Lane, Darling, and Co. Leadenhall-Street.
The Gothic Princess.
AUGUSTA AMELIA STUART,
LUDOVICO’S TALE; THE ENGLISH BROTHERS; EXILE
Fierce wars, and faithful loves,
And truths severe, in fairy fiction drest.
PRINTED AT THE
FOR A. K. NEWMAN AND CO.
THE author of the following sheets, struck by
the account historians have given of the fall of the Gothic empire in
IN the beginning of the eighth century,
Rodrigo, the last king of the Goths, reigned over
is from the prince Palayo that the kings of
Opulence, which in a state is ever accompanied by vice, deprived the Goths of an empire they had enjoyed three hundred years, and for which they were indebted to the prudence and the valour of their ancestors—debauchery extinguished their warlike ardour, and that heroic intrepidity which had rendered them capable of executing the most glorious projects, both in peace and war—they now scarcely preserved the remembrance of the military discipline that had rendered them invincible; their corrupt manners led to as great an avidity for pleasure, as they had once had for combat; and they as anxiously attended to the magnificence of their dress and epuipage, as they had formerly done to the splendor of their armour, and the beauty and perfection of their warlike weapons.
The empire of the Goths having fallen into so deplorable a state, this nation, so famous for its battles and its victories, and which had spread the terror of its name almost over the whole universe, forgot now what it had once been and what it ought to have continued to be, so great was the dreadful contagion that had corrupted the hearts and understanding of almost all the Spaniards. The expectations of the best people in the kingdom were raised to the highest pitch, from the excellent qualities that all beheld and acknowledged in their new king; every thing combined in him to form, as they thought an accomplished monarch: his face was handsome, his figure majestic, his air noble; his body, hardened by exercise, was capable of enduring the greatest fatigues; he was accustomed to hunger and thirst; to the vicissitudes of heat and cold; to long watching, and capable of the most hazardous and laborious enterprises in war. The qualities of his mind appeared to excel those of his body: he was bold, enterprising; the greatest difficulties could not intimidate him; he was capable of forming the grandest, the most noble projects, and still more capable of executing them: he was liberal to excess; and had the happy art of conciliating all who approached him; and even of governing and making their wills subservient to his own, without their perceiving it. It was scarcely possible for any person to defend themselves against the seduction of his manners, so perfectly did he know how to insinuate himself into the hearts of those he wished to gain. His wonderful talents enabled him to surmount every difficulty he encountered, whatever might be its magnitude—Such history represents Rodrigo, before his elevation to the Gothic throne; but, melancholy to relate! no sooner was he seated on that exalted throne, to which his virtues had led him, than all those virtues vanished. The brilliancy of his early days was lost in the dark cloud which his vices spread over his latter years; his great qualities were not only stained, but obliterated, by the most enormous crimes; vindictive, even to fury, he revenged himself with unbounded rage on those who had not been of his party. He gave himself up to the most infamous life, the impurity of which soon became notorious: by his violence, rashness, and imprudence, he rendered even his best-planned schemes abortive: and too late his people found that he much less resembled his father, and the amiable princes of his illustrious house, than the vile and barbarous Witiza, to whom he had succeeded.
We must contemplate such a character with sorrow, as well as with horror; for what a picture does it present us of frail human nature, whose bad passions turn the best gifts of Heaven, and the blessings of a prosperous life, to a deadly poison, which not only destroys this earthly machine, but the inestimable jewel which that machine encloses, and gives it, a willing victim, an unresisting prey, to the enemy of mankind.
the time of Rodrigo’s coming to the throne, count Julian was governor of the
The Christians had indeed displayed the emblem of their holy religion, but they had forgotten what it taught; and in the eighth century, the purity of the Christian faith was contaminated by almost Pagan rights: schisms, difference of opinions, hatred, revenge, avarice, and pride, left, even to the priests, only the name of Christians; they professed religion, but they knew not what they professed; and all virtue was lost in sensual enjoyments. Those who went not with the stream, but took the holy scriptures for their guide, could only lament the almost general depravity, and by their conduct aim at reformation: some among the nobility, even in this profligate age, were not only great, but good; and a portion of the clergy remained uncontaminated by vice; the precepts of saint Issidore, and of other holy men, were not entirely forgotten, and still influenced many in the different ranks of life.
Rodrigo’s queen, the beautiful and virtuous Egilone, was of the most amiable and engaging character, and was as accomplished as any princess in that dark age could be: her sweetness, her unassuming manners, her sanctity, which was not only professed but real, rendered her an object of universal love and admiration; and she was looked upon as a pattern of excellence to her extensive dominions. Once she had been the delight of Rodrigo; his heart had chosen her from among the beauties of Witiza’s court; and those virtues which had shone with such brightness in so corrupted a hemisphere, had had as great a share, as her extraordinary beauty, in filling the breast of this distinguished prince with the most violent and ardent passion. Egilone returned his love; and proud of the conquest she had made of a gallant prince, the boast and idol of his country, flattered herself that her happiness was permanent, and that the heart she set so high a value on, would always own her influence. Egilone’s purity of mind gave rise to this belief; she knew little of the world; how could she be acquainted with it, in a court where truth is so seldom found, and where all who approached her were on the watch to flatter and deceive?
Egilone was yet to learn, that pure and perfect love cannot exist in a corrupted heart; it flies terrified from such a mansion, and leaves nought but brutal passion in its room. Soon was the deceived and unhappy queen taught to mourn her fatal elevation to a throne; soon was she to lament the beloved and loving husband, lost in the dissolute and frantic monarch. She saw with terror, that every day, nay every hour, was marked by the sensuality, cruelty, and violence of Rodrigo: secretly and in silence, she mourned over the crimes of a being she once thought so perfect, and still so dearly loved. Some consolation awaited her in the return of the young prince, don Palayo, to the court; he had been exiled by Witiza; and the only good action Rodrigo performed after his accession to the crown, was recalling this amiable nobleman from banishment.
the cruel reign of Witiza, the cousins had been involved in the same
misfortunes; and Rodrigo had ever loved and respected don Palayo, though
unfortunately neither the example or advice of his excellent and virtuous
friend had any influence on his conduct. Rodrigo persecuted with the utmost
rancour all the family connexions and dependants of the late king, whose
children fled from
Alonzo was about twenty; his soul was noble and good; none of those vices that had debased his grandfather attached to him; his person was uncommonly handsome; no one excelled him in all manly exercises; his large and fine blue eyes had a mixture of spirit and softness, that attracted affection, respect, and admiration; he appeared to read the hearts of others, and to yield his own where he met a congenial mind: intrepid in war, mild and gentle in peace, instructed in all the learning of the times, moderate in all his desires, studious of knowledge, and, though deprived of empire, deporting himself as a prince, it was impossible he should not gain the affections of the nobles, and of all ranks in the kingdom who could judge of merit. Often did the young prince reflect with grief on the misfortunes of his family—on the degradation he felt, living in the court of a tyrant, almost unfriended and alone, where, if his merits had been justly appreciated, he would have commanded in the place of Rodrigo. His royal blood then mantled in his cheek, and serious thoughts of disputing with Rodrigo his kingdom took place in his ardent bosom; but they soon subsided, when he considered, was he to fly to arms, he must wade through slaughter to a throne; and the precepts of the religion he professed banished those ambitious wishes; and he tacitly confessed, that the Goths had a right of electing their king, when they thought it for the good of the empire to do so: sometimes he determined on quitting Spain, and seeking his fortune in a foreign land, or of attaching himself entirely to the person of count Julian, the protector of his youth, and the husband of his aunt: but a secret passion, which for some time had subjected him to its sweet influence, arrested his steps, and rooted him to the spot where all the treasure of his soul was lodged.
It had long been a custom in the court of Spain, to educate most of the children of the nobility of the kingdom in the palace of its monarch. The boys were destined to guard the person of the king, to serve in his chamber, and at his table; those who were old enough, and had sufficient strength, attended him in the chace, or followed him to the field of battle; and nothing was omitted that could render them of use to the state; and it was from this school that the first statesmen in the kingdom, the governors of the provinces, the valiant captains, and able generals, were selected.
The young female nobility were particularly the care of the queen, and scarcely ever quitted her: it was within the precincts of her palace they were instructed in all accomplishments suited to their rank and sex; there they were taught the elegant and various labours of the loom; nor was dancing, singing, or the lyre neglected; and when they were of an age to marry, husbands were chosen for them among the nobility, in rank and fortune suitable to their respective conditions.
Among all the young nobility of Rodrigo’s court, none could stand in competition with the blooming Cava, daughter to count Julian, and the enchanting Favilla, sister to don Palayo. These two young princesses were not more remarkable for their exquisite beauty than for the tender friendship that united them.
The queen, still young and lovely herself, beheld with delight their perfections, gave particular attention to their education, had them constantly near her, was accustomed to say they were the wonders of her court, and treated them as if they had been her children: if she felt a preference for either, it was for the lovely Cava, whose elevation of soul rendered her an object of admiration to the queen. The two young princesses, though so linked in the bonds of friendship, were totally different in person, in manners, and disposition.
We are not, my fair readers, to suppose, that in those ages we call barbarous, the females of high rank were unpolished, or unattractive; if they did not possess the various accomplishments of a modern beauty, they were perhaps free from her follies; the frivolity of the present times was unknown to them, as also the eternal change of fashion, and the fastidiousness of the present day: less anxious to attract universal admiration than the modern fair, they seem to have had more supreme power over the hearts they conquered, and from their own constancy, to have longer retained their empire. How many instances in former times, in dark, and, as we are pleased to call them, barbarous ages, are there of perfect love and unalterable friendship, reaching even to the tomb! Alas! how few, how very few, are to be found in our polished, enlightened, and selfish time! —
“What now is friendship but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep,
A sound that follows wealth and fame,
But leaves the wretch to weep.
And love is still an emptier sound,
The haughty fair one’s jest,
Unseen on earth, or only found
To warm the turtle’s nest.”
BEFORE we proceed in our story, we must make our readers acquainted with the persons and characters of the two young beauties, who shone with such splendor at the court of Rodrigo, and who were allowed to eclipse the charms of all the Gothic fair, excepting only those of the incomparable Egilone.
The beauty of the princess Cava dazzled and astonished; her person was grand, noble, and commanding, with the most exact proportion, and the finest turned limbs; the charms of her countenance could only be conceived by beholding her; her large black eyes shone with a luster almost divine; long dark eyelashes softened their radiance, and gave a peculiar modesty to her countenance; her nose inclined to Grecian; her mouth, when she spoke, displayed teeth that in colour rivalled the finest pearls; and the bewitching expression that layed about that lovely mouth captivated all whom she addressed: her soft and clear complexion was brunette; and the opening morn glowed not with a brighter colour than adorned her cheek. Endowed with so many natural graces, she had all the advantages of education: her rank and fortune entitled her to wear the most splendid apparel, which was the taste of the age, and her own good taste pointed out, that a noble simplicity in all she wore was best suited to that graceful figure which required not the aid of dress to render it conspicuous.
If we cannot do justice to the beauty of Cava, how shall we be able to draw the picture of her mind! her excellent understanding, and her great soul, appeared in all she said and did; sincere, candid, open, her affection, where she once placed it, was unshaken; every virtue reigned in her heart; and as she excelled all in beauty, so was she allowed to surpass, in accomplishments and understanding, all the young nobility at Toledo.
It may be supposed the lovely Cava was a match for the first princes, both in Spain and the neighbouring countries; many of the heroes of the age sighed for her; but count Julian, her father, at the period we have taken up her story, was in Africa, at his government, and declared himself unwilling to listen to any overture of marriage for his daughter, till he should see her, which he had not done for near three years, and consulted her inclinations.
Count Julian idolized his daughter, and gave an evasive answer to those who wished his alliance, merely to avoid offending spirits he was most anxious to conciliate; for, in his own mind, he had long determined on a husband for his beloved child: and we shall see, in the sequel, by the choice he made, how dear her happiness was to his heart.
don Palayo’s sister, was from infancy the intimate and constant companion of
Cava; the difference of their dispositions only served to render them more
attached to each other. Cava was more serious than her friend; there was a
degree of melancholy in her character, that was relieved by the gaiety and
lively imagination of Favilla. This young princess was truly enchanting; she
was so beautiful, that when the Saracens beheld her, they cried “she was an
houri from the
“And her pure skin shone with such spotless white,
As dazzled the weak rays of human sight.”
Gay, lively, and innocent, Favilla enjoyed the passing hour; she communicated cheerfulness to all around her, for she never thought of future ills; she was beloved by all her youthful companions, but Cava was her chosen friend.
Her brother returned from banishment; he wondered at her improvement; he smiled at her lively wit; he was charmed with her conversation; he approved all she did; and she thought him the most perfect man she had ever seen. Favilla’s heart was untouched; she knew not yet what it was to love.
The Gothic princess had for some time been but too sensible to the merits of the prince Alonzo; what heart, not pre-engaged, could have resisted such a lover? and what woman was so suited to inspire love in the breast of Alonzo as the charming Cava? Continually in company with each other, the lovers wanted not opportunities for conversation and a communication of sentiment; the more intimately acquainted they became, the more they saw in each other to justify their mutual affection; yet still they feared some unforeseen chance might blast their hopes.
“My beloved Cava,” cried Alonzo, one day that they met in the gardens of the palace, “why are you so melancholy? have I offended you by my presumptuous love? I am sensible that the poor Alonzo, deprived of his birthright, and living a dependant in the court of Rodrigo, is not worthy of the exalted Cava, the heiress of count Julian; yet fate impelled me to declare my fondness, my admiration, my fixed, my eternal love. Forgive me, Cava; pity the distraction of my soul; despise me not, because my kingdom has passed into other hands, and I cannot lay an empire at your feet; had I the universe, it should be yours; for never can Alonzo know a joy independent of his Cava:” here the prince paused, and looking anxiously and timidly at Cava, almost breathless waited her answer.
“Alonzo,” cried she, regarding him with a look of peculiar tenderness, chastened by her modest and dignified manner, “Alonzo, from whence, I entreat you tell me, can such fears have place in your bosom? can you, for one moment, doubt the truth, and I do not blush to say, the affection of Cava? Ask your own heart, is there no happiness but on a throne? and let that heart answer the question for me also. I know, Alonzo, I am in the power of my father, count Julian; he can dispose of my hand as he pleases; but my heart is my own; I will away with female disguise; I am above those petty arts; I will confess that heart is yours; was it a thousand times more worth than it is, it would glory in bestowing itself on you. Oh, Alonzo! if I am destined to render light to you the loss of your kingdom, I shall think myself happier than was I seated on the first throne in the universe.”
Hearing this, the young prince could no longer suppress his rapture; he seized the hand of Cava, he pressed it to his lips, and vowed eternal love.
Cava suppressed his raptures, entreating him to be upon his guard, and give no suspicion of their mutual attachment.—“Wait with patience till the arrival of my father at the court: does he not dearly love you? does he not protect you with all his power? and may we not hope that he will lend an indulgent ear to our joint entreaties for his sanction to our love? He must know the whole,” cried she; “he must know it all from us; leave it not in the power of others to undermine us in his favour; I will hope every thing from my father; and oh, how sweet will it be to me, Alonzo, to bestow upon you those riches cruel fate deprived you of! may this great happiness be reserved for me,” added she: “and yet I fear; a sadness oppresses my spirits, that I can neither overcome nor account for; but do not suspect yourself the occasion of it,” cried she, smiling and giving him her hand.
This conversation, and the certainty Alonzo had of the affection of the charming Cava, spoke comfort to his heart, and he would not have balanced a moment the relinquishing the first empire in the world or the princess Cava. He saw her every day, and every day increased his love and admiration; her prudence, her good sense, and her delicacy of manners, repressed his fire: she pointed out the necessity they were under of throwing a veil over their mutual tenderness, till count Julian should sanction it. Alonzo was his nephew by marriage, and had always been dear to the countess Julian: this degree of consanguinity allowed the lovers an intimacy that, as strangers, might have been looked on with suspicion; often had Alonzo the delight of accompanying his adored Cava on those parties of pleasure which the queen, eager to make the happiness of all around her, was continually forming for the amusement of the court.
Egilone was particularly fond of the chase, and habited as a huntress, and attended by the young nobility of both sexes, she would sometimes spend whole days in the plains and mountains near Toledo, pursuing the wild inhabitants of the forest, even to their dens: graceful in all she did, she might have been taken for Diana, surrounded by her nymphs.
The courtiers vied with each other, on these occasions, in the splendor of their hunting dresses, and in the beauty, the swiftness, and the caparison of the horses on which they rode. The brave and noble prince Palayo, Alonzo, and most of the gallant youth at the court, attended the queen, not only to partake in her amusements, but to secure her person, and those of the lovely group that surrounded her, from any dangerous beasts of prey that might inhabit the thick forests, into which they often ventured.
Rodrigo, not partial to the sports of the field, seldom joined these parties; his mind was become too gloomy to find pleasure in a sylvan scene; the fragrant breath of the early morn, the sun rising in splendor over the distant hill, the cry of the deep-mouthed hounds, that echoed from the recesses of the surrounding mountains, had no power to cheer his dark soul: he sat in his palace brooding over plans of future crimes, or contemplating, without remorse or sorrow, those he had already committed.
day on which the queen hunted was almost a jubilee at
“With such a grace Hippolita bestrode
Her Thracian courser, and outstripp’d the rapid flood.”
Don Palayo, Alonzo, and the princesses Cava and Favilla, were constantly near the queen. The lovely Cava appeared to the utmost advantage in those hunting parties:
“Men, boys, and women stupid with surprise,
Where’er she passes, fix their wondering eyes;
Longing they look, and gaping at her sight,
Devour her o’er and o’er, with vast delight,
Her purple habit sits with such a grace
On her smooth shoulders, and so suits her face:
Her head with ringlets of her hair is crown’d,
And in a golden cawl the curls are bound;
She shakes her pointed jav’lin, and behind,
Her painted quiver dances in the wind.”
At the time we are now speaking of, Alphonso, the duke of Biscay’s son, and a dear friend of don Palayo’s, came on a visit to the court of Toledo, chiefly to see his friend. In the late reign, their common misfortunes had united them as strongly as their dispositions; and they had made a pilgrimage together, during the banishment of the prince Palayo: fortune now seemed to smile on Palayo, and Alphonso repaired to the gay court of Rodrigo, to congratulate his friend on his present bright prospects.
young Alphonso appeared at
Nothing could be more favourable to love than the amusements of the court, and those sylvan parties formed by the queen. During the chase, the young noblemen followed and protected the beauties they distinguished; assisted them in all their little distresses; and when weary of the chase, they chose some sequestered and shady spot, in a delicious grove, or by the side of a winding stream, in which they could repose after their labours, or partake of a repast, always ready on these occasions.
Alonzo and Alphonso, without imparting it to each other, always availed themselves of these opportunities of conversing with Cava and Favilla. Winged with pleasure flew those innocent and delightful days; the world produced not four more perfect, or more constant hearts; their enlightened minds were closely knit together; every moment, in its course, proved to the lovers that their lot was cast for life; and with secret and silent satisfaction they hugged their chains. The heart of the young duke was too easily read by don Palayo, for him not to perceive that Favilla was dear to his friend; he rejoiced at the discovery, and wished no happier fate for his sister; but prudence and a just pride dictated silence on the subject, till Alphonso should think it proper to divulge his own secret.
Every thing, at this period, bore the appearance of tranquillity at Toledo; if the crimes the king committed became publicly known, his creatures took care to silence the multitude. The great were awed, and dreaded tumult, and the loss of those comforts they enjoyed: whatever hatred they bore Rodrigo, they remained silent from prudence. Many were glad to relinquish part of their riches, to secure the rest from the grasp of the tyrant; and many in secret mourned the insulted virtue of their wives and daughters, without daring to resent or to complain, knowing that a sword was suspended over their heads.
Sometimes unfortunate rumours came to the ears of the queen: she listened to nothing against Rodrigo, though she secretly lamented the change in his nature, and the lose of that affection she had so highly prized, and which, unfortunately for her, she felt conscious was in its wane. With innocent amusements and useful occupation, she endeavoured to stifle fruitless sorrow, and to prevent secret jealousy corroding her heart: blind to the future, she rather hoped relief from it, than contemplated it with dread. Happy, thrice happy for the human race, all of whom are, from their cradle, doomed to endure the ills attached to life, that eternal wisdom has shut the book of fate: had we our wills, what dreadful pages should we turn over! who could sustain the sight? alas! the lot of man would be a hundred-fold more mournful than even the most unhappy find it: every moment of comfort, of pleasure, of joy, would be poisoned by the dreadful certainty of coming ill, and the miserable human race would sink into the grave without having lived one happy hour.
Upon a time, (unhappy clock
That struck the hour); it was in Rome, (accurs’d
The mansion where); ’twas at a feast; (oh! would
Our viands had been poison’d); or, at least,
Those which I heav’d to head.
BELONGING to the king Rodrigo, was a magnificent palace, not far from Cordova, built on the Tagus, and commanding the most beautiful and romantic views near that celebrated city. It had been repaired and beautified at a great expence by its royal master: the gardens which surrounded it were laid out in the best taste of the age; they were of a great extent, and filled with all that could gratify the senses; they were much frequented by the young nobility residing at the court: fine walks, shaded by chesnut-trees, and bordered with flowering shrubs; charming bowers, forming a shelter from the noonday heat; cool grottos, and clear fountains, that cast their pure waters into the air, and cooling it with their refreshing showers, rendered the grounds enchanting. Here the young females, educated at the court, often met to pass the sultry hours of noon; or, in the evening, to accustom themselves to that exercise that gave vigour and beauty to their forms; and in innocent sport they passed many a cheerful hour. The windows of the royal apartments looked to the most delicious and sequestered spots of these gardens. The apartments allotted to the young princesses Cava and Favilla opened on a terrace that overlooked this enchanting scenery; and they almost constantly repaired to the terrace, in the cool of the evening, to sport with their companions, or to enjoy each others society and conversation, free from intrusion.
One evening, on which there was to be a feast at this palace, they had both returned from the chase with the queen, who had withdrawn to her apartments to prepare for the banquet. The lovely friends, arm in arm, entered the garden to enjoy its fragrance for some moments before they attended to the labours of the toilet: they had walked and conversed, unconscious of any attention being paid to their motions, when Cava, seeing some fine flowers in bloom, and thinking they would adorn her beautiful hair, stooped to gather them; in rising, a branch of a tree caught her robe, and loosening a clasp, which confined it on her bosom, it suddenly fell from her shoulders and breast, and left them for a moment exposed to view; terrified she looked round; she hastily adjusted her disordered dress, and blushing scarlet, congratulated herself that Favilla only was witness to its derangement; and soon after the friends returned to their apartment, to prepare for the evening’s amusement.
