The Secret Rose eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 79 pages of information about The Secret Rose.
about them, being come there to beg from any traveller or pilgrim who might have spent the night in the guest-house.  The abbot and the friars led the gleeman to a place in the woods at some distance, where many straight young trees were growing, and they made him cut one down and fashion it to the right length, while the beggars stood round them in a ring, talking and gesticulating.  The abbot then bade him cut off another and shorter piece of wood, and nail it upon the first.  So there was his cross for him; and they put it upon his shoulder, for his crucifixion was to be on the top of the hill where the others were.  A half-mile on the way he asked them to stop and see him juggle for them; for he knew, he said, all the tricks of Aengus the Subtle-hearted.  The old friars were for pressing on, but the young friars would see him:  so he did many wonders for them, even to the drawing of live frogs out of his ears.  But after a while they turned on him, and said his tricks were dull and a shade unholy, and set the cross on his shoulders again.  Another half-mile on the way, and he asked them to stop and hear him jest for them, for he knew, he said, all the jests of Conan the Bald, upon whose back a sheep’s wool grew.  And the young friars, when they had heard his merry tales, again bade him take up his cross, for it ill became them to listen to such follies.  Another half-mile on the way, he asked them to stop and hear him sing the story of White-breasted Deirdre, and how she endured many sorrows, and how the sons of Usna died to serve her.  And the young friars were mad to hear him, but when he had ended they grew angry, and beat him for waking forgotten longings in their hearts.  So they set the cross upon his back and hurried him to the hill.

When he was come to the top, they took the cross from him, and began to dig a hole to stand it in, while the beggars gathered round, and talked among themselves.  ‘I ask a favour before I die,’ says Cumhal.

‘We will grant you no more delays,’ says the abbot.

’I ask no more delays, for I have drawn the sword, and told the truth, and lived my vision, and am content.’

‘Would you, then, confess?’

’ By sun and moon, not I; I ask but to be let eat the food I carry in my wallet.  I carry food in my wallet whenever I go upon a journey, but I do not taste of it unless I am well-nigh starved.  I have not eaten now these two days.’

‘You may eat, then,’ says the abbot, and he turned to help the friars dig the hole.

The gleeman took a loaf and some strips of cold fried bacon out of his wallet and laid them upon the ground.  ’I will give a tithe to the poor,’ says he, and he cut a tenth part from the loaf and the bacon.  ‘Who among you is the poorest?’ And thereupon was a great clamour, for the beggars began the history of their sorrows and their poverty, and their yellow faces swayed like Gara Lough when the floods have filled it with water from the bogs.

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The Secret Rose from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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