« AnteriorContinuar »
TALE OF THE GREEN TAPER.
"Among the unfortunate families of Spanish Moriscoes who were forced to quit Spain in 1610, there was one of a very rich farmer who owned the house we speak of. As the object of the government was to hurry the Moriscoes out of the country without allowing them time to remove their property, many buried their money and jewels, in hopes of returning from Africa at a future period. Muley Hassem, according to our popular tradition, had contrived a vault under the large Zaguan, or close porch of his house. Distrusting his Christian neighbours, he had there accumulated great quantities of gold and pearls, which, upon his quitting the country, were laid under a spell by another Moriscoe, deeply versed in the secret arts.
"The jealousy of the Spaniards, and the severe penalties enacted against such of the exiles as should return, precluded Muley Hassem from all opportunities of recovering his treasure. He died, intrusting the secret to an only daughter, who, having grown up at Seville, was perfectly acquainted with the spot under the charm. Fatima married, and was soon left a widow, with a daughter whom she taught Spanish, hoping to make her pass for a native of our country. Urged by the approach of poverty, which sharpened the desire to make use of the secret trusted to her, Fatima, with her daughter Zuleima, embarked on board a corsair, and were landed secretly in a cove near Huelva. Dressed in the costume of the peasantry, and having assumed Christian names, both mother and daughter made their way to Seville on foot, or by any occasional conveyance which offered on the road. To avoid suspicion, they gave out that they were returning from the performance of a vow to a celebrated image of the Virgin, near Moguer. I will not tire you with details as to the means by which Fatima obtained a place for herself and daughter in the family then occupying her own paternal house. Fatima's constant endeavours to please her mas
38 ATHENEUM VOL. 2. 2d series.
ter and mistress succeeded to the utmost of her wishes: the beauty and innocence of Zuleima, then only fourteen, needed no studied efforts to obtain the affection of the whole family.
"When Fatima thought the time was come, she prepared her daughter for the important and awful task of recovering the concealed treasure, of which she had constantly talked to her since the child could understand her meaning. The winter came on; the family moved to the first floor as usual, and Fatima asked to be allowed one of the ground-floor rooms for herself and Zuleima. About the middle of December, when the periodical rains threatened to make the Guadalquivir overflow its banks, and scarcely a soul stirred out after sunset, Fatima, provided with a rope and a basket, anxiously awaited the hour of midnight to commence her incantation. Her daughter stood trembling by her side in the porch, to which they had groped their way in the dark. The large bell of the cathedral clock, whose sound, you are well aware, has a most startling effect in the dead silence of the night, tolled the hour; and the melancholy peal of supplication (Plegária) followed for about two minutes. All now was stil, except the wind and rain. Fatima, unlocking, with some difficulty the cold hands of her daughter out of hers, struck a flint, and lighted a green taper not more than an inch long, which she carefully sheltered from the wind in a pocket lantern. The light had scarcely glimmered on the ground, when the pavement yawned close by the feet of the two females. 'Now, Zuleima, my child, the only care of my life, (said Fatima,) were you strong enough to draw me out of the vault where our treasure lies, I would not intreat you to hasten down by these small perpendicular steps, which you here see. Fear not, my love, there is nothing below but the gold and jewels deposited by my father.'- Mother, (answered the tremulous girl,) I will not break the promise I have made you, though I feel as
if my breathing would stop, the moment I enter that horrible vault. Dear mother, tie the rope round my waistmy hands want strength-you must support the whole weight of my body. Merciful Allah! my foot slips! Oh, mother, leave me not in the dark!'
"The vault was not much deeper than the girl's length; and upon her slipping from one of the projecting stones, the chink of coins scattered by her feet, restored the failing courage of the mother. There, take the basket, child-quick! fill it up with gold,feel for the jewels,-I must not move the lantern. Well done, my love! Another basketful and no more. would not expose you, my only child, for.... yet, the candle is long enough: fear not, it will burn five minutes. Heavens! the wick begins to float in the melted wax: out, Zuleima!.... the rope, the rope! the steps are on this side!'
"A faint groan was heard. Zuleima had dropped in a swoon over the remaining gold. At this moment all was dark again: the distracted mother searched for the chasm, but it was closed. She beat the ground with her feet; and her agony became downright madness on hearing the hollow sound returned from below. She now struck the flints of the pavement, till her hands were shapeless with wounds. Lying on the ground a short time, and having for a moment recovered the power of conscious suffering, she heard her daughter repeat the words, 'Mother, dear mother, leave me not in the dark! The thick vault, through which the words were heard, gave the voice a heart-freezing, thin, distant, yet silvery tone. Fatima lay one instant motionless on the flints; then raising herself upon her knees, dashed her head, with something like supernatural strength, against the stones. There she was found lifeless in the morning.
"On a certain night in the month of December, the few who, ignorant that the house is haunted, have incautiously been on the spot at midnight, report that Fatima is seen between two black figures, who, in spite of her violent struggles to avoid the place where her
Sarah, my last, my youngest love,
THE LOVER'S LEAP.
BEHOLD yon beetling cliff whose brow
Is told of that same fearful spot;
The Dargle, in the county of Wicklow, has long been celebrated for its wild and romantic beauties. To this chosen retreat the citizens of Dublin repair to regale themselves with a cold dinner, in Grattan's cottage, and to enjoy a rustic dance on "the flowery sod." A steep promontory on the northern side of the glen, commands an extensive view of the beautiful scenery attached to the domains of Lords Powerscourt and Monck. This fearful eminence, which is called the Lover's Leap, is an object of peculiar interest to all young men and maidens, both from its romantic situation, and the melancholy story which has given rise to its name.
Her parent's and her husband's pride;
They laugh'd and revell'd, till the sun
In yonder grove retired to spend
The breezes that were sporting there;
Then, thou in Heaven and I on earth,
His steps were watched, his way pursued,
The bridal morn he chose to vent
Borne on the wings of bliss elate,
A rash and sudden blow was dash'd;
The struggle was for life or death.
His rival drew a deadly blade,
The murderer then the deed to hide,
Was silent, but beyond relief;
Had chas'd the stormy night away,
I HAVE promised, in a former letter, that those gentry should form the subject of one of my "hours;" and as fortune (however singular, always fortunate to a literary gossip) has placed it in my power to lay before your readers a scene-quorum pars parva fui-which, I flatter myself, they may not consider uninteresting, I hasten to redeem my pledge.
I was sitting quietly in the house of an acquaintance (a county of Limerick gentleman,) about twelve o'clock at noon, on a fine, still, sun-shiny day the good lady of the mansion was busily engaged in preparing luncheon: the master, a quiet, inoffensive, timid kind of man, who by his neutrality during the disturbances had secured himaelf against injury on all sides, was poring with eyes aghast, and a countenance surcharged with expression which he vainly endeavoured to suppress, over the columns of the last Limerick Evening Post, where in all the authenticity of neat long primer, the doings of the last week were recorded, not in the most soothing strain to the self-alarmist, when Pat Cahil, a gentleman who did my friend the honour of officiating as groom of his stables, burst into the chamber, hatless, coatless, and shoeless-his whole frame evidently agitated by the extremity of
Such is the melancholy tale,
ROCKITES-OR, A SCENE IN IRELAND.
consternation. It was some time before he could articulate-" Mr. Wardow! there they are all !-gone up to the cross by the forge !"
"Who?" exclaimed my friend, endeavouring to preserve an appearance of dignified calmness.
