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 truth severe, in fairy fiction drest.
PRINTED AT THE
FOR A. K. NEWMAN AND CO.
A BRILLIANT sun had spread cheerfulness over
Cava, on unclosing her eyes, thought of the words Zulima had the night before addressed to her, and expected her appearance in her chamber; but no Zulima came; a ready young slave prepared every thing necessary to her toilet, and attended her with respect and assiduity. She pondered on Zulima’s words, and her caution in making use of them.
said she, mentally, “this woman cannot mean to deceive me; her countenance is
benevolent, her manner soft and engaging; but is she not devoted to Aleanzar?
Will she give me either her pity or assistance, if they militate against his
wishes? at all events, I will act with prudence, and not mention what has
In this frame of mind she met the young Moor in the gallery, where Zulima had prepared their morning repast. A message from Aleanzar was delivered to his fair guests, assuring them that they might, without molestation, enjoy the morning, either in the castle or the surrounding grounds; they had nothing to dread; no human footstep should intrude on their walks. He also requested permission to attend them at the evening banquet; when that was over, they should command whatever entertainment they chose within the castle: or they could inhale the fresh evening breeze in some fragrant bower, or among the rocks that bounded the pleasure-grounds. To do any thing but acquiesce in what the prince proposed was impossible; he asked nothing improper to be complied with, and he was all-powerful.
Cava and the lovely Moor availed themselves of the liberty allowed them to spend their mornings as they pleased. Zulima had many occupations in the palace during the day; and the princess found it was in vain for her to expect a private conversation with her till she chose to make an opportunity, though she most anxiously wished to question the Moor on the import of her words; and she now determined on finding, if possible, from Zamora, what was her situation, and also Zulima’s in the castle.
young friends (for friends they soon became) remained in the palace during the
sultry hours, where they could not breathe a wish for any thing but ready
slaves presented it; placed in the gallery, they found materials for
embroidery, and different instruments of music.
“Would,” cried Cava, “I could command one! he should instantly convey me to my father’s palace.”
“Unkind Cava,” replied the Moor, “how hard you have rendered your heart towards Aleanzar! What a happy lot would your’s be, could you look upon him in the light he deserves! Is there a being in the world but yourself who could reject him?”
words had scarcely passed the lips of the beautiful Moor, when she appeared in
the utmost confusion, at the vehemence with which she had spoken. The princess
saw her embarrassment, but appeared not to notice it; and taking up a lute that
lay near her, she touched it with her light fingers, and playing a melancholy
air, accompanied it with her voice; the song was artless, simple, and
melodious, and sunk into the soul.
violent heat of the morning was past, and wishing to breathe a purer air than
that of a room, Cava proposed quitting the castle for the garden. Enveloped in
their large veils, they wandered from walk to walk, form bower to bower, when
perceiving a winding path that led to the top of a craggy rock that hung over
the bay, Cava asked
“I know not,” answered the Moor; “I never ascended it.”
Cava looked surprised, and asked, “Have you not lived here a long time?”
have chiefly lived here since Aleanzar resided in Africa, except when we
inhabited the cottage to which you were brought: but,” added the fair Moor,
smiling, “this place was not what it now is when I last saw it. When I got
within the arch the day of our arrival, I scarcely recognised the
Here she was silent: Cava mused, and answered not, but slowly ascended the winding path that led up the rock.
Arrived about middle way, they found a seat constructed in a rustic manner, but commodious, covered over head by the shelter of thick trees from the summer sun, and surrounded with rose-bushes and odoriferous plants. The spot in itself was sequestered; and seated here, the fair friends became invisible to the prying eye of mortal. The scene that lay before them was extensive and beautiful. To the right they had a full view of the delicious garden, with the castle in perspective. The mountains covered with wood, which enclosed this charming abode, added grandeur and beauty, without giving gloom to the prospect. On the left the bay, with its glittering waves, gave animation and brilliancy to the scene; and the light skiffs that were continually gliding over its smooth bosom, or labouring on its agitated waters, presented a moving picture, of which the charmed spectator could never tire.
young friends here took possession of the rustic seat, as if by mutual consent,
though both were silent.
Cava, whose thoughts had quitted this earthly paradise, to wander over bloody fields with her father and Alonzo, was roused from her musing by the deep sighs of the young Moor; and gently taking her hand, she said, “Dear Zamora, why this sorrow? If you think me worthy of your friendship, reveal to me, I beseech you, the cause of your grief; if I cannot relieve your woe, I may at least speak comfort.”
While she spoke she beheld tears trickle through the fingers of the charming Moor, while she concealed her face with her hands.
Cava’s tenderness appeared to comfort her; and raising her head, and wiping with her veil the tears that had dimmed her brilliant eyes, she answered—“I sensibly feel, charming princess, the interest you take in the sorrow that at this moment I could not suppress; a train of thought produced it: the reflection of what I once was, and what I now am, struck so forcibly on my mind, that tears flowed involuntarily. Excuse the pain I have given you—let us return to the castle; I will endeavour to be more cheerful.”
Cava spoke, she raised her hands and eyes to heaven, and her form appeared
seraphic. Had a painter sketched her figure at the moment, it would have been
the finest picture of religion that could have been pourtrayed.
Here she paused; and Cava said, “I have heard Aleanzar call you sister, Zamora; do you really stand in that degree of relationship to him?”
“Alas! no,” replied Zamora, her colour changing, and a tear starting to her eye, “the prince honours me with the fond appellation, but, alas! I am only his slave.”
“His slave!” cried Cava, starting, “his slave! Is it possible?”
“Listen to me,” replied Zamora, “and you will soon be acquainted with my misfortunes, and with the excellent heart of Aleanzar. Oh Cava! how little do you know the value of that heart!—but I see your impatience, and will not disappoint it.
“My eyes first opened on the light in a splendid palace that belonged to my father in Damascus. He was the first subject, and chief favourite of the present caliph, father to the prince Aleanzar. My father and the caliph had been bred together; and it appeared, that from their early years the caliph considered Mustapha (for so was my father called) as a brother. They were scarcely ever separated; and their studies and pleasures were the same. The caliph became a reigning prince at an early age, and wished Mustapha to fill one of the first offices in the state; but this he strongly objected to. He told the caliph he would lead his troops to battle, but he would never enter into the intrigues of a court. He was immensely rich, by the fortune my grandfather had left him, and also by the bounty of the caliph; he had therefore no wish to accumulate more treasure than he knew what to do with. Naturally of a retired disposition, mild and virtuous, he sought not a crowd to drown reflection.
“When he was not with the caliph, he mostly spent his time at his own palace, which, from its situation at the extremity of the city, and from the extensive grounds belonging to it, equalled any of the royal palaces, and was almost a paradise. My father was more addicted to learning than those of our nation generally are; he was fond of strangers, and, I may say, picked up from others all the learning of the known world. All the merchants, pilgrims, and travellers, that came to Damascus, if worth notice, were entertained at his house. An Egyptian, who, from his wisdom, was reputed by the vulgar to be deep in magic, was a great favourite with Mustapha, who laughed at what was said, and never took the trouble of contradicting it. The caliph, in disguise, and alone, often spent whole days with my father at his palace, where he could with freedom enjoy himself, and the company of wise and experienced men of all nations, who knew not that they were conversing with the caliph; and he, in this way, heard truths that never could otherwise have come to his ears. The Egyptian became as great a favourite with the caliph as he was with my father. He instructed them both in astronomy; and they have often spent whole nights in Mustapha’s garden, attending to his lectures on the heavenly bodies. Sesostris, the Egyptian, knew not the caliph; he believed him a friend of Mustapha’s, and about the person of the prince.
“In some time, the courtiers began to murmur at the high favour my father was in. The envious and fearful spirit that prevails in courts persuaded them, that Mustapha aimed at possessing himself of the sole power of the state, at the very moment he refused that power with which the caliph anxiously wished to invest him.
‘What have I,’ said my father to the prince, ‘what have I to desire more than I enjoy? free from the weight of government, I have the happiness, in our private hours, of calling the greatest and the best of men my friend. With you I enjoy those tranquil and elegant pleasures, only to be found in the company of the wise and enlightened men, which my ample fortune gives me the power of drawing to my palace. Permit me, my gracious master, to refuse those honours your friendship would load me with; they might exalt me in the eye of the world, of which I wish not to attract the envy. Your friendship exalts me in my own mind; it gives me, united to the other blessings I enjoy, all the happiness I wish on earth.
The caliph smiled on my father; he, great as he was, felt flattered by the strong attachment such a superior man as Mustapha had to him, and he said, ‘Act, Mustapha, as best suits your inclinations; I leave you free will; and till your heart is warmed by love, I firmly believe affection to your prince will entirely occupy it.”
‘It will for ever occupy it,’ answered my father; ‘love is out of the question; I can admire beauty, without being subjugated by it—it must be something more than a lovely form that could win my heart; and our women are only grown children; the confinement they live in keeps them in such ignorance, that they can only be agreeable as the companions of an idle hour.’
‘I once thought as you do, Mustapha,’ answered the caliph, ‘and have seen my seraglio filled with beauties, whose charms faded when I took the smallest pains to investigate their minds: eat up with vanity, without any knowledge but that of displaying their persons to advantage, or a wish but to impose on their lovers, their silly conversation soon disgusted me; and I often left the apartments of the women, convinced it was a truth that the sex were devoid of souls; but my charming sultana Ariana has convinced me I was mistaken; I look on her as a perfect being—but you, Mustapha, shall not rest the belief of her perfections on me; you shall judge for yourself; I must carry you this night to sup with her, and you will then allow I am as fortunate in love as in friendship.’
“Mustapha bowed in gratitude to the prince, and was pleased that his curiosity would be gratified by having a near view of the sultana; and on the caliph’s account, he wished to find her as amiable as a lover had represented her.
“Ariana was from Persia; she was of royal blood, and had been united to the caliph three years before this conversation of the prince with Mustapha. My father had never seen her but from the window of the caliph’s private apartment, once that he happened to be there as the sultana was walking in the gardens of the palace; and though he saw she was very beautiful, and heard she was very amiable, he knew nothing more of her.
“The evening came, and Mustapha only waited for a signal to attend the caliph. I have often heard him say, he never felt as he did for an hour before the appointed time—by turns his spirits sunk and rose. He wished to attend the prince; he wished to see the princess; yet was it wise, or safe, to do so? She was lovely; should he be struck with her beauty and merit, and give them both due praise, might not jealousy shed its venom into the heart of the caliph? should he appear indifferent when his master wished him to praise, might he not offend? This very night, might not the friend be lost in the prince? Mustapha dreaded the result of the visit; ‘yet,’ thought he, ‘what have I to fear? Not love, for it is, I believe, foreign to my nature. Not the caprices of the caliph surely, for he has none to me.’
“At length the moment approached when his attendance was expected, and, with a mixture of hope and fear, pleasure and pain, he followed the caliph to the apartments of Ariana. On their entrance, the sultana rose, and lowered her veil. The caliph darted forward, appeared enchanted to see her, though it was not many hours since he had visited her; and introducing Mustapha, as the friend he had so often mentioned to her, he said he had brought him to partake of their evening’s repast. He himself raised her veil, and throwing it over her brilliant tiara, and letting it fall on her graceful shoulders, he gave an exulting look at Mustapha.
“The face of the modest Persian was covered with blushes; but she sweetly smiled on the caliph, and seemed only desirous of his admiration.
“Mustapha was astonished at her perfect beauty, and more at the little value she seemed to set on it; he made a sign to the caliph to express his wonder.
“The delight the prince seemed to feel, and the charming and unaffected manners of Ariana, set my father perfectly at ease. Refreshments were brought, and agreeable conversation ensued. Mustapha talked of Persia, with which he was acquainted in his youth; and the sultana, highly pleased that the conversation turned on her own country, was eloquent in her description of it, and in her praise; and my father was soon convinced she was not without a soul.
“When they retired for the night, the caliph declared he had never spent so delightful an evening; and told his favourite he should soon bring his friend to pay her another visit, and talk to her of her native country.
“Ariana was mother to the prince Aleanzar, who was then entering his third year, and the caliph’s only son.
“My father, on re-entering his own palace, flew to the retirement of his chamber. Delightful as the evening had been to him, he began to wish he had not beheld the sultana. Her image, and her fascinating conversation, dwelt on his mind. She was the only woman he had ever seen that he thought worth conversing with. Her form was perfect; and in his idea she went beyond human nature. He felt rejoiced she was the wife of his friend; but he thought that friend imprudent, in introducing even him to her acquaintance. He could not believe himself in love with her, but it was dangerous often to see so fascinating an object; he might lose his peace of mind in contemplating her perfections; and he determined to avoid so sad an evil. He therefore, under different pretences, excused himself from accompanying the caliph when he spent his evenings in the sultana’s apartments.
“One evening, the early part of which the caliph had devoted to the Egyptian and Mustapha, on leaving the palace, he whispered the latter to follow him in a short time, as he would take no excuse for his not giving him some hours in Ariana’s apartments. ‘I insist on your not disappointing me,’ said the prince. ‘You also must be as agreeable as I know you can make yourself: the sultana’s spirits are low; our son Aleanzar has been dreadfully ill; and is only this day pronounced out of danger; his life has been preserved to us by the care and tenderness, I hear, of one of the young slaves in the palace. I am not yet informed of the particulars, but we shall hear it all from the sultana. She has suffered much on her child’s account. To amuse her, I have desired musicians and dancers to attend, and ordered a banquet, at which we must be gay.’
“The command of following him was so positive from the caliph, that Mustapha found it impossible to frame an excuse; and bowing with his hand placed on his breast, and then on his forehead, having shewn his master to the private door by which he always entered the palace, he returned to prepare for the banquet. Mustapha was then one of the handsomest men in Syria, and the most insinuating in manners and address. His fine countenance, full of intelligence, instantly declared his excellent understanding; and such goodness was expressed in every feature, that it might with truth be said, ‘you could read his heart in his face.’ Dressed for the occasion, and in a habit suited to his rank, he was at the door of the caliph’s private apartment at the appointed hour, and attended him to the sultana.
“As Mustapha entered the outer apartments, he perceived the most magnificent preparations for the reception of the caliph. Music was heard from the inner rooms; all they passed through were splendidly illuminated, and decorated in the most fanciful manner; odours breathed around, and the luxury of a seraglio was fully displayed: slaves in magnificent habits threw open the doors of Ariana’s apartment; and, arrayed in splendid attire, decorated with a thousand gems, and beautiful as an houri, she advanced to receive the sultan, and rejoice with him on the recovery of their beloved Aleanzar. Joy beamed in her eyes; yet it was visible from her looks that she had suffered much for her son’s illness. Her distress of mind had not impaired her beauty; it had only softened it, and rendered her a thousand times more enchanting. So thought Mustapha; and from that hour, his respect for the tender mother overbalanced his admiration for the lovely woman: and ever did the sultana support this character; she was always the most excellent of mothers. She received my father with pleasure, declaring she had often wished him to accompany the caliph. My father stammered out an excuse, and Ariana said, with her enchanting smile, ‘I am glad you are unoccupied this evening, as I wish the caliph particularly to enjoy it, and I am sensible the want of your society would be an alloy to his pleasures.’
“Highly flattered by this compliment, my father could only bow; he had no words to express his thanks.
“The caliph, his favourite, and Mustapha, having taken their seats, coffee and sweetmeats, as is the custom, were presented; and musicians and dancers were introduced, and performed the first act of their piece; and during the intervals (for it was a sort of drama they represented,) Ariana gave the caliph some account of the state that Aleanzar had been in, and how near they were to losing him; then turning to Mustapha, she said—‘My friend, you must join me in a petition to the caliph; I know he can refuse you nothing; and my heart is so interested in what I am about to ask, that I must take every means in my power not to be denied.’
“My father was confounded. He was about to reply, when the caliph, diverted with his embarrassment, said archly, ‘Ariana, I see Mustapha has no inclination to oblige you; he declines asking any favour for you; he has something, perhaps, to ask for himself, and won’t waste his interest for you.’
“My father’s embarrassment was not lessened by this speech; but soon perceiving the caliph was in jest, he declared his silence had proceeded from the humble opinion he had of himself, and the temerity it would have shown, could he have thought of asking a favour for herself.’
“You are perfectly right, Mustapha,’ replied the caliph, laughing; ‘I would not believe even my Ariana, should she say she feared a disappointment in any wish I could gratify. I swear to you, by our prophet, my sultana, to grant you any thing you desire, be it what it may; and I also promise you, Mustapha, to grant the first favour you shall ask me.’
“The sultana appeared highly gratified, and Mustapha replied, ‘He had only to ask the continuance of that friendship his gracious prince had so long honoured him with.’
“The dancers now returned to the saloon, and the entertainment continued for some time. Between the close and the sitting down to the banquet, Ariana asked the caliph if he remembered a fair captive that had been brought to his seraglio some weeks back?
‘I do,’ answered he; ‘I remember a very beautiful creature that was sent me a present by a corsair, that had formerly been under some obligations to me; I have never seen her, Ariana, since the day of her arrival; you know I sent her to you, supposing you might like to have her about your person; her amiable disposition and good sense, I was told, rendered her a delightful companion; and I knew my charming Ariana would even like her for the exquisite beauty she possessed, and, by her kindness, render slavery not oppressive.’
‘You have, perhaps, too good an opinion of me,’ returned Ariana, smiling. ‘Is it in the nature of woman not to envy the beauty of Elvira? could you have known the dread I had of her, you would never have made me such a present.’
“Mustapha stood in astonishment at this speech, and the caliph, appearing distressed, cried, ‘What could my Ariana dread from her slave? if she has dared to offend you, her punishment shall be exemplary; bring her before me; from my lips shall she receive a sentence suited to her crime.’
“Ariana, taking the caliph’s hand, said, ‘I will bring Elvira before you; from your lips she shall receive the reward her conduct merits: but first tell me, I beseech you, how it was possible, when you first saw her, you could escape her snares?’
‘Her snares!’ replied the caliph; ‘who do you mean? Elvira appeared artless and innocent as yourself: speak plainly, my Ariana; in what has she offended?’
‘I shall relate every thing that has passed,’ said the sultana, ‘and then you shall yourself judge what reason I had to fear her. She was brought into my apartments, as a present from you; Aleanzar was sitting on my knees when she entered; she bowed meekly to me, and seemed much dejected. I raised my eyes to look at her, and jealousy in a moment laid hold on my heart; I thought it was impossible you could see her without feeling the effect of her charms, for, in my opinion, she is the most perfectly beautiful creature I ever beheld. I was so struck, I sat gazing at her without saying a word. She was standing in the middle of the saloon, surrounded by many handsome slaves, but near her all their beauty faded, and on her only could the eye rest with pleasure: for the moment I was terrified; I believed she would enslave you, and I saw my own happiness wrecked. I looked so earnestly at Elvira that she was confused. I perceived her colour fade, and instantly return more brilliant than before: her agitation increased, and willing to save her and myself farther pain, I called to a slave to conduct her from my presence, when Aleanzar, leaping from my knee, ran towards her, crying, ‘No, no; she shall not go!’ and seizing fast hold on her robe, nothing would satisfy him till she took him in her arms; when folding his little arms round her neck, he kissed her a thousand times, stroking and patting her cheek. I sat in amaze at the child; it was in vain to call him—he would not quit her. She pressed the infant fearfully to her bosom, and I saw a tear trickle down her cheek. I then conceived myself the most cruel of human beings to harden my heart against so lovely and harmless a creature, and one who, from her present situation, must be unhappy. I ordered Zulima, Aleanzar’s nurse, to be called, and to her only would he go from the beautiful slave. I then determined to be kind to her, but to keep her from your presence, if possible (the caliph smiled). In a little time I began to love her as a sister. She related to me all her past life; how she came to be taken at sea, and how brought here. I found a thousand charms in her—nothing to disapprove. We passed most of our hours together, when you were not in my apartments. Aleanzar’s fondness for her increased, and her chief pleasure seemed to be in instructing him and playing with him. Some days since, he fell most desperately ill. Zulima and Elvira were his constant attendants; his case, you know, was pronounced infectious and desperate; Zulima caught the fever, and was obliged to be removed; all the slaves were terrified, and would scarcely enter his apartment. Grief oppressed me to so great a degree, that I was incapable of any exertion; and you, mighty caliph, whom I should have looked to for comfort, were on a distant journey, employed on business of consequence to your kingdom.
‘Aleanzar could not bear that Elvira should be a moment from him; day and night she was at his bedside; she watched him with the tenderness of a mother; she gave him all his medicines, all his food. With the utmost good sense, she regulated every thing in his apartment. She despised danger, if she could but save his life; and she comforted me with her utmost assurance that he would do well: her prophesy has been fulfilled; Aleanzar is now perfectly recovered, only a little weak; a few days, I am assured, will entirely restore our dear boy to his usual strength; and to Elvira we owe our present happiness. Shall I then ask too much, mighty caliph, when I request freedom for the lovely Elvira, and that she may be sent in safety to her own country, enriched by our bounty?’
‘Nothing can be too much for you to ask for, Elvira, or for me to grant,’ answered the caliph. ‘Whatever her beauty may be, and I suppose it great, my Ariana’s heart may be at peace. Mine is too full of her image, for any other to find room there. Elvira, from this moment, is free, is rich, and at liberty to remain in Damascus or return to her own country with a safe convoy; but I rather hope you will have power to detain her here.’
‘I hope so too,’ answered the sultana; ‘I should be unworthy your favour, if I had now any doubt of that affection of which I have so long proved the sincerity, and which has made the charm of my life.’
“Mustapha was highly gratified in being a witness to the domestic felicity of his friend—a felicity that so seldom falls to the lot of the great. He secretly wished to see the fair captive whose charms had power to alarm Ariana, as he thought she could never equal the beauty of that princess. While he was thus contemplating, the sultana made a sign to one of the slaves. The door of an inner apartment was thrown open, and Elvira entered. Ariana rose, and, taking her hand, presented her to the caliph, who expressed, in the warmest terms, his thanks for her conduct towards his son; and Ariana took that moment to assure her of her freedom, and a fortune large enough for all her wishes.
