'...Some Jay of Italy,

Whose mother was her painting, hath betrayed him.'






First Published . . July 1905

Second Edition . . August 1905

Third Edition . . September 1905

Fourth Edition . . October 1905



On a hot morning, in the year 1476 of poignant memory, there drew up

before an osteria on the Milan road a fair cavalcade of travellers.

These were Messer Carlo Lanti and his inamorata, together with a suite

of tentmen, pages, falconers, bed-carriers, and other personnel of a

migratory lord on his way from the cooling hills to the Indian summer of

the plains. The chief of the little party, halting in advance of his

fellows, lifted his plumed scarlet biretta with one strong young hand,

and with the other, his reins hanging loose, ran a cluster of swarthy

fingers through his black hair.

'O little host!' he boomed, blaspheming--for all good Catholics,

conscious of their exclusive caste, swore by God prescriptively--'O

little host, by the thirst of Christ's passion, wine!'

'He will bring you hyssop--by the token, he will,' murmured the lady,

who sat her white palfrey languidly beside him. She was a slumberous,

ivory-faced creature warm and insolent and lazy; and the little bells of

her bridle tinkled sleepily, as her horse pawed, gently rocking her.

The cavalier grunted ferociously. 'Let me see him!' and, bonneting

himself again, sat with right arm akimbo, glaring for a response to his

cry. He looked on first acquaintance a bully and profligate--which he

was; but, for his times, with some redeeming features. His thigh, in

its close violet hose, and the long blade which hung at it seemed

somehow in a common accord of steel and muscle. His jaw was underhung,

his brows were very thick and black, but the eyes beneath were

good-humored, and he had a great dimple in his cheek.

A murmur of voices came from the inn, but no answer whatever to the

demand. The building, glaring white as a rock rolled into the plains

from the great mountains to the north, had a little bush of juniper

thrust out on a staff above its door. It looked like a dry tongue

protruded in derision, and awoke the demon in Messer Lanti. He turned

to a Page:--'Ercole!' he roared, pointing; 'set a light there, and give

these hinds a lesson!'

The lady laughed, and, stirring a little, watched the page curiously.

But the boy had scarcely reached the ground when the landlord appeared

bowing at the door. The cavalier fumed.

'Ciacco--hog!' he thundered: 'did you not hear us call?'

'Illustrious, no.'

'Where were your ears? Nailed to the pillory?'

'Nay, Magnificent, but to the utterances of the little Parablist of San


'O hog! now by the Mass, I say, they had been better pricked to thy

business. O ciacco, I tell thee thy Parablist was like, in another

moment, to have addressed thee out of a burning bush. What! I would

drink, swine! And, harkee, somewhere from those deep vats of thine the

perfume of an old wine of Cana rises to my nostrils. I say no more.


The landlord, abasing himself outwardly, took solace of a private curse

as he turned into the shadow of his porch--

'These skipjacks of the Sforzas! limbs of a country churl!'

Something lithe and gripping sprang upon his back as he muttered, making

him roar out; and the chirrup of a great cricket shrilled in his ear--

'Biting limbs! clawing, hooking, scoring limbs! ha-ha, hee-hee,


Boniface, sweating with panic, wriggled to shake off his incubus. It

clung to him toe and claw. Slewing his gross head, he saw, squatted

upon his shoulders, a manikin in green livery, a monstrous grasshopper

in seeming.

'Messer Fool,' he gurgled--'dear my lord's most honoured jester!' (he

was essaying all the time to stagger with his burden out of

earshot)--'prithee spare to damn a poor fellow for a hasty word under

provocation! Prithee, sweet Messer Fool!'

The little creature, sitting him as a frog a pike, hooked its small

talons into the corners of his eyes.

'Provocation!' it laughed, rocking--'provocation by his grandness to a

guts! If I fail to baste thee on a spit for it, call me not Cicada!'

'Mercy!' implored the landlord, staggering and groping.

'Nothing for nothing. At what price, tunbelly?'

The landlord clutched in his blindness at the post of a descending


'The best in my house.'

'What best, paunch?'

