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But Magtelt, seeing him about to grow angry, went and
knelt at his feet.

" Lord father," said she, " we are not cold at all, for we
have been leaping, dancing and frolicking so heartily, thump-
ing and drubbing each other, that we turned winter into
spring ; furthermore we sang some fine songs, which I beg
you will give me leave to sing over again to you."

" So I will, little one," said Sir Roel. So Magtelt sang
him the lied of Roeland de Heurne the Lion, who came back
from the Holy Land, and brought thence a great sword; and
also the song of the Four Witches, wherein you may hear
mewling of cats, bleating of goats, and the noise which they
make with their tails in rainy weather.

And Sir Roel forgot his anger.

When Magtelt had done singing he caused supper to be
served and the cross lit up, which threw over them a bright
light from the four lamps burning at the end of each

And he made his daughter sit at his side.

Sir Ha/ewyn

Anne-Mie came likewise to sit at table, beside the lady
Gonde, who said : " Young company warms old folk."

And there were served to them that evening fine white
bread, beef salted and smoked in the chimney among the
sweet smoke of fir-cones, Ghent sausage, which was invented,
they say, by Boudwin the Glutton, bastard of Flanders, and
old dauwaert.

Supper finished, and a prayer spoken, Magtelt and Anne-
Mie went off to bed, in the same room, for Magtelt loved
Anne-Mie like a sister and would have her by her side at
all times.

XX. Of the sixteenth virgin hanged,.

Magtelt, with laughter, singing, and frolic, soon fell asleep.

But Anne-Mie, being somewhat cold, could not close her

And the Miserable came and stationed himself on the
border of his land. Thence his voice rang out clear, soft,
and melodious.

And Anne-Mie heard it, and, forgetting that she was but
lightly clad, rose up and went out of the castle by the postern.

When she came into the open the snow smote harshly
on her face, her breast, and her shoulders.

And she tried to shield herself against this bitter cold and
evil snow, but could not, for she had lain down to sleep
nearly naked.

Going towards the song she passed barefoot across the
moat, whereof the water was hard frozen.

And trying to mount the farther bank, which was high
and slippery, she fell ;

And cut a great wound in her knee.

Having picked herself up she entered the forest, wounding
her bare feet on the stones, and her numbed body on the
branches of trees.

But she went her way without heeding.

When she drew near to the Miserable she fell on her


Flemish Legends

knees before him. And he did to her as he had done to the

And Anne-Mie was the sixteenth virgin hanged in the

XXI. How Magtelt sought Anne-Mie.

On the morrow Magtelt, being, as was customary, the
first awake, said her prayers to My Lord Jesus and to Madam
Saint Magtelt, her blessed patron.

Having besought them earnestly for Sir Roel, the lady
Gonde, the Silent, and all the household, most particularly
for Anne-Mie, she looked at the maid's bed, and seeing its
curtains half drawn she supposed that her companion was
still asleep ; and so, putting on her fine clothes, she kept
saying as she moved up and down the room, or looked at
herself in the mirror-glass :

" Ho, Anne-Mie, wake up, wake up, Anne-Mie ! Who
sleeps late comes last to grass. The sparrows are awake
and the hens also, and already their eggs are laid. Wake
up, Anne-Mie, Schimmel is neighing in the stable, and the
sun is shining bright on the snow ; my lord father is scolding
the servants, and my lady mother is interceding for them.
Canst not smell the savoury odour of beans and good beef
broiled with spices ? I can smell it well enough, and it
makes me hungry ; wake up, Anne-Mie." But the girl could
not possess herself in patience any longer, and threw the
curtains wide open.

Finding no Anne-Mie : " There ! " she said, " the rogue,
she has gone down without me ; and without me, no doubt,
is at this same moment eating those good beans and

And going down the stairs at a run Magtelt entered the
great hall, where, seeing Sir Roel her father, she knelt to
him and asked his blessing, and then likewise to the lady

But her mother said to her : " Where is Anne-Mie ? "

Sir Halewyn

" I cannot tell," said Magtelt, " she is having some fun
with us, I suppose, hidden in some corner."

" That," said Sir Roel, " is not her way, for if any one
here makes fun of others 'tis not she, but thou, little one."

" My lord father," said Magtelt, " you make me anxious
by talking so."

" Well," said Sir Roel, " go and seek Anne-Mie ; as for
us, mother, let us eat ; our old stomachs cannot wait for
food as well as these young ones."

" Ah," said the lady Gonde, " I have no mind to eat ;
go, Magtelt, and find me Anne-Mie."

