Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Fleur and Blanchefleur
Author: Leighton, Mrs.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fleur and Blanchefleur" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



_The Sweet and Touching Tale of_

FLEUR & BLANCHEFLEUR

[Illustration]



_The Sweet and Touching Tale of_
FLEUR & BLANCHEFLEUR

A Mediæval Legend Translated from
the French by Mrs. Leighton, with
Thirty-seven Coloured Illustrations by
Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

[Illustration]

PUBLISHED IN LONDON BY
DANIEL O'CONNOR, AT 90 GREAT
RUSSELL STREET, W.C.1. 1922



_The Sweet and Touching Tale of_

FLEUR & BLANCHEFLEUR



_Chapter I_


It is recorded by ancient chronicles that in the year of grace 624 a
certain heathen King of Spain, Fenis by name, whose Queen was also a
heathen, crossed over the sea with a mighty host into Christendom, and
there, in the space of three days, made such havoc of the land, with
destruction of towns, churches, and cloisters, that for full thirty
miles from the shore where he had landed, not a human being or
habitation was left to show where happy homes had been. Moreover, this
King Fenis, while lading his ships with the booty thus ill-got, posted
forty of his men in ambush over against the highway, there to lie in
wait for any pilgrims who might pass by; and when presently a weary
pilgrim band was seen toiling down the steep slope of a mountain nigh at
hand, the forty thieves rushed out upon the pilgrims and threatened them
with death, to escape which they readily parted with their goods; one
only of the band showed fight, and he was a Count of France, conducting
his daughter, a new-made widow, to the shrine of St. James at
Compostella, where she had vowed to offer up prayer for her lord, lately
slain in battle.

Bravely this Count fought, but all in vain, for, overborne by numbers,
he was killed, and his daughter carried a captive to the heathen King
Fenis, who, straightway taking ship, sailed back to Spain, and, when
King Fenis was come home again, he divided the spoil among his soldiery,
giving a portion to each man according to his rank; but the Christian
lady he bestowed upon his Queen, who, long desirous of such an
attendant, received her gladly into the royal apartments, suffering her
to retain her Christian creed: in return for this kindness, the captive
lady did good service, waiting faithfully both late and early on the
Queen, and giving her instruction in the French tongue. Moreover, by her
gentleness, wisdom, and discretion, this Christian captive won all
hearts in the heathen court.

[Illustration]

Now it happened that on Palm Sunday after these things the Queen gave
birth to a lovely boy, whom the learned heathen masters, because he was
born in the season of flowers, named Fleur; [more correctly 'Floire.']
and on that same Palm Sunday the Christian captive lady bore a daughter,
whom with her own hands she baptized, giving her the name of
Blanchefleur.

At the birth of his son, King Fenis rejoiced, and made great
festivities; also he commanded that the infant should be nursed by a
heathen, but brought up by the Christian captive, who, thus being
charged with both children, tended them with such loving care that she
scarce knew which was dearest to her, the King's son or her own
daughter. So tended, the two children grew to be the sweetest and
loveliest ever seen, and such was the love that they bore each one to
the other that they could not endure to be parted.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



_Chapter II_


[Illustration]

When some time had passed and King Fenis marked that the intelligence of
his son was now beginning to awake, he called the child to him and said:
'Fleur, now must you go diligently to school and learn of the wise
Master Gaidon.' But for all answer to this command Fleur burst into
tears, crying out:

'Father! neither reading, writing, nor aught else will I learn, except I
have Blanchefleur to be my fellow scholar.' To this the king consented,
so the two children with great joy went hand in hand to school, and
there by mutual aid and encouragement so quickly acquired the rudiments
of learning that in no long time they were able to exchange love
letters, which, being written in the Latin tongue, were not understood
by the other scholars.

[Illustration]

The tender love which, thus growing with their growth, knit the hearts
of these two children together, began, however, to cause displeasure to
the King, who, fearing lest it should tend to thwart his plan of wedding
his son to a royal bride, determined to part the two, if by fair
means--well! if not, then by Blanchefleur's death; but the Queen, in
dread that her son might die of grief, pled with her lord to spare
Blanchefleur, saying: 'Sir! rather command Master Gaidon, under pretext
of failing health, to give up his charge. Thus shall occasion be made
for sending Fleur to school at Montorio, where my aunt is Duchess, and
among the many high-born maidens there assembled, haply he may find
another love.'

[Illustration]

To this plan the King consented, yet found not in it the help he hoped;
for, on hearing that he was to go to Montorio, leaving his Blanchefleur
at home to tend her mother, who, like Master Gaidon, was commanded to
feign herself sick, Fleur became so frantic with grief that, to calm his
transports, the King and Queen were fain to promise that, in two weeks'
time, Blanchefleur should follow him to Montorio.

Somewhat comforted by this promise, Fleur took a tender farewell of his
love, whom he fondly kissed and embraced in the presence of her mother
and his own father.

[Illustration]

King Fenis, though by no means best pleased with his son's deportment,
yet sent him nobly equipped and provided to Montorio, where, on arrival,
Fleur was warmly welcomed by Duke Toras, the Duchess, and their daughter
Sibylla, and, when recovered from the fatigue of travel, was by Sibylla
conducted to school, where many a fair and noble damsel was to be
seen. All was in vain: no matter what of beauty or of loveliness might
meet his eye or strike his ear, the thoughts of Fleur were ever and only
with his Blanchefleur, for whose sake he heaved many a sigh and dropped
many a tear against the day appointed for her coming; and when it came
and brought her not, because his parents trusted that she was now
forgotten, Fleur drooped and pined; unable, from heaviness of heart, to
eat, drink, or sleep; and when his chamberlain saw that Fleur was sick
he hasted back to tell King Fenis, who, calling for his Queen, took
counsel with her on the matter. 'What remedy there be for Fleur I know
not,' said the King, 'but this thing I know full well, that Blanchefleur
has cast a spell upon him, and by enchantment has bound him so fast in
love to her that he can look on none other than herself; so go, fetch me
Blanchefleur, that she may die and be forgotten.'