Cava had, it is true, looked round with a fearful eye, and perceived no human being near her, except her friend; but unknown and unseen by her, the king had had a full view of all that passed from the windows of his apartment, at which, unfortunately for the young princess, he at that moment stood. He every day beheld Cava; he saw her in all her beauty; but till that moment her beauty, though the boast of Spain, had made no impression on the tyrant; he had a thousand times said, “she was lovely,” and had thought of her no more; but when the robe fell displayed to his astonished sight the perfect form and the polished ivory of her neck and shoulders, when he beheld the most beautiful bust in the world, alive and animated; when he saw the crimson veil that modesty threw over that lovely face and bosom, lest any eye but Favilla’s should have witnessed the disorder of her dress, the tyrant was enflamed with love, or rather with those bad passions he wished to disguise under that name. Rodrigo wondered at himself—he was astonished at his former blindness—how could he so long, he thought, have been insensible to such exquisite beauty? Egilone and the whole circle of his court sunk to nothing before Cava. From that hour a furious passion took possession of his heart; and with determined cruelty he secretly vowed that Cava should be his. In gloomy meditation the tyrant paced the chamber, till the hour that called him to the banquet.
The entertainment for the court was this evening of the most splendid kind; on the king’s entering the saloon, he found the flower of the young nobility surrounding the queen; his ardent gaze was soon fixed on Cava, as she stood in the circle, a miracle of beauty, where all were fair: she, the princess Favilla, with Alonzo, and the young duke of Biscay, were conversing gaily; Cava’s beautiful countenance was lit up with smiles and blushes, as Alonzo recited to her part of a letter he had, that morning, received from count Julian, and which she thought delicately glanced at Alonzo’s tenderness for her. The same idea had struck the young prince, and looks full of love and hope were exchanged between him and Cava; they suffered not a word to escape their lips that could intimate their feelings; yet this was, perhaps, the happiest moment of their lives, for hope placed many a glowing picture of future felicity before them, and they resigned their hearts to joy.
Rodrigo, for that evening, laid aside the gloom which had lately been so habitual to him; he was adorned with care, and looked a hero and a king. He was not now brooding over distant mischiefs; he forgot his thirst of blood, his avarice, and persecution: those beyond the precincts of his palace might, for a time, breath freely; the subjects of his empire might, for a little, sleep in peace. His victim was near at hand; he had laid the snare, but he was determined to strew it over with flowers, to conceal his cruel intentions under the appearance of affability and condescension; he smiled on the surrounding courtiers; he approached the amiable and lovely Egilone, with looks of feigned tenderness and pleasure, and expressed his admiration of her person and habiliments.
The queen received him with smiles, her heart delighted with the unusual softness of his manner towards her; she flattered herself with the returning love of the husband she adored; she pardoned all his follies; she even forgot his crimes, when she saw the change in his countenance and demeanour, and she secretly said, “My Rodrigo will return to virtue and to me; a crown has dazzled him for awhile; power has drawn him from the straight path; but his mind is too noble not to abjure its errors; Rodrigo will still fulfil the expectations of the nation; I shall have the supreme felicity of seeing him what he once was.” Thus reasoned with herself the virtuous and deceived queen.
The night was spent in the utmost festivity; the magnificent Gothic halls were illuminated with a thousand lamps, they resounded with the songs of the minstrels, and at intervals warlike music raised a martial spirit in the breasts of the brave youth that attended on the court: once Rodrigo called for a mournful song, for he knew “that pity melts the soul to love.” The minstrels chose the fall of Troy: the tyrant shuddered with involuntary horror at the vengeance of the Greeks. He stopped the song—he rushed to the banquet—a cloud passed over his manly countenance; but it was soon dispersed, and he gave life and animation to all around him. His wild eye was often turned towards Cava, who was placed with her young companions nearly opposite to where he sat; her hair was adorned with the flowers she had gathered in the gardens of the palace, and they bloomed upon her snowy bosom, so simply was she dressed; yet never had she appeared so exquisitely lovely; “her beauty hung upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.”
Alonzo contemplated her with rapture, and his fond imagination dwelt on future days of happiness with his Cava, till he felt secure of their being realized, and remembered not there was a dark hour in life.
The princess was not less sanguine in her hopes, and her whole soul was full of Alonzo. Scarcely could the king turn his eye from this fascinating object; the flowers with which she was adorned brought to his remembrance the first moment of his new born passion; they acted like magic on his depraved heart; and he vowed, within himself, the combined world should not prevent his possessing Cava: to inspire her with love was, however, his most ardent wish, and, when the banquet was at an end, he took an opportunity of approaching the princess, and taking her hand, he softly whispered in her ear, “Cava, to-night you have performed a miracle—you have conquered the Goths—their kingdom is laid at your feet.”
The innocent Cava believing that Rodrigo was only paying her a gallant compliment, and looking on him as her guardian and protector, smiled, blushed, and gaily answered, “She had no ambition to conquer all hearts; one faithful one,” and she cast down her eye, for Alonzo was at no great distance, “would in her mind be quite sufficient.”
Rodrigo now believed it the moment to discover his passion, and gently drawing her a few paces from where she stood, he whispered, “You have your wish, Cava; the king adores you; he cannot, will not live without you; he devotes his heart, his empire, all the remainder of his life to the incomparable Cava; return his passion, which will endure no coldness, no demur, and you shall see the crown laid at your feet.”
“If you are in jest,” cried the princess, snatching her hand from the enraptured king, and turning pale as death, “it is unfit for me to listen to such language, or you to make use of it, even in mirth: should you, forbid it, Heaven! be in earnest, you are a monster I would sooner fly from than from the most savage beast of the forest: in pity to me, in pity to yourself, repress such ideas, if indeed you have dared to give them place in your mind; and remember the princess Cava, the daughter of count Julian, cannot be insulted with impunity;” with these words she turned disdainfully from the king: he pursued her, hoping to soften her anger; but she wisely taking refuge near the queen, he had that night no further opportunity of molesting her, or of endeavouring to palliate his offence.
Rodrigo, humbled and enraged at the answer he had received from Cava, was still determined not to relinquish his pursuit; her virtue, her loftiness of mind, her sense, her spirit, were, in his eyes, additional charms; and deeply enamoured, he was fixed on corrupting her, was he to lose by it life and empire.
All the pleasure of the night was now lost to Cava; her cheek, which had first been pale, was now flushed with anger, from the resentment she felt for her insulted delicacy. If Alonzo spoke to her, she could scarcely answer him, or attend to what he said; and had he not believed she was fatigued, he would have supposed her in some distress.
Retired at a late hour to her apartment, she courted sleep in vain; restless and agitated, angry and full of fear, she knew not of what, she long traversed her chamber with agitated steps: she was willing to persuade herself the king had meant nothing; but his ardent looks had told another tale; and when she remembered them, her terror was extreme. She was at first tempted to make Egilone acquainted with the improper language the king had made use of, and entreat her protection from further insult; but she loved the queen, she was beloved by her, and she could not bring herself to plunge a dagger in her heart, or run the chance of for ever losing her affection, should she once know that she was unfortunately become the object of Rodrigo’s passion. After much deliberation, she determined to avoid the king, and never give him the opportunity of speaking to her in private: her father was soon expected from Africa, and she resolved with him to leave the court, when he should return to his government.
Some days elapsed, and the king found not a single moment to breathe his passion, so strict a guard had she on herself; but soon she had little reason to doubt his sentiments; letters on letters were delivered to her, by his creatures, as if from others; she returned them unread; she did not deign to take notice of Rodrigo; when obliged to be in his presence, she never turned her eye towards him, and was continually stationed near the queen: she conversed as usual with Favilla, Alphonso, and Alonzo; and if she was under the necessity of answering the king when he addressed her in public, the expression of her countenance was cold and disdainful, and she appeared to despise, not to fear him.
Still, burning with love and rage, Rodrigo sought every opportunity to find her alone. One evening, passing through an apartment of the palace, chance threw her in his way; she endeavoured to pass him, but he crossed her path, and insisted on being heard; constrained to listen to him, she stood proud in virtue, and with a look that almost chilled him; but he was too much accustomed to have submission paid to his will, to be long awed, either by the virtue or the frowns of a woman. He resorted to his usual arts of conquest; he knelt before her, he again declared his passion; indignantly she endeavoured to break from him; he caught her robe, to prevent her retreating, and then, in the most subtile language, painted the violence of his unconquerable love, the impossibility of his ever subduing it, and his determination of placing her on his throne, would she but grant him her heart.—“I will,” cried he, “repudiate Egilone, and raise my Cava to the summit of earthly grandeur; count Julian shall be the second in the kingdom, and equal to myself in power.” Seeing the princess recoil from him with horror, he started from the ground, and grasping her arm with violence, he cried, “If you are insensible to my love, you shall feel my power; Rodrigo will never sigh in vain; he shall find the means of humbling your proud spirit.”
“You have already humbled me,” cried the terrified princess, wrenching her arm from his grasp, and retiring as far as she could go, “you have already humbled me, by your scandalous and insulting offers: know that my virtue is above your power; that I detest you, and your infamous love, if love you call your hateful passion; the lowest subject in your dominions holds a higher place in the estimation of Cava than its boasted, but vile king. Withdraw,” added she; “suffer me to depart and molest me no more; conduct yourself towards me as a princess, as one under the protection of your amiable queen; pity for her feelings only, will prevent me from making her acquainted with the base conduct of him she so dearly loves: repent, and, I repeat it, cease to molest me;” saying this she again attempted to pass, and Rodrigo was, for a moment, so awed by the dignity of her look and manner, that he did not oppose her passage; and quitting him with a haughty air, she was quickly out of sight.
Though for the present baffled, the king was not daunted, nor was his evil intentions changed; again he persecuted the princess, again he solicited, prayed, entreated, flattered, threatened; it was all of no avail, he was shunned, scorned, detested; and the princess, in the utmost anxiety, expected her father’s arrival in Spain, determined on leaving the court. The king, finding himself despised by her to whom he had offered his crown, gave a loose to rage and jealousy; he dreaded a rival, but he saw no one he could deem such. His mind was now more gloomy than ever, and there was nothing too monstrous for him to undertake: he hated the charming Egilone, believing she was the bar to his happiness; every spark of virtue not quite dead in his savage bosom he soon extinguished—the appearance of indifference concealed the passions that inwardly devoured him, and “hushed in grim repose, he watched his evening prey.”
At this period Alphonso was obliged to leave Toledo; his father had recalled him, to send him on an embassy to France, and it was with sorrow he was forced to bid adieu, for some time, to his friend don Palayo, and the still dearer Favilla; he could no longer conceal his sentiments from the object of his affections, and making a tender declaration of the unfeigned love he felt, he found Favilla sensible of his merit, and willing, with her brother’s approbation, to yield her hand with her heart: don Palayo could wish no happier fate for his sister than a union with such a man as Alphonso; and the young duke, rejoicing in his successful love, promised to return, the moment his father would sanction his marriage and allow his absence.
The bitterness of parting was softened by the delightful hope of future felicity; the lovers parted, little dreaming of the sad hours they were doomed to pass ere they should meet again. Flushed with hope, happy from the impression he had made on Favilla’s heart, and leaving his own in her possession, the noble Alphonso, mounted on his favourite steed, passed the gates of Toledo, and soon lost sight of its towers: behind him he left a human fiend, who was soon to shake these stately towers to their foundation.
The base Rodrigo, by his artful conduct, had nearly lulled Cava’s mind to peace; he seemed to repent, and she flattered herself his repentance was sincere, and that he would molest her no more; but how unequal a match is innocence and truth for the arts and cunning of a villain! Rodrigo had his agents; he was on the watch to surprise Cava, for he had determined on her destruction: in an unfortunate hour he succeeded in finding her unguarded and alone; he destroyed her peace, he sullied her honour; but he had no power to corrupt her heart, or conquer her virtue.
When the distracted princess could free herself from Rodrigo—and now he had no wish to detain her, even his callous heart felt some remorse—she flew to her chamber, and there gave a loose to all the feelings of despair. She had snatched a dagger from the walls of the armory, through which she flew to reach her apartment; when she entered it, she secured the door, determined to end her life and misery at once: but Cava was a Christian; to rush unprepared and unbidden into eternity, appalled her; however wretched she was, her heart was innocent, was free of guilt; it was the crimes of others, not her own, that weighed her down. Sinking on her knees, and lifting her hands to Heaven, while a flood of tears fell from her eyes, she prayed for patience to bear her sufferings, and strength of mind to endure those ills it was not possible for her to avert.—“Let me not,” cried she, “commit murder, and sink my soul to perdition, to avoid the misery of a tortured mind; if I am wretched, I will be greatly so, and Rodrigo shall tremble on his throne.” She rose, she threw the dagger from her; for some hours her grief and agitation baffled her strongest efforts to suppress them: when she had acquired some command over her feelings, she opened her cabinet, and taking from it materials for writing, she sat down to compose a letter to her father, count Julian.
To write one was a task of the utmost difficulty; but in some time she did so, to her satisfaction. Her letter was long, and though wrote in a state almost of madness, was clear, and expressed the greatness of her soul, as well as her delicate feelings: it concluded with the following words:¾
“Would that the earth could open under my feet, and swallow up alive the wretched Cava, rather than she should be under the sad necessity of writing you such a letter, my lord and father; but who can revenge your child? who can repair the honour of your house, but you? come and sweep from the earth the man that has dared to insult a princess of the royal blood, and so deeply to injure count Julian in his child: let the world see, my father, that the punishment soon follows the crime – that the princess Cava was unfortunate, not guilty, and that her noble father revenged her.”
When the letter was finished, Cava felt herself more composed; how to send it she knew not, for she determined on concealing her wrongs till her father should take ample vengeance. Should Rodrigo become acquainted with her writing to the count, he would suspect the cause, and the consequences to her father might be fatal: fortunately her thoughts turned towards a worthy monk, father Anselmo, one of the most exemplary life and character, who was much about the queen, highly favoured by her, and had taken infinite pains in her education and Favilla’s. She immediately sent a trusty messenger to request his presence for a few minutes in her apartment. The good monk was not long in complying with her request, and Cava had endeavoured to compose herself before his arrival; still he found her in apparent distress, and he expressed his concern at seeing her unhappy.
“Can I be of any service to you, my child?” cried he; “why do I see you so dejected?”
“My good father,” returned the princess, without taking notice of his question, “you can be of the utmost service to me; but you must promise to be secret and expeditious in what you are to perform; on no other terms can I employ you.”
“As I well know your heart, my child, as I am sensible of its rectitude, and that you would not lead me to do wrong, I promise to perform your will provided, when I hear what it is, I shall not find any thing to condemn.”
Cava then informed the monk that she was desirous of conveying a letter to her father, count Julian, then at his government in Africa, and to convey it unknown to any human being.─ “It entirely concerns myself,” continued the princess; “it is a daughter’s letter to a tender and beloved father, laying open her whole heart to his view; you cannot, worthy Anselmo, believe there can be any thing wrong in that; and yet I confess to you, I would not, for the riches of the world, have that letter read but by count Julian himself: can you convey it for me in secret, and with safety?”
The monk mused some time, and then answered —“I can, my child, and I will do as you wish. I have a young friend, a lay-brother; him will I send with this epistle, about which you are so anxious; I could trust Jerome with my life; your father shall have the packet sooner than you imagine: but you are ill, my daughter; by the changes of your countenance, I see your mind is disturbed, and your heart heavy. Good-night; I wish not to indulge an idle curiosity, but I am not at ease on your account; my prayers shall be offered for you; good-night, my child.” Then taking the sealed packet from off the table, Anselmo slowly retired, looking anxiously at Cava, and blessing her as he departed. She could not speak; she had not the power to answer him; her heart was full, was breaking. The good monk feared to intrude by further questions: he closed the door, and the unhappy Cava was left to waste the remainder of the night in unavailing grief.
FATHER Anselmo was true to his promise; a very few hours saw the lay-brother he had mentioned to the princess on the road to the Straits, from whence he was to take his passage for Africa. Anselmo had the precaution to enclose Cava’s letter in one from himself to count Julian, the words of which ran thus: ¾
“NOBLE count Julian, I know not the contents of the letter I now convey to you; I received it from your amiable daughter, and her agitation on intrusting it to me, with her wish of perfect secrecy respecting it, assures me it is of the utmost import. I therefore send a chosen messenger, whom you, count Julian, may securely trust with a written or a verbal answer: with my prayers for your happiness, and that of your most excellent countess,
I am ever, noble count Julian,
The good monk had taken little repose; he had passed the night in dispatching his messenger; at an early hour in the morning, he repaired to the apartment of the Gothic princess, to inform her he had obeyed her commands. He was at first refused admittance by her attendant, on the plea of indisposition ¾ he was alarmed ¾ he earnestly desired to see the princess; and she, hearing it was Anselmo, gave orders to have him introduced.
On entering the chamber, the kind father was shocked to see the change a few hours had made in his beloved pupil: Cava was in a high fever, her flushed cheek, her sunk eye, her convulsed lip, her tremulous voice, declared her dangerous state, and the monk, who was skilled in medicine, terrified at her appearance, insisted on her swallowing a draught he hoped would compose her; for he knew to read the human heart too well not to be assured her indisposition proceeded from the mind; but where, thought he, is the medicine sufficiently powerful to be of use there? then, raising his hands and eyes to Heaven, he said aloud ¾ “Religion only reaches the sad heart; make use of it, my child, to calm those sorrows you are so careful to conceal.”
“I shall listen to your pious counsel, my good father,” replied the princess: “now tell me, I beseech you, have you performed your promise?”
“I have, my daughter; it is some hours since Jerome left Toledo; I accompanied your letter with a few lines from my own hand; and you may expect an answer as soon as it is possible to have one.”
Pleased with this assurance, Cava thanked the monk, and faintly entreated to be left alone: Anselmo withdrew, fearful of some impending misfortune, from seeing there was a mystery he could not develop.
We shall leave the good monk, and the chamber of the unhappy princess, and follow the steps of Jerome to the shores of Africa. Every thing conspired to render his journey and voyage safe and expeditious; and, in the shortest time possible, he reached the nearest port to the seat of count Julian’s government.
On arriving at the count’s palace, the young monk was instantly admitted to a private audience, and having only the letters to deliver into the count’s hands, immediately retired.
It is as little possible for the writer to describe, as for the reader to form an idea of the grief, the distress, the tenderness, the rage that by turns reigned in the breast of count Julian; he adored his daughter; he was proud of her beauty, and her virtues; he was a tender father, and had formed glorious prospects for Cava; he had determined to bestow her hand on the prince Alonzo, and looked to a future day to exalt him to that throne to which he might claim a right by birth, and which was so ill filled by Rodrigo.
The count was an able and cunning man; brave, capable of undertaking great things, difficulties turned him not from his pursuits; fearless of danger, yet ever on his guard, he excelled all in the art of feigning, and of concealing his feelings. Although now the outrage he had met with roused every passion of his soul, and that he vowed the destruction of Rodrigo, even at the expence of all Spain, yet for the moment he stifled his grief and rage, under the most placid appearance, in order the better to ensure a lasting and exemplary vengeance.
As soon as Jerome was sufficiently rested to set out on a second journey, the count gave to his care a paper addressed to father Anselmo, containing only these
“Worthy Anselmo, tell the beloved daughter of count Julian she may soon expect to see her father — that father whose tenderness will remain unabated for her to the last hour of his life; tell her also, she shall behold him in the temper most suited to her wishes.
The count did not long delay fulfilling this promise; animated by the most violent hatred to the man who had dared to tarnish the lustre of his house, and secretly breathing vengeance against the inhuman Rodrigo, he quickly regulated all matters relative to his government in Africa; and his mind, though torn with rage and grief, was entirely occupied in seeking the means of destroying the enemy of his house, and of his peace; and preparing to pay a visit to the court of Toledo, under the mask of friendship, without intimating to his countess the cause he had for grief, or the preparations he was privately making for vengeance by a descent on Spain, he bade her adieu; and she with delight saw him undertake his journey, as he promised to return with his daughter.
On count Julian’s arrival at Rodrigo’s court, he was received with all the honours due to his rank, and, in appearance, with the utmost friendship by the king. He found the princess Cava recovering from a dangerous illness; and he also found that she owed her life to the incessant care of Egilone and Favilla. Count Julian instantly perceived that the base conduct of the king was unknown and unsuspected; he would not trust himself to have much conversation with his daughter — he consoled her by his tenderness, and the hope of returning with him to Africa; he commanded her silence, and would not allow of her absenting herself from the court, for the short time he intended she should remain at Toledo.
With the appearance of the greatest openness and candour, the artful count gave the king the detail of his conduct in his African government. He well knew how to estimate his own services, and to flatter the vanity and ambition of Rodrigo; and he so entirely gained his confidence, that the deceived monarch communicated to him all the secrets of the state, and relied on him for his advice respecting the most important affairs.
This was exactly what count Julian wished, and what gave him ample means for vengeance; he assured Rodrigo that Spain had nothing to fear from internal commotions; but that it was of the utmost importance to furnish him with cavalry and arms, that he might prevent the Moors from making descents upon the coasts of Spain, and pillaging, as they were accustomed to do. The king consented to every regulation count Julian suggested; and the country was almost entirely stripped of arms and horses. When this was accomplished, the count thought only of quitting the kingdom, before his conduct should render him suspected: he had already contrived to remove Alonzo from the court. On his arrival at Toledo, he found this young prince in unfeigned grief at the dangerous illness of his beloved Cava; he met count Julian with all the warmth of affection he could have shown to a father; and the count, during his absence from Spain, had not lost any of the tenderness and esteem he had ever professed for the prince; but he most carefully avoided opening his heart to him, or, for the present, suffering him to come to the knowledge of any of his schemes.
To place Alonzo beyond the power of the king was necessary to the safety of the young prince; and before he intimated his intention of quickly returning to his government in Africa, he contrived to send him to Rome, on some affairs, he said, relative to that government; and he hurried the departure of Alonzo, that he and Cava might not meet. He dreaded any explanation between them: she had not yet recovered her illness, so as to allow of her appearing in public, and she was glad of any excuse to avoid seeing the king.
Alonzo could not proceed on his journey without intimating to count Julian his attachment to his daughter, and his anxious wish that he might not think him unworthy of her. He professed the most ardent love, and even avowed their reciprocal affection; and candidly repeated all the princess had said in the garden of the palace.
