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The Palace of the Enchanted Moors

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 palace.

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.

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