Puslapio vaizdai



Author of “ Pigs is Pigs,” etc.


HE great. white mules went by with to catch every word of the voice. Never

the jingling of many bells and the was there such a master. merry cracking of whips, and the little “See, now," said the little blind ass, gray ass of the 'dobe mill, treading his in- "another would beat me with clubs; but terminable round, pricked up his long ears my master has only a whip with which he and for a moment stepped the faster; but urges me on when I stop, lest, perchance, as his course around the clay mill led him some great cart laden with oil crash into around the circle to the left, he dropped me to my harm. He is a good man, and back into his slowly patient pace.

skilful, for never has he led me into harm's “The white mules have turned down a way. He picks the part of the road that road to the right," said the little gray ass is free from stones and ruts that would to himself. “But what odds? Had we trip a poor blind ass.” been taking the same road, I should soon Then he would tread on, led by the rope have been left behind. Blessed be Mary! that was attached to the boom. that such as I may even for a moment In three years the little blind ass had tread beside the great white mules." seen many pleasant things. Now and then

The little gray ass was blind, and he a party of laughing youths and maidens was old, for in the clay mill there is no would pass along the road that lay beside advantage in eyes that can see. For three the clay mill, and the little gray ass would years he had been walking the well-beaten raise his long ears. path around the clay mill, led by a rope "Good, then!” he would say to himattached to a boom that always preceded self. “We have come to a market-town, him, and dragging the heavy boom that upon a market-day. It is a pretty sight." turned the mill. At one point of the track Sometimes an old woman would pass, a huge olive-tree threw a shadow. Some- carrying a basket of garlic. times, when the days were hot, Pedro al- "One thing after another, but always lowed the little blind ass to rest in the a pleasant variation,” the little blind ass shade of the olive-tree.

would then say as he sniffed the odor. "Blessed be the kind master!" the little “We have come to the farm-land again." blind ass said to himself then. “The road Thus round and round he walked, alis long, but there are many olive-trees, and ways in the same little beaten circle of sooner or later he allows me to rest under path, and at night he rested always in the one of them. Truly man is kind, for, same stall in the same little 'dobe stable. blind as I am, how should I get my food At first Pedro had to lead him to the stall, had not my master taken pity on me? but in time the little blind ass learned the Every night he finds me a safe place in path to the stall himself, and when the which to rest, every day he sees me well traces were cast loose and the halter unfed, and in return he asks nothing at all. tied, off he would go to his stall. For three good years now I have had "Now, blessed be mankind," he would naught to do but live well and travel from say, "for making easy the path of all blind place to place, seeing the country."

asses ! The world moves. In my seeing When his master spoke to him, the little days the stables were of a thousand kinds, blind ass would turn his long ears quickly set in a thousand ways, fit to worry the wisest, but now each is as like all the little running step down that hill. Then others as one oat is like another. Truly, Pedro would laugh and say: "Whoa! man eases the way for blind asses. At the Don't run away from us, sweetheart!” end of each day's travel there is a stable, That always pleased the little gray ass. and each stable like unto the others, and For three years the little gray ass plodthe path from the road to each stable ded round the narrow circle of the clay alike, even to the post midway, against mill, seeing the world on his travels, and which a creature may rub his sides." at the end of three years his heart was

For a week or more, at the first, the younger than at the beginning; but as for little blind ass had worried regarding one Pedro, his master, it was another matter. point- the end of the journey. For, like At the beginning of the three years he was all the world, the little blind ass wor- a boy, with no heart at all; but at the end shiped the god Terminus, as all thinking he was a man. At the end of three years creatures do, offering him incense of he had soft hairs on his upper lip, and worry in one form or another. Only his- when he set his hat jauntily on one side of torians and scientists—who are only the his head, it was no longer from boyish joy, historians of matter and mixtures of mat- but because 'Rita was coming down the ter-bother much about beginnings, but road that passed the clay mill. every wise man desires to know “how this That was a bad business, that about thing is going to end.” But as his jour- 'Rita. She was no sort of girl at all for ney stretched out day after day and year an honest lad like Pedro. The yellowafter year, and seemed likely to stretch skinned loafers before the wine-shop, out years and years more, the end seemed smoking their cigarettes, spoke to her to matter less to the little blind ass.

boldly when she passed. “No doubt my master knows," he said "Hello, 'Rita!" they said, and when to himself; "and if he knows, he has no she had passed by they shrugged their cause to worry, so why should I?. And if shoulders and grinned.

