I am not of a nature to be long overwhelmed. All that night and far into 
the next day I lay upon Voewood, alternately sleeping and bewailing the 
chance which tossed me to and fro upon the restless ocean of time, and 
then I arose. I threw my arms round each in turn of those dear, callous 
ones in the chapel, and pushed back the brambles from them, and wept a 
little, and told myself the pleasure-store of life was now surely spent to the 
very last coin; then, with a mighty effort, tore myself away. Again and 
again, while the smooth swell of the grassy mound under which the 
foundations of the long-destroyed Saxon homestead with the little chapel 
by the rivulet were in sight, I turned and turned, loath and sad. But no 
sooner had the leafy screen hid them than I set off and ran whither I knew 
not, nor cared -- indeed, I was so terribly drawn by that spot -- so close in 
the meshes of its association, so thralled by the presence of the dust of all I 
had had to loss or live for, that I feared, if the best haste were not made, I


should neither haste nor fly from that terribly sweet hillock of 
lamentations forever.

What could it matter where my wandering feet were turned? All the world 
was void and vapid, east and west alike indifferent, to one so homeless; 
and thus I stalked on through glades and coppices for hours and days, with 
my chin upon my chest, and feeling marvelously cheap and lonely. But 
enough of this. never yet did I crave sympathy of any man; why should I 
seem to seek it of you -- skeptical and remote?

There were they who appeared at that time to take compassion on me 
unasked, and I remember the countrywomen at whose cottage doors I 
hesitated a moment -- yearning with pent-up affection over their curly-
headed little ones -- added to the draught of water I begged such food as 
their slender stores provided. One of these gave me a soiled green 
forester's cape and jerkin; another put shoes of leather Upon my feet; and 
a third robbed her husband's pegs to find me head-wear, and so through 
the gifts of their unspoken good-will I came by degrees into the raiment of 
the time.

But nothing seemed to hide the inexpressible strangeness I began to carry 
about with me. No sorry apparel, no woodman's cap drawn down over 
my brows, no rustic clogs upon my wandering feet, masked me for a 
moment from the awe and wonder of these good English people. None of 
them dared ask me a question, how I came or where I went, but 
everywhere it was the same. They had but to look upon me, and up they 
rose, and in silence, and drawn involuntarily by that stern history of mine 
they knew naught of, they ministered to me according to their means. The 
women dropped their courtesies, and -- unasked, unasking -- fed the grim 
and ragged stranger from their cleanest platter, the men stood by and 
uncapped them to my threadbare russet, and whole groups would watch 
spell-bound upon the village mounds as I paced moodily away.

In course of time my grief began to mend, so that it was presently possible 
to take a calmer view of the situation, and to bend my thoughts upon what 
it were best to do next. Though I love the greenwood, and am never so 
happy as when solitary, yet my nature was not made, alas! for sylvan 
idleness. I felt I had the greatest admiration and brotherhood with those 
who are recluse and shun the noisy struggles of the world; yet had I 
always been a leader of men, I now remembered, as all the pages of my 
past history came one by one before me, and I meditated upon them day 
and night. No; I was not made to walk these woods alone, and if another 


were wanting, it were found in the fact that I was here exposed to every 
weather, hungry and shelterless. I could not be forever begging from door 
to door, eternally throwing my awe-inspiring shadow across the lintels of 
these gentle-mannered woodland folk, and my tastes, though never 
gluttonous, rebelled most strongly against the perpetual dietary of herbs 
and roots and limpid brooks.

Reflecting on these things one day, as I lay friendless and ragged in the 
knotty elbow of a great oak's earth-bare roots, after some weeks of 
homeless wandering, I fell asleep, and dreamed all the fair shining 
landscape were a tented field, and all the rustling rushes down by the 
neighboring streamlet's banks were the serried spears of a great concourse 
of soldiers defiling by, the sparkle of the sunlight on the ripples seeming 
like the play of rays upon their many warlike trappings, the yellow flags 
and water-flowers making no poor likeness of dancing banners and 

'Twas a simple dream, such as came of an empty stomach and a full head, 
yet somehow I woke from that sleep with more of my old pulse of 
pleasure and life beating in my veins than had been there for a long time. 
And with the wish for another spell of bright existence spent in the merry 
soldier mood that suited me so well, came the means to attain it.

