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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

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

Title: William Tell Told Again
Author: Wodehouse, P. G. (Pelham Grenville), 1881-1975
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "William Tell Told Again" ***

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

Oxford College Library of Emory University

[Transcriber's note: _William Tell Told Again_ is two children's books
in one. One is a picture book--16 full-color illustrations by Philip
Dadd described in verse by John W. Houghton. The other is a humorous
novel by P. G. Wodehouse, based on the picture book. The novel has a
lengthier storyline, a more intricate plot, and more characterization.
The bound volume intermingled the picture book with the novel,
illustrations and poems appearing at regular intervals. Most pictures
and verses were distant from the page of the novel that they reflected.

For this text version, placeholders for the illustrations (with plate
numbers) have been inserted following the paragraph in the novel that
describes the events being illustrated. The verse descriptions of the
illustrations, labelled with plate numbers, have been moved to the end
of the novel, so as not to disrupt the story. Each verse also has an
illustration placeholder that includes the phrase from the novel shown
as a description on the List of Illustrations.]

[Illustration: Frontispiece]










[Plate III]













     The Swiss, against their Austrian foes,
       Had ne'er a soul to lead 'em,
     Till Tell, as you've heard tell, arose
       And guided them to freedom.
     Tell's tale we tell again--an act
       For which pray no one scold us--
     This tale of Tell we tell, in fact,
       As this Tell tale was told us.



Once upon a time, more years ago than anybody can remember, before the
first hotel had been built or the first Englishman had taken a
photograph of Mont Blanc and brought it home to be pasted in an album
and shown after tea to his envious friends, Switzerland belonged to the
Emperor of Austria, to do what he liked with.

One of the first things the Emperor did was to send his friend Hermann
Gessler to govern the country. Gessler was not a nice man, and it soon
became plain that he would never make himself really popular with the
Swiss. The point on which they disagreed in particular was the question
of taxes. The Swiss, who were a simple and thrifty people, objected to
paying taxes of any sort. They said they wanted to spend their money on
all kinds of other things. Gessler, on the other hand, wished to put a
tax on everything, and, being Governor, he did it. He made everyone who
owned a flock of sheep pay a certain sum of money to him; and if the
farmer sold his sheep and bought cows, he had to pay rather more money
to Gessler for the cows than he had paid for the sheep. Gessler also
taxed bread, and biscuits, and jam, and buns, and lemonade, and, in
fact, everything he could think of, till the people of Switzerland
determined to complain. They appointed Walter Fürst, who had red hair
and looked fierce; Werner Stauffacher, who had gray hair and was always
wondering how he ought to pronounce his name; and Arnold of Melchthal,
who had light-yellow hair and was supposed to know a great deal about
the law, to make the complaint. They called on the Governor one lovely
morning in April, and were shown into the Hall of Audience.

"Well," said Gessler, "and what's the matter now?"

The other two pushed Walter Fürst forward because he looked fierce, and
they thought he might frighten the Governor.

Walter Fürst coughed.

"Well?" asked Gessler.

"Er--ahem!" said Walter Fürst.

"That's the way," whispered Werner; "_give_ it him!"

said Walter Fürst again; "the fact is, your Governorship--"

"It's a small point," interrupted Gessler, "but I'm generally called
'your Excellency.' Yes?"

"The fact is, your Excellency, it seems to the people of Switzerland--"

"--Whom I represent," whispered Arnold of Melchthal.

"--Whom I represent, that things want changing."

"What things?" inquired Gessler.

"The taxes, your excellent Governorship."

"Change the taxes? Why, don't the people of Switzerland think there are
enough taxes?"

Arnold of Melchthal broke in hastily.

"They think there are many too many," he said. "What with the tax on
sheep, and the tax on cows, and the tax on bread, and the tax on tea,
and the tax--"

"I know, _I_ know," Gessler interrupted; "I know all the taxes.
Come to the point. What about 'em?"

"Well, your Excellency, there are too many of them."

"Too many!"

"Yes. And we are not going to put up with it any longer!" shouted
Arnold of Melchthal.

Gessler leaned forward in his throne.

"Might I ask you to repeat that remark?" he said.

"We are not going to put up with it any longer!"

Gessler sat back again with an ugly smile.

"Oh," he said--"oh, indeed! You aren't, aren't you! Desire the Lord
High Executioner to step this way," he added to a soldier who stood
beside him.

The Lord High Executioner entered the presence. He was a kind-looking
old gentleman with white hair, and he wore a beautiful black robe,
tastefully decorated with death's-heads.

"Your Excellency sent for me?" he said.

"Just so," replied Gessler. "This gentleman here"--he pointed to Arnold
of Melchthal--"says he does not like taxes, and that he isn't going to
put up with them any longer."

"Tut-tut!" murmured the executioner.

"See what you can do for him."

"Certainly, your Excellency. Robert," he cried, "is the oil on the

"Just this minute boiled over," replied a voice from the other side of
the door.

"Then bring it in, and mind you don't spill any."

Enter Robert, in a suit of armour and a black mask, carrying a large
caldron, from which the steam rose in great clouds.

"Now, sir, if you please," said the executioner politely to Arnold of

Arnold looked at the caldron.

"Why, it's hot," he said.

"Warmish," admitted the executioner.

"It's against the law to threaten a man with hot oil."

[Illustration: PLATE I]

"You may bring an action against me," said the executioner. "Now, sir,
if _you_ please. We are wasting time. The forefinger of your left
hand, if I may trouble you. Thank you. I am obliged."

He took Arnold's left hand, and dipped the tip of the first finger into
the oil.

"Ow!" cried Arnold, jumping.

"Don't let him see he's hurting you," whispered Werner Stauffacher.
"Pretend you don't notice it."

Gessler leaned forward again.

"Have your views on taxes changed at all?" he asked. "Do you see my
point of view more clearly now?"

Arnold admitted that he thought that, after all, there might be
something to be said for it.

"That's right," said the Governor. "And the tax on sheep? You don't
object to that?"


"And the tax on cows?"

"I like it."

"And those on bread, and buns, and lemonade?"

"I enjoy them."

"Excellent. In fact, you're quite contented?"


"And you think the rest of the people are?"

"Oh, quite, quite!"

"And do you think the same?" he asked of Walter and Werner.

"Oh _yes_, your Excellency!" they cried.

"Then _that's_ all right," said Gessler. "I was sure you would be
sensible about it. Now, if you will kindly place in the tambourine
which the gentleman on my left is presenting to you a mere trifle to
compensate us for our trouble in giving you an audience, and if you"
(to Arnold of Melchthal) "will contribute an additional trifle for use
of the Imperial boiling oil, I think we shall all be satisfied. You've
done it? _That's_ right. Good-bye, and mind the step as you go

And, as he finished this speech, the three spokesmen of the people of
Switzerland were shown out of the Hall of Audience.


They were met in the street outside by a large body of their
fellow-citizens, who had accompanied them to the Palace, and who had
been spending the time since their departure in listening by turns at
the keyhole of the front-door. But as the Hall of Audience was at the
other side of the Palace, and cut off from the front-door by two other
doors, a flight of stairs, and a long passage, they had not heard very
much of what had gone on inside, and they surrounded the three spokesmen
as they came out, and questioned them eagerly.

"Has he taken off the tax on jam?" asked Ulric the smith.

"What is he going to do about the tax on mixed biscuits?" shouted Klaus
von der Flue, who was a chimney-sweep of the town and loved mixed

"Never mind about tea and mixed biscuits!" cried his neighbour, Meier
of Sarnen. "What I want to know is whether we shall have to pay for
keeping sheep any more."

"What _did_ the Governor say?" asked Jost Weiler, a practical man,
who liked to go straight to the point.

The three spokesmen looked at one another a little doubtfully.

"We-e-ll," said Werner Stauffacher at last, "as a matter of fact, he
didn't actually _say_ very much. It was more what he _did_,
if you understand me, than what he said."

"I should describe His Excellency the Governor," said Walter Fürst, "as
a man who has got a way with him--a man who has got all sorts of
arguments at his finger-tips."

At the mention of finger-tips, Arnold of Melchthal uttered a sharp

"In short," continued Walter, "after a few minutes' very interesting
conversation he made us see that it really wouldn't do, and that we
must go on paying the taxes as before."

There was a dead silence for several minutes, while everybody looked at
everybody else in dismay.

The silence was broken by Arnold of Sewa. Arnold of Sewa had been
disappointed at not being chosen as one of the three spokesmen, and he
thought that if he had been so chosen all this trouble would not have

"The fact is," he said bitterly, "that you three have failed to do what
you were sent to do. I mention no names--far from it--but I don't mind
saying that there are some people in this town who would have given a
better account of themselves. What you want in little matters of this
sort is, if I may say so, tact. Tact; that's what you want. Of course,
if you _will_ go rushing into the Governor's presence--"

"But we didn't rush," said Walter Fürst.

