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Title: The Damsel and the Sage - A Woman's Whimsies
Author: Glyn, Elinor, 1864-1943
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE DAMSEL

AND

THE SAGE


THE DAMSEL

AND

THE SAGE

A WOMAN'S WHIMSIES

BY ELINOR GLYN


HARPER &
BROTHERS
PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK
& LONDON
MDCCCCIII


Copyright, 1903, by ELINOR GLYN.

_All rights reserved._

Published October, 1903.



TO

THE SUN'S RAYS



_A tree stood alone surrounded by high and low hills. It could be
observed from all sides, and it appeared different from each elevation._

_The tree was the same, only the point of view differed._

_Everything depends upon the point of view._

       *       *       *       *       *

"_And as to the meaning, it's what you please._"

_C. S. C._



THE DAMSEL AND THE SAGE


And the Damsel said to the Sage:

"Now, what is life? And why does the fruit taste bitter in the mouth?"

And the Sage answered, as he stepped from his cave:

"My child, there was once a man who had two ears like other people. They
were naturally necessary for his enjoyment of the day. But one of these
ears offended his head. It behaved with stupidity, thinking thereby to
enhance its value to him--it heard too much. Oh, it conducted itself
with a gross stupidity. 'Out upon you,' cried the man; 'since you have
overstepped the limit of the functions of an ear, I shall cut you from
my head!' And so, without hesitation, he took a sword and accomplished
the deed. The poor ear then lay upon the ground bleeding, and the man
went about with a mutilated head."

"And what was the good of all that?" said the Damsel.

"There was no good in it," replied the Sage. "But he was a man, and he
had punished the too-fond-and-foolish ear--also he hoped a new and more
suitable one would grow in its place. 'Change,' he said, 'was a thing to
be welcomed.'"

"And tell me, Sage, what became of the ear?" asked the Damsel.

"The ear fared better. Another man of greater shrewdness came along,
and, although he had two ears of his own, he said, 'A third will not
come amiss,' and he picked up the ear and heard with three ears instead
of two. So he became knowing and clever because of the information he
acquired in this way. The grafted ear grew and flourished, and, in spite
of its remaining abnormal, it obtained a certain enjoyment out of
existence."

"But who _really_ benefited by all this?" inquired the Damsel.

"No one," said the Sage; "the first man went about with only one ear;
the second man made himself remarkable with three--and the cut-off ear,
although alive and successful, felt itself an excrescence."

"Then what _could_ be the pleasure of it all?" demanded the Damsel.

"Out upon _you_!" exclaimed the Sage, in a passion. "You asked me what
was life--and why the fruit tasted bitter in the mouth? I have answered
you."

And he went back into his cave and barred the door.

The Damsel sat down upon a stone outside.

"It seems to me that men are fools," she said, and she clapped her hands
to her two ears. "When I am angry and offended with one of you, I will
cut the ear from off the head of some one else."

And she picked up an apple and ate it. And it tasted sweet.

       *       *       *       *       *

_A man will often fling away a woman who has wronged him although in
doing so he is deeply hurting himself. A woman will forgive a man who
has wronged her because her own personal pleasure in him is greater than
her outraged pride. Hence women are more unconscious philosophers than
men._

       *       *       *       *       *

The Damsel returned again to the cave of the Sage. There were other
questions she wished to ask about life. The door was hard to push ajar,
but at last she obtained entrance.

"What do you want now?" he demanded, with a voice of grumbling. "Were
you not content with my last utterances?"

"Yes--and no," said the Damsel. "I came to quite other conclusions
myself. I would have kept the ear on my head, since cutting one off,
however it had angered me, would have upset my own comfort."

"We have finished with that matter now," said the Sage, showing signs of
impatience--he was still a man. "What next?"

