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Title: Tales from the Lands of Nuts and Grapes - Spanish and Portuguese Folklore
Author: Various
Language: English
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                           from the lands of
                            nuts and grapes


                           CHARLES SELLERS.



              _Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, E.C._

           _Simpkin, Marshall & Co.; Hamilton, Adams & Co._


I firmly believe that the following tales have never seen the light of
publicity. They are the folklore of Spain and Portugal.

Since the day when Hernando del Castillo, in 1511, published some of the
romances of Spanish chivalry collected from the people, various works
have appeared at different times, adding to the already rich store from
that inexhaustible mine of song and story.

But, unfortunately for those who appreciate originality in a people, it
was discovered that Boccaccio had been most unceremoniously plagiarized,
and, what was still worse, that his defects had not been avoided.

The “Decameron” has, in fact, been the foundation of the majority of the
romances attributed to the natives of the Peninsula when, as has too
often been the case, they have in their songs of chivalry overstepped
the limits imposed by decorum.

But this does not argue that the Spaniards and Portuguese have no poetry
and no folklore of their own, but rather that the latter have been
ignored by the compilers of such literature, in order to satisfy the
cravings of the unfortunately too many admirers, even in this day, of
that which would have been of advantage to the world at large had it
never been imagined.

In England the tale of “Jack the Giant Killer” is read with avidity by
all young people, for it is a purely national tale; but in Spain and
Portugal such simple tales very seldom find a publisher, and children,
and even their elders have to content themselves with hearing them
recited by those who enliven the long wintry nights with such lore as I
have attempted to reproduce from my memory, told me in my youth in the
bosom of those two sister lands which produced the Cid Campeador and the
Gran Vasco da Gama.

And, before closing this preface, I would remark that the North of
Portugal, where I was born and bred, is richer in folklore than the rest
of the kingdom, especially in tales about enchanted Moors and warlocks,
of whom I, in common with the Portuguese, say, “Abernuncio.”

                                                 C. SELLERS.



  THE INGENIOUS STUDENT                                    1

  THE UGLY PRINCESS                                        9

  THE WOLF-CHILD                                          17

  THE MAGIC MIRROR                                        26

  THE BLACK SLAVE                                         34

  A LEGEND OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW                             46

  THE WHITE CAT OF ECIJA                                  59


  THE WISE KING OF LEON                                   79

  THE COBBLER OF BURGOS                                   85

  BARBARA, THE GRAZIER’S WIFE                             92

  THE WATCHFUL SERVANT                                    99

  SILVER BELLS                                           105

  KING ROBIN                                             112

  THE WICKED KING                                        117

  THE PALACE OF THE ENCHANTED MOORS                      122

  THE SEVEN PIGEONS                                      133

  LADY CLARE                                             150


  ELVIRA, THE SAINTED PRINCESS                           165

  THE ENCHANTED MULE                                     170



There was once a student in Tuy who was so very poor that, if faith in
Providence be not reckoned, he possessed no riches.

But Juan Rivas was endowed with a wonderfully fine gift of ingenuity,
and although he was somewhat behind in the payment for the Masses on
behalf of his predecessors, and even more so with his mundane creditors,
still was he a man who meant well and would do the right thing if he
only had the opportunity.

To the man of the world there is no greater pleasure than to pay his
debts, for by so doing he increases his credit.

Juan Rivas would willingly have paid every creditor had his pocket been
as full of the wherewithal as his heart was of gratitude for small
mercies; but there is no difficulty about showing one’s self desirous of
satisfying one’s debts—the only difficulty generally rests in being
able to do so.

At college he had proved himself a good scholar and a true companion;
but as he could no longer contribute toward the support of his college,
his college could not be expected to support him.

His long black cap, his flowing robes, his pantaloons, and his shoes
were altered in substance, and so was Juan Rivas.

Finally he became reduced to his last maravedi, and as his friends could
no longer assist him, he thought it was high time he should assist

“Providence,” said he, “has never intended me for a poor man, but Fate
has almost made me one. I will believe in Providence, and become rich
from this day.” Saying which, he went to some of his companions, who
were almost as poor as he was, and asked them if they desired to be

“Do you ask us if we want to be rich with so serious a face?” answered
they. “Really, friend Juan, you are so strange that you do not seem to
belong to this city!”

“No man can be rich,” continued Juan, “by staying at home. We are
students, and our studies should meet with some recompense. Will you do
as I bid you?”

“Yes!” cried all his poor companions; “so long as you lead us not to the
gallows, for we like not such playthings.”

“Well, then, follow me,” said Juan; “and when you see me release a prize
that belongs to him who shall be bold enough to seize it, off with it to
the market, and dispose of it at the best possible price.”

“Done, and agreed to,” shouted all, “if you will but seize the prize!”

“Leave that to me,” said the poor student, “and I will hand you a prize
fully worth twenty dollars without his garments.”

“But, surely, you are not going to hand some man or woman over to us?”
inquired they.

“Ask me no questions, as the Archbishop of Compostella said to the
pretty widow, and I will be honest with you. The prize I shall hand you
will fetch money in the market, and we sell not human beings in this
country,” urged Juan.

“That is right,” they exclaimed; “and we will follow you.”

The students followed Juan on to the high-road leading from the city to
Ourense; and when they had walked for about two hours’ time Juan told
his companions to get behind the hedge and await results.

Soon after, the jingling of bells was heard, and a muleteer seated
cross-legged on a mule, which preceded five others, was seen

As the muleteer had sold all his wares he was indulging in a sleep, and
had it not been for the dog-flies that teased the mules they would also
have slept.

Juan let the muleteer pass; but as the last mule came up he seized it,
and, taking off its trappings, and disencumbering it of its ponderous
albarda, or saddle, he freed the animal on the roadside, and replaced
the trappings and the saddle on himself.

His companions were not slow in seizing the prize and hurrying away with
it, while Juan Rivas continued for some distance along the road,
following in the train of mules.

As soon as he considered that his companions would be out of sight, he
commenced backing with all his strength, which brought the mules to a
sudden halt and caused their bells to tinkle.

The muleteer looked back to see if anything was wrong, but, perceiving
nothing, bestowed a hearty blow on his mule, and on he went again.

The student now began to rear and jump about so that the muleteer pulled
up, and, having dismounted, proceeded to inquire into the cause of the
mule so misbehaving itself; but his astonishment was great when, instead
of a mule, he saw a human being bearing the trappings and the saddle.

“What merry freak is this,” demanded the muleteer, addressing the
student, “that I see you replacing my mule?”

“It is no merry freak, indeed it is not,” replied Juan Rivas, “but a sad
reality. You see before you, good master, a poor, miserable creature,
who for his many offences against Mother Church was transformed into a
mule, and sentenced to remain so for a number of years. My term of
punishment has just expired, and I am restored to my natural form.”

“But where is my mule that cost me one hundred crowns not many years
ago?” asked the muleteer.

“You do not understand me, good master,” replied the student. “I was
the mule, and the mule was I; now I am I. When you used to kick your
mule, you really kicked me; when you fed it, you fed me; and now, when
you speak to me, you speak to all that remains of your mule. Now do you

“I am beginning to perceive,” said the muleteer, scratching his head and
looking very sorrowful, “that for your sins you were turned into a mule,
and that for mine, I had the misfortune to purchase you. I always
thought there was something strange about that mule!”

“There is no doubt that we all must put up with the consequences of our
evil ways, and, as you very properly say, you have been punished by the
loss of your mule; but, then, you can rejoice with me, seeing that the
son of the first Grandee in Spain served you in the humble capacity of a
beast of burden, and now is restored to rank and wealth.”

“And are you a Grandee of Spain?” anxiously inquired the poor man, “Why,
then, your excellency will never forgive me for the many kicks I have
bestowed on your excellency’s sides; and I am a ruined man, for you will
have me punished.”

“Not so, kind friend; not so,” replied the student, in an assuring
tone; “for how could you tell that your mule was not a mule?”

“Then your excellency will not be revenged on me?” continued the
muleteer. “And if it will be of any consolation to your excellency, I
promise never to divulge this mystery!”

“It will, indeed, be a great comfort to me to think that no one will
know what became of me for so many years,” replied the student. “And now
I must bid you good-bye, for I am in a hurry to again embrace my dear
parents if they be still living.”

“Good-bye,” said the muleteer, with emotion; “and may your excellency
never again incur the displeasure of Mother Church.”

Thus they parted good friends; the muleteer pondering over what he
termed the mysteries of life, and Juan Rivas full of delight at the
thought of rejoining his companions, and having a good supper with the
proceeds of the mule, which pleasure was not denied him and his friends.

In a fortnight’s time there was a cattle fair in the neighbourhood of
Tuy, and as the muleteer required to replace the mule he had so
mysteriously lost, he attended the fair, and was looking about him for
a serviceable mule, when an acquaintance called out to him to know why
he had parted with the other one.

“I have my private reasons,” answered the muleteer, “and I am not here
to let you know them.”

“Very true,” continued his inquisitive friend; “but the proverb says
that ‘the mule you know is better than the mule you don’t know,’ and if
you will take my advice, you will buy your old mule back again, for
there it is”—pointing to it.

The muleteer looked in the direction mentioned, and was horrified at
seeing his late mule again; but, trying to conceal his emotion, he
approached the animal and whispered in its ear, “Those who don’t know
what sort of a mule your excellency is may buy you, but I know the mule
you are;” and, turning away, he sorrowfully exclaimed, “He has again
offended. Terrible are the judgments of Providence!”


There was once a king who had an only daughter, and she was so very ugly
and deformed that, when she rode through the streets of Alcantara, the
children ran away, thinking she was a witch.

Her father, however, thought her the most lovely creature in his
kingdom; and as all the courtiers agreed with him, and the Court poet
was always singing her praises, the princess had been led to believe
what most ladies like to believe; and as she was expecting a prince from
a distant country, who was coming expressly to marry her, she had
ordered many rich dresses which only made her look uglier.

The city of Alcantara was ready to receive Prince Alanbam, who was going
to espouse the Princess Altamira.

Crowds thronged the streets, martial music was heard everywhere, and in
the public square a splendid throne had been erected for the king,
Princess Altamira, and Prince Alanbam.

Around the throne were formed large bodies of well-equipped cavalry,
dark visaged warriors clad in white and gold, and mounted on superb Arab

Behind the king, on his left side, stood the royal barber with his
retinue of apprentices; and on his right side was seen Nabó the
headsman, a nigger of gigantic stature, with his implement of office, an
axe, over his shoulder.

Seated on the steps of the throne were a number of musicians, and below
these a guard of honour, composed of foot soldiers dressed in short
vests, called “aljubas,” and wide lower garments, and with their
aljavas, or quivers, full of bright arrows.

From the throne the king could see the splendid bridge on six pillars,
built by Trajan, along which a brilliant cavalcade was proceeding,
namely, the procession formed by Prince Alanbam and his retainers.

As soon as the prince, after saluting the king, beheld the princess, he
turned pale, for he had never seen any one so ugly; and however much he
might have desired to keep up an appearance of courtesy to the princess
before her father’s subjects, he could not kiss her as she expected him
to do, nor could he be persuaded to occupy the chair reserved for him
beside the princess.

“Your mercy,” said he, addressing the king, “must excuse my insuperable
bashfulness; but the fact is that the Princess Altamira is so
transcendently beautiful, and so dazzling to behold, that I can never
expect to look upon her face again and live.”

The king and the princess were highly flattered; but as Prince Alanbam
continued obdurate in his professions of bashfulness, they commenced to
feel somewhat vexed, and at last the king said in a loud voice—

“Prince Alanbam, we fully appreciate the motive that prompts your
conduct, but the fact is the Princess Altamira is present to be wedded
to you; and, as a Christian king, the first of my line, I desire to lead
to the altar my only daughter, Princess Altamira, and her affianced
husband, Prince Alanbam.”

“It cannot be,” said the prince. “I would rather marry some one less
beautiful. Sir king, forgive me if I annoy you, but I will not be wedded
to so much beauty.”

The king was now incensed beyond measure, and the princess his
daughter, thinking to spite Prince Alanbam, said—

“With your permission, royal father, since I am too beautiful for a
prince, I will be married to the most learned man in your
kingdom—Bernardo, the royal barber.”

“And that you shall,” said the king; but, on turning round to speak to
the barber, he found that this the most learned man in his kingdom was
all of a tremble, as if dancing to the music of St. Vitus.

“What has possessed thee, caitiff?” asked the king. “Hearest not thou
the honour that is to be conferred on thee?”

“My royal master,” muttered the poor frightened man of learning and
lather, “I can no more avail myself of the honour which you would confer
on me than the Archbishop of Villafranca could. His grace is bound to
celibacy, and I am already married.”

Now, the barber had on many occasions rendered himself obnoxious to
Sanchez, the royal cobbler, who, seeing the king’s perplexity, and a
chance of avenging past insults, exclaimed—

“Royal master, it would be most acceptable to your subjects that so
much beauty should be wedded to so much learning. Our good friend,
Bernardo, was, it is true, married; but since he has been in attendance
at the palace, he has so fallen in love with Princess Altamira that he
no longer notices his wife; therefore, may it please your mercy to
dissolve the first marriage, and announce this new one with her
highness, your daughter?”

The barber at this harangue became so infuriated that he rushed blindly
at the cobbler, and with his razor would have severed his head from the
rest of his body, but that he was prevented by the guard, who held him

“Executioner, do your work!” cried the baffled king; and at one blow the
head of the unfortunate barber rolled on the ground.

Prince Alanbam seeing this, and fearing that more mischief might ensue,
proposed to the king that one hundred knights should be chosen, and that
these should fight for the hand of the lovely Princess Altamira. “I
myself will enter the lists,” said the prince; “and the survivor will be
rewarded by marrying your daughter.”

“That is a good idea,” said the king; and calling together ninety-nine
of his best knights, he bade them fight valiantly, for their reward was
very precious.

Fifty knights, mounted on beautiful chargers, placed themselves on one
side, and were opposed by forty-nine equally well-mounted knights and
Prince Alanbam; and at the word of command, given by the king, they
advanced at headlong speed against each other; but, much to the
astonishment of the spectators, no knight was unhorsed; rather did it
seem that each knight did his utmost to get run through by his opponent.

At it they went again and again, but with the same result, for no man
was hurt, although seeming to court death.

“We will alter the order of things,” exclaimed the king. “The knight who
is first wounded shall be the one to marry the princess.”

This was no sooner said than the knights seemed to be possessed of a
blind fury, and at the first charge nearly every knight was unhorsed and
every one wounded, while the confusion and noise were awful. They were
all accusing each other of being the first wounded; so that, in utter
despair, the king declared his daughter should be married to the
Church, enter a convent, and thus hide her transcendent beauty.

“No, father,” exclaimed the ugly princess; “I will get a husband; and if
in all the states of Spain no one be found worthy enough to be my
husband, I will leave Spain for ever. There is a country where the day
never dawns, and night is eternal. Thither will I go; for in the dark,
as all cats are gray, so are all degrees of beauty brought to one common
level. I now know that it is just as unfortunate to be too beautiful as
it is to be very ugly.”

Having delivered herself of this speech, Princess Altamira bade the
king, her father, good-bye, and was on the point of leaving the royal
presence, when the handsome figure of Felisberto, the blind fiddler, was
seen to approach.

“Princess,” exclaimed blind Felisberto, “to Spain nothing is denied. You
speak of proceeding to the North, where the day never dawns, in search
of a husband. You need but look at me to behold one to whom night and
day, extreme ugliness and transcendent beauty, are alike; and since all
are so bashful that they will not marry you, allow me, fair princess, to
offer you my services as a husband. In my world ‘handsome is that
handsome does.’”

The king was so pleased with the blind fiddler’s speech that he
immediately made him a Grandee of Spain, and acknowledged him as his
son-in-law elect.


In the North of Portugal there are many sequestered spots where the
enchanted Moors and the wizards meet when it is full moon. These places
are generally situated among high rocks on the precipitous sides of the
hills overlooking rivers; and when the wind is very boisterous their
terrible screams and incantations can be distinctly heard by the
peasantry inhabiting the neighbouring villages.

On such occasions the father of the family sets fire to a wisp of straw,
and with it makes the sign of the cross around his house, which prevents
these evil spirits from approaching. The other members of the family
place a few extra lights before the image of the Virgin; and the
horse-shoe nailed to the door completes the safety of the house.

But it will so happen that sometimes an enchanted Moor, with more
cunning than honesty, will get through one of the windows on the birth
of a child, and will brand the infant with the crescent on his shoulder
or arm, in which case it is well known that the child, on certain
nights, will be changed into a wolf.

The enchanted Moors have their castles and palaces under the ground or
beneath the rivers, and they wander about the earth, seeing but not
seen; for they died unbaptized, and have, therefore, no rest in the

They seem to have given preference to the North of Portugal, where they
are held in great fear by the ignorant peasantry; and it has been
observed that all such of the natives as have left their homes to study
at the universities, on their return have never been visited by the
enchanted Moors, as it is well known that they have a great respect for
learning. In fact, one of the kings has said that until all his subjects
were educated they would never get rid of the enchanted Moors and

In a village called Darque, on the banks of the Lima, there lived a
farmer whose goodness and ignorance were only equalled by those of his
wife. They were both young and robust, and were sufficiently well off
to afford the luxury of beef once or twice a month. Their clothes were
home-spun, and their hearts were homely. Beyond their landlord’s grounds
they had never stepped; but as he owned nearly the whole village, it is
very evident that they knew something of this world of ours. They were
both born and married on the estate, as their parents had been before
them, and they were contented because they had never mixed with the

One day, when the farmer came home to have his midday meal of broth and
maize bread, he found his wife in bed with a newborn baby boy by her
side, and he was so pleased that he spent his hour of rest looking at
the child, so that his meal remained untasted on the table.

Kissing his wife and infant, and bidding her beware of evil eyes, he
hurried out of the house back to his work; and so great was his joy at
being a father that he did not feel hungry.

He was digging potatoes, and in his excitement had sent his hoe through
some of them, which, however, he did not notice until he happened to
strike one that was so hard that the steel of his hoe flashed.

Thinking it was a pebble, he stooped to pick it up, but was surprised
to see that it was no longer there.

However, he went on working, when he struck another hard potato, and his
hoe again flashed.

“Ah,” said he, “the evil one has been sowing this field with stones, as
he did in the days of good Saint Euphemia, our patroness.” Saying which,
he drew out the small crucifix from under his shirt, and the flinty
potato disappeared; but he noticed that one of its eyes moved.

He thought no more of this untoward event, and went on hoeing until
sunset, when, with the other labourers, he shouldered his hoe and
prepared to go home.

Never had the distance seemed so great; but at last he found himself by
his wife’s bedside. She told him that while he was absent an old woman
had called, asking for something to eat, and that as she seemed to have
met with some accident, because there was blood running down her face,
she invited her in, and told her she might eat what her husband had left

Sitting down at the table, the old woman commenced eating without
asking a blessing on the food; and when she had finished she approached
the bed, and, looking at the infant, she muttered some words and left
the house hurriedly.