The count, always master of his countenance, and possessing a perfect empire over his passions, listened with placid attention to all Alonzo said, though at the moment, his inmost soul was shaken with rage and grief; he had always loved and admired the prince ¾ now compassion was joined to affection; and he inwardly vowed he would set him on the throne of Spain, or die in the attempt. Turning towards him, he gave him fresh assurances of his unbounded regard; telling him, his love for his daughter was a stronger hold on his heart than any thing else could be; that he had views for him beyond his belief; that at a future period he would enter on what had ever been his most ardent wish, and what he had no doubt of accomplishing. He allowed him to hope every thing respecting Cava; but desired he would wait with patience for his full consent, till he, the count, had brought all his schemes to bear, which at present must lie hid in his own bosom ¾ “I have much to do,” cried he, “before I can listen to the settlement of my child: you, Alonzo, must in a few hours quit Toledo for Rome; I would willingly keep you still with me, but at present it cannot be; I have business for you to transact in Italy. I shall soon leave Spain for Africa; you shall shortly hear from me, when I can appoint our future meeting; where it will be, I am not yet certain; but trust and rely, Alonzo, on your constant friend.”
The young prince, raised to the highest pitch of happiness by the kind behaviour of the count, threw himself at his feet, kissed his hand, and swore eternal fidelity and obedience to his generous protector. Count Julian, deeply affected by this scene, put as sudden a period to it as was in his power; and Alonzo retired to prepare for his journey.
Count Julian had still an arduous task to perform; it was to get leave from Rodrigo to return to his African government. The king either was, or pretended to be so attached to him, and to think him of so much consequence to the state, that he could scarcely bear his being a day from the palace: but as consummate a master of deceit as Rodrigo was, he found his equal in count Julian, who appearing very melancholy, and the king’s inquiring the cause, with seeming kindness, but with inward fear, lest that melancholy might proceed from the count’s resentment, should he have discovered how greatly he had injured him.
The wily count replied, “He was indeed melancholy from private distress; a messenger had that morning brought him a letter from the countess, who was dangerously ill; that he loved her too tenderly not to be wretched at the bare idea of losing her; that he feared the worst, from the account her physician had sent him; that the countess requested he would hasten to Africa, and, if he wished her to die in peace, to bring her daughter with him, that she might have the only satisfaction she could now enjoy in this world, that of seeing her beloved child, before she bid it an eternal adieu.”
The count acted his part so well, that the king believed all he said, and was surprised into a consent for his return, for a stated time; and he also gave him permission to carry his daughter with him. Rodrigo was afraid to refuse what provoked him to grant; and the count succeeded in all his schemes.
Cava soon heard from her father that she must instantly prepare for quitting Toledo; hearing that she was to do so, gave her all the pleasure she was capable of feeling, and she blessed the hour that should carry her from Spain. Alonzo was gone; but not without writing to Cava, for the count had prohibited an interview, to inform her of his conversation with her father, and the happiness and hope he felt from it. He entreated her, notwithstanding the count’s prohibition, to allow of his seeing her, for a few moments only, before his departure for Rome; and ended with every assurance of perfect and constant love.
When the princess received the letter, she knew the hand, and was agitated almost to fainting; she was even tempted to return it unopened; but she could not bring herself to make him so wretched, nor could she resist such a proof of Alonzo’s affection; she broke the seal, and, as she read, a shower of tears fell from her beauteous eyes, and she exclaimed, “Oh! my Alonzo, you must ever be dear to your miserable Cava. I cannot, I will not tear your heart in pieces, that heart I would not relinquish to be mistress of the universe; but I cannot, I will not see you; with my consent we meet no more. Oh! how cruel, how dreadful is the sentence! and must that inhuman sentence proceed from her to whom you are so infinitely dear? Alas! it must; we are both undone; and till your Cava finds a refuge in the grave, she will know no peace.”
The princess, determined on not admitting Alonzo to her presence, wrote the following lines in answer to his letter: ¾
“Cava is too ill to see Alonzo; she has received his letter, every word of which has spoken to her heart; she will preserve it as a treasure most dear to her; she entreats him to believe, that while she exists, he will always fill the place he has ever done in her affections; that to own he does so, will be her pride; and that though they may never meet again, her consolation, when her heart is most oppressed, will be the certainty of Alonzo’s love; and she will weary Heaven with prayers for his happiness and safety.
Several letters were written and committed to the flames before she could frame one she thought fit to send him. The prince would have received even a word with delight; he grieved for her indisposition, but, comforted by the certainty of her affection, and the assurances of the count that she would soon be restored to health, he left the court with no regret, but that of being removed to a distance from his tenderly-beloved Cava.
Favilla, finding that her friend was to accompany her father to Africa, was sincerely afflicted; they had not been separated for years; they were knit in the strictest bonds of friendship; and she almost mourned her departure as she would have done her death. The melancholy Cava endeavoured to turn Favilla’s thoughts to her own bright prospects, and the happy lot she hoped soon awaited her in her union with Alphonso; but Favilla’s was not a selfish mind, and all her own wishes being gratified, had not the power of hardening her heart. She saw her friend was wretched, and concealed even from her that grief that seemed to prey upon her health, and even threatened her life. Favilla, however, flattered herself that they should soon meet again, and that count Julian would return with his daughter to Spain, before her nuptials with Alphonso would take place.
This also the queen imagined she had settled with the count; for her attachment to Cava was so sincere, that on no other terms could she be persuaded to consent to her departure, than the count’s promise that his daughter should again be placed near her, and that his own return to Spain should no longer be delayed than was necessary on the countess Julian’s account. Alas! amiable Egilone, how severely were you doomed to mourn the fatal return of the count, and to shed tears of agony for those miseries it heaped upon you! But it is not our part to anticipate the story we relate; and we shall conclude this chapter with the departure of count Julian and the lovely Cava. She would have left the palace without seeing the king, had it been possible. That misery, however, she was necessitated to endure; but, placed between the queen and Favilla, he had no opportunity to address a word in private to her; and the princess supported herself with firmness and becoming dignity. She never looked at or spoke to the king, and only returned his compliments with an inclination of the head; tenderly affected by the sorrow the queen and Favilla expressed, her silence and tears were supposed to proceed from the pain she felt at bidding them and the other loved companions of her youth adieu; and the artful count Julian, dreading the end of such a scene, hurried her from the court, and a short hour saw her at some distance from Toledo. They had pursued their journey in silence, when count Julian, turning round, as they ascended an eminence, beheld the city, which lay beneath him in majestic beauty. Though his wrongs had made too deep an impression ever to be erased but by the blood of his enemy, yet his soul was softened when he reflected what might be the consequences of the war he was determined to wage with Rodrigo; and, with a sigh, fixing his eyes on the towers of Toledo, he repeated those lines from Homer, which had occurred to the brave Scipio when he beheld Carthage in flames.
“The day must come, the day decreed by Fates,
How my heart trembles while my tongue relates!
When thou, Imperial Troy, shall lowly bend,
And see thy honours fall, thy glories end.”
Conscience will be heard even by the worst of men; it often stings them almost to madness; yet it is a melancholy consideration how little it avails when the rein is given to the human passions, and when hatred, ambition, and revenge, warp the understanding, and stifle for a time the monitor within.
Count Julian mourned for a moment over the miseries he was about to bring upon his country; but that feeling was soon effaced by his ambition, and thirst of vengeance; and, flattering himself that his wrongs would excuse him to the whole universe for the part he was about to act, he revolved in his dark mind his dreadful plans, his deep-laid schemes; and made the utmost expedition to the sea-coast, from whence he embarked with Cava for Africa. Unfortunately for Spain, he met nothing to impede his progress, either by sea or land; and the sun that saw him quit his devoted country was not sunk below the horizon, when his foot pressed the shores of Africa.
Up rose the king of men with speed,
And saddl’d straight his coal-black steed;
Down the yawning steep he rode,
That leads to Helle’s drear abode.
* * * * * * * * *
Hie thee hence, and boast at home,
That never shall enquirer come
To break my iron sleep again,
Till Sol has burst his tenfold chain;
Never till substantial Night
Has resum’d her ancient right,
Till wrap’d in flames, in ruin hurl’d,
Sinks the fabric of world.
TO the north of Toledo, between two dark and almost inaccessible mountains, was a narrow and dismal valley, desert and uninhabited. No vegetation was to be seen there at any season of the year; and, except a few wild cork-trees, not a shrub could give shelter to the unfortunate traveller that might chance to pass that way. It was called the Enchanted Valley, and took that name from a palace that had been built, and remained there time immemorial. This palace was situate in the middle of the valley, and was rather an object of terror than gratification to the passenger. The tradition in Spain was, that it had been built by demons, who had secured and barred the entrance; and that whenever it should be opened, the empire of the Goths should end, and the ruin of Spain follow. This was so firmly believed by the people, that no prince who sat on the Gothic throne had as yet ever ventured to unbar the gates of this dismal palace; and its only inhabitants were birds of prey, and of ill omen, who formed their nests in its dark battlements, and moss-grown towers. The people trembled at the mention only of the black palace; and the shepherd would drive his flock a league round the mountains, rather than approach it; and so strong a hold had this superstition on the Spaniards, that even the most enlightened man in the country would have deemed it a crime to enter its walls.
About this time there had been some conversation held on the subject in the hearing of the king; and he who had never before felt a wish to approach the palace, though he had often seen it from the tops of the surrounding hills, was now seized with the most violent curiosity to explore its inmost recesses, and be himself a witness of what it contained. Rodrigo flattered himself that he should find within its walls treasures hidden, perhaps, by some former king; and so prepossessed was he with this opinion, that he was fixed in his determination of opening the palace, let the consequences be what they would; and he gave orders to a number of his courtiers and attendants to follow him.
Don Palayo, who respected the prejudices of the people, and was sensible that Rodrigo, by his bad conduct, and the indolent and luxurious life he led, was irritating them, and, perhaps, laying the foundation for his own ruin, made use of all his influence with his kinsman to prevent his committing so great a folly; but the ill-fated Rodrigo, urged on by his evil genius, listened not to the advice of his friend. He was a king, he had power, and while he had it, he would be obeyed.
To the black palace in the enchanted valley, then, Don Palayo, and a number of his courtiers were forced, unwillingly, to attend him; and, deriding the folly of his people, and pursued by their curses, Rodrigo rode foremost of the party he had commanded to assemble, highly elated with the hope of finding an immense treasure in the melancholy spot.
The entrance to the valley was narrow and steep; scarcely a tract of what was once a road remained, to lead them by various turnings to the dreary mansion. When at a short distance from the palace, a torrent roared across their path, and Rodrigo, plunging into it, called aloud to those who were not cowards to follow him. Don Palayo, and a few more, obeyed his stern order; but the chief part of his retinue remained on the bank of the river, astonished at the temerity of the king, and those that accompanied him, for they were now in the middle of the stream, struggling with the mountain torrent, and indebted to the strength and activity of their steeds for reaching the opposite bank in safety. Here Don Palayo again intreated the king to forbear, and to seek another path out of the valley, to lead them back to Toledo, and by which he might avoid repassing the river. Rodrigo ridiculed his fears, laughed at the belief of supernatural beings, and pursued his way.
The day was dark and lowering, and thick clouds were gathering on the tops of the mountains, and foretold a coming storm, just as they arrived at the gates of the black palace, for its appearance might well entitle it to that name, as it was constructed of a dark marble, hewn from the surrounding hills. At the back was a steep mountain, which almost hung over the castle, and seemed to threaten its battlements with destruction; to the left was a deep morass, the abode of toads and adders; to the right was a piece of ground, which had the appearance of a ruined garden; and a spacious court, waste and dreary, lay in front; iron gates, through which there was a full view of the palace, were locked and strongly barred. The king alighted from his horse ¾ he carefully inspected them ¾ he was amazed at their strength, and the belief of a hidden treasure impressed itself more forcibly on his mind; and, in idea, he saw himself the richest sovereign in the world. He ordered those that had followed him to force the locks, and unbar the gates. It was attempted, and found impossible. Again Rodrigo examined them, and was still more convinced of their strength; but the obstinate king declared he would wrench them from their hinges; this, after infinite labour, was effected, and the gates falling into the inner court, the noise resounded like distant thunder from the surrounding mountains. The rash Rodrigo was now before the entrance of the castle; the immense folding doors were to appearance as strongly locked and barred as the outer gates had been; and the narrow Gothic windows were placed so high in the walls, it was impossible to have a view through them of any thing within. Again the king commanded the forcing of the doors, though it should be a work of some hours. The hinges did not yield as those of the gates had done; they had to file the iron bars that crossed those doors, and still they were secure; the locks defied the strength of men; they could neither be forced or broken. In despair and anger, Rodrigo turned to mount his steed, and delay to a more favourable moment the gaining admittance to the forbidden palace, when he was struck by the sight of an immense horn, hung by an iron chain, near the entrance; it instantly occurred to him that the castle had an inhabitant; and, darting towards the spot where the horn hung, the fearless king seized it, and, applying it to his mouth, he blew with all his might. The blast was tremendous; it seemed to shake the ground on which he stood; a loud and mournful noise passed through the courts, and even Rodrigo felt alarm, for, at the moment, the palace doors of themselves flew open, and discovered a large and gloomy hall surrounded by dark pillars. The king, with don Palayo at his side, now entered the hall; the rest followed, astonished, and almost confounded, for the fabric trembled beneath their feet; and they heard the bursting open of every door in the same instant. A hurricane ensued, loud winds whistled through the apartments, thunder rolled tremendously over the castle, and the blue lightnings flashing, at intervals, through the high Gothic windows, showed more visibly the darkness, dreariness, and desolation of the place. Rodrigo, unsheathing his sword, cried ¾ “Come on; let this be the enchantments of men or devils, I will search every apartment in this cursed mansion, till I find what they contain.” ¾ Then striding across the hall, and calling to his followers to advance, he mounted a broad and gloomy staircase, that led into a spacious chamber, the walls of which were entirely covered with armour and warlike weapons; they seemed bright, and were placed in regular compartments; and, as the lightning was attracted by them, and danced upon their surface, this immense saloon was brightened by the sudden flashes of light. No article of furniture was visible, but in the middle of the apartment was placed a large pedestal of marble, which supported a coffin, made of iron, ribbed with polished steel. The lid was fastened by strong clasps, and seemed to defy the strongest arm to open. The king, weary of endeavouring to force them, ordered his attendants to break the coffin to pieces; but scarcely was the attempt made, when the lid of itself flew open, and from the coffin rose the figure of a handsome Moor, in the habit of his country. He spoke not, but leaping on the floor, he held up a black scroll to the king, on which, in the Latin language, were written, in letters of fire, the following words: ¾
“Spain shall soon be conquered, and destroyed, by a nation, whose inhabitants resemble in figure, colour, and dress, the man you see before you.”
“This is priestcraft,” cried the undaunted king; “I cannot be deceived; I will not be thus trifled with; man or devil, you shall not escape my sword.” ¾ And he rushed forward to plunge his weapon in the breast of the figure that stood before him; but his foot slipped on the marble pavement, and before he could recover himself, the Moor had leaped upon the coffin; it was instantly surrounded with a blue flame, and the lid closing with a tremendous noise, loud shrieks issued from different parts of the saloon, and appalled all but the king, who would again have attempted to force open the coffin, to discover, he said, the cheat intended to be put upon him; but terror had so entirely overcome his followers, that, on looking round, he saw no one near him but the brave don Palayo, who again entreated him to quit this abode of horror.
“If it be priestcraft, as you call it,” said don Palayo, “it is quite impossible we should now discover it; you know not to what dangers you may be exposed in such a place as this; cunning, and a well-laid scheme, may render our valour of little avail: be persuaded, Rodrigo, by your friend, and let us return to Toledo.”
The king hesitated for a few moments, and then turning to the prince, with a scornful and disdainful smile, he answered ¾ “I little expected to have found a coward in don Palayo.”
“A coward!” cried the brave Palayo, while a burning blush spread over his cheek, and anger flashed from his eye ¾ “a coward!” placing his hand on his sword ¾ “Had any one but the rash and obstinate Rodrigo joined such a word to the name of Palayo, that word should have been his last. Think not Rodrigo, that fear prompts me to advise your quitting this mansion; the brave are wary, and on their guard, when danger is near; rashness is no proof of courage. I have as little apprehension of supernatural beings as you can have; the guilty only can tremble before them; the good are under the protection of Heaven.”
“Let the guilty Rodrigo tremble then,” said a hoarse and discordant voice, that seemed close to them, though nothing was visible.
Don Palayo unsheathed his sword, and preceded the king to the door of the saloon; Rodrigo followed in gloomy silence, and they descended the stairs together. The thunder had ceased to growl, the lightnings to glare, and in the lower hall it was only darkness visible. Rodrigo passed slowly through it; he lingered as he passed, and cast his wild and haggard eyes around; then pointing beyond the pillars that encircled the hall, he asked don Palayo if he beheld nothing in the distance? “for I see,” cried the king, “dark and gigantic shadows fleeting behind the pillars; let us pursue these phantoms, and discover the trick.”
“Let us rather quit this accursed place,” answered the prince, advancing to the entrance; “I perceive another storm approaching; we shall do wisely to return to Toledo.”
He had scarcely uttered the last words, when the same voice that had addressed Rodrigo in the upper apartment again said ¾ “Rodrigo, thy kingdom is departed from thee; thy reign has been one continued crime, and thy punishment is near,”
The king started ¾ he turned round ¾ again he was prepared to strike, had any form met his eye; but those fleeting shadows were either the coinage of his own brain, or were dissolved in air the moment they were seen. A profound silence now reigned through the palace; and left almost in total darkness, the king reluctantly pursued the steps of his friend, and quitted the gloomy building. He was scarcely beyond the threshold, when the doors all closed of themselves, with as fearful and tremendous a noise as they had opened. The affrighted attendants were in the outer court, waiting the return of the king, and dreading his anger at their want of courage; but Rodrigo’s thoughts were otherwise employed. He and don Palayo, in silent astonishment, mounted their steeds, that trembled under them, and left a spot, where their curiosity had been raised to the highest pitch, and was still ungratified; for what to make of all they had seen and heard, they knew not. A sad impression, however, remained on the king’s mind, impossible for him, with all his daring courage, to shake off.
He departed from the castle, shocked, but not reformed. On coming to the river, they found it perfectly safe to pass; the swell that had made it so dangerous was fallen, and their attendants were still waiting on the opposite bank. Once passed the river, the king and prince, without speaking or commenting on what they had seen or heard, rode with speed towards Toledo, where they found the queen in anxious expectation of their return.
This last act of Rodrigo gave the greatest disgust to his subjects; they looked upon him as forsaken of Heaven, and as one devoted to destruction; and his numerous enemies suffered not so fair an opportunity to escape them, of turning the hearts of the multitude against him.
In a very short time the king was sensible what a folly he had committed; he felt how much he had to fear from the hatred of the people; he repented his crimes, but it was too late; the time was past; he was soon to sustain the utmost malice of his fate, with the dreadful aggravation that it was the just punishment for his abandoned life.
Then led the way
To light him to his prey,
And like another Hellen,
She fir’d another Troy.
WE shall now turn our eyes to Africk, and enlighten ourselves on what is passing there.
The countess Julian, notwithstanding what her husband had propagated in Spain of her illness, was in perfect health, and ignorant of all the count’s schemes, his cause of vengeance, and the insult her family had received from Rodrigo. She heard with delight that her lord and daughter were landed, and flew to receive them with every demonstration of joy. She was met by her husband with pleasure, and feigned composure; by Cava, with tears, embraces, and delight, mixed with the deepest sorrow. The countess, who dearly loved her daughter, was thunderstruck; her appearance was exactly the reverse of what she expected; and, though nothing could destroy the wonderful beauty of the princess, or take from the loveliness of her face and form, yet that face and form, overwhelmed with grief, was like the sun when dark clouds obscure it, and only, at intervals, can its refulgence delight the eye, or glad the heart of man.
Cava’s recent illness was declared by her cautious father as the cause of her present dejection, and the fond mother sought every method to restore cheerfulness to her beloved child. She succeeded; sadness was in some measure banished from the countenance of Cava, who strictly obeyed her father’s injunction of silence.
The court of count Julian was gay and splendid; and many entertainments had been prepared to celebrate his return, and the arrival of the princess. The count, pleased with every thing calculated to conceal his preparations for war, was himself anxious to promote the pastimes of the court, and invited some Moors of the highest rank to join in these amusements.
The fame of the princess Cava’s beauty, and the gracious reception the count and countess Julian gave to strangers, drew many brave and gallant Moors to their public shows and entertainments; and now the count found it of the utmost consequence, towards the furthering of his schemes, to conciliate the Infidels. He therefore made a magnificent feast, to which he invited Musa, the Moorish governor under the caliph of Damascus. With Musa came his own son Abdalesis, and also Aleanzar, son to the caliph. This young prince had been entrusted to the care of Musa by his father, who was desirous he should be made acquainted with Africa, as he intended, at a more mature age, to give him the government of that province.
The Saracens were at this period rapidly overrunning almost all the countries of the known world, and their troops were looked upon as invincible.
This was the moment count Julian chose to inform his countess of his most secret thoughts. He had hitherto feared her love for Spain, and her amiable and Christian disposition, would lead her to endeavour at frustrating his plan for the conquest of the country; he feared she would recoil at the calling in the Infidels to his assistance, and the shedding of so much Christian blood as must follow the execution of his plan; for although sister to the late king Vitiza, and to the worthless Oppas, she was not allied to them in vice, but was looked upon as one of the most amiable and excellent ladies of the age. The artful count, who was well versed in the human heart, and, by the depth of his own understanding, knew how to govern individuals as he did the multitude, soon impressed the weeping countess with a sense of the propriety of his conduct. He declared, his only wish was to efface the stain Rodrigo had dared to throw upon the honour of their house, and also to avenge her own ill-used family. “Shall we,” said the count, “sit down tamely till the wretch tramples us in the dust? it shall never be; I have withdrawn your nephew Alonzo from the grasp of the tyrant; and I am determined to place him and our beloved Cava on the Gothic throne, or fall in the attempt: but my child shall first be avenged,” cried count Julian, rising in fury from his seat; “this arm, I trust, shall lay the base Rodrigo low. Cava shall again smile; Cava and Alonzo shall yet be happy.”
Thus reasoned, and thus hoped count Julian, and soon persuaded the countess that his conduct was what it ought to be, considering the injuries that had provoked it; and she flattered herself that at a future day she should see those she so dearly loved reign over a country they should render happy by their virtues; and with this flimsy covering did the deluded countess conceal from herself the ambition that lurked in her heart; and a few days saw her a zealous advocate for all the count’s measures.