But Sir Roel helped himself to a great platterful of beans
and good beef, and, falling to it, said that nothing was so
easily put out, troubled, made anxious, as a woman, and
this for nothing at all.

Nevertheless he was himself a little uneasy, and from
time to time looked up at the door, saying that the rascal
of a girl would show herself suddenly from somewhere.

But Magtelt, after searching the whole castle over, came
back and said : " I can find Anne-Mie nowhere."

XXII. How Magtelt wept bitterly, and of the fine dress which
she had.

And Magtelt had great sorrow in her heart, and wept,
and made lament, crying : " Anne-Mie, where art thou ?
Would I could see thee again ! " And falling on her knees
before Sir Roel, she said : " My lord father, I pray you to
send our men-at-arms in goodly number in search for Anne-

" So I will," said he.

The men-at-arms went out, but dared not pass on to the
lands of Halewyn from fear of the spell.

And on their return they said : " We can hear nothing
of Anne-Mie."

And Magtelt went up and stretched herself on her bed, and
prayed to the good God to send her back her sweet comrade.


Flemish Legends

On the second day she went and sat before the glazed
window, and without intermission looked out all day at the
countryside and the falling snow, and watched to see if
Anne-Mie were coming.

But Anne-Mie could not come.

And on the third day the lids of her eyes bled for weeping.
And on that day the snow ceased falling, the sky became
clear, the sun shone therein, and the earth was hard frozen.

And every day in the same place went and sat the sorrow-
ing Magtelt, watching the countryside, thinking of Anne-Mie
and saying nothing.

Sir Roel, seeing her so low-hearted, sent to Bruges for
some blue cloth-of-scarlet, for her to make herself a dress,
and fine Cyprian gold for the border, and fine gold buttons
of rich workmanship.

Magtelt worked away at making this dress, but took no
pleasure at all at the thought of all this fine apparel.

And so passed away the week, and each day Magtelt
worked at her dress, saying nothing and singing never, but
weeping oftentimes.

On the fifth day, when the dress was finished, well trimmed
with the Cyprian gold and embellished with the rich buttons,
the lady Gonde bade Magtelt don it, and then showed her
her magnificence in a great mirror-glass ; but Magtelt had
no heart to be glad at seeing herself so beautiful, for she was
thinking of Anne-Mie.

And the lady Gonde, seeing how sad she was and silent,
wept also, saying : " Since our Magtelt stopped singing I
have felt more bitterly the chill of winter and old age."

And Sir Roel made no murmur, but became sullen and
pensive, and drank clauwaert all day.

And at times, turning angry, he bade Magtelt sing and
be cheerful.

And the maid sang merry lieds to the old man, who then
turned joyous again, and Gonde as well.

And they spent all their time before the fire, nodding

Sir Halewyn

their heads. And they said : " The nightingale is come back
again to the house, and her music makes the fires of spring
sunshine stir in our bones."

And Magtelt, having done singing, would go off to hide
herself in a corner and weep for Anne-Mie.

XXIII. Of Toon the Silent.

On the eighth day, the Silent went wolf-hunting.

Following a certain beast he rode into the domain of

And at vespers the lady Gonde, leaving the great hall to
go to the kitchen for the ordering of supper, on opening the
door saw Toon before her. He seemed loth to come in, and
hung his head as if with shame.

The lady Gonde, going to him, said : " My son, why do
you not come into the hall to bid good evening to the lord
your father ? "

The Silent, without answering, went into the hall, and
muttering short and sullen words by way of salutation, went
to sit in the darkest corner.

And the lady Gonde said to Sir Roel : " Our son is angry
at something, I think, since he goes off into a dark corner
far away from us, against his habit."

Sir Roel said to the Silent : " Son, come hither to the
light that we may see thy face."

He obeyed, and Sir Roel, the lady Gonde, and the sorrow-
ing Magtelt saw that he was bleeding from the head and from
the neck, and cast down his eyes, not daring to look them
in the face.

The lady Gonde cried out with fright on seeing the blood,
and Magtelt came to him, and Sir Roel said : " Who has
given my son this shamed countenance, this downcast heart,
and these wounds in his body ? "

The Silent answered : u Siewert Halewyn."

" Why," said Sir Roel, " was my son so presumptuous
as to attack the Invincible ? "


Flemish Legends

The Silent answered : " Anne-Mie hanged in the Gallows-
field of Siewert Halewyn."

" Woe ! " cried Sir Roel, " our poor maid hanged ! shame
and sorrow upon us ! "

" Lord God," said Gonde, " you smite us hard indeed."
And she wept.

