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

And she sings.

Then, speaking to Schimmel, she said : " Together,
good Schimmel, we are going to a lion. Canst not see him

Sir Halewyn

in his cavern, awaiting passers-by, and devouring poor
maids ? "

And Schimmel, hearing her, whinnied joyously.

" Schimmel," said Magtelt, " thou art glad, I see, to be
going to the revenge of Anne-Mie with the good sword."

And Schimmel whinnied a*secondj:ime.

And Magtelt sought Sir Halewyn everywhere as she went
through the forest. And she listened well for the sound of
his horse, and looked to see if he were nowhere coming.

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

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

And she wound her horn.

XXIX. Of the crow and, the sparrow, of the hound, the horse
and the seven echoes.

When she reached the middle part of the forest, she saw
through the thick snowflakes Sir Halewyn coming towards

The Miserable had that day on his body a fine dress of
blue cloth, on which was broidered in two colours his ugly
arms. Round his waist he had a fair belt studded with
lumps of gold, and at his belt the golden sickle, and over his
dress a fair opperst-kleed of corn-coloured cloth-of-scarlet.

Riding on his roan horse he came up to Magtelt, and she
saw that he was handsome.

Before his horse, barking and making a great noise, ran
a hound like a wolf, which, on seeing Schimmel, leapt at him
and bit him. But Schimmel, with a great kick which he
let fly, set him dancing a sorry dance, and singing a pitiful
song over his broken paw.

" Ah," thought the maid, " God grant, brave Schimmel,
that I may do better for the master than thou hast done for
the dog."


Flemish Legends

And the Miserable came to her :

" Salutation," he said, " fair maid with clear brown eyes."

" Salutation," she said, " Siewert Halewyn the In-

But the Miserable : " What brings thee," he said, " into
my lands ? "

" My heart," said Magtelt, " bade me come, I wished
greatly to see thee, and am content now that I can look at
thee face to face."

" So," said he, " have done and shall do all virgins, even
more beautiful than thou art."

While they were talking together the wounded hound
made a rush at the horse and hung on to Halewyn' s opperst-
kleed as if he would drag him down to the ground.

Having done this, he went off and sat down in the snow
beside the road, and there lifting up his muzzle howled most

" See," said he, " my hound crying out to death. Hast
no fear, maid ? "

" I go," she said, " in God's keeping."

Having moved forward a little way, talking and riding
together, they saw in the air above their heads, a crow of
great size, on whose neck was perched an angry little sparrow,
pecking him, clutching him, pulling out his feathers and
piping furiously. Wounded, torn open, flying this way and
that, right, left, upward, downward, banging against the
trees blindly, and croaking with pain, this crow at length
fell dead, with his eyes pecked out, across Halewyn's saddle.
Having looked at it a moment, he tossed it aside into the
road ; while the sparrow flew off to a bough, and there,
shaking out his feathers merrily, fell a-piping at the top of
his voice in celebration of his victory.

" Ah," said Magtelt, laughing to the sparrow, " thou art
of noble blood, little bird ; come hither, I will find thee a
fair cage and give thee thy fill of wheat, millet, hemp, and

Sir Halewyn

But Halewyn became mightily angry : " Common little
insolent ! " he cried, " would that I had thee in a snare !
Shouldst not then sing for long thy victory over this noble

None the less the sparrow went on singing without a
break, and in this wise seemed to mock at Halewyn, who
said to Magtelt :

" Dost dare to applaud and give heart to this little animal,
knowing that my shield bears on it the crow of my glorious
ancestor Dirk ! Knowest thou not that like him thou hast
but little longer to sing ? "

" I," she said, " shall sing as long as it pleases God, my

" There is for thee," said he, " no other master than I,
for here I rule alone." Suddenly he turned very cold, for
the heart of Anne-Mie, though it still beat, was become like
ice in his breast. So, thinking that this heart was about to
dry up, he said to Magtelt : " Thou comest in good season,
fair virgin."

" Whom God leads," said she, " comes always in good

" But," he said, " who art thou, riding in my land, singing
and winding the horn, who bringest hither such insolent talk ? "

" I," said she, " am the Lady Magtelt, daughter of Roel
le Preux, Lord of Heurne."

" And," said he, " art thou not chilled, riding thus in the
snow ? "

" None," she said, " feels the cold in the race of the Lords
of Heurne."

" And," said he, " hast thou no fear, here at my side and
on my own land, where no one dares to set foot ? "

" None," she said, " knows of fear in the race of the
Lords of Heurne."

