Page:The Coming Race, etc - 1888.djvu/272
apparition would not more have startled and appalled that goodly trio. Elias, griping his knife, retreated to the farthest end of the vault. Isaac dropped the goblet he was about to drain, and fell upon his knees. Ximen, alone, growing, if possible, a shade more ghastly retained something of self-possession, as he muttered to himself " He lives ! and his gold is not mine ! Curse him ! "
Seemingly unconscious of the strange guests his sanctuary shrouded, Almamen stalked on, like a man walking in his sleep.
Ximen roused himself softly unbarred the door which admitted to the upper apartments, and motioned to his comrades to avail themselves of the opening : but as Isaac, the first to accept the hint crept across, Almamen fixed upon him his terrible eye, and, appearing suddenly to awake to consciousness, shouted out, "Thou miscreant, Ximen ! whom hast thou admitted to the secrets of thy lord ? Close the door these men must die ! "
" Mighty master ! " said Ximen, calmly, " is thy servant to blame, that he believed the rumour that declared thy death ? These men are of our holy faith, whom I have snatched from the violence of the sacrilegious and maddened mob. No spot but this seemed safe from the popular frenzy."
"Are ye Jews?" said Almamen. "Ah, yes ! I know ye now things of the market-place and bazaar ! Oh, ye are Jews, indeed ! Go, go ! Leave me ! "
Waiting no further licence, the three vanished ; but, ere he quitted the vault, Elias turned back his scowling countenance on Almamen, (who had sunk again into an absorbed meditation,) with a glance of vindictive ire Almamen was alone.
In less than a quarter of an hour Ximen returned, to seek his master ; but the place was again deserted.
It was midnight in the streets of Granada midnight, but not repose. The multitude, roused into one of their paroxysms of wrath and sorrow, by the reflection that the morrow was indeed the day of their subjection to the Christian foe, poured forth through the streets to the number of twenty thousand. It was a wild and stormy night ; those formidable gusts of wind, which sometimes sweep in sudden winter from the snows of the Sierra Nevada, howled through the tossing groves, and along the winding streets. But the tempest seemed to heighten, as if by the sympathy of the elements, the popular storm and whirlwind. Brandishing arms and torches, and gaunt with hunger, the dark forms of the frantic Moors seemed like ghouls, or spectres, rather than mortal men ; as, ap- parently without an object, save that of venting their own disquietude, or exciting the fears of earlh, they swept through the desolate city.