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Title: The Alhambra
Author: Irving, Washington
Language: English
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                             THE ALHAMBRA

               [Illustration: TOWER OF THE PRINCESSES.]



                            Fulton Edition

                             THE WORKS OF
                           WASHINGTON IRVING

                             THE ALHAMBRA

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                               NEW YORK
                            THE CENTURY CO.
                                 1910]



PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION


Rough draughts of some of the following tales and essays were actually
written during a residence in the Alhambra; others were subsequently
added, founded on notes and observations made there. Care was taken to
maintain local coloring and verisimilitude; so that the whole might
present a faithful and living picture of that microcosm, that singular
little world into which I had been fortuitously thrown; and about which
the external world had a very imperfect idea. It was my endeavor
scrupulously to depict its half Spanish, half Oriental character; its
mixture of the heroic, the poetic, and the grotesque; to revive the
traces of grace and beauty fast fading from its walls; to record the
regal and chivalrous traditions concerning those who once trod its
courts; and the whimsical and superstitious legends of the motley race
now burrowing among its ruins.

The papers thus roughly sketched out lay for three or four years in my
portfolio, until I found myself in London, in 1832, on the eve of
returning to the United States. I then endeavored to arrange them for
the press, but the preparations for departure did not allow sufficient
leisure. Several were thrown aside as incomplete; the rest were put
together somewhat hastily and in rather a crude and chaotic manner.

In the present edition I have revised and rearranged the whole work,
enlarged some parts, and added others, including the papers originally
omitted; and have thus endeavored to render it more complete and more
worthy of the indulgent reception with which it has been favored.

W. I.

SUNNYSIDE 1851.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

THE JOURNEY                                                            1

PALACE OF THE ALHAMBRA                                                33

IMPORTANT NEGOTIATIONS.--THE AUTHOR SUCCEEDS TO THE THRONE OF BOABDIL 47

INHABITANTS OF THE ALHAMBRA                                           54

THE HALL OF AMBASSADORS                                               58

THE JESUITS’ LIBRARY                                                  64

ALHAMAR, THE FOUNDER OF THE ALHAMBRA                                  65

YUSEF ABUL HAGIG, THE FINISHER OF THE ALHAMBRA                        72

THE MYSTERIOUS CHAMBERS                                               76

PANORAMA FROM THE TOWER OF COMARES                                    85

THE TRUANT                                                            92

THE BALCONY                                                           95

THE ADVENTURE OF THE MASON                                           101

THE COURT OF LIONS                                                   105

THE ABENCERRAGES                                                     112

MEMENTOS OF BOABDIL                                                  124

PUBLIC FÊTES OF GRANADA                                              129

LOCAL TRADITIONS                                                     137

THE HOUSE OF THE WEATHERCOCK                                         139

LEGEND OF THE ARABIAN ASTROLOGER                                     142

VISITORS OF THE ALHAMBRA                                             162

RELICS AND GENEALOGIES                                               167

THE GENERALIFE                                                       170

LEGEND OF PRINCE AHMED AL KAMEL; OR, THE PILGRIM OF LOVE             172

A RAMBLE AMONG THE HILLS                                             205

LEGEND OF THE MOOR’S LEGACY                                          214

THE TOWER OF LAS INFANTAS                                            236

LEGEND OF THE THREE BEAUTIFUL PRINCESSES                             237

LEGEND OF THE ROSE OF THE ALHAMBRA                                   262

THE VETERAN                                                          279

THE GOVERNOR AND THE NOTARY                                          281

GOVERNOR MANCO AND THE SOLDIER                                       288

A FÊTE IN THE ALHAMBRA                                               306

LEGEND OF THE TWO DISCREET STATUES                                   311

THE CRUSADE OF THE GRAND MASTER OF ALCANTRA                          330

SPANISH ROMANCE                                                      338

LEGEND OF DON MUNIO SANCO DE HINOJOSA                                341

POETS AND POETRY OF MOSLEM ANDALUS                                   347

AN EXPEDITION IN QUEST OF A DIPLOMA                                  355

THE LEGEND OF THE ENCHANTED SOLDIER                                  358

THE AUTHOR’S FAREWELL TO GRANADA                                     373



THE ALHAMBRA



THE JOURNEY


In the spring of 1829, the author of this work, whom curiosity had
brought into Spain, made a rambling expedition from Seville to Granada
in company with a friend, a member of the Russian Embassy at Madrid.
Accident had thrown us together from distant regions of the globe and a
similarity of taste led us to wander together among the romantic
mountains of Andalusia. Should these pages meet his eye, wherever thrown
by the duties of his station, whether mingling in the pageantry of
courts, or meditating on the truer glories of nature, may they recall
the scenes of our adventurous companionship, and with them the
recollection of one, in whom neither time nor distance will obliterate
the remembrance of his gentleness and worth.[1]

And here, before setting forth, let me indulge in a few previous remarks
on Spanish scenery and Spanish travelling. Many are apt to picture Spain
to their imaginations as a soft southern region, decked out with the
luxuriant charms of voluptuous Italy. On the contrary, though there are
exceptions in some of the maritime provinces, yet, for the greater part,
it is a stern, melancholy country, with rugged mountains, and long
sweeping plains, destitute of trees, and indescribably silent and
lonesome, partaking of the savage and solitary character of Africa. What
adds to this silence and loneliness, is the absence of singing-birds, a
natural consequence of the want of groves and hedges. The vulture and
the eagle are seen wheeling about the mountain-cliffs, and soaring over
the plains, and groups of shy bustards stalk about the heaths; but the
myriads of smaller birds, which animate the whole face of other
countries, are met with in but few provinces in Spain, and in those
chiefly among the orchards and gardens which surround the habitations of
man.

In the interior provinces the traveller occasionally traverses great
tracts cultivated with grain as far as the eye can reach, waving at
times with verdure, at other times naked and sunburnt, but he looks
round in vain for the hand that has tilled the soil. At length he
perceives some village on a steep hill, or rugged crag, with mouldering
battlements and ruined watchtower: a stronghold, in old times, against
civil war, or Moorish inroad; for the custom among the peasantry of
congregating together for mutual protection is still kept up in most
parts of Spain, in consequence of the maraudings of roving freebooters.

But though a great part of Spain is deficient in the garniture of groves
and forests, and the softer charms of ornamental cultivation, yet its
scenery is noble in its severity and in unison with the attributes of
its people; and I think that I better understand the proud, hardy,
frugal, and abstemious Spaniard, his manly defiance of hardships, and
contempt of effeminate indulgences, since I have seen the country he
inhabits.

There is something, too, in the sternly simple features of the Spanish
landscape, that impresses on the soul a feeling of sublimity. The
immense plains of the Castiles and of La Mancha, extending as far as the
eye can reach, derive an interest from their very nakedness and
immensity, and possess, in some degree, the solemn grandeur of the
ocean. In ranging over these boundless wastes, the eye catches sight
here and there of a straggling herd of cattle attended by a lonely
herdsman, motionless as a statue, with his long slender pike tapering up
like a lance into the air; or beholds a long train of mules slowly
moving along the waste like a train of camels in the desert; or a single
horseman, armed with blunderbuss and stiletto, and prowling over the
plain. Thus the country, the habits, the very looks of the people, have
something of the Arabian character. The general insecurity of the
country is evinced in the universal use of weapons. The herdsman in the
field, the shepherd in the plain, has his musket and his knife. The
wealthy villager rarely ventures to the market-town without his trabuco,
and, perhaps, a servant on foot with a blunderbuss on his shoulder; and
the most petty journey is undertaken with the preparation of a warlike
enterprise.

The dangers of the road produce also a mode of travelling resembling, on
a diminutive scale, the caravans of the East. The arrieros, or carriers,
congregate in convoys, and set off in large and well-armed trains on
appointed days; while additional travellers swell their number, and
contribute to their strength. In this primitive way is the commerce of
the country carried on. The muleteer is the general medium of traffic,
and the legitimate traverser of the land, crossing the peninsula from
the Pyrenees and the Asturias to the Alpuxarras, the Serrania de Ronda,
and even to the gates of Gibraltar. He lives frugally and hardily: his
alforjas of coarse cloth hold his scanty stock of provisions; a leathern
bottle, hanging at his saddle-bow, contains wine or water, for a supply
across barren mountains and thirsty plains; a mule-cloth spread upon the
ground is his bed at night, and his pack-saddle his pillow. His low, but
clean-limbed and sinewy form betokens strength; his complexion is dark
and sunburnt; his eye resolute, but quiet in its expression, except
when kindled by sudden emotion; his demeanor is frank, manly, and
courteous, and he never passes you without a grave salutation: “Dios
guarde à usted!” “Va usted con Dios, Caballero!” “God guard you!” “God
be with you, Cavalier!”

As these men have often their whole fortune at stake upon the burden of
their mules, they have their weapons at hand, slung to their saddles,
and ready to be snatched out for desperate defence; but their united
numbers render them secure against petty bands of marauders, and the
solitary bandolero, armed to the teeth, and mounted on his Andalusian
steed, hovers about them, like a pirate about a merchant convoy, without
daring to assault.

The Spanish muleteer has an inexhaustible stock of songs and ballads,
with which to beguile his incessant wayfaring. The airs are rude and
simple, consisting of but few inflections. These he chants forth with a
loud voice, and long, drawling cadence, seated sideways on his mule, who
seems to listen with infinite gravity, and to keep time, with his paces,
to the tune. The couplets thus chanted are often old traditional
romances about the Moors, or some legend of a saint, or some love-ditty;
or, what is still more frequent, some ballad about a bold
contrabandista, or hardy bandolero, for the smuggler and the robber are
poetical heroes among the common people of Spain. Often, the song of the
muleteer is composed at the instant, and relates to some local scene, or
some incident of the journey. This talent of singing and improvising is
frequent in Spain, and is said to have been inherited from the Moors.
There is something wildly pleasing in listening to these ditties among
the rude and lonely scenes they illustrate; accompanied, as they are, by
the occasional jingle of the mule-bell.

It has a most picturesque effect also to meet a train of muleteers in
some mountain-pass. First you hear the bells of the leading mules
breaking with their simple melody the stillness of the airy height; or,
perhaps, the voice of the muleteer admonishing some tardy or wandering
animal, or chanting, at the full stretch of his lungs, some traditionary
ballad. At length you see the mules slowly winding along the cragged
defile, sometimes descending precipitous cliffs, so as to present
themselves in full relief against the sky, sometimes toiling up the deep
arid chasms below you. As they approach, you descry their gay
decorations of worsted stuffs, tassels, and saddle-cloths, while, as
they pass by, the ever ready trabuco, slung behind the packs and
saddles, gives a hint of the insecurity of the road.

The ancient kingdom of Granada, into which we were about to penetrate,
is one of the most mountainous regions of Spain. Vast sierras, or chains
of mountains, destitute of shrub or tree, and mottled with variegated
marbles and granites, elevate their sunburnt summits against a deep-blue
sky; yet in their rugged bosoms lie ingulfed verdant and fertile
valleys, where the desert and the garden strive for mastery, and the
very rock is, as it were, compelled to yield the fig, the orange, and
the citron, and to blossom with the myrtle and the rose.

In the wild passes of these mountains the sight of walled towns and
villages, built like eagles’ nests among the cliffs, and surrounded by
Moorish battlements, or of ruined watch-towers perched on lofty peaks,
carries the mind back to the chivalric days of Christian and Moslem
warfare, and to the romantic struggle for the conquest of Granada. In
traversing these lofty sierras the traveller is often obliged to alight,
and lead his horse up and down the steep and jagged ascents and
descents, resembling the broken steps of a staircase. Sometimes the road
winds along dizzy precipices, without parapet to guard him from the
gulfs below, and then will plunge down steep and dark and dangerous
declivities. Sometimes it struggles through rugged barrancos, or
ravines, worn by winter torrents, the obscure path of the
contrabandista; while, ever and anon, the ominous cross, the monument of
robbery and murder, erected on a mound of stones at some lonely part of
the road, admonishes the traveller that he is among the haunts of
banditti, perhaps at that very moment under the eye of some lurking
bandolero. Sometimes, in winding through the narrow valleys, he is
startled by a hoarse bellowing, and beholds above him on some green fold
of the mountain a herd of fierce Andalusian bulls, destined for the
combat of the arena. I have felt, if I may so express it, an agreeable
horror in thus contemplating, near at hand, these terrific animals,
clothed with tremendous strength, and ranging their native pastures in
untamed wildness, strangers almost to the face of man: they know no one
but the solitary herdsman who attends upon them, and even he at times
dares not venture to approach them. The low bellowing of these bulls,
and their menacing aspect as they look down from their rocky height,
give additional wildness to the savage scenery.

I have been betrayed unconsciously into a longer disquisition than I
intended on the general features of Spanish travelling; but there is a
romance about all the recollections of the Peninsula dear to the
imagination.

As our proposed route to Granada lay through mountainous regions, where
the roads are little better than mule-paths, and said to be frequently
beset by robbers, we took due travelling precautions. Forwarding the
most valuable part of our luggage a day or two in advance by the
arrieros, we retained merely clothing and necessaries for the journey
and money for the expenses of the road; with a little surplus of hard
dollars by way of _robber purse_, to satisfy the gentlemen of the road
should we be assailed. Unlucky is the too wary traveller who, having
grudged this precaution, falls into their clutches empty-handed; they
are apt to give him a sound ribroasting for cheating them out of their
dues. “Caballeros like them cannot afford to scour the roads and risk
the gallows for nothing.”

A couple of stout steeds were provided for our own mounting, and a third
for our scanty luggage and the conveyance of a sturdy Biscayan lad,
about twenty years of age, who was to be our guide, our groom, our
valet, and at all times our guard. For the latter office he was provided
with a formidable trabuco or carbine, with which he promised to defend
us against rateros or solitary footpads; but as to powerful bands, like
that of the “Sons of Ecija,” he confessed they were quite beyond his
prowess. He made much vainglorious boast about his weapon at the outset
of the journey; though, to the discredit of his generalship, it was
suffered to hang unloaded behind his saddle.

According to our stipulations, the man from whom we hired the horses was
to be at the expense of their feed and stabling on the journey, as well
as of the maintenance of our Biscayan squire, who of course was provided
with funds for the purpose; we took care, however, to give the latter a
private hint, that, though we made a close bargain with his master, it
was all in his favor, as, if he proved a good man and true, both he and
the horses should live at our cost, and the money provided for their
maintenance remain in his pocket. This unexpected largess, with the
occasional present of a cigar, won his heart completely. He was, in
truth, a faithful, cheery, kind-hearted creature, as full of saws and
proverbs as that miracle of squires, the renowned Sancho himself, whose
name, by the by, we bestowed upon him, and, like a true Spaniard,
though treated by us with companionable familiarity, he never for a
moment, in his utmost hilarity, overstepped the bounds of respectful
decorum.

Such were our minor preparations for the journey, but above all we laid
in an ample stock of good-humor, and a genuine disposition to be
pleased; determining to travel in true contrabandista style; taking
things as we found them, rough or smooth, and mingling with all classes
and conditions in a kind of vagabond companionship. It is the true way
to travel in Spain. With such disposition and determination, what a
country is it for a traveller, where the most miserable inn is as full
of adventure as an enchanted castle, and every meal is in itself an
achievement! Let others repine at the lack of turnpike roads and
sumptuous hotels, and all the elaborate comforts of a country cultivated
and civilized into tameness and commonplace; but give me the rude
mountain scramble; the roving, hap-hazard, wayfaring; the half wild, yet
frank and hospitable manners, which impart such a true game-flavor to
dear old romantic Spain!

Thus equipped and attended, we cantered out of “Fair Seville city” at
half-past six in the morning of a bright May day, in company with a lady
and gentleman of our acquaintance, who rode a few miles with us, in the
Spanish mode of taking leave. Our route lay through old Alcala de
Guadaira (Alcala on the river Aira), the benefactress of Seville, that
supplies it with bread and water. Here live the bakers who furnish
Seville with that delicious bread for which it is renowned; here are
fabricated those roscas well known by the well-merited appellation of
_pan de Dios_ (bread of God); with which, by the way, we ordered our
man, Sancho, to stock his alforjas for the journey. Well has this
beneficent little city been denominated the “Oven of Seville”; well has
it been called Alcala de los Panaderos (Alcala of the bakers), for a
great part of its inhabitants are of that handicraft, and the highway
hence to Seville is constantly traversed by lines of mules and donkeys
laden with great panniers of loaves and roscas.

I have said Alcala supplies Seville with water. Here are great tanks or
reservoirs, of Roman and Moorish construction, whence water is conveyed
to Seville by noble aqueducts. The springs of Alcala are almost as much
vaunted as its ovens; and to the lightness, sweetness, and purity of its
water is attributed in some measure the delicacy of its bread.

Here we halted for a time, at the ruins of the old Moorish castle, a
favorite resort for picnic parties from Seville, where we had passed
many a pleasant hour. The walls are of great extent, pierced with
loopholes; enclosing a huge square tower or keep, with the remains of
masmoras, or subterranean granaries. The Guadaira winds its stream round
the hill, at the foot of these ruins, whimpering among reeds, rushes,
and pond-lilies, and overhung with rhododendron, eglantine, yellow
myrtle, and a profusion of wild flowers and aromatic shrubs; while along
its banks are groves of oranges, citrons, and pomegranates, among which
we heard the early note of the nightingale.

A picturesque bridge was thrown across the little river, at one end of
which was the ancient Moorish mill of the castle, defended by a tower of
yellow stone; a fisherman’s net hung against the wall to dry, and hard
by in the river was his boat; a group of peasant women in bright-colored
dresses, crossing the arched bridge, were reflected in the placid
stream. Altogether it was an admirable scene for a landscape-painter.

The old Moorish mills, so often found on secluded streams, are
characteristic objects in Spanish landscape, and suggestive of the
perilous times of old. They are of stone, and often in the form of
towers with loopholes and battlements, capable of defence in those
warlike days when the country on both sides of the border was subject to
sudden inroad and hasty ravage, and when men had to labor with their
weapons at hand, and some place of temporary refuge.

Our next halting-place was at Gandul, where were the remains of another
Moorish castle, with its ruined tower, a nestling-place for storks, and
commanding a view over a vast campiña or fertile plain, with the
mountains of Ronda in the distance. These castles were strongholds to
protect the plains from the talas or forays to which they were subject,
when the fields of corn would be laid waste, the flocks and herds swept
from the vast pastures, and, together with captive peasantry, hurried
off in long cavalgadas across the borders.

At Gandul we found a tolerable posada; the good folks could not tell us
what time of day it was, the clock only struck once in the day, two
hours after noon; until that time it was guesswork. We guessed it was
full time to eat; so, alighting, we ordered a repast. While that was in
preparation, we visited the palace once the residence of the Marquis of
Gandul. All was gone to decay; there were but two or three rooms
habitable, and very poorly furnished. Yet here were the remains of
grandeur: a terrace, where fair dames and gentle cavaliers may once have
walked; a fish-pond and ruined garden, with grape-vines and date-bearing
palm-trees. Here we were joined by a fat curate, who gathered a bouquet
of roses, and presented it, very gallantly, to the lady who accompanied
us.

Below the palace was the mill, with orange-trees and aloes in front, and
a pretty stream of pure water. We took a seat in the shade; and the
millers, all leaving their work, sat down and smoked with us; for the
Andalusians are always ready for a gossip. They were waiting for the
regular visit of the barber, who came once a week to put all their chins
in order. He arrived shortly afterwards: a lad of seventeen, mounted on
a donkey, eager to display his new alforjas or saddle-bags, just bought
at a fair; price one dollar, to be paid on St. John’s day (in June), by
which time he trusted to have mown beards enough to put him in funds.

By the time the laconic clock of the castle had struck two we had
finished our dinner. So, taking leave of our Seville friends, and
leaving the millers still under the hands of the barber, we set off on
our ride across the campiña. It was one of those vast plains, common in
Spain, where for miles and miles there is neither house nor tree.
Unlucky the traveller who has to traverse it, exposed as we were to
heavy and repeated showers of rain. There is no escape nor shelter. Our
only protection was our Spanish cloaks, which nearly covered man and
horse, but grew heavier every mile. By the time we had lived through one
shower we would see another slowly but inevitably approaching;
fortunately in the interval there would be an outbreak of bright, warm,
Andalusian sunshine, which would make our cloaks send up wreaths of
steam, but which partially dried them before the next drenching.

Shortly after sunset we arrived at Arahal, a little town among the
hills. We found it in a bustle with a party of miquelets, who were
patrolling the country to ferret out robbers. The appearance of
foreigners like ourselves was an unusual circumstance in an interior
country town; and little Spanish towns of the kind are easily put in a
state of gossip and wonderment by such an occurrence. Mine host, with
two or three old wiseacre comrades in brown cloaks, studied our
passports in a corner of the posada, while an Alguazil took notes by the
dim light of a lamp. The passports were in foreign languages and
perplexed them, but our squire, Sancho, assisted them in their studies,
and magnified our importance with the grandiloquence of a Spaniard. In
the mean time the magnificent distribution of a few cigars had won the
hearts of all around us; in a little while the whole community seemed
put in agitation to make us welcome. The corregidor himself waited upon
us, and a great rush-bottomed arm-chair was ostentatiously bolstered
into our room by our landlady, for the accommodation of that important
personage. The commander of the patrol took supper with us: a lively,
talking, laughing Andaluz, who had made a campaign in South America, and
recounted his exploits in love and war with much pomp of phrase,
vehemence of gesticulation, and mysterious rolling of the eye. He told
us that he had a list of all the robbers in the country, and meant to
ferret out every mother’s son of them; he offered us at the same time
some of his soldiers as an escort. “One is enough to protect you,
Señors; the robbers know me, and know my men; the sight of one is enough
to spread terror through a whole sierra.” We thanked him for his offer,
but assured him, in his own strain, that with the protection of our
redoubtable squire, Sancho, we were not afraid of all the ladrones of
Andalusia.

While we were supping with our drawcansir friend, we heard the notes of
a guitar, and the click of castanets, and presently a chorus of voices
singing a popular air. In fact, mine host had gathered together the
amateur singers and musicians, and the rustic belles of the
neighborhood, and, on going forth, the courtyard or patio of the inn
presented a scene of true Spanish festivity. We took our seats with mine
host and hostess and the commander of the patrol, under an archway
opening into the court; the guitar passed from hand to hand, but a
jovial shoemaker was the Orpheus of the place. He was a
pleasant-looking fellow, with huge black whiskers; his sleeves were
rolled up to his elbows. He touched the guitar with masterly skill, and
sang a little amorous ditty with an expressive leer at the women, with
whom he was evidently a favorite. He afterwards danced a fandango with a
buxom Andalusian damsel, to the great delight of the spectators. But
none of the females present could compare with mine host’s pretty
daughter, Pepita, who had slipped away and made her toilette for the
occasion, and had covered her head with roses; and who distinguished
herself in a bolero with a handsome young dragoon. We ordered our host
to let wine and refreshment circulate freely among the company, yet,
though there was a motley assembly of soldiers, muleteers, and
villagers, no one exceeded the bounds of sober enjoyment. The scene was
a study for a painter: the picturesque group of dancers, the troopers in
their half military dresses, the peasantry wrapped in their brown
cloaks; nor must I omit to mention the old meagre Alguazil, in a short
black cloak, who took no notice of anything going on, but sat in a
corner diligently writing by the dim light of a huge copper lamp, that
might have figured in the days of Don Quixote.

The following morning was bright and balmy, as a May morning ought to
be, according to the poets. Leaving Arahal at seven o’clock, with all
the posada at the door to cheer us off, we pursued our way through a
fertile country, covered with grain and beautifully verdant; but which
in summer, when the harvest is over and the fields parched and brown,
must be monotonous and lonely; for, as in our ride of yesterday, there
were neither houses nor people to be seen. The latter all congregate in
villages and strongholds among the hills, as if these fertile plains
were still subject to the ravages of the Moor.

At noon we came to where there was a group of trees, beside a brook in a
rich meadow. Here we alighted to make our mid-day meal. It was really a
luxurious spot, among wild flowers and aromatic herbs, with birds
singing around us. Knowing the scanty larders of Spanish inns, and the
houseless tracts we might have to traverse, we had taken care to have
the alforjas of our squire well stocked with cold provisions, and his
bota, or leathern bottle, which might hold a gallon, filled to the neck
with choice Valdepeñas wine.[2] As we depended more upon these for our
well-being than even his trabuco, we exhorted him to be more attentive
in keeping them well charged; and I must do him the justice to say that
his namesake, the trencher-loving Sancho Panza, was never a more
provident purveyor. Though the alforjas and the bota were frequently and
vigorously assailed throughout the journey, they had a wonderful power
of repletion, our vigilant squire sacking everything that remained from
our repasts at the inns, to supply these junketings by the road-side,
which were his delight.

On the present occasion he spread quite a sumptuous variety of remnants
on the greensward before us, graced with an excellent ham brought from
Seville; then, taking his seat at a little distance, he solaced himself
with what remained in the alforjas. A visit or two to the bota made him
as merry and chirruping as a grasshopper filled with dew. On my
comparing his contents of the alforjas to Sancho’s skimming of the
flesh-pots at the wedding of Cammacho, I found he was well versed in
the history of Don Quixote, but, like many of the common people of
Spain, firmly believed it to be a true history.

“All that happened a long time ago, Señor,” said he, with an inquiring
look.

“A very long time,” I replied.

“I dare say more than a thousand years,”--still looking dubiously.

“I dare say not less.”

The squire was satisfied. Nothing pleased the simple-hearted varlet more
than my comparing him to the renowned Sancho for devotion to the
trencher; and he called himself by no other name throughout the journey.

Our repast being finished, we spread our cloaks on the greensward under
the tree, and took a luxurious siesta in the Spanish fashion. The
clouding up of the weather, however, warned us to depart, and a harsh
wind sprang up from the southeast. Towards five o’clock we arrived at
Osuna, a town of fifteen thousand inhabitants, situated on the side of a
hill, with a church and a ruined castle. The posada was outside of the
walls; it had a cheerless look. The evening being cold, the inhabitants
were crowded round a brasero in a chimney-corner; and the hostess was a
dry old woman, who looked like a mummy. Every one eyed us askance as we
entered, as Spaniards are apt to regard strangers; a cheery, respectful
salutation on our part, caballeroing them and touching our sombreros,
set Spanish pride at ease; and when we took our seat among them, lit our
cigars, and passed the cigar-box round among them, our victory was
complete. I have never known a Spaniard, whatever his rank or condition,
who would suffer himself to be outdone in courtesy; and to the common
Spaniard the present of a cigar (puro) is irresistible. Care, however,
must be taken never to offer him a present with an air of superiority
and condescension; he is too much of a caballero to receive favors at
the cost of his dignity.

Leaving Osuna at an early hour the next morning, we entered the sierra
or range of mountains. The road wound through picturesque scenery, but
lonely; and a cross here and there by the road-side, the sign of a
murder, showed that we were now coming among the “robber haunts.” This
wild and intricate country, with its silent plains and valleys
intersected by mountains, has ever been famous for banditti. It was here
that Omar Ibn Hassan, a robber-chief among the Moslems, held ruthless
sway in the ninth century, disputing dominion even with the caliphs of
Cordova. This too was a part of the regions so often ravaged during the
reign of Ferdinand and Isabella by Ali Atar, the old Moorish alcayde of
Loxa, father-in-law of Boabdil, so that it was called Ali Atar’s garden,
and here “Jose Maria,” famous in Spanish brigand story, had his favorite
lurking-places.

In the course of the day we passed through Fuente la Piedra, near a
little salt lake of the same name, a beautiful sheet of water,
reflecting like a mirror the distant mountains. We now came in sight of
Antiquera, that old city of warlike reputation, lying in the lap of the
great sierra which runs through Andalusia. A noble Vega spread out
before it, a picture of mild fertility set in a frame of rocky
mountains. Crossing a gentle river we approached the city between hedges
and gardens, in which nightingales were pouring forth their evening
song. About nightfall we arrived at the gates. Everything in this
venerable city has a decidedly Spanish stamp. It lies too much out of
the frequented track of foreign travel to have its old usages trampled
out. Here I observed old men still wearing the montero, or ancient
hunting-cap, once common throughout Spain; while the young men wore the
little round-crowned hat, with brim turned up all round, like a cup
turned down in its saucer; while the brim was set off with little black
tufts like cockades. The women, too, were all in mantillas and
basquinas. The fashions of Paris had not reached Antiquera.

Pursuing our course through a spacious street, we put up at the posada
of San Fernando. As Antiquera, though a considerable city, is, as I
observed, somewhat out of the track of travel, I had anticipated bad
quarters and poor fare at the inn. I was agreeably disappointed,
therefore, by a supper-table amply supplied, and what were still more
acceptable, good clean rooms and comfortable beds. Our man Sancho felt
himself as well off as his namesake when he had the run of the duke’s
kitchen, and let me know, as I retired for the night, that it had been a
proud time for the alforjas.

Early in the morning (May 4th) I strolled to the ruins of the old
Moorish castle, which itself had been reared on the ruins of a Roman
fortress. Here, taking my seat on the remains of a crumbling tower, I
enjoyed a grand and varied landscape, beautiful in itself, and full of
storied and romantic associations; for I was now in the very heart of
the country famous for the chivalrous contests between Moor and
Christian. Below me, in its lap of hills, lay the old warrior city so
often mentioned in chronicle and ballad. Out of yon gate and down yon
hill paraded the band of Spanish cavaliers, of highest rank and bravest
bearing, to make that foray during the war and conquest of Granada,
which ended in the lamentable massacre among the mountains of Malaga,
and laid all Andalusia in mourning. Beyond spread out the Vega, covered
with gardens and orchards and fields of grain and enamelled meadows,
inferior only to the famous Vega of Granada. To the right the Rock of
the Lovers stretched like a cragged promontory into the plain, whence
the daughter of the Moorish alcayde and her lover, when closely
pursued, threw themselves in despair.

The matin peal from church and convent below me rang sweetly in the
morning air, as I descended. The market-place was beginning to throng
with the populace, who traffic in the abundant produce of the vega; for
this is the mart of an agricultural region. In the market-place were
abundance of freshly plucked roses for sale; for not a dame or damsel of
Andalusia thinks her gala dress complete without a rose shining like a
gem among her raven tresses.

On returning to the inn I found our man Sancho in high gossip with the
landlord and two or three of his hangers-on. He had just been telling
some marvellous story about Seville, which mine host seemed piqued to
match with one equally marvellous about Antiquera. There was once a
fountain, he said, in one of the public squares, called _Il fuente del
toro_, (the fountain of the bull,) because the water gushed from the
mouth of a bull’s head, carved of stone. Underneath the head was
inscribed,--

    En frente del toro
    Se hallen tesoro.

(In front of the bull there is treasure.) Many digged in front of the
fountain, but lost their labor and found no money. At last one knowing
fellow construed the motto a different way. It is in the forehead
(frente) of the bull that the treasure is to be found, said he to
himself, and I am the man to find it. Accordingly he came, late at
night, with a mallet, and knocked the head to pieces; and what do you
think he found?

“Plenty of gold and diamonds!” cried Sancho eagerly.

“He found nothing,” rejoined mine host, dryly, “and he ruined the
fountain.”

Here a great laugh was set up by the landlord’s hangers-on; who
considered Sancho completely taken in by what I presume was one of mine
host’s standing jokes.

Leaving Antiquera at eight o’clock, we had a delightful ride along the
little river, and by gardens and orchards fragrant with the odors of
spring and vocal with the nightingale. Our road passed round the Rock of
the Lovers (el peñon de los enamorados), which rose in a precipice above
us. In the course of the morning we passed through Archidona, situated
in the breast of a high hill, with a three-pointed mountain towering
above it, and the ruins of a Moorish fortress. It was a great toil to
ascend a steep stony street leading up into the city, although it bore
the encouraging name of Calle Real del Llano (the royal street of the
plain), but it was still a greater toil to descend from this mountain
city on the other side.

At noon we halted in sight of Archidona, in a pleasant little meadow
among hills covered with olive-trees. Our cloaks were spread on the
grass, under an elm by the side of a bubbling rivulet; our horses were
tethered where they might crop the herbage, and Sancho was told to
produce his alforjas. He had been unusually silent this morning ever
since the laugh raised at his expense, but now his countenance
brightened, and he produced his alforjas with an air of triumph. They
contained the contributions of four days’ journeying, but had been
signally enriched by the foraging of the previous evening in the
plenteous inn at Antiquera; and this seemed to furnish him with a
set-off to the banter of mine host.

    En frente del toro
    Se hallen tesoro

would he exclaim, with a chuckling laugh, as he drew forth the
heterogeneous contents one by one, in a series which seemed to have no
end. First came forth a shoulder of roasted kid, very little the worse
for wear; then an entire partridge; then a great morsel of salted
codfish wrapped in paper; then the residue of a ham; then the half of a
pullet, together with several rolls of bread, and a rabble rout of
oranges, figs, raisins, and walnuts. His bota also had been recruited
with some excellent wine of Malaga. At every fresh apparition from his
larder, he would enjoy our ludicrous surprise, throwing himself back on
the grass, shouting with laughter, and exclaiming, “Frente del
toro!--frente del toro! Ah, Señors, they thought Sancho a simpleton at
Antiquera; but Sancho knew where to find the _tesoro_.”

While we were diverting ourselves with his simple drollery, a solitary
beggar approached, who had almost the look of a pilgrim. He had a
venerable gray beard, and was evidently very old, supporting himself on
a staff, yet age had not bowed him down; he was tall and erect, and had
the wreck of a fine form. He wore a round Andalusian hat, a sheep-skin
jacket, and leathern breeches, gaiters, and sandals. His dress, though
old and patched, was decent, his demeanor manly, and he addressed us
with the grave courtesy that is to be remarked in the lowest Spaniard.
We were in a favorable mood for such a visitor; and in a freak of
capricious charity gave him some silver, a loaf of fine wheaten bread,
and a goblet of our choice wine of Malaga. He received them thankfully,
but without any grovelling tribute of gratitude. Tasting the wine, he
held it up to the light, with a slight beam of surprise in his eye; then
quaffing it off at a draught, “It is many years,” said he, “since I have
tasted such wine. It is a cordial to an old man’s heart.” Then, looking
at the beautiful wheaten loaf, “_bendito sea tal pan!_” “blessed be such
bread!” So saying, he put it in his wallet. We urged him to eat it on
the spot. “No, Señors,” replied he, “the wine I had either to drink or
leave; but the bread I may take home to share with my family.”

Our man Sancho sought our eye, and reading permission there, gave the
old man some of the ample fragments of our repast, on condition,
however, that he should sit down and make a meal.

He accordingly took his seat at some little distance from us, and began
to eat slowly, and with a sobriety and decorum that would have become a
hidalgo. There was altogether a measured manner and a quiet
self-possession about the old man, that made me think that he had seen
better days: his language too, though simple, had occasionally something
picturesque and almost poetical in the phraseology. I set him down for
some broken-down cavalier. I was mistaken; it was nothing but the innate
courtesy of a Spaniard, and the poetical turn of thought and language
often to be found in the lowest classes of this clear-witted people. For
fifty years, he told us, he had been a shepherd, but now he was out of
employ and destitute. “When I was a young man,” said he, “nothing could
harm or trouble me; I was always well, always gay; but now I am
seventy-nine years of age, and a beggar, and my heart begins to fail
me.”

Still he was not a regular mendicant: it was not until recently that
want had driven him to this degradation; and he gave a touching picture
of the struggle between hunger and pride, when abject destitution first
came upon him. He was returning from Malaga without money; he had not
tasted food for some time, and was crossing one of the great plains of
Spain, where there were but few habitations. When almost dead with
hunger, he applied at the door of a venta or country inn. “_Perdón usted
por Dios hermano!_” (Excuse us, brother, for God’s sake!) was the
reply--the usual mode in Spain of refusing a beggar. “I turned away,”
said he, “with shame greater than my hunger, for my heart was yet too
proud. I came to a river with high banks, and deep, rapid current, and
felt tempted to throw myself in: ‘What should such an old, worthless,
wretched man as I live for?’ But when I was on the brink of the current,
I thought on the blessed Virgin, and turned away. I travelled on until I
saw a country-seat at a little distance from the road, and entered the
outer gate of the court-yard. The door was shut, but there were two
young señoras at a window. I approached and begged;--‘_Perdón usted por
Dios hermano!_’--and the window closed. I crept out of the court-yard,
but hunger overcame me, and my heart gave way: I thought my hour at
hand, so I laid myself down at the gate, commended myself to the Holy
Virgin, and covered my head to die. In a little while afterwards the
master of the house came home: seeing me lying at his gate, he uncovered
my head, had pity on my gray hairs, took me into his house, and gave me
food. So, Señors, you see that one should always put confidence in the
protection of the Virgin.”

The old man was on his way to his native place, Archidona, which was in
full view on its steep and rugged mountain. He pointed to the ruins of
its castle. “That castle,” he said, “was inhabited by a Moorish king at
the time of the wars of Granada. Queen Isabella invaded it with a great
army; but the king looked down from his castle among the clouds, and
laughed her to scorn! Upon this the Virgin appeared to the queen, and
guided her and her army up a mysterious path in the mountains, which had
never before been known. When the Moor saw her coming, he was
astonished, and springing with his horse from a precipice, was dashed to
pieces! The marks of his horse’s hoofs,” said the old man, “are to be
seen in the margin of the rock to this day. And see, Señors, yonder is
the road by which the queen and her army mounted: you see it like a
ribbon up the mountain’s side; but the miracle is, that, though it can
be seen at a distance, when you come near it disappears!”

The ideal road to which he pointed was undoubtedly a sandy ravine of the
mountain, which looked narrow and defined at a distance, but became
broad and indistinct on an approach.

As the old man’s heart warmed with wine and wassail, he went on to tell
us a story of the buried treasure left under the castle by the Moorish
king. His own house was next to the foundations of the castle. The
curate and notary dreamed three times of the treasure, and went to work
at the place pointed out in their dreams. His own son-in-law heard the
sound of their pickaxes and spades at night. What they found, nobody
knows; they became suddenly rich, but kept their own secret. Thus the
old man had once been next door to fortune, but was doomed never to get
under the same roof.

I have remarked that the stories of treasure buried by the Moors, so
popular throughout Spain, are most current among the poorest people.
Kind nature consoles with shadows for the lack of substantials. The
thirsty man dreams of fountains and running streams; the hungry man of
banquets; and the poor man of heaps of hidden gold: nothing certainly is
more opulent than the imagination of a beggar.

Our afternoon’s ride took us through a steep and rugged defile of the
mountains, called Puerte del Rey, the Pass of the King; being one of the
great passes into the territories of Granada, and the one by which King
Ferdinand conducted his army. Towards sunset the road, winding round a
hill, brought us in sight of the famous little frontier city of Loxa,
which repulsed Ferdinand from its walls. Its Arabic name implies
guardian, and such it was to the Vega of Granada, being one of its
advanced guards. It was the stronghold of that fiery veteran, old Ali
Atar, father-in-law of Boabdil; and here it was that the latter
collected his troops, and sallied forth on that disastrous foray which
ended in the death of the old alcayde and his own captivity. From its
commanding position at the gate, as it were, of this mountain-pass, Loxa
has not unaptly been termed the key of Granada. It is wildly
picturesque; built along the face of an arid mountain. The ruins of a
Moorish alcazar or citadel crown a rocky mound which rises out of the
centre of the town. The river Xenil washes its base, winding among
rocks, and groves, and gardens, and meadows, and crossed by a Moorish
bridge. Above the city all is savage and sterile, below is the richest
vegetation and the freshest verdure. A similar contrast is presented by
the river: above the bridge it is placid and grassy, reflecting groves
and gardens; below it is rapid, noisy, and tumultuous. The Sierra
Nevada, the royal mountains of Granada, crowned with perpetual snow,
form the distant boundary to this varied landscape, one of the most
characteristic of romantic Spain.

Alighting at the entrance of the city, we gave our horses to Sancho to
lead them to the inn, while we strolled about to enjoy the singular
beauty of the environs. As we crossed the bridge to a fine alameda, or
public walk, the bells tolled the hour of orison. At the sound the
wayfarers, whether on business or pleasure, paused, took off their hats,
crossed themselves, and repeated their evening prayer: a pious custom
still rigidly observed in retired parts of Spain. Altogether it was a
solemn and beautiful evening scene, and we wandered on as the evening
gradually closed, and the new moon began to glitter between the high
elms of the alameda. We were roused from this quiet state of enjoyment
by the voice of our trusty squire hailing us from a distance. He came up
to us, out of breath. “Ah, Señores,” cried he, “el pobre Sancho no es
nada sin Don Quixote.” (Ah, Señors, poor Sancho is nothing without Don
Quixote.) He had been alarmed at our not coming to the inn; Loxa was
such a wild mountain place, full of contrabandistas, enchanters, and
infiernos; he did not well know what might have happened, and set out to
seek us, inquiring after us of every person he met, until he traced us
across the bridge, and, to his great joy, caught sight of us strolling
in the alameda.

The inn to which he conducted us was called the Corona, or Crown, and we
found it quite in keeping with the character of the place, the
inhabitants of which seem still to retain the bold, fiery spirit of the
olden time. The hostess was a young and handsome Andalusian widow, whose
trim basquiña of black silk, fringed with bugles, set off the play of a
graceful form and round pliant limbs. Her step was firm and elastic; her
dark eye was full of fire; and the coquetry of her air, and varied
ornaments of her person, showed that she was accustomed to be admired.

She was well matched by a brother, nearly about her own age; they were
perfect models of the Andalusian Majo and Maja. He was tall, vigorous,
and well-formed, with a clear olive complexion, a dark beaming eye, and
curling chestnut whiskers that met under his chin. He was gallantly
dressed in a short green velvet jacket, fitted to his shape, profusely
decorated with silver buttons, with a white handkerchief in each pocket.
He had breeches of the same, with rows of buttons from the hips to the
knees; a pink silk handkerchief round his neck, gathered through a ring,
on the bosom of a neatly plaited shirt; a sash round the waist to match;
bottinas, or spatter-dashes, of the finest russet leather, elegantly
worked, and open at the calf to show his stocking; and russet shoes,
setting off a well-shaped foot.

As he was standing at the door, a horseman rode up and entered into low
and earnest conversation with him. He was dressed in a similar style,
and almost with equal finery; a man about thirty, square-built, with
strong Roman features, handsome, though slightly pitted with the
small-pox; with a free, bold, and somewhat daring air. His powerful
black horse was decorated with tassels and fanciful trappings, and a
couple of broad-mouthed blunderbusses hung behind the saddle. He had the
air of one of those contrabandistas I have seen in the mountains of
Ronda, and evidently had a good understanding with the brother of mine
hostess; nay, if I mistake not, he was a favored admirer of the widow.
In fact, the whole inn and its inmates had something of a contrabandista
aspect, and a blunderbuss stood in a corner beside the guitar. The
horseman I have mentioned passed his evening in the posada, and sang
several bold mountain romances with great spirit. As we were at supper,
two poor Asturians put in in distress, begging food and a night’s
lodging. They had been waylaid by robbers as they came from a fair among
the mountains, robbed of a horse which carried all their stock in trade,
stripped of their money, and most of their apparel, beaten for having
offered resistance, and left almost naked in the road. My companion,
with a prompt generosity natural to him, ordered them a supper and a
bed, and gave them a sum of money to help them forward towards their
home.

As the evening advanced, the _dramatis personæ_ thickened. A large man,
about sixty years of age, of powerful frame, came strolling in, to
gossip with mine hostess. He was dressed in the ordinary Andalusian
costume, but had a huge sabre tucked under his arm; wore large
moustaches, and had something of a lofty swaggering air. Every one
seemed to regard him with great deference.

Our man Sancho whispered to us that he was Don Ventura Rodriguez, the
hero and champion of Loxa, famous for his prowess and the strength of
his arm. In the time of the French invasion he surprised six troopers
who were asleep; he first secured their horses, then attacked them with
his sabre, killed some, and took the rest prisoners. For this exploit
the king allows him a peseta (the fifth of a duro, or dollar) per day
and has dignified him with the title of Don.

I was amused to behold his swelling language and demeanor. He was
evidently a thorough Andalusian, boastful as brave. His sabre was always
in his hand or under his arm. He carries it always about with him as a
child does its doll, calls it his Santa Teresa, and says, “When I draw
it, the earth trembles” (tiembla la tierra).

I sat until a late hour listening to the varied themes of this motley
group, who mingled together with the unreserve of a Spanish posada. We
had contrabandista songs, stories of robbers, guerrilla exploits, and
Moorish legends. The last were from our handsome landlady, who gave a
poetical account of the infiernos, or infernal regions of Loxa,--dark
caverns, in which subterranean streams and waterfalls make a mysterious
sound. The common people say that there are money-coiners shut up there
from the time of the Moors; and that the Moorish kings kept their
treasures in those caverns.

I retired to bed with my imagination excited by all that I had seen and
heard in this old warrior city. Scarce had I fallen asleep when I was
aroused by a horrid din and uproar, that might have confounded the hero
of La Mancha himself, whose experience of Spanish inns was a continual
uproar. It seemed for a moment as if the Moors were once more breaking
into the town; or the infiernos of which mine hostess talked had broken
loose. I sallied forth, half dressed, to reconnoitre. It was nothing
more nor less than a charivari to celebrate the nuptials of an old man
with a buxom damsel. Wishing him joy of his bride and his serenade, I
returned to my more quiet bed, and slept soundly until morning.

While dressing, I amused myself in reconnoitring the populace from my
window. There were groups of fine-looking young men in the trim fanciful
Andalusian costume, with brown cloaks, thrown about them in true Spanish
style, which cannot be imitated, and little round majo hats stuck on
with a peculiar knowing air. They had the same galliard look which I
have remarked among the dandy mountaineers of Ronda. Indeed, all this
part of Andalusia abounds with such game-looking characters. They loiter
about the towns and villages; seem to have plenty of time and plenty of
money; “horse to ride and weapon to wear.” Great gossips, great smokers,
apt at touching the guitar, singing couplets to their maja belles, and
famous dancers of the bolero. Throughout all Spain the men, however
poor, have a gentlemanlike abundance of leisure; seeming to consider it
the attribute of a true cavaliero never to be in a hurry; but the
Andalusians are gay as well as leisurely, and have none of the squalid
accompaniments of idleness. The adventurous contraband trade which
prevails throughout these mountain regions, and along the maritime
borders of Andalusia, is doubtless at the bottom of this galliard
character.

In contrast to the costume of these groups was that of two long-legged
Valencians conducting a donkey, laden with articles of merchandise;
their musket slung crosswise over his back, ready for action. They wore
round jackets (jalecos), wide linen bragas or drawers scarce reaching to
the knees and looking like kilts, red fajas or sashes swathed tightly
round their waists, sandals of espartal or bass weed, colored kerchiefs
round their heads somewhat in the style of turbans, but leaving the top
of the head uncovered; in short, their whole appearance having much of
the traditional Moorish stamp.

On leaving Loxa we were joined by a cavalier, well-mounted and
well-armed, and followed on foot by an escopetero or musketeer. He
saluted us courteously, and soon let us into his quality. He was chief
of the customs, or rather, I should suppose, chief of an armed company
whose business it is to patrol the roads and look out for
contrabandistas. The escopetero was one of his guards. In the course of
our morning’s ride I drew from him some particulars concerning the
smugglers, who have risen to be a kind of mongrel chivalry in Spain.
They come into Andalusia, he said, from various parts, but especially
from La Mancha; sometimes to receive goods, to be smuggled on an
appointed night across the line at the plaza or strand of Gibraltar;
sometimes to meet a vessel, which is to hover on a given night off a
certain part of the coast. They keep together and travel in the night.
In the daytime they lie quiet in barrancos, gullies of the mountains, or
lonely farm-houses; where they are generally well received, as they make
the family liberal presents of their smuggled wares. Indeed, much of the
finery and trinkets worn by the wives and daughters of the mountain
hamlets and farm-houses are presents from the gay and open-handed
contrabandistas.

Arrived at the part of the coast where a vessel is to meet them, they
look out at night from some rocky point or headland. If they descry a
sail near the shore they make a concerted signal; sometimes it consists
in suddenly displaying a lantern three times from beneath the folds of a
cloak. If the signal is answered, they descend to the shore and prepare
for quick work. The vessel runs close in; all her boats are busy landing
the smuggled goods, made up into snug packages for transportation on
horseback. These are hastily thrown on the beach, as hastily gathered
up and packed on the horses, and then the contrabandistas clatter off to
the mountains. They travel by the roughest, wildest, and most solitary
roads, where it is almost fruitless to pursue them. The custom-house
guards do not attempt it: they take a different course. When they hear
of one of these bands returning full freighted through the mountains,
they go out in force, sometimes twelve infantry and eight horsemen, and
take their station where the mountain defile opens into the plain. The
infantry, who lie in ambush some distance within the defile, suffer the
band to pass, then rise and fire upon them. The contrabandistas dash
forward, but are met in front by the horsemen. A wild skirmish ensues.
The contrabandistas, if hard pressed, become desperate. Some dismount,
use their horses as breastworks, and fire over their backs; others cut
the cords, let the packs fall off to delay the enemy, and endeavor to
escape with their steeds. Some get off in this way with the loss of
their packages; some are taken, horses, packages, and all; others
abandon everything, and make their escape by scrambling up the
mountains. “And then,” cried Sancho, who had been listening with a
greedy ear, “_se hacen ladrones legítimos_,”--and then they become
legitimate robbers.

I could not help laughing at Sancho’s idea of a legitimate calling of
the kind; but the chief of customs told me it was really the case that
the smugglers, when thus reduced to extremity, thought they had a kind
of right to take the road, and lay travellers under contribution, until
they had collected funds enough to mount and equip themselves in
contrabandista style.

Towards noon our wayfaring companion took leave of us and turned up a
steep defile, followed by his escopetero; and shortly afterwards we
emerged from the mountains, and entered upon the far-famed Vega of
Granada.

Our last mid-day’s repast was taken under a grove of olive-trees on the
border of a rivulet. We were in a classical neighborhood; for not far
off were the groves and orchards of the Soto de Roma. This, according to
fabulous tradition, was a retreat founded by Count Julian to console his
daughter Florinda. It was a rural resort of the Moorish kings of
Granada; and has in modern times been granted to the Duke of Wellington.

Our worthy squire made a half melancholy face as he drew forth, for the
last time, the contents of his alforjas, lamenting that our expedition
was drawing to a close, for, with such cavaliers, he said, he could
travel to the world’s end. Our repast, however, was a gay one; made
under such delightful auspices. The day was without a cloud. The heat of
the sun was tempered by cool breezes from the mountains. Before us
extended the glorious Vega. In the distance was romantic Granada
surmounted by the ruddy towers of the Alhambra, while far above it the
snowy summits of the Sierra Nevada shone like silver.

Our repast finished, we spread our cloaks and took our last siesta _al
fresco_, lulled by the humming of bees among the flowers and the notes
of doves among the olive-trees. When the sultry hours were passed we
resumed our journey. After a time we overtook a pursy little man shaped
not unlike a toad and mounted on a mule. He fell into conversation with
Sancho, and finding we were strangers, undertook to guide us to a good
posada. He was an escribano (notary), he said, and knew the city as
thoroughly as his own pocket. “Ah Dios, Señores! what a city you are
going to see. Such streets! such squares! such palaces! and then the
women--ah Santa Maria purísima--what women!”--“But the posada you talk
of,” said I, “are you sure it is a good one?”

“Good! Santa Maria! the best in Granada. Salones grandes--camas de
luxo--colchones de pluma (grand saloons--luxurious sleeping-rooms--beds
of down). Ah, Señores, you will fare like King Chico in the Alhambra.”

“And how will my horses fare?” cried Sancho.

“Like King Chico’s horses. _Chocolate con leche y bollos para almuerza_”
(chocolate and milk with sugar cakes for breakfast), giving the squire a
knowing wink and a leer.

After such satisfactory accounts, nothing more was to be desired on that
head. So we rode quietly on, the squab little notary taking the lead,
and turning to us every moment with some fresh exclamation about the
grandeurs of Granada and the famous times we were to have at the posada.

Thus escorted, we passed between hedges of aloes and Indian figs, and
through that wilderness of gardens with which the Vega is embroidered,
and arrived about sunset at the gates of the city. Our officious little
conductor conveyed us up one street and down another, until he rode into
the court-yard of an inn where he appeared to be perfectly at home.
Summoning the landlord by his Christian name, he committed us to his
care as two cavalleros de mucho valor, worthy of his best apartments and
most sumptuous fare. We were instantly reminded of the patronizing
stranger who introduced Gil Blas with such a flourish of trumpets to the
host and hostess of the inn at Pennaflor, ordering trouts for his supper
and eating voraciously at his expense. “You know not what you possess,”
cried he to the innkeeper and his wife. “You have a treasure in your
house. Behold in this young gentleman the eighth wonder of the
world--nothing in this house is too good for Señor Gil Blas of
Santillane, who deserves to be entertained like a prince.”

Determined that the little notary should not eat trouts at our expense,
like his prototype of Pennaflor, we forbore to ask him to supper; nor
had we reason to reproach ourselves with ingratitude, for we found
before morning the little varlet, who was no doubt a good friend of the
landlord, had decoyed us into one of the shabbiest posadas in Granada.



PALACE OF THE ALHAMBRA


To the traveller imbued with a feeling for the historical and poetical,
so inseparably intertwined in the annals of romantic Spain, the Alhambra
is as much an object of devotion as is the Caaba to all true Moslems.
How many legends and traditions, true and fabulous,--how many songs and
ballads, Arabian and Spanish, of love and war and chivalry, are
associated with this Oriental pile! It was the royal abode of the
Moorish kings, where, surrounded with the splendors and refinements of
Asiatic luxury, they held dominion over what they vaunted as a
terrestrial paradise, and made their last stand for empire in Spain. The
royal palace forms but a part of a fortress, the walls of which, studded
with towers, stretch irregularly round the whole crest of a hill, a spur
of the Sierra Nevada or Snowy Mountains, and overlook the city;
externally it is a rude congregation of towers and battlements, with no
regularity of plan nor grace of architecture, and giving little promise
of the grace and beauty which prevail within.

In the time of the Moors the fortress was capable of containing within
its outward precincts an army of forty thousand men, and served
occasionally as a stronghold of the sovereigns against their rebellious
subjects. After the kingdom had passed into the hands of the Christians,
the Alhambra continued to be a royal demesne, and was occasionally
inhabited by the Castilian monarchs. The emperor Charles V. commenced a
sumptuous palace within its walls, but was deterred from completing it
by repeated shocks of earthquakes. The last royal residents were Philip
V. and his beautiful queen, Elizabetta of Parma, early in the eighteenth
century. Great preparations were made for their reception. The palace
and gardens were placed in a state of repair, and a new suite of
apartments erected, and decorated by artists brought from Italy. The
sojourn of the sovereigns was transient, and after their departure the
palace once more became desolate. Still the place was maintained with
some military state. The governor held it immediately from the crown,
its jurisdiction extended down into the suburbs of the city, and was
independent of the captain-general of Granada. A considerable garrison
was kept up; the governor had his apartments in the front of the old
Moorish palace, and never descended into Granada without some military
parade. The fortress, in fact, was a little town of itself, having
several streets of houses within its walls, together with a Franciscan
convent and a parochial church.

The desertion of the court, however, was a fatal blow to the Alhambra.
Its beautiful halls became desolate, and some of them fell to ruin; the
gardens were destroyed, and the fountains ceased to play. By degrees the
dwellings became filled with a loose and lawless population;
contrabandistas, who availed themselves of its independent jurisdiction
to carry on a wide and daring course of smuggling, and thieves and
rogues of all sorts, who made this their place of refuge whence they
might depredate upon Granada and its vicinity. The strong arm of
government at length interfered; the whole community was thoroughly
sifted; none were suffered to remain but such as were of honest
character, and had legitimate right to a residence; the greater part of
the houses were demolished and a mere hamlet left, with the parochial
church and the Franciscan convent. During the recent troubles in Spain,
when Granada was in the hands of the French, the Alhambra was garrisoned
by their troops, and the palace was occasionally inhabited by the French
commander. With that enlightened taste which has ever distinguished the
French nation in their conquests, this monument of Moorish elegance and
grandeur was rescued from the absolute ruin and desolation that were
overwhelming it. The roofs were repaired, the saloons and galleries
protected from the weather, the gardens cultivated, the watercourses
restored, the fountains once more made to throw up their sparkling
showers; and Spain may thank her invaders for having preserved to her
the most beautiful and interesting of her historical monuments.

On the departure of the French they blew up several towers of the outer
wall, and left the fortifications scarcely tenable. Since that time the
military importance of the post is at an end. The garrison is a handful
of invalid soldiers, whose principal duty is to guard some of the outer
towers, which serve occasionally as a prison of state; and the governor,
abandoning the lofty hill of the Alhambra, resides in the centre of
Granada, for the more convenient dispatch of his official duties. I
cannot conclude this brief notice of the state of the fortress without
bearing testimony to the honorable exertions of its present commander,
Don Francisco de Serna, who is tasking all the limited resources at his
command to put the palace in a state of repair, and by his judicious
precautions has for some time arrested its too certain decay. Had his
predecessors discharged the duties of their station with equal fidelity,
the Alhambra might yet have remained in almost its pristine beauty; were
government to second him with means equal to his zeal, this relic of it
might still be preserved for many generations to adorn the land, and
attract the curious and enlightened of every clime.

Our first object of course, on the morning after our arrival, was a
visit to this time-honored edifice; it has been so often, however, and
so minutely described by travellers, that I shall not undertake to give
a comprehensive and elaborate account of it, but merely occasional
sketches of parts, with the incidents and associations connected with
them.

Leaving our posada, and traversing the renowned square of the
Vivarrambla, once the scene of Moorish jousts and tournaments, now a
crowded market-place, we proceeded along the Zacatin, the main street of
what, in the time of the Moors, was the Great Bazaar, and where small
shops and narrow alleys still retain the Oriental character. Crossing an
open place in front of the palace of the captain-general, we ascended a
confined and winding street, the name of which reminded us of the
chivalric days of Granada. It is called the Calle, or street of the
Gomeres, from a Moorish family famous in chronicle and song. This street
led up to the Puerta de las Granadas, a massive gateway of Grecian
architecture, built by Charles V., forming the entrance to the domains
of the Alhambra.

At the gate were two or three ragged superannuated soldiers, dozing on a
stone bench, the successors of the Zegris and the Abencerrages; while a
tall, meagre varlet, whose rusty-brown cloak was evidently intended to
conceal the ragged state of his nether garments, was lounging in the
sunshine and gossiping with an ancient sentinel on duty. He joined us as
we entered the gate, and offered his services to show us the fortress.

I have a traveller’s dislike to officious ciceroni, and did not
altogether like the garb of the applicant.

“You are well acquainted with the place, I presume?”

“Ninguno mas; pues, Señor, soy hijo de la Alhambra.” (Nobody better; in
fact, sir, I am a son of the Alhambra!)

The common Spaniards have certainly a most poetical way of expressing
themselves. “A son of the Alhambra!” the appellation caught me at once;
the very tattered garb of my new acquaintance assumed a dignity in my
eyes. It was emblematic of the fortunes of the place, and befitted the
progeny of a ruin.

I put some further questions to him, and found that his title was
legitimate. His family had lived in the fortress from generation to
generation ever since the time of the Conquest. His name was Mateo
Ximenes. “Then, perhaps,” said I, “you may be a descendant from the
great Cardinal Ximenes?”--“Dios Sabe! God knows, Señor! It may be so. We
are the oldest family in the Alhambra,--_Christianos Viejos_, old
Christians, without any taint of Moor or Jew. I know we belong to some
great family or other, but I forget whom. My father knows all about it:
he has the coat of arms hanging up in his cottage, up in the fortress.”
There is not any Spaniard, however poor, but has some claim to high
pedigree. The first title of this ragged worthy, however, had completely
captivated me; so I gladly accepted the services of the “son of the
Alhambra.”

We now found ourselves in a deep narrow ravine, filled with beautiful
groves, with a steep avenue, and various footpaths winding through it,
bordered with stone seats, and ornamented with fountains. To our left we
beheld the towers of the Alhambra beetling above us; to our right, on
the opposite side of the ravine, we were equally dominated by rival
towers on a rocky eminence. These, we were told, were the Torres
Vermejos, or vermilion towers, so called from their ruddy hue. No one
knows their origin. They are of a date much anterior to the Alhambra;
some suppose them to have been built by the Romans; others, by some
wandering colony of Phœnicians. Ascending the steep and shady avenue,
we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower, forming a kind of
barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress. Within
the barbican was another group of veteran invalids, one mounting guard
at the portal, while the rest, wrapped in their tattered cloaks, slept
on the stone benches. This portal is called the Gate of Justice, from
the tribunal held within its porch during the Moslem domination, for the
immediate trial of petty causes: a custom common to the Oriental
nations, and occasionally alluded to in the Sacred Scriptures. “Judges
and officers shalt thou make thee _in all thy gates_, and they shall
judge the people with just judgment.”

The great vestibule, or porch of the gate, is formed by an immense
Arabian arch, of the horseshoe form, which springs to half the height of
the tower. On the keystone of this arch is engraven a gigantic hand.
Within the vestibule, on the keystone of the portal, is sculptured, in
like manner, a gigantic key. Those who pretend to some knowledge of
Mohammedan symbols, affirm that the hand is the emblem of doctrine, the
five fingers designating the five principal commandments of the creed of
Islam, fasting, pilgrimage, alms-giving, ablution, and war against
infidels. The key, say they, is the emblem of the faith or of power; the
key of Daoud, or David, transmitted to the prophet. “And the key of the
house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open and none
shall shut, and he shall shut and none shall open.” (Isaiah xxii. 22.)
The key we are told was emblazoned on the standard of the Moslems in
opposition to the Christian emblem of the cross, when they subdued Spain
or Andalusia. It betokened the conquering power invested in the prophet.
“He that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth;
and shutteth and no man openeth.” (Rev. iii. 7.)

A different explanation of these emblems, however, was given by the
legitimate son of the Alhambra, and one more in unison with the notions
of the common people, who attach something of mystery and magic to
everything Moorish, and have all kinds of superstitions connected with
this old Moslem fortress. According to Mateo, it was a tradition handed
down from the oldest inhabitants, and which he had from his father and
grandfather, that the hand and key were magical devices on which the
fate of the Alhambra depended. The Moorish king who built it was a great
magician, or, as some believed, had sold himself to the devil, and had
laid the whole fortress under a magic spell. By this means it had
remained standing for several years, in defiance of storms and
earthquakes, while almost all other buildings of the Moors had fallen to
ruin and disappeared. This spell, the tradition went on to say, would
last until the hand on the outer arch should reach down and grasp the
key, when the whole pile would tumble to pieces, and all the treasures
buried beneath it by the Moors would be revealed.

Notwithstanding this ominous prediction, we ventured to pass through the
spell-bound gateway, feeling some little assurance against magic art in
the protection of the Virgin, a statue of whom we observed above the
portal.

After passing through the barbican, we ascended a narrow lane, winding
between walls, and came on an open esplanade within the fortress, called
the Plaza de los Algibes, or Place of the Cisterns, from great
reservoirs which undermine it, cut in the living rock by the Moors to
receive the water brought by conduits from the Darro, for the supply of
the fortress. Here, also, is a well of immense depth, furnishing the
purest and coldest of water,--another monument of the delicate taste of
the Moors, who were indefatigable in their exertions to obtain that
element in its crystal purity.

In front of this esplanade is the splendid pile commenced by Charles V.,
and intended, it is said, to eclipse the residence of the Moorish kings.
Much of the Oriental edifice intended for the winter season was
demolished to make way for this massive pile. The grand entrance was
blocked up; so that the present entrance to the Moorish palace is
through a simple and almost humble portal in a corner. With all the
massive grandeur and architectural merit of the palace of Charles V., we
regarded it as an arrogant intruder, and passing by it with a feeling
almost of scorn, rang at the Moslem portal.

While waiting for admittance, our self-imposed cicerone, Mateo Ximenes,
informed us that the royal palace was intrusted to the care of a worthy
old maiden dame called Doña Antonia-Molina, but who, according to
Spanish custom, went by the more neighborly appellation of Tia Antonia
(Aunt Antonia), who maintained the Moorish halls and gardens in order
and showed them to strangers. While we were talking, the door was opened
by a plump little black-eyed Andalusian damsel, whom Mateo addressed as
Dolores, but who from her bright looks and cheerful disposition
evidently merited a merrier name. Mateo informed me in a whisper that
she was the niece of Tia Antonia, and I found she was the good fairy who
was to conduct us through the enchanted palace. Under her guidance we
crossed the threshold, and were at once transported, as if by magic
wand, into other times and an Oriental realm, and were treading the
scenes of Arabian story. Nothing could be in greater contrast than the
unpromising exterior of the pile with the scene now before us. We found
ourselves in a vast patio or court, one hundred and fifty feet in
length, and upwards of eighty feet in breadth, paved with white marble,
and decorated at each end with light Moorish peristyles, one of which
supported an elegant gallery of fretted architecture. Along the
mouldings of the cornices and on various parts of the walls were
escutcheons and ciphers, and cufic and Arabic characters in high relief,
repeating the pious mottoes of the Moslem monarchs, the builders of the
Alhambra, or extolling their grandeur and munificence. Along the centre
of the court extended an immense basin or tank (estanque), a hundred and
twenty-four feet in length, twenty-seven in breadth, and five in depth,
receiving its water from two marble vases. Hence it is called the Court
of the Alberca (from al Beerkah, the Arabic for a pond or tank). Great
numbers of gold-fish were to be seen gleaming through the waters of the
basin, and it was bordered by hedges of roses.

Passing from the Court of the Alberca under a Moorish archway, we
entered the renowned Court of Lions. No part of the edifice gives a more
complete idea of its original beauty than this, for none has suffered so
little from the ravages of time. In the centre stands the fountain
famous in song and story. The alabaster basins still shed their diamond
drops; the twelve lions which support them, and give the court its name,
still cast forth crystal streams as in the days of Boabdil. The lions,
however, are unworthy of their fame, being of miserable sculpture, the
work probably of some Christian captive. The court is laid out in
flower-beds, instead of its ancient and appropriate pavement of tiles or
marble; the alteration, an instance of bad taste, was made by the French
when in possession of Granada. Round the four sides of the court are
light Arabian arcades of open filigree work, supported by slender
pillars of white marble, which it is supposed were originally gilded.
The architecture, like that in most parts of the interior of the palace,
is characterized by elegance rather than grandeur, bespeaking a
delicate and graceful taste, and a disposition to indolent enjoyment.
When one looks upon the fairy traces of the peristyles, and the
apparently fragile fretwork of the walls, it is difficult to believe
that so much has survived the wear and tear of centuries, the shocks of
earthquakes, the violence of war, and the quiet, though no less baneful,
pilferings of the tasteful traveller: it is almost sufficient to excuse
the popular tradition, that the whole is protected by a magic charm.

On one side of the court a rich portal opens into the Hall of the
Abencerrages: so called from the gallant cavaliers of that illustrious
line who were here perfidiously massacred. There are some who doubt the
whole story, but our humble cicerone Mateo pointed out the very wicket
of the portal through which they were introduced one by one into the
Court of Lions, and the white marble fountain in the centre of the hall
beside which they were beheaded. He showed us also certain broad ruddy
stains on the pavement, traces of their blood, which, according to
popular belief, can never be effaced.

Finding we listened to him apparently with easy faith, he added, that
there was often heard at night, in the Court of Lions, a low confused
sound, resembling the murmuring of a multitude; and now and then a faint
tinkling, like the distant clank of chains. These sounds were made by
the spirits of the murdered Abencerrages; who nightly haunt the scene of
their suffering and invoke the vengeance of Heaven on their destroyer.

The sounds in question had no doubt been produced, as I had afterwards
an opportunity of ascertaining, by the bubbling currents and tinkling
falls of water conducted under the pavement through pipes and channels
to supply the fountains; but I was too considerate to intimate such an
idea to the humble chronicler of the Alhambra.

Encouraged by my easy credulity, Mateo gave me the following as an
undoubted fact, which he had from his grandfather:--

There was once an invalid soldier, who had charge of the Alhambra to
show it to strangers; as he was one evening, about twilight, passing
through the Court of Lions, he heard footsteps on the Hall of the
Abencerrages; supposing some strangers to be lingering there, he
advanced to attend upon them, when to his astonishment he beheld four
Moors richly dressed, with gilded cuirasses and cimeters, and poniards
glittering with precious stones. They were walking to and fro, with
solemn pace; but paused and beckoned to him. The old soldier, however,
took to flight, and could never afterwards be prevailed upon to enter
the Alhambra. Thus it is that men sometimes turn their backs upon
fortune; for it is the firm opinion of Mateo, that the Moors intended to
reveal the place where their treasures lay buried. A successor to the
invalid soldier was more knowing; he came to the Alhambra poor; but at
the end of a year went off to Malaga, bought houses, set up a carriage,
and still lives there, one of the richest as well as oldest men of the
place; all which, Mateo sagely surmised, was in consequence of his
finding out the golden secret of these phantom Moors.

I now perceived I had made an invaluable acquaintance in this son of the
Alhambra, one who knew all the apocryphal history of the place, and
firmly believed in it, and whose memory was stuffed with a kind of
knowledge for which I have a lurking fancy, but which is too apt to be
considered rubbish by less indulgent philosophers. I determined to
cultivate the acquaintance of this learned Theban.

Immediately opposite the Hall of the Abencerrages, a portal, richly
adorned, leads into a hall of less tragical associations. It is light
and lofty, exquisitely graceful in its architecture, paved with white
marble, and bears the suggestive name of the Hall of the Two Sisters.
Some destroy the romance of the name by attributing it to two enormous
slabs of alabaster which lie side by side, and form a great part of the
pavement: an opinion strongly supported by Mateo Ximenes. Others are
disposed to give the name a more poetical significance, as the vague
memorial of Moorish beauties who once graced this hall, which was
evidently a part of the royal harem. This opinion I was happy to find
entertained by our little bright-eyed guide, Dolores, who pointed to a
balcony over an inner porch; which gallery, she had been told, belonged
to the women’s apartment. “You see, Señor,” said she, “it is all grated
and latticed, like the gallery in a convent chapel where the nuns hear
mass; for the Moorish kings,” added she, indignantly, “shut up their
wives just like nuns.”

The latticed “jalousies,” in fact, still remain, whence the dark-eyed
beauties of the harem might gaze unseen upon the zambras and other
dances and entertainments of the hall below.

On each side of this hall are recesses or alcoves for ottomans and
couches, on which the voluptuous lords of the Alhambra indulged in that
dreamy repose so dear to the Orientalists. A cupola or lantern admits a
tempered light from above and a free circulation of air; while on one
side is heard the refreshing sound of waters from the fountain of the
lions, and on the other side the soft plash from the basin in the garden
of Lindaraxa.

It is impossible to contemplate this scene, so perfectly Oriental,
without feeling the early associations of Arabian romance, and almost
expecting to see the white arm of some mysterious princess beckoning
from the gallery, or some dark eye sparkling through the lattice. The
abode of beauty is here as if it had been inhabited but yesterday; but
where are the two sisters, where the Zoraydas and Lindaraxas!

An abundant supply of water, brought from the mountains by old Moorish
aqueducts, circulates throughout the palace, supplying its baths and
fish-pools, sparkling in jets within its halls, or murmuring in channels
along the marble pavements. When it has paid its tribute to the royal
pile, and visited its gardens and parterres, it flows down the long
avenue leading to the city, tinkling in rills, gushing in fountains, and
maintaining a perpetual verdure in those groves that embower and
beautify the whole hill of the Alhambra.

Those only who have sojourned in the ardent climates of the South can
appreciate the delights of an abode combining the breezy coolness of the
mountain with the freshness and verdure of the valley. While the city
below pants with the noontide heat, and the parched Vega trembles to the
eye, the delicate airs from the Sierra Nevada play through these lofty
halls, bringing with them the sweetness of the surrounding gardens.
Everything invites to that indolent repose, the bliss of southern
climes; and while the half-shut eye looks out from shaded balconies upon
the glittering landscape, the ear is lulled by the rustling of groves
and the murmur of running streams.

I forbear for the present, however, to describe the other delightful
apartments of the palace. My object is merely to give the reader a
general introduction into an abode where, if so disposed, he may linger
and loiter with me day by day until we gradually become familiar with
all its localities.


