As this involuntary twitching would not forsake her, and often seduced her to a little skip before she was aware, she caused her tender feet to be fastened together by a light chain. Her relatives and friends marveled day and night at the transformation, rejoiced to possess such a saint, and guarded the hermitage under the trees as the apple of their eye. Many came for her counsel and intercession.
In particular, they used to bring young girls to her who were rather clumsy on their feet, for it was observed that everyone whom she touched at once became light and graceful in gait.
So she spent three years in her cell, but by the end of the third year Musa had become almost as thin and transparent as a summer cloud. She lay continually on her bed of moss, gazed wistfully into Heaven, and was convinced that she could already see the golden sandals of the blessed, dancing and gliding about through the azure.
At last one harsh autumn day the tidings spread that the
Musa found no time to wonder at all this until the dance, which lasted a pretty long time, was over; for the merry gentleman seemed to enjoy himself as much as the maid, who felt as if she were dancing about in heaven. But when the music ceased and Musa stood there panting, she began to be frightened in good earnest, and looked in astonishment at the ancient, who was neither out of breath nor warm, and who now began to speak. He introduced himself as David, the Virgin Mary’s royal ancestor, and her ambassador. He asked if she would like to pass eternal bliss in an unending pleasure dance, compared with which the dance they had just finished could only be called a miserable crawl.
To this she promptly answered that she would like nothing better. Whereupon the blessed King David said again that in that case she had nothing more to do than to renounce all pleasure and all dancing for the rest of her days on earth and devote herself wholly to penance and spiritual exercises,
Gottfried Keller (1819 – 1890)
Keller, one of the most distinguished writers of Switzerland, is claimed by the Germans because he wrote in their language. The son of a Swiss mechanic, he spent a dreamy and aimless youth. He lived a great part of his life in Zurich. It was not until after his death that he was recognized as one of the masters of German literature. Professor Thomas declares that his “books are on the whole the very best reading to be found in the whole range of Nineteenth Century
German fiction.” He wrote almost entirely of his beloved Switzerland. His Seven Legends (1872), in which A Legend of the Dance first appeared, is one of his most beautiful books.
The present version, translated by Martin Wyness, is reprinted, by permission of the publishers, from Seven Legends, Gowans & Gray, Glasgow, 1911.
A Legend of the Dance
According to Saint Gregory, Musa was the dancer among the saints. The child of good
Yet he said in scorn as he passed, “Monsieur, Dieu vous garde!” “O thou foul red villain!” said the bear to himself. “What impudence can equal thine?” But the fox continued his speech: “What, uncle, have you forgotten everything at Lanfert’s, or have you paid for the honeycombs you stole? I would rather pay for them myself than that you should incur any disgrace, the honey was good, you may have plenty more at the same price. If Good uncle, tell me before I go, into what order you mean to enter, that you wear this new fashioned hood?
Will you be a monk, an abbot, or a friar? He that shaved your crown seems also to have cropped your ears; your forelock is lost, and your leather gloves are gone. Fie, sloven! go not bareheaded! They say you can sing peccavi rarely.” These taunts made Bruin mad with rage; but because he could not take revenge, he was obliged to let him talk on. At last, to avoid him, he plunged again into the river and landed on the other sid
All these so belabored the poor bear that his life was in extreme jeopardy; he sat and sighed sadly during the massacre, but the thundering weight of Lanfert’s fierce blows was the most cruel to bear; for Dame Podge, at Casport, was his mother, and his father was Marob, the staplemaker, a passing stout man when he was alone. From him Bruin received such a shower of stones, at the same time that Lanfert’s brother wielded him a savage blow upon the pate, that he could no longer see nor hear, but made a desperate plunge into the adjoining river, through a cluster of old wives standing by, many of whom he threw into the water, which was broad and deep, among whom was the parson’s wife.
