To keep her dagger company, Passe Rose carried a key, which gave her infinite trouble ; for the former was slender and admirably concealed under the fold of her garment, whereas the latter — although it opened only the small door into the garden, under which Jeanne herself, who was both short and fat, stooped in passing — was of extraordinary size, and hidden with difficulty. Having locked this door behind her, on her return from the abbey, and entered the kitchen softly, she hung the key on the peg, that the boy who drove the geese to the fields might find it in the morning. She even looked into the adjoining apartment, a sort of shed filled with straw and hay, where the lad slept with the donkeys, to see that he slept well, and, being satisfied of this by his breathing, closed the door carefully and went to her own chamber.
Jeanne’s garden lay to the south, and was separated from the street by a wall nearly hidden within by the plum-trees, which, trained against its surface, seemed all to be vying with each other as to which should first peep over the top to discover what was without. At the farther extremity the wall was pierced by a large gate, with double doors, leading to the market-place in front of the church of St. Sebastian, whose tower threw its shadow into the garden, and thus furnished Jeanne an excellent clock for nearly half the day. “ It is time to put the soup on the fire, — the cabbages have got the sun,” she would say; by which she meant it was nearly ten, and that the hour when all good citizens had their dinner was near at hand. The remaining side of the garden was bordered by houses whose windows overlooked the entire inclosure, much to Jeanne’s discomfort; for though she not infrequently gossiped with her neighbors, she liked not to be under their observance ; so that to escape this she had caused to be planted on this side a row of wild carnelian cherry-trees, which, in time, not only yielded excellent fruit, but also interrupted her neighbors’ view, while in no way intercepting their gossip.
It must be admitted that both Werdric and Jeanne made good all observance of Lent and holy-days by plenary indulgence the rest of the year. “ Of what use are fine garments,” said Jeanne, “ except it be for the priest who serves God at the altar ? They neither warm the body better than coarse ones, nor preserve the health; neither can they be taken into the other world. But God hath provided all manner of food to nourish his creatures.” Passe Rose, who, in the course of the many vicissitudes of her fortune, had often eaten bread of millet and even of beech-nuts with relish, did not fail to appreciate the unending supply of soft loaves, kneaded with milk and butter, which came from Jeanne’s oven ; for the latter not only made those pasties with yeast which could not be had of the public baker, but also baked her loaves over the embers of her own hearth, having an oven expressly for this purpose, in addition to the iron tripod over the fire on the earthen floor of her kitchen. Indeed, it was the pleasantest thing in the world to sit in the morning sun, as Passe Rose was doing the day after her adventure in the abbey, and watch the good dame as she went about her matin duties. The kitchen projected into the yard, and, the wooden partition between the posts supporting the roof being removed during the summer, there was no lack of fragrant air from the garden. The cherries shone among the dark leaves, and the plums made a purple mist against the wall. Little birds hopped boldly up the path leading from the gate, on one side of which stretched lines of cabbage and shallot, beet-root and parsley, while on the other was a pleasance of grass growing luxuriously in the shade of the cherry-trees. Under the eaves hung branches of sweet herbs; within, on the shelves, were apples and plums dried in the oven for winter use; on the walls shone vessels of iron and copper; and from the pot on the tripod, or the spit attached to its legs, came always some smell so savory that the pigs in the street without paused to sniff the air.
Jeanne, intent upon the contents of her stew-pan, would certainly have been astonished could she have known the projects which filled the small head of Passe Rose. Nothing is so easily forgotten as that gay pageant of dreams which troop like an army with music and banners through the mind of the young. When the music is hushed and the banners no longer flutter, it is almost in vain that any one tries to recall the display; its figures are scarce more than dumb, colorless ghosts, so that one doubts if ever they were anything else.
If once they had witched the mind of Jeanne, in the growth of her girdle she had clean forgotten them. Passe Rose, on the contrary, at the very instant Jeanne seasoned the stew, was listening intently to the dream music and watching the dream banners. Neither assisting Jeanne nor busying herself with spinning, as was her wont, she sat idly clasping her knees with her hands and gazing at the church tower. So still was she he that the little birds hopped nearer and nearer, and, after inspecting her from all sides, and concluding that she was no more to be feared than the statue over the church portal, would certainly have flown to her knee or shoulder, had not a wooden shutter in an adjoining house opened suddenly, and a voice, which caused Passe Rose to turn her head, cried, —
“ Neighbor Jeanne, hast thou heard the news from the abbey ? ”
Jeanne, seeing that it was Maréthruda, the wife of the notary, ran to the wall beneath the window, her spoon in her hand, while Passe Rose listened.
“ Nay, what has happened ? ” said Jeanne.
“ The abbot has recovered ” — replied Maréthruda.
“ Praise be to God and the blessed martyr ! ” interrupted Jeanne. “ When did the fever leave him ? ”
“ It was no fever at all,” rejoined the other. “ Have patience,” for Jeanne was on the point of interrupting her again. “As thou knowest, the blessed saint came not at once to his aid ; so that after the relics were brought from below and mass was said, ail withdrew except two who watched beside him, praying. Towards midnight one of these perceived that the abbot moved his lips whenever, in his prayer, he repeated the name of Christ our Lord, and, thinking he would speak, laid his ear to the abbot’s mouth. No sooner had he done this than he heard a most horrible hissing, as of fat on the coals ” —
“ Mercy of God ! ” ejaculated Jeanne.
“ Amazed at this, he asked the abbot what he desired, and the brother with him came also, asking the same question. Then a voice, very harsh and not at all like to the abbot’s replied, ‘ Abbot I am none, but a satellite of Satan, who has given me orders to torment the souls of all who love justice and pity the poor. To this end have I power to enter their bodies, or take upon me any form of man or of woman.’ Then they ordered the demon, in the name of the saint, to come out, and he replied, ‘ I will, not because of your authority, but because of the power of the martyr.’ This the demon said, shuddering and breathing rage, through the mouth of the abbot. Immediately afterwards he came out, and the abbot, speaking in his natural voice, bade them seek the serf who keeps the gate, that he should carry him to his own house, — for thou knowest the abbot is heavy. So he who came last went to the room which is by the gate, — here Maréthruda paused to recover her breath, and Passe Rose, unclasping her hands from her knees, leaned forward her head to listen, — “ and, opening the door, what thinkest thou he saw ? ”
Jeanne, long since lost in wonder, was ready to believe it was Satan himself, but fear had reduced her to such a state she could offer no conjecture.
“ A girl of surpassing beauty, who was none other than the demon himself.”
Passe Rose laughed softly. “ How knowest thou certainly it was he ? ” she asked gravely, approaching the window.
