THE CITY OF LEBTAIT.

There was once a city in the land of the Franks, called the City of Lebtait. (123) It was a royal city and in it stood a tower which was always shut. Whenever a King died and another King of the Franks took the Kingship after him, he set a new and strong lock on the tower, till there were four-and- twenty locks upon the gate. After this time, there came to the throne a man who was not of the old royal house, and he had a mind to open the locks, that he might see what was within the tower. The grandees of his kingdom forbade him from this and were instant with him to desist, offering him all that their hands possessed of riches and things of price, if he would but forego his desire; but he would not be baulked and said, 'Needs must I open this tower.' So he did off the locks and entering, found within figures of Arabs on their horses and camels, covered with turbans with hanging ends, girt with swords and bearing long lances in their hands. He found there also a scroll, with these words written therein: 'Whenas this door is opened, a people of the Arabs, after the likeness of the figures here depictured, will conquer this country; wherefore beware, beware of opening it.' Now this city was in Spain, and that very year Tarik ibn Ziyad conquered it, in the Khalifate of Welid ben Abdulmelik (124) of the sons of Umeyyeh, slaying this King after the sorriest fashion and sacking the city and making prisoners of the women and boys therein. Moreover, he found there immense treasures; amongst the rest more than a hundred and seventy crowns of pearls and rubies and other gems, and a saloon, in which horsemen might tilt with spears, full of vessels of gold and silver, such as no description can comprise. Moreover, he found there also the table of food of the prophet of God, Solomon son of David (on whom be peace), which is extant even now in a city of the Greeks; it is told that it was of green emerald, with vessels of gold and platters of chrysolite; likewise, the Psalms written in the [ancient] Greek character, on leaves of gold set with jewels, together with a book setting forth the properties of stones and herbs and minerals, as well as the use of charms and talismans and the canons of the art of alchemy, and another that treated of the art of cutting and setting rubies and other [precious] stones and of the preparation of poisons and antidotes. There found he also a representation of the configuration of the earth and the seas and the different towns and countries and villages of the world and a great hall full of hermetic powder, one drachm of which would turn a thousand drachms of silver into fine gold; likewise a marvellous great round mirror of mixed metals, made for Solomon son of David (on whom be peace), wherein whoso looked might see the very image and presentment of the seven divisions of the world, and a chamber full of carbuncles, such as no words can suffice to set forth, many camel-loads. So he despatched all these things to Welid ben Abdulmelik, and the Arabs spread all over the cities of Spain, which is one of the finest of lands. This is the end of the story of the City of Lebtait.




Prev
Home
Next