shoulders and grinned. Why, her manhe does not know, why should I bother tilla alone cost - But what did the little about it at all, who know so much less blind ass know about mantillas? than he ? Should he, at the end of the He only knew when 'Rita passed the journey, decide to turn back, what more clay mill. Her lips were redder than pleasant than to revisit the scenes I have nature permits lips to be,- for the peace passed? And should he decide to con-. of mankind, I suppose, -and her eyes tinue farther, what more pleasant than to sparkled, and she wore a rose in her black see new scenes?"

hair for coquetry; but none of these things So, like a wise little blind ass, he wor- were known to the little blind ass. Only ried no more, and let the god Terminus two things he did know. When he heard look out for himself.

her light step on the road and her soft But a three-years' journey is not all voice as she spoke with Pedro, the little down-hill. Often, every day, the workmen blind ass stood still. dumped more clay into the clay mill. “Ah,” he would say to himself, "now Then, as the little blind ass felt the new we have got somewhere at last! Now we weight, he tugged the harder at the traces. are arrived at the court, or at least at the

“Here we have a pretty hill," he would estate of a great man; for the ladies are say to himself, “and the good saints be light of foot and soft of voice. A creature thanked for hills; for what would a road may rest here a while and Alap the fies be like that was all as level as a floor? from his sides like an aristocrat." At the tops of the hills are the cool Then his gray nostrils would twitch breezes."

delightedly. Many maids passed the clay So he would tug away at the traces until mill from one month to another; some the clay worked out at the bottom of the bore garlic, and some bore wine in skins, mill and the pull on the traces became and some bore gleanings of the wheat, easier.

and of each there was its own particular “As I said,” he would say to himself, odor, and the little blind ass would cock "the breeze is much finer here on the hill- his ears wisely. top, and now for down the other side !" "We are passing the garden, the vine

And sometimes he would break into a yard, the fields of wheat,” he would say

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]


to himself. “This is a fine country we fields of grain, and hillsides rich with are passing through."

ruddy grapes, and pleasant villages, -- and But when 'Rita passed he held his ears every week the country became more beaumost erect, and his nostrils swelled to tiful in the blind eyes of the little gray their widest, and he turned his head as far ass; for the fields of flowers became more her way as the leading halter would al- and more plentiful. low ; for she had upon her toilet-table in Which is only saying that 'Rita stopped the old stone house back of the bodega a more and more often to chat with Pedro. vial of perfume sent from Seville itself by “Good word!” said the little blind ass. that mythical uncle of hers.

“No wonder my master has driven me so "At last,” the little blind ass of the clay far, for such a land of blossoms was well mill would say, "we have reached the worth seeking. It is a pleasure to wander pleasant valley of flowers. Fine country through such a land." there to the right! Valley-lilies, roses - “What do you think?" said the yellow whiff! Sniff! Um! Fine place for a loafers before the wine-shop. “Pedro is young fellow such as I was once to kick going to marry ’Rita!" up his heels and nibble blossoms."

"Fool!” they said. But there was one But though he stretched out his head, – José — who said nothing. He slipped Pedro never unharnessed him, and the lit- away from his fellows and glided up the tle gray ass went on contentedly when straight road until he saw 'Rita, one hand Rita, leaving a whiff of the perfume be- on the great olive-tree, talking with Pedro, hind, passed on her way.

while the little blind ass rested in the “All for the best!" said the little blind shade of the tree, very happy and very ass of the clay mill. “I 'm past the age content. As José crept closer, the little for nibbling blossoms. Give me a rich,

Give me a rich, blind traveler closed one eye and then the tough thistle any day. And as for this- other. He was awakened by the angry tles, hay is preferable. Blessed be St. voices of José and his master. He heard, Nebuchadnezzar !"

too, the weeping of 'Rita. He heard the So day after day he walked around the voices grow louder, and a woman's shriek clay-mill path, seeing far lands, -seeing of anger, dying into agony and silence,



and the sound of men's voices panting in olive-tree to one side and the sunlight fell a struggle, and a gasp, and the hurried on his fanks. Then he leaned forward noise of a pair of feet running away down and put his weight against the yoke, and the road.

patiently moved on around the beaten path For minutes more the little blind ass of that surrounded the clay mill. the 'dobe mill stood awaiting the word of "Dallying with the flowers is well command from his master. He could still enough,” he said to himself, “and I would scent the blossom fields close at hand. willingly stand all day; but wisdom comes From time to time he raised his long ears. with years, and I must get on my way, or No doubt his master had gone to pick I shall not reach the stable, with its sweet blossoms.

hay, by sunset." He stood until the sun, moving west- And around and around the beaten path ward, carried the shadow of the great trudged the little blind ass of the clay mill.