“ Because,” rejoined Maréthruda sharply, not liking that any one should doubt the power of the blessed martyrs, " for many reasons. First, there was about the neck a circle of fire ; and secondly, no sooner did the fiend perceive the monk making the sign of the cross, than it uttered a piercing shriek and fell upon the floor. And, indeed, that it was no young girl is plain, for immediately the door’s of the room were closed and barred, and when morning came the prior went in person to see whether it were so, finding no trace of any one but the serf. Can a young girl of flesh and blood like thyself pass through walls of stone?” asked Maréthruda triumphantly.
“True,” replied Passe Rose.
“ Moreover,” added Jeanne, “ devils often take the form of beautiful girls to tempt the saints ; that is well known. ’
“ God forbid! ” said Passe Rose thoughtfully.
“ Do thou go and buy a wax candle of four deniers,” said Jeanne fervently, as she returned to her soup, “ and light it at the altar of St. Servais in the church of St. Sebastian, and after dinner is over we will go to implore his succor, lest this devil enter one of us.”
Whereupon, with a trembling hand, her thoughts flying hither and thither in her brain, like a swarm of bees which have lost their hive, Jeanne stirred the soup, and Passe Rose went down the path to the gate, driving the birds before her, and smiling at their noisy chatter.
It was indeed strange that Passe Rose, who was on her way to consult the pythoness in all sincerity, should at the same time find such cause for laughter in the fact of the abbot’s possession by a demon. Yet so it was. So complex is the mind of man, and so various are the aspects of all which surround him, that in every age he is seen to deride the powers in whose fear he lives, to seek what he despises and contemn what he desires, to slight what he loves and caress what he loathes ; and thus Passe Rose, on the way to the sorceress, made all manner of merriment of monkish superstitions, just as Jeanne, while powdering her cakes with coriander and adding the saffron to her soup, said to herself that only by resisting all carnal appetites could one be sure to escape the power of devils.
Having purchased the candle, Passe Rose approached the church portal slowly, looking for an opportunity when she might address the woman without being observed; for although the latter lived altogether upon the alms she received from those who sought her counsel, there was not one in all Maestricht who did not agree with the abbot that every such practice was contrary to the word of God and altogether unlawful. So Passe Rose lingered on the way, and, coming into the porch, began to admire the carvings over the door, although she had seen them often enough, and indeed much finer elsewhere ; and when no one was by she pressed her sou into the old woman s hand, and, stooping to her ear, whispered : —
I seek a Saxon maiden whose name is Rothilde. Tell me quickly where she is to be found.”
One might well think that God had forgotten the work of his hand at the sight of this creature, whose body was so curved by the rickets that her knees were close to her chin.
“ Hasten,” said Passe Rose, her rosy cheek next the yellow skin.
“ Come again at the vesper service,” replied the sorceress, “ and I will tell thee all thou desirest to know.”
Passe Rose was disappointed at this delay, but, restraining her impatience as best she might, went in and lighted the candle at the altar of St. Servais, where already others were burning, and before which were many people praying; for the rumor of what had transpired was spread abroad through the whole city. Thither also she returned with Jeanne in the afternoon, and again after the vesper office, when the sorceress told her that if she would compass her quest she must pass that night in fast and prayer in the oratory, and at vigils open the gospels which were on the altar, and it would be told her what she was to do.
Now it was no hardship for Passe Rose to fast only one evening and night, for she had often fasted perforce longer than that; neither did she fear to watch by night in the oratory. But it troubled her sorely to open the gospels, for she could not read. However, she made known to Jeanne her intention of passing the night in fast and prayer, — a resolve which Jeanne applauded heartily, it being easier for her to commend the abstinence of another than to practice it herself. So when night was come Passe Rose entered the church again, and prostrated herself before the altar in the oratory set apart for St. Servais.
There were others also with her: a woman who was a serf, belonging to the royal domain called Estinnes, suffering from a grievous paralysis, so that she could lift her hand neither to clothe nor feed herself ; a young man having a malady called by the Greeks spasm, whereby his hand shook continually; and others tormented by various judgments of God, or having sins to expiate by prayer and fasting. Presently the sacristan closed the doors, and the sound of his footsteps on the stone flags having ceased, Passe Rose knew that he had retired. Then she raised her head and looked about her.
The feeble lights around the altar were unable to penetrate the darkness, and the shadows behind her seemed momentarily to advance and retreat, as if contending with them. Occasionally a groan or an invocation from some one of those near her rose like a spirit into the dome, beating back and forth from side to side, as a bird seeking to escape its place of confinement. Truly it did not occur to Passe Rose, as it might have to the learned abbot, that the altar, with its precious vessels and struggling tapers, before which these unfortunates were kneeling, surrounded by the darkness and overarched by the dome which flung back their supplications, represented in some manner the Church of God, so feeble amid the suffering, crime, and ignorance of the world, yet calm with patience and an invincible faith in its own destiny. Surely, of all this Passe Rose understood as little as she understood the characters on the pages of the gospels. Yet she knew well that there was here something too vast for understanding, in whose mysterious presence kings bowed and her own spirit trembled ; and for a while she remained on the cold floor, repeating her prayers in good earnest without lifting her eyes. But being in vigorous health and of active mind, soon her thoughts began to wander, so that even with pinching herself she could scarce keep from dozing. At last her head fell to one side, and, anxious lest through sleep she should miss the hour, she rose softly, walking to and fro in the darkness, behind the others.
There was yet some time before the monastery bell would announce the hour of vigils ; there was nothing for her hand to do nor anything to divert her attention; so she gave herself over to her thoughts, following wherever fancy led her, as when one who is half asleep abandons himself to conscious dreaming. At first she debated with herself whether it were necessary to open the gospels at the hour which the woman had indicated ; for although this manner of divination had been practiced by kings and was yet much esteemed by the people, it was under the ban of the Church, and expressly forbidden in the articles which Karle had caused to be written in his councils. This thought disturbed her, for there were many others present, and she wondered whether it would not answer her purpose to open the book on the reading-desk near the high altar. But aside from the fact that she had been particularly enjoined to consult the gospels in the oratory of St. Servais, there was only a single lamp burning before the high altar, and its light was so feeble that she could distinguish nothing.