"--Shouting out that you want the taxes abolished--"

"But we didn't shout," said Walter Fürst.

"I really cannot speak if I am to be constantly interrupted," said
Arnold of Sewa severely. "What I say is, that you ought to employ tact.
Tact; that's what you want. If I had been chosen to represent the Swiss
people in this affair--I am not saying I ought to have been, mind you;
I merely say _if_ I had been--I should have acted rather after the
following fashion: Walking firmly, but not defiantly, into the tyrant's
presence, I should have broken the ice with some pleasant remark about
the weather. The conversation once started, the rest would have been
easy. I should have said that I hoped His Excellency had enjoyed a good
dinner. Once on the subject of food, and it would have been the
simplest of tasks to show him how unnecessary taxes on food were, and
the whole affair would have been pleasantly settled while you waited. I
do not imply that the Swiss people would have done better to have
chosen me as their representative. I merely say that that is how I
should have acted had they done so."

And Arnold of Sewa twirled his moustache and looked offended. His
friends instantly suggested that he should be allowed to try where the
other three had failed, and the rest of the crowd, beginning to hope
once more, took up the cry. The result was that the visitors' bell of
the Palace was rung for the second time. Arnold of Sewa went in, and
the door was banged behind him.

Five minutes later he came out, sucking the first finger of his left

"No," he said; "it can't be done. The tyrant has convinced me."

"I knew he would," said Arnold of Melchthal.

"Then I think you might have warned me," snapped Arnold of Sewa,
dancing with the pain of his burnt finger.

"Was it hot?"



"Then he really won't let us off the taxes?" asked the crowd in
disappointed voices.


"Then the long and short of it is," said Walter Fürst, drawing a deep
breath, "that we must rebel!"

"Rebel?" cried everybody.

"Rebel!" repeated Walter firmly.

"We will!" cried everybody.

"Down with the tyrant!" shouted Walter Fürst.

"Down with the taxes!" shrieked the crowd.

A scene of great enthusiasm followed. The last words were spoken by
Werner Stauffacher.

"We want a leader," he said.

"I don't wish to thrust myself forward," began Arnold of Sewa, "but I
must say, if it comes to leading--"

"And I know the very man for the job," said Werner Stauffacher.
"William Tell!"

"Hurrah for William Tell!" roared the crowd, and, taking the time from
Werner Stauffacher, they burst into the grand old Swiss chant which
runs as follows:

     "For he's a jolly good fellow!
      For he's a jolly good fellow!!
      For he's a jolly good fe-e-ll-ow!!!!
      And so say all of us!"

And having sung this till they were all quite hoarse, they went off to
their beds to get a few hours' sleep before beginning the labours of
the day.


In a picturesque little châlet high up in the mountains, covered with
snow and edelweiss (which is a flower that grows in the Alps, and you
are not allowed to pick it), dwelt William Tell, his wife Hedwig, and
his two sons, Walter and William. Such a remarkable man was Tell that I
think I must devote a whole chapter to him and his exploits. There was
really nothing he could not do. He was the best shot with the cross-bow
in the whole of Switzerland. He had the courage of a lion, the
sure-footedness of a wild goat, the agility of a squirrel, and a
beautiful beard. If you wanted someone to hurry across desolate
ice-fields, and leap from crag to crag after a chamois, Tell was the
man for your money. If you wanted a man to say rude things to the
Governor, it was to Tell that you applied first. Once when he was
hunting in the wild ravine of Schächenthal, where men were hardly
ever to be seen, he met the Governor face to face. There was no way
of getting past. On one side the rocky wall rose sheer up, while below
the river roared. Directly Gessler caught sight of Tell striding along
with his cross-bow, his cheeks grew pale and his knees tottered, and he
sat down on a rock feeling very unwell indeed.

"Aha!" said Tell. "Oho! so it's you, is it? _I_ know you. And a
nice sort of person you are, with your taxes on bread and sheep, aren't
you! You'll come to a bad end one of these days, that's what will
happen to you. Oh, you old reprobate! Pooh!" And he had passed on with
a look of scorn, leaving Gessler to think over what he had said. And
Gessler ever since had had a grudge against him, and was only waiting
for a chance of paying him out.

"Mark my words," said Tell's wife, Hedwig, when her husband told her
about it after supper that night--"mark my words, he will never
forgive you."

"I will avoid him," said Tell. "He will not seek me."

"Well, mind you do," was Hedwig's reply.

On another occasion, when the Governor's soldiers were chasing a friend
of his, called Baumgarten, and when Baumgarten's only chance of escape
was to cross the lake during a fierce storm, and when the ferryman,
sensibly remarking, "What! must I rush into the jaws of death? No man
that hath his senses would do that!" refused to take out his boat even
for twice his proper fare, and when the soldiers rode down to seize
their prey with dreadful shouts, Tell jumped into the boat, and, rowing
with all his might, brought his friend safe across after a choppy
passage. Which made Gessler the Governor still more angry with him.

But it was as a marksman that Tell was so extraordinary. There was
nobody in the whole of the land who was half so skilful. He attended
every meeting for miles around where there was a shooting competition,
and every time he won first prize. Even his rivals could not help
praising his skill. "Behold!" they would say, "Tell is quite the
pot-hunter," meaning by the last word a man who always went in for
every prize, and always won it. And Tell would say, "Yes, truly am I
a pot-hunter, for I hunt to fill the family pot." And so he did. He never
came home empty-handed from the chase. Sometimes it was a chamois that
he brought back, and then the family had it roasted on the first day,
cold on the next four, and minced on the sixth, with sippets of toast
round the edge of the dish. Sometimes it was only a bird (as on the
cover of this book), and then Hedwig would say, "Mark my words, this
fowl will not go round." But it always did, and it never happened that
there was not even a fowl to eat.

[Illustration: Frontispiece]

In fact, Tell and his family lived a very happy, contented life, in
spite of the Governor Gessler and his taxes.

Tell was very patriotic. He always believed that some day the Swiss
would rise and rebel against the tyranny of the Governor, and he used
to drill his two children so as to keep them always in a state of
preparation. They would march about, beating tin cans and shouting, and
altogether enjoying themselves immensely, though Hedwig, who did not
like noise, and wanted Walter and William to help her with the
housework, made frequent complaints. "Mark my words," she would say,
"this growing spirit of militarism in the young and foolish will lead
to no good," meaning that boys who played at soldiers instead of
helping their mother to dust the chairs and scrub the kitchen floor
would in all probability come to a bad end. But Tell would say, "Who
hopes to fight his way through life must be prepared to wield arms.
Carry on, my boys!" And they carried on. It was to this man that the
Swiss people had determined to come for help.

[Illustration: PLATE II]


Talking matters over in the inn of the town, the Glass and Glacier, the
citizens came to the conclusion that they ought to appoint three
spokesmen to go and explain to Tell just what they wanted him to do.

"I don't wish to seem to boast at all," said Arnold of Sewa, "but I
think I had better be one of the three."

"I was thinking," said Werner Stauffacher, "that it would be a pity
always to be chopping and changing. Why not choose the same three as
were sent to Gessler?"

"I don't desire to be unpleasant at all," replied Arnold of Sewa, "but
I must be forgiven for reminding the honourable gentleman who has just
spoken that he and his equally honourable friends did not meet with the
best of success when they called upon the Governor."

"Well, and you didn't either!" snapped Arnold of Melchthal, whose
finger still hurt him, and made him a little bad-tempered.

"That," said Arnold of Sewa, "I put down entirely to the fact that you
and your friends, by not exercising tact, irritated the Governor, and
made him unwilling to listen to anybody else. Nothing is more important
in these affairs than tact. That's what you want--tact. But have it
your own way. Don't mind _me!_"

And the citizens did not. They chose Werner Stauffacher, Arnold of
Melchthal, and Walter Fürst, and, having drained their glasses, the
three trudged up the steep hill which led to Tell's house.

It had been agreed that everyone should wait at the Glass and Glacier
until the three spokesmen returned, in order that they might hear the
result of their mission. Everybody was very anxious. A revolution
without Tell would be quite impossible, and it was not unlikely that
Tell might refuse to be their leader. The worst of a revolution is
that, if it fails, the leader is always executed as an example to the
rest. And many people object to being executed, however much it may set
a good example to their friends. On the other hand, Tell was a brave
man and a patriot, and might be only too eager to try to throw off the
tyrant's yoke, whatever the risk. They had waited about an hour, when
they saw the three spokesmen coming down the hill. Tell was not with
them, a fact which made the citizens suspect that he had refused their
offer. The first thing a man does when he has accepted the leadership
of a revolution is to come and plot with his companions.

"Well?" said everybody eagerly, as the three arrived.

Werner Stauffacher shook his head.

"Ah," said Arnold of Sewa, "I see what it is. He has refused. You
didn't exercise tact, and he refused."

"We _did_ exercise tact," said Stauffacher indignantly; "but he
would not be persuaded. It was like this: We went to the house and
knocked at the door. Tell opened it. 'Good-morning,' I said.

