Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 4

The exhausted and famished tenor sings to the capon hanging outside an upper window, as he inhales the appetizing aroma of the roast cooking in the kitchen on the ground floor, and while he scratches and scrapes his violin a dog sets up a howl, boys stand and jeer, and the curious rise from the table and with mouths full appear at the windows.

Alas! alas! what cruel contrasts and what bitter ironies! The tightened heartstrings respond with the one pitiful note, “The penny for food.”

Instead of experiencing a feeling of irritation at all these discordant voices and all these instruments of auricular torment, my heart turned in unconscious admiration toward this superhuman art which is the refuge of derelict creatures too old or not old enough to work; toward this much-outraged melody which obtains for unfortunate humanity the crust of bread, otherwise sought often in vain from the charity of fellowman, and which although offending the ear gives compensation by

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 3

What strange subterranean passages of sentiment and tone, from the lively airs of the opera-bouffe to the plaintive entreaties directed toward deserted windows!

“Signori, something for charity’s sake! Take compassion on a poor unfortunate!”

And what an extraordinary and incredible mutilation and confusion of musical motives and words which give the impression of the bewildering song of a dreamer or the delirium of a musical maniac!

There came often a whole family, father, mother, and a nestful of children, who stood in a group in the center of the court and sang all together with wide-open mouths, each one on his own account, like a shipwrecked family on a raft calling desperately for succor to a far-off vessel.

Perfectly motionless

I remember also a diminutive hunchback who used to play upon a trombone larger than himself, out of which, with closed eyes, he blew distressing and threatening notes having no connection at all

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 2

Evidences of poverty and misery and signs, of a life of hardship were manifested by the instruments themselves; the voice of weariness and anguish cried out in the squeaking violins, the discordant harps, the coughing and wheezing flutes and trombones, and the loosely strung tambourines held out by tired hands to receive charity.

From time to time I heard a voice melodious, but impaired by ill- usage, the remains of a former glory, which drew the curious to the window and gave their faces an expression of sorrow that such a precious article should be destroyed. The accent and modulation were those of the stage, and the story could be readily divined: from the theater to the cafe, from the cafe to the tavern, from the tavern to the courtyard, and then to the hospital. And was it strange that the singer continued in adversity to ask bread of the art which had so lavishly provided for him in better days, when so many without voice, without ear, without musical sense, resort t

Read More

Mendicant Melody part 1

Edmondo De Amicis (1846— 1908)

De Amicis is best known to the world as the author of the children’s classic, Cuore. De Amicis was a follower of the tradition of Manzoni, and wrote graceful travel books and novels, short stories and poems. Of his delicately conceived tales, Mendicant Melody is one of the most charming. It forms a fitting contrast to the wild and savage beauty of D’Annunzio.

The present version is translated by Walter Brooks, and is reprinted from his volume, Retold in English. Copyright, 1905, by Brentano’s, by whose permission, and that of Signor Ugo de Amicis, it is here included.

Mendicant Melody

I wonder who is the sadder in this world of hunger, he who sings or he who listens?

I often think how much of this sadness I witnessed sitting by my study window in the house in which I spent fifteen years of my life, and looking out into the courtyard where the compassion of the landlord permitted all the sing

Read More

The Four Friends

Jean De La Fontaine (1621-1695)

One of the great figures of the age of Louis XIV, Jean de La Fontaine was born at Chateau-Thierry in 1621. He studied at Rheims and Paris, though he returned to his home afterward. In 1647 he married and entered the government service.

He left his wife shortly after his marriage, and placed himself under the protection of several persons of rank and power. In 1668 the first collection of his Fables was pub­lished, and the following year his Tales in verse. He wrote a romance and several plays besides, was elected to membership in the French Academy, and died in 1695.

La Fontaine’s Fables are by all counts his greatest achievement. These are, in the words of Lanson, “a picture of human life and French society.” Based on disop and Phasdrus and the other fabulists, the little masterpieces of La Fontaine are highly artistic literary perfor­mances. The Four Friends represents the ultimate perfection of this type of

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 2

“God!” said he, “if any one now should cry ‘Gee up!’ ” He thought and spoke the words at the same moment, whereat the mare was sud­denly frighted, and springing forward on the instant tumbled the luck­less priest into the bush where the thorns and briars grew sharpest and thickest. There he lay in that uneasy bed, nor might move from one side to the other, backwards or forwards, for all the money in the mint.

The mare galloped straight to her own stable, but when the priest’s household saw her return in this fashion they were greatly discomforted. The servants cursed her for an evil and a luckless jade, whilst the cook maid swooned like any dame, for well she believed that her master was dead.

When they were returned a little to themselves they ran to and fro, here and there, about the country searching for the priest, and presently on their way to the market town they drew near to that bush where their master yet lay in much misease. On hearing

Read More

The Priest and the Mulberries part 1

The Priest and the Mulberries

Anonymous: 12th or 13th Century

Practically nothing is known of the author of this pleasant little Fabliau. Compared with the great majority of surviving stories of its kind, it is remarkably free from the coarseness which characterizes the Fabliau, particularly when it deals with the clergy.

The present version is translated by Eugene Mason, in the volume Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. Published in Everyman’s Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, by whose permission it is here reprinted. The title of the story in the original is The Priest Who Ate Mulberries.

The Priest and the Mulberries

A certian priest having need to go to market, caused his mare to be saddled and brought to his door. The mare had carried her master for two years, and was high and well nourished, for during these years never had she known thirst nor hunger, but of hay and of oats ever had she enough and

Read More

The Matron of Ephesus

Petronius (Died 66 A.D.)