"I want to know," said the Damsel, "why a woman who has Diamonds and
Pearls and Emeralds and Rubies in her possession should set such store
upon a Topaz--a yellow Topaz--the color she dislikes--and a Topaz of
uneven temper and peculiar properties. She never wears this stone that
it does not bruise her, now her neck, now her arm. It is restless and
slips from its chain. It will not remain in the case with the other
jewels. And at last she has lost it--she fears for good and all. And so
now all the other stones, which seemed very well in their way, have
grown of even less value in her eyes, and she can only lament the loss
of her Topaz. 'I am brilliant,' cries the Diamond. 'I set off your eyes,
and I love you.' 'I am soft and caressing,' whispers the Pearl. 'I lie
close to your white skin and keep it cool, and I love you.' 'I am
witty,' laughs the Emerald. 'I make your thoughts flash, and I love
you.' 'I am the color of blood, and I would die for you,' chants the
Ruby, 'and I love you.' And all these things the stones say all the day
to her, and yet the woman only listens with half an ear, and their words
have no effect upon her because of the charm of this tiresome Topaz.
What does it all mean, Sage?"

"It means, first of all," said the Sage, "that the woman is a fool, as
what is the value of a Topaz in comparison with a Diamond or a Ruby? It
means, secondly, that the Topaz is a greater fool, because it would be
more agreeable surely to lie close to the woman's soft neck than to be
picked up by any stranger or lie neglected in the dust. But, above and
beyond everything, it means that cherries are ripest when out of reach,
and that the whole world is full of fools of either opinion, who do not
know when they are well off."

Upon which the Sage, with his usual lack of manners, retired into his
cave and slammed his door.

The Damsel sat down upon the rock and came again to her own conclusions.
The stone that apparently was a Topaz was in reality a yellow Diamond of
great rarity and worth, and that was why the woman valued it so highly.
Her instincts were stronger than her reason. But if she had not made
herself so cheap by adoring the stone, it would not have become restless
and she would not have lost it. Even stones cannot stand too much honey.
If ever the woman should find this yellow Diamond again she must be told
to keep it in a cool box and not caress it or place it above the others.

The Damsel thought aloud and the Sage heard her--he strode forth in a
rage.

"Why do you come here demanding my advice if you moralize yourself? Out
upon you again!" he thundered. "The woman will not find her Topaz, which
is now revelling in the sun of freedom and will soon go down into
nothingness and be forgotten. And after lamenting until her eyes look
gaunt, the woman will begin to see some beauty in a Sapphire and become
consoled, and so all will be well."

"I do not care what you say," said the Damsel. "_It is better to have
what one wants one's self than to try and learn to like anything else
that other people think better._"

And she refastened a bracelet with great care--which contained two
cat's-eyes of no value--as she went on her way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Seize the occasion lest it pass thee by and fall into the lap of
another.

       *       *       *       *       *

No man likes shooting tame rabbits.

       *       *       *       *       *

Most men like the hunt more than the quarry--therefore the wise woman is
elusive.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a good hostess who never inclines her guests unconsciously to look
at the clock.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some things cause pride, some pleasure. There is only one thing which
causes infinite bliss and oblivion of time, and this one thing, unless
bound with chains, is called immoral.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a wise man who knows when he is happy and can appreciate the
divine bliss of the tangible _now_. Most of us retrospect or anticipate
and so lose the present.

       *       *       *       *       *

Seize Love at whatever age he comes to you--if you can avoid being
ridiculous.

       *       *       *       *       *

"More questions?" exclaimed the Sage, as the Damsel tapped gently upon
the door of his cave.

"Women are never satisfied; they are as restless as the sea, and when
they have received all the best advice they invariably follow their own
inclinations."

"It was not to discuss women," replied the Damsel, timidly; "this time
it is of a man I wish to ask."

"Begin, then, and have done quickly," growled the Sage, averting his
head. The Damsel had an outline against the sky which caused ideas not
tranquillizing for Hermits.

"I wish to know why a man who possessed the most beautiful and noble
Bird of Paradise--a bird of rare plumage and wonderful qualities--should
suddenly see more beauty in an ordinary Cockatoo, whose only attraction
was its yellow feathers--a Cockatoo that screamed monotonously as it
swung backward and forward on its perch, and would eat sugar out of the
hand of any stranger while it cried 'Pretty Poll.' The man could not
afford to buy this creature also, so he deliberately sold his exquisite
Bird of Paradise to a person called Circumstance and with the money
became the possessor of the Cockatoo, who pierced the drums of his ears
with its eternal 'Pretty Poll' and wearied his sight with its yellow
feathers. Why did the man do this?"