" Thou art," said he, " a brave maid."

" I," she said, " am daughter of Roel le Preux, Lord of

Flemish Legends

He answered nothing to that, and they went on a while
without speaking.

Suddenly he said, lifting his head arrogantly : " Am I
not truly the Invincible, the Beautiful, the Strong ? Shall
I not be so always ? Yes, for all things come to my aid in
the hour of victory. In former times I must needs sing, in
cold, snow, wind, and darkness, to call virgins to me, but
now the most proud, noble, and beautiful of maids comes
hither in broad day without song to call her : sure sign of
growing power. Who is my equal ? None, save God. He
has the heavens and I the earth, and over all living things
triumph and mastery. Let come what may, armies, light-
ning, thunder, tempest ; who can stand but I ? "

" I ! " answered to his hideous blasphemy seven voices
speaking together.

Those voices were the echo of the Seven Giants, which
sent back every sound seven times over with great force
and volume.

But the Miserable : " Hark ! " said he, " my Lord Echo
dares to mock the Invincible."

And he burst our laughing.

But the echo burst out laughing likewise, and laughed
loud, long, and terribly.

And Halewyn appeared well pleased at the noise, and
went on laughing, with the seven echoes after him.

And it seemed to Magtelt as it were a thousand men
hidden in the forest.

And meanwhile the hound had taken fright and howled
so desperately that it seemed to Magtelt as it were a thousand
hounds in the forest crying out to death.

The Miserable's horse had taken fright also, and was so
terrified at his master's laughter, the dog's howls, and his
own neighing, all ringing out together, that he plunged,
reared, stood up on his hind legs like a man, laid back his
ears with fear, and would, without doubt, have thrown
Halewyn from his back, if, driving him onward with his

Sir Halewyn

spurs, he had not made him pass by force the place of the
seven echoes.

But Schimmel had not moved at all, and this strangely
enough, for he was a young horse, apt to be alarmed.

When the noise was over they rode on their way, speaking
few words together as they rode.

And together they came to the Gallows-field.

XXX. How Magtelt came to the Gallows-field.

There Magtelt saw the sixteen virgins hanging, and amongst
them Anne-Mie, and all were covered over with snow.

Halewyn's horse began again to rear, plunge, and lay
back his ears as a sign of fear ; but Schimmel neighed, and
pawed the ground proudly with his hoof.

And Halewyn said to Magtelt : " Thou hast there an
unfaithful friend, who can neigh happily at the hour of thy

But Magtelt answered nothing, and looking steadfastly
at those poor virgins prayed to the very strong God to help
her in their revenge.

Meanwhile the Miserable alighted from his horse, and
taking the golden sickle in his hand came towards Magtelt.

" It is," he said, " the hour of thy death. Get down,
therefore, as I have done."

And in his impatience he would have lifted her from
Schimmel's back.

But Magtelt :

" Leave me," she said, " to get down by myself ; if I
must die 'twill be without weeping."

" Thou art a fine girl," said he.

And she, having dismounted from her horse, said : " My
lord, before thou strikest, doff thine opperst-kleed of the
colour of corn, for the blood of virgins gushes fiercely, and
if mine should stain thee I should be grieved."

But before the opperst-kleed was off his shoulders, his
head fell to the ground at his feet.

9 1

Flemish Legends

And Magtelt, looking at the body, said : " He strode
confidently, thinking himself invincible ; but when the beast
goes with assurance the hunter follows more easily."

And she crossed herself.

XXXI. Of the sixteen deaths and of the Prince of the Stones.

Suddenly the head spoke, saying : " Go thou to the end
of the road, and sound my horn aloud, so that my friends
may hear."

But Magtelt :

" To the end of the road will I not go ; thine horn will
I not sound ; murderer's counsel will I not follow."

" Ah," said the head, " if thou art not the Virgin without
pity, join me to my body, and with the heart that is in my
breast anoint my red wound."

But Magtelt :

" I am the Virgin without pity ; to thy body will I not
join thee, and with the heart that is in thy breast will I not
anoint thy red wound."

" Maid," said the head, weeping and speaking with
great terror, " maid, quickly, quickly, make on my body
the sign of the cross, and carry me into my castle, for he is

While the head was speaking, suddenly came out of the
wood the Prince of the Stones, and he came and seated him-
.self on the body of the Miserable, and taking in his hands
the head : " Salutation," he said, " to the Ill-favoured one ;
art thou now content ? What of thy triumphant bearing,
my lord the Invincible ? She whom thou calledst not came
without a song : the virgin without fear, in whose hands is
death. But thou must sing once again thy sweet song, the
song to call virgins."

