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Title: The Cid Campeador - A Historical Romance
Author: Trueba, António de, 1821?-1889
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE

CID CAMPEADOR



_A HISTORICAL ROMANCE_



BY

D. ANTONIO DE TRUEBA Y LA QUINTANA



Translated from the Spanish

BY

HENRY J. GILL, M.A., T.C.D.



LONDON
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
AND NEW YORK
1895


[_All rights reserved_]



PREFACE


The "Cid Campeador" has been for centuries the great popular hero of
Spain. He takes the same place in that country as King Arthur does in
England, Roland, or Rolando, in France, and William Tell in Switzerland;
and, like them, his life and exploits are, to a great extent, founded on
popular traditions. In English-speaking countries there is very little
known respecting him, and the translator ventures to place before the
public a work which is considered by Spaniards to be one of the best
historical romances in their literature. It is founded on a large number
of ballads and other poetical pieces, extant in Spain for centuries, and
on a very old work named "The Chronicle of the Cid."

The Author writes in his Introduction: "The Cid is the most popular of
the Castilian heroes, and not without reason, for in him are personified
all the virtues of the citizen and of the soldier. A good son, he
avenges the insults offered to his father by bravely fighting with the
Count of Gormaz: a good cavalier and faithful lover, he gives his hand
and heart to the daughter of the man whom he had slain in fair combat: a
good monarchist, he risks the anger of King Alfonzo by compelling him to
take an oath that he was not guilty of a crime which would stain the
throne of Fernando the Great: a good soldier and a good vassal, he
conquers, with his invincible sword, hostile realms and Moorish kings,
and lays at the feet of his sovereign, who had unjustly banished him,
the spoils which he had won and the countries of which he had made
himself master: a good patrician, loving the glory and the preponderance
of his native land, he proceeds to Rome, enters the Church of St. Peter,
and seeing in the place of honour the seat of the representative of
France, he breaks it in pieces, filled with indignation, and puts in its
place that of the representative of Spain: and finally, a good
Christian, a good husband, and a good father; before entering into the
combats, when calling upon God, he also uses the names of his wife and
children, over whom he had wept when parting from them,--he who, in
battle, showed a heart more hard than the armour which covered it."



CONTENTS


    CHAP.                                                   PAGE

       I. WHICH TREATS OF SOME LOVE AFFAIRS WHICH COMMENCED
             ALMOST WHEN OTHERS END   .         .         .    1

      II. IN WHICH CERTAIN FESTIVITIES ARE DESCRIBED, WHICH
             ENDED WITH A BLOW ON A FACE        .         .   10

     III. IN WHICH THE READER WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED
             TO RODRIGO AND HIS SQUIRE BETWEEN LEON AND
             VIVAR.         .         .         .         .   16

      IV. IN WHICH THE MAIDEN, IN ADDITION TO HER OWN
             STORY, RELATES CERTAIN MATTERS, WHICH WILL
             ROUSE THE ANGER OF THOSE WHO READ OF THEM    .   22

       V. HOW RODRIGO AND HIS SQUIRE WERE RECEIVED AT
             VIVAR.         .         .         .         .   29

      VI. HOW FERNAN DESPAIRED OF GETTING WOMEN TO
             UNDERSTAND REASON, AND HOW DIEGO LAINEZ
             HOPED THAT HIS HONOUR WOULD BE AVENGED       .   37

     VII. HOW RODRIGO FOUGHT WITH THE COUNT OF GORMAZ     .   42

    VIII. HOW XIMENA DEMANDED JUSTICE FROM THE KING
             AGAINST RODRIGO DIAZ     .         .         .   49

      IX. HOW A MOORISH PRINCESS WAS CONVERTED, AND HOW
             A SOLITARY CEASED TO BE SUCH       .         .   55

       X. HOW MARTIN SET OUT TO AVENGE HIS FATHER         .   60

      XI. HOW THE DE VIVAR FAMILY RECEIVED LETTERS FROM
             THE KING, DON FERNANDO   .         .         .   71

     XII. THE COMBAT BETWEEN RODRIGO AND MARTIN GONZALEZ  .   80

    XIII. OF AN UNEXPECTED VISIT WHICH XIMENA RECEIVED IN
             HER RETREAT    .         .         .         .   87

     XIV. HOW RODRIGO AND XIMENA WERE MARRIED, AND HOW
             THE DEVIL TERRIFIED THE PEOPLE OF BURGOS     .   95

      XV. HOW RODRIGO BECAME THE POSSESSOR OF BABIECA,
             AND WHAT HAPPENED WHILST HE WAS RIDING HIM   .  105

     XVI. HOW RODRIGO ROUSED UP THE COUNTRY, AND DEFEATED
             THE MOORS IN THE MOUNTAINS OF OCA  .         .  113

    XVII. HOW THE ARMY OF RODRIGO MARCHED BACK TO BURGOS
             WITHOUT BEING WEARIED, AS THE READER MAY BE  .  122

   XVIII. HOW THE VENGADOR AND RUI-VENABLOS, ALTHOUGH
             ONLY BANDITS, THOUGHT AS CAVALIERS .         .  129

     XIX. HOW THE SINGLE PAINT THE LIFE OF THE MARRIED    .  136

      XX. HOW THE COUNT OF CARRION GAINED NOTHING BY
             BULLYING       .         .         .         .  145

     XXI. HOW ONE MOOR REMAINED, AND FIVE WENT AWAY       .  152

    XXII. HOW THE BAND OF THE VENGADOR ATTACKED THE
             CASTLE OF CARRION        .         .         .  161

   XXIII. IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT COLD AND LOVE
             ARE NOT INCOMPATIBLE     .         .         .  170

    XXIV. HOW TWO WOMEN DISCUSSED THE MAKING OF THEIR
             FORTUNES--HOW TWO CHILDREN DIVERTED
             THEMSELVES--AND HOW TWO MEN PLOTTED TREASON  .  178

     XXV. WHAT HAPPENED TO RODRIGO ON THE ROAD TO
             COMPOSTELA     .         .         .         .  187

    XXVI. HOW THE VENGADOR AND RUI-VENABLOS CHANGED
             THEIR OPINION REGARDING BELLIDO    .         .  198

   XXVII. HOW TERESA AND GUILLEN BELIEVED THAT GOD HAD
             TOUCHED THE HEART OF DON SUERO     .         .  206

  XXVIII. HOW THE COUNT OF CABRA SANG A BALLAD FOR THE
             COUNT OF CARRION         .         .         .  217

    XXIX. HOW THE KING AND RODRIGO, HAVING SAID GOOD
             PRAYERS, GAVE GOOD SWORD STROKES   .         .  226

     XXX. HOW ONE GOOD MAN CAN MAKE A HUNDRED GOOD ALSO   .  233

    XXXI. IN WHICH THE PROVERB, "LET THE MIRACLE BE
             WROUGHT, EVEN THOUGH THE DEVIL DOES IT,"
             IS JUSTIFIED   .         .         .         .  245

   XXXII. IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT HE WHO SOWS REAPS,
             AND IN WHICH IT IS SEEN THAT THEY WHO GIVE
             RECEIVE        .         .         .         .  257

  XXXIII. IN WHICH WE CONTINUE TO PROVE THAT THE CID
             WAS A CID IN EVERY WAY   .         .         .  266

   XXXIV. WHICH TREATS OF CAVALIERS FREE WITH THE HAND
             AND PEASANTS FREE WITH THE TONGUE  .         .  276

    XXXV. OF THE SORROWS WHICH THE COWARDLY DON SUERO
             CAUSED HIS SISTER        .         .         .  283

   XXXVI. THE KING IS DEAD--LONG LIVE THE KING  .         .  293

  XXXVII. HOW CERTAIN CAVALIERS WENT FOR WOOL AND CAME
             BACK SHORN     .         .         .         .  302

 XXXVIII. HOW THE PEASANT OF BARBADILLO WENT TO BURGOS,
             WITH OTHER THINGS WHICH THE READER WILL
             LEARN.         .         .         .         .  310

   XXXIX. HOW THE CID AVENGED HIMSELF ON THE COUNT OF
              CABRA.         .         .         .        .  321

      XL. HOW THE COUNT OF CARRION WOUND THE SKEIN AND
              HOW OTHERS UNWOUND IT    .         .        .  331

     XLI. FROM BURGOS TO VIVAR         .         .        .  337

    XLII. FROM VIVAR TO CARRION        .         .        .  344

   XLIII. HOW A GOOD CAVALIER WAS CHARGED WITH AN EVIL
              MESSAGE        .         .         .        .  350

    XLIV. THE SIEGE OF ZAMORA.         .         .        .  357

     XLV. IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT ONE CAN FIGHT WITHOUT
              CONQUERING OR BEING CONQUERED      .        .  365

    XLVI. THE OATH IN SANTA GADEA      .         .        .  372

   XLVII. IN WHICH THIS BOOK ENDS, PROVING THAT GOD
              GIVES IN THIS WORLD, BOTH TO THE GOOD AND
              TO THE BAD, A SAMPLE OF THE CLOTH WHICH
              THEY SHALL WEAR IN THE OTHER WORLD .        .  379



THE CID CAMPEADOR



CHAPTER I

WHICH TREATS OF SOME LOVE AFFAIRS WHICH COMMENCED ALMOST WHEN OTHERS
END


Joyous festivities were being celebrated at the Court of Leon in the
spring of A.D. 1053. Don Fernando I., King of Castile and Leon, had
journeyed to Najera to visit his brother Don Garcia, King of Navarre,
who was sojourning, in bad health, in that town; but, having learned
that Don Garcia desired to take him prisoner, on account of certain
matters which were pending between them, regarding the partition of
their late father's kingdom, he quickly withdrew to a place of safety.
Don Garcia having gone, in his turn, to visit his brother, was
incarcerated in the Castle of Cea. However, having succeeded in escaping
from it, he summoned the Moors to his aid, and entered Castile,
determined on revenge, and committed horrible atrocities. Don Fernando
sallied forth to meet him, engaged with him at Atapuerca, not far from
Burgos, and the invading army was completely routed. Don Garcia was
killed by a lance-wound inflicted on him by a soldier named Sancho
Fortun, who had gone over to the service of Don Fernando.

This, then, was the occasion of the festivities to which we have
alluded, festivities which had attracted to the Court great numbers of
ladies and cavaliers, not alone from Castile and Leon, but also from the
other kingdoms, into which, at that time, Spain was divided. There had
been various games, and a splendid tournament had taken place, in which
Don Fernando had broken lances with the bravest and most polished
cavaliers of the period--a period so celebrated for skilful jousters and
valiant warriors.

Night having come on, the dances, games, and jousts ceased, and great
bonfires were lighted up in the open places of the town and in the
surrounding fields, where the people continued the rejoicings until the
approach of morning. They mingled their songs and acclamations with the
continuous clanging of the bells and the sounds of the rustic musical
instruments used in those times, until the ladies and cavaliers filled
up the halls of the royal Alcazar. In them was to be celebrated a ball
well worthy of the festivities that had taken place on that memorable
day, the remembrance of which both Castilians and Leonese preserved for
long years after, on account of the favours which their king dealt out
to them with a generous hand.

If we were to paint with rich and vivid colours the halls in which was
assembled the Court of Don Fernando, we should perchance please readers
fond of the marvellous and magnificent. The picture would indeed be very
effective, but we should fail in strict adherence to truth, and in our
intention to sacrifice everything for its sake, during the long course
of events which we are about to describe. The spirit of independence
which reigned at that period in Castile had driven out the Eastern
luxury which the Moslims were in the habit of displaying, during four
centuries, in the southern parts of Spain. The contemporaries of the Cid
were as brave and manly as the heroes of Covadonga, but also as rude and
simple-minded as the first champions of the Holy Crusade, who had
succeeded in driving back into the African deserts the impious followers
of the Crescent. Light and flowers were the riches which abounded in the
halls of the Alcazar of Leon--light and flowers which are the riches of
the fields, the luxury of nature. However, if any discontented person
found those decorations too insignificant, he must have found
compensation in the beauteous dames and brave knights who moved about in
all directions, evidently well pleased and content. All were impatiently
awaiting the arrival of the king, which was to be the prelude to the
dancing and to the other amusements proper to the occasion and to the
period, when the voice of a page was heard above the buzz of the crowd,
announcing the approach of Don Fernando and his family. A profound
silence reigned throughout the saloons, and all looks were fixed on the
door which communicated with the royal apartments. And, indeed, Don
Fernando immediately appeared, accompanied by his queen Doña Sancha, by
his daughters Elvira and Urraca, by his sons, Sancho, Alfonso, and
Garcia, and by some grandees who, during the day, had had the honour of
accompanying him, and whom the king had invited to his table. Amongst
these last universal attention was centred on an old man of noble
appearance, to whom Don Fernando directed his conversation frequently
and with great kindness. That old grandee was the noble Diego Lainez,
lord of Vivar.

We have said that all looks were fixed on the royal family, but for our
credit sake, as true and accurate narrators, we must make an exception.
At one end of the principal hall a gentle maiden, who might count
perhaps twenty summers, was conversing, without paying attention to
their arrival, with a handsome youth not much more advanced in years.
The importunities of a rather ancient dueña, who evidently feared that
they might be noticed, judging from the terrified way in which she
frequently gazed around, did not succeed in interrupting their
confidential chat, which to all appearance was of an amatory character.
The two young persons were Ximena, daughter of the Count de Gormaz, and
Rodrigo, son of Diego Lainez; the elderly lady, who showed herself so
uneasy, was Lambra, the dueña of the young girl.

The conversation between them was indeed of the nature mentioned above,
for Rodrigo and Ximena loved each other from the years of their
childhood, and love was always the subject of their conversations. Let
us tell how the son of Diego Lainez and the daughter of Don Gome de
Gormaz first became lovers. Bonds of friendship and relationship--the
latter, however, rather distant--had united for very many years the two
families. On the occasion of the celebration of certain famous
tournaments at Vivar, Don Gome and his family repaired thither, and were
hospitably lodged in the house of Diego Lainez. Rodrigo at that time was
four years old, and Ximena, whose parents had brought her with them to
Vivar, but little younger. Diego Lainez, to do honour to his friends,
gave a banquet sufficiently splendid and abundant, when the traditional
frugality in his household is taken into consideration. On this occasion
the two gentlemen renewed their pledges of friendship.

Teresa Nuña, the noble wife of Diego, loved her son with a tenderness
only to be compared with that with which the wife of De Gormaz loved her
daughter. The children rivalled each other in beauty and grace, and the
two mothers started a friendly and praiseworthy discussion on that
subject, after the termination of the banquet. We call it praiseworthy,
because maternal pride is noble and holy, although it may appear
unreasonable to those who judge it dispassionately. That controversy
ended by all those present, including the fathers of the children,
agreeing that they were equal in beauty and grace, as they were almost
equal in age.

"They seem made for each other," said Teresa Nuña. And from that opinion
a thought took birth which was received with enthusiasm by both
families--to enlace more and more their interests and friendship by the
union of Rodrigo and Ximena. The realisation of this project was
arranged for the time when the two fair scions of those noble families
would have completed their twentieth years; for in that iron age all the
risks to life and health attending the too early marriages of young
girls were, with good reason, avoided.

Love, and above all the love of a mother, is the source of the most
beautiful and poetic thoughts; thus it was that Teresa was inspired with
a very beautiful idea. It was, that the children should consecrate this
arrangement for their future union with a kiss, which also should be the
pledge of a love that commenced on that day. Teresa Nuña, therefore,
took Rodrigo by the hand and led him up to Ximena; he then sealed with
his pure lips the blushing cheek of the girl, who, in her turn, kissed
that of Rodrigo.

This compact was a bond which made the intercourse of the two families
more close than it had been before, and the two children grew up like
two flowers on one stem--brother and sister in their education as they
were also in their souls.

Many years passed, and nothing had disturbed the warm friendship of the
two noble families; however, some special privileges conferred on Diego
Lainez at the Court of King Fernando, with whom the two grandees had
enjoyed much favour, irritated De Gormaz, whose nature, to judge by some
circumstances which had arisen anterior to those which afterwards took
place, was widely different, in nobleness and generosity, from that of
Diego. Indeed, thanks to the prudence of the latter, a complete
estrangement had been avoided until a short time before the events which
we have narrated at the beginning of this chapter; but at last De Gormaz
took the initiative by ordering his daughter to have no communication
whatever with Rodrigo, threatening Lambra to expel her from his
household if she permitted such.

On the day of which we are now treating the exasperation and the anger
of De Gormaz rose to their highest point, on account of the kindness
shown by the king to Diego, and, on the other hand, by the coldness with
which he himself had been received, and above all, by the slight which
he considered had been cast on him, by his not having been invited to
the royal table, as had been Diego Lainez, to whom he attributed his
disgrace with the king. Certainly Diego was very far indeed from
meriting such an accusation on the part of his former friend, for on
that very day he had done his utmost to rehabilitate him in the eyes of
Don Fernando; the king, however, had just motives for complaint against
the count, and the good offices of De Vivar had been unavailing.

At the moment when the entry of the royal family into the saloons of the
Alcazar was announced, Don Gome was passing through them, accompanied by
his daughter. Although feeling much resentment, on account of the
coldness of the king, he did not wish to renounce all chance of
recovering the favour of Don Fernando, provoking afresh his resentment
by abstaining from joining his suite, and thus acting differently from
all the other cavaliers who were passing through the saloons. It so
happened that, charging Lambra with the care of his daughter, he
advanced towards the royal family. Rodrigo, who was watching for an
opportunity to speak to the young girl, saw heaven opened when he
perceived that she was free from the presence of her father, and flew to
her side despite the anxiety which he knew it would cause the dueña.

Many days had passed since Ximena had seen him, and it is easy to
imagine what was her pleasure, taking into account the tender and old
love which united them.

"Ximena!" murmured Rodrigo in a low voice, trembling with emotion.

"Rodrigo!" whispered the girl, without being able to add another word.

"By all the saints of the heavenly court," said the terrified dueña,
directing an entreating gesture to Rodrigo, "I ask you to depart hence,
for if the count sees you it will go ill with my lady and with me. You
doubtless do not know that he has threatened to cut my skirts short, in
order to disgrace me, if I allow my lady to hold any converse with you.
I beseech you to do nothing to increase his anger, as things have not
gone well with him to-day."

"Fear nothing, honoured dueña," replied Rodrigo, "for if the count cuts
your skirts short I shall give you others made of the richest cloth."

"I know well that you are a cavalier, and it is the prerogative of
cavaliers to be generous. Speak with my lady; but be brief. I shall
meantime keep watch, and say my beads that my lord may not see ye."

Rodrigo and Ximena were already conversing, not paying the slightest
attention to the words of Lambra.

"Rodrigo," said Ximena, "whither have gone those happy times when the
houses of De Vivar and De Gormaz were as one trunk with two branches;
when no cloud obscured the bright sky of our loves; when we saw the
distant horizon rosy and beautiful before us; when I found in your
parents the love which you found in mine? Vain have been your efforts,
vain have been mine, and vain also have been those of your friends and
mine, to appease the enmity which now separates our noble parents."

"That time, Ximena, has not, perhaps, passed away never to return. My
father, the son of Lain Calvo, although old, preserves, in youthful
luxuriance, the noble pride of ancestry, and it would not correspond
with such dignity if he were to bear with patience the unjust suspicions
with which your father has responded to his friendship. For a long time
he has borne them, Ximena. I indeed might humiliate myself before your
father, without such humiliation casting a stain on me, for I would do
it for your sake, and no reproach could be directed against him who
humiliates himself for a lady. What does your father desire? Honours;
riches; a kingdom; a throne for his daughter? You shall have all that,
Ximena, I swear it by our love and by the honour of my ancestors. My arm
is strong and my heart full of courage. Even to-morrow I shall set out
for the country of our enemies. I shall enter the territory of the
Moors, I shall fight as Bernardo fought at Roncesvalles, and I shall be
victorious; for that love, which I have cherished for you during so many
years, will make me invincible; and I shall lay all at the feet of your
father, demanding, as a recompense, your hand and the return of the
friendship which, at one time, was equal to ours for him."

"Good heavens!" said Doña Lambra, "my lord is just coming, and you, Don
Rodrigo, will be the victim of his anger; and if he cuts my skirts
short, good-bye to those of rich cloth!"

The two lovers paid little attention to the inquietude and the
ridiculous words of the dueña.

"I know well, Ximena," continued Rodrigo, "that your father will use
every means in order to avenge his supposed injuries on mine, and
perchance I, the idol of Diego Lainez, shall be the first victim of his
attempts; for, in order to wound the heart of the father, he will wound
that of the son, by taking from me the hope of gaining the sole object
of my ambition, which is yourself, Ximena. However, if the love which
you often have sworn to me is real, if you hold in any account the
happiness, the hopes, the life of the companion of your childhood, of
him who has dreamed of such felicity with you, you will know how to
resist his endeavours until the day shall come when Rodrigo will return
to Castile, worthy of the daughter of a king. Then pride will compel him
to grant that which his ambition, thwarted in its hopes, now denies to
me."

"I swear to you," answered Ximena, in one of those bursts of enthusiasm
in which, without taking reason into account, all things appear possible
to us,--"I swear to you that nothing in this world shall be able to
conquer my resolve,--I shall be the wife of Rodrigo or of none other. My
father may be able to extinguish the breath of my lungs, but never the
love of my heart."

"Ah!" exclaimed Rodrigo, "blessed was the day when my eyes first looked
on you! Perhaps, without the love of Ximena, Rodrigo Diaz would be one
of those plants which spring up, live, and die, without having borne any
fruit; one of those men who pass through the world without leaving a
trace which might point out his path to those who come after him; your
love, however, will immortalise his name; by him the plains of Castile
will be stained by Moslim blood; through him the standard of Mahomet
will be trampled under foot by the Christian kingdoms; in him the weak
and the oppressed shall have an arm to sustain and defend them; and
through him the race of the Counts of Castile shall wear the royal
purple."

Whilst thus speaking, forgetting where he was, the cheeks of Rodrigo
flushed, his broad and noble brow lit up, and his eyes sparkled, as if
all the fire that inflamed his heart flew to his head. The eyes of
Ximena shone also with joy, and her heart beat with violence, agitated
by love and pride,--by pride, for the daughter of a king would have felt
it, knowing she was loved by such a generous and brave youth, to whom
she desired to return, in her ardent glances, all the treasures of love
which were shut up in her soul.

The anxiety of Lambra was increasing every moment, and not without
cause; for the crowd which had collected around the royal family,
curiosity being satisfied, was moving off and distributing itself
through the saloons; and the honoured dueña feared the return of her
master, or that someone might notice her complacency and report it to
him.

"Ah! my skirts!" she said, moving in between Ximena and Rodrigo, "my
master is coming, and he will cut them short without remedy!"

A group of cavaliers came from the farthest end of the hall, and Rodrigo
thought he saw amongst them Don Gome.

"Adieu, Ximena," the young man hastened to say; "either everything or
nothing, either death or Ximena!"

"Either Rodrigo or nothing!" replied the young girl, following with her
glances her lover, who was just issuing from the halls of the Alcazar at
the instant that the count was returning to the side of his daughter.

An unusual joyous expression could be noticed on the visage of Don Gome,
which but shortly before was gloomy, and frequently contracted by anger.
The cause of this was, that the Count de Gormaz, far from receiving, as
he feared, a fresh slight from the king, had met with a kind reception,
which, as he had not anticipated it, doubly pleased him. To what was due
this sudden change in the feelings of the monarch? It was caused by the
endeavours which Diego Lainez, taking advantage of the mood in which the
king was on that day to grant favours, had used, with the object of
restoring his former friend to the royal favour. The monarch ultimately
had yielded to his solicitations, promising to show marks of kindness to
the grandee De Gormaz, in the presence of the entire Court. And indeed
the king had done so; when Don Gome had approached him in the saloons of
the Alcazar. Don Fernando had succeeded in concealing his resentment,
and received him with the same kindness which he exhibited towards Diego
Lainez himself.

"Ximena, my daughter!" exclaimed the count, pressing her in his arms,
for he required some means of showing his content, "the king, despite my
calumniators, has remembered my services, and restored me to his favour.
Don Fernando, who knows how much I love you,--that you are the dearest
thing that your father possesses, and that honouring you he honours
me,--desires to see you, and has commanded me to lead you to him."

Pleasure, in turn, shone on the countenance of Ximena; it was not,
however, the same kind of pleasure which her father experienced; it was
not that joy which proceeds from satisfied vanity. The reason for it
was, that Ximena loved her father, although she was well acquainted with
his defects, and desired his happiness, whatever might be the occasion
of it. A ray of hope now brightened up her heart--the hope that the old
friendly relations between the two families might be renewed, the
consequence of which would be the return of those happy times when no
obstacle was interposed between her and her lover. Pure and loving souls
are as much inclined towards hope as towards despair; Ximena, therefore,
ran over in her mind, in a brief space of time, those conflicting
sentiments, and passed from darkness to light, from death to life.

Her father then led her into the presence of the king, from whom, as
well as from the queen and the royal children, she received a most kind
reception. The many different experiences, which she had passed through
on that day, had in no way rendered her less beautiful than usual, and a
murmur of admiration arose amongst the ladies and cavaliers who were
accompanying the royal family when Ximena approached. De Gormaz smiled
with satisfaction and pride; and Diego Lainez, contemplating for the
thousandth time so much beauty and nobleness of expression, could not
help thinking, "My Rodrigo will be a hero if she commands it; he will
gain a throne if she asks him for one!" And a similar thought most
likely came into the minds of many others, for no one connected with the
Court was ignorant of the old love that united Ximena and Rodrigo, nor
of the influence that the maiden exercised on the soul of the valiant
youth who was the pride of the family of De Vivar, and the hope of the
good Castilians and Leonese.



CHAPTER II

IN WHICH CERTAIN FESTIVITIES ARE DESCRIBED, WHICH ENDED WITH A BLOW ON A
FACE


The numerous guests who occupied the saloons of the Alcazar were
devoting themselves, joyously and noisily, to the various amusements
which the magnificent festival provided; whilst the king and the royal
princes were familiarly conversing with the group of cavaliers that
surrounded them; and the queen and princesses, amidst another group
composed of beautiful women, were amusing themselves also with pleasant
conversation. It could be easily seen, however, that if the queen
devoted most attention to Ximena, the father of the latter was not
obtaining similar favour from the king, notwithstanding the apparent
kindness with which he had been received only a very short time before.
Affection which does not proceed from the heart cannot long sustain its
fictitious semblance, and, in a moment of forgetfulness, the mask which
conceals it falls off, and the cold visage of indifference appears. Such
was the case with regard to Don Gome, and, on the other hand, the
sincere and wise monarch was openly showing the real affection which he
felt for De Vivar.

"Gentlemen," said the king, addressing the cavaliers who surrounded him,
"as a brother I have lamented the death of Don Garcia, but as a king,
obliged to sacrifice the warmest affections of my heart to the good of
the kingdom, which God has entrusted to me to rule over and govern, I
must rejoice at the victory obtained by the Castilian and Leonese arms
at Atapuerca. In celebrating that glorious triumph I have given proofs
of my munificence to the commoners, my vassals. It would not be well
that the cavaliers who assist at my Court should be debarred from
participating in my favours, according to their merits. You, noble and
loyal Peranzures, I appoint major-domo of my Alcazar; as you have served
my State so well, with your sword in battle and with your wisdom at the
Court and in the councils, I know you will also faithfully serve my
household. To you, honoured Arias Gonzalo, I entrust my treasures,
feeling sure that they will increase under your supervision. To you,
noble and prudent Diego Lainez, I confide the care and education of my
sons, as I feel sure that, having instructed your own son so well, you
will act similarly with regard to mine. You well know how I love the
princes; placing them in your charge is the greatest proof of friendship
and confidence that a king can give to a subject, and I now tell you
that if I could give you a greater proof I would heartily do so. You,
the most faultless cavalier and the most honoured and prudent of the
grandees of Castile, will cultivate the talents of my sons, so that the
crowns which one day shall encircle their brows may sit well on them.
God gave me three kingdoms, and I shall leave one to each of them. You,
brave Count de Gormaz, shall be, from to-day, the General of the Leonese
and Castilian troops, in the place of Diego Lainez and Peranzures, whose
arms have been weakened by age and by the constant wielding of the sword
and lance. You have given me proofs of your courage, fighting against
the Moorish power, and I doubt not but that you, and the cavaliers who
surround you, will serve me well, some by their valour in battle, and
others by their loyalty and wisdom."

Peranzures, Arias Gonzalo, and Diego Lainez bent their knees and kissed
the hand of the king, in order to thank him for the great favours which
he had conferred on them, as was their duty as good and grateful
subjects; De Gormaz, however, when his turn came, gave loose reins to
the anger which had been accumulating in his heart whilst the other
cavaliers were being thus addressed, especially De Vivar, who appeared
to him to have been unjustly favoured by the king, whose coldness
towards himself he attributed to the evil counsels of the honoured old
man, who indeed was far from deserving such a suspicion.

"Sire," he said to the king, directing his glances from time to time
towards Diego Lainez, "the Count de Gormaz would be a fawning courtier,
and not an honourable cavalier, if he were to thank the king for favours
which he does not receive. If flatterers alone please you, do not hope
to find one in me."

Another monarch, less prudent than Don Fernando, would have punished the
audacity and ingratitude of Don Gome, and would have put a bridle on the
tongue which had so rashly spoken; Don Fernando, however, restrained his
vexation, and allowed De Gormaz to express his resentment, even though
it were unjust, and even though he did it in terms unfitting a subject
in the presence of his king.

"You entrust, sire," continued Don Gome, "the education of your sons to
a feeble old man, as if they should be reared up to be monks, or as if
you should desire them to be as effeminate as women; and, to favour a
debilitated flatterer, you forget, sire, my services and the valour with
which I have always served you! If you desire that the princes should be
good cavaliers, skilful in breaking a lance in a joust, and daring and
prudent in attacking a squadron of Moors, to whom should you confide
their training? Is it to an old man, whose hand can scarce hold the
staff which supports him, or to me, who have valour in my heart and
strength in my arm to brandish a sword, not only against the infidel,
but against all who dare to doubt the truth of what I say? If there is
any such, I stand prepared to meet him!"

Speaking thus, Don Gome advanced insultingly towards Diego Lainez,
provoking him by his look as well as by his words.

The old man looked towards the king and curbed his righteous
indignation, which, if it had not been restrained by the presence of his
sovereign, would have burst forth in rage; if not indeed with the aid of
the sword, which his aged hands could not wield, yet with the voice
which could be still energetic and terrible in defence of an honour
which nobody but the Count de Gormaz had ever dared to cast a slur on;
he then said--

"Sire, pardon me if in defending my outraged honour I pass beyond the
limits of the moderation which I should adhere to in the presence of my
lord and king." And he continued, fixing his gaze on De Gormaz: "Don
Gome, you are unjust in the highest degree if you think that I am a
flatterer and calumniator. Diego Lainez is grateful for the favours
which he receives from his king, but he never tries to win them, much
less by means of flattery and calumny. If the reasons which you have
brought forward, in order to prove that the king should have entrusted
to you, instead of to me, the education of the princes, have convinced
him, to whom I owe this mark of confidence, I shall renounce in your
favour so great an honour, although I consider it the most signal one
which has been conferred on me during my long life, consecrated almost
entirely to the service of my country. However, I do not think that
those reasons weigh much with the king. That weakness which you see in
my hand, those grey hairs which you see on my head, and those scars on
my face, only prove that I have lived longer than you, and that I have
not spent my life entirely in the saloons of the Court. If I can no
longer break a lance at a tournament, or enter into close quarters with
a hostile army, I can teach how to do both one and the other; you, who
learned those things from me, should be able to certify to that, and
respect me, if no longer as an old man, at least as your instructor."

The king recognised the unreasonableness of the count and the prudence
and moderation of De Vivar; he did not wish, however, to decide publicly
in favour of the one or of the other, for he knew the evils which a
complete rupture between those two noble families would cause to the
State, as both of them were powerful on account of their wealth and the
number of their partisans; therefore, to make the Count de Gormaz an
enemy was a thing which even a monarch might shrink from. Thus it was
that he thought it best to use his influence with a view to reconciling
both opponents, and thus continue in friendly relations with them.

"Leave aside," he therefore said to them, "those sad contentions, and
think only of renewing the friendship which, in times not far remote,
united you, and of serving your country and the religion of your
forefathers, now continually menaced by the Moors, for by no other means
can good Christian cavaliers give proof of their loyalty. Both of you
are strong pillars, to support our faith and my throne, and it would
never enter my mind to favour one of you to the prejudice of the other;
indeed, in order to recompense your merits I have desired that each of
you should fill the position which circumstances necessitate. When De
Vivar was robust and strong enough to wield a lance, he commanded the
Christian armies, and now that he can only serve me by his wisdom and
experience I confide to him a task for which those very qualities are
most necessary. You, Don Gome, are the most capable of commanding my
troops, and therefore I make you their leader. Some future day you will
be old, as Lainez now is, and then the king will utilise your wisdom and
loyalty in his household. Knowing that you are valiant and take pleasure
in the chances of war, I believed that it would not be pleasing to you
if I appointed you to a position in my Alcazar which only old men, as
Arias, Peranzures, and Lainez are, can properly fill; or, if not they,
only those cavaliers who, on account of a peaceful nature, are ill
suited for battlefields. Lainez, stretch forth your hand to Don Gome and
he will willingly clasp it."

The old man then held out his feeble hand, as if to seek that of the
count, desirous of pleasing the king, and of sacrificing his just
resentment for the sake of a reconciliation which might prevent many
evils to the State, and which might restore tranquillity to his
household. Perhaps, at that moment, he was also thinking of Rodrigo,
whose happiness depended on the renewal of friendly relations with De
Gormaz. Judge, however, of his surprise and indignation when he saw the
count draw his hand away, and heard him say in accents full of disdain--

"The hand of the Count of Gormaz never has clasped and never shall clasp
that of a culumniator."

"Don Gome!" exclaimed the honoured old man, assuming the haughtiness of
a cavalier deeply outraged, "before extending my hand again to you I
would cut it off. You--you are the culumniator, whose hand would have
stained mine if it touched it!"

"If it has not stained your hand," exclaimed the count, "take this, old
dotard; it will stain for ever your visage."

And with a blow on the face of the venerable old man he drew blood--the
blood of Diego Lainez, of him who in former times was the terror of the
Moors, the bravest cavalier of Castile, the son of Lain Calvo!

"Justice of God!" cried the outraged old man, vainly endeavouring, such
was his weakness, to return the blow of the coward and avenge the insult
which he had received; anger, however, stopped his voice, clouded his
visage, and made his head so dazed that he fell to the floor.

"Traitor! unworthy knight and bad subject!" exclaimed the king. "In my
presence you dared to raise your hand against an aged cavalier, who, old
as he is, is worth more than your entire race! As God lives, my
executioner shall cut off, to-morrow, in the public place of Leon, the
hand which has acted in so dastardly and cowardly a manner! My guard
here! My guard here!"

The voice of Don Fernando, however, was lost in the noise and uproar
which arose throughout the saloon. The ladies uttered terrified cries
and fled precipitately into the inner apartments of the Alcazar,
believing that they would find in them a refuge from the tumult; and the
cavaliers, divided into two parties, one in favour of Don Gome and the
other for Diego Lainez, placed their hands on their swords and broke out
into loud imprecations and threats, without paying any attention to the
presence, to the words, or to the authority of the king or of the
princes. At last Don Fernando succeeded in allaying the tumult just at
the moment when the old man was rising from the ground. He then clasped
him in his arms and pressed his lips on his cheek, as if to remove from
it the stain which the blow of De Gormaz had imprinted thereon. His
anger being calmed for the time, he was able to reflect, and the prudent
monarch thought that, if he insisted on arresting De Gormaz then and
there, torrents of blood would flow in the Alcazar and that
inextinguishable feuds would blaze up amongst the flower of the chivalry
of Leon and Castile. He remembered that the grandee De Vivar had
numerous champions, on whom he could rely to avenge such an affront, and
he considered it more prudent to defer the punishment of the count to a
later time. The voice of Diego was then heard in support of such a
decision.

"To Vivar, to my castle!" exclaimed the old man, tearing his hair, and
shedding the first tears which came from his eyes since he had girded on
the sword and buckled on the spurs of a knight. The outrage inflicted on
him had not disturbed his mind so much that he could not remember what
was due to the dwelling-place of the king, in whose presence no
honourable cavalier could draw his sword to avenge personal insults.

Diego Lainez was obeyed: a few minutes later he was journeying, in a
litter, on the road that led to Vivar, accompanied by many followers,
both on foot and on horseback; and the halls of the Alcazar became
deserted.

The Count de Gormaz had many partisans in Leon, as was proved by the
large number of cavaliers who thronged to his side when the friends of
De Vivar grasped the hilts of their swords, enraged by the vile offence
inflicted on the old man. However, when the tumult had been appeased,
when reflection forced them to realise on whose side was right, Don Gome
could scarcely have found a cavalier to draw sword in his defence. It
might be said on the following day that, in a few hours, the count had
lost all his friends, for those who had been hitherto firmly attached to
him were now content to remain neutral with regard to the matter of
which everyone was speaking.



CHAPTER III

IN WHICH THE READER WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO RODRIGO AND HIS SQUIRE
BETWEEN LEON AND VIVAR


We have seen Rodrigo quitting the Alcazar precisely at the time when the
pleasures of the ball and the fact of finding himself amongst the most
beautiful women of Leon and Castile should have made his remaining there
exceedingly agreeable. And whither was he going? What was his object in
departing from the centre of joyousness and pleasure? The chronicles do
not give much information on this occasion, as on many others, as to the
actions of our hero.

The tumult and bustle of the Court were insupportable to him; his uneasy
soul required calm and solitude; he desired to concentrate his thoughts
on one subject alone, on the love which, the more it was thwarted, the
more it became strong and burning in his heart. What were all those
beautiful women to him, all those elegant and noble cavaliers, all that
delicious music, all those amusements and dances, all that animation,
that life, that gaiety of the Court, if he could not continue his sweet
converse and his love-whisperings with Ximena--his love-dreams of love
and happiness of a former time? He had reflected that if he had gone to
take leave of his father, he could not do so without also taking leave
of the king and of the cavaliers who surrounded him, and in that case
they would all have endeavoured to prevent his abandoning the pleasures
of the ball, as it would be impossible for them to understand his desire
and the necessity he felt to be alone. He therefore returned to the
house in which he had apartments, and mounting a spirited steed, he rode
out from Leon, followed by Fernan Cardeña, a squire, who had formerly
been that of his father and now was his, for the prudent Diego had
transferred him to his son on the eve of the battle of Atapuerca, in
which Rodrigo fought for the first time. He knew that Fernan, on account
of his valour, his joyous and sprightly disposition, his experience, and
above all, his loyalty, was, amongst all his vassals, the most fitted to
accompany and serve the youth. Speaking strictly, the name of squire
could scarcely be given to Fernan, considering the functions he
performed with regard to Rodrigo, and the duties which were usually
fulfilled by those that bore that name. Fernan was in reality a
companion to Rodrigo; he might be considered as his military tutor
rather than as his squire; and judging by the arms, both offensive and
defensive, which he carried, he might almost have been mistaken for a
cavalier.

The night was calm and beautiful, and a brilliant moon illumined the
country lying around Leon, which was also enlivened by the shouts of the
peasants, still engaged in their dances, and by their songs and
acclamations. Some excited by the light of the bonfires, some by that of
the moon, and some indeed by the abundant draughts of the juice of the
grape, which they had indulged in, drinking to the health of Don
Fernando, who had shown himself so liberal to everyone on that memorable
day.

"By Judas Iscariot!" said Fernan to himself, "it appears to me as if
they were a band of witches, celebrating their Sabbath around those
bonfires, having bewitched my lord and master. He, who was always in
good humour and fond of conversing with me on assaults and battles, and
of the Moorish dogs spitted on my lance, does not now seem to care a pin
where he goes or what he sees, and rides on as silent as the dead.
However, it is my opinion that it is that Ximena who has bewitched him,
she whom he intended to marry before the falling out of Don Gormaz--may
God confound him!--with De Vivar, whom I pray God may bless. Certainly
that maiden is a dainty bit, not alone for a hidalgo, but for an
emperor; notwithstanding, I don't see why my master should so put
himself about for any woman, be she noble or simple. There are many more
women than men, for, whilst we go to the wars and half of us are left
there, they, the minxes, remain peaceably in their homes, waiting till
God, who created them, takes their lives, and the numbers that there are
of them everywhere is becoming a regular plague. Then, if there are two
women for every man, is it not simple nonsense and foolery to make such
a fuss about losing one of them. Oh, how little would the son of my
mother be troubled if he were to lose the two that fall to his share,
for neither of them will let him enjoy her love, with their jealousies
and quarrellings. We shall arrive at Vivar to-morrow morning, if the
pace at which we are going does not kill our horses, and I swear by the
name I bear, that I will not let Mayorica, the maid of my lady Doña
Teresa, ill-treat and persecute me by her jealousies. For, if two women
fall to the lot of each man, why must one of them get enraged if he
should love the other? By the soul of Beelzebub, why should I get out of
temper on account of such unreasonable conduct on the part of women? But
the selfishness of my master gives me much pain, and I feel it on my
conscience to divert him a little, for the mind must be distracted if
this tedious journey is to be made any way bearable. These roads are
rougher than those of glory, and this continuous trot does not conduce
to bodily comfort."

Thus reflecting, Fernan applied his long rowelled spurs to his horse and
soon joined his master.

"We have a fine night, sir," he said to him; but Rodrigo still continued
pensive, urged on his steed without intermission, and did not make any
reply.

"We have not yet heard the cock crow at the inns we are leaving behind
us, and our journey is half over; it appears to me that we might
somewhat slacken our pace, for, without killing ourselves or our horses,
we can easily arrive at Vivar before midday."

Rodrigo did not seem to hear, and Fernan continued--

"This night reminds me of one on which, being in the service of your
father, we gave good account of a squadron of Moors who were about
setting fire to the harvests in the country of the Christians."

Rodrigo still continued absorbed in his meditations, but Fernan was not
yet vanquished. He had just touched, without effect, one of the chords
which most easily vibrated in the heart of his master--that of war; he
now made up his mind to touch the other--that of love.

"We shall spend much less time to-night in the journey from Leon to
Vivar, than when you, your father, and I journeyed from Vivar to Leon,
accompanying Doña Ximena."

Rodrigo started on hearing the name of his beloved; and Fernan, whom the
movement did not escape, said to himself--

"It is certainly Ximena who has bewitched him with those eyes of hers,
which are bright as the morning star. May Mayorica tear out my eyes when
we arrive at Vivar, if it is not of that maiden he is thinking!"

The good squire was not wrong; the enamoured youth was thinking of his
Ximena, was reflecting on the happiness which he had enjoyed when at her
side, and was considering what were the probabilities of its being
renewed, and of his securing her for himself.

