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Title: Breton Legends - Translated from the French
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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                            BRETON LEGENDS.

                      Translated from the French.



                                 London

                Burns, Oates, & Co., 17 Portman Street,
                         and 63 Paternoster Row



PREFACE.


The various Collections of Household and Legendary Tales of different
countries which have appeared of late years sufficiently attest the
popular interest which attaches to these curious and venerable relics
of bygone days. Even such eminent scholars as the Messrs. Grimm have
not thought it beneath them to devote their time and research to the
task of collecting the old fireside Stories and Legends of Germany;
and the result of their labours is a volume of tales of remarkable
interest and attractiveness, distinguished no less for variety and
invention than for pathos, humour, and graceful simplicity.

Similar Collections have been published from time to time in relation
to other countries (among others, a remarkable one on the Norse
Legends, recently issued); and it seemed to the Editors of the present
volume that the time had arrived when Brittany too might venture to
put forward her claim in this respect to public attention. A selection
of some of the best of the Breton Legends is therefore presented to
the reader in this little volume.

It may be remarked, that the Breton Legends, though possessing
much that is common to the German and other National Tales, have
yet features peculiar to themselves. They are, we may say, deeply
coloured by the character of the country in which they have their
home. The sea-coast of Brittany, with its rugged rocks and deep
mysterious bays and inlets; the lone country heaths in which stand
the Menhir and Dolmen, with their dark immemorial traditions; the
gray antiquated chateaus with their fosses and turrets,--all impart
a wild and severe character to its legends, and strike the reader
with a kind of awe which he scarcely feels in reading those of other
countries. In addition to this, the way in which the religion of the
Cross, and the doctrines and rites of the Church are interwoven with
the texture of almost every one of the Breton Tales, seems to mark
them off with still greater distinctness, lending them at the same
time a peculiar charm which can hardly fail to commend them to the
sympathies of the religious reader.

We may add that the moral lessons to be derived from many of these
Legends are as striking as they are ingeniously wrought out.

The Tales are a translation from the French; and for this the Editors
are indebted to the skill and good taste of a lady, who has entered
most fully into the spirit and feeling of these simple but beautiful
specimens of Legendary Lore.



CONTENTS.


                                         Page
    The Three Wayfarers                     1
    The Legend of St. Galonnek             14
    The Korils of Plauden                  31
    The Blessed Mao                        47
    The Fate of Keris                      63
    The Stones of Plouhinec                74
    Teuz-à-pouliet; or, the Dwarf          84
    The Spectre Laundresses                96
    Robin Redbreast                       104
    Comorre                               118
    The Groac'h of the Isle of Lok        132
    The Four Gifts                        150
    The Palace of the proud King          167
    The Piper                             172
    The White Inn                         177
    Peronnik the Idiot                    182
    Appendix                              207



BRETON LEGENDS.

THE THREE WAYFARERS.


There dwelt in the diocese of Léon, in ancient times, two young
noblemen, rich and comely as heart could desire. Their names were
Tonyk and Mylio.

Mylio, the elder, was almost sixteen, and Tonyk just fourteen years
of age. They were both under the instruction of the ablest masters, by
whose lessons they had so well profited that, but for their age, they
might well have received holy orders, had such been their vocation.

But in character the brothers were very unlike. Tonyk was pious,
charitable to the poor, and always ready to forgive those who had
offended him: he hoarded neither money in his hand nor resentment
in his heart. Mylio, on the other hand, while he gave but his due to
each, would drive a hard bargain too, and never failed to revenge an
injury to the uttermost.

It had pleased God to deprive them of their father whilst yet in their
infancy, and they had been brought up by their widowed mother, a woman
of singular virtue; but now that they were growing towards manhood,
she deemed it time to send them to the care of an uncle, who lived
at some distance, and from whom they might receive good counsels for
their walk in life, besides the expectation of an ample heritage.

So one day, after bestowing upon each a new cap, a pair of
silver-buckled shoes, a violet mantle, [1] a well-filled purse,
and a horse, she bade them set forth towards the house of their
father's brother.

The two boys began their journey in the highest spirits, glad that
they were travelling into a new country. Their horses made such good
speed, that in the course of a few days they found themselves already
in another kingdom, where the trees, and even the corn, were quite
different to their own. There one morning, coming to a cross-road,
they saw a poor woman seated near a wayside cross, her face buried
in her apron.

Tonyk drew up his horse to ask her what she ailed; and the beggar
told him, sobbing, that she had just lost her son, her sole support,
and that she was now cast upon the charity of Christian strangers.

The youth was touched with compassion; but Mylio, who waited at a
little distance, cried out mockingly,

"You are not going to believe the first pitiful story told you by
the roadside! It is just this woman's trade to sit here and cheat
travellers of their money."

"Hush, hush, my brother," answered Tonyk, "in the name of God; you
only make her weep the more. Do not you see that she is just the
age and figure of our own dear mother, whom may God preserve." Then
stooping towards the beggar-woman, he handed her his purse, saying,

"Here, my good woman, I can help you but a little; but I will pray
that God Himself may be your consolation."

The beggar took the purse, and pressed it to her lips; then said
to Tonyk,

"Since my young lord has been so bountiful to a poor woman, let him
not refuse to accept from her this walnut. It contains a wasp with
a sting of diamond."

Tonyk took the walnut with thanks, and proceeded on his way with Mylio.

Ere long they came upon the borders of a forest, and saw a little
child, half naked, seeking somewhat in the hollows of the trees,
whilst he sung a strange and melancholy air, more mournful than the
music of a requiem. He often stopped to clap his little frozen hands,
saying in his song, "I am cold,--oh, so cold!" and the boys could
hear his teeth chatter in his head.

Tonyk was ready to weep at this spectacle, and said to his brother,

"Mylio, only see how this poor child suffers from the piercing wind."

"Then he must be a chilly subject," returned Mylio; "the wind does
not strike me as so piercing."

"That may well be, when you have on a plush doublet, a warm cloth coat,
and over all your violet mantle, whilst he is wrapped round by little
but the air of heaven."

"Well, and what then?" observed Mylio; "after all, he is but a
peasant-boy."

"Alas," said Tonyk, "when I think that you, my brother, might have
been born to the same hard fate, it goes to my very heart; and I
cannot bear to see him suffering. For Jesus' sake let us relieve him."

So saying he reined in his horse, and calling to him the little boy,
asked what he was about.

"I am trying," said the child, "if I can find any dragon-flies [2]
asleep in the hollows of the trees."

"And what do you want with the dragon-flies?" asked Mylio.

"When I have found a great many, I shall sell them in the town,
and buy myself a garment as warm as sunshine."

"And how many have you found already?" asked the young nobleman.

"One only," said the child, holding up a little rushen cage enclosing
the blue fly.

"Well, well, I will take it," interposed Tonyk, throwing to the boy
his violet mantle. "Wrap yourself up in that nice warm cloak, my
poor little fellow; and when you kneel down to your evening prayers,
say every night a 'Hail Mary' for us, and another for our mother."

The two brothers went forward on their journey; and Tonyk, having
parted with his mantle, suffered sorely for a time from the cutting
north wind; but the forest came to an end, the air grew milder,
the fog dispersed, and a vein of sunshine kindled in the clouds.

They presently entered a green meadow, where a fountain sprung; and
there beside it sat an aged man, his clothes in tatters, and on his
back the wallet which marked him as a beggar.

As soon as he perceived the young riders, he called to them in
beseeching tones.

Tonyk approached him.

"What is it, father?" said he, lifting his hand to his hat in
respectful consideration of the beggar's age.

"Alas, my dear young gentlemen," replied the old man, "you see how
white my hair is, and how wrinkled my cheeks. By reason of my age, I
have grown very feeble, and my feet can carry me no further. Therefore
I must certainly sit here and die, unless one of you is willing to
sell me his horse."

"Sell thee one of our horses, beggar!" exclaimed Mylio, with
contemptuous voice; "and wherewithal have you to pay for it?"

"You see this hollow acorn," answered the mendicant: "it contains
a spider capable of spinning a web stronger than steel. Let me have
one of your horses, and I will give you in exchange the acorn with
the spider."

The elder of the two boys burst into a loud laugh.

"Do you only hear that, Tonyk?" said he, turning to his brother. "By
my baptism, there must be two calf's feet in that fellow's shoes." [3]

But the younger answered gently,

"The poor can only offer what he has."

Then dismounting, he went up to the old man, and added,

"I give you my horse, my honest friend, not in consideration of
the price you offer for him, but in remembrance of Christ, who has
declared the poor to be His chosen portion. Take and keep him as your
own, and thank God, in whose name I bestow him."

The old man murmured a thousand benedictions, and mounting with
Tonyk's aid, went on his way, and was soon lost in the distance.

But at this last alms-deed Mylio could no longer contain himself,
and broke out into a storm of reproaches.

"Fool!" cried he angrily to Tonyk, "are you not ashamed of the state
to which you have reduced yourself by your folly? You thought no
doubt that when you had stripped yourself of every thing, I would go
shares with you in horse and cloak and purse. But no such thing. I
hope this lesson at least will do you good, and that, by feeling the
inconveniences of prodigality, you may learn to be more prudent for
the future."

"It is indeed a good lesson, my brother," replied Tonyk mildly; "and
I willingly receive it. I never so much as thought of sharing your
money, horse, or cloak; go, therefore, on your way without troubling
yourself about me, and may the Queen of angels guide you."

Mylio answered not a word, but trotted quickly off; whilst his young
brother followed upon foot, keeping him in sight as long as he was
able, without a thought of bitterness arising in his heart.

And thus they went on towards the entrance of a narrow defile between
two mountains, so lofty that their tops were hidden in the clouds. It
was called the Accursed Strait; for a dreadful being dwelt among
those heights, and there laid wait for travellers, like a huntsman
watching for his game. He was a giant, blind, and without feet; but
had so fine an ear for sound, that he could hear the worm working
her dark way within the earth. His servants were two eagles, which
he had tamed (for he was a great magician), and he sent them forth
to catch his prey so soon as he could hear it coming. So the country
people of the neighbourhood, when they had to thread the dreaded pass,
were accustomed to carry their shoes in their hands, like the girls
of Roscoff going to market at Morlaix, and held their breath lest
the giant should detect their passage. But Mylio, who knew nothing
of all this, went on at full trot, until the giant was awakened by
the sound of horse's hoofs upon the stony way.

"Ho, ho, my harriers, where are you?" cried he.

The white and the red eagle hastened to him.

"Go and fetch me for my supper what is passing by," exclaimed the
giant.

Like balls from cannon-mouth they shot down the depths of the ravine,
and seizing Mylio by his violet mantle, bore him upwards to the
giant's den.

At that moment Tonyk came up to the entrance of the defile. He
saw his brother in the act of being carried off by the two birds,
and rushing towards him, uttered a loud cry; but the eagles almost
instantly vanished with Mylio in the clouds that hung over the loftiest
mountain. For a few seconds the boy stood rooted to the spot with
horror, gazing on the sky and the straight rocks that rose above him
like a wall; then sinking on his knees, with folded hands, he cried,

"O God, the Almighty Maker of the world, save my brother Mylio!"

"Trouble not God the Father for so small a matter," cried three little
voices close beside him.

Tonyk turned in amazement.

"Who speaks? where are you?" he exclaimed.

"In the pocket of thy doublet," replied the three voices.

Tonyk searched his pocket, and drew forth the walnut, the acorn,
and the rushen cage, containing the three different insects.

"Is it you who will save Mylio?" said he.

"We, we, we," they answered in their various tones.

"And what can you do, you poor little nobodies?" continued Tonyk.

"Let us out, and thou shalt see."

The boy did as they desired; and immediately the spider crept
to a tree, from which she began a web as strong and as shining as
steel. Then mounting on the dragon-fly, which raised her gradually in
the air, she still wove on her silvery network; the several threads
of which assumed the form of a ladder constantly stretching upwards.

Tonyk mounted step by step on this miraculous ladder, until it brought
him to the summit of the mountain. Then the wasp flew before him,
and led him to the giant's den.

It was a grotto hollowed in the cliff, and lofty as a
cathedral-nave. The blind and footless ogre, seated in the middle,
swayed his vast body to and fro like a poplar rocked by winds,
singing snatches of a strange song; while Mylio lay on the ground,
his legs and arms tucked behind him, like a fowl trussed for the
spit. The two eagles were at a little distance, by the fireplace,
one ready to act as turnspit, whilst the other made up the fire.

The noise which the giant made in singing, and the attention he paid
to the preparations for his feast, prevented his hearing the approach
of Tonyk and his three tiny attendants; but the red eagle perceived
the youth, and, darting forward, would have seized him in its claws,
had not the wasp at that very moment pierced its eyes with her diamond
sting. The white eagle, hurrying to its fellow's aid, shared the same
fate. Then the wasp flew upon the ogre, who had roused himself on
hearing the cries of his two servants, and set herself to sting him
without mercy. The giant roared aloud, like a bull in August. But
in vain he whirled around him his huge arms, like windmill-sails;
having no eyes, he could not succeed in catching the creature, and
for want of feet it was equally impossible for him to escape from it.

At length he flung himself, face downwards, on the earth, to find some
respite from its fiery dart; but the spider then came up, and spun over
him a net that held him fast imprisoned. In vain he called upon the
eagles for assistance: savage with pain, and no longer fearing now they
saw him vanquished, their only impulse was to revenge upon him all the
bitterness of their past long slavery. Fiercely flapping their wings,
they flew upon their former master, and tore him in their fury, as he
lay cowering beneath the web of steel. With every stroke of their beaks
they carried off a strip of flesh; nor did they stay their vengeance
until they had laid bare his bones. Then they crouched down upon the
mangled carcass; and as the flesh of a magician, to say nothing of
an ogre, is a meat impossible of digestion, they never rose again.

Meanwhile Tonyk had unbound his brother; and, after embracing him with
tears of joy, led him from the cavern to the edge of the precipice. The
dragon-fly and the wasp soon appeared there, harnessed to the little
cage of rushes, now transformed into a coach. They invited the two
brothers to seat themselves within it, whilst the spider placed
herself behind like a magnificent lackey, and the equipage rolled
onwards with the swiftness of the wind. In this way Tonyk and Mylio
travelled untired over meadows, woods, mountains, and villages (for
in the air the roads are always in good order), until they came before
their uncle's castle.

There the carriage came to ground, and rolled onwards towards the
drawbridge, where the brothers saw both their horses in waiting for
them. At the saddle-bow of Tonyk hung his purse and mantle; but the
purse had grown much larger and heavier, and the mantle was now all
powdered with diamonds.

Astonished, the youth turned him towards the coach to ask what this
might mean; but, behold, the coach had disappeared; and instead of
the wasp, the spider, and the dragon-fly, there stood three angels
all glorious with light. Awe-struck and bewildered, the brothers sank
upon their knees.

Then one of the angels, more beautiful and radiant than his fellows,
drew near to Tonyk, and thus spoke:

"Fear not, thou righteous one; for the woman, the child, and the old
man, whom thou hast succoured were none others than our blessed Lady,
her divine Son, and the holy saint Joseph. They sent us to guard thee
on thy way from harm; and, now that our mission is accomplished,
we return to Paradise. Only remember all that has befallen thee,
and let it serve as an example for ever."

At these words the angels spread their wings, and soared away like
three white doves, chanting the Hosanna as it is sung in churches at
the Holy Mass.



THE LEGEND OF SAINT GALONNEK.


Saint Galonnek was a native of Ireland, as, indeed, were almost all
the teachers in Brittany of those days, and called himself Galonnus,
being evidently of Roman origin. But after he had left his native land,
and the fame of his good deeds had spread far and wide, the Bretons,
seeing that his heart was like one of those fresh springs of water
that are ever bubbling beneath unfading verdure, changed his name to
Galonnek, which signifies in their language the open-hearted.

And, in truth, never had any child of God a soul more tenderly
awakened to the sufferings of his fellow-men. No sorrow was beneath his
sympathy; but it was like the sea-breeze, springing with each tide,
never failing to refresh the traveller weary on his way, or to fill
the sails of the humble fishing-boat, and bring it safe to land.

His father and mother were people of substance, and though themselves
buried in the darkness of paganism, spared not the tenderest solicitude
in the education of their son. He was placed under the instruction
of the most learned masters Ireland could afford, and above all, had
the honour of being a pupil of St. Patrick, then found amongst them
like a nightingale in the midst of wrens, or a beech-tree towering
above the ferns on a common.

Under his teaching the boy grew up, learning only to regard himself in
the person of God and his neighbours; and with so fervent a love for
souls did the holy apostle of Ireland inspire Galonnek, that at the
age of eighteen he had no higher wish than to cross over to Brittany,
and preach the kingdom of Heaven to sorrowful sinners.

His father and mother, who had then long since been converted,
desired to throw no hindrance in the way of his accomplishing this
pious work; but embracing him with tears, they bade him God speed,
assured that they should meet again once more before the throne of God.

Galonnek took his passage in a boat manned by evil-disposed sailors,
whose design was to plunder him; but when they discovered that
the holy youth was possessed of nothing but an iron crucifix and
a holly-staff, they turned him out upon the coast of Cornouaille,
where they abandoned him, helpless and without provisions.

Galonnek walked about a long time, not knowing where he was, but
perfectly tranquil in his mind, certain that he was in his Master's
kingdom. The sea that roared behind him, the birds that warbled in
the bushes, and the wind murmuring in the leaves, all spoke alike to
him, each with its own peculiar voice, the name of that Master whose
creatures and subjects they were.

He came at length, towards evening, to a part of the country lying
between Audierne and Plougastel-des-Montagnes, and there finding
a village, he seated himself on the doorstep of the first house,
awaiting an invitation to enter.

But, far from that, the owner of the house bade him rise and go
away. Galonnek then went to the door of the next house, and received
the same inhospitable order; and so on from door to door throughout
the village. And from the expression every where used to him, zevel,
this village was afterwards called Plouzevel, literally, people who
said, Get up.

The saint was preparing to stretch his weary limbs by the roadside,
when he perceived a cabin which he had not yet noticed, and drew near
the door.

It was the dwelling of a poor widow, possessed only of a few acres
of barren land, which she had no longer strength to till. But if the
fruits of her land were little worth, those of her heart were rich and
plentiful. So tenderly generous was her charity, that if any one asked
her for a draught of goat's milk, she would give him cream; and if one
begged for cream, she would have been ready to bestow the goat itself.

She received Galonnek as if he had been her dearly-beloved son, long
absent, and supposed dead. She ministered to him of the best she had,
listening with devotion to his holy teaching; and having already
charity, the very key of true religion, she was ready to embrace with
all her heart the faith of Christ. So early as the very next morning
she begged the grace of baptism; and Galonnek, seeing that the love
of her neighbours had already made her a Christian in intention,
consented to bestow it. But water was wanted at the moment of the
ceremony; and St. Galonnek going out, took a spade, and digging for
a few moments in the old woman's little courtyard, there sprung out
an abundant fountain; and he said,

"By the aid of this water your barren land will become fertile meadows
covered with rich grass, and you will be able to feed as many cows
in your new pastures as you have now goats browsing on your heath."

This miracle began to open the eyes of the villagers; and they gave
permission to Galonnek to take up his abode in a forest which stretched
in those days from Plouzevel to the sea-shore. There the holy disciple
of St. Patrick built himself a hut of turf and boughs.

One day whilst praying in this oratory, he heard the hoofs of a
runaway horse; and leaving his devotions to see what was the matter,
he saw a knight thrown from his horse amidst the thicket.

Galonnek ran to his assistance; and having with much difficulty
carried him to his hermitage, he began to bathe his wounds, to dress
them with leaves for want of ointment, and to bind them up with strips
torn from his own gown of serge.

Now it chanced that this knight was the Count of Cornouaille himself;
and he was found presently by the attendants, whom he had outstripped,
peacefully sleeping on the saint's bed of fern. But behold, when
he awakened, that saint's prayers had stood instead of remedies,
and all his wounds were healed.

And whilst all stood astonished at this miracle, St. Galonnek said
gently,

"Do not be so much surprised; for if by faith mountains may be moved,
why should not charity heal death itself?"

The count, filled with wonder and delight, declared that the whole
forest should become the property of the man who had done so much
for him; and not that only, but that he should have as much good
meadow-land as could be enclosed within the strips he had torn from
his gown to bind the wounds, each strip being reduced to single
threads. Thus Galonnek became the owner of a whole parish; and a
proverb arose, which is still current in those parts, That it is
with the length of a benefit received one must measure the field
of gratitude.

Yet Galonnek was none the richer, notwithstanding the noble liberality
of the count. All the income of his estate was given to the poor,
whilst he still lived on in his leafy hermitage. But as many young men
were attracted from the neighbourhood by his reputation for holiness
and learning, he built many other cells beside his own; and thus from
his school in that solitary glade the light of the Gospel went forth
in time through all the length and breadth of the country.

It was amidst the perfume of wild-flowers, beside the murmuring brook,
that Galonnek taught his pupils. He would teach them to understand
somewhat of the providence of God by making them observe the tender
care with which the little birds prepare a downy nest for offspring
yet unborn. He would point out to their attention how the earth yields
moisture to the roots of trees, how the trees become a dwelling-place
for thrushes and for finches, and how these again make musical the
forest with their cheerful strains, to illustrate the advantage and
necessity of mutual benevolence and brotherly love. And when need was
to stimulate their efforts or their perseverance, he would lead them
to behold the ant, unwearied in her toil, or the constant woodpecker
whose tiny bill achieves the scooping of an oak.

But this teaching did not confine him in one place; and wherever he
went his presence was as that of a star in the midst of darkness.

Now in those days the inhabitants of Brittany still exercised the
right of wrecking, or in other words, reserved to themselves the
privilege of plundering any unfortunate vessels thrown upon their
coasts. They spoke of the sea as a cow given to their ancestors by
God, and that brought forth every winter for their benefit; thus they
looked on shipwrecks as a positive blessing.

One night, during a heavy storm, as Galonnek was returning to his
forest from the sick-bed of a poor man, he saw the dwellers on the
coast leading a bull along the rocks. His head was bound down towards
his fore-legs, and a beacon-light was fastened to his horns. The
crippled gait of the animal gave an oscillating motion to the light,
which might be well mistaken at a distance for the lantern of a ship
pitching out at sea, and thus deceive bewildered vessels, uncertain
in the tempest of their course, into the notion of yet being far from
shore. Already one thus treacherously beguiled was on its way to
ruin, and might be seen close upon the rocks, its full white sails
gleaming through the night; another moment and it would have been
aground among the breakers.

Galonnek rushed amidst the peasants, extinguished the false beacon,
and reproached them for such treachery. But they would not listen to
him, and prepared to rekindle the light. Then the saint cried,

"By all your hopes in this world and the next, have done! for it is
your own brethren and children that you are drawing to destruction."

And whilst they stood uncertain, God kindled up the sky with flashing
lightning; and beholding the vessel as if it had been noonday, they
saw that it was indeed a Breton ship.

Terrified by the dangers to which they had exposed themselves, they
all fell down at the saint's feet; the women kissed the hem of his
garment with floods of tears, as if his hands had rescued their sons
from the depths of the sea, and all with one voice exclaimed,

"But for him we should have become the murderers of our friends
and neighbours."

"Alas, those whom you have already lured to death were equally your
neighbours and your friends," replied St. Galonnek; "for we are
all descended from Adam, and have been ransomed by the blood of the
same God."

The peasants, deeply moved, perceived their guilt, and promised to
renounce this custom of their fathers.

Much about the same time, the country of Pluguffant was ravaged
by a dragon, which devoured whole flocks with their shepherds and
dogs. In vain had the most courageous men banded themselves together
to destroy it. The ferocious monster had put them all to flight; and
now nobody dared to stir out of doors to lead his cattle to water,
or go and work in the fields. As soon as Galonnek knew this sad state
of things, he set out for the court of the Count of Cornouaille,
and asked there which knight was the most valiant before God and
man. Every voice declared him to be Messire Tanguy de Carfor, who
had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, and killed more than a
thousand Saracens with his own hand.

Galonnek desired him to gird on his sword and armour, and to come and
fight the dragon, which God had given him a mission to destroy. Carfor
instantly armed himself, and accompanied the saint to the monster's
den, from which he came out, howling frightfully at their approach.

Carfor hesitated in spite of himself at so unwonted an appearance;
but Galonnek said to him,

"For your soul's sake, messire, have confidence in God, and you shall
kill this monster as easily as a gadfly."

Thus encouraged, the knight advanced to the attack, and with scarce an
effort pierced the dragon three times through with his sword, whilst
the saint called upon the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.

Galonnek also freed the country from many other scourges, such as
wolves, reptiles, and mosquitoes with fiery stings; and being now old
enough to receive holy orders, he was ordained by St. Pol; and built
a little chapel beside his oratory, where every day he celebrated Mass.

Meanwhile the leafy cells around him multiplied so fast, that at
last they were united in a monastery, called by Galonnek Youlmad,
or the house of good desires.

He was engaged in drawing up a rule for this monastery, when he was
interrupted by a disturbing rumour which arose in the neighbourhood.

It was said that a woman clothed in red, and with a ghastly
countenance, had taken passage in a fishing-boat from Crozon. She
landed near Poullons; and when questioned as to her name on departing,
she had replied that she was called the Lady of Pestilence. And, in
fact, it came to pass, that within a very few days both men and animals
were smitten with a contagious disease, which carried them off after a
few hours' illness. So great was the mortality, that wood sufficient
for the coffins could not be found; and for want of grave-diggers,
the corpses were laid to rest in furrows hollowed by the plough.

Those who were well off gathered all their effects together in wagons,
and harnessing all the horses they possessed, drove away at full
speed to the mountains, which the pallid woman had not passed. But the
poorer people, who had no means of conveyance, and were unwilling to
leave their little all, awaited their doom at home, like sheep lying
down to rest around the butcher's door.

In this extremity, however, they were not abandoned by Galonnek. He
went from hut to hut, carrying aid or consolation. Linen for shrouds
and wood for coffins might indeed be wanting; but he swathed the
fever-spotted dead in leafy twigs, and bore them in his own arms
to consecrated earth, laying them down tenderly as sleeping infants
in their cradle-bed. Then planting a branch of yew, and another of
blossoming broom, he entwined them in the form of a cross, and set
them as an emblem on the grave; the yew symbolising the sorrow which
underlies the whole course of life, and the blossoming broom the
transitory joys which gleam across it. And it is said, that when at
last the pestilence was stayed, these holy crosses covered a space of
three days' journey. So many generous and pious acts had spread the
fame of Galonnek both far and wide, and all Cornouaille was inflamed
with devotion. Persons came from all parts to the convent of Good
Desires to listen to his teaching, to ask his prayers, and to offer him
gifts; but these the saint only accepted for the purposes of charity.

"The priest," he used to say, "is only as a canal, which serves to
carry water from overflowing streams to arid barren plains."

Another of his sayings was, "God has given us two hands; one with
which to receive His good treasures, and the other to administer the
same to those who need."

And thus, although the neighbouring nobles had loaded him with
presents, his monastery and church were radiant only with his good
actions. He was accustomed to sleep upon an osier hurdle, and wore
nothing better than a gown of faded serge. But all this external
poverty threw out with stronger lustre the brightness of his hidden
worth; and Galonnek was like one of those caskets made of earth or
bark, in which are treasured rubies and carbuncles.

