Part 4 out of 18
eyed Gerard stolidly, but never uttered a syllable.
"Is this an inn?" asked Gerard, with a covert sneer.
The head seemed to fall into a brown study; eventually it nodded,
"Can I have entertainment here?"
Again the head pondered and ended by nodding, but sullenly, and
seemed a skull overburdened with catch-penny interrogatories.
"How am I to get within, an't please you?"
At this the head popped in, as if the last question had shot it;
and a hand popped out, pointed round the corner of the building,
and slammed the window.
Gerard followed the indication, and after some research discovered
that the fortification had one vulnerable part, a small low door
on its flank. As for the main entrance, that was used to keep out
thieves and customers, except once or twice in a year, when they
entered together, i.e., when some duke or count arrived in pomp
with his train of gaudy ruffians.
Gerard, having penetrated the outer fort, soon found his way to
the stove (as the public room was called from the principal
article in it), and sat down near the oven, in which were only a
few live embers that diffused a mild and grateful heat.
After waiting patiently a long time, he asked a grim old fellow
with a long white beard, who stalked solemnly in, and turned the
hour-glass, and then was stalking out, when supper would be. The
grisly Ganymede counted the guests on his fingers- "When I see
thrice as many here as now." Gerard groaned.
The grisly tyrant resented the rebellious sound. "Inns are not
built for one," said he; "if you can't wait for the rest, look out
for another lodging."
At this the greybeard frowned.
After a while company trickled steadily in, till full eighty
persons of various conditions were congregated, and to our novice
the place became a chamber of horrors; for here the mothers got
together and compared ringworms, and the men scraped the mud off
their shoes with their knives, and left it on the floor, and
combed their long hair out, inmates included, and made their
toilet, consisting generally of a dry rub. Water, however, was
brought in ewers. Gerard pounced on one of these, but at sight of
the liquid contents lost his temper and said to the waiter, "Wash
you first your water, and then a man may wash his hands withal."
"An' it likes you not, seek another inn!"
Gerard said nothing, but went quietly and courteously besought an
old traveller to tell him how far it was to the next inn.
"About four leagues."
Then Gerard appreciated the grim pleasantry of the unbending sire.
That worthy now returned with an armful of wood, and counting the
travellers, put on a log for every six, by which act of raw
justice the hotter the room the more heat he added. Poor Gerard
noticed this little flaw in the ancient man's logic, but carefully
suppressed every symptom of intelligence, lest his feet should
have to carry his brains four leagues farther that night.
When perspiration and suffocation were far advanced, they brought
in the table-cloths; but oh, so brown, so dirty, and so coarse;
they seemed like sacks that had been worn out in agriculture and
come down to this, or like shreads from the mainsail of some
worn-out ship. The Hollander, who had never seen such linen even
in nightmare, uttered a faint cry.
"what is to do?" inquired a traveller. Gerard pointed ruefully to
the dirty sackcloth. The other looked at it with lack lustre eye,
and comprehended nought.
A Burgundian soldier with his arbalest at his back came peeping
over Gerard's shoulder, and seeing what was amiss, laughed so loud
that the room rang again, then slapped him on the back and cried,
"Courage! le diable est mort."
Gerard stared: he doubted alike the good tidings and their
relevancy; but the tones were so hearty and the arbalestrier's
face, notwithstanding a formidable beard, was so gay and genial,
that he smiled, and after a pause said drily, "Il a bien faite
avec l'eau et linge du pays on allait le noircir a ne se
"Tiens, tiens!" cried the soldier, "v'la qui parle le Francais peu
s'en faut," and he seated himself by Gerard, and in a moment was
talking volubly of war, women, and pillage, interlarding his
discourse with curious oaths, at which Gerard drew away from him
more or less.
Presently in came the grisly servant, and counted them all on his
fingers superciliously, like Abraham telling sheep; then went out
again, and returned with a deal trencher and deal spoon to each.
Then there was an interval. Then he brought them a long mug apiece
made of glass, and frowned. By-and-by he stalked gloomily in with
a hunch of bread apiece, and exit with an injured air. Expectation
thus raised, the guests sat for nearly an hour balancing the
wooden spoons, and with their own knives whittling the bread.
Eventually, when hope was extinct, patience worn out, and hunger
exhausted, a huge vessel was brought in with pomp, the lid was
removed, a cloud of steam rolled forth, and behold some thin broth
with square pieces of bread floating. This, though not agreeable
to the mind, served to distend the body. Slices of Strasbourg ham
followed, and pieces of salt fish, both so highly salted that
Gerard could hardly swallow a mouthful. Then came a kind of gruel,
and when the repast had lasted an hour and more, some hashed meat
highly peppered and the French and Dutch being now full to the
brim with the above dainties, and the draughts of beer the salt
and spiced meats had provoked, in came roasted kids, most
excellent, and carp and trout fresh from the stream. Gerard made
an effort and looked angrily at them, but "could no more," as the
poets say. The Burgundian swore by the liver and pike-staff of the
good centurion, the natives had outwitted him. Then turning to
Gerard, he said, "Courage, l'ami, le diable est mort," as loudly
as before, but not with the same tone of conviction. The canny
natives had kept an internal corner for contingencies, and
polished the kid's very bones.
The feast ended with a dish of raw animalcula in a wicker cage. A
cheese had been surrounded with little twigs and strings; then a
hole made in it and a little sour wine poured in. This speedily
bred a small but numerous vermin. When the cheese was so rotten
with them that only the twigs and string kept it from tumbling to
pieces and walking off quadrivious, it came to table. By a
malicious caprice of fate, cage and menagerie were put down right
under the Dutchman's organ of self-torture. He recoiled with a
loud ejaculation, and hung to the bench by the calves of his legs.
"What is the matter?" said a traveller disdainfully. "Does the
good cheese scare ye? Then put it hither, in the name of all the
"Cheese!" cried Gerard, "I see none. These nauseous reptiles have
made away with every bit of it."
"Well," replied another, "it is not gone far. By eating of the
mites we eat the cheese to boot."
"Nay, not so," said Gerard. "These reptiles are made like us, and
digest their food and turn it to foul flesh even as we do ours to
sweet; as well might you think to chew grass by eating of
grass-fed beeves, as to eat cheese by swallowing these uncleanly
Gerard raised his voice in uttering this, and the company received
the paradox in dead silence, and with a distrustful air, like any
other stranger, during which the Burgundian, who understood German
but imperfectly, made Gerard Gallicize the discussion. He patted
his interpreter on the back. "C'est bien, mon gars; plus fin que
toi n'est pas bete," and administered his formula of
encouragement; and Gerard edged away from him; for next to ugly
sights and ill odours, the poor wretch disliked profaneness.
Meantime, though shaken in argument, the raw reptiles were duly
eaten and relished by the company, and served to provoke thirst, a
principal aim of all the solids in that part of Germany. So now
the company drank garausses all round, and their tongues were
unloosed, and oh, the Babel! But above the fierce clamour rose at
intervals, like some hero's war-cry in battle, the trumpet- like
voice of the Burgundian soldier shouting lustily, "Courage,
camarades, le diable est mort!"
Entered grisly Ganymede holding in his hand a wooden dish with
circles and semicircles marked on it in chalk. He put it down on
the table and stood silent, sad, and sombre, as Charon by Styx
waiting for his boat-load of souls. Then pouches and purses were
rummaged, and each threw a coin into the dish. Gerard timidly
observed that he had drunk next to no beer, and inquired how much
less he was to pay than the others.
"What mean you?" said Ganymede roughly. "Whose fault is it you
have not drunken? Are all to suffer because one chooses to be a
milksop? You will pay no more than the rest, and no less."
Gerard was abashed.
"Courage, petit, le diable est mort," hiccoughed the soldier and
flung Ganymede a coin.
"You are bad as he is," said the old man peevishly; "you are
paying too much;" and the tyrannical old Aristides returned him
some coin out of the trencher with a most reproachful countenance.
And now the man whom Gerard had confuted an hour and a half ago
awoke from a brown study, in which he had been ever since, and
came to him and said, "Yes, but the honey is none the worse for
passing through the bees' bellies."
Gerard stared. The answer had been so long on the road he hadn't
an idea what it was an answer to. Seeing him dumfounded, the other
concluded him confuted, and withdrew calmed.
The bedrooms were upstairs, dungeons with not a scrap of furniture
except the bed, and a male servant settled inexorably who should
sleep with whom. Neither money nor prayers would get a man a bed
to himself here; custom forbade it sternly. You might as well have
asked to monopolize a see-saw. They assigned to Gerard a man with
a great black beard. He was an honest fellow enough, but not
perfect; he would not go to bed, and would sit on the edge of it
telling the wretched Gerard by force, and at length, the events of
the day, and alternately laughing and crying at the same
circumstances, which were not in the smallest degree pathetic or
humorous, but only dead trivial. At last Gerard put his fingers in
his ears, and lying down in his clothes, for the sheets were too
dirty for him to undress, contrived to sleep. But in an hour or
two he awoke cold, and found that his drunken companion had got
all the feather bed; so mighty is instinct. They lay between two
beds; the lower one hard and made of straw, the upper soft and
filled with feathers light as down. Gerard pulled at it, but the
experienced drunkard held it fast mechanically. Gerard tried to
twitch it away by surprise, but instinct was too many for him. On
this he got out of bed, and kneeling down on his bedfellow's
unguarded side, easily whipped the prize away and rolled with it
under the bed, and there lay on one edge of it, and curled the
rest round his shoulders. Before he slept he often heard something
grumbling and growling above him, which was some little
satisfaction. Thus instinct was outwitted, and victorious Reason
lay chuckling on feathers, and not quite choked with dust.
At peep of day Gerard rose, flung the feather bed upon his snoring
companion, and went in search of milk and air.
