Part 5 out of 6
which we never saw the like before?" asked Dithican. He had the head
of a tiger, but otherwise the appearance of a large bird, with
shining feathers and four feet: his neck was yellow, his body green,
and his feet black.
"It would not be treating honestly with you to deny that I am the
Emperor of Noumaria," said Jurgen, somewhat advancing his estate.
Now spoke Amaimon, in the form of a thick suet-colored worm going
upright upon his tail, which shone like the tail of a glowworm. He
had no feet, but under his chops were two short hands, and upon his
back were bristles such as grow upon hedgehogs.
"But we are rather overrun with emperors," said Amaimon, doubtfully,
"and their crimes are a great trouble to us. Were you a very wicked
"Never since I became an emperor," replied Jurgen, "has any of my
subjects uttered one word of complaint against me. So it stands to
reason I have nothing very serious with which to reproach myself."
"Your conscience, then, does not demand that you be punished?"
"My conscience, gentlemen, is too well-bred to insist on anything."
"You do not even wish to be tortured?"
"Well, I admit I had expected something of the sort. But none the
less, I will not make a point of it," said Jurgen, handsomely. "No,
I shall be quite satisfied even though you do not torture me at
And then the mob of devils made a great to-do over Jurgen.
"For it is exceedingly good to have at least one unpretentious and
undictatorial human being in Hell. Nobody as a rule drops in on us
save inordinately proud and conscientious ghosts, whose self-conceit
is intolerable, and whose demands are outrageous."
"How can that be?"
"Why, we have to punish them. Of course they are not properly
punished until they are convinced that what is happening to them is
just and adequate. And you have no notion what elaborate tortures
they insist their exceeding wickedness has merited, as though that
which they did or left undone could possibly matter to anybody. And
to contrive these torments quite tires us out."
"But wherefore is this place called the Hell of my fathers?"
"Because your forefathers builded it in dreams," they told him, "out
of the pride which led them to believe that what they did was of
sufficient importance to merit punishment. Or so at least we have
heard: but if you want the truth of the matter you must go to our
Grandfather at Barathum."
"I shall go to him, then. And do my own grandfathers, and all the
forefathers that I had in the old time, inhabit this gray place?"
"All such as are born with what they call a conscience come hither,"
the devils said. "Do you think you could persuade them to go
elsewhere? For in that event, we would be deeply obliged to you.
Their self-conceit is pitiful: but it is also a nuisance, because it
prevents our getting any rest."
"Perhaps I can help you to obtain justice, and certainly to attempt
to secure justice for you is my imperial duty. But who governs this
They told him how Hell was divided into principalities that had for
governors Lucifer and Beelzebub and Belial and Ascheroth and
Phlegeton: but that over all these was Grandfather Satan, who lived
in the Black House at Barathum.
"Well, I prefer," says Jurgen, "to deal directly with your
principal, especially if he can explain the polity of this insane
and murky country. Do some of you conduct me to him in such state as
becomes an emperor!"
So Cannagosta fetched a wheelbarrow, and Jurgen got into it, and
Cannagosta trundled him away. Cannagosta was something like an ox,
but rather more like a cat, and his hair was curly.
And as they came through Chorasma, a very uncomfortable place where
the damned abide in torment, whom should Jurgen see but his own
father, Coth, the son of Smoit and Steinvor, standing there chewing
his long moustaches in the midst of an especially tall flame.
"Do you stop now for a moment!" says Jurgen, to his escort.
"Oh, but this is the most vexatious person in all Hell!" cried
Cannagosta; "and a person whom there is absolutely no pleasing!"
"Nobody knows that better than I," says Jurgen.
And Jurgen civilly bade his father good-day, but Coth did not
recognize this spruce young Emperor of Noumaria, who went about Hell
in a wheelbarrow.
"You do not know me, then?" says Jurgen.
"How should I know you when I never saw you before?" replied Coth,
And Jurgen did not argue the point: for he knew that he and his
father could never agree about anything. So Jurgen kept silent for
that time, and Cannagosta wheeled him through the gray twilight,
descending always deeper and yet deeper into the lowlands of Hell,
until they had come to Barathum.
What Grandfather Satan Reported
Next the tale tells how three inferior devils made a loud music with
bagpipes as Jurgen went into the Black House of Barathum, to talk
with Grandfather Satan.
Satan was like a man of sixty, or it might be sixty-two, in all
things save that he was covered with gray fur, and had horns like
those of a stag. He wore a breech-clout of very dark gray, and he
sat in a chair of black marble, on a dais: his bushy tail, which was
like that of a squirrel, waved restlessly over his head as he looked
at Jurgen, without speaking, and without turning his mind from an
ancient thought. And his eyes were like light shining upon little
pools of ink, for they had no whites to them.
"What is the meaning of this insane country?" says Jurgen, plunging
at the heart of things. "There is no sense in it, and no fairness at
"Ah," replied Satan, in his curious hoarse voice, "you may well say
that: and it is what I was telling my wife only last night."
"You have a wife, then!" says Jurgen, who was always interested in
such matters. "Why, but to be sure! either as a Christian or as a
married man, I should have comprehended this was Satan's due. And
how do you get on with her?"
"Pretty well," says Grandfather Satan: "but she does not understand
"_Et tu, Brute!_" says Jurgen.
"And what does that mean?"
"It is an expression connotating astonishment over an event without
parallel. But everything in Hell seems rather strange, and the place
is not at all as it was rumored to be by the priests and the bishops
and the cardinals that used to be exhorting me in my fine palace at
"And where, did you say, is this palace?"
"In Noumaria, where I am the Emperor Jurgen. And I need not insult
you by explaining Breschau is my capital city, and is noted for
its manufacture of linen and woolen cloth and gloves and cameos
and brandy, though the majority of my subjects are engaged in
cattle-breeding and agricultural pursuits."
"Of course not: for I have studied geography. And, Jurgen, it is
often I have heard of you, though never of your being an emperor."
"Did I not say this place was not in touch with new ideas?"
"Ah, but you must remember that thoughtful persons keep out of Hell.
Besides, the war with Heaven prevents us from thinking of other
matters. In any event, you Emperor Jurgen, by what authority do you
question Satan, in Satan's home?"
"I have heard that word which the ass spoke with the cat," replied
Jurgen; for he recollected upon a sudden what Merlin had shown him.
Grandfather Satan nodded comprehendingly. "All honor be to Set and
Bast! and may their power increase. This, Emperor, is how my kingdom
Then Satan, sitting erect and bleak in his tall marble chair,
explained how he, and all the domain and all the infernal
hierarchies he ruled, had been created extempore by Koshchei, to
humor the pride of Jurgen's forefathers. "For they were exceedingly
proud of their sins. And Koshchei happened to notice Earth once upon
a time, with your forefathers walking about it exultant in the
enormity of their sins and in the terrible punishments they expected
in requital. Now Koshchei will do almost anything to humor pride,
because to be proud is one of the two things that are impossible to
Koshchei. So he was pleased, oh, very much pleased: and after he had
had his laugh out, he created Hell extempore, and made it just such
a place as your forefathers imagined it ought to be, in order to
humor the pride of your forefathers."
"And why is pride impossible to Koshchei?"
"Because he made things as they are; and day and night he
contemplates things as they are, having nothing else to look at.
How, then, can Koshchei be proud?"
"I see. It is as if I were imprisoned in a cell wherein there was
nothing, absolutely nothing, except my verses. I shudder to think of
it! But what is this other thing which is impossible to Koshchei?"
"I do not know. It is something that does not enter into Hell."
"Well, I wish I too had never entered here, and now you must assist
me to get out of this murky place."
"And why must I assist you?"
"Because," said Jurgen, and he drew out the cantrap of the Master
Philologist, "because at the death of Adrian the Fifth, Pedro
Juliani, who should be named John the Twentieth, was through an
error in the reckoning elevated to the papal chair as John the
Twenty-first. Do you not find my reason sufficient?"
"No," said Grandfather Satan, after thinking it over, "I cannot say
that I do. But, then, popes go to Heaven. It is considered to look
better, all around, and particularly by my countrymen, inasmuch as
many popes have been suspected of pro-Celestialism. So we admit none
of them into Hell, in order to be on the safe side, now that we are
at war. In consequence, I am no judge of popes and their affairs,
nor do I pretend to be."
And Jurgen perceived that again he had employed his cantrap
incorrectly or else that it was impotent to rescue people from
Satan. "But who would have thought," he reflected, "that Grandfather
Satan was such a simple old creature!"
"How long, then, must I remain here?" asks Jurgen, after a dejected
"I do not know," replies Satan. "It must depend entirely upon what
your father thinks about it--"
"But what has he to do with it?"
"--Since I and all else that is here are your father's absurd
notions, as you have so frequently proved by logic. And it is hardly
possible that such a clever fellow as you can be mistaken."
"Why, of course, that is not possible," says Jurgen. "Well, the
matter is rather complicated. But I am willing to taste any drink
once: and I shall manage to get justice somehow, even in this
unreasonable place where my father's absurd notions are the truth."
So Jurgen left the Black House of Barathum: and Jurgen also left
Grandfather Satan, erect and bleak in his tall marble chair, and
with his eyes gleaming in the dim light, as he sat there restively
swishing his soft bushy tail, and not ever turning his mind from an
Why Coth was Contradicted
Then Jurgen went back to Chorasma, where Coth, the son of Smoit and
Steinvor, stood conscientiously in the midst of the largest and
hottest flame he had been able to imagine, and rebuked the outworn
devils who were tormenting him, because the tortures they inflicted
were not adequate to the wickedness of Coth.
And Jurgen cried to his father: "The lewd fiend Cannagosta told you
I was the Emperor of Noumaria, and I do not deny it even now. But do
you not perceive I am likewise your son Jurgen?"