The see of Cornouaille becoming vacant, Galonnek was summoned with
one voice to fill it. He was anxious to refuse; but St. Pol himself
came to find him out, and said to him that God's stars have no right
to conceal themselves in the grass, but must take their places in
the firmament. Then St. Galonnek resigned himself; but when the
moment came for leaving the turfen oratory, where he had spent the
best part of his life, his heart became so heavy that he burst into
tears, and cried aloud, "Alas, how shall I become worthy of the new
office which my brethren impose upon me?" Then, falling on his knees,
he prayed most fervently until God put strength into his heart. When
he arose, he took the humble chalice he had been accustomed to use,
his sole possession, save the memory of his good deeds, and went on
foot to the capital of Cornouaille, where he was consecrated Bishop.

Here began for St. Galonnek a new life of courage and self-denial. He
had to fight for the poor against the rich, for the weak against
the mighty. When his friends and disciples beheld him engage, all
unprotected, in these dangerous struggles, even the most courageous
were at times dismayed; but Galonnek would say with a smile, "Fear not,
my friends, their weapons cannot touch me. God Himself has forged
for me a breastplate with the tears of the sorrowful, the miseries
of the poor, and the despair of the oppressed. Behind this armour I
can feel no hurt. Blows can only do us mischief by glancing across us
at any of those who have taken up our cause; for from our very heart
distils a balsam that can heal as they come all the wounds inflicted
from without."

Moved by the sight of so much virtue, many powerful noblemen, who had
hitherto persisted in idolatry, came to ask of Galonnek instruction and
the grace of baptism; but he would only grant this favour in reward for
some good work. If any one had sinned, and came to seek for absolution,
Galonnek would give him for a penance some virtuous action to perform,
some charitable service to his fellow-men. He taught them to regard
God as the surety for recompenses merited but not received, to invest
their lives in Paradise, to break every tie which holds the soul in
bondage, that it may spring forward with unfettered flight in the
love of God and man.

About this time the Count of Cornouaille died, and was succeeded by
his son Tugduval. He was a conceited, vain-glorious youth, who could
not endure the least contradiction, and had not yet lived long enough
to find that life is an instrument on which the first chords we strike
are invariably false.

So unjust had he shown himself in many instances to the townspeople
and gentry, that they banded together and drove him from the city. But
Tugduval asked assistance from the Count of Vannes, and soon returned
with an army to which the rebels could offer no resistance. Multitudes
were slain in battle, and the survivors taking refuge in the city,
were besieged there by the count.

He rode round the city-walls, like a hungry wolf parading a sheepfold,
swearing never to forgive one of the rebels, or those who had given
them shelter.

So battering-rams were brought, and raised against the walls; and
when once a passage was forced, he mounted his war-horse, and ordering
every soldier to take a naked sword in one hand, and a lighted torch
in the other, he rushed at their head into the affrighted city.

But Galonnek had seen the terror of the conquered people, who only
looked for fire and sword; and coming out of the cathedral, with
all his priests in procession, bearing crosses and all their sacred
relics, he came the first to meet Tugduval, his bald head uncovered,
and his chalice in his hand.

The young count, astonished, checked his horse; but Galonnek went
straight up to his saddle-bow, there paused, and said in a gentle
voice, "If any will devour the flock, he must begin by slaying the
shepherd. I am here at your mercy, and am ready to purchase with my
blood forgiveness for the rest."

At the sight of this holy old man, whom he had early been taught
to reverence, and at that voice which had always sounded like a
benediction, Tugduval felt his rage dissolve away; and letting fall
his sword, he bent over his horse's neck, and kissed devoutly the
chalice carried by St. Galonnek. At that instant all the soldiers,
as if touched by the same emotion, put out their torches, and turned
their sword-points to the ground, crying as with one voice, "Quarter,
quarter for all!"

The young count waited not a repetition of this prayer; but dismounting
hastily, he followed the Bishop to the cathedral, where the conquerors
and the conquered joined in songs of thanksgiving to God.

This was the last great act of St. Galonnek's life. A very few months
after, he felt his strength decay, and knew that his end was near. He
did not, however, on that account relax in his good works. Returning
one day from a visit to a poor widow bereaved of her last son, he
suddenly found himself unable to proceed, and sat down to rest upon
a stone by the wayside. There a pedlar from the mountains found him,
some time after, sitting motionless; and thinking that he slept,
the man approached him, when he saw that he was dead. Judging from
the poverty of his apparel, the pedlar took him for a hermit of the
neighbourhood, and out of Christian charity wrapped the body in his
mantle for a funeral shroud. A shoemaker's wife, who lived a few
steps off, contributed an old chest to serve as a coffin, so that
Bishop Galonnek came to his grave like a beggar.

But the truth was soon discovered by the miracles which were wrought
at his tomb; and the body being taken from the earth, was carried with
great state to the city, and buried at the foot of the high altar in
the cathedral. St. Pol was requested to write an epitaph upon him;
but the apostle of Léon replied that none but an archangel could
compose one; so they merely covered the grave with a plain granite
slab, on which was carved the name of Galonnek.

Ages have passed away, and yet this stone still remains, and thither
the Breton mothers come to lay their new-born babes one instant on
its consecrated bosom, whilst they repeat the usual form of prayer:

"Saint Galonnek, bestow upon my child two hearts. Give him the heart
of a lion, that he may be strong in well-doing; and give him the
heart of a turtle-dove, that he may be full of brotherly love."

The feast of St. Galonnek is celebrated on the 1st of April, when
the buds of the hedgerows are bursting into leaf, and "the time of
the singing of birds is come."



THE KORILS OF PLAUDEN.


There dwelt formerly in the land of White-Wheat, as well as in
Cornouaille, a race of dwarfs, or Korigans, who, being divided into
four nations or tribes, inhabited the woods, the commons, the valleys,
and the farms. Those dwelling in the woods were called Kornikaneds,
because they played on little horns, which hung suspended from
their girdles; the inhabitants of the commons were called Korils,
from their spending all their nights in dancing by moonlight; the
dwellers in the valleys were Poulpikans, from their homes lying so
low; and the Teuz were wild black men, living near the meadows and
the wheat-fields; but as the other Korigans accused them of being too
friendly with Christians, they were forced to take flight into Léon,
where probably there may still be some of them remaining.

At the time of which I speak, there were only then hereabouts the
Kornikaneds, the Poulpikans, and the Korils; but they abounded in
such numbers, that after dark few people cared to venture near their
stony palaces.

Above all, there lay in Plauden, near the little market-town of
Loqueltas, a common known as Motenn-Dervenn, or place of oaks, whereon
there stood an extensive Koril village, that may be seen there to this
very day. The mischievous dwarfs came out to dance there every night;
and any one adventurous enough to cross the common at that time was
sure to be entrapped into their mazy chain, and forced to wheel about
with them till earliest cockcrow; so that the place was universally
avoided after nightfall.

One evening, however, Benead Guilcher, returning with his wife from
a field, where he had been doing a day's work in ploughing for a
farmer of Cadougal, took his way across the haunted heath because it
was so much the shortest road. It was still early, and he hoped that
the Korigans might not have yet begun their dance; but when he came
half-way over the Motenn-Dervenn, he perceived them scattered round
about the blocks of stone, like birds on a field of corn. He would
fain have turned him back; but the horns of the wood-dwarfs, and the
call-cries of the valley-imps, already rose behind him. Benead felt
his legs tremble, and said to his wife,

"Saint Anne, we are done for! Here come the Kornikaneds and the
Poulpikans to join the Korils for their midnight ball. They will make
us dance with them till daybreak; and it is more than my poor heart
can endure."

And, in fact, the troops of Korigans assembling from all parts,
came round about poor Guilcher and his wife like flies in August to
a drop of honey, but started back on seeing in his hand the little
fork Benead had been using to clear the ploughshare, and began to
sing with one accord,


   "Let him be, let her be,
    The plough-fork has he!
    Let them go on their way,
    The fork carry they!"


Guilcher instantly perceived that the instrument he held in his hand
acted as a charm against the power of the Korigans; and he and his
wife passed unmolested through the very midst of them.

This was a hint to every body. From that day forward it became a
universal custom to take out the little fork of an evening; and
thus armed, any one might cross the heaths and valleys without fear
of hindrance.

But Benead was not satisfied with having rendered this service to
the Bretons; he was an inquisitive as well as an intelligent man,
and as merry a hunchback as any in the four Breton bishoprics. For
I have omitted to tell you that Benead carried from his birth a hump
betwixt his shoulders, with which he would thankfully have parted at
cost-price. He was looked on also as an honest workman, who laboured
conscientiously for daily bread, and moreover well deserved the
character of a good Christian.

One evening, unable to resist the wish, he took his little fork,
commended himself devoutly to St. Anne, and set off towards the
Motenn-Dervenn.

The Korils saw him from a distance, and ran to him, crying,

"It is Benead Guilcher!"

"Yes, it is I, my little men," replied the jovial hunchback; "I have
come to pay you a friendly visit."

"You are welcome," replied the Korils. "Will you have a dance with us?"

"Excuse me, my good folks," replied Guilcher, "but your breath is
too long for a poor invalid."

"We will stop whenever you like," cried the Korils.

"Will you promise that?" said Benead, who was not unwilling to try
a round with them, as much for the novelty of the thing as that he
might have it to talk about.

"We will promise thee," said the dwarfs.

"By the Saviour's cross?"

"By the Saviour's cross."

The hunchback, satisfied that such an oath secured him from all
dangers, took his place in their chain; and the Korils began their
round, singing their accustomed song:


   "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday;
    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday." [4]


In a few minutes Guilcher stopped.

"With all due deference to you, good gentlefolks," said he to the
dwarfs, "your song and dance seem to me very monotonous. You stop
too early in the week; and without having much claim to be a skilful
stringer of rhymes, I fancy I can lengthen the chorus."

"Let us see, let us see!" cried the dwarfs.

Then the hunchback replied,


   "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday."


A great tumult arose amongst the Korils.

"Stard! stard!" [5] cried they, surrounding Guilcher; "you are a bold
singer and a fine dancer. Repeat it once more."

The hunchback repeated,


   "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday,"


whilst the Korils wheeled about in mad delight. At last they stopped,
and pressing round about Guilcher, they cried with one voice,

"What will you have? what do you want? riches or beauty? Speak a wish,
and we will fulfil it for you."

"Are you in earnest?" asked the labourer.

"May we be doomed to pick up grain by grain all the millet in the
diocese, if we deceive thee," they replied.

"Well," said Guilcher, "if you want to make me a present, and leave me
to choose what it shall be, I have one thing only to desire from you,
and that is, that you take away what I have got here set betwixt my
shoulders, and make me as straight as the flagstaff of Loqueltas."

"Good, good!" replied the Korils. "Be easy, come here." And seizing
Guilcher, they threw him in the air, tossing him from one to another
like a worsted ball, until he had made the round of the entire
circle. Then he fell upon his feet, giddy, breathless, but--without
his hump! Benead had grown younger, fatter, beautiful! Except his
mother, no one could have recognised him.

You may guess the surprise his appearance created on his return to
Loqueltas. No one could believe it was Guilcher; his wife herself
was doubtful about receiving him. Before she could recognise in him
her old humpback, he was compelled to tell her exactly how many
headdresses she had in her press, and what was the colour of her
stockings. At last, when every body knew for certain that it was
he, they became wonderfully anxious to find out what had effected
so strange a transformation; but Benead thought that if he told
the truth, he should be looked on as an accomplice of the Korigans;
and that every time an ox strayed, or a goat was lost, he should be
applied to for its restoration. So he told all those who asked him
questions, that it happened unknown to him whilst sleeping on the
heath. Thenceforth went all the crooked folk who were silly enough
to believe him, and spent their nights upon the open heath, hoping to
rise like arrows in the morning; but many people suspected that there
was a secret in the matter, which Guilcher was unwilling to disclose.

Amongst these latter was a tailor with red hair and squinting eyes,
called, from his stammering speech, Perr Balibouzik. He was not, as
is usual with his craft, a rhymester, lively on his board as a robin
on its twig, and one who scented pancakes from afar as dogs do game;
Balibouzik never laughed, never sung, and fed upon such coarse black
barley bread that one could count the straws in it. He was a miser,
and, worse than that, a bad Christian; lending out his money at such
heavy interest, that he ruined all the poor day-labourers of the
country. Guilcher had long owed him five crowns, and had no means of
paying them. Perr went in quest of him, and demanded them once more.

The ci-devant hunchback excused himself, promising to pay after
fair-time; but Balibouzik declared that the only condition upon which
he would agree to any further delay was that of being at once put
in possession of the secret how to grow young and handsome. Thus
driven to extremities, Guilcher related his visit to the Korils,
what words he had added to their song, and how the choice had been
given him between two wishes.

Perr made him repeat every detail many times over, and then went away,
warning his debtor that he would give him eight days longer to lay
hands on the five crowns.

But what he had heard awakened within him all the rage of avarice. He
resolved that very night to visit the Motenn-Dervenn, to mix in
the dance of Korigans, and to gain the choice between two wishes,
as proposed to Guilcher,--namely, riches and beauty.

So soon, therefore, as the moon arose, behold Balibouzik the
Squinter on his way towards the common, carrying a little fork in
his hand. The Korils saw him, ran to meet him, and demanded whether
he would dance. Perr consented, after making the same conditions as
Benead, and joined the dancing company of little black men, who were
all engaged in chanting the refrain which Guilcher had increased:


   "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday."


"Wait!" cried the tailor, seized with sudden inspiration; "I also
will add something to your song."

"Add, add!" replied the Korils.

And all once more exclaimed,


   "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday."


They stopped, and Balibouzik stammered out alone,


   "And the Sun--Sun--Sunday too."


The dwarfs uttered a prolonged murmur.

"Well?" they cried all at once.


   "Sun--Sunday too,"


repeated the tailor.

"But go on, go on."


   "Sun--Sunday."


"Well, well, well?"


   "Sun--Sunday too!"


The Koril chain was broken up; they ran about as if furious at not
being understood.

The poor stammerer, terrified, stood speechless, with his mouth
wide open. At length the waves of little black heads grew calmer;
they surrounded Balibouzik, and a thousand voices cried at once,

"Wish a wish! wish a wish!"

Perr took heart.

"A wi-wi-sh," said he. "Guilcher cho-o-ose between riches and beauty."

"Yes, Guilcher chose beauty, and left riches."

"Well, for my part, I choose what Guilcher left."

"Well done!" cried the Korils. "Come here, tailor."

Perr drew near in transport. They took him up as they had done Benead;
threw him from hand to hand all round their circle; and when he
fell upon his feet, he had between his shoulders what Guilcher had
left--that is to say, a hump.

The tailor was no more Balibouzik simply, he was now Tortik-Balibouzik.

The poor deformed creature came back to Loqueltas shamefaced as a dog
who has had his tail cut off. As soon as what had happened to him was
known, there was not a creature but longed to get sight of him. And
every one beholding his back, grown round as that of a well-digger,
uttered an exclamation of astonishment. Perr raged beneath his hump,
and swore to himself that he would be revenged upon Guilcher; for that
he alone was the cause of this misfortune, being a favourite of the
Korigans, and having doubtless begged them thus to insult his creditor.

So the eight days once expired, Tortik-Balibouzik said to Benead,
that if he could not pay him his five crowns, he would go and send
the officers of justice to sell all he had. Benead entreated in vain;
the new hunchback would listen to nothing, and announced that the very
next day he should send to the fair [6] all his furniture, his tools,
and his pig.

Guilcher's wife uttered loud cries, reiterating that they were
disgraced before the parish, that nothing now was left for them but to
take up the wallet and white staff of mendicants, and go begging from
door to door; that it was well worth Benead's while to have become
straight and noble in appearance only to take up the straw girdle;
[7] and thousands of other unreasonable sayings, after the fashion
of women when they are in tribulation,--and when they are not.

To all these complaints Guilcher replied nothing, unless it were that
submission to the will of God and His Blessed Mother was above all
things necessary; but his heart was humbled to the core. He reproached
himself now with not preferring wealth to beauty, when he had the
choice; and he would only too willingly have taken back his hump,
well garnished with gold, or even silver, crowns. After seeking in
vain for a way out of his trouble, he made up his mind to revisit
Motenn-Dervenn.

The Korils welcomed him with shouts of joy, as before, and made
him join them in their dance. Benead had no heart for merriment;
but he would not damp their mirth, and began to jump with all his
might. The delighted dwarfs skipped about like dead leaves driven by
the winter's wind.

As they ran they repeated the first line of their song, their companion
took up the second; they went on to the third, and, that being the
last, Guilcher was compelled to finish the tune without words, which
in a short time grew tiresome to him.

"If I might venture to give you my opinion, my little lords," said he,
"your song has the same effect upon me as the butcher's dog, it goes
upon three legs."

"Right, right!" cried all the voices.

"I think," said Benead, "it would be much the best way to add another
foot."

"Add, add!" replied the dwarfs.

And all sung out with one accord, and in a piercing utterance,


   "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday,
    And the Sunday too!"


There was a short silence; the dwarfs waited to see what Guilcher
would say.


   "All the week have you!"


finished he gaily.

Thousands of cries which made but one cry rose up from all corners
of the common. The whole heath was instantly covered with jumping
Korigans. They sprung out from tufts of grass, from bushes of broom,
from rocky clefts,--one would have said it was a very hive of little
black men; whilst all gambolling amongst the heather, they exclaimed,


   "Guilcherik, our saviour! he
    Has fulfill'd the Lord's decree!"


"By my soul! what does all this mean?" cried Benead in astonishment.

"It means," replied the Korigans, "that God had sentenced us to dwell
here amongst men, and every night to dance upon the common, until
some good Christian should finish our refrain. You first lengthened
it, and we hoped that the tailor you sent would have completed it;
but he stopped short on the very point of doing so, and for that we
punished him. You fortunately have done what he could not; our time
of trial now is over, and we shall go back to our kingdom, which
spreads under ground, beneath the very sea and rivers,"

"If this is so," said Guilcher, "and you really are so far indebted
to me, do not go away and leave a friend in trouble."

"What do you want?"

"The means of paying Balibouzik to-day, and the baker for ever."

"Take our bags, take our bags!" exclaimed the Korigans.

And they threw at Benead's feet the little bags of rusty cloth which
they wore strapped on their shoulders.

He gathered up as many as he possibly could carry, and ran all
joyous home.

"Light the resin," cried he to his wife, on entering, "and close the
screen, that nobody may see us; for I bring home wealth enough to
buy up three whole parishes, their judges, rectors, and all."

At the same time he spread out upon the table the multitude of little
bags, and set himself to open them. But, alas, he had been reckoning
the price of his butter before he had bought the cow. [8] The bags
enclosed nothing more than sand, dead leaves, horsehair, and a pair
of scissors.

On seeing this he uttered such a dreadful cry that his wife, who
had gone to shut the door, came back to ask him what could be the
matter. Then Benead told her of his visit to the Motenn-Dervenn,
and all that had occurred there.

"St. Anne have pity on us!" cried the frightened woman; "the Korigans
have been making sport of you."

"Alas, I see it but too well," replied Guilcher.

"And you have dared, unhappy man, to touch these bags, the property
of the accursed."

"I thought I should find something better in them," exclaimed Benead
piteously.

"Nothing good can come from good-for-nothings," replied the old
woman. "What you have got there will bring an evil spell upon our
house. Heavens! if only I have a drop of holy water left."

She ran to her bed, and taking from the wall a little earthen holy
water-stoup, she steeped in it a branch of box; but scarcely had the
dew of God been sprinkled on the bags, when the horsehair changed at
once to necklaces of pearls, the dead leaves into gold, and the sand
to diamonds. The enchantment was destroyed, and the wealth that the
Korigans would fain have hidden from a Christian eye was forced to
reassume its proper form.

Guilcher repaid Balibouzik his five crowns. He gave to every poor
person in the parish a bushel of wheat, with six ells of cloth; and
he paid the rector handsomely for fifty Masses; then he set out with
his wife for Josselin, where they bought a mansion, and where they
reared a family who now are gentlefolks.



THE BLESSED MAO.


Those Christians who stand in need of heavenly aid cannot do better
than apply themselves to our Lady of All-Help near Faou. In that place
has been built, expressly in her honour, the very richest chapel ever
yet raised for her by human hands. The whole inside is ornamented
with golden images, and the belfry-tower, which is made exactly like
the one at Kreisker, is perforated like a Quimper fritter. There
stands also near the church a stone fountain, famed for healing the
infirmities both of body and soul.

It was at this chapel that Mao stopped on his road to pray. Mao came
from Loperek, which is a pleasant little parish between Kimerc'h and
Logoma. His friends and relations were all dead, and his guardian had
sent him off to seek his living where he liked, with a good club-stick
in his hand and three silver crowns in his purse.

After saying devoutly at the foot of the high-altar all the prayers
he had ever learned from the curé, or the old woman who had nursed
him, Mao went out of church to go on his way. But as he passed the
palisades, he saw a crowd of people gathered around a corpse upon
the grass, and learnt upon inquiry that it was the body of a poor
beggar-man, who had yielded up his soul the morning before, and who
could not be buried for want of the money-payment.

"Was he, then, a heathen, or a wretched reprobate who had been
unfaithful to his Christian duties, that no one will do him this
charitable service?" asked Mao.

"He was a sheep of the true fold," replied one who stood by; "and
however hardly he might be pressed by hunger, he would not pluck the
three apples, or even ears of corn, which are permitted by old usage
to be gathered by the passing stranger. But poor Stevan has not left
the means of paying for his funeral, and so here he is allowed to
lie. If I were not as poor myself, I would not have allowed him to
lie here so long."

"Alas," cried Mao, "are the people so cruel in this part of the world,
that they suffer the poor to enter the church-doors whilst living,
but not after death? If money is all that is wanted, here are three
crowns; they are all I have, but I will gladly give them to unlock
holy ground to one of the faithful departed."

The sexton and the priest were now sent for, and the body of the poor
beggar was solemnly committed to the grave. As for Mao, he made a
simple cross of two yew-branches, set it on the grave of the poor
beggar; and after having devoutly repeated a De profundis, he set
off once more upon his journey towards Camfront.

After a time, however, Mao grew both hungry and thirsty, and
remembering that he had nothing left of what his guardian had
bestowed, he set himself to gather blackberries, wild-sorrel, and
sloes from the hedges. And whilst thus employed, he watched the birds
that picked their living from the bushes, and said within himself,
"After all, these birds are better off than baptised creatures. They
have no need of inns, of butchers, bakers, or gardeners; God's open
sky belongs to them, and His earth is stretched before them like
a table always spread; the little insects are to them as game, the
grass in seed their fields of corn, the fruit of the wild-rose or
hawthorn their dessert; they are at liberty to gather all without
payment or permission asked. No wonder that the birds are joyous,
and sing from morning till night."

Turning these thoughts in his mind, Mao slackened his pace, and at
last sat himself down under the shade of an old oak-tree, where he
fell asleep. But behold, in his sleep, a holy man appeared suddenly
before him, clad in shining raiment, who thus spoke:

"I am the poor beggar Stevan, for whom you purchased a consecrated
grave. The Blessed Virgin Mary, whom I endeavoured to serve while
on earth, now reckons me amongst her court, and has vouchsafed to me
the privilege of bringing you good news. Think not the birds of the
air can possibly be happier than baptised creatures; for the Son of
God has shed His blood for these, and they are the favourites of the
Holy Trinity. And now hear what the Three Divine Persons will do to
recompense your piety. There stands hereabouts, beyond the meadows,
an old manor house: you will know it by its weather-vane, which
is painted red and green. A man of rank dwells there; his name is
Trehouar; and he has a granddaughter, lovely as the day, and gentle
as a new-born child. Go you, and knock this evening at his door,
saying that 'you are come, he knows for what.' He will receive you,
and you will of your own self make out the rest. Only remember,
that if you are in want of help, you must say,


   'Dead beggar, make haste, make haste to me;
    For I am sorely in need of thee.'"


With these words the holy man vanished, and Mao awoke. His first
impulse was to thank God for vouchsafing such protection over him; and
this done, he set off across the meadows to find the manor-house. As
night was coming on, he had some doubts of being able to do so; but at
last he observed a flight of pigeons, which he set himself to follow,
feeling certain they could only lead him to the house of a noble. And,
in fact, he soon perceived the red-and-green weather-vane overtopping
a little orchard of black-cherry trees laden with fruit; for this
was a part of the country famous for black cherries. It is from the
mountain parishes that all those cherries are brought which may be
seen spread out on straw at the Léon festivals, and with which the
young men fill their great beaver hats for the damsels of their choice.

Mao crossed the lawn, shaded with walnut-trees, and then knocked at
the most insignificant door he could find, saying, according to the
directions, that "he was come for--they knew what." The master of the
house was soon fetched. He came, his head shaking, for he was old and
feeble, and leaning on the arm of his fresh young granddaughter. To
have seen them together, you would have thought of an old tottering
wall supported by a blooming honeysuckle.

The old gentleman and his granddaughter welcomed the young man with
the greatest politeness; a worked ottoman was drawn for him close
beside the grandfather's arm-chair, and he was treated with sweet
cider whilst they waited for supper.

Mao was much surprised to see the way in which he was received, and
found great delight in watching the young girl, who prepared every
thing with tripping step, singing the while like a very lark.

At last, when supper was over, and Liçzenn,--for so the old man called
his grandchild,--had cleared all away, he said to Mao,

"We have treated you to the best of our ability, and according to
our means, young man, though not according to our wishes; for the
mansion of the Trehouars has been long afflicted by a most grievous
plague. Formerly you might have counted twenty horses, and full forty
cows, here; but the evil spirit has taken possession of the stalls
and stables; cows and horses have disappeared one after another,
and that as often as they have been replaced, until the whole of my
savings have been thus consumed. All religious services to rid us of
this destructive demon have hitherto failed. There has been nothing
for us but to submit; and for want of cattle my whole domain now
lies uncultivated. I had put some confidence in my nephew Matelinn,
who is gone to the war in France; but as he does not return, I have
given notice throughout the country, both from the altar and elsewhere,
that the man who can deliver the manor from this curse shall both marry
Liçzenn, and inherit my property after me. All those who have hitherto
made the attempt, by lying in wait in the stables, have disappeared
like the cows and horses. I pray God that you may be more fortunate."

Mao, whom the remembrance of his vision secured against all fear,
replied that, by the aid of the Blessed Virgin, he hoped to triumph
over the hidden foe. So, begging that he might have a fire to keep
him warm, he took his club-stick, and went forth.

The place to which he was conducted was a very large shed, divided
in two parts for the use both of the cows and horses; but now all
was empty from one end to the other, and the cobwebs hung in thick
festoons from the racks.

Mao kindled a fire of broom upon the broad paving-stones, and began
to pray.

The first quarter of an hour he heard nothing but the crackling of
the flame; the second quarter of an hour he heard nothing but the
wind that whistled mournfully through the broken door; the third
quarter of an hour he heard nothing but the little death-watch
tapping in the rafters overhead; but the fourth quarter of an hour,
a dull sound rumbled beneath the pavement; and at the further end of
the building, in the darkest corner, he saw the largest stone rise
slowly up, and the head of a dragon coming from below. It was huge
as a baker's kneading-trough, flattened like a viper's, and all round
the forehead shone a row of eyes of different colours.

The beast raised his two great fore-feet armed with scarlet claws
upon the edge of the pavement, glared upon Mao, and then crept hissing
from his hole. As he came on, his scaly body could be seen unrolling
from beneath the stone like a mighty cable from a ship's hold.

Courageous as was the youth, at this spectacle his blood ran cold;
and just as he began to feel the dragon's breath, he cried aloud,


   "Dead beggar, make haste, make haste to me;
    For I am sorely in need of thee."