"How happy," he reflected, "were the days which we passed near each
other, sometimes in my father's mansion at Vivar, sometimes in that of
her father at Gormaz! When we were children we believed that a tightly
tied knot bound us together, although we were ignorant of its nature; we
only knew that we loved each other and could not cease from loving each
other; we grew up, and with our growth our love increased, and then we
began to feel that we knew the names we should have to call each other
by on some future day. Who could have told us then that a day would
come, when the union which our dearest hopes and those of our parents
looked forward to, should become little less than impossible? We were at
a tournament once, and when a knight splintered the lances which he had
to break, in order to be proclaimed victor, Ximena said to me, 'Rodrigo,
when you bind on the sword of a knight, you will combat thus, you will
conquer thus; and thus shall you receive the prize,--then your glory
shall be mine!' And when the queen of the tournament, seated on a
throne, gilt and adorned with garlands of flowers, presented the prize
to the victor, who knelt at the feet of her whose beauty was extolled by
the noblest and bravest cavaliers, I said to my Ximena, 'Some day you
will be the queen of the tournament and I the victor, to whom you will
hand the prize; all will applaud you and admire your beauty, and your
glory will increase that which the victory shall bring to me.' At other
times, swift as the butterflies and joyous as the birds, running through
the gardens which surrounded the castle of your father or of mine, or
seated under the shade of the trees in the woods, casting flowers into
the stream which rushed by them in its rapid course, or standing
together on the ramparts of the castle, gazing on the clear azure of the
sky, and breathing the perfume of the fields which the fresh breezes of
the night bore towards us, we dreamt of a life of love, of glory, and of
almost heavenly happiness."

At this point of his reflections Rodrigo Diaz had arrived, when Fernan
interrupted him, pronouncing the name of Ximena. They spoke for some
moments of the day to which the squire referred; however, as the youth
did not consider it prudent to give him any explications regarding his
love affairs, and as he could not well talk of matters therewith
connected, without having to refer to them, he changed the conversation.
Finding that he had to talk of something, as he saw that the squire was
resolved not to remain silent, he reverted to the subject which he
thought would please him, and began to talk of the wars.

Fernan, who of the six-and-thirty years which he counted had passed
twenty on fields of battle, distracted the attention of his master
completely from his amorous meditations. He related to him many
wonderful events, which the chronicler, to whom we owe much of what we
are relating, considered, for the most part, pure fables, but which
Rodrigo evidently believed, becoming at times very enthusiastic, and
breaking out into such exclamations as--"Ah! Moorish dogs!... By St.
James! that lance thrust was worth a king's treasure!... God's anger!
what a caitiff was that knight!--Oh that someone had been there to cut
off the wretch's head!"--and others of a similar kind.

About this time morning began to dawn, and the birds to sing in the
trees which overhung the road. Our travellers arrived at an inn, called
the Sign of the Moor. Fernan advised his master to dismount there, with
a view to strengthening a little the stomachs of both riders and horses.
Rodrigo assented, as he considered that, if love had taken away his
appetite, the case was different with regard to his squire and the tired
beasts.

They were just dismounting when they heard a noise, as of horses, in a
dark grove which was opposite the inn, and almost at the same time they
heard a voice which called out to them--

"To my rescue, cavaliers!"

"Halt, villains! for such ye are!" cried Rodrigo, grasping his sword and
preparing to attack the strangers.

"By the soul of Beelzebub!" shouted Fernan, "do not touch them; your
sword should not be used against this crew of bandits, for such they
must be, and moreover rustics from this neighbourhood. You shall see
what my lance can do with them."

Saying this, Fernan rushed on the men who were in the wood. His master
did not accompany him, as he felt that he should not use a knight's
sword, for the first time, in a fight with miserable highway
robbers--the sword with which he had been girt, only the day before, by
the King of Castile and Leon.

Whilst Fernan was fighting in the wood with those whom he considered
bandits, overthrowing each with a thrust of his strong lance, one of
them separated himself from his companions and rode rapidly to the inn.
When he reached it he dismounted hastily, gave a terrible blow to the
door, which caused it to fly into fragments, and entered, issuing forth,
an instant after, carrying another person, who appeared to be a woman.
He leaped on his horse with her, spurred it violently, and just then,
Rodrigo, who stood observing the scene, heard a voice which cried out--

"For the sake of God, sir knight, save a maiden who has been torn away
from her parents by those miserable ruffians!"

Rodrigo believed now that the occasion had arrived, when he could fulfil
one of the duties imposed on him by the oath he had sworn when he was
made a knight, which was to defend the weak and oppressed; and, placing
his hand on his sword, he closed with the abductor, who, in his turn,
drew his weapon, holding with his left hand both the bridle of his horse
and the young girl. The combat was fierce and obstinate; the
disadvantage caused to the unknown by having to hold his prey was
equalised by the caution which Rodrigo had to use, in order not to wound
her whom he was endeavouring to save; and, moreover, the leafy trees
dulled the early morning's light. The gallop of a horse was then heard,
which was coming in the direction of the combatants; the bandit turned
his head by an instinctive movement, doubtless to see if it were one of
his companions coming to his aid, and just at that moment the brave
youth thrust his sword through the neck-piece of his armour, causing him
to fall to the ground, pouring forth a stream of blood, and dragging
down with him the maiden, who had just fainted.

At that moment Fernan arrived, brandishing his heavy lance.

"Well done, sir! well done, I swear!" exclaimed the valiant squire, when
he saw that his master had triumphed over his adversary. "You are worthy
of your father, and have given good handsel to your sword; for, as far
as I can see, those traitors were abductors of women. Be off to hell,
villain," he continued, turning towards the vanquished man; "in the wood
two of your comrades lie biting the dust, and you will be able to make
the journey in love and good fellowship."

Thus speaking, both the knight and the squire dismounted, in order to
aid the girl. She was, to judge by her dress, a country maiden, and very
beautiful. They bore her to the inn, the owners of which were much
rejoiced to see her free from her persecutors; for, even though they
were not strong enough to succour her, they knew that she must have been
carried away by force. Thanks, now, to the cares lavished on her by the
innkeeper and his wife, the knight, and the squire, she regained
consciousness in a short time, and falling on her knees before the brave
youth who had rescued her, she warmly expressed her gratitude, shedding
tears all the time. They did their utmost to console her, and, as it did
not appear prudent to Rodrigo to leave her in the inn, exposed to the
danger of again falling into the hands of those of her abductors who had
escaped the lance of Fernan, he made up his mind to bring her to Vivar,
where she might recruit her health, which had been seriously impaired in
a few hours. The maiden willingly assented, and when the squire and the
horses had partaken of a hasty meal, they assisted her to mount on the
steed of the man who was lying there, apparently dead, and they all set
out on the road to Vivar, just as the sun was rising in the east, and
the labourers and muleteers, coming from all quarters, were lending life
and animation to the country, solitary till then, with their joyous
songs and friendly talks.



CHAPTER IV

IN WHICH THE MAIDEN, IN ADDITION TO HER OWN STORY, RELATES CERTAIN
MATTERS, WHICH WILL ROUSE THE ANGER OF THOSE WHO READ OF THEM


"My master will be glad to know how you happened to fall into the power
of those ruffians," said Fernan to the girl, when they had rode a short
distance from the inn, not being able to restrain the curiosity, which
was also felt by Rodrigo, although the image of Ximena was not for a
moment absent from his mind.

"I shall do so with much pleasure, courteous squire," replied the
maiden; "for if the knowledge that I was forcibly carried away has been
sufficient to induce this good knight to run to my succour, he will feel
better pleased for having performed that kind action when he shall have
learned more of my misfortunes."

"Relate them to us, relate them to us," said Rodrigo, impatient to hear
the adventures of his protégée, whose gentleness and beauty had much
struck him.

The young girl hastened to comply, saying, "God gave me very honourable
parents, although their position was only that of peasants, and I always
dwelt with them at Carrion, in this neighbourhood. They were vassals of
Don Suero, and although continually crushed down by the exactions of the
count, demanding constantly contributions from them, in which went the
greater part of the fruits of their toil, they nevertheless lived
contented; for the love which my parents had for each other made all
their troubles bearable, and even sweet. I was born, the sole fruit of
their marriage, and they loved me with such tenderness that, if I were
removed from their side, life would have no charm left for them. To
relate all the care they lavished on me, until I completed my fourteenth
year, would be a never-ending story; I believe that the poor love better
than the rich, for, since love is one of the pleasures, and perhaps the
only one, which is not forbidden them, they devote themselves to it with
all the strength of their souls. Poor as they were, my parents managed
to give me an education much better than is usually received by girls of
my position. Whether it was for that reason, or on account of the great
care with which my mother guarded me, it is certain that I was always
preferred to my companions by the young men, when we danced on the
threshing-floors on Sunday evenings, when they sang in our praise under
the windows, and when they returned from the woods with branches covered
with May bloom, which they stuck in the ground near the doors of the
houses. Near our house lived a young man, named Martin, who, amongst all
those of his age, distinguished himself by the affection which he
manifested for me, and by his many good qualities, especially by his
kindly disposition and his valour. For my part, I grew to love him very
much, as also did my parents; having demanded from them my hand, as he
knew that my heart was his, they willingly assented, and the day of our
marriage was arranged. You cannot know how much Don Suero was hated in
the district, both by the nobles and by the country-people, on account
of his tyranny as well as of his evil life, the report of which more
than once reached the ears of the king. He, however, had not found an
opportunity to punish him, as Don Suero is as powerful as he is cunning
and daring. Not far from Carrion, in a valley covered with gloomy woods,
there is a sanctuary to which, every year, the inhabitants of the
country, for twenty miles round, go on a pilgrimage; and there they
indulge in dances, banquets, and other amusements suitable for such
festivals. This pilgrimage takes place in the pleasantest part of
spring, and the rustic festivities render the joining in it very
delightful. Early in the morning my parents, Martin, his parents, and I
set out from Carrion, and, having arrived at the sanctuary and visited
it with devotion, we retired to refresh ourselves by taking a meal and a
rest under the shade of the trees, seated on the grassy sod, that was
sprinkled over with flowers, which delighted us with their beauty and
perfume. When our frugal but savoury repast was finished, a poor blind
man approached us, playing a lute. We gave him what remained of our
meal, which he thankfully accepted, also a draught of wine, which put
him in good spirits. We then asked him to play his instrument, in order
that Martin and I might dance to its music. The blind man did as we
requested him, and we danced with much pleasure both to ourselves and to
our parents, who warmly applauded us. Many persons approached, forming a
circle round us; but suddenly the trampling of horses was heard, and all
turned towards the path from whence the sounds proceeded, and then we
all trembled when we saw the Count, Don Suero, who was riding on, not
far from us, with a brilliant company of pages and cavaliers, and who
kept his gaze riveted on me with an attention which terrified me. The
blind man let his instrument fall on the ground when he heard the name
of Don Suero, and began to tremble in such a way that those who were
standing around felt compassion for him. He endeavoured to conceal
himself amongst them, as if the eyes of the count were those of a
basilisk, and he feared lest they might gaze on him. The crowd dispersed
as soon as the music and the dancing, which had attracted them, ceased;
Don Suero and his attendants continued their way, and shortly after our
inquietude had almost disappeared. But not so with the blind man, who
remained there full of terror, listening to the slightest noise which
could be heard about us. We asked him what was the cause of his
inquietude, and this is the lamentable story which he related to us,
from time to time shedding copious tears: 'God, when He took my wife
from me, left me a daughter, and also my eyes, with which I could gaze
upon her beauty, for you cannot imagine how beautiful my Sancha was!
Poor and rich envied me my treasure, for gold and silver and palaces
could not be of so much value to me as my daughter. "Father," she used
to say to me, "you are the centre of my affections on earth."
"Daughter," I used to say to her, "you will be my glory in this world."
Such was I to her, and such was she to me. One day we saw from our
window a cavalier, who, riding across the fields which I cultivated, was
directing his way towards our happy abode. He came up to the door and
asked for a drink of water, for it was the month of July and the sun was
so burning that Sancha and I had returned home from our work, in order
to escape his rays. My daughter handed the water to him, and we invited
him to rest beneath our roof. The cavalier thanked us, but did not
accept our offer. "You have been hospitable to me," he said, "and I
desire to show you that I am grateful; in exchange for the kindness you
offer me I ask another from you; if at any time you should go to
Carrion, where my estates are, come to the castle which I have there,
and I shall be well pleased to see both of you and extend my hospitality
to you; if you do not so, I shall be much vexed, for it will prove that
you do not trust in my goodwill, as I do in yours." We promised to do as
he requested, if the occasion should arise, and the cavalier went off by
the way he came, leaving us delighted with his courtesy, and resolved to
comply with his wishes, if ever we should be in the vicinity of Carrion.
The opportunity came, and it appeared to us that it would be an act of
discourtesy if we were to return home without seeing the count, for the
offering of a favour is of more worth than the acceptance of it. We
proceeded to his castle, and Don Suero received us and entertained us,
not as peasants, which we are, but as if we were kings. He showed us his
magnificent apartments, his richly-wrought furniture, brocades and
tapestries worthy of an emperor, gold and silver vessels, and beds
covered with silk and gold. My Sancha saw damsels there clad like
queens. None of them were as beautiful as she was, but appeared so on
account of the richness of their apparel and the fairness of their
faces, not browned, like hers, by the rays of the sun in summer and the
cold blasts of winter. When so great riches and such luxuries had made
us lament secretly the misery in which we always had lived, without
noticing it until then, the count asked us if we would like to remain in
his palace, where a happy life would await us, compared with that which
we had experienced, and which we should in future experience, working in
the fields. Little would have made us accept his proposal, but my Sancha
and I had heard that ambition, flattery, and calumny, which destroy both
body and soul, reside in palaces, and we resisted the temptation and the
importunities of Don Suero. We took leave of him, expressing our thanks;
but, on reaching the gate of the castle, we found it shut, and when we
were about to call out for someone to open it, two servants of the count
seized on me, and two men on my daughter, and separated us, carrying us
off with violence, Sancha I know not whither, and me into a dark prison
cell. In vain I implored them, in vain I called the count by the name of
traitor, in vain I questioned my jailers, for I remained many months in
my cell, separated from the world, and without a ray of light falling on
my eyes. From time to time I heard the bolts of my dungeon, and a
person--I know not whether it was a man or woman, for the darkness was
always complete, and no voice, except my own, ever sounded--brought to
me the meagre food which prolonged my sad life. One day I took up the
vessel in which water was left for me and raised it to my lips; I found
in it a sweetish liquor, which I drank without distrust; in a short time
I felt a great heaviness coming over my entire body, my senses were
numbed, my eyelids closed, and in a few moments I fell into a heavy
sleep. That sleep must have lasted very long, or at least so it seemed
to me, on account of the torments I suffered during its continuance; at
first there was a horrible nightmare, during which, at one time, my
daughter appeared calling on me, in her desolation, to deliver her from
the count; at another, weeping, in despair, over her lost honour; after
that I felt an acute pain in my head, as if my eyes were being torn out,
and I thought I heard footsteps of persons moving about me. At last I
shook off that infernal sleep; my senses recovered their activity, and I
only then felt a great weariness over my entire body, and an agonising
pain in my eyes. I raised my hand to them and found my face bathed with
a liquid, which I thought was sweat. A terrible suspicion seized on me
at that moment: I feared that they had deprived me for ever of the
light, and the pain which I felt in my eyes for some days confirmed that
idea. From that time forth I desired more ardently than ever to be able
to leave my prison, in order to find out if my suspicions were correct,
if I were condemned to live for ever in darkness; and I incessantly
demanded my liberty from my jailer, who at last, speaking to me for the
first time, informed me that I was about to receive my liberty. He then
took me by the hand, and guiding me through some winding passages, left
me in a place, which appeared to me to be a field, for the air was
circulating freely; the rustling of the leaves, moving over the ground,
could be heard; my feet trod on a soft substance, which I knew to be
grass; and the murmurings of the fountains and brooks arrived to my
ears. Then--ay, then! a despairing cry escaped my lips; there was no
longer any doubt, the Count of Carrion had condemned me to perpetual
darkness; the sun, the sky, the verdure of the fields, and above all,
the dangerous beauty with which God had endowed my daughter--my beloved
Sancha--could never again be seen by me! "But what has become of her, my
God!" I exclaimed. "Where shall I find her? Where is she, that she does
not come to guide her poor blind father in the darkness which will
perpetually surround him?" And from that time to this I seek my daughter
everywhere, in the villages and in the cities, in palaces and in
cabins--and nowhere can I find her. A hundred times have I gone to Don
Suero to demand of him where she is, and he has always ordered his
servants to drive me with blows from his palace, and now I fear to go
near him again, for he would kill me, and I do not wish to die until I
have clasped my daughter in my arms, and found a cavalier who will
avenge the terrible injuries which have been inflicted on us.'"

"God's anger! what a wretch that count is!" exclaimed Rodrigo, when the
girl had related thus far, and to whom he had listened with visible
emotion. "I would give my life," he continued, "to prove against him the
temper of my sword; and I pray God to grant me an opportunity of doing
so."

"In such a way did Martin cry out," continued the maiden, "when the
blind man terminated his sad history. You could have seen him, sir
knight, clenching his strong hands, brandishing the stout stick which he
used as a staff, and following with his eyes the road on which, but a
few minutes before, the count had disappeared, as if seeking that
infamous cavalier, in order to crush him with his righteous anger."

"I vow by Judas Iscariot," exclaimed Fernan, not less indignant than his
master, "that if I can get my lance near that villainous wretch, I will
spit him on it like a hen, not alone in the presence of the King of Leon
and Castile, but even in that of the King of Heaven Himself. But
continue your narrative, fair maid, for both my master and I are most
anxious to hear the conclusion of your own adventure."

The maiden then returned to what concerned herself, and the knight and
the squire approached their steeds as near hers as they possibly could,
so as not to miss a word of what she might say.

"The sun was about to hide himself behind a distant hill; and the birds
were bidding him farewell, singing plaintively in the trees which
surrounded us; and the pilgrims were beginning to leave the sanctuary,
as their songs and their joyous cries could be heard on the various
roads which branched off in all directions. We took the one which led to
Carrion, and the blind man with the lute was to get a night's lodging in
the hermitage. His story had taken gladness from our hearts, and we were
walking on, silent and uneasy, as if we foresaw some misfortune. Night
had come on, and the moon was alternately lighting up the landscape and
hiding herself behind the large black clouds which were moving across
the sky. On entering a narrow road, bordered by thick trees, we
perceived, in the obscurity, some dark objects which appeared to us to
be men on horseback, and we were not wrong, for just then they advanced
to meet us, calling out to us, 'Halt, ye rustics, or whoever ye are.'
Martin recognised the voice as that of one of the servants of Don Suero,
and told me so, placing himself before me, as if to protect me from a
danger which he believed was threatening me. Two of the horsemen
dismounted and came towards me with drawn swords; the moon then
concealed herself behind a dark cloud, and a terrific fight took place
between the ruffians and Martin, whose father, together with my father,
ran to his aid, although they were armed even worse than he was. At
last, however, the combat ceased; but the darkness prevented me from
seeing what had happened to Martin and our fathers. One of the ruffians
then lifted me up in his strong arms, without my being able to resist
him, as terror had deprived me of all strength, and placed me in those
of one of the men who had not dismounted; he then, placing me before him
on the horse, gave it the spurs and galloped off, followed by his
comrades, not, as I judged, by the road towards Carrion, but to a castle
situated at the boundaries of the district.

"He who had carried me off was Don Suero, whom I afterwards saw lying
insensible before the Inn of the Moor. An hour before your arrival we
all dismounted at that hostelry, for the ride had been rapid and long,
and both riders and horses were almost exhausted by hunger and fatigue.
However, when they were about to resume their journey, the footsteps of
your steeds were heard, and Don Suero, shutting me up in a room, sallied
forth with his followers to meet you. You know now, sir knight, how
grateful I should be for the service you have rendered me; but, even if
saved from my abductor, I cannot but weep for my father and for the
brave youth to whom I was to have been married, and of whose fate I am
ignorant, as they are of mine."

Thus speaking, the girl gave vent to her tears, which even the kind
words of Rodrigo and his squire were unavailing to restrain.

Not long after this the battlements of the Castle of Vivar were seen in
the distance, and when the sun had about half finished his daily journey
our travellers arrived at the end of theirs.



CHAPTER V

HOW RODRIGO AND HIS SQUIRE WERE RECEIVED AT VIVAR


The first care of Rodrigo on entering his paternal mansion was to
entrust the young girl to the care of his mother's servant-women, and
they, knowing how necessary rest was for her, prepared a comfortable
bed, in which we shall leave her to her repose, in order to describe the
reception which his mother gave to the newly-made knight, and which his
sweetheart gave to Fernan.

Rodrigo had now been separated from his mother for many months. Being
ignorant of the customs of the Court--as he had scarcely ever been
absent from Vivar, except when visiting the estates of Don Gome or
attending some tournament in the vicinity--his father brought him to it,
in order that he might become acquainted with its usages and learn all
that a young man, who would soon, most likely, be made a knight, should
know.

Teresa Nuña was a lady in whom were to be found all the virtues and good
qualities that one could desire in a woman. The nobility of her race,
and her prudence and beauty gave her a right to shine in the royal
Court, but her ambition from the time she was a child was of a different
kind. All the glory and all the delights of the world were, for her,
only to be found at the domestic hearth; to love her family, to be loved
in return, and to be the guardian angel of the weak and of the
poor--these were the objects of her ambition, these were her greatest
delights, these were her supreme desires. At the time when she was born
it was usual for girls who, like Teresa, looked with disdain on worldly
riches and the pleasures of love, to bury themselves in a cloister;
nevertheless, although her faith was as pure and as holy as that which,
five centuries later, inflamed the soul of another Teresa, the singer of
divine love,--even though she may not have participated in the same
religious ecstasies as that saint,--Teresa Nuña entertained different
views. She considered that the cloister should be the asylum of the
unfortunate, a refuge for hearts which looked for nothing but heaven,
the dwelling of those who could do but little for the cause of humanity.
To make the happiness of an honoured husband, to give to her country
sons who might be an honour to it and defend it, to cover with the
mantle of charity and mercy the nakedness and the misery of the
unfortunate--these things were in her mind the holiest duties of a
woman. For something more than singing to heaven the psalms of the
poet-king, through the bars placed across the window of a cell, did God
place the woman by the side of the man,--woman, that weak, beautiful,
sweet, persuasive being, full of charity, all spirit, all poetry. God,
who causes sweet-smelling flowers to spring up in the midst of the foul
marshes, and the herbs to grow on the hard rock, in order that the odour
of their flowers may neutralise the fetid smell of the marsh, and the
soft leaves the asperity of the stone; God, we repeat, has placed the
woman at the side of the man in order that the sweetness of the one
nature may neutralise the asperity of the other. When a woman's heart is
broken by a man, or when he refuses her the shield which should protect
her weakness, let her seek in God that which he has taken from her or
refused to her, and woe to them that deny to her such a refuge; however,
where reasons for shutting herself up in a cloister do not exist, let
her fulfil in the world her glorious destiny. Thus thought Teresa Nuña
when the brave and honoured Diego Lainez besought her hand; she gave it
to him with joy, for by doing so the honour of her house would be
increased, and, above all, her noble aspirations would find their
realisation. From that time forward she was, more than ever before, the
mother of the unfortunate; and when nature gave her another right to
that sweet name, when she was called such by the rosy lips of her child,
she considered herself the happiest woman in this world. It is easy,
then, to imagine the love she felt for Rodrigo, she whose heart was a
treasure of love and tenderness for all, and the pleasure she would feel
in again clasping to her heart that handsome and gentle youth after some
months of separation from him. He had scarcely dismounted in the
courtyard of the castle when she ran to meet him, and both were reunited
in a close embrace.

"How is it, my son," asked Teresa of the youth, "that your father has
not come with you, for had he done so my happiness would be complete?"

"Do not be uneasy, dear mother," replied Rodrigo; "last night I left him
well, and much honoured by the king, at Leon, to which city Don Fernando
has returned."

"I am rejoiced, son of my soul, on account of the affection which Don
Fernando feels for your father, and the favours which he confers on him;
however, I would be more rejoiced if I could have him always by my side,
for if the love which I always had for him made me weep during his
absence when he was still vigorous and young, it makes me doubly sad
when he is away from me now that he is feeble and old. I fear that the
disquietudes of a Court life may injure his health, or that he may be
injured by the plots which his rivals and enemies get up against him."

"As to that, have no fear, mother. Our rivals know that, even if the
hand of Diego Lainez is weak to avenge injuries, it is not so with that
of his son. Who will dare to insult Diego, now that a knight's sword has
been girt on Rodrigo?"

"Oh, my son!" exclaimed Teresa, again embracing the youth, full of
delight, as much for the generous impulse which the words of her son
manifested as for the news that he had been made a knight. "How is it
that the eyes of your mother did not sooner notice your sword-belt?
When, my son, were you so honoured?"

"Only yesterday, dear mother, and much honoured indeed, for the king
girt on my sword, the queen gave me my steed, and the Infanta Doña
Urraca buckled on my spurs."

"Oh, how great an honour you will become to the order into which you
have been received!"

"Such, I trust, shall be soon, mother; for I only come to take leave of
you before setting out for the frontiers to fight against the Moorish
power; for oh, my mother, I want riches, I want a throne!"

"I well can understand those noble aspirations, as the blood of the
Counts of Castile flows in your veins. Proceed, then, to the war, even
though parting from you will make your mother's heart bleed, as I would
wish to keep you always near me. However, let no ambition dazzle you,
beyond that of serving your country and the faith of your forefathers.
You say that you desire riches, that you desire a throne. Why do you
desire a throne, my son?"

"I desire it, dear mother, in order to raise myself above that ambitious
count, who looks on me as one too poor and humble to merit the hand of
his daughter."

"Ah, my son, you have then not yet conquered that love, the realising of
which has become almost an impossibility, and which has caused such
inquietudes both in your soul and in those of your parents? You have not
yet forgotten Ximena?"

"Forget her? forget her? Never, my mother! In vain have I tried to do
so; in vain have I sought to erase her image from my heart; in vain have
I tried to think that to love Ximena was almost the same as to humble
myself before her father, a humiliation unworthy of the race of Vivar;
but this love still dominates me, stronger and more vigorous than ever.
Forget her? forget her? Had I but loved her a day, a month, a year, and
not almost during my whole life; were Ximena and I the maiden and the
youth, whose union might appease paternal rancours or satisfy paternal
ambitions, and in which love had little part; were she less beautiful,
less discreet, less honoured than she is--then perhaps I could forget
her; but you, my mother, know how deep is the love which unites us; for
you, whose eyes were ever fixed on us, have seen it spring up and
increase, and you have even fanned its flame by keeping us ever near
each other, and by letting us see the pleasure and the pride which a
similar love caused you. I promised you, indeed, when I left your arms
to betake myself to the Court, that I would endeavour to forget her, and
I even said to you that I had hopes that I might be able to do so; but I
was mistaken, dear mother. Many days passed without my seeing her, but
none that I did not think on her; and that day on which my father
brought me with him to the Court was the happiest of my life, and proved
to me that separation had only made our love stronger. Had you seen her
eclipsing with her beauty that of the fairest dames of Leon, and
receiving the homage of the bravest and best cavaliers, you could not
ask me, mother, Have you forgotten her?"

Teresa was now convinced, if indeed she had not already been so, that
the love of her son was above all reasonings, and she did not try to
overcome it with hers. She thought it better, therefore, to endeavour to
remove the pain from his burning heart by pouring on it some drops of
the balsam of hope.

"Do not forget her, then, my son," she said to the excited youth,
caressing him with her hand, and with a look full of love and
tenderness. "This love will elevate your soul and strengthen your heart.
Summon our friends and vassals, and go fight against the infidel, for
the glory and the power which you will achieve shall throw into the
shade, as you have said, the ambitious Don Gome, and Ximena will become
your bride. The contentions which separate her family and ours are not
of that kind which, between honourable rivals, cannot be terminated
without honour being stained. Go, my Rodrigo, go to your repose, for
indeed you require it after so long a journey, and to-morrow we shall
see what can be done to promote your happiness; for your mother, more
experienced than you in the affairs of this world, will aid you with her
love and advice."

Teresa and her son again lovingly embraced each other, and the youth
retired to take off his armour in order to seek repose; not, however,
without having related to her the adventure at the Inn of the Moor, and
having recommended to her care the maiden who had sought the hospitality
of the castle.

Having described the reception which was given to Rodrigo at Vivar, we
must also describe that which Fernan received.

Almost at the same time that our travellers rode into the courtyard of
the castle, there entered after them a large number of girls and young
men, vassals of the grandee of Vivar, who, having seen Rodrigo arrive,
and having recognised, by his armour, that he was now a knight, came to
welcome him and offer him their congratulations on account of the order
of chivalry which he had received, playing rustic instruments and
singing joyous songs. As soon as Rodrigo dismounted he ascended to the
upper apartments, leaving the young girl, his guest, with his squire, in
order that he might place her under the care of the servants of his
mother, as we have already mentioned. Fernan then proceeded to the
stables, to see that the horses were properly attended to. When he
returned to the courtyard the male and female peasants began to pour in,
and amongst the latter he saw one so graceful and pretty that he would
have fallen in love with her at once, if his heart had not been captured
beforehand, by her charms. As it was a long time since he had seen her,
he forgot where he was, and running up to her, gave her a warm embrace,
which the girl did not try to avoid, as she was rather fond of the brave
squire, and love, particularly amongst country-people, often goes beyond
the bounds of decorum. At that very moment Mayorica heard the music and
the cheering in the courtyard; she ran to her window, which looked out
on it, and was much enraged, with good cause, when she saw Fernan so
warmly embracing the peasant girl. "Ah, traitor!" she exclaimed; and
when he heard that cry, the squire let go the girl, who, uttering
another cry, suddenly ran off from her companions and from the castle,
not without threatening both with her look and hand the unlucky Fernan,
who did not notice this, however, on account of the perturbation of his
mind.

The good squire remained as if thunderstruck for some moments, but he
soon recovered his habitual serenity, and began to consider, whilst
ascending the stairs, what he should do to escape the strong language
and, perhaps, the nails of Mayorica.

"What a fool I am," he said to himself, "not to be able to restrain my
impetuous feelings, when prudence should counsel me to do so!" and he
tugged at his hair out of pure vexation with himself. "A fool, and ten
times a fool," he continued, "not to remember the unreasonableness of
women. O ye women, cause of all my troubles! but it was I myself, donkey
that I am, that was the cause of the present one. Why do I not cast both
of you off, or turn Moor, so as to have three, and none of them to tear
my beard if I love the others. But I am an old Christian, and have
fought long years against the law of Mahomet and must fight against it
still; however, for all that, I cannot deny that Mahomet was a wise man,
in one thing at least--permitting a man to have three wives. I would not
only allow three but three hundred, so that none of them could claim
more than the three-hundredth part of a man's love. A man returns home,
after a long journey, sore and weary, and instead of finding a woman to
welcome him with open arms, he finds a regular fury, who receives him
with abuse and with scratches enough to blind him."

With these wise reflections Fernan ascended the stairs, and, entering
the chamber of Mayorica, he found her, bathed in tears, sitting on a
chair, in such a condition that it awoke compassion to see her. Such,
then, did our squire feel, and as pity is said to be akin to love, his
returned in such a degree that his angry thoughts were well-nigh
forgotten.

"Who has offended you, Mayorica of my soul?" exclaimed Fernan,
approaching the damsel with open arms; but she suddenly arose, and
seizing, with great fury, the squire by the neck, cried out--

"Ah, traitor, and worse than traitor! I will choke you, so that you may
never more deceive honourable girls who are worth more than your whole
race."

"I vow by Judas Iscariot! by the soul of Beelzebub!" muttered Fernan
with stifled voice, struggling to get free from his enraged sweetheart.
"Let go, let go, you vixen, or I shall make you do so, even if I have to
strike you."

And making a violent effort, he found himself free from the young woman,
whom he pushed from him across the floor, though he did not do so before
getting some scratches on his face.

Mayorica, knowing that her nails were insufficient weapons to fight
against so robust a lover, had recourse to the usual one of women, that
is, to her tongue, and Fernan to a similar one, as he considered it was
not courteous and honourable to fight with stronger weapons, especially
when his adversary was a woman.

"Woe is me! who, having refused the love even of hidalgos, have kept my
honour intact for the sake of such a low-born squire, a greater traitor
than Judas himself!" cried Mayorica, bursting out again into torrents of
tears, that would have softened a stone.

Fernan laid aside his annoyance and endeavoured to conquer the anger of
his sweetheart with mild reasoning, for his heart was as soft as wax
when dealing with women, as it was hard as flint before his enemies on
the field of battle. And besides, what should a man do but humble
himself before a woman who at thirty years of age--for Mayorica was not
a day younger--comes with unstained honour to a man, in order that he
may claim her as his own?

"Be quiet, be quiet, Mayorica of my soul! I always look on you as my
own, and I have always loved you, and ever will love you," he
interrupted, with endearing accents and an affectionate gaze.

"Ah, you villain!" replied the young woman, "it was not enough for you
to act the traitor but you must also come to me with lies in your mouth.
You then want to deny what my very eyes have witnessed?"

"Let not that pain you, Mayorica; with my arms I did not give my heart
to that peasant girl, Aldonza; I keep it always for you."

"Be off, traitor! your ridiculous excuses enrage me more than they
appease me. Depart from me, and never, as long as you live, dare to look
on me again with eyes of affection."

It appeared to Fernan that the anger of Mayorica was lasting much too
long; thus it was that, his patience failing him, he determined to make
use of his arithmetical argument, and if he could not succeed in
convincing her with it, to renounce the attempt, and even, if necessary,
his love itself.

"Well, then," he said, "I am fond of Aldonza, but, I swear to you, of no
other but you and her. I have told you a thousand times that, according
to my calculations, there are two women in Spain for every man. Is it
not nonsense, then, to blame me for only claiming what belongs to me,
when I go no farther?"

"Be off with you, shameless wretch!" exclaimed Mayorica, at the height
of her exasperation.

"Yes, and at once," said Fernan; "for Aldonza is awaiting me, in order
to repay with interest the embrace I gave her."

Saying this, he quitted the chamber of Mayorica and went off to his own,
muttering on his way--

"By the soul of Beelzebub, how this nonsense, this obstinacy, this
absurdity of women, makes my blood boil! I will rest myself to-night,
for I need to do so, and to-morrow I will compensate myself with Aldonza
for the ingratitude of Mayorica. That girl is affectionate and not cross
and quarrelsome, like the vixen I have just left."



CHAPTER VI

HOW FERNAN DESPAIRED OF GETTING WOMEN TO UNDERSTAND REASON, AND HOW
DIEGO LAINEZ HOPED THAT HIS HONOUR WILL BE AVENGED


Morning began to break when a cross-bowman, who was keeping watch on the
battlements of the Castle of Vivar, heard the trampling of horses at a
short distance from the fortifications, and a moment after he saw
advancing a body of horsemen and also men on foot, who seemed to bear a
litter. He put to his mouth the speaking-trumpet which hung from his
neck, and cried out, "Who goes there?" Those who were approaching
answered by a signal, which he evidently understood, as the bridges and
the portcullis were at once lowered, and the cortège entered the
courtyard.

A short time before Fernan had left the castle by an iron-bound door,
which led to the stables and which was used for the egress and ingress
of the servants of the lords of Vivar, especially in the night-time,
when the principal entrance was defended by a double portcullis and a
gate, too heavy to raise frequently.

Whither was the squire going so early in the morning? It is easy to
guess, if we remember the last words he used when retiring to rest a few
hours before. Notwithstanding his quarrel with Mayorica, he had slept
that night like a dead man, until an early hour of the morning, at which
time he awoke, as was his custom, and hastened off to the dwelling of
Aldonza, for she lived at some distance, and he had to be back in the
castle before his master arose, when he should have to be in attendance
on him. We must, however, tell who the girl was whom he was about to
visit, and also who the old woman was with whom she lived. To do this it
is only necessary to copy literally the words of the chronicler, who
writes: "The girl was named Aldonza, and was very pretty and attractive,
so that there was none like her in those parts. Many gallants sought her
affection, but it was of no avail, as she was in love with a gentle
squire named Fernan, who belonged to the house of the honoured Diego
Lainez. There lived with her an old witch, by name Mari-Perez, whom all
the maidens and youths that were in love went to consult."

Far be it from us to question the text which we have just quoted: the
reader can do it if he so desires. If the occupation of Mari-Perez may
not be considered a very honourable one, let the blame rest with the
chronicler, and let it be put down to malice, for it looks as if he
harboured such against her, to judge by the way he expresses himself.
All we shall add is that Aldonza called the old woman with whom she
lived "mother," but we are certain that she was not such, for if she
were so, that fact would have been mentioned in the chronicle, which
goes into much detail regarding the persons who figure in it.

Aldonza and the woman she called her mother resided in a cottage
situated amongst the trees of a lonely glen, through which rushed a
torrent, whose roar contributed not a little to increase the
superstitious dread with which the inhabitants of the country
surrounding Vivar approached the dwelling-place of the witch, for by
that name Mari-Perez was commonly known. Fernan, however, who did not
trouble himself much about witchcraft, knocked at the door of Aldonza,
consoling himself with the thoughts of the good reception he would
receive from Aldonza, compared with the scratches which Mayorica had
inflicted on him. The girl appeared at the small window above the door
and asked who was there.

"It's me," answered the squire; "open the door, for this mist that's
rising from the brook is freezing me."

"Wait," said Aldonza, and taking up a jug of water, she threw it out on
the unfortunate Fernan, exclaiming--

"You will die here, traitor, villain, ruffian, blackguard! Do you think
you can deceive me any longer? It is you that are tricked now!"

And not content with having wetted him to the skin with the water and
nearly broken his head with the jug, she began to hurl down on him such
a quantity of tiles, stones, and other projectiles, that if he had not
sheltered himself at once behind the trunk of an oak tree, which luckily
happened to be near, she would have nearly killed him, considering her
fury and the accuracy with which she aimed.

"Halt, you minx!" exclaimed Fernan, soaked through not only with water,
but also with blood. "As sure as I catch you, I'll take every inch of
skin off your back with lashes. Is it thus, you vixen, that you treat so
faithful a lover as I am? Would that I had never set my eyes on a jade
like you! May I lose my strength if at this very moment I do not, with
blows and lashes, half kill both you and the witch who lives with you!"

Thus speaking, the squire rushed at the door and gave it a furious kick,
in order to break it in; but his own head narrowly escaped being broken
in by another jug and more tiles and stones, which made him return to
his tree more quickly than he could have wished.

"What did I do to you? what did I do to you, that you should attack me
with such fury?"

"Be off, traitor!" replied the girl; "be off to the castle, and tell her
who awaits you there that from this day forward you are hers alone."

The enamoured Fernan came now to the conclusion that Aldonza had
discovered his love for Mayorica, and he began to think of using his
eternal arithmetical argument; he remembered, however, the little good
it had done him with Mayorica, and recognised that Aldonza was not then
in a condition to listen to reason. He thought, therefore, that the best
thing he could do would be to return to the castle, which he did,
cursing the unreasonableness of women, and swearing by all the saints in
heaven that, in future, he would have nothing to do with any of them as
long as he lived, even if a war took place in which so many men should
be killed, that there would be a hundred women left for every man that
survived.

Let us return with him to the Castle of Vivar and discover who were
those that we saw arriving there, and what was taking place in it, even
though the reader has most likely guessed that they were Diego Lainez
and his friends and servants, who had set out from Leon only a short
time after Rodrigo.

It was pitiable to see the state of affliction into which Teresa was
thrown when she saw her husband, whom she, full of love and tenderness,
ran to receive and clasp in her arms. The honoured Diego Lainez, though
he knew his wife would be deeply pained, did not conceal from her the
affront he had received, for it was a matter of necessity for him to
unbosom himself to some beloved being, who would help him to support
such a trial. Teresa Nuña, although the most tender and sensible of
women, was endowed with great strength of character to bear
tribulations; she was one of those beings whose presence and words
strengthen the weakest, and infuse confidence and hope into those who
have almost lost them. Thus it was that she succeeded in consoling Diego
to a considerable extent, particularly when she repeated the words which
Rodrigo used when expressing his determination that no insult to his
house should go unavenged. At that moment Diego conceived the idea of
finding out for himself what he might hope for from his son.

Scarcely had Rodrigo risen from his bed, when he was informed that his
father had returned to the castle; he hurried to visit him, and entered
Diego's chamber a very short time after Teresa had quitted it.

"Father and lord, embrace me," he said, without noticing the affliction
which was clearly stamped on the features of the old man. His father
clasped him to his breast, and taking his hand, pressed it between his
with such force that little more would have disjointed the fingers, for
it seemed that Diego, with the strength of his will, had concentrated in
the hand with which he squeezed that of his son all the power that the
remainder of the muscles of his body retained.

The youth started back, trying to disengage his hand from the grip of
his father; pain coloured his cheeks and injected his eyes with blood.

"Let go, father," he cried out, "let go. Anger of God! if you were not
my father, you should pay for that squeeze you have given me."

The old man let loose the hand of the youth, and pressing him again to
his breast, said, weeping, not indeed with despair but with joy--

"Son of my soul! that indignation was the comfort which your father
needed. Use that fiery spirit in avenging my honour, which is lost if
your arm does not save it."

"Justice of God!" cried Rodrigo, rising erect like a viper disturbed by
a wayfarer. "Who is the traitor who has dared to attack your
honour--which is mine also? Tell me, father, for neither you nor I can
live, if the honour is dead, which no person till now has ever dared to
stain. Who, who is the coward that has affronted you?"

"My son, the Count of Gormaz has struck me on the face with his hand,
has covered my cheek with blood in the sight of the king and the
grandees of Leon"--

And sobs smothered the voice of Diego.

"Anger of God!" exclaimed the brave youth, convulsed with anger even
greater than that which his father felt in his grief and old age. "Do
not weep, father; for I swear to you that I shall cut off the hand which
has stained your visage, even though the cowardly felon should hide
himself in the bowels of the earth."

"Go, my Rodrigo, go and challenge him to single combat. The king will
oppose no obstacles to it, for God, who cannot consent that an old man
should be outraged, and an honour thus stained which was gained by
fighting for the faith during four centuries, will put valour in your
heart and strength in your arm. Public was the offence, public also must
be the vengeance!"

Speaking thus, Diego Lainez went to a large press that stood in the
chamber in which they were, and contained various kinds of arms. He took
down a sword and handed it to Rodrigo, with these words--

"Take and bind on, my son, the sword of Mudarra; go and avenge with it
your father."

Rodrigo took the sword, kissed its cross-shaped hilt, and exclaimed--

"Glorious sword, whose blade was tempered with the blood of Ruiz
Velasquez, be thou tempered again with that of the cowardly Count of
Gormaz, and bring honour to the arm of the son of Diego Lainez, as the
son of Gonzalo Gustios brought honour to thee!"

The high price at which he valued his honour and the magnitude of the
insult he had received had caused the old grandee to exaggerate his
impotence to take vengeance on the count; it is true that he had
scarcely had an opportunity of proving the bravery of his son; however,
it was not so with regard to many other cavaliers of his family and of
his acquaintance. Thus it happened that, on the same day that he
acquired the certainty that his son would proceed to fight for the
honour of their house, a great number of his friends and retainers
presented themselves, offering the aid of their arms, of their riches,
and of their men-at-arms, in order to wash out the stain which he
grieved over. When Rodrigo, therefore, set out for Leon, having received
the blessing of his parents, he was followed by the good wishes of a
multitude of lords and cavaliers, and also by many of them in person,
who desired to be present at the reparation of the honour of De Vivar,
and even to defend it with the strength of their arms, in case the youth
should succumb in the combat.



CHAPTER VII

HOW RODRIGO FOUGHT WITH THE COUNT OF GORMAZ


The principal gate of the Alcazar led out on a broad square, bounded on
all sides by the magnificent mansions of the noblest families of the
city. Amongst them was that of the Count of Gormaz, who, although he had
a very large and strong castle in the country, with appointments worthy
of a king, resided usually in the Court city, since death had deprived
him of his wife at Gormaz.