The husband and wife were very much afraid that the old woman was a
witch; but as the child went on growing and seemed well they gradually
forgot their visitor.

The infant was baptized, and was named John; and when he was old enough
he was sent out to work to help his parents. All the labourers noticed
that John could get through more work than any man, he was so strong and
active; but he was very silent.

The remarkable strength of the boy got to be so spoken about in the
village that at last the wise woman, who was always consulted, said that
there was no doubt but that John was a wolf-child; and this having come
to the ears of his parents, his body was carefully examined, and the
mark of the crescent was found under his arm.

Nothing now remained to be done but to take John to the great wise woman
of Arifana, and have him disenchanted.

The day had arrived for the parents to take John with them to Arifana,
but when they looked for him he could nowhere be found. They searched
everywhere—down the well, in the river, in the forest—and made
inquiries at all the villages, but in vain; John had disappeared.

Weeks went by without any sign of him; and the winter having set in, the
wolves, through hunger, had become more undaunted in their attacks on
the flocks and herds. The farmer, afraid of firing at them, lest he
might shoot his son, had laid a trap; and one morning, to his delight,
he saw that a very large wolf had been caught, which one of his
fellow-labourers was cudgelling. Fearing it might be the lost
wolf-child, he hastened to the spot, and prevented the wolf receiving
more blows; but it was too late, apparently, to save the creature’s
life, for it lay motionless on the ground as if dead. Hurrying off for
the wise woman of the village, she returned with him; and, close to the
head of the wolf, she gathered some branches of the common pine-tree,
and lighting them, as some were green and others dry, a volume of smoke
arose like a tower, reaching to the top of a hill where lived some
notorious enchanted Moors and wizards; so that between the wolf and the
said Moors the distance was covered by a tunnel of smoke and fire. Then
the wise woman intoned the following words, closing her eyes, and
bidding the rest do so until she should tell them they might open

    “Spirit of the mighty wind
      That across the desert howls,
    Help us here to unbind
      All the spells of dreaded ghouls;
    Through the path of smoke and fire
      Rising to the wizards’ mound,
    Bid the cursèd mark retire
      From this creature on the ground;
    Bid him take his shape again,
      Free him from the Crescent’s power,
    May the holy Cross remain
      On his temple from this hour.”

She now made the sign of the Cross over the head of the wolf, and

    “River, winding to the west,
      Stay thy rippling current, stay,
    Jordan’s stream thy tide has blest,
      Help us wash this stain away;
    Bear it to the ocean wide,
      Back to Saracenic shore.
    Those who washed in thee have died
      But to live for evermore.”

Then she sprinkled a few drops over the fire, which caused a larger
amount of smoke, and exclaimed—

    “Hie thee, spirit, up through smoke,
      Quenched by water and by fire;
    Hie thee far from Christian folk,
      To the wizard’s home retire.
    Open wide your eyelids now,
      All the smoke has curled away;
    ’Neath the peaceful olive bough
      Let us go, and let us pray.”

Then they all rose, and the wolf was no longer there. The fire had
burned itself out, and the stream was again running. In slow procession
they went to the olive grotto, headed by the wise woman; and, after
praying, they returned to the house, where they found, to their delight,
John fast asleep in his bed; but his arms showed signs of bruises which
had been caused by the cudgelling he had received when he was caught in
the trap.

There were great rejoicings that day in the village of Darque; and no
one was better pleased than John at having regained his proper shape.

He was never known to join in the inhuman sport of hunting wolves for
pleasure, because, as he said, although they may not be wolf-children,
they do but obey an instinct which was given them; and to be
kind-hearted is to obey a precept which was given us. And, owing to the
introduction into Portugal of the Book in which this commandment is to
be found, wolf-children have become scarcer, and the people wiser.


It was proclaimed throughout the kingdom of Granada that the king had
decided on marrying. The news was first told to the court barber, then
to the night watchmen, and, in the third place, to the oldest woman in
the city of Granada.

The barber told all his customers, who again told all their friends. The
night watchmen in crying the hour proclaimed the news in a loud voice,
so that all the maidens were kept awake by thinking of the news, and by
day they were being constantly reminded by all the old dueñas that the
king had resolved to marry.

After the news had become somewhat stale, the question was asked, “Who
is the king going to marry?” To which the barber made reply, that
probably “he would marry a woman.”

“A woman!” exclaimed his hearers. “Why, what else could he marry?”

“Not all women are worthy the name,” answered the barber. “Some more
resemble the unbaptized, of whom I say, _abernuncio_.”

“But what mean you, good friend?” demanded his customers. “Is not the
king to find a woman for wife in our land of Spain?”

“He would,” replied the barber, “with greater ease find the reverse; but
to find a woman worthy to be his wife I shall have great trouble.”

“What, _you?_” exclaimed all of them. “What have you got to do with
providing the king with a wife?”

“I am under royal licence, remember,” said he of the razor; “for I am
the only man in the kingdom permitted to rub the royal features. I am
the possessor of the magic mirror also, into which if any woman not
being thoroughly good shall look, the blemishes on her character will
appear as so many spots on its surface.”

“Is this one of the conditions?” asked all.

“This is the sole condition,” replied the barber, placing his thumbs in
the armholes of his waistcoat and looking very wise.

“But is there no limit as to age?” they again inquired.

“Any woman from eighteen years upwards is eligible,” said the possessor
of the mirror.

“Then you will have every woman in Granada claiming the right to be
queen!” all exclaimed.

“But, first of all, they will have to justify their claim, for I will
not take any woman at her word. No; she will have to gaze into the
mirror with me by her side,” continued the barber.

The sole condition imposed on those who desired to become Queen of
Granada was made known, and was much ridiculed, as may naturally be
supposed; but, strange to say, no woman applied to the barber to have a
look into the mirror.

Days and weeks went by, but the king was no nearer getting a wife. Some
generous ladies would try and prevail on their lady friends to make the
trial, but none seemed ambitious of the honour.

The king, be it known, was a very handsome man, and was beloved by all
his subjects for his many virtues; therefore it was surprising that none
of the lovely ladies who attended court should try to become his wife.

Many excuses and explanations were given. Some were already engaged to
be married, others professed themselves too proud to enter the barber’s
shop, while others assured their friends that they had resolved on
remaining single.

The latter seem to have been cleverer in their excuses, for it was soon
observable that no man in Granada would marry, assigning as a reason for
this that until the king was suited they would not think of marrying;
though the real cause may have been due to the objection of the ladies
to look into the mirror.

The fathers of families were much annoyed at the apparent want of female
ambition in their daughters, while the mothers were strangely silent on
the matter.

Every morning the king would ask the barber if any young lady had
ventured on looking into the mirror; but the answer was always the
same—that many watched his shop to see if others went there, but none
had ventured in.

“Ah, Granada, Granada!” exclaimed the king; “hast thou no daughter to
offer thy king? In this Alhambra did my predecessors enjoy the company
of their wives; and am I to be denied this natural comfort?”

“Royal master,” said the barber, “in those days the magic mirror was
unknown and not so much required. Men then only studied the arts, but
now is science added to their studies.”

“You mean, then,” asked the king, “that an increase in knowledge has
done no good?”

“I mean more than that,” continued the barber; “I mean that people are
worse than they used to be.”

“‘God is great!’ is what these walls proclaim; to know is to be wise,”
urged the king.

“Not always, sir,” said the barber; “for the majority of men and women
in the present know too much and are not too wise, although some deem
them wise for being cunning. There is as great a distance between wisdom
and cunning as there is between the heavens and the earth.”

“Barber,” shouted the king, “thou shalt get me a wife bright as the day,
pure as dew, and good as gold—one who shall not be afraid to look into
thy magic mirror!”

“Sir,” replied the barber, “the only magic about my mirror is that which
the evil consciences of the ladies of Granada conjure up. The simple
shepherdess on the mountain side would brave the magic power of any
mirror, strong in the consciousness of innocence; but would you marry
such a lowly one?”

“Such a woman is worthy to be a queen, for she is a pearl without
price,” answered the king. “Go, bid her come here; and, in the presence
of my assembled court, let the gentle shepherdess look into the mirror,
after thou hast told her of the danger of so doing.”

The barber was not long in bringing the shepherdess to court with him;
and it having been proclaimed throughout the city that the trial was
going to be made, the principal hall was soon filled with all the grand
ladies and knights of the king’s household.

When the shepherdess entered the royal presence she felt very shy at
being surrounded by so much grandeur; but she knew enough about her own
sex to understand that they inwardly considered her not quite so ugly as
they audibly expressed her to be.

The king was very much pleased with her appearance, and received her
very kindly, telling her that if she desired to be his wife she would
have to gaze into the magic mirror, and if she had done aught which was
not consistent with her maidenly character, the mirror would show as
many stains on its surface as there might be blemishes on her heart.

“Sir,” replied the maiden, “we are all sinners in the sight of God, they
say; but I am a poor shepherdess, and surrounded by my flock. I have
known what it is to be loved, for, when the sheep have perceived danger,
they have come to me for protection. The wild flowers have been my only
ornament, the sky almost my only roof, and God my truest and best
friend. Therefore, I fear not to look into that magic mirror; for
although I have no ambition to become queen, yet am I not lacking in
that pride which is born of the desire to be good.”

Saying which, she walked up to the mirror and gazed into it, blushing
slightly, perhaps at the sight of her own beauty, which before she had
only seen portrayed in the still brook.

The court ladies surrounded her; and when they saw that the magic mirror
showed no stains on its surface, they snatched it from her, and

“There is no magic in it—a cheat has been put on us!”

But the king said—

“No, ladies; you have only yourselves to thank. Had you been as innocent
as this shepherdess, who is going to be my queen, you would not have
dreaded looking into the mirror.”

After the marriage the barber was heard to say, that as the magic mirror
had now lost its virtue, who could tell but what this charm might be
restored to Granada?


There was once a princess who had a black man slave.

“Princess,” said the black slave one day, “I know that you love the good
Count of Yanno very much; but you cannot marry him, for he is already
married. Why not, then, marry me?”

“I love, as you say, the Count of Yanno, and I know that he is married;
but my father is a very powerful king, and he can render his marriage
void. As for you,” continued the princess, “I would rather marry the
lowest born man of my own race than a nigger!”

“Remember, princess, for how many years I have been your true slave—how
I used to look after you when you were a child. Did I not once save you
from the fangs of a wolf?”

“You need not tell me,” answered the princess, “that you love me as
slaves love their superiors; but should you ever speak again about
marrying me, I will tell my royal father.”

“If you mention the love that slaves generally have to their owners, I
will not contradict you; but I think that sometimes masters are more
unworthy the love of their slaves than the slaves are entitled to the
love of their masters,” said the slave.

“You belong to us by purchase or by inheritance,” continued the
princess, “and we do not belong to you. The white man gains the love of
the lady of his choice by deeds of arms; he bears on his lance the
banner embroidered by his lady-love, and, as a true knight, he makes
verses in her honour.”

“Chivalry, as you understand it, is to me a fable; for if one of your
pale-faced knights risk his life, it is on behalf of his family pride,
although he may mention his lady-love’s name with his dying breath; but
if a slave lay down his life for his master or mistress, it is only
reckoned a part of his duty,” urged the slave.

“I command you not to speak to me again like this,” said the princess,
“or I will have you severely punished.”

The poor slave was very sorrowful when he heard the princess, whom he
loved so dearly, threaten to have him punished. “Death is the leveller
of all ranks and of all races,” said he; “the dust of the dead white man
and of the nigger are alike; in death, the king is no more than the
beggar. I will run away from this palace and seek refuge in the northern
provinces, where, if the climate be colder, they say the hearts of the
people are warmer.”

That very night did Mobarec—for that was the name of the slave—leave
the palace of his lady-love, the beautiful banks of the Guadalquivir,
and his favourite orange-groves. During the daytime he hid in the caves
on the mountain-sides, and as soon as night set in he would continue his

When he had been travelling like this for some weeks, and as he was
making his way through a dark forest, he saw a brilliant light in the
distance; and as he was very hungry, he hoped that it might be from some
house where he might get food and rest. As he walked on he discovered
that the light was not from a house, but that it was caused by a large
bonfire, around which some men and women were seated.

Fearing that he might be in the neighbourhood of robbers, he took the
precaution of approaching by hiding behind the trees; and when he got
near enough to the group to see them plainly, he observed that close to
the fire there was a very old woman standing with her arms over the
fire, and holding a child which screamed as if it were being burned.

Mobarec thought that the child was going to be roasted, and did not know
that what he saw was simply the act of disenchantment, which was being
carried out by the wise woman of the village on a child born with the
evil eye.

Approaching still nearer, he heard the crone mutter some words, which
Mobarec imagined to be used in order to stifle the piteous cries of the

The crone suddenly commenced shrieking and jumping over the fire, while
the men and women who surrounded her beat the air with big sticks, which
is done when the evil one is supposed to be leaving the body of the

Just at this moment Mobarec happened to show himself from behind the
tree, when he was immediately observed by the wise woman, who directed
all eyes to him; and their horror can be easily imagined when it is said
that Mobarec was the first nigger who had ever visited the northern
parts of Spain.

Mobarec, on perceiving that he was seen, thought he would smile, in
order to show them that he was a friend; but this made him look all the
more terrible by the glare of the fire, and, thinking that he was the
evil one that had just left the body of the child, they first of all
crossed themselves and then ran towards Mobarec with their bludgeons,
who, without more ado, took to his feet and was soon lost in the
darkness of the forest.

Having baffled his pursuers, Mobarec sat down to rest and to think over
what he had seen.

“I suppose,” said he to himself, “that these people were trying to make
a king by burning a white child until he became black, for I could see
that they were not going to eat it. I have been told that in some parts
they will only have black kings, and I am certainly in one of these

Musing over this idea for a long time, he at last fell asleep, and
dreamt that he had arrived at a large city, where the people had crowded
to meet him, and that he was placed on a magnificent throne, crowned
king, and had married his dear princess.

Then he thought he was in a magnificent bed-chamber, and that the
sheets of his bed were fringed with fine lace; but purposing to raise
the richly embroidered clothes a little higher, as he felt cold, he
placed his hands on some stinging nettles, which made him wake and look

The day was already commencing; the timid rabbit was lurking about the
dew-spangled leaves; the linnets were hopping about from branch to
branch, and the wheels of some market carts were heard creaking in the

Mobarec got up, and looking at himself in the waters of a passing
stream, he was surprised to see that he had a golden crown on his head.
It was, however, but the morning sun shining through the thick foliage
above him.

“I was a slave last night,” exclaimed Mobarec; “this morning I am a

He noticed the direction from which the noise of the cart wheels
proceeded, and hurrying thither, he soon came within sight of some
people who were carrying their wares to market.

Mobarec gradually approached them, and, seeing him advance, they
dropped their baskets, and would have run away if fear had not deprived
them of the power to do so.

“Be not afraid,” said the nigger, “for I am your king. Hitherto you have
had to work for the rich, but now the rich shall work for you. There
shall be no poverty in my kingdom, no hunger, and no sorrow. Bad
husbands shall take the place of the asses at the mills, and quarrelsome
wives shall have a borough to themselves. Go,” continued he, addressing
the crowd, “and tell the inhabitants of the city that I am approaching.”

“Long live the king!” shouted his hearers. “Long live the good king who
will free us from our quarrelsome wives!” exclaimed the men; “And who
will send our cruel husbands to replace the asses at the mills!”
shrieked the women. “Long live the king who will banish poverty!” cried
all together.

Having given vent to their enthusiasm, they hurried off to the city, and
the good news soon spread that a new king was coming, and that they
would all be rich.

Then they prepared a richly caparisoned white mule, with tinkling bells
round its neck and a cloth of gold on its back, for the black king’s
use, and they went out in a body to meet him.

Having approached Mobarec, they prostrated themselves before him, and
were at first very much afraid; but hearing him address the mule in a
grand speech, they rose and listened.

“Sir,” said Mobarec to the mule, “I feel highly flattered by this
ovation, and I confer on you here the post of principal minister, which
you richly deserve for the sagacity you have shown in preserving silence
when all want to make themselves heard. You will see that the poor are
provided for, and that they provide for the wants of their king and his
chosen ministers, of which you are the chief. People,” exclaimed
Mobarec, “behold your king and his minister! And from this day forward
let every man and woman in my kingdom strive to be as sure-footed,
patient, and silent as this my minister.”

It must be confessed that the people were somewhat surprised at the turn
events had taken; but as, recently, they had had a most unjust chief
minister, they contented themselves with the knowledge that his
successor could not introduce any cruel measures.

With similar ideas occupying them, they retraced their way to the city,
preceded by their black king and his chief minister.

Arrived at the palace, Mobarec entered and took his seat on the throne,
his chief minister standing close to the lowest step. He then addressed
the audience as follows—

“I make it known that the rich persons of this kingdom shall, if so
required, give up their wealth to the poor, who will then become rich;
but, as I would not that those who have hitherto been poor should forget
their duty to their more unfortunate fellow-creatures, I declare that
they shall have to contribute not only to the maintenance of the king,
his ministers, and the state, but also to the requirements of those at
whose expense they have themselves acquired riches. I also command that
all disputes shall be submitted to the superior wisdom of my chief
minister, without whose verbal consent it shall be treasonable to have
recourse to blows; and I further require of my liege subjects that they
engage in no war with neighbouring states without taking their wives to

This speech was very much applauded, and the white mule, being
unaccustomed to the surroundings, commenced braying so loudly that
Mobarec got up from his throne and said—

“Listen to the voice of my minister; he bids you all be silent while you
pay him homage.”

Then one by one they passed before the mule, bowing to him; and when
this ceremony was finished Mobarec informed them that all real kings
were of his colour, but that he had resolved on marrying the daughter of
Xisto, false king of Andalusia; and, therefore, he commanded twenty of
his subjects to proceed to that kingdom, and bring back with them the
fair Princess Zeyn, which was the name of the princess he loved.

“If they ask you what I am like, say that you have never seen one like
me, and that my wisdom is only approached by that of my chief minister,”
said Mobarec.

At the end of a month the twenty men returned with the lovely princess,
who, until her marriage-day, was lodged in another palace.

Great preparations were made for the occasion, excepting in one borough
of the city, which was deserted, for it had been assigned to all
quarrelsome wives.

The princess was naturally very anxious to see her future husband, but
etiquette forbade her doing so. Often had she thought of her runaway
slave and lover. Absence had made her fonder of him, and little by
little he had grown less black to her imagination.

At last the wedding-day arrived. Mobarec, attended by all his court,
proceeded to the princess’s palace, dressed in magnificent apparel, his
strong black arms bare, but with splendid gold bracelets round them, and
a belt of the same metal round his waist. His coat of mail was
interwoven with threads of gold; but his heart required no gold to set
it off, it was purity itself.