Once more did the Queen plead for Blanchefleur's life.

[Illustration]

'Sir,' said she, 'it is ill said that Blanchefleur has bewitched our
child, for she loves him with a love that passes words, and has known no
joy since he departed, but sits alone in tears and sorrow, refusing to
eat.'

[Illustration]

Thus did the Queen save Blanchefleur from a cruel death, and thus did
she further counsel her lord: 'Ah, sir!' said she, ''twere sin and shame
to slay the child thus untried and unheard; better far, let her be taken
to the harbour, and there sold away into distant lands and never be
heard of more.'

Approving the counsel of his Queen, King Fenis sent for two rich
merchants, and bade them take Blanchefleur and sell her to foreign
traders at the harbour of Nicæa, which they promised faithfully to do.

When dismissed from the presence of the King and Queen, these two
merchants hastened to the port of Nicæa, and, out of the many foreign
traders who there bought and sold, chose two rich dealers from a distant
land, who purchased Blanchefleur at a price that caused the vendors to
rejoice, for these men gave 100 pounds of gold, 100 of silver, 100 webs
of Indian silk, 100 scarlet mantles, 100 good horses, and 300 birds,
such as falcons, hawks, and sparrow-hawks: last and greatest of all,
they gave a cup matchless in beauty and beyond all price. Vulcan had
made this cup, and on it he had pictured how Paris, son of Priam, king
in Troy, had carried off Helena, and was pursued in wrath by Menelaus,
Helena's lord, together with his brother Agamemnon, at the head of a
mighty host; and how the Greeks besieged and stormed Troy town, which
the Trojans for their part defended, and when the city was taken, Æneas
brought away the cup and gave it to a brother of his love Lavinia.

[Illustration]

When the purchase was completed, these traders led Blanchefleur away to
Babylon, and offered her for sale to its Admiral, whom she pleased so
well that he bought her for ten times her weight in gold from these
merchants, who, well pleased with the price bestowed, departed after
thanks given to the Admiral, who, judging from her great beauty and rich
attire that his new purchase must come of noble race, resolved to break
his rule of oft-repeated marriage by plighting his troth once and for
all to her and her alone. With this intent accordingly he sent
Blanchefleur to the women's tower, appointing twenty-five maidens for
her service and solace, seeing that she was ere long to be crowned Queen
of Babylon.

No sooner, however, did Blanchefleur, a helpless stranger in a distant
land, find herself in a chamber alone and undisturbed, than, giving way
to tears and lamentations, she cried, 'Alas, Fleur! who has torn us
asunder? Never shall I cease to love and mourn you, for well know I that
your heart is rent with the same pangs of love and grief, and that we
both must surely die, for without love who would consent to live?'



_Chapter III_


Now, leaving Blanchefleur thus bewailing herself at Babylon, let us
return to King Fenis and his Queen. On receiving at the hands of the two
merchants the goodly treasure paid as Blanchefleur's price, King Fenis
was well pleased, but not so the Queen, who in trouble of spirit cried,
'Now must we take good heed what we do, lest Fleur our son die of
grief.' King Fenis accordingly, after taking thought upon the matter,
caused a tomb of exceeding beauty to be made, of ivory, of marble, and
of crystals, and in the tomb was set a coffin, and on the coffin were
figured in gold the images of two children in the likeness of Fleur and
Blanchefleur; on the head of each child was a crown of gold, and in that
of Fleur was set a carbuncle that sparkled bright by night as in the
day. Moreover, long pipes were laid down, which, catching the wind as it
blew, caused the children to fondle and embrace each other as though in
sport and play, and when the wind ceased they stood still, each one
proffering to the other the flowers it held, and all seemed natural as
life itself.

Never had maiden a costlier tomb, for it was encrusted with precious
gems, such as sapphires, chalcedonies, amethyst, topaz, turquoise,
jasper, chrysolite, diamond, and jacinth; also in letters of gold it
bore this inscription:

  _'Here lies Blanchefleur, who loved young Fleur
  with tender love and true.'_

[Illustration: Who loved young Fleur with tender love and true]

When all things were now ready, King Fenis, bidding his people beware
for their lives of breathing a word to the effect that Blanchefleur,
being yet alive, was not buried in this tomb, sent to Montorio, bidding
his son return home. Joyfully did Fleur, all unknowing what had passed,
obey the summons, and when, after greeting and salutation offered to his
parents, he asked for Blanchefleur, and no man dared to answer him, he
ran to her mother's chamber and asked where was Blanchefleur, whom he
had left there.

'Fleur,' said the mother, 'I know not where she is.'

'Mock me not,' cried he, 'but say where is she whom for these three long
weeks I have not seen?'

Then said the lady, 'Blanchefleur is dead and buried.'

At these words spoken Fleur fell stunned and senseless as though from a
heavy blow, and the mother in her terror gave a cry, which, being heard
throughout the court, brought the King and Queen running in, to behold
with horror and dismay their child stretched lifeless on the ground.

When at length Fleur came to himself, neither prayers nor threats
availed to calm the violence of his grief, but when he begged to see his
beloved's tomb, the Queen his mother led him by the hand to the vault
where she was supposed to lie; and, when Fleur read the golden letters
that told how Blanchefleur lay within the tomb, he thrice fell fainting
on it, and when at length his spirit came again, he cried, kneeling upon
the tomb, 'Alas, my Blanchefleur! why have you forsaken me? We who lived
and loved, should we not have died together? Woe, woe is me thus left
without my love; Oh, cruel Death, to take my dear away! Why tarry now?
come, take my life, or I myself will take it, and so pass to those
bright fields of light where dwells the soul of Blanchefleur amid the
flowers!'