Soon count Julian dispatched a messenger to Rome, desiring the prince Alonzo would, with the utmost expedition, join him at his government in Africa; but he forbore assigning any reason for this order. The young Alonzo having received the mandate, instantly prepared to leave Rome; he knew that his adored Cava was in Africa, and that knowledge accelerated all his preparations; to be near her, was a happiness he could not forego for a moment, if once within his reach.
As his journey and voyage will take a considerable time, we must relinquish the pleasure of travelling with this amiable prince, and make acquaintance with the Moors at the court of count Julian.
Think not, my fair readers, that I am going to place before you the figure of Othello, as you have seen him represented on the stage. The Moors were not black; their dark complexions were not disgusting; they were a fine people, well formed, active, and animated.
Abdalesis and his friend the prince Aleanzar were in the bloom of youth, both remarkably handsome, skilled in all martial exercises; and educated at a court, their manners were of a superior cast.
Abdalesis was brave, generous, humane, and felt a partiality for the Spaniards. His thoughts were turned to war, when war called him to the field; in peace, young as he was, he assisted his father in the regulation of his government. The fair had little power over his heart; he admired beauty, but refused to wear its chains.
Aleanzar had many amiable points in his character; he was brave, magnificent, and generous; he was candid and sincere; but his passions were wild and ungovernable ¾ if he commanded, he must be obeyed ¾ attempt to controul him, he was a lion ¾ yield to his power, he was soft and gentle as a lamb ¾ if his eye could flash with fury, it could also melt with love. He delighted in the company of women; and his worst fault was too great an inclination for luxury and pleasure.
Many other gallant Moors came in Musa’s train; but as they are not necessary to our story, we pass them over in silence.
Amidst a scene of dissipation and pleasure, count Julian found a thousand opportunities to work upon the mind of Musa, to assist him in his attempt to overturn the Spanish government. He represented Rodrigo to him as a wretch not fit to wield the sceptre; as a man hated by the people, and easily to be overcome, as he was now unprovided with the requisites for war, men, arms, and treasure, his luxuries and vices having exhausted his kingdom. The count assured Musa, that most of the nobles of the land would join his standard, the moment he should erect it. He endeavoured to persuade Musa that he should find his advantage in lending him his assistance; and that it would also pave the way for the Moors, in any conquest they might wish to make in the other countries of Europe. Nothing could be more gratifying to the Saracen than the overture made by the count; but Musa was a wary and subtle man, and being a Mohametan, he feared to trust a Christian, or to enter into his plans, till he knew the caliph’s pleasure; assuring count Julian of his friendship, and declaring his own wishes were to assist him, he proposed sending to his master for his orders. This would take some time. Count Julian thought it most prudent to agree to it; but did not in the least relax in his preparations for a descent on Spain, nor in his efforts to attach to his party all the disaffected in the kingdom. On his way to Africa, he had met many of the heads of the conspiracy, who had all firmly bound themselves to follow his fortune.
Hunting parties, sham fights, in which Moors and Christians joined, and exercising their troops, covered the designs of count Julian and Musa, while they waited the decision of the caliph.
The countess, who presided at the banquets, and all those entertainments she so well knew how to render agreeable, delighted her noble guests by her manners, and the grace with which she received and entertained them. Cava was seen with wonder; Musa and Abdalesis admired her beauty, and respected her for that air of reserve and modesty which she always wore, and which was particularly pleasing to the Moors. But Aleanzar, from the first moment he beheld her, was her slave. Her astonishing loveliness surprised even him, who was accustomed to see the most beautiful women of the east. Aleanzar, in those he had approached, found willing slaves, who played off all their little arts to allure him, who flattered, caressed, and often disgusted him. Contrasted with them, Cava appeared a divinity: possessed with the most violent passion for her, he dared not approach her but with respect, so fearful was he of offending; for Cava, instead of endeavouring to attract the admiration of the young prince, shunned it. She modestly shrunk from adulation and flattery, and avoided meeting those eyes that were continually turned, with ardour, on her perfect form. But Cava could not always free herself from the attentions of Aleanzar, who found many favourable opportunities to divulge his passion. She endeavoured to suppress it, by assuring him he never could meet a return: this wrought no change in Aleanzar; the coldness with which he was received quenched not the fire that inwardly consumed him; he saw himself rejected by the only female he had ever truly loved; his own vanity, and the education he had received, persuaded him he could never meet such a mortification. His vexation was extreme, but his love was greater than his anger; and, in justice to the Moor, we must acknowledge he aimed at gaining Cava’s affections; and, although she was a Christian, intended placing her on his throne. Aleanzar, finding he could gain nothing on the heart of the Gothic princess, while he remained at count Julian’s court, cautiously concealed from all but the lovely object herself, his fond wishes; and secretly planning a scheme, which, he hoped, would secure him the hand of her to whom he was devoted, he became less ardent in his manner; and though particular in his attentions to Cava, was not exclusively so. Abdalesis rallied him on his passion for the fair Christian; he was silent; he even refused him his confidence.
At the expected time, the caliph’s answer to Musa arrived; and the Mahometan governor told the count, with unfeigned pleasure, that he was, for the present, allowed to assist him with some troops; adding, that he would send him more, should he be able to make good his footing in Spain.
This was exactly what count Julian wished; blinded by ambition, and the passion of revenge, he not only accepted, but anxiously sought the fatal assistance of the Moors; and reflected not a moment on the misery in which it might involve his country.
Oh! man, inconsiderate, short-sighted man, what crimes, what afflictions, might be spared to the world, did you not suffer your passions to tyrannize over your cooler reason, and, at the moment you feel your own misfortunes so acutely, allow your hearts to harden to the miseries of all around you! Alas! how painful is it to take an unprejudiced view of the human heart! and how true what one of our best poets has said¾
“How high, how low, how wonderful is man!”
But to return to our story ¾
Every thing respecting the descent on Spain being adjusted between count Julian and the Moorish governor, Musa, with Aleanzar, Abdalesis, and the other noble Moors, who had attended them, returned to his government, from whence he sent a hundred horse, and five hundred foot, to count Julian, to accompany him into Spain.
The count had no sooner obtained this reinforcement than, taking an affectionate leave of his wife and daughter, he took his way to the coast, accompanied by all the forces he could command. He embarked them on the African side of the Straits, and instantly set sail for Spain, and safely landed at that spot we now call Gibraltar.
Before count Julian left Africa, he had assured the countess he would send for her and Cava, as soon as he had secured his footing in the country, and should have in his possession a place proper for their reception. The lovely Cava hung on his neck, and, weeping, sent up a prayer for her dear father’s safety. He tenderly embraced her, vowing he would amply avenge her wrongs, and hurl Rodrigo from his throne. The princess started; she repented she had ever wished for vengeance on the king, when it must involve so many in sorrow. The misfortunes that must overwhelm the amiable Egilone, struck like ice upon her heart; and she cried, “Oh! my father, protect the unhappy queen; defend her, suffer her not to be in every way a victim to the crimes of Rodrigo. ¾ Oh! Egilone, kind and beloved friend, is it my hard lot to be the unwilling cause of misery to you? I would avert it from you with the last drop of my blood, had I the power.”
Count Julian, affected by his daughter’s grief, which rendered her a thousand times more amiable in his eyes, comforted her in the best manner he could, and consigned her to the care of the countess, entreating them both to support their spirits, hope happy news from Spain, and, in every event, depend on his valour and his honour.
He waited not for a reply, he had no time to lose; and he dreaded more to combat the tenderness he now witnessed, than to meet the fiercest foe in the field.
He had for some days expected Alonzo; the young prince was not arrived, and he now left strict orders that he should follow him to Spain without delay.
Count Julian had not deceived himself with vain hopes of success. He was soon master of the small islands close to the Straits; and all appeared so favourable for his expected conquest, that Musa shortly sent to his assistance Tariff, his bravest and most experienced general, with twelve thousand of the best Saracen troops.
While the count lingered on the coast for their arrival, hoping, as soon they should land, to overrun all Audalusia, a vessel was put into the port by stress of weather; and the count going himself to inspect it, he was not a little surprised to find the prince Alonzo, with his attendants, on board. The captain had not been able to make the African shore, the wind having driven the vessel, with fury, in a contrary direction. This the count looked on as a happy event, and believed it augured well for his cause. The prince Alonzo rejoiced at this unexpected meeting, but was greatly astonished at finding count Julian in arms against Spain, assisted by so great a multitude of Moors. The count desired he would land, and go with him to his camp, where he should receive every information on the subject; saying, where they were, was no place for discussion. Alonzo obeyed in silence and surprise. A sad presentiment oppressed his heart; he could not account for those fears that presaged something fatal; and, when alone with the count, he entreated he would disclose the cause of his hostility to his own country.
Count Julian, with much solemnity and sorrow, laid open to the young Alonzo the inmost secrets of his heart, his cause of grief, and thirst of vengeance.
To describe the feelings of the prince, is quite impossible; his grief, his rage, his agony, knew no bounds; to his admiration of Cava, was added pity, and every soft and compassionate feeling that finds place in the heart of man.
Count Julian, the artful count Julian, let the first burst of grief subside, and then asked the prince ¾ Was he not willing to assist in overturning the tyrant?
The young and amiable prince, embracing the count, cried ¾ “Oh! my father, for such have I always found you, such you must ever be to me, teach me to fight with glory by your side ¾ lead me where I can encounter that monster, so fatal to my house; and then shall I willingly resign life, in the bed of honour.”
“Talk not of dying, my son,” cried count Julian; “you shall mount the throne of Vitiza, your grandfather, when our oppressor is laid low ¾ rouse yourself from this lethargy of grief, and think of nothing but your great revenge.”
Alonzo’s peace was gone; he wished not for the throne promised him by count Julian; all earthly grandeur, all worldly gratification, sunk to nothing in his imagination; but his soul was alive to glory; that, and the desire of revenge, for the present swallowed up every other passion. The count found him a willing assistant, full of energy, and paying such implicit obedience to his orders, that he soon looked on him as more useful than any of his veteran generals with the Spanish troops that joined him, and the large reinforcement that the one-eyed Tariff brought him, (for this general is called so in history, from his having lost an eye). The count finding himself in force, overrun a great part of the province of Andalusia.
Soon the disastrous news reached Toledo, that count Julian had rebelled, and not trusting to the number of the Spaniards that had joined him, had landed Moorish troops at the Straits, who were commanded by one of the most able generals belonging to the Infidels.
Rodrigo was roused from the lap of luxury; though sunk in vicious pleasure, his mind still retained something of its former greatness; and, shaking off his effeminacy, he consulted those nobles that adhered to him, and made the most active exertions to send an army into the field, under his kinsman Sancho. He hoped, at least, to stop the conquests of the rebel, and his infidel troops, till he could rouse all Spain in its own defence.
Sancho, with his army, arrived in Andalusia. He supported himself against the enemy for some time, and was prudent enough to avoid a general engagement. But count Julian, at the head of the disaffected, and Tariff, commanding the fierce and well-disciplined Saracens, were too much for the brave Sancho; who, often rallying, displayed great valour, but was at last vanquished in a general engagement his skill could not avoid, and sunk under the happier fortune of the Moors.
Alonzo, who fought near count Julian, and had twice that day saved his life in battle, regardless of his own, did wonders; to his arm was given the honour of Sancho’s death, which decided the fate of the Spanish army, that, at the termination of the contest, fled in every direction. The Moors cried out, that Mahomet had sent Alonzo to their aid.
The victorious troops were not idle; they did not sit down satisfied with their conquest; they covered the whole country; they penetrated into the next province, and destroyed all before them: at last they made themselves masters of Seville, which became an easy prey; her walls were in ruins, and she was without troops.
Here we shall leave the conquerors, to repose after their bloody toils, and to plan future schemes of war and havoc, and the scattered and broken forces of Spain to rally round the throne, while we again pass the Pillars of Hercules, and inquire what is transacting in Africa, at the palace of count Julian.
Care selve beate,
E voi solinghi e taciturni orron,
Di riposo e di pace alberghi veri,
O quanto volontieri
A rivedervi itorno.
COUNT Julian having made, as we have seen, so strong a league of amity with the Moorish governor, had no suspicion of any treachery on the part of the Infidels; and so infatuated was he, and his thoughts so entirely given up to his scheme of making himself master of Spain, that had Musa desired it, he would willingly have trusted his African government to his care during his absence. As it was, the count left but few Christian troops to defend his province, should it be attacked; and his own castle had only a small number to guard it, which was relieved every morning.
The castle itself was situate at a short distance from the town, at the foot of that magnificent mountain that lies in view of Gibraltar. It was a delightful residence, sheltered from the burning south by the high mountains with which it was surrounded. Delicious gardens, well planted, and watered by clear mountain streams, enclosed the palace; and the inequality of the grounds gave a beautiful variety to this enchanting abode.
The countess Julian, pleased with its romantic scenery, had added to its natural beauties by her exquisite taste; and here the melancholy Cava spent much of her time, seeking the most sequestered spots, and often penetrating the dark recesses of the groves, whose gloom “accorded with her soul’s sadness.” She found her only pleasure in retracing the happy days she had passed with her Alonzo; and she gave showers of tears to her departed felicity. She was conscious of her father’s intentions of placing her, with this amiable prince, on the Gothic throne; but her resolution was taken; she would not grieve her parents, by, at present, counteracting their wishes; and she left it to time to develop her intentions.
During these solitary rambles, her pious mind raised itself to that heaven she looked up to for future happiness; the world, and all its vanities, faded to her view; she contemplated the insufficiency of all earthly enjoyments, and the little power they possessed of conferring permanent felicity. In her was united every thing that mortals call blessings; she had rank, riches, exquisite beauty, and understanding superior to most of her sex, yet was rendered miserable by the crimes of others. She thought of Alonzo ¾ her tears redoubled. ¾ “I see,” said she to herself, “this world is not a place where even virtue can find peace. Alas! might we not lose our eternal peace, were all the wishes of our hearts gratified! ¾ how soon should we be lost in worldly pleasure! ¾ how soon should we forget that there was any thing beyond the grave! misfortune only points out to us the beauty of that country to which all are travelling, which the happy here fear to reach, the unfortunate pant to attain. And is it,” cried Cava, “so difficult to travel that road, which leads to such superior bliss? ¾ is it so difficult to pass a few years in the practice of virtue, to be so highly rewarded, as our holy religion tells us we shall be? Oh! may I,” she cried, raising her eyes and her pure heart to Heaven, “may I obtain a place in those celestial regions, should it even be purchased with tenfold sufferings more than I have yet endured! Alonzo, oh Alonzo, am I fated ardently to desire never to see you more!”
Cava, in these effusions, relieved her full heart of much of its woe, during her solitary walks; and she endeavoured to conceal her real feelings from the countess, fearful of making her unhappy. She knew that Alonzo’s arrival was every hour expected, and she dreaded it more than death. At length, a letter from count Julian relieved her fears of any sudden interview. He informed the countess of her nephew’s accidental arrival in Spain ¾ of their first meeting ¾ of Alonzo’s bravery ¾ his attachment to their cause ¾ and of their having penetrated even to Seville. For a time, Cava’s sorrows were lulled to sleep; she heard of the fame of her hero ¾ she saw him crowned with laurels ¾ her father was safe, he was triumphant ¾ and self was lost in the gratification she felt at the brilliant prospects of those she most loved on earth. Cava viewed all this as from another world. She wished not to be a partaker in any thing here, and she felt like a departed spirit, hovering round those who had once been the dearest objects of her love.
The countess Julian, completely occupied by all that was passing in Spain, saw little company at her castle; and was chiefly employed with her domestic concerns, and writing and receiving letters from her lord. She and Cava spent most of their evenings together; and always parted at night, in full security of the safety of the castle.
One evening that they remained together rather later than was their custom, the countess had just dispatched a messenger to Spain, and, weary from the labour of writing, and making up her letters, had thrown herself on a sofa, and entered into a conversation with her daughter, on count Julian’s intention of placing her, with Alonzo, on Rodrigo’s throne ¾ “When the tyrant is destroyed, my child,” cried she, “I shall have the felicity of seeing you in the possession of all the world can give.”
“Never, my mother,” returned Cava, “never will you behold your daughter on that fatal throne; I renounce it, and all worldly grandeur; I will retire into a religious house, the fittest place for me to spend the remainder of my life in; it is what I have long determined on; but I wished not to mention it to you, till the moment should arrive to put my plan in execution. I have now to entreat, my beloved mother, that you will obtain count Julian’s consent to what only will bring peace to my mind. I trust,” added she, her lovely face brightening with a heavenly smile, “I trust you will see Alonzo on that throne to which he has so good a right, and which he will so well know how to fill. He, I know, will replace your Cava, will be to you all a fond son can be; and, in the silent retreat to which I doom myself, my heart will be comforted with the recital of his virtues ¾ with the certainty of his glory ¾ and the security that, in him, you have again found your child.”
The countess was dreadfully affected by Cava’s discourse; she had no idea of her secret intentions; they grieved, they confounded her; she combated them in vain; and it was late before they thought of retiring, so long had their discourse continued.
The day had been sultry, but the night was cool; the windows of the apartment in which they sat were open, and on a level with the gardens of the castle. The countess had not called for lights; the night was brilliant, and more beautiful than the finest day; unnumbered stars glittered in the vast expanse; and the soft beams of an increasing moon played on a waterfall, within view of the windows of the saloon; no sound but the murmur of the waters was heard in the apartment, except that, at times, a drowsy bat flitted across the windows, or a wakeful bird rustled in the aromatic shrubs that were planted near.
Lost in their interesting conversation, neither the countess or Cava were sensible even of these sounds, when the young princess, lifting her eyes to the window, thought she perceived the shadow of a man pass at a little distance from it; she looked earnestly, but it was gone. She had risen from her seat, and advanced towards the window; she believed she heard some one talking in the Moorish language, but all was silent; she thought herself deceived, and returned to her seat. The countess smiled at her idea of any one being in this retired part of the garden, sacred to their use, and forbidden to every domestic in the castle. A second time they were entering on the topic that had occupied them so long, when the figure Cava before perceived was again visible; and, going to the window, she fancied it retreated among some thick dark trees, near the waterfall. Presently they heard the guard relieved, and the steps of the centinels, who, at stated times during the night, took their rounds outside the castle. Perfectly secure from this circumstance, Cava believed herself deceived, by the shadows from the trees; and, for a time, continued in deep discourse with her mother. The countess, first perceiving the lateness of the hour, proposed retiring for the night; and, at the door of her apartment, dismissed her loved child, with a thousand blessings. Cava’s intention of secluding herself from the world deeply affected her; unusual sorrow swelled her bosom; and throwing her arms round her daughter, she strained her to her breast, almost in agony. Cava, in silence, and nearly as much affected, returned the embrace; and some moments elapsed before they could bring themselves to separate. Their attendants approaching, Cava retired, melancholy and oppressed, to her own chamber; and the countess, straining her eyes, to behold her till she turned the end of the corridor, felt as she had taken her last farewell, as if for the last time she beheld her child. At length, retiring to her couch, sleep, that comforter of the wretched, soon “steeped her senses in forgetfulness.” Not so with the princess, she felt not its drowsy influence; and, when she reached her apartment, taking a lamp from her attendant, she placed it on a table, and saying she wished to be alone, dismissed her for the night.
The apartment occupied by the Gothic princess looked into the gardens of the castle, and a large balcony ran along the front, on which the windows opened; these windows, by her orders, had not been closed; the serenity and brightness of the night, and the perfume exhaled from the aromatic shrubs, with which the garden abounded, drew the princess to the balcony; she leaned on the railing, her eye wandered over the softened, but not obscured, landscape; and as sad ideas rose in her mind, she felt that the beautiful scenery with which she was surrounded, and the “solemn, sober, suited night,” abated their anguish. A prayer for the safety of her father and don Alonzo ascended from her pure lips, to that heaven on which her eyes were fixed. Some minutes had been given to this pious occupation, when she was alarmed by footsteps in the garden; and looking down, she perceived two armed men in the Moorish habit, between the waterfall and the grove; they appeared as if rooted to the spot. Cava, who seldom lost her presence of mind, was not dismayed, though alarmed; and, starting from the balcony, she passed quickly into her chamber, in order to alarm the castle; but she had scarcely got within the room, when she was suddenly seized by two Moors; and, before she could cry out, her mouth was covered with a silk handkerchief, and binding her hands with another, one of the men lifted her in his arms, while his companion, raising the silk hangings of the apartment, hurried out of a concealed door, and down a narrow staircase that led into the garden. Cava struggled in vain; she could neither speak nor free herself: having carried her through the door, the men covered her with a magnificent Moorish mantle and veil; and again one of them lifting her gently in his arms, carried her swiftly across the garden, and struck into a path between the grove and the waterfall, where they met their companions, whom the princess had seen from the balcony. Not a word was spoken by the Moors, as they passed by the grove with their prey. When they came to the outer wall that surrounded the garden, he that seemed to be their chief applied a key to a small door, which instantly opening, they carried the princess through, and then carefully shut and locked it. The terrified Cava was then carried into a small enclosure, surrounded with trees, where, to her astonishment, she beheld about twenty horsemen, finely mounted, and their horses most richly caparisoned; the men were all drawn up in order, with naked sabres in their hands. On the approach of the Moor who carried Cava in his arms, they saluted him in silence. A page brought towards him a beautiful Arabian horse, still more richly adorned than the rest. The Moor was so carefully concealed, that Cava could not distinguish a single feature. He beckoned to the page still to hold the horse; and, with respect and gentleness, he took the handkerchief from the mouth of the princess, and unbound her hands, again rolling the veil and mantle round her; he gave her to the care of the Moor next him, till he mounted his steed. The page bent his knee as he gave him the rein; and the Moor who held Cava, gently lifting her from the ground, placed her before his friend. Horses were in readiness for those Moors who had been in the gardens of the palace; and all putting their sabres in their scabbards, they set off at full speed; and taking an unfrequented road, that wound round the foot of the mountain, they soon lost sight of the castle and its environs.
