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brought off as trophies of the victory. Not a Christian lance but was bathed that day in the blood of an infidel. “Such was the brief but bloody action which was known among the Christian warriors by the name of “The Queen's Skirmish; ” for when the Marques of Cadiz waited upon her majesty to apologize for breaking her commands, he attributed the victory entirely to her presence. The queen, however, insisted that it was all owing to her troops being led on by so valiant a commander. Her majesty had not yet recovered from her agitation at beholding so terrible a scene of bloodshed, though certain veterans present pronounced it as gay and gentle a skirmish as they had ever witnessed.” The charm of “The Alhambra” is largely in the leisurely, loitering, dreamy spirit in which the temporary American resident of the ancient palace-fortress entered into its mouldering beauties and romantic associations, and in the artistic skill with which he wove the commonplace daily life of his attendants there into the more brilliant woof of its past. The book abounds in delightful legends, and yet these are all so touched with the author's airy humor that our credulity is never overtaxed; we imbibe all the romantic interest of the place without for a moment losing our hold upon reality. The enchantments of this Moorish paradise become part of our mental possessions, without the least shock to our common sense. After a few days of residence in the part of the Alhambra occupied by Dame Tia Antonia and her family, of which the handmaid Dolores was the most fascinating member, Irving succeeded in establishing himself in a remote and vacant part of the vast pile, in a suite of delicate and elegant chambers, with secluded gardens and fountains, that had once been occupied by the beautiful Elizabeth of Farnese, daughter of the Duke of Parma, and more than four centuries ago by a Moorish beauty named Lindaraxa, who flourished in the court of Muhamed the Left-Handed. These solitary and ruined chambers had their own terrors and enchantments, and for the first nights gave the author little but sinister suggestions and grotesque food for his imagination. But familiarity dispersed the gloom and the superstitious fancies. “In the course of a few evenings a thorough change took place in the scene and its associations. The moon, which when I took possession of my new apartments was invisible, gradually gained each evening upon the darkness of the night, and at length rolled in full splendor above the towers, pouring a flood of tempered light into every court and hall. The garden beneath my window, before wrapped in gloom, was gently lighted up ; the orange and citron trees were tipped with silver; the fountain sparkled in the moonbeams, and even the blush of the rose was faintly visible. “I now felt the poetic merit of the Arabic inscription on the walls, : “How beauteous is this garden; where the flowers of the earth vie with the stars of heaven. What can compare with the vase of yon alabaster fountain filled with crystal water? nothing but the moon in her fullness, shining in the midst of an unclouded sky 1’ “On such heavenly nights I would sit for hours at my window inhaling the sweetness of the garden, and musing on the checkered fortunes of those whose history was dimly shadowed out in the elegant memorials around. Sometimes, when all was quiet, and the clock from the distant cathedral of Granada struck the midnight hour, I have sallied out on another tour and wandered over the whole building; but how different from
254 WASHINGTON, IRVING.
my first tour! No longer dark and mysterious;
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Sierra Nevada, robbed of their ruggedness and softened into a fairy land, with their snowy summits gleaming like silver clouds against the deep blue sky. And then to lean over the parapet of the Tocador and gaze down upon Granada and the Albaycin spread out like a map below ; all buried in deep repose; the white palaces and convents sleeping in the moonshine, and beyond all these the vapory vega fading away like a dreamland in the distance. “Sometimes the faint click of castanets rise from the Alameda, where some gay Andalusians are dancing away the summer night. Sometimes the dubious tones of a guitar and the notes of an amorous voice, tell perchance the whereabout of some moonstruck lover serenading his lady's window. “Such is a faint picture of the moonlight nights I have passed loitering about the courts and halls and balconies of this most suggestive pile; ‘feeding my fancy with sugared suppositions,’ and enjoying that mixture of reverie and sensation which steal away existence in a southern climate ; so that it has been almost morning before I have retired to bed, and been lulled to sleep by the falling waters of the fountain of Lindaraxa.”
One of the writer's vantage points of observation was a balcony of the central win