Don Gome had loved his wife as Diego Lainez did his, for she had been
equally worthy of being loved. Whilst he enjoyed her affection and
caresses, ambition had never come to disturb his happiness, and he cared
but little for the Court, at which he was scarcely ever seen. However,
from the time he fixed his residence in Leon, whether it was that the
death of his dear companion had left a void in his soul, which had to be
filled up in some way, or whether it was that the glitter of a Court
life had deteriorated and darkened his heart, formerly free from evil
passions, it is certain that he became entirely changed. Envy
overmastered him, as a consequence of a boundless ambition for honours
and riches, which indeed he had no need of, for the count was of very
noble origin, and his family one of the richest of Castile. He certainly
loved his daughter, and was loved by her; it is also certain that Ximena
had united in herself sufficient beauty, discretion, and other good
qualities to make her the pride and glory of her father; all this,
however, was not sufficient for Don Gome, and his daughter filled but a
small portion of the void left in his heart by the death of his wife.
There are in men certain physiological phenomena which do not admit of
satisfactory explanation; in the case of the Count of Gormaz these were
very numerous.

Let us leave, however, this digression, and see what was taking place in
the palace of the count. In one of the apartments, which overlooked the
square of the Alcazar, was the sweet, the beautiful, the loving Ximena,
reclining on a couch, and drying up with her handkerchief the abundant
tears which flowed from her eyes. She was thinking deeply, and her
meditations must have been tortures to her soul, to judge from the agony
which could easily be seen on her countenance. Not far from her, Lambra
was occupied, much less with the work which lay upon her lap, than with
drying up the tears which the grief of her mistress caused her to shed.

The honoured dueña deserves that we should say a few words about her,
for the part which a dueña performed with regard to a young girl was not
an insignificant one, especially when the maiden is in love and has lost
her mother. Lambra was one of those women whose case would almost give
one a right to speak strongly against nature, if nature were not the
work of God--of God who has a heaven, with which to compensate people
for the privations which they have to bear on earth. She was one of
those women to whom nature had given a superabundance of love and, at
the same time, had denied them the privilege of lavishing it on men,
for, as far as she was concerned, her countenance was cast in such a
mould that the more she might desire to approach men, the more would
they fly from her. Women of this kind devote their love to the first
being that crosses their path, for if they did not do so their hearts
would burst with the affection which fills them. In this condition was
Lambra: Ximena was the being who had crossed her path and on whom she
had poured out all the love of her heart; she was present at her birth,
and had witnessed her physical and moral development from day to day
without ever losing sight of her, thus filling up her soul with her, if
we may so express ourselves; and it may be said indeed that the maiden
formed part of her being. Thus it was that she wept or smiled when
Ximena wept or smiled, and almost hated or loved according as Ximena did
the one or the other.

"Do not weep, my darling," she said to the young girl, affecting a
calmness which she did not feel; "do not think any more of your
unfortunate love affairs, for if you keep brooding over them you will be
in your grave before three days are past, and that would be neither good
nor Christian on your part. Let God, who created us, kill us, and let us
not kill ourselves."

"But of what use is life to me?" replied Ximena, rousing herself from
her meditations.

"Ave Maria! what a mad question! For what do we preserve our lives but
to be happy?"

"Alas, Lambra, you cannot understand that my happiness is now impossible
in this world. How can I be happy without Rodrigo?"

"Have you then lost him?"

"I have lost him, Lambra. If I feared that I had lost his love, when no
really serious matter justified the hostility between my father and his,
how much stronger are now my reasons for fearing it, when my father, the
Count of Gormaz, has imprinted on the face of his father a stain which
only can be washed off with blood? The hand of my father has opened an
abyss between both our houses."

Lambra knew that what Ximena said was only too true, and felt almost
dismayed by the task that was imposed on her--that of consoling and
cheering up the maiden; notwithstanding, she did her best to conceal her
inquietude, and asked--

"Do you feel confident that Rodrigo loves you?"

"I have never doubted it."

"And have you not often heard it said that love conquers all things?"

"Yes, Lambra."

"Then do not be disquieted, and trust that the love of Rodrigo may be
able to throw a bridge over the abyss of which you have just spoken, in
order that your house and his may be reconciled and form again but one
family."

This reflection, although it was rather sophistical, shed a drop of
balsam on the wound which was torturing the soul of Ximena, into whose
mind flashed, at that moment, a ray of light: "I shall throw myself on
my knees at the feet of my father," thought to herself the daughter of
Don Gome, "and I shall beseech him to repair the offence which he has
committed against Rodrigo, and if he loves me, he will comply with my
wish."

Whilst Ximena was still formulating this request, her father entered the
chamber. By the appearance of his daughter, whose face was still stained
by tears, Don Gome divined her feelings. Such were the marks that grief
had imprinted, in two days, on the visage of Ximena, that the count
could not prevent himself from being deeply moved; for he loved his
child very much, notwithstanding the fact that the evil passions which
had taken possession of his heart were causing her the deepest misery.

"My daughter!" he exclaimed, pressing her tenderly in his arms, "you
weep, and do not try to find consolation and alleviation of your
troubles in me. Do you perchance doubt of the love of your father?"

"Ah no, my father!" answered Ximena, bathed in tears.

"Do you not know," continued the count, with endearing accents,--"do you
not know, daughter, that, from the time I lost your mother, you have
been the sole being in this world that I have loved? Do you think that I
have no care for your happiness because I have sworn that you never
shall be the bride of the son of De Vivar?"

"But, father," said the young girl timidly, "you know that such an oath
destroys my happiness during my entire life."

"It will destroy it, if you do not forget Rodrigo."

"And do you believe that I can forget him? Do you believe that a love
can be forgotten that had its birth almost at the same time that we had
ours? Do you believe that it is possible for a woman to forget a man
like Rodrigo?"

"Nothing resists time and injuries received. Those which Diego Lainez
has inflicted on your father are such that your union with his son would
be an unbearable humiliation, not alone to a race like that of De
Gormaz, but even to that of a low-born peasant. He who has so vilely
calumniated me at the Court; he who, for his own aggrandisement, has
lowered me so much in the eyes of the king; he who has robbed me of the
favour of Don Fernando; he who has been so treacherous to his most loyal
friend, deserved that your father should refuse to his son your hand,
and even should strike him in the face before those in whose eyes he had
so humiliated me."

"Consider, my father, that a fatal error may have blinded you. If you do
not wish to commit an unjust act, if you do not desire to enter into a
contest in which both of us may die, you by a lance or sword wound, and
I by the grief which your loss would cause me, make good the insult
which you offered to Diego Lainez in the saloons of the Alcazar, and
forget for ever those which you imagine that you have received from
him"--

"Ximena!" exclaimed the count in a severe tone, "what advice is this you
dare to give me? If it were another who so counselled me, I would tear
out his tongue. Do you value so little the honour of your father, and do
you consider him such a coward, as to think that he should ask pardon of
him in whose face he would rather spit?"

The anger which the count exhibited whilst speaking those words
discouraged Ximena, and deprived her of her last hope. The daughter of
Don Gome answered her father with tears alone. He, feeling compassion
for her grief, repented of his sudden burst of indignation, and clasped
her again to his heart, pressing with his lips her pale brow. He felt,
doubtless, that his pride was yielding in presence of his child's grief,
and in order not to desist from his intention of responding with fresh
insults to the reparation which he felt would soon be demanded from him
by De Vivar, he went off from Ximena, who followed him with her eyes to
the door of the chamber as sadly as if it were the last time she should
ever see him.

The king, who desired to bring about the reconciliation of the count
with Diego Lainez, fearful of the fierce strife which otherwise would
blaze up between the partisans of the two noble families, summoned Don
Gome to the Alcazar. At the moment when the count left his house in
order to obey the order of the king, there rode into the square a body
of knights who, apparently, were also proceeding to the Alcazar. Amongst
them was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, who, as soon as he perceived the count,
separated himself from his companions, and made his way hastily towards
him.

"Listen, traitrous count, ignoble cavalier!" he said to him. "I, Rodrigo
Diaz de Vivar, son of Diego Lainez, whom you wounded on the face, as he
is old and cannot wash away with your blood the stain you put on his
honour, do now challenge you to single combat, in which you will fight
against me; and five knights from amongst my friends shall sustain my
rights against five chosen from your friends, in case either you or I
should fall in the battle. I am about to demand permission for this from
the king."

"Be off, then," answered the count, turning his shoulder on the young
man with haughty disdain; "the Count of Gormaz fights with giants, and
not with boys like you."

"Infamous count! boys have conquered giants," responded Rodrigo, with
much difficulty keeping down his anger. "Remember that David was very
young when he overcame Goliath. If I am a youth in years, I am a giant
in the valour which my outraged honour and your cowardice instil into
me."

The count gazed on him with contempt, and proceeded a few steps on his
way. The youth, however, intercepted him, becoming more and more
enraged.

"Leave me," exclaimed at last Don Gome, also filled with anger, "leave
me at once; for if I wounded your father's face with a blow of my hand,
I shall chastise your insolence with kicks."

Those words, and the tone in which they were spoken, exasperated
Rodrigo to the highest pitch, and he exclaimed, placing his hand on his
sword--

"Defend yourself, villain, defend yourself, or I shall kill you behind
your back, like a traitor and coward as you are!"

"You shall not do so, but you shall pay dearly for your audacity,"
replied the count, unsheathing his sword, and rushing on Rodrigo with
such fury that the young man had scarcely time to place himself on his
guard.

The count was robust and of enormous strength, so great that on account
of it he had gained the name of _Lozano_,[1] by which he was commonly
known, and which both history and tradition have brought down to us.
Rodrigo was of high stature, but very thin, and his strength was not yet
developed. Thus it was that, the physical powers of the two combatants
not being equalised by defensive and offensive arms,--as was usual in
solemn combats, when there was great disproportion in the strength of
the two parties,--the spectators considered the victory of the count as
certain. Those present consisted not only of the retinue which had
accompanied Rodrigo, but also of a large number of persons whom the
clashing of the swords had attracted to the windows and balconies of the
buildings which surrounded the square, or who had flowed in through the
streets that led to it. Amongst those spectators was the king, Don
Fernando himself, who appeared on a balcony of the Alcazar just as the
fate of the combatants was about to be decided. They were fighting with
a fury not often seen; the strokes of the count were terrible from the
force with which they were dealt, but Rodrigo avoided them with an
agility and dexterity that could scarcely be expected from him,
considering the limited practice he had had in warlike exercises, which
only consisted in his having broken a few lances at tournaments;
moreover, he did not for an instant lose the calmness and presence of
mind so necessary in a fight. At last Don Gome aimed a terrible blow at
his adversary, which the sword of Rodrigo did not altogether succeed in
warding off, and he felt the blood running down his face. This advantage
gained by his enemy, far from discouraging him, only inflamed his anger
more and more, and lent new strength to his arm, new breath to his
lungs, and increased agility to his limbs.

[1] Strong, lusty.

At that moment a cry of agony was heard from the mansion of the count, a
cry which the clashings of the steels, increasing in rapidity and
force, fortunately prevented Rodrigo from hearing. We say fortunately,
for if he had heard it, his heart would have become so troubled, that
the good sword, which he had consecrated by a reverent kiss when he
received it from his father, might have fallen from his hand. Yes; such
would likely have happened to Rodrigo, for it was Ximena who had uttered
that agonised exclamation, when, having gone to the window of her
chamber, she saw her father and her lover fighting so fiercely; when she
saw the visage of Rodrigo bathed in blood, and perceived with the eyes
of her soul that her hopes of happiness had now indeed vanished for
ever; for her misery was certain whichever succumbed--her father or
Rodrigo. Of what use would life be to her without the latter? And if her
father fell, how could she marry his slayer? Not in vain had she said,
but a short time before, that an almost impassable abyss had opened
between her house and that of Diego Lainez.

The combat, in the meantime, was raging even more fiercely than before,
and its end was evidently approaching, as the combatants, panting and
covered with blood, instead now of defending themselves, were
endeavouring, to their very utmost, to kill each other. Don Gome then
suddenly drew his dagger, and with it in one hand, and his sword in the
other, blind with rage and desperation, rushed on Rodrigo, parrying with
his sword the strokes of his adversary, and doing his best at the same
time to pierce him with the dagger.

"Back, felon, traitor, back!" exclaimed Rodrigo, indignant at the
perfidy of the count. He, however, neither heard the words nor listened
to the voice of honour, which reprobates every cavalier who has recourse
to a vile stratagem in order to conquer his enemy; Rodrigo fell back a
step, and received on the point of his sword Don Gome, who fell, pierced
through, to the ground, uttering a cry of rage and agony.

Loud applause resounded on all sides; cavaliers and citizens rushed
towards Rodrigo to carry him in triumph to where his wounds could be
dressed, for abundant blood was streaming from them. Numerous flowers,
which had adorned the windows and balconies, fell at the feet of the
brave youth, and formed the victor's crown.



CHAPTER VIII

HOW XIMENA DEMANDED JUSTICE FROM THE KING AGAINST RODRIGO DIAZ


Some days have passed since Rodrigo avenged his father by killing Don
Gome, Count of Gormaz.

He had almost recovered from the wounds which he had received in the
combat; but there was another wound in his soul which science could not
cure. His sword had deprived of life the father of his beloved: would
she ever accept the hand of him who had wounded her parent to the death?
Could the slayer of the Count of Gormaz hope for the love of Ximena
Gome? Nothing could console Rodrigo; no hope of happiness remained to
him. An invincible sadness overshadowed him, which could not be driven
away, either by the joy of his parents when they saw the stain washed
away which had sullied their honour, or by the caresses and care which
they lavished on him; for Diego and Teresa had proceeded to Leon
immediately on learning the condition of their son, in order that they
might assist at the healing of his wounds.

One morning the king, Don Fernando, was amusing himself in the company
of his family, which he dearly loved. What more pleasing sight than that
of a powerful king, of a warrior, as skilful as he was wise and brave,
surrounded by his children and his wife, forgetting the triumphs of his
arms and the cares of state, in order to give himself up completely to
the joys of the domestic hearth, with the same simplicity and effusion
which the humblest subject exhibits? At his side was his wife, a noble
and honoured matron, all the pleasures of whose life were found where
her husband and children were. Don Fernando saw her, at the height of
her contentment and maternal pride, sharing with him the affection of
their sons and daughters, brave youths and beautiful maidens; his heart
participated in the satisfaction and pride of hers, and the happy
monarch considered as trifling the pleasures he enjoyed surrounded by
his courtiers, compared with those he tasted surrounded by his family.
There are in _The Chronicle of the Cid_ a few words which form the
greatest eulogium on Don Fernando as the head of a family. Those are:
"He made his sons read that they might be the better instructed; he
taught them the use of arms, how to fence and combat; also to be
hunters. And his daughters he caused to pursue their studies under
dueñas, that they might be accustomed to, and instructed in, all that
was good." If history had not distinctly made known to us that Don
Fernando I. was a tender and affectionate father, as well as a faithful
lover and husband, the facts would be demonstrated to us by his having
had no illegitimate child, which was a very common thing amongst the
princes and lords of the period.

"Father," said Don Sancho, who was the eldest of the princes, "you have
spent very much time in camps, you have often exposed your life to the
swords of your enemies; live henceforth more for your family, and do not
go away from my mother and my brothers and sisters. I, although unworthy
of so great an honour, will take your place in war; if it is necessary
to fight against the infidels and the other enemies of Castile and Leon,
do not think, my father, that fear would cause me to vacillate or draw
back, for not in vain does your blood flow in my veins."

"O my son!" cried Don Fernando, feeling tears of joy coming to his eyes,
and clasping Don Sancho in his arms, "I do not now fear death, for Leon
and Castile will have in you the best of kings! Secure of leaving behind
me such a successor, I shall care not should I lose my life in the
wars."

"Not care for your life?" exclaimed at the same time the queen and his
children.

"How would it be with us should you die, dear father?" said Urraca, the
eldest of the princesses. "Grief would kill us also! Sad is the lot of
daughters who love their father very much and lose him!"

Just then it was announced to the king that Ximena Gome requested an
audience. Don Fernando, who never refused to hear his subjects, now
felt, more than ever, the desire of consoling the afflicted, and
believing that the daughter of the late Count of Gormaz was very
unhappy, he ordered that she should be conducted before him.

"Justice, my lord, justice!" exclaimed Ximena, casting herself at the
feet of the king, and unable to articulate other words, for sobs were
almost choking her.

The noble maiden was completely changed, a fearful pallor covered her
emaciated face, which was wet with tears, and even the disorder of her
garments and hair showed her grief.

"Justice, my lord, justice!" she repeated, as if she were about to lose
her reason, and as if the idea which those words conveyed was the last
glimmering light of her mind.

The king, the queen, and the princesses endeavoured to calm the
excitement of her mind with affectionate words, and their efforts were
not unavailing, for in a short time she was able to express the feelings
which overmastered her, and the desire which had led her thither.

"My lord, an audacious youth, the son of Diego Lainez, slew my father,
the Count of Gormaz, a few days ago, as you already know. Grief has kept
me prostrate on my bed until to-day, when I come to demand justice from
you. Grant it to me, my lord, by punishing the slayer of my father, for
if good kings represent on earth the authority of God, you, my lord,
must punish a murderer, under pain of incurring the displeasure both of
God and of men. During the fever which has been burning in my brain
since the day on which the hand of Rodrigo made me an orphan, I have
seen the spirit of my father, rising from his sepulchre and demanding
vengeance, and I promised it to him, counting on your justice. If you do
not grant it to me, my lord, cavaliers are not wanting amongst my
kinsmen who will respond to my request; I shall go through your states
of Leon and Castile, demanding the aid of all good men, and both friends
and strangers will hearken to my call, and the horrors of war will
avenge your injustice and the perfidy of De Vivar."

"Calm your grief and your resentment, Ximena," answered the king in a
kind voice, "for I promise to do you justice. If Rodrigo Diaz
treacherously killed your father, justice shall bring down her
inexorable sword on his head, just as if he were the humblest of my
subjects."

"My lord, I trust in your promise. Ask the princesses, what they think
is the grief of a daughter who loses her father, and the anger she
should feel against the man who killed him. Those who love you as I
loved my father can well understand what I suffer, and will make you
also, my lord, understand it."

"I have been informed that Rodrigo killed your father in fair and
honourable combat, and for my own part I can assure you that your father
had his sword, and also his dagger, unsheathed. That he was not attacked
unarmed is proved by the dangerous wounds which he inflicted on
Rodrigo."

"Ah! dangerous wounds!" exclaimed Ximena, her face again becoming pale,
which had coloured up with excitement whilst she was addressing the
king; and then she felt her impotence in trying to conquer love with
feelings of revenge. What would she not have given, at that moment, to
be able to tear from her heart that undying affection which, in her
mind, was a crime against the dead body of her father, whose wounds were
still dropping blood and crying for vengeance!

That exclamation was also a revelation to the king, who, not being
ignorant of the love which had formerly united Rodrigo and Ximena,
doubted whether it could have been completely extinguished in her, and
changed to hatred, as the demand she made of him seemed to testify. Don
Fernando, however, knew human hearts, especially the hearts of women,
too well, to openly oppose her feelings, especially when he felt almost
sure that they were but transitory; he knew very well that when a
sentiment is rooted in the core of the heart, it goes on increasing, of
itself, until it is powerful enough to drive away all others which had
been pressing it down, in the same way that the sun drives off the
clouds that for a time obscure his brightness, showing himself soon
again with the glory of the conqueror. The wise monarch also knew that
the weakest and most superficial caprices change, when strongly opposed,
into strong and deep determinations, and for that reason he resolved to
temporise with Ximena, trusting that time would make her desist from her
complaints. He knew the Count of Gormaz and Rodrigo well enough to feel
certain on whose side was the right, and he had not forgotten the grave
offence by which the former had given the latter just excuse to kill
him, even if the fight had been with equal arms, much more so when
perfidy was resorted to, for Don Gome had acted in a perfidious manner,
striking on the face an honourable and feeble old man who had held out
his hand generously to him.

"Ximena," he said to the maiden, "I repeat that you shall receive
justice from me; if Rodrigo acted treacherously he shall be punished,
and you know that in my realm there is justice for all, and no one can
escape it, be he ever so powerful."

Ximena returned to her dwelling. Notwithstanding the promise that the
king had given her to punish Rodrigo if he were guilty, her inquietude,
her grief, and her despair had increased rather than diminished. That
night her sleep was a delirium in which was epitomised an eternity of
torments; a horrible nightmare pressed on her for long hours; she saw a
man, exhaling his last breath, and calling out her name, the name of
Ximena.

And that man was not he whom she had seen during the nightmares of
preceding nights, that man was not her father.

He was Rodrigo Diaz!

When she awoke, when she succeeded in shaking off that terrible
nightmare, at the very instant in which she was struggling to get near
the dying man, in order to infuse new life into him with her breath,
calling him by the sweet names which she had lavished on him in other
times, when they wandered through the fields of Gormaz, or those of
Vivar, happy and joyful as the birds and butterflies, then,--ah! then,
she became enraged with herself, tore her hair in terrible despair, and
rushed to the window of her chamber in order to throw herself from it;
and she would have done so, if Lambra, who watched constantly by her
side, disconsolate and despairing like herself, had not pulled her back,
despite her struggles, which were but feeble, as her strength had been
much reduced by grief and by fever.

And when she recognised her impotence, not alone to crush down her love,
but also to find death as an end to her sufferings, she fell on her
knees, and, raising her eyes and hands to heaven, she exclaimed--

"O my father, pardon, pardon! Mother, why did you not smother me in your
arms when you brought me into the world?"

She then fell on the floor, like an inert mass, and the voice of Lambra
resounded through the mansion, summoning assistance for her mistress.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the following morning Ximena rose from her bed very early,
notwithstanding her strength being so reduced that she could scarcely
walk a step without stumbling, and began to make preparations for a
journey.

"But, my lady," said Lambra, "would you not be better at Gormaz, where
all love you, and where you would have your own house and the
recollections of your childhood?"

"It is from those very recollections that I desire to fly, for you well
know that Rodrigo and I passed our childhood partly at Gormaz and partly
at Vivar."

"You are right; I did not think of that; but, however it may be, it
would be a sad life in a desert like"--

"My life must be a sad one wherever I may be; and as my only hope is
now of heaven, I desire to make myself deserving of it whilst I live on
earth. If the king will not do me justice, the friends of my father will
do so; but I have not courage to hunt down him who shed my father's
blood.... I will not persecute him, but I shall forget him for ever."

Ximena and Lambra continued to get together all the articles necessary
for a long journey.

"Do you intend to bring these trifles with you?" asked the dueña,
showing to her mistress a casket which, with other things, she had taken
from a drawer.

"Yes," answered Ximena; "for that casket contains many souvenirs of my
mother.... But oh!" she added, "it also contains some of Rodrigo. Give
it to me, give it to me. I will keep for ever those of my mother, but I
shall burn those of that traitor."

And taking the case in her hand, she began to turn over the things which
it contained. They were, for the most part, ribbons, flowers, rings, and
children's toys. The first she drew out was a wreath of flowers. "Ah!"
she said, "with this wreath he adorned my brow on my fifteenth
birthday!"

She was about to pull it to pieces with her hands, but she feared to
touch the flowers, as if they were covered with thorns. She then drew
forth a black curl bound with green ribbon, and said, "Here is a lock of
his hair which he gave me the last time we were together at Gormaz, as a
pledge of a love which he himself has destroyed!" And she raised her
hand to cast it far from her; but she stopped, pensive, and apparently
struggling with opposing feelings. Suddenly tears gushed from her eyes,
and she cried out, placing the wreath and the curl again in the casket,
"Leave them there, Lambra, leave them there; and let this wreath and
this curl be the haircloth to torture me in my solitude."

The maiden remained motionless for a short time, during which she ran
over in her imagination the story of her love--the story of her
life--for they were both but one. The purest love,--ardent, surrounded
with heavenly illusions, with gilded dreams, with light, with
flowers,--the beauty of which can only be understood by certain
enamoured souls,--had entirely made up the life of Ximena. And at seeing
her hopes blasted, at seeing parched up, never to sprout forth again,
that flower of paradise which perfumed and inebriated her soul, she felt
her heart torn with the profoundest sadness, with an immense despair,
with an agony that cannot be described. The youth or the maiden who has
consecrated entire years to a love which holds its mastery in dreams as
well as in waking hours, always sweet, always beautiful, always
surrounded by an enchantment superior to all other enchantments of this
world, and in a day, in a few hours, loses, without hope of recovering
it, the object of that love--such a youth or maiden only can comprehend
the grief of Ximena. In those moments of terrible despair the sole
comfort that can be found is to have a mother, a father, a brother, a
friend--some being sufficiently good and sensible not to laugh at our
tears, so that we may cast ourselves into his arms and weep on his
breast, saying, "My heart is pierced; give me, for the sake of God, a
little love, with which I may calm my grief; fill up, as much as is in
your power, that deep void which is left in my soul; make less bitter
the transition state from hope to despair!"

And it was granted to Ximena to enjoy that comfort: she had Lambra
beside her, plain and homely, perhaps, but affectionate and good, and
she threw herself into her arms and solaced herself with copious tears.

On that same day the disconsolate girl set out for Castile, accompanied
by the dueña and a few of her servants; and tradition affirms that,
after them, a youth went out from Leon, who stopped on an eminence near
the city, and followed with his gaze the daughter of Don Gome, until a
distant turn of the road removed her from his view.



CHAPTER IX

HOW A MOORISH PRINCESS WAS CONVERTED, AND HOW A SOLITARY CEASED TO BE
SUCH


At that time the Moor Almenon was King of Toledo, and with him Don
Fernando the Great, King of Castile and Leon, kept up a cordial
friendship. This Moorish monarch had a daughter, very beautiful and
tender-hearted, named Casilda.

In the vicinity of the gardens which surrounded the Alcazar of Almenon,
there were gloomy dungeons in which wept, half-starved and loaded with
chains, many Christian captives.

One day, when Casilda was walking in her father's gardens, she heard the
sad wailings of those captives: her kind heart caused her to weep for
their sufferings, for she liked Christians from the time when, in her
girlhood, a Castilian female slave told her that the Christians loved
God, their king, and their families; that amongst them the weak and
oppressed were protected; that they rewarded the good and punished
evil-doers.

The princess then returned to the palace, with her heart full of
sadness, and knelt at the feet of her father, saying--

"My father, in the dungeons near your gardens a large number of captives
are suffering. Remove their chains from them, open the doors of their
prisons, and let them return to their own country, where await them, sad
and weeping, their parents, their brethren, their wives, or their
lovers."

Almenon blessed his daughter in the depths of his heart, for it was
naturally good, and as Casilda was kind and beautiful, and his only
daughter, he loved her as the apple of his eye. What loving father does
not rejoice when he sees that his children are good and tender-hearted?

The King of Toledo, however, far from complying with Casilda's request,
considered that he was bound to punish her rashness, for to
compassionate Christian captives and plead for their liberty was a
crime, according to the traditional belief of those of his race and
religion.

For this reason he concealed the contentment of his soul; for this
reason he said to Casilda, with a stern look and threatening voice--

"Depart, unbeliever! be silent, unworthy princess! Your tongue shall be
cut out, and your body cast into the flames, for such is the punishment
merited by the Moslim who pleads for the Nazarenes."

And he was about to summon his executioners, in order to hand his
daughter over to them.

Casilda, however, fell again at his feet, asking pardon from him by the
memory of her mother, the late queen, whose death Almenon had now wept
for a year.

And Almenon felt his eyes wet with tears, and he pressed her against his
breast and pardoned her, kissing her at the same time; he said,
however--

"Take care, my daughter, not to plead again for the Christians, nor even
to feel pity for them, for then I shall have neither pardon nor
compassion for you."

The maiden, nevertheless, walked again in the gardens, and the wailings
of the captives came again to her ears; charity strengthened her heart
and illumined her soul.

The princess bribed with gold one of the guards of the dungeons, and
from that time she went every day, bringing food and consolation to the
poor captives.

One day she was carrying food concealed in the folds of her garments,
when she suddenly met her father on a winding path, bordered by
rose-bushes.

It was a morning in springtime; the roses were expanding their blooms
all around; the birds were singing in the branches of the trees; the sun
was just beginning to cast his rays on the limpid jets of the fountains;
and the air was sweetened with the most delicious odours.

"What are you doing here so early?" asked Almenon of the maiden.

"My father," answered the princess, becoming as red as the roses which
the morning breeze was agitating by her side, "I have come to gaze upon
and enjoy the odour of those flowers, to hear the carols of the birds,
and to see the sun's rays sparkling in the fountains."

"What are you carrying in the folds of your dress?" asked the king in a
stern voice.

"Roses which I have gathered from these bushes," replied Casilda,
imploring from the bottom of her heart the aid of a holy being named
Mary, of whom, when she was a child, she had heard the Christian slave
speaking.

And Almenon, doubting her answer, opened the folds of her dress, and a
shower of roses fell upon the ground.

From that day the princess redoubled her assistance and her consolations
towards the captives; from that day she was more loved by her father;
from that day she adored, on the altar of her heart, the Nazarene
Divinity, and felt an ardent desire to adore Him in the Christian
temples. God, who sometimes leads His creatures to their good by the
strangest paths, struck down the bodily health of Casilda by a disease,
which withered the roses on her cheeks and filled Almenon and his Court
with uneasiness and fear.

The most famous physicians of Seville and Cordova were summoned to
Toledo; but they exhausted their science, and could not restore the
princess to health.

Almenon then wrote to the King of Leon and Castile, asking him to send
the best physician at his Court, and Don Fernando hastened to comply
with his request, for he also had daughters whom he loved, as Almenon
loved his.

The Leonese doctor came to the conclusion that the only chance of saving
the princess was by sending her to Castile, in which there was a lake,
the waters of which had great curative virtues, especially regarding the
disease from which Casilda was suffering.

And she went to Castile, entrusted by her father to the care of Don
Fernando, and having bathed in the lake of San Vicente, which is in the
province of Briviesca, she recovered her health, and the roses again
bloomed on her cheeks.

However, when the waters of the lake of San Vicente had healed her body,
Casilda desired that the waters of the Jordan should heal her soul, and
she received baptism, her godfather and godmother being the King and
Queen of Castile and Leon.

Her father learned soon that she had embraced the faith of the Nazarene,
and sent her word that he wished to see her no more. Casilda wept, for
she knew that her father also wept; but Jesus, who had restored to
health the daughter of Jairus, who had suffered as she had done, said,
"There is no man, that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or
father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the
gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses,
and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with
persecutions: and in the world to come eternal life." And Casilda
desired to follow the Nazarene.

She then determined to consecrate her life to penitence, where the
tumult of worldly passions could not interrupt her in her holy task, and
where, at the same time, she could practise charity towards all who
might be in need of it.

The lake of San Vicente was situated in a lonely, rugged country, and
thus the poor invalids who went to seek health in its waters could find
no person to extend hospitality to them, and very many died from the
cold of the winter, or the heat of the summer, both of which were
excessive in that region.

Casilda erected there a hermitage, and resolved to pass her life in it,
dedicating herself to the service of God, and to the care of suffering
and despairing human beings.

One day she saw a number of persons, some riding and some on foot, who
were making their way towards her humble abode, situated on the margin
of the lake. A litter, drawn by a horse, came on in the rear, in which
she thought she perceived two women. She believed that some invalids
were coming in search of health, as frequently happened, on account of
the beneficial qualities of the waters of the lake, and she hastened to
meet them, in order to offer them her charitable care and the
hospitality of her dwelling. Indeed, one at least of the two women who
occupied the litter appeared to be in a very weakly state, to judge from
the pallor and emaciation of her face. Casilda had arrived within a
short distance of the litter, and seeing that its drivers were in doubt
as to the way they should go, for the ground was very rough and covered
with brambles, amongst which it was difficult to discern the paths that
led towards the lake and the hermitage of the solitary, she said to the
strangers--

"If you are coming to my dwelling-place, where I shall willingly receive
you, I shall guide you to it by the shortest and easiest path."

"Yes," replied the pale woman in the litter, "we were proceeding to your
dwelling, and may God recompense you for any kindness and hospitality
you show us."

Casilda then walked on towards her hermitage, and the litter followed.

When all had arrived at the door, the women descended from the vehicle,
and Casilda recognised the younger of the women, who also knew her. They
embraced each other warmly.

"Ximena!" exclaimed the daughter of Almenon, "you in those solitudes!
Why, notwithstanding the emaciation of your face, did I not at once
recognise you--you to whom I was offering hospitality, as if to a
stranger, rather than to one whom I hold deep in my heart?"

"You see me here, Casilda," said Ximena,--"you see me here, seeking, not
the health of my body in the waters of this lake, but that of my soul in
solitude, in mortification, in prayer, and in charitable works; I
therefore desire to be your companion in this holy and peaceful
retreat."

"You are indeed welcome, friend of my soul! who thus abandons the
pleasures of the Court, in order to serve God and humanity in this
desert. Come into my dwelling, which is yours also, and take some
repose, for you have indeed need of it, as has also this worthy lady,
after the fatigues of your journey."

In truth, Ximena and Lambra, for now we know that they were the
travellers, were almost dead with weariness, for they had been obliged
to go a considerable portion of the way on foot, as some of the paths
were so rugged and bad that it would have been dangerous to remain in
the litter.

Immediately afterwards, Ximena sent away the vassals and servants who
had accompanied her, and entered the hermitage with Casilda, opening her
heart to her, as she would have opened it to her mother, if God had left
her by her side to strengthen her soul in the violent storm through
which it was passing.

We have seen that these two noble maidens knew each other formerly.
Ximena indeed had several opportunities of meeting Casilda during the
time she had spent at the Court of Don Fernando, previous to her
baptism, and two good and generous souls need but a short time to
understand each other. They understood and loved each other in a few
days.

Let us now leave them together in that solitude, which worldly cares did
not disturb, for other sad souls, like that of Ximena, call upon us to
reveal their griefs to the world.



CHAPTER X

HOW MARTIN SET OUT TO AVENGE HIS FATHER


Not far from the river Cea lived an old peasant named Ivan, who had been
a crossbow-man, in the time of the last Count of Castile, afterwards
lance-page, and finally squire. Tired of the dangerous and agitated life
which those of his profession had to go through, and being the possessor
of a little money, which, by economy, he had saved during several years,
he bought a cottage, with a few acres of land, retired to it with his
wife and children, and had lived there for some time, quite ignorant of
what was passing in the world, for his dwelling-place was in a lonely
valley, the quietude of which was only disturbed once a year by pilgrims
who passed through it on their way to the shrine which was near it.

On the night succeeding the day on which the annual festival was held
there, Ivan was sleeping tranquilly, for he had taken part in the
pilgrimage, when, at the first crow of the cock, someone knocked and
called out loudly at the door. The farmer awoke, went to his window,
and asked, by no means in a good temper--

"What drunken fellow is thumping at my door? By St. James! this is a
nice hour to disturb from their sleep people who have to get up early to
go to their field-work."

"Anger of God! what a churl you are, Señor Ivan!" answered the unknown
person, who did not appear to be in better humour than the farmer. "Open
the door at once, and cease your chattering, for there is no drunkard
here, or anything like one. Don't you know me?"

"May God forsake me if it is not that fool Martin!"

"The very same, confound you! Open at once, if you don't want me to
break in the door."

The farmer hastened to light a candle, and to let the stranger in. On
seeing him he started back, horror-struck: everything showed that the
newly arrived had been engaged, a very short time before, in a fierce
fight; his hands, his face, and even his clothes were covered with
blood.

"Glorious St. Isadore!" exclaimed Ivan, "what is the matter? You are
wounded?"

"In the soul!" replied the young man. "The wounds on my body matter
little, for they are only scratches that can easily be healed."

"Let me examine them for you."

"It is useless, Señor Ivan. Those which it is important for me to heal
are the wounds of my soul; the medicine you have to supply me with is a
lance, a crossbow, a sword, some arm or other, for I come to ask nothing
else of you."

"I shall give you one with pleasure, for there are plenty of arms in my
house, thanks to my old profession, and also to the need I have of them
in this lonely place, where I have often to defend myself against
bandits."

Ivan approached the light to one of the walls, on which were hung
various arms, and added--

"Take whichever you please, for the bravest knight of Leon or Castile
does not possess better tempered ones."

The young man took down a lance and also a sword, which he girt on with
as much skill as the most experienced cavalier could have used, and
said:--

"Thanks, Señor Ivan. God be with you and do not tell anyone that you
have seen me to-night."

"But, Martin, won't you tell me what you are going to do? What has
happened to you?"

"Some day you shall know, Señor Ivan."

"But where are you going, my son?"

"To avenge my father, who lies dead in the wood; and Beatrice, who has
already perhaps been dishonoured by Don Suero--may God curse him, and
may this lance soon pierce him through!"

"May it be so!" replied the farmer, embracing the young man, who,
throwing the lance across his shoulder, went forth from the house and
disappeared in the darkness.

Martin walked a long distance through the dark woods, until he came to
another house, situated in the midst of large and fertile meadows.

This house, or rather stable, belonged to Don Suero, and in it was kept
a magnificent stud of horses, the property of the count, which also had
the use of the meadows, and of which a single groom had the care.

Martin struck a heavy blow on the door of the stable.

"Who is there?" called out the groom.

"Open, if you do not wish me to break in the door, and your head as
well."

The groom considered himself too weak to resist a man who spoke in such
a way. He opened the door, trembling, and said--

"Pardon, sir cavalier."

"I am not a cavalier," interrupted Martin; "but I want to be one. Get
out the best horse you have in the stables."

"I would be delighted to please your honour, but"--

"'Fore God! he addresses me with 'buts'!" exclaimed Martin, placing his
hand on his sword.

"Pardon me, sir cavalier," the groom said, terrified, going into the
stalls and unloosing one of the best horses; "I only wished to tell you
that my master will almost beat me to death when he finds that I have
let one of his best horses be sto--I mean taken away. Does this one
please your lordship?"

"Yes," answered Martin; "put that saddle on it, which I see hanging up
there."

"Sir knight, that saddle is the one which is used in trying the paces of
the horses when my master comes to select one, and if you take it what
will become of me?"

"Be quick, I tell you; it will be only a few blows more or less," said
Martin in a threatening tone.

The groom saddled the horse without further reply. Martin buckled on a
pair of spurs, which he demanded from him, and, persuaded that the man
had not recognised him, he thought it most prudent to say no more. He
then sprang upon the horse, and giving the excellent steed a sharp
stroke, he disappeared through the adjacent fields.

Not far from the road which led from Burgos to Leon there was a hill,
situated so near it that its course could be seen from it for a long
distance; this hill was the resort of a band of robbers who at that time
were the terror of travellers who journeyed through that district.
Martin rode on to it, and arrived there shortly after daybreak. He
advanced a little into a wood which grew on the hill, and cried out,
making a kind of speaking-trumpet of his hand--

"Hallo, bandits!"

The look-out, whom the robbers had stationed not far from the place
where Martin stopped, had perceived him a short time before he spoke,
and as he saw that he came alone he did not think it necessary to give
the signal of alarm to his companions.

"Where is the cavalier going?" he cried out in his turn.

"To ask that I may be admitted into your honourable band."

Martin knew that honour is such a fine thing that even bandits like it
to be attributed to them.

"If such is your intention," said the look-out, "follow the path you see
then, and at the end of it you will find the entire band, whose chief
will, perchance, concede to you the honour which you solicit."

The young man then advanced, and in a short time discovered the bandits,
who were about twenty in number, and who were lying under trees, to the
trunks of which their horses were fastened. Martin could scarcely
forbear from shuddering and feeling a sense of repugnance, when he saw
the ferocity which was stamped on their visages, and when he heard the
filthy language they were using. On perceiving him, one of them arose,
who was distinguished from the others by his garb and by the large scars
which were on his hands and face. Martin began to make known to him the
object which led him thither, but the captain of the bandits, for it was
no other, interrupted him, saying--

"Brother, do you think we are deaf? We have heard you and we now know
for what you come. Tell me, however, what is it that entitles you to be
admitted into the band of the Raposo,[1] for by that name the son of my
mother is known?"

[1] A fox.

"Anger of God, Don Raposo, if it were any other but you who asked me
that question, you should soon pay a visit to your friend Señor Lucifer.
Do you not see, confound you, the blood which I have on my hands and
garments, and the wounds on my face. This blood does not come from
slaughtering cattle, nor those scratches from a jealous sweetheart. Go
to the place I shall mention to you, and you will find the body of the
cavalier whose life I have taken, in order to provide myself with these
arms and this steed, and when you are coming back fetch me the dagger
which I forgot to draw from his breast."

"You don't waste much respect on him who is to be your captain," said
the Raposo; "but I desire to be indulgent towards you as a reward for
the good work you have done. I believe what you say, for you could not
have become possessed in any other way of these arms and that splendid
horse, for your dress and your manner shows me that you are just as much
a cavalier as I am a bishop. However, if you wish to become a member of
our honourable brotherhood, you must take the usual oath."

"I will take a hundred of them if you like," answered Martin,
dismounting.

The captain of the bandits walked over to a tree, at the foot of which
were heaped up a great number of sacred vessels and ornaments, which
they had stolen that night from a neighbouring church, and taking up a
crucifix of considerable value he held it up before the youth, and
said--

"Will you swear fidelity to your brethren? Will you swear to carry off
women, to enter and plunder houses and churches, palaces and huts? Will
you swear to rob and kill priests the same as laymen, poor the same as
rich, women the same as men, children the same as grown-up people?"

"Yes, I swear!" replied Martin, firmly resolved, however, not to keep so
sacrilegious an oath, for he did not consider himself bound to do so,
taking it only with his lips and not from his soul.

"Salute our new brother!" said the Raposo, turning towards his
companions. They went up to him and embraced him one after the other.

"Brother," continued the captain, "when this ceremony was ended, you now
must know that he who is honoured by being received into our band, is
obliged to celebrate his admission by giving a skin of good wine to all
the members of the confraternity. I suppose that the late owner of your
arms and steed had also a well-lined purse, full of gold coins, and
therefore, I expect that you will be generous towards us."

Martin was rather perplexed at this requirement, for he had no money
whatever; knowing, however, that with such people he must show himself a
braggart in every way, he replied--

"If another had expressed a doubt of my generosity, he would lose his
tongue for it. I have not a single miserable coin about me; what do I
want with money? By all the saints in heaven and all the demons in hell,
do you imagine that I am one of those honest peasants who only drink
when they can pay for it?"

All the bandits pulled out purses full of gold, and exclaimed--

"Brother, take as much money as you want; we will lend it to you until
we make our next haul; you can then pay us back out of your share of
it."

"I thank you," replied Martin; "but I won't take it, for I don't want
it. You will see, by Señor Noah, that I'll manage to get wine enough to
make half Castile drunk, even if, to procure it, I have to send to the
devil all the innkeepers within ten leagues round us."

Thus speaking, he gave spurs to his horse, rode through the thick wood,
and disappeared, light as the wind, in the direction of a lonely
hostelry, which could scarcely be distinguished on the distant horizon.
He paid no attention to the voices of his new comrades, who called after
him, cautioning him of the risk he ran of falling into the hands of a
patrol of the Salvadores,[1] bodies of armed horsemen who, by command of
the king, requested to give it by the Count of Carrion and other
grandees, wandered through that district for the purpose of protecting
travellers from the attacks of the highwaymen.

[1] Saviours, deliverers.

We know not how Martin arranged matters with the innkeeper, but two
hours had scarcely passed when he returned, bringing, thrown across his
saddle-bow, a large leather wine-bag, which contained fully twenty
gallons, according to our modern measures. Shouts of joy and loud
applause received him on his return.

