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the spot a world of architects, masons, bricklayers, carpenters, roadmakers, ornamental gardeners, &c., &c., in the full determination of making the old castle a very distingué sort of place. The building folks requested that before they began their work, he would allow them to explore the foundations of the edifice, and he willingly granted their request, as he reflected that even if they made the ancient edifice tumble down about their ears, it would be no such great loss after all, as it would not be much more expensive to build a new castle than to repair the old one. The sagacious workmen, therefore, knocked about the foundations of the building, and at last broke their way into a huge vault, where they saw a strange spectacle.
a chair in the middle of the vault sat a mighty king, who shone as if all his body had been made of diamonds; and to the right of this potentate stood a lovely maiden, who respectfully sustained the royal head. At first our industrious friends were a little alarmed at this discovery, but familiarity inspired them with confidence, and they thought that if they could take away an arm or a leg of the King of Diamonds, it would be a good prize. They, therefore, went a little nearer, when all of a sudden the maiden turned into a fiery dragon, and kindled such a flame in the vault, that they would have been reduced to cinders, if they had not retreated as speedily as possible.
Sir Strado heard them tell their tale, and stared; he peeped into the vault, saw the maiden, who had resumed her former shape, and then he smiled. The maiden saw him, and then she sighed; and presently he sighed too.
Leaving the vault, he called his work-people around him, and thus accosted them :—
"My good friends, if you had not been so confoundedly curious, you would not have placed me in the singularly unpleasant position, in which I find myself at present. It is the fate of knighthood, that if a chevalier hears of an adventure, he must set about achieving it within nine days, otherwise not only will the greatest calamities fall upon his own head, but his wife, children, brothers, sisters, and relations, down to the remotest cousin, will all be involved in one common misery. Now, if I had not heard of the state of things down-stairs, the devil and all his imps might have lived in my vaults, and it would have been no affair of mine. But you, ingenious folks, must, forsooth, be seized with a morbid desire of knowledge, and must go poking your heads into places, which it was never intended any Christian should enter, and seeing sights which it never was intended any Christian should see, and, therefore, am I doomed to give up my profitable schemes of improving my estate, and am obliged to investigate matters, which I do not want to know, at the
greatest peril of life and limb. So I have only to tell you that you need not continue your labours, and bestowing a hearty curse upon you all, I take my leave."
So saying, Sir Strado stalked out of the presence of the astonished workmen and returned to the vault, followed, it is said, by a faithful dog
Our readers will have collected from the sage speeches uttered by Sir Strado of the Fir-tree, in the days of his squireship, that he was a man of prudent character. Some dare-devil knights of the time would have dashed into the vault head-foremost, totally regardless of consequences.
Not so Sir Strado. When he had reached the entrance, he carefully put down his light and pitched his dog into the vault, to see what would happen. The instant that the lucky animal had reached the ground there came such a puff of flame towards our valiant knight that he was glad to back out, and stand at a convenient distance. He heard his faithful dog howling in all the agonies of being roasted alive, but this did not seem a sufficient reason to move him from his safe retreat until he had cause to believe that the fire was extinguished. He then returned to the vault, and was agreeably surprised to find his dog alive. The enchanted maiden had taken a fancy to the animal, and was holding him in her lap, where he had remained quite secure in the midst of the pyrotechnic exhibition, which had so greatly scared his master.
Prudence is not always the better part of valour, and if our knight had not been so greatly afraid of singeing his whiskers his lot would have been much happier. Judge of his surprise, when, while examining the curiosities of the vault, which he had now ventured to enter, he discovered a marble slab with the following inscription:
Woe to him that seeketh me,
Considered as a poetical composition the inscription was bad enough, but it was greatly to the purpose, and in point of clearness certainly surpassed most oracular communications. The first thing that struck the knight was, that as he had chucked the dog before him instead of venturing into the vault himself, the dog was the cause of the threatened calamity. Therefore, with that fine sense of justice which distinguished the King of Bohemia, when he decapitated his tutor, he drew his sabre, and struck off the dog's head.
No sooner had he dealt this fatal blow, than the diamond king and the maiden vanished from the vault. Their place was filled by raging fire and offensive smoke, which dazzled the eyes, and filled the nostrils of our hero. When he had reached that happy state of confusion that he did not precisely know where he was, a huge dragon issued from a corner, and after eyeing him for some time with considerable contempt, swallowed him entire, armour and all.
Having got Sir Strado of the Fir Tree into the dragon's mouth we bring this delightful story to a close, for a great deal happened before he got out again, and his deliverance fell in a later period of King Eginhard's reign, when Bohemia was invaded by giants, who-but do not let us anticipate; for the invasion of the giants furnishes the material for another story, which we trust to tell at some future time, and which is even more delectable than the present.
A very Ancient Variation of the Legend
Most Holy St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury.
BY ROBERTSON NOEL, ESQ., LL.D.
THE Archfiend determined one day to make trial
The legend informs us the dress that he wore
Was with crosses adorned, both behind and before;
His equipage now was so saintly and meek-
None would ever expect to see him where hard knocks come,
As he ambled-he pondered on how he should act,
Afar from his palace-afar from the court
Their vow was, each night, till their lives should be ended,
A most mischievous thought crossed the wicked one's pate
The friars found out 'twas in vain to remonstrate-
So he racked his invention, and puzzled his brains,
When the herbs, as if willing to lighten their grief,
Suspecting who 'twas had a hand in the treat;
"But, my friends," said St. Dunstan, "'twill do you no harm--I have blessed it-so fear neither cantrip nor charm."
So they took his advice, and without further thought,
The monks were all edified!-living so well!
Now one or two ladies, thought he of the sable,
And the saints of the chapel, with sober stone faces,
Became sweet living damsels, as fair as the graces!
Thus with love, wine, and wassail, with song and with kiss,
And they made the stone coffin no longer their bed,
How laughed the strange novice whose cunning had wrought
The fathers assembled one cold winter night,
A glance from the Primate, calm, thoughtful, and stern,
The Sacristan placed himself close by the fire,
And with turf, furze, and log, made the flame to mount higher; While the fat father John, all inspired by the bowl,
Poured forth to his viol the strains of his soul.
See "Tracts for the Times," and other Puseyite publications, passim.
In the choice of a song for a moment he wavered,
Father John's Song.
Ave Maria! 'tis the bell
Is pealing forth its nightly knell,
Come, fill the bowl and pass it round,
For gentle love and mantling wine,
Ave Maria! 'tis the bell
Is pealing forth its nightly knell,
Not alone sang the father: the voice of the lute
Nor few their applauses, the tones of the lyre
But mightier the triumph when soft like the air
O'er the harpstrings that sweeps, rose the voice of the fair.
First Damsel's Song.
(To the Evening Star.)
There's a shadow wherever thy soft beams are falling,
In the blue arch of heaven there are stars that shine brightly,
But shadowless all, for their rays touch us lightly
As coldly they sweep round the star-lighted pole!
And 'tis thus with love's passion, though pure as the splendour That beams from thy circlet of radiance afar,
In the bloom of our days, when the young heart is tender,
But, alas, there's a shadow in love, and he blendeth
And for each charm he gives there's a sorrow that rendeth
Ha! see you the Prior? he lies at the feet
Of the damsel whose lips and whose strains are so sweet.
As he tunes to the praises of Bacchus his lyre!