In an instant the shining form he had invoked was at his side.

"Fear nothing," said the saint; "those who are protected by the Mother
of God are always victorious over the monsters of the earth. Raise
your club and lay the dragon dead at your feet;" and with these words
he raised his hand, pronouncing some words that can only be heard in
heaven. Mao aimed a fearful blow at the dragon's head, and that very
moment the huge monster sank dead upon its side.

The next morning, when the sun rose, Mao went to awaken all the people
at the manor, and led them to the stables; but at sight of the dead
monster even the most courageous started back at least ten paces.

"Do not be afraid," said the young man; "the Blessed Mother came to
my assistance, and the beast that fed on cattle and their guardians
is nothing now but lifeless clay. Only fetch some ropes, and let us
drag it from this place to some lonely waste."

So they did as he desired; and when the dragon was drawn forth from
his den, the whole length of his body was so great that it extended
twice round the black-wheat barn-floor. [9]

The old man, happy in his deliverance from so dangerous an enemy,
fulfilled the promise he had made to Mao, and gave to him Liçzenn in
marriage. She was led to church at Camfront, her left arm circled,
after the custom of the country, by as many rows of silver-lace as
there were thousands of francs in her dowry; and the story goes that
she had eighteen.

As soon as he was married, Mao bought cattle, hired servants, and soon
brought the land about the manor to a more flourishing condition than
it had ever known before.

Then went the grandfather to seek his recompense from God, and left
all that he possessed to the young couple.

So happy were they in each other and themselves, that no baptised
creature ever felt the like,--so happy, that when they knelt in prayer,
they could think of nothing to request from God that He had not already
blest them with; so they had nothing to do but to thank Him. But
one day, as they were sitting down to supper with their servants,
one of their attendants introduced a soldier, so tall that his head
reached the rafters; and Liçzenn knew him for her cousin Matelinn. He
had come back from the French war to marry his cousin; and learning
what had come to pass during his absence, he had felt the bitterest
rage. Nevertheless, he betrayed nothing of his thoughts to Mao and
his wife; for his was a deceitful heart.

Mao, who suspected nothing, received him with affectionate kindness;
set before him the best of every thing in the house; had the handsomest
room prepared for his reception; and went out to show him all the
fields, now ripe for harvest.

But the higher Matelinn saw the flax, and the heavier the ears of corn,
the more he was enraged at not being the possessor of all this; to
say nothing of his cousin Liçzenn, who had grown more charming than
ever. So one day he proposed to Mao that they should hunt together
on the downs of Logoma, and thus contrived to lead him towards a
distant heath, where he had an old deserted windmill, against which
bundles of furze for the baker's oven at Daoulas had been heaped
up in great piles. When they reached this place, he turned his face
towards Camfront, and said suddenly to his young companion,

"Ah! I can see the manor all this way off, with its great courtyard."

"Which way?" asked Mao.

"Behind that little beech-wood. Don't you see the great hall-windows?"

"I am too short," said Mao.

"Ah, you are right, so you are; and it is a pity too, for I can see
my cousin Liçzenn in the little yard beside the garden."

"Is she alone?"

"No; there are some gentlemen with her whispering in her ear."

"And what is Liçzenn doing?"

"Liçzenn is listening to them, whilst she twists her apron-string."

Mao raised himself upon the tips of his toes. "Ah, I wish I could see,"
said he.

"Oh, it is easy enough," replied Matelinn "you have only to climb up
to the top of the mill, and you will be higher than I am."

Mao approved of this advice, and climbed up the old ladder. When he
reached the top, his cousin asked him what he saw?

"I see nothing but the trees, which seem as near the ground as wheat
of two months' growth," said Mao, "and houses looking in the distance
small as the sea-shells stranded on the shore."

"Look nearer," returned Matelinn.

"Nearer, I can only see the ocean, with its boats skimming the water
like seagulls."

"Look nearer yet," said the soldier.

"Still nearer is the common, bright with rose-blossoms and the
purple heath."

"Look down beneath you."

"Beneath me!" cried Mao, in terror. "Instead of the ladder to descend
by, I see flames rushing upwards to devour me."

And he saw rightly; for Matelinn had drawn away the ladder, and set
fire to the surrounding fagots, so that the old mill stood as in
a furnace.

Mao in vain besought the giant not to leave him there to perish in
so horrible a manner. He only turned his back, and went off whistling
down the moor.

Then the young man, feeling himself nearly suffocated, invoked the
saint once more:


   "Dead beggar, make haste, make haste to me;
    For I am sorely in need of thee."


Instantly the saint appeared, holding in his right hand a glittering
rainbow, one end of which was resting on the sea, and in his left
Jacob's mysterious ladder, that once led from heaven to earth. With
the rainbow he put out the fire, and by the ladder's aid poor Mao
reached the ground, and went safely home.

On beholding him, Matelinn was seized with surprise and consternation,
sure that his cousin would hasten to denounce him before the
magistrates; and rushing to fetch his arms and war-horse, was hurrying
from the courtyard, when Mao came to him, and said,

"Fear nothing, cousin; for no man saw what passed upon Daoulas
common. Your heart was hurt that God had given me more good things
than yourself; I wish to heal its wounds. From this day forward, so
long as I live, you shall share with me half of all that I possess,
save and except my darling Liçzenn. So come, my cousin, harbour no
more evil thoughts against me."

The deed of this convention was drawn up by the notary in the usual
form; and Matelinn received henceforward, every month, the half of
all the produce of the fields, the courtyard, and the stables.

But this noble generosity of Mao served only to increase the spite
and venom of his heart; for undeserved benefits are like wine drank
when one is not thirsty,--they bring us neither joy nor profit. He
did not wish Mao dead, because then he would have lost his share in
Mao's wealth; but he hated him, even as a caged wolf hates the hand
that feeds him.

What made him still more angry was, to see how every thing prospered
with his cousin. To crown his felicity, he had a son born to him, both
strong and beautiful, and one that wept not at his birth, the nurses
said. Mao sent the news out to the first people of the neighbourhood,
entreating them to come to the baptismal feast. And they came from more
than six leagues round,--from Braspars, Kimerc'h, Loperek, Logoma,
Faou, Irvillac, and Saint Eloi,--all mounted on handsomely-equipped
horses, with their wives or daughters behind them. The baptism of a
prince of Cornouaille himself could not have brought together a more
goodly assembly.

When all were drawn up ready in the front of the manor-house, and Mao
came to Liçzenn's chamber for the new-born babe, with those who were
to hold it at the font, and his nearest friends, Matelinn presented
himself also, with a traitor's joy depicted on his countenance. On
seeing him, the mother uttered a cry; but he, approaching, bent over
her with specious words, and thanked her for the present she had
made him.

"What present?" asked the poor woman, in surprise.

"Have you not added a new-born infant to my cousin's wealth?" said
the soldier.

"Certainly," replied Liçzenn.

"A parchment deed confirms to me," said Matelinn, "half of every thing
Mao possesses, save and except yourself; and I am consequently come
to claim my share of the child."

All who were present uttered a great cry; but Matelinn repeated calmly
that he would have his half of the child; adding that if they refused
it to him, he would take it himself, showing as he spoke a huge knife,
which he had brought with him for the purpose.

Mao and Liçzenn in vain, with bended knees and folded hands, besought
him to renounce his rights; the giant only answered by the whetting of
his knife against the steel which dangled at his waist; and at last
he was about to snatch the infant from its poor young mother's arms,
when Mao all at once recalled the invocation to the dead beggar, and
repeated it aloud. Scarcely had he finished, when the room was lighted
with a heavenly radiance, and the saint appeared upon a shining cloud,
the Virgin Mary at his side.

"Behold me here, my friends," said the Mother of God, "called by my
faithful servant from celestial glory to come and decide between you."

"If you are the Mother of God, save the child," cried Liçzenn.

"If you are the Queen of Heaven, make them render me my dues," said
Matelinn audaciously.

"Listen to me," said Mary. "You first, Mao, and you, Liçzenn, come
near me with your new-born child. Till now I have given you the joys
of life; I will do more, and give you for the future the delights of
death. You shall follow me into the Paradise of my Son, where neither
griefs, nor treachery, nor sicknesses can enter. As for you, Goliath,
you have a right to share the new benefit conferred on them; and you,
like them, shall die, but only to go down twelve hundred and fifty
leagues below the surface of the earth, [10] into the kingdom of the
wicked one, whose servant you are."

Saying these words, the Holy Mary raised her hand on high, and the
giant was buried in a gulf of fire; whilst the young husband, with his
wife and child, sank gently towards each other as in peaceful sleep,
and disappeared, borne upwards on a cloud.



KERIS.


In the olden times a king named Grallon reigned over the land of
Cornouaille. He was as good a man as any son of Adam, and gave a
cordial welcome at his court to all who had in any way distinguished
themselves, were they plebeian or noble in their birth. Unfortunately
his daughter was an ill-conducted princess, who, in order to evade
his parental rule, had taken herself off to live at Keris, some few
leagues from Quimper.

One day, whilst King Grallon was out hunting in a forest at the foot
of Menéhom, he and all his followers lost their way, and came at last
before the cell of the holy hermit Corentin. Grallon had often heard
tell of this saintly man, and was delighted to find he had discovered
his retreat; but as for the attendants, who were dying with hunger,
they looked with any thing but satisfaction upon the humble cell,
and whispered discontentedly amongst themselves that they should
certainly have to sup on pious prayers.

Corentin, enlightened by God's grace, perceived their thoughts, and
asked the king whether he would accept a little refreshment. Now
Grallon, who had eaten nothing since cockcrow that morning, was
extremely willing; so the saint, calling the king's cupbearer and
cook, desired them to prepare his majesty a good repast after his
long abstinence.

Then, leading them both to a fountain which bubbled near his cell,
he filled with water the golden pitcher carried by the first, and cut
a morsel from a little fish swimming in the basin, which he gave to
the second, desiring them both to spread the board for the king and
all his train. But the cupbearer and the cook began to laugh, and
asked the holy man if he could possibly mistake the king's courtiers
for miserable beggars, that he presumed to offer them his scraps of
fish-bone and his frog-wine. Corentin quietly besought them not to
be disturbed, for that God would provide for all.

Consequently they resolved to follow out the saint's directions,
and found, to their astonishment, his words come true. For while the
water he had poured into the golden pitcher came out a wine as sweet
as honey and as hot as fire, the morsel of fish became an ample meal
for twice as many guests as the king's suite contained.

Grallon was told by his two servants of this miracle; and they moreover
showed him, as a greater wonder, the very same little fish from which
Corentin had cut a portion, swimming safe and sound in the fountain,
as whole as if the saint's knife had never come near him.

At this sight the King of Cornouaille was struck with admiration, and
exclaimed to the hermit, "Man of God, this place is not for you; for
He who is my Master as well as yours has forbidden us to hide a light
beneath a bushel. You must leave this hermitage, and come with me. You
shall be Bishop of Quimper, my palace shall be your dwelling-place,
and the whole city your possession. I will build a monastery for your
disciples at Landevenec, and the abbot shall be chosen by yourself."

The good king kept his promise; and giving up his capital to the new
Bishop, he went to dwell himself in the town of Is.

This town then stood upon the very spot now covered by the Bay of
Douarnénèz. It was so large and so beautiful, that when the people of
old times were seeking for a title worthy of the capital of France,
they could find nothing better than to call it Par-is, that is to say,
The like of Is. It was lower than the sea itself, and was defended from
all fear of inundation by huge dikes, with doors to open occasionally
and let the tide in or out. Grallon's daughter, the Princess Dahut,
carried the silver keys which locked these doors suspended round her
neck, from which fact the people generally called her Alc'huèz, or
more shortly Ahèz. [11] Now she was a great magician, and had adorned
the town with numberless works of art far surpassing the skill of any
human hand. All the Korigans [12] throughout Cornouaille and Vannes
had assembled at her call to make the dikes and forge the iron doors;
they had plated the palace all over with a metal resembling gold
(Korigans being clever workers in metal), and had fenced in the royal
gardens with balustrades glittering like polished steel.

They it was that kept Dahut's beautiful stables in such perfect
order,--those stables that were paved with black, red, or white marble,
according to the different colours of the horses in the stalls. And
to the Korigans also was intrusted the care of the harbour, where
the sea-dragons were kept; for by her powerful art had Dahut gained
a wonderful ascendency over the monsters of the deep, so that she
had placed one at the disposal of each inhabitant of Keris, that it
should serve him like a horse, on which he might safely go across
the waves to fetch rich treasure from another shore, or to attack
the ships of foreign enemies. So these citizens were rich to that
degree they actually measured out their corn in silver vessels. But
wealth had hardened and perverted their hearts; beggars were hunted
like wild-beasts from the city, for they could not endure the sight
of any in their streets but merry prosperous folks dressed out in
smart apparel. Our Lord Himself, had He appeared amongst them clad in
sackcloth, would have been driven away. The only church remaining in
the city was so forsaken, that the very beadle had lost the key of
it; nettles grew upon its steps, and against the door-posts of the
principal entrance birds had built their nests. The people of the
place spent their days and nights in public-houses, dancing-rooms,
or theatres; the one only object of their lives being apparently to
ruin their immortal souls.

As for Dahut, she set them the example; day and night it was a gala in
the palace. Gentlemen, nobles, and princes came from the remotest lands
to visit this far-famed court. Grallon received them with courtesy,
and Dahut with something more. If they were good-looking, she bestowed
on them a magic mask, by means of which they were enabled to keep
private appointments with her in a tower standing near the floodgates.

There they might remain talking with her until the hour when the
sea-swallows, beginning their flight, passed before the tower-windows;
when Dahut hastily bade them farewell, and, in order that they might
go out, as they came, unseen, she once more brought forth her magic
mask; but, alas, this time it closed upon them of its own accord with
a strangling embrace. Then a black man took up the dead body, threw
it across his horse like a sack of wheat, and went to fling it down
the precipice between Huelgoat and Poulaouën. This is indeed only too
true; for even to this day can be heard from the depths of the ravine
the melancholy wailing of these wretched souls at evening hour. May
all good Christians bear them in remembrance at their prayers! [13]

Corentin, who heard of all the goings-on at Keris, had many a time
warned Grallon that the forbearance of God was drawing to a close;
[14] but the king had lost all his power, and dwelt quite solitary
in one wing of his palace, like a grandfather who has made over all
his property to his heirs; and as for Dahut, she cared nothing for
the threats or warnings of the saint.

Well, one evening, when she was keeping festival as usual, she was
informed that a powerful prince from the very ends of the earth had
arrived to see her, and he was instantly announced.

He was a man of vast stature, clad from head to foot in scarlet,
and so bearded that even his two eyes, glittering as stars, could
scarcely be seen. He began by paying compliments in rhyme to the
princess--no poet or minstrel could have conceived the like; and then
he went on talking with such brilliant wit, that the entire assembly
were struck dumb with astonishment. But what moved the friends of
Dahut with the greatest wonder was to find how far more skilful than
themselves this stranger was in sin. He was familiar, not only with
all that human malice has invented since the creation of the world,
in every region where mankind has dwelt, but with all that it ever
shall invent until the moment when the dead shall rise again from
their cold graves to stand before the judgment-seat of God. Ahèz and
her court perceived that they had found their master, and one and all
resolved to put themselves under the teaching of the bearded prince.

By way of beginning, he proposed to them a new dance, danced in hell
by the Seven Deadly Sins. So he called in for the purpose a musician
he had brought with him. This was a little dwarf, clad in goat-skin,
and carrying a sort of bagpipe under his arm.

Scarcely had he begun to play before Dahut and her courtiers were
seized with a sort of frenzy, and began to whirl about like the waves
of the sea in a furious storm. The stranger instantly took advantage
of the confusion to snatch the silver keys of the floodgates from
the princess's neck, and to vanish from the saloon.

Meanwhile Grallon sat all solitary in the great gloomy hall of his own
lonely palace. He was near the hearth; but the fire was almost out. His
heart grew every moment more and more heavy with sad thoughts, when all
at once the great folding-doors flew open, and St. Corentin appeared
upon the threshold, with a halo of glory round his brow, his pastoral
staff in his hand, and a cloud of incense floating all about him.

"Rise, great king," said he to Grallon; "take whatever precious things
may still be left you, and flee away; for God has given over to the
power of the demon this accursed city."

Grallon, terrified, started up; and calling to some faithful old
servants, took what treasure he possessed; and mounting his black
horse, followed after the saint, who shot like an arrow through
the air.

As they passed before the dikes, they heard a wild roar of waters, and
beheld the bearded stranger, now restored to his own demoniac form,
opening the floodgates with the silver keys he had taken from the
Princess Dahut. The sea already streamed like a torrent on towards
the devoted city; and the white waves, rearing their foamy crests
above the lofty roofs, seemed rushing to its overthrow. The dragons
chained within the harbour roared with terror, for even the beasts
could feel their end at hand.

Grallon would fain have uttered a cry of warning, but St. Corentin
once more entreated him to fly, and he plunged onwards at full gallop
towards the shore; on, on through streets and squares and high roads,
ever followed by the raging ocean, with the horse's hind hoofs always
in the surge. So passed he by the palace of Dahut herself, who darted
down the marble steps, her wild locks floating on the breeze, and
sprang behind her father on the saddle. The horse stood still suddenly,
staggered, and already the water mounted to the old king's knees.

"Help, help, St. Corentin!" he cried in terror.

"Shake off the iniquity you carry at your back," replied the saint,
"and, by the help of God, you shall be saved."

But Grallon, who was, after all, a father, hesitated what to do. Then
St. Corentin touched the princess on the shoulders with his pastoral
staff, and she sank downwards to the sea, disappearing in the depths
of the gulf, called after her the Gulf of Ahèz.

The horse, thus lightened of his load, made a spring forwards, and so
gained Garrec Rock, where to this very day may be seen the print-marks
of his iron shoes. [15]

The first act of the king was to fall upon his knees, and pour forth
thanks to God; then turning towards Keris, [16] he tried to judge how
great was the danger from which he had been so miraculously rescued,
but in vain he sought the ancient Queen of Ocean.

There, where had stood but a few moments before a harbour, palaces,
treasures of wealth, and thousands of people, was to be seen nothing
now but a smooth bay, on whose unruffled surface the stars of heaven
looked calmly down; but beyond, in the horizon, just over the last
ruins of the submerged dikes, there appeared the great red man,
holding up with a triumphant air the silver keys.

Many are the forests of oak that have sprung up and withered since
this awful warning; but through every generation fathers have told
it to their children until this day. Up to the time of the great
Revolution, the clergy of the different river-side parishes were wont
to embark every year in fisher-boats, and go to say Mass over the
drowned city. Since that time this custom has been lost, with many
another one; but when the sea is calm, the remains of the great town
may clearly be seen at the bottom of the bay, and the neighbouring
downs are full of relics which bear witness to its wealth.



THE STONES OF PLOUHINEC.


Plouhinec is a poor little market-town beyond Hennebon, towards the
sea. Bare commons or little fir-woods stretch all round it, and enough
grass to fit an ox for the butcher's knife, or so much bran as would
fatten one descendant of the Rohans, [17] has never yet been yielded
by the entire parish.

But if the people of those parts have reason to complain for want of
corn and cattle, they abound in flints to that degree that they could
furnish materials for the rebuilding of Lorient; and out beyond the
town there lies a great wide common, whereon are set by Korigans two
rows of tall stones that might be taken for an avenue, did they but
lead to any thing.

Near this place, hard by the banks of the River Intel, there lived
in former days a man named Marzinne. He was wealthy for those parts,
that is to say, he could salt down a little pig once a year, eat as
much black bread as he cared for, and buy himself a pair of wooden
shoes when Laurel Sunday came round. [18]

And he was looked upon as proud by his neighbours, and had taken upon
him to refuse the hand of his sister Rozenn to many a young fellow
who laboured for his daily bread.

Amongst others to Bernèz, a diligent labourer and a worthy Christian;
but one whose only treasure, coming into life, had been that of a good
will. Bernèz had known Rozenn as a little girl, when he first came
to work in the parish from Ponscorff-Bidré; and by degrees, as Rozenn
grew up, the attachment of Bernèz had grown stronger and stronger.

It may be easily believed that Marzinne's refusal was a terrible
heartsore for him; nevertheless he kept up his courage, for Rozenn
always received him kindly.

Well, Christmas-eve came round; and as a raging storm kept every
one at the farm from going to the midnight Mass, they all sat round
the fire together, with many young men from the neighbourhood, and
amongst them Bernèz. The master of the house, willing to show off,
had caused a supper of black-puddings, and hasty puddings made with
wheat flour and honey, to be prepared; so that they all sat gazing
towards the hearth, except Bernèz, whose eyes were fixed upon Rozenn.

But just as all the benches were drawn round the table, and every
wooden saucer ready to be dipped into the steaming bowl, an old man
suddenly pushed open the door, and wished the assembled company a good
appetite. He was a beggar from Pluvigner, one who never set his foot
on the church-floor, and of whom all good folks stood in dread. It was
said that he bewitched cattle, turned standing corn black, and sold
to wrestlers magic herbs. He was even suspected of becoming a goblin
[19] at his pleasure.

However, wearing as he did the garb of a mendicant, he was welcomed
by the farmer to the fireside; a three-legged stood was placed at
his disposal, and he received a portion with the guests.

When the beggar had done eating and drinking, he asked for a night's
lodging, and Bernèz showed him his way into the stable, where a bald
old ass and sorry ox were already established. The beggar stretched
himself down between the two to share their warmth, and rested his
head upon a pillow of turf.

But just as he was dropping off to sleep the clock struck twelve. Then
the old ass shook his long ears, and turned towards the ox.

"Well, my cousin," said he, in friendly tones, "and how has it gone
with you since last Christmas, when we talked together?"

Instead of answering, the horned beast looked sideways at the beggar,
and muttered,

"It was hardly worth while for the Almighty to vouchsafe us speech
together on a Christmas-eve, and thus to acknowledge the assistance
rendered by the presence of our ancestors at the birth of the Saviour,
if we are compelled to put up with this fellow as our auditor."

"You are very proud, my friend," answered the ass gaily. "It is I
rather who have reason to complain, I, whose noble ancestor once
carried the Saviour to Jerusalem, proved by the cross imprinted ever
since upon the shoulders of our family. But I can be well satisfied
with whatever Providence has seen fit to grant me. Besides which,
you see well enough that the sorcerer is asleep."

"All his witchcrafts have been powerless to enrich him," said the ox;
"and he has thrown his soul away for little enough. The devil has
not even hinted to him of the lucky chance he might have hereabouts
in the course of a few days."

"What lucky chance?" asked the ass.

"How!" cried the ox; "don't you know, then, that each hundred years
the stones on Plouhinec Common go down to drink at the river Intel,
and that whilst away the treasures they conceal are left exposed?"

"Ah, I remember now," interrupted the ass, "but then the stones
return so quickly to their places, that it is impossible to avoid
being crushed to pieces by them if you have not as your safeguard a
twig of cross-wort surrounded by the five-leaved clover."

"And besides," continued the ox, "the treasures you may carry off all
fade to dust unless you offer in return a baptised soul. A Christian
must suffer death before the devil will permit you to enjoy in peace
the wealth of Plouhinec."

The beggar was not asleep, but had listened breathless to this
conversation.

"Ah, my good friends," thought he to himself, "you have made me richer
than the wealthiest in all Vannes or Lorient. Be easy; the sorcerer
of Pluvigner shall not lose Paradise for nothing."

He slept at last; and rising at the break of day, he wandered through
the country seeking for the cross-wort and the five-leafed clover."

He was forced to look long and wander far, where skies are milder
and plants always green, before he was successful. But on the eve of
New-Year's Day he came again to Plouhinec, with the countenance of
a weasel that has just found out the entrance to a dovecote.

In crossing the common, he came upon Bernèz busy striking with a
pointed hammer on the tallest of the stones.

"Heaven preserve me!" cried the sorcerer, laughing, "are you anxious
to dig yourself a dwelling in this rocky mass?"

"No," answered Bernèz quietly; "but as I am just now out of work, I
thought that perhaps if I carved a cross upon one of these accursed
stones, I should perform an act agreeable in the sight of God, and
one that may stand me in good stead some other day."

"Then you have something to ask of Him?" said the old man.

"All Christians need to beg from Him salvation for their souls,"
replied the youth.

"And have you nothing too to say to Him about Rozenn?" pursued the
beggar, in a lower voice.

Bernèz looked full at him.

"Ah, you know that?" said he. "Well, after all, there is no shame
or sin in it. If I seek for the maiden, it is that I may lead her
to the presence of the priest. Unhappily Marzinne is waiting for a
brother-in-law who can count more reals than I have silver coins."

"And if I could put you in the way of having more louis-d'or than
Marzinne has reals?" said the sorcerer in an under-tone.

"You!" cried Bernèz.

"I!"

"And how much do you ask for this?"

"Only to be remembered in your prayers."

"Then there will be nothing that can compromise my soul?"

"Only courage is required."

"Tell me, then, what must be done," cried Bernèz, letting fall his
hammer. "If needs be, I am ready to encounter any difficulty."

The beggar, seeing him thus disposed, related how that on that very
night the treasures of the common would be all exposed; but he said
nothing at the same time of the way by which the stones were to be
avoided as they came trooping back. The young fellow thought nothing
was wanting but boldness and a swift step; so he said,

"As sure as I am a living man I will profit by this opportunity,
old man; and I shall always be at your service for the notice you
have given me of this great chance. Only let me finish the cross I
have begun engraving on this stone; when the time comes, I will join
you near the little pine-wood."

Bernèz kept his word, and arrived at the appointed place an hour
before midnight. He found the beggar carrying a wallet in each hand,
and one suspended round his neck.

"Come," said he to the young man, "sit down there, and think of
all that you will do when you have silver, gold, and jewels to your
heart's content."

The young man sat down on the ground and answered, "If I have silver
to my heart's content, I will give my gentle Rozennik [20] all that
she wishes for, and all that she can wish for, from linen to silk,
from bread to oranges."

"And if you have gold?" added the sorcerer.

"If I have gold at will," replied the youth, "I will make wealthy
all my Rozennik's relations, and all the friends of her relations,
to the utmost limits of the parish."

"And if at last you should have jewels in plenty?" continued the
old man.

"Then," cried out Bernèz, "I would make all the people in the world
happy, and I would tell them it was my Rozennik's desire."

Whilst talking thus, the hour slipped away, and midnight came.

At the same instant a great sound arose upon the heath, and by the
light of the stars all the huge stones might be seen leaving their
places, and hurrying towards the river Intel. They rushed down the
slope, grazing the earth as they went, and jostling each other like
a troop of drunken giants. So they swept pell-mell past the two men,
and were lost in darkness.

Then the beggar flew towards the common, followed by Bernèz; and there,
in the very spots where just before huge stones had reared themselves,
they now saw large holes piled to the brim with gold, with silver,
and with precious stones.

Bernèz uttered a cry of admiration, and made the sign of the cross;
but the sorcerer made haste to cram all his wallets, turning meanwhile
an attentive ear towards the river's bank.

He had just finished lading the third bag, whilst the young man
stuffed the pockets of his linen vest, when a dull sound like that
of an approaching storm was audible in the distance.

The stones had finished drinking, and were coming back once more.

They rushed, stooping forwards like runners in a race, and bore down
all before them.

When the youth perceived them, he started upright, and exclaimed,

"Ah, Blessed Virgin, we are lost!"

