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sources, I have drawn it forth, and endeavored to shape it according to my recollection of the version of the beautiful minstrel; but alas! what can supply the want of that voice, that look, that form, that action, which gave magical effect to her chant, and held every one rapt in breathless admiration! Should this mere travestie of her inspired numbers ever meet her eye, in her stately abode at Granada, may it meet with that indulgence which belongs to her benignant nature. Happy should I be, if it could awaken in her bosom one kind recollection of the lonely stranger and sojourner, for whose gratification she did not think it beneath her to exert those fascinating powers, which were the delight of brilliant circles; and who will ever recall with enthusiasm the happy evening passed in listening to her strains, in the moon-lit halls of the Alhambra.
On the summit of a craggy hill, a spur of the mountains of Ronda, stands the castle of Allora, now a mere ruin, infested by bats and owlets, but in old times one of the strong border holds of the Christians, to keep watch upon the frontiers of the warlike kingdom of Granada, and to hold the Moors in check. It was a post always confided to some well-tried commander; and, at the time of which we treat, was held by Rodrigo de Narvaez, a veteran, famed, both among Moors and Christians, not only for his hardy feats of arms, but also for that magnanimous courtesy, which should ever be entwined with the sterner virtues of the soldier.
The castle of Allora was a mere part of his command; he was Alcayde, or military governor of Antiquera, but he passed most of his time at this frontier post, because its situation on the borders gave more frequent opportunity for those adventurous exploits which were the delight of the Spanish chivalry. His garrison consisted of fifty chosen cavaliers, all well mounted, and well appointed : with these he kept vigilant watch upon the Moslems; patrolling the roads, and paths, and defiles, of the mountains, so that nothing could escape his eye; and now and then signalizing himself by some dashing foray into the very Vega of Granada.
On a fair and beautiful night in summer, when the freshness of the evening breeze had tempered the heat of day, the worthy Alcayde sallied forth, with nine of his cavaliers, to patrol the neighborhood, and seek adventures. They rode quietly and cautiously, lest they should be overheard by Moorish scout or traveller; and kept along ravines and hollow ways, lest they should be betrayed by the glittering of the full moon upon their armor. Coming to where the road divided, the Alcayde directed five of his cavaliers to take one of the branches, while he, with the remaining four, would take the other. Should either party be in danger, the blast of a horn was to be the signal to bring their comrades to their aid.
The party of five had not proceeded far, when, in passing through a defile, overhung with trees, they beard the voice of a man, singing.
They immediately concealed themselves in a grove, on the brow of a declivity, up which the stranger would have to ascend. The moonlight, which left the grove in deep shadow, lit up the whole person of the wayfarer, as he advanced, and enabled them to distinguish his dress and appearance, with perfect accuracy. He was a Moorish cavalier, and his noble demeanor, graceful carriage, and splendid attire, showed him to be of lofty rank. He was superbly mounted, on a dapple-gray steed, of powerful frame, and generous spirit, and magnificently caparisoned. His dress was a mariota, or tunic, and an Albernoz of crimson damask, fringed with gold. His Tunisian turban, of many folds, was of silk and cotton striped, and bordered with golden fringe. At his girdle hung a scimetar of Damascus steel, with loops and tassels of silk and gold. On his left arm he bore an ample target, and his right hand grasped a long double-pointed lance. Thus equipped, he sat negligently on his steed, as one who dreamed of no danger, gazing on the moon, and singing, with a sweet and manly
, voice, a Moorish love ditty.
Just opposite the place where the Spanish cavaliers were concealed, was a small fountain in the rock, beside the road, to which the horse turned to drink; the rider threw the reins on his neck, and continued bis song.
The Spanish cavaliers conferred together; they were all so pleased with the gallant and gentle appearance of the Moor, that they resolved not to harm, but to capture him, which, in his negligent mood, promised to be an easy task; rushing, therefore, from their concealment, they thought to surround and seize him. Never were men more mistaken. To gather up his reins, wheel round his steed, brace his buckler, and couch his lance, was the work of an instant; and there he sat, fixed like a castle in his saddle, beside the fountain.
The Christian cavaliers checked their steeds, and reconnoitred him warily, loth to come to an encounter, which must end in his destruction,
The Moor now held a parley: “If you be true knights,' said he, and seek for honorable fame, come on, singly, and I am ready to meet each in succession; but if you be mere lurkers of the road, intent on spoil, come all at once, and do your worst!'