As soon as the princess saw him she recognized her former slave, and,
hurrying to meet him, threw her arms round his neck, exclaiming—

“I am not worthy to marry so good a man; but if you will have me, I am

“Princess,” exclaimed Mobarec, “if I before was thy slave, I am none the
less so now; for since the first man was created, beautiful woman has
made all men captives. If I have aught to ask of thee now, ’tis that thy
dominion over thy new subjects shall be as pleasant to them as it will
be delightful to me.”

From so wise a king and good a queen the people derived great benefit;
disputes never went beyond the ears of the chief minister, and, in the
words of the immortal barber and poet of the city, “the kingdom
flourished under the guidance of a mule; which proves that there are
qualities in the irrational beings which even wisest ministers would do
well to imitate.”


It is a point of faith accepted by all devout Portuguese that
thirty-three baths in the sea must be taken on or before the 24th of
August of every year. Although the motive may not seem to be very
reasonable, still the result is of great advantage to those believers
who occupy thirty-three days in taking the thirty-three baths, for
otherwise the majority of them would never undergo any form of ablution.

That the demon is loose on the 24th of August is an established fact
among the credulous; and were it not for the compact entered into
between St. Bartholomew and the said demon, that all who have taken
thirty-three baths during the year should be free from his talons, the
list of the condemned would be much increased.

Now, there was a very powerful baron, whose castle was erected on the
eastern slope of the Gaviarra, overlooking the neighbouring provinces of
Spain, and he had always refused to take these thirty-three baths, for
he maintained that it was cowardly on the part of a man to show any fear
of the demon. His castle was fully manned; the drawbridge was never left
lowered; the turrets were never left unguarded; and a wide and deep
ditch surrounded the whole of his estates, which had been given him by
Affonso Henriques, after the complete overthrow of the Saracens at
Ourique, in which famous and decisive battle the baron had wrought
wondrous deeds of bravery.

All round the castle were planted numerous vines, which had been brought
from Burgundy by order of Count Henry, father of the first Portuguese
king; and in the month of August the grapes are already well formed, but
the hand of Nature has not yet painted them. Among the vines quantities
of yellow melons and green water-melons were strewn over the ground,
while the mottled pumpkins hung gracefully from the branches of the

In front of the castle was an arbour, formed of box-trees, under which a
lovely fountain had been constructed; and here, in the hot summer
months, would wander the baron’s only daughter, Alina. She was
possessed of all the qualities, mental and physical, which went towards
making the daughter of a feudal lord desired in marriage by all the
gallants of the day; and as she was heiress to large estates, these
would have been considered a sufficient prize without the said
qualities. But Alina, for all this, was not happy, for she was enamoured
of a handsome chief, who, unfortunately, wore the distinctive almexia,
which proved him to be a Moor, and, consequently, not a fit suitor for
the daughter of a Christian baron.

“My father,” she would often soliloquize, “is kind to me, and professes
to be a Christian. My lover, as a follower of the Prophet, hates my
father, but, as a man, he loves me. For me he says he will do anything;
yet, when I ask him to become a Christian, he answers me that he will do
so if I can prevail on my father to so far conform with the Christian
law as to take the thirty-three baths; and this my father will not do.
What am I to do? He would rather fight the demon than obey the saint.”

One day, however, she resolved on telling her father about her courtship
with the young chief, Al-Muli, and of the only condition he made, on
which depended his becoming a convert to Christianity, which so
infuriated the baron that, in his anger, he declared himself willing to
meet the demon in mortal combat, hoping thus to free the world of him
and of the necessity of taking the thirty-three baths.

This so much distressed Alina, that when, during the afternoon of the
same day, Al-Muli met her in the arbour, she disclosed to him her firm
resolution of entering a convent, and spending the rest of her days

“This shall not be!” cried Al-Muli; and, seizing her round the waist, he
lifted her on to his shoulder, sped through the baronial grounds, and,
having waded through the ditch, placed her on the albarda of his horse
and galloped away.

Alina was so frightened that she could not scream, and she silently
resigned herself to her fate, trusting in the honour of her lover.

The alcazar, or palace, of Al-Muli was situated on the Spanish side of
the frontier; and, as they approached the principal gate, the almocadem,
or captain of the guard, hurried to receive his master, who instructed
him to send word to his mother that he desired of her to receive and
look after Alina. This done, he assisted his bride elect to dismount,
and, with a veil hiding her lovely features, she was ushered by
Al-Muli’s mother into a magnificently furnished room, and took a seat on
a richly embroidered cushion, called an almofada.

To her future mother-in-law she related all that referred to her
conversation with her father, and how she had been brought away from his
castle; and she further said that she very much feared the baron would
summon all his numerous followers to rescue her.

Al-Muli’s mother was a descendant of the Moors who first landed at
Algeziras, and from them had descended to her that knowledge of the
black art which has been peculiar to that race. She, therefore, replied
that although she could count on the resistance her almogavares, or
garrison soldiers, would offer to the forces of the baron, still she
would do her utmost to avoid a conflict. She then proceeded to another
room, in which she kept her magic mirror, and having closed the door, we
must leave her consulting the oracle.

The baron was not long in discovering the absence of his daughter, and
he so stormed about the place that his servants were afraid to come near

In a short time, however, his reason seemed to return to him, and he
sat down on his old chair and gave way to grief when he saw that his
Alina’s cushion was vacant.

“My child—my only child and love,” sobbed the old man, “thou hast left
thy father’s castle, and gone with the accursed Moor into the hostile
land of Spain. Oh, that I had been a good Christian, and looked after my
daughter better! I have braved the orders of good St. Bartholomew; I
would not take the thirty-three baths in the sea, and now I am

The baron suddenly became aware of the presence of a distinguished and
patriarchal looking stranger, who addressed him thus—

“You mortals only think of St. Barbara when it thunders. Now that the
storm of sorrow has burst on you, you reproach yourself for not having
thought of me and of my instructions. But I see that you are penitent,
and if you will do as I tell you, you will regain your daughter.”

It was St. Bartholomew himself who was speaking, and the baron, for the
first time in his life, shook in his shoes with fear and shame.

“Reverend saint,” at last ejaculated the baron, “help me in this my
hour of need, and I will promise you anything—and, what is more, I will
keep my promises.”

“And you had better do so,” continued the saint; “for not even Satan has
dared to break his compact with me. You don’t know how terrible I can
be!”—here the saint raised his voice to such a pitch that the castle
shook. “Only let me catch you playing false with me, and I’ll—I’ll—I
don’t know what I’ll do!”

“Most reverend saint and father, you have only to command me and I will
obey,” murmured the affrighted baron—“I will indeed. Good venerable St.
Bartholomew, only give me back my daughter—that is all I ask.”

“Your daughter is now in the hands of Al-Muli, her lover, who dwells in
a stronger castle than yours, and who, moreover, has a mother versed in
the black art. It is no good your trying to regain her by the force at
your disposal; you must rely on me—only on me. Do you understand?”
asked the saint.

“Yes, dear, good, noble, and venerable saint, I do understand you; but
what am I to do?”

“Simply follow me, and say not a word as you go,” commanded the

The baron did as he was told; and out from the castle the two went
unseen by any one. The baron soon perceived that he was hurrying through
the air, and he was so afraid of falling that he closed his eyes. All at
once he felt that his feet were touching the ground; and, looking around
him, what was his delight to find himself close to his dear daughter

“Father—dear father!” exclaimed Alina; “how did you come here so
quickly, for I have only just arrived? And how did you pass by the

The baron was going to tell her, but the saint, in a whisper, enjoined
silence on this point; and the baron now noticed that the saint was

“Never mind, dear child, how I came here; it is enough that I am here,”
replied her father. “And I intend taking you home with me, dear Alina.
The castle is so lonely without you;” and the old man sobbed.

At this moment Al-muli entered the chamber, and, seeing Alina’s father
there, he thought there had been treachery among his guards; so striking
a gong that was near him, a number of armed men rushed in.

“How now, traitors!” said he. “How have you been careful of your duties
when you have allowed this stranger to enter unobserved?”

The soldiers protested their innocence, until at last Al-muli commenced
to think that there must be some secret entrance into his castle.

“Search everywhere!” screamed the infuriated Moor. “Have the guard
doubled at all the entrances, and send me up the captain!”

Al-muli’s instructions were carried out, and the captain reported that
all was safe.

“Old man,” said the Moor, addressing the baron, “I have thee now in my
power. Thou wert the enemy of my noble race. To thy blind rage my
predecessors owed their downfall in Portugal. Thy bitter hatred carried
thee to acts of vengeance. Thou art now in my power, but I will not harm
one of thy grey hairs.”

“Moor,” replied the baron, with a proud look, “can the waters of the
Manzanares and of the Guadalquivir join? No! And so cannot and may not
thy accursed race join with ours! Thy race conquered our people, and in
rising against thine we did but despoil the despoiler.”

“Thy logic is as baseless as thy fury was wont to be,” answered the
Moor. “Though hundreds of miles separate the Manzanares from the
Guadalquivir, yet do they meet in the mightier waters of the ocean.
Hadst thou said that ignorance cannot join hands with learning, thou
wouldst have been nearer the mark, or that the Cross can never dim the
light of the Crescent.”

These words were spoken in a haughty manner; and as Al-muli turned round
and looked upon his splendidly arrayed soldiers, who surrounded the
chamber, his pride seemed justified.

“Thou canst not crush me more than thou hast done, vile Moor,” said the
baron. “Thou hast robbed me of my daughter, not by force of arms, but
stealthily, as a thief at midnight. If any spark of chivalry warmed thy
infidel blood thou wouldst blush for the act thou hast wrought. But I
fear thee not, proud Moor; thy warriors are no braver than thy women.
Dare them to move, and I will lay thee at my feet.”

“Oh, my father, and thou, dear Al-Muli, abandon these threats, even if
you cannot be friends.”

“No, maiden,” exclaimed Al-Muli; “I will not be bearded in my own den.
Advance, guards, and take this old man to a place of safety below!”

But not a soldier moved; and when Al-Muli was about to approach them to
see what was the matter with them, his scimitar dropped from his hand,
and he fell on the ground.

“What charm hast thou brought to bear on me, bold baron,” screamed the
Moor, “that I am thus rendered powerless? Alina, if thou lovest me, give
me but that goblet full of water, for I am faint.”

Alina would have done as her lover bade her, but just then the figure of
the venerable St. Bartholomew was seen with the cross in his right hand.

“Moor and infidel,” said the saint, “thou hast mocked at this symbol of
Christianity, and thou hast done grievous injury to this Christian
baron; but thou hast been conscientious in thy infidelity. Nor am I slow
to recognize in thy race a knowledge of the arts and sciences not yet
extended to the Christian. Yet, for all this, thou art but an infidel.
Let me but baptize thee with the water thou wouldst have drunk, and all
will yet be well.”

“No, sir saint,” answered the Moor. “When in my castle strangers thus
treat me rudely, I can die, but not bend to their orders. If yonder
baron is a true Christian, why has he not taken the thirty-three baths
enjoined by thee?”

“And if my father do take them, wilt thou, as thou didst promise me,”
said Alina, “be converted to the true faith?”

“The Moor breaks not his promise. As the golondrina returns to its nest
in due season, so the man of honour returns to his promise.” Then,
turning to the baron, he demanded to know if he would comply with the
saint’s instructions.

“Yes,” answered the baron; “I have promised the good saint everything,
and I will fulfil my promises. Al-Muli, if you love my daughter, love
her faith also, and I will then have regained not only a daughter, but a
son in my old age.”

“The promise of the Moor is sacred,” said Al-Muli. “Baptize me and my
household; and do thou, good baron, intercede for me with the venerable
saint, for I like not this lowly posture.”

“My dear Al-Muli,” sobbed Alina for joy, “the Cross and the Crescent are
thus united in the mightier ocean of love and goodwill. May the two
races whom one God has made be reconciled! And to-morrow’s sun must not
set before we all comply with the condition imposed by St.

The saint was rejoiced with the work he had that day done, and declared
that the churches he liked men to construct are those built within them,
where the incense offered is prayer, and the work done, love. “As for
the baths, they are but desirable auxiliaries,” said he.


From the gates of the palace, situated on a gentle eminence in the
vicinity of Ecija, down to the banks of the Genil, the ground was
covered with olive-trees; and the wild aloes formed a natural and strong
fence around the property of the White Cat of Ecija, whose origin,
dating back to the days of Saracenic rule, was unknown to the liberated

There was a great mystery attaching to the palace and its occupants; and
although the servants of the White Cat were to all appearances human
beings, still, as they were deaf and dumb, and would not, or could not,
understand signs, the neighbours had not been able to discover the
secret or mystery.

The palace was a noble building, after the style of the alcazar at
Toledo, but not so large; and the garden at the rear was laid out with
many small lakes, round which, at short distances, stood beautifully
sculptured statues of young men and women, who seemed to be looking
sorrowfully into the water. Only the brain and hand of an exceptionally
gifted artist could have so approached perfection as to make the statues
look as if alive. At night strings of small lamps were hung round the
lakes, and from the interior of the palace proceeded strains of sweet,
but very sad music.

Curiosity had long ceased to trouble the neighbours as to the mysterious
White Cat and her household, and, with the exception of crossing
themselves when they passed by the grounds, they had given up the affair
as incomprehensible.

Those, however, who had seen the White Cat, said that she was a
beautiful creature; her coat was like velvet, and her eyes were like

One day a knight in armour, and mounted on a coal-black charger, arrived
at the principal hostelry in Ecija, and on his shield he bore for his
coat of arms a white cat rampant, and, underneath, the device,

Having partaken of some slight repast, he put spurs to his horse and
galloped in the direction of the palace of the White Cat; but as he was
not seen to return through the town, the people supposed that he had
left by some other road.

The White Cat was seen next day walking about in the grounds, but she
seemed more sorrowful than usual.

In another month’s time there came another knight fully equipped, and
mounted on a grey charger. On his shield he also displayed a white cat,
with the device, “I win or die.” He also galloped off to the palace, or
alcazar, and was not seen to return; but next day the White Cat was
still more sorrowful.

In another month a fresh knight appeared. He was a handsome youth, and
his bearing was so manly that a crowd collected. He was fully equipped,
but on his shield he displayed a simple red cross. He partook of some
food, and then cantered out of the town with his lance at rest. He was
seen to approach the palace, and as soon as he thrust open the gate with
his lance, a terrific roar was heard, and then a sheet of fire flashed
from the palace door, and they saw a horrid dragon, whose long tail, as
it lashed the air, produced such a wind that it seemed as if a gale had
suddenly sprung up.

But the gallant knight was not daunted, and eagerly scanned the dragon
as if to see where he might strike him.

Suddenly it was seen that the dragon held the White Cat under its
talons, so that the Knight of the Cross in charging the dragon had to
take care not to strike her. Spurring his horse on, he never pulled up
till he had transfixed the dragon with his lance, and, jumping off the
saddle, he drew his sword and cut off the monster’s head.

No sooner had he done this than he was surrounded by ten enormous
serpents, who tried to coil round him; but as fast as they attacked him,
he strangled them.

Then the serpents turned into twenty black vultures with fiery beaks,
and they tried to pick out his eyes; but with his trusty blade he kept
them off, and one by one he killed them all, and then found himself
surrounded by forty dark-haired and dark-eyed lovely maidens, who would
have thrown their arms around him, but that he, fearing their intentions
were evil, kept them off; when, looking on the ground, he saw the White
Cat panting, and heard her bid him “strike.”

He waited no longer, but struck at them and cut off their heads, and
then saw that the ground was covered with burning coal, which would have
scorched the White Cat and killed her, had not the gallant knight raised
her in his arms. He then placed her on his shield, and as soon as she
touched the cross she was seen to change into a beautiful maiden, and
all the statues round the lakes left their positions and approached her.

As soon as she could recover herself sufficiently to speak, she
addressed the knight as follows—

“Gallant sir, I am Mizpah, only daughter of Mudi Ben Raschid, who was
governor of this province for many years under the Moorish king,
Almandazar the Superb. My mother was daughter of Alcharan, governor of
Mazagan, and she was a good wife and kind mother. But my father
discovering that she had forsaken the faith of her fathers, and had
embraced the religion of the Cross, so worried her to return to her
childhood’s faith that she died broken-hearted. Then he married again,
and his second wife, my stepmother, was a very wicked woman. She knew
that I was a Christian at heart, and that my lover was also a Christian;
so one day, when my father was holding a banquet, she said to him,
‘Mudi Ben Raschid, the crescent of the Holy Prophet is waning in thy
family—thy daughter is a renegade!’

“Then he was very much annoyed, and exclaimed that he would his palace
and his riches were made over to the enemy of mankind and I turned into
a cat, than that so great a stain should fall on his family. No sooner
had he finished speaking than he fell dead and his wicked wife also, and
I was turned into a cat; my lover, Haroun, and all my young friends were
turned into stone, and my servants were stricken deaf and dumb. Many a
brave knight has been here to try and deliver me; but they all failed,
because they only trusted in themselves, and were therefore defeated.
But thou, gallant knight, didst trust more on the Cross than on thyself,
and thou hast freed me. I am, therefore, the prize of thy good sword;
deal with me as thou wilt.”

The Knight of the Cross assured her that he came from Compostella, where
it was considered a duty to rescue maidens in distress, and that the
highest reward coveted was that of doing their duty. He had in various
parts of the world been fortunate enough in freeing others, and he had
still more work before him. He trusted that the lovely Mizpah might long
be spared to Haroun, and, saluting her, he galloped off.

Then was the wedding held, at which all the people from Ecija attended;
and the bridegroom, rising, wished prosperity to the good knight, St.
James of Compostella, who had been the means of bringing about so much


Down the slopes of the neighbouring mountains were heard the stirring
sounds of the bagpipes and drums, and at short intervals a halfpenny
rocket would explode in mid-air, streaking the blue sky with a wreath of

Nearer and nearer came the sounds, and the villagers stood at their
cottage doors waiting for the musicians to pass. Next to the firing of
rockets nothing can be more heart-stirring than the martial sound of the
pipes and drums. The big drum was, on this occasion, played most
masterly by the auctioneer and clown of the parish church, called José
Carcunda, or Joseph the Hunchback.

José Carcunda was dressed in his gala uniform—cocked hat, scarlet coat
with rich gold lace embroidery, white trousers, and red morocco
slippers. He was a clever man, and could take many parts in the church
plays acted in public for the benefit of the faithful. Sometimes he was
Herod, at others, St. Joseph; again he would appear as Judas, and then
as Solomon; but in this latter capacity he had given some offence to the
vicar by appearing on the stage under the influence of drink.

Of all the weaknesses to which human flesh is heir, none is more
despised in Portugal than drunkenness. Wine is emblematical of that
stream which flowed from the Crucified on Calvary, and the abuse of such
a precious gift is not easily overlooked.