"'Good-morning,' said he. 'Take a seat.'

"I took a seat.

"'My heart is full,' I said, 'and longs to speak with you.' I thought
that a neat way of putting it."

The company murmured approval.

"'A heavy heart,' said Tell, 'will not
grow light with words.'"

"Not bad that!" murmured Jost Weiler. "Clever way of putting things,
Tell has got."

"'Yet words,' I said, 'might lead us on to deeds.'"

"Neat," said Jost Weiler--"very neat. Yes?"

"To which Tell's extraordinary reply was: 'The only thing to do is to
sit still.'

"'What!' I said; 'bear in silence things unbearable?'

"'Yes,' said Tell; 'to peaceable men peace is gladly granted. When the
Governor finds that his oppression does not make us revolt, he will
grow tired of oppressing.'"

"And what did you say to that?" asked Ulric the smith.

"I said he did not know the Governor if he thought he could ever grow
tired of oppressing. 'We might do much,' I said, 'if we held fast
together. Union is strength,' I said.

"'The strong,' said Tell, 'is strongest when he stands alone.'

"'Then our country must not count on thee,' I said, 'when in despair
she stands on self-defence?'

"'Oh, well,' he said, 'hardly that, perhaps. I don't want to desert
you. What I mean to say is, I'm no use as a plotter or a counsellor and
that sort of thing. Where I come out strong is in deeds. So don't
invite me to your meetings and make me speak, and that sort of thing;
but if you want a man to _do_ anything--why, that's where I shall
come in, you see. Just write if you want me--a postcard will do--and
you will not find William Tell hanging back. No, sir.' And with those
words he showed us out."

"Well," said Jost Weiler, "I call that encouraging. All we have to do
now is to plot. Let us plot."

"Yes, let's!" shouted everybody.

Ulric the smith rapped for silence on the table.

"Gentlemen," he said, "our friend Mr. Klaus von der Flue will now read
a paper on 'Governors--their drawbacks, and how to get rid of them.'
Silence, gentlemen, please. Now, then, Klaus, old fellow, speak up and
get it over."

And the citizens settled down without further delay to a little serious


A few days after this, Hedwig gave Tell a good talking to on the
subject of his love for adventure. He was sitting at the door of his
house mending an axe. Hedwig, as usual, was washing up. Walter and
William were playing with a little cross-bow not far off.

"Father," said Walter.

"Yes, my boy?"

"My bow-string has bust." ("Bust" was what all Swiss boys said when
they meant "broken.")

"You must mend it yourself, my boy," said Tell. "A sportsman always
helps himself."

"What _I_ say," said Hedwig, bustling out of the house, "is that a
boy of his age has no business to be shooting. I don't like it."

"Nobody can shoot well if he does not begin to practise early. Why,
when I was a boy--I remember on one occasion, when--"

"What _I_ say," interrupted Hedwig, "is that a boy ought not to
want always to be shooting, and what not. He ought to stay at home and
help his mother. And I wish you would set them a better example."

"Well, the fact is, you know," said Tell, "I don't think Nature meant
me to be a stay-at-home and that sort of thing. I couldn't be a
herdsman if you paid me. I shouldn't know what to do. No; everyone has
his special line, and mine is hunting. Now, I _can_ hunt."

"A nasty, dangerous occupation," said Hedwig. "I don't like to hear of
your being lost on desolate ice-fields, and leaping from crag to crag,
and what not. Some day, mark my words, if you are not careful, you will
fall down a precipice, or be overtaken by an avalanche, or the ice will
break while you are crossing it. There are a thousand ways in which you
might get hurt."

"A man of ready wit with a quick eye," replied Tell complacently,
"never gets hurt. The mountain has no terror for her children. I am a
child of the mountain."

"You are certainly a child!" snapped Hedwig. "It is no use my arguing
with you."

"Not very much," agreed Tell, "for I am just off to the town. I have an
appointment with your papa and some other gentlemen."

(I forgot to say so before, but Hedwig was the daughter of Walter

"Now, _what_ are you and papa plotting?" asked Hedwig. "I know
there is something going on. I suspected it when papa brought Werner
Stauffacher and the other man here, and you wouldn't let me listen.
What is it? Some dangerous scheme, I suppose?"

"Now, how in the world do you get those sort of ideas into your head?"
Tell laughed. "Dangerous scheme! As if I should plot dangerous schemes
with your papa!"

"I know," said Hedwig. "You can't deceive _me!_ There is a plot
afoot against the Governor, and you are in it."

"A man must help his country."

"They're sure to place you where there is most danger. I know them.
Don't go. Send Walter down with a note to say that you regret that an
unfortunate previous engagement, which you have just recollected, will
make it impossible for you to accept their kind invitation to plot."

"No; I must go."

"And there is another thing," continued Hedwig: "Gessler the Governor
is in the town now."

"He goes away to-day."

"Well, wait till he has gone. You must not meet him. He bears you

"To me his malice cannot do much harm. I do what's right, and fear no

"Those who do right," said Hedwig, "are those he hates the most. And
you know he has never forgiven you for speaking like that when you met
him in the ravine. Keep away from the town for to-day. Do anything
else. Go hunting, if you will."

"No," said Tell; "I promised. I must go. Come along, Walter."

"You _aren't_ going to take that poor _dear_ child? Come
here, Walter, directly minute!'

"Want to go with father," said Walter, beginning to cry, for his father
had promised to take him with him the next time he went to the town,
and he had saved his pocket-money for the occasion.

"Oh, let the boy come," said Tell. "William will stay with you, won't
you, William?"

"All right, father," said William.

"Well, mark my words," said Hedwig, "if something bad does not happen I
shall be surprised."

"Oh no," said Tell. "What can happen?"

And without further delay he set off with Walter for the town.


In the meantime all kinds of things of which Tell had no suspicion had
been happening in the town. The fact that there were no newspapers in
Switzerland at that time often made him a little behindhand as regarded
the latest events. He had to depend, as a rule, on visits from his
friends, who would sit in his kitchen and tell him all about everything
that had been going on for the last few days. And, of course, when
there was anything very exciting happening in the town, nobody had time
to trudge up the hill to Tell's châlet. They all wanted to be in the
town enjoying the fun.

What had happened now was this. It was the chief amusement of the
Governor, Gessler (who, you will remember, was _not_ a nice man),
when he had a few moments to spare from the cares of governing, to sit
down and think out some new way of annoying the Swiss people. He was
one of those persons who

            "only do it to annoy,
     Because they know it teases."

What he liked chiefly was to forbid something. He would find out what
the people most enjoyed doing, and then he would send a herald to say
that he was very sorry, but it must stop. He found that this annoyed
the Swiss more than anything. But now he was rather puzzled what to do,
for he had forbidden everything he could think of. He had forbidden
dancing and singing, and playing on any sort of musical instrument, on
the ground that these things made such a noise, and disturbed people
who wanted to work. He had forbidden the eating of everything except
bread and the simplest sorts of meat, because he said that anything
else upset people, and made them unfit to do anything except sit still
and say how ill they were. And he had forbidden all sorts of games,
because he said they were a waste of time.

So that now, though he wanted dreadfully to forbid something else, he
could not think of anything.

Then he had an idea, and this was it:

He told his servants to cut a long pole. And they cut a very long pole.
Then he said to them, "Go into the hall and bring me one of my hats.
Not my best hat, which I wear on Sundays and on State occasions; nor
yet my second-best, which I wear every day; nor yet, again, the one I
wear when I am out hunting, for all these I need. Fetch me, rather, the
oldest of my hats." And they fetched him the very oldest of his hats.
Then he said, "Put it on top of the pole." And they put it right on top
of the pole. And, last of all, he said, "Go and set up the pole in the
middle of the meadow just outside the gates of the town." And they went
and set up the pole in the very middle of the meadow just outside the
gates of the town.

Then he sent his heralds out to north and south and east and west to
summon the people together, because he said he had something very
important and special to say to them. And the people came in tens, and
fifties, and hundreds, men, women, and children; and they stood waiting
in front of the Palace steps till Gessler the Governor should come out
and say something very important and special to them.

And punctually at eleven o'clock, Gessler, having finished a capital
breakfast, came out on to the top step and spoke to them.

