old cottage the main doorway
opened to the great hall, in which a pile of a few huge oaks was
being transformed into a massive stair. Three figures of strange
men held up this ceiling with their heads and uplifted hands, when
the castle was finished; but as yet the carvers had only begun
their work, so that only here and there an eye peeped out, or a
smile flickered, to give any expression to the curious faces of
these fabulous creatures of the wood, which were slowly taking
their shape out of three trees whose roots were still in the earth
below the floor. In an upper storey one of these trees became a
tall cupboard; and the shelves and the sides and the back and the
top of it were all one piece of oak.
All the interior of the castle was of wood, hollowed into alcoves
and polished, or carved into figures leaning out from the walls.
So vast were the timbers that the walls, at a glance, seemed
almost one piece of wood. And the centuries that were coming to
Spain darkened the walls as they came, through autumnal shades
until they were all black, as though they all mourned in secret
for lost generations; but they have not yet crumbled.
The fireplaces they made with great square red tiles, which they
also put in the chimneys amongst rude masses of mortar: and these
great dark holes remained always mysterious to those that looked
for mystery in the family that whiled away the ages in that
castle. And by every fireplace two queer carved creatures stood
upholding the mantlepiece, with mystery in their faces and curious
limbs, uniting the hearth with fable and with tales told in the
wood. Years after the men that carved them were all dust the
shadows of these creatures would come out and dance in the room,
on wintry nights when all the lamps were gone and flames stole out
and flickered above the smouldering logs.
In the second storey one great saloon ran all the length of the
castle. In it was a long table with eight legs that had carvings
of roses rambling along its edges: the table and its legs were all
of one piece with the floor. They would never have hollowed the
great trunk in time had they not used fire. The second storey was
barely complete on the day that Rodriguez and Don Alderon and
Morano came to the chains that guarded the park. And the King of
Shadow Valley would not permit his gift to be seen in anything
less than its full magnificence, and had commanded that no man in
the world might enter to see the work of his bowmen and craftsmen
until it should frown at all comers a castle formidable as any in
And then they heaped up the mortar and rock to the top of the
second storey, but above that they let the timbers show, except
where they filled in plaster between the curving trunks: and the
ages blackened the timber in amongst the white plaster; but not a
storm that blew in all the years that came, nor the moss of so
many Springs, ever rotted away those beams that the forest had
given and on which the bowmen had laboured so long ago. But the
castle weathered the ages and reached our days, worn, battered
even, by its journey through the long and sometimes troubled
years, but splendid with the traffic that it had with history in
many gorgeous periods. Here Valdar the Excellent came once in his
youth. And Charles the Magnificent stayed a night in this castle
when on a pilgrimage to a holy place of the South.
It was here that Peter the Arrogant in his cups gave Africa, one
Spring night, to his sister's son. What grandeurs this castle has
seen! What chronicles could be writ of it! But not these
chronicles, for they draw near their close, and they have yet to
tell how the castle was built. Others shall tell what banners flew
from all four of its towers, adding a splendour to the wind, and
for what cause they flew. I have yet to tell of their building.
The second storey was roofed, and Castle Rodriguez still rose one
layer day by day, with a hauling at pulleys and the work of a
hundred men: and all the while the park swept farther into the
And the trees that grew up through the building were worked by the
craftsmen in every chamber into which they grew: and a great
branch of the hugest of them made a little crooked stair in an
upper storey. On the floors they laid down skins of beasts that
the bowmen slew in the forest; and on the walls there hung all
manner of leather, tooled and dyed as they had the art to do in
that far-away period in Spain.
When the third storey was finished they roofed the castle over,
laying upon the huge rafters red tiles that they made of clay. But
the towers were not yet finished.
At this time the King of Shadow Valley sent a runner into Lowlight
to shoot a blunt arrow with a message tied to it into Don
Alderon's garden, near to the door, at evening.
And they went on building the towers above the height of the roof
And near the top of them they made homes for archers, little
turrets that leaned like swallows' nests out from each tower, high
places where they could see and shoot and not be seen from below.
And little narrow passages wound away behind perched battlements
of stone, by which archers could slip from place to place, and
shoot from here or from there and never be known. So were built in
that distant age the towers of Castle Rodriguez.
And one day four weeks from the felling of the first oak, the
period of his promise being accomplished, the King of Shadow
Valley blew his horn. And standing by what had been the bowmen's
cottage, now all shut in by sheer walls of Castle Rodriguez, he
gathered his bowmen to him. And when they were all about him he
gave them their orders. They were to go by stealth to the village
of Lowlight, and were to be by daylight before the house of Don
Alderon; and, whether wed or unwed, whether she fled or folk
defended the house, to bring Dona Serafina of the Valley of
Dawnlight to be the chatelaine of Castle Rodriguez.
