“Look, Lady Mabel. Observe it well, Mrs. Shortridge. This castellum is a miniature embodiment of Roman taste and skill in architecture. This is no ruin calling upon the imagination to play the hazardous part of filling up the gaps made by the hand of time. We see it as the Moor, the Goth, the Roman saw it, save the loss of a few vases which adorned the depressed parapet, and the scaling plaster which here and there betrays that the builder used that cheap but immortal material, the Roman brick.”
Much did Lady Mabel admire this architectural gem, scarcely tarnished by the elements in nineteen centuries, and much more would L’Isle have found to say of it, when the commissary, impatiently fanning himself with his hat, ventured to ask, “how much longer shall we stay broiling in the noon-day sun, staring at this Roman sentry-box?”
“Sentry-box!” said Mrs. Shortridge, with a puzzled air, “were the Romans a gigantic people?”
“There were giants in those days,” said Lady Mabel, gravely, gazing on the castellum. But a crowd of idlers and beggars began to collect around the cavalcade, and turning, they rode off, and were soon enjoying the shelter, if not the more substantial hospitality, of the Estalagem de San Antonio.
Tell me, recluse Monastic, can it be
A disadvantage to thy beams to shine?
A thousand tapers may gain light from thee:
Is thy light less or worse for lighting mine?
If, wanting light, I stumble, shall
Thy darkness not be guilty of my fall?
Make not thyself a prisoner, thou
Why dost thou turn thy palace to a jail?
Thou art an eagle; and befits it thee
To live immured like a cloister’d snail?
Let toys seek corners: things of cost
Gain worth by view; hid jewels are but lost.
In the afternoon, the commissary going out in search of the objects of his journey, grain and bullocks for the troops, L’Isle strolled out with the ladies to survey the curiosities of Evora, and Moodie followed closely Lady Mabel’s steps.
“If I am to play the part of cicerone,” said L’Isle, “I will begin by reminding you that the history of many races and eras is indissolubly connected with the Peninsula, and especially the southern part of it. Here we find the land of Tarshish of Scripture, so well known to the Phoenicians, who, in an adjacent province of Spain, built another Sidon, and founded Cadiz before Hector and Achilles fought at Troy.