The Massacre of the Innocents

The Massacre of the Innocents part 8

Roundthe churchyard a multitude gathered in front of a long low green farmhouse. Theproprietor wept bitterly as he stood in his door-way. He was a fat,jolly-looking man, and happened to arouse the compassion of a few soldiers whosat near the wall in the sunlight, patting a dog. The soldier who was takingoff his child made gestures as if to convey the meaning, “What can I do? I`mnot to blame!”

Onepeasant who was being pursued leaped into a boat near the stone bridge, and,with his wife and children, rowed quickly across that part of the pond that wasnot frozen. The Spaniards, who dared not follow, walked angrily among the reedsby the shore. They climbed into the willows along the bankside, trying to reachthe boat with their lances. Unable to do so, they continued to threaten thefugitives, who drifted out over the dark water.

Theorchard was still thronged with people: it was there, in the pres-ence of thewhite-bearded commanding officer, that mos

The Massacre of the Innocents part 7

Onefamily, who had concealed themselves in the cellar of a large house, stood atthe gratings and wildly lamented, while the father desperately brandished hispitchfork through the grating. Outside, an old bald-headed fellow sat on amanure-heap, sobbing to himself. In the square a woman dressed in yellow hadfainted away, her weeping husband holding her up by the arms against apear-tree.

Anotherwoman, in red, clutched her little girl, whose hands had been cut off, andlifted the child`s arms to see whether she could move. Still another woman wasescaping toward the open country, the soldiers running after her among thehaystacks, which stood out in sharp relief against the snow-covered fields.

Beforethe Four Sons of Aymon confusion reigned. The peasants had made a barricadewhile the soldiers encircled the inn, unable to effect an entrance. They weretrying to climb up to the sign-board by means of the vines, when they caughtsight of a ladder behind the

The Massacre of the Innocents part 6

Therehad been a kermesse in this house: relatives had come to feast on waffles,hams, and custards. At the sound of the smashing of windows they crouchedtogether behind the table, still laden with jugs and dishes.

Thesoldiers went to the kitchen and after a savage fight in which many werewounded, they seized all the small boys and girls, and a little servant who hadbitten the thumb of one soldier, left the house and closed the door behind themto prevent their being followed.

Thosewho had no children cautiously came forth from their houses and followed thesoldiers at a distance. They could see them throw down their victims on theground before the old man, and cold-bloodedly massacre them with lances orswords.

Meanwhilemen and women crowded the windows of the blue farmhouse and the barn, cursingand raising their arms to heaven as they contemplated the pink, red, and whiteclothes of their motionless children on the ground among the trees. Th

The Massacre of the Innocents part 5

Theparishioners inquired of him in undertones, “What does he say? What is he goingto do?” Others, seeing the curt: in the orchard, emerged cautiously from theirhuts, and women hastily came near and whispered in small groups amongthemselves, while the soldiers who had been besieging the inn, came out againwhen they saw the crowd assembling in the square.

Thenhe who held the innkeeper`s child by one leg, cut off its head with a stroke ofthe sword. The peasants saw the head fall, and the body bleeding on the ground.The mother gathered it to her arms, forgetting the head, and ran toward herhouse. On the way she stumbled against a tree, fell flat on the snow and lay ina faint, while the father struggled with two soldiers.

Horror to the accompaniment

Someof the younger peasants threw stones and wood at the Spaniards, but the horsemenrallied and lowered their lances, the women scattered in all directions, whilethe curd wi

The Massacre of the Innocents part 4

Theymade their way toward the Golden Sun and knocked at the door. It was openedwith some hesitancy, and the Spaniards entered, warmed themselves before thefire, and demanded ale. They then left the inn, taking with them pots,pitchers, and bread for their companions, and the old man with the white beardwho stood waiting among his soldiers.

 As the street was still deserted, thecommanding officer sent off some horsemen behind the houses to guard thevillage on the side facing the open country, and ordered the footmen to bringto him all children two years old or under, as he intended to massacre them, inaccordance with what is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Themen went first to the small inn of the Green Cabbage and the barber`s hut,which stood close to each other in the central part of the street. One of themopened the pigsty and a whole litter of pigs escaped and roamed about throughthe village. The innkeeper and the barber came out of th

The Massacre of the Innocents part 3

Thesisters of the dead woman and various other relatives got into the cart, andthe curt: as well, for he was old and very fat and could walk only with thegreatest difficulty. They drove off into the wood, and in silence reached thewide open fields, where they saw the dead soldiers, stripped naked, and thehorses lying on their backs on the shining ice among the trees.

Theywent on toward the farm, which was still burning in the midst of the openfields.

Whenthey reached the orchard of the burning house, they stopped short before thegarden gate and looked upon the terrible tragedy. Korneliz` wife hung, naked,from the branches of a huge chestnut. He himself climbed up a ladder into thebranches of the tree, below which his nine little girls awaited their mother onthe lawn. Korneliz made his way through the arching boughs overhead when all atonce, outlined against the bright snow, he caught sight of the crowd beneath,looking up at him.

The Massacre of the Innocents part 2

Afterdeliberating a long while in the churchyard, they decided to hide in the woodwhich the Spaniards were to come through, attack them if they were not toonumerous, and recover Petrus Krayer`s cattle and any booty they might havetaken at the farm.

Themen armed themselves with forks and spades while the women remained with thecur£ by the church. Looking for a favorable place for an ambuscade, the menreached a hilly spot near a mill at the edge of the wood, where they could seethe fire glowing against the stars of night. They took up their position undersome enormous oaks by the side of an ice-covered pond.

Ashepherd, who was called the Red Dwarf, mounted to the top of the hill in orderto warn the miller, who had already stopped his mill when he saw flames on thehorizon. But he allowed the peasant to enter, and the two went to a window tolook out over the countryside.

Dwarf went down

Themoon shone down brigh

The Massacre of the Innocents part 1

Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949)

MauriceMaeterlinck was born at Ghent in 1862. He studied for the law, but left forParis after a short career as a lawyer. In Paris he became acquainted withseveral writers who exercised considerable influence over him. Maeterlinck`schief contributions to contemporary literature are his plays and his essays.

TheMassacre of the Innocents was the earliest published work of this writer. Itappeared in 1886 in a small magazine. It is a skilfully constructed tale, inwhich the background and details are strikingly similar to the early paintingsof the Flemish school.

Thetranslation, by Barrett H. Clark, was made especially for this collection.Originally reprinted by permission of the author.

The Massacre of the Innocents

OnFriday the 26th of December about supper time, a little shepherd came intoNazareth crying terribly.

Somepeasants who were drinki