For this purpose he bade them take with them a chariot that he
thought magnificent, though the mighty timbers that gave grandeur
to Castle Rodriguez had a cumbrous look in the heavy vehicle that
was to the bowmen's eyes the triumphal car of the forest. So they
took their bows and obeyed, leaving the craftsmen at their work in
the castle, which was now quite roofed over, towers and all. They
went through the forest by little paths that they knew, going
swiftly and warily in the bowmen's way: and just before nightfall
they were at the forest's edge, though they went no farther from
it than its shadows go in the evening. And there they rested under
the oak trees for the early part of the night except those whose
art it was to gather news for their king; and three of those went
into Lowlight and mixed with the villagers there.
When white mists moved over the fields near dawn and wavered
ghostly about Lowlight, the green bowman moved with them. And just
out of hearing of the village, behind wild shrubs that hid them,
the bowmen that were coming from the forest met the three that had
spent the night in taverns of Lowlight. And the three told the
hundred of the great wedding that there was to be in the Church of
the Renunciation that morning in Lowlight: and of the preparations
that were made, and how holy men had come from far on mules, and
had slept the night in the village, and the Bishop of Toledo
himself would bless the bridegroom's sword. The bowmen therefore
retired a little way and, moving through the mists, came forward
to points whence they could watch the church, well concealed on
the wild plain, which here and there gave up a field to man but
was mostly the playground of wild creatures whose ways were the
bowmen's ways. And here they waited.
This was the wedding of Rodriguez and Serafina, of which gossips
often spoke at their doors in summer evenings, old women mumbling
of fair weddings that each had seen; and they had been children
when they saw this wedding; they were those that threw small
handfuls of anemones on the path before the porch. They told the
tale of it till they could tell no more. It is the account of the
last two or three of them, old, old women, that came at last to
these chronicles, so that their tongues may wag as it were a
little longer through these pages although they have been for so
many centuries dead. And this is all that books are able to do.
First there was bell-ringing and many voices, and then the voices
hushed, and there came the procession of eight divines of Murcia,
whose vestments were strange to Lowlight. Then there came a priest
from the South, near the border of Andalusia, who overnight had
sanctified the ring. (It was he who had entertained Rodriguez when
he first escaped from la Garda, and Rodriguez had sent for him
now.) Each note of the bells came clear through the hush as they
entered the church. And then with suitable attendants the bishop
strode by and they saw quite close the blessed cope of Toledo. And
the bridegroom followed him in, wearing his sword, and Don Alderon
went with him. And then the voices rose again in the street: the
bells rang on: they all saw Dona Mirana. The little bunches of
bright anemones grew sticky in their hands: the bells seemed
louder: cheering rose in the street and came all down it nearer.
Then Dona Serafina walked past them with all her maids: and that
is what the gossips chiefly remembered, telling how she smiled at
them, and praising her dress, through those distant summer
evenings. Then there was music in the church. And afterwards the
forest-people had come. And the people screamed, for none knew
what they would do. But they bowed so low to the bride and
bridegroom, and showed their great hunting bows so willingly to
all who wished to see, that the people lost their alarm and only
feared lest the Bishop of Toledo should blast the merry bowmen
with one of his curses.
And presently the bride and bridegroom entered the chariot, and
the people cheered; and there were farewells and the casting of
flowers; and the bishop blessed three of their bows; and a fat man
sat beside the driver with folded arms, wearing bright on his face
a look of foolish contentment; and the bowmen and bride and
bridegroom all went away to the forest.
Four huge white horses drew that bridal chariot, the bowmen ran
beside it, and soon it was lost to sight of the girls that watched
it from Lowlight; but their memories held it close till their eyes
could no longer see to knit and they could only sit by their
porches in fine weather and talk of the days that were.
So came Rodriguez and his bride to the forest; he silent,
perplexed, wondering always to what home and what future he
brought her; she knowing less than he and trusting more. And on
the untended road that the bowmen shared with stags and with rare,
very venturous travellers, the wheels of the woodland chariot sank
so deep in the sandy earth that the escort of bowmen needed seldom
to run any more; and he who sat by the driver climbed down and
walked silent for once, perhaps awed by the occasion, though he
was none other than Morano. Serafina was delighted with the
forest, but between Rodriguez and its beautiful grandeur his
anxieties crowded thickly. He leaned over once from the chariot
and asked one of the bowmen again about that castle; but the
bowman only bowed and answered with a proverb of Spain, not easily
carried so far from its own soil to thrive in our language, but
signifying that the morrow showeth all things. He was silent then,
for he knew that there was no way to a direct answer through those
proverbs, and after a while perhaps there came to him some of
Serafma's trustfulness. By evening they came to a wide avenue
leading to great gates.
