VIRGILIUS THE SORCERER
Long, long ago there was born to a Roman knight and his wife Maja a little boy called Virgilius. While he was still quite little, his father died, and the kinsmen, instead of being a help and protection to the child and his mother, robbed them of their lands and money, and the widow, fearing that they might take the boy's life also, sent him away to Spain, that he might study in the great University of Toledo.
Virgilius was fond of books, and pored over them all day long. But one afternoon, when the boys were given a holiday, he took a long walk, and found himself in a place where he had never been before. In front of him was a cave, and, as no boy ever sees a cave without entering it, he went in. The cave was so deep that it seemed to Virgilius as if it must run far into the heart of the mountain, and he thought he would like to see if it came out anywhere on the other side. For some time he walked on in pitch darkness, but he went steadily on, and by-and-by a glimmer of light shot across the floor, and he heard a voice calling, ' Virgilius! Virgilius !'
'Who calls?' he asked, stopping and looking round.
' Virgilius!' answered the voice, ' do you mark upon the ground where you are standing a slide or bolt?'
' I do,' replied Virgilius.
' Then,' said the voice, ' draw back that bolt, and set me free.'
' But who are you?' asked Virgilius, who never did anything in a hurry.