After this lament Fleur arose, and drawing a golden stilus from its
case, he said, 'This stilus, her parting gift, and all now left to me
of Blanchefleur, shall be my comfort by taking me from a world in which
without her I cannot bear to live.' So saying, Fleur would have stabbed
himself to the heart with the golden stilus, but the Queen his mother
tore it from his hand, crying: 'What madness were it to lose your life
for love! Be well assured that never thus could you come to Blanchefleur
in her flowery meads; rather would you be sent to dwell in eternal grief
and pain with Pyramus and Thisbe, who for a like offence were condemned
to seek forever the comfort that they shall never find in love: take
heart, therefore, my child, for I have skill to call your Blanchefleur
back to life.'

[Illustration]

After these words spoken to Fleur, the Queen, in sore trouble of spirit,
sought her lord the King, and showing to him the golden stilus, said,
'Sir, take pity on your child, for with this golden stilus he had done
himself to death but for my staying hand; and, sir, were he, our only
child, to die, bethink you how grievous would be our loss! Say then,
sir, what think you were best to do?' To the entreaties of his Queen,
King Fenis thus made reply: 'Tell Fleur to be comforted, seeing that his
Blanchefleur lives.'

Glad at heart to be bearer of such a message, the Queen hasted to her
son, and, taking him apart, she said to the sorrowing Fleur, 'Weep no
more, but know the truth; your love lies not in the tomb.'

Then, opening the coffin and showing to him its emptiness, the Queen
told all to Fleur: how she and the King his father had sent him to
Montorio, that there he might forget his Blanchefleur, a Christian and a
slave, and choose in her stead a heathen bride of royal race, and how,
finding him still faithful, King Fenis could have slain Blanchefleur,
but, yielding to his Queen's entreaties, had spared her life and sold
her for much gold into distant lands.

Then, standing before that empty grave, Fleur rejoiced with exceeding
joy, and vowed a vow that he would go forth and search through the wide
world till he found his love or died in the attempt.



_Chapter IV_

[Illustration]


When Fleur had thus learned all the truth, he left the empty tomb and
sought his father, saying, 'Father, let me go forth into the wide world
to seek my Blanchefleur, for till she is found I can know neither peace
nor joy.' Hearing these words from his son, King Fenis was sorely
troubled, cursing in his heart the day on which he had sold
Blanchefleur, whom now he would fain have bought back ten pounds dearer
than he sold her, did he but know where she was to be found.

'Abide with me, O Fleur, my son!' pleaded the King, 'and I will wed you
to a royal bride!'

[Illustration]

'Not so, my father!' Fleur replied; 'for there lives no woman upon earth
that I can love save Blanchefleur, and her alone; so be content to let
me go!'

'If needs must, then go,' said King Fenis, yielding to his son's desire,
'and I will make provision of all things needful for your journey.'

''Twere best,' said Fleur, 'for me to travel as a merchant; so give me,
I pray you, twelve mules, three laden with skins, three with coin of the
realm, two with costly apparel of silk, velvet and scarlet, and the
other four with furs. Give me also twelve muleteers to lead the mules,
and twelve men-at-arms to be my guard; likewise one of your stewards,
and a chamberlain of wisdom and discretion; last of all, send with me
the two merchants, who, having sold Blanchefleur into distant lands,
will best know how and where to seek her.'

[Illustration]

[Illustration]

At the thought and talk of parting the King wept sore, yet gave to his
son according to his desire, adding thereto a palfrey, richly
caparisoned; and when Fleur, wearing golden spurs, was mounted on the
palfrey and would be gone, his mother came to say farewell, and gave him
as her parting gift a ring, which she bade him ever wear, for the fair
gem set in this golden ring had magic power to ward off hurt from foe,
or fire, or water, or of wild beasts, nor while he wore it could any man
refuse him aught he asked: so Fleur, with heartfelt thanks to his mother
for so great a gift, put the ring upon his ringer. Then came good-bye,
said with sorrow sore and deep on either side, more especially by
father and mother, who with sinking hearts thrice kissed their son, well
knowing that they should see his face no more.

[Illustration]

Thus provided and equipped with loving care did Fleur ride forth into
the wide world in quest of Blanchefleur, steadfastly purposing to find
her or perish in the quest; and, having left his home, he rode with all
his train to the seaport of Nicæa, where Blanchefleur had been sold, and
when come there he took his lodgings in the house of a rich man, who
nobly entertained his guest; but Fleur, thinking only of his love, sate
dolefully at table, scarce knowing what or if he ate, and this his
mournful mien being perceived by the hostess, she bade her husband mark
it too, saying, 'Master, see you how sad and thoughtful is that young
man who sits and sighs? He calls himself a merchant, but I misdoubt me
what may be the wares he seeks!' Then turning to Fleur himself this
hostess said, 'Young sir, in sitting thus sad and silent, and keeping
fast where a feast is spread; likewise, in age, mien, and bearing, you
recall to my remembrance a fair maiden who no long time ago was here,
and sate sighing as you now do. Her name was Blanchefleur, and Fleur
the name of him she mourned, and for whose sake she was brought to this
port of Nicæa and sold for a great price to merchants who were leading
her away to Babylon, there, as they hoped, to sell her again at double
the price they gave.'

At the sound of Blanchefleur's name Fleur answered not, but for very
bewilderment of joy overturned the wine-cup before him with his knife.
When somewhat come to himself, he drew from his stores a golden cup and
offered it to the hostess, saying, 'Accept this cup as payment, both for
the wine which has been spilt and for the tidings you have given of my
lost Blanchefleur;' and when the hostess had thanked him, Fleur arose
and went to the harbour, and there hired a ship in which to sail to
Babylon; and when the ship was ready he and his servants, and all that
they had, embarked in it, and sailed on and on till they came to a city
called Bagdad; and at Bagdad they landed, and took up their abode with a
rich man, who set the best of everything before them; but though Fleur
sate at the table, his thoughts were far away with his lost love.