In the first stages of these wanderings, while still fresh from the cloister 
shrine, I had paid but the very smallest heed to my attire and its details. I 
was clad in clean, sufficient wraps, so much was certain, with a linen belt 
about me, and sandals upon my feet; yet even this was really more than I 
noticed with any closeness. But as I ran and walked, and my flesh grew hot 
and nervous with the fever of my sorrow, a constant chafing of my feet 
and hands annoyed me. I had stopped by a wood-side river bank, and 
there discovered with wrathful irritation that upon my bare apostolic toes 
and upon my sanctified thumbs -- those soldier thumbs still flat and strong 
with years of pressing sword-hilts and bridle-reins -- there were glistening 
in holy splendor such a set of gorgeous gems as had rarely been taken for 
a scramble through the woods before. 'There were beryls and sapphires 
and pearls, and ruddy great rubies from the caftans of Paynim chiefs slain 
by long-dead crusaders, and onyx and emerald from Cyprus and the 
remotest east set in rude red gold by the rough artificers of rearward ages, 
and all these put upon me, no doubt, after the manner in which at that 
time credulous piety was wont to bedeck the shrines and images of saints 
and martyrs. I was indeed at that moment the wealthiest beggar who ever 
sat forlorn


and friendless on a grassy lode. But what was all this glistening store to 
me, desolate and remorseful, with but one remembrance in my heart, with 
but one pitiful sight before my eyes? I pulled the shining gems angrily 
from my swollen  fingers and toes, and hurled them one by one, those 
princely toys, into the muddy margin of the stream, and there, in that rude 
setting, a-blazing, red, and green, and white, and hot, and cool, with their 
wonderful scintillations they mocked me. They mocked me as I sat there 
with my chin in my palms, and twinkled and shone among the sludge and 
scum so merrily to the flickering sunshine, that presently I laughed a little 
at those cheerful trinkets that could shine so bravely in the contumacy of 
chance, and after a time I picked one up and rinsed it and held it out in the 
sunshine, and found it very fair -- so fair, indeed, that a glimmer of listless 
avarice was kindled within me, and later on I broke a hawthorn spray and 
groped among the sedge and mire, and hooked out thus, in better mood, 
the greater part of my strange inheritance.

Then, here I was, upon this other bank, waking after my dream, and, 
turning over the better to watch the fair landscape stretching below, my 
waist-cloth came unbound, and out upon the sand amid the oak-roots 
rolled those ambient, glistening rings again.. At first I was surprised to see 
such jewels in such a place, staring in dull wonderment while I strove to 
imagine whence they came, but soon I remembered piece by piece their 
adventure as has been told to you, and now, with the warm blood in my 
veins again, I did not throw them by, but lay back against the oak and 
chuckled to myself as my ambitious heart fluttered with pleasure under 
my draughty rags, and crossed my legs, and weighed upon my finger-tips, 
and inventoried, and valued, all in the old merchant spirit, those friendly 

How unchanging are the passions of humanity! I tossed those radiant 
playthings up in the sunlight and caught them; I counted and recounted 
them; I tore shreds from my clothing and cleaned and polished each in 
turn; I started up angry and suspicious as a kite's wheeling shadow fell 
athwart my hoard. Forgotten was hunger and houselessness; I no longer 
mourned so keenly the emptiness of the world or the brevity of 
friendships -- I, to whom these treasures should have been so light, 
overlooked nearly all my griefs in them, and was as happy for the 
moment in this unexpected richness as a child.

And then, after an hour or so of cheerful avarice, I sat up sage and 
reflective, and, having swathed and wrapped my store safely next my 
heart, I must needs climb the first grassy knoll


showing above the woodlands and search the horizon for some place 
wherein a beginning might be made of spending it. Nothing was to be 
seen from thence but a goodly valley spread out at a distance, and there 
my steps were turned, for men, like streams, ever converge upon the 

Now that I had the heart to fall into  beaten tracks, coming out of the 
sheltering thicket by-ways for the first time since quitting the mounds over 
the ashes of Voewood, I observed more of the new people and times 
among whom fate had thus thrown me. And truly it was a very strange 
meeting with these folk, who were they whom I had known when last I 
walked these woods, and yet were not. I would stare at them in perplexity, 
marveling at the wondrous blend of nations I saw in face and hair and 
eyes. Their very clothes were novel to me, and unaccountable, while their 
speech seemed now the oddest union of many tongues -- all foreign, yet 
upon these English lips most truly native -- and wondrous to listen to. I 
would pass a sturdy yokel leading out his teams to plowing, and when I 
spoke to him it made my ears tingle to hear how antique Roman went 
hand in hand with ancient British, and good Norman was linked upon his 
lips with better Saxon. That polyglot youth, knowing no tongue but one, 
was most scholarly in his ignorance. To him 'twas English that he spoke; 
but to me, who had lived through the making of that noble speech, who 
knew each separate individual quantity that made that admirable whole, 
his jargon was most wonderful.

Nor was I yet fully reconciled to the unity of these new people and their 
mutual kinsmanship. I could not remember all feuds were ended. when 
down the path would come a more than usually dusky wayfarer -- a 
trooper, perhaps, with leather jerkin, shield on back, and sword by side -- I 
would note his swart complexion and dark black hair, and then 'twas " Ho! 
ho! a Norman villain straying from his band." And back I would step 
among the shadows, and, gripping the staff that was my only weapon, 
scowl on him while he whistled by, half mindful, in my forgetfulness, to 
help the Saxon cause by rapping the fellow over his head. On the other 
hand, if one chanced upon me who had the flaxen hair and pleasant eyes of 
those who once were called my comrades -- if he wore the rustic waistless 
smock, as many did still, of hind or churl -- why, then, I was mighty glad to 
see that Saxon, and crossed over, friendly, to his pathway, bespeaking him 
in the pure tongue of his forefathers, asked him of garth and homestead 
and how fared his thane and beretoga -- all of which, it grieved me 
afterward to notice, perplexed him greatly.


Not only in these ways was there much for me to learn. but, with speech 
and fashions, modes and means of life had changed. At one time I met a 
strange piebald creathre, all tags and tassels, white and red with a hundred 
little bells upon him, a cap with peaks hanging dowh like asses' ears, and a 
staff, with more bells, tucked away under his arm. He was plodding along 
dejected, so I called to him civilly.

"Why, friend, who are you?"

"I am a fool, sir!"

"Never mind," I replied, cheerfully, "there is the less likelihood of your ever 
treading this earth companionless."

"Why, that is true enough," he said, "for it was too much wisdom that sent 
me thus solitary afield;" and he went on to tell me how he had been ejected 
that morning from a neighboring castle. "I had belanded and admired my 
master for years; therein I had many friends, yet was a fool. Yesterday we 
quarreled about some trifle; I called him beast and tyrant, and therein, 
being just and truthful, I lost my place and comrades over the first wise 
thing I said for years. It is a most sorry, disorderly world." (The Phoenician 
must have failed to recognize in the new finery of the time the latest 
representative of a brotherhood that had long existed.)

This strange individual, it seemed, lived by folly, and, though I had often 
noticed that wit was not a fat profession, I could not help regarding him 
with wonder. He was, under his veneer of shallowness, a most gentle and 
observant jester. Long study in the arts of pleasing had given him a very 
delicate discrimination of moods and men. He could fit a merriment to the 
capacity of any man's mind with extraordinary acumen. He had stores of 
ill-assorted learning in the empty galleries of his head, and wherewithal a 
kindly, gentle heart, a whimsical companionship for sad-eyed humanity 
which made him haste to laugh at everything through fear of crying over 
it. We were companions before we had gone a mile, and many were the 
things I learned of him. When our way parted I pressed one of my rings 
into his hand. "Good-bye, fool," I said.

"Good-bye, friend," he called; "you are the first wise man with whom I ever 
felt akin;" and, indeed, as his poor buffoon's coat went shining up the path, 
I felt bereft and lonely again for a spell.

Then I found another craftsman of this curious time. A little way further 
on, near by to a lordly house standing in


wide stretches of meadow and park lands, a most plaintive sound came 
from a thicket lying open to the sun. Such a dismal moaning enlisted my 
compassion, for here, I thought, is some luckless wight just dying, or, at 
least, in bitterest extremity of sorrow; so I approached, stepping lightly 
round the blossoming thicket, peering this way and that, and now down 
on my hands and knees to look under the bushes, and now on tiptoe, 
craning my neck that I might see over, and so, presently, I found the 
source of the sighs and moans. It was a young man of most dainty 
proportions, with soft, fine combed hair upon his pretty sloping shoulders, 
his sleeves so long they trailed upon the moss, his shoes laced with golden 
threads, and toed and tasseled in monstrous fashion. A most delicate 
perfume came from him; his clothes were greener than grass in spring-
time, turned back, and puffed with damask. In his hand he had a scroll 
whereon now and again he looked, and groaned in most plaintive sort.

"Why, man," I asked, "what ails you? Why that dreadful moaning? What 
are you, and what is yon scroll?" So absorbed was he, however, it was only 
when I had walked all round him to spy the wound, if it might be, that he 
suffered from, and finally stood directly in his sunshine, repeating the 
question, that he looked up.

"Interrupter of inspiration! Hast thou asked what I am, and what this is?"

"Yes; and more than once."

"Fy! not to see! I am a minstrel -- a bard; my lord's favorite poet up at 
yonder castle, and this is an ode to his mistress's eyebrows. I was in travail 
of a rhyme when thy black shadow fell upon the page."