'Milan cheese--boiled bacon. Ah, dear Messer Cicada, there is a fat

cold capon, for which I will go fasting to thee.'

'And what wine, beast?'

'What thou wilt, indeed.'

The jester spurred him with a vicious heel.

'Away, then! Sink, submerge, titubate, and evanish into thy crystal


'Alas, I cannot see!'

The rider shifted his clutch to the fat jowls of his victim, who

thereupon, with a groan, descended a rude flight of steps at a run, and

brought up with his burden in a cool grotto. Here were casks and

stoppered jars innumerable; shelves of deep blue flasks; lolling

amphorae, and festoons of cobwebs drunk with must. Cicada leapt with one

spring to a barrel, on which he squatted, rather now like a green frog

than a grasshopper. His face, lean and leathery, looked as if dipped in

a tan-pit; his eyes were as aspish as his tongue; he was a stunted,

grotesque little creature, all vice and whipcord.

'Despatch!' he shrilled. 'Thy wit is less a desert than my throat.'

'Anon!' mumbled the landlord, and hurried for a flask. 'Let thy tongue

roll on that,' he said, 'and call me grateful. As to the capon,

prithee, for my bones' sake, let me serve thy masters first.'

The jester had already the flask at his mouth. The wine sank into him

as into hot sand.

'Go,' he said, stopping a moment, and bubbling--'go, and damn thy capon;

I ask no grosser aliment than this.'

The landlord, bustling in a restored confidence, filled a great bottle

from a remote jar, and armed with it and some vessels of twisted glass,

mounted to daylight once more. Messer Lanti, scowling in the sun,

cursed him for a laggard.

'Magnificent!' pleaded the man, 'the sweetest wine, like the sweetest

meat, is near the bone.'

'Deep in the ribs of the cellars, meanest, O, ciacco?'

He took a long draught, and turned to his lady.

'Trust the rogue, Beatrice; it is, indeed, near the marrow of


She sipped of her glass delicately, and nodded. The cavalier held out

his for more.

'Malvasia, hog?'

'Malvasia, most honoured; trod out by the white feet of prettiest

contadina, and much favoured, by the token, of the Abbot of San Zeno


Messer Lanti looked up with a new good-humour. The party was halted in a

great flat basin among hills, on one of the lowest of which, remote and

austere, sparkled the high, white towers of a monastery.

'There,' he said, signifying the spot to his companion with a grin;

'hast heard of Giuseppe della Grande, Beatrice, the _father_ of his


'And not least of our own little Parablist, Madonna,' put in the

landlord, with a salutation.

'Plague, man!' cried Lanti; 'who the devil is this Parablist you keep

throwing at us?'

'They call him Bernardo Bembo, my lord. He was dropped and bred among

the monks--some by-blow of a star, they say, in the year of the great

fall. He was found at the feet of Mary's statue; and, certes, he is

gifted like an angel. He mouths parables as it were prick-songs, and is

esteemed among all for a saint.'

'A fair saint, i'faith, to be carousing in a tavern.'

'O my lord! he but lies here an hour from the sun, on his way, this very

morning, to Milan, whither he vouches he has had a call. And for his

carousing, spring water is it all, and the saints to pay, as I know to

my cost.'

'He should have stopped at the rill, methinks.'

'He will stop at nothing,' protested the landlord humbly; 'nay, not even

the rebuking by his parables of our most illustrious lord, the Duke

Galeazzo himself.'

Lanti guffawed.

'Thou talkest treason, dog. What is to rebuke there?'

'What indeed, Magnificent? Set a saint, _I_ say, to catch a saint.'

The other laughed louder.

'The right sort of saint for that, I trow, from Giuseppe's loins.'

'Nay, good my lord, the Lord Abbot himself is no less a saint.'

'What!' roared Lanti, 'saints all around! This is the right hagiolatry,

where I need never despair of a niche for myself. I too am the son of

my father, dear Messer Ciacco, as this Parablist is, I'll protest, of

your Abbot, whose piety is an old story. What! you don't recognise a

family likeness?'

The landlord abased himself between deference and roguery.