'Sir,' said the host, marking the dejection of his guest, 'why do you
not eat? Is the fare not to your taste?' And when Fleur answered not to
his inquiries, the host continued, 'Young sir, give ear to me! I will
tell you somewhat to distract your thoughts. No long time ago some
merchants came to this house to spend the night, and with them they
brought a maiden, who for fairness of face and sorrow of heart resembled
you, for she sate weeping, and would neither eat nor drink, and by those
of her company she was called Blanchefleur.'

'Sir host!' cried Fleur with altered mien, 'can you not tell me more?
Marked you not what road the travellers took on leaving you?'

'Young sir,' replied the host, 'they took the road to Babylon.'

Then Fleur arose, and brought from his store a golden cup and a scarlet
mantle. 'Take these,' said he to the host, 'as my gift, but keep your
thanks for Blanchefleur, who reigns within my heart.'

[Illustration]

Well pleased with such a lordly gift, the host wished his guest
God-speed and good-luck to find his love.

Supper over, the company retired to rest, and at the morrow's early dawn
Fleur himself awoke his chamberlain and bade him rouse their people, as
he would be up and away; so when all was ready they set forth, guided
through the city by their host, and when he had set them on the right
way, they rode on and on till they came to a great river, and saw on its
farther side a city, Montfelis by name; and here was no bridge, but only
a horn hanging on a cypress tree for those to blow who would call the
ferryman.

So Fleur blew the horn, which being heard in Montfelis, presently a
large boat appeared in which the servants and baggage were ferried
across the river, but the master ferryman took Fleur alone in a little
boat.

[Illustration]

'Young sir,' said the boatman, marking the doleful bearing of his
passenger, 'whither go you and what seek you in this land?'

'As you may see, we are merchants,' replied Fleur, 'and on our way to
Babylon, but as to-night it is too late to travel farther, can you tell
us of any hostelry where we and our horses may stay the night?'

'Sir,' said the boatman, 'truly I know of an inn to suit your purpose,
but the cause which moved me to ask your journey's purpose is, that not
long ago we ferried across this river a maiden who resembled you in form
and sadness, and by the people with her she was called Blanchefleur;
this Blanchefleur was the fairest creature ever seen; and in my own
house she told me that she was loved by a heathen prince, and because of
him had been sold away into distant lands.'

Starting up in eager haste at sound of Blanchefleur's name, Fleur cried,
'And whither went the maiden Blanchefleur on leaving you?'

[Illustration]

'Young sir,' replied the boatman, as I have heard tell, Blanchefleur
was sold to the Admiral of Babylon, and he loved her more than all his
wives.'

At these tidings Fleur rejoiced; but, fearing for his life, he let drop
no word of seeking Blanchefleur.

After lodging for the night in the ferry-house, Fleur asked his host if
he could commend him to any good friend in Babylon for lodging and
furtherance in his trade.

'Yes, truly that I can,' replied the boatman. 'At the entrance to
Babylon you will find a river, and on the river a bridge, and on the
bridge a toll-keeper, to whom, if you give this ring from me, you will
be welcome.'



_Chapter V_


Having said adieu to the friendly boatman, Fleur pushed on with such
diligence that by eventide he reached the bridge which guarded the
approach to Babylon, and, on presenting the ring to the toll-keeper, was
by him kindly received and taken for the night to his house in the city.

Next day, when Fleur went forth to view the city, and beheld how great
was the Admiral's might and how strong were the town's defences, his
heart fainted within him. 'Alas!' thought he, 'I am now where
Blanchefleur is, but what does that avail me? It was ill done to leave
my father's house, where I might have found another love, and even now
'twere best to turn and save my life, for did the Admiral but hear of me
I were a dead man, seeing that not for all the treasure of all the world
would he give up my Blanchefleur; so what seek I here, where I have none
to trust and no hope of help?'

While Fleur yet stood thus rapt in melancholy meditation, his host came
up and thus accosted him: 'Friend! why stand you thus looking so
ill-pleased? if any thing be amiss in your food and lodging, tell me and
it shall be mended.'

'Sir,' replied Fleur, 'all in your house is so well appointed that my
whole life were scarce long enough to give you thanks equal to the
service I have received; but, from fear of failing in the business that
calls me here, I am sorely troubled and distressed.'

'Let us first to dinner, and after that we will talk your matter over,'
said the host.

So the two went home and sate them down to table; but Fleur, marking
that his servant had served him with the cup that was Blanchefleur's
price, was so pierced to the heart with sorrow at the sight that the
tears streamed from his eyes, and Lycoris, the hostess, in pity for his
pain, said to her husband Daries, 'Quick, sir! let us clear the table,
for this young man seeks other support than food.'

[Illustration]

So, when the table was cleared, Daries desired his guest to declare his
grief, if so be that help for it might be found in counsel. But said
Lycoris again: 'Sir, so far as I can judge by his mien and bearing, I
deem that this youth grieves for the maiden Blanchefleur, who, now shut
up in the Admiral's high tower, spent two weeks with us in grievous
sorrow of heart, bewailing her sad fate in being thus sold away far from
the youth she loved, and for whose sake she shed many a tear and heaved
many a sigh; and, as you may remember, sir, on leaving us this
Blanchefleur was bought by the Admiral for ten times her weight in gold.
Now, to my thinking, this youth is brother or lover to the maiden
Blanchefleur.'

'No brother but her lover am I!' cried Fleur in glad surprise; then
bethinking him how by such heedless speech his life was put in peril,
he cried again: 'No! no! I don't mean that; I am brother and not lover
to Blanchefleur. We are children of the same parents.'

'With all respect for your word, young sir, you contradict yourself in
one breath,' said Daries the host. 'Best speak the truth out plainly as,
forsooth, I now do in declaring that it were madness to come in quest of
the maiden Blanchefleur; for, if the Admiral but hears of you, you are a
dead man.'

[Illustration]

'Sir,' said Fleur, 'hear the whole truth--I am son to the King of Spain,
and seek my stolen Blanchefleur, without whom I cannot live; help me to
her, and I will give you gold to your heart's content, for ere another
moon has waxed and waned, find her I must or die.'