"He is a good comrade, and will be the pride of the band of the Raposo."

"What an aroma that wine has! It is three years old, at least."

"I'd like to have some of those Moorish dogs here, to see if they would
turn up their noses at that gift of God."

"The monks of Sahagun never taste better."

"Thunder and lightning, what a night we'll have with it!"

"I'd turn Moor at once if Mahomet were only as good as it is."

"The innkeeper was a heretic, and kept it without baptizing it."

"Yes, yes, the wine-bag is a Moor--it is a Moor!"

"Then let us attack him. To arms--to arms! War, war!"

"War to the Moor! Up for St. James and Spain!"

Such were some of the exclamations which followed the arrival of Martin.

Having uttered these cries, the bandits took several sacred vessels from
the heap whence the Raposo took the crucifix on which he had
administered the oath to Martin, and the sacrilegious ruffians filled
them with wine and lifted them to their impure lips.

Martin shuddered at the sight of this impious profanation and did not
take any part in it.

The Raposo noticed this, and said to him--

"Brother, you would make a bad priest if you can't drink out of a
chalice. Is it because you have not taken orders?"

"By Lucifer!" exclaimed Martin, placing his hand on his sword, feeling
persuaded that he was lost if he did not put on a bold face. "Know, Don
Raposo, or Don Villain, that if I have not orders I at least have a
sword, and that if I do not drink wine, I'll drink the blood of anyone
that insults me as you do."

"So, low peasant," replied the Raposo, also placing his hand on his
steel, "you dare to speak thus to your captain! I'll resign my
honourable position if my dagger does not teach you to be respectful."

The two opponents held their naked swords, and were about to rush on
each other; all the bandits, however, hastened to make peace, trying to
persuade the Raposo that their new comrade, instead of meriting
punishment, deserved praise, since by his audacity he showed what might
be expected from him when occasion should arise. These reasonings
appeared to be satisfactory to the Raposo; he laid aside his vexation
and stretched out his hand to Martin, saying--

"Pardon, brother; I only wished to try your mettle, and I am satisfied
with it."

"You, señor captain, must pardon me," replied the young man, clasping
the rough hand of the bandit; "but know that I cannot bear being
calumniated, by being supposed incapable of doing what my comrades do.
Do you think that it is scruples of conscience that prevent me from
using these vessels? I want a big draught of wine to satisfy my thirst,
and I shall not drink it from a nutshell, as you do."

Thus speaking, Martin took the helmet from the head of one of the
robbers, poured wine into it and emptied it at a draught, amid the
applause and acclamations of the bandits.

They continued without ceasing their libations, the wine-bag was getting
emptier and emptier, and drunkenness was overmastering all of them,
including the captain. Notwithstanding, Martin kept his head clear,
whether it was that he was more accustomed to wine, or, which is more
probable, that he drank very little, although he lifted the helmet often
to his mouth, taking advantage of the condition of his companions.

The state in which they then were was horrible to see; their lips only
uttered blasphemies, obscene expressions, and disconnected phrases; and
in the end sleep took possession of the greater part of them. Even the
look-out had abandoned his post, seeing that his comrades did not come
to relieve him, and as he was desirous of participating in their
libations and uproarious merriment.

It appeared to Martin that he heard the sound of the footsteps of horses
in the direction of the main road, and, turning in that direction, he
cried out--

"The Salvadores! Up, comrades! the Salvadores!"

Five or six of the bandits arose on hearing that cry, and, following the
example of Martin, hastened to mount their horses. Some of the others,
including the Raposo, were fast asleep, and the rest, having tried to
rise, fell back again on the ground.

The danger was imminent, the situation was desperate; the hill extended
in its entire length only about fifteen hundred paces, and was
surrounded on all sides by an extensive and bare plain. The only exit
from the wood was the path which led to the road, for the roughness of
the ground and the closeness of the trees and bushes made it impossible
for horses to proceed in any other direction. If Martin and his
companions abandoned their steeds, and hid themselves in the brushwood,
they would be very soon discovered; if they tried to go on foot across
the plain, they could easily be overtaken by the Salvadores, who were
mounted on swift horses. What course should then be adopted? This
question was asked him by the robbers, when the band of the Salvadores,
only about forty paces distant from them, was advancing in their
direction as quickly as the nature of the ground permitted.

"Companions," said Martin, placing himself at their head, "no other
resource remains for us but to break through them, sword in hand, and
endeavour to reach the plain, whether we are killed or not."

"Yes, yes, forward!" they all cried out, knowing that Martin had
indicated the only means of escape left for them, and they put spurs to
their horses. As that of Martin was the best, the least fatigued, and
the lightest, the young man preceded his comrades by a short distance,
and rushing, with sword in hand, into the midst of the Salvadores, he
unhorsed one of them with almost each stroke, and the others followed
him, and broke through their opponents, not less boldly and promptly. At
last they succeeded in gaining the main road, from whence they heard the
death-cries of those whom they had left in the wood, struck down by the
swords of the Salvadores; they then fled across the plain in the
direction of the mountains of Oca.

Martin had received several wounds, although none of them were serious,
and was losing much blood. After some time they arrived at a small hill,
surrounded by trees on all sides, and from which the surrounding country
could be seen for a considerable distance.

"Brother, let us dismount here, that we may examine your wounds," said
his companions to Martin.

They at once dismounted, and all the bandits embraced Martin, calling
him their deliverer.

"You shall be our captain," said one of them, "for you are worth more
than a hundred like Raposo."

"Yes, yes, you shall be our captain, brother. Long live our captain!"
they all cried out unanimously and with enthusiasm.

"I thank you, comrades," replied Martin; "and I swear by those dogs of
Salvadores whom my good sword has sent to the other world, that I shall
prove myself worthy of the honour you confer on me. You have heard the
cries of agony of our companions, who have been cowardly butchered by
those fellows?"

"Yes, yes, we have heard them! Poor Captain Raposo!"

"Well, then, it is for us to avenge them. You do not yet know the name
of your new captain. I call myself the Vengador,[1] brothers. Let the
band, then, of the Vengador be as much feared as was that of the Raposo;
war to the death against the grandees who urged on the king to institute
the brotherhood of the Salvadores. At present we are weak, but in a
short time we shall be strong; we are persecuted to-day, to-morrow we
shall be protected everywhere, if you will only obey my orders and be
guided by my advice."

[1] Avenger.

"We shall be your slaves, brother captain. You are skilful and brave, we
owe you our safety, and we trust in you to avenge our comrades."

"Now listen, brothers," continued Martin; "I wish to explain to you what
our conduct is to be from this day."

"But, captain," interrupted one of the band, "let us first bandage your
wounds, for you will lose much blood if we don't do so."

"No, by Beelzebub! My blood must run till the venom, which the cowardly
conduct of those vile Salvadores has put into it, has all left it."

This answer of their bold captain captivated more and more the hearts of
the bandits, to whose eyes tears came--tears which they would not have
shed on hearing the pitiful wailings of poor peasants from whom they had
stolen the small store with which they had hoped to support their
families; of unhappy parents whose daughter was about to be their
victim; of the sad wife whom their swords had condemned to widowhood; of
the weak children whom they had made orphans, without means of
subsistence.

"Hear me, brothers," continued the Vengador; "from to-day, war to the
strong and help to the weak! If we go near the poor, it must be only for
the purpose of alleviating their misery with what we shall have taken
from the powerful. Have any of you daughters or a wife?"

"Yes," replied one of the robbers; "I have a daughter who is worth more
than those of the king, and I love her more than the apple of my eyes."

"I have a wife," answered another, "and, although a peasant, she is of
more value than the most noble dame in Castile. For this I love her as
well as people say the son of the Grandee of Vivar loves the daughter of
De Gormaz."

"Well, then, what would you do if your daughter were torn away from
you?"

"Anger of God! If such were done, I would never rest till my dagger was
buried in the heart of him who took her from me, even were he hid in the
bowels of the earth, even if he fled to the ends of the world! Brother
captain, say no more, for God's sake; thinking only of such a thing
makes my blood boil."

"And you," he said, turning to the other, "what would you do if your
wife were taken from you and dishonoured?"

"If such happened," he exclaimed, placing his hand on his dagger with an
instinctive movement, and his eyes flashing fire, "my sword would pierce
a hundred hearts and then my own! But for what reason do you ask us such
questions, captain?"

"Because I wish to put you on your guard,--you on account of your wife,
and you, of your daughter, if they live in this district; for there is
in it a ruffianly count, who carries off wives from their husbands, and
daughters from their fathers."

"Who, then, is that count?" asked all the bandits, full of indignation.

"The Count of Carrion," replied Martin, repressing with difficulty the
joy he felt on seeing how successfully he had disposed his companions to
aid him in his projects of vengeance. "The Count of Carrion," he
continued, "is the most cruel, the most treacherous, and the worst of
men; when you return home to clasp your daughters or your wives to your
hearts, perchance you will find that he has stolen them from you."

"May the earth open and may we sink into hell, if we suffer such a
wretch to live any longer!" exclaimed the robbers; and Martin continued,
more warmly and solemnly--

"Yes, yes, comrades, let the Count of Carrion die, if we ourselves do
not desire to die like the Raposo and the greater part of his band. It
is that count who has sacrificed our brothers, for to him is due the
creation of the brotherhood of the Salvadores."

"Let us attack his castle!" all exclaimed; "let us bury our swords in
the breast of that traitor count!"

"But Don Suero, for such is his name, will be able to say to us, that if
he carries off young girls and married women, we also do the same; that
if he attacks and wounds poor people, and deprives them of their means
of subsistence, we also do the same."

"But from this day forward we shall not do such things. Let us all now
swear that we will plunge our daggers in the breast of any comrade who
dares to commit such crimes." Thus spoke the bandit who had a daughter.

Without the slightest hesitation, they all then took a solemn oath, that
in future they would not ill-treat women, or injure and rob the poor and
helpless.

Martin now began to feel weak on account of the quantity of blood he had
lost, and considered that he should not delay any longer the binding of
his wounds.

One of the bandits gathered some herbs that were abundant in that
country, and applied them to the wounds of his captain, having first
washed them in water brought in a helmet from an adjacent spring. They
were bound up with bandages, made from a handkerchief which was torn up
for that purpose.

The much reduced band of the Vengador rested under the trees of the
thick wood, where the horses found abundant pasture; and when the vesper
bells began to ring in the surrounding villages, the bandits mounted
their horses and, according to the orders of their captain, continued
their way towards the Sierra de Oca.



CHAPTER XI

HOW THE DE VIVAR FAMILY RECEIVED LETTERS FROM THE KING, DON FERNANDO


A few days after the events which we have related in preceding chapters,
Diego Lainez and his family, including Rodrigo, were seated at table in
the castle of Vivar. All were in good spirits, all were eating with
excellent appetites, except the last-mentioned, who in vain endeavoured
to take part in the general joyousness; but the smile departed suddenly
from his lips, as if there came to drive it away some sad memories,
which the most trivial phrases of those present seemed to awake in his
soul.

Teresa, who was observing her son, saw his inquietude and sadness, and
from that moment she shared them with him; for the feelings of a son
reflect themselves in a mother, especially when she is as good as the
mother of Rodrigo was.

"My son," she said to the youth, who was then buried in thought, "why
are you so sad when we all have such reason to be joyous, especially
you, who have washed off the blot that stained our honour? What is the
cause of your sadness?"

"Mother," replied Rodrigo, "have you not heard that Casilda, the
solitary of the lake of San Vicente, shares her home with a noble maiden
who also has gone to bury herself in that solitary place?"

"Yes."

"That maiden is Ximena Gome."

"Let her then, my son, weep in solitude over the perfidy of her father,
let her consecrate some of her days to God, and to the care of the poor
invalids who resort to the lake to seek their health, for grief finds
its first consolations in God and in those who suffer. If she loves you
still, of which I have no doubt, her grief will pass away, and her love
will remain; for true love is eternal, and grief, no matter how deep, is
transitory."

"Do you believe, my mother, that Ximena can love the slayer of her
father?"

"Yes, my son, for in killing her father you gave another proof of your
noble character, and Ximena herself would have abhorred you if she saw
you regard with indifference the stain which her father had cast on the
honour of yours."

"Do you not know that, before she quitted the court, she demanded
vengeance against me from the king, supposing that I had wrongfully
killed her father?"

"Yes," interposed Diego Lainez, who until then did not wish to interrupt
the conversation between his wife and son; "and such is the duty of
every daughter. The king, however, is too wise and just to believe such
a thing, and to punish one who not only committed no offence, but rather
added fresh lustre to his honour."

"Notwithstanding, my father, I fear that the king is much displeased
with us, for the question regarding Calahorra is now the foremost one,
and he has not asked your advice, as he always was in the habit of doing
in similar cases."

Just as Rodrigo said this, a servant entered, announcing the arrival of
a messenger from the king, from whom he brought letters for Diego Lainez
and Rodrigo.

A perceptible uneasiness came upon the countenance of Diego, as well as
on those of his wife and son. A moment afterwards the old man was
reading a sheet of parchment, upon which was the royal seal, and the
young man was reading a similar one. This is what the first contained:--


     "Much honoured Diego Lainez, the King of Leon and Castile salutes
     you, whom he loves the most of all his subjects. Know that we await
     you impatiently in our Alcazar, for it is our wish that you should
     devote your wisdom and prudence to the education of the princes,
     our sons, as we informed you but a short time ago, in the presence
     of the cavaliers of our court. Pay attention to your health till it
     is quite restored from the injury which the wounds made on your
     honour must have caused it, and as those have been healed, receive
     the congratulations which, on that account, we offer you.--THE
     KING."


The second letter, directed to Rodrigo, was conceived in the following
terms:--


     "To you, Rodrigo Diaz, a good son as well as a good knight, the
     king sends his greetings; be it known to you that the King of
     Aragon disputes with us the possession of Calahorra, alleging
     injustice on the part of the king our father, who made it over to
     us of his own good will, when God was pleased to call him to
     Himself. And as we have agreed to confide the decision of the
     dispute to the valour of two cavaliers, one to be named by us, and
     the other by the King of Aragon, it is our will that you shall be
     he who is to defend our rights, combating with Martin Gonzalez, who
     has been appointed to defend those which Don Ramiro claims to
     possess. You have given proof of being an honourable and valiant
     knight, by slaying De Gormaz to avenge the insult offered to your
     father's and to your honour, and we doubt not but that the
     enterprise, which we confide to you, shall come to a successful
     issue.--THE KING."


"Martin Gonzalez," exclaimed Rodrigo, trembling with joy, "is then the
champion of Aragon! Father, Calahorra shall remain to Don Fernando, and
I shall have another claim on Ximena for her love. Let God put me front
to front with Martin Gonzalez, in order that my sword may cause to bite
the dust the only man I hate in this world, now that De Gormaz is
dead--a man whom Ximena also abhors."

"Yes, my son," replied Diego, participating in the delight of his son,
both on account of the honours which both of them had received from the
king, and the enterprise which had been entrusted to Rodrigo, in which
he was likely to gain still further glory. "Yes, you shall fight for
your king and for your love, and you shall conquer; do not doubt of it,
Rodrigo. To-morrow we shall return to the court, where happier days
await us than those which we recently experienced in it."

Thus speaking, both parents embraced their son, for Teresa also shared
in the satisfaction of her husband and Rodrigo. The latter, indeed, was
about to engage in a fight in which one of the combatants was almost
certain to lose his life, but Teresa trusted in the valour of her son,
and at that period the sentiment of honour was superior to all
affections, to all fears, to all interests. Then the mother who most
loved her son was the very one who most ardently desired to see him
engaged in some honourable and hazardous enterprise, even though the
chances of gaining honour were less than those of losing life.

The reader, who doubtless remembers the interview between Ximena and
Rodrigo in the halls of the Alcazar, will also remember the fears which
both of them entertained, that Don Gome might bestow the hand of his
daughter on another man. Let us see if such fears were well founded.

Before the battle of Atapuerca, and when enmity was commencing between
Diego Lainez and Don Gome, the latter was sent to the court of Aragon,
in reality as the ambassador of Don Fernando, but he imagined that it
was a kind of exile, brought about by the artifices of De Vivar. Martin
Gonzalez, who was one of the most powerful grandees of Aragon, gave him
hospitality in his mansion, and entertained him magnificently,
apparently for no reason but to return the marks of friendship which he
had received from the count, some time before, at Gormaz, where he had
been at the celebration of a tournament, in which were engaged both
Castilian and Aragonian knights. Martin then saw Ximena, and was charmed
with her beauty and prudence; but he did not demand her hand, believing
that it would not be accorded to him, as he was aware that it had been
promised to Rodrigo. However, whilst Don Gome was enjoying his
hospitality, Martin Gonzalez discovered the recent bitter feelings which
he entertained towards De Vivar, and he believed that the time had
arrived for winning what he so ardently desired. He fanned the flames of
discord between Diego Lainez and Don Gome, strengthening by means of
calumny the belief which the latter entertained, that he owed his
disfavour at the court to the artifices of De Vivar. Then, when he had
sufficiently worked on the mind of Don Gome, he asked him for the hand
of Ximena, which was granted, on condition, however, that she should be
in no way forced to grant it against her will, for, with all his faults,
De Gormaz, as we have said before, loved his daughter, and, although he
had then resolved that she should not marry Rodrigo, he did not intend
that she should become the wife of another, except with her own free
consent. These infamous schemes, which were the principal causes of the
division between the two families, were known to Ximena and to Rodrigo,
and that is why they both entertained a deep hatred towards Martin
Gonzalez, and certainly that hatred was legitimate and just.

We do not wish to leave the castle of Vivar without knowing the
condition of affairs between the squire and his two sweethearts, for
which reason we shall enter a chamber, which must be that of Fernan, for
he is in it, and a lance and other instruments belonging to his
profession are suspended on its walls.

The valiant squire must be in very low spirits, for when he is not so he
talks, when in company, as much as four, or if alone, sings ballads of
love or chivalry; but now he is silent, with his head bent down, as if
buried in deep and disagreeable thought. Another servitor, however,
enters the apartment, and from his words we shall perchance learn
something of that which we desire to know.

"On my soul," said the page, for such he was, "you are now just as much
what you used to be as I am a bishop. What are you doing with your head
sunk on your breast, and so miserable, when such glad news has come to
our lords and masters?"

"Tell me, then, Alvar, what news have come?"

"I will tell you willingly as much as I know. I swear that the tidings
must be good--and so good that my masters gave the messengers who
brought them presents so valuable, that if they are not worth at least
more than a hundred ounces of good silver, may the saints forsake me at
the hour of my death!"

"But will you not tell me, accursed chatterer that you are, what the
news is which the messenger has brought?"

"Yes, Fernan, I will, and I am just coming to it. But what good has it
done you to visit so often the witch of the torrent, if you have not yet
learned to know things beforehand, an art in which people say she
excels?"

"I vow by Judas Iscariot that I'll throw you out of the window if you
don't cease talking such nonsense, and get out of this at once."

Alvar stepped backwards on seeing the threatening gesture of the
impatient squire, for he knew that it was the habit of Fernan to
accompany his words with acts, to which his ribs, almost broken more
than once by the squire, could testify. As the reader has already
perceived, the page was one of those young men who are so fond of
circumlocutions that they go to the grain, as sparrows, through the
straw. We have corresponding types in our own times, as may be often
seen in meetings of Parliament, in which is often heard the cry, "To the
grain, to the grain!" or "Question, question," which is the same thing.

Thanks, then, to the threats of Fernan, the page related, without any
more roundabout expressions, what had brought the messenger of Don
Fernando; adding, as we already know, that both Diego and Rodrigo had
decided to set out for the court on the following day.

"I am much pleased to hear that," said Fernan, "for my life at Vivar is
but a lingering death, since that ungrateful Mayorica repays my love
with scratches and insults, and that vixen of an Aldonza shuts the door
in my face."

"Then you love them, Fernan?" said the page, much surprised.

"And I must love them, I fear, in spite of the fact that they treat me
worse than a captive Moor."

"By the soul of my grandfather, he who goes on in that way deserves a
hundred lashes. Oh, how vain are the intentions of lovers! Why don't you
swear, you unfortunate man, that as long as you live you'll have nothing
more to do with women?"

"What do you desire, Alvar? Man proposes and woman disposes. I was born
with such weaknesses, and I fear that I shall die with them."

"Conquer these inclinations of yours, Fernan."

"It's not easy to do that. However, I swear to you, friend Alvar, that
my eyes are opened with regard to the fair sex, and I'll do my best to
be done with them from this time forward."

"If you don't do so soon, I tell you again, as I have already said, that
you will deserve a hundred good lashes."

"It is easily seen, Alvar, that you have no heart. You never knew, and
don't know now, what love is."

"Alas!" said the page, heaving a deep sigh; "I know it but too well,
friend Fernan. If we carried our hearts on our foreheads, you would see
mine, and it would move you to compassion."

"By Judas Iscariot! what do you tell me, friend Alvar? You in love?"

"Don't be surprised, Fernan, for one should be made of stone not to
fall in love with the tyrannical and gentle maiden for whom I sigh."

"Tell me, who is this sovereign beauty?"

"Yes, I will tell you, Fernan. You and your master brought her to
Vivar"--

"Explain quickly what you mean!" exclaimed the squire, becoming suddenly
very angry again.

"I tell you," hastened to answer Alvar, fearing the look of Fernan,
"that Beatrice, the maiden whom you and Don Rodrigo rescued at the inn,
has me almost dead with love."

"You will soon be dead by my hands!" cried the squire, rushing at the
page and furiously seizing him by the throat. "What is that you dare to
say, ill-born lout? You in love with Beatrice! you dare to place your
eyes where I have fixed mine!"

"Fernan, Fernan, let me loose! you are choking me with your hands of
iron! If I had known that you were in love with her, I should have had
no more thought of loving her than of turning Moor."

Fernan let go the page, feeling convinced that he had set his eyes on
Beatrice, not knowing that doing so would offend him.

"Yes, I love her," said the squire; "and, except my master, no one has
any right to interfere with me, for my lance made the fellows that were
carrying her off bite the dust. Although up to the present she has
showed herself insensible to my prayers, she shall learn how worthy I am
of serving her, and will yield to me, so that I may requite myself for
the cruelty of Mayorica."

The page found it hard to give up the conquest of the maiden who had
been rescued from Don Suero, but he found the hands of Fernan harder;
for that reason he promised him solemnly that he would not expose
himself again to his anger by paying attentions to Beatrice. The thrice
enamoured squire was satisfied with this, and both continued to converse
amiably, when they heard some persons exclaim in an adjacent room--

"Father!"

"Daughter of my soul!"

To these exclamations followed sobs and repeated kisses.

The page and the squire proceeded thither, and found Beatrice in the
arms of a peasant, advanced in years.

It was the father of the maiden, who had been informed that she was in
the castle of Vivar, and who had not come sooner to clasp her in his
arms for the reason which his own words will explain.

"My daughter, how were you rescued from that accursed Don Suero? How is
it that I find you here?" asked the elderly man; and she began
immediately to inform him of what had happened since she had been torn
from his side.

The poor farmer shed tears of gratitude on learning the protection that
had been given to his child by Rodrigo and the other inmates of the
castle.

"Ah," he exclaimed, "God will bless those who have restored a daughter
to her father; God will protect the good cavalier who drew his sword in
defence of the oppressed, and for the punishment of a wicked tyrant."

But as Beatrice was impatient to learn what had happened to those who
were her companions when returning from the pilgrimage, and what had
taken place afterwards at Carrion, her father hastened to relieve her
uneasiness and anxiety.

"The father of Martin," he said, "was killed by a stab which he received
in the horrible fight from one of the retainers of Don Suero. Martin
embraced his dead body and cried out, weeping--

"'Father, father! your son will avenge you!'

"He then turned to your mother and to me, and added, 'Your daughter
shall also be avenged; I swear it by the love I always had for her, and
by the salvation of my father's soul.' He then disappeared, and no one
since then has learned where he is."

"But was he wounded?" asked Beatrice anxiously.

"No, my daughter," replied her father.

And the girl murmured in a low tone--

"I thank thee, O my God! I am still worthy of him--I trust in his love."

These words were a dagger-blow to Fernan, who doubtless believed that
the lover of Beatrice had fallen in the combat, and that the maiden had
already forgotten him. It was little less for Alvar, who, although he
had promised the squire to renounce his pretensions to the love of
Beatrice, still nursed the idea of following them on, acting prudently
behind the back of the squire. Thus it was that they looked at each
other gloomily, and, with a certain kind of despair, Fernan said to the
page--

"It appears to me, friend Alvar, that we fail in courtesy and good
manners, listening to conversations which do not concern us."

"Certainly," replied Alvar.

And although Beatrice and her father told them that they did not
inconvenience them in the slightest, each one retired in a different
direction, Fernan muttering--

"Ungrateful, ungrateful women! The more one loves them the worse is he
treated. But I, curse me! am myself the cause of the misfortunes which
have come upon me, for I have enraged Mayorica, looking out for too much
love. There are certainly more than two women in Spain for each man, and
I swear by the soul of Beelzebub that I am right in my calculation; but
as women are so stupid that they won't listen to reason, why should I
not resign myself to their foolishness, and enjoy the love of one of
them. Well, then, from this day forward I shall devote myself heart and
soul to Mayorica, and let the others see what a treasure of love they
have lost in me. Mayorica is fierce when I annoy her, but kind and
affectionate when I please her. Oh, Mayorica of my eyes! you shall not
have to complain again of your lover, for if you guard your honour for
him, he will do the same for you."

And Alvar--

"What a fool I was to fall in love, when I saw how things were going
with Fernan. It is a sad thing to find the position occupied, when for
the first time a man bestows his affections on a woman. They seem to be
born provided with lovers, just as they are with arms and legs. O Lord,
what a blessing it would be to men if you had created them without
hearts!"

The old man continued--

"We arrived at Carrion, and on the following day your mother was
stricken down with an illness which nearly cost her her life. She called
out for you in her delirium, and she could not be consoled. Then the
news of your safety arrived, and her health improved so much that I was
able to leave her to come to you."

"Let us set out at once, father, for I must return to my mother. No
danger threatens me at Carrion, for the sword of my deliverer deprived
the count of life."

"It deprived him of his prey, my daughter, but not of his life, for Don
Suero returned to his castle the next day, and has recovered from his
wounds, which he says he received fighting with a band of robbers."

"Then what shall we do, father?" exclaimed Beatrice; "what shall we do
to protect you and my mother from his anger, for having thwarted his
criminal intentions, and to protect me from a fresh attempt on his part?
But, ah! do not be uneasy, father, go and bring hither my mother; let us
fly from the estates of the count. I am certain that the generous and
noble family, to whom we owe our safety, will give us a small piece of
ground to farm, a humble refuge, in which we shall be able to enjoy a
tranquil life, and show our gratitude to, and bless our benefactors
every day."

Beatrice was not wrong in trusting to the generosity of the lord and
lady of Vivar. A few days after, she and her parents were installed,
content and happy, in a small farmhouse, situated at a short distance
from the castle, surrounded by fields which Pero Lopez, for such was the
name of the girl's father, was ploughing with a pair of mules which, a
short time before, had been feeding in the stables of Diego Lainez.



CHAPTER XII

THE COMBAT BETWEEN RODRIGO AND MARTIN GONZALEZ


The cocks were crowing in Vivar, when Diego Lainez and Rodrigo,
accompanied by squires and pages, amongst whom were Fernan and Alvar,
started for Calahorra. All the roads were alive with people, who were
making their way towards that town, desirous of being present at the
combat between Martin Gonzalez and the knight of Castile and Leon; for
the champion of the King of Aragon enjoyed the reputation of being a
doughty cavalier, and it was believed, not without good reason, that, to
confront him, Don Fernando would select the bravest of his cavaliers.
The morning was beautiful, the road had been recently put into good
condition by order of the king, who had proceeded to Calahorra, and
everything contributed to make the journey pleasant, the district then
being as full of animation and life as it was dull and gloomy during the
greater part of the year. This conduced to the fact that Diego and
Rodrigo arrived at Calahorra, preserving the pleasant feelings which the
letters of the king had brought with them. More than once the brave
youth heard the good wishes which the passers-by expressed for the
success of the champion of Don Fernando, although they did not know who
he was; and, far from feeling any fear as to the result of the contest,
he became more and more confident, and felt sure that he would be the
victor, notwithstanding the fact that the wounds which he had received
from Don Gome were not yet quite healed.

Diego and his son proceeded, immediately on their arrival in Calahorra,
to the temporary residence of the king. Don Fernando received both of
them most warmly, and Diego could not forbear feeling, with great
pleasure, how much brighter his honour then shone than when he was last
at the court.

"Sire," said Rodrigo, as much moved as his father, "you have conferred
on me an honour which I do not deserve, and which the best cavalier in
the world might well envy. If I had done anything to merit it, you would
now only be paying me a debt; but, not having done such, I owe you one,
and I am longing for the moment when I can repay it."

"That moment, Rodrigo, is very near: this very day the place for the
combat shall be arranged and the conditions settled, so that the fight
may begin at sunrise, as you are so anxious for it.

"Would to God, Rodrigo," continued Don Fernando, throwing his arms round
the neck of the young man, "that I had a son like you! I would give my
crown to have one as brave and good as the son of Diego Lainez."

Diego raised his rugged and noble brow, with a movement caused by
paternal pride, and at that moment he would not have exchanged his
happiness for a king's throne.

"You have such a son, sire," replied Rodrigo, with much modesty. "Don
Sancho will be a brave cavalier and a prince worthy to succeed his
father on the throne of Castile and Leon. Sire, ask the few Moors and
Christians that were left alive at Atapuerca, who the valiant cavalier
was that struck terror into the army of the King of Navarre, and they
will tell you that he was a beardless youth, as cool as he was daring,
as fearless as he was skilful in the use of his sword; they will also
tell you that he was Don Sancho, your son. The laws of the duel
authorise the champion to select a second according to his pleasure, and
I, using that right, select as my second the Infante Don Sancho if such
a choice does not displease you and your family."

"The Infante will feel honoured by your selection, which I as his
father, approve of. Go and take some repose, Rodrigo, and prepare
yourself for to-morrow's combat. And you, honoured Diego, from this day
forward shall reside in my Alcazar, for I desire to have you near me, so
that you may assist me with your advice, and also to have you near my
sons, that, from your experience and loyalty, they may become endowed
with all the good qualities which are so conspicuous in your son."

"Sire," said Diego, "permit me to kiss your hand."

"I give you, not alone my hand, but also my heart;" and he embraced the
old man affectionately.

The following day dawned, peaceful and beautiful as the one which had
preceded it, and an unusual animation could be noticed in the town.
Ladies and cavaliers, citizens and rustics, all, indeed, were proceeding
to a place at the junction of the rivers Cidacos and Ebro, where, in a
beautiful meadow, had been erected the enclosure in which the combat was
to take place between Rodrigo Diaz and Martin Gonzalez. The
circumstances connected with the two champions, and the grave question
which was about to be decided, raised to the highest degree the public
curiosity: it was not a private affair, but a matter that concerned two
kings, and in which two powerful kingdoms were interested. As to the
knights selected to settle it, Martin Gonzalez was one of the most
valiant warriors of the period; and the killing of Don Gome de Gormaz
had given to Rodrigo Diaz extraordinary celebrity, for the count had
been considered invincible, and he who conquered him had a just right to
be looked on as also invincible. The love affairs of Rodrigo and Ximena
had already become public property, and also the pretensions of Martin
Gonzalez to the hand of the orphan; therefore it was believed that the
Castilian champion was about to fight, at the same time, against the
sustainer of the rights of the King of Aragon, and also against him who
had endeavoured to snatch from him the love of Ximena--the love which
was his glory, his hope, and his life.

In the following manner was arranged the place for the combat: a
quadrilateral enclosure had been formed by means of stakes driven into
the ground, and bound together by an interlacing of branches, the
verdure of which gave it the appearance of a natural hedge. At both
sides were placed, on platforms erected for the purpose, long seats, or
thrones; that on the one side for the royal family, and that on the
other for the umpires of the combat; canvas tents had also been set up
at the extreme ends of the enclosed ground, one for each champion and
his second and squires.

The sun had just risen in the east; the high and luxuriant trees, which
on that side hung over the arena, shaded it from his rays, which were
then very strong, as it was the warmest season of the year. Multitudes
of people pressed round the enclosure, and spread out for a considerable
distance into the surrounding fields, like a sea, the waves of which
were incessantly agitated. The king occupied the throne arranged for
him, having at his side the queen, Doña Sancha, and his son, Prince
Alonzo; the umpires also occupied the place allotted to them. They
numbered four; two named by Don Fernando, and two by Don Ramiro. The
former were Peransurez and Arias Gonzalo; and as to the others, history
only says that they were "two very noble and very accomplished Aragonian
cavaliers." On the platform beside them stood two heralds, with trumpets
suspended from their girdles. A prolonged murmur was heard throughout
the multitudes: this arose when the champions were making their way to
the field of battle. Rodrigo was mounted on a splendid sorrel charger,
with flowing mane and of noble appearance, which had been presented to
him, the day before, by Don Fernando; the Infante, Don Sancho,
accompanied him as his second, and Fernan and Alvar preceded him, the
first as his squire and the second as his lance-page. If Ximena could
have seen him at that moment, poor maiden, how sad would have been the
contest in her heart between love and the memory of her father! How
brave and haughty stood the son of Diego Lainez, clad in his strong and
brilliant armour! How many fair ladies, who had felt pity for the
orphan, envied also the lot of her who was loved by Rodrigo!

The horse mounted by Martin Gonzalez was black, and more fiery even than
that of Rodrigo, although not quite as strongly built: the second of the
Aragonian champion was Don Suero, who, being a friend and relation, had
repaired to the court for that purpose, although he had not yet quite
recovered from the wounds, which, as it was spread abroad, he had
received whilst fighting with a band of robbers. Martin Gonzalez was
also accompanied by a squire and lance-page, and his armour was white.

The heralds sounded their trumpets, and that loud murmur which, by its
increasing volume, showed that the numerous spectators were at the
height of their arguments regarding the combat about to commence,
became silent, as if it were the trumpet of the last judgment that was
heard. Then a proclamation was read, commanding all present to remain
silent and motionless until the termination of the combat, under penalty
of "_losing their goods and the eyes from their faces_," whether men or
women, young men or old men, nobles or peasants. When the reading of the
proclamation had ended, the two champions advanced until they nearly
met, and Martin Gonzalez called out three times--

"Calahorra for Don Ramiro!"

To which cry Rodrigo replied, also calling out three times--

"Calahorra for Don Fernando!"

Having thus spoken, Martin Gonzalez threw a glove on the ground, which
Rodrigo took up, and then threw down another, which, in his turn, his
adversary hastened to pick up. The two champions, with their squires and
pages, then retired to their respective tents, and the seconds only
remained in the enclosure, where they were sworn before the umpires to
loyally do their duty. This oath having been taken, Don Sancho and the
Count of Carrion proceeded successively to the tents of Rodrigo and of
Martin, in order to examine the arms of the combatants, and to ratify
the conditions of the duel. When these matters were adjusted, the
champions again made their appearance on the arena, and they were asked
by the oldest of the umpires--

"Do ye swear to fight according to the laws of cavaliers, using no foul
play or witchcraft, either in blows or in arms?"

"We swear it!" answered at the same time both Rodrigo Diaz and Martin
Gonzalez.

"If ye thus act, may God and His saints aid ye; if not, be ye accursed
as evil-doers and traitors, as ye would then be, and descend to hell,
where Judas the traitor is!"

When this had been spoken, the champions, who had advanced to the middle
of the arena, retired to the extreme ends of it, and took their shields
and lances, which their respective squires and pages handed to them,
placing themselves in position to rush to the encounter, whilst the
judges were marking the ground.

"The _Ave Maria_, the _Ave Maria_!" cried out the heralds.

And all the spectators uncovered their heads, and recited the _Ave
Maria_. When it was finished, the blast of a trumpet was heard, and the
champions rushed onward.

The first assault was terrible. Both lances struck simultaneously the
shields of strong steel, and the violent impact caused both horses and
riders to reel, notwithstanding their strength. Scarcely giving
themselves time to recover from this first shock, the combatants again
rushed against each other, and the lance of Rodrigo struck harmlessly
the shield of Martin, whilst that of the latter, glancing off from the
shield, broke the armour on his left arm, and wounded the youth above
the elbow. The Castilian champion had very considerable advantage over
the Aragonese in agility and dexterity, but was much inferior to him in
strength. The blood of Rodrigo stained the accoutrements of his horse,
and dolorous cries, mingled with others of joy, were heard amid the
crowds that were spectators of the combat. The knight of Vivar, however,
far from being discouraged by this mischance, became more and more
excited with anger, and endeavoured to have satisfaction by again
rushing on Martin, who, however, warded off the blow with his shield,
for Rodrigo had not only against him his own inferior strength, but also
that of his steed, which swerved to one side through the impetus and
force of the blow. The same tactics were repeated several times, without
any advantage to either combatant; but it was evident that the contest
could not last very much longer, for both cavaliers were fighting rashly
and recklessly. They took their positions for another charge, which all
the spectators believed must be the final one, and, burying their spurs
in the sides of their horses, they rode on at full speed, and the
encounter was so violent that both lances were broken into fragments,
and the steed of Rodrigo was thrown on his haunches. Then Martin
Gonzalez drew his sword and raised it above the head of his unarmed
rival. Another cry of horror arose amid the crowds around,
notwithstanding the severe penalties that had been proclaimed against
such manifestations, and all eyes turned, with pitying glances, towards
Diego Lainez, who, with other cavaliers, occupied one of the platforms
erected inside the palisade, in order that noble dames and cavaliers
might be able to witness the combat. No one could accuse the champion of
Aragon of foul play or treachery for acting thus, for he was only taking
advantage of a favourable opportunity to strike his opponent, and in
such circumstances this was permitted. All, however, trembled, not so
much for losing Calahorra as for losing Rodrigo, who promised to be one
of the bravest cavaliers of Castile and Leon.

When Rodrigo saw the sword of Martin above his head, he sprung to his
feet with incredible rapidity, and avoiding thus the stroke of his
adversary, which wounded the horse, as if chance thus punished it for
its weakness, he quickly drew his sword and plunged it into the breast
of the charger of Martin Gonzalez. He was then in a similar position to
that in which Rodrigo had been; but the youth, far from imitating him,
stopped and said--

"Arise, and let us fight on our feet, for our swords must now do what
our lances have not been able to accomplish."

Thunders of applause were the recompense which the spectators bestowed
on Rodrigo for his generous conduct. Both knights put themselves on
their guard, and then attacked each other with desperate fury. In vain
did Martin endeavour to render unavailing the defence which his shield
afforded to Rodrigo by trying to get at his sides; but the champion of
Don Fernando avoided all his strokes by his dexterity and agility, in
the same way that his opponent was taking advantage, in every way in his
power, of his superior strength. Rodrigo took his sword in both his
hands, notwithstanding the embarrassment caused by his shield, and was
about to bring it down on the helmet of Martin Gonzalez, when he held up
his shield almost horizontally. The helmet remained uninjured, but the
shield was broken to pieces, and Martin consequently remained without
any protection except the coat of mail with which he, as well as his
opponent, was covered.

Martin Gonzalez believed himself lost, and all his friends shared in
this fear; Rodrigo, however, gave another proof that the noblest blood
of Castile ran in his veins.

"Let us fight with uncovered breasts!" he exclaimed; and he threw his
shield far from him.

If the face of the Aragonese knight had not been hidden by his visor,
the spectators of that sanguinary scene could have seen it covered with
the blush of shame.

The combat continued, ever more obstinate, more bloody, more ferocious.
Anger blinded Rodrigo, and gave advantage to his adversary, who remained
much cooler. Martin observed this, and endeavoured to win the victory by
enraging more and more the young cavalier; and, according to the
"Chronicle of the Cid," he said to him--

"It was an evil day for you when you entered into this contest with me,
for you shall never marry Doña Ximena Gome, whom you love so much. You
shall not return to Castile alive."

To which Rodrigo answered, according to the same chronicle--

"Don Martin Gonzalez, you know, as a knight should, that such words are
not for an occasion like this; we are here to fight with our swords and
not with idle words."

"Then let us finish quickly," said Martin in a low voice, "for Ximena
awaits me with open arms."

These words were scarcely uttered when the sword of Rodrigo was darted
at his visage, and, breaking the front part of the helmet, it entered
his mouth with such force that the point came out through the back of
his neck.

A providential chastisement. The calumniator, Martin Gonzalez, was
punished where he had most sinned.

Enthusiastic cries resounded on all sides.

"Calahorra for Don Fernando!" cried out the heralds three times; and no
one came forward to maintain the contrary.

The umpires then declared the result of the combat, and adjudged to Don
Fernando the disputed town.

The king descended at once to the arena, embraced Rodrigo, took off his
armour with his own hands, and led him off.

A short time after, the brave youth entered the town, amid the
enthusiastic cheers of the multitude, and his father and the king were
seen to shed tears of joy.



CHAPTER XIII

OF AN UNEXPECTED VISIT WHICH XIMENA RECEIVED IN HER RETREAT


For some time the king, Don Fernando, had been thinking of changing his
court to Burgos, partly in order to be nearer to the frontiers which the
Moors of Aragon were continually devastating, and thus be able to keep
them in check; and partly in order that the Castilians might not think
that he gave undue preference to the kingdom of Leon. He determined to
carry out this project as soon as the question regarding Calahorra was
decided by the single combat between Rodrigo Diaz and Martin Gonzalez.
The desire to extinguish at its very commencement the enmity between the
partisans of the houses of Gormaz and Vivar, which he believed was about
to spring up in Castile, also induced him to hasten this change. Don
Fernando considered that the best way to cut short the existence of
those two bodies of partisans was to unite Ximena with Rodrigo, but this
presented serious difficulties on the side of the maiden; he, however,
proposed to himself to overcome them, not alone actuated by the desire
of seeing his states in a condition of tranquillity, but also by that of
making Rodrigo happy, for he knew he could never be so without Ximena.

We shall leave that wise and prudent monarch on his way to Castile, and
learn something concerning the solitaries of the lake of San Vicente.

Ximena had believed that in solitude, in prayer, in penitence, and in
the service of her afflicted fellow-creatures, she could forget Rodrigo,
and find tranquillity and resignation, of which she was so much in need;
she had, however, completely deceived herself, for when love has struck
deep roots in a heart, it resists all violence, it resists all waves, it
resists all storms. Can such a love die, unless those who experience it
also die?--a love which had its birth in the cradles of two children,
which grew up with their growth in their paternal homes, amid the
flowers and the butterflies of the meadows, beneath the trees which
shaded the avenues of their native place, and under the eyes of devoted
mothers? How could this paradise, which loving souls dream of, be
renounced?

In vain had Ximena striven against her love for Rodrigo; in vain had she
invoked the terrible memory of her father in order to give it the place
in her soul which the remembrance of Rodrigo occupied; in vain had she
asked their assistance from the holy maiden and from the affectionate
and faithful old woman who had accompanied her into that solitude, in
order to tear from her heart that enduring, deep, immense love. On all
sides she found incentives to that love, everything seemed to conspire
to strengthen in her the remembrance of it. One day there arrived on the
shores of the lake a young invalid, accompanied by a youth who called
her by the sweet name of wife, who lavished loving cares on her, who
became sad when he saw her sad, and joyful when she was joyful; who
surrounded her with an atmosphere of affection, emanating from his
words, from his looks, from his every action, and Ximena remembered that
such was the love she had dreamed of, that such a husband she had seen
in Rodrigo. Ah! then she could realise how miserable is a woman who has
no husband to protect her weakness or to sustain her when she is cast
down by physical or mental pain! Another day she was wandering through
the shady groves that bordered the lake, and this brought to her mind
the time when she and Rodrigo wandered through the woods which
surrounded the castle of Gormaz; and every fountain, brook, or
flower-covered meadow which she saw, reminded her of some other
fountain, brook, or meadow, with which were connected memories of
Rodrigo.

