Second Hand Books

Post » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:45 am

About ten years ago I worked on some books for a few now long-dead Morrowind mods. Some of them were my own work to fill what I saw as a few gaps in Tamrielic literature; others were fully 'Tamrielised' versions of fantastic old public domain works that most people will never read but really should (and which could be reduced to the length of the average Morrowind book and littered with in-universe references).

I recently dug them back up while sorting through my hard drive and on remembering how much fun I had writing them, I thought I'd put them back into the community in case anyone wanted to reuse them as a resource or just fancied having a read.

Hopefully the pre-formatted text for use in TES Construction Set is not too annoying to read, but I thought it was wise to leave it in since all of these books were originally designed to be read in-game in the first place. However, if it really is too much to bear (and most importantly, if you like everything else you're reading), let me know and I'll post everything again with the code edited out.

If you actually (gods forbid) like my work so much that you want more, I'm happy to take suggestions - and I also have several other works that I never finished, such as a three-volume series on magical constructs by a master conjurer, the published scrawlings of an insane sewer architect, and my completely fan-fiction (but hopefully plausible) 'House Dagoth, A History', which lay down some of the backstory for a mod I was going to make as a sequel to Morrowind which would've answered the question 'Where exactly was the Nerevarine during the Oblivion Crisis and whose [censored] was he kicking?'

Please let me know what you think! I could definitely benefit from criticism. If you do want to use any of these in your own mods for any of the Elder Scrolls titles, please feel free (although since I have never used a Skyrim editor, I have no idea whether the code is the same as it was back when I was writing for Morrowind). Just be sure to credit the original real-world author (if appropriate) and myself.

Enjoy. :)

My Stuff

'Realm Walking: An Introduction to Transliminal Travel' by Carola Sanis


Realm Walking

An Introduction to Transliminal Travel

by Carola Sanis

Cosmology, what we know about the planes of existence and our place within them, is without a doubt one of the most interesting and important fields of study available to us. Indeed, one could say that it ultimately encapsulates the entirety of mortal experience and purpose. Throngs of men and mer have dedicated their entire lives to cosmological exploration and understanding, and yet we still know surprisingly little about the realms beyond our own. Much of this difficulty stems from the existence of a 'liminal barrier' between Mundus and Oblivion which makes transit between the two realms extremely difficult. It is possible to pierce the barrier from either side, but such an action tends to require either a combination of rare artifacts of Aedric provenance; or else total cooperation between a daedroth and a mortal and a combination of materials both Mundane (and hence generally inaccessible to daedra) and Obliviate (the reverse).

Of course, we know only too well that daedra are summoned to Mundus frequently and have even mounted several large-scale invasions in the past. However, to the good fortune of all mortals, only a very limited number of daedra have the magical resources and mortal support to stay indefinitely, and no more than a handful of these are what could be considered 'greater daedra'. As for the daedra princes themselves, residing here is unthinkable: they are bound so strongly to their realm that they weaken with every moment they are present on Mundus, until they simply cease to exist corporeally on the mortal plane. Although it is possible to counter this fading effect to a degree, the sheer willpower required makes the method impractical in anything but the short-term. Even gods have an upper limit to their mental reserves.

For mortals, the situation is quite a different story. Bearing souls that are unanchored to any plane of existence, once in Oblivion they may stay for as long as they desire. However, it is the getting there that is the difficulty, as it requires far more complicated and powerful rituals than those used in the conjuror's art.

The only widely-known method of transit is through the use of a 'sigil stone' (a brilliant description of which may be found in Camilonwe of Alinor's ‘Liminal Bridges’), a method which is unfortunately both incredibly dangerous and woefully impractical, for unless the transliminal traveler is able to conduct her business in Oblivion in the scant few minutes that the bridge remains open, she will find herself stranded indefinitely - the dreadful flipside of being unanchored to Mundus.

The other methods of mortal traverse are, unfortunately, a secret jealously guarded by the ancient and most high orders of magic that devised them. The Order of Psijics and the Imperial Battlemages have both made use of permanent gates to the Outer Realms, but the location and mechanics of these 'Doors to Oblivion' are secrets well kept. Similarly, the Rite of Blink Passage is, to this author's knowledge, known only to Seif-ij Hidja, his presently missing master Morian Zenas, and the Telvanni Wizard Divayth Fyr, none of whom could be persuaded to share their knowledge of the ritual, save that it apparently requires the use of portals entered through a certain kind of meditative state.

As infuriating as it may be for some of the more intrepid among us that the easy paths to Oblivion are purposely hidden by our fellow mortals, one must remain mindful that the maintained strength of the liminal barrier is of vital importance to the welfare of all. Should the barrier fall, Mundus would be wholly unprotected from the molestation of every daedroth in Oblivion – and (Talos forbid) a return to the state of pure chaos of the Mythic Era is within the interest of no mortal. Every cosmologist must temper their curiosity with caution, for none can dare risk our entire world in the pursuit of knowledge.

'Mathematics for Pious Children' by Alba Domus


Mathematics for Pious Children

By Alba Domus

I. If I have one hundred and thirty-two septims and give sixty septims as an offering to the Nine, how many do I have left?

II. The healer at the chapel has been very industrious (praise Zenethar) over the last two weeks. She sold eight hundred and fifty-one potions and salves last week. This week she sold a further two hundred and two potions and salves. How many potions and salves has she sold in total?

III. Three candlesticks and two prayerbooks weigh three hundred and twenty angaids. Four candlesticks and three prayerbooks weigh four hundred and fourty angaids. All prayerbooks weigh the same as one another, as do all candlesticks. What is the weight of two candlesticks and one prayerbook?

IV. Brother Cybert has harvested fifty apples to share with eight chapel-going children of the village. He wants to give the same amount to each child. How many apples will each child have and how many will Brother Cybert have left over?

V. There are twenty-four people in my congregation. If eighteen of my flock are pious and honest and make frequent offerings to Stendarr, what percentage are impious slackers?

VI. I saved five heathen souls for the Nine on Mondas, seven on Tirdas, four on Middas, two on Turdas, seven on Fredas, six on Loredas, and nine on Sundas. What was my average of souls saved for that week?

VII. Workmen are creating a frame for a new painting of Count Charus Valga. Four strips of wood four pertans long and one pertan wide are arranged to form a square. What is the area of the painting in the inner sqaure in pertans-squared?

VIII. A heretical book on Dunmer gods is one tenth of one pertan thick. It is cut in half and one piece is placed on the other to make a pile. These are cut in half and all four pieces are placed in a pile. These four are cut in half and placed in a pile, and the process is continued. After the pieces have been cut and piled for the tenth time, what is the height of the pile in pertans?

IX. A pilgrim leaves Chorrol riding consistently at five leagues per hour, heading for Imperial City. Another pilgrim leaves Imperial City at the same moment and rides consistently at seven leagues per hour, heading for Chorrol. Assuming that the length of the road between the two cites is 100 leagues, how far from Imperial City will the pilgrims be when they exchange blessings?

Look not for an answer page. Answers freely given encourage laziness.

'An Orc Story' by Glarthur Merowald

(Inspired by the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest)


An Orc Story

by Glarthur Merowald Esq.

Krom Bubblesnot was an orc of simple orcish pleasures, like kicking chickens and farting in the bath. He also smelled of rotting pork. He had come to Skaven only last Tirdas, to engage in an extreme ballooning contest across the wastelands of Hammerfell. But he had found a tavern in the [censored] end of town and now he was totally off his haycart and reeked with that horrible kind of an orcish funk that defies description.

'OOOORAAAGH,' he burbled half-awake into the remains of his pie. 'OOOURRRGHHblublublub.' The handsome yet ever-so-slightly rotund Breton wench, you know the kind, who had been espying him from the bar trundled in his direction. She had the kind of face that made you want to say hey, look at your face.

'Alroight moi luvvie?' she rasped kinda saucily as she adjusted her brassiere and deftly nibbled on some cheese. 'Oi’d let yeh stay and sleep it ahhf only oi’ve gotta mop the crap off the floor and lock the pub. It is almost daybreak you see.'

Krom raised his red eyes to her face and sighed into his dumplings.

'Fine,' he grumbled as he hefted himself from the tabletop and staggered in the direction of what he expected to be the door.

The wench made it there before him and opened it before he fell through it. As Krom was more or less bodily outside the inn, the wench whose name was Ramona or something sensuous like that heaved a sigh of relief and with a shove closed the door behind him (only it was probably closer to his chest).

Krom crossed his eyes and drunkenly examined a particle of dirt-like sand he had pinched between his horrible fingers. It looked very interesting until it began to get blurry, which started to bring back the nausea. He clawed at his stomach as he heaved. The various things he had consumed that night did not complement one another, he concluded as he drifted back into darkness.

He was awoken by screaming, as a rather racy-looking passer-by noticed the ugly green-skinned, black-haired (forsooth: green like the fungus under my right big toenail, black like a dark, stormy night or a fishy stick after a week) body lying in the street. It rolled over, its head in its hands, and groaned.

'Golly! What manner of foul, ugly, godless misbegotten barbarian troglodyte lies yonder?' shrieked the woman as she swooned.

[The story continues rather odiously for several dozen pages.]

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Chase McAbee
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Post » Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:12 pm


'The Trial of Sanirel' by Piero, translated by Grubius Tertius

(adapted from 'The Trial of Socrates' by Plato, translated by George Grube)


The Trial of Sanirel

Recorded by Peiro

Translated by Grubius Tertius

A Word from the Translator: I have done my best to translate Sanirel’s sublime rhetoric into the common tongue without disrupting the style and flow of the original Aldmeris, though admittedly I have been handicapped in this quest by several complicating factors. In the first instance, it was impossible in this case to consult the foremost experts on the language of early First Era scholarship on account of their being High Elves; Sanirel’s philosophy of humility and skepticism is still considered tantamount to heresy by orthodox members of that race. Also, the latter part of the speech has regrettably either been lost to the sands of time or (more likely) destroyed during the original suppression of the text in the Summerset Isles. That we have this much of Sanirel’s philosophy to appreciate is nevertheless a great mercy and thus I hope, dear reader, that you will enjoy this great work and forgive any deficiencies in my rendering of it.

Thus follows Sanirel’s Speech to the Assembly-Jury:

O brothers of Alinor, my accusers speak with strength and grace. Indeed, they have truly artful tongues, for the weight of noble indignation in their voices almost carried me away in spite of myself! I should not be surprised if you were touched in kind by their oratory, for I see not a Mer among you who would not do all in his power to protect our people from corruption and deceit. Yet, good sirs, that Sanirel of all Altmer stands now on trial for such impious crimes is such a wild claim as to turn Crystal-Like-Law upon its head.

