Anna Alice Chapin.

Wonder tales from Wagner, told for young people online

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dition has been forfeited ; but if he ever comes home,
when I am dwelling far away, give him this horn,
this sword, and this ring. The horn will bring him
help on the battle-field, the sword will give him
victory in the fiercest combat, and seeing this ring
he will think of one who helped you in your

One by one he put the gifts into Elsa's trembling
hands, and then, whispering with passionate tender-
ness, " Farewell, my wife, I return to the Grail!" he
turned hastily aside, and made his way to the edge
of the water.

Suddenly Ortrud, who had been standing in the
shadow of the King's throne, started forward, with
a loud peal of laughter.

" Pass homeward, valiant hero !" she cried, harsh-
ly ; " you and your bride may now hear the truth.
I wound the chain about the neck of yonder swan
when I changed him from a boy to his present form.
He is the heir of Brabant !" She looked about her

How tlie Knight Went Aivay 99

defiantly, and as the knights in horror pressed for-
ward about her she waved them back.

"Away from me!" she said, fiercely. "The gods
have given me power for revenge power which I
can exercise upon you as well !"

With a look of wildness on her face, she stood
silent a lonely figure among many.

Lohengrin had heard her confession, and as she
ceased he sank on his knees in prayer. Long he
remained motionless, while all watched him in pain-
ful suspense. Suddenly a long beam of brilliant
light streamed from the sky upon his upturned face,
and down the shaft of brightness floated a snow-
white dove, which sank with outstretched wings
until it poised itself in the air above the boat.
Quickly rising to his feet, Lohengrin unfastened
the gold chain from the swan. The bird vanished
under the ripple of the river, and in its place was
a beautiful boy in garments of silver. Taking his
hand, Lohengrin drew him onto the bank, and said,
quietly, as he led him forward, " Behold the Duke
of Brabant ! To rule and lead you he has come !"

Gottfried bent in homage before the King, and,
one and all, the Brabantians knelt, acknowledging
their young ruler. Elsa caught him in her arms, in
a transport of love and thankfulness. Ortrud sank
prostrate across the step of the throne a spirit of
evil vanquished by good.

IOO Lohengrin

Lohengrin having swiftly entered the craft, the
dove lifted the chain in its tiny beak, and drew the
boat away. When Elsa raised her eyes from her
brother's beloved face, she saw only the wave-broken,
sparkling water, and darted forward with a sad cry :
" My husband! my husband!"

Once more Lohengrin came in sight beyond a
bend of the river. He leaned upon his shield and
his head was bowed in sorrow. A loud cry of grief
arose from the watchers, a cry echoing far over the
clear waters. From Gottfried's loving embrace Elsa
sank silently to the earth.

For the last time Lohengrin was seen in the far
distance ; then the many watching eyes saw only
the change and gleam of the shining river for he
was gone.

/i. .*-

Motif of the Holy Grail

- m *~\

T- "I f


(Tristan und Isolde]

Motif of Tristan's Honor

Motif of the wounded Tristan, nursed by Isolde


ONCE upon a time there was a Queen of Ireland
named Isolde, who was well versed in the arts of
sorcery, who could brew philters of marvellous magic
powers, cure all sickness, subdue the sea to her will,
and have calm or storm as she wished. She had a
daughter, also named Isolde, who was extremely
beautiful tall and very fair, with hair of a deep
brilliant gold, and clear, shining blue eyes. She in-
herited much of her mother's skill in caring for the
sick, but none of her witchcraft, and her heart was
so noble, compassionate, and generous that she was
well-beloved by all.

The Queen of Ireland had a nephew, Morold by
name, a knight of great courage, gigantic stature,
and a nature in which pride, roughness, and cruelty

IO4 Tristan and Isolde

were combined. To Sir Morold the Princess Isolde
was betrothed. Every year the King of Ireland
sent him to levy taxes on old Marke, the Cornish
sovereign ; for Cornwall, having been vanquished
by Ireland, was obliged to pay weregild every year
to the Irish people. Morold in his annual visits to
King Marke made himself much feared and hated,
for he was rude and insolent, and constantly taunted
the old monarch about the taxes which he must pay
to Ireland. The Cornish people grew more and
more indignant, and finally Sir Tristan, King Markers
nephew, could no longer endure to hear the insults
heaped upon Cornwall by a rough and heartless
giant like Morold, and he challenged the Irish knight
to mortal combat.

