Part 10, Chapter 6

Part X

Chapter 6

SLEEP crept over the senses of the exhausted and desperate Caliph. He threw himself upon the divan, and was soon buried in profound repose. He might have slept an hour; he awoke suddenly. From the cabinet in which he slept, you entered a vast hall, through a lofty and spacious arch, generally covered with drapery, which was now withdrawn. To the astonishment of Alroy, this presence-chamber appeared at this moment to blaze with light. He rose from his couch, he advanced; he perceived, with feelings of curiosity and fear, that the hall was filled with beings, terrible indeed to behold, but to his sight more terrible than strange. In the colossal and mysterious forms that lined the walls of the mighty chamber, and each of which held in its extended arm a streaming torch, he recognised the awful Afrites. At the end of the hall, upon a sumptuous throne, surrounded by priests and courtiers, there was seated a monarch, on whom Alroy had before gazed, Solomon the Great! Alroy beheld him in state and semblance the same Solomon, whose sceptre the Prince of the Captivity had seized in the royal tombs of Judah.

The strange assembly seemed perfectly unconscious of the presence of the child of Earth, who, with a desperate courage, leant against a column of the arch, and watched, with wonder, their mute and motionless society. Nothing was said, nothing done. No one moved, no one, even by gesture, seemed sensible of the presence of any other apparition save himself.

This great crowd poured on in beautiful order, the procession never terminating, yet passing thrice round the hall, bowing to him that was upon the throne, and ranging themselves in ranks before the Afrites.

And there came in twelve forms, bearing a great seal: the stone green, and the engraven characters of living flame, and the characters were those on the talisman of Jabaster, which Alroy still wore next to his heart. And the twelve forms placed the great seal before Solomon, and humbled themselves, and the King bowed. At the same moment Alroy was sensible of a pang next to his heart. He instantly put his hand to the suffering spot, and lo! the talisman crumbled into dust.

The procession ceased; a single form advanced. Recent experience alone prevented Alroy from sinking before the spectre of Jabaster. Such was the single form. It advanced, bearing the sceptre. It advanced, it knelt before the throne, it offered the sceptre to the crowned and solemn vision. And the form of Solomon extended its arm, and took the sceptre, and instantly the mighty assembly vanished!

Alroy advanced immediately into the chamber, but all was dark and silent. A trumpet sounded. He recognised the note of his own soldiery. He groped his way to a curtain, and, pulling it aside, beheld the first streak of dawn.