« ElőzőTovább »
the battlements; while in the rear came
where the women, half dead with terror, him he is without the shelter of the
were assembled. woodworks.” - “Food I" cried he, “food and wine it. Twenty shafts, from wearied and nervemay be our last banquet.” less arms, fell innocous round the form
His wife threw her arms around him, of Almamen; and as, waving, alost his “Not yet,” he cried, “not yet; we willominous banner, he disappeared again be:
have one embrace before we part.” hind the shelter of the breastworks, the
“Is there then no hope 1” - - I
with a pale cheek, yet steady eye. - “None, unless to-morrow's dawn gild The sztih day came, and the work of the spears of Ferdinand's army, upon the enemy was completed. The tower yonder hills. Till morn we may hold out.” Woo entirely undermined; the soundation As he spoke he hastily devoured some rested only upon wooden props, which,
morsels of food, draining a huge goblet of with a humanity that was characterestic wine, and abruptly left the chamber of Boabdil, had been placed there in order * * -
| - - - At that moment the women distinctly that the besieged might escope ere the fiheard the loud shout of the Moors; and nal crash o' their last hold.
It was now noon : the whole Moorish
Leila, approaching the grated casement, - - . . - in," of woo": SCC med to her like moving WallS. to -- w tuC d with inge ion, constructi dinous array and breathless expectation. overed Woo, onio.o.o.o. The miners stood aloof; the Spaniards of wood and thick hides, the besiegers ad- lay prostrate and exhausted upon the batvanced to the foot of thc tower in “”.tlements, like mariners, who, after every parative shelter from the burning streams effort against the storm, await, resigned - - ---, -- at . lom -in' ' 's ". . • ‘i ww. it is r which still poured fast and sheeting, from and almost indifferent, the swcep of the fatal surge. showers of darts and cross-bolts from o Suddenly the lines of the Moors gave more distant M. .." the o way; and Boabdil himself, with Muza at of the engineers, and piercing through al his right had and Āina on his les, ad. . cvery loop-hole and crevice in **ano towards the foot of the tower. At ". hile, the stalwart governor b the same time, the Ethcopian guards, each l o use, inc . i. r *'''''''''''.” bearing a torch, marched slowly in the held, With . ant ...i. . rear; and from the midst of them paced the * no *s-, who - . of t ..". "...". soyal herald, and sounded the last warning. o works p ''The hush of the immense armament; the - - glare of the torches, lighting the ebon sa44 r - 1” * - • ‘'s o o o o o |. ces and giant forms of their bearers; the gnashing "...o."..."... "..."; majestig appearence of the king himself;
- Sll: “ied in its ruins ! - tower, and we shall be buried in its ruins the heroic aspect of Muza; the bare head
J.ook out Gonsalvo! see you not a gloom and glittering banner of Alma men, all of spears yonder over the montains Tcombined with the circumstances of the *Mine eyes are dim with watching time, to invest the spectacle with some. “Alas! brave Mendo, it is only the so-ining awful, and, perhaps, sublime. ing sun upon the snows; but there i. Quexada turned his cyes mutcly round hope yet.” the ghastly faces of his warriors, and still 'I he soldier's words terminated in "made not the signal. His lips mustered, shrill and sudden cry of agony, and he his cycs glared; when, suddenly, he heard fell dead by the side of Quesada, the brain below the wail of women; and the thought orushed by a bolt from the Moorish arque-of Inez, the bride of his youth, the partner buss. *. - of his age, came upon him; and, with a “My best warrior" said Quexada, trembling hand, he lowered the yet un“peace be with him! Ho!, there ! see you quailing standard of Spain. Then the sithat desperate infidel urging on the mi-lence below, broke into a mighty shout, ners? By the heavens above, it is he of the which shook the grim tower to its unsteady
wild banner it is the sorcerer! Fire on and temporary base.
