« AnteriorContinuar »
tinued at intervals, rap — rap - rap! — with a dull, low sound, as if something heavy were swinging against the panel ; for the wind had risen during the night, and every angry gust that swept down the alley swung the arms of the lifeless sacristan against the door. At length Martin Franc mustered courage enough to dress himself and go down, while his wife followed him with a lamp in her hand: but no sooner had he lifted the latch, than the ponderous body of Friar Gui fell stark and heavy into his arms.
"Jesu Maria !” exclaimed Marguerite, crossing herself; “ here is the monk again!”
Yes, and dripping wet, as if he had just been dragged out of the river!”
Oh, we are betrayed !” exclaimed Margue
rite in agony.
ance for thy negligence. The prior calls for thee at his cell!” continued the monk, growing angry, and shaking the sacristan by the shoulder.
But still no answer. “ Then, by Saint Anthony, I 'll wake thee!”
And saying this, he dealt the sacristan a heavy box on the ear. The body bent slowly forward from its erect position, and, giving a headlong plunge, sank with a heavy splash into the basin of the fountain. The monk waited a few moments in expectation of seeing Friar Gui rise dripping from his cold bath; but he waited in vain ; for he lay motionless at the bottom of the basin, — his eyes open, and his ghastly face distorted by the ripples of the water. With a beating heart the monk stooped down, and, grasping the skirt of the sacristan's habit, at length succeeded in drawing him from the water. All efforts, however, to resuscitate him were unavailing. The monk was filled with terror, not doubting that the friar had died untimely by his hand; and as the animosity between them was no secret in the convent, he feared that, when the deed was known, he should be accused of murder. He therefore looked round for an expedient to relieve himself from the dead body; and the well-known character of the sacristan soon suggested one. He determined to carry the body to the house of the most noted beauty of Rouen, and leave it on the door-step; so that all suspicion of the murder might fall upon the shoulders of some jealous husband. The beauty of Martin Franc's wife had penetrated even the thick walls of the convent, and there was not a friar in the whole abbey of Saint Anthony who had not done penance for his truant imagination. Accordingly, the dead body of Friar Gui was laid upon the monk's brawny shoulders, carried back to the house of Martin Franc, and placed in an erect position against the door. The monk knocked loud and long; and then, gliding through a by-lane, stole back to the convent.
A troubled conscience would not suffer Martin Franc and his wife to close their eyes; but they lay awake lamenting the doleful events of
The knock at the door sounded like a death-knell in their ears. It still con
“ Then the Devil himself has betrayed us,” replied Martin Franc, disengaging himself from the embrace of the sacristan; “for I met not a living being; the whole city was as silent as the grave."
“ Saint Martin defend us !” continued his terrified wife. Here, take this scapulary to guard you from the Evil One; and lose no time. You must throw the body into the river, or we are lost! Holy Virgin! How bright the moon shines !”
Saying this, she threw round his neck a scapulary, with the figure of a cross on one end, and an image of the Virgin on the other ; and Martin Franc again took the dead friar upon his shoulders, and with fearful misgivings departed on his dismal errand. He kept as much as possible in the shadow of the houses, and had nearly reached the quay, when suddenly he thought he heard footsteps behind him. He stopped to listen; it was no vain imagination ; they came along the pavement, tramp, tramp! and every step grew louder and
Martin Franc tried to quicken his pace, - but in vain : his knees smote together and he staggered against the wall. His hand relaxed its grasp, and the monk slid from his back and stood ghastly and straight beside him, supported by chance against the shoulder of his bearer. At that moment a man round the corner, tottering beneath the weight of a huge sack. As his head was bent down
wards, he did not perceive Martin Franc till he was close upon him ; and when, on looking up, he saw two figures standing motionless in the shadow of the wall, he thought himself waylaid, and, without waiting to be assaulted, dropped the sack from his shoulders and ran off at full speed. The sack fell heavily on the pavement, and directly at the feet of Martin Franc. In the fall the string was broken; and out came the bloody head, not of a dead monk, as it first seemed to the excited imagination of Martin Franc, but of a dead hog! When the terror and surprise caused by this singular event had a little subsided, an idea came into the mind of Martin Franc, very similar to what would have come into the mind of almost any person in similar circumstances. He took the hog out of the sack, and putting the body of the monk into its place, secured it well with the remnants of the broken string, and then hurried homeward with the animal upon his shoulders.
