The Gentle Shepherd
On the edge of a mountain, lovely as the entrance to paradise, see, coming along, and descending toward the valley, three flocks of young lambs, driven by three young shepherds; one is an inhabitant of the plains of Moldau, the other is Hungarian, the third is from the Vrantcha Mountain. The Hungarian and the Vranchian have held counsel together, and have resolved that at sunset they will kill their companion, on account of his riches, for he owns more horned sheep than they do, his horses are better trained than theirs, and his dogs more vigorous. Yet, for three days past, there is in his flock a fair young sheep, with white silky wool, which will no longer eat the tender grass of the prairie, and moans all day long.
"My poor little sheep, you who were so fat and well! How is it that for three days you have done nothing but groan and moan? Don't you like the prairie grass, or are you ill, my dear little lamb?"
"Oh, my beloved shepherd, lead thy flock to that thicket, there will be grass for us, and shade for thee; master, dear master! Call near you without delay, one of your best and strongest dogs, for the Hungarian and the Vranchian have resolved to kill you at sunset!"
"Dear little sheep of the mountains, if thou art a prophetess, if it is written that I am to die in the bosom of these pastures, thou wilt tell the Hungarian and the Vranchian to bury me near this spot, not far from this enclosure, so that I may always be near you, my beloved lambs,--either here, or behind the shepherd's hut, so that I may always hear the voice of my faithful dogs. Thou wilt tell them this, and thou wilt place at the foot of nay grave a little flute of elm wood, with its accents of love; another of bone, with its harmonious sounds; another of reeds, with its passionate notes; and when the wind blows across their pipes bringing out plaintive music, then my flock will assemble round my tomb, and weep for me, tears of blood."
"Take care thou dost not tell them of my murder! Tell them I have married a beautiful Queen, that at the moment of our union, a star fell, that the sun and moon together held the crown over my head, that I exist no longer for them. But if ever thou meetest, if ever thou comest near, a poor old mother, running across the fields, weeping and asking, 'who amongst you have seen a young shepherd, with face as fair as milk, with moustache yellow as ripe corn, with waist so slight that it would pass through a ring, with raven hair, and eyes like mulberries?'--then my little sheep, take pity on her, and tell her that I have married a daughter of the King who lives at the entrance of paradise, but say nothing to her of the falling star!" Here ends the fragment.