After that eventful episode just detailed, life ran smooth and uneventfill 
for a time in the old manor house. I ha~l l~ad enough to thUlk of for 
many a day, and was i~lert and listlrss son~ehow. War, that had seemed 
so bright, had lost half its color to me. IIonor, and renown! iVhy, the 
green grass in the fields was not more fleeting, I bogan to think; and what 
use was it striving after conquests which allother age undid, or attempting 
brave adventures whereof a later time recognized neither cause nor 
purpose? I was in a doleful mood, as you will see, and lay about on 
Faalkener's sunny, red-brick terraces for days together, reflecting in this 
idle fashion, or pressed my suit upon his daughter when other pastimes 

:Nouv, this latter was a dangerous sport for one like me, and one whose 
fair opponent at the game had such a fiue untaught


instinct for it as Mistress Bess possessed. I began to speak soft things unto 
that lady's ear, as yoll may remember, like mally another, for lack of 
better occupation, and because it seemed so discourteous to be indifferent 
to the sweet enticemeht of my friend, and then I took the gentle malady 
from her, and, growing worse than she nad been, how could she do aught 
but sympathize? And so betwcen us we eked the matter on in ample 
leisure, until that which was a pretty jest became at last Yery serim~s and 
sober earnest.

It was a strange wooing. I still worked in the forge, riveting, hammering, 
and piecing together the fragments of the scholar's shattered dream, and 
down the damsel would come at times into the grimy den and sit upon 
the forge-corner in her dainty country smock, twirling her ribboned 
points and laughing at me and my toil, as fresh and dainty among all that 
gloomy black litter round about as a ray of spring sunshine. I was so 
solitary and glum, how co~dd I fail to be pleasured in that doar presence? 
And one time I would hammer her a gleaming buckle or wristlet out of a 
nob of ancient silver, and it was sweet to see that country damsel's 
eagernes,s as, with ilushed face and sparkling eyes, she bent over and 
watched the pretty toy sl~ine and glitter and take form and shape under 
my crtnning hammer. Or then again, perhaps, another day I would. tell 
her, as though it were only hearsay, some wondrous old story of the 
ancient time, so full of light and color and 1Qve as I could fill it, and thai 
dear aunitor woul I drink in every syllable with thirsty ears, and laugh 
and weep and fear and tremble just as I willed, the while I pointed my 
periods with my anvil irmls. and danced my visionary puppets against the 
black shadows of that nether hall. Hoth! a good listener is a sweet solace 
to him whose heart is full. Those narratives did so engross us that often 
the forge went cold, and bar and rivet slumbered into blackness, while I 
stalked up and down that dingy cavern, peopling it with such glowing 
forms and fancies as kept that dear mltutored damsel spell-bound; often 
the evening fell upon us so, and we had at last to steal shamefacedly 
across the court-yard to where the ~arm glow behind the lattices told us 
supper and the others waited.

There was small difference in these days. I hammered cheerful and I 
hammored dull, I hammered hopeful and I hammered melancholy, I 
hammered in tune to the merry prattle of that girl, and I hammered sad 
and solitary. And ever as I forged and welded by myself you may guess 
how I thought and speculated -- thought of all the love that I had


oved, and all the useless strifa and ambition, and now hung over m,y 
hlackening iron as the 1~ain of ancient perplexities and disappointments 
beset me, aml then arlou laughed and beat now life into the glowing 
motal as the ligilt of forgrotten joys flashed for a momont on the fitful 
current of my mind. Ah! and again I forged hot and inn'etuous on my 
master's rods arid rivets as the old pulse of battles and onset swelled in 
my VEillS- -- forged and hammmered while the stream of such fancies 
bore me on -- urltil, unwitting, the very molten stuff beneatl, mg hands 
took form and fashion of my thoughts, and grew up into shining spear-
heads and white blades until the fantasy in turrl was passed, and I checked 
my fancies and saw, ashamed, the foolish work my busy hammer had 
fashioned, and sadly broke the spear-heads and snapped the blades, and 
came bacl; with a sigh to meailer things.

