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Jurgen by James Branch Cabell

Part 4 out of 6

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attractive simplicity about Leuke. I might put up with Leuke if the
local by-laws allowed me a rational amount of discomfort."

"Discomfort you would have full measure. For the heart of no man
remains untroubled after he has once viewed Queen Helen and the
beauty that is hers. It is for that reason, Jurgen, I shall not help
you to go into Leuke: for in Leuke you would forget me, having seen
Queen Helen."

"Why, what nonsense you are talking, my darling! I will wager she
cannot hold a candle to you."

"See for yourself!" said Anaitis, sadly.

Now through the rolling vapors came confusedly a gleaming and a
surging glitter of all the loveliest colors of heaven and earth:
and these took order presently, and Jurgen saw before him in the
hour-glass that young Dorothy who was not Heitman Michael's wife.
And long and wistfully he looked at her, and the blinding tears
came to his eyes for no reason at all, and for the while he could
not speak.

Then Jurgen yawned, and said, "But certainly this is not the Helen
who was famed for beauty."

"I can assure you that it is," said Anaitis: "and that it is she who
rules in Leuke, whither I do not intend you shall go."

"Why, but, my darling! this is preposterous. The girl is nothing to
look at twice, one way or the other. She is not actually ugly, I
suppose, if one happens to admire that washed-out blonde type, as of
course some people do. But to call her beautiful is out of reason;
and that I must protest in simple justice."

"Do you really think so?" says Anaitis, brightening.

"I most assuredly do. Why, you remember what Calpurnius Bassus says
about all blondes?"

"No, I believe not. What did he say, dear?"

"I would only spoil the splendid passage by quoting it inaccurately
from memory. But he was quite right, and his opinion is mine in
every particular. So if that is the best Leuke can offer, I heartily
agree with you I had best go into some other country."

"I suppose you already have your eyes upon some minx or other?"

"Well, my love, those girls in the Hesperides were strikingly like
you, with even more wonderful hair than yours: and the girl Aille
whom we saw in Tir-nam-Beo likewise resembled you remarkably, except
that I thought she had the better figure. So I believe in either of
those countries I could be content enough, after a while. Since part
from you I must," said Jurgen, tenderly, "I intend, in common
fairness to myself, to find a companion as like you as possible. You
conceive I can pretend it is you at first: and then as I grow fonder
of her for her own sake, you will gradually be put out of my mind
without my incurring any intolerable anguish."

Anaitis was not pleased. "So you are already hankering after those
huzzies! And you think them better looking than I am! And you tell
me so to my face!"

"My darling, you cannot deny we have been married all of three whole
months: and nobody can maintain an infatuation for any woman that
long, in the teeth of having nothing refused him. Infatuation is
largely a matter of curiosity, and both of these emotions die when
they are fed."

"Jurgen," said Anaitis, with conviction, "you are lying to me about
something. I can see it in your eyes."

"There is no deceiving a woman's intuition. Yes, I was not speaking
quite honestly when I pretended I had as lief go into the Hesperides
as to Tir-nam-Beo: it was wrong of me, and I ask your pardon. I
thought that by affecting indifference I could manage you better.
But you saw through me at once, and very rightly became angry. So I
fling my cards upon the table, I no longer beat about the bushes of
equivocation. It is Aille, the daughter of Cormac, whom I love, and
who can blame me? Did you ever in your life behold a more enticing
figure, Anaitis?--certainly I never did. Besides, I noticed--but
never mind about that! Still I could not help seeing them. And then
such eyes! twin beacons that light my way to comfort for my not
inconsiderable regret at losing you, my darling. Oh, yes, assuredly
it is to Tir-nam-Beo I elect to go."

"Whither you go, my fine fellow, is a matter in which I have the
choice, not you. And you are going to Leuke."

"My love, now do be reasonable! We both agreed that Leuke was not a
bit suitable. Why, were there nothing else, in Leuke there are no
attractive women."

"Have you no sense except book-sense! It is for that reason I am
sending you to Leuke."

And thus speaking, Anaitis set about a strong magic that hastened
the coming of the Equinox. In the midst of her charming she wept a
little, for she was fond of Jurgen.

And Jurgen preserved a hurt and angry face as well as he could: for
at the sight of Queen Helen, who was so like young Dorothy la
Desiree, he had ceased to care for Queen Anaitis and her diverting
ways, or to care for aught else in the world save only Queen Helen,
the delight of gods and men. But Jurgen had learned that Anaitis
required management.

"For her own good," as he put it, "and in simple justice to the many
admirable qualities which she possesses."


Vexatious Estate of Queen Helen

"But how can I travel with the Equinox, with a fictitious thing,
with a mere convention?" Jurgen had said. "To demand any such
proceeding of me is preposterous."

"Is it any more preposterous than to travel with an imaginary
creature like a centaur?" they had retorted. "Why, Prince Jurgen, we
wonder how you, who have done that perfectly unheard-of thing, can
have the effrontery to call anything else preposterous! Is there no
reason at all in you? Why, conventions are respectable, and that is
a deal more than can be said for a great many centaurs. Would you be
throwing stones at respectability, Prince Jurgen? Why, we are
unutterably astounded at your objection to any such well-known
phenomenon as the Equinox!" And so on, and so on, and so on, said

And in fine, they kept at him until Jurgen was too confused to
argue, and his head was in a whirl, and one thing seemed as
preposterous as another: and he ceased to notice any especial
improbability in his traveling with the Equinox, and so passed
without any further protest or argument about it, from Cocaigne to
Leuke. But he would not have been thus readily flustered had Jurgen
not been thinking all the while of Queen Helen and of the beauty
that was hers.

So he inquired forthwith the way that one might quickliest come into
the presence of Queen Helen.

"Why, you will find Queen Helen," he was told, "in her palace at
Pseudopolis." His informant was a hamadryad, whom Jurgen encountered
upon the outskirts of a forest overlooking the city from the west.
Beyond broad sloping stretches of ripe corn, you saw Pseudopolis as
a city builded of gold and ivory, now all a dazzling glitter under a
hard-seeming sky that appeared unusually remote from earth.

"And is the Queen as fair as people report?" asks Jurgen.

"Men say that she excels all other women," replied the Hamadryad,
"as immeasurably as all we women perceive her husband to surpass all
other men--"

"But, oh, dear me!" says Jurgen.

"--Although, for one, I see nothing remarkable in Queen Helen's
looks. And I cannot but think that a woman who has been so much
talked about ought to be more careful in the way she dresses."

"So this Queen Helen is already provided with a husband!" Jurgen was
displeased, but saw no reason for despair. Then Jurgen inquired as
to the Queen's husband, and learned that Achilles, the son of
Peleus, was now wedded to Helen, the Swan's daughter, and that these
two ruled in Pseudopolis.

"For they report," said the Hamadryad, "that in Ades' dreary kingdom
Achilles remembered her beauty, and by this memory was heartened to
break the bonds of Ades: so did Achilles, King of Men, and all his
ancient comrades come forth resistlessly upon a second quest of this
Helen, whom people call--and as I think, with considerable
exaggeration--the wonder of this world. Then the Gods fulfilled the
desire of Achilles, because, they said, the man who has once beheld
Queen Helen will never any more regain contentment so long as his
life lacks this wonder of the world. Personally, I would dislike to
think that all men are so foolish."

"Men are not always rational, I grant you: but then," says Jurgen,
slyly, "so many of their ancestresses are feminine."

"But an ancestress is always feminine. Nobody ever heard of a man
being an ancestress. Men are ancestors. Why, whatever are you
talking about?"

"Well, we were speaking, I believe, of Queen Helen's marriage."

"To be sure we were! And I was telling you about the Gods, when you
made that droll mistake about ancestors. Everybody makes mistakes
sometimes, however, and foreigners are always apt to get words
confused. I could see at once you were a foreigner--"

"Yes," said Jurgen, "but you were not telling me about myself but
about the Gods."

"Why, you must know the aging Gods desired tranquillity. So we will
give her to Achilles, they said; and then, it may be, this King of
Men will retain her so safely that his littler fellows will despair,
and will cease to war for Helen: and so we shall not be bothered any
longer by their wars and other foolishnesses. For this reason it was
that the Gods gave Helen to Achilles, and sent the pair to reign in
Leuke: though, for my part," concluded the Hamadryad, "I shall never
cease to wonder what he saw in her--no, not if I live to be a

"I must," says Jurgen, "observe this monarch Achilles before the world
is a day older. A king is all very well, of course, but no husband
wears a crown so as to prevent the affixion of other head-gear."

And Jurgen went down into Pseudopolis, swaggering.

* * * * *

So in the evening, just after sunset, Jurgen returned to the
Hamadryad: he walked now with the aid of the ashen staff which
Thersites had given Jurgen, and Jurgen was mirthless and rather

"I have observed your King Achilles," Jurgen says, "and he is a
better man than I. Queen Helen, as I confess with regret, is
worthily mated."

"And what have you to say about her?" inquires the Hamadryad.

"Why, there is nothing more to say than that she is worthily mated,
and fit to be the wife of Achilles." For once, poor Jurgen was
really miserable. "For I admire this man Achilles, I envy him, and I
fear him," says Jurgen: "and it is not fair that he should have been
created my superior."

"But is not Queen Helen the loveliest of ladies that you have ever

"As to that--!" says Jurgen. He led the Hamadryad to a forest pool
hard-by the oak-tree in which she resided. The dusky water lay
unruffled, a natural mirror. "Look!" said Jurgen, and he spoke with
a downward waving of his staff.

The silence gathering in the woods was wonderful. Here the air was
sweet and pure: and the little wind which went about the ilex boughs
in search of night was a tender and peaceful wind, because it knew
that the all-healing night was close at hand.

The Hamadryad replied, "But I see only my own face."

"It is the answer to your question, none the less. Now do you tell
me your name, my dear, so that I may know who in reality is the
loveliest of all the ladies I have ever seen."

The Hamadryad told him that her name was Chloris, and that she
always looked a fright with her hair arranged as it was to-day, and
that he was a strangely impudent fellow. So he in turn confessed to
her he was King Jurgen of Eubonia, drawn from his remote kingdom by
exaggerated reports as to the beauty of Queen Helen. Chloris agreed
with him that rumor was in such matters invariably untrustworthy.

This led to further talk as twilight deepened: and the while that a
little by a little this pretty girl was convered into a warm
breathing shadow, hardly visible to the eye, the shadow of Jurgen
departed from him, and he began to talk better and better. He had
seen Queen Helen face to face, and other women now seemed
unimportant. Whether or not he got into the graces of this Hamadryad
did not greatly matter, one way or the other: and in consequence
Jurgen talked with such fluency, such apposite remarks and such
tenderness as astounded him.

So he sat listening with delight to the seductive tongue of that
monstrous clever fellow, Jurgen. For this plump brown-haired
bright-eyed little creature, this Chloris, he was honestly sorry.
Into the uneventful life of a hamadryad, here in this uncultured
forest, could not possibly have entered much pleasurable excitement,
and it seemed only right to inject a little. "Why, simply in justice
to her!" Jurgen reflected. "I must deal fairly."

Now it grew darker and darker under the trees, and in the dark
nobody can see what happens. There were only two voices that talked,
with lengthy pauses: and they spoke gravely of unimportant trifles,
like children at play together.

"And how does a king come thus to be traveling without any retinue
or even a sword about him?"

"Why, I travel with a staff, my dear, as you perceive: and it
suffices me."

"Certainly it is large enough, in all conscience. Alas, young
outlander, who call yourself a king! you carry the bludgeon of a
highwayman, and I am afraid of it."

"My staff is a twig from Yggdrasill, the tree of universal life:
Thersites gave it me, and the sap that throbs therein arises from
the Undar fountain, where the grave Norns make laws for men and fix
their destinies."

"Thersites is a scoffer, and his gifts are mockery. I would have
none of them."

The two began to wrangle, not at all angrily, as to what Jurgen had
best do with his prized staff. "Do you take it away from me, at any
rate!" says Chloris. So Jurgen hid his staff where Chloris could not
possibly see it; and he drew the Hamadryad close to him, and he
laughed contentedly.

"Oh, oh! O wretched King," cried Chloris, "I fear that you will be
the death of me! And you have no right to oppress me in this way,
for I am not your subject."

"Rather shall you be my queen, dear Chloris, receiving all that I
most prize."

"But you are too domineering: and I am afraid to be alone with you
and your big staff! Ah! not without knowing what she talked about
did my mother use to quote her AEolic saying, The king is cruel and
takes joy in bloodshed!"

"Presently you will not be afraid of me, nor will you be afraid of
my staff. Custom is all. For this likewise is an AEolic saying, The
taste of the first olive is unpleasant, but the second is good."

Now for a while was silence save for the small secretive rumors of
the forest. One of the large green locusts which frequent the Island
of Leuke began shrilling tentatively.

"Wait now, King Jurgen, for surely I hear footsteps, and one comes
to trouble us."

"It is a wind in the tree-tops: or perhaps it is a god who envies
me. I pause for neither."

"Ah, but speak reverently of the Gods! For is not Love a god, and a
jealous god that has wings with which to leave us?"

"Then am I a god, for in my heart is love, and in every fibre of me
is love, and from me now love emanates."

"But certainly I heard somebody approaching through the forest--"

"Well, and do you not perceive I have withdrawn my staff from its

"Ah, you have great faith in that staff of yours!"

"I fear nobody when I brandish it."

Another locust had answered the first one. Now the two insects were
in full dispute, suffusing the warm darkness with their pertinacious

"King of Eubonia, it is certainly true, that which you told me about

"Yes, for always love begets truthfulness."

"I pray it may beget between us utter truthfulness, and nothing
else, King Jurgen."

"Not 'Jurgen' now, but 'love'."

"Indeed, they tell that even so, in such deep darkness, Love came to
his sweetheart Psyche."

"Then why do you complain because I piously emulate the Gods, and
offer unto Love the sincerest form of flattery?" And Jurgen shook
his staff at her.

"Ah, but you are strangely ready with your flattery! and Love
threatened Psyche with no such enormous staff."

"That is possible: for I am Jurgen. And I deal fairly with all
women, and raise my staff against none save in the way of kindness."

So they talked nonsense, in utter darkness, while the locusts, and
presently a score of locusts, disputed obstinately. Now Chloris and
Jurgen were invisible, even to each other, as they talked under her
oak-tree: but before them the fields shone mistily under a gold-dusted
dome, for this night seemed builded of stars. And the white towers of
Pseudopolis also could Jurgen see, as he laughed there and took his
pleasure with Chloris. He reflected that very probably Achilles and
Helen were laughing thus, and were not dissimilarly occupied, out
yonder, in this night of wonder.

He sighed. But in a while Jurgen and the Hamadryad were speaking
again, just as inconsequently, and the locusts were whirring just as
obstinately. Later the moon rose, and they all slept.

With the dawn Jurgen arose, and left this Hamadryad Chloris still
asleep. He stood where he overlooked the city and the shirt of
Nessus glittered in the level sun rays: and Jurgen thought of Queen
Helen. Then he sighed, and went back to Chloris and wakened her with
the sort of salutation that appeared her just due.


Of Compromises in Leuke

Now the tale tells that ten days later Jurgen and his Hamadryad were
duly married, in consonance with the law of the Wood: not for a
moment did Chloris consider any violation of the proprieties, so
they were married the first evening she could assemble her kindred.

"Still, Chloris, I already have two wives," says Jurgen, "and it is
but fair to confess it."

"I thought it was only yesterday you arrived in Leuke."

"That is true: for I came with the Equinox, over the long sea."

"Then Jugatinus has not had time to marry you to anybody, and
certainly he would never think of marrying you to two wives. Why do
you talk such nonsense?"

"No, it is true, I was not married by Jugatinus."

"So there!" says Chloris, as if that settled matters. "Now you see
for yourself."

"Why, yes, to be sure," says Jurgen, "that does put rather a
different light upon it, now I think of it."

"It makes all the difference in the world."

"I would hardly go that far. Still, I perceive it makes a

"Why, you talk as if everybody did not know that Jugatinus marries

"No, dear, let us be fair! I did not say precisely that."

"--And as if everybody was not always married by Jugatinus!"

"Yes, here in Leuke, perhaps. But outside of Leuke, you understand,
my darling!"

"But nobody goes outside of Leuke. Nobody ever thinks of leaving
Leuke. I never heard such nonsense."

"You mean, nobody ever leaves this island?"

"Nobody that you ever hear of. Of course, there are Lares and
Penates, with no social position, that the kings of Pseudopolis
sometimes take a-voyaging--"

"Still, the people of other countries do get married."

"No, Jurgen," said Chloris, sadly, "it is a rule with Jugatinus
never to leave the island; and indeed I am sure he has never even
considered such unheard-of conduct: so, of course, the people of
other countries are not able to get married."

"Well, but, Chloris, in Eubonia--"

"Now if you do not mind, dear, I think we had better talk about
something more pleasant. I do not blame you men of Eubonia, because
all men are in such matters perfectly irresponsible. And perhaps it
is not altogether the fault of the women, either, though I do think
any really self-respecting woman would have the strength of
character to keep out of such irregular relations, and that much I
am compelled to say. So do not let us talk any more about these
persons whom you describe as your wives. It is very nice of you,
dear, to call them that, and I appreciate your delicacy. Still, I
really do believe we had better talk about something else."

Jurgen deliberated. "Yet do you not think, Chloris, that in the
absence of Jugatinus--and in, as I understand it, the unavoidable
absence of Jugatinus,--somebody else might perform the ceremony?"

"Oh, yes, if they wanted to. But it would not count. Nobody but
Jugatinus can really marry people. And so of course nobody else

"What makes you sure of that?"

"Why, because," said Chloris, triumphantly, "nobody ever heard of
such a thing."

"You have voiced," said Jurgen, "an entire code of philosophy. Let
us by all means go to Jugatinus and be married."

So they were married by Jugatinus, according to the ceremony with
which the People of the Wood were always married by Jugatinus. First
Virgo loosed the girdle of Chloris in such fashion as was customary;
and Chloris, after sitting much longer than Jurgen liked in the lap
of Mutinus (who was in the state that custom required of him) was
led back to Jurgen by Domiducus in accordance with immemorial
custom; Subigo did her customary part; then Praema grasped the
bride's plump arms: and everything was perfectly regular.

Thereafter Jurgen disposed of his staff in the way Thersites had
directed: and thereafter Jurgen abode with Chloris upon the
outskirts of the forest, and complied with the customs of Leuke. Her
tree was a rather large oak, for Chloris was now in her two hundred
and sixty-sixth year; and at first its commodious trunk sheltered
them. But later Jurgen builded himself a little cabin thatched with
birds' wings, and made himself more comfortable.

"It is well enough for you, my dear, in fact it is expected of you,
to live in a tree-bole. But it makes me feel uncomfortably like a
worm, and it needlessly emphasizes the restrictions of married life.
Besides, you do not want me under your feet all the time, nor I you.
No, let us cultivate a judicious abstention from familiarity: such
is one secret of an enduring, because endurable, marriage. But why
is it, pray, that you have never married before, in all these

She told him. At first Jurgen could not believe her, but presently
Jurgen was convinced, through at least two of his senses, that what
Chloris told him was true about hamadryads.