" Ah," said the head, " make me not sing, Lord Prince
of the Stones, for I know well enough that at the end there
is great suffering."

" Sing," said the Prince of the Stones, " sing, coward that


Sir Halewyn

hast never wept to do evil, and now weepest at the time of
punishment : sing, Miserable."

" Ah," said the head, " have pity, Lord."

" Sing," said the Prince of the Stones, " sing, 'tis the
hour of God."

" My lord Prince," said the head, " be not so hard in my
evil hour."

" Sing, Miserable," said the Prince of the Stones, " sing,
'tis the hour of the reckoning."

" Ah," said the head, weeping, " I will sing, since you
are my master."

And the head sang the faery song.

And suddenly there spread abroad in the air a smell of
cinnamon, frankincense, and sweet marjoram.

And the sixteen virgins, hearing the song, came down
from the gallows and drew near to the body of Halewyn.

And Magtelt, crossing herself, watched them pass, but
felt no fear.

And the first virgin, who was the daughter of the poor
simpleton, Claes the Dog-beater, took the golden sickle, and
cutting into the breast of the Miserable below the left nipple
drew out a great ruby, and put this on her wound, where it
melted into rich red blood in her breast.

And the head let a great pitiful cry of pain.

" So," said the Prince of the Stones, " did the poor
virgins cry out when thou madest them pass from life unto
death ; sixteen times hast thou brought death about, sixteen
times shalt thou die, besides the death thou hast suffered
already. The cry is the cry of the body when the soul leaves
it ; sixteen times hast thou drawn this cry from other bodies,
sixteen times shall cry out thine own ; sing, Miserable, to
call the virgins to the reckoning."

And the head sang again the faery song, while the first virgin
walked away silently towards the wood like a living person.

And the second virgin came to the body of the Miserable
and did to it as the first had done.


Flemish Legends

And she also walked away into the wood like a living

So did each of the sixteen virgins, and for each of them
a ruby was changed into good red blood.

And sixteen times the head sang the faery song, and
sixteen times gave the death-cry.

And one by one all the virgins went away into the depth
of the wood.

And the last of all, who was Anne-Mie, came to Magtelt,
and kissing her right hand wherein she had held the sword :
" Blessed be thou," she said, " who earnest without fear, and,
delivering us from the spell, leadest us into paradise."

" Ah," said Magtelt, " must thou go so far away, Anne-
Mie ? "

But Anne-Mie, without hearing her, passed like the others
into the depth of the wood, walking silently over the snow
like a living person.

While the head was weeping and uttering bitter plaints,
came out from the forest the child of nine years old, whom
the Miserable had killed first of all. Still wearing her shroud
she approached and fell at the feet of the mannikin Prince
of the Stones.

" Ah," she said, kissing the head tenderly, stroking it,
caressing it, and wiping away its tears, " poor Miserable, I
will pray for thee to the very good God, who readily hears
the prayers of children."

And the girl prayed in this wise :

" Dear Lord, see how much he is suffering ! Is it not
payment enough that he should die sixteen times ? Ah,
Lord, sweet Lord, and you, Madam Mary, who are so kind,
deign to hear me and grant him forgiveness."

But the mannikin, starting up, pushed the child away
and said harshly : " This head is mine, thy prayers avail
nothing ; be off, little ragamuffin, go back whence thou came."

And the child went away like the other maids into the
depth of the wood.


Sir Halewyn

Then he thrust his hand into the breast of the Miserable
and pulled out a heart of stone : then, in his rasping voice,
which hissed like a viper and scraped like a thousand pebbles
under the iron sole of an armed man, he said : " Ambitious
heart, heart of stone, thou wast in thy lifetime cruel and a
coward ; thou couldst not be content with such ample gifts
as God in His bounty had given thee, thou hadst no desire
towards goodness, courage, or just dealing, but towards gold,
power, and vain honours ; thou hadst no love for anything,
neither father, mother, brother, nor sister ; and so, to get
more power and higher jurisdiction, thou killedst the people
of the land of Flanders, without shame : and so also thou
didst set thyself to hurt the weak, sucking thy life from their
life, and thy blood from their blood. So have done and so
shall always do this reptile order of ambitious ugly men.
Blessed be God, who, by the hands of this frail and winsome
maid, has cut off thine head from thy neck and taken thee
from the world."

