Fair is the light on the castle wall—
(Heigh-ho, for the road!)
Merry the wassail in hearth-warm hall—
(Blither the call of the road!)
When the moonlight silvers the sleeping plain,
And the wind is calling to heart and brain,
And the blood beats quick and the soul is fain
Ah, follow the open road!
Low croons the mother while children sleep—
(Heigh-ho, for the road!)
And firelight shadows are warm and deep—
(Dearer the call of the road!)
Where the red fox runs and the merlin sings,
And the hedge is alive with the whir of wings,
And the wise earth whispers of nameless things—
Ah, follow the open road!
Safe is the nook we have made our own—
(Heigh-ho, for the road!)
Dear the comrades our hearts have known—
(Hark to the call of the road!)
Trumpets are calling and torches flare,
And a man must do, and a man must dare,—
Whether to victory or despair,—
Come, follow the open road!
THE WINGS OF THE DRAGON
HOW PADRAIG MADE IRISH WIT A JOURNEYMAN TO FLORENTINE GENIUS
ADRAIG was having his first view of a foreign
country. England, to be sure, was
somewhat strange to a boy who had never
before been outside Ireland. Brother Basil,
who had taught him all that he knew of
writing, reading, painting and other arts, had come
to England on business for the Irish Abbeys and
was going no further. Padraig felt that he wanted
to see more of the world.
Perhaps the wise monk felt that unless his pupil had the
chance now to wander and come back, he would run away and
never return at all; at any rate he told the youth that this
would be a good time to make the pilgrimage to Rome if he
could. There was peace in Lombardy for the moment, and the
Pope, driven out more than once by the warring Emperor of
Germany, was now in the Vatican, again.
A fishing-boat, slipping over to Calais in the light of a windy
dawn, carried one passenger, a red-headed boy in a hooded
cloak of rough black frieze. Padraig's own feet bore him
 from town to town until now, in a French city, he stood in
the doorway of a gray and stately church alive with pictures.
On a scaffold slung up behind the altar a painter sat working
on a new altar-piece.
This was something which Padraig had never seen. He had
painted pictures himself on parchment, and drawn designs in
color for the craftsmen, but a wall-painting so full of life and
color that it looked like a live angel come down from the
skies, he had never seen made by any man.
It was in three parts, filling three arches, the middle one
larger than the others. In the center was the beautiful
brooding Mother with the Child in her arms, and her dull red mantle
seemed to lift and float like a sunset cloud. In the narrower
spaces were figures of saints. One, already finished, was an
old man in the dress of a hermit, with a hind; the graceful
creature nestled its head against him. An arrow transfixed his
knee, and Padraig knew that this was Saint Giles, patron saint
of cripples. The last of the three, on which the artist was
now working, was Saint Margaret and the dragon. The
dragon was writhing away, with a dreadful look of rage and
fear, before the cross in the hands of the brave, beautiful
young girl. The sun crept through a loophole window and
made the pictures, at the end of the long vista of gray arches,
as real as living beings.
Even at this distance, nevertheless, the trained eye of
Padraig detected something the matter with that dragon. The
artist painted, scraped out, scowled, pondered and finally flung
down his brushes in impatient disgust. He moved away, his
eyes still on the unfinished work, and backed directly into
 "What—oh, I did not know that there was any one here.
Look at that dragon, did you ever see such a creature!"
"Softly, softly, Matteo," spoke a superior-looking man in
the dress of a sub-prior, behind them. "What is wrong with
the picture? It looks very well, to me. We must have it finished,
you understand, before the feast of Saint Giles, in any
case. You must remember, dear son, that these works are
not for the purpose of delighting the eye. The figure of
Our Lady would be more impressive if you were to add a
gold border to the mantle, would it not?"
Padraig retreated. He was still grinning over the expression
on the artist's face, when he took out a bit of crayon
and at a safe distance made a sketch of the pompous churchman
on a convenient stone. Having caught the likeness he
took from his scrip a half-completed "Book of Legends,"
and in the wide-open mouth of a squirming dragon which
formed the initial he drew the head and shoulders of the half-
Just as he sat back to survey the design, Matteo strode down
the path and stopped with his hand on the gate.
"Did you see him?" the artist spluttered. "Did you hear
him? Because he is the secretary of the Archbishop and
keeps the pay-roll he thinks he can instruct me in my work
If I had to paint the things he describes I would whitewash
every one of my pictures and spend the rest of my days in a
scullery! There, at least, no fault would be found because
the work was too well done!
"That monster will be the death of me yet. I know that
Le Gargouille never looked like that. He was a great dragon,
you know, who lived in the Seine and ravaged the country
 until he was destroyed by Saint Romaine. They do not infest
our rivers any more—they have taken to the church. My
faith, if I knew where to find one I would lead that stupid
monk down there by the ear and show him what a dragon is
like. I never saw a dragon —it is not my business to paint
dragons-but I know that they ought to be slippery shining
green like a frog, or a lizard—and I cannot get the color."