"Otherwise, you are not markedly unlike the women of Eubonia," said

And now Jurgen met many of the People of the Wood; but since the
tree of Chloris stood upon the verge of the forest, he saw far more
of the People of the Field, who dwelt between the forest and the
city of Pseudopolis. These were the neighbors and the ordinary
associates of Chloris and Jurgen; though once in a while, of course,
there would be family gatherings in the forest. But Jurgen presently
had found good reason to distrust the People of the Wood, and went
to none of these gatherings.

"For in Eubonia," he said, "we are taught that your wife's relatives
will never find fault with you to your face so long as you keep away
from them. And more than that, no sensible man expects."

Meanwhile, King Jurgen was perplexed by the People of the Field, who
were his neighbors. They one and all did what they had always done.
Thus Runcina saw to it that the Fields were weeded: Seia took care
of the seed while it was buried in the earth: Nodosa arranged the
knots and joints of the stalk: Volusia folded the blade around the
corn: each had an immemorial duty. And there was hardly a day that
somebody was not busied in the Fields, whether it was Occator
harrowing, or Sator and Sarritor about their sowing and raking, or
Stercutius manuring the ground: and Hippona was always bustling
about in one place or another looking after the horses, or else
Bubona would be there attending to the cattle. There was never any
restfulness in the Fields.

"And why do you do these things year in and year out?" asked Jurgen.

"Why, King of Eubonia, we have always done these things," they said,
in high astonishment.

"Yes, but why not stop occasionally?"

"Because in that event the work would stop. The corn would die, the
cattle would perish, and the Fields would become jungles."

"But, as I understand it, this is not your corn, nor your cattle,
nor your Fields. You derive no good from them. And there is nothing
to prevent your ceasing this interminable labor, and living as do
the People of the Wood, who perform no heavy work whatever."

"I should think not!" said Aristaeus, and his teeth flashed in a smile
that was very pleasant to see, as he strained at the olive-press.
"Whoever heard of the People of the Wood doing anything useful!"

"Yes, but," says Jurgen, patiently, "do you think it is quite fair
to yourselves to be always about some tedious and difficult labor
when nobody compels you to do it? Why do you not sometimes take

"King Jurgen," replied Fornax, looking up from the little furnace
wherein she was parching corn, "you are talking nonsense. The People
of the Field have never taken holiday. Nobody ever heard of such a

"We should think not indeed!" said all the others, sagely.

"Ah, ah!" said Jurgen, "so that is your demolishing reason. Well, I
shall inquire about this matter among the People of the Wood, for
they may be more sensible."

Then as Jurgen was about to enter the forest, he encountered
Terminus, perfumed with ointment, and crowned with a garland of
roses, and standing stock still.

"Aha," said Jurgen, "so here is one of the People of the Wood about
to go down into the Fields. But if I were you, my friend, I would
keep away from any such foolish place."

"I never go down into the Fields," said Terminus.

"Oh, then, you are returning into the forest."

"But certainly not. Whoever heard of my going into the forest!"

"Indeed, now I look at you, you are merely standing here."

"I have always stood here," said Terminus.

"And do you never move?"

"No," said Terminus.

"And for what reason?"

"Because I have always stood here without moving," replied Terminus.
"Why, for me to move would be a quite unheard-of thing."

So Jurgen left him, and went into the forest. And there Jurgen
encountered a smiling young fellow, who rode upon the back of a
large ram. This young man had his left fore-finger laid to his lips,
and his right hand held an astonishing object to be thus publicly

"But, oh, dear me! now, really, sir--!" says Jurgen.

"Bah!" says the ram.

But the smiling young fellow said nothing at all as he passed
Jurgen, because it is not the custom of Harpocrates to speak.

"Which would be well enough," reflected Jurgen, "if only his custom
did not make for stiffness and the embarrassment of others."

Thereafter Jurgen came upon a considerable commotion in the bushes,
where a satyr was at play with an oread.

"Oh, but this forest is not respectable!" said Jurgen. "Have you no
ethics and morals, you People of the Wood! Have you no sense of
responsibility whatever, thus to be frolicking on a working-day?"

"Why, no," responded the Satyr, "of course not. None of my people
have such things: and so the natural vocation of all satyrs is that
which you are now interrupting."

"Perhaps you speak the truth," said Jurgen. "Still, you ought to be
ashamed of the fact that you are not lying."

"For a satyr to be ashamed of himself would be indeed an unheard-of
thing! Now go away, you in the glittering shirt! for we are studying
eudaemonism, and you are talking nonsense, and I am busy, and you
annoy me," said the Satyr.

"Well, but in Cocaigne," said Jurgen, "this eudaemonism was
considered an indoor diversion."

"And did you ever hear of a satyr going indoors?"

"Why, save us from all hurt and harm! but what has that to do with

"Do not try to equivocate, you shining idiot! For now you see for
yourself you are talking nonsense. And I repeat that such unheard-of
nonsense irritates me," said the Satyr.

The Oread said nothing at all. But she too looked annoyed, and
Jurgen reflected that it was probably not the custom of oreads to be
rescued from the eudaemonism of satyrs.

So Jurgen left them; and yet deeper in the forest he found a bald-headed
squat old man, with a big paunch and a flat red nose and very small
bleared eyes. Now the old fellow was so helplessly drunk that he could
not walk: instead, he sat upon the ground, and leaned against a tree-bole.

"This is a very disgusting state for you to be in so early in the
morning," observed Jurgen.

"But Silenus is always drunk," the bald-headed man responded, with a
dignified hiccough.

"So here is another one of you! Well, and why are you always drunk,

"Because Silenus is the wisest of the People of the Wood."

"Ah, ah! but I apologize. For here at last is somebody with a
plausible excuse for his daily employment. Now, then, Silenus, since
you are so wise, come tell me, is it really the best fate for a man
to be drunk always?"

"Not at all. Drunkenness is a joy reserved for the Gods: so do men
partake of it impiously, and so are they very properly punished for
their audacity. For men, it is best of all never to be born; but,
being born, to die very quickly."

"Ah, yes! but failing either?"

"The third best thing for a man is to do that which seems expected
of him," replied Silenus.

"But that is the Law of Philistia: and with Philistia, they inform
me, Pseudopolis is at war."

Silenus meditated. Jurgen had discovered an uncomfortable thing
about this old fellow, and it was that his small bleared eyes did
not blink nor the lids twitch at all. His eyes moved, as through
magic the eyes of a painted statue might move horribly, under quite
motionless red lids. Therefore it was uncomfortable when these eyes
moved toward you.

"Young fellow in the glittering shirt, I will tell you a secret: and
it is that the Philistines were created after the image of Koshchei
who made some things as they are. Do you think upon that! So the
Philistines do that which seems expected. And the people of Leuke
were created after the image of Koshchei who made yet other things
as they are: therefore do the people of Leuke do that which is
customary, adhering to classical tradition. Do you think upon that
also! Then do you pick your side in this war, remembering that you
side with stupidity either way. And when that happens which will
happen, do you remember how Silenus foretold to you precisely what
would happen, a long while before it happened, because Silenus was
so old and so wise and so very disreputably drunk, and so very, very

"Yes, certainly, Silenus: but how will this war end?"

"Dullness will conquer dullness: and it will not matter."

"Ah, yes! but what will become, in all this fighting, of Jurgen?"

"That will not matter either," said Silenus, comfortably. "Nobody
will bother about you." And with that he closed his horrible bleared
eyes and went to sleep.

So Jurgen left the old tippler, and started to leave the forest
also. "For undoubtedly all the people in Leuke are resolute to do
that which is customary," reflected Jurgen, "for the unarguable
reason it is their custom, and has always been their custom. And
they will desist from these practises when the cat eats acorns, but
not before. So it is the part of wisdom to inquire no further into
the matter. For after all, these people may be right; and certainly
I cannot go so far as to say they are wrong." Jurgen shrugged. "But
still, at the same time--!"

Now in returning to his cabin Jurgen heard a frightful sort of
yowling and screeching as of mad people.

"Hail, daughter of various-formed Protogonus, thou that takest joy
in mountains and battles and in the beating of the drum! Hail, thou
deceitful saviour, mother of all gods, that comest now, pleased with
long wanderings, to be propitious to us!"

But the uproar was becoming so increasingly unpleasant that Jurgen
at this point withdrew into a thicket: and thence he witnessed the
passing through the Woods of a notable procession. There were
features connected with this procession sufficiently unusual to
cause Jurgen to vow that the desiderated moment wherein he walked
unhurt from the forest would mark the termination of his last visit
thereto. Then amazement tripped up the heels of terror: for now
passed Mother Sereda, or, as Anaitis had called her, AEsred. To-day,
in place of a towel about her head, she wore a species of crown,
shaped like a circlet of crumbling towers: she carried a large key,
and her chariot was drawn by two lions. She was attended by howling
persons, with shaved heads: and it was apparent that these persons
had parted with possessions which Jurgen valued.

"This is undoubtedly," said he, "a most unwholesome forest."

Jurgen inquired about this procession, later, and from Chloris he
got information which surprised him.

"And these are the beings who I had thought were poetic ornaments of
speech! But what is the old lady doing in such high company?"

He described Mother Sereda, and Chloris told him who this was. Now
Jurgen shook his sleek black head.

"Behold another mystery! Yet after all, it is no concern of mine if
the old lady elects for an additional anagram. I should be the last
person to criticize her, inasmuch as to me she has been more than
generous. Well, I shall preserve her friendship by the infallible
recipe of keeping out of her way. Oh, but I shall certainly keep out
of her way now that I have perceived what is done to the men who
serve her."

And after that Jurgen and Chloris lived very pleasantly together,
though Jurgen began to find his Hamadryad a trifle unperceptive, if
not actually obtuse.