Cava’s astonishment and terror were extreme; she had scarcely power to breathe ¾ she began to fear that Rodrigo had employed those that surrounded her to carry her off, and she dreaded more than death being in the tyrant’s power. Her belief, however, of this misfortune was staggered by the Moorish habits of her guards; and she then feared some treachery to her father on the part of Musa; he might, perhaps, have seized upon her as a hostage. As soon as she was allowed the freedom of speech, she entreated to know for what reason she was carried from her home, and insulted in the manner she was? It was in vain she asked a question, or solicited a reply. Her conductors were either determined not to gratify her curiosity, or the rapidity with which they moved prevented their hearing the supplications she addressed to them. The cavalcade took many an inland winding path; but before morning dawned, again pointed their course towards the sea, in an eastern direction, and were many, many leagues from count Julian’s castle. To its afflicted inhabitants, the loss of the hapless Cava was not known till late in the day. The countess missed her daughter, at the usual hour of her visiting her apartment; and, at first, only supposed she had not risen as early as was her custom, and her breast was filled with fears for her child’s health. They had parted the night before in wretched spirits, and their conversation had made a deep impression on the countess, and she felt she had not sufficient strength of mind to shake off the sadness that oppressed her: but her distress was soon augmented by the alarm that took place in the castle. The attendants of the princess, on entering her apartments, as was their custom, at a particular hour in the morning, were astonished at not seeing their lady; and, on inspecting the inner chamber, found no traces of her having occupied her bed during the night. The windows of the balcony were open; and the lamp, not long extinguished, still remained on the table where the princess, taking it from her woman, had herself placed it the night before. Nothing was disturbed or taken away; and as one of her attendants constantly slept in a gallery close to her chamber, and must have been alarmed by any noise, it was scarcely possible to conceive how the princess had disappeared. Strict search had been made for her throughout the castle, before the sad news that she was missing reached the countess. When the officer of the guard, a trusty servant of count Julian’s, came reluctantly to inform her of it, it is impossible to describe her distraction for the loss of her child; she herself left no apartment in the castle unsearched; and the greatest diligence was used in seeking her through the gardens and grounds that surrounded the palace.
The night guard were strictly examined; they were astonished at the possibility of the princess having left the castle, or having been taken from it, without their knowledge; they had, as usual, gone their regular rounds, and seen no soul during the night.
The miserable countess now began to suspect that Cava had willingly withdrawn herself, fearful of being either persuaded, or forced into an union with don Alonzo; and she conceived the idea that she might have sought the protection of a religious house, as there were some established in the African government belonging to count Julian, and many in Spain; to one of which the countess supposed she might have fled. To take proper measures for discovering the retreat of Cava, was now the only care of her unhappy mother; and messengers were instantly dispatched to every monastery she supposed might have received her daughter. Entreaties, threats, promises, and large donations, were all made use of; but answers were soon returned, that the superiors were perfectly ignorant of every thing respecting the Gothic princess.
The countess now thought it most prudent to inform her husband of the disappearance of their charming child, her ineffectual efforts to trace her, and her suspicion that she had concealed herself in a convent.
Count Julian was so far advanced into Spain, that it was long before this letter could reach him, and much longer before the countess could expect an answer. This excellent woman’s health was not proof against the accumulated distresses of her mind; she lost her appetite, her sleep, and strength; and universal languor pervaded her whole frame; and she fell into a state that greatly alarmed all about her for her life.
Here we must leave the countess Julian to the care of her friends, and the princess Cava to pursue her journey to whatever spot her conductors, the Moors, please to convey her, and, retracing our steps to the camp of count Julian, see if victory still attends him and Alonzo, to the plains of Xeres.
In glitt’ring arms, and glory dress’d,
High he rears his ruby crest;
There the thund’ring strokes begin,
There the press, and there the din.
Where his glowing eyeballs turn,
Thousand banners round him burn;
Where he points his purple spear,
Hasty, hasty rout is there,
Marking with indignant eye,
Fear to stop, and shame to fly.
There Confusion, Terror’s child,
Conflict fierce, and Ruin wild,
Agony, that pants for breath,
Despair, and honourable Death.
THE deplorable news of the total defeat of the Goths, and the death of Sancho, their general, soon reached Toledo. The success and rapid progress of the Infidels in Spain, spread terror and alarm every where; and Rodrigo, who, as we have seen, was roused by the common danger, was indefatigable in his endeavours to collect his troops, and in encouraging his people to face so formidable an enemy. It was now he felt with tenfold poignancy his past bad conduct. Abandoned by most of his nobles ¾ hated by his people ¾ stripped of money ¾ his best troops gained over by count Julian, the king had every thing to struggle with. He did so nobly ¾ he laid aside his vices ¾ he forgot his luxuries ¾ he called together those still attached to him, and also those whom he flattered himself he could by benefits draw to his cause. He granted favours ¾ he promised rewards. He collected by these means a large army from all quarters of Spain; and, with the assistance of his best generals, he himself attended to their appointments and their discipline. The early day saw the king rise to labour; the setting sun did not behold him idle; and he gave the example to his troops that a great captain should do; he desired from them no toil, no privation, in which he did not willingly share; and in all he was seconded by his brave kinsman, don Palayo.
While Rodrigo was thus employed, count Julian, and Tariff, the Saracen general, leaving their army to a little repose, made as quick a passage as possible into Africa, to demand more forces from Musa, and to point out to him the easy conquest they might now make of Spain. The Moor readily granted their request, and took hostages from the Christians.
Count Julian, anxious to see his wife, and to discover what was become of his child, left Tariff to conduct the new-furnished troops into Spain, promising to join him, the moment he should have settled some domestic concerns. He gave no hint of Cava’s elopement, nor had an idea of her being in the hands of the Moors ever entered his imagination. All matters adjusted with his allies, he took the road to his castle, where he found the countess in still greater affliction than when she had informed him of the flight of their child. Every day her loss, and the uncertainty of her fate, became more intolerable. The count was himself astonished at what he heard; he could by no means account for her departure; and a thousand times did he make the countess repeat all that had passed from the hour he left the castle. He examined with care his daughter’s apartments, and every domestic that belonged to the castle. He gained no information from the guard of the night; and he concluded that the countess must be right in her conjectures, that the princess had secretly retired to a convent. He endeavoured to console her unhappy mother; and promised, that as soon as he had completed the conquest of Spain, he would himself search every convent for his child, and offer such high rewards for finding her, that in no part of the known world could she be long concealed.
He told the countess he had given no hint to Alonzo of her flight; he was too well acquainted with his ardent temper to suppose, had he known of it, that he would have remained one moment with the army. “No,” cried the count, “love would have carried him from one extremity of the globe to the other; he would have been lost to glory, to his country, and to us. I entreat you, my Julia, let him not know from you this distressing event; leave it to me to seek and restore our child.”
The miserable countess promised to act as her husband desired; she relied on him for doing all that could be done in so delicate an affair; but had she wished to combat her lord’s resolutions, it would have been in vain. Her declining health rendered her incapable of doing so. She had lost all her energy; with Cava her happiness had fled, and she was fast approaching the confines of another world. In deep dejection she parted with the count; and he, in the bitter moment of bidding her farewell, felt that the gratified ambition of man cannot compensate the loss of domestic felicity; and, notwithstanding his splendid prospects, he was oppressed with a deep melancholy during his short voyage back to Spain, and even till he again mixed in the bustle of a camp.
The brave king was as determined as his foes; unwilling to be attacked in his capital, he had in haste collected a hundred thousand men; ill disciplined, badly armed, and raw as were his troops, he gave orders to prepare every thing for marching to meet the enemy. Toledo he put into the best state he was able to do in so short a time, and chose some veterans he could trust, to take care of the city, and guard the queen, and the young female nobility that remained with her.
Egilone had, by degrees, become completely wretched. She had fondly loved the king, but his bad conduct, which, for some time, he had taken no pains to conceal, had, if not entirely extinguished, deadened her affection; and resentment had often found admission into her gentle bosom. Rodrigo, conscious how basely he had used her, felt uncomfortable in her presence; her company became irksome; and, except in public, they now scarcely met. The coldness of the king terminated in what might have appeared hatred to this amiable woman; but, bad as he became, he was not capable of that feeling towards her. Rodrigo shunned her, because her virtue awed him; because, in her presence, he felt his own unworthiness; and was keenly sensible how much she deserved his love and his approbation.
When Egilone saw him ready to depart at the head of his army, when she beheld him dressed for a field of battle, love again resumed his empire over her heart. The manly, the noble figure of her once loved, once adored Rodrigo, stood before her; for as yet “he had not lost all his original brightness.” She saw him perhaps for the last time, and the melancholy idea melted her soul. With agitated steps, and eyes swimming in tears, she approached him, and, attempting to take his hand, she falteringly expressed her affection, her anxiety, and breathed her most fervent prayers and wishes for his safety in the day of battle, and for his happy return to his country, and to her.
The king’s brow darkened ¾ he recoiled from the touch of the gentle and innocent being he had once adored. Her merits threw a darker shade on his character, and his proud soul could not endure the degradation.
“Madam,” cried he, with a stern and forbidding air, retreating while he spoke, “I am sensible I am unworthy of this waste of affection. At the present, it is injudiciously bestowed; if you really feel it, you surpass in merit your whole sex. The only return I can make you, is to wish you happy; if we meet again, you will see Rodrigo a conqueror, and Spain at your feet.”
He then coldly turned from Egilone, and, waving his hand to the attendants to follow, he instantly left the palace: but violent and various were the passions that struggled in the breast of the miserable and guilty Rodrigo. Pride and conscious shame flushed his cheek; and, in departing, notwithstanding his apparent coldness, his eyes often turned towards the palace, with an involuntary wish of once more beholding the queen; but it was in vain; the unfortunate Egilone remained motionless in the spot where he had left her; the colour forsook her lip, her cheek; the tears which had filled her eyes when she approached the cruel Rodrigo, appeared to be congealed there; those beauteous orbs, now dimmed with grief, gazed after the departing king. She attempted to speak; her faltering tongue refused its office; she could only articulate, “All is over,” and, nearly lifeless, she sunk into the arms of Favilla.
Egilone’s constant heart had sustained many rude shocks from the infatuated Rodrigo, but, till the present moment, she had not relinquished the hope of bringing him back to virtue and to love. Unfortunate, mistaken Egilone! not all your beauty, your constancy, your tender affection, possessed such power. The melancholy history of man too fully proves, that conjugal affection, once extinguished, is rarely, if ever, blown into a second flame, for “where is that Promethean heat that can its light relumine?”
But war, not love, must now employ our thoughts; and I trust my readers will not unwillingly follow me to the plains of Xeres. In those plains the undaunted Rodrigo led the immense multitude he had collected. The Infidel army, with his rebel subjects, there met the king. Both armies encamped within sight of each other — both strongly entrenched — both promising themselves the victory — yet history tells us it was seven days before they came to a general action. They had continual skirmishes, which only served to harass, without being useful to either side. If sometimes the Infidels were victorious, they had no reason to rejoice; their victory cost them dear; they were opposed by multitudes; but delay was ruin to that multitude; their leaders found the utmost difficulty to provide for their wants, and to keep them together. The king was sensible of the precarious state of his affairs; but the die was cast; there was now no retreating; nor did Rodrigo wish it — he looked to conquest or to death. He saw with dismay the panic that seized his army at the view of the fierce Saracens — the horror they expressed at the necessity of fighting against their own countrymen, whom count Julian had led into the field. Melancholy was spread over the Christian camp; even Rodrigo was a prey to it; his soul was weighed down with guilt. The night, which should have consigned him to repose, consigned him to misery. Conscience, that dreadful monitor, told him his bright day was past; the depth of night could not conceal him from himself. Cava’s wrongs sat heavy at his heart. In idea he again entered by violence the forbidden castle. He saw the dreadful scroll with the doom of Spain, he again heard the shrieks that had sounded in his ears, and those terrible words — “Thy kingdom is departed from thee.”
“Better,” exclaimed Rodrigo, “to lie unburied on the field of battle, and there leave my bones to bleach with summer suns and winter snows, than sustain a conflict with those hideous specters of the night, over which the sword, or the strength of man, can have no power.”
The eighth morning, before the break of day, the king issued from his tent — he roused his generals — he ordered all things for an attack; tired of life, he hoped at least a glorious death.
His immense army was soon in motion. The Infidels, aware of every thing, and never off their guard, as if by mutual consent, prepared for battle.
sun rose in splendor on the two armies, that in the course of this eventful day
were to decide the fate of Spain. Tariff and Count Julian appeared at their
respective posts, one at the head of the rebel Christians — the other
commanding the haughty Saracens; they encouraged their troops, by promising
Spain and all its treasures as their reward.
Rodrigo had now marshaled his multitude, as was the custom of the Gothic kings when they went to battle; and, like Mars, he appeared in the front of his army; he was seated in an ivory car, richly adorned, and over his armour flowed a magnificent mantle, embroidered in gold; his breast-plate shone with precious stones; and his helmet was encircled with a golden crown, that seemed to flame in the sunbeams. The deadly paleness, which for some time had been habitual to him, was changed into the flush of hope, that now spread itself over his fine countenance, and gave animation to those eyes so lately sunk and gloomy: with majesty and eloquence he addressed his army, and, pointing to the Infidels, he implored them, by all that was dear to man, by their wives, their children, their happy homes, to exert themselves this day, and drive those demons from their shores. Rodrigo forgot not to make use of promises, threats, and entreaties; he wanted neither eloquence nor persuasion — he looked what he was, a hero — they knew him to be brave — the troops — answered his speech with shouts and acclamations — every one panted for the battle — The army was soon in motion, and presently the ground was lost between the contending hosts. If Tariff and his Saracens appeared invincible, the king, and those that followed him, were not less brave, less animated, less firm; wherever the battle rages with violence, there was Rodrigo to be found; he encouraged the weak—he led on the valiant—with coolness he directed all. His quick and penetrating eye took in the whole plain, and he dispatched his orders from one end to the other of his extensive army, as a general able to command, and determined to be obeyed. The contest was long and bloody; victory seemed at times ready to declare for the Infidels; it then hovered over the banners of the Christians: at length the Moors recoiled; they appeared paralized, and to meditate a retreat. Count Julian, Tariff, though exerting themselves to the utmost, felt doubtful of success. The Christians rent the air with their shouts; they rushed forward with an impetuosity that nothing could withstand; Rodrigo and don Palayo were at their head; and the conquest of Spain would never have belonged to the Moors, had not the infamous Oppas, brother-in-law to count Julian, and gained over by him, deserted at this moment, with that part of the army which had been intrusted to his care; and, turning his arms against his religion (for he was archbishop of Seville), his country, and his king, changed the fortune of the day. Dismay spread itself through the royal army at this sight; it was now the turn of the Infidels to exult. Alonzo, at the side of count Julian, fought both with valour and desperation; he endeavoured to hew his way to Rodrigo; to lay him low, he would willingly the next moment have resigned his life; but with all his efforts he could not approach the king; he, however, kept him in sight, determined not to relinquish his great revenge.
Terror and dismay now took possession of the royal troops; they began to separate and fly; in vain the king and don Palayo attempted to stop them; they threw away their arms to escape from their fierce pursuers: often did Rodrigo, supported by those personally attached to him, turn and face, and for a time disperse the Infidels. He that day performed wonders; all that a great general and a valiant soldier could do, he did: but finding that his voice, his words, his entreaties, his menaces, were now in vain to stop his flying troops; that all was in confusion; that victory, having long balanced her favours, now declared for count Julian and the Moors; unwilling to fall alive into their hands, quitting his car, he fought on foot, and numbers of the bravest of the enemy fell by his arm. Even surrounded by the Infidels, he cut his way through them, and with a handful only of troops, he long opposed their progress. Halting, in the midst of slaughter, to recover breath, he looked around and saw himself deserted; his eye searched for don Palayo; he turned it to where he had lately so bravely fought; no trace of him remained; the Christians were flying in every direction. Rodrigo found himself alone among a heap of dead; one solitary and faithful soldier stood near him, holding his favourite horse, (which the father of Spanish history tells us was named Orglia). The soldier entreated the king to mount it, and fly. He heard the din of battle; it was distant, and far as his eye could reach, he saw the Infidels pursuing his broken legions, and directing their course towards his camp.
Exhausted with the toils of the day, his heart bursting with grief and rage, the still undaunted and brave Rodrigo leaned upon his spear, and for some moments flattered himself with the vain hope he might yet be able to collect his flying army, and again make a glorious stand. Like lightning these thoughts passed through his mind, and gave new vigour to his arm, new energy to his soul. But soon was the wretched monarch awakened from this last short dream of happiness, by a sudden shout from two men at a little distance from where he stood; they were armed, and in the Christian habit; they were on foot, and with hasty strides were making towards the king, and he distinctly heard these words: — “Turn, Rodrigo, and answer for the wrongs of Cava.” No words but these could have palsied the arm, or sunk the heart of Rodrigo; they came on the wind like a pestilence, and unmanned his soul; his spear fell from his hand, and he remained motionless. The faithful soldier, presenting him his steed, cried, “Fly, fly, Rodrigo; count Julian and the prince Alonzo are near; fly, my noble master; my wounds bleed afresh; alas! I cannot assist you.” The gallant soldier fell as he pronounced these words. The king seized the bridle of his steed, and, vaulting into the saddle, he flew over the plain with the swiftness of an arrow, and heard not the curses with which his disappointed enemies pursued him. Count Julian, enraged, and vowing future vengeance, sought his victorious troops; but Alonzo, whose keen eye had followed the track of the royal fugitive, instantly determined on pursuit. He marked the bend the king made towards the river, to avoid the Infidels; and he believed that, although on foot, he might be able to overtake him before he could cross the torrent; for Alonzo knew the river was then full, and the banks were steep.
The wretched Rodrigo fled he knew not whither. “Grief, anguish, desperation, rushed upon him.” His horse carried him in safety to the banks of the Guadaleta, and then suddenly stopped, as if conscious that it was dangerous to attempt the river. This roused the king from his stupor, when throwing himself from the saddle, he cried, “Go, my faithful Orglia; may you find a kind master, when your old one is sunk beneath these waves.” Then tearing off his golden crown, his royal mantle, and his splendid armour, he dashed them on the ground, and plunged into the torrent, almost in the moment Alonzo arrived on the banks of the river, nearly breathless from the swiftness of the pursuit. The young prince beheld the last action of the king, and cursed his unlucky stars that he was come so late. He called aloud to Rodrigo to return, to resume his arms, and accept the combat.
The unfortunate monarch, rising on the waves, heard Alonzo’s curses. The name of Cava sounding on his ear, he voluntarily plunged amid the waters; and the stream soon carried him with violence far from the sight of his enemy. Alonzo threw his javelin at the guilty Rodrigo; it was in vain; it fell harmless in the water, and a wave returned it to the shore.
Full of love, of rage, and anger, at his disappointed vengeance, the prince trampled on the ensigns of royalty, which the unfortunate king had scattered on the ground, and spurning the crown with his feet, traced back his steps to join the victorious troops, now pursuing the Goths to their camp, which was soon set on fire and pillaged.
History gives us no idea of the number of Christians that fell; we only know that this melancholy day deprived Spain of all the glory she had formerly acquired. Miserable, unfortunate day! in which so much Christian blood was spilt—in which the nobility and flower of Spain fell before the sword of Mahomet, and for ever sunk in oblivion that empire, once the terror of the Romans, and subjugated it to the yoke of the Infidels, after it had flourished three hundred years.
“And sunk in minutes
What in ages rose.”
Such has been the fate of all the empires of the earth. What a lesson for man! was man willing to learn this great truth, that in life there is no certainty but of its end.
ALONZO, certain that Rodrigo had perished in the Guadaleta, rejoiced that the tyrant was no more, but grieved he had not received death from his hand. “He was brave, he was a king,” cried Alonzo, “and notwithstanding his crimes, he merited a less ignoble death. Fate,” said he, with a sigh, “has not allowed his punishment to proceed from me; nor has it given me the glory of avenging my beloved Cava.”
The prince then turning from the river, took his way, over heaps of dead and dying, to the Christian camp. Here he met count Julian, his arms folded, and viewing, with anguish painted on his face, the hundred fires that blazed from the tents of the routed Christians. The Moors, on forcing the camp, found only a solitary waste; the tents were overturned, and the baggage that remained was only what could not be removed by those that fled. The routed army, with don Palayo at their head, had made good their retreat towards Toledo.
The Infidels now gave unbounded latitude to their cruelty and their joy; they were but too sensible of their power, and almost insulted those Christians who had led them to the ruin of their country. Too late count Julian saw his perfidy would not answer the purpose he intended; he had only asked assistance from the Moors; he was deceived in the grants they had made him. Tariff, their general, spoke in the tone of a master; and the mistaken and wretched count could not disguise from Alonzo, that they must soon become the slaves, instead of the allies, of the Muselmen. The brave and good Alonzo started at the idea that the count suggested; and, without hesitation, proposed, now that Rodrigo was no more, to withdraw the Christian troops from the Moors, and immediately join don Palayo, and the bulk of Spain. “We shall then be able,” cried Alonzo, “to drive these Saracens into the sea, should they not retire peaceably to Africa, amply rewarded for the assistance they have lent us to suppress the tyrant.”
“Never will they return,” answered count Julian; “here will they fix their abode —here will they reign. Oh! my unhappy country, I deserve your malediction; in perspective I behold your sufferings—your future woes; and I execrate myself as the author of them. Would I had been plunged with my Cava in the ocean, before I had suffered that dire and fatal passion, revenge, wholly to possess me. Oh! Alonzo, fate has frustrated all my schemes, all my fond hopes. Where now shall I find my Cava? she is perhaps lost to me for ever; and her wretched mother, oppressed with grief may, ere this, be consigned to a too early grave. And yet,” cried he, with a wild and frantic gesture, and pointing to the flaming camp, “it was for the sake of those dear objects, for you, Alonzo, that I lit that funeral pile, which at this sad hour my heart presages, burns not only for our enemies, but will, ere long, spread its fires to consume us also.”
Alonzo, alarmed beyond description at count Julian’s words, and fearing that fatigue and the labours of the day had deprived him of his senses, questioned him minutely on what he had said relative to the countess Julian, and his adored Cava. “You left them in safety and health,” said the young prince; “what, count Julian, can you fear for them? your mind is gloomy; let us retire for the night; those horrors we have witnessed we must endeavour to shake off in repose; and tomorrow you can send a trusty messenger to your castle, to carry the pleasing intelligence of our success to the countess and your charming daughter.”
“Send an account that will never reach them, Alonzo.”
“Never reach them,” in alarm, returned the prince; “tell me, I beseech you, why you make use of such dreadful and such ambiguous words?”
“Oh!” cried count Julian, “rack me not thus, Alonzo; I would willingly have concealed it from you; but you have forced my confidence. I left my dear and unfortunate Julia dying, sinking into her grave for the loss of Cava, who has disappeared from the castle, without a possibility of her flight being traced; force could not have been used, for the guard remained in perfect quiet the night of her departure. If she went willingly, who assisted her to quit the castle, or where she could have concealed herself, is also impossible to discover. I have made use of every means within my power, without success. My wife is dead or dying; my child is lost; and I am doomed to suffer the most severe punishment, for my cruel and treacherous conduct towards my country, which I vainly attempted to varnish over with the appellations of public spirit and brave revenge.”
