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CHAPTER X.: THE SECOND 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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THE SECOND PARDON.
“MY liege!” thus ran the Fox’s crafty speech;
“Before my friends a hearing I beseech;
What treasures let them learn for you were sent;
For though ’twas foiled, yet good was mine intent;
On me the blame falls not, but on the thief.”
“Say on,” the monarch answered, “but be brief.”
“Honor and Faith, alas! from earth have fled!”
With well-dissembled grief then Reynard said:
“The first of these choice jewels was a ring;
Designed a special present for my king.
Of finest, purest gold this ring was cast;
Yet was the substance by the work surpass’d;
E’en the crown jewels ’twould not have disgrac’d.
On th’ inner side, that next the finger worn,
Engraven letters did the hoop adorn;
Three Hebrew words of meaning strange they were;
Few in this land could read the character.
To Master Abryon of Triers alone,
The meaning of those mystic words was known:
He is a wise and very learned Jew,
Skilled in all tongues ’twixt Luen’burg and Poitou;
With stones and herbs is he acquainted well;
Knows of what use each one is capable.
He said, when unto him I showed the ring:
‘Concealed here lies full many a curious thing;
These three engraven names, from paradise
Were brought of yore by Seth, the good and wise;
When he, of coming ills to man foretaught,
In Eden’s bow’rs the oil of mercy sought.
Who on his finger wears this ring shall be
From ev’ry risk and peril always free;
Lightning nor thunderbolt nor magic charm
Shall potent be to work him woe or harm.’
And furthermore the cunning master said,
Whose finger bore that ring, so he had read,
Should never freeze in winter’s direst cold,
And calmly live in years and honors old.
“On th’ outer side was set a precious stone,
A brilliant carbuncle by night that shone,
And, with its clear and phosphorescent ray,
All things discovered, plain as it were day.
Great pow’rs too had this stone the sick to heal;
Whoso but touched it free from crime should feel;
Nor grief nor trouble could his mind disturb;
The pow’r of death alone it could not curb.
And the sage master unto me made known
The further virtues of this wondrous stone;
As thus: the proud possessor of the gem
Both fire and water may alike contemn;
Safe from the power of each enemy,
Betrayed or captured can he never be.
If fasting, on the stone he gaze, fourscore
Of foes shall he o’ercome in fight, and more.
The virtues of that jewel can reduce
The strength of poison and each deadly juice.
Hate it at once will quell; nay, e’en will often
The hearts of those you have befriended soften.
“But who could count this jewel’s virtues o’er?
I found it haply ’mong my father’s store;
And kept it ever sacred for my king:
Myself I knew unworthy such a ring.
Of right it appertained to him alone,
Whose virtues shed a lustre on his throne;
On whom depend our hopes and welfare still,
Whose life I’ve ever guarded, ever will.
“I trusted also, luckless that I am!
A comb and mirror to that treach’rous Ram.
I hoped that they accepted might have been,
As a memorial, by my gracious queen.
They were, in sooth, most precious works of art,
And formed too of my father’s hoard a part.
Coverted were they greatly by my wife,
And caused, alas! between us, frequent strife;
She fairly longed for them, she used to say;
But yet I ne’er a single inch gave way.
“Both comb and mirror I, with best intent,
Unto my gracious lady freely sent.
A benefactress kind in her I see;
From evil hath she ever shielded me;
When sland’rous charges ’gainst me were preferr’d,
She oft hath interposed a friendly word.
Royal she is by qualities and birth;
And both by words and works she proves her worth.
None so deserved those treasures as my queen;
And yet their beauty hath she never seen;
And—ah! that I should say so—never will!
To find them now, I fear, is past all skill.
“First of the comb to speak. To fashion that,
The artist took bones of the Civet-cat;
That wondrous beast that lives on flow’rs and spice,
And dwells ’twixt India’s shores and paradise.
Dyed is his skin with tints of various hues;
And sweetest odors round doth he diffuse;
Hence do all other beasts his footsteps trace,
And follow him about from place to place;
For they all feel and know, his very smell
Is certain to preserve them sound and well.