"She does not understand me, and she does not always treat my
superior wisdom quite respectfully. That is unfair, but it seems to
be an unavoidable feature of married life. Besides, if any woman had
ever understood me she would, in self-protection, have refused to
marry me. In any case, Chloris is a dear brown plump delicious
partridge of a darling: and cleverness in women is, after all, a
virtue misplaced."

And Jurgen did not return into the Woods, nor did he go down into
the city. Neither the People of the Field nor of the Wood, of
course, ever went within city gates. "But I would think that you
would like to see the fine sights of Pseudopolis," says
Chloris,--"and that fine Queen of theirs," she added, almost as
though she spoke without premeditation.

"Woman dear," says Jurgen, "I do not wish to appear boastful. But in
Eubonia, now! well, really some day we must return to my kingdom,
and you shall inspect for yourself a dozen or two of my cities--Ziph
and Eglington and Poissieux and Gazden and Baeremburg, at all events.
And then you will concede with me that this little village of
Pseudopolis, while well enough in its way--!" And Jurgen shrugged.
"But as for saying more!"

"Sometimes," said Chloris, "I wonder if there is any such place as
your fine kingdom of Eubonia: for certainly it grows larger and more
splendid every time you talk of it."

"Now can it be," asks Jurgen, more hurt than angry, "that you
suspect me of uncandid dealing and, in short, of being an impostor!"

"Why, what does it matter? You are Jurgen," she answered, happily.

And the man was moved as she smiled at him across the glowing queer
embroidery-work at which Chloris seemed to labor interminably: he
was conscious of a tenderness for her which was oddly remorseful:
and it appeared to him that if he had known lovelier women he had
certainly found nowhere anyone more lovable than was this plump and
busy and sunny-tempered little wife of his.

"My dear, I do not care to see Queen Helen again, and that is a
fact. I am contented here, with a wife befitting my station, suited
to my endowments, and infinitely excelling my deserts."

"And do you think of that tow-headed bean-pole very often, King

"That is unfair, and you wrong me, Chloris, with these unmerited
suspicions. It pains me to reflect, my dear, that you esteem the tie
between us so lightly you can consider me capable of breaking it
even in thought."

"To talk of fairness is all very well, but it is no answer to a
plain question."

Jurgen looked full at her; and he laughed. "You women are so
unscrupulously practical. My dear, I have seen Queen Helen face to
face. But it is you whom I love as a man customarily loves a woman."

"That is not saying much."

"No: for I endeavor to speak in consonance with my importance. You
forget that I have also seen Achilles."

"But you admired Achilles! You told me so yourself."

"I admired the perfections of Achilles, but I cordially dislike the
man who possesses them. Therefore I shall keep away from both the
King and Queen of Pseudopolis."

"Yet you will not go into the Woods, either, Jurgen--"

"Not after what I have witnessed there," said Jurgen, with an
exaggerated shudder that was not very much exaggerated.

Now Chloris laughed, and quitted her queer embroidery in order to
rumple up his hair. "And you find the People of the Field so
insufferably stupid, and so uninterested by your Zorobasiuses and
Ptolemopiters and so on, that you keep away from them also. O
foolish man of mine, you are determined to be neither fish nor beast
nor poultry and nowhere will you ever consent to be happy.

"It was not I who determined my nature, Chloris: and as for being
happy, I make no complaint. Indeed, I have nothing to complain of,
nowadays. So I am very well contented by my dear wife and by my
manner of living in Leuke," said Jurgen, with a sigh.


Concerning Horvendile's Nonsense

It was on a bright and tranquil day in November, at the period which
the People of the Field called the summer of Alcyone, that Jurgen
went down from the forest; and after skirting the moats of
Pseudopolis, and avoiding a meeting with any of the town's
dispiritingly glorious inhabitants, Jurgen came to the seashore.

Chloris had suggested his doing this, in order that she could have a
chance to straighten things in his cabin while she was tidying her
tree for the winter, and could so make one day's work serve for two.
For the dryad of an oak-tree has large responsibilities, what with
the care of so many dead leaves all winter, and the acorns being
blown from their places and littering up the ground everywhere, and
the bark cracking until it looks positively disreputable: and Jurgen
was at any such work less a help than a hindrance. So Chloris gave
him a parcel of lunch and a perfunctory kiss, and told him to go
down to the seashore and get inspired and make up a pretty poem
about her. "And do you be back in time for an early supper, Jurgen,"
says she, "but not a minute before."

Thus it befell that Jurgen reflectively ate his lunch in solitude,
and regarded the Euxine. The sun was high, and the queer shadow that
followed Jurgen was huddled into shapelessness.

"This is indeed an inspiring spectacle," Jurgen reflected. "How puny
seems the race of man, in contrast with this mighty sea, which now
spreads before me like, as So-and-so has very strikingly observed, a
something or other under such and such conditions!" Then Jurgen
shrugged. "Really, now I think of it, though, there is no call for
me to be suffused with the traditional emotions. It looks like a
great deal of water, and like nothing else in particular. And I
cannot but consider the water is behaving rather futilely."

So he sat in drowsy contemplation of the sea. Far out a shadow would
form on the water, like the shadow of a broadish plank, scudding
shoreward, and lengthening and darkening as it approached. Presently
it would be some hundred feet in length, and would assume a hard
smooth darkness, like that of green stone: this was the under side
of the wave. Then the top of it would curdle, the southern end of
the wave would collapse, and with exceeding swiftness this white
feathery falling would plunge and scamper and bluster northward, the
full length of the wave. It would be neater and more workmanlike to
have each wave tumble down as a whole. From the smacking and the
splashing, what looked like boiling milk would thrust out over the
brown sleek sands: and as the mess spread it would thin to a
reticulated whiteness, like lace, and then to the appearance of
smoke sprays clinging to the sands. Plainly the tide was coming in.

Or perhaps it was going out. Jurgen's notions as to such phenomena
were vague. But, either way, the sea was stirring up a large
commotion and a rather pleasant and invigorating odor.

And then all this would happen once more: and then it would happen
yet again. It had happened a number of hundred of times since Jurgen
first sat down to eat his lunch: and what was gained by it? The sea
was behaving stupidly. There was no sense in this continual sloshing
and spanking and scrabbling and spluttering.

Thus Jurgen, as he nodded over the remnants of his lunch.

"Sheer waste of energy, I am compelled to call it," said Jurgen,
aloud, just as he noticed there were two other men on this long

One came from the north, one from the south, so that they met not
far from where Jurgen was sitting: and by an incredible coincidence
Jurgen had known both of these men in his first youth. So he hailed
them, and they recognized him at once. One of these travellers was
the Horvendile who had been secretary to Count Emmerick when Jurgen
was a lad: and the other was Perion de la Foret, that outlaw who had
come to Bellegarde very long ago disguised as the Vicomte de
Puysange. And all three of these old acquaintances had kept their
youth surprisingly.

Now Horvendile and Perion marveled at the fine shirt which Jurgen
was wearing.

"Why, you must know," he said, modestly, "that I have lately become
King of Eubonia, and must dress according to my station."

So they said they had always expected some such high honor to befall
him, and then the three of them fell to talking. And Perion told how
he had come through Pseudopolis, on his way to King Theodoret at
Lacre Kai, and how in the market-place at Pseudopolis he had seen
Queen Helen. "She is a very lovely lady," said Perion, "and I
marvelled over her resemblance to Count Emmerick's fair sister, whom
we all remember."

"I noticed that at once," said Horvendile, and he smiled strangely,
"when I, too, passed through the city."

"Why, but nobody could fail to notice it," said Jurgen.

"It is not, of course, that I consider her to be as lovely as Dame
Melicent," continued Perion, "since, as I have contended in all
quarters of the world, there has never lived, and will never live,
any woman so beautiful as Melicent. But you gentlemen appear
surprised by what seems to me a very simple statement. Your air, in
fine, is one that forces me to point out it is a statement I can
permit nobody to deny." And Perion's honest eyes had narrowed
unpleasantly, and his sun-browned countenance was uncomfortably

"Dear sir," said Jurgen, hastily, "it was merely that it appeared to
me the lady whom they call Queen Helen hereabouts is quite evidently
Count Emmerick's sister Dorothy la Desiree."

"Whereas I recognized her at once," says Horvendile, "as Count
Emmerick's third sister, La Beale Ettarre."

And now they stared at one another, for it was certain that these
three sisters were not particularly alike.

"Putting aside any question of eyesight," observes Perion, "it is
indisputable that the language of both of you is distorted. For one
of you says this is Madame Dorothy, and the other says this is
Madame Ettarre: whereas everybody knows that this Queen Helen,
whomever she may resemble, cannot possibly be anybody else save
Queen Helen."

"To you, who are always the same person," replied Jurgen, "that may
sound reasonable. For my part, I am several people: and I detect no
incongruity in other persons' resembling me."

"There would be no incongruity anywhere," suggested Horvendile, "if
Queen Helen were the woman whom we had loved in vain. For the woman
whom when we were young we loved in vain is the one woman that we
can never see quite clearly, whatever happens. So we might easily, I
suppose, confuse her with some other woman."

"But Melicent is the lady whom I have loved in vain," said Perion,
"and I care nothing whatever about Queen Helen. Why should I? What
do you mean now, Horvendile, by your hints that I have faltered in
my constancy to Dame Melicent since I saw Queen Helen? I do not like
such hints."

"No less, it is Ettarre whom I love, and have loved not quite in
vain, and have loved unfalteringly," says Horvendile, with his quiet
smile: "and I am certain that it was Ettarre whom I beheld when I
looked upon Queen Helen."

"I may confess," says Jurgen, clearing his throat, "that I have
always regarded Madame Dorothy with peculiar respect and admiration.
For the rest, I am married. Even so, I think that Madame Dorothy is
Queen Helen."

