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A Legend of St. Bartholomew

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 patriarch.

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 Alina.

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