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The Seven Champions Of Christendom by W. H. G. Kingston


Saint James, as long as his arm could wield a lance, continued his heroic combats with pagans and infidels of all sorts, magicians and necromancers, giants and ogres, wild beasts and evil spirits of every kind, sort, and description; but he, at length, too, finding his strength departing, and his hair growing grey, resolved to return home. One day, however, as he was about to put on his armour, to ride forth as usual, he discovered that he could scarcely lift it.

|The time has come, my faithful Pedrillo, when no longer as a steel-clad knight, but as a humble pilgrim, I must wander through the world,| he remarked, sitting down again on the couch from which he had risen. |Go forth, my faithful Squire, and purchase me a palmer's habit, a hat of grey colour, and a broad scallop shell. Never more will I put on yonder coat of steel. I should but disgrace the name I have so long borne as one of the bravest knights of Christendom.|

[Well would it be if other generals and admirals would take a hint from Saint James, and, following his example, would retire, when their powers are failing them, from public life.]

With a sigh the faithful Pedrillo went forth, and procured, as he was directed, a palmer's habit for his master, and one for himself. Their armour being packed up and carried on their war-steeds, they now, as pilgrims, journeyed homewards; but all who met them knew full well what they had been, and even midnight robbers and outlaws respected them, and allowed them to pass unmolested.

Thus travelling on, they reached at length the wide plains of sunny Spain. There Saint James resolved to build a chapel, and to devote himself to its service. He erected also a hermitage hard by, where he and his faithful Pedrillo, who would not quit him, took up their abode as hermits. Then the peasantry from far and near came to visit them. Much good advice Saint James could give them, and many things he taught them, while numberless were the strange stories he could tell of the wonderful things he had seen and done in foreign lands.

In time, his chapel, from the gifts brought to it, became one of the richest in the land; and this so excited the envy and anger of the monks of a neighbouring convent, that they conspired together to accuse him of necromancy and other terrible crimes.

Saint James boldly refuted the accusations, and offered, once more, to try his lance against any friar among them who was man enough to put on armour and meet him in single combat; but they all declined the honour, though they did not the less hurl their invectives against him, and seek opportunities for his destruction.

At length, he and some of his more pious fellow-worshippers were caught one day inside their chapel. The doors were closed upon them, and the wicked monks, hiring a band of Pagan mercenaries, had them all shot to death by poisoned arrows. In spite of the pain they suffered, the Saint and his companions continued singing their hymns to the last, while a bright silvery light burst forth in the chapel -- (so says the ancient chronicler) -- which continued burning glorious as ever; and when, at length, the chapel was opened, the body of Saint James and the bodies of his companions were found to be perfectly embalmed. Then they were placed in marble tombs with silver lids; and, to the present day, Saint James, by all real Spaniards, is held in the highest esteem and reverence.

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