A cheerful voice hailed him in French: "What ho! you are up with
the sun, comrade."
"He rises betimes that lies in a dog's lair," answered Gerard
"Courage, l'ami! le diable est mort," was the instant reply. The
soldier then told him his name was Denys, and he was passing from
Flushing in Zealand to the Duke's French dominions; a change the
more agreeable to him, as he should revisit his native place, and
a host of pretty girls who had wept at his departure, and should
hear French spoken again. "And who are you, and whither bound?"
"My name is Gerard, and I am going to Rome," said the more
reserved Hollander, and in a way that invited no further
"All the better; we will go together as far as Burgundy."
"That is not my road."
"All roads take to Rome."
"Ay, but the shortest road thither is my way."
"Well, then, it is I who must go out of my way a step for the sake
of good company, for thy face likes me, and thou speakest French,
"There go two words to that bargain," said Gerard coldly. "I steer
by proverbs, too. They do put old heads on young men's shoulders.
'Bon loup mauvais compagnon, dit le brebis;' and a soldier, they
say, is near akin to a wolf."
"They lie," said Denys; "besides, if he is, 'les loups ne se
mangent pas entre eux.'"
"Aye but, sir soldier, I am not a wolf; and thou knowest, a bien
petite occasion se saisit le loup du mouton.'"
"Let us drop wolves and sheep, being men; my meaning is, that a
good soldier never pillages-a comrade. Come, young man, too much
suspicion becomes not your years. They who travel should learn to
read faces; methinks you might see lealty in mine sith I have seen
it in yourn. Is it yon fat purse at your girdle you fear for?"
(Gerard turned pale.) "Look hither!" and he undid his belt, and
poured out of it a double handful of gold pieces, then returned
them to their hiding-place. "There is a hostage for you," said he;
"carry you that, and let us be comrades," and handed him his belt,
gold and all.
Gerard stared. "If I am over prudent, you have not enow." But he
flushed and looked pleased at the other's trust in him.
"Bah! I can read faces; and so must you, or you'll never take your
four bones safe to Rome."
"Soldier, you would find me a dull companion, for my heart is very
heavy," said Gerard, yielding.
"I'll cheer you, mon gars."
"I think you would," said Gerard sweetly; "and sore need have I of
a kindly voice in mine ear this day."
"Oh! no soul is sad alongside me. I lift up their poor little
hearts with my consigne: 'Courage, tout le monde, le diable est
mort.' Ha! ha!"
"So be it, then," said Gerard. "But take back your belt, for I
could never trust by halves. We will go together as far as Rhine,
and God go with us both!"
"Amen!" said Denys. and lifted his cap. "En avant!"
The pair trudged manfully on, and Denys enlivened the weary way.
He chattered about battles and sieges, and things which were new
to Gerard; and he was one of those who make little incidents
wherever they go. He passed nobody without addressing them. "They
don't understand it, but it wakes them up," said he. But whenever
they fell in with a monk or priest. he pulled a long face, and
sought the reverend father's blessing, and fearlessly poured out
on him floods of German words in such order as not to produce a
single German sentence - He doffed his cap to every woman, high or
low, he caught sight of, and with eagle eye discerned her best
feature, and complimented her on it in his native tongue, well
adapted to such matters; and at each carrion crow or magpie, down
came his crossbow, and he would go a furlong off the road to
circumvent it; and indeed he did shoot one old crow with laudable
neatness and despatch, and carried it to the nearest hen-roost,
and there slipped in and set it upon a nest. "The good-wife will
say, 'Alack, here is Beelzebub ahatching of my eggs.'"
"No, you forget he is dead," objected Gerard.
"So he is, so he is. But she doesn't know that, not having the
luck to be acquainted with me, who carry the good news from city
to city, uplifting men's hearts."
Such was Denys in time of peace.
Our travellers towards nightfall reached a village; it was a very
small one, but contained a place of entertainment. They searched
for it, and found a small house with barn and stables. In the
former was the everlasting stove, and the clothes drying round it
on lines, and a traveller or two sitting morose. Gerard asked for
"Supper? We have no time to cook for travellers; we only provide
lodging, good lodging for man and beast. You can have some beer."
"Madman, who, born in Holland, sought other lands!" snorted Gerard
in Dutch. The landlady started.
"What gibberish is that?" asked she, and crossed herself with
looks of superstitious alarm. "You can buy what you like in the
village, and cook it in our oven; but, prithee, mutter no charms
nor sorceries here, good man; don't ye now, it do make my flesh
They scoured the village for food, and ended by supping on roasted
eggs and brown bread.
At a very early hour their chambermaid came for them. It was a
rosy-cheeked old fellow with a lanthorn.
They followed him. He led them across a dirty farmyard, where they
had much ado to pick their steps. and brought them into a
cow-house. There, on each side of every cow, was laid a little
clean straw, and a tied bundle of ditto for a pillow. The old man
looked down on this his work with paternal pride. Not so Gerard.
"What, do you set Christian men to lie among cattle?"
"Well, it is hard upon the poor beasts. They have scarce room to
"Oh! what, it is not hard on us, then?"
"Where is the hardship? I have lain among them all my life. Look
at me! I am fourscore, and never had a headache in all my born
days - all along of lying among the kye. Bless your silly head,
kine's breath is ten times sweeter to drink nor Christians'. You
try it!" and he slammed the bedroom door.
"Denys, where are you?" whined Gerard.
"Here, on her other side."
"What are you doing?"
"I know not; but as near as I can guess, I think I must be going
to sleep. What are you at?
"I am saying my prayers."
"Forget me not in them!"
"Is it likely? Denys, I shall soon have done: do not go to sleep,
I want to talk.
"Despatch then! for I feel - augh like floating-in the sky on a
"Augh! eh! hallo! is it time to get up?"
"Alack, no. There, I hurried my orisons to talk; and look at you,
going to sleep! We shall be starved before morning, having no
"Well, you know what to do."
"Not I, in sooth."
"Cuddle the cow."
"Burrow in the straw, then. You must be very new to the world, to
grumble at this. How would you bear to lie on the field of battle
on a frosty night, as I did t'other day, stark naked, with nothing
to keep me warm but the carcass of a fellow I had been and helped
"Horrible! horrible! Tell me all about it! Oh, but this is sweet."
"Well, we had a little battle in Brabant, and won a little
victory, but it cost us dear; several arbalestriers turned their
toes up. and I among them."
"Killed, Denys? come now!"
"Dead as mutton. Stuck full of pike-holes till the blood ran out
of me, like the good wine of Macon from the trodden grapes. It is
right bounteous in me to pour the tale in minstrel phrase, for -
augh - I am sleepy. Augh - now where was I?"
"Left dead on the field of battle, bleeding like a pig; that is to
say, like grapes. or something; go on, prithee go on, 'tis a sin
to sleep in the midst of a good story."
"Granted. Well, some of those vagabonds, that strip the dead
soldier on the field of glory, came and took every rag off me;
they wrought me no further ill, because there was no need."
"No; you were dead."
"C'est convenu. This must have been at sundown; and with the night
came a shrewd frost that barkened the blood on my wounds, and
stopped all the rivulets that were running from my heart, and
about midnight I awoke as from a trance.'
"And thought you were in heaven?" asked Gerard eagerly, being a
youth inoculated with monkish tales.
"Too frost-bitten for that, mon gars; besides, I heard the wounded
groaning on all sides, so I knew I was in the old place. I saw I
could not live the night through without cover. I groped about
shivering and shivering; at last one did suddenly leave groaning.
'You are sped,' said I, so made up to him, and true enough he was
dead, but warm, you know. I took my lord in my arms, but was too
weak to carry him, so rolled with him into a ditch hard by; and
there my comrades found me in the morning properly stung with
nettles, and hugging a dead Fleming for the bare life."
Gerard shuddered. "And this is war; this is the chosen theme of
poets and troubadours, and Reden Ryckers. Truly was it said by the
men of old, dulce bellum inexpertis."
"I say-oh, what stout hearts some men have!"
"N'est-ce pas, p'tit? So after that sort - thing - this sort thing
is heaven. Soft - warm - good company, comradancow - cou'age
-diable - m-ornk!"
And the glib tongue was still for some hours.
In the morning Gerard was wakened by a liquid hitting his eye, and
it was Denys employing the cow's udder as a squirt.
"Oh, fie!" cried Gerard, "to waste the good milk;" and he took a
horn out of his wallet. "Fill this! but indeed I see not what
right we have to meddle with her milk at all."
"Make your mind easy! Last night la camarade was not nice; but
what then, true friendship dispenses with ceremony. To-day we make
as free with her."
"Why, what did she do, poor thing?"
"Ate my pillow."
"On waking I had to hunt for my head, and found it down in the
stable gutter. She ate our pillow from us, we drink our pillow
from her. A votre sante, madame; et sans rancune;" and the dog
drank her milk to her own health.
"The ancient was right though," said Gerard. "Never have I risen
so refreshed since I left my native land. Henceforth let us shun
great towns, and still lie in a convent or a cow-house; for I'd
liever sleep on fresh straw, than on linen well washed six months
agone; and the breath of kine it is sweeter than that of
Christians, let alone the garlic, which men and women folk affect,
but cowen abhor from, and so do I, St. Bavon be my witness!"
The soldier eyed him from head to foot: "Now but for that little
tuft on your chin I should take you for a girl; and by the
finger-nails of St. Luke, no ill-favoured one neither."
These three towns proved types and repeated themselves with slight
variations for many a weary league; but even when he could get
neither a convent nor a cow-house, Gerard learned in time to steel
himself to the inevitable. and to emulate his comrade, whom he
looked on as almost superhuman for hardihood of body and spirit.
There was, however, a balance to all this veneration.