"I am not," said the sorcerer, taking in his hand the cross-wort and
the five-leaved clover, "for I have that here which will secure my
safety; but a Christian must be sacrificed to make good all these
treasures, and the bad angel put thee in my way. So give up Rozenn,
and prepare to die."

While yet he spoke the stony army was at hand; but holding forth
his magic nosegay, they turned aside to right and left to fall upon
Bernèz. He, feeling sure that all was over for him, sank down upon
his knees and closed his eyes; when the great stone that led the
troop stopped all at once, and barring the way, set itself before
him as a protecting rampart.

Bernèz, astonished, raised his head, and recognised the stone on which
his hand had traced a cross. Being thenceforward a baptised stone,
it could have no power to harm a Christian.

Remaining motionless before the young man until all its fellows had
regained their places, it then rushed forwards like a sea-bird to
retake its own, and met upon its way the beggar hampered with his
three ponderous bags of gold.

Seeing it advance, he would have defied it with his magic plants; but
the stone, become Christian, was no longer subject to the witchery of
the demon, and hurrying onwards, crushed the sorcerer like an insect.

Bernèz had not only all his own collection, but the three full wallets
of the mendicant, and became thus rich enough to wed his Rozenn, to
bring up a numerous family, and to succour his relations, as well as
the poor of the whole country around, to the end of his long life.



TEUZ-A-POULIET; [21] OR, THE DWARF.


The vale of Pinard is a pleasant slope which lies behind the city of
Morlaix. There are plenty of gardens, houses, shops, and bakers to
be found there, besides many farms that boast their ample cowsheds
and full barns.

Now, in olden times, when there was neither conscription nor general
taxation, there dwelt in the largest of these farms an honest man,
called Jalm Riou, who had a comely daughter, Barbaik. Not only was she
fair and well-fashioned, but she was the best dancer, and also the
best drest, in all those parts. When she set off on Sunday to hear
Mass at St. Mathieu's church, she used to wear an embroidered coif,
a gay neckerchief, five petticoats one over the other, [22] and silver
buckles in her shoes; so that the very butchers' wives were jealous,
and tossing their heads as she went by, they asked her whether she
had been selling the devil her black hen. [23] But Barbaik troubled
herself  not at all for all they said, so long as she continued to
be the best-dressed damsel, and the most attractive at the fair of
the patron saint.

Barbaik had many suitors, and among them was one who really loved
her more than all the rest; and this was the lad who worked upon her
father's farm, a good labourer and a worthy Christian, but rough and
ungainly in appearance. So Barbaik would have nothing to say to him,
in spite of his good qualities, and always declared, when speaking
of him, that he was a colt of Pontrieux. [24]

Jégu, who loved her with all his heart, was deeply wounded, and fretted
sorely at being so ill-used by the only creature that could give him
either joy or trouble.

One morning, when bringing home the horses from the field, he stopped
to let them drink at the pond; and as he stood holding the smallest
one, with his head sunk upon his breast, and uttering every now and
then the heaviest sighs, for he was thinking of Barbaik, he heard
suddenly a voice proceeding from the reeds, which said to him,

"Why are you so miserable, Jégu? things are not yet quite so
desperate."

The farmer's boy raised his head astonished, and asked who was there.

"It is I, the Teuz-à-pouliet," said the same voice.

"I do not see you," replied Jégu.

"Look closely, and you will see me in the midst of the reeds, under
the form of a beautiful green frog. I take successively whatever form
I like, unless I prefer making myself invisible."

"But can you not show yourself under the usual appearance of your
kind?"

"No doubt, if that will please you."

With these words the frog leaped on one of the horses' backs, and
changed himself suddenly into a little dwarf, with bright green dress
and smart polished gaiters, like a leather-merchant of Landivisiau.

Jégu, a little scared, drew back a step or two; but the Teuz told him
not to be afraid, for that, far from wishing him harm, he was ready
to do him good.

"And what makes you take this interest in me?" inquired the peasant,
with a suspicious air.

"A service which you rendered to me the last winter," said the
Teuz-à-pouliet. "You doubtless are aware that the Korigans of the
White-Wheat country and of Cornouaille declared war against our race,
because they say we are too favourably disposed to man. [25] We were
obliged to flee into the bishopric of Léon, where at first we concealed
ourselves under divers animal forms. Since then, from habit or fancy,
we have continued to assume them, and I became acquainted with you
through one of these transformations."

"And how was that?"

"Do you remember, three months ago, whilst working in the alder-park,
finding a robin caught in a snare?"

"Yes," interrupted Jégu; "and I remember also that I let it fly,
saying, 'As for thee, thou dost not eat the bread of Christians:
take thy flight, thou bird of the good God.'"

"Ah, well, that robin was myself. Ever since then I vowed to be your
faithful friend, and I will prove it too by causing you to marry
Barbaik, since you love her so well."

"Ah, Teuz-à-pouliet, could you but succeed in that," cried Jégu,
"there is nothing in this world, except my soul, that I would not
bestow upon you."

"Let me alone," replied the dwarf; "yet a few months from this time,
and I will see you are the master of that farm and of the maiden too."

"And how can you undertake that?" asked the youth.

"You shall know all in time; all you have to do just now is to smoke
your pipe, eat, drink, and take no trouble about any thing."

Jégu declared that nothing could be easier than that, and he would
conform exactly to the Teuz's orders; then, thanking him, and taking
off his hat as he would have done to the curé or the magistrate,
he went homewards to the farm.

The following day happened to be Sunday. Barbaik rose earlier than
usual, and went to the stables, which were under her sole charge;
but to her great surprise she found them already freshly littered,
the racks garnished, the cows milked, and the cream churned. Now,
as she recollected having said before Jégu, on the preceding night,
that she wanted to be ready in good time to go to the feast of
St. Nicholas, she very naturally concluded that it was he who had
done all this for her, and she told him she was much obliged. Jégu,
however, replied in a peevish tone, that he did not know what she
meant; but this only confirmed Barbaik in her belief.

The same good service was rendered to her now every day. Never had
the stable been so cleanly, nor the cows so fat. Barbaik found her
earthen pans full of milk at morning and at evening, and a pound of
fresh-churned butter decked with blackberry-leaves. So in a few weeks'
time she got into the habit of never rising till broad daylight,
to prepare breakfast and set about her household duties.

But even this labour was soon spared her; for one morning, on getting
out of bed, she found the house already swept, the furniture polished,
the soup on the fire, and the bread cut into the bowls; so that she
had nothing to do but go to the courtyard, and call the labourers
from the fields. She still thought it was an attention shown to her
by Jégu, and she could not help considering what a very convenient
husband he would be for a woman who liked to have her time to herself.

And it was a fact that Barbaik never uttered a wish before him that
was not immediately fulfilled. If the wind was cold, or if the sun
shone hot, and she was afraid of injuring her complexion by going to
the spring, she had only to say low, "I should like to see my buckets
filled, and my tub full of washed linen." Then she would go and gossip
with a neighbour, and on her return she would find tub and buckets just
as she had desired them to be, standing on the stone. If she found
the rye-dough too hard to bake, or the oven too long in heating,
she had only to say, "I should like to see my six fifteen-pound
loaves all ranged upon the board above the kneading-trough," and
two hours later the six loaves were there. If she found the market
too far off, and the road too bad, she had only to say over-night,
"Why am I not already come back from Morlaix, with my milk-can empty,
my tub of butter sold out, a pound of black cherries in my wooden
platter, and six reals [26] at the bottom of my apron-pocket?" and
the next morning, when she rose, she would discover at the foot of
her bed the empty milk-can and butter-tub, the pound of cherries in
her wooden plate, and six reals in her apron-pocket.

But the good offices that were rendered to her did not stop here. Did
she wish to make an appointment with another damsel at some fair,
to buy a ribbon in the town, or to find out the hour at which the
procession at the church was to begin, Jégu was always at hand; all she
had to do was to mention her wish before him, and the thing was done.

When things were thus advanced, the Teuz advised the youth to ask
Barbaik now in marriage; and this time she listened to all he had to
say. She thought Jégu very plain and unmannerly; but yet, as a husband,
he was just what she wanted. Jégu would wake for her, work for her,
save for her. Jégu would be the shaft-horse, forced to draw the whole
weight of the wagon; and she, the farmer's wife, seated on a heap of
clover, and driving him with the whip.

After having well considered all this, she answered the young man,
as a well-conducted damsel should, that she would refer the matter
to her father.

But she knew beforehand that Jalm Riou would consent; for he had
often said that only Jégu would be fit to manage the farm when he
should be no more.

So the marriage took place the very next month; and it seemed as if
the aged father had but waited until then to go and take his rest
in Paradise; for a very few days after the marriage he died, leaving
the house and land to the young folks.

It was a great responsibility for Jégu; but the Teuz came to his
assistance. He became the ploughboy at the farm, and did more work
alone than four hired labourers. He it was who kept the tools and
harness in good order, who repaired omissions, who pointed out the
proper time for sowing or for mowing. If by chance Jégu had occasion
to expedite some work, the Teuz would go and tell his friends, and
all the dwarfs would come with hoe, fork, or reaping-hook upon their
shoulders; if teams were wanted, he would send the farmer to a town
inhabited by some of his tribe, who would be out upon the common; and
Jégu had only to say, "Little men, my good friends, lend me a pair of
oxen, or a couple of horses, with all that is needed for their work,"
and the team would appear that very instant.

Now all the Teuz-à-pouliet asked in payment of these services was a
child's portion of broth, served up in a milk-measure, every day. So
Jégu loved him like his own son. Barbaik, on the contrary, hated
him, and not without reason; for the very next day after marriage
she saw with astonishment she was no longer assisted as before; and
as she was making her complaint to Jégu, who seemed as if he did not
understand her, the dwarf, bursting out in laughter, confessed that
he had been the author of all these good offices, in order that the
damsel might consent to marry Jégu; but that now he had other things
to do, and she must once more undertake the household management.

Deceived thus in her expectations, the daughter of Jalm Riou treasured
in her heart a furious rage against the dwarf. Every morning, when
she had to rise before the break of day and milk the cows or go to
market, and every evening, when she had to sit up till near midnight
churning cream, she cursed the Teuz who had encouraged her to look
forward to a life of ease and pleasure.

However, one day, being invited to a wedding at Plouezorc'h, and not
being able to take the farm-mare, as it was near foaling, she asked
the Teuz-à-pouliet for a steed; and he sent her to the dwarf village,
telling her to explain exactly what she wanted.

So Barbaik went; and thinking she was doing for the best, she said,

"Teuz, my friends, lend me a black horse, with eyes, mouth, ears,
saddle, and bridle."

The horse that she had asked for instantly appeared, and she set out
on him towards Plouezorc'h.

But soon she saw that every one was laughing as she went along.

"See, see!" they cried, "the farmer's wife has sold her horse's tail."

Barbaik turned quickly round, and saw indeed that her horse had no
tail. She had forgotten to ask for one; and the malicious dwarf had
served her to the letter.

Disconcerted, she would have hastened on, but the horse refused to mend
his pace; and so she was compelled to endure the jests of passers-by.

The young wife came home at night more furious than ever against the
Teuz-à-pouliet, accusing him of having played her this ill turn on
purpose, and fully resolved to be revenged upon him at the earliest
opportunity.

Well, spring drew near, and as this was the time the dwarfs held
festival, the Teuz asked leave of Jégu to extend an invitation to all
his friends to come and spend the night on the barn-floor, where he
might give them a supper and a dance. Jégu was far too much indebted
to the dwarf to think of saying no; and ordered Barbaik to spread over
the barn-floor her finest fringed table-cloths, and to serve up a batch
of little butter-cakes, all the morning and the evening milk, and as
many wheaten pancakes as could be turned out in a good day's work.

Barbaik made no reply, to her husband's great surprise.

She made the pancakes, prepared the milk, cooked the buttered cakes,
and at evening-tide she took them all out to the barn; but at the
same time she spread down, all round about the extended table-cloths,
just where the dwarfs were going to place themselves, the ashes she
had drawn smoking from the oven; so that when the Teuz-à-pouliet and
his guests came in to seat themselves, they were every one severely
burned, and fled away, uttering loud cries. They soon came back,
however, carrying jugs of water, and so put out the fire; and then
danced round the farm, all singing in an angry tone,


   "Barbe Riou, with dire deceit,
    Has roasted our poor little feet:
    Adieu! far hence away we go;
    On this house be grief and woe!"


And, in fact, they left the country that very morning. Jégu, having
lost their help, soon fell into distress and died; whilst the beautiful
Barbaik became a basket-woman at Morlaix market.

Since then the Teuz have never been seen in these parts. However,
there are some who say that all good work-people have to this very day
ten dwarfs who toil for them, and not invisibly; and these are--their
ten fingers.



THE SPECTRE LAUNDRESSES.


The Bretons are born in sin, even as other men, but never have they
been wanting in care for the souls of their faithful departed. They
take tender pity upon those who burn in purgatory, and earnestly
strive to redeem them from their fiery trial. Every Sunday, after
Mass, they kneel and plead for their suffering souls upon the very
earth in which their poor bodies are mouldering away.

It is in the Black Month, [27] as they call November, that they
especially attach themselves to this pious duty. When the Messenger of
Winter [28] arrives, each one bethinks himself of those who are gone to
the judgment-seat of God. Masses are said for them at the altar of the
Dead; in their behalf are tapers kindled, and vows made to saints in
highest veneration; little children are taken to offer their innocent
prayers upon the grave-stones; and after Vespers the priest comes out
of church to bless the earth to which their dust has been committed.

On this night also is it that our Lord vouchsafes some respite to their
sufferings, and permits them to return once more and pay a visit to the
hearth-stones of their former homes. Then are the dead as numerous in
the homesteads of the living as the yellow leaves that rustle in the
deep dry lanes; and therefore it is that all good Christians leave
the board spread and the fire blazing, that the unwonted guests may,
if they will, refresh themselves.

But if it is so with all who are truly devoted to the service of the
Blessed Mother and her divine Son, there are also children of the Black
Angel ("l'ange noir"), who forget those that were once nearest to their
hearts. Wilherm Postik was one of these. His father had died without
desiring to receive the last Sacraments; and, as the proverb has it,
Kadiou is his father's own son. Wilherm gave himself up, body and soul,
to forbidden pleasures, dancing during Mass-time, whenever he could
find an opportunity, and drinking with rascally horse-dealers when he
should have been in church. Nevertheless, God had not left him without
enough of warnings. Within the same year had his mother, his sisters,
and his wife been carried off by a contagious disease. Many a time,
too, had the good curé exposed to him his evil deeds, showing him that
he was a scandal to the whole parish, and urging him to repentance;
but all was in vain.

Meanwhile the fine weather went by. The feast of All Souls arrived,
and all good Christians, clad in decent mourning, repaired to church
to pray for the faithful departed. But for Wilherm, he dressed himself
out in his best, and set out for the neighbouring town, where he was
sure to find plenty of reprobate sailors and reckless women.

All the time devoted by others to the solace of the suffering souls
he spent there in drinking, gambling, and singing vile songs; nor
did he think of returning till close upon midnight, when every body
else had gone home wearied with iniquity. For him, he had a frame of
iron for sinful pleasures; and he quitted the drinking-house as well
disposed for a fresh bout as when he entered it.

Heated with drink, he went along, singing at the top of his voice,
though his songs were such as the boldest are apt to give out in
an undertone. He passed the wayside crosses without dropping his
voice or uncovering his head, and struck out right and left with his
walking-stick amongst the tufts of broom, regardless of the holy dead
who thronged every path.

At last the road divided, giving him his choice of two ways homeward;
the one longer about, but safer, under the blessing of God, the other
more direct, but haunted by spirits. Many a one in passing by that
way had heard noises and seen sights that could be only told of in a
cheerful assembly, and within arm's-length of the holy-water stoup. But
Wilherm feared nothing; so he struck at once into the shorter path,
at a pace that made his heavy shoes ring against the stones.

Neither moon nor stars cheered the night, the leaves trooped before
the driving wind, the brooks trickled dismally adown the hill-sides,
the bushes shivered like a man afraid, and through the midnight
stillness the steps of Wilherm echoed like a giant's tread. Yet
nothing daunted him, and on he went.

But as he passed the ruins of the old manor-house, he plainly heard
the weather-vane call to him as it creaked,

"Go back, go back, go back!"

Still Wilherm went on. He came up to the waterfall, and the water
murmured,

"Cross me not, cross me not, cross me not!"

Wilherm set his foot upon the well-worn stepping stones, and crossed
the stream. He came to an old hollow oak-tree, and the wind that
whistled in its branches cried,

"Stay here, stay here, stay here!"

But he struck his staff against the dead tree in passing, and hurried
onwards.

At last he came into the haunted vale, and midnight struck from the
three parish-church towers. Wilherm began to whistle a jovial air;
but just as he came to the fourth verse, he heard the sound of tireless
wheels, and saw a cart approaching covered with a funeral pall.

Wilherm knew it for a hearse. It was drawn by six black horses,
and driven by Ankou [29] himself, with an iron whip in his hand,
and ever crying as he went,

"Turn aside, or I turn thee back!"

Wilherm gave him way without being disconcerted.

"What are you doing here, Squire White?" [30] he questioned boldly.

"I make prize, and by surprise," replied Ankou.

"That is to say, you're thievish and treacherous," continued Wilherm.

"I am he that strikes without distinction and without regret."

"That is to say, a fool and a brute. Then I wonder no more, my fine
fellow, that you're a regular inhabitant of the four bishoprics,
for to you the whole proverb belongs. [31] But what are you in such
haste about to-day?"

"I am going to fetch Wilherm Postik," replied the phantom as he
passed on.

The profligate laughed aloud, and went on his way. As he came up to
the little sloe-hedge leading to the washing-ground, he saw two white
females hanging linen on the bushes.

"On my life," said he, "here are some damsels not much afraid of the
night-dews! What are you about here at this time, my little doves?"

"We wash, we dry, we sew!" replied the two women both at once.

"But what?" asked the young man.

"The winding-sheet of one that yet walks and speaks."

"A corpse! Pardieu! Tell me his name."

"Wilherm Postik."

Louder than before laughed Wilherm, and went down the little rugged
path.

But as he went on he heard more and more distinctly the beetle of
the spectre laundresses striking on the douez [32] stones, and ere
long they themselves were to be seen, beating at their death-shrouds,
and chanting the sorrowful refrain:


   "If no good soul our hands will stay,
    We must toil till judgment-day;
    In stormy wind, or clear moonlight,
    We must wash the death-shroud white."


As soon as they perceived this boon companion, they all rushed forward
with loud cries, offering each her winding-sheet, that he might help
them to wring out the water.

"Amongst friends we must not scruple to do a good turn," replied
Wilherm gaily; "but one at a time, my pretty laundresses, a man has
but two hands."

So laying down his walking-stick, he took the end of the shroud offered
by one of the ghosts, taking care to wring the same way that she did;
for he had heard of old that this was the only way to escape being
shivered to atoms.

But whilst they thus wrung the winding-sheet, behold, the other
spectres surrounded Wilherm, who recognised amongst them his aunt,
his wife, his mother, and his sisters, who cried aloud,

"A thousand curses upon him who leaves his own flesh and blood to
suffer torments! A thousand curses!"

And they shook their streaming locks, and whirled aloft their
snow-white beetles; while from all the douez of the valley, along
the hedgerows, and floating over the commons far and wide, there came
the sound of ghostly voices echoing the same cry,

"A thousand curses! a thousand curses!"

Wilherm, beside himself with terror, felt his hair stand up on end,
and, forgetting in his confusion the precaution hitherto observed, he
began to wring the contrary way. In the same instant the winding-sheet
grasped his hands as in a vice, and he fell, brayed by the iron arms
of the spectre laundress.

A young girl of Henvik, named Fantik-ar-Fur, passing at daybreak near
the douez, saw Wilherm stretched upon the blue stones. Thinking that
he had lain down there to sleep whilst tipsy, the child drew near to
wake him with a sprig of broom; but finding he remained motionless,
she took fright and ran to the village to tell the news.

A number of the inhabitants came with the curé, the sexton, and the
notary, who was mayor of the place. The body was taken up, placed on
a wagon, and drawn home by oxen; but the blessed candles that were
lighted continually went out, a token of the fearful fate that had
overtaken Wilherm Postik.

So his body was deposited outside the church-yard walls, in the
resting-place of dogs and reprobates.



The belief in spectre laundresses is universal in Brittany.



ROBIN REDBREAST.


Long, long ago, ere the acorns were sown which have since furnished
timber for the oldest vessels of the port of Brest, there lived in
the parish of Guirek a poor widow called Ninorc'h Madek. Her father,
who was very wealthy and of noble race, had left at his death a
manor-house, with a farm, a mill, and a forge, twelve horses and
twice as many oxen, twelve cows and ten times as many sheep, to say
nothing of corn and flax.

But Ninorc'h was a helpless widow, and her brothers took the whole
for themselves. Perrik, the eldest, kept the house, the farm, and
the horses; Fanche, the second, took the mill and the cows; whilst
the third, whose name was Riwal, had the oxen, the forge, and the
sheep. Nothing was left for Ninorc'h but a doorless shed on the open
heath, which had served to shelter the sick cattle.

However, as she was getting together her little matter of furniture,
in order to take possession of her new abode, Fanche pretended to
take pity upon her, and said,

"Come, I will deal with you like a brother and a Christian. Here is a
black cow; she has never come to much good, and, indeed, gives scarce
milk enough to feed a new-born babe; but you may take her with you,
if you will, and May-flower can look after her upon the common."

May-flower [33] was the widow's daughter, now in her eleventh year,
and had been called after the colourless blossom of the thickets from
her unusually pale complexion.

So Ninorc'h went away with her pallid little girl, who led the
poor lean cow by an old cord, and she sent them out upon the common
together.

There May-flower stayed all day, watching her black cow, which with
much ado contrived to pick a little grass between the stones. She
spent her time in making little crosses with blossoms of the broom,
[34] or in repeating aloud her Rosary and her favourite hymns.

One day, as she was singing the "Ave Maris Stella," as she had heard
it at Vespers in the church of Guirek, all at once she noticed a
little bird perched upon one of the flower-crosses she had set in the
earth. He was warbling sweetly, and turned his head from side to side,
looking at her as if he longed to speak. Not a little surprised, she
gently drew near and listened, but without being able to distinguish
any meaning in his song. In vain he sang louder, flapped his wings,
and fluttered about before May-flower. Not a whit the wiser was she
for all this; and yet such pleasure did she take in watching and
listening to him, that night came on without her being able to think
of any thing else. At last the bird flew away; and when she looked up
to see what had become of him, she saw the stars twinkling in the sky.

With all speed she started off to look for her cow, but to her dismay
it was nowhere to be found upon the common. In vain she called aloud,
in vain she beat the bushes, in vain she went down into each hollow
where the rainwater had formed a pool. At last she heard her mother's
voice, calling her, as if some great misfortune had happened. All in
a fright, she ran up to her, and there, at the edge of the heath,
on the way homeward, she found the widow beside all that remained
of the poor cow,--her horns, that is, and her bones, the latter well
picked by the wolves, which had sallied forth from the neighbouring
woods and made a meal of her.

At this sight May-flower felt her blood run cold. She burst into tears,
for she loved the black cow she had tended so long, and falling on
her knees exclaimed,

"Blessed Virgin, why did you not let me see the wolf? I would have
scared him away with the sign of the cross; I would have repeated
the charm that is taught to shepherd-boys who keep their flocks upon
the mountains,--


   'Art thou wolf, St. Hervé shend [35] thee!
    Art thou Satan, God defend me!'" [36]


The widow, who was a very saint for piety and resignation, seeing
the sorrow of the little girl, sought to comfort her, saying,

"It is not well to weep for the cow as for a fellow-creature, my poor
child; if the wolves and wicked men conspire against us, the Lord God
will be on our side. Come, then, help me up with my bundle of heath,
and let us go home."

May-flower did as she said, but sighed at every step, and the big
tears trickled down her cheeks.

"My poor cow!" said she to herself, "my poor, good, gentle cow! and
just, too, as she was beginning to fatten a little."

The little girl had no heart for supper, and many times awakened in the
night, fancying that she heard the black cow lowing at the door. With
very restlessness she rose before the dawn, and ran out upon the
common, barefooted and but half-dressed. There, at the selfsame spot,
appeared the little bird again, perched as before on her broom-flower
cross. Again he sang, and seemed to call her. But, alas, she was as
little able as on the preceding evening to understand him, and was
turning away in vexation, when she thought she saw a piece of gold
glittering on the ground. To try what it really was, she moved it with
her foot; but, lo, it was the gold-herb; and no sooner had she touched
it than she distinctly understood the language of the little bird,
[37] saying in his warbling,

"May-flower, I wish thee well. May-flower, listen to me."

"Who are you?" said May-flower, wondering within herself that she
could understand the language of an unbaptised creature.

"I am Robin Redbreast," returned the bird. "It was I that followed
the Saviour on His way to Calvary, and broke a thorn from the crown
that was tearing His brow. [38] To recompense this act, it was granted
to me by God the Father that I should live until the day of judgment,
and that every year I might bestow a fortune upon one poor girl. This
year I have chosen you."

"Can this be true, Robin Redbreast?" cried May-flower, in a transport
of delight. "And shall I have a silver cross for my neck, and be able
to wear wooden shoes?"

"A cross of gold shall you have, and silken slippers shall you wear,
like a noble damsel," replied Robin Redbreast.

"But what must I do, dear kind Robin?" said the little maid.

"Only follow me."

It may well be supposed that May-flower had no objection to make;
so Robin Redbreast flew before, and she ran after him.

On they went; across the heath, through the copses, and over the
fields of rye, till at last they came to the open downs over against
the Seven Isles. There Robin stopped, and said to the little girl,

"Seest thou aught on the sands down there?"

"I see," replied May-flower, "a great pair of beechen shoes that the
fire has never scorched, and a holly-staff that has not been hacked
by the sickle."

"Put on the shoes, and take up the staff."

It was done.

"Now walk upon the sea to the first island, and go round it till thou
shalt come to a rock on which grow sea-green rushes."

"What then?"

"Gather some of the rushes, and twist them into a cord."

"Well, and then?"

"Then strike the rock with the holly-staff, and there will come forth
from it a cow. Make a halter of the rushen cord, and lead her home
to console thy mother for the one just lost."

All that Robin Redbreast had told her, May-flower did. She walked upon
the sea; she made the cord of rushes; she struck the rock, and there
came out from it a cow, with eyes as soft as a stag-hound's, and a
skin sleek as that of the mole that burrows in the meadows. May-flower
led her home to her poor mother, whose joy now was almost greater
than her former sorrow.

But what were her sensations when she began to milk Mor Vyoc'h! [39]
(for so had Robin Redbreast named the creature). Behold, the milk
flowed on and on beneath her fingers like water from a spring!

Ninorc'h had soon filled all the earthen vessels in the house, and
then all those of wood, but still the milk flowed on.

"Now, holy Mother save us!" cried the widow, "certainly this beast
has drunk of the waters of Languengar." [40]

In fact, the milk of Mor Vyoc'h was inexhaustible; she had already
yielded enough to satisfy every babe in Cornouaille.

In a little time nothing was talked of throughout the country but
the widow's cow, and people crowded from all parts to see it. The
rector of Peros-Guirek came among the rest, to see whether it were
not a snare of the evil one; but after he had laid his stole upon
Mor Vyoc'h's head, he pronounced her clear of all suspicion.

Before long all the richest farmers were persuading Ninorc'h to sell
her cow, each one bidding against the other for so invaluable a beast;
her brother Perrik among the rest.