My mind being tilus full of all those wild adventures and wondrous 
exploits I had seen and shared, when, as I was strolling one idle morriing 
down Faulkoner's dusty mllseum corridor, and sampling as I went his 
precious tomes, that thing happcoed to which you owe this book. I dipped 
into his missals and vehums as I sannteled from shelf to shelf, and soon I 
found there was scarcely a page,  scarcely a passage withill their mothy 
leathorn covers that did not touch me nearly, or set me thinking of 
something old and wonderful. There was not a page in all that fingered, 
scholar-marked library, it seemed to me, upon which I COml not find 
something better or nearer to the shining truth to say than they had who 
wrote those cupboard histories and philosophies; and first I was only sad 
to see so thuch inaccurate set down, and then I foll to sighing, as I turned 
the leaves of quaint treatise and pcdantic moukish diary, that they shonld 
write who knew so little, and I, who knew so much, should be so dumb. 
And thtls vague fancies began to form within my mind, and, backed by 
the brooding memories strong within, began to egg me on to 
qcriteq~'yselt! Jove! I had not touched a pen for many hundred years, and 
yet here was the bunding hunger for expression rising strong within me, 
and laughed and went over to old Faulkener's great oak table by the 
mullioned window, and took up his quill, and turned it here and there, 
and looked on both ends of it, then I resently set it down with a shake of 
the head as a weapon past my wielding. I felt the texture of his vellums 
and peered into the depth of his ink-pot, as though there were to see 
therein all those glowing facts and fancies that I yearned to draw 
therefrom. But it would not do; not even the chahen ge of those piled 
tomes, not even the handy


means to the end I coveted, cothd for a time break down my diffidenct`.

So I feil melaricholy again, and nandered tlowll that quaintly stocked 
museum lil~rttry, gazing ruefull)T oil eaci'l sad remnant of nillilraliity, and 
thinking ho`Nt q~itimt it `;as that

shothtl eome to dust my kii-ismen's shnns..l~tl tablilate those, grim okl 
}leafis that iiad so ofte~l waggttl ill `~-~'t~ise of trle, then back aY-ain to 
the shcli-es, and polod aild I'ondcred over the mally-~~uthored books, 
until, by hap, iny eyes lighted upon a passage in an eastern tale that was 
so ~oregn`~~,t  with experience, so filie, it seemed to ttly Hlood, in 
fatlc.\,~ and philosophy, that it entranced me and fired my zeal to a point 
l!aught else llatl dolle.

The ancient Arabian narrator is telling how ona came, in mid-desert, upon 
a splendid, ruined cily -- tt s~le.tlt, ul! peopled tO`VII oi' voiceless palaces 
and temples -- and wandered on by empty street and falling greathess 
until, in the stateliest court of a thousand stately palaces, he found an iron 
tablet, and on it was written these words:

In the name of God, the Eternal, the Everlasting throughout all ages: in 
the name of God, who begetteth not, and who is not begotten, and unto 
whom there is none like in the uar;le of God, the Miglity and Powerful. in 
the name of the Living who dieth not, O thou who arrivest at this place, 
be admonished by the misfortunes asd calamities tlmt thou bellolfl;.st, and 
be not deceived by the world and its beauty and its falsity and cilblmriy, 
and its fallacy and finery; for it is a flattercr, a e bcat, a traitor. Its things 
are borrowed, and it will t~d3e the loan from the borrower; and it is like 
the confused visions of the sleeper, and the dream of the dreamer. These 
are the characteristics of the world: cm~iide not Iberefore in it, nor incline 
to it: for it will betray ¥wbo deueuneth upon it, and wbo in his aff'uirs 
relieth upon it. Fall not inio its suares nor cling to its skirts. For I possessed 
four thousand bay imrses i;l a stable and I married a thousand damsels, all 
daughters of kings' high-bosomed virgins, like moons; and I was bleased 
with a thousand children; and ~ lived a thousand years, happy in mind 
and he.lrt; and I arm~!ssed riches such as the Kings of the ea~ih were 
unable to procure, nun I imaginod that my enjoyments wonkl continue 
without f~dlure. But I was not av. are when there alighted among us the 
terminator of delights, the separator of companions, the desolator of 
abodes the ravager of inhabited mansions, the destroyer of the great and 
the small and the infants, and the children, and tlre mothers. We had 
residcd~ in this p~il~n~e in setalrity until the event decreed by the Lord of 
all crest;i!ec-; tha Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the earths, betten 
us, and the thunder of the manifest-~l'ruth assailed us, and there died of 
us every day t\N,o, iill a P;reat tomnany of us bad perished. So when I 
say, that destruction h.,ci erlteic l ri!lr dwellings, and had alighted among 
us, and drowned us in the sea of deaths, I summoned a writer, and 
ordeled him to w£ite these verses and admonitions and lessons, and 
cauced them to be engraved upon tliese doors and tablets and tombs. I 
had an army comprising a thousand thousand briddes, composed of