“The fair slave, with the utmost gratitude and modesty, received all the favours bestowed upon her; and the sultana, having presented Mustapha to her, as the dearest friend of the caliph, insisted on Elvira’s making one of the party, and placed her on a cushion next herself.
“The caliph whispered Ariana she had not exaggerated the charms of her young friend, and, notwithstanding, his heart was safe. Not so my father’s; when Elvira entered, his doom was fixt; he was in a moment gone an age in love: he had gazed in wonder on the sultana, her beauty had astonished him, but Elvira’s was felt in the inmost recesses of his soul; he was spellbound; he scarcely knew where he was. He beheld before him the most fascinating being upon earth; and he felt convinced, if he could not obtain her love, he must be from that hour a miserable man. He sat in silence, not unmarked by the caliph, who had spoken twice to him without being heard, so deeply was his mind engaged. He was soon relieved from his stupor by a summons to the banquet. The caliph led the sultana to the table, and desired Mustapha to attend to the fair Elvira. He was not deaf to this command; and having seated the chosen of his heart, he placed himself next her. The caliph, in his private hours, ever encouraged cheerfulness and freedom of conversation; the modesty, good sense, and noble manners of Elvira, delighted every one. Mustapha’s eyes were rivetted on her; and both the caliph and his favourite saw how deeply he was enamoured: in short, half the night was spent by those four charming people, with unmixed pleasure. No envy, malice, or detraction, poisoned those delightful hours; and when my father left the royal palace to return to his own, all his thoughts and affections remained with Elvira.
“The caliph and Ariana, who had not been blind to the new-born passion of Mustapha, resolved to encourage it, both to make him happy, and to retain at Damascus their lovely captive. Many evenings were devoted to the same pleasures; and now the willing Mustapha followed the caliph, without hesitation, to the seraglio; and his fondness for Elvira daily increasing, he sought an opportunity of declaring his passion, and offering her his hand.
“Elvira was not insensible to the merits of my father; she secretly loved him; but she was a Christian, and feared an union with a worshipper of Mahomet. With tears she rejected his suit, and requested to be immediately allowed to depart from Syria. Mustapha was distracted; the pleasures of society were lost to him. He no more invited strangers to his palace; he admitted no one but the Egyptian, who seeing him totally changed, and fearing he might fall into a dangerous state of health, persuaded him to make his sorrows known to him. Mustapha was for a long time silent on his cause of grief, but overcome by the tenderness of his friend, he at last opened his heart, and discovered to him, that it was the caliph who visited him in secret, and whom the Egyptian had found so agreeable and rational a companion. He divulged his love for the beauteous Elvira, and where he had first beheld her; the declaration he had made of his passion, and her refusal of him.
“The Egyptian listened to all he said, but was thoughtful and distressed. At length he broke silence—‘My friend, fear not that you will lose Elvira; if she is as amiable as you represent her, and her heart is free, she cannot see you with indifference, and will yet be yours.’
‘Is it possible?’ cried Mustapha; ‘is such bliss reserved for me? You are wise, Sesostris; you almost see into futurity; I will believe your predictions may be verified.’
‘I see,’ answered Sesostris, ‘that a different faith is the only bar to your happiness; offer her the free exercise of her religion; keep your own worship—intrude not on her’s, and you may live in comfort.’
“Mustapha, elated, resolved to make this proposal to Elvira; and interesting the caliph on his side, felt himself secure of the sultana’s taking an active part, and advising her young friend to so honourable a marriage. These bright prospects, which my father had painted in the most glaring colours, exhilarated his spirits; but the Egyptian’s gaiety was gone; he appeared oppressed and melancholy; and on my father’s noticing the change, his answer was, ‘My dear Mustapha, I grieve not for myself; it is for you my heart is sad; raised to the pinnacle of happiness, you soon will have nothing more to wish in this lower world; but fortune is unstable. The minds of princes undergo sudden and frightful changes; and friendship is nothing with them, if the supporting it requires the smallest effort. At present you rank high in the favour of the caliph, and I have too good an opinion of him not to think his heart sincere. I cannot, however, but dread a tempest for you. Neither the people, nor the court, will allow you long to enjoy unmolested your enviable situation. A prince’s favourite is generally abhorred; and inoffensive conduct will not always render a man secure. I know you well, my friend; your pure mind, your upright conduct, will not save you from the machinations of the interested and the wicked. I grieve that the caliph distinguishes you by these nocturnal visits, and I beseech you, endeavour to make them less frequent. I must soon leave you, Mustapha; urgent business calls me into my own country. My best affections remain with you; may we again meet happy.’
“My father was truly grieved at the idea of losing the society of a man he so highly valued; he saw it was his fears drove him from Damascus; and he heartily repented having made the discovery he had done, of the caliph’s visits. All he could obtain of the Egyptian was, that he would not quit Damascus till he was either sure of possessing, or of losing Elvira; declaring, should she persist in rejecting him, he would bid adieu to the caliph and his country, and travel with his friend for some years, or at least till his heart was reconciled to its disappointment.
‘That,’ cried the Egyptian, ‘would be the wisest plan to act upon; but you will not be put to the trial; Elvira will be your’s.’
“Not to dwell too long, my dear Cava, on this part of my story, and by so doing tire your patience, I will pass over the tedious days that Mustapha spent in endeavouring to reconcile Elvira to an union with him. She truly loved him; they were suited in every thing but their faith, and that for a long time prevented the accomplishment of my father’s wishes. Every argument was used by the caliph and Ariana, in favour of Mustapha, but love was the chief advocate in the breast of Elvira. On being perfectly assured of the free exercise of the Christian religion, she consented to be the wife of Mustapha; they were united in the presence of the prince and sultana; and my father carried his beauteous prize in triumph to his palace. Their appointments were magnificent, and they lived with the splendour of princes.
“Elvira enjoyed every luxury that the East could give; and Mustapha assured her, that, except the slaves that attended on her person, no woman should ever occupy any part of his palace. He kept his word; and never was man more devoted to a wife. In the first year of their marriage, I was born; in the second, my parents were made happy by the birth of a son. In a short time the Egyptian left Damascus; all that my father could say was of no avail to detain him; and happy as Mustapha was, he grieved much for the loss of his society. The caliph now came seldom to my father’s palace, but my parents were often in private at the seraglio.
“The friendship of the charming Ariana increased every hour for my mother, whose health, after the birth of my brother, began visibly to decline; her spirits sunk, and though she seemed to idolize my father, she enjoyed nothing. He often surprised her weeping over my brother and me, who were both educated under her eye, and were constantly taught by her what our tender years made us capable of learning. If I was to judge from what I have since heard, I should think she was wretched that we were brought up in a different religion from herself. Some words she inadvertently dropped persuaded her tender husband that she believed she had committed a crime in marrying a Mahometan, when she had it in her power to have returned to her own country, and again connected herself with Christians. She talked of Spain with enthusiasm; and it was she who instructed me in your language; I learned it from my cradle, and she could not endure my speaking to her in any other.
“Mustapha was now violently abused in Damascus for marrying a Christian, and the caliph condemned for the sanction he gave to it, and for his constant friendship to Mustapha: but nothing so much enraged the courtiers as the fondness of the prince Aleanzar for my mother. Not a day passed but he spent some hours with her; and he was always miserable when that pleasure was denied him.
“In this state things continued till I was in my seventh year, when my excellent and charming mother was almost suddenly snatched from us, at the very moment she gave hopes of being restored to perfect health.
“One evening she had been with my father for some time in the garden of our palace, where, sitting under the shade of some lofty trees, they were amusing themselves with my brother and me; we were playing before them, (still is the scene fresh in my memory); my poor mother rose from her seat, and was coming towards us, when she was seized with sudden weakness; my father, perceiving her stagger, sprung forward to support her, when falling into his arms, and giving him a fond and last look, she expired on his bosom.
“His agitation was so dreadful, he could scarcely support my dying mother till the slaves, attracted by our screams, ran to his assistance. They carried Mustapha, almost as lifeless as Elvira, into the palace. He was restored to us, but she was gone for ever.
“I felt at the time all a child of my age could feel; alas! I knew not my irreparable loss. My wretched father was inconsolable; instead of mitigating his affliction, the sight of my brother and myself threw him into agonies not to be believed. The caliph shewed the same friendship he had ever done for some time after this melancholy event; but princes soon grow weary of those who can no longer amuse them. Our palace was now a house of sorrow, and his visits became less frequent. My father was too much absorbed in grief to be sensible of the change.
“Aleanzar, who was then in his thirteenth year, and who deeply mourned the loss of one he had loved from infancy as a mother, often spent hours with Mustapha, and would not be persuaded to relinquish his society, though there were many who endeavoured to change his dispositions towards our family; and they insinuated many things against my father, and the deceased Christian, (as they called Elvira), to which Aleanzar would never lend an ear.
“Things were in this state, when, some time after the death of my mother, the Egyptian made his appearance at Damascus. He took up his abode at the palace of his friend; and his society and conversation was now all that appeared to please Mustapha, or give any respite to his grief. Sesostris gave every hour of his time to him, and to the instruction of my brother, who was a charming boy.
“The increasing coldness of the caliph was soon visible; and the excuses he made for it rendered it more mortifying. He told my father he refrained from visiting him as he was accustomed to do, from the fear he had of bringing him to ruin, as the discontent was now so universal for the favour he had always shewn him; and he ended a studied speech by declaring his heart should always be the same, though his countenance of him might not appear so conspicuous to the world.
“My father was not the dupe of such artifice, though his mind was too great for him to appear hurt; and he only requested he might not be deprived of the visits of the prince Aleanzar. This was a favour that could not be refused. A year passed away: the prince grew fond of the Egyptian; he came every day to our palace; and he owes much of the knowledge he possesses to the instructions of my father and Sesostris.
“I was now too old to be brought into the company of men, and I seldom for a moment beheld Aleanzar; he had always given me the tender appellation of sister, and whenever by chance we met, he still continued to give it me.
“But I am now coming to the most dreadful part of my wretched life,” cried Zamora: “how will my sad heart be torn in relating the remainder of my unhappy story!” Here she burst into a passion of tears, and sobs almost suffocated her.
Cava, alarmed at her grief, cried— “You shall not relate it to me then; I will not be made acquainted with it at so dear a rate; I will hear no more; dear Zamora, suppress this affliction; or I shall never forgive myself for having caused it. Let me rather be for ever a stranger to the past, than thus wring your heart.”
Zamora, relieved by the free vent she had given to her tears, replied— “Bear with me, Cava; for the present I am unable to proceed; memory has brought too strongly a dreadful scene to remembrance; but, sure of your sympathy, to-morrow in this spot I will unburthen my heart of all its sorrows. I shall find consolation in doing so; my mind is social, my heart open to that friendship you so kindly tender: let us now return to the castle; or, should you wish it, we can prolong our walk under the shade of yon tall trees.”
Cava acquiesced in the last proposal; and descending the rock, they found the walk Zamora had pointed out so pleasant that they continued in it some time; both had fallen into a train of thought, and were long silent, when Cava said— “I now no longer wonder, Zamora, at your speaking the language of Spain as you do, since you learned it in all its purity from your charming mother. You mentioned that Spain was her country, and that she spoke of it with enthusiasm.”
“She ever did,” answered Zamora. “It was from Spain she was coming when she was taken at sea by a corsair. She was an only daughter; and her father, who was of very high rank among the Goths, was going to Constantinople, to secure a large patrimony left him in that city by a very near relation. He could not bring himself to part with my mother, for the length of time he intended being absent from Spain, and therefore determined on carrying her with him on his voyage. He was killed in defending her when the vessel was captured; and I think he was fortunate to die; had he lived, he must have been sold as a slave.”
“You say he was noble, Zamora; to what family did he belong?”
“He was of Toledo,” answered the fair Moor, “and nephew to king Witiza.”
“To king Witiza!” cried Cava, with astonishment.
“Yes, to king Witiza. Why are you so surprised? Do you know that unfortunate family?”
“I should know them well, since my mother was sister to the king; and though the recollection of my unhappy family gives a pang to my heart, yet, my dear Zamora, I have real joy in being so nearly related to you as I now find I am; our hearts acknowledged the relationship, before we were ourselves conscious of it.”
Zamora was so surprised, so pleased, she could only answer the princess by an affectionate embrace, when they were joined by Zulima, who, informing them of the lateness of the hour, and that the bath was ready, the fair friends took the nearest path to the castle, delighted with the discovery they had made, and professing that tender regard their sincere hearts felt. So long had they remained on the rock, and so interesting had their conversation been, that they knew not the many hours they had spent together; and they found they had but a little time to prepare for their evening’s repast, at which they were to meet Aleanzar.
It is needless to repeat the arguments he made use of to render Cava satisfied with her captivity, and how anxiously he studied to diversify her amusements. She entreated for her freedom; he adroitly evaded her request, still leaving her room to hope she might shortly obtain it.
The fair friends made no secret to the prince of their near relationship, and this gave an opportunity to Aleanzar to speak of Elvira, which he did in the tenderest manner; and turning to the Gothic princess, he said— “Except yourself, never was any human being so lovely as Elvira; her nature, as well as her form, was perfection; and your relationship accounts to me for the striking likeness I perceived in the daughter of count Julian to the regretted Elvira, the first day I had the happiness of beholding her.”
Cava blushed deeply at such praise from one she wished not to estimate her so highly.
Zamora heard those praises; her heart grew sick—she was confused, and felt a misery she endeavoured to conceal.
MANY days now passed before the friends could again visit the recess in the rock, where Zamora was to finish the history of her past life. Zulima seemed to avoid any private conversation with Cava, though she paid her every possible attention; and the princess began to doubt her sincerity, and to despair of any assistance from her. She had sounded Zamora, and found that she would sacrifice her life, both to the commands and pleasures of Aleanzar; and though convinced of her attachment to him, she clearly saw there was nothing selfish in it, and that it would only lead its fair victim to seek Aleanzar’s happiness, at the risk of losing her own. Cava was determined, if she could possibly accomplish it, to quit the castle; plans for so doing continually occupied her; but conscious that from Zamora she could have no hope of assistance, she carefully concealed her intentions.
One morning that the young Moor and Cava found themselves at perfect liberty to follow their own inclinations, they again sought the recess in the rock, and being seated, Zamora, unasked, resumed the sad story of her life.
“I think,” said she, “I had just come to that part of my melancholy tale, where there was a visible falling off in the caliph’s affection towards my father, who at the time was so absorbed in grief for the death of my mother, that he did not feel it with the poignancy he would have done at a happier period of his life.
“Sesostris studied, in every way possible, to comfort him for his dreadful loss, and to strengthen his mind against future misfortunes; sensible of the declining favour of Mustapha, he strongly urged him privately to transport his treasures into another country, and by so doing, save them from the hand of rapine. He offered to quit Damascus, and retire with him and his family to any spot upon earth he should choose to inhabit. My father hearkened not to the counsel of his friend—the wretched grow indolent; they generally lose their energy of mind with their happiness; they only behold a future overshadowed with dark clouds, and they are careless to avoid the storm.
“This was my beloved father’s case. He was deaf to the wise suggestions of the Egyptian, who too plainly saw what would follow.
“Mustapha well knew the malice of his cruel enemies, and the hatred that had been instilled against him into the minds of the people; but he conceived it a thing impossible, that the caliph could ever give up his innocent, unoffending, unhappy friend, to appease a tumult.
“Aleanzar acted towards him as a son; and through him, the sultana sent a thousand kind and friendly messages. Alas! had this amiable woman survived any time, Mustapha’s fate would have been very different from what it turned out. Ariana, in about three years, followed my mother to the grave. The birth of a daughter, who lived but a few hours, terminated her existence, and deprived the caliph of the most charming of women, and Aleanzar of the best of mothers. The grief that reigned in Damascus was unfeigned; and yet this was the moment Mustapha’s enemies took to destroy him.
“Sesostris again foretold the storm, and again urged flight for our whole family—but still in vain. The caliph’s affliction for Ariana roused my father from the languor into which his own sorrows had plunged him, and he flew to administer comfort to his friend. He was received with renewed affection by the caliph, whose weak mind, now softened by recent misfortune, was brought back to the contemplation of past hours of friendship, and he appeared anxious as ever for the society of Mustapha. This was the signal of alarm to his enemies; and my father, as he went to, and returned from the residence of the caliph, was shocked to find he was followed with abuse and curses by the people; all declaring it was he who had brought misfortunes into the family of their beloved caliph, by his bad advice on all occasions; by his harbouring a magician in his house, (for such they pretended to believe the Egyptian); and chiefly by giving sanction to the Christian faith, and endeavouring to introduce it among the true believers, by publicly marrying one of that religion. I cannot enumerate all they urged against the worthy and unoffending Mustapha. He had the temper to endeavour to pacify the people, and to justify himself from the falsehoods propagated against him. His eloquence (and no man had a greater share) was all lost on the infatuated multitude. He was not allowed to speak; but was often forced to seek the shelter of his own palace in haste, to bar the gates, and for days together refrain from visiting the caliph.
“At length the arguments of Sesostris prevailed, and determined him to fly. All was prepared; the middle of the night was appointed for our departure; my brother and I, with one faithful domestic only, was to accompany them. The Egyptian, who was a stout man, had, at my father’s desire, loaded himself with many costly jewels, a quantity of fine pearls, and some gold; many of my mother’s jewels were concealed about my person. My mother’s picture, and some trinkets that she had worn, and seemed to prize, were all that my father then was anxious to secure; these he himself took charge of:—I was then in my twelfth year; my brother, a lovely boy, a year younger.—(Have patience with me, Cava; never can I think of that dear brother, and not give a tear to his memory)—this was the last hour in which I saw him, and I think I now behold him. He was beautiful; his fine black eyes, his gay, animated countenance, his delightful, lively, playful disposition, charmed all who saw him; his affectionate heart, the warmth of his feelings, no one could resist; his understanding was far beyond his age, and, cultivated by the worthy Sesostris, he promised to be a prodigy; but alas! I shall never more behold him, or my father's excellent friend; they may have perished in a foreign land, or be now wretched wanderers on the face of the globe; for since that fatal night I have not only never seen them, but have never been able to discover towards what country they bent their footsteps.”—
Here the sorrowful Moore made a long pause; her very soul was oppressed—she was unable for some time to proceed; and the princess, tenderly sympathizing in her woe, besought her not to continue her story, or at least to postpone the relation to another day.
Zamora, who had hung her head upon her breast, now raised it, saying, while her visage was bathed in tears—“If you wish to be acquainted with my past misfortunes, it must be now, or never; for I find I could not have the courage to resume this fatal history on another day:”—then wiping her beautiful eyes with her veil, she continued—
“We were sitting, my father, my dear brother, the Egyptian, and myself, in the innermost apartment of the palace, and waiting the appointed signal for our departure, from the faithful slave who was to accompany us in our flight, and who had procured a gallery to carry us from Syria for ever—we knew that two or three hours must elapse before we should be able to leave the palace in safety, and unknown, but my father wished to collect us together in time; and he was calmly conversing with the Egyptian on the strange conduct of the caliph towards him, and the instability of all human friendships, particularly when formed with those of a more exalted rank than our own; and the amiable Mustapha was endeavouring to find out excuses for the changed manners of the caliph, from the fear he had of tumults among the people, and trying to render him less culpable in the eyes of Sesostris, who ever smiled scornfully and sarcastically when the caliph was named—when, at the very moment my ill-used father was warmest in the defence of his alienated friend, an uproar was heard before the gates of the palace, which, for some time, had been strongly barred—the noise and tumult increased—my father’s cheek grew pale; we heard the crash of an outer iron gate; it sounded loud through the palace; the terrified slaves ran to secure the doors.
“My father rose from his seat, and turning to Sesostris, said—‘It is in vain, my friend, that I endeavour to avoid my fate; an evil destiny pursues me. Fly, I beseech you; fly with my children to a place of safety; fly through the garden at the back of the palace—you may still do so.—The cruel caliph deserts me in the hour of need, to gratify the misguided people; I will here stop the messengers of death, while you join my faithful slave, and preserve, by your prudence, those dearer to me than life itself. You have about you treasure that will enable you to live in some happier land: Sesostris, if you ever loved me, be a father to my boy.’
“The wise, the good Sesostris, was agonized; his courage forsook him; he threw himself into Mustapha’s arms—he had no power to tear himself from him. My brother and I clang to my father—he could not shake us off—another crash at the gates, and a dreadful shout appalled us. My father, bursting from us all, stood firm as a rock; then turning to his friend with an undaunted countenance, he cried—‘Sesostris, grant this my last request, and I shall die in peace.—If you wish my blessing,’ tenderly embracing my brother, ‘look on that worthy man as your father, and instantly obey me.’
“Sesostris still lingered; with agony he beheld the scene before him;—he seized my hand and my brother’s, and was forcing us from the apartment, encouraged by my father, when Aleanzar, pale as death, rushed into the saloon.
‘All is over,’ he cried; ‘Mustapha, nothing but your death will appease your enemies; I have no power to protect you; I have been even threatened, as I approached your palace. I have thrown myself at the caliph’s feet in vain. He is in agony at the part he is obliged to act;—not the caliph, but the state, calls for your innocent blood.’
‘And it shall have it, my prince,’ returned my father; ‘but my inoffensive children—Oh! preserve them, Sesostris; linger not thus.’
‘I will, my loved, my lamented friend,’ answered Sesostris; ‘every hour of my future life shall be devoted to them, and to your cherished memory.’
“Then, wringing my father’s hand, he forced us towards the door of the saloon, when, hearing another violent crash in the courts, and thinking the ruffians were coming to murder my father, I sprung from the Egyptian, and flying to my beloved parent, threw myself into his arms, and clasped him round the neck. He wept bitterly; and pressing me to his bosom, had not the power to drive me from him. The dreadful sounds came nearer and nearer. ‘Begone,’ cried Aleanzar to Sesostris; ‘fly with the boy while you can safely do so; I will be answerable for the safety of Zamora.’