Let us take this case from the beginning, so I may set you aright: I am a false teacher, says Metolon, guilty of teaching the ways of the Chimer and the Dread Prince of Plots, of making the worse the stronger argument, of consulting with the Gheatus below the earth, and many other claims of a wild nature. Not one of them is true. I have never argued in the vein of Fiend, Dissident or Daedra, by Auriel, and I call upon all those of you who have ever heard me talking in the Citadel and who call themselves honest Mer as witnesses to this truth, or else to stand and recount as sworn evidence every occurrence of heresy they have themselves heard from my lips - and not that received as mere rumor circulated by this faction.

Not a murmur? Very well then, but please interrupt me at your leisure should but one such memory cross your mind. Of course, the sharpest of you might interrupt me and say: 'But Sanirel, if you are a true teacher, why do you claim no occupation and charge no fee for your counsel? What sustains you, for Phynaster’s sake? Surely you busy yourself with something out of the common and taboo to our folk, for these rumors would not have blossomed without a seed of truth.'

Anyone who says that seems to be right, and I will try to show you what has caused this reputation and slander. Listen then: what has caused my reputation is none other than a certain kind of wisdom. What kind of wisdom? Mortal wisdom, perhaps. I cannot explain it, for there are more things in the heavens and on Nirn than can ever be bound by my philosophy. O, there are surely those who are wise with a wisdom more than mortal, but I certainly do not possess wisdom of this highest order, and whoever says I do is lying and speaks to slander me.

Now, please, do not create a disturbance, even if you think I am boasting, for this story I tell was not recorded by my hand. Many years ago, I consulted with the scryers and the priests, as is our custom, to ask the advice of Xarxes, He Who Remembers. I asked: 'Who are the very wisest of the Altmer yet living, that I may study their wisdom and better myself?' The reply was - and as I say, was set into the record of the temple - that there were none yet living wiser than I.

I do not boast. Indeed, I was vexed, as you surely are now, and asked myself: 'Whatever does He mean? I am very conscious that I am not wise at all; what then does He mean by saying that I am the wisest? For surely the Aedra do not lie; it is not legitimate for them to do so.' I was troubled for many months and was at a loss as to their meaning; but finally, reluctantly, I turned to some such investigation as this: I should go to one of those reputed wise, thinking that there, if anywhere, I could refute the God of Secret Knowledge and say to Him, 'This Mer is wiser than I, but you said I was wiser than he.'

I examined a councilor considered well-bred and wise - there is no need for me to tell you his name - and my experience was this: I thought that he appeared wise to the folk of the city and especially to himself, but he was not. I then tried to show him that he thought himself wise, but that he was not. As a result he came to dislike me, and so did many of the bystanders. So I withdrew and thought to myself: 'I am wiser than this councilor; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know.' Then I went to another, who had even higher pretensions, and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.

After this I went to one Altmer after another, and though I was conscious of the enmity I provoked in my investigations, I knew that I should attach the highest importance to the proclamation of Xarxes; so I must go to all those who had any reputation for wisdom to examine its meaning. And hear me now, for I tell the truth: I found, by Syrabane, that those who were thought to be inferior were more knowledgeable.

I pray silence, my friends, for these were labors I had undertaken to prove an Aedra irrefutable. Among the Artists and Princes, as with the Wise, I talked, intending in each case to catch myself being more ignorant than they. But yet they rivaled the teachers and the priests in their folly. Seeing no high-born man who I could not claim this advantage over, I went to the workers, rough and ill-bred, for I knew that I would find that they had knowledge of many fine things. In this I was not mistaken; they knew things I did not know, and to that extent they were wiser than I. But even they had the same fault as their superiors: each of them, because of his success in his craft, thought himself very wise in other most important pursuits, and this error of theirs overshadowed the wisdom they had. I left them still thinking it was better to desire to be as I am, without their wisdom or their ignorance, than to have both.

It is this investigation which brought me much unpopularity of a kind that is hard to deal with and is a heavy burden. I gained, too, a reputation for wisdom among a few young Altmer. What is probable, is that in fact the Aedra are wise and that their response to my question is that mortal wisdom is worth little or nothing, as if Xarxes had said: 'You, Sanirel, is wisest who understands that his wisdom is worthless.' So even now I continue this investigation as my Better bade me, and I go around seeking out any Mer of the Isles whom I think wise. Then if I see that he is not, I come to the assistance of Lord Xarxes and show him the limits of his wisdom.

Edgar Allen Poe

Hop-Frog by Egarius Alepus



by Egarius Alepus

I NEVER knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He seemed to live only for joking. To tell a good story of the joke kind, and to tell it well, was the surest road to his favor. Thus it happened that his seven ministers were all noted for their accomplishments as jokers. They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, oily men, as well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or whether there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never been quite able to determine; but certain it is that a lean joker is a rare bird in Mundus.

About the refinements, or, as he called them, the 'ghost' of wit, the king troubled himself very little. He had an especial admiration for breadth in a jest, and would often put up with length, for the sake of it. Over-niceties wearied him. He would have preferred Sunhous' 'Gargantua' to the 'Llervu' of Morvir: and, upon the whole, practical jokes suited his taste far better than verbal ones.

At the date of my narrative, professing jesters had not altogether gone out of fashion at court. Several of the great states of High Rock still retain their 'fools,' who wore motley, with caps and bells, and who were expected to be always ready with sharp witticisms, at a moment's notice, in consideration of the crumbs that fell from the royal table.

Our king, as a matter of course, retained his 'fool.' The fact is, he required something in the way of folly - if only to counterbalance the heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who were his ministers - not to mention himself.

His fool, or professional jester, was not only a fool, however. His value was trebled in the eyes of the king, by the fact of his being also an Orc, a half-size, and a cripple. Orcs were as common at court, in those days, as fools; and many monarchs would have found it difficult to get through their days (days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without both a jester to laugh with, and an Orc to laugh at. But, as I have already observed, your jesters, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, are fat, round, and unwieldy - so that it was no small source of self-gratulation with our king that, in Hop-Frog (this was the fool's name), he possessed a triplicate treasure in one person.

I believe the name 'Hop-Frog' was not that given to the Orc at birth, but it was conferred upon him, by general consent of the several ministers, on account of his inability to walk as other people do. In fact, Hop-Frog could only get along by a sort of interjectional gait-something between a leap and a wriggle-a movement that afforded illimitable amusemant, and of course consolation, to the king, for (notwithstanding the protuberance of his stomach and a constitutional swelling of the head) the king, by his whole court, was accounted a capital figure.

But although Hop-Frog, through the distortion of his legs, could move only with great pain and difficulty along a road or floor, the prodigious muscular power which nature seemed to have bestowed upon his arms, by way of compensation for deficiency in the lower limbs, enabled him to perform many feats of wonderful dexterity, where trees or ropes were in question, or anything else to climb. At such exercises he certainly much more resembled a squirrel, or a small monkey, than a frog. I am not able to say, with precision, from what region of High Rock Hop-Frog originally came. It was from some barbarous array of hills, however, that no person ever heard of - a vast distance from the court of our king. Hop-Frog, and a young female similarly diminutive to himself (although of exquisite proportions, and a marvellous dancer), had been forcibly carried off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces, and sent as presents to the king, by one of his ever-victorious generals.

Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that a close intimacy arose between the two little captives. Indeed, they soon became sworn friends. Hop-Frog, who, although he made a great deal of sport, was by no means popular, had it not in his power to render Trippetta many services; but she, on account of her grace and exquisite beauty (although an Orc), was universally admired and petted; so she possessed much influence; and never failed to use it, whenever she could, for the benefit of Hop-Frog.

On some grand state occasion - I forgot what - the king determined to have a masquerade, and whenever a masquerade or any thing of that kind, occurred at our court, then the talents, both of Hop-Frog and Trippetta were sure to be called into play. Hop-Frog, in especial, was so inventive in the way of getting up pageants, suggesting novel characters, and arranging costumes, for masked balls, that nothing could be done, it seems, without his assistance.

The night appointed for the fete had arrived. A gorgeous hall had been fitted up, under Trippetta's eye, with every kind of device which could possibly give eclat to a masquerade. The whole court was in a fever of expectation. As for costumes and characters, it might well be supposed that everybody had come to a decision on such points. Many had made up their minds (as to what roles they should assume) a week, or even a month, in advance; and, in fact, there was not a particle of indecision anywhere - except in the case of the king and his seven minsters. Why they hesitated I never could tell, unless they did it by way of a joke. More probably, they found it difficult, on account of being so fat, to make up their minds. At all events, time flew; and, as a last resort they sent for Trippetta and Hop-Frog.

When the two little friends obeyed the summons of the king they found him sitting at his wine with the seven members of his cabinet council; but the monarch appeared to be in a very ill humor. He knew that Hop-Frog was not fond of wine, for it excited the poor cripple almost to madness; and madness is no comfortable feeling. But the king loved his practical jokes, and took pleasure in forcing Hop-Frog to drink and (as the king called it) 'to be merry.'

'Come here, Hop-Frog,' said he, as the jester and his friend entered the room; 'swallow this bumper to the health of your absent friends, [here Hop-Frog sighed,] and then let us have the benefit of your invention. We want characters - characters, man - something novel - out of the way. We are wearied with this everlasting sameness. Come, drink! the wine will brighten your wits.'

Hop-Frog endeavored, as usual, to get up a jest in reply to these advances from the king; but the effort was too much. It happened to be the poor Orc's birthday, and the command to drink to his 'absent friends' forced the tears to his eyes. Many large, bitter drops fell into the goblet as he took it, humbly, from the hand of the tyrant.

'Ah! ha! ha!' roared the latter, as the Orc reluctantly drained the beaker.-'See what a glass of good wine can do! Why, your eyes are shining already!'

Poor fellow! his large eyes gleamed, rather than shone; for the effect of wine on his excitable brain was not more powerful than instantaneous. He placed the goblet nervously on the table, and looked round upon the company with a half-insane stare. They all seemed highly amused at the success of the king's 'joke.'

'And now to business,' said the court wizard, a very fat man.

'Yes,' said the King; 'Come lend us your assistance. Characters, my fine fellow; we stand in need of characters-all of us-ha! ha! ha!' and as this was seriously meant for a joke, his laugh was chorused by the seven.

Hop-Frog also laughed although feebly and somewhat vacantly.

'Come, come,' said the king, impatiently, 'have you nothing to suggest?'

'I am endeavoring to think of something novel,' replied the Orc, abstractedly, for he was quite bewildered by the wine.

'Endeavoring!' cried the tyrant, fiercely; 'what do you mean by that? Ah, I perceive. You are Sulky, and want more wine. Here, drink this!' and he poured out another goblet full and offered it to the cripple, who merely gazed at it, gasping for breath.