Perhaps her strange adventures in the wood and the abbey recalled to mind somewhat of her former manner of life; or perhaps, being alone in the darkness and solitude, apart from the others, a sense of freedom possessed her which it was not possible to feel in the garden of Jeanne; or it may have been the influence of the night hours, which often set free thoughts and imaginings that, like many winged and creeping creatures, lie hidden during the day, —at all events, whether for these reasons or not, Passe Rose began to dream and indulge her fancy in visions wherein neither Jeanne, nor Werdric, nor the boy who tended the geese, nor any familiar objects had part; not even Passe Rose herself in her simple dress and sandals, but Passe Rose in silken shoon and a pearl girdle, Passe Rose on a white mare, with a page at the bridle rein. Now she traveled with Friedgis in a great wood, seeking the Saxon maiden, and now she sat with Gui of Tours at banquet; now Friedgis defended her from some wild beast whose covert they disturbed in passing, and now she rode in the train of the king’s daughters — when suddenly the monastery bell sounded faintly from the hill, all these things vanished, and she saw only the altar surrounded by the candles and the gospels lying upon it. Yet on the hackground of her sight the dream lingered, so that she was conscious both of it and what she was doing as, going boldly forward, she opened the gospels, noting well the miniature which adorned the page, and making a mark with her nail against the passage she selected.
In the early morning came one of the clerks who had charge of the church, to prepare for the morning office.
“ Sir,” said Passe Rose, pointing to the gospels, “is that the Scriptures which the king gave at the feast of Noël to the church of St. Sebastian ? ”
“ No,” he replied ; “ the book of which thou speakest is used only on holydays.”
“ I have heard it said that it is ornamented with most wonderful pictures.”
“ That is true,” answered the clerk, “ Pointed in gold and vermilion upon purple vellum.”
“ In gold and vermilion,” repeated Passe Rose ; “ that were indeed wonderful.”
“ Moreover,” said the clerk, “ it is written in new characters, very easy to read ” —
“ Like those of the notary, which Maréthruda has shown me,” suggested Passe Rose.
“Nay,” replied the clerk, ‘‘that is an ordinary manner of writing very different ” —
“ Show me, I pray thee, in thy missal,” said Passe Rose.
I have it not with me,* he replied,
“ hut come hither. Seest thou these characters ? ” — opening the gospels, —
“ how long and thin is the stroke of the pen? Those in the king’s parchment are round, and ” —
“What astonishes me,” interrupted Passe Rose, turning over the leaves, “ is that any one should find meaning in such marks.”
“ It is very easy,” said the clerk complacently.
“ Tell me, now,” asked Passe Rose, putting her finger on the page, “ canst thou read this ? ”
“ Certainly. That is the Gospel of Saint Matthew, who is here relating what the blessed Christ said to the multitude, and there where thou hast thy finger it is written : “ Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.”
“ Aïe, Aïe,” ejaculated Passe Rose, lost in wonder, and repeating the words under her breath.
Recalled at this moment to his duties by those who came to the morning service, the clerk closed the book, while Passe Rose, whose interest in the art of the copyist seemed to have been satisfied, went slowly away, saying to herself,
“ In kings’ houses — in kings’ houses.”
A rise of three degrees in the temperature of the blood is fatal to ceremony, and so trifling a change often discovers a secret one might otherwise seek in vain to know whether the bond which attaches others to us be one of interest or affection. Thus it was that the abbot, though his chaplain and servants neither asked permission to be seated in his presence nor received his wishes kneeling, as they did when he was in health, perceived from his sick-bed the evidence of a solicitude on his behalf which imparted to the thought of returning life a satisfying pleasure.
This was no more than he might rightfully have expected. His rule had been firm but mild, and setting forth doctrines strange to his times, namely, that power was for the protection of the weak, and not for their oppression, and that no man or woman, however unfit for labor or war, might not become useful to God, if only by exhibiting virtues of meekness and patience. Yet the abbot was always surprised as well as pleased that men should either love or praise him ; for it was a noteworthy fact that of all who knew him none held him in less esteem than did he himself. Whereas in later times Pascal said, “ I cannot forgive Montaigne,” Rainal, abbot of St. Servais, used continually to say, “ I cannot forgive Rainal.”
Wearing ordinarily the common dress of a monk, except that all rose and bowed when he came into the refectory or chapter-house, none who saw him would have suspected that one of so modest a manner had been first chaplain to the great Karle, and loved by him above other counselors. Not only had he frequently served the king among the missi dominici, determining pleas and judging causes of every kind, but he had also been sent upon distant missions both of church and state, — to the pope at Rome, and to the dukes of Bavaria and Spoleto. How he had discharged these duties was recorded over the king’s own signature in the grant of his benefice, wherein it was written that “ by faithful service and a devoted obedience he worthily deserves the favor of our generosity.” And it cost the king more to part with his person than with the gifts whereby he honored him ; for not only in his palaces of Aix and Ingelheim, when, resting from war, he refreshed his mind with learning and the arts of peace, but also in the wastes of Saxony, when he launched his leudes against the rebels, at the siege of Pavia, and in the grievous retreat from Spain, Rainal, no less sturdy and tireless in the saddle than his royal master, had shared his triumphs and reverses.
From these scenes he withdrew at his own request. “ For the child the hour of death may be near at hand,” he said to the king ; “ for the old man it must be. Suffer me, then, to retire from the affairs of this world, that when that hour comes it may not surprise me occupied with passing things, but applied to prayer and meditation on the divine word.” Upon this entreaty, oft repeated, the king released him from daily attendance upon his person, as also from visiting the court yearly as others were required to do ; and having thus given him control over himself, following the custom of his predecessors, was pleased further to make him abbot of St. Servais, with jurisdiction over the neighboring convent of Eicka and all its dependencies and granges, besides granting him certain villas with their adjacent forests and fields, pastures and meadows, formerly belonging to the royal domain, together with all servants and serfs attached thereto, to have and to hold in quietness, and to leave by will to whomsoever he wished.
It is not to be wondered at that the king, loving the abbot so well, should desire to be informed of his health; and to this end he sent frequently from the castle of Immaburg, near to Aix. where he was then passing the autumn huntingtime, inquiring how the abbot fared ; and on the evening of the second day following the invocation of the relics came Gui of Tours on the king s errand.
Jeanne and Passe Rose were returning from afternoon service, and were leaving the open space before the church of St. Sebastian, near the corner of the garden wall, when the troop entered at the opposite angle, and at the sound of the horses’ feet they turned to see what was approaching. Perceiving that the horsemen were riding furiously and directing their course to the street where she was, Jeanne seized the hand of Passe Rose, who would fain have loitered, and hurried her towards the garden gate, for the street was narrow, and she feared to be caught between the walls. So fast did the troop approach that the clatter of hoofs resounded in the street before the gate was reached, so that Jeanne was forced to run, and had well-nigh exhausted her strength when she reached the door. Here, although perfectly safe, she fumbled the key in her haste, and thrust it awry in the lock, while Passe Rose, there being room for but one under the arch, stood without, her hands and back pressed against the wall. The passing of the troop was the affair of a moment; but when Jeanne had succeeded in opening the door, and, though all danger was over, had excitedly pulled Passe Rose into the garden after her, the girl carried in with her a picture as distinct as if she had seen it quietly in her own chamber, and not for a moment only, through a cloud of dust and amid a tumult of arms and horses’ feet. This picture was none other than that of Gui of Tours at the head of the horsemen, a picture complete from the short-sleeved tunic which left hare the knees, the furlined jacket, and the baldric from which hung the sword, even to the shoes fastened about the legs by leather thongs.
