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THE " STAH" STORIES

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THE STAH" STORIES ..—.——o——■ No. III. THE LEGEND OF THE PASSION FLOWER. TRUE • TILL DEATH." It was a vary lovely and charming girl, who, one summer night, told me this strange tale in a garden in Toledo. As she explained the mysterious conformation of the flower which gives its name to this legend, she carried its leaves and pistils one by one to her lips, plucking them asunder. If I could but put into the story some of the gentle charm, the ingenuous candour with which she made the narrative, you would be no less moved than was I. But since that may not be, here, at least, is what I have retained ofit- ¥ In one of the darkest and most tortuous streets of the imperial city there stood, many years ago, hidden between the high Moodsh belfry of an old church on one side and the sombre walls of a nobleman's dwelling on the other, t. misnable little building, as dingy and darksome 1 as its owner, a Jew, called Daniel Levy. Rancorous and vindictive and full of hatred was Daniel Levy, yet a great hypocrite. According to public rumour, enormous wealth was his. But -every day he might be seen under his gloomy portal, mending old ploughs, old harness, metal buckles. Great was the trade he plied in this kind with the peddlers of Zocodover and the old-clothes women of the Portigo. Despite his hatred toward every Christian, he never passed a mighty seigneur or a venerable religious without repeatedly removing his greasy cap from his bald head, which shone white as ivory. Nor did a client ever step into his hovel without being- met with an obsequious eagerness, aceom- panied by the humblest of smiles. This smile of Daniel Levy's had passed into a proverb in Toledo. That humbleness of his was inown throughout the town. One and the other -were proof against the heaviest trials and pleasan- tries of the most mocking' sort; of the latter his neighbours were not chary. Above the Jew's workshap there opened an old Moorish window, a relic of ancient Arabic architec- ture, over whose framing and lace-like stone carv- ings there clung the green vines which clothe ancient ruins. Behind that window, that broke alone the expanse of the cracked and stained wall, lived the old Jew's daughter's Sarah, basking in its pale light. When the neighbours passed Daniel's door and saw Sarah sitting- behind the blinds of the window above it, their eyes would fall on the old man bending over his anvil, and they would ex- claim in marvel: From such a root how can so exquisite a blossom have sprung ?" Sarah's beauty was marvellous indeed. Her black eyes, under their fringing lashes, were brighter' than the stars in black skies. Her lips were like pomegranates against the whiteness of her skin. She was sixteen, and already there seemed to hang about her that faint sadness which comes with an intelligence that has matured too soon. The richest Jews in the town has asked her hand in marriage, but she had remained .alike in- sensible to the flattery which pursued her and to the desire of her father that she should be pro- tected and cared for before his death. She wished to retain her liberty, she said, and otherwise to all proposals she remained disdainfully silent. One day one who had sought her love in vain said to Daniel "Do you know that your daughter is talked of among our brethren ?" The Jew raised his head for a moment from his anvil, the continual hammering for an instant .ceased.. Impatiently he asked of his inter- locator And what say they of her ?" "They say—they say—what know ?-many things. They say, among others, that your daugh- ter is in love with a Christian." Here the young man stopped that he might judge of the effect of his words. Daniel Levy raised his eyes once more, looked at him fixedly in silence, then, returned to his task, exclaimed And who shall assure me that this is not a calumny 1" "Those may assure you who have seen them talking together on the street while you have been at the meetings of our rabbis cried the young man, surprised that neither his affirmations nor his insinuations had seemed to make any impression on Sarah's father. Daniel, without ceasing from his work, his eyes still bent upon his anvil, took up a, small file and began polishing a clap, with a little ironical laugh. 41 And so," he muttered, "some Christian dog should have pretended to rob me of my daughter, the flower of my tribe, the staff ,of my old age And you, all of you, you think that he could suc- ceed Ha, ha, ha I The file rasped and bit into the clasp. "Ha I Poor old Daniel,' they will all say, 1 he's in his dotage. Why should that decrepit old rascal have so beautiful a, daughter since he is not capable of protecting her from the covetousness of the enemy ?' Ha. ha Dou you think, perchance, that if my daughter has a lover—which might very easily be !—that Daniel will let his treasure be stolen from him ? Do you think that he will not Tcnow how to take his revenge ?" "But," cried the young man, "did you know I know," answered the Jew, rising and laying his hand on'the other's shoulder, more than you do more than you ever shall know until the hour to speak shall have come. Farewell. Go tell our brethren to assemble at the earliest opportunity- to-night, between one and two o'clock, I shall join them. Go." As he spoke Daniel Levy pushed his interlocutor out of the door. Then he gathered up his tools and rapidly began to close the bolts and bars. The creaking of the hinges prevented a sound from reaching his ears that came from above. It was caused by the abrupt falling "of the blind before the window of the beautiful Sarah. It was the night¡ of Good Friday. TTr* inha- bitants of the town, after having attended the ser- vices in the cathedral. were sitting1 quietly by their firesides before retiring to their slumbers. It was very still throughout the city. Only the distant voices,olf the sentries around the palace, or at times the moan of the wind through the narrow streets, broke the silence. Down by the banks of the Tagus, at the foot of the windmills which seem Encrusted in the very rocks which support the town, a ferryman's bark rocked gently. The ferryman seemed to be waiting impatiently, -when he saw a woman come rapidly down the narrow paths which lead from the walls of Toledo to the river. -1 It's she," he muttered, The whole accursed race is up and around to-night, one would think. Where on earth can they be holding their devilifh meeting that they take my boat instead of crossing the bridge, near as it is ? There's no good brewing among them that they thus avoi,d the soldiers at Saint°Servant. Well," as long as it fills my pocket I don't care for the test He settled himself in his skiff and took up his oars, and when Sarah, for she it was, had dropped into her-seat he loosened the boat from its moor- ings and began to row quickly towards the opposite shore. • i i How many have crossed already to-night ?" asked the young girl as they left the bank a little 'behind, and speaking as though of something to which allusion had been made before. I could not count them A whole band. One would'think it was to be their last meeting." Do you know what project they have in their mind, and why they have left the city at this time <of the night ?" I know nothing. But I am very sure they are waiting for some one—and for no good cause." After they had exchanged those few words Sarah dropped into anxious, silent reflection. There can be no doubt," she thought, "that my Ather has discovered all, and is preparing his vengeance. I must know where they have gone, what they are doing, what they will do. A moment's delay might lose all." The boat had touched the farther shore. "My good man," says the beautiful Jewess, throwing a few pieces of money to the ferryman, May I ask if that is the road they took ?" and she pointed to a narrow pathway which led upward through the rocks. Yes. That is the road, and when they reached the Moor's Head they turned to the left, and then disappeared. The devil may know where they were going Sarah took the direction indicated. Her figure might be vaguely seen at intervals at abrupt turn- ings of the rocky and precipitous pathway. When she had reached the Moor's Head her slender shape stood out for a moment in sombre outline against the night sky, then was lost to sight in the dark- ness. It was the ruin of an ancient Gothic temple, antedating the period of the Arabic conquest. Thorns and weeds and parasitical plants grew athwart the crumbling and scattered stones which marked the site of what once had been the atrium, and broken capitals of columns and roughly- sculptured courses lay prone among this growth. Of the temple itself only the lateral walls re- mained standing and a few arches covered with ivy. Sarah, guarded by her presentiment, soon reached the spot which the ferryman had pointed out to her. She hesitated a moment, not knowing which Z!l side to turn, but at last she directed her steps toward the ruins of the old church. Danish no longer the smiling old tinker—obse- quious under the scorn of his enemies, but a man filled with the spirit of vengeance, breathing a deadly fury from his little round eyes—stood before her, giving orders, encouraging, harrying the work of all those men who, like him. were drunk with the prospect of wreaking their rage upon the enemies of their religion. Going from one to the other, he was directing the necessary preparations for consummating the deed upon which he had been meditating for days add days while hammering at his anvil in his hovel. Sarah, who, cloaked by the darkness, had reached the space before the church unseen, smothered a cry of horror at what her eyes beheld. The red reflection of a burning brasier cast a sort of dia- bolical circle about the walls of the church, and by this lig'ht she saw some of the men making efforts to raise a heavy cross, while others were winding a crown of thorns, and others, .again, sharpening enormous nails against a stone. Then she remembered that more that once she had heard her race accused of mysterious crimes. She remembered all those things which had seemed at the time but the fruit of calumny. And now there could be no doubt. Before her eyes stood the instruments of martyrdom, only awaiting their victim. Filled with a holy anger, supported by her faith in the God whom the man she loved had revealed to her, Sarah abruptly issued from behind the underbrush which concealed her. The men, at sight of her, broke into cries of surprise, and Daniel, approaching his daughter with a menacing gesture, exclaimed hoarsely What are you doing here ?" I am here to throw your infamy in your face. You count in vain upon your victim-unless you wish to wreak your vengeance upon me The Christian you await will not come here, for I am his betrothed and I have warned him of his danger Sarah shrieked the old man. Sarah You are not speaking the truth ? You cannot so have betrayed us as to violate the secrecy of our religious rites If you have done so you are no longer my daughter "No, I am not your daughter, for I have another father—one fall of love towards His own No, I am no longer your daughter, since I am a Chris- tian I" At the sound of these words, which the girl had pronounced with tha indomitable courage of the martyr, Daniel, staggering with fury. threw him- self upon her, and, seizing her by the hair. dragged her to the foot of the cross, which seemed to open its arms wide to receive her. There she is he cried, addressing those who surrounded him. "l give her up to you. She has sold both her honour and her faith." f The next day, when the bells of the cathedral were ringing out joyfully an Easter hallelujah Daniel Levy opened the door of his workshop as usual, and. looking up with his eternal smile at the passers-by, began anew to hammer at his anvil. But the blinds of the Moorish window above were nevar more raised, nor did human creature, from that time on, ever again behold the beautiful Jewess Sarah. Very long afterwards a shepherd one day brought the archbishop a flower, such as no one had ever seen before, and in which were outlined all the emblems of the Passien. It was a strange flower, and it only bloomed up on the dismantled ruins of the old church at the place called the Moor's Head. Researches were made at that spot, and the skeleton of a woman was foundi, and near it the instruments of torture of which that strange flower reproduced the shape. No one knew whose mortal remains these might be. But they were loiag held in veneration. To-d«y the flower has become common. But from that time on it has been piously known as the Passion Flower.

CORRESPONDENCE.

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v THIS;.AND THAT.

POETRY:j

EXPORTS AND IMPORTS AT BARRY…

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