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CHAPTER V.: THE PARDON. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 3.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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NOW hear what lying tales the Fox dared state,
To screen himself, and others inculpate;
To what base falsehoods utterance he gave,
Slandered his very father in the grave,
Traduced the Badger too, his staunchest friend;
He thought all means were sanctioned by the end;
So he could but get credit for his lies,
And have revenge upon his enemies.
Thus he began: “It chanced that once my sire,
Whose wit and wisdom still the world admire,
Discovered, hid in an obscure retreat,
The treasures of King Emmerick the Great;
It seemed a godsend, but it brought such evil,
’Twas much more likely sent him from the devil.
With his new fortune he waxed haught and proud;
For his old comrades deemed himself too good;
Fancied that by assistance of his pelf
To higher circles he might raise himself;
Conceived ideas the most absurd and vain,
And hatched the strangest maggots in his brain.
He sent off Tybalt to Ardennes’ wild regions
For Bruin, tend’ring him his sworn allegiance;
Inviting him to Flanders to repair,
And promising to make him king when there.
Bruin with vast delight his letter read,
Without delay to Flanders off he sped;
Him did my sire exultingly receive;
And planned how their designs they might achieve.
They got to join them in the enterprise,
Is’grim the Savage, and Graybeard the Wise.
These four in the conspiracy combin’d;
Four persons truly, though but one in mind;
While Tybalt joined their counsels for a fifth:
They journeyed onwards till they came to Ifth;
A little village is there of that name,
Obscure it is and all unknown to fame;
’Twixt this and Ghent, in a sequestered spot,
They met together to arrange their plot.
Over the meeting, which murk night did hide,
The devil and my father did preside;
One o’er their minds with false hopes kept his hold,
One, with the influence of his dirty gold.
Regardless of all loyalty and faith,
They compassed and imagined the king’s death;
The five then swore on Is’grim’s cursed head,
Bruin the Bear should reign in Noble’s stead;
And at Aix-la-Chapelle, upon the throne,
Should bind his temples with the golden crown.
If any one their trait’rous scheme withstood,
Bound to the king by fealty or blood,
Him should my sire with words or bribes persuade,
Or, failing these, call force in to his aid.
I learned the bus’ness in the strangest way;
The Badger had been drinking hard one day,
Th’ uxorious blockhead, though it risked his life,
Told the whole secret to his wheedling wife;
He bound her though to solemn secrecy,
And the fool fancied that he safe would be.
But what are woman’s vows? His wife and mine
Gossips had been together from lang syne;
And when they met, the former, as with child,
Of her grand secret, nodded, smirked and smil’d;
And having made my wife first swear an oath,
By the three kings, and by her faith and troth,
Never to breathe one word to mortal soul,
Relieved her lab’ring bosom of the whole.
My wife was horror-struck, and straightway she
Felt it her duty to tell all to me;
Of course; for moralists have all one mind,
That inofficious vows can never bind.
I saw at once—what man of sense would not?—
The wickedness and folly of the plot:
All living Beasts had gone unto the Dogs,—
And fared, as formerly those stupid Frogs;
Who with their ceaseless croakings worried Heaven,
To change the king who first to them was given;
His tranquil reign inglorious they deemed;
They longed for greater freedom, as it seemed;
Then o’er them to preside Heav’n sent the Stork;
Like a legitimate he set to work;
All who opposed he banished from the State,
Decreed their lands and chattels confiscate;
And while he thus enriched himself, he swore
’Twas all to benefit the church and poor;
While love for law and order he professed,
Freedom in speech and action were repressed;
And none were heard, or suffered, to repine;
Thus did he prove he ruled by right divine.
The poor fools cursed their self-invited fate,
And wished the old king back; but ’twas too late.”
Thus spake the Fox; and lied at ev’ry word,
That all who heard him wondered as they heard.
“The State,” he thus proceeded, “had been lost;
But ’twas your safety, sire, concerned me most:
The risks I ran to save you were immense,
And merited some better recompense.
Bruin’s fell mind I knew; his temper curst,
His love of cruelty forebode the worst;
Our lives, if he had chanced to get the sway,
Had not been worth the purchase of a day.
Our present king enjoys a diff’rent fame;
Noble alike by nature and by name.
A sad and stupid change indeed it were—
A royal Lion for a clownish Bear!
Thus with myself I oft communed in thought;
And means to ward this evil daily sought.