’Twas of such bone this precious comb was made;
His rarest skill the artist had displayed;
It equalled polished silver in its brightness,
And e’en surpassed it in its lustrous whiteness;
Its scent excelled cloves, pinks and cinnamon;
For the beast’s odor lives in ev’ry bone;
Corruption may his fleshly frame assail,
But o’er his skeleton can naught prevail;
This never knows decay or gives offence,
But keeps away all plague and pestilence.
“Upon the comb’s broad back one might behold
A large blue stone engrained with threads of gold;
Where stood in figures, carved in high relief,
The tale of Paris, the young Trojan chief;
Who one day, sitting by a river’s strand,
Three Godlike women saw before him stand;
Juno, Minerva, Venus, were they named;
Each for herself had long an apple claimed;—
Though once ’twas common to them all indeed;—
To end this strife, at length they thus agreed:
Paris the golden apple should decree
To her he judged the fairest of the three,
And hers alone it evermore should be.
All three the youth with curious eye surveyed;
‘Let me be fairest held,’ thus Juno said;
‘Let but the apple be decreed as mine,
And riches infinite henceforth are thine.’
Minerva then: ‘The prize on me bestow,
And mighty shalt thou be on earth below;
Dreadful thy name alike to friend and foe.’
Last, Venus: ‘Why to wealth or might aspire?
Is not King Priamus of Troy thy sire?
Are not thy brethren, Hector and the rest,
Supreme in wealth and pow’r by all confest?
And while their arms still shelter Troy, your sway
Does not this land and foreign realms obey?
If beauty’s prize thou unto me award,
Thine the best treasure earth can e’er afford:
That treasure is a woman past compare,
Noble and prudent, virtuous and fair:
Give me the apple; Greece’s peerless queen
Thou shalt possess; Helen the famed, I mean.’
To her the apple then awarded he,
Adjudging her the fairest of the three.
He by her friendly aid that lady gay,
The spouse of Menelaus, stole away;
And long did her sweet fellowship enjoy,
Secure within the sacred walls of Troy.
“Carved was this story on a middle field;
Round which, with graven words, stood many a shield;
That whoso took the comb up in his hand,
The fable there might read and understand.
“Next of the mirror hear. In lieu of glass,
A clear and beauteous berylstone there was;
All things were shown therein, though miles away;
And that, by night as plainly as by day.
Whoso upon his face or speck or spot,
Or in his eye perchance a cock had got,
Let him but gaze upon that mirror clear,
And ev’ry blemish straight should disappear.
Who would not, having such a treasure, boast?
Who would not grieve for such a treasure lost?
“Out of a costly wood was made the frame,
Close-grained and shining; shittim is its name;
No worm can pierce it; and men justly hold,
’Tis more than equal to its weight in gold.
The nearest that comes to it in degree,
For its rare qualities, is ebony.
’Twas of this wood, so shining and closegrained,
In days of yore, when King Crompardes reign’d,
A cunning artist framed a wondrous steed,
Of mighty powers and unrivalled speed;
His rider in a short hour’s space he bore,
With greatest ease, one hundred miles, or more,
I know not all the facts; but anyhow
A steed like that you cannot meet with now.
“The mirror’s border, for a good foot wide,
With exquisite carved work was beautified;
And ’neath each subject an inscription stood,
In golden letters, which its meaning show’d.
“Briefly of each of these will I discourse:
First came the story of the envious Horse;
Who, racing for a wager with a Stag,
Was greatly vexed so far behind to lag.
A shepherd, on the plain, he thus address’d:
‘I’ll make thee wealthy, do but my behest.
A Stag has hid himself in yonder brake;
I’ll carry thee; mount boldly on my back;
Him thou shalt slay, and flesh and horns and fell
In the next market town canst dearly sell.
Mount on my back at once; we’ll give him chase.’
‘I’ll venture,’ said the swain, ‘in any case;
No harm can come of the experiment.’
So up he mounted, and away they went.
The Stag they saw a little way ahead;
They followed fast, and fast away he fled,
Till the earth trembled under their thundering tread.