"Come," said he, "I am your brother; as a good Christian you must
give me the preference. Let me have Mor Vyoc'h, and I will give you
in exchange as many cows as it takes tailors to make a man." [41]

"Is that your Christian dealing?" answered the widow. "Nine cows
for Mor Vyoc'h! She is worth all the cows in the country, far and
near. With her milk I could supply all the markets in the bishoprics
of Tréguier and Cornouaille, from Dinan to Carhaix."

"Well, sister, only let me have her," replied Perrik, "and I will
give up to you our father's farm, on which you were born, with all
the fields, ploughs, and horses."

This proposal Ninorc'h accepted, and was forthwith put in possession,
turning up a sod in the meadows, taking a draught of water from the
well, and kindling a fire on the hearth; besides cutting a tuft of
hair from the horses' tails in token of ownership. [42] She then
delivered Mor Vyoc'h to Perrik, who led her away to a house which he
had at some distance, towards Menez-Brée.

A day of tears and sadness was that for May-flower; and as at night
she went the round of the stalls to see that all was right, she could
not help again and again murmuring, as she filled the mangers,

"Alas, Mor Vyoc'h is gone! I shall never see Mor Vyoc'h again."

With this lament still on her lips, she suddenly heard a lowing behind
her, in which, as by virtue of the gold-herb her ears were now open
to the language of all animals, she distinctly made out these words,

"Here I am again, my little mistress,"

May-flower turned round in astonishment, and there indeed was Mor
Vyoc'h.

"Oh, can this indeed be you?" cried the little girl. "And what, then,
has brought you back?"

"I cannot belong to your uncle Perrik," said Mor Vyoc'h, "for my
nature forbids me to remain with such as are not in a state of grace;
so I am come back to be with you again as before."

"But then my mother must give back the farm, the fields, and all that
she has received for you."

"Not so; for it was already hers by right, and had been unjustly
taken from her by your uncle."

"But he will come to see if you are here, and will know you again."

"Go and gather three leaves of the cross-wort, [43] and I will tell
you what to do."

May-flower went, and soon returned with the three leaves.

"Now," said Mor Vyoc'h, "pass those leaves over me, from my horns to
my tail, and say 'St. Ronan of Ireland!' three times."

May-flower did so; and as she called on the saint for the third
time, lo, the cow became a beautiful horse. The little girl was lost
in wonder.

"Now," said the creature to her, "your uncle Perrik cannot possibly
know me again; for I am no longer Mor Vyoc'h, but Marc'h-Mor." [44]

On hearing what had come to pass, the widow was greatly rejoiced; and
early on the morrow proceeded to make trial of her horse with a load of
corn for Tréguier. But guess her astonishment when she found that the
more sacks were laid on Marc'h-Mor's back the longer it grew; so that
he alone could carry as much wheat as all the horses in the parish.

The tale of the widow's wonderful horse was soon noised about the
neighbourhood, and among the rest her brother Fanche heard of it. He
therefore lost no time in proceeding to the farm; and when he had seen
Marc'h-Mor, begged his sister to part with him, which, however, she
would by no means consent to do till Fanche had offered her in exchange
his cows and his mill, with all the pigs that he was fattening there.

The bargain concluded, Ninorc'h took possession of her new property,
as she had done at the farm; and Fanche led away Marc'h-Mor.

But in the evening there he was again; and again May-flower gathered
three leaves of cross-wort, stroked him over with them three times from
his ears to his tail, repeating each time St. Ronan of Ireland! as she
had done before to Mor Vyoc'h. And, lo, in a moment the horse changed
into a sheep covered with wool as long as hemp, as red as scarlet,
and as fine as dressed flax.

Full of admiration at this new miracle, the widow came to behold it;
and no sooner was she within sight than she called to May-flower,

"Run and fetch a pair of shears; for the poor creature cannot bear
this weight of wool."

But when she began to shear Mor-Vawd, she found the wool grow as fast
as she cut it off; so that he alone far out-valued all the flocks
of Arhèz.

Riwal, who chanced to come by at that moment, was witness of the
wonder; and then and there parted with his forge, his sheep-walks,
and all his sheep, to obtain possession of the wonderful sheep.

But see! As he was leading his new purchase home along the sea-shore,
the sheep suddenly plunged in the water, swam to the smallest of the
seven isles, and passed into a chasm of the rocks, which opened to
receive it, and straight-way closed again.

This time May-flower expected him back at the usual hour in
vain. Neither that night nor on the morrow did he revisit the farm.

The little girl ran to the common. There she found Robin Redbreast,
who thus spoke, before he flew away for ever:

"I have been waiting for you, my little lady. The sheep is gone,
and will return no more. Your uncles have been punished after their
deserts. For you, you are now a rich heiress, and may wear a cross of
gold and silken slippers, as I promised you. My work here is done,
and I am about to fly away far hence. Only, do you remember always,
that you have been poor, and that it was one of God's little birds
that made you rich."

To prove her gratitude, May-flower built a chapel on the heath, on
that very spot where Robin Redbreast first addressed her. And the old
men, from whom our fathers heard this tale, could remember lighting
the altar-candles there when they were little boys.



COMORRE.


In the old times, it is said that the city of Vannes was far larger
and finer than it is in our days, and that instead of a prefect,
it was ruled by a king, whose will was law. I do not know what his
name was; but from all I have heard, it seems that he was a man who
lived in the fear of God, and of whom no one had ever found occasion
to speak an evil word.

He had been early left a widower; and he lived happily with his
only daughter, said to be the most beautiful creature in the whole
world. She was called Tryphyna, and those who knew her have asserted
that she came of age unsullied by a single mortal sin. So that the
king her father would have willingly sacrificed his horses, castles,
and farms, rather than see Tryphyna made unhappy.

However, it came to pass, that one day ambassadors from Cornouaille
were announced. They came on the part of Comorre, a powerful prince
of those times, who ruled over the land of Black-Wheat as Tryphyna's
father ruled that of the White. [45]

After offering presents of honey, flax, and a dozen of little pigs,
to the king, they informed him that their master had visited the last
fair at Vannes disguised as a soldier, and there beholding the beauty
and modesty of the young princess, he had determined at all hazards
to have her in marriage.

This proposal filled both the king and Tryphyna with great grief;
for the Count Comorre was a giant, and said to be the wickedest man
that had ever been on the earth since the days of Cain.

From his earliest youth he had been used to find his only pleasure in
working mischief; and so malicious was he, that his mother herself had
been accustomed to run and ring the alarm-bell whenever he left the
castle, to warn the country people to take care of themselves. When
older, and his own master, his cruelty was greater still. It was
said that one morning, on his way out, he tried his gun upon a lad
tending a colt at pasture, and killed him. And at other times, when
returning unsuccessful from the chase, he would let loose his dogs
upon the poor peasants in the fields, and suffer them to be pulled
down like beasts of prey. But, most horrible of all, he had married
four wives in succession, each of whom had died off suddenly without
receiving the last Sacraments; and it was even said that he had made
away with them by the knife, fire, water, or poison.

So the King of Vannes replied to the ambassadors that his daughter was
too young and too weak in health to think of marrying. But Comorre's
people answered roughly, after their manner, that the Count Comorre
would listen to no such excuses, and that they had received orders,
if the young princess was not sent back with them, to declare war
against the King of Vannes. The king replied, that they must do as
they liked about that. Then the most aged among the envoys lighted a
handful of straw, which he flung to the winds, declaring that thus
should the anger of Comorre pass over the country of White-Wheat;
and so they departed. [46]

Tryphyna's father, being a courageous man, did not allow himself to
be disheartened by this threat, and called together all the soldiers
he could muster to defend his territories.

But in a few days he heard that the Count of Cornouaille was advancing
upon Vannes with a powerful army; and it was not long before he came
in sight with trumpets and cannons. Then the king put himself at the
head of his people, and the battle was on the point of beginning; when
St. Veltas [47] came to find Tryphyna, who was praying in her oratory.

The saint wore the cloak which had served him as a vessel for crossing
the sea, and carried the walking-staff which he had fastened to
it as a mast to catch the wind. A halo of glory hovered round his
brow. He announced to the young princess that the men of Vannes and
Cornouaille were on the point of shedding each other's blood, and
asked her whether she would not stay the death of so many Christians
by consenting to become the wife of Count Comorre.

"Alas, then, God demands from me the death of all my peace and
happiness," cried the young girl, weeping. "Why am I not a beggar? I
could then at least be wedded to the beggar of my choice. Ah, if it
is indeed the will of God that I espouse this giant, whom I dread so
much, say for me, holy man, the Office for the Dead; for the count
will kill me, as he has his other wives."

But St. Veltas replied,

"Fear nothing, Tryphyna. See here this ring of silver, white as milk;
it shall serve you as a warning; for so surely as Comorre is plotting
any thing against you, it will become as black as the crow's wing. Take
courage, then, and save the Bretons from death."

The young princess, reassured by this present of the ring, consented
to St. Veltas's request.

Then the saint hurried without loss of time towards the opposed armies,
that he might announce the good tidings to their chiefs. The King of
Vannes, notwithstanding his daughter's resolution, was very unwilling
to consent to the marriage; but Comorre promised so fairly, that at
last he accepted him as son-in-law.

The nuptials were celebrated with such festivities as have never
been seen since within the two dioceses. The first day six thousand
noble guests sat down to table; and on the second they received as
many poor, whom the bride and bridegroom, forgetful of their rank,
waited on at table, with napkins on their arms. [48] Then there was
dancing, at which all the musicians of Lower Brittany were engaged;
and wrestling-matches, in which the men of Brévelay contended with
those of Cornouaille.

At last, when all was over, every one went home to his own country;
and Comorre carried off with him his young bride, as a sparrow-hawk
that has pounced upon a poor little yellow-hammer.

However, during the first few months his affection for Tryphyna
softened him more than might have been expected. The castle-dungeons
remained empty, and the gibbets held no pasture for foul birds of
prey. The count's people whispered low,

"What ails our lord, then, that he thirsts no more for tears and
blood?" But those who knew him better waited and said nothing. Tryphyna
herself, notwithstanding the count's kindness towards her, could
never feel easy or happy in her mind. Every day she went down to the
castle-chapel, and there, praying on the tombs of Comorre's four dead
wives, she besought God to preserve her from a violent death.

About this time a grand assembly of Breton princes took place at
Rennes, and Comorre was obliged to join it. He gave into Tryphyna's
keeping all the castle keys, even those of the cellars; told her to
amuse herself as she liked best, and set out with a great retinue.

It was five months before he returned, full of anxiety to see Tryphyna,
of whom he had thought often during his absence. And in his haste,
unwilling to lose time by announcing his arrival, he rushed up into
her room, where she was at that moment engaged in making an infant's
cap, trimmed with silver-lace.

On seeing the cap, Comorre turned pale, and asked for what it was
designed. The countess, thinking to rejoice his heart, assured him
that they would shortly have a child; but at this news the Prince of
Cornouaille drew back in horror, and after looking at Tryphyna with
a dreadful countenance, went suddenly out, not speaking a word.

The princess might have taken this for one of the count's frequent
caprices, had she not perceived, on casting down her eyes, that the
silver ring had turned black. She uttered a cry of terror; for she
remembered the words of St. Veltas, and knew that she must be in
imminent peril. But she knew not wherefore, neither could she tell
how to escape it. Poor woman! all day long, and during part of the
night, she employed herself in pondering what could be the reason
of the count's displeasure; and at last, her heart growing heavier,
she went down into the chapel to pray.

But scarcely had she finished her rosary, and risen to depart,
when the hour of midnight struck. At that instant she beheld the
four grave-stones of Comorre's four wives rise slowly up, and they
themselves come out swathed in their funeral shrouds.

Tryphyna, more dead than alive, would have escaped; but the phantoms
called to her:

"Take care, poor lost one; Comorre waits to kill thee."

"Me!" cried the countess; "and how have I offended, that he seeks
my death?"

"You have told him you will shortly be a mother; and he knows, thanks
to the evil one, that his first child will be his destroyer. Therefore
it was that he took our lives also."

"My God! and have I fallen into hands so cruel?" cried Tryphyna,
weeping. "If it is so, what hope remains for me? what can I do?"

"Go back to your father in the land of White-Wheat," said the phantoms.

"How can I fly?" returned the countess; "the giant dog of Comorre
guards the gate."

"Give to him this poison, which killed me," said the first.

"How can I get down the high wall?" asked the young wife.

"Let yourself down by this cord, which strangled me," replied the
second.

"But who will direct me through the darkness?" asked the princess.

"This fire, which consumed me," replied the third.

"How can I take so long a journey?" once more asked Tryphyna.

"Make use of this staff, which crushed my temples," said the last.

Comorre's wife took the staff, the torch, the cord, and the poison. She
silenced the dog, she scaled the lofty wall, she penetrated the
darkness, and took the road to Vannes, where her father dwelt.

Comorre, not being able to find her the next morning when he rose,
sent his page to search for her in every chamber; but the page returned
with the tidings that Tryphyna was no longer in the castle.

Then the count went up the donjon-tower, and looked out to the
four winds.

To the north he saw a raven that croaked; to the sunrise a swallow on
the wing; to the south a wailing sea-mew; and to the west a turtle-dove
that sped away.

He instantly exclaimed that Tryphyna was in that direction; and having
his horse saddled, set out in pursuit.

His unfortunate wife was still upon the border of the wood which
surrounded the count's castle; but she was warned of his approach by
seeing the ring grow black. Then she turned aside over the common,
and came to the cabin of a poor shepherd, whose sole possession was
an old magpie hanging in a cage.

The poor lady lay concealed there the whole day, bemoaning herself
and praying; and when night came on, she once more set forth along
the paths which skirt the fields of flax and corn.

Comorre, who had kept to the high road, could not find her; and after
travelling two days, he returned the same way as far as the common. But
there, as ill-luck would have it, he entered the shepherd's hut,
and heard the magpie trying to recall the melancholy wailings it had
listened to, and murmuring, "Poor Tryphyna! poor Tryphyna!" Then
Comorre knew the countess had passed by that way, and calling his
hunting-dog, set him on the track, and began to pursue her.

Meanwhile Tryphyna, pressed by terror, had walked on unresting,
and was already drawing near to Vannes. But at last she felt herself
unable to proceed; and turning into a wood, lay down upon the grass,
where she gave birth to a son miraculously lovely, who was afterwards
called St. Trever.

As she held him in her arms, and wept over him, half sorrowfully
and half in joy, she perceived a falcon ornamented with a collar of
gold. He was perched upon a neighbouring tree; and she knew him for
her father's bird, the king of the land of White-Wheat. Calling him
quickly by his name, the bird came down upon her knees; and giving him
the warning-ring she had received from St. Veltas, she said, "Fly,
falcon, hasten to my father's court, and carry him this ring. When
he sees it, he will know I am in urgent danger, and will order his
soldiers to horse. It is for you to lead them hither to save me."

The bird understood, and taking the ring, flew like a flash of
lightning in the direction of Vannes.

But almost at the same instant Comorre came in sight with his
stag-hound, who had incessantly tracked Tryphyna; and as she had no
longer the ring to forewarn her of approaching danger, she remained
unconscious of it till she heard the tyrant's voice cheering on
his dog.

Terror froze the marrow in her bones, and she had only just time to
wrap the infant in her mantle and hide it in the hollow of a tree,
when Comorre appeared upon his horse at the entrance of the pathway.

Seeing Tryphyna, he uttered a cry like that of a wild-beast, and
throwing himself upon the unhappy victim, who had sunk upon her
knees, he severed her head from her shoulders by one stroke of his
hunting-knife.

Believing himself now at once rid of mother and child, he whistled
back his dog, and set off on his return to Cornouaille.

Now the falcon arrived at the court of the King of Vannes, who was
then dining; and hovering over the table, let fall the silver ring into
his master's cup. He had no sooner recognised it, than he exclaimed:

"Woe is me, some misfortune must have befallen my daughter, since
the falcon brings me back her ring. Let the horses be made ready,
and let St. Veltas be our companion; for I fear we shall but too soon
stand in need of his assistance."

The servants obeyed promptly; and the king set forth with the saint,
who had come at his prayer, and a numerous retinue. They put their
horses to their full speed, and followed the course of the flying
falcon, who led them to the glade where lay the dead Tryphyna and
her living child.

The king then threw himself from his horse, and uttered cries that
might have made the very oaks to weep; but St. Veltas silenced him.

"Hush!" said he, "and join with me in prayer to God; He can even yet
repair all."

With these words, he knelt down with all those who were present, and
after addressing a fervent prayer to Heaven, he said to the dead body,
"Arise!"

Tryphyna obeyed.

"Take thine head and thy child," added the saint, "and follow us to
the castle of Comorre."

It was done as he commanded.

Then the terrified escort took horse once more, and spurred onwards
towards Cornouaille. But however rapidly they rode, Tryphyna was
ever in advance; holding her son upon her left arm, and her head on
her right.

And thus they came before the castle of the murderer. Comorre, who
saw them coming, caused the drawbridge to be raised. St. Veltas drew
near the moat, and exclaimed, with a loud voice,

"Count of Cornouaille, I bring thee back thy wife, such as thy
wickedness has made her; and thy son, as God has bestowed him on
thee. Wilt thou receive them beneath thy roof?"

Comorre was silent. St. Veltas repeated the same words a second,
then a third time; but still no voice replied. Taking, therefore,
the infant from his mother's arms, he placed him on the ground.

Then was beheld a miracle which proved the Omnipotence of God; for
the child walked alone, and boldly, to the edge of the moat, whence
gathering a handful of the sand, he flung it towards the castle,
crying out,

"God is just!"

At that instant the towers shook with a great tumult, the walls gaped
open, and the whole castle sank down in ruins, burying the Count of
Cornouaille, and all those who had abetted him in sin.

St. Veltas then replaced the head of Tryphyna on her shoulders, and
laying his hands upon her, the holy woman came back to life; to the
great content of the King of Vannes, and of all who were there present.



NOTE.

According to the legend of Albert de Morlaix, Comorre was not buried
in the castle ruins, but succeeded in making his escape; but, at the
instance of Guerok, the Breton Bishops met in council "to cut off
this rotten branch from the body of the Church. They assembled at
the mountain called Menez-Brée, near Louargat, between Belle Isle
and Guingamp, not daring to meet in any town, through the terror
inspired by this tyrant; who, having killed King Johava, and his son
Jugduval, did what he pleased throughout the whole of the Low Country"
(Basse Bretagne).

The Bishops thundered from their place of meeting a deadly
excommunication against Comorre; who shortly after, according to the
historian Le Bault, suffered the punishment of Arius; or, as others
say, "vomited forth at the same instant his blood and his soul."



THE GROAC'H OF THE ISLE OF LOK. [49]


Every one who knows the land of the Church (Lanillis), knows also that
it is one of the loveliest parishes in the diocese of Léon. To say
nothing of green crops and corn, its orchards are famed from all time
for apples sweeter than the honey of Sizun, and plum-trees of which
every blossom ripens into fruit. As for the marriageable maidens,
they are all models of discretion and housewifery; at least so say
their nearest relations, who of course know them best.

In olden times, when miracles were as common in these parts as
christenings and burials now, there dwelt in Lanillis a young man
called Houarn Pogamm, and a damsel whose name was Bellah Postik.

They grew up together in love, as in age and stature; but every one
that they had to care for them being dead, one after the other, and
they left portionless, the two poor orphans were at last obliged to
go into service. They ought, indeed, to have been happy, for they
served the same master; but lovers are like the sea, that murmurs ever.

"If we had only enough to buy a little cow and a lean pig," said
Houarn, "I would take a bit of land of our master; and then the good
father should marry us, and we would go and live together."

"Yes," replied Bellah, with a deep sigh; "but the times are so
hard. The cows and pigs were dearer than ever at Ploudalmazeau the
last fair. Providence must surely have given up caring for the world."

"I am afraid we shall have to wait a long time," said the young man;
"for I never get the last glass of the bottle when I drink with the
rest of them."

"Very long," replied the maiden; "for I never can hear the cuckoo."

Day after day it was the same story; till at last Houarn was quite out
of patience. So one morning he came to Bellah, as she was winnowing
some corn in the threshing-floor, and told her how he had made up
his mind that he would set out on his travels to seek his fortune.

Sadly troubled was the poor girl at this resolve, and she said all
she could to dissuade him from it; but Houarn, who was a determined
young fellow, would not be withheld.

"The birds," said he, "fly hither and thither till they have found
a field of corn, and the bees till they meet with flowers that
may yield them honey; is it for man to be less reasonable than the
winged creatures? I also will go forth on my quest; what I want is
but the price of a little cow and a lean pig. If you love me, Bellah,
you will no longer oppose a project which is to hasten our marriage."

Bellah could not but acknowledge that there was reason in his words;
so with a sigh and a yearning heart she said,

"Go then, Houarn, with God's blessing, if it must be so; but first
let me share with you my family relics."

She led him to her cupboard, and took out a little bell, a knife,
and a staff.

"There," said she, "these are immemorial heirlooms of our family. This
is the bell of St. Kolédok. Its sound can be heard at any distance,
however great, and will give immediate notice to the possessor's
friends should he be in any danger. The knife once belonged to
St. Corentin, and its touch dissolves all spells, were they of the
arch-fiend himself. Lastly, here is the staff of St. Vouga, which
will lead its possessor whithersoever he may desire to go. I will
give you the knife to defend you from enchantments, and the little
bell to let me know if you are in peril; the staff I will keep,
that I may be able to join you, should you need my presence."

Houarn accepted with thanks his Bellah's gifts, wept awhile with her,
as belongs to a parting, and set out towards the mountains.

But it was then just as it is now, and in all the villages through
which he passed, the traveller was beset by beggars, to whom any one
with whole garments was a man of rank and fortune.

"By my faith," thought he, "this part of the country seems fitter
for spending a fortune than for making one: I must go farther."

He went onwards therefore towards the west, till at last he arrived
at Pontaven, a pretty town, built upon a river bordered with poplars.

There, as he sat at the inn-door, he overheard two carriers, who,
as they loaded their mules, were talking together of the Groac'h of
the Isle of Lok.

Houarn inquired who or what that might be; and was told that it was the
name of a fairy who inhabited the lake in the largest of the Glénans,
[50] and who was said to be as rich as all the kings of the earth
together. Many had been the treasure-seekers that had visited her
island, but not one of them had ever returned.

The thought came suddenly into Houarn's mind that he too would try
the adventure. The muleteers did all they could to dissuade him. They
were so loud in their remonstrances, that they collected quite a
crowd about him, crying out that it was downright unchristian to
let him run into destruction in that way; and the people would even
have kept him back by force. Houarn thanked them for the interest
they manifested in his welfare, and declared himself ready to give
up his design, if only they would make a collection amongst them
which would enable him to buy a little cow and a lean pig; but at
this proposition the muleteers and all the others drew back, simply
repeating that he was an obstinate fellow, and that it was of no use
talking to him. So Houarn repaired to the sea-shore, where he took
a boat, and was carried to the Isle of Lok.

He had no difficulty in finding the pond, which was in the centre
of the island, its banks fringed by sea-plants with rose-coloured
flowers. As he walked round, he saw lying at one end of it, shaded by
a tuft of broom, a sea-green canoe, which floated on the unruffled
waters. It was fashioned like a swan asleep, with its head under
its wing.

Houarn, who had never seen any thing like it before, drew nearer with
curiosity, and stepped into the boat that he might examine it the
better; but scarcely had he set foot within it when the swan seemed
to awake, its head started from amongst the feathers, its wide feet
spread themselves to the waters, and it swam rapidly from the bank.

The young man gave a cry of alarm, but the swan only made the more
swiftly for the middle of the lake; and just as Houarn had decided on
throwing himself from his strange bark, and swimming for the shore,
the bird plunged downward head foremost, drawing him under the water
along with it.

The unfortunate Léonard, who could not cry out without gulping down
the unsavoury water of the pool, was silent by necessity, and soon
arrived at the Groac'h's dwelling.

It was a palace of shells, far surpassing in beauty all that can be
imagined. It was entered by a flight of crystal steps, each stair of
which, as the foot pressed it, gave forth a concert of sweet sounds,
like the song of many birds. All around stretched gardens of immense
extent, with forests of marine plants, and plots of green seaweed,
spangled with diamonds in the place of flowers.

The Groac'h was reclining in the entrance-hall upon a couch of
gold. Her dress was of sea-green silk, exquisitely fine, and floating
round her like the waves that wrapped her grotto. Her black locks,
intertwined with coral, descended to her feet; and the white and red
of her brilliant complexion blended as in the polished lining of some
Indian shell.

Dazzled with a sight at once so fair and unexpected, Houarn stood
still; but with a winning smile the Groac'h rose, and came forward
to meet him. So easy and flowing were her movements, that she seemed
like a snowy billow heaving along the sea, as she advanced to greet
the young Léonard.

"You are welcome," said she, beckoning him with her hand to enter;
"there is always room here for all comers, especially for handsome
young men."

At this gracious reception Houarn somewhat recovered himself, and
entered the hall.

"Who are you? Whence come you? What seek you?" continued the Groac'h.

"My name is Houarn," replied the Léonard; "I come from Lanillis; and
I am in quest of the wherewithal to buy a little cow and a lean pig."

"Well, come in, Houarn," said the fairy; "and dismiss all anxiety
from your mind; you shall have every thing to make you happy."

While this was passing she had led him into a second hall, the walls
of which were covered with pearls; where she set before him eight
different kinds of wine, in eight goblets of chased silver. Houarn made
trial of each, and found all so much to his taste, that he repeated
his draught of each eight times; while ever as the cup left his lips,
the Groac'h seemed still fairer than before.

She meanwhile encouraged him to drink, telling him he need be in no
fear of robbing her, for that the lake in the Isle of Lok communicated
with the sea, and that all the treasures swallowed up by shipwrecks
were conveyed thither by a magic current.

"I do not wonder," cried Houarn, emboldened at once by the wine and
the manner of his hostess, "that the people on shore speak so badly
of you; in fact, it just comes to this, that you are rich, and they
are envious. For my part, I should be very well content with the half
of your fortune."

"It shall be yours if you will, Houarn," said the fairy.

"How can that be?" he asked.

"My husband, the Korandon, is dead," she answered, "so that I am now
a widow; if you like me well enough, I will become your wife."

Houarn quite lost his breath for very wonderment. For him to marry
that beautiful creature! to dwell in that splendid palace! and to
drink to his heart's content of the eight sorts of wine! True, he
was engaged to Bellah; but men easily forget such promises,--indeed,
for that they are just like women. So he gallantly assured the fairy
that one so lovely must be irresistible, and that it would be his
pride and joy to become her husband.

Thereupon the Groac'h exclaimed that she would forthwith make ready
the wedding-feast. She spread a table, which she covered with all
the delicacies that the Léonard had ever heard of, besides a great
many unknown to him even by name; and then proceeding to a little
fish-pond at the bottom of the garden, she began to call, and at
each call up swam a fish, which she successively caught in a steel
net. When the net was full, she carried it into the next room, and
threw all the fish into a golden frying-pan.

But it seemed to Houarn as though there was a whispering of little
voices amidst the hissing of the pan.

"What is that whispering in the frying-pan, Groac'h?" he asked.

"It is the crackling of the wood," said she, stirring the fire.

An instant after the little voices again began to murmur.

"What is that murmuring, Groac'h?" asked the bridegroom.

"It is the butter in the frying-pan," she answered, giving the fish
a toss.