     NOTE ON MORISCO ARCHITECTURE

     To an unpractised eye the light relievos and fanciful arabesques
     which cover the walls of the Alhambra appear to have been
     sculptured by the hand, with a minute and patient labor, an
     inexhaustible variety of detail, yet a general uniformity and
     harmony of design truly astonishing; and this may especially be
     said of the vaults and cupolas, which are wrought like
     honey-combs, or frostwork, with stalactites and pendants which
     confound the beholder with the seeming intricacy of their patterns.
     The astonishment ceases, however, when it is discovered that this
     is all stucco-work; plates of plaster of Paris, cast in moulds and
     skilfully joined so as to form patterns of every size and form.
     This mode of diapering walls with arabesques, and stuccoing the
     vaults with grotto-work, was invented in Damascus, but highly
     improved by the Moors in Morocco, to whom Saracenic architecture
     owes its most graceful and fanciful details. The process by which
     all this fairy tracery was produced was ingeniously simple. The
     wall in its naked state was divided off by lines crossing at right
     angles, such as artists use in copying a picture; over these were
     drawn a succession of intersecting segments of circles. By the aid
     of these the artists could work with celerity and certainty, and
     from the mere intersection of the plain and curved lines arose the
     interminable variety of patterns and the general uniformity of
     their character.[3]

     Much gilding was used in the stucco-work, especially of the
     cupolas; and the interstices were delicately pencilled with
     brilliant colors, such as vermilion and lapis lazuli, laid on with
     the whites of eggs. The primitive colors alone were used, says
     Ford, by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Arabs, in the early period of
     art; and they prevail in the Alhambra whenever the artist has been
     Arabic or Moorish. It is remarkable how much of their original
     brilliancy remains after the lapse of several centuries.

     The lower part of the walls in the saloons, to the height of
     several feet, is incrusted with glazed tiles, joined like the
     plates of stucco-work, so as to form various patterns. On some of
     them are emblazoned the escutcheons of the Moslem kings, traversed
     with a band and motto. These glazed tiles (azulejos in Spanish,
     az-zulaj in Arabic) are of Oriental origin; their coolness,
     cleanliness, and freedom from vermin, render them admirably fitted
     in sultry climates for paving halls and fountains, incrusting
     bathing-rooms, and lining the walls of chambers. Ford is inclined
     to give them great antiquity. From their prevailing colors,
     sapphire and blue, he deduces that they may have formed the kind of
     pavements alluded to in the sacred Scriptures:--“There was under
     his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone” (Exod. xxiv.
     10); and again, “Behold I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and
     lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isaiah liv. 11).

     These glazed or porcelain tiles were introduced into Spain at an
     early date by the Moslems. Some are to be seen among the Moorish
     ruins which have been there upwards of eight centuries.
     Manufactures of them still exist in the Peninsula, and they are
     much used in the best Spanish houses, especially in the southern
     provinces, for paving and lining the summer apartments.

     The Spaniards introduced them into the Netherlands when they had
     possession of that country. The people of Holland adopted them
     with avidity, as wonderfully suited to their passion for household
     cleanliness; and thus these Oriental inventions, the azulejos of
     the Spanish, the az-zulaj of the Arabs, have come to be commonly
     known as Dutch tiles.



IMPORTANT NEGOTIATIONS

THE AUTHOR SUCCEEDS TO THE THRONE OF BOABDIL


The day was nearly spent before we could tear ourself from this region
of poetry and romance to descend to the city and return to the forlorn
realities of a Spanish posada. In a visit of ceremony to the Governor of
the Alhambra, to whom we had brought letters, we dwelt with enthusiasm
on the scenes we had witnessed, and could not but express surprise that
he should reside in the city when he had such a paradise at his command.
He pleaded the inconvenience of a residence in the palace from its
situation on the crest of a hill, distant from the seat of business and
the resorts of social intercourse. It did very well for monarchs, who
often had need of castle walls to defend them from their own subjects.
“But, señors,” added he, smiling, “if you think a residence there so
desirable, my apartments in the Alhambra are at your service.”

It is a common and almost indispensable point of politeness in a
Spaniard, to tell you his house is yours.--“Esta casa es siempre à la
disposicion de Vm.”--“This house is always at the command of your
Grace.” In fact, anything of his which you admire, is immediately
offered to you. It is equally a mark of good breeding in you not to
accept it; so we merely bowed our acknowledgments of the courtesy of the
Governor in offering us a royal palace. We were mistaken, however. The
Governor was in earnest. “You will find a rambling set of empty,
unfurnished rooms,” said he; “but Tia Antonia, who has charge of the
palace, may be able to put them in some kind of order, and to take care
of you while you are there. If you can make any arrangement with her for
your accommodation, and are content with scanty fare in a royal abode,
the palace of King Chico is at your service.”

We took the Governor at his word, and hastened up the steep Calle de los
Gomeres, and through the Great Gate of Justice, to negotiate with Dame
Antonia,--doubting at times if this were not a dream, and fearing at
times that the sage Dueña of the fortress might be slow to capitulate.
We knew we had one friend at least in the garrison, who would be in our
favor, the bright-eyed little Dolores, whose good graces we had
propitiated on our first visit; and who hailed our return to the palace
with her brightest looks.

All, however, went smoothly. The good Tia Antonia had a little furniture
to put in the rooms, but it was of the commonest kind. We assured her we
could bivouac on the floor. She could supply our table, but only in her
own simple way;--we wanted nothing better. Her niece, Dolores, would
wait upon us; and at the word we threw up our hats and the bargain was
complete.

The very next day we took up our abode in the palace, and never did
sovereigns share a divided throne with more perfect harmony. Several
days passed by like a dream, when my worthy associate, being summoned to
Madrid on diplomatic duties, was compelled to abdicate, leaving me sole
monarch of this shadowy realm. For myself, being in a manner a
hap-hazard loiterer about the world, and prone to linger in its pleasant
places, here have I been suffering day by day to steal away unheeded,
spell-bound, for aught I know, in this old enchanted pile. Having always
a companionable feeling for my reader, and being prone to live with him
on confidential terms, I shall make it a point to communicate to him my
reveries and researches during this state of delicious thraldom. If they
have the power of imparting to his imagination any of the witching
charms of the place, he will not repine at lingering with me for a
season in the legendary halls of the Alhambra.

And first it is proper to give him some idea of my domestic
arrangements: they are rather of a simple kind for the occupant of a
regal palace; but I trust they will be less liable to disastrous
reverses than those of my royal predecessors.

My quarters are at one end of the Governor’s apartment, a suite of empty
chambers, in front of the palace, looking out upon the great esplanade
called _la plaza de los algibes_ (the place of the cisterns); the
apartment is modern, but the end opposite to my sleeping-room
communicates with a cluster of little chambers, partly Moorish, partly
Spanish, allotted to the _châtelaine_ Doña Antonia and her family. In
consideration of keeping the palace in order, the good dame is allowed
all the perquisites received from visitors, and all the produce of the
gardens; excepting that she is expected to pay an occasional tribute of
fruits and flowers to the Governor. Her family consists of a nephew and
niece, the children of two different brothers. The nephew, Manuel
Molina, is a young man of sterling worth and Spanish gravity. He had
served in the army, both in Spain and the West Indies, but is now
studying medicine in the hope of one day or other becoming physician to
the fortress, a post worth at least one hundred and forty dollars a
year. The niece is the plump little black-eyed Dolores already
mentioned; and who, it is said, will one day inherit all her aunt’s
possessions, consisting of certain petty tenements in the fortress, in a
somewhat ruinous condition it is true, but which, I am privately
assured by Mateo Ximenes, yield a revenue of nearly one hundred and
fifty dollars; so that she is quite an heiress in the eyes of the ragged
son of the Alhambra. I am also informed by the same observant and
authentic personage, that a quiet courtship is going on between the
discreet Manuel and his bright-eyed cousin, and that nothing is wanting
to enable them to join their hands and expectations but his doctor’s
diploma, and a dispensation from the Pope on account of their
consanguinity.

The good Dame Antonia fulfils faithfully her contract in regard to my
board and lodging; and as I am easily pleased, I find my fare excellent;
while the merry-hearted little Dolores keeps my apartment in order, and
officiates as handmaid at meal-times. I have also at my command a tall,
stuttering, yellow-haired lad, named Pépe, who works in the gardens, and
would fain have acted as valet; but in this he was forestalled by Mateo
Ximenes, “the son of the Alhambra.” This alert and officious wight has
managed, somehow or other, to stick by me ever since I first encountered
him at the outer gate of the fortress, and to weave himself into all my
plans, until he has fairly appointed and installed himself my valet,
cicerone, guide, guard, and historiographic squire; and I have been
obliged to improve the state of his wardrobe, that he may not disgrace
his various functions; so that he has cast his old brown mantle, as a
snake does his skin, and now appears about the fortress with a smart
Andalusian hat and jacket, to his infinite satisfaction, and the great
astonishment of his comrades. The chief fault of honest Mateo is an
over-anxiety to be useful. Conscious of having foisted himself into my
employ, and that my simple and quiet habits render his situation a
sinecure, he is at his wit’s ends to devise modes of making himself
important to my welfare. I am in a manner the victim of his
officiousness; I cannot put my foot over the threshold of the palace,
to stroll about the fortress, but he is at my elbow, to explain
everything I see; and if I venture to ramble among the surrounding
hills, he insists upon attending me as a guard, though I vehemently
suspect he would be more apt to trust to the length of his legs than the
strength of his arms, in case of attack. After all, however, the poor
fellow is at times an amusing companion; he is simple-minded and of
infinite good-humor, with the loquacity and gossip of a village barber,
and knows all the small-talk of the place and its environs; but what he
chiefly values himself on, is his stock of local information, having the
most marvellous stories to relate of every tower, and vault, and gateway
of the fortress, in all of which he places the most implicit faith.

Most of these he has derived, according to his own account, from his
grandfather, a little legendary tailor, who lived to the age of nearly a
hundred years, during which he made but two migrations beyond the
precincts of the fortress. His sloop, for the greater part of a century,
was the resort of a knot of venerable gossips, where they would pass
half the night talking about old times, and the wonderful events and
hidden secrets of the place. The whole living, moving, thinking, and
acting of this historical little tailor had thus been bounded by the
walls of the Alhambra; within them he had been born, within them he
lived, breathed, and had his being, within them he died and was buried.
Fortunately for posterity his traditionary lore died not with him. The
authentic Mateo, when an urchin, used to be an attentive listener to the
narratives of his grandfather, and of the gossiping group assembled
round the shopboard, and is thus possessed of a stock of valuable
knowledge concerning the Alhambra, not to be found in books, and well
worthy the attention of every curious traveller.

Such are the personages that constitute my regal household; and I
question whether any of the potentates, Moslem or Christian, who have
preceded me in the palace, have been waited upon with greater fidelity,
or enjoyed a serener sway.

When I rise in the morning, Pépe, the stuttering lad from the gardens,
brings me a tribute of fresh-culled flowers, which are afterwards
arranged in vases by the skilful hand of Dolores, who takes a feminine
pride in the decoration of my chambers. My meals are made wherever
caprice dictates; sometimes in one of the Moorish halls, sometimes under
the arcades of the Court of Lions, surrounded by flowers and fountains:
and when I walk out, I am conducted by the assiduous Mateo to the most
romantic retreats of the mountains, and delicious haunts of the adjacent
valleys, not one of which but is the scene of some wonderful tale.

Though fond of passing the greater part of my day alone, yet I
occasionally repair in the evenings to the little domestic circle of
Doña Antonia. This is generally held in an old Moorish chamber, which
serves the good dame for parlor, kitchen, and hall of audience, and
which must have boasted of some splendor in the time of the Moors, if we
may judge from the traces yet remaining; but a rude fireplace has been
made in modern times in one corner, the smoke from which has discolored
the walls, and almost obliterated the ancient arabesques. A window, with
a balcony overhanging the valley of the Darro, lets in the cool evening
breeze; and here I take my frugal supper of fruit and milk, and mingle
with the conversation of the family. There is a natural talent or
mother-wit, as it is called, about the Spaniards, which renders them
intellectual and agreeable companions, whatever may be their condition
in life, or however imperfect may have been their education: add to
this, they are never vulgar; nature has endowed them with an inherent
dignity of spirit. The good Tia Antonia is a woman of strong and
intelligent, though uncultivated mind; and the bright-eyed Dolores,
though she has read but three or four books in the whole course of her
life, has an engaging mixture of naïveté and good sense, and often
surprises me by the pungency of her artless sallies. Sometimes the
nephew entertains us by reading some old comedy of Calderon or Lope de
Vega, to which he is evidently prompted by a desire to improve as well
as amuse his cousin Dolores; though, to his great mortification, the
little damsel generally falls asleep before the first act is completed.
Sometimes Tia Antonia has a little levee of humble friends and
dependants, the inhabitants of the adjacent hamlet, or the wives of the
invalid soldiers. These look up to her with great deference, as the
custodian of the palace, and pay their court to her by bringing the news
of the place, or the rumors that may have straggled up from Granada. In
listening to these evening gossipings I have picked up many curious
facts illustrative of the manners of the people and the peculiarities of
the neighborhood.

These are simple details of simple pleasures; it is the nature of the
place alone that gives them interest and importance. I tread haunted
ground, and am surrounded by romantic associations. From earliest
boyhood, when, on the banks of the Hudson, I first pored over the pages
of old Gines Perez de Hytas’s apocryphal but chivalresque history of the
civil wars of Granada, and the feuds of its gallant cavaliers, the
Zegries and Abencerrages, that city has ever been a subject of my waking
dreams; and often have I trod in fancy the romantic halls of the
Alhambra. Behold for once a day-dream realized; yet I can scarce credit
my senses, or believe that I do indeed inhabit the palace of Boabdil,
and look down from its balconies upon chivalric Granada. As I loiter
through these Oriental chambers, and hear the murmur of fountains and
the song of the nightingale; as I inhale the odor of the rose, and feel
the influence of the balmy climate, I am almost tempted to fancy myself
in the paradise of Mahomet, and that the plump little Dolores is one of
the bright-eyed houris, destined to administer to the happiness of true
believers.



INHABITANTS OF THE ALHAMBRA


I have often observed that the more proudly a mansion has been tenanted
in the day of its prosperity, the humbler are its inhabitants in the day
of its decline, and that the palace of a king commonly ends in being the
nestling-place of the beggar.

The Alhambra is in a rapid state of similar transition. Whenever a tower
falls to decay, it is seized upon by some tatterdemalion family, who
become joint-tenants, with the bats and owls, of its gilded halls; and
hang their rags, those standards of poverty, out of its windows and
loopholes.

I have amused myself with remarking some of the motley characters that
have thus usurped the ancient abode of royalty, and who seem as if
placed here to give a farcical termination to the drama of human pride.
One of these even bears the mockery of a regal title. It is a little old
woman named Maria Antonia Sabonea, but who goes by the appellation of la
Reyna Coquina, or the Cockle-queen. She is small enough to be a fairy;
and a fairy she may be for aught I can find out, for no one seems to
know her origin. Her habitation is in a kind of closet under the outer
staircase of the palace, and she sits in the cool stone corridor, plying
her needle and singing from morning till night, with a ready joke for
every one that passes; for though one of the poorest, she is one of the
merriest little women breathing. Her great merit is a gift for
story-telling, having, I verily believe, as many stories at her command
as the inexhaustible Scheherezade of the Thousand and One Nights. Some
of these I have heard her relate in the evening tertulias of Dame
Antonia, at which she is occasionally a humble attendant.

That there must be some fairy gift about this mysterious little old
woman, would appear from her extraordinary luck, since, notwithstanding
her being very little, very ugly, and very poor, she has had, according
to her own account, five husbands and a half, reckoning as a half one a
young dragoon, who died during courtship. A rival personage to this
little fairy queen is a portly old fellow with a bottle-nose, who goes
about in a rusty garb, with a cocked hat of oil-skin and a red cockade.
He is one of the legitimate sons of the Alhambra, and has lived here all
his life, filling various offices, such as deputy alguazil, sexton of
the parochial church, and marker of a fives-court established at the
foot of one of the towers. He is as poor as a rat, but as proud as he is
ragged, boasting of his descent from the illustrious house of Aguilar,
from which sprang Gonzalvo of Cordova, the grand captain. Nay, he
actually bears the name of Alonzo de Aguilar, so renowned in the history
of the Conquest; though the graceless wags of the fortress have given
him the title of _el padre santo_, or the holy father, the usual
appellation of the Pope, which I had thought too sacred in the eyes of
true Catholics to be thus ludicrously applied. It is a whimsical caprice
of fortune to present, in the grotesque person of this tatterdemalion, a
namesake and descendant of the proud Alonzo de Aguilar, the mirror of
Andalusian chivalry, leading an almost mendicant existence about this
once haughty fortress, which his ancestor aided to reduce; yet such
might have been the lot of the descendants of Agamemnon and Achilles,
had they lingered about the ruins of Troy!

Of this motley community, I find the family of my gossiping squire,
Mateo Ximenes, to form, from their numbers at least, a very important
part. His boast of being a son of the Alhambra is not unfounded. His
family has inhabited the fortress ever since the time of the Conquest,
handing down an hereditary poverty from father to son; not one of them
having ever been known to be worth a maravedi. His father, by trade a
ribbon-weaver, and who succeeded the historical tailor as the head of
the family, is now near seventy years of age, and lives in a hovel of
reeds and plaster, built by his own hands, just above the iron gate. The
furniture consists of a crazy bed, a table, and two or three chairs; a
wooden chest, containing, besides his scanty clothing, the “archives of
the family.” These are nothing more nor less than the papers of various
law-suits sustained by different generations; by which it would seem
that, with all their apparent carelessness and good-humor, they are a
litigious brood. Most of the suits have been brought against gossiping
neighbors for questioning the purity of their blood, and denying their
being _Christianos viejos_, _i.e._ old Christians, without Jewish or
Moorish taint. In fact, I doubt whether this jealousy about their blood
has not kept them so poor in purse: spending all their earnings on
escribanos and alguazils. The pride of the hovel is an escutcheon
suspended against the wall, in which are emblazoned quarterings of the
arms of the Marquis of Caiesedo, and of various other noble houses, with
which this poverty-stricken brood claim affinity.

As to Mateo himself, who is now about thirty-five years of age, he has
done his utmost to perpetuate his line and continue the poverty of the
family, having a wife and a numerous progeny, who inhabit an almost
dismantled hovel in the hamlet. How they manage to subsist, he only who
sees into all mysteries can tell; the subsistence of a Spanish family of
the kind is always a riddle to me; yet they do subsist, and what is
more, appear to enjoy their existence. The wife takes her holiday stroll
on the Paseo of Granada, with a child in her arms and half a dozen at
her heels; and the eldest daughter, now verging into womanhood, dresses
her hair with flowers, and dances gayly to the castanets.

There are two classes of people to whom life seems one long
holiday,--the very rich and the very poor; one, because they need do
nothing; the other, because they have nothing to do; but there are none
who understand the art of doing nothing and living upon nothing, better
than the poor classes of Spain. Climate does one half, and temperament
the rest. Give a Spaniard the shade in summer and the sun in winter, a
little bread, garlic, oil, and garbances, an old brown cloak and a
guitar, and let the world roll on as it pleases. Talk of poverty! with
him it has no disgrace. It sits upon him with a grandiose style, like
his ragged cloak. He is a hidalgo, even when in rags.

The “sons of the Alhambra” are an eminent illustration of this practical
philosophy. As the Moors imagined that the celestial paradise hung over
this favored spot, so I am inclined at times to fancy that a gleam of
the golden age still lingers about this ragged community. They possess
nothing, they do nothing, they care for nothing. Yet, though apparently
idle all the week, they are as observant of all holy days and saints’
days as the most laborious artisan. They attend all fêtes and dancings
in Granada and its vicinity, light bonfires on the hills on St. John’s
eve, and dance away the moonlight nights on the harvest-home of a small
field within the precincts of the fortress, which yield a few bushels of
wheat.

Before concluding these remarks, I must mention one of the amusements of
the place, which has particularly struck me. I had repeatedly observed a
long lean fellow perched on the top of one of the towers, manœuvring
two or three fishing-rods, as though he were angling for the stars. I
was for some time perplexed by the evolutions of this aërial fisherman,
and my perplexity increased on observing others employed in like manner
on different parts of the battlements and bastions; it was not until I
consulted Mateo Ximenes that I solved the mystery.

It seems that the pure and airy situation of this fortress has rendered
it, like the castle of Macbeth, a prolific breeding-place for swallows
and martlets, who sport about its towers in myriads, with the holiday
glee of urchins just let loose from school. To entrap these birds in
their giddy circlings, with hooks baited with flies, is one of the
favorite amusements of the ragged “sons of the Alhambra,” who, with the
good-for-nothing ingenuity of arrant idlers, have thus invented the art
of angling in the sky.



THE HALL OF AMBASSADORS


In one of my visits to the old Moorish chamber where the good Tia
Antonia cooks her dinner and receives her company, I observed a
mysterious door in one corner, leading apparently into the ancient part
of the edifice. My curiosity being aroused, I opened it, and found
myself in a narrow, blind corridor, groping along which I came to the
head of a dark winding staircase, leading down an angle of the Tower of
Comares. Down this staircase I descended darkling,

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE HALL OF AMBASSADORS]

guiding myself by the wall until I came to a small door at the bottom,
throwing which open, I was suddenly dazzled by emerging into the
brilliant antechamber of the Hall of Ambassadors; with the fountain of
the Court of the Alberca sparkling before me. The antechamber is
separated from the court by an elegant gallery, supported by slender
columns with spandrels of open work in the Morisco style. At each end of
the antechamber are alcoves, and its ceiling is richly stuccoed and
painted. Passing through a magnificent portal, I found myself in the
far-famed Hall of Ambassadors, the audience chamber of the Moslem
monarchs. It is said to be thirty-seven feet square, and sixty feet
high; occupies the whole interior of the Tower of Comares; and still
bears the traces of past magnificence. The walls are beautifully
stuccoed and decorated with Morisco fancifulness; the lofty ceiling was
originally of the same favorite material, with the usual frostwork and
pensile ornaments or stalactites; which, with the embellishments of
vivid coloring and gilding, must have been gorgeous in the extreme.
Unfortunately it gave way during an earthquake, and brought down with it
an immense arch which traversed the hall. It was replaced by the present
vault or dome of larch or cedar, with intersecting ribs, the whole
curiously wrought and richly colored; still Oriental in its character,
reminding one of “those ceilings of cedar and vermilion that we read of
in the Prophets and the Arabian Nights.”[4]

From the great height of the vault above the windows, the upper part of
the hall is almost lost in obscurity; yet there is a magnificence as
well as solemnity in the gloom, as through it we have gleams of rich
gilding and the brilliant tints of the Moorish pencil.

The royal throne was placed opposite the entrance in a recess, which
still bears an inscription intimating that Yusef I. (the monarch who
completed the Alhambra) made this the throne of his empire. Everything
in this noble hall seems to have been calculated to surround the throne
with impressive dignity and splendor; there was none of the elegant
voluptuousness which reigns in other parts of the palace. The tower is
of massive strength, domineering over the whole edifice and overhanging
the steep hill-side. On three sides of the Hall of Ambassadors are
windows cut through the immense thickness of the walls, and commanding
extensive prospects. The balcony of the central window especially looks
down upon the verdant valley of the Darro, with its walks, its groves,
and gardens. To the left it enjoys a distant prospect of the Vega; while
directly in front rises the rival height of the Albaycin, with its
medley of streets, and terraces, and gardens, and once crowned by a
fortress that vied in power with the Alhambra. “Ill fated the man who
lost all this!” exclaimed Charles V., as he looked forth from this
window upon the enchanting scenery it commands.

The balcony of the window where this royal exclamation was made, has of
late become one of my favorite resorts. I have just been seated there,
enjoying the close of a long brilliant day. The sun, as he sank behind
the purple mountains of Alhama, sent a stream of effulgence up the
valley of the Darro, that spread a melancholy pomp over the ruddy towers
of the Alhambra; while the Vega, covered with a slight sultry vapor that
caught the setting ray, seemed spread out in the distance like a golden
sea. Not a breath of air disturbed the stillness of the hour, and though
the faint sound of music and merriment now and then rose from the
gardens of the Darro, it but rendered more impressive the monumental
silence of the pile which overshadowed me. It was one of those hours and
scenes in which memory asserts an almost magical power, and, like the
evening sun beaming on these mouldering towers, sends back her
retrospective rays to light up the glories of the past.

As I sat watching the effect of the declining daylight upon this Moorish
pile, I was led into a consideration of the light, elegant, and
voluptuous character prevalent throughout its internal architecture, and
to contrast it with the grand but gloomy solemnity of the Gothic
edifices reared by the Spanish conquerors. The very architecture thus
bespeaks the opposite and irreconcilable natures of the two warlike
people who so long battled here for the mastery of the Peninsula. By
degrees I fell into a course of musing upon the singular fortunes of the
Arabian or Morisco-Spaniards, whose whole existence is as a tale that is
told, and certainly forms one of the most anomalous yet splendid
episodes in history. Potent and durable as was their dominion, we
scarcely know how to call them. They were a nation without a legitimate
country or name. A remote wave of the great Arabian inundation, cast
upon the shores of Europe, they seem to have all the impetus of the
first rush of the torrent. Their career of conquest, from the rock of
Gibraltar to the cliffs of the Pyrenees, was as rapid and brilliant as
the Moslem victories of Syria and Egypt. Nay, had they not been checked
on the plains of Tours, all France, all Europe, might have been overrun
with the same facility as the empires of the East, and the Crescent at
this day have glittered on the fanes of Paris and London.

Repelled within the limits of the Pyrenees, the mixed hordes of Asia and
Africa, that formed this great irruption, gave up the Moslem principle
of conquest, and sought to establish in Spain a peaceful and permanent
dominion. As conquerors, their heroism was only equalled by their
moderation; and in both, for a time, they excelled the nations with whom
they contended. Severed from their native homes, they loved the land
given them as they supposed by Allah, and strove to embellish it with
everything that could administer to the happiness of man. Laying the
foundations of their power in a system of wise and equitable laws,
diligently cultivating the arts and sciences, and promoting agriculture,
manufactures, and commerce, they gradually formed an empire unrivalled
for its prosperity by any of the empires of Christendom; and diligently
drawing round them the graces and refinements which marked the Arabian
empire in the East, at the time of its greatest civilization, they
diffused the light of Oriental knowledge through the western regions of
benighted Europe.

The cities of Arabian Spain became the resort of Christian artisans, to
instruct themselves in the useful arts. The universities of Toledo,
Cordova, Seville, and Granada were sought by the pale student from other
lands to acquaint himself with the sciences of the Arabs and the
treasured lore of antiquity; the lovers of the gay science resorted to
Cordova and Granada, to imbibe the poetry and music of the East; and the
steel-clad warriors of the North hastened thither to accomplish
themselves in the graceful exercises and courteous usages of chivalry.

If the Moslem monuments in Spain, if the Mosque of Cordova, the Alcazar
of Seville, and the Alhambra of Granada, still bear inscriptions fondly
boasting of the power and permanency of their dominion, can the boast be
derided as arrogant and vain? Generation after generation, century after
century, passed away, and still they maintained possession of the land.
A period elapsed longer than that which has passed since England was
subjugated by the Norman Conqueror, and the descendants of Musa and
Taric might as little anticipate being driven into exile across the same
straits, traversed by their triumphant ancestors, as the descendants of
Rollo and William, and their veteran peers, may dream of being driven
back to the shores of Normandy.

With all this, however, the Moslem empire in Spain was but a brilliant
exotic, that took no permanent root in the soil it embellished. Severed
from all their neighbors in the West by impassable barriers of faith and
manners, and separated by seas and deserts from their kindred of the
East, the Morisco-Spaniards were an isolated people. Their whole
existence was a prolonged, though gallant and chivalric struggle for a
foothold in a usurped land.

They were the outposts and frontiers of Islamism. The Peninsula was the
great battle-ground where the Gothic conquerors of the North and the
Moslem conquerors of the East met and strove for mastery; and the fiery
courage of the Arab was at length subdued by the obstinate and
persevering valor of the Goth.

Never was the annihilation of a people more complete than that of the
Morisco-Spaniards. Where are they? Ask the shores of Barbary and its
desert places. The exiled remnant of their once powerful empire
disappeared among the barbarians of Africa, and ceased to be a nation.
They have not even left a distinct name behind them, though for nearly
eight centuries they were a distinct people. The home of their adoption,
and of their occupation for ages, refuses to acknowledge them, except as
invaders and usurpers. A few broken monuments are all that remain to
bear witness to their power and dominion, as solitary rocks, left far in
the interior, bear testimony to the extent of some vast inundation. Such
is the Alhambra;--a Moslem pile in the midst of a Christian land; an
Oriental palace amidst the Gothic edifices of the West; an elegant
memento of a brave, intelligent, and graceful people, who conquered,
ruled, flourished, and passed away.



THE JESUITS’ LIBRARY


Since indulging in the foregoing reverie, my curiosity has been aroused
to know something of the princes who left behind them this monument of
Oriental taste and magnificence,--and whose names still appear among the
inscriptions on its walls. To gratify this curiosity, I have descended
from this region of fancy and fable, where everything is liable to take
an imaginary tint, and have carried my researches among the dusty tomes
of the old Jesuits’ Library, in the University. This once boasted
repository of erudition is now a mere shadow of its former self, having
been stripped of its manuscripts and rarest works by the French, when
masters of Granada; still it contains, among many ponderous tomes of the
Jesuit fathers, which the French were careful to leave behind, several
curious tracts of Spanish literature; and above all, a number of those
antiquated parchment-bound chronicles for which I have a particular
veneration.

In this old library I have passed many delightful hours of quiet,
undisturbed, literary foraging; for the keys of the doors and bookcases
were kindly intrusted to me, and I was left alone, to rummage at my
pleasure,--a rare indulgence in these sanctuaries of learning, which too
often tantalize the thirsty student with the sight of sealed fountains
of knowledge.

In the course of these visits I gleaned a variety of facts concerning
historical characters connected with the Alhambra, some of which I here
subjoin, trusting they may prove acceptable to the reader.



ALHAMAR, THE FOUNDER OF THE ALHAMBRA


The Moors of Granada regarded the Alhambra as a miracle of art, and had
a tradition that the king who founded it dealt in magic, or at least in
alchemy, by means whereof he procured the immense sums of gold expended
in its erection. A brief view of his reign will show the secret of his
wealth. He is known in Arabian history as Muhamed Ibn-l-Ahmar; but his
name in general is written simply Alhamar, and was given to him, we are
told, on account of his ruddy complexion.[5]

He was of the noble and opulent line of the Beni Nasar, or tribe of
Nasar, and was born in Arjona, in the year of the Hegira 592 (A.D.
1195). At his birth the astrologers, we are told, cast his horoscope
according to Oriental custom, and pronounced it highly auspicious; and a
santon predicted for him a glorious career. No expense was spared in
fitting him for the high destinies prognosticated. Before he attained
the full years of manhood, the famous battle of the Navas (or plains) of
Tolosa shattered the Moorish empire, and eventually severed the Moslems
of Spain from the Moslems of Africa. Factions soon arose among the
former, headed by warlike chiefs ambitious of grasping the sovereignty
of the Peninsula. Alhamar became engaged in these wars; he was the
general and leader of the Beni Nasar, and, as such, he opposed and
thwarted the ambition of Aben Hud, who had raised his standard among
the warlike mountains of the Alpuxaras, and been proclaimed king of
Murcia and Granada. Many conflicts took place between these warring
chieftains; Alhamar dispossessed his rival of several important places,
and was proclaimed king of Jaen by his soldiery; but he aspired to the
sovereignty of the whole of Andalusia, for he was of a sanguine spirit
and lofty ambition. His valor and generosity went hand in hand; what he
gained by the one he secured by the other; and at the death of Aben Hud
(A.D. 1238) he became sovereign of all the territories which owed
allegiance to that powerful chief. He made his formal entry into Granada
in the same year, amid the enthusiastic shouts of the multitude, who
hailed him as the only one capable of uniting the various factions which
prevailed, and which threatened to lay the empire at the mercy of the
Christian princes.

Alhamar established his court in Granada; he was the first of the
illustrious line of Nasar that sat upon a throne. He took immediate
measures to put his little kingdom in a posture of defence against the
assaults to be expected from his Christian neighbors, repairing and
strengthening the frontier posts and fortifying the capital. Not content
with the provisions of the Moslem law, by which every man is made a
soldier, he raised a regular army to garrison his strongholds, allowing
every soldier stationed on the frontier a portion of land for the
support of himself, his horse, and his family,--thus interesting him in
the defence of the soil in which he had a property. These wise
precautions were justified by events. The Christians, profiting by the
dismemberment of the Moslem power, were rapidly regaining their ancient
territories. James the Conqueror had subjected all Valencia, and
Ferdinand the Saint sat down in person before Jaen, the bulwark of
Granada. Alhamar ventured to oppose him in open field, but met with a
signal defeat, and retired discomfited to his capital. Jaen still held
out, and kept the enemy at bay during an entire winter, but Ferdinand
swore not to raise his camp until he had gained possession of the place.
Alhamar found it impossible to throw reinforcements into the besieged
city; he saw that its fall must be followed by the investment of his
capital, and was conscious of the insufficiency of his means to cope
with the potent sovereign of Castile. Taking a sudden resolution,
therefore, he repaired privately to the Christian camp, made his
unexpected appearance in the presence of King Ferdinand, and frankly
announced himself as the king of Granada. “I come,” said he, “confiding
in your good faith, to put myself under your protection. Take all I
possess and receive me as your vassal”; so saying, he knelt and kissed
the king’s hand in token of allegiance.

Ferdinand was won by this instance of confiding faith, and determined
not to be outdone in generosity. He raised his late enemy from the
earth, embraced him as a friend, and, refusing the wealth he offered,
left him sovereign of his dominions, under the feudal tenure of a yearly
tribute, attendance at the Cortes as one of the nobles of the empire,
and service in war with a certain number of horsemen. He moreover
conferred on him the honor of knighthood, and armed him with his own
hands.

It was not long after this that Alhamar was called upon for his military
services, to aid King Ferdinand in his famous siege of Seville. The
Moorish king sallied forth with five hundred chosen horsemen of Granada,
than whom none in the world knew better how to manage the steed or wield
the lance. It was a humiliating service, however, for they had to draw
the sword against their brethren of the faith.

Alhamar gained a melancholy distinction by his prowess in this renowned
conquest, but more true honor by the humanity which he prevailed upon
Ferdinand to introduce into the usages of war. When in 1248 the famous
city of Seville surrendered to the Castilian monarch, Alhamar returned
sad and full of care to his dominions. He saw the gathering ills that
menaced the Moslem cause; and uttered an ejaculation often used by him
in moments of anxiety and trouble,--“How straitened and wretched would
be our life, if our hope were not so spacious and extensive.” “Que
angoste y miserabile seria nuestra vida, sino fuera tan dilatada y
espaciosa nuestra esperanza!”

As he approached Granada on his return he beheld arches of triumph which
had been erected in honor of his martial exploits. The people thronged
forth to see him with impatient joy, for his benignant rule had won all
hearts. Wherever he passed he was hailed with acclamations as “El
Ghalib!” (the conqueror). Alhamar gave a melancholy shake of the head on
hearing the appellation. “_Wa le ghalib ile Aláh!_” (there is no
conqueror but God) exclaimed he. From that time forward this exclamation
became his motto, and the motto of his descendants, and appears to this
day emblazoned on his escutcheons in the halls of the Alhambra.

Alhamar had purchased peace by submission to the Christian yoke; but he
was conscious that, with elements so discordant and motives for
hostility so deep and ancient, it could not be permanent. Acting,
therefore, upon the old maxim, “Arm thyself in peace and clothe thyself
in summer,” he improved the present interval of tranquillity by
fortifying his dominions, replenishing his arsenals, and promoting those
useful arts which give wealth and real power. He confided the command of
his various cities to such as had distinguished themselves by valor and
prudence, and who seemed most acceptable to the people. He organized a
vigilant police, and established rigid rules for the administration of
justice. The poor and the distressed always found ready admission to his
presence, and he attended personally to their assistance and redress. He
erected hospitals for the blind, the aged, and infirm, and all those
incapable of labor, and visited them frequently; not on set days with
pomp and form, so as to give time for everything to be put in order, and
every abuse concealed, but suddenly, and unexpectedly, informing
himself, by actual observation and close inquiry, of the treatment of
the sick, and the conduct of those appointed to administer to their
relief. He founded schools and colleges, which he visited in the same
manner, inspecting personally the instruction of the youth. He
established butcheries and public ovens, that the people might be
furnished with wholesome provisions at just and regular prices. He
introduced abundant streams of water into the city, erecting baths and
fountains, and constructing aqueducts and canals to irrigate and
fertilize the Vega. By these means prosperity and abundance prevailed in
this beautiful city; its gates were thronged with commerce, and its
warehouses filled with luxuries and merchandise of every clime and
country.

He moreover gave premiums and privileges to the best artisans; improved
the breed of horses and other domestic animals; encouraged husbandry;
and increased the natural fertility of the soil twofold by his
protection, making the lovely valleys of his kingdom to bloom like
gardens. He fostered also the growth and fabrication of silk, until the
looms of Granada surpassed even those of Syria in the fineness and
beauty of their productions. He moreover caused the mines of gold and
silver and other metals, found in the mountainous regions of his
dominions, to be diligently worked, and was the first king of Granada
who struck money of gold and silver with his name, taking great care
that the coins should be skilfully executed.

It was towards the middle of the thirteenth century, and just after his
return from the siege of Seville, that he commenced the splendid palace
of the Alhambra; superintending the building of it in person; mingling
frequently among the artists and workmen, and directing their labors.

Though thus magnificent in his works and great in his enterprises, he
was simple in his person and moderate in his enjoyments. His dress was
not merely void of splendor, but so plain as not to distinguish him from
his subjects. His harem boasted but few beauties, and these he visited
but seldom, though they were entertained with great magnificence. His
wives were daughters of the principal nobles, and were treated by him as
friends and rational companions. What is more, he managed to make them
live in friendship with one another. He passed much of his time in his
gardens; especially in those of the Alhambra, which he had stored with
the rarest plants and the most beautiful and aromatic flowers. Here he
delighted himself in reading histories, or in causing them to be read
and related to him, and sometimes, in intervals of leisure, employed
himself in the instruction of his three sons, for whom he had provided
the most learned and virtuous masters.

As he had frankly and voluntarily offered himself a tributary vassal to
Ferdinand, so he always remained loyal to his word, giving him repeated
proofs of fidelity and attachment. When that renowned monarch died in
Seville in 1254, Alhamar sent ambassadors to condole with his successor,
Alonzo X., and with them a gallant train of a hundred Moorish cavaliers
of distinguished rank, who were to attend round the royal bier during
the funeral ceremonies, each bearing a lighted taper. This grand
testimonial of respect was repeated by the Moslem monarch during the
remainder of his life on each anniversary of the death of King
Ferdinand el Santo, when the hundred Moorish knights repaired from
Granada to Seville, and took their stations with lighted tapers in the
centre of the sumptuous cathedral round the cenotaph of the illustrious
deceased.

Alhamar retained his faculties and vigor to an advanced age. In his
seventy-ninth year (A.D. 1272) he took the field on horseback,
accompanied by the flower of his chivalry, to resist an invasion of his
territories. As the army sallied forth from Granada, one of the
principal adalides, or guides, who rode in the advance, accidentally
broke his lance against the arch of the gate. The counsellors of the
king, alarmed by this circumstance, which was considered an evil omen,
entreated him to return. Their supplications were in vain. The king
persisted, and at noontide the omen, say the Moorish chroniclers, was
fatally fulfilled. Alhamar was suddenly struck with illness, and had
nearly fallen from his horse. He was placed on a litter, and borne back
towards Granada, but his illness increased to such a degree that they
were obliged to pitch his tent in the Vega. His physicians were filled
with consternation, not knowing what remedy to prescribe. In a few hours
he died, vomiting blood and in violent convulsions. The Castilian
prince, Don Philip, brother of Alonzo X., was by his side when he
expired. His body was embalmed, enclosed in a silver coffin, and buried
in the Alhambra in a sepulchre of precious marble, amidst the unfeigned
lamentations of his subjects, who bewailed him as a parent.

I have said that he was the first of the illustrious line of Nasar that
sat upon a throne. I may add that he was the founder of a brilliant
kingdom which will ever be famous in history and romance as the last
rallying-place of Moslem power and splendor in the Peninsula. Though his
undertakings were vast, and his expenditures immense, yet his treasury
was always full; and this seeming contradiction gave rise to the story
that he was versed in magic art, and possessed of the secret for
transmuting baser metals into gold. Those who have attended to his
domestic policy, as here set forth, will easily understand the natural
magic and simple alchemy which made his ample treasury to overflow.



YUSEF ABUL HAGIG

THE FINISHER OF THE ALHAMBRA


To the foregoing particulars, concerning the Moslem princes who once
reigned in these halls, I shall add a brief notice of the monarch who
completed and embellished the Alhambra. Yusef Abul Hagig (or, as it is
sometimes written, Haxis) was another prince of the noble line of Nasar.
He ascended the throne of Granada in the year of grace 1333, and is
described by Moslem writers as having a noble presence, great bodily
strength, and a fair complexion; and the majesty of his countenance
increased, say they, by suffering his beard to grow to a dignified
length and dyeing it black. His manners were gentle, affable, and
urbane; he carried the benignity of his nature into warfare, prohibiting
all wanton cruelty, and enjoining mercy and protection towards women and
children, the aged and infirm, and all friars and other persons of holy
and recluse life. But though he possessed the courage common to generous
spirits, the bent of his genius was more for peace than war, and though
repeatedly obliged by circumstances to take up arms, he was generally
unfortunate.

Among other ill-starred enterprises, he undertook a great campaign, in
conjunction with the king of Morocco, against the kings of Castile and
Portugal, but was defeated in the memorable battle of Salado, which had
nearly proved a death-blow to the Moslem power in Spain.

Yusef obtained a long truce after this defeat, and now his character
shone forth in its true lustre. He had an excellent memory, and had
stored his mind with science and erudition; his taste was altogether
elegant and refined, and he was accounted the best poet of his time.
Devoting himself to the instruction of his people and the improvement of
their morals and manners, he established schools in all the villages,
with simple and uniform systems of education; he obliged every hamlet of
more than twelve houses to have a mosque, and purified the ceremonies of
religion, and the festivals and popular amusements, from various abuses
and indecorums which had crept into them. He attended vigilantly to the
police of the city, establishing nocturnal guards and patrols, and
superintending all municipal concerns. His attention was also directed
towards finishing the great architectural works commenced by his
predecessors, and erecting others on his own plans. The Alhambra, which
had been founded by the good Alhamar, was now completed. Yusef
constructed the beautiful Gate of Justice, forming the grand entrance to
the fortress, which he finished in 1348. He likewise adorned many of the
courts and halls of the palace, as may be seen by the inscriptions on
the walls, in which his name repeatedly occurs. He built also the noble
Alcazar or citadel of Malaga, now unfortunately a mere mass of crumbling
ruins, but which most probably exhibited in its interior similar
elegance and magnificence with the Alhambra.

The genius of a sovereign stamps a character upon his time. The nobles
of Granada, imitating the elegant and graceful taste of Yusef, soon
filled the city of Granada with magnificent palaces; the halls of which
were paved with mosaic, the walls and ceilings wrought in fretwork, and
delicately gilded and painted with azure, vermilion, and other brilliant
colors, or minutely inlaid with cedar and other precious woods;
specimens of which have survived, in all their lustre, the lapse of
several centuries. Many of the houses had fountains, which threw up jets
of water to refresh and cool the air. They had lofty towers also, of
wood or stone, curiously carved and ornamented, and covered with plates
of metal that glittered in the sun. Such was the refined and delicate
taste in architecture that prevailed among this elegant people; insomuch
that, to use the beautiful simile of an Arabian writer, “Granada, in the
days of Yusef, was as a silver vase filled with emeralds and jacinths.”

One anecdote will be sufficient to show the magnanimity of this generous
prince. The long truce which had succeeded the battle of Salado was at
an end, and every effort of Yusef to renew it was in vain. His deadly
foe, Alfonso XI. of Castile, took the field with great force, and laid
siege to Gibraltar. Yusef reluctantly took up arms, and sent troops to
the relief of the place. In the midst of his anxiety, he received
tidings that his dreaded foe had suddenly fallen a victim to the plague.
Instead of manifesting exultation on the occasion, Yusef called to mind
the great qualities of the deceased, and was touched with a noble
sorrow. “Alas!” cried he, “the world has lost one of its most excellent
princes; a sovereign who knew how to honor merit, whether in friend or
foe!”

The Spanish chroniclers themselves bear witness to this magnanimity.
According to their accounts, the Moorish cavaliers partook of the
sentiment of their king, and put on mourning for the death of Alfonzo.
Even those of Gibraltar, who had been so closely invested, when they
knew that the hostile monarch lay dead in his camp, determined among
themselves that no hostile movement should be made against the
Christians. The day on which the camp was broken up, and the army
departed, bearing the corpse of Alfonzo, the Moors issued in multitudes
from Gibraltar, and stood mute and melancholy, watching the mournful
pageant. The same reverence for the deceased was observed by all the
Moorish commanders on the frontiers, who suffered the funeral train to
pass in safety, bearing the corpse of the Christian sovereign from
Gibraltar to Seville.[6]

Yusef did not long survive the enemy he had so generously deplored. In
the year 1354, as he was one day praying in the royal mosque of the
Alhambra, a maniac rushed suddenly from behind and plunged a dagger in
his side. The cries of the king brought his guards and courtiers to his
assistance. They found him weltering in his blood. He made some signs as
if to speak, but his words were unintelligible. They bore him senseless
to the royal apartments, where he expired almost immediately. The
murderer was cut to pieces, and his limbs burnt in public to gratify the
fury of the populace.

The body of the king was interred in a superb sepulchre of white marble;
a long epitaph, in letters of gold upon an azure ground, recorded his
virtues. “Here lies a king and martyr, of an illustrious line, gentle,
learned, and virtuous; renowned for the graces of his person and his
manners; whose clemency, piety, and benevolence were extolled throughout
the kingdom of Granada. He was a great prince; an illustrious captain; a
sharp sword of the Moslems; a valiant standard-bearer among the most
potent monarchs,” &c.

The mosque still exists which once resounded with the dying cries of
Yusef, but the monument which recorded his virtues has long since
disappeared. His name, however, remains inscribed among the delicate and
graceful ornaments of the Alhambra, and will be perpetuated in
connection with this renowned pile, which it was his pride and delight
to beautify.



THE MYSTERIOUS CHAMBERS


As I was rambling one day about the Moorish halls, my attention was, for
the first time, attracted to a door in a remote gallery, communicating
apparently with some part of the Alhambra which I had not yet explored.
I attempted to open it, but it was locked. I knocked, but no one
answered, and the sound seemed to reverberate through empty chambers.
Here then was a mystery. Here was the haunted wing of the castle. How
was I to get at the dark secrets here shut up from the public eye?
Should I come privately at night with lamp and sword, according to the
prying custom of heroes of romance; or should I endeavor to draw the
secret from Pépe the stuttering gardener; or the ingenuous Dolores, or
the loquacious Mateo? Or should I go frankly and openly to Dame Antonia
the chatelaine, and ask her all about it? I chose the latter course, as
being the simplest though the least romantic; and found, somewhat to my
disappointment, that there was no mystery in the case. I was welcome to
explore the apartment, and there was the key.

Thus provided, I returned forthwith to the door. It opened, as I had
surmised, to a range of vacant chambers; but they were quite different
from the rest of the palace. The architecture, though rich and
antiquated, was European. There was nothing Moorish about it. The first
two rooms were lofty; the ceilings, broken in many places, were of
cedar, deeply panelled and skilfully carved with fruits and flowers,
intermingled with grotesque masks or faces.

The walls had evidently in ancient times been hung with damask; but now
were naked, and scrawled over by that class of aspiring travellers who
defile noble monuments with their worthless names. The windows,
dismantled and open to wind and weather, looked out into a charming
little secluded garden, where an alabaster fountain sparkled among roses
and myrtles, and was surrounded by orange and citron trees, some of
which flung their branches into the chambers. Beyond these rooms were
two saloons, longer but less lofty, looking also into the garden. In the
compartments of the panelled ceilings were baskets of fruit and garlands
of flowers, painted by no mean hand, and in tolerable preservation. The
walls also had been painted in fresco in the Italian style, but the
paintings were nearly obliterated; the windows were in the same
shattered state with those of the other chambers. This fanciful suite of
rooms terminated in an open gallery with balustrades, running at right
angles along another side of the garden. The whole apartment, so
delicate and elegant in its decorations, so choice and sequestered in
its situation along this retired little garden, and so different in
architecture from the neighboring halls, awakened an interest in its
history. I found on inquiry that it was an apartment fitted up by
Italian artists in the early part of the last century, at the time when
Philip V. and his second wife, the beautiful Elizabetta of Farnese,
daughter of the Duke of Parma, were expected at the Alhambra. It was
destined for the queen and the ladies of her train. One of the loftiest
chambers had been her sleeping-room. A narrow staircase, now walled up,
led up to a delightful belvidere, originally a mirador of the Moorish
sultanas, communicating with the harem; but which was fitted up as a
boudoir for the fair Elizabetta, and still retains the name of _el
tocador de la Reyna_, or the queen’s toilette.

One window of the royal sleeping-room commanded a prospect of the
Generalife and its embowered terraces; another looked out into the
little secluded garden I have mentioned, which was decidedly Moorish in
its character, and also had its history. It was in fact the garden of
Lindaraxa, so often mentioned in descriptions of the Alhambra; but who
this Lindaraxa was I had never heard explained. A little research gave
me the few particulars known about her. She was a Moorish beauty who
flourished in the court of Muhamed the Left-Handed, and was the daughter
of his loyal adherent, the alcayde of Malaga, who sheltered him in his
city when driven from the throne. On regaining his crown, the alcayde
was rewarded for his fidelity. His daughter had her apartment in the
Alhambra, and was given by the king in marriage to Nasar, a young
Cetimerien prince descended from Aben Hud the Just. Their espousals were
doubtless celebrated in the royal palace, and their honeymoon may have
passed among these very bowers.[7]

Four centuries had elapsed since the fair Lindaraxa passed away, yet how
much of the fragile beauty of the scenes she inhabited remained! The
garden still bloomed in which she delighted; the fountain still
presented the crystal mirror in which her charms may once have been
reflected; the alabaster, it is true, had lost its whiteness; the basin
beneath, overrun with weeds, had become the lurking-place of the
lizard, but there was something in the very decay that enhanced the
interest of the scene, speaking as it did of that mutability, the
irrevocable lot of man and all his works.

The desolation too of these chambers, once the abode of the proud and
elegant Elizabetta, had a more touching charm for me than if I had
beheld them in their pristine splendor, glittering with the pageantry of
a court.

When I returned to my quarters, in the governor’s apartment, everything
seemed tame and commonplace after the poetic region I had left. The
thought suggested itself: Why could I not change my quarters to these
vacant chambers? that would indeed be living in the Alhambra, surrounded
by its gardens and fountains, as in the time of the Moorish sovereigns.
I proposed the change to Dame Antonia and her family, and it occasioned
vast surprise. They could not conceive any rational inducement for the
choice of an apartment so forlorn, remote, and solitary. Dolores
exclaimed at its frightful loneliness; nothing but bats and owls
flitting about,--and then a fox and wildcat kept in the vaults of the
neighboring baths, and roamed about at night. The good Tia had more
reasonable objections. The neighborhood was infested by vagrants;
gypsies swarmed in the caverns of the adjacent hills; the palace was
ruinous and easy to be entered in many places; the rumor of a stranger
quartered alone in one of the remote and ruined apartments, out of the
hearing of the rest of the inhabitants, might tempt unwelcome visitors
in the night, especially as foreigners were always supposed to be well
stocked with money. I was not to be diverted from my humor, however, and
my will was law with these good people. So, calling in the assistance of
a carpenter, and the over officious Mateo Ximenes, the doors and windows
were soon placed in a state of tolerable security, and the
sleeping-room of the stately Elizabetta prepared for my reception. Mateo
kindly volunteered as a body-guard to sleep in my antechamber; but I did
not think it worth while to put his valor to the proof.

With all the hardihood I had assumed and all the precautions I had
taken, I must confess the first night passed in these quarters was
inexpressibly dreary. I do not think it was so much the apprehension of
dangers from without that affected me, as the character of the place
itself, with all its strange associations: the deeds of violence
committed there; the tragical ends of many of those who had once reigned
there in splendor. As I passed beneath the fated halls of the Tower of
Comares on the way to my chamber, I called to mind a quotation, that
used to thrill me in the days of boyhood:

    Fate sits on these dark battlements and frowns;
    And, as the portal opens to receive me,
    A voice in sullen echoes through the courts
    Tells of a nameless deed!

The whole family escorted me to my chamber, and took leave of me as of
one engaged on a perilous enterprise; and when I heard their retreating
steps die away along the waste antechambers and echoing galleries, and
turned the key of my door, I was reminded of those hobgoblin stories,
where the hero is left to accomplish the adventure of an enchanted
house.

Even the thoughts of the fair Elizabetta and the beauties of her court,
who had once graced these chambers, now, by a perversion of fancy, added
to the gloom. Here was the scene of their transient gayety and
loveliness; here were the very traces of their elegance and enjoyment;
but what and where were they? Dust and ashes! tenants of the tomb!
phantoms of the memory!

A vague and indescribable awe was creeping over me. I would fain have
ascribed it to the thoughts of robbers awakened by the evening’s
conversation, but I felt it was something more unreal and absurd. The
long-buried superstitions of the nursery were reviving, and asserting
their power over my imagination. Everything began to be affected by the
working of my mind. The whispering of the wind among the citron-trees
beneath my window had something sinister. I cast my eyes into the garden
of Lindaraxa; the groves presented a gulf of shadows; the thickets,
indistinct and ghastly shapes. I was glad to close the window, but my
chamber itself became infected. There was a slight rustling noise
overhead; a bat suddenly emerged from a broken panel of the ceiling,
flitting about the room and athwart my solitary lamp; and as the fateful
bird almost flouted my face with his noiseless wing, the grotesque faces
carved in high relief in the cedar ceiling, whence he had emerged,
seemed to mope and mow at me.

Rousing myself, and half smiling at this temporary weakness, I resolved
to brave it out in the true spirit of the hero of the enchanted house;
so, taking lamp in hand, I sallied forth to make a tour of the palace.
Notwithstanding every mental exertion the task was a severe one. I had
to traverse waste halls and mysterious galleries, where the rays of the
lamp extended but a short distance around me. I walked, as it were, in a
mere halo of light, walled in by impenetrable darkness. The vaulted
corridors were as caverns; the ceilings of the halls were lost in gloom.
I recalled all that had been said of the danger from interlopers in
these remote and ruined apartments. Might not some vagrant foe be
lurking before or behind me, in the outer darkness? My own shadow, cast
upon the wall, began to disturb me. The echoes of my own footsteps along
the corridors made me pause and look round. I was traversing scenes
fraught with dismal recollections. One dark passage led down to the
mosque where Yusef, the Moorish monarch, the finisher of the Alhambra,
had been basely murdered. In another place I trod the gallery where
another monarch had been struck down by the poniard of a relative whom
he had thwarted in his love.

A low murmuring sound, as of stifled voices and clanking chains, now
reached me. It seemed to come from the Hall of the Abencerrages. I knew
it to be the rush of water through subterranean channels, but it sounded
strangely in the night, and reminded me of the dismal stories to which
it had given rise.

Soon, however, my ear was assailed by sounds too fearfully real to be
the work of fancy. As I was crossing the Hall of Ambassadors, low moans
and broken ejaculations rose, as it were, from beneath my feet. I paused
and listened. They then appeared to be outside of the tower--then again
within. Then broke forth howlings as of an animal--then stifled shrieks
and inarticulate ravings. Heard in that dead hour and singular place,
the effect was thrilling. I had no desire for further perambulation; but
returned to my chamber with infinitely more alacrity than I had sallied
forth, and drew my breath more freely when once more within its walls
and the door bolted behind me. When I awoke in the morning, with the sun
shining in at my window and lighting up every part of the building with
his cheerful and truth-telling beams, I could scarcely recall the
shadows and fancies conjured up by the gloom of the preceding night; or
believe that the scenes around me, so naked and apparent, could have
been clothed with such imaginary horrors.

Still, the dismal howlings and ejaculations I had heard were not ideal;
they were soon accounted for, however, by my handmaid Dolores: being the
ravings of a poor maniac, a brother of her aunt, who was subject to
violent paroxysms, during which he was confined in a vaulted room
beneath the Hall of Ambassadors.

In the course of a few evenings a thorough change took place in the
scene and its associations. The moon, which when I took possession of my
new apartments was invisible, gradually gained each evening upon the
darkness of the night, and at length rolled in full splendor above the
towers, pouring a flood of tempered light into every court and hall. The
garden beneath my window, before wrapped in gloom, was gently lighted
up; the orange-and citron-trees were tipped with silver; the fountain
sparkled in the moonbeams, and even the blush of the rose was faintly
visible.

I now felt the poetic merit of the Arabic inscription on the
walls,--“How beauteous is this garden; where the flowers of the earth
vie with the stars of heaven. What can compare with the vase of yon
alabaster fountain filled with crystal water? nothing but the moon in
her fulness, shining in the midst of an unclouded sky!”

On such heavenly nights I would sit for hours at my window inhaling the
sweetness of the garden, and musing on the checkered fortunes of those
whose history was dimly shadowed out in the elegant memorials around.
Sometimes, when all was quiet, and the clock from the distant cathedral
of Granada struck the midnight hour, I have sallied out on another tour
and wandered over the whole building; but how different from my first
tour! No longer dark and mysterious; no longer peopled with shadowy
foes; no longer recalling scenes of violence and murder; all was open,
spacious, beautiful; everything called up pleasing and romantic fancies;
Lindaraxa once more walked in her garden; the gay chivalry of Moslem
Granada once more glittered about the Court of Lions! Who can do justice
to a moonlight night in such a climate and such a place? The temperature
of a summer midnight in Andalusia is perfectly ethereal. We seem lifted
up into a purer atmosphere; we feel a serenity of soul, a buoyancy of
spirits, an elasticity of frame, which render mere existence happiness.
But when moonlight is added to all this, the effect is like enchantment.
Under its plastic sway the Alhambra seems to regain its pristine
glories. Every rent and chasm of time; every mouldering tint and
weather-stain is gone; the marble resumes its original whiteness; the
long colonnades brighten in the moonbeams; the halls are illuminated
with a softened radiance,--we tread the enchanted palace of an Arabian
tale!

What a delight, at such a time, to ascend to the little airy pavilion of
the queen’s toilette (el tocador de la reyna), which, like a bird-cage,
overhangs the valley of the Darro, and gaze from its light arcades upon
the moonlight prospect! To the right, the swelling mountains of the
Sierra Nevada, robbed of their ruggedness and softened into a fairy
land, with their snowy summits gleaming like silver clouds against the
deep blue sky. And then to lean over the parapet of the Tocador and gaze
down upon Granada and the Albaycin spread out like a map below; all
buried in deep repose; the white palaces and convents sleeping in the
moonshine, and beyond all these the vapory Vega fading away like a
dreamland in the distance.

Sometimes the faint click of castanets rise from the Alameda, where some
gay Andalusians are dancing away the summer night. Sometimes the dubious
tones of a guitar and the notes of an amorous voice, tell perchance the
whereabout of some moonstruck lover serenading his lady’s window.

Such is a faint picture of the moonlight nights I have passed loitering
about the courts and halls and balconies of this most suggestive pile;
“feeding my fancy with sugared suppositions,” and enjoying that mixture
of reverie and sensation which steal away existence in a southern
climate; so that it has been almost morning before I have retired to
bed, and been lulled to sleep by the falling waters of the fountain of
Lindaraxa.



PANORAMA FROM THE TOWER OF COMARES


It is a serene and beautiful morning: the sun has not gained sufficient
power to destroy the freshness of the night. What a morning to mount to
the summit of the Tower of Comares, and take a bird’s-eye view of
Granada and its environs!

Come then, worthy reader and comrade, follow my steps into this
vestibule, ornamented with rich tracery, which opens into the Hall of
Ambassadors. We will not enter the hall, however, but turn to this small
door opening into the wall. Have a care! here are steep winding steps
and but scanty light; yet up this narrow, obscure, and spiral staircase,
the proud monarchs of Granada and their queens have often ascended to
the battlements to watch the approach of invading armies, or gaze with
anxious hearts on the battles in the Vega.

At length we have reached the terraced roof, and may take breath for a
moment, while we cast a general eye over the splendid panorama of city
and country; of rocky mountain, verdant valley, and fertile plain; of
castle, cathedral, Moorish towers, and Gothic domes, crumbling ruins,
and blooming groves. Let us approach the battlements, and cast our eyes
immediately below. See, on this side we have the whole plain of the
Alhambra laid open to us, and can look down into its courts and gardens.
At the foot of the tower is the Court of the Alberca, with its great
tank or fishpool, bordered with flowers; and yonder is the Court of
Lions, with its famous fountain, and its light Moorish arcades; and in
the centre of the pile is the little garden of Lindaraxa, buried in the
heart of the building, with its roses and citrons and shrubbery of
emerald green.

That belt of battlements, studded with square towers, straggling round
the whole brow of the hill, is the outer boundary of the fortress. Some
of the towers, you may perceive, are in ruins, and their massive
fragments buried among vines, fig-trees, and aloes.

Let us look on this northern side of the tower. It is a giddy height;
the very foundations of the tower rise above the groves of the steep
hill-side. And see! a long fissure in the massive walls shows that the
tower has been rent by some of the earthquakes which from time to time
have thrown Granada into consternation; and which, sooner or later, must
reduce this crumbling pile to a mere mass of ruin. The deep narrow glen
below us, which gradually widens as it opens from the mountains, is the
valley of the Darro; you see the little river winding its way under
embowered terraces, and among orchards and flower-gardens. It is a
stream famous in old times for yielding gold, and its sands are still
sifted occasionally, in search of the precious ore. Some of those white
pavilions, which here and there gleam from among groves and vineyards,
were rustic retreats of the Moors, to enjoy the refreshment of their
gardens. Well have they been compared by one of their poets to so many
pearls set in a bed of emeralds.

The airy palace, with its tall white towers and long arcades, which
breasts yon mountain, among pompous groves and hanging gardens, is the
Generalife, a summer palace of the Moorish kings, to which they resorted
during the sultry months to enjoy a still more breezy region than that
of the Alhambra. The naked summit of the height above it, where you
behold some shapeless ruins, is the Silla del Moro, or seat of the Moor,
so called from having been a retreat of the unfortunate Boabdil during
the time of an insurrection, where he seated himself, and looked down
mournfully upon his rebellious city.

A murmuring sound of water now and then rises from the valley. It is
from the aqueduct of yon Moorish mill, nearly at the foot of the hill.
The avenue of trees beyond is the Alameda, along the bank of the Darro,
a favorite resort in evenings, and a rendezvous of lovers in the summer
nights, when the guitar may be heard at a late hour from the benches
along its walls. At present you see none but a few loitering monks
there, and a group of water-carriers. The latter are burdened with
water-jars of ancient Oriental construction, such as were used by the
Moors. They have been filled at the cold and limpid spring called the
fountain of Avellanos. Yon mountain path leads to the fountain, a
favorite resort of Moslems as well as Christians; for this is said to be
the Adinamar (Aynu-l-adamar), the “Fountain of Tears,” mentioned by Ibn
Batuta the traveller, and celebrated in the histories and romances of
the Moors.

You start! ’tis nothing but a hawk that we have frightened from his
nest. This old tower is a complete breeding-place for vagrant birds; the
swallow and martlet abound in every chink and cranny, and circle about
it the whole day long; while at night, when all other birds have gone to
rest, the moping owl comes out of its lurking-place, and utters its
boding cry from the battlements. See how the hawk we have dislodged
sweeps away below us, skimming over the tops of the trees, and sailing
up to the ruins above the Generalife!

I see you raise your eyes to the snowy summit of yon pile of mountains,
shining like a white summer cloud in the blue sky. It is the Sierra
Nevada, the pride and delight of Granada; the source of her cooling
breezes and perpetual verdure, of her gushing fountains and perennial
streams. It is this glorious pile of mountains which gives to Granada
that combination of delights so rare in a southern city,--the fresh
vegetation and temperate airs of a northern climate, with the vivifying
ardor of a tropical sun, and the cloudless azure of a southern sky. It
is this aërial treasury of snow, which, melting in proportion to the
increase of the summer heat, sends down rivulets and streams through
every glen and gorge of the Alpuxarras, diffusing emerald verdure and
fertility throughout a chain of happy and sequestered valleys.

Those mountains may be well called the glory of Granada. They dominate
the whole extent of Andalusia, and may be seen from its most distant
parts. The muleteer hails them, as he views their frosty peaks from the
sultry level of the plain; and the Spanish mariner on the deck of his
bark, far, far off on the bosom of the blue Mediterranean, watches them
with a pensive eye, thinks of delightful Granada, and chants, in low
voice, some old romance about the Moors.

See to the south at the foot of those mountains a line of arid hills,
down which a long train of mules is slowly moving. Here was the closing
scene of Moslem domination. From the summit of one of those hills the
unfortunate Boabdil cast back his last look upon Granada, and gave vent
to the agony of his soul. It is the spot famous in song and story, “The
last sigh of the Moor.”

Further this way these arid hills slope down into the luxurious Vega,
from which he had just emerged: a blooming wilderness of grove and
garden, and teeming orchard, with the Xenil winding through it in silver
links, and feeding innumerable rills; which, conducted through ancient
Moorish channels, maintain the landscape in perpetual verdure. Here were
the beloved bowers and gardens, and rural pavilions, for which the
unfortunate Moors fought with such desperate valor. The very hovels and
rude granges; now inhabited by boors, show, by the remains of arabesques
and other tasteful decoration, that they were elegant residences in the
days of the Moslems. Behold, in the very centre of this eventful plain,
a place which in a manner links the history of the Old World with that
of the New. Yon line of walls and towers gleaming in the morning sun, is
the city of Santa Fe, built by the Catholic sovereigns during the siege
of Granada, after a conflagration had destroyed their camp. It was to
these walls Columbus was called back by the heroic queen, and within
them the treaty was concluded which led to the discovery of the Western
World. Behind yon promontory to the west is the bridge of Pinos,
renowned for many a bloody fight between Moors and Christians. At this
bridge the messenger overtook Columbus when, despairing of success with
the Spanish sovereigns, he was departing to carry his project of
discovery to the court of France.

Above the bridge a range of mountains bounds the Vega to the west,--the
ancient barrier between Granada and the Christian territories. Among
their heights you may still discern warrior towns; their gray walls and
battlements seeming of a piece with the rocks on which they are built.
Here and there a solitary atalaya, or watchtower, perched on a mountain
peak, looks down as it were from the sky into the valley on either side.
How often have these atalayas given notice, by fire at night or smoke by
day, of an approaching foe! It was down a cragged defile of these
mountains, called the Pass of Lope, that the Christian armies descended
into the Vega. Round the base of yon gray and naked mountain (the
mountain of Elvira), stretching its bold rocky promontory into the bosom
of the plain, the invading squadrons would come bursting into view, with
flaunting banners and clangor of drum and trumpet.

Five hundred years have elapsed since Ismael ben Ferrag, a Moorish king
of Granada, beheld from this very tower an invasion of the kind, and an
insulting ravage of the Vega; on which occasion he displayed an instance
of chivalrous magnanimity, often witnessed in the Moslem princes; “whose
history,” says an Arabian writer, “abounds in generous actions and noble
deeds that will last through all succeeding ages, and live forever in
the memory of man.”--But let us sit down on this parapet, and I will
relate the anecdote.

It was in the year of grace 1319, that Ismael ben Ferrag beheld from
this tower a Christian camp whitening the skirts of yon mountain of
Elvira. The royal princes, Don Juan and Don Pedro, regents of Castile
during the minority of Alfonso XI., had already laid waste the country
from Alcaudete to Alcalá la Real, capturing the castle of Illora and
setting fire to its suburbs, and they now carried their insulting
ravages to the very gates of Granada, defying the king to sally forth
and give them battle.

Ismael, though a young and intrepid prince, hesitated to accept the
challenge. He had not sufficient force at hand, and awaited the arrival
of troops summoned from the neighboring towns. The Christian princes,
mistaking his motives, gave up all hope of drawing him forth, and having
glutted themselves with ravage, struck their tents and began their
homeward march. Don Pedro led the van, and Don Juan brought up the rear,
but their march was confused and irregular, the army being greatly
encumbered by the spoils and captives they had taken.

By this time King Ismael had received his expected resources, and
putting them under the command of Osmyn, one of the bravest of his
generals, sent them forth in hot pursuit of the enemy. The Christians
were overtaken in the defiles of the mountains. A panic seized them;
they were completely routed, and driven with great slaughter across the
borders. Both of the princes lost their lives. The body of Don Pedro was
carried off by his soldiers, but that of Don Juan was lost in the
darkness of the night. His son wrote to the Moorish king, entreating
that the body of his father might be sought and honorably treated.
Ismael forgot in a moment that Don Juan was an enemy, who had carried
ravage and insult to the very gate of his capital; he only thought of
him as a gallant cavalier and a royal prince. By his command diligent
search was made for the body. It was found in a barranco and brought to
Granada. There Ismael caused it to be laid out in state on a lofty bier,
surrounded by torches and tapers, in one of these halls of the Alhambra.
Osmyn and other of the noblest cavaliers were appointed as a guard of
honor, and the Christian captives were assembled to pray around it.

In the mean time, Ismael wrote to the son of Prince Juan to send a
convoy for the body, assuring him it should be faithfully delivered up.
In due time, a band of Christian cavaliers arrived for the purpose. They
were honorably received and entertained by Ismael, and, on their
departure with the body, the guard of honor of Moslem cavaliers escorted
the funeral train to the frontier.

But enough;--the sun is high above the mountains, and pours his full
fervor on our heads. Already the terraced roof is hot beneath our feet;
let us abandon it, and refresh ourselves under the Arcades by the
Fountain of the Lions.



THE TRUANT


We have had a scene of a petty tribulation in the Alhambra, which has
thrown a cloud over the sunny countenance of Dolores. This little damsel
has a female passion for pets of all kinds; and from the superabundant
kindness of her disposition, one of the ruined courts of the Alhambra is
thronged with her favorites. A stately peacock and his hen seem to hold
regal sway here, over pompous turkeys, querulous guinea-fowls, and a
rabble rout of common cocks and hens. The great delight of Dolores,
however, has for some time past been centred in a youthful pair of
pigeons, who have lately entered into the holy state of wedlock, and
even supplanted a tortoise-shell cat and kittens in her affections.

As a tenement for them wherein to commence house-keeping, she had fitted
up a small chamber adjacent to the kitchen, the window of which looked
into one of the quiet Moorish courts. Here they lived in happy ignorance
of any world beyond the court and its sunny roofs. Never had they
aspired to soar above the battlements, or to mount to the summit of the
towers. Their virtuous union was at length crowned by two spotless and
milk-white eggs, to the great joy of their cherishing little mistress.
Nothing could be more praiseworthy than the conduct of the young married
folks on this interesting occasion. They took turns to sit upon the nest
until the eggs were hatched, and while their callow progeny required
warmth and shelter;--while one thus stayed at home, the other foraged
abroad for food, and brought home abundant supplies.