The cavaliers communed for a moment apart, when one, advancing singly, exclaimed: Although no law of chivalry obliges us to risk the loss of a prize, when clearly in our power, yet we willingly grant, as a courtesy, what we might refuse as a right. Valiant Moor! defend thyself!
So saying, he wheeled, took proper distance, couched his lance, and putting
spurs to his horse, made at the stranger. The latter met him in mid career, transpierced him with his lance, and threw him headlong from his saddle. A second and a third succeeded, but were unhorsed with equal facility, and thrown to the earth, severely wounded. The remaining two, seeing their comrades thus roughly treated, forgot all compact of courtesy, and charged both at once upon the Moor. He parried the thrust of one, but was wounded by the other in the thigh, and, in the shock and confusion, dropped his lance. Thus disarmed, and closely pressed, he pretended to Ay, and was hotly pursued. Having drawn the two cavaliers some distance from the spot, he suddenly wheeled short about, with one of those dexterous
movements for which the Moorish horseman were renowned; passed swiftly between them, swung himself down from his saddle, so as to catch up his lance, then, lightly replacing himself, turned to renew the combat.
Seeing him thus fresh for the encounter, as if just issued from his tent, one of the cavaliers put his lips to his horn, and blew a blast, that soon brought the Alcayde and his four companions to the spot.
The valiant Narvaez, seeing three of his cavaliers extended on the earth, and two others hotly engaged with the Moor, was struck with admiration, and coveted a contest with so accomplished a warrior. Interfering in the fight, he called upon his followers to desist, and addressing the Moor, with courteous words, invited him to a more equal combat. The latter readily accepted the challenge. For some time, their contest was fierce and doubtful, and the Alcayde had need of all his skill and strength to ward off the blows of his antagonist. The Moor, however, was exhausted by previous fighting, and by loss of blood. He no longer sat his horse firmly, nor managed him with his wonted skill. Collecting all his strength for a last assault, he rose in his stirrups, and made a violent thrust with his lance; the Alcayde received it upon his shield, and at the same time wounded the Moor in the right arm; then closing, in the shock, he grasped him in bis arms, dragged him from his saddle, and fell with him to the earth : when putting his knee upon his breast, and his dagger to his throat, •Cavalier,' exclaimed he, 'render thyself my prisoner, for thy life is in my hands!
* Kill me, rather,' replied the Moor, ‘for death would be less grievous than loss of liberty.'
The Alcayde, however, with the clemency of the truly brave, assisted the Moor to rise, ministered to his wounds with his own hands, and had him conveyed with great care to the castle of Allora. His wounds were slight, and in a few days were nearly cured; but the deepest wound had been inflicted on his spirit. He was constantly buried in a profound melancholy.
The Alcayde, who had conceived a great regard for him, treated him more as a friend than a captive, and tried in every way to cheer him, but in vain; he was always sad and moody, and, when on the battlements of the castle, would keep his eyes turned to the south, with a fixed and wistful gaze.
• How is this ? exclaimed the Alcayde, reproachfully, that you, who were so hardy and fearless in the field, should lose all spirit in prison? If any secret grief preys on your heart, confide it to me, as to a friend, and I promise you, on the faith of a cavalier, that you shall have no cause to repent the disclosure.'
The Moorish knight kissed the hand of the Alcayde.Noble cavalier,' said he, “that I am cast down in spirit, is not from my wounds, which are slight, nor from my captivity, for your kindness has robbed it of all gloom; nor from my defeat, for to be conquered by so accomplished and renowned a cavalier, is no disgrace. But to explain to you the cause of my grief, it is necessary to give you some particulars of my story; and this I am moved to do, by the great sympathy you have manifested toward me, and the magnanimity that shines through all your actions.'
*Know, then, that my name is Abendaraez, and that I am of the noble but unfortunate line of the Abencerrages of Granada. You have doubtless heard of the destruction that fell upon our race. Charged with treasonable designs, of which they were entirely innocent, many of them were beheaded, the rest banished; so that not an Abencerrage was permitted to remain in Granada, excepting my father and my uncle, whose innocence was proved, even to the satisfaction of their persecutors. It was decreed, however, that, should they have children, the sons should be educated at a distance from Granada, and the daughters should be married out of the kingdom.
Conformably to this decree, I was sent, while yet an infant, to be reared in the fortress of Cartama, the worthy Alcayde of which was an ancient friend of my father. He had no children, and received me into his family as his own child, treating me with the kindness and affection of a father; and I grew up in the belief that he really was such. A few years afterward, his wife gave birth to a daughter, but his tenderness toward me continued undiminished. I thus grew up with Xarisa, for so the infant daughter of the Alcayde was called, as her own brother, and thought the growing passion which I felt for her, was mere fraternal affection. I beheld her charms unfolding, as it were, leaf by leaf, like the morning rose, each moment disclosing fresh beauty and sweetness.