Within the narrow bounds of their primitive way of thinking are cast
some of the finest traits in the character of the Portuguese peasantry,
although, in many instances, to this very same source must be attributed
some of their peculiar ideas as to fate. They are fatalists to a very
great extent.

In Roman Catholic countries, the Sabbath is remembered by attending mass
in the morning, and by amusements in the afternoon. No public-house,
with its glittering lights within, with its bright and cosy fire, and
with its grand display of mirrors and pictures, invites the peasant to
step inside and gossip about his neighbours, while sipping the genial
juice of the grape, or the _fire-water_ that gives to the eye a
supernatural brightness, and to the tongue a rush of foolish language.
There is no law against such houses, but there is a popular prejudice.

José Carcunda was heard to say, after he had been guilty of drinking to
excess when attired as Solomon, that his faithful dog Ponto refused to
accompany him home on that occasion; “And as the creature stared at me,”
said he, “I could see shame and sorrow mingling in his eyes.”

“There comes the Carcunda!” exclaimed the village belle, Belmira. “He is
half hidden by the drum; but to-morrow we shall see him at early mass,
when the good St. Anthony is to be raised to the rank of major.”

“Yes,” said her lover, Manoel; “and it will be a grand sight, for the
priest showed me the _Gazette_ in which is the king’s warrant. St.
Anthony’s regiment is to arrive to-morrow, and after the image has
donned the uniform the soldiers will present arms, the bombs will
explode, rockets will be fired, and the band will play.”

As the musicians entered the village, heralding the grand entertainment
to be held next day, the people cheered them heartily, and followed them
to the church, situated on the top of a small hill, around which
bonfires were in course of preparation for the night.

A cart laden with water-melons, another with a pipe of green wine, and a
few stalls where sweetstuff was exposed for sale, formed the principal
feature of the fair.

The door of the church was thrown open, and the main altar was lit up
with many lights. The chapels on each side were festooned with garlands
of flowers; but that dedicated to the miraculous St. Anthony, junior
major in the 10th regiment of infantry, was the grandest of all, with
its magnificent silk draperies, and the altar decorated with flowers.

José Carcunda was a proud man that day. He had presided over all the
arrangements, and they had given great satisfaction. Belmira had set the
other girls the example of showing him their gratitude by kissing him.
He was so overwhelmed by their caresses that he tried to get clear of
them, lest his wife might be jealous; but it was of no use trying to
free himself, for they made him sit on a stone bench, and, handing him
a guitar, requested him to extemporize some verses:—

    “Fair ladies mine, I love the wine,
      But music I love better;
    Still stronger far than song divine,
      I love the ladies better.

    “I love the fields with flowerets bright,
      The birds with carol merry;
    I love the——”

“No, I cannot sing just now; I am too happy,” exclaimed the hunchback.
“I feel like the rich miser of Santillana, when he recollected that he
would be buried at the expense of the parish. So as my helpmate Joanna
come not here, I care not how long the troops delay in arriving. Ah,
Joanna is too good for me, as the runaway criminal said of the gallows;
and the older she gets the more I recognize it! Yes, Joanna is too good
for me and for this world; but we don’t make ourselves—no, we don’t do

Here José Carcunda shook his head very wisely, and looked at his
slippered feet with some pardonable pride.

“Look you here,” said one of his fair companions, “you are very stupid
to-day; you will not sing, nor will you dance. Will you, then, tell us
the tale about the sorrowful mule, and what befell her, or about the
merry friar who turned highwayman to enrich the Church, or about the
palaces of the enchanted Moors?”

“I will tell you something that happened to me when I was a young man,”
answered the hunchback.

“Know, then,” continued José Carcunda, “that in my younger days I was an
almocreve (muleteer), and owned six of the finest mules in the province
of the Beira. I used to attend the weekly fair held at the university
city, Coimbra, where I found a good market for my earthenware with which
I loaded the mules.

“Fortune had favoured me, and I had saved some gold crowns; and on
Sundays, when I had shaved and put on clean linen, I was the pride of
the village.

“One summer’s day, as I was leading my six mules, fully laden with pots
and pans, to Coimbra, a student, who was on the roadside, saluted me and

“‘Good José, I have a great favour to ask of you, and one that I know
you will not deny me.’

“‘Your excellency,’ said I, ‘has but to order, and I will obey, so long
as you place not my eternal happiness in jeopardy.’

“‘The saints forbid,’ answered the student, ‘that I should ask you to do
anything but what a Christian man should do! No, friend José, my errand
is indeed a strange and sad one; but I feel that I must be as true to
(with your leave) a mule as my profession requires me to be to a human

“‘What!’ exclaimed I, ‘are you under some spell, some wicked
enchantment, that you make promises to (with your excellency’s leave) a
mule, which is the accursed animal since the days of Bethlehem?’

“‘No, good friend,’ continued the sorrowful student; ‘I am under no
spell, but under a vow; for I have promised to convey some sad news to
(with your leave) that mouse-coloured mule of yours, and I feel that I
must break it gently to her.’

“‘Sir,’ said I, ‘you see before you a man who knows not the difference
between the _Credo_ and the _Paternoster_ when they are written; and
though I have heard say that if you want to see thieves you must get
inside a prison and look at the passers-by, still am I not inclined to
think that if you desire to see knaves you must look in at the windows
of the university. My mule (with your excellency’s permission) is but a
mule, and has no knowledge of sorrow or of language; therefore, of what
avail to speak to her?’

“‘You are much mistaken,’ answered the student, who now had tears in his
eyes, ‘for it is well known that even the irrational animals have
feelings, and they have been heard to speak. Good friend, grant me my
request, for, as I said before, I am under a vow.’

“‘Have your way, dear sir,’ said I; ‘but if the animal bites you, blame
not me. She is but a stubborn thing at the best of times.’

“The six mules were tied one to the other, and each had a big load of
pots and pans. They were standing in the middle of the road with their
gay trappings and bells about them; and as I looked at the
mouse-coloured one, I wondered what the student could have to say to her
and how he would say it; but, as you know, these men who frequent the
university are so learned that they can repeat the _Credo_ backwards
way, which is the great secret in the black art.

“The student, having obtained my permission to speak to the
mouse-coloured mule, approached her gradually, exclaiming at intervals,
‘Poor creature, how she will take it to heart! But I am under a vow. I
must tell her—I must; but it is so painful!’

“‘Senhor,’ I exclaimed, ‘you remind me of the Alcaide of Montijo, who
hesitated to approach his mother-in-law until she was gloved. What you
have to say, that say, and let me go my way.’

“‘Unthoughtful man!’ cried the student; ‘little you wot of the sad news
I have to break to that poor creature! To you a mule is but a
four-legged creature, the cathedral bell but a thing of brass, and the
university but the abode of the black art. You are absolutely ignorant,
sir,’ continued the student, ‘for which you have much to be thankful;
for if you were a student you would not sell earthenware pans, and would
therefore lose the profit which you now make; and were you a student,
you would at this moment be all of a tremble, for you would then know
that we are at this present moment standing over a frightful abyss that
will soon yawn to receive its prey.’

“I was now terribly frightened lest the student, in his calculations,
should have made the mistake of a minute, so I rushed to the foremost
mule so as to get her to lead the way out of the danger; but the student
prevented me, saying—

“‘Not that way, for you will fall into the pit. Let me first of all
whisper my news into the mouse-coloured mule’s ear, and all may yet be

“‘Hurry, then,’ said I, ‘or else we shall all be lost.’

“‘It is a very good thing to be in a hurry when you know what to do,’
answered the student; ‘but we must be cautious. Therefore, step lightly
that way until you reach yonder lofty tree and get up it; but, before
doing so, fill your pockets with stones.’

“I can assure you that I was not long in carrying out the student’s
instructions, and never have I trod so lightly on the ground as I did
that day. The student, as soon as he saw me half-way up the tree,
shouted out, ‘Here it comes! Oh, this is awful—just as I told her all
about it! Oh dear, oh dear!’

“I now noticed that the student was taking long jumps in the direction
of the tree up which I had climbed, and at every jump he would call out,
‘Shut your eyes, or you will become blind!’

“Then I heard a most dreadful noise, as if the end of the world had
come; but I could still hear the student crying out, ‘Shut your eyes,
good friend, or you will be blinded!’

“I have never been so terrified either before or since that day, and I
was also in considerable pain, as the stones which I had placed in the
pockets of my pants had, with climbing, almost sunk into me.

“After having kept my eyes closed for some time, I ventured on opening
them, and then I saw a sight which told me I was a ruined man. My mules
were rolling about in the dust, and all my pots and pans were wrecked.
The mouse-coloured mule, moreover, seemed to be demented; she rolled and
writhed so that it seemed as if she were in awful distress, and there
was no doubt but that she had dragged the others down with her.

“Suddenly I heard the voice of the student, and, looking down, I saw
that he was seated on a branch just below me. ‘Ah, poor creature,’ said
he, ‘how terribly she feels the bereavement! Let us descend,’ continued
he, ‘for the danger is now over, and we must, as Christian men, render
aid to the poor dumb animals.’ Saying which he slid down the tree, and I
after him as well as I could; and as soon as we again got on the road,
he bid me try to pacify the mouse-coloured mule, while he would do his
utmost to get the leader to get up.

“I saw that all my earthenware was broken, and I gave myself up to
grief. ‘Unlucky man that I am!’ I exclaimed. ‘What harm can I have done
to have deserved so great a punishment, and what, sir student, did you
say to yon mule to make her act so?’

“‘Alas, friend José,’ said he, ‘we of the educated class understand
resignation, but to such as you, as well as to the irrational creation,
is this virtue denied. You bemoan the loss of your earthenware; and
yonder dumb creature, with perhaps a glimmering of humanity about her,
but certainly with more reason than you, deplores the loss of a good and
beloved parent, who, on his death-bed, implored me to inform his
daughter when I should next see her that he had died thinking of her,
and that he bequeathed to her all he had to give, namely, the right of
pasturage over all the lands in Spain and Portugal, and as much more as
she could snatch from her neighbour when in the stable. Good-bye, friend
José; my vow is accomplished, and I leave you in peace with your mules.’

“‘And with the broken earthenware,’ said I, ‘and with my fortunes
blasted, and with my legs bleeding; and all because I met you!’

“‘Say not so, friend José, for had it not been for me you would most
assuredly have been swallowed up by the underground abyss. No, say not
so, nor yet complain of your mouse-coloured mule, for to lament the
death of a father is but natural.’

“The student walked quietly away, and I then set to making the mules get
up, which, after much trouble, I succeeded in doing; but noticing that
the mouse-coloured mule kept her head on one side as if in pain, I
examined her, and on looking into her ear I discovered the end of a
cigarette which that vile student had purposely dropped into it. I now
knew that I had been deceived; but the cheat had already disappeared,
so, like a wise man, I trudged home, sold my animals to pay my debts,
and, having nothing better to do, I married Joanna and became, as you
know, the church clown and auctioneer.”


There was a rich nobleman who had three sons; and the king, being very
fond of him, appointed the eldest son his page, the second his butler,
and the youngest his barber.

The barber fell in love with the king’s only daughter, who was equally
fond of him; and when this came to the ears of the king, he decided on
putting a stop to it; so he called for the princess, and said—

“I know that you are in love with my barber, and if you insist on
marrying him I will have you killed.”

The princess, on hearing her father say this, became very sorrowful, and
asked him to allow her one day for consideration, to which the king

She then went to her room, and getting together some of her finest
dresses, she made them up into a bundle, and left the palace by a
secret door.

For seven days and nights did the princess walk through the forest,
subsisting on wild fruit and the water from the rivulets. For seven days
and nights did her father seek for her, and, not finding her, he sent
for the barber, and told him that he must immediately go in search of
the princess, and if he did not bring her back within a year he should

At the end of the seventh day the princess was so tired that she could
not continue her journey; and being afraid of the wolves, she managed to
climb on to the first branch of a large oak-tree; and when there,
discovering that the trunk was hollow, she let herself slip down into
the hollow, and there rested.

She had not been long in her hiding-place when her lover, the barber,
approached, sighing, and saying to himself—

“Woe is me, for I shall never find the princess! There are so many
lovely damsels in Castille, and yet I must fall in love with the king’s
only daughter.”

The princess, hearing him speak, said in a disguised voice—

“Woe is the king’s daughter! There are so many gallants in Spain, and
yet she must fall in love with her father’s barber!”

The barber was much surprised to hear this apt rejoinder; but he could
not find out from whence the voice came. He looked about everywhere, and
at last, feeling sleepy, he lay down under the oak-tree where the
princess was hidden.

In a very short time the barber was fast asleep; and the princess,
hearing him breathe heavily, got out of her hiding-place, mounted the
barber’s horse, which the king had given him, and rode away with the
barber’s bundle of clothes, leaving her own in its place.

When she had ridden at full speed for some hours she dismounted, and
opening the barber’s bundle, she then disrobed herself and put on male

Next day she had arrived in the kingdom of Leon, and she rode up to the
king’s palace and offered her services to the king as barber.

The king, being much struck by the stately bearing of the stranger,
willingly accepted the proffered services.

When the real barber awoke and found his horse and clothes gone he was
much alarmed; but seeing a bundle close to him he opened it, and was
delighted to find his lover’s dresses in it.

Being a beardless youth, and very handsome, he bethought him of putting
on the princess’s finest dress; and as his hair was very long and curly,
according to the fashion of the day, he made a very pretty woman.

Foot-sore and weary, he at last arrived at the palace of the King of
Leon, and was admitted to the king’s presence as the daughter of the
neighbouring King of Castille.

The King of Leon was so charmed with the beauty of the new arrival that
he could not sleep, and so he sent for the barber, to whom he confided
his love.

The real princess was much astonished to hear that her lover was in the
palace, for she guessed it was he in female attire; but she kept quiet
until her lover was asleep in bed, and then she stole into his room, put
back his clothes, and took her own away.

Next morning when the real barber awoke and found his magnificent
dresses gone and his male attire restored to him he was indeed
surprised; but there was no help for it—he must again become a man and
a barber.

The princess put on her own clothes, and hid in a cupboard of the room.
When she saw her lover leave the room, and heard him go down the
staircase, she closed the door behind him and finished her toilet.

The king got up earlier than usual, for he was so anxious to see the new
arrival; but before doing so he sent for the barber to shave him.

They looked everywhere for him, but without success; and at last, in
despair, they went to the bedroom of the new arrival, and, knocking at
the door, intimated the king’s command that she should present herself.

The princess was ready; and, slipping past the courtiers, presented
herself before the king.

“Who are you?” inquired the king.

“I am the daughter of the King of Castille, as I informed your mercy
yesterday,” answered the princess.

“But where, then, is my barber?” rejoined the king.

“What does one king’s daughter know about another king’s barber?” said
the princess.

At this moment the real barber presented himself, and humbly begged the
king’s pardon for having deceived him.

“But who are you?” roared the king. “Are you a barber or a thief?”

“I am the youngest son of a marquess,” answered the youth, “a barber by
trade, and affianced to the daughter of the King of Castille.”

Then the princess stepped forward and explained everything to the king,
who was so interested with what he heard, that the princess and the
barber had to tell the tale over and over again to him. Then he said—

“I have been shaved by the King of Castille’s daughter, and I have
courted his barber. I will not be again deceived. They shall now be man
and wife for ever.”

This was the wise King of Leon.


Not far from the Garden of the Widows, in Burgos, lived a cobbler who
was so poor that he had not even smiled for many years. Every day he saw
the widow ladies pass his small shop on the way to and from the garden;
but in their bereavement it would not have been considered correct for
them to have bestowed a glance on him, and they required all the money
they could scrape together, after making ample provision for their
comfort—which, as ladies, they did not neglect—to pay for Masses for
the repose of the souls of their husbands, according to the doctrines of
the faith which was pinned on to them in childhood.

The priests, however, would sometimes bestow their blessing on Sancho
the cobbler; but beyond words he got nothing from the comforters of the
widows and of the orphans.

Some of the great families would have their boots soled by him; but
being very great and rich people, they demanded long credit, so that he
was heard to say that a rich man’s money was almost as scarce as virtue.

Now, one night, when he was about to close his shop, a lovely young
widow lady pushed her way by him into the shop, and sitting on the only
chair in the room, she bid him close the door immediately, as she had
something to say to him in confidence.

Being a true Spaniard, he showed no surprise, but obeyed orders, and
stood before the young widow lady, who, after looking at him carefully
for a minute, implored him to go upstairs and see that the windows were
secure and the shutters barred and bolted.

This done, he again stood before her, when she showed signs of fear, and
requested him to ensure against the doors being burst open by piling
what furniture he had against them and against the shutters; and then,
assuring herself that she was safe, she exclaimed—

“Ah, friend Sancho, it is good to beware of evil tongues. I come to you
because I know you to be honest and silent. To-night you must sleep on
the roof; get out through the skylight, and I will rest here.”

To refuse a lady’s commands, however singular they may be, is not in
the nature of a Spaniard, so Sancho got out through the skylight, when
the young widow began screaming, “Let me out, kind people—let me out!”

The cobbler was now very much afraid of the consequences, especially as
the night watchmen were banging against the street door, which they soon
forced, knocking all the furniture which had been placed against it into
the middle of the room.

When inside, they discovered the lovely young widow, who exclaimed—

“Good men, I am Guiomar, of Torrezon, widow of the noble Pedro de
Torrezon, and because my late husband was owing Sancho for soling a pair
of boots, I came here to pay the debt; but Sancho would have detained me
against my will. He is concealed on the roof of the house, and if you
leave me here he will murder me.”

Then she naturally fainted and screamed for so long a time that the
street was soon full of people who, hearing what had happened, cried out
against Sancho.

The watchmen having secured him, he was led before the alcaide, and,
being a poor man, he was sent to prison until such time as Donna
Guiomar should feel disposed to pardon him.

At the end of a year Donna Guiomar obtained his liberty, but on the
condition that he should forthwith proceed to Rome and do penance, which
was to count for the benefit of her deceased husband.

This act of piety on her part was very much approved of by the priests,
who required of Sancho that during the whole of his pilgrimage there he
should not shave, nor have his hair nor his nails cut. He was,
furthermore, to wear a suit of horse-hair cloth next to his skin, and
was to subsist solely on onions, garlic, maize bread, and pure water.

But liberty is so sweet that Sancho did not mind his hard fare, and he
went on his way to Rome repeating penitential prayers, while his hair
and beard grew until his head and face were nearly hidden.

Arrived at Rome, the people wondered much to see such a strange-looking
being; but when he opened his mouth to inquire his way to St. Peter’s,
so strong was the smell of onions and garlic that the people, accustomed
as they were to these vegetables, could not stand against it, and as
Sancho spoke in a foreign tongue they could not have understood him
very easily.