'It is not for me to say, Magnificent. I am no expert to prove the

common authorship of this picture and the other.'

He lowered his eyes with a demure leer. Honest Lanti, bending to rally

him, chuckled loudly, and then, rising, brought his whip with a

boisterous smack across his shoulders. The landlord jumped and winced.

'Spoken like a discreet son of the Church!' cried the cavalier.

He breathed out his chest, drained his glass, still laughing into it,

and, handing it down, settled himself in his saddle.

'And so,' he said, 'this saintly whelp of a saint is on his way to

rebuke the lord of Sforza?'

'With deference, my lord, like a younger Nathan. So he hath been

miscalled--I speak nothing from myself. The young man hath lived all his

days among visions and voices; and at the last, it seems, they've

spelled him out Galeazzo--though what the devil the need is there? as

your Magnificence says. But perhaps they made a mistake in the

spelling. The blessed Fathers themselves teach us that the best

holiness lacks education.'

Madonna laughed out a little. 'This is a very good fool!' she murmured,

and yawned.

'I don't know about that,' said Lanti, answering the landlord, and

wagging his sage head. 'I'm not the most pious of men myself. But tell

us, sirrah, how travels his innocence?'

'On foot, my lord, like a prophet's.'

''Twill the sooner lie prone.' He turned to my lady. 'Wouldst like to

add him to Cicada and thy monkey, and carry him along with us?'

'Nay,' she said pettishly, 'I have enough of monstrosities. Will you

keep me in the sun all day?'

'Well,' said Lanti, gathering his reins, 'it puzzles me only how the

Abbot could part thus with his discretion.'

'Nay, Illustrious,' answered the landlord, 'he was in a grievous pet,

'tis stated. But, there! prophecy will no more be denied than love. A'

must out or kill. And so he had to let Messer Bembo go his gaits with a

letter only to this monastery and that, in providence of a sanctuary,

and one even, 'tis whispered, to the good Duchess Bona herself. But

here, by the token, he comes.'

He bowed deferentially, backing apart. Messer Lanti stared, and gave a

profound whistle.

'O, indeed!' he muttered, showing his strong teeth, 'this Giuseppe

propagates the faith very prettily!'

Madam Beatrice was staring too. She expressed no further impatience to

be gone for the moment. A young man, followed by some kitchen company

adoring and obsequious, had come out by the door, and stood regarding

her quietly. She had expected some apparition of austerity, some lean,

neurotic friar, wasting between dogmatism and sensuality. And instead

she saw an angel of the breed that wrestled with Jacob.

He was so much a child in appearance, with such an aspect of wonder and

prettiness, that the first motion of her heart towards him was like the

leap of motherhood. Then she laughed, with a little dye come to her

cheek, and eyed him over the screen of feathers she held in her hand.

He advanced into the sunlight.

'Greeting, sweet Madonna,' he said, in his grave young voice, 'and fair

as your face be your way!' and he was offering to pass her.

She could only stare, the bold jade, at a loss for an answer. The soft

umber eyes of the youth looked into hers. They were round and velvety

as a rabbit's, with high, clean-pencilled brows over. His nose was

short and pretty broad at the bridge, and his mouth was a little mouth,

pouting as a child's, something combative, and with lips like tinted

wax. Like a girl's his jaw was round and beardless, and his hair a

golden fleece, cut square at the neck, and its ends brittle as if they

had been singed in fire. His doublet and hose were of palest pink; his

bonnet, shoes, and mantlet of cypress-green velvet. Rose-coloured

ribbons, knotted into silver buckles, adorned his feet; and over his

shoulder, pendent from a strand of the same hue, was slung a fair lute.

He could not have passed, by his looks, his sixteenth summer.

Lanti pushed rudely forward.

'A moment, saint troubadour, a moment!' he cried. 'It will please us,

hearing of your mission, to have a taste of your quality.'

The youth, looking at him a little, swung his lute forward and smiled.

'What would you have, gracious sir?' he said.

'What? Why, prophesy us our case in parable.'

'I know not your name nor calling.'

'A pretty prophet, forsooth. But I will enlighten thee. I am Carlo

Lanti, gentleman of the Duke, and this fair lady the wife of him we call

the Count of Casa Caprona.'

