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The Palace of the Enchanted Moors

He was a fine specimen of an ass, and worthy of the Mohamedan creed. Tradition hints at a miller having laid claim to him; but as he could offer no proofs why the ass should not have been in Paradise, and seeing that the ass was as white as the prophet’s, the miller was ordered to look for his donkey elsewhere, as this was the ass of the prophet.

How long this favoured quadruped lived is not recorded, but no doubts have been raised as to his eventual demise; and he, too, was heard braying furiously from his resting-place when the winds blew high.

But few vestiges are now left of this once splendid alcazar. Time defied its ornamental turrets and richly chased walls, and levelled them with the ground. Only the surrounding rocks have remained, and with them many traditions. These the inhabitants of the district have preserved intact, or maybe added to their interest by investing them with a semblance to truth which renders them all the more worthy of preservation, as being stepping-stones carrying us back to a long past.

But even where such doubtful lore holds the people in awe, a few may be found who, although rejecting that part of the tradition which is evidently but the fruit of a fertile imagination, or of religious fanaticism, recognize in these legends the preservation of a still unwritten history, to whose identification with facts the ruins of many a Moslem building of rare architectural beauty attest.

And if, after many a sanguinary fight, the Cross was victorious over the Crescent, the Christian population of the Iberic Peninsula must admit that the faint vestiges of beauty in their architecture of to-day have an Arabic origin; that to their Moorish conquerors they owe much of the daring and endurance which characterized the generation of great navigators, as also to them was due the introduction of many of the useful arts and sciences.

The traveller will now look in vain for the alcazar of El Rachid at Freixo. The mighty rocks alone mark the spot, and naught remains of art to please the eye.

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