He was hardly out of sight when the man with the sack returned, accompanied by two others. They were surprised to find the sack still lying on the ground, with no one near it, and began to jeer the former bearer, telling him he had been frightened at his own shadow on the wall. Then one of them took the sack upon his shoulders without the least suspicion of the change that had been made in its contents, and all three disappeared.
Now it happened that the city of Rouen was at that time infested by three street robbers, who walked in darkness like the pestilence, and always carried the plunder of their midnight marauding to the Tête-de-Bauf, a little tavern in one of the darkest and narrowest lanes of the city. The host of the Tête-deBæuf was privy to all their schemes, and had an equal share in the profits of their nightly excursions. He gave a helping hand, too, by the length of his bills, and by plundering the pockets of any chance traveller that was luckless enough to sleep under his roof.
On the night of the disastrous adventure of Friar Gui, this little marauding party had been prowling about the city until a late hour, without finding anything to reward their labors. At length, however, they chanced to
spy a hog, hanging under a shed in a butcher's yard, in readiness for the next day's market; and as they were not very fastidious in selecting their plunder, but, on the contrary, rather addicted to taking whatever they could lay their hands on, the hog was straightway purloined, thrust into a large sack, and sent to the Tête-de-Beuf on the shoulders of one of the party, while the other two continued their nocturnal excursion. It was this person who had been so terrified at the appearance of Martin Franc and the dead monk ; and as this encounter had interrupted any further operations of the party, the dawn of day being now near at hand they all repaired to their gloomy den in the Tête - de - Boeuf. The host was impatiently waiting their return; and, asking what plunder they had brought with them, proceeded without delay to remove it from the sack. The first thing that presented itself, on untying the string, was the monk's hood.
6 The devil take the devil ! ” cried the host, as he opened the neck of the sack; “what's this? Your hog wears a cowl !”
“ The poor fellow has become disgusted with the world, and turned monk!” said he who held the light, a little surprised at seeing the head covered with a coarse gray
cloth. “ Sure enough he has," exclaimed another, starting back in dismay, as the shaven crown and ghastly face of the friar appeared. · Holy St. Benedict be with us! It is a monk stark dead!"
“A dead monk, indeed!” said a third, with an incredulous shake of the head; “how could a dead monk get into this sack? No, no; there is some sorcery in this. I have heard it said that Satan can take any shape he pleases; and you may rely upon it this is Satan himself, who has taken the shape of a monk to get us all hanged."
" Then we had better kill the devil than have the devil kill us!” replied the host, crossing himself ; and the sooner we do it the better; for it is now daylight, and the people will soon be passing in the street."
“So say I," rejoined the man of magic; " and my advice is, to take him to the butcher's yard, and hang him up in the place where we found the hog."
This proposition so pleased the others that it was executed without delay. They carried the friar to the butcher's house, and, passing a strong cord round his neck, suspended him to a beam in the shed, and there left him.
When the night was at length past, and daylight began to peep into the eastern windows of the city, the butcher arose, and prepared himself for market. He was casting up in his mind what the hog would bring in his stall, when, looking upward, lo! in its place he recognized the dead body of Friar Gui.
“ By St. Denis ! ” quoth the butcher. “I always feared that this friar would not die quietly in his cell ; but I never thought I should find him hanging under my own roof. This must not be ; it will be said that I murdered him, and I shall pay for it with my life. I must contrive some way to get rid of him.”
