Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Jurgen by James Branch Cabell

Part 2 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

There was no doubt about it, in that be-drenching moonlight: and she
was leering at him, and he was touching her everywhere, this horrible
lascivious woman, who was certainly quite old enough to know better
than to permit such liberties. And her breath was sour and nauseous.
Jurgen drew away from her, with a shiver of loathing, and he closed his
eyes, to shut away that sensual face.

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

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

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


Old Toys and a New Shadow

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

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

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

"High time!"

"Oh, more than time!"

"Look, the man in the oak!"

"Oho, the fire-drake!"

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

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

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

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

"No, no! let Brachyotus!"

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

"Eman hetan, a fight, a fight!"

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

"Hast thou the marmaritin, Tib?"

"A ab hur hus!"

"Come, Bembo, come away!"

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

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

So in went Jurgen, for the second time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Orthodox Rescue of Guenevere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"But time presses."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Two sticks will serve, laid crosswise--"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pitiful Disguises of Thragnar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Appearance of the Duke of Logreus

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

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

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

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

Thus Jurgen, whose periods were confused by emotion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Excursus of Yolande's Undoing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How is that shown, Messire de Logreus?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What do you plan, Messire de Logreus?"

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

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

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

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

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

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


Philosophy of Gogyrvan Gawr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That is true," said Jurgen, heartily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gogyrvan told him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Preliminary Tactics of Duke Jurgen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You should know very well what I mean."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Of compromises in Glathion

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

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

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

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

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

"And besides, I am afraid."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jurgen asked questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Divers Imbroglios of King Smoit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About a Cock That Crowed Too Soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And what was that thing, Sylvia?"

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

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

Book of the day: