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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesLeila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 6. The Lion In The Net
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Leila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 6. The Lion In The Net Post by :jasonroland Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1458

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Leila; Or, The Siege Of Granada - Book 1 - Chapter 6. The Lion In The Net

BOOK I CHAPTER VI. THE LION IN THE NET

IT was the next night, not long before daybreak, that the King of Granada abruptly summoned to his council Jusef, his vizier. The old man found Boabdil in great disorder and excitement; but he almost deemed his sovereign mad, when he received from him the order to seize upon the person of Muza Ben Abil Gazan, and to lodge him in the strongest dungeon of the Vermilion Tower. Presuming upon Boabdil's natural mildness, the vizier ventured to remonstrate,--to suggest the danger of laying violent hands upon a chief so beloved,--and to inquire what cause should be assigned for the outrage.

The veins swelled like cords upon Boabdil's brow, as he listened to the vizier; and his answer was short and peremptory.

"Am I yet a king, that I should fear a subject, or excuse my will? Thou hast my orders; there are my signet and the firman: obedience or the bow-string!"

Never before had Boabdil so resembled his dread father in speech and air; the vizier trembled to the soles of his feet, and withdrew in silence. Boabdil watched him depart; and then, clasping his hands in great emotion, exclaimed, "O lips of the dead! ye have warned me; and to you I sacrifice the friend of my youth."

On quitting Boabdil the vizier, taking with him some of those foreign slaves of a seraglio, who know no sympathy with human passion outside its walls, bent his way to the palace of Muza, sorely puzzled and perplexed. He did not, however, like to venture upon the hazard of the alarm it might occasion throughout the neighbourhood, if he endeavoured, at so unseasonable an hour, to force an entrance. He resolved, rather, with his train to wait at a little distance, till, with the growing dawn, the gates should be unclosed, and the inmates of the palace astir.

Accordingly, cursing his stars, and wondering at his mission, Jusef, and his silent and ominous attendants, concealed themselves in a small copse adjoining the palace, until the daylight fairly broke over the awakened city. He then passed into the palace; and was conducted to a hall, where he found the renowned Moslem already astir, and conferring with some Zegri captains upon the tactics of a sortie designed for that day.

It was with so evident a reluctance and apprehension that Jusef approached the prince, that the fierce and quick-sighted Zegris instantly suspected some evil intention in his visit; and when Muza, in surprise, yielded to the prayer of the vizier for a private audience, it was with scowling brows and sparkling eyes that the Moorish warriors left the darling of the nobles alone with the messenger of their king.

"By the tomb of the prophet!" said one of the Zegris, as he quitted the hall, "the timid Boabdil suspects our Ben Abil Gazan. I learned of this before."

"Hush!" said another of the band; "let us watch. If the king touch a hair of Muza's head, Allah have mercy on his sins!"

Meanwhile, the vizier, in silence, showed to Muza the firman and the signet; and then, without venturing to announce the place to which he was commissioned to conduct the prince, besought him to follow at once. Muza changed colour, but not with fear.

"Alas!" said he, in a tone of deep sorrow, "can it be that I have fallen under my royal kinsman's suspicion or displeasure? But no matter; proud to set to Granada an example of valour in her defence, be it mine to set, also, an example of obedience to her king. Go on--I will follow thee. Yet stay, you will have no need of guards; let us depart by a private egress: the Zegris might misgive, did they see me leave the palace with you at the very time the army are assembling in the Vivarrambla, and awaiting my presence. This way."

Thus saying, Muza, who, fierce as he was, obeyed every impulse that the oriental loyalty dictated from a subject to a king, passed from the hall to a small door that admitted into the garden, and in thoughtful silence accompanied the vizier towards the Alhambra. As they passed the copse in which Muza, two nights before, had met with Almamen, the Moor, lifting his head suddenly, beheld fixed upon him the dark eyes of the magician, as he emerged from the trees. Muza thought there was in those eyes a malign and hostile exultation; but Almamen, gravely saluting him, passed on through the grove: the prince did not deign to look back, or he might once more have encountered that withering gaze.

"Proud heathen!" muttered Almamen to himself, "thy father filled his treasuries from the gold of many a tortured Hebrew; and even thou, too haughty to be the miser, hast been savage enough to play the bigot. Thy name is a curse in Israel; yet dost thou lust after the daughter of our despised race, and, could defeated passion sting thee, I were avenged. Ay, sweep on, with thy stately step and lofty crest-thou goest to chains, perhaps to death."

As Almamen thus vented his bitter spirit, the last gleam of the white robes of Muza vanished from his gaze. He paused a moment, turned away abruptly, and said, half aloud, "Vengeance, not on one man only, but a whole race! Now for the Nazarene."

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