"Is this anything like?" asked Padraig, and he held up
Padraig's mind worked by leaps, Brother Basil used to say,
and it had made a jump while the artist was talking. The
most that he had thought of, when he made the sketch in his
book, was that the face of the Sub-Prior would be a good one
to use some day for a certain kind of character; and then it
had occurred to him to fancy the dragon showing his appreciation
of the dignitary in a natural way. He had already
done the dragon with the last of the green that he and Brother
Basil brought from Ireland, before he came to France, and it
was a clear transparent brilliant color that looked like a new-born
water-plant leaf in the sun. He had watched lizards and
frogs, in long dreamy afternoons by the fishing-pools, too
many times not to remember.
The painter's mobile dark face changed to half a dozen
expressions in a minute. He chuckled over the caricature;
then he looked at the work more closely; then he fluttered
over the other leaves of the book.
"Where did you get the color for this?" he queried.
"I made it," said Padraig.
"Can you make it again?"
Padraig hesitated. "Is there a forest near by?"
"Forest—no; but why? For the hunting of dragons?"
"N-no, b-but—" Padraig was apt to stammer when
excited—"if I had balsam like ours I could make the green.
We had none, and so we hunted until we found the right
resin—Brother Basil and I."
"Basil Ossorin, an Irish monk from England?" asked
Matteo quickly. "I met him ten years since when he was on his
way to Byzantium. If he was your master you have had good
Padraig nodded. Brother Basil was the man whom he
"There is no trouble about the balsam if you know it when
you see it," the artist went on. "I will take you to a place
where anything may be bought—cobalt, lapis lazuli, cinnabar,
orpiment, sandarac—and it is honestly sold."
Padraig numbered the matters off on his fingers. "Copper,
—and Venice turpentine,—and saffron, to make him yellow
underneath like water-snakes in an old pond. His wings
must be smooth—and green—bright, and mottled with rusty
brown—the sun comes from behind, and he must look as if it
were shining through the halo round the maiden's head."
"I wonder now about that balsam," mused the painter.
Padraig drew an outline in the dust on the stone flags.
"The tree is like this—the leaf and berry like this."
Matteo laughed with pure satisfaction. "That is all right;
the tree grows in the abbey gardens. Come, young imp with
the crest of fire, come quickly, and we will have a glorious
It is not certain who painted more of that dragon, the
master or the journeyman. Padraig directed the making of
 the vivid gold-green as if he were the artist and the other the
grinder of paints. Matteo dragged old Brother Joseph, the
caretaker, from his work in the crypt to scrape the original
dragon off the wall until only the outline of curling body and
webbed wings remained. The design was all right, for that
was Matteo's especial skill. He could make a wall-painting
as decorative and well-proportioned as the stiff symbolic
figures, and yet make the picture natural.
There was a fearful moment when the paint was ready
and they made the trial, for neither was sure that the pigment
would look right on this new surface. But it gleamed a living
green. Padraig brightened the scaled body with yellow where
the light struck it. Matteo used his knowledge of armor to
deepen the shadows with a cunning blend of blue and bronze
that made the scales look metallic. Each worked on a wing,
spreading it with sure swift strokes across the base of the
scene. Just as Padraig drew his brush for the last time along
the bony framework of the clutching talons, the painter caught
him by the arm and drew him back down the nave.
"Now look!" he said.
The dragon wallowed at the feet of Saint Margaret in
furious, bewildered rage. Old Brother Joseph, coming out of
the corner where he had been sitting half asleep, looked
actually frightened at the creature. Matteo, well pleased, did
not wait for the verdict of the monks, but took Padraig home
to his lodgings in a narrow street of the town, and they sat
up late that night in talk over many things.
The painter was a Florentine, and when at home he lived
in a street even then called the Street of the Painters, in
Florence. He had been in London years before, in Paris, in Rome,
 in Spain, in Sicily. Now he had commissions for the
decorating of a palace in Rouen, and he took Padraig's breath away
by suggesting that they work together.
"Some day," Matteo averred thoughtfully, "there will be
cathedrals in Italy, France, Normandy, Aquitaine, England,
greater than the world has seen. There will be cliffs and
forests of stone-work—arches, towers, pinnacles, groined and
vaulted roofs, hundreds of statues of the saints. Every inch
of it will be made beautiful as the forest is—with vines and
creeping mosses, blossoms and the little wood-folk that shelter
among trees. There will be great windows of stained and
painted glass. There will be altar-pieces like those that we
only dream to-day. I tell you, Patricio mio, we are in the
dawn of the millennium of the builders. What has been done
already is nothing—nothing!"
Padraig found in the following months that a group of
young Italians, Matteo and some of his friends, were working
along a new line, with models and methods that accounted
for the beauty of their achievements. The figures that they
painted met with scant appreciation oftentimes, for many of
the churchmen desired only symbolic figures of bright colors,
with gilding to make them rich. Moreover, there was a very
general disbelief in the permanence of wall-painting. Walls
were damp, and the only really satisfactory decoration thus
far had been the costly and tedious mosaic. Made of thousands
of tiny blocks of stone of various colors, the design of
the mosaic had to be suited to the infinite network of little
cracks and the knowledge of the worker. Kings and noblemen
usually preferred tapestry which could be saved in case
of disaster, and carried about, to costly wall-paintings which
 must remain where they were. Yet Padraig found Matteo's
rich and graceful figures equal in their way to the stone sculptures
of any French master, and said so.