Denys, like his predecessor Achilles, had his weak part, his very
weak part, thought Gerard.
His foible was "woman."
Whatever he was saying or doing, he stopped short at sight of a
farthingale, and his whole soul became occupied with that garment
and its inmate till they had disappeared; and some- times for a
good while after.
He often put Gerard to the blush by talking his amazing German to
such females as he caught standing or sitting indoors or out, at
which they stared; and when he met a peasant girl on the road, he
took off his cap to her and saluted her as if she was a queen; the
invariable effect of which was, that she suddenly drew herself up
quite stiff like a soldier on parade, and wore a forbidding
"They drive me to despair," said Denys. "Is that a just return to
a civil bonnetade? They are large, they are fair, but stupid as
"What breeding can you expect from women that wear no hose?"
inquired Gerard; "and some of them no shoon? They seem to me
reserved and modest, as becomes their sex, and sober, whereas the
men are little better than beer-barrels. Would you have them
brazen as well as hoseless?"
"A little affability adorns even beauty," sighed Denys.
"Then let these alone, sith they are not to your taste," retorted
Gerard. "What, is there no sweet face in Burgundy that would pale
to see you so wrapped up in strange women?"
"Half-a-dozen that would cry their eyes out."
"But it is a long way to Burgundy."
"Ay, to the foot, but not to the heart. I am there, sleeping and
waking, and almost every minute of the day."
"In Burgundy? Why, I thought you had never - "
"In Burgundy?" cried Gerard contemptuously. "No, in sweet
Sevenbergen. Ah! well-a-day! well-a-day!"
Many such dialogues as this passed between the pair on the long
and weary road, and neither could change the other.
One day about noon they reached a town of some pretensions, and
Gerard was glad, for he wanted to buy a pair of shoes; his own
were quite worn out. They soon found a shop that displayed a
goodly array, and made up to it, and would have entered it, but
the shopkeeper sat on the doorstep taking a nap, and was so fat as
to block up the narrow doorway; the very light could hardly
struggle past his "too, too solid flesh," much less a carnal
My fair readers, accustomed, when they go shopping, to be met half
way with nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles, and waved into a
seat, while almost at the same instant an eager shopman flings
himself half across the counter in a semi-circle to learn their
commands, can best appreciate this mediaeval Teuton, who kept a
shop as a dog keeps a kennel, and sat at the exclusion of custom
snoring like a pig.
Denys and Gerard stood and contemplated this curiosity; emblem,
permit me to remark, of the lets and hindrances to commerce that
characterized his epoch.
"Jump over him!"
"The door is too low."
"March through him!"
"The man is too thick."
"What is the coil?" inquired a mumbling voice from the interior;
apprentice with his mouth full.
"We want to get into your shop?"
"What for, in Heaven's name??!!!"
"Shoon, lazy bones!"
The ire of the apprentice began to rise at such an explanation.
"And could ye find no hour out of all the twelve to come pestering
us for shoon, but the one little, little hour my master takes his
nap, and I sit down to my dinner, when all the rest of the world
is full long ago?"
Denys heard, but could not follow the sense. "Waste no more time
talking their German gibberish," said he; "take out thy knife and
tickle his fat ribs."
"That I will not," said Gerard.
"Then here goes; I'll prong him with this."
Gerard seized the mad fellow's arm in dismay, for he had been long
enough in the country to guess that the whole town would take part
in any brawl with the native against a stranger. But Denys twisted
away from him, and the cross-bow bolt in his hand was actually on
the road to the sleeper's ribs; but at that very moment two
females crossed the road towards him; he saw the blissful vision,
and instantly forgot what he was about, and awaited their approach
with unreasonable joy.
Though companions, they were not equals, except in attractiveness
to a Burgundian crossbow man; for one was very tall, the other
short, and by one of those anomalies which society, however
primitive, speedily establishes, the long one held up the little
one's tail. The tall one wore a plain linen coif on her head, a
little grogram cloak over her shoulders, a grey kirtle, and a
short farthingale or petticoat of bright red cloth, and feet and
legs quite bare, though her arms were veiled in tight linen
The other a kirtle broadly trimmed with fur, her arms in double
sleeves, whereof the inner of yellow satin clung to the skin; the
outer, all befurred, were open at the inside of the elbow, and so
the arm passed through and left them dangling. Velvet head-dress,
huge purse at girdle, gorgeous train, bare legs. And thus they
came on, the citizen's wife strutting, and the maid gliding after,
holding her mistress's train devoutly in both hands, and bending
and winding her lithe body prettily enough to do it. Imagine (if
not pressed for time) a bantam, with a guineahen stepping
obsequious at its stately heel.
This pageant made straight for the shoemaker's shop. Denys louted
low; the worshipful lady nodded graciously, but rapidly, having
business on hand, or rather on foot; for in a moment she poked the
point of her little shoe into the sleeper, and worked it round in
him like a gimlet, till with a long snarl he woke. The incarnate
shutter rising and grumbling vaguely. the lady swept in and
deigned him no further notice. He retreated to his neighbour's
shop, the tailor's, and sitting on the step, protected it from the
impertinence of morning calls. Neighbours should be neighbourly.
Denys and Gerard followed the dignity into the shop, where sat the
apprentice at dinner; the maid stood outside with her insteps
crossed, leaning against the wall, and tapping it with her nails.
"Those, yonder," said the dignity briefly, pointing with an
imperious little white hand to some yellow shoes gilded at the
toe. While the apprentice stood stock still neutralized by his
dinner and his duty, Denys sprang at the shoes, and brought them
to her; she smiled, and calmly seating herself, protruded her
foot, shod, but hoseless, and scented. Down went Denys on his
knees, and drew off her shoe, and tried the new ones on the white
skin devoutly. Finding she had a willing victim, she abused the
opportunity, tried first one pair, then another, then the first
again, and so on, balancing and hesitating for about half an hour,
to Gerard's disgust, and Denys's weak delight. At last she was
fitted, and handed two pair of yellow and one pair of red shoes
out to her servant. Then was heard a sigh. It burst from the owner
of the shop: he had risen from slumber, and was now hovering
about, like a partridge near her brood in danger.
"There go all my coloured shoes," said he, as they disappeared in
the girl's apron.
The lady departed: Gerard fitted himself with a stout pair, asked
the price, paid it without a word, and gave his old ones to a
beggar in the street, who blessed him in the marketplace, and
threw them furiously down a well in the suburbs. The comrades left
the shop, and in it two melancholy men, that looked, and even
talked, as if they had been robbed wholesale.
"My shoon are sore worn," said Denys, grinding his teeth; "but
I'll go barefoot till I reach France, ere I'll leave my money with
such churls as these."
The Dutchman replied calmly, "They seem indifferent well sewn.
As they drew near the Rhine, they passed through forest after
forest, and now for the first time ugly words sounded in
travellers' mouths, seated around stoves. "Thieves!" "black
gangs!" "cut-throats!" etc.
The very rustics were said to have a custom hereabouts of
murdering the unwary traveller in these gloomy woods, whose dark
and devious winding enabled those who were familiar with them to
do deeds of rapine and blood undetected, or if detected, easily to
Certain it was, that every clown they met carried, whether for
offence or defence, a most formidable weapon; a light axe, with a
short pike at the head, and a long slender handle of ash or yew,
well seasoned. These the natives could all throw with singular
precision, so as to make the point strike an object at several
yard's distance, or could slay a bullock at hand with a stroke of
the blade. Gerard bought one and practised with it. Denys quietly
filed and ground his bolt sharp, whistling the whilst; and when
they entered a gloomy wood, he would unsling his crossbow and
carry it ready for action; but not so much like a traveller
fearing an attack, as a sportsman watchful not to miss a snap shot
One day, being in a forest a few leagues from Dusseldorf, as
Gerard was walking like one in a dream, thinking of Margaret, and
scarce seeing the road he trode, his companion laid a hand on his
shoulder, and strung his crossbow with glittering eye. "Hush!"
said he, in a low whisper that startled Gerard more than thunder.
Gerard grasped his axe tight, and shook a little: he heard a
rustling in the wood hard by, and at the same moment Denys sprang
into the wood, and his crossbow went to his shoulder, even as he
jumped. Twang! went the metal string; and after an instant's
suspense he roared, "Run forward, guard the road, he is hit! he is
Gerard darted forward, and as he ran a young bear burst out of the
wood right upon him; finding itself intercepted, it went upon its
hind legs with a snarl, and though not half grown, opened
formidable jaws and long claws. Gerard, in a fury of excitement
and agitation, flung himself on it, and delivered a tremendous
blow on its nose with his axe, and the creature staggered;
another, and it lay grovelling, with Gerard hacking it.
"Hallo! stop! you are mad to spoil the meat."
"I took it for a robber," said Gerard, panting. "I mean, I had
made ready for a robber, so I could not hold my hand."
"Ay, these chattering travellers have stuffed your head full of
thieves and assassins; they have not got a real live robber in
their whole nation. Nay, I'll carry the beast; bear thou my
"We will carry it by turns, then," said Gerard, "for 'tis a heavy
load: poor thing, how its blood drips. Why did we slay it?"
"For supper and the reward the baillie of the next town shall give
"And for that it must die, when it had but just begun to live; and
perchance it hath a mother that will miss it sore this night, and
loves it as ours love us; more than mine does me."
"What, know you not that his mother was caught in a pitfall last
month, and her skin is now at the tanner's? and his father was
stuck full of cloth-yard shafts t'other day, and died like Julius
Caesar, with his hands folded on his bosom, and a dead dog in each
But Gerard would not view it jestingly. "Why, then," said he, "we
have killed one of God's creatures that was all alone in the
world-as I am this day, in this strange land."
