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The Wolf-Child

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 them:—

“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 continued:—

“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.

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