In this struggle between love and the blood-stained shade of her father,
the former was gaining the mastery more and more as time went on. But if
Rodrigo still loved her, as once he did, how could he refrain from
seeing her? how was it that, in order to do so, he did not travel the
short distance which separated Vivar from the lake of San Vicente, as in
former days he had journeyed the long distance between Vivar and San
Estéban of Gormaz? All the projects of hatred, of revenge, of oblivion;
all the endeavours of Ximena to forget him who had slain her father, had
resulted in the girl becoming wearied by her struggles against love.
After a night during which she was tortured by horrible dreams and
nightmares, she arose from her humble bed,--the bed in which she had
shed so many tears and abandoned herself to so many sad
reflections,--and knelt down before an image of the Virgin of the
Dolours, to address to heaven her morning prayer, as the birds were
doing, that sang in the trees which, with their aged trunks and leafy
boughs, protected the rustic hermitage.

"Mother of the unfortunate, consolation of afflicted souls!" she cried,
raising to the holy image her hands and her eyes wet with tears,
"console and sustain me, that I may not succumb to the weight of my
tribulations! Have pity on my tortures, apply the balsam of thy grace to
the wounds of my heart! Pray to thy Son to have mercy on me!"

Ximena had scarcely finished her short prayer when Lambra--who had gone
to the door of the hermitage to see if Casilda, who had set out at
daybreak to console and succour the family of a poor and infirm
shepherd, was returning--came hastily to her mistress, and said to her--

"Look, my lady, see those cavaliers who are coming in this direction."

Ximena allowed herself to be led mechanically by Lambra, who took her
hand and conducted her to the door of their dwelling-place. As she had
said, about twenty well-accoutred cavaliers were riding along the shore
of the lake, on a path that led to the hermitage, which was erected on
the summit of a hill and overlooked the country for some distance.

These cavaliers were not accompanying a lady. Who were they, then? Why
were they coming to the hermitage? Ximena asked herself those questions,
and her heart beat quickly, although she did not know what caused it to
do so. The cavaliers were advancing nearer and nearer, and, with
unspeakable surprise, she recognised the king, Don Fernando, who rode in
front. He appeared astonished, in his turn, on recognising Ximena, when
he arrived at the hermitage.

"Ximena!" he exclaimed; "you here?"

And he hastened to dismount.

"You here?" he repeated; "when I believed that you were in your castle
at Gormaz."

"Sire," said the young girl, "I came here, desirous of finding the
tranquillity which was denied me at the court. Shall I offend you by
asking to what circumstance I owe the happiness of seeing you in these
solitudes."

"To my desire of seeing Casilda, for you already know, Ximena, that
since she lost the affection of her father in order to merit the love of
God, she has no protection amongst men but mine. I bless the moment in
which I thought of undertaking this journey, for at the end of it,
instead of meeting one, I meet two persons whom I love very much."

Those who accompanied the king, as well as Lambra, had moved away
respectfully to some distance from the speakers.

"How is it that I do not find Casilda with you?" asked Don Fernando.

"You will soon see her, sire," replied the maiden, "for she has gone to
exercise her mission of mercy not far from here."

"I am not alone delighted to see you on account of the pleasure which
your presence always causes me, but also for the reason that I bring
news which I feel sure will be agreeable to you," said the king, fixing
his eyes on her at the same time, in order to see the effect which his
words might produce. "You remember that you demanded justice from me on
him who killed your father?"

"I have not forgotten it, sire."

"I have done justice already, Ximena!"

"O my God!" exclaimed the young girl, full of anxiety and fear. "Sire,
explain."

"Rodrigo has been punished as he deserved."

A deadly pallor overspread the face of Ximena, and she would have fallen
on the ground if the king had not supported her and made her sit down on
a rustic bench which stood near them.

"I engaged him in a single combat with Martin Gonzalez, certain that it
would be one to the death, and I was not mistaken. The sword of Martin
Gonzalez was stained with the blood of him who shed that of your
father."

Ximena uttered a cry of agony, and fell back senseless against the wall
which served as a support for the bench.

"Dueña, dueña!" cried Don Fernando, "bring water quickly. Your mistress
has fainted on being reminded of her father."

"O my God! may the Mother of Dolours and all the saints aid me!" cried
Lambra, running to fetch what the king had asked for. "He might have
spoken of the living instead of the dead, when he ought to have seen
that it is only a chance whether she is going to the angels or not."

The dueña brought, in great haste, a vessel of water from a spring which
was very near the hermitage, and bathed the face of Ximena, who was
slowly regaining her senses, whilst Lambra was saying to the king--

"By the glorious Saint Isidore, sire, you should be cautious as to what
you say to my mistress, for in one of those faints she might fly from
our hands like a bird. Do you not know, sire, what ravages the death of
her father has made in her health? and at night she dreams of nothing
else, and never ceases calling out the name of that mad Rodrigo who
killed him."

"Retire, honoured dueña, for she has returned to herself," said Don
Fernando to Lambra, and she hastened to obey him.

"He is dead! Rodrigo is dead!" murmured Ximena, before opening her eyes
and becoming aware that the king stood at her side.

"Ximena," said Don Fernando, "Rodrigo is not dead. It was he who killed
Martin Gonzalez with the point of his sword."

Ximena could not repress a sudden rush of joy, and did not even try to
conceal her feelings from the king.

"Sire, have compassion on me!" she cried. "Tell me the truth! Is it
certain that Rodrigo is alive, or is it that you fear to tell me again
that he is dead, lest I might fall into another swoon, such as that
which your former words caused?"

"Ximena, I swear to you that Rodrigo lives, to love you ever. Are you
not glad that he is alive? Are you not glad that he loves you?"

"Sire, lay the blame of being an unnatural, ungrateful daughter on me,
of being a woman unworthy of the noble blood that flows in my veins; but
I cannot help it. His life is my life, and without his love I am without
hope in this world. I demanded justice of you against Rodrigo, and I was
not deceiving you, for then it appeared to me that in obtaining it my
entire happiness consisted; but I soon knew that I was only deceiving
myself, that his punishment, which I asked from you, would be the cause
of the deepest misery to me. My father demanded vengeance from the
depths of his sepulchre, but my love for Rodrigo asked pardon for him
from the bottom of my heart. Ah, sire! God alone and myself know the
terrible combat I have had to sustain, and the anguish I have had to
suffer."

"Well, then, Ximena, that combat and that agony must now cease. Rodrigo
killed your father, but your father had tarnished the honour of his;
Rodrigo desired to fight loyally and honourably with the Count of
Gormaz, but the count insulted him; then Rodrigo did not kill your
father in any unfair way, but whilst fighting with him, arm to arm and
face to face, as a good knight. This should be sufficient, Ximena, to
remove your scruples and quiet your conscience, so that you may be the
bride of Rodrigo."

"It is impossible, sire, for ordinary people do not reason thus; and it
would be always said that I married the murderer of my father."

"Ximena, to the eyes of the world you will be the victim of a tyrannical
order--you will have given your hand to Rodrigo in obedience to my
command; and only you, Rodrigo, and I shall know that you gave it to him
in accordance with the impulses of your heart."

"Ah, sire! how shall he and I be ever able to pay you for the happiness
that we shall owe to you?"

"By choosing the queen and me as bride's-lady and groom's-man at your
wedding," replied Don Fernando, with a pleasant smile.

Ximena knew not how to express her gratitude to the king; she threw
herself on her knees before him and exclaimed--

"Sire, let me kiss your feet! let me even kiss the ground where you have
stood!"

"Arise, Ximena, for she who, like you, is worthy of Rodrigo, should
kneel only before God."

Just as the king was raising Ximena affectionately from the ground,
Casilda approached, coming from beneath the trees which grew nearest to
the hermitage. Don Fernando, who loved her as a daughter, and whose
kindly feelings were then much aroused, hastened forward to meet her.
Casilda uttered a cry of joy on seeing him.

"Casilda," said Don Fernando to her, when both he and the holy maiden
had remained silent a short time, as those who love and respect each
other often do, when they meet after a long absence, "Casilda, I bring
you tidings of your father."

"Of my father?" exclaimed the girl in a joyful tone; and at the same
time a few tears trickled down from her beautiful and calm eyes.

"Yes; your father has confided to me the hidden feelings of his heart,
in order that I may make them known to you. Read this, and his words
will tell you more than mine."

"To you, who have children, whom you love as I do mine," wrote Almenon,
having prefaced his letter with the usual ceremonious phrases and
salutations, "to you an unhappy father appeals, certain that you will
understand his feelings and carry out his wishes. I have been informed
that my daughter did not embrace the religion of the Christians for the
purpose of enjoying the luxury and magnificence of your court, but in
order to live in solitude and poverty, and to consecrate her life to the
service of the poor and afflicted. If I formerly cursed her, I now bless
her from the bottom of my heart; if I hated her before, I now love her:
tell her this, and tell her, moreover, not to abhor her father,
believing that he is cruel towards the poor captives, for he only is so
because the creed of the nation over which he reigns, and the desire to
preserve a crown for his son, compel him to act thus. A maiden reared
in the shadow of a throne must suffer much and run grave risks in a
desert in a foreign land, amid pain and poverty. Act as a father to
Casilda, protect and watch over her, and I swear that I shall act in a
similar way to your children, should fate bring them some day into the
dominions of--ALMENON."

Sobs almost smothered Casilda when she finished the reading of the
letter; but her heart rejoiced because her father still loved her, still
blessed her, and no longer wept on her account.

"Casilda," said Don Fernando to her, "it is not in vain that your father
appeals to my heart to satisfy the desires of his. From this day forward
you shall have a father in me; and as it is your ambition to possess
means wherewith to aid misfortune, my treasury is open to you--avail
yourself of it, and let no one, who is really in want, apply in vain at
your door."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some days after the visit of the king to the solitaries of the lake,
Ximena entered Burgos, accompanied by a brilliant escort of cavaliers,
belonging to the court of Don Fernando, who had himself come to meet
her, riding a considerable distance on the road of Briviesca.

Some peasants, who were journeying at the same time to the city, stopped
to gaze on the young girl and her richly-dressed companions, and as they
were ignorant of the news of the court, on account of the distance they
lived from it, and did not know Ximena, one of them went up to a workman
who was standing at the door of a house, and asked him--

"Do you know who that splendid girl is? On my soul, she looks like a
queen."

"What? you don't know her? She is Doña Ximena, daughter of the Count of
Gormaz, who is going to be married to the son of the grandee of Vivar,"
replied the man who had been questioned.

"Nonsense! Is it not said that the youth killed the count?"

"Certainly."

"And he is going to be married to the daughter of the dead man! Well,
queer things happen now-a-days. One must be badly off for a husband."

"Be silent, you bumpkin, and don't speak badly of a lady who is more
honourable than you and your whole clan."

"Keep quiet yourself, you Burgos ruffian, for I swear I have fists, and
won't listen to insults."

"And do you imagine, you clown, that I haven't got fists also? I swear
I'll break every bone in your body."

Saying this, the workman rushed on the peasant; the spectators, however,
got between them, and the man of Burgos had to return to his post when
only a few blows had been exchanged.

"Do the rustics imagine that the townspeople are made of sugar paste?"
he said.

"And why do the townspeople insult us?"

"Why do you judge of things without understanding them?"

"Explain them, and I'll understand them."

"Then know that Doña Ximena, instead of being found fault with, should
be pitied, for they are marrying her to Don Rodrigo much against her
wish. She certainly was in love with him one time, but she took a
dislike to him when he killed her father, and if she now marries him, it
is in obedience to the command of the king, who so arranges matters, for
he considers that the union of the houses of Vivar and of Gormaz will
prevent the formation of bodies of partisans who would flood the kingdom
with blood, and he says that public good must be thought more of than
private sentiment."

"And the king is right."

"Of course he is; and the more so, because Don Rodrigo did not kill the
father of Doña Ximena unfairly. Yes! Don Fernando knows well what he is
about, and does not fear being accused of doing wrong. I hold, for my
part, that there's not a better king in the world."

"Do you know that the maiden is worth half Castile?"

"And the young cavalier knows it, too, and he is certainly worthy of
her."



CHAPTER XIV

HOW RODRIGO AND XIMENA WERE MARRIED, AND HOW THE DEVIL TERRIFIED THE
PEOPLE OF BURGOS


The month of September was commencing, and it was the early morning of a
Sunday, calm and mild as a day in spring, for the burning heats of
summer had ceased, and were replaced by the cool breezes which autumn
brings with it, especially in the country about Burgos. There might
have been noticed in that city an unusual animation, and a multitude of
people were flocking towards it from the districts all around; but where
that throng and bustle was most perceptible was in the immediate
neighbourhood of the church of Santa Gadea.

The reader will already have surmised what the circumstance was which in
this manner was disturbing the habitual tranquillity of the capital of
Castile and its suburbs; on that day were to be celebrated the nuptials
of Rodrigo Diaz and Ximena Gome, and the king and queen were to give
away the bridegroom and the bride. In the streets which led from the
Alcazar to the church, all the balconies and windows were magnificently
adorned with flowers and rich hangings; the ground was strewn with
flowers and sweet-smelling herbs, and at intervals beautiful arches,
covered with foliage, had been erected. These nuptials were the cause of
great satisfaction, not alone to the relations and friends of the bride
and bridegroom, but also to the good people of Castile, who now felt
sure that there would no longer be any danger of feuds and bloodshed.
For these reasons the citizens had done their utmost to adorn and make
gay the streets through which the bridal procession was to pass.

The sun had not long risen, when the crowds which peopled the streets
began to move and direct their eyes towards the Alcazar, for the chiming
of the bells of Santa Gadea was announcing that the wedding party had
issued from its gate; for, it may be mentioned, Don Fernando, desirous
of doing honour to Rodrigo and Ximena in every possible way, had lodged
them in his palace. A few moments afterwards the brilliant cortège was
in full view of the expectant multitude.

How beautiful was Ximena, and how high-spirited Rodrigo! They walked
between the king and queen, and near them were Diego Lainez and Teresa
Nuña, on whose countenances beamed joy and parental pride. There
accompanied them also many of their relations, and the most
distinguished dames and cavaliers of the court. The crowds pressed on to
gaze at them, and the king's guards found some difficulty in keeping the
way clear for the procession. At last they arrived at the church, where
the bishop, Don Ximeno, awaited them, and then the multitudes began
again by rough shoving and pushing to endeavour to secure the best
positions for seeing them when they returned after the sacred ceremony.

The agitation and disorder which for a considerable time had reigned in
the crowd, packed tightly together opposite the church of Santa Gadea,
gradually ceased, and all were peacefully expressing their opinions on
the richness of the dresses, on the beauty of the bride, on the brave
appearance of the bridegroom, and on the circumstances which had
preceded these famous nuptials.

"As God lives, that Ximena is of more value than all her estates, and
they are so large that the Moors could make four kingdoms out of them,
each of the size of those which they rule over," said a youth who seemed
to be a page by his dress, and who, with two companions, was mounted on
the railings which protected the porch of Santa Gadea.

"Rodrigo and his estates at Vivar are worth just as much," replied
another of the youths.

"And I tell you," added the third, "that Rodrigo Diaz will soon be the
ruler of an empire. Have you not heard of the gifts which Don Fernando
has given to the bride and bridegroom?"

"I know nothing of them, for my lord and master, the Count of Carrion,
hates the family of Vivar so much, that nobody dares to mention their
names in his castle."

"Then you must know that he has given to them, and to their heirs for
ever, the seigniories of Valduerna, of Belorado, and of Saldaña."

"By the saints, how generous Don Fernando must be!"

"The king knows right well what he is doing, for he should be generous
to him who won Calahorra for him, which he had lost if the knight of
Vivar were not as valiant as he is. And for my part, I believe that Don
Rodrigo will win for Castile, from the Moors, more castles than there
are houses on the estates which Don Fernando has given to him."

"And it is certain that Don Rodrigo is valiant. My master could tell a
good deal about that, and the son of my mother also, if the people round
us were not making such a noise."

"I'd like to hear all about it, Guillen."

"And I also."

"Then you'll have to be satisfied with the desire of hearing it, for
this is not the place to relate adventures in which my lord came off
very badly."

This refusal of Guillen, as may be supposed, whetted the curiosity of
his companions, who, one on each side of him, edged themselves on,
along the bar on which they sat, until they were in contact with him.

"Relate the adventure to us, Guillen, for I bet it is worth hearing,"
said one of his friends.

"I shall tell it, just to please you; but if Don Suero, my master, knew
that I related this adventure, I should soon be in a condition to relate
no more of them, but like my companions, the other servants of the
count, who remained at the Inn of the Moor with holes in their hearts,
made by the lance of that terrible squire of Don Rodrigo, named Fernan."

"Cease your nonsense, friend Guillen, and go on with your story."

"I shall do so at once."

And Guillen related to his friends the carrying off of Beatrice, almost
exactly as the reader already knows it.

"And is it possible that the Count of Carrion commits such outrages?"
asked one of the listeners.

"Very little surprises you, my friend," replied Guillen, still in a low
voice, and looking about cautiously to see if he could be overheard by
any of those who were standing about, waiting to see the wedding party
come forth from the church. "Your astonishment would be greater," he
continued, "if you only knew the circumstances of the carrying off of
another girl by Don Suero, some time before his attempt on Beatrice."

Illan and Garcia, for such were the names of the other pages, squeezed
themselves more closely, if such were possible, against Guillen, bending
their necks and bringing their ears close to his mouth. Seeing, however,
that the servant of Don Suero did not satisfy their curiosity with the
promptitude they desired, they abandoned gestures in order to question
him with words.

"And how did this other outrage take place?" asked Illan, who was the
more curious of the two.

"It happened as you will soon hear, if those who related it to me were
not liars, for at that time I was not in the service of Don Suero. There
was in the neighbourhood of Carrion a maiden--a peasant girl, indeed,
but one of the handsomest that could be found in Castile or Leon. Don
Suero thought little of taking her from her father, as he was smitten by
her beauty; and, using cunning devices, he succeeded in inducing both
father and daughter to go to the castle of Carrion, and there he
dishonoured the girl, and deprived the father of his sight, so that he
might not be able to find his daughter, or take vengeance on him for
what he had done. The girl, who was good and modest, resisted his wooing
for a long time, but the count had recourse to violence, and Sancha, for
such was the name of his victim, had to yield at last to the brutality
of her jailer. Days and months went on, and Don Suero, who was much in
love with the peasant girl, redoubled his caresses, hoping to make her
love him also. The girl was becoming, by degrees, more yielding as time
went on, softened by the tenderness and by the gifts of Don Suero. But
behold! an old gipsy woman entered her apartment one day. This old woman
was in the habit of telling fortunes, and the count put up with this,
and with other queer things which she did. She and the girl, however,
disappeared from the castle, some say by witchcraft, for they thought it
could not be by any other means, and it was well known that the old
gipsy was an expert in the black art, like all the rest of her race. It
is easy for you to imagine the despair and the rage of the count when he
was informed of the flight of Sancha. It is only necessary to say that,
in order to give vent to his anger, he nearly killed all his servants
and vassals with beatings, and, hoping to forget the girl, he
established in his castle a kind of harem, to which he carries off the
handsomest girls of the country, when he gets a chance of doing so."

"And have they never learned the abode of the unfortunate Sancha?"

"No; all the efforts which Don Suero has used to find her out have been
in vain."

"And those of her father to discover her?"

"Have been also unavailing."

"What has become of him?"

"He seeks his daughter in every direction; but the unhappy man cannot
find her. He goes from town to town, weeping over his loss, and earns
something to live on by playing a lute."

"Anger of God! and are you not ashamed to remain in the service of such
a wicked master?"

"I am ashamed, in truth, but you must know that I cannot go away from
his residence; for if I lived far from the castle of Carrion, I should
die of grief."

"By the glorious St. Isidore, I do not understand you!" exclaimed Illan.

"Guillen, you want to bewilder us with your mysteries," added Garcia.
"Are there not plenty of masters who would be only too glad to get a
respectable page or squire?"

"Leave that wretch of a Don Suero immediately, for my master, the Count
of Cabra, wants at present an honourable and brave page like you, and he
would engage you at once."

"I tell you that I cannot leave the service of the Count of Carrion."

"If the count were a lady, I should say you were in love with him."

"Then learn that I am in love, and very much in love, my friends."

Illan and Garcia broke into a loud laugh, caused not so much by the
words of Guillen, as by the sentimental tone in which he pronounced
them.

"By the saints! if you laugh at me, I will spit you on the points of
these bars!" exclaimed Guillen, made angry by the laughter of his
friends, which had caused the people standing about to fix their
attention on them.

Illan and Garcia felt that Guillen had just cause for his annoyance, and
ceased laughing.

"Don't be vexed, Guillen," said the former, "but explain yourself to
us."

"I tell you that I am in love, and by confiding to you this secret, for
no one else must know it, I am proving to both of you the warmth of my
friendship."

"But who are you in love with?"

Guillen looked around on all sides, and then replied in a very low
voice--

"With Doña Teresa, my mistress."

Illan and Garcia found some difficulty to restrain themselves from again
bursting out into laughter. However, they checked themselves when they
noticed the angry gesture of Guillen when he saw the fresh symptoms of
hilarity.

"With Doña Teresa! with the sister of the count your master!" exclaimed
Illan. "Are you mad, Guillen, or are you making fun of us?"

"I am not making fun of you; but I am mad--mad in love, my friends."

"But is it returned?"

"How could it be, when I have never dared to declare my love to her who
is the object of it?"

"But don't you know, you fool, that if the noble Doña Teresa, the sister
of the Count of Carrion, happened to discover that you were in love with
her, she would laugh at you, if indeed she did not get you driven with
blows from the castle. Don't you know that if Don Suero learned it, he
would get you flayed alive?"

"I know nothing, my friends,--I know nothing but that I love her with
all my heart and soul."

"But what right has a poor page to love so great a lady?"

"It is easy to know, my friends that you are as low-minded and ignorant
as the bulk of pages. Tell me, however, is not a lady a woman, no matter
how rich and noble she may happen to be?"

"Certainly."

"And is not a page a man, no matter how poor and obscure he may be?"

"Certainly, likewise."

"Then, is it extraordinary that a man should love a woman, and a woman a
man?"

"No."

"Then, you simpletons, don't be astonished that I, a poor and obscure
page, love my lady Doña Teresa, and that she, rich and noble as she is,
may love me some day or other."

"You argue, friend Guillen, as well as if you had attended lectures in
the School of Palencia; but I am quite certain that neither your lady
nor the count would see it in the same light as you."

"If my mistress were like the ordinary run of women, or even like the
generality of men, who think only as others think, and not as they
themselves should think, my love would be certainly great folly; but I
know well that Doña Teresa is guided more by reason than by custom.
Besides, who has told you, ignoble as you are, that I may not be rich
and noble some day, if Doña Teresa desires that he who is to obtain her
hand and heart should be so? I am young, and, 'fore God, I am not
wanting in courage. Only let the Moors get up a war on the frontiers,
and you will see how I can wield a lance, and perchance return to
Carrion as much a cavalier as the count my master. You will see how,
once dubbed a knight, I shall collect together a hundred or so brave
fellows, enter the country of the Moors, and conquer it. Then I shall
become a lord over vassals, for, on my faith, it will not be the first
time that such things have happened. You can't imagine, my friend, how
my love for Doña Teresa increases when I think over those chances."

"I hope in goodness that your love won't bring you to perdition!" said
Garcia in a prophetic tone of voice.

"It is to glory that it shall lead me," replied Guillen
enthusiastically. "This love which I feel, impossible as it may seem to
you, will exalt the humble page whom you see here. The greater the prize
is, for which the wrestler struggles, so much the more bravely does he
brace himself up for the contest. Do you imagine that Rodrigo Diaz could
have fought so well if, in addition to conquering Martin Gonzalez, he
had not hoped for the embraces of Ximena?"

Illan and Garcia could not but feel that amid the wild fancies of
Guillen there might be well founded hopes. For that reason they thought
it best to leave him in the paradise of his illusions. Just as in our
times he who believes in nothing, he who considers but vain words the
faith of his ancestors, the love of country, the love for a woman, is
the man who most probably will raise himself over others, so, in the
times when Guillen lived, that man had the best chance of elevating
himself who believed in all those things, and, exalted by such
sentiments, acted in accordance with his beliefs. Oh for that age, when,
in order to be honoured, the cavalier had to consecrate his heart to
God, to a king, and to a woman,--three sovereigns, who had their thrones
respectively in heaven, on earth, and at the domestic hearth, and all of
them in the soul of a man. If amongst those who at the present day bear
the name of cavalier, there are any who do not wish to bear it in vain,
they must be cautious with regard to acknowledging that they adore God,
that they would die for the anointed of the Lord, or that they love or
are faithful to a woman; for they would be laughed at and looked on as
madmen, and in vain would they argue that the idols are false and
loathsome which have usurped the altars on which these three divinities
were formerly enthroned.

Our three youths had arrived at that point in their conversation at
which we left them, in order to heave a sigh over lost beliefs, which it
would be very difficult to replace. The bells of Santa Gadea announced,
with a loud peal, that religion had sanctified the union of the noble
scions of the trees of Vivar and of Gormaz. The crowds began to move, to
crush, to squeeze, if we may so express ourselves, and with the sounds
of the bells were mingled cries of pain, angry exclamations, threats,
supplications, weeping, curses,--all that Babel of sounds which is
usually heard amongst a great multitude, when it is compressed into a
space which cannot well contain much more than half its numbers.

"The women ought to be at home spinning!"

"The men should be killing the Moors!"

"Your eyes are killing Christians, Moorish women!"

"Hi, hi, hi! Don't be tickling me, dueña!"

"Is my face rosy, you bumpkin?"

"It smells of roses, by my faith!"

"Who is the jade that's crushing me?"

"I swear it's an old witch; has she come here to cast the evil eye on
the bride and bridegroom?"

"You brute, you are crushing in my breast with your elbows."

"A thousand legions of demons! my pocket-handkerchief has been stolen."

"Oh, my silk petticoat is falling off!"

"Confound those court festivals."

"And also that Don Rodrigo and Doña Ximena."

"I swear I'll cut out your tongue if you say a word against them."

"Ay, ay, ay!"

"May the devil take the women!"

"_I am coming for them, I am coming for them!_"

This whirlwind of exclamations, which are only faint samples of the
hundred thousand which were heard every minute, changed its character,
when the one which we have emphasised was heard.

"I am coming for them, I am coming for them!" repeated a rough and
terror-striking voice, which seemed to issue from a dilapidated house,
just beside the church of Santa Gadea, and which, even before it had
begun to fall into ruins, was uninhabited for a long time; for it was
said that whenever the devil came to carry off an inhabitant of Burgos,
he took lodgings in it, for two reasons: firstly, that he might not have
to pass the night in the open air, as Burgos is rather cool and the
devil is accustomed to a warm climate; and secondly, to terrify, with
the infernal glitter of his eyes, the pious people who were accustomed
to pray at night-time before a holy statue, which stood at the gate of
the adjoining church, and which was much venerated.

Loud cries of terror arose from the multitude; the children took refuge
under the petticoats of the women, like chickens beneath the wings of a
hen, and the women clung to the men, as ivy does to the oak. A minute
had scarcely passed, when a terrible-looking figure emerged from the
ruined house, a figure which made even some of the boldest tremble. It
was the devil, without doubt, if appearances could be trusted. It was
clad in a flame-coloured suit; it had a tail which moved from side to
side like a whip; its forehead was furnished with two enormous horns,
and through its large mouth smoke was issuing as from a chimney.

"I am coming for them, I am coming for them!" he roared again, as he
came out of his hiding place, and rushed towards the crowd.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" was exclaimed in all directions. Not seeing,
however, that the devil was stopped by the holy invocation, everybody
took to flight in the wildest disorder. The children came forth from
their hiding-places under the petticoats, and in a few moments all the
streets around the church of Santa Gadea were empty, for even the men
did not wait for the devil, although he had declared that he only came
for the women.

We have said that no one remained in the immediate neighbourhood of the
church, but we have not been strictly accurate. Illan and Garcia jumped
down from the railing as soon as the devil appeared, and fled like all
the rest; but Guillen thought that he who was not afraid of the Count of
Carrion need not be afraid of the devil, and he awaited him without
moving from his position.

"Sir Devil," he said to him, seeing that he came in his direction,
"leave me in peace if you desire to have a good friend in Carrion,
should you ever go there."

The devil looked round in all directions, and, seeing that no person
observed them, he pulled off his horns and his tail, which he had been
able to set in motion by a simple contrivance, and took off a mask,
under which was burning tow, from which proceeded the smoke that had
issued from the mouth.

"Pelayo!" exclaimed Guillen, on seeing the face of the supposed devil;
"what foolishness has put such a ridiculous notion into your head?"

"On my soul," replied Pelayo, "I see no foolishness in clearing the road
for the king and the wedding procession. If I had not done so, twenty
heads at least would be broken during its return by the maces of the
royal guards, to judge by what I saw at its going. And look," he
continued, pointing to the vestibule of the church, "the cortège is just
coming out; you will see how quietly and comfortably it will get to the
Alcazar."

The bride and bridegroom, with their companions, were indeed just
issuing from the church. They proceeded along the road to the Alcazar,
the mace-bearers not having to clear a way for them, as the spectators
had ascended to the windows and balconies, and even to the roofs of the
houses, leaving the streets almost empty.

On their arrival at the Alcazar, everyone inquired what was the cause of
this unusual condition of things, and, as can be proved with certainty,
Don Fernando called aside Pelayo, who was one of his servants, and,
according to tradition, gave him sixteen maravedis, on account of his
strange enterprise, which was much spoken of and laughed over during the
banquet which the king gave in honour of the newly-married couple.



CHAPTER XV

HOW RODRIGO BECAME THE POSSESSOR OF BABIECA, AND WHAT HAPPENED WHILST HE
WAS RIDING HIM


There is a place in Burgos known by the name of the "Solar[1] del Cid,"
and an inscription placed on it by the municipality of the city shows
that the famous cavalier, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, was born there.

[1] The place on which stands the original mansion of a noble family.

One of the ancestors of Diego Lainez, appointed governor of the district
of Castile, and obliged to fix his residence in its chief city, had
erected an unpretentious house in Burgos, and his descendants preserved
it and resided in it when their duties at the Court obliged them to
leave their ancestral home at Vivar. Diego Lainez and his wife Teresa
were residing in it when Rodrigo came into the world, and quitted it
shortly afterwards, in order to make Vivar their permanent abode. Now,
however, as Don Fernando had changed the court to Burgos, and as Diego
was charged with the duty of watching over the education of the princes,
that old house, deserted for so many years, was again inhabited by its
noble owners. They had entered it only a few days before the wedding of
Rodrigo.

Here are reunited all those whom we have seen in the castle of Vivar,
and even some more. Here are Rodrigo, Ximena, Diego, Teresa, the good
Lambra, Mayor, Fernan, and Alvar; all contented, all happy,
contemplating the felicity of the two first mentioned. Already were
being realised the beautiful dreams of Rodrigo and Ximena; already were
being brought to their fulfilment those golden hopes, so often combated
and opposed, so often dead and brought to life again! What will Rodrigo
now do? Will he consecrate his life exclusively to love, to Ximena, to
the pleasures of the domestic hearth, and to the luxuries which his
wealth can procure for him? No, a hundred times no! Noble souls,
generous hearts, are never without honourable aspirations. Rodrigo, the
noble descendant of the Judges of Castile, of so many excellent men, who
had consecrated their lives to the glory of their God and of their
country, will not wear away his life devoted to the effeminate pleasures
of love and wealth. He feels that man has come into the world for
something more than to pass through it like a shadow which leaves no
trace behind it; he knows well that the most just and most honourable
nation and the holiest religion have implacable enemies, and require
generous souls and brave hearts to come to their defence; he knows that
in Spain, as in all other places, there are weak who require the aid of
the strong, that there are oppressors and oppressed. The contest which
he had fought with his heart being ended, he is about to sustain with
his arm another, not less difficult and arduous, certain that victory
would crown it, as it did the former. The sons of Mahomet raise their
impious standard at the frontiers of Castile and Leon, and frequently
invade the dominions of the king, Don Fernando. To fight against them
and conquer them is now the ambition of Rodrigo. What strength will not
the thought of his Ximena lend to his arm, feeling that the aureole of
his triumphs will also shine around her head; certain that on his return
to Burgos she will receive him with open arms, and with love in her
heart, in her eyes, and on her lips,--that beautiful woman of whom he
had dreamed during so many years, with whom he had shared the joys and
sports of childhood, and the hopes and illusions of youth! What joy will
it not be for him to pass from the arms of his wife to those of his old
and honoured father, and then to those of his beloved mother! What
recompense will it not be for his prowess when he will see his parents
and wife weep with joy, tremble with pride; and hear them bless him, and
bless God for having rewarded their love and their sufferings by giving
so good a son, so good a husband! Mean and vulgar souls consider as
worthless such triumphs, such joys, such raptures, rich with holiness
and with poetry; but souls like those of Rodrigo know their full value.
Happy art thou, Ximena, having such a husband. How many maidens are
there in this fair Castile who look on thy triumph with envy, who look
angrily on thee for having taken from them the youth of their dreams,
the youth with the honourable soul, the loving and ardent heart, the
handsome and valiant mien, of whom they had dreamed a thousand times,
whilst the guardian angel of maidens watched beside their beds under the
appearance of a mother.

It was an autumn morning, beautiful, peaceful, mild; the sky was blue,
and the birds were singing, as if mistaking the season for springtime.
Rodrigo impressed a sweet kiss on the lips of Ximena, received a sweeter
one from her in return, and went forth from his paradise, accompanied by
his good squire Fernan. They issued from Burgos on foot, and, walking
along the bank of the Arlanzon, they proceeded in the up-stream
direction, not as master and servant, but as two good friends. The
meadows which they passed were very beautiful, but they had never before
appeared so fair to Rodrigo, for love and happiness are prisms, which
make all things appear as if clothed in brilliant hues. Whither were
Rodrigo and his squire going on foot, and at so early an hour? Let us
listen to them.

"Sir," says Fernan, "for a journey on foot we are going rather far from
Burgos, and my lady Ximena will be very uneasy before we return, as we
shall have to spend half a day in a walk which she thinks will only take
an hour. Besides, sir, as you are not used to walking, you will be very
much fatigued."

The reader will remember what we said on another occasion, namely, that
the slyness of the squire caused him to attribute to others his own
weaknesses. These traces of hypocrisy must, however, be forgiven him, on
account of the sincerity which, in other respects, characterised him.
The fact of the matter is, that, having made his peace with Mayorica, in
honour of the marriage of his master, as farther on we shall learn in
more detail, it was the maid of Doña Teresa who likely would be uneasy,
for he had told her that he would be back within an hour, as, going on
foot, he believed they were only about to take a short walk, not far
beyond the fortifications of the city. For that reason Fernan had also
postponed his breakfast until his return. With regard to fatigue, he was
likewise thinking of himself, as he also was not much accustomed to
walking, and, being rather stout, would feel it much more than his
master.

"Indeed," replied Rodrigo, with joyous familiarity, "the beauty of the
fields and thoughts on our approaching adventures amongst the Moors have
occupied my mind so much, that I forgot to tell you where we are going.
You know already that, amongst the wedding gifts, my godfather Don Peyre
presented me with two horses, and he left it to myself to take from his
stables, which contain many, those which might please me most. Well,
then, we are now going to select them--one for me and the other for
you."

"But, sir, you have been so generous to me at your marriage"--

"I wish you to have this souvenir of it also. The steed on which I was
mounted when I fought against Martin Gonzalez was handsome and
high-spirited, but I would never ride again, if I could avoid it, so
weak an animal. I shall never again trust to a horse by his appearance,
as you shall see when we are in the stables of Don Peyre."

Master and squire continued conversing on this and other subjects until
they arrived near a village, in which arose a tower with ramparts, and
near it a low building, which, from its appearance, must be the stable
of which they were in search.

Rodrigo and Fernan entered the tower, the occupant of which was Don
Peyre Pringos, and in a short time they came forth again with him and
proceeded towards the stables, much against the will of Fernan, who, in
order to accompany them, had to leave an excellent breakfast, which on a
slight hint from him had been served up in the kitchen of Don Peyre.

The stables were divided into two compartments, one fitted up for the
horses and the other as a harness-room.

"Godson," said Don Peyre, "stand near the stable door, and, according as
the horses are driven out, select those which most please you."

"Fernan," said in his turn Rodrigo, "place yourself at the other side of
the door, and choose whichever horse you like best."

"I shall do so with very great pleasure," replied Fernan, who was
exceedingly well contented, notwithstanding the slight annoyance he felt
at having to leave the succulent breakfast that had been prepared for
him; for he saw in the stables sufficient horses from which to choose
not alone two, but even two dozen.

The stable-boy then began to drive the animals out, and they came on
through the harness-room. Fernan placed his hand on a white-and-red
spotted horse, very high and of handsome appearance, and said--

"If you don't take him for yourself, sir, this one shall be mine."

"'Fore God," exclaimed Don Peyre, "the squire is not a fool!"

"Some day you will know, as Agrajes said,"[1] replied Rodrigo, "that
such horses are good for riding on festive occasions, but for war I
desire another kind, as you shall now see;" and as a horse, black,
slender, not very tall, and almost as gentle-looking as an ass, came
forth, he touched him with his hand and said, according to the
"Chronicle of the Cid"--

[1] An old Spanish expression.

"This one do I like."

"_Babieca_,[2] you have badly chosen," said Don Peyre.

[2] Stupid fellow.

"This shall be my horse," replied Rodrigo, "and his name shall be
Babieca. Have you not called me _babieca_? My horse must be so called
also, in order that both you and I may remember this difference of
opinion. I feel quite sure, godfather Don Peyre, that it is you who
shall have to change your mind regarding battlehorses, and not I, should
I be in a fight with him."

"I say to you, godson, as you remarked recently to your squire, 'you
will know some day, as Agrajes said,'" replied Don Peyre. He then
ordered the stablemen to caparison the two horses with handsome
accoutrements.

Shortly after, Rodrigo and Fernan started on their return to Burgos; the
latter was particularly well pleased with the fine-looking speckled
horse which he bestrode, and which attracted much attention on the part
of those they met on the road.

Having entered the city, and as they were passing the mansion of the
Count of Carrion, they saw at its door a number of squires, pages, and
other servitors of the count, who were holding harnessed horses by the
bridles, and were apparently ready to set out at once. Guillen, who has
already been introduced to the reader, was amongst them. Certainly the
steed of Rodrigo, which in future we shall call by the name of Babieca,
as such had been given to him by his master, might be fairly considered
a subject for the jokes of the wits and loiterers in the streets.
However, Rodrigo was so respected and feared in Burgos, that no person
had the temerity to laugh at his steed, until he arrived at the place
where the house of Don Suero stood. When he and Fernan had got thus far,
the servants of the count began to make observations to each other, and
to laugh loudly, to which at first the newly-arrived paid no attention;
but soon they were obliged to notice their insolence.

"Honoured squire," said one of them, addressing Fernan, "could you tell
us whether the steed of this cavalier, your master, belongs to the horse
or to the ass species?"

"It is a horse," replied Fernan, with difficulty restraining his anger,
"for if it were an ass, you certainly would recognise your brother?"

"Then, brother, I thank you for your courtesy."

"By the soul of Beelzebub, I shall mark the face of Don Bellaco!"[1]
exclaimed Fernan, directing his horse towards the insolent fellow, and
striking him across the face with the reins.

[1] Rogue, Villain.

All the servants of Don Suero uttered a cry of indignation, and were
making ready to rush on the unarmed squire of Rodrigo, although Guillen
did his best to pacify them, trying to prove to them that it was they
who were in the wrong. When Rodrigo, who had proceeded some distance
onwards, heard the uproar, he turned round, and, seeing what was taking
place, he turned back and hastened, with dagger in hand, to defend his
squire.

"Remain where you are, sir," cried Fernan, "for I am well able by myself
to chastise these fellows, who have dared to make fun of your horse."

It almost seemed as if Babieca understood what Fernan said, that is,
that they had been speaking disrespectfully of him, for, without his
master having to touch him with the spurs, he rushed upon the servants
of the count, whom Rodrigo dispersed in a moment, although, not having
any weapon but his dagger, he inflicted no wounds on them.

On hearing the noise of the quarrel, Don Suero came to a window and
cried out--

"Who is the coward that is trampling down my servants?"

"A cavalier who will forfeit the name of such if he does not prove to
you this very day that it is you who are the coward," retorted Rodrigo,
turning angrily towards Don Suero.

The count trembled on seeing that he whom he had insulted was Rodrigo,
the brave youth whose sword had left indelible marks on his throat at
the Inn of the Moor; but as he was out of reach of his dagger, and in
the presence of his servants, he made a great effort to overcome his
fear, and replied--

"My sword, as God lives, shall prove to you that you are an ill-born
clown!"

"Then give me but time to fetch my sword, treacherous count, and prepare
yourself for the combat in the meantime, which shall take place on this
very spot, where you can await me, as I shall be back immediately."

Thus speaking, Rodrigo set spurs to Babieca, and rode on to his
residence, followed by Fernan. Having arrived there, he put on his coat
of mail, girt on his sword, and took his lance and shield. The squire
also got his heavy lance, and both of them, again mounting their horses,
returned to the mansion of the count. The door and the street before it
were now, however, deserted; Rodrigo approached the former and gave a
heavy knock on it with the butt-end of his lance, but as no one
answered, he cried out, in a loud and angry voice--

"Come forward, calumnious and insolent count, and abductor of women!"

"Sir knight," called out a woman from an upper window of an adjacent
house, "according to the description you give, it must be the Count of
Carrion you are seeking."

"The very same, honoured dueña," replied Rodrigo.

"Ah, sir knight, would to God I had never set foot in Burgos, and my
eyes would not be now two rivers of tears! Hi, hi, hi!"

"Can you not tell me, woman, if"--

"Pardon me, sir knight, I am just going to do so; but you must know that
I had a daughter, more beautiful than a May morning--Hi, hi,
hi!--Daughter of my heart!"

"Anger of God, stop your weeping!" exclaimed Rodrigo, impatient to
procure information regarding the count.

"Why should I not weep, sir?" continued the old woman, with a calmness
sufficient to deprive Job himself of patience. "Why should I not weep,
when that accursed count has stolen my daughter! Hi, hi, hi! Woe is me,
I must now die of hunger, when I have no one to earn anything to keep
me alive."

Rodrigo had let his impatience and annoyance give way to compassion, and
was about to alleviate the affliction of the old woman. Fernan, however,
whose heart was not so susceptible to the misfortunes of others, now
interfered, exclaiming angrily--

"By Judas Iscariot! if I were up there, I'd soon make that old
chatterbox hold her tongue."

Her weeping and the excitement of her mind prevented her, doubtless,
from noticing that it was the squire who had spoken, for she continued,
as if it were Rodrigo himself who had addressed her so roughly--

"Ah, sir knight, I am a respectable dueña, as you first named me, and
now you call me a chatterbox! Hi, hi, hi! That is too bad, when I have
lost my daughter, who was the best girl in the world! Ah, woe is me!
What will become of me without my Aldonza!"