This scene of conjugal felicity has suddenly met with a reverse. Early
this morning, as Dolores was feeding the male pigeon, she took a fancy
to give him a peep at the great world. Opening a window, therefore,
which looks down upon the valley of the Darro, she launched him at once
beyond the walls of the Alhambra. For the first time in his life the
astonished bird had to try the full vigor of his wings. He swept down
into the valley, and then rising upwards with a surge, soared almost to
the clouds. Never before had he risen to such a height, or experienced
such delight in flying; and, like a young spendthrift just come to his
estate, he seemed giddy with excess of liberty, and with the boundless
field of action suddenly opened to him. For the whole day he has been
circling about in capricious flights, from tower to tower, and tree to
tree. Every attempt has been vain to lure him back by scattering grain
upon the roofs; he seems to have lost all thought of home, of his tender
helpmate, and his callow young. To add to the anxiety of Dolores, he has
been joined by two _palomas ladrones_, or robber pigeons, whose instinct
it is to entice wandering pigeons to their own dove-cotes. The fugitive,
like many other thoughtless youths on their first launching upon the
world, seems quite fascinated with these knowing but graceless
companions, who have undertaken to show him life, and introduce him to
society. He has been soaring with them over all the roofs and steeples
of Granada. A thunder-storm has passed over the city, but he has not
sought his home; night has closed in, and still he comes not. To deepen
the pathos of the affair, the female pigeon, after remaining several
hours on the nest without being relieved, at length went forth to seek
her recreant mate; but stayed away so long that the young ones perished
for want of the warmth and shelter of the parent bosom. At a late hour
in the evening, word was brought to Dolores that the truant bird had
been seen upon the towers of the Generalife. Now it happens that the
_Administrador_ of that ancient palace has likewise a dove-cote, among
the inmates of which are said to be two or three of these inveigling
birds, the terror of all neighboring pigeon-fanciers. Dolores
immediately concluded that the two feathered sharpers who had been seen
with her fugitive were these bloods of the Generalife. A council of war
was forthwith held in the chamber of Tia Antonia. The Generalife is a
distinct jurisdiction from the Alhambra, and of course some punctilio,
if not jealousy, exists between their custodians. It was determined,
therefore, to send Pèpe, the stuttering lad of the gardens, as
ambassador to the Administrador, requesting that if such fugitive should
be found in his dominions, he might be given up as a subject of the
Alhambra. Pèpe departed accordingly, on his diplomatic expedition,
through the moonlit groves and avenues, but returned in an hour with the
afflicting intelligence that no such bird was to be found in the
dove-cote of the Generalife. The Administrador, however, pledged his
sovereign word that if such vagrant should appear there, even at
midnight, he should instantly be arrested and sent back prisoner to his
little black-eyed mistress.

Thus stands the melancholy affair, which has occasioned much distress
throughout the palace, and has sent the inconsolable Dolores to a
sleepless pillow.

---- “Sorrow endureth for a night,” says the proverb, “but joy cometh in
the morning.” The first object that met my eyes, on leaving my room this
morning, was Dolores, with the truant pigeon in her hands, and her eyes
sparkling with joy. He had appeared at an early hour on the battlements,
hovering shyly about from roof to roof, but at length entered the
window, and surrendered himself prisoner. He gained but little credit,
however, by his return; for the ravenous manner in which he devoured the
food set before him showed that, like the prodigal son, he had been
driven home by sheer famine. Dolores upbraided him for his faithless
conduct, calling him all manners of vagrant names, though, womanlike,
she fondled him at the same time to her bosom, and covered him with
kisses. I observed, however, that she had taken care to clip his wings
to prevent all future soarings;--a precaution which I mention for the
benefit of all those who have truant lovers or wandering husbands. More
than one valuable moral might be drawn from the story of Dolores and her
pigeon.



THE BALCONY


I have spoken of a balcony of the central window of the Hall of
Ambassadors. It served as a kind of observatory, where I used often to
take my seat, and consider not merely the heaven above but the earth
beneath. Besides the magnificent prospect which it commanded of
mountain, valley, and vega, there was a little busy scene of human life
laid open to inspection immediately below. At the foot of the hill was
an alameda, or public walk, which, though not so fashionable as the more
modern and splendid paseo of the Xenil, still boasted a varied and
picturesque concourse. Hither resorted the small gentry of the suburbs,
together with priests and friars, who walked for appetite and digestion;
majos and majas, the beaux and belles of the lower classes, in their
Andalusian dresses; swaggering contrabandistas, and sometimes
half-muffled and mysterious loungers of the higher ranks, on some secret
assignation.

It was a moving picture of Spanish life and character, which I delighted
to study; and as the astronomer has his grand telescope with which to
sweep the skies, and, as it were, bring the stars nearer for his
inspection, so I had a smaller one, of pocket size, for the use of my
observatory, with which I could sweep the regions below, and bring the
countenances of the motley groups so close as almost, at times, to make
me think I could divine their conversation by the play and expression of
their features. I was thus, in a manner, an invisible observer, and,
without quitting my solitude, could throw myself in an instant into the
midst of society,--a rare advantage to one of somewhat shy and quiet
habits, and fond, like myself, of observing the drama of life without
becoming an actor in the scene.

There was a considerable suburb lying below the Alhambra, filling the
narrow gorge of the valley, and extending up the opposite hill of the
Albaycin. Many of the houses were built in the Moorish style, round
patios, or courts, cooled by fountains and open to the sky; and as the
inhabitants passed much of their time in these courts, and on the
terraced roofs during the summer season, it follows that many a glance
at their domestic life might be obtained by an aërial spectator like
myself, who could look down on them from the clouds.

I enjoyed in some degree the advantages of the student in the famous old
Spanish story, who beheld all Madrid unroofed for his inspection; and my
gossiping squire, Mateo Ximenes, officiated occasionally as my Asmodeus,
to give me anecdotes of the different mansions and their inhabitants.

I preferred, however, to form conjectural histories for myself, and thus
would sit for hours, weaving, from casual incidents and indications
passing under my eye, a whole tissue of schemes, intrigues, and
occupations of the busy mortals below. There was scarce a pretty face or
a striking figure that I daily saw, about which I had not thus gradually
framed a dramatic story, though some of my characters would
occasionally act in direct opposition to the part assigned them, and
disconcert the whole drama. Reconnoitring one day with my glass the
streets of the Albaycin, I beheld the procession of a novice about to
take the veil; and remarked several circumstances which excited the
strongest sympathy in the fate of the youthful being thus about to be
consigned to a living tomb. I ascertained to my satisfaction that she
was beautiful, and, from the paleness of her cheek, that she was a
victim rather than a votary. She was arrayed in bridal garments, and
decked with a chaplet of white flowers, but her heart evidently revolted
at this mockery of a spiritual union, and yearned after its earthly
loves. A tall stern-looking man walked near her in the procession: it
was, of course, the tyrannical father, who, from some bigoted or sordid
motive, had compelled this sacrifice. Amid the crowd was a dark handsome
youth, in Andalusian garb, who seemed to fix on her an eye of agony. It
was doubtless the secret lover from whom she was forever to be
separated. My indignation rose as I noted the malignant expression
painted on the countenances of the attendant monks and friars. The
procession arrived at the chapel of the convent; the sun gleamed for the
last time upon the chaplet of the poor novice, as she crossed the fatal
threshold and disappeared within the building. The throng poured in with
cowl, and cross, and minstrelsy; the lover paused for a moment at the
door. I could divine the tumult of his feelings; but he mastered them,
and entered. There was a long interval. I pictured to myself the scene
passing within: the poor novice despoiled of her transient finery, and
clothed in the conventual garb; the bridal chaplet taken from her brow,
and her beautiful head shorn of its long silken tresses. I heard her
murmur the irrevocable vow. I saw her extended on a bier; the death-pall
spread over her; the funeral service performed that proclaimed her dead
to the world; her sighs were drowned in the deep tones of the organ,
and the plaintive requiem of the nuns; the father looked on, unmoved,
without a tear; the lover--no--my imagination refused to portray the
anguish of the lover--there the picture remained a blank.

After a time the throng again poured forth, and dispersed various ways,
to enjoy the light of the sun and mingle with the stirring scenes of
life; but the victim, with her bridal chaplet, was no longer there. The
door of the convent closed that severed her from the world forever. I
saw the father and the lover issue forth; they were in earnest
conversation. The latter was vehement in his gesticulations; I expected
some violent termination to my drama; but an angle of a building
interfered and closed the scene. My eye afterwards was frequently turned
to that convent with painful interest. I remarked late at night a
solitary light twinkling from a remote lattice of one of its towers.
“There,” said I, “the unhappy nun sits weeping in her cell, while
perhaps her lover paces the street below in unavailing anguish.”

--The officious Mateo interrupted my meditations and destroyed in an
instant the cobweb tissue of my fancy. With his usual zeal he had
gathered facts concerning the scene, which put my fictions all to
flight. The heroine of my romance was neither young nor handsome; she
had no lover; she had entered the convent of her own free will, as a
respectable asylum, and was one of the most cheerful residents within
its walls.

It was some little while before I could forgive the wrong done me by the
nun in being thus happy in her cell, in contradiction to all the rules
of romance; I diverted my spleen, however, by watching, for a day or
two, the pretty coquetries of a dark-eyed brunette, who, from the covert
of a balcony shrouded with flowering shrubs and a silken awning, was
carrying on a mysterious correspondence with a handsome, dark,
well-whiskered cavalier, who lurked frequently in the street beneath her
window. Sometimes I saw him at an early hour, stealing forth wrapped to
the eyes in a mantle. Sometimes he loitered at a corner, in various
disguises, apparently waiting for a private signal to slip into the
house. Then there was the tinkling of a guitar at night and a lantern
shifted from place to place in the balcony. I imagined another intrigue
like that of Almaviva, but was again disconcerted in all my
suppositions. The supposed lover turned out to be the husband of the
lady, and a noted contrabandista; and all his mysterious signs and
movements had doubtless some smuggling scheme in view.

--I occasionally amused myself with noting from this balcony the gradual
changes of the scenes below, according to the different stages of the
day.

Scarce has the gray dawn streaked the sky, and the earliest cock crowed
from the cottages of the hill-side, when the suburbs give sign of
reviving animation; for the fresh hours of dawning are precious in the
summer season in a sultry climate. All are anxious to get the start of
the sun, in the business of the day. The muleteer drives forth his
loaded train for the journey; the traveller slings his carbine behind
his saddle, and mounts his steed at the gate of the hostel; the brown
peasant from the country urges forward his loitering beasts, laden with
panniers of sunny fruit and fresh dewy vegetables, for already the
thrifty housewives are hastening to the market.

The sun is up and sparkles along the valley, tipping the transparent
foliage of the groves. The matin bells resound melodiously through the
pure bright air, announcing the hour of devotion. The muleteer halts his
burdened animals before the chapel, thrusts his staff through his belt
behind, and enters with hat in hand, smoothing his coal-black hair, to
hear a mass, and to put up a prayer for a prosperous wayfaring across
the sierra. And now steals forth on fairy foot the gentle Señora, in
trim basquiña, with restless fan in hand, and dark eye flashing from
beneath the gracefully folded mantilla; she seeks some well-frequented
church to offer up her morning orisons; but the nicely adjusted dress,
the dainty shoe and cobweb stocking, the raven tresses exquisitely
braided, the fresh-plucked rose, gleaming among them like a gem, show
that earth divides with Heaven the empire of her thoughts. Keep an eye
upon her, careful mother, or virgin aunt, or vigilant duenna, whichever
you may be, that walk behind!

As the morning advances, the din of labor augments on every side; the
streets are thronged with man, and steed, and beast of burden, and there
is a hum and murmur, like the surges of the ocean. As the sun ascends to
his meridian, the hum and bustle gradually decline; at the height of
noon there is a pause. The panting city sinks into lassitude, and for
several hours there is a general repose. The windows are closed, the
curtains drawn, the inhabitants retired into the coolest recesses of
their mansions; the full-fed monk snores in his dormitory; the brawny
porter lies stretched on the pavement beside his burden; the peasant and
the laborer sleep beneath the trees of the Alameda, lulled by the sultry
chirping of the locust. The streets are deserted, except by the
water-carrier, who refreshes the ear by proclaiming the merits of his
sparkling beverage, “colder than the mountain snow (_mas friaque la
nieve_).”

As the sun declines, there is again a gradual reviving, and when the
vesper bell rings out his sinking knell, all nature seems to rejoice
that the tyrant of the day has fallen. Now begins the bustle of
enjoyment, when the citizens pour forth to breathe the evening air, and
revel away the brief twilight in the walks and gardens of the Darro and
Xenil.

As night closes, the capricious scene assumes new features. Light after
light gradually twinkles forth; here a taper from a balconied window;
there a votive lamp before the image of a Saint. Thus, by degrees, the
city emerges from the pervading gloom, and sparkles with scattered
lights, like the starry firmament. Now break forth from court and
garden, and street and lane, the tinkling of innumerable guitars, and
the clicking of castanets; blending, at this lofty height, in a faint
but general concert. “Enjoy the moment” is the creed of the gay and
amorous Andalusian, and at no time does he practise it more zealously
than on the balmy nights of summer, wooing his mistress with the dance,
the love-ditty, and the passionate serenade.

I was one evening seated in the balcony, enjoying the light breeze that
came rustling along the side of the hill, among the tree-tops, when my
humble historiographer Mateo, who was at my elbow, pointed out a
spacious house, in an obscure street of the Albaycin, about which he
related, as nearly as I can recollect, the following anecdote.



THE ADVENTURE OF THE MASON


There was once upon a time a poor mason, or bricklayer, in Granada, who
kept all the saints’ days and holidays, and Saint Monday into the
bargain, and yet, with all his devotion, he grew poorer and poorer, and
could scarcely earn bread for his numerous family. One night he was
roused from his first sleep by a knocking at his door. He opened it, and
beheld before him a tall, meagre, cadaverous-looking priest.

“‘Hark ye, honest friend!’ said the stranger; ‘I have observed that you
are a good Christian, and one to be trusted; will you undertake a job
this very night?’

“‘With all my heart, Señor Padre, on condition that I am paid
accordingly.’

“‘That you shall be; but you must suffer yourself to be blindfolded.’

“To this the mason made no objection. So, being hoodwinked, he was led
by the priest through various rough lanes and winding passages, until
they stopped before the portal of a house. The priest then applied a
key, turned a creaking lock, and opened what sounded like a ponderous
door. They entered, the door was closed and bolted, and the mason was
conducted through an echoing corridor and a spacious hall to an interior
part of the building. Here the bandage was removed from his eyes, and he
found himself in a patio, or court, dimly lighted by a single lamp. In
the centre was the dry basin of an old Moorish fountain, under which the
priest requested him to form a small vault, bricks and mortar being at
hand for the purpose. He accordingly worked all night, but without
finishing the job. Just before daybreak the priest put a piece of gold
into his hand, and having again blindfolded him, conducted him back to
his dwelling.

“‘Are you willing,’ said he, ‘to return and complete your work?’

“‘Gladly, Señor Padre, provided I am so well paid.’

“‘Well, then, to-morrow at midnight I will call again.’

“He did so, and the vault was completed.

“‘Now,’ said the priest, ‘you must help me to bring forth the bodies
that are to be buried in this vault.’

“The poor mason’s hair rose on his head at these words: he followed the
priest, with trembling steps, into a retired chamber of the mansion,
expecting to behold some ghastly spectacle of death, but was relieved
on perceiving three or four portly jars standing in one corner. They
were evidently full of money, and it was with great labor that he and
the priest carried them forth and consigned them to their tomb. The
vault was then closed, the pavement replaced, and all traces of the work
were obliterated. The mason was again hoodwinked and led forth by a
route different from that by which he had come. After they had wandered
for a long time through a perplexed maze of lanes and alleys, they
halted. The priest then put two pieces of gold into his hand: ‘Wait
here,’ said he, ‘until you hear the cathedral bell toll for matins. If
you presume to uncover your eyes before that time, evil will befall
you’: so saying, he departed. The mason waited faithfully, amusing
himself by weighing the gold pieces in his hand, and clinking them
against each other. The moment the cathedral bell rang its matin peal,
he uncovered his eyes, and found himself on the banks of the Xenil;
whence he made the best of his way home, and revelled with his family
for a whole fortnight on the profits of his two nights’ work; after
which he was as poor as ever.

“He continued to work a little, and pray a good deal, and keep saints’
days and holidays, from year to year, while his family grew up as gaunt
and ragged as a crew of gypsies. As he was seated one evening at the
door of his hovel, he was accosted by a rich old curmudgeon, who was
noted for owning many houses, and being a griping landlord. The man of
money eyed him for a moment from beneath a pair of anxious shagged
eyebrows.

“‘I am told, friend, that you are very poor.’

“‘There is no denying the fact, Señor,--it speaks for itself.’

“‘I presume, then, that you will be glad of a job, and will work cheap.’

“‘As cheap, my master, as any mason in Granada.’

“‘That’s what I want. I have an old house fallen into decay, which costs
me more money than it is worth to keep it in repair, for nobody will
live in it; so I must contrive to patch it up and keep it together at as
small expense as possible.’

“The mason was accordingly conducted to a large deserted house that
seemed going to ruin. Passing through several empty halls and chambers,
he entered an inner court, where his eye was caught by an old Moorish
fountain. He paused for a moment, for a dreaming recollection of the
place came over him.

“‘Pray,’ said he, ‘who occupied this house formerly?’

“‘A pest upon him!’ cried the landlord; ‘it was an old miserly priest,
who cared for nobody but himself. He was said to be immensely rich, and,
having no relations, it was thought he would leave all his treasures to
the Church. He died suddenly, and the priests and friars thronged to
take possession of his wealth; but nothing could they find but a few
ducats in a leathern purse. The worst luck has fallen on me, for, since
his death, the old fellow continues to occupy my house without paying
rent, and there is no taking the law of a dead man. The people pretend
to hear the clinking of gold all night in the chamber where the old
priest slept, as if he were counting over his money, and sometimes a
groaning and moaning about the court. Whether true or false, these
stories have brought a bad name on my house, and not a tenant will
remain in it.’

“‘Enough,’ said the mason sturdily: ‘let me live in your house rent-free
until some better tenant present, and I will engage to put it in repair,
and to quiet the troubled spirit that disturbs it. I am a good Christian
and a poor man, and am not to be daunted by the Devil himself, even
though he should come in the shape of a big bag of money!’

“The offer of the honest mason was gladly accepted; he moved with his
family into the house, and fulfilled all his engagements. By little and
little he restored it to its former state; the clinking of gold was no
more heard at night in the chamber of the defunct priest, but began to
be heard by day in the pocket of the living mason. In a word, he
increased rapidly in wealth, to the admiration of all his neighbors, and
became one of the richest men in Granada: he gave large sums to the
Church, by way, no doubt, of satisfying his conscience, and never
revealed the secret of the vault until on his death-bed to his son and
heir.”



THE COURT OF LIONS


The peculiar charm of this old dreamy palace is its power of calling up
vague reveries and picturings of the past, and thus clothing naked
realities with the illusions of the memory and the imagination. As I
delight to walk in these “vain shadows,” I am prone to seek those parts
of the Alhambra which are most favorable to this phantasmagoria of the
mind; and none are more so than the Court of Lions, and its surrounding
halls. Here the hand of time has fallen the lightest, and the traces of
Moorish elegance and splendor exist in almost their original brilliancy.
Earthquakes have shaken the foundations of this pile, and rent its
rudest towers; yet see! not one of those slender columns has been
displaced, not an arch of that light and fragile colonnade given way,
and all the fairy fretwork of these domes, apparently as unsubstantial
as the crystal fabrics of a morning’s frost, exist after the lapse of
centuries, almost as fresh as if from the hand of the Moslem artist. I
write in the midst of these mementos of the past, in the fresh hour of
early morning, in the fated Hall of the Abencerrages. The blood-stained
fountain, the legendary monument of their massacre, is before me; the
lofty jet almost casts its dew upon my paper. How difficult to reconcile
the ancient tale of violence and blood with the gentle and peaceful
scene around! Everything here appears calculated to inspire kind and
happy feelings, for everything is delicate and beautiful. The very light
falls tenderly from above, through the lantern of a dome tinted and
wrought as if by fairy hands. Through the ample and fretted arch of the
portal I behold the Court of Lions, with brilliant sunshine gleaming
along its colonnades and sparkling in its fountains. The lively swallow
dives into the court, and, rising with a surge, darts away twittering
over the roofs; the busy bee toils humming among the flower-beds; and
painted butterflies hover from plant to plant, and flutter up and sport
with each other in the sunny air. It needs but a slight exertion of the
fancy to picture some pensive beauty of the harem, loitering in these
secluded haunts of Oriental luxury.

He, however, who would behold this scene under an aspect more in unison
with its fortunes, let him come when the shadows of evening temper the
brightness of the court, and throw a gloom into the surrounding halls.
Then nothing can be more serenely melancholy, or more in harmony with
the tale of departed grandeur.

At such times I am apt to seek the Hall of Justice, whose deep shadowy
arcades extend across the upper end of the court. Here was performed, in
presence of Ferdinand and Isabella and their triumphant court, the
pompous ceremonial of high mass, on taking possession of the Alhambra.
The very cross is still to be seen upon the wall, where the altar was
erected, and where officiated the Grand Cardinal of Spain, and others of
the highest religious dignitaries of the land. I picture to myself the
scene when this place was filled with the conquering host, that mixture
of mitred prelate and shaven monk, and steel-clad knight and silken

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN OF LIONS.]

courtier; when crosses and crosiers and religious standards were mingled
with proud armorial ensigns and the banners of the haughty chiefs of
Spain, and flaunted in triumph through these Moslem halls. I picture to
myself Columbus, the future discoverer of a world, taking his modest
stand in a remote corner, the humble and neglected spectator of the
pageant. I see in imagination the Catholic sovereigns prostrating
themselves before the altar, and pouring forth thanks for their victory;
while the vaults resound with sacred minstrelsy, and the deep-toned Te
Deum.

The transient illusion is over,--the pageant melts from the
fancy,--monarch, priest, and warrior return into oblivion with the poor
Moslems over whom they exulted. The hall of their triumph is waste and
desolate. The bat flits about its twilight vault, and the owl hoots from
the neighboring Tower of Comares.

Entering the Court of the Lions a few evenings since, I was almost
startled at beholding a turbaned Moor quietly seated near the fountain.
For a moment one of the fictions of the place seemed realized: an
enchanted Moor had broken the spell of centuries, and become visible. He
proved, however, to be a mere ordinary mortal: a native of Tetuan in
Barbary, who had a shop in the Zacatin of Granada, where he sold
rhubarb, trinkets, and perfumes. As he spoke Spanish fluently, I was
enabled to hold conversation with him, and found him shrewd and
intelligent. He told me that he came up the hill occasionally in the
summer, to pass a part of the day in the Alhambra, which reminded him of
the old palaces in Barbary, being built and adorned in similar style,
though with more magnificence.

As we walked about the palace, he pointed out several of the Arabic
inscriptions, as possessing much poetic beauty.

“Ah, Señor,” said he, “when the Moors held Granada, they were a gayer
people than they are nowadays. They thought only of love, music, and
poetry. They made stanzas upon every occasion, and set them all to
music. He who could make the best verses, and she who had the most
tuneful voice, might be sure of favor and preferment. In those days, if
any one asked for bread, the reply was, make me a couplet; and the
poorest beggar, if he begged in rhyme, would often be rewarded with a
piece of gold.”

“And is the popular feeling for poetry,” said I, “entirely lost among
you?”

“By no means, Señor; the people of Barbary, even those of the lower
classes, still make couplets, and good ones too, as in old times; but
talent is not rewarded as it was then; the rich prefer the jingle of
their gold to the sound of poetry or music.”

As he was talking, his eye caught one of the inscriptions which foretold
perpetuity to the power and glory of the Moslem monarchs, the masters of
this pile. He shook his head, and shrugged his shoulders, as he
interpreted it. “Such might have been the case,” said he; “the Moslems
might still have been reigning in the Alhambra, had not Boabdil been a
traitor, and given up his capital to the Christians. The Spanish
monarchs would never have been able to conquer it by open force.”

I endeavored to vindicate the memory of the unlucky Boabdil from this
aspersion, and to show that the dissensions which led to the downfall of
the Moorish throne originated in the cruelty of his tiger-hearted
father; but the Moor would admit of no palliation.

“Muley Abul Hassan,” said he, “might have been cruel; but he was brave,
vigilant, and patriotic. Had he been properly seconded, Granada would
still have been ours; but his son Boabdil thwarted his plans, crippled
his power, sowed treason in his palace, and dissension in his camp. May
the curse of God light upon him for his treachery!” With these words
the Moor left the Alhambra.

The indignation of my turbaned companion agrees with an anecdote related
by a friend, who, in the course of a tour in Barbary, had an interview
with the Pacha of Tetuan. The Moorish governor was particular in his
inquiries about Spain, and especially concerning the favored region of
Andalusia, the delights of Granada, and the remains of its royal palace.
The replies awakened all those fond recollections, so deeply cherished
by the Moors, of the power and splendor of their ancient empire in
Spain. Turning to his Moslem attendants, the Pacha stroked his beard,
and broke forth in passionate lamentations, that such a sceptre should
have fallen from the sway of true believers. He consoled himself,
however, with the persuasion, that the power and prosperity of the
Spanish nation were on the decline; that a time would come when the
Moors would conquer their rightful domains; and that the day was perhaps
not far distant when Mohammedan worship would again be offered up in the
Mosque of Cordova, and a Mohammedan prince sit on his throne in the
Alhambra.

Such is the general aspiration and belief among the Moors of Barbary;
who consider Spain, or Andaluz, as it was anciently called, their
rightful heritage, of which they have been despoiled by treachery and
violence. These ideas are fostered and perpetuated by the descendants of
the exiled Moors of Granada, scattered among the cities of Barbary.
Several of these reside in Tetuan, preserving their ancient names, such
as Paez and Medina, and refraining from inter-marriage with any families
who cannot claim the same high origin. Their vaunted lineage is regarded
with a degree of popular deference rarely shown in Mohammedan
communities to any hereditary distinction, excepting in the royal line.

These families, it is said, continue to sigh after the terrestrial
paradise of their ancestors, and to put up prayers in their mosques on
Fridays, imploring Allah to hasten the time when Granada shall be
restored to the faithful: an event to which they look forward as fondly
and confidently as did the Christian crusaders to the recovery of the
Holy Sepulchre. Nay, it is added, that some of them retain the ancient
maps and deeds of the estates and gardens of their ancestors at Granada,
and even the keys of the houses; holding them as evidences of their
hereditary claims, to be produced at the anticipated day of restoration.

My conversation with the Moors set me to musing on the fate of Boabdil.
Never was surname more applicable than that bestowed upon him by his
subjects of el Zogoybi, or the Unlucky. His misfortunes began almost in
his cradle, and ceased not even with his death. If ever he cherished the
desire of leaving an honorable name on the historic page, how cruelly
has he been defrauded of his hopes! Who is there that has turned the
least attention to the romantic history of the Moorish domination in
Spain, without kindling with indignation at the alleged atrocities of
Boabdil? Who has not been touched with the woes of his lovely and gentle
queen, subjected by him to a trial of life and death, on a false charge
of infidelity? Who has not been shocked by his alleged murder of his
sister and her two children, in a transport of passion? Who has not felt
his blood boil at the inhuman massacre of the gallant Abencerrages,
thirty-six of whom, it is affirmed, he ordered to be beheaded in the
Court of Lions? All these charges have been reiterated in various forms;
they have passed into ballads, dramas, and romances, until they have
taken too thorough possession of the public mind to be eradicated. There
is not a foreigner of education that visits the Alhambra, but asks for
the fountain where the Abencerrages were beheaded; and gazes with
horror at the grated gallery where the queen is said to have been
confined; not a peasant of the Vega or the Sierra, but sings the story
in rude couplets, to the accompaniment of his guitar, while his hearers
learn to execrate the very name of Boabdil.

Never, however, was name more foully and unjustly slandered. I have
examined all the authentic chronicles and letters written by Spanish
authors, contemporary with Boabdil; some of whom were in the confidence
of the Catholic sovereigns, and actually present in the camp throughout
the war. I have examined all the Arabian authorities I could get access
to, through the medium of translation, and have found nothing to justify
these dark and hateful accusations. The most of these tales may be
traced to a work commonly called “The Civil Wars of Granada,” containing
a pretended history of the feuds of the Zegries and Abencerrages, during
the last struggle of the Moorish empire. The work appeared originally in
Spanish, and professed to be translated from the Arabic by one Gines
Perez de Hita, an inhabitant of Murcia. It has since passed into various
languages, and Florian has taken from it much of the fable of his
Gonsalvo of Cordova: it has thus, in a great measure, usurped the
authority of real history, and is currently believed by the people, and
especially the peasantry of Granada. The whole of it, however, is a mass
of fiction, mingled with a few disfigured truths, which give it an air
of veracity. It bears internal evidence of its falsity; the manners and
customs of the Moors being extravagantly misrepresented in it, and
scenes depicted totally incompatible with their habits and their faith,
and which never could have been recorded by a Mahometan writer.

I confess there seems to me something almost criminal in the wilful
perversions of this work; great latitude is undoubtedly to be allowed to
romantic fiction, but there are limits which it must not pass; and the
names of the distinguished dead, which belong to history, are no more to
be calumniated than those of the illustrious living. One would have
thought, too, that the unfortunate Boabdil had suffered enough for his
justifiable hostility to the Spaniards, by being stripped of his
kingdom, without having his name thus wantonly traduced, and rendered a
by-word and a theme of infamy in his native land, and in the very
mansion of his fathers!

If the reader is sufficiently interested in these questions to tolerate
a little historical detail, the following facts, gleaned from what
appear to be authentic sources, and tracing the fortunes of the
Abencerrages, may serve to exculpate the unfortunate Boabdil from the
perfidious massacre of that illustrious line so shamelessly charged to
him. It will also serve to throw a proper light upon the alleged
accusation and imprisonment of his queen.



THE ABENCERRAGES


A grand line of distinction existed among the Moslems of Spain, between
those of Oriental origin and those from Western Africa. Among the former
the Arabs considered themselves the purest race, as being descended from
the countrymen of the Prophet, who first raised the standard of Islam;
among the latter, the most warlike and powerful were the Berber tribes
from Mount Atlas and the deserts of Sahara, commonly known as Moors, who
subdued the tribes of the seacoast, founded the city of Morocco, and for
a long time disputed with the Oriental races the control of Moslem
Spain.

Among the Oriental races the Abencerrages held a distinguished rank,
priding themselves on a pure Arab descent from the Beni Seraj, one of
the tribes who were Ansares or Companions of the Prophet. The
Abencerrages flourished for a time at Cordova; but probably repaired to
Granada after the downfall of the Western Caliphat; it was there they
attained their historical and romantic celebrity, being foremost among
the splendid chivalry which graced the court of the Alhambra.

Their highest and most dangerous prosperity was during the precarious
reign of Muhamed Nasar, surnamed El Hayzari, or the Left-handed. That
ill-starred monarch, when he ascended the throne in 1423, lavished his
favors upon this gallant line, making the head of the tribe, Jusef Aben
Zeragh, his vizier, or prime minister, and advancing his relatives and
friends to the most distinguished posts about the court. This gave great
offence to other tribes, and caused intrigues among their chiefs.
Muhamed lost popularity also by his manners. He was vain, inconsiderate,
and haughty; disdained to mingle among his subjects; forbade those
jousts and tournaments, the delight of high and low, and passed his time
in the luxurious retirement of the Alhambra. The consequence was a
popular insurrection: the palace was stormed; the king escaped through
the gardens, fled to the sea-coast, crossed in disguise to Africa, and
took refuge with his kinsman, the sovereign of Tunis.

Muhamed el Zaguer, cousin of the fugitive monarch, took possession of
the vacant throne. He pursued a different course from his predecessor.
He not only gave fêtes and tourneys, but entered the lists himself, in
grand and sumptuous array; he distinguished himself in managing his
horse, in tilting, riding at the ring, and other chivalrous exercises;
feasted with his cavaliers, and made them magnificent presents.

Those who had been in favor with his predecessor, now experienced a
reverse; he manifested such hostility to them that more than five
hundred of the principal cavaliers left the city. Jusef Aben Zeragh,
with forty of the Abencerrages, abandoned Granada in the night, and
sought the court of Juan the king of Castile. Moved by their
representations, that young and generous monarch wrote letters to the
sovereign of Tunis, inviting him to assist in punishing the usurper and
restoring the exiled king to his throne. The faithful and indefatigable
vizier accompanied the bearer of these letters to Tunis, where he
rejoined his exiled sovereign. The letters were successful. Muhamed el
Hayzari landed in Andalusia with five hundred African horse, and was
joined by the Abencerrages and others of his adherents and by his
Christian allies; wherever he appeared the people submitted to him;
troops sent against him deserted to his standard; Granada was recovered
without a blow; the usurper retreated to the Alhambra, but was beheaded
by his own soldiers (1428), after reigning between two and three years.

El Hayzari, once more on the throne, heaped honors on the loyal vizier,
through whose faithful services he had been restored, and once more the
line of the Abencerrages basked in the sunshine of royal favor. El
Hayzari sent ambassadors to King Juan, thanking him for his aid, and
proposing a perpetual league of amity. The king of Castile required
homage and yearly tribute. These the left-handed monarch refused,
supposing the youthful king too much engaged in civil war to enforce his
claims. Again the kingdom of Granada was harassed by invasions, and its
Vega laid waste. Various battles took place with various success. But El
Hayzari’s greatest danger was near at home. There was at that time in
Granada a cavalier, Don Pedro Venegas by name, a Moslem by faith, but
Christian by descent, whose early history borders on romance. He was of
the noble house of Luque, but captured when a child, eight years of age,
by Cid Yahia Alnayar, prince of Almeria,[8] who adopted him as his son,
educated him in the Moslem faith, and brought him up among his children,
the Celtimerian princes, a proud family, descended in direct line from
Aben Hud, one of the early Granadian kings. A mutual attachment sprang
up between Don Pedro and the princess Cetimerien, a daughter of Cid
Yahia, famous for her beauty, and whose name is perpetuated by the ruins
of her palace in Granada--still bearing traces of Moorish elegance and
luxury. In process of time they were married; and thus a scion of the
Spanish house of Luque became engrafted on the royal stock of Aben Hud.

Such is the early story of Don Pedro Venegas, who at the time of which
we treat was a man mature in years, and of an active, ambitious spirit.
He appears to have been the soul of a conspiracy set on foot about this
time, to topple Muhamed the Left-handed from his unsteady throne, and
elevate in his place Yusef Aben Alhamar, the eldest of the Celtimerian
princes. The aid of the king of Castile was to be secured, and Don Pedro
proceeded on a secret embassy to Cordova for the purpose. He informed
King Juan of the extent of the conspiracy; that Yusef Aben Alhamar could
bring a large force to his standard as soon as he should appear in the
Vega, and would acknowledge himself his vassal, if with his aid he
should attain the crown. The aid was promised and Don Pedro hastened
back to Granada with the tidings. The conspirators now left the city, a
few at a time, under various pretexts; and when King Juan passed the
frontier, Yusef Aben Alhamar brought eight thousand men to his standard,
and kissed his hand in token of allegiance.

It is needless to recount the various battles by which the kingdom was
desolated, and the various intrigues by which one half of it was roused
to rebellion. The Abencerrages stood by the failing fortunes of Muhamed
throughout the struggle; their last stand was at Loxa, where their
chief, the vizier Yusef Aben Zeragh, fell bravely fighting, and many of
their noblest cavaliers were slain: in fact, in that disastrous war the
fortunes of the family were nearly wrecked.

Again the ill-starred Muhamed was driven from his throne, and took
refuge in Malaga, the alcayde of which still remained true to him.

Yusef Aben Alhamar, commonly known as Yusef II., entered Granada in
triumph on the first of January, 1432, but he found it a melancholy
city, where half of the inhabitants were in mourning. Not a noble family
but had lost some member; and in the slaughter of the Abencerrages at
Loxa had fallen some of the brightest of the chivalry.

The royal pageant passed through silent streets, and the barren homage
of a court in the halls of the Alhambra ill supplied the want of sincere
and popular devotion. Yusef Aben Alhamar felt the insecurity of his
position. The deposed monarch was at hand in Malaga; the sovereign of
Tunis espoused his cause, and pleaded with the Christian monarchs in his
favor; above all, Yusef felt his own unpopularity in Granada; previous
fatigues had impaired his health, a profound melancholy settled upon
him, and in the course of six months he sank into the grave.

At the news of his death, Muhamed the Left-handed hastened from Malaga,
and again was placed on the throne. From the wrecks of the Abencerrages
he chose as vizier Abdelbar, one of the worthiest of that magnanimous
line. Through his advice he restrained his vindictive feelings and
adopted a conciliatory policy. He pardoned most of his enemies. Yusef,
the defunct usurper, had left three children. His estates were
apportioned among them. Aben Celim, the eldest son, was confirmed in
the title of Prince of Almeria and Lord of Marchena in the Alpuxarras.
Ahmed, the youngest, was made Señor of Luchar; and Equivila, the
daughter, received rich patrimonial lands in the fertile Vega, and
various houses and shops in the Zacatin of Granada. The vizier Abdelbar
counselled the king, moreover, to secure the adherence of the family by
matrimonial connections. An aunt of Muhamed was accordingly given in
marriage to Aben Celim, while the prince Nasar, younger brother of the
deceased usurper, received the hand of the beautiful Lindaraxa, daughter
of Muhamed’s faithful adherent, the alcayde of Malaga. This was the
Lindaraxa whose name still designates one of the gardens of the
Alhambra.

Don Pedro de Venegas alone, the husband of the princess Cetimerien,
received no favor. He was considered as having produced the late
troubles by his intrigues. The Abencerrages charged him with the
reverses of their family and the deaths of so many of their bravest
cavaliers. The king never spoke of him but by the opprobrious
appellation of the Tornadizo, or Renegade. Finding himself in danger of
arrest and punishment, he took leave of his wife, the princess, his two
sons, Abul Cacim and Reduan, and his daughter, Cetimerien, and fled to
Jaen. There, like his brother-in-law, the usurper, he expiated his
intrigues and irregular ambition by profound humiliation and melancholy,
and died in 1434 a penitent, because a disappointed man.[9]

Muhamed el Hayzari was doomed to further reverses. He had two nephews,
Aben Osmyn, surnamed el Anaf, or the Lame, and Aben Ismael. The former,
who was of an ambitious spirit, resided in Almeria; the latter in
Granada, where he had many friends. He was on the point of espousing a
beautiful girl, when his royal uncle interfered and gave her to one of
his favorites. Enraged at this despotic act, the prince Aben Ismael took
horse and weapons and sallied from Granada for the frontier, followed by
numerous cavaliers. The affair gave general disgust, especially to the
Abencerrages who were attached to the prince. No sooner did tidings
reach Aben Osmyn of the public discontent than his ambition was aroused.
Throwing himself suddenly into Granada, he raised a popular tumult,
surprised his uncle in the Alhambra, compelled him to abdicate, and
proclaimed himself king. This occurred in September, 1445. The
Abencerrages now gave up the fortunes of the left-handed king as
hopeless, and himself as incompetent to rule. Led by their kinsman, the
vizier Abdelbar, and accompanied by many other cavaliers, they abandoned
the court and took post in Montefrio. Thence Abdelbar wrote to Prince
Aben Ismael, who had taken refuge in Castile, inviting him to the camp,
offering to support his pretensions to the throne, and advising him to
leave Castile secretly, lest his departure should be opposed by King
Juan II. The prince, however, confiding in the generosity of the
Castilian monarch, told frankly the whole matter. He was not mistaken.
King Juan not merely gave him permission to depart, but promised him
aid, and gave him letters to that effect to his commanders on the
frontiers. Aben Ismael departed with a brilliant escort, arrived in
safety at Montefrio, and was proclaimed king of Granada by Abdelbar and
his partisans, the most important of whom were the Abencerrages. A long
course of civil wars ensued between the two cousins, rivals for the
throne. Aben Osmyn was aided by the kings of Navarre and Aragon, while
Juan II., at war with his rebellious subjects, could give little
assistance to Aben Ismael.

Thus for several years the country was torn by internal strife and
desolated by foreign inroads, so that scarce a field but was stained
with blood. Aben Osmyn was brave, and often signalized himself in arms;
but he was cruel and despotic, and ruled with an iron hand. He offended
the nobles by his caprices, and the populace by his tyranny, while his
rival cousin conciliated all hearts of his benignity. Hence there were
continual desertions from Granada to the fortified camp at Montefrio,
and the party of Aben Ismael was constantly gaining strength. At length
the king of Castile, having made peace with the kings of Aragon and
Navarre, was enabled to send a choice body of troops to the assistance
of Aben Ismael. The latter now left his trenches in Montefrio, and took
the field. The combined forces marched upon Granada. Aben Osmyn sallied
forth to the encounter. A bloody battle ensued, in which both of the
rival cousins fought with heroic valor. Aben Osmyn was defeated and
driven back to his gates. He summoned the inhabitants to arms, but few
answered to his call; his cruelty had alienated all hearts. Seeing his
fortunes at an end, he determined to close his career by a signal act of
vengeance. Shutting himself up in the Alhambra, he summoned thither a
number of the principal cavaliers whom he suspected of disloyalty. As
they entered, they were one by one put to death. This is supposed by
some to be the massacre which gave its fatal name to the Hall of the
Abencerrages. Having perpetrated this atrocious act of vengeance, and
hearing by the shouts of the populace that Aben Ismael was already
proclaimed king in the city, he escaped with his satellites by the Cerro
del Sol and the valley of the Darro to the Alpuxarra Mountains; where he
and his followers led a kind of robber life, laying villages and roads
under contribution.

Aben Ismael II., who thus attained the throne in 1454, secured the
friendship of King Juan II. by acts of homage and magnificent presents.
He gave liberal rewards to those who had been faithful to him, and
consoled the families of those who had fallen in his cause. During his
reign, the Abencerrages were again among the most favored of the
brilliant chivalry that graced his court. Aben Ismael, however, was not
of a warlike spirit; his reign was distinguished rather by works of
public utility, the ruins of some of which are still to be seen on the
Cerro del Sol.

In the same year of 1454 Juan II. died, and was succeeded by Henry IV.
of Castile, surnamed the Impotent. Aben Ismael neglected to renew the
league of amity with him which had existed with his predecessor, as he
found it to be unpopular with the people of Granada. King Henry resented
the omissions, and, under pretext of arrears of tribute, made repeated
forays into the kingdom of Granada. He gave countenance also to Aben
Osmyn and his robber hordes, and took some of them into pay; but his
proud cavaliers refused to associate with infidel outlaws, and
determined to seize Aben Osmyn; who, however, made his escape, first to
Seville, and thence to Castile.

In the year 1456, on the occasion of a great foray into the Vega by the
Christians, Aben Ismael, to secure a peace, agreed to pay the king of
Castile a certain tribute annually, and at the same time to liberate six
hundred Christian captives; or, should the number of captives fall
short, to make it up in Moorish hostages. Aben Ismael fulfilled the
rigorous terms of the treaty, and reigned for a number of years with
more tranquillity than usually fell to the lot of the monarchs of that
belligerent kingdom. Granada enjoyed a great state of prosperity during
his reign, and was the seat of festivity and splendor. His sultana was a
daughter of Cid Hiaya Abraham Alnayar, prince of Almeria; and he had by
her two sons, Abul Hassan, and Abi Abdallah, surnamed El Zagal, the
father and uncle of Boabdil. We approach now the eventful period
signalized by the conquest of Granada.

Muley Abul Hassan succeeded to the throne on the death of his father in
1465. One of his first acts was to refuse payment of the degrading
tribute exacted by the Castilian monarch. His refusal was one of the
causes of the subsequent disastrous war. I confine myself, however, to
facts connected with the fortunes of the Abencerrages and the charges
advanced against Boabdil.

The reader will recollect that Don Pedro Venegas, surnamed El Tornadizo,
when he fled from Granada in 1433, left behind him two sons, Abul Cacim
and Reduan, and a daughter, Cetimerien. They always enjoyed a
distinguished rank in Granada, from their royal descent by the mother’s
side, and from being connected, through the princes of Almeria, with the
last and the present king. The sons had distinguished themselves by
their talents and bravery, and the daughter Cetimerien was married to
Cid Hiaya, grandson of King Yusef and brother-in-law of El Zagal. Thus
powerfully connected, it is not surprising to find Abul Cacim Venegas
advanced to the post of vizier of Muley Abul Hassan, and Reduan Venegas
one of his most favored generals. Their rise was regarded with an evil
eye by the Abencerrages, who remembered the disasters brought upon their
family, and the deaths of so many of their line, in the war fomented by
the intrigues of Don Pedro, in the days of Yusef Aben Alhamar. A feud
had existed ever since between the Abencerrages and the house of
Venegas. It was soon to be aggravated by a formidable schism which took
place in the royal harem.

Muley Abul Hassan, in his youthful days, had married his cousin, the
Princess Ayxa la Horra, daughter of his uncle, the ill-starred sultan,
Muhamed the Left-handed;[10] by her he had two sons, the eldest of whom
was Boabdil, heir presumptive to the throne. Unfortunately at an
advanced age he took another wife, Isabella de Solis, a young and
beautiful Christian captive, better known by her Moorish appellation of
Zoraya; by her he had also two sons. Two factions were produced in the
palace by the rivalry of the sultanas, who were each anxious to secure
for their children the succession to the throne. Zoraya was supported by
the vizier Abul Cacim Venegas, his brother Reduan Venegas, and their
numerous connections, partly through sympathy with her as being, like
themselves, of Christian lineage, and partly because they saw she was
the favorite of the doting monarch.

The Abencerrages, on the contrary, rallied round the sultana Ayxa;
partly through hereditary opposition to the family of Venegas, but
chiefly, no doubt, through a strong feeling of loyalty to her as
daughter of Muhamed Alhayzari, the ancient benefactor of their line.

The dissensions of the palace went on increasing. Intrigues of all kinds
took place, as is usual in royal palaces. Suspicions were artfully
instilled in the mind of Muley Abul Hassan that Ayxa was engaged in a
plot to depose him and put her son Boabdil on the throne. In his first
transports of rage he confined them both in the Tower of Comares,
threatening the life of Boabdil. At dead of night the anxious mother
lowered her son from a window of the tower by the scarfs of herself and
her female attendants; and some of her adherents, who were in waiting
with swift horses, bore him away to the Alpuxarras. It is this
imprisonment of the sultana Ayxa which possibly gave rise to the fable
of the queen of Boabdil being confined by him in a tower to be tried for
her life. No other shadow of a ground exists for it, and here we find
the tyrant jailer was his father, and the captive sultana his mother.

The massacre of the Abencerrages in the halls of the Alhambra is placed
by some about this time, and attributed also to Muley Abul Hassan, on
suspicion of their being concerned in the conspiracy. The sacrifice of a
number of the cavaliers of that line is said to have been suggested by
the vizier Abul Cacim Venegas, as a means of striking terror into the
rest.[11] If such were really the case, the barbarous measure proved
abortive. The Abencerrages continued intrepid, as they were loyal, in
their adherence to the cause of Ayxa and her son Boabdil, throughout the
war which ensued, while the Venegas were ever foremost in the ranks of
Muley Abul Hassan and El Zagal. The ultimate fortunes of these rival
families is worthy of note. The Venegas, in the last struggle of
Granada, were among those who submitted to the conquerors, renounced the
Moslem creed, returned to the faith from which their ancestor had
apostatized, were rewarded with offices and estates, intermarried with
Spanish families, and have left posterity among the nobles of the land.
The Abencerrages remained true to their faith, true to their king, true
to their desperate cause, and went down with the foundering wreck of
Moslem domination, leaving nothing behind them but a gallant and
romantic name in history.

In this historical outline, I trust I have shown enough to put the fable
concerning Boabdil and the Abencerrages in a true light. The story of
the accusation of his queen, and his cruelty to his sister, are equally
void of foundation. In his domestic relations he appears to have been
kind and affectionate. History gives him but one wife, Morayma, the
daughter of the veteran alcayde of Loxa, old Aliatar, famous in song and
story for his exploits in border warfare; and who fell in that
disastrous foray into the Christian lands in which Boabdil was taken
prisoner. Morayma was true to Boabdil throughout all his vicissitudes.
When he was dethroned by the Castilian monarchs, she retired with him to
the petty domain allotted him in the valleys of the Alpuxarras. It was
only when (dispossessed of this by the jealous precautions and subtle
chicanery of Ferdinand, and elbowed, as it were, out of his native land)
he was preparing to embark for Africa, that her health and spirits,
exhausted by anxiety and long suffering, gave way, and she fell into a
lingering illness aggravated by corroding melancholy. Boabdil was
constant and affectionate to her to the last; the sailing of the ships
was delayed for several weeks, to the great annoyance of the suspicious
Ferdinand. At length Morayma sank into the grave, evidently the victim
of a broken heart, and the event was reported to Ferdinand by his agent
as one propitious to his purposes, removing the only obstacle to the
embarkation of Boabdil.[12]



MEMENTOS OF BOABDIL


While my mind was still warm with the subject of the unfortunate
Boabdil, I set forth to trace the mementos of him still existing in this
scene of his sovereignty and misfortunes. In the Tower of Comares,
immediately under the Hall of Ambassadors, are two vaulted rooms,
separated by a narrow passage; these are said to have been the prisons
of himself and his mother, the virtuous Ayxa la Horra; indeed, no other
part of the tower would have served for the purpose. The external walls
of these chambers are of prodigious thickness, pierced with small
windows secured by iron bars. A narrow stone gallery, with a low
parapet, extends along three sides of the tower just below the windows,
but at a considerable height from the ground. From this gallery, it is
presumed, the queen lowered her son with the scarfs of herself and her
female attendants during the darkness of the night to the hillside,
where some of his faithful adherents waited with fleet steeds to bear
him to the mountains.

Between three and four hundred years have elapsed, yet this scene of the
drama remains almost unchanged. As I paced the gallery, my imagination
pictured the anxious queen leaning over the parapet, listening, with the
throbbings of a mother’s heart, to the last echoes of the horses’ hoofs
as her son scoured along the narrow valley of the Darro.

I next sought the gate by which Boabdil made his last exit from the
Alhambra, when about to surrender his capital and kingdom. With the
melancholy caprice of a broken spirit, or perhaps with some
superstitious feeling, he requested of the Catholic monarchs that no one
afterwards might be permitted to pass through it. His prayer, according
to ancient chronicles, was complied with, through the sympathy of
Isabella, and the gate was walled up.[13]

I inquired for some time in vain for such a portal; at length my humble
attendant, Mateo Ximenes, said it must be one closed up with stones,
which, according to what he had heard from his father and grandfather,
was the gateway by which King Chico had left the fortress. There was a
mystery about it, and it had never been opened within the memory of the
oldest inhabitant.

He conducted me to the spot. The gateway is in the centre of what was
once an immense pile, called the Tower of the Seven Floors (_la Torre de
los siete suelos_). It is famous in the neighborhood as the scene of
strange apparitions and Moorish enchantments. According to Swinburne the
traveller, it was originally the great gate of entrance. The antiquaries
of Granada pronounce it the entrance to that quarter of the royal
residence where the king’s body-guards were stationed. It therefore
might well form an immediate entrance and exit to the palace; while the
grand Gate of Justice served as the entrance of state to the fortress.
When Boabdil sallied by this gate to descend to the Vega, where he was
to surrender the keys of the city to the Spanish sovereigns, he left his
vizier Aben Comixa to receive, at the Gate of Justice, the detachment
from the Christian army and the officers to whom the fortress was to be
given up.[14]

The once redoubtable Tower of the Seven Floors is now a mere wreck,
having been blown up with gunpowder by the French, when they abandoned
the fortress. Great masses of the wall lie scattered about, buried in
luxuriant herbage, or overshadowed by vines and fig-trees. The arch of
the gateway, though rent by the shock, still remains; but the last wish
of poor Boabdil has again, though unintentionally, been fulfilled, for
the portal has been closed up by loose stones gathered from the ruins,
and remains impassable.

Mounting my horse, I followed up the route of the Moslem monarch from
this place of his exit. Crossing the hill of Los Martyros, and keeping
along the garden-wall of a convent bearing the same name, I descended a
rugged ravine beset by thickets of aloes and Indian figs, and lined with
caves and hovels swarming with gypsies. The descent was so steep and
broken that I was fain to alight and lead my horse. By this _via
dolorosa_ poor Boabdil took his sad departure to avoid passing through
the city; partly, perhaps, through unwillingness that its inhabitants
should behold his humiliation; but chiefly, in all probability, lest it
might cause some popular agitation. For the last reason, undoubtedly,
the detachment sent to take possession of the fortress ascended by the
same route.

Emerging from this rough ravine, so full of melancholy associations, and
passing by the _puerta de los molinos_ (the gate of the mills), I issued
forth upon the public promenade called the Prado; and pursuing the
course of the Xenil, arrived at a small chapel, once a mosque, now the
Hermitage of San Sebastian. Here, according to tradition, Boabdil
surrendered the keys of Granada to King Ferdinand. I rode slowly thence
across the Vega to a village where the family and household of the
unhappy king awaited him, for he had sent them forward on the preceding
night from the Alhambra, that his mother and wife might not participate
in his personal humiliation, or be exposed to the gaze of the
conquerors. Following on in the route of the melancholy band of royal
exiles, I arrived at the foot of a chain of barren and dreary heights,
forming the skirt of the Alpuxarra Mountains. From the summit of one of
these the unfortunate Boabdil took his last look at Granada; it bears a
name expressive of his sorrows, _La Cuesta de las Lagrimas_ (the hill of
tears). Beyond it, a sandy road winds across a rugged cheerless waste,
doubly dismal to the unhappy monarch, as it led to exile.

I spurred my horse to the summit of a rock, where Boabdil uttered his
last sorrowful exclamation, as he turned his eyes from taking their
farewell gaze: it is still denominated _el ultimo suspiro del Moro_ (the
last sigh of the Moor). Who can wonder at his anguish at being expelled
from such a kingdom and such an abode? With the Alhambra he seemed to be
yielding up all the honors of his line, and all the glories and delights
of life.

It was here, too, that his affliction was embittered by the reproach of
his mother, Ayxa, who had so often assisted him in times of peril, and
had vainly sought to instil into him her own resolute spirit. “You do
well,” said she, “to weep as a woman over what you could not defend as a
man”; a speech savoring more of the pride of the princess than the
tenderness of the mother.

When this anecdote was related to Charles V., by Bishop Guevara, the
emperor joined in the expression of scorn at the weakness of the
wavering Boabdil. “Had I been he, or he been I,” said the haughty
potentate, “I would rather have made this Alhambra my sepulchre than
have lived without a kingdom in the Alpuxarra.” How easy it is for those
in power and prosperity to preach heroism to the vanquished! how little
can they understand that life itself may rise in value with the
unfortunate, when naught but life remains!

Slowly descending the “Hill of Tears,” I let my horse take his own
loitering gait back to Granada, while I turned the story of the
unfortunate Boabdil over in my mind. In summing up the particulars, I
found the balance inclining in his favor. Throughout the whole of his
brief, turbulent, and disastrous reign, he gives evidence of a mild and
amiable character. He, in the first instance, won the hearts of his
people by his affable and gracious manners; he was always placable, and
never inflicted any severity of punishment upon those who occasionally
rebelled against him. He was personally brave; but wanted moral
courage; and, in times of difficulty and perplexity, was wavering and
irresolute. This feebleness of spirit hastened his downfall, while it
deprived him of that heroic grace which would have given grandeur and
dignity to his fate, and rendered him worthy of closing the splendid
drama of the Moslem domination in Spain.



PUBLIC FÊTES OF GRANADA


My devoted squire and whilom ragged cicerone Mateo Ximenes had a
poor-devil passion for fêtes and holidays, and was never so eloquent as
when detailing the civil and religious festivals at Granada. During the
preparations for the annual Catholic fête of Corpus Christi, he was in a
state of incessant transition between the Alhambra and the subjacent
city, bringing me daily accounts of the magnificent arrangements that
were in progress, and endeavoring, but in vain, to lure me down from my
cool and airy retreat to witness them. At length, on the eve of the
eventful day, I yielded to his solicitations and descended from the
regal halls of the Alhambra under his escort, as did of yore the
adventure-seeking Haroun Alraschid under that of his Grand Vizier
Giaffar. Though it was yet scarce sunset, the city gates were already
thronged with the picturesque villagers of the mountains, and the brown
peasantry of the Vega. Granada has ever been the rallying-place of a
great mountainous region, studded with towns and villages. Hither,
during the Moorish domination, the chivalry of this region repaired, to
join in the splendid and semi-warlike fêtes of the Vivarrambla, and
hither the élite of its population still resort to join in the pompous
ceremonials of the Church. Indeed, many of the mountaineers from the
Alpuxarras and the Sierra de Ronda, who now bow to the cross as zealous
Catholics, bear the stamp of their Moorish origin, and are indubitable
descendants of the fickle subjects of Boabdil.

Under the guidance of Mateo, I made my way through streets already
teeming with a holiday population, to the square of the Vivarrambla,
that great place for tilts and tourneys so often sung in the Moorish
ballads of love and chivalry. A gallery or arcade of wood had been
erected along the sides of the square, for the grand religious
procession of the following day. This was brilliantly illuminated for
the evening as a promenade; and bands of music were stationed on
balconies on each of the four façades of the square. All the fashion and
beauty of Granada, all of its population of either sex that had good
looks or fine clothes to display, thronged this arcade, promenading
round and round the Vivarrambla. Here, too, were the _Majos_ and
_Majas_, the rural beaux and belles, with fine forms, flashing eyes, and
gay Andalusian costumes; some of them from Ronda itself, that stronghold
of the mountains, famous for contrabandistas, bullfighters, and
beautiful women.

While this gay but motley throng kept up a constant circulation in the
gallery, the centre of the square was occupied by the peasantry from the
surrounding country; who made no pretensions to display, but came for
simple, hearty enjoyment. The whole square was covered with them;
forming separate groups of families and neighborhoods, like gypsy
encampments, some were listening to the traditional ballad drawled out
to the tinkling of the guitar; some were engaged in gay conversation;
some were dancing to the click of the castanet. As I threaded my way
through this teeming region with Mateo at my heels, I passed
occasionally some rustic party, seated on the ground, making a merry
though frugal repast. If they caught my eye as I loitered by, they
almost invariably invited me to partake of their simple fare. This
hospitable usage, inherited from their Moslem invaders, and originating
in the tent of the Arab, is universal throughout the land, and observed
by the poorest Spaniard.

As the night advanced, the gayety gradually died away in the arcades;
the bands of music ceased to play, and the brilliant crowd dispersed to
their homes. The centre of the square still remained well peopled, and
Mateo assured me that the greater part of the peasantry, men, women, and
children, would pass the night there, sleeping on the bare earth beneath
the open canopy of heaven. Indeed, a summer night requires no shelter in
this favored climate; and a bed is a superfluity which many of the hardy
peasantry of Spain never enjoy, and which some of them affect to
despise. The common Spaniard wraps himself in his brown cloak, stretches
himself on his manta or mule-cloth, and sleeps soundly, luxuriously
accommodated if he can have a saddle for a pillow. In a little while the
words of Mateo were made good; the peasant multitude nestled down on the
ground to their night’s repose, and by midnight the scene on the
Vivarrambla resembled the bivouac of an army.

The next morning, accompanied by Mateo, I revisited the square at
sunrise. It was still strewed with groups of sleepers: some were
reposing from the dance and revel of the evening; others, who had left
their villages after work on the preceding day, having trudged on foot
the greater part of the night, were taking a sound sleep to freshen
themselves for the festivities of the day. Numbers from the mountains,
and the remote villages of the plain, who had set out in the night,
continued to arrive with their wives and children. All were in high
spirits; greeting each other and exchanging jokes and pleasantries. The
gay tumult thickened as the day advanced. Now came pouring in at the
city gates, and parading through the streets, the deputations from the
various villages, destined to swell the grand procession. These village
deputations were headed by their priests, bearing their respective
crosses and banners, and images of the blessed Virgin and of patron
saints; all which were matters of great rivalship and jealousy among the
peasantry. It was like the chivalrous gatherings of ancient days, when
each town and village sent its chiefs, and warriors, and standards, to
defend the capital, or grace its festivities.

At length all these various detachments congregated into one grand
pageant, which slowly paraded round the Vivarrambla, and through the
principal streets, where every window and balcony was hung with
tapestry. In this procession were all the religious orders, the civil
and military authorities, and the chief people of the parishes and
villages: every church and convent had contributed its banners, its
images, its relics, and poured forth its wealth for the occasion. In the
centre of the procession walked the archbishop, under a damask canopy,
and surrounded by inferior dignitaries and their dependants. The whole
moved to the swell and cadence of numerous bands of music, and, passing
through the midst of a countless yet silent multitude, proceeded onward
to the cathedral.

I could not but be struck with the changes of times and customs, as I
saw this monkish pageant passing through the Vivarrambla, the ancient
seat of Moslem pomp and chivalry. The contrast was indeed forced upon
the mind by the decorations of the square. The whole front of the wooden
gallery erected for the procession, extending several hundred feet, was
faced with canvas, on which some humble though patriotic artist had
painted, by contract, a series of the principal scenes and exploits of
the Conquest, as recorded in chronicle and romance. It is thus the
romantic legends of Granada mingle themselves with everything, and are
kept fresh in the public mind.

As we wended our way back to the Alhambra, Mateo was in high glee and
garrulous vein. “Ah, Señor,” exclaimed he, “there is no place in all the
world like Granada for grand ceremonies (_funciones grandes_); a man
need spend nothing on pleasure here, it is all furnished him gratis.”
Pero, el dia de la Toma! Ah, Señor! el dia de la Toma! “But the day of
the Taking! ah, Señor the day of the Taking!”--that was the great day
which crowned Mateo’s notions of perfect felicity. The Dia de la Toma, I
found, was the anniversary of the capture or taking possession of
Granada by the army of Ferdinand and Isabella.

On that day, according to Mateo, the whole city is abandoned to revelry.
The great alarm-bell on the watch-tower of the Alhambra (_la Torre de la
vela_) sends forth its clanging peals from morn till night; the sound
pervades the whole Vega, and echoes along the mountains, summoning the
peasantry from far and near to the festivities of the metropolis. “Happy
the damsel,” says Mateo, “who can get a chance to ring that bell; it is
a charm to insure a husband within the year.”

Throughout the day the Alhambra is thrown open to the public. Its halls
and courts, where the Moorish monarchs once held sway, resound with the
guitar and castanet, and gay groups, in the fanciful dresses of
Andalusia, perform their traditional dances inherited from the Moors.

A grand procession, emblematic of the taking possession of the city,
moves through the principal streets. The banner of Ferdinand and
Isabella, that precious relic of the Conquest, is brought forth from its
depository, and borne in triumph by the Alferez mayor, or grand
standard-bearer. The portable camp-altar, carried about with the
sovereigns in all their campaigns, is transported into the chapel royal
of the cathedral, and placed before their sepulchre, where their
effigies lie in monumental marble. High mass is then performed in memory
of the Conquest; and at a certain part of the ceremony the Alferez mayor
puts on his hat, and waves the standard above the tomb of the
conquerors.

A more whimsical memorial of the Conquest is exhibited in the evening at
the theatre. A popular drama is performed, entitled AVE MARIA, turning
on a famous achievement of Hernando del Pulgar, surnamed “el de las
Hazañas” (he of the exploits), a madcap warrior, the favorite hero of
the populace of Granada. During the time of the siege, the young Moorish
and Spanish cavaliers vied with each other in extravagant bravadoes. On
one occasion this Hernando del Pulgar, at the head of a handful of
followers, made a dash into Granada in the dead of the night, nailed the
inscription of AVE MARIA with his dagger to the gate of the principal
mosque, a token of having consecrated it to the Virgin, and effected his
retreat in safety.[15]

While the Moorish cavaliers admired this daring exploit, they felt bound
to resent it. On the following day, therefore, Tarfé, one of the
stoutest among them, paraded in front of the Christian army, dragging
the tablet bearing the sacred inscription AVE MARIA, at his horse’s
tail. The cause of the Virgin was eagerly vindicated by Garcilaso de la
Vega, who slew the Moor in single combat, and elevated the tablet in
devotion and triumph at the end of his lance.

The drama founded on this exploit is prodigiously popular with the
common people. Although it has been acted time out of mind, it never
fails to draw crowds, who become completely lost in the delusions of
the scene. When their favorite Pulgar strides about with many a mouthy
speech, in the very midst of the Moorish capital, he is cheered with
enthusiastic bravos; and when he nails the tablet to the door of the
mosque, the theatre absolutely shakes with the thunders of applause. On
the other hand, the unlucky actors who figure in the part of the Moors,
have to bear the brunt of popular indignation; which at times equals
that of the Hero of Lamanche, at the puppet-show of Gines de Passamonte;
for, when the infidel Tarfé plucks down the tablet to tie it to his
horse’s tail, some of the audience rise in fury, and are ready to jump
upon the stage to revenge this insult to the Virgin.

By the way, the actual lineal descendant of Hernando del Pulgar was the
Marquis de Salar. As the legitimate representative of that madcap hero,
and in commemoration and reward of this hero’s exploit above mentioned,
he inherited the right to enter the cathedral on certain occasions, on
horseback; to sit within the choir, and to put on his hat at the
elevation of the host, though these privileges were often and
obstinately contested by the clergy. I met him occasionally in society;
he was young, of agreeable appearance and manners, with bright black
eyes, in which appeared to lurk some of the fire of his ancestors. Among
the paintings in the Vivarrambla, on the fête of Corpus Christi, were
some depicting, in vivid style, the exploits of the family hero. An old
gray-headed servant of the Pulgars shed tears on beholding them, and
hurried home to inform the marquis. The eager zeal and enthusiasm of the
old domestic only provoked a light laugh from his young master;
whereupon, turning to the brother of the marquis, with that freedom
allowed in Spain to old family servants, “Come, Señor,” cried he, “you
are more considerate than your brother; come and see your ancestor in
all his glory!”

In emulation of this great _Dia de la Toma_ of Granada, almost every
village and petty town of the mountains has its own anniversary,
commemorating, with rustic pomp and uncouth ceremonial, its deliverance
from the Moorish yoke. On these occasions, according to Mateo, a kind of
resurrection takes place of ancient armor and weapons; great two-handed
swords, ponderous arquebuses with matchlocks, and other warlike relics,
treasured up from generation to generation, since the time of the
Conquest; and happy the community that possesses some old piece of
ordnance, peradventure one of the identical lombards used by the
conquerors; it is kept thundering along the mountains all day long,
provided the community can afford sufficient expenditure of powder.

In the course of the day a kind of warlike drama is enacted. Some of the
populace parade the streets, fitted out with the old armor, as champions
of the faith. Others appear dressed up as Moorish warriors. A tent is
pitched in the public square, inclosing an altar with an image of the
Virgin. The Christian warriors approach to perform their devotions; the
infidels surround the tent to prevent their entrance; a mock fight
ensues; the combatants sometimes forget that they are merely playing a
part, and dry blows of grievous weight are apt to be exchanged. The
contest, however, invariably terminates in favor of the good cause. The
Moors are defeated and taken prisoners. The image of the Virgin, rescued
from thraldom, is elevated in triumph; a grand procession succeeds, in
which the conquerors figure with great applause and vainglory; while
their captives are led in chains, to the evident delight and edification
of the spectators.

These celebrations are heavy drains on the treasuries of these petty
communities, and have sometimes to be suspended for want of funds; but,
when times grow better, or sufficient money has been hoarded for the
purpose, they are resumed with new zeal and prodigality.

Mateo informed me that he had occasionally assisted at these fêtes and
taken a part in the combats; but always on the side of the true faith;
_porque Señor_, added the ragged descendant of the Cardinal Ximenes,
tapping his breast with something of an air,--“_porque Señor, soy
Christiano viejo_.”



LOCAL TRADITIONS


The common people of Spain have an Oriental passion for story-telling,
and are fond of the marvellous. They will gather round the doors of
their cottages in summer evenings, or in the great cavernous
chimney-corners of the ventas in the winter, and listen with insatiable
delight to miraculous legends of saints, perilous adventures of
travellers, and daring exploits of robbers and contrabandistas. The wild
and solitary character of the country, the imperfect diffusion of
knowledge, the scarceness of general topics of conversation, and the
romantic adventurous life that every one leads in a land where
travelling is yet in its primitive state, all contribute to cherish this
love of oral narration, and to produce a strong infusion of the
extravagant and incredible. There is no theme, however, more prevalent
and popular than that of treasures buried by the Moors; it pervades the
whole country. In traversing the wild sierras, the scenes of ancient
foray and exploit, you cannot see a Moorish atalaya, or watch-tower,
perched among the cliffs, or beetling above its rock-built village, but
your muleteer, on being closely questioned, will suspend the smoking of
his cigarillo to tell some tale of Moslem gold buried beneath its
foundations; nor is there a ruined alcazar in a city but has its golden
tradition, handed down from generation to generation among the poor
people of the neighborhood.

These, like most popular fictions, have sprung from some scanty
groundwork of fact. During the wars between Moor and Christian, which
distracted this country for centuries, towns and castles were liable
frequently and suddenly to change owners, and the inhabitants, during
sieges and assaults, were fain to bury their money and jewels in the
earth, or hide them in vaults and wells, as is often done at the present
day in the despotic and belligerent countries of the East. At the time
of the expulsion of the Moors, also, many of them concealed their most
precious effects, hoping that their exile would be but temporary, and
that they would be enabled to return and retrieve their treasures at
some future day. It is certain that from time to time hoards of gold and
silver coin have been accidentally digged up, after a lapse of
centuries, from among the ruins of Moorish fortresses and habitations;
and it requires but a few facts of the kind to give birth to a thousand
fictions.

The stories thus originating have generally something of an Oriental
tinge, and are marked with that mixture of the Arabic and the Gothic
which seems to me to characterize everything in Spain, and especially in
its southern provinces. The hidden wealth is always laid under magic
spell, and secured by charm and talisman. Sometimes it is guarded by
uncouth monsters or fiery dragons, sometimes by enchanted Moors, who sit
by it in armor, with drawn swords, but motionless as statues,
maintaining a sleepless watch for ages.

The Alhambra of course, from the peculiar circumstances of its history,
is a stronghold for popular fictions of the kind; and various relics,
digged up from time to time, have contributed to strengthen them. At one
time an earthen vessel was found containing Moorish coins and the
skeleton of a cock, which, according to the opinion of certain shrewd
inspectors, must have been buried alive. At another time a vessel was
dug up containing a great scarabæus or beetle of baked clay, covered
with Arabic inscriptions, which was pronounced a prodigious amulet of
occult virtues. In this way the wits of the ragged brood who inhabit the
Alhambra have been set wool-gathering, until there is not a hall, nor
tower, nor vault, of the old fortress, that has not been made the scene
of some marvellous tradition. Having, I trust, in the preceding papers
made the reader in some degree familiar with the localities of the
Alhambra, I shall now launch out more largely into the wonderful legends
connected with it, and which I have diligently wrought into shape and
form, from various legendary scraps and hints picked up in the course of
my perambulations,--in the same manner that an antiquary works out a
regular historical document from a few scattered letters of an almost
defaced inscription.

If anything in these legends should shock the faith of the
over-scrupulous reader, he must remember the nature of the place, and
make due allowances. He must not expect here the same laws of
probability that govern commonplace scenes and every-day life; he must
remember that he treads the halls of an enchanted palace and that all is
“haunted ground.”



THE HOUSE OF THE WEATHERCOCK


On the brow of the lofty hill of the Albaycin, the highest part of
Granada, and which rises from the narrow valley of the Darro, directly
opposite to the Alhambra, stands all that is left of what was once a
royal palace of the Moors. It has, in fact, fallen into such obscurity,
that it cost me much trouble to find it, though aided in my researches
by the sagacious and all-knowing Mateo Ximenes. This edifice has borne
for centuries the name of “The House of the Weathercock” (La casa del
Gallo de Viento), from a bronze figure on one of its turrets, in ancient
times, of a warrior on horseback, and turning with every breeze. This
weathercock was considered by the Moslems of Granada a portentous
talisman. According to some traditions, it bore the following Arabic
inscription:

    Calet el Bedici Aben Habuz,
    Quidat ehahet Lindabuz.

Which has been rendered into Spanish:

    Dice el sabio Aben Habuz,
    Que asi se defiende el Anduluz.

And into English:

    In this way, says Aben Habuz the Wise,
    Andaluz guards against surprise.

This Aben Habuz, according to some of the old Moorish chronicles, was a
captain in the invading army of Taric, one of the conquerors of Spain,
who left him as Alcayde of Granada. He is supposed to have intended this
effigy as a perpetual warning to the Moslems of Andaluz, that,
surrounded by foes, their safety depended upon their being always on
their guard and ready for the field.