Here the repentant count Julian was agonized with grief, and the astonished prince for some time eyed him in silence; heavy sighs shook his bosom, for the uncertain fate of her on whom his heart was fixed; and his instant determination was to seek her, at the risk of life and empire; he now bestowed not a thought on the Gothic throne; and, turning to the count, he said—“count Julian, I see, perhaps your cause just and honourable—I followed your fortunes—I imagined you too wise, to prudent, to deliver your country into the hands of the Infidels, when you appeared only to wish some assistance from them. Had I been interrogated, I should have sworn you had taken measures to guard against this evil. If you have done so, this despair ill becomes you; if you are guilty, Heaven forgive you!—Spain will not. But know this, never again will Alonzo lift his sword against his country, or to assist the Moors. Farewell; I will seek Cava at the extremity of the earth; if you ever behold me more, you will see her in safety.”
Saying this, as he stood near the count, he seized his hand, pressed it fervently to his lips, and then darted like lightning from the spot; and night approaching, soon hid him from count Julian, who, with vehemence, called to him to stop. “Stay, Alonzo, I conjure you stay, and listen to my vindication.”
He spoke to the winds; his words reached not the prince, whose every thought rested on Cava. He pursued his way, unconscious of fatigue, to where he was certain of procuring a vessel to carry him to Africa; for in the palace of count Julian he believed himself most likely to find a clue to lead him to Cava. Ten thousand fears assailed him. What he most dreaded was her being in the power of the Moors. He sometimes imagined her charms had captivated Abdalesis, the son of Musa; at others, he feared they had secured her as a hostage for the faith of her father: but to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, without farther fact, was beyond his power.
Alonzo soon procured every thing necessary to his voyage; fond and impatient, he thought each moment an age till he could reach the coast of Africa. He was agonized with the apprehension of losing her, who was more estimable in his eyes than the whole world—her misfortunes bound her still closer to his heart—pity was added to love and admiration; all he desired in life was to render hers happy, by obliterating from her angelic mind the past, by hushing her to peace on his faithful bosom, and for ever making her the partner of his future fate.
At length on board the galley that was to transport him from one shore to the other, he fixed his eyes on the mountains of Africa; his soul was already there; the utmost exertion of his rowers appeared feeble to his ardent imagination. The winds favoured his course, the galley flew swiftly over the waves, but the tumult in his mind subsided not; the nearer he approached the coast, the quicker throbbed his heart, and the greater became his impatience to reach it.
Here we must commit him to the care of winds and waves, and follow, if we can, the course the Moors steered the night they carried off the interesting and ill-fated Cava, the object of so much love, and the innocent sufferer of so many misfortunes.
We have already informed our readers, that the princess could obtain from the Moors, her conductors, no answer to any of her questions. She soon was convinced all her efforts were vain, either to move their compassion, or escape their power. The Moor who carried her was tenderly attentive to her ease. Cava resigned herself to sorrow, but it was a dignified one¾her heart was torn with anguish¾the tears fell silently from her eyes; but when she found her entreaties not attended to, she endeavoured to suppress her sighs and lamentations.
They had travelled many leagues, the heat of the day was coming on, and Cava became languid and ill. The Moor who carried her then for the first time spoke, and giving her a handkerchief, perfumed with the rich odours of Arabia, and of power to restore the fainting senses, he entreated her to make use of it, assuring her at the same time, that shortly she should rest for some hours. He also besought her to support her spirits, as no harm was intended her; that her lot, if she pleased, should be the envy of the universe¾that every thing that could give delight in this world was at her command¾she had only to bless others to be blessed herself.
Cava listened with astonishment; the voice of the person who addressed her was, she suspected, purposely disguised; yet, for a moment, it was familiar to her ear; but who this person was she had not the smallest idea. She trembled lest she was in the power of some wandering Arab, who might have heard of her beauty, and of the riches of her father’s castle. “Perhaps,” said she, mentally, “others of this troop have plundered the dear abode of my infant years; perhaps my angelic mother is no more, and that the silent tomb will receive her, unacquainted with the fate of her unhappy child.” Cava, softened by the ideas that presented themselves, and by her fears for the safety of her mother, was about to make some inquiries concerning her, when the Moor, before whom she was placed, suddenly stopt his horse, and raising her eyes, which had been unconsciously fixed on the path they were pursuing, she perceived they were arrived at a cottage on the skirt of a wood, that entirely covering a mountain, under which the cottage stood, perfectly sheltered it from the noonday heat. Cava now found that some of the troop had already arrived, and were waiting to receive the commands of their master. The princess was soon lifted from her horse; and two Moorish women, one in middle life, the other young, approached to assist her into the house. Her conductor did not speak to them, but waved his hand, and made some signs, which they watched, and bowing with the most profound respect, led the almost fainting Cava into the cottage.
In the situation to which our heroine is reduced, the most romantic mind could not be sensible to the beauties of the scenery that surrounded this rural abode. The women to whose care Cava was committed assisted her into the cottage, and helped her on a sofa, in a simple but elegant apartment; they set refreshments before her, and in the gentlest accents the young Moor entreated her to partake of them; not satisfied with entreating only, she poured into a gold cup some sherbet, and persuaded Cava to taste it. “It will refresh you,” said the gentle Moor; “when you have taken some nourishment you shall repose, and I will watch your rest; no one shall intrude or molest you.”
Having in her infancy lived in Africa, the Gothic princess perfectly understood and spoke the Moorish tongue; hearing herself addressed in soft and elegant language, by a female, she was awakened from the state of apathy she had fallen into, and raising her eyes to see who the person was who spoke, she perceived a young and beautiful Moor standing before her, her bright eye beaming pity; she stood in an attitude of supplication, with the sherbet and some refreshments in her hand. “You are exhausted,” cried she, “you are dying with languor and fatigue; I beseech you, refuse me not the gratification of restoring your sinking health and spirits.” Cava faintly shook her hand; she could not resist, however, the kind entreaties of the young Moor; she drank of the sherbet, and swallowed some of the delicate viands presented to her. Her face was flushed—her aching temples throbbed¾her whole frame appeared disordered¾yet still she was the all-excelling Cava; there was in her countenance the expression of sadness, of anguish, and distrust; but a faint smile, the smile of an angel, illumined that melancholy face, when she beheld near her the lovely and gentle being who appeared to take so much interest in her welfare. Cava’s heart was oppressed; she could not speak, but she gave her kind young hostess a look so grateful, that it fully expressed the feelings of her sensitive and delicate mind. Her eyes wandered round the apartment; they fell on the benevolent face of the elderly woman, who had withdrawn to a corner of the room, and seemed to wait the orders of the young Moor. Cava could not unravel her thoughts; they were indistinct; but her eyes turned languidly from one object to another, and she was struck with the difference in the dress of the two females before her. The elder was in a handsome Moorish habit, but simple and grave; the other dressed with the utmost elegance of the east; bright jewels, in the form of a crescent, confined her hair on her polished forehead; and the transparent veil, thrown up in front, and falling over her shoulders, covered, but did not conceal her fine form. Her vest was azure silk, from the looms of Persia, fastened to her full bosom, and fine-turned arms, with golden clasps; her air and manner had all that softness, sweetness, and sensibility, that, on a first view, so strongly captivates the heart. A tear started to her eye as she addressed Cava, whose now bewildered and wandering senses persuaded her that the beautiful object she saw before her was a celestial being, sent on an errand of mercy to release her from the Moors; and, stretching her arms towards her, she cried, “Oh! angel of light, save me from these men into whose power I have unwillingly fallen, and restore me to my father’s castle—to my sorrowing mother.” The pitying Moor, seeing the perturbation of her mind, and marking the wildness of her eye, beckoned to her companion; and gently advancing towards the princess, entreated she would calm her fears, and, with her life, she would answer for her safety; and assisting the elderly woman to lay her on the sofa, she threw over her a light covering, and placing some cushions close to it on the floor, she sat down at her feet, and, with a pensive air, fixed her eyes on the enchanting form that lay before her, and perceived, with pleasure, that the object of her care was by degrees sinking into calm repose.
Sleep at length shed his softest poppies over her couch, and, for a time, banished all her woes. The flush in her cheek had subsided, and was replaced by her own roseate hue; anxiety and care vanished from her brow, and her breathing was calm and equal. Zamora (so was the young Moor called) gazed at her with wonder; she beheld a smile of tenderness and content diffuse itself over her countenance, and play about the ruby lips, that, half opened, appeared ready to give utterance to some thought that bestowed pleasure, even in sleep.
Cava, the wretched Cava, at that moment, found in the slumber that weighed down her eyelids, that happiness to which she had long been a stranger. Delightful visions floated on her imagination—she was carried back to days of bliss and joy—she fancied herself at one of Egilone’s hunting parties, in the mountains near Toledo. She and Favilla were next the queen, and Alonzo rode at her side; he lavished all his care, all his fondness on her—they passed the day in joy—their banquet was spread beneath silk tents, on the banks of the river; and Alonzo, solely occupied with her, had prepared for her a garland of the most fragrant flowers—he scattered roses beneath her feet, and whispered, in language the most passionate, his pure, his ardent, his eternal love—“which even in slumber gave her cheek to glow.”—In thought she wandered with Alonzo and Favilla on the banks of the river; she contemplated with them the beauteous and sublime works of nature, with which they were surrounded, and those of art that the distant city of Toledo exhibited, as the golden beams of a setting sun glittered on its towers.
This delightful dream was not of short duration, it occupied the mind of Cava while she slept, which was for some hours more; and fortunate would she have been, could such charming visions have filled the space of her future life; but Cava was doomed, like all other mortals, to awake and find the bliss enjoyed in life more fleeting, and less substantial than even a passing dream.
It was towards evening when the Gothic princess threw off her slumbers; she raised herself on her couch, and, at first, with difficulty, recollected what had passed, or where she was; but on seeing Zamora near her, she felt some assurance of safety; resting her head on her hand, she was for some moments silent; but finding they were alone, she looked earnestly at the young Moor, saying, “The feeling you have shewn for me, and the charming expression of your countenance, gives me the hope I shall in you find a friend: we are alone; give me the means of escaping, I beseech you, and you shall for ever command my life, my fortune; count Julian, my father, will make you great and happy.”
“Alas!” answered the Moor, “what you require of me is impossible; if I myself wished to quit those in whose power you are, I have not the means of doing so. Look,” said she, opening a lattice of the chamber, and removing a silk curtain that shaded it, “look at the guard that has the care of us; do you believe they would suffer you to escape?—besides, where would you go? you would perish unknown and unbefriended.” Then tenderly taking Cava’s hand in hers, she added, “Fear me not, I beseech you; I will not deceive; I would this moment set you free, could I indulge my own inclinations.” This was spoken with an air of sadness, and a sigh followed Zamora’s words.
“Then tell me,” said the princess, “if you cannot relieve me, in whose power am I?”
Zamora was silent—she turned pale—she raised her eyes to heaven—she looked at Cava—and then fixed them on the ground. She was about to speak—she hesitated—and at length said, “Do not, I beseech you, require me to tell you what I am ordered to keep secret. You must proceed on your journey this night; but be not so alarmed,” seeing Cava start from her seat in agony, “Zulima and I accompany you.”
“And the Moor also?” interrupted Cava.
“No,” answered Zamora, “he did not long remain here; he has left a guard to attend us, in case of accident, and you will be better accommodated than you have been during the night; but the refreshment of the bath, change of raiment, and some nourishment, is absolutely necessary before we undertake our journey.” Without giving time to the princess to make any reply, Zamora clapped her hands, as is the custom in the east, to call the attendants in waiting. Zulima instantly appeared, and was desired to lead the way to the bath.
Cava, unwilling to give her kind friend offence, or to refuse so needful a refreshment, complied with her desire; and on coming out of the bath, she found an elegant robe prepared for her, and one suited to a journey by night. She hesitated to accept it, and wished to resume her own dress; but the young Moor, guessing her thoughts, and believing that her delicacy revolted at accepting presents, however necessary they might be to her comfort, from the Moor who had dared to insult her by carrying her off, assured her that the habit was a new one, belonging to herself; and added, with a smile, “We are so nearly the same size, I hope you will find it fit you.” Cava no longer hesitated to accept her young friend’s offer, and returned, refreshed and comforted, to the apartment they had so lately quitted, and where their evening repast was now prepared.
The day was declining, a cool breeze came from the mountains, and brought with it odours sufficiently powerful to revive and charm the senses. The lattices of the apartment had been thrown open during their absence, and from them the eye took in the grandest and most beautiful objects in creation. Mountains covered with all the variety of trees that Africa produces; charming valleys spread at the feet of these mountains, highly cultivated, and thickly interspersed with small villages, whose white houses, and gilt crescents, seemed to attract the last beams of a departing sun. At a distance rolled the blue waves of the Mediterranean; and, in long perspective, were seen vessels of different nations, of various size, and various shapes, spreading their broad sails to the winds, or plowing with their strong oars its watery surface. Such scenes were calculated to chase from the bosom of the beholder “all sadness but despair.” They had their natural effect on the princess; she expressed her admiration, and declared to her fair companion, she would willingly pass her life in such a spot, could she there be safe from the cruelty of man.
Zamora was astonished at Cava’s beauty, the first moment she beheld her; but now that some hours peaceful slumbers, and the refreshing bath, had restored her complexion to its wonted loveliness, and their usual lustre to her soft and captivating eyes, the young Moor’s wonder encreased. She sighed heavily as she gazed; but it was not the sigh of envy; that vilest of passions never found entrance in the heart of Zamora; she turned her head aside, to conceal a starting tear; but Cava, alive to all the fine affections of the human heart, felt the transient sadness that appeared in the countenance of the charming Moor; and taking her hand, said, “Are you too unhappy? If so, our sorrows, as well as our sympathy, may unite us; consider me, I beseech you, from this moment an unalterable friend.”
Zamora pressed the hand that had taken hers, and was going to reply, when Zulima entered the apartment; and the fair Moor said, in a low voice, and in the Spanish language, “Be on your guard in the presence of Zulima; in herself she is most amiable, but you must not trust her; put on the appearance of content before her; another time I will explain.” She could say no more; Zulima told them in an hour they must be ready to depart, and then took a seat at some distance.
Zamora occupied herself with those preparations she was desirous of making for her journey; and Cava, covering her face with her veil, took her station near an open lattice, to inhale the fragrance of the flowers beneath it, to banish, by the cool evening breeze, the feverish heat that still oppressed her, and to enjoy, as far as her lacerated heart would allow, the pleasure such a prospect afforded. Resting her beauteous head on her hand, she leaned from the window, where, though in part concealed by the aromatic shrubs that grew close to it, her own view of all she wished to contemplate was not impeded. Her eyes wandered round the extended horizon, and dwelt with anxiety on every distant object. She hoped to discover where lay her father’s castle; but she knew not in what direction to look for it, unconscious from what quarter she had approached her present habitation; and she feared, from the velocity with which she had been carried during the night, that now she was distant, far distant, from her dear native home. Lost in thought, she traced her former happy, and also miserable life. She trembled for what her mother must endure for her loss; where now was her father? was he still victorious, or cold and lifeless on the plains of Xeres? The thought was distraction; she turned from it in terror. Where too was Alonzo—that dear, that idolized Alonzo, whom she wished never to behold again, though his idea mixed with every thought—though he was the dream of her nights—though to forget him for a moment was impossible, while thought was hers?—where was he now?—if in existence, did he still remember their early innocent loves, or did he wish to tear her from his heart as the bane of his life? “No,” said she, mentally, “Alonzo is just, is tender, is faithful; Cava will not be obliterated from his heart, while that pure heart beats; but it is my sad duty to avoid his sight¾fly from him¾reject his love¾and banish him my presence for ever.” Here, overcome by her feelings, she burst into a flood of tears; when conscious how unavailing her lamentations were, and how necessary she would find strength of mind and body to support her present captivity, let it proceed from whom it would, she dried her tears, suppressed her sobs, and remembering father Anselmo’s pious lessons, for to her excellent nature they had not been given in vain, she raised her hands and heart in supplication to that Being who alone can be depended on in the hour of woe. Her prayer was fervent¾was ardent as her heart¾she did not dare to murmur at the will of her Creator, or to accuse Providence for her sufferings; but she besought patience and strength of mind to endure them, in the full hope of a future reward, where all sorrow shall be done away. Cava was a Goth, but she was a Christian, and rested her eternal happiness on that faith. Errors had crept into the Christian church, and had sullied the purity of the early faith; but it was still free from the attacks of that foul enemy, that in the present times has used its utmost endeavours, with so much subtilty, to undermine the true religion. Modern philosophy, with all its specious moral precepts, and all its insidious sophistry, is certainly the most dangerous weapon that has ever been made us of to destroy the Christian faith; the libertine finds it a convenient cloak for vice; and the weak female, who thinks it gives her the air of wisdom and superior understanding, devotes herself to its creed, and fearlessly declares she does so.
My young and lovely readers, let not your innocent minds be warped by such reasoning; shake not off your religion, and the forms it prescribes, to range wild as nature in search of other laws to bind a human being; turn to the holy scriptures; there you will find all you ought to know¾all you ought to believe. If you love wisdom¾if you seek truth¾if truth, dressed in the finest and most persuasive language, can captivate you, turn to that sacred volume; and dread all those who preach morality, free from the restraints of an established religion. In pity, and an anxious wish to serve the young females of the rising generation, this digression has been made. Scoffers will perhaps say it is an uncouth introduction in a romance; they may scoff; the author has got into Gothic times, and imbibed old fashioned opinions; and if what she has said can influence one single female to adopt them, and, by pointing out to an uncorrupted mind the danger of the new philosophy, when, in some interesting tale, arrayed in elegant and insinuating language, it infuses its poison into the heart¾if she can save them from its pernicious consequences, she will have attained the end she wishes, and the shafts of ridicule will fall harmless at her feet.
BEFORE the sun had sunk in the west, Zulima roused the princess Cava from the reverie she had fallen into at the window of the cottage, by informing her all was ready for their departure. Sensible that no entreaties of hers would be listened to, no resistance avail, she rose to follow the Moor, and was soon joined by the charming Zamora. They were seated in a sort of open chariot, drawn by fine Arabian horses; a silk awning was suspended over their heads, and soft cushions rendered the inside of the chariot not only commodious, but perfectly luxurious.
Cava and Zamora, wrapt closely in their thick veils, occupied the front, and opposite to them their silent companion took her seat. Some of the horsemen that Cava knew had attended her the night before were now in the rear; and they pursued their road through a delightful country, to which the declining day, and coming twilight, gave more interest than the brightest sunshine could have done.
The princess examined every object with a scrutinizing eye, and soon perceived that their road led towards the sea, still at a great distance. The fair Moor saw her anxiety, her fears, and doubts, and she made use of her utmost endeavours to console and amuse her. They travelled with ease and safety; no chilly damp foretold the approach of night¾it came on in sober majesty¾the moon rode high and clear, stillness prevailed, and all nature seemed to repose.
Zulima closed her eyes, and, indifferent to the softened beauties of the landscape, or to the tale told by the planets in their course of unnumbered worlds beyond the ken of man, laid her head on a cushion, and slept profoundly.
The chariot rolled along; Cava and the fair Moor at intervals conversed; but fearful of Zulima’s sleep not being so sound as they wished it to be, were cautious of touching on any subject that could alarm the watchfulness of one appointed to inspect their conduct. The beauty of the night, the admiration our young travellers both felt for those sublime works of nature that now arrested their attention, furnished materials for interesting conversation; and every moment the fair Moor grew in the esteem of the princess. If Zamora regarded Cava with wonder, if she mentally said, “Who could resist the attractions of this fascinating being? who could, for a moment, stand in competition with her?” Cava was not less delighted with Zamora, whose feeling and intelligent soul, visible in every change of her lovely countenance, gave a double charm to the exquisite beauty with which she was endowed. No human being could be more gentle, more persuasive, more insinuating, more interesting, than Zamora; her natural good understanding was improved by education, to a degree that was extraordinary in a female of her nation; and Cava saw, with as much pleasure as any thing in her situation was able to give her, that she had met not only with a kindred mind, but with an agreeable and interesting companion.
During the night, the Moors that attended the chariot changed the horses for greater speed; and, at daybreak, informing our travelers that they were to rest for some time, they assisted them to alight at the entrance of a delicious valley; and, awaking the still drowsy Zulima, told them, in the most respectful terms, it was here they were ordered to prepare refreshments for them, as there were still many leagues to travel, before they could reach the place of their destination.
Under some tall trees, the Moors prepared to spread the contents of a basket they had brought from the chariot; and while they were thus occupied, Cava, who objected not to what they desired, and who found it a relief to quit the seat she had so long been confined to, taking Zamora by the arm, proposed to walk through this delightful valley, while their guard was busied preparing their repast. She hoped to have got a moment to put some questions to Zamora apart from Zulima, but she quickly found it was a thing impossible; Zulima was at their side, hoping they had enjoyed as comfortable repose during the night as she had done¾ “It was a heavenly night,” added she; “I think I am more refreshed from sleeping in the open air on those cushions, than I should have done in my own apartments, in my young master’s palace.”
Cava’s heart beat quick¾she was alarmed at the words¾ “My young master’s palace”¾she turned pale¾she feared she was an object of too much interest to Abdalesis or Aleanzar¾till now, she had entertained a faint hope that Musa had seized upon her, as an hostage for count Julian’s faith. Addressing Zulima, she said, “And who is your young master, and where is his palace?” Zulima, aware of her imprudence, only answered, by desiring they would sit down on the grass, and eat something, for they had fasted a long while. The princess was thoughtful and distressed; and Zulima had now the conversation almost entirely to herself; she that was before so silent, was of a sudden loquacious, and seemed delighted that their journey would soon end, though she chose not to inform Cava to what place they were conducting her.
At a respectful distance the attendants reposed on the dewy grass, and made a plentiful meal; while their horses ranged through the small valley, and fed upon the patches of fine herbage scattered over it.
In an hour Zamora and the Gothic princess again mounted the chariot, without having been able to converse in private one moment. Zulima was now awake, and alive to all that passed; and Cava, finding it in vain to expect any information from her, gave herself up to thought, and a degree of languor pervaded her whole frame.
Some hours brought the travellers to the end of their journey; they had continually approached the sea, and were now within some hundred yards of the coast of the Mediterranean. On turning the bottom of a hill, a beautiful and small bay presented itself, half encompassed by rising grounds, and, to the left, sheltered by big and picturesque rocks, some bare, some cloathed richly with trees, the natives of the country. At the bottom of the rocks, and almost on a level with the sea, was a castle of ancient date, and bore the marks of having once belonged to the Carthagenians; it was not large, but in good preservation; and shewed, by the raised crescents, and the banners that floated on its turrets, that the present possessor was a worshipper of Mahomet.