"Aldonza!" exclaimed Fernan, giving such a start that he nearly fell
from his saddle, and then added, turning to his master--

"By the soul of Beelzebub, sir, this old procuress is making fun of us
to her heart's content! The jade that she says has been stolen from her
by the count, is not a bit better than herself."

Rodrigo, whose patience had been almost exhausted by the talkativeness
and lamentations of the old woman, lost it entirely when he heard what
his squire said, and cried out--

"Let there be an end of this nonsense, whether you are respectable or
not! Where is the count?"

"Oh, if it's that, sir knight--A short time before you knocked at the
door, he and all his attendants rode off very rapidly."

"Confound both him and you, old witch, who have delayed us here for half
an hour!" cried Rodrigo, driving the spurs into the flanks of poor
Babieca. "Let us follow him, even should it be as far as Carrion!"

Babieca and Overo, the speckled horse, started as quick as lightning on
the road that led to Carrion.

"I promise that I will prove to him that he is a coward," said Rodrigo;
"and even should he hide himself in his castle, my lance shall there
find his breast. Fly, fly, my good Babieca, for thou also art interested
in my vengeance!"

But at a short distance from Burgos, Rodrigo and his squire
distinguished, in a south-easterly direction, a dense column of smoke
ascending towards the sky, and in succession farther on they saw another
in the same direction.

They were the smoke signals which were lit on the watch-towers, in order
to give warning whenever the Moors crossed the frontiers.

"The Moors have crossed the Moncayo!" exclaimed Rodrigo. "Before
avenging injuries done to myself, I must avenge those against God, the
king, and my country. Fernan, let us return to Burgos."

"Yes, let us return," replied Fernan, "and make preparations for an
expedition against the Moorish power. As God lives, my heart is almost
bursting my breast with joy. It is a long time now, my beloved lance,
since thy temper was restored by the blood of those Moslem dogs. Ah, and
what splendid thrusts thou wilt give! And you, sir, will have splendid
spoils to lay at the feet of my lady Doña Ximena!"

"Fernan," cried Rodrigo, with enthusiasm, "I must have a throne, that
Ximena may sit on it! I must have Moorish queens to wait on her!"

And, guiding Babieca close to his squire's horse, he held forth his hand
to Fernan, and said warmly--

"Fernan, this hand which clasps yours, and the heart which I feel
beating in my breast, shall win a throne and subjugate Moorish queens!"

Fernan, on hearing the words of his master, and on receiving the
pressure of his hand, felt a tear trickle down his rough and sunburned
cheek.



CHAPTER XVI

HOW RODRIGO ROUSED UP THE COUNTRY, AND DEFEATED THE MOORS IN THE
MOUNTAINS OF OCA


"Up, up, cavaliers of Castile! cover yourselves with your steel coats of
mail, buckle on the golden spurs, bind on the sword, grasp the knee and
the shield, and mount your fiery chargers, which neigh and paw in their
stables, impatient to career over the wide plains. Fly over them, and
close with the Moors, until your battlehorses trample down the Moslem
standard, and the impious Crescent is made a pedestal for the Cross!

"Up, up, cavaliers of Castile! Five Moorish kings have crossed the
Moncayo, and overrun with a large army the dominions of Don Fernando:
they now lay waste the fields; burn the towns; steal and carry off
property from palaces as well as from huts; destroy churches; bear off
women, both single and married; and take prisoners and kill old people
and children, women and men!

"Up, up, knights and squires, those who pay taxes, and those who do not!
Hurry to Burgos, where the honoured cavalier Rodrigo Diaz of Vivar has
raised his green standard,--the son of Diego Lainez, he who was born in
a propitious hour, he of the strong lance, he who fought at Atapuerca,
he who slew the Count of Gormaz, he who conquered Martin Gonzalez of
Aragon in single combat."

Such was the war-cry that resounded throughout Castile, almost
immediately after its invasion by the Moors, on the day when we have
seen Rodrigo abandoning his pursuit of the Count Don Suero, in order to
return to Burgos with the intention of raising an army to march against
the Moorish power. And that cry did not resound in vain; from all sides
armed men hastened to Burgos, and already the cavalier of Vivar had
collected together a number sufficient to instil terror into the
invaders, who, like a wild torrent, which in its rapid and devastating
course tears up everything that lies in its way, had rushed on from the
right bank of the Duero to San Estéban of Gormaz, then to the mountain
chain of Oca, and by the Sierra de Urbiad to Bureva, which it desolated,
without finding any resistance worth speaking of.

Rodrigo was burning with impatience to proceed to the camp; but, as his
prudence was equal to his valour, he did not wish to give any advantage
to the Moslems by leaving their audacity unpunished, and disappointing
the country by marching against them an army incapable, by its numbers,
of conquering the terrible hostile forces. More than two hundred
cavaliers, related to him by blood, had hastened to obey his summons,
and even his nephews, the sons of his natural brother, Don Fernando,
were preparing to set out, notwithstanding that they were all younger
than Rodrigo.

The army was complete, and the hour of departure was approaching.
Rodrigo asked for the blessing of his parents, who gave it to him both
with their hearts and their lips, and, embracing Ximena warmly, he
mounted Babieca, at the same time that Fernan went out to mount his
steed, grumbling at the cowardice and faint-heartedness of woman, for
Mayorica had not been able to restrain a flood of tears on seeing him
set out for the wars, for the young woman loved him more than ever from
the time that he had made peace with her.

The signal was given, and the brilliant army of the knight of Vivar set
out from Burgos in the direction of Bureva, towards which the Moors were
then advancing.

It was a beautiful morning, and as it had not rained for some time, the
road was in good condition. Thanks to this, thanks to the desire that
all had to attack the Moors, and thanks, above all, to the fact that
they had sallied forth from Burgos before the sun had risen in the east,
the troops arrived at the mountains of Oca before midday, having been
joined on the way by additional large bodies of armed men. The territory
at the other side of the mountains had not yet come in sight, when the
scouts, whom Rodrigo had sent forward to explore the country, returned
to meet him, and informed him that the Moors were beginning to ascend
the opposite slopes with great cheering, and other demonstrations of
satisfaction, doubtless on account of the booty they had seized on in
Najera, in Santo Domingo, and other districts of Rioja. On learning that
the enemy was approaching, all those who composed the army uttered
shouts of joy, and Rodrigo, Fernan, and the sons of Fernando Diaz
distinguished themselves not the least in this show of enthusiasm and
valour.

Rodrigo advanced the first, and on arriving on the highest point of the
mountain, he distinguished the vanguard of the enemy, scarcely more
distant than three shots of a crossbow. As he had already given orders
to his captains, as to the manner in which the attack was to be
commenced, he cried out, putting his lance at rest and his shield in
position--

"St James. St James!"

"St. James! onward, Spain!" was the cry which responded to his,--a cry
so resounding and so universal, that not alone did the Moors hear it,
but it even reached the level country.

Scarce was it given, than they rushed on the Moors, who were broken up
and thrown into disorder in a few minutes; such being the terror that
this unexpected and vigorous attack caused them, that even the bravest
warriors amongst them thought at first of seeking safety in flight.
However, Abengalvon, the King of Molina, who was one of the five who
commanded the Moors, raised his voice, loud as thunder, and was the
first to face the Christians; his example encouraged his squadrons. The
conflict then became bloody and obstinate; but the Castilian hosts,
although inferior in numbers, were superior in valour, and were fighting
for their God, for their country, and for their brethren kept in irons
and ill-treated in the Moorish dungeons. Their enemies were therefore in
a short time defeated and routed on all sides, and the field of battle
was covered with Moorish corpses.

The victory was complete: not a Moor had been able to escape from the
onslaught of the Christians, as a very large number were killed in the
battle, and the remainder were taken prisoners. Everything was in the
power of the cavalier of Vivar,--the Moors who had not fallen under the
blows of the Castilian steel, the captives whom they had taken, and the
flocks and herds which they had seized on during their devastating
march. The cries of joy of the rescued prisoners, and the agonised cries
of the dying, were mingled together in one great volume of sound.

Rodrigo, followed by his nephews and by Fernan, all covered with the
blood of the enemy, were riding over the fields of battle, when the
fight was almost terminated. Some wailings, which seemed to be those of
a child or of a woman, came to their ears. Rodrigo hastily went in the
direction from whence they proceeded, and the sight which presented
itself to him moved his heart, which until then had been of stone,
notwithstanding the carnage that had taken place all around him. An old
Moor was breathing his last, and a boy, a Moor also, and very young, was
embracing him, uttering cries of despair, as if he thought he could
preserve the vital heat which was leaving the dying man, by the pressure
against him of his small body. Rodrigo believed that the old man was
already dead, and made a sign with his hand to the boy to approach him;
but the dying man opened his dim eyes, and, seeing that the young
Christian warrior was showing signs of compassion for the disconsolate
child, he made a last effort, and murmured with his failing voice--

"You, Christian captain, who are brave, and must therefore be generous
and good, will protect this unfortunate little creature,--the only
flower of the garden of my love. Oh, Christian, have pity on my son, aid
the helpless orphan!"

"He need never call himself by that name," answered Rodrigo, filled
with emotion, "for if he loses a father in you, he shall find one in
me."

"May Allah send a protector to your sons, if they should ever be in need
of one, and may the Prophet open to you the gates of his holy paradise!"
exclaimed the old man, and tears of gratitude mingled in his eyes with
those of death, which oozed from them, as he fell back a corpse.

Rodrigo removed the unhappy child from the dead body of his father, and
ordered that he should be led to his tent, lavishing on him all the
consolations and endearments which his condition required.

Some hours afterwards, the victorious army set out on its return to
Burgos, bringing with it the rich spoils which it had taken from the
enemy. The inhabitants of all the towns and villages on the way crowded
out to salute the conqueror, and in many places there had been erected,
as if by enchantment, handsome triumphal arches of foliage, and the road
had been strewn with flowers, which perfumed the air. Enthusiastic
cheers arose as Rodrigo passed along, and the sounds of drums and other
instruments enlivened the country, mingling with the fervent
acclamations of the good Castilians.

What a happy day was that for Castile, for Rodrigo, for all who loved
him, and for all good people!

Before the squadrons rode the youthful commander, surrounded by his
relations and his captains; joy shone in his countenance, and warlike
enthusiasm sounded in his words. Babieca moved on swiftly, but Rodrigo
was wishing that he had the wings of Pegasus, that he might arrive in
Burgos with the speed of lightning, for of what value were to the son of
Diego Lainez that victory, those triumphal arches, those acclamations,
those ovations of an enthusiastic and grateful populace, compared with
the triumph, with the glory, with the love which awaited him in Burgos,
beneath the paternal roof? The happiness which filled his soul made
Rodrigo love all about him, and thus it was that Babieca presented
himself to his eyes from a point of view different to that from which he
might have seen him on any other occasion.

"Yes," cried Rodrigo, "this is not alone a day of triumph for us men;
but my good Babieca has gained glory also, and I feel quite sure that
his former master, my godfather Don Peyre, will hold him in more esteem
from this day forward. With what intelligence he let himself be guided
by my hand in the combat! With what ardour and vigour he rushed on the
enemy!"

And he added, giving the noble animal a slap on the neck with his hand,
which raised his head as if he understood the praises which his master
was so freely giving him, and was filled with pride by them--

"Babieca, if you have taken part in the efforts we have made to win the
victory, you also shall have a share in the spoils of it; I promise to
give you the handsomest trappings that we have captured. Many another
day, like this, you shall have to fight against the Moorish forces, and
mingle your sweat with infidel blood. You shall be my companion in camps
and in cities, on the roads and in combats; and if you ever want food
and shelter, it will be only for the reason that my lance has not been
able to procure them for you."

If Rodrigo was well satisfied with the conduct of his steed in the
battle which he had just won, it was not so with Fernan with regard to
his.

"I vow by Judas Iscariot," said Fernan to some squires, on hearing
Rodrigo praise Babieca, "that my master must have taken lessons from
Beelzebub himself, to judge by the knowledge he has of everything. It
seemed to me that it was an ass and not a horse that he selected in the
stables of Don Peyre; but he took it into his head that he was a good
one, and, as it has turned out, knight or squire never bestrode a
better. Now look at mine, which looks as if he were fit for an emperor,
and with all that he nearly left me in the clutches of four Moors, as
big as four Goliaths."

"Tell us all about it," said one of the squires, "for I have an idea
myself of what would likely happen you when you followed into the ravine
those who fled from the main body of the army."

"I shall do so in a few words. I spurred on my horse after four Moors,
as tall as towers, and I continued the pursuit for a considerable
distance; I was nearly touching them with my lance, when, just about
jumping over a wide ditch, my horse stopped; I spurred him violently,
and he sprang forward, but not far enough, and he went down into the
ditch. The Moors saw my mishap, and turned on me, crying out, 'You shall
die there, Christian dog!' They had already raised their powerful
scimitars over my head, when Overo,[1] ashamed, I suppose of his
conduct, made an effort, raised himself, and got out of the ditch. 'It
is ye that shall die,' I cried in my turn; 'I vow it by the bones of
Mahomet!' And closing with the Moors, will ye, nill ye, two of them were
transfixed by my lance, and the others fled, without waiting to help
their companions."

[1] Speckled red and white.

"And you complain of your horse?"

"I find fault with him for good cause; and I would have thrown him over
a precipice, only that in the end he retrieved his character; but if he
ever acts in that way again, I swear by the soul of Beelzebub that he
shall not do so a third time. I am always unfortunate with regard to
horses."

"But you are very fortunate with regard to women, though it is not quite
the same thing," said Alvar; and he added with a malicious smile, "If I
only had such a sweetheart as Mayorica, I would be satisfied with a bad
ass."

Fernan heaved a deep sigh, drawn from him by the remembrance of
Mayorica, and also perhaps by that of Beatrice and that of Aldonza.

"It is some time now since I saw scratches on your face, Fernan," said a
squire. "I suppose you have been faithful to Mayorica?"

"I have been always so," replied Fernan, with much seriousness, which
caused his comrades to laugh maliciously.

"Aldonza would be able to testify to it; is not that so?" retorted the
inquisitive squire.

"And Beatrice also," added Alvar.

"I vow by Judas Iscariot, that you, Alvar, are the most confounded
chatterer that ever was known. Had the son of my mother ever
love-affairs with Beatrice?"

"But it was not your fault that he had not."

"By Beelzebub, I'll break every bone in your body as soon as we
dismount."

Alvar, who knew well the danger of offending the vanity of Fernan,
thought it best to retract what he had said; by that he pacified the
squire of Rodrigo.

Another, however, of the order of squires, named Lope, a serious man,
advanced in years, who had a wife and children, and who some time before
had been scandalised by hearing of the liking of Fernan for plurality in
love-affairs, profited by the occasion to throw his weakness in his face
and to endeavour to convert the amorous squire.

"Brother," he said to him, "in vain will you try to persuade us that you
have been discreet in your love affairs; your weaknesses have been
notorious in Vivar, in Burgos, in Leon, and in all places where you have
resided even a few days. That an inexperienced youth should have as
little sense as you have might be tolerated, but such cannot be excused
in a man of your age. This Mayorica, to whom you pay your homage, and
whom I scarcely know,--if she is not worthy of your affection, well,
then, leave her, and do not continue to look on her with carnal eyes;
she will soon find another that suits her, and you also one who may
please you better. On the other hand, if she is worthy of your
affection, then, brother, serve her with your soul and with your life;
but do not serve more than her, for to be in love with two women at the
same time will neither be pleasing to God nor to the women. If not, tell
me on your honour what you would do if Mayorica shared her love with you
and with another man."

"What I would do?" replied Fernan angrily. "I would kill both Mayorica
and the fellow that dared to look on her!"

"Well, then, brother, God has said, 'Do unto others as you would that
others should do unto you.' Love Mayorica faithfully, if she is
deserving of your love, and marry her if your means permit it; for a
woman without means to support herself and the children that God may
give her, is miserable in her house."

"I shall do so, as soon as I am a little better off, and I trust that
will be in a very short time; for you must know, comrades, that since
the marriage of my lord and master, Don Rodrigo, I am most desirous of
getting married also; and if I can't marry two, I must be satisfied with
one. Besides, do you think I would cease to love Mayorica if I took a
fancy to twenty or a hundred others? Your great simplicity astonishes
me, brothers. Does she who loves the child of her neighbour love her own
less? Certainly, since I fell in love with Mayorica, I have also been in
love with Leonora, Brianda, Sol, Alfonsa, Ivana, Aldonza, Beatrice, and
twenty more; but I only loved them with my eyes, whilst I loved Mayorica
with my heart, and that is the only real love. Apart from that, I have
got a certain idea into my head, and all the preachers in the world
could not get it out of it, and that is: a man can safely be in love
with two women at the same time--provided that they do not know of it."

"On my conscience, comrade, you are either very simple or very depraved.
Did that old witch, Mari-Perez, whom you used to visit near the torrent,
teach you that? According to you, if to-morrow you marry Mayor, and
your wife, whilst you are away on a campaign, should be seduced by
another man, it would be no harm as long as you did not know of it. What
answer have you to that?"

Fernan bowed his head and remained silent in face of this argument of
Lope. The conviction, which he said all the preachers in the land could
not overcome, had just been pulverised by that rough squire.

"Lope," he said at last, "you have convinced me. I confess to you that
until to-day I have been blind, and have understood love-affairs no
better than my horse. I swear to all of you, that even if Beelzebub
himself should come to tempt me in the shape of the best-looking girl in
the world, I would not let myself fall into temptation."

"I hope in goodness," Alvar ventured to say, "that the witch,
Mari-Perez, who has her power from Satan, will not make you fall into
temptation by presenting the devil to you under the form of Aldonza."

"Have no fear of that, Alvar, for if such a devil should appear before
my eyes, I would drive him away, not with holy water, but with the reins
of my horse. I'd like to confess one thing, now that we're speaking of
Aldonza. You know, comrades, that I was in love with her once; but I
think only through the witchcraft of her mother. Well, then, I took a
turn against her on account of a certain kind of caresses which she
lavished on me one morning, and I swore I'd never look on her as long as
I lived. But as time went on, I began to think of her again, also, I
believe, by reason of the incantations of her mother; and I was almost
tempted to hunt her up once more, when I learned yesterday that Don
Suero had brought her off to his castle at Carrion; stolen, according to
what Mari-Perez says, but, as I believe, of her own free will. My soul
was fired by this act of Don Suero, whom I look on as an enemy since the
time when my master and I fought with him and his followers in order to
rescue Beatrice, whom they were forcibly carrying off; and I thought of
seeking out the Count of Carrion, in order to take the girl away from
him; but I now swear that I shall do no such thing, and that from this
day forward I shall have nothing to do with any woman except Mayorica."

"I trust in God it may be so," said Lope; "but he who has bad habits"--

The worthy squire was interrupted by the exclamations of some of his
companions, who, on seeing at the door of a house near the road three or
four maidens, as bright-looking as May roses, commenced to address
tender words to them, at which they laughed and seemed much pleased.

"I vow by Judas Iscariot, that girls like these are enough to make even
a saint go wrong. What eyes, what complexions, what figures, what
sprightliness!"

And, thus speaking, Fernan stopped his horse to gaze on the young girls,
and seemed even inclined to ride towards them. However, as his comrades,
far from imitating him, continued their onward course, laughing at him,
he rode on to overtake them, muttering rather angrily, and looking up
towards heaven--

"O Lord, you have created angels like those who stand at the door of
that house, only that fools like my companions may pass them by without
being thankful for such wonders. What faint hearts the majority of men
have!"



CHAPTER XVII

HOW THE ARMY OF RODRIGO MARCHED BACK TO BURGOS WITHOUT BEING WEARIED, AS
THE READER MAY BE


The conversation of the squires and pages was resumed when Fernan
overtook them.

"We were talking of the girls you were in love with," said Alvar, "but
did you ever seek out Beatrice, to pay your attentions to her again?"

"I have sought to soften her, but in vain," replied Fernan. "Every time
I go to the castle of Vivar, I have to pass near the farmhouse of Pero,
and the devil sometimes tempts me to go in; and I cannot look on
Beatrice without burning myself with her eyes. But she, the ungrateful
hussy, always puts on a most scornful look. But I am certainly
astonished at such constancy in a woman, who has not seen her betrothed
since she was near being carried off to Carrion, and which same
gentleman seems to have forgotten her, as he takes no trouble to see her
again."

"But he has seen her, my friend," replied Alvar, who, as the reader
will remember, had been also in love with Beatrice, and therefore had
managed to keep an eye on her, and had endeavoured to gain her
affections with greater zeal even than Fernan; taking good care,
however, that the latter should know nothing about it.

"What do you say, friend Alvar?" exclaimed Fernan, full of curiosity,
and also somewhat angrily.

"I tell you, brother, that Martin has been at Vivar, and in the house of
Pero. Mine own eyes have seen him, and mine own ears have heard Beatrice
speaking to him. Know, however, comrade, that the young man is not a
rustic, as people think, but a cavalier armed at all points."

"Alvar, you were always a simpleton, and imagined you saw visions. When
did you see and hear that? I suppose it was after drinking too much wine
in some inn."

"The night I saw and heard it there was not a drop of wine in my body."

"What night was it?"

"I will tell you how it was. I am very fond of walking at night through
the fields; for when it is fine weather, and the moon shines bright, and
the day has been hot"--

"I swear by Judas Iscariot! Have done with your roundabouts!" exclaimed
Fernan, beginning to get impatient with the circumlocutions of which
Alvar was so fond.

"I wish to say," he repeated, "that when the weather is fine, and the
moon shines, and the day has been hot"--

"I swear," cried Fernan, again interrupting him, "that if you don't get
quickly from the straw to the grain, you shall feel the flat of my
sword. Was there ever such a stupid bore as this fellow is?"

"Pardon, friend Fernan, I shall not again abuse your patience. Well,
then, you must know that, wandering one night over the fields which Pero
cultivates, I heard the steps of a horse on the road that leads from
Carrion. I approached it, and concealed myself behind a fence. Then I
saw a horseman, well armed, approaching, and, by my faith, his steed was
fit for a king--what fire, what a step! I'd swear he was of the breed of
Don Suero's celebrated mare. One must be blind and stupid not to know
the horses of the Grandee of Carrion."

"'Fore God! I'll break your bones if you don't get on quickly to the
main point."

"Then I shall, Fernan. The cavalier dismounted at the door of Pero's
house and entered--"

"And then?" asked Fernan, with impatient curiosity.

"Nothing more. How could I hear what they were saying inside?"

"I swear that the story of this fool is rather interesting," remarked
Fernan.

"I could not hear what they were saying in the house, but I remained
concealed behind the fence fully an hour, to see if the cavalier would
come out, and if I could discover who he was by what he might say before
his departure. At last I heard the door opening. Beatrice was holding a
candle in the porch, and, thanks to its light, I was enabled to see what
took place there. Pero and his wife embraced the cavalier, Beatrice was
weeping, and I distinctly heard the name of Martin pronounced. The
stranger crossed the threshold at last and mounted his horse. The young
girl gave the candle to her mother, followed him a short distance from
the house, and said to him, 'Martin, since you are resolved not to
abandon this vengeance, do not forget that if you die in carrying it
out, I also shall die of grief.' 'Trust to my love, Beatrice, and it
will bring you happiness,' replied the cavalier, and he disappeared like
a flash of lightning."

"And how long is it since that happened?" asked Fernan.

"I remember it as if it only happened yesterday, for I have a good
memory. Memory is a valuable"--

"Alvar! make use of your memory to remember how I punish stupidities. Is
it long since that happened?"

"I don't remember the exact time; but I know it was at the period when
the band of the Vengador was proceeding to Burgos."

"And now that you mention the band of the Vengador," said one of the
squires, "do you know the news that is going about concerning it?"

On hearing these words, all tried to get their horses as near as
possible to him who pronounced them. This general anxiety to learn
something of the band of the Vengador, showed that it had acquired such
importance that public attention in Castile was fixed on it.

"What news of it have you?" was asked with lively curiosity.

"You must know, as has been related to me by men-at-arms coming from the
neighbourhood of Carrion, that the Vengador has now got together more
than three hundred bandits, and with them he not only laughs at the
Salvadores, but faces them, and has even defeated them in two
skirmishes, so that the Count of Carrion, seeing his district and even
his castle threatened, proceeded to it with the greatest speed, having
left Burgos, where he had recently fixed his residence."

"Perhaps," observed Fernan, "the bandits caused the count to leave
Burgos; but the reason he went off with such rapidity was because he was
afraid that the lance of my master might reach him. However, leaving
that aside, for it does not much matter, can't you tell me who this
Vengador is, who has gained so much fame in so short a time, and who has
got together so numerous a following?"

"As to the Vengador, nobody knows who he is, as he always conceals his
face when he is in the presence of persons who are not members of his
band."

"I am of opinion," said Alvar, "that, as he conceals himself in that
way, he must be a grandee of Leon or Castile, who has become a brigand
in order to revenge himself on his enemies."

"It is more probable that he is a civilian, for it is said that he has a
mortal hatred for all who call themselves noble, and that he protects
the peasantry, and even shares with them what he takes from the
grandees."

"But how did he manage to get together such a numerous band, when the
Raposo, who is now in hell as he deserves, was never able to get more
than twenty to join him."

"Well, then, the reason is--the Raposo was hated by the country people,
whilst the Vengador is loved by them."

"May the devil take me if I understand you, comrade. How is it possible
that a captain of bandits can be loved by either peasants or nobles?"

"It is possible, and that is proved by the fact that the Vengador has
succeeded in it. The Raposo carried off women; murdered children and old
people, from the peasant to the count, from the curate to the bishop; he
pillaged the cabin of the labourer and the hut of the shepherd, as well
as churches and palaces. Therefore all hated him, and did their utmost
to deliver him up to the Salvadores, and plotted his destruction in
every way they could. Who, that had any respect for his skin, would
enlist under such a chief, for he who did so was also abhorred and
cursed by all, and ran continual risk of his life? The Vengador acts in
quite a different way; his dagger is never stained by human blood,
except in self-defence, or fighting in the cause of the helpless,
unjustly oppressed by the strong; the poor man can leave the door of his
cottage open; the muleteer can travel safely along the loneliest roads,
as there is no danger of the band of the Vengador depriving him of his
humble possessions. Inquire how many women the band of the Vengador has
carried off, how many churches he has pillaged, and you will be told
that such outrages are unknown in the districts which it frequents,
since the time that the Salvadores destroyed the band of the Raposo."

"Then if the band of the Vengador does not commit robberies," observed
Alvar, "I hold to my opinion, that its captain is some rich grandee; how
else could he have money to support it?"

"He does commit robberies, brother; but he does not rob poor people. The
Vengador attacks the mansions of the rich and takes from them all that
he can. With that he maintains his band, and when he has more than he
wants for that purpose, he relieves the necessities of the poor people
in his vicinity. That is why the peasants love and respect him; and his
band can encamp wherever he likes, without any risk of falling into the
hands of the Salvadores. And for the same reasons the number of his
followers increases from day to day."

They were still speaking of the band of the Vengador when Alvar, who was
fond of saying what he considered witty things, but which were generally
very foolish, took it into his head to say something which he believed
would create a sensation amongst his companions.

"My friends," he remarked to them, with much mystery, "I desire to
impart a piece of news which I believe won't be such for some of you."

All the squires and pages stopped at once their sprightly conversations,
in order to listen to what Alvar had to reveal to them.

"My mistress, the Senora Ximena, bears the reputation of being an
irreproachable lady throughout all Castile; is not that so?"

"Certainly, and with good reason," was the universal answer; and Fernan
added--

"And if any calumniator were to cast a doubt on the honour of my lady, I
have a lance here to convince him of it."

"It is not me who would calumniate her," continued Alvar in the same
mysterious manner; "but I must tell you that my master, Don Rodrigo,
although he has only just got married, and never had any sweetheart but
Doña Ximena, has a son, a fine little chap."

"I vow by Judas Iscariot!" exclaimed Fernan, seizing his lance, fire
flashing from his eyes. "What is that you dare to say, you villain, you
traitor? Does your scorpion tongue dare to calumniate your mistress, the
most honoured lady, not alone of Spain, but of the entire world? For
this ingratitude to those who supply you with the bread you eat, you
shall die, traitor that you are!"

Saying this, he made a thrust of his lance at Alvar, forcible enough to
pierce a wall; but his anger blinded the squire, and caused him to miss
his aim; to this also contributed a rapid movement of the page, who
threw himself back on his saddle-bow just as Fernan was giving the
thrust.

All those who saw what had occurred hastened to pacify the enraged
squire, some with words and others by seizing his arms from behind.

"Let me go, let me go!" cried Fernan, struggling to get free, so that he
might attack Alvar again, who hardly had breath to excuse himself. At
last they quieted him down a little, and he said in threatening accents
to the page--

"Speak, you rascally traitor, and retract the calumnies that you have
dared to utter against the most honoured of women. If you don't do so at
once, I'll spit you on my lance like a sucking pig."

"Calm your anger, Fernan," murmured the page at last "It was not in my
mind to stain the characters of my lord and lady, but to praise the
compassionate and kind heart of Don Rodrigo."

"Confound you for a stupid chatterer: have I not told you a hundred
times that your roundabout way of stating the most simple facts would
certainly get you into trouble some day or other?" said Fernan,
understanding at last what the page had intended to convey in his
would-be witty style. "Speak out, you fool, and tell us what son it is
that our master has."

"The little Moor that he picked up after the battle, when you left us to
run after the four big Moors to the ditch into which your horse fell.
That is what I was going to speak about, and I was only having a little
joke with you, in order to excite your curiosity."

"I swear to you, Alvar," said Fernan, brandishing his lance, "that such
jokes may cost you dear, if you persist in them. A respectable page or
squire can be pleasant without defaming the honour of anyone, and least
of all that of ladies, for even the purest cannot escape calumny."

"And I swear to you," replied Alvar, "that from this day forward I will
cut out my tongue rather than say, even in jest, a word against either
my mistress or master. My discretion with regard to speaking about
people will increase, but my affection for those we both serve can never
be greater than it is. But, returning to the little Moor, whom my master
has adopted, what has become of him, that we do not see him?"

"He is coming along amongst the captives," answered Fernan; "and, by my
faith, neither he, nor the Moorish kings who have been taken prisoners,
can complain, for they are carried in litters, as if they were going to
the court as conquerors."

"God save us!" exclaimed Alvar; "my master does things, and I am a Moor
if I understand them. Some of the Christians are jogging along on
horseback, with sore bones, and others are blistering their feet on
these roads, hard as those of purgatory, and the Moors are quite
comfortable in soft litters."

"You fool, and a hundred times more than a fool, who has given you
authority to find fault with what our master does?" interrupted Fernan.
"He is so good a subject that he respects even Moors when they bear the
name of king,--even though they may be greater Moors than Mahomet
himself."

"However, if they were kings before they were conquered, they are now no
longer such."

"Good cavaliers, like our master, have more respect for a conquered
enemy than for one whom they have still to conquer. No doubt those kings
entered our territories pillaging and slaying, but they believed that
they were right in doing so, just as we would think the same if we
invaded their kingdoms. As to the Moorish child, would you yourself like
to see him painfully toiling on amid the legs of our horses. The heart
of our master is as tender towards the weak as it is stern towards the
strong, and he has thought and acted in a different manner. That poor
boy, who has seen his father die before his eyes, and who is being
brought into a foreign country at the mercy of strangers, is very
unfortunate. On account of his grief and despair, Don Rodrigo ordered
that he should be carried in the litter of one of the kings, as the
company of one of his own race would naturally be more pleasing to him
than that of a stranger. You will see how our mistresses, Doña Teresa
and Doña Ximena, will console him when he arrives at Burgos, with those
blessed words which they have always ready, to give joy to the sad and
consolation to the wretched."

With conversations such as these the squires and pages were proceeding
onward, when Rodrigo and those who accompanied him stopped on an
extensive plain, at a short distance from Burgos, from which several
roads branched off in various directions. According as the different
bodies of warriors arrived, they halted in that place, and, when they
were all reunited, Rodrigo summoned together the leaders, in order to
proceed to the division of the spoils, according to the rules which were
observed on such occasions.

As the spoils were numerous and valuable, everyone got a good share,
which, with the fact that the division was fair and equitable,
contributed much to the satisfaction and pleasure of all who
participated in them.

After this the army broke up, each captain marching off his men to his
own district. All of them, when departing, bade farewell to Rodrigo with
loud and prolonged cheers.

It is almost unnecessary to add that, if the captains of the various
bands received such valuable shares of the spoils, that portion which
their general, Rodrigo, received was very rich indeed. He then proceeded
to Burgos with all that had been allotted to him, bringing on amongst
the captives the five Moorish kings, who, according to the "Chronicle,"
on arriving at Burgos, knelt with great respect before Teresa and
Ximena, who were very pleased and contented therewith, and praised the
Lord God, weeping with joy on account of the brave deeds which Rodrigo
had performed.



CHAPTER XVIII

HOW THE VENGADOR AND RUI-VENABLOS, ALTHOUGH ONLY BANDITS, THOUGHT AS
CAVALIERS


Some days had passed and the district of Carrion had not experienced any
fresh outrages from bandits, when its honest and peaceful inhabitants
heard the news of the destruction of the band of the Raposo by the
brotherhood of the Salvadores. There was no doubt that the terrible band
had been totally exterminated, since its chief, who had often escaped
even when all his comrades perished, had been killed in the attack made
on them, which has already been described. It is easy, then, to imagine
the joy which all the inhabitants of that part of the country
experienced, and also that of all those who had to travel through it.

But, when it was least expected, a rumour began to be circulated from
mouth to mouth that a portion of the criminals had reorganised
themselves in the Sierra de Oca, and had already made forays into the
level country. This new band was at first composed of scarcely a dozen
men, but on that account it did not inspire the country people with less
terror. The band of the Raposo was not much larger, and, nevertheless,
it had spread mourning and desolation all over the district. But it
happened that the terror of the peasantry, instead of increasing, began
to diminish, as the bandits confined their raids to the populous towns
and most frequented roads; and for that reason the fear of the wealthy
classes increased in proportion. It is not necessary to explain the
reason of this, as it has already been done in the remarks of one of the
pages in the army of Rodrigo, which have been given in the preceding
chapter. What he had told his companions was quite accurate. The band of
the Vengador had indeed increased rapidly; it had faced the Salvadores,
and even defeated them in different encounters, provoked, as it was
said, by the bandits themselves, with the object of avenging the death
of the Raposo and the greater part of his followers, who had been killed
by them on the hill near the Leon road. The Vengador, protecting,
instead of doing injury to the country people, carrying off the herds
and crops of the grandees, and even assaulting, sacking, and burning
their mansions, was by degrees getting to be loved by the former and
detested by the latter. Thus it happened that the band, respected and
protected by the poor, and attacking with impunity wherever its leader
thought fit, was joined, day after day, by discontented people,
adventurers, criminals, and idlers; very many of whom hastened to enlist
in it.

Don Suero had received notice of the outrages it had committed in the
country about Carrion, and had also learned that the terrible band had
just stolen the famous mare of which he was the owner. All this urged
him to leave Burgos and hasten on to defend his property, as his castle
was situated in the centre of the district, that is in the town which
gave it its name. It was now threatened by the bandits, and already
other castles less strong than his had been attacked, sacked, and burned
by the band.

The fears of the count were not unfounded, as we shall soon see. On the
day on which Don Suero hastened his departure from Burgos, fearful also,
as Fernan said, of the lance of Rodrigo, the band of the Vengador was
assembled in a wood, a day's journey distant from Carrion. That body did
not appear to be a band of bandits; judging by its numbers, its arms,
and by the orderly way in which it was marshalled, it seemed rather a
regiment of a regular army, such a one as the best captain might wish to
have under his command in a campaign against the Moors. The bandits were
provided with excellent arms, both offensive and defensive, had good
horses, and obeyed the orders of their chief like the best disciplined
soldiers. He, the Vengador, or, if the reader prefers it, Martin, had
retained to himself the chief command of the band, and had appointed to
inferior positions in it those amongst his followers whom he considered
most suited to fill them; to these he gave the title of captain, calling
himself the chief. Two had been appointed captains, both having had
considerable experience in military matters, as they had served during
several years, as men-at-arms, in the pay of various masters; sometimes
in the campaigns against the Moors, and on other occasions in the civil
strifes which at that period were unfortunately but too frequent amongst
the grandees of Castile and Leon. The name of one of these was Bellido
Dolfos, that of the other Rui-Venablos; the first was formidable on
account of his vindictive and cunning disposition, the second for his
colossal strength, his bravery, and his calmness in the greatest
dangers.

The place in which the band was assembled had all the appearance of a
regular camp, as tents were set up here and there, over which were fixed
military trophies. The Vengador had summoned the two captains to his
tent, and was there conversing with them in a very animated manner.

"I have summoned you," he said, "as I desire to have your advice. Do you
think our forces are sufficient to attack the Castle of Carrion?"

"Yes," replied Rui-Venablos, "I answer for the success of the
enterprise. What avail the fifty crossbow-men whom the count retains for
the defence of his castle, compared with the three hundred brave fellows
who compose our band? I am rejoiced to see that you have decided to
attack that traitor count, for you must know that our men are beginning
to get dissatisfied with you, as you first stirred up their hatred
against him, and then prevented them from reducing his castle to ashes."

"I have waited for an opportune moment to undertake that enterprise, so
that my vengeance may be complete. The count has not been at his castle
since he went to Calahorra, on the occasion of the combat between the
cavalier of Vivar and Martin Gonzalez, as he went direct from it to
Burgos with the Court. We should have found in the castle two children,
eight or ten years of age, and a lady, who is as good as her brother is
bad. The band of the Vengador does not wreak vengeance on such weak
beings. What advantage could we then have gained by attacking the
castle? Plunder it and burn it? That would be but a small punishment in
comparison with that which Don Suero deserves. If he were one of those
poor grandees, whom the burning of his castle would leave without a
home, as he could not build another, the blow would be a heavy one; but
the Count of Carrion is one of the wealthiest grandees in Spain. For
something more than the frightening of a lady and two children, the
plundering of a well-appointed mansion, and warming oneself with the
flames of a burning castle, have the men of the band of the Vengador to
risk their skins."

"May the devil take us if we understand you!" said Bellido and
Rui-Venablos. "If that appears a small revenge to you," added the
latter, "of what kind is that which you desire to have?"

"The vengeance which I ardently desire, that which our people are
resolved on, and which is demanded by the wickedness of the count, and
by the slaughter of the band of the Raposo by the Salvadores, chiefly
founded by Don Suero, is his death."

"Certainly, certainly, that is the vengeance we should take," said
Rui-Venablos. "But how will it be if the count is in Burgos?"

"The count," replied Martin, "is now in Carrion, and that is why I
believe that the opportune time has arrived to attack the castle."

"Let us lose no time, then," exclaimed Rui-Venablos, much excited; "let
us hasten to the den of that accursed count; let us break open its gates
with our hatchets; and let us plunge our swords into the heart of that
murderer of peasants and carrier-off of women."

"We must have revenge on the Count of Carrion, but not in the way you
think," said Bellido, who until then had remained silent, and as if
thinking over some important project. "The Castle of Carrion is strongly
fortified and has brave men-at-arms to defend it. Do you consider it
prudent to expose our unprotected breasts to arrows and other
projectiles, whilst those who hurl them against us are protected by the
turrets and ramparts of the castle? To act so would be excusable if
there were not another plan more certain and less dangerous."

"And what is the plan you are thinking of?" asked, at the same time, the
Vengador and Rui-Venablos.

"It is this," replied Bellido. "The count fears, no doubt, that some
day, when he is least expecting it, we shall make a sudden attack on his
castle, and for that reason he will lose no opportunity of reinforcing
its garrison. Well then, I will present myself to Don Suero as a soldier
who desires to enter his service, and I am sure I shall be well
received. Once having gained entrance into the castle, our band shall
approach it during the night, and with all possible caution. On a
signal, arranged beforehand, I shall open the postern-gate, the band
will enter by it, we will surprise the garrison and its inhabitants,
and, without any risk, will make ourselves masters of the fortress in a
very short time, together with all it contains, including the count."

If Bellido had carefully observed the faces of the Vengador and
Rui-Venablos, he could have easily guessed the reception which his
proposition would receive. Indignation and contempt were stamped on the
countenances both of the chief and of the captain, when Bellido Dolfos
concluded the description of his project.

"Brother," Martin replied to him, with an ironical smile, "do you
propose this seriously to us, or do you only wish to find out if we are
as great cowards as the count whom we intend to attack, for we should be
even more cowardly and treacherous than Don Suero himself were we to do
what you propose?"

"Yes," said Rui-Venablos, "explain yourself; for if we have cowards and
traitors here it is not necessary to go to seek them at Carrion."

Bellido could not conceal his vexation on hearing these words, although
he was a skilled master in the art of dissimulation, when such was
necessary for the accomplishment of his ends.

"May hell take me if I do not punish your insults!" he exclaimed,
putting his hand on his dagger.

The Vengador and Rui-Venablos quickly unsheathed theirs, and held them
directed towards his breast.

"Traitor!" said the former, "if you move foot or hand, you are dead."

Bellido recovered very quickly the command which he almost always
exercised over himself, and said, smiling, in an apparently frank and
natural manner--

"I knew well that you would not approve of my proposal, for you are
loyal and brave, as I like men to be. Comrades, do not condemn me
without hearing me. If I said that I made such a proposition in order to
test your valour, I should only lie, which I have never been in the
habit of doing. I acted in full seriousness, not because it would be
pleasing to me to make the attack unfairly, even if those whom we are
about to assail are traitors, but because I fear that our forces will be
of no avail against the strong walls of the Castle of Carrion, and
because I love so much the brave fellows, who trust in our prudence,
that I would prefer to shed all my blood, rather than that a drop of
theirs should be lost. You might well consider me a coward if I proposed
an enterprise to you in which I myself would have little trouble or
risk; but tell me, whose will be greatest in carrying out the project
which I described? Do you not think that I shall run more danger than
any other member of the band, of being hung on the battlements of the
Castle of Carrion?"

The excuses of Bellido were not of much weight, to speak the truth; his
reasonings were those of one who does not know what to say, and only
says something because he must do so; however, they sufficed to pacify
the Vengador and Rui-Venablos, as they, although exercising the by no
means honourable profession of bandits, were endowed with a certain
amount of good faith, and besides, they knew that it was not a
convenient time to do anything that might cause division in the band.
Martin therefore answered--

"Brother, let us forget this matter; I do not doubt your good
intentions. But do not be astonished at our having been filled with
indignation and anger on hearing such a proposal made to us, one
unworthy of men who have hearts and arms, and which would make us appear
to the eyes of the whole country cowards and traitors as vile as the
Count of Carrion. There are some who may say, 'Set a traitor to punish a
traitor'; but I say, and also all those whose hearts are not cowardly
and base would say, that it is an honourable man who should punish a
traitor. If you fear to expose your breast to the bolts which will be
shot down on us from the crossbows of Don Suero, you are at full liberty
to leave the band before it enters on this enterprise; but if not,
prepare your arms, inform your men, as we shall also do, that to-morrow
at nightfall they are to march upon Carrion; that the count must die,
and that his castle must be destroyed; or that we ourselves must lose
our lives in the attempt."

"Anger of God!" exclaimed Bellido. "If another had thrown any doubt on
my courage, he should e'er this have felt the point of my dagger. With
you, comrades, I desire to conquer or to die."

