Still they regarded him not to obey his behest, although they so far noticed his words as to return menacing look for look, and muttered threats for threat with him. The music played on with the same liveliness, the dancers danced as merrily as ever, and the spectators applauded each display of agility.
"Well, then," spake the Abbot, bursting with rage, "an ye cease not, be my curse on your head—there may ye dance for a year and a day!"
He banned them bitterly; with uplifted hands and eyes he imprecated the vengeance of Heaven on their disobedience. He prayed to the Lord to punish them for the slight of his directions. Then he sought his cell to vent his ire in solitude.
From that hour they continued to dance until a year and a day had fully expired. Night fell, and they ceased not; day dawned, and they danced still. In the heat of noon, in the cool of the evening, day after day there was no rest for them, their saltation was without end. The seasons rolled over them. Summer gave place to autumn, winter succeeded summer, and spring decked the fields with early flowers, as winter slowly disappeared, yet still they danced on, through coursing time and changing seasons, with unabated strength and unimpaired energy. Rain nor hail, snow nor storm, sunshine nor shade, seemed to affect them. Round and round and round they danced, in heat and cold, in damp and dry, in light and darkness. What were the seasons—what the times or the hour or the weather to them? In vain did their neighbours and friends try to arrest them in their wild evolutions; in vain were attempts made to stop them in their whirling career; in vain did even the Abbot himself interpose to relieve them from the curse he had laid on them, and to put a period to the punishment of which he had been the cause. The strongest man in the vicinity held out his hand and caught one of them, with the intention of arresting his rotation, and tearing him from the charmed circle, but his arm was torn from him in the attempt, and clung to the dancer with the grip of life till his day was done.