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The Table Of Solomon
by [?]

We have told how King Roderic, when he invaded the enchanted palace of Toledo, found in its empty chambers a single treasure,–the famous table of Solomon. But this was a treasure worth a king’s ransom, a marvellous talisman, so splendid, so beautiful, so brilliant that the chroniclers can scarce find words fitly to describe its richness and value. Some say that it was made of pure gold, richly inlaid with precious stones. Others say that it was a mosaic of gold and silver, burnished yellow and gleaming white, ornamented with three rows of priceless jewels, one being of large pearls, one of costly rubies, and a third of gleaming emeralds. Other writers say that its top was made of a single emerald, a talisman revealing the fates in its lucid depths. Most writers say that it stood upon three hundred and sixty-five feet, each made of a single emerald, though still another writer declares that it had not a foot to stand upon.

Evidently none of these worthy chroniclers had seen the jewelled table except in the eye of fancy, which gave it what shape and form best fitted its far-famed splendor. They varied equally in their history of the talisman. A mildly drawn story says that it first came from Jerusalem to Rome, that it fell into the hands of the Goths when they sacked the city of the Caesars, and that some of them brought it into Spain. But there was a story more in accordance with the Arabian love of the marvellous which stated that the table was the work of the Djinn, or Genii, the mighty spirits of the air, whom the wise king Solomon had subdued and who obeyed his commands. After Solomon’s time it was kept among the holy treasures of the temple, and became one of the richest spoils of the Romans when they captured and sacked Jerusalem. It afterwards became the prize of a king of Spain, perhaps in the way stated above.

Thus fancy has adorned the rich and beautiful work of art which Don Roderic is said to have found in the enchanted palace, and which he placed as the noblest of the treasures of Spain in the splendid church of Toledo, the Gothic capital. This city fell into the hands of Tarik el Tuerto in his conquering progress through the realm of Spain, and the emerald table, whose fame had reached the shores of Africa, was sought by him far and near.

It had disappeared from the church, perhaps carried off by the bishop in his flight. But fast as the fugitives fled, faster rode the Arab horsemen on their track, one swift troop riding to Medina Celi, on the high road to Saragossa. On this route they came to a city named by them Medinatu-l-Mayidah (city of the table), in which they found the famous talisman. They brought it to Tarik as one of the choicest spoils of Spain.

Its later history is as curious and much more authentic than its earlier. Tarik, as we have told in the previous tale, had been sent to Andalusia by Musa, the caliph’s viceroy in Africa, simply that he might gain a footing in the land, whose conquest Musa reserved for himself. But the impetuous Tarik was not to be restrained. No sooner was Roderic slain and his army dispersed than the Arab cavaliers spread far and wide through Spain, city after city falling into their hands, until it seemed as if nothing would be left for Musa to conquer.

This state of affairs was far from agreeable to the jealous and ambitious viceroy. He sent messengers to the caliph at Damascus, in which he claimed the conquest of Spain as his own, and barely mentioned the name of the real conqueror. He severely blamed Tarik for presuming to conquer a kingdom without direct orders, and, gathering an army, he crossed to Spain, that he might rightfully claim a share in the glory of the conquest.