"You young milksop," roared Denys, "these things must not be
looked at so, or not another bow would be drawn nor quarrel fly in
forest nor battlefield. Why, one of your kidney consorting with a
troop of pikemen should turn them to a row of milk-pails; it is
ended, to Rome thou goest not alone, for never wouldst thou reach
the Alps in a whole skin. I take thee to Remiremont, my native
place, and there I marry thee to my young sister, she is blooming
as a peach. Thou shakest thy head? ah! I forgot; thou lovest
elsewhere, and art a one woman man, a creature to me scarce
conceivable. Well then I shall find thee, not a wife, nor a leman,
but a friend; some honest Burgundian who shall go with thee as far
as Lyons; and much I doubt that honest fellow will be myself, into
whose liquor thou has dropped sundry powders to make me love thee;
for erst I endured not doves in doublet and hose. From Lyons, I
say, I can trust thee by ship to Italy, which being by all
accounts the very stronghold of milksops, thou wilt there be safe:
they will hear thy words, and make thee their duke in a
Gerard sighed. "In sooth I love not to think of this Dusseldorf,
where we are to part company, good friend."
They walked silently, each thinking of the separation at hand; the
thought checked trifling conversation, and at these moments it is
a relief to do something, however insignificant. Gerard asked
Denys to lend him a bolt. "I have often shot with a long bow, but
never with one of these!"
"Draw thy knife and cut this one out of the cub," said Denys
"Nay, Day, I want a clean one."
Denys gave him three out of his quiver.
Gerard strung the bow, and levelled it at a bough that had fallen
into the road at some distance. The power of the instrument
surprised him; the short but thick steel bow jarred him to the
very heel as it went off, and the swift steel shaft was invisible
in its passage; only the dead leaves, with which November had
carpeted the narrow road, flew about on the other side of the
"Ye aimed a thought too high," said Denys.
"What a deadly thing! no wonder it is driving out the longbow - to
Martin's much discontent."
"Ay, lad," said Denys triumphantly, "it gains ground every day, in
spite of their laws and their proclamations to keep up the yewen
bow, because forsooth their grandsires shot with it, knowing no
better. You see, Gerard, war is not pastime. Men will shoot at
their enemies with the hittingest arm and the killingest, not with
the longest and missingest."
"Then these new engines I hear of will put both bows down; for
these with a pinch of black dust, and a leaden ball, and a child's
finger, shall slay you Mars and Goliath, and the Seven Champions."
"Pooh! pooh!" said Denys warmly; "petrone nor harquebuss shall
ever put down Sir Arbalest. Why, we can shoot ten times while they
are putting their charcoal and their lead into their leathern
smoke belchers, and then kindling their matches. All that is too
fumbling for the field of battle; there a soldier's weapon needs
be aye ready, like his heart."
Gerard did not answer, for his ear was attracted by a sound behind
them. It was a peculiar sound, too, like something heavy, but not
hard, rushing softly over the dead leaves. He turned round with
some little curiosity. A colossal creature was coming down the
road at about sixty paces' distance.
He looked at it in a sort of calm stupor at first, but the next
moment, he turned ashy pale.
"Denys!" he cried. "Oh, God! Denys!"
Denys whirled round.
It was a bear as big as a cart-horse.
It was tearing along with its huge head down, running on a hot
The very moment he saw it Denys said in a sickening whisper-
Oh! the concentrated horror of that one word, whispered hoarsely,
with dilating eyes! For in that syllable it all flashed upon them
both like a sudden stroke of lightning in the dark - the bloody
trail, the murdered cub, the mother upon them, and it. DEATH.
All this in a moment of time. The next, she saw them. Huge as she
was, she seemed to double herself (it was her long hair bristling
with rage): she raised her head big as a hull's, her swine-shaped
jaws opened wide at them, her eyes turned to blood and flame, and
she rushed upon them, scattering the leaves about her like a
whirlwind as she came.
"Shoot!" screamed Denys, but Gerard stood shaking from head to
"Shoot, man! ten thousand devils, shoot! too late! Tree! tree!"
and he dropped the cub, pushed Gerard across the road, and flew to
the first tree and climbed it, Gerard the same on his side; and as
they fled, both men uttered inhuman howls like savage creatures
grazed by death.
With all their speed one or other would have been torn to
fragments at the foot of his tree; but the bear stopped a moment
at the cub.
Without taking her bloodshot eyes off those she was hunting, she
smelt it all round, and found, how, her Creator only knows, that
it was dead, quite dead. She gave a yell such as neither of the
hunted ones had ever heard, nor dreamed to be in nature, and flew
after Denys. She reared and struck at him as he climbed. He was
just out of reach.
Instantly she seized the tree, and with her huge teeth tore a
great piece out of it with a crash. Then she reared again, dug her
claws deep into the bark, and began to mount it slowly, but as
surely as a monkey.
Denys's evil star had led him to a dead tree, a mere shaft, and of
no very great height. He climbed faster than his pursuer, and was
soon at the top. He looked this way and that for some bough of
another tree to spring to. There was none; and if he jumped down,
he knew the bear would be upon him ere he could recover the fall,
and make short work of him. Moreover, Denys was little used to
turning his back on danger, and his blood was rising at being
hunted. He turned to bay.
"My hour is come," thought he. "Let me meet death like a man." He
kneeled down and grasped a small shoot to steady himself, drew his
long knife, and clenching his teeth, prepared to jab the huge
brute as soon as it should mount within reach.
Of this combat the result was not doubtful.
The monster's head and neck were scarce vulnerable for bone and
masses of hair. The man was going to sting the bear, and the bear
to crack the man like a nut.
Gerard's heart was better than his nerves. He saw his friend's
mortal danger, and passed at once from fear to blindish rage. He
slipped down his tree in a moment, caught up the crossbow, which
he had dropped in the road, and running furiously up, sent a bolt
into the bear's body with a loud shout. The bear gave a snarl of
rage and pain, and turned its head irresolutely.
"Keep aloof!" cried Denys, "or you are a dead man."
"I care not;" and in a moment he had another bolt ready and shot
it fiercely into the bear, screaming, "Take that! take that!"
Denys poured a volley of oaths down at him. "Get away, idiot!"
He was right: the bear finding so formidable and noisy a foe
behind her, slipped growling down the tree, rending deep furrows
in it as she slipped. Gerard ran back to his tree and climbed it
swiftly. But while his legs were dangling some eight feet from the
ground, the bear came rearing and struck with her fore paw, and
out flew a piece of bloody cloth from Gerard's hose. He climbed,
and climbed; and presently he heard as it were in the air a voice
say, "Go out on the bough!" He looked, and there was a long
massive branch before him shooting upwards at a slight angle: he
threw his body across it, and by a series of convulsive efforts
worked up it to the end.
Then he looked round panting.
The bear was mounting the tree on the other side. He heard her
claws scrape, and saw her bulge on both sides of the massive tree.
Her eye not being very quick, she reached the fork and passed it,
mounting the main stem. Gerard drew breath more freely. The bear
either heard him, or found by scent she was wrong: she paused;
presently she caught sight of him. She eyed him steadily, then
quietly descended to the fork.
Slowly and cautiously she stretched out a paw and tried the bough.
It was a stiff oak branch, sound as iron. Instinct taught the
creature this: it crawled carefully out on the bough, growling
savagely as it came.
Gerard looked wildly down. He was forty feet from the ground.
Death below. Death moving slow but sure on him in a still more
horrible form. His hair bristled. The sweat poured from him. He
sat helpless, fascinated, tongue-tied.
As the fearful monster crawled growling towards him, incongruous
thoughts coursed through his mind. Margaret: the Vulgate, where it
speaks of the rage of a she-bear robbed of her whelps - Rome -
The bear crawled on. And now the stupor of death fell on the
doomed man; he saw the open jaws and bloodshot eyes coming, but in
As in a mist he heard a twang; he glanced down; Denys, white and
silent as death, was shooting up at the bear. The bear snarled at
the twang. but crawled on. Again the crossbow twanged, and the
bear snarled, and came nearer. Again the cross bow twanged; and
the next moment the bear was close upon Gerard, where he sat, with
hair standing stiff on end and eyes starting from their sockets,
palsied. The bear opened her jaws like a grave. and hot blood
spouted from them upon Gerard as from a pump. The bough rocked.
The wounded monster was reeling; it clung, it stuck its sickles of
claws deep into the wood; it toppled, its claws held firm, but its
body rolled off, and the sudden shock to the branch shook Gerard
forward on his stomach with his face upon one of the bear's
straining paws. At this, by a convulsive effort, she raised her
head up, up, till he felt her hot fetid breath. Then huge teeth
snapped together loudly close below him in the air, with a last
effort of baffled hate. The ponderous carcass rent the claws out
of the bough, then pounded the earth with a tremendous thump.
There was a shout of triumph below, and the very next instant a
cry of dismay, for Gerard had swooned, and without an attempt to
save himself, rolled headlong from the perilous height.
Denys caught at Gerard, and somewhat checked his fall; but it may
be doubted whether this alone would have saved him from breaking
his neck, or a limb. His best friend now was the dying bear, on
whose hairy carcass his head and shoulders descended. Denys tore
him off her. It was needless. She panted still, and her limbs
quivered, but a hare was not so harmless; and soon she breathed
her last; and the judicious Denys propped Gerard up against her,
being soft, and fanned him. He came to by degrees. but confused,
and feeling the bear around him, rolled away, yelling.
"Courage," cried Denys, "le diable est mort."
"Is it dead? quite dead?" inquired Gerard from behind a tree; for
his courage was feverish, and the cold fit was on him just now,
and had been for some time.
"Behold," said Denys, and pulled the brute's ear playfully, and
opened her jaws and put in his head, with other insulting antics;
in the midst of which Gerard was violently sick.
Denys laughed at him.