"Ladies and gentlemen,"--he began. (A voice from the crowd: "Speak

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began again, in a louder voice, "if I could
catch the man who said 'Speak up!' I would have him bitten in the neck
by wild elephants. (Applause.) I have called you to this place to-day
to explain to you my reason for putting up a pole, on the top of which
is one of my caps, in the meadow just outside the city gates. It is
this: You all, I know, respect and love me." Here he paused for the
audience to cheer, but as they remained quite silent he went on: "You
would all, I know, like to come to my Palace every day and do reverence
to me. (A voice: 'No, no!') If I could catch the man who said 'No, no!'
I would have him stung on the soles of the feet by pink scorpions; and
if he was the same man who said 'Speak up!' a little while ago, the
number of scorpions should be doubled. (Loud applause.) As I was saying
before I was interrupted, I know you would like to come to my Palace
and do reverence to me there. But, as you are many and space is
limited, I am obliged to refuse you that pleasure. However, being
anxious not to disappoint you, I have set up my cap in the meadow, and
you may do reverence to _that_. In fact, you _must_. Everybody is
to look on that cap as if it were me. (A voice: 'It ain't so ugly as
you!') If I could catch the man who made that remark I would have him
tied up and teased by trained bluebottles. (Deafening applause.) In
fact, to put the matter briefly, if anybody crosses that meadow without
bowing down before that cap, my soldiers will arrest him, and I will
have him pecked on the nose by infuriated blackbirds. So there!
Soldiers, move that crowd on!"

And Gessler disappeared indoors again, just as a volley of eggs and
cabbages whistled through the air. And the soldiers began to hustle the
crowd down the various streets till the open space in front of the
Palace gates was quite cleared of them. All this happened the day
before Tell and Walter set out for the town.


Having set up the pole and cap in the meadow, Gessler sent two of his
bodyguard, Friesshardt (I should think you would be safe in pronouncing
this Freeze-hard, but you had better ask somebody who knows) and
Leuthold, to keep watch there all day, and see that nobody passed by
without kneeling down before the pole and taking off his hat to it.

But the people, who prided themselves on being what they called
_üppen zie schnuffen_, or, as we should say, "up to snuff," and
equal to every occasion, had already seen a way out of the difficulty.
They knew that if they crossed the meadow they must bow down before the
pole, which they did not want to do, so it occurred to them that an
ingenious way of preventing this would be not to cross the meadow. So
they went the long way round, and the two soldiers spent a lonely day.

"What I sez," said Friesshardt, "is, wot's the use of us wasting our
time here?" (Friesshardt was not a very well-educated man, and he did
not speak good grammar.) "None of these here people ain't a-going to
bow down to that there hat. Of course they ain't. Why, I can remember
the time when this meadow was like a fair--everybody a-shoving and
a-jostling one another for elbow-room; and look at it now! It's a desert.
That's what it is, a desert. What's the good of us wasting of our time
here, I sez. That's what I sez.

"And they're artful, too, mind yer," he continued. "Why, only this
morning, I sez to myself, 'Friesshardt,' I sez, 'you just wait till
twelve o'clock,' I sez, ''cos that's when they leave the council-house,
and then they'll _have_ to cross the meadow. And then we'll see
what we _shall_ see,' I sez. Like that, I sez. Bitter-like, yer
know. 'We'll see,' I sez, 'what we _shall_ see.' So I waited, and
at twelve o'clock out they came, dozens of them, and began to cross the
meadow. 'And now,' sez I to myself, 'look out for larks.' But what
happened? Why, when they came to the pole, the priest stood in front of
it, and the sacristan rang the bell, and they all fell down on their
knees. But they were saying their prayers, not doing obeisance to the
hat. That's what _they_ were doing. Artful--that's what _they_ are!"

And Friesshardt kicked the foot of the pole viciously with his iron

"It's my belief," said Leuthold (Leuthold is the thin soldier you see
in the picture)--"it's my firm belief that they are laughing at us.
There! Listen to that!"

A voice made itself heard from behind a rock not far off.

"Where did you get that hat?" said the voice.

"There!" grumbled Leuthold; "they're always at it. Last time it was,
'Who's your hatter?' Why, we're the laughing-stock of the place. We're
like two rogues in a pillory. 'Tis rank disgrace for one who wears a
sword to stand as sentry o'er an empty hat. To make obeisance to a hat!
I' faith, such a command is downright foolery!"

"Well," said Friesshardt, "and why not bow before an empty hat? Thou
hast oft bow'd before an empty skull. Ha, ha! I was always one for a
joke, yer know."

"Here come some people," said Leuthold. "At last! And they're only the
rabble, after all. You don't catch any of the better sort of people
coming here."

A crowd was beginning to collect on the edge of the meadow. Its numbers
swelled every minute, until quite a hundred of the commoner sort must
have been gathered together. They stood pointing at the pole and
talking among themselves, but nobody made any movement to cross the

At last somebody shouted "Yah!"

The soldiers took no notice.

Somebody else cried "Booh!"'

"Pass along there, pass along!" said the soldiers.

Cries of "Where did you get that hat?" began to come from the body of
the crowd. When the Swiss invented a catch-phrase they did not drop it
in a hurry.

"Where--did--you--get--that--HAT?" they shouted.

Friesshardt and Leuthold stood like two statues in armour, paying no
attention to the remarks of the rabble. This annoyed the rabble. They
began to be more personal.

"You in the second-hand lobster-tin," shouted one--he meant
Friesshardt, whose suit of armour, though no longer new, hardly
deserved this description--"who's your hatter?"

"Can't yer see," shouted a friend, when Friesshardt made no reply, "the
pore thing ain't alive? 'E's stuffed!"

Roars of laughter greeted this sally. Friesshardt, in spite of the fact
that he enjoyed a joke, turned pink.

"'E's blushing!" shrieked a voice.

Friesshardt turned purple.

Then things got still more exciting.

"'Ere," said a rough voice in the crowd impatiently, "wot's the good of
_torkin'_ to 'em? Gimme that 'ere egg, missus!"

And in another instant an egg flew across the meadow, and burst over
Leuthold's shoulder. The crowd howled with delight. This was something
_like_ fun, thought they, and the next moment eggs, cabbages,
cats, and missiles of every sort darkened the air. The two soldiers
raved and shouted, but did not dare to leave their post. At last, just
as the storm was at its height, it ceased, as if by magic. Everyone in
the crowd turned round, and, as he turned, jumped into the air and
waved his hat.

[Illustration: PLATE III]

A deafening cheer went up.

"Hurrah!" cried the mob; "here comes good old Tell! _Now_ there's
going to be a jolly row!"


Tell came striding along, Walter by his side, and his cross-bow over
his shoulder. He knew nothing about the hat having been placed on the
pole, and he was surprised to see such a large crowd gathered in the
meadow. He bowed to the crowd in his polite way, and the crowd gave
three cheers and one more, and he bowed again.

"Hullo!" said Walter suddenly; "look at that hat up there, father. On
the pole."

"What is the hat to us?" said Tell; and he began to walk across the
meadow with an air of great dignity, and Walter walked by his side,
trying to look just like him.

"Here! hi!" shouted the soldiers. "Stop! You haven't bowed down to the

[Illustration: PLATE IV]

Tell looked scornful, but said nothing. Walter looked still more

"Ho, there!" shouted Friesshardt, standing in front of him. "I bid you
stand in the Emperor's name."

"My good fellow," said Tell, "please do not bother me. I am in a hurry.
I really have nothing for you."

"My orders is," said Friesshardt, "to stand in this 'ere meadow and to
see as how all them what passes through it does obeisance to that there
hat. Them's Governor's orders, them is. So now."

"My good fellow," said Tell, "let me pass. I shall get cross, I know I

Shouts of encouragement from the crowd, who were waiting patiently for
the trouble to begin.

"Go it, Tell!" they cried. "Don't stand talking to him. Hit him a

Friesshardt became angrier every minute.

"My orders is," he said again, "to arrest them as don't bow down to the
hat, and for two pins, young feller, I'll arrest you. So which is it to
be? Either you bow down to that there hat or you come along of me."

Tell pushed him aside, and walked on with his chin in the air. Walter
went with him, with his chin in the air.


A howl of dismay went up from the crowd as they saw Friesshardt raise
his pike and bring it down with all his force on Tell's head. The sound
of the blow went echoing through the meadow and up the hills and down
the valleys.

[Illustration: PLATE V]

"Ow!" cried Tell.

"_Now_," thought the crowd, "things must begin to get exciting."

Tell's first idea was that one of the larger mountains in the
neighbourhood had fallen on top of him. Then he thought that there must
have been an earthquake. Then it gradually dawned upon him that he had
been hit by a mere common soldier with a pike. Then he _was_

"Look here!" he began.

"Look there!" said Friesshardt, pointing to the cap.

[Illustration: PLATE VI]

"You've hurt my head very much," said Tell. "Feel the bump. If I hadn't
happened to have a particularly hard head I don't know what might not
have happened;" and he raised his fist and hit Friesshardt; but as
Friesshardt was wearing a thick iron helmet the blow did not hurt him
very much.

But it had the effect of bringing the crowd to Tell's assistance. They
had been waiting all this time for him to begin the fighting, for
though they were very anxious to attack the soldiers, they did not like
to do so by themselves. They wanted a leader.

So when they saw Tell hit Friesshardt, they tucked up their sleeves,
grasped their sticks and cudgels more tightly, and began to run across
the meadow towards him.

