It is truly a great proverb—"Rather a crooked sight than a crooked judgment"; but it is so difficult to adopt it that the judgment of few men hits the nail on the head. On the contrary, in the sea of human affairs, the greater part are fishers in smooth waters, who catch crabs; and he who thinks to take the most exact measure of the object at which he aims often shoots widest of the mark. The consequence of this is that all are running pell-mell, all toiling in the dark, all thinking crookedly, all acting child's-play, all judging at random, and with a haphazard blow of a foolish resolution bringing upon themselves a bitter repentance; as was the case with the King of Shady-Grove; and you shall hear how it fared with him if you summon me within the circle of modesty with the bell of courtesy, and give me a little attention.
It is said that there was once a king of Shady-Grove named Milluccio, who was so devoted to the chase, that he neglected the needful affairs of his state and household to follow the track of a hare or the flight of a thrush. And he pursued this road so far that chance one day led him to a thicket, which had formed a solid square of earth and trees to prevent the horses of the Sun from breaking through. There, upon a most beautiful marble stone, he found a raven, which had just been killed.
The King, seeing the bright red blood sprinkled upon the white, white marble, heaved a deep sigh and exclaimed, "O heavens! and cannot I have a wife as white and red as this stone, and with hair and eyebrows as black as the feathers of this raven?" And he stood for a while so buried in this thought that he became a counterpart to the stone, and looked like a marble image making love to the other marble. And this unhappy fancy fixing itself in his head, as he searched for it everywhere with the lanthorn of desire, it grew in four seconds from a picktooth to a pole, from a crab-apple to an Indian pumpkin, from barber's embers to a glass furnace, and from a dwarf to a giant; insomuch that he thought of nothing else than the image of that object encrusted in his heart as stone to stone.
Good St. James, and the Merry Barber of Compostella
Category: Spain folktales
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