At last he met a priest who was kind enough to listen to him, and he
said he would be allowed audience of the Pope next morning with other
pilgrims, but that meantime he had better confess what his fault had

Sancho recounted all about the lovely young widow, and the priest very
properly admonished him for having dared to frighten a lady whose
anxiety respecting her deceased husband was quite enough of sorrow
without having it added to by being forcibly detained by a cobbler.

“It is a pity,” said the worthy priest, “that you were not handed over
to the inquisitorial brothers, for they would have burned you before you
were allowed to import the odour of all the fields of Spanish onions and
garlic into the Eternal City. It is a sign of the bad times that are
approaching when errant cobblers are allowed to vitiate the precincts of
St. Peter’s with their pestilential breath. To-morrow you will be
regaled with a view—mind, only a view—of his holiness’s toe, and then
you must depart this city.”

Sancho recognized the truth of what the good priest said, and, having
refreshed himself with some more onions and a glass of water, he lay
down to sleep behind one of the large stone pillars and slept until next
morning, when the large bell of the cathedral awoke him. He then hurried
in to the presence of the Pope, nor had he much difficulty in so doing,
for the other pilgrims were glad to get out of his way. Bowing low
before the golden chair, he exclaimed—

    “One weary soul, though cobbler he by trade,
      Comes here to seek a pardon for his sin;
    Most holy father, ere the daylight fade,
                          Oh, let me in!

    “From sunny Spain, where runs the Arlanzon,
      To thee, oh, father, come I now to crave
    That thou wilt raise Don Pedro Torrezon
                          From restless grave,

    “And to his widow him restore again.
      This done, dismiss me to my home in peace,
    To be thy servant as a priest in Spain,
                          And faith increase.”

To which the Pope replied—

    “We smelt thee from afar, oh, son of Spain;
      We know thy errand, and we grant thy prayer.
    Where onions shed their perfume, son, remain,
                          Thy presence spare.

    “Yes, spare us all thy Spanish odours strong;
      Return unto thy country, Sancho—go;
    And as a blessing on thy journey long,
                          Stoop, kiss our toe.”

And when Sancho got back to Burgos he was met by Don Pedro de Torrezon,
who, half in anger and half in sorrow, exclaimed—

    “Good Sancho, I would spend eternity
    Surrounded by the pains of purgat’ry,
    Than be restored unto this mortal life,
    Where purgat’ry is but the name for wife.”


When Spain was fortunately in possession of the enlightened Moors a
spirit of chivalry pervaded all classes, which degenerated after the
departure of Boabdil from Granada.

The Moorish blood permeated the veins of the majority of the Spaniards;
but a religious despotism completely subdued the minds of all, and
Spain, under the yoke of the Jesuits, became a land more famed for its
_autos da fé_ than for its progress in the fine arts and sciences,
which, to a very great extent, were ignored.

Some there were, however, in whom the blood of the Moors was stronger
than the faith in their new religion, which, however good in the
abstract, was most pernicious in its consequences.

It has been the abuse, not the use, of the Christian religion which has
made of the Spaniard what his conqueror, the Moor, would have most

In the province of Galliza is situated the village of Porrinho, lying in
a beautiful valley, and surrounded by meadow-land and fields of maize.

Here lived the merry grazier, Sebastian de las Cabras, famous for his
encounters with wolves, but looked down upon by his neighbours because
it was known that he was descended from the Moors.

In all the village there was not a man could handle the quarter-staff
like Sebastian, and so correct was his aim that, with a sling, he would
at a hundred yards hurl a stone and hit a bull between the eyes, and so
kill it.

With his knife he was equally skilful, for he could use the blade to
pick up the oil from his plate instead of licking it up with a spoon,
or, in a quarrel, make it find a sheath in the leg or arm of a rival.

Now, this Sebastian, with all his ingenuity and merriment, had, like
most men, a grievance; but, unlike most men’s grievances, his was
against the good St. Vincent, whose patched-up body (some of it, having
decayed, being filled up with wax) is entombed in different cathedrals
throughout Spain and Portugal, each cathedral professing to possess the
veritable body of the veritable saint.

But in this plurality of St. Vincent there is nothing singular; for did
they not fill three large ships with the eye-teeth of good St. James of
Compostella when they were written for from Rome, and did not the Pope
declare them all genuine teeth?

Spain, in her religious fanaticism, is no more like other countries than
Sebastian de las Cabras was like other men.

St. Vincent, be it known, is worshipped in the Peninsula as the guardian
saint against that horrible scourge, small-pox.

In Galliza it is declared all diseases and misfortunes in life were
produced in order that there should be patron saints; and this is just
as true as the saying in Leon, that wheat was produced so that there
might be stomachs.

Sebastian de las Cabras cared neither for the saints nor for the
sayings; he feared neither the law nor the evil one; but he quailed
before his wife, D. Barbara, whose beauty, like that of the demolished
alcazar at Ecija, was a thing of the past.

D. Barbara was, however, a woman who made herself respected; and of all
the saints in the calendar there was none for whom she had so great a
veneration as St. Vincent, who had saved her when suffering from

Not the three wives who got up from their graves in Merida and appeared
to the husband to whom they had all been married, produced a more
startling effect on that widower than D. Barbara on her husband
Sebastian, when she would visit him as he was tending his herds on the
mountain sides, for no woman ever had such a tongue. Even the Archbishop
of Compostella, in pity to the clergy of his diocese, had ordained that
D. Barbara needed no confession. He absolved her from all sin for the
love and veneration she had for St. Vincent, but blamed the good saint
for the mercy he had shown D. Barbara.

Sebastian de las Cabras had been to the tombs of St. Vincent in
Compostella, in Salamanca, Cadiz, Malaga, and Seville, to induce the
good saint to undo his good work; but the bodies were inexorable, and
Barbara continued to plague him with her tongue, and to mark him with
her nails.

Seeing that he could get no relief for his home troubles from St.
Vincent, Sebastian recollected the faith of his fathers, and bethought
of applying for advice to an old Moor who lived in the neighbouring

To this wise man he therefore went; and, after explaining matters, he
declared that he bore no ill-will to his wife, but rather to the saint,
for that it was owing to him that D. Barbara was spared.

“It is a difficult matter,” said the Moor, “and one that will require
great consideration and prudence before attempting to master it. You
Christians make saints to serve you, and because your interests are not
all alike you blame the saints for not doing what is obviously
impossible. Now, I know that he whom you call St. Vincent loved the
tongue of a woman no better than the scimitar of the Saracen, and for
this reason did he probably prefer to spare the life of D. Barbara than
be importuned by her in his place of rest.”

“What, then, would you advise me to do, for with D. Barbara I can no
longer live?”

“There are St. Nicholas, St. Tiburtius, St. Bartholomew, and others who
equally fear the noise of a woman’s tongue; but little St. Francis died
stone-deaf, and being naturally of an envious disposition, nothing
would please him better than to revenge himself on his colleagues by
foisting D. Barbara on to them.”

“But if little St. Francis be deaf, how shall I make him hear my
complaint?” demanded Sebastian.

“Thou art no true Catholic if thou knowest not the weakness of the
saints in general, but of their keepers here on earth in particular.
Thou mayest shout thyself deaf, dance, and jump, but they may not hear
thee; but if thou showest them the bright yellow gold thou wilt be heard
and understood, even if thou hadst not a voice, and wert as dumb as thou
wouldst wish D. Barbara to be,” answered the Moor.

“I will away, then, to the market and sell some of my finest beasts, and
the money which I receive for them will I gladly bestow on little St.
Francis,” said Sebastian.

The oxen were sold, and Sebastian hurried away with the money to the
shrine of little St. Francis; and after devoutly praying, he proceeded
to count out the gold pieces one by one; and great was his joy when he
noticed the saint commence to move, open his eyes, stretch out his
hands, and declare that Sebastian’s petition should be granted.

That very night when Sebastian and his wife were in bed, and the latter
was delivering a lengthy lecture on the coarseness and want of breeding
in snoring when a lady was speaking, little St. Francis appeared at the
bedside with a mirror in his hand.

“Barbara,” said the saint, “thy virtues are known to us, and as a reward
we have decreed that thou shalt be restored to youth and beauty, which
thou shalt thyself behold when looking into this mirror; but beware no
angry or vain words pass thy lips, for then will thy lack of modesty be
punished by hideous old age and infirmity, therefore, beware!” And
saying this, he left the now happy pair—Barbara admiring herself in the
mirror by the light of a cruse, and Sebastian enjoying that unbroken
sleep which he had not known for years.

The mirror never passed out of D. Barbara’s possession, and was never
known to leave her hand until her frame, gradually tired out by want of
rest, succumbed to the fascination of little St. Francis’s gift and the
wisdom of the friendly Moor.


There was once a prince who was going to visit his lady-love, the only
daughter of a neighbouring king; and as he required the services of an
attendant, he sent for his barber, who was known in the town for his
very good behaviour, as well as for his eccentric ways.

“Pablo,” said the prince, “I want you to go with me to Granada to assist
me on my journey. I will reward you handsomely, and you shall lack for
nothing in the way of food. But you must don my livery, salute me in the
fashion of Spain, hold my stirrup when I mount, and do everything that
is required of a servant. Above all, you must not let me oversleep
myself, for otherwise I shall be late in arriving at Granada.”

“Sir,” answered the barber, “I will be as true to you as the dog was to
St. Dominic. When you are sleeping I will be on guard, and when you are
awake I will see that no harm approaches you; but I beg you not to be
annoyed with me if, in trying to be of service to you, I do unwillingly
cause you any annoyance.”

“Good Pablo,” continued the prince, “say no more, but return to your
shop, pack up your linen, and come here as soon as you can this evening.
If I am in bed when you arrive, you will know that it is because I must
get up to-morrow morning by five o’clock, and see to it that you let me
not sleep beyond that time.”

Pablo hurried home, packed up his few articles of underclothing, and
then proceeded to the principal wine tavern to tell his friends of his
good fortune. They were all so pleased to hear of Pablo’s good luck that
they drank to his health, and he returned the compliment so often that
at last the wine was beginning to tell on him, so he bid his friends
good-bye and left, saying to himself, “I must wake his highness at five
o’clock.” This he kept repeating so often that he had arrived at the
large courtyard of the palace before he was aware of it.

The prince’s bedroom looked into the courtyard, and Pablo saw by the dim
light that was burning in the room that the prince had retired to rest.

Afraid lest the prince should think he had forgotten all about awaking
him, and that he might therefore be keeping awake, Pablo seized a long
cane, with which he tapped at the window of the prince, and kept on
tapping until the prince appeared, and opened the window, shouting out—

“Who is there? Who wants me?”

“It is I,” said Pablo. “I have not forgotten your orders; to-morrow
morning I will wake your highness at five.”

“Very good, Pablo; but let me sleep awhile, or else I shall be tired

As soon as the prince had disappeared Pablo commenced thinking over all
the princes of whom he had heard, and he had become so interested in the
subject that when he heard the cock crow, imagining it was daybreak, he
again seized the cane and tapped loudly at the window.

The prince again lifted up the sash, and cried out—

“Who is it? What do you want? Let me sleep, or else I shall be tired

“Sir,” exclaimed the barber, “the cock has already crowed, and it must
be time to rise.”

“You are mistaken,” replied the prince, “for it is only half an hour ago
since you woke me; but I am not annoyed with you.”

Pablo was now sorely troubled in his mind because he thought he might
give offence to the prince, and so he kept revolving in his mind all
that his mother had told him about the anger of princes, and how much it
was to be dreaded. This thought so perplexed him that he resolved on
putting an end to the life of the cock that had caused the mistake. He
therefore proceeded to the poultry-yard close by, and seeing the
offender surrounded by the hens, he made a rush at him, which set all
the fowls cackling as if a fox had broken in.

The prince, hearing the noise, hurried to the window, and in a loud
voice inquired what the noise was all about.

“Sir,” said Pablo, “I was but trying to punish the disturber of your
rest. I have got hold of him now, and your highness may go to sleep
without further care, as I will not forget to waken you.”

“But,” continued the prince, “if you waken me again before it is time, I
will most decidedly punish you.” Saying which he again retired to rest.

“Since the days when cocks crew in the Holy Land they have always
brought sorrow into this world,” inwardly ejaculated Pablo. “His proper
place is in the pan, and that is where he should go if I had my way.”

All at once Pablo commenced to feel very sleepy, so he walked up and
down the yard to keep awake; but becoming drowsy he sank on the ground,
and was soon so fast asleep that he dreamt a nigger prince was attacking
him, which made him scream so terribly that it woke, not only the
prince, but also all the dogs in the neighbourhood.

The prince again rushed to the window, and hearing Pablo scream out,
“Don’t murder me, I will give you all!” hurried down into the yard, and
seeing how matters stood bestowed such a hearty kick on Pablo that he
jumped up.

The frightened barber beholding the prince near to him, took to his
heels, and ran home as fast as he could.

When he had got into bed he began regretting that he had run away from
the prince’s service, so he got up again, saying to himself, “The
prince shall have a sharper spur than I could ever buckle on;” and,
proceeding to the principal door of the palace, he wrote the following
words with chalk, “Pablo has gone before your highness to court the
Princess of Granada himself.”

This had the desired effect, for when the prince arose in the morning
and was leaving the palace alone, he read the words, and they caused him
to be so jealous that he performed the distance in half the time he
would otherwise have taken.

Pablo after that used to say that “a jealous man on horseback is first
cousin to a flash of lightning and to a true Spaniard.”


It was in a lovely pine-wood that little Mirabella wandered lonely and
hungry. The sand under her feet was very cool, and the tufted pine-trees
sheltered her from the fierce rays of the sun.

Through an avenue of tall but bare pine-trees she could see the big sea,
which she looked upon for the first time. Faint and hungry as she was,
she could not help wishing to be nearer the waves; but she recollected
what her father had once told her, that little children should be
careful not to go too near the sea when they are alone.

Her father, however, was dead. He was King of the Silver Isles, and for
his goodness had been loved by all his subjects. Mirabella was his only
child; and her mother having married again, she wanted to get rid of
Mirabella, so that her little boy Gliglu might inherit the crown. So
she ordered one of her servants to lead Mirabella into the pine-wood far
away and leave her there, hoping the wolves would find her and eat her.

When Mirabella was born, her aunt, who was a fairy, gave her a silver
bell, which she tied around the child’s neck with a fairy chain that
could not be broken. In vain did her mother try to take it from her; no
scissors could cut through it, and her strength could not break it, so
that wherever Mirabella went the silver bell tinkled merrily.

Now, it so happened that on the second night on which she was out the
silver bell tinkled so loudly, that a wolf who happened to be near,
hearing it, approached her and said—

    “Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;
    To obey you, Mirabella, I am here.”

At first the little girl was very much afraid, because she had heard of
the cruelty of wolves; but when he repeated the words, she said—

“Dear Mr. Wolf, if you would be so kind as to bring me my mamma, I would
be _so_ obliged.”

Off ran the wolf without saying another word, and Mirabella commenced
jumping for joy, causing her silver bell to tinkle more than ever. A
fox, hearing it, came up to her and said—

    “Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;
    To obey you, Mirabella, I am here.”

Then she said, “Oh, dear Mr. Fox, I am _so_ hungry! I wish you would
bring me something to eat.”

Off went the fox, and in a short time he returned with a roast fowl,
bread, a plate, knife, and fork, all nicely placed in a basket. On the
top of these things was a clean white cloth, which she spread on the
ground, and on which she placed her dinner. She was indeed thankful to
the fox for his kindness, and patted his head, which made him wag his
thick brush. She enjoyed her dinner very much; but she was very thirsty.
She thought she would try tinkling her bell, and no sooner had she done
so than she heard the tinkling of another bell in the distance, coming
nearer and nearer to her. She stood on tiptoe, and she saw a stream of
water flowing towards her, on which floated a pretty canoe. When it got
up to her it stopped, and inside the canoe was a silver mug; but on the
bows of the canoe was hanging a silver bell just like her own.

    “Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;
    When thy mother comes, step in here.”

So sang the canoe; but she could not understand why she should get into
the canoe if her mother came, because she loved her mother, and thought
her mother loved her. Anyhow she took hold of the mug, and, filling it
with water, drank it up. Water, which is always the most refreshing of
all drinks, was what the tired little girl most needed, and as her
father had brought her up very carefully and properly, she had never
tasted anything stronger; but her thirst made her enjoy the water more
than she ever had.

Suddenly she heard some one screaming for help, and the screams came
nearer and nearer to her. She turned round and saw the wolf bearing her
mother on his back, and however much she tried to get off she could not,
because the wolf threatened to bite her. Springing up to Mirabella’s
side, the wolf said—

    “Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;
    To obey you, Mirabella, I am here.”

The wicked mother now jumped off his back, and commenced scolding
Mirabella for having sent for her. She said that as soon as she got back
to the palace she would make a law that all the wolves should be
killed, and that if Mirabella ever dared return she should be smothered.
The poor little girl felt very miserable, and was afraid that her mother
might kill her, so she stepped into the canoe, and said—

    “Bear me where my father dwells,
    Tinkle, tinkle, silver bells.”

The stream continued to flow, and as the canoe moved on she saw her
mother turned into a cork-tree, and she bid good-bye to the wolf and the
fox. On sped the boat, and it soon neared the big sea; but Mirabella
felt no fear, for the stream struck out across the ocean, and the waves
did not come near her. For three days and nights the silver bells
tinkled and the canoe sped on; and when the morning of the fourth day
came, she saw that they were approaching a beautiful island, on which
were growing many palm-trees, which are called sacred palms. The grass
was far greener than any she had ever seen, for the sun was more
brilliant, but not so fierce, and when the canoe touched the shore—oh,
joy!—she saw her dear father.

    “Silver bell, silver bell, do not fear;
    To protect thee, Mirabella, I am here.”

She was _so_ pleased to see her father again and to hear him speak. It
was so nice to be loved, to be cared for, to be spoken kindly to.
Everything seemed to welcome her; the boughs of the sacred palms waved
in the summer breeze, and the humming-birds, flitting about, seemed like
precious stones set in a glorious blaze of light. Her father was not
changed very much; he looked somewhat younger and stronger, and as he
lifted her in his arms his face seemed handsomer and his voice more
welcome. She felt no pang of sorrow, she had no fears, for she was in
her father’s arms, to which the fairy silver bells had led her.

Farther up in the island she saw groups of other children running to
meet her, all with silver bells around their necks; and some there were
among them whom she had known in the Silver Islands. These had been
playmates of hers, but had left before her.

So periods of light sped on, in which joy was her companion, when,
looking into a deep but very clear pond, she saw a gnarled cork-tree,
which seemed to have been struck by lightning. Long did she stand there
gazing into it wondering where she had seen that tree. All at once she
spied a canoe passing close by the tree, in which stood a young man,
whom she recognized as her step-brother Gliglu. He seemed to cast a
sorrowful look at the tree, and then she recollected the fate of her
mother. At this moment her silver bell fell off, and, sinking into the
pond, it went down—down, until it reached the tree, and, tinkling,

    “Take thy shape again, O queen!”