"Why, so it is," said Coth, "now that I look at the rascal. And how,
Jurgen, did you become an emperor?"
"Oh, sir, and is this a place wherein to talk about mere earthly
dignities? I am surprised your mind should still run upon these
empty vanities even here in torment."
"But it is inadequate torment, Jurgen, such as does not salve my
conscience. There is no justice in this place, and no way of getting
justice. For these shiftless devils do not take seriously that which
I did, and they merely pretend to punish me, and so my conscience
"Well, but, father, I have talked with them, and they seem to think
your crimes do not amount to much, after all."
Coth flew into one of his familiar rages. "I would have you know
that I killed eight men in cold blood, and held five other men while
they were being killed. I estimate the sum of such iniquity as ten
and a half murders, and for these my conscience demands that I be
"Ah, but, sir, that was fifty years or more ago, and these men would
now be dead in any event, so you see it does not matter now."
"I went astray with women, with I do not know how many women."
Jurgen shook his head. "This is very shocking news for a son to
receive, and you can imagine my feelings. None the less, sir, that
also was fifty years ago, and nobody is bothering over it now."
"You jackanapes, I tell you that I swore and stole and forged and
burned four houses and broke the Sabbath and was guilty of mayhem
and spoke disrespectfully to my mother and worshipped a stone image
in Porutsa. I tell you I shattered the whole Decalogue, time and
again. I committed all the crimes that were ever heard of, and
invented six new ones."
"Yes, sir," said Jurgen: "but, still, what does it matter if you
"Oh, take away this son of mine!" cried Coth: "for he is his mother
all over again; and though I was the vilest sinner that ever lived,
I have not deserved to be plagued twice with such silly questions.
And I demand that you loitering devils bring more fuel."
"Sir," said a panting little fiend, in the form of a tadpole with
hairy arms and legs like a monkey's, as he ran up with four bundles
of faggots, "we are doing the very best we can for your discomfort.
But you damned have no consideration for us, and do not remember
that we are on our feet day and night, waiting upon you," said the
little devil, whimpering, as with his pitchfork he raked up the fire
about Coth. "You do not even remember the upset condition of the
country, on account of the war with Heaven, which makes it so hard
for us to get you all the inconveniences of life. Instead, you
lounge in your flames, and complain about the service, and
Grandfather Satan punishes us, and it is not fair."
"I think, myself," said Jurgen, "you should be gentler with the boy.
And as for your crimes, sir, come, will you not conquer this pride
which you nickname conscience, and concede that after any man has
been dead a little while it does not matter at all what he did? Why,
about Bellegarde no one ever thinks of your throat-cutting and
Sabbath-breaking except when very old people gossip over the fire,
and your wickedness brightens up the evening for them. To the rest
of us you are just a stone in the churchyard which describes you as
a paragon of all the virtues. And outside of Bellegarde, sir, your
name and deeds mean nothing now to anybody, and no one anywhere
remembers you. So really your wickedness is not bothering any person
now save these poor toiling devils: and I think that, in
consequence, you might consent to put up with such torments as they
can conveniently contrive, without complaining so ill-temperedly
"Ah, but my conscience, Jurgen! that is the point."
"Oh, if you continue to talk about your conscience, sir, you
restrict the conversation to matters I do not understand, and so
cannot discuss. But I dare say we will find occasion to thresh out
this, and all other matters, by and by: and you and I will make the
best of this place, for now I will never leave you."
Coth began to weep: and he said that his sins in the flesh had been
too heinous for this comfort to be permitted him in the unendurable
torment which he had fairly earned, and hoped some day to come by.
"Do you care about me, one way or the other, then?" says Jurgen,
And from the midst of his flame Coth, the son of Smoit, talked of
the birth of Jurgen, and of the infant that had been Jurgen, and of
the child that had been Jurgen. And a horrible, deep, unreasonable
emotion moved in Jurgen as he listened to the man who had begotten
him, and whose flesh was Jurgen's flesh, and whose thoughts had not
ever been Jurgen's thoughts: and Jurgen did not like it. Then the
voice of Coth was bitterly changed, as he talked of the young man
that had been Jurgen, of the young man who was idle and rebellious
and considerate of nothing save his own light desires; and of the
division which had arisen between Jurgen and Jurgen's father Coth
spoke likewise: and Jurgen felt better now, but was still grieved to
know how much his father had once loved him.
"It is lamentably true," says Jurgen, "that I was an idle and
rebellious son. So I did not follow your teachings. I went astray,
oh, very terribly astray. I even went astray, sir I must tell you,
with a nature myth connected with the Moon."
"Oh, hideous abomination of the heathen!"
"And she considered, sir, that thereafter I was likely to become a
"I should not wonder," said Coth, and he shook his bald and dome-shaped
head despondently. "Ah, my son, it simply shows you what comes of these
"And in that event, I would, of course, be released from sojourning
in the underworld by the Spring Equinox. Do you not think so, sir?"
says Jurgen, very coaxingly, because he remembered that, according
to Satan, whatever Coth believed would be the truth in Hell.
"I am sure," said Coth--"why, I am sure I do not know anything about
"Yes, but what do you think?"
"I do not think about it at all."
"Jurgen, you have a very uncivil habit of arguing with people--"
"And I have spoken to you about it before--"
"And I do not wish to have to speak to you about it again--"
"None the less, sir--"
"And when I say that I have no opinion--"
"But everybody has an opinion, father!" Jurgen shouted this, and
felt it was quite like old times.
"How dare you speak to me in that tone of voice, sir!"
"But I only meant--"
"Do not lie to me, Jurgen! and stop interrupting me! For, as I was
saying when you began to yell at your father as though you were
addressing an unreasonable person, it is my opinion that I know
nothing whatever about Equinoxes! and do not care to know anything
about Equinoxes, I would have you understand! and that the less said
as to such disreputable topics the better, as I tell you to your
And Jurgen groaned. "Here is a pretty father! If you had thought so,
it would have happened. But you imagine me in a place like this, and
have not sufficient fairness, far less paternal affection, to
imagine me out of it."
"I can only think of your well merited affliction, you quarrelsome
scoundrel! and of the host of light women with whom you have sinned!
and of the doom which has befallen you in consequence!"
"Well, at worst," says Jurgen, "there are no women here. That ought
to be a comfort to you."
"I think there are women here," snapped his father. "It is reputed
that quite a number of women have had consciences. But these
conscientious women are probably kept separate from us men, in some
other part of Hell, for the reason that if they were admitted into
Chorasma they would attempt to tidy the place and make it habitable.
I know your mother would have been meddling out of hand."
"Oh, sir, and must you still be finding fault with mother?"
"Your mother, Jurgen, was in many ways an admirable woman. But,"
said Coth, "she did not understand me."
"Ah, well, that may have been the trouble. Still, all this you say
about women being here is mere guess-work."
"It is not!" said Coth, "and I want none of your impudence, either.
How many times must I tell you that?"
Jurgen scratched his ear reflectively. For he still remembered what
Grandfather Satan had said, and Coth's irritation seemed promising.
"Well, but the women here are all ugly, I wager."
"They are not!" said his father, angrily. "Why do you keep
"Because you do not know what you are talking about," says Jurgen,
egging him on. "How could there be any pretty women in this horrible
place? For the soft flesh would be burned away from their little
bones, and the loveliest of queens would be reduced to a horrid
"I think there are any number of vampires and succubi and such
creatures, whom the flames do not injure at all, because these
creatures are informed with an ardor that is unquenchable and is
more hot than fire. And you understand perfectly what I mean, so
there is no need for you to stand there goggling at me like a
"Oh, sir, but you know very well that I would have nothing to do
with such unregenerate persons."
"I do not know anything of the sort. You are probably lying to me.
You always lied to me. I think you are on your way to meet a vampire
"What, sir, a hideous creature with fangs and leathery wings!"
"No, but a very poisonous and seductively beautiful creature."
"Come, now! you do not really think she is beautiful."
"I do think so. How dare you tell me what I think and do not think!"
"Ah, well, I shall have nothing to do with her."
"I think you will," said his father: "ah, but I think you will be up
to your tricks with her before this hour is out. For do I not know
what emperors are? and do I not know you?"
And Coth fell to talking of Jurgen's past, in the customary terms of
a family squabble, such as are not very nicely repeatable elsewhere.
And the fiends who had been tormenting Coth withdrew in
embarrassment, and so long as Coth continued talking they kept out
Invention of the Lovely Vampire
So again Coth parted with his son in anger, and Jurgen returned
again toward Barathum; and, whether or not it was a coincidence,
Jurgen met precisely the vampire of whom he had inveigled his father
into thinking. She was the most seductively beautiful creature that
it would be possible for Jurgen's father or any other man to
imagine: and her clothes were orange-colored, for a reason
sufficiently well known in Hell, and were embroidered everywhere
with green fig-leaves.
"A good morning to you, madame," says Jurgen, "and whither are you
"Why, to no place at all, good youth. For this is my vacation,
granted yearly by the Law of Kalki--"
"And who is Kalki, madame?"
"Nobody as yet: but he will come as a stallion. Meanwhile his Law
precedes him, so that I am spending my vacation peacefully in Hell,
with none of my ordinary annoyances to bother me."
"And what, madame, can they be?"
"Why, you must understand that it is little rest a vampire gets on
earth, with so many fine young fellows like yourself going about
everywhere eager to be destroyed."
"But how, madame, did you happen to become a vampire if the life
does not please you? And what is it that they call you?"
"My name, sir," replied the Vampire, sorrowfully, "is Florimel,
because my nature no less than my person was as beautiful as the
flowers of the field and as sweet as the honey which the bees (who
furnish us with such admirable examples of industry) get out of
these flowers. But a sad misfortune changed all this. For I chanced
one day to fall ill and die (which, of course, might happen to
anyone), and as my funeral was leaving the house the cat jumped over
my coffin. That was a terrible misfortune to befall a poor dead girl
so generally respected, and in wide demand as a seamstress; though,
even then, the worst might have been averted had not my sister-in-law
been of what they call a humane disposition and foolishly attached to
the cat. So they did not kill it, and I, of course, became a vampire."