The Sage laughed at so simple a question.

"Because he was a man, and even a screaming Cockatoo belonging to some
one else has more charm at times than the most divine Bird of Paradise
belonging to himself."

"But was it worth while to sell this rare thing for a very ordinary
one?" demanded the Damsel.

"Certainly not," said the Sage, impatiently. "What childish questions
you ask! The thing was a folly on the face of it; but, as I said before,
he was a man--and the Cockatoo belonged to some one else!"

"Then what will happen now?" asked the Damsel, placing herself in the
direction in which the Sage had turned his head.

"The Bird of Paradise will still be the most beautiful and glorious and
desirable bird in the world; and when the man realizes he has lost it
forever he will begin to value its every feather, and will spend his
days in comparing all its remembered perfections and advantages with the
screams and the yellow feathers of the Cockatoo."

"And what will the Cockatoo do?" inquired the Damsel.

"It will probably continue to shriek 'Pretty Poll,' and eat sugar out of
the hand of any stranger," replied the Sage, plucking his heard.

"And the man?"

"The man will go on telling every one he has bought the most divine bird
in the world, in the hope that some one will offer him a large sum of
money for it. The only person who gains in the affair is the Bird of
Paradise, who, instead of being caged as when in the possession of the
man, is absolutely free to fly with its new master, Circumstance, who
only seeks to please and soothe this glorious bird and make life fair
for it."

"But what will be the very end?" persisted the Damsel.

The Sage turned and looked full at her. He was angry with her
importunity and would have answered sternly.

Then he saw that the ripples of her hair were golden and his voice
softened.

"That will depend--upon Circumstance," he replied, and he closed his
door softly in her face.

       *       *       *       *       *

_A man wishes and a woman wishes, but Circumstance frequently wins the
game._

       *       *       *       *       *

Life is short--avoid causing yawns.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is possible for a woman to retain the amorous affection of a man for
many years--if he only sees her for the two best hours out of each
twenty-four.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Please open the door, Sage," entreated the Damsel, "and I will tell you
a story."

The Sage pushed it ajar with his foot, but he did not come out.

"There was once upon a time a man," she said, "who unexpectedly and for
no apparent reason became the possessor of a Tiger. It had been coveted
by numbers of people and was of a certain value and beauty. It had an
infinite variety of tricks. It was learned in caresses. It was fierce,
and gentle, and it could love passionately. Altogether a large price
would have been offered the man for it by many others if he had wished
to sell it. In the beginning he had greatly valued the possession of
this strange beast, and had fed it with his own hand. The little anxiety
as to whether it would eat him or not, or rush away, had kept him
interested. But gradually, as he became certain the Tiger adored him,
and would show none but velvet claws and make only purring sounds, his
keenness waned. He still loved it, but certainty is monotonous, and his
eyes wandered to other objects. 'The Tiger is nothing but a domestic
cat,' he said; 'I will pet and caress it when the mood takes me, and for
the rest of the time it can purr to itself by the fire.' At last one
day, after the Tiger was especially gracious and had purred with all
essence of love, the man yawned. 'It is really a charming beast,' he
said, 'but it is always the same; and then he went away and forgot even
to feed it. The Tiger felt hungry and restless. Its quietness and
gentleness became less apparent. The man on his travels chanced to think
of it and sent it a biscuit. So the Tiger waited, and when the man
returned and expected the usual docile caresses, it bit his hand. 'Vile
beast!' said the man. 'Have I not fed and kept you for weeks, and now
you bite my hand!' Now tell me, Sage, which was right--the man or the
Tiger?"

"Both, and neither," said the Sage, decidedly. "The man was only obeying
the eternal law in finding what he was sure of monotonous; but he
mistook the nature of the beast he had to deal with. Tigers are not of
the species that can ever be really monotonous, if he had known. The
Tiger was foolish to allow its true nature to be so disguised by its
love for the man that he was deceived into looking upon it as a domestic
cat. It thought to please him thereby and so lost its hold."