"What is the matter now?" said he, "also, why tumble off your
perch just when we had won the day?"
"I swooned, I trow."
Not receiving an answer, he continued, "Green girls faint as soon
as look at you, but then they choose time and place. What woman
ever fainted up a tree?"
"She sent her nasty blood all over me. I think the smell must have
overpowered me! Faugh! I hate blood."
"I do believe it potently."
"See what a mess she has made me
"But with her blood, not yours. I pity the enemy that strives to
"You need not to brag, Maitre Denys; I saw you under the tree, the
colour of your shirt."
"Let us distinguish," said Denys, colouring; "it is permitted to
tremble for a friend."
Gerard, for answer, flung his arms round Denys's neck in silence.
"Look here," whined the stout soldier, affected by this little
gush of nature and youth, "was ever aught so like a woman? I love
thee, little milksop - go to. Good! behold him on his knees now.
What new caprice is this?"
"Oh, Denys, ought we not to return thanks to Him who has saved
both our lives against such fearful odds?" And Gerard kneeled, and
prayed aloud. And presently he found Denys kneeling quiet beside
him, with his hands across his bosom after the custom of his
nation, and a face as long as his arm. When they rose, Gerard's
countenance was beaming.
"Good Denys," said he, "Heaven will reward thy piety."
"Ah, bah! I did it out of politeness," said the Frenchman. "It was
to please thee, little one. "C'est egal: 'twas well and orderly
prayed, and edified me to the core while it lasted. A bishop had
scarce handled the matter better; so now our evensong being sung,
and the saints enlisted with us - marchons."
Ere they had taken two steps, he stopped. "By-the-by, the cub!"
"Oh, no, no!" cried Gerard.
"You are right. It is late. We have lost time climbing trees, and
tumbling off 'em, and swooning, and vomiting, and praying; and the
brute is heavy to carry. And now I think on't, we shall have papa
after it next; these bears make such a coil about an odd cub. What
is this? you are wounded! you are wounded!"
"He is wounded; miserable that I am!"
"Be calm, Denys. I am not touched; I feel no pain anywhere."
"You? you only feel when another is hurt," cried Denys, with great
emotion; and throwing himself on his knees, he examined Gerard's
leg with glistening eyes.
"Quick! quick! before it stiffens," he cried, and hurried him on.
"Who makes the coil about nothing now?" inquired Gerard
Denys's reply was a very indirect one.
"Be pleased to note," said he, "that I have a bad heart. You were
man enough to save my life, yet I must sneer at you, a novice in
war. Was not I a novice once myself? Then you fainted from a
wound, and I thought you swooned for fear, and called you a
milksop. Briefly, I have a bad tongue and a bad heart."
"You are very good to say so, little one, and I am eternally
obliged to you," mumbled the remorseful Denys.
Ere they had walked many furlongs, the muscles of the wounded leg
contracted and stiffened, till presently Gerard could only just
put his toe to the ground, and that with great pain.
At last he could bear it no longer.
"Let me lie down and die," he groaned, "for this is intolerable."
Denys represented that it was afternoon, and the nights were now
frosty; and cold and hunger ill companions; and that it would be
unreasonable to lose heart, a certain great personage being
notoriously defunct. So Gerard leaned upon his axe, and hobbled
on; but presently he gave in, all of a sudden, and sank helpless
in the road.
Denys drew him aside into the wood, and to his surprise gave him
his crossbow and bolts, enjoining him strictly to lie quiet, and
if any ill-looking fellows should find him out and come to him, to
bid them keep aloof; and should they refuse, to shoot them dead at
twenty paces. "Honest men keep the path; and, knaves in a wood,
none but fools do parley with them." With this he snatched up
Gerard's axe, and set off running - not, as Gerard expected,
towards Dusseldorf, but on the road they had come.
Gerard lay aching and smarting; and to him Rome, that seemed so
near at starting, looked far, far off, now that he was two hundred
miles nearer it. But soon all his thoughts turned
Sevenbergen-wards. How sweet it would be one day to hold
Margaret's hand, and tell her all he had gone through for her! The
very thought of it, and her, soothed him; and in the midst of pain
and irritation of the nerves be lay resigned, and sweetly, though
He had lain thus more than two hours, when suddenly there were
shouts; and the next moment something struck a tree hard by, and
quivered in it.
He looked, it was an arrow.
He started to his feet. Several missiles rattled among the boughs,
and the wood echoed with battle-cries. Whence they came he could
not tell, for noises in these huge woods are so reverberated, that
a stranger is always at fault as to their whereabout; but they
seemed to fill the whole air. Presently there was a lull; then he
heard the fierce galloping of hoofs; and still louder shouts and
cries arose, mingled with shrieks and groans; and above all,
strange and terrible sounds, like fierce claps of thunder,
bellowing loud, and then dying off in cracking echoes; and red
tongues of flame shot out ever and anon among the trees, and
clouds of sulphurous smoke came drifting over his head. And all
Gerard was struck with awe. "What will become of Denys?" he cried.
"Oh, why did you leave me? Oh, Denys, my friend! my friend!"
Just before sunset Denys returned, almost sinking under a hairy
bundle. It was the bear's skin.
Gerard welcomed him with a burst of joy that astonished him.
"I thought never to see you again, dear Denys. Were you in the
"No. What battle?"
"The bloody battle of men, or fiends, that raged in the wood a
while agone;" and with this he described it to the life, and more
fully than I have done.
Denys patted him indulgently on the back.
"It is well," said he; "thou art a good limner; and fever is a
great spur to the imagination. One day I lay in a cart-shed with a
cracked skull, and saw two hosts manoeuvre and fight a good hour
on eight feet square, the which I did fairly describe to my
comrade in due order, only not so gorgeously as thou, for want of
"What, then, you believe me not? when I tell you the arrows
whizzed over my head, and the combatants shouted, and - "
"May the foul fiends fly away with me if I believe a word of it."
Gerard took his arm, and quietly pointed to a tree close by.
"Why, it looks like - it is-a broad arrow, as I live!" And he went
close, and looked up at it.
"It came out of the battle. I heard it, and saw it."
"An English arrow."
"How know you that?"
"Marry, by its length. The English bowmen draw the bow to the ear,
others only to the right breast. Hence the English loose a
three-foot shaft, and this is one of them, perdition seize them!
Well, if this is not glamour, there has been a trifle of a battle.
And if there has been a battle in so ridiculous a place for a
battle as this, why then 'tis no business of mine, for my Duke
hath no quarrel hereabouts. So let's to bed," said the
professional. And with this he scraped together a heap of leaves,
and made Gerard lie on it, his axe by his side. He then lay down
beside him, with one hand on his arbalest, and drew the bear-skin
over them, hair inward. They were soon as warm as toast, and fast
But long before the dawn Gerard woke his comrade.
"What shall I do, Denys, I die of famine?"
"Do? why. go to sleep again incontinent: qui dort dine."
"But I tell you I am too hungry to sleep," snapped Gerard.
"Let us march, then," replied Denys, with paternal indulgence.
He had a brief paroxysm of yawns; then made a small bundle of
bears' ears, rolling them up in a strip of the skin, cut for the
purpose; and they took the road.
Gerard leaned on his axe, and propped by Denys on the other side,
hobbled along, not without sighs.
"I hate pain." said Gerard viciously.
"Therein you show judgment," replied papa smoothly.
It was a clear starlight night; and soon the moon rising revealed
the end of the wood at no great distance: a pleasant sight, since
Dusseldorf they knew was but a short league further.
At the edge of the wood they came upon something so mysterious
that they stopped to gaze at it, before going up to it. Two white
pillars rose in the air, distant a few paces from each other; and
between them stood many figures, that looked like human forms.
"I go no farther till I know what this is," said Gerard, in an
agitated whisper. "Are they effigies of the saints, for men to
pray to on the road? or live robbers waiting to shoot down honest
travellers? Nay, living men they cannot be, for they stand on
nothing that I see. Oh! Denys, let us turn back till daybreak;
this is no mortal sight."
Denys halted, and peered long and keenly. "They are men," said he,
at last. Gerard was for turning back all the more. "But men that
will never hurt us, nor we them. Look not to their feet, for that
they stand on!"
"Where, then, i' the name of all the saints?"
"Look over their heads," said Denys gravely.
Following this direction, Gerard presently discerned the outline
of a dark wooden beam passing from pillar to pillar; and as the
pair got nearer, walking now on tiptoe, one by one dark snake-like
cords came out in the moonlight, each pendent from the beam to a
dead man, and tight as wire.
Now as they came under this awful monument of crime and wholesale
vengeance a light air swept by, and several of the corpses swung,
or gently gyrated. and every rope creaked. Gerard shuddered at
this ghastly salute. So thoroughly had the gibbet, with its
sickening load, seized and held their eyes, that it was but now
they perceived a fire right underneath, and a living figure
sitting huddled over it. His axe lay beside him, the bright blade
shining red in the glow. He was asleep.
Gerard started, but Denys only whispered, "courage, comrade, here
is a fire."
"Ay! but there is a man at it."
"There will soon be three;" and he began to heap some wood on it
that the watcher had prepared; during which the prudent Gerard
seized the man's axe, and sat down tight on it, grasping his own,
and examining the sleeper. There was nothing outwardly distinctive
in the man. He wore the dress of the country folk, and the hat of
the district, a three-cornered hat called a Brunswicker, stiff
enough to turn a sword cut, and with a thick brass hat-band. The
weight of the whole thing had turned his ears entirely down, like
a fancy rabbit's in our century; but even this, though it spoiled
him as a man, was nothing remarkable. They had of late met scores
of these dog's-eared rustics. The peculiarity was, this clown
watching under a laden gallows. What for?