Tristan was the son of King Marke's sister,
Blanchefleur, who had married the knight Rivalin,
of Brittany, and had gone to dwell in his home, in
far Kareol, by the sea. Rivalin had died not long
after their marriage, and the Lady Blanchefleur,
overcome by grief, died also, leaving a little son
whom she had named Tristan (or Sadness). An old
servitor, Kurvenal by name, took care of the boy,
and carried him over the sea to his uncle, the mon-
arch of Cornwall. The King had lost his wife long
years before, and as he was without children of his
own, and very lonely, he gladly welcomed his sister's
child, brought him up as his son, and appointed him

From Ireland to Cor mv all 105

heir to the crown of Cornwall. The boy grew up
strong and brave, and his exploits were known by
all the world. Indeed, " Sir Tristan of Brittany '
came to be a name significant of all courage, knight-
liness, and nobility ; and he it was who challenged
Sir Morold of Ireland to combat.

Morold accepted the challenge, the day was ap-
pointed, and, with many anxious eyes upon them,
the warriors met and fought for the freedom of
Cornwall the honor of Ireland. Morold, whose
fierce soul was deeply angered, flung at his opponent
a poisoned spear. It wounded Tristan severely, but
before he fell he raised his good sword and killed
the giant with one blow.

The Cornishmen, free once more, sent Morold's
head home to Ireland with a derisive message, ac-
cording to the ancient barbaric custom. It was de-
livered into the hands of the Princess Isolde, who
discovered in it a splinter of steel, and vowed to
seek through the world until she found the sword
from which the piece had been broken. Then upon
the bearer of that sword she would be revenged for
the death of her kinsman and betrothed.

It was while the kingdom was still mourning
the loss of Morold that a wounded harper appeared
at the Irish court, sorely needing the care of the
Queen and her daughter. Full of pity for all suffer-
ing, the t\vo Isoldes welcomed the stranger, and the

io6 Tristan and Isolde

Princess undertook to cure him by administering
various of her mother's balsams and potions. Helped
sometimes by her maid of honor, Brangane, Isolde
carefully nursed the harper who called himself Tan-
tris until he began to recover slowly from his

One day, while he slept, she sat near him, idly
toying with his sword, which lay beside the couch.
Suddenly she saw a notch in the blade, and, a horri-
ble thought occurring to her, she hastened with the
sword to the place where she kept the steel splinter
concealed. When she found that the piece indeed
fitted into the broken edge of the blade, she knew,
that the Tantris whom she had nursed was none
other than the Tristan who had killed her kinsman,
Morold. As she stood holding the sword in her
hand the wounded knight called to her, and a wild
wish to kill him with his own sword while he lay de-
fenceless possessed her. Grasping the hilt, she went
to the bedside and raised the sword. But, as though
he saw neither uplifted arm nor poised weapon, he
looked up tenderly and wonderingly into her eyes,
and in a moment the thought of his weakness touched
her burning heart. She lowered her hand, and let
the sword drop to the floor.

From that hour she was untiring in her efforts to
bring him back to health and strength. While all
Ireland was in wild commotion, vowing death to

From Ireland to Cornwall 107

Morold's slayer, she guarded him in secrecy and
security, refraining from a word which might draw
suspicion upon him. And, as time went on, she
found that she had grown to love the knight very
dearly, and she believed that he loved her.

Then the day came for him to leave Ireland, and,
promising to return, he sailed away. His mind was
full of many new thoughts. His friends, alarmed at
the seriousness of his wound, had urged him to go
in disguise to the Irish Queen that she might cure
him ; and though disguise or deceit in any form was
most distasteful to his frank and brave nature, he
had been persuaded to do as they wished as a last
resort, that he might have hope of life and strength.
And now he loved the Princess with his whole heart,
though he did not know that she thought of him
with anything save pity, and he dreaded her horror
when she should learn his name.

He returned to the Cornish court and narrated
his adventures. He spoke with such admiration
and tenderness of the wonderful beauty and the
generous heart of the Irish Princess that the court-
iers and knights assured King Marke that there, in-
deed, was a woman befitting the throne of Cornwall.
The King, after much thought, decided to send to
Ireland, requesting the hand of the Princess in mar-
riage, and it was Tristan who was chosen for this
task who must carry his uncle's proposal and re-

loS Tristan and Isolde

ceive the answer, and, if consent were given, must
bring Isolde to Cornwall. With a heavy heart, but
sternly resolved to further the interests of his kins-
man and benefactor in all things, Tristan sailed away
to Ireland.