"And what will be the end?" asked the Damsel.

"The man's hand will smart to the end of his life, and he will never
secure another Tiger. And the Tiger will go elsewhere and console itself
by letting its natural instincts have full play. It will not be foolish
a second time."

But the Damsel's conclusion was different.

"No," she said. "The man's hand will heal up, and the Tiger will caress
him and make him forget the bite, and they will love each other to
eternity because they have both realized their own stupidity."

And without speaking further she allowed the Sage to close the door.

       *       *       *       *       *

_It is wiser to know the species one is playing with: do not offer
Tigers hay--or Antelopes joints of meat._

       *       *       *       *       *

Next day, in a pouring shower of rain, the Damsel knocked at the Sage's
door. It was for shelter, she said, this time, until the storm should
pass.

The Sage was fairly gracious, and to while away the time the Damsel
began a story.

"A man once owned a brown Sparrow. It had no attractions, and it made a
continuous and wearying noise as it chattered under the eaves. It did
the same thing every day, and had monotonous domestic habits that often
greatly irritated the man, but--he was accustomed to it, and did not
complain. After several years a travelling Showman came along; he had a
large aviary of birds of all sorts, some for sale, some not. Among them
was a glorious Humming Bird of wonderful brilliancy and plumage, a
creature full of beauty and grace and charm and elegance. The man became
passionately attached to it; he was ready to perpetrate any folly for
the sake of obtaining possession of it, and indeed he did commit numbers
of regrettable actions, and at last stole the bird from the Showman and
carried it away. Then, in a foreign palace, for a short while he
revelled in its beauty and the joy of owning it. The Humming Bird did
its best to be continually charming, but it felt its false position. And
the worry and annoyance of concealing the theft from the Showman, and
the different food the Humming Bird required, and the care that had to
be taken of it, at last began to weary the man. He chafed and was often
disagreeable to it, although he realized its glory and beauty and the
feather it was in his cap. Finally, one day, in a fit of desperation,
the man let the Humming Bird fly, and crept back home to the homely
brown Sparrow, with its irritating noises and utter want of beauty. Why
was this, Sage?"

The Sage had not to think long.

"Custom, my child," he said. "Custom forges stronger chains than the
finest plumage of a Humming Bird. The man had to put himself out and
exert himself to retain the Humming Bird in a way that was not agreeable
to his self-love, whereas the brown Sparrow lived on always the same,
causing him no trouble, and custom had deadened the sense of its want of
charm."

"Then it seems to me it was rather hard upon the poor Humming Bird!"
said the Damsel.

"It is always hard upon the Humming Birds," replied the Sage, and his
voice was quite sad.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rain did not cease for a long time. It was more than an hour before
the Damsel left the cave.

       *       *       *       *       *

_If you are a Humming Bird it is wiser for you to remain in the
possession of the Travelling Showman._

       *       *       *       *       *

A long period elapsed after this before the Damsel again tapped at the
Sage's door. He looked out morning and evening, and attributed his lack
of enthusiasm for his devotions to an attack of rheumatism from the damp
of his cave. At last, one morning he spied her sauntering slowly up the
hill, and he retired into the back of his cell, and the Damsel had to
knock twice before he opened the window shutter. She was in a gay mood,
and demanded a story, so the Sage began:

"There was once upon a time a Fish with glittering scales who swam about
in a deep river. It had been tempted by the flies of many Fishermen,
but had laughed at them all and swam away, just under the surface of the
water, so that the sun might shine on its glittering scales to please
the eyes of the Fishermen and to excite their desire to secure it. It
was a Fish who laughed a good deal at life. But one fine day a new
Angler came along; he was young and beautiful, and seemed lazy and
happy, and not particularly anxious to throw the line. The Fish peeped
at him from the sheltering shadow of a rock. 'This is the most perfect
specimen of a Fisherman I have ever seen,' it said to itself. 'I could
almost believe it would be agreeable to swallow the fly and let him land
me and put me in his basket.' The young Fisherman threw the line, and
the sun caught the glittering scales of the Fish at that moment. The
laziness vanished from the Fisherman, and he began to have a strong
desire to secure the Fish.