Long the chase lasted; but the nimble Hart
Of his pursuers had, and kept the start;
Until at length, relaxing in his speed,
Thus spake, panting, the overwearied steed:
‘Prithee dismount, for I am quite distrest;
Heavy thou art, and I have need of rest.’
‘No, by my soul!’ the shepherd man replied;
‘It was thyself invited me to ride;
I’ve got thee and I’ll keep thee in my pow’r.’
And man’s slave has the Horse been since that hour.
Thus evils, which for others had been sped,
Will oft rebound on the projector’s head.
“Now further hear, while I with truth allege
What next was carved around the mirror’s edge:
How once upon a time it came to pass,
A rich man owned a Spaniel and an Ass;
The Dog was never known to bark or bite,
And was deservedly a favorite;
At table by his master’s side he sate,
Fish, flesh and fowl together with him ate;
Or rested in his lap, and there was fed
With dainty morsels of best wheaten bread.
The Spaniel then, who was a Hound of grace,
Would wag his tail, and lick his master’s face.
Now Neddy, when he saw the Dog’s good luck,
With envy and astonishment was struck;
‘With my lord’s tastes,’ said he, ‘how can it suit
To be so partial to that lazy brute?
Up in his lap it jumps, and licks his beard,
As though by such strange antics ’twere endear’d;
While I must toil and travail, in and out,
Fetch fagots home, and carry sacks about.
I wish my lord would think the matter o’er,
And take a dozen Dogs, or e’en a score;
I’d wager, in a year they’d not get through
One half the work that in a month I do.
While with the best his Dogship fills his maw,
Half starved am I, or only stuffed with straw.
On the hard earth my couch has ever been;
And jeered and mocked am I, wherever seen.
I can and will this life no longer bear;
In my lord’s favors I will have my share.’
Just as he spoke, his master chanced to pass;
His game at once begins that stupid Ass;
Cocks up his bended tail, lays back his ears,
And o’er his frighted lord curvetting rears;
Brays long and loudly, while his beard he licks,
And strives to imitate the Spaniel’s tricks,
Caressing him with hard and lusty kicks.
His terror-stricken master sprang aside;
‘Oh! take this horrid Ass away!’ he cried;
‘Kill him at once!’ His servants run in haste;
With show’rs of blows poor Neddy’s sides they baste;
Then in his stable lock him up again:
And thus the Ass he was he doth remain.
“How many are there of this self-same brood,
Who, envying others, do themselves no good.
Set these in place or pow’r, and just as soon
Might you feed porkers with a silver spoon.
Let the Ass still his burdens duly bear;
Of straw and thistles make his bed and fare;
Treat him in any other way you will,
The brute retains his former habits still;
And, taking human nature for his guide,
Seeks his own ends, and cares for naught beside.
“Further will I this narrative pursue;
If these long tales, sire, do not weary you.
Around the mirror’s border next was placed,
Carved in relief, with proper legends graced,
The story how Sir Tybalt, heretofore,
Eternal friendship with my father swore:
Each vowed to each to prove a firm ally,
And common danger jointly to defy.
Trav’lling along one day they chanced to hear
A cry of Hounds and huntsmen in their rear.
‘Hark to those sounds,’ cried Tybalt; ‘good advice
Were worth, at such a moment, any price.’
The old one said, ‘Your terrors, prithee, lull;
Of wiles and shifts I have a budget full.
Let’s stick together, nor forget our oath;
And they shall neither of us have, or both.’
(He said this merely Tybalt to console;
He had no shifts or wiles, good simple soul!)
‘Bother the oath!’ replied the treach’rous Cat;
‘Methinks I know a trick worth two of that.’
Into a tree, as fast as he could tear,
He climbed, and left his uncle planted there.
The poor soul stood awhile in anxious doubt;
While near and nearer came that hunter rout.
Then said the Cat: ‘Uncle, as you don’t climb,
You’d better ope your budget; now’s the time!’
Just then the Beagles caught my sire in view;
The huntsmen shouted, and their horns they blew;
Off ran my father; after him the Hounds;
Amid a perfect babel of mad sounds;
Barking and bellowing and bugle-blowing,
Enough to set the very devil going.