"Yes, I can understand that was inevitable. Still, it seems hardly
fair. I pity you, my dear." And Jurgen sighed.
"I would prefer, sir, that you did not address me thus familiarly,
since you and I have omitted the formality of an introduction; and
in the absence of any joint acquaintances are unlikely ever to meet
"I have no herald handy, for I travel incognito. However, I am that
Jurgen who recently made himself Emperor of Noumaria, King of
Eubonia, Prince of Cocaigne, and Duke of Logreus; and of whom you
have doubtless heard."
"Why, to be sure!" says she, patting her hair straight. "And who
would have anticipated meeting your highness in such a place!"
"One says 'majesty' to an emperor, my dear. It is a detail, of
course: but in my position one has to be a little exigent."
"I perfectly comprehend, your majesty; and indeed I might have
divined your rank from your lovely clothes. I can but entreat you to
overlook my unintentional breach of etiquette: and I make bold to
add that a kind heart reveals the splendor of its graciousness
through the interest which your majesty has just evinced in my
"Upon my word," thinks Jurgen, "but in this flow of words I seem to
recognize my father's imagination when in anger."
Then Florimel told Jurgen of her horrible awakening in the grave,
and of what had befallen her hands and feet there, the while that
against her will she fed repugnantly, destroying first her kindred
and then the neighbors. This done, she had arisen.
"For the cattle still lived, and that troubled me. When I had put an
end to this annoyance, I climbed into the church belfry, not alone,
for one went with me of whom I prefer not to talk; and at midnight I
sounded the bell so that all who heard it would sicken and die. And
I wept all the while, because I knew that when everything had been
destroyed which I had known in my first life in the flesh, I would
be compelled to go into new lands, in search of the food which alone
can nourish me, and I was always sincerely attached to my home. So
it was, your majesty, that I forever relinquished my sewing, and
became a lovely peril, a flashing desolation, and an evil which
smites by night, in spite of my abhorrence of irregular hours: and
what I do I dislike extremely, for it is a sad fate to become a
vampire, and still to sympathize with your victims, and particularly
with their poor mothers."
So Jurgen comforted Florimel, and he put his arm around her.
"Come, come!" he said, "but I will see that your vacation passes
pleasantly. And I intend to deal fairly with you, too."
Then he glanced sidewise at his shadow, and whispered a suggestion
which caused Florimel to sigh. "By the terms of my doom," said she,
"at no time during the nine lives of the cat can I refuse. Still, it
is a comfort you are the Emperor of Noumaria and have a kind heart."
"Oh, and a many other possessions, my dear! and I again assure you
that I intend to deal fairly with you."
So Florimel conducted Jurgen, through the changeless twilight of
Barathum, like that of a gray winter afternoon, to a quiet cleft by
the Sea of Blood, which she had fitted out very cosily in imitation
of her girlhood home; and she lighted a candle, and made him welcome
to her cleft. And when Jurgen was about to enter it he saw that his
shadow was following him into the Vampire's home.
"Let us extinguish this candle!" says Jurgen, "for I have seen so
many flames to-day that my eyes are tired."
So Florimel extinguished the candle, with a good-will that delighted
Jurgen. And now they were in utter darkness, and in the dark nobody
can see what is happening. But that Florimel now trusted Jurgen and
his Noumarian claims was evinced by her very first remark.
"I was in the beginning suspicious of your majesty," said Florimel,
"because I had always heard that every emperor carried a magnificent
sceptre, and you then displayed nothing of the sort. But now,
somehow, I do not doubt you any longer. And of what is your majesty
"Why, I was reflecting, my dear," says Jurgen, "that my father
imagines things very satisfactorily."
As to Applauded Precedents
Afterward Jurgen abode in Hell, and complied with the customs of
that country. And the tale tells that a week or it might be ten days
after his meeting with Florimel, Jurgen married her, without being
at all hindered by his having three other wives. For the devils, he
found, esteemed polygamy, and ranked it above mere skill at
torturing the damned, through a literal interpretation of the saying
that it is better to marry than to burn.
"And formerly," they told Jurgen, "you could hardly come across a
marriage anywhere that was not hallmarked 'made in Heaven': but
since we have been at war with Heaven we have quite taken away that
trade from our enemies. So you may marry here as much as you like."
"Why, then," says Jurgen, "I shall marry in haste, and repeat at
leisure. But can one obtain a divorce here?"
"Oh, no," said they. "We trafficked in them for a while, but we
found that all persons who obtained divorces through our industry
promptly thanked Heaven they were free at last. In the face of such
ingratitude we gave over that profitless trade, and now there is a
manufactory, for specialties in men's clothing, upon the old
"But these makeshifts are unsatisfactory, and I wish to know, in
confidence, what do you do in Hell when there is no longer any
putting up with your wives."
The devils all blushed. "We would prefer not to tell you," said
they, "for it might get to their ears."
"Now do I perceive," said Jurgen, "that Hell is pretty much like any
So Jurgen and the lovely Vampire were duly married. First Jurgen's
nails were trimmed, and the parings were given to Florimel. A
broomstick was laid before them, and they stepped over it. Then
Florimel said "Temon!" thrice, and nine times did Jurgen reply
"Arigizator!" Afterward the Emperor Jurgen and his bride were given
a posset of dudaim and eruca, and the devils modestly withdrew.
Thereafter Jurgen abode in Hell, and complied with the customs of
that country, and was tolerably content for a while. Now Jurgen
shared with Florimel that quiet cleft which she had fitted out in
imitation of her girlhood home: and they lived in the suburbs of
Barathum, very respectably, by the shore of the sea. There was, of
course, no water in Hell; indeed the importation of water was
forbidden, under severe penalties, in view of its possible use for
baptismal purposes: this sea was composed of the blood that had been
shed by piety in furthering the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, and
was reputed to be the largest ocean in existence. And it explained
the nonsensical saying which Jurgen had so often heard, as to Hell's
being paved with good intentions.
"For Epigenes of Rhodes is right, after all," said Jurgen, "in
suggesting a misprint: and the word should be 'laved'."
"Why, to be sure, your majesty," assented Florimel: "ah, but I
always said your majesty had remarkable powers of penetration, quite
apart from your majesty's scholarship."
For Florimel had this cajoling way of speaking. None the less, all
vampires have their foibles, and are nourished by the vigor and
youth of their lovers. So one morning Florimel complained of being
unwell, and attributed it to indigestion.
Jurgen stroked her head meditatively; then he opened his glittering
shirt, and displayed what was plain enough to see.
"I am full of vigor and I am young," said Jurgen, "but my vigor and
my youthfulness are of a peculiar sort, and are not wholesome. So
let us have no more of your tricks, or you will quite spoil your
vacation by being very ill indeed."
"But I had thought all emperors were human!" said Florimel, in a
flutter of blushing penitence, exceedingly pretty to observe.
"Even so, sweetheart, all emperors are not Jurgens," he replied,
magnificently. "Therefore you will find that not every emperor is
justly styled the father of his people, or is qualified by nature to
wield the sceptre of Noumaria. I trust this lesson will suffice."
"It will," said Florimel, with a wry face.
So thereafter they had no further trouble of this sort, and the
wound on Jurgen's breast was soon healed.
And Jurgen kept away from the damned, of course, because he and
Florimel were living respectably. They paid a visit to Jurgen's
father, however, very shortly after they were married, because this
was the proper thing to do. And Coth was civil enough, for Coth, and
voiced a hope that Florimel might have a good influence upon Jurgen
and make him worth his salt, but did not pretend to be optimistic.
Yet this visit was never returned, because Coth considered his
wickedness was too great for him to be spared a moment of torment,
and so would not leave his flame.
"And really, your majesty," said Florimel, "I do not wish for an
instant to have the appearance of criticizing your majesty's
relatives. But I do think that your majesty's father might have
called upon us, at least once, particularly after I offered to have
a fire made up for him to sit on any time he chose to come. I
consider that your majesty's father assumes somewhat extravagant
airs, in the lack of any definite proof as to his having been a bit
more wicked than anybody else: and the child-like candor which has
always been with me a leading characteristic prevents concealment of
"Oh, it is just his conscience, dear."
"A conscience is all very well in its place, your majesty; and I,
for one, would never have been able to endure the interminable labor
of seducing and assassinating so many fine young fellows if my
conscience had not assured me that it was all the fault of my
sister-in-law. But, even so, there is no sense in letting your
conscience make a slave of you: and when conscience reduces your
majesty's father to ignoring the rules of common civility and
behaving like a candle-wick, I am sure that matters are being
carried too far."
"And right you are, my dear. However, we do not lack for company. So
come now, make yourself fine, and shake the black dog from your
back, for we are spending the evening with the Asmodeuses."
"And will your majesty talk politics again?"
"Oh, I suppose so. They appear to like it."
"I only wish that I did, your majesty," observed Florimel, and she
yawned by anticipation.
For with the devils Jurgen got on garrulously. The religion of Hell
is patriotism, and the government is an enlightened democracy. This
contented the devils, and Jurgen had learned long ago never to fall
out with either of these codes, without which, as the devils were
fond of observing, Hell would not be what it is.