Rodriguez did not know the avenue, he knew no paths so wide in
Shadow Valley; but he knew those gates. They were the gates of
iron that led nowhere. But now an avenue went from them upon the
other side, and opened widely into a park dotted with clumps of
trees. And the two great iron shields, they too had changed with
the changes that had bewitched the forest, for their surfaces that
had glowed so unmistakably blank, side by side in the firelight,
not many nights before, blazoned now the armorial bearings of
Rodriguez upon the one and those of the house of Dawnlight upon
the other. Through the opened gates they entered the young park
that seemed to wonder at its own ancient trees, where wild deer
drifted away from them like shadows through the evening: for the
bowmen had driven in deer for miles through the forest. They
passed a pool where water-lilies lay in languid beauty for
hundreds of summers, but as yet no flower peeped into the water,
for the pond was all hallowed newly.
A clump of trees stood right ahead of their way; they passed round
it; and Castle Rodriguez came all at once into view. Serafina
gasped joyously. Rodriguez saw its towers, its turrets for
archers, its guarded windows deep in the mass of stone, its solemn
row of battlements, but he did not believe what he saw. He did not
believe that here at last was his castle, that here was his dream
fulfilled and his journey done. He expected to wake suddenly in
the cold in some lonely camp, he expected the Ebro to unfold its
coils in the North and to come and sweep it away. It was but
another strayed hope, he thought, taking the form of dream. But
Castle Rodriguez still stood frowning there, and none of its
towers vanished, or changed as things change in dreams; but the
servants of the King of Shadow Valley opened the great door, and
Serafina and Rodriguez entered, and all the hundred bowmen
Here we will leave them, and let these Chronicles end. For whoever
would tell more of Castle Rodriguez must wield one of those
ponderous pens that hangs on the study wall in the house of
historians. Great days in the story of Spain shone on those iron-
barred windows, and things were said in its banqueting chamber and
planned in its inner rooms that sometimes turned that story this
way or that, as rocks turn a young river. And as a traveller meets
a mighty river at one of its bends, and passes on his path, while
the river sweeps on to its estuary and the sea, so I leave the
triumphs and troubles of that story which I touched for one moment
by the door of Castle Rodriguez.
My concern is but with Rodriguez and Serafina and to tell that
they lived here in happiness; and to tell that the humble Morano
found his happiness too. For he became the magnificent steward of
Castle Rodriguez, the majordomo, and upon august occasions he
wore as much red plush as he had ever seen in his dreams, when he
saw this very event, sleeping by dying camp-fires. And he slept
not upon straw but upon good heaps of wolf-skins. But pining a
little in the second year of his somewhat lonely splendour, he
married one of the maidens of the forest, the child of a bowman
that hunted boars with their king. And all the green bowmen came
and built him a house by the gates of the park, whence he walked
solemnly on proper occasions to wait upon his master. Morano,
good, faithful man, come forward for but a moment out of the
Golden Age and bow across all those centuries to the reader: say
one farewell to him in your Spanish tongue, though the sound of it
be no louder than the sound of shadows moving, and so back to the
dim splendour of the past, for the Senor or Senora shall hear your
name no more.
For years Rodriguez lived a chieftain of the forest, owning the
overlordship of the King of Shadow Valley, whom he and Serafina
would entertain with all the magnificence of which their castle
was capable on such occasions as he appeared before the iron
gates. They seldom saw him. Sometimes they heard his horn as he
went by. They heard his bowmen follow. And all would pass and
perhaps they would see none. But upon occasions he came. He came
to the christening of the eldest son of Rodriguez and Serafina,
for whom he was godfather. He came again to see the boy shoot for
the first time with a bow. And later he came to give little
presents, small treasures of the forest, to Rodriguez' daughters;
who treated him always, not as sole lord of that forest that
travellers dreaded, but as a friend of their very own that they
had found for themselves. He had his favourites among them and
none quite knew which they were.
And one day he came in his old age to give Rodriguez a message.
And he spoke long and tenderly of the forest as though all its
glades were sacred.
And soon after that day he died, and was buried with the mourning
of all his men in the deeps of Shadow Valley, where only Rodriguez
and the bowmen knew. And Rodriguez became, as the old king had
commanded, the ruler of Shadow Valley and all its faithful men.
With them he hunted and defended the forest, holding all its ways
to be sacred, as the old king had taught. It is told how Rodriguez
ruled the forest well.
And later he made a treaty with the Spanish King acknowledging him