My father swate again for very fright,
His fewmets cast, and made himself more light;
And so at length he ’scaped his foes by flight.
Thus by his best of friends was he betray’d,
By him to whom he trusted most for aid.
His life was perilled, for those Dogs were swift;
The hole he fled to was his only shift;
And had he not remembered that in time,
His foes would soon have made short work of him.
“Would of such scurvy scum the world were rid,
Who treat their friends as subtle Tybalt did.
How can I love or honor such a knave,
Who’s sinned the more, the more I pardoned have?
All this was figured round the mirror’s frame,
With legends fit to mark the moral aim.
“Upon the next compartment might be view’d
A specimen of lupine gratitude.
The Wolf had found a Horse’s skeleton,
For little was there left of it but bone;
He gnawed voracious, and, by evil luck,
A pointed fragment in his gullet stuck;
His sufferings were terrible to see,
He was as nearly choked as Wolf could be.
He sent forth messenger on messenger
To call the doctors in from far and near;
But though he promised they should well be paid,
Not one could render him the slightest aid.
At length appeared the learned Doctor Crane,
With crimson bonnet and gold-pommelled cane.
‘Oh! help me, doctor!’ cries the invalid;
‘Oh! help me, I beseech you, and with speed;
But from my throat take out this cursed bone,
And any fee you name shall be your own.’
The Crane of his professions felt no doubt;
He stuck his long bill down the Wolf’s huge throat,
And in a jiffy pulled the sharp bone out.
‘Zounds!’ howled the Wolf; ‘you give me monstrous pain!
Take care you never hurt me so again!
I pardon you; had it another been,
I might not have so patient proved, I ween.’
‘The bone’s extracted,’ said the cautious Crane;
‘You’re cured; so never mind a little pain.
As other patients are expecting me,
I’ll go, if you’ll oblige me with my fee.’
‘Hark to the simpleton!’ the rude Wolf said;
‘He’s hurt me, and yet wishes to be paid.
’Twould seem the stupid idiot cannot know
How much to my forbearance he doth owe.
His bill and head, which both were in my maw,
Unharmed have I allowed him to withdraw:
Methinks that I should ask for the reward!’
’Tis thus the strong all justice disregard.
“These tales, and others of a kindred taste,
In high relief artistically chas’d,
With legends graved in characters of gold,
Around the mirror’s frame one might behold.
Too good for me so rare a work had been,
For I am all too humble, all too mean;
Therefore I sent it for my gracious queen.
To her and you, my liege, I hoped ’twould prove
A token of my loyalty and love.
Much did my children, little dears, lament,
When from their home away the glass was sent.
Before it, they were wont, the livelong day,
To skip about and dance and frisk and play,
And laugh, in childish innocence of mind,
To see their long thick brushes trail behind.
Ah! little did I then anticipate
The Ram’s foul treason or the Hare’s sad fate!
I thought they both were beasts of honest worth,
And the two dearest friends I had on earth.
Accursed the murd’rer’s mem’ry I denounce!
All hope though will I not as yet renounce;
Where’er the treasures are, I make no doubt
To find them still: like murder, theft will out.
Much I suspect that some there present are,
Who know the truth about the whole affair;
Both what befell the jewels and the Hare.
“Full well I know, my liege, what weighty things
Must daily occupy the minds of kings.
It does not stand with reason to expect,
Each trifling matter you should recollect.
Then let me that most wonderful of cures
Recall, which once my sire performed for yours.
“Sick lay the king and dangerously ill;
He must have died but for my father’s skill.
Who say then, sire, that neither he nor I
Have e’er done service to your majesty,
Not only speak the thing that is not true,
But utter a gross calumny on you.
“Forgive me, sire, nor deem my tongue too bold.
With your good leave that tale I will unfold.
My sire was known, as far as fame could reach,
To be a learned and a skilful Leech.
All diagnostics of disease he knew,
Judged by a patient’s pulse, and water too;
Could heal an injury in any part,
And aided nature with his wondrous art.
Emetics of all kinds he understood,
And what was cool and thinning for the blood.
With skill and safety could he breathe a vein,
And draw a tooth without the slightest pain.