They were, to Jurgen's finding, simple-minded fiends who allowed
themselves to be deplorably overworked by the importunate dead. They
got no rest because of the damned, who were such persons as had been
saddled with a conscience, and who in consequence demanded
interminable torments. And at the time of Jurgen's coming into Hell
political affairs were in a very bad way, because there was a
considerable party among the younger devils who were for compounding
the age-old war with Heaven, at almost any price, in order to get
relief from this unceasing influx of conscientious dead persons in
search of torment. For it was well-known that when Satan submitted
to be bound in chains there would be no more death: and the annoying
immigration would thus be ended. So said the younger devils: and
considered Grandfather Satan ought to sacrifice himself for the
Then too they pointed out that Satan had been perforce their
presiding magistrate ever since the settlement of Hell, because a
change of administration is inexpedient in war-time: so that Satan
must term after term be re-elected: and of course Satan had been
voted absolute power in everything, since this too is customary in
wartime. Well, and after the first few thousand years of this the
younger devils began to whisper that such government was not ideal
But their more conservative elders were enraged by these effete and
wild new notions, and dealt with their juniors somewhat severely,
tearing them into bits and quite destroying them. The elder devils
then proceeded to inflict even more startling punishments.
* * * * *
So Grandfather Satan was much vexed, because the laws were being
violated everywhere: and a day or two after Jurgen's advent Satan
issued a public appeal to his subjects, that the code of Hell should
be better respected. But under a democratic government people do not
like to be perpetually bothering about law and order, as one of the
older and stronger devils pointed out to Jurgen.
Jurgen drew a serious face, and he stroked his chin. "Why, but look
you," says Jurgen, "in deploring the mob spirit that has been
manifesting itself sporadically throughout this country against the
advocates of peace and submission to the commands of Heaven and
other pro-Celestial propaganda,--and in warning loyal citizenship
that such outbursts must be guarded against, as hurtful to the
public welfare of Hell,--why, Grandfather Satan should bear in mind
that the government, in large measure, holds the remedy of the evil
in its own hands." And Jurgen looked very severely toward Satan.
"Come now," says Phlegeton, nodding his head, which was like that of
a bear, except for his naked long, red ears, inside each of which
was a flame like that of a spirit-lamp: "come now, but this young
emperor in the fine shirt speaks uncommonly well!"
"So we spoke together in Pandemonium," said Belial, wistfully, "in
the brave days when Pandemonium was newly built and we were all imps
"Yes, his talk is of the old school, than which there is none
better. So pray continue, Emperor Jurgen," cried the elderly devils,
"and let us know what you are talking about."
"Why, merely this," says Jurgen, and again he looked severely toward
Satan: "I tell you that as long as sentimental weakness marks the
prosecution of offences in violation of the laws necessitated by
war-time conditions; as long as deserved punishment for overt acts
of pro-Celestialism is withheld; as long as weak-kneed clemency
condones even a suspicion of disloyal thinking: then just so long
will a righteously incensed, if now and then misguided patriotism
take into its own hands vengeance upon the offenders."
"But, still--" said Grandfather Satan.
"Ineffectual administration of the law," continued Jurgen, sternly,
"is the true defence of these outbursts: and far more justly
deplorable than acts of mob violence is the policy of condonation
that furnishes occasion for them. The patriotic people of Hell are
not in a temper to be trifled with, now that they are at war.
Conviction for offenses against the nation should not be behedged
about with technicalities devised for over-refined peacetime
jurisprudence. Why, there is no one of you, I am sure, but has at
his tongue's tip the immortal words of Livonius as to this very
topic: and so I shall not repeat them. But I fancy you will agree
with me that what Livonius says is unanswerable."
So it was that Jurgen went on at a great rate, and looking always
very sternly at Grandfather Satan.
"Yes, yes!" said Satan, wriggling uncomfortably, but still not
thinking of Jurgen entirely: "yes, all this is excellent oratory,
and not for a moment would I decry the authority of Livonius. And
your quotation is uncommonly apropos and all that sort of thing. But
with what are you charging me?"
"With sentimental weakness," retorted Jurgen. "Was it not only
yesterday one of the younger devils was brought before you, upon the
charge that he had said the climate in Heaven was better than the
climate here? And you, sir, Hell's chief magistrate--you it was who
actually asked him if he had ever uttered such a disloyal heresy!"
"Now, but what else was I to do?" said Satan, fidgeting, and
swishing his great bushy tail so that it rustled against his horns,
and still not really turning his mind from that ancient thought.
"You should have remembered, sir, that a devil whose patriotism is
impugned is a devil to be punished; and that there is no time to be
prying into irrevelant questions of his guilt or innocence.
Otherwise, I take it, you will never have any real democracy in
Now Jurgen looked very impressive, and the devils were all cheering
"And so," says Jurgen, "your disgusted hearers were wearied by such
frivolous interrogatories, and took the fellow out of your hands,
and tore him into particularly small bits. Now I warn you,
Grandfather Satan, that it is your duty as a democratic magistrate
just so to deal with such offenders first of all, and to ask your
silly questions afterward. For what does Rudigernus say outright
upon this point? and Zantipher Magnus, too? Why, my dear sir, I ask
you plainly, where in the entire history of international
jurisprudence will you find any more explicit language than these
"Now certainly," says Satan, with his bleak smile, "you cite very
respectable authority: and I shall take your reproof in good part. I
will endeavor to be more strict in the future. And you must not
blame my laxity too severely, Emperor Jurgen, for it is a long while
since any man came living into Hell to instruct us how to manage
matters in time of war. No doubt, precisely as you say, we do need a
little more severity hereabouts, and would gain by adopting more
human methods. Rudigernus, now?--yes, Rudigernus is rather
unanswerable, and I concede it frankly. So do you come home and have
supper with me, Emperor Jurgen, and we will talk over these things."
Then Jurgen went off arm in arm with Grandfather Satan, and Jurgen's
erudition and sturdy common-sense were forevermore established among
the older and more solid element in Hell. And Satan followed Jurgen's
suggestions, and the threatened rebellion was satisfactorily
discouraged, by tearing into very small fragments anybody who
grumbled about anything. So that all the subjects of Satan went
about smiling broadly all the time at the thought of what might
befall them if they seemed dejected. Thus was Hell a happier
looking place because of Jurgen's coming.
Of Compromises in Hell
Now Grandfather Satan's wife was called Phyllis: and apart from
having wings like a bat's, she was the loveliest little slip of
devilishness that Jurgen had seen in a long while. Jurgen spent this
night at the Black House of Barathum, and two more nights, or it
might be three nights: and the details of what Jurgen used to do
there, after supper, when he would walk alone in the Black House
Gardens, among the artfully colored cast-iron flowers and shrubbery,
and would so come to the grated windows of Phyllis's room, and would
stand there joking with her in the dark, are not requisite to this
Satan was very jealous of his wife, and kept one of her wings
clipped and held her under lock and key, as the treasure that she
was. But Jurgen was accustomed to say afterward that, while the
gratings over the windows were very formidable, they only seemed
somehow to enhance the piquancy of his commerce with Dame Phyllis.
This queen, said Jurgen, he had found simply unexcelled at repartee.
Florimel considered the saying cryptic: just what precisely did his
"Why, that in any and all circumstances Dame Phyllis knows how to
take a joke, and to return as good as she receives."
"So your majesty has already informed me: and certainly jokes can be
exchanged through a grating--"
"Yes, that was what I meant. And Dame Phyllis appeared to appreciate
my ready flow of humor. She informs me Grandfather Satan is of a
cold dry temperament, with very little humor in him, so that they go
for months without exchanging any pleasantries. Well, I am willing
to taste any drink once: and for the rest, remembering that my host
had very enormous and intimidating horns, I was at particular pains
to deal fairly with my hostess. Though, indeed, it was more for the
honor and the glory of the affair than anything else that I
exchanged pleasantries with Satan's wife. For to do that, my dear, I
felt was worthy of the Emperor Jurgen."
"Ah, I am afraid your majesty is a sad scapegrace," replied
Florimel: "however, we all know that the sceptre of an emperor is
"Indeed," says Jurgen, "I have often regretted that I did not bring
with me my jewelled sceptre when I left Noumaria."
She shivered at some unspoken thought: it was not until some while
afterward that Florimel told Jurgen of her humiliating misadventure
with the absent-minded Sultan of Garcao's sceptre. Now she only
replied that jewels might, conceivably, seem ostentatious and out of
Jurgen agreed to this truism: for of course they were living very
quietly, and Jurgen was splendid enough for any reasonable wife's
requirements, in his glittering shirt.
So Jurgen got on pleasantly with Florimel. But he never became as
fond of her as he had been of Guenevere or Anaitis, nor one-tenth as
fond of her as he had been of Chloris. In the first place, he
suspected that Florimel had been invented by his father, and Coth
and Jurgen had never any tastes in common: and in the second place,
Jurgen could not but see that Florimel thought a great deal of his
being an emperor.
"It is my title she loves, not me," reflected Jurgen, sadly, "and
her affection is less for that which is really integral to me than
for imperial orbs and sceptres and such-like external trappings."
And Jurgen would come out of Florimel's cleft considerably dejected,
and would sit alone by the Sea of Blood, and would meditate how
inequitable it was that the mere title of emperor should thus shut
him off from sincerity and candor.
"We who are called kings and emperors are men like other men: we are
as rightly entitled as other persons to the solace of true love and
affection: instead, we live in a continuous isolation, and women
offer us all things save their hearts, and we are a lonely folk.
No, I cannot believe that Florimel loves me for myself alone: it is
my title which dazzles her. And I would that I had never made myself
the emperor of Noumaria: for this emperor goes about everywhere
in a fabulous splendor, and is, very naturally, resistless in his
semi-mythical magnificence. Ah, but these imperial gewgaws distract
the thoughts of Florimel from the real Jurgen; so that the real
Jurgen is a person whom she does not understand at all. And it is
Then, too, he had a sort of prejudice against the way in which
Florimel spent her time in seducing and murdering young men. It was
not possible, of course, actually to blame the girl, since she was
the victim of circumstances, and had no choice about becoming a
vampire, once the cat had jumped over her coffin. Still, Jurgen
always felt, in his illogical masculine way, that her vocation was
not nice. And equally in the illogical way of men, did he persist in
coaxing Florimel to tell him of her vampiric transactions, in spite
of his underlying feeling that he would prefer to have his wife
engaged in some other trade: and the merry little creature would
humor him willingly enough, with her purple eyes a-sparkle, and with
her vivid lips curling prettily back, so as to show her tiny white
sharp teeth quite plainly.