'Drink, I say!' shouted the monster, 'or by the fiends-'

The Orc hesitated. The king grew purple with rage. The courtiers smirked. Trippetta, pale as a corpse, advanced to the monarch's seat, and, falling on her knees before him, implored him to spare her friend.

The tyrant regarded her, for some moments, in evident wonder at her audacity. He seemed quite at a loss what to do or say - how most becomingly to express his indignation. At last, without uttering a syllable, he pushed her violently from him, and threw the contents of the brimming goblet in her face.

The poor girl got up the best she could, and, not daring even to sigh, resumed her position at the foot of the table.

There was a dead silence for about half a minute, during which the falling of a leaf, or of a feather, might have been heard. It was interrupted by a low, but harsh and protracted grating sound which seemed to come at once from every corner of the room.

'What - what - what are you making that noise for?' demanded the king, turning furiously to the Orc.

The latter seemed to have recovered, in great measure, from his intoxication, and looking fixedly but quietly into the tyrant's face, merely ejaculated:

'I - I? How could it have been me?'

'The sound appeared to come from without,' observed one of the courtiers. 'I fancy it was the parrot at the window, whetting his bill upon his cage-wires.'

'True,' replied the monarch, as if much relieved by the suggestion; 'but, on the honor of a knight, I could have sworn that it was the gritting of this vagabond's teeth.'

Hereupon the Orc laughed (the king was too confirmed a joker to object to any one's laughing), and displayed a set of large, powerful, and very repulsive teeth. Moreover, he avowed his perfect willingness to swallow as much wine as desired. The monarch was pacified; and having drained another bumper with no very perceptible ill effect, Hop-Frog entered at once, and with spirit, into the plans for the masquerade.

'I cannot tell what was the association of idea,' observed he, very tranquilly, and as if he had never tasted wine in his life, 'but just after your majesty, had struck the girl and thrown the wine in her face - just after your majesty had done this, and while the parrot was making that odd noise outside the window, there came into my mind a capital diversion - one of my own country frolics - often enacted among us, at our masquerades: but here it will be new altogether. Unfortunately, however, it requires a company of eight persons and-'

'Here we are!' cried the king, laughing at his acute discovery of the coincidence; 'eight to a fraction - I and my seven ministers. Come! what is the diversion?'

'We call it,' replied the cripple, 'the Eight Chained Imga, and it really is excellent sport if well enacted.'

'We will enact it,' remarked the king, drawing himself up, and lowering his eyelids.

'The beauty of the game,' continued Hop-Frog, 'lies in the fright it occasions among the women.'

'Capital!' roared in chorus the monarch and his ministry.

'I will equip you as Imga,' proceeded the Orc; 'leave all that to me. The resemblance shall be so striking, that the company of masqueraders will take you for real beasts - and of course, they will be as much terrified as astonished.'

'Oh, this is exquisite!' exclaimed the king. 'Hop-Frog! I will make a man of you.'

'The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by their jangling. You are supposed to have escaped, en masse, from your keepers. Your majesty cannot conceive the effect produced, at a masquerade, by eight chained Imga, imagined to be real ones by most of the company; and rushing in with savage cries, among the crowd of delicately and gorgeously habited men and women. The contrast is inimitable!'

'It must be,' said the king: and the council arose hurriedly (as it was growing late), to put in execution the scheme of Hop-Frog.

His mode of equipping the party as Imga was very simple, but effective enough for his purposes. The beastmen in question had, at the epoch of my story, been seen by few outside of Valenwood; and as the imitations made by the Orc were sufficiently beast-like and more than sufficiently hideous, their truthfulness to nature was thus thought to be secured.

The king and his ministers were first encased in tight-fitting stockinet shirts and drawers. They were then saturated with tar. At this stage of the process, some one of the party suggested feathers; but the suggestion was at once overruled by the Orc, who soon convinced the eight, by ocular demonstration, that the hair of such a brute as the Imga was much more efficiently represented by flax. A thick coating of the latter was accordingly plastered upon the coating of tar. A long chain was now procured. First, it was passed about the waist of the king, and tied, then about another of the party, and also tied; then about all successively, in the same manner. When this chaining arrangement was complete, and the party stood as far apart from each other as possible, they formed a circle; and to make all things appear natural, Hop-Frog passed the residue of the chain in two diameters, at right angles, across the circle, after the fashion adopted, at the present day, by those who capture Ogres, or other such dull creatures, in Cyrodiil.

The grand saloon in which the masquerade was to take place, was a circular room, very lofty, and receiving the light of the sun only through a single window at top. At night (the season for which the apartment was especially designed) it was illuminated principally by a large chandelier, depending by a chain from the centre of the sky-light, and lowered, or elevated, by means of a counter-balance as usual; but (in order not to look unsightly) this latter passed outside the cupola and over the roof.

The arrangements of the room had been left to Trippetta's superintendence; but, in some particulars, it seems, she had been guided by the calmer judgment of her friend the Orc. At his suggestion it was that, on this occasion, the chandelier was removed. Its waxen drippings (which, in weather so warm, it was quite impossible to prevent) would have been seriously detrimental to the rich dresses of the guests, who, on account of the crowded state of the saloon, could not all be expected to keep from out its centre; that is to say, from under the chandelier. Additional sconces were set in various parts of the hall, out of the way, and a lamp, emitting sweet odors, was placed in the right hand of each of the statues that stood against the wall - some fifty or sixty altogether.

The eight Imga, taking Hop-Frog's advice, waited patiently until midnight (when the room was thoroughly filled with masqueraders) before making their appearance. No sooner had the clock ceased striking, however, than they rushed, or rather rolled in, all together - for the impediments of their chains caused most of the party to fall, and all to stumble as they entered.

The excitement among the masqueraders was prodigious, and filled the heart of the king with glee. As had been anticipated, there were not a few of the guests who supposed the ferocious-looking creatures to be beasts of some kind in reality, if not precisely Imga. Many of the women swooned with affright; and had not the king taken the precaution to exclude all weapons from the saloon, his party might soon have expiated their frolic in their blood. As it was, a general rush was made for the doors; but the king had ordered them to be locked immediately upon his entrance; and, at the Orc's suggestion, the keys had been deposited with him.

While the tumult was at its height, and each masquerader attentive only to his own safety (for, in fact, there was much real danger from the pressure of the excited crowd), the chain by which the chandelier ordinarily hung, and which had been drawn up on its removal, might have been seen very gradually to descend, until its hooked extremity came within three feet of the floor.

Soon after this, the king and his seven friends having reeled about the hall in all directions, found themselves, at length, in its centre, and, of course, in immediate contact with the chain. While they were thus situated, the Orc, who had followed noiselessly at their heels, inciting them to keep up the commotion, took hold of their own chain at the intersection of the two portions which crossed the circle diametrically and at right angles. Here, with the rapidity of thought, he inserted the hook from which the chandelier had been wont to depend; and, in an instant, by some unseen agency, the chandelier-chain was drawn so far upward as to take the hook out of reach, and, as an inevitable consequence, to drag the Imga together in close connection, and face to face.

The masqueraders, by this time, had recovered, in some measure, from their alarm; and, beginning to regard the whole matter as a well-contrived pleasantry, set up a loud shout of laughter at the predicament of the apes.

'Leave them to me!' now screamed Hop-Frog, his shrill voice making itself easily heard through all the din. 'Leave them to me. I fancy I know them. If I can only get a good look at them, I can soon tell who they are.'

Here, scrambling over the heads of the crowd, he managed to get to the wall; when, seizing a lamp from one of the statues, he returned, as he went, to the centre of the room-leaping, with the agility of a monkey, upon the kings head, and thence clambered a few feet up the chain; holding down the torch to examine the group of Imga, and still screaming: 'I shall soon find out who they are!'

And now, while the whole assembly (the apes included) were convulsed with laughter, the jester suddenly uttered a shrill whistle; when the chain flew violently up for about thirty feet-dragging with it the dismayed and struggling Imga, and leaving them suspended in mid-air between the sky-light and the floor. Hop-Frog, clinging to the chain as it rose, still maintained his relative position in respect to the eight maskers, and still (as if nothing were the matter) continued to thrust his torch down toward them, as though endeavoring to discover who they were.

So thoroughly astonished was the whole company at this ascent, that a dead silence, of about a minute's duration, ensued. It was broken by just such a low, harsh, grating sound, as had before attracted the attention of the king and his councillors when the former threw the wine in the face of Trippetta. But, on the present occasion, there could be no question as to whence the sound issued. It came from the fang-like teeth of the Orc, who ground them and gnashed them as he foamed at the mouth, and glared, with an expression of maniacal rage, into the upturned countenances of the king and his seven companions.

'Ah, ha!' said at length the infuriated jester. 'Ah, ha! I begin to see who these people are now!' Here, pretending to scrutinize the king more closely, he held the lamp to the flaxen coat which enveloped him, and which instantly burst into a sheet of vivid flame. In less than half a minute the whole eight Imga were blazing fiercely, amid the shrieks of the multitude who gazed at them from below, horror-stricken, and without the power to render them the slightest assistance.

At length the flames, suddenly increasing in virulence, forced the jester to climb higher up the chain, to be out of their reach; and, as he made this movement, the crowd again sank, for a brief instant, into silence. The Orc seized his opportunity, and once more spoke:

'I now see distinctly.' he said, 'what manner of people these maskers are. They are a great king and his seven privy-councillors, - a king who does not scruple to strike a defenceless girl and his seven councillors who abet him in the outrage. As for myself, I am simply Hop-Frog, the jester - and this is my last jest.'

Owing to the high combustibility of both the flax and the tar to which it adhered, the Orc had scarcely made an end of his brief speech before the work of vengeance was complete. The eight corpses swung in their chains, a fetid, blackened, hideous, and indistinguishable mass. The cripple hurled his lamp at them, clambered leisurely to the ceiling, and disappeared through the sky-light.

It is supposed that Trippetta, stationed on the roof of the saloon, had been the accomplice of her friend in his fiery revenge, and that, together, they effected their escape to their own country: for neither was seen again.

The Cask of Abeleneo by Egarius Alepus

(The Cask of Amontillado)


The Cask of Abeleneo

by Egarius Alepus

THE thousand injuries of Fortunatus I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled --but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong. It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunatus cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my in to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.

He had a weak point - this Fortunatus - although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few Cyrodiils have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity, to practise imposture upon wealthy Bretons. In painting and gemmary, Fortunatus, like his countrymen, was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially; I was skilful in the Cyrodillic vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme insanity of the Mad Pelagius festival, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. The man wore a jester's motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand.

I said to him: 'My dear Fortunatus, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking today. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Abeleneo, and I have my doubts that it is Rislav's Own Vintage.'

'How?' said he. 'Abeleneo, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of Mad Pelagius!'