"He fished for some time, and the Fish swam backward and forward, making
up its mind. It saw the hook under the fly, but the attraction of the
Angler growing stronger and stronger, at last it deliberately decided to
come up and bite. 'I know all the emotions of swimming on the surface
and letting my scales shine in the sun,' it mused, 'but I know nothing
about the bank and the basket, and perhaps the tales that are drilled
into the heads of us Fish from infancy about suffocation and exhaustion
are not true.' And it mused again: 'He is a perfectly beautiful
Fisherman and looks kind, and I want to be closer to him and let him
touch my glittering scales. After all, one ought to know everything
before one dies.'

"So, its heart beating and its eyes melting, the Fish deliberately rose
to the surface and swallowed the fly. The hook caught in a gristly place
and did not hurt much, and the novel experience of being pulled onto the
green meadow delighted the Fish. It saw the Fisherman close, and felt
his hands as he tenderly disengaged the hook. He was full of joy and
pride at securing the difficult Fish and admired its scales. He talked
aloud and told it how bright he found it, and he was altogether charming
and delightful, and the Fish adored him and was glad it had been caught.

"Then after some time of this admiration and dalliance, the Fisherman
put it in the basket among the cool rushes. The Fish lay quiet, still
content. It had not yet begun to pant. For an hour almost the Fisherman
gloried in his catch. He opened the lid frequently and smiled at the
Fish.

"Then he lay down on the bank beside the basket and let his rod float
idly in the stream. The sun was warm and pleasant.

"'I wish,' he said to himself, 'after all, I had not secured the Fish
yet; the throwing of the fly and the excitement of trying to catch the
creature are better fun than having it safely landed and lying in the
basket,' and he yawned, and his eyes gradually closed and he slept.

"Now the Fish heard very plainly what he had said. Tell me, Damsel--you
who ask questions and answer them finally yourself--tell me, What did
the Fish do?"

The Damsel mused a moment. She stirred with her white fingers the water
in the basin of the fountain that sprang from the rock close by. Then
she looked at the Sage from under the shadow of her brows and answered,
thoughtfully:

"The Fish was stunned at first by this truth being uttered so near it.
It suddenly realized what it had done and what it had lost. 'I, who swam
about freely and showed my glittering scales in the sun, am now caught
and in a basket, with no prospect but suffocation and death in front of
me,' it said to itself. 'I could have even supported that, and the
knowledge that my scales will become dull and unattractive in the near
future, if the Fisherman had only continued to lift the lid and admire
me a little longer.' And it sighed and began to feel the sense of
suffocation. But it was a Fish of great determination and resources. 'I
have learned my lesson,' it gasped; 'the Fisherman has taught it to me
himself. Now I will make a great jump and try to get out of the basket.'

"So it jumped and opened the lid. The Fisherman stirred in his sleep and
put out his hand vaguely to close it again, but he was too sleepy to
fasten the catch, and with less noise the Fish bounced up again and
succeeded in floundering upon the grass. It lay panting and in great
distress, but it looked at the beautiful Angler with regret. He was so
beautiful and so desirable. 'I could almost stay now,' the Fish sighed.
Then it braced itself up and gave one more bound, and this time reached
the rock at the edge of the stream.

"Again the Fisherman awoke, and now casually, with his eyes still
closed, fastened up the basket before he slept again; but the Fish with
its third bound reached the river, and darted out into the middle of the
stream.

"'Good-bye, Beautiful Angler!' it said, sadly. 'You were sweet, but you
have taught me a lesson, and freedom is sweeter.'

"The splash of its reaching the water fully awakened the Fisherman, but
he saw the basket with the lid shut, and had no anxieties until his eye
caught the pink of the water where the Fish sheltered under the rock.
Its gill was still bleeding from the hook wound, and colored a circle
round it. Then he opened the lid and found the basket empty.

"'Good-bye,' said the Fish. 'Your wish has been granted, and your
pleasure can begin all over again!'

"But the Fisherman suddenly realized that his rod, while he slept, had
fallen into the river, and was floating away down the stream.

"'Good-bye again,' said the Fish; 'I have suffered, but I have now
experience, and I am grateful to you, and my gill will heal up, and I
will smile at you sometimes from just under the surface of the water,
and so all is well!' And it flashed its glittering scales in the sun
before it darted away out of sight in the strong current."

And the Damsel folded her hands and looked into distance.

"Thank you, Damsel," said the Sage, gently for him; "but the Fisherman
could procure another rod--rods are not rarities. What then?"

"That would be for another day," said the Damsel; "and--for another
Fish!" And she tripped away down the hill, and was deaf to the Sage, who
gruffly called after her.

       *       *       *       *       *

_When you have caught your Fish, it may be wiser to cook it and eat
it._

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun was setting when the Damsel next came to the Cave. She had a pet
falcon with her, and kept caressing it as she propounded her question.

"There lived a woman in a Castle who had three Knights devoted to her.
She loved one, and her vanity was pleased with the other two. While she
continued to play with them all, they all loved her to distraction; but
presently her preference for the one Knight became evident, and the two
others, after doing their utmost to supplant the third without success,
at last left the Castle and rode away. They were no sooner gone, and
things had become quiet, and no combats occurred to interrupt the
lovers' intercourse, when the chosen Knight began to weary, and he, too,
at last rode away, although before he had been the most ardent of all.
Why was this, Sage? And what should the woman do?"

"It was because the Knight had won the prize and the woman gave him no
trouble to keep it," replied the Sage. "He was bound to weary. When a
man's profession is fighting and he has fought hard and succeeded, after
sufficient rest he wishes to fight again. So if the woman wants her
lover back, she had better first summon the other two."

For once the Damsel had nothing to say, and had no excuse to remain
longer in the cave.

The Sage, however, was not in the mind to let her go so soon, so he
began a question:

"Why do you caress that bird so much? It appears completely indifferent
to you. Surely that is waste of time?"

"It is agreeable to waste time," replied the Damsel.

"Upon an insensible object?"

"Yes."

"More so than if it returned your caresses?"

"Probably--there is the speculation. It might one day respond, while
certainly if it repaid warmly my love now, one day it would not. Nothing
lasts in this world. You have told me so yourself."

The Sage was nettled.

"Yes, there is one thing that lasts, that is friendship," he said.

"Friendship!" exclaimed the Damsel; "but that is not made up of
caresses. It does not make the heart beat."

"We were not talking of beating hearts," said the Sage, sententiously.

"Very well. Good-bye, then, Sage," laughed the Damsel. "You must think
of more stories for me before I come again."

And, continuing to caress the falcon, she walked away, stately and fair,
into the setting sun.

When she had gone the Sage wondered why there was no twilight that
evening, and why it had suddenly become night.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Most men prefer to possess something that the other men want._

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be a peaceful world if we could only realize that the fever of
love is like other fevers. It comes to a crisis, and the patient either
dies or is cured. It cannot last at the same point forever.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Damsel came back again next day. She had remarked, the day she spent
with him in the rain, that the Sage was not so old or so uncomely as she
had at first supposed. "If he were to shave off his beard and wear a
velvet doublet, he would look as well as many a cavalier of the Court,"
she mused. And she called out before she reached the door:

"Sage, I have come back because I want to ask you just another question.
Will you not come out and sit in the sun while you answer?"

So the Sage advanced in a recalcitrant manner, but he would not sit
down beside her.

Then the Damsel began:

"A woman once possessed a ball of silk. It was of so fine and rare a
kind that, although of many thousand yards, it took up no space, and she
unwound it daily for her pleasure without any appreciable difference in
the size of the ball. At last she suddenly fancied she perceived some
alteration. It came upon her as a shock, but still she continued to use
the silk with the casual idea that a thing she had employed so long
_must_ go on forever. Then again, in about a week, there came another
shock. The ball was certainly smaller, and felt cold and hard and firm.
The thought came to her, 'What if it should not be silk all through and
I have come to the end of matters? What shall I do?' Now tell me, Sage,
should the woman go on to the end and find perhaps a stone? Or should
she try to rewind the silk? Which is the best course?"