Neither of the soldiers noticed this. Friesshardt was busy arguing with
Tell, and Leuthold was laughing at Friesshardt. So when the people came
swarming up with their sticks and cudgels they were taken by surprise.
But every soldier in the service of Gessler was as brave as a lion, and
Friesshardt and Leuthold were soon hitting back merrily, and making a
good many of the crowd wish that they had stayed at home. The two
soldiers were wearing armour, of course, so that it was difficult to
hurt them; but the crowd, who wore no armour, found that _they_
could get hurt very easily. Conrad Hunn, for instance, was attacking
Friesshardt, when the soldier happened to drop his pike. It fell on
Conrad's toe, and Conrad limped away, feeling that fighting was no fun
unless you had thick boots on.

And so for a time the soldiers had the best of the fight.


For many minutes the fight raged furiously round the pole, and the
earth shook beneath the iron boots of Friesshardt and Leuthold as they
rushed about, striking out right and left with their fists and the
flats of their pikes. Seppi the cowboy (an ancestor, by the way, of
Buffalo Bill) went down before a tremendous blow by Friesshardt, and
Leuthold knocked Klaus von der Flue head over heels.

"What you _want_" said Arnold of Sewa, who had seen the beginning
of the fight from the window of his cottage and had hurried to join it,
and, as usual, to give advice to everybody--"what you want here is
guile. That's what you want--guile, cunning. Not brute force, mind you.
It's no good rushing at a man in armour and hitting him. He only hits
you back. You should employ guile. Thus. Observe."

He had said these words standing on the outskirts of the crowd. He now
grasped his cudgel and began to steal slowly towards Friesshardt, who
had just given Werni the huntsman such a hit with his pike that the
sound of it was still echoing in the mountains, and was now busily
engaged in disposing of Jost Weiler. Arnold of Sewa crept stealthily
behind him, and was just about to bring his cudgel down on his head,
when Leuthold, catching sight of him, saved his comrade by driving his
pike with all his force into Arnold's side. Arnold said afterwards that
it completely took his breath away. He rolled over, and after being
trodden on by everybody for some minutes, got up and limped back to his
cottage, where he went straight to bed, and did not get up for two

All this time Tell had been standing a little way off with his arms
folded, looking on. While it was a quarrel simply between himself and
Friesshardt he did not mind fighting. But when the crowd joined in he
felt that it was not fair to help so many men attack one, however badly
that one might have behaved.

He now saw that the time had come to put an end to the disturbance. He
drew an arrow from his quiver, placed it in his crossbow, and pointed
it at the hat. Friesshardt, seeing what he intended to do, uttered a
shout of horror and rushed to stop him. But at that moment somebody in
the crowd hit him so hard with a spade that his helmet was knocked over
his eyes, and before he could raise it again the deed was done. Through
the cap and through the pole and out at the other side sped the arrow.
And the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was Tell standing
beside him twirling his moustache, while all around the crowd danced
and shouted and threw their caps into the air with joy.

[Illustration: PLATE VII]

[Illustration: PLATE VIII]

"A mere trifle," said Tell modestly.

The crowd cheered again and again.

Friesshardt and Leuthold lay on the ground beside the pole, feeling
very sore and bruised, and thought that perhaps, on the whole, they had
better stay there. There was no knowing what the crowd might do after
this, if they began to fight again. So they lay on the ground and made
no attempt to interfere with the popular rejoicings. What they
_wanted_, as Arnold of Sewa might have said if he had been there,
was a few moments' complete rest. Leuthold's helmet had been hammered
with sticks until it was over his eyes and all out of shape, and
Friesshardt's was very little better. And they both felt just as if
they had been run over in the street by a horse and cart.

"Tell!" shouted the crowd. "Hurrah for Tell! Good old Tell!"

"Tell's the boy!" roared Ulric the smith. "Not another man in
Switzerland could have made that shot."

"No," shrieked everybody, "not another!"

"Speech!" cried someone from the edge of the crowd.

"Speech! Speech! Tell, speech!" Everybody took up the cry.

"No, no," said Tell, blushing.

"Go on, go on!" shouted the crowd.

"Oh, I couldn't," said Tell; "I don't know what to say."

"Anything will do. Speech! Speech!"

Ulric the smith and Ruodi the fisherman hoisted Tell on to their
shoulders, and, having coughed once or twice, he said:


Cheers from the crowd.

"Gentlemen," said Tell again, "this is the proudest moment of my life."

More cheers.

"I don't know what you want me to talk about. I have never made a
speech before. Excuse my emotion. This is the proudest moment of my
life. To-day is a great day for Switzerland. We have struck the first
blow of the revolution. Let us strike some more."

Shouts of "Hear, hear!" from the crowd, many of whom, misunderstanding
Tell's last remark, proceeded to hit Leuthold and Friesshardt, until
stopped by cries of "Order!" from Ulric the smith.

"Gentlemen," continued Tell, "the floodgates of revolution have been
opened. From this day they will stalk through the land burning to ashes
the slough of oppression which our tyrant Governor has erected in our
midst. I have only to add that this is the proudest moment of my life,

He was interrupted by a frightened voice.

"Look out, you chaps," said the voice; "here comes the Governor!"

Gessler, with a bodyguard of armed men, had entered the meadow, and was
galloping towards them.


Gessler came riding up on his brown horse, and the crowd melted away in
all directions, for there was no knowing what the Governor might not do
if he found them plotting. They were determined to rebel and to throw
off his tyrannous yoke, but they preferred to do it quietly and
comfortably, when he was nowhere near.

So they ran away to the edge of the meadow, and stood there in groups,
waiting to see what was going to happen. Not even Ulric the smith and
Ruodi the fisherman waited, though they knew quite well that Tell had
not nearly finished his speech. They set the orator down, and began to
walk away, trying to look as if they had been doing nothing in
particular, and were going to go on doing it--only somewhere else.

Tell was left standing alone in the middle of the meadow by the pole.
He scorned to run away like the others, but he did not at all like the
look of things. Gessler was a stern man, quick to punish any insult,
and there were two of his soldiers lying on the ground with their nice
armour all spoiled and dented, and his own cap on top of the pole had
an arrow right through the middle of it, and would never look the same
again, however much it might be patched. It seemed to Tell that there
was a bad time coming.

Gessler rode up, and reined in his horse.

"Now then, now then, now then!" he said, in his quick, abrupt way.
"What's this? what's this? what's this?"

(When a man repeats what he says three times, you can see that he is
not in a good temper.)

Friesshardt and Leuthold got up, saluted, and limped slowly towards
him. They halted beside his horse, and stood to attention. The tears
trickled down their cheeks.

"Come, come, come!" said Gessler; "tell me all about it."

[Illustration: PLATE IX]

And he patted Friesshardt on the head. Friesshardt bellowed.

Gessler beckoned to one of his courtiers.

"Have you a handkerchief?" he said.

"I have a handkerchief, your Excellency."

"Then dry this man's eyes."

The courtier did as he was bidden.

"_Now_," said Gessler, when the drying was done, and Friesshardt's
tears had ceased, "what has been happening here? I heard a cry of
'Help!' as I came up. Who cried 'Help!'?"

"Please, your lordship's noble Excellencyship," said Friesshardt, "it
was me, Friesshardt."

"You should say, 'It was I,'" said Gessler. "Proceed."

"Which I am a loyal servant of your Excellency's, and in your
Excellency's army, and seeing as how I was told to stand by this 'ere
pole and guard that there hat, I stood by this 'ere pole, and guarded
that there hat--all day, I did, your Excellency. And then up comes this
man here, and I says to him--'Bow down to the hat,' I says. 'Ho!' he
says to me--'ho, indeed!' and he passed on without so much as nodding.
So I takes my pike, and I taps him on the head to remind him, as you
may say, that there was something he was forgetting, and he ups and
hits me, he does. And then the crowd runs up with their sticks and hits
me and Leuthold cruel, your Excellency. And while we was a-fighting
with them, this here man I'm a-telling you about, your Excellency, he
outs with an arrow, puts it into his bow, and sends it through the hat,
and I don't see how you'll ever be able to wear it again. It's a waste
of a good hat, your Excellency--that's what it is. And then the people,
they puts me and Leuthold on the ground, and hoists this here man--Tell,
they call him--up on their shoulders, and he starts making a speech,
when up you comes, your Excellency. That's how it all was."

Gessler turned pale with rage, and glared fiercely at Tell, who stood
before him in the grasp of two of the bodyguard.

"Ah," he said, "Tell, is it? Good-day to you, Tell. I think we've met
before, Tell? Eh, Tell?"

"We have, your Excellency. It was in the ravine of Schächenthal," said
Tell firmly.

"Your memory is good, Tell. So is mine. I think you made a few remarks
to me on that occasion, Tell--a few chatty remarks? Eh, Tell?"

"Very possibly, your Excellency."

"You were hardly polite, Tell."

"If I offended you I am sorry."

"I am glad to hear it, Tell. I think you will be even sorrier before
long. So you've been ill-treating my soldiers, eh?"

