Where through the dapple of wood-shadows dreaming
Faun-footsteps pattering run,
Where the swift mountain-brooks silvery-gleaming
Carol through rain and through sun,
Thee do we follow, O Spirit of Gladness,—
Thee to whom Laughter gave suck.
We are thy people by night or by noontide,—
We are thy loves, O Puck!
Lips thou hast kissed have no pleasure in sadness,
Bitterness, cant nor disdain.
Hearts to thy piping beat bravely in gladness
Through poverty, exile or pain.
Gold is denied us—thine image we fashion
Out of the slag or the muck.
We are thy people in court or by campfire,—
We are thy slaves, O Puck!
We are the dancers whose morris-bells ringing
Sound the death-knell of our years.
We are the harpers who turn into singing
Our hopes and our foves and our fears.
Thine is the tribute wrung hard from our anguish
After the death blows are struck.
We are thy bondmen who jest while we languish,—
We are thy souls, O Puck!
THE PUPPET PLAYERS
In a blinding snow-storm that blotted out the roads and obscured the outlines of the densely forested mountains, two youths and a small donkey struggled over a mountain trail. Twice the donkey had to be pulled bodily out of a drift, and once for an hour or more the wayfarers were racked by the fear that they had lost their direction altogether. But at last, in the edge of the evening, they saw the lights of the city twinkling like a miniature Milky Way, and urged on their tired beast in the certainty of food and shelter at the end of the day.
They were very unlike, these two strangers. He who seemed the leader was a slender lad, dark and keen of face, who might from his looks have been either French or Italian. In reality he was a Milanese, Giovanni Bergamotto, the only survivor of one of the families driven out of Milan when Barbarossa took the city. He had lived nearly half his life in France and in England, and spoke several languages nearly or quite as well as his own.
The other was a big-shouldered, sullen-looking fellow with black eyes and hair and a skin originally brown and now still darker from his out-of-door life—a Pyrenean mountaineer known as Cimarron. It was doubtful if he himself knew what his name originally had been; to all who knew him now he was Cimarron, the mountain sheep,—strong, sure-footed, and silent, and not half as stupid as people often thought.
The two had been in Brittany, in Paris, in Sicily and in Castile during the past months, and in each country they had made their way directly to the place in which the ruler happened to be holding court. At court they had exhibited the marionette show now packed away in the donkey’s saddle-bags, once, twice or thrice as the case might be, until Giovanni had succeeded in gaining audience with the wife of the ruler. He carried pedlar’s goods of very choice varieties, which might well appeal to ladies of the court in those days of slow transportation and few shops.