the gates of the keep unfolded, and these
gallant Christians surrendered themselves to the Moor. “Do with us as you will,” said Quexada, as he laid the keys at the hoofs of Boabdil's barb; “but there are women in the garrison who—' ‘Are sacred, interrupted the king. ‘At Once we accord their liberty and free transport whithersoever ye would desire. Speak, then I To what place of safety shall they be conducted?” ‘Generous king !' replied the veteran Quexada, brushing away his tears with the back of his hand, “you take the sting from our shame, We accept our offer in the same spirit in which it is made. Across the mountains, on the verge of the plain of Olfadez, I possess a small castle, ungarrisoned and unfortified. Thence, should the war take that direction, the woman can readily obtain safe conduct to the queen at Cordovia.” 4 it so,' returned Boabdil. Then, with oriental delicacy, selecting the eldest of the officers round him, he gave him instructions to enter the castle, and, with a strong guard, provide for the safety of the woman according to the directions of Quexada. To another of his officers he confided the Spanish prisoners, and gave the signal to his army to withdraw from the spot, leaving only a small body to complete the ruin of the fortress. . Accompanied Almamen and his principal officers, Boabdil now hastened towards Grenada; and while, with slower progress, Quexada and his companions, under a strong escort, took their way across the Vega, a sudden turn in their course
Boabdil followed up his late success with a series of brilliant assaults on the neighboring fortresses. Grenada, like a strong man bowed to the ground, wrench, ed, one after another, the bands that had crippled her liberty and strength ; and at length, after regaining a considerable portion of the surrounding territory, the king resolved to lay siege to the seaport of Salobrena. Could he obtain this town, Boabdil, by establishing communications between the sea and Grenada, would both be enabled to avail himself of the assistance of his African allies, and also prevent the Spaniards from cutting off supe plies to the city, sheuld they again besiege it. Thither, then, accompanied by Muza, the Moorish king, bore his victorious standard.
On the eve of his departure, Almamen sought the king's presence, A great change had come over the sarton since the departure of Ferdinand: his wonted stateliness of mien was gone; his eyes
brought abruptly before them the tower they had so valiantly defended. There it still stood, proud and stern, amid the blackened and broken wrecks around it, shouting aloft, dark and grim, against the sky. Another moment, and a mighty crash sounded on their ears; while the
were sunk and hollow ; his manner dis. turbed and absent. In fact his love for his daughter made the sole softness of his character; and that daughter was in the hands of the king who had sentenced the father to the tortures of the Inquisition To what danger night she not be subjec
tower fell to the earth amid volumes ofted by the intolerant zeal of conversions
and could that frame and gentle heart brave the tertifiq engines that might be brought against her fears? “Better."
thought he, “that she should perish, even by the torture, than adopt that hated faith.” He gnashed his teeth in agony at either alternative. His dreams, his objects, his revenge, his ambition, all forsook him: one single hope, one though, completely mastered his stormy passsions and fitful intellect. In this mood the pretended santon met Boabdil. He represented to the king, over whom his influence had prodigiously increased since the late victories of the Moors, the necessity of employing the armies of Ferdinand at a distance. He proposed in furtherance of this policy, to venture himself in Cordova; to endeavor to stir up the Moors in that their ancient kingdom who had succumbed to the Spanish yoke, and whose hopes might naturly be inflamed by the recent success of Boabdil ; and, at least, to foment such disturbance as might afford the king sufficient time to complete his designs, and recruit his force by the aid of the powers with which he was in league. The representations of Almamen at length conquered Boabdil's reluctance to part with his sacred guide, and it was finally arranged that the Israelites should at once depart from the city. As Almamen pursued homeward his solitary way, he found himself suddenly accosted in the Hebrew tongue. He turned hastily, and saw before him an old man, in the Jewish garb: he recognised Elias, 'one of the wealthiest and most eminent of the face of Israel." “Pardon me, wise countryman
the Jew, bowing to the earth, “but I can
not resist the temptation of claiming kindred with one through whom the horn of Israel may be so triumphantly exalted.” “Hush, man " said Almamen, quickly, and looking sharply around; “I thy countrymans art thou not, as thy speech betokeneth, an Israelite?” “Yea,” said the Jew, “and of the same tribe as thy honored father—peace be with his ashes! I remembered thee at once, boy though thou wert when thy steps shook off in against Grenada. I remembered thee, I say, at once, on thy return ; ‘ but I have kept thy secret, trusting that, through thy soul and genius, thy fallen brethren might put off sackcloth and feast upon the housetops.”