"It was not I who touched them."

"Oh, so you didn't touch them? Ah! But you defied my power by refusing
to bow down to the hat. I set up that hat to prove the people's
loyalty. I am afraid you are not loyal, Tell."

"I was a little thoughtless, not disloyal. I passed the hat without

"You should always think, Tell. It is very dangerous not to do so. And
I suppose that you shot your arrow through the hat without thinking?"

"I was a little carried away by excitement, your Excellency."

"Dear, dear! Carried away by excitement, were you? You must really be
more careful, Tell. One of these days you will be getting yourself into
trouble. But it seems to have been a very fine shot. You _are_ a
capital marksman, I believe?"

"Father's the best shot in all Switzerland," piped a youthful voice.
"He can hit an apple on a tree a hundred yards away. I've seen him.
Can't you, father?"

Walter, who had run away when the fighting began, had returned on
seeing his father in the hands of the soldiers.

Gessler turned a cold eye upon him.

"Who is this?" he asked.


"It is my son Walter, your Excellency," said Tell.

"Your son? Indeed. This is very interesting. Have you any more

"I have one other boy."

"And which of them do you love the most, eh?"

"I love them both alike, your Excellency."

"Dear me! Quite a happy family. Now, listen to me, Tell. I know you are
fond of excitement, so I am going to try to give you a little. Your son
says that you can hit an apple on a tree a hundred yards away, and I am
sure you have every right to be very proud of such a feat.

"Your Excellency?"

"Bring me an apple."

Friesshardt picked one up. Some apples had been thrown at him and
Leuthold earlier in the day, and there were several lying about.

"Which I'm afraid as how it's a little bruised, your Excellency," he
said, "having hit me on the helmet."

"Thank you. I do not require it for eating purposes," said Gessler.
"Now, Tell, I have here an apple--a simple apple, not over-ripe. I
should like to test that feat of yours. So take your bow--I see you
have it in your hand--and get ready to shoot. I am going to put this
apple on your son's head. He will be placed a hundred yards away from
you, and if you do not hit the apple with your first shot your life
shall pay forfeit."

[Illustration: PLATE X]

And he regarded Tell with a look of malicious triumph.

"Your Excellency, it cannot be!" cried Tell; "the thing is too
monstrous. Perhaps your Excellency is pleased to jest. You cannot bid a
father shoot an apple from off his son's head! Consider, your

"You shall shoot the apple from off the head of this boy," said Gessler
sternly. "I do not jest. That is my will."

"Sooner would I die," said Tell.

"If you do not shoot you die with the boy. Come, come, Tell, why so
cautious? They always told me that you loved perilous enterprises, and
yet when I give you one you complain. I could understand anybody else
shrinking from the feat. But you! Hitting apples at a hundred yards is
child's play to you. And what does it matter where the apple is--whether
it is on a tree or on a boy's head? It is an apple just the same.
Proceed, Tell."

The crowd, seeing a discussion going on, had left the edge of the
meadow and clustered round to listen. A groan of dismay went up at the
Governor's words.

"Down on your knees, boy," whispered Rudolph der Harras to Walter--"down
on your knees, and beg his Excellency for your life."

"I won't!" said Walter stoutly.

"Come," said Gessler, "clear a path there--clear a path! Hurry
yourselves. I won't have this loitering. Look you, Tell: attend to me
for a moment. I find you in the middle of this meadow deliberately
defying my authority and making sport of my orders. I find you in the
act of stirring up discontent among my people with speeches. I might
have you executed without ceremony. But do I? No. Nobody shall say that
Hermann Gessler the Governor is not kind-hearted. I say to myself, 'I
will give this man one chance.' I place your fate in your own skilful
hands. How can a man complain of harsh treatment when he is made master
of his own fate? Besides, I don't ask you to do anything difficult. I
merely bid you perform what must be to you a simple shot. You boast of
your unerring aim. Now is the time to prove it. Clear the way there!"

Walter Fürst flung himself on his knees before the Governor.

"Your Highness," he cried, "none deny your power. Let it be mingled
with mercy. It is excellent, as an English poet will say in a few
hundred years, to have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous to
use it like a giant. Take the half of my possessions, but spare my

But Walter Tell broke in impatiently, and bade his grandfather rise,
and not kneel to the tyrant.

"Where must I stand?" asked he. "I'm not afraid. Father can hit a bird
upon the wing."

"You see that lime-tree yonder," said Gessler to his soldiers; "take
the boy and bind him to it."

"I will not be bound!" cried Walter. "I am not afraid. I'll stand
still. I won't breathe. If you bind me I'll kick!"

"Let us bind your eyes, at least," said Rudolph der Harras.

"Do you think I fear to see father shoot?" said Walter. "I won't stir
an eyelash. Father, show the tyrant how you can shoot. He thinks you're
going to miss. Isn't he an old donkey!"

"Very well, young man," muttered Gessler, "we'll see who is laughing
five minutes from now." And once more he bade the crowd stand back and
leave a way clear for Tell to shoot.


The crowd fell back, leaving a lane down which Walter walked, carrying
the apple. There was dead silence as he passed. Then the people began
to whisper excitedly to one another.

"Shall this be done before our eyes?" said Arnold of Melchthal to
Werner Stauffacher. "Of what use was it that we swore an oath to rebel
if we permit this? Let us rise and slay the tyrant."

Werner Stauffacher, prudent man, scratched his chin thoughtfully.

"We-e-ll," he said, "you see, the difficulty is that we are not armed
and the soldiers _are_. There is nothing I should enjoy more than
slaying the tyrant, only I have an idea that the tyrant would slay us.
You see my point?"

"Why were we so slow!" groaned Arnold. "We should have risen before,
and then this would never have happened. Who was it that advised us to

"We-e-ll," said Stauffacher (who had himself advised delay), "I can't
quite remember at the moment, but I dare say you could find out by
looking up the minutes of our last meeting. I know the motion was
carried by a majority of two votes. See! Gessler grows impatient."

Gessler, who had been fidgeting on his horse for some time, now spoke
again, urging Tell to hurry.

"Begin!" he cried--"begin!"

"Immediately," replied Tell, fitting the arrow to the string.

Gessler began to mock him once more.

"You see now," he said, "the danger of carrying arms. I don't know if
you have ever noticed it, but arrows very often recoil on the man who
carries them. The only man who has any business to possess a weapon is
the ruler of a country--myself, for instance. A low, common fellow--if
you will excuse the description--like yourself only grows proud through
being armed, and so offends those above him. But, of course, it's no
business of mine. I am only telling you what I think about it.
Personally, I like to encourage my subjects to shoot; that is why I am
giving you such a splendid mark to shoot at. You see, Tell?"

Tell did not reply. He raised his bow and pointed it. There was a stir
of excitement in the crowd, more particularly in that part of the crowd
which stood on his right, for, his hand trembling for the first time in
his life, Tell had pointed his arrow, not at his son, but straight into
the heart of the crowd.

[Illustration: PLATE XI]

"Here! Hi! That's the wrong way! More to the left!" shouted the people
in a panic, while Gessler roared with laughter, and bade Tell shoot and
chance it.

"If you can't hit the apple or your son," he chuckled, "you can bring
down one of your dear fellow-countrymen."

Tell lowered his bow, and a sigh of relief went through the crowd.

"My eyes are swimming," he said; "I cannot see."

Then he turned to the Governor.

"I cannot shoot," he said; "bid your soldiers kill me."

"No," said Gessler--"no, Tell. That is not at all what I want. If I had
wished my soldiers to kill you, I should not have waited for a formal
invitation from you. I have no desire to see you slain. Not at present.
I wish to see you shoot. Come, Tell, they say you can do everything,
and are afraid of nothing. Only the other day, I hear, you carried a
man, one Baumgartner--that was his name, I think--across a rough sea in
an open boat. You may remember it? I particularly wished to catch
Baumgartner, Tell. Now, this is a feat which calls for much less
courage. Simply to shoot an apple off a boy's head. A child could do

While he was speaking, Tell had been standing in silence, his hands
trembling and his eyes fixed, sometimes on the Governor, sometimes on
the sky. He now seized his quiver, and taking from it a second arrow,
placed it in his belt. Gessler watched him, but said nothing.

"Shoot, father!" cried Walter from the other end of the lane; "I'm not

Tell, calm again now, raised his bow and took a steady aim. Everybody
craned forward, the front ranks in vain telling those behind that there
was nothing to be gained by pushing. Gessler bent over his horse's neck
and peered eagerly towards Walter. A great hush fell on all as Tell
released the string.

"Phut!" went the string, and the arrow rushed through the air.

A moment's suspense, and then a terrific cheer rose from the

[Illustration: PLATE XII]

The apple had leaped from Walter's head, pierced through the centre.