“One thing was certain; if my sire retain’d
This vast amount of wealth at his command,
Hosts of allies together he might bring,
Would win his game, while we should lose our king.
And now my chiefest study was to trace
This secret treasure to its hiding-place;
Then bear it safe away, if so I might;
Of this I dreamed by day and schemed by night.
Wherever now the crafty old one went,
Through field or forest where his steps he bent,
Whether in cold, or heat, or wet, or dry,
Close on his track incessantly was I.
“But chance at length, or rather, Heav’n’s high will,
Procured me what I could not gain by skill.
Concealed behind a bush, one summer’s day,
Chewing the cud of bitter thought, I lay;
Grinding all sorts of plans within my pate,
This treasure to secure, and save the State:
When from a fissure in the rocks hard by,
I saw my father creep out stealthily;
With expectation breathless I lay hid:
While, cautious, he looked round on ev’ry side;
Thought himself safe, perceiving no one near,
And then began his games, as you shall hear.
The hole with sand he filled, and all around
He levelled skilfully th’ adjacent ground;
Nor was this all; before he left the place,
All marks of footsteps he contrived t’ efface:
Bent to the earth, he swished his tail about,
And smoothed it o’er with his elastic snout.
Ah! truly was my sire a wondrous man!
The wide world now may match him, if it can!
How many quips and cranks and wanton wiles
I learned from him, most cunning of old files!
“But to proceed. He quickly left the spot;
‘Here then the treasure is concealed,’ I thought.
I hastened to the rocks with eager soul,
Soon scratched away the sand and cleared the hole,
And down into the cleft with caution stole.
Good heav’ns! what precious things there met my sight!
What masses of red gold and silver white!
The oldest present here, I’m bold to say,
Ne’er saw such stores as I beheld that day.
My wife I brought the glorious sight to see;
To move the treasure hourly labored we;
And sooth, it was a work of toil and pain;
We’d naught to help us,—neither cart nor wain.
My good wife held out bravely to the last,
Till we in safety had the treasure plac’d.
“Meanwhile my sire consulted day by day
With those who sought our sov’reign to betray.
For dread and horror now your souls prepare,
Their machinations base whilst I lay bare.
By Isegrim and Bruin briefs were sent,
To raise recruits and stir up discontent;
All were allured in Bruin’s host to serve;
Whom lucre might from duty tempt to swerve.
And that the call they sooner might obey,
They were assured a month’s advance of pay.
These briefs my father round the country bore;
He deemed in safety he had left his store;
Though if with all his friends he’d searched forever,
He ne’er had found a solitary stiver.
No pains he spared to further the design;
Sought ev’ry spot between the Elbe and Rhine.
And many converts to the cause he made;—
Who largely promises may soon persuade.
“At length the summertide once more was come;
With it returned my weary father home;
Of troubles and mishaps he’d much to tell,
Of many hair-breadth ’scapes by field and fell;
How for his life he had been forced to flee,
Among the towered heights of Saxony;
Where wicked hunters chased him out of spite,
With horse and hound, from morn till starry night;
That scarce he saved his skin by rapid flight.
With joy then to his comrades he display’d
The long list of adherents he had made.
Bruin was charmed, and, with the other four,
Studied th’ important writing o’er and o’er.
Twelve hundred souls of Is’grim’s savage clan
Had pledged themselves to join him to a man;
With sharp and hungry teeth and open jaws,
They promised to support King Bruin’s cause.
The Cats and Bears enrolled without a bribe;
And all the Glutton, all the Badger tribe;
But, less devoted, or more cautious, they
Had bargained for the month’s advance of pay.
All these and many more had sworn t’ attend,
At the first summons which the Bear should send.
By me this plot was foiled: but thanks be given
Not unto me for this; but unto Heaven!
“My sire now hastened to the cave once more;
Eager to tell his cherished treasure o’er:
But, though the firmest faith possessed his mind,
The more he sought the more he did not find.
Vain were his labors, his regrets as vain,
Doomed never to behold his wealth again.
Three days disconsolate he roamed the wood,
Shunning his mates, and never tasting food;
The fourth—sad day for me! although his heir—
He hanged himself from grief and sheer despair.
“Thus have I done, thus suffered, good my lord,
To countervail a plot my soul abhorr’d.
Though for my pains this strange return I get,
The steps I took I never can regret.