But soon the little voices cried yet louder.

"What is that cry, Groac'h?" said Houarn.

"It is the cricket in the hearth," replied the fairy; and she began to
sing, so that the Léonard could no longer hear any thing but her voice.

But he could not help thinking on what he had noticed: and thought
brought fear, and fear, of course, repentance.

"Alas!" he cried, "can it then be possible that I have so soon
forgotten Bellah for this Groac'h, who is no doubt a child of
Satan? With her for my wife, I shall not even dare to say my prayers
at night, and shall be as sure to go to hell as an exciseman."

While he thus communed with himself, the fairy brought in the fried
fish, and pressed him to eat, while she went to fetch him twelve new
sorts of wine.

Houarn sighed, took out his knife, and prepared to begin; but scarcely
had the spell-destroying blade touched the golden dish, when all the
fish rose up in the form of little men, each one clad in the proper
costume of his rank and occupation. There was a lawyer with his bands,
a tailor in blue stockings, a miller all white with flour, and so on;
all crying out at once, as they swam in the melted butter,--

"Houarn, save us, if thou wouldst thyself be saved."

"Holy Virgin! what are these little men singing out from amongst the
melted butter?" cried the Léonard, in bewilderment.

"We are Christians like thyself," they answered. "We too came to seek
our fortunes in the Isle of Lok; we too consented to marry the Groac'h;
and the day after the wedding she did with us as she had done with
all our predecessors, of whom the fish-pond in the garden is full."

"What!" cried Houarn, "a creature so young and fair, and yet so
wicked?"

"And thou wilt soon be in the same condition, subject thyself to be
fried and eaten by some new-comer."

Houarn gave a jump, as though he felt himself already in the golden
frying-pan, and ran towards the door, thinking only how he might
escape before the Groac'h should return. But she was already there,
and had heard all; her net of steel was soon thrown over the Léonard,
who found himself instantly transformed into a frog, in which guise
the fairy carried him to the fish-pond, and threw him in, to keep
her former husbands company.

At this moment the little bell, which Houarn wore round his neck,
tinkled of its own accord; and Bellah heard it at Lanillis, where
she was busy skimming the last night's milk.

The sound struck upon her heart like a funeral knell; and she cried
aloud, "Houarn is in danger!" And without a moment's delay, without
asking counsel of any as to what she should do, she ran and put on
her Sunday clothes, her shoes and silver cross, and set out from the
farm with her magic staff. Arrived where four roads met, she set the
stick upright in the ground, murmuring in a low voice,--


   "List, thou crab-tree staff of mine!
      By good St. Vouga, hear me!
    O'er earth and water, through air, 'tis thine
      Whither I will to bear me!"


And lo, the stick became a bay nag, dressed, saddled, and bridled,
with a rosette behind each ear, and a blue feather in front.

Bellah mounted, and the horse set forward; first at a walking
pace, then he trotted, and at last galloped, and that so swiftly,
that ditches, trees, houses, and steeples passed before the young
girl's eyes like the arms of a spindle. But she complained not,
feeling that each step brought her nearer to her dear Houarn; nay,
she rather urged on her beast, saying,

"Less swift than the swallow is the horse, less swift the swallow
than the wind, the wind than the lightning; but thou, my good steed,
if thou lovest me, outstrip them all in speed: for a part of my heart
is suffering; the better half of my own life is in danger."

The horse understood her, and flew like a straw driven by the whirlwind
till he arrived in the country of Arhés, at the foot of the rock
called the Stag's Leap. But there he stood still, for never had horse
scaled that precipice. Bellah, perceiving the cause of his stopping,
renewed her prayer:


   "Once again, thou courser mine,
      By good St. Vouga, hear me!
    O'er earth and water, through air, 'tis thine
      Whither I will to bear me!"


She had hardly finished, when a pair of wings sprang from the sides
of her horse, which now became a great bird, and in this shape flew
away with her to the top of the rock.

Strange indeed was the sight that here met her eyes. Upon a nest
made of potter's clay and dry moss squatted a little korandon, [51]
all swarthy and wrinkled, who, on beholding Bellah, began to cry aloud,

"Hurrah! here is the pretty maiden come to save me!"

"Save thee!" said Bellah. "Who art thou, then, my little man?"

"I am Jeannik, the husband of the Groac'h of the Isle of Lok. She it
was that sent me here."

"But what art thou doing in this nest?"

"I am sitting on six stone eggs, and I cannot be free till they
are hatched."

Bellah could not keep herself from laughing.

"Poor thing!" said she; "and how can I deliver thee?"

"By first saving Houarn, who is in the Groac'h's power."

"Ah, tell me how I may do that!" cried the orphan girl, "and not a
moment will I lose in setting about my part in the matter, though I
should have to make the circuit of the four dioceses upon my bare
knees."

"Well, then, there are two things to be done," said the korandon. "The
first, to present thyself before the Groac'h as a young man; and the
next, to take from her the steel net which she carries at her girdle,
and shut her up in it till the day of judgment."

"And where shall I get a suit of clothes to fit me, korandon?"

"Thou shalt see."

And with these words the little dwarf pulled out four hairs from
his foxy poll, and blew them to the winds, muttering something in an
under-tone, and lo, the four hairs became four tailors, of whom the
first held in his hand a cabbage, the second a pair of scissors, the
third a needle, and the last a smoothing goose. All the four seated
themselves cross-legged round the nest, and began to prepare a suit
of clothes for Bellah.

Out of one cabbage-leaf they made a beautiful coat, laced at every
seam; of another they made a waistcoat; but it took two leaves for
the trunk-breeches, such as are worn in the country of Léon; lastly,
the heart of the cabbage was shaped into a hat, and the stalk was
converted into shoes.

Thus equipped, Bellah would have passed any where for a handsome
young gentleman in green velvet lined with white satin.

She thanked the korandon, who added some further instructions;
and then her great bird flew away with her straight to the Isle of
Lok. There she commanded him to resume the form of a crab-stick; and
entering the swan-shaped boat, arrived safely at the Groac'h's palace.

The fairy was quite taken at first sight with the velvet-clad young
Léonard.

"Well," quoth she to herself, "you are the best-looking young fellow
that has ever come to see me; and I do think I shall love you for
three times three days."

And she began to make much of her guest, calling her her darling,
and heart of hearts. She treated her with a collation; and Bellah
found upon the table St. Corentin's knife, which had been left there
by Houarn. She took it up against the time of need, and followed the
Groac'h into the garden. There the fairy showed her the grass-plots
flowered with diamonds, the fountains of perfumed waters, and, above
all, the fish-pond, wherein swam fishes of a thousand colours.

With these last Bellah pretended to be especially taken, so that she
must needs sit down upon the edge of the pond, the better to enjoy
the sight of them.

The Groac'h took advantage of her delight to ask her if she would not
like to spend all her days in this lovely place. Bellah replied that
she should like it of all things.

"Well, then, so you may, and from this very hour, if you are only
ready at once to marry me," proceeded the fairy.

"Very well," replied Bellah; "but you must let me fetch up one of
these beautiful fishes with the steel net that hangs at your girdle."

The Groac'h, nothing suspecting, and taking this request for a mere
boyish freak, gave her the net, saying with a smile, "Let us see,
fair fisherman, what you will catch."

"Thee, fiend!" cried Bellah, throwing the net over the Groac'h's
head. "In the name of the Saviour of men, accursed sorceress, become
in body even as thou art in soul!"

The cry uttered by the Groac'h died away in a stifled murmur, for
the exorcism had already taken effect; the beautiful water fay was
now nothing more than the hideous queen of toadstools.

In an instant Bellah drew the net, and with all speed threw it into a
well, upon which she laid a stone sealed with the sign of the cross,
that it might remain closed till the tombs shall be opened at the
last day.

She then hastened back to the pond; but all the fish were already out
of it, coming forth to meet her, like a procession of many-coloured
monks, crying in their little hoarse voices, "Behold our lord and
master! who has delivered us from the net of steel and the golden
frying-pan."

"And who will also restore you to your shape of Christians," said
Bellah, drawing forth the knife of St. Corentin. But as she was
about to touch the first fish, she perceived close to her a frog,
with the magic bell hung about his neck, and sobbing bitterly as he
knelt before her. Bellah felt her bosom swell, and she exclaimed,
"Is it thou, is it thou, my Houarn, thou lord of my sorrow and my joy?"

"It is I," answered the youth.

At a touch with the potent blade he recovered his proper form, and
Bellah and he fell into each other's arms, the one eye weeping for
the past, the other glistening with the present joy.

She then did the like to all the fishes, who were restored each of
them to his pristine shape and condition.

The work of disenchantment was hardly at an end, when up came the
little korandon from the Stag's-Leap rock.

"Here I am, my pretty maiden," cried he to Bellah: "the spell which
held me where you saw me is broken, and I am come to thank you for
my deliverance."

He then conducted the lovers to the Groac'h's coffers, which were
filled with precious stones, of which he told them to take as many
as they pleased.

They both loaded their pockets, their girdles, and their hats; and
when they had as much as they could carry, they departed, with all
whom she had delivered from the enchantment.

The banns were soon published, and Houarn and Bellah were married. But
instead of a little cow and a lean pig, he bought all the land in the
parish, and put in as farmers the people he had brought with him from
the Isle of Lok.



THE FOUR GIFTS.


If I had an income of three hundred crowns, I would go and dwell
at Quimper; the finest church in Cornouaille is to be found there,
and all the houses have weather-vanes upon their roofs. If I had two
hundred crowns a year, I would live at Carhaix, for the sake of its
heath-fed sheep and its game. But if I had only one hundred, I would
set up housekeeping at Pontaven, for there is the greatest abundance
of every thing. At Pontaven they sell butter at the price of milk,
chickens for that of eggs, and linen at the same rate as you can buy
green flax. So that there are plenty of good farms there, where they
dish up salt pork at least three times a week, and where the very
shepherds eat as much rye-bread as they desire.

In such a farm lived Barbaik Bourhis, a spirited woman, who had
maintained her household like a man, and who had fields and stacks
enough to have kept two sons at college.

But Barbaik had only a niece, whose earnings far outweighed her keep,
so that every day she laid by as much as she could save.

But savings too easily acquired have always their bad side. If you
hoard up wheat, you attract rats into your barns; and if you lay by
crowns, you will engender avarice in your heart.

Old Mother Bourhis had come at last to care for nothing but the
increase of her hoards, and think nothing of any one who did not
happen to pay heavy sums each month to the tax-gatherers. So she
was angry when she saw Dénès, the labourer of Plover, chatting with
her niece behind the gable. One morning, after thus surprising them,
she cried to Tephany in step-mother tones,

"Are not you ashamed to be always chattering thus with a young man
who has nothing, when there are so many others who would gladly buy
for you the silver ring?"

"Dénès is a good workman and a thorough Christian," replied the
damsel. "Some day he will be able to rent a farm where he may rear
a family."

"And so you would like to marry him?" interrupted the old woman. "God
save us! I would sooner see you drowned in the well than married to
that vagabond. No, no, it shall never be said that I brought up my
own sister's child to be the wife of a man who can carry his whole
fortune in his tobacco-pouch."

"What matters fortune when we have good health, and can ask the
Blessed Virgin to look down on our intentions?" replied Tephany gently.

"What matters fortune!" replied the fermière, scandalised. "What! have
you come to such a length as to despise the wealth that God has given
us? May all the saints take pity on us! Since this is the case, you
bold-faced thing, I forbid you ever to speak again to Dénès; and if
I catch him at this farm again, it will be the worse for you both;
and meanwhile go you down to the washing-place, and wash the linen,
and spread it out to dry upon the hawthorn; for since you've had one
ear turned towards the wind from Plover, every thing stands still at
home, and your two arms are worth no more than the five fingers of
a one-armed man."

Tephany would have answered, but in vain. Mother Bourhis imperiously
pointed out to her the bucket, the soap, and the beetle, and ordered
her to set off that very instant.

The girl obeyed, but her heart swelled with grief and resentment.

"Old age is harder than the farm-door steps," thought she to herself;
"yes, one hundred times harder, for the rain by frequent falling
wears away the stones; but tears have no power to soften the will of
old people. God knows that talking with Dénès was the only pleasure I
had. If I am to see him no more, I might as well leave the world at
once; and our good angel was always with us. Dénès has done nothing
but teach me pretty songs, and talk about what we shall do when we
are married, in a farm, he looking after the fields, and I managing
the cattle."

Thus talking to herself, Tephany had reached the douez. Whilst setting
down her tub of linen upon one of the white lavatory stones, she
became aware of an old woman, a stranger, sitting there, leaning her
head upon a little scorched thorn-stick. Notwithstanding her vexation,
Tephany saluted her.

"Is my aunt [52] taking the air under the alders?" said she, moving
her load farther off.

"One must rest where one can, when one has the roof of heaven for a
shelter," answered the old woman, in a trembling voice.

"Are you, then, so desolate?" asked Tephany compassionately; "is
there no relation left who can offer you a refuge at his fireside?"

"Every one is long since dead," replied the stranger; "and I have no
other family than all kind hearts."

The maiden took the piece of rye-bread rubbed with dripping which
Barbaik had given her in a bit of linen with her beetle.

"Take this, poor aunt," said she, offering it to the beggar. "To-day,
at least, you shall dine like a Christian on our good God's bread;
only remember in your prayers my parents, who are dead."

The old woman took the bread, then looked at Tephany.

"Those who help others deserve help themselves," said she. "Your
eyes are red, because Barbaik has forbidden you to speak to the lad
from Plover; but he is a worthy youth, whose intentions are good,
and I will give you the means of seeing him once every day."

"You!" cried the girl, astonished that the beggar was so well informed.

"Take this long copper-pin," replied the crone; "and every time you
stick it in your dress, Mother Bourhis will be forced to leave the
farm, and go to count her cabbages. All the time this pin remains
where you stick it, you will be at liberty; and your aunt will not
return until the pin is put back into this étui."

With these words the beggar rose, nodded a farewell, and disappeared.

Tephany was lost in astonishment. Evidently the old woman was no
beggar, but a saint, or a singer of truth. [53]

At any rate, the young girl treasured the pin carefully, well
determined to try its power the next day. Towards the time, then,
at which Dénès was accustomed to make his appearance, she set it in
her collar. Barbaik instantly put on her wooden shoes, and walked
off into the garden, where she set herself to count her cabbages;
from the garden she went to the orchard, and from the orchard to the
field, so that Tephany could talk with Dénès at her ease.

It was the same the next day, and the next, through many weeks. As
soon as the pin made its appearance from the étui, the good woman
was off amongst her cabbages, always beginning to count once more
how many little or big, embossed or curly cabbages [54] she had.

Dénès at first appeared enchanted at this freedom, but by degrees he
grew less eager to avail himself of it. He had taught Tephany all his
songs; he had told her all his plans; now he was forced to consider
what he could talk to her about, and make it up beforehand, like a
preacher preparing his sermon. And more than that, he came later,
and went earlier away; sometimes even, pretending cartage, weeding,
or errands to the town detained him, he came not to the farm at all;
and Tephany had to console herself with her pin.

She understood that the love of her betrothed was cooling, and became
more sorrowful than before.

One day, after vainly waiting for the youth, she took her pitcher, and
went all solitary to the fountain, her heart swelling with displeasure.

When she reached it, she perceived the same old woman who had given
her the magic pin. There she sat, near the spring; and watching
Tephany as she advanced, she began with a little chuckling laugh,

"Ah, ah! then the pretty girl is no longer satisfied to chatter with
her humble servant any hour of the day."

"Alas, to chat, I must be with him," replied Tephany mournfully;
"and custom has made my company less agreeable to him. Oh, aunt,
since you have given me the means of seeing him every day, you might
give me at the same time wit enough to keep my hold upon him."

"Is that what my daughter wants?" said the old woman. "In that case,
here is a feather; let her but put it in her hair, and no one can
resist her, for she will be as clever and as cunning as Master John
[55] himself."

Tephany, reddening with delight, carried off the feather; and just
before Dénès' visit on the following day, she stuck it under her
blue rozarès. [56] That very instant it appeared to her as if the
sun rose in her mind; she found herself acquainted with what students
spend ten years in learning, and much that even the very wisest know
nothing of; for with the science of a man, she still preserved the
malice of a woman. Dénès was of course astonished at her words; she
talked in rhyme like the bazvalanes [57] of Cornouaille, she knew
more songs than the mendicants from Scaër, and could tell all the
stories current at the forges and the mills throughout the country.

The young man came day after day, and Tephany found always something
new to tell him. Dénès had never met man or woman with so much wit;
but after enjoying it for a time, he began to be scared by it. Tephany
had not been able to resist putting in her feather for others than him;
her songs, her sayings, were repeated every where, and people said,

"She is a mischievous creature; he who marries her is sure to be led
like a bridled horse."

The Plover lad repeated in his own mind the same predictions; and as
he had always thought that he would rather hold than wear the bridle,
he began to laugh with more constraint at Tephany's jests.

One day, when he wanted to be off to a dance in a new threshing-floor,
the maiden used her utmost efforts to retain him; but Dénès, who did
not choose to be led, would not listen to her reasons, and repulsed
her entreaties.

"Ah, I see why you are so anxious to go to the new barn," said Tephany,
with irritation; "you are going to see Aziliçz of Penenru there."

Aziliçz was the handsomest girl in the whole canton; and, if her good
friends told truth, she was the greatest flirt.

"To tell the truth, Aziliçz will be there," said Dénès, who delighted
in piquing the jealousy of his dearly-beloved; "and to see her any
one would go a long round."

"Go, then, where your heart draws you," said the wounded damsel.

And she returned to the farm without hearing a word more he had to say.

But seating herself, overwhelmed with sadness, on the broad
hearth-stone, she gave herself up to earnest thought; and then flinging
the wondrous feather from her, she exclaimed,

"Of what use is wit and cleverness for maidens, since men rush towards
beauty as the flies to sunshine! Ah, what I want, old aunt, is not
to be the wisest, but the fairest on the earth."

"Be thou also, then, the fairest," uttered an unexpected voice.

Tephany turned round astonished, and saw at the door the old woman
with her thorn-stick, who thus spoke:

"Take this necklace, and so long as you shall wear it round your neck,
you shall appear amongst all other women as the queen of the meadow
amidst wild flowers."

Tephany could not repress a cry of joy. She hastened to put on the
necklace, rushed to her little mirror, and there stood dumb with
admiration. Never had any girl been at once so fair and so rosy,
so lovely to look upon.

Anxious to judge instantly of the effect which her appearance would
produce on Dénès, she decked herself out in her finest dress, her
worsted stockings, and her buckled shoes, and took her way towards
the new barn.

But just as she reached the cross-road, she met a young lord in his
coach, who, the instant he caught sight of her, desired the coachman
to stop.

"By my life," cried he, in admiration, "I had no idea there was such
a beautiful creature as this in the country; and if it were to cost
me my life, she must bear my name."

But Tephany replied, "Go on, good sir, go on your way; I am but a
poor peasant-girl, accustomed to winnow, milk, and mow."

"But I will make a noble lady of you," cried the young lord; and
taking her hand, he tried to lead her to his coach.

The maiden drew back.

"I will only be the bride of Dénès, the Plover labourer," said she,
with resolution.

The lord still insisted; but when he found that she went towards
the ditch to fly away across the meadows, he desired his footmen to
seize her, and put her by force into the coach, which then set off
at full gallop.

In about an hour's time they reached the castle, which was built of
carved stone, and was covered with slate, like all noble mansions. The
young lord ordered them to go and fetch a priest to perform the
marriage ceremony; and as meanwhile Tephany would not hear a word he
had to say, and kept trying to run away, he made them shut her up
in a great hall closed by three doors well bolted, and desired his
servants to guard her well. But by means of her pin Tephany sent them
all into the garden to count cabbages; by her feather she discovered
a fourth door concealed in the panneling, whereby she escaped; and
then fervently committing herself to Providence, she scampered away
through the woods like a hare who hears the dogs behind her.

As long as she had any strength left, on she went, until the night
began to close around her. Then, perceiving the turret of a convent,
she went up to the little grated door, and ringing the bell, begged
for a night's shelter; but on seeing her the portress shook her head.

"Go away, go away," said she; "there is no place here for young girls
so beautiful as you, who wander all alone at this hour of night along
the roads."

And closing the wicket, she went away without listening to another
word.

Forced to go further on, Tephany stopped at a farm-door, where there
were several young men and women talking together, and made the same
request as at the convent.

The mistress of the house hesitated what answer to make; but all the
young men, dazzled by Tephany's beauty, cried out each one that he
would take her to his father's house, and every one endeavoured to
outbid his neighbour in their offers. One said that he would take her
in a wagon and three horses, lest she should be tired; another promised
her the best bed; and a third declared that she should sit down at
table with the family. At last, from promises they came to quarrelling,
and from quarrelling to blows; until the women, frightened, began to
abuse Tephany, telling her it was an infamous shame to come with her
charms to put dissensions amongst men in that way. The poor girl,
quite beside herself, tried to run away; but all the young men set
off after her. Just then she all at once remembered her necklace,
and taking it from her neck slipped it round that of a sow who was
cropping the buttercups. In an instant the charm that drew the youths
towards her died away, and they began to pursue the beast instead,
which fled away in terror.

Tephany still went on in spite of her fatigue, and came at last to her
aunt's farm, worn out with weariness, but still more with grief. Her
wishes had brought her so little satisfaction, that she passed many
days without making another. However, Dénès' visits grew more and
more uncertain; he had undertaken to clear a warren, and there he
toiled from morning until night.

When the young girl regretted seeing so little of him, he had always
to reply that his labour was their sole resource; and that if people
want to spend their time in talking together, they must needs have
legacies or dowries.

Then Tephany began to complain and to desire.

"God pardon me," said she, in a low voice; "but what I ought to ask
for is not liberty to see Dénès every day, for he soon gets tired
of it; nor wit, for it scares him; nor beauty, for it brings upon me
trouble and mistrust; but rather wealth, for then one can be master
of oneself and others. Ah, if I dared to make yet one petition more
of the old aunt, I would be wiser than I was before."

"Be satisfied," said the voice of the old beggar, though Tephany
perceived her not. "Feel in your right pocket, and you will find a
little box; rub your eyes with the ointment it contains, and you will
have a treasure in yourself."

The young girl hastily felt in her pocket, found the box, opened
it, and began to rub her eyes as she had been desired, when Barbaik
Bourhis entered.

She who, in spite of herself, had now for some time past consumed
whole days in cabbage-counting, and who saw all the farm-work fallen
into arrears, was only waiting an occasion for visiting her wrath upon
somebody. Seeing her niece sitting down doing nothing, she clasped
her hands and cried,

"That's the way, then, that the work goes on whilst I am in the
fields. Ah, I am surprised no longer that we are all going to ruin. Are
you not ashamed, you wretch, to plunder food in this way from your
kith and kin?"

Tephany would have excused herself; but Barbaik's rage was like
milk heating on a turf-fire--let but the first bubble rise, and all
mounts upwards and boils over; from reproaches she came to threats,
and from threats to a box on the ear.

Tephany, who had borne every thing patiently till then, could no
longer restrain her tears; but guess her astonishment when she
perceived that every tear was a beautiful and shining fair round pearl.

Mother Bourhis, who made the same discovery, uttered loud cries of
admiration, and set herself to pick them up.

Dénès, who came in at that instant, was no less surprised.

"Pearls! real pearls!" he exclaimed, catching them.

"It will make our fortune," said Barbaik, continuing to pick them
up. "Ah, what fairy has bestowed this gift upon her? We must take
good care lest it gets noised abroad, Dénès; I will give you a share,
but only you. Go on, my girl, go on; you also shall be benefited by
this opportunity."

She held her apron, and Dénès his hat; the pearls were all he thought
of, forgetful they were tears.

Tephany, choking with emotion, would have escaped; but the old
woman stopped her, reproaching her with wishing to defraud them,
and saying all she could to make her cry the more. The young girl
compelled herself with violent effort to control her sorrow, and to
wipe her eyes.

"It's all over already," cried Barbaik. "Ah, Blessed Virgin, can
one be so weak-minded! If I had such a gift as that, I would no more
think of stopping than the great fountain on the Green Road. Hadn't
we better beat her a little, and try again?"

"No," interrupted Dénès, "for fear we should exhaust her the first
time. I will set forth this moment for the town, and there find out
how much each pearl is worth."

Barbaik and he went out together, reckoning the value as nearly
as they could, and deciding beforehand how they should divide it,
forgetting Tephany completely in the matter.

As for her, she clasped her two hands upon her heart, and raised her
eyes towards heaven; but her look was intercepted by the aged beggar,
who, leaning on her staff in the duskiest corner of the hearth, was
watching her with mocking eye. The maiden trembled; and seizing the
pin, the feather, and the box of ointment given her by the crone,

"Take back, take back," she cried, "your fatal gifts. Woe to all
those who cannot be content with what they have received from God! He
had gifted me according to His own wise appointment, and I madly
was dissatisfied with my portion. Give others liberty, wit, beauty,
and wealth. For me, I neither am, nor will be, other than the simple
girl of former days, loving and serving her neighbours to the utmost
of her power."

"Well said, Tephany," cried the old woman. "Thou hast come out from
the trial; but let it do thee good. The Almighty has sent me to
bestow this lesson on thee; I am thy guardian angel. Now that thou
hast learned this truth, thou wilt live more happily; for God has
promised peace to hearts of good will."

With these words the beggar changed into an angel glittering with
light; and shedding through the farm a scent of violets and of incense,
vanished like a flash of lightning.

Tephany forgave Dénès his willingness to make merchandise of her
tears. Become now more reasonable, she accepted happiness as we find
it on this earth; and she was married to the lad of Plover, who proved
through all his life a good husband and a first-rate workman.



THE PALACE OF THE PROUD KING.


The children slumber sweetly in their curtained beds; the brown dog
snores upon the broad hearth-stone; the cows chew the cud behind their
screen of broom; and the fading fire-light quivers on the grandsire's
old arm-chair.

This is the time, dear friends, when we should make the sign of
the cross, and murmur a prayer in secret for the souls of those
that we have loved. Hark! midnight is striking from St. Michael's
church,--midnight of Holy Pentecost.

This is the hour when all true Christians lay down their heads upon
their quiet pillows, content with that which God has given them,
and sleep, lulled by the gentle breathing of their slumbering children.

But as for Perik Skoarn, no little children had he. He was a daring
young fellow, but as yet quite solitary. When he saw the gentry from
the neighbourhood coming to Mass on Sundays, he envied them their
handsome horses with the silver-plated bridles, their velvet mantles,
and their embroidered silken hose. He longed to be as rich as they
were, that he also might have a seat covered with red leather in the
church, and be able to carry the fair farmers' daughters to the fair
seated on his horse's crupper.

This is the reason Perik walked upon Lew-Dréz, at the foot of
St. Efflam's down, whilst all good Christians slept upon their beds,
watched over by the Holy Virgin. Perik is a man hungering after
greatness and luxury. The longings of his heart are countless, like
the nests of the sea-swallows in the sandy cliffs.

The waves sighed sadly in the dark horizon; the crabs fed silently
upon the bodies of the drowned; the wind that whistled in the rocks
of Roch-Ellas mimicked the call-cry of the smugglers of Lew-Dréz;
but Skoarn still paced the shore.

He looked upon the mountain, and recalled the words of the old beggar
at Yar Cross. That old man knew all that had happened in these parts,
when these our ancient oaks hung yet as acorns on their parent trees,
and our oldest ravens still slumbered in the egg.