Intense excitement instantly reigned. Their suspense over, the crowd
cheered again and again, shook hands with one another, and flung their
caps into the air. Everyone was delighted, for everyone was fond of
Tell and Walter. It also pleased them to see the Governor disappointed.
He had had things his own way for so long that it was a pleasant change
to see him baffled in this manner. Not since Switzerland became a
nation had the meadow outside the city gates been the scene of such

Walter had picked up the apple with the arrow piercing it, and was
showing it proudly to all his friends.

"I told you so," he kept saying; "I knew father wouldn't hurt me.
Father's the best shot in all Switzerland."

"That was indeed a shot!" exclaimed Ulric the smith; "it will ring
through the ages. While the mountains stand will the tale of Tell the
bowman be told."

Rudolph der Harras took the apple from Walter and showed it to Gessler,
who had been sitting transfixed on his horse.

"See," he said, "the arrow has passed through the very centre. It was a
master shot."

"It was very nearly a 'Master Walter shot,'" said Rösselmann the priest
severely, fixing the Governor with a stern eye.

Gessler made no answer. He sat looking moodily at Tell, who had dropped
his cross-bow and was standing motionless, still gazing in the
direction in which the arrow had sped. Nobody liked to be the first to
speak to him.

"Well," said Rudolph der Harras, breaking an awkward silence, "I
suppose it's all over now? May as well be moving, eh?"

He bit a large piece out of the apple, which he still held. Walter
uttered a piercing scream as he saw the mouthful disappear. Up till now
he had shown no signs of dismay, in spite of the peril which he had had
to face; but when he watched Rudolph eating the apple, which he
naturally looked upon as his own property, he could not keep quiet any
longer. Rudolph handed him the apple with an apology, and he began to
munch it contentedly.

"Come with me to your mother, my boy," said Rösselmann.

Walter took no notice, but went on eating the apple.

Tell came to himself with a start, looked round for Walter, and began
to lead him away in the direction of his home, deaf to all the cheering
that was going on around him.

Gessler leaned forward in his saddle.

"Tell," he said, "a word with you."

Tell came back.

"Your Excellency?"

"Before you go I wish you to explain one thing."

"A thousand, your Excellency."

"No, only one. When you were getting ready to shoot at the apple you
placed an arrow in the string and a second arrow in your belt."

"A second arrow!" Tell pretended to be very much astonished, but the
pretence did not deceive the Governor.

"Yes, a second arrow. Why was that? What did you intend to do with that
arrow, Tell?"

Tell looked down uneasily, and twisted his bow about in his hands.

"My lord," he said at last, "it is a bowman's custom. All archers place
a second arrow in their belt."

"No, Tell," said Gessler, "I cannot take that answer as the truth. I
know there was some other meaning in what you did. Tell me the reason
without concealment. Why was it? Your life is safe, whatever it was, so
speak out. Why did you take out that second arrow?"

Tell stopped fidgeting with his bow, and met the Governor's eye with a
steady gaze.

"Since you promise me my life, your Excellency," he replied, drawing
himself up, "I will tell you."

He drew the arrow from his belt and held it up.

The crowd pressed forward, hanging on his words.

"Had my first arrow," said Tell slowly, "pierced my child and not the
apple, this would have pierced you, my lord. Had I missed with my first
shot, be sure, my lord, that my second would have found its mark."

A murmur of approval broke from the crowd as Tell thrust the arrow back
into the quiver and faced the Governor with folded arms and burning
eyes. Gessler turned white with fury.

"Seize that man!" he shouted.

[Illustration: PLATE XIII]

"My lord, bethink you," whispered Rudolph der Harras; "you promised him
his life. Tell, fly!" he cried.

Tell did not move.

"Seize that man and bind him," roared Gessler once more. "If he
resists, cut him down."

"I shall not resist," said Tell scornfully. "I should have known the
folly of trusting to a tyrant to keep his word. My death will at least
show my countrymen the worth of their Governor's promises."

"Not so," replied Gessler; "no man shall say I ever broke my knightly
word. I promised you your life, and I will give you your life. But you
are a dangerous man, Tell, and against such must I guard myself. You
have told me your murderous purpose. I must look to it that that
purpose is not fulfilled. Life I promised you, and life I will give
you. But of freedom I said nothing. In my castle at Küssnacht there are
dungeons where no ray of sun or moon ever falls. Chained hand and foot
in one of these, you will hardly aim your arrows at me. It is rash,
Tell, to threaten those who have power over you. Soldiers, bind him and
lead him to my ship. I will follow, and will myself conduct him to

The soldiers tied Tell's hands. He offered no resistance. And amidst
the groans of the people he was led away to the shore of the lake,
where Gessler's ship lay at anchor.

[Illustration: PLATE XIV]

"Our last chance is gone," said the people to one another. "Where shall
we look now for a leader?"


The castle of Küssnacht lay on the opposite side of the lake, a mighty
mass of stone reared on a mightier crag rising sheer out of the waves,
which boiled and foamed about its foot. Steep rocks of fantastic shape
hemmed it in, and many were the vessels which perished on these, driven
thither by the frequent storms that swept over the lake.

Gessler and his men, Tell in their midst, bound and unarmed, embarked
early in the afternoon at Flüelen, which was the name of the harbour
where the Governor's ship had been moored. Flüelen was about two miles
from Küssnacht.

When they had arrived at the vessel they went on board, and Tell was
placed at the bottom of the hold. It was pitch dark, and rats scampered
over his body as he lay. The ropes were cast off, the sails filled, and
the ship made her way across the lake, aided by a favouring breeze.

A large number of the Swiss people had followed Tell and his captors to
the harbour, and stood gazing sorrowfully after the ship as it
diminished in the distance. There had been whispers of an attempted
rescue, but nobody had dared to begin it, and the whispers had led to
nothing. Few of the people carried weapons, and the soldiers were clad
in armour, and each bore a long pike or a sharp sword. As Arnold of
Sewa would have said if he had been present, what the people wanted was
prudence. It was useless to attack men so thoroughly able to defend

Therefore the people looked on and groaned, but did nothing.

For some time the ship sped easily on her way and through a calm sea.
Tell lay below, listening to the trampling of the sailors overhead, as
they ran about the deck, and gave up all hope of ever seeing his home
and his friends again.

But soon he began to notice that the ship was rolling and pitching more
than it had been doing at first, and it was not long before he realized
that a very violent storm had begun. Storms sprung up very suddenly on
the lake, and made it unsafe for boats that attempted to cross it.
Often the sea was quite unruffled at the beginning of the crossing, and
was rough enough at the end to wreck the largest ship.

Tell welcomed the storm. He had no wish to live if life meant years of
imprisonment in a dark dungeon of Castle Küssnacht. Drowning would be a
pleasant fate compared with that. He lay at the bottom of the ship,
hoping that the next wave would dash them on to a rock and send them to
the bottom of the lake. The tossing became worse and worse.

Upon the deck Gessler was standing beside the helmsman, and gazing
anxiously across the waters at the rocks that fringed the narrow
entrance to the bay a few hundred yards to the east of Castle
Küssnacht. This bay was the only spot for miles along the shore at
which it was possible to land safely. For miles on either side the
coast was studded with great rocks, which would have dashed a ship to
pieces in a moment. It was to this bay that Gessler wished to direct
the ship. But the helmsman told him that he could not make sure of
finding the entrance, so great was the cloud of spray which covered it.
A mistake would mean shipwreck.

"My lord," said the helmsman, "I have
neither strength nor skill to guide the helm. I do not know which way
to turn."

"What are we to do?" asked Rudolph der Harras, who was standing near.

The helmsman hesitated. Then he spoke, eyeing the Governor uneasily.

"Tell could steer us through," he said, "if your lordship would but
give him the helm."

Gessler started.

"Tell!" he muttered. "Tell!"

The ship drew nearer to the rocks.

"Bring him here," said Gessler.

Two soldiers went down to the hold and released Tell. They bade him get
up and come with them. Tell followed them on deck, and stood before the

"Tell," said Gessler.

Tell looked at him without speaking.

"Take the helm, Tell," said Gessler, "and steer the ship through those
rocks into the bay beyond, or instant death shall be your lot."

Without a word Tell took the helmsman's place, peering keenly into the
cloud of foam before him. To right and to left he turned the vessel's
head, and to right again, into the very heart of the spray. They were
right among the rocks now, but the ship did not strike on them.
Quivering and pitching, she was hurried along, until of a sudden the
spray-cloud was behind her, and in front the calm waters of the bay.

Gessler beckoned to the helmsman.

"Take the helm again," he said.

He pointed to Tell.

"Bind him," he said to the soldiers.

The soldiers advanced slowly, for they were loath to bind the man who
had just saved them from destruction. But the Governor's orders must he
obeyed, so they came towards Tell, carrying ropes with which to bind

Tell moved a step back. The ship was gliding past a lofty rock. It was
such a rock as Tell had often climbed when hunting the chamois. He
acted with the quickness of the hunter. Snatching up the bow and quiver
which lay on the deck, he sprang on to the bulwark of the vessel, and,
with a mighty leap, gained the rock. Another instant, and he was out of

Gessler roared to his bowmen.