As he spoke he had thrown the heart down into the snow,
and trampling over it with great despite, kicking it with his
toe like a vile thing, and laughing bitterly, he spoke again
in his rasping voice :

" Stone thou art, stone shalt thou be a thousand years,
but a live stone, a suffering stone. And when men come
and carve thee, cleave thee, grind thee to powder, thou shalt
endure it all without being able to cry out. Ambitious heart,
heart of stone, suffer and bleed, my cousin.

" Thou hast starved poor folk, so shalt thou starve a
thousand years ; thou hast brought cold into their homes,
thou shalt freeze in like manner. Ambitious heart, heart of
stone, suffer and bleed, my cousin.

" Thou shalt be a hearth-stone and burn with the heat ;
paving-stone, and let men walk over thee ; stone of a church,
and bear upon thee all the weight of the building ; and thou
shalt suffer every evil, pain, and anguish. Ambitious heart,
heart of stone, suffer and endure, my cousin."


Flemish Legends

Having said this the Prince of the Stones, driving before
him with his foot the Miserable's heart, disappeared among
the trees of the forest.

Then Magtelt looked at the head, and saw that its eyes
were open wide. She took it up and washed it with snow,
then, carrying it with her, rode away on Schimmel, leaving
near the body Halewyn's horse and hound, the one moaning
softly, the other watching it with sorrowful wonderment.

As she took up the head, the hound growled, but did not
dare touch her.

And while she rode away, horse and hound stayed by the
body, downcast and sad, and covered with the snow which
fell without ceasing.

And they seemed to be guarding their master.

XXXII. How father, mother, and sister sought everywhere
their son and brother, and could not find him.

Singing and winding her horn rides the noble maid

And in her heart is joy, at the thought that Anne-Mie,
the fifteen virgins, and Toon the Silent are avenged.

And her hand holds fast beneath her keirle the good sword
and the head of Halewyn.

And Schimmel trots quickly, eager to be back in his

While she was riding she saw, through the thick snow
falling, an old man coming towards her on a black horse.

And the old man said :

" Beautiful maid, riding so fast, hast seen my son Halewyn?"

And Magtelt :

" I left thy son Halewyn well placed, taking his diversion
in the snow with sixteen maidens."

And the old man rode on.

When she had gone farther she saw, through the thick
snow falling, a young and rosy-cheeked damosel coming
towards her on a white palfrey.

Sir Halewyn

And the damosel said :

" Beautiful maid, riding so fast, hast seen my brother
Halewyn ? "

But Magtelt :

" Go farther, to the Gallows-field, where thou shalt see
thy brother in like guise to the sixteen maidens."

And the damosel rode on.

Farther still on her way, Magtelt saw, through the thick
snow falling, a young man of haughty and stiff-necked
countenance coming towards her on a roan charger.

And the young man said :

" Beautiful maid, riding so fast, hast seen my brother
Halewyn ? "

But Magtelt :

" Thy brother is a fair lord, so fair that round him sixteen
maidens stand sentinel, unwilling to let him go."

And the young man rode on.

After travelling on her way still farther, she saw, through
the thick snow falling, an old woman, high-coloured and of
robust seeming, despite her great age, coming towards her.

And the old woman said :

" Beautiful maid, riding so fast, hast seen my son Hale-
wyn ? "

But Magtelt :

" Thy son Siewert Halewyn is dead ; see, here is his head
beneath my keirle, and his blood running thick on my dress."

And the old woman cried out :

" If thou had spoken these words earlier thou shouldst
not have ridden so far."

But Magtelt :

" Thou art fortunate, old woman, in that I have left
thee thine own body and not slain thee as I have thy son."

And the old dame took fright and made off.

And night fell.


Flemish Legends

XXXIII. Of the feast in the castle of Heurne, and of the head
upon the table.

Schimmel trotted quickly, and soon Magtelt reached her
father's castle and there sounded the horn.

Josse van Ryhove, who was gate-keeper that night, was
filled with amazement at the sight of her. Then he cried
out : " Thanks be to God, 'tis our damosel come home

And all the household ran to the gate crying out likewise
with great noise and much shouting : " Our damosel is come

Magtelt, going into the great hall, went to Sir Roel and
knelt before him :

" My lord father," she said, " here is the head of Siewert

Sir Roel, taking the head in his hands and looking at it
well, was so overcome with joy that he wept for the first
time since the eyes were in his head.