'Life,' replied Daries, 'were ill lost for sake of a maiden, whom no aid
of mine can make your own, seeing that not, were the whole world to help
you, could Blanchefleur be taken from the Admiral, Lord of a hundred
kings, whose city Babylon is a four-square of twenty miles, and has for
its defence walls full seventy feet in height, built of a stone so hard
that no engine of war from enemies without can pierce their stony front,
and in these walls are three-and-thirty doors of solid steel let in with
cunning art, and high uplifted are seven hundred towers, the loftiest
ever seen by mortal eye, and these towers are guarded by seven hundred
great lords, each one of whom is great as any king; and if all these
suffice not to prove the madness of your quest, know that in the heart
of the city a mighty castle stands; four stories high is the castle, and
on the fourth and topmost dwells your Blanchefleur, together with four
other noble damsels in a fair chamber, whose windows are cased in wood
of the sweet-scented myrtle tree, while its doors are formed of ebony
that never yields to fire, and this ebony is overlaid with beaten gold,
on which are graven strange devices of words and scroll and flower-work,
and, because none but maidens dwell there, this tower is called the
Maidens' Tower. In its midst stands a crystal pillar, and from the
pillar gushes forth a fountain, whose waters are led on arches into
every room, and so back into the pillar; and from the maidens' chamber a
winding stair leads to that wherein dwells the Admiral himself, and
whither, for fourteen days' service at a time, two maidens must wait
morning and evening on their Lord, one with a fair linen towel, the
other with water in a golden bowl. Fierce and cruel beyond words is the
watchman of this tower, and any man who, without good and lawful cause,
approaches it, he slays. Besides all this, the tower day and night is
guarded by sixteen furious men, who never close their eyes in sleep;
and there is yet another strange thing which you shall hear.

[Illustration]

'Every springtide the Admiral takes to him a wife; and when the year is
out, he calls to him all the lords, kings, and princes of his realm, and
in their presence casts off his wife, and causes a knight to behead her,
that no man may wed her after him; thus with the bitterness of an early
death does she pay for the fleeting honour of royal wedlock; and when
his wife is dead, the Admiral, with intent to replace her with another,
summons the maidens who are within the tower to appear before him in a
garden, which trembling they enter, none coveting the fatal honour of
his choice. This garden, which walls of gold and lapis-lazuli enclose,
contains noble trees of every kind, so that in it may be found at all
seasons every fruit known to mankind; precious spices also abound, such
as ginger, cinnamon, balm, cloves, nutmeg, and mace; all which, together
with the scent of flowers and the song of birds, makes of this garden a
very earthly paradise. In the midst of this paradise gushes forth a
spring of clear water, and overhanging the spring is a tree, ever green
and ever putting forth fresh blossoms and varied fruits.

'Beneath this tree the Admiral, surrounded by his lords, takes his seat;
and when seated, he causes the maidens one by one to cross the stream
before him; if they be good maidens and true the water remains clear as
crystal, but if it turn dark and turbid they may prepare for death. This
ordeal passed, the Admiral calls the maidens before him beneath the
blooming tree, which by magic art drops one of its rosy blossoms on her
whom its Lord loves best, and who accordingly becomes Queen for one
fleeting year. Now, dear youth, bethink you what wise man would cheer
you on in the quest of Blanchefleur, seeing that, ere this very month be
out, the Admiral will hold this marriage feast with a new-made wife, who
all say will be this Blanchefleur, whose loveliness has won his heart?
Moreover, for some time past, it is she and Clarissa, her companion, who
have been called to wait on their Lord, morning and evening, with the
linen towel and the golden bowl; for which cause they live in daily
terror of being chosen, the one or other, to be his crowned victim.'

'Oh good mine host!' cried Fleur, goaded to madness by what he heard,
'help me with your counsel how to act. My Blanchefleur will I claim
within that garden, for she is mine, and mine alone. What if I die?
Death for her sake is sweet, as it but sends me on before to that fair
paradise whither her soul will follow mine, to dwell for ever amid the
flowers.'

'Young man,' said the host, 'by your readiness to brave all perils--nay,
even death itself--for sake of your dear love, I see that you are
steadfast of purpose; and therefore, though perilling my own life
thereby, I will give you counsel which, if followed, shall not turn to
your hurt.' So saying, Daries took Fleur aside, and in secret unfolded
to him a plan, which Fleur accepting with grateful heart followed out in
such wise as the coming chapter will record.



_Chapter VI_

[Illustration]


Arising betimes next day, Fleur, as instructed by his host, arrayed
himself with great magnificence, and in this bravery of attire started
for the Maidens' Tower. When come there, he set with great seeming
earnestness and diligence to measuring the tower's dimensions of height,
depth, length, and breadth; soon, however, his business was rudely
interrupted by the watchman, who, catching sight of this measuring
stranger, shouted at him for a spy, asking by what right or by whose
leave he came there to meddle with the tower of the Lord High Admiral of
Babylon.

Unabashed by this rough reception, Fleur replied in easy, careless
phrase: 'Friend, the shape and form of your tower please me so well that
I am taking their dimensions, with intent, on returning to my own land,
of building me such a tower to be my treasure-house; and taking this one
of yours to be used for the like purpose, I would fain seek admittance
to examine it within as well as without, which admittance might indeed
be granted to me without fear by you and your Lord, seeing that I am
wealthier than the two of you put together.'

'In mistrusting this man I erred,' thought the watchman; 'for, indeed,
such rich attire would ill become a spy.' So, after putting some
searching questions to test his quality, the watchman, eased of doubt by
the ready answers he received, invited the stranger to step into his
house and play a game of chess; and when Fleur, accepting the challenge
and invitation, was come in, his host and opponent said, 'Now, sir, say
what shall be the stakes?'

'A hundred byzants a side,' said Fleur.

'Done with you!' cried the host; and when, at his call, a chess-board of
ebony and ivory was brought, the two sate down to play.