Others, among whom is the Christian historian Marmol, affirms “Badis
Aben Habus” to have been a Moorish sultan of Granada, and that the
weathercock was intended as a perpetual admonition of the instability of
Moslem power, bearing the following words in Arabic:

“Thus Ibn Habus al badise predicts Andalus shall one day vanish and pass
away.”[16]

Another version of this portentous inscription is given by a Moslem
historian, on the authority of Sidi Hasan, a faquir who flourished about
the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, and who was present at the taking
down of the weathercock, when the old Kassaba was undergoing repairs.

“I saw it,” says the venerable faquir, “with my own eyes; it was of a
heptagonal shape, and had the following inscription in verse:

“The palace at fair Granada presents a talisman.”

“The horseman, though a solid body, turns with every wind.”

“This to a wise man reveals a mystery. In a little while comes a
calamity to ruin both the palace and its owner.”

In effect it was not long after this meddling with the portentous
weathercock that the following event occurred. As old Muley Abul Hassan,
the king of Granada, was seated under a sumptuous pavilion, reviewing
his troops, who paraded before him in armor of polished steel and
gorgeous silken robes, mounted on fleet steeds, and equipped with
swords, spears, and shields embossed with gold and silver,--suddenly a
tempest was seen hurrying from the southwest. In a little while black
clouds overshadowed the heavens and burst forth with a deluge of rain.
Torrents came roaring down from the mountains, bringing with them rocks
and trees; the Darro overflowed its banks; mills were swept away,
bridges destroyed, gardens laid waste; the inundation rushed into the
city, undermining houses, drowning their inhabitants, and overflowing
even the square of the Great Mosque. The people rushed in affright to
the mosques to implore the mercy of Allah, regarding this uproar of the
elements as the harbinger of dreadful calamities; and, indeed, according
to the Arabian historian Al Makkari, it was but a type and prelude of
the direful war which ended in the downfall of the Moslem kingdom of
Granada.

I have thus given historic authorities sufficient to show the portentous
mysteries connected with the House of the Weathercock, and its
talismanic horseman.

I now proceed to relate still more surprising things about Aben Habuz
and his palace; for the truth of which, should any doubt be entertained,
I refer the dubious reader to Mateo Ximenes and his fellow-historiographers
of the Alhambra.



LEGEND OF THE ARABIAN ASTROLOGER


In old times, many hundred years ago, there was a Moorish king named
Aben Habuz, who reigned over the kingdom of Granada. He was a retired
conqueror, that is to say, one who, having in his more youthful days led
a life of constant foray and depredation, now that he was grown feeble
and superannuated, “languished for repose,” and desired nothing more
than to live at peace with all the world, to husband his laurels, and to
enjoy in quiet the possessions he had wrested from his neighbors.

It so happened, however, that this most reasonable and pacific old
monarch had young rivals to deal with; princes full of his early passion
for fame and fighting, and who were disposed to call him to account for
the scores he had run up with their fathers. Certain distant districts
of his own territories, also, which during the days of his vigor he had
treated with a high hand, were prone, now that he languished for repose,
to rise in rebellion and threaten to invest him in his capital. Thus he
had foes on every side; and as Granada is surrounded by wild and craggy
mountains, which hide the approach of an enemy, the unfortunate Aben
Habuz was kept in a constant state of vigilance and alarm, not knowing
in what quarter hostilities might break out.

It was in vain that he built watch-towers on the mountains, and
stationed guards at every pass with orders to make fires by night and
smoke by day, on the approach of an enemy. His alert foes, baffling
every precaution, would break out of some unthought-of defile, ravage
his lands beneath his very nose, and then make off with prisoners and
booty to the mountains. Was ever peaceable and retired conqueror in a
more uncomfortable predicament?

While Aben Habuz was harassed by these perplexities and molestations, an
ancient Arabian physician arrived at his court. His gray beard descended
to his girdle, and he had every mark of extreme age, yet he had
travelled almost the whole way from Egypt on foot, with no other aid
than a staff, marked with hieroglyphics. His fame had preceded him. His
name was Ibrahim Ebn Abu Ayub; he was said to have lived ever since the
days of Mahomet, and to be son of Abu Ayub; the last of the companions
of the Prophet. He had, when a child, followed the conquering army of
Amru into Egypt, where he had remained many years studying the dark
sciences, and particularly magic, among the Egyptian priests.

It was, moreover, said that he had found out the secret of prolonging
life, by means of which he had arrived to the great age of upwards of
two centuries, though, as he did not discover the secret until well
stricken in years, he could only perpetuate his gray hairs and wrinkles.

This wonderful old man was honorably entertained by the king; who, like
most superannuated monarchs, began to take physicians into great favor.
He would have assigned him an apartment in his palace, but the
astrologer preferred a cave in the side of the hill which rises above
the city of Granada, being the same on which the Alhambra has since been
built. He caused the cave to be enlarged so as to form a spacious and
lofty hall, with a circular hole at the top, through which, as through a
well, he could see the heavens and behold the stars even at mid-day. The
walls of this hall were covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics with
cabalistic symbols, and with the figures of the stars in their signs.
This hall he furnished with many implements, fabricated under his
directions by cunning artificers of Granada, but the occult properties
of which were known only to himself.

In a little while the sage Ibrahim became the bosom counsellor of the
king, who applied to him for advice in every emergency. Aben Habuz was
once inveighing against the injustice of his neighbors, and bewailing
the restless vigilance he had to observe to guard himself against their
invasions; when he had finished, the astrologer remained silent for a
moment, and then replied, “Know, O king, that, when I was in Egypt, I
beheld a great marvel devised by a pagan priestess of old. On a
mountain, above the city of Borsa and overlooking the great valley of
the Nile, was a figure of a ram, and above it a figure of a cock, both
of molten brass, and turning upon a pivot. Whenever the country was
threatened with invasion, the ram would turn in the direction of the
enemy, and the cock would crow; upon this the inhabitants of the city
knew of the danger, and of the quarter from which it was approaching,
and could take timely means to guard against it.”

“God is great!” exclaimed the pacific Aben Habuz, “what a treasure would
be such a ram to keep an eye upon these mountains around me; and then
such a cock, to crow in time of danger! Allah Akbar! how securely I
might sleep in my palace with such sentinels on the top!”

The astrologer waited until the ecstasies of the king had subsided, and
then proceeded.

“After the victorious Amru (may he rest in peace!) had finished his
conquest of Egypt, I remained among the priests of the land, studying
the rites and ceremonies of their idolatrous faith, and seeking to make
myself master of the hidden knowledge for which they are renowned. I was
one day seated on the banks of the Nile, conversing with an ancient
priest, when he pointed to the mighty pyramids which rose like mountains
out of the neighboring desert. ‘All that we can teach thee,’ said he,
‘is nothing to the knowledge locked up in those mighty piles. In the
centre of the central pyramid is a sepulchral chamber, in which is
enclosed the mummy of the high-priest who aided in rearing that
stupendous pile; and with him is buried a wondrous book of knowledge,
containing all the secrets of magic and art. This book was given to Adam
after his fall, and was handed down from generation to generation to
King Solomon the Wise, and by its aid he built the Temple of Jerusalem.
How it came into the possession of the builder of the pyramids is known
to Him alone who knows all things.’

“When I heard these words of the Egyptian priest, my heart burned to get
possession of that book. I could command the services of many of the
soldiers of our conquering army, and of a number of the native
Egyptians: with these I set to work, and pierced the solid mass of the
pyramid, until, after great toil, I came upon one of its interior and
hidden passages. Following this up, and threading a fearful labyrinth, I
penetrated into the very heart of the pyramids, even to the sepulchral
chamber, where the mummy of the high-priest had lain for ages. I broke
through the outer cases of the mummy, unfolded its many wrappers and
bandages, and at length found the precious volume on its bosom. I seized
it with a trembling hand, and groped my way out of the pyramid, leaving
the mummy in its dark and silent sepulchre, there to await the final day
of resurrection and judgment.”

“Son of Abu Ayub,” exclaimed Aben Habuz, “thou hast been a great
traveller, and seen marvellous things; but of what avail to me is the
secret of the pyramid, and the volume of knowledge of the wise Solomon?”

“This it is, O king! By the study of that book I am instructed in all
magic arts, and can command the assistance of genii to accomplish my
plans. The mystery of the Talisman of Borsa is therefore familiar to me,
and such a talisman can I make, nay, one of greater virtues.”

“O wise son of Abu Ayub,” cried Aben Habuz, “better were such a talisman
than all the watch-towers on the hills, and sentinels upon the borders.
Give me such a safeguard, and the riches of my treasury are at thy
command.”

The astrologer immediately set to work to gratify the wishes of the
monarch. He caused a great tower to be erected upon the top of the royal
palace, which stood on the brow of the hill of the Albaycin. The tower
was built of stones brought from Egypt, and taken, it is said, from one
of the pyramids. In the upper part of the tower was a circular hall,
with windows looking towards every point of the compass, and before each
window was a table, on which was arranged, as on a chess-board, a mimic
army of horse and foot, with the effigy of the potentate that ruled in
that direction, all carved of wood. To each of these tables there was a
small lance, no bigger than a bodkin, on which were engraved certain
Chaldaic characters. This hall was kept constantly closed, by a gate of
brass, with a great lock of steel, the key of which was in possession of
the king.

On the top of the tower was a bronze figure of a Moorish horseman, fixed
on a pivot, with a shield on one arm, and his lance elevated
perpendicularly. The face of this horseman was towards the city, as if
keeping guard over it; but if any foe were at hand, the figure would
turn in that direction, and would level the lance as if for action.

When this talisman was finished, Aben Habuz was all impatient to try its
virtues, and longed as ardently for an invasion as he had ever sighed
after repose. His desire was soon gratified. Tidings were brought, early
one morning, by the sentinel appointed to watch the tower, that the face
of the bronze horseman was turned towards the mountains of Elvira, and
that his lance pointed directly against the Pass of Lope.

“Let the drums and trumpets sound to arms, and all Granada be put on the
alert,” said Aben Habuz.

“O king,” said the astrologer, “let not your city be disquieted, nor
your warriors called to arms; we need no aid of force to deliver you
from your enemies. Dismiss your attendants, and let us proceed alone to
the secret hall of the tower.”

The ancient Aben Habuz mounted the staircase of the tower, leaning on
the arm of the still more ancient Ibrahim Ebn Abu Ayub. They unlocked
the brazen door and entered. The window that looked towards the Pass of
Lope was open. “In this direction,” said the astrologer, “lies the
danger; approach, O king, and behold the mystery of the table.”

King Aben Habuz approached the seeming chess-board, on which were
arranged the small wooden effigies, when, to his surprise, he perceived
that they were all in motion. The horses pranced and curveted, the
warriors brandished their weapons, and there was a faint sound of drums
and trumpets, and the clang of arms, and neighing of steeds; but all no
louder, nor more distinct, than the hum of the bee, or the summer-fly,
in the drowsy ear of him who lies at noontide in the shade.

“Behold, O king,” said the astrologer, “a proof that thy enemies are
even now in the field. They must be advancing through yonder mountains,
by the Pass of Lope. Would you produce a panic and confusion amongst
them, and cause them to retreat without loss of life, strike these
effigies with the but-end of this magic lance; would you cause bloody
feud and carnage, strike with the point.”

A livid streak passed across the countenance of Aben Habuz; he seized
the lance with trembling eagerness; his gray beard wagged with
exultation as he tottered toward the table: “Son of Abu Ayub,” exclaimed
he, in chuckling tone, “I think we will have a little blood!”

So saying, he thrust the magic lance into some of the pigmy effigies,
and belabored others with the but-end, upon which the former fell as
dead upon the board, and the rest turning upon each other, began,
pell-mell, a chance-medley fight.

It was with difficulty the astrologer could stay the hand of the most
pacific of monarchs, and prevent him from absolutely exterminating his
foes; at length he prevailed upon him to leave the tower, and to send
out scouts to the mountains by the Pass of Lope.

They returned with the intelligence that a Christian army had advanced
through the heart of the Sierra, almost within sight of Granada, where a
dissension had broken out among them; they had turned their weapons
against each other, and after much slaughter had retreated over the
border.

Aben Habuz was transported with joy on thus proving the efficacy of the
talisman. “At length,” said he, “I shall lead a life of tranquillity,
and have all my enemies in my power. O wise son of Abu Ayub, what can I
bestow on thee in reward for such a blessing?” “The wants of an old man
and a philosopher, O king, are few and simple; grant me but the means of
fitting up my cave as a suitable hermitage, and I am content.”

“How noble is the moderation of the truly wise!” exclaimed Aben Habuz,
secretly pleased at the cheapness of the recompense. He summoned his
treasurer, and bade him dispense whatever sums might be required by
Ibrahim to complete and furnish his hermitage.

The astrologer now gave orders to have various chambers hewn out of the
solid rock, so as to form ranges of apartments connected with his
astrological hall; these he caused to be furnished with luxurious
ottomans and divans, and the walls to be hung with the richest silks of
Damascus. “I am an old man,” said he, “and can no longer rest my bones
on stone couches, and these damp walls require covering.”

He had baths too constructed, and provided with all kinds of perfumes
and aromatic oils. “For a bath,” said he, “is necessary to counteract
the rigidity of age, and to restore freshness and suppleness to the
frame withered by study.”

He caused the apartments to be hung with innumerable silver and crystal
lamps, which he filled with a fragrant oil prepared according to a
receipt discovered by him in the tombs of Egypt. This oil was perpetual
in its nature, and diffused a soft radiance like the tempered light of
day. “The light of the sun,” said he, “is too garish and violent for the
eyes of an old man, and the light of the lamp is more congenial to the
studies of a philosopher.”

The treasurer of King Aben Habuz groaned at the sums daily demanded to
fit up this hermitage, and he carried his complaints to the king. The
royal word, however, had been given; Aben Habuz shrugged his shoulders:
“We must have patience,” said he; “this old man has taken his idea of a
philosophic retreat from the interior of the pyramids, and of the vast
ruins of Egypt; but all things have an end, and so will the furnishing
of his cavern.”

The king was in the right; the hermitage was at length complete, and
formed a sumptuous subterranean palace. The astrologer expressed himself
perfectly content, and, shutting himself up, remained for three whole
days buried in study. At the end of that time he appeared again before
the treasurer. “One thing more is necessary,” said he, “one trifling
solace for the intervals of mental labor.”

“O wise Ibrahim, I am bound to furnish everything necessary for thy
solitude; what more dost thou require?”

“I would fain have a few dancing-women.”

“Dancing-women!” echoed the treasurer, with surprise.

“Dancing-women,” replied the sage, gravely; “and let them be young and
fair to look upon; for the sight of youth and beauty is refreshing. A
few will suffice, for I am a philosopher of simple habits and easily
satisfied.”

While the philosophic Ibrahim Ebn Abu Ayub passed his time thus sagely
in his hermitage, the pacific Aben Habuz carried on furious campaigns in
effigy in his tower. It was a glorious thing for an old man, like
himself, of quiet habits, to have war made easy, and to be enabled to
amuse himself in his chamber by brushing away whole armies like so many
swarms of flies.

For a time he rioted in the indulgence of his humors, and even taunted
and insulted his neighbors, to induce them to make incursions; but by
degrees they grew wary from repeated disasters, until no one ventured to
invade his territories. For many months the bronze horseman remained on
the peace establishment, with his lance elevated in the air; and the
worthy old monarch began to repine at the want of his accustomed sport,
and to grow peevish at his monotonous tranquillity.

At length, one day, the talismanic horseman veered suddenly round, and
lowering his lance, made a dead point towards the mountains of Guadix.
Aben Habuz hastened to his tower, but the magic table in that direction
remained quiet; not a single warrior was in motion. Perplexed at the
circumstance, he sent forth a troop of horse to scour the mountains and
reconnoitre. They returned after three days’ absence.

“We have searched every mountain pass,” said they, “but not a helm nor
spear was stirring. All that we have found in the course of our foray,
was a Christian damsel of surpassing beauty, sleeping at noontide beside
a fountain, whom we have brought away captive.”

“A damsel of surpassing beauty!” exclaimed Aben Habuz, his eyes gleaming
with animation; “let her be conducted into my presence.”

The beautiful damsel was accordingly conducted into his presence. She
was arrayed with all the luxury of ornament that had prevailed among the
Gothic Spaniards at the time of the Arabian conquest. Pearls of dazzling
whiteness were entwined with her raven tresses; and jewels sparkled on
her forehead, rivalling the lustre of her eyes. Around her neck was a
golden chain, to which was suspended a silver lyre, which hung by her
side.

The flashes of her dark refulgent eye were like sparks of fire on the
withered yet combustible heart of Aben Habuz; the swimming
voluptuousness of her gait made his senses reel. “Fairest of women,”
cried he, with rapture, “who and what art thou?”

“The daughter of one of the Gothic princes, who but lately ruled over
this land. The armies of my father have been destroyed, as if by magic,
among these mountains; he has been driven into exile, and his daughter
is a captive.”

“Beware, O king!” whispered Ibrahim Ebn Abu Ayub, “this may be one of
those northern sorceresses of whom we have heard, who assume the most
seductive forms to beguile the unwary. Methinks I read witchcraft in her
eye, and sorcery in every movement. Doubtless this is the enemy pointed
out by the talisman.”

“Son of Abu Ayub,” replied the king, “thou art a wise man, I grant, a
conjuror for aught I know; but thou art little versed in the ways of
woman. In that knowledge will I yield to no man; no, not to the wise
Solomon himself, notwithstanding the number of his wives and concubines.
As to this damsel, I see no harm in her; she is fair to look upon, and
finds favor in my eyes.”

“Hearken, O king!” replied the astrologer. “I have given thee many
victories by means of my talisman, but have never shared any of the
spoil. Give me then this stray captive, to solace me in my solitude with
her silver lyre. If she be indeed a sorceress, I have counter spells
that set her charms at defiance.”

“What! more women!” cried Aben Habuz. “Hast thou not already
dancing-women enough to solace thee?”

“Dancing-women have I, it is true, but no singing-women. I would fain
have a little minstrelsy to refresh my mind when weary with the toils of
study.”

“A truce with thy hermit cravings,” said the king, impatiently. “This
damsel have I marked for my own. I see much comfort in her; even such
comfort as David, the father of Solomon the Wise, found in the society
of Abishag the Shunamite.”

Further solicitations and remonstrances of the astrologer only provoked
a more peremptory reply from the monarch, and they parted in high
displeasure. The sage shut himself up in his hermitage to brood over
his disappointment; ere he departed, however, he gave the king one more
warning to beware of his dangerous captive. But where is the old man in
love that will listen to counsel? Aben Habuz resigned himself to the
full sway of his passion. His only study was how to render himself
amiable in the eyes of the Gothic beauty. He had not youth to recommend
him, it is true, but then he had riches; and when a lover is old, he is
generally generous. The Zacatin of Granada was ransacked for the most
precious merchandise of the East; silks, jewels, precious gems,
exquisite perfumes, all that Asia and Africa yielded of rich and rare,
were lavished upon the princess. All kinds of spectacles and festivities
were devised for her entertainment; minstrelsy, dancing, tournaments,
bull-fights;--Granada for a time was a scene of perpetual pageant. The
Gothic princess regarded all this splendor with the air of one
accustomed to magnificence. She received everything as a homage due to
her rank, or rather to her beauty; for beauty is more lofty in its
exactions even than rank. Nay, she seemed to take a secret pleasure in
exciting the monarch to expenses that made his treasury shrink, and then
treating his extravagant generosity as a mere matter of course. With all
his assiduity and munificence, also, the venerable lover could not
flatter himself that he had made any impression on her heart. She never
frowned on him, it is true, but then she never smiled. Whenever he began
to plead his passion, she struck her silver lyre. There was a mystic
charm in the sound. In an instant the monarch began to nod; a drowsiness
stole over him, and he gradually sank into a sleep, from which he awoke
wonderfully refreshed, but perfectly cooled for the time of his passion.
This was very baffling to his suit; but then these slumbers were
accompanied by agreeable dreams, which completely inthralled the senses
of the drowsy lover; so he continued to dream on, while all Granada
scoffed at his infatuation, and groaned at the treasures lavished for a
song.

At length a danger burst on the head of Aben Habuz, against which his
talisman yielded him no warning. An insurrection broke out in his very
capital; his palace was surrounded by an armed rabble, who menaced his
life and the life of his Christian paramour. A spark of his ancient
warlike spirit was awakened in the breast of the monarch. At the head of
a handful of his guards he sallied forth, put the rebels to flight, and
crushed the insurrection in the bud.

When quiet was again restored, he sought the astrologer, who still
remained shut up in his hermitage, chewing the bitter cud of resentment.

Aben Habuz approached him with a conciliatory tone. “O wise son of Abu
Ayub,” said he, “well didst thou predict dangers to me from this captive
beauty: tell me then, thou who art so quick at foreseeing peril, what I
should do to avert it.”

“Put from thee the infidel damsel who is the cause.”

“Sooner would I part with my kingdom,” cried Aben Habuz.

“Thou art in danger of losing both,” replied the astrologer.

“Be not harsh and angry, O most profound of philosophers; consider the
double distress of a monarch and a lover, and devise some means of
protecting me from the evils by which I am menaced. I care not for
grandeur, I care not for power, I languish only for repose; would that I
had some quiet retreat where I might take refuge from the world, and all
its cares, and pomps, and troubles, and devote the remainder of my days
to tranquillity and love.”

The astrologer regarded him for a moment from under his bushy eyebrows.

“And what wouldst thou give, if I could provide thee such a retreat?”

“Thou shouldst name thy own reward; and whatever it might be, if within
the scope of my power, as my soul liveth, it should be thine.”

“Thou hast heard, O king, of the garden of Irem, one of the prodigies of
Arabia the happy.”

“I have heard of that garden; it is recorded in the Koran, even in the
chapter entitled ‘The Dawn of Day.’ I have, moreover, heard marvellous
things related of it by pilgrims who had been to Mecca; but I considered
them wild fables, such as travellers are wont to tell who have visited
remote countries.”

“Discredit not, O king, the tales of travellers,” rejoined the
astrologer, gravely, “for they contain precious rarities of knowledge
brought from the ends of the earth. As to the palace and garden of Irem,
what is generally told of them is true; I have seen them with mine own
eyes;--listen to my adventure, for it has a bearing upon the object of
your request.

“In my younger days, when a mere Arab of the desert, I tended my
father’s camels. In traversing the desert of Aden, one of them strayed
from the rest, and was lost. I searched after it for several days, but
in vain, until, wearied and faint, I laid myself down at noontide, and
slept under a palm-tree by the side of a scanty well. When I awoke I
found myself at the gate of a city. I entered, and beheld noble streets,
and squares, and market-places; but all were silent and without an
inhabitant. I wandered on until I came to a sumptuous palace, with a
garden adorned with fountains and fish-ponds, and groves and flowers,
and orchards laden with delicious fruit; but still no one was to be
seen. Upon which, appalled at this loneliness, I hastened to depart;
and, after issuing forth at the gate of the city, I turned to look upon
the place, but it was no longer to be seen; nothing but the silent
desert extended before my eyes.

“In the neighborhood I met with an aged dervise, learned in the
traditions and secrets of the land, and related to him what had befallen
me. ‘This,’ said he, ‘is the far-famed garden of Irem, one of the
wonders of the desert. It only appears at times to some wanderer like
thyself gladdening him with the sight of towers and palaces and
garden-walls overhung with richly-laden fruit-trees, and then vanishes,
leaving nothing but a lonely desert. And this is the story of it. In old
times, when this country was inhabited by the Addites, King Sheddad, the
son of Ad, the great-grandson of Noah, founded here a splendid city.
When it was finished, and he saw its grandeur, his heart was puffed up
with pride and arrogance, and he determined to build a royal palace,
with gardens which should rival all related in the Koran of the
celestial paradise. But the curse of heaven fell upon him for his
presumption. He and his subjects were swept from the earth, and his
splendid city, and palace, and gardens, were laid under a perpetual
spell, which hides them from human sight, excepting that they are seen
at intervals, by way of keeping his sin in perpetual remembrance.’

“This story, O king, and the wonders I had seen, ever dwelt in my mind;
and in after-years, when I had been in Egypt, and was possessed of the
book of knowledge of Solomon the Wise, I determined to return and
revisit the garden of Irem. I did so, and found it revealed to my
instructed sight. I took possession of the palace of Sheddad, and passed
several days in his mock paradise. The genii who watch over the place
were obedient to my magic power, and revealed to me the spells by which
the whole garden had been, as it were, conjured into existence, and by
which it was rendered invisible. Such a palace and garden, O king, can
I make for thee, even here, on the mountain above thy city. Do I not
know all the secret spells? and am I not in possession of the book of
knowledge of Solomon the Wise?”

“O wise son of Abu Ayub!” exclaimed Aben Habuz, trembling with
eagerness, “thou art a traveller indeed, and hast seen and learned
marvellous things! Contrive me such a paradise, and ask any reward, even
to the half of my kingdom.”

“Alas!” replied the other, “thou knowest I am an old man, and a
philosopher, and easily satisfied; all the reward I ask is the first
beast of burden, with its load, which shall enter the magic portal of
the palace.”

The monarch gladly agreed to so moderate a stipulation, and the
astrologer began his work. On the summit of the hill, immediately above
his subterranean hermitage, he caused a great gateway or barbican to be
erected, opening through the centre of a strong tower.

There was an outer vestibule or porch, with a lofty arch, and within it
a portal secured by massive gates. On the keystone of the portal the
astrologer, with his own hand, wrought the figure of a huge key; and on
the keystone of the outer arch of the vestibule, which was loftier than
that of the portal, he carved a gigantic hand. These were potent
talismans, over which he repeated many sentences in an unknown tongue.

When this gateway was finished, he shut himself up for two days in his
astrological hall, engaged in secret incantations; on the third he
ascended the hill, and passed the whole day on its summit. At a late
hour of the night he came down, and presented himself before Aben Habuz.
“At length, O king,” said he, “my labor is accomplished. On the summit
of the hill stands one of the most delectable palaces that ever the
head of man devised, or the heart of man desired. It contains sumptuous
halls and galleries, delicious gardens, cool fountains, and fragrant
baths; in a word, the whole mountain is converted into a paradise. Like
the garden of Irem, it is protected by a mighty charm, which hides it
from the view and search of mortals, excepting such as possess the
secret of its talismans.”

“Enough!” cried Aben Habuz, joyfully, “to-morrow morning with the first
light we will ascend and take possession.” The happy monarch slept but
little that night. Scarcely had the rays of the sun begun to play about
the snowy summit of the Sierra Nevada, when he mounted his steed, and,
accompanied only by a few chosen attendants, ascended a steep and narrow
road leading up the hill. Beside him, on a white palfrey, rode the
Gothic princess, her whole dress sparkling with jewels, while round her
neck was suspended her silver lyre. The astrologer walked on the other
side of the king, assisting his steps with his hieroglyphic staff, for
he never mounted steed of any kind.

Aben Habuz looked to see the towers of the palace brightening above him,
and the embowered terraces of its gardens stretching along the heights;
but as yet nothing of the kind was to be descried. “That is the mystery
and safeguard of the place,” said the astrologer, “nothing can be
discerned until you have passed the spell-bound gateway, and been put in
possession of the place.”

As they approached the gateway, the astrologer paused, and pointed out
to the king the mystic hand and key carved upon the portal of the arch.
“These,” said he, “are the talismans which guard the entrance to this
paradise. Until yonder hand shall reach down and seize that key, neither
mortal power nor magic artifice can prevail against the lord of this
mountain.”

While Aben Habuz was gazing, with open mouth and silent wonder, at these
mystic talismans, the palfrey of the princess proceeded, and bore her in
at the portal, to the very centre of the barbican.

“Behold,” cried the astrologer, “my promised reward; the first animal
with its burden which should enter the magic gateway.”

Aben Habuz smiled at what he considered a pleasantry of the ancient man;
but when he found him to be in earnest, his gray beard trembled with
indignation.

“Son of Abu Ayub,” said he, sternly, “what equivocation is this? Thou
knowest the meaning of my promise: the first beast of burden, with its
load, that should enter this portal. Take the strongest mule in my
stables, load it with the most precious things of my treasury, and it is
thine; but dare not raise thy thoughts to her who is the delight of my
heart.”

“What need I of wealth?” cried the astrologer, scornfully; “have I not
the book of knowledge of Solomon the Wise, and through it the command of
the secret treasures of the earth? The princess is mine by right; thy
royal word is pledged; I claim her as my own.”

The princess looked down haughtily from her palfrey, and a light smile
of scorn curled her rosy lip at this dispute between two gray-beards for
the possession of youth and beauty. The wrath of the monarch got the
better of his discretion. “Base son of the desert,” cried he, “thou
mayst be master of many arts, but know me for thy master, and presume
not to juggle with thy king.”

“My master! my king!” echoed the astrologer,--“the monarch of a
mole-hill to claim sway over him who possesses the talismans of Solomon!
Farewell, Aben Habuz; reign over thy petty kingdom, and revel in thy
paradise of fools; for me, I will laugh at thee in my philosophic
retirement.”

So saying, he seized the bridle of the palfrey, smote the earth with his
staff, and sank with the Gothic princess through the centre of the
barbican. The earth closed over them, and no trace remained of the
opening by which they had descended.

Aben Habuz was struck dumb for a time with astonishment. Recovering
himself, he ordered a thousand workmen to dig, with pickaxe and spade,
into the ground where the astrologer had disappeared. They digged and
digged, but in vain; the flinty bosom of the hill resisted their
implements; or if they did penetrate a little way, the earth filled in
again as fast as they threw it out. Aben Habuz sought the mouth of the
cavern at the foot of the hill, leading to the subterranean palace of
the astrologer; but it was nowhere to be found. Where once had been an
entrance, was now a solid surface of primeval rock. With the
disappearance of Ibrahim Ebn Abu Ayub ceased the benefit of his
talismans. The bronze horseman remained fixed, with his face turned
toward the hill, and his spear pointed to the spot where the astrologer
had descended, as if there still lurked the deadliest foe of Aben Habuz.

From time to time the sound of music, and the tones of a female voice,
could be faintly heard from the bosom of the hill; and a peasant one day
brought word to the king, that in the preceding night he had found a
fissure in the rock, by which he had crept in, until he looked down into
a subterranean hall, in which sat the astrologer, on a magnificent
divan, slumbering and nodding to the silver lyre of the princess, which
seemed to hold a magic sway over his senses.

Aben Habuz sought the fissure in the rock, but it was again closed. He
renewed the attempt to unearth his rival, but all in vain. The spell of
the hand and key was too potent to be counteracted by human power. As to
the summit of the mountain, the site of the promised palace and garden,
it remained a naked waste; either the boasted elysium was hidden from
sight by enchantment, or was a mere fable of the astrologer. The world
charitably supposed the latter, and some used to call the place “The
King’s Folly”; while others named it “The Fool’s Paradise.”

To add to the chagrin of Aben Habuz, the neighbors whom he had defied
and taunted, and cut up at his leisure while master of the talismanic
horseman, finding him no longer protected by magic spell, made inroads
into his territories from all sides, and the remainder of the life of
the most pacific of monarchs was a tissue of turmoils.

At length Aben Habuz died, and was buried. Ages have since rolled away.
The Alhambra has been built on the eventful mountain, and in some
measure realizes the fabled delights of the garden of Irem. The
spell-bound gateway still exists entire, protected no doubt by the
mystic hand and key, and now forms the Gate of Justice, the grand
entrance to the fortress. Under that gateway, it is said, the old
astrologer remains in his subterranean hall, nodding on his divan,
lulled by the silver lyre of the princess.

The old invalid sentinels who mount guard at the gate hear the strains
occasionally in the summer nights; and, yielding to their soporific
power, doze quietly at their posts. Nay, so drowsy an influence pervades
the place, that even those who watch by day may generally be seen
nodding on the stone benches of the barbican, or sleeping under the
neighboring trees; so that in fact it is the drowsiest military post in
all Christendom. All this, say the ancient legends, will endure from age
to age. The princess will remain captive to the astrologer; and the
astrologer, bound up in magic slumber by the princess, until the last
day, unless the mystic hand shall grasp the fated key, and dispel the
whole charm of this enchanted mountain.


     NOTE TO THE ARABIAN ASTROLOGER

     Al Makkari, in his history of the Mahommedan Dynasties in Spain,
     cites from another Arabian writer an account of a talismanic effigy
     somewhat similar to the one in the foregoing legend.

     In Cadiz, says he, there formerly stood a square tower upwards of
     one hundred cubits high, built of huge blocks of stone, fastened
     together with clamps of brass. On the top was the figure of a man,
     holding a staff in his right hand, his face turned to the Atlantic,
     and pointing with the forefinger of his left hand to the Straits of
     Gibraltar. It was said to have been set up in ancient times by the
     Gothic kings of Andalus, as a beacon or guide to navigators. The
     Moslems of Barbary and Andalus considered it a talisman which
     exercised a spell over the seas. Under its guidance, swarms of
     piratical people of a nation called Majus, appeared on the coast in
     large vessels with a square sail in the bow, and another in the
     stern. They came every six or seven years; captured everything they
     met with on the sea;--guided by the statue, they passed through the
     Straits into the Mediterranean, landed on the coasts of Andalus,
     laid everything waste with fire and sword; and sometimes carried
     their depredations on the opposite coasts even as far as Syria.

     At length it came to pass in the time of the civil wars, a Moslem
     Admiral who had taken possession of Cadiz, hearing that the statue
     on top of the tower was of pure gold, had it lowered to the ground
     and broken to pieces: when it proved to be of gilded brass. With
     the destruction of the idol, the spell over the sea was at an end.
     From that time forward nothing more was seen of the piratical
     people of the ocean excepting that two of their barks were wrecked
     on the coast, one at Marsu-l-Majus (the port of the Majus), the
     other close to the promontory of Al Aghan.

     The maritime invaders above mentioned by Al Makkari must have been
     the Northmen.



VISITORS TO THE ALHAMBRA


For nearly three months had I enjoyed undisturbed my dream of
sovereignty in the Alhambra,--a longer term of quiet than had been the
lot of many of my predecessors. During this lapse of time the progress
of the season had wrought the usual change. On my arrival I had found
everything in the freshness of May; the foliage of the trees was still
tender and transparent; the pomegranate had not yet shed its brilliant
crimson blossoms; the orchards of the Xenil and the Darro were in full
bloom; the rocks were hung with wild flowers, and Granada seemed
completely surrounded by a wilderness of roses; among which innumerable
nightingales sang, not merely in the night, but all day long.

Now the advance of summer had withered the rose and silenced the
nightingale, and the distant country began to look parched and sunburnt;
though a perennial verdure reigned immediately round the city and in the
deep narrow valleys at the foot of the snow-capped mountains.

The Alhambra possesses retreats graduated to the heat of the weather,
among which the most peculiar is the almost subterranean apartment of
the baths. This still retains its ancient Oriental character, though
stamped with the touching traces of decline. At the entrance, opening
into a small court formerly adorned with flowers, is a hall, moderate in
size, but light and graceful in architecture. It is overlooked by a
small gallery supported by marble pillars and Moresco arches. An
alabaster fountain in the centre of the pavement still throws up a jet
of water to cool the place. On each side are deep alcoves with raised
platforms, where the bathers, after their ablutions, reclined on
cushions, soothed to voluptuous repose by the fragrance of the perfumed
air and the notes of soft music from the gallery. Beyond this hall are
the interior chambers, still more retired; the _sanctum sanctorum_ of
female privacy; for here the beauties of the Harem indulged in the
luxury of the baths. A soft mysterious light reigns through the place,
admitted through small apertures (lumbreras) in the vaulted ceiling. The
traces of ancient elegance are still to be seen; and the alabaster baths
in which the sultanas once reclined. The prevailing obscurity and
silence have made these vaults a favorite resort of bats, who nestle
during the day in the dark nooks and corners, and on being disturbed,
flit mysteriously about the twilight chambers, heightening, in an
indescribable degree, their air of desertion and decay.

In this cool and elegant, though dilapidated retreat, which had the
freshness and seclusion of a grotto, I passed the sultry hours of the
day as summer advanced, emerging towards sunset; and bathing, or rather
swimming, at night in the great reservoir of the main court. In this way
I was enabled in a measure to counteract the relaxing and enervating
influence of the climate.

My dream of absolute sovereignty, however, came at length to an end. I
was roused one morning by the report of fire-arms, which reverberated
among the towers as if the castle had been taken by surprise. On
sallying forth, I found an old cavalier with a number of domestics in
possession of the Hall of Ambassadors. He was an ancient count who had
come up from his palace in Granada to pass a short time in the Alhambra
for the benefit of purer air; and who, being a veteran and inveterate
sportsman, was endeavoring to get an appetite for his breakfast by
shooting at swallows from the balconies. It was a harmless amusement;
for though, by the alertness of his attendants in loading his pieces, he
was enabled to keep up a brisk fire, I could not accuse him of the death
of a single swallow. Nay, the birds themselves seemed to enjoy the
sport, and to deride his want of skill, skimming in circles close to the
balconies, and twittering as they darted by.

The arrival of this old gentleman changed essentially the aspect of
affairs, but caused no jealousy nor collision. We tacitly shared the
empire between us, like the last kings of Granada, excepting that we
maintained a most amicable alliance. He reigned absolute over the Court
of the Lions and its adjacent halls, while I maintained peaceful
possession of the regions of the baths and the little garden of
Lindaraxa. We took our meals together under the arcades of the court,
where the fountains cooled the air, and bubbling rills ran along the
channels of the marble pavement.

In the evenings a domestic circle would gather about the worthy old
cavalier. The countess, his wife by a second marriage, would come up
from the city accompanied by her step-daughter Carmen, an only child, a
charming little being, still in her girlish years. Then there were
always some of his official dependants, his chaplain, his lawyer, his
secretary, his steward, and other officers and agents of his extensive
possessions, who brought him up the news or gossip of the city, and
formed his evening party of tresillo or ombre. Thus he held a kind of
domestic court, where each one paid him deference, and sought to
contribute to his amusement, without, however, any appearance of
servility, or any sacrifice of self-respect. In fact, nothing of the
kind was exacted by the demeanor of the count; for whatever may be said
of Spanish pride, it rarely chills or constrains the intercourse of
social or domestic life. Among no people are the relations between
kindred more unreserved and cordial, or between superior and dependant
more free from haughtiness on the one side, and obsequiousness on the
other. In these respects there still remains in Spanish life, especially
in the provinces, much of the vaunted simplicity of the olden time.

The most interesting member of this family group, in my eyes, was the
daughter of the count, the lovely little Carmen. She was but about
sixteen years of age, and appeared to be considered a mere child, though
the idol of the family, going generally by the childlike but endearing
appellation of la Niña. Her form had not yet attained full maturity and
development, but possessed already the exquisite symmetry and pliant
grace so prevalent in this country. Her blue eyes, fair complexion, and
light hair were unusual in Andalusia, and gave a mildness and gentleness
to her demeanor in contrast to the usual fire of Spanish beauty, but in
unison with the guileless and confiding innocence of her manners. She
had at the same time the innate aptness and versatility of her
fascinating country-women. Whatever she undertook to do she did well and
apparently without effort. She sang, played the guitar and other
instruments, and danced the picturesque dances of her country to
admiration, but never seemed to seek admiration. Everything was
spontaneous, prompted by her own gay spirits and happy temper.

The presence of this fascinating little being spread a new charm about
the Alhambra, and seemed to be in unison with the place. While the count
and countess, with the chaplain or secretary, were playing their game of
tresillo under the vestibule of the Court of Lions, she, attended by
Dolores, who acted as her maid of honor, would sit by one of the
fountains, and accompanying herself on the guitar, would sing some of
those popular romances which abound in Spain, or, what was still more to
my taste, some traditional ballad about the Moors.

Never shall I think of the Alhambra without remembering this lovely
little being, sporting in happy and innocent girlhood in its marble
halls, dancing to the sound of the Moorish castanets, or mingling the
silver warbling of her voice with the music of its fountains.



RELICS AND GENEALOGIES


If I had been pleased and interested by the count and his family, as
furnishing a picture of a Spanish domestic life, I was still more so
when apprised of historical circumstances which linked them with the
heroic times of Granada. In fact, in this worthy old cavalier, so
totally unwarlike, or whose deeds in arms extended, at most, to a war on
swallows and martlets, I discovered a lineal descendant and actual
representative of Gonsalvo of Cordova, “The Grand Captain,” who won some
of his brightest laurels before the walls of Granada, and was one of the
cavaliers commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella to negotiate the terms
of surrender; nay, more, the count was entitled, did he choose it, to
claim remote affinity with some of the ancient Moorish princes, through
a scion of his house, Don Pedro Venegas, surnamed the Tornadizo; and by
the same token his daughter, the fascinating little Carmen, might claim
to be rightful representative of the princess Cetimerien or the
beautiful Lindaraxa.[17]

Understanding from the count that he had some curious relics of the
Conquest, preserved in his family archives, I accompanied him early one
morning down to his palace in Granada to examine them. The most
important of these relics was the sword of the Grand Captain; a weapon
destitute of all ostentatious ornament, as the weapons of great generals
are apt to be, with a plain hilt of ivory and a broad thin blade. It
might furnish a comment on hereditary honors, to see the sword of the
Grand Captain legitimately declined into such feeble hands.

The other relics of the Conquest were a number of espingardas or muskets
of unwieldy size and ponderous weight, worthy to rank with those
enormous two-edged swords preserved in old armories, which look like
relics from the days of the giants.

Beside other hereditary honors, I found the old count was Alferez mayor,
or grand standard-bearer, in which capacity he was entitled to bear the
ancient standard of Ferdinand and Isabella, on certain high and solemn
occasions, and to wave it over their tombs. I was shown also the
caparisons of velvet, sumptuously embroidered with gold and silver, for
six horses, with which he appeared in state when a new sovereign was to
be proclaimed in Granada and Seville; the count mounting one of the
horses, and the other five being led by lackeys in rich liveries.

I had hoped to find among the relics and antiquities of the count’s
palace some specimens of the armor and weapons of the Moors of Granada,
such as I had heard were preserved as trophies by the descendants of the
Conquerors; but in this I was disappointed. I was the more curious in
this particular, because an erroneous idea has been entertained by many,
as to the costumes of the Moors of Spain; supposing them to be of the
usual Oriental type. On the contrary, we have it on the authority of
their own writers, that they adopted in many respects the fashions of
the Christians. The turban, especially, so identified in idea with the
Moslem, was generally abandoned, except in the western provinces, where
it continued in use among people of rank and wealth, and those holding
places under government. A woollen cap, red or green, was commonly worn
as a substitute; probably the same kind originating in Barbary, and
known by the name of Tunis or Fez, which at the present day is worn
throughout the East, though generally under the turban. The Jews were
obliged to wear them of a yellow color.

In Murcia, Valencia, and other eastern provinces, men of the highest
rank might be seen in public bare-headed. The warrior king, Aben Hud,
never wore a turban, neither did his rival and competitor Al Hamar, the
founder of the Alhambra. A short cloak called Taylasan, similar to that
seen in Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was worn by
all ranks. It had a hood or cape which people of condition sometimes
drew over the head; but the lower class never.

A Moslem cavalier in the thirteenth century, as described by Ibnu Said,
was equipped for war very much in the Christian style. Over a complete
suit of mail he wore a short scarlet tunic. His helmet was of polished
steel; a shield was slung at his back; he wielded a huge spear with a
broad point, sometimes a double point. His saddle was cumbrous,
projecting very much in front and in rear, and he rode with a banner
fluttering behind him.

In the time of Al Khattib of Granada, who wrote in the fourteenth
century, the Moslems of Andalus had resumed the Oriental costumes, and
were again clad and armed in Arabic fashion: with light helmet, thin but
well-tempered cuirass, long slender lance, commonly of reed, Arabian
saddle and leathern buckler, made of double folds of the skin of the
antelope. A wonderful luxury prevailed at that time in the arms and
equipments of the Granadian cavaliers. Their armor was inlaid with gold
and silver. Their cimeters were of the keenest Damascus blades, with
sheaths richly wrought and enamelled, and belts of golden filigree
studded with gems. Their daggers of Fez had jewelled hilts, and their
lances were set off with gay banderoles. Their horses were caparisoned
in correspondent style, with velvet and embroidery.

All this minute description, given by a contemporary, and an author of
distinction, verifies those gallant pictures in the old Morisco Spanish
ballads which have sometimes been deemed apocryphal, and give a vivid
idea of the brilliant appearance of the chivalry of Granada, when
marshalled forth in warlike array, or when celebrating the chivalrous
fêtes of the Vivarrambla.



THE GENERALIFE


High above the Alhambra, on the breast of the mountain, amidst embowered
gardens and stately terraces, rise the lofty towers and white walls of
the Generalife; a fairy palace, full of storied recollections. Here are
still to be seen the famous cypresses of enormous size which flourished
in the time of the Moors, and which tradition has connected with the
fabulous story of Boabdil and his sultana.

Here are preserved the portraits of many who figured in the romantic
drama of the Conquest. Ferdinand and Isabella, Ponce de Leon, the
gallant Marquis of Cadiz, and Garcilaso de la Vega, who slew in
desperate fight Tarfe the Moor, a champion of Herculean strength. Here
too hangs a portrait which has long passed for that of the unfortunate
Boabdil, but

[Illustration: THE GENERALIFE FROM THE ALHAMBRA.]

which is said to be that of Aben Hud, the Moorish king from whom
descended the princes of Almeria. From one of these princes, who joined
the standard of Ferdinand and Isabella towards the close of the
Conquest, and was christianized by the name of Don Pedro de Granada
Venegas, was descended the present proprietor of the palace, the Marquis
of Campotejar. The proprietor, however, dwells in a foreign land, and
the palace has no longer a princely inhabitant.

Yet here is everything to delight a southern voluptuary: fruits,
flowers, fragrance, green arbors and myrtle hedges, delicate air and
gushing waters. Here I had an opportunity of witnessing those scenes
which painters are fond of depicting about southern palaces and gardens.
It was the saint’s day of the count’s daughter, and she had brought up
several of her youthful companions from Granada, to sport away a long
summer’s day among the breezy halls and bowers of the Moorish palaces. A
visit to the Generalife was the morning’s entertainment. Here some of
the gay company dispersed itself in groups about the green walks, the
bright fountains, the flights of Italian steps, the noble terraces and
marble balustrades. Others, among whom I was one, took their seats in an
open gallery or colonnade commanding a vast prospect; with the Alhambra,
the city, and the Vega, far below, and the distant horizon of
mountains--a dreamy world, all glimmering to the eye in summer sunshine.
While thus seated, the all-pervading tinkling of the guitar and click of
the castanets came stealing up from the valley of the Darro, and
half-way down the mountain we descried a festive party under the trees,
enjoying themselves in true Andalusian style; some lying on the grass,
others dancing to the music.

All these sights and sounds, together with the princely seclusion of the
place, the sweet quiet which prevailed around, and the delicious
serenity of the weather, had a witching effect upon the mind, and drew
from some of the company, versed in local story, several of the popular
fancies and traditions connected with this old Moorish palace; they were
“such stuff as dreams are made of,” but out of them I have shaped the
following legend, which I hope may have the good fortune to prove
acceptable to the reader.



LEGEND OF PRINCE AHMED AL KAMEL

OR, THE PILGRIM OF LOVE


There was once a Moorish king of Granada, who had but one son, whom he
named Ahmed, to which his courtiers added the surname of al Kamel, or
the Perfect, from the indubitable signs of superexcellence which they
perceived in him in his very infancy. The astrologers countenanced them
in their foresight, predicting everything in his favor that could make a
perfect prince and a prosperous sovereign. One cloud only rested upon
his destiny, and even that was of a roseate hue: he would be of an
amorous temperament, and run great perils from the tender passion. If,
however, he could be kept from the allurements of love until of mature
age, these dangers would be averted, and his life thereafter be one
uninterrupted course of felicity.

To prevent all danger of the kind, the king wisely determined to rear
the prince in a seclusion where he should never see a female face, nor
hear even the name of love. For this purpose he built a beautiful palace
on the brow of the hill above the Alhambra, in the midst of delightful
gardens, but surrounded by lofty walls, being, in fact, the same palace
known at the present day by the name of the Generalife. In this palace
the youthful prince was shut up, and intrusted to the guardianship and
instruction of Eben Bonabben, one of the wisest and dryest of Arabian
sages, who had passed the greatest part of his life in Egypt, studying
hieroglyphics, and making researches among the tombs and pyramids, and
who saw more charms in an Egyptian mummy than in the most tempting of
living beauties. The sage was ordered to instruct the prince in all
kinds of knowledge but one,--he was to be kept utterly ignorant of love.
“Use every precaution for the purpose you may think proper,” said the
king, “but remember, O Eben Bonabben, if my son learns aught of that
forbidden knowledge while under your care, your head shall answer for
it.” A withered smile came over the dry visage of the wise Bonabben at
the menace. “Let your majesty’s heart be as easy about your son, as mine
is about my head: am I a man likely to give lessons in the idle
passion?”

Under the vigilant care of the philosopher, the prince grew up in the
seclusion of the palace and its gardens. He had black slaves to attend
upon him--hideous mutes who knew nothing of love, or if they did, had
not words to communicate it. His mental endowments were the peculiar
care of Eben Bonabben, who sought to initiate him into the abstruse lore
of Egypt; but in this the prince made little progress, and it was soon
evident that he had no turn for philosophy.

He was, however, amazingly ductile for a youthful prince, ready to
follow any advice, and always guided by the last counsellor. He
suppressed his yawns, and listened patiently to the long and learned
discourses of Eben Bonabben, from which he imbibed a smattering of
various kinds of knowledge, and thus happily attained his twentieth
year, a miracle of princely wisdom--but totally ignorant of love.

About this time, however, a change came over the conduct of the prince.
He completely abandoned his studies, and took to strolling about the
gardens, and musing by the side of the fountains. He had been taught a
little music among his various accomplishments; it now engrossed a great
part of his time, and a turn for poetry became apparent. The sage Eben
Bonabben took the alarm, and endeavored to work these idle humors out of
him by a severe course of algebra; but the prince turned from it with
distaste. “I cannot endure algebra,” said he; “it is an abomination to
me. I want something that speaks more to the heart.”

The sage Eben Bonabben shook his dry head at the words. “Here is an end
to philosophy,” thought he. “The prince has discovered he has a heart!”
He now kept anxious watch upon his pupil, and saw that the latent
tenderness of his nature was in activity, and only wanted an object. He
wandered about the gardens of the Generalife in an intoxication of
feelings of which he knew not the cause. Sometimes he would sit plunged
in a delicious reverie; then he would seize his lute and draw from it
the most touching notes, and then throw it aside, and break forth into
sighs and ejaculations.

By degrees this loving disposition began to extend to inanimate objects;
he had his favorite flowers, which he cherished with tender assiduity;
then he became attached to various trees, and there was one in
particular, of a graceful form and drooping foliage, on which he
lavished his amorous devotion, carving his name on its bark, hanging
garlands on its branches, and singing couplets in its praise, to the
accompaniment of his lute.

Eben Bonabben was alarmed at this excited state of his pupil. He saw him
on the very brink of forbidden knowledge--the least hint might reveal to
him the fatal secret. Trembling for the safety of the prince and the
security of his own head, he hastened to draw him from the seductions of
the garden, and shut him up in the highest tower of the Generalife. It
contained beautiful apartments, and commanded an almost boundless
prospect, but was elevated far above that atmosphere of sweets and those
witching bowers so dangerous to the feelings of the too susceptible
Ahmed.

What was to be done, however, to reconcile him to this restraint and to
beguile the tedious hours? He had exhausted almost all kinds of
agreeable knowledge; and algebra was not to be mentioned. Fortunately
Eben Bonabben had been instructed, when in Egypt, in the language of
birds by a Jewish Rabbin, who had received it in lineal transmission
from Solomon the Wise, who had been taught it by the queen of Sheba. At
the very mention of such a study, the eyes of the prince sparkled with
animation, and he applied himself to it with such avidity, that he soon
became as great an adept as his master.

The tower of the Generalife was no longer a solitude; he had companions
at hand with whom he could converse. The first acquaintance he formed
was with a hawk, who built his nest in a crevice of the lofty
battlements, whence he soared far and wide in quest of prey. The prince,
however, found little to like or esteem in him. He was a mere pirate of
the air, swaggering and boastful, whose talk was all about rapine and
carnage, and desperate exploits.

His next acquaintance was an owl, a mighty wise-looking bird, with a
huge head and staring eyes, who sat blinking and goggling all day in a
hole in the wall, but roamed forth at night. He had great pretensions to
wisdom, talked something of astrology and the moon, and hinted at the
dark sciences; he was grievously given to metaphysics, and the prince
found his prosings even more ponderous than those of the sage Eben
Bonabben.

Then there was a bat, that hung all day by his heels in the dark corner
of a vault, but sallied out in slipshod style at twilight. He, however,
had but twilight ideas on all subjects, derided things of which he had
taken but an imperfect view, and seemed to take delight in nothing.

Besides these there was a swallow, with whom the prince was at first
much taken. He was a smart talker, but restless, bustling, and forever
on the wing; seldom remaining long enough for any continued
conversation. He turned out in the end to be a mere smatterer, who did
but skim over the surface of things, pretending to know everything, but
knowing nothing thoroughly.

These were the only feathered associates with whom the prince had any
opportunity of exercising his newly acquired language; the tower was too
high for any other birds to frequent it. He soon grew weary of his new
acquaintances, whose conversation spoke so little to the head and
nothing to the heart, and gradually relapsed into his loneliness. A
winter passed away, spring opened with all its bloom and verdure and
breathing sweetness, and the happy time arrived for birds to pair and
build their nests. Suddenly, as it were, a universal burst of song and
melody broke forth from the groves and gardens of the Generalife, and
reached the prince in the solitude of his tower. From every side he
heard the same universal theme--love--love--love--chanted forth, and
responded to it in every variety of note and tone. The prince listened
in silence and perplexity. “What can be this love,” thought he, “of
which the world seems so full, and of which I know nothing?” He applied
for information to his friend the hawk. The ruffian bird answered in a
tone of scorn: “You must apply,” said he, “to the vulgar peaceable
birds of earth, who are made for the prey of us princes of the air. My
trade is war, and fighting my delight. I am a warrior, and know nothing
of this thing called love.”

The prince turned from him with disgust, and sought the owl in his
retreat. “This is a bird,” said he, “of peaceful habits, and may be able
to solve my question.” So he asked the owl to tell him what was this
love about which all the birds in the groves below were singing.

Upon this the owl put on a look of offended dignity. “My nights,” said
he, “are taken up in study and research, and my days in ruminating in my
cell upon all that I have learnt. As to these singing birds of whom you
talk, I never listen to them--I despise them and their themes. Allah be
praised, I cannot sing; I am a philosopher, and know nothing of this
thing called love.”

The prince now repaired to the vault, where his friend the bat was
hanging by the heels, and propounded the same question. The bat wrinkled
up his nose into a most snappish expression. “Why do you disturb me in
my morning’s nap with such an idle question?” said he, peevishly. “I
only fly by twilight, when all birds are asleep, and never trouble
myself with their concerns. I am neither bird nor beast, and I thank
heaven for it. I have found out the villany of the whole of them, and
hate them one and all. In a word, I am a misanthrope--and know nothing
of this thing called love.”

As a last resort, the prince now sought the swallow, and stopped him
just as he was circling about the summit of the tower. The swallow, as
usual, was in a prodigious hurry, and had scarce time to make a reply.
“Upon my word,” said he, “I have so much public business to attend to,
and so many pursuits to follow, that I have had no time to think on the
subject. I have every day a thousand visits to pay; a thousand affairs
of importance to examine into, that leave me not a moment of leisure for
these little sing-song matters. In a word, I am a citizen of the
world--I know nothing of this thing called love.” So saying, the swallow
dived into the valley, and was out of sight in a moment.

The prince remained disappointed and perplexed, but with his curiosity
still more piqued by the difficulty of gratifying it. While in this
mood, his ancient guardian entered the tower. The prince advanced
eagerly to meet him. “O Eben Bonabben,” cried he, “thou hast revealed to
me much of the wisdom of the earth; but there is one thing of which I
remain in utter ignorance, and would fain be informed.”

“My prince has but to make the inquiry, and everything within the
limited range of his servant’s intellect is at his command.”

“Tell me then, O most profound of sages, what is the nature of this
thing called love?”

Eben Bonabben was struck as with a thunderbolt. He trembled and turned
pale, and felt as if his head sat but loosely on his shoulders.

“What could suggest such a question to my prince,--where could he have
learnt so idle a word?”

The prince led him to the window of the tower. “Listen, O Eben
Bonabben,” said he. The sage listened. The nightingale sat in a thicket
below the tower, singing to his paramour the rose; from every
blossomed spray and tufted grove rose a strain of melody; and
love--love--love--was still the unvarying strain.

“Allah Akbar! God is great!” exclaimed the wise Bonabben. “Who shall
pretend to keep this secret from the heart of man, when even the birds
of the air conspire to betray it?”

Then turning to Ahmed--“O my prince,” cried he, “shut thine ears to
these seductive strains. Close thy mind against this dangerous
knowledge. Know that this love is the cause of half the ills of wretched
mortality. It is this which produces bitterness and strife between
brethren and friends; which causes treacherous murder and desolating
war. Care and sorrow, weary days and sleepless nights, are its
attendants. It withers the bloom and blights the joy of youth, and
brings on the ills and griefs of premature old age. Allah preserve thee,
my prince, in total ignorance of this thing called love!”

The sage Eben Bonabben hastily retired, leaving the prince plunged in
still deeper perplexity. It was in vain he attempted to dismiss the
subject from his mind; it still continued uppermost in his thoughts, and
teased and exhausted him with vain conjectures. Surely, said he to
himself, as he listened to the tuneful strains of the birds, there is no
sorrow in those notes; everything seems tenderness and joy. If love be a
cause of such wretchedness and strife, why are not these birds drooping
in solitude, or tearing each other in pieces, instead of fluttering
cheerfully about the groves, or sporting with each other among flowers?

He lay one morning on his couch, meditating on this inexplicable matter.
The window of his chamber was open to admit the soft morning breeze,
which came laden with the perfume of orange-blossoms from the valley of
the Darro. The voice of the nightingale was faintly heard, still
chanting the wonted theme. As the prince was listening and sighing,
there was a sudden rushing noise in the air; a beautiful dove, pursued
by a hawk, darted in at the window, and fell panting on the floor, while
the pursuer, balked of his prey, soared off to the mountains.

The prince took up the gasping bird, smoothed its feathers, and nestled
it in his bosom. When he had soothed it by his caresses, he put it in a
golden cage, and offered it, with his own hands, the whitest and finest
of wheat and the purest of water. The bird, however, refused food, and
sat drooping and pining, and uttering piteous moans.

“What aileth thee?” said Ahmed. “Hast thou not everything thy heart can
wish?”

“Alas, no!” replied the dove; “am I not separated from the partner of my
heart, and that too in the happy spring-time, the very season of love!”

“Of love!” echoed Ahmed. “I pray thee, my pretty bird, canst thou then
tell me what is love?”

“Too well can I, my prince. It is the torment of one, the felicity of
two, the strife and enmity of three. It is a charm which draws two
beings together, and unites them by delicious sympathies, making it
happiness to be with each other, but misery to be apart. Is there no
being to whom you are drawn by these ties of tender affection?”

“I like my old teacher Eben Bonabben better than any other being; but he
is often tedious, and I occasionally feel myself happier without his
society.”

“That is not the sympathy I mean. I speak of love, the great mystery and
principle of life; the intoxicating revel of youth; the sober delight of
age. Look forth, my prince, and behold how at this blest season all
nature is full of love. Every created being has its mate; the most
insignificant bird sings to its paramour; the very beetle wooes its
lady-beetle in the dust, and yon butterflies which you see fluttering
high above the tower and toying in the air, are happy in each other’s
loves. Alas, my prince! hast thou spent so many of the precious days of
youth without knowing anything of love? Is there no gentle being of
another sex--no beautiful princess nor lovely damsel who has ensnared
your heart, and filled your bosom with a soft tumult of pleasing pains
and tender wishes?”

“I begin to understand,” said the prince, sighing; “such a tumult I have
more than once experienced, without knowing the cause; and where should
I seek for an object such as you describe, in this dismal solitude?”

A little further conversation ensued, and the first amatory lesson of
the prince was complete.

“Alas!” said he, “if love be indeed such a delight, and its interruption
such a misery, Allah forbid that I should mar the joy of any of its
votaries.” He opened the cage, took out the dove, and having fondly
kissed it, carried it to the window. “Go, happy bird,” said he, “rejoice
with the partner of thy heart in the days of youth and spring-time. Why
should I make thee a fellow-prisoner in this dreary tower, where love
can never enter?”

The dove flapped its wings in rapture, gave one vault into the air, and
then swooped downward on whistling wings to the blooming bowers of the
Darro.

The prince followed him with his eyes, and then gave way to bitter
repining. The singing of the birds, which once delighted him, now added
to his bitterness. Love! love! love! Alas, poor youth! he now understood
the strain.

His eyes flashed fire when next he beheld the sage Bonabben. “Why hast
thou kept me in this abject ignorance?” cried he. “Why has the great
mystery and principle of life been withheld from me, in which I find the
meanest insect is so learned? Behold all nature is in a revel of
delight. Every created being rejoices with its mate. This--this is the
love about which I have sought instruction. Why am I alone debarred its
enjoyment? Why has so much of my youth been wasted without a knowledge
of its raptures?”

The sage Bonabben saw that all further reserve was useless; for the
prince had acquired the dangerous and forbidden knowledge. He revealed
to him, therefore, the predictions of the astrologers, and the
precautions that had been taken in his education to avert the threatened
evils. “And now, my prince,” added he, “my life is in your hands. Let
the king your father discover that you have learned the passion of love
while under my guardianship, and my head must answer for it.”

The prince was as reasonable as most young men of his age, and easily
listened to the remonstrances of his tutor, since nothing pleaded
against them. Besides, he really was attached to Eben Bonabben, and
being as yet but theoretically acquainted with the passion of love, he
consented to confine the knowledge of it to his own bosom, rather than
endanger the head of the philosopher.

His discretion was doomed, however, to be put to still further proofs. A
few mornings afterwards, as he was ruminating on the battlements of the
tower, the dove which had been released by him came hovering in the air,
and alighted fearlessly upon his shoulder.

The prince fondled it to his heart. “Happy bird,” said he, “who can fly,
as it were, with the wings of the morning to the uttermost parts of the
earth. Where hast thou been since we parted?”

“In a far country, my prince, whence I bring you tidings in reward for
my liberty. In the wild compass of my flight, which extends over plain
and mountain, as I was soaring in the air, I beheld below me a
delightful garden with all kinds of fruits and flowers. It was in a
green meadow, on the banks of a wandering stream; and in the centre of
the garden was a stately palace. I alighted in one of the bowers to
repose after my weary flight. On the green bank below me was a youthful
princess, in the very sweetness and bloom of her years. She was
surrounded by female attendants, young like herself, who decked her
with garlands and coronets of flowers; but no flower of field or garden
could compare with her for loveliness. Here, however, she bloomed in
secret, for the garden was surrounded by high walls, and no mortal man
was permitted to enter. When I beheld this beauteous maid, thus young
and innocent and unspotted by the world, I thought, here is the being
formed by heaven to inspire my prince with love.”

The description was a spark of fire to the combustible heart of Ahmed;
all the latent amorousness of his temperament had at once found an
object, and he conceived an immeasurable passion for the princess. He
wrote a letter, couched in the most impassioned language, breathing his
fervent devotion, but bewailing the unhappy thraldom of his person,
which prevented him from seeking her out and throwing himself at her
feet. He added couplets of the most tender and moving eloquence, for he
was a poet by nature, and inspired by love. He addressed his letter--“To
the Unknown Beauty, from the captive Prince Ahmed”; then perfuming it
with musk and roses, he gave it to the dove.

“Away, trustiest of messengers!” said he. “Fly over mountain, and
valley, and river, and plain; rest not in bower, nor set foot on earth,
until thou hast given this letter to the mistress of my heart.”

The dove soared high in air, and taking his course darted away in one
undeviating direction. The prince followed him with his eye until he was
a mere speck on a cloud, and gradually disappeared behind a mountain.

Day after day he watched for the return of the messenger of love, but he
watched in vain. He began to accuse him of forgetfulness, when towards
sunset one evening the faithful bird fluttered into his apartment, and
falling at his feet expired. The arrow of some wanton archer had pierced
his breast, yet he had struggled with the lingerings of life to execute
his mission. As the prince bent with grief over this gentle martyr to
fidelity, he beheld a chain of pearls round his neck, attached to which,
beneath his wing, was a small enamelled picture. It represented a lovely
princess in the very flower of her years. It was doubtless the unknown
beauty of the garden; but who and where was she?--how had she received
his letter? and was this picture sent as a token of her approval of his
passion? Unfortunately the death of the faithful dove left everything in
mystery and doubt.

The prince gazed on the picture till his eyes swam with tears. He
pressed it to his lips and to his heart; he sat for hours contemplating
it almost in an agony of tenderness. “Beautiful image!” said he, “alas,
thou art but an image! Yet thy dewy eyes beam tenderly upon me; those
rosy lips look as though they would speak encouragement: vain fancies!
Have they not looked the same on some more happy rival? But where in
this wide world shall I hope to find the original? Who knows what
mountains, what realms may separate us; what adverse chances may
intervene? Perhaps now, even now, lovers may be crowding around her,
while I sit here a prisoner in a tower, wasting my time in adoration of
a painted shadow.”

The resolution of Prince Ahmed was taken. “I will fly from this palace,”
said he, “which has become an odious prison; and, a pilgrim of love,
will seek this unknown princess throughout the world.” To escape from
the tower in the day, when every one was awake, might be a difficult
matter; but at night the palace was slightly guarded; for no one
apprehended any attempt of the kind from the prince, who had always been
so passive in his captivity. How was he to guide himself, however, in
his darkling flight, being ignorant of the country? He bethought him of
the owl, who was accustomed to roam at night, and must know every
by-lane and secret pass. Seeking him in his hermitage, he questioned him
touching his knowledge of the land. Upon this the owl put on a mighty
self-important look. “You must know, O prince,” said he, “that we owls
are of a very ancient and extensive family, though rather fallen to
decay, and possess ruinous castles and palaces in all parts of Spain.
There is scarcely a tower of the mountains, or a fortress of the plains,
or an old citadel of a city, but has some brother, or uncle, or cousin,
quartered in it; and in going the rounds to visit this my numerous
kindred, I have pried into every nook and corner, and made myself
acquainted with every secret of the land.”

The prince was overjoyed to find the owl so deeply versed in topography,
and now informed him, in confidence, of his tender passion and his
intended elopement, urging him to be his companion and counsellor.

“Go to!” said the owl, with a look of displeasure; “am I a bird to
engage in a love-affair?--I, whose whole time is devoted to meditation
and the moon?”

“Be not offended, most solemn owl,” replied the prince; “abstract
thyself for a time from meditation and the moon, and aid me in my
flight, and thou shalt have whatever heart can wish.”

“I have that already,” said the owl: “a few mice are sufficient for my
frugal table, and this hole in the wall is spacious enough for my
studies; and what more does a philosopher like myself desire?”

“Bethink thee, most wise owl, that while moping in thy cell and gazing
at the moon, all thy talents are lost to the world. I shall one day be a
sovereign prince, and may advance thee to some post of honor and
dignity.”

The owl, though a philosopher and above the ordinary wants of life, was
not above ambition; so he was finally prevailed on to elope with the
prince, and be his guide and mentor in his pilgrimage.

The plans of a lover are promptly executed. The prince collected all his
jewels, and concealed them about his person as travelling funds. That
very night he lowered himself by his scarf from a balcony of the tower,
clambered over the outer walls of the Generalife, and, guided by the
owl, made good his escape before morning to the mountains.

He now held a council with his mentor as to his future course.

“Might I advise,” said the owl, “I would recommend you to repair to
Seville. You must know that many years since I was on a visit to an
uncle, an owl of great dignity and power, who lived in a ruined wing of
the Alcazar of that place. In my hoverings at night over the city I
frequently remarked a light burning in a lonely tower. At length I
alighted on the battlements, and found it to proceed from the lamp of an
Arabian magician: he was surrounded by his magic books, and on his
shoulder was perched his familiar, an ancient raven who had come with
him from Egypt. I am acquainted with that raven, and owe to him a great
part of the knowledge I possess. The magician is since dead, but the
raven still inhabits the tower, for these birds are of wonderful long
life. I would advise you, O prince, to seek that raven, for he is a
soothsayer and a conjurer, and deals in the black art, for which all
ravens, and especially those of Egypt, are renowned.”

The prince was struck with the wisdom of this advice, and accordingly
bent his course towards Seville. He travelled only in the night, to
accommodate his companion, and lay by during the day in some dark cavern
or mouldering watch-tower, for the owl knew every hiding-hole of the
kind, and had a most antiquarian taste for ruins.

At length one morning at daybreak they reached the city of Seville,
where the owl, who hated the glare and bustle of crowded streets,
halted without the gate, and took up his quarters in a hollow tree.

The prince entered the gate, and readily found the magic tower, which
rose above the houses of the city, as a palm-tree rises above the shrubs
of the desert; it was in fact the same tower standing at the present
day, and known as the Giralda, the famous Moorish tower of Seville.

The prince ascended by a great winding staircase to the summit of the
tower, where he found the cabalistic raven,--an old, mysterious,
gray-headed bird, ragged in feather, with a film over one eye that gave
him the glare of a spectre. He was perched on one leg, with his head
turned on one side, poring with his remaining eye on a diagram described
on the pavement.

The prince approached him with the awe and reverence naturally inspired
by his venerable appearance and supernatural wisdom. “Pardon me, most
ancient and darkly wise raven,” exclaimed he, “if for a moment I
interrupt those studies which are the wonder of the world. You behold
before you a votary of love, who would fain seek your counsel how to
obtain the object of his passion.”

“In other words,” said the raven, with a significant look, “you seek to
try my skill in palmistry. Come, show me your hand, and let me decipher
the mysterious lines of fortune.”

“Excuse me,” said the prince, “I come not to pry into the decrees of
fate, which are hidden by Allah from the eyes of mortals; I am a pilgrim
of love, and seek but to find a clue to the object of my pilgrimage.”

“And can you be at any loss for an object in amorous Andalusia?” said
the old raven, leering upon him with his single eye; “above all, can you
be at a loss in wanton Seville, where black-eyed damsels dance the
zambra under every orange grove?”

The prince blushed, and was somewhat shocked at hearing an old bird with
one foot in the grave talk thus loosely. “Believe me,” said he, gravely,
“I am on none such light and vagrant errand as thou dost insinuate. The
black-eyed damsels of Andalusia who dance among the orange groves of the
Guadalquivir are as naught to me. I seek one unknown but immaculate
beauty, the original of this picture; and I beseech thee, most potent
raven, if it be within the scope of thy knowledge or the reach of thy
art, inform me where she may be found.”

The gray-headed raven was rebuked by the gravity of the prince.

“What know I,” replied he, dryly, “of youth and beauty? my visits are to
the old and withered, not the fresh and fair: the harbinger of fate am
I; who croak bodings of death from the chimney-top, and flap my wings at
the sick man’s window. You must seek elsewhere for tidings of your
unknown beauty.”

“And where can I seek if not among the sons of wisdom, versed in the
book of destiny? Know that I am a royal prince, fated by the stars, and
sent on a mysterious enterprise on which may hang the destiny of
empires.”

When the raven heard that it was a matter of vast moment, in which the
stars took interest, he changed his tone and manner, and listened with
profound attention to the story of the prince. When it was concluded, he
replied, “Touching this princess, I can give thee no information of
myself, for my flight is not among gardens, or around ladies’ bowers;
but hie thee to Cordova, seek the palm-tree of the great Abderahman,
which stands in the court of the principal mosque: at the foot of it
thou wilt find a great traveller who has visited all countries and
courts, and been a favorite with queens and princesses. He will give
thee tidings of the object of thy search.”

“Many thanks for this precious information,” said the prince. “Farewell,
most venerable conjurer.”

“Farewell, pilgrim of love,” said the raven, dryly, and again fell to
pondering on the diagram.

The prince sallied forth from Seville, sought his fellow-traveller the
owl, who was still dozing in the hollow tree, and set off for Cordova.

He approached it along hanging gardens, and orange and citron groves,
overlooking the fair valley of the Guadalquivir. When arrived at its
gates the owl flew up to a dark hole in the wall, and the prince
proceeded in quest of the palm-tree planted in days of yore by the great
Abderahman. It stood in the midst of the great court of the mosque,
towering from amidst orange and cypress trees. Dervises and Faquirs were
seated in groups under the cloisters of the court, and many of the
faithful were performing their ablutions at the fountains before
entering the mosque.