"Right, brother, right!" said Martin and Rui-Venablos, and they held out
their hands to Bellido Dolfos, who pressed them, with force perhaps, but
we will not say with sincerity, for Bellido was as treacherous as Judas,
and sooner or later he was sure to avenge himself, in some cowardly way,
on anyone from whom he believed he had received an insult.

A short time after he had left them, he was walking in a solitary place,
not far from the encampment, now and then striking his forehead with his
clenched hand and muttering a blasphemy, as if vexed by his want of
imagination; he suddenly stopped, however, meditated for a moment, more
deeply than before, and then pleasure beamed in his eyes and a smile
came on his lips, whilst he exclaimed--

"Excellent thought, not one of them shall escape! Oh, my cleverness is
well worth the two hundred gold marks! Night is now coming on; I must
try to get, on some pretence, to Carrion."

He then proceeded to the tent of the Vengador, and said to him--

"On the Burgos road lives a girl that I am in love with. I should like
to see her, in case I may be killed during to-morrow's attack."

"You can go if you so desire, comrade," replied Martin.

"Then I shall depart at once, as you give me permission," said Bellido.

He then went to his tent, as joyful and contented as Rodrigo Diaz could
have been when he was returning to Burgos after the battle in the
mountains of Oca.

When the night was well advanced he mounted his horse and started for
Carrion, although, when leaving the camp, he rode in an opposite
direction.



CHAPTER XIX

HOW THE SINGLE PAINT THE LIFE OF THE MARRIED


Some hours after the events which happened in the encampment of the
bandits, as we have just described, the scenes which we are about to
relate took place in the Castle of Carrion.

Ten years before the period in which this history commenced, Don
Gonzalo, Count of Carrion, died, leaving two sons, the elder named
Gonzalo and the younger Suero, and also a daughter named Teresa. Gonzalo
inherited the title of count, but also died in a short time, Suero
succeeding him, to whom Teresa should be heiress, and after her two
boys, both very young, Diego and Fernando, whom Gonzalo, the younger,
had left behind when he died.

The heirs presumptive, within a certain degree of relationship, bore the
name of _Infantes_, and that is the reason that Teresa and her nephews,
Diego and Fernando, appear with that title in the "Chronicle."

Teresa was scarcely eighteen years of age at the time of which we are
writing. God had endowed her soul with all the perfections and virtues
that an angel might desire, if he left heaven in order to seek a mortal
woman as his companion for eternity, just as all those perfections had
been denied to her countenance, which are the only charms sought for by
men, when they look on a woman as a material being. Teresa, then, was
the reverse of her brother, both physically and morally; her soul was
all compassion, all love, all sadness. Her face was as white and
delicate as her soul, sad as her heart; and her entire physique was
languid and infirm, by which the graces she had received from nature
were concealed. That sweet and candid dove appeared always desirous of
spreading her wings to mount again to heaven. If God had placed a lyre
in the hands of Teresa, her soul would have exhaled itself in holy and
immortal harmonies. But, alas! the sweet dove lived for ever trembling,
threatened by the cruel falcon, and her angelic spirit was suffocating
within the gloomy walls of the Castle of Carrion.

There was a narrow window in it, from which could be seen an extensive
tract of country, covered with hamlets, the situation of each of which
could be at once recognised by its belfry. Teresa delighted in sitting
at that window, in order to gaze on the azure of the sky and the verdure
of the fields; and to breathe the air sweetened by the perfumes of the
flowers. But those were not the sole enticements which attracted her to
that window: there were in addition happy souvenirs of her childhood. In
the distance, on the slope of a hill, Teresa could see a smiling
village; when gazing on it she was reminded of her mother, and tears
trickled from her blue eyes; but to this remembrance of the loss of her
mother was also joined that of the happiness which she had enjoyed by
her side. She recalled to mind the delicious spring and autumn evenings,
when her mother and she left the castle alone and went to wander through
the fields, for then the affection of their vassals was to the lord and
lady of Carrion as the wing of the guardian angel which protects the
forehead of the righteous, just as, from the time that Suero inherited
the title, the hatred of his retainers was as the sword of the archangel
which constantly threatened the head of Luzbel. Teresa and her mother
went in those times as far as that village, which could be seen from the
castle window; visited, on their way, the cottages of their vassals, one
by one, in order to console the sad and succour the needy; and when the
sun was near setting behind the hill, they left the village crowned with
blessings, and their hearts refreshed by tears of joy and gratitude, in
order to return to the castle where the peace and tranquillity of the
good, and a father and husband, as loving as he was honoured, were
awaiting them. Some of the villagers accompanied them, in order to act
as their protectors, till they were near the castle, and there, on the
summit of a hill, crowned with evergreen oaks and sown with
sweet-smelling herbs, from whence the eye could embrace an extensive
view, the mother and daughter seated themselves, to gaze on the plain,
illumined by the first rays of the moon, to listen to the songs of the
shepherds who led their flocks to the sheepfolds, or those of the
villager who was leaving the fields with his bullocks and plough, and
proceeding to his home where his wife was impatiently awaiting him, or,
if a youth, the loving maiden, who, pretending to her mother that she
was going to the fountain, had left her house to meet him in the grove,
through which ran the brook that served as a mirror to the country
damsels. There also they could hear the toll of the vesper bell from all
the church towers which were visible from the castle, and could lend an
attentive ear to those numerous mysterious and confused sounds, which
arise through the fields even when men and birds are silent.

At that window Teresa was standing, absorbed in her memories of former
times, when she heard behind her the pitiful whining of a dog, which was
running towards her, as if imploring her aid, and also the laughter of
two boys, eight and ten years old, who were following it with much noisy
hilarity.

"Poor Leal, what is the matter with you?" said Teresa, going up to the
dog, which continued its sad whine. On caressing the poor animal, she
hastily drew back her hand, feeling a painful sensation.

At the same time the boys came up.

"Aunt," said one of them, "give us some pins to stick in Leal's other
ear."

Teresa knew then why the dog was whining, and understood the reason of
the pain which she had felt in her hand when stroking it. The boys had
stuck pins in its ear.

"You cruel boys," she said to them, "what has Leal done to you, that you
should torture him so?"

"It's to make him sing," replied the elder brother.

"Aunt," said Fernando, the other boy, "give us pins to stick them in his
other ear, and you will hear him singing and see him dancing."

Teresa heaved a sigh on seeing such cruelty on the part of the boys, and
hastened to extract the pins from the ear of the dog, which ceased its
whining and showed its gratitude by caressing her and licking the hand
from which blood still trickled, caused by punctures of the pins.

At the same time the bell of the town church tolled for evening prayer.
The children continued, with much noise, to make fun of what they had
done to the dog.

"Be silent!" said Teresa to them, in a severe tone of voice; "kneel down
and pray for your mother."

"What's the good when we won't be heard?" replied Diego. "Our uncle says
that when one dies it is just the same as when a dog dies."

"Yes, aunt," added Fernando; "our uncle says that, and you know that he
never says prayers."

"Alas!" exclaimed Teresa, filled with grief, "cruel and impious at the
same time." She then added, raising her eyes towards heaven, "O my God!
have pity on the house of Carrion!"

She then knelt down, and directing her gaze on the blue and star-covered
firmament, which could be seen through the window, she prayed fervently,
moistening the floor with her tears.

"Alas!" she murmured, shortly afterwards, again standing at the window;
"my heart is very sad! I fear and desire, without knowing what! How sad
and long the nights are, O my God! Where can Guillen be? He has not come
this evening, as usual, to make more bearable, with his pleasant
conversation, this solitude which surrounds me. He is the only one who
feels compassion for me; he is the sole person here who understands me,
for his is the only generous and good heart in the castle. What lofty
feeling he has! With what enthusiasm he speaks of everything that is
good and noble! The ambition which animates him is worthy of a cavalier.
Son of a poor commoner, he has a soul as noble as those of the best
grandees of Castile. Happy would be the maiden who could gain his love!"

Teresa interrupted her meditations, as a soft and respectful voice just
then asked permission to appear in her presence. The maiden willingly
conceded it, and Guillen entered the chamber.

"I thought you would not have come this evening, Guillen, as it is now
so late," remarked Teresa in a tone of sweet reproach.

"Pardon me, lady," replied the page, with great sweetness; "your
brother, my master, has kept me occupied till now"--

"Well, then," interrupted the sad maiden, with one of her melancholy
smiles, "as a punishment for your delay, I desire that you sit down in
that chair, and here, near the window, and by the light of the moon,
converse with me for a short time, and relate to me the news of Burgos,
for you have not yet told it to me."

"Ah!" exclaimed Guillen, moved by the kindness of Teresa, "how generous
and indulgent you are towards me, my lady!"

He then seated himself opposite the young lady, near the embrasure of
the window; looking, however, at the face of Teresa, he saw a tear still
on her pale cheek, a tear which sparkled in the rays of the moon, as the
drop of dew suspended on the leaf of a flower shines in the light of the
rising sun. Guillen was troubled, and said--

"Lady, have you been weeping? Who has offended you? Tell me, tell me, as
I, though a humble page, son of a poor man, have an arm and a heart to
chastise anyone who dares to offend my mistress"--

And Guillen stopped, fearing that the sentiments of his heart might
tempt him to say something which his position would not warrant.

"No one has offended me, Guillen," replied Teresa, much moved; "I thank
you, however, for the interest you take in me, for you are generous and
good. I was thinking of my mother, and that is why you have seen my
cheek moist with tears."

These words tranquillised the page.

"Will you tell me the news from Burgos?" continued the maiden. "Since
the Court moved thither, many things must have happened worthy of being
related. I have been told that splendid festivities were celebrated in
that city, on the occasion of the marriage of the son of Diego Lainez
and the daughter of the Count of Gormaz."

"That, my lady, was the most notable event during our stay in Burgos,"
answered Guillen in a low voice; "but I cannot venture to speak of it,
for you know that your brother, my master, has commanded that the name
of any of the family of Vivar should not be mentioned in his castle."

"I know it," said Teresa; "but do not fear, for the count cannot hear
you in this chamber. Has the marriage been one of love, or only by order
of the king, as some say, in order to prevent feuds which might have
arisen between the two families? Do not be surprised at my curiosity,
Guillen, for, knowing that the daughter of Don Gome and the son of Diego
Lainez are honourable and good, their happiness interests me."

"Oh, they are completely happy, my lady," exclaimed the page. "You must
know that Don Rodrigo and Doña Ximena have loved each other since they
were children, so you can easily imagine how great their joy must be now
that they are united for ever! A garland of sweet flowers must be the
bonds of that marriage which joins those whose hearts were already
united by love."

An involuntary sigh escaped from the breast of Teresa on hearing Guillen
utter these words. She had contemplated in her parents the happiness
which the page described in such enthusiastic words, and even without an
example like that, her own heart revealed such felicity to her. But,
alas! the only thing that Teresa had to expect was that some day her
brother would say to her, "I wish you to marry such or such a nobleman;
the interests of our family demand it; prepare to go to the altar." And,
miserable and resigned victim, she would have to ascend the altar of
sacrifice, to which fraternal tyranny was leading her. And even if she
had sufficient courage to open her lips and say to her brother, "That
which you demand of me is the most barbarous of sacrifices; I do not
even know the man with whom you are about to unite me with eternal
bonds; the chains which are to bind me from to-day are those of
interest, are those of vanity, are those of mean ambition, the tyranny
of which may cause my soul to rebel, and look with horror on her most
sacred duties. The nuptial blessing should only be the sanction of an
agreement arranged beforehand between two hearts. Permit that mine may
be united with another which throbs in unison with it, and then I shall
be a good wife, and a good mother, and will bless the brother who left
open for me the gates of Paradise." Yes, it would be indeed useless to
say this to her brother, for that man without God, without law, without
pity, would put a gag in her mouth before she had even finished her
entreaties, and drag her, mute and helpless, to the altar of the inhuman
sacrifice. How could Don Suero understand the yearnings of a soul,
tender, loving, and compassionate, as was that of his sister? How could
he understand it, who himself did not comprehend what love and
compassion were--he who found in violence the only means of triumphing
over women?

All these bitter reflections crowded into the mind of Teresa when the
page had spoken that beautiful panegyric of a marriage contracted
through love. The two young people remained silent for some moments: the
thoughts of Guillen were not less sad than those of Teresa: first he
thought of the happiness that would be his if Teresa loved him, and if
they could be united, and this dream lulled him for a moment; he then
awoke from it, and thought how difficult, if not impossible, the
realisation of it would be. Who was he, to aspire to be the husband of
the noble sister of the Count of Carrion, of the Infanta Doña Teresa,
whose hand would honour the most noble of the Castilian lords? And if
Teresa, the goodness of whose soul was of far greater worth than her
birth, should ever love him, was she mistress of her own hand? Would the
count, full of ambition, of pride, of hatred for common people, permit
his sister to bestow her hand on a poor page, the son of a humble man?
Then, however, a ray of hope shone upon his mind, for hope and gilded
illusions are the inheritance of hearts which are enthusiastic and in
love, generous and good. He repeated to himself what he said to his
friends in Burgos on the day of the wedding of Rodrigo and Ximena: "I am
young, and not wanting in courage; I will take a lance and fight against
the Moors; I shall be armed a knight, and then a hundred brave men will
follow me; I shall enter the Moorish territories, shall conquer them,
and shall be a lord over vassals, and then Don Suero will not refuse me
the hand of his sister." These foolish hopes, these vain illusions,
again strengthened his heart.

"The idea which you have conceived of those bonds is very beautiful,
Guillen!" said Teresa, abandoning her gloomy reflections.

"Lady, is it not the same idea which you yourself have formed?" replied
the page.

"You will please me exceedingly if you explain yours to me more fully,
so that I may see if it corresponds with mine," said Teresa. "The
watches in the castle are so long and gloomy that it is necessary to
endeavour to pass them some way or other."

"I shall do so, my lady, if it pleases you," replied Guillen with
delight; for Teresa had afforded him an opportunity of unburdening his
soul, of telling her indirectly how he would love her, and what the
happiness of both of them would be if a day should ever arrive when they
could become husband and wife.

"Lady," continued the page, "what great happiness it would be if the
soul could be shown on the palm of one's hand, like a material object!
If it were so, I would say to you, 'Gaze on my thoughts, gaze on my
soul, examine its deepest secrets.' And you would read it with one look,
you would know it such as it is, you would comprehend the idea which you
ask me to explain to you with my lips. In the lives of two married
persons, united by love, joy and sadness, pleasures and pains, happiness
and grief, are mingled together and become common to both; all
sentiments, all feelings are dual, for each thinks and feels for both.
The maiden and the youth who have desired for a long time to belong to
each other, body and soul, considering such a union as the supreme
felicity of this world, and one to which they have been looking forward
from day to day, from year to year, and reflecting over its future, from
the happy day on which they will be united by the priest, to that on
which death must separate them. Both would thus say, 'In the early days
of our marriage we shall enjoy all the illusions and joys of both lovers
and spouses, and our hopes will be even sweeter than now, for we shall
have more confidence in their realisation; new bonds will soon come to
unite us closer and closer, and those bonds will be beautiful little
creatures, whom we will love as parts of ourselves, and by whom we shall
be loved, not alone for the life which we have given them, but also for
the ceaseless care and affection which we have lavished on them. We will
not feel that our lives proceed on towards the grave, for the plants
which the sun of our love has caused to spring up will remain beautiful
and luxuriant, above the tomb which shall cover our ashes, as the
reproductions of our beings.' Will not the maiden and the youth who have
had such ambitions, who have so reflected and have so spoken, consider
themselves happy? will they not believe that they shall find that
supreme felicity on the day when their hopes begin to be realised, the
day on which they become each other's for ever? That, lady, is the way
in which I look on the happiness of those who are united to each other
by love. I do not even imagine them rich and surrounded by all kinds of
comforts and luxuries, although in that case the picture would be still
more enchanting, for misery and hard work irritate the soul. I suppose
them to be only poor labourers, who by instinct alone preserve their
souls pure and open to good and elevated sentiments, for education and
intelligence have not perfected and developed their feelings. They live
in a rustic hut; the gardens which surround them have been formed by
nature, and it is nature that takes care of them. In them grow the
carnation, the mignonette, the thyme, the sage, and a thousand other
flowers and plants, the perfumes of which rival those of the gardens
created and cared for by the hands of man. There are no trees there
planted in rows to form beautiful and shady walks, no fountains of water
to sparkle in the sunshine; but there grow there, scattered and without
order, trees bearing cherries, pears, figs, apples, nuts, and other
fruits, which exhale rich perfumes, delight the eye, and supply food for
the frugal rustics; and near that poor dwelling is a spring which
bubbles from the rocks, and which fertilises the fields and quenches the
thirst of those simple people. The sounds of music and the incessant
noise of cities do not awake those peasants, but the crow of the cock,
and, later on, the warbling of the birds, which salute the dawn from the
leafy trees, amid which the humble dwelling appears like a white dove,
half concealed in foliage. Then the labourer leaves his bed, in which he
has enjoyed sound sleep, caused by a good conscience, wakes up his wife
with a loving kiss, and impresses another on the smiling cheek of his
child, who still sleeps on, and dreams, sometimes imagining he is with
his mother, and sometimes that he is with the angels, who, as he has
been told, come down every night to watch over him. The father then
proceeds to the adjoining field, just as the east is beginning to be
tinged with gold and purple, announcing the rising of the sun. Whilst he
is working he hears, coming from his cottage, songs which rejoice his
heart. His wife is singing whilst she performs her household duties, and
her songs sound to the ears of her husband as pleasing as the most
perfect music, for they are the same which she sang for him in her
maiden days, when they lovingly wandered through the woods and fields.
The sun shines fiercely and the work is hard, but the labourer is not
discouraged, for hopes encourage him. In that field which he moistens
with his sweat will grow up golden corn which will enrich his granary.
Evening comes on, and then he realises another of the sweet hopes which
animate him; he quits the field and returns to his cottage, where he is
welcomed with tenderness and delight by his wife, who has looked forward
to that moment as a rich reward for the labours of the day. What a
beautiful picture is then presented by that family, reunited around
their hearth! Lady, my words are too poor to describe it; your own heart
can imagine it."

Oh yes! the heart of Teresa pictured to itself that which the page could
not find words to describe, and understood the scenes which Guillen had
so imperfectly sketched.

"Guillen," said Teresa, feeling her heart throb rapidly, "you were right
when you said that the idea you had conceived of nuptial bonds
sanctified by mutual love was the same as that which I had formed of
them. Alas! why were not my parents poor peasants?"

"Why were not mine nobles?" exclaimed the page; and as if frightened by
his words, and fearful of revealing to that noble maiden the love which
burned in his heart for her, he stood up from his seat, and said--

"Allow me to retire, my lady, for I am sure the count is expecting me,
and you know what punctuality he requires from his attendants."

Teresa made no objection, and the page departed.

Was that indifference?

But when Guillen left her side she felt sad and unhappy, in her heart
was a great void.

Was that love?



CHAPTER XX

HOW THE COUNT OF CARRION GAINED NOTHING BY BULLYING


Just at the time when Guillen was describing to Doña Teresa the idea
which he had formed of marriage accompanied by love, a very different
scene was being performed in the lower portion of the castle, in the
room which had been occupied, and was now occupied again, by Sancha, the
peasant girl, whose father Don Suero had deprived of his sight. The
reader will have suspected who the girl was that the count had carried
off from Burgos; it was she who had assumed the name of Aldonza at the
time of her flight with Mari-Perez.

The girl was standing at a barred window which looked out on the open
country, for the Castle of Carrion consisted of a square turreted tower,
without exterior fortifications. At her side stood Don Suero, addressing
to her bitter reproaches, to which she was listening with apparent
disdain, gazing indifferently on the fields lit up by a very bright
moon.

"Ungrateful one," the count was saying, "did the love which I felt for
you deserve that you should fly from my side as you did? Were you not
the only woman to whom the Count of Carrion ever humbled himself? What
was ever wanting to you in my castle?"

"I wanted liberty, and I fled away to seek it; I wanted a father, of
whom you, cruel man, deprived me, and whom I have not succeeded in
finding."

"And were not those privations easy to be borne, being compensated by
the comforts and luxuries which you enjoyed in my castle, and more than
all, by the love of the noble Count of Carrion?"

The girl laughed, and replied disdainfully--

"More pleasant to me than the comforts and luxuries of your castle have
been the coarse apparel, the poor food, and the wretched habitation of
Mari-Perez, for they reminded me of what I had in my childhood; and as
to the love of the noble Count of Carrion, that of a poor squire of the
grandee of Vivar was much more agreeable to me."

"May you be confounded!" exclaimed Don Suero, scarcely able to speak
with rage, for that was the first time that a woman dared to scoff at
him, and that jealousy tortured his perfidious heart. "With tears of
blood you shall weep over your ingratitude; you shall never again see
your father, nor rejoice in that liberty which you sigh for so ardently,
nor enjoy any other love but mine."

The girl answered the threats of the count with another loud burst of
laughter, which caused his anger to rise to its highest point. Don Suero
then placed his hand on his dagger, but the girl threw herself on his
neck, changing suddenly her sarcastic words and her disdainful smiles
into the sweetest and most caressing smiles and words that a woman can
assume, in order to disarm the anger of a man.

"Thus do I like to see you, my love," exclaimed Sancha,--"thus do I like
to see you, for you appear to me the handsomest of men when anger
animates your countenance."

These words and the caresses of Sancha changed all at once the tiger
into a gentle lamb; that woman was beautiful, but she was endowed with
an animal and savage beauty, if we may so express ourselves; for that
reason did she exercise such a powerful influence over the soul of the
count, who set no value on those quiet kinds of loveliness which are the
delight of cultivated and pure minds. Between the souls of Don Suero and
Sancha there was a marvellous affinity, just as there was one, of a
vastly different description, between the souls of Guillen and Teresa.

"Sancha, Sancha!" murmured Don Suero, intoxicated with pleasure, and
returning the caresses of the wily peasant girl. "What pleasure can you
take in showing alternatively to me hell and heaven?"

"In order that heaven may appear fairer to you, having looked into
hell," responded Sancha, redoubling her caresses. "Oh, my love, what
happiness awaits us in the Castle of Carrion, if you do not force me to
fly from it!"

"Fly from it?" cried the count, almost terrified; "no, no, if you should
do so again, this dagger will pierce my heart."

"Let your heart be entirely mine, and then I will love you more than
myself and never leave you. You have called me ungrateful just now. How
unjust you are, my love! Learn, then, that I did not fly from you to
seek freedom, nor even to search for my father: I fled because you
bestowed on others the love which I thought should be mine alone. Do you
swear to amend your faults, and never again to set eyes on any woman but
me?"

"Yes, Sancha, I swear it to you."

"If you keep that promise, my sweet darling, how I shall love you! But
if not--I shall eternally hate you, and ever despise you."

A few minutes after Don Suero left the chamber of Sancha, and he might
be heard to murmur, "This, this is heaven. They are fools who seek it
beyond this life."

Just at this time a voice was heard, calling out, "Hallo! ye of the
castle!"

The count heard it, and, as he recognised it, hastened to order that the
stranger should be admitted, impatience and uncertainty exhibiting
themselves on his visage and in his words. The new-comer was at once
introduced into his presence, in one of the most private rooms of the
castle.

"You are welcome," Don Suero said to him; "I was expecting you with
impatience. What tidings do you bring?"

"Bad," answered Bellido, for he was the man.

"May the wrath of God confound the bandits!" exclaimed the count. "How
is it that they can thus go on, mocking the laws, with impunity? Why
cannot some means be found to exterminate them?"

"Calm your impatience, my lord, for you must not yet abandon the hope,
which my anxious desire to serve you has caused you to conceive. I have
proposed to them what we arranged, and they would not accept my plan; on
the contrary, they almost threatened my life for having believed them
capable of committing an act of treachery, for they look upon the
gaining entrance into the castle without fighting as such."

Don Suero broke into loud laughter.

"Since when," he cried, "have bandits become so very honourable?
Perchance they have also converted you, Bellido? So much the worse for
you, however; for your honour will cost you two hundred gold pieces,
which I promised you if you brought the Vengador and his band into an
ambush, in which they all might perish."

"Who has told you," replied Bellido, "that I have given up the idea of
earning the two hundred gold marks? Do you imagine that Bellido Dolfos,
when he undertakes an enterprise, abandons it at the first check? Is it
a small matter to have enlisted in the band of the bandits; to have
borne hunger, cold, and fatigue; to have been at the very head of the
band whilst attacking the castles of twenty other grandees--all to gain
the confidence of the Vengador? After all that, do you think I would
renounce the fruit of my labours because our plans have met with a
slight check? You know me but badly, count."

"Pardon me, Bellido," said Don Suero, recovering the hope which he had
almost completely lost "I am so unlucky that I thought there was no
further expedient."

"We have still hopes."

"Tell me, then, what they are."

"I shall do so, if you listen to me without getting impatient."

"Speak, then, for I am very desirous of hearing you."

"The Vengador indeed spurned my proposal, but there is another way to
ensure the destruction of the band. We have arranged that the castle
shall be assaulted to-morrow night. The plan adopted is to force the
postern, to seize on the men-at-arms who guard the castle; all this
would be an easy matter, as the Vengador has three hundred bandits, and
the garrison of the castle consists of only fifty crossbow-men. Well,
then, I have thought out a very simple plan to dispose of the band:
arrange the postern in such a way that there will be but little
difficulty in forcing it open; loosen the stones of the arch which
covers the first chamber inside that gate, so that, on letting a heavy
stone fall violently on the upper part of the arch, it may give way at
the opportune moment; and finally, secure well the door between the
first and second chambers. As soon as the brigands get in through the
postern, they will rush to the next door, and whilst they are occupied
in forcing it open, the arch will crush down upon them, and they will
almost all be annihilated beneath the heavy stones, to the weight of
which will be added that of those which will cause the arches to give
way."

"Bellido," exclaimed the count, filled with enthusiasm, and extending
his hand to the traitor, "I congratulate you, and I am in thorough
accord with your plan, which appears to me to be an excellent one. What
a joyous day it will be for me when I succeed in exterminating that
infernal band, which is a perpetual nightmare to me! It is not two
hundred golden pieces that I will give you, but three hundred, as soon
as your scheme succeeds as well as we both hope it shall."

"I can rely upon you to carry out exactly the instructions which I have
given you. You will not forget that the attack is to take place on
tomorrow night?"

"I shall not forget it, Bellido; nor shall I forget either to have the
three hundred gold pieces ready counted for you. Take care not to enter
the postern at the head of the band, for it would be very ungrateful of
me to wish you ill, when you are serving me so well."

"You may be quite sure I shall not do so; I shall remain outside, and if
the door has not been closed after the bandits enter, I shall take care
to shut it and also to bolt it outside, so that none of them may get out
when the arched ceiling is about to fall."

A short time after, Bellido Dolfos returned to the camp of the bandits.

As soon as he had sent the traitor away, and when almost all were asleep
in the castle, Don Suero summoned one of his servants, who acted as
architect whenever repairs had to be carried out in the castle, and gave
him instructions as to what was necessary to be done to the arched
ceiling of the chamber which was to serve as the sepulchre of the
bandits. During what remained of the night heavy hammering could be
heard in the direction of the postern, and before morning everything was
arranged as Bellido had ordered; the keystones of the arch had been
loosened, two enormous stones had been suspended over it, by means of
pulleys fastened to the roof, and the postern had also been manipulated
so that it could be pushed open without much force, and afterwards
bolted outside.

Notwithstanding the certainty which the count felt of destroying the
bandits by the ingenious plan which Bellido had devised, he was very
uneasy, when he reflected on the insult which he had offered to Rodrigo
Diaz by calling him a coward, and he doubted not but that De Vivar would
endeavour to take revenge on him. All this weighed heavily on the mind
of the count, as he feared the serious consequences which it might bring
upon him.

He was thinking on this, when he was informed that four cavaliers had
arrived at the castle from Burgos, and that they were the bearers of a
message for him. The greatest fear seized on Don Suero when he received
that announcement, and, as he did not at once reply to the servant who
was awaiting an answer, the latter ventured to say to him--

"My lord, what reply shall I bring to the messengers?"

"May hell swallow me!" exclaimed Don Suero, violently stamping on the
floor. "I should like to have the entire human race in my power, to
destroy it with my hands!"

Thus speaking, he sought for a dagger in his girdle, and not finding it,
he took up a stout piece of wood, which lay amongst those beside the
fireplace, and gave several blows to the unlucky servant, who bore them
resignedly, persuaded that submission was best when the count was in a
passion.

When he had treated his servant in this unjust manner, he sat down
beside the fireplace and remained for some instants buried in thought;
he then suddenly exclaimed--

"No, I shall not fight with him; Martin Gonzalez was stronger and more
skilful than I.... Lucifer protects De Vivar."

Having said this, he raised his head, and seeing the servant, who was
still patiently awaiting his orders, he added--

"Are you still there, fellow?"

And he was about to take up again the piece of wood with which he had
belaboured his shoulders; suddenly, however, abandoning his threatening
attitude, he said--

"Pardon me, Gonzalo; I have beaten you, not knowing what I was doing;
introduce to my presence those cavaliers, or whatever they are."

The servant obeyed, and a minute after Antolin Antolinez, Alvar Fañez
Minaya, and two other cavaliers, also of Burgos, stood in the presence
of Don Suero.

"To you, Don Suero Gonzalez, Count of Carrion," said Antolin, "Don
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar sends us,--he whom you insulted in Burgos, by
calling him coward and low-born"--

Don Suero interrupted Antolin Antolinez, saying humbly--

"Certainly, I called him coward, not knowing that it was he; for my
anger, at seeing my servitors ill-treated, blinded me."

"Don Suero, you must give this apology to the offended on the field of
battle, and not here," replied Antolinez.

"For two cavaliers to engage in deadly strife," answered the count,
still humbly, "it is necessary that they should hate each other, and I
have no rancour towards De Vivar, nor do I consider him a coward or
low-born; on the contrary I acknowledge him to be one of the bravest and
most honourable cavaliers of Castile."

"If, then, you believe that," said Antolin Antolinez, "publish it, and
make it known in all parts. Thus only, except by fighting face to face,
can you satisfy the offended. The honour of De Vivar is of such value
that its master will defend it with the greatest ardour."

"Do you believe that the humiliation, which you propose to me, should be
inflicted on a good cavalier, such as I am?"

"And do you believe that a good cavalier, such as Don Rodrigo is, should
be called a coward with impunity? No, no, as God lives! If Rodrigo Diaz
is not himself able to avenge the insult which you have cast on him,
there are a thousand cavaliers in Castile ready to unsheath their swords
in defence of his honour. Listen, mean and calumnious count! Don Rodrigo
Diaz de Vivar challenges you to single combat, and tells you that, if
you do not accept the challenge, he will put up notices all through
Castile and Leon, denouncing your villainy and cowardice to the
execration of the public."

"Be silent, be silent! and do not force me to add fresh insults to those
which I addressed to De Vivar in Burgos," exclaimed Don Suero,
abandoning the submissive tone which he had hitherto used.

"In fine, what is your reply to him who has sent us?"

Don Suero stood up with haughty demeanour, and answered, with supreme
disdain--

"Tell De Vivar,--tell him that he may do what suits him best; tell him
that the Count of Carrion does not choose to fight with so base a
cavalier."

"We have delivered the message of Don Rodrigo, and we shall carry back
your reply to him," answered Antolin Antolinez; and he and his
companions immediately set out on their return journey to Burgos.

They had scarcely left the castle when Don Suero began to meditate on
the reply which he had just given; he thought on the stain of cowardice
which would be cast on him, broke out into furious imprecations, and
maltreated in a barbarous way the first servants who presented
themselves to his sight. Very soon, however, his rage changed into
discouragement and terror, and he wept like a weak woman. But the hope
of destroying the bandits on that very night roused up his spirits, and,
full of that subject, he ceased to think on the challenge of Rodrigo.

Two days after, Rodrigo Diaz caused proclamations to be posted up
throughout Castile and Leon, publishing the cowardice of Don Suero, and
returning, with interest and the greatest justice, the insults which he
had received; two days after, the Count of Carrion, who before was well
hated by some, was now abhorred by all; two days after, the country
people were singing the ballads which the troubadours had composed,
setting forth, in the blackest form, against Don Suero, the question
between him and De Vivar.



CHAPTER XXI

HOW ONE MOOR REMAINED, AND FIVE WENT AWAY


Two days had passed from the time that Rodrigo entered Burgos with the
spoils which he had taken in the mountains of Oca, and Teresa Nuña,
Ximena, Lambra, and Mayor were amusing themselves, talking to and
caressing the Moorish boy, saved by the kind-hearted Castilian general
on the field of battle. The boy was very handsome, and spoke the Romance
language with tolerable facility, as he had learned it from the
Christian captives who had always been servants in the house of his
father.

Those kind women had received him well, as Fernan prophesied, and
lavished on him all the caresses which a tender mother has for her
children when she sees them sad and disconsolate. The poor little
fellow, who, notwithstanding the kind manner in which Rodrigo treated
him, had been sad and downcast, now recovered courage and joyousness;
and even tears of gratitude and pleasure sprang from his beautiful and
expressive eyes. Lambra was almost mad with delight on account of the
handsome boy; the honoured and faithful dueña, who had envied a thousand
times the happiness of mothers who had children to caress and to be
caressed by, saw in anticipation the joy she would experience when her
mistress and Rodrigo would be married, a joy which was her golden dream,
and which would consist in having children by her side, to whom she
could be, in a certain sense, a mother. Even Mayor participated in
the contentment of her mistress and of the dueña, for without doubt she
saw in that pretty child what she hoped the fruit of her love for Fernan
would be.

The tender sympathy which binds children to women certainly moves and
consoles the soul, whether those women are mothers or those who have
never experienced the pains and delights of maternity. A poor,
unprotected child often appeals in vain to the heart of a man, but never
to that of a woman. When, covered with rags, shivering with cold, and
famished with hunger, it appeals to public charity in the streets, let
us count the men and the women who aid it, and we will see that the
number of the former is very much less than of the latter. What
consoling words often escape in such cases from a woman's lips!

"Have you no mother?"

"Poor little angel!"

"Alas for mothers who have given birth to children, to see them thus!"

Such as these are the words which the lips of women pronounce over the
unhappy child.

Let us bring back our memory to the calm days of our childhood, let us
bring to mind what sex it was that dried our tears, impressed kisses on
our cheeks, lulled us to repose with songs, watched over our sleep, took
part in our games, divined our wishes in order to satisfy them, wept
when we were in grief, and celebrated with deep contentment our good
health and joy. The name of a woman will be always bound up with those
recollections, whether it be that of our mother or of some other. God,
who foresees everything, who never entirely abandons the weak, has given
the child a mother in almost every woman.

Let us wander through the streets, let us go into villages, let us enter
the dwellings of the wealthy, and then let us pass on to the cottages of
the poor--wherever God has not given a vulgar and stony heart, we shall
find the essence of poetry and of sentiment in the multitude of names
with which, everywhere, women express their tenderness for children.

"My love!" "My delight!" "My treasure!" "My glory!" they exclaim,
kissing with rapture the rosy cheek of an angel. And those names, not
studied, but rushing spontaneously from the heart, are they not of more
value than all the loving expressions that poets have ever invented?

The sentiments with which children inspire women raise them above vulgar
surroundings, and purify their souls with the holy fire of poetry. When
we see women filled with such feelings, let us ask them why they love
children, and they will reply to us with these words, or similar ones--

"Because, when we seek for angels on earth, we can only find them in
these little children."

If for other qualities, for other virtues, for other attractions, women
do not merit the love and respect of all generous and good souls, they
deserve it for the sympathy which children awaken in their hearts.

Let those be blessed and loved who understand and experience the feeling
which moved the lips of the divine Nazarene when He said, "Suffer the
little children to come unto Me!"

"Ismael," said Ximena to the Moorish boy, "did you ever know your
mother?"

"Yes, kind Christian; she was beautiful and good, and loved me as you
do; but Allah took her to Paradise just at the end of the last Ramadan."

"Son of my soul!" exclaimed Teresa Nuña, "and did you love her much?"

"Ah yes," replied the child, "and yet she did not take me with her."

His eyes overflowed with tears, and he continued--

"When holy Allah called her to Paradise, my father and I wept very
much. A short time after the king was enrolling people for the war, and
my father asked me, 'Would you wish to go see your mother?' 'Oh yes,' I
answered. On that very day he took me up behind him on his horse, and we
set out for the frontiers of Castile. 'We are going to the war, my son,'
said my father to me, on the road; 'I trust that we may be killed in it,
for then we shall fly to Paradise, and never again be separated from
your mother, who is there.'"

The boy interrupted his story for a moment, bursting into sobs, and then
added--

"My father went to Paradise to see my mother, ... and he too did not
take me with him."

"Poor little fellow!" exclaimed the compassionate women, who surrounded
Ismael, caressing him and endeavouring to console him, just as affected
as he was.

"Unhappy child!" said Lambra; "what he wishes is to return to his own
country."

"Would you like to go back to your native country, my son?" asked
Teresa. "Do you wish to return to Molina?"

"My parents are not there now," answered the child in a despairing tone.
"I wish to remain with you, who are good and loving like my mother."

"Well, then, remain with us; for we will love you, as your mother did,
my son."

"How good the Christians are, how good!" exclaimed the child, not
knowing how to show his gratitude to those who were pitying and
consoling him.

"And would you like to be a Christian?" asked Teresa Nuña.

"If you are to be my mothers, I will adore the Prophet whom you adore.
My mother used to say that children should adore the God that their
mother adored; and does not the Nazarene, your Prophet, love children?"

"Yes, my son; children are the principal objects of His love: He
delighted, when He was on earth, to converse with them, He was angry
with those who ill-treated them and prevented them from going to Him,
and He leaves the gates of heaven always open for them."

"Oh, how good your Prophet is! I wish to adore the Nazarene," exclaimed
the child enthusiastically.

Teresa Nuña and Ximena then left him for a short time, feeling sure that
Lambra and Mayor would take good care of him while they were away.

Soon after Fernan came in, whilst the two women were questioning the
child respecting his country and parents, and the boy was replying to
them with visible emotion.

"By the soul of Beelzebub," exclaimed the squire, "they are simply fools
to torment this poor little chap by reminding him of the good things he
has lost, which is the saddest of remembrances. That's the way women
always understand tenderness; they kiss just as cruelly as they bite. I
will ask my mistresses, Doña Teresa and Doña Ximena, to entrust the
training of this little Moor to me; he is worth all the Moors in the
world. They will soon see how I shall make him a perfect horseman, and
also able to give lance thrusts, which will be worth a king's treasure."

The tone of Fernan was rough enough, and his words severe; but the face
and manners of the squire were stamped with such frankness and goodness
of heart, that Ismael, far from being frightened, ran to meet him, and
clasped his legs affectionately with his little arms.

"May I turn Moor," said the soft-hearted squire, "if this young chap
isn't worth all the spoils we took in the Oca mountains! Every time I
think of it, I feel more inclined to give that fool of an Alvar a good
cudgelling for finding fault with Don Rodrigo because he put this
splendid little fellow into a litter."

And Fernan took up Ismael in his herculean arms, and kissed him with
enthusiasm, saying--

"I would give you a thousand kisses, only that I am afraid of rasping
your rosy cheeks with my beard; but I will shave, and then I can kiss
you as much as I like. Are you fond of arms and horses, my boy?"

"Oh yes!" cried the child, jumping with joy. "Have you arms and a
horse?"

"Of course I have," answered the squire. "To-morrow morning we will go
to the stables, and there I will teach you to ride, and to use a lance
and sword. I swear by Beelzebub, that when you grow up, you must come to
the wars with Don Rodrigo and me, and fight like Bernardo at
Roncesvalles."

"Bring me to the stables now," said the child, "and show me your horse
and arms."

"You are very impatient, little chap. But I suppose I must humour you;
and your vivacity pleases me."

And thus speaking, Fernan took the little Moor by the hand, who was
jumping with pleasure and impatience to get to the stables.

"Don't take the child away, Fernan," said Mayor, "for if my mistresses
ask for him, they will be annoyed with Lambra and me for not having kept
him with us."

And she went to take Ismael by the hand which was free, in order to
remove him from Fernan; the squire, however, pushed her away, and
disappeared with the boy, saying--

"He will go wherever I please, and all the women in the world shall not
take him from me. By the soul of Beelzebub, that is a nice way to train
up children--keeping them always tied to women's petticoats! That's the
way hens bring up their chickens--and they become hens."

When the squire and the boy arrived at the stables, Fernan showed the
horses to Ismael, who was insisting on being put on the backs of all of
them. At last, to satisfy the child, Fernan mounted him on Overo, which
he saddled, and the animal, with a patience comparable to that of his
master, yielded to all the caprices of the child; sometimes quickening
his pace, sometimes going slowly, now turning to the right, now to the
left. They then went to the harness-room, and Fernan prepared to give
Ismael his first lesson in the use of the lance. He made him mount, in a
saddle placed on an arm-stand, put into his hand, to serve as a lance, a
stick a few feet long, made a mark on a post in front, and fastened a
strong piece of cord to the front of the arm-stand; he then gave him, as
a shield, the cover of a tin vessel used for carrying water to the
horses, through the handle of which he put his arm; when he had thus
accoutred him, he lectured him on the proper way of holding both
offensive and defensive arms. Then the good Fernan ordered him to
prepare to charge, and to keep his feet well in, so that they might not
be hurt; the boy did this, and the squire, taking hold of the cord,
dragged on, by means of it, the arm-stand and him who was mounted on it,
very quickly. The boy made his thrust too soon, and did not strike the
mark.

"I vow to Judas Iscariot," exclaimed Fernan, "that he will spoil his
best strokes by his impetuosity."

"My horse did not gallop fast enough," replied the child.

"Well, then," said Fernan, "get ready for a second charge, and take care
not to miss your aim."

"You will see, you will see how I shall hit the mark this time."

The little Moor got ready again, and Fernan pulled the cord more rapidly
than before; Ismael, however, made the thrust too soon, and went even
farther from the mark than on the first occasion.

"By the soul of Beelzebub," cried the squire, stamping fiercely on the
ground, "that would put holy Job himself out of patience. He thinks, I
suppose, that he will do better by making his thrusts too soon."

"I won't charge any more now," said the boy, more vexed by his own want
of dexterity than by the annoyance of Fernan. Then throwing away the tin
cover and the stick, he began to run back to the place from which the
squire had taken him.

"Come back, my son, come back," cried Fernan; but it was in vain, for
Ismael was already with Lambra and Mayor.

"Curses on my impatience!" exclaimed Fernan, giving himself a cuff on
the side of his head. "What else could the poor little fellow do but run
away from me, when I treated him worse than a slave?"

He then went off in search of the little Moor, and shortly afterwards
they were playing together as if both were children.

Whilst Fernan was thus amusing himself with Ismael, another scene, not
less interesting, was being performed in a large apartment, in which the
De Vivar family usually assembled. Rodrigo was relating to his parents
and to his wife the innumerable brave deeds of his soldiers at the
battle of Oca, remaining silent as to his own, for the noble cavalier
was as modest as he was valiant. He spoke also of the bravery of the
enemy, for he was so just and honourable that he could not refrain from
praising merit wherever it might be found.

"The hostile army," he said, "was numerous; but there were very many who
fought for no other cause but that of pillage, and it was those who
first turned their backs on our swords and lances. The Castilian troops
fought with great bravery; but the victory could not have been won so
soon if the enemy had had a few hundred men as brave as their leaders.
Those Moorish kings, whom I brought here as prisoners, in order that
they might do homage to my parents and to my Ximena, for you are all
worthy of it--those kings, I say, and especially Abengalvon of Molina,
fought as valiantly as the most perfect cavaliers in the world."