You will not, sire, remember this the least,
For you were then a suckling at the breast.
’Twas when drear winter’s pall the earth o’erspread,
Sick lay your father and confined to bed;
So sadly weak that he could not stir out;
They were obliged to carry him about.
All who could medicine were bade to come,
From ev’ry spot between this court and Rome.
Not one of them encouraged any hope;
But all, without exception, gave him up.
Then my poor father they called in at last,
Though not till ev’ry chance of cure seemed past.
He felt the monarch’s pulse and shook his head;
‘May the king live forever!’ then he said;
‘Though much I fear he hath not long to live:
To save his life, mine own I’d gladly give.
The contents of yon vase let me inspect,
To see what mischief I may there detect.’
‘Do as he bids,’ the king said to the nurse;
‘Do what you will; I’m getting worse and worse.’
“Upon the mirror’s rim was fair engraved
The mode in which your sire by mine was saved.
The contents of the vessel they had brought
My sire examined, with reflective thought;
Then said: ‘To save your health is but one way;
And that will not admit the least delay:
Your life is gone, unless, within the hour,
The liver of a Wolf you shall devour;
He must too, at the least, be sev’n years old;
And you must eat it, sire, ere it be cold.
All scruples on the point must be withstood;
The water here is thick and red as blood.’
It chanced the Wolf was standing near the bed,
And with disgust heard all my father said.
To him with feeble voice the monarch spake:
‘You hear, Sir Wolf, the physic I must take.
Quick, then, about it! to effect my cure,
You will not grudge your liver, I am sure.’
‘Of no use mine would be,’ the Wolf replied;
‘I am but five years old next Lammas-tide.’
‘Nonsense!’ my father cried; ‘we soon shall see;
For we must lay you open instantly.’
Off to the kitchen then the Wolf was brought;
And out they cut his liver, quick as thought.
’Twas dished up smoking on a silver plate,
And by your royal father eaten straight.
From that same hour he was quite cured and well;
Restored to health as by a miracle.
What gratitude the king, your father, showed;
The style of Doctor he on mine bestowed:
At court none dared this title to neglect,
Or treat him with the slightest disrespect.
Before th’ assembled peers he wore a cap
Of crimson velvet, with a golden snap;
His place was ever at the king’s right hand,
And honored was by all throughout the land.
“Of his poor son how diff’rent is the lot!
The father’s virtues now are all forgot.
The greediest rogues are now advanced to pow’r,
Who only seek for what they may devour.
Int’rest and gain are thought of now alone,
And right and justice but by name are known.
Great lords are those, who servants were before,
And without mercy grind the suff’ring poor:
Blindly they strike their former mates among,
Nor heed the least the ranks from whence they sprung.
Their own advantage their sole end and aim,
They still contrive to win, whate’er the game.
’Tis such as these that on the wealthy fix,
Their flatt’ry choking all on whom it sticks:
No man’s petition will they ever heed,
If not by costly gifts accompanied:
By rapine and extortion still they live,
And, like the Horse-leech, ever cry, ‘Give! give!’
“Such greedy Wolves as these, the choice tit-bits
Would always keep, as their own perquisites:
When a prompt sacrifice their king might save,
Time for reflection they will ever crave.
You see how, in this case, the Wolf preferr’d
To save his liver, rather than his lord;
And what a liver too! The selfish brute!
For I without reserve will speak my thought.
In aught that danger to the king involves,
What signifies the death of twenty Wolves?
Nay, without loss, the whole tribe might be slain,
So but the king and queen their lives retain.
None seek pure water from a puddled source,
Or from a Sow’s ear make a silken purse.
No doubt, sire, you the whole affair forget;
For you were much too young to notice it:
I’m sure though of the truth of what I say,
As though it happened only yesterday.
“’Graved on the mirror all this story stood;
For ’twas my father’s special wish it should.
Fair was the work and beauteous to behold,
Adorned with jewels, and inlaid with gold.
Oh! for the chance to get that mirror back,
Fortune and life how gladly would I stake!”
“Reynard!” said Noble, “I your speech have heard,
And all your tales and fables, ev’ry word.
