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exorcism was performed in due style. The damsel advanced and touched the locks of the coffer with the seal of Solomon. The lid flew open; and such treasures of gold and jewels and precious stones as flashed upon the eye!
the last Timsel
“. Here's cut and come again !' cried the student, exultingly, as he proceeded to cram his pockets.
6. Fairly and softly,' exclaimed the soldier. • Let us get the coffer out entire, and then divide.'
“They accordingly went to work with might and main; but it was a difficult task ; the chest was enormously heavy, and had been imbedded there for centuries. While they were thus em. ployed the good dominie drew on one side and made a vigorous onslaught on the basket, by way of exorcising the demon of hunger which was raging in his entrails. In a little while a fat capon was devoured, and washed down by a deep potation of Val de peñas; and, by way of grace after meat, he gave a kind-hearted kiss to the pet-lamb who waited on him. It was quietly done in a corner, but the tell-tale walls babbled it forth as if in triumph. Never was chaste salute more awful in its effects. At the sound the soldier gave a great cry of despair ; the coffer, which was half raised, fell back in its place and was locked once more. Priest, student, and damsel found them
on the and the
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selves outside of the tower, the wall of which closed with a thundering jar. Alas! the good padre had broken his fast too soon!
“When recovered from his surprise, the student would have reëntered the tower, but learnt to his dismay that the damsel, in her fright, had let fall the seal of Solomon ; it remained within the vault.
“In a word, the cathedral bell tolled midnight; the spell was renewed; the soldier was doomed to mount guard for another hundred years, and there he and the treasure remain to this day and all because the kind-hearted padre kissed his handmaid. • Ah, father! father!' said the student, shaking his head ruefully, as they returned down the ravine, “I fear there was less of the saint than the sinner in that kiss !'
“ Thus ends the legend as far as it has been authenticated. There is a tradition, however, that the student had brought off treasure enough in his pocket to set him up in the world ; that he prospered in his affairs, that the worthy padre gave him the pet-lamb in marriage, by way of amends for the blunder in the vault; that the immaculate damsel proved a pattern for wives as she had been for handmaids, and bore her husband a numerous progeny; that the first was a wonder; it was born seven months after her mar
riage, and though a seven-months' boy, was the sturdiest of the flock. The rest were all born in the ordinary course of time.
“The story of the enchanted soldier remains one of the popular traditions of Granada, though told in a variety of ways; the common people affirm that he still mounts guard on mid-summer eve, beside the gigantic stone pomegranate on the bridge of the Darro; but remains invisible excepting to such lucky mortal as may possess the seal of Solomon.”
These passages from the most characteristic of Irving's books, do not by any means exhaust his variety, but they afford a fair measure of his purely literary skill, upon which his reputation must rest. To my apprehension this “charm" in literature is as necessary to the amelioration and enjoyment' of human life as the more solid achievements of scholarship. That Irving should find it in the prosaic and materialistic conditions of the New World as well as in the tradition-laden atmosphere of the Old, is evidence that he possessed genius of a refined and subtle quality if not of the most robust order.
LAST YEARS : THE CHARACTER OF HIS LITERATURE.
THE last years of Irving's life, although full of activity and enjoyment, — abated only by the malady which had so long tormented him, - offer little new in the development of his character, and need not much longer detain us. The calls of friendship and of honor were many, his correspondence was large, he made many excursions to scenes that were filled with pleasant memories, going even as far south as Virginia, and he labored assiduously at the “Life of Washington,” — attracted however now and then by some other tempting theme. But his delight was in the domestic circle at Sunnyside. It was not possible that his occasional melancholy vein should not be deepened by change and death and the lengthening shade of old age. Yet I do not know the closing days of any
other author of note that were more cheerful, serene, and happy than his. Of our author, in these latter days, Mr. George William Curtis put recently into his “ Easy Chair” papers an artistically-touched little portrait: “ Irving was as quaint a figure,” he says, “as the Diedrich Knickerbocker in the preliminary advertisement of the • History of New York.' Thirty years ago he might have been seen on an autumnal afternoon tripping with an elastic step along Broadway, with low-quartered' shoes neatly tied, and a Talma cloak - a short garment that hung from the shoulders like the cape of a coat. There was a chirping, cheery, old-school air in his appearance which was undeniably Dutch, and most harmonious with the associations of his writing. He seemed, indeed, to have stepped out of his own books; and the cordial grace and humor of his address, if he stopped for a passing chat, were delightfully characteristic. He was then our most famous man of letters, but he was simply free from all selfconsciousness and assumption and dogmatism.” Congenial occupation was one secret of Irving's cheerfulness and contentment,