At the foot of the palm-tree was a crowd listening to the words of one
who appeared to be talking with great volubility. “This,” said the
prince to himself, “must be the great traveller who is to give me
tidings of the unknown princess.” He mingled in the crowd, but was
astonished to perceive that they were all listening to a parrot, who
with his bright-green coat, pragmatical eye, and consequential top-knot,
had the air of a bird on excellent terms with himself.

“How is this,” said the prince to one of the bystanders, “that so many
grave persons can be delighted with the garrulity of a chattering bird?”

“You know not whom you speak of,” said the other; “this parrot is a
descendant of the famous parrot of Persia, renowned for his
story-telling talent. He has all the learning of the East at the tip of
his tongue, and can quote poetry as fast as he can talk. He has visited
various foreign courts, where he has been considered an oracle of
erudition. He has been a universal favorite also with the fair sex, who
have a vast admiration for erudite parrots that can quote poetry.”

“Enough,” said the prince, “I will have some private talk with this
distinguished traveller.”

He sought a private interview, and expounded the nature of his errand.
He had scarcely mentioned it when the parrot burst into a fit of dry
rickety laughter, that absolutely brought tears into his eyes. “Excuse
my merriment,” said he, “but the mere mention of love always sets me
laughing.”

The prince was shocked at this ill-timed mirth. “Is not love,” said he,
“the great mystery of nature, the secret principle of life, the
universal bond of sympathy?”

“A fig’s end!” cried the parrot, interrupting him; “prithee where hast
thou learned this sentimental jargon? trust me, love is quite out of
vogue; one never hears of it in the company of wits and people of
refinement.”

The prince sighed as he recalled the different language of his friend
the dove. But this parrot, thought he, has lived about the court, he
affects the wit and the fine gentleman, he knows nothing of the thing
called love. Unwilling to provoke any more ridicule of the sentiment
which filled his heart, he now directed his inquiries to the immediate
purport of his visit.

“Tell me,” said he, “most accomplished parrot, thou who hast everywhere
been admitted to the most secret bowers of beauty, hast thou in the
course of thy travels met with the original of this portrait?”

The parrot took the picture in his claw, turned his head from side to
side, and examined it curiously with either eye. “Upon my honor,” said
he, “a very pretty face, very pretty; but then one sees so many pretty
women in one’s travels that one can hardly--but hold--bless me! now I
look at it again--sure enough, this is the Princess Aldegonda: how could
I forget one that is so prodigious a favorite with me!”

“The Princess Aldegonda!” echoed the prince; “and where is she to be
found?”

“Softly, softly,” said the parrot, “easier to be found than gained. She
is the only daughter of the Christian king who reigns at Toledo, and is
shut up from the world until her seventeenth birthday, on account of
some prediction of those meddlesome fellows the astrologers. You’ll not
get a sight of her; no mortal man can see her. I was admitted to her
presence to entertain her, and I assure you, on the word of a parrot who
has seen the world, I have conversed with much sillier princesses in my
time.”

“A word in confidence, my dear parrot,” said the prince. “I am heir to a
kingdom, and shall one day sit upon a throne. I see that you are a bird
of parts, and understand the world. Help me to gain possession of this
princess, and I will advance you to some distinguished place about
court.”

“With all my heart,” said the parrot; “but let it be a sinecure if
possible, for we wits have a great dislike to labor.”

Arrangements were promptly made: the prince sallied forth from Cordova
through the same gate by which he had entered; called the owl down from
the hole in the wall, introduced him to his new travelling companion as
a brother savant, and away they set off on their journey.

They travelled much more slowly than accorded with the impatience of the
prince; but the parrot was accustomed to high life, and did not like to
be disturbed early in the morning. The owl, on the other hand, was for
sleeping at mid-day, and lost a great deal of time by his long siestas.
His antiquarian taste also was in the way; for he insisted on pausing
and inspecting every ruin, and had long legendary tales to tell about
every old tower and castle in the country. The prince had supposed that
he and the parrot, being both birds of learning, would delight in each
other’s society, but never had he been more mistaken. They were
eternally bickering. The one was a wit, the other a philosopher. The
parrot quoted poetry, was critical on new readings and eloquent on small
points of erudition; the owl treated all such knowledge as trifling, and
relished nothing but metaphysics. Then the parrot would sing songs and
repeat _bon mots_ and crack jokes upon his solemn neighbor, and laugh
outrageously at his own wit; all which proceedings the owl considered as
a grievous invasion of his dignity, and would scowl and sulk and swell,
and be silent for a whole day together.

The prince heeded not the wranglings of his companions, being wrapped up
in the dreams of his own fancy and the contemplation of the portrait of
the beautiful princess. In this way they journeyed through the stern
passes of the Sierra Morena, across the sunburnt plains of La Mancha and
Castile, and along the banks of the “Golden Tagus,” which winds its
wizard mazes over one half of Spain and Portugal. At length they came in
sight of a strong city with walls and towers built on a rocky
promontory, round the foot of which the Tagus circled with brawling
violence.

“Behold,” exclaimed the owl, “the ancient and renowned city of Toledo; a
city famous for its antiquities. Behold those venerable domes and
towers, hoary with time and clothed with legendary grandeur, in which so
many of my ancestors have meditated.”

“Pish!” cried the parrot, interrupting his solemn antiquarian rapture,
“what have we to do with antiquities, and legends, and your ancestry?
Behold what is more to the purpose--behold the abode of youth and
beauty--behold at length, O prince, the abode of your long-sought
princess.”

The prince looked in the direction indicated by the parrot, and beheld,
in a delightful green meadow on the banks of the Tagus, a stately
palace rising from amidst the bowers of a delicious garden. It was just
such a place as had been described by the dove as the residence of the
original of the picture. He gazed at it with a throbbing heart; “perhaps
at this moment,” thought he, “the beautiful princess is sporting beneath
those shady bowers, or pacing with delicate step those stately terraces,
or reposing beneath those lofty roofs!” As he looked more narrowly, he
perceived that the walls of the garden were of great height, so as to
defy access, while numbers of armed guards patrolled around them.

The prince turned to the parrot. “O most accomplished of birds,” said
he, “thou hast the gift of human speech. Hie thee to yon garden; seek
the idol of my soul, and tell her that Prince Ahmed, a pilgrim of love,
and guided by the stars, has arrived in quest of her on the flowery
banks of the Tagus.”

The parrot, proud of his embassy, flew away to the garden, mounted above
its lofty walls, and after soaring for a time over the lawns and groves,
alighted on the balcony of a pavilion that overhung the river. Here,
looking in at the casement, he beheld the princess reclining on a couch,
with her eyes fixed on a paper, while tears gently stole after each
other down her pallid cheek.

Pluming his wings for a moment, adjusting his bright-green coat, and
elevating his top-knot, the parrot perched himself beside her with a
gallant air; then assuming a tenderness of tone, “Dry thy tears, most
beautiful of princesses,” said he; “I come to bring solace to thy
heart.”

The princess was startled on hearing a voice, but turning and seeing
nothing but a little green-coated bird bobbing and bowing before her,
“Alas! what solace canst thou yield,” said she, “seeing thou art but a
parrot?”

The parrot was nettled at the question. “I have consoled many beautiful
ladies in my time,” said he; “but let that pass. At present I come
ambassador from a royal prince. Know that Ahmed, the prince of Granada,
has arrived in quest of thee, and is encamped even now on the flowery
banks of the Tagus.”

The eyes of the beautiful princess sparkled at these words even brighter
than the diamonds in her coronet. “O sweetest of parrots,” cried she,
“joyful indeed are thy tidings, for I was faint and weary, and sick
almost unto death with doubt of the constancy of Ahmed. Hie thee back,
and tell him that the words of his letter are engraven in my heart, and
his poetry has been the food of my soul. Tell him, however, that he must
prepare to prove his love by force of arms; to-morrow is my seventeenth
birthday, when the king my father holds a great tournament; several
princes are to enter the lists, and my hand is to be the prize of the
victor.”

The parrot again took wing, and rustling through the groves, flew back
to where the prince awaited his return. The rapture of Ahmed on finding
the original of his adored portrait, and finding her kind and true, can
only be conceived by those favored mortals who have had the good fortune
to realize day-dreams and turn a shadow into substance: still there was
one thing that alloyed his transport--this impending tournament. In
fact, the banks of the Tagus were already glittering with arms, and
resounding with trumpets of the various knights, who, with proud
retinues, were prancing on towards Toledo to attend the ceremonial. The
same star that had controlled the destiny of the prince had governed
that of the princess, and until her seventeenth birthday she had been
shut up from the world, to guard her from the tender passion. The fame
of her charms, however, had been enhanced rather than obscured by this
seclusion. Several powerful princes had contended for her hand; and her
father, who was a king of wondrous shrewdness, to avoid making enemies
by showing partiality, had referred them to the arbitrament of arms.
Among the rival candidates were several renowned for strength and
prowess. What a predicament for the unfortunate Ahmed, unprovided as he
was with weapons, and unskilled in the exercise of chivalry! “Luckless
prince that I am!” said he, “to have been brought up in seclusion under
the eye of a philosopher! Of what avail are algebra and philosophy in
affairs of love? Alas, Eben Bonabben! why hast thou neglected to
instruct me in the management of arms?” Upon this the owl broke silence,
preluding his harangue with a pious ejaculation, for he was a devout
Mussulman.

“Allah Akbar! God is great!” exclaimed he; “in his hands are all secret
things--he alone governs the destiny of princes! Know, O prince, that
this land is full of mysteries, hidden from all but those who, like
myself, can grope after knowledge in the dark. Know that in the
neighboring mountains there is a cave, and in that cave there is an iron
table, and on that table there lies a suit of magic armor, and beside
that table there stands a spell-bound steed, which have been shut up
there for many generations.”

The prince stared with wonder, while the owl, blinking his huge round
eyes, and erecting his horns, proceeded.

“Many years since I accompanied my father to these parts on a tour of
his estates, and we sojourned in that cave; and thus became I acquainted
with the mystery. It is a tradition in our family which I have heard
from my grandfather, when I was yet but a very little owlet, that this
armor belonged to a Moorish magician, who took refuge in this cavern
when Toledo was captured by the Christians, and died here, leaving his
steed and weapons under a mystic spell, never to be used but by a
Moslem, and by him only from sunrise to mid-day. In that interval,
whoever uses them will overthrow every opponent.”

“Enough: let us seek this cave!” exclaimed Ahmed.

Guided by his legendary mentor, the prince found the cavern, which was
in one of the wildest recesses of those rocky cliffs which rise around
Toledo; none but the mousing eye of an owl or an antiquary could have
discovered the entrance to it. A sepulchral lamp of everlasting oil shed
a solemn light through the place. On an iron table in the centre of the
cavern lay the magic armor, against it leaned the lance, and beside it
stood an Arabian steed, caparisoned for the field, but motionless as a
statue. The armor was bright and unsullied as it had gleamed in days of
old; the steed in as good condition as if just from the pasture; and
when Ahmed laid his hand upon his neck, he pawed the ground and gave a
loud neigh of joy that shook the walls of the cavern. Thus amply
provided with “horse and rider and weapon to wear,” the prince
determined to defy the field in the impending tourney.

The eventful morning arrived. The lists for the combat were prepared in
the Vega, or plain, just below the cliff-built walls of Toledo, where
stages and galleries were erected for the spectators, covered with rich
tapestry, and sheltered from the sun by silken awnings. All the beauties
of the land were assembled in those galleries, while below pranced
plumed knights with their pages and esquires, among whom figured
conspicuously the princes who were to contend in the tourney. All the
beauties of the land, however, were eclipsed when the Princess Aldegonda
appeared in the royal pavilion, and for the first time broke forth upon
the gaze of an admiring world. A murmur of wonder ran through the crowd
at her transcendent loveliness; and the princes who were candidates for
her hand, merely on the faith of her reported charms, now felt tenfold
ardor for the conflict.

The princess, however, had a troubled look. The color came and went from
her cheek, and her eye wandered with a restless and unsatisfied
expression over the plumed throng of knights. The trumpets were about
sounding for the encounter, when the herald announced the arrival of a
strange knight; and Ahmed rode into the field. A steel helmet studded
with gems rose above his turban; his cuirass was embossed with gold; his
cimeter and dagger were of the workmanship of Fez, and flamed with
precious stones. A round shield was at his shoulder, and in his hand he
bore the lance of charmed virtue. The caparison of his Arabian steed was
richly embroidered and swept the ground, and the proud animal pranced
and snuffed the air, and neighed with joy at once more beholding the
array of arms. The lofty and graceful demeanor of the prince struck
every eye, and when his appellation was announced, “The Pilgrim of
Love,” a universal flutter and agitation prevailed among the fair dames
in the galleries.

When Ahmed presented himself at the lists, however, they were closed
against him: none but princes, he was told, were admitted to the
contest. He declared his name and rank. Still worse!--he was a Moslem,
and could not engage in a tourney where the hand of a Christian princess
was the prize.

The rival princes surrounded him with haughty and menacing aspects; and
one of insolent demeanor and herculean frame sneered at his light and
youthful form, and scoffed at his amorous appellation. The ire of the
prince was roused. He defied his rival to the encounter. They took
distance, wheeled, and charged; and at the first touch of the magic
lance, the brawny scoffer was tilted from his saddle. Here the prince
would have paused, but, alas! he had to deal with a demoniac horse and
armor; once in action, nothing could control them. The Arabian steed
charged into the thickest of the throng; the lance overturned everything
that presented; the gentle prince was carried pell-mell about the field,
strewing it with high and low, gentle and simple, and grieving at his
own involuntary exploits. The king stormed and raged at this outrage on
his subjects and his guests. He ordered out all his guards--they were
unhorsed as fast as they came up. The king threw off his robes, grasped
buckler and lance, and rode forth to awe the stranger with the presence
of majesty itself. Alas! majesty fared no better than the vulgar; the
steed and lance were no respecters of persons; to the dismay of Ahmed,
he was borne full tilt against the king, and in a moment the royal heels
were in the air, and the crown was rolling in the dust.

At this moment the sun reached the meridian; the magic spell resumed its
power; the Arabian steed scoured across the plain, leaped the barrier,
plunged into the Tagus, swam its raging current, bore the prince
breathless and amazed to the cavern, and resumed his station, like a
statue, beside the iron table. The prince dismounted right gladly, and
replaced the armor, to abide the further decrees of fate. Then seating
himself in the cavern, he ruminated on the desperate state to which this
demoniac steed and armor had reduced him. Never should he dare to show
his face at Toledo after inflicting such disgrace upon its chivalry and
such an outrage on its king. What too would the princess think of so
rude and riotous an achievement? Full of anxiety, he sent forth his
winged messengers to gather tidings. The parrot resorted to all the
public places and crowded resorts of the city, and soon returned with a
world of gossip. All Toledo was in consternation. The princess had been
borne off senseless to the palace; the tournament had ended in
confusion; every one was talking of the sudden apparition, prodigious
exploits, and strange disappearance of the Moslem knight. Some
pronounced him a Moorish magician; others thought him a demon who had
assumed a human shape, while others related traditions of enchanted
warriors hidden in the caves of the mountains, and thought it might be
one of these, who had made a sudden irruption from his den. All agreed
that no mere ordinary mortal could have wrought such wonders, or
unhorsed such accomplished and stalwart Christian warriors.

The owl flew forth at night and hovered about the dusky city, perching
on the roofs and chimneys. He then wheeled his flight up to the royal
palace, which stood on a rocky summit of Toledo, and went prowling about
its terraces and battlements, eavesdropping at every cranny, and glaring
in with his big goggling eyes at every window where there was a light,
so as to throw two or three maids of honor into fits. It was not until
the gray dawn began to peer above the mountains that he returned from
his mousing expedition, and related to the prince what he had seen.

“As I was prying about one of the loftiest towers of the palace,” said
he, “I beheld through a casement a beautiful princess. She was reclining
on a couch with attendants and physicians around her, but she would none
of their ministry and relief. When they retired, I beheld her draw forth
a letter from her bosom, and read and kiss it, and give way to loud
lamentations; at which, philosopher as I am, I could but be greatly
moved.”

The tender heart of Ahmed was distressed at these tidings. “Too true
were thy words, O sage Eben Bonabben,” cried he; “care and sorrow and
sleepless nights are the lot of lovers. Allah preserve the princess from
the blighting influence of this thing called love!”

Further intelligence from Toledo corroborated the report of the owl. The
city was a prey to uneasiness and alarm. The princess was conveyed to
the highest tower of the palace, every avenue to which was strongly
guarded. In the mean time a devouring melancholy had seized upon her, of
which no one could divine the cause--she refused food and turned a deaf
ear to every consolation. The most skilful physicians had essayed their
art in vain; it was thought some magic spell had been practised upon
her, and the king made proclamation, declaring that whoever should
effect her cure should receive the richest jewel in the royal treasury.

When the owl, who was dozing in a corner, heard of this proclamation, he
rolled his large eyes and looked more mysterious than ever.

“Allah Akbar!” exclaimed he, “happy the man that shall effect that cure,
should he but know what to choose from the royal treasury.”

“What mean you, most reverend owl?” said Ahmed.

“Hearken, O prince, to what I shall relate. We owls, you must know, are
a learned body, and much given to dark and dusty research. During my
late prowling at night about the domes and turrets of Toledo, I
discovered a college of antiquarian owls, who hold their meetings in a
great vaulted tower where the royal treasury is deposited. Here they
were discussing the forms and inscriptions and designs of ancient gems
and jewels, and of golden and silver vessels, heaped up in the treasury,
the fashion of every country and age; but mostly they were interested
about certain relics and talismans that have remained in the treasury
since the time of Roderick the Goth. Among these was a box of
sandal-wood secured by bands of steel of Oriental workmanship, and
inscribed with mystic characters known only to the learned few. This
box and its inscription had occupied the college for several sessions,
and had caused much long and grave dispute. At the time of my visit a
very ancient owl, who had recently arrived from Egypt, was seated on the
lid of the box, lecturing upon the inscription, and he proved from it
that the coffer contained the silken carpet of the throne of Solomon the
Wise; which doubtless had been brought to Toledo by the Jews who took
refuge there after the downfall of Jerusalem.”

When the owl had concluded his antiquarian harangue, the prince remained
for a time absorbed in thought. “I have heard,” said he, “from the sage
Eben Bonabben, of the wonderful properties of that talisman, which
disappeared at the fall of Jerusalem, and was supposed to be lost to
mankind. Doubtless it remains a sealed mystery to the Christians of
Toledo. If I can get possession of that carpet, my fortune is secure.”

The next day the prince laid aside his rich attire, and arrayed himself
in the simple garb of an Arab of the desert. He dyed his complexion to a
tawny hue, and no one could have recognized in him the splendid warrior
who had caused such admiration and dismay at the tournament. With staff
in hand, and scrip by his side, and a small pastoral reed, he repaired
to Toledo, and presenting himself at the gate of the royal palace,
announced himself as a candidate for the reward offered for the cure of
the princess. The guards would have driven him away with blows. “What
can a vagrant Arab like thyself pretend to do,” said they, “in a case
where the most learned of the land have failed?” The king, however,
overheard the tumult, and ordered the Arab to be brought into his
presence.

“Most potent king,” said Ahmed, “you behold before you a Bedouin Arab,
the greater part of whose life has been passed in the solitudes of the
desert. These solitudes, it is well known, are the haunts of demons and
evil spirits, who beset us poor shepherds in our lonely watchings, enter
into and possess our flocks and herds, and sometimes render even the
patient camel furious; against these, our counter-charm is music; and we
have legendary airs handed down from generation to generation, that we
chant and pipe, to cast forth these evil spirits. I am of a gifted line,
and possess this power in its fullest force. If it be any evil influence
of the kind that holds a spell over thy daughter, I pledge my head to
free her from its sway.”

The king, who was a man of understanding, and knew the wonderful secrets
possessed by the Arabs, was inspired with hope by the confident language
of the prince. He conducted him immediately to the lofty tower, secured
by several doors, in the summit of which was the chamber of the
princess. The windows opened upon a terrace with balustrades, commanding
a view over Toledo and all the surrounding country. The windows were
darkened, for the princess lay within, a prey to a devouring grief that
refused all alleviation.

The prince seated himself on the terrace, and performed several wild
Arabian airs on his pastoral pipe, which he had learnt from his
attendants in the Generalife at Granada. The princess continued
insensible, and the doctors who were present shook their heads, and
smiled with incredulity and contempt: at length the prince laid aside
the reed, and, to a simple melody, chanted the amatory verses of the
letter which had declared his passion.

The princess recognized the strain--a fluttering joy stole to her heart;
she raised her head and listened; tears rushed to her eyes and streamed
down her cheeks; her bosom rose and fell with a tumult of emotions. She
would have asked for the minstrel to be brought into her presence, but
maiden coyness held her silent. The king read her wishes, and at his
command Ahmed was conducted into the chamber. The lovers were discreet:
they but exchanged glances, yet those glances spoke volumes. Never was
triumph of music more complete. The rose had returned to the soft cheek
of the princess, the freshness to her lip, and the dewy light to her
languishing eyes.

All the physicians present stared at each other with astonishment. The
king regarded the Arab minstrel with admiration mixed with awe.
“Wonderful youth!” exclaimed he, “thou shalt henceforth be the first
physician of my court, and no other prescription will I take but thy
melody. For the present receive thy reward, the most precious jewel in
my treasury.”

“O king,” replied Ahmed, “I care not for silver or gold or precious
stones. One relic hast thou in thy treasury, handed down from the
Moslems who once owned Toledo--a box of sandal-wood containing a silken
carpet: give me that box, and I am content.”

All present were surprised at the moderation of the Arab, and still more
when the box of sandal-wood was brought and the carpet drawn forth. It
was of fine green silk, covered with Hebrew and Chaldaic characters. The
court physicians looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and
smiled at the simplicity of this new practitioner, who could be content
with so paltry a fee.

“This carpet,” said the prince, “once covered the throne of Solomon the
Wise; it is worthy of being placed beneath the feet of beauty.”

So saying, he spread it on the terrace beneath an ottoman that had been
brought forth for the princess; then seating himself at her feet--

“Who,” said he, “shall counteract what is written in the book of fate?
Behold the prediction of the astrologers verified. Know, O king, that
your daughter and I have long loved each other in secret. Behold in me
the Pilgrim of Love!”

These words were scarcely from his lips when the carpet rose in the air,
bearing off the prince and princess. The king and the physicians gazed
after it with open mouths and straining eyes until it became a little
speck on the white bosom of a cloud, and then disappeared in the blue
vault of heaven.

The king in a rage summoned his treasurer. “How is this,” said he, “that
thou hast suffered an infidel to get possession of such a talisman?”

“Alas, sir, we knew not its nature, nor could we decipher the
inscription of the box. If it be indeed the carpet of the throne of the
wise Solomon, it is possessed of magic power, and can transport its
owner from place to place through the air.”

The king assembled a mighty army, and set off for Granada in pursuit of
the fugitives. His march was long and toilsome. Encamping in the Vega,
he sent a herald to demand restitution of his daughter. The king himself
came forth with all his court to meet him. In the king he beheld the
real minstrel, for Ahmed had succeeded to the throne on the death of his
father, and the beautiful Aldegonda was his sultana.

The Christian king was easily pacified when he found that his daughter
was suffered to continue in her faith; not that he was particularly
pious, but religion is always a point of pride and etiquette with
princes. Instead of bloody battles, there was a succession of feasts and
rejoicings, after which the king returned well pleased to Toledo, and
the youthful couple continued to reign as happily as wisely, in the
Alhambra.

It is proper to add, that the owl and the parrot had severally followed
the prince by easy stages to Granada; the former travelling by night,
and stopping at the various hereditary possessions of his family; the
latter figuring in gay circles of every town and city on his route.

Ahmed gratefully requited the services which they had rendered on his
pilgrimage. He appointed the owl his prime minister, the parrot his
master of ceremonies. It is needless to say that never was a realm more
sagely administered, nor a court conducted with more exact punctilio.



A RAMBLE AMONG THE HILLS


I used frequently to amuse myself towards the close of the day, when the
heat had subsided, with taking long rambles about the neighboring hills
and the deep umbrageous valleys, accompanied by my historiographic
squire, Mateo, to whose passion for gossiping I on such occasions gave
the most unbounded license; and there was scarce a rock, or ruin, or
broken fountain, or lonely glen, about which he had not some marvellous
story; or, above all, some golden legend; for never was poor devil so
munificent in dispensing hidden treasures.

In the course of one of these strolls Mateo was more than usually
communicative. It was toward sunset that we sallied forth from the great
Gate of Justice, and ascended an alley of trees until we came to a clump
of figs and pomegranates at the foot of the Tower of the Seven Floors
(de los siete suelos), the identical tower whence Boabdil is said to
have issued, when he surrendered his capital. Here, pointing to a low
archway in the foundation, Mateo informed me of a monstrous sprite or
hobgoblin, said to infest this tower, ever since the time of the Moors,
and to guard the treasures of a Moslem king. Sometimes it issues forth
in the dead of the night, and scours the avenues of the Alhambra, and
the streets of Granada, in the shape of a headless horse, pursued by six
dogs with terrible yells and howlings.

“But have you ever met with it yourself, Mateo, in any of your rambles?”
demanded I.

“No, Señor, God be thanked! but my grandfather, the tailor, knew several
persons that had seen it, for it went about much oftener in his time
than at present; sometimes in one shape, sometimes in another. Everybody
in Granada has heard of the Belludo, for the old women and the nurses
frighten the children with it when they cry. Some say it is the spirit
of a cruel Moorish king, who killed his six sons and buried them in
these vaults, and that they hunt him at nights in revenge.”

I forbear to dwell upon the marvellous details given by the
simple-minded Mateo about this redoubtable phantom, which has, in fact,
been time out of mind a favorite theme of nursery tales and popular
tradition in Granada, and of which honorable mention is made by an
ancient and learned historian and topographer of the place.

Leaving this eventful pile, we continued our course, skirting the
fruitful orchards of the Generalife, in which two or three nightingales
were pouring forth a rich strain of melody. Behind these orchards we
passed a number of Moorish tanks, with a door cut into the rocky bosom
of the hill, but closed up. These tanks, Mateo informed me, were
favorite bathing-places of himself and his comrades in boyhood, until
frightened away by a story of a hideous Moor, who used to issue forth
from the door in the rock to entrap unwary bathers.

Leaving these haunted tanks behind us, we pursued our ramble up a
solitary mule-path winding among the hills, and soon found ourselves
amidst wild and melancholy mountains, destitute of trees, and here and
there tinted with scanty verdure. Everything within sight was severe and
sterile, and it was scarcely possible to realize the idea that but a
short distance behind us was the Generalife, with its blooming orchards
and terraced gardens, and that we were in the vicinity of delicious
Granada, that city of groves and fountains. But such is the nature of
Spain; wild and stern the moment it escapes from cultivation; the desert
and the garden are ever side by side.

The narrow defile up which we were passing is called, according to
Mateo, _el Barranco de la tinaja_, or the ravine of the jar, because a
jar full of Moorish gold was found here in old times. The brain of poor
Mateo was continually running upon these golden legends.

“But what is the meaning of the cross I see yonder upon a heap of
stones, in that narrow part of the ravine?”

“Oh, that’s nothing--a muleteer was murdered there some years since.”

“So then, Mateo, you have robbers and murderers even at the gates of the
Alhambra?”

“Not at present, Señor; that was formerly, when there used to be many
loose fellows about the fortress; but they’ve all been weeded out. Not
but that the gypsies who live in caves in the hill-sides, just out of
the fortress, are many of them fit for anything; but we have had no
murder about here for a long time past. The man who murdered the
muleteer was hanged in the fortress.”

Our path continued up the barranco, with a bold, rugged height to our
left, called the “Silla del Moro,” or Chair of the Moor, from the
tradition already alluded to, that the unfortunate Boabdil fled thither
during a popular insurrection, and remained all day seated on the rocky
summit, looking mournfully down on his factious city.

We at length arrived on the highest part of the promontory above
Granada, called the mountain of the sun. The evening was approaching;
the setting sun just gilded the loftiest heights. Here and there a
solitary shepherd might be descried driving his flock down the
declivities, to be folded for the night; or a muleteer and his lagging
animals, threading some mountain path to arrive at the city gates before
nightfall.

Presently the deep tones of the Cathedral bell came swelling up the
defiles, proclaiming the hour of “oration” or prayer. The note was
responded to from the belfry of every church, and from the sweet bells
of the convents among the mountains. The shepherd paused on the fold of
the hill, the muleteer in the midst of the road; each took off his hat
and remained motionless for a time, murmuring his evening prayer. There
is always something pleasingly solemn in this custom, by which, at a
melodious signal, every human being throughout the land unites at the
same moment in a tribute of thanks to God for the mercies of the day. It
spreads a transient sanctity over the land, and the sight of the sun
sinking in all his glory adds not a little to the solemnity of the
scene.

In the present instance the effect was heightened by the wild and lonely
nature of the place. We were on the naked and broken summit of the
haunted mountain of the sun, where ruined tanks and cisterns, and the
mouldering foundations of extensive buildings, spoke of former
populousness, but where all was now silent and desolate.

As we were wandering about among these traces of old times, we came to a
circular pit, penetrating deep into the bosom of the mountain; which
Mateo pointed out as one of the wonders and mysteries of the place. I
supposed it to be a well dug by the indefatigable Moors, to obtain their
favorite element in its greatest purity. Mateo, however, had a different
story, and one much more to his humor. According to a tradition, in
which his father and grandfather firmly believed, this was an entrance
to the subterranean caverns of the mountain, in which Boabdil and his
court lay bound in magic spell, and whence they sallied forth at night,
at allotted times, to revisit their ancient abodes.

“Ah, Señor, this mountain is full of wonders of the kind. In another
place there was a hole somewhat like this, and just within it hung an
iron pot by a chain; nobody knew what was in that pot, for it was always
covered up; but everybody supposed it full of Moorish gold. Many tried
to draw it forth, for it seemed just within reach; but the moment it was
touched it would sink far, far down, and not come up again for some
time. At last one who thought it must be enchanted touched it with the
cross, by way of breaking the charm; and faith he did break it, for the
pot sank out of sight and never was seen any more.

“All this is fact, Señor; for my grandfather was an eye-witness.”

“What! Mateo; did he see the pot?”

“No, Señor, but he saw the hole where the pot had hung.”

“It’s the same thing, Mateo.”

The deepening twilight, which in this climate is of short duration,
admonished us to leave this haunted ground. As we descended the mountain
defile, there was no longer herdsman nor muleteer to be seen, nor
anything to be heard but our own footsteps and the lonely chirping of
the cricket. The shadows of the valley grew deeper and deeper, until all
was dark around us. The lofty summit of the Sierra Nevada alone
retained a lingering gleam of daylight; its snowy peaks glaring against
the dark blue firmament, and seeming close to us, from the extreme
purity of the atmosphere.

“How near the Sierra looks this evening!” said Mateo; “it seems as if
you could touch it with your hand; and yet it is many long leagues off.”
While he was speaking, a star appeared over the snowy summit of the
mountain, the only one yet visible in the heavens, and so pure, so
large, so bright and beautiful, as to call forth ejaculations of delight
from honest Mateo.

“Que estrella hermosa! que clara y limpia es!--No pueda ser estrella mas
brillante!”

(What a beautiful star! how clear and lucid!--a star could not be more
brilliant!)

I have often remarked this sensibility of the common people of Spain to
the charms of natural objects. The lustre of a star, the beauty or
fragrance of a flower, the crystal purity of a fountain, will inspire
them with a kind of poetical delight; and then, what euphonious words
their magnificent language affords, with which to give utterance to
their transports!

“But what lights are those, Mateo, which I see twinkling along the
Sierra Nevada, just below the snowy region, and which might be taken for
stars, only that they are ruddy, and against the dark side of the
mountain?”

“Those, Señor, are fires, made by the men who gather snow and ice for
the supply of Granada. They go up every afternoon with mules and asses,
and take turns, some to rest and warm themselves by the fires, while
others fill the panniers with ice. They then set off down the mountains,
so as to reach the gates of Granada before sunrise. That Sierra Nevada,
Señor, is a lump of ice in the middle of Andalusia, to keep it all cool
in summer.”

It was now completely dark; we were passing through the barranco, where
stood the cross of the murdered muleteer, when I beheld a number of
lights moving at a distance, and apparently advancing up the ravine. On
nearer approach they proved to be torches borne by a train of uncouth
figures arrayed in black: it would have been a procession dreary enough
at any time, but was peculiarly so in this wild and solitary place.

Mateo drew near, and told me, in a low voice, that it was a funeral
train bearing a corpse to the burying-ground among the hills.

As the procession passed by, the lugubrious light of the torches,
falling on the rugged features and funeral-weeds of the attendants, had
the most fantastic effect, but was perfectly ghastly, as it revealed the
countenance of the corpse, which, according to the Spanish custom, was
borne uncovered on an open bier. I remained for some time gazing after
the dreary train as it wound up the dark defile of the mountain. It put
me in mind of the old story of a procession of demons bearing the body
of a sinner up the crater of Stromboli.

“Ah! Señor,” cried Mateo, “I could tell you a story of a procession once
seen among these mountains, but then you’d laugh at me, and say it was
one of the legacies of my grandfather the tailor.”

“By no means, Mateo. There is nothing I relish more than a marvellous
tale.”

“Well, Señor, it is about one of those very men we have been talking of,
who gather snow on the Sierra Nevada.

“You must know, that a great many years since, in my grandfather’s time,
there was an old fellow, Tio Nicolo [Uncle Nicholas] by name, who had
filled the panniers of his mule with snow and ice, and was returning
down the mountain. Being very drowsy, he mounted upon the mule, and soon
falling asleep, went with his head nodding and bobbing about from side
to side, while his sure-footed old mule stepped along the edge of
precipices, and down steep and broken barrancos, just as safe and steady
as if it had been on plain ground. At length Tio Nicolo awoke, and gazed
about him, and rubbed his eyes--and, in good truth, he had reason. The
moon shone almost as bright as day, and he saw the city below him, as
plain as your hand, and shining with its white buildings, like a silver
platter, in the moonshine; but, Lord! Señor, it was nothing like the
city he had left a few hours before! Instead of the cathedral, with its
great dome and turrets, and the churches with their spires, and the
convents with their pinnacles, all surmounted with the blessed cross, he
saw nothing but Moorish mosques, and minarets, and cupolas, all topped
off with glittering crescents, such as you see on the Barbary flags.
Well, Señor, as you may suppose, Tio Nicolo was mightily puzzled at all
this, but while he was gazing down upon the city, a great army came
marching up the mountains, winding along the ravines, sometimes in the
moonshine, sometimes in the shade. As it drew nigh, he saw that there
were horse and foot, all in Moorish armor. Tio Nicolo tried to scramble
out of their way, but his old mule stood stockstill, and refused to
budge, trembling, at the same time, like a leaf,--for dumb beasts,
Señor, are just as much frightened at such things as human beings. Well,
Señor, the hobgoblin army came marching by; there were men that seemed
to blow trumpets, and others to beat drums and strike cymbals, yet never
a sound did they make; they all moved on without the least noise, just
as I have seen painted armies move across the stage in the theatre of
Granada, and all looked as pale as death. At last, in the rear of the
army, between two black Moorish horsemen, rode the Grand Inquisitor of
Granada, on a mule as white as snow. Tio Nicolo wondered to see him in
such company, for the Inquisitor was famous for his hatred of Moors,
and, indeed, of all kinds of Infidels, Jews, and heretics, and used to
hunt them out with fire and scourge. However, Tio Nicolo felt himself
safe, now that there was a priest of such sanctity at hand. So making
the sign of the cross, he called out for his benediction, when, hombre!
he received a blow that sent him and his old mule over the edge of a
steep bank, down which they rolled, head-over-heels, to the bottom! Tio
Nicolo did not come to his senses until long after sunrise, when he
found himself at the bottom of a deep ravine, his mule grazing beside
him, and his panniers of snow completely melted. He crawled back to
Granada sorely bruised and battered, but was glad to find the city
looking as usual, with Christian churches and crosses. When he told the
story of his night’s adventure, every one laughed at him; some said he
had dreamed it all, as he dozed on his mule; others thought it all a
fabrication of his own; but what was strange, Señor, and made people
afterwards think more seriously of the matter, was, that the Grand
Inquisitor died within the year. I have often heard my grandfather, the
tailor, say, that there was more meant by that hobgoblin army bearing
off the resemblance of the priest, than folks dared to surmise.”

“Then you would insinuate, friend Mateo, that there is a kind of Moorish
limbo, or purgatory, in the bowels of these mountains, to which the
padre Inquisitor was borne off.”

“God forbid, Señor! I know nothing of the matter. I only relate what I
heard from my grandfather.”

By the time Mateo had finished the tale, which I have more succinctly
related, and which was interlarded with many comments, and spun out with
minute details, we reached the gate of the Alhambra.

The marvellous stories hinted at by Mateo, in the early part of our
ramble about the Tower of the Seven Floors, set me as usual upon my
goblin researches. I found that the redoubtable phantom, the Belludo,
had been time out of mind a favorite theme of nursery tales and popular
traditions in Granada, and that honorable mention had even been made of
it by an ancient historian and topographer of the place. The scattered
members of one of these popular traditions I have gathered together,
collated them with infinite pains, and digested them into the following
legend; which only wants a number of learned notes and references at
bottom to take its rank among those concrete productions gravely passed
upon the world for Historical Facts.



LEGEND OF THE MOOR’S LEGACY


Just within the fortress of the Alhambra, in front of the royal palace,
is a broad open esplanade, called the Place or Square of the Cisterns,
(la Plaza de los Algibes,) so called from being undermined by reservoirs
of water, hidden from sight, and which have existed from the time of the
Moors. At one corner of this esplanade is a Moorish well, cut through
the living rock to a great depth, the water of which is cold as ice and
clear as crystal. The wells made by the Moors are always in repute, for
it is well known what pains they took to penetrate to the purest and
sweetest springs and fountains. The one of which we now speak is famous
throughout Granada, insomuch that water-carriers, some bearing great
water-jars on their shoulders, others driving asses before them laden
with earthen vessels, are ascending and descending the steep woody
avenues of the Alhambra, from early dawn until a late hour of the
night.

Fountains and wells, ever since the scriptural days, have been noted
gossiping-places in hot climates; and at the well in question there is a
kind of perpetual club kept up during the livelong day, by the invalids,
old women, and other curious do-nothing folk of the fortress, who sit
here on the stone benches, under an awning spread over the well to
shelter the toll-gatherer from the sun, and dawdle over the gossip of
the fortress, and question every water-carrier that arrives about the
news of the city, and make long comments on everything they hear and
see. Not an hour of the day but loitering housewives and idle
maid-servants may be seen, lingering, with pitcher on head or in hand,
to hear the last of the endless tattle of these worthies.

Among the water-carriers who once resorted to this well, there was a
sturdy, strong-backed, bandy-legged little fellow, named Pedro Gil, but
called Peregil for shortness. Being a water-carrier, he was a Gallego,
or native of Gallicia, of course. Nature seems to have formed races of
men, as she has of animals, for different kinds of drudgery. In France
the shoeblacks are all Savoyards, the porters of hotels all Swiss, and
in the days of hoops and hair-powder in England, no man could give the
regular swing to a sedan-chair but a bog-trotting Irishman. So in Spain,
the carriers of water and bearers of burdens are all sturdy little
natives of Gallicia. No man says, “Get me a porter,” but, “Call a
Gallego.”

To return from this digression, Peregil the Gallego had begun business
with merely a great earthen jar which he carried upon his shoulder; by
degrees he rose in the world, and was enabled to purchase an assistant
of a correspondent class of animals, being a stout shaggy-haired donkey.
On each side of this his long-eared aide-de-camp, in a kind of pannier,
were slung his water-jars, covered with fig-leaves to protect them from
the sun. There was not a more industrious water-carrier in all Granada,
nor one more merry withal. The streets rang with his cheerful voice as
he trudged after his donkey, singing forth the usual summer note that
resounds through the Spanish towns: “_Quien quiere agua--agua mas fria
que la nieve?_”--“Who wants water--water colder than snow? Who wants
water from the well of the Alhambra, cold as ice and clear as crystal?”
When he served a customer with a sparkling glass, it was always with a
pleasant word that caused a smile; and if, perchance, it was a comely
dame or dimpling damsel, it was always with a sly leer and a compliment
to her beauty that was irresistible. Thus Peregil the Gallego was noted
throughout all Granada for being one of the civilest, pleasantest, and
happiest of mortals. Yet it is not he who sings loudest and jokes most
that has the lightest heart. Under all this air of merriment, honest
Peregil had his cares and troubles. He had a large family of ragged
children to support, who were hungry and clamorous as a nest of young
swallows, and beset him with their outcries for food whenever he came
home of an evening. He had a helpmate, too, who was anything but a help
to him. She had been a village beauty before marriage, noted for her
skill at dancing the bolero and rattling the castanets; and she still
retained her early propensities, spending the hard earnings of honest
Peregil in frippery, and laying the very donkey under requisition for
junketing parties into the country on Sundays, and saints’ days, and
those innumerable holidays which are rather more numerous in Spain than
the days of the week. With all this she was a little of a slattern,
something more of a lie-abed, and, above all, a gossip of the first
water; neglecting house, household, and everything else, to loiter
slipshod in the houses of her gossip neighbors.

He, however, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, accommodates the
yoke of matrimony to the submissive neck. Peregil bore all the heavy
dispensations of wife and children with as meek a spirit as his donkey
bore the water-jars; and, however he might shake his ears in private,
never ventured to question the household virtues of his slattern spouse.

He loved his children, too, even as an owl loves its owlets, seeing in
them his own image multiplied and perpetuated; for they were a sturdy,
long-backed, bandy-legged little brood. The great pleasure of honest
Peregil was, whenever he could afford himself a scanty holiday, and had
a handful of maravedis to spare, to take the whole litter forth with
him, some in his arms, some tugging at his skirts, and some trudging at
his heels, and to treat them to a gambol among the orchards of the Vega,
while his wife was dancing with her holiday friends in the Angosturas of
the Darro.

It was a late hour one summer night, and most of the water-carriers had
desisted from their toils. The day had been uncommonly sultry; the night
was one of those delicious moonlights which tempt the inhabitants of
southern climes to indemnify themselves for the heat and inaction of the
day, by lingering in the open air, and enjoying its tempered sweetness
until after midnight. Customers for water were therefore still abroad.
Peregil, like a considerate, painstaking father, thought of his hungry
children. “One more journey to the well,” said he to himself, “to earn a
Sunday’s puchero for the little ones.” So saying, he trudged manfully up
the steep avenue of the Alhambra, singing as he went, and now and then
bestowing a hearty thwack with a cudgel on the flanks of his donkey,
either by way of cadence to the song, or refreshment to the animal; for
dry blows serve in lieu of provender in Spain for all beasts of burden.

When arrived at the well, he found it deserted by every one except a
solitary stranger in Moorish garb, seated on a stone bench in the
moonlight. Peregil paused at first and regarded him with surprise, not
unmixed with awe, but the Moor feebly beckoned him to approach. “I am
faint and ill,” said he; “aid me to return to the city, and I will pay
thee double what thou couldst gain by thy jars of water.”

The honest heart of the little water-carrier was touched with compassion
at the appeal of the stranger. “God forbid,” said he, “that I should ask
fee or reward for doing a common act of humanity.” He accordingly helped
the Moor on his donkey, and set off slowly for Granada, the poor Moslem
being so weak that it was necessary to hold him on the animal to keep
him from falling to the earth.

When they entered the city, the water-carrier demanded whither he should
conduct him. “Alas!” said the Moor, faintly, “I have neither home nor
habitation; I am a stranger in the land. Suffer me to lay my head this
night beneath thy roof, and thou shalt be amply repaid.”

Honest Peregil thus saw himself unexpectedly saddled with an infidel
guest, but he was too humane to refuse a night’s shelter to a
fellow-being in so forlorn a plight; so he conducted the Moor to his
dwelling. The children, who had sallied forth open-mouthed as usual on
hearing the tramp of the donkey, ran back with affright when they beheld
the turbaned stranger, and hid themselves behind their mother. The
latter stepped forth intrepidly, like a ruffling hen before her brood
when a vagrant dog approaches.

“What infidel companion,” cried she, “is this you have brought home at
this late hour, to draw upon us the eyes of the inquisition?”

“Be quiet, wife,” replied the Gallego; “here is a poor sick stranger,
without friend or home; wouldst thou turn him forth to perish in the
streets?”

The wife would still have remonstrated, for although she lived in a
hovel, she was a furious stickler for the credit of her house; the
little water-carrier, however, for once was stiffnecked, and refused to
bend beneath the yoke. He assisted the poor Moslem to alight, and spread
a mat and a sheep-skin for him, on the ground, in the coolest part of
the house; being the only kind of bed that his poverty afforded.

In a little while the Moor was seized with violent convulsions, which
defied all the ministering skill of the simple water-carrier. The eye of
the poor patient acknowledged his kindness. During an interval of his
fits he called him to his side, and addressing him in a low voice, “My
end,” said he, “I fear is at hand. If I die, I bequeath you this box as
a reward for your charity”: so saying, he opened his albornoz, or cloak,
and showed a small box of sandal-wood, strapped round his body. “God
grant, my friend,” replied the worthy little Gallego, “that you may live
many years to enjoy your treasure, whatever it may be.” The Moor shook
his head; he laid his hand upon the box, and would have said something
more concerning it, but his convulsions returned with increasing
violence, and in a little while he expired.

The water-carrier’s wife was now as one distracted. “This comes,” said
she, “of your foolish good-nature, always running into scrapes to oblige
others. What will become of us when this corpse is found in our house?
We shall be sent to prison as murderers; and if we escape with our
lives, shall be ruined by notaries and alguazils.”

Poor Peregil was in equal tribulation, and almost repented himself of
having done a good deed. At length a thought struck him. “It is not yet
day,” said he; “I can convey the dead body out of the city, and bury it
in the sands on the banks of the Xenil. No one saw the Moor enter our
dwelling, and no one will know anything of his death.”

So said, so done. The wife aided him; they rolled the body of the
unfortunate Moslem in the mat on which he had expired, laid it across
the ass, and Peregil set out with it for the banks of the river.

As ill luck would have it, there lived opposite to the water-carrier a
barber named Pedrillo Pedrugo, one of the most prying, tattling, and
mischief-making of his gossip tribe. He was a weasel-faced,
spider-legged varlet, supple and insinuating; the famous barber of
Seville could not surpass him for his universal knowledge of the affairs
of others, and he had no more power of retention than a sieve. It was
said that he slept but with one eye at a time, and kept one ear
uncovered, so that even in his sleep he might see and hear all that was
going on. Certain it is, he was a sort of scandalous chronicle for the
quidnuncs of Granada, and had more customers than all the rest of his
fraternity.

This meddlesome barber heard Peregil arrive at an unusual hour at night,
and the exclamations of his wife and children. His head was instantly
popped out of a little window which served him as a look-out, and he saw
his neighbor assist a man in Moorish garb into his dwelling. This was so
strange an occurrence, that Pedrillo Pedrugo slept not a wink that
night. Every five minutes he was at his loophole, watching the lights
that gleamed through the chinks of his neighbor’s door, and before
daylight he beheld Peregil sally forth with his donkey unusually laden.

The inquisitive barber was in a fidget; he slipped on his clothes, and,
stealing forth silently, followed the water-carrier at a distance, until
he saw him dig a hole in the sandy bank of the Xenil, and bury something
that had the appearance of a dead body.

The barber hied him home, and fidgeted about his shop, setting
everything upside down, until sunrise. He then took a basin under his
arm, and sallied forth to the house of his daily customer the alcalde.

The alcalde was just risen. Pedrillo Pedrugo seated him in a chair,
threw a napkin round his neck, put a basin of hot water under his chin,
and began to mollify his beard with his fingers.

“Strange doings!” said Pedrugo, who played barber and newsmonger at the
same time,--“strange doings! Robbery, and murder, and burial all in one
night!”

“Hey!--how!--what is that you say?” cried the alcalde.

“I say,” replied the barber, rubbing a piece of soap over the nose and
mouth of the dignitary, for a Spanish barber disdains to employ a
brush,--“I say that Peregil the Gallego has robbed and murdered a
Moorish Mussulman, and buried him, this blessed night. _Maldita sea la
noche_;--Accursed be the night for the same!”

“But how do you know all this?” demanded the alcalde.

“Be patient, Señor, and you shall hear all about it,” replied Pedrillo,
taking him by the nose and sliding a razor over his cheek. He then
recounted all that he had seen, going through both operations at the
same time, shaving his beard, washing his chin, and wiping him dry with
a dirty napkin, while he was robbing, murdering, and burying the Moslem.

Now it so happened that this alcalde was one of the most overbearing,
and at the same time most griping and corrupt curmudgeons in all
Granada. It could not be denied, however, that he set a high value upon
justice, for he sold it at its weight in gold. He presumed the case in
point to be one of murder and robbery; doubtless there must be a rich
spoil; how was it to be secured into the legitimate hands of the law?
for as to merely entrapping the delinquent--that would be feeding the
gallows; but entrapping the booty--that would be enriching the judge,
and such, according to his creed, was the great end of justice. So
thinking, he summoned to his presence his trustiest alguazil--a gaunt,
hungry-looking varlet, clad, according to the custom of his order, in
the ancient Spanish garb, a broad black beaver turned up at its sides; a
quaint ruff; a small black cloak dangling from his shoulders; rusty
black under-clothes that set off his spare wiry frame, while in his hand
he bore a slender white wand, the dreaded insignia of his office. Such
was the legal bloodhound of the ancient Spanish breed, that he put upon
the traces of the unlucky water-carrier, and such was his speed and
certainty, that he was upon the haunches of poor Peregil before he had
returned to his dwelling, and brought both him and his donkey before the
dispenser of justice.

The alcalde bent upon him one of the most terrific frowns. “Hark ye,
culprit!” roared he, in a voice that made the knees of the little
Gallego smite together,--“hark ye, culprit! there is no need of denying
thy guilt, everything is known to me. A gallows is the proper reward for
the crime thou hast committed, but I am merciful, and readily listen to
reason. The man that has been murdered in thy house was a Moor, an
infidel, the enemy of our faith. It was doubtless in a fit of religious
zeal that thou hast slain him. I will be indulgent, therefore; render up
the property of which thou hast robbed him, and we will hush the matter
up.”

The poor water-carrier called upon all the saints to witness his
innocence; alas! not one of them appeared; and if they had, the alcalde
would have disbelieved the whole calendar. The water-carrier related the
whole story of the dying Moor with the straightforward simplicity of
truth, but it was all in vain. “Wilt thou persist in saying,” demanded
the judge, “that this Moslem had neither gold nor jewels, which were the
object of thy cupidity?”

“As I hope to be saved, your worship,” replied the water-carrier, “he
had nothing but a small box of sandal-wood which he bequeathed to me in
reward for my services.”

“A box of sandal-wood! a box of sandal-wood!” exclaimed the alcalde, his
eyes sparkling at the idea of precious jewels. “And where is this box?
where have you concealed it?”

“An’ it please your grace,” replied the water-carrier, “it is in one of
the panniers of my mule, and heartily at the service of your worship.”

He had hardly spoken the words, when the keen alguazil darted off, and
reappeared in an instant with the mysterious box of sandal-wood. The
alcalde opened it with an eager and trembling hand; all pressed forward
to gaze upon the treasure it was expected to contain; when, to their
disappointment, nothing appeared within, but a parchment scroll, covered
with Arabic characters, and an end of a waxen taper.

When there is nothing to be gained by the conviction of a prisoner,
justice, even in Spain, is apt to be impartial. The alcalde, having
recovered from his disappointment, and found that there was really no
booty in the case, now listened dispassionately to the explanation of
the water-carrier, which was corroborated by the testimony of his wife.
Being convinced, therefore, of his innocence, he discharged him from
arrest; nay, more, he permitted him to carry off the Moor’s legacy, the
box of sandal-wood and its contents, as the well-merited reward of his
humanity; but he retained his donkey in payment of costs and charges.

Behold the unfortunate little Gallego reduced once more to the necessity
of being his own water-carrier, and trudging up to the well of the
Alhambra with a great earthen jar upon his shoulder.

As he toiled up the hill in the heat of a summer noon, his usual
good-humor forsook him. “Dog of an alcalde!” would he cry, “to rob a
poor man of the means of his subsistence, of the best friend he had in
the world!” And then at the remembrance of the beloved companion of his
labors, all the kindness of his nature would break forth. “Ah, donkey of
my heart!” would he exclaim, resting his burden on a stone, and wiping
the sweat from his brow,--“ah, donkey of my heart! I warrant me thou
thinkest of thy old master! I warrant me thou missest the
water-jars--poor beast.”

To add to his afflictions, his wife received him, on his return home,
with whimperings and repinings; she had clearly the vantage-ground of
him, having warned him not to commit the egregious act of hospitality
which had brought on him all these misfortunes; and, like a knowing
woman, she took every occasion to throw her superior sagacity in his
teeth. If her children lacked food, or needed a new garment, she could
answer with a sneer, “Go to your father--he is heir to King Chico of the
Alhambra: ask him to help you out of the Moor’s strong box.”

Was ever poor mortal so soundly punished for having done a good action?
The unlucky Peregil was grieved in flesh and spirit, but still he bore
meekly with the railings of his spouse. At length, one evening, when,
after a hot day’s toil, she taunted him in the usual manner, he lost all
patience. He did not venture to retort upon her, but his eye rested upon
the box of sandal-wood which lay on a shelf with lid half open, as if
laughing in mockery at his vexation. Seizing it up, he dashed it with
indignation to the floor. “Unlucky was the day that I ever set eyes on
thee,” he cried, “or sheltered thy master beneath my roof!”

As the box struck the floor, the lid flew wide open, and the parchment
scroll rolled forth.

Peregil sat regarding the scroll for some time in moody silence. At
length rallying his ideas, “Who knows,” thought he, “but this writing
may be of some importance, as the Moor seems to have guarded it with
such care?” Picking it up therefore, he put it in his bosom, and the
next morning, as he was crying water through the streets, he stopped at
the shop of a Moor, a native of Tangiers, who sold trinkets and
perfumery in the Zacatin, and asked him to explain the contents.

The Moor read the scroll attentively, then stroked his beard and smiled.
“This manuscript,” said he, “is a form of incantation for the recovery
of hidden treasure that is under the power of enchantment. It is said to
have such virtue that the strongest bolts and bars, nay the adamantine
rock itself, will yield before it!”

“Bah!” cried the little Gallego, “what is all that to me? I am no
enchanter, and know nothing of buried treasure.” So saying, he
shouldered his water-jar, left the scroll in the hands of the Moor, and
trudged forward on his daily rounds.

That evening, however, as he rested himself about twilight at the well
of the Alhambra, he found a number of gossips assembled at the place,
and their conversation, as is not unusual at that shadowy hour, turned
upon old tales and traditions of a supernatural nature. Being all poor
as rats, they dwelt with peculiar fondness upon the popular theme of
enchanted riches left by the Moors in various parts of the Alhambra.
Above all, they concurred in the belief that there were great treasures
buried deep in the earth under the tower of the seven floors.

These stories made an unusual impression on the mind of the honest
Peregil, and they sank deeper and deeper into his thoughts as he
returned alone down the darkling avenues. “If, after all, there should
be treasure hid beneath that tower; and if the scroll I left with the
Moor should enable me to get at it!” In the sudden ecstasy of the
thought he had wellnigh let fall his water-jar.

That night he tumbled and tossed, and could scarcely get a wink of sleep
for the thoughts that were bewildering his brain. Bright and early he
repaired to the shop of the Moor, and told him all that was passing in
his mind. “You can read Arabic,” said he; “suppose we go together to the
tower, and try the effect of the charm; if it fails, we are no worse off
than before; but if it succeeds, we will share equally all the treasure
we may discover.”

“Hold,” replied the Moslem; “this writing is not sufficient of itself;
it must be read at midnight, by the light of a taper singularly
compounded and prepared, the ingredients of which are not within my
reach. Without such a taper the scroll is of no avail.”

“Say no more!” cried the little Gallego; “I have such a taper at hand,
and will bring it here in a moment.” So saying, he hastened home, and
soon returned with the end of yellow wax taper that he had found in the
box of sandal-wood.

The Moor felt it and smelt to it. “Here are rare and costly perfumes,”
said he, “combined with this yellow wax. This is the kind of taper
specified in the scroll. While this burns, the strongest walls and most
secret caverns will remain open. Woe to him, however, who lingers within
until it be extinguished. He will remain enchanted with the treasure.”

It was now agreed between them to try the charm that very night. At a
late hour, therefore, when nothing was stirring but bats and owls, they
ascended the woody hill of the Alhambra, and approached that awful
tower, shrouded by trees and rendered formidable by so many traditionary
tales. By the light of a lantern they groped their way through bushes,
and over fallen stones, to the door of a vault beneath the tower. With
fear and trembling they descended a flight of steps cut into the rock.
It led to an empty chamber, damp and drear, from which another flight of
steps led to a deeper vault. In this way they descended four several
flights, leading into as many vaults, one below the other, but the floor
of the fourth was solid; and though, according to tradition, there
remained three vaults still below, it was said to be impossible to
penetrate further, the residue being shut up by strong enchantment. The
air of this vault was damp and chilly, and had an earthy smell, and the
light scarce cast forth any rays. They paused here for a time, in
breathless suspense, until they faintly heard the clock of the
watch-tower strike midnight; upon this they lit the waxen taper, which
diffused an odor of myrrh and frankincense and storax.

The Moor began to read in a hurried voice. He had scarce finished when
there was a noise as of subterraneous thunder. The earth shook, and the
floor, yawning open, disclosed a flight of steps. Trembling with awe,
they descended, and by the light of the lantern found themselves in
another vault covered with Arabic inscriptions. In the centre stood a
great chest, secured with seven bands of steel, at each end of which sat
an enchanted Moor in armor, but motionless as a statue, being controlled
by the power of the incantation. Before the chest were several jars
filled with gold and silver and precious stones. In the largest of these
they thrust their arms up to the elbow, and at every dip hauled forth
handfuls of broad yellow pieces of Moorish gold, or bracelets and
ornaments of the same precious metal, while occasionally a necklace of
Oriental pearl would stick to their fingers. Still they trembled and
breathed short while cramming their pockets with the spoils; and cast
many a fearful glance at the two enchanted Moors, who sat grim and
motionless, glaring upon them with unwinking eyes. At length, struck
with a sudden panic at some fancied noise, they both rushed up the
staircase, tumbled over one another into the upper apartment, overturned
and extinguished the waxen taper, and the pavement again closed with a
thundering sound.

Filled with dismay, they did not pause until they had groped their way
out of the tower, and beheld the stars shining through the trees. Then
seating themselves upon the grass, they divided the spoil, determining
to content themselves for the present with this mere skimming of the
jars, but to return on some future night and drain them to the bottom.
To make sure of each other’s good faith, also, they divided the
talismans between them, one retaining the scroll and the other the
taper; this done, they set off with light hearts and well-lined pockets
for Granada.

As they wended their way down the hill, the shrewd Moor whispered a word
of counsel in the ear of the simple little water-carrier.

“Friend Peregil,” said he, “all this affair must be kept a profound
secret until we have secured the treasure, and conveyed it out of harm’s
way. If a whisper of it gets to the ear of the alcalde, we are undone!”

“Certainly,” replied the Gallego, “nothing can be more true.”

“Friend Peregil,” said the Moor, “you are a discreet man, and I make no
doubt can keep a secret; but you have a wife.”

“She shall not know a word of it,” replied the little water-carrier
sturdily.

“Enough,” said the Moor, “I depend upon thy discretion and thy promise.”

Never was promise more positive and sincere; but, alas! what man can
keep a secret from his wife? Certainly not such a one as Peregil the
water-carrier, who was one of the most loving and tractable of husbands.
On his return home, he found his wife moping in a corner. “Mighty well,”
cried she as he entered, “you’ve come at last, after rambling about
until this hour of the night. I wonder you have not brought home
another Moor as a house-mate.” Then bursting into tears, she began to
wring her hands and smite her breast. “Unhappy woman that I am!”
exclaimed she, “what will become of me? My house stripped and plundered
by lawyers and alguazils; my husband a do-no-good, that no longer brings
home bread to his family, but goes rambling about day and night, with
infidel Moors! O my children! my children! what will become of us? We
shall all have to beg in the streets!”

Honest Peregil was so moved by the distress of his spouse, that he could
not help whimpering also. His heart was as full as his pocket, and not
to be restrained. Thrusting his hand into the latter he hauled forth
three or four broad gold pieces, and slipped them into her bosom. The
poor woman stared with astonishment, and could not understand the
meaning of this golden shower. Before she could recover her surprise,
the little Gallego drew forth a chain of gold and dangled it before her,
capering with exultation, his mouth distended from ear to ear.

“Holy Virgin protect us!” exclaimed the wife. “What hast thou been
doing, Peregil? surely thou hast not been committing murder and
robbery!”

The idea scarce entered the brain of the poor woman, than it became a
certainty with her. She saw a prison and a gallows in the distance, and
a little bandy-legged Gallego hanging pendent from it; and, overcome by
the horrors conjured up by her imagination, fell into violent hysterics.

What could the poor man do? He had no other means of pacifying his wife,
and dispelling the phantoms of her fancy, than by relating the whole
story of his good fortune. This, however, he did not do until he had
exacted from her the most solemn promise to keep it a profound secret
from every living being.

To describe her joy would be impossible. She flung her arms round the
neck of her husband, and almost strangled him with her caresses. “Now,
wife,” exclaimed the little man with honest exultation, “what say you
now to the Moor’s legacy? Henceforth never abuse me for helping a
fellow-creature in distress.”

The honest Gallego retired to his sheep-skin mat, and slept as soundly
as if on a bed of down. Not so his wife; she emptied the whole contents
of his pockets upon the mat, and sat counting gold pieces of Arabic
coin, trying on necklaces and earrings, and fancying the figure she
should one day make when permitted to enjoy her riches.

On the following morning the honest Gallego took a broad golden coin,
and repaired with it to a jeweller’s shop in the Zacatin to offer it for
sale, pretending to have found it among the ruins of the Alhambra. The
jeweller saw that it had an Arabic inscription, and was of the purest
gold; he offered, however, but a third of its value, with which the
water-carrier was perfectly content. Peregil now bought new clothes for
his little flock, and all kinds of toys, together with ample provisions
for a hearty meal, and returning to his dwelling, set all his children
dancing around him, while he capered in the midst, the happiest of
fathers.

The wife of the water-carrier kept her promise of secrecy with
surprising strictness. For a whole day and a half she went about with a
look of mystery and a heart swelling almost to bursting, yet she held
her peace, though surrounded by her gossips. It is true, she could not
help giving herself a few airs, apologized for her ragged dress, and
talked of ordering a new basquiña all trimmed with gold lace and bugles,
and a new lace mantilla. She threw out hints of her husband’s intention
of leaving off his trade of water-carrying, as it did not altogether
agree with his health. In fact she thought they should all retire to the
country for the summer, that the children might have the benefit of the
mountain air, for there was no living in the city in this sultry season.

The neighbors stared at each other, and thought the poor woman had lost
her wits; and her airs and graces and elegant pretensions were the theme
of universal scoffing and merriment among her friends, the moment her
back was turned.

If she restrained herself abroad, however, she indemnified herself at
home, and putting a string of rich Oriental pearls round her neck,
Moorish bracelets on her arms, and an aigrette of diamonds on her head,
sailed backwards and forwards in her slattern rags about the room, now
and then stopping to admire herself in a broken mirror. Nay, in the
impulse of her simple vanity, she could not resist, on one occasion,
showing herself at the window to enjoy the effect of her finery on the
passers-by.

As the fates would have it, Pedrillo Pedrugo, the meddlesome barber, was
at this moment sitting idly in his shop on the opposite side of the
street, when his ever-watchful eye caught the sparkle of a diamond. In
an instant he was at his loophole reconnoitring the slattern spouse of
the water-carrier, decorated with the splendor of an eastern bride. No
sooner had he taken an accurate inventory of her ornaments, than he
posted off with all speed to the alcalde. In a little while the hungry
alguazil was again on the scent, and before the day was over the
unfortunate Peregil was once more dragged into the presence of the
judge.

“How is this, villain!” cried the alcalde, in a furious voice. “You told
me that the infidel who died in your house left nothing behind but an
empty coffer, and now I hear of your wife flaunting in her rags decked
out with pearls and diamonds. Wretch that thou art! prepare to render up
the spoils of thy miserable victim, and to swing on the gallows that is
already tired of waiting for thee.”

The terrified water-carrier fell on his knees, and made a full relation
of the marvellous manner in which he had gained his wealth. The alcalde,
the alguazil, and the inquisitive barber listened with greedy ears to
this Arabian tale of enchanted treasure. The alguazil was dispatched to
bring the Moor who had assisted in the incantation. The Moslem entered
half frightened out of his wits at finding himself in the hands of the
harpies of the law. When he beheld the water-carrier standing with
sheepish looks and downcast countenance, he comprehended the whole
matter. “Miserable animal,” said he, as he passed near him, “did I not
warn thee against babbling to thy wife?”

The story of the Moor coincided exactly with that of his colleague; but
the alcalde affected to be slow of belief, and threw out menaces of
imprisonment and rigorous investigation.

“Softly, good Señor Alcalde,” said the Mussulman, who by this time had
recovered his usual shrewdness and self-possession. “Let us not mar
fortune’s favors in the scramble for them. Nobody knows anything of this
matter but ourselves; let us keep the secret. There is wealth enough in
the cave to enrich us all. Promise a fair division, and all shall be
produced; refuse, and the cave shall remain forever closed.”

The alcalde consulted apart with the alguazil. The latter was an old fox
in his profession. “Promise anything,” said he, “until you get
possession of the treasure. You may then seize upon the whole, and if he
and his accomplice dare to murmur, threaten them with the fagot and the
stake as infidels and sorcerers.”

The alcalde relished the advice. Smoothing his brow and turning to the
Moor, “This is a strange story,” said he, “and may be true, but I must
have ocular proof of it. This very night you must repeat the incantation
in my presence. If there be really such treasure, we will share it
amicably between us, and say nothing further of the matter; if ye have
deceived me, expect no mercy at my hands. In the mean time you must
remain in custody.”

The Moor and the water-carrier cheerfully agreed to these conditions,
satisfied that the event would prove the truth of their words.

Towards midnight the alcalde sallied forth secretly, attended by the
alguazil and the meddlesome barber, all strongly armed. They conducted
the Moor and the water-carrier as prisoners, and were provided with the
stout donkey of the latter to bear off the expected treasure. They
arrived at the tower without being observed, and tying the donkey to a
fig-tree, descended into the fourth vault of the tower.

The scroll was produced, the yellow waxen taper lighted, and the Moor
read the form of incantation. The earth trembled as before, and the
pavement opened with a thundering sound, disclosing the narrow flight of
steps. The alcalde, the alguazil, and the barber were struck aghast, and
could not summon courage to descend. The Moor and the water-carrier
entered the lower vault, and found the two Moors seated as before,
silent and motionless. They removed two of the great jars, filled with
golden coin and precious stones. The water-carrier bore them up one by
one upon his shoulders, but though a strong-backed little man, and
accustomed to carry burdens, he staggered beneath their weight, and
found, when slung on each side of his donkey, they were as much as the
animal could bear.

“Let us be content for the present,” said the Moor; “here is as much
treasure as we can carry off without being perceived, and enough to make
us all wealthy to our heart’s desire.”

“Is there more treasure remaining behind?” demanded the alcalde.

“The greatest prize of all,” said the Moor, “a huge coffer bound with
bands of steel, and filled with pearls and precious stones.”

“Let us have up the coffer by all means,” cried the grasping alcalde.

“I will descend for no more,” said the Moor, doggedly; “enough is enough
for a reasonable man--more is superfluous.”

“And I,” said the water-carrier, “will bring up no further burden to
break the back of my poor donkey.”

Finding commands, threats, and entreaties equally vain, the alcalde
turned to his two adherents. “Aid me,” said he, “to bring up the coffer,
and its contents shall be divided between us.” So saying, he descended
the steps, followed with trembling reluctance by the alguazil and the
barber.

No sooner did the Moor behold them fairly earthed than he extinguished
the yellow taper; the pavement closed with its usual crash, and the
three worthies remained buried in its womb.

He then hastened up the different flight of steps, nor stopped until in
the open air. The little water-carrier followed him as fast as his short
legs would permit.

“What hast thou done?” cried Peregil, as soon as he could recover
breath. “The alcalde and the other two are shut up in the vault.”

“It is the will of Allah!” said the Moor, devoutly.

“And will you not release them?” demanded the Gallego.

“Allah forbid!” replied the Moor, smoothing his beard. “It is written in
the book of fate that they shall remain enchanted until some future
adventurer arrive to break the charm. The will of God be done!” so
saying, he hurled the end of the waxen taper far among the gloomy
thickets of the glen.

There was now no remedy; so the Moor and the water-carrier proceeded
with the richly laden donkey toward the city, nor could honest Peregil
refrain from hugging and kissing his long-eared fellow-laborer, thus
restored to him from the clutches of the law; and, in fact, it is
doubtful which gave the simple-hearted little man most joy at the
moment, the gaining of the treasure, or the recovery of the donkey.

The two partners in good luck divided their spoil amicably and fairly,
except that the Moor, who had a little taste for trinketry, made out to
get into his heap the most of the pearls and precious stones and other
baubles, but then he always gave the water-carrier in lieu magnificent
jewels of massy gold, of five times the size, with which the latter was
heartily content. They took care not to linger within reach of
accidents, but made off to enjoy their wealth undisturbed in other
countries. The Moor returned to Africa, to his native city of Tangiers,
and the Gallego, with his wife, his children, and his donkey, made the
best of his way to Portugal. Here, under the admonition and tuition of
his wife, he became a personage of some consequence, for she made the
worthy little man array his long body and short legs in doublet and
hose, with a feather in his hat and a sword by his side, and laying
aside his familiar appellation of Peregil, assume the more sonorous
title of Don Pedro Gil: his progeny grew up a thriving and
merry-hearted, though short and bandy-legged generation, while Señora
Gil, befringed, belaced, and betasselled from her head to her heels,
with glittering rings on every finger, became a model of slattern
fashion and finery.

As to the alcalde and his adjuncts, they remained shut up under the
great tower of the seven floors, and there they remain spell-bound at
the present day. Whenever there shall be a lack in Spain of pimping
barbers, sharking alguazils, and corrupt alcaldes, they may be sought
after; but if they have to wait until such time for their deliverance,
there is danger of their enchantment enduring until doomsday.



THE TOWER OF LAS INFANTAS


In an evening’s stroll up a narrow glen, overshadowed by fig-trees,
pomegranates, and myrtles, which divides the lands of the fortress from
those of the Generalife, I was struck with the romantic appearance of a
Moorish tower in the outer wall of the Alhambra, rising high above the
tree-tops, and catching the ruddy rays of the setting sun. A solitary
window at a great height commanded a view of the glen; and as I was
regarding it, a young female looked out, with her head adorned with
flowers. She was evidently superior to the usual class of people
inhabiting the old towers of the fortress; and this sudden and
picturesque glimpse of her reminded me of the descriptions of captive
beauties in fairy tales. These fanciful associations were increased on
being informed by my attendant Mateo, that this was the Tower of the
Princesses (La Torre de las Infantas); so called, from having been,
according to tradition, the residence of the daughters of the Moorish
kings. I have since visited the tower. It is not generally shown to
strangers, though well worthy of attention, for the interior is equal,
for beauty of architecture and delicacy of ornament, to any part of the
palace. The elegance of the central hall, with its marble fountain, its
lofty arches, and richly fretted dome; the arabesques and stucco-work of
the small but well-proportioned chambers, though injured by time and
neglect, all accord with the story of its being anciently the abode of
royal beauty.

The little old fairy queen who lives under the staircase of the
Alhambra, and frequents the evening tertulias of Dame Antonia, tells
some fanciful traditions about three Moorish princesses who were once
shut up in this tower by their father, a tyrant king of Granada, and
were only permitted to ride out at night about the hills, when no one
was permitted to come in their way under pain of death. They still,
according to her account, may be seen occasionally when the moon is in
the full, riding in lonely places along the mountain-side, on palfreys
richly caparisoned and sparkling with jewels, but they vanish on being
spoken to.

