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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesLeila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 3. The Lovers
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Leila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 3. The Lovers Post by :jasonroland Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1966

Click below to download : Leila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 3. The Lovers (Format : PDF)

Leila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 3. The Lovers

BOOK I CHAPTER III. THE LOVERS

When Muza parted from Almamen, he bent his steps towards the hill that rises opposite the ascent crowned with the towers of the Alhambra; the sides and summit of which eminence were tenanted by the luxurious population of the city. He selected the more private and secluded paths; and, half way up the hill, arrived, at last, before a low wall of considerable extent, which girded the gardens of some wealthier inhabitant of the city. He looked long and anxiously round; all was solitary; nor was the stillness broken, save as an occasional breeze, from the snowy heights of the Sierra Nevada, rustled the fragrant leaves of the citron and pomegranate; or as the silver tinkling of waterfalls chimed melodiously within the gardens. The Moor's heart beat high: a moment more, and he had scaled the wall; and found himself upon a green sward, variegated by the rich colours of many a sleeping flower, and shaded by groves and alleys of luxuriant foliage and golden fruits.

It was not long before he stood beside a house that seemed of a construction anterior to the Moorish dynasty. It was built over low cloisters formed by heavy and timeworn pillars, concealed, for the most part by a profusion of roses and creeping shrubs: the lattices above the cloisters opened upon large gilded balconies, the super-addition of Moriscan taste. In one only of the casements a lamp was visible; the rest of the mansion was dark, as if, save in that chamber, sleep kept watch over the inmates. It was to this window that the Moor stole; and, after a moment's pause, he murmured rather than sang, so low and whispered was his voice, the following simple verses, slightly varied from an old Arabian poet:--


Light of my soul, arise, arise!
Thy sister lights are in the skies;
We want thine eyes,
Thy joyous eyes;
The Night is mourning for thine eyes!
The sacred verse is on my sword,
But on my heart thy name
The words on each alike adored;
The truth of each the same,
The same!--alas! too well I feel
The heart is truer than the steel!
Light of my soul! upon me shine;
Night wakes her stars to envy mine.
Those eyes of thine,
Wild eyes of thine,
What stars are like those eyes of thine?


As he concluded, the lattice softly opened; and a female form appeared on the balcony.

"Ah, Leila!" said the Moor, "I see thee, and I am blessed!"

"Hush!" answered Leila; "speak low, nor tarry long I fear that our interviews are suspected; and this," she added in a trembling voice, "may perhaps be the last time we shall meet."

"Holy Prophet!" exclaimed Muza, passionately, "what do I hear? Why this mystery? why cannot I learn thine origin, thy rank, thy parents? Think you, beautiful Leila, that Granada holds a rouse lofty enough to disdain the alliance with Muza Ben Abil Gazan? and oh!" he added (sinking the haughty tones of his voice into accents of the softest tenderness), "if not too high to scorn me, what should war against our loves and our bridals? For worn equally on my heart were the flower of thy sweet self, whether the mountain top or the valley gave birth to the odour and the bloom."

"Alas!" answered Leila, weeping, "the mystery thou complainest of is as dark to myself as thee. How often have I told thee that I know nothing of my birth or childish fortunes, save a dim memory of a more distant and burning clime; where, amidst sands and wastes, springs the everlasting cedar, and the camel grazes on stunted herbage withering in the fiery air? Then, it seemed to me that I had a mother: fond eyes looked on me, and soft songs hushed me into sleep."

"Thy mother's soul has passed into mine," said the Moor, tenderly.

Leila continued:--"Borne hither, I passed from childhood into youth within these walls. Slaves ministered to my slightest wish; and those who have seen both state and poverty, which I have not, tell me that treasures and splendour, that might glad a monarch, are prodigalised around me: but of ties and kindred know I little: my father, a stern and silent man, visits me but rarely--sometimes months pass, and I see him not; but I feel he loves me; and, till I knew thee, Muza, my brightest hours were in listening to the footsteps and flying to the arms of that solitary friend."

"Know you not his name?"

"Nor, I nor any one of the household; save perhaps Ximen, the chief of the slaves, an old and withered man, whose very eye chills me into fear and silence."

"Strange!" said the Moor, musingly; "yet why think you our love is discovered, or can be thwarted?"

"Hush! Ximen sought me this day: 'Maiden,' said he, 'men's footsteps have been tracked within the gardens; if your sire know this, you will have looked your last on Granada. Learn,' he added, in a softer voice, as he saw me tremble, 'that permission were easier given to thee to wed the wild tiger than to mate with the loftiest noble of Morisca! Beware!' He spoke, and left me. O Muza!" she continued, passionately wringing her hands, "my heart sinks within me, and omen and doom rise dark before my sight!"

"By my father's head, these obstacles but fire my love, and I would scale to thy possession, though every step in the ladder were the corpses of a hundred foes!"

Scarcely had the fiery and high-souled Moor uttered his boast, than, from some unseen hand amidst the groves, a javelin whirred past him, and as the air it raised came sharp upon his cheek, half buried its quivering shaft in the trunk of a tree behind him.

"Fly, fly, and save thyself! O God, protect him!" cried Leila; and she vanished within the chamber.

The Moor did not wait the result of a deadlier aim; he turned; yet, in the instinct of his fierce nature, not from, but against, the foe; his drawn scimitar in his hand, the half-suppressed cry of wrath trembling on his lips, he sprang forward in the direction the javelin had sped. With eyes accustomed to the ambuscades of Moorish warfare, he searched eagerly, yet warily through the dark and sighing foliage. No sign of life met his gaze; and at length, grimly and reluctantly, he retraced his steps, and quitted the demesnes; but just as he had cleared the wall, a voice--low, but sharp and shrill--came from the gardens.

"Thou art spared," it said, "but, haply, for a more miserable doom!"

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BOOK I CHAPTER IV. THE FATHER AND DAUGHTERThe chamber into which Leila retreated bore out the character she had given of the interior of her home. The fashion of its ornament and decoration was foreign to that adopted by the Moors of Granada. It had a more massive and, if we may use the term, Egyptian gorgeousness. The walls were covered with the stuffs of the East, stiff with gold, embroidered upon ground of the deepest purple; strange characters, apparently in some foreign tongue, were wrought in the tesselated cornices and on the heavy ceiling, which was supported by square pillars,
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BOOK I CHAPTER II. THE KING WITHIN HIS PALACEIn one of those apartments, the luxury of which is known only to the inhabitants of a genial climate (half chamber and half grotto), reclined a young Moor, in a thoughtful and musing attitude. The ceiling of cedar-wood, glowing with gold and azure, was supported by slender shafts, of the whitest alabaster, between which were open arcades, light and graceful as the arched vineyards of Italy, and wrought in that delicate filagree-work common to the Arabian architecture: through these arcades was seen at intervals the lapsing fall of waters, lighted by alabaster lamps;
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