On his part, although swept on by the impetus of those who came after him, Gui of Tours saw plainly his collar of gold about a neck of equal lustre, and two brown eyes, which, without any effort, or perhaps knowledge, on the part of their possessor, shot a glance of recognition sharper than an arrow’s point through the dusty cloud.
“ The world is not over-wide after all, said Gui to himself, smiling as he galloped on.
Beyond the city the cavalcade left the Roman road leading southward for that up the monastery hill. The way was steep, but the jaded horses climbed it eagerly, their ears pricked forward as if anticipating already the abbot’s oats. The slope on either side was covered with vineyards, whose fruit was beginning to ripen, and the foil clusters, shaded with golden-yellow or purple, might plainly be seen between the bright green leaves tinged with autumn bronze. Vine-dressers were tying the bending branches to the stakes with willow withes, or spreading ashes about the roots to hasten the work of the sun ; and on reaching the brow of the hill, fields sweet with odors of drying grass, interspersed with patches of wheat and rye, flax and hemp, appeared on the plain. The sun was low in his arc as the abbey towers came in view, overtopping the trees which shaded the fish-ponds, and the sound of the wooden hammer on the bell was heard calling the laborers home. From the vines and the fields, the vegetable gardens about the ponds, and the blue line of forest to the west, they came in groups, laughing and chatting together, their tools in their hands ; others were laden with baskets of provisions, while across the pastures, between the lowing of loitering cattle, might be heard the song of the goatherds and shepherds, and the wood-cutters chanting hymns and prayers as they emerged from the forest with their bundles of fagots and poles.
The vast court within the outer wall, extending on this side the length of the abbey close, with its small wooden houses, its workshops, granaries, and sheds, swarmed at this hour with a motley population. Wagons loaded with grain were drawn up within the gate, their unyoked oxen gazing stupidly around; donkeys, almost hidden by their burdens, waited patiently before the stalls ; herdsmen carried milk - pails, whose white froth gave forth a pleasant odor, to the bakehouse, or filled the cribs in the cattle-sheds ; workmen were preparing the wine-presses for the vintage, and rows of casks banded with iron stood ready for the coating of pitch and soap heating in caldrons over the fire. In the middle of the court was a small wooden basilica, in front of whose portico, under the shade of a few trees festooned by vines, a table was spread with loaves and dressed meats for the poor seeking food and shelter at the abbot’s hands.
Through this throng Gui and his company made their way slowly, saluting the almoner at the table under the trees, and the monks in the doors of the workshops along the way ; and coming to the high wall dividing the court from the monastery close, Gui struck with his sword-hilt upon the oaken gate.
Having given his horse to his servant, he, with two of his companions, entered, and were conducted to the hall reserved for the abbot’s guests.
An atmosphere of peace and quietude, in striking contrast to the activity without, pervaded the inner enclosure. The very language was different, for the vulgar tongue was prohibited within the abbey proper.
Learning that the abbot was mending fast, Gui retired to the chamber assigned him, and after a bath, which he found already prepared in the large tank of warm water, returned to the hall into which his chamber opened. There Sergius the prior, dispensing the hospitality of the house in the abbot’s absence, awaited him, as also a goodly smell of cooking which came from the adjoining room, through whose dodrway might be seen figures hurrying to and fro in the flaring firelight and smoke.
The Prior Sergius was very agreeable in conversation, though he said little. Those whom he addressed were at first charmed by a certain Roman elegance of manner consorting strangely with his robe. Afterwards, whether because of his small white hands, or a fire which slumbered in his eyes, one began to entertain all manner of absurd conjectures; as that, if he had not been a monk, the love of luxury and pomp, or the greed of power and gain — but no, that were impossible, and while putting away the suspicions, the soft reserve of his speech gave to them so fresh a force that one looked askance at his pale, thin face, saying, “ God keep him the monk, else the Devil will possess the man.”
If young Gui of Tours did not observe this, it was either because he was hungry and the table well served, or because his thoughts were on other things. He listened to the account of the interposition of the saint in the abbot’s behalf, and he in turn told the prior the news of the outside world, — of the ambassadors from the newly elected pope, who brought the keys and standard of the city of Rome ; of the end of the war against the Avars, the destruction of their fortified camp, and the fabulous treasures found in the royal residence of the Kan; of the expected coming of Pepin, the king’s son, to Aix ; and then, suddenly turning to Sergius, —
“ Prior,” he asked, “ tell me who it is that dwells in the house by the square of St. Sebastian, at the corner of the street leading thence upon the road to Liege.”
“ It must be “Werdric the goldsmith,” replied the prior, after a moment’s reflection.
Now the prior had one habit which, when it overcame him, greatly marred his Roman manner. This was to fix his eyes upon those who conversed with him. A straightforward gaze which follows the motion of the heart troubles no one, but to be watched and, as it were, studied like a book is far from agreeable. For this reason, while the prior was telling who Werdric was, — that he was born a royal serf attached to one of the granges which the king had given the abbot; that the latter had released him from the yoke of servitude for his skill in gold-working, and given him the house where he lived with ample freedom to use it and all he might thereafter make in his trade, according to the canons and his own will, like other Roman citizens; how he lived in peace with his wife and four others, one being a serf of the abbey, also very skillful in the setting of gold, one a boy who tended the geese in the meadow on which the abbot had granted Werdric the right of pasturage, and two women, also serfs, spinning and weaving exceeding well; and that there was, moreover, he believed, a young maiden in the household who passed for Werdric’s daughter, an idle girl received out of charity, whether freeborn or not he could not tell, — while, as was said, Gui listened to this information, he felt the espial of the prior’s eye like the pry of a lever under a stone ; so that although learning exactly what he wished to know, lie nevertheless muttered to himself, “ May God wither such eyes ! ” and again, “ This monk is both shrewd and audacious; and at last, when the prior came to the young girl, as if weary of the whole matter, he flung down his cup on the board, Saying that if it pleased the abbot to receive him that night he was ready, and if not he would go to bed. Upon this the prior, who studied to live in perfect understanding with all. and knew how to preside at a table though partaking of nothing himself, filled the young man’s cup and said he would ascertain what was the abbot’s pleasure.