“The Egyptian obeyed; and dragged my brother, half dead, from the room.
“I was convulsed; I strained my father close, declaring I would die with him. He argued in vain; I would not quit my hold. He clasped me to his breast, he kissed me a thousand times; and as he placed my mother’s picture (which he always had about him) in my bosom, he charged me ever to preserve it, and to endeavour to render myself worthy of her.
“Raising his eyes to the prince, who was standing before him, with the deepest expression of sorrow, he cried—‘They will not only be satisfied with my blood, they will destroy this dear resemblance of her Christian mother.’
‘No,’ answered Aleanzar with vehemence, ‘never shall they do so, Mustapha, while I exist. I will not conceal from you that you are sentenced to death—that your wealth is confiscated, and your children are condemned to slavery.’
“My unhappy father started in agony at the word slavery.—Aleanzar continued—‘Your son, I trust, will soon be far from danger; you have consigned him to a real friend, one who will not deceive you. Here, Mustapha, stands as true a one, who will protect your daughter. I will claim her as my slave, but she shall be my sister; as a tender brother will I ever behave towards Zamora: by our Prophet I swear to you, while I exist, I will protect her with my life; what I owe to Elvira is ever in my mind, and I will repay it to her child.’
“He approached my father, and tenderly embraced him. The agonized features of my fond parent assumed a placid appearance; he even smiled, and answered the prince—‘With this assurance I die happy; I die content. May every earthly blessing be showered on you, Aleanzar! you have extracted the poisoned arrow from my heart, with which the caliph pierced it. Happy Mustapha! to have secured two such friends as Aleanzar and Sesostris.’
“These were almost my father’s last words. The ministers of justice at that moment entered the saloon. Even the presence of the prince had no power to stop them. They approached and seized my father. My weak hands could no longer clasp him—my eyes were blasted with the sight of the bowstring, that dreadful instrument of death. I fainted as the murderers approached, and was carried by Aleanzar from the fatal spot. I remembered nothing for some days; strong convulsions seized me; my life was despaired of, and for a time my reason was gone.
“When my senses returned, I was myself in a magnificent bed, and Zulima sitting close to it. Pleased to find me sensible to what was passing round me, she kneeled down by me, and assured me I had nothing now to fear; I was in Aleanzar’s palace, and entirely under his protection; that he would guard me with his life; that in future I was to look on his house my home, and on her as a mother. ‘And my father,’ cried I, ‘is my dear father no more?’—and recollecting what had passed, I burst into a flood of tears.
‘My child,’ cried the good Zulima, ‘look not to the past; submit to the will of Heaven. Your kind friend, Sesostris, has escaped with your brother; he overtook your faithful slave, and sailed in safety, and unknown, from Syria.’
‘How are you acquainted with this?’ I asked, thinking she had made the story to comfort me.
‘A trusty messenger brought to Aleanzar the happy tidings,’ replied my kind nurse.
“This intelligence revived my drooping spirits: youth, and a good constitution, brought me from the gates of death: the tender care of Zulima, and the brotherly kindness of the prince, by degrees restored me, not only to peace of mind, but to cheerfulness. It is now four years since this dreadful catastrophe, and, during that time, I have never been separated one day from Zulima, nor have I lived any where but under Aleanzar’s roof, and you see he does not leave me a wish ungratified.”
Here a deep sigh, that she had no power to suppress, escaped the fair Moor, but recovering herself, she continued—
“My unhappy father had scarcely breathed his last, when the caliph severely repented having sacrificed his innocent friend to the caprices of a multitude; he mourned his loss when it was too late; and Aleanzar has often told me, that for some days his father was an object of the greatest pity. He once desired to see me, but I trembled so in his presence, I was not able to stand without being supported. The caliph seemed violently affected, and said to Aleanzar, that no one could mistake me for the child of Mustapha and Elvira. He praised his son for his conduct, turned from me in great agitation, and never since wished to behold me, though he expresses anxiety for my happiness, and often sends me the most magnificent and costly presents.
“I have been more than a year in Africa, and would willingly spend my life in the lovely spot we now inhabit; my most anxious wish is to hear if my poor brother is still living.—You now, my dear Cava, are in possession of my little history; it is a melancholy one, and you must allow my early years have been marked with sorrow.”
“They have indeed,” answered the princess, whose eyes bore testimony to the tenderness of her heart; “I almost repent having drawn you in to gratify my curiosity, since the relation of the past has cost you so many pangs. Be comforted, my charming friend; I prophecy that Aleanzar will render your future years completely happy; it is quite impossible he can be blind to your many perfections; the tenderness he now feels for you will ripen into love; the wanderings of his heart will not long continue; tired out with the caprices and follies of other women, he will return to find in you all he can desire; and the day will come when the lovely Zamora will make his sum of happiness.”
The innocent charming Moor listened to the words of Cava; she blushed, she sighed, but she answered not; an affectionate regard was her only reply; and descending the rock, she led the way to the castle.
DAY succeeded day, and Cava was still detained in the castle of Aleanzar. He studied to amuse her and Zamora, but was deaf to the entreaties of the fair Goth to liberate her. Whenever she solicited her freedom, he besought a return to his passion; he again laid his future crown at her feet, and pleaded his unchangeable affection. She turned from him in distress, and almost in despair. She read the soul of Zamora, and felt the tenderest pity for her secret sorrow. How truly did she wish Aleanzar would transfer the love he professed for her to the young and charming Zamora, more suited to him in every point of view than she could ever have been, had she a heart to bestow! but vain wishes have no power to change the destiny of man.
Aleanzar continued insensible to the charms of the creature who adored him, and pursued, with unceasing ardour, her who could give him no more than her esteem. He often left the fair friends for days to attend on Musa, who now meditated joining his troops in Spain, should success still attend their arms, of which there was little doubt, and the governor wished Aleanzar to accompany him. Aleanzar was too brave to allow even love to lull him into shameful indolence, at a time his nation was so gloriously employed; and assuring the Moorish governor he would follow him into Spain, he gave those orders which were necessary for his troops and slaves being in readiness to attend him, at a moment’s warning, though he foresaw it must be some time before it would be prudent for them to embark. His only uneasiness of mind was occasioned by his having the Gothic princess in his power; to retain her by force, and carry her into Spain, was impossible, without greatly injuring their cause; but could he obtain her hand by her own consent, and publicly declare her his wife, it would be of the greatest advantage to their party, eternally secure the friendship of count Julian and his adherents, and help to conciliate the Christians and the Moors.
Aleanzar, however, could only consult his own heart; he dared not tell Musa he had forced count Julian’s daughter from the palace of her father. A rumour that she had retired to a religious house, had at that time reached the governor’s ears, and he gave credit to the report, which made him relax his search for Cava throughout his government.
In Aleanzar’s absence from the castle, the young friends were never asunder, except when at night they retired to their respective apartments.
Aleanzar had been now some days with Musa, and the princess thought she perceived an anxiety in Zulima to have some conversation with her. She was assured of it, when one morning Zamora, having left the gallery in search of work she had mislaid, Zulima suddenly entered, saying to the princess, “I wish to speak to you, but it must not be in the presence of Zamora.” Cava rose, and begged she would follow her into the balcony, where they might speak freely, when the young Moor returning put an end to the conversation; and Zulima, looking at Cava, and placing, as she had done before, her finger on her lips, withdrew.
Cava passed the rest of the day in a state of anxiety she could not conceal; and at an early hour, Zamora, fearing she was not well, proposed retiring for the night. Cava willingly followed advice so agreeable to her agitated state of mind, and affectionately bidding her friend farewell, sought the quiet of her chamber, where soon dismissing the young slave that waited on her, she sat down to ruminate on her strange fate, and how she should be able to free herself from the Moorish prince, when she was roused by a gentle knock at her door, and, on opening it, she saw with pleasure that it was Zulima.
The benevolent Moor, silently taking her hand, led her to a small apartment at some distance from Zamora’s, when, laying down her lamp, and drawing a seat for the princess, she placed herself near her, and addressed her in the following words: “Be not alarmed, my dear child, at the secrecy with which I wish to converse with you; all that I have to say will, I hope, be pleasing, not offensive, to you: but first, you must answer me one question, and that with truth—do you love Aleanzar?”
Cava blushed at the question so abruptly put, and, hesitating for a moment to answer it, Zulima rose, and, with a dejected countenance, saying, “It is so—it is what I feared—who can resist him! things must now take their course,” she was about to leave the room.
Cava, laying hold of her arm, prevented her, crying, “Stay, Zulima; what do you mean? what affects you thus? stay and let me hear all you came to say.”
“I have nothing more to say; I find you love Aleanzar; you will be his wife, (and raising her hands and eyes to heaven) his Christian wife!” Then pausing a moment, she said, “Oh! Mahomet avert such a misfortune!”
The princess, astonished at these words, stood in silence, till again Zulima made a motion to leave the room; but holding her still faster, Cava said, “I beseech you, Zulima, be composed; you are wrong in your judgment; I do not love Aleanzar; I ought to hate him, for his violent conduct in forcing me from my home; this is the only dark shade in his character; and I cannot refuse him my esteem, for the numberless good qualities he possesses; but I love him not, nor never can.”
The incredulous Moor shook her head, and, looking earnestly at Cava, replied, “Your countenance in general speaks your heart. What meant that blush that covered your charming face when I asked you if you loved Aleanzar?”
A deeper blush, to the surprise of Zulima, mantled again on the fair cheek of Cava, and a tear sprung to her eye. She rested her hand on Zulima’s arm. “Oh! worthy Moor, could you read my heart, you would be convinced that the name of love is hateful to me. If I have not been able to root it from my heart, it is so hidden, so concealed, it is become almost imperceptible to myself; all my fair hopes were early blasted; happiness had eluded my grasp; and now my only wish is seclusion from a world where, short as my life has been, I have dwelt long enough to know that all is vanity. My only wish is to return to my father’s castle: I dread the effect my absence may have upon my wretched mother. In vain I urge Aleanzar to suffer me to depart; detaining me here can answer no purpose but that of making me miserable. If you have any power over the prince, kind Zulima, I beseech you, use it in my favour. Assure him that I never can be his; and that the only reparation he can make for the insult he has offered, in forcing me from my peaceful home, is to restore me to all I hold dear on earth, before the violence of his conduct is publicly known.”
At hearing these words, the astonished Zulima stood gazing on the fair form before her. Her countenance was expressive of delight and pity; and gently drawing Cava to the sofa from whence she had risen, she again seated herself close to her, and, having examined her with a scrutinizing eye, she cried, “Never had a Christian the power to interest me as you have done. I did not even admire the fair Elvira as I do you. Yet forgive me, when I tell you that your faith makes me wish you separated from Aleanzar. You much relieve me by the assurance that he has no place in your heart. I shall now feel no compunction, in endeavouring to free you from his power. I would not, for worlds, give a moment’s pain to the prince, was I not convinced he is running to his own destruction. I look on him as my son; I have been about him from his birth; and you, charming princess, are a witness to his shewing me the attentions of a child. Can I, then, by encouraging his wild passion, devote him to destruction? Mustapha’s Christian wife, though innocent, sealed his doom. You or Aleanzar must be the sacrifice of your union, should he ever carry you to Damascus.”
“Then I beseech you lose no time,” suddenly interrupted the princess, “to free me from the power of Aleanzar. I will endure any thing to be enabled to return in safety to my parents: I swear to you they shall never know it was Aleanzar carried me from the castle.”
“Be patient, my young friend; I cannot, in a moment, do all you wish; prudence must guide our actions. I esteem you, Cava; I admire you; I see and acknowledge your perfections; but, as a Christian, you are not a fit wife for Aleanzar. He would see his error too late, and misery would be the lot of both.”
Here the Moor paused, and the princess felt rather provoked that she should so long dwell on what was unnecessary to think of, and that she did not proceed to inform her what scheme she had devised for setting her free; but fearful of vexing her by too much impatience, and preventing the development of her plan, she was silent; and in a few minutes Zulima resumed the thread of her discourse.
“Amiable princess,” said she, “it was with grief I saw you brought to the cottage by Aleanzar, the night he was mad enough to tear you from your father’s palace. I own to you, I saw you with displeasure, and was prejudiced against you, as I feared you would cause the ruin of Aleanzar, and bring misery to the heart of one I love more than my life, the dear, gentle Zamora. I saw your beauty; I hated, and dreaded it as a snare that would entrap the prince; forgive me if I say I detested your Christian faith; it is natural to a follower of Mahomet to do so. I have, however, from carefully inspecting your conduct, learnt to esteem a Christian; and I now shall assist you in regaining your freedom, from the love I bear you, as much as from any other cause. It is needless for me to repeat to you the merits of the sweet Zamora; she is from infancy attached to Aleanzar; her whole soul is his; she would relinquish every hope of happiness to gratify his wishes; in vain would you solicit her assistance to set you free; she would inform Aleanzar of the attempt, and could she suspect my interference, nothing could prevent her divulging it; so perfect, so innocent, so ardent, is her love for the excellent prince who has so long protected her. You, who are acquainted with Zamora, will impute her conduct to its true source, love and gratitude. She has long been committed to my care, and I must declare there is not a more perfect creature in existence. Earnestly, anxiously do I wish her united to Aleanzar; I have my hopes that some fortunate hour may light up love in his bosom for this admirable being, his equal in every thing, even in birth. Your beauty dazzled him, and has prevented his heart acknowledging the power Zamora was fast gaining over him, before his visit to count Julian’s castle. When you are lost to him, the delusion will vanish; and I am mistaken if the loveliness and the merits of Zamora, do not make an impression on him, that hereafter nothing will have the power to eradicate.”
“Then hasten my departure, I beseech you, Zulima, and at once render me and dear Zamora happy.”
“Patience!” replied the quiet Moor; “it is my wish to do so. I have reason to believe your residence here has been discovered by some friend anxious to liberate you.”
Here Cava’s eyes sparkled with delight; her cheek crimsoned with hope.
“Oh!” cried she, “my beloved mother has suspected Aleanzar, and has commissioned some one to ascertain the truth.”
“Perhaps so,” answered Zulima; “my son is sometimes on guard at the castle, and he informs me that the night before the last, he perceived a stranger in the Moorish habit, who, walking round the wood without the arch, which you know is always guarded, seemed to examine every object with great curiosity, and, with folded arms, stood for a long while with his eyes fixed on the castle. Perceiving the guard relieving, he walked silently and slowly away, and by the light of the moon, my son saw that he often turned round to look at the castle. Sadi thinks he is a Christian in disguise; he watched him till the rocks concealed him from his view; and, in a little while, he heard the dashing of oars beyond the bay. I charged my son not to mention these circumstances to mortal; I intimated to him that I had some knowledge of the business the stranger came upon; and entreated him, should he again appear near the arch, to encourage his approach, and endeavour to find out what brought him to a spot so sequestered, and so entirely under the dominion of Aleanzar. I know my son will obey me; and it is a happy circumstance for you that he is captain of the guard.”
After much conversation, Cava and Zulima persuaded themselves that this was some person sent by the countess Julian, to learn whether the princess was or was not in the power of Aleanzar; and Zulima, declaring she should lose no time in speaking to the stranger, if it was possible to do so, they parted for the night; and our heroine, elated at the hope of escaping privately from the castle, sunk to quiet slumbers, without the least idea that it was her beloved Alonzo that now sought her on the shores of the Mediterranean, and beheld at midnight, with melancholy pleasure, the castle walls which enclosed her to whom fate had bound his soul.
Alonzo, and his friend Valasquez, had found a safe creek at about half a league beyond the castle, where they could safely conceal their boat, and lodge themselves and their little crew in some fishermens huts on the coast. Valasquez had been provident, and laid in provisions and all they would want in their little voyage; and as the prince had treasure about him, to gratify those that could assist him in any way he wished to employ them, he and his friend had nothing to fear; and Alonzo, determined on patiently waiting an opportunity of rescuing Cava from her present bondage, he and Valasquez, in Moorish dresses, often wandered round the boundaries of the castle; and, from the tops of the rocks, they could sometimes perceive the lovely friends as they walked in the gardens of the castle, or on the margin of the bay; but as they were always veiled, and nearly of the same stature, Alonzo could not distinguish his adored Cava.
Sometimes they ventured in an evening to hire a fishing-boat, and coast the bay; but as no stranger was allowed to land on the grounds belonging to Aleanzar, Alonzo could scarcely hope any advantage from these exertions. He and Valasquez, at the coming on of night, alone, and in a light skiff, have often rested on their oars as near the castle as they could dare to come; they have then distinctly heard the sound of music from the gallery, which, as it fronted the sea, was exposed to their view, and from its being illuminated, every part of it was visible; and they could descry figures moving through the apartments, though they could not recognise any single person; but such is the nature of love, that Alonzo found consolation in these nocturnal visits, where, though forbid to enter, he beheld the spot in which resided the dear object that occupied every thought of his constant heart. Thus he fed his love—his grief—and, against his better judgement, nourished a hopeless passion, to the destruction of all his earthly felicity.
Several days and nights had passed since his arrival on the coast, and still no opportunity offered of a nearer approach to the castle. From the bay they could not land, nor would the guard suffer them to pass the arch, had they attempted it. Zulima saw the strange boat many evenings lingering in the bay, and suspected that those it contained were Christians disguised in the Moorish habit, and that they were in search of Cava; but she was silent on the occasion. Her heart leaped for joy at the hope of carrying her scheme into execution; and she was on the watch for an opportunity of discovering who the strangers were.
Aleanzar, who had been absent many days from the castle, now returned. On entering the gallery where the princess and Zamora were entertaining themselves with the lute, he appeared unusually gay; and, having paid his compliments to Cava, and expressed his pleasure at seeing her again, with animation and tenderness he addressed Zamora, saying, “My beloved sister, I bring you joyful tidings; I have heard of your brother.”
“Of my brother!” exclaimed the astonished Zamora, nearly overcome with excess of joy—“Does he still live? where is he? is he under the protection of Sesostris? oh! tell me all, Aleanzar. May I hope again to behold my long-lamented brother?”
Aleanzar, taking her hand, and entreating her to be composed, informed her he had had a letter from Sesostris; that both the good Egyptian and her brother were now in Egypt, in perfect health and safety; that the young Mustapha was all he could wish him to be, and had, in every way, amply rewarded his care.
“I look upon it,” said Sesostris in this letter, “that what are termed misfortunes, are often concealed blessings: had my pupil remained at Damascus, with his riches, his rank, and situation at the court, he would have been bred up in luxury and indolence; the powers of his mind would have had no room for action; learning would have been a labour, not a pleasure; his ideas would have become local and confined, and ignorance would have spread its dark thick veil over an understanding which, by culture and travel, is one of the best any creature, so young as he is, could ever boast. Illustrious Aleanzar, while I formed his heart, I had the delight of thinking I not only performed the duty I owed my dead lamented friend Mustapha, but that I was also of use to my prince, in rendering a man (whom I am certain he will one day honour with his friendship) worthy of it. Aleanzar, in the young Mustapha, you will find a grateful, affectionate, and steady heart; a faithful friend, whose arm will be ready to defend your throne, whose understanding will assist your counsels. His mother’s affection for you, Aleanzar, lives in him; and your protection of his sister (so tenderly remembered, so dearly loved) has bound him for ever to you; but prudence prevents his return to his native country, till we can enter it in safety; till you, illustrious prince, have the power, as you have the will, to protect us. If the sweet Zamora remembers her Egyptian friend, I beseech you to assure her he has never ceased to think of the daughter of the worthy Mustapha, his unhappy friend. Each day brings to his memory her infant charms, her innocence, her gaiety, the early promise she gave of all that was delightful, or to be desired in woman. May I yet see this sweet flower that your kindness has saved form being nipped in the bud! May I yet see it all my fancy has formed it—May I leave Mustapha and Zamora happy under your protection! and without a wish for a longer sojourn here, I shall hail the moment that joins me to their parents, in an unknown world.”
While Aleanzar read this part of the good Egyptian’s letter to Zamora, she trembled, blushed, and her tears flowed in abundance.
Aleanzar viewed her with admiration; he thought he had never seen her so interesting, and his eyes were turned from Cava to gaze on Zamora, who wept and smiled by turns, a thousand times repeated her brother’s name, and a thousand times blessed the kind and good Sesostris. Cava partook in her friend’s happiness, and felt a secret pleasure in seeing that Aleanzar particularly directed his attentions to her.
Certainly Zamora never had appeared with such advantage in the eyes of Aleanzar as she did this evening. Affection for her brother, gratitude to the Egyptian, spoke in every expressive feature;—joy lit up her countenance—tenderness filled her beautiful eyes, and swelled her bosom.
Oh woman! woman! if you knew how sweetness, innocence, and truth, become you, how they bind in adamantine chains the heart of man, you would never suffer either your minds or faces to be deformed by those ungentle passions, that render the most beauteous dreaded, not loved; that changes a female to a fiend, and warns the most passionate lover to break those chains he has been so anxious to rivet.
“How have I seen a gentle nymph draw nigh,
Peace in her air, submission in her eye;
Victorious tenderness! it all o’ercame,
Husbands look’d mild, and savages grew tame.”
But to return to our story: Aleanzar having given Zamora every information he had himself received respecting her brother, he declared to her, he should lose no time in imploring the caliph, his father, to restore him to his country, his fortune, and his honours. “I shall,” cried the prince, “be as anxious as you, my dear Zamora, to see this long-lost friend, who promises me, what princes scarcely ever find, eternal attachment. I long also to fold to my heart the good Sesostris, who gave my early youth so many lessons of virtue. This news that I have brought you, Zamora, though so delightful, has oppressed your spirits; you must not suffer them to droop now, at the moment when you may look with such certainty to brighter days:—if your gentle friend yonder will give her consent, we will this evening make an excursion on the water:—look,” said Aleanzar, walking towards the balcony, and pointing to the bay, “can any thing be more enchanting? the smooth sea will serve as a mirror to reflect your beauties; the freshness of the evening breeze will exhilarate your spirits.”