hardy mcn, wrth spears and coats of mail, and sharp swords and strong 
arms; abd I ordered them to clothe themselves with the long coats of mail, 
and to hang on the keen snords, and to place in rest the terrible lances, 
.~rld monat the high-blooded horses. Then, when the ever~t ap. pointed 
by the Lord of all creatures, the Lord of Li~e earth and the heavens~ befell 
us I said, O eompanies of troops and soldiers, ea~~ ye pre -.rn ttl~it whicil 
hath befahen  me from the ~liglity King? But the soldiers and troops were 
unable to do so, and they s,~irI, HONV slr.~ll ~:e contered against Him 
from whom none hath seduned, the Lord c,f the door ,l~~t hath no door-
keeper? So I Sclil, Bring to me fl~e ~eam~! (And it was contained in a 
thousand pits, in each of which ``ere a thousand hunred-weights of red 
~cld, and in them were varieties of pearls and jou els, and there was the 
like quantity of white siiver, with trcn.sures such as the Kings of the earth 
were unable to procure.) and they did so; and ~'hen  they lr~~d brought 
the wealth before me, I said to them, can ye deliver me by means of all 
these riches, and p~lrchase for me therewith one day during which I may 
remain alive7 But they could not do so. They resigned themselves kJ 
destiny, and I submitted to God with patient endurance of fate and 
affliction until he took my sorll and made ITIC to dwell in my grave. And 
if thou ask concerning my name, I art~ b:oosh, the son of shed`:lad, the 
son of 'Ad the Greater.

"Oh, well written!" I cried. "Well written, Koosh, the son of Sh6ddad, the 
son of 'Ad the ('lreater, well and wisely written; and also I will write, for I 
have much to tell, and I, too, may some day be as thou art."

Thus was the beginning of this book. I got pen and ink and a volume of 
unwritten leaves forthwith, and carried them away to a lonely chamber in 
the thickness of a turret wall, a little forgotten cell some six poor feet 
across, and there, solitar', I have written, and still write, peopling by the 
flickering yellow lamp-light that stony niche with all the brilliant 
memories that I harbor, letting my recollection wander unshackled down 
the wondrous path that I have come, and step by step, by episodes of pain 
and pleasure, by wild adventure and strange mischance, down, far down, 
from the ancient times I have brought you tmtil now, when my ink is still 
wet upon the events of yesterday, and I cease for the moment.

This, then, is all that there is to say -- all but one suggestive line. I and 
yonder fair damsel have plighted troth under the apple-trees out in her 
orchard. We have broken a ring, and she has one half of it and I have the 
other. To-morrow will we tell her father, and presently be married. 'Tis a 
right sweet and winsome maid, and together, hand in hand, we will 
rehabilitate this ancient pile, and deck that desert garden, and get us 
friends and troops of curly-headed children, and lie and bask i' the jolly 
sunshine of contentment -- and so go haun and hand forever down the 
pleasant wavs of peaceful dalliance.


Jove! my pen, and a few poor minutes more from the bottom dregs of 
life. It is over: all the long combat and turmoil, all the success and 
disappointment, all the hoping and fearing. That which I thought was a 
hegimling turns out to be but an ending. My hand shakes as I write, my 
life throbs, and my blood is on fire within me; I am dying, friendless and 
alone, as I have lived -- dying in a niche in the wall with my great 
unfinished diary before me; and, with the grim briefness ol my necessity, 
this is how it has happened.

I had wooed and won Elizahoth Faulkoner, and, on the day after, she had 
come down into the fon,re, as was her wont, sweet and virginal; and I was 
there at wolk, and took her hlto my arms; and while we dallied thus there 
entered on us the ancient scholar and the swart steward. (Iodst that villain 
blanched and scowled to see us so till his swart face was whiter than the 
furnace ashes.