"Shoot! shoot!" he cried.

The bowmen hastily fitted arrow to string. They were too late. Tell was
ready before them. There was a hiss as the shaft rushed through the
air, and the next moment Gessler the Governor fell dead on the deck,
pierced through the heart.

Tell's second arrow had found its mark, as his first had done.

[Illustration: PLATE XV]


There is not much more of the story of William Tell. The death of
Gessler was a signal to the Swiss to rise in revolt, and soon the whole
country was up in arms against the Austrians. It had been chiefly the
fear of the Governor that had prevented a rising before. It had been
brewing for a long time. The people had been bound by a solemn oath to
drive the enemy out of the country. All through Switzerland
preparations for a revolution were going on, and nobles and peasants
had united.

Directly the news arrived that the Governor was slain, meetings of the
people were held in every town in Switzerland, and it was resolved to
begin the revolution without delay. All the fortresses that Gessler had
built during his years of rule were carried by assault on the same
night. The last to fall was one which had only been begun a short time
back, and the people who had been forced to help to build it spent a
very pleasant hour pulling down the stones which had cost them such
labour to put in their place. Even the children helped. It was a great
treat to them to break what they pleased without being told not to.

"See," said Tell, as he watched them, "in years to come, when these
same children are gray-haired, they will remember this night as freshly
as they will remember it to-morrow."

A number of people rushed up, bearing the pole which Gessler's soldiers
had set up in the meadow. The hat was still on top of it, nailed to the
wood by Tell's arrow.

"Here's the hat!" shouted Ruodi--"the hat to which we were to bow!"

"What shall we do with it?" cried several voices.

"Destroy it! Burn it!" said others. "To the flames with this emblem of

But Tell stopped them.

"Let us preserve it," he said. "Gessler set it up to be a means
of enslaving the country; we will set it up as a memorial of our
newly-gained liberty. Nobly is fulfilled the oath we swore to drive
the tyrants from our land. Let the pole mark the spot where the
revolution finished."

"But _is_ it finished?" said Arnold of Melchthal. "It is a nice
point. When the Emperor of Austria hears that we have killed his friend
Gessler, and burnt down all his fine new fortresses, will he not come
here to seek revenge?"

"He will," said Tell. "And let him come. And let him bring all his
mighty armies. We have driven out the enemy that was in our land. We
will meet and drive away the enemy that comes from another country.
Switzerland is not easy to attack. There are but a few mountain passes
by which the foe can approach. We will stop these with our bodies. And
one great strength we have: we are united. And united we need fear no

"Hurrah!" shouted everybody.

"But who is this that approaches?" said Tell. "He seems excited.
Perhaps he brings news."

It was Rösselmann the pastor, and he brought stirring news.

"These are strange times in which we live," said Rösselmann, coming up.

"Why, what has happened?" cried everybody.

"Listen, and be amazed."

"Why, what's the matter?"

"The Emperor----"


"The Emperor is dead."

"What! dead?"


"Impossible! How came you by the news?"

"John Müller of Schaffhausen brought it. And he is a truthful man."

"But how did it happen?"

"As the Emperor rode from Stein to Baden the lords of Eschenbach and
Tegerfelden, jealous, it is said, of his power, fell upon him with
their spears. His bodyguard were on the other side of a stream--the
Emperor had just crossed it--and could not come to his assistance. He
died instantly."

By the death of the Emperor the revolution in Switzerland was enabled
to proceed without check. The successor of the Emperor had too much to
do in defending himself against the slayers of his father to think of
attacking the Swiss, and by the time he was at leisure they were too
strong to be attacked. So the Swiss became free.

As for William Tell, he retired to his home, and lived there very
happily ever afterwards with his wife and his two sons, who in a few
years became very nearly as skilful in the use of the cross-bow as
their father.


     Some say the tale related here
       Is amplified and twisted;
     Some say it isn't very clear
       That William Tell existed;
     Some say he freed his country _so_,
       The Governor demolished.
     Perhaps he did. I only know
       That taxes aren't abolished!

       *       *       *       *       *

[The Illustrations and accompanying descriptive verses]


     The Swiss, against their Austrian foes,
       Had ne'er a soul to lead 'em,
     Till Tell, as you've heard tell, arose
       And guided them to freedom.
     Tell's tale we tell again--an act
       For which pray no one scold us--
     This tale of Tell we tell, in fact,
       As this Tell tale was told us.


     Beneath a tyrant foreign yoke,
       How love of freedom waxes!
     (Especially when foreign folk
       Come round collecting taxes.)
     The Swiss, held down by Gessler's fist,
       Would fain have used evasion;
     Yet none there seemed who could resist
       His methods of persuasion.



     And pride so filled this Gessler's soul
       (A monarch's pride outclassing),
     He stuck his hat up on a pole,
       That all might bow in passing.
     Then rose the patriot, William Tell--
       "We've groaned 'neath Austria's sway first;
     Must we be ruled by poles as well?
       I've just a word to say first!"



     The crowd about the pole at morn
       Used various "persuaders"--
     They flung old cans (to prove their scorn
       Of all tin-pot invaders);
     And cabbage-stumps were freely dealt,
       And apples (inexpensive),
     And rotten eggs (to show they felt
       A foreign yoke offensive).



     Said William Tell, "And has this cuss
       For conquest such a passion
     He needs must set his cap at us
       In this exalted fashion?"
     And then the people gave a cry,
       'Twixt joy and apprehension,
     To see him pass the symbol by
       With studied inattention!



     At first the sentinel, aghast,
       Glared like an angry dumb thing;
     Then "Hi!" he shouted, "not so fast,
       You're overlooking something!"
     The sturdy Tell made no response;
       Then through the hills resounded
     A mighty thwack upon his sconce--
       The people were astounded.



     Could Tell an insult such as this
       Ignore or pass? I doubt it!
     No, no; that patriotic Swiss
       Was very cross about it.
     The people, interested now,
       Exclaimed, "Here! Stop a minute
     If there's to be a jolly row,
       By Jingo! we'll be in it!"



     Said Tell, "This satrap of the Duke
       Is sore in need of gumption;
     With my good bow I will rebuke
       Such arrow-gant presumption."
     "Stand back!" the soldier says, says he;
       "This roughness is unseemly!"
     The people cried, "We _will_ be FREE!"
       And so they were--extremely!



     They dealt that soldier thump on thump
       (He hadn't any notion,
     When on Tell's head he raised that bump,
       Of raising this commotion);
     Tell's arrow sped, the people crowed,
       And loudly cheered his action;
     While Tell's expressive features showed
       A certain satisfaction.



     Now, when the cat's away, the mice
       Are very enterprising,
     But cats return, and, in a trice--
       Well, Gessler nipped that rising.
     And when those soldiers lodged complaint
       (Which truly didn't lack ground),
     The people practised self-restraint
       And fell into the background.



     And Tell, before the tyrant hailed,
       No patriot you'd have guessed him,
     For even his stout bosom quailed
       When Gessler thus addressed him:--
     "As you're the crack shot of these Swiss
       (I've often heard it said so),
     Suppose you take a shot at this,
       Placed on your youngster's head--so!"

[Illustration: "I HAVE HERE AN APPLE"]


     "The bearing," as they say, "of that
       Lay in the apple-cation,"
     And nobody will wonder at
       A parent's agitation;
     That anguish filled Tell's bosom proud
       Needs scarcely to be stated,
     And, it will be observed, the crowd
       Was also agitated.



     Said Gessler, "This is all my eye!
       Come, hurry up and _buck_ up!
     Remember, if you miss, you die--
       That ought to keep your pluck up.
     The flying arrow may, no doubt,
       Your offspring's bosom enter--"
     But here there rose a mighty shout:
       "By George! He's scored a centre!"



     But, as the arrow cleft the core,
       Cried G. with indignation,
     "What was the second arrow for?
       Come, no e-quiver-cation!
     You had a second in your fist."
       Said Tell, the missile grippin',
     "This shaft (had I that apple missed)
       Was meant for you, my pippin!"

[Illustration: "SEIZE THAT MAN!" HE SHOUTED]


     With rage the tyrant said, said he,
       "It's time to stop this prating;
     I find your style of repartee
       Extremely irritating.
     You'll hang for this, be pleased to note."
       On this they bound and gagged him
     (For Gessler's castle booked by boat),
       And through the village dragged him.



     But slips between the cup and lip,
       When least expected, peer through--
     A storm arose upon the trip
       Which Tell alone could steer through.
     Thus, of all hands he quickly got
       (As you may see) the upper,
     At Gessler took a parting shot,
       And hurried home to supper.



     Some say the tale related here
       Is amplified and twisted;
     Some say it isn't very clear
       That William Tell existed;
     Some say he freed his country so,
       The Governor demolished.
     Perhaps he did. I only know
       That taxes aren't abolished!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "William Tell Told Again" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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