Cava instantly consented to the water party; to her perturbed mind any change was agreeable; and she was pleased with any thing that would interrupt the constant attention of Aleanzar to herself.
Two boats were ordered to be in waiting when they should rise from the banquet. Near the setting of the sun, Zulima informed them all was ready; and the prince, with the fair friends, attended by Zulima, descended to the beach, where they entered a magnificent pleasure boat belonging to Aleanzar; attendants with music followed in another less sumptuous. Aleanzar’s boat displayed the luxury and magnificence of an Eastern prince. The painting and gold, with which the sides were ornamented, glittered on the glassy surface of the bay, whose smooth waters, as Aleanzar expected, reflected not only the fair forms of Cava and Zamora, but shewed also his own martial figure, and his gay vessel. The bottom of the boat was spread with rich carpets from the looms of Persia; silk cushions, of gold and azure, formed the seats; an awning of azure silk, supported by gilt Cupids, covered the upper part of the boat, and a golden crescent flamed at the rudder. Six rowers, in white ornamented with gold, and on their turbans a crescent in front, kept time with their gilded oars to the music which accompanied them, and maintained a profound silence; fresh roses were scattered round; and on a silver tripod, at the extremity of the boat, were kept burning, by a child representing Cupid, the finest perfumes of the East; and two youths stood ready with fans to cool the air, or drive all insects from the gallant vessel.
“The scented winds were lodg’d in purple sails,
And lover’s sighs supplied the gentle gales;
The gentle gales around their odours breathe,
Play in the shrouds, or fan the fair beneath.”
Aleanzar, while he placed his lovely guests in the seats prepared for them, was struck more than he had ever been with the beauty of both, which, though so different, was so perfect. The sultry weather had obliged them to lay aside their thick veils, and chuse transparent ones that would admit the air; those, though they shaded their charms, did not conceal them.
The young Moor’s heart was full of her brother, and of gratitude to Aleanzar; joy played about her mouth, and revelled in her eyes; and had not Cava been near, Zamora would have appeared the most beautiful of women.
The fair and brilliant complexion, the graceful pensive air, the retiring modesty, with the dignity of manner peculiar to the Gothic princess, soon turned the balance in her favour, or at least made it doubtful who even a Mahometan would prefer. Aleanzar stood for some moments lost in wonder, and for the first time his heart told him, he scarcely knew which pleased him most. At length he threw himself on a cushion at their feet; and Zulima having taken her seat at a little distance on the side of the boat, the prince gave the signal to the rowers to proceed, and soon they darted from the land. The glories of a setting sun animated every object,
“And shed a roseate smile on Nature’s face.”
The castle, the pleasure-grounds, the woods, the mountains, were all illumined: at a distance, covered with the last beams of the sun, they beheld the triumphal arch, the entrance to the grounds; it looked magnificent, and scarcely appeared a ruin. The guard of the castle was now relieving, and the breeze brought the sounds across the water to the ears of Cava. Not ignorant of the history of former ages, the arch, and warlike sounds, brought Rome and Carthage to her remembrance. Alas! thought she, how melancholy it is to reflect on the days that are gone by! How have these two great nations disappeared from the earth, and left us only ruins to trace their greatness by! How silent now lie those Romans in the dark and narrow house, who in pride erected yon arch, and in triumph passed under it, to celebrate the destruction of that Carthage over which their great general wept—of that Carthage, whose inhabitants are long mingled with their conquerors in the dust—that Carthage, which stood so long, so nobly, against its foe! Even on these shores it stood, and yet in a few ages its scite is doubtful; and the pilgrim wandering round ignoble ruins, may mistake them for those of that once-famed city; or he may in his progress tread unconscious on its ashes, which, could he ascertain, he would pay the reverence due, and, like Scipio, give a tear to its past glories.
“And does all worldly grandeur end in dust, in oblivion?” said Cava mentally; “can I doubt what Scripture tells me?—Man is a thing of nought, and his time passeth away like a shadow;” then turning her fine eyes to Heaven, “there,” thought she, “is eternal day; there, when the mischievous and blood-thirsty conquerors of the earth meet their condemnation, will humble virtue be rewarded; there the wicked shall cease from troubling, there shall the weary be at rest.” From this train of thought the princess found consolation for her own misfortunes; and trusting that her earthly pilgrimage would not be long, she fortified her mind by the Christian religion; and determining to support her sorrows with dignity and resignation, she felt their pressure less heavy.
Seeing her pensive, Aleanzar and Zamora respected her apparent melancholy, and, not willing to interrupt her meditations, they conversed together; and Zamora, conscious that she was at that moment more an object of attention to Aleanzar than she had usually been, saw the future through a brighter perspective. An innocent pleasure spoke in her eyes, animated her fine person, and gave a thousand charms to her conversation.
They had now skirted the bay; the glowing sun sunk below the horizon; the bright tints of evening faded from the sky; twilight approached with her sober banner, and the distant mountains lost the vivid purple that had so lately adorned them, in a darker shade. Aleanzar’s boat glided over the peaceful bosom of the deep; and all, sensible to the beauties of nature with which they were surrounded, were expressing the pleasure the scene gave them, when the striking of other oars at the entrance of the bay assailed their ears. The prince, turning at the sound, perceived a large fishing-boat, which had just entered the bay. Two men had drawn a net into the boat, seemingly well stored with fish, and another net was lying on the deck, not yet unloaded, in which the scaly tribe were struggling for freedom. Two Moors of superior appearance remained at one end of the boat; their turbans very low on their foreheads, and their persons much muffled in their Moorish cloaks; they seemed to take little interest in the fishing. One, his elbow placed on the side of the boat, leaned his head on his hand; the other was standing erect, and pointing to the triumphal arch, which, from this part of the bay, shewed to peculiar advantage. The fading light, which still glimmered through it, added a solemn and melancholy grandeur to its magnificent ruins.
Aleanzar, when he perceived the boat, ordered his rowers to approach it, saying—“He believed the fishermen had taken an uncommon quantity of fish, and it would be a beautiful sight to see the nets unloaded.” They were soon along-side of the fishing-boat. The melancholy Moor started from his seat, drew his turban more over his forehead, wrapped his loose garment closed round him, and both he and his friend saluted the prince, who graciously returned the compliment; and, without asking them any questions, ordered the fisherman to open their nets upon the deck: the boats were now close to each other; through modesty, where there were so many men, the princess and Zamora kept their seats, and concealed themselves with their veils. Aleanzar, entirely occupied by the display of the various and beautiful fish that were poured from the nets upon the deck, heeded not what passed around him. The Moors at the extremity of the boat had fixed their eyes on Cava and Zamora; and he who had muffled himself at the approach of Aleanzar’s boat, now sprang forward, crying—“Is it possible?”—when his friend held him by force, and whispering something in his ear, he sunk again on his seat nearly fainting. Aleanzar hearing the bustle, raised his head, and asked what was the matter? and Valasquez (for he was one of the fictitious Moors) answered in the Moorish language—“That his friend was ill; he had brought him out in the fishing-boat for air, but now he should be glad to return with him to the shore.”
Zulima, alive to every thing, and strongly suspecting the deceit, snatched some perfumes form the plate on which they were burning, saying—“They would revive the sick Moor;” and stepping to that part of the boast nearest the Moors, she beckoned Valasquez to her, and giving him the perfumes, whispered in a low voice—”If you are, what I suspect, a Christian, and in search of Cava, meet me at this hour to-morrow, at the rock beyond the arch:” without waiting for an answer, she withdrew; and Valasquez, bowing, returned with the perfumes to his friend, who now resumed his melancholy posture, and completely hid his face. Aleanzar, not willing to detain the sick Moor, gave orders to his domestics to purchase the whole cargo of fish from the fishermen; and wishing them well, desired his rowers to proceed.
Zulima had resumed her station, well pleased with her own penetration, and her success.
The prince again placed himself at the feet of his fair guests; and neither Cava or Zamora had the smallest suspicion that the Moors in the boat were not what they appeared to be. Their excursion was prolonged to a late hour; every moment added beauty to the night; the moon walked in unclouded majesty; the stars by degrees spangled the vast expanse, and
“Pour’d all the Arabian heaven upon their night.”
Each enjoyed it in a different way. Aleanzar’s heart felt satisfied, yet he knew not why; for Cava treated him with a coldness his reason told him he could never conquer. The princess, unhappy as she was, passed the hours in a way not ungrateful to her feelings; the season of night accorded with her habitual melancholy, for every object around her breathed peace. The blue vault of heaven, where shone unnumbered worlds, called her spirit from this lower one to the habitation of saints; and while she pictured to herself the state of the blessed Christian after death, she was convinced no sufferings were too great that led to such a state.
Zamora, the happy, and now gay Zamora, smiled, talked, met the eyes of Aleanzar a thousand times; and as often as they met, hers told the secret of her heart, while she believed she only expressed her sense of the prince’s noble conduct towards her brother and herself: often as she blushed and stammered, the name of Sesostris came to relieve her confusion; with gratitude and warmth she expressed her love for this dear friend, and her anxious wish again to behold him.
At length the boat approached the beach, and anchored beneath the palace: the prince assisted the fair friends to ascend the steps that led from the water to the terrace. On landing, they turned to view the charming prospect, softened, not hid, by the shades of night; and it was long before they could leave the delicious gardens and the open air, to enter the superb mansion of Aleanzar, where an evening banquet awaited them.
WE must now quit the palace of Aleanzar to follow the fishing-boat, which our reader has seen in the last chapter contained Valasquez and the miserable Alonzo.
On perceiving Cava, the prince, starting from his seat, and forgetful of the precautions it was absolutely necessary to take, and the disguise he was in, was about to throw himself at her feet, and, either by force or persuasion, withdraw her from Aleanzar. Valasquez, more prudent, and not blinded by passion, arrested the steps of his friend; and, obliging him to return to his seat, whispered the imprudence of his conduct, convincing him this was not the moment to recover his lost treasure.
Alonzo, shocked at seeing Cava in the power of a Mahometan, quietly allowing herself to appear with the state of an Eastern queen, and conscious of the worth and merits of Aleanzar, dreaded the alienation of her heart—dreaded he knew not what;—for he could not persuade himself that she would sacrifice her religious principles either to ambition or love. Jealousy, however, often the attendant of the fondest affection, in spite of his reason, found entrance in his heart; and, as we have before stated, he returned nearly fainting to the bench on which he had been seated, and covering his face, shut out the view of Aleanzar’s boat. During this period, what has been related passed between Valasquez and Zulima. As soon as the boats had parted company, Valasquez informed his melancholy companion of the appointment the Moor had made with him. Hope revived in the bosom of the distressed Alonzo; and raising his eyes, they were almost strained from their sockets to follow the loved form they had so lately shunned, and which was now scarcely discernable, from the distance, and the increased dusk; but willing to trace even the outlines of a figure so dear to his heart, while it was possible to do so, he called to the boatmen to slacken their oars; and resuming his seat, he hung in sorrow over the side of the vessel, directing his view towards the castle of Aleanzar.
“When the faint moon, yet lingering in the wane,
And veil’d in clouds, with pale uncertain light
Hangs o’er the waters of the restless main,
In deep depression sunk, th’enfeebled mind
Will to the deaf, cold elements complain,
And tell th’embosom’d grief, however vain,
To sullen surges, and the viewless wind.”
Valasquez, unwilling to indulge Alonzo’s melancholy, and fearful of suspicion; should they remain too late in the bay, ordered his people to make for their own little port; and not being opposed by his friend, they arrived there in safety before it was far in the night; and when retired to their humble cottage, they talked over in security the adventures of the evening; and it was agreed between them, that Valasquez should be the person to meet Zulima the ensuing night, as she had appointed.
This being finally settled, Valasquez made use of all his eloquence to calm Alonzo’s agitated mind; and at length persuaded him to retire to rest, flattering him with the hope of brighter days.
“O! impotent estate of human life,
Where hope and fear maintain eternal strife;
Where fleeting joy does lasting doubt inspire,
And most we question what we most desire.”
While Alonzo and his friend inhabited an humble cottage, and waited with anxiety the coming day, Cava was suffering, not enjoying, the splendours and amusements of the palace of Aleanzar.
Again the banquet was spread before her; again Aleanzar was anxious to please, and solicited the smile of affection; this he found it impossible to obtain; she again requested her liberty, and offered friendship as the price. Again Zamora’s heart died within her; paleness overspread her countenance; a tear, which she endeavoured to restrain, swelled to her eye. The Moorish prince perceived it; her paleness spoke to his soul—her tears fell upon his heart. He gazed at her in silence, and, for the moment, thought her more winning, more lovely than Cava. His thoughts were confused, or rather, he was afraid to think: he bent his eyes to the ground, and almost wished the Gothic princess in the palace of her father; when recollecting himself, he took from the board a golden cup filled with sherbet, and presented it, along with some fruit, to Zamora. Her paleness disappeared; again a bright vermilion tinged her beautiful cheek; again the
“Liquid lustre sparkled in her eye.”
Aleanzar called for the dance—the song. He seemed to listen to the soft breathings of the flute; but his eyes followed not the light steps of the dancer; they were fixed on Zamora, as he mentally said— “How lovely is her form! Yet how much more lovely is her mind!”
“O’er her gay form his eyes in transport roll,
And bless a beauty with so soft a soul.”
Before they withdrew for the night, the prince, addressing himself to his fair guests, told them, he was the next evening under the necessity of attending Musa at Tangiers, on business of the greatest importance. “I shall only,” cried he, “remain one day with the governor; I leave this spot with the utmost reluctance; but a soldier can have no will of his own.” Then turning to Cava, he said in a hurried accent—“Fair princess, when I return, your will shall dictate my future conduct.” Cava offered her thanks, declaring the first wish of her heart was to return to the palace of count Julian.
Aleanzar was silent, and soon after departed for the night. Not a word was lost on Zulima; she rejoiced at the approaching absence of her master, as it gave her room to act; and she hoped safely to execute her plan; but she determined not to trust Cava too soon with the secret, lest she should betray it to Zamora. “She can have no preparations to make,” thought the Moor; “freedom will always be welcome to her.” Occupied by these ideas, she attended the friends in silence to their apartments. Cava’s heart beat with the hope of liberty—Zamora’s vibrated to the soft touch of love and hope.
Aleanzar was not to quit the palace till the next evening. He rose with the sun—his night had been unquiet—his dreams had carried him to Spain—he traversed fields of battle—the sounds of warlike instruments called him to fight—he entered Toledo—he beheld Cava at a distance—he was advancing towards her, when the scene was changed, and he believed himself in the Paradise of his Prophet; all appeared to him serene and beautiful; and he there met Mustapha and Elvira; they smiled upon him, and were about to speak, when joy and agitation awoke him. He wished, if possible, to recover his dream, but it was gone; it had fled with the night; and, in a state of mind neither dissatisfied nor pleased, he leaped from his couch, and throwing his mantle round him, he wandered over his beautiful grounds, and enjoyed the cool breeze that came from the bay; then passing several times before the palace, he looked towards the windows of his fair captive. His conscience did not acquit him for the part he had acted towards her; he was sensible his conduct had been unwarrantable; but love, he flattered himself, pleaded his excuse. He had never before thought so seriously on the atrocity of the action he had committed; and his naturally upright mind taught him to blush for this act of violence. He reflected long; and his determination was, (could he bring his heart to consent) on his return from Tangiers to liberate Cava, and send her in safety to the palace of count Julian. His walk was prolonged for some time; and finding the heat increased, and knowing it was not yet the hour for the morning repast in his castle, he turned into a fragrant walk, terminated by a bower of roses, open to the sea, and always cool. He entered, and was surprised to see there a female wrapped in a thick veil. She rose, and respectfully attempted to pass him, and quit the bower. He stopped her, and soon saw it was Zamora. She again attempted to pass; but with tenderness and respect he entreated her to remain, saying, he hoped she ever believed herself in safety with him. Zamora had every reason to believe she was so; he was her guardian, her friend; to him she owed every thing she possessed in the world; to him she owed she was not a slave; to him she owed her brother’s life. She allowed the prince to lead her to a seat; she poured forth the gratitude of her heart; she spoke of her mother, so dearly loved by him; of her father’s fate, to which she gave her tears; of the delightful prospects his protection presented to her brother, at which her smiles returned. She dwelt on the pleasure she should feel in again beholding the good Sesostris, her father’s faithful friend.
“And all this,” cried Zamora, every tender passion of her soul speaking in her expressive features, “all this I owe to you, my prince! my life, devoted to your service, can never repay my obligations, or the immense debt of gratitude I owe you; and to reflect on all you have done for me, in this delicious retirement, roused me thus early from my bed. My grateful heart lost not the remembrance of your goodness in the visions of the night, and sleep fled from my eyes: the morning air has, I think, restored calm to my mind, and I beseech you allow me now to return to the castle: my friend will expect me.”
“Stay, charming Zamora,” cried Aleanzar with warmth, “stay and hear me: you have summed up a weight of obligation on your part, which your grateful heart has overrated. Zamora, the obligation is on my side; your mother saved my life, your father instructed my youth, and pointed out the path of virtue. Having saved your brother, having protected your innocence, having conducted myself towards you as a brother would do, are the actions of my life I shall always regard with satisfaction; the obligation is a thousand times repaid by your lovely self; your accepting what I have been able to do for you amply repays me. My debt to you is great; you have proved to me that it is not beauty alone that can satisfy a delicate man. In the treasures of your mind, I see my happiness; your virtue, the softness, the sensibility, the delicacy, which you possess, adds tenfold to your beauty. A woman preferred to you has had no power to ruffle your mind; you wished the happiness of Aleanzar, at the expence of your own; is it not so, Zamora? I hope, I trust it is so. Are you still silent, Zamora? My eyes are opened; I see your merits; they break upon me in a flood of light. Zamora, I prefer you to the whole world—to every woman upon earth. Speak, Zamora; but you are still silent, and you weep. I own I have loved and admired the amiable and melancholy Cava. She loves me not. I have acted wrong towards her—when I return from Musa, I shall entreat her pardon, and merit it, by giving her freedom. I shall dispose every thing for her departure to count Julian’s palace, where we, my Zamora, can escort her; but, I beseech you, not yet to breathe a syllable of what has passed this morning to your fair friend; I must have a little time to compose my mind, to settle my plans. But you are still silent, Zamora; will you not speak to Aleanzar, now wholly devoted to you?”
Zamora was indeed silent; she had not the power to speak; she was overcome with excess of happiness, and, lowering her veil, she shed a deluge of tears. Aleanzar was alarmed and gratified; he attempted not to stop her tears; he threw himself at her feet, and tenderly took her hand; he besought her to think only of happiness, and to believe his truth. It was long before Zamora could reply; at length she gave full vent to her grateful heart: she blessed the hour she first saw Aleanzar; with innocence and delicacy, she owned her love; and a conversation ensued, as fond, as passionate, as sincere, as were the hearts of Aleanzar and Zamora.
In a few hours they were to part till the day after the next; and the prince again requested Zamora to be silent to Cava respecting their meeting that morning, or his future intentions— “I have intimated to the princess,” said he, “that at my return I shall be subservient to her wishes, and give her the liberty she so anxiously desires. She will not, I am convinced, doubt the word of Aleanzar; you, Zamora, must obtain my pardon for the past.”
“You want no intercessor,” replied Zamora; “Cava is all sweetness; she will soon forgive an error of which you repent: what true affection I feel for her! how shall I deplore the loss of her delightful society!”
Aleanzar smiled; he looked at her with rapture— “Your nature,” cried he, “is that of an angel; neither vanity, envy, or jealousy, can find a harbour in your bosom. This,” he cried, looking round, “is the paradise to which my dreams last night led me, and you are the houri sent me by our prophet.”
In such discourse, Aleanzar long detained Zamora in the arbour. At length, she returned alone to the castle, and Aleanzar retired to the inmost recess of his palace, to plan his future marriage with Zamora, and the liberation of Cava, with honour to himself and her.
At the appointed hour, he met the fair friends as usual, and devoted himself to their entertainment. He again intimated to the Gothic princess, that, at his return, her actions should be uncontrouled. This gave cheerfulness to Cava, and she perceived not the agitated and absent manner of Zamora, tinctured with a melancholy not natural to her, though it is so to the human heart, when it is full of a great and unexpected happiness. Aleanzar’s natural gaiety too was checked; he was happy, composed, and thoughtful. He behaved with almost equal tenderness to Zamora and to the princess: to the latter he spoke not a word of love, but much of friendship; and when his suit were ready, and that he was to bid these lovely women farewell, only for a little time, he could not account for the sorrow that overcame him: he took the hand of Cava, and, pressing it to his lips, he entreated her not to think of him too severely; to forget the past, if possible; and, in future to look on him with the eye of friendship. The princess was affected; she pressed the hand which held hers, assuring him, if he allowed it, she would in future, consider him as a brother.
“Do so, kind and amiable Cava,” cried the agitated Moor, again pressing her hand to his lips.
They separated; they both felt a pang, as if fate whispered, “Take your last look; you shall never meet again!”
How delicate! how extraordinary! how various are the feelings of the human heart! Cava loved not Aleanzar, but she admired his great qualities, his amiable and engaging manners. Aleanzar had lost his love for Cava, in the contemplation of the perfections, both of Zamora’s person and mind. He would not now have accepted the heart of the princess (could she have bestowed it) in exchange for the tender Zamora’s. Yet, sensible of the perfection of her nature, charmed with the refinement of her sentiments, her accomplishments, and her good sense, he felt for her a friendship partaking in some degree of his former passion. The flame was extinguished, the embers were still bright and warm; and Aleanzar found, at the moment, he could easily relinquish a share of his own felicity to see her happy.
Such were the feelings of those exalted minds; yet here their friendship, which every future day would have encreased, was doomed to end. Alas! how seldom is that sweet solace of human woe, divine friendship, to be found! how almost impossible to find it pure and unalloyed! selfishness, pride, and avarice, chace it from the heart of man: falshood, drest in its sweet smiles, follows the prosperous,
“And leaves the wretch to weep.”