Then they fell to debating this mystery. And presently Perion said
the one way out was to leave the matter to Queen Helen. "She at all
events must know who she is. So do one of you go back into the city,
and embrace her knees as is the custom of this country when one
implores a favor of the King or the Queen: and do you then ask her

"Not I," says Jurgen. "I am upon terms of some intimacy with a
hamadryad just at present. I am content with my Hamadryad. And I
intend never to venture into the presence of Queen Helen any more,
in order to preserve my contentment."

"Why, but I cannot go," says Perion, "because Dame Melicent has a
little mole upon her left cheek. And Queen Helen's cheek is
flawless. You understand, of course, that I am certain this mole
immeasurably enhances the beauty of Dame Melicent," he added,
loyally. "None the less, I mean to hold no further traffic with
Queen Helen."

"Now my reason for not going is this," said Horvendile:--"that if I
attempted to embrace the knees of Ettarre, whom people hereabouts
call Helen, she would instantly vanish. Other matters apart, I do
not wish to bring any such misfortune upon the Island of Leuke."

"But that," said Perion, "is nonsense."

"Of course it is," said Horvendile. "That is probably why it

So none of them would go. And each of them clung, none the less, to
his own opinion about Queen Helen. And presently Perion said they
were wasting both time and words. Then Perion bade the two farewell,
and Perion continued southward, toward Lacre Kai. And as he went he
sang a song in honor of Dame Melicent, whom he celebrated as Heart
o' My Heart: and the two who heard him agreed that Perion de la
Foret was probably the worst poet in the world.

"Nevertheless, there goes a very chivalrous and worthy gentleman,"
said Horvendile, "intent to play out the remainder of his romance. I
wonder if the Author gets much pleasure from these simple
characters? At least they must be easy to handle."

"I cultivate a judicious amount of gallantry," says Jurgen: "I do
not any longer aspire to be chivalrous. And indeed, Horvendile, it
seems to me indisputable that each one of us is the hero in his own
romance, and cannot understand any other person's romance, but
misinterprets everything therein, very much as we three have fallen
out in the simple matter of a woman's face."

Now young Horvendile meditatively stroked his own curly and reddish
hair, brushing it away from his ears with his left hand, as he sat
there staring meditatively at nothing in particular.

"I would put it, Jurgen, that we three have met like characters out
of three separate romances which the Author has composed in
different styles."

"That also," Jurgen submitted, "would be nonsense."

"Ah, but perhaps the Author very often perpetrates nonsense. Come
Jurgen, you who are King of Eubonia!" says Horvendile, with his
wide-set eyes a-twinkle; "what is there in you or me to attest that
our Author has not composed our romances with his tongue in his

"Messire Horvendile, if you are attempting to joke about Koshchei
who made all things as they are, I warn you I do not consider that
sort of humor very wholesome. Without being prudish, I believe in
common-sense: and I would vastly prefer to have you talk about
something else."

Horvendile was still smiling. "You look some day to come to
Koshchei, as you call the Author. That is easily said, and sounds
excellently. Ah, but how will you recognize Koshchei? and how do you
know you have not already passed by Koshchei in some street or
meadow? Come now, King Jurgen," said Horvendile, and still his young
face wore an impish smile; "come tell me, how do you know that I am
not Koshchei who made all things as they are?"

"Be off with you!" says Jurgen; "you would never have had the wit to
invent a Jurgen. Something else is troubling me: I have just
recollected that the young Perion who left us only a moment since,
grew to be rich and gray-headed and famous, and took Dame Melicent
from her pagan husband, and married her himself: and that all this
happened long years ago. So our recent talk with young Perion seems
very improbable."

"Why, but do you not remember, too, that I ran away in the night
when Maugis d'Aigremont stormed Storisende? and was never heard of
any more? and that all this, too, took place a long, long while ago?
Yet we have met as three fine young fellows, here on the beach of
fabulous Leuke. I put it to you fairly, King Jurgen: now how could
this conceivably have come about unless the Author sometimes
composes nonsense?"

"Truly the way that you express it, Horvendile, the thing does seem
a little strange; and I can think of no explanation rendering it

"Again, see now, King Jurgen of Eubonia, how you underrate the
Author's ability. This is one of the romancer's most venerable
devices that is being practised. See for yourself!" And suddenly
Horvendile pushed Jurgen so that Jurgen tumbled over in the warm

Then Jurgen arose, gaping and stretching himself. "That was a very
foolish dream I had, napping here in the sun. For it was certainly a
dream. Otherwise, they would have left footprints, these young
fellows who have gone the way of youth so long ago. And it was a
dream that had no sense in it. But indeed it would be strange if
that were the whole point of it, and if living, too, were such a
dream, as that queer Horvendile would have me think."

Jurgen snapped his fingers.

"Well, and what in common fairness could he or anyone else expect me
to do about it! That is the answer I fling at you, you Horvendile
whom I made up in a dream. And I disown you as the most futile of my
inventions. So be off with you! and a good riddance, too, for I
never held with upsetting people."

Then Jurgen dusted himself, and trudged home to an early supper with
the Hamadryad who contented him.


Economics of King Jurgen

Now Jurgen's curious dream put notions into the restless head of
Jurgen. So mighty became his curiosity that he went shuddering into
the abhorred Woods, and passed over Coalisnacoan (which is the Ferry
of Dogs), and did all such detestable things as were necessary to
placate Phobetor. Then Jurgen tricked Phobetor by an indescribable
device, wherein surprising use was made of a cheese and three
beetles and a gimlet, and so cheated Phobetor out of a gray magic.
And that night while Pseudopolis slept King Jurgen came down into
this city of gold and ivory.

Jurgen went with distaste among the broad-browed and great-limbed
monarchs of Pseudopolis, for they reminded him of things that he had
long ago put aside, and they made him feel unpleasantly ignoble and
insignificant. That was his real reason for avoiding the city.

Now he passed between unlighted and silent palaces, walking in
deserted streets where the moon made ominous shadows. Here was the
house of Ajax Telamon who reigned in sea-girt Salamis, here that of
god-like Philoctetes: much-counseling Odysseus dwelt just across the
way, and the corner residence was fair-haired Agamemnon's: in the
moonlight Jurgen easily made out these names engraved upon the
bronze shield that hung beside each doorway. To every side of him
slept the heroes of old song while Jurgen skulked under their

He remembered how incuriously--not even scornfully--these people had
overlooked him on that disastrous afternoon when he had ventured
into Pseudopolis by daylight. And a spiteful little gust of rage
possessed him, and Jurgen shook his fist at the big silent palaces.

"Yah!" he snarled: for he did not know at all what it was that he
desired to say to those great stupid heroes who did not care what he
said, but he knew that he hated them. Then Jurgen became aware of
himself growling there like a kicked cur who is afraid to bite, and
he began to laugh at this Jurgen.

"Your pardon, gentlemen of Greece," says he, with a wide ceremonious
bow, "and I think the information I wished to convey was that I am a
monstrous clever fellow."

Jurgen went into the largest palace, and crept stealthily by the
bedroom of Achilles, King of Men, treading a-tip-toe; and so came at
last into a little room panelled with cedar-wood where slept Queen
Helen. She was smiling in her sleep when he had lighted his lamp,
with due observance of the gray magic. She was infinitely beautiful,
this young Dorothy whom people hereabouts through some odd error
called Helen.

For Jurgen saw very well that this was Count Emmerick's sister
Dorothy la Desiree, whom Jurgen had vainly loved in the days when
Jurgen was young alike in body and heart. Just once he had won back
to her, in the garden between dawn and sunrise: but he was then a
time-battered burgher whom Dorothy did not recognise. Now he
returned to her a king, less admirable it might be than some of the
many other kings without realms who slept now in Pseudopolis, but
still very fine in his borrowed youth, and above all, armored by a
gray magic: so that improbabilities were possible. And Jurgen's eyes
were furtive, and he passed his tongue across his upper lip from one
corner to the other, and his hand went out toward the robe of
violet-colored wool which covered the sleeping girl, for he stood
ready to awaken Dorothy la Desiree in the way he often awoke

But a queer thought held him. Nothing, he recollected, had shown the
power to hurt him very deeply since he had lost this young Dorothy.
And to affairs which threatened to result unpleasantly, he had
always managed to impart an agreeable turn, since then, by virtue of
preserving a cool heart. What if by some misfortune he were to get
back his real youth? and were to become again the flustered boy who
blundered from stammering rapture to wild misery, and back again, at
the least word or gesture of a gold-haired girl?

"Thank you, no!" says Jurgen. "The boy was more admirable than I,
who am by way of being not wholly admirable. But then he had a
wretched time of it, by and large. Thus it may be that my real youth
lies sleeping here: and for no consideration would I re-awaken it."

And yet tears came into his eyes, for no reason at all. And it
seemed to him that the sleeping woman, here at his disposal, was not
the young Dorothy whom he had seen in the garden between dawn and
sunrise, although the two were curiously alike; and that of the two
this woman here was, somehow, infinitely the lovelier.

"Lady, if you indeed be the Swan's daughter, long and long ago there
was a child that was ill. And his illness turned to a fever, and in
his fever he arose from his bed one night, saying that he must set
out for Troy, because of his love for Queen Helen. I was once that
child. I remember how strange it seemed to me I should be talking
such nonsense: I remember how the warm room smelt of drugs: and I
remember how I pitied the trouble in my nurse's face, drawn and old
in the yellow lamplight. For she loved me, and she did not
understand: and she pleaded with me to be a good boy and not to
worry my sleeping parents. But I perceive now that I was not talking

He paused, considering the riddle: and his fingers fretted with the
robe of violet-colored wool beneath which lay Queen Helen. "Yours
is that beauty of which men know by fabulous report alone, and which
they may not ever find, nor ever win to, quite. And for that beauty
I have hungered always, even in childhood. Toward that beauty I have
struggled always, but not quite whole-heartedly. That night forecast
my life. I have hungered for you: and"--Jurgen smiled here--"and I
have always stayed a passably good boy, lest I should beyond reason
disturb my family. For to do that, I thought, would not be fair: and
still I believe for me to have done that would have been unfair."