Between the hills and the sea the ground was not extensive, but it was diversified, beautiful, and well cultivated; immediately round the castle the pleasure-grounds were enchanting; a sunk and invisible fence protected them from the intrusion of man or beast.
What had once been a triumphal arch was the entrance to these grounds, and to the castle. The arch itself was a beautiful object¾it remained in nearly a perfect state in many places¾ivy had crept into its crevices, and intwining with odoriferous plants, that grow wild in Africa, hung round it in festoons, formed by the hand of nature; a guard was kept near this entrance, day and night; and a drawbridge, thrown over a clear stream that ran through the grounds into the bay, was always lowered when necessary, and immediately drawn up on the side towards the castle.
The sun had risen above the horizon as our travellers entered the arch, and passed the bridge; and, sad as Cava was, and woeful as were her thoughts, she was so sensibly struck by the beauty of the scene, that she exclaimed¾ “Was ever any thing so romantic, so lovely! alas! why should force constrain one to live even in such a paradise as this!” Zamora pressed her hand and sighed; Zulima’s countenance could not express a malignant passion, for her heart was good; but it was now tinged with a degree of melancholy, and a slight cloud passed over it, that seemed to intimate that Zulima would rather the Gothic princess should disapprove of her prison, than admire its beauties.
Having passed the arch and the bridge, their conductors wound round the bay to approach the castle. The chariot rolled lightly over the verdant turf, that spread down to the water-edge, whose uniformity was broken by tall trees, some of which, stretching their luxuriant branches over the bay, were reflected on its glassy surface. Clumps of rose and orange trees met the eye, and loaded every gale with their perfume.
“Here Nature shed her vernal sweets around,
And fancy wander’d o’er Elysian ground.”
Content alone was wanting to the mind of Cava to render this spot delightful to her; yet even to the sad bosom the contemplation of nature’s beautiful works will often afford a temporary pleasure; if it cannot entirely obliterate past or present ills, it leads the sufferer to place dependence only on that Eternal Being who has had power to create all those wonders, and who has given his almighty word, that perfect bliss in happier worlds shall reward patient unmerited sufferings here.
The fleet Arabian horses, well knowing the track they were pursuing, scarcely touched the ground, and throwing their proud heads into the air, champing their silver bits, and snuffing the fragrant gale, soon stopped before the palace gates. Ready slaves in Moorish habits waited to receive the princess and Zamora; and Zulima, preceding them, led the way, through a suit of apartments, to an inner room in the castle, where we shall leave our fair travellers to the bath, and to repose after so long a journey, and turn our eyes to the palace of count Julian, where it is full time Alonzo should have arrived.
That brave prince, after a short voyage, tedious however to his distracted mind, landed safely on the coast of Africa, and made the utmost speed to reach the castle. He was soon in the presence of the countess, whose pale cheek was suffused with the flush of hope, on beholding the gallant youth.
Since the loss of Cava, the countess had remained unmolested in her castle, and every part of count Julian’s government continued in profound peace. The countess had written to Musa, entreating him to be sincere with her; and, if her child was his hostage, to give her the satisfaction of knowing she was in honourable hands.
Musa, innocent and ignorant of the offence committed, gave the countess every assurance that he was incapable of ever sanctioning such an outrage, and that he would do his utmost to discover the offender, and he should be treated as he deserved. Musa little imagined, was the offender at that moment made known to him, he dare not punish, or even counter act him, without endangering his own future safety. At present, his assurances satisfied the countess that her daughter was not in his hands; and, sorrowing, she resorted to every possible means of discovering the place of her seclusion.
Occupied in these researches, and with a broken constitution, Alonzo found her on the verge of the tomb; her spirits and her hopes were a little revived by the presence of her beloved nephew; and she anxiously inquired every circumstance that related to her husband, and their recent victories.
The prince, willing to give her comfort, and to render her now certainly short life as peaceful as was in his power, turned to her the bright side of the picture¾related not the remorse of count Julian¾the insolence of the Saracens¾nor the deep woes of the Christians¾and the sad massacre that had been made of them. Amiable as the countess was, she rejoiced at the death of Rodrigo; it was not in human nature to do otherwise; and, sanguine in her presentiments, she firmly believed it was the forerunner of peace and happiness to Spain; and she flattered herself, was Cava once restored to her arms, she should have nothing more to wish for in this world. Alonzo felt a faint satisfaction in being able to console her by harmless evasions; and every moment that he spent from her, was given to inquiries respecting Cava.
Weeks had now passed, and no light was thrown upon the business; every soul in the castle that could have been accessory to the elopement of the princess was strictly interrogated, not only once, but often; and to the searching eyes of Alonzo, their countenances betrayed no guilt. He now began to despond; he paced the palace gardens for hours in the evening, while the countess reposed, to meditate on what his future conduct should be. No consideration on earth could tempt him to relinquish his search for the beloved of his soul. Should fate be propitious to his wishes, and again give her to his sight, his intention was to unite his destiny to hers, to place her in safety; and then joining himself to the brave and patriotic don Palayo, assist him in reducing the Moors to obedience, or obliging them to quit Spain.
In these hopes, in these wishes he indulged, while he waited the return of many faithful messengers he had dispatched to all parts of the country, to trace, if possible, the steps of the dear fugitive. Pensively and slowly, during the twilight, Alonzo wandered through the delicious gardens that surrounded the palace; and as, in all ages, poetry has had peculiar charms for lovers, and soothed their sorrows with its dulcet sounds, so it now held its soft influence over Alonzo’s mind, and to the lone woods and listening echoes he repeated the following lines: ¾
Ye flowers that bright in living colours glow,
Ye gales which sweet o’er op’ning roses blow,
Ye lawns, enliven’d by the solar beam,
Ye groves, that wave o’er contemplation’s dream,
How aptly were your peaceful joys design’d,
To match the temper of my Cava’s mind,
Which here from courts, and busy crowds remov’d,
Enjoy’d the calm retirement that it lov’d!
But now no more these blooming sweets excite
The finer sense of elegant delight;
The vernal pride of drooping Nature fades,
No more my Cava’s smiles illume the shades;
No more with music’s soft prevailing art,
The beauteous harmonist enchants the heart;
Nor zephyr wafts along the vocal grove,
Such sounds as list’ning angels might approve;
Why once were these transporting pleasures known?
Or why, alas! irreparably flown?
A long time had now elapsed, and the many persons that both Alonzo and the countess had employed to search for information relative to the princess, returned unsuccessful in their pursuit. The fond lover began to despair¾the countess became more wretched, and visibly declined. She was also much alarmed at not hearing from count Julian. Since the arrival of the prince, not a line had she received in answer to her many letters; and she now doubted whether her messengers had ever reached him.
Alonzo, fearful of some disaster having befallen the count, could scarcely disguise his apprehensions from his aunt; and, to avoid the distressing questions she put to him, he retired one night sooner than usual from her apartment, and descending into the garden of the castle, he continued for a length of time to pace one of the walks, which lay beneath the windows of that part of the castle formerly occupied by Cava. This was the spot he generally chose when he wished to indulge his most melancholy humours. He was now lost in the contemplation of his wayward fate, and in the sad lot that from his cradle had fallen to his share. Disappointed in all his hopes, his heart deeply wounded, the future presented nothing to make life desirable; and all his thoughts were turned to losing it with honour, when he perceived that he was followed by some person muffled in a dark cloak, which prevented his ascertaining whether the person who followed him was male or female. The steps approached¾he turned suddenly round¾the figure retreated, and the prince pursued, anxious to find who could dare at that hour to enter the garden. The figure advanced to a turret close to Cava’s apartments, and pointed to a small door in the wall, which the prince had never before noticed; it was now half open; and by signs he was invited to enter it. Alonzo had the soul of a lion, but he hesitated to advance, lest he might fall into some snare, or perhaps be attacked by ruffians in the dark, and unable to make resistance. He unsheathed his sabre, and stood still. The muffled figure seemed distressed at his hesitation, and visible apprehension of treachery; and coming towards him in a supplicating manner, threw off the covering which concealed the face, and he saw, with astonishment, that it was a woman who had alarmed him.
She now, in a soft accent, entreated him to follow her, as she wished to lead him to one who had a communication to make, of the utmost consequence for him to hear. “There is no time to be lost,” cried she; “if you wish to recover the princess Cava, follow me, I beseech you; you have no treachery to apprehend from me.”
Alonzo perceived that tears were trickling down her cheeks in abundance, and her face was pale as death. She waited not for an answer to her words, but passing quickly through the door, she held it open for him; he followed her in haste. To have heard any thing with certainty of Cava, he would have braved death. The woman carefully shut the door the moment he had entered, and, taking hold of his hand, she led him gently through some dark and winding passages, and up a flight of narrow stairs, into a small room, which he knew must belong to a turret of the castle. It was well furnished, lights stood upon a table, and he saw there were two doors in it, besides the one at which he had just entered. His companion as carefully closed that door as she had done the one which led from the garden; and Alonzo was not a little surprised, when it was shut, to find that the most curious eye could not perceive that there was an entrance to the room in that spot; it closed by a spring, and the smallest crevice was not discernible.
The woman, throwing her cloak on a table, begged he would remain there for a few minutes, till she should prepare her sick husband to receive him. She said this in such deep affliction, and appeared so interesting, that Alonzo was moved to pity, and answered he would wait her return. She opened a door leading into another apartment, in which he saw a light, and he heard a faint voice ask—“Have you prevailed on him to come? shall I see him before I die?” The prince heard not the answer, it was in so low a voice; but in a few minutes the afflicted female returned, drowned in tears; she spoke not, but took the hand of Alonzo, and led him to the bedside of a man, who appeared not to have long to live. How was he astonished, on examining the countenance of the invalid, to find him one he well knew, and count Julian’s most confidential servant, and captain of the castle guard!
The prince having no suspicion of his fidelity, but believing he had heard something of his beloved Cava, that he wished to impart to him, expressed the utmost concern at seeing him so ill; and taking his seat by the couch, entreated he would compose himself, and give him the satisfaction of knowing if he had been more successful than himself in his search for the Gothic princess.
Fabian (for so was he called) stared wildly at Alonzo, saying¾“You think well of me, you treat me with kindness, and I deserve your malediction; you know not that the wretch before you assisted in carrying her off whom you adore; and, bribed by cursed gold, sold her to the Moor.”
Here Fabian’s voice became extinct, his head fell upon his pillow, and he fainted. His wife flew to him, raised him up, and chaffing his temples, endeavoured to restore him to life; Alonzo, in the utmost trepidation, assisted her to support him, while she administered a cordial. He dreaded Fabian’s death more than he would have done his own; to know what he did, and know no more, was a worse misfortune than any he had yet laboured under; and he trembled so, that with difficulty he could support the dying man.
In some time Fabian opened his eyes, and seemed more composed, and more himself than he had been before his fit. Alonzo, subduing all his own feelings, entreated him to calm his spirits, and narrate faithfully all he knew respecting Cava, and he should have his full pardon for the past.
“And will you,” cried Fabian, “commiserate a dying wretch? will you have the angelic goodness to keep secret his crimes, and by so doing, save his innocent wife and infant son from disgrace and ruin?”
“I will do anything you wish,” hastily answered Alonzo, fearful he would expire before he could relate the truth; “I will save you from infamy, provided you faithfully declare the truth, and give me a clue to recover the lost princess.”
Fabian, seeing his wife violently affected, motioned to her to leave the room; then raising himself on his couch, he turned to his astonished auditor, saying¾“Fear not my sudden dissolution; I feel that I have some strength left, and I thank Heaven that has enabled me to make use of these last moments of my life, to atone, in some measure, for the only action of that life that I can look back to with grief.”
“I beseech you,” interrupted Alonzo, “give me every possible information, and I will then listen to what you have further to say.”
The sick man, again raising himself from his pillow, with a look of the deepest anguish, gazing on the prince, addressed him in the following words:¾
“You are sensible, don Alonzo, that I have been for some years in the greatest favour with count Julian; you know also that I served him most faithfully; he depended on and consulted me in every emergency; and never did I deceive him but in this last vile act. I was acquainted with all his schemes for the conquest of Spain, and assisted him with my best advice. When he brought his daughter back to Africa, he invited the Moors to partake of the festivities of this castle. The caliph’s son, Aleanzar, came with Musa; it was I presented him to the countess and the princess Cava, and from that moment I was satisfied he was deeply enamoured.” Here Fabian remarked that Alonzo’s expression of countenance was changed from pity to anger; and stopping in his narrative, he cried, “Think not too hardly of me, Alonzo; I knew not of your mutual love; this count Julian had carefully concealed from me. I saw a great, a handsome, and accomplished prince, heir to the first throne in the world, enamoured of Cava; I believed she might be brought to love him, though an Infidel, and be completely happy. You know my situation in this court is a distinguished one; I lived at great expence, and had nearly ruined my fortune. Shame made me keep my poverty a secret, even from count Julian; it was a false shame, a shame that led to ill. The poor may be proud, when they can bear the sting of poverty with true greatness of mind, when they can say, ‘I am poor, but I am just, honourable, and virtuous. Alas, alas! I feel this truth too late; my fallible nature was not able to bear worldly want. But to return to my sad story. Aleanzar distinguished me, unfortunately, from all at count Julian’s court, and made me the confidant of his love. At first I listened to him from politeness; I soon grew interested for his success. He declared to me his intention of marrying the Gothic princess, and placing her on his throne. He gave me many proofs of his friendship; and promised, at no distant period, to make me rich and powerful. In the course of our many conversations, he shewed so good a heart, that I thought not of his being a Mahometan; and fully believed I was not committing a crime when I consented to enter into his scheme for carrying away the princess. He swore to me by his Prophet, he would treat her in a way to conciliate her esteem; and, if he could not gain her affections, and prevail on her willingly to accept him as her husband, he would return her in safety to her mother. You must have been informed by the countess of all that occurred till the night of Cava’s disappearance, and it is needless to repeat it. You see the situation of this part of the castle; it is a turret built close to the apartments always occupied by Cava. This tower belongs exclusively to the captain of count Julian’s guard, and he inhabits it, that he may always be near the governor; the entrance to it is from the other side the castle, and the small door in the garden, through which you entered, was never supposed to have the least communication with the rooms in which we now are, nor do I ever remember to have seen it opened. One morning, being alone in the small apartment through which you passed to this, as I was pacing the floor, and reading a letter, I had received on material business from the count, my foot slipt, and I fell with some violence against the wall, and was astonished to find I had burst open a small door, of which I had not before had the least knowledge; I examined it, and found I had touched a secret spring, without doing it any injury, for I could now open and close the door with the greatest ease. Curiosity prompted me to see where it led to; I descended the stairs by the dark passages through which you passed, and found, close to them, another flight of stairs; they led to the apartments of the princess; and at the top I descried a door, constructed with a spring, in the same manner as that in my tower. Knowing that it was the time of day in which Cava was always with the countess, I ventured to push back the spring, and found myself in a moment in the chamber which has the balcony to the garden. I staid not a moment; I was satisfied I could gain admittance whenever I pleased; and, descending the stairs, I examined the small door at the bottom; it opened on the pleasure grounds, and was strongly barred inside. I was now master of a secret, unknown even to count Julian himself; for had he been acquainted with the staircases, doors, and dark passages, he never would have suffered his daughter’s apartments to remain in the state they were, exposed to any one who should make the discovery of the secret communication. When I became the guilty wretch I am, and entered into Aleanzar’s schemes for carrying off the princess, I made him acquainted with the passages. At the foot of the stairs, Aleanzar, with one of his friends, concealed themselves the night he was to steal Cava from her home. It was done without the least noise or alarm. I had given him a key, to open a door in the wall at the extremity of the grounds, beyond the waterfall. He had a troop of horse concealed in the wood, which lies beyond our nightly round; and to facilitate his getting off unseen, I took the guard to the contrary side of the castle; and, at the appointed hour, gave him a signal agreed on between us. Aleanzar was active; he lost no time; and when I came round to the spot with my guard, all appeared perfectly safe; but now my misery began, and the tranquillity that reigned around had forsaken my heart; my conscience smote me, and I dreaded to see my innocent wife, who was perfectly ignorant of my sad conduct. I soon returned home, more dead than alive. A large purse of gold, that Aleanzar had left for me, instead of comforting, added torture to my mind. I would have fallen at the countess’s feet, and owned my crime, but I knew my life must be the price of my treason, and I could not bring myself to load my innocent family with my guilt and shame. Very soon my health declined; and, by the entreaties of my unhappy wife, who saw the tortures of my mind, I was prevailed on to make her acquainted with my fatal secret; and she, on her knees, besought me to inform you of the whole guilty transaction, that you may endeavour to recover the princess.”
Here the unfortunate and penitent Fabian seemed so violently agitated, that Alonzo was fearful of another fit, and pressed him to say where he should seek Cava.
Fabian, scarcely able to articulate, drew from under his pillow a sketch of the place she was to be carried to, with the name of the bay, and the adjacent villages on the coast of the Mediterranean. “I know not how far it is by land,” said Fabian, “but I advise you to go by sea, to land at some distance from Aleanzar’s palace, and endeavour to recover her by stratagem; force will not avail; Aleanzar has his castle well guarded; and it is near enough to the seat of Musa’s government, for him to command, in a short time, what troops he might want, should you attempt force.”
The dying wretch then offered the prince the gold he had been bribed with, as he might want it for his expedition. This Alonzo absolutely refused; though he detested the miserable being who was capable of acting so vile a part, and who was the cause of such distress to his Cava, he, in consideration of his repentance, and the information he had given him, faithfully promised not to blast his memory, by divulging his treachery. Fabian, in agony, entreated his forgiveness, which he granted, and then left the apartment; the piece of parchment, and what he had learned form the dying Fabian, being his only clue to find his lost Cava.
The disconsolate woman led the prince down stairs, and again through the garden door. She seemed so amiable and so wretched, that Alonzo, touched with her situation, endeavoured to comfort her, by giving her every assurance of his secrecy, and his future protection for her and her child. She prayed Heaven to restore Cava to him, and her looks and tears spoke the sincerity of her heart.
When Alonzo returned to the garden, he continued in it a considerable time, musing on all he had heard, and all he ought to do; he did not wish to trust himself that night in the presence of the countess; he feared dropping a hint of what lay so heavy on his mind. He sent his aunt word he had some particular business, that must, for that night, prevent his going to her apartments; but he would see her in the morning, when, he hoped to have something to communicate that would give her pleasure. When he retired to rest, a thousand schemes presented themselves; and it was morning before the perturbation of his mind would suffer him to take any repose.
The countess scarcely spent a less anxious night; she could not doubt that Alonzo’s message related to her lost child; and when morning came, her impatience to see him was extreme. Alonzo with caution entered on the subject nearest his heart, and informed the unhappy countess of the chance there was of recovering Cava. She heard with astonishment that she was in the hands of the Moors; and hastily said, “Aleanzar is honourable, at least I believe him so; love has induced him to steal Cava, but surely he will restore her to my prayers.” Alonzo would not wound her by a doubt, but he had no such hope; he knew too well the power of the Gothic princess’s charms, to believe she would be easily resigned. He disclosed to the countess all he could disclose, without betraying the unhappy author of her sorrow. He carefully kept Fabian’s sad secret, while he consulted the countess on the preparations he was already making for his voyage to that part of the coast where Aleanzar’s castle lay; and he assured her, if he ever again entered the castle of count Julian, it should be to restore Cava to her arms.
The countess, though still dreadfully alarmed for the fate of her child, found consolation in every word that fell from Alonzo; and, embracing him with a mother’s fondness, assured him that all her hopes rested on his exertions. “I know what they will be,” said she, with a more satisfied expression of countenance than she had worn for a length of time; “I know your heart, and how true it is; I know your undaunted valour; but be careful of yourself, Alonzo, for mine and for Cava’s sake; let not love lead you to rashness; let wisdom, cool wisdom, preside over your actions, and then we may hope success. I will now attend to my health, and wait with patience and with hope the end of your dangerous expedition.”
During this conversation, an officer entered to inform the countess of the death of Fabian, the captain of her guard; and Alonzo found it difficult to retain his secret, when he saw the countess much affected at this news, and heard her declare, while she lamented his loss, that she knew not how count Julian could ever replace so faithful and attached a friend and servant.
Alonzo sighed, as he reflected on the weakness and blindness of mortals; and his sigh passed as sorrow for him who had borne so fair a character, and was now so tenderly lamented. The prince soon withdrew, and sought a friend whom he could trust, and make a partner in an expedition, certainly subject to many disagreeable hazards, and in which he could not flatter himself he had a certainty of succeeding; but love hopes every thing, and dangers and hardships were nothing to Alonzo, where Cava was at stake.
He had never seen her since her illness at Toledo ¾ he was conscious she wished to avoid him; nay, even never to see him more ¾ he had never yet doubted her constant affection ¾ he had never yet feared a rival in her heart ¾ he only feared he had not sufficient influence over her mind, to make her change the resolution she declared to her mother she had so positively taken, of leading a single life in the seclusion of a cloister. Now, in spite of himself, jealousy had some little sway over his mind; he knew her in the power of Aleanzar, who, not a tyrant, but an obsequious lover, would make use of every art to render himself pleasing to the object of his affection.
The character that Fabian had given Aleanzar, he knew to be no fictitious one ¾ the countess had drawn the same picture of the Moorish prince ¾ he was the handsomest, the most accomplished man in his father’s dominions ¾ his amiable manners endeared him to all the Saracens; and the caliph boasted of his son. Possessed of little vanity, Alonzo doubted his own merits, when contrasted with his rival’s, and feared that Cava might doubt them too. But love, all-powerful love, came to his aid, and bid him reflect how sincere, how true, he had always found his Cava; and asked him, did not perfect love for one object exclude all others, however great their merits, from a heart so truly, so entirely devoted, as hers had long been? he also knew her mind was above the influence of worldly grandeur. These reflections produced a calm in Alonzo’s breast, and he occupied himself incessantly with preparations for his departure; and, following the advice of Fabian, he secretly procured an excellent boat, manned it with a small and brave crew, completely under his command, and well paid for their service; and having taken leave of the countess, he, with his friend Valasquez, a young soldier of distinction, who constantly attended him, left count Julian’s palace in the middle of the night; and having privately entered the boat in waiting, they were off the coast before the dawn of day.