'I have my doubts,' I replied; 'and I was silly enough to pay the full Abeleneo price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.'


'I have my doubts.'


'And I must satisfy them.'


'As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresius. If anyone has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me --'

'Luchresius cannot tell Abeleneo from shein.'

'And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.'

'Come, let us go.'


'To your vaults.'

'My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. Luchresius--'

'I have no engagement; --come.'

'My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre.'

'Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Abeleneo! You have been imposed upon. And as for Luchresius, he cannot distinguish shein from Abeleneo.'

Thus speaking, Fortunatus possessed himself of my arm; and putting on a mask of black silk and drawing a cloak closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my mansion.

There were no attendants at home; they had absconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to ensure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunatus, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and stood together upon the damp ground of the catacombs of the Montresors of Wayrest.

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his cap jingled as he strode.

'The pipe,' he said.

'It is farther on,' said I; 'but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.'

He turned towards me, and looked into my eves with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.

'Nitre?' he asked, at length.

'Nitre,' I replied. 'How long have you had that cough?'

'Ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh! --ugh! ugh! ugh!'

My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many minutes.

'It is nothing,' he said, at last.

'Come,' I said, with decision, 'we will go back; your health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchresius --'

'Enough,' he said; 'the cough's a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.'

'True --true,' I replied; 'and, indeed, I had no intention of alarming you unnecessarily --but you should use all proper caution. A draught of this Maro will defend us from the damps.

Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould.

'Drink,' I said, presenting him the wine.

He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled.

'I drink,' he said, 'to the buried that repose around us.'

'And I to your long life.'

He again took my arm, and we proceeded.

'These vaults,' he said, 'are extensive.'

'The Montresors,' I replied, 'were a great and numerous Breton family.'

'I forget your arms.'

'A huge foot d'or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.'

'And the motto?'

'No-one injures me with impunity.'

'Good!' he said.

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My own fancy grew warm with the Maro. We had passed through long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunatus by an arm above the elbow.

'The nitre!' I said; 'see, it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough --'

'It is nothing,' he said; 'let us go on. But first, another draught of the Maro.'

I broke and reached him a flagon of Degrave. He emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement - a grotesque one.

'You do not comprehend?' he said.

'Not I,' I replied.

'Then you are not of the brotherhood.'


'You are not of the White Gold Masons.'

'Yes, yes,' I said; 'yes, yes.'

'You? Impossible! A mason?'

'A mason,' I replied.

'A sign,' he said, 'a sign.'

'It is this,' I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my cloak a trowel.

'You jest,' he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. 'But let us proceed to the Abeleneo.'

'Be it so,' I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of the Abeleneo. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame.

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great catacombs of Solitude. Three sides of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this manner. From the fourth side the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a still interior crypt or recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid granite.

It was in vain that Fortunatus, uplifting his dull torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see.

'Proceed,' I said; 'herein is the Abeleneo. As for Luchresius --'

'He is an ignoramus,' interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In niche, and finding an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess.

'Pass your hand,' I said, 'over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power.'

'The Abeleneo!' ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment.

'True,' I replied; 'the Abeleneo.'

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunatus had in a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man. There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth; and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a level with my briast. I again paused, and holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble rays upon the figure within.

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated, I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. I reapproached the wall; I replied to the yells of him who clamoured. I re-echoed, I aided, I surpassed them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still.

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth and the tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I struggled with its weight; I placed it partially in its destined position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fortunatus. The voice said--

'Ha! ha! ha! --he! he! he! --a very good joke, indeed --an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the mansion --he! he! he! --over our wine --he! he! he!'

'The Abeleneo!' I said.

'He! he! he! --he! he! he! --yes, the Abeleneo. But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the mansion, the Lady Fortunatus and the rest? Let us be gone.'

'Yes,' I said, 'let us be gone.'

'For the love of Mara, Montresor!'

'Yes,' I said, 'for the love of Mara!'

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud --


No answer. I called again --


No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick; it was the dampness of the catacombs that made it so. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For half a century no mortal has disturbed them. Rest in peace!

The Tell-Tale Heart by Egarius Alepus


The Tell-Tale Heart

by Egarius Alepus

TRUE! - nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses - not destroyed - not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heavens and on Nirn. I heard many things from Oblivion. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily - how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a daedroth - a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees - very gradually - I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded - with what caution - with what foresight - with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it - oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head.

Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly - very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously - oh, so cautiously - cautiously (for the hinges creaked) - I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the daedroth eye. And this I did for seven long nights - every night just at midnight - but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A clocktower's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers - of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back - but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out - 'Who's there?'

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; - just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief - oh, no! - it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what that old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself - 'It is nothing but the wind in the chimney - it is only a mouse crossing the floor,' or 'It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.' Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel - although he neither saw nor heard - to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little - a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it - you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily - until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the daedroth eye.

It was open - wide, wide open - and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness - all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for Sheogorath’s touch is but over-acuteness of the senses? - now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a filled soulgem makes when enveloped in cloth. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! - do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me - the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room.

He shrieked once - once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no eye of Man or Mer - not even his - could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out - no stain of any kind - no blood-spot whatsoever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all - ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the fourth hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, - for what had I now to fear? There entered three Men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the watch. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the guardhouse, and they (the guardsmen) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled, - for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was abroad. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search - search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they pvssyd of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still pvssyd. The ringing became more distinct: - It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling - but it continued and gained definiteness - until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale; - but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased - and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound - much such a sound as a filled soulgem makes when enveloped in cloth. I gasped for breath - and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly - more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men - but the noise steadily increased.

Oh gods! what could I do? I foamed - I raved - I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder - louder - louder! And still the men pvssyd pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty Akatosh! - no, no! They heard! - they suspected! - they knew! - they were making a mockery of my horror! - this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now - again! - hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! - tear up the planks! here, here! - It is the beating of his hideous heart!'

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Kelly John
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Post » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:39 pm

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Ancient Mariner v1 by Simmir the Bard


The Ancient Mariner, v 1

by Simmir the Bard


It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

`By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,

Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The bridegroom's doors are opened wide,

And I am next of kin;

The guests are met, the feast is set:

Mayst hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,

'There was a ship,' quoth he.

`Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'

Eftsoons his hand dropped he.

He holds him with his glittering eye -

The Wedding-Guest stood still,

And listens like a three years' child:

The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:

He cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Marineer.

'The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,

Merrily did we drop

Below the church, below the hill,

Below the lighthouse top.

The sun came up upon the right,

Out of the sea came he!

And he shone bright, and on the left

Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,

Till over the mast at noon -'

The Wedding-Guest here beat his briast,

For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,

Red as a rose is she;

Nodding their heads before her goes

The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his briast,

Yet he cannot choose but hear;

And thus spake on that ancient man,

The bright-eyed Mariner.

'And now the storm-blast came, and he

Was tyrannous and strong:

He struck with his o'ertaking wings,

And chased us north along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,

As who pursued with yell and blow

Still treads the shadow of his foe,

And fo’ward bends his head,

The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,

And northward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,

And it grew wondrous cold:

And ice, mast-high, came floating by,

As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken -

The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,

The ice was all around:

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,

Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,

Thorough the fog it came;

As it had been a Blessed soul,

We hailed it in Kyne's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,

And round and round it flew.

The ice did split with a thunder-fit;

The helmsman steered us through!

And a good north wind sprung up behind;

The Albatross did follow,

And every day, for food or play,

Came to the mariner's hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,

It perched for evenings nine;

Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,

Glimmered the white moonshine.'

`Gods save thee, ancient Mariner,

From the fiends that plague thee thus! -

Why look'st thou so?' -'With my crossbow

I shot the Albatross.'


'The sun now rose upon the left:

Out of the sea came he,

Still hid in mist, and on the right

Went down into the sea.

And the good north wind still blew behind,

But no sweet bird did follow,

Nor any day for food or play

Came to the mariners' hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,

And it would work 'em woe:

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the breeze to blow.

Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,

That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like Shor's own head,

The glorious sun uprist:

Then all averred, I had killed the bird

That brought the fog and mist.

'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,

That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.

Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,

'Twas sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than a moon.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Tsun!

That ever this should be!

Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs

Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout

The death-fires danced at night;

The water, like a witch's oils,

Burnt green, and blue, and white.

And some in dreams assured were

Of the Spirit that plagued us so;

Nine fathom deep he had followed us

From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,

Was withered at the root;

We could not speak, no more than if

We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks

Had I from old and young!

Instead of a cloak, a bird-corpse yoke

About my neck was hung.

Aye! By the crew, the bird I slew,

About my neck was hung.


'There passed a weary time. Each throat

Was parched, and glazed each eye.

A weary time! a weary time!

How glazed each weary eye -

When looking westward, I beheld

A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,

And then it seemed a mist;

It moved and moved, and took at last

A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!

And still it neared and neared:

As if it dodged a water-sprite,

It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,

We could nor laugh nor wail;

Through utter drought all dumb we stood!

I bit my arm, I svcked the blood,

And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,

Agape they heard me call:

What mercy! they for joy did grin,

And all at once their breath drew in,

As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!

Hither to work us weal;

Without a breeze, without a tide,

She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame,

The day was well nigh done!

Almost upon the eastern wave

Rested the broad bright sun;

When that strange shape drove suddenly

Betwixt us and the sun.

And straight the sun was flecked with bars,

(Sweet Mara send us grace!)

As if through a dungeon-grate he peered

With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)

How fast she nears and nears!

Are those her sails that glance in the sun,

Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the sun

Did peer, as through a grate?

And is that Woman all her crew?

Is that Orkey? and are there two?

Is Death that Woman's mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold:

Her skin was as white as leprosy,

The Daedroth Life-in-Death was she,

Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,

And the twain were casting dice;

`The game is done! I've won! I've won!'

Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:

At one stride comes the dark;

With far-heard whisper o'er the sea,

Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!

Fear at my heart, as at a cup,

My life-blood seemed to sip!

The stars were dim, and thick the night,

The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;

From the sails the dew did drip -

Till clomb above the western bar

One horned moon, with one bright star

Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged moon,

Too quick for groan or sigh,

Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,

And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,

(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)

With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,

They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly, -

They fled to bliss or woe!

And every soul it passed me by,

Like the whizz of my crossbow!'

The Ancient Mariner v2 by Simmir the Bard


The Ancient Mariner, v 2

by Simmir the Bard


`I fear thee, ancient Mariner!

I fear thy draugr hand!

And thou art long, and lank, and brown,

As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,

And thy skinny hand, so brown.' -

'Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!

This body dropped not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,

Alone on a wide wide sea!

And never a god took pity on

My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!