Your father may have been both good and great,
And haply did vast service to the State:—
It must have happened a long time ago;
I never heard one word of it till now.
But of your evil deeds I learn each day;
Your sport is death; so all my people say.
If these are but old tales, as you declare,
Strange that no good of you e’er meets mine ear.”
“Sire!” said the Fox, “allow me to explain.
What you have said has caused me deepest pain.
To you no good I e’er have done, you state;—
But not a word will I retaliate:
Forbid it, Heaven! for full well, I know,
To you the service of my life I owe.
“Permit me one adventure to repeat,
Which I am certain you will not forget.
Is’grim and I once chanced a Boar to hunt;
We caught him soon; good saints! how he did grunt!
You came, and much of hunger you complain’d,
And said your spouse was following close behind:—
If we would each give up a little bit,
We should on both confer a benefit;
A portion of our booty we might spare;
And Is’grim answered, ‘Yes;’—with such an air;
While all the while between his teeth he muttered,
So that one could not hear a word he uttered.
Said I, ‘Sire! have your wish! I but deplore
Instead of one Swine we have not a score.
Say, which of us the booty shall divide?’
‘The Wolf!’ you then with dignity replied.
Well pleased was Is’grim, and with shameless front,
’Gan to divide, according to his wont.
One quarter, sire, he placed aside for you;
Another, to your royal spouse as due;
The other half he claimed as his own share,
And greedily began the flesh to tear;
My humble part, beside the ears and snout,
Was half the lungs, and that was all I got;
And all the rest he kept himself; to us
In sooth he was not over-generous.
Your portion soon was gone; but I perceived
Your appetite was by no means relieved.
Isegrim, though, just like a greedy beast,
Pretended not to see it in the least;
Continuing still to gnaw and champ and chew,
Nor offered, sire, the smallest bit to you.
But then your royal paws did you uprear,
And smite him heavily behind the ear;
It tore his skin, and swift away he fled,
Howling like mad, with bald and bleeding head.
‘Thou blund’ring glutton!’ after him you cried,
‘I’ll teach thee how thy booty to divide:
Hence! quick! go fetch us something more to eat!’
Then I said, sire,—you should not want for meat;
I’d follow quickly upon Is’grim’s track,
And I’d be bound, we’d soon bring something back.
And you were pleased to say, you were content;
So after Isegrim with speed I went.
He showed his wound, and grumbled bitterly;
But I persuaded him to hunt with me.
We fell in with a Calf, which we pursued,
And caught him; ’twas, I knew, your fav’rite food;
We brought and laid it at your royal feet;
It was an off’ring for a monarch meet;
You saw ’twas fat, and to reward our toil,
With gracious condescension deigned to smile;
And many a kindly word to me you spoke,
And said my hunting always brought good luck;
Adding, ‘Now, Reynard, you divide the Calf.’
I answered, ‘Sire, to you belongs one half;
That, with your leave, I place aside for you;
The other to your royal spouse is due;
The entrails, such as liver, heart and lungs,
All this to your dear children, sire, belongs:
I’ll take the feet, for those I love to gnaw;
And with the head the Wolf may cram his maw.’
Then, did you thus address me: ‘Where, I pray,
Learned you to carve in such a courtly way?’
‘Yonder my teacher stands, my liege,’ I said;
‘The greedy Wolf, with bald and bleeding head.
Had I not learned, it were indeed a shame;
For, Swine or Calf, the principle’s the same.’
“Thus pain and sorrow did the Wolf befall;
And sure his greediness deserved it all.
Alas! there are too many of the kind;
To sacrifice all else to self inclin’d.
Their constant thoughts all bent in one direction,
They grind their vassals, calling it ‘Protection.’
The poor perchance are starved, but what care they?
Ah! wretched is the land that owns their sway!
Far otherwise, mine honored liege, you see,
That you have always been esteemed by me;
All that I ever either reap or glean
I dedicate to you and to my queen.
Whate’er I chance to gain, or great or small,
You surely have the largest share of all.
Think of this story of the Calf and Swine;
Then judge to whom reward you should assign.