I took the maiden's hand, and boldly turning to her father, told my love 
and its accomplishment, whercat she burst from me and threw herself 
upon his bosom, and, radiant with confusion -- such a sweet country pearl 
as any prince might well have stooped to raise -- she pleaded for us.

Oh, a thousand thousaun curses on that black fell shadow standing there 
behind her! The father, relenting, kissed the fair white forchead of that 
winson1e girl. He bid ~manuol bring at once a loving-cup, and while that 
foul traitor rceled away to fetch it he ~oined our hands and gave us, in 
tones of love aIld gentleness, his blessing.

Then back came the scoundrel Spaniard, his lean, hungly face all drawn 
and puckered with his wicked passions, and in his ha; d a silver bowl of 
wine. Oh, Jove, }now cruel it ilames within me now! My sweet nlaid took 
it, and, rueful for the pain she had given black lEmanuel, spoke fair and 
gentle, S'l`'iU'r Inow we would ever stay his friends and do our best to 
pros~~er him. And even I, generous like a soldier, echoed her sweet 
words, telling that fell knave how, when the game was played and 
finished, e'en the worst rivals might meet once more in good 
comradeship. And so, while the mean Spanish hound, with cruel ~aw 
dropped down and hands a-twitching at his side, turned from us, his 
tender mistress lifted the goblet to her lips and drank.

She drauk, and because she was no courtly goblet-kissing dame, she 
drank full and honest, thon passed the troth-cup to me; and I laughed and 
swept aside my Phrygian beard, and happy once more and successful, at 
the pink of my ambition,, pledged th7O~e f£iennly two, pledged even you 


hearted scoundrel scowling there in the shade, then poured all that sweet, 
rosy-tasting love-cup of promise down my thirsty throat.

Gods! what was at the bottom of it? A pale, bitter, white dreg. Oh, Jove, 
what was this? I dipped a finger in and tried it, while a dead hush fell upon 
us four. It was bitter bitter as rue, cold, horrible, and biting. My fingers 
tightened slowly round the goblet-stem. I looked at the sweet lady and in 
a minute she was swaying to and fro in the pale light like a fair white 
column, and then her hands were pressed convulsive for a space upon her 
heart, while her knees trembled and her body shook, and then, all in an 
instant, she locked her fair fingers at arms'-length above her head, and 
with a long, low wail of fear and al,guish that shall haunt forever that 
stony corridor; she staggered and dropped.

Down went the goblet, and I caught her as she fell; and there she lay, 
heaving a moment in my arms, then looked up and smiled at me -- smiled 
for one happy second her own dear smile of love and sunshine -- then 
shut her eyes, trembling a little, and presently lay still and pale upon my 
bosom -- dead.

Fair, fair Elizabeth Faulkener!

I held her thus a space, and it was so still you could hear the gentle 
draught of the curling smoke filtering up the chimney, and the merry 
twitter of the swallows perched far above upon it. I held her so a space, 
then kissed her fiercely and tenderly once upon her smooth forehead, and 
gave the white girl to her father.

Then turned I to the steward, the bitter passion and the deadly drug 
surging together like molten lead within my VOillS. So turned I to him, 
and our eyes met, and for a moment we glared upon each other so still 
and grim that you could hear our hearts pulsing like iron hammers, and at 
every beat a long year of terror and shame seemed to flit across the ashy 
face of that coward lberian; he withered and grew old, grew lean and 
haggard and pinched and bent in those few seconds I stared at him. Then, 
without taking an eye from his eyes, slowly my hand was outstretched 
and my sword was lifted from the anvil where I had thrown it. Slowly, 
slowly I drew the weapon from its sheath and raised it, and slowly that 
villain went back, staring grimly the while, like the dead man that he was, 
at the point. Then on a sudden he screamed like a rat in a gin, and turned 
and fled. And I was after him like the November wind after the dead 
leaves. And round and round the forge we ran, fear and bitter, bitter 
vengeance winging our heels; and round the anvil with its idle hammer 
and coldc


~Zalf-welded iron swept that savage race; round by where the pale father 
was bending over the soft dead form of his swect country girl; round the 
ruined chaos of the great brol,en fiHgine; round by the cobwebbed walls 
of that gloomy crypt; round by the e iatterit~g healls of iron, in a mad, 
wild frenzy, we swept; and then the Spaniard fced to a little oaken wicL~t 
in the stony wall leading by many score of winding steps far out into the 
turrets above.