Almamen looked hard at the keen, sharp, Arab feature of the Jew; and at length he answered, “And how can Israel be restored? wilt thou fight for her?” “I am too old, son of Issachar, to bear arms: but our tribes are many, and our youth strong. Amid these disturbances between dog and dog—” “The lion may get his own,” Interrupted Almamen, impetuously; “let us hope it. Hast thou heard of the new persecutions against us, that the false Nazarene king has already commenced in Cordova–Persecutions that make the heart sick and the blood cold 7” “Alas!” cried Elias, “such woes have not failed to reach mine ear; and I have kindred, near and beloved kindred, wealthy and honored men, scattered throughout that land.” “Were it not better that they should die on the field than by the rack 1" exclaimed Almamen, fiercely. “God of thy fathers? if there be yet a spark of manhood left amorg thy people, let thy servant fan it to a flame, that shall burn as the fire burns the stubble, so that the earth may be bare before the blaze l’” “Nay,” said Elias, dismayed, rather than excited by the vehemance of his comrade, “be not rash, son of Issachar, be not rash; peradventure thou wilt but exasperate the wrath of the rulers, and our substance thereby will be utterly consumed.” Almamen drew back, placed his hands quietly on the Jews shoulder, looked him hard in the face, and gently laughing, turned away. Elias did not attempt to arrest his steps. “Impracticable,” he muttered, “Impracticable and dangerous! I always thought so. He may do us harm; were he not so strong and fierce I would put my knife under his fifth rib. Verily, gold is a great thing; and—out on me! the knaves at home will be wasting the oil now they know old Elias is abroad.” Thereat the Jew drew his cloak around him and quickened his pace. Almamen, in the mean while, sought, through dark and subteranean passages, known only to himself, his accustomed home. He passed much of the night alone; but, ere the morning star announced to
the monntain-tops the presence of the sun,
. Ximen bowed low, and mumbled out some inaudible protestations and thanks. Almamen sighed heavily as he looked round the room. “I have evil omens in my soul and evil prophecies in my book,” said he, mournfully. “But the worst is here,” he added, putting his finger significantly to his temples; “the string is stretched; one more blow would snap it.”
As he thus said, he opened the door and vanished through the labarinth of galleries by which he was enabled at all times
Meanwhile, Ferdinand had no sooner entered Cordova, than his extensive schemes of confiscation and holy persecution commenced. Not only did more than five hundred Jews perish in the dark and secret gripe of the grand inquisitor, but several hundreds of the wealthiest Christian families, in whose blood was detected the hereditary Jewish taint, were thrown into prison, and such as were most fortunate purchased life by the sacrifice of half their treasure.
It was one evening that a solitary fugitive, hard chased by an armed troop of the brothers of St. Hermandad, was seen emerging from a dark and rocky defile, which opened abruptly on the gardens of a small, and, by the o of sortifications and sentries, seemingly deserted cas- . tle. Behind him, in the exceeding stillness which characterizes the air of a Spanish twilight, he heard, at a considerable distance, the blast of a horn and the tramp of hoofs. His pursuers, divided into several detachments, were scouring the country after him, as the fishermen draw their nets from bank to bank, conscious that
to reach unobserved, either the palace of the prey they drive before the meshes
the Alhambra or the gardens without the gates of the city. Ximen remained behind a few moments in deep thought. “All mine is he dies,” said he, “All mine if he does no return' All mine, all mine ! and I have not a child nor kindsman in the world to cluck it away from me!” With that he locked the vault and returned to the upper air.
CHAPTER XIX. THE FUGITIVE AND THE MEETING.
In their different directions the rival kings were equally successful. Salobrena, but lately conquered by the Christians, was thrown into commotion by the first glimpse of Boabdil's banners; the populace rose, heat back their Christian guards, and opened the gates to the last of their race of kings. The garrison alone, to which the Spaniards retreated, resisted Boabdil's arms; and, defended by impregnable wall, promised an obstinate and bloody siege.