Seeing her floating there like a seamew, the holy man left off striking the bear, crying out, “Help, oh, help! Dame Jullock is in the water! I absolve the man, woman, or child that saves her, from all their sins and transgressions, past and to come, and I remit all penance.” Hearing th
With all haste the bear entered the tree with his fore feet forward, and thrust his head into the hole quite over the ears. When the fox saw this, he instantly ran and pulled the wedges out of the tree, so that the bear remained locked fast. Neither flattery nor anger now availed the bear, for his nephew’ had got him in so fast a prison, that it was impossible to free himself by any maneuver.
What profited him his great strength and valor now? They only served to irritate and annoy him; and deprived of all relief, he began to howl and bray, to scratch and tumble, and make such a noise, that Lanfert came running hastily out of the house to see what was the matter. He held a sharp hook in his hand, and while the bear lay tearing and roaring in the tree, the fox cried out in scorn, “He is coming, uncle! I fear you will not like the honey; is it good? Do not eat too much; pleasant things are apt to surfeit, and you will delay your journey back to court. If your belly
“Ay!” quoth Bruin; “honeycombs, do you say? Hold you them in such slight respect, nephew? Why, sir, it is food for the greatest emperors in the world. Help me, fair nephew, to some of these honeycombs, and command me while I live; for only a small share I will be your servant everlastingly.” “You are jesting with me, surely, uncle,” replied the fox. “Jest with you!” cried Bruin; “bestrew my heart, then; for I am in such serious good earnest, that for a single lick of the same you shall count me among the most faithful of your kindred.”
“Nay, if you be,” returned Reynard, “I will bring you where ten of you would not be able to eat the whole at a meal. This I do out of friendship, for I wish to have yours in return, which above all things I desire.” “Not ten of us,” cried the bear, “not ten of us! it is impossible; for had I all the honey between Hybla and Portugal, I could eat the whole of it very shortly myself.”
Anonymous: about 1230
Nothing is known of the writer of the first version of the celebrated Reynard the Fox. The problem of the origin of the book is complicated, but it is generally agreed that a series of incidents attributed to an Alsatian writer of the late Twelfth Century was the basis of the book as it stands in the version here used.
This was printed in 1498, though it was probably written about 1230. Reynard was soon afterwards translated into nearly every language of Europe. The book, in one form or another, has been a popular favourite among all classes of readers, and has for centuries been rewritten to suit the tastes of each generation.
The present version, translated by Thomas Roscoe, is reprinted from Roscoe’s German Novelists, London, no date. It is Chapter IV of The Pleasant History of Reynard the Fox. The full title of the chapter is How Bruin the Bear Sped with Reynard the Fox, followed by a brief description.
Bruin The B
He looked on the maid right sweetly, and he said, “I will not cease to serve them. Never, while I live, will I lay head on pillow, till I have brought their desire to pass. For love of thee, dear lady, I will do this.”
And every day of twelve, in the sight of all the people, the youth walked by the side of the maiden as she went to the court. So they showed their love to the knight.
Merriment and Gladness
And there was merriment and gladness and delight in the hall of Gunther, without and within, among the valiant men. Ortwin and Hagen did many wonderful deeds, and if any devised a sport, warriors, joyous in strife, welcomed it straightway. So were the knights proven before the guests, and they of Gunther’s land won glory. The wounded also came forth to take part with their comrades, to skirmish with the buckler, and to shoot the shaft, and waxed strong thereby, and increased their might.
Gunther gave order that, for the term of the high tide
Thinking thus he waxed oft white and red; yea, graceful and proud stood the son of Sieglind, goodliest of heroes to behold, as he were drawn on parchment by the skill of a cunning master. And the knights fell back as the escort commanded, and made way for the high hearted women, and gazed on them with glad eyes. Many a dame of high degree was there. Said bold Sir Gernot, the Burgundian, then, “Gunther, dear brother, unto the gentle knight, that hath done thee service, show honor now before thy lieges. Of this counsel I shall never shame me.