He grimaced at this point: for Jurgen was finding his scruples
inconveniently numerous.

"And now I think that what I do to-night is not quite fair to Chloris.
And I do not know what thing it is that I desire, and the will of
Jurgen is a feather in the wind. But I know that I would like to love
somebody as Chloris loves me, and as so many women have loved me. And
I know that it is you who have prevented this, Queen Helen, at every
moment of my life since the disastrous moment when I first seemed to
find your loveliness in the face of Madame Dorothy. It is the memory
of your beauty, as I then saw it mirrored in the face of a jill-flirt,
which has enfeebled me for such honest love as other men give women:
and I envy these other men. For Jurgen has loved nothing--not even you,
not even Jurgen!--quite whole-heartedly. Well, what if I took vengeance
now upon this thieving comeliness, upon this robber that strips life of
joy and sorrow?"

Jurgen stood at Queen Helen's bedside, watching her, for a long
while. He had shifted into a less fanciful mood: and the shadow that
followed him was ugly and hulking and wavering upon the cedarn wall
of Queen Helen's sleeping-chamber.

"Mine is a magic which does not fail," old Phobetor had said, while
his attendants raised his eyelids so that he could see King Jurgen.

Now Jurgen remembered this. And reflectively he drew back the robe
of violet-colored wool, a little way. The breast of Queen Helen lay
bare. And she did not move at all, but she smiled in her sleep.

Never had Jurgen imagined that any woman could be so beautiful nor
so desirable as this woman, or that he could ever know such rapture.
So Jurgen paused.

"Because," said Jurgen now, "it may be this woman has some fault: it
may be there is some fleck in her beauty somewhere. And sooner than
know that, I would prefer to retain my unreasonable dreams, and this
longing which is unfed and hopeless, and the memory of to-night.
Besides, if she were perfect in everything, how could I live any
longer, who would have no more to desire? No, I would be betraying
my own interests, either way; and injustice is always despicable."

So Jurgen sighed and gently replaced the robe of violet-colored
wool, and he returned to his Hamadryad.

"And now that I think of it, too," reflected Jurgen, "I am behaving
rather nobly. Yes, it is questionless that I have to-night evinced a
certain delicacy of feeling which merits appreciation, at all events
by King Achilles."


The Fall of Pseudopolis

So Jurgen abode in Leuke, and complied with the customs of that
country; and what with one thing and another, he and Chloris made
the time pass pleasantly enough, until the winter solstice was at
hand. Now Pseudopolis, as has been said, was at war with Philistia:
so it befell that at this season Leuke was invaded by an army of
Philistines, led by their Queen Dolores, a woman who was wise but
not entirely reliable. They came from the coast, a terrible army
insanely clad in such garments as had been commanded by Ageus, a god
of theirs; and chaunting psalms in honor of their god Vel-Tyno, who
had inspired this crusade: thus they swept down upon Pseudopolis,
and encamped before the city.

These Philistines fought in this campaign by casting before them a
more horrible form of Greek fire, which consumed whatever was not
gray-colored. For that color alone was now favored by their god
Vel-Tyno. "And all other colors," his oracles had decreed, "are
forevermore abominable, until I say otherwise."

So the forces of Philistia were marshalled in the plain before
Pseudopolis, and Queen Dolores spoke to her troops. And smilingly
she said:--

"Whenever you come to blows with the enemy he will be beaten. No
mercy will be shown, no prisoners taken. As the Philistines under
Libnah and Goliath and Gershon, and a many other tall captains, made
for themselves a name which is still mighty in traditions and
legend, even thus to-day may the name of Realist be so fixed in
Pseudopolis, by your deeds to-day, that no one shall ever dare again
even to look askance at a Philistine. Open the door for Realism,
once for all!"

Meanwhile within the city Achilles, King of Men, addressed his

"The eyes of all the world will be upon you, because you are in some
especial sense the soldiers of Romance. Let it be your pride,
therefore, to show all men everywhere, not only what good soldiers
you are, but also what good men you are, keeping yourselves fit and
straight in everything, and pure and clean through and through. Let
us set ourselves a standard so high that it will be a glory to live
up to it, and then let us live up to it, and add a new laurel to the
crown of Pseudopolis. May the Gods of Old keep you and guide you!"

Then said Thersites, in his beard: "Certainly Pelides has learned
from history with what weapon a strong man discomfits the

But the other kings applauded, and the trumpet was sounded, and the
battle was joined. And that day the forces of Philistia were
everywhere triumphant. But they report a queer thing happened: and
it was that when the Philistines shouted in their triumph, Achilles
and all they who served him rose from the ground like gleaming
clouds and passed above the heads of the Philistines, deriding them.

Thus was Pseudopolis left empty, so that the Philistines entered
thereinto without any opposition. They defiled this city of
blasphemous colors, then burned it as a sacrifice to their god
Vel-Tyno, because the color of ashes is gray.

Then the Philistines erected lithoi (which were not unlike may-poles),
and began to celebrate their religious rites.

* * * * *

So it was reported: but Jurgen witnessed none of these events.

"Let them fight it out," said Jurgen: "it is not my affair. I agree
with Silenus: dullness will conquer dullness, and it will not
matter. But do you, woman dear, take shelter with your kindred in
the unconquerable Woods, for there is no telling what damage the
Philistines may do hereabouts."

"Will you go with me, Jurgen?"

"My dear, you know very well that it is impossible for me ever again
to go into the Woods, after the trick I played upon Phobetor."

"And if only you had kept your head about that bean-pole of a Helen,
in her yellow wig--for I have not a doubt that every strand of it is
false, and at all events this is not a time to be arguing about it,
Jurgen,--why, then you would never have meddled with Uncle Phobetor!
It simply shows you!"

"Yes," said Jurgen.

"Still, I do not know. If you come with me into the Woods, Uncle
Phobetor in his impetuous way will quite certainly turn you into a
boar-pig, because he has always done that to the people who
irritated him--"

"I seem to recognise that reason."

"--But give me time, and I can get around Uncle Phobetor, just as I
have always done, and he will turn you back."

"No," says Jurgen, obstinately, "I do not wish to be turned into a

"Now, Jurgen, let us be sensible about this! Of course, it is a
little humiliating. But I will take the very best of care of you,
and feed you with my own acorns, and it will be a purely temporary
arrangement. And to be a pig for a week or two, or even for a month,
is infinitely better for a poet than being captured by the

"How do I know that?" says Jurgen.

"--For it is not, after all, as if Uncle Phobetor's heart were not
in the right place. It is just his way. And besides, you must
remember what you did with that gimlet!"

Said Jurgen: "All this is hardly to the purpose. You forget I have
seen the hapless swine of Phobetor, and I know how he ameliorates
the natural ferocity of his boar-pigs. No, I am Jurgen. So I remain.
I will face the Philistines and whatever they may possibly do to me,
rather than suffer that which Phobetor will quite certainly do to

"Then I stay too," said Chloris.

"No, woman dear--!"

"But do you not understand?" says Chloris, a little pale, as he saw
now. "Since the life of a hamadryad is linked with the life of her
tree, nobody can harm me so long as my tree lives: and if they cut
down my tree I shall die, wherever I may happen to be."

"I had forgotten that." He was really troubled now.

"--And you can see for yourself, Jurgen, it is quite out of the
question for me to be carrying that great oak anywhere, and I wonder
at your talking such nonsense."

"Indeed, my dear," says Jurgen, "we are very neatly trapped. Well,
nobody can live longer in peace than his neighbor chooses.
Nevertheless, it is not fair."

As he spoke the Philistines came forth from the burning city. Again
the trumpet sounded, and the Philistines advanced in their order of


Sundry Devices of the Philistines

Meanwhile the People of the Field had watched Pseudopolis burn, and
had wondered what would befall them. They had not long to wonder,
for next day the Fields were occupied, without any resistance by the

"The People of the Field," said they, "have never fought, and for
them to begin now would be a very unheard-of thing indeed."

So the Fields were captured by the Philistines, and Chloris and
Jurgen and all the People of the Field were judged summarily. They
were declared to be obsolete illusions, whose merited doom was to be
relegated to limbo. To Jurgen this appeared unreasonable.

"For I am no illusion," he asserted. "I am manifestly flesh and
blood, and in addition, I am the high King of Eubonia, and no less.
Why, in disputing these facts you contest circumstances that are so
well known hereabouts as to rank among mathematical certainties. And
that makes you look foolish, as I tell you for your own good."

This vexed the leaders of the Philistines, as it always vexes people
to be told anything for their own good. "We would have you know,"
said they, "that we are not mathematicians; and that moreover, we
have no kings in Philistia, where all must do what seems to be
expected of them, and have no other law."

"How then can you be the leaders of Philistia?"

"Why, it is expected that women and priests should behave
unaccountably. Therefore all we who are women or priests do what we
will in Philistia, and the men there obey us. And it is we, the
priests of Philistia, who do not think you can possibly have any
flesh and blood under a shirt which we recognize to be a
conventional figure of speech. It does not stand to reason. And
certainly you could not ever prove such a thing by mathematics; and
to say so is nonsense."

"But I can prove it by mathematics, quite irrefutably. I can prove
anything you require of me by whatever means you may prefer," said
Jurgen, modestly, "for the simple reason that I am a monstrous
clever fellow."