Now the old beggar of Yar had told him, that here, where now stretch
the downs of St. Efflam, a famous city formerly extended; its ships
covered the wide ocean, and it was governed by a king, whose sceptre
was a hazel-wand that fashioned every thing according to his wish.

But the king and all his people were punished for their pride and
iniquity; for one day, by God's command, the strand rose upwards
like the bubbling of a boiling flood, and so engulfed the guilty
city. But every year, upon the night of Pentecost, a passage opens
through the mountain with the first stroke of twelve o'clock, and
shows an entrance to the monarch's palace.

The all-powerful hazel-wand may be discovered hanging in the furthest
hall of this magnificent abode; but those who seek it must make haste,
for as the final stroke of midnight sounds upon the ear, the passage
closes once again, to open no more until the following Pentecost.

Skoarn had well remembered all the tale of the old beggar at the
Cross of Yar, and for this reason he treads at such unwonted hour
the sands of the Lew-Dréz.

At length a sharp stroke came dashing from the belfrey of
St. Michael. Skoarn trembled; he looked eagerly, by the pale starlight,
at the granite mass which heads the mountain, and beheld it slowly
open, like the jaws of an awakening dragon.

Skoarn rushed into the passage, which at first seemed dark, but
gradually gleamed with a blue light, like that which hovers nightly
over church-yard graves; and thus he found his way into a mighty
palace, the marble front of which was sculptured like the church of
Folgoat or of Quimper-on-the-Odet.

The first hall he entered was all full of chests heaped, like the
corn-bins after harvest, with the purest silver; but Perik Skoarn
wanted more than silver, and he passed it through. The clock sounded
the sixth stroke of midnight.

He found a second hall, set round with coffers crammed with gold, as
stable-racks are crammed with blossoming grass in the sweet month of
June. But Skoarn wanted something better still, and he went on. The
seventh stroke sounded.

The third hall to which he came had baskets flowing over with white
pearls, like milk in the broad dairy-pans of Cornouaille in the early
spring. Skoarn would gladly have had some of these; but he heard the
eighth stroke sounding, and he hurried on.

The fourth hall was all glittering with diamond caskets, shedding
brighter light than all the furzy piles upon the hillocks of Douron
on St. John's eve. Skoarn was dazzled, and hesitated for a moment;
then rushed into the last hall as he heard the church-clock for the
ninth time.

But there he stood still suddenly with wondering admiration. In
front of the hazel-wand, which hung in full sight at the further end,
were ranged a hundred maidens most fair to look upon; they held in
one hand wreaths of the green oak, and in the other cups of glowing
wine. Skoarn had resisted silver, gold, pearls, and diamonds; but he
was overpowered by the vision of these beauteous maidens, and he stood
still to gaze at them, and at the sparkling cups they presented to him.

The tenth stroke sounded, and he heard it not; the eleventh, and he
still stood motionless. At last, just as he was about to hold out
his hand to receive the cup from the maiden next to him, the twelfth
was heard, as mournful as the great gun of a ship at wreck among
the breakers.

Then Perik, terrified, would fain have turned, but time for him was
over. The doors all closed, the hundred fair young girls were now so
many granite statues, and all was once more folded up in darkness.

This is the way our fathers tell the tale of Skoarn. You see now what
will happen to a youth who suffers his heart too readily to open at
seduction's voice. May all the young take warning by his fate. It
is well to walk sometimes with eyes cast downwards to the earth,
for fear we should be led into the paths of evil and sin.



THE PIPER.


The sea-breeze blew from the shore of the Black Water, and the stars
were rising. The young maidens had gone homewards to the little farms,
carrying on their fingers the metal rings their friends had bought
them at the fair. The youths went across the common, singing their
songs. At last their sonorous voices could no more be heard; the
light dresses of the damsels were no longer to be seen; it was night.

Nevertheless, here was Lao, with a merry company, at the entrance of
the lonely heath,--Lao, the celebrated piper, come expressly from the
mountains to lead the dance at the fair of Armor. His face was as red
as a March moon, his black locks floated as they would upon the wind,
and he held under his arm the pipe whose magic sounds had even set
in motion a number of old women in their sabots. When they came to
the cross-road of the Warning, where there rises the granite cross
all overgrown with moss, the women stopped, and said,

"Let us take the pathway leading towards the sea."

Master Lao pointed out the belfry-tower of Plougean over the hill,
and said,

"That is the point we are making for; why not go across the heath?"

The women answered,

"Because there rises a city of Korigans, Lao, in the middle of that
heath; and one must be pure from sin to pass it without danger."

But Lao laughed aloud.

"By heaven!" said he, "I have travelled by night-time all these roads,
yet I have never seen your little black men counting their money by
moonlight, as they tell us at the chimney-corner. Show me the road
leading to the Korigan city, and I will go and sing to them the days
of the week." [58]

But the women all exclaimed,

"Don't tempt God, Lao. God has put some things in this world of which
it is better to be ignorant, and others which we ought to fear. Leave
the Korigans alone to dance about their granite dwellings."

"To dance!" cried Lao. "Then the Korigans have pipers too?"

"They have the whistling of the wind across the heath, and the singing
of the night-bird."

"Well, then," said the mountaineer, "I am determined that to-day at
least they shall have Christian music. I will go across the common
playing some of my best Cornouaille airs."

So saying, he put his pipe to his lips, and striking up a cheerful
strain, he set off boldly on the little footway that stretched like
a white line across the gloomy heath.

The women, terrified, made the sign of the cross, and hurried down
the hill.

But Lao walked straight on without fear, and played meanwhile upon
his pipes. As he advanced, his heart grew bolder, his breath more
powerful, and the music louder. Already had he crossed just half the
common, when he saw the Menhir rising like a phantom in the night,
and further on, the dwellings of the Korigans.

Then he seemed to hear an ever-rising murmur. At first it was like
the trickling of a rill, then like the rushing of a river, and then
the roaring of the sea; and different sounds were mingled in this
roar,--sometimes like stifled laughs, then furious hissing, the
mutterings of low voices, and the rush of steps upon the withered
grass.

Lao began to breathe less freely, and his restless eyes glanced right
and left over the common. It was as if the tufts of heath were moving,
all seemed alive and whirling in the gloom, all took the form of
hideous dwarfs, and voices were distinctly heard. Suddenly the moon
rose, and Lao cried aloud.

To left, to right, behind, before, every where, far as the eye could
reach, the common was alive with running Korigans. Lao, bewildered,
drew back to the Menhir, against which he leant; but the Korigans
saw him, and came round with cries like those of grasshoppers.

"It is the famous piper of Cornouaille come hither to play for the
Korigans."

Lao made the sign of the cross; but all the little men surrounded him,
and shrieked,

"Thou belongest to us, Lao. Pipe then, thou famous piper, and lead
the dance of the Korigans."

Lao in vain resisted, some magic power mastered him; he felt the pipe
approach his lips; he played, he danced, in spite of himself. The
Korigans surrounded him with circling bands, and every time he would
have paused they cried in chorus,

"Pipe, famous piper, pipe, and lead the dance of the Korigans."

Lao went on thus the whole night; but as the stars grew paler in
the sky, the music of his pipes waxed fainter, his feet had greater
difficulty in moving from the ground. At last the dawn of day spread
palely in the east, the cocks were heard crowing in the distant farms,
and the Korigans disappeared.

Then the mountain piper sunk down breathless at the foot of the
Menhir. The mouth-piece of his pipes fell from his shrivelled lips,
his arms dropped upon his knees, his head upon his breast, to rise
no more; and voices murmured in the air,

"Sleep, famous piper! thou hast led the dance of the Korigans; thou
shalt never lead the dance for Christians more."



THE WHITE INN.


Once upon a time there was an inn at Ponthou, known, from its
appearance, as the White Inn. The people who kept it were both good and
honest. They were known to be punctual at their Easter duties, and no
one ever thought of counting money after them. It was at the White Inn
that travellers would stop to sleep; and horses knew the place so well,
that they would draw up of their own accord before the stable-door.

The headsman of the harvest [59] had brought in short gloomy days;
and one evening, as Floc'h the landlord was standing at the White-Inn
door, a traveller, evidently of importance, and mounted on a splendid
foreign steed, reined up his horse, and lifting his hand to his hat,
said courteously,

"I want a supper and a bed-chamber."

Floc'h drew first his pipe from his mouth, and then his hat from his
head, and answered,

"God bless you, sir, a supper you shall have; but as to a room, we
cannot give it you; for we have now above, six muleteers on their
way home to Redon, who have taken all the beds of the White Inn."

The traveller then said,

"For God's sake, my good man, contrive for me to sleep somewhere. The
very dogs have a kennel, and it is not fitting that Christians be
without a bed in such weather as this."

"Sir stranger," said the host remorsefully, "I can only tell you that
the inn is full, and we have no place for you but the red room."

"Well, give me that," replied the stranger.

But the landlord rubbed his forehead and looked grieved; for he could
not let the traveller sleep in the red chamber.

"Since I have been at the White Inn," said he at last, "only two men
have ever occupied that room; and on the morrow, black as had been
their hair the night before, they rose with it snow-white."

The traveller looked full at the landlord.

"Then your house is haunted by the spirits from another world?" asked
he.

"It is," faltered the landlord.

"Then God and the Blessed Virgin be merciful to me. I will sleep there;
but make me a fire, and warm my bed; for I am cold."

The landlord did as he was ordered.

When the traveller had finished supper, he bade good night to all
at table, and went up to the red chamber. The landlord and his wife
trembled, and began to pray.

The stranger having reached his room began to look about him.

It was a large flame-coloured chamber, with great shining stains
upon the walls, that might well have been taken for the marks of
fresh-spilt blood. At the further end there stood a four-post bed,
surrounded by heavy curtains. The rest of the room was empty; and the
mournful whistling of the wind came down the chimney and the corridors,
and sounded like the cries of souls beseeching prayers.

The traveller, kneeling down, prayed silently to God, then fearlessly
got into bed, and soon slept soundly.

But, lo, at the very moment when the hour of midnight sounded from
a distant church-tower, he suddenly awoke, heard the curtain-rings
sliding on their iron poles, and beheld them open at his right hand.

He was going to get out of bed; but his feet striking against something
cold, he recoiled in terror.

There stood before him a coffin, with four lighted candles at the
corners, and covered with a great black pall that glittered as
with tears.

The stranger turned to try the other side of his bed; but the coffin
instantly changed places, and barred his way out as before.

Five times he made an effort to escape, and every time the bier was
there beneath his feet, with the candles and the funeral pall.

The traveller then knew it was a ghost, who had some boon to ask;
and kneeling up in bed, he made the holy sign, and spoke:

"Who art thou, departed one? Speak. A Christian listens to thee."

A voice answered from the coffin,

"I am a traveller murdered here by those who kept this inn before
its present owner. I died unprepared, and now I suffer in Purgatory."

"What needs there, suffering soul, to give thee rest?"

"I want six Masses said at the church of our Lady of Folgoat, and
also a pilgrimage made for my intention by some Christian to our Lady
of Rumengol."

No sooner had these words been uttered than the lights went out,
the curtains closed, and all was silence.

The stranger spent the night in prayer.

The next morning he told the landlord every thing, and said,

"My good friend, I am M. de Rohan, of family as noble as the noblest
now in Brittany. I will go and make the pilgrimage to Rumengol, and I
will see that the six Masses shall be said. Trouble yourself no more;
for this suffering soul shall rest in peace."

Within the short space of one month the red room had lost its crimson
hue, and become white and cheerful as the others. No sound was heard
there but the swallows twittering in the chimney, and nothing could
be seen but a fair white bed, a crucifix, and a vessel of holy water.

The traveller had kept his word.



PERONNIK THE IDIOT. [60]


You cannot surely have failed, some time or other, to meet by chance
some of those poor idiots, or innocents, whose utmost wisdom scarcely
serves to lead them as beggars from door to door in quest of daily
bread. One might almost fancy they were straying calves who have lost
their way home. They stare all round with open eyes and mouth, as if in
search of somewhat; but, alas, that they seek is not plentiful enough
in these parts to be found upon the highways--for it is common sense.

Peronnik was one of these poor idiots, to whom the charity of strangers
had been in place of father or of mother. He wandered ever onwards
unconscious whither; when he was thirsty, he drank from wayside
springs; when hungry, he begged stale crusts from the women he saw
standing at their doors; and when in need of sleep, he looked out for
a heap of straw, and hollowed himself out a nest in it like a lizard.

As to any knowledge of a trade, Peronnik had, indeed, never learnt one;
but for all that he was skilful enough in many matters: he could go
on eating as long as you desired him to do so; he could outsleep any
one for any length of time; and he could imitate with his tongue the
song of larks. There is many a one now in these parts who cannot do
so much as this.

At the time of which I am telling you (that is, many a hundred years
ago and more), the land of White-Wheat was not altogether what you see
it nowadays. Since then many a gentleman has devoured his inheritance,
and cut up his forests into wooden shoes. Thus the forest of Paimpont
extended over more than twenty parishes; some say it even crossed the
river, and went as far as Elven. However that may be, Peronnik came one
day to a farm built upon the border of the wood; and as the Benedicite
bell had long since rung in his stomach, he drew near to ask for food.

The farmer's wife happened at that moment to be kneeling down on
the door-sill to scrape the soup-bowl with her flint-stone; [61] but
when she heard the idiot's voice asking for food in the name of God,
she stopped and held the kettle towards him.

"Here," she cried, "poor fellow, eat these scrapings, and say an
'Our Father' for our pigs, that nothing on earth will fatten."

Peronnik seated himself on the ground, put the kettle between his
knees, and began to scrape it with his nails; but it was little
enough he could succeed in finding, for all the spoons in the house
had already done their duty upon it. However, he licked his fingers,
and made an audible grunt of satisfaction, as if he had never tasted
any thing better.

"It is millet-flour," said he, in a low voice,--"millet-flour moistened
with the black cow's milk, [62] and by the best cook in the whole
Low Country."

The farmer's wife, who was going by, turned round delighted.

"Poor innocent," said she, "there is little enough of it left; but
I will add a scrap of rye-bread."

And she brought the lad the first cutting of a round loaf just out
of the oven. Peronnik bit into it like a wolf into a lamb's leg, and
declared that it must have been kneaded by the baker to his lordship
the Bishop of Vannes.

The flattered peasant replied, that was nothing to the taste of
it when spread with fresh-churned butter; and to prove her words,
she brought him some in a little covered saucer. After taking this,
the idiot declared that this was living butter, not to be excelled by
butter of the White Week itself; [63] and to give greater force to his
words, he poured over his crust all that the saucer contained. But the
satisfaction of the farmer's wife prevented her from noticing this;
and she added to what she had already given him a lump of dripping
left from the Sunday soup.

Peronnik praised every mouthful more and more, and swallowed every
thing as if it had been water from a spring; for it was very long
since he had made so good a meal.

The farmer's wife went and came, watching him as he ate, and adding
from time to time sundry scraps, which he took, making each time the
sign of the cross.

Whilst thus employed in recruiting himself, behold a knight appeared
at the house-door, and addressing himself to the woman, asked her
which was the road to Kerglas castle.

"Heavens! good gentleman," exclaimed the farmer's wife, "are you
going there?"

"Yes," replied the warrior; "and I have come from a land so distant
for this purpose, that I have been travelling night and day these
three months to get so far on my way."

"And what are you come to seek at Kerglas?" asked the Breton woman.

"I am come in quest of the golden basin and the diamond lance."

"These two are, then, very valuable things?" asked Peronnik.

"They are of more value than all the crowns on earth," replied the
stranger; "for not only will the golden basin produce instantaneously
all the dainties and the wealth one can desire, but it suffices to
drink therefrom to be healed of every malady; and the dead themselves
are raised to life by touching it with their lips. As to the diamond
lance, it kills and overthrows all that it touches."

"And to whom do this diamond lance and golden basin belong?" asked
Peronnik, bewildered.

"To a magician called Rogéar, who lives in the castle of Kerglas,"
answered the farmer's wife. "He is to be seen any day near the forest
pathway, riding along upon his black mare followed by a colt of three
months' old; but no one dares to attack him, for he holds the fearful
lance in his hand."

"Yes," replied the stranger; "but the command of God forbids him to
make use of it within the castle of Kerglas. So soon as he arrives
there, the lance and the basin are deposited at the bottom of a dark
cave, which no key will open; therefore, it is in that place I propose
to attack the magician."

"Alas, you will never succeed, my good sir," replied the peasant
woman. "More than a hundred gentlemen have already attempted it;
but not one amongst them has returned."

"I know that, my good woman," answered the knight; "but they had not
been instructed as I have by the Hermit of Blavet."

"And what did the Hermit tell you?" asked Peronnik.

"He warned me of all that I shall have to do," replied the
stranger. "First of all, I shall have to cross an enchanted wood,
wherein every kind of magic will be put in force to terrify and
bewilder me from my way. The greater number of my predecessors have
lost themselves, and there died of cold, hunger, or fatigue."

"And if you succeed in crossing it?" said the idiot.

"If I get safely through it," continued the gentleman, "I shall
meet a Korigan armed with a fiery sword, which lays all it touches
in ashes. This Korigan keeps watch beside an apple-tree, from which
it is necessary that I should gather one apple."

"And then?" said Peronnik.

"Then I shall discover the laughing flower, and this is guarded by
a lion whose mane is made of vipers. This flower I must also gather;
after which I must cross the lake of dragons to fight the black man,
who flings an iron bowl that ever hits its mark and returns to its
master of its own accord. Then I shall enter on the valley of delights,
where every thing that can tempt and stay the feet of a Christian
will be arrayed before me, and shall reach a river with one single
ford. There I shall meet a lady clad in sable whom I shall take upon
my horse's crupper, and she will tell me all that remains to be done."

The farmer's wife did her best to persuade the stranger that it
would be impossible for him to go through so many trials; but he
replied that women were incapable of judging in so weighty a matter;
and after ascertaining correctly the forest entrance, he set off at
full gallop, and was soon lost among the trees.

The farmer's wife heaved a deep sigh, declaring that here was another
soul going before our Lord for judgment; then giving some more crusts
to Peronnik, she bade him go on his way.

He was about to follow her advice, when the farmer came in from the
fields. He had just been turning off the lad who looked after his
cows at the wood-side, and was revolving in his mind how his place
should be supplied.

The sight of the idiot was to him as a ray of light; he thought he
had happened on the very thing he sought, and after putting a few
questions to Peronnik, he asked him bluntly if he would stay at the
farm to look after the cattle. Peronnik would have preferred having
no one but himself to look after, for no one had a greater aptitude
than he for doing nothing; but the taste of the lard, the fresh butter,
the rye-bread, and the millet-flour hung still sweet upon his lips; so
he suffered himself to be tempted, and accepted the farmer's proposal.

The good man forthwith conducted him to the edge of the forest, counted
aloud all the cows, not forgetting the heifers, cut him a hazel-switch
to drive them with, and bade him bring them safely home at set of sun.

Behold Peronnik now established as a keeper of cattle, watching over
them to see they did no mischief, and running from the black to the
red, and from the red to the white, to keep them from straying out
of the appointed boundary.

Now whilst he was thus running from side to side, he heard suddenly the
sound of horse's hoofs, and saw in one of the forest-paths the giant
Rogéar seated on his mare, followed by her three-months' colt. He
carried from his neck the golden basin, and in his hand the diamond
lance, which glittered like flame. Peronnik, terrified, hid himself
behind a bush; the giant passed close by him and went on his way. As
soon as he was gone by, the idiot came out of his hiding-place, and
looked down in the direction he had taken, but without being able to
see which path he had followed.

Well, armed knights came on unceasingly in quest of the castle of
Kerglas, and not one was ever seen to return. The giant, on the
contrary, took his airing every day as usual. The idiot, who had at
length grown bolder, no longer thought of concealing himself when he
passed, but looked after him as long as he was in sight with envious
eyes; for the desire of possessing the golden basin and the diamond
lance grew stronger every day within his heart. But these things,
alas, were more easily desired than obtained.

One day, when Peronnik was all alone in the pasture-land as usual,
he saw a man with a white beard pausing at the entrance of the
forest-path. The idiot took him for some fresh adventurer, and inquired
if he did not seek the road to Kerglas.

"I seek it not, since I already know it," replied the stranger.

"You have been there, and the magician has not killed you?" exclaimed
the idiot.

"Because he has nothing to fear from me," replied the white-bearded
old man. "I am called the sorcerer Bryak, and am Rogéar's elder
brother. When I wish to pay him a visit I come here, and as, in spite
of all my power, I cannot cross the enchanted wood without losing my
way, I call the black colt to carry me."

With these words, he traced three circles with his finger in the
dust, repeated in a low tone such words as demons teach to sorcerers,
and then cried,


   "Colt, wild, unbroken, and with footstep free,--
    Colt, I am here; come quick, I wait for thee."


The little horse speedily made his appearance. Bryak put him on a
halter, shackled his feet, and then mounting on his back, allowed
him to return into the forest.

Peronnik said nothing of this adventure to any one; but he now
understood that the first step towards visiting Kerglas was to secure
the colt that knew the way. Unfortunately he knew neither how to trace
the three circles, nor to pronounce the magic words necessary for the
colt to hear the summons. Some other method, therefore, must be hit
upon for making himself master of it, and, when once it was captured,
of gathering the apple, plucking the laughing flower, escaping the
black man's bowl, and of crossing the valley of delights.

Peronnik thought it all over for a long time, and at last he fancied
himself able to succeed. Those who are strong go forth clad in their
strength to meet danger, and too often perish in it; but the weak
compass their ends sideways. Having no hope of braving the giant,
the idiot resolved to try craft and cunning. As to difficulties,
he suffered them not to scare him: he knew that medlars are hard as
flint-stones when first gathered, and that a little straw and much
patience softens them at length.

So he made all his preparations against the time when the giant usually
appeared in the forest-path. First he made a halter and a horse-shackle
of black hemp; a springe for taking woodcocks, moistening the hairs of
it in holy water; a cloth-bag full of birdlime and lark's feathers;
a rosary, an elder-whistle, and a bit of crust rubbed with rancid
lard. This done, he crumbled the bread given him for breakfast along
the pathway in which Rogéar, his mare, and three months' colt would
shortly pass.

They all three appeared at the usual hour, and crossed the pasture
as on other days; but the colt, which was walking with hanging head,
snuffing the ground, smelt out the crumbs of bread, and stopped to eat
them, so that it was soon left alone out of the giant's sight. Then
Peronnik drew gently near, threw his halter over it, fastened the
shackle on two of its feet, jumped upon its back, and left it free
to follow its own course, certain that the colt, which knew its way,
would carry him to the castle of Kerglas.

And so it came to pass; for the young horse took unhesitatingly one of
the wildest paths, and went on as rapidly as the shackle would permit.

Peronnik trembled like a leaf; for all the witchery of the forest
was at work to scare him. One moment it seemed as if a bottomless pit
yawned suddenly before his steed; the next all the trees appeared on
fire, and he found himself surrounded by flames; often whilst in the
act of crossing a brook, it became as a torrent, and threatened to
carry him away; at other times, whilst following a little footway
beneath a gentle slope, he saw huge rocks on the point of rolling
down and crushing him to pieces.

In vain he assured himself these were but magical delusions, he felt
his very marrow grow cold with dread. At last he resolutely pulled
his hat down over his eyes, and let the colt carry him blindly onwards.

Thus they both came safely to a plain where all enchantment ceased,
and Peronnik pushed up his cap and looked about him.

It was a barren spot, and gloomier than a cemetery. Here and there
might be seen the skeletons of gentlemen who had come in quest of
Kerglas Castle. There they lay, stretched beside their horses, and
the gray wolves still gnawing at their bones.

At length the idiot entered a meadow entirely overshadowed by one
single apple-tree; and this was so heavily laden with fruit, that the
branches hung to the ground. Before this tree the Korigan kept watch,
grasping in his hand the fiery sword which would lay all it touched
in ashes.

At sight of Peronnik, he uttered a cry like that of a wild bird,
and raised his weapon; but, without betraying any emotion, the lad
simply touched his hat politely, and said,

"Don't disturb yourself, my little prince; I am only passing by on
my way to Kerglas, according to an appointment the Lord Rogéar has
made with me."

"With you?" replied the dwarf; "and who, then, may you be?"

"I am our master's new servant," said the idiot; "you know, the one
he is expecting."

"I know nothing of it," replied the dwarf; "and you look to me
uncommonly like a cheat."

"Excuse me," returned Peronnik, "such is by no means my profession;
I am only a catcher and trainer of birds. But, for God's sake, don't
keep me now; for his lordship, the magician, is expecting me this
very moment; and has even lent me his own colt, as you see, that I
may the sooner reach the castle."

The Korigan saw, in fact, that Peronnik rode the magician's young
horse, and began to consider whether he might not really be speaking
truth. Besides, the idiot had so simple an air, that it was not
possible to suspect him of inventing such a story. However, he still
felt mistrust; and asked what need the magician had of a bird-catcher?

"The greatest need, it seems," said Peronnik; "for, according to his
account, all that ripens, whether seed or fruit, in the garden at
Kerglas, is just now eaten up by birds."

"And what can you do to hinder them?" asked the dwarf.

Peronnik showed the little snare which he had manufactured, and
declared that no bird would be able to escape it.

"That is just what I will make sure of," said the Korigan. "My
apple-tree is ravaged just as much by the blackbirds and thrushes. Set
your snare; and if you can catch them, I will let you pass."

To this Peronnik agreed; he fastened his colt to a bush, and going up
to the apple-tree, fixed therein one end of the snare, calling to the
Korigan to hold the other whilst he got the skewers ready. He did as
the idiot requested; and Peronnik hastily drawing the running noose,
the dwarf found himself caught like a bird.

He uttered a cry of rage, and struggled to get free; but the springe,
having been well steeped in holy water, bade defiance to all his
efforts.

The idiot had time enough to run to the tree, pluck an apple from it,
and remount his colt, which continued its onward course.

And so they came out of the plain; and behold, there lay a thicket
before them, formed of the very loveliest plants. There were to be seen
roses of every hue, Spanish brooms, rose-coloured honeysuckles, and,
towering above all, the mysterious laughing flower; but round about
the thicket stalked a lion, with a mane of vipers, rolling his eyes,
and with his teeth grinding like a couple of new mill-stones.

Peronnik stopped, and bowed over and over again; for he knew that in
the presence of the powerful a hat is more serviceable in the hand
than on the head. He wished all sorts of prosperities to the lion and
his family; and requested to know if he was without mistake upon the
road to Kerglas.

"And what are you going to do at Kerglas?" cried the ferocious beast
with a terrible air.

"May it please your worship," replied the idiot timidly, "I am in
the service of a lady who is a great friend of Lord Rogéar, and she
has sent him something as a present to make a lark-pasty of."

"Larks!" repeated the lion, licking his moustache; "it is an age
since I have tasted them. How many have you got?"

"This bagful, your lordship," replied Peronnik, showing the cloth-bag
which he had stuffed with feathers and birdlime.

And in order to verify his words, he began to counterfeit the warbling
of larks.

This song aggravated the lion's appetite.

"Let me see," said he, drawing near; "show me your birds; I should
like to know if they are large enough to be served up at our master's
table."

"I desire nothing so much," replied the idiot; "but if I open the bag,
I am afraid they will fly away."

"Half open it, just to let me peep in," said the greedy monster.