Then Mirabella saw her mother step into the canoe; and tinkling bells in
a short space of time told her that others dear and near to her had
arrived, and, running down to the shore, she cried out—

    “Silver bells, O mother, wait you here,
    Nought but joy with father, nought to fear.”


There was once a little boy called Sigli, who, I am sorry to say, took
great pleasure in catching and killing little birds. His father was a
notorious robber, so it was not surprising that Sigli gave way to acts
of cruelty. His mother died when he was little more than a year old, and
he did not know any other relation. In the north of Portugal, bands of
robbers used to frequent the roads, and some of them lived in strong
castles, and had a large retinue of followers. In time of war these
robber-chiefs would side with the king’s party, because after the war
was over they received large grants of land for the assistance they had
rendered the sovereign. Sometimes when the neighbouring kings of Spain
invaded Portugal, these robbers proved of great advantage in repelling
the invaders; but in following up their victories they would despoil
all the churches in the enemy’s country of the gold and silver idols,
which the priests had caused to be made in order to get the ignorant
peasantry to make offerings of money, corn, and oil, in exchange for
which the priests, in the name of the idols, offered all those who gave,
pardon of their sins.

Now, Sigli’s father had on many occasions robbed gold and silver idols,
and had murdered a few brethren of the Holy Inquisition, who, in their
turn, were well known for the wicked deeds they had committed, such as
burning Christian men and women who did not, and could not, profess the
popish faith. But in course of time the Jesuits, for so they were
called, made common cause against these robbers, and either put them to
death, or obliged them to leave off robbing churches and take to
cheating the peasantry.

Sigli, as I said before, was a very cruel boy, and he was the terror of
all the birds and beasts. He would lay traps for them, and when he had
caught them he would take pleasure in tormenting them, which clearly
proved that he was not a Christian, nor possessed of any refinement. But
he took more pleasure in catching Robin-redbreasts than in anything
else, and for this purpose he used bird-lime. He had caught and killed
so many that at last King Robin of Birdland issued invitations to all
his feathered subjects and to the beasts of the field, asking them to a
meeting at which they might discuss the best means of putting Sigli to
death, or punishing him in some other way, for the cruelty of which he
was guilty towards them.

Among the many who accepted the invitation was an old fox, the first of
the Reynards, and when it came to his turn to speak, he said that as
Sigli was so fond of catching redbreasts with bird-lime, he (Mr.
Reynard) would propose catching Sigli in the same manner; and when
caught they might discuss how they should punish him, either by pecking
and biting him, or by getting the wolves to eat him. In order to carry
out this idea, he suggested that the monkeys should be asked to prepare
the bird-lime, which they might use with safety by oiling their hands,
and then gradually make a man of bird-lime close to the robber chief’s
castle. Sigli would probably take it for some poor man, and hit it, and
then he would not be able to get away.

This idea was accepted by all in general, and by Mrs. Queen Bee in
particular, who owed Sigli and his father a grudge for destroying her
hive; and the monkeys cheerfully set to work, while King Robin watched
the putting together of the figure, and was very useful in giving it
most of the artistic merit it possessed when finished. The making took
one whole night, and next morning, almost opposite the castle, stood the
bird-lime figure about the size of a man.

Sigli, seeing it from his dressing-room window, and taking it for a
beggar, was so enraged that he ran out without his shoes and stockings,
and, without waiting to look at the man, he struck at him with his right
hand so that it stuck firmly to the figure.

“Let go,” he cried, “or I will kick you!” And as the figure did not let
go he kicked it, so that his foot was glued. “Let go my foot,” he cried
out, “or I will kick you with the other;” and, doing so, both his legs
were glued to it. Then he knocked up against the figure, and the more he
did so the more firmly he was glued.

Then his father, hearing his cries, rushed out, and said—

“Oh, you bad man! I will squeeze you to death for hurting my dear

No sooner said than done, and the robber chief was glued on to the
bird-lime figure.

The screams of the two attracted the attention of the servants, who,
seeing their robber master, as they thought, murdering his little boy,
ran away and never came back again.

King Robin was now master of the situation, and he directed ten thousand
bees under General Bumble, and another ten thousand wasps under Colonel
Hornet, to fall on the robber and cruel Sigli and sting them to death.
But this was hardly necessary, as the wriggling of their bodies so fixed
them to the figure that they died of suffocation.

Then King Robin ordered the wolves to dig a large grave, into which the
monkeys rolled Sigli, his father, and the bird-lime figure; and after
covering it up, they all took charge of the castle, and lived there for
many years undisturbed, acknowledging King Robin as their king; and if
the Jesuits did not turn them out, I am certain they are still there.


There was once a king who was so wicked that he would not allow any
widows to live in his kingdom, because he was certain that they had
caused the death of their husbands; nor would he admit of any fat man or
woman, as he was afraid that they would eat up everything in the

He was also very proud and arrogant, and if any man happened to be
taller than himself, he would give him the choice of being lowered to a
proper height by either having his head or his legs cut off.

His subjects were so afraid of him and of his laws, that the married
women would not let their husbands go out of their sight, lest any harm
should happen to them, and if they turned at all pale, or had broken
sleep, or had lost their appetites, they would nurse them night and day.
So afraid were they of becoming widows that they always agreed with
their husbands on all points, lest by disagreeing they should bring
about an attack of indigestion, or something worse that might produce

And when their children commenced to grow rapidly, their fears were
doubled lest they should become taller than the king; for if they fed
them on pudding, which does not promote growth, they incurred the danger
of their becoming fat; and if they fed them on meat, so as to make them
lean, they would probably grow tall.

It very soon became evident that there were more hunchbacks in that
country than in any other; for as soon as the children were approaching
the forbidden height, their parents would suspend heavy weights from
their shoulders, so that their backs became rounded and eventually

The young men, when they were at an age to marry, found it very
difficult to get any woman to have them, because they were afraid of
becoming widows, and also because so many of the men were humpbacked.

But, notwithstanding the king’s wickedness, it was admitted by the
married men that their condition had considerably improved.

There was a wide road made round the cities and towns, on which all who
were inclined to be stout, both men and women, would run until they were
out of breath, and jump over hurdles; and there were so many of these
people that the revenues of the Church commenced to suffer, owing to the
decreased demand for “bulls,” as they willingly imposed long fasts on

Now, in the chief city of this country there was a very wise man, well
versed in the law and in concocting drugs, for he was the public
executioner and the chemist of the place. To him, therefore, went a
deputation of the people to lay their grievances before him; and after
the spokesman had finished what he had to say, the executioner looked
very wise, and, after considering awhile, he said—

“Our king’s predecessor was held to be just and generous because he
allowed every man to retain a fifth of his produce for the maintenance
of his family, and the tax he imposed on this fifth part was always
readily paid.” Here he touched the edge of his sharp axe and smiled; and
the deputation exclaimed—

“Quite right; so it was.”

“Now, the present king,” continued the wise man, again feeling the edge
of his axe, “has magnanimously increased your loyal tribute to him by
one part in a hundred of the produce of the land, and yet you are not

“The king’s generosity we all feel,” said the deputation; “but, if we
may be allowed to express an opinion to you, sir, we would——”

“Certainly you may,” interrupted the man of drugs, running his hand
quickly over the axe—“certainly you may; why should you not?”

By this time the chief spokesman had got behind the others, and it was
very evident that the members of the deputation were becoming aware that
the logic of the executioner was too sharp for them.

Seeing that they were all silent, the executioner went on to say that
the king had, in his opinion, been extremely considerate; for he had, by
the law against widows, contributed to the happiness and long life of
the husbands; and, by enacting that no man should exceed a certain
height or stoutness, they had economized in many ways, for they ate
less, and their clothes would cost them less. In fact, he saw no reason
for dissatisfaction; but as they had come to him as a deputation, he
felt it to be his duty to place their supposed grievances before the
king, and he, the executioner, felt certain that the king would reply to
them in a suitable manner. And having said this he raised the axe to the
light to see that there was no notch on the edge, which caused the
deputation to tremble most violently, and to assure the executioner that
they were perfectly satisfied, and desired to withdraw.

The executioner, however, would not allow them to retire—for the
grievances of a people should not be withheld from the king’s ear; but
the members of the deputation became so frightened that they made their
escape through the windows as fast as they could. And when the king
heard all about it he remarked that “Folly had entered with dignity by
the door, and Wisdom had unceremoniously escaped through the window.”


Overlooking the river Douro, close to Freixo, are some huge rocks,
situated on the brink of an almost perpendicular eminence. To this spot
do congregate, so it is reported, the souls of unbaptized children, who
make the midnight hour hideous with their shrieks when the tempest is
hurrying down through the valley and over the snow-capped hills. When
the wind is at its highest do these souls of the lost utter their weird
shrieks, so nigh akin unto the howling of the wind that only the
neighbouring villagers pretend to be able to distinguish between the
clamouring voices of the unbaptized and the howling caused by the fitful
gusts of the wintry blast as it rushes impetuously among the rocks and
down the precipices.

On such nights will the farmer’s wife light the tapers around the image
of good St. Laurence, patron of the winds, and calling her household
around her, the following verses are intoned—

    “Good St. Laurence, keep us free
    From the sin of heresy;
    Lull the angry winds to rest,
    Still be thou our honoured guest,
                        By our fathers prized.

    “Drive all goblins from our door,
    Those whom Heaven doth ignore—
    Witches, demons, bogeys all,
    May they sink and may they fall
                        With the unbaptized.”

At times it takes longer to appease the wrath of St. Laurence than at
others; but with daylight the courage of the worshippers revives, and
the souls of the unbaptized seek rest, although the winds may continue
to howl.

Many centuries ago the palace of the now enchanted Moors at Freixo was
the glory of the place. Although considerably smaller, it was after the
style of the Alhambra, at Granada; but it was held in almost greater
esteem than the principal residence of the Moorish kings, for in a
magnificent stable was lodged the ass on which the prophet Mohamed was
supposed to have ascended to Paradise. It seems that the chosen
quadruped, unaccustomed to the pastures of the Mohamedan Paradise, had
escaped, and descended on earth close to the palace, or alcazar, at
Freixo, where he was found one morning by the dwellers when they were on
their way to the mosque.

He was a fine specimen of an ass, and worthy of the Mohamedan creed.
Tradition hints at a miller having laid claim to him; but as he could
offer no proofs why the ass should not have been in Paradise, and seeing
that the ass was as white as the prophet’s, the miller was ordered to
look for his donkey elsewhere, as this was the ass of the prophet.

How long this favoured quadruped lived is not recorded, but no doubts
have been raised as to his eventual demise; and he, too, was heard
braying furiously from his resting-place when the winds blew high.

But few vestiges are now left of this once splendid alcazar. Time defied
its ornamental turrets and richly chased walls, and levelled them with
the ground. Only the surrounding rocks have remained, and with them many
traditions. These the inhabitants of the district have preserved intact,
or maybe added to their interest by investing them with a semblance to
truth which renders them all the more worthy of preservation, as being
stepping-stones carrying us back to a long past.

But even where such doubtful lore holds the people in awe, a few may be
found who, although rejecting that part of the tradition which is
evidently but the fruit of a fertile imagination, or of religious
fanaticism, recognize in these legends the preservation of a still
unwritten history, to whose identification with facts the ruins of many
a Moslem building of rare architectural beauty attest.

And if, after many a sanguinary fight, the Cross was victorious over the
Crescent, the Christian population of the Iberic Peninsula must admit
that the faint vestiges of beauty in their architecture of to-day have
an Arabic origin; that to their Moorish conquerors they owe much of the
daring and endurance which characterized the generation of great
navigators, as also to them was due the introduction of many of the
useful arts and sciences.

The traveller will now look in vain for the alcazar of El Rachid at
Freixo. The mighty rocks alone mark the spot, and naught remains of art
to please the eye. Traditionary lore may interest him, but he must be
ready to listen to it with all the additions which a gross superstition
can alone invent or believe.

Here, then, is it recorded that Al Rachid held a Christian maiden
captive for many years. That she was as good as she was beautiful goes
without further remark. Maria das Dores, for so she is named by her
chroniclers, was one of those splendid women worthy to be the mothers of
that succeeding generation of heroes who overthrew the Moors on the
plains of Ourique.

Maria was the daughter of a very wealthy farmer who resided close to the
mouth of the river Minho. It was her duty to work with the farm
labourers in the field, and she would mingle her sweet voice with theirs
when singing hymns to the Virgin as they plied their hoes.

Often had Al Rachid seen her at work from his hiding-place in a
neighbouring forest. He loved the maiden, although he had reason to
believe she was a Christian; but he knew that she had given her love to
another, and could, therefore, not be his unless he took her by force.

One day, at vesper-time, she did not return to the farm with the
labourers. Search was made for her everywhere, but she could not be
found. Then it was imagined she might be in conversation with her lover;
but, on inquiry, he had not seen her.

Mounted parties scoured the country all around, but in vain; she had not
been seen, and there was no doubt entertained but that she had been
lured into the forest, and become the captive of Al Rachid.

But, then, nobody had seen the Moorish chief that day. True; but the
Moors were enchanters, and it was known that they could make
subterranean passages which closed behind them so as to prevent their
being pursued.

The wise woman of the district was therefore called into requisition,
and she, having consulted the astrolabe and made a fire of pine needles,
discovered the direction in which the fugitives were going. Mounting
their horses, and led by the wise woman, who bestrode a splendid white
mule, they galloped off, and after two days’ hard riding they distinctly
heard the sound of a horse’s hoofs, but they could not see the horse.

Then they knew that Al Rachid was making use of the enchanted passage
which they could not hope to find, and they had to content themselves
with following the sound until they came within sight of Al Rachid’s

They were now in the enemy’s country, and with their little force they
could not successfully besiege the palace, so, much against their will,
they returned home.

There was only one means of rescuing the captive maiden, and this would
take time. No Christian man or woman could gain admittance to the
enchanted passage, and no Moslem could be found willing to attempt the
rescue. Therefore they hit upon a plan of securing the services of a
heretic. A child had been born in the village, and him, it was resolved,
they should not baptize. When old enough, he should be entrusted with
the task of rescue, and being unbaptized he would gain admittance to all
the enchanted places.

Years rolled by, and the youth had attained the age of thirteen, when he
was informed of the mission on which it was intended to send him. Being
of a daring disposition, he courted danger, and buckling on his sword,
and bearing his shield, he left the farmer’s house; and, accompanied by
the wise woman, he directed his steps to the forest. When the two had
reached an old oak-tree, the wise woman repeated the following words
three times—

    “Here stands an unbaptized
    To thread the subterranean way;”

and then she knocked with her staff three times on the ground, which
opened, and the youthful heretic boldly descended, the earth closing
above him. Before him was a magnificent display of jewels studding the
walls on each side, whose brilliancy at first dazzled him. Getting more
accustomed to the strong light, he discovered a coal-black horse, fully
caparisoned, standing by his side, as if ready for him to mount; but he
was not to be tempted, for he would rather trust to his legs than to a
strange horse. Then when he had walked some distance he came to a river,
on which there was a boat rowed by six lovely maidens, who asked him to
get in, and they would row him across. But he would not be tempted, and
he boldly waded the stream and crossed over. Having proceeded a little
further, however, he heard the piteous cry of a child, and, hastening
forward, he saw a lovely little boy, dressed in the Oriental fashion,
who besought him, with tears in his eyes, to carry him a little way, for
he was very tired and had still a long way to go. He could not refuse
him, and, stooping slightly, raised him in his arms; but no sooner had
he done so, than this little boy turned into a giant, who, twining his
arms around the heretic’s neck, would have strangled him, but that,
being unbaptized, he could not be killed. After many attempts to
strangle the intruder the giant relaxed his hold, and as suddenly

The heretic, after a time, came to a standstill, for he was confronted
by total darkness. Nothing daunted, however, he drew his sword and hit
out, so that the blade, striking against the sides of the passage,
caused the jewels to emit sparks, and these lit up thousands of lamps.
In the distance he saw two enormous tigers, each having two heads. They
seemed to be ready to tear him to pieces, but, on observing him advance
sword in hand, they ran away.

At the end of the third day he had walked so quickly that he stood
before the secret entrance to the alcazar of Al Rachid. The ponderous
gates were wide open, but he could not enter because of an enormous frog
that blocked up the way, and emitted flames of fire from its mouth and
eyes. Do what he could, there was no getting near the hideous creature.

He had recourse to stratagem, and, pretending not to be afraid of the
animal, he threw his sword over the frog’s back, exclaiming, “Take that;
I fear thee not!”

The frog, turning to get hold of the sword, offered an opportunity to
the heretic of jumping on its back, which he did, and, digging his spurs
into its sides, he obliged it to advance, when, as it passed by his
sword, he dexterously picked it up, and was not at all particular how he
used it about the creature’s head.

The more he struck at the frog, the more fierce were the flames of fire
it emitted; and Al Rachid, hearing the noise, hurried to the entrance to
see what was the matter, when he found himself enveloped in flames which
the heretic forced the frog to throw out until the cruel Moor was
completely burned.

Then at one stroke he cut off the animal’s head, and at the same moment
the castle vanished, and where it had previously stood the heretic found
Maria, the farmer’s daughter, who was overjoyed at her deliverance.

The two wended their way back to their native village, where great
rejoicings awaited them; and seeing that the services of the heretic
would in all probability no longer be required, he was baptized with as
little delay as possible, and for the rescue he had effected the rich
farmer amply rewarded him, while the Church accorded him plenary
absolution for his past heresy.


On a deserted part of the rock-bound Cantabrian coast, a poor fisherman,
named Pedro, discovered a lovely maiden, magnificently dressed, combing
her long jet-black hair with a golden comb studded with diamonds.

It was still early morning, and the sun had not attained its greatest
power; and as the tide was at its lowest, an innumerable number of ponds
were formed by the rocks which, for a distance of half a mile, were left
bare by the receding sea.

Seated near to one of these ponds, and cooling her feet in the water,
sat this lovely maiden; and she was so intent on performing her toilet
that she did not perceive Pedro, who, thinking she was a mermaid, and
might therefore cast a spell over him, hid behind a ledge of rocks, and
was able to see and hear her without being seen.

Pedro heard her singing the following words—

    “I am daughter of a king
      Who rules in Aragon,
    My messengers they bring
      Me food to live upon.
    My father thinks me dead;
      My death he did ordain,
    For that I would not wed
      A wicked knight of Spain.
    But those whom he did send
      To kill me in this place,
    My youth they did befriend,
      But cruel is my case.”

“Is it even so,” said Pedro to himself, “that this lovely maiden is the
daughter of a king? If I render her assistance I may incur great danger,
and if I leave her to die it will be a crying shame; what, then, am I to

As he was thus pondering in his mind, he heard a flapping of wings, and,
looking in the direction whence the noise came, he saw a pair of
perfectly white pigeons bearing a small basket between them, strung on a
thin golden bar, which they held at each end between their beaks.