But before I relate anything further respecting these princesses, the
reader may be anxious to know something about the fair inhabitant of the
tower, with her head dressed with flowers, who looked out from the lofty
window. She proved to be the newly married spouse of the worthy adjutant
of invalids; who, though well stricken in years, had had the courage to
take to his bosom a young and buxom Andalusian damsel. May the good old
cavalier be happy in his choice, and find the Tower of the Princesses a
more secure residence for female beauty than it seems to have proved in
the time of the Moslems, if we may believe the following legend!



LEGEND OF THE THREE BEAUTIFUL PRINCESSES


In old times there reigned a Moorish king in Granada, whose name was
Mohamed, to which his subjects added the appellation of El Hayzari, or
“The Left-handed.” Some say he was so called on account of his being
really more expert with his sinister than his dexter hand; others,
because he was prone to take everything by the wrong end, or, in other
words, to mar wherever he meddled. Certain it is, either through
misfortune or mismanagement, he was continually in trouble: thrice was
he driven from his throne, and on one occasion barely escaped to Africa
with his life, in the disguise of a fisherman.[18] Still he was as brave
as he was blundering; and though left-handed, wielded his cimeter to
such purpose, that he each time re-established himself upon his throne
by dint of hard fighting. Instead, however, of learning wisdom from
adversity, he hardened his neck, and stiffened his left arm in
wilfulness. The evils of a public nature which he thus brought upon
himself and his kingdom may be learned by those who will delve into the
Arabian annals of Granada; the present legend deals but with his
domestic policy.

As this Mohamed was one day riding forth with a train of his courtiers,
by the foot of the mountain of Elvira, he met a band of horsemen
returning from a foray into the land of the Christians. They were
conducting a long string of mules laden with spoil, and many captives of
both sexes, among whom the monarch was struck with the appearance of a
beautiful damsel, richly attired, who sat weeping on a low palfrey, and
heeded not the consoling words of a duenna who rode beside her.

The monarch was struck with her beauty, and, on inquiring of the captain
of the troop, found that she was the daughter of the alcayde of a
frontier fortress, that had been surprised and sacked in the course of
the foray. Mohamed claimed her as his royal share of the booty, and had
her conveyed to his harem in the Alhambra. There everything was devised
to soothe her melancholy; and the monarch, more and more enamored,
sought to make her his queen. The Spanish maid at first repulsed his
addresses: he was an infidel; he was the open foe of her country; what
was worse, he was stricken in years!

The monarch, finding his assiduities of no avail, determined to enlist
in his favor the duenna, who had been captured with the lady. She was an
Andalusian by birth, whose Christian name is forgotten, being mentioned
in Moorish legends by no other appellation than that of the discreet
Kadiga; and discreet in truth she was, as her whole history makes
evident. No sooner had the Moorish king held a little private
conversation with her, than she saw at once the cogency of his
reasoning, and undertook his cause with her young mistress.

“Go to, now!” cried she; “what is there in all this to weep and wail
about? Is it not better to be mistress of this beautiful palace, with
all its gardens and fountains, than to be shut up within your father’s
old frontier tower? As to this Mohamed being an infidel, what is that to
the purpose? You marry him, not his religion; and if he is waxing a
little old, the sooner will you be a widow, and mistress of yourself; at
any rate, you are in his power, and must either be a queen or a slave.
When in the hands of a robber, it is better to sell one’s merchandise
for a fair price, than to have it taken by main force.”

The arguments of the discreet Kadiga prevailed. The Spanish lady dried
her tears, and became the spouse of Mohamed the Left-handed; she even
conformed, in appearance, to the faith of her royal husband; and her
discreet duenna immediately became a zealous convert to the Moslem
doctrines: it was then the latter received the Arabian name of Kadiga,
and was permitted to remain in the confidential employ of her mistress.

In due process of time the Moorish king was made the proud and happy
father of three lovely daughters, all born at a birth: he could have
wished they had been sons, but consoled himself with the idea that
three daughters at a birth were pretty well for a man somewhat stricken
in years, and left-handed!

As usual with all Moslem monarchs, he summoned his astrologers on this
happy event. They cast the nativities of the three princesses, and shook
their heads. “Daughters, O king!” said they, “are always precarious
property; but these will most need your watchfulness when they arrive at
a marriageable age; at that time gather them under your wings, and trust
them to no other guardianship.”

Mohamed the Left-handed was acknowledged to be a wise king by his
courtiers, and was certainly so considered by himself. The prediction of
the astrologers caused him but little disquiet, trusting to his
ingenuity to guard his daughters and outwit the Fates.

The threefold birth was the last matrimonial trophy of the monarch; his
queen bore him no more children, and died within a few years,
bequeathing her infant daughters to his love, and to the fidelity of the
discreet Kadiga.

Many years had yet to elapse before the princesses would arrive at that
period of danger--the marriageable age. “It is good, however, to be
cautious in time,” said the shrewd monarch; so he determined to have
them reared in the royal castle of Salobreña. This was a sumptuous
palace, incrusted, as it were, in a powerful Moorish fortress on the
summit of a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It was a royal
retreat, in which the Moslem monarchs shut up such of their relatives as
might endanger their safety; allowing them all kinds of luxuries and
amusements, in the midst of which they passed their lives in voluptuous
indolence.

Here the princesses remained, immured from the world, but surrounded by
enjoyment, and attended by female slaves who anticipated their wishes.
They had delightful gardens for their recreation, filled with the
rarest fruits and flowers, with aromatic groves and perfumed baths. On
three sides the castle looked down upon a rich valley, enamelled with
all kinds of culture, and bounded by the lofty Alpuxarra mountains; on
the other side it overlooked the broad sunny sea.

In this delicious abode, in a propitious climate, and under a cloudless
sky, the three princesses grew up into wondrous beauty; but, though all
reared alike, they gave early tokens of diversity of character. Their
names were Zayda, Zorayda, and Zorahayda; and such was their order of
seniority, for there had been precisely three minutes between their
births.

Zayda, the eldest, was of an intrepid spirit, and took the lead of her
sisters in everything, as she had done in entering into the world. She
was curious and inquisitive, and fond of getting at the bottom of
things.

Zorayda had a great feeling for beauty, which was the reason, no doubt,
of her delighting to regard her own image in a mirror or a fountain, and
of her fondness for flowers, and jewels, and other tasteful ornaments.

As to Zorahayda, the youngest, she was soft and timid, and extremely
sensitive, with a vast deal of disposable tenderness, as was evident
from her number of pet-flowers, and pet-birds, and pet-animals, all of
which she cherished with the fondest care. Her amusements, too, were of
a gentle nature, and mixed up with musing and reverie. She would sit for
hours in a balcony, gazing on the sparkling stars of a summer’s night,
or on the sea when lit up by the moon; and at such times, the song of a
fisherman, faintly heard from the beach, or the notes of a Moorish flute
from some gliding bark, sufficed to elevate her feelings into ecstasy.
The least uproar of the elements, however, filled her with dismay; and a
clap of thunder was enough to throw her into a swoon.

Years rolled on smoothly and serenely; the discreet Kadiga, to whom the
princesses were confided, was faithful to her trust, and attended them
with unremitting care.

The castle of Salobreña, as has been said, was built upon a hill on the
sea-coast. One of the exterior walls straggled down the profile of the
hill, until it reached a jutting rock overhanging the sea, with a narrow
sandy beach at its foot, laved by the rippling billows. A small
watch-tower on this rock had been fitted up as a pavilion, with latticed
windows to admit the sea-breeze. Here the princesses used to pass the
sultry hours of mid-day.

The curious Zayda was one day seated at a window of the pavilion, as her
sisters, reclining on ottomans, were taking the siesta or noontide
slumber. Her attention was attracted to a galley which came coasting
along, with measured strokes of the oar. As it drew near, she observed
that it was filled with armed men. The galley anchored at the foot of
the tower: a number of Moorish soldiers landed on the narrow beach,
conducting several Christian prisoners. The curious Zayda awakened her
sisters, and all three peeped cautiously through the close jalousies of
the lattice which screened them from sight. Among the prisoners were
three Spanish cavaliers, richly dressed. They were in the flower of
youth, and of noble presence; and the lofty manner in which they carried
themselves, though loaded with chains and surrounded with enemies,
bespoke the grandeur of their souls. The princesses gazed with intense
and breathless interest. Cooped up as they had been in this castle among
female attendants, seeing nothing of the male sex but black slaves, or
the rude fishermen of the sea-coast, it is not to be wondered at that
the appearance of three gallant cavaliers, in the pride of youth and
manly beauty, should produce some commotion in their bosom.

“Did ever nobler being tread the earth than that cavalier in crimson?”
cried Zayda, the eldest of the sisters. “See how proudly he bears
himself, as though all around him were his slaves!”

“But notice that one in green!” exclaimed Zorayda. “What grace! what
elegance! what spirit!”

The gentle Zorahayda said nothing, but she secretly gave preference to
the cavalier in blue.

The princesses remained gazing until the prisoners were out of sight;
then heaving long-drawn sighs, they turned round, looked at each other
for a moment, and sat down, musing and pensive, on their ottomans.

The discreet Kadiga found them in this situation; they related what they
had seen, and even the withered heart of the duenna was warmed. “Poor
youths!” exclaimed she, “I’ll warrant their captivity makes many a fair
and high-born lady’s heart ache in their native land! Ah! my children,
you have little idea of the life these cavaliers lead in their own
country. Such prankling at tournaments! such devotion to the ladies!
such courting and serenading!”

The curiosity of Zayda was fully aroused; she was insatiable in her
inquiries, and drew from the duenna the most animated pictures of the
scenes of her youthful days and native land. The beautiful Zorayda
bridled up, and slyly regarded herself in a mirror, when the theme
turned upon the charms of the Spanish ladies; while Zorahayda suppressed
a struggling sigh at the mention of moonlight serenades.

Every day the curious Zayda renewed her inquiries, and every day the
sage duenna repeated her stories, which were listened to with profound
interest, though with frequent sighs, by her gentle auditors. The
discreet old woman awoke at length to the mischief she might be doing.
She had been accustomed to think of the princesses only as children; but
they had imperceptibly ripened beneath her eye, and now bloomed before
her three lovely damsels of the marriageable age. It is time, thought
the duenna, to give notice to the king.

Mohamed the Left-handed was seated one morning on a divan in a cool hall
of the Alhambra, when a slave arrived from the fortress of Salobreña,
with a message from the sage Kadiga, congratulating him on the
anniversary of his daughters’ birth-day. The slave at the same time
presented a delicate little basket decorated with flowers, within which,
on a couch of vine and fig-leaves, lay a peach, an apricot, and a
nectarine, with their bloom and down and dewy sweetness upon them, and
all in the early stage of tempting ripeness. The monarch was versed in
the Oriental language of fruits and flowers, and rapidly divined the
meaning of this emblematical offering.

“So,” said he, “the critical period pointed out by the astrologers is
arrived: my daughters are at a marriageable age. What is to be done?
They are shut up from the eyes of men; they are under the eyes of the
discreet Kadiga,--all very good,--but still they are not under my own
eye, as was prescribed by the astrologers: I must gather them under my
wing, and trust to no other guardianship.”

So saying, he ordered that a tower of the Alhambra should be prepared
for their reception, and departed at the head of his guards for the
fortress of Salobreña, to conduct them home in person.

About three years had elapsed since Mohamed had beheld his daughters,
and he could scarcely credit his eyes at the wonderful change which that
small space of time had made in their appearance. During the interval,
they had passed that wondrous boundary line in female life which
separates the crude, unformed, and thoughtless girl from the blooming,
blushing, meditative woman. It is like passing from the flat, bleak,
uninteresting plains of La Mancha to the voluptuous valleys and swelling
hills of Andalusia.

Zayda was tall and finely formed, with a lofty demeanor and a
penetrating eye. She entered with a stately and decided step, and made a
profound reverence to Mohamed, treating him more as her sovereign than
her father. Zorayda was of the middle height, with an alluring look and
swimming gait, and a sparkling beauty, heightened by the assistance of
the toilette. She approached her father with a smile, kissed his hand,
and saluted him with several stanzas from a popular Arabian poet, with
which the monarch was delighted. Zorahayda was shy and timid, smaller
than her sisters, and with a beauty of that tender beseeching kind which
looks for fondness and protection. She was little fitted to command,
like her elder sister, or to dazzle like the second, but was rather
formed to creep to the bosom of manly affection, to nestle within it,
and be content. She drew near to her father, with a timid and almost
faltering step, and would have taken his hand to kiss, but on looking up
into his face, and seeing it beaming with a paternal smile, the
tenderness of her nature broke forth, and she threw herself upon his
neck.

Mohamed the Left-handed surveyed his blooming daughters with mingled
pride and perplexity, for while he exulted in their charms, he bethought
himself of the prediction of the astrologers. “Three daughters! three
daughters!” muttered he repeatedly to himself, “and all of a
marriageable age! Here’s tempting Hesperian fruit, that requires a
dragon watch!”

He prepared for his return to Granada, by sending heralds before him,
commanding every one to keep out of the road by which he was to pass,
and that all doors and windows should be closed at the approach of the
princesses. This done, he set forth, escorted by a troop of black
horsemen of hideous aspect, and clad in shining armor.

The princesses rode beside the king, closely veiled, on beautiful white
palfreys, with velvet caparisons, embroidered with gold, and sweeping
the ground; the bits and stirrups were of gold, and the silken bridles
adorned with pearls and precious stones. The palfreys were covered with
little silver bells, which made the most musical tinkling as they ambled
gently along. Woe to the unlucky wight, however, who lingered in the way
when he heard the tinkling of these bells!--the guards were ordered to
cut him down without mercy.

The cavalcade was drawing near to Granada, when it overtook, on the
banks of the river Xenil, a small body of Moorish soldiers with a convoy
of prisoners. It was too late for the soldiers to get out of the way, so
they threw themselves on their faces on the earth, ordering their
captives to do the like. Among the prisoners were the three identical
cavaliers whom the princesses had seen from the pavilion. They either
did not understand, or were too haughty to obey the order, and remained
standing and gazing upon the cavalcade as it approached.

The ire of the monarch was kindled at this flagrant defiance of his
orders. Drawing his cimeter, and pressing forward, he was about to deal
a left-handed blow that might have been fatal to at least one of the
gazers, when the princesses crowded round him, and implored mercy for
the prisoners; even the timid Zorahayda forgot her shyness, and became
eloquent in their behalf. Mohamed paused, with uplifted cimeter, when
the captain of the guard threw himself at his feet. “Let not your
highness,” said he, “do a deed that may cause great scandal throughout
the kingdom. These are three brave and noble Spanish knights, who have
been taken in battle, fighting like lions; they are of high birth, and
may bring great ransoms.”--“Enough!” said the king. “I will spare their
lives, but punish their audacity--let them be taken to the Vermilion
Towers, and put to hard labor.”

Mohamed was making one of his usual left-handed blunders. In the tumult
and agitation of this blustering scene, the veils of the three
princesses had been thrown back, and the radiance of their beauty
revealed; and in prolonging the parley, the king had given that beauty
time to have its full effect. In those days people fell in love much
more suddenly than at present, as all ancient stories make manifest: it
is not a matter of wonder, therefore, that the hearts of the three
cavaliers were completely captured; especially as gratitude was added to
their admiration; it is a little singular, however, though no less
certain, that each of them was enraptured with a several beauty. As to
the princesses, they were more than ever struck with the noble demeanor
of the captives, and cherished in their breasts all that they had heard
of their valor and noble lineage.

The cavalcade resumed its march; the three princesses rode pensively
along on their tinkling palfreys, now and then stealing a glance behind
in search of the Christian captives, and the latter were conducted to
their allotted prison in the Vermilion Towers.

The residence provided for the princesses was one of the most dainty
that fancy could devise. It was in a tower somewhat apart from the main
palace of the Alhambra, though connected with it by the wall which
encircled the whole summit of the hill. On one side it looked into the
interior of the fortress, and had, at its foot, a small garden filled
with the rarest flowers. On the other side it overlooked a deep
embowered ravine separating the grounds of the Alhambra from those of
the Generalife. The interior of the tower was divided into small fairy
apartments, beautifully ornamented in the light Arabian style,
surrounding a lofty hall, the vaulted roof of which rose almost to the
summit of the tower. The walls and the ceilings of the hall were adorned
with arabesque and fretwork, sparkling with gold and with brilliant
pencilling. In the centre of the marble pavement was an alabaster
fountain, set round with aromatic shrubs and flowers, and throwing up a
jet of water that cooled the whole edifice and had a lulling sound.
Round the hall were suspended cages of gold and silver wire, containing
singing birds of the finest plumage or sweetest note.

The princesses had been represented as always cheerful when in the
castle of the Salobreña; the king had expected to see them enraptured
with the Alhambra. To his surprise, however, they began to pine, and
grow melancholy, and dissatisfied with everything around them. The
flowers yielded them no fragrance, the song of the nightingale disturbed
their night’s rest, and they were out of all patience with the alabaster
fountain, with its eternal drop-drop and splash-splash, from morning
till night and from night till morning.

The king, who was somewhat of a testy, tyrannical disposition, took this
at first in high dudgeon; but he reflected that his daughters had
arrived at an age when the female mind expands and its desires augment.
“They are no longer children,” said he to himself, “they are women
grown, and require suitable objects to interest them.” He put in
requisition, therefore, all the dressmakers, and the jewellers, and the
artificers in gold and silver throughout the Zacatin of Granada, and the
princesses were overwhelmed with robes of silk, and tissue, and brocade,
and cashmere shawls, and necklaces of pearls and diamonds, and rings,
and bracelets, and anklets, and all manner of precious things.

All, however, was of no avail; the princesses continued pale and languid
in the midst of their finery, and looked like three blighted rose-buds,
drooping from one stalk. The king was at his wits’ end. He had in
general a laudable confidence in his own judgment, and never took
advice. “The whims and caprices of three marriageable damsels, however,
are sufficient,” said he, “to puzzle the shrewdest head.” So for once in
his life he called in the aid of counsel.

The person to whom he applied was the experienced duenna.

“Kadiga,” said the king, “I know you to be one of the most discreet
women in the whole world, as well as one of the most trustworthy; for
these reasons I have always continued you about the persons of my
daughters. Fathers cannot be too wary in whom they repose such
confidence; I now wish you to find out the secret malady that is preying
upon the princesses, and to devise some means of restoring them to
health and cheerfulness.”

Kadiga promised implicit obedience. In fact she knew more of the malady
of the princesses than they themselves. Shutting herself up with them,
however, she endeavored to insinuate herself into their confidence.

“My dear children, what is the reason you are so dismal and downcast in
so beautiful a place, where you have everything that heart can wish?”

The princesses looked vacantly round the apartment, and sighed.

“What more, then, would you have? Shall I get you the wonderful parrot
that talks all languages, and is the delight of Granada?”

“Odious!” exclaimed the princess Zayda. “A horrid, screaming bird, that
chatters words without ideas: one must be without brains to tolerate
such a pest.”

“Shall I send for a monkey from the rock of Gibraltar, to divert you
with his antics?”

“A monkey! faugh!” cried Zorayda; “the detestable mimic of man. I hate
the nauseous animal.”

“What say you to the famous black singer Casem, from the royal harem, in
Morocco? They say he has a voice as fine as a woman’s.”

“I am terrified at the sight of these black slaves,” said the delicate
Zorahayda; “besides, I have lost all relish for music.”

“Ah! my child, you would not say so,” replied the old woman, slyly, “had
you heard the music I heard last evening, from the three Spanish
cavaliers whom we met on our journey. But bless me, children! what is
the matter that you blush so and are in such a flutter?”

“Nothing, nothing, good mother; pray proceed.”

“Well; as I was passing by the Vermilion Towers last evening, I saw the
three cavaliers resting after their day’s labor. One was playing on the
guitar, so gracefully, and the others sang by turns; and they did it in
such style, that the very guards seemed like statues, or men enchanted.
Allah forgive me! I could not help being moved at hearing the songs of
my native country. And then to see three such noble and handsome youths
in chains and slavery!”

Here the kind-hearted old woman could not restrain her tears.

“Perhaps, mother, you could manage to procure us a sight of these
cavaliers,” said Zayda.

“I think,” said Zorayda, “a little music would be quite reviving.”

The timid Zorahayda said nothing, but threw her arms round the neck of
Kadiga.

“Mercy on me!” exclaimed the discreet old woman; “what are you talking
of, my children? Your father would be the death of us all if he heard of
such a thing. To be sure, these cavaliers are evidently well-bred, and
high-minded youths; but what of that? they are the enemies of our faith,
and you must not even think of them but with abhorrence.”

There is an admirable intrepidity in the female will, particularly when
about the marriageable age, which is not to be deterred by dangers and
prohibitions. The princesses hung round their old duenna, and coaxed,
and entreated, and declared that a refusal would break their hearts.

What could she do? She was certainly the most discreet old woman in the
whole world, and one of the most faithful servants to the king; but was
she to see three beautiful princesses break their hearts for the mere
tinkling of a guitar? Besides, though she had been so long among the
Moors, and changed her faith in imitation of her mistress, like a trusty
follower, yet she was a Spaniard born, and had the lingerings of
Christianity in her heart. So she set about to contrive how the wish of
the princesses might be gratified.

The Christian captives, confined in the Vermilion Towers, were under the
charge of a big-whiskered, broad-shouldered renegado, called Hussein
Baba, who was reputed to have a most itching palm. She went to him
privately, and slipping a broad piece of gold into his hand, “Hussein
Baba,” said she; “my mistresses the three princesses, who are shut up in
the tower, and in sad want of amusement, have heard of the musical
talents of the three Spanish cavaliers, and are desirous of hearing a
specimen of their skill. I am sure you are too kind-hearted to refuse
them so innocent a gratification.”

“What! and to have my head set grinning over the gate of my own tower!
for that would be the reward, if the king should discover it.”

“No danger of anything of the kind; the affair may be managed so that
the whim of the princesses may be gratified, and their father be never
the wiser. You know the deep ravine outside of the walls which passes
immediately below the tower. Put the three Christians to work there, and
at the intervals of their labor, let them play and sing, as if for their
own recreation. In this way the princesses will be able to hear them
from the windows of the tower, and you may be sure of their paying well
for your compliance.”

As the good old woman concluded her harangue, she kindly pressed the
rough hand of the renegado, and left within it another piece of gold.

Her eloquence was irresistible. The very next day the three cavaliers
were put to work in the ravine. During the noontide heat, when their
fellow-laborers were sleeping in the shade, and the guard nodding
drowsily at his post, they seated themselves among the herbage at the
foot of the tower, and sang a Spanish roundelay to the accompaniment of
the guitar.

The glen was deep, the tower was high, but their voices rose distinctly
in the stillness of the summer noon. The princesses listened from their
balcony, they had been taught the Spanish language by their duenna, and
were moved by the tenderness of the song. The discreet Kadiga, on the
contrary, was terribly shocked. “Allah preserve us!” cried she, “they
are singing a love-ditty, addressed to yourselves. Did ever mortal hear
of such audacity? I will run to the slave-master, and have them soundly
bastinadoed.”

“What! bastinado such gallant cavaliers, and for singing so charmingly!”
The three beautiful princesses were filled with horror at the idea. With
all her virtuous indignation, the good old woman was of a placable
nature, and easily appeased. Besides, the music seemed to have a
beneficial effect upon her young mistresses. A rosy bloom had already
come to their cheeks, and their eyes began to sparkle. She made no
further objection, therefore, to the amorous ditty of the cavaliers.

When it was finished, the princesses remained silent for a time; at
length Zorayda took up a lute, and with a sweet, though faint and
trembling voice, warbled a little Arabian air, the burden of which was,
“The rose is concealed among her leaves, but she listens with delight to
the song of the nightingale.”

From this time forward the cavaliers worked almost daily in the ravine.
The considerate Hussein Baba became more and more indulgent, and daily
more prone to sleep at his post. For some time a vague intercourse was
kept up by popular songs and romances, which in some measure responded
to each other, and breathed the feelings of the parties. By degrees the
princesses showed themselves at the balcony, when they could do so
without being perceived by the guards. They conversed with the cavaliers
also, by means of flowers, with the symbolical language of which they
were mutually acquainted; the difficulties of their intercourse added to
its charms, and strengthened the passion they had so singularly
conceived; for love delights to struggle with difficulties, and thrives
the most hardily on the scantiest soil.

The change effected in the looks and spirits of the princesses by this
secret intercourse, surprised and gratified the left-handed king; but no
one was more elated than the discreet Kadiga, who considered it all
owing to her able management.

At length there was an interruption in this telegraphic correspondence:
for several days the cavaliers ceased to make their appearance in the
glen. The princesses looked out from the tower in vain. In vain they
stretched their swan-like necks from the balcony; in vain they sang like
captive nightingales in their cage: nothing was to be seen of their
Christian lovers; not a note responded from the groves. The discreet
Kadiga sallied forth in quest of intelligence, and soon returned with a
face full of trouble. “Ah, my children!” cried she, “I saw what all this
would come to, but you would have your way; you may now hang up your
lutes on the willows. The Spanish cavaliers are ransomed by their
families; they are down in Granada, and preparing to return to their
native country.”

The three beautiful princesses were in despair at the tidings. Zayda was
indignant at the slight put upon them, in thus being deserted without a
parting word. Zorayda wrung her hands and cried, and looked in the
glass, and wiped away her tears, and cried afresh. The gentle Zorahayda
leaned over the balcony and wept in silence, and her tears fell drop by
drop among the flowers of the bank where the faithless cavaliers had so
often been seated.

The discreet Kadiga did all in her power to soothe their sorrow. “Take
comfort, my children,” said she, “this is nothing when you are used to
it. This is the way of the world. Ah! when you are as old as I am, you
will know how to value these men. I’ll warrant these cavaliers have
their loves among the Spanish beauties of Cordova and Seville, and will
soon be serenading under their balconies, and thinking no more of the
Moorish beauties in the Alhambra. Take comfort, therefore, my children,
and drive them from your hearts.”

The comforting words of the discreet Kadiga only redoubled the distress
of the three princesses, and for two days they continued inconsolable.
On the morning of the third the good old woman entered their apartment,
all ruffling with indignation.

“Who would have believed such insolence in mortal man!” exclaimed she,
as soon as she could find words to express herself; “but I am rightly
served for having connived at this deception of your worthy father.
Never talk more to me of your Spanish cavaliers.”

“Why, what has happened, good Kadiga?” exclaimed the princesses in
breathless anxiety.

“What has happened?--treason has happened! or, what is almost as bad,
treason has been proposed; and to me, the most faithful of subjects, the
trustiest of duennas! Yes, my children, the Spanish cavaliers have dared
to tamper with me, that I should persuade you to fly with them to
Cordova, and become their wives!”

Here the excellent old woman covered her face with her hands, and gave
way to a violent burst of grief and indignation. The three beautiful
princesses turned pale and red, pale and red, and trembled, and looked
down, and cast shy looks at each other, but said nothing. Meantime the
old woman sat rocking backward and forward in violent agitation, and now
and then breaking out into exclamations,--“That ever I should live to be
so insulted!--I, the most faithful of servants!”

At length the eldest princess, who had most spirit and always took the
lead, approached her and laying her hand upon her shoulder, “Well,
mother,” said she, “supposing we were willing to fly with these
Christian cavaliers--is such a thing possible?”

The good old woman paused suddenly in her grief, and looking up,
“Possible,” echoed she; “to be sure it is possible. Have not the
cavaliers already bribed Hussein Baba, the renegado captain of the
guard, and arranged the whole plan? But, then, to think of deceiving
your father! your father, who has placed such confidence in me!” Here
the worthy woman gave way to a fresh burst of grief, and began again to
rock backward and forward, and to wring her hands.

“But our father has never placed any confidence in us,” said the eldest
princess, “but has trusted to bolts and bars, and treated us as
captives.”

“Why, that is true enough,” replied the old woman, again pausing in her
grief; “he has indeed treated you most unreasonably, keeping you shut up
here, to waste your bloom in a moping old tower, like roses left to
wither in a flower-jar. But, then, to fly from your native land!”

“And is not the land we fly to the native land of our mother, where we
shall live in freedom? And shall we not each have a youthful husband in
exchange for a severe old father?”

“Why, that again is all very true; and your father, I must confess, is
rather tyrannical; but what then,” relapsing into her grief, “would you
leave me behind to bear the brunt of his vengeance?”

“By no means, my good Kadiga; cannot you fly with us?”

“Very true, my child; and, to tell the truth, when I talked the matter
over with Hussein Baba, he promised to take care of me, if I would
accompany you in your flight; but then, bethink you, my children, are
you willing to renounce the faith of your father?”

“The Christian faith was the original faith of our mother,” said the
eldest princess; “I am ready to embrace it, and so, I am sure, are my
sisters.”

“Right again,” exclaimed the old woman, brightening up; “it was the
original faith of your mother, and bitterly did she lament, on her
death-bed, that she had renounced it. I promised her then to take care
of your souls, and I rejoice to see that they are now in a fair way to
be saved. Yes, my children, I too was born a Christian, and have
remained a Christian in my heart, and am resolved to return to the
faith. I have talked on the subject with Hussein Baba, who is a Spaniard
by birth, and comes from a place not far from my native town. He is
equally anxious to see his own country, and to be reconciled to the
Church; and the cavaliers have promised that, if we are disposed to
become man and wife, on returning to our native land, they will provide
for us handsomely.”

In a word, it appeared that this extremely discreet and provident old
woman had consulted with the cavaliers and the renegado, and had
concerted the whole plan of escape. The eldest princess immediately
assented to it; and her example, as usual, determined the conduct of her
sisters. It is true the youngest hesitated, for she was gentle and timid
of soul, and there was a struggle in her bosom between filial feeling
and youthful passion: the latter, however, as usual, gained the victory,
and with silent tears and stifled sighs she prepared herself for flight.

The rugged hill on which the Alhambra is built was, in old times,
perforated with subterranean passages, cut through the rock, and leading
from the fortress to various parts of the city, and to distant
sally-ports on the banks of the Darro and the Xenil. They had been
constructed at different times by the Moorish kings, as means of escape
from sudden insurrections, or of secretly issuing forth on private
enterprises. Many of them are now entirely lost, while others remain,
partly choked with rubbish, and partly walled up,--monuments of the
jealous precautions and warlike stratagems of the Moorish government. By
one of these passages Hussein Baba had undertaken to conduct the
princesses to a sally-port beyond the walls of the city, where the
cavaliers were to be ready with fleet steeds, to bear the whole party
over the borders.

The appointed night arrived; the tower of the princesses had been locked
up as usual, and the Alhambra was buried in deep sleep. Towards midnight
the discreet Kadiga listened from the balcony of a window that looked
into the garden. Hussein Baba, the renegado, was already below, and gave
the appointed signal. The duenna fastened the end of a ladder of ropes
to the balcony, lowered it into the garden and descended. The two eldest
princesses followed her with beating hearts; but when it came to the
turn of the youngest princess, Zorahayda, she hesitated and trembled.
Several times she ventured a delicate little foot upon the ladder, and
as often drew it back, while her poor little heart fluttered more and
more the longer she delayed. She cast a wistful look back into the
silken chamber; she had lived in it, to be sure, like a bird in a cage;
but within it she was secure; who could tell what dangers might beset
her, should she flutter forth into the wide world! Now she bethought her
of her gallant Christian lover, and her little foot was instantly upon
the ladder; and anon she thought of her father, and shrank back. But
fruitless is the attempt to describe the conflict in the bosom of one so
young and tender and loving, but so timid and so ignorant of the world.

In vain her sisters implored, the duenna scolded, and the renegado
blasphemed beneath the balcony; the gentle little Moorish maid stood
doubting and wavering on the verge of elopement; tempted by the
sweetness of the sin, but terrified at its perils.

Every moment increased the danger of discovery. A distant tramp was
heard. “The patrols are walking their rounds,” cried the renegado; “if
we linger, we perish. Princess, descend instantly, or we leave you.”

Zorahayda was for a moment in fearful agitation; then loosening the
ladder of ropes, with desperate resolution she flung it from the
balcony.

“It is decided!” cried she; “flight is now out of my power! Allah guide
and bless ye, my dear sisters!”

The two eldest princesses were shocked at the thoughts of leaving her
behind, and would fain have lingered, but the patrol was advancing; the
renegado was furious, and they were hurried away to the subterraneous
passage. They groped their way through a fearful labyrinth, cut through
the heart of the mountain, and succeeded in reaching, undiscovered, an
iron gate that opened outside of the walls. The Spanish cavaliers were
waiting to receive them, disguised as Moorish soldiers of the guard,
commanded by the renegado.

The lover of Zorahayda was frantic when he learned that she had refused
to leave the tower; but there was no time to waste in lamentations. The
two princesses were placed behind their lovers, the discreet Kadiga
mounted behind the renegado, and they all set off at a round pace in the
direction of the Pass of Lope, which leads through the mountains towards
Cordova.

They had not proceeded far when they heard the noise of drums and
trumpets from the battlements of the Alhambra.

“Our flight is discovered!” said the renegado.

“We have fleet steeds, the night is dark, and we may distance all
pursuit,” replied the cavaliers.

They put spurs to their horses, and scoured across the Vega. They
attained the foot of the mountain of Elvira, which stretches like a
promontory into the plain. The renegado paused and listened. “As yet,”
said he, “there is no one on our traces, we shall make good our escape
to the mountains.” While he spoke, a light blaze sprang up on the top of
the watch-tower of the Alhambra.

“Confusion!” cried the renegado, “that bale fire will put all the guards
of the passes on the alert. Away! away! Spur like mad,--there is no time
to be lost.”

Away they dashed--the clattering of their horses’ hoofs echoed from rock
to rock, as they swept along the road that skirts the rocky mountain of
Elvira. As they galloped on, the bale fire of the Alhambra was answered
in every direction; light after light blazed on the Atalayas, or
watch-towers of the mountains.

“Forward! forward!” cried the renegado, with many an oath, “to the
bridge,--to the bridge, before the alarm has reached there!”

They doubled the promontory of the mountains, and arrived in sight of
the famous Bridge of Pinos, that crosses a rushing stream often dyed
with Christian and Moslem blood. To their confusion, the tower on the
bridge blazed with lights and glittered with armed men. The renegado
pulled up his steed, rose in his stirrups and looked about him for a
moment; then beckoning to the cavaliers, he struck off from the road,
skirted the river for some distance, and dashed into its waters. The
cavaliers called upon the princesses to cling to them, and did the same.
They were borne for some distance down the rapid current, the surges
roared round them, but the beautiful princesses clung to their Christian
knights, and never uttered a complaint. The cavaliers attained the
opposite bank in safety, and were conducted by the renegado, by rude and
unfrequented paths and wild barrancos, through the heart of the
mountains, so as to avoid all the regular passes. In a word, they
succeeded in reaching the ancient city of Cordova; where their
restoration to their country and friends was celebrated with great
rejoicings, for they were of the noblest families. The beautiful
princesses were forthwith received into the bosom of the Church, and,
after being in all due form made regular Christians, were rendered happy
wives.

In our hurry to make good the escape of the princesses across the river,
and up the mountains, we forgot to mention the fate of the discreet
Kadiga. She had clung like a cat to Hussein Baba in the scamper across
the Vega, screaming at every bound, and drawing many an oath from the
whiskered renegado; but when he prepared to plunge his steed into the
river, her terror knew no bounds. “Grasp me not so tightly,” cried
Hussein Baba; “hold on by my belt and fear nothing.” She held firmly
with both hands by the leathern belt that girded the broad-backed
renegado; but when he halted with the cavaliers to take breath on the
mountain summit, the duenna was no longer to be seen.

“What has become of Kadiga?” cried the princesses in alarm.

“Allah alone knows!” replied the renegado; “my belt came loose when in
the midst of the river, and Kadiga was swept with it down the stream.
The will of Allah be done! but it was an embroidered belt, and of great
price.”

There was no time to waste in idle regrets; yet bitterly did the
princesses bewail the loss of their discreet counsellor. That excellent
old woman, however, did not lose more than half of her nine lives in the
water: a fisherman, who was drawing his nets some distance down the
stream, brought her to land, and was not a little astonished at his
miraculous draught. What further became of the discreet Kadiga, the
legend does not mention; certain it is that she evinced her discretion
in never venturing within the reach of Mohamed the Left-handed.

Almost as little is known of the conduct of that sagacious monarch when
he discovered the escape of his daughters, and the deceit practised upon
him by the most faithful of servants. It was the only instance in which
he had called in the aid of counsel, and he was never afterwards known
to be guilty of a similar weakness. He took good care, however, to guard
his remaining daughter, who had no disposition to elope; it is thought,
indeed, that she secretly repented having remained behind: now and then
she was seen leaning on the battlements of the tower, and looking
mournfully towards the mountains in the direction of Cordova, and
sometimes the notes of her lute were heard accompanying plaintive
ditties, in which she was said to lament the loss of her sisters and her
lover, and to bewail her solitary life. She died young, and, according
to popular rumor, was buried in a vault beneath the tower, and her
untimely fate has given rise to more than one traditionary fable.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following legend, which seems in some measure to spring out of the
foregoing story, is too closely connected with high historic names to be
entirely doubted. The count’s daughter, and some of her young
companions, to whom it was read in one of the evening tertulias, thought
certain parts of it had much appearance of reality; and Dolores, who was
much more versed than they in the improbable truths of the Alhambra,
believed every word of it.



LEGEND OF THE ROSE OF THE ALHAMBRA


For some time after the surrender of Granada by the Moors, that
delightful city was a frequent and favorite residence of the Spanish
sovereigns, until they were frightened away by successive shocks of
earthquakes, which toppled down various houses, and made the old Moslem
towers rock to their foundation.

Many, many years then rolled away, during which Granada was rarely
honored by a royal guest. The palaces of the nobility remained silent
and shut up; and the Alhambra, like a slighted beauty, sat in mournful
desolation among her neglected gardens. The tower of the Infantas, once
the residence of the three beautiful Moorish princesses, partook of the
general desolation; the spider spun her web athwart the gilded vault,
and bats and owls nestled in those chambers that had been graced by the
presence of Zayda, Zorayda, and Zorahayda. The neglect of this tower may
have been partly owing to some superstitious notions of the neighbors.
It was rumored that the spirit of the youthful Zorahayda, who had
perished in that tower, was often seen by moonlight seated beside the
fountain in the hall, or moaning about the battlements, and that the
notes of her silver lute would be heard at midnight by wayfarers passing
along the glen.

At length the city of Granada was once more welcomed by the royal
presence. All the world knows that Philip V. was the first Bourbon that
swayed the Spanish sceptre. All the world knows that he married, in
second nuptials, Elizabetta or Isabella (for they are the same), the
beautiful princess of Parma; and all the world knows that by this chain
of contingencies a French prince and an Italian princess were seated
together on the Spanish throne. For a visit of this illustrious pair,
the Alhambra was repaired and fitted up with all possible expedition.
The arrival of the court changed the whole aspect of the lately deserted
palace. The clangor of drum and trumpet, the tramp of steed about the
avenues and outer court, the glitter of arms and display of banners
about barbican and battlement, recalled the ancient and warlike glories
of the fortress. A softer spirit, however, reigned within the royal
palace. There was the rustling of robes and the cautious tread and
murmuring voice of reverential courtiers about the antechambers; a
loitering of pages and maids of honor about the gardens, and the sound
of music stealing from open casements.

Among those who attended in the train of the monarchs was a favorite
page of the queen, named Ruyz de Alarcon. To say that he was a favorite
page of the queen was at once to speak his eulogium, for every one in
the suite of the stately Elizabetta was chosen for grace, and beauty,
and accomplishments. He was just turned of eighteen, light and lithe of
form, and graceful as a young Antinous. To the queen he was all
deference and respect, yet he was at heart a roguish stripling, petted
and spoiled by the ladies about the court, and experienced in the ways
of women far beyond his years.

This loitering page was one morning rambling about the groves of the
Generalife, which overlook the grounds of the Alhambra. He had taken
with him for his amusement a favorite ger-falcon of the queen. In the
course of his rambles, seeing a bird rising from a thicket, he unhooded
the hawk and let him fly. The falcon towered high in the air, made a
swoop at his quarry, but missing it, soared away, regardless of the
calls of the page. The latter followed the truant bird with his eye, in
its capricious flight, until he saw it alight upon the battlements of a
remote and lonely tower, in the outer wall of the Alhambra, built on the
edge of a ravine that separated the royal fortress from the grounds of
the Generalife. It was in fact the “Tower of the Princesses.”

The page descended into the ravine and approached the tower, but it had
no entrance from the glen, and its lofty height rendered any attempt to
scale it fruitless. Seeking one of the gates of the fortress, therefore,
he made a wide circuit to that side of the tower facing within the
walls.

A small garden, enclosed by a trellis-work of reeds overhung with
myrtle, lay before the tower. Opening a wicket, the page passed between
beds of flowers and thickets of roses to the door. It was closed and
bolted. A crevice in the door gave him a peep into the interior. There
was a small Moorish hall with fretted walls, light marble columns, and
an alabaster fountain surrounded with flowers. In the centre hung a gilt
cage containing a singing-bird; beneath it, on a chair, lay a
tortoise-shell cat among reels of silk and other articles of female
labor, and a guitar decorated with ribbons leaned against the fountain.

Ruyz de Alarcon was struck with these traces of female taste and
elegance in a lonely, and, as he had supposed, deserted tower. They
reminded him of the tales of enchanted halls current in the Alhambra;
and the tortoise-shell cat might be some spell-bound princess.

He knocked gently at the door. A beautiful face peeped out from a little
window above, but was instantly withdrawn. He waited, expecting that the
door would be opened, but he waited in vain; no footstep was to be heard
within--all was silent. Had his senses deceived him, or was this
beautiful apparition the fairy of the tower? He knocked again, and more
loudly. After a little while the beaming face once more peeped forth; it
was that of a blooming damsel of fifteen.

The page immediately doffed his plumed bonnet, and entreated in the most
courteous accents to be permitted to ascend the tower in pursuit of his
falcon.

“I dare not open the door, Señor,” replied the little damsel, blushing,
“my aunt has forbidden it.”

“I do beseech you, fair maid--it is the favorite falcon of the queen: I
dare not return to the palace without it.”

“Are you then one of the cavaliers of the court?”

“I am, fair maid; but I shall lose the queen’s favor and my place, if I
lose this hawk.”

“Santa Maria! It is against you cavaliers of the court my aunt has
charged me especially to bar the door.”

“Against wicked cavaliers, doubtless, but I am none of these, but a
simple, harmless page, who will be ruined and undone if you deny me this
small request.”

The heart of the little damsel was touched by the distress of the page.
It was a thousand pities he should be ruined for the want of so trifling
a boon. Surely too he could not be one of those dangerous beings whom
her aunt had described as a species of cannibal, ever on the prowl to
make prey of thoughtless damsels; he was gentle and modest, and stood so
entreatingly with cap in hand, and looked so charming.

The sly page saw that the garrison began to waver, and redoubled his
entreaties in such moving terms that it was not in the nature of mortal
maiden to deny him; so the blushing little warden of the tower
descended, and opened the door with a trembling hand, and if the page
had been charmed by a mere glimpse of her countenance from the window,
he was ravished by the full-length portrait now revealed to him.

Her Andalusian bodice and trim basquiña set off the round but delicate
symmetry of her form, which was as yet scarce verging into womanhood.
Her glossy hair was parted on her forehead with scrupulous exactness,
and decorated with a fresh plucked rose, according to the universal
custom of the country. It is true her complexion was tinged by the ardor
of a southern sun, but it served to give richness to the mantling bloom
of her cheek, and to heighten the lustre of her melting eyes.

Ruyz de Alarcon beheld all this with a single glance, for it became him
not to tarry; he merely murmured his acknowledgments, and then bounded
lightly up the spiral staircase in quest of his falcon.

He soon returned with the truant bird upon his fist. The damsel, in the
mean time, had seated herself by the fountain in the hall, and was
winding silk; but in her agitation she let fall the reel upon the
pavement. The page sprang and picked it up, then dropping gracefully on
one knee, presented it to her; but, seizing the hand extended to receive
it, imprinted on it a kiss more fervent and devout than he had ever
imprinted on the fair hand of his sovereign.

“Ave Maria, Señor!” exclaimed the damsel, blushing still deeper with
confusion and surprise, for never before had she received such a
salutation.

The modest page made a thousand apologies, assuring her it was the way
at court of expressing the most profound homage and respect.

Her anger, if anger she felt, was easily pacified, but her agitation and
embarrassment continued, and she sat blushing deeper and deeper, with
her eyes cast down upon her work, entangling the silk which she
attempted to wind.

The cunning page saw the confusion in the opposite camp, and would fain
have profited by it, but the fine speeches he would have uttered died
upon his lips; his attempts at gallantry were awkward and ineffectual;
and to his surprise, the adroit page, who had figured with such grace
and effrontery among the most knowing and experienced ladies of the
court, found himself awed and abashed in the presence of a simple damsel
of fifteen.

In fact, the artless maiden, in her own modesty and innocence, had
guardians more effectual than the bolts and bars prescribed by her
vigilant aunt. Still, where is the female bosom proof against the first
whisperings of love? The little damsel, with all her artlessness,
instinctively comprehended all that the faltering tongue of the page
failed to express, and her heart was fluttered at beholding, for the
first time, a lover at her feet--and such a lover!

The diffidence of the page, though genuine, was short-lived, and he was
recovering his usual ease and confidence, when a shrill voice was heard
at a distance.

“My aunt is returning from mass!” cried the damsel in affright: “I pray
you, Señor, depart.”

“Not until you grant me that rose from your hair as a remembrance.”

She hastily untwisted the rose from her raven locks. “Take it,” cried
she, agitated and blushing, “but pray begone.”

The page took the rose, and at the same time covered with kisses the
fair hand that gave it. Then, placing the flower in his bonnet, and
taking the falcon upon his fist, he bounded off through the garden,
bearing away with him the heart of the gentle Jacinta.

When the vigilant aunt arrived at the tower, she remarked the agitation
of her niece, and an air of confusion in the hall; but a word of
explanation sufficed. “A ger-falcon had pursued his prey into the hall.”

“Mercy on us! to think of a falcon flying into the tower. Did ever one
hear of so saucy a hawk? Why, the very bird in the cage is not safe!”

The vigilant Fredegonda was one of the most wary of ancient spinsters.
She had a becoming terror and distrust of what she denominated “the
opposite sex,” which had gradually increased through a long life of
celibacy. Not that the good lady had ever suffered from their wiles,
nature having set up a safeguard in her face that forbade all trespass
upon her premises; but ladies who have least cause to fear for
themselves are most ready to keep a watch over their more tempting
neighbors.

The niece was an orphan of an officer who had fallen in the wars. She
had been educated in a convent, and had recently been transferred from
her sacred asylum to the immediate guardianship of her aunt, under whose
overshadowing care she vegetated in obscurity, like an opening rose
blooming beneath a brier. Nor indeed is this comparison entirely
accidental; for, to tell the truth, her fresh and dawning beauty had
caught the public eye, even in her seclusion, and, with that poetical
turn common to the people of Andalusia, the peasantry of the
neighborhood had given her the appellation of “the Rose of the
Alhambra.”

The wary aunt continued to keep a faithful watch over her tempting
little niece as long as the court continued at Granada, and flattered
herself that her vigilance had been successful. It is true the good lady
was now and then discomposed by the tinkling of guitars and chanting of
love-ditties from the moonlit groves beneath the tower; but she would
exhort her niece to shut her ears against such idle minstrelsy, assuring
her that it was one of the arts of the opposite sex, by which simple
maids were often lured to their undoing. Alas! what chance with a simple
maid has a dry lecture against a moonlight serenade?

At length King Philip cut short his sojourn at Granada, and suddenly
departed with all his train. The vigilant Fredegonda watched the royal
pageant as it issued forth from the Gate of Justice, and descended the
great avenue leading to the city. When the last banner disappeared from
her sight, she returned exulting to her tower, for all her cares were
over. To her surprise, a light Arabian steed pawed the ground at the
wicket-gate of the garden;--to her horror, she saw through the thickets
of roses a youth in gayly embroidered dress, at the feet of her niece.
At the sound of her footsteps he gave a tender adieu, bounded lightly
over the barrier of reeds and myrtles, sprang upon his horse, and was
out of sight in an instant.

The tender Jacinta, in the agony of her grief, lost all thought of her
aunt’s displeasure. Throwing herself into her arms, she broke forth into
sobs and tears.

“Ay de mi!” cried she; “he’s gone!--he’s gone!--he’s gone! and I shall
never see him more!”

“Gone!--who is gone?--what youth is that I saw at your feet?”

“A queen’s page, aunt, who came to bid me farewell.”

“A queen’s page, child!” echoed the vigilant Fredegonda, faintly, “and
when did you become acquainted with the queen’s page?”

“The morning that the ger-falcon came into the tower. It was the queen’s
ger-falcon, and he came in pursuit of it.”

“Ah silly, silly girl! know that there are no ger-falcons half so
dangerous as these young prankling pages, and it is precisely such
simple birds as thee that they pounce upon.”

The aunt was at first indignant at learning that in despite of her
boasted vigilance, a tender intercourse had been carried on by the
youthful lovers, almost beneath her eye; but when she found that her
simple-hearted niece, though thus exposed, without the protection of
bolt or bar, to all the machinations of the opposite sex, had come forth
unsinged from the fiery ordeal, she consoled herself with the persuasion
that it was owing to the chaste and cautious maxims in which she had, as
it were, steeped her to the very lips.

While the aunt laid this soothing unction to her pride, the niece
treasured up the oft-repeated vows of fidelity of the page. But what is
the love of restless, roving man? A vagrant stream that dallies for a
time with each flower upon its bank, then passes on, and leaves them all
in tears.

Days, weeks, months elapsed, and nothing more was heard of the page. The
pomegranate ripened, the vine yielded up its fruit, the autumnal rains
descended in torrents from the mountains; the Sierra Nevada became
covered with a snowy mantle, and wintry blasts howled through the halls
of the Alhambra--still he came not. The winter passed away. Again the
genial spring burst forth with song and blossom and balmy zephyr; the
snows melted from the mountains, until none remained but on the lofty
summit of Nevada, glistening through the sultry summer air. Still
nothing was heard of the forgetful page.

In the mean time the poor little Jacinta grew pale and thoughtful. Her
former occupations and amusements were abandoned, her silk lay
entangled, her guitar unstrung, her flowers were neglected, the notes of
her bird unheeded, and her eyes, once so bright, were dimmed with secret
weeping. If any solitude could be devised to foster the passion of a
love-lorn damsel it would be such a place as the Alhambra, where
everything seems disposed to produce tender and romantic reveries. It is
a very paradise for lovers; how hard then to be alone in such a
paradise--and not merely alone, but forsaken!

“Alas, silly child!” would the staid and immaculate Fredegonda say, when
she found her niece in one of her desponding moods--“did I not warn thee
against the wiles and deceptions of these men? What couldst thou expect,
too, from one of a haughty and aspiring family--thou an orphan, the
descendant of a fallen and impoverished line? Be assured, if the youth
were true, his father, who is one of the proudest nobles about the
court, would prohibit his union with one so humble and portionless as
thou. Pluck up thy resolution, therefore, and drive these idle notions
from thy mind.”

The words of the immaculate Fredegonda only served to increase the
melancholy of her niece, but she sought to indulge it in private. At a
late hour one midsummer night, after her aunt had retired to rest, she
remained alone in the hall of the tower, seated beside the alabaster
fountain. It was here that the faithless page had first knelt and kissed
her hand; it was here that he had often vowed eternal fidelity. The poor
little damsel’s heart was overladen with sad and tender recollections,
her tears began to flow, and slowly fell drop by drop into the
fountain. By degrees the crystal water became agitated,
and--bubble--bubble--bubble--boiled up and was tossed about, until a
female figure, richly clad in Moorish robes, slowly rose to view.

Jacinta was so frightened that she fled from the hall, and did not
venture to return. The next morning she related what she had seen to her
aunt, but the good lady treated it as a fantasy of her troubled mind, or
supposed she had fallen asleep and dreamt beside the fountain. “Thou
hast been thinking of the story of the three Moorish princesses that
once inhabited this tower,” continued she, “and it has entered into thy
dreams.”

“What story, aunt? I know nothing of it.”

“Thou hast certainly heard of the three princesses, Zayda, Zorayda, and
Zorahayda, who were confined in this tower by the king their father, and
agreed to fly with three Christian cavaliers. The two first accomplished
their escape, but the third failed in her resolution, and, it is said,
died in this tower.”

“I now recollect to have heard of it,” said Jacinta, “and to have wept
over the fate of the gentle Zorahayda.”

“Thou mayest well weep over her fate,” continued the aunt, “for the
lover of Zorahayda was thy ancestor. He long bemoaned his Moorish love;
but time cured him of his grief, and he married a Spanish lady, from
whom thou art descended.”

Jacinta ruminated upon these words. “That what I have seen is no fantasy
of the brain,” said she to herself, “I am confident. If indeed it be the
spirit of the gentle Zorahayda, which I have heard lingers about this
tower, of what should I be afraid? I’ll watch by the fountain
to-night--perhaps the visit will be repeated.”

Towards midnight, when everything was quiet, she again took her seat in
the hall. As the bell in the distant watch-tower of the Alhambra struck
the midnight hour, the fountain was again agitated; and
bubble--bubble--bubble--it tossed about the waters until the Moorish
female again rose to view. She was young and beautiful; her dress was
rich with jewels, and in her hand she held a silver lute. Jacinta
trembled and was faint, but was reassured by the soft and plaintive
voice of the apparition, and the sweet expression of her pale,
melancholy countenance.

“Daughter of mortality,” said she, “what aileth thee? Why do thy tears
trouble my fountain, and thy sighs and plaints disturb the quiet watches
of the night?”

“I weep because of the faithlessness of man, and I bemoan my solitary
and forsaken state.”

“Take comfort; thy sorrows may yet have an end. Thou beholdest a Moorish
princess, who, like thee, was unhappy in her love. A Christian knight,
thy ancestor, won my heart, and would have borne me to his native land
and to the bosom of his church. I was a convert in my heart, but I
lacked courage equal to my faith, and lingered till too late. For this
the evil genii are permitted to have power over me, and I remain
enchanted in this tower until some pure Christian will deign to break
the magic spell. Wilt thou undertake the task?”

“I will,” replied the damsel, trembling.

“Come hither, then, and fear not; dip thy hand in the fountain, sprinkle
the water over me, and baptize me after the manner of thy faith; so
shall the enchantment be dispelled, and my troubled spirit have repose.”

The damsel advanced with faltering steps, dipped her hand in the
fountain, collected water in the palm, and sprinkled it over the pale
face of the phantom.

The latter smiled with ineffable benignity. She dropped her silver lute
at the feet of Jacinta, crossed her white arms upon her bosom, and
melted from sight, so that it seemed merely as if a shower of dew-drops
had fallen into the fountain.

Jacinta retired from the hall filled with awe and wonder. She scarcely
closed her eyes that night; but when she awoke at daybreak out of a
troubled slumber, the whole appeared to her like a distempered dream. On
descending into the hall, however, the truth of the vision was
established, for beside the fountain she beheld the silver lute
glittering in the morning sunshine.

She hastened to her aunt, to relate all that had befallen her, and
called her to behold the lute as a testimonial of the reality of her
story. If the good lady had any lingering doubts, they were removed when
Jacinta touched the instrument, for she drew forth such ravishing tones
as to thaw even the frigid bosom of the immaculate Fredegonda, that
region of eternal winter, into a genial flow. Nothing but supernatural
melody could have produced such an effect.

The extraordinary power of the lute became every day more and more
apparent. The wayfarer passing by the tower was detained, and, as it
were, spell-bound, in breathless ecstasy. The very birds gathered in the
neighboring trees, and hushing their own strains, listened in charmed
silence.

Rumor soon spread the news abroad. The inhabitants of Granada thronged
to the Alhambra to catch a few notes of the transcendent music that
floated about the tower of Las Infantas.

The lovely little minstrel was at length drawn forth from her retreat.
The rich and powerful of the land contended who should entertain and do
honor to her; or rather, who should secure the charms of her lute to
draw fashionable throngs to their saloons. Wherever she went her
vigilant aunt kept a dragon watch at her elbow, awing the throngs of
impassioned admirers who hung in raptures on her strains. The report of
her wonderful powers spread from city to city. Malaga, Seville, Cordova,
all became successively mad on the theme; nothing was talked of
throughout Andalusia but the beautiful minstrel of the Alhambra. How
could it be otherwise among a people so musical and gallant as the
Andalusians, when the lute was magical in its powers, and the minstrel
inspired by love!

While all Andalusia was thus music mad, a different mood prevailed at
the court of Spain. Philip V., as is well known, was a miserable
hypochondriac, and subject to all kinds of fancies. Sometimes he would
keep to his bed for weeks together, groaning under imaginary complaints.
At other times he would insist upon abdicating his throne, to the great
annoyance of his royal spouse, who had a strong relish for the splendors
of a court and the glories of a crown, and guided the sceptre of her
imbecile lord with an expert and steady hand.

Nothing was found to be so efficacious in dispelling the royal megrims
as the power of music; the queen took care, therefore, to have the best
performers, both vocal and instrumental, at hand, and retained the
famous Italian singer Farinelli about the court as a kind of royal
physician.

At the moment we treat of, however, a freak had come over the mind of
this sapient and illustrious Bourbon that surpassed all former vagaries.
After a long spell of imaginary illness, which set all the strains of
Farinelli and the consultations of a whole orchestra of court-fiddlers
at defiance, the monarch fairly, in idea, gave up the ghost, and
considered himself absolutely dead.

This would have been harmless enough, and even convenient both to his
queen and courtiers, had he been content to remain in the quietude
befitting a dead man; but to their annoyance he insisted upon having
the funeral ceremonies performed over him, and, to their inexpressible
perplexity, began to grow impatient, and to revile bitterly at them for
negligence and disrespect, in leaving him unburied. What was to be done?
To disobey the king’s positive commands was monstrous in the eyes of the
obsequious courtiers of a punctilious court--but to obey him, and bury
him alive would be downright regicide!

In the midst of this fearful dilemma a rumor reached the court of the
female minstrel who was turning the brains of all Andalusia. The queen
dispatched missions in all haste to summon her to St. Ildefonso, where
the court at that time resided.

Within a few days, as the queen with her maids of honor was walking in
those stately gardens, intended, with their avenues and terraces and
fountains, to eclipse the glories of Versailles, the far-famed minstrel
was conducted into her presence. The imperial Elizabetta gazed with
surprise at the youthful and unpretending appearance of the little being
that had set the world madding. She was in her picturesque Andalusian
dress, her silver lute in hand, and stood with modest and downcast eyes,
but with a simplicity and freshness of beauty that still bespoke her
“the Rose of the Alhambra.”

As usual she was accompanied by the ever-vigilant Fredegonda, who gave
the whole history of her parentage and descent to the inquiring queen.
If the stately Elizabetta had been interested by the appearance of
Jacinta, she was still more pleased when she learnt that she was of a
meritorious though impoverished line, and that her father had bravely
fallen in the service of the crown. “If thy powers equal their renown,”
said she, “and thou canst cast forth this evil spirit that possesses thy
sovereign, thy fortunes shall henceforth be my care, and honors and
wealth attend thee.”

Impatient to make trial of her skill, she led the way at once to the
apartment of the moody monarch.

Jacinta followed with downcast eyes through files of guards and crowds
of courtiers. They arrived at length at a great chamber hung with black.
The windows were closed to exclude the light of day: a number of yellow
wax tapers in silver sconces diffused a lugubrious light, and dimly
revealed the figures of mutes in mourning dresses, and courtiers who
glided about with noiseless step and woe-begone visage. In the midst of
a funeral bed or bier, his hands folded on his breast, and the tip of
his nose just visible, lay extended this would-be-buried monarch.

The queen entered the chamber in silence, and pointing to a footstool in
an obscure corner, beckoned to Jacinta to sit down and commence.

At first she touched her lute with a faltering hand, but gathering
confidence and animation as she proceeded, drew forth such soft aërial
harmony, that all present could scarce believe it mortal. As to the
monarch, who had already considered himself in the world of spirits, he
set it down for some angelic melody or the music of the spheres. By
degrees the theme was varied, and the voice of the minstrel accompanied
the instrument. She poured forth one of the legendary ballads treating
of the ancient glories of the Alhambra and the achievements of the
Moors. Her whole soul entered into the theme, for with the recollections
of the Alhambra was associated the story of her love. The
funeral-chamber resounded with the animating strain. It entered into the
gloomy heart of the monarch. He raised his head and gazed around; he sat
up on his couch, his eye began to kindle--at length, leaping upon the
floor, he called for sword and buckler.

The triumph of music, or rather of the enchanted lute, was complete; the
demon of melancholy was cast forth; and, as it were, a dead man brought
to life. The windows of the apartment were thrown open; the glorious
effulgence of Spanish sunshine burst into the late lugubrious chamber;
all eyes sought the lovely enchantress, but the lute had fallen from her
hand, she had sunk upon the earth, and the next moment was clasped to
the bosom of Ruyz de Alarcon.

The nuptials of the happy couple were celebrated soon afterwards with
great splendor, and the Rose of the Alhambra became the ornament and
delight of the court. “But hold--not so fast”--I hear the reader
exclaim; “this is jumping to the end of a story at a furious rate! First
let us know how Ruyz de Alarcon managed to account to Jacinta for his
long neglect?” Nothing more easy; the venerable, time-honored excuse,
the opposition to his wishes by a proud, pragmatical old father:
besides, young people who really like one another soon come to an
amicable understanding, and bury all past grievances when once they
meet.

But how was the proud, pragmatical old father reconciled to the match?

Oh! as to that, his scruples were easily overcome by a word or two from
the queen; especially as dignities and rewards were showered upon the
blooming favorite of royalty. Besides, the lute of Jacinta, you know,
possessed a magic power, and could control the most stubborn head and
hardest breast.

And what came of the enchanted lute?

Oh, that is the most curious matter of all, and plainly proves the truth
of the whole story. That lute remained for some time in the family, but
was purloined and carried off, as was supposed, by the great singer
Farinelli, in pure jealousy. At his death it passed into other hands in
Italy, who were ignorant of its mystic powers, and melting down the
silver, transferred the strings to an old Cremona fiddle. The strings
still retain something of their magic virtues. A word in the reader’s
ear, but let it go no further: that fiddle is now bewitching the whole
world,--it is the fiddle of Paganini!



THE VETERAN


Among the curious acquaintances I made in my rambles about the fortress,
was a brave and battered old colonel of Invalids, who was nestled like a
hawk in one of the Moorish towers. His history, which he was fond of
telling, was a tissue of those adventures, mishaps, and vicissitudes
that render the life of almost every Spaniard of note as varied and
whimsical as the pages of Gil Blas.

He was in America at twelve years of age, and reckoned among the most
signal and fortunate events of his life, his having seen General
Washington. Since then he had taken a part in all the wars of his
country; he could speak experimentally of most of the prisons and
dungeons of the Peninsula; had been lamed of one leg, crippled in his
hands, and so cut up and carbonadoed that he was a kind of walking
monument of the troubles of Spain, on which there was a scar for every
battle and broil, as every year of captivity was notched upon the tree
of Robinson Crusoe. The greatest misfortune of the brave old cavalier,
however, appeared to have been his having commanded at Malaga during a
time of peril and confusion, and been made a general by the inhabitants,
to protect them from the invasion of the French. This had entailed upon
him a number of just claims upon government, that I feared would employ
him until his dying day in writing and printing petitions and memorials,
to the great disquiet of his mind, exhaustion of his purse, and penance
of his friends; not one of whom could visit him without having to listen
to a mortal document of half an hour in length, and to carry away half
a dozen pamphlets in his pocket. This, however, is the case throughout
Spain; everywhere you meet with some worthy wight brooding in a corner,
and nursing up some pet grievance and cherished wrong. Besides, a
Spaniard who has a lawsuit, or a claim upon government, may be
considered as furnished with employment for the remainder of his life.

I visited the veteran in his quarters in the upper part of the Torre del
Vino, or Wine Tower. His room was small but snug, and commanded a
beautiful view of the Vega. It was arranged with a soldier’s precision.
Three muskets and a brace of pistols, all bright and shining, were
suspended against the wall, with a sabre and a cane hanging side by
side, and above them two cocked hats, one for parade, and one for
ordinary use. A small shelf, containing some half dozen books, formed
his library, one of which, a little old mouldy volume of philosophical
maxims, was his favorite reading. This he thumbed and pondered over day
by day; applying every maxim to his own particular case, provided it had
a little tinge of wholesome bitterness, and treated of the injustice of
the world.

Yet he was social and kind-hearted, and, provided he could be diverted
from his wrongs and his philosophy, was an entertaining companion. I
like these old weather-beaten sons of fortune, and enjoy their rough
campaigning anecdotes. In the course of my visits to the one in
question, I learnt some curious facts about an old military commander of
the fortress, who seems to have resembled him in some respects, and to
have had similar fortunes in the wars. These particulars have been
augmented by inquiries among some of the old inhabitants of the place,
particularly the father of Mateo Ximenes, of whose traditional stories
the worthy I am about to introduce to the reader was a favorite hero.



THE GOVERNOR AND THE NOTARY


In former times there ruled, as governor of the Alhambra, a doughty old
cavalier, who, from having lost one arm in the wars, was commonly known
by the name of el Gobernador Manco, or “the one-armed governor.” He in
fact prided himself upon being an old soldier, wore his moustaches
curled up to his eyes, a pair of campaigning boots, and a toledo as long
as a spit, with his pocket-handkerchief in the basket-hilt.

He was, moreover, exceedingly proud and punctilious, and tenacious of
all his privileges and dignities. Under his sway the immunities of the
Alhambra, as a royal residence and domain, were rigidly exacted. No one
was permitted to enter the fortress with fire-arms, or even with a sword
or staff, unless he were of a certain rank; and every horseman was
obliged to dismount at the gate, and lead his horse by the bridle. Now
as the hill of the Alhambra rises from the very midst of the city of
Granada, being, as it were, an excrescence of the capital, it must at
all times be somewhat irksome to the captain-general, who commands the
province, to have thus an _imperium in imperio_, a petty independent
post in the very centre of his domains. It was rendered the more
galling, in the present instance, from the irritable jealousy of the old
governor, that took fire on the least question of authority and
jurisdiction; and from the loose vagrant character of the people who had
gradually nestled themselves within the fortress, as in a sanctuary, and
thence carried on a system of roguery and depredation at the expense of
the honest inhabitants of the city.

Thus there was a perpetual feud and heart-burning between the
captain-general and the governor, the more virulent on the part of the
latter, inasmuch as the smallest of two neighboring potentates is always
the most captious about his dignity. The stately palace of the
captain-general stood in the Plaza Nueva, immediately at the foot of the
hill of the Alhambra; and here was always a bustle and parade of guards,
and domestics, and city functionaries. A beetling bastion of the
fortress overlooked the palace and public square in front of it; and on
this bastion the old governor would occasionally strut backwards and
forwards, with his toledo girded by his side, keeping a wary eye down
upon his rival, like a hawk reconnoitring his quarry from his nest in a
dry tree.

Whenever he descended into the city, it was in grand parade; on
horseback, surrounded by his guards; or in his state coach, an ancient
and unwieldy Spanish edifice of carved timber and gilt leather, drawn by
eight mules, with running footmen, outriders, and lackeys; on which
occasions he flattered himself he impressed every beholder with awe and
admiration as vicegerent of the king; though the wits of Granada,
particularly those who loitered about the palace of the captain-general,
were apt to sneer at his petty parade, and, in allusion to the vagrant
character of his subjects, to greet him with the appellation of “the
king of the beggars.” One of the most fruitful sources of dispute
between these two doughty rivals was the right claimed by the governor
to have all things passed free of duty through the city that were
intended for the use of himself or his garrison. By degrees this
privilege had given rise to extensive smuggling. A nest of
contrabandistas took up their abode in the hovels of the fortress and
the numerous caves in its vicinity, and drove a thriving business under
the connivance of the soldiers of the garrison.

The vigilance of the captain-general was aroused. He consulted his legal
adviser and factotum, a shrewd meddlesome escribano, or notary, who
rejoiced in an opportunity of perplexing the old potentate of the
Alhambra, and involving him in a maze of legal subtilties. He advised
the captain-general to insist upon the right of examining every convoy
passing through the gates of his city, and penned a long letter for him
in vindication of the right. Governor Manco was a straight-forward
cut-and-thrust old soldier, who hated an escribano worse than the devil,
and this one in particular worse than all other escribanos.

“What!” said he, curling up his moustaches fiercely, “does the
captain-general set his man of the pen to practise confusions upon me?
I’ll let him see an old soldier is not to be baffled by schoolcraft.”

He seized his pen and scrawled a short letter in a crabbed hand, in
which, without deigning to enter into argument, he insisted on the right
of transit free of search, and denounced vengeance on any custom-house
officer who should lay his unhallowed hand on any convoy protected by
the flag of the Alhambra. While this question was agitated between the
two pragmatical potentates, it so happened that a mule laden with
supplies for the fortress arrived one day at the gate of Xenil, by which
it was to traverse a suburb of the city on its way to the Alhambra. The
convoy was headed by a testy old corporal, who had long served under the
governor, and was a man after his own heart; as rusty and stanch as an
old Toledo blade.

As they approached the gate of the city, the corporal placed the banner
of the Alhambra on the pack-saddle of the mule, and drawing himself up
to a perfect perpendicular, advanced with his head dressed to the front,
but with the wary side-glance of a cur passing through hostile ground
and ready for a snap and a snarl.

“Who goes there?” said the sentinel at the gate.

“Soldier of the Alhambra!” said the corporal, without turning his head.

“What have you in charge?”

“Provisions for the garrison.”

“Proceed.”

The corporal marched straight forward, followed by the convoy, but had
not advanced many paces before a posse of custom-house officers rushed
out of a small toll-house.

“Hallo there!” cried the leader. “Muleteer, halt, and open those
packages.”

The corporal wheeled round and drew himself up in battle-array. “Respect
the flag of the Alhambra,” said he; “these things are for the governor.”

“A figo for the governor and a figo for his flag. Muleteer, halt, I
say.”

“Stop the convoy at your peril!” cried the corporal, cocking his musket.
“Muleteer, proceed.”

The muleteer gave his beast a hearty thwack; the custom-house officer
sprang forward and seized the halter; whereupon the corporal levelled
his piece and shot him dead.

The street was immediately in an uproar.

The old corporal was seized, and after undergoing sundry kicks, and
cuffs, and cudgellings, which are generally given impromptu by the mob
in Spain as a foretaste of the after penalties of the law, he was loaded
with irons and conducted to the city prison, while his comrades were
permitted to proceed with the convoy, after it had been well rummaged,
to the Alhambra.

The old governor was in a towering passion when he heard of this insult
to his flag and capture of his corporal. For a time he stormed about the
Moorish halls, and vapored about the bastions, and looked down fire and
sword upon the palace of the captain-general. Having vented the first
ebullition of his wrath, he dispatched a message demanding the surrender
of the corporal, as to him alone belonged the right of sitting in
judgment on the offences of those under his command. The
captain-general, aided by the pen of the delighted escribano, replied at
great length, arguing, that, as the offence had been committed within
the walls of his city, and against one of his civil officers, it was
clearly within his proper jurisdiction. The governor rejoined by a
repetition of his demand; the captain-general gave a sur-rejoinder of
still greater length and legal acumen; the governor became hotter and
more peremptory in his demands, and the captain-general cooler and more
copious in his replies; until the old lion-hearted soldier absolutely
roared with fury at being thus entangled in the meshes of legal
controversy.

While the subtle escribano was thus amusing himself at the expense of
the governor, he was conducting the trial of the corporal, who, mewed up
in a narrow dungeon of the prison, had merely a small grated window at
which to show his iron-bound visage and receive the consolations of his
friends.

A mountain of written testimony was diligently heaped up, according to
Spanish form, by the indefatigable escribano; the corporal was
completely overwhelmed by it. He was convicted of murder and sentenced
to be hanged.

It was in vain the governor sent down remonstrance and menace from the
Alhambra. The fatal day was at hand, and the corporal was put _in
capilla_, that is to say, in the chapel of the prison, as is always done
with culprits the day before execution, that they may meditate on their
approaching end and repent them of their sins.