"The boys, Sir-the boys! and 'tis thought they're going to do something that's bad, Sir, by the Peppards,* Sir, now the army arn't to the fore.”— "Where are the military stationed!" I asked. "Och, your honour, there isn't a sodger near to us than Adare; and it's but a poor account you'd have o' the business be the time you'd get there, let alone the road back." The distant report of a shot instantly convinced us that this was but too true. I rushed toward the door, however, rather rudely flinging back my friend, who opposed himself to my exit with the most haggard and woe-begone look of entreaty I ever beheld. In a few minutes I reached the bill of Lisnamuck, a place which cut rather a conspicuous figure as a place of rendezvous on the nocturnal occasions of those people, and in some part of which, knowing folks will tell you with
*It may be necessary to remark, that this attack on those gentlemen, and their manly resist ance, is pure history.
ceive the impression which such a spectacle must have produced on the mind of a stranger, in the deep stillness of a summer noontide, and in a popu lous country where there was something like civilization and civil government talked about! Every man went as coolly and openly to work as if the grey frieze on their backs had been regular, protracted, loyal scarlet, and the resisting housekeepers the proscribed men of the law. Very soon after, and while the clouds of smoke were rolling towards a clump of trees on the south, two of the windows were suddenly thrown up, and as suddenly a reciprocal discharge was commenced from within. The battle now began to wax earnest; the Rockites sent forth a yell with every discharge, which came over the still champagne around with almost a redoubled loudness; and the advantage of the housed warriors became quickly apparent. With all the credit for discipline which the Rockites have achieved, their mode of battle on this occasion was not very imposing: they regularly, after discharging a volley irregularly, ran down the slope a briglia sciolta, and squatted themselves behind a hedge, reloaded, and readvanced to the charge in any thing but marching order. Then, again unburthening their firearms with all the serious silence in the world, they again sent forth a shout, and scampered off to prepare for a new volley. One only among them seemed to despise this pusillanimous procedure: he appeared to command the band, and, in fact, did so, as was afterwards found; but he was only distinguished from the rest by a white handkerchief tied round his hat. He remained during the whole affray in the same spot, but he did not continue to expose himself with impunity as his party advanced to the charge for the last time, he was in the act of raising his musket, when a ball from one of the windows struck him on the arm, and the piece fell to the ground: he instantly tore the handkerchief from the hat with his left hand, and bound it round the other, accompanying every twist with what Hotspur lusciously calls "a good mouth-filling oath," alter
a wink and a nod, an old cavern serves as an armoury to the worthy General's forces; but at all events I reached the summit of the hill, and in an instant the scene of battle lay before me. Cappa House, the residence of Mr. Peppard and his two sons, was an elderly-looking edifice, and apparently well calculated to sustain a seige in which musketry were the heaviest modes of assault to be apprehended. It was situated rather on a low ground, with a slope on one side leading to a plain still lower, and surrounded by a lofty wall, the only entrance through which was a small narrow gateway. It fact it had the appearance of a regular little fortress. I afterwards found by the public papers, that the elder Mr. P. was, at the time the Rockite party suddenly came upon the house, outside this gate, and unarmed. On seeing them approach he ran toward it, and closing it after him, made what haste he could along a narrow straight passage which led directly from it to the back-door of the house. This was open. Before he reached it he heard behind him the grating of the blunderbusses against the iron railing as the ruffians poked them through to take a deliberate aim, and he sprung towards the door. It was shut in his face! The alarm had been given in the house. Unconscious of Mr. P.'s absence, and imagining that the assailants had made good their entrance into this inner passage, they slapped to the door, and left him to the mercy of the men without, or rather of their blunderbusses, for these bad more than their owners, and contrived to throw their contents harmlessly all around him. Indeed his escape was almost miraculous. The door, the panels and jams of which were perforated by slugs, so as scarcely to leave a hair's-breadth more than the space necessary for his preservation, was for a considerable time afterwards an object of intense curiosity to numerous visitors. Before the discharge could be renewed, however, he was placed beyond its reach. The aggressors now (and it was just at this juncture the scene presented itself to my sight) retired from the gate, and commenced firing upon the windows. Only con