But ah! poor Reynard’s merits have grown dim;
All favors now are heaped on Isegrim!
All must submit perforce to his commands;
All tribute pass through his tenacious hands.
But little for your int’rest doth he care,
Not e’en content with half for his own share.
You heed alone what he and Bruin say,
While Reynard’s wisest words are thrown away.
“But now I am accused and shall not budge;
I know I stand before an upright judge.
Let whoso will, bring forth what charge he please,
Let him bring forward too his witnesses;
And pledge, upon the issue of the strife,
As I will do, his wealth, his ears, his life.
Such were the law and practice heretofore;
To these I now appeal, and ask no more.”
“Happen what may,” then said the king, “by me
The path of justice shall not straitened be.
Though thou art tainted, by suspicion’s breath,
To have a hand in gentle Puss’s death—
My trusty messenger! I loved him well;
And mourned his loss, far more than tongue can tell!
How did I grieve when I the Beaver saw
That bleeding head from out thy wallet draw!
His crime the Ram atoned for on the spot;
But thou hast leave to fight the matter out.—
“We pardon Reynard’s treasons ’gainst the crown,
For many services which he hath done.
If any aught against him have to say,
Let him stand forth and prove it as he may;
Or by sworn witnesses, or else by fight;
For here stands Reynard to defend his right.”
Then thus the Fox replied: “My gracious lord!
My humblest thanks are all I can afford.
To ev’ry one you freely lend an ear;
And e’en the meanest meet with justice here.
Heav’n is my witness, with how sad a heart
I suffered Puss and Bellyn to depart;
Some strange foreboding of their fate had I;
For, oh! I loved them both right tenderly.”
Thus cunningly did Reynard play his game;
Thus artfully his endless fables frame.
Another triumph thus his wit achieved,
For he again by all was quite believed.
He spake with so much earnestness, in sooth,
It was scarce possible to doubt his truth.
Some with him even for his loss condoled;
And thus once more his sov’reign he cajoled;
The story of the trinkets pleased the king;
He longed to have them, ’specially the ring;
He said to Reynard, “Go, in peace of mind,
Go, and seek, far and near, the lost to find.
Do all you can; more will I not require;
My aid you may obtain, when you desire.”
“Thanks, sire,” said Reynard, “for this act of grace;
Now, in my heart, despair to hope gives place.
To punish crime, and falsehood to refute,
This is, my liege, your noblest attribute.
Though darkness still the whole affair enshrouds,
Ere long shall light dispel the murky clouds.
The quest forthwith, sire, will I expedite,
Incessantly will travel, day and night;
And when I find the treasures which I seek,
If to retake them I should prove too weak,
Then will I venture that kind aid to pray,
Which you have offered graciously this day.
Ah! let me at your feet but lay them down,
Repaid shall be my toil; my loyal truth made known.”
The monarch seemed well pleased to be deceived,
And all the court as readily believed;
So cleverly the Fox his falsehoods wove,
That what he only said, he seemed to prove.
And Reynard’s mind was wonderfully eased,
For he was free to wander where he pleased.
But Is’grim could his wrath no more restrain;
He gnashed his teeth, and thus began complain:
“My liege, and can you once more yield belief
To this thrice damned perjurer and thief?
Perceive you not, sire, that in boasting thus,
He but deludeth you and beardeth us?
Truth doth he from his very soul despise;
And all his wit is spent in feigning lies.
But I’ll not let him off so lightly now;
What a false knave he is I soon shall show;
Him of three grievous crimes I now indict;
And ’scape he shall not, even should we fight.
He talks of calling witnesses forsooth;—
As though that were the way to get the truth!
They might stand here and witness all the day;
He’d manage to explain their words away;
And there might be no witnesses at times;
Should therefore all unpunished be his crimes;
But who will dare the culprit to accuse,
When he is sure his time and suit to lose;
And from that time forever, wrong or right,
Be a marked object for the ruffian’s spite?
E’en you yourself, sire, by experience know,
As well as we, what mischief he can do.
To-day I have him safe; he cannot flee;
So let him look to ’t; he shall answer me!”