"It is like this, comrade," the Florentine explained, slipping
his arm across Padraig's shoulders as they strolled past the
church of Saint Ouen. "A picture is a soul; its life on earth
depends upon the body that it inhabits; and we have not
yet found out how to make its body immortal. I do not
believe that my paintings will live more than a few years.
You see, a mural painting is not like your illuminations. You
can keep a book safe in a chest. But a painting on plaster—or
on a wooden panel—is besieged day and night by dampness,
and dryness, and dust, and smoke, changes of heat and cold,—
everything. The wall may crack. The roof may take fire,—
especially when pigeons and sparrows nest in the beams. The
mere action of the air on any painting must be proved by
years. I got my lesson on that when I was not as old as you.
I heard from an ancient monk of a marvelous Madonna,
painted from a living model—a beautiful girl pointed out for
years as the Madonna of San Raffaele. I tramped over the
Apennines to see it. Patricio mio, the face was black! The
artist had used oil with resin and wax, and the picture had
turned as black as a Florentine lily! I never told the old
man about it, and I praised the work to his heart's content;
but to myself I said that I would dream no more of my own
immortal fame. I dream only of the work of others."
"But suppose that a way could be found to make the colors
lasting?" queried Padraig.
"Ah, that would be a real Paradise of Painters—until some
one came along with a torch. I think, myself, that some
 day a drying medium will be found which will make it possible
to paint in oils for all time to come. There is painting
on wood, and on dry plaster—and fresco, where you paint
on the plaster while it is still damp. In fresco you must lay
out only the work that can be finished that day. Me, I am
content for the time to be a fresco painter."
"And if it is all to vanish in a few years, why do we paint?"
mused Padraig with a swift melancholy in his voice.
Matteo's hand fell heavily upon his arm. "Because we
must not lose our souls—that is why. The life of our work
will last long enough to be seen and known by others. They
will remember it, and do their work better. Thus it will go
on, generation after generation, until painters come who can
use all that we have learned since Rome fell, and cap it with
new visions. Every generation has its dragon to dispose of.
When I have tamed my dragon he will take me to the skies—
It was not long after this that Matteo, overhauling the flat
leather-bound coffer in which he kept his belongings, dragged
up from the bottom of the collection some parchments cov-
ered with miscellaneous sketches, mostly of heads and figures.
He had received a message from a sharp-faced Italian peddler-
boy that day, and had been looking rather grave. On the
plaster of the wall, in the sunset light, he began to draw,
roughing it out with quick sure strokes, a procession of men
and horses with some massive wheeled vehicle in the center.
Presently this was seen to be a staging like a van, drawn by
six white oxen harnessed in scarlet. Upon it stood churchmen
in robes of ceremony, grouped about a tall standard rising
high above their heads—a globe surmounted by a crucifix.
 Padraig knew what this was. It was the Carocchio or sacred
car bearing the standard of Milan—but Matteo was a Florentine.
"Patricio caro," said the artist turning to his young pupil,
"to-morrow we shall have to part. I have told the Prince
that you are quite capable of finishing his banquet-hall, and
that I have other business. So I have, but not what he may
think. I had word to-day that Barbarossa has crossed the
Alps. This time it will be a fight to the end.
"You know, for we have talked often of it, that the League
of the Lombard cities is the great hope of the Communes in
Italy. Moreover, it is your fight as well as ours. If the
Empire conquers it will stamp those Communes flat, and take
good care that the cities make no headway toward further
resistance. The next step—for Frederick has said that he is
another Charlemagne—will be the conquest of France, and
then he will try to hurl the whole force of his Empire against
Henry Plantagenet, his only great rival. Myself, I doubt if
he can do that. When men do not want to fight they seldom
"Now there are three hundred young men of the leading
houses of Lombardy who have sworn to guard the Carocchio
with their lives. The Archbishop and his priests will stand
upon the car in the battle and administer the sacrament to
the dying. If the Emperor takes it this time it will be after
the death of every man of the 'juramento.' I am a Florentine,
that is true, but I shall be a foot-soldier in that fight. If we
live, we will have our cities free. If we die—it is for our
own cities as well as theirs.
"This is what I want you to do, little brother. Ah, yes,
 to die is not always the most difficult thing! These are the
names and many of the faces of the 'juramento.' Keep them,
and to-morrow, when I am gone, copy this sketch of the
Carocchio going into the battle. Then, if I never come back,
there will still be some one to paint the picture. When you
find a prince, or some wealthy merchant, who will let you
paint the Carocchio on his wall, do it and keep alive the glory
of Milan. You will find some Milanese who will welcome
you, however the game goes. And the picture will be so good
—your picture and mine—that men will see and remember it
whether they know the story or not. If they copy it, although
the faces may not be like, they will yet carry the meaning—
the standard of the free city above the conflict. Your
promise, Patricio mio—and then—addio !"
Padraig promised. The next day, when he came back
to the little room at the end of the narrow stair, there was
only the picture on the white sunlit wall.
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