The Damsel took up the Sage's staff, which he had dropped for the
moment, and with its point she drew geometrical figures in the sand. But
the sun made shadows with her eyelashes, and the Sage felt his voice
tremble, so he answered, tartly:

"That would depend upon the nature of the woman. If she continues to
unwind the silk she will certainly find a piece of adamant, which has
been cunningly covered with this rare, soft substance. If she tries to
rewind, she will discover the thread has become tangled, and the ball
can never again look smooth and even as before. She must choose which
she would prefer, a clean piece of adamant or an uneven ball of silk."

"But that is no answer to my question," said the Damsel, pouting. "I
asked which must she do for the best."

"Neither is better nor worse!" replied the Sage with asperity. "And
there is no best."

"You are quite wrong, Sage," returned the Damsel. "There is a third
course. She can cut the thread and leave the ball as it is, a coating of
smooth silk still--and an undiscovered possibility inside."

"You are too much for me!" exclaimed the Sage in a fury. "Answer your
own questions, to begin with, in future! I will have no more of you!"
and he went into his cave and ostentatiously fastened the door.

The Damsel smiled to herself and continued to draw geometrical figures
with the point of the Sage's staff in the sand.

       *       *       *       *       *

_There are always three courses in life: the good, the bad, and
the--indifferent. The good gives you calm, and makes you sleep; the bad
gives you emotions, and makes you weep; and the indifferent gives you no
satisfaction, and makes you yawn, so--choose wisely._

       *       *       *       *       *

One can swear to be faithful eternally, but how can one swear to love
eternally? The one is a question of will, the other a sentiment beyond
all human control. One might as sensibly swear to keep the wind in the
south, or the sun from setting!

       *       *       *       *       *

And yet we swear both vows--and break both vows.

       *       *       *       *       *

A woman is always hardest upon her own sins, committed by others.

A man is sometimes lenient to them.

A fool can win the love of a man, but it requires a woman of resources
to keep it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Damsel did not go away from the cave, as was her custom. She
continued to draw geometrical figures in the sand. Presently she called
to the Sage once more.

"Come out again, dear Sage! Listen, I have something more to say."

He unfastened the window and stood leaning on the sill.

"Well?" he said, sternly. "Well?"

"A Ring Dove once was owned by a man. It was the sweetest and most
gentle of birds, besides being extremely beautiful. It adored the man
and lived contentedly in its cage. The perches, which the man had had
prepared especially for it, were endeared to it from association with
the happy hours when it had been caressed by the man. Altogether to it
the cage appeared a palace, and it lived content.

"The man was a brutal creature, more or less, and at last he cruelly
ill-treated the Ring Dove, and exalted a Cuckoo in its place. This
conduct greatly saddened the sweet Dove, but it over and over again
forgave its tormentor, so great was its love, and even saw the Cuckoo
advanced to the highest honors without anger, only a bleeding heart. How
long things would have continued in this way no one knows; but the man
suddenly gave the Cuckoo the Ring Dove's cage, and let the Cuckoo sleep
on the perches which the Dove was accustomed to consider its very own.
This overcame the gentle Dove. Its broken heart mended, and it flew
away. Tell me, Sage, why did this action cure the Dove of its great love
for the man, when it had borne all the blows and cruelty without
resentment?"

"That is an easy question to answer," replied the Sage. "The Dove was
really growing tired and seized this as a good opportunity to be off."

"Oh, how little you know of the female sex, even of Doves!" laughed the
Damsel. "I can give you the true reason myself. It was the bad taste of
the man in giving the Cuckoo the cage and perches of the Ring Dove,
which he had consecrated to her. That cured her, and enabled her to fly
away."

And the Damsel curtsied to the Sage and sauntered off, laughing and
looking back over her shoulder.

       *       *       *       *       *

_An action committed in bad taste is more curing and disillusionizing to
Love than the cruelest blows of rage and hate._

       *       *       *       *       *

A man would often be the lover of his wife--if he were married to some
one else.