But Magtelt could neither weep nor speak from the
bitterness of the grief which laid hold upon her.

And she looked at her brother fixedly, and his sunken
face blenched, and from the wounds against his eyes dropped
tears of blood, and his body was shaken with spasms.

And the Silent sank into a seat, weeping dully like a
wounded lion.

" Ha," quoth Sir Roel, hiding his face, " this is the first
man of the house of Heurne that has found need to sit weep-
ing. Shame upon us, and without redress, for there is a
spell woven."

And the Silent stuffed his fingers into the wound in his
neck, pressing out the blood ; but he felt nothing of the

" Toon," said the lady Gonde, " do not dirty your wound
with your fingers in this wise ; you will poison it, my

But the Silent did not seem to hear.

" Toon," said the lady Gonde, " do not do it ; I, your
mother, order you. Let me wash away this blood and dress
with ointment these ugly sores."

While she hurried to prepare the ointment and to warm
the water in a washing-basin, Toon did not cease his groaning
and weeping. And he tore out the hair from his beard in a

And Sir Roel, watching him, said : " When a man weeps
'tis blood and shame, shame without redress. Halewyn has
a spell. Ah, presumptuous one, must thou then go to his
castle to brave the Invincible ? "

" Woe, my lord," said the lady Gonde, " be not so bitter


Sir Halewyn

angry with the Silent, for he showed fine courage in wishing
to avenge Anne-Mie on the Miserable."

"Yes," said Sir Roel, " fine courage that brings shame
to our house."

" Tell," said she, " tell, Toon, the tale to thy father, to
show him that thou art a worthy son to him none the less."

" I wish it," said Sir Roel.

" My lord father," said the Silent, groaning, and speaking
in short breaths, " Anne-Mie hanging, Siewert Halewyn near
to the gallows. He was laughing. I ran at him, cutting at
his belly with my sword in the fashion of a cross to break
the spell. Invincible ! He laughed, saying : * I will take
Magtelt.' I struck him with a knife ; the blade turned. He
laughed. He said : ' I do not care for punishment, be off.'
I did not go. I struck him with sword and knife together ;
in vain. He laughed. He said again : ' Be off.' I could
not. Then he struck me with the flat of his sword in the
neck and breast, and with the hilt in the back, like a serf.
He laughed. I lost sense from the blows. Beaten like a
serf, my lord father, I could do naught against him."

Sir Roel, having heard Toon speak, was less angered,
understanding that he had not been presumptuous, thinking
also of his great pain and of his bitter groaning and his
grievous shame.

With the ointment ready and the water warm, the lady
Gonde set to work to dress the wounds of her son, particu-
larly that on his neck, which was a deep one.

But Magtelt wept never a tear, and soon went off to her
bed, not without a blessing from Sir Roel her father, and
her lady mother.

The three stayed a long while together before the fire,
father, mother, and son, without a word spoken, for the
Silent, moaning all the while, could not bear his defeat, and
the lady Gonde wept and prayed ; and Sir Roel, sad and
ashamed, hid his face,


Flemish Legends

XXIV. How the damosel Magtelt made a good, resolution.
Magtelt, before she lay down on her bed, prayed, but

not aloud. And her face was hard set with anger.

And having undressed she lay down in her bed, tugging
at her breast with her finger-nails from time to time, as if
she were fighting for breath.

And her breathing was as if she were in agony.

For she was bitter sad and out of heart.

But she did not weep.

And she heard the high wind, forerunner of snow, lifting
over the forest, and roaring like a stream in spate after heavy

And it tossed against the window glass dried leaves and
branches, which beat on the pane like dead men's finger-nails.

And it howled and whistled sadly in the chimney.

And the sorrowing maid saw in her mind's eye Anne-
Mie hanging in the Gallows-field and her poor body pecked
by the crows, and she thought of the stain on her brave
brother's honour, and of the fifteen poor virgins outraged by
the Miserable.

But she did not weep.

For in her breast was a dumb pain, harsh anguish, and
a bitter thirst for vengeance.

And she asked very humbly of Our Lady if it were a
good thing to let the Miserable any longer go killing the
maidens of the land of Flanders.

And at cock-crow she rose from her bed, and her eyes
were bright, and proud was her countenance, and her head
held high, and she said : " I will go to Halewyn."

And throwing herself on her knees she prayed to the
very strong God to give her courage and strength for the
revenge of Anne-Mie, Toon the Silent, and the fifteen virgins.

XXV . Of the sword of the Lion.