WE must now return to Cava, who has been a long time a resident in the castle of Aleanzar. We have seen in the last chapter how the Moor made himself master of her person, and what were his intentions towards her. Fabian had not given a false character of this young prince; though rash, and sometimes violent in his conduct, he was humane and generous; his admiration of the Gothic princess was unbounded, and led him to commit an outrage he could not justify, even to himself; but finding, through his past life, that every obstacle sunk before his will, he persuaded himself, if he had Cava once at his castle, he should, by tenderness, assiduity, and indulgence, gain her heart; for he knew not that it was irrevocably given to another. He was also secure that the fair Zamora would exert herself to further his wishes, and place his character and his love in that point of view in which he could wish the princess to behold it.
We left Cava arrived at the castle; and however she might be displeased at the manner in which she had been conducted there, her senses were fascinated by all she saw. When she and Zamora had had some repose, Zulima informed them they must dress, and prepare to receive her master who intended that evening to pay them a visit. She then opened the apartments appointed for the use of the princess, who had the satisfaction of finding they were in the suit of those occupied by Zamora. In her dressing-room were wardrobes, containing various habits, rich, beautiful, and elegant, with every other article of dress, either for use or luxury, all made exactly to her shape, and in the Gothic fashion. The furniture of the apartments were appropriate and magnificent; the luxury of the east was here displayed; the looms of Persia had been ransacked, to furnish hangings for the walls, and coverings for the swelling sofas that surrounded the apartments. China displayed its brightest hues, in vases filled with every odoriferous plan that Africa produced.
A beautiful and long gallery was common to the two suits of rooms set apart for the fair friends; this gallery looked to the sea, and opened on the side to a balcony, covered with a silk awning, and from which the eye was charmed with the interesting, though not extensive, view that it took in. The beautiful bay, the rocks, the woods, the pleasure-grounds, were all visible from the gallery, and presented scenery that might be well compared to a Mahometan paradise. The gallery itself appeared decorated by the hand of taste ¾ the walls shone with gold and azure ¾ the concave ceiling represented a brilliant and cloudless night (such as the Arabians are accustomed to behold), with the moon in full splendor, surrounded by unnumbered stars, and the heavenly bodies moved as in their natural course. In the middle of the gallery, a fountain of rose-water continually played into a bason of the purest white marble, richly carved, and supported by a pedestal of the same. This fountain, adding to the magnificence of the apartment, also cooled and embalmed the air; carpets and silks of Persia spread their gay tints, to embellish this luxurious abode; and rich cushions were spread throughout the whole of the gallery.
As was the custom of the Moors, sentences from the Alcoran, and verses in the Arabian language, of their own composition, were inscribed on the windows, and over the doors of the apartments.
Over the door of the gallery, Cava read as she entered it ¾
“This delicious spot, oh! charming princess, is ornamented by the hand of love, directed by Aleanzar, son of the mighty caliph.
“Let all here please and gratify thee; thou sweeter than the rose of Samarcand, more timid than the plant that recoils at mortal touch, withdraw thee not from the tenderness of Aleanzar. Thy presence in this delicious abode, renders it to him the paradise of his Prophet.”
As the princess read these words, instead of gratifying, they distressed her. No love but one could find entrance in her heart.
She turned to look at Zamora; she saw her in a melancholy attitude contemplating the writing. The fair Moor perceiving Cava’s eyes were fixed attentively upon her, placing her arm within hers, led her in silence to the other end of the gallery, where they were both surprised to find, placed in the most conspicuous situation, a large picture, in which the likeness of the Gothic princess was most exactly portrayed at full length. The background of the picture was the garden of her father’s palace, with a distant view of the turret. She was drawn standing near the waterfall, and Aleanzar kneeling at her feet, and, in a supplicating posture, offering her a globe and sceptre.
Cava looked at the picture, sorrowful and displeased. Zamora perceived it, and said, “Is it possible, charming princess, that you can be insensible to the love of such a man as Aleanzar?”
“Insensible,” returned Cava, “my heart insensible! Oh! Zamora, you little know my heart.” Then looking again at the picture, she added, “Dear native home, you are lost to me, perhaps for ever.” Zamora turned pale ¾ she hesitated ¾ another question was on her lips, when Zulima interrupted the conversation, by putting them in mind of the bath and their toilet.
In those hot climates, the bath is as necessary as sleep; and both Cava and the Moor willingly followed Zulima.
Cava had determined within herself what her future conduct should be, and she felt a great degree of security in the company of Zamora. She was distressed at the necessity of making use of the habiliments procured for her by Aleanzar; there was however no alternative; except the habit she had on when she was carried from her father’s castle, she had nothing of her own; and she chose rather to make use of a Spanish dress than Zamora’s Moorish one; her wish was to make choice of the most simple; she had no desire to heighten her charms; but every thing prepared for her was so rich and elegant, it was almost indifferent of which she made her choice.
So much time had been employed in repose after their journey, in examining the apartments, in the bath, and at the toilet, it was evening before they again entered the gallery, where low sofas were placed for them near the balcony, that they might enjoy the fresh evening breeze from the bay, and behold its undulating waters, as they glittered beneath the glowing crimson of a setting sun.
The princess and Zamora had not long been seated, when Aleanzar was announced; he entered with a majestic and disturbed air: the fair inhabitants of his castle rose to receive him. When approaching Cava, he threw himself at her feet, and endeavoured to deprecate her anger by the most submissive language, in which he pleaded love as an excuse for his conduct. Zamora had withdrawn to the balcony, and Zulima remained at the extremity of the gallery.
With dignity, and a sweetness in her manner, of which Cava was never able to divest herself, she entreated Aleanzar to rise, as it was impossible for her to answer him, while he remained in so humiliating a posture.
The prince, abashed, obeyed her; he was prepared for her anger, but not for the mildness of her conduct.
Cava begged him to compose himself, and listen with patience to what she had to say. She sat down, and Aleanzar placed himself at her side. Alternately his countenance expressed shame, fear, haughtiness, and love; he several times passed his hand over his eyes, and pressed it to his forehead. Cava perceived the struggle of his soul, but concealing that she did so, she thus addressed him: ¾
“I want language, illustrious Aleanzar, to express the astonishment I feel at your conduct towards me; you profess to love and respect me, and you condescend to offer me your throne; yet you insult and outrage me in the most cruel manner ¾ you tear me from my home, from my weeping mother, from all that I hold dear on earth ¾ you bring me a prisoner to your castle, and leave my character to the mercy of a misjudging world. I put the question to your heart, Aleanzar ¾ is this a proof of your tenderness, of your respect? can you suppose it possible to gain a woman worthy of your love by such violence? Am I not, Aleanzar, a princess, descended from royal blood? should not that at least have secured me your respect? Hospitably received in count Julian’s castle, treated as a great prince, and looked on as a friend, could my father believe that Aleanzar, the son of the mighty caliph, should abuse his hospitality, break all his bonds of friendship, and steal, like a midnight robber, into his palace, to carry off his daughter, the comfort and solace of his declining years? What has been, do you think, my wretched mother’s sufferings, on missing her child? what terrors have been mine, since that unfortunate moment when you carried me to the cottage? (for I now suppose it was you, Aleanzar, who refused to answer me when I addressed you.) I was near sinking under the weight of my distress; and Zamora can witness for me, that my senses wandered, when her tenderness and humanity restored me to myself. I confess to you, Aleanzar, when I knew I was in your power, I felt some consolation. Guilty as I found you were, I could not believe, from what I know of your character, that your heart was a hardened one; and a hope sprung up in my bosom, that you would in the end be merciful and just; that you would become sensible of the enormity of your proceedings, and consent, at my earnest entreaty, to restore me to my father.”
Cava ceased speaking. She saw the violent agitation of the prince ¾ she had probed him to the quick ¾ he could scarcely bear her words ¾ his colour changed ¾ he struck his damp forehead with his hand ¾ the violence of his feelings prevented the power of speech, and, starting from his seat, he for some minutes paced the gallery, with folded arms and unequal steps ¾ pride and love warred in his bosom ¾ he was conscious of the offence he had given, but he could not endure the reproaches of Cava. As great as was his fondness for her, he found in her presence he was awed, and that his respect equalled his tenderness. Approaching her, he again threw himself at her feet, and with the utmost fervor entreated her pardon.
“Accuse me not too severely, incomparable Cava; love, love only, could tempt me to so unwarrantable an action as that I have been guilty of. I would repent it if I could; but when I behold you, when I have the supreme felicity to inhabit the same house, to breathe the same air with you, I am tempted, against my better judgment, to think I have not acted wrong. Forgive me, Cava, forgive the being who adores you, who offers you his kingdom and his heart, his undivided heart. Cava, I never before was repulsed by woman ¾ I never sued in vain; is your heart more hardened than the rest of your sex? And is Aleanzar, destined to the first throne in the world, fated to be wretched from unrequited love? Think, Cava, oh! think on what you reject; I only beseech you, take a little time to examine your own heart. You are queen, you are mistress here — you shall not be molested — I will not appear before you but when you allow me; only consent to remain here for some days. I never had a wish respecting you, but what was honourable. If you reject my passion, if you will leave me, give me time to reconcile myself to my hard fate. I swear to you by the Prophet (and you know with us how sacred is that oath), that if I cannot succeed in gaining your heart, I will restore you in safety to count Julian. Cava, will this satisfy your callous heart?”
Tears sprang to Aleanzar’s eyes; he tenderly pressed the hand of the princess, and raised it to his lips. She felt wretched — she saw Aleanzar at her feet — she could not doubt the sincerity of the passion he professed for her — she was fearful of every thing — she could have combated rage and anger — but his tenderness overcame her; and at the moment she refused him her love, she gave him her friendship. Cautious of exciting his resentment, and sensible how entirely she was in his power, she believed her most prudent plan was, for the present, to grant his request of remaining some days at the castle. Entreating him to rise, she said —
“I cannot, Aleanzar, doubt your honour; if remaining here for a short time will gratify you, and that you promise to restore me to my parents, I will not distress you by insisting on my immediate return; but I earnestly beseech you to build no hope on this condescension; there is none for you. I will even be explicit with you, and assure you, it has for some time been my fixed determination to withdraw myself from the world, and never to marry. I offer you my friendship, Aleanzar; never can I give you more; let me not be deceived in the hope of finding in you a friend, in the place of a lover. I need not tell you, prince, that love, if it confers happiness, must be mutual; and doubt not Cava’s truth, when she assures you she has no heart to bestow. She flies from love, more than she would from death, and only wishes to be allowed to enjoy solitude and peace.”
These words had a very different effect to what Cava expected. Aleanzar, instead of despairing, was animated with hope, on hearing this language from the princess. He did not conceive that her heart was pre-occupied; he only believed she had never met with an object she thought worthy of awakening her tenderness. His eyes sparkled with delight, convinced that time would do much in his favour, and that his tenderness, his attentions, would subdue her stubborn heart. He willingly promised all she desired, all she wished; and he gratefully accepted that friendship he secretly promised himself, no distant day would see transformed into love; he was now almost completely happy, and inwardly exulted in his fancied success.
Cava deceived herself, and Aleanzar deceived both himself and her.
The Gothic princess now rose from where she sat, and sought Zamora; she found the fair Moor in the balcony; she leaned on the railing, her eyes fixed on the sea, and she seemed sunk in deep thought — her cheek was pale, and her eye languid; yet Cava was struck with her uncommon beauty; she had not before perceived with what elegance and care she was adorned, and she stood looking at her for some moments in admiration, yet unwilling to interrupt her meditations. On Zamora’s perceiving Cava, she started, and asked with quickness where Aleanzar was? “In the gallery,” replied the princess; “we have had a long conversation, and it has ended well.” Zamora’s cheek grew still paler; but she was silent, and Cava continued. — “He has offered me his friendship; I have accepted it, on condition that if I remain here for a few days, he will afterwards restore me in safety to my mother.”
“Restore you to your mother!” cried the beautiful Moor, her eyes recovering their usual lustre, and a blush overspreading her charming face. “And is it possible, Cava, that you can be insensible to Aleanzar’s merits? that his person, his accomplishments, his devotion to yourself, can make no impression on a mind like yours?” and while she spoke, she looked earnestly at Cava, as if willing to ascertain the truth of her assertions.
“Believe me, Zamora, though I am truly sensible of Aleanzar’s value, I cannot love him; I wish only to return to my home; and I shall regret nothing but leaving you behind me: but wherever I go, dear Zamora, you must ever be remembered by me with the utmost tenderness, and be the chosen friend of the heart you think so obdurate.”
To this affectionate speech Zamora was replying in as affectionate language, when Aleanzar entered the balcony, with an air of cheerfulness and satisfaction; advancing towards the young Moor, he said, taking her hand fondly in his, “My beloved sister, I rejoice to see you again; I have much to ask of you; assist me, dear Zamora, to make my peace with this offended and too charming princess — plead for me, with that soft eloquence that so peculiarly belongs to you — excuse my faults to Cava — and oh! persuade her, Zamora, of the ardour of that love you know I feel for her.”
The Moor softly withdrew her hand; the blood that had rushed to her face forsook it, and flowed back in torrents on her heart; conscious it did so, she dropt her eyes upon the ground, while she answered, “Can Aleanzar command any thing that Zamora could refuse to do? Am I not indebted to you for life, fortune, honour? do you not treat me with the affection of a brother? know you not how deep the interest is which I take in your happiness? (again her face was crimsoned with blushes.) I would sacrifice my life, Aleanzar, to your felicity; would that my opinions could influence the princess! she knows already in what high estimation you are held by me; doubt not, Aleanzar, that your happiness must be Zamora’s.”
Cava, though at some distance, overheard most of this conversation, and willing to put an end to it, and keep Aleanzar to his promise, she turned to where he and the young Moor stood, saying, “I am grateful to you, Aleanzar, for the charming companion you have given me; while I exist, friendship for Zamora will find a place in my bosom; relying on the faith of your promises, illustrious prince, I expect you will soon release me from this beautiful prison. Convinced that Aleanzar will not falsify his word, while I remain, I shall neither torment you with reproaches or discontent; all I desire is to hear nothing more of love.”
The manner in which Cava addressed the prince was not calculated to give him offence; but he felt it had a resistless power — that it was hers to command, his to obey. Finding this was no time to further urge his suit, his hope was to steal upon her heart by degrees; and he secretly determined to devise a thousand schemes to prolong her stay at his castle, without appearing to fail in his promises to her. He now bowed submissive to her will, and only desired permission to visit, at times, the fair friends. This indulgence in his own palace was not to be refused. The prince, secretly elated with the advantages he had already gained, with an air of gaiety requested them to partake with him of a collation prepared in the gallery. He led them in; they found a table spread with every delicacy that luxury could invent to gratify the palate. Sherbet was handed round by slaves that had not before appeared; rose water and perfumes were presented towards the end of the repast; and the most delicious fruits heaped the board. Zulima still remained in the gallery; she sat not at the table with the prince, but he was not unmindful of her; he treated her with familiarity and kindness; and sent her, by a slave who seemed particularly to attend upon her, all he thought most exquisite in the repast. Aleanzar was cheerful and agreeable; he was careful not to offend or alarm Cava, by further professions of love; his eyes, it is true, were not silent; but his attentions were equally divided between the princess and the beautiful Moor.
All Cava’s terrors subsided, and she mentally wished that Aleanzar was her brother, and that she could remain secluded for life in that enchanting spot. Her penetration now discovered Zamora’s secret passion for Aleanzar; she rejoiced in the discovery, for she looked on it as impossible that his heart should long continue indifferent to such an assemblage of charms. She heard him call her sister, but gave no credit to this relationship. She was desirous of being acquainted with Zamora’s story, but now was no time to gratify her curiosity.
Aleanzar was of a communicative disposition, and the princess ventured to ask him what was doing in Spain. “Alas!” said she, a tear trembling in her eye, “my heart must be sad, when I reflect on the danger to which my beloved father is hourly exposed.”
Her filial affection rendered her a thousand times more interesting in the eyes of Aleanzar; and with an anxious wish to relieve her uneasiness of mind, he assured her, that in Spain every thing answered to their wishes — that Musa was going to send more troops there — that Abdalesis, his friend, had written to him that he was to command them — and had also informed him, that count Julian and the Moors had been successful in every engagement. “And is Alonzo safe?” hovered on the lips of Cava; prudence, however, stifled her words, as she was about to give them utterance; the restraint oppressed her, and tears silently bedewed her cheeks. Aleanzar could not endure the sight. What a treasure was that heart, which, though cold to him, seemed capable of the most tender affection!
Aleanzar rose from table. The evening was closed in, but the night was brilliant, “and not a breath disturbed the deep serene.” The prince proposed attending his fair guests into the pleasure-grounds that surrounded the castle; they were open to the bay, and the walk along the shore was perfectly enchanting. Elegant and high pavilions were erected in those spots where the landscape was most picturesque, and showed to the greatest advantage.
Aleanzar led the way, and Zulima followed the steps of Cava and Zamora, who, lowering their veils, descending arm in arm to the gardens, took the path leading to the shore.
A mind not insensible to the beauty of nature must have found gratification in such a paradise. Cava, enthusiastically fond of the country, was really charmed, and her softened heart for awhile “forgot all duties and all care.”
The night was too bright to conceal a single object that gave beauty to the scene; the moonbeams trembled on the waves, that with soft murmurs broke upon the shore, almost at their feet. Boats passing across the bay, the dashing of the distant oars, mixt with the song of the mariners, came, at intervals, in sweet cadence to their ear. Part of the castle, with the mountains beyond it, were in shade, and darkly visible; but the apartments through which they had passed, the gallery and balcony, were now illuminated by the slaves against their return, and threw a softened light on the garden beneath.
“And now the dew with spangles deck’d the ground;
A sweeter spot of earth was never found;
Here the fresh eglantine exhaled a breath,
Whose odours were of power to raise from death;
Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious care,
E’en though brought thither, could inhabit there;
But thence they fled, as from their mortal foe,
For this sweet place could only pleasure know.”
Cava, all truth, concealed not the delight such scenery afforded her; she expressed her feelings with energy, and every word she uttered thrilled to the heart of Aleanzar. Young, and sanguine in his expectations, he flattered himself with the ultimate success of his wishes. Hope exhilarated his spirits, sparkled in his eye, and animated his conversation. He expatiated with taste on the calm pleasures of a country life ¾ on the freedom that was enjoyed in sylvan scenes, when accompanied by those dearest to one’s heart. The great Aleanzar, the son of the caliph, and next his throne, forgot the world, his father’s court, his own future greatness, and in the retirement of a rural paradise, gave his whole soul to love; and perhaps, at this calm hour of the closing day, Aleanzar enjoyed a pleasure the world could never have afforded him. Conscious of his own worth, though he presumed not on it, he yet felt it might in time have its weight with her whom he adored. He looked with a degree of transport to the future ¾ the present was delightful, for Cava was near him. Nature appeared to have put on new charms, as he wandered with her through this delicious abode. He thought of the paradise promised by his prophet, and his heated imagination persuaded him he had realized it on earth. Cava and Zamora appeared to him more beautiful than the most perfect of the houris; and the fear only of mortally offending the princess, prevented his pouring forth the ardour of his soul at her feet.
Having long enjoyed their walk, they returned to the castle, where Aleanzar had ordered musicians and dancers to attend, in the hope of amusing his fair guest. In this Aleanzar failed ¾ neither the light bound, the graceful movements of the dancers, or the sprightly notes that animated them, was grateful to the heart of Cava.
Nature had exercised that influence over her mind, which it must ever do, where there is feeling and true taste. The efforts of art were lost upon her; and her countenance assuming the melancholy cast of her soul, she gazed with a vacant eye on the gay train whom Aleanzar had called for her amusement. Her troubled ideas reverted not only to her parents, her native home, to her lamented, regretted, and lost Alonzo, but to Toledo, to Egilone, to Favilla. Horror-struck at the remembrance of Rodrigo, she drove him from her thoughts; and the good father Anselmo presented himself to her imagination. His excellent understanding, his amiable disposition, his piety, she was well acquainted with; and she determined, when Aleanzar should restore her to liberty, (which she doubted not he would shortly do) that to this holy guide she would apply, to stand between her and her parents, and to obtain their leave for her spending the remainder of her life in a convent. Lost in these reflections, she still appeared to the prince and Zamora to attend to what was passing in the gallery. They were amused by the dancers, and supposed Cava beheld them with pleasure. Zulima only read the soul of the fair mourner; her good sense and experience told her she had deep sorrow. Zulima had spoken little to the princess since they first met; but she observed her, and she had heard a few sentences of that long conversation which had passed between her and Aleanzar, when he first entered the gallery. Zulima now approaching the cushions on which the princess sat, placed herself behind her; and when she thought she was not attended to by Aleanzar or Zamora, she whispered her in the Moorish language ¾
“Lovely Cava, I think I am in part acquainted with your sorrows; do not fear me, my princess; you may yet find in me a friend; and if you wish to do so, be silent, I conjure you, on what I have said.”
Cava started from her reverie; she was surprised at what she had heard, and lifting her eyes from the ground, on which they had been fixed, she was about to reply to the kind speaker; but she had withdrawn, and was now at the elbow of her master.
In a few minutes the music ceased, the dancers left the gallery, and sweetmeats and fresh fruits were carried round. At length the enamoured Aleanzar took his leave for the night, but not without assuring Cava, that while he had the felicity of her company at his castle, he would endeavour to vary the pleasures of their solitude to the utmost of his power.
Caring not for his attentions, unhappy at her present situation, and confused in her thoughts, the princess answered, “all she wished, all she desired of him, was soon to restore her to her mother.” At this speech, so unexpected at the moment, Aleanzar’s gay dreams of happiness faded “into thin air,” and with a gloomy countenance, and haughty demeanour, he quitted the apartment. Cava felt not subdued by his looks; if he treated her kindly, she would willingly give him her friendship ¾ nothing could purchase love. Zamora’s eyes followed him to the door, and as he left the gallery, an involuntary sigh escaped her bosom; conscious of it, and unwilling her fair companion should suspect her real feelings, she approached her with smiles, and proposed retiring for the night. This was what Cava wished; her harassed soul required repose. Zulima attended them to their respective apartments, where they found all that luxury and taste could give for their accommodation.
Zulima kindly wished them peaceful slumbers, and, unseen by Zamora, as she withdrew, turned to Cava, and placed her finger on her lips. The princess, understanding her meaning, made her a sign that she did so; and the delightful hope of finding a friend where she so little expected to meet one, in some measure tranquillized her mind; and with fervent prayers for the safety and happiness of those she loved, she closed her beauteous eyes in calm repose,
“And slept until the dawning beam,
Purpled the mountain and the stream.”
END OF VOL. I.