Descending, they deposited the basket by the side of the princess, who
caressed them most tenderly, and then took from the basket some
articles of food which she greedily ate (for she had not eaten since the
previous morning), and after having finished the contents she again

    “I am daughter of a king,
      Who thinks that I am dead;
    Here on this beach I sing,
      By pigeons I am fed.
    Thank you, my pretty birds,
      Who are so kind to me.
    But what avail my words?
      Oh, I a bird would be!”

This wish was no sooner uttered than Pedro, much to his astonishment,
saw that the lovely princess had been turned into a white swan, with a
small gold crown on the top of its head.

Expanding her wings, she gradually rose high above him, attended by the
pigeons, and all three flew out to sea; when suddenly Pedro observed a
magnificent ship not far from the coast, whose deck was of burnished
gold, and her sides of ivory fastened with golden nails. The ropes were
of thread of silver, and the sails of white silk, while the masts and
yards were made of the finest sandal-wood.

To the ship the three birds flew, and no sooner did they alight on the
deck than Pedro observed that they were three beautiful maidens.

The princess sat on a richly ornamented chair, and the other two maidens
on velvet cushions embroidered in gold at her feet.

Over them was spread a superb awning to shelter them from the rays of
the sun, and the vessel glided about over the vast expanse of water, now
in one direction, now in another, as if the breeze blew to suit the

Pedro was so astonished at what he saw that at last he got frightened,
and, being young and nimble, he soon lost sight of the ship; but at
every pace he seemed to hear a voice saying, “Run not away, future king
of Aragon!”

Pedro continued running till he left the beach far behind, and was now
in the pine-forest; nor did he stop till he was in the densest part,
when, for very fatigue, he threw himself on the ground, and then he
distinctly heard a voice say, “Pedro, you are destined to be King of
Aragon; but tell no one.”

Not till then had he discovered that he was no longer dressed in
fisherman’s attire, but that his clothes were of the finest cloth
fringed with gold lace.

Pedro, on seeing this, said, “I am enchanted. That princess is indeed a
mermaid, and has cast a spell over me. I am undone, my eyes deceive me,
and what I take for so much grandeur is but a deception.” Saying which,
he started to his feet, and hurried towards his village as fast as his
legs would carry him.

Arrived at the fishing hamlet, all his old companions paid him such
deference that he tried to get out of their way, thinking they did but
laugh at him, and, arriving at the door of his widowed mother’s cottage,
he ran into the kitchen. His mother happened to be frying some fish, and
when she saw a grand gentleman enter the apartment she took the pan off
the fire, and, bowing low, said, “My noble sir, this house is too humble
for such as you; allow me to conduct you to his reverence’s house, for
there you will find accommodation more suited to your high estate.”

Pedro would have replied to his mother, and sought to kiss her hand and
ask her blessing, after the custom of the country; but, on attempting to
speak, his tongue hung out of his mouth, and he made so strange a noise
and so gesticulated that his mother was glad to get out of the house,
followed, however, by her son and a large crowd of villagers who had
congregated to see the grand stranger.

As soon as it was known throughout the village of the arrival of the
grand stranger the church bells pealed, and the parish priest mingled
with the crowd desirous of seeing the new arrival; but as soon as Pedro
commenced gesticulating as before, the priest and all the rest of the
people were much frightened, for they thought that he was dangerously

Pedro, noticing this, sorrowfully turned away from his native village
and took the high-road to the next town.

As he was going along, thinking of his present trouble, he observed a
wide gate made of gold, opening into a beautiful garden, into which he
hesitated not to enter; for he recollected what the wise woman of the
village had once told him—that “grand clothes beget respect.”

“Open wide those gates, O worker midst the flowers,” exclaimed Pedro to
an old gardener (for he had now recovered his speech). “I come in cloth
of gold to speak unto my love.”

“Sir,” replied the old man, “you may always enter here, for you are D.
Pedro of Aragon, I well can see.”

“What very high balconies, a hundred feet in height!” exclaimed Pedro.
“Tell me, good old man, does the princess ever come there?”

“To those balconies so high, to feel the cooling breeze,” replied the
gardener, “the princess comes there every evening alone.”

“Should she ask you,” continued Pedro, “who I am, tell her that I am
your son come from a distant land, and I will help you to water the

At her usual time the princess came to her favourite balcony, and seeing
Pedro watering the flowers, she beckoned to him, saying—

“O waterer of the pinks, come a little nearer and speak to me.”

“Is it true that you desire to speak to me?” inquired Pedro of the

“No mirror bright ever reflected the truth more correctly than the words
I uttered conveyed my desire,” answered the princess.

“Here, then, you have me,” said Pedro. “Order me as your slave; but give
me, for I am thirsty, a small ewer of water.”

The princess poured some water into a silver goblet, and having handed
it to Pedro, he exclaimed—

“And in this mirror bright of crystal water pure, which does reflect
thy form, I quench my heart’s deep thirst.”

“You see yonder palace at the end of the garden,” said the princess to
Pedro. “Well, in that palace you will be lodged for the night; but
should you ever tell any one what you see there, you will put yourself
in danger and cause me great trouble.”

Pedro promised to keep secret whatever he might see that night, and
bidding “good night” to the princess, he hastened to the palace which
the princess had pointed out to him, and, having entered it, he walked
through the marble passage, which seemed to be interminable. On each
side of him were rows of majestic columns, surmounted by gold capitals,
and now and again he thought he saw the forms of lovely young maidens
flitting among the columns.

Just as he was approaching a richly carved fountain surrounded by sacred
palms, a maiden of surprising beauty seemed to be addressing a Moor in
most impassioned tones, as if claiming his indulgence; but when Pedro
got up to them he discovered that both were the work of the statuary.

At every step the surroundings became more magnificent, and the carved
ceiling was of such exquisite workmanship that it seemed rather the
work of the loom, being so like the finest lace, than of the sculptor.

At last he arrived at the end of this avenue of columns, and noticing a
door in front of him, he opened it, and found himself standing on a
marble quay, against which the sea waves were washing.

Scanning the vast expanse of water before him, he observed approaching
him the same beautiful ship he had seen in the morning.

When the ship came alongside the quay, a sailor sprung on shore, and
made her fast by a golden cable; then, addressing Pedro, he said—

“I am glad you have not kept us waiting, for our royal mistress is very
wishful to consult you, as one of her favourite doves has broken its
right wing, and if you cannot cure it, the princess will die of

Pedro made no reply, but stepped on board the ship, which soon got under
way, and within a short time they were approaching the coast he knew so

Having landed, Pedro saw the princess seated on the sand, nursing one of
her white pigeons.

“Pedro of Aragon,” the princess exclaimed, “a stranger dared to enter
my royal father’s garden, and in assisting to water the pinks he trod on
the wing of my favourite pigeon, and he has broken it.”

“Señora,” replied Pedro, “the intruder did probably seek you, and had no
idea of hurting the lovely bird.”

“That matters not,” continued the princess, “for my principal supporter
is wounded, and you must cure her. Cut out my heart, and steep this bird
in my warm blood, and when I am dead throw my body into the sea.”

“How can I kill one so lovely?” asked Pedro. “I would rather die myself
than hurt you!”

“Then you do not care for me, or else you would do as I bid you,”
answered the princess.

“Princess, I cannot and will not kill you; but I will do anything else
you bid me,” said Pedro.

“Well, then, since you will not kill me, I order you to take this pigeon
back with you; for I know it was you who walked in my father’s garden
to-day,” continued the princess. “And to-morrow evening, when you see
that princess whom you saw to-day, you must kill her, and let her blood
fall over this pretty bird.”

Pedro was now in great trouble, for he had promised the princess to do
anything she told him to do, except killing her, and he could not break
his word; so taking hold of the pigeon very gently, and bidding good-bye
to the princess, he again stepped on board the ship, and so depressed
was he that he had arrived at the marble quay without being aware of it.

On landing, he retraced his steps through the avenue of pillars, and
found himself once more in the garden, where the old gardener was again
watering the pinks.

“What very high balconies!” exclaimed Pedro. “Tell me, old gardener of
the ancient times, if the princess comes here to-day.”

“The princess loves the fresh sea-breeze,” answered the old man, “and
to-night she will come to the balcony, for her noble lover will be
waiting for her.”

“And who is the princess’s lover?” inquired Pedro.

“If you will help me to water the pinks, I will tell you,” said the old

Pedro readily acquiesced, and putting down the pigeon where he thought
no harm would happen to it, he commenced assisting the gardener to
water the pinks.

After a silence of a few minutes the gardener said—

“There were once seven pigeons who said, ‘Seven pigeons are we, and with
other seven pigeons we might all be mated; but, as it is, we must remain
seven pigeons.’”

“Yes,” put in Pedro; “but I want to know who the princess’s lover is.”

The old man took no heed of the interruption, and continued—

“There were once seven pigeons who said, ‘Seven pigeons are we——’”

“Stop!” cried Pedro; “I will have no such idle talk. Tell me who this
noble lover is, or I will do you an injury.”

“Sir,” cried the gardener, with a very serious countenance, “there were
once seven pigeons who said, ‘Seven pigeons are we, and——’”

“Take your watering-can,” shouted Pedro in disgust; “I will not listen
to your nonsense!”

“And yet there were once seven pigeons who said, ‘Seven pigeons are we;’
and now the last of them is gone, for the noble lover has been false to
his trust,” exclaimed the old man, looking very cunningly at Pedro.

At these words Pedro looked towards the place where he had placed the
pigeon, and it was no longer there.

Seized with a fit of fury, he was about to lay hands on the gardener,
when, to his astonishment, he found that he was also gone.

“I am undone,” cried the unhappy Pedro; “and now I shall not see the
princess again.” Saying which he fainted away, and might probably have
remained there some time, but that he heard a voice saying, in a jocular

“There were once seven pigeons who said, ‘Seven pigeons are we,

Pedro started to his feet, and close to him was standing the princess
whom he had previously seen in the balcony.

“Why do you thus tease me, princess?” said Pedro. “I want to hear no
more about the seven horrid pigeons.”

“Don Pedro de Aragon,” answered the princess, “I must tell you that the
old gardener to whom you spoke is a magician, and he has possessed
himself of the last means I had of regaining my liberty, for I am under
his power. Is it not true that you came here with the purpose of killing

“I was under a vow to do so,” replied Pedro; “but I cannot kill you,
although I would rather slay you, fair princess, than do you a more
grievous injury.”

“Go back, then, to the unhappy lady whom you left on the sea-shore, and
tell her that you have been false to your promises,” said the princess.

“How sorry I am,” exclaimed Pedro, “that I was ever destined to be King
of Aragon! When I was a poor fisherman, I was far happier than I am

“Pedro of Aragon, the moon will be at the full to-night, and you may
then rescue me,” said the princess, “if you have the courage to meet the
wicked magician in this garden at midnight, for then is his power

“I am prepared for the worst,” replied Pedro, “and I fear not your

“Well, then,” continued the princess, “when the magician sees you he
will again tell you about the seven pigeons; but when he has finished,
you must tell him that there were once seven wives who had only one
husband, and that they are waiting outside to see him. Do as I tell you,
and if you are not afraid of his anger, you may be able to free me.”

Pedro promised to do as he was told, and the princess having retired
into the palace, Pedro amused himself by walking under the lofty
balconies, watching the fire-flies grow brighter as night came on.

Just about midnight the magician was seen watering the pinks, and as
soon as he perceived Pedro he said—

“There were once seven pigeons who said, ‘Seven pigeons are we, and with
other seven pigeons we might all be mated; but, as it is, we must remain
seven pigeons.’”

“Quite so,” put in Pedro. “And once upon a time there were seven wives
who had only one husband, and they are waiting outside to see him.”

The magician, at these words, lost all control over his temper; but
Pedro heeded him not, rather did he endeavour to increase his rage by
repeating all about the seven wives.

“I am undone!” cried the magician; “but if you will induce the spirits
of my seven wives to again seek the grave, I will give you what you
want, and that is the princess.”

“Give me the princess first,” answered Pedro, “and then I will free you
of your wives.”

“Take her, then,” said the magician; “here she is. And forget not what
you have promised me, for I may tell you in confidence that a man with
seven wives cannot play the magician.”

Pedro hurried away with the princess; and after they had been married
and crowned, the princess, who was now queen, one day said to him—

“Pedro, the magician who held me captive from you was Rank, and
therefore were the balconies so high. When you saw me on the beach fed
by pigeons, it was that you should know my power; on the shore I was
attended by winged messengers, and on the sea I sailed about at

“But what about the wounded pigeon?” asked Pedro.

“Recollect, Pedro, what you said to me in the garden,” answered the
princess—“that you would rather slay me than do me a more grievous
injury. That poor pigeon with its broken wing could no more hope to soar
aloft than an injured woman to mix with her former associates.”

“And what about the seven wives who were waiting outside, and who so
frightened the old magician, Rank?” continued Pedro.

“They are the seven deadly sins, who would each have a tongue for
itself, and yet without tongues are enough to frighten Rank,” answered
the princess.

“And who am I, then,” asked Pedro, “to be so exalted now?”

“You are the wise man who strove to do his best, yet tried not to exalt
himself above his position,” sweetly answered the princess.

“So that the magician Rank has unwillingly raised the poor fisherman to
be king,” whispered Pedro.

“Not Rank alone, but much more so thy own worth.”



Lady Clare was in her garden overlooking the sea. It was a summer’s day,
and the many coloured butterflies flitted about under the trees and
among the sweet smelling flowers.

Lady Clare was combing her golden tresses with an ivory comb, seated on
a crimson velvet cushion. She looked towards the sea, and she saw a
gallant fleet making for the land.

He who was in command stepped on shore. He was a belted knight, but his
features could not be seen as his vizor was down.

Approaching Lady Clare, he saluted her, and she thus addressed him—

“Hast thou, noble knight, seen my husband, who bid me good-bye many
years ago when he sailed for the Holy Land?”

“I know not thy husband, fair lady. By what should I know him?”

“He took his white charger with its golden trappings with him,” answered
Lady Clare. “On his lance he bore a red pennon; a tress of my hair
served him for a belt, from which hung his sword. But if thou hast not
seen him, Knight of the Cross, then woe be to me, lonely widow, for I
have three daughters, and they are all unmarried.”

“I am a soldier,” continued the knight; “war is my employment. But what
wouldst thou give, fair lady, to have thy husband near?”

“I would give thee more money than thou couldst count, as well as the
roof of my house, which is made of gold and ivory,” answered Lady Clare.

“I care not for gold nor money; they are of no use to me, for I am a
soldier and engaged in war, and I never saw thy husband. But what
wouldst thou give, fair lady, to have him here?” inquired the knight.

“I would give thee my jewels, which cannot be weighed nor measured; I
would give thee my golden loom and my distaff of burnished silver,” said
Lady Clare.

“I neither wish for gold nor for silver: with steel is my hand better
acquainted, for I am a warrior, and I never saw thy husband. But what
wouldst thou give to have him near thee?” cried the knight.

“I would let thee choose one of my daughters; they are as fair as the
moon, or as the sun when rising,” urged Lady Clare.

“I do not want thy daughters; they may not marry me, for I am a soldier
and engaged in warfare, and I never cast eyes on thy husband. But what
wouldst thou give to have thy own knight here?” exclaimed the warrior.

“I cannot give thee more, nor hast thou more to ask of me,” replied Lady

“Thou hast still more to give, for thou hast not yet offered thyself,
fair lady,” said the knight.

“A belted knight who dare so speak deserves to be dragged around my
garden, tied to the tails of my horses. Come hither, my vassals, and
punish this rude soldier!” exclaimed Lady Clare.

“Do not call for thy vassals, for they are mine also,” said the knight;
“and do not be angry with me, for I have already kissed thee.”

“Then thou art surely my brave lord,” said Lady Clare; “but how wilt
thou prove thyself?”

“By the golden ring with seven gems which I divided with thee when I
left,” answered the knight. “Here is my half; where is thine?”

“My daughters,” cried the Lady Clare, “bring hither my half of the ring,
for your father is here to claim it! But, oh, my husband, joy at seeing
thee again had nigh made thee a widower.”


Just close to the cathedral of Compostella lived a barber whose real
name was Pedro Moreno, but who was better known by that of El Macho,
“the mule,” because he was so stubborn that if he happened to be playing
the guitar, he would not leave off though a dozen customers were waiting
to be shaved. But in Spain a barber also applies leeches, draws teeth,
and extracts corns, so that it was very annoying for a man who was
suffering from tooth-ache, and wanted his tooth taken out or stopped, to
have to wait until the barber had finished playing on the guitar.

He was also a soothsayer, and could repeat the whole of the prophetical
_Buena Dicha_ by heart. He was, in fact, the most useful man in
Compostella, and had cultivated the art of shaving the face and head
from the commencement which consists in watching the flies when
standing close to the master who is showing off his skill on a customer,
to being able to play the guitar with such proficiency that, holding the
neck in his left hand and pressing the cords with the fingers, he shall,
by thumping the instrument on the big toe of his left foot, cause it to
vibrate the air of the immortal _Cachucha_ or the _Bolero_, while with
his right hand he plays the castanets.

A barber may have his brass chin-basins, which hang outside the door,
burnished every day; his fly-catcher renovated every month; his bottles
containing leeches nice and clean; and he may know all the scandal of
the town, which is decidedly a part of his duty; but if he cannot play
the guitar and the castanets at the same time—which he can only do by
calling the big toe of his left foot into requisition—he must not be
considered a barber of the first class. He may do for shaving poor
priests and water-carriers; but he may not shave an abbot, nor an
archbishop, still less a grandee of Spain, who may sit before the king
with his hat on.

In other countries the position of a barber is somewhat less important
than it used to be when cleanliness required of a man that he should
appear at early mass on the Sunday well shaved; but in Spain,
cleanliness of the face is a great recommendation, for a rough chin
never earned kisses. Therefore is a barber still held in great respect
in the land of the Cid; and although Don Pedro Moreno was known by the
name of “El Macho,” no one would have dared address him thus.

One day the archbishop called on El Macho to request of him to come and
look at the image of St. James in the cathedral, to whom the edifice is
dedicated, because this miraculous figure, who had wrought so many
miracles, had, strange to say, commenced letting his beard grow, much to
the astonishment of all the priesthood and of the common people, and to
the dismay of several knights who had been knighted at the altar of St.
James, because in those days knights did not use beards.

The barber, seeing the archbishop enter his house, advanced, knelt, and
kissed his ring; and, knowing on what errand he was come, he was so
solicitous of securing the archbishop’s favour, that he put aside his
guitar, and respectfully awaited the prelate’s commands.