Gui’s two companions, their faces hid in their arms and their arms on the table, were already asleep ; for the ride had been long and the abbey wine was heavy. Indeed, young Gui himself, when he looked into his cup, could see nothing but a golden collar and two brown eyes which laughed and vanished when the wine was stirred, and reappeared when it was still again. He rose from the bench, walking to and fro, deploring the necessity which forbade his remaining in Maestricht, and endeavoring to devise some plan by which he might accomplish his mission without returning at once to Immaburg. Often he abandoned the thought as impossible to realize, being the king’s messenger ; and then, when he lifted the cup to his lips, the eyes in the wine shone and laughed again, and such perfumes rose from it as filled his brain with new devices, — in the midst of which he walked through the archway into the kitchen, nor knew where he was till the smoke lingering in the rafters and the shining of vessels in the firelight recalled him to his senses. While thus debating what he should do, a servant came, saying that the abbot had just awakened from refreshing slumber and would receive the king’s message.
The effect produced upon the abbot by the relation of the events which occurred the night Passe Rose visited the monastery had been little short of stupefaction. He was not free from the naive credulousness which tinctured the piety of his day, a piety which if thus sometimes degraded to superstition was also often elevated to the heroism of faith. He had not the slightest doubt that the traces made by the chariotwheels of Pharaoh on the Red Sea bottom were still visible, as affirmed by travelers who visited the spot, and that if effaced by the violence of the waves they reappeared by the will of God when the sea became calm again. But it perplexed him to believe that God had given over his body to be the abode of devils. That such should assume the form of a beautiful woman was credible enough, but that they should find shelter in the temporary dwelling in the soul of an abbot was unheard of and contrary to reason. Reflecting upon this matter as he lay on his bed, he endeavored to put away the temptings of spiritual pride. How should he justify the ways of God ? When he looked about him did he not see bishops seeking honors lather than to honor God, magistrates loving presents more than justice, nobles glutted with spoils, — everywhere war, the war of the vulture upon the defenseless, the war of the kite upon the dove ? How should he reconcile these things to the providence of God ? Abbot though he was, he understood them as little as did Passe Rose what she saw when repeating her prayers before the shrine of St. Servais. Yet he knew, as she did, the presence of something mightier than he, — the spirit brooding above the waters. When perplexed by such thoughts the abbot instantly addressed himself to prayer. He knew very well that the tendency to think was one of his besetting sins. His mind, vigorous as had been his body, loved to try its wings. He longed for the upper space in the presence of whose sun no cloud can form. A demon was thus ever opening the window of his soul and tempting his thoughts to flight; but like the dove loosed by Noah on the waste of waters, the thought of the abbot always returned to the ark of God.
Following his conductor, Gui traversed the shady walk between the church and the school to the abbot’s lodging, and when the door was opened perceived the prior with two others standing at the foot of the bed. Gui had seen the abbot about the king’s person and knew bis face well; for even after Rainal’s retirement from the court he had accompanied his master upon the expedition to Saxony, and this the more willingly in the hope of moderating the treatment of the captives. Yet Gui was astonished to see the ravages of the fever. Approaching the bed, he knelt by its side ; whereupon the abbot laid his hand on his head and blessed him.
Then said Gui, “ Our sovereign master, the very glorious Karle, to Rainal. his faithful servitor and friend, sends greeting. He desires me, his messenger, to say to you that your health is his joy, and your joy his happiness, and may you continue in the grace of Jesus Christ and of all his saints.”
It was more from emotion than from weakness that the abbot’s voice trembled in reply.
“ Say to the king in my name that the assurance of his friendship is consolation to the mind and medicine to the body, being after the grace of Heaven the support of failing years; and that if God deigns to give me life and health I shall speak in person those things which weakness of body now forbids the tongue to utter.”
As Gui, rising from his knees, waited a sign that he might retire, the abbot, regarding him intently, as if searching his memory, asked his name.
“ Gui, son of Robert, Count of Tours,” replied the youth.
A shadow passed over the abbot’s face as he heard the count’s name. “Christ preserve you,” he said, lifting his hand in sign of dismissal.
Now the abbot had caused to he written an account of the interposition of the saint in his behalf, duly signed by witnesses, and this document, together with a portion of the silken cloth which covered the reliquary, he desired to transmit to the king; so that when the morning was come, and Gui, preparing to leave the abbey, was about to mount his horse, he received a message from the abbot to the effect that he sent by a faithful brother, by name Dominic, certain papers to the king; and in order that the said brother should suffer no inconvenience on the way, he committed him to the safe conduct of the captain, Immediately after, riding a gray mule, appeared Brother Dominie himself, a fitting witness to all in the abbot’s letter, having watched at night beside his litter and seen the shape taken by the demonin Friedgis’s cell.
Young Gui of Tours was hot of temper and could scarce restrain his wrath ; for his mind had but one thought, — to discharge the king’s mission as speedily as possible, and return to Maestricht. But with a monk riding a mule, there was little chance to use the spur, and the day would scarce answer to compass the distance. Help for it there was none, however, and saluting the monk with scant grace, he rode slowly through the courtyard and out of the gate upon the road between the vineyards.
Never before was a man in so fit a temper to bear with discourtesy as was Brother Dominic, ambling along on his gray mule. Not since the day he came with letters from the convent of St. Bavon to the abbot of St. Servais, commending him as very dextrous in every art of the scribe, had his heart overflowed with such contentment. For he had in his pouch, besides the manuscript for the king, the epistles for every day in the year, done by his own hand and destined for the queen. The long months spent at his desk and the cramp in his right thumb were forgotten in the thought of the allegorical figures, the gigantic capitals, whose admirable drawing and soft coloring had cost so many hours, and which were now to be examined by a queen. Though the missal was safely enclosed in the silken altar-cloth and thrice enveloped in thick parchment, this did not prevent him from turning over in his mind every page and examining with pride every well-known stroke of the pen. Then again, like the apostles of old who had witnessed miracles and cast out devils, he also had seen the power of God, and it pleased him mightily to think that a poor monk should have been concerned in such weighty matters ; so that between the praise he put into the queen’s mouth and the wonder he foresaw on the king’s face, the recollection of his gold-dotted miniatures and the rehearsal of the story of the demon, he had little time to complain that Gui of Tours rode moodily before him in silence. Without his window, almost within reach of his hand as he sat at his copying-desk, a bird had her nest in a vine, and the view opening before him from the brow of the hill was to be seen also from the orchard within the abbey walls. Yet, riding to Immaburg on the high-road was a very different thing from sitting at his copying - desk ; and the boundless plain, the river smoking in the morning sun, the scent of dew-covered hay, the thrill of the air when a bird sang, all seemed new to him. The very motion of the mule was agreeable, although Brother Dominic was neither well-knit like the abbot, nor graceful like the prior, and the mule staggered at times on a rolling stone.