Is’grim and Bruin sit at your right hand;
Doomed as a traitor the poor Fox must stand;
But yet this thought shall consolation bring;
I lost my father, but I saved my king.
The ill I’ve done be buried in my grave,
My name this one good deed from infamy shall save.”
He ceased: a murmur ran through all the crowd;
But what all thought, none dared to speak aloud.
The king and queen both felt a strong desire
This wondrous store of treasure to acquire;
They called the Fox aside and bade him say
In what place he had stowed it all away.
Though Reynard found it hard his joy to hide,
Still in desponding accents he replied:
“Why should I tell this secret to my lord,
Who dooms my death and ever doubts my word?
In traitors he prefers his trust to place,
Whose triumph is achieved in my disgrace.”
“Nay,” said the queen, impatient; “nay, not so!
His vengeance just my lord may yet forego,
The past he may forgive, may e’en forget;
And you may live a life of credit yet;
Could he but have some certain pledge, that you
Would for the future loyal prove and true.”
“Ah, gracious queen!” the wily Fox replies,
“Let me find favor in King Noble’s eyes;
Through your mild influence let me pardoned be,
And hence depart in life and member free;
Amply will I atone for all my crimes;
Nor king nor kaiser lives of modern times
Can truly boast one half the wealth to own,
Which I will lay before my sov’reign’s throne.”
“Believe him not!” the angry monarch cries;
“Whose lips ne’er open but to utter lies.
If he would teach you how to cheat or thieve,
His words you then might readily believe.”
And the queen said—“Let not my lord be wroth:
Though Reynard’s life ill augurs for his truth;
Yet surely this time hath he spoken sooth.
His father and his uncle hath he not
Shown to have shared in that accursed plot?
He might have sure devised some stratagem,
While blaming others, to exon’rate them.
And if he do speak truth, how great a prize
We lose, if now with him his secret dies.”
Awhile the monarch paused, immersed in thought,
In his soul’s depths as though he counsel sought.
Then answered—“If you think ’twere better so,
Nor deem that ill from such a course may flow,
I may pursue the bent of my own mind,
To mercy more than vengeance still inclin’d.
The culprit I will pardon, and restore,
As a new man, to all he held before.
This time I trust him—let him though take heed—
This time I trust him, for the last indeed;
For by my father’s crown I make a vow,
If with false tidings he deceive me now,
On all who claim his kin, where’er they be,
My wrath shall fall, e’en to the tenth degree,
In torture shall they perish utterly.”
Seeing the king so easily was sway’d,
Reynard took heart and spake out undismay’d:
“To lie now were most criminal, no doubt;
When I should be so speedily found out.”
Thus the sly knave the royal pardon won,
Both for his father’s treasons and his own.
Freed from the gallows and his enemies,
Great was his joy nor less was their surprise.
“Noblest of kings!” he cried, “and best of lords!
My gratitude is all too vast for words.
But the warm thanks of this poor heart are giv’n
To you, and your august spouse, next to Heav’n.
My life you spare; my wealth is but your due;
For life and wealth belong alike to you.
The favors heaped on my unworthy self
Far, far outweigh all thoughts of paltry pelf.
To you as a free gift I now make o’er
The whole of good King Emmerick’s mighty store.
Then listen, sire, while I its hiding-place
By certain signs enable you to trace.
“Now mark me! Far in Flanders, to the east,
There lies a wild inhospitable waste;
There grows a single copse named Husterlow,
Near it the waters of a fountain flow,
Called Krekelburn; these names remember well;
Why they’re so called is more than I can tell.
It is a savage and romantic scene,
Where foot of Beast hath ne’er or rarely been;
There dwell alone the Owl, the Bat, the Jay;
And there it was I stowed my wealth away.
Remember, sire, close each to each they lie,
The copse, and the spring Krekelburn hard by.
Yourself and royal spouse had best go there,
It were not safe to send a messenger;
’Twere far too great a risk to trust a stranger;
And with the truest friend not much less danger.
Now further mark my words: at Krekelburn
Sharp to the left you take a sudden turn;
A stone’s throw off two birches shall you see,
Their pensile branches drooping gracefully.
Directly up to these then must you go;
There delve forthwith; the treasure lies below.
At first but moss you’ll find about the roots,
But soon your toil will meet with richer fruits;
Heaps of red gold you’ll find; in ingots part,—
Part fabricated by the goldsmith’s art;
Among it will be seen King Emmerick’s crown,
Which silly Bruin hoped to call his own;
And many a costly chain and jewel rare,
Far more than I can reckon up, are there.