"Oh, how unfortunate they are, and how worthy of being well treated!"
exclaimed at the same time both Teresa and Ximena, whose souls were
always inclined to compassion.

"For that reason," said Rodrigo, "I have treated them not as wretched
captives, who are generally loaded with chains, but as kings, to whom
those who receive them in their houses allot the best apartments,
believing themselves honoured by having them under their roof; for that
reason I intend to restore them to liberty this very day, if you, my
parents, and you, Ximena, approve of my resolve."

"Yes, Rodrigo, yes," exclaimed all, with pleased accents. "Sad
captives!" added Teresa. "In their own land they have, most likely,
wives, children, or parents who weep over their absence, believing them
dead or lost to them for ever."

"My son," said old Diego, giving his trembling hand to Rodrigo, and
visibly affected, "your heart is worthy of a cavalier; not in vain was I
the author of your being, not in vain does my blood run in your veins,
not in vain are you descended from the noblest race of Castile. Oh, if
Lain Calvo, your grandfather, could raise his noble head from the
sepulchre! During my long life I have constantly laboured for the cause
of Castile--to make it greater and better--for the honour of our house,
and for the triumph of the faith; and God has amply recompensed me by
giving me a son as good as you are. My strength is failing, my breathing
is becoming difficult, my term of life is but short; but what is death
to a cavalier when he dies honoured, as I am, and when he leaves a
successor as good as you are? Restore to freedom at once those royal
captives; in the eyes of your father, and in the eyes of all that are
good, such an act of generosity will be one of your best triumphs."

Yes, Diego was right; on that day Rodrigo achieved one of his noblest
triumphs, for to him, the most affectionate of sons and the most loving
of husbands, the greatest glory was the words which he heard from his
parents and from his wife, and the pleasure which they experienced by
his act.

"Dear parents and dear Ximena," he said, as moved as they were, "let us
go now to set the captives free. If they wish to acknowledge themselves
our vassals, let them do so, but if not, they shall be equally free."

Rodrigo and his family then proceeded to the prison of the Moorish
kings. We have said to the prison, but the apartments of Abengalvon and
his companions did not deserve such a name. They were situated in the
ground floor of the building, having an entrance into beautiful gardens,
and were certainly in every respect suitable for kings. Rodrigo and his
family descended to them by a wide staircase, which placed in
communication the two habitable floors of which the building consisted,
and then requested permission of the Moors to be permitted to present
themselves to them. The royal captives came forth to meet them with
signs of respect and apprehension, and were about to prostrate
themselves before Rodrigo; but he prevented them, with kind words, which
filled the hearts of the Moslems with confidence and gratitude.

"The chances of war," he said to them, "placed your destinies in my
hands, and for that reason it is my right to dispose of you as I may
wish. Do you acknowledge that right?"

"We are your slaves," humbly answered Abengalvon, who was more
conversant than the others with the Castilian language, and who was also
the youngest of the five Moorish kings, as he was only about
five-and-twenty years of age.

"Well, then," continued Rodrigo, "you were my enemies when I conquered
you on the field of battle, but you fought with valour, and you bear the
title of kings; for these reasons I treated you all, not as slaves, but
as friends."

"Who would not be ambitious to be considered as such?" exclaimed
Abengalvon.

"My desire is to be your friend," said Rodrigo. "Know," he continued,
"that I consider myself so good a subject, that I love and revere all
who bear the name of king, and I should consider myself dishonoured if I
retained kings as prisoners, even though they are Moors, enemies of my
faith and of my country. Return, then, to your kingdoms, and be,
according as your hearts may dictate, my friends or my enemies. I comply
with what my heart, and the hearts of my parents and wife, whom you see
here, dictate to us."

"Oh, blessed Allah!" exclaimed the Moors, raising their eyes, moist with
tears, to heaven. "The prayers of our children and wives have reached
you and caused you to feel compassion for love and misfortune. We shall
sound the praises, in the midst of our families, of the noble Christian
who to-day teaches us to be generous and good."

And Abengalvon continued, addressing Rodrigo--

"No, we shall not be your enemies; we desire to become your vassals, as
such to respect you and to pay you tribute, and also to become your
friends, in order to love you. Let us kiss your hand."

"Come to my arms, if you believe me worthy of yours!" exclaimed Rodrigo,
as much moved as the Moors were.

They embraced him, weeping with joy, as did also the honoured old Diego
Lainez, Teresa, and Ximena, who were looking on the scene with much
emotion, and whose hands the Moors then kissed, manifesting that they
felt honoured by being allowed to do so.

"Mother!--Ximena!" said Rodrigo a moment after, "open the gates of their
prison for those who have been our captives, but who, from this day,
shall be our friends."

Teresa and Ximena then went to a door which gave egress to the street,
and pulled open the two wings of which it was composed.

"The gate of your prison is open to you," said Rodrigo to the Moors.
"Return to your homes, bring consolation to your wives and to your
children, and may God be with you, my friends! Outside you will find
good steeds to carry you, and squires who will accompany you as far as
the frontier, bearing my green standard, so that neither nobles nor
peasants shall dare to molest you."

"We are your vassals, and every year you shall receive tribute from us,"
said Abengalvon.

He and his companions then left the palace of De Vivar, their eyes
dimmed with tears, and blessing Rodrigo, Diego, Teresa, and Ximena with
all the fervour of which their souls were capable.



CHAPTER XXII

HOW THE BAND OF THE VENGADOR ATTACKED THE CASTLE OF CARRION


The band was advancing towards Carrion just at nightfall, in order to
make the attack on it at the hour arranged by the leaders, of which
attempt Don Suero had received notice, thanks to the treachery of
Bellido.

The Castle of Carrion was built on an eminence near the town, beside a
road, named at that period the Atalaya Road of Villasirga. Before
arriving at it there was found a very thick wood. The night was dark,
and for that reason the band could reach that wood without being seen
by the sentinels. Martin and his captains, Bellido and Rui-Venablos,
ordered a halt to be made in it, with the object of preparing for the
attack without being perceived, even though the clouds might clear away
and the moon shine forth.

The bandits, all on foot, were provided with steel hatchets, iron-shod
clubs, and pikes, with which they might force an entrance into the
castle. Martin had given orders to all not to strike down the count, Don
Suero, as he wished to reserve to himself the consummation of the
vengeance which he so ardently longed for; he wished to bury his dagger
in the heart of the murderer of his father. The band was divided into
two well-ordered companies; one was to rush on in order to force open
the postern of the castle, and whilst this operation was being carried
out, the other was to protect the attacking body, discharging their
arrows against the loopholes and battlements of the fortress, in order
that the crossbow-men who guarded them might be wounded, or, not seeing
their opponents, might shoot at random. Rui-Venablos, who always
considered the most dangerous position the best, asked permission to
lead the attacking body, and Martin went with him. Bellido, therefore,
commanded the other company.

Thus arranged, the bandits issued forth from the wood, and immediately
the cry of alarm was given in the castle, and the defenders hastened to
the combat.

Some of the bandits fell to the ground, pierced by the first arrows
discharged from the fortress, and this circumstance increased the
courage of the band. As the obscurity was very great, and as the ground
behind the castle--that is, where the postern was situated--was covered
with bushes, Bellido succeeded in separating himself from the men whom
he was commanding, and in hiding behind some shrubs, where he remained
until his companions all passed forward, discharging a cloud of arrows
against the castle. Rui-Venablos, Martin, and their company at last
succeeded in reaching the postern. This was strengthened outside with
iron plates, on which the bandits began to deal terrible blows with
their iron-covered clubs. It was not necessary to continue to do this
long, as the door soon gave way, the bolts which kept it shut having,
seemingly, been broken. Then the entire band rushed in, uttering fierce
cries of fury and wild joy. It was, however, found necessary to force
another door in order to get from the place where they were into the
interior of the castle, and that door was even stronger than the outer
one. Martin was furious when he met this new obstacle, just as he
believed the moment had come to avenge himself on the count.

"Break it, burst open the door quickly!" he roared to those who were
provided with clubs.

Those then began to discharge furious blows on the door, which did not
yield in the least, for it was also well strengthened with iron outside,
and securely fastened inside with thick bolts of the same metal.
Impatience became a torture to the heart of the Vengador, and, taking a
club from the hands of one of his men, he began to wield it with the
strength of a giant against the door. At that moment a fearful blow was
heard above the arched ceiling of the apartment in which they were, a
blow which made the entire edifice tremble, a blow so terrible that it
almost seemed as if the whole castle had crumbled down above their
heads. All the bandits uttered a cry of terror, except Martin, who
continued his assault on the door, for he only heard the voice of
vengeance, which was commanding him to execute his on Don Suero, so
terrible that he might expiate by it the innumerable crimes which he had
committed.

"Out, out! the arch is falling!" cried all the bandits, precipitating
themselves, in fearful disorder, towards the outer gate, for indeed the
roof was yielding, the stones, as we know, having been loosened under
the blow of the enormous weight which had fallen on them. At the same
moment some person outside fastened strongly the postern-gate; but just
then the second door yielded to the blows of Martin, and he, with
Rui-Venablos, and about fifty of their men, rushed into the interior of
the castle. The others tried to imitate them when they found that the
postern-gate was closed against them, but they had not time, for the
arched ceiling came down with a fearful noise, crushing the unfortunate
bandits beneath its ruins. A satanic burst of laughter resounded then in
the upper part of the castle, and a countenance, on which was depicted
savage content, appeared, to gloat over that horrible butchery, at the
hole which had been made in the upper floor, in order to suspend through
it the heavy blocks of stone which were to fall on the top of the arch
beneath.

The laughter had issued from the mouth of Don Suero, and his was the
hellish countenance.

The count and the traitor, who had aided him in his work of
extermination, did not know that several of the bandits had escaped
without injury, and that the second door had yielded and given entrance
to them. Soon, however, was this fact made known to Don Suero by the
cries and the tumult which he heard in the principal apartments; cries
and tumult which seemed to approach the chamber in which he was. Indeed,
the Vengador, Rui-Venablos, and their followers, and almost all the
armed men who guarded the castle, were fighting furiously in the
corridors which led to the rooms usually occupied by Don Suero. Then the
most abject terror took possession of the count, for he was as cowardly
as he was tyrannical, cruel, and heartless; and running to a secret
staircase, he descended into the vaults of the castle, and escaped from
them, by a private door, into the open country.

The fight between the bandits and the defenders of the castle was bloody
and obstinate. The latter, collected in one of the corridors which led
to the apartments in which the De Carrion family resided, resisted the
attack with valour equal to that of the bandits. The Vengador and
Rui-Venablos, however, filled with fury on account of the destruction of
their comrades, and of the resistance offered to them, resolved to make
a final attempt, for they must either fight their way onward or die.
They rushed, therefore, on their opponents, striking down all who barred
the way, and their companions followed their example. Many remained dead
or wounded in this bold attack; the others broke through the living wall
which their enemies opposed to them, and dashed on, like hungry lions,
to the apartments in which they expected to meet their prey. As they did
not find him there, they uttered furious maledictions, which terrified
even the soldiers who were defending the castle; they, wounded and
discouraged, had dropped their weapons, and only hoped to find safety in
flight. The bandits, having examined the apartments of the count, left
them, believing that he had sought refuge in some other room, and they
soon found one with the door locked. This was the chamber of Teresa.
They tried to open it, but as it did not yield, the Vengador dealt it a
terrible blow with his club, which caused it to fall in fragments on the
floor. A young lady, the Infanta Doña Teresa, was standing in a corner,
almost dead with terror, and before her stood Guillen, sword in hand,
ready to defend the maiden.

"Stop!" cried the page to the bandits. "Hold back, for you shall only
get near this lady when some of you have felt the edge of my sword, and
when there will be no other shield to defend my mistress but my dead
body."

Martin and Rui-Venablos halted; their companions, however, were about to
rush on Guillen, but the Vengador prevented them, saying--

"Whichever of you advances a step to injure this young man or this
maiden will fall dead at my feet; we do not desire to wreak our
vengeance on a weak woman, or on him who defends her."

At the same time a great outcry was heard from the direction of the
town. The Vengador looked through the window, which we have already
described, and by the light of the moon, from which the clouds that had
covered it had just passed away, he saw a numerous body of men
approaching the castle. At the same time he heard the voice of Don
Suero, who, seeing light in the window, was crying out--

"Defend yourselves, my crossbow-men; succour is coming."

The count had gone to seek reinforcement in the town, and his vassals
hastened to give it, for he told them that Doña Teresa's life was in
danger. More than two hundred men, of all ages, were advancing with him,
armed with the weapons that first came to hand. The bandits were worn
out with fatigue, and their number was reduced to little more than
twenty. The Vengador knew that the death of all was certain if they did
not at once leave the castle. If he had avenged his father he would have
thought little of dying, but as he had not yet done so, life was
precious to him.

"Let us escape," he cried, "or the count will succeed in killing all of
us, and our comrades shall never be avenged. Do you hear those cries?
Don Suero has managed to get out of the castle, and he is now returning
with such force that his triumph is certain. Many of our comrades, who
lie wounded in the passages through which we have come, must remain in
his power, for we have not time to succour them and bring them off with
us. They will be sacrificed by the barbarous count if we do not take
hostages. We have this maiden in our power, and Don Suero will respect
the lives of our comrades, in order that we may spare that of his
sister."

"The sister of the Count of Carrion," said Guillen, continuing in his
threatening attitude, "shall not remain exposed to your outrages whilst
I am alive."

"I swear to you that she shall be respected," replied the Vengador, "but
I must take measures to save the lives of my comrades. Sheath your
sword, and come with her and with us, for if you seek to defend your
mistress here you must die, and she will have no one by her side to see
that the promise I make you will be kept."

Guillen felt that it was best to follow the advice of the leader of the
bandits; he felt that it was necessary that Teresa should have someone
by her to assist her if her strength failed, to console her when she
wept, to guard her whilst she slept, to protect her if her honour was
threatened. He therefore sheathed the sword which he had drawn to defend
her, and, sustaining the feeble footsteps of his mistress, he went off
with the bandits.

They all left the castle and penetrated into the adjacent wood, just as
Don Suero and his vassals entered the fortress, which had been the
theatre of such sanguinary scenes. They walked on for some hours by
rough and deserted paths, for the bandits, now too few in number to face
the Salvadores, feared to meet them. At last they halted in the thicket,
which but a few hours before the band had left, full of strength, hope,
and valour. During that fatiguing journey the strength of the unhappy
Teresa had failed entirely several times, and Guillen was obliged to
carry her for considerable distances in his arms, his love giving him
force to bear that precious burden, in truth not so heavy as would have
been almost any other woman, for Teresa was worn away by sadness and
grief.

There still remained there the tents and the other things, which had
been left to the care of a few of the bandits who had not been able to
go with the others. The Vengador allotted one of those tents to the sole
use of Teresa and the brave youth who accompanied her, and he and his
comrades lay down in the others, half-dead with fatigue and
discouragement, first having placed sentinels in the best positions for
such, as they feared that Don Suero's men might have followed their
tracks.

All the bandits were soon in a heavy sleep, except Martin and
Rui-Venablos, on whom fatigue and grief seemed to have had an effect
quite different from that which they exercised on their companions.

"Ah, poor Bellido!" said the former, "he must have found his tomb in the
Castle of Carrion. We were fools not to have followed his example; we
desired to act as cavaliers, forgetting that we were only bandits, and
that we had to do with one of the most depraved and pitiless wretches
that was ever born of woman. It is we who should have found our deaths
in the castle, and not our loyal and brave comrades who have been the
innocent victims of our stupidity. What have we to do now? Only to
lament over our error, and the mishap of our companions."

"Anger of God!" exclaimed Rui-Venablos, irritated at the discouragement
of Martin. "Does the Vengador become faint-hearted, and does he shed
cowardly tears just when the moment has arrived to work with more
firmness, with more bravery, and with less pity than ever? Can you
avenge our comrades with tears, which suit women well enough, but which
are quite out of place in a man; by killing the count I have to avenge
our comrades, and something more"--

"I have to avenge our comrades, and something more also, by reducing to
ashes the Castle of Carrion and plunging my dagger into the heart of the
count," said Martin, excited by the words of Rui-Venablos.

"Thus do I like to see my chief!" exclaimed Rui, filled with savage joy.

"Do not call me by that name," said Martin, clasping the hand of his
companion. "Call me brother, for from this day we shall begin to
reorganise the band, and it shall have two chiefs. To prove to you how
burning is the vengeance which consumes me, and how great is my
friendship for you, I will confide a secret to you. Know, then, that I
did not join the band of the Raposo in order to exercise the calling of
a bandit, and that I did not continue such a life or take the name of
the Vengador in order to avenge those who were slaughtered with the
Raposo, but to avenge my father, who was vilely assassinated by the
count."

Martin then related to Rui-Venablos all that had happened as they were
returning from the pilgrimage, when Beatrice was carried off, adding--

"I have kept this secret from our comrades, in order that they might not
mistrust me, knowing that I was working for an object different from
theirs, and that I was only desirous of avenging an offence solely
connected with myself."

"For the same reason," said Rui-Venablos joyously, "I have concealed the
true cause of my rancour against Don Suero. You must know, brother, that
I also did not embrace the life of a bandit through affection for it,
for I always held a more honourable position. I have been a soldier
since the down was on my lip, and I have always fought in defence of
the faith, of my native land, and of the oppressed; and have never
entered into the pay of any but honourable gentlemen. Being in the
service of Don Ordoño de Lara, an unfortunate old man, quite blind, came
to me one day and said, 'For a long time I have sought a man of kindly
heart and with a strong arm, who might feel compassion for and avenge a
wretched father, whom the Count of Carrion has deprived of his sight and
of his honour.' He then related to me, with tears capable of softening
stones, how Don Suero had carried off from him a daughter, who was his
sole happiness in this world, depriving him at the same time of his
eyesight, in order that he might not be able to find her or avenge so
horrible a crime.

"'I have been told,' he added, 'that your aid has never been asked for
in vain by those oppressed by the powerful, and therefore I come to you
full of confidence.'

"His words moved me; I pitied his grief and his misfortunes; I was
indignant at the baseness and cruelty of the count, whom I already
regarded as an enemy, on account of other acts of a similar kind which
had been related to me, and I swore solemnly to the poor blind man to
avenge his wrongs. He then departed, full of satisfaction and of hope,
to seek his daily sustenance through the country by singing to the
accompaniment of his lute. When he had gone, I thought over the best
means of keeping my promise to him; I knew that it would avail nothing
to challenge Don Suero, as he would treat such a proceeding with
contempt, the challenger being a poor and obscure soldier, and he one of
the most powerful grandees of Castile and Leon. Should I seek to
encounter him unexpectedly in some lonely place and force him to fight
with me? That also would be unavailing, as Don Suero is always
accompanied by armed men to defend him, and my death would have been but
a useless sacrifice. Allies were necessary to me in order to attack the
Castle of Carrion, and put the count to death, and as, just then, I
heard your band talked of, it seemed to me that it would be the best
instrument for the revenge I longed for; I therefore went to seek you,
and I succeeded in gaining your confidence."

"Brother," said Martin, rejoiced at being able to call by such a name a
man who was actuated by feelings identical with his own, and who would
not have embraced the life of a bandit merely to live by plunder,
"similar sentiments animate us; the goal for which we are striving is
the same; our strength and courage are equal, wherewith to confront the
difficulties which we may find in our way. Perhaps Bellido would have
brought the same ambition to the band if he had been inspired by some
noble sentiment."

"Comrade," said Rui-Venablos, "you are exceedingly simple, and by no
means a good observer, if you imagine that any kind of noble sentiments
are to be found in Bellido. He is dead, and it is just as well that he
is. I do not like to speak badly of the dead, but nevertheless I say
that he was very far from being an honourable man. Did you never observe
his cruelty whenever we made an assault on a castle? Our attacks were
always directed against tyrannical and evil-living grandees; was there
not a vast difference between the way in which you and I treated the
conquered, and the way in which Bellido treated them?"

"You are right, brother," replied Martin; "Bellido is dead, and there is
another person, who is in great grief here near us, who is much more
deserving of our compassion. I speak to you of Doña Teresa, of that
unfortunate young lady, whom we have taken with us as a hostage. Her
brother and she have always occupied the reversed positions of St.
Michael and the devil: the devil held the angel beneath his feet. Yes,
the angel, for she is as good and pure as the angels in heaven. That
brave and faithful youth, who would not abandon her, will watch over
her; but we also must guard her; yes, we must take good care of the
innocent dove which has been snatched from the talons of the hawk, and
who, nevertheless, weeps because she has been saved from them. Many of
our comrades are lying in Carrion, covered with wounds, and it was but
just that we should endeavour to save their lives, for the facts of
their having been wounded and having shared our dangers are sufficient
to make us pity them. We have threatened the count that we will take the
life of his sister if he does not spare our comrades and give them their
liberty, but if he is barbarous enough to sacrifice them--even in that
case Doña Teresa shall return uninjured to Carrion."

"That is the very advice I intended to give you," said Rui-Venablos. "If
all men were as generous and good as you are, the world would not be as
it is. In what way, indeed, can that poor girl be responsible for the
crimes of her brother? In the world, and especially in war, the just
have often to suffer on account of sinners, but we must not be guided by
so cruel a law. Certainly, the bandit, when he requires food, must take
the bread of his neighbour, but there are plenty of neighbours who well
deserve to die of hunger. We shall take the bread from them and leave it
with good people."

"Yes," answered Martin, "and in that way, even though we are called by
the name of bandits, our consciences will give us another name; our
consciences will tell us that, when we were forced to choose between two
bad roads, we took the better one."

"Do you think, brother, that it is prudent to remain here? We are too
near Carrion, and Don Suero will endeavour to take advantage of our
weakness."

"We must only keep on the alert, and not change our encampment for a
safer one until those return who remained alive in the castle."

The day was beginning to dawn. Martin and Rui-Venablos knew that it was
necessary to recruit their strength, worn out by fatigue and the
emotions of that sanguinary night; they therefore stretched themselves
on the ground, taking care that their weapons were within reach. A few
minutes after they were sleeping soundly, and the silence which reigned
in the camp of the bandits was only interrupted by a few words, mingled
with sobs, which were heard from time to time in the tent occupied by
Teresa and Guillen.



CHAPTER XXIII

IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT COLD AND LOVE ARE NOT INCOMPATIBLE


The following night had arrived, and was somewhat advanced when the
bandits retired to sleep. The much diminished band of the Vengador
remained in the same encampment, and Teresa and the page in the same
tent.

The night was dark and cold, for it had rained during the evening, and
to the rain had succeeded a thick fog, with which the day had ended.
Teresa and Guillen were sitting near some badly-burning pieces of wood,
the heat of which could not warm the page, for it was deadened by the
dampness of the ground, and by the fog, which penetrated the canvas of
the tent, almost like an icy fluid.

Teresa was shivering with cold, and a deadly pallor overspread her face;
but a pink circle extended around her sweet eyes, a sign that the
unhappy girl had been weeping. Tears also had come to the eyes of the
youth, although he had done his best to keep them in. Who would formerly
have said that the page, so manly, so brave, so joyous, would one day
mingle his tears with those of a weak girl? What an affecting sight was
that of the poor maiden, with a body so frail and delicate, accustomed
to all the comforts of a castle, almost dying of cold and mental
prostration, seated on an icy stone, with her feet resting on the wet
earth, her clothes saturated with moisture, and with scarce strength
enough to approach her hands to the partially extinguished fire; and
then that kind-hearted youth, with the robust body, with the brave soul,
accustomed to arms, and to manly exercises, trying to cheer her with his
words, and cover her with his clothes, timidly warming the hands of the
maiden between his own, reviving the fire which was going out, and,
after all, his eyes filled with tears, feeling that all his tenderness,
all his love, all his efforts, were unavailing to bring comfort to that
delicate girl.

"You are very cold, is it not so?" asked Guillen, with all the
tenderness, anxiety, and love with which a father could question a dying
daughter. "Oh! to see you dying of cold--I who would wish to see you
seated on a throne! Are you very cold?"

"Yes, Guillen," answered the girl, shivering, "I am very cold."

The page, who had already covered Teresa with his mantle, took off a
kind of jacket which he wore, and was about to put it also on her.

"No, no!" exclaimed Teresa, "I will not take your jacket; you will die
of cold."

"Have no fear for me," said the page, endeavouring to smile pleasantly,
"for I am strong, and accustomed to hardships. If I should feel cold, I
will put it on again as soon as it has warmed you a little."

Teresa let him cover her with the jacket.

Guillen then considered how he could best keep up the fire. But how
could he do it? He did not know what was to be done, but he felt that
something must be done, one way or another, for the life of Teresa
depended on the fire being kept burning, and his own life also, for he
neither hoped nor desired to live if his lady died.

"I am going in search of wood; wait but a few moments," he said to her,
and he went out of the tent, walking with difficulty, for the cold was
paralysing his limbs. He had advanced a few steps, not knowing in what
direction he was going, when his foot struck against a solid body, not
hard enough to be either a stone or a block of wood. He examined it with
his fingers, and found that it was a saddle; with it he returned,
exceedingly rejoiced, to the tent.

"Cheer up, lady," he said on entering; "for I have brought something
with me that will make a fire warm enough to put heat into a dead man."

"Oh, how kind you are, Guillen! You always come in time to save me,"
exclaimed Teresa, with a weak and rather startled voice,--the page,
however, did not notice the latter.

He then broke the saddle in pieces; the leather with which it was
covered had prevented the rain from reaching the straw and the wood of
the framework. Thanks to the former, Guillen was able to light a good
fire, even though he had to be economical with the fuel, for it was not
plentiful, and the night would be long.

The heat of the fire soon warmed Teresa, and a slight smile began to
appear on her lips, which Guillen looked on as the return of life. If
the joy that shone in the dark, full eyes of the page could have been
seen, one would have believed that these moments were the happiest of
his life.

"Ah!" said Teresa, trying to smile, "if you but knew the terror I was
in, during the few minutes you were away from the tent in search of
wood."

"In terror--of whom, lady?"

"When you went this evening to the tent of the Vengador a bandit
approached ours, gazed on me with much attention, and then went away,
uttering some words, the meaning of which I did not catch. Then, a
moment before your return with the fuel, I thought I saw again the face
of the same man over there, at the entrance of the tent; I was about to
cry out, but I heard your footsteps, and the face of the bandit
disappeared."

"Have no fear, lady," said the page in a pleasant voice, "for the
Vengador promised me that he would hang up on a tree the first who tried
to injure us, and besides, I have a sword with which I would strike
dead anyone who dared to attempt such a thing. Be tranquil, lean
against--But there is nothing here on which you can rest your head,"
exclaimed Guillen in a sad tone; and then he added, timid and
stammering, "Pardon me, lady--if you like--lean your head on my
shoulder."

"Thanks, Guillen," replied Teresa in a pleased tone of voice; "I do not
feel sleepy as yet, but when I do, I will rest myself in the way you
propose."

The page raised his hand to his eyes to brush away a tear, and was near
throwing himself on his knees before the young lady to thank her for the
happiness she promised him.

At the same moment a rough hand quickly raised the piece of canvas which
covered the entrance of the tent, and a bandit, with a ferocious
countenance and brutal manner, entered. Teresa uttered a cry of terror,
for she recognised the face, which she had seen twice before. Guillen
seized the sword which lay unsheathed by his side, and asked the bandit
threateningly:--

"What do you seek here?"

"Do you know, my gentle youth, that you are by no means courteous to
those who try to serve you?" answered the bandit very calmly, and with
an ironical smile.

"Go out of this tent at once," said the page to him.

"I have come to spend in it the remainder of the night."

"God's anger! Speak, for what are you come?"

"To relieve guard," replied the bandit, with his sinister smile.

"I do not understand you."

"It is a very simple matter, my gentle youth; as you have acted the
sentinel so long a time to this maiden, or whatever she is, I thought
that you must be fatigued, and I have come to relieve you for an hour or
so."

"Be off, ruffian! be off at once, if you wish to leave the tent alive!"
exclaimed Guillen, preparing to make use of his sword; but the bandit
replied, still in the same calm tone--

"I shall not do so, my gentle youth, for it pleases me to act as guard
over ladies, even though they may be thin and pale, like her who is
listening to us. You will see how the colour will have returned to her
face by the time you return."

"Treacherous ruffian!" cried Guillen, and he made a thrust of his sword
at the bandit, not being able to restrain his indignation; but the
fellow stepped rapidly back, and avoided the stroke, then drawing his
dagger, he continued, with agile leaps, to avoid the sword strokes which
Guillen aimed at him, until, taking advantage of a false move which
Guillen made, caused by the dampness of the ground, he rushed on the
page, and succeeded in wounding him in the hand which held the sword.
Teresa uttered a piercing and dolorous cry on seeing Guillen wounded by
the bandit; but the page, far from losing his courage on feeling the
point of the dagger in his hand, rushed violently on his opponent, and
reached him twice with his sword, wounding him slightly. A furious fight
was just commencing, when the Vengador and Rui-Venablos suddenly entered
the tent; the former seized the bandit by the neck with the strength of
a giant, and threw him out of the tent, saying--

"Traitor, you shall atone for your villainy with your life. Do you
imagine that this youth alone guarded the lady?"

The page then approached the young girl.

"You are wounded, Guillen!" she exclaimed, as soon as her terror allowed
her to open her lips.

"It is nothing, lady," replied the page, trying to conceal his hand; "it
is but a slight scratch, which I scarcely feel."

"No, no, Guillen; you must let me bind it with my handkerchief. Oh, my
life would be but a small thing with which to repay your sacrifices for
me!"

Then Teresa took hold of his arm and forced him to let her bind the
hand, which she did with her handkerchief, which was wet with her tears.

The page blessed, in the depths of his heart, the dagger of the bandit,
which was the cause of his receiving such care from Teresa, whose eyes
were shedding tears for him, for the humble servitor, whose blood no
other mistress but Teresa would have considered of any value.

"Guillen, Guillen, for how many sacrifices am I not your debtor! how
good, how generous you are!" exclaimed the noble girl, raising her mild,
moist eyes to the youth, with such an expression of gratitude and love,
that the page was overcome with joy, and, not without much difficulty,
he murmured--

"You owe me nothing, lady; my life is worth less than the least of the
kindnesses which you have shown me."

"See, Guillen," interrupted Teresa, with an affectionate, almost
childlike tone of voice, "you must not call me lady, for--I know not
why--but I do not wish you to call me by that name. How am I to be your
lady, when you are my sole protector, my saviour, my angel guardian? I
cannot explain it, Guillen, but I feel an immense void in my heart
whenever you call me by that name. For a long time I have recognised in
you, not a servant, but a loyal and loving friend, and now even the name
of friend seems to me cold and ungracious. If the word 'brother' did not
make me tremble, if it were not so odious to me, I would call you by
that name, Guillen, for it would express the feelings which your
affection, your unselfishness, and your protection inspire in me. Ah,
Guillen! do not call me your lady, call me simply Teresa."

The page knelt down before her, overcome by gratitude, by joy, and by
love.

"Well, then," he said, "I will call you Teresa, I will call you the
holiest and the kindest of women! I also find it necessary to call you
by a name which expresses the feelings of a heart full of gratitude, of
happiness, and of"--

The page stopped suddenly, for the word "love" was about to escape his
lips, and who was he, to make a declaration of love to her, the noble
heiress of the countship of Carrion? A poor page had little claims on
the love of one of the noblest ladies of Castile and Leon, simply for
having amused her a short time, now and then, with his conversation in
the Castle of Carrion; for having accompanied her to the camp of the
bandits, when she was carried off by them; for having spent
four-and-twenty hours in that tent near her, without even having had the
consolation of being able to protect her from the rain and the cold; and
for having shed a few drops of blood in her defence. If such services
deserved a recompense, were they not amply rewarded by the kindness of
Teresa, who had carried that so far as to permit the humble page, the
son of a poor peasant, to treat her as her equal?

These considerations sealed the lips of Guillen, in order that he might
not reveal the intense love which burned in his heart.

"Teresa," he said, after a moment of silence, desirous of changing the
subject of their conversation in order to conceal his feelings, "it is
now late, and you have need of sleep, even for an hour or so; who knows
but that we shall have to pass all to-morrow in travelling to the
mountains of Oca?"

"You are right, Guillen," she replied; "but you think only of me, and
not at all of yourself. Have you not also need of rest?"

"I shall sleep at the same time as you, for we need now have no
anxiety; you know that the leaders of the bandits watch over us," said
the page, sitting down beside the girl, so that she might rest her head
on his shoulder, as had been arranged between them.

Teresa understood the intention of the page, and leant her head on his
shoulder.

What Guillen felt at that moment may be understood, but it is difficult
to explain it; it is not necessary, however, to do so. We can comprehend
it if we identify ourselves with him, in his love and in his situation;
we can comprehend it if we have not souls of ice and hearts of stone; we
can understand it, best of all, if we have kept concealed for a long
time in our breasts a love, as pure as it was ardent, equally distant
from triumph and from despair.

Almost at once a deep and calm sleep fell upon Teresa, for pure
consciences and innocent souls find in the peace of their night's sleep
compensation for the cares and troubles of the day.

Whilst Teresa slept, leaning her head on his shoulder, the page would
not have exchanged his happiness for that of the most powerful of the
Castilian counts; for that of Rodrigo Diaz; for the crown of Don
Fernando. To feel on his shoulder the head of the maiden, to breathe her
breath, to be able to put his lips timidly on her hair, to feel the
beatings of her heart! Oh! the empire of the world would have been but a
small happiness for Guillen, compared with that which he experienced
during that short space of time.

The fire had nearly gone out, as the page had not been able to feed it,
fearful of awakening Teresa by making the slightest movement. The chill
of the morning, which was approaching, at last aroused her. She,
believing that Guillen was asleep, removed her head very gently from his
shoulder, but, seeing that he was awake, said--

"O, Guillen, how peacefully I slept resting on you! I dreamed that this
tent was the cabin of the labourer, which you pictured to me a few
evenings ago, and that I was not the Infanta of Carrion, but a poor and
simple country girl."

"Ah! would to God that you were!" cried Guillen, full of enthusiasm and
scarce knowing what he said.

"But I remember that it is only a very short time since you said you
would like to see me on a throne," responded Teresa, with an
affectionate and pleasant smile.

"Oh, pardon me, lady--pardon me, Teresa, if my natural rudeness has
made me say a stupid thing," said Guillen. "I only meant, that perchance
you would be more happy if that dream were a reality,--and I also would
be more happy if such were the case," he timidly added.

The love of the page was so great that his heart was scarcely large
enough to contain it. The life which Teresa had reminded him of, that
life, rich with peace and with love, which he himself had
sketched--sketched only, for although he conceived it in all its beauty,
he had not skill enough to paint it in its completeness; that life, we
repeat, presented itself to his eyes, and the enamoured youth had not
the power to conceal his love any longer.

"And why, Guillen," asked Teresa, "why would you be more happy if I were
a poor peasant girl?"

"Because then I could always call you Teresa, and would be at liberty to
love you as no man ever loved in the world," replied the page
enthusiastically.

"Guillen!" said the Infanta in a voice trembling with joy and emotion,
whilst a glow of colour overspread her pale cheeks, and her blue eyes
shone with unusual brilliancy, "Guillen! I have already told you, that
for you I shall be only Teresa."

"My God!" exclaimed the page, falling on his knees before her, and
raising his eyes, moist with tears. "I am the happiest of men!"

He then added, looking up to her--

"Well, then, I will love Teresa now, whilst I am but a poor peasant, and
the Infanta of Carrion, when I shall be worthy of her."

"And why should you not love her now, Guillen? Is it a crime for a man
of humble birth to love the daughter of a count?"

"It is not so in the sight of God, but it is so in the eyes of men,
Teresa," he answered.

"Well, then, let us do what God does not find fault with, and let us
treat with contempt the injustice and the false laws of men. I, weak and
cowardly until now, shall be strong and courageous enough to resist all
the efforts of him who should be my protector, but who is my
executioner."

"Oh, what happiness can be compared with mine!" exclaimed Guillen, wild,
mad, with joy. "I also, weak, and timid, and humble until to-day,
consider myself strong and daring, and almost touching the clouds with
my brow. Teresa, you are my good angel; you fill my soul with noble
ambitions, you urge me on to all that is good and exalting."

"Guillen, I am no longer an unhappy woman; when I despaired of meeting
noble hearts in the world, I found one in you, and loved it as the
captive loves the hand that breaks his chains."

The light of day was penetrating into the tent, the morning was very
cold, and the fire all but extinguished for want of fuel. Guillen went
forth from the tent, almost weeping with gladness, and walked towards
some trees which were near it. When he got to them he raised his eyes to
the branches of an oak, and saw hanging from one of them the corpse of
the bandit who, a few hours before, had wounded his hand.



CHAPTER XXIV

HOW TWO WOMEN DISCUSSED THE MAKING OF THEIR FORTUNES--HOW TWO CHILDREN
DIVERTED THEMSELVES--AND HOW TWO MEN PLOTTED TREASON


It would be difficult to describe the feelings of Don Suero, and his
rage, when he learned, on entering the castle with reinforcements, which
he considered quite sufficient to destroy the bandits,--as he believed
that but few were left alive after the falling of the arched roof,--that
they had fled, carrying Teresa away with them. When he received this
news regarding his sister, he at once thought of Sancha, and anxiously
asked what had become of her. His retainers were not able to give him
this information, as the confusion and terror, which reigned in the
castle when the bandits abandoned it, had not permitted them to see
whether they had carried off any others with the Infanta. He ran at
once, filled with fear and uneasiness, to the chamber which Sancha
occupied in the lower floor of the castle. The door was locked. Don
Suero threw himself violently against it, and as it did not yield, he
cried out--

"Sancha, Sancha! open the door; the bandits have fled."

Don Suero heard bolts drawn and articles of furniture pulled away, which
evidently had been placed there to strengthen the door. It was then
partially opened. Sancha stood there, trembling, and pale as a corpse.
The count uttered a cry of joy on seeing her, and the girl threw herself
into his arms, murmuring with difficulty--

"O my lord, can I believe my eyes? Is it indeed true that your life has
not been taken by the daggers of the robbers; that a life more precious
to me than my own has been preserved for me? During the fierce combat
which has just taken place, I put my ear to the keyhole to try to hear
your voice. I heard it at first, but then it ceased. I believed you were
dead, and I searched for a knife or some other weapon with which to
pierce my heart and breathe my last at the same time as you; but I could
find nothing; I had no means of ending my life. The cries of 'Fire! the
castle is on fire!' came at that moment to my ears, and I felt quite
sure that the Castle of Carrion was about being reduced to ashes. I then
bolted this door and heaped up the furniture against it, in order that
no one could enter to save me from the flames, so that my ashes might be
mingled with yours."

Sancha had in reality fastened and barricaded her door in order to
protect herself against the fury of the bandits, and terror had changed
her appearance; but she had learned to take advantage of all the
different chances of life, and as an excellent opportunity presented
itself of adorning herself with a fresh claim to the love of Don Suero,
she profited by it. She felt fully persuaded that the count loved her,
and as, from the first day she entered the Castle of Carrion, she had
had numerous opportunities of studying lovers' ways, she knew that they
are credulous in proportion to the love that dominates and blinds them.

"The count," she had said to herself, "will believe me madly in love
with him, if I let him see that, without him, I look upon life as of no
value."

And Sancha had not deceived herself, for Don Suero interrupted her,
clasping her to his breast, and exclaiming in passionate accents--

"Sancha! my own Sancha! How stupid I have often been, doubting of your
love! I will be your slave as long as I live, and if death should snatch
you from my side--then Sancha, I shall cease to live also."

The girl abandoned the respectful tone and manners with which she had
received the count, hanging from his neck and making use of her most
winning caresses.

"O my love, my sweet charmer, my deity, my all! Should a day come when
you would thrust me from your arms, cast me from your heart,--then
plunge your dagger in my breast, and my death will not be so full of
anguish."

"Throw you from my arms? Cast you from my heart? Never, Sancha, never!
Bonds unite us which not even death can break."

"Ah!" exclaimed the young woman in a sad tone of voice, and as if
suddenly all strength had left the arms which had clasped the neck of
Don Suero, she let them fall down, as if she were overcome with fear.
"The bonds of love unite us, it is true, and they are the only ones
which establish the union between man and woman in private life; but can
one always live shut up in a castle, or in a miserable cabin? What men
and women are there who do not sometimes appear in public? To the eyes
of the vulgar it is only permitted to them to present themselves in it
with one name--with that of husband and wife. There will be tournaments
and other festivals to which you must go; you will have to be present at
the Court and assist at its entertainments. Will you have me then at
your side, and will I be able to satisfy that desire, that imperious
necessity, of hearing constantly your voice, and of warming myself in
the fire of your eyes?"

Don Suero was fascinated by his love and by the words of that cunning
and ambitious peasant girl; not so much, however, as to suddenly abandon
his aristocratic feelings and his pride of birth. For Don Suero,
although one of the vilest of men, believed himself to be one of the
noblest cavaliers of Spain, not considering that nobility of birth is
valueless when nobleness of heart is absent. Who was Sancha, that the
Count of Carrion could bestow his hand on her? The count asked himself
that question before replying to that of Sancha, and thus, doubtless, he
answered it: "She is an obscure peasant girl; she is the daughter of a
labourer, who has been well cudgelled more than once by not only
grandees like me, but by miserable, beggarly hidalgos; she is the pupil
of Mari-Perez; she is a woman whom I love only for her beauty." Yes, in
that way the count must have answered himself, for he replied to Sancha,
with marked disdain--

"You hold the love of the noble Count of Carrion of so little value that
you ambition still more? Do you not consider yourself sufficiently
honoured and happy with him as you are? Sancha, if you desire that my
love should not change into hatred, if you desire to be the mistress of
my riches and of my heart, if you desire, as you say, never to leave my
side, be content to remain as you now are."

"My ambition is satisfied with being as I am," answered the girl; and
she added, again throwing her arms round the neck of the count, "Pardon
me, my sweet love, for my affection caused me to forget for the moment
my humble extraction and the honour which I owe to you. I asked of
public opinion what bonds were those which guaranteed to a woman the
fidelity of a man, and I was told that they were those of marriage. My
mind was confused by the joy of seeing you uninjured at my side, and I
was guided by the views of ordinary people."

The count was calmed down by this apology. Sancha had learned much at
the side of Mari-Perez, and felt that she could not then persist in
urging her ambitious longings. The first step had been taken; there was
time enough to continue the journey, and she would await an opportune
time to do so. Cunning and perseverance were necessary, for she was
playing for a very valuable stake--that of becoming Countess of Carrion.

The next day an old woman in ragged garments approached the castle. Her
face was bandaged, as if it were wounded, and she leaned on a staff,
asking charity from the passers-by. "That old woman," narrates the
"Chronicle," "stopped under the window of the girl's room, and, weeping
bitterly, asked for alms in the names of God and of the Holy Virgin; and
when the girl heard her she went to the window, and they spoke for some
time in secret." We, however, are more fully informed than the writer of
these lines, and know what they were talking about.

The girl, indeed, went to the window, as soon as she heard the voice of
the old woman, and said to her in a low voice--

"The count is mad in love with me."

"That is all right, my daughter," replied the old woman joyfully; "if he
loves you, and if you profit by my lessons, we shall succeed in what we
desire, and shall not have to live by amusing hidalgos, who must be
flattered and made much of for their good looks. O my daughter, I was
very uneasy respecting what took place last night in