A temper quick to rise is soon appeased, and Gui of Tours had not reached the foot of the hill before his mood began to change. “ By Heaven,” he said half aloud, “ the monk is not to blame, and I do him wrong.’ At the same instant came the thought to give the mule to one of the servants, and seat the monk on the servant’s horse. “ God willing, he may hold fast at a gentle pace, and compass a gallop before the day is over,” thought he. Full of this thought, he reined in his steed, for the horses were fresh, and, stretching their necks to loosen the rein, had gained at every step on the mule.
At this place the road dipped to cross a running brook, and rising in both directions, was visible but a short distance.
Thinking that the brawling of the stream drowned the sound of the mule’s feet, and expecting every moment to see its ears over the top of the rise. Gui waited awhile, ashamed of his discourtesy, then rode backward to greet the monk with a pleasant word. But before reaching the brow of the hill he saw, to his astonishment, that the mule and the monk had parted company, whether in wrath or peace were hard to tell; for the mule was returning leisurely to the abbey, while Brother Dominic, the signs of terror on his face, ran in the opposite direction with such speed as his habit of body and dress would permit.
Was there ever any one who once in his life did not feel happiness, not flowing in from without, but welling up, as it were, from an unsealed spring within? The world and all about are the same; the springs are not there, but in ourselves. The eye sees and the ear hears what never were seen nor heard before ; for once soul and sense minister to each other and agree.
It was not because of the sun struggling through her window of horn that Passe Rose, the morning on which Gui of Tours set out from Maestricht for Immaburg, rose so blithe from her dreams, — for this it did every fair day in the year, — nor could she honestly have told what had unsealed her heart’s spring. Yet never had grating of shutter as Werdric opened his shop below, nor knocking at panel slide as some passerby stopped at the window in the wall of the tavern across the way for his morning beer, nor braying of loaded mule passing down the street sounded as they did that morn. There was nothing so common or so trivial that her happiness could not give it value, just as every vulgar pebble twinkles, or blade of common grass revives, when the spring water overflows them. It was nothing to her that Jeanne s cakes were underdone ; that the bees in the garden were making less honey than last year ; that the boy who tended the geese was sick from overeating of green plums. She ate the cakes with a laugh, vowing that if the honey was less in quantity, the quality was better than ever before, and seeing Jeanne anxious for the geese, offered to drive them herself to pasture in the boy’s stead.
Clustered about the garden gate, alarm and wonder reigned among the flock. The oldest could not remember such a delay, and nothing so disturbs the mind as the invasion of habit. The citizens of Maestricht themselves could not have felt more alarm at seeing the sun delay his rising than did the geese to see the garden gate still closed ; and if the moon had appeared in the sun’s stead, they would not have lifted their hands in greater astonishment than that with which the geese craned their necks to see Passe Rose behind them with the boy’s staff. There was now no loitering to converse with their fellows by the way. The leader no longer regulated the march and its halts; for Passe Rose was quick of step, and many a joint ached, and many a throat was hoarse with remonstrance before the pasture was gained.
Beyond the town the way skirted the abbey hill to where the brook from the fish-ponds gained the plain ; thence it followed the brook upward to an intervale hollowed out of the slope, like a man’s hand. Here the stream lost all unity, running in separate noiseless rills about tufted islands of grass, or spreading itself to rest about all manner of water plants, such as the geese loved. Passe Rose, well acquainted with the place, knew that by ascending higher to where the brook crossed the road she might watch at her ease in the oak shade the flock on the meadow below. Thither, therefore, she went, and after washing her feet in the cool water and laying her sandals, which had been wet in passing through the meadow, on a stone in tire sun, sat down near by under the trees.
Before her the narrow cleft where the brook ran widened out into the pasture, its water shimmering between the grasses and dotted with the bluish gray of the feeding flock. Farther on, where the stream gathered again to fall out of sight over the mead’s edge, the plain covered with forest stretched into the dim distance, where we are fain to think lies all that is lacking in what is near. Passe Rose sat motionless under the oak, her chin oil her knee ; but no bird soaring over the plain roamed so fast or so free as her thought. It was now the third day, and she could scarcely wait for the night in order to tell to Freidgis the answer she had read in the gospels; for notwithstanding the consequences of her previous visit she was resolved at least to sing, as she had promised, the cuckoo’s song without the wall. Then the recollection of her being mistaken for an evil spirit brought a smile to her lips, and — but why repeat the idle thoughts of an idle maid ? Only be it said that behind them all was the image of the king’s captain, riding through the forest, over the plain, among the geese, — in fact, wherever Passe Rose turned her eyes ; while up from her heart welled the unsealed spring, filling her veins with an unknown pleasure. Thus rises sometimes the fragrance of a flower whose roots we cannot discover.
So distinct was the captain’s image that at the sound of horses Passe Rose sprang to her feet without a thought for her sandals, and ran barefooted to the fringe of shrubs and young shoots which screened the road. The horsemen had disappeared in the gully, and parting the sweet-brier stems, Passe Rose made her way through to watch for their reappearance on the farther side.
It was then that Brother Dominic was passing on his gray mule. Unaccustomed to such violent motion, drops of perspiration shone on his round face ; but this he bore bravely, his dilated nostrils drinking in the odors of field and wood, and his hands clinging fast to the saddlepouch, both to insure his own safety and that of its precious contents. From thinking how he should bear himself at court, pleased also at his good success in bestriding the mule, self-esteem had gotten the upper-hand of humility; and, like many who perceive what they should have said or done only after the occasion is past, he devised imaginary perils wherein to exercise his superfluous courage. “Fiend of hell!” thought he, “ another time thou shalt not escape so easily ; ” and fortified by the bright sun and pleasant air, he saw himself in Friedgis’s cell, advancing boldly on the demon, which trembled at his approach. At this very moment, while letting go his hold to wipe away the drops which trickled from his forehead into his eyes, the gray mule thrust forward its ears at the noise of crackling stems, and Brother Dominic saw the demon itself peering through the copse beside the road.