And the Silent, rising up, came to Magtelt, kissed her
right hand wherewith she had held the sword, and wept
likewise, saying : " Thanks be to thee who hast brought
about the reckoning."

The lady Gonde was like a woman drunk with joy, and
could not find her tongue. At last, bursting into sobs, melt-
ing into tears, and embracing Magtelt eagerly :

" Ah, ah," she cried out, " kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,
little one ! She has slain the Miserable, the sweet maid ;
the nightingale has vanquished the falcon ! My child is
come home again, home again my child. Noel ! Thanks
be to God who loves aged mothers and will not have them
robbed of their children. Noel ! See, Magtelt the beautiful,
Magtelt the singing-bird, Magtelt the joyous, Magtelt the
bright of heart, Magtelt the glorious, Magtelt the victorious,
Magtelt my daughter, my child, my all, Noel ! "

And Magtelt smiled at her, caressing her and stroking her
hands gently.

Sir Halewyn

And the lady Gonde, weeping freely, let her do, without

" Ah," said Sir Roel, " I never saw my wife before in
such festival mood." Then suddenly he cried out :

" Festival," quoth he, " this should be a day of festival,
the great feast of the house of Heurne ! "

And he threw open the door to call his pages, grooms,
men-at-arms, and all the household.

But they all held back, not daring to enter.

" Ho ! " cried he, in his great joyous voice, " where are
cooks and kitchen-maids ? Where are cauldrons, pots, and
frying-pans ? Where are barrels, kegs, flagons and bottles,
tankards, mugs, and goblets ? Where is dauwaert simple
and double ? Where is old wine and new wine ? Where
are hams and sausages, whales' tongues, and loins of beef,
meat of the air, meat of the waters, and meat of the fields ?
Bring in everything there is and set it on the table, for this
must be a feast-day in this house, feast for an emperor, a
king, a prince ; for " and so saying he held up the Miser-
able's head by the hair " our beloved maid has slain with
her own hand the lord Siewert Halewyn."

Hearing this they all cried out with a roar like thunder :

" Praise be to God ! Noel to our damosel ! "

" Go then," said Sir Roel, " and do as I have bid."

And when the great feast was served the head was put
in the middle of the table.

On the morrow there was let cry war in the seigneury of
Heurne. And Sir Roel went with a goodly force of men to
attack by arms the castle of the Miserable, whereof all the
relatives, friends, and followers were either hanged or slain.

And My Lord the Count gave to the family of Heurne,
the goods, titles and territories of Halewyn, excepting only
the ugly shield, and theirs they remain to this day.




/. Of Smetse , bis belly, and his forge.

SMETSE SMEE lived in the good town of Ghent, on the Quai

aux Oignons, beside the fair River Lys.

He was well skilled in his trade, rich in bodily fat, and
with so jolly a countenance that the most melancholy of men
were cheered and took heart for no more than the sight of
him in his smithy, trotting about on his short legs, head up
and belly forward, seeing to everything.

When work was in full swing in his shop, Smetse, listening
to the busy sounds round the fire, would say, with his hands
clasped across his stomach, quietly and happily : " By Arte-
velde ! what are drums, cymbals, fifes, viols, and bagpipes
worth ? For heavenly music give me my sledges beating,
my anvils ringing, my bellows roaring, my good workmen
singing and hammering."

Then, speaking to them all : " Courage," he would say,
" my children ! Who works well from daybreak drinks the
better for it at vespers. Whose is that feeble arm down
there, tapping with his hammer so gently ? Does he think
he is cracking eggs, the faint-heart ? To those bars, Dolf,
and plunge them in the water. To that breastplate, Pier,
beat it out for us fine and true : iron well beaten is proof
against bullets. To that plough-share, Flipke, and good
work to it, too : from the plough comes the world's bread.
To the door, Toon, here comes the raw-boned nag of Don
Sancio d'Avila, the knight with the sour countenance, brought
hither by his raw-boned groom, who is for having him shod,
no doubt : let . him pay double for his Spanish haughtiness
and his harshness to poor folk ! "

So went Smetse about his smithy, singing mostly, and
whistling when he was not singing. And for the rest getting
much honest gain, profiting in health, and, at vespers, drink-
ing bruinbier with a will in the inn of Pensaert.


Flemish Legends

II. How Slimbroek the Red put out the fire in Smetse' s forge.

By and by there came to the Quai aux Oignons a certain
Adriaen Slimbroek, who set up, with the licence of the guild,

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