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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

But Baron Hardouin advanced to her


"But

you distrust prophecies!" exclaimed the Greek, blushing.

"Even so," continued the Andalusian, stroking his beard; "yet see. If it be true as the astrologers say, I may run to myriad dangers and stand scatheless; for where is the maid who shall put madness in me saving you," with a soft smile; "and are you not my sister, in whose love for my brother I joy?"

"You speak riddles," said Mary, this time casting down her eyes.

"Riddles? There is little profit in the unweaving. Perhaps in Egypt, in that warm, enchanted Nile country, in some genii-haunted island of the great river where the cataract foams, and the sun makes rainbow ever on the mist,--who knows but that I may find my temptress--my destruction!"

"Ah!" cried Richard, laughing now, "she must indeed be more than human fair, for I think no mortal maid will stir the heart of Musa, son of Abdallah, if--" But he paused, and his eyes were on Mary, who clapped her hand upon his lips. Musa was humming gently a weird Spanish song, then laughed in turn in pure merriment. "See, we almost draw swords, because I will not confess myself covetous of Richard's bride!"

"Silence, or I wed neither!" came from Mary; and perforce the two made her blush no more.

Then before the sober days that awaited them came, there was the wedding. Musa

was soon to take ship to Palermo, thence to Egypt; so they hastened the bridal, and Baron Hardouin gave them one which was long the talk of the country-side. Never before was the sky more blue, the air more sweet, the village church bells' pealing merrier. A hundred guests from far and near; amongst them Counts Raymond and Gaston, ridden over from Orange. A noble procession it was to the church, the _jongleurs_ leading in their brightest motley; the bride all in violet silk, gold lace and ermine at her fair throat; on her hair a great crown of roses red as her own red lips; behind pranced Rollo, bearing his lord on an ivory saddle; then all the guests, the great ladies crowned with gold; and flowers upon every neck, upon the beasts, upon the roadway; till the throng came to the church porch, where Sebastian stood to greet them.

In his hands was a book, and on it a little silver ring. Mary stood before the priest, and Richard Longsword at her side. Her eyes were cast down--"She has neither father nor mother to give her away, ah! dear lady," all the women were lamenting. But Baron Hardouin advanced to her, took her hand in his, laid it in the hand of the Norman; and the latter--the words coming from his very soul--repeated the great vow: "Forever I swear it, by God's strength and my strength; in health or in sickness, I promise to guard her." Then Sebastian took the ring: he said a little prayer over it, and gave to Richard; and Richard placed it on three fingers in succession of the little hand that lay in his. "In the name of the Father!"--then, "of the Son!"--then, "of the Holy Ghost!" And on that third finger the ring should abide till life was sped. As it slipped to its place, the women gave a little laugh and cry, "Good omen! it glides easily! She will be a peaceful bride!" For when the ring stuck fast, there was foreboding of shrewings and sorrow.


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