Ile tore the wicket open, and plunged up ihat stony staircase, and I was on 
his heels. Up the clattering stairs we raced -- gods, how the fellow leaped 
and screamed! -- and so we cama in a mintlte out into the air again, out on 
to old Adam Faulkener's ancient roof, out among his ga.g~r~les and 
corbie steps, with the pleasant surllmer wind wafting the bble smoke of 
luncheon-time about nS, and the court~ya-;d Iiags fal; far down belour.

And there I sct my tecth and drew my sinews tsgether, and wiped the cold 
sweat of death from off m,y forehead, and stilled the wild, strong tremors 
that were shaking my iron fabric,~ and lost in a reckless lust of vengeance, 
crouched to the spring that should have ended that villain.

He saw it, and back he went step by step, scl;eaming at every pace, 
hideous and shrill; buck step by step, with no eyes but for me; back until 
he was, unknowing, at the very rerge of the roof; back again another pace 
-- and then, Jove! a rcel and a stagger, and he was gone; and as I rushed 
forward and looked down I saw him strike upon the l~alapets a hundred 
feet below and bound into the air, and fall and strike again, and spin like a 
wheel, and be now feet up and now head, and so, at last, crash, with a 
dull, heavy thun, a horrid, lifeless thing, on the distant stones of that quiet 

It is over, and I in turn have time to laugh. I have come here -- here, to my 
secret den in the thickness of these great walls -- staggering slowly here 
by dim, steep stairs and rare-trodden landings -- here to die; and I have 
double-locked the oaken door, and shot the bolts, and pitched the key out 
of my one na,rrow window-slit, and gently rocking and swaying as the 
strong poison does its errand, I have thrown down my belt and sword, 
and opened my great volume once again.

Misty the letters swim before me, and the strong pain ebbs and flows 
within. All the room is hazy and dim, and I grow weak and fectle, and my 
heavy head sags down npon the leaf I strive to finish. Some other time 
shall flun that leaf, and me a dusty, anciont remnant. Some other hand 
shall turn


these pages than those I meant them for; some other eyes than theirs shall 
read and wonder, and perhaps regret. lind now I droop anon, and then 
start up, and the pf~le swinging haze seems taking shapes of friendliness 
and beauty. There are no longer limits to this narrow kingdom, and 
before m~ footstool sweep in soft procession all the shapes that I had 
known and loved. Electra comes, a pale, proun shacle, swceprng down 
that violet road, and holding out her iVoly palm in queenly friendship; 
and Numidea trips behind her, and uods and smiles, and there is stalwart 
Calus, his martial plumes brushing the sky; and earlier Sempronius, brave 
and gentle and jolly Tulus; and, two and two, a trooping band of ancient 

Now havo I looked up once more and laughed, and here they come 
trooping agairl, those smiling shadows, and the fair Thane is with them, 
her plaited yellow hair gleaming upon her unruffled forehead; and by 
either hand she leads a rosebun babe, who stretch small palms toward 
and voiceless cries ~pon me; sun white-bearded Senlac; and, two and two, 
my Saxon serfs and franklins come gliding in. And there strides gallant 
Codrington, leading a pale shadow all in white, and Isobel turns a fair, 
pale face upon me as she goes by. Oh, I am dead -- dead, I know it, all but 
the hsun which writes and the eyes that see -- and I laugh as the last fitful 
flashes of 6ho pain and life fly through the loosening fabric of my body.... 
And now -- and now a hush has fahen  on those silent shades, and their 
hazy ranks have fahen  wide apart, and through thom glides rundy 
Blodwen -- Blodwen, who comes to claim her own -- and, approaching, 
looks into my eyes, and all those stalelg shadows are waiting, two and 
two, for us two to head the1n hence; and she, my princess, my wife, has 
come near and touched my hand, and at that touch the mantle of life falls 
from me!

Blodwen! I come, I come


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