At this period, I overheard a conversation between the Alcayde and his confidential domestic, and found myself to be the subject. • It is time,' said he, 'to apprise him of his parentage, that he may adopt a career in life. I have deferred the communication as long as possible, through reluctance to inform him that he is of a proscribed and an unlucky race.'
• This intelligence would have overwhelmed me at an earlier period, but the intimation that Xarisa was not my sister, operated like magic, and in an instant transformed my brotherly affection into ardent love.
* I sought Xarisa, to impart to her the secret I had learned. I found her in the garden, in a bower of jessamines, arranging her beautiful hair by the mirror of a crystal fountain. The radiance of her beauty dazzled me. I ran to her with open arms, and she received me with a sister's embraces. When we had seated ourselves beside the fountain, she began to upbraid me for leaving her so long alone.
• In reply, I informed her of the conversation I had overheard. The recital shocked and distressed her. “Alas! cried she, then is our happiness at an end !'
**How !' exclaimed I; wilt thou cease to love me, because I am not thy brother ?
* Not so,' replied she ; but do you not know that when it is once known we are not brother and sister, we can no longer be permitted to be thus always together?'
• In fact, from that moment our intercourse took a new character. We met often at the fountain among the jessamines, but Xarisa no longer advanced with open arms to meet me. She became reserved and silent, and would blush, and cast down her eyes, when I seated myself beside her. My heart became a prey to the thousand doubts and fears that ever attend upon true love. I was restless and uneasy, and looked back with regret to the unreserved intercourse that had
existed between us, when we supposed ourselves brother and sister ; yet I would not have had the relationship true, for the world.
• While matters were in this state between us, an order came from the King of Granada for the Alcayde to take command of the fortress of Coyn, which lies directly on the Christian frontier. He prepared to remove, with all his family, but signified that I should remain at Cartama. I exclaimed against the separation, and declared that I could not be parted from Xarisa. "That is the very cause,' said he, 'why I leave thee behind. It is time, Abendaraez, that thou shouldst know the secret of thy birth; that thou art no son of mine, neither is Xarisa thy sister.' I know it all,' exclaimed I, and I love her with ten fold the affection of a brother. You have brought us up together;
a you have made us necessary to each other's happiness; our hearts have entwined themselves with our growth ; do not now tear them asunder. Fill up the measure of
kindness ; be indeed a father to me, by giving me Xarisa for my wife.'
• The brow of the Alcayde darkened as I spoke. Have I then been deceived ? said he. • Have those nurtured in my very bosom, been conspiring against me? Is this your return for my paternal tenderness ? -- to beguile the affections of my child, and teach her to deceive her father? It was cause enough to refuse thee the hand of my daughter, that thou wert of a proscribed race, who can never approach the walls of Granada ; this, however, I might have passed over ; but never will I give my daughter to a man who has endeavored to win her from me by deception.'
* All my attempts to vindicate myself and Xarisa were unavailing. I retired in anguish from his presence, and seeking Xarisa, told her of this blow, which was worse than death to me. • Xarisa,' said I,
we part for ever! I shall never see thee more! Thy father will guard thee rigidly. Thy beauty and his wealth will soon attract some happier rival, and I shall be forgotten !'
Xarisa reproached me with my want of faith, and promised me eternal constancy. I still doubted and desponded, until, moved by my anguish and despair, she agreed to a secret union. Our espousals made, we parted, with a promise on her part to send me word from Coyn, should her father absent himself from the fortress. The very day after our secret nuptials, I beheld the whole train of the Alcayde depart from Cartama, nor would he admit me to his presence, or permit me to bid farewell to Xarisa. I remained at Cartama, somewhat pacified in spirit by this secret bond of union; but every thing around me fed my passion, and reminded me of Xarisa, I saw the windows at which I had so often beheld her. I wandered through the apartment she had inhabited; the chamber in which she had slept. I visited the bower of jessamines, and lingered beside the fountain in which she had delighted. Every thing recalled her to my imagination, and filled my heart with tender melancholy.
* At length, a confidential servant brought me word, that her father was to depart that day for Granada, on a short absence, inviting me to hasten to Coyn, describing a secret portal at which I should apply, and the signal by which I would obtain admittance. 'If ever you have loved, most valiant Alcayde, you may judge of the