She was really very pretty thus, as she told him of what happened
in Copenhagen when young Count Osmund went down into the blind
beggar-woman's cellar, and what they did with bits of him; and
of how one kind of serpent came to have a secret name, which,
when cried aloud in the night, with the appropriate ceremony, will
bring about delicious happenings; and of what one can do with small
unchristened children, if only they do not kiss you, with their
moist uncertain little mouths, for then this thing is impossible;
and of what use she had made of young Sir Ganelon's skull, when he
was through with it, and she with him; and of what the young priest
Wulfnoth had said to the crocodiles at the very last.
"Oh, yes, my life has its amusing side," said Florimel: "and one
likes to feel, of course, that one is not wholly out of touch with
things, and is even, in one's modest way, contributing to the
suppression of folly. But even so, your majesty, the calls that are
made upon one! the things that young men expect of you, as the price
of their bodily and spiritual ruin! and the things their relatives say
about you! and, above all, the constant strain, the irregular hours,
and the continual effort to live up to one's position! Oh, yes, your
majesty, I was far happier when I was a consumptive seamstress and took
pride in my buttonholes. But from a sister-in-law who only has you in
to tea occasionally as a matter of duty, and who is prominent in
churchwork, one may, of course, expect anything. And that reminds
me that I really must tell your majesty about what happened in the
hay-loft, just after the abbot had finished undressing--"
So she would chatter away, while Jurgen listened and smiled
indulgently. For she certainly was very pretty. And so they kept
house in Hell contentedly enough until Florimel's vacation was at an
end: and then they parted, without any tears but in perfect
And Jurgen always remembered Florimel most pleasantly, but not as a
wife with whom he had ever been on terms of actual intimacy.
Now when this lovely Vampire had quitted him, the Emperor Jurgen, in
spite of his general popularity and the deference accorded his
political views, was not quite happy in Hell.
"It is a comfort, at any rate," said Jurgen, "to discover who
originated the theory of democratic government. I have long wondered
who started the notion that the way to get a wise decision on any
conceivable question was to submit it to a popular vote. Now I know.
Well, and the devils may be right in their doctrines; certainly I
cannot go so far as to say they are wrong: but still, at the same
For instance, this interminable effort to make the universe safe for
democracy, this continual warring against Heaven because Heaven
clung to a tyrannical form of autocratic government, sounded both
logical and magnanimous, and was, of course, the only method of
insuring any general triumph for democracy: yet it seemed rather
futile to Jurgen, since, as he knew now, there was certainly
something in the Celestial system which made for military
efficiency, so that Heaven usually won. Moreover, Jurgen could not
get over the fact that Hell was just a notion of his ancestors with
which Koshchei had happened to fall in: for Jurgen had never much
patience with antiquated ideas, particularly when anyone put them
into practice, as Koshchei had done.
"Why, this place appears to me a glaring anachronism," said Jurgen,
brooding over the fires of Chorasma: "and its methods of tormenting
conscientious people I cannot but consider very crude indeed. The
devils are simple-minded and they mean well, as nobody would dream
of denying, but that is just it: for hereabouts is needed some more
pertinacious and efficiently disagreeable person--"
And that, of course, reminded him of Dame Lisa: and so it was the
thoughts of Jurgen turned again to doing the manly thing. And he
sighed, and went among the devils tentatively looking and inquiring
for that intrepid fiend who in the form of a black gentleman had
carried off Dame Lisa. But a queer happening befell, and it was that
nowhere could Jurgen find the black gentleman, nor did any of the
devils know anything about him.
"From what you tell us, Emperor Jurgen," said they all, "your wife
was an acidulous shrew, and the sort of woman who believes that
whatever she does is right."
"It was not a belief," says Jurgen: "it was a mania with the poor
"By that fact, then, she is forever debarred from entering Hell."
"You tell me news," says Jurgen, "which if generally known would
lead many husbands into vicious living."
"But it is notorious that people are saved by faith. And there is no
faith stronger than that of a bad-tempered woman in her own
infallibility. Plainly, this wife of yours is the sort of person who
cannot be tolerated by anybody short of the angels. We deduce that
your Empress must be in Heaven."
"Well, that sounds reasonable. And so to Heaven I will go, and it
may be that there I shall find justice."
"We would have you know," the fiends cried, bristling, "that in Hell
we have all kinds of justice, since our government is an enlightened
"Just so," says Jurgen: "in an enlightened democracy one has all
kinds of justice, and I would not dream of denying it. But you have
not, you conceive, that lesser plague, my wife; and it is she whom I
must continue to look for."
"Oh, as you like," said they, "so long as you do not criticize the
exigencies of war-time. But certainly we are sorry to see you going
into a country where the benighted people put up with an autocrat
Who was not duly elected to His position. And why need you continue
seeking your wife's society when it is so much pleasanter living in
And Jurgen shrugged. "One has to do the manly thing sometimes."
So the fiends told him the way to Heaven's frontiers, pitying him.
"But the crossing of the frontier must be your affair."
"I have a cantrap," said Jurgen; "and my stay in Hell has taught me
how to use it."
Then Jurgen followed his instructions, and went into Meridie, and
turned to the left when he had come to the great puddle where the
adders and toads are reared, and so passed through the mists of
Tartarus, with due care of the wild lightning, and took the second
turn to his left--"always in seeking Heaven be guided by your
heart," had been the advice given him by devils,--and thus avoiding
the abode of Jemra, he crossed the bridge over the Bottomless Pit
and the solitary Narakas. And Brachus, who kept the toll-gate on
this bridge, did that of which the fiends had forewarned Jurgen: but
for this, of course, there was no help.
The Ascension of Pope Jurgen
The tale tells how on the feast of the Annunciation Jurgen came to
the high white walls which girdle Heaven. For Jurgen's forefathers
had, of course, imagined that Hell stood directly contiguous to
Heaven, so that the blessed could augment their felicity by gazing
down upon the tortures of the damned. Now at this time a boy angel
was looking over the parapet of Heaven's wall.
"And a good day to you, my fine young fellow," says Jurgen. "But of
what are you thinking so intently?" For just as Dives had done long
years before, now Jurgen found that a man's voice carries perfectly
between Hell and Heaven.
"Sir," replies the boy, "I was pitying the poor damned."
"Why, then, you must be Origen," says Jurgen, laughing.
"No, sir, my name is Jurgen."
"Heyday!" says Jurgen: "well, but this Jurgen has been a great many
persons in my time. So very possibly you speak the truth."
"I am Jurgen, the son of Coth and Azra."
"Ah, ah! but so were all of them, my boy."
"Why, then, I am Jurgen, the grandson of Steinvor, and the
grandchild whom she loved above her other grandchildren: and so I
abide forever in Heaven with all the other illusions of Steinvor.
But who, messire, are you that go about Hell unscorched, in such a
fine looking shirt?"
Jurgen reflected. Clearly it would never do to give his real name,
and thus raise the question as to whether Jurgen was in Heaven or
Hell. Then he recollected the cantrap of the Master Philologist,
which Jurgen had twice employed incorrectly. And Jurgen cleared his
throat, for he believed that he now understood the proper use of
"Perhaps," says Jurgen, "I ought not to tell you who I am. But what
is life without confidence in one another? Besides, you appear a boy
of remarkable discretion. So I will confide in you that I am Pope
John the Twentieth, Heaven's regent upon Earth, now visiting this
place upon Celestial business which I am not at liberty to divulge
more particularly, for reasons that will at once occur to a young
man of your unusual cleverness."
"Oh, but I say! that is droll. Do you just wait a moment!" cried the
His bright face vanished, with a whisking of brown curls: and Jurgen
carefully re-read the cantrap of the Master Philologist. "Yes, I
have found, I think, the way to use such magic," observes Jurgen.
Presently the young angel re-appeared at the parapet. "I say, messire!
I looked on the Register--all popes are admitted here the moment they
die, without inquiring into their private affairs, you know, so as to
avoid any unfortunate scandal,--and we have twenty-three Pope Johns
listed. And sure enough, the mansion prepared for John the Twentieth
is vacant. He seems to be the only pope that is not in Heaven."
"Why, but of course not," says Jurgen, complacently, "inasmuch as
you see me, who was once Bishop of Rome and servant to the servants
of God, standing down here on this cinder-heap."
"Yes, but none of the others in your series appears to place you.
John the Nineteenth says he never heard of you, and not to bother
him in the middle of a harp lesson--"
"He died before my accession, naturally."
"--And John the Twenty-first says he thinks they lost count somehow,
and that there never was any Pope John the Twentieth. He says you
must be an impostor."
"Ah, professional jealousy!" sighed Jurgen: "dear me, this is very
sad, and gives one a poor opinion of human nature. Now, my boy, I
put it to you fairly, how could there have been a twenty-first
unless there had been a twentieth? And what becomes of the great
principle of papal infallibility when a pope admits to a mistake in
elementary arithmetic? Oh, but this is a very dangerous heresy, let
me tell you, an Inquisition matter, a consistory business! Yet,
luckily, upon his own contention, this Pedro Juliani--"
"And that was his name, too, for he told me! You evidently know all
about it, messire," said the young angel, visibly impressed.