       *       *       *       *       *

There come moments in life when we regret the old gods.

       *       *       *       *       *

Time and place--temperature and temperament--and after the sunset the
night--and then to-morrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the winter passed and the Damsel remained at the Court and the Sage
in his cave. Both found the days long and their occupation insufficient.

At last, when spring came, the Damsel again mounted the hill one morning
before dawn and tapped at the Sage's door.

His heart gave a bound, and he flew to open it without more ado.

"So you have come back?" he said; and his voice was eager, though it was
a gray light and he could not see her plainly.

"Yes," said she; "I want you to tell me one more story of life before I
go on a long voyage."

So the Sage began:

"There was once upon a time a man of half-measures, whose brain was
filled with dreams for his own glory, and he possessed a woman of flesh
and blood, who loved him, and would have turned the dreams into
realities. But _because_ he was happy with her, and because her hair was
black and her eyes were green, and her flesh like alabaster, he said to
himself, 'This is a fiend and a vampire. Nothing human can be so
delectable.' So he ran a stake through her body, and buried her at the
cross-roads. Then he found life an emptiness, and went down into
nothingness and was forgotten--"

"Oh, hush, Sage!" said the Damsel, trembling; "I wish to hear no more.
Come, shave off your beard, and put on a velvet doublet, and return
with me to the Court. See, life is short, and I am fair."

And the Sage suddenly felt he had found the philosopher's stone, and
knew the secret he had come into the wilds to find.

So he went back to his cave, and shaved his beard, and donned a velvet
doublet, long since lain by in lavender. And he took the Damsel by the
hand, and they gladly ran down the hill.

And the zephyrs whispered, and the day dawned, and all the world smiled
young--and gay.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Remember the tangible now._

"_Sic transit gloria mundi!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

BY MRS. HUMPHRY WARD

LADY ROSE'S DAUGHTER. Illustrated by HOWARD CHANDLER CHRISTY. Post 8vo,
Ornamented Cloth, $1.50.

This is Mrs. Humphry Ward's latest novel. It has been hailed as
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called "the most appealing type of heroine in English fiction."

"A story that must be read."--_New York Sun._

"Vividly alive from the first line."--_Chicago Record-Herald._

"The most marvellous work of its wonderful author."--_New York World._

"Absolutely different from anything else that has ever appeared in
fiction."--_Brooklyn Eagle._

"Love is not here the sentimental emotion of the ordinary novel or play,
but the power that purges the weaknesses and vivifies the dormant
nobilities of men and women."--_The Academy_, London, England.

"Quite sure to be the most widely and most highly considered book of the
year."--_Chicago Evening Post._

"The story is the combat between two powers of a brilliant woman's
nature. Sometimes you are sure the lawless, the vagabond, and the
intriguing side will win. But it doesn't...."--_Boston Transcript._

       *       *       *       *       *

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       *       *       *       *       *

BY HENRY SETON MERRIMAN

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A new novel by Henry Seton Merriman is always eagerly welcomed by every
reader of fiction. This is a story of intrigue, conspiracy, and exciting
adventure among the political factions of the great European nations.
One of the scenes is in Russia at the time of the assassination of the
Czar. The _attachés_ of the various Foreign Offices play an important
part. It is full of exciting, dramatic situations, most of which centre
around the love interest of the story--the love of a young English
diplomatist for the beautiful Countess Wanda of Warsaw.

       *       *       *       *       *

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON

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BY ROBERT W. CHAMBERS

THE MAID-AT-ARMS. Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy. Post 8vo,
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Mr. Chambers has long since won a most enviable position among
contemporary novelists. The great popular success of "Cardigan" makes
this present novel of unusual interest to all readers of fiction. It is
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deals with the conspiracy of the great New York land-owners and the
subjugation of New York Province to the British. It is a story with a
fascinating love interest, and is alive with exciting incident and
adventure. Some of the characters of "Cardigan" reappear in this new
novel.

       *       *       *       *       *

HARPER & BROTHERS, Publishers
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BY JOHN FOX, JR.


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The story is well worth careful reading for its literary art and its
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