Then spoke the wise Queen Dolores, saying: "I have studied
mathematics. I will question this young man, in my tent to-night,
and in the morning I will report the truth as to his claims. Are you
content to endure this interrogatory, my spruce young fellow who
wear the shirt of a king?"

Jurgen looked full upon her: she was lovely as a hawk is lovely: and
of all that Jurgen saw Jurgen approved. He assumed the rest to be in
keeping: and deduced that Dolores was a fine woman.

"Madame and Queen," said Jurgen, "I am content. And I can promise to
deal fairly with you."

So that evening Jurgen was conducted into the purple tent of Queen
Dolores of Philistia. It was quite dark there, and Jurgen went in
alone, and wondering what would happen next: but this scented
darkness he found of excellent augury, if only because it prevented
his shadow from following him.

"Now, you who claim to be flesh and blood, and King of Eubonia,
too," says the voice of Queen Dolores, "what is this nonsense you
were talking about proving any such claims by mathematics?"

"Well, but my mathematics," replied Jurgen, "are Praxagorean."

"What, do you mean Praxagoras of Cos?"

"As if," scoffed Jurgen, "anybody had ever heard of any other

"But he, as I recall, belonged to the medical school of the
Dogmatici," observed the wise Queen Dolores, "and was particularly
celebrated for his researches in anatomy. Was he, then, also a

"The two are not incongruous, madame, as I would be delighted to

"Oh, nobody said that! For, indeed, it does seem to me I have heard
of this Praxagorean system of mathematics, though, I confess, I have
never studied it."

"Our school, madame, postulates, first of all, that since the
science of mathematics is an abstract science, it is best inculcated
by some concrete example."

Said the Queen: "But that sounds rather complicated."

"It occasionally leads to complications," Jurgen admitted, "through
a choice of the wrong example. But the axiom is no less true."

"Come, then, and sit next to me on this couch if you can find it in
the dark; and do you explain to me what you mean."

"Why, madame, by a concrete example I mean one that is perceptible
to any of the senses--as to sight or hearing, or touch--"

"Oh, oh!" said the Queen, "now I perceive what you mean by a
concrete example. And grasping this, I can understand that
complications must of course arise from a choice of the wrong

"Well, then, madame, it is first necessary to implant in you, by the
force of example, a lively sense of the peculiar character, and
virtues and properties, of each of the numbers upon which is based
the whole science of Praxagorean mathematics. For in order to
convince you thoroughly, we must start far down, at the beginning of
all things."

"I see," said the Queen, "or rather, in this darkness I cannot see
at all, but I perceive your point. Your opening interests me: and
you may go on."

"Now ONE, or the monad," says Jurgen, "is the principle and the end
of all: it reveals the sublime knot which binds together the chain
of causes: it is the symbol of identity, of equality, of existence,
of conservation, and of general harmony." And Jurgen emphasized
these characteristics vigorously. "In brief, ONE is a symbol of the
union of things: it introduces that generating virtue which is the
cause of all combinations: and consequently ONE is a good

"Ah, ah!" said Queen Dolores, "I heartily admire a good principle.
But what has become of your concrete example?"

"It is ready for you, madame: there is but ONE Jurgen."

"Oh, I assure you, I am not yet convinced of that. Still, the
audacity of your example will help me to remember ONE, whether or
not you prove to be really unique."

"Now, TWO, or the dyad, the origin of contrasts--"

Jurgen went on penetratingly to demonstrate that TWO was a symbol of
diversity and of restlessness and of disorder, ending in collapse
and separation: and was accordingly an evil principle. Thus was the
life of every man made wretched by the struggle between his TWO
components, his soul and his body; and thus was the rapture of
expectant parents considerably abated by the advent of TWINS.

THREE, or the triad, however, since everything was composed of three
substances, contained the most sublime mysteries, which Jurgen duly
communicated. We must remember, he pointed out, that Zeus carried a
TRIPLE thunderbolt, and Poseidon a TRIDENT, whereas Ades was guarded
by a dog with THREE heads: this in addition to the omnipotent
brothers themselves being a TRIO.

Thus Jurgen continued to impart the Praxagorean significance of each
digit separately: and by and by the Queen was declaring his flow of
wisdom was superhuman.

"Ah, but, madame, not even the wisdom of a king is without limit.
EIGHT, I repeat, then, is appropriately the number of the
Beatitudes. And NINE, or the ennead, also, being the multiple of
THREE, should be regarded as sacred--"

The Queen attended docilely to his demonstration of the peculiar
properties of NINE. And when he had ended she confessed that beyond
doubt NINE should be regarded as miraculous. But she repudiated his
analogues as to the muses, the lives of a cat, and how many tailors
made a man.

"Rather, I shall remember always," she declared, "that King Jurgen
of Eubonia is a NINE days' wonder."

"Well, madame," said Jurgen, with a sigh, "now that we have reached
NINE, I regret to say we have exhausted the digits."

"Oh, what a pity!" cried Queen Dolores. "Nevertheless, I will
concede the only illustration I disputed; there is but ONE Jurgen:
and certainly this Praxagorean system of mathematics is a
fascinating study." And promptly she commenced to plan Jurgen's
return with her into Philistia, so that she might perfect herself in
the higher branches of mathematics. "For you must teach me calculus
and geometry and all other sciences in which these digits are
employed. We can arrange some compromise with the priests. That is
always possible with the priests of Philistia, and indeed the
priests of Sesphra can be made to help anybody in anything. And as
for your Hamadryad, I will attend to her myself."

"But, no," says Jurgen, "I am ready enough in all conscience to
compromise elsewhere: but to compound with the forces of Philistia
is the one thing I cannot do."

"Do you mean that, King Jurgen?" The Queen was astounded.

"I mean it, my dear, as I mean nothing else. You are in many ways an
admirable people, and you are in all ways a formidable people. So I
admire, I dread, I avoid, and at the very last pinch I defy. For you
are not my people, and willy-nilly my gorge rises against your laws,
as equally insane and abhorrent. Mind you, though, I assert nothing.
You may be right in attributing wisdom to these laws; and certainly
I cannot go so far as to say you are wrong: but still, at the same
time--! That is the way I feel about it. So I, who compromise with
everything else, can make no compromise with Philistia. No, my
adored Dolores, it is not a virtue, rather it is an instinct with
me, and I have no choice."

Even Dolores, who was Queen of all the Philistines, could perceive
that this man spoke truthfully. "I am sorry," says she, with real
regret, "for you could be much run after in Philistia."

"Yes," said Jurgen, "as an instructor in mathematics."

"But, no, King Jurgen, not only in mathematics," said Dolores,
reasonably. "There is poetry, for instance! For they tell me you are
a poet, and a great many of my people take poetry quite seriously, I
believe. Of course, I do not have much time for reading, myself. So
you can be the Poet Laureate of Philistia, on any salary you like.
And you can teach us all your ideas by writing beautiful poems about
them. And you and I can be very happy together."

"Teach, teach! there speaks Philistia, and very temptingly, too,
through an adorable mouth, that would bribe me with praise and fine
food and soft days forever. It is a thing that happens rather often,
though. And I can but repeat that art is not a branch of pedagogy!"

"Really I am heartily sorry. For apart from mathematics, I like you,
King Jurgen, just as a person."

"I, too, am sorry, Dolores. For I confess to a weakness for the
women of Philistia."

"Certainly you have given me no cause to suspect you of any weakness
in that quarter," observed Dolores, "in the long while you have been
alone with me, and have talked so wisely and have reasoned so
deeply. I am afraid that after to-night I shall find all other men
more or less superficial. Heigho! and I shall probably weep my eyes
out to-morrow when you are relegated to limbo. For that is what the
priests will do with you, King Jurgen, on one plea or another, if
you do not conform to the laws of Philistia."

"And that one compromise I cannot make! Ah, but even now I have a
plan wherewith to escape your priests: and failing that, I possess a
cantrap to fall back upon in my hour of direst need. My private
affairs are thus not yet in a hopeless or even in a dejected
condition. This fact now urges me to observe that TEN, or the
decade, is the measure of all, since it contains all the numeric
relations and harmonies--"

So they continued their study of mathematics until it was time for
Jurgen to appear again before his judges.

And in the morning Queen Dolores sent word to her priests that she
was too sleepy to attend their council, but that the man was
indisputably flesh and blood, amply deserved to be a king, and as a
mathematician had not his peer.

Now these points being settled, the judges conferred, and Jurgen was
decreed a backslider into the ways of undesirable error. His judges
were the priests of Vel-Tyno and Sesphra and Ageus, who are the Gods
of Philistia.

Then the priest of Ageus put on his spectacles and consulted the
canonical law, and declared that this change in the indictment
necessitated a severance of Jurgen from the others, in the
infliction of punishment.

"For each, of course, must be relegated to the limbo of his fathers,
as was foretold, in order that the prophecies may be fulfilled.
Religion languishes when prophecies are not fulfilled. Now it
appears that the forefathers of the flesh and blood prisoner were of
a different faith from the progenitors of these obsolete illusions,
and that his fathers foretold quite different things, and that their
limbo was called Hell."

"It is little you know," says Jurgen, "of the religion of Eubonia."

"We have it written down in this great book," the priest of Vel-Tyno
then told him,--"every word of it without blot or error."

"Then you will see that the King of Eubonia is the head of the
church there, and changes all the prophecies at will. Learned
Gowlais says so directly: and the judicious Stevegonius was forced
to agree with him, however unwillingly, as you will instantly
discover by consulting the third section of his widely famous
nineteenth chapter."

"Both Gowlais and Stevegonius were probably notorious heretics,"
says the priest of Ageus. "I believe that was settled once for all
at the Diet of Orthumar."