At sun-up^she went to Sir Roel, who was still in bed, on
account of the cold,

Sir Halewyn

Seeing her come in and fall on her knees before him, he
said : " What wilt thou, little one ? "

" My lord father," she said, " may I go to Halewyn ? "

At this he became afraid, and saw well enough that Mag-
telt, unable to rid her heart of the thought of Anne-Mie, was
minded to avenge her. And he said with love and anger :

" No, my daughter, no, not thou ; who goes there will
not come again ! "

But seeing her go out of the room he never supposed that
she would fail in her obedience.

And Magtelt went thence to the lady Gonde, who was
praying in the chapel for the repose of Anne-Mie's soul ; and
she pulled at her mother's dress, to show that she was

When the lady Gonde turned her head, Magtelt fell on
her knees before her :

" Mother," said she, " may I go to Halewyn ? "

But her lady mother : " Oh no, child, no, not thou ; who
goes there will not come again ! "

And so saying, she opened her arms and let fall the
golden ball wherewith she warmed her hands, so that the
embers spread this way and that on the floor. Then she
fell to moaning, weeping, trembling, and chattel ing with her
teeth, and embraced the girl tightly as if she would never
let her go.

But she never supposed that she could fail in her obedience.

And Magtelt went thence to Toon, who, despite his
wounds, was already out of bed, and seated on his coffer,
warming himself before a new-lit fire.

" Brother," she said, " may I go to Halewyn ? "

Saying this she held herself straight before him.

The Silent lifted his head and looked at her severely,
waiting for her to speak further.

" Brother," she said, " Siewert Halewyn has killed this
sweet maid whom I loved ; and has done the same to fifteen
other pitiful virgins, who are hanging in the Gallows-field

F 81

Flemish Legends

shamefully ; he is for this country a greater evil than war,
death, and pestilence ; brother, I would kill him."

But Toon looked at Magtelt and answered nothing.

" Brother," said she, " thou must not refuse me, for my
heart bids me go. Canst thou not see how sad and down-
cast I am in this house, and how I shall die of sorrow if I
do not that which I should. But having been to him I shall
come back joyous and singing as before."

But the Silent said not a word.

" Ah," she said, " dost fear for me, seeing how many
good knights have assailed him and been by him shamefully
overthrown, even thyself, my brave brother, who earliest
even now his marks ? I am not ignorant that on his shield
is written : ' None can stand against me.' But what others
could not, one may do. He goes glorying in his strength,
more terrible than an oliphant, prouder than a lion, thinking
himself invincible, but when the beast goes with assurance
the hunter follows the more easily. Brother, may I go to
Halewyn ? "

When Magtelt had reached so far in her speech, suddenly
there fell from the wall whereon it was fastened a fair sword
well set and sharpened, and with the blade stout to the hilt.
The handpiece was of cedar of Lebanon, set out with golden
cresslets, and in the castle this sword was held to be of
marvellous virtue and holiness, because it had been brought
from the crusade by Roeland de Heurne, the Lion. And
none dared use it.

The sword, falling, lay at the feet of Magtelt.

" Brother," said Magtelt, crossing herself, " the good
sword of the Lion has fallen at my feet ; 'tis the very strong
God showing thus his will. He must be obeyed, brother ;
let me go to Halewyn."

And Toon the Silent, crossing himself as Magtelt had done,
answered :

" 'Tis all one to me where thou go, if thou cherish thine
honour and carry thy crown straight."

Sir Halewyn

" Brother," she said, " I thank you." And the noble
maid began to tremble mightily from head to foot ; and she
who had not shed a tear on hearing of Anne-Mie's death
and her brother's dishonour, fell to weeping abundantly,
whereby her bitter anger was melted, and bursting into tears
by reason of her great joy she said again : " Brother, brother,
'tis the hour of God ! I go to the reckoning ! "

And she took the good sword.

The Silent, seeing her so brave, lifted himself straight
before her and put his hand on her shoulder. " Go," said

And she went out.

XXVI. Of the noble apparel of the maid Magtelt.

In her own room she dressed herself in her most beautiful
clothes as quickly as she could.

What did the fair maid put on her white body ? A
bodice finer than silk.

And over the fine bodice ?

A robe of cloth-of-scarlet of Flemish blue, whereon were
the arms of de Heurne marvellously worked, and the edges
next to the feet and the neck embroidered with fine Cyprian

Wherewith did the fair maid bind in her slender waist ?

With a girdle of the hide of a lion, studded with gold.

What had the fair maid on her beautiful shoulders ?

Her great keirle, which was of cramoisy stitched with
Cyprian gold, and covered her from head to foot, for it was
an ample cloak.