And they all dead did lie;

And a thousand thousand slimy things

Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,

And drew my eyes away;

I looked upon the rotting deck,

And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;

But or ever a prayer had gusht,

A wicked whisper came and made

My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,

And the balls like pulses beat;

For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky,

Lay like a load on my weary eye,

And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs,

Nor rot nor reek did they:

The look with which they looked on me

Had never passed away.

A curse may cast to nightmare realms

A spirit from on high;

But oh! more horrible than that

Is the curse in a dead man's eye!

Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,

And yet I could not die.

The moving moons went up the sky,

And no where did abide:

Softly they were going up,

And a star or two beside -

Their beams bemocked the sultry main,

Like Rain’s Hand hoar-frost spread;

But where the ship's huge shadow lay,

The charmed water burnt alway

A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship

I watched the water-snakes:

They moved in tracks of shining white,

And when they reared, the elfish light

Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship

I watched their rich attire:

Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,

They coiled and swam; and every track

Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue

Their beauty might declare:

A spring of love gushed from my heart,

And I blessed them unaware:

Sure a kind god took pity on me,

And I blessed them unaware.

The selfsame moment I could pray;

And from my neck so free

The Albatross fell off, and sank

Like lead into the sea.'


'Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,

Beloved from pole to pole!

To Mara Queen the praise be given!

She sent the gentle sleep from heaven,

That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck,

That had so long remained,

I dreamt that they were filled with dew;

And when I awoke, it rained.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold,

My garments all were dank;

Sure I had drunken in my dreams,

And still my body drank.

I moved, and could not feel my limbs:

I was so light -almost

I thought that I had died in sleep,

And was a blessed ghost.

And soon I heard a roaring wind:

It did not come anear;

But with its sound it shook the sails,

That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life!

And a hundred fire-flags sheen,

To and fro they were hurried about!

And to and fro, and in and out,

The wan stars danced between.

And the coming wind did roar more loud,

And the sails did sigh like sedge;

And the rain poured down from one black cloud;

Secunda at its edge.

The thick black cloud was cleft, and still

The moon was at its side:

Like waters shot from some high crag,

The lightning fell with never a jag,

A river steep and wide.

The loud wind never reached the ship,

Yet now the ship moved on!

Beneath the lightning and the moon

The dead men gave a groan.

They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,

Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;

It had been strange, even in a dream,

To have seen those dead men rise.

The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;

Yet never a breeze up blew;

The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,

Where they were wont to do;

They raised their limbs like lifeless tools -

We were a ghastly crew.

The body of my brother's son

Stood by me, knee to knee:

The body and I pulled at one rope,

But he said nought to me.'

'I fear thee, ancient Mariner!'

'Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!

'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,

Which to their corpses came again,

But a troop of spirits blest:

For when it dawned -they dropped their arms,

And clustered round the mast;

Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,

And from their bodies passed.

Around, around, flew each sweet sound,

Then darted to the sun;

Slowly the sounds came back again,

Now mixed, now one by one.

Sometimes a-dropping from the sky

I heard the skylark sing;

Sometimes all little birds that are,

How they seemed to fill the sea and air

With their sweet jargoning!

And now 'twas like all instruments,

Now like a lonely flute;

And now it is an angel's song,

That makes the heavens be mute.

It ceased; yet still the sails made on

A pleasant noise till noon,

A noise like of a hidden brook

Beneath Jhunal’s lost rune,

That to the sleeping woods all night

Singeth a quiet tune.

Till noon we quietly sailed on,

Yet never a breeze did breathe;

Slowly and smoothly went the ship,

Moved onward from beneath.

Under the keel nine fathom deep,

From the land of mist and snow,

The spirit slid: and it was he

That made the ship to go.

The sails at noon left off their tune,

And the ship stood still also.

The sun, right up above the mast,

Had fixed her to the ocean:

But in a minute she 'gan stir,

With a short uneasy motion -

Backwards and forwards half her length

With a short uneasy motion.

Then like a pawing horse let go,

She made a sudden bound:

It flung the blood into my head,

And I fell down in a swound.

How long in that same fit I lay,

I have not to declare;

But ere my living life returned,

I heard and in my soul discerned

Two voices in the air.

'Is it he?' quoth one, `Is this the man?

By all the Eight Divines,

With his cruel bow he laid full low

That harmless bird of Kyne's.

A spirit who travels by himself

In the land of truth and snow,

He loved the bird that loved the man

Who shot him with his bow.'

The other was a softer voice,

As soft as honey-dew:

Quoth he, 'The man hath penance done,

And penance more will do.'

The Ancient Mariner v3 by Simmir the Bard


The Ancient Mariner, v 3

by Simmir the Bard


First Voice

But tell me, tell me! speak again,

Thy soft response renewing -

What makes that ship drive on so fast?

What is the ocean doing?

Second Voice

Still as a slave before his queen,

The ocean hath no blast;

His great bright eye most silently

Up to the sky is cast -

If he may know which way to go;

For she guides him smooth or grim.

See, brother, see! how graciously

She looketh down on him.

First Voice

But why drives on that ship so fast,

Without or wave or wind?

Second Voice

The air is cut away before,

And closes from behind.

Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high!

Or we shall be belated:

For slow and slow that ship will go,

When the Mariner's trance is abated.

'I woke, and we were sailing on

As in a gentle weather:

'Twas night, calm night, the moons were high;

The dead men stood together.

All stood together on the deck,

For a charnel-dungeon fitter:

All fixed on me their stony eyes,

That in the moons did glitter.

The pang, the curse, with which they died,

Had never passed away:

I could not draw my eyes from theirs,

Nor turn them up to pray.

And now this spell was snapped: once more

I viewed the ocean green,

And looked far forth, yet little saw

Of what had else been seen -

Like one that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

And having once turned round walks on,

And turns no more his head;

Because he knows a frightful fiend

Doth close behind him tread.

But soon there breathed a wind on me,

Nor sound nor motion made:

Its path was not upon the sea,

In ripple or in shade.

It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek

Like a meadow-gale of spring -

It mingled strangely with my fears,

Yet it felt like a welcoming.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,

Yet she sailed softly too:

Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze -

On me alone it blew.

Oh! dream of joy! See I, indeed,

The lighthouse tower so slim?

Is this the hill? is this the church?

Is this mine own Skyrim?

We drifted o'er the harbour-bar,

And I with sobs did pray -

O let me be awake, my gods!

Or let me sleep alway.

The harbour-bay was clear as glass,

So smoothly it was strewn!

And on the bay the moonlight lay,

And the shadow of a moon.

The rock shone bright, the church no less,

That stands above the rock:

The moonlight steeped in silentness

The steady weathercock.

And the bay was white with silent light,

Till rising from the same,

Full many shapes, that shadows were,

In crimson colours came.

A little distance from the prow

Those crimson shadows were:

I turned my eyes upon the deck -

Oh, gods! what saw I there!

Each corpse lay flat, lifeless and flat,

And, by the holy rood!

A man all light, a spirit-man,

On every corpse there stood.

This spirit-band, each waved his hand:

It was a heavenly sight!

They stood as signals to the land,

Each one a lovely light;

This spirit-band, each waved his hand,

No voice did they impart -

No voice; but oh! the silence sank

Like music on my heart.

But soon I heard the dash of oars,

I heard the Pilot's cheer;

My head was turned perforce away,

And I saw a boat appear.

The Pilot and the Pilot's boy,

I heard them coming fast:

By Sovngarde’s cheer! it was a joy

The dead men could not blast.

I saw a third - I heard his voice:

It is the Hermit good!

He singeth loud his Jhunalic hymns

That he makes in the wood.

He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away

The Albatross's blood.'


'This Hermit good lives in that wood

Which slopes down to the sea.

How loudly his sweet voice he rears!

He loves to talk with marineers

That come from a far country.

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve -

He hath a cushion plump:

It is the moss that wholly hides

The rotted old oak-stump.

The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk,

`Why, this is strange, I trow!

Where are those lights so many and fair,

That signal made but now?'

`Strange, by my faith!' the Hermit said -

`And they answered not our cheer!

The planks looked warped! and see those sails,

How thin they are and sere!

I never saw aught like to them,

Unless perchance it were

Brown skeletons of leaves that lag

My forest-brook along;

When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,

And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,

That eats the she-wolf's young.'

`My beard! it hath a fiendish look -

(The Pilot made reply)

I am afeared' -`Push on, push on!'

Said the Hermit cheerily.

The boat came closer to the ship,

But I nor spake nor stirred;

The boat came close beneath the ship,

And straight a sound was heard.

Under the water it rumbled on,

Still louder and more dread:

It reached the ship, it split the bay;

The ship went down like lead.

Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound,

Which sky and ocean smote,

Like one that hath been seven days drowned

My body lay afloat;

But swift as dreams, myself I found

Within the Pilot's boat.

Upon the whirl where sank the ship

The boat spun round and round;

And all was still, save that the hill

Was telling of the sound.

I moved my lips - the Pilot shrieked

And fell down in a fit;

The holy Hermit raised his eyes,

And prayed where he did sit.

I took the oars: the Pilot's boy,

Who now doth crazy go,

Laughed loud and long, and all the while

His eyes went to and fro.

`Ha! ha!' quoth he, `full plain I see,

The dead know how to row.'

And now, all in my own country,

I stood on the firm land!

The Hermit stepped forth from the boat,

And scarcely he could stand.

O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!

The Hermit blessed his brow.

`Say quick,' quoth he `I bid thee say -

What manner of man art thou?'

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched

With a woeful agony,

Which forced me to begin my tale;

And then it left me free.

Since then, at an uncertain hour,

That agony returns;

And till my ghastly tale is told,

This heart within me burns.

I pass, like night, from land to land;

I have strange power of speech;

That moment that his face I see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him my tale I teach.

What loud uproar bursts from that door!

The wedding-guests are there:

But in the garden-bower the bride

And bride-maids singing are;

And hark the little tolling bell,

Which biddeth me to prayer!

O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been

Alone on a wide wide sea:

So lonely 'twas, that gods themselves

Scarce seemed there to be.

O sweeter than the marriage-feast,

'Tis sweeter far to me,

To walk together templeward

With a goodly company! -

To walk together to the shrine,

And all together pray,

While each to his great pantheon bends,

Old men, and babes, and loving friends,

And youths and maidens fay!

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell

To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!

He prayeth well, who loveth well

Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best

All beasts both great and small;

For the dear gods who watcheth us,

Both guide and watcheth all.'

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,

Whose beard with age is hoar,

Is gone; and now the Wedding-Guest

Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,

And is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man

He rose the morrow morn.

