Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth >> Chapter VI >> Page 182

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Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
Transcription 182 COUNT JULIAN; OR,
devoted to his will. His soldiers beheld in him their immediate sovereign, and acknowledged, in the long relationship which they had maintained together, a friend and leader, rather than a lord and master. It was not difficult to secure for himself those affections which had long been withdrawn, upon the skirts of Barbary, from any social affinities with their own people dwelling beyond the straits. Julian was soon sure of his adherents.
He too had his correspondence. He wrote, by a trusty hand, to the Archbishop Oppas, and adroitly insinuated such hopes in the bosom of that subtle priest, as re-awakened in full all of his ambitious projects for the princes, his nephews, and himself. Of the fate of Egiza, Oppas knew nothing. Julian spared him that portion of his knowledge, secret to all but himself, of which he had left such a sudden and bloody record, at midnight, on the battle-field of Ceuta. But the arch-bishop had learned to base no calculations on the spirit of this feeble prince. His eye had gradually turned to Pelayo, as to the active hope of the royal family which had been deposed ; and the letter of Julian had scarcely been received and announced, before his own mission, embodying the new hopes which he had imbibed from Julian, were transmitted to the daring young chief, who continued to bring together a little army in the secure passes of the Asturian mountains. The communication ma le to Pelayo informed him only of the defect of Julian, with the forces which he held at Ceuta. Of his own alliance with the Arabs, Julian had withheld the information from the archbishop. That was his secret only, for he dreaded lest the religious prejudices of the priest might render him reluctant, even at successful revolution, sustained and brought about by infidel alliance. His caution was unnecessary. Oppas was scarcely less corrigible, in this matter, though a Christian teacher, than himself. To the king—to Roderick, he who had thus driven him to the deepest desperation, and to the commission of the last of crimes —he also wrote. He was able, in this letter—such was the strength of his will, and the intense character of his hatred—to forbear all complaint, and every show of passion. He spoke of his daughter as if he knew not of her death—as if he entertained not the slightest notion of the brutal usage she had endured—and spoke to the tyrant, as if still his warm and confiding adherent. Bitter was the pang of suppression which the apostate felt, as he wrote this fraudulent epistle. Wild was the shudder which shook his frame as he laid his pen aside, and gave freedom to the emotions which he struggled successfully to keep down till the scroll was written. He had his policy in this also. He could tell the monarch of his victory —could dilate on its extent—its advantages, and the security which it had brought. But this security was not yet complete. The Arab was not entirely subdued. He was still in force in the pastural vallies which spread themselves in the sun, sheltered by the distant range of the Atlas mountains ; and drawing new warriors to his thinned array from the numerous tribes of the desert, which had been subdued by the sword of Islam. To crush effectually this enemy—to drive him far from the neighborhood of Tingitania, and prevent the accumulation of powers which, at a later period, it might not be so easy to overcome, it was necessary that new succors should be sent to Ceuta. Arms and horses, in particular, were among the de-sired supplies, and for these Julian wrote to Roderick in language of entreaty, the earnestness of which was well calculated to make itself felt without provoking
suspicion. Remembering the awful vision which he had witnessed in the mysterious cavern of Cova,_longa—the vision of these swarthy invaders, following in the pale light of the baleful crescent—recalling the terrible prediction which he could not drive from his senses, and which told him that, by infidels in this aspect, his sceptre was to he wrested from his hands, the soul of Roderick wa startled by its