The archbishop having informed Pedro of the state of St. James’s chin,
proceeded to inform him that it had been decided, at a meeting of the
clergy, to entrust the shaving of the saint to him, Pedro Moreno; but
that, as this growth of hair was most exceptional, seeing that the image
was of wood, it was probable that the usual process of shaving might not
be sufficient.

“And you are quite right, most excellent sir, in your supposition,”
exclaimed the barber; “for unless I obtain some of the holy water in
which the good saint was baptized, and a piece of the soap with which
Judas Iscariot greased the rope with which he hanged himself, it will be
useless to try and shave him, for the hair will grow as fast as it is
taken off.”

“But that is impossible,” answered the archbishop; “for we do not even
know where the good saint was baptized; and as for the soap last used by
the arch-traitor, I should not be astonished to hear that Satan had
taken it away with him when he came to fetch Judas. No, good Pedro; you
must help me out of this difficulty in some other manner.”

“Then we must do with St. James of Compostella what the men of Burgos
did with their alcaide, who persisted in getting drunk when he ought to
have been getting sober. They got another alcaide as much like the
other as possible, excepting that he was not a _borracho_. We must get
another St. James like this one, but without a beard, and the people
will be none the wiser.”

“But,” whispered the venerable archbishop, “what are we to do without
our real, own, good, sweet St. James, whose miracles have been the means
of restoring so many erring ones to the fold, and bringing in so much
money to the Church? How can we replace him? And then, again, where can
we hide him?”

“All this can be arranged very easily,” answered El Macho. “Any St.
James will perform the same miracles, for the people have faith in him.
It is the same with me; the hidalgos have faith in me, and therefore
believe I am the only man in Compostella that can shave them, although
there are many other barbers. It is the people’s faith that performs the
miracles. As for hiding the saint, I will put him in a box I have got,
and lock him up safely.”

“Fair sir, I leave the matter in your hands,” continued the archbishop;
“but beware lest the people get to hear of it.”

And having said this he mounted his mule and rode off.

El Macho went in search of a sculptor, a friend of his, and told him
that he wanted an image made exactly like that of St. Iago’s in the
cathedral, because he had made a vow that should he live single up to
the age of fifty, he would endow his parish church in Cordova with a St.
James. He pressed his friend to make haste, and told him he would pay
him well for his trouble.

At the end of ten days the image was finished and handed over to the
barber, who, in the middle of the night, with the assistance of the
archbishop, entered the cathedral, took down good St. James, disrobed
him of his armour, and having put it on the new St. James, placed him on
the altar, and then carried the old image home.

Having locked the door, he proceeded to place the saint in the wooden
box, but found out that his legs were too long; so he cut two holes in
the side, through which he allowed them to project, and, putting down
the lid, locked it.

Next morning, after the first mass was over, the people gave vent to
their pleasure at seeing that St. James had a shaven face as formerly;
and the barber, who was at the door, gained great praise by informing
them that he had been the unworthy means of shaving their saintly

Now, the saint, who heard this from his box, commenced to hit about him,
and shouted out—

“Good people, I am St. James with the beard. El Macho is a villain!”

But the people laughed, thinking it was the apprentice who was in the
alcova, or inner room, and had not got over the previous night’s
drinking. So they went their way, laughing at the idea of a beardless
boy thinking he was good St. James with the beard.

Matters went on very well with regard to the new St. James, who was not
deficient in working such miracles as the people liked to ascribe to him
and to believe of him. The belted knights were pleased to find out that
the growing of a beard was only a passing fancy of their patron; and as
all were satisfied, and the revenues increased, the priests were also
well pleased.

Good St. James had been confined within his box for about three months
when the day for his annual procession came round, and great
preparations had been made for the occasion. Each knight had sent his
war-horse fully caparisoned, led by two servants in the livery of the
family, and followed by his shield and spear-bearers. There were about
one hundred and fifty such chargers which preceded the horse bearing the
image of St. James, who was kept secure in the saddle by a knight
walking on each side, holding his legs, while another one followed
bearing his banner. Then came the standard-bearers of the knights, each
with a page richly dressed, and then came the archbishop under the
pallio, surrounded by the dignitaries of the cathedral and minor priests
of the neighbouring villages. All the holy brotherhoods presented
themselves in their different coloured robes, with their gold and silver
crosses, their richly emblazoned banners; and in their midst walked
little girls dressed up to imitate angels, while the little boys swung
censers of burning incense. In the rear came twelve squadrons of
cavalry, four batteries of artillery, and five brigades of infantry,
which had arrived from different garrison towns to take part in the
procession. From every window scarlet damask drapery hung, as well as
from the balconies where the lovely daughters of Spain in all their
holiday grandeur appeared, fanning themselves gracefully—which art they
have cultivated to the detriment of conversation, which to them is still
an art little attended to.

The streets through which the procession had to pass were strewn with
flowers, especially fleurs-de-lis, and crowds had congregated on the

El Macho had given his apprentice a half-holiday, and was standing
outside his house, speaking to some customers, when he suddenly heard a
great noise, and turning round he saw that good St. James in the box was
running towards the cathedral from which the procession was emerging.
Peals of laughter and shouts of “El cajon” (“The box”) were taken up by
the multitude; but, fortunately for El Macho, they did not see from
which house the box on legs had come.

Not waiting for admittance, and knocking over the sentries at the door,
the saint in the box made straight for the archbishop, who, knowing what
it was, quietly walked into the vestry, followed by St. James, and
locked the door.

Then he undid the box, and beheld good St. James with a three months’
beard on his chin, who shouted—

“Have me shaved, good archbishop! Let me take my place in this grand
cavalcade, and I promise not to grow a beard again.”

The archbishop enjoined silence; and calling for one of his acolytes, he
ordered him to stop the procession for half an hour, to have the horse
carrying the other St. James led into the enclosed yard, and send for
the barber, El Macho. This having been done, the barber was ordered to
shave the saint and put on his armour, which the other one was wearing.
This did not take long; but even so the people wondered at what had
happened, which, however, they were never to know—not even the mystery
of this box on legs—because the archbishop issued a pastoral granting
plenary absolution to all such as should not ask him any questions, and
excommunication to all such as should find out.

Once again on horseback, and surrounded by his faithful knights, St.
James received the homage of the vulgar crowds and of the lovely ladies,
and returned to his old place on the altar.

That he did not relish being locked up in the box for three months is
proved by the fact that when, on three or four occasions, his vanity got
the better of him, and the archbishop thought he saw signs of letting
his beard grow, it was quite sufficient to show him the big box for him
to withdraw the obnoxious bristles.

The new St. James was presented to the parish church at Cordova by El
Macho, and his vow having been thus accomplished, he married the
archbishop’s niece, gave up business, and died shortly after.


Wamba was king of the Goths, who inhabited the northern part of
Lusitania. He was one of the bravest kings that ever reigned, and the
walls of his palace still stand as evidence of the skill with which he
studied to improve his capital. But although he was wise, he was not a
good man, and his bravery in war was not tempered by mercy. Like all his
predecessors, he was cruel to his victims, and was more feared than

Wamba had but one daughter, Elvira, whose mother was a princess of the
Moorish family reigning in Andalusia. She was so beautiful and so good,
that she contributed in no small degree in rendering her father’s reign
famous. Her long hair was of a lovely glossy black; her eyes, of the
same dark hue, had all the softness of her race, and it was this very
tenderness of look that gave majesty to her appearance.

In those days there were but very few Christians in Europe. The
Crescent of the false prophet had overcome for a time the Cross of the
true Saviour. To the teachings of an old man, who in secret worshipped
the true God, Elvira owed the first lessons she got of Christianity; and
once the good seed was sown, it multiplied.

Wamba did not know that his daughter was a Christian; but he knew that
she was very good, and that for her goodness she was very much beloved
by all his subjects.

Now, it so happened that in the dungeon of his palace there were many
prisoners condemned to death by starvation, and it perplexed the king to
know how it was that they continued to live. Every morning he would ask
of the gaoler if the prisoners had died, and the answer was that they
seemed quite well.

So one day he hid in a nook of the staircase, hoping to find out who fed
his prisoners. He had not long to wait, for he soon saw Elvira
descending, followed by a young courtier, Alaric, and carrying something
in her apron.

Elvira, unknown to her father, had been in the custom of carrying bread
to the poor prisoners, and she was assisted in her work of mercy by her
lover Alaric.

When she got close to the king, he started out of his hiding-place, and
seizing her by the arm, she, in her fright, let fall her apron, out of
which fell beautiful roses, into which the bread had been transformed.

Great was the surprise of the king, for he thought she was carrying
victuals. Then, in his rage, he said—

“Elvira, thou art in league with the evil one, and thou and thy lover
shall die!”

Elvira and Alaric were themselves so astonished at what had taken place,
that they could not speak, and allowed themselves to be led away to
separate gaols without offering an explanation.

Wamba had it proclaimed that next day his daughter Elvira and her lover
Alaric would be burnt in the public square for having dealings with the
evil one. Many of his oldest courtiers tried to persuade him that he was
too precipitate; but he was not to be moved, and all that night Elvira
and Alaric were preparing to meet death.

At the first ray of light Wamba was up, and with his soldiers and
executioners hurried to the public square. Elvira and Alaric were led
among a strong body of men, and everything was being prepared for
burning the lovers, when Elvira’s old tutor presented himself before
Wamba, and said—

“Know, O king, that thy daughter fears not death, for her comfort is on
the Cross, and not on the Crescent. If any one be to blame, I am he, for
I instructed her. Let me, then, be burned in her stead.”

Wamba gazed fiercely at the old man, and, raising his massive olive
staff surmounted by a gold crown, exclaimed—

“Thou shalt also die, but not before thou hast witnessed her sufferings.
Thy God is a false God, or if He have power to save all of you, He shall
cause this ancient olive staff to grow and throw out green leaves by
to-morrow morning, or else you shall all die;” and saying this, he stuck
his royal staff into the ground.

Elvira was to be allowed to remain close to the staff, but no one with
her; and, so that she might not escape, guards were posted all round the

Kneeling at the side of that emblem of authority, which for generations
had been wielded by her ancestors, she gave vent to her prayers and
tears, and the latter fell so quickly that they moistened the ground;
and when morning came, Wamba, on arriving, saw his royal staff growing,
a sapling then, but shortly to grow into a tree, even as the Christian
faith in its sapling stage was to throw out its spreading branches over
the kingdom, till they all became one people, loving but one God.

Wamba caused a church to be built near the spot, which church still
exists; and the olive-tree grows by its side, giving the name of
Olive-tree to the Square.

Alaric was married to Elvira; and Wamba having been called to the grave
of his forefathers, these two reigned conjointly, and appointed the old
tutor their counsellor.


There was once a very merry, but very poor hostler in Salamanca. He was
so poor that he had to go about his business in rags; and one day when
he was attending on the richly caparisoned mule belonging to the
Archbishop of Toledo, he gave vent to his feelings in words.

“Ah,” said he, “my father was always called a donkey from the day of his
marriage; but would to goodness I were the archbishop’s mule! Look at
the rich livery he bears; look at his stout sides; see how he drinks up
his wine and eats his maize bread! Oh, it would be a merry life, indeed!
My father was, they say, an ass, so I would be a mule!”

And then he leant against the manger, and laughed so heartily that the
archbishop’s mule stopped eating to look at him.

“What ho!” said the mule. “Remember that my reverend master, being a
corpulent man, is somewhat heavy; but if thou wilt change conditions
with me, thou need but take hold of both my ears, and, _caramba_, a mule
thou shalt be, and that in the service of the Archbishop of Toledo!”

“And that will I,” answered Pablo the hostler; “for better be a well-fed
mule than a starving hostler.” So saying, he seized the mule by the
ears, and, looking at him in the face, he was immediately transformed;
but, to his surprise, he saw that the quondam mule was changed into a
monk. “How now!” cried he. “Wilt thou not bring me some more wine and
maize bread, sir monk? Wilt thou not be my hostler?”

But the monk turned away and left the stable, and Pablo then saw that he
had made a mistake. But he resolved that as soon as he was led out into
the street he would run off to his old mother, and implore her to
intercede on his behalf with the patron St. James of Compostella.

When the archbishop had rested, he called for his mule, which was
brought out; and, in the absence of the hostler, whom they could not
find, one of the attendants was about tightening the girths, when the
mule Pablo, seizing the opportunity, bolted away as hard as he could
down the road in the direction of his mother’s house.

The archbishop thought his mule had gone mad, and as the servants
followed it, running, and crying out, “Stop the beast—stop it!” the
rabble joined in the chase; but Pablo never stopped till he got to his
mother’s house.

The old woman was at the door, spinning at her distaff, and as she was
very deaf she had not heard the clamour. Pablo, bending over her, tried
to kiss her hand, to ask her for her blessing, but his tongue now failed
him. So frightened was she at the approach of the animal that she hit
him over the head with her distaff, and cried out, “Abernuncio!”

By this time the servants had surrounded him, and were trying to lead
him back, but he would not go. He stood on his hind-legs, and then lay
down on his side, and rolled in the dust till the scarlet saddle-cloth
was spoilt, and then, suddenly rising, rushed into the cottage, and
tried to sit on his accustomed chair.

His mother fled the house, and the rabble entered, and so cudgelled
Pablo that he was fain to return to the inn; and, after being groomed,
he allowed the archbishop to mount him. However, he had not gone far
before he exclaimed, “By St. Iago, this mule hath the pace of a camel!”
Pablo, not being accustomed to four legs, did not know how to use them,
so that he would move his right fore and hind legs together. This caused
the archbishop great inconvenience, for, being a corpulent man, it made
him roll about on the saddle like the gold ball on the cathedral of
Sevilla, when the west wind loosened it, and the east wind blew it down.

Seizing the pommel with both his hands, and raising himself in his shoe
stirrups, he looked as if he intended to vault over the head of the
mule; and as they were at this moment going through a village, the
inhabitants, who had come out to see the archbishop, thought he was
about to deliver a sermon. So, surrounding the mule, they uncovered
their heads, and knelt awaiting the blessing.

Pablo, forgetting he was a mule, thought the people were doing homage to
him, and being of a merry disposition, he gave way to such inward
laughter that it brought on a violent fit of coughing, which the
faithful—not seeing the face of the archbishop, for they devoutly bent
their heads towards the ground—took to be the natural clearing of the
throat before speaking. But the archbishop, who was now becoming
seriously frightened, and thinking that the evil one had entered the
body of his mule, exclaimed, “Exorciso te—abernuncio!” Then did Pablo
sit down on his hind-quarters, so that the archbishop slid off the
saddle and rolled on the ground, and another “Abernuncio!” in a deeper
tone, brought the devout people to their feet. Pablo at this moment got
up, and by so doing completely capsized the venerable archbishop,
causing him to turn over on to his head. Full of dust and anger, the
prelate started to his feet, and carefully examined his mule to see if
he could account for this peculiar behaviour. Sorely grieved did Pablo
feel at having caused the good archbishop so much annoyance, and, so as
to show his contrition, he went down on his fore-legs, thinking to
kneel, which so frightened all the people that they instinctively took
shelter behind the archbishop. But he was as much afraid as the rest,
and had it not been that they held him by his robes, he would have run

“This beats the mule of Merida,” cried one, “who ran away with the
miller’s wife and then regretted the bargain. See, he is craving for

Pablo the mule rose after kneeling for some time, and, after the
fashion of trained animals of this breed, he extended his fore and
hind-legs, so as to facilitate the archbishop mounting him, which he
soon did, feeling convinced that the mule had intended no harm; but
Pablo, regretting his mistake and the loss of time it had caused, set
off at a quick amble, which so disconcerted his rider that he had to
hold on by the pommel and the crupper; and thus he was hurried out of
the village, and the people were done out of the blessing.

The attendants, who were on foot, tried to keep up with Pablo; but this
they could not do, owing to his long strides; and not until they were
within sight of Toledo did they get up to their master, who, by this
time, was out of breath and countenance. They, fearing that the mule
might start off again, placed a man on each side holding the reins, and
thus did they approach the eastern gate of the city, at which many
priests were waiting with the cross and the sword of the archbishop, in
order to give him a fitting welcome, according to the rules of the
Church. Pablo, seeing the large silver cross, the emblem of
Christianity, slackened his pace, and when within a few yards of it, in
obedience to what his mother had taught him as a child, dropped down on
his knees, bending his head to the ground; but this he did so suddenly,
that the archbishop fell off the saddle on to his neck, and, to break
his fall, caught hold of his servants by their ears, nearly tearing them
off, and causing them also to tumble. Thinking that the evil one had
seized them, they struck out right and left, and nearly stunned their
master with the blows and kicks. Pablo, hoping to retrieve his fortune,
started to his legs with the archbishop clinging round his neck, and
galloped after the two servants with his mouth open, so that, should he
catch them, he might bite them. But they, surmising what he meant,
sought refuge among the priests, and these in their turn made haste to
get into a small chapel close by.

“Our archbishop must have changed mules with Beelzebub,” said a fat
priest, “for no earthly animal would thus treat a prince of the Church!”

“Ay,” continued one of the runaway servants; “and if his neck had been a
foot longer I should have been dangling in mid-air like the coffin of
the false prophet.”

“I never thought to have run so fast again,” ejaculated a very short
and stout priest. “Faith, my legs seemed to grow under me, as our
sacristan said after he had been tossed by the abbot’s bull.”

“But what has become of the archbishop?” said another. “We must not
leave him in his sorry plight.”

Saying this, he carefully opened the door of the chapel, and there they
saw their prelate swooning on the pavement, and Pablo dashing full tilt
among the crowd, trying to wreak his vengeance on as many as he could
possibly get hold of.

Having torn the leather breeches of some half-dozen sightseers, and
knocked down and trampled on some score of men and women, he rushed out
of the city by the same gate, and never stopped till he arrived at the
inn where he had been hostler. The master of the inn, thinking that some
mishap had befallen the archbishop, made haste to secure the mule; but
as it was already night, he postponed sending off one of his servants
till next morning.

Once again at the manger, Pablo had time to consider over the mistake he
had made, and he would gladly have undergone any punishment, could he
but have regained his former shape.

While he was thus musing, he saw the monk approaching, looking very
sorrowful indeed.

“Pablo,” said he, “how dost thou like being a mule?”

Now, Pablo was cunning, and, not wishing to let the monk know what had
happened, he answered—

“As for liking it, I enjoyed carrying the archbishop as much as he liked
being carried; but I am not accustomed to such gay trappings and good
living, so that I am afraid of injuring my health.”

“If that be the case,” continued the monk, “hold down thy head, and I
will relieve thee of the danger; for, to tell you the truth, I find out
that my wife is still living, and she recognized me although I was
disguised as a monk. By my faith, I would rather bear my master’s
harness to the grave than my wife’s tongue from morning till night!
_Caramba_, I hear her knocking at the door! Dear Pablo, let us again
exchange conditions.”

And Pablo, when he awoke next morning, was tightly grasping a beam,
thinking he was the Archbishop of Toledo clinging on to the mule’s neck.

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