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Vicki Blondie
Posts: 3408
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 5:33 am

Post » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:25 pm

L Frank Baum

Folk Tales of Tamriel, Part I: The House of Boot by Lymano Arbore


Folk Tales of Tamriel, Part I: The House of Boot

A traditional Dunmer story

by Lymano Arbore

A long time ago a short way outside a small and quite remote village in the Redoran District of Morrowind there lived a Dunmer woman who had four daughters, and these in time grew up and married and went to live in different parts of the country. And the woman, after that, lived all alone, and said to herself, ‘I have done my duty to family and clan, and now shall rest quietly for the remainder of my life. When one has piously raised a family of four children and has married them all happily, she is surely entitled to pass her remaining days in peace and comfort.’

Now, she lived in a peculiar house not as squat and round as most Redoran houses are, but instead tall and cylindrical like an arrow tower. Though it was unlike the homes of her neighbours the upstairs windows had great views of the countryside and the old woman had it built herself, and liked it, so it did not matter to her how odd it was. It stood upon the top of a little hill, and there was even a little garden at the back and a pretty green lawn in front, with white gravel paths and several beds of brightly colored flowers.

The old woman was very happy and contented there until one day she received a letter saying that her daughter Hlavora was dead of the Crimson Plague and had sent her family of five children to their grandmother to be taken care of.

This misfortune ruined all the old woman's dreams of quiet; but the next day the children arrived—three boys and two girls—and, being the courageous Redoran clanswoman that she was, she made the best of it and gave them the beds her own daughters had once occupied, and her own cot as well; and she made a bed for herself on the floor by the hearth.

The youngsters were like all other children, and got into mischief once in a while; but the old woman had much experience with children and managed to keep them in order very well, while they quickly learned to obey her, and generally did as they were bid.

But scarcely had she succeeded in getting them settled in their new home when Mehra, another of her daughters, died, and sent four more children to her mother to be taken care of.

The old woman scarcely knew where to keep this new flock that had come to her fold, for the house was already full; but she thought the matter over and finally decided she must build an addition to her house.

So she had workmen build a lean-to on the side of her cottage out of stone and the mid-piece of a large strider shell, making it just big enough to accommodate the four new members of her family. When it was completed her house looked bulky and misshapen at the base, but the old woman knew that a good-looking home must always come second to family.

She put four little cots in her new part of the house, and then she sighed contentedly, and said, ‘Now all the babies are taken care of and will be comfortable until they grow up.’ Of course it was much more difficult to manage nine small children than five; and they often led each other into mischief, so that the flower beds began to be trampled upon and the green grass to be worn under the constant tread of little feet, and the furniture to show a good many scratches and bruises.

But the old woman continued to look after them, as well as she was able, until Saruse, her third daughter, also died, and three more children were sent to their grandmother to be brought up.

The old woman was nearly distracted when she heard of this new addition to her family, but she did not give way to despair. She sent for the builders again, and had them build another addition to her house, extending the lean-to yet further. Then she put three new cots in the new part for the babies to sleep in, and when they arrived they were just as cozy and comfortable as peas in a pod.

The grandmother was a lively old woman for one of her years, but she found her time now fully occupied in cooking the meals for her twelve small grandchildren, and mending their clothes, and washing their faces, and undressing them at night and dressing them in the morning. There were just a dozen children now, and when you consider they were about the same age you will realize what a large family the old woman had, and how fully her time was occupied in caring for them all.

And now, to make the matter worse, her fourth daughter, who had been named Aphia, suddenly took sick and died (the Crimson Plague was really getting around in those days), and she also had four small children that must be cared for in some way.

The old woman, having taken the other twelve, could not well refuse to adopt these little orphans also.

‘By Mother, Lord and Wizard; I may as well have sixteen as a dozen,’ she said, with a sigh; ‘they will drive me crazy someday, anyhow, so a few more will not matter at all!’

Once more she sent for the workmen, and bade them build a third addition which would carry the lean-to out as far as it could extend; and when it was completed she added four more cots to the dozen that were already in use. The house presented a very peculiar appearance now, but she did not mind that so long as the babies were comfortable.

‘I shall not have to build again,’ she said; ‘and that is one satisfaction. I have now no more daughters to die and leave me their children, and therefore I must make up my mind to do the best I can with the sixteen that have already been inflicted upon me in my old age.’

It was not long before all the grass about the house was trodden down, and the white gravel of the walks all thrown at the birds, and the flower beds trampled into shapeless masses by thirty-two little feet that ran about from dawn till dusk. But the old woman did not complain at this; her time was too much taken up with the babies for her to miss the grass and the flowers.

It cost so much money to clothe them that she decided to dress them all alike, so that they looked like the children of a regular orphan asylum. And it cost so much to feed them that she was obliged to give them the plainest food; so there was bread-and-milk for breakfast and milk-and-bread for dinner and bread-and-broth for supper. But it was a good and wholesome diet, and the children thrived and grew fat upon it.

One day a Hlaalu merchant came riding along the road, and when he saw the old woman's house he began to laugh.

‘What are you laughing at, muthsera?' asked the grandmother, who was sitting upon her doorsteps engaged in mending sixteen pairs of stockings.

‘At your house,’ the stranger replied; ‘it looks for all the world like a big bonemold boot!’

‘A boot!’ she said, in surprise.

‘Why, yes. The chimneys are bootstraps, and the steps are the heel, and all those additions make the foot of the boot.’

‘Never mind,’ said the woman; ‘it may be a boot, but it is full of children, and that makes it differ from most other shoes.’

But the trader went on to the village and told all he met that he had seen an old woman who lived in a boot; and soon people came from all parts of the country to look at the ‘House of Boot’, and they usually went away laughing.

The old woman did not mind this at all; she was too busy to be angry. Some of the children were always getting bumped heads or bruised shins, or falling down and hurting themselves, and these had to be comforted. And some were naughty and had to be disciplined; and some were dirty and had to be washed; and some were good and had to be kissed. It was 'Grandmother, do this!' and 'Grandmother, do that!' from dawn to dusk, so that the poor grandmother was nearly distracted. The only peace she ever got was when they were all safely tucked in their little cots and were sound asleep; for then, at least, she was free from worry and had a chance to gather her scattered wits.

‘There are so many children,’ she said one day to the village trader, ‘that I often really don't know what to do!’

‘If they were mine, sera,’ he replied, ‘I'd send them to the care of the Temple, or else they might send me crawling to Sheogorath.’

Some of the children heard him say this, and they resolved to play him a trick in return for his ill-natured (and impious) speech.

The trader came every day to the boot-house, and brought two great baskets of bread in his arms for the children to eat with their milk and their broth.

So one day, when the old woman had gone to the village to buy shoes, the children all painted their faces, to look as Goblins do when they are on the warpath; and they dressed up in scraps of leather and bits of metal. And then the boys made wooden clubs for the girls and bows-and-arrows for their own use, and then all sixteen went out and hid in the bushes near the top of the hill.

By and by the trader came slowly up the path with a basket of bread on either arm; and just as he reached the bushes there sounded in his ears a most unearthly screech. Then a flight of arrows came from the bushes, and although they were blunt and could do him no harm they rattled all over his body; and one hit his nose, and another his chin, while several stuck fast in the loaves of bread.

Altogether, the trader was terribly frightened; and when all the sixteen Goblins rushed from the bushes and flourished their clubs, he took to his heels and ran down the hill as fast as he could go!

When the grandmother returned she asked,

‘Where is the bread for your supper?’

The children looked at one another in surprise, for they had forgotten all about the bread. And then one of them confessed, and told her the whole story of how they had frightened the trader for saying he would send them to the Temple.

‘You are sixteen very naughty blasphemers!’ exclaimed the old woman; ‘and for punishment you must eat your broth without any bread, and afterwards each one shall have a sound whipping and be sent to bed.’

Then all the children began to cry at once, and there was such an uproar that their grandmother had to put scrib cabbage in her ears that she might not lose her hearing.

But she kept her promise, and made them eat their broth without any bread; for, indeed, there was no bread to give them.

Then she stood them in a row and undressed them, and as she put the nightclothes on each one she gave it a sound whipping and sent it to bed.

They cried some, of course, but they knew very well they deserved the punishment, and it was not long before all of them were sound asleep.

They took care not to play any more tricks on the trader, and as they grew older they were naturally much better behaved.

Before many years the boys were old enough to work for the neighbouring farmers, and that made the woman's family a good deal smaller. And then the girls grew up and married, and found homes of their own, so that all the children were in time well provided for.

Duty, gravity and piety are the core virtues of the Redoran way of life, so not one of them forgot the kind grandmother who had raised them so well, and often they told their children of the days when they lived with the old woman in the House of Boot and were punished for frightening the trader almost into fits with their Goblin costumes. To this very day their story is remembered in a song sung by little Dunmer children:

There was an old woman

Who lived in a shoe,

She had so many children

She didn't know what to do;

She gave them some broth

Without any bread,

And whipped them all soundly

And sent them to bed.

Folk Tales of Tamriel, Part II: Coel the Bard King by Lymano Arbore


Folk Tales of Tamriel, Part II: Coel the Bard King

A traditional Nibenese story

by Lymano Arbore

In the towns and villages of the Niben Bay, there is a song which goes like this:

Old King Coel was a merry old soul,

And a merry old soul was he;

He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl

And he called for his fiddlers three.

Every fiddler he had a fiddle,

And a very fine fiddle had he;

Oh there's none so rare, as can compare

With King Coel and his fiddlers three.

But the legend of King Coel the Old may never come to pass, for he was not always a king, nor was he born a member of any royal family; he was not even born in Cyrodiil! It was only chance - ‘hard luck’ he called it - that made him a king at all.

He had always been a poor man, being the son of a Breton apple peddler, who died and left him nothing but a donkey and a fiddle. But that was enough for Coel, who never bothered his head about the world's goods, but took things as they came and refused to worry about anything.

So, when the house he lived in, and the furniture, and even the applecart were sold to pay his father's debts, and he found himself left with the old fiddle that nobody wanted and the old donkey that no one would have - it being both vicious and unruly - he uttered no word of complaint. He simply straddled the donkey and took the fiddle under his arm and rode out into the world to seek his fortune.

When he came to a village he played a merry tune upon the fiddle and sang a merry song with it, and the people gave him food most willingly. There was no trouble about a place to sleep, for if he was denied a bed he lay down with the donkey in a barn, or even on the village green, and making a pillow of the donkey's neck he slept as soundly as anyone could in a bed of down.

And so he continued riding along and playing upon his fiddle for many years, until his head grew bald and his face was wrinkled and his bushy eyebrows became as white as snow. But his eyes never lost their merry twinkle, and he was just as fat and hearty as in his younger days, while, if you heard him singing his songs and scraping upon the old fiddle, you would know at once his heart was as young as ever.

He never guided the donkey, but let the beast go where it would, and so it happened that at last they came to the Basin of the Nibenay, and entered one day the city where resided the King of Bravil.