cannot escape them at the last. The su|gitive halted in doubt, and gazed round him: he was well nigh exhausted; his eyes were bloodshot; the large drops rollled fast down his brow; his whole frame quivered and palpitated like that of a stag when he stands at bay. Beyond the castle spread a broad plain, far as the eye could reach, without shrub or hollow to conseal his form: flight across a space so favorable to his pursuers, was evidently in vain. No alternative was left unless he turned back on the very path taken by the horsemen, or trusted to such scanty and perilous shelter as the copses in the castle garden might afford him. He decided on the latter refuge, cleared the low and lonely walls that girded the demesne, and plunged into a thicket of overhanging oaks and chesnuts. At that hour, and in that garden, beside a little fountain, were seated two femalest the one of mature, and somewhat advanced in years; the other in the flower of virgin youth. But the flower was prematurely faded; and neither the bloom, not sparkle, nor undulating play of the seares that should have suited her again was * * * * * * * *
visible in the marble paleness and contemplative sadness of her beautiful countenance, “Alas! my young friend,” said the elder of these ladies, “it is in these hours of soliude and calm that we are most deeply impressed with the nothingness of life. Thou, my sweet convert, art the object no longer of my compassion, but of my envy; and earnestly do I feel convinced of the blessed repose thy spirit will enjoy in the lap of thy Mother Church. Happy are they who die young; but thrice happy they who die in the spirit rather than the flesh: dead to sin, but not to virtue; to error but not to hope; to man, but not to God l’” “Dear senora,” replied the young maiden, mournfully, “were I alone on the earth, heaven is my witness with what deep and thankful resignation I should take the holy vows and forswear the past: but the heart remains human, however divine the hope that it may cherish. And sometimes I start and think of home, of childhood, of my strange but lovely father, deserted and childless in his old age.’ . “Thine, Leila,” returned the elder senora, “are but the sorrows our nature is doomed to. What matter whether absence or death sever the affections! Thou lamentest a father, I a son, dead in the pride of his youth and beauty; a husband languishing in the setters of the Moor.— Take comfort for thy sorrows in the reflection that sorrow is the heritage of all.” Ere Leila could reply the orangeboughs that sheltered the spot where they sat were put aside, and between the women and the fountain, stood the dark form of Almamen the Israelite. Leila rose, shrieked, and flung herself, unconcicus, on his breast, “Oh Lord of Israel!” cried Almamen, n a tone of deep anguish, “do I then at last regain my child? do I press her to my heart? and is it only for that brief moment when I stand on the brink of the grave.” “My father l is it indeed my father ?” said Leila, recovering rerself, and drawing back that she might assure herself of that familiar face; “is it thou? it is, it is —Oh! what blessed chance brings us tother?" “That chance is the destiny, which tuides me to my tomb,” answered Almao
men solemnly. “Hark! hear you not the sound of their rushing steeds—their impetuous voices? They are on me now.” * Who? Of whom speakest thou?” “My pursuers—the horsemen of the Spaniard.” - “Oh scrona, save him s” cried Leila, turning to Dona Inez, whom both father and child had hitherto forgotten. and who now stood gazing upon Almamen, with wondering and anxious eyes. “Whither can he fly The vaults of the castle may conceal him. This way—hasten.” “You are right,” replied the lady, nor shall your sire perish, if I can save him.” Inez then conducted her strange guest to a small door in the rear of the castle; and, after leading him through some of the principal apartments, left him in one of the wardrobes or tiring-looms adjoining her own chaniber, and the entrance to which the arras concealed. She rightly judged this a safer retreat than the vault of the castle might afford, since her great name and known intamacy with Isabel would preclude all suspicion of her abetting in the escape of the fugitive, and keep those places the most secure in which, without such aid he could hot have secreted himself. In a few moments several of the troop arrived at the castle, and on learning the name of the owner, contented themselves with searching the gardens, and the lower, and more exposed apartments; and then recommending to the servants a vigilant look-out, removed, and proceeded to scour the plain, over Whil now slowly fell the starlight and shade of night. When Leila stole at last to the room in which Almamen was hid, she found him streched on his mantle in a deep sleep. Exhausted by all he had undergone, and his rigid nerves, as it were, relaxed b the sudden softness of the inteview wi his child, the slumber of that fiery wanderer was as calm as an infant's. And their relaxation almost reversed, and the daughter to be as a mother watching over her offspring, when Leila seated herself softly by him, fixing her eyes, to which the tears came ever, ever to be brushed away, upon his warm but tranquil features, made yet more serene by the qui
et light that glimmered through the casement. And sopased the hours of that night,