"Of course, I know all about it. Well, I repeat, upon his own
contention this man is non-existent, and so, whatever he may say
amounts to nothing. For he tells you there was never any Pope John
the Twentieth: and either he is lying or he is telling you the
truth. If he is lying, you, of course, ought not to believe him:
yet, if he is telling you the truth, about there never having been
any Pope John the Twentieth, why then, quite plainly, there was
never any Pope John the Twenty-first, so that this man asserts his
own non-existence; and thus is talking nonsense, and you, of course,
ought not to believe in nonsense. Even did we grant his insane
contention that he is nobody, you are too well brought up, I am
sure, to dispute that nobody tells lies in Heaven: it follows that
in this case nobody is lying; and so, of course, I must be telling
the truth, and you have no choice save to believe me."
"Now, certainly that sounds all right," the younger Jurgen conceded:
"though you explain it so quickly it is a little difficult to follow
"Ah, but furthermore, and over and above this, and as a tangible
proof of the infallible particularity of every syllable of my
assertion," observes the elder Jurgen, "if you will look in the
garret of Heaven you will find the identical ladder upon which I
descended hither, and which I directed them to lay aside until I was
ready to come up again. Indeed, I was just about to ask you to fetch
it, inasmuch as my business here is satisfactorily concluded."
Well, the boy agreed that the word of no pope, whether in Hell or
Heaven, was tangible proof like a ladder: and again he was off.
Jurgen waited, in tolerable confidence.
It was a matter of logic. Jacob's Ladder must from all accounts have
been far too valuable to throw away after one night's use at Beth-El;
it would come in very handy on Judgment Day: and Jurgen's knowledge
of Lisa enabled him to deduce that anything which was being kept
because it would come in handy some day would inevitably be stored
in the garret, in any establishment imaginable by women. "And it is
notorious that Heaven is a delusion of old women. Why, the thing is
a certainty," said Jurgen; "simply a mathematical certainty."
And events proved his logic correct: for presently the younger
Jurgen came back with Jacob's Ladder, which was rather cobwebby and
obsolete looking after having been lain aside so long.
"So you see you were perfectly right," then said this younger
Jurgen, as he lowered Jacob's Ladder into Hell. "Oh, Messire John,
do hurry up and have it out with that old fellow who slandered you!"
Thus it came about that Jurgen clambered merrily from Hell to Heaven
upon a ladder of unalloyed, time-tested gold: and as he climbed the
shirt of Nessus glittered handsomely in the light which shone from
Heaven: and by this great light above him, as Jurgen mounted higher
and yet higher, the shadow of Jurgen was lengthened beyond belief
along the sheer white wall of Heaven, as though the shadow were
reluctant and adhered tenaciously to Hell. Yet presently Jurgen
leaped the ramparts: and then the shadow leaped too; and so his
shadow came with Jurgen into Heaven, and huddled dispiritedly at
"Well, well!" thinks Jurgen, "certainly there is no disputing the
magic of the Master Philologist when it is correctly employed. For
through its aid I am entering alive into Heaven, as only Enoch and
Elijah have done before me: and moreover, if this boy is to be
believed, one of the very handsomest of Heaven's many mansions
awaits my occupancy. One could not ask more of any magician fairly.
Aha, if only Lisa could see me now!"
That was his first thought. Afterward Jurgen tore up the cantrap and
scattered its fragments as the Master Philologist had directed. Then
Jurgen turned to the boy who aided Jurgen to get into Heaven.
"Come, youngster, and let us have a good look at you!"
And Jurgen talked with the boy that he had once been, and stood face
to face with all that Jurgen had been and was not any longer. And
this was the one happening which befell Jurgen that the writer of
the tale lacked heart to tell of.
So Jurgen quitted the boy that he had been. But first had Jurgen
learned that in this place his grandmother Steinvor (whom King Smoit
had loved) abode and was happy in her notion of Heaven; and that
about her were her notions of her children and of her grandchildren.
Steinvor had never imagined her husband in Heaven, nor King Smoit
"That is a circumstance," says Jurgen, "which heartens me to hope
one may find justice here. Yet I shall keep away from my
grandmother, the Steinvor whom I knew and loved, and who loved me so
blindly that this boy here is her notion of me. Yes, in mere
fairness to her, I must keep away."
So he avoided that part of Heaven wherein were his grandmother's
illusions: and this was counted for righteousness in Jurgen. That
part of Heaven smelt of mignonette, and a starling was singing
Of Compromises in Heaven
Jurgen then went unhindered to where the God of Jurgen's grandmother
sat upon a throne, beside a sea of crystal. A rainbow, made high
and narrow like a window frame, so as to fit the throne, formed an
arch-way in which He sat: at His feet burned seven lamps, and four
remarkable winged creatures sat there chaunting softly, "Glory and
honor and thanks to Him Who liveth forever!" In one hand of the God
was a sceptre, and in the other a large book with seven red spots on
There were twelve smaller thrones, without rainbows, upon each side
of the God of Jurgen's grandmother, in two semi-circles: upon these
inferior thrones sat benignant-looking elderly angels, with long
white hair, all crowned, and clothed in white robes, and having a
harp in one hand, and in the other a gold flask, about pint size.
And everywhere fluttered and glittered the multicolored wings of
seraphs and cherubs, like magnified paroquets, as they went softly
and gaily about the golden haze that brooded over Heaven, to a
continuous sound of hushed organ music and a remote and
Now the eyes of this God met the eyes of Jurgen: and Jurgen waited
thus for a long while, and far longer, indeed, than Jurgen
"I fear You," Jurgen said, at last: "and, yes, I love You: and yet I
cannot believe. Why could You not let me believe, where so many
believed? Or else, why could You not let me deride, as the remainder
derided so noisily? O God, why could You not let me have faith? for
You gave me no faith in anything, not even in nothingness. It was
And in the highest court of Heaven, and in plain view of all the
angels, Jurgen began to weep.
"I was not ever your God, Jurgen."
"Once very long ago," said Jurgen, "I had faith in You."
"No, for that boy is here with Me, as you yourself have seen. And
to-day there is nothing remaining of him anywhere in the man that is
"God of my grandmother! God Whom I too loved in boyhood!" said
Jurgen then: "why is it that I am denied a God? For I have searched:
and nowhere can I find justice, and nowhere can I find anything to
"What, Jurgen, and would you look for justice, of all places, in
"No," Jurgen said; "no, I perceive it cannot be considered here.
Else You would sit alone."
"And for the rest, you have looked to find your God without, not
looking within to see that which is truly worshipped in the thoughts
of Jurgen. Had you done so, you would have seen, as plainly as I now
see, that which alone you are able to worship. And your God is
maimed: the dust of your journeying is thick upon him; your vanity
is laid as a napkin upon his eyes; and in his heart is neither love
nor hate, not even for his only worshipper."
"Do not deride him, You Who have so many worshippers! At least, he
is a monstrous clever fellow," said Jurgen: and boldly he said it,
in the highest court of Heaven, and before the pensive face of the
God of Jurgen's grandmother.
"Ah, very probably. I do not meet with many clever people. And as
for My numerous worshippers, you forget how often you have
demonstrated that I was the delusion of an old woman."
"Well, and was there ever a flaw in my logic?"
"I was not listening to you, Jurgen. You must know that logic does
not much concern us, inasmuch as nothing is logical hereabouts."
And now the four winged creatures ceased their chaunting, and the
organ music became a far-off murmuring. And there was silence in
Heaven. And the God of Jurgen's grandmother, too, was silent for a
while, and the rainbow under which He sat put off its seven colors
and burned with an unendurable white, tinged bluishly, while the God
considered ancient things. Then in the silence this God began to
Some years ago (said the God of Jurgen's grandmother) it was
reported to Koshchei that scepticism was abroad in his universe, and
that one walked therein who would be contented with no rational
explanation. "Bring me this infidel," says Koshchei: so they brought
to him in the void a little bent gray woman in an old gray shawl.
"Now, tell me why you will not believe," says Koshchei, "in things
as they are."
Then the decent little bent gray woman answered civilly; "I do not
know, sir, who you may happen to be. But, since you ask me,
everybody knows that things as they are must be regarded as
temporary afflictions, and as trials through which we are
righteously condemned to pass, in order to attain to eternal life
with our loved ones in Heaven."
"Ah, yes," said Koshchei, who made things as they are; "ah, yes, to
be sure! and how did you learn of this?"
"Why, every Sunday morning the priest discoursed to us about Heaven,
and of how happy we would be there after death."
"Has this woman died, then?" asked Koshchei.
"Yes, sir," they told him,--"recently. And she will believe nothing
we explain to her, but demands to be taken to Heaven."
"Now, this is very vexing," Koshchei said, "and I cannot, of course,
put up with such scepticism. That would never do. So why do you not
convey her to this Heaven which she believes in, and thus put an end
to the matter?"
"But, sir," they told him, "there is no such place."
Then Koshchei reflected. "It is certainly strange that a place which
does not exist should be a matter of public knowledge in another
place. Where does this woman come from?"
"From Earth," they told him.
"Where is that?" he asked: and they explained to him as well as they
"Oh, yes, over that way," Koshchei interrupted. "I remember.
Now--but what is your name, woman who wish to go to Heaven?"
"Steinvor, sir: and if you please I am rather in a hurry to be with
my children again. You see, I have not seen any of them for a long
"But stay," said Koshchei: "what is that which comes into this
woman's eyes as she speaks of her children?" They told him it was
"Did I create this love?" says Koshchei, who made things as they
are. And they told him, no: and that there were many sorts of love,
but that this especial sort was an illusion which women had invented
for themselves, and which they exhibited in all dealings with their
children. And Koshchei sighed.
"Tell me about your children," Koshchei then said to Steinvor: "and
look at me as you talk, so that I may see your eyes."