No sooner did Passe Rose perceive the monk than she sought to retreat, thinking her secret would be discovered. But in a thorn thicket advance is easier than retreat. Moreover, it was clear from Brother Dominic’s face and movements that he still labored under his former misapprehension. His hand was raised with a show of courage, and his lips moved valiantly, but terror was gaining upon him fast, and the mule was apparently imbibing this emotion from its master. It is possible that it shook only because the latter was shaking, but Brother Dominic bad heard marvelous stories of animal sagacity, and made no doubt that his mule smelt the fumes of hell. Passe Rose would willingly have sunk out of sight in the ground. It was no more to her purpose to he mistaken for a demon than to ho recognized as honest flesh and blood. But the sight of the monk’s countenance was too much for her prudence ; laughter rose to her lips like the spring sap in a young tree; and at its sound, rolling from his mule, which he abandoned with the precious pouch to the protection of the saints, Brother Dominic fled with all his speed, in search of more substantial succor.
Neither Passe Rose nor the mule waited his return. The latter retraced complacently its steps, while the former struggled back with less deliberation through the thicket. If she thought to regain her flock unnoticed, it were better to have risked her sandals on the stone ; for Gui of Tours, to whom the monk had related with such breath as was left him what had occurred, and who, next to seeing Passe Rose, was fain to see a demon in a shape so pleasing as that the monk described, having given Brother Dominic into the care of his followers, and dispatched one of the latter after the mule, forced his way through the copse and came upon Passe Rose herself, tying her sandals and still struggling with suppressed laughter.
Passe Rose blushed neither for her short dress nor her bare legs, but for pleasure and surprise, and at the same time the laughter she could no longer restrain burst again from her lips; for Gui of Tours, his head still full of the monk’s story, could not utter a word, and the confusion of his thought was plainly to be seen in his blue eyes. He stood like a statue, looking at the girl sitting among the oak leaves, tying her sandal and laughing, he was sure, at him ; and if for a moment lie himself doubted whether he had to do with flesh or spirit, Passe Rose might well have forgiven him in view of the merriment he afforded her, and the certainty she felt of her ability to set him right. But the sound of voices in the road brought her thought to the matter in hand.
“ Come thou with me,” she said, springing to her feet and laying hold of his fur-lined cloak. “ I have much to tell thee.”
The captain was surprised enough to see Passe Rose, but to be pulled by the sleeve was wholly beyond expectation. Gone was all thought of the king’s service ; horses, followers, and monk were as if they never had been. He saw nothing but the hand which had pushed his away in the wood of Hesbaye, now leading him on, and the eyes, then brimming with mischief, now divided between pleasure and fear, as they glanced hurriedly from his to the place whence the sounds came. Down the slope beside the tumbling brook, between alder and hazel, he went in a sort of daze, recovering his wits but slowly, while those of Passe Rose, trained by early experience not to scatter at every emergency, were busy in her service. Knowing nothing of the captain’s errand, she had to think only of herself, and every glance at his face settled her first impulse into resolve ; for she saw there something hard to define, but which warrants confidence without other credentials than a manner of speech or expression of feature.
“ Hark! ” she whispered, as they reached a shelter of black mulberry, where the stream dallied before spreading into the meadow. “ Hark ! ” she repeated, her hand on his arm, her finger at her red lips, and her ear turned to the road.
Meanwhile Brother Dominic, firmly persuaded that the captain had been carried off by the Evil One, having recovered his mule, argued it were better to proceed on their way. One, bolder than the others, a swaggering fellow from Wasconia, but faithful of heart and daring of arm, swore he would spit the Devil himself on his sword rather than return to Immaburg without the captain, and drove his horse through the bushes, sword in hand. But devil there was none to spit, nor any trace of the captain save his horse browsing by the roadside ; so that after beating about in vain, reluctantly and but half convinced, he was forced to agree with the others that if the captain were alive he was well able to take care of himself ; and if not, it were a bootless search and far better to fulfill the king’s service than to waste the king’s time. Therefore at last they resumed their journey, leading their master’s horse, Brother Dominic being well satisfied that he, a poor monk, had come out whole of soul and skin from a matter which had cost the king a captain.
The sound of voices had ceased, and from the click of retreating hoofs on the road, Passe Rose knew that all danger of pursuit was over. If she had ventured alone at midnight into the cell of the Saxon slave who had treated her so roughly, certainly she had no reason in broad noonday to fear one who had fastened her collar with such trembling fingers ; yet no sooner was all risk of interruption past than she withdrew her hand quickly from the sleeve where it rested, and the warm blood under her skin rose without leave, till her eyes swam and her ears were filled with its murmur; and under pretense of making sure the others had indeed gone, she rail out to drown her heart-beats in the brook’s prattle, and steady her thought in the fresh sunlight; angry with herself, yet not forgetting to look in the water mirror to see, not what was her outward appearance, but what secrets her rebel face was betraying.
Satisfied with what she saw, yet she commenced to be afraid, exactly why, she knew not, — only it seemed to her as if some stronger spirit, having suddenly got lodgment in her heart and driven her true self out, danced and sang in its new abode, though too timid to show itself. “ What ails thee ? ” she said, struggling to get possession of her own self, and forcing her feet forward as the juggler moved those of the puppets at St. Denis’s fair. Gui was just on the point of following her to see where she had gone, when the mulberry branches parted and tnere she stood among their down-covered leaves.
“ What did the monk say to thee ?” she asked almost in a whisper.
“ That a demon appeared to him in the thicket as he passed by,” replied Gui.
“Hast thou no fear of evil spirits?” said Passe Rose provokingly, and seeking to break the force of his gaze.
So serious was his gesture of scornful protest that she laughed aloud, and with her laugh came back her courage.
“ Sit down here, on this moss. Didst thou hear aught of this demon at the abbey ?”
“ Aye, indeed,” said the captain, obeying her; and he began to relate what had been told him of the abbot’s recovery and of the demon’s presence in Friedgis’s lodging.
Standing above him as he sat on the moss before her, Passe Rose imagined that she had her enemy, as it were, under her feet, but so great was her interest in what she heard that before he had finished she was sitting beside him, tying her loose sandal and listening intently to every word.
“ It is true,” she said, when he had finished. “ I was there myself, but as for issuing from the abbot’s body, that is impossible. I went in by the small gate that is north of the great court; ” then, looking into his face, “ of all this thou art the cause and no other.”
“ I ! ” exclaimed Gui of Tours.
“ Thou,” said Passe Rose, “ because of the collar thou gavest me. I lost it in the press on the day of the elevation of the relics, but as I went out,” — here Passe Rose frowned, remembering the manner of her exit, — “I saw it in the hand of the porter. Give it me he would not, except I came at night ready to tell him whence I had it ” —
“ Dog of a slave! ” interrupted the captain.