This desire fulfilled Peronnik's highest hopes; he offered the bag to
the lion, who poked in his head to seize the larks, and found himself
smothered in feathers and birdlime. The idiot hastily drew the strings
of the bag tight round his neck, making the sign of the cross over
the knot, to keep it inviolable; then, rushing to the laughing flower,
he gathered it, and set off as fast as the colt could go.

But it was not long before he came to the dragons' lake, which he
must needs cross by swimming; and scarcely had he plunged in, when
they came towards him from every side to devour him.

This time Peronnik troubled not himself to pull off his hat, but
he began to throw out to them the beads of his rosary, as one would
scatter black wheat to ducks; and at every bead swallowed one of the
dragons turned over on its back and expired; so that he at length
reached the opposite shore unharmed.

The valley guarded by the black man had now to be crossed. Peronnik
soon perceived him, chained by one foot to the rock, and holding
in his hand an iron bowl, which ever returned, of its own accord,
so soon as it had struck the appointed mark. He had six eyes, ranged
round his head, which generally took turns in keeping watch; but at
this moment it so chanced that they were every one open. Peronnik,
knowing that if seen he should be struck by the iron bowl before he
had the opportunity of speaking a word, resolved to creep along the
brushwood. And by this means, hiding himself carefully behind the
bushes, he soon found himself within a few steps of the black man,
who had just sat down, and closed two of his eyes in repose. Peronnik,
guessing that he was sleepy, began to chant in a drowsy voice the
beginning of the High Mass. The black man at first, taken by surprise,
started, and raised his head; but, as the murmur took effect upon him,
a third eye closed. Peronnik then went on to intone the Kyrie eleison,
in the tone of one possessed by the sleepy demon. [64] The black man
closed a fourth eye, and half the fifth. Peronnik then began Vespers;
but before he had reached the Magnificat, the black man slept soundly.

Then the youth, taking the colt by the bridle, led it softly over
mossy places; and so, passing close by the slumbering guardian,
he came into the valley of delights.

This was the most-to-be-dreaded place of all; for it was no
longer a question of avoiding positive danger, but of fleeing from
temptation. Peronnik called all the saints of Brittany to his aid.

The valley through which he was now passing bore every appearance of
a garden richly filled with fruits, with flowers, and with fountains;
but the fountains were of wines and delicious drinks, the flowers
sang with voices as sweet as those of cherubim in Paradise, and
the fruits came of their own accord and offered themselves to the
hand. Then at every turning of the path Peronnik beheld huge tables,
spread as for a king, could scent the tempting odour of pastry drawn
fresh from the oven, and see the valets apparently expecting him;
whilst further off were beautiful maidens coming to dance upon the
turf, who called him by his name to come and lead the ball.

In vain the idiot made the sign of the cross, insensibly he slackened
the pace of his colt, involuntarily he raised his face to snuff up
the delicious odour of the smoking dishes, and to gaze more fixedly
upon the lovely maidens; he would possibly have stopped altogether,
and there would have been an end of him, if the recollection of the
golden basin and the diamond lance had not all at once crossed his
mind. Then he instantly began to blow his elder-whistle, that he
might hear no more those soft appeals; to eat his bread well rubbed
with rancid dripping, to deaden the odour of the dainty meats; and
to stare fixedly on his horse's ears, that the lovely dancers might
no more attract his eyes.

And so he came to the end of the garden quite safely, and caught sight
at last of Kerglas Castle. But the river of which he had been told
still lay between it and him, and he knew that this river could only
be forded in one place. Happily the colt was familiar with this ford,
and prepared to enter at the right spot.

Then Peronnik looked around him in quest of the lady who was to be
his guide to the castle; and soon perceived her seated on a rock,
clad in black satin, and her countenance as yellow as a Moor's.

The idiot pulled off his hat, and asked if it was her pleasure to
cross the river.

"I expected thee for that very purpose," replied the lady; "draw near,
that I may seat myself behind thee."

Peronnik approached, took her on his horse's crupper, and began to
cross the ford. He had almost reached the middle of it, when the lady
said to him,

"Knowest thou who I am, poor innocent?"

"I beg your pardon," replied Peronnik, "but from your dress I clearly
see that you are a noble and powerful lady."

"As to noble, I ought to be," replied the lady, "for I can trace
back my origin to the first sin; and powerful I certainly am, for
all nations give way before me."

"Then what is your name, may it please you, madam?" asked Peronnik.

"I am called the Plague," replied the yellow woman.

The idiot made a spring as if he would have thrown himself from his
horse into the water; but the Plague said to him,

"Rest easy, poor innocent, thou hast nothing to fear from me; on the
contrary, I can be of service to thee."

"Is it possible that you will be so benevolent, Madam Plague?" said
Peronnik, taking his hat off, this time for good; "by the by, I now
remember that it is you who are to teach me how to rid myself of the
magician Rogéar."

"The magician must die," said the yellow lady.

"I should like nothing better," replied Peronnik; "but he is immortal."

"Listen, and try to understand," said the Plague. "The apple-tree
guarded by the Korigan is a slip from the tree of good and evil, set
in the earthly Paradise by God Himself. Its fruit, like that which was
eaten by Adam and Eve, renders immortals susceptible of death. Try,
then, to induce the magician to taste the apple, and from that moment
he need only be touched by me to sink in death."

"I will try," said Peronnik; "but even if I succeed, how can I obtain
the golden basin and the diamond lance, since they lie hidden in a
gloomy cave, which cannot be opened by any key yet forged?"

"The laughing flower will open every door," replied the Plague,
"and can illuminate the darkest night."

As she spoke these words they reached the further bank of the river,
and the idiot went onwards to the castle.

Now there was before the entrance-hall a huge canopy, like that which
is carried over his lordship the Bishop of Vannes at the processions
of the Fête Dieu. Beneath this sat the giant, sheltered from the heat
of the sun, his legs crossed, like a proprietor who has gathered in
his harvest, and smoking a tobacco-pipe of virgin gold. On perceiving
the colt, on which sat Peronnik and the lady clad in black satin,
he lifted up his head, and cried in a voice which roared like thunder,

"Why this idiot is mounted on my three-months' colt!"

"The very same, O greatest of all magicians," replied Peronnik.

"And how did you get possession of him?" asked Rogéar.

"I repeated what your brother Bryak taught me," replied the idiot. "On
reaching the forest border I said,


   'Colt, wild, unbroken, and with footstep free,--
    Colt, I am here; come quick, I wait for thee.'


and the little horse came at once."

"Then you know my brother?" said the giant.

"As one knows his master," replied the youth.

"And what has he sent you here for?"

"To bring you a present of two curiosities he has just received from
the country of the Moors,--this apple of delight, and the female
slave whom you see there. If you eat the first, you will always have a
heart as much at rest as that of a poor man who has found a purse of
a hundred crowns in his wooden shoe; and if you take the second into
your service, you will have nothing left you to desire in the world."

"Give me then the apple, and make the Moorish woman dismount,"
replied Rogéar.

The idiot obeyed; but the instant the giant had set his teeth into
the fruit, the yellow lady laid her hand upon him, and he fell to
the ground like a bullock in the slaughter-house.

Then Peronnik entered the palace, holding the laughing flower in his
hand. He traversed more than fifty halls, one after the other, and
came at length before the cavern with the silver door. This opened of
its own accord before the flower, which also gave the idiot sufficient
light to find the golden basin and the diamond lance.

But scarcely had he seized them when the earth shook under his feet;
a terrible clap of thunder was heard; the palace disappeared; and
Peronnik found himself once more in the midst of the forest, holding
his two talismans, with which he set forward instantly to the court
of the King of Brittany.

He only delayed long enough at Vannes to buy the richest costume
he could find there, and the finest horse that was for sale in the
diocese of White-Wheat.

Now when he came to Nantes, this town was besieged by the Franks, who
had so mercilessly ravaged the surrounding country, that there were
scarcely more trees left than would serve a single goat for forage;
and more than that, famine was in the city; and those soldiers died
of hunger whose wounds had spared their lives. And on the very day
of Peronnik's arrival, a trumpeter proclaimed aloud in every street
that the King of Brittany would adopt that man as his heir who could
deliver the city, and drive the enemy out of the country.

Hearing this promise, Peronnik said to the trumpeter,

"Proclaim no more, but lead me to the king; for I am able to do all
he asks."

"Thou!" said the herald, seeing him so young and small; "go on thy
way, fine goldfinch; [65] the king has now no time for taking little
birds from cottage-roofs." [66]

By way of reply, Peronnik touched the soldier with his lance; and
that very instant he fell dead, to the infinite terror of the crowd
who looked on, and would have fled away; but the idiot cried,

"You have just seen what I can do against my enemies; know now what
is in my power for my friends."

And having touched with his golden basin the dead man's lips, he rose
up instantly, restored to life.

The king being informed of this wonder, gave Peronnik command of all
the soldiers he had left; and as with his diamond lance the idiot
killed thousands of the Franks, and with his golden basin restored
to life the Bretons who were slain, a very few days sufficed him
for putting an end to the enemy's army, and taking possession of all
their camp contained.

He then proposed to conquer all the neighbouring countries, such as
Anjou, Poitou, and Normandy, which cost him but very little trouble;
and finally, when all were in obedience to the king, he declared his
intention of setting out to deliver the Holy Land, and embarked from
Nantes in a magnificent fleet, with the first nobility of the land.

On reaching Palestine, he performed great deeds of valour, compelled
many Saracens to be baptised, and married a fair maiden, by whom
he had many sons and daughters, to each of whom he gave wealth and
lands. Some even say that, thanks to the golden basin, he and his
sons are living still, and reign in this land; but others maintain
that Rogéar's brother, the magician Bryak, has succeeded in regaining
possession of the two talismans, and that those who wish for them
have only--to seek them out.



NOTE ON THE TALE OF "PERONNIK THE IDIOT."

It seems almost impossible not to recognise in the story of Peronnik
the Idiot traces of that tradition which has given birth to one of
the epic romances of the Round Table. Disfigured and overlaid with
modern details as is the Breton version, the primitive idea of the
Quest of the Holy Graal may still be found there pure and entire.

Some explanation must be given of this. So early as the sixth century,
the Gallic bards speak of a magic vase which bestows a knowledge of
the future, and universal science, on its owner; in later times a
popular fable tells of a golden vase possessed by Bran the Blessed,
which healed all wounds, and even restored the dead to life. Other
tales are told of a basin in which every desired delicacy instantly
appeared. In time all these fictions become fused, and the several
properties of these different vases are found united in one; the
possession of which is of course naturally sought after by all great
adventurers.

There is still extant a Gallic poem, composed in the beginning of the
twelfth century, of which the whole burden is this quest. The hero,
named Perédur, goes to war with giants, lions, serpents, sea-monsters,
sorcerers, and finally becomes conqueror of the basin and the lance,
which is here added to the primitive tradition.

Now there can be no doubt that this Gallic legend, which found its
way throughout Europe, as is proved by the attempts at imitation
which have been made in every language, must have been known in
Brittany above all, united as it is to Gaul by a common origin and
language. It must have become popular in the very form it wore when
taught by the bards to the Armoricans.

But besides the successive alterations which are the speedy result
of oral transmission, French imitations by degrees incorporated
themselves with all the primitive versions. M. de la Villemarqué
has in fact observed, in his learned work on the Popular Tales of
the Ancient Bretons, that when the Gallic legends were developed by
the French poets, they appeared so beautified in their new costume,
that the Gauls themselves abandoned the originals in favour of the
imitations. Now that which is true of them is equally so of the
Armoricans; and it seems to us beyond a doubt that the tradition of
Perédur, which they had originally received, must have been seriously
modified by the later poem of Christian of Troyes.

In order to elucidate our idea, we will give a hasty analysis of this
poem, which is little known, being only extant in manuscript. [67]

Perceval, the last remaining son of a poor widow, whom the miseries
of war had left destitute, is simple, ignorant, and boorish. His
mother carefully conceals from his sight every thing that might
turn his attention to the idea of war; but one day the lad meets
King Arthur's knights, learns the secret so long hidden from him,
and, his mind filled with nothing now but tournaments and battles,
abandons his maternal roof and sets off for Arthur's court. On the
way he sees a pavilion, which, taking in his simplicity for a church,
he enters. There he eats two roebuck pasties, and drinks a large
flagon of wine; after which he goes once more upon his way, and soon
arrives at Cardeuil, ill-clad, ill-armed, and ill-mounted. He finds
Arthur buried in profound meditation, a treacherous knight having just
carried off his golden cup, defying any warrior to take it from him
again. Perceval accepts the challenge, pursues the thief, kills him,
recovers the cup, and seizes on the slain knight's armour. He is at
length admitted into the order of chivalry.

But the recollection of his mother haunts him every where. What is he
in quest of? He himself knows not; he wanders at random and without
a purpose wherever his wild courser carries him. Thus one day he
reaches a castle, and enters. A sick old man reposes there upon a bed;
a servant appears with a lance from which flows one drop of blood, and
then a damsel bearing a graal, or basin, of pure gold. Perceval longs
to know the meaning of what he sees, but dares not ask. The following
day, on leaving the castle, he is informed that the sick old man is
called the fisher-king, and that he has been wounded in the thigh;
Perceval is at the same time reproached for not having questioned him.

He continues onwards, meeting by chance Arthur, whom he follows to
court; but the day after his arrival a lady clad in black appears to
him, and warmly blames him for being the cause of the fisher-king's
sufferings.

"His wound," said she, "has become incurable, because thou didst not
question him."

The knight, wishing to repair his fault, seeks in vain to find once
more the king's palace; he is repulsed as by an invisible hand,
until the moment when he resolves to go and find a saintly hermit,
to whom he makes his confession. The priest shows him that all his
errors are owing to his ingratitude towards his mother, and that
sin held his tongue in bondage when he ought to have inquired the
meaning of the graal; he imposes a penance on him, gives him advice,
reveals to him a mysterious prayer containing certain terrible words,
which he forbids him from making known; and then Perceval, absolved
from his sins, fasts, adores the Cross, hears Mass, receives Holy
Communion, and returns to a new life.

He now sets forth in quest of the graal, and meets with a thousand
obstacles. A woman, whom he has loved, White-Flower, appears, and
endeavours to detain him; but he escapes from her. He fastens his
horse to the golden ring of a pillar rising on a mountain called the
Mount of Misery, arrives at length at the castle for which he sought,
and this time fails not to inquire into the history of the lance
and the graal. He is told that the lance is that with which Longus
pierced the side of Christ, and that the graal is the basin in which
Joseph of Arimathea received His divine blood. This has come down
by inheritance to the fisher-king, who is descended from Joseph, and
is Perceval's uncle. It procures all good things, both spiritual and
temporal, heals all wounds, and even restores life to the dead, besides
becoming filled with the most delicious dainties at its owner's desire.

After the lance and the graal, they bring out a broken sword;
the fisher-king presents it to his nephew, begging him to reunite
the fragments; in which he succeeds. The king then tells him that,
according to prophecies, the bravest and most pious knight in the
whole world was to perform this act; that he himself had attempted
to weld the pieces together, but had been chastised for his rashness
by receiving a wound in the thigh. "I shall be healed," he added, "on
the same day that sees the knight Pertiniax perish,--that treacherous
knight who broke this wonderful sword in slaying my brother."

Perceval kills Pertiniax, thanks to the aid of the holy graal, cuts
off his head, and brings it to the fisher-king, who gets well, and
abdicates in favour of his nephew.



The points of accordance between this poem and the Breton story are
not very difficult to trace. In the two recitals we hear of the
conquest of a basin and a lance, the possession of which ensures
corresponding advantages; the heroes both of the French and Armorican
version are subjected to dangers and temptations, and success assures
to them alike--a crown. Some points of resemblance may even perhaps
be discovered between the idiot Peronnik, going ever onwards he knows
not whither, and extracting from the farmer's wife his rye-bread,
his fresh-churned butter, and his Sunday dripping; and this Perceval,
simple, ignorant, boorish, who begins by eating two roebuck pasties,
and drinking a great flagon of wine.

Certainly the different details, and the trials imposed on Peronnik,
are not in general much like the probation to which Perceval was
subjected; but, on the other hand, they closely resemble those to which
Perédur, the hero of the Gallic tradition, was exposed. It would seem,
therefore, that this Armorican story has drunk successively from the
two fountains of French and Breton legendary lore. Born of the Gallic
tradition, modified by the French version, and finally accommodated
to the popular genius of our province, it has become such as we have
it at this day.

Peronnik the idiot seems, moreover, to us worthy of being studied
by those who seek, above all else in tradition, for traces of the
popular genius. Idiotism, amongst all tribes of Celtic race, was never
looked on as a degradation, but rather as a peculiar condition wherein
individuals could attain to certain perceptions unknown to the vulgar;
and the Celts were led to imagine that they had an acquaintance with
the invisible world not permitted to other men. Thus the words of the
idiot were looked on as prophetic; a hidden meaning was sought for in
his acts; he was, in fact, considered, in the energetic language of an
old poet, as having his feet in this world, and his eyes in the other.

Brittany has preserved in part this ancient reverence for persons of
weak mind. It is by no means unusual in the farms of Léon to see some
of these unfortunates, clad, whatever may be their age, in a long dress
with bone buttons, and holding a white wand in their hands. They are
tenderly cared for, and only spoken of under the endearing title of
dear innocents, unless in their absence, when they are called diskyant,
that is to say, without knowledge. They stay at home with the women
and little children; they are never called upon to perform any labour;
and when they die, they are wept over by their relations.

I remember meeting with one of these idiots one day, in the
neighbourhood of Morlaix; he was seated before a farm-house door,
and his sister, a young girl, was feeding him. Her caressing kindness
struck me.

"Then you are very fond of this poor innocent?" I asked, in Breton.

"It is God who gave him to us," she replied.

Words full of meaning, which hold the key to all this pious tenderness
for creatures useless in themselves, but precious for His sake by
whom they were confided to our care.



NOTES


[1] Limestra, mantle of some special material, which is highly valued
by the Bretons.

[2] Aiguilles ailées. The fly commonly called demoiselle in French,
in Brittany is nadoz-aër; literally, "needle of the air."

[3] A proverbial expression in Brittany to designate folly and
impertinence.

[4] The song of the Korigans runs thus: Di-lun, di-meurs,
di-merc'her. The conclusion of this tale will explain the reason of
their keeping only to these first three days.

[5] Cry of encouragement amongst the Bretons. In the same sense they
use also the word hardi! but the Celtic origin of this last word
seems rather doubtful.

[6] Mettre en foire. Breton expression, signifying a sale at the
house of a debtor.

[7] Breton expression, derived from an old custom of parading all
insolvents about the parish with a girdle of straw.

[8] Equivalent to the French proverb, "One must not sell the bear-skin
till the bear is killed."

[9] In many farms there is a small threshing-floor reserved especially
for black wheat.

[10] This is the exact distance at which the Bretons define Hell
to lie.

[11] Good or bad, these etymologies of Ahèz and Par-is are accepted
by the Bretons. The last word is even treasured in a proverb,


   "Since the town of Is was drowned,
    The like of Paris is not found."


[12] See the Korigans of Plauden, p. 31.

[13] This legend still finds credence. The spot is shown, not far
from Carhaix, whence Grallon's daughter caused her lovers' bodies to
be thrown; and some antiquaries are also of opinion that Dahut often
visited this town, which has received from her its name of Ker-Ahèz
(town of Ahèz); at any rate, the old paved road which leads from the
Bay of Douarnénèz to Carhaix proves beyond a doubt that there was
frequent intercourse between Keris and this city.

[14] All that follows is more properly ascribed to St. Corentin's
disciple Gwenolé.

[15] The peasantry still show the marks.

[16] There appears to exist incontestable evidence of a city named
Is lying buried beneath the Bay of Douarnénèz; and the relics which
have been discovered from time to time prove beyond all doubt that
art had been brought to very high perfection in those early times. It
was supposed to date about the fourth century.

[17] The pigs in Brittany are called, no one knows why, mab-rohan,
sons of Rohan.

[18] Easter Sunday. So called because blessed laurel is distributed
at church upon this day.

[19] Gobelinn. None other than the loup-garou, or were-wolf.

[20] 'Rozennik' is the diminutive of Rosenn; so 'Guilcherik,'
"Korils of Plauden," p. 43.

[21] Literally 'will-o'-the-wisp.'

[22] A number of petticoats is considered a mark of great elegance
amongst the Breton peasant-girls around Morlaix.

[23] A proverbial expression, denoting some suspicion that people have
been acquiring wealth somewhat unfairly. There is an old tradition
among the country people, that if you take a black hen to some
cross-road, and there use certain incantations, you can summon the
devil, who will pay you handsomely for your hen.

[24] Heubeul-Pontréau, a Breton form of reproach to young rustics of
ill address.

[25] All European nations have admitted two races of dwarfs, the one
mischievous and impious, the other benevolent to man. The first is
represented in Brittany by the Korigans, the second by the Teuz. The
Teuz is just the same as the elf or fairy of the Scotch and Irish,
aiding the labourers in their toil, and resembles the mountain spirit
of Germany.

[26] In Brittany they reckon by reals; the Breton real is not worth
one franc eight centimes, as in Spain, but only twenty-five centimes.

[27] Miz-du, Breton name of November.

[28] A name given to All Saints.

[29] L'Ankou, literally, "the agony;" a name generally given to the
spectre of death.

[30] M. de Ker-Gwen. A joke on the paleness of death; gwen signifying
white.

[31] The allusion is to a proverbial Breton verse, in which the
inhabitants of the four dioceses are facetiously characterised as
thievish, false, stupid, and brutal.

[32] Douez signifies in Breton the moat of a fortified town; but as
these moats were formerly full of water, and served the purposes of
the washerwomen, the name douez has gradually been appropriated to
the washing-places.

[33] Spern-gwenn ("l'épine blanche"), to this day a family name
in Brittany.

[34] All the Breton shepherds make these crosses with twigs of furze,
on the thorns of which they stick daisies and broom-blossoms; whole
rows of these flowery crosses may often be seen along the ditches.

[35] Shend, 'subdue.'

[36] This form of exorcism is supposed to originate in a story related
of St. Hervé. A wolf having devoured an ass belonging to his uncle,
the saint compelled the savage beast to dwell peaceably thenceforward
in the same shed with the sheep, and to perform all the duties of the
defunct ass. A similar story is told of St. Malo, another Breton saint.

[37] The legend of the gold-herb (which must be gathered, according
to common credence, barefooted, en chemise, without the aid of any
iron tool, and whilst one is in a state of grace) comes evidently
from the Druids. It is the selage of the ancients, spoken of by Pliny
(lib. xiv.), and is said by the Bretons to glitter like gold before
the eyes of those who at the moment may fulfil the conditions for
perceiving it, and who, by touching it with the foot, are instantly
enabled to understand the language of all animals, and to converse
with them.

[38] The tradition of the redbreast, who broke a thorn from the crown
of our Lord, is current throughout Brittany.

[39] Mor Vyoc'h signifies Sea-cow.

[40] The Breton peasants believe that the fountain of Languengar has
the property of promoting the flow of milk in those nurses who drink
of it.

[41] In Brittany, as in England, it takes nine tailors to make a man.

[42] This form of taking possession is extremely ancient. In all the
legislative systems of "the ancient world" transfer of landed property
was effected by symbolical tradition; that is, by the handing over
to the new owner of some visible and palpable portion or symbol of
the land itself. At Rome, the sale of a field takes place standing
on a turf cut from the field itself, which is handed over to the
purchaser as a symbol of his new possession. In an old deed of 828
occurs the following: "I make over the underwritten goods and lands to
the Church of St. Mary. And I make legal cession by straw and knife,
glove and turf, and branch of tree; and so I put myself out, expel,
and make myself absent."--D. Calmet, Histoire de Lorraine, Preuves,
p. 524. And as Brittany is the very chosen home of old customs, it
has happened that even quite lately, at a farm near Léon, all these
forms of taking possession were gone through, not as having any legal
efficacy, but in compliance with ancient usage.

[43] The vervain.

[44] Marc'h-Mor, literally, Sea-horse.

[45] The Breton name for Vannes, Gwen-ed, signifies literally White
Wheat.

[46] This form of declaring war, preserved by tradition, is curious,
and, as far as we know, peculiar to Brittany. Amongst the ancient
Romans they cast upon the enemy's territory a javelin scorched
at the fire; in the middle ages the iron gauntlet was thrown, or
the finger was gnawed; the savages of North America sent, like the
Scythians, bundles of arrows, the number of which indicated that of
the combatants; but burning straw flung upon the enemy's land is a
peculiar symbol, which we have never noticed elsewhere.

[47] The Breton name of St. Gildas.

[48] This custom still exists in Brittany.

[49] The name Groac'h, or Grac'h, means literally old woman; and
was given to the Druidesses, who had established themselves in an
island off the south-west coast of Brittany, called thence the isle
of Groac'h; by corruption Groais, or Groix. But the word gradually
lost its original meaning of old woman, and came to signify a woman
endowed with power over the elements, and dwelling amongst the
waves, as did the island Druidesses; in fact, a sort of water-fay,
but of a malevolent nature, like all the Breton fairies. Such of
our readers as are not acquainted with La Motte Fouqué's beautiful
tale of Undine, may require to be reminded that the sprites, sylphs,
gnomes, and fairies of the popular mythologies are not necessarily,
perhaps not even generally, exempt from mortality.

[50] A cluster of islets off the southern coast of Brittany, near the
headland of Penmarc'h. The name signifies literally summer-land. One
of them is called the isle of Lok, or Lock, and contains a fish-pool,
from which it seems to derive its name.

[51] A dwarfish sprite.

[52] Young Breton girls thus address old women from a motive of
respect.

[53] Chanteuse de vérité (Dion ganérez), literally qui chante droit,
a name given in Brittany to fairies who foretell the future.

[54] These are different kinds of cabbages cultivated in Brittany.

[55] A name given by the Bretons to the tricksy sprite Maistr Yan.

[56] The ribbon covered with lace worn by Breton peasant-girls in
their hair.

[57] Negotiators for a wedding, who improvise disputations in verse,
like Virgil's shepherds.

[58] See tale at p. 31.

[59] Dibenn-eost, a name given to autumn in Brittany.

[60] This word idiot must not lead to misconception; the idiot of
popular tales is the personification of cunning weakness triumphing
over strength. Idiotism, in the traditions of Christian nations,
plays the same part as physical ugliness in those of the ancients. The
latter take the hunchback Æsop to accomplish extraordinary actions;
the former Peronnik, or some other lad of weak mind, in order that
the contrast between the hero and the action may be more striking,
and the result more unexpected.

We refer the reader to the note which follows this story for the more
particular examination which it seems to deserve.

[61] On the sea-coast they scrape away the burnt part left in the
porridge-kettles with a mussel-shell; in the interior they use for
the same purpose a sharp stone, commonly a gun-flint.

[62] The milk of the black cow is considered in Brittany to be at
once the daintiest and the most wholesome.

[63] The Bretons attribute to the butter of the White Week and of
the Rogation weeks a special delicacy, and even medicinal properties,
on account of the excellence of the pastures at this season.

[64] The Bretons believe in a special demon for sending one to sleep
in church, and call him ar c'houskezik, from the verb kouska, which
signifies to sleep.

[65] Koanta pabaour, a common form of mockery in Brittany.

[66] A proverbial expression, meaning that one has no time to lose.

[67] The Searcher for the Basin,--Myvyrian, t. i. p. 8. The poem
of Perceval, or the Quest for the Holy Graal, is to be found in the
Royal Library of Paris, Mss. No. 7523, et supp. franc. 450. We give
M. de la Villemarqué's analysis, contenting ourselves with abridging
his labours.





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