Denys, if he felt curious, would not show it; he took out two
bears' ears from his bundle, and running sticks through them,
began to toast them. "'Twill be eating coined money," said he;
"for the burgomaster of Dusseldorf had given us a rix-dollar for
these ears, as proving the death of their owners; but better a
lean purse than a lere stomach."
"Unhappy man!" cried Gerard, "could you eat food here?"
"Where the fire is lighted there must the meat roast, and where it
roasts there must it be eaten; for nought travels worse than your
"Well, eat thou, Denys, an thou canst! but I am cold and sick;
there is no room for hunger in my heart after what mine eyes have
seen," and he shuddered over the fire. "Oh! how they creak! and
who is this man, I wonder? what an ill-favoured churl!"
Denys examined him like a connoisseur looking at a picture, and in
due course delivered judgment. "I take him to be of the refuse of
that company, whereof these (pointing carelessly upward) were the
cream, and so ran their heads into danger.
"At that rate, why not stun him before he wakes?" and Gerard
fidgeted where he sat.
Denys opened his eyes with humorous surprise. "For one who sets up
for a milksop you have the readiest hand. Why should two stun one?
tush! he wakes: note now what he says at waking, and tell me."
These last words were hardly whispered when the watcher opened his
eyes. At sight of the fire made up, and two strangers eyeing him
keenly, he stared, and there was a severe and pretty successful
effort to be calm; still a perceptible tremor ran all over him.
Soon he manned himself, and said gruffly. "Good morrow. But at the
very moment of saying it he missed his axe, and saw how Gerard was
sitting upon it, with his own laid ready to his hand. He lost
countenance again directly. Denys smiled grimly at this bit of
"Good morrow!" said Gerard quietly. keeping his eye on him.
The watcher was now too ill at ease to be silent. "You make free
with my fire," said he; but he added in a somewhat faltering
voice, "you are welcome."
Denys whispered Gerard. The watcher eyed them askant.
"My comrade says. sith we share your fire, you shall share his
"So be it," said the man warmly. "I have half a kid hanging on a
bush hard by, I'll go fetch it;" and he arose with a cheerful and
obliging countenance, and was retiring.
Denys caught up his crossbow, and levelled it at his head. The man
fell on his knees.
Denys lowered his weapon, and pointed him back to his place. He
rose and went back slowly and unsteadily, like one disjointed; and
sick at heart as the mouse, that the cat lets go a little way, and
then darts and replaces.
"Sit down, friend," said Denys grimly, in French.
The man obeyed finger and tone, though he knew not a word of
"Tell him the fire is not big enough for more than thee. He will
take my meaning."
This being communicated by Gerard, the man grinned; ever since
Denys spoke he had seemed greatly relieved. "I wist not ye were
strangers," said he to Gerard.
Denys cut a piece of bear's ear, and offered it with grace to him
he had just levelled crossbow at.
He took it calmly, and drew a piece of bread from his wallet, and
divided it with the pair. Nay, more, he winked and thrust his hand
into the heap of leaves he sat on (Gerard grasped his axe ready to
brain him) and produced a leathern bottle holding full two
gallons. He put it to his mouth, and drank their healths, then
handed it to Gerard; he passed it untouched to Denys.
"Mort de ma vie!" cried the soldier, "it is Rhenish wine, and fit
for the gullet of an archbishop. Here's to thee, thou prince of
good fellows, wishing thee a short life and a merry one! Come,
Gerard, sup! sup! Pshaw, never heed them, man! they heed not thee.
Natheless, did I hang over such a skin of Rhenish as this, and
three churls sat beneath a drinking it and offered me not a drop,
I'd soon be down among them."
"My spirit would cut the cord, and womp would come my body amongst
ye, with a hand on the bottle, and one eye winking, t'other."
Gerard started up with a cry of horror and his fingers to his
ears, and was running from the place, when his eye fell on the
watcher's axe. The tangible danger brought him back. He sat down
again on the axe with his fingers in his ears.
"Courage, l'ami, le diable est mort!" shouted Denys gaily, and
offered him a piece of bear's ear, put it right under his nose as
he stopped his ears. Gerard turned his head away with loathing.
"Wine!" he gasped. "Heaven knows I have much need of it, with such
companions as thee and - "
He took a long draught of the Rhenish wine: it ran glowing through
his veins, and warmed and strengthened his heart, but could not
check his tremors whenever a gust of wind came. As for Denys and
the other, they feasted recklessly, and plied the bottle
unceasingly, and drank healths and caroused beneath that creaking
sepulchre and its ghastly tenants.
"Ask him how they came here," said Denys, with his mouth full, and
pointing up without looking.
On this question being interpreted to the watcher, he replied that
treason had been their end, diabolical treason and priest- craft.
He then, being rendered communicative by drink, delivered a long
prosy narrative, the purport of which was as follows. These honest
gentlemen who now dangled here so miserably were all stout men and
true, and lived in the forest by their wits. Their independence
and thriving state excited the jealousy and hatred of a large
portion of mankind, and many attempts were made on their lives and
liberties; these the Virgin and their patron saints, coupled with
their individual skill and courage constantly baffled. But yester
eve a party of merchants came slowly on their mules from
Dusseldorf. The honest men saw them crawling, and let them
penetrate near a league into the forest, then set upon them to
make them disgorge a portion of their ill-gotten gains. But alas!
the merchants were no merchants at all, but soldiers of more than
one nation, in the pay of the Archbishop of Cologne; haubergeons
had they beneath their gowns, and weapons of all sorts at hand;
natheless, the honest men fought stoutly, and pressed the traitors
hard, when lo! horsemen, that had been planted in ambush many
hours before, galloped up, and with these new diabolical engines
of war, shot leaden bullets, and laid many an honest fellow low,
and so quelled the courage of others that they yielded them
prisoners. These being taken red-handed, the victors, who with
malice inconceivable had brought cords knotted round their waists,
did speedily hang, and by their side the dead ones, to make the
gallanter show. "That one at the end was the captain. He never
felt the cord. He was riddled with broad arrows and leaden balls
or ever they could take him: a worthy man as ever cried, 'Stand
and deliver!' but a little hasty, not much: stay! I forgot; he is
dead. Very hasty, and obstinate as a pig. That one in the -buff
jerkin is the lieutenant, as good a soul as ever lived: he was
hanged alive. This one here, I never could abide; no (not that
one; that is Conrad, my bosom friend); I mean this one right
overhead in the chicken-toed shoon; you were always carrying
tales, ye thief, and making mischief; you know you were; and,
sirs, I am a man that would rather live united in a coppice than
in a forest with backbiters and tale-bearers: strangers, I drink
to you." And so he went down the whole string, indicating with the
neck of the bottle, like a showman with his pole, and giving a
neat description of each, which though pithy was invariably false;
for the showman had no real eye for character, and had
misunderstood every one of these people.
"Enough palaver!" cried Denys. "Marchons! Give me his axe: now
tell him he must help you along."
The man's countenance fell, but he saw in Denys's eye that
resistance would be dangerous; he submitted. Gerard it was who
objected. He said, "Y pensez-vous? to put my hand on a thief, it
maketh my flesh creep."
"Childishness! all trades must live. Besides, I have my reasons.
Be not you wiser than your elder."
"No. Only if I am to lean on him I must have my hand in my bosom,
still grasping the haft of my knife."
"It is a new attitude to walk in; but please thyself."
And in that strange and mixed attitude of tender offices and
deadly suspicion the trio did walk. I wish I could draw them - I
would not trust to the pen.
The light of the watch-tower at Dusseldorf was visible as soon as
they cleared the wood, and cheered Gerard. When, after an hour's
march, the black outline of the tower itself and other buildings
stood out clear to the eye, their companion halted and said
gloomily, "You may as well slay me out of hand as take me any
nearer the gates of Dusseldorf town."
On this being communicated to Denys, he said at once, "Let him go
then, for in sooth his neck will be in jeopardy if he wends much
further with us." Gerard acquiesced as a matter of course. His
horror of a criminal did not in the least dispose him to active
co-operation with the law. But the fact is, that at this epoch no
private citizen in any part of Europe ever meddled with criminals
but in self-defence, except, by-the-by, in England, which, behind
other nations in some things, was centuries before them all in
The man's personal liberty being restored, he asked for his axe.
It was given him. To the friends' surprise he still lingered. Was
he to have nothing for coming so far out of his way with them?
"Here are two batzen, friend.
"Add the wine, the good Rhenish?"
"Did you give aught for it?"
"Ay! the peril of my life."
"Hum! what say you, Denys?"
"I say it was worth its weight in gold. Here, lad, here be silver
groshen, one for every acorn on that gallows tree; and here is one
more for thee, who wilt doubtless be there in due season."
The man took the coins, but still lingered.
"Well! what now?" cried Gerard, who thought him shamefully
overpaid already. "Dost seek the hide off our bones?"
"Nay, good sirs, but you have seen to-night how parlous a life is
mine. Ye be true men, and your prayers avail; give me then a small
trifle of a prayer, an't please you; for I know not one."
Gerard's choler began to rise at the egotistical rogue; moreover,
ever since his wound he had felt gusts of irritability. However,
he bit his lip and said, "There go two words to that bargain; tell
me first, is it true what men say of you Rhenish thieves, that ye
do murder innocent and unresisting travellers as well as rob
The other answered sulkily, "They you call thieves are not to
blame for that; the fault lies with the law."
"Gramercy! so 'tis the law's fault that ill men break it?"
"I mean not so; but the law in this land slays an honest man an if
he do but steal. What follows? he would be pitiful, but is
discouraged herefrom; pity gains him no pity, and doubles his
peril: an he but cut a purse his life is forfeit; therefore
cutteth he the throat to boot, to save his own neck: dead men tell
no tales. Pray then for the poor soul who by bloody laws is driven
to kill or else be slaughtered; were there less of this
unreasonable gibbeting on the highroad, there should be less
enforced cutting of throats in dark woods, my masters."