“ Wait,” said Passe Pose. “ Not that I cared for the collar,” she continued, blushing, “ but was vexed at the manner of losing it. So at midnight I knocked at the gate as the porter bade me, thinking to be gone before vigils.”
“ Alone ? ” asked the astonished captain.
“ Nay, my dagger was with me,” pursued Passe Rose gravely. “The rest is as thou knowest. I had but entered when the monk opened the door. Dieu ! we frightened each other well.”
“ But afterwards — the doors were barred.”
“ The Saxon hath a hole in the wall: I scraped my elbow in passing through,” said Passe Rose, showing her arm.
“ The like of this was never heard before,” murmured Gui, overcome with admiration for her courage, and pleased at the value she attached to the jewel.
Passe Rose, continuing her tale, related her consultation with the sorceress, her vigil in the chapel of St. Servais, and how she had gotten the clerk to read the verse in the gospels on the altar.
“Tell me now,” she said in conclusion, “ whence thou hadst the collar ; for I have sworn to the Saxon, and will not fail in my promise.”
“It came to me fairly by right of spoil in the division of Ehresberg,” replied Gui. “ More than this I know not.”
“ Then the Saxon spoke truly,” said Passe Rose eagerly, her thought reverting to the verse the clerk had read her. “ Is there no Saxon maiden in the king’s household ? The gospels said ‘ In kings’ houses.’ ”
Now Gui, who had been watching Passe Rose intently, although he heard her question, was thinking of other things.
“ By Martin ! ” she exclaimed, rising to her feet, “ I have a mind to go and see.”
The captain might well have laughed at this startling proposition, had not jealousy pictured consequences the mere thought of which pierced his heart.
“ The king’s house is no place for thee,” he replied softly, although at that moment Passe Rose looked to him worthy to sit in the queen’s seat.
“Why not?” said Passe Rose, turning quickly and fixing her eyes on his.
“ Because ” — stammered Gui, “ because,”— his eyes returned her gaze; she wished now she had not sought them, but withdraw her own she would not, — “ because — the king’s house is no place for maiden feet.”
“I fear no height!” she exclaimed impetuously, suddenly conscious that what she said was of no importance and that her eyes, like his, were speaking mightier words.
“ There are many who fain would never have climbed, and whom it were wiser to pity than to envy,” said Gui.
“ I pity no mountain top for the storms about its summit,” retorted Passe Rose hotly, endeavoring in vain now to avert what she knew his eyes could no longer contain.
“ And I swear if thou goest,” cried the youth passionately, leaping to his feet as a sword flashes from the scabbard, “ thou goest with me only.”
They stood for a moment face to face, trembling, each afraid to take a step in the new world God had suddenly created. Passe Rose struggled hard to repress the flush of pleasure which rose to her cheeks, — pleasure, however, which the captain did not discover, for the girl frowned, and, fool that he was, he thought her vexed. So at this frown he hesitated, and in an instant that new world disappeared like the sun behind a passing cloud. One would say both were vexed now in earnest, for Passe Rose turned, saying she would go her own way and do her own errand. Gui followed her moodily out from under the mulberries into the meadow, finding no word to utter.
“ What is thy business in Maestricht ? ” she said carelessly.
“ My faith,” answered the captain, faltering like a boy caught in wrongdoing, “ I came on the king’s business.”
“ On the king’s business ! ” exclaimed Passe Rose.
“ To inquire after the abbot’s health.”
“On the king’s business!” repeated Passe Rose angrily, “ and thou loiterest here with a flock of geese in a meadow ! ”
“ Ah,” —began the captain reproachfully, seizing her hand.
“ Nay, nay, nay,” cried Passe Rose, disengaging her hand, — for love will show itself unawares at the window of solicitude when it will not pass the door of its own pleasure, — “ get thee gone — thy men are off — what will the kingsay ?” Her alarm was unfeigned, and though it transformed the lover into the captain in a twinkling, the cloud was passed off from the sun. “ Fire and blood ! where were thy wits ? ” she exclaimed, as they scrambled up the slope together.
“ If they have but left me my horse,” said he, outrunning her.
But on breaking through the hedgerow they found the road deserted. Passe Rose was breathing hard, the slope being steep, and she made no effort to conceal either her anxiety or her vexation. But Gui had recovered the wits she taxed him with losing; for it was easier far to face the king in displeasure than a laughing maid who teased him.
“ There is nothing to fret over,” he said, as they hurried along the road to Maestricht. “ A horse is always to be bad in the king’s name, and I will catch the monk’s mule before it reaches the wood of Hesbaye. But listen,” — stopping short at the thought which flashed upon him, — “ the monk goes to the king with the tale of the demon in parchment.”
“ In parchment! ” gasped Passe Rose.
“ Aye, so the prior told me. Shall I stuff the scroll down his throat ? ” asked Gui eagerly.
“Nay,” said Passe Rose, reflecting, “ that will avail nothing, — he hath it by heart; ” then laughing aloud, “ let the bird fly till it suits us to cast the lure.”
“ I will tell him I slew the fiend,” suggested the captain, whose ideas multiplied.
“ Aye,” cried Passe Rose, clapping her hands, “ and for a token show him the collar,” and unfastening it from her neck she began to clasp it on his arm. It was loose enough at her throat, but it fitted the captain’s arm closely, — so closely that she was forced to press the skin from between the clasps to adjust it firmly. “ If thou art free to go among the queen’s household,” she said, bending her head over her task, “ watch the eyes of her women, for the eye which recognizes this will answer its sparkle. Ask also among them for a Saxon maid whose name is Rothilde, and when thou hast aught to tell me, come this way again.”
There was something so promising in these words that Gui was not only sure to come, but unable to go at all.
“ Where shall I find thee ? ” he whispered.
“ At the church of St. Sebastian, at vespers. Farewell, and hasten.”
He was loath to part so abruptly, but Passe Rose shook both her hands forbiddingly, and seeing him hesitate, stamped her foot so imperatively that he was fain to obey. Halfway down the hill, where the road curved, he turned to see her still standing watching him, and to catch her hand’s signal, “ Farewell, and hasten.”
Thus it was that Passe Rose, in spite of the fay’s injunction, parted voluntarily with her collar. As for the captain, it was not until after rejoining his companions in the wood of Hesbaye, as the towers of Immaburg appeared among the oak-trees, that in rehearsing for the twentieth time his interview with the demon he recollected there was any other maid in the world beside Passe Rose, or that he had been bidden to seek a Saxon whose name was Rothilde.
“ Nay, that is impossible,” he said to himself, thinking of Rothilde, the queen’s favorite, whom the king had refused his father, Robert of Tours, in marriage. “ Nay, that is impossible.”
Arthur Sherburne Hardy.