"Give me the leaf. why, it is the sickliest stuff that ever did dishonor to 
virgin paper! There, take it back," I said, angry to find so many fools 
abroad, "and listen to me. You may be a poet, for I have no experience of 
them, but as I am a man thou art not a bard! You a bard? You the likeness 
and descendant of Howell ap Griffith and an hundred other Saxon 
gleemen? You one of the guild of Gryffith ap Conan -- you a scop or a 
skald? Why, boy, they could write better stuff than thou canst though they 
had been drunk for half a day. You a stirrer of passions -- you a minstrel -- 
you a tightener of the strong sinews of warrior hearts -- fy! for shame 
upon your silly trivial sonnets, your particolored suits and sweet insipid 
vaporings! Out, I say! Get home to thy lady's footstool, or, by Thor and 
Odin! I will give thee a beating out of pure respect for noble rhyming!"


The poet did not wait to argue. I was angry and rough, and the rudest-clad 
champion that ever swung a flail in the cause of the Muses. So he took to 
his heels, and as I watched that pretty butterfly aiming across the sunny 
meadows for his master's portals, and Stopping not for hedge or ditch, "By 
Hoth!" I said, laughing scornfully, "we might have been friends if he could 
but have writ as well as he can run."

Then I went on again, and had not gone far when down the road there 
came ambling on a mule a crafty-looking churchman, with big wallets 
hanging at his saddle-bows, a portentous rosary round his neck, and bare 
unwashed feet hanging stirrupless by his palfrey's side.

"Now here's another tradesman," I muttered to myself, "of this most 
perplexing age. Heaven grant his wares are superior to the last ones! 
Good-morning, father."

"Good-morning, son. Art going into the town to take up arms for Christ 
and His servant Edward?"

"Yes," I answered, "I am bound to the town, but I have not yet chosen a 

"Then you are all the more sure to go to the fighting, for every one just 
now who has no other calling is apprentice to arms."

"It will not be the first time I have taken that honorable indenture,"

"No, I guess not," said the shrewd friar, eying me under his pent-house 
eyebrows, "for thou art a stout and wiry-looking fellow, and may I never 
read anything better than my breviary again if I can not construe in your 
face a good and varied knowledge of camps and cities. But there was 
something else I had to say to you. ("Here comes the point of the 
narrative," I thought to myself.) "Now, so trim a soldier as you, and one 
wherewithal so reflective, would surely not willingly go where hostile 
swords are waving and cruel French spears are thicker than yonder tall-
bladed grass, unshriven -- with all thy sins upon thy back?"

"Why, then, monk, I must stay at home. Is that what you would say?"

"Nay, not at all. There is a middle way. But soft! Hast any money with 

"Enough to get a loaf of bread and a cup of ale."

"Oh," said the secret pardoner (for his calling was then under ban and fine), 
a little disappointedly, "that is somewhat small; but yet, nevertheless," he 
muttered, partly to himself, "these are poor times, and when all plump 
partridges are abroad Mother Church's falcons must necessarily


fly at smaller game. Look here, good youth, forego thy mortal appetites, 
defer thy bread and ale, and for that money saved thereby I will sell thee 
one of these priceless parchments here in my wallet -- scrolls, young man, 
hot from the holy footstool of our blessed father in Rome, and carrying 
complete unction and absolution to the soul of their possessor! Think, 
youth; is not eternal redemption worth a cup of muddy ale? Fy to hesitate! 
Line thy bosom with this blessed scroll, and go to war cleaner-hearted than 
a new-born babe. There! I will not be exacting. For one of those silver 
groats I fancy I see tied in thy girdle I will give thee absolute admittance 
into the blessed company of saints and martyrs. I tell thee, man, for half a 
sequin I will make thee comrade of Christ and endow thee with eternity! Is 
it a bargain?"

Silent and disdainful, I, who had seen a dozen hierarchies rise and set in the 
various peopled skies of the world, took the parchment from him and 
turned away and read it. It was, as he said -- more shame on human 
intellect! -- a full pardon of the possessor's sins written out in bad Norman-
Latin, and bearing the sign and benediction of St. Peter's chair. I read it 
from top to bottom, then twisted its red tapes round it again, and threw it 
back to that purveyor of absolutions. Yes; and I turned upon that reverend 
traveler and scorned and scouted him and his contemptible baggage. I told 
him I had met two sad fools since noon, but he was worse than either. I 
scoffed him, just as my bitter mood suggested, until I had spent both 
breath and invention, then turned contemptuous, and left him at bay, 
mumbling inarticulate maledictions upon my biting tongue.

No more of these shallow panderers fell in my path to vex and irritate me, 
and before the white evening star was shining through the brilliant 
tapestry of the sunset over the meadow-lands in the west I had drawn 
near to and entered the strong, shadowy, moated walls of my first English 


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Chapter 10