So Steinvor talked of her children: and Koshchei, who made all
things, listened very attentively. Of Coth she told him, of her only
son, confessing Coth was the finest boy that ever lived,--"a little
wild, sir, at first, but then you know what boys are,"--and telling
of how well Coth had done in business and of how he had even risen
to be an alderman. Koshchei, who made all things, seemed properly
impressed. Then Steinvor talked of her daughters, of Imperia and
Lindamira and Christine: of Imperia's beauty, and of Lindamira's
bravery under the mishaps of an unlucky marriage, and of Christine's
superlative housekeeping. "Fine women, sir, every one of them, with
children of their own! and to me they still seem such babies, bless
them!" And the decent little bent gray woman laughed. "I have been
very lucky in my children, sir, and in my grandchildren, too," she
told Koshchei. "There is Jurgen, now, my Coth's boy! You may not
believe it, sir, but there is a story I must tell you about
Jurgen--" So she ran on very happily and proudly, while Koshchei,
who made all things, listened, and watched the eyes of Steinvor.
Then privately Koshchei asked, "Are these children and grandchildren
of Steinvor such as she reports?"
"No, sir," they told him privately.
So as Steinvor talked Koshchei devised illusions in accordance with
that which Steinvor said, and created such children and
grandchildren as she described. Male and female he created them
standing behind Steinvor, and all were beautiful and stainless: and
Koshchei gave life to these illusions.
Then Koshchei bade her turn about. She obeyed: and Koshchei was
Well, Koshchei sat there alone in the void, looking not very happy,
and looking puzzled, and drumming upon his knee, and staring at the
little bent gray woman, who was busied with her children and
grandchildren, and had forgotten all about him. "But surely,
Lindamira," he hears Steinvor say, "we are not yet in Heaven."--"Ah,
my dear mother," replies her illusion of Lindamira, "to be with you
again is Heaven: and besides, it may be that Heaven is like this,
after all."--"My darling child, it is sweet of you to say that, and
exactly like you to say that. But you know very well that Heaven is
fully described in the Book of Revelations, in the Bible, as the
glorious place that Heaven is. Whereas, as you can see for yourself,
around us is nothing at all, and no person at all except that very
civil gentleman to whom I was just talking; and who, between
ourselves, seems woefully uninformed about the most ordinary
"Bring Earth to me," says Koshchei. This was done, and Koshchei
looked over the planet, and found a Bible. Koshchei opened the
Bible, and read the Revelation of St. John the Divine, while
Steinvor talked with her illusions. "I see," said Koshchei. "The
idea is a little garish. Still--!" So he replaced the Bible, and
bade them put Earth, too, in its proper place, for Koshchei dislikes
wasting anything. Then Koshchei smiled and created Heaven about
Steinvor and her illusions, and he made Heaven just such a place as
was described in the book.
"And so, Jurgen, that was how it came about," ended the God of
Jurgen's grandmother. "And Me also Koshchei created at that time,
with the seraphim and the saints and all the blessed, very much as
you see us: and, of course, he caused us to have been here always,
since the beginning of time, because that, too, was in the book."
"But how could that be done?" says Jurgen, with brows puckering.
"And in what way could Koshchei juggle so with time?"
"How should I know, since I am but the illusion of an old woman, as
you have so frequently proved by logic? Let it suffice that whatever
Koshchei wills, not only happens, but has already happened beyond
the ancientest memory of man and his mother. How otherwise could he
"And all this," said Jurgen, virtuously, "for a woman who was not
even faithful to her husband!"
"Oh, very probably!" said the God: "at all events, it was done for a
woman who loved. Koshchei will do almost anything to humor love,
since love is one of the two things which are impossible to
"I have heard that pride is impossible to Koshchei--"
The God of Jurgen's grandmother raised His white eyebrows. "What is
pride? I do not think I ever heard of it before. Assuredly it is
something that does not enter here."
"But why is love impossible to Koshchei?"
"Because Koshchei made things as they are, and day and night he
contemplates things as they are. How, then, can Koshchei love
But Jurgen shook his sleek black head. "That I cannot understand at
all. If I were imprisoned in a cell wherein was nothing except my
verses I would not be happy, and certainly I would not be proud: but
even so, I would love my verses. I am afraid that I fall in more
readily with the ideas of Grandfather Satan than with Yours; and
without contradicting You, I cannot but wonder if what You reveal is
"And how should I know whether or not I speak the truth?" the God
asked of him, "since I am but the illusion of an old woman, as you
have so frequently proved by logic."
"Well, well!" said Jurgen, "You may be right in all matters, and
certainly I cannot presume to say You are wrong: but still, at the
same time--! No, even now I do not quite believe in You."
"Who could expect it of a clever fellow, who sees so clearly through
the illusions of old women?" the God asked, a little wearily.
And Jurgen answered:
"God of my grandmother, I cannot quite believe in You, and Your
doings as they are recorded I find incoherent and a little droll.
But I am glad the affair has been so arranged that You may always
now be real to brave and gentle persons who have believed in and
have worshipped and have loved You. To have disappointed them would
have been unfair: and it is right that before the faith they had in
You not even Koshchei who made things as they are was able to be
"God of my grandmother, I cannot quite believe in You; but
remembering the sum of love and faith that has been given You, I
tremble. I think of the dear people whose living was confident and
glad because of their faith in You: I think of them, and in my heart
contends a blind contrition, and a yearning, and an enviousness, and
yet a tender sort of amusement colors all. Oh, God, there was never
any other deity who had such dear worshippers as You have had, and
You should be very proud of them.
"God of my grandmother, I cannot quite believe in You, yet I am not
as those who would come peering at You reasonably. I, Jurgen, see
You only through a mist of tears. For You were loved by those whom I
loved greatly very long ago: and when I look at You it is Your
worshippers and the dear believers of old that I remember. And it
seems to me that dates and manuscripts and the opinions of learned
persons are very trifling things beside what I remember, and what I
"Who could have expected such a monstrous clever fellow ever to envy
the illusions of old women?" the God of Jurgen's grandmother asked
again: and yet His countenance was not unfriendly.
"Why, but," said Jurgen, on a sudden, "why, but my grandmother--in a
way--was right about Heaven and about You also. For certainly You
seem to exist, and to reign in just such estate as she described.
And yet, according to Your latest revelation, I too was right--in a
way--about these things being an old woman's delusions. I wonder
"Why, I wonder if everything is right, in a way? I wonder if that is
the large secret of everything? It would not be a bad solution,
sir," said Jurgen, meditatively.
The God smiled. Then suddenly that part of Heaven was vacant, except
for Jurgen, who stood there quite alone. And before him was the throne
of the vanished God and the sceptre of the God, and Jurgen saw that
the seven spots upon the great book were of red sealing-wax.
Jurgen was afraid: but he was particularly appalled by his
consciousness that he was not going to falter. "What, you who have
been duke and prince and king and emperor and pope! and do such
dignities content a Jurgen? Why, not at all," says Jurgen.
So Jurgen ascended the throne of Heaven, and sat beneath that
wondrous rainbow: and in his lap now was the book, and in his hand
was the sceptre, of the God of Jurgen's grandmother.
Jurgen sat thus, for a long while regarding the bright vacant courts
of Heaven. "And what will you do now?" says Jurgen, aloud. "Oh,
fretful little Jurgen, you that have complained because you had not
your desire, you are omnipotent over Earth and all the affairs of
men. What now is your desire?" And sitting thus terribly enthroned,
the heart of Jurgen was as lead within him, and he felt old and very
tired. "For I do not know. Oh, nothing can help me, for I do not
know what thing it is that I desire! And this book and this sceptre
and this throne avail me nothing at all, and nothing can ever avail
me: for I am Jurgen who seeks he knows not what."
So Jurgen shrugged, and climbed down from the throne of the God, and
wandering at adventure, came presently to four archangels. They were
seated upon a fleecy cloud, and they were eating milk and honey from
gold porringers: and of these radiant beings Jurgen inquired the
quickest way out of Heaven.
"For hereabouts are none of my illusions," said Jurgen, "and I must
now return to such illusions as are congenial. One must believe in
something. And all that I have seen in Heaven I have admired and
envied, but in none of these things could I believe, and with none
of these things could I be satisfied. And while I think of it, I
wonder now if any of you gentlemen can give me news of that Lisa who
used to be my wife?"
He described her; and they regarded him with compassion.
But these archangels, he found, had never heard of Lisa, and they
assured him there was no such person in Heaven. For Steinvor had
died when Jurgen was a boy, and so she had never seen Lisa; and in
consequence, had not thought about Lisa one way or the other, when
Steinvor outlined her notions to Koshchei who made things as they
Now Jurgen discovered, too, that, when his eyes first met the eyes
of the God of Jurgen's grandmother, Jurgen had stayed motionless for
thirty-seven days, forgetful of everything save that the God of his
grandmother was love.
"Nobody else has willingly turned away so soon," Zachariel told him:
"and we think that your insensibility is due to some evil virtue in
the glittering garment which you are wearing, and of which the like
was never seen in Heaven."
"I did but search for justice," Jurgen said: "and I could not find
it in the eyes of your God, but only love and such forgiveness as
"Because of that should you rejoice," the four archangels said; "and
so should all that lives rejoice: and more particularly should we
rejoice that dwell in Heaven, and hourly praise our Lord God's
negligence of justice, whereby we are permitted to enter into this
Twelve That are Fretted Hourly
So it was upon Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more
than likely to happen, that Jurgen went hastily out of Heaven,
without having gained or wasted any love there. St. Peter unbarred
for him, not the main entrance, but a small private door, carved
with innumerable fishes in bas-relief, because this exit opened
directly upon any place you chose to imagine.
"For thus," St. Peter said, "you may return without loss of time to
your own illusions."
"There was a cross," said Jurgen, "which I used to wear about my
neck, through motives of sentiment, because it once belonged to my
dead mother. For no woman has ever loved me save that Azra who was
"I wonder if your mother told you that?" St. Peter asked him,
smiling reminiscently. "Mine did, time and again. And sometimes I
have wondered--? For, as you may remember, I was a married man,
Jurgen: and my wife did not quite understand me," said St. Peter,
with a sigh.