Seeing things drawing to extremity, the old governor determined to
attend to the affair in person. For this purpose he ordered out his
carriage of state, and, surrounded by his guards, rumbled down the
avenue of the Alhambra into the city. Driving to the house of the
escribano, he summoned him to the portal.

The eye of the old governor gleamed like a coal at beholding the
smirking man of the law advancing with an air of exultation.

“What is this I hear,” cried he, “that you are about to put to death one
of my soldiers?”

“All according to law--all in strict form of justice,” said the
self-sufficient escribano, chuckling and rubbing his hands; “I can show
your Excellency the written testimony in the case.”

“Fetch it hither,” said the governor. The escribano bustled into his
office, delighted with having another opportunity of displaying his
ingenuity at the expense of the hard-headed veteran.

He returned with a satchel full of papers, and began to read a long
deposition with professional volubility. By this time a crowd had
collected, listening with out-stretched necks and gaping mouths.

“Prithee, man, get into the carriage, out of this pestilent throng, that
I may the better hear thee,” said the governor.

The escribano entered the carriage, when, in a twinkling, the door was
closed, the coachman smacked his whip,--mules, carriage, guards, and all
dashed off at a thundering rate, leaving the crowd in gaping wonderment;
nor did the governor pause until he had lodged his prey in one of the
strongest dungeons of the Alhambra.

He then sent down a flag of truce in military style, proposing a cartel,
or exchange of prisoners,--the corporal for the notary. The pride of the
captain-general was piqued; he returned a contemptuous refusal, and
forthwith caused a gallows, tall and strong, to be erected in the centre
of the Plaza Nueva for the execution of the corporal.

“Oho! is that the game?” said Governor Manco. He gave orders, and
immediately a gibbet was reared on the verge of the great beetling
bastion that overlooked the Plaza. “Now,” said he, in a message to the
captain-general, “hang my soldier when you please; but at the same time
that he is swung off in the square, look up to see your escribano
dangling against the sky.”

The captain-general was inflexible; troops were paraded in the square;
the drums beat, the bell tolled. An immense multitude of amateurs
gathered together to behold the execution. On the other hand, the
governor paraded his garrison on the bastion, and tolled the funeral
dirge of the notary from the Torre de la Campana, or Tower of the Bell.

The notary’s wife pressed through the crowd, with a whole progeny of
little embryo escribanos at her heels, and throwing herself at the feet
of the captain-general, implored him not to sacrifice the life of her
husband, and the welfare of herself and her numerous little ones, to a
point of pride; “for you know the old governor too well,” said she, “to
doubt that he will put his threat in execution, if you hang the
soldier.”

The captain-general was overpowered by her tears and lamentations, and
the clamors of her callow brood. The corporal was sent up to the
Alhambra, under a guard, in his gallows garb, like a hooded friar, but
with head erect and a face of iron. The escribano was demanded in
exchange, according to the cartel. The once bustling and self-sufficient
man of the law was drawn forth from his dungeon more dead than alive.
All his flippancy and conceit had evaporated; his hair, it is said, had
nearly turned gray with affright, and he had a downcast, dogged look, as
if he still felt the halter round his neck.

The old governor stuck his one arm akimbo, and for a moment surveyed him
with an iron smile. “Henceforth, my friend,” said he, “moderate your
zeal in hurrying others to the gallows; be not too certain of your
safety, even though you should have the law on your side; and above all
take care how you play off your schoolcraft another time upon an old
soldier.”



GOVERNOR MANCO AND THE SOLDIER


While Governor Manco, or “the one-armed,” kept up a show of military
state in the Alhambra, he became nettled at the reproaches continually
cast upon his fortress, of being a nestling-place of rogues and
contrabandistas. On a sudden, the old potentate determined on reform,
and setting vigorously to work, ejected whole nests of vagabonds out of
the fortress and the gypsy caves with which the surrounding hills are
honeycombed. He sent out soldiers, also, to patrol the avenues and
footpaths, with orders to take up all suspicious persons.

One bright summer morning a patrol, consisting of the testy old corporal
who had distinguished himself in the affair of the notary, a trumpeter,
and two privates, was seated under the garden-wall of the Generalife,
beside the road which leads down from the Mountain of the Sun, when they
heard the tramp of a horse, and a male voice singing in rough, though
not unmusical tones, an old Castilian campaigning-song.

Presently they beheld a sturdy, sunburnt fellow, clad in the ragged garb
of a foot-soldier, leading a powerful Arabian horse caparisoned in the
ancient Morisco fashion.

Astonished at the sight of a strange soldier descending, steed in hand,
from that solitary mountain, the corporal stepped forth and challenged
him.

“Who goes there?”

“A friend.”

“Who and what are you?”

“A poor soldier just from the wars, with a cracked crown and empty purse
for a reward.”

By this time they were enabled to view him more narrowly. He had a black
patch across his forehead, which, with a grizzled beard, added to a
certain dare-devil cast of countenance, while a slight squint threw into
the whole an occasional gleam of roguish good-humor.

Having answered the questions of the patrol, the soldier seemed to
consider himself entitled to make others in return. “May I ask,” said
he, “what city is that which I see at the foot of the hill?”

“What city!” cried the trumpeter; “come, that’s too bad. Here’s a fellow
lurking about the Mountain of the Sun, and demands the name of the great
city of Granada!”

“Granada! Madre di Dios! can it be possible?”

“Perhaps not!” rejoined the trumpeter; “and perhaps you have no idea
that yonder are the towers of the Alhambra.”

“Son of a trumpet,” replied the stranger, “do not trifle with me; if
this be indeed the Alhambra, I have some strange matters to reveal to
the governor.”

“You will have an opportunity,” said the corporal, “for we mean to take
you before him.” By this time the trumpeter had seized the bridle of the
steed, the two privates had each secured an arm of the soldier, the
corporal put himself in front, gave the word, “Forward--march!” and away
they marched for the Alhambra.

The sight of a ragged foot-soldier and a fine Arabian horse, brought in
captive by the patrol, attracted the attention of all the idlers of the
fortress, and of those gossip groups that generally assemble about wells
and fountains at early dawn. The wheel of the cistern paused in its
rotations, and the slipshod servant-maid stood gaping, with pitcher in
hand, as the corporal passed by with his prize. A motley train gradually
gathered in the rear of the escort.

Knowing nods and winks and conjectures passed from one to another. “It
is a deserter,” said one; “A contrabandista,” said another; “A
bandolero,” said a third;--until it was affirmed that a captain of a
desperate band of robbers had been captured by the prowess of the
corporal and his patrol. “Well, well,” said the old crones, one to
another, “captain or not, let him get out of the grasp of old Governor
Manco if he can, though he is but one-handed.”

Governor Manco was seated in one of the inner halls of the Alhambra,
taking his morning’s cup of chocolate in company with his confessor,--a
fat Franciscan friar, from the neighboring convent. A demure, dark-eyed
damsel of Malaga, the daughter of his housekeeper, was attending upon
him. The world hinted that the damsel, who, with all her demureness, was
a sly buxom baggage, had found out a soft spot in the iron heart of the
old governor, and held complete control over him. But let that pass--the
domestic affairs of these mighty potentates of the earth should not be
too narrowly scrutinized.

When word was brought that a suspicious stranger had been taken lurking
about the fortress, and was actually in the outer court, in durance of
the corporal, waiting the pleasure of his Excellency, the pride and
stateliness of office swelled the bosom of the governor. Giving back his
chocolate-cup into the hands of the demure damsel, he called for his
basket-hilted sword, girded it to his side, twirled up his moustaches,
took his seat in a large high-backed chair, assumed a bitter and
forbidding aspect, and ordered the prisoner into his presence. The
soldier was brought in, still closely pinioned by his captors, and
guarded by the corporal. He maintained, however, a resolute
self-confident air, and returned the sharp, scrutinizing look of the
governor with an easy squint, which by no means pleased the punctilious
old potentate.

“Well, culprit,” said the governor, after he had regarded him for a
moment in silence, “what have you to say for yourself--who are you?”

“A soldier, just from the wars, who has brought away nothing but scars
and bruises.”

“A soldier--humph--a foot-soldier by your garb. I understand you have a
fine Arabian horse. I presume you brought him too from the wars, besides
your scars and bruises.”

“May it please your Excellency, I have something strange to tell about
that horse. Indeed I have one of the most wonderful things to relate.
Something too that concerns the security of this fortress, indeed of all
Granada. But it is a matter to be imparted only to your private ear, or
in presence of such only as are in your confidence.”

The governor considered for a moment, and then directed the corporal and
his men to withdraw, but to post themselves outside of the door, and be
ready at a call. “This holy friar,” said he, “is my confessor, you may
say anything in his presence;--and this damsel,” nodding towards the
handmaid, who had loitered with an air of great curiosity, “this damsel
is of great secrecy and discretion, and to be trusted with anything.”

The soldier gave a glance between a squint and a leer at the demure
handmaid. “I am perfectly willing,” said he, “that the damsel should
remain.”

When all the rest had withdrawn, the soldier commenced his story. He was
a fluent, smooth-tongued varlet, and had a command of language above his
apparent rank.

“May it please your Excellency,” said he, “I am, as I before observed,
a soldier, and have seen some hard service, but my term of enlistment
being expired, I was discharged, not long since, from the army at
Valladolid, and set out on foot for my native village in Andalusia.
Yesterday evening the sun went down as I was traversing a great dry
plain of Old Castile.”

“Hold!” cried the governor, “what is this you say? Old Castile is some
two or three hundred miles from this.”

“Even so,” replied the soldier, coolly. “I told your Excellency I had
strange things to relate; but not more strange than true, as your
Excellency will find, if you will deign me a patient hearing.”

“Proceed, culprit,” said the governor, twirling up his moustaches.

“As the sun went down,” continued the soldier, “I cast my eyes about in
search of quarters for the night, but as far as my sight could reach
there were no signs of habitation. I saw that I should have to make my
bed on the naked plain, with my knapsack for a pillow; but your
Excellency is an old soldier, and knows that to one who has been in the
wars, such a night’s lodging is no great hardship.”

The governor nodded assent, as he drew his pocket-handkerchief out of
the basket-hilt to drive away a fly that buzzed about his nose.

“Well, to make a long story short,” continued the soldier, “I trudged
forward for several miles until I came to a bridge over a deep ravine,
through which ran a little thread of water, almost dried up by the
summer heat. At one end of the bridge was a Moorish tower, the upper end
all in ruins, but a vault in the foundation quite entire. Here, thinks
I, is a good place to make a halt; so I went down to the stream, and
took a hearty drink, for the water was pure and sweet, and I was parched
with thirst; then, opening my wallet, I took out an onion and a few
crusts, which were all my provisions, and seating myself on a stone on
the margin of the stream, began to make my supper,--intending afterwards
to quarter myself for the night in the vault of the tower; and capital
quarters they would have been for a campaigner just from the wars, as
your Excellency, who is an old soldier, may suppose.”

“I have put up gladly with worse in my time,” said the governor,
returning his pocket-handkerchief into the hilt of his sword.

“While I was quietly crunching my crust,” pursued the soldier, “I heard
something stir within the vault; I listened--it was the tramp of a
horse. By-and-by a man came forth from a door in the foundation of the
tower, close by the water’s edge, leading a powerful horse by the
bridle. I could not well make out what he was, by the starlight. It had
a suspicious look to be lurking among the ruins of a tower, in that wild
solitary place. He might be a mere wayfarer, like myself; he might be a
contrabandista; he might be a bandolero! what of that? thank heaven and
my poverty, I had nothing to lose; so I sat still and crunched my crust.

“He led his horse to the water, close by where I was sitting, so that I
had a fair opportunity of reconnoitring him. To my surprise he was
dressed in a Moorish garb, with a cuirass of steel, and a polished
skull-cap that I distinguished by the reflection of the stars upon it.
His horse, too, was harnessed in the Morisco fashion, with great shovel
stirrups. He led him, as I said, to the side of the stream, into which
the animal plunged his head almost to the eyes, and drank until I
thought he would have burst.

“‘Comrade,’ said I, ‘your steed drinks well; it’s a good sign when a
horse plunges his muzzle bravely into the water.’

“‘He may well drink,’ said the stranger, speaking with a Moorish
accent; ‘it is a good year since he had his last draught.’

“‘By Santiago,’ said I, ‘that beats even the camels I have seen in
Africa. But come, you seem to be something of a soldier, will you sit
down and take part of a soldier’s fare?’ In fact, I felt the want of a
companion in this lonely place, and was willing to put up with an
infidel. Besides, as your Excellency well knows, a soldier is never very
particular about the faith of his company, and soldiers of all countries
are comrades on peaceable ground.”

The governor again nodded assent.

“Well, as I was saying, I invited him to share my supper, such as it
was, for I could not do less in common hospitality. ‘I have no time to
pause for meat or drink,’ said he, ‘I have a long journey to make before
morning.’

“‘In what direction?’ said I.

“‘Andalusia,’ said he.

“‘Exactly my route,’ said I; ‘so, as you won’t stop and eat with me,
perhaps you will let me mount and ride with you. I see your horse is of
a powerful frame; I’ll warrant he’ll carry double.’

“‘Agreed,’ said the trooper; and it would not have been civil and
soldierlike to refuse, especially as I had offered to share my supper
with him. So up he mounted, and up I mounted behind him.

“‘Hold fast,’ said he, ‘my steed goes like the wind.’

“‘Never fear me,’ said I, and so off we set.

“From a walk the horse soon passed to a trot, from a trot to a gallop,
and from a gallop to a harum-scarum scamper. It seemed as if rocks,
trees, houses, everything flew hurry-scurry behind us.

“‘What town is this?’ said I.

“‘Segovia,’ said he; and before the word was out of his mouth, the
towers of Segovia were out of sight. We swept up the Guadarrama
mountains, and down by the Escurial; and we skirted the walls of
Madrid, and we scoured away across the plains of La Mancha. In this way
we went up hill and down dale, by towers and cities, all buried in deep
sleep, and across mountains, and plains, and rivers, just glimmering in
the starlight.

“To make a long story short, and not to fatigue your Excellency, the
trooper suddenly pulled up on the side of a mountain. ‘Here we are,’
said he, ‘at the end of our journey.’ I looked about, but could see no
signs of habitation, nothing but the mouth of a cavern. While I looked I
saw multitudes of people in Moorish dresses, some on horseback, some on
foot, arriving as if borne by the wind from all points of the compass,
and hurrying into the mouth of the cavern like bees into a hive. Before
I could ask a question, the trooper struck his long Moorish spurs into
the horse’s flanks, and dashed in with the throng. We passed along a
steep winding way, that descended into the very bowels of the mountain.
As we pushed on, a light began to glimmer up, by little and little, like
the first glimmerings of day, but what caused it I could not discern. It
grew stronger and stronger, and enabled me to see everything around. I
now noticed, as we passed along, great caverns, opening to the right and
left, like halls in an arsenal. In some there were shields, and helmets,
and cuirasses, and lances, and cimeters, hanging against the walls; in
others there were great heaps of warlike munitions and camp-equipage
lying upon the ground.

“It would have done your Excellency’s heart good, being an old soldier,
to have seen such grand provision for war. Then, in other caverns, there
were long rows of horsemen armed to the teeth, with lances raised and
banners unfurled, all ready for the field; but they all sat motionless
in their saddles, like so many statues. In other halls were warriors
sleeping on the ground beside their horses, and foot-soldiers in groups
ready to fall into the ranks. All were in old-fashioned Moorish dresses
and armor.

“Well, your Excellency, to cut a long story short, we at length entered
an immense cavern, or I may say palace, of grotto-work, the walls of
which seemed to be veined with gold and silver, and to sparkle with
diamonds and sapphires and all kinds of precious stones. At the upper
end sat a Moorish king on a golden throne, with his nobles on each side,
and a guard of African blacks with drawn cimeters. All the crowd that
continued to flock in, and amounted to thousands and thousands, passed
one by one before his throne, each paying homage as he passed. Some of
the multitude were dressed in magnificent robes, without stain or
blemish, and sparkling with jewels; others in burnished and enamelled
armor; while others were in mouldered and mildewed garments, and in
armor all battered and dented and covered with rust.

“I had hitherto held my tongue, for your Excellency well knows it is not
for a soldier to ask many questions when on duty, but I could keep
silent no longer.

“‘Prithee, comrade,’ said I, ‘what is the meaning of all this?’

“‘This,’ said the trooper, ‘is a great and fearful mystery. Know, O
Christian, that you see before you the court and army of Boabdil the
last king of Granada.’

“‘What is this you tell me?’ cried I, ‘Boabdil and his court were exiled
from the land hundreds of years agone, and all died in Africa.’

“‘So it is recorded in your lying chronicles,’ replied the Moor; ‘but
know that Boabdil and the warriors who made the last struggle for
Granada were all shut up in the mountain by powerful enchantment. As
for the king and army that marched forth from Granada at the time of the
surrender, they were a mere phantom train of spirits and demons,
permitted to assume those shapes to deceive the Christian sovereigns.
And furthermore let me tell you, friend, that all Spain is a country
under the power of enchantment. There is not a mountain cave, not a
lonely watch-tower in the plains, nor ruined castle on the hills, but
has some spell-bound warriors sleeping from age to age within its
vaults, until the sins are expiated for which Allah permitted the
dominion to pass for a time out of the hands of the faithful. Once every
year, on the eve of St. John, they are released from enchantment, from
sunset to sunrise, and permitted to repair here to pay homage to their
sovereign! and the crowds which you beheld swarming into the cavern are
Moslem warriors from their haunts in all parts of Spain. For my own
part, you saw the ruined tower of the bridge in Old Castile, where I
have now wintered and summered for many hundred years, and where I must
be back again by daybreak. As to the battalions of horse and foot which
you beheld drawn up in array in the neighboring caverns, they are the
spell-bound warriors of Granada. It is written in the book of fate, that
when the enchantment is broken, Boabdil will descend from the mountain
at the head of this army, resume his throne in the Alhambra and his sway
of Granada, and gathering together the enchanted warriors from all parts
of Spain, will reconquer the Peninsula and restore it to Moslem rule.’

“‘And when shall this happen?’ said I.

“‘Allah alone knows: we had hoped the day of deliverance was at hand;
but there reigns at present a vigilant governor in the Alhambra, a
stanch old soldier, well known as Governor Manco. While such a warrior
holds command of the very outpost, and stands ready to check the first
irruption from the mountain, I fear Boabdil and his soldiery must be
content to rest upon their arms.”

Here the governor raised himself somewhat perpendicularly, adjusted his
sword, and twirled up his moustaches.

“To make a long story short, and not to fatigue your Excellency, the
trooper, having given me this account, dismounted from his steed.

“‘Tarry here,’ said he, ‘and guard my steed while I go and bow the knee
to Boabdil.’ So saying, he strode away among the throng that pressed
forward to the throne.

“‘What’s to be done?’ thought I, when thus left to myself; ‘shall I wait
here until this infidel returns to whisk me off on his goblin steed, the
Lord knows where; or shall I make the most of my time and beat a retreat
from this hobgoblin community?’ A soldier’s mind is soon made up, as
your Excellency well knows. As to the horse, he belonged to an avowed
enemy of the faith and the realm, and was a fair prize according to the
rules of war. So hoisting myself from the crupper into the saddle, I
turned the reins, struck the Moorish stirrups into the sides of the
steed, and put him to make the best of his way out of the passage by
which he had entered. As we scoured by the halls where the Moslem
horsemen sat in motionless battalions, I thought I heard the clang of
armor and a hollow murmur of voices. I gave the steed another taste of
the stirrups and doubled my speed. There was now a sound behind me like
a rushing blast; I heard the clatter of a thousand hoofs; a countless
throng overtook me. I was borne along in the press, and hurled forth
from the mouth of the cavern, while thousands of shadowy forms were
swept off in every direction by the four winds of heaven.

“In the whirl and confusion of the scene I was thrown senseless to the
earth. When I came to myself, I was lying on the brow of a hill, with
the Arabian steed standing beside me; for in falling, my arm had slipped
within the bridle, which, I presume, prevented his whisking off to Old
Castile.

“Your Excellency may easily judge of my surprise, on looking round, to
behold hedges of aloes and Indian figs and other proofs of a southern
climate, and to see a great city below me, with towers, and palaces, and
a grand cathedral.

“I descended the hill cautiously, leading my steed, for I was afraid to
mount him again, lest he should play me some slippery trick. As I
descended I met with your patrol, who let me into the secret that it was
Granada that lay before me, and that I was actually under the walls of
the Alhambra, the fortress of the redoubted Governor Manco, the terror
of all enchanted Moslems. When I heard this, I determined at once to
seek your Excellency, to inform you of all that I had seen, and to warn
you of the perils that surround and undermine you, that you may take
measures in time to guard your fortress, and the kingdom itself, from
this intestine army that lurks in the very bowels of the land.”

“And prithee, friend, you who are a veteran campaigner, and have seen so
much service,” said the governor, “how would you advise me to proceed,
in order to prevent this evil?”

“It is not for a humble private of the ranks,” said the soldier,
modestly, “to pretend to instruct a commander of your Excellency’s
sagacity, but it appears to me that your Excellency might cause all the
caves and entrances into the mountains to be walled up with solid
mason-work, so that Boabdil and his army might be completely corked up
in their subterranean habitation. If the good father, too,” added the
soldier, reverently bowing to the friar, and devoutly crossing himself,
“would consecrate the barricadoes with his blessing, and put up a few
crosses and relics and images of saints, I think they might withstand
all the power of infidel enchantments.”

“They doubtless would be of great avail,” said the friar.

The governor now placed his arm akimbo, with his hand resting on the
hilt of his toledo, fixed his eye upon the soldier, and gently wagging
his head from one side to the other,--

“So, friend,” said he, “then you really suppose I am to be gulled with
this cock-and-bull story about enchanted mountains and enchanted Moors?
Hark ye, culprit!--not another word. An old soldier you may be, but
you’ll find you have an older soldier to deal with, and one not easily
outgeneralled. Ho! guards there! put this fellow in irons.”

The demure handmaid would have put in a word in favor of the prisoner,
but the governor silenced her with a look.

As they were pinioning the soldier, one of the guards felt something of
bulk in his pocket, and drawing it forth, found a long leathern purse
that appeared to be well filled. Holding it by one corner, he turned out
the contents upon the table before the governor, and never did
freebooter’s bag make more gorgeous delivery. Out tumbled rings, and
jewels, and rosaries of pearls, and sparkling diamond crosses, and a
profusion of ancient golden coin, some of which fell jingling to the
floor, and rolled away to the uttermost parts of the chamber.

For a time the functions of justice were suspended; there was a
universal scramble after the glittering fugitives. The governor alone,
who was imbued with true Spanish pride, maintained his stately decorum,
though his eye betrayed a little anxiety until the last coin and jewel
was restored to the sack.

The friar was not so calm; his whole face glowed like a furnace, and
his eyes twinkled and flashed at sight of the rosaries and crosses.

“Sacrilegious wretch that thou art!” exclaimed he; “what church or
sanctuary hast thou been plundering of these sacred relics?”

“Neither one nor the other, holy father. If they be sacrilegious spoils,
they must have been taken, in times long past, by the infidel trooper I
have mentioned. I was just going to tell his Excellency when he
interrupted me, that, on taking possession of the trooper’s horse, I
unhooked a leathern sack which hung at the saddle-bow, and which I
presume contained the plunder of his campaignings in days of old, when
the Moors overran the country.”

“Mighty well; at present you will make up your mind to take up your
quarters in a chamber of the Vermilion Tower, which, though not under a
magic spell, will hold you as safe as any cave of your enchanted Moors.”

“Your Excellency will do as you think proper,” said the prisoner,
coolly. “I shall be thankful to your Excellency for any accommodation in
the fortress. A soldier who has been in the wars, as your Excellency
well knows, is not particular about his lodgings. Provided I have a snug
dungeon and regular rations, I shall manage to make myself comfortable.
I would only entreat that while your Excellency is so careful about me,
you would have an eye to your fortress, and think on the hint I dropped
about stopping up the entrances to the mountain.”

Here ended the scene. The prisoner was conducted to a strong dungeon in
the Vermilion Tower, the Arabian steed was led to his Excellency’s
stable, and the trooper’s sack was deposited in his Excellency’s strong
box. To the latter, it is true, the friar made some demur, questioning
whether the sacred relics, which were evidently sacrilegious spoils,
should not be placed in custody of the church; but as the governor was
peremptory on the subject, and was absolute lord in the Alhambra, the
friar discreetly dropped the discussion, but determined to convey
intelligence of the fact to the church dignitaries in Granada.

To explain these prompt and rigid measures on the part of old Governor
Manco, it is proper to observe, that about this time the Alpuxarra
mountains in the neighborhood of Granada were terribly infested by a
gang of robbers, under the command of a daring chief named Manuel
Borasco, who were accustomed to prowl about the country, and even to
enter the city in various disguises, to gain intelligence of the
departure of convoys of merchandise, or travellers with well-lined
purses, whom they took care to waylay in distant and solitary passes of
the road. These repeated and daring outrages had awakened the attention
of government, and the commanders of the various posts had received
instructions to be on the alert, and to take up all suspicious
stragglers. Governor Manco was particularly zealous in consequence of
the various stigmas that had been cast upon his fortress, and he now
doubted not he had entrapped some formidable desperado of this gang.

In the mean time the story took wind, and became the talk, not merely of
the fortress, but of the whole city of Granada. It was said that the
noted robber Manuel Borasco, the terror of the Alpuxarras, had fallen
into the clutches of old Governor Manco, and been cooped up by him in a
dungeon of the Vermilion Towers; and every one who had been robbed by
him flocked to recognize the marauder. The Vermilion Towers, as is well
known, stand apart from the Alhambra on a sister hill, separated from
the main fortress by the ravine down which passes the main avenue. There
were no outer walls, but a sentinel patrolled before the tower. The
window of the chamber in which the soldier was confined was strongly
grated, and looked upon a small esplanade. Here the good folks of
Granada repaired to gaze at him, as they would at a laughing hyena,
grinning through the cage of a menagerie. Nobody, however, recognized
him for Manuel Borasco, for that terrible robber was noted for a
ferocious physiognomy, and had by no means the good-humored squint of
the prisoner. Visitors came not merely from the city, but from all parts
of the country; but nobody knew him, and there began to be doubts in the
minds of the common people whether there might not be some truth in his
story. That Boabdil and his army were shut up in the mountain, was an
old tradition which many of the ancient inhabitants had heard from their
fathers. Numbers went up to the Mountain of the Sun, or rather of St.
Elena, in search of the cave mentioned by the soldier; and saw and
peeped into the deep dark pit, descending, no one knows how far, into
the mountain, and which remains there to this day--the fabled entrance
to the subterranean abode of Boabdil.

By degrees the soldier became popular with the common people. A
freebooter of the mountains is by no means the opprobrious character in
Spain that a robber is in any other country: on the contrary, he is a
kind of chivalrous personage in the eyes of the lower classes. There is
always a disposition, also, to cavil at the conduct of those in command;
and many began to murmur at the high-handed measures of old Governor
Manco, and to look upon the prisoner in the light of a martyr.

The soldier, moreover, was a merry, waggish fellow, that had a joke for
every one who came near his window, and a soft speech for every female.
He had procured an old guitar also, and would sit by his window and sing
ballads and love-ditties to the delight of the women of the
neighborhood, who would assemble on the esplanade in the evening and
dance boleros to his music. Having trimmed off his rough beard, his
sunburnt face found favor in the eyes of the fair, and the demure
handmaid of the governor declared that his squint was perfectly
irresistible. This kind-hearted damsel had from the first evinced a deep
sympathy in his fortunes, and having in vain tried to mollify the
governor, had set to work privately to mitigate the rigor of his
dispensations. Every day she brought the prisoner some crumbs of comfort
which had fallen from the governor’s table, or been abstracted from his
larder, together with, now and then, a consoling bottle of choice Val de
Peñas, or rich Malaga.

While this petty treason was going on in the very centre of the old
governor’s citadel, a storm of open war was brewing up among his
external foes. The circumstance of a bag of gold and jewels having been
found upon the person of the supposed robber, had been reported, with
many exaggerations, in Granada. A question of territorial jurisdiction
was immediately started by the governor’s inveterate rival, the
captain-general. He insisted that the prisoner had been captured without
the precincts of the Alhambra, and within the rules of his authority. He
demanded his body therefore, and the _spolia opima_ taken with him. Due
information having been carried likewise by the friar to the grand
inquisitor of the crosses and rosaries, and other relics contained in
the bag, he claimed the culprit as having been guilty of sacrilege, and
insisted that his plunder was due to the church, and his body to the
next _auto-da-fe_. The feuds ran high; the governor was furious, and
swore, rather than surrender his captive, he would hang him up within
the Alhambra, as a spy caught within the purlieus of the fortress.

The captain-general threatened to send a body of soldiers to transfer
the prisoner from the Vermilion Tower to the city. The grand inquisitor
was equally bent upon dispatching a number of the familiars of the Holy
Office. Word was brought late at night to the governor of these
machinations. “Let them come,” said he, “they’ll find me beforehand with
them; he must rise bright and early who would take in an old soldier.”
He accordingly issued orders to have the prisoner removed at daybreak,
to the donjon-keep within the walls of the Alhambra. “And d’ye hear,
child,” said he to his demure handmaid, “tap at my door, and wake me
before cock-crowing, that I may see to the matter myself.”

The day dawned, the cock crowed, but nobody tapped at the door of the
governor. The sun rose high above the mountain-tops, and glittered in at
his casement, ere the governor was awakened from his morning dreams by
his veteran corporal, who stood before him with terror stamped upon his
iron visage.

“He’s off! he’s gone!” cried the corporal, gasping for breath.

“Who’s off--who’s gone?”

“The soldier--the robber--the devil, for aught I know; his dungeon is
empty, but the door locked: no one knows how he has escaped out of it.”

“Who saw him last?”

“Your handmaid; she brought him his supper.”

“Let her be called instantly.”

Here was new matter of confusion. The chamber of the demure damsel was
likewise empty, her bed had not been slept in: she had doubtless gone
off with the culprit, as she had appeared, for some days past, to have
frequent conversations with him.

This was wounding the old governor in a tender part, but he had scarce
time to wince at it, when new misfortunes broke upon his view. On going
into his cabinet he found his strong box open, the leather purse of the
trooper abstracted and with it a couple of corpulent bags of doubloons.

But how, and which way had the fugitives escaped? An old peasant who
lived in a cottage by the road-side leading up into the Sierra, declared
that he had heard the tramp of a powerful steed just before daybreak,
passing up into the mountains. He had looked out at his casement, and
could just distinguish a horseman, with a female seated before him.

“Search the stables!” cried Governor Manco. The stables were searched;
all the horses were in their stalls, excepting the Arabian steed. In his
place was a stout cudgel, tied to the manger, and on it a label bearing
these words, “A gift to Governor Manco, from an Old Soldier.”



A FÊTE IN THE ALHAMBRA


The Saint’s day of my neighbor and rival potentate, the count, took
place during his sojourn in the Alhambra, on which occasion he gave a
domestic fête; assembling round him the members of his family and
household, while the stewards and old servants from his distant
possessions came to pay him reverence and partake of the good cheer
which was sure to be provided. It presented a type, though doubtless a
faint one, of the establishment of a Spanish noble in the olden time.

The Spaniards were always grandiose in their notions of style. Huge
palaces; lumbering equipages, laden with footmen and lackeys; pompous
retinues, and useless dependents of all kinds; the dignity of a noble
seemed commensurate with the legions who loitered about his halls, fed
at his expense, and seemed ready to devour him alive. This, doubtless,
originated in the necessity of keeping up hosts of armed retainers
during the wars with the Moors; wars of inroads and surprises; when a
noble was liable to be suddenly assailed in his castle by a foray of the
enemy, or summoned to the field by his sovereign.

The custom remained after the wars were at an end; and what originated
in necessity was kept up through ostentation. The wealth which flowed
into the country from conquests and discoveries fostered the passion for
princely establishments. According to magnificent old Spanish usage, in
which pride and generosity bore equal parts, a superannuated servant was
never turned off, but became a charge for the rest of his days; nay, his
children, and his children’s children, and often their relatives to the
right and left, became gradually entailed upon the family. Hence the
huge palaces of the Spanish nobility, which have such an air of empty
ostentation from the greatness of their size compared with the
mediocrity and scantiness of their furniture, were absolutely required,
in the golden days of Spain, by the patriarchal habits of their
possessors. They were little better than vast barracks for their
hereditary generations of hangers-on that battened at the expense of a
Spanish noble.

These patriarchal habits of the Spanish nobility have declined with
their revenues; though the spirit which prompted them remains, and wars
sadly with their altered fortunes. The poorest among them have always
some hereditary hangers-on, who live at their expense, and make them
poorer. Some who, like my neighbor the count, retain a modicum of their
once princely possessions, keep up a shadow of the ancient system, and
their estates are overrun and the produce consumed by generations of
idle retainers.

The count held estates in various parts of the kingdom, some including
whole villages; yet the revenues collected from them were comparatively
small; some of them, he assured me, barely fed the hordes of dependents
nestled upon them, who seemed to consider themselves entitled to live
rent-free and be maintained into the bargain, because their forefathers
had been so since time immemorial.

The Saint’s day of the old count gave me a glimpse into a Spanish
interior. For two or three days previous preparations were made for the
fête. Viands of all kinds were brought up from town, greeting the
olfactory nerves of the old invalid guards, as they were borne past them
through the Gate of Justice. Servants hurried officiously about the
courts; the ancient kitchen of the palace was again alive with the tread
of cooks and scullions, and blazed with unwonted fires.

When the day arrived I beheld the old count in patriarchal state, his
family and household around him, with functionaries who mismanaged his
estates at a distance and consumed the proceeds; while numerous old
worn-out servants and pensioners were loitering about the courts and
keeping within smell of the kitchen.

It was a joyous day in the Alhambra. The guests dispersed themselves
about the palace before the hour of dinner, enjoying the luxuries of its
courts and fountains, and embosomed gardens, and music and laughter
resounded through its late silent halls.

The feast, for a set dinner in Spain is literally a feast, was served in
the beautiful Morisco Hall of “Las dos Hermanas.” The table was loaded
with all the luxuries of the season: there was an almost interminable
succession of dishes; showing how truly the feast at the rich Camachos’
wedding in “Don Quixote” was a picture of a Spanish banquet. A joyous
conviviality prevailed round the board; for though Spaniards are
generally abstemious, they are complete revellers on occasions like the
present, and none more so than the Andalusians. For my part, there was
something peculiarly exciting in thus sitting at a feast in the royal
halls of the Alhambra, given by one who might claim remote affinity with
its Moorish kings, and who was a lineal representative of Gonsalvo of
Cordova, one of the most distinguished of the Christian conquerors.

The banquet ended, the company adjourned to the Hall of Ambassadors.
Here every one endeavored to contribute to the general amusement,
singing, improvising, telling wonderful tales, or dancing popular dances
to that all-pervading talisman of Spanish pleasure, the guitar.

The count’s gifted little daughter was as usual the life and delight of
the assemblage, and I was more than ever struck with her aptness and
wonderful versatility. She took a part in two or three scenes of elegant
comedy with some of her companions, and performed them with exquisite
point and finished grace; she gave imitations of the popular Italian
singers, some serious, some comic, with a rare quality of voice, and, I
was assured, with singular fidelity; she imitated the dialects, dances,
ballads, and movements and manners of the gypsies and the peasants of
the Vega with equal felicity; but everything was done with an
all-pervading grace and a ladylike tact perfectly fascinating.

The great charm of everything she did was its freedom from pretension or
ambitious display, its happy spontaneity. Everything sprang from the
impulse of the moment; or was in prompt compliance with a request. She
seemed unconscious of the rarity and extent of her own talent, and was
like a child at home revelling in the buoyancy of its own gay and
innocent spirits. Indeed, I was told she had never exerted her talents
in general society, but only, as at present, in the domestic circle.

Her faculty of observation and her perception of character must have
been remarkably quick, for she could have had only casual and transient
glances at the scenes, manners, and customs depicted with such truth and
spirit. “Indeed it is a continual wonder to us,” said the countess,
“where the child [la Niña] has picked up these things, her life being
passed almost entirely at home, in the bosom of the family.”

Evening approached; twilight began to throw its shadows about the halls,
and the bats to steal forth from their lurking-place and flit about. A
notion seized the little damsel and some of her youthful companions, to
set out, under the guidance of Dolores, and explore the less frequented
parts of the palace in quest of mysteries and enchantments. Thus
conducted, they peeped fearfully into the gloomy old mosque, but quick
drew back on being told that a Moorish king had been murdered there;
they ventured into the mysterious regions of the bath, frightening
themselves with the sounds and murmurs of hidden aqueducts, and flying
with mock panic at the alarm of phantom Moors. They then undertook the
adventure of the Iron Gate, a place of baleful note in the Alhambra. It
is a postern gate, opening into a dark ravine; a narrow covered way
leads down to it, which used to be the terror of Dolores and her
playmates in childhood, as it was said a hand without a body would
sometimes be stretched out from the wall and seize hold of the
passers-by.

The little party of enchantment-hunters ventured to the entrance of the
covered way, but nothing would tempt them to enter, in this hour of
gathering gloom; they dreaded the grasp of the phantom arm.

At length they came running back into the Hall of Ambassadors in a mock
paroxysm of terror: they had positively seen two spectral figures all in
white. They had not stopped to examine them; but could not be mistaken,
for they glared distinctly through the surrounding gloom. Dolores soon
arrived and explained the mystery. The spectres proved to be two statues
of nymphs in white marble, placed at the entrance of a vaulted passage.
Upon this a grave, but, as I thought, somewhat sly old gentleman
present, who, I believe, was the count’s advocate or legal adviser,
assured them that these statues were connected with one of the greatest
mysteries of the Alhambra; that there was a curious history concerning
them, and, moreover, that they stood a living monument in marble of
female secrecy and discretion. All present entreated him to tell the
history of the statues. He took a little time to recollect the details,
and then gave them in substance the following legend:



LEGEND OF THE TWO DISCREET STATUES


There lived once in a waste apartment of the Alhambra a merry little
fellow, named Lope Sanchez, who worked in the gardens, and was as brisk
and blithe as a grasshopper, singing all day long. He was the life and
soul of the fortress; when his work was over, he would sit on one of the
stone benches of the esplanade, strum his guitar, and sing long ditties
about the Cid, and Bernardo del Carpio, and Fernando del Pulgar, and
other Spanish heroes, for the amusement of the old soldiers of the
fortress; or would strike up a merrier tune, and set the girls dancing
boleros and fandangos.

Like most little men, Lope Sanchez had a strapping buxom dame for a
wife, who could almost have put him in her pocket; but he lacked the
usual poor man’s lot--instead of ten children he had but one. This was
a little black-eyed girl about twelve years of age, named Sanchica, who
was as merry as himself, and the delight of his heart. She played about
him as he worked in the gardens, danced to his guitar as he sat in the
shade, and ran as wild as a young fawn about the groves and alleys and
ruined halls of the Alhambra.

It was now the eve of the blessed St. John, and the holiday-loving
gossips of the Alhambra, men, women, and children, went up at night to
the Mountain of the Sun, which rises above the Generalife, to keep their
midsummer vigil on its level summit. It was a bright moonlight night,
and all the mountains were gray and silvery, and the city, with its
domes and spires, lay in shadows below, and the Vega was like a fairy
land, with haunted streams gleaming among its dusky groves. On the
highest part of the mountain they lit up a bonfire, according to an old
custom of the country handed down from the Moors. The inhabitants of the
surrounding country were keeping a similar vigil, and bonfires, here and
there in the Vega, and along the folds of the mountains, blazed up
palely in the moonlight.

The evening was gayly passed in dancing to the guitar of Lope Sanchez,
who was never so joyous as when on a holiday revel of the kind. While
the dance was going on, the little Sanchica with some of her playmates
sported among the ruins of an old Moorish fort that crowns the mountain,
when, in gathering pebbles in the fosse, she found a small hand
curiously carved of jet, the fingers closed, and the thumb firmly
clasped upon them. Overjoyed with her good fortune, she ran to her
mother with her prize. It immediately became a subject of sage
speculation, and was eyed by some with superstitious distrust. “Throw it
away,” said one; “it’s Moorish,--depend upon it, there’s mischief and
witchcraft in it.” “By no means,” said another; “you may sell it for
something to the jewellers of the Zacatin.” In the midst of this
discussion an old tawny soldier drew near, who had served in Africa, and
was as swarthy as a Moor. He examined the hand with a knowing look. “I
have seen things of this kind,” said he, “among the Moors of Barbary. It
is a great virtue to guard against the evil eye, and all kinds of spells
and enchantments. I give you joy, friend Lope, this bodes good luck to
your child.”

Upon hearing this, the wife of Lope Sanchez tied the little hand of jet
to a ribbon, and hung it round the neck of her daughter.

The sight of this talisman called up all the favorite superstitions
about the Moors. The dance was neglected, and they sat in groups on the
ground, telling old legendary tales handed down from their ancestors.
Some of their stories turned upon the wonders of the very mountain upon
which they were seated, which is a famous hobgoblin region. One ancient
crone gave a long account of the subterranean palace in the bowels of
that mountain where Boabdil and all his Moslem court are said to remain
enchanted. “Among yonder ruins,” said she, pointing to some crumbling
walls and mounds of earth on a distant part of the mountain, “there is a
deep black pit that goes down, down into the very heart of the mountain.
For all the money in Granada I would not look down into it. Once upon a
time a poor man of the Alhambra, who tended goats upon this mountain,
scrambled down into that pit after a kid that had fallen in. He came out
again all wild and staring, and told such things of what he had seen,
that every one thought his brain was turned. He raved for a day or two
about the hobgoblin Moors that had pursued him in the cavern, and could
hardly be persuaded to drive his goats up again to the mountain. He did
so at last, but, poor man, he never came down again. The neighbors found
his goats browsing about the Moorish ruins, and his hat and mantle
lying near the mouth of the pit, but he was never more heard of.”

The little Sanchica listened with breathless attention to this story.
She was of a curious nature, and felt immediately a great hankering to
peep into this dangerous pit. Stealing away from her companions, she
sought the distant ruins, and, after groping for some time among them,
came to a small hollow, or basin, near the brow of the mountain, where
it swept steeply down into the valley of the Darro. In the centre of
this basin yawned the mouth of the pit. Sanchica ventured to the verge,
and peeped in. All was as black as pitch, and gave an idea of
immeasurable depth. Her blood ran cold; she drew back, then peeped in
again, then would have run away, then took another peep,--the very
horror of the thing was delightful to her. At length she rolled a large
stone, and pushed it over the brink. For some time it fell in silence;
then struck some rocky projection with a violent crash; then rebounded
from side to side, rumbling and tumbling, with a noise like thunder;
then made a final splash into water, far, far below,--and all was again
silent.

The silence, however, did not long continue. It seemed as if something
had been awakened within this dreary abyss. A murmuring sound gradually
rose out of the pit like the hum and buzz of a beehive. It grew louder
and louder; there was the confusion of voices as of a distant multitude,
together with the faint din of arms, clash of cymbals and clangor of
trumpets, as if some army were marshalling for battle in the very bowels
of the mountain.

The child drew off with silent awe, and hastened back to the place where
she had left her parents and their companions. All were gone. The
bonfire was expiring, and its last wreath of smoke curling up in the
moonshine. The distant fires that had blazed along the mountains and in
the Vega were all extinguished, and everything seemed to have sunk to
repose. Sanchica called her parents and some of her companions by name,
but received no reply. She ran down the side of the mountain, and by the
gardens of the Generalife, until she arrived in the alley of trees
leading to the Alhambra, when she seated herself on a bench of a woody
recess, to recover breath. The bell from the watch-tower of the Alhambra
tolled midnight. There was a deep tranquillity as if all nature slept;
excepting the low tinkling sound of an unseen stream that ran under the
covert of the bushes. The breathing sweetness of the atmosphere was
lulling her to sleep, when her eye was caught by something glittering at
a distance, and to her surprise she beheld a long cavalcade of Moorish
warriors pouring down the mountain-side and along the leafy avenues.
Some were armed with lances and shields; others, with cimeters and
battle-axes, and with polished cuirasses that flashed in the moonbeams.
Their horses pranced proudly and champed upon their bits, but their
tramp caused no more sound than if they had been shod with felt, and the
riders were all as pale as death. Among them rode a beautiful lady, with
a crowned head and long golden locks entwined with pearls. The housings
of her palfrey were of crimson velvet embroidered with gold, and swept
the earth; but she rode all disconsolate, with eyes ever fixed upon the
ground.

Then succeeded a train of courtiers magnificently arrayed in robes and
turbans of divers colors, and amidst them, on a cream-colored charger,
rode King Boabdil el Chico, in a royal mantle covered with jewels, and a
crown sparkling with diamonds. The little Sanchica knew him by his
yellow beard, and his resemblance to his portrait, which she had often
seen in the picture-gallery of the Generalife. She gazed in wonder and
admiration at this royal pageant, as it passed glistening among the
trees; but though she knew these monarchs and courtiers and warriors, so
pale and silent, were out of the common course of nature, and things of
magic and enchantment, yet she looked on with a bold heart, such courage
did she derive from the mystic talisman of the hand, which was suspended
about her neck.

The cavalcade having passed by, she rose and followed. It continued on
to the great Gate of Justice, which stood wide open; the old invalid
sentinels on duty lay on the stone benches of the barbican, buried in
profound and apparently charmed sleep, and the phantom pageant swept
noiselessly by them with flaunting banner and triumphant state. Sanchica
would have followed; but to her surprise she beheld an opening in the
earth, within the barbican, leading down beneath the foundations of the
tower. She entered for a little distance, and was encouraged to proceed
by finding steps rudely hewn in the rock, and a vaulted passage here and
there lit up by a silver lamp, which, while it gave light, diffused
likewise a grateful fragrance. Venturing on, she came at last to a great
hall, wrought out of the heart of the mountain, magnificently furnished
in the Moorish style, and lighted up by silver and crystal lamps. Here,
on an ottoman, sat an old man in Moorish dress, with a long white beard,
nodding and dozing, with a staff in his hand, which seemed ever to be
slipping from his grasp; while at a little distance sat a beautiful
lady, in ancient Spanish dress, with a coronet all sparkling with
diamonds, and her hair entwined with pearls, who was softly playing on a
silver lyre. The little Sanchica now recollected a story she had heard
among the old people of the Alhambra, concerning a Gothic princess
confined in the centre of the mountain by an old Arabian magician, whom
she kept bound up in magic sleep by the power of music.

The lady paused with surprise at seeing a mortal in that enchanted hall.
“Is it the eve of the blessed St. John?” said she.

“It is,” replied Sanchica.

“Then for one night the magic charm is suspended. Come hither, child,
and fear not. I am a Christian like thyself, though bound here by
enchantment. Touch my fetters with the talisman that hangs about thy
neck, and for this night I shall be free.”

So saying, she opened her robes and displayed a broad golden band round
her waist, and a golden chain that fastened her to the ground. The child
hesitated not to apply the little hand of jet to the golden band, and
immediately the chain fell to the earth. At the sound the old man woke
and began to rub his eyes; but the lady ran her fingers over the chords
of the lyre, and again he fell into a slumber and began to nod, and his
staff to falter in his hand. “Now,” said the lady, “touch his staff with
the talismanic hand of jet.” The child did so, and it fell from his
grasp, and he sank in a deep sleep on the ottoman. The lady gently laid
the silver lyre on the ottoman, leaning it against the head of the
sleeping magician; then touching the chords until they vibrated in his
ear,--“O potent spirit of harmony,” said she, “continue thus to hold his
senses in thraldom till the return of day. Now follow me, my child,”
continued she, “and thou shalt behold the Alhambra as it was in the days
of its glory, for thou hast a magic talisman that reveals all
enchantments.” Sanchica followed the lady in silence. They passed up
through the entrance of the cavern into the barbican of the Gate of
Justice, and thence to the Plaza de los Algibes, or esplanade within the
fortress.

This was all filled with Moorish soldiery, horse and foot, marshalled in
squadrons, with banners displayed. There were royal guards also at the
portal, and rows of African blacks with drawn cimeters. No one spoke a
word, and Sanchica passed on fearlessly after her conductor. Her
astonishment increased on entering the royal palace, in which she had
been reared. The broad moonshine lit up all the halls and courts and
gardens almost as brightly as if it were day, but revealed a far
different scene from that to which she was accustomed. The walls of the
apartments were no longer stained and rent by time. Instead of cobwebs,
they were now hung with rich silks of Damascus, and the gildings and
arabesque paintings were restored to their original brilliancy and
freshness. The halls, no longer naked and unfurnished, were set out with
divans and ottomans of the rarest stuffs, embroidered with pearls and
studded with precious gems, and all the fountains in the courts and
gardens were playing.

The kitchens were again in full operation; cooks were busy preparing
shadowy dishes, and roasting and boiling the phantoms of pullets and
partridges; servants were hurrying to and fro with silver dishes heaped
up with dainties, and arranging a delicious banquet. The Court of Lions
was thronged with guards, and courtiers, and alfaquis, as in the old
times of the Moors; and at the upper end, in the saloon of judgment, sat
Boabdil on his throne, surrounded by his court, and swaying a shadowy
sceptre for the night. Notwithstanding all this throng and seeming
bustle, not a voice nor a footstep was to be heard; nothing interrupted
the midnight silence but the splashing of the fountains. The little
Sanchica followed her conductress in mute amazement about the palace,
until they came to a portal opening to the vaulted passages beneath the
great Tower of Comares. On each side of the portal sat the figure of a
nymph, wrought out of alabaster. Their heads were turned aside, and
their regards fixed upon the same spot within the vault. The enchanted
lady paused, and beckoned the child to her. “Here,” said she, “is a
great secret, which I will reveal to thee in reward for thy faith and
courage. These discreet statues watch over a treasure hidden in old
times by a Moorish king. Tell thy father to search the spot on which
their eyes are fixed, and he will find what will make him richer than
any man in Granada. Thy innocent hands alone, however, gifted as thou
art also with the talisman, can remove the treasure. Bid thy father use
it discreetly, and devote a part of it to the performance of daily
masses for my deliverance from this unholy enchantment.”

When the lady had spoken these words, she led the child onward to the
little garden of Lindaraxa, which is hard by the vault of the statues.
The moon trembled upon the waters of the solitary fountain in the centre
of the garden, and shed a tender light upon the orange and citron trees.
The beautiful lady plucked a branch of myrtle and wreathed it round the
head of the child. “Let this be a memento,” said she, “of what I have
revealed to thee, and a testimonial of its truth. My hour is come; I
must return to the enchanted hall; follow me not, lest evil befall
thee;--farewell. Remember what I have said, and have masses performed
for my deliverance.” So saying, the lady entered a dark passage leading
beneath the Tower of Comares, and was no longer seen.

The faint crowing of a cock was now heard from the cottages below the
Alhambra, in the valley of the Darro, and a pale streak of light began
to appear above the eastern mountains. A slight wind arose, there was a
sound like the rustling of dry leaves through the courts and corridors,
and door after door shut to with a jarring sound.

Sanchica returned to the scenes she had so lately beheld thronged with
the shadowy multitude, but Boabdil and his phantom court were gone. The
moon shone into empty halls and galleries stripped of their transient
splendor, stained and dilapidated by time, and hung with cobwebs. The
bat flitted about in the uncertain light, and the frog croaked from the
fishpond.

Sanchica now made the best of her way to a remote staircase that led up
to the humble apartment occupied by her family. The door as usual was
open, for Lope Sanchez was too poor to need bolt or bar; she crept
quietly to her pallet, and, putting the myrtle wreath beneath her
pillow, soon fell asleep.

In the morning she related all that had befallen her to her father. Lope
Sanchez, however, treated the whole as a mere dream, and laughed at the
child for her credulity. He went forth to his customary labors in the
garden, but had not been there long when his little daughter came
running to him almost breathless. “Father! father!” cried she, “behold
the myrtle wreath which the Moorish lady bound round my head.”

Lope Sanchez gazed with astonishment, for the stalk of the myrtle was of
pure gold, and every leaf was a sparkling emerald! Being not much
accustomed to precious stones, he was ignorant of the real value of the
wreath, but he saw enough to convince him that it was something more
substantial than the stuff of which dreams are generally made, and that
at any rate the child had dreamt to some purpose. His first care was to
enjoin the most absolute secrecy upon his daughter; in this respect,
however, he was secure, for she had discretion far beyond her years or
sex. He then repaired to the vault, where stood the statues of the two
alabaster nymphs. He remarked that their heads were turned from the
portal, and that the regards of each were fixed upon the same point in
the interior of the building. Lope Sanchez could not but admire this
most discreet contrivance for guarding a secret. He drew a line from the
eyes of the statues to the point of regard, made a private mark on the
wall, and then retired.

All day, however, the mind of Lope Sanchez was distracted with a
thousand cares. He could not help hovering within distant view of the
two statues, and became nervous from the dread that the golden secret
might be discovered. Every footstep that approached the place made him
tremble. He would have given anything could he but have turned the heads
of the statues, forgetting that they had looked precisely in the same
direction for some hundreds of years, without any person being the
wiser.

“A plague upon them,” he would say to himself, “they’ll betray all; did
ever mortal hear of such a mode of guarding a secret?” Then on hearing
any one advance, he would steal off, as though his very lurking near the
place would awaken suspicion. Then he would return cautiously, and peep
from a distance to see if everything was secure, but the sight of the
statues would again call forth his indignation. “Ay, there they stand,”
would he say, “always looking, and looking, and looking, just where they
should not. Confound them! they are just like all their sex; if they
have not tongues to tattle with they’ll be sure to do it with their
eyes.”

At length, to his relief, the long anxious day drew to a close. The
sound of footsteps was no longer heard in the echoing halls of the
Alhambra; the last stranger passed the threshold, the great portal was
barred and bolted, and the bat and the frog and the hooting owl
gradually resumed their nightly vocations in the deserted palace.

Lope Sanchez waited, however, until the night was far advanced before he
ventured with his little daughter to the hall of the two nymphs. He
found them looking as knowingly and mysteriously as ever at the secret
place of deposit. “By your leaves, gentle ladies,” thought Lope Sanchez,
as he passed between them, “I will relieve you from this charge that
must have set so heavy in your minds for the last two or three
centuries.” He accordingly went to work at the part of the wall which he
had marked, and in a little while laid open a concealed recess, in which
stood two great jars of porcelain. He attempted to draw them forth, but
they were immovable, until touched by the innocent hand of his little
daughter. With her aid he dislodged them from their niche, and found, to
his great joy, that they were filled with pieces of Moorish gold,
mingled with jewels and precious stones. Before daylight he managed to
convey them to his chamber, and left the two guardian statues with their
eyes still fixed on the vacant wall.

Lope Sanchez had thus on a sudden become a rich man; but riches, as
usual, brought a world of cares to which he had hitherto been a
stranger. How was he to convey away his wealth with safety? How was he
even to enter upon the enjoyment of it without awakening suspicion? Now,
too, for the first time in his life the dread of robbers entered into
his mind. He looked with terror at the insecurity of his habitation, and
went to work to barricade the doors and windows; yet after all his
precautions he could not sleep soundly. His usual gayety was at an end,
he had no longer a joke or a song for his neighbors, and, in short,
became the most miserable animal in the Alhambra. His old comrades
remarked this alteration, pitied him heartily, and began to desert him;
thinking he must be falling into want, and in danger of looking to them
for assistance. Little did they suspect that his only calamity was
riches.

The wife of Lope Sanchez shared his anxiety, but then she had ghostly
comfort. We ought before this to have mentioned that, Lope being rather
a light inconsiderate little man, his wife was accustomed, in all grave
matters, to seek the counsel and ministry of her confessor Fray Simon, a
sturdy, broad-shouldered, blue-bearded, bullet-headed friar of the
neighboring convent of San Francisco, who was in fact the spiritual
comforter of half the good wives of the neighborhood. He was moreover in
great esteem among divers sisterhoods of nuns; who requited him for his
ghostly services by frequent presents of those little dainties and
knick-knacks manufactured in convents, such as delicate confections,
sweet biscuits, and bottles of spiced cordials, found to be marvellous
restoratives after fasts and vigils.

Fray Simon thrived in the exercise of his functions. His oily skin
glistened in the sunshine as he toiled up the hill of the Alhambra on a
sultry day. Yet notwithstanding his sleek condition, the knotted rope
round his waist showed the austerity of his self-discipline; the
multitude doffed their caps to him as a mirror of piety, and even the
dogs scented the odor of sanctity that exhaled from his garments, and
howled from their kennels as he passed.

Such was Fray Simon, the spiritual counsellor of the comely wife of Lope
Sanchez; and as the father confessor is the domestic confidant of women
in humble life in Spain, he was soon acquainted, in great secrecy, with
the story of the hidden treasure.

The friar opened his eyes and mouth, and crossed himself a dozen times
at the news. After a moment’s pause, “Daughter of my soul!” said he,
“know that thy husband has committed a double sin--a sin against both
state and church! The treasure he hath thus seized upon for himself,
being found in the royal domains, belongs of course to the crown; but
being infidel wealth, rescued as it were from the very fangs of Satan,
should be devoted to the church. Still, however, the matter may be
accommodated. Bring hither thy myrtle wreath.”

When the good father beheld it, his eyes twinkled more than ever with
admiration of the size and beauty of the emeralds. “This,” said he,
“being the first-fruits of this discovery, should be dedicated to pious
purposes. I will hang it up as a votive offering before the image of San
Francisco in our chapel, and will earnestly pray to him, this very
night, that your husband be permitted to remain in quiet possession of
your wealth.”

The good dame was delighted to make her peace with heaven at so cheap a
rate, and the friar, putting the wreath under his mantle, departed with
saintly steps toward his convent.

When Lope Sanchez came home, his wife told him what had passed. He was
excessively provoked, for he lacked his wife’s devotion, and had for
some time groaned in secret at the domestic visitations of the friar.
“Woman,” said he, “what hast thou done? thou hast put everything at
hazard by thy tattling.”

“What!” cried the good woman, “would you forbid my disburdening my
conscience to my confessor?”

“No, wife! confess as many of your own sins as you please; but as to
this money-digging, it is a sin of my own, and my conscience is very
easy under the weight of it.”

There was no use, however, in complaining; the secret was told, and,
like water spilled on the sand, was not again to be gathered. Their only
chance was, that the friar would be discreet.

The next day, while Lope Sanchez was abroad, there was an humble
knocking at the door, and Fray Simon entered with meek and demure
countenance.

“Daughter,” said he, “I have earnestly prayed to San Francisco, and he
has heard my prayer. In the dead of the night the saint appeared to me
in a dream, but with a frowning aspect. ‘Why,’ said he, ‘dost thou pray
to me to dispense with this treasure of the Gentiles, when thou seest
the poverty of my chapel? Go to the house of Lope Sanchez, crave in my
name a portion of the Moorish gold, to furnish two candlesticks for the
main altar, and let him possess the residue in peace.’”

When the good woman heard of this vision, she crossed herself with awe,
and going to the secret place where Lope had hid the treasure, she
filled a great leathern purse with pieces of Moorish gold, and gave it
to the friar. The pious monk bestowed upon her, in return, benedictions
enough, if paid by Heaven, to enrich her race to the latest posterity;
then slipping the purse into the sleeve of his habit, he folded his
hands upon his breast, and departed with an air of humble thankfulness.

When Lope Sanchez heard of this second donation to the church, he had
wellnigh lost his senses. “Unfortunate man,” cried he, “what will become
of me? I shall be robbed by piecemeal; I shall be ruined and brought to
beggary.”

It was with the utmost difficulty that his wife could pacify him, by
reminding him of the countless wealth that yet remained, and how
considerate it was for San Francisco to rest contented with so small a
portion.

Unluckily, Fray Simon had a number of poor relations to be provided for,
not to mention some half-dozen sturdy bullet-headed orphan children and
destitute foundlings that he had taken under his care. He repeated his
visits, therefore, from day to day, with solicitations on behalf of
Saint Dominick, Saint Andrew, Saint James, until poor Lope was driven to
despair, and found that unless he got out of the reach of this holy
friar, he should have to make peace-offerings to every saint in the
calendar. He determined, therefore, to pack up his remaining wealth,
beat a secret retreat in the night, and make off to another part of the
kingdom.

Full of his project, he bought a stout mule for the purpose, and
tethered it in a gloomy vault underneath the tower of the seven floors;
the very place whence the Belludo, or goblin horse, is said to issue
forth at midnight, and scour the streets of Granada, pursued by a pack
of hell-hounds. Lope Sanchez had little faith in the story, but availed
himself of the dread occasioned by it, knowing that no one would be
likely to pry into the subterranean stable of the phantom steed. He sent
off his family in the course of the day, with orders to wait for him at
a distant village of the Vega. As the night advanced, he conveyed his
treasure to the vault under the tower, and having loaded his mule, he
led it forth, and cautiously descended the dusky avenue.

Honest Lope had taken his measures with the utmost secrecy, imparting
them to no one but the faithful wife of his bosom. By some miraculous
revelation, however, they became known to Fray Simon. The zealous friar
beheld these infidel treasures on the point of slipping forever out of
his grasp, and determined to have one more dash at them for the benefit
of the church and San Francisco. Accordingly, when the bells had rung
for animas, and all the Alhambra was quiet, he stole out of his convent,
and descending through the Gate of Justice, concealed himself among the
thickets of roses and laurels that border the great avenue. Here he
remained, counting the quarters of hours as they were sounded on the
bell of the watchtower, and listening to the dreary hootings of owls,
and the distant barking of dogs from the gypsy caverns.

At length he heard the tramp of hoofs, and, through the gloom of the
overshading trees, imperfectly beheld a steed descending the avenue. The
sturdy friar chuckled at the idea of the knowing turn he was about to
serve honest Lope.

Tucking up the skirts of his habit, and wriggling like a cat watching a
mouse, he waited until his prey was directly before him, when darting
forth from his leafy covert, and putting one hand on the shoulder and
the other on the crupper, he made a vault that would not have disgraced
the most experienced master of equitation, and alighted well-forked
astride the steed. “Ah ha!” said the sturdy friar, “we shall now see who
best understands the game.” He had scarce uttered the words when the
mule began to kick, and rear, and plunge, and then set off full speed
down the hill. The friar attempted to check him, but in vain. He bounded
from rock to rock, and bush to bush; the friar’s habit was torn to
ribbons and fluttered in the wind, his shaven poll received many a hard
knock from the branches of the trees, and many a scratch from the
brambles. To add to his terror and distress, he found a pack of seven
hounds in full cry at his heels, and perceived, too late, that he was
actually mounted upon the terrible Belludo!

Away then they went, according to the ancient phrase, “pull devil, pull
friar,” down the great avenue, across the Plaza Nueva, along the
Zacatin, around the Vivarrambla--never did huntsman and hound make a
more furious run, or more infernal uproar. In vain did the friar invoke
every saint in the calendar, and the holy Virgin into the bargain; every
time he mentioned a name of the kind it was like a fresh application of
the spur, and made the Belludo bound as high as a house. Through the
remainder of the night was the unlucky Fray Simon carried hither and
thither, and whither he would not, until every bone in his body ached,
and he suffered a loss of leather too grievous to be mentioned. At
length the crowing of a cock gave the signal of returning day. At the
sound the goblin steed wheeled about, and galloped back for his tower.
Again he scoured the Vivarrambla, the Zacatin, the Plaza Nueva, and the
avenue of fountains, the seven dogs yelling, and barking, and leaping
up, and snapping at the heels of the terrified friar. The first streak
of day had just appeared as they reached the tower; here the goblin
steed kicked up his heels, sent the friar a summerset through the air,
plunged into the dark vault followed by the infernal pack, and a
profound silence succeeded to the late deafening clamor.

Was ever so diabolical a trick played off upon a holy friar? A peasant
going to his labors at early dawn found the unfortunate Fray Simon lying
under a fig-tree at the foot of the tower, but so bruised and bedevilled
that he could neither speak nor move. He was conveyed with all care and
tenderness to his cell, and the story went that he had been waylaid and
maltreated by robbers. A day or two elapsed before he recovered the use
of his limbs; he consoled himself, in the mean time, with the thoughts
that though the mule with the treasure had escaped him, he had
previously had some rare pickings at the infidel spoils. His first care
on being able to use his limbs, was to search beneath his pallet, where
he had secreted the myrtle wreath and the leathern pouches of gold
extracted from the piety of Dame Sanchez. What was his dismay at finding
the wreath, in effect, but a withered branch of myrtle, and the leathern
pouches filled with sand and gravel!

Fray Simon, with all his chagrin, had the discretion to hold his tongue,
for to betray the secret might draw on him the ridicule of the public,
and the punishment of his superior. It was not until many years
afterwards, on his death-bed, that he revealed to his confessor his
nocturnal ride on the Belludo.

Nothing was heard of Lope Sanchez for a long time after his
disappearance from the Alhambra. His memory was always cherished as that
of a merry companion, though it was feared, from the care and melancholy
observed in his conduct shortly before his mysterious departure, that
poverty and distress had driven him to some extremity. Some years
afterwards one of his old companions, an invalid soldier, being at
Malaga, was knocked down and nearly run over by a coach and six. The
carriage stopped; an old gentleman, magnificently dressed, with a
bag-wig and sword, stepped out to assist the poor invalid. What was the
astonishment of the latter to behold in this grand cavalier his old
friend Lope Sanchez, who was actually celebrating the marriage of his
daughter Sanchica with one of the first grandees in the land.

The carriage contained the bridal party. There was Dame Sanchez, now
grown as round as a barrel, and dressed out with feathers and jewels,
and necklaces of pearls, and necklaces of diamonds, and rings on every
finger, altogether a finery of apparel that had not been seen since the
days of Queen Sheba. The little Sanchica had now grown to be a woman,
and for grace and beauty might have been mistaken for a duchess, if not
a princess outright. The bridegroom sat beside her--rather a withered
spindle-shanked little man, but this only proved him to be of the
true-blue blood; a legitimate Spanish grandee being rarely above three
cubits in stature. The match had been of the mother’s making.

Riches had not spoiled the heart of honest Lope. He kept his old comrade
with him for several days; feasted him like a king, took him to plays
and bull-fights, and at length sent him away rejoicing, with a big bag
of money for himself, and another to be distributed among his ancient
messmates of the Alhambra.

Lope always gave out that a rich brother had died in America and left
him heir to a copper mine; but the shrewd gossips of the Alhambra insist
that his wealth was all derived from his having discovered the secret
guarded by the two marble nymphs of the Alhambra. It is remarked that
these very discreet statues continue, even unto the present day, with
their eyes fixed most significantly on the same part of the wall; which
leads many to suppose there is still some hidden treasure remaining
there well worthy the attention of the enterprising traveller. Though
others, and particularly all female visitors, regard them with great
complacency as lasting monuments of the fact that women can keep a
secret.



THE CRUSADE OF THE GRAND MASTER OF ALCÁNTARA


In the course of a morning’s research among the old chronicles in the
Library of the University, I came upon a little episode in the history
of Granada, so strongly characteristic of the bigot zeal which sometimes
inflamed the Christian enterprises against this splendid but devoted
city, that I was tempted to draw it forth from the parchment-bound
volume in which it lay entombed, and submit it to the reader.

In the year of redemption, 1394, there was a valiant and devout grand
master of Alcántara, named Martin Yañez de Barbudo, who was inflamed
with a vehement desire to serve God and fight the Moors. Unfortunately
for this brave and pious cavalier, a profound peace existed between the
Christian and Moslem powers. Henry III had just ascended the throne of
Castile, and Yusef ben Mohammed had succeeded to the throne of Granada,
and both were disposed to continue the peace which had prevailed between
their fathers. The grand master looked with repining at Moorish banners
and weapons, which decorated his castle-hall, trophies of the exploits
of his predecessors; and repined at his fate to exist in a period of
such inglorious tranquillity.

At length his impatience broke through all bounds, and seeing that he
could find no public war in which to engage, he resolved to carve out a
little war for himself. Such at least is the account given by some
ancient chronicles, though others give the following as the motive for
this sudden resolution to go campaigning.

As the grand master was one day seated at table with several of his
cavaliers, a man suddenly entered the hall,--tall, meagre, and bony,
with haggard countenance and fiery eye. All recognized him for a hermit,
who had been a soldier in his youth, but now led a life of penitence in
a cave. He advanced to the table and struck upon it with a fist that
seemed of iron. “Cavaliers,” said he, “why sit ye here idly, with your
weapons resting against the wall, while the enemies of the faith lord it
over the fairest portion of the land?”

“Holy father, what wouldst thou have us do,” asked the grand master,
“seeing the wars are over and our swords bound up by treaties of peace?”

“Listen to my words,” replied the hermit. “As I was seated late at night
at the entrance of my cave, contemplating the heavens, I fell into a
reverie, and a wonderful vision was presented to me. I beheld the moon,
a mere crescent, yet luminous as the brightest silver, and it hung in
the heavens over the kingdom of Granada. While I was looking at it,
behold there shot forth from the firmament a blazing star, which, as it
went, drew after it all the stars of heaven; and they assailed the moon
and drove it from the skies; and the whole firmament was filled with the
glory of that blazing star. While mine eyes were yet dazzled by this
wondrous sight, some one stood by me with snowy wings and a shining
countenance. ‘Oh man of prayer,’ said he, ‘get thee to the grand master
of Alcántara and tell him of the vision thou hast beheld. He is the
blazing star, destined to drive the crescent, the Moslem emblem, from
the land. Let him boldly draw the sword and continue the good work begun
by Pelazo of old, and victory will assuredly attend his banner.’”

The grand master listened to the hermit as to a messenger from heaven,
and followed his counsel in all things. By his advice he dispatched two
of his stoutest warriors, armed _cap-à-pie_, on an embassy to the
Moorish king. They entered the gates of Granada without molestation, as
the nations were at peace; and made their way to the Alhambra, where
they were promptly admitted to the king, who received them in the Hall
of Ambassadors. They delivered their message roundly and hardly. “We
come, O King, from Don Martin Tañez de Barbudo, grand master of
Alcántara; who affirms the faith of Jesus Christ to be true and holy,
and that of Mahomet false and detestable, and he challenges thee to
maintain the contrary, hand to hand, in single combat. Shouldst thou
refuse, he offers to combat with one hundred cavaliers against two
hundred; or, in like proportion, to the number of one thousand, always
allowing thy faith a double number of champions. Remember, O King, that
thou canst not refuse this challenge; since thy prophet, knowing the
impossibility of maintaining his doctrines by argument, has commanded
his followers to enforce them with the sword.”

The beard of King Yusef trembled with indignation. “The master of
Alcántara,” said he, “is a madman to send such a message, and ye are
saucy knaves to bring it.”

So saying, he ordered the ambassadors to be thrown into a dungeon, by
way of giving them a lesson in diplomacy; and they were roughly treated
on their way thither by the populace, who were exasperated at this
insult to their sovereign and their faith.

The grand master of Alcántara could scarcely credit the tidings of the
maltreatment of his messengers; but the hermit rejoiced when they were
repeated to him. “God,” said he, “has blinded this infidel king for his
downfall. Since he has sent no reply to thy defiance, consider it
accepted. Marshal thy forces, therefore; march forward to Granada; pause
not until thou seest the gate of Elvira. A miracle will be wrought in
thy favor. There will be a great battle; the enemy will be overthrown;
but not one of thy soldiers will be slain.”

The grand master called upon every warrior zealous in the Christian
cause to aid him in this crusade. In a little while three hundred
horsemen and a thousand foot-soldiers rallied under his standard. The
horsemen were veterans, seasoned to battle and well-armed; but the
infantry were raw and undisciplined. The victory, however, was to be
miraculous; the grand master was a man of surpassing faith, and knew
that the weaker the means the greater the miracle. He sallied forth
confidently, therefore, with his little army, and the hermit strode
ahead, bearing a cross on the end of a long pole, and beneath it the
pennon of the order of Alcántara.

As they approached the city of Cordova they were overtaken by
messengers, spurring in all haste, bearing missives from the Castilian
monarch, forbidding the enterprise. The grand master was a man of a
single mind and a single will; in other words, a man of one idea. “Were
I on any other errand,” said he, “I should obey these letters as coming
from my lord the king; but I am sent by a higher power than the king. In
compliance with its commands I have advanced the cross thus far against
the infidels; and it would be treason to the standard of Christ to turn
back without achieving my errand.”