"Eh!" says Jurgen. He did not like this priest. "Now I will wager,
sirs," Jurgen continued, a trifle patronizingly, "that you gentlemen
have not read Gowlais, or even Stevegonius, in the light of
Vossler's commentaries. And that is why you underrate them."

"I at least have read every word that was ever written by any of
these three," replied the priest of Sesphra--"and with, as I need
hardly say, the liveliest abhorrence. And this Gowlais in
particular, as I hasten to agree with my learned confrere, is a most
notorious heretic--"

"Oh, sir," said Jurgen, horrified, "whatever are you telling me
about Gowlais!"

"I tell you that I have been roused to indignation by his
_Historia de Bello Veneris_--"

"You surprise me: still--"

"--Shocked by his _Pornoboscodidascolo_--"

"I can hardly believe it: even so, you must grant--"

"--And horrified by his _Liber de immortalitate Mentulae_--"

"Well, conceding you that earlier work, sir, yet, at the same

"--And have been disgusted by his _De modo coeundi_--"

"Ah, but, none the less--"

"--And have shuddered over the unspeakable enormities of
his _Erotopaegnion!_ of his _Cinaedica!_ and especially of his
_Epipedesis_, that most pestilential and abominable book,
_quem sine horrore nemo potest legere_--"

"Still, you cannot deny--"

"--And have read also all the confutations of this detestable
Gowlais: as those of Zanchius, Faventinus, Lelius Vincentius,
Lagalla, Thomas Giaminus, and eight other admirable commentators--"

"You are very exact, sir: but--"

"--And that, in short, I have read every book you can imagine," says
the priest of Sesphra.

The shoulders of Jurgen rose to his ears, and Jurgen silently flung
out his hands, palms upward.

"For, I perceive," says Jurgen, to himself, "that this Realist is
too circumstantial for me. None the less, he invents his facts: it
is by citing books which never existed that he publicly confutes the
Gowlais whom I invented privately: and that is not fair. Now there
remains only one chance for Jurgen; but luckily that chance is

"Why are you fumbling in your pocket?" asks the old priest of Ageus,
fidgeting and peering.

"Aha, you may well ask!" cried Jurgen. He unfolded the cantrap which
had been given him by the Master Philologist, and which Jurgen had
treasured against the time when more was needed than a glib tongue.
"O most unrighteous judges," says Jurgen, sternly, "now hear and
tremble! 'At the death of Adrian the Fifth, Pedro Juliani, who
should be named John the Twentieth, was through an error in the
reckoning elevated to the papal chair as John the Twenty-first!'"

"Hah, and what have we to do with that?" inquired the priest of
Vel-Tyno, with raised eyebrows. "Why are you telling us of these
irrelevant matters?"

"Because I thought it would interest you," said Jurgen. "It was a
fact that appeared to me rather amusing. So I thought I would
mention it."

"Then you have very queer ideas of amusement," they told him. And
Jurgen perceived that either he had not employed his cantrap
correctly or else that its magic was unappreciated by the leaders of


Farewell to Chloris

Now the Philistines led out their prisoners, and made ready to
inflict the doom which was decreed. And they permitted the young
King of Eubonia to speak with Chloris.

"Farewell to you now, Jurgen!" says Chloris, weeping softly. "It is
little I care what foolish words these priests of Philistia may
utter against me. But the big-armed axemen are felling my tree
yonder, to get them timber to make a bedstead for the Queen of
Philistia: for that is what this Queen Dolores ordered them to do
the first thing this morning."

And Jurgen raised his hands. "You women!" he said. "What man would
ever have thought of that?"

"So when my tree is felled I must depart into a sombre land wherein
there is no laughter at all; and where the puzzled dead go wandering
futilely through fields of scentless asphodel, and through tall
sullen groves of myrtle,--the puzzled quiet dead, who may not even
weep as I do now, but can only wonder what it is that they regret.
And I too must taste of Lethe, and forget all I have loved."

"You should give thanks to the imagination of your forefathers, my
dear, that your doom is no worse. For I am going into a more
barbaric limbo, into the Hell of a people who thought entirely too
much about flames and pitchforks," says Jurgen, ruefully. "I tell
you it is the deuce and all, to come of morbid ancestry." And he
kissed Chloris, upon the brow. "My dear, dear girl," he said, with a
gulp, "as long as you remember me, do so with charity."

"Jurgen"--and she clung close to him--"you were not ever unkind, not
even for a moment. Jurgen, you have not ever spoken one harsh word
to me or any other person, in all the while we were together. O
Jurgen, whom I have loved as you could love nobody, it was not much
those other women had left me to worship!"

"Indeed, it is a pity that you loved me, Chloris, for I was not
worthy." And for the instant Jurgen meant it.

"If any other person said that, Jurgen, I would be very angry. And even
to hear you say it troubles me, because there was never a hamadryad
between two hills that had a husband one-half so clever-foolish as he
made light of time and chance, with his sleek black head cocked to one
side, and his mischievous brown eyes a-twinkle."

And Jurgen wondered that this should be the notion Chloris had of
him, and that a gesture should be the things she remembered about
him: and he was doubly assured that no woman bothers to understand
the man she elects to love and cosset and slave for.

"O woman dear," says Jurgen, "but I have loved you, and my heart is
water now that you are taken from me: and to remember your ways and
the joy I had in them will be a big and grinding sorrow in the long
time to come. Oh, not with any heroic love have I loved you, nor
with any madness and high dreams, nor with much talking either; but
with a love befitting my condition, with a quiet and cordial love."

"And must you be trying, while I die, to get your grieving for me
into the right words?" she asks him, smiling very sadly. "No matter:
you are Jurgen, and I have loved you. And I am glad that I shall
know nothing about it when in the long time, to come you will be
telling so many other women about what was said by Zorobasius and
Ptolemopiter, and when you will be posturing and romancing for their
delight. For presently I shall have tasted Lethe: and presently I
shall have forgotten you, King Jurgen, and all the joy I had in you,
and all the pride, and all the love I had for you, King Jurgen, who
loved me as much as you were able."

"Why, and will there be any love-making, do you think, in Hell?" he
asks her, with a doleful smile.

"There will be love-making," she replied, "wherever you go, King
Jurgen. And there will be women to listen. And at the last there
will be a bean-pole of a woman, in a wig."

"I am sorry--" he said. "And yet I have loved you, Chloris."

"That is my comfort now. And presently there will be Lethe. I put
the greater faith in Lethe. And still, I cannot help but love you,
Jurgen, in whom I have no faith at all."

He said, again: "I am not worthy."

They kissed. Then each of them was conveyed to an appropriate doom.

And tears were in the eyes of Jurgen, who was not used to weep: and
he thought not at all of what was to befall him, but only of this
and that small trivial thing which would have pleased his Chloris
had Jurgen done it, and which for one reason or another Jurgen had
left undone.

"I was not ever unkind to her, says she! ah, but I might have been
so much kinder. And now I shall not ever see her any more, nor ever
any more may I awaken delight and admiration in those bright tender
eyes which saw no fault in me! Well, but it is a comfort surely that
she does not know how I devoted the last night she was to live to
teaching mathematics."

And then Jurgen wondered how he would be despatched into the Hell of
his fathers? And when the Philistines showed him in what manner they
proposed to inflict their sentence he wondered at his own

"For I might have surmised this would be the way of it," said
Jurgen. "And yet as always there is a simplicity in the methods of
the Philistines which is unimaginable by really clever fellows. And
as always, too, these methods are unfair to us clever fellows. Well,
I am willing to taste any drink once: but this is a very horrible
device, none the less; and I wonder if I have the pluck to endure

Then as he stood considering this matter, a man-at-arms came
hurrying. He brought with him three great rolled parchments, with
seals and ribbons and everything in order: and these were Jurgen's
pardon and Jurgen's nomination as Poet Laureate of Philistia and
Jurgen's appointment as Mathematician Royal.

The man-at-arms brought also a letter from Queen Dolores, and this
Jurgen read with a frown.

"Do you consider now what fun it would be to hood-wink everybody by
pretending to conform to our laws!" said this letter, and it said
nothing more: Dolores was really a wise woman. Yet there was a
postscript. "For we could be so happy!" said the postscript.

And Jurgen looked toward the Woods, where men were sawing up a great
oak-tree. And Jurgen gave a fine laugh, and with fine deliberateness
he tore up the Queen's letter into little strips. Then statelily he
took the parchments, and found they were so tough he could not tear
them. This was uncommonly awkward, for Jurgen's ill-advised attempt
to tear the parchments impaired the dignity of his magnanimous
self-sacrifice: he even suspected one of the guards of smiling. So
there was nothing for it but presently to give up that futile tugging
and jerking, and to compromise by crumpling these parchments.

"This is my answer," said Jurgen heroically, and with some
admiration of himself, but still a little dashed by the uncalled-for
toughness of the parchments.

Then Jurgen cried farewell to fallen Leuke; and scornfully he cried
farewell to the Philistines and to their devices. Then he submitted
to their devices. Thus, it was without making any special protest
about it that Jurgen was relegated to limbo, and was despatched to
the Hell of his fathers, two days before Christmas.


How Emperor Jurgen Fared Infernally

Now the tale tells how the devils of Hell were in one of their churches
celebrating Christmas in such manner as the devils observe that day;
and how Jurgen came through the trapdoor in the vestry-room; and how
he saw and wondered over the creatures which inhabited this place. For
to him after the Christmas services came all such devils as his fathers
had foretold, and in not a hair or scale or talon did they differ from
the worst that anybody had been able to imagine.

"Anatomy is hereabouts even more inconsequent than in Cocaigne," was
Jurgen's first reflection. But the first thing the devils did was to
search Jurgen very carefully, in order to make sure he was not
bringing any water into Hell.

"Now, who may you be, that come to us alive, in a fine shirt of

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