Now Fleur wore upon his finger that priceless ring, his mother's parting
gift, and in playing took heed to keep its gem turned outwards towards
his opponent, who, seeing, coveted the jewel; and by keeping his eye on
it and off the board, speedily lost the game, and with it, to his fury,
the double stakes; but Fleur, forewarned by the friendly Daries that his
antagonist's greed of gain equalled his love of chess, refused to take
the winnings, and was accordingly invited by the grateful loser to come
and play a return match on the morrow. Fleur accepted the challenge, and
next day staking two hundred byzants against as many on the watchman's
side, he again contrived, by help of the ring, to win the game and
stakes, and as before handed over the latter to his antagonist, who,
equally amazed and delighted by such unwonted liberality, declared
himself ready to perform any service for so generous a player. Next day
the stakes rose to four hundred byzants on either side, and were won by
Fleur, who promptly relieved the horror of his host at such heavy loss
by handing over to him the entire eight hundred. Overcome by such
liberality, the watchman invited his noble opponent to a collation in
his chamber on the following day; and when Fleur thus bidden appeared,
he brought with him his splendid drinking-cup, and placed it on the
board before him.

[Illustration]

The watchman, unable to keep his eyes off the cup, so greatly did he
admire it, offered, if his guest would play him for it, to stake a
thousand byzants on his side.

'Sell or game away the cup I may not,' replied Fleur; 'but for help in
the time of need I will freely give it.'

Then, overcome by greed of so goodly a gift, the watchman swore to Fleur
that he would be his man, and do service good and true, whensoever and
howsoever he might be called on.

Having thus made sure of the guardian of the tower, Fleur plainly said
that he must find his way within to his beloved or die.

'Ah, friend!' cried the watchman, sorely repenting him of his rash
promise; 'I fear me your riches have lured me on to the destruction of
us both; nevertheless, the word that I have given I will keep, so return
now to your lodging, and there abide for two days; and on the third,
which will be May Day, come again to me, all clad from head to foot in
rosy red, and you shall be borne up to the topmost story of the tower
where Blanchefleur dwells.'



_Chapter VII_


[Illustration]

At the bidding of his watchman friend Fleur went back to his lodging,
and there in hope and joy abode for two long days; and when the third,
which was May Day, dawned, he arose and clad himself from head to foot
in rosy red and hasted to the tower; and when he came to the guard-room,
he found a great basket on the floor, and heaped up around the basket
were all the fresh-blown flowers of spring that the watchman had caused
to be gathered from the gardens of Babylon, as May-Day offering to
Blanchefleur.

'Sir,' said the watchman, 'here lay you down within the basket and stir
not.'

So when Fleur was laid down flat and still, within the basket, the
watchman put a hat of red upon his head, and, this done, covered him all
over with piles of flowers. This done, he called two strong porters and
said, 'Carry up this basket of flowers as my May-Day offering to the
maiden Blanchefleur, and when you have presented it, tarry not, but come
again to me.'

So the porters, obedient to their officer, took up the basket and began
to ascend the stairs; but ere they were half-way up, they began to halt
and curse, vowing that never in all their days had they carried such
heavy flowers; and when at length the top was reached, they mistook the
chamber, for they knocked at Clarissa's door, shouting, 'Here, open! to
receive the watchman's May-Day offering to the maiden Blanchefleur.'

[Illustration]

And at the sound of Blanchefleur's name Clarissa ran and opened wide the
door; but without telling the porters of their error, she suffered them
to bring their flowery burden in and then depart. When they were gone,
Clarissa came and took from the basket a flower that pleased her,
whereupon Fleur, thinking she was Blanchefleur, sprang out, and so
startled the maiden that she cried in fright: 'Oh! what is that? Oh!
what can that be?' And at her cry the other maidens came running in to
know what had affrighted Clarissa, their companion, but Fleur they
marked not, because he had laid him down again beneath the blossoms,
and, being clothed in rosy red, was not distinguished from the roses
which were his bed; then Clarissa, calling to mind how often she had
heard Blanchefleur speak of a youth in Spain of form and face resembling
her own, bethought her that this May-Day offering might be the Spanish
love of Blanchefleur; so with a laugh she dismissed the maidens who were
her fellows, saying that a hornet springing out from amid the flowers
had frighted her. Reader, picture to yourself the terror of Fleur on
finding he was discovered! But fortune was kind, for Clarissa, the
captive daughter of a Duke of Alemannia, was the bosom friend of lovely
Blanchefleur, and often had the two together bemoaned their lot in being
the pair appointed to wait morning and evening on the Admiral with the
linen hand-towel and water in the golden bowl.

[Illustration]

Now as the chambers of these two maidens adjoined, and a door led from
the one into the other, Clarissa with care closed her outer door and
passed through the inner one into the chamber of Blanchefleur, whom she
found sitting all woebegone and rapt in thought of her absent love.

'Blanchefleur!' cried Clarissa, 'come with me and I will show you
flowers such as you never saw before.'

[Illustration]

'Alas! Clarissa,' replied the mournful, drooping Blanchefleur, 'my
heart is too heavy to be cheered by flowers, seeing that I am so far
from my love and he from me.'

'Cease your wailing,' cried Clarissa, 'and dear as your love may be, yet
come and see the lovely flowers!'

So Blanchefleur slowly rising came to see the flowers, whereupon Fleur,
who heard the voice and knew his love was near, sprang from among the
blossoms, all clad like the roses in rosy red, and Blanchefleur knew
him, and he knew her, and they gazed speechless with love and joy face
to face upon each other, and silently they fell on each other's neck
with kisses and fond embraces, until at length Blanchefleur found words
to say, 'Clarissa! behold my love! my heart's delight, my comfort, and
my joy!' Then the two joined in praying good Clarissa not to part their
love by declaring it, as that would be their death.

'Have no fear,' replied Clarissa; 'I will help you as best I can; the
food and wine that are brought for two will suffice for three, and you
will find me ever true.'