The suit of the King of Cornwall was accepted by
the King and Queen of Ireland, and Tristan, in his
uncle's name, declared peace between the two king-
doms. So, in the Irish court, before a great assem-
bly of people, the feud was ended.

Only Isolde, furious, heart-broken, despairing, did
not join in the general declaration of friendliness, but
repented that she had spared the life of this knight,
who had won her love and now dared to woo her
for his uncle, the King. And the horror of it all
caused her to fall almost distraught with misery.
As though frozen with a grief too deep for outward
sign, she allowed all to be made ready for her de-
parture. She bade farewell to her parents with
neither tears nor smiles, and silently went on board
Sir Tristan's ship.

Queen Isolde, distressed at her daughter's strange
state of mind, intrusted to Brangane, who was to ac-
company the Princess, a casket of magic philters the
most valuable gift she could bestow. A love-potion
was among these, and the Queen directed Brangane
to give it to Isolde and King Marke on their wed-
ding-day, to insure their mutual love and happiness.

From Ireland to Cornwall 109

Promising to obey these instructions, the maid of
honor followed her young mistress to the ship,
which weighed anchor and sailed away from Ire-

Much sorrow went with the vessel, for Isolde be-
lieved that the knight did not love her, and that he
willingly relinquished her to the King ; and Tristan*
firm in his decision to be true to his uncle, suffered
in silence, loving Isolde deeply, but having this con-
solation the belief that she had no love for him,
and, therefore, did not suffer as did he. So the ship
sailed on to Cornwall.

The Melody of the Sailor's Song

(Also used as the Sea Motif)





-a-y t-

The last day of the voyage dawned bright and
fair. A warm wind blew freshly ; the waves of the
blue sea rolled with rhythmical music against the
sides of the vessel ; sunshine lay upon everything ;
a blue line on the western horizon showed that port
would soon be gained.

A flight of steps led from Isolde's cabin to a part
of the deck which had been curtained off for her
and transformed by a canopy into a sort of pavilion.
It was richly hung with tapestries, and upon a raised

no Tristan and Isolde

dais stood a couch covered with furs and costly
draperies. Upon a stand was a golden flagon of
wine and a goblet.

Isolde, silent and brooding, lay upon the couch,
with her face buried among the soft cushions and
her hands clasped above her head. Brangane stood
at the side of the ship, looking off to the west, where
land lay, a blue stripe against the sky. From the
rigging above came the sound of a sailor's voice
singing. The clear tones were wafted to them on
the boisterous sea-wind, and aroused Isolde from her
apathy. Turning to Brangane, she asked, as though
in a dream, whither they were sailing. Brangane an-
swered that they would soon be in Cornwall, and
Isolde sprang up, declaring, in furious excitement,
that she wished never to reach Cornwall, and pas-
sionately regretting that she had not her mother's
power over wind and wave. As though in a wild
hope that sorcery lurked somewhere in her own
heart, she appealed to the breezes then blowing,
bidding them arise and become tempestuous blasts,
and wreck the ship in the surging ocean.

As Brangane, much startled by this outburst,
hastened near with words of anxiety and wonder,
Isolde pushed her away and sank upon the couch,
crying, " Air ! Air !"

Brangane quickly drew back the curtains, reveal-
ing the length of the ship. Sailors sat and stood

From Ireland to Cornwall 1 1 1

about the deck, coiling ropes or talking together.
Various knights who had accompanied Tristan sat
in the stern of the ship, and near them, though
apart, was Tristan, standing motionless, with eyes
which seemed to gaze out unseeing over the restless,
changing waves.

He was in half -armor, with a long cloak about
him, and his strong, bare arms were encircled by
metal bands. In his helmet were the wings of some
white bird, and his sword hung at his side, in a scab-
bard covered with intricate designs. An imposing
and knightly figure was his, but Isolde's eyes rested
on his face. It was naturally fair, but deeply tanned
by the sun, and his head was covered with short,
curling brown hair. His eyes, steadfast and clear,
seemed saddened by an unseen shadow which lay
within them the shadow cast, perhaps, by fate the
shadow that lingered about his name, Sadness.

For some time Isolde watched him, while strange
and conflicting thoughts passed through her mind.
Suddenly she laughed, with odd mockery.

" What think you of him?" she said to Brangane,
who, rather bewildered, asked to whom she referred.

"That hero !" returned Isolde. " He who fears to
meet my eyes !"

" Do you mean Sir Tristan, my lady ?" exclaimed
Brangane. "The wonder of the world the hero
worthy of all honor ?"