So the trumpets were sounded; the cross was again reared aloft, and the
band of zealots resumed their march. As they passed through the streets
of Cordova the people were amazed at beholding a hermit bearing a cross
at the head of a warlike multitude; but when they learnt that a
miraculous victory was to be effected and Granada destroyed, laborers
and artisans threw by the implements of their handicrafts and joined in
the crusade; while a mercenary rabble followed on with a view of
plunder.

A number of cavaliers of rank who lacked faith in the promised miracle,
and dreaded the consequences of this unprovoked irruption into the
country of the Moor, assembled at the bridge of the Guadalquivir and
endeavored to dissuade the grand master from crossing. He was deaf to
prayers, expostulations, or menaces; his followers were enraged at this
opposition to the cause of the faith; they put an end to the parley by
their clamors; the cross was again reared and borne triumphantly across
the bridge.

The multitude increased as it proceeded; by the time the grand master
had reached Alcala la Real, which stands on a mountain overlooking the
Vega of Granada, upwards of five thousand men on foot had joined his
standard.

At Alcala came forth Alonzo Fernandez de Cordova, Lord of Aguilar, his
brother Diego Fernandez, Marshal of Castile, and other cavaliers of
valor and experience. Placing themselves in the way of the grand master,
“What madness is this, Don Martin?” said they; “the Moorish king has two
hundred thousand foot-soldiers and five thousand horse within his walls;
what can you and your handful of cavaliers and your noisy rabble do
against such force? Bethink you of the disasters which have befallen
other Christian commanders, who have crossed these rocky borders with
ten times your force. Think, too, of the mischief that will be brought
upon this kingdom by an outrage of the kind committed by a man of your
rank and importance, a grand master of Alcántara. Pause, we entreat you,
while the truce is yet unbroken. Await within the borders the reply of
the king of Granada to your challenge. If he agree to meet you singly,
or with champions two or three, it will be your individual contest, and
fight it out in God’s name; if he refuse, you may return home with great
honor and the disgrace will fall upon the Moors.”

Several cavaliers, who had hitherto followed the grand master with
devoted zeal, were moved by these expostulations, and suggested to him
the policy of listening to this advice.

“Cavaliers,” said he, addressing himself to Alonzo Fernandez de Cordova
and his companions, “I thank you for the counsel you have so kindly
bestowed upon me, and if I were merely in pursuit of individual glory I
might be swayed by it. But I am engaged to achieve a great triumph of
the faith, which God is to effect by miracle through my means. As to
you, cavaliers,” turning to those of his followers who had wavered, “if
your hearts fail you, or you repent of having put your hands to this
good work, return, in God’s name, and my blessing go with you. For
myself, though I have none to stand by me but this holy hermit, yet will
I assuredly proceed; until I have planted this sacred standard on the
walls of Granada, or perished in the attempt.”

“Don Martin Yañez de Barbudo,” replied the cavaliers, “we are not men to
turn our backs upon our commander, however rash his enterprise. We spoke
but in caution. Lead on, therefore, and if it be to the death, be
assured to the death we will follow thee.”

By this time the common soldiers became impatient. “Forward! forward!”
shouted they. “Forward in the cause of faith.” So the grand master gave
signal, the hermit again reared the cross aloft, and they poured down a
defile of the mountain, with solemn chants of triumph.

That night they encamped at the river of Azores, and the next morning,
which was Sunday, crossed the borders. Their first pause was at an
atalaya or solitary tower, built upon a rock; a frontier post to keep a
watch upon the border, and give notice of invasion. It was thence called
el Torre del Exea (the tower of the spy). The grand master halted before
it and summoned its petty garrison to surrender. He was answered by a
shower of stones and arrows, which wounded him in the hand and killed
three of his men.

“How is this, father?” said he to the hermit; “you assured me that not
one of my followers would be slain!”

“True, my son; but I meant in the great battle of the infidel king; what
need is there of miracle to aid in the capture of a petty tower?”

The grand master was satisfied. He ordered wood to be piled against the
door of the tower to burn it down. In the mean time provisions were
unloaded from the sumpter-mules, and the crusaders, withdrawing beyond
bow-shot, sat down on the grass to a repast to strengthen them for the
arduous day’s work before them. While thus engaged, they were startled
by the sudden appearance of a great Moorish host. The atalayas had given
the alarm by fire and smoke from the mountain-tops of “an enemy across
the border,” and the king of Granada had sallied forth with a great
force to the encounter.

The crusaders, nearly taken by surprise, flew to arms and prepared for
battle. The grand master ordered his three hundred horsemen to dismount
and fight on foot in support of the infantry. The Moors, however,
charged so suddenly that they separated the cavaliers from the
foot-soldiers and prevented their uniting. The grand master gave the old
war-cry, “Santiago! Santiago! and close Spain!” He and his knights
breasted the fury of the battle, but were surrounded by a countless host
and assailed with arrows, stones, darts, and arquebuses. Still they
fought fearlessly, and made prodigious slaughter. The hermit mingled in
the hottest of the fight. In one hand he bore the cross, in the other
he brandished a sword, with which he dealt about him like a maniac,
slaying several of the enemy, until he sank to the ground covered with
wounds. The grand master saw him fall, and saw too late the fallacy of
his prophecies. Despair, however, only made him fight the more fiercely,
until he also fell overpowered by numbers. His devoted cavaliers
emulated his holy zeal. Not one turned his back nor asked for mercy; all
fought until they fell. As to the foot-soldiers, many were killed, many
taken prisoners; the residue escaped to Alcala la Real. When the Moors
came to strip the slain, the wounds of the cavaliers were all found to
be in front.

Such was the catastrophe of this fanatic enterprise. The Moors vaunted
it as a decisive proof of the superior sanctity of their faith, and
extolled their king to the skies when he returned in triumph to Granada.

As it was satisfactorily shown that this crusade was the enterprise of
an individual, and contrary to the express orders of the king of
Castile, the peace of the two kingdoms was not interrupted. Nay, the
Moors evinced a feeling of respect for the valor of the unfortunate
grand master, and readily gave up his body to Don Alonzo Fernandez de
Cordova, who came from Alcala to seek it. The Christians of the frontier
united in paying the last sad honors to his memory. His body was placed
upon a bier, covered with the pennon of the order of Alcántara; and the
broken cross, the emblem of his confident hopes and fatal
disappointment, was borne before it. In this way his remains were
carried back in funeral procession, through the mountain tract which he
had traversed so resolutely. Wherever it passed, through a town or
village, the populace followed, with tears and lamentations, bewailing
him as a valiant knight and a martyr to the faith. His body was interred
in the chapel of the convent of Santa Maria de Almocovara, and on his
sepulchre may still be seen engraven in quaint and antique Spanish the
following testimonial to his bravery:--


     HERE LIES ONE WHOSE HEART NEVER KNEW FEAR.

     (Aqui yaz aquel que par neua cosa nunca eve pavor en seu
     corazon.)[19]



SPANISH ROMANCE


In the latter part of my sojourn in the Alhambra, I made frequent
descents into the Jesuit’s Library of the University; and relished more
and more the old Spanish chronicles, which I found there bound in
parchment. I delight in those quaint histories which treat of the times
when the Moslems maintained a foothold in the Peninsula. With all their
bigotry and occasional intolerance, they are full of noble acts and
generous sentiments, and have a high, spicy, Oriental flavor, not to be
found in other records of the times, which were merely European. In
fact, Spain, even at the present day, is a country apart; severed in
history, habits, manners, and modes of thinking, from all the rest of
Europe. It is a romantic country; but its romance has none of the
sentimentality of modern European romance; it is chiefly derived from
the brilliant regions of the East, and from the high-minded school of
Saracenic chivalry.

The Arab invasion and conquest brought a higher civilization, and a
nobler style of thinking, into Gothic Spain. The Arabs were a
quick-witted, sagacious, proud-spirited, and poetical people, and were
imbued with Oriental science and literature. Wherever they established a
seat of power, it became a rallying-place for the learned and
ingenious; and they softened and refined the people whom they conquered.
By degrees, occupancy seemed to give them an hereditary right to their
foothold in the land; they ceased to be looked upon as invaders, and
were regarded as rival neighbors. The Peninsula, broken up into a
variety of states, both Christian and Moslem, became, for centuries, a
great campaigning-ground, where the art of war seemed to be the
principal business of man, and was carried to the highest pitch of
romantic chivalry. The original ground of hostility, a difference of
faith, gradually lost its rancor. Neighboring states, of opposite
creeds, were occasionally linked together in alliances, offensive and
defensive; so that the cross and crescent were to be seen side by side,
fighting against some common enemy. In times of peace, too, the noble
youth of either faith resorted to the same cities, Christian or Moslem,
to school themselves in military science. Even in the temporary truces
of sanguinary wars, the warriors who had recently striven together in
the deadly conflicts of the field, laid aside their animosity, met at
tournaments, jousts, and other military festivities, and exchanged the
courtesies of gentle and generous spirits. Thus the opposite races
became frequently mingled together in peaceful intercourse, or if any
rivalry took place, it was in those high courtesies and nobler acts,
which bespeak the accomplished cavalier. Warriors, of opposite creeds,
became ambitious of transcending each other in magnanimity as well as
valor. Indeed, the chivalric virtues were refined upon to a degree
sometimes fastidious and constrained, but at other times inexpressibly
noble and affecting. The annals of the times teem with illustrious
instances of high-wrought courtesy, romantic generosity, lofty
disinterestedness, and punctilious honor, that warm the very soul to
read them. These have furnished themes for national plays and poems, or
have been celebrated in those all-pervading ballads, which are as the
life-breath of the people, and thus have continued to exercise an
influence on the national character, which centuries of vicissitude and
decline have not been able to destroy; so that, with all their faults,
and they are many, the Spaniards, even at the present day, are, on many
points, the most high-minded and proud-spirited people of Europe. It is
true, the romance of feeling derived from the sources I have mentioned,
has, like all other romance, its affectations and extremes. It renders
the Spaniard at times pompous and grandiloquent; prone to carry the
“pundonor,” or point of honor, beyond the bounds of sober sense and
sound morality; disposed, in the midst of poverty, to affect the “grande
caballero,” and to look down with sovereign disdain upon “arts
mechanical,” and all the gainful pursuits of plebeian life; but this
very inflation of spirit, while it fills his brain with vapors, lifts
him above a thousand meannesses; and though it often keeps him in
indigence, ever protects him from vulgarity.

In the present day, when popular literature is running into the low
levels of life, and luxuriating on the vices and follies of mankind; and
when the universal pursuit of gain is trampling down the early growth of
poetic feeling, and wearing out the verdure of the soul, I question
whether it would not be of service for the reader occasionally to turn
to these records of prouder times and loftier modes of thinking; and to
steep himself to the very lips in old Spanish romance.

With these preliminary suggestions, the fruit of a morning’s reading and
rumination in the old Jesuit’s Library of the University, I will give
him a legend in point, drawn forth from one of the venerable chronicles
alluded to.



LEGEND OF DON MUNIO SANCHO DE HINOJOSA


In the cloisters of the ancient Benedictine convent of San Domingo, at
Silos, in Castile, are the mouldering yet magnificent monuments of the
once powerful and chivalrous family of Hinojosa. Among these reclines
the marble figure of a knight, in complete armor, with the hands pressed
together, as if in prayer. On one side of his tomb is sculptured in
relief a band of Christian cavaliers, capturing a cavalcade of male and
female Moors; on the other side, the same cavaliers are represented
kneeling before an altar. The tomb, like most of the neighboring
monuments, is almost in ruins, and the sculpture is nearly
unintelligible, excepting to the keen eye of the antiquary. The story
connected with the sepulchre, however, is still preserved in the old
Spanish chronicles, and is to the following purport.

       *       *       *       *       *

In old times, several hundred years ago, there was a noble Castilian
cavalier, named Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, lord of a border castle,
which had stood the brunt of many a Moorish foray. He had seventy
horsemen as his household troops, all of the ancient Castilian proof;
stark warriors, hard riders, and men of iron; with these he scoured the
Moorish lands, and made his name terrible throughout the borders. His
castle-hall was covered with banners, cimeters, and Moslem helms, the
trophies of his prowess. Don Munio was, moreover, a keen huntsman; and
rejoiced in hounds of all kinds, steeds for the chase, and hawks for the
towering sport of falconry. When not engaged in warfare his delight was
to beat up the neighboring forests; and scarcely ever did he ride forth
without hound and horn, a boar-spear in his hand, or a hawk upon his
fist, and an attendant train of huntsmen.

His wife, Doña Maria Palacin, was of a gentle and timid nature, little
fitted to be the spouse of so hardy and adventurous a knight; and many a
tear did the poor lady shed, when he sallied forth upon his daring
enterprises, and many a prayer did she offer up for his safety.

As this doughty cavalier was one day hunting, he stationed himself in a
thicket, on the borders of a green glade of the forest, and dispersed
his followers to rouse the game, and drive it toward his stand. He had
not been here long, when a cavalcade of Moors, of both sexes, came
prankling over the forest-lawn. They were unarmed, and magnificently
dressed in robes of tissue and embroidery, rich shawls of India,
bracelets and anklets of gold, and jewels that sparkled in the sun.

At the head of this gay cavalcade rode a youthful cavalier, superior to
the rest in dignity and loftiness of demeanor, and in splendor of
attire: beside him was a damsel, whose veil, blown aside by the breeze,
displayed a face of surpassing beauty, and eyes cast down in maiden
modesty, yet beaming with tenderness and joy.

Don Munio thanked his stars for sending him such a prize, and exulted at
the thought of bearing home to his wife the glittering spoils of these
infidels. Putting his hunting-horn to his lips, he gave a blast that
rung through the forest. His huntsmen came running from all quarters,
and the astonished Moors were surrounded and made captives.

The beautiful Moor wrung her hands in despair, and her female attendants
uttered the most piercing cries. The young Moorish cavalier alone
retained self-possession. He inquired the name of the Christian knight
who commanded this troop of horsemen. When told that it was Don Munio
Sancho de Hinojosa, his countenance lighted up. Approaching that
cavalier, and kissing his hand, “Don Munio Sancho,” said he, “I have
heard of your fame as a true and valiant knight, terrible in arms, but
schooled in the noble virtues of chivalry. Such do I trust to find you.
In me you behold Abadil, son of a Moorish alcayde. I am on the way to
celebrate my nuptials with this lady; chance has thrown us in your
power, but I confide in your magnanimity. Take all our treasure and
jewels; demand what ransom you think proper for our persons, but suffer
us not to be insulted nor dishonored.”

When the good knight heard this appeal, and beheld the beauty of the
youthful pair, his heart was touched with tenderness and courtesy. “God
forbid,” said he, “that I should disturb such happy nuptials. My
prisoners in troth shall ye be for fifteen days, and immured within my
castle, where I claim, as conqueror, the right of celebrating your
espousals.”

So saying, he dispatched one of his fleetest horsemen in advance, to
notify Doña Maria Palacin of the coming of this bridal party; while he
and his huntsmen escorted the cavalcade, not as captors, but as a guard
of honor. As they drew near to the castle, the banners were hung out,
and the trumpets sounded from the battlements; and on their nearer
approach, the drawbridge was lowered, and Doña Maria came forth to meet
them, attended by her ladies and knights, her pages and her minstrels.
She took the young bride, Allifra, in her arms, kissed her with the
tenderness of a sister, and conducted her into the castle. In the mean
time, Don Munio sent forth missives in every direction, and had viands
and dainties of all kinds collected from the country round; and the
wedding of the Moorish lovers was celebrated with all possible state and
festivity. For fifteen days the castle was given up to joy and revelry.
There were tiltings and jousts at the ring, and bull-fights, and
banquets, and dances to the sound of minstrelsy. When the fifteen days
were at an end, he made the bride and bridegroom magnificent presents,
and conducted them and their attendants safely beyond the borders. Such,
in old times, were the courtesy and generosity of a Spanish cavalier.

Several years after this event, the king of Castile summoned his nobles
to assist him in a campaign against the Moors. Don Munio Sancho was
among the first to answer to the call, with seventy horsemen, all stanch
and well-tried warriors. His wife, Doña Maria, hung about his neck.
“Alas, my lord!” exclaimed she, “how often wilt thou tempt thy fate, and
when will thy thirst for glory be appeased!”

“One battle more,” replied Don Munio, “one battle more, for the honor of
Castile, and I here make a vow, that when this is over, I will lay by my
sword, and repair with my cavaliers in pilgrimage to the sepulchre of
our Lord at Jerusalem.” The cavaliers all joined with him in the vow,
and Doña Maria felt in some degree soothed in spirit; still, she saw
with a heavy heart the departure of her husband, and watched his banner
with wistful eyes, until it disappeared among the trees of the forest.

The king of Castile led his army to the plains of Salmanara, where they
encountered the Moorish host, near to Ucles. The battle was long and
bloody; the Christians repeatedly wavered and were as often rallied by
the energy of their commanders. Don Munio was covered with wounds, but
refused to leave the field. The Christians at length gave way, and the
king was hardly pressed, and in danger of being captured.

Don Munio called upon his cavaliers to follow him to the rescue. “Now is
the time,” cried he, “to prove your loyalty. Fall to, like brave men! We
fight for the true faith, and if we lose our lives here, we gain a
better life hereafter.”

Rushing with his men between the king and his pursuers, they checked the
latter in their career, and gave time for their monarch to escape; but
they fell victims to their loyalty. They all fought to the last gasp.
Don Munio was singled out by a powerful Moorish knight, but having been
wounded in the right arm, he fought to disadvantage, and was slain. The
battle being over, the Moor paused to possess himself of the spoils of
this redoubtable Christian warrior. When he unlaced the helmet, however,
and beheld the countenance of Don Munio, he gave a great cry and smote
his breast. “Woe is me!” cried he, “I have slain my benefactor! The
flower of knightly virtue! the most magnanimous of cavaliers!”

       *       *       *       *       *

While the battle had been raging on the plain of Salmanara, Doña Maria
Palacin remained in her castle, a prey to the keenest anxiety. Her eyes
were ever fixed on the road that led from the country of the Moors, and
often she asked the watchman of the tower, “What seest thou?”

One evening, at the shadowy hour of twilight, the warden sounded his
horn. “I see,” cried he, “a numerous train winding up the valley. There
are mingled Moors and Christians. The banner of my lord is in the
advance. Joyful tidings!” exclaimed the old seneschal; “my lord returns
in triumph, and brings captives!” Then the castle courts rang with
shouts of joy; and the standard was displayed, and the trumpets were
sounded, and the drawbridge was lowered, and Doña Maria went forth with
her ladies, and her knights, and her pages, and her minstrels, to
welcome her lord from the wars. But as the train drew nigh, she beheld a
sumptuous bier, covered with black velvet, and on it lay a warrior, as
if taking his repose: he lay in his armor, with his helmet on his head,
and his sword in his hand, as one who had never been conquered, and
around the bier were the escutcheons of the house of Hinojosa.

A number of Moorish cavaliers attended the bier, with emblems of
mourning, and with dejected countenances; and their leader cast himself
at the feet of Doña Maria, and hid his face in his hands. She beheld in
him the gallant Abadil, whom she had once welcomed with his bride to her
castle; but who now came with the body of her lord, whom he had
unknowingly slain in battle!

       *       *       *       *       *

The sepulchre erected in the cloisters of the convent of San Domingo,
was achieved at the expense of the Moor Abadil, as a feeble testimony of
his grief for the death of the good knight Don Munio, and his reverence
for his memory. The tender and faithful Doña Maria soon followed her
lord to the tomb. On one of the stones of a small arch, beside his
sepulchre, is the following simple inscription: “_Hic jacet Maria
Palacin, uxor Munonis Sancij De Finojosa_”;--Here lies Maria Palacin,
wife of Munio Sancho de Hinojosa.

The legend of Don Munio Sancho does not conclude with his death. On the
same day on which the battle took place on the plain of Salmanara, a
chaplain of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem, while standing at the outer
gate, beheld a train of Christian cavaliers advancing, as if in
pilgrimage. The chaplain was a native of Spain, and as the pilgrims
approached, he knew the foremost to be Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa,
with whom he had been well acquainted in former times. Hastening to the
patriarch, he told him of the honorable rank of the pilgrims at the
gate. The patriarch, therefore, went forth with a grand procession of
priests and monks, and received the pilgrims with all due honor. There
were seventy cavaliers, beside their leader,--all stark and lofty
warriors. They carried their helmets in their hands, and their faces
were deadly pale. They greeted no one, nor looked either to the right or
to the left, but entered the chapel, and kneeling before the sepulchre
of our Saviour, performed their orisons in silence. When they had
concluded, they rose as if to depart, and the patriarch and his
attendants advanced to speak to them, but they were no more to be seen.
Every one marvelled what could be the meaning of this prodigy. The
patriarch carefully noted down the day, and sent to Castile to learn
tidings of Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa. He received for reply, that on
the very day specified, that worthy knight, with seventy of his
followers, had been slain in battle. These, therefore, must have been
the blessed spirits of those Christian warriors, come to fulfil their
vow of pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Such was Castilian
faith in the olden time, which kept its word, even beyond the grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

If any one should doubt of the miraculous apparition of these phantom
knights, let him consult the History of the Kings of Castile and Leon,
by the learned and pious Fray Prudencio de Sandoval, bishop of Pamplona,
where he will find it recorded in the History of King Don Alonzo VI., on
the hundred and second page. It is too precious a legend to be lightly
abandoned to the doubter.



POETS AND POETRY OF MOSLEM ANDALUS


During the latter part of my sojourn in the Alhambra I was more than
once visited by the Moor of Tetuan, with whom I took great pleasure in
rambling through the halls and courts, and getting him to explain to me
the Arabic inscriptions. He endeavored to do so faithfully; but, though
he succeeded in giving me the thought, he despaired of imparting an idea
of the grace and beauty of the language. The aroma of the poetry, said
he, is all lost in translation. Enough was imparted, however, to
increase the stock of my delightful associations with this extraordinary
pile. Perhaps there never was a monument more characteristic of an age
and people than the Alhambra; a rugged fortress without, a voluptuous
palace within; war frowning from its battlements; poetry breathing
throughout the fairy architecture of its halls. One is irresistibly
transported in imagination to those times when Moslem Spain was a region
of light amid Christian, yet benighted Europe; externally a warrior
power fighting for existence; internally a realm devoted to literature,
science, and the arts; where philosophy was cultivated with passion,
though wrought up into subtleties and refinements; and where the
luxuries of sense were transcended by those of thought and imagination.

Arab poetry, we are told, arrived at its highest splendor under the
Ommiades of Spain, who for a long time centred the power and splendor of
the western Caliphat at Cordova. Most of the sovereigns of that
brilliant line were themselves poets. One of the last of them was
Mahomed ben Abderahman. He led the life of a sybarite in the famous
palace and gardens of Azahara, surrounding himself with all that could
excite the imagination and delight the senses. His palace was the resort
of poets. His vizier, Ibn Zeydun, was called the Horace of Moslem Spain,
from his exquisite verses, which were recited with enthusiasm even in
the saloons of the Eastern Caliphs. The vizier became passionately
enamored of the princess Walada, daughter of Mahomed. She was the idol
of her father’s court, a poetess of the highest order, and renowned for
beauty as well as talent. If Ibn Zeydun was the Horace of Moslem Spain,
she was its Sappho. The princess became the subject of the vizier’s most
impassioned verses; especially of a famous risáleh or epistle addressed
to her which the historian Ash-Shakandi declares has never been equalled
for tenderness and melancholy. Whether the poet was happy in his love,
the authors I have consulted do not say; but one intimates that the
princess was discreet as she was beautiful, and caused many a lover to
sigh in vain. In fact, the reign of love and poetry in the delicious
abode of Zahara, was soon brought to a close by a popular insurrection.
Mahomed with his family took refuge in the fortress of Ucles, near
Toledo, where he was treacherously poisoned by the Alcayde; and thus
perished one of the last of the Ommiades.

The downfall of that brilliant dynasty, which had concentrated
everything at Cordova, was favorable to the general literature of
Morisco Spain.

“After the breaking of the necklace and the scattering of its pearls,”
says Ash-Shakandi, “the kings of small states divided among themselves
the patrimony of the Beni Ommiah.”

They vied with each other in filling their capitals with poets and
learned men, and rewarded them with boundless prodigality. Such were the
Moorish kings of Seville of the illustrious line of the Beni Abbad,
“with whom,” says the same writer, “resided fruit and palm-trees and
pomegranates; who became the centre of eloquence in prose and verse;
every day of whose reign was a solemn festivity; whose history abounds
in generous actions and heroic deeds, that will last through surrounding
ages and live forever in the memory of man!”

No place, however, profited more in point of civilization and refinement
by the downfall of the Western Caliphat than Granada. It succeeded to
Cordova in splendor, while it surpassed it in romantic beauty of
situation. The amenity of its climate, where the ardent heats of a
southern summer were tempered by breezes from snow-clad mountains; the
voluptuous repose of its valleys and the bosky luxuriance of its groves
and gardens all awakened sensations of delight, and disposed the mind to
love and poetry. Hence the great number of amatory poets that flourished
in Granada. Hence those amorous canticles breathing of love and war, and
wreathing chivalrous grace round the stern exercise of arms. Those
ballads which still form the pride and delight of Spanish literature are
but the echoes of amatory and chivalric lays, which once delighted the
Moslem courts of Andalus; and in which a modern historian of Granada
pretends to find the origin of the _rima Castellana_ and the type of the
“gay science” of the troubadours.[20]

Poetry was cultivated in Granada by both sexes. “Had Allah,” says
Ash-Shakandi, “bestowed no other boon on Granada than that of making it
the birthplace of so many poetesses, that alone would be sufficient for
its glory.”

Among the most famous of these was Hafsah; renowned, says the old
chronicler, for beauty, talents, nobility, and wealth. We have a mere
relic of her poetry in some verses, addressed to her lover, Ahmed,
recalling an evening passed together in the garden of Maumal.

“Allah has given us a happy night, such as he never vouchsafes to the
wicked and the ignoble. We have beheld the cypresses of Maumal gently
bowing their heads before the mountain breeze,--the sweet perfumed
breeze that smelt of gillyflowers; the dove murmured her love among the
trees; the sweet basil inclined its boughs to the limpid brook.”

The garden of Maumal was famous among the Moors for its rivulets, its
fountains, its flowers, and above all, its cypresses. It had its name
from a vizier of Abdallah, grandson of Aben Habuz, and Sultan of
Granada. Under the administration of this vizier many of the noblest
public works were executed. He constructed an aqueduct by which water
was brought from the mountains of Alfacar to irrigate the hills and
orchards north of the city. He planted a public walk with cypress-trees,
and “made delicious gardens for the solace of the melancholy Moors.”
“The name of Maumal,” says Alcántara, “ought to be preserved in Granada
in letters of gold.” Perhaps it is as well preserved by being associated
with the garden he planted; and by being mentioned in the verses of
Hafsah. How often does a casual word from a poet confer immortality!

Perhaps the reader may be curious to learn something of the story of
Hafsah and her lover, thus connected with one of the beautiful
localities of Granada. The following are all the particulars I have been
able to rescue out of the darkness and oblivion which have settled upon
the brightest names and geniuses of Moslem Spain.

Ahmed and Hafsah flourished in the sixth century of the Hegira; the
twelfth of the Christian Era. Ahmed was the son of the Alcayde of Alcala
la Real. His father designed him for public and military life, and would
have made him his lieutenant; but the youth was of a poetical
temperament, and preferred a life of lettered ease in the delightful
abodes of Granada. Here he surrounded himself by objects of taste in the
arts, and by the works of the learned; he divided his time between study
and social enjoyment. He was fond of the sports of the field, and kept
horses, hawks, and hounds. He devoted himself to literature, became
renowned for erudition, and his compositions in prose and verse were
extolled for their beauty, and in the mouths of every one.

Of a tender, susceptible heart, and extremely sensible to female charms,
he became the devoted lover of Hafsah. The passion was mutual, and for
once the course of true love appeared to run smooth. The lovers were
both young, equal in merit, fame, rank, and fortune, enamored of each
other’s genius as well as person, and inhabiting a region formed to be a
realm of love and poetry. A poetical intercourse was carried on between
them that formed the delight of Granada. They were continually
interchanging verses and epistles; “the poetry of which,” says the
Arabian writer, Al Makkari, “was like the language of doves.”

In the height of their happiness a change took place in the government
of Granada. It was the time when the Almohades, a Berber tribe of Mount
Atlas, had acquired the control of Moslem Spain, and removed the seat of
government from Cordova to Morocco. The Sultan Abdelmuman governed Spain
through his Walis and Alcaydes; and his son, Sidi Abu Said, was made
Wali of Granada. He governed in his father’s name with royal state and
splendor, and with despotic sway. Being a stranger in the country, and a
Moor by birth, he sought to strengthen himself by drawing round him
popular persons of the Arab race; and to this effect made Ahmed, who was
then in the zenith of his fame and popularity, his vizier. Ahmed would
have declined the post, but the Wali was peremptory. Its duties were
irksome to him, and he spurned at its restraint. On a hawking-party,
with some of his gay companions, he gave way to his poetic vein,
exulting in his breaking away from the thraldom of a despotic master
like a hawk from the jesses of the falconer, to follow the soaring
impulses of his soul.

His words were repeated to Sidi Abu Said. “Ahmed,” said the informant,
“spurns at restraint and scoffs at thy authority.” The poet was
instantly dismissed from office. The loss of an irksome post was no
grievance to one of his joyous temperament; but he soon discovered the
real cause of his removal. The Wali was his rival. He had seen and
become enamored of Hafsah. What was worse, Hafsah was dazzled with the
conquest she had made.

For a time Ahmed treated the matter with ridicule; and appealed to the
prejudice existing between the Arab and Moorish races. Sidi Abu Said was
of a dark olive complexion. “How canst thou endure that black man?” said
he, scornfully. “By Allah, for twenty dinars I can buy thee a better
than he in the slave-market.”

The scoff reached the ears of Sidi Abu Said and rankled in his heart.

At other times Ahmed gave way to grief and tenderness, recalling past
scenes of happiness, reproaching Hafsah with her inconstancy, and
warning her in despairing accents that she would be the cause of his
death. His words were unheeded. The idea of having the son of the Sultan
for a lover had captivated the imagination of the poetess.

Maddened by jealousy and despair, Ahmed joined in a conspiracy against
the ruling dynasty. It was discovered, and the conspirators fled from
Granada. Some escaped to a castle on the mountains, Ahmed took refuge in
Malaga, where he concealed himself, intending to embark for Valencia. He
was discovered, loaded with chains, and thrown into a dungeon, to abide
the decision of Sidi Abu Said.

He was visited in prison by a nephew, who has left on record an account
of the interview. The youth was moved to tears at seeing his illustrious
relative, late so prosperous and honored, fettered like a malefactor.

“Why dost thou weep?” said Ahmed. “Are these tears shed for me? For me,
who have enjoyed all that the world could give? Weep not for me. I have
had my share of happiness; banqueted on the daintiest fare; quaffed out
of crystal cups; slept on beds of down; been arrayed in the richest
silks and brocades; ridden the fleetest steeds; enjoyed the loves of the
fairest maidens. Weep not for me. My present reverse is but the
inevitable course of fate. I have committed acts which render pardon
hopeless. I must await my punishment.”

His presentiment was correct. The vengeance of Sidi Abu Said was only to
be satisfied by the blood of his rival, and the unfortunate Ahmed was
beheaded at Malaga, in the month Jumadi, in the year 559 of the Hegira
(April, 1164). When the news was brought to the fickle-hearted Hafsah,
she was struck with sorrow and remorse, and put on mourning; recalling
his warning words, and reproaching herself with being the cause of his
death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of the after fortunes of Hafsah I have no further trace than that she
died in Morocco, in 1184, outliving both her lovers, for Sidi Abu Said
died in Morocco of the plague in 1175. A memorial of his residence in
Granada remained in a palace which he built on the banks of the Xenil.
The garden of Maumal, the scene of the early lives of Ahmed and Hafsah,
is no longer in existence. Its site may be found by the antiquary in
poetical research.[21]



AN EXPEDITION IN QUEST OF A DIPLOMA


One of the most important occurrences in the domestic life of the
Alhambra, was the departure of Manuel, the nephew of Doña Antonia, for
Malaga, to stand examination as a physician. I have already informed the
reader that, on his success in obtaining a degree depended in a great
measure the union and future fortunes of himself and his cousin Dolores;
at least so I was privately informed by Mateo Ximenes, and various
circumstances concurred to corroborate his information. Their courtship,
however, was carried on very quietly and discreetly, and I scarce think
I should have discovered it, if I had not been put on the alert by the
all-observant Mateo.

In the present instance, Dolores was less on the reserve, and had busied
herself for several days in fitting out honest Manuel for his
expedition. All his clothes had been arranged and packed in the
neatest order, and above all she had worked a smart Andalusian
travelling-jacket, for him with her own hands. On the morning appointed
for his departure, a stout mule on which he was to perform the journey
was paraded at the portal of the Alhambra, and Tio Polo (Uncle Polo), an
old invalid soldier, attended to caparison him. This veteran was one of
the curiosities of the place. He had a leathern lantern visage, tanned
in the tropics, a long Roman nose, and a black beetle eye. I had
frequently observed him reading, apparently with intense interest, an
old parchment-bound volume; sometimes he would be surrounded by a group
of his brother invalids; some seated on the parapets, some lying on the
grass, listening with fixed attention, while he read slowly and
deliberately out of his favorite work, sometimes pausing to explain or
expound for the benefit of his less enlightened auditors.

I took occasion one day to inform myself of this ancient book, which
appeared to be his _vade mecum_, and found it to be an odd volume of the
works of Padre Benito Geronymo Feyjoo; and that one which treats about
the Magic of Spain, the mysterious caves of Salamanca and Toledo, the
Purgatory of San Patricio (St. Patrick), and other mystic subjects of
the kind. From that time I kept my eye upon the veteran.

On the present occasion I amused myself with watching him fit out the
steed of Manuel with all the forecast of an old campaigner. First he
took a considerable time in adjusting to the back of the mule a cumbrous
saddle of antique fashion, high in front and behind, with Moorish
stirrups like shovels; the whole looking like a relic of the old armory
of the Alhambra; then a fleecy sheep-skin was accommodated to the deep
seat of the saddle; then a maleta, neatly packed by the hand of Dolores,
was buckled behind; then a manta was thrown over it to serve either as
cloak or couch; then the all-important alforjas, carefully stocked with
provant, were hung in front, together with the bota, or leathern bottle
for either wine or water, and lastly the trabucho, which the old soldier
slung behind, giving it his benediction. It was like the fitting out in
old times of a Moorish cavalier for a foray or a joust in the
Vivarrambla. A number of the lazzaroni of the fortress had gathered
round, with some of the invalids, all looking on, all offering their
aid, and all giving advice, to the great annoyance of Tio Polo.

When all was ready Manuel took leave of the household; Tio Polo held his
stirrup while he mounted, adjusted the girths and saddle, and cheered
him off in military style; then turning to Dolores, who stood admiring
her cavalier as he trotted off, “Ah Dolorocita,” exclaimed he, with a
nod and a wink, “_es muy guapo Manuelito in su Xaqueta_,” (Ah Dolores,
Manuel is mighty fine in his jacket.) The little damsel blushed and
laughed, and ran into the house.

Days elapsed without tidings from Manuel, though he had promised to
write. The heart of Dolores began to misgive her. Had anything happened
to him on the road? Had he failed in his examination? A circumstance
occurred in her little household to add to her uneasiness and fill her
mind with foreboding. It was almost equal to the escapado of her pigeon.
Her tortoise-shell cat eloped at night and clambered to the tiled roof
of the Alhambra. In the dead of the night there was a fearful
caterwauling; some grimalkin was uncivil to her; then there was a
scramble; then a clapper-clawing; then both parties rolled off the roof
and tumbled from a great height among the trees on the hill-side.
Nothing more was seen or heard of the fugitive, and poor Dolores
considered it but the prelude to greater calamities.

At the end of ten days, however, Manuel returned in triumph, duly
authorized to kill or cure; and all Dolores’ cares were over. There was
a general gathering in the evening of the humble friends and hangers-on
of Dame Antonio to congratulate her and to pay their respects to _el
Señor Medico_, who, peradventure, at some future day, might have all
their lives in his hands. One of the most important of these guests was
old Tio Polo; and I gladly seized the occasion to prosecute my
acquaintance with him. “Oh Señor,” cried Dolores, “you who are so eager
to learn all the old histories of the Alhambra, Tio Polo knows more
about them than any one else about the place. More than Mateo Ximenes
and his whole family put together.” _Vaya_--_Vaya_--Tio Polo, tell the
Señor all those stories you told us one evening, about enchanted Moors,
and the haunted bridge over the Darro, and the old stone pomegranates,
that have been there since the days of King Chico.

It was some time before the old invalid could be brought into a
narrative vein. He shook his head--they were all idle tales; not worthy
of being told to a cavallero like myself. It was only by telling some
stories of the kind myself I at last got him to open his budget. It was
a whimsical farrago, partly made up of what he had heard in the
Alhambra, partly of what he had read in Padre Feyjoo. I will endeavor to
give the reader the substance of it, but I will not promise to give it
in the very words of Tio Polo.



THE LEGEND OF THE ENCHANTED SOLDIER


Everybody has heard of the Cave of St. Cyprian at Salamanca, where in
old times judicial astronomy, necromancy, chiromancy, and other dark and
damnable arts were secretly taught by an ancient sacristan; or, as some
will have it, by the devil himself, in that disguise. The cave has long
been shut up and the very site of it forgotten; though, according to
tradition, the entrance was somewhere about where the stone cross stands
in the small square of the seminary of Carvajal; and this tradition
appears in some degree corroborated by the circumstances of the
following story.

There was at one time a student of Salamanca, Don Vicente by name, of
that merry but mendicant class, who set out on the road to learning
without a penny in pouch for the journey, and who, during college
vacations, beg from town to town and village to village to raise funds
to enable them to pursue their studies through the ensuing term. He was
now about to set forth on his wanderings; and being somewhat musical,
slung on his back a guitar with which to amuse the villagers, and pay
for a meal or a night’s lodgings.

As he passed by the stone cross in the seminary square, he pulled off
his hat and made a short invocation to St. Cyprian, for good luck; when
casting his eyes upon the earth, he perceived something glitter at the
foot of the cross. On picking it up, it proved to be a seal-ring of
mixed metal, in which gold and silver appeared to be blended. The seal
bore as a device two triangles crossing each other, so as to form a
star. This device is said to be a cabalistic sign, invented by King
Solomon the Wise, and of mighty power in all cases of enchantment; but
the honest student, being neither sage nor conjurer, knew nothing of the
matter. He took the ring as a present from St. Cyprian in reward of his
prayer; slipped it on his finger, made a bow to the cross, and strumming
his guitar, set off merrily on his wandering.

The life of a mendicant student in Spain is not the most miserable in
the world; especially if he has any talent at making himself agreeable.
He rambles at large from village to village, and city to city,
where-ever curiosity or caprice may conduct him. The country curates,
who, for the most part, have been mendicant students in their time, give
him shelter for the night, and a comfortable meal, and often enrich him
with several quartos, or halfpence in the morning. As he presents
himself from door to door in the streets of the cities, he meets with no
harsh rebuff, no chilling contempt, for there is no disgrace attending
his mendicity, many of the most learned men in Spain having commenced
their career in this manner; but if, like the student in question, he is
a good-looking varlet and a merry companion; and, above all, if he can
play the guitar, he is sure of a hearty welcome among the peasants, and
smiles and favors from their wives and daughters.

In this way, then, did our ragged and musical son of learning make his
way over half the kingdom; with the fixed determination to visit the
famous city of Granada before his return. Sometimes he was gathered for
the night into the fold of some village pastor; sometimes he was
sheltered under the humble but hospitable roof of the peasant. Seated at
the cottage-door with his guitar, he delighted the simple folk with his
ditties; or striking up a fandango or bolero, set the brown country lads
and lasses dancing in the mellow twilight. In the morning he departed
with kind words from host and hostess, and kind looks and, peradventure,
a squeeze of the hand from the daughter.

At length he arrived at the great object of his musical vagabondizing,
the far-famed city of Granada, and hailed with wonder and delight its
Moorish towers, its lovely Vega, and its snowy mountains glistening
through a summer atmosphere. It is needless to say with what eager
curiosity he entered its gates and wandered through its streets, and
gazed upon its Oriental monuments. Every female face peering through a
window or beaming from a balcony was to him a Zorayda or a Zelinda, nor
could he meet a stately dame on the Alameda but he was ready to fancy
her a Moorish princess, and to spread his student’s robe beneath her
feet.

His musical talent, his happy humor, his youth and his good looks, won
him a universal welcome in spite of his ragged robes, and for several
days he led a gay life in the old Moorish capital and its environs. One
of his occasional haunts was the fountain of Avellanos, in the valley of
Darro. It is one of the popular resorts of Granada, and has been so
since the days of the Moors; and here the student had an opportunity of
pursuing his studies of female beauty; a branch of study to which he was
a little prone.

Here he would take his seat with his guitar, improvise love-ditties to
admiring groups of majos and majas, or prompt with his music the
ever-ready dance. He was thus engaged one evening when he beheld a padre
of the church advancing, at whose approach every one touched the hat. He
was evidently a man of consequence; he certainly was a mirror of good if
not of holy living; robust and rosy-faced, and breathing at every pore
with the warmth of the weather and the exercise of the walk. As he
passed along he would every now and then draw a maravedi out of his
pocket and bestow it on a beggar, with an air of signal beneficence.
“Ah, the blessed father!” would be the cry; “long life to him, and may
he soon be a bishop!”

To aid his steps in ascending the hill he leaned gently now and then on
the arm of a handmaid, evidently the pet-lamb of this kindest of
pastors. Ah, such a damsel! Andalus from head to foot; from the rose in
her hair, to the fairy shoe and lacework stocking; Andalus in every
movement; in every undulation of the body:--ripe, melting Andalus!--But
then so modest!--so shy!--ever, with downcast eyes, listening to the
words of the padre; or, if by chance she let flash a side-glance, it was
suddenly checked and her eyes once more cast to the ground.

The good padre looked benignantly on the company about the fountain, and
took his seat with some emphasis on a stone bench, while the handmaid
hastened to bring him a glass of sparkling water. He sipped it
deliberately and with a relish, tempering it with one of those spongy
pieces of frosted eggs and sugar so dear to Spanish epicures, and on
returning the glass to the hand of the damsel pinched her cheek with
infinite loving-kindness.

“Ah, the good pastor!” whispered the student to himself; “what a
happiness would it be to be gathered into his fold with such a pet-lamb
for a companion.”

But no such good fare was likely to befall him. In vain he essayed those
powers of pleasing which he had found so irresistible with country
curates and country lasses. Never had he touched his guitar with such
skill; never had he poured forth more soul-moving ditties, but he had no
longer a country curate or country lass to deal with. The worthy priest
evidently did not relish music, and the modest damsel never raised her
eyes from the ground. They remained but a short time at the fountain;
the good padre hastened their return to Granada. The damsel gave the
student one shy glance in retiring; but it plucked the heart out of his
bosom!

He inquired about them after they had gone. Padre Tomás was one of the
saints of Granada, a model of regularity; punctual in his hour of
rising; his hour of taking a paseo for an appetite; his hours of eating;
his hour of taking his siesta; his hour of playing his game of tresillo,
of an evening, with some of the dames of the Cathedral circle; his hour
of supping, and his hour of retiring to rest, to gather fresh strength
for another day’s round of similar duties. He had an easy sleek mule for
his riding; a matronly housekeeper skilled in preparing tit-bits for his
table; and the pet-lamb, to smooth his pillow at night and bring him his
chocolate in the morning.

Adieu now to the gay, thoughtless life of the student; the side-glance
of a bright eye had been the undoing of him. Day and night he could not
get the image of this most modest damsel out of his mind. He sought the
mansion of the padre. Alas! it was above the class of houses accessible
to a strolling student like himself. The worthy padre had no sympathy
with him; he had never been _Estudiante sopista_, obliged to sing for
his supper. He blockaded the house by day, catching a glance of the
damsel now and then as she appeared at a casement; but these glances
only fed his flame without encouraging his hope. He serenaded her
balcony at night, and at one time was flattered by the appearance of
something white at a window. Alas, it was only the night-cap of the
padre.

Never was lover more devoted; never damsel more shy: the poor student
was reduced to despair. At length arrived the eve of St. John, when the
lower classes of Granada swarm into the country, dance away the
afternoon, and pass midsummer’s night on the banks of the Darro and the
Xenil. Happy are they who on this eventful night can wash their faces in
those waters just as the Cathedral bell tells midnight; for at that
precise moment they have a beautifying power. The student, having
nothing to do, suffered himself to be carried away by the
holiday-seeking throng until he found himself in the narrow valley of
the Darro, below the lofty hill and ruddy towers of the Alhambra. The
dry bed of the river; the rocks which border it; the terraced gardens
which overhang it were alive with variegated groups, dancing under the
vines and fig-trees to the sound of the guitar and castanets.

The student remained for some time in doleful dumps, leaning against one
of the huge misshapen stone pomegranates which adorn the ends of the
little bridge over the Darro. He cast a wistful glance upon the merry
scene, where every cavalier had his dame; or, to speak more
appropriately, every Jack his Jill; sighed at his own solitary state, a
victim to the black eye of the most unapproachable of damsels, and
repined at his ragged garb, which seemed to shut the gate of hope
against him.

By degrees his attention was attracted to a neighbor equally solitary
with himself. This was a tall soldier, of a stern aspect and grizzled
beard, who seemed posted as a sentry at the opposite pomegranate. His
face was bronzed by time; he was arrayed in ancient Spanish armor, with
buckler and lance, and stood immovable as a statue. What surprised the
student was, that though thus strangely equipped, he was totally
unnoticed by the passing throng, albeit that many almost brushed against
him.

“This is a city of old time peculiarities,” thought the student, “and
doubtless this is one of them with which the inhabitants are too
familiar to be surprised.” His own curiosity, however, was awakened, and
being of a social disposition, he accosted the soldier.

“A rare old suit of armor that which you wear, comrade. May I ask what
corps you belong to?”

The soldier gasped out a reply from a pair of jaws which seemed to have
rusted on their hinges.

“The royal guard of Ferdinand and Isabella.”

“Santa Maria! Why, it is three centuries since that corps was in
service.”

“And for three centuries have I been mounting guard. Now I trust my tour
of duty draws to a close. Dost thou desire fortune?”

The student held up his tattered cloak in reply.

“I understand thee. If thou hast faith and courage, follow me, and thy
fortune is made.”

“Softly, comrade, to follow thee would require small courage in one who
has nothing to lose but life and an old guitar, neither of much value;
but my faith is of a different matter, and not to be put in temptation.
If it be any criminal act by which I am to mend my fortune, think not my
ragged cloak will make me undertake it.”

The soldier turned on him a look of high displeasure. “My sword,” said
he, “has never been drawn but in the cause of the faith and the throne.
I am a _Cristiano viejo_; trust in me and fear no evil.”

The student followed him wondering. He observed that no one heeded their
conversation, and that the soldier made his way through the various
groups of idlers unnoticed, as if invisible.

Crossing the bridge, the soldier led the way by a narrow and steep path
past a Moorish mill and aqueduct, and up the ravine which separates the
domains of the Generalife from those of the Alhambra. The last ray of
the sun shone upon the red battlements of the latter, which beetled far
above; and the convent-bells were proclaiming the festival of the
ensuing day. The ravine was overshadowed by fig-trees, vines, and
myrtles, and the outer towers and walls of the fortress. It was dark and
lonely, and the twilight-loving bats began to flit about. At length the
soldier halted at a remote and ruined tower, apparently intended to
guard a Moorish aqueduct. He struck the foundation with the but-end of
his spear. A rumbling sound was heard, and the solid stones yawned
apart, leaving an opening as wide as a door.

“Enter in the name of the Holy Trinity,” said the soldier, “and fear
nothing.” The student’s heart quaked, but he made the sign of the cross,
muttered his Ave Maria, and followed his mysterious guide into a deep
vault cut out of the solid rock under the tower, and covered with Arabic
inscriptions. The soldier pointed to a stone seat hewn along one side of
the vault. “Behold,” said he, “my couch for three hundred years.” The
bewildered student tried to force a joke. “By the blessed St. Anthony,”
said he, “but you must have slept soundly, considering the hardness of
your couch.”

“On the contrary, sleep has been a stranger to these eyes; incessant
watchfulness has been my doom. Listen to my lot. I was one of the royal
guards of Ferdinand and Isabella; but was taken prisoner by the Moors in
one of their sorties, and confined a captive in this tower. When
preparations were made to surrender the fortress to the Christian
sovereigns, I was prevailed upon by an Alfaqui, a Moorish priest, to aid
him in secreting some of the treasures of Boabdil in this vault. I was
justly punished for my fault. The Alfaqui was an African necromancer,
and by his infernal arts cast a spell upon me--to guard his treasures.
Something must have happened to him, for he never returned, and here
have I remained ever since, buried alive. Years and years have rolled
away; earthquakes have shaken this hill; I have heard stone by stone of
the tower above tumbling to the ground, in the natural operation of
time; but the spell-bound walls of this vault set both time and
earthquakes at defiance.

“Once every hundred years, on the festival of St. John, the enchantment
ceases to have thorough sway; I am permitted to go forth and post myself
upon the bridge of the Darro, where you met me, waiting until some one
shall arrive who may have power to break this magic spell. I have
hitherto mounted guard there in vain. I walk as in a cloud, concealed
from mortal sight. You are the first to accost me for now three hundred
years. I behold the reason. I see on your finger the seal-ring of
Solomon the Wise, which is proof against all enchantment. With you it
remains to deliver me from this awful dungeon, or to leave me to keep
guard here for another hundred years.”

The student listened to this tale in mute wonderment. He had heard many
tales of treasures shut up under strong enchantment in the vaults of the
Alhambra, but had treated them as fables. He now felt the value of the
seal-ring, which had, in a manner, been given to him by St. Cyprian.
Still, though armed by so potent a talisman, it was an awful thing to
find himself _tête-à-tête_ in such a place with an enchanted soldier,
who, according to the laws of nature, ought to have been quietly in his
grave for nearly three centuries.

A personage of this kind, however, was quite out of the ordinary run,
and not to be trifled with, and he assured him he might rely upon his
friendship and good will to do everything in his power for his
deliverance.

“I trust to a motive more powerful than friendship,” said the soldier.

He pointed to a ponderous iron coffer, secured by locks inscribed with
Arabic characters. “That coffer,” said he, “contains countless treasure
in gold and jewels and precious stones. Break the magic spell by which I
am enthralled, and one half of this treasure shall be thine.”

“But how am I to do it?”

“The aid of a Christian priest and a Christian maid is necessary. The
priest to exorcise the powers of darkness; the damsel to touch this
chest with the seal of Solomon. This must be done at night. But have a
care. This is solemn work, and not to be effected by the carnal-minded.
The priest must be a _Cristiano viejo_, a model of sanctity; and must
mortify the flesh before he comes here, by a rigorous fast of
four-and-twenty hours: and as to the maiden, she must be above reproach,
and proof against temptation. Linger not in finding such aid. In three
days my furlough is at an end; if not delivered before midnight of the
third, I shall have to mount guard for another century.”

“Fear not,” said the student, “I have in my eye the very priest and
damsel you describe; but how am I to regain admission to this tower?”

“The seal of Solomon will open the way for thee.”

The student issued forth from the tower much more gayly than he had
entered. The wall closed behind him, and remained solid as before.

The next morning he repaired boldly to the mansion of the priest, no
longer a poor strolling student, thrumming his way with a guitar; but an
ambassador from the shadowy world, with enchanted treasures to bestow.
No particulars are told of his negotiation, excepting that the zeal of
the worthy priest was easily kindled at the idea of rescuing an old
soldier of the faith and a strong box of King Chico from the very
clutches of Satan; and then what alms might be dispensed, what churches
built, and how many poor relatives enriched with the Moorish treasure!

As to the immaculate handmaid, she was ready to lend her hand, which was
all that was required, to the pious work; and if a shy glance now and
then might be believed, the ambassador began to find favor in her modest
eyes.

The greatest difficulty, however, was the fast to which the good padre
had to subject himself. Twice he attempted it, and twice the flesh was
too strong for the spirit. It was only on the third day that he was
enabled to withstand the temptations of the cupboard; but it was still a
question whether he would hold out until the spell was broken.

At a late hour of the night the party groped their way up the ravine by
the light of a lantern, and bearing a basket with provisions for
exorcising the demon of hunger so soon as the other demons should be
laid in the Red Sea.

The seal of Solomon opened their way into the tower. They found the
soldier seated on the enchanted strong box, awaiting their arrival. The
exorcism was performed in due style. The damsel advanced and touched the
locks of the coffer with the seal of Solomon. The lid flew open; and
such treasures of gold and jewels and precious stones as flashed upon
the eye!

“Here’s cut and come again!” cried the student, exultingly, as he
proceeded to cram his pockets.

“Fairly and softly,” exclaimed the soldier. “Let us get the coffer out
entire, and then divide.”

They accordingly went to work with might and main; but it was a
difficult task; the chest was enormously heavy, and had been embedded
there for centuries. While they were thus employed the good dominie drew
on one side and made a vigorous onslaught on the basket, by way of
exorcising the demon of hunger which was raging in his entrails. In a
little while a fat capon was devoured, and washed down by a deep
potation of Val de peñas; and, by way of grace after meat, he gave a
kind-hearted kiss to the pet-lamb who waited on him. It was quietly done
in a corner, but the tell-tale walls babbled it forth as if in triumph.
Never was chaste salute more awful in its effects. At the sound the
soldier gave a great cry of despair; the coffer, which was half raised,
fell back in its place and was locked once more. Priest, student, and
damsel found themselves outside of the tower, the wall of which closed
with a thundering jar. Alas! the good padre had broken his fast too
soon!

When recovered from his surprise, the student would have reëntered the
tower, but learnt to his dismay that the damsel, in her fright, had let
fall the seal of Solomon; it remained within the vault.

In a word, the cathedral-bell tolled midnight; the spell was renewed;
the soldier was doomed to mount guard for another hundred years, and
there he and the treasure remain to this day--and all because the
kind-hearted padre kissed his housemaid. “Ah father! father!” said the
student, shaking his head ruefully, as they returned down the ravine, “I
fear there was less of the saint than the sinner in that kiss!”

Thus ends the legend as far as it has been authenticated. There is a
tradition, however, that the student had brought off treasure enough in
his pocket to set him up in the world; that he prospered in his affairs,
that the worthy padre gave him the pet-lamb in marriage, by way of
amends for the blunder in the vault; that the immaculate damsel proved a
pattern for wives as she had been for handmaids, and bore her husband a
numerous progeny; that the first was a wonder; it was born seven months
after her marriage, and though a seven-months’ boy, was the sturdiest of
the flock. The rest were all born in the ordinary course of time.

The story of the enchanted soldier remains one of the popular traditions
of Granada, though told in a variety of ways; the common people affirm
that he still mounts guard on mid-summer eve, beside the gigantic stone
pomegranate on the Bridge of the Darro; but remains invisible excepting
to such lucky mortal as may possess the seal of Solomon.


     NOTES TO THE ENCHANTED SOLDIER

     Among the ancient superstitions of Spain, were those of the
     existence of profound caverns in which the magic arts were taught,
     either by the devil in person, or some sage devoted to his service.
     One of the most famous of these caves was at Salamanca. Don
     Francisco de Torreblanca makes mention of it in the first book of
     his work on magic, C. 2, No. 4. The devil was said to play the part
     of Oracle there; giving replies to those who repaired thither to
     propound fateful questions, as in the celebrated cave of
     Trophonius. Don Francisco, though he records this story, does not
     put faith in it: he gives it however as certain, that a Sacristan,
     named Clement Potosi, taught secretly the magic arts in that cave.
     Padre Feyjoo, who inquired into the matter, reports it as a vulgar
     belief, that the devil himself taught those arts there; admitting
     only seven disciples at a time, one of whom, to be determined by
     lot, was to be devoted to him body and soul forever. Among one of
     these sets of students was a young man, son of the Marquis de
     Villena, on whom, after having accomplished his studies, the lot
     fell. He succeeded, however, in cheating the devil, leaving him his
     shadow instead of his body.

     Don Juan de Dios, Professor of Humanities in the University, in the
     early part of the last century, gives the following version of the
     story, extracted, as he says, from an ancient manuscript. It will
     be perceived he has marred the supernatural part of the tale, and
     ejected the devil from it altogether.

     As to the fable of the Cave of San Cyprian, says he, all that we
     have been able to verify is, that where the stone cross stands, in
     the small square or place called by the name of the Seminary of
     Carvajal, there was the parochial church of San Cyprian. A descent
     of twenty steps led down to a subterranean Sacristy, spacious and
     vaulted like a cave. Here a Sacristan once taught magic, judicial
     astrology, geomancy, hydromancy, pyromancy, acromancy, chiromancy,
     necromancy, &c.

     The extract goes on to state that seven students engaged at a time
     with the Sacristan, at a fixed stipend. Lots were cast among them
     which one of their number should pay for the whole, with the
     understanding that he on whom the lot fell, if he did not pay
     promptly, should be detained in a chamber of the Sacristy until the
     funds were forthcoming. This became thenceforth the usual practice.

     On one occasion the lot fell on Henry de Villena, son of the
     marquis of the same name. He having perceived that there had been
     trick and shuffling in the casting of the lot, and suspecting the
     Sacristan to be cognizant thereof, refused to pay. He was forthwith
     left in limbo. It so happened, that in a dark corner of the
     Sacristy was a huge jar or earthen reservoir for water, which was
     cracked and empty. In this the youth contrived to conceal himself.
     The Sacristan returned at night with a servant, bringing lights and
     a supper. Unlocking the door, they found no one in the vault, and a
     book of magic lying open on the table. They retreated in dismay,
     leaving the door open, by which Villena made his escape. The story
     went about that through magic he had made himself invisible.--The
     reader has now both versions of the story, and may make his choice.
     I will only observe that the sages of the Alhambra incline to the
     diabolical one.

     This Henry de Villena flourished in the time of Juan II., King of
     Castile, of whom he was uncle. He became famous for his knowledge
     of the Natural Sciences; and hence, in that ignorant age was
     stigmatized as a necromancer. Fernan Perez de Guzman, in his
     account of distinguished men, gives him credit for great learning,
     but says he devoted himself to the arts of divination, the
     interpretation of dreams, of signs, and portents.

     At the death of Villena, his library fell into the hands of the
     King, who was warned that it contained books treating of magic, and
     not proper to be read. King Juan ordered that they should be
     transported in carts to the residence of a reverend prelate to be
     examined. The prelate was less learned than devout. Some of the
     books treated of mathematics, others of astronomy, with figures and
     diagrams, and planetary signs; others of chemistry or alchemy, with
     foreign and mystic words. All these were necromancy in the eyes of
     the pious prelate, and the books were consigned to the flames, like
     the library of Don Quixote.

     THE SEAL OF SOLOMON.--The device consists of two equilateral
     triangles, interlaced so as to form a star, and surrounded by a
     circle. According to Arab tradition, when the Most High gave
     Solomon the choice of blessings, and he chose wisdom, there came
     from heaven a ring, on which this device was engraven. This mystic
     talisman was the arcanum of his wisdom, felicity, and grandeur, by
     this he governed and prospered. In consequence of a temporary lapse
     from virtue he lost the ring in the sea, and was at once reduced to
     the level of ordinary men. By penitence and prayer he made his
     peace with the Deity, was permitted to find his ring again in the
     belly of a fish, and thus recovered his celestial gifts. That he
     might not utterly lose them again, he communicated to others the
     secret of the marvellous ring.

     This symbolical seal we are told was sacrilegiously used by the
     Mahometan infidels; and before them by the Arabian idolaters, and
     before them by the Hebrews, for “diabolical enterprises and
     abominable superstitions.” Those who wish to be more thoroughly
     informed on the subject, will do well to consult the learned Father
     Athanasius Kirker’s treatise on the _Cabala Sarracenica_.

            *       *       *       *       *

     A word more to the curious reader. There are many persons in these
     skeptical times who affect to deride everything connected with the
     occult sciences, or black art; who have no faith in the efficacy of
     conjurations, incantations, or divinations; and who stoutly contend
     that such things never had existence. To such determined
     unbelievers the testimony of past ages is as nothing; they require
     the evidence of their own senses, and deny that such arts and
     practices have prevailed in days of yore, simply because they meet
     with no instance of them in the present day. They cannot perceive
     that, as the world became versed in the natural sciences, the
     supernatural became superfluous and fell into disuse; and that the
     hardy inventions of art superseded the mysteries of man. Still, say
     the enlightened few, those mystic powers exist, though in a latent
     state, and untasked by the ingenuity of man. A talisman is still a
     talisman, possessing all its indwelling and awful properties;
     though it may have lain dormant for ages at the bottom of the sea,
     or in the dusty cabinet of the antiquary.

     The signet of Solomon the Wise, for instance, is well known to have
     held potent control over genii, demons, and enchantments; now who
     will positively assert that the same mystic signet, wherever it may
     exist, does not at the present moment possess the same marvellous
     virtues which distinguished it in the olden time? Let those who
     doubt repair to Salamanca, delve into the cave of San Cyprian,
     explore its hidden secrets, and decide. As to those who will not be
     at the pains of such investigation, let them substitute faith for
     incredulity, and receive with honest credence the foregoing legend.



THE AUTHOR’S FAREWELL TO GRANADA


My serene and happy reign in the Alhambra was suddenly brought to a
close by letters which reached me, while indulging in Oriental luxury in
the cool hall of the baths, summoning me away from my Moslem elysium, to
mingle once more in the bustle and business of the dusty world. How was
I to encounter its toils and turmoils, after such a life of repose and
reverie! How was I to endure its commonplace, after the poetry of the
Alhambra!

But little preparation was necessary for my departure. A two-wheeled
vehicle, called a tartana, very much resembling a covered cart, was to
be the travelling equipage of a young Englishman and myself through
Murcia, to Alicant and Valencia, on our way to France; and a long-limbed
varlet, who had been a contrabandista, and, for aught I knew, a robber,
was to be our guide and guard. The preparations were soon made, but the
departure was the difficulty. Day after day was it postponed; day after
day was spent in lingering about my favorite haunts, and day after day
they appeared more delightful in my eyes.

The social and domestic little world also, in which I had been moving,
had become singularly endeared to me; and the concern evinced by them at
my intended departure, convinced me that my kind feelings were
reciprocated. Indeed, when at length the day arrived, I did not dare
venture upon a leave-taking at the good Dame Antonia’s; I saw the soft
heart of little Dolores, at least, was brim full and ready for an
overflow. So I bade a silent adieu to the palace and its inmates, and
descended into the city as if intending to return. There, however, the
tartana and the guide were ready; so, after taking a noonday’s repast
with my fellow-traveller at the Posada, I set out with him on our
journey.

Humble was the cortege and melancholy the departure of El Rey Chico the
second! Manuel, the nephew of Tia Antonia, Mateo, my officious but now
disconsolate squire, and two or three old invalids of the Alhambra with
whom I had grown into gossiping companionship, had come down to see me
off; for it is one of the good old customs of Spain, to sally forth
several miles to meet a coming friend, and to accompany him as far on
his departure. Thus then we set out, our long-legged guard striding
ahead, with his escopeta on his shoulder; Manuel and Mateo on each side
of the tartana, and the old invalids behind.

At some little distance to the north of Granada, the road gradually
ascends the hills; here I alighted and walked up slowly with Manuel, who
took this occasion to confide to me the secret of his heart and of all
those tender concerns between himself and Dolores, with which I had been
already informed by the all-knowing and all-revealing Mateo Ximenes. His
doctor’s diploma had prepared the way for their union, and nothing more
was wanting but the dispensation of the Pope, on account of their
consanguinity. Then, if he could get the post of Medico of the fortress,
his happiness would be complete! I congratulated him on the judgment and
good taste he had shown in his choice of a helpmate; invoked all
possible felicity on their union, and trusted that the abundant
affections of the kind-hearted little Dolores would in time have more
stable objects to occupy them than recreant cats and truant pigeons.

It was indeed a sorrowful parting when I took leave of these good people
and saw them slowly descend the hills; now and then turning round to
wave me a last adieu. Manuel, it is true, had cheerful prospects to
console him, but poor Mateo seemed perfectly cast down. It was to him a
grievous fall from the station of prime minister and historiographer, to
his old brown cloak and his starveling mystery of ribbon-weaving; and
the poor devil, notwithstanding his occasional officiousness, had,
somehow or other, acquired a stronger hold on my sympathies than I was
aware of. It would have really been a consolation in parting, could I
have anticipated the good fortune in store for him, and to which I had
contributed; for the importance I had appeared to give to his tales and
gossip and local knowledge, and the frequent companionship in which I
had indulged him in the course of my strolls, had elevated his idea of
his own qualifications and opened a new career to him; and the son of
the Alhambra has since become its regular and well-paid cicerone;
insomuch that I am told he has never been obliged to resume the ragged
old brown cloak in which I first found him.

Towards sunset I came to where the road wound into the mountains, and
here I paused to take a last look at Granada. The hill on which I stood
commanded a glorious view of the city, the Vega, and the surrounding
mountains. It was at an opposite point of the compass from _La cuesta de
las lagrimas_ (the hill of tears) noted for the “last sigh of the Moor.”
I now could realize something of the feelings of poor Boabdil when he
bade adieu to the paradise he was leaving behind, and beheld before him
a rugged and sterile road conducting him to exile.

The setting sun as usual shed a melancholy effulgence on the ruddy
towers of the Alhambra. I could faintly discern the balconied window of
the Tower of Comares, where I had indulged in so many delightful
reveries. The bosky groves and gardens about the city were richly
gilded with the sunshine, the purple haze of a summer evening was
gathering over the Vega; everything was lovely, but tenderly and sadly
so, to my parting gaze.

“I will hasten from this prospect,” thought I, “before the sun is set. I
will carry away a recollection of it clothed in all its beauty.”

With these thoughts I pursued my way among the mountains. A little
further and Granada, the Vega, and the Alhambra were shut from my view;
and thus ended one of the pleasantest dreams of a life, which the reader
perhaps may think has been but too much made up of dreams.

                                THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

                              FOOTNOTES:

 [1] NOTE TO THE REVISED EDITION.--The Author feels at liberty
 to mention that his travelling companion was the Prince Dolgorouki, at
 present Russian minister at the Court of Persia.

 [2] It may be as well to note here, that the alforjas are square
 pockets at each end of a long cloth about a foot and a half wide,
 formed by turning up its extremities. The cloth is then thrown over
 the saddle, and the pockets hang on each side like saddle-bags.
 It is an Arab invention. The bota is a leathern bag or bottle, of
 portly dimensions, with a narrow neck. It is also Oriental. Hence the
 scriptural caution, which perplexed me in my boyhood, not to put new
 wine into old bottles.

 [3] See Urquhart’s _Pillars of Hercules_, B. III. C. 8.

 [4] Urquhart’s _Pillars of Hercules_.

 [5] Et porque era muy rubio llamaban lo los Moros Abenalhamar, que
 quiere decir bermejo ... et porque los Moros le llamaban Benalhamar
 que quiere decir bermejo tomo los señales bermejos, segun que los
 ovieron despues los Reyes de Granada.--BLEDA, _Cronica de
 Alfonso XI._, P. I. C. 44.

 [6] “Y los moros que estaban en la villa y Castillo de Gibraltar
 despues que sopieron que el Rey Don Alonzo era muerto, ordenaron
 entresi que ninguno non fuesse osado de fazer ningun movimiento contra
 los Christianos, ni mover pelear contra ellos, estovieron todos quedos
 y dezian entre ellos qui aquel diamuriera un noble rey y Gran principe
 del mundo.”

 [7] Una de las cosas en que tienen precisa intervencion los Reyes
 Moros as en el matrimonio de sus grandes: de aqui nace que todos los
 señores llegadas à la persona real si casan en palacio, y siempre huvo
 su quarto destinado para esta ceremonia.

 One of the things in which the Moorish kings interfered was in the
 marriage of their nobles: hence it came that all the señors attached
 to the royal person were married in the palace; and there was always a
 chamber destined for the ceremony.--_Paseos por Granada_, Paseo XXI.

 [8] Alcántara, _Hist. Granad._, O. 3, p. 226, note.

 [9] Salazar y Castro, _Hist. Genealog. de la Casa de Lara_, lib. v. c.
 12, cited by Alcántara in his _Hist. Granad._

 [10] Al Makkari, B. VIII. c. 7.

 [11] Alcántara, _Hist. Granad._, c. 17. See also Al Makkari, _Hist.
 Mohama. Dynasties_, B. VIII. c. 7, with the Commentaries of Don
 Pascual de Guyangos.

 [12] For authorities for these latter facts, see the Appendix to the
 author’s revised edition of the _Conquest of Granada_.

 [13] Ay una puerta en la Alhambra por la qual salio Chico Rey de los
 Moros, quando si rindio prisionero al Rey de España D. Fernando, y
 le entregó la ciudad con el castillo. Pidio esta principe como por
 merced, y en memoria de tan importante conquista, al que quedasse
 siempre cerrada esta puerta. Consintio en allo el Rey Fernando, y des
 de aquel tiempo no solamente no se abrio la puerta sino tambien se
 construyo junto à ella fuerte bastion.--MORERI’S _Historical
 Dictionary_, Spanish Edition, Vol. I. p. 372.

 [14] The minor details of the surrender of Granada have been stated
 in different ways even by eye-witnesses. The author, in his revised
 edition of the _Conquest_, has endeavored to adjust them according to
 the latest and apparently best authorities.

 [15] See a more detailed account of the exploit in the chronicle of
 the _Conquest of Granada_.

 [16] Marmol, _Hist. Rebellion of the Moors._

 [17] Lest this should be deemed a mere stretch of fancy, the reader
 is referred to the following genealogy, derived by the historian
 Alcántara, from an Arabian manuscript, on parchment, in the
 archives of the Marquis of Corvera. It is a specimen of the curious
 affinities between Christians and Moslems, produced by capture and
 intermarriages, during the Moorish wars. From Aben Hud, the Moorish
 king, the conqueror of the Almohades, was descended in right line Cid
 Yahia Abraham Alnagar, prince of Almeria, who married a daughter of
 King Bermejo. They had three children, commonly called the Cetimerian
 Princes. 1st. _Jusef ben Alhamar_, who for a time usurped the throne
 of Granada. 2d. The Prince _Nasar_, who married the celebrated
 Lindaraxa. 3d. The _Princess Cetimerien_, who married Don Pedro
 Venegas captured by the Moors in his boyhood, a younger son of the
 _House of Luque_, of which house the old court was the present head.

 [18] The reader will recognize the sovereign connected with the
 fortunes of the Abencerrages. His story appears to be a little
 fictionized in the legend.

 [19] Torres. Hist. Ord. Alcántara. “Cron. Enrique III.” por Pedro
 Lopez de Ayala.

 [20] Miguel Lafuente Alcántara.

 [21] The authorities for the foregoing: Alcántara, Hist. Granada;
 Al Makkari, Hist. Mohamed; Dynasties in Spain, B. ii. c. 3; Notes
 and illustrations of the same, by Gayangos, Vol. I. p. 440; Ibnu Al
 Kahttib, Biograph. Dic., cited by Gayangos; Conde, Hist. Dom. Arab.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

Perdon usted por Dios hermano=> Perdón usted por Dios hermano {pg 22}

Garcilasso de la Vega=> Garcilaso de la Vega {pg 170}

de los siéte suelos=> de los siete suelos {pg 205}

What wil become of us=> What will become of us {pg 219}

that the stongest bolts=> that the strongest bolts {pg 225}

basquina all trimmed with gold=> basquiña all trimmed with gold {pg
230}

one of the evening tertullias=> one of the evening tertulias {pg 262}

would ocasionally strut backwards=> would occasionally strut backwards
{pg 282}

the Guadarama mountains=> the Guadarama mountains {pg 294}

there began to to be doubts=> there began to be doubts {pg 303}

[8] Alcantara=> [8] Alcántara

[9] Alcantara=> [9] Alcántara

[11] Alcantara=> [11] Alcántara

[17] derived by the historian Alcantara=> [17] derived by the
historian Alcantára

[20] Miguel Lafuente Alcantara.=> [20] Miguel Lafuente Alcántara.





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