Now, even as Coel rode in upon his donkey the King of Bravil lay dying in his castle, surrounded by all the luxury of the court. And as he left no heir, and was the last of the royal line, the councilors and wise men of Bravil were in a great quandary as to who should succeed him. But finally they bethought themselves of the laws of the land, and upon looking up the records they found in an old book a law that provided for just such a case as this.

'If the King dies,' so read the law, 'and there be no one to succeed to the throne, the Chamberlain shall be blinded and led from the castle into the square where the Statue of the Lucky Old Lady stands. And he shall stretch out his arms and walk about, and the first person he touches shall be crowned as King of the land.'

The councilors were greatly pleased when they found this law, for it enabled them to solve the problem that confronted them. So when the King had breathed his last they blindfolded his Chamberlain and led him forth from the castle, and he began walking about with outstretched arms seeking someone to touch.

Of course the people knew nothing of this law, nor even that the old King was dead, and seeing the Chamberlain wandering about blindfolded they kept out of his way, fearing they might be punished if he stumbled against them. But Coel was then riding along on the donkey, and did not even know it was the Chamberlain who was feeling about in such a funny way. So he began to laugh, and the Chamberlain, who had by this time grown tired of the game, heard the laugh and came toward the stranger and touched him, and immediately all the wise men and the councilors fell down before him and hailed him as King of Bravil!

Thus did the wandering bard become King Coel of Bravil, and you may be sure he laughed more merrily than ever when they explained to him his good fortune.

They carried him within the castle and dressed him in purple and fine linen, and placed a crown of gold upon his bald head and a jeweled scepter in his wrinkled hand, and all this amused old King Coel very much. When he had been led to the great throne room and placed upon the throne of oak (where the silken cushions felt very soft and pleasant after his long ride upon the donkey's sharp back) the courtiers all knelt before him and asked what commands he wished to give, since everyone in the kingdom must now obey his slightest word.

'Oh well,' said the new King, 'I think the first thing I would like is my old pipe. You'll find it in the pocket of the ragged coat I took off.'

One of the officers of the court at once ran for the pipe, and when it was brought King Coel filled it with tobacco from his greasy pouch and lighted it, and you can imagine what a queer sight it was to see the fat King sitting upon the rich throne, dressed in silk, and satins and a golden crown, and smoking at the same time an old black pipe!

The councilors looked at each other in dismay, and the ladies of the court sneezed and coughed and seemed greatly shocked, and all this pleased old King Coel so much that he lay back in his throne and roared with laughter. Then the Chamberlain came forward very gravely, and bowing low he said,

'May it please Your Grace, it is not the custom of Kings to smoke a pipe while seated upon the throne.'

'But it is my custom,' answered Coel.

'It is impolite, and unkingly!' ventured the minister.

'Now, see here, old fellow,' replied His Grace, 'I didn't ask to be King of this country; it’s all your own doing. All my life I have smoked whenever I wished, and if I can't do as I please here, why, I won't be king—so there!'

'But you must be the King, Your Grace, whether you want to or not. The law says so.'

'If that's the case,' returned the King, 'I can do as I please in other things. So you just run and get me a bowl of punch, there's a good fellow.'

The aged minister did not like to be addressed thus, but the King's commands must be obeyed; so, although the court was greatly horrified, he brought the bowl of punch, and the King pushed his crown onto the back of his head and drank heartily, and smacked his lips afterwards.

'That’s fine!' he said; 'but say - what do you people do to amuse yourselves?'

'Whatever Your Grace commands,' answered one of the councillors.

'What! must I amuse you as well as myself? Methinks it is no easy task to be a King if so many things are required of me. But I suppose it is useless to fret, since the law obliges me to reign in this great country against my will. Therefore will I make the best of my misfortune, and propose we have a dance, and forget our cares. Send at once for some fiddlers, and clear the room for our merrymaking, and for once in our lives we shall have a jolly good time!'

So one of the officers of the court went out and soon returned with three fiddlers, and when at the King's command they struck up a tune, the monarch was delighted, for every fiddler had a very fine fiddle and knew well how to use it.

Now, Old King Coel was a merry old soul, so he soon set all the lords and ladies of the court to dancing, and he himself took off his crown and his ermine robe and laid them upon the throne, while he danced with the prettiest lady present till he was all out of breath.

Then he dismissed them, and they were all very well pleased with the new King, for they saw that, in spite of his odd ways, he had a kind heart, and would try to make everyone about him as merry as he was himself.

The next morning the King was informed that several of his subjects craved audience with him, as there were matters of dispute between them that must be settled. King Coel at first refused to see them, declaring he knew nothing of the quarrels of his subjects and they must manage their own affairs; but when the Chamberlain told him it was one of his duties as king, and the law required it, he could not do otherwise than submit. So he put on his crown and his ermine robe and sat upon the throne, although he grumbled a good deal at the necessity; for never having had any business of his own to attend to he thought it doubly hard that in his old age he must attend to the business of others.

The first case of dispute was between two men who each claimed to own a fine cow, and after hearing the evidence, the King ordered the cow to be killed and roasted and given to the poor, since that was the easiest way to decide the matter. Then followed a quarrel between two subjects over ten pieces of gold, one claiming the other owed him that sum. The King, thinking them both rascals, ordered the gold to be paid, and then he took it and scattered it amongst the beggars outside the castle.

By this time King Coel decided he had transacted enough business for one day, so he sent word to those outside that if anyone had a quarrel that was not just he should be severely punished; and, indeed, when the subjects learned the manner in which the King settled disputes, they were afraid to come to him, as both sides were sure to be losers by the decision. And that saved King Coel a lot of trouble thereafter, for the people thought best to settle their own differences.

The King, now seeing he was free to do as he pleased, retired to his private chamber, where he called for the three fiddlers and made them play for him while he smoked his pipe and drank a bowl of punch.

Every evening he had a dance in the castle; and every day there were merrymakings of all kinds, and before long King Coel had the reputation of having the merriest court in all Cyrodiil.

He loved to feast and to smoke and to drink his punch, and he was never so merry as when others were merry with him, so that the three fiddlers were almost always by his side, and at any hour of the day you could hear sweet strains of music echoing through the castle.

Old King Coel did not forget the donkey that had been his constant companion for so long. He had a mithril saddle made for him, with a saddle-cloth broidered in gold and silver, and the bridle was studded with precious stones, all taken from the King's treasury.

And when he rode out, the old fat King always bestrode the donkey, while his courtiers rode on either side of him upon their prancing chargers.

Old King Coel reigned for many years, and was generally beloved by his subjects; for he always gave liberally to all who asked, and was always as merry and happy as the day was long.

When he died the new King was found to be of a very different temper, and ruled the country with great severity; but this only served to make the memory of Old King Coel more tenderly cherished by his people, and they often sighed when they recalled his merry pranks, and the good times they enjoyed under his rule.

Folk Tales of Tamriel, Part III: The Beggars of Sentinel by Lymano Arbore


Folk Tales of Tamriel, Part III: The Beggars of Sentinel

A traditional Redguard story

by Lymano Arbore

I have heard a song and a tale on the mouths of traders to the Imperial City from the Far West. Both have many variations, but the most popular I heard went a little like this:

Hark, hark, the jackals do bark,

The beggars are coming to town:

Some in rags, and some in tags,

And some in silken gown.

Once upon a time in Sentinel, a Redguard prince named Akim went to see his father, the King. Very fair and sweet was little Prince Akim, and few could resist his soft, pleading voice and gentle brown eyes. And as he stood in the presence of the King and bent his knee gracefully before him, the act was so courteous and dignified it would have honored the oldest knight in the court.

The King was delighted, and for a time sat silently regarding his son and noting every detail of his appearance, from the dark velvet suit with its dainty ruffles and collar to the diamond buckles on the little shoes, and back again to the flowing black curls that clustered thick about the bright, childish face.

Well might any father be proud of so manly and beautiful a child, and the King's heart swelled within him as he gazed upon his heir.

'Borland,' he said to the tutor, who stood modestly behind the Prince, 'you may retire. I wish to sneak privately with my son.'

The tutor bowed low and disappeared within the ante-room, and the King continued, kindly,

'Come here, Akim, and sit beside me. Methinks you seem over-grave this morning.'

'It is my birthday, father,' replied the Prince, as he slowly obeyed his father and sat beside him upon the rich broidered cushions of the throne. 'I am twelve years of age.'

'So old!' said the King, smiling into the little face that was raised to his. 'And is it the weight of years that makes you sad?'

'No, father; I long for the years to pass, that I may become a man, and take my part in the world's affairs. It is the sad condition of my country which troubles me.'

'Indeed!' exclaimed the King, casting a keen glance at his son. 'Are you becoming interested in politics, then; or is there some grievous breach of court etiquette which has attracted your attention?'

'I know little of politics and less of the court, father,' replied Akim; 'it is the distress of the people that worries me.'

'The people? Of a surety, Prince, you are better posted than am I, since of the people and their affairs I know nothing at all. I have appointed officers to look after their interests, and therefore I have no cause to come into contact with them myself. But what is amiss?'

'They are starving,' said the Prince, looking at his father very seriously; 'the country is filled with beggars, who appeal for charity, since they are unable otherwise to procure food.'

'Starving!' repeated the King; 'surely you are misinformed. My Vizier told me but this morning the people were loyal and contented, and my Chief Treasurer reports that all taxes and tithes have been paid, and my coffers are running over.'

'Your Vizier is wrong, father,' returned the Prince; 'my tutor, Borland, and I have talked with many of these beggars the past few days, and we find the tithes and taxes which have enriched you have taken the bread from their wives and children.'

'So!' exclaimed the King. 'We must examine into this matter.' He touched a bell beside him, and when a retainer appeared directed his Vizier and his Treasurer to wait upon him at once.

The Prince rested his head upon his hand and waited patiently, but the King was very impatient indeed till the high officers of the court stood before him. Then said the King, addressing his Vizier,

'Sir, I am informed my people are murmuring at my injustice. Is it true?'

The officer cast an enquiring glance at the Prince, who met his eyes gravely, before he replied,

'The people always murmur, Great One. They are many, and not all can be content, even when ruled by so wise and just a King. In every land and in every age there are those who rebel against the laws, and the protests of the few are ever heard above the contentment of the many.'

'I am told,' continued the King, severely, 'that my country is overrun with beggars, who suffer for lack of the bread we have taken from them by our taxations. Is this true?'

'There are always beggars, Great One, in every land in Tamriel,' replied the Vizier, 'and it is their custom to blame others for their own misfortunes.'

The King thought deeply for a moment; then he turned to the Chief Treasurer.

'Do we tax the poor?' he demanded.

'All are taxed, Great King,' returned the Treasurer, who was very anxious, for never before had the King so questioned him, 'but from the rich we take much, from the poor very little.'