The boy frowned a little, then nodded and touched the strings. And all

in a moment he was improvising the strangest ditty, a sort of cantefable

between prose and song:--

'A lord of little else possessed a jewel,

Of his small state incomparably the crown.

But he, going on a journey once,

To his wife committed it, saying,

"This trust with you I pledge till my return;

See, by your love, that I redeem my trust."

But she, when he was gone, thinking "he will not know,"

Procured its exact fellow in green glass,

And sold her lord's gem to one who bid her fair;

  • painting [´peintiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绘画;(油)画;着色   (初中英语单词)
  • indian [´indiən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.印度的 n.印度人   (初中英语单词)
  • scarlet [´skɑ:lit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猩红色 a.猩红的   (初中英语单词)
  • cluster [´klʌstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.一串 v.群集;丛生   (初中英语单词)
  • thirst [θə:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渴,口渴;渴望   (初中英语单词)
  • passion [´pæʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.激情;激怒;恋爱   (初中英语单词)
  • gently [´dʒentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温和地;静静地   (初中英语单词)
  • acquaintance [ə´kweintəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.相识;熟人,相识的人   (初中英语单词)
  • violet [´vaiələt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.紫罗兰(的);紫色   (初中英语单词)
  • accord [ə´kɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.符合 vt.给与   (初中英语单词)
  • muscle [´mʌsəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.肌肉;体力;力量   (初中英语单词)
  • whatever [wɔt´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.&a.无论什么   (初中英语单词)
  • landlord [´lændlɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地主;房东;店主   (初中英语单词)
  • magnificent [mæg´nifisənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.壮丽的;豪华的   (初中英语单词)
  • sprang [spræŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  spring 的过去式   (初中英语单词)
  • stagger [´stægə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.(使)蹒跚(震惊)   (初中英语单词)
  • hooked [hukt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.钩状的;上瘾的   (初中英语单词)
  • clutch [klʌtʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.抓住 n.爪子;控制   (初中英语单词)
  • victim [´viktim] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.牺牲者;受害者   (初中英语单词)
  • flight [flait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.逃走;飞行;班机   (初中英语单词)
  • barrel [´bærəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(琵琶)桶;圆筒   (初中英语单词)
  • grateful [´greitful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.感谢的;令人愉快的   (初中英语单词)
  • remote [ri´məut] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.遥远的;偏僻的   (初中英语单词)
  • daylight [´deilait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光;黎明   (初中英语单词)
  • companion [kəm´pæniən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同伴;同事;伴侣   (初中英语单词)
  • statue [´stætʃu:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.塑像,雕像   (初中英语单词)
  • despair [di´speə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.绝望   (初中英语单词)
  • expert [´ekspə:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.专家;内行   (初中英语单词)
  • monkey [´mʌŋki] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猴子 v.乱弄;胡闹   (初中英语单词)
  • aspect [´æspekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.面貌;神色;方向   (初中英语单词)
  • screen [skri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银幕 vt.遮蔽   (初中英语单词)
  • advanced [əd´vɑ:nst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.先进的;高级的   (初中英语单词)
  • velvet [´velvit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.天鹅绒(般的)   (初中英语单词)
  • mission [´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.代表团;使馆vt.派遣   (初中英语单词)
  • gracious [´greiʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.和蔼可亲的;任慈的   (初中英语单词)
  • prophet [´prɔfit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.预言家;先知;提倡者   (初中英语单词)
  • pledge [pledʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.信物;誓约vt.使发誓   (初中英语单词)
  • edition [i´diʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.版本;很相似的   (高中英语单词)
  • hanging [´hæŋiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绞刑 a.悬挂着的   (高中英语单词)
  • exclusive [ik´sklu:siv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.独有的;集中的   (高中英语单词)
  • bridle [´braidl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(马)笼头;束缚   (高中英语单词)
  • response [ri´spɔns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.回答;响应   (高中英语单词)
  • cricket [´krikit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蟋蟀;板球   (高中英语单词)