"Fewer words had served," replied Gerard coldly. "I asked a
question, I am answered," and suddenly doffing his bonnet -
"'Obsecro Deum omnipotentem, ut, qua cruce jam pendent isti
quindecim latrones fures et homicidae, in ea homicida fur et latro
tu pependeris quam citissime, pro publica salute, in honorem justi
Dei cui sit gloria, in aeternum, Amen.'"
"And so good day."
The greedy outlaw was satisfied last. "That is Latin," he
muttered, "and more than I bargained for." So indeed it was.
And he returned to his business with a mind at ease. The friends
pondered in silence the many events of the last few hours.
At last Gerard said thoughtfully, "That she-bear saved both our
lives-by God's will."
"Like enough," replied Denys; "and talking of that, it was lucky
we did not dawdle over our supper."
"What mean you?"
"I mean they are not all hanged; I saw a refuse of seven or eight
as black as ink around our fire."
"Ere we had left it five minutes."
"Good heavens! and you said not a word."
"It would but have worried you, and had set our friend a looking
back, and mayhap tempted him to get his skull split. All other
danger was over; they could not see us, we were out of the
moonshine, and indeed, just turning a corner. Ah! there is the
sun; and here are the gates of Dusseldorf. Courage, l'ami, le
diable est mort!"
"My head! my head!" was all poor Gerard could reply.
So many shocks, emotions, perils, horrors, added to the wound, his
first, had tried his youthful body and sensitive nature too
It was noon of the same day.
In a bedroom of "The Silver Lion" the rugged Denys sat anxious,
watching his young friend.
And he lay raging with fever, delirious at intervals, and one word
for ever on his lips.
"Margaret! - Margaret Margaret!"
It was the afternoon of the next day. Gerard was no longer
lightheaded, but very irritable and full of fancies; and in one of
these he begged Denys to get him a lemon to suck. Denys, who from
a rough soldier had been turned by tender friendship into a kind
of grandfather, got up hastily, and bidding him set his mind at
ease, "lemons he should have in the twinkling of a quart pot,"
went and ransacked the shops for them.
They were not so common in the North as they are now, and he was
absent a long while, and Gerard getting very impatient, when at
last the door opened. But it was not Denys. Entered softly an
imposing figure; an old gentleman in a long sober gown trimmed
with rich fur, cherry-coloured hose, and pointed shoes, with a
sword by his side in a morocco scabbard, a ruff round his neck not
only starched severely, but treacherously stiffened in furrows by
rebatoes, or a little hidden framework of wood; and on his head a
four-cornered cap with a fur border; on his chin and bosom a
majestic white beard. Gerard was in no doubt as to the vocation of
his visitor, for, the sword excepted, this was familiar to him as
the full dress of a physician. Moreover, a boy followed at his
heels with a basket, where phials, lint, and surgical tools rather
courted than shunned observation. The old gentleman came softly to
the bedside, and said mildly and sotto voce, "How is't with thee,
Gerard answered gratefully that his wound gave him little pain
now; but his throat was parched, and his head heavy.
"A wound! they told me not of that. Let me see it. Ay, ay, a good
clean bite. The mastiff had sound teeth that took this out, I
warrant me;" and the good doctor's sympathy seemed to run off to
the quadruped he had conjured, his jackal.
"This must be cauterized forthwith, or we shall have you starting
back from water, and turning somersaults in bed under our hands.
'Tis the year for raving curs, and one hath done your business;
but we will baffle him yet. Urchin, go heat thine iron."
"But, sir," edged in Gerard, "'twas no dog, but a bear."
"A bear! Young man," remonstrated the senior severely, "think what
you say; 'tis ill jesting with the man of art who brings his grey
hairs and long study to heal you. A bear, quotha! Had you
dissected as many bears as I, or the tithe, and drawn their teeth
to keep your hand in, you would know that no bear's jaw ever made
this foolish trifling wound. I tell you 'twas a dog, and since you
put me to it, I even deny that it was a dog of magnitude, but
neither more nor less than one of these little furious curs that
are so rife, and run devious, biting each manly leg, and laying
its wearer low, but for me and my learned brethren, who still stay
the mischief with knife and cautery."
"Alas, sir! when said I 'twas a bear's jaw? I said, 'A bear:' it
was his paw, now."
"And why didst not tell me that at once?"
"Because you kept telling me instead."
"Never conceal aught from your leech, young man," continued the
senior, who was a good talker, but one of the worst listeners in
Europe. "Well, it is an ill business. All the horny excrescences
of animals, to wit, claws of tigers, panthers, badgers, cats,
bears, and the like, and horn of deer, and nails of humans,
especially children, are imbued with direst poison. Y'had better
have been bitten by a cur, whatever you may say, than gored by
bull or stag, or scratched by bear. However, shalt have a good
biting cataplasm for thy leg; meantime keep we the body cool: put
out thy tongue!-good!-fever. Let me feel thy pulse: good! - fever.
I ordain flebotomy, and on the instant."
"Flebotomy! that is bloodletting: humph! Well, no matter, if 'tis
sure to cure me, for I will not lie idle here." The doctor let him
know that flebotomy was infallible, especially in this case.
"Hans, go fetch the things needful, and I will entertain the
patient meantime with reasons."
The man of art then explained to Gerard that in disease the blood
becomes hot and distempered and more or less poisonous; but a
portion of this unhealthy liquid removed, Nature is fain to create
a purer fluid to fill its place. Bleeding, therefore, being both a
cooler and a purifier, was a specific in all diseases, for all
diseases were febrile, whatever empirics might say.
"But think not," said he warmly, "that it suffices to bleed; any
paltry barber can open a vein (though not all can close it again).
The art is to know what vein to empty for what disease. T'other
day they brought me one tormented with earache. I let him blood in
the right thigh, and away flew his earache. By-the-by, he has died
since then. Another came with the toothache. I bled him behind the
ear, and relieved him in a jiffy. He is also since dead as it
happens. I bled our bailiff between the thumb and forefinger for
rheumatism. Presently he comes to me with a headache and drumming
in the ears, and holds out his hand over the basin; but I smiled
at his folly, and bled him in the left ankle sore against his
will, and made his head as light as a nut."
Diverging then from the immediate theme after the manner of
enthusiasts, the reverend teacher proceeded thus:
"Know, young man, that two schools of art contend at this moment
throughout Europe. The Arabian, whose ancient oracles are
Avicenna, Rhazes, Albucazis; and its revivers are Chauliac and
Lanfranc; and the Greek school, whose modern champions are
Bessarion, Platinus, and Marsilius Ficinus, but whose pristine
doctors were medicine's very oracles, Phoebus, Chiron,
Aesculapius, and his sons Podalinus and Machaon, Pythagoras,
Democritus, Praxagoras, who invented the arteries, and Dioctes,
'qui primus urinae animum dedit.' All these taught orally. Then
came Hippocrates, the eighteenth from Aesculapius, and of him we
have manuscripts; to him we owe 'the vital principle.' He also
invented the bandage, and tapped for water on the chest; and above
all he dissected; yet only quadrupeds, for the brutal prejudices
of the pagan vulgar withheld the human body from the knife of
science. Him followed Aristotle, who gave us the aorta, the
largest blood-vessel in the human body."
"Surely, sir, the Almighty gave us all that is in our bodies, and
not Aristotle, nor any Grecian man," objected Gerard humbly.
"Child! of course He gave us the thing; but Aristotle did more, he
gave us the name of the thing. But young men will still be
talking. The next great light was Galen; he studied at Alexandria,
then the home of science. He, justly malcontent with quadrupeds,
dissected apes, as coming nearer to man, and bled like a Trojan.
Then came Theophilus, who gave us the nerves, the lacteal vessels,
and the pia mater."
This worried Gerard. "I cannot lie still and hear it said that
mortal man bestowed the parts which Adam our father took from Him,
who made him of the clay, and us his sons."
"Was ever such perversity?" said the doctor, his colour rising.
"Who is the real donor of a thing to man? he who plants it
secretly in the dark recesses of man's body, or the learned wight
who reveals it to his intelligence, and so enriches his mind with
the knowledge of it? Comprehension is your only true possession.
Are you answered?"
"I am put to silence, sir."
"And that is better still; for garrulous patients are ill to cure,
especially in fever; I say, then, that Eristratus gave us the
cerebral nerves and the milk vessels; nay, more, he was the
inventor of lithotomy, whatever you may say. Then came another
whom I forget; you do somewhat perturb me with your petty
exceptions. Then came Ammonius, the author of lithotrity, and here
comes Hans with the basin-to stay your volubility. Blow thy
chafer, boy, and hand me the basin; 'tis well. Arabians, quotha!
What are they but a sect of yesterday who about the year 1000 did
fall in with the writings of those very Greeks, and read them
awry, having no concurrent light of their own? for their demigod,
and camel-driver, Mahound, impostor in science as in religion, had
strictly forbidden them anatomy, even of the lower animals, the
which he who severeth from medicine, 'tollit solem e mundo,' as
Tully quoth. Nay, wonder not at my fervour, good youth; where the
general weal stands in jeopardy, a little warmth is civic, humane,
and honourable. Now there is settled of late in this town a
pestilent Arabist, a mere empiric, who, despising anatomy, and
scarce knowing Greek from Hebrew, hath yet spirited away half my
patients; and I tremble for the rest. Put forth thine ankle; and
thou, Hans, breathe on the chafer."
Whilst matters were in this posture, in came Denys with the
lemons, and stood surprised. "What sport is toward?" said he,
raising his brows.
Gerard coloured a little, and told him the learned doctor was
going to flebotomize him and cauterize him; that was all.