What had the fair maid on her proud head ?

A fine crown of beaten gold, whence fell tresses of pale
hair as long as herself.

What held she in her little hand ?

The blessed sword brought from the crusade.

So apparelled she went out to the stable, and harnessed
Schimmel, the great war-horse, with his saddle of State, a


Flemish Legends

fine leathern seat, painted in divers colours, and richly worked
with gold.

And they set out together, through the snow falling

XXVII. How Sir Roel and the lady Gonde questioned Toon
the Silent, and of what he answered.

While Magtelt was on her way to Halewyn, and when the
first hour of her journey had already gone by, the lady Gonde
questioned Sir Roel : " Sir," she said, " do you know where
our daughter may be ? "

Sir Roel said that he knew nothing of it ; and speaking
to the Silent : " Son," said he, " dost thou know where thy
sister has gone ? "

The Silent answered quietly : " Magtelt is a brave maid ;
whom God leads he leads well."

" Sir," said the lady Gonde, " do not put yourself to the
trouble of questioning him further, for saying so much he
has used up his words."

But Sir Roel to Toon : " Son, dost thou not know where
she is ? "

" Magtelt," answered he, " is a fair maid, and carries her
crown straight."

" Ah," exclaimed the lady Gonde, " I am growing anxious ;
where is she then ? "

And she went off to search the castle thoroughly.

But coming back she said to Sir Roel : " She is nowhere in
the house ; she has defied our orders and gone to Halewyn."

" Wife," said Roel, " that cannot be. Children, in this
country, were always obedient to their parents."

" Toon," said she, " where is she ? Toon, do you not
know ? "

" The Miserable," he answered, " fears the beautiful maid ;
whom God leads he leads well."

" Roel," cried out the lady Gonde, " he knows where our
Magtelt has gone ! "

Sir Halewyn

" Son, answer," said Sir Roel.

The Silent answered :

" The sword of the crusade fell from the wall at the maid's
feet. Whom God guides succeeds in everything."

" Toon," cried the lady Gonde, " where is Magtelt ? "

" The virgin," he said, " rides without fear, she goes
faster than the armed man : whom God leads he leads

The lady Gonde groaned :

" Ah," she said, " our Magtelt will be killed, even now
she is stiff frozen, sweet Jesus ! The sword of the crusade
is of no avail against Siewert Halewyn."

The Silent answered :

" He glories in his strength, thinking himself invincible,
but when the beast goes with assurance the hunter follows
more easily."

" Wicked son, how couldst thou think to send the little
bird to the hawk, the virgin to the enemy of virgins ? "

The Silent answered :

" She will come whither none looks to see her : whom
God leads he leads well."

" Sir," said the lady Gonde to Roel, " you hear what he
says ; she has gone to Halewyn, and 'tis this wicked son that
gave her leave."

Sir Roel going to Toon :

" Son," said he, " we had here but one joy, that was our
Magtelt. Thou hast abused thy privilege in giving her
leave to go thither. If she comes not back to us by nightfall
I will curse thee and banish thee from my house. May God
hear me, and take from thee, in this world bread and salt,
and in the other thy portion in Paradise."

" God," said the Silent, " will guide the sword. Whoso-
ever has done wrong, on him let fall the punishment."

Gonde began crying out, weeping and making dole. Roel
bade her be silent, and sent a goodly troop of men-at-arms
in the direction she had taken.


Flemish Legends

But they came back without having seen anything of
Magtelt, for they had not dared to go into the territory of
Halewyn by reason of the spell.

XXV 111. The riding of the maid Magtelt.

Singing and winding her horn, rides the noble damosel.

And she is beautiful with a beauty from heaven ; fresh
and rosy are her cheeks.

And straight she carries her crown.

And her little hand holds fast beneath her keirle the good
sword of Roel the Lion.

And wide open are her fearless eyes, searching the forest
for Sir Halewyn.

And she listens for the sound of his horse.

But she hears nothing, except, in the heavy silence, the
still sound of snowflakes falling quietly like feathers.

And she sees nothing, except the air whitened with snow,
and white also the long road, and white also the leafless

What is it makes the flame glow in her clear brown eyes ?
It is her high courage.

Why does she carry so straight her head and her crown ?
Because of the great strength in her heart.

What is it so swells her breast ? The cruel thought of
Anne-Mie, and her brother's shame and the great crimes of
Sir Halewyn.

And ceaselessly she looks to see if he be not coming, and
if she can hear nothing of the sound of his horse.

But she sees nothing, except the air whitened with snow,
and white also the long road, and white also the leafless

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