[Illustration]

Then the two lovers went into Blanchefleur's chamber, and sitting them
down upon the bed, which was spread with a gold-embroidered silken
cover, they told each other all that had befallen them since their
parting.

'Ah, love!' sighed Fleur, 'what have I not suffered for your sake? I had
well-nigh died of sorrow.'

'And I,' said Blanchefleur, 'since the day on which you departed to
Montorio, have known no joy, but have gone mourning for my love;' and
then again the lovers kissed each other, and Fleur showed Blanchefleur
the ring, his mother's parting gift, and told her of its magic power.

Meanwhile good Clarissa, trembling lest the secret of her friend should
be betrayed, guarded it with jealous care as though it had been her own:
so these three lived and ate and drank together, letting no living soul
share their secret, and the lovers, happy as the day was long, would
gladly thus have lived and died together, but, alas! the course of true
love never can run smooth, and all too soon was their joy turned into
sorrow.

One morning Clarissa woke to find the sun already high in the heavens;
so, running in to Blanchefleur, she bade her too arise, as it was late,
and full time that both were in attendance on their Lord.

'Go on before,' said Blanchefleur, half-waking and half-dreaming, and I
will follow;' and she came not, but fell asleep again. So when Clarissa,
returning from the spring with her golden bowl, again knocked, and this
time got no answer, she hasted to the Admiral, thinking to find
Blanchefleur gone on before to him, but she found her not.

'Why tarries Blanchefleur?' asked the Admiral, wondering that Clarissa
came alone.

'Sire,' said Clarissa, 'all through the night, Blanchefleur was reading
in her psalter and praying long life for you, and towards the morning
she fell asleep and slumbers still.'

'That,' said the Admiral, well pleased, 'was a good work, and as reward
for it Blanchefleur shall be my bride.'

Next morning the same thing happened. Again Clarissa overslept herself,
and on waking found the sun already high in the heavens; again she
called to Blanchefleur to make ready while she filled her golden bowl
with water at the spring, and again Blanchefleur, half-waking and
half-dreaming, replied, 'I come,' and came not, but fell back in
slumber, so that Clarissa on hasting to their Lord found no Blanchefleur
there.

'Where,' again asked the Admiral, 'is Blanchefleur?'

'Sire,' said Clarissa, 'I called in passing at her door ere filling my
golden bowl with water at the spring, and Blanchefleur said she would be
here before me.'

In some surprise the Admiral then bade a chamberlain go see why
Blanchefleur tarried: so the chamberlain hasted to Blanchefleur's
chamber, which was all ablaze with precious stones, and there, locked in
each other's arms, found Fleur and Blanchefleur, and, taking Fleur in
his tender beauty to be Clarissa, the chamberlain had not the heart to
wake the two, but hasted back to tell his Lord how sweetly Blanchefleur
and Clarissa slept, and, lo! Clarissa stood before him.

As for the Admiral, he turned white with fury.



_Chapter VIII_

[Illustration]


'Give me my sword,' cried the Admiral, 'and with it I will soon find who
is this feigned Clarissa, for here the true one stands before me.' So
saying, the furious Lord went with the chamberlain to Blanchefleur's
chamber, and when the thick silken curtains were drawn aside and the
bright sunlight streamed in, he beheld the sleeping pair, and so fair
was Fleur that even the Admiral in his fury doubted if he were not a
maiden, but all the same with uplifted sword he prepared to smite both
Fleur and Blanchefleur to the death, when suddenly they awoke, and
seeing before them this furious Lord with uplifted sword they shed
bitter tears, well knowing that they must die. 'Miscreant!' cried the
Admiral to Fleur, 'who are you, and how dared you enter into my Tower?
For so doing you shall die the death.'

'Have mercy, sire,' said Fleur, 'on the maiden Blanchefleur and on me,
for we love each other with a love more true and tender than has e'er
been known before!'

Then came forward the chamberlain and prayed his Lord to spare the
captives that they might have due trial for their offence.

To this respite the Admiral consented, but, fearing lest the prisoners
might escape, he commanded that they were to be bound with ropes until
by the lords of all the land sentence should be passed upon them. Now as
the Admiral's yearly wedding festival was near at hand, the great lords
of the realm, such as kings, dukes, counts and barons, were already
assembled in Babylon; so they appeared without delay at the summons of
their Lord in his glorious hall, which for splendour could not have been
matched by Priam, King of Troy, for it was a full mile square, and
crystal pillars supported its lofty dome. When, therefore, the Admiral
was enthroned in majesty with all his lords around him, silence was
commanded, while he thus addressed the assembly:

'My lords, hearken unto me, your King, and pass a sentence on these
prisoners that will redound to my honour and your own. Behold this
Blanchefleur, whom for a great price of ten times her own weight in gold
I bought, thinking to promote her to honour by taking her as my one and
only wedded wife on the day appointed for my marriage festival, and
until that day came, that my eyes might be gladdened by her beauty, I
brought her into my Maidens' Tower and ordained that she and Clarissa,
her companion, should wait morning and evening upon me with a fair
linen towel and water in a golden bowl; yet scarce had this Blanchefleur
been for four months within my Tower than she betrayed me for another,
whom with herself I had in righteous indignation well-nigh slain. So
now, my lords, it is for you to pass judgment just and unbending upon
these offenders.'

[Illustration]

Responding to the call of their King and Admiral, these lords with one
consent passed sentence of death upon the prisoners, though differing
among themselves as to the execution of the same. Some were for hanging,
others for the bow-string, while others again proposed that the culprits
should be torn asunder by wild horses; most, however, were in favour of
burning, or perhaps drowning with a heavy stone round the neck: on one
point, however, all agreed--viz. that the guilty pair must die.

Then arose a certain king, Aliers by name, and thus spoke. 'It is a
shame and disgrace,' said he, 'to hear in a royal court such babel of
voices, each crying for a different opinion. Be so good, my lords, as to
depute one among you to speak for all. Moreover, having now heard the
accusation of His Highness, it is but just to listen to the prisoners'
defence.'