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was born some time early in the First Century of the Christian era, and committed suicide in the year 66. Writer, government official, dilettante and friend of Nero, he “had idled into fame,” as Tacitus tells us. His best-known work, The Satyricon, is a strange straggling sort of satirical novel, into which he introduced this short masterpiece, The Matron of Ephesus. The tale is supposed to be in the manner of one of the so-called lost Milesian Tales, a collection renowned for its cynical oudook on humanity in general and woman in particular. This brief story (in one form or another) is to be found running through all literature, especially the literature written by men. The present version is a revision (by the editors) of two older versions.

The Matron of Ephesus

From The Satyricon

A certain matron of Ephesus was so notably pure that women came from afar to look upon her. When her husb

Read More

The Jackal

The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he medi

Read More

Horatius at the Bridge

Ancient Rome

It is a commonplace of literary history that Roman art was largely imitated or derived from the Greek, and in particular that Roman literature contributed little to the world’s store of masterpieces. Yet among the Romans the short story was esteemed more highly and was often more skillfully developed than it was among the Greeks.

The first of the stories chosen is from the historian Livy. Before his day there is very little material from which to select, although if the earlier writers of epic and history were better known to us, we might have found stories in the works of Livius Andronicus, Ennius, and the historians, most of whose writings have been lost. In the Letters of Cicero are numerous incidents falling within our category, but none of them of sufficient intrinsic interest to warrant their inclusion in this volume. Livy’s History abounds in episodes, many of them related with a certain matter-of-factness that characterizes a great deal

Read More

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

Herodotus (484—424 B.C.)

Herodotus, the Father of History, is celebrated as a teller of tales. These he introduced into his History partly for purposes of elucidation and example, but partly also because he enjoyed writing them. The story that follows is, according to Professor Murray “all but pure fairy” tale, and is probably based on an Indian original. For the first time in Greek literature we have a short story as unified and free from unessential details as the most rigid modern critic could desire.

The present version, which comprises Chapter CXXI of the Second Book of the History, is from the standard translation by George Rawimson, first published in 1858. There is no title in the original.

King Rhampsinitus and the Thief

King Rhampsinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver—indeed to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, surpassed or even equaled his wealth. For the better custody of thi

Read More

Little Briarrose part 3

After long, long years, there came again a kings’ son to that country, and heard how an old man told about the briar hedge; that there was a castle behind it, in which a wonderfully beautiful king’s daughter called Briar Rose had been sleeping for a hundred years, and that the king and the queen and all the court were sleeping with her. He knew, too, from his grandfather that many kings’ sons had already come and tried to get through the briar hedge, but had all been caught in it and died a sad death. Then I lie young man said, “I am not afraid. I will go and see the beautiful Briar Rose.” The good old man might warn him as much as he pleased; lie did not listen to his words.

But now the hundred years were just passed, and the day was come when Briar Rose was to wake again. So when the king’s son went up In l lie briars, they were just great beautiful flowers that opened of their own accord and let him through unhurt; and behind him they closed together as a he

Read More

Little Briarrose part 2

The king, who wanted to save his dear child from harm, sent out an order that all the spindles in the kingdom should be burned. But in the girl the gifts of the wise women were all fulfilled; for she was so beautiful, good, kind, and sensible, that nobody who saw her could help loving her. It happened that just on the day when she was fifteen years old the king and queen were not at home, and the little girl was left quite alone in the castle. Then she went wherever she pleased, looked in the rooms and chambers, and at last she got to an old tower.

She went up the narrow winding stairs, and came to a little door. In the keyhole was a rusty key, and when she turned it the door sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, and spun busily her flax. “Good day, Aunty,” said the king’s daughter; ‘What are you doing there?” “I am spinning,” said the old woman, and nodded.

“What sort of a thing is that that jumps about so gaily

Read More

Little Briarrose part 1

Jakob Grimm (1775 – 1863) Wilhelm Grimm (1776 – 1859)

The Brothers Grimm, as they are still affectionately called, were both scholars of high repute, and both professors at the University of Berlin.

Though they contributed a great deal to the science of philology and the history of literature, their fame rests chiefly on their collections of folktales, issued under the title Children’s and Household Stories, in 1812 and 1814. These were the result of personal investigation and travel.

Little Briar Rose is only one of their many charming tales. It is to be observed that in the work of the Brothers Grimm the writers have molded each story with a conscious art: they are not to be classified as scientists, but artists.

The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an undated London edition of the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Little Briarrose

(From Children’s and Household Stories)

Read More

The Fury part 12

She laid the handkerchief in the basket, and also the cross, and closed the lid. But when he looked into her face, he started. Great heavy drops were rolling down her cheeks; she let them flow unheeded.
“Maria Santissima!” he cried. “Are you ill? You are trembling from head to foot!”

“It is nothing,” she said; “I must go home”; and with unsteady steps she was moving to the door, when suddenly she leaned her brow against the wall, and gave way to a fit of bitter sobbing. Before he could go to her she turned upon him suddenly, and fell upon his neck.

“I cannot bear it!” she cried, clinging to him as a dying thing to life—“I cannot bear it! I cannot let you speak so kindly, and bid me go, with all this on my conscience. Beat me! trample on me! curse me! Or if it can be that you love me still, after all I have done to you, take me and keep me, and do with me as you please; only do not send me away so!” She could say no more for sobbing.

Read More