And when you take the skylark for your guide,
And soar straight up to sun-drenched shores of Time,
Immortal singers there shall, eager-eyed,
Await your new-born rhyme.
Their songs are charm-songs, a divine caress,
Or torrents that no power of man could tame,
Or time-hushed gardens of grave loveliness,
But yours,—a leaping flame!
Hail, Poet! Yours the Dream Interpreted,
Earth’s haunting fairy-tale since life began,—
The Dragon of Unfaith, his magic dead,
Slain by the Flying Man!
A TOURNAMENT IN THE CLOUDS
Alazais de Montfaucon was to be married, and had chosen her dearest friend Philippa to be maid of honor. None of her friends except Philippa had seen the bridegroom; he was an English knight, Hugh l’Estrange. He had lands on the Welsh marches, and the charming Alazais was to be carried off by him, to live among savages. This, at least, was the impression of Beatriz d’Acunha and Catalina d’Anduze, who were also to be bridesmaids. Philippa, having lived in England, looked at the matter less dolefully. Still, when all was said, it was an immense change for Alazais, and she herself declared that if any one but Hugh had proposed it she would not think of such a thing.
“We must provide you with a flock of these voyageur pigeons,” said Savaric de Marsan. “Then, when you are shut up in your stronghold with the Welsh on one side and Saxon outlaws on the other, you can appeal to your friends for help.”
Alazais laughed her pretty rippling laugh.
“The fortress is not yet built,” she said with a toss of her golden head. “We are not going to live among the heathen.”
“You men!” pouted Beatriz. “You are always thinking of battles and sieges, wars and jousting. Perhaps you would like a tournament of pigeons!”
“Why not?” queried Savaric undisturbed. “It would be highly amusing.”
“I lay my wager on Blanchette here,” said Peire d’Acunha. “She is as graceful as a lady. She shows her breeding.”
“Endurance, my friend, is what counts in a carrier,” said Bertrand d’Aiguerra. “Pere Azuli yonder will forget the miles behind him—as you forget your debts.”
“You are both wrong,” said Savaric. “It is spirit that wins. Little Sieur Rien-du-Tout, the pigeon without a pedigree, will make fools of all of you.”
The pigeon-tournament was actually planned, with much laughter and light-hearted nonsense. It was to take place at Montfaucon during the week of the wedding. Each knight should adorn his bird with his lady’s colors, and the little feathered messengers were to carry love-letters written in verse. Afterward, the pigeons were all to be presented to Lady Alazais for her dovecote in the barbarous land to which she was exiled.
Pigeons were very much the fashion for a time. Dainty demoiselles preened and paced on the short sweet turf, petting and feeding the birds, and looking rather like pigeons themselves. But no one became really intimate with the carriers except Ranulph the troubadour, Lady Philippa, and Sir Gualtier Giffard, who loved them for her sake.