1 1 2 Tristan and Isolde

" Shrinking and shamed, he brings the bride," de-
clared Isolde, scornfully. " Trying to hide his em-
barrassment as he carries her to his King! Go!"
she cried, imperatively " Go ask him if he dares to
come to me ! He has persistently neglected me on
the voyage see if he has courage to face me !"

" Shall I beseech him to attend you ?" questioned
the maid.

But Isolde answered, haughtily, "No! Com-
mand him! It is the Princess who speaks I,
Isolde !"

Very unwillingly Brangane walked down the deck
between the lines of sailors to Tristan.

" Have a care !" muttered Kurvenal, pulling his
young master's cloak. " Here is word from Isolde."

Tristan started, murmuring " Isolde !" and turned
towards the maid, saying, quietly, " What message
does my lady send me?"

Brangane bent low before him as she answered.
She asked him, respectfully, to go to her mistress,
who desired to speak with him. Tristan inquired if
the Lady Isolde were very tired with the voyage,
and assured her that they would reach land before
sunset. When Brangane nervously repeated her
mistress's request, Tristan said, gently, that he would
go to the Princess when the time came for him to
lead her before the King.

" My Lord Tristan," besought the maid, at a loss

From Ireland to Cormvall 1 1 3

how to appeal to this obdurate knight, " my lady
wished you to attend her at once !"

" I have but one wish to serve her," said Tristan,
seemingly unmoved. " If I left the helm, how could
I know that the ship were well steered to King
Marke's domain ?"

" Sir Tristan, is it possible that you do not under-
stand me ?" cried Brangane. " Listen, now ! Thus
has my lady spoken : ' Command him ! It is the
Princess who speaks I, Isolde !'

At this point Kurvenal sprang to his feet and
broke out into words of rude contempt for the Lady
Isolde's will, and finally sang a rough song about
the slaying of Morold, which was taken up loudly
by the sailors. Brangane hastily made her way back
to her mistress, closing the curtains behind her, and
sank on her knees before the couch. Isolde had
heard Kurvenal's scoffing song, and her heart was
sore with rage and humiliation. Starting up, as Bran-
gane described her interview with Tristan, she in-
terrupted her, and cried that if she willed she could
put an end to such mockery and slights. Beckoning
Brangane to approach nearer, she told her, in a low
voice, the story of the stranger who had come to
Ireland, whom she had nursed and discovered to be
a foe, whom she would have killed save for a mo-
mentary weakness.

" How wonderful !" exclaimed Brangane, softly.

114 Tristan and Isolde

" The knight I sometimes helped you nurse ! Why
have I not recognized him ?"

Then, as Isolde declared wildly that she should
never cease to regret that her foolish pity had pre-
vented her from letting the blade descend into his
heart, Brangane gently endeavored to soothe and
calm her, trying all forms of tenderness, cajolery,
and reason to comfort her mistress's sad heart. To
convince her of her future happiness with King
Marke, the maid then told her of the casket intrust-
ed to her by the Queen of Ireland. As Isolde bade
her bring the magic philters, Brangane hastened
away, returning in a few moments with a golden
casket. She knelt beside Isolde, who seated herself
upon the couch and raised the lid, disclosing rows
of tiny phials.

" Here," she said, " are potions of all kinds. Here
is a salve which cures sickness and soothes wounds ;
here are antidotes for all poisons. And here is the
best and most helpful draught for you !" She took
out a bottle the love-potion.

" Nay," said Isolde, quietly, and put out her hand,
touching one of the flasks. " I marked this once,
that I might know it. This is the one which I would

" The death-draught !" shrieked Brangane, start-
ing back.

Isolde rose to her feet, the flask of death in her

From Ireland to Cornwall 1 1 5

hand. From without the curtains came the cries
of the sailors. The end of the journey was almost
reached. Kurvenal pushed the curtains aside and
entered, saying that it was his master's request that
the ladies should hasten, as already King Marke's
castle was visible, and Sir Tristan was ready to es-
cort the Princess to the shore. In answer, Isolde
said that she would neither hasten nor prepare to
land until Tristan had come in person to apologize
for his past misdeeds. With a defiant gesture Kur-
venal left them, and Isolde, in intense excitement,
turned to Brangane and bade her prepare the
draught of peace. " You know how to make it,"
she added, significantly. And as Brangane still
seemed bewildered, she showed her the death-potion,
bidding her pour it into the golden goblet. In that
draught, declared the Princess, she and Tristan would
drink everlasting truce.