Often are sincere and friendly hearts separated by fate, and sent from each other, far as the distant poles; yet, in such hearts, the holy flame of real friendship will glow beneath a northern sky, and will not be obscured by the brightness of a burning sun under the torrid zone. If thou findest that rare and inestimable jewel, a real friend, preserve him as the apple of thine eye, bind him to thy heart for ever. “What pillow like the bosom of a friend!”
The gallant Aleanzar hurried from the gallery, descended the castle steps, and, mounting his horse, rode forward attended by his troop. Cava and Zamora looked from the balcony; he perceived them, waved his hand, and saluted them with his sabre as he passed the arch. Each saw him depart with pain; each wished for his return. The beautiful friends re-entered the gallery. The lute, and a conversation often languid from their being occupied with their secret thoughts, wore out the evening. Zulima, who determined not to fail in her appointment with Valasquez, complained of a headach, wishing them a good night, retired, as they thought, to her apartment.
Every thing in the palace was at the disposal of Zulima; no one had a right to question her; her motions were unwatched. Throwing a thick veil round her, at the fall of night she took a private path that led towards the arch, where her son kept the guard. He soon perceived her, and approaching, told her, he had an hour since met the stranger, and questioned him on his business there, and could obtain no answer, but that charmed with the beauty of the place, he had walked about the rocks to have a full view of it.
Zulima, fearful that her son might fall under the displeasure of Aleanzar, should he have any knowledge of the departure of Cava, told him he must, for his own sake, be deaf and blind, and suffer her to pass the guard unmolested.
Siad, knowing his mother’s influence over Aleanzar, and certain that he might trust to her prudence, he obeyed her in silence; and, taking her hand, led her through the arch. She soon advised him to return to his guard, and proceeded alone towards the spot where she had appointed to meet Valasquez. On turning round the rock, she found him pacing backwards and forwards, in expectation of her coming; he hastened to meet her, and without delay explained the cause of his and his friend’s arrival on the coast; and, pointing to a man at some distance, told her that was the prince Alonzo, the faithful lover of the Gothic princess, the man destined by count Julian and her mother for her husband; and he added, hesitatingly, “Cava is unwilling to marry; she loves, yet shuns, Alonzo; and if you liberate her, she must not know into whose hands she is committed.”
“Not know the man with whom she is to go!” cried Zulima; “surely a person of so noble an appearance cannot mean to deceive me. Much as I wish to liberate the princess, I have too great a respect and affection for her, to place her in the hands of strangers, who make a mystery of their names and quality, and bring no credentials to vouch for their honour.”
“Worthy Moor,” answered Valasquez, “we do bring credentials: you may depend on our truth: allow me to present the prince to you; he will satisfy all your doubts.”
Valasquez then beckoned Alonzo near: Zulima, though she only saw him by the moon’s pale light, was struck with his graceful and noble figure, with the happy mixture of sense and sweetness that was visible in his manly countenance, though overcast with a great degree of melancholy; but Zulima found that melancholy fascinating; and while she gazed on Alonzo, she thought him superior in external appearance to any man she had ever seen, except her beloved Aleanzar. As the prince and Valasquez spoke the Moorish language to perfection, and Zulima an indifferent Spanish, they completely understood each other; and the friends informed the Moor, that they were sent by the countess Julian to recover her lost child, as she had been made acquainted with the stratagems made use of by Aleanzar to convey her to his castle. “To prove the truth of my commission,” said the prince, “here is a letter from the countess to her daughter, desiring she may place herself under our protection; and assure her, we are particularly sent by her to convey her in safety to her father’s palace. There is also a picture of the countess, and some jewels that Cava well knows belong to her mother; deliver them, generous Moor, with this letter, and she cannot fear treachery; but name us not to the princess, we beseech you; say only we are the servants of the countess: search not into family secrets, worthy Moor; there are weighty reasons which prevent our wishing Cava to be acquainted, either with the names or quality of those that are sent to liberate her.”
It was with difficulty they persuaded the cautious Zulima to listen to their entreaties to conceal their quality; and it was long, and after much discourse, that they succeeded in dissipating her doubts. At last she promised them, that if, on Cava’s reading the letter, and examining the picture and jewels, she was convinced they came from her mother, and that she herself was willing to quit the castle, she would the next night deliver her to their care. “But no force must be made use of,” resumed Zulima; “Cava must depart willingly, or not at all.”
“Be it so,” replied Valasquez. “She will have no hesitation in following us, when she reads the letter.”
It was then agreed upon, that the next night, when all was quiet in the castle, that the prince and Valasquez should come with their boat to the landing-place in the pleasure-grounds, where Zulima would meet them, and either deliver the princess to their care, or bring them her refusal to go.
Every thing being adjusted to their wishes, Alonzo offered Zulima a magnificent jewel, as a reward for her kindness. This she absolutely refused, entreating him to believe she meant, by what she was about to do, to render others happy, not to enrich herself; and wishing them well, she returned to the arch, where she met her son, who conducted her in safety and unnoticed to the castle.
Arrived there, Zulima debated with herself whether she should that night inform Cava of her meeting with the strangers, or delay it till the next day. She feared disturbing the princess at so late an hour, and yet a delay might involve her in difficulties. Should Zamora know of her having private conversations with Cava, it would give her, perhaps, some suspicion of what was going forward, and all her schemes would then be frustrated; for Zamora, she was convinced, would never consent to any thing that could make Aleanzar miserable, even for a moment. This determined her to settle every thing that night with Cava; and entering the gallery that led to her chamber, with a quiet step and much caution, she reached the door of the apartment, at which she gently knocked. The princess had not retired to rest; she had placed herself at a window that looked upon the bay; the night was beautiful, and casting her eyes upon the world of waters that lay before her, she fell into that train of thought which is so natural to a religious, enlightened, and unhappy mind. Her past life rushed to her remembrance; she felt that she was wretched; but a small still voice told her not to repine, and in comforting accents, whispered that the misconduct of others, not her own, had caused her misery; that while conscience approved her actions, she had, in the worst state, a secret satisfaction, an inward happiness, that guilt could never feel. While, deep in these reflections, she endeavoured to calm her sorrows, she heard Zulima knock, and believing it was Zamora, rose to admit her.
She was surprised at seeing the good Moor, whom she imagined had retired indisposed to her chamber. Zulima, perceiving her astonishment, gently closed the door, and saying she had much to inform her of, begged she would listen attentively to all she had to unfold. She began by her suspicions of the false Moors, the evening they had passed on the water; she related the appointment she had made with one of the strangers in the boat, to whom she had given the perfumes; and the meeting that, in consequence, had taken place with him and his friend at the rock; carefully concealing their names and quality, and calling them only the servants of count Julian. She ended by giving Cava the letter, the picture, and the jewels. The moment Cava beheld the portrait, she pressed it to her lips, and to her bosom.
“It is indeed,” said she (tears dropping on the picture); “it is the faithful resemblance of my beloved mother, and dear to my heart. I left this miniature on a table in my apartment, the night that Aleanzar carried me from the castle of count Julian.”
She recognised the jewels; she then perused the letter from the countess, which convinced her she had nothing to fear, in trusting herself to the men with whom Zulima had conversed. Her mother’s letter enjoined her immediate return with them, could they liberate her from the thraldom she was in; it mentioned her own desperate state of health, and her anxious wish to embrace her child before her last hour arrived. Cava was sadly affected; it was a melancholy letter; no mention of her father; nothing of Alonzo.
“I will go,” she cried to Zulima; “I will, if possible, fly this moment to my angel mother; she, alas! will soon be snatched from me; let me not lose an hour.”
She rose to depart, but the Moor checked her impatience, by informing her, her departure was impossible till the next night. She laid before her the plan she had formed, and the secresy with which she must execute it.
“You must be silent to Zamora on your flight,” said Zulima; “was she to give the alarm in the castle, the guard would stop you, and the lives of the Goths who have come to seek you would be endangered; it would be almost impossible for them to escape the vigilance of Aleanzar’s people. You must part with Zamora, without even bidding her farewell. I have formerly told you what I am assured of—she would sacrifice her own happiness to Aleanzar, and detain you here to gratify him.”
“But, kind Zulima, Aleanzar had promised to liberate me the moment he returns.”
“Trust not to the promises of men,” replied the Moor; “their humours change with every wind; their natures are inconstant; variety is their idol, and change their delight: be prudent; fly while you can do it securely; leave me to appease Aleanzar. Give me a letter, if you will, for Zamora, that may express your feelings; your confidence, at present, might be fatal to you.”
Cava, though she thought Zulima had drawn a severe character of men, and hoped there were numbers who could bear no resemblance to it, believed it most prudent to follow the advice of the Moor, and quit the castle while she could do so unmolested. She allowed Zulima to settle the whole plan for the next night; and determined to agree in every point with her wishes, which were anxiously turned towards the execution of her design.
The princess smiled at the ardour of the Moor; and taking her hand, said— “Dear Zulima, I shall soon be at a distance from you; remember me with some little affection, for I have always respected you; and as earnestly wish as you can do, the union of the lovely Zamora with the amiable Aleanzar.”
Zulima, somewhat abashed at this speech, excused herself as to the anxiety she appeared to have for the departure of the princess; she pleaded her affection for Zamora, and her fear of a Christian wife for Aleanzar.
“Fear it not in me,” replied Cava, kindly embracing her; “I venerate my own religion as highly as you can esteem yours; mine, however, teaches me liberality; to-morrow night will prove to you I have no design on the heart of Aleanzar.”
“May you be happy wherever you go, charming Cava,” answered the conscious Moor; “you are almost perfection; and Zulima, when you are far distant, will weary the Prophet with prayers for your safety.”
They then parted, having agreed that the Moor should at that hour the next night wait for the princess in the garden below the castle, to conduct her to the boat where she was to find her friends.
THE Gothic princess passed a restless night; she arose weary and unrefreshed; and felt both hurt and unhappy at leaving the castle of Aleanzar, Zamora, and even Aleanzar himself, in the manner she was about to do. He had promised to send her back in safety to her mother, at least he had strongly intimated his intentions; could she doubt his honour? He appeared conscious, and ashamed of the error he had committed; was it fair to fly from him in the manner she intended? and with strangers too! with those whose names even she was unacquainted with! Would it not be most advisable to wait Aleanzar’s return, and divulging to him her mother’s ill state of health, trust to his honour to restore her in safety?
She soon discarded these thoughts: her mother’s letter was positive; it commanded her return with the messengers; they were commissioned by her; every moment of delay brought her beloved parent nearer the grave; she might never behold her more! This sad idea removed all doubt in the mind of Cava, and fixed her determination of quitting the castle that night.
The anxious princess passed the whole of the day in a state of mind the most disagreeable to her feelings. She and Zamora followed their usual occupations without taking any interest in what they were about. Zamora could not but observe that something of a sombre nature hung on the mind of her friend, and tinctured her words and actions with an unusual melancholy.
At sunset, Cava took the lute, and sung some beautiful airs, ending with one that was a tender and affectionate farewell to a friend, whom the composer supposed he should never meet again. She sung it twice with peculiar pathos. Zamora had never heard it before; she was charmed with it, and besought the princess to teach it to her. Cava could no longer restrain herself; she burst into tears, and laid down the lute. She was near avowing to Zamora, that that night was to separate them, perhaps for ever; but prudence whispered caution; and Zulima entering at the moment, and perceiving the inward struggle of the princess, soon found means to give a different and more lively turn to the conversation; and carefully watched the friends till the hour of repose. Cava got the better of her own feelings, and calmly parted with Zamora at the door of her chamber, when entering her own, she made what little preparation was necessary for her voyage. A thick veil, and a large loose robe to wrap herself in, over her usual dress, was all she chose from her magnificent wardrobe. Her mother’s letter and picture she placed in her bosom, where Alonzo’s had long been hid. The jewels which the countess had sent her she carefully examined, and was pleased to find among them some that were of great value, and she hoped would be kindly accepted, where she wished to bestow them. A fine sapphire clasp for the bosom of a robe she selected for Zamora, and an emerald ring of great value she destined for Aleanzar; and meant to bestow a less rare, though costly jewel, on Zulima.
Having written an affectionate farewell to Zamora, entreated her to accept the token of friendship she left, to present the emerald to Aleanzar in her name, and to make her peace with him for her sudden and unknown departure, she ended— “May you both be happy in each other! to hear that you are so, will give comfort to the broken heart of the miserable Cava. Wear these jewels for my sake; think of me—love me; you can never be forgotten by me. In this castle, as sister to both, I could have serenely passed the rest of my days; but fate forbids it; and, if I judge truly, an early grave will soon shut out my sorrows.”
Having directed her letter and the jewels, she left them on a table, where she knew they must be soon discovered, and was about to put on her veil and seek Zulima in the garden; but affection for Zamora, and an ardent wish once more to behold her, and give her a parting embrace, conquered prudence, and led her to the door of her friend’s chamber. She softly opened it; a perfumed lamp was burning on a stand, and the lovely Zamora was stretched upon a couch, in a profound sleep. The last song which Cava had sung, and written down for her friend in the course of the evening, was lying by her; she had been impressing the words on her memory before she slept, and they had just fallen from her hand. Cava gazed on her with pleasure and sorrow.
“Sweet friend,” cried she, “is this my last look! Charming Zamora, shall I never see you more! Favilla only could rank with you in my friendship; I know not if she still exists: how soon shall I lose all intercourse with you! Oh! why is the human heart so sensible to those fine affections that end only in woe! How has fate torn me from all I love! How does it still pursue me with increasing cruelty! I have only met kindred minds, to have the sympathetic bands that united us rudely torn asunder!”
Zamora, disturbed by the entrance of the princess, was now roused from her slumbers; and raising her head, was astonished to see Cava in her chamber at so late an hour, and instantly inquired what had prevented her going to repose? Cava, now sensible of her imprudence, repaired it by saying, she had heard some noise in the gallery, and believing she had not yet retired to rest, had come to speak on matters she would now delay till a future hour. Zamora besought her to remain at the present and unburden her mind, for from her looks and manner, she feared she was oppressed with some sorrow. “No,” cried Cava, “to-morrow will explain all; good night, good night, dear Zamora;” and, stooping down, she tenderly embraced her: again Zamora entreated her stay; but, fearful of betraying herself, she hurried towards the door—stopped—hesitated—again advancing to Zamora’s couch, and tenderly embracing her, she put off all explanation of her conduct till the morrow; and the amiable Moor saw her close the door, with sorrow and alarm on her account; but fearful of distressing her, suffered her to depart, hoping that the next day, being made acquainted with her friend’s cause of grief, she should be able in some degree to mitigate it.
Cava, having thrown her robe round her, and covered herself with her veil, in trepidation hurried from the palace; and meeting Zulima on the terrace, they descended to the beach. They soon heard the dashing of the oars; and the night was sufficiently light for them to discern the boat, which had just entered the bay. It was large, and seemed well manned and armed; it had not yet approached the shore; and Cava had time to express to Zulima her thanks for the kindness she had shewn her.
“You owe me nothing,” returned the Moor; “I grieve at the necessity there is that we should part: may Heaven protect and bless you!”
The boat had now anchored, and the two noble Goths were ascending the steps of the landing place, to receive the princess from Zulima.
Cava threw herself into the arms of the Moor; she wept, and embracing her, said— “Comfort Zamora for my loss; and assure Aleanzar it is with difficulty I bring myself to quit his charming abode in this clandestine manner; necessity, not my own will, obliges me to do so.”
Alonzo, who had stepped forward to receive the hand of the princess, and had concealed his face, that he might continue unknown to her, hearing these words, drew back, and a deep sigh issued from his bosom. Cava heeded him not, entirely occupied by the idea of those she was leaving behind; when she had a second time entreated Zulima to deliver her message faithfully, and again embraced her, she gave her hand to Valasquez, who stood nearest to her, and hurrying down the steps, he conveyed her to the gallery in silence, placing her where she could be best accommodated.
Alonzo, with his face nearly hid by his cloak, followed; and, taking his seat at some distance from Cava, was devoured with jealousy, caused by the expressions she made use of to the Moor; and he took it for granted, that heart which he prized above all earthly possessions was given to Aleanzar. In this state of mind he felt unwilling to approach her, and suffered Valasquez to remain near her, and solely attend to her accommodation on board the vessel, where nothing was wanting that could render her voyage agreeable. She inquired from Valasquez how long it was likely they should continue at sea? and he informed her, if, fortunately, the wind continued as it then was, the next noon would bring them to the destined port. Satisfied with this assurance, the princess replied only with an inclination of her head; and, leaning her cheek on her hand, fell into deep thought.
The night was sultry; some dark clouds gathered in the heavens, and at times obscured the moonbeams that fell upon the deck; the winds, however, were hushed; and no sound broke on the silence of the night, save only the hum of the mariners, and that monotonous sound which proceeded from the regular motion of the oars, as the vessel cut through the waves. For some hours the calm continued, and their voyage was most prosperous: it was now near day break; faint streaks of light were perceptible in the East; and Cava flattered herself, that a very short time would restore her to her mother. She believed herself attended by the domestics of the countess; and, except to thank Valasquez for some refreshments he had presented to her, she had not spoken to any one on board; nor had she given the least attention to Alonzo, or the melancholy attitude in which he had continued for some hours. With the dawn came a whistling wind; the sea swelled; thick clouds gathered; the air became almost suffocating; and tremendous claps of thunder, with lightning, that seemed as if it would set the galley on fire, soon alarmed, not only Cava, but the crew. The man at the helm called to the rowers to make every exertion to reach one of the ports belonging to count Julian; to keep as near the coast of Africa as they could with safety; that, by the bright flashes of lightening, he discovered the Straits, and he trusted they might be able to land before the hurricane became more dreadful. “We have much to fear,” cried he, “if it drives us out to sea.”
Every thing now was hurry and confusion on board: Cava, though death would have been welcome to her, yet felt as every human being must do, at the approach of a violent one; to be engulfed in a raging sea was a tremendous thought; and, appalled at the loud claps of thunder, and the vivid lightening, that now every moment flashed across the deck, she placed her hand upon her eyes, and, not supposing any one attended to her, she said aloud— “Oh! my beloved, my dear, my never-to-be-forgotten Alonzo, I shall behold you no more; and to be assured that you are still in existence is denied to the hapless Cava.”
As she uttered these words, she was sinking from the seat she sat on, and found herself supported in the arms of one of the men who had conveyed her to the vessel. While he supported her with one arm, he clasped her hand in his which was free, and pressed it to his lips. She was more alarmed at this conduct than at the storm, when the well-known voice of Alonzo whispered— “Cava, my ever-dear Cava, this moment, though one of terror, repays me for much suffering. Your Alonzo is near you; he hears you breathe a wish to behold him again; he feels that his Cava’s heart is unchangeable, and the conviction makes him blest.”
While Alonzo spoke, he felt a heavier weight upon his arm; the hand he held seemed lifeless in his; the head of the princess sunk upon his shoulder; the opening day shewed him the lovely Cava’s pallid countenance, and that she was, to appearance, a lifeless corpse in his arms. He shrieked to Valasquez for assistance; this faithful friend was soon at his side, and by their repeated efforts, they at length recovered the princess.
She gazed wildly round; then fixing her languid and tearful eyes on Alonzo (who, scarcely able to support her, was himself near sinking on the deck) she drew her veil over her face, saying—“For pity’s sake, quit me, Alonzo. You are alive; thank Heaven I know you are so; but leave me, I beseech you; if you value my peace, leave me; we must meet no more. I know your heart; and, perhaps, that is my greatest grief: kill me not with your kindness; if we can weather this dreadful storm, let your friend restore me to my mother; we, alas! must meet no more.”
Alonzo was about to reply, and to combat her will, but the elements forbade him. The sailors called out that the ship was in the utmost danger; and if the storm continued to rage, it must sink.—“Then we are blessed; we shall die together,” exclaimed Alonzo, pressing Cava in his arms; “now you will not refuse to listen to me; now you will not drive me from you.”
The princess could only sigh and weep: she had not now the power to withdraw herself from the encircling arms of her faithful Alonzo; and both their hearts felt satisfied that nothing more should separate them, but that fate would consign them together to the tomb.
Cava now read the heart of her lover; his doubts were over with respect to hers: and, amidst this war of the elements, faithful love granted to two miserable beings some moments of almost perfect felicity. Faithful, pure, and perfect love, thy power is omnipotent! thou art
“That cordial drop Heaven in our cup has thrown,
To make the bitter draught of life go down.”
An hour passed as a moment to Alonzo and Cava; pleased, not terrified, at the approach of death, the shock of worlds would have been nothing to them; they heard not the thunders roar; they noticed not the blue lightning as it played around them: Cava, pressed to the bosom of Alonzo, her head resting on his shoulder, her hands clasped in his, calmly saw the rolling wave pass over the vessel, and could figure to herself no greater felicity than dying with Alonzo. He brought to her remembrance all the happiness of her early years; she listened with sad delight to his vows; and every word she uttered spoke her heart. But how few are the moments of happiness allotted to man! We lose them at the instant we enjoy them most, and feel most secure of their duration.
Our lovers were soon awakened to a sense of suffering by the loud vociferation and joy of the mariners; the storm was fast subsiding; the clouds dispersed; the thunder ceased to roll; and a bright sun, rising in glory, replaced, with its vivifying rays, the red glare of the lightning that had threatened destruction. “The port, the port,” they cried, “was in view; in an hour they should land:” all was joy, tumult, and delight, on board. Valasquez congratulated the prince and Cava on their safety; they answered him not: Cava’s brow was overcast; she withdrew herself from Alonzo; he attempted not to hold her. She wrapped her veil round her, and hid her face. Valasquez felt for her; he approached, and endeavoured to cheer her by speaking of her mother; this string vibrated to the heart of the unhappy princess; filial tenderness resumed its place in her bosom; she faintly smiled, and strove to think only of her duty.
She questioned Valasquez concerning her father, and the war in Spain. She had not the power to converse with Alonzo on the subject.