'Not so,' cried Basier, King of Arabia, 'not so, my lords. If these
prisoners have betrayed our Lord the Admiral, let them die unheard, like
thieves caught in the act and punished red-handed without form of
trial.'

The Admiral now commanded the prisoners to be produced, who when they
appeared were very sad, regarding each other with tender pity.

'My Lord,' said Fleur to the Admiral, 'being guilty I am prepared to
die, but spare my Blanchefleur, for she is innocent, seeing that without
her knowledge I came within your Tower.'

'My Lord,' cried Blanchefleur, 'the guilt is mine, for had I not been in
your Tower never would Fleur have sought to enter it. Moreover, it were
shame that a king's son should die for me, who am but the daughter of
his handmaid.'

'Not so, my Lord,' cried Fleur again; 'let me die, that Blanchefleur may
live.'

'Be easy,' said the Admiral, 'for with my own hand I will slay you
both.' So saying, he made for the prisoners with his drawn sword,
whereupon Blanchefleur sprang forward and offered her neck for the blow,
but was dragged back by Fleur, who with indignant tears exclaimed:
'What! Shall I, to my shame, suffer you, a woman, to die for me, who am
a man, before the eyes of this great assembly?' And so saying, Fleur
extended his neck instead for the death-blow, but Blanchefleur in turn
pulled him back by his clothes and ran in before him, holding out her
neck. Thus for some time these lovers strove, each seeking to die before
the other, until for pity the lords began to weep, and even the Admiral,
feeling his heart relent, let the sword drop from his hands.

Then stepped forward a certain Duke, and in the name of all present
made earnest petitions for the prisoners' lives. 'Methinks,' said he,
'that for the safety and honour of our Lord the Admiral 'twere best to
spare the prisoners, whose death would profit him not, whereas by
freeing them on condition that Fleur revealed in what wise he stole into
the Tower, His Highness may discover and punish his unfaithful
servants.'

The Admiral, marking that all his lords were inclined to mercy, agreed
to this Duke's proposal and offered their lives to the captives if Fleur
would but tell how he made his way into the Tower.'

'That, sire, replied Fleur, 'I may only do under promise of pardon to
those who were my helpers.'

'No! no!' cried the Admiral, furious at the thought of further mercy.
'They shall all die, every man among them.'

Then came forward a Bishop, who, falling at the Admiral's feet,
entreated that the gracious mercy of His Highness might be extended to
all concerned; 'for,' said the Lord Bishop, 'it would please the
assembled company better to hear the prisoners' story than to behold
their death.' These words of the Bishop were supported by all the lords,
who with one acclaim called on their King and Admiral to pardon the
prisoners at the prayer of his faithful subjects. So the Admiral gave
ear to the prayer of his lords and pardoned the lovers and all and
sundry who were their helpers, and when this was done Fleur arose and
told the whole sweet and touching story of Blanchefleur and himself from
the time of their birth up to the moment when they were found together
in the Tower, and when his tale was told Fleur knelt down before the
Admiral and entreated His Highness with tears for the gift of
Blanchefleur, for whose sake he had done and suffered so great things;
seeing, moreover, that without her he could not live, nor indeed could
she, if torn from him, find life endurable.

Then the Admiral took Fleur by the hand, and kissing him bade him sit
by his side as beseemed the son of a king, and taking Blanchefleur also
by the hand His Highness said to Fleur: 'Friend, herewith I give and
grant to you the maiden Blanchefleur, together with pardon full and free
of all offence committed by you against my kingly power and majesty.'

[Illustration]

Overcome with joy and gratitude, those lovers sank at the feet of their
benefactor, who raised and kissed them, and after that he made Fleur a
knight according to the fashion of the land.



_Chapter IX_


[Illustration]

Now when all had turned out thus happily for Fleur and Blanchefleur, the
Admiral proclaimed a great festival, and in pomp and splendour led to
church Clarissa, daughter of the Duke of Alemannia, and there took her
as his one and only wedded wife, to have and to hold, for better for
worse, to his life's end: in the same church also and at the same time
were Fleur and Blanchefleur united in holy wedlock. Then came the feast,
at which the Admiral sat enthroned with his bride Clarissa on one side,
and Fleur and Blanchefleur on the other, and after them all the lords of
the realm, placed in order according to their rank. When the banquet was
over the wedding guests diverted themselves with jousting, tilting,
wrestling, and jumping matches, not forgetting music and song, that
lasted for days together, and while the merry-making was at its height,
behold! there came ambassadors bearing tidings from Spain that King
Fenis and his Queen were dead, and the mourning country stood in sore
need of the absent Fleur, heir and successor to the King deceased: and
at these heavy tidings the joy of Fleur was turned to sorrow, and,
seeking the Admiral, he prayed His Highness for permission to depart to
his own country, which so sorely needed its King and ruler; but the
Admiral, loath to part with the guest he had learned to love, sought to
persuade Fleur, by promise of a greater and richer kingdom than his own,
to give up land and people and abide with him; but when Fleur, whose
heart was true to his home and Spain, would not be tempted from his
purpose, the Admiral, commending his departing guests to the care of his
gods, speeded him on his way with many a rich and costly gift. Thus did
Fleur and Blanchefleur take their journey back again to Spain, and when
they were come the people received them with great joy, and crowned
Fleur King in the place of his father Fenis, and Blanchefleur they
crowned as Queen, and so this happy pair lived on united in tender love
together to their hundredth year, and when Fleur was made King he
embraced the Christian faith of his Blanchefleur, and caused all his
people to become Christians and receive baptism, and soon after these
things Fleur inherited the land of Hungary from his uncle, who died
childless; but to Fleur and his Queen Blanchefleur was born a daughter,
Bertha by name, who became wife to King Pepin of France, and mother of
Charles, that great Emperor whose fame is known throughout the world.

[Illustration: FINIS]





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fleur and Blanchefleur" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home