'But a little from the poor man may distress him, while the rich subject would never feel the loss. Why do we tax the poor at all?'

'Because, Your Magnificence, should we declare the poor free from taxation all your subjects would at once claim to be poor, and the royal treasury would remain empty. And as none are so rich but there are those richer, how should we, in justice, determine which are the rich and which are the poor?'

Again the King was silent while he pondered upon the words of the Royal Treasurer. Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed them, and turned to the Prince, saying,

'You have heard the wise words of my councilors, Prince. What have you to say in reply?'

'If you will pardon me, father, I think you are wrong to leave the affairs of the people to others to direct. If you knew them as well as I do, you would distrust the words of your councilors, who naturally fear your anger more than they do that of your subjects.'

'If they fear my anger they will be careful to do no injustice to my people. Surely you cannot expect me to attend to levying the taxes myself,' continued the King, with growing annoyance. 'What are my officers for, but to serve me?'

'They should serve you, it is true,' replied the Prince, thoughtfully, 'but they should serve the people as well.'

'Nonsense!' answered the King; 'you are too young as yet to properly understand such matters. And it is a way youth has to imagine it is wiser than age and experience combined. Still, I will investigate the subject further, and see that justice is done the poor.'

'In the meantime,' said the Prince, 'many will starve to death. Can you not assist these poor beggars at once?'

'In what way?' demanded the King.

'By giving them money from your full coffers.'

'Nonsense!' again cried the King, this time with real anger; 'you have heard what the Vizier said: we always have beggars, and none, as yet, have starved to death. Besides, I must use the money for the festival next month, as I have promised the court a carnival of unusual magnificence.'

The Prince did not reply to this, but remained in silent thought, wondering what he might do to ease the suffering he feared existed on every hand amongst the poor of the kingdom. He had hoped to persuade the King to assist these beggars, but since the interview with the officers of the court he had lost heart and despaired of influencing his royal father in any way.

Suddenly the King spoke.

'Let us dismiss this subject, Akim, for it only serves to distress us both, and no good can come of it. You have nearly made me forget it is your birthday. Now listen, my son: I am much pleased with you, and thank the Gods that they have given me such a successor for my crown, for I perceive your mind is as beautiful as your person, and that you will in time be fitted to rule the land with wisdom and justice. Therefore I promise, in honor of your birthday, to grant any desire you may express, provided it lies within my power. Nor will I make any further condition, since I rely upon your judgment to select some gift I may be glad to bestow.'

As the King spoke, Akim suddenly became impressed with an idea through which he might succor the poor, and therefore he answered,

'Call in the court, my father, and before them all will I claim your promise.'

'Good!' exclaimed the King, who looked for some amusemant in his son's request; and at once he ordered the court to assemble.

The lords and ladies, as they filed into the audience chamber, were astonished to see the Prince seated upon the throne beside his sire, but being too well bred to betray their surprise they only wondered what amusemant the King had in store for them.

When all were assembled, the Prince rose to his feet and addressed them.

'His Greatness the King of Sentinel, whose kindness of heart and royal condescension is well known to you all, hath but now promised me, seeing that it is my birthday, to grant any one request that I may prefer. Is it not true, Great King?'

'It is true,' answered the King, smiling upon his son, and pleased to see him addressing the court so gravely and with so manly an air; 'whatsoever the Prince may ask, that will I freely grant.'

'Then, father,' said the Prince, kneeling before the throne, 'I ask that for the period of one day I may reign as King in your stead, having at my command all kingly power and the obedience of all who owe allegiance to the Crown!'

'For a time there was perfect silence in the court, the King growing red with dismay and embarrassment and the courtiers waiting curiously his reply. Akim still remained kneeling before the throne, and, as the King looked upon him he realized it would be impossible to break his royal word. And the affair promised him amusemant after all, so he quickly decided in what manner to reply.

'Rise, oh Prince,' he said, cheerfully, 'your request is granted. Upon what day will it please you to reign?'

Akim arose to his feet.

'Upon the seventh day from this,' he answered.

'So be it,' returned the King. Then, turning to a herald he added, 'Make proclamation throughout the Kingdom of Sentinel that on the seventh day from this Prince Akim will reign as King from sunrise till sunset. And whoever dares to disobey his commands will be guilty of treason and shall be punished with death!'

The court was then dismissed, all wondering at this marvellous decree, and the Prince returned to his own apartment where his tutor, Borland, anxiously awaited him.

Now this Borland was a man of good heart and much intelligence, but wholly unused to the ways of the world. He had lately noted, with much grief, the number of beggars who solicited alms as he walked out with the Prince in the Great Market, and he had given freely until his purse was empty. Then he talked long and earnestly with the Prince concerning this shocking condition in the kingdom, never dreaming that his own generosity had attracted all the beggars of the city toward him and encouraged them to become more bold than usual.

Thus was the young and tender-hearted Prince brought to a knowledge of all these beggars, and therefore it was that their condition filled him with sadness and induced him to speak so boldly to the King, his father.

When he returned to Borland with the tidings that the King had granted him permission to rule for a day the kingdom, the tutor was overjoyed, and at once they began to plan ways for relieving all the poor of the country in that one day.

For one thing, they dispatched private messengers to every part of the kingdom, bidding them tell each beggar they met to come to the Prince on that one day he should be King and he would relieve their wants, giving a broad gold piece to every poor man or woman who asked.

For the Prince had determined to devote to this purpose the gold that filled the royal coffers; and as for the great festival the King had planned, why, that could go begging much better than the starving people.

On the night before the day the Prince was to reign there was a great confusion of noise within the city, for beggars from all parts of the kingdom - even from the farthest reaches of the desert - began to arrive, each one filled with joy at the prospect of receiving a piece of gold.

There was a continual tramp, tramp of feet, and a great barking of jackals from the hills around the city as they watched the procession advancing through the inhospitable land.

And the beggars came to the city singly and by twos and threes, until hundreds were there to await the morrow. Some few were very pitiful to behold, being feeble and infirm from age and disease, dressed in rags and tags, and presenting an appearance of great distress. But there were many more who were seemingly hearty and vigorous; and these were the lazy ones, who, not being willing to work, begged for a livelihood.

And some there were dressed in rich turbans and gowns, who, forgetting all shame, and, eager for gold, had been led by the Prince's offer to represent themselves as beggars, that they might add to their wealth without trouble or cost to themselves.

The next morning, when the sun arose upon the eventful day, it found the Prince sitting upon the throne of his father, a crown upon his flowing locks and the King's scepter clasped tightly in his little hand. He was somewhat frightened at the clamor of the crowd without the palace, but Borland, who stood behind him, whispered,

'The more you can succor the greater will be your glory, and you will live in the hearts of your people as the kind Prince who relieved their sufferings. Be of good cheer, My Prince, for all is well.'

Then did the Prince command the Treasurer to bring before him the royal coffers, and to stand ready to present to each beggar a piece of gold. The Treasurer was very unwilling to do this, but he was under penalty of death if he refused, and so the coffers were brought forth.

'My King,' said the Treasurer, 'if each of those who clamor without is to receive a piece of gold, there will not be enough within these coffers to go around. Some will receive and others be denied, since no further store of gold is to be had.'

At this news the Prince was both puzzled and alarmed.

'What are we to do?' he asked of the tutor; but Borland was unable to suggest a remedy.

Then said the aged Vizier, coming forward, and bowing low before the little King,

'Your Majesty, I think I can assist you in your difficulty. You did but promise a piece of gold to those who are really suffering and in need, but so great is the greed of men that many without are in no necessity whatever, but only seek to enrich themselves at your expense. Therefore I propose you examine carefully each case that presents itself, and unless the beggar is in need of alms turn him away empty-handed, as being a fraud and a charlatan.'

'Your counsel is wise, oh Vizier,' replied the Prince, after a moment's thought; 'and by turning away the impostors we shall have gold enough for the needy. Therefore bid the guards to admit the beggars one by one.'

When the first beggar came before him the Prince asked,

'Are you in need?'

'I am starving, Lord King,' replied the man, in a whining tone. He was poorly dressed, but seemed strong and well, and the Prince examined him carefully for a moment. Then he answered the fellow, saying,

'Since you are starving, go and sell the gold ring I see you are wearing upon your finger. I can assist only those who are unable to help themselves.'

At this the man turned away muttering angrily, and the courtiers murmured their approval of the Prince's wisdom.

The next beggar was dressed in silk, and the Prince sent him away with a sharp rebuke. But the third was a woman, old and feeble, and she blessed the Prince as she hobbled joyfully away with a broad gold-piece clasped tightly within her withered hand.

The next told so pitiful a story that he also received a gold piece; but as he turned away the Prince saw that beneath his robe his shoes were fastened with silver buckles, and so he commanded the guards to take away the gold and to punish the man for attempting to deceive his King.

And so many came to him that were found to be unworthy that he finally bade the guards proclaim to all who waited that any who should be found undeserving would be beaten with stripes.

That edict so frightened the imposters that they quickly fled, and only those few who were actually in want dared to present themselves before the King.

And lo! The task that had seemed too great for one day was performed in a few hours, and when all the needy had been provided for but one of the royal coffers had been opened, and that was scarcely empty!

'What think you, Borland?' asked the Prince, anxiously, 'have we done aright?'

'I have learned, My Prince,' answered the tutor, 'that there is a great difference between those who beg and those who suffer for lack of bread. For, while all who needed aid were in truth beggars, not all the beggars needed aid; and hereafter I shall only give alms to those I know to be honestly in want.'

'It is wisely said, my friend,' returned the Prince, 'and I feel I was wrong to doubt the wisdom of my father's councilors. Go, Borland, and ask the King if he will graciously attend me here.'

The King arrived and bowed smilingly before the Prince whom he had set to reign in his own place, and at once the boy arose and presented his father with the scepter and crown, saying,

'Forgive me, My King, that I presumed to doubt the wisdom of your rule. For, though the sun has not yet set, I feel that I am all unworthy to sit in your place, and so I willingly resign my power to your more skillful hands. And the coffers which I, in my ignorance, had determined to empty for the benefit of those unworthy, are still nearly full, and more than enough remains for the expenses of the carnival. Therefore forgive me, my father, and let me learn wisdom in the future from the justness of your rule.'

Thus ended the reign of Prince Akim as King, and not till many years later did he again ascend the throne upon the death of his father.

And really there was not much suffering in the Kingdom of Sentinel for many years, as though surrounded by barren wasteland it was a prosperous country of merchants and well governed; for, if you look for beggars in any land you will find many, but if you look only for the deserving poor there are less, and these all the more worthy of succor.

I wish all those in power were as kind-hearted as little Prince Akim, and as ready to help the needy, for then there would be more light hearts in the world, since it is 'better to give than to receive.'

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Alyce Argabright
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Sheila Reyes
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