Falling at Isolde's feet, the maid besought her
to have mercy not to command so horrible a

" Will you not be true to me ?" asked Isolde,
grasping her arm as the terrified woman raised it

"Oh, misery!" wailed Brangane, cowering befose

" Sir Tristan !" announced Kurvenal, parting the

n6 Tristan and Isolde

Isolde walked quietly to the couch and supported
herself by resting her hand upon its head.

" Sir Tristan may approach," she said, gravely,
and with dignity.

Tristan entered slowly, pausing with lowered head
before letting the curtains close behind him. With
deep respect, he asked what was her will with him,
and when Isolde demanded the cause of his neglect
during the voyage, he said, tranquilly, that it was the
custom in his land that a deputy bringing a bride to
her future husband should in courtesy to her refrain
from intruding upon her while on the journey.
Isolde, with much scorn, told him that he would do
well to remember other customs truce with foes,
and amends for base deeds.

"What foes?" asked Tristan.

"Question your own fear!" returned Isolde, bitter-
ly and mockingly. " There is blood-guilt between us !"

And when he declared that the feud had been
healed, she cried, sharply, " Not between us ! I was
silent in the truce !"

Then she reminded him of the days when she had
so carefully concealed him from suspicious hearts
and murderous hands, when she had restrained the
impulse which prompted her to slay him, and she
declared, passionately, that were Morold alive all
would be well, and she should not have to punish
her enemies herself.

From Ireland to Cornwall 117

Tristan had grown pale with intense feeling as she
spoke, and with a sudden, fierce, hurt gesture he
drew his sword and offered it to her, bidding her slay
him now, since she so deeply mourned Morold's
death and so greatly repented her momentary soft-
ness of heart when she held that same hilt before.
Isolde answered that King Marke would be angry
if she killed his nephew and messenger, and said
that she would declare a truce if Tristan would
drink with her the customary draught of peace.
Turning to Brangane, she commanded her to pre-
pare the concoction of which she had spoken. The
maid, pale and trembling, advanced to the stand
and opened the casket. From without came the
sound of the sailor's " Yo-heave-ho !" Tristan started
from the deep reverie into which he had fallen, cry-
ing, " Where are we ?"

" Near the end," said Isolde, darkly. " Tristan^
is the feud healed ?"

Brangane handed her the filled goblet, and, with
it in her hand, Isolde went towards Tristan, who
stood silent, looking into her eyes.

The shouts of the men were louder, more boister-
ous. "Anchor down !" they cried.

Tristan had known from the beginning of the in-
terview that Isolde wished his death. He now took
the goblet from her and spoke in accents of deep
and strange yearning : " I thank you for this draught.

iiS Tristan and Isolde

In return I give you my oath of truce Tristan's
honor highest truth! Tristan's pain bravest suffer-
ing ! Drink of death, I take you gladly !" He raised
the goblet to his lips and drank. Isolde snatched it
from his hand and swallowed the remainder of the
potion. There was a pause. The golden goblet
fell from her hand and rolled along the deck un-

Tristan and Isolde stood motionless with beating
hearts, and eyes in which dawned a new and strange
emotion. They trembled, and then bent their heads
as though against a strong wind ; then turning to
one another, each spoke the other's name, wonder-
ingly, as in a dream. In a moment they were in
each other's arms.

" Hail, King Marke ! Hail !" shouted the sailors
outside. Brangane wrung her hands wildly and de-
spairingly, looking at her mistress and the knight in
horror; for, overcome by fear of the consequences,
she had prepared not the death-draught but another.
Now she regretted the deception which had been
intended for the Princess's welfare, and which, the
maid now realized, would undoubtedly cause the
deepest distress to all.

The curtains were drawn back ; the ship was in
port. On the rocks could be seen a great castle.
Brangane called down the hatchway to Isolde's
women, who appeared with the crown and royal

From Ireland to Cornwall


robe which she, the Princess of Ireland, must wear
when she should meet the King. Brangane hastily
put the crown upon her mistress's head and wrapped
the mantle about her. Kurvenal rushed in, announc-
ing the coming of King Marke in a small bark to
meet his bride.

"Brangane !" gasped Isolde, clinging to her maid
of honor ; " what was that draught ?"

"The love-potion!" moaned Brangane, pushing
her forward.

Tristan took her hand, and, supported by him
and her women, Isolde, weak and overpowered, was
led forward to meet the King.

Love Motif








The Hunting-horns

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Online LibraryAnna Alice ChapinWonder tales from Wagner, told for young people → online text (page 6 of 10)