In the time the mariners had predicted, the galley was in port. The shore was lined with friends, to watch and welcome their approach; and Cava landed, escorted by the prince and Valasquez, amidst the blessings and acclamations of the multitude, for she was admired and beloved by all her father’s vassals. She made not a moment’s delay till she reached the castle: Alonzo had sent a swift messenger to apprize the countess of their safety, and their approach; and he had soon the happiness of placing her beloved daughter in her arms.
The countess, in the last stage of a consumption, had exerted herself to receive her child; and, as the day was sultry, had made her attendants carry her to the most airy apartment of the castle, where, placed on a sofa, she waited impatiently the arrival of Cava. The delight she felt from the recovery of this beloved daughter, had given a hectic glow to her pale and emaciated countenance, and prevented Cava at first being sensible of the ravages sickness and sorrow had made on the fine face of the countess. Long did she strain her child to her bosom, and hold her in her embrace; and often did she lift her eyes and hands to Heaven, in gratitude for her safety; then seizing Alonzo’s hand, and drawing him towards her, she thanked, embraced, and called him her son; declaring she never could express what she felt, and that she must leave it to Cava to repay him for all he had done.
Alonzo, shocked to see the countess so fast and visibly declining, endeavoured to compose her, and, as much as possible, to change a conversation that he saw was most painful to Cava: feigning business, he excused himself from seeing them till night; and he and his friend left the countess to the free enjoyment of her child’s company.
Soon Cava perceived, with deep anguish, the deplorable state of her mother’s health; the flush of joy over, it was succeeded by a deathlike paleness, that plainly indicated the approaching fate of the countess; and her amiable child, struck by so sad a warning, mentally said—“I will, while this dear mother exists, devote each moment of my time to her, and to her alone. I will discard all selfish thoughts; I will forget the past, think no more of my own sufferings, or of Alonzo. No, Alonzo; not even to you shall my thoughts wander, while she exists; to her I consecrate my tenderest feelings; all but my mother shall be forgotten. Even the most cruel fate cannot entirely rob the human heart of comfort, when, looking back, we can say, I have done my duty—I have acted well—I have rendered myself amiable in the eyes of those I most love and venerate.”
Thus thought the amiable Cava, and thus she acted: in her tenderness and attention to her mother she forgot herself; and, entirely occupied with the countess, she suppressed her own griefs. Obliged to see Alonzo often, she avoided all opportunities of private conversation; and he, knowing how earnestly she wished to be unmolested, thought this no season to talk of love.
Above two months the countess continued nearly in the same state; and often her fond child flattered herself with the vain hope of her recovery.
All this time no letters were received from count Julian. Many messengers arrived from Spain; Musa was victorious; Abdalesis was master of Toledo; and it was rumoured that Aleanzar had landed in Spain: but all were silent as to the fate of count Julian: the countess had heard nothing respecting him since Alonzo had left him on the plains of Xeres. He, knowing the count’s state of mind, had his fears; but was most careful to conceal them from his wife and daughter.
Cava gave her mother her history, from the hour Aleanzar had carried her off, till the present moment; and often to amuse her, dwelt on the beauties of his castle, and his noble treatment of her while she was its inhabitant: the sweet Zamora was not forgotten; Cava gave a warm and animated description of the charms of her mind and person; and constantly her discourse, by earnestly wishing her union with the gallant Moor. Alonzo, almost always in the apartment of the countess, eagerly listened to Cava; and, though greatly enraged at the violence of Aleanzar’s conduct, in stealing away the princess, he could not refuse him his admiration when she launched out in his praise; and both he and the countess anxiously wished to be acquainted with Zamora, whose attachment to Cava appeared to have been so tender and sincere.
One evening that the countess had found herself extremely exhausted, as she was alone with Cava and Alonzo, she requested they would assist her into an inner apartment, and there leave her to repose for some time.—“I shall be better presently,” said she; “do not call my attendants; but I entreat you both to remain in this room; leave the apartments open, and watch me while I sleep.” They obeyed her; and placing her on a sofa as she wished, they were about to retire, when taking a hand of each, she joined them, and with an earnest look, besought them to remember that they had long been destined for each other.—“I know the sincerity of your heart,” said the countess to Alonzo; “and you, Cava, I also know yours; you must promise me to fulfil your father’s commands, and my wishes.”
“Dearest mother, try to rest; we shall talk of this hereafter.”
“No; talk of it now,” returned the countess. “I give you to Alonzo; he loves you—he will protect you when I am gone.”
Alonzo pressed the countess’s hand to his lips, declaring, in the most solemn manner, all he desired in this world was to make Cava his wife, and that it was her illness only that had prevented his urging his suit.
“I know it,” cried the countess fairly; “I know your delicacy, my beloved Alonzo;” turning earnestly to Cava—“You must be his wife.”
Cava, violently agitated at seeing her mother, in the weak state she was reduced to, so anxious on worldly concerns, stooping down, and in a tender embrace joining her face to hers, said—“Compose yourself, my mother; I wish to quiet all your fears; I promise you I never will marry any man but Alonzo.”
This was uttered in so low a voice, that the countess only heard the words; whether they satisfied her or not, is uncertain; but again desiring to be left alone, her daughter and Alonzo withdrew to the outer apartment, placing themselves so that they could have a full view of the countess as she lay upon her couch: soon she appeared to be in a profound sleep; and Cava, as she sat with her eyes fixed on the spot where her mother lay, from the quietness of her slumber, felt a dawn of hope that now was the crisis of her complaint, and that it might prove a favourable one. For some time she sat in perfect silence, forgetting every thing on earth but her mother, and even insensible to the presence of Alonzo. He hung upon her looks, and watched her also in silence.
The evening was now coming to a close; the heat was extreme, and all the lattices in the apartments had been opened to admit the air; a mountain breeze at times scattered perfumes from the gardens of the castle through the chambers, and rendered the heat less oppressive; a softened light gave an air of melancholy to all around; Cava felt it; and tears, she was not able to suppress, fell on her bosom.
Alonzo could be silent no longer; he rose from his seat, and flinging himself at her feet, he cried—“Cava, my love, my affianced wife, be comforted; your parents have consigned you to my care; love long since has joined our hearts: receive me, Cava, as your husband; gratify your dying mother by the assurance that you will do so; and make me the most blessed of men, by suffering me to devote the rest of my life to your happiness: I will study, Cava, to be worthy of you; I will study to obliterate from your mind all that can oppress you; I shall look upon you as the dearest treasure that can be bestowed on man; such a mind, such a heart as yours, is above all praise.”
Cava, as he spoke, cast her eyes tenderly upon him; tears rolled down her cheeks, and she calmly answered—“Was it possible, Alonzo, that you could wipe from recollection my past misfortunes, I know that with you I should be happy; but alas! that is even beyond your power. While memory lasts, I must be wretched.”
“No,” interrupted the prince with ardour, “you must not, you shall not be wretched, if Alonzo can make you otherwise: know that the tyrant Rodrigo is dead; he has paid the forfeit of his crimes; I saw him sink beneath the waters of the Guadaleta to rise no more; let your sorrows be buried with him; and let your Alonzo see you smile again.”
“Name him not,” cried Cava (turning ashy pale); “let not my senses be blasted by the sound!” Here her agitation encreased, and she covered her face with her veil: sorrow would have its course; it was silent but deep. Alonzo did not dare to interrupt it; he felt almost distracted, yet feared to utter a word.
Cava at length drew back her veil, and having acquired the possession of herself, calmly besought the prince to rise, and seat himself by her side. He rose; he took her hand in his; she drew it gently from him, and pointed to a seat. In a few minutes she thus addressed him—
“Alonzo, fate seems to have given me this moment, to open my full heart to you. I will do it truly, faithfully as I would to Heaven, and I beseech you to listen to me with patience. Let not passion influence you. Alonzo; reason, virtue, alone must be your guides, as they have been mine.”
“Cava,” cried the prince, suddenly interrupting her, “you are preparing me for something dreadful; you are going to reject me; I will not hear you; you shall not, if I can help it, devote yourself and me to misery by too refined feelings.”
“By too refined feelings!” answered Cava: “Is it possible the prince Alonzo should make use of such language! what is woman without refined feelings? what is she without delicacy of sentiment and action? why, she is almost without virtue! Hear me calmly, Alonzo; I trust if you do so, I shall convince your reason, though I may oppose your passions; hear me with calmness; it is all I require.”
The prince, full of sorrow (for he truly interpreted her words), silently acquiesced, and fixing a steadfast and melancholy look on her, gave her all his attention.
Cava saw his distress; it pierced her to the soul; yet that distress was dear to her; it proved his heart, and, in the midst of misfortune, that heart was a treasure she found her worst misfortune would be to lose. Again she prepared to speak; her voice failed, her tongue faltered; she stopt, she hesitated; at length she said, “Alonzo, it is needless for me now to declare to you the feelings of that heart you so well know how to read: at this moment, when I reject your hand, when I tell you I never can, never will be your wife, they are as true as sincere, as fond as when in our early days we were happy at Toledo.”
Here the prince wrung his hands, and a deep groan issued from his bosom.
“Alonzo!” cried the princess, “do not add to my griefs by this overwhelming sorrow. I doubt not your love; you have given me every proof of it that the most devoted lover could give; I will not abuse your tenderness; we must part; I ought not to be your wife.”
“You ought, you shall!” cried he with vehemence; “it is the wish, nay, the command of your parents.”
“I will not, I ought not to be your wife; your honour, my honour, and delicacy forbids it. ‘Cesar’s wife should not be suspected!’ I think with Cesar, and I thank Heaven that has given me a Roman soul, which rises above misfortune. I have notions respecting marriage that I think, Alonzo, in your cooler moments, you must approve. Seeing the carelessness of the world respecting it, seeing it so lightly entered into, and the union of mind and sentiment so little thought of in this sacred bond, I turned my thoughts deeply to consider why such numbers were miserable, ere a few months had passed over their heads; so few satisfied with their lot, or tasting the smallest comfort. To secure lasting happiness in marriage, there is much required; love is not alone sufficient; it is impossible to love long, where one cannot perfectly esteem: if once disgusted with either mind or person, there is an end of happiness; it is flown for ever. The heart of husband and wife should be open to the inspection of each other—open as if there was a window in the breast; there should be nothing to conceal, either of the past or present hour; there should be no room for reproach, at least on the woman’s side; nothing to look back to that could lower her in the opinion of the man she calls by the dear name of husband: perfect delicacy, purity of mind and manners, should adorn the woman; she should have nothing to blush for in the presence of the husband she loves, or happiness cannot be hers. Tempers may be adverse, but fools only will gratify their tempers at the expence of real happiness. How must a woman feel, if she knows that, on any slight disagreement, any gust of passion, her husband can reproach her with the past? Is it possible that woman can be happy? No! a corroding worm will gnaw at her heart, and peace will be no more. In my opinion, purity in person, mind, and manners, can alone secure felicity in wedlock: delicacy, that constant necessary attendant on a woman, should never quit her one moment; it should preside at her toilet, be found in the most secret recesses of her chamber, close the curtains of her couch, and be present at her waking hour. Do not tell me, Alonzo, that my ideas are too refined; they are what I can never alter; I am fixed: I am determined never to be your wife. I love you, Alonzo; I blush not to declare it; I love you with unfeigned affection; I think, had fate been propitious, we had been completely happy; but it is over; we must reconcile ourselves to our lot; I look to a future world for that peace I lose in this. We must part; we must see each other no more; you will give me the best proof of your constant affection, by acquiescing in my will, and approving of my conduct; it is dictated by perfect love, and by delicacy of mind. No one, not even you, Alonzo, can believe the pangs this determination has given to my heart; but it is past; I am conscious I am acting right, and that supports me. My wish was never to have seen you more; fate has decreed it otherwise; we have met, and perhaps my poor heart has thrown off some of the dead weight which so long oppressed it. I cannot explain, even to myself, my real feelings, but too well I know, Alonzo, that we must part.” Here she gave him her hand, and, with it, a look of the most perfect tenderness.
The prince raised the proffered hand fondly to his lips, and cried, in agony—“Oh! too amiable, too delicate, too lovely Cava! this, indeed, is the extreme of misery.”
The unhappy lovers were lost in silent sorrow, when the countess awoke from her long slumber. They forgot their own sufferings, and instantly approached her couch. She attempted to rise—she fell back—the king of terrors was at hand—she was speechless. Cava raised her dying mother in her arms. The countess gazed tenderly at her, and expired without a groan. The princess could not be persuaded she was dead; she knelt by her: she clasped the lifeless form to her heart; she called on her name; she endeavoured by every possible means to restore animation: Alonzo called her attendants; cordials were administered; they were in vain; she had passed the goal; she was beyond human help: and, by Alonzo’s care, the fainting Cava was removed from so sad a scene, and conveyed to her apartment.
“IN what new region, to the just assign’d,
What new employments please th’unbody’d mind?
A winged virtue, through th’ethereal sky.
From world to world, unweary’d dost thou fly?
Or, dost thou warn poor mortals left behind?
A task well suited to thy gentle mind!
Oh! if sometimes thy spotless form descend,
To me, thy aid, thou guardian parent lend!
Lead through the paths thy virtue trod before,
Till bliss shall join, nor death can part us more.”
THE being prepared for misfortune seldom makes the stroke less bitter to a feeling mind. Death comes home to every heart; and a young and affectionate mind is nearly overthrown, when, for the first time, it feels that a dear and beloved object is no more. When it sees the form in which it delighted, pale, inanimate, and senseless; the eye closed that was accustomed to express the feelings of the soul; the ear deaf to the accents that once charmed it; the tongue mute, that had so often amused and instructed—the world, at such a moment, holds out little to recompense so sad a loss; a dark cloud overshadows it; you spurn its vanities with contempt; your thoughts quit it for a nobler region; and it is long before gross human nature regains her influence.
Cava, carried lifeless from the chamber of the countess, was only restored to reflection to feel and bewail her melancholy fate.
Eternal separation from a fond parent, must, at any period of life, wring the heart of a child; in her situation, the death of her mother was a source of unutterable woe. She was left desolate in a world that had used her ill, that was hateful to her, and where she feared to trust herself. She had riches, she had rank, but what did that avail? She was alone in her father’s palace; his vassals at present were hers; but was she certain of their fidelity, should count Julian be numbered with the dead? No one knew his fate; she feared the worst. Could she a moment think herself secure in any thing she possessed? The Saracens had overrun Spain; they, not the Christians, commanded there. In Africa, where she now was, the territory she was mistress of was too small, and her people too few and weak, to resist the Moors, should they claim a right to her and her domains; and they were in force, even at the boundaries.
These sad truths passed in quick succession through the mind of Cava, when her senses were restored. Alonzo too, his love, his perseverance, and his grief at her rejection of him, appalled her, and weighed heavily on her dejected heart. Alonzo appeared before her; he came to weep with her, to lament the amiable countess, and to offer every possible consolation to her in whom his soul delighted.
Cava, forgetting herself, her love, every thing but her recent loss, received the prince as she would have done a brother; and listened, with the most melancholy satisfaction, to the praises he bestowed on the departed countess. The share he took in her grief softened it; and the only moments she felt herself free from almost despair, were those she passed in his company.
Alonzo desired he might have the regulation of the obsequies, as he wished, if possible, to spare Cava so sad a scene. She accepted his offer of directing the funeral of her mother, but positively insisted on attending in person, and paying the last sad honours to the dead. She was so earnest, and so determined, that the prince yielded, finding it in vain to combat her pious wishes.
Every day, unattended, Cava visited the dear remains, which were now laid in state in one of the apartments of the castle; there contemplating the end of man, and the vanity of all worldly grandeur, she was strengthened in her determination of quitting the world.—“Alas!” cried she, while her eyes overflowed, and her hands were clasped and raised to Heaven, “what do I resign in relinquishing a world where all my happiness is wrecked? My mother, my indulgent mother, is removed from the protection of her child: I see before me her once exquisite form, fast approaching to corruption; that heavenly spirit that animated it, and shed its benign influence, not only on her wretched child, but on all around her, has taken its flight to a happier region, where she will assuredly be rewarded for all her sufferings here. Oh!” cried she, sinking on her knees by her mother’s corse, and pressing her lips on the clay-cold hand, “what do I not owe to you, my sainted mother, for so firmly impressing on my mind that Christian faith, which opens to our view so bright a futurity, though here misery may assail us, and dark clouds overspread our brightest day. Still, beloved mother, if it be permitted, watch over your child; I will flatter myself that you may possibly see into my heart, may still guard it from error. While life is given me, may I emulate your virtues; but, oh! if my prayers are heard, I shall soon join you in a happier world.” Then pausing, she at last sobbed aloud—“How am I alone in the universe! What have I not lost! My father, you, my mother, and my ever-dear Alonzo—I can lose no more.” Alonzo stood mournfully at her side; he had heard all she uttered. On perceiving him, she rose confused, and retired to her apartment.
The next night was fixed on for the interment of the countess. She was to be buried in the chapel belonging to the castle. Alonzo, to do her honour, had ordered the funeral in the most magnificent style.
With daylight rose the unhappy Cava; she feared to proceed to the apartment of death, lest she should again meet Alonzo, and while her mind was unhinged, and softened by her recent sorrows, not be sufficiently herself to put a stop to those tender assurances of affection that she now dreaded to hear, though thoroughly convinced they proceeded from the truest heart, and one that would ever beat for her.
Risen, she saw with horror the melancholy dress in which she was soon to be arrayed, and which her attendants had left in order the night before. Her blood curdled in her veins, her lip trembled, and her wan cheek grew paler, as, her eye rested on the sable garments, and the black veil that lay before her. She paced her room, then stopped to contemplate them; and raising her eyes to Heaven, while they streamed with tears, she cried—“Grant me resignation, oh! Almighty Power, should I be doomed to wear that mournful dress for more than one parent. Where are you, my father? Surely not on earth, or my excellent mother, my wretched self, could not be forgotten by you.” In silent agony she then traversed her chamber, and seeing the faint rays of early day penetrate the lattice of her apartment, she advanced towards the window, and unclosed it, to admit the cool air of the morning: for a while she was lost in the contemplation of the earth and the heavens; the dawn was not overcast, but gave promise of the brightest day, and nature appeared to awaken gay and smiling from the repose of the night; the breeze that shook the dew-drops from the trees and flowering shrubs that adorned the castle gardens, scattered fragrance as it passed; the growing light gave gay tints to every object; and the scenery from the windows of the castle would have filled any heart with joy, not absorbed in that deep and complicated grief that oppressed the Gothic princess. She felt not now the sweet influence of beauteous nature; all its charms were lost upon her; her eye, turned inward, saw hope cut off, and in its place, gloom, sorrow, and despair.
Sitting down at the casement, she leaned her heavy head on her hand, and with a vacant stare, fixed her eyes on the rising sun; but soon turned in disgust from the glorious sight, crying—“Alas! your bright beams bring no pleasure to Cava; darkness, solitude, and the deepest gloom, is best suited to my sorrows; how is it with me, when such a morning as this fails to shed one drop of comfort on my withered heart!” here she fell into deep thought, and planned a thousand schemes to hide herself for ever from Alonzo: but how could she avoid him? friendless, unknown, where could she wander?—What safety was there for her, in a wide world in which she had met so much ill? and with such friends, such rank, such protection, as she had had, was yet made, by a cruel destiny, so completely miserable.
More than an hour had she mused, and no scheme had as yet satisfied her mind; and she looked to nothing but being in her own palace, either a prisoner to her apartments, or ever subject to the company, and a witness to the discontent, of Alonzo. She dreaded her own weakness if she listened to him; and, obstinate in her determination of never being his, she saw no chance for freedom of choice, but in flying from him; how to do so, now occupied her mind, when she heard a heavy footstep near her window; she thought the person stopped, and sighed deeply, and fearing it was Alonzo, withdrew from the casement; curiosity brought her instantly back, and looking from it, she was surprised and rejoiced to behold Garcia, an officer belonging to count Julian, high in his favour, the son of her nurse; and one whom she had supposed, till this moment, in Spain with her father, about whose person he generally was.
“Garcia,” cried Cava, leaning from the casement, “Garcia, when did you return? What news of my beloved father? Is he coming? Have you been sent before to apprize us? Tell me all, I beseech you? Oh! my father, who will have the courage to disclose to him his irreparable loss—to tell him that my dearest mother is no more? What will his sufferings be when he enters his mourning castle!”
Garcia was now beneath the window; he looked sorrowfully at Cava, and his heavy eye was filled with tears; his handsome, manly countenance was haggard; he appeared as if he had suffered much, and was deeply affected in mind and body.
“My princess,” cried he, “I have little to tell you; you already know the fate of Spain—count Julian—the Saracens have been successful; I will not say that the catastrophe may be what my noble master the count expected; but, my dear lady, how grieved I am to say I must disappoint your hopes!—I am alone; your brave father is not returned. We parted on the plains of Xeres; I was sent with letters and orders to my lamented mistress, your mother; my journey has been unfortunate; the delay, both by land and sea, has been great. Judge, lady, of my grief, when at daybreak I arrived, to find this castle the seat of sorrow; to hear, that she to whom I owed every thing was no more! I could not believe the sad tidings, till my eyes too truly convinced me they were not fallacious. I am just come from the chamber of death, where I have left the amiable and worthy Alonzo, mourning over the inanimate form of the parent that so cherished him. I could stand the most dreadful field of battle, rather than such a sight! But, lady, why should I talk to you thus? you, whom yourself seem sinking under your grief. Alas! lady, I have only to pray that you may see happier days, all the respect and duty I paid your mother, I here vow in future to pay to you;” and drawing his sword and kissing it, he added— “Here, lady, I devote my life to your service; no labour, no peril, shall I deem too great, to shew my gratitude to the count and countess Julian, by watching over the fate of their child, and being obedient to her every wish.”
Here the brave Garcia placed his sword again in its scabbard; and, with a melancholy look, fixed his eyes on Cava, who, deeply affected by the gratitude and fidelity of his nature, was dissolved in tears.
