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thing white at a window. Alas, it was only the night-cap of the padre. “Never was lover more devoted; never damsel more shy : the poor student was reduced to despair. At length arrived the eve of St. John, when the lower classes of Granada swarm into the country, dance away the afternoon, and pass midsummer's night on the banks of the Darro and the Xenil. Happy are they who on this eventful night can wash their faces in those waters just as the cathedral bell tells midnight; for at that precise moment they have a beautifying power. The student, having nothing to do, suffered himself to be carried away by the holiday-seeking throng until he found himself in the narrow valley of the Darro, below the lofty hill and ruddy towers of the Alhambra. The dry bed of the river; the rocks which border it; the terraced gardens which overhang it, were alive with variegated groups, dancing under the vines and fig-trees to the sound of the guitar and castanets. “The student remained for some time in doleful dumps, leaning against one of the huge misshapen stone pomegranates which adorn the ends of the little bridge over the Darro. He cast a wistful glance upon the merry scene, where every cavalier had his dame; or, to speak more appropriately, every Jack his Jill ; sighed at his
272 WASHINGTON, IRVING.
own solitary state, a victim to the black eye of
“‘And for three centuries have I been mounting guard. Now I trust my tour of duty draws to a close. Dost thou desire fortune?” “The student held up his tattered cloak in reply. “‘I understand thee. If thou hast faith and courage, follow me, and thy fortune is made.” “Softly, comrade, to follow thee would require small courage in one who has nothing to lose but life and an old guitar, neither of much value; but my faith is of a different matter, and not to be put in temptation. If it be any criminal act by which I am to mend my fortune, think not my ragged cloak will make me undertake it.’ “The soldier turned on him a look of high displeasure. ‘My sword,” said he, “has never been drawn but in the cause of the faith and the throne. I am a Cristiano viejo; trust in me and fear no evil.” “The student followed him wondering. He observed that no one heeded their conversation, and that the soldier made his way through the various groups of idlers unnoticed, as if invisible. “Crossing the bridge, the soldier led the way by a narrow and steep path past a Moorish mill and aqueduct, and up the ravine which separates the domains of the Generalife from those of the Alhambra. The last ray of the sun shone upon
the red battlements of the latter, which beetled far above; and the convent-bells were proclaiming the festival of the ensuing day. The ravine was overshadowed by fig-trees, vines, and myrtles, and the outer towers and walls of the fortress. It was dark and lonely, and the twilightloving bats began to flit about. At length the soldier halted at a remote and ruined tower apparently intended to guard a Moorish aqueduct. He struck the foundation with the butt-end of his spear. A rumbling sound was heard, and the solid stones yawned apart, leaving an opening as wide as a door. “‘Enter in the name of the Holy Trinity, said the soldier, “and fear nothing.' The student's heart quaked, but he made the sign of the cross, muttered his Ave Maria, and followed his mysterious guide into a deep vault cut out of the solid rock under the tower, and covered with Arabic inscriptions. The soldier pointed to a stone seat hewn along one side of the vault. ‘Behold,” said he, “my couch for three hundred years.’ The bewildered student tried to force a joke. ‘By the blessed St. Anthony,' said he, “but you must have slept soundly, considering the hardness of your couch.” “‘On the contrary, sleep has been a stranger to these eyes; incessant watchfulness has been my doom. Listen to my lot. I was Óne of the royal guards of Ferdinand and Isabella; but
was taken prisoner by the Moors in one of their