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boughs, network, and all the wealth of Arabian caligraphy. Those in the Halls of the Ambassadors signify "Glory to God, power and wealth to believers," or consist of praises to Abu Nazar, who, " if he had been taken into Heaven while living, would have diminished the brightness of the stars and planets," a hyperbolical assertion which seems to us a little too Oriental.
Other bands are filled with eulogies to Abu Abd Allah, another Sultan who ordered work upon this part of the Palace. The windows are bedizened with verses in honour of the limpid waters of the reservoir, of the freshness of the shrubbery, and the perfume of the flowers which ornament the Court of the Mezouar, which in fact is seen, from the Hall of the Ambassadors through the doors and little columns of the gallery.
The loop-holes of the interior balcony, pierced at a great height from the ground, and the ceiling of wood-work, devoid of ornaments except the zig-zags and the interfacings formed by the joining of the pieces, give the Hall of the Ambassadors a more severe aspect than any other halls in the Palace, and more in harmony with its purpose. From the back window you can enjoy a marvellous view over the ravine of the Darro. . . .
From the Hall of the Ambassadors you go down a corridor of relatively modern construction to the tocador, or dressing-room of the queen. This is a small pavilion on the top of a tower used by the sultanas as an oratory, and from which you can enjoy a wonderful panorama. You notice at the entrance a slab of white marble perforated with little holes in order to let the smoke of the perfumes burned beneath the floor to pass through. You can still see on the walls the fantastic frescoes of Bartholomew de Ragis, Alonzo Perez, and Juan de la Fuente. Upon the frieze the ciphers of Isabella and Philip V. are intertwined with groups of Cupids. It is difficult to imagine anything more coquettish and charming than this room, with its small Moorish columns and its surbased arches, over-hanging an abyss of azure, the bottom of which is studded with the roofs of Grenada and into which the breeze brings the perfumes from the Generalife, — that enormous cluster of oleanders blossoming in the foreground of the nearest hill,— and the plaintive cry of the peacocks walking upon the dismantled walls. How many hours have I passed there in that serene melancholy, so different from the melancholy of the North, with one leg hanging over the precipice and charging my eyes to photograph every form and every outline of this beautiful picture unfolded before them, and which, in all probability, they will never behold again! No description in words, or colours, can give the slightest hint of this brilliancy, this light, and these vivid tints. The most ordinary tones acquire the worth of jewels and everything else is on a corresponding scale. Towards the close of day, when the sun's rays are oblique, the most inconceivable effects are produced: the mountains sparkle like heaps of rubies, topazes, and carbuncles; a golden dust bathes the ravines; and if, as is frequent in the summer, the labourers are burning stubble in the field, the wreaths of smoke, which rise slowly towards the sky, borrow the most magical reflections from the fires of the setting sun. . . .
The Court of Lions is 120 feet long and 73 feet wide, while the surrounding galleries do not exceed 20 feet in height. These are formed by 128 columns of white marble, arranged in a symmetrical disorder of groups of fours and groups of threes; these columns, whose highly-worked capitals retain traces of gold and colour, support arches of extreme elegance and of a very unique form. . . .
To the left and midway up the long side of the gallery, you come to the Hall of the Two Sisters, the pendant to the Hall of the Abencerrages. The name of las Dos Hermanas is given to it on account of two immense flag-stones of white Macael marble of equal size and exactly alike which you notice at once in the pavement. The vaulted roof, or cupola, which the Spanish very expressively call media naranja (half an orange), is a miracle of work and patience. It is something like a honey-comb, or the stalactites of a grotto, or the soapy grape-bubbles which children blow through a pipe. These myriads of little vaults, or domes, three or four feet high, which grow out of one another, intersecting and constantly breaking their corners, seem rather the product of fortuitous crystallization than the work of human hands; the blue, the red, and the green still shine in the hollows of the mouldings as brilliantly as if they had just been laid on. The walls, like those in the Hall of the Ambassadors, are covered from the frieze to the height of a man with the most delicate embroideries in stucco and of an incredible intricacy. The lower part of the walls is faced with square blocks of glazed clay, whose black, green, and yellow angles form a mosaic upon the white background. The centre of the room, according to the invariable custom of the Arabs, whose habitations seem to be nothing but great ornamental fountains, is occupied by a basin and a jet of water. There are four fountains under the Gate of Justice, as many under the entrance-gate, and another in the Hall of the Abencerrages, without counting the Taza de los Leones, which, not content with vomiting water through the mouths of its twelve monsters, tosses a jet towards the sky through the mushroom-cap which surmounts it. All this water flows through small trenches in the floors of the hall and pavements of the court to the foot of the Fountain of Lions, where it is swallowed up in a subterranean conduit. Certainly this is a species of dwell ing which would never be incommoded with dust, but you ask how could these halls have been tenanted during the winter. Doubtless the large cedar doors were then shut and the marble floors were covered with thick carpets, while the inhabitants lighted fires of fruit-stones and odoriferous woods in the braseros, and waited for the return of the fine season, which soon comes in Grenada.
We will not describe the Hall of the Abencerrages, which is precisely like that of the Two Sisters and contains nothing in particular except its antique door of wood, arranged in lozenges, which dates from the time of the Moors. In the Alcazar of Seville you can find another one of exactly the same style.
The Taza de los Leones enjoys a wonderful reputation in Arabian poetry: no eulogy is considered too extravagant for these superb animals. I must confess, however, that it would be hard to find anything which less resembles lions than these productions of Arabian fantasy; the paws are