"Why, indeed," says Jurgen, "my case is not entirely dissimilar: and
the more I marry, the less I find of comprehension. I should have
had more sympathy with King Smoit, who was certainly my grandfather.
Well, you conceive, St. Peter, these other women have trusted me,
more or less, because they loved a phantom Jurgen. But Azra trusted
me not at all, because she loved me with clear eyes. She
comprehended Jurgen, and yet loved him: though I for one, with all
my cleverness, cannot do either of these things. None the less, in
order to do the manly thing, in order to pleasure a woman,--and a
married woman, too!--I flung away the little gold cross which was
all that remained to me of my mother: and since then, St. Peter, the
illusions of sentiment have given me a woefully wide berth. So I
shall relinquish Heaven to seek a cross."
"That has been done before, Jurgen, and I doubt if much good came of
"Heyday, and did it not lead to the eternal glory of the first and
greatest of the popes? It seems to me, sir, that you have either
very little memory or very little gratitude, and I am tempted to
crow in your face."
"Why, now you talk like a cherub, Jurgen, and you ought to have
better manners. Do you suppose that we Apostles enjoy hearing jokes
made about the Church?"
"Well, it is true, St. Peter, that you founded the Church--"
"Now, there you go again! That is what those patronizing seraphim
and those impish cherubs are always telling us. You see, we Twelve
sit together in Heaven, each on his white throne: and we behold
everything that happens on Earth. Now from our station there has
been no ignoring the growth and doings of what you might loosely
call Christianity. And sometimes that which we see makes us very
uncomfortable, Jurgen. Especially as just then some cherub is sure
to flutter by, in a broad grin, and chuckle, 'But you started it.'
And we did; I cannot deny that in a way we did. Yet really we never
anticipated anything of this sort, and it is not fair to tease us
"Indeed, St. Peter, now I think of it, you ought to be held
responsible for very little that has been said or done in the shadow
of a steeple. For as I remember it, you Twelve attempted to convert
a world to the teachings of Jesus: and good intentions ought to be
respected, however drolly they may turn out."
It was apparent this sympathy was grateful to the old Saint, for he
was moved to a more confidential tone. Meditatively he stroked his
long white beard, then said with indignation: "If only they would
not claim sib with us we could stand it: but as it is, for centuries
we have felt like fools. It is particularly embarrassing for me, of
course, being on the wicket; for to cap it all, Jurgen, the little
wretches die, and come to Heaven impudent as sparrows, and expect me
to let them in! From their thumbscrewings, and their auto-da-fes,
and from their massacres, and patriotic sermons, and holy wars, and
from every manner of abomination, they come to me, smirking. And
millions upon millions of them, Jurgen! There is no form of cruelty
or folly that has not come to me for praise, and no sort of criminal
idiot who has not claimed fellowship with me, who was an Apostle and
a gentleman. Why, Jurgen, you may not believe it, but there was an
eminent bishop came to me only last week in the expectation that I
was going to admit him,--and I with the full record of his work for
temperance, all fairly written out and in my hand!"
Now Jurgen was surprised. "But temperance is surely a virtue, St.
"Ah, but his notion of temperance! and his filthy ravings to my
face, as though he were talking in some church or other! Why, the
slavering little blasphemer! to my face he spoke against the first
of my Master's miracles, and against the last injunction which was
laid upon us Twelve, spluttering that the wine was unfermented! To
me he said this, look you, Jurgen! to me, who drank of that noble
wine at Cana and equally of that sustaining wine we had in the
little upper room in Jerusalem when the hour of trial was near and
our Master would have us at our best! With me, who have since tasted
of that unimaginable wine which the Master promised us in His
kingdom, the busy wretch would be arguing! and would have convinced
me, in the face of all my memories, that my Master, Who was a Man
among men, was nourished by such thin swill as bred this niggling
brawling wretch to plague me!"
"Well, but indeed, St. Peter, there is no denying that wine is often
"So he informed me, Jurgen. And I told him by that argument he would
prohibit the making of bishops, for reasons he would find in the
mirror: and that, remembering what happened at the Crucifixion, he
would clap every lumber dealer into jail. So they took him away
still slavering," said St. Peter, wearily. "He was threatening to
have somebody else elected in my place when I last heard him: but
that was only old habit."
"I do not think, however, that I encountered any such bishop, sir,
"In the Hell of your fathers? Oh, no: your fathers meant well, but
their notions were limited. No, we have quite another eternal home
for these blasphemers, in a region that was fitted out long ago,
when the need grew pressing to provide a place for zealous
"And who devised this place, St. Peter?"
"As a very special favor, we Twelve to whom is imputed the beginning
and the patronizing of such abominations were permitted to design
and furnish this place. And, of course, we put it in charge of our
former confrere, Judas. He seemed the appropriate person. Equally of
course, we put a very special roof upon it, the best imitation which
we could contrive of the War Roof, so that none of those grinning
cherubs could see what long reward it was we Twelve who founded
Christianity had contrived for these blasphemers."
"Well, doubtless that was wise."
"Ah, and if we Twelve had our way there would be just such another
roof kept always over Earth. For the slavering madman has left a
many like him clamoring and spewing about the churches that were
named for us Twelve, and in the pulpits of the churches that were
named for us: and we find it embarrassing. It is the doctrine of
Mahound they splutter, and not any doctrine that we ever preached or
even heard of: and they ought to say so fairly, instead of libeling
us who were Apostles and gentlemen. But thus it is that the rascals
make free with our names: and the cherubs keep track of these
antics, and poke fun at us. So that it is not all pleasure, this
being a Holy Apostle in Heaven, Jurgen, though once we Twelve were
happy enough." And St. Peter sighed.
"One thing I did not understand, sir: and that was when you spoke
just now of the War Roof."
"It is a stone roof, made of the two tablets handed down at Sinai,
which God fits over Earth whenever men go to war. For He is
merciful: and many of us here remember that once upon a time we were
men and women. So when men go to war God screens the sight of what
they do, because He wishes to be merciful to us."
"That must prevent, however, the ascent of all prayers that are made
"Why, but, of course, that is the roof's secondary purpose," replied
St. Peter. "What else would you expect when the Master's teachings
are being flouted? Rumors get through, though, somehow, and horribly
preposterous rumors. For instance, I have actually heard that in
war-time prayers are put up to the Lord God to back His favorites
and take part in the murdering. Not," said the good Saint, in haste,
"that I would believe even a Christian bishop to be capable of such
blasphemy: I merely want to show you, Jurgen, what wild stories get
about. Still, I remember, back in Cappadocia--" And then St. Peter
slapped his thigh. "But would you keep me gossiping here forever,
Jurgen, with the Souls lining up at the main entrance like ants that
swarm to molasses! Come, out of Heaven with you, Jurgen! and back to
whatever place you imagine will restore to you your own proper
illusions! and let me be returning to my duties."
"Well, then, St. Peter, I imagine Amneran Heath, where I flung away
my mother's last gift to me."
"And Amneran Heath it is," said St. Peter, as he thrust Jurgen through
the small private door that was carved with fishes in bas-relief.
And Jurgen saw that the Saint spoke truthfully.
Postures before a Shadow
Thus Jurgen stood again upon Amneran Heath. And again it was
Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more than likely to
happen: and the low moon was bright, so that the shadow of Jurgen
was long and thin. And Jurgen searched for the gold cross that he
had worn through motives of sentiment, but he could not find it, nor
did he ever recover it: but barberry bushes and the thorns of
barberry bushes he found in great plenty as he searched vainly. All
the while that he searched, the shirt of Nessus glittered in the
moonlight, and the shadow of Jurgen streamed long and thin, and
every movement that was made by Jurgen the shadow parodied. And as
always, it was the shadow of a lean woman, with her head wrapped in
Now Jurgen regarded this shadow, and to Jurgen it was abhorrent.
"Oh, Mother Sereda," says he, "for a whole year your shadow has
dogged me. Many lands we have visited, and many sights we have seen:
and at the end all that we have done is a tale that is told: and it
is a tale that does not matter. So I stand where I stood at the
beginning of my foiled journeying. The gift you gave me has availed
me nothing: and I do not care whether I be young or old: and I have
lost all that remained to me of my mother and of my mother's love,
and I have betrayed my mother's pride in me, and I am weary."
Now a little whispering gathered upon the ground, as though dead
leaves were moving there: and the whispering augmented (because this
was upon Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more than
likely to happen), and the whispering became the ghost of a voice.
"You flattered me very cunningly, Jurgen, for you are a monstrous
clever fellow." This it was that the voice said drily.
"A number of people might say that with tolerable justice," Jurgen
declared: "and yet I guess who speaks. As for flattering you,
godmother, I was only joking that day in Glathion: in fact, I was
careful to explain as much, the moment I noticed your shadow seemed
interested in my idle remarks and was writing them all down in a
notebook. Oh, no, I can assure you I trafficked quite honestly, and
have dealt fairly everywhere. For the rest, I really am very clever:
it would be foolish of me to deny it."
"Vain fool!" said the voice of Mother Sereda.
Jurgen replied: "It may be that I am vain. But it is certain that I
am clever. And even more certain is the fact that I am weary. For,
look you, in the tinsel of my borrowed youth I have gone romancing
through the world; and into lands unvisited by other men have I
ventured, playing at spillikins with women and gear and with the
welfare of kingdoms; and into Hell have I fallen, and into Heaven
have I climbed, and into the place of the Lord God Himself have I
crept stealthily: and nowhere have I found what I desired. Nor do I
know what my desire is, even now. But I know that it is not possible
for me to become young again, whatever I may appear to others."
"Indeed, Jurgen, youth has passed out of your heart, beyond the
reach of Leshy: and the nearest you can come to regaining youth is
to behave childishly."
"O godmother, but do give rein to your better instincts and all that