"Ay! indeed; and yon imp, what bloweth he hot coals for?"
"What should it be for," said the doctor to Gerard, "but to
cauterize the vein when opened and the poisonous blood let free?
'Tis the only safe way. Avicenna indeed recommends a ligature of
the vein; but how 'tis to be done he saith not, nor knew he
himself I wot, nor any of the spawn of Ishmael. For me, I have no
faith in such tricksy expedients; and take this with you for a
safe principle: 'Whatever an Arab or Arabist says is right, must
"oh, I see now what 'tis for," said Denys; "and art thou so simple
as to let him put hot iron to thy living flesh? didst ever keep
thy little finger but ten moments in a candle? and this will be as
many minutes. Art not content to burn in purgatory after thy
death? must thou needs buy a foretaste on't here?"
"I never thought of that," said Gerard gravely; "the good doctor
spake not of burning, but of cautery; to be sure 'tis all one, but
cautery sounds not so fearful as burning."
"Imbecile! That is their art; to confound a plain man with dark
words, till his hissing flesh lets him know their meaning. Now
listen to what I have seen. When a soldier bleeds from a wound in
battle, these leeches say, 'Fever. Blood him!' and so they burn
the wick at t'other end too. They bleed the bled. Now at fever's
heels comes desperate weakness; then the man needs all his blood
to live; but these prickers and burners, having no forethought,
recking nought of what is sure to come in a few hours, and seeing
like brute beasts only what is under their noses, having meantime
robbed him of the very blood his hurt had spared him to battle
that weakness withal; and so he dies exhausted. Hundreds have I
seen so scratched and pricked out of the world, Gerard, and tall
fellows too; but lo! if they have the luck to be wounded where no
doctor can be had, then they live; this too have I seen. Had I
ever outlived that field in Brabant but for my most lucky
mischance, lack of chirurgery? The frost chocked all my bleeding
wounds, and so I lived. A chirurgeon had pricked yet one more hole
in this my body with his lance, and drained my last drop out, and
my spirit with it. Seeing them thus distraught in bleeding of the
bleeding soldier, I place no trust in them; for what slays a
veteran may well lay a milk-and-water bourgeois low."
"This sounds like common sense," sighed Gerard languidly, "but no
need to raise your voice so; I was not born deaf, and just now I
"Common sense! very common sense indeed," shouted the bad
listener; "why, this is a soldier; a brute whose business is to
kill men, not cure them." He added in very tolerable French, "Woe
be to you, unlearned man, if you come between a physician and his
patient; and woe be to you, misguided youth, if you listen to that
man of blood."
"Much obliged," said Denys, with mock politeness; "but I am a true
man, and would rob no man of his name. I do somewhat in the way of
blood, but not worth mention in this presence. For one I slay, you
slay a score; and for one spoonful of blood I draw, you spill a
tubful. The world is still gulled by shows. We soldiers vapour
with long swords, and even in war be-get two foes for every one we
kill; but you smooth gownsmen, with soft phrases and bare bodkins,
'tis you that thin mankind."
"A sick chamber is no place for jesting," cried the physician.
"No, doctor, nor for bawling," said the patient peevishly.
"Come, young man," said the senior kindly, "be reasonable.
Cuilibet in sua arte credendum est. My whole life has been given
to this art. I studied at Montpelier; the first school in France,
and by consequence in Europe. There learned I Dririmancy,
Scatomancy, Pathology, Therapeusis, and, greater than them all,
Anatomy. For there we disciples of Hippocrates and Galen had
opportunities those great ancients never knew. Goodbye, quadrupeds
and apes, and paganism, and Mohammedanism; we bought of the
churchwardens, we shook the gallows; we undid the sexton's work of
dark nights, penetrated with love of science and our kind; all the
authorities had their orders from Paris to wink; and they winked.
Gods of Olympus, how they winked! The gracious king assisted us:
he sent us twice a year a living criminal condemned to die, and
said, 'Deal ye with him as science asks; dissect him alive, if ye
"By the liver of Herod, and Nero's bowels, he'll make me blush for
the land that bore me, an' if he praises it any more," shouted
Denys at the top of his voice.
Gerard gave a little squawk, and put his fingers in his ears; but
speedily drew them out and shouted angrily, and as loudly, "you
great roaring, blaspheming bull of Basan, hold your noisy tongue!"
Denys summoned a contrite look.
"Tush, slight man," said the doctor, with calm contempt, and
vibrated a hand over him as in this age men make a pointer dog
down charge; then flowed majestic on. "We seldom or never
dissected the living criminal, except in part. We mostly
inoculated them with such diseases as the barren time afforded,
selecting of course the more interesting ones."
"That means the foulest," whispered Denys meekly.
"These we watched through all their stages to maturity."
"Meaning the death of the poor rogue," whispered Denys meekly.
"And now, my poor sufferer, who best merits your confidence, this
honest soldier with his youth, his ignorance, and his prejudices,
or a greybeard laden with the gathered wisdom of ages
"That is," cried Denys impatiently, "will you believe what a
jackdaw' in a long gown has heard from a starling in a long gown,
who heard it from a jay-pie, who heard it from a magpie, who heard
it from a popinjay; or will you believe what I, a man with nought
to gain by looking awry, nor speaking false, have seen; nor heard
with the ears which are given us to gull us, but seen with these
sentinels mine eye, seen, seen; to wit, that fevered and blooded
men die, that fevered men not blooded live? stay, who sent for
this sang-sue? Did you?"
"Not I. I thought you had."
"Nay," explained the doctor, "the good landlord told me one was
'down' in his house; so I said to myself, 'A stranger, and in need
of my art,' and came incontinently."
"It was the act of a good Christian, sir."
"of a good bloodhound," cried Denys contemptuously. "What, art
thou so green as not to know that all these landlords are in
league with certain of their fellow-citizens, who pay them toll on
each booty? Whatever you pay this ancient for stealing your life
blood, of that the landlord takes his third for betraying you to
him. Nay, more, as soon as ever your blood goes down the stair in
that basin there, the landlord will see it or smell it, and send
swiftly to his undertaker and get his third out of that job. For
if he waited till the doctor got downstairs, the doctor would be
beforehand and bespeak his undertaker, and then he would get the
black thirds. Say I sooth, old Rouge et Noir? dites!"
"Denys, Denys, who taught you to think so ill of man?"
"Mine eyes, that are not to be gulled by what men say, seeing this
many a year what they do, in all the lands I travel."
The doctor with some address made use of these last words to
escape the personal question. "I too have eyes as well as thou,
and go not by tradition only, but by what I have seen, and not
only seen, but done. I have healed as many men by bleeding as that
interloping Arabist has killed for want of it. 'Twas but t'other
day I healed one threatened with leprosy; I but bled him at the
tip of the nose. I cured last year a quartan ague: how? bled its
forefinger. Our cure lost his memory. I brought it him back on the
point of my lance; I bled him behind the ear. I bled a dolt of a
boy, and now he is the only one who can tell his right hand from
his left in a whole family of idiots. When the plague was here
years ago, no sham plague, such as empyrics proclaim every six
years or so, but the good honest Byzantine pest, I blooded an
alderman freely, and cauterized the symptomatic buboes, and so
pulled him out of the grave; whereas our then chirurgeon, a most
pernicious Arabist, caught it himself, and died of it, aha,
calling on Rhazes, Avicenna, and Mahound, who, could they have
come, had all perished as miserably as himself."
"Oh, my poor ears," sighed Gerard.
"And am I fallen so low that one of your presence and speech
rejects my art. and listens to a rude soldier, so far behind even
his own miserable trade as to bear an arbalest, a worn- out
invention, that German children shoot at pigeons with, but German
soldiers mock at since ever arquebusses came and put them down?"
"You foul-mouthed old charlatan," cried Denys, "the arbalest is
shouldered by taller men than ever stood in Rhenish hose, and even
now it kills as many more than your noisy, stinking arquebus, as
the lancet does than all our toys together. Go to! He was no fool
who first called you 'leeches.' Sang-sues! va!"
Gerard groaned. "By the holy virgin, I wish you were both at
"Thank you comrade. Then I'll bark no more, but at need I'll bite.
If he has a lance, I have a sword; if he bleeds you, I'll bleed
him. The moment his lance pricks your skin, little one, my
sword-hilt knocks against his ribs; I have said it."
And Denys turned pale, folded his arms, and looked gloomy and
Gerard sighed wearily. "Now, as all this is about me, give me
leave to say a word."
"Ay! let the young man choose life or death for himself."
Gerard then indirectly rebuked his noisy counsellors by contrast
and example. He spoke with unparalleled calmness, sweetness, and
gentleness. And these were the words of Gerard the son of Eli. "I
doubt not you both mean me well; but you assassinate me between
you. Calmness and quiet are everything to me; but you are like two
dogs growling over a bone. "And in sooth, bone I should be, did
this uproar last long."
There was a dead silence, broken only by the silvery voice of
Gerard, as he lay tranquil, and gazed calmly at the ceiling, and
trickled into words.
"First, venerable sir, I thank you for coming to see me, whether
from humanity, or in the way of honest gain; all trades must live.
"Your learning, reverend sir, seems great, to me at least, and for
your experience, your age voucheth it.
"You say you have bled many, and of these many, many have not died
thereafter, but lived, and done well. I must needs believe you."
The physician bowed; Denys grunted.
"Others, you say, you have bled, and-they are dead. I must needs
"Denys knows few things compared with you, but he knows them well.
He is a man not given to conjecture. This I myself have noted. He
says he has seen the fevered and blooded for the most part die;
the fevered and not blooded live. I must needs believe him.
"Here, then, all is doubt.
"But thus much is certain; if I be bled, I must pay you a fee, and