Then, gracious sire! when all this wealth you see,
Will you not think with kindness on poor me?
‘That honest Fox!’ methinks I hear you say,
‘With so much skill to store his wealth away!
My blessing be upon him day and night!’ ”
Thus Reynard spake, the wily hypocrite.
And the king answered: “You must with me go,
Or ne’er shall I find out this Husterlow?
Of Lubeck and Cologne I’ve oft heard tell,
Of Paris also and Aix-la-Chapelle;
But never yet of Husterlow before,
Or Krekelburn, until this very hour.
How may I know that this is not again
A pure invention of your subtle brain?”
Sadly perplexed and daunted sore to find
Suspicion haunting still the royal mind;
“Ah, sire!” exclaimed the Fox, “ ’tis all the same
To hang a Dog as give him a bad name!
A trip through Flanders sure is no such burden!
’Tis not a pilgrimage beyond the Jordan!
It is enough to drive one to despair,
To find one’s word so doubted everywhere!
Haply there may be some one here in court
Who may avouch the truth of my report.”
He looked around and called the Hare,—who came—
A timid terror trembling through his frame.
“Come hither, Master Puss!” the Fox began;
“Hold up your head, and look, sir, like a man!
The king desires to learn if aught you know
Of either Krekelburn or Husterlow:
Speak truly now, on your allegiance oath.”
And the Hare answered—“Sire! I know them both.
Far off in Flanders in the waste they lie,
Husterlow first, and Krekelburn close by:
Husterlow is the name they give a copse,
Where crookback Simon had his working shops;
He coined false money; that was years ago.
It is a dreary spot, as well I know;
From cold and hunger there I’ve suffered much,
When flying from the cruel Beagles’ clutch.”
Quoth Reynard then: “Enough! you may retire.
I trust I now have satisfied you, sire!”
And the king said to Reynard: “Be content:
My doubts were not to wound your feelings meant.”
(He thought indeed by what the Hare had stated
The Fox’s tale was quite corroborated.
And thus it is that many a man of sense
Will deal with the effect of evidence.)
“But you must with us go; for much I doubt
That else I ne’er shall find the treasure out.”
“Dread sire!” rejoined the Fox; “to go with you
Would be a source of pride and pleasure too!
But, sooth to speak, my company would be
A cause of sorrow to your majesty.
I hoped to ’scape exposure of this evil;
But I must speak the truth and shame the devil.
“How Isegrim turned monk, sire, you have heard;
’Twas more to serve his belly, than the Lord.
Soon were his brethren weary of his tricks;
Almost starved out; he ate enough for six;
And caring nothing for his wretched soul,
For flesh on fast days would he rave and howl.
At last, one afternoon, about mid-Lent,
He sent for me, and straight to him I went:
And I must needs confess that I was stagger’d
To see him look so sadly gaunt and haggard.
He thus entreated me, with tearful eyes,
By all our loves, by all our kindred ties:
‘Get me some food, or I shall die of famine!
Sweet coz, you see the wretched plight I am in.’
My heart was softened; for he is my kin;
And in my weakness I committed sin:
To the next town I hied and stole some meat;
Placed it before the Wolf, and he did eat.
But for my goodness ill was I repaid,
By this vile Judas treach’rously betray’d.
And I, for this offence, more heinous than
All my past crimes, lie ’neath the church’s ban.
But now I have escaped my threatened doom,
I thought, with your kind leave, to wend to Rome;
By penitence and alms I there might hope
To purchase absolution of the pope;
Thence, having kissed his holiness’s toe,
I purposed to Jerusalem to go;
With cockle hat and staff and sandal shoon;
Why should a Fox not take a Palmer’s tone?
Returned, from all sins purged, I might with pride
Then take my place, sire, at your honored side.
But, if perchance I ventured this to-day,
Would not the pious scandalmongers say:
‘Lo! how the king seeks Reynard’s company,
Whom he so lately had condemned to die;
And he still excommunicated too!’
But judge you, sire, what may be best to do.”
“Heav’ns!” cried the king, “how should I know all this?
It were a sin to keep you here, I wis;
The Hare, or some one else, can show the way:
You have our leave to go without delay.
For worlds I’d not your pilgrimage prevent,
Since I believe you truly penitent.
May Heaven, which alone your heart can read,
Prosper your purpose and your journey speed!”