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Story Of St. Vespaluus
by [?]

“‘I don’t mind being reverenced and greeted and honoured,’ said Vespaluus; ‘I don’t even mind being sainted in moderation, as long as I’m not expected to be saintly as well. But I wish you clearly and finally to understand that I will NOT give up the worship of the august and auspicious serpents.’

“There was a world of unspoken bear-pit in the way he uttered those last words, and the mulberry-dark eyes flashed dangerously.

“‘A new reign,’ said the Chamberlain to himself, ‘but the same old temper.’

“Finally, as a State necessity, the matter of the religions was compromised. At stated intervals the king appeared before his subjects in the national cathedral in the character of St. Vespaluus, and the idolatrous grove was gradually pruned and lopped away till nothing remained of it. But the sacred and esteemed serpents were removed to a private shrubbery in the royal gardens, where Vespaluus the Pagan and certain members of his household devoutly and decently worshipped them. That possibly is the reason why the boy-king’s success in sports and hunting never deserted him to the end of his days, and that is also the reason why, in spite of the popular veneration for his sanctity, he never received official canonization.”

“It has stopped raining,” said the Baroness.