[graphic][merged small]





Author of “The Greatness and Decline of Rome," etc.

"HE blackest and most tragic period pass into history as the worst period of the

[ocr errors]

the death of Germanicus and the terrible time that the famous lex de majestate? scandal of the suit against Piso. It was to (on high treason), which had not been applied under Augustus, came to be fre- What in reality was the situation of quently invoked, and through its operation Tiberius after the death of Germanicus? atrocious accusations, scandalous trials, and We must grasp it well if we wish to unfrightful condemnations were multiplied derstand not only the cruelty of the accuin Rome, to the terror of all. Many com- sations brought under the law of high treamitted suicide in despair, and illustrious son, but also the whole family policy folfamilies were given over to ruin and in- lowed by the second emperor. It was he famy.

1 There was in the Roman legal system no public prose- quently oratory, an art much cultivated by the Romans, cutor and virtually no police. Every Roman citizen was triumphed over righteousness. In the earlier period the supposed to watch over the laws and see that they were ground on which charges were usually brought was malnot infringed. On his retirement from office, any gov- versation ; in the time of the empire they were also freernor or magistrate ran the risk of mpeached by quently brought under the above-mentioned law de majessome young aspirant to political honors, and not infre- tate. It has been said that this common act of accusation, years of his rule, despite all the efforts he whole history of the first empire, - were had put forth to govern well. His soliciunleashed when Tiberius was exalted to tude about maintaining a certain order the imperial dignity.

who had to bear the burden of the whole Posterity still holds Tiberius to account state, of the finances, of the supplies, of for these tragedies; his cruel and suspi- the army, of the home and foreign policies; cious tyranny is made responsible for these his was the will that propelled, and the accusations, for the suits which followed, mind that regulated, all. To him every and for the cruel condemnations in which portion of the empire and every social they ended. It is said that every free mind class had recourse, and it was to him that which still remembered ancient Roman they looked for redress for every wrong or liberty gave him umbrage and caused him inconvenience or danger. It was to him distress, and that he could suffer to have that the legions looked for their regular about him only slaves and hired assassins. stipend, the common people of Rome for But how far this is from the truth! How abundant grain, the senate for the preserpoorly the superficial judgment of poster- vation of boundaries and of the internal ity has understood the terrible tragedy of order; the provinces looked to him for the reign of Tiberius! We always forget justice, and the sovereign allies or vassals that Tiberius was the next Roman em- for the solution of all internal difficulties peror after Augustus; the first, that is, in which they became involved. These who had to bear the weight of the immense responsibilities were so numerous and so charge created by its founder, but without great that Tiberius, like Augustus, atthe immense prestige and respect which tempted to induce the senate to aid him by Augustus had derived from the extraor- assuming its share, according to the andinary good fortune of his life, from the cient constitution; but it was in vain, for critical moment in which he had taken the senate sought to shield itself, and alover the government, from the general ways left to him the heavier portion. opinion that he had ended the civil wars, Is it conceivable that a man could have brought peace back to an empire in travail, discharged so many responsibilities in and saved Rome from the imminent ruin times when the traditions of the governwith which Egypt and Cleopatra had ment were only beginning to take form if threatened it. For these reasons, while he had not possessed a commanding perAugustus lived, the envy, jealousy, rivalry, sonal authority, if he had not been the and hatred of the new authority were held object of profound and general respect? in check in his presence; but they were Augustus would not have been able to ever smoldering in the Roman aristocracy, govern so great an empire for more than which considered itself robbed of a part of forty years with such slight means had its privileges, and always felt itself humili- it not been for the fact, fortunate alike ated by this same authority, even when it for himself and for the state, that he did was necessary to submit to it in cases of enjoy this profound, sincere, and general supreme political necessity. But all this admiration. Tiberius, on the other hand, envy, all these jealousies, all these rival- who was already decidedly unpopular ries, -I have said it before, but it is well when he came into power, had seen this to repeat it, since the point is of capital unpopularity increase during the first six importance for the understanding of the

within the state was described as haughti

the birthright of the Roman citizen, the greatly esteemed palladium of Roman freedom, became the most convenient instrument of despotism. Since he who could bring a criminal to justice received a fourth of his possessions and estates, and since it brought the accuser into prominence,

delation was recklessly indulged in by the unscrupulous, both for the sake of gain and as a means of venting personal spite. The vice lay in the Roman system, and was not the invention of Tiberius. He could hardly have done away with it without overthrowing the whole Roman procedure.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »