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Main > Spain folktales > Fairy tale "Elvira, the Sainted Princess"

Elvira, the Sainted Princess

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 square.

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