The sun was now risen, and Cava and Garcia had a full view of each other’s countenance, and both were mutually shocked to see the havoc that a few months had made in their persons. The princess, though still exquisitely beautiful, looked like one on the brink of the grave. The spirit of her countenance was gone; her bloom was fled; the faded roses had died upon her cheeks; her lip was wan; and the thinness and airiness of her form gave an idea while you viewed her, that she might vanish from your sight.
Garcia gazed at her with sorrow; he felt as an affectionate brother would do; his heart swelled in his bosom, and he was silent.
Cava perceived that her appearance shocked him; she had seen with pleasure his perfect devotion to her will, and it instantly occurred to her, that he would assist in her scheme of finding out some asylum where she could live free from the misery of being subject to the presence of Alonzo. Unwilling to be seen conversing with even Garcia at her casement, she requested him to meet her about the middle of the night in the chapel, at her mother’s tomb, where she would inform him what services she hoped from him;—“And in that solemn spot,” cried she, “you will, I hope, prove to me, Garcia, what I never doubted, that you regard me as your sister.”
“I do, I do,” answered Garcia; “every action of my life shall speak for me.”
Cava waved her hand to him to retire, and withdrawing from the casement, she immediately closed it. She had scarcely done so, when a message arrived from Alonzo, that he entreated permission to see her. She ordered her attendants to admit him: their interview was tender and melancholy; Cava restrained not her tears, and they gave a temporary relief to the agitation of her mind. On Alonzo’s taking leave, she entreated to be left for the remainder of the day to herself; she wished not to be disturbed till the mournful procession began.
The prince, who only lived to obey her, retired, entreating her to calm her spirits, and allow him to point her view to happier days. She answered him not; but her grateful and affectionate look passed to his heart, and with something of hope in his bosom he quitted her apartment. Absorbed in deep and melancholy reflections, Cava passed some hours; when, sensible that the time approached to pay the last duties to her departed mother, she summoned her attendants, and with a breaking heart, arrayed herself in her sable garb. The prince at the proper moment was at the door of her apartment, anxious to attend and support her at the solemn scene.
She perceived him: the day was shut in; that part of the castle, with the passages that led to the chapel, were hung in black, and lamps were thinly scattered along the gloomy walls. Cava, languid, and pale as a drooping lily, gave her trembling hand to Alonzo, and allowed him to conduct her to where they joined the sad procession.
No words can describe the agonizing grief that pierced the soul of Cava as she followed her mother’s corse into the chapel. When the great door was thrown open—when the priests advanced to pay the last honours to the dead—to her, whose conduct through life had been so exemplary—whose guide through its thorny path had been that religion they professed—when she saw unaffected sorrow on the faces of all around—when music, with heavy, deep, and solemn tones, at intervals struck on her ear, and the awful dirge for the dead began—
“When o’er the closing grave,
Rung the full choir, in choral stave,”
Cava, notwithstanding the attentions of Alonzo, would have sunk to the earth, had not Garcia, who happily had mingled with the crowd, flown to assist the trembling prince, whose supporting arms could scarcely sustain the fainting Cava. She saw every comfort of life buried in her mother’s grave! that mother, who had felt the sorrows of her child with more acuteness than had they been her own. “While my mother lived,” she mentally said, “I had still support; on her bosom I could lament, or for a moment forget affliction: alas! with the closing of her grave, the world closes upon me!” And bending over the still yawning sepulchre, she earnestly wished she could there be laid at peace. At length the solemn service was at an end—the crowd dispersed—the countess Julian was interred.
“Oh! fading honours of the dead!
Oh! high ambition, lowly laid!”
The mournful scene had operated so strongly on the princess, that Alonzo, fearing every thing from the agony she seemed to suffer, proposed to Garcia to assist her to her chamber. Cava made no opposition, and heaving a deep-drawn sigh, she suffered them to lead her from the chapel. Alonzo insisting on her swallowing a cordial which had been prepared for her, flew to procure it; and she took the moment of his absence to entreat Garcia not to forget the midnight hour. An inclination of his head, with his hand pressed upon his heart, was all the answer the faithful Garcia could make before the return of the prince, who then conducted Cava to her own apartment, beseeching her to endeavour at some composure, saying—“He hoped a few days would render her able to converse with him on the plan they both had to pursue, respecting her father’s government, and their own private views.”
Cava faintly answered—“That the government was always safe in his hands; and that whenever it was possible, without violence to her own feelings, she would acquiesce in all his wishes.” And while they proceeded to her chamber, she said—“Are you not convinced, Alonzo, that Cava’s heart is fully impressed with your worth—that she values you above the world—and that the feeling you have shewn for the loss of her angelic mother, has, if possible, made you dearer to her than ever? but do not from this flatter yourself that we can ever be united. On a former occasion I have said sufficient to convince you my determination is unchangeable. My mind is not hardened, but steady in the right. You must be convinced, Alonzo, how much I suffer in withdrawing myself from you.”
Unwilling to add to the present distress of her he so dearly loved, the sorrowing Alonzo (hoping a more fortunate hour, and suppressing those murmurs that were ready to escape him) tenderly bade her adieu, praying she might pass a tranquil night. Cava, in silence, gave her hand to the prince and Garcia, and instantly closing her door, she shut herself into her apartment, where we shall leave her to her sad reflections, for it still wants two hours to midnight, the time she had appointed to meet Garcia in the chapel.
“THE midnight bell did with his iron tongue and brazen mouth, sound on into the drowsy race of night,” when Cava (who had impatiently waited for the appointed moment) raising her lamp from the table, and gently opening the door of her chamber, entered the gloomy passages that led to the chapel, rendered still more gloomy by the sable hangings that remained on their walls, and the dying lamps, whose flame, not quite extinguished, sunk alternately almost to darkness in the socket, and then with sudden blaze shewed the gloom more horribly; but the princess passed on, unappalled by the surrounding objects. She “had that within which passeth show;” her course she had determined on; and she dreaded only, that the weakness of her own heart might prevent her pursuing it. She was to pass that part of the castle inhabited by Alonzo; as she approached his chamber door, which opened on a gallery she could not avoid passing through, she started at finding it not closed; the night was sultry, and it had been left open to admit the air; Cava shrunk back, and with her sable dress entirely concealed her lamp. She saw Alonzo pace his chamber in agony; she heard his sighs; she heard her name repeated with tenderness, and almost despair; and, by the faint light in the chamber, she saw him throw himself on his couch, and heard him pray for blessings on her head, and peace to her mind. The princess was deeply affected; she trembled violently; and, supporting her exhausted frame against the wall, she was almost tempted to discover herself, and, by consenting to unite her destiny with his, put an end to the sufferings of this too dear and faithful lover. This, however, was only the weakness of a moment; soon virtue and delicacy resumed their empire in her uncontaminated heart; and finding that the prince had his face turned from the door, she softly glided past, and her light footstep returning no echo, she gained, unperceived, the flight of stairs that led to the lower part of the castle, through which she was obliged to pass to enter the chapel. Within the holy fabric she found the faithful Garcia; he was waiting for her at the new-made grave of her mother; and Cava, who before had not given him her undivided attention, was now shocked at beholding him so woe-begone; and looking more like a spectre than the handsome, animated, interesting Garcia she had once known him—she started as she surveyed him.
“Be not alarmed, lady,” he cried, “at my sad appearance; my mind, indeed, is sick; but, wretched as I am, I have will and strength to employ myself in what you may command: but wonder not at my appearance, and the sorrow that oppresses me; the miserable fate of Spain overpowers me; our holy religion is trodden under foot; the crescent vaunts that it has vanquished the cross; the Saracens are every where triumphant: your noble father has mistaken foes for friends; he will either be sacrificed to the ambition of those infidels, or his own remorse, for having assisted them to subdue his country, and trample on the Christian religion, will shorten his once glorious days.”
Cava groaned aloud; she covered her face with her hands; she was conscious that by her instigation, her father, to revenge her, had assisted in bringing such calamity on his country. “Oh!” cried she, “would I had been buried deep, deep in the earth, before I had seen this day! never will I repine at my own sufferings, but in sackcloth and ashes bewail those that through me, though unintentionally, have fallen on my unhappy country.”
She sat down on the grave of her mother; and her affliction was so extreme, that the sorrowing Garcia made use of every argument in his power to console her, by dressing the future in brighter colours than he could possibly believe it would ever wear. He then told her he must be ready at a moment to receive Alonzo’s orders, and quit Africa for Spain. “I must see count Julian wherever he is to be found, that I may make a faithful representation to him of the state of things; but before this,” cried Garcia, “he must have been informed of the numbers that, under the crafty Musa and the gallant Aleanzar, have entered Spain. I met them on my road; they landed some time since; but to what point they were to direct their course, was a secret I could not penetrate.”
Cava started from the ground. “Musa! Aleanzar!” she suddenly exclaimed; “are they so soon in Spain? Oh! my friend, my sweet Zamora, what is become of you? Why did I not remain with you? I might now, in a peaceful retirement, pour my sorrows into your sympathizing bosom.”
“I know not,” replied Garcia, “what females accompanied the Moors; I dared not to inquire; but this I know, that some princess, with a splendid retinue, was escorted by a large party of their warriors; but whether she belonged to Musa or not, I am still ignorant. But, lady,” cried Garcia, “I am impatient to know your orders; the night wears away, and I yet am unacquainted why you wished to meet me here. In three days I must return to Spain, and we may not be able, in that period, to converse without witnesses. Have you any thing to communicate privately to your noble father? I shall be the faithful bearer. My wife, my unhappy wife, with my infant son, is at Toledo; my heart can know no peace till I again behold them. I left them in apparent security, but whether they will be respected or not by these Moors, that profess a friendship for us, Heaven only knows!”
“Is Isabella at Toledo?” cried Cava; “have I still a friend there? take me with you—take me to Toledo; it is all I ask.”
Garcia started; he looked at her with amazement, and believed her senses were bewildered.
“I am not mad, Garcia,” she cried; “I ask you, I entreat you, to carry me with you from Africa, from this palace, from my father’s house, from him whom I love with the most perfect affection, from the good, the generous, the excellent Alonzo! Here,” cried she with quickness, drawing a paper from her bosom, “I cannot by words explain to you my reasons for acting as I do, but this paper will speak for me; this will shew you that no earthly power shall detain me here; that my determination is to revisit Spain, to find the good father Anselmo, whom I left at Toledo, and to place myself in some religious house, under the protection of that venerable man; the world shut out, and all its vanities, I shall subdue this rebel heart; I shall weep its past errors; and if I cannot recover lost peace of mind, I shall at least have nothing more to combat.”
This discourse astonished Garcia, and he endeavoured to set before the princess the dangers she was incurring, the difficulties she might encounter, the precarious state of things, and the fear that he had of count Julian’s disapprobation of such a step.
All his eloquence was of no avail: “You have sworn,” answered Cava, “to obey me, to grant any request I make you; will the noble Garcia withdraw his word? will he falsify the oath he has sworn on his sword?”
“Impossible!” cried Garcia. “I have sworn to obey you; I will blindly follow your lead; I will attend you to the extremity of the earth, though my better reason presents nothing but a fatal catastrophe to our undertakings.”
“Nothing can be so dreadful to me,” answered Cava, “as living the life of misery I now live; any change must be for the better; I am prepared for dangers, and perhaps they will not be ungrateful. Alas!” lifting her eyes to heaven, “the vengeance I have taken for my wrongs has fallen on the innocent, as well as the guilty, and my heart weeps drops of blood for their sufferings; the wretched Cava can never endure too much; may her sufferings expiate her offences!”
Here she paused, and was some minutes lost in prayer; and Garcia, respecting her sorrow and her devotion, stood in silence by her side.
At length, composure was restored to the princess, and she agreed with Garcia to leave the castle at the moment he did, and, under his protection, to embark for Spain. She informed him, as she wished to go into a religious house, she should carry with her jewels of value, and could easily conceal them in her dress; and she appointed the next night for him to visit her at the window of her apartment, that they might arrange every thing necessary for their departure. Cava informed him of the entrance from the garden to her chamber, of which Aleanzar had availed himself to carry her off, and which she now intended to turn to her own advantage. This passage, and the door that opened on it, the countess Julian had ordered to be walled up; but her illness had prevented her making any inquiries respecting it, and the matter had been forgotten. Cava now rejoiced in the neglect, which gave her the opportunity of gratifying her wishes; and Garcia, having seen her in safety to the foot of the great staircase, she took from him her lamp, and softly retrod the long and now dark passages that led to her part of the castle.
With slow and fearful steps, she passed Alonzo’s apartment; but the door was closed; no sound fell on her ear, for the amiable prince had retired to his couch, where, in broken slumbers, he passed the heavy night, unconscious of the near approach of her he loved, or how soon he was to lose the only comfort the world now afforded him, the daily view of that bright form that had fascinated every sense, and bound him with a chain of adamant.
Cava, a prey to sorrow, in vain courted repose. In three days she was to bid adieu to Africa for ever; she shuddered at the thought; yet she hoped, as the wretched are prone to do, some mitigation of her sorrows by a change of place. The morning dawned; she rose to regulate all for her departure; she explored the secret passage from her apartments to the castle gardens; she found it was not secured, and that she could have no difficulty in quitting the palace. “Alas!” sighed she, as she returned to her chamber, “am I then so anxious to relinquish for ever the sight of Alonzo! what will his feelings, his sufferings be, when he misses me! how will he accuse me of ingratitude! of the want of that tender, that perfect affection to which he has every claim! but I must fly; I dread myself.” Then pressing her hand upon her heart, as if to stop its palpitation, she added, “But this cannot be the case; I do my dear Alonzo injustice; he will love me, will applaud me, will value me the more for my conduct; he sees into this beating heart, this heart filled with his image, and responsive to the finest feelings of the most exalted affection.”
In these soliloquies the princess passed much of her time. She declined appearing publicly, on account of her recent loss; but could not always avoid the presence of Alonzo, who, under the cloak of business, was often admitted to her apartments.
At midnight, Garcia, attentive to his appointment, entered the castle gardens, and unperceived had a conversation with the princess, at the casement from whence she first discovered him on his arrival from Spain. She now informed him of the certainty she had of being able to quit the palace unknown to all its inhabitants, and she delivered to his care some valuables she could not so well secure about her person.
Garcia, fearing she might be recognised by the guard, or someone belonging to the castle, should she meet them in her flight dressed in her own habit, advised that of a pilgrim, which would the most effectually conceal her, both at the time of her quitting Africa, and in her journey through Spain.
Cava, who only desired to be unknown, and to appear neither to have rank or fortune, gladly entered into Garcia’s scheme, and gave him a commission to procure the dress he believed most suitable to her situation. The next night he was to bring it to her, as the night after was appointed for his departure. Cava’s attendants were now so accustomed to be dismissed, when it was possible for her to do without them, that they wondered not at receiving the strictest orders never to approach the apartments sacred to her use, but when she gave the signal.
They indeed lamented that their charming mistress indulged a melancholy that was undermining her health; but they implicitly obeyed her, for her angelic disposition, and charming manners, had secured their love.
At length the evening came that was to be her last in the palace of her father: with sadness and anxiety she saw its approach, and, as the twilight came on, she had seated herself at the balcony that looked on the gardens of the castle, listening to Philomel, “sweet minstrel of the night!”
Fixing her lovely eyes on that resplendent heaven where she wished to be, she contemplated, in his wonderful works, that Almighty Power, “whose stars unnumber’d gild the glowing pole.” Her heart was filled with reverence and admiration of that Divine Eternal Being, who had formed so beautiful, so magnificent a world. “How wonderful!” she exclaimed, “how incomprehensible! how perfect must thou be, Almighty Lord! thy great word said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. Who could form that silver lamp of night, now rising in sober majesty to gild with chequered light and shade these beauteous scenes, but thou, Almighty Power!” Then musing, she added, “But we, sinful and erring mortals, we blast thy fair creation with foul deeds, and this paradise, the world, is changed to a loathsome prison by the crimes of man. Yet, imperfect mortals as we are, all are not vile in thy sight; the innocent may look with transport to that heaven on which I now gaze; may hope, as I do, at no distant day, to “flit a cherub through the fields of air.”
Here, clasping her hands together, she remained long in fervent prayer, and returning peace spread her balmy influence over her mind. Her reflections were at length interrupted by a gentle knock on the door of her apartment, and in a moment Alonzo was at her side. She had almost wished not to behold him again, to have spared herself the misery of seeing him for the last time; but she had not now the power to bid him leave her. The tremor his presence occasioned nailed her to her seat, and she could scarcely make an inclination of her head as he approached. With tenderness he placed himself at her side, and gently chid her for giving way to excessive and solitary grief. Her eyes were turned from him; their silken lashes were wet with tears.
“Permit me, at least, my beloved Cava,” cried the prince, “to share in your sorrows; think it not too great an indulgence to suffer me to weep with you. I live but in you; I will fly to the extremity of the earth to gratify you. Impose any sufferings, any hardships, on your Alonzo; he will endure them with delight, only to behold that charming countenance resume its enchanting smiles, its former happy look.”
Cava turned from him; she spread her hand across her brows to conceal her flowing tears; but the moon emerging from a passing cloud, which for some minutes had obscured it, shewed to Alonzo Cava’s fair face, as pale and lovely as her own.
The silence of the princess, her tears, the pallid hue of her cheek, alarmed him; an unknown terror seized his mind; he fancied he was going to be deprived of her, though he knew not by what means. He started from his seat, and throwing himself at her feet, he cried, “Oh Cava! do not torture me thus; have pity on my feelings; bestow yourself as your departed mother wished; as count Julian, your noble father, has long since bestowed you. Give me at the altar this dear, this plighted hand, and life will be too short for me to shew my gratitude: if you continue obdurate, life will indeed be short. Remember, Cava, without you it has no value; and if I do not lose it in a field of battle, other means cannot be wanting to put a period to my misery.”
The princess turned to him; she withdrew not her hand; her mild eye met his, and with a voice full of tenderness she said, “What do I hear? is it the prince Alonzo, a Christian, and one on whom the hopes of Spain rests, that speaks thus? that threatens to destroy that existence over which he has no right, because he cannot fly from private misfortune? because fate has stept between him and the woman he loves? Alas! Alonzo, who has a claim to the greatest share of pity, you, or the unfortunate that now addresses you? You well know, Alonzo, that you only reign in my heart; in that heart possessed of all the finest feelings of my sex; those very feelings, the affection I have for you, points out the path I ought to follow, tells me I should never wed you. Start not back; look not so displeased at what I have said; let a woman, and a weak one, teach you to submit with humility to your lot. Alonzo, such happiness as ours might have been, is not, perhaps, made for mortals; had we found it, it would have been “brief as a meteor, short as any dream.” Be comforted, Alonzo; we have loved well, and if it is given us in a future state to remember this, we shall love for ever.”
Here she paused and wept. Alonzo pressed her hand to his bosom, to his lips, and in vain, used every argument to win her consent to their union. A little composed, she besought him to take on himself the administration of her father’s government, till he should hear from the count, whose doubtful fate filled them both with terror.
Some hours having passed in this interesting conversation, Cava intimated to the prince that it was time to part. Her lips quivered; her whole frame shook. Hoping some more favourable hour to urge his suit, he consented to leave her. He was to give Garcia his dispatches for Spain; yet still he lingered. Cava’s eyes were fixed upon his face in mournful silence; the combat in her mind was severe, but her great heart conquered. She arose, she pointed to the door; he seized her hand, he imprinted a thousand kisses on it; he pressed it in his. She returned the pressure, but still pointed to the door. He reached it, lingering at every step. Unconsciously she followed him to the outer apartment; her heart was bursting—“Farewell,” she cried, “and believe, Alonzo, that you only fill the whole soul of Cava.”
The prince was exhilarated; he gave her a look of the most perfect satisfaction, and quitted her in the hope that to-morrow she would lend a favourable ear to his love.
mortals blind to fate!
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate.”
ALONZO repaired to the hall, where he had ordered Garcia to attend him, and to attend him alone. All that they thought on the war was communicated to each other; they both lamented the fate of Spain, and foresaw that count Julian, if he still lived, would deeply repent the part he had taken.
Garcia informed the prince that don Palayo had retired, with those Spaniards attached to him (and with numbers who admired his courage and patriotism), into the Asturias; that report said he was strengthening himself, and securing the passes of the country against the Moors, with whom he would have no league; but Garcia could only speak vaguely; what he detailed was from report.
“Heaven grant it may be true!” replied Alonzo. “Nothing, should it be so, shall prevent my joining that brave warrior, not even count Julian, who, if he still lives, I shall endeavour to disunite from those infidels. Good Garcia! assist me in so laudable an undertaking; we may yet drive the Moors from our unhappy country, from our beloved Spain.”
“Would it could be so! but alas! my prince, this is more than I expect; what exertions can a nation make that is sunk in sloth and vice? that is poor, disunited, and weak?”
As Garcia drew this picture, Alonzo sighed over the misery of his country; his gallant spirit revolted at submission to the infidels, and he determined that his fortune and future life should be devoted to the land of his birth.
Garcia, instructed in every thing that count Julian ought to know, took his leave. It was late, and Alonzo retired to meditate on the fate of Spain, and how he might help to heal its bleeding wounds.
When the prince left the apartments of Cava, when he had closed the door, when he was shut from her sight, a stupor seized her senses; she sunk in agony on the seat from which she had just risen, and perfect insensibility must have ensued, had not the night air, which blew fresh from the gardens, revived her almost lifeless frame. Recovering herself—“It is past,” she cried; “I have now suffered the bitterest pang I can ever endure.”
Her troubled mind then dwelt on what Alonzo would think of her, when he found she had at night secretly quitted the palace, and with Garcia, a young and noble warrior. “He may,” thought she, “suspect my conduct. Neither his reliance on me, nor his violent love, may be able to secure his mind from jealousy: it must be my task to clear my fame, to force him to approve all I do, though it militates against his wishes.”
