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Main > Spain folktales > Fairy tale "Barbara, the Grazier's Wife"

Barbara, the Grazier's Wife

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 small-pox.

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.

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