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Hero Tales

Page: 57

[1]The original of this tale is found in "The Song of the Lorrainers," a famous poem written by Jehan de Flagy, a minstrel of the twelfth century. In the "Story of Roland" it is supposed to have been related at the court of Charlemagne by a minstrel of Lorraine.

[2]The vair and the gray,—furs used for garments, and in heraldry. Vair is the skin of the squirrel, and was arranged in shields of blue and white alternating.

OGIER THE DANE AND THE FAIRIES

When Ogier the Dane was but a babe in his mother's arms, there was heard one day, in his father's castle, the sweetest music that mortals ever listened to. Nobody knew whence the bewitching sounds came; for they seemed to be now here, now there: yet every one was charmed with the delightful melody, and declared that only angels could make music so heavenly. Then suddenly there came into the chamber where Ogier lay six fairies, whose beauty was so wonderful and awful, that none but a babe might gaze upon them without fear. And each of the lovely creatures bore in her hands a garland of the rarest flowers, and rich gifts of gold and gems. And the first fairy took the child in her arms, and kissed him, and said,—

"Better than kingly crown, or lands, or rich heritage, fair babe, I give thee a brave, strong heart. Be fearless as the eagle, and bold as the lion; be the bravest knight among men."

Then the second fairy took the child, and dandled him fondly on her knees, and looked long and lovingly into his clear gray eyes.

"What is genius without opportunity?" said she. "What is a brave heart without the ability to do brave deeds? I give to thee many an opportunity for manly action."

The third fairy laid the dimpled hands of the babe in her own white palm, and stroked softly his golden hair.

"Strong-hearted boy, for whom so many noble deeds are waiting, I, too, will give thee a boon. My gift is skill and strength such as shall never fail thee in fight, nor allow thee to be beaten by a foe. Success to thee, fair Ogier!"

The fourth fairy touched tenderly the mouth and the eyes and the noble brow of the babe.

"Be fair of speech," said she, "be noble in action, be courteous, be kind: these are the gifts I bring thee. For what will a strong heart, or a bold undertaking, or success in every enterprise, avail, unless one has the respect and the love of one's fellow-men?"

Then the fifth fairy came forward, and clasped Ogier in her arms, and held him a long time quietly, without speaking a word. At last she said,—

"The gifts which my sisters have given thee will scarcely bring thee happiness; for, while they add to thy honor, they may make thee dangerous to others. They may lead thee into the practice of selfishness and base acts of tyranny. That man is little to be envied who loves not his fellow-men. The boon, therefore, that I bring thee is the power and the will to esteem others as frail mortals equally deserving with thyself."


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