There was no time to lose; Garcia would be at the garden-gate in an hour, and she must be prepared to follow him the moment he appeared. She heard from the balcony the mariners from the beach, who were making the galley ready for the departure of Garcia. She heard the dashing of the oars, and the whistle of the sea-boy to call his companions on board. She looked round her apartment; her eye rested on the inanimate objects that furnished it, that had so long been useful to her. She felt a pang at her heart in taking a last look, and she almost regretted them as friends she was about to lose for ever. But rousing herself from this state of languor, she called to her women for a light, and immediately dismissed them for the night. Then placing her lamp upon a table, she spread paper before her, and in a letter to Alonzo, poured out her whole soul. She deceived him in nothing; her plans, her sorrow, her regrets, her affection, her grief at quitting him for ever, and that in a clandestine manner, was laid before him; and her language impressed the seal of truth on all she said.
Having blotted her letter with her tears, having repeatedly bidden him adieu, and exhorted him to patience, she folded, sealed, and left her epistle on the table where she had written it. She then assumed the habit Garcia had procured for her. The dark folds of her pilgrim’s cloak concealed the symmetry of her person, but it could not hide the majesty of her form; the staff had a peculiar grace as she used it; and the large hat, under which she tucked the abundance of her beautiful dark hair, only served to shew her angel face to more advantage: thin and pale, she was not haggard; youth still shone with all its graces; the fire of her eye was lost, but it was replaced by a look so interesting, of humility, of piety, of melancholy, that, on beholding her, a feeling heart could scarcely refrain from tears; for in visible characters was written on the lovely form, that she was fast hastening to the world of spirits.
The signal from Garcia was heard by Cava; she looked from the balcony, to be certain it was her friend; then casting a despairing look on every surrounding object, and heaving deep sighs, she hurried down the secret staircase, and through the dark passage, to the garden-door.
In silence Garcia drew her trembling arm through his, and with soft steps traversed a walk shaded by stately trees, which opened at some distance from the bay. Cava shook in every limb, her heart grew faint, and she could scarcely proceed. Garcia gazed on her with pity. The moon, whose light was at the full, and whose beams sometimes pierced where the thin foliage would admit them, shewed her distress and agitation to the kind Garcia. He stopped, he entreated her to return, and used many arguments to persuade her she was unfit for so arduous an undertaking.
Roused by the fear of being left behind, she refused to listen to the arguments of her friend; urged him on, and proceeded herself with apparently more firmness of mind, and strength of body. They shortly approached the little port where Garcia’s galley was moored: it was the dead of the night,
“No breath of wind disturb’d the deep serene,
Night cast her mantle o’er the solemn scene.”
All was silence and repose, except on board the vessel, where the sailors, who were in momentary expectation of their commander, were preparing to lift the anchor, and unfurl the sails. Soon the sad Cava, assisted by Garcia, mounted the side of the galley, where he seated her in the spot he believed would be most pleasing to her, and where he had procured her every accommodation in his power. Shortly the vessel was under way, and as the morning broke, the shores of Africa lessened on her sight. The towers of count Julian’s palace were often lost to her view, as tall forests or rocks intervened; then suddenly came in sight, as the galley tacked.
Cava fixed a steady look on the palace; her tearful eye sought that quarter appointed for the residence of Alonzo; nor did she fail to cast her mournful glances towards the sacred spot where the mouldering remains of her beloved mother lay. The chapel was marked by the tall forest that rose above it, and the spire that, with its golden cross, glittered through the trees, and shone bright in the first beams of the morning sun.
The melancholy satisfaction the princess enjoyed lasted not long; a strong gale sprung up, and carried the galley with rapidity towards the Straits. The palace of her father, the surrounding country, was lost to her sight:
“The ocean roll’d, and mountains rose between.”
Cava wept. “Farewell!” she cried, “dear Africa, farewell! your beautiful, your perfumed shores, farewell for ever! yet will you for ever be impressed on the heart of Cava. Memory, while she exists, will dwell on those happy years (ere she inhabited the court of Toledo) when her infant steps, delighted, wandered through your spicy groves, and inhaled cheerfulness and pleasure from each balmy breeze. Farewell, ashes of my fond, my adored mother! how gladly would your child be laid at peace near your hallowed remains!”
Here Cava was silent; a fixed melancholy subdued almost the powers of speech, and she ventured not to pronounce Alonzo’s name.
But for a little while, we must leave the princess to her unconquerable grief, and the care of the good Garcia, and, returning with the morning to Africa, and the palace of count Julian, inquire what is now passing in that once happy residence: gloomy and desolate, its walls no longer resounded to the voice of joy: count Julian had abandoned it for a field of slaughter—the excellent countess was numbered with the dead—all hearts gave a sigh to her memory—every countenance expressed sorrow for the past, and dread of future events.
At an early hour, Alonzo arose from his couch, anxious to shew his duty to count Julian, by paying the utmost attention to the affairs of his government. He shook off all the sloth that often oppresses him whose heart is so tenderly attached as was Alonzo’s. But this young prince had a superior soul; though in the first bloom of life, beautiful, and bred in courts, he was wise, disinterested, and humble—proud only in doing right; conscious whenever he had acted wrong, he was not ashamed to acknowledge his errors: one now fell with insupportable weight upon his mind; it was his ever having joined count Julian in the war he made on his own country. He felt that the ardour of youth had drawn him into the snare; led on by love and revenge, he thought only of the destruction of the detestable Rodrigo; he saw not that he was assisting to forge the fetters of the Spaniards, and subject them to the tyranny of the Saracens—of infidels, at whose religion his soul recoiled; and from whom the Christians, once in their power, could have little hope of mercy. Some enlightened and feeling hearts might exist amongst the Moors, but they were few in number, and could have little influence with their nation, constant and professed enemies of the Christians.
Pondering all this in his mind, condemning himself for the past, and anxious to repair his errors, the prince, deeply musing, was, at the rising of the sun, pacing a long gallery that run parallel with his chamber, and looked towards the sea that divides Africa from Spain. What he had heard from Garcia of the conduct of the brave Palayo charmed him; he trod with a firmer step—his bosom swelled with ardour; and casting his fine expressive eyes to heaven, he prayed that the glory might be his to withdraw count Julian from his connexion with the Moors; and, by flying to the assistance of don Palayo, rid Spain of the hated Saracens. Alonzo’s soul was incapable of the base passion of envy; but his admiration of don Palayo’s patriotism and valour rose to such a height, that he deeply regretted that fate had not allowed him to tread the same path of glory. Casting his eyes towards the sea, and beholding Garcia’s galley like a speck upon the ocean (for it was now visible only at the extremity of the horizon) he ardently wished himself on board, that he might the sooner put his project in execution. “But can I,” said he to himself, “can I quit my post, till I appoint some trusty servant of the count’s to take the charge of his government? Can I quit this spot till I leave my soul’s treasure in perfect security, or persuade her to give me a legal title to carry her with me to Spain?” Again his eyes rested on the ship, nearly lost in the morning mist that rose on the horizon; he stopped—he gazed intently; while the smallest trace of the vessel was discernible, he could not withdraw his eye: something spoke to his heart; a secret voice seemed to say—“With yonder galley departs Alonzo’s happiness—his hopes; from this hour, cares, trials, sorrows, await his steps.”
The prince angry with himself for these gloomy ideas, endeavoured to shake off the weakness that overpowered him. He turned his thoughts to Cava; he hoped in a few hours to find her more composed than she had been since the death of the countess. The morning promised a glorious day; he flattered himself he should persuade her to quit her retirement, to breathe a purer air in a pavilion he had ordered to be erected, in a delicious spot in the grounds, beneath the shade of palm trees, and surrounded by odoriferous shrubs; here he hoped she would admit some faithful friends to see her, and would not reject his endeavours to soften her affliction. As he quitted her apartment on the preceding night, a ray of hope shot across his mind; Cava had never shewn him more tenderness—had never more fully disclosed the feelings of her heart. Convinced that there he reigned with undivided empire, he still hoped to conquer her determination of flying from the world, and from him. Love conquers all—and he hoped all from love.
As he thus mused, traversed the gallery, and built a thousand airy castles, which a breath could shake from their foundations, he was accosted by one of his officers, who informed him don Juan was arrived from Spain, and wished to be introduced. The brave don Juan, one of the nobles belonging to the court of Toledo, and strongly attached to his house, was always welcome to Alonzo. He heard of his arrival with pleasure, and hastened to meet him; the interval had been long and dreadful since these friends met (for they had been friends at Toledo, though don Juan was many years the senior of Alonzo.)
After the first warm effusions of friendship, the prince earnestly inquired the news from Spain. “Alas!” cried don Juan, “the news is horrible—is deadly to the ear of a Christian; count Julian has destroyed Spain, and has rendered himself infamous to all eternity!”
Alonzo started—he bit his lips—his cheek grew red and pale by turns. He felt the guilt of the count, but he was the husband of his beloved aunt—the father of his adored Cava: he had also been the friend, the protector of his youth; and he could not endure to hear the curses that Spain loaded him with, or the detestation he was held in by all good men.
Don Juan perceived that agitation of the prince without surprise; he pitied and respected his feelings, but he could not violate truth. “I am come,” he said, “if possible, to draw you, Alonzo, from this infamous league. Oh! could you,” he added with vehemence, “could you be a witness as I have been, to the miseries that Spain has lately endured, your heart would weep blood. The gallant, the patriotic Palayo, has retired into the north, in the hope of a more favourable opportunity of relieving his enslaved country—that miserable country has fallen a prey to pestilence and famine, as well as war. The people, however, though sinking under those dreadful scourges, have revived from time to time from their torpor, and taken to arms, but without success; the vices and *debaucheries into which they had plunged before the introduction of the infidels, had debilitated them, and greatly extinguished their ancient valour. The victorious Saracens think only of profiting by their conquests; there is no species of cruelty they do not exercise over the vanquished, they let loose on them the fury of an unbridled soldiery; they spare neither sex, nor age, nor condition; and in my opinion, the least unfortunate of the Spaniards are those that have fallen beneath the swords of the Saracens.”
This was a dreadful picture: Alonzo shuddered at what he heard, and his hand involuntarily sought his sword.
“This is not all, my friend,” cried don Juan; “after the battle of Xeres, many of the troops took refuge in the city of Eriga; it was well fortified; the inhabitants joined the soldiers—they encouraged each other, and endeavoured to stop the fury of the Saracens. They nobly took the resolution to save Spain at the risk of their own lives; they also burnt with an ardent desire to revenge the injuries they had received: soldiers and inhabitants, without considering their own weakness, and the strength of their enemy, had the boldness to leave their walls, and in the open country attack their vanquishers, who were then pursuing the remainder of the defeated Goths; but, alas! this second attempt was as unfortunate as the first had been; their valour could not save them; they fled in every direction; their city could no longer resist; and the cruel Moors razed it to the ground. In all things Tariff followed the counsel of the infamous count Julian, who, without remorse, sacrificed his country to his ambition and revenge.”
“Not without remorse,” murmured Alonzo, not attending to, or not wishing to contradict his assertion: don Juan, taking no notice of it, proceeded thus:—“The Moorish army divided into two parts; the infamous renegado, Magnand, who had trampled on the cross, and embraced the religion of Mahomet, took the road to Cordova; this city was abandoned by part of its inhabitants, who sought safety at Toledo. Its warriors still remained; but how often do the virtuous fall through the treachery and deceit of their fellow-mortals! A shepherd, influenced by the hope of gain, sought the tent of the renegado general, and discovered to him an opening in the wall of the town, near the bridge, through which it was easy for a man to pass. The renegado, availing himself of the shepherd’s treason, and having made choice of his bravest soldiers, he ordered them to advance with silence and caution during the night; when, favoured by the darkness, they murdered the sentinels, and making their way suddenly into the town, soon became its masters. The governor, seeing himself betrayed and surprised, retired with a band of heroes into the church of St. George, where he defended himself and his friends for many weeks, with a heroism and courage beyond all praise. He sustained repeated assaults; and at length, having lost the greatest part of his men, and no longer able to maintain his situation, he resolved to cut a passage through the foe; during the night this brave man was surprised, and fell into the power of the Moors, who forced the church, and put all that remained to the sword. This, my prince, is a faint picture of the sufferings of Spain. The whole country flies before the Moors; or the unfortunate Christians sink into slaves, to preserve their own lives, and those most dear to them. The Saracens pour in at every port: Musa has landed with his troops; what his intentions are is at present unknown: some say he is jealous of Tariff; but of what avail will that be to our unhappy country? the two generals are crafty; they will dissemble their hatred till they have entirely subdued the Christians, and peace will be cemented between them by their blood, and a division of their spoils. Yet still, Alonzo, there is hope; still the gallant Palayo is unconquered.”
“Let us haste then to succour him,” cried Alonzo; “my heart pants to wipe out my errors—to follow Palayo in the path of glory—to save Spain, or die in the attempt. But where is count Julian?” asked Alonzo; “can we not draw him from his vile associates? Many will still follow his standard; and my last interview assured me that his conduct sat heavy on his heart, and that his secret wish was to disentangle himself from the Moors.”
“Think not of him, my friend, I beseech you,” returned don Juan; “he is lost to us for ever; it would be fatal to trust him; his ferocious spirit has the qualities of a demon; he would betray you, Alonzo; he would sacrifice you to his new friends. But I foresee they will not long be his friends; his gloomy and perturbed spirit seeks to be alone; he ponders for days in silence over the mischief he has brought upon his country; his looks and gestures are terrible—they fright the stoutest; and he often spends whole days in wandering frantically over the desolated country. Tariff, it is said, watches his steps; and through policy courts his society, and endeavours to gratify his wishes.”
Don Juan ceased; he had given Alonzo all the information in his power to give: the hearts of both were wrung with sorrow for the woes of their miserable country. Either would willingly have shed the last drop of his blood to restore it to its pristine grandeur—to snatch it from the grasp of its infidel conquerors.
The friends now retired to Alonzo’s apartment, where they could freely and securely converse on so interesting a subject: their morning repast was scarcely touched, in their eagerness to strike out some plan for the recovery of Spain, and forcing the Moors to relinquish their late conquests. They saw the insurmountable barriers that opposed themselves to their most sanguine wishes; and were fully convinced, that it is easier to overturn a state, than, when once overturned, to restore it to its former splendour: yet to their ardent minds, even the difficulties that opposed their plans were an incitement to pursue them; and the two warriors came to the determination of entering Spain together, attaching as many as they could safely trust to their standard, and seeking and the brave Palayo in the Asturias.
Alonzo’s heart sunk at the idea of quitting Cava—of leaving her in Africa, should she refuse to accompany him into Spain as his wife. He hoped to soften her in his favour; but he felt it would be a work of time, and at the present moment the calls of honour, and of his bleeding country, were imperious, and must be attended to.
How did he lament count Julian! he grieved to see one so nearly allied it him, and the father of Cava, so lost—so fallen in the world’s opinion—such a disgrace to Spain, and to the true religion: and he now acknowledged that Heaven had been kind to the countess Julian, in removing her from a world that in future must have been a miserable one to her.
Alonzo and don Juan had spent many hours together in adjusting their plans, and the day was past the meridian, when the prince, as he was accustomed to do, went to the outer apartment of those occupied by the princess, in order to inquire how she had passed the night. Her women, who were in waiting, said—“She had not yet given the signal for their attendance; and her orders were, never to be disturbed.” Alonzo waited impatiently for some time, and no signal being made, he supposed she had had a sleepless night, and was now taking some repose. He then wandered to the gardens beneath her window, and raising his eyes to her apartment, found the lattices were all open: for a long time he walked beneath, believing Cava would soon make her appearance, and considering how he should inform her of his determination to join the army of don Palayo. He dreaded speaking to her of her father; for how would it harrow up her soul to hear don Juan’s account of his state of mind! “Yet,” said Alonzo, mentally, “she must know it; she has now no other protector but unhappy me, and I must make use of every gentle method to influence her to accept me as her husband.”
Thus occupied by his own thoughts, Alonzo several times passed and repassed the unclosed door that opened on the private staircase to the apartments of Cava; at last, looking towards it, he perceived it was open; and a sudden horror came over him. He remembered the use that Aleanzar had made of this entrance; and it rushed upon his mind that the Moor might again have carried off his soul’s treasure—his adored Cava.
He pushed the door back with violence, flew up the winding staircase, and rushed wildly into the apartment, for the concealed door was now wide open, and a curtain drawn back which hung before it on the inside of the room; not a soul was visible; he looked round; some articles of female dress remained in the apartment; a black veil, he knew to be Cava’s, lay on the floor; at sight of it he was overcome; he supposed she had been forced away, and he leaned against the wall for support; then recollecting that where he was was not the chamber in which she slept, and fearing, was she still within the palace, he might offend by entering the private apartment, he called her aloud by name, beseeching her to answer him, if she still remained in her chamber.
No sound was returned—he called again—a deathlike silence prevailed. The prince could no longer support the agitation of his mind—it bordered on frenzy; he darted towards the chamber door—he opened it—the room was splendid with the rays of the sun—it was visible no one had occupied it during the night—Cava was not there. Alonzo called loudly on her attendants—they entered amazed. Her women could only repeat the same story, that when they left her the preceding night, she had desired not to be intruded on till she chose to summon them. Alonzo ordered instant search to be made through the castle gardens, and flew himself to examine every entrance. All the gates were locked as usual, and no trace of the fugitive any where visible; and Alonzo returned to the apartment of the princess, again to examine it, and again to question her women, for he could not believe she could disappear unknown to a human being within the walls of the castle: on casting his eyes round the room in which he had had his last conversation with Cava, he perceived her letter on a writing-table, and eagerly snatching it from where it lay, he was soon informed of the manner of her departure; her reasons for it; and her fixed determination of retiring from the world.
At first Alonzo gave the reins to his passions; his rage for some moments was unbounded; and he almost swore to forget one so little sensible to his love, and the sacrifices he was always ready to make her. “Ungrateful woman!” he cried, “you have no heart; none for either love or pity: you will know how my soul doats on you, and you can coolly resolve to abandon me to misery—to bid me an eternal adieu! quit me, since you so earnestly desire it; remember no more our early years of happiness; you deceived yourself and me, if you thought you loved me. Cruel, obdurate girl! you will not shed one tear when you hear the unfortunate Alonzo is no more.”
Here he threw himself in agony on a seat; and pressing the unfolded letter, which he still held in his hand, close to his eyes, as if to shut out light and thought at the same time, he burst into a flood of tears. His rage abated; love, tenderness, pity, for the dear unhappy Cava, again entwined his heart; he still held her fatal epistle in his hand; he thought it a cruel one, yet it was writing; and he pressed it to his lips: he dashed the tears from his eyes—he once more perused a scroll so fatal to his hopes. Alas! he thought, how could his passions blind him as they had done! never was a letter written containing more pure, more delicate, more perfect love: it was written in the agony of her heart; the struggle she had had, the violence she did her dearest affections—her fondest hopes, was visible in every line. It was easier for the soul to part from the body, than for Cava to bid a last adieu to Alonzo. Relinquishing him, she relinquished all she prized on earth; and when she turned her back on the castle of her father—when she hoped no more to look on the countenance of her Alonzo—that earth was become a dreary wilderness, and she had only to hope her sojourn might be short. A hundred times he perused the letter; he now dwelt with sad pleasure on every line, on every fond expression; he shed over it a deluge of tears; and he admired, idolized her, for that very conduct which caused his wretchedness.
Violent passions, when they subside, leave both mind and body enervated. Alonzo fell into a settled melancholy, from which his friend don Juan endeavoured in vain to rouse him. He wandered through every apartment of the castle, lamenting his unhappy fate, and the miseries which had long attended his unfortunate house.
Don Juan wisely watched for the moment he could rouse him to action; he pointed out to him the glory that surrounded don Palayo; the blessings that followed him; the adoration he met with from his countrymen; and he besought him, at least for a time, to forget his unfortunate love; to lay aside his private sorrows, and turn his thoughts to the succour of the oppressed Christians.
“To be of use to them, to die in their cause, is my dearest wish,” replied Alonzo; “but to root up love, to lose for one moment the remembrance of my Cava, is beyond my power—is foreign to all the feelings of my soul. No, don Juan the grave only can blot her from my remembrance; while memory lasts, that angelic form must be present to my imagination—she must mix with all my ideas—while this heart beats, must throb in every pulse.”
Long and painful were Alonzo’s struggles to conquer himself; sometimes he determined to pursue Cava, and force her at least to remain in her father’s palace. If she would not give him her hand, he vainly flattered himself, that living under the same roof as brother and sister, they might be happy. Foolish thought! where, beneath the wide canopy of heaven—where, through the vast extent of earth, can there be found a substitute for fond, chaste, wedded love?
The prince’s heart answered him—none, none; and his resolution was soon taken to leave his Cava the liberty she wished: his greatest consolation was the knowledge that she was accompanied by the worthy Garcia, who was devoted to her family, and would watch over her with the tenderness of a brother.
His determination was now taken to quit Africa; first to seek count Julian, and, if possible, detach him from the Moors, and then join don Palayo. He could pass unsuspected through the heart of Spain; he sighed, and a glow of shame overspread his countenance, when he reflected that this privilege was gained by having followed the standard of the Saracens. “How must I now,” cried he, “conceal my real feelings! my altered mind I must even dissemble to regain my honour; yet, I take Heaven to witness, it was not against my country, but against her tyrant, that I raised my sword; willingly will I wash out my stains with my blood; and from this hour I devote myself to Spain.”
Notwithstanding it was Alonzo’s earnest wish to quit Africa, it was many months before he could accomplish his purpose. He was long busy in regulating count Julian’s government, which had suffered some neglect during his absence; seeing it, by his endeavours, in the state he desired, he placed it in the hands of a man of tried faith and abilities, and also an attached friend of the count’s. The castle and private domains were given in charge to the most trusty of the domestics belonging to the count and countess; and the prince Alonzo at last fixed the day with don Juan for their return to Spain. He supplied himself with what treasure he could command, and accompanied by a small bank of faithful soldiers, and a few domestics, the friends at sunset entered a light vessel, which, with a fair breeze, landed them safely before morning on the coast of Andalusia.
END OF VOL. II.
Lane, Darling, & Co. Leadenhall-Street.
* A truth recorded in history.