In half-articulate jargon, the old song:
“Some one hath done a wrong, hath done a wrong!”
But ere he reached the belfry’s light arcade,
He saw, or thought he saw, beneath its shade,
No shape of human form of woman born,
But a poor steed dejected and forlorn,
Who with uplifted head and eager eye
Was tugging at the vines of briony.
“Domeneddio!” cried the Syndic straight,
“This is the Knight of Atri’s steed of state!
He calls for justice, being sore distressed,
And pleads his cause as loudly as the best.”
Meanwhile from street and
lane a noisy crowd
Had rolled together like a summer cloud,
And told the story of the wretched beast
In five-and-twenty different ways at least,
With much gesticulation and appeal
To heathen gods, in their excessive zeal.
The Knight was called and questioned; in reply
Did not confess the fact, did not deny;
Treated the matter as a pleasant
And set at nought the Syndic and the rest,
Maintaining, in an angry undertone,
That he should do what pleased him with his own.
And thereupon the Syndic gravely read
The proclamation of the King; then said:
“Pride goeth forth on horseback grand and gay,
But cometh back on foot, and begs its way;
Fame is the fragrance of heroic deeds
Of flowers of chivalry, and not of weeds!
These are familiar proverbs; but I fear
They never yet have reached your knightly ear.
What fair renown, what honour, what repute
Can come to you from starving this poor brute?
He who serves well and speaks not, merits more
Than they who clamour loudest at the door.
Therefore the law decrees that as this steed
Served you in youth, henceforth you shall take heed
To comfort his old age, and to provide
Shelter in stall, and food and field beside.”
The Knight withdrew abashed;
the people all
Led home the steed in triumph to his stall.
The King heard and approved, and laughed in glee,
And cried aloud: “Right well it pleaseth me!
Church-bells at best but ring us to the door;
But go not into mass; my bell doth more:
It cometh into court and pleads the cause
Of creatures dumb and unknown to the laws;
And this shall make, in every Christian clime,
The Bell of Atri famous for all time.”
BY ADELAIDE PROCTOR.
The tempest rages wild and high,
The waves lift up their voice and cry
Fierce answers to the angry sky,—
Through the black night and driving rain,
A ship is struggling, all in vain
To live upon the stormy main;—