  • monstrous [´mɔnstrəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.怪异的;庞大的   (高中英语单词)
  • submerge [səb´mə:dʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.浸在水中 vi.潜水   (高中英语单词)
  • innumerable [i´nju:mərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无数的,数不清的   (高中英语单词)
  • shelves [ʃelvz] 移动到这儿单词发声  shelf的复数   (高中英语单词)
  • grasshopper [´grɑ:s,hɔpə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蚱蜢,蝗虫   (高中英语单词)
  • hurried [´hʌrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.仓促的,慌忙的   (高中英语单词)
  • draught [drɑ:ft] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.通风,通气;吸出   (高中英语单词)
  • illustrious [i´lʌstriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.杰出的,显赫的   (高中英语单词)
  • treason [´tri:zən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.叛逆;不忠   (高中英语单词)
  • rebuke [ri´bju:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.&n.指责;训斥   (高中英语单词)
  • prophecy [´prɔfisi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.预言(能力)   (高中英语单词)
  • monastery [´mɔnəstri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.修道院;庙宇   (高中英语单词)
  • duchess [´dʌtʃis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.公爵夫人;女公爵   (高中英语单词)
  • motion [´məuʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.手势 vt.打手势   (高中英语单词)
  • offering [´ɔfəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.提供;礼物;捐献   (高中英语单词)
  • redeem [ri´di:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.买回;偿还;履行   (高中英语单词)
  • cavalier [,kævə´liə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.骑士;勋章获得者   (英语四级单词)
  • stirring [´stə:riŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.活跃的;热闹的   (英语四级单词)
  • livery [´livəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有肝病征象的   (英语四级单词)
  • blindness [´blaindnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.失明;愚味,文盲   (英语四级单词)
  • vicious [´viʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不道德的;刻毒的   (英语四级单词)
  • delicately [´delikitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.精美地;微妙地   (英语四级单词)
  • favoured [´feivəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有利的,喜爱的   (英语四级单词)
  • humbly [´hʌmbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.恭顺地,谦卑地   (英语四级单词)
  • magnificence [mæg´nifisns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.壮丽;宏伟;豪华   (英语四级单词)
  • blessed [´blesid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.享福的;神圣的   (英语四级单词)
  • gathering [´gæðəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会,聚集   (英语四级单词)
  • grievous [´gri:vəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.痛苦的;严重的   (英语四级单词)
  • providence [´prɔvidəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天意,天命,上帝   (英语四级单词)
  • impatience [im´peiʃəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.不耐烦,急躁   (英语四级单词)
  • wasting [´weistiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.浪费(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • bridge [bridʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.桥(梁);鼻梁;桥牌   (英语四级单词)
  • fleece [fli:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.羊毛;羊毛状物   (英语四级单词)
  • prophesy [´prɔfisai] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.预言;预示   (英语四级单词)
  • enlighten [in´laitn] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.启发,开导   (英语四级单词)
  • august [ɔ:´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尊严的;威严的   (英语六级单词)
  • personnel [,pə:sə´nel] 移动到这儿单词发声  n人事(部门);全体人员   (英语六级单词)
  • insolent [´insələnt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.傲慢的;无礼的   (英语六级单词)
  • sleepily [´sli:pili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.瞌睡地;懒散地   (英语六级单词)
  • dimple [´dimpəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.酒窝 v.(使)现酒窝   (英语六级单词)
  • derision [di´riʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.嘲笑,嘲弄   (英语六级单词)
  • solace [´sɔləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.安慰(物);缓和   (英语六级单词)
  • jester [´dʒestə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.爱开玩笑的人   (英语六级单词)
  • grotto [´grɔtəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.岩穴;洞室   (英语六级单词)
  • marrow [´mærəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(骨)髓;精华;活力   (英语六级单词)
  • discreet [di´skri:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.谨慎的,考虑周到的   (英语六级单词)
  • apparition [,æpə´riʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(幽灵)出现;鬼;幻影   (英语六级单词)
  • doublet [´dʌblit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.一对中之一   (英语六级单词)
  • rudely [´ru:dli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.粗鲁地;粗略地   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:27:19
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