So saying, he called his man, and, showing him what had been done, asked him how he should dispose of the body so that he might not be accused of murder. The man, who was of a ready wit, reflected a moment, and then answered, —
“ This is indeed a difficult matter; but there is no evil without its remedy. We will place the friar on horseback
6. What! a dead man on horseback ? — impossible !" interrupted the butcher.
66 Who ever heard of a dead man on horseback!”
“Hear me out, and then judge. We must place the body on horseback as well as we may, and bind it fast with cords; and then set the horse loose in the street, and pursue him, crying out that the monk has stolen the horse. Thus all who meet him will strike him with their staves as he passes, and it will be thought that he came to his death in that way.”
Though this seemed to the butcher rather a mad project, yet, as no better one offered itself at the moment, and there was no time for reflection, mad as the project was, they determined to put it into execution. Accordingly the butcher's horse was brought out, and the friar was bound upon his back, and with much difficulty fixed in an upright position. The butcher then gave the horse a blow upon the crupper with his staff, which set him into a smart gallop down the street, and he and his man joined in pursuit, crying,
“Stop thief! Stop thief! The friar has stolen my horse!”
As it was now sunrise, the streets were full of people,
peasants driving their goods to market, and citizens going to their daily avo
cations. When they saw the friar dashing at full speed down the street, they joined in the cry of “Stop thief! — Stop thief !” and many who endeavored to seize the bridle, as the friar passed them at full speed, were thrown upon the pavement, and trampled under foot; others joined in the halloo and the pursuit; but this only served to quicken the gallop of the frightened steed, who dashed down one street and up another like the wind, with two or three mounted citizens clattering in full cry at his heels. At length they reached the market
place. The people scattered right and left in dismay; and the steed and rider dashed onward, overthrowing in their course men and women, and stalls, and piles of merchandise, and sweeping away like a whirlwind. Tramp — tramp — tramp! they clattered on ; they had distanced all pursuit. They reached the quay; the wide pavement was cleared at a bound, one more wild leap, and splash! both horse and rider sank into the rapid current of the river, swept down the stream, and were seen no more !
THE VILLAGE OF AUTEUIL.
Il n'est tel plaisir
THE sultry heat of summer always brings with it, to the idler and the man of leisure, a longing for the leafy shade and the green luxuriance of the country. It is pleasant to interchange the din of the city, the movement of the crowd, and the gossip of society, with the silence of the hamlet, the quiet seclusion of the grove, and the gossip of a woodland brook. As is sung
in the old ballad of Robin Hood,
“ In somer, when the shawes be sheyn,
And leves be large and long,
To here the foulys song;
And leve the hilles hee,
Vnder the grene wode tre.”
with green hedge-rows, and overshadowed by tall poplars, leads you from the noisy highway of St. Cloud and Versailles to the still retirement of this suburban hamlet. On either side the eye discovers old châteaux amid the trees, and green parks, whose pleasant shades recall a thousand images of La Fontaine, Racine, and Molière ; and on an eminence, overlooking the windings of the Seine, and giving a beautiful though distant view of the domes and gardens of Paris, rises the village of Passy, long the residence of our countrymen Franklin and Count Rumford.
I took up my abode at a maison de santé ; not that I was a valetudinarian, but because I there found some one to whom I could whisper, “ How sweet is solitude !” Behind the house was a garden filled with fruit-trees of various kinds, and adorned with gravel-walks and green arbors, furnished with tables and rustic seats, for the repose of the invalid and the sleep of the indolent. Here the inmates of the rural hospital met on common ground, to breathe the invigorating air of morning, and while away the lazy noon or vacant evening with tales of the sick-chamber.
The establishment was kept by Dr. Dentdelion, a dried-up little fellow, with red hair, a
It was a feeling of this kind that prompted me, during my residence in the North of France, to pass one of the summer months at Auteuil, the pleasantest of the many little villages that lie in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis. It is situated on the outskirts of the Bois de Boulogne, a wood of some extent, in whose green alleys the dusty cit enjoys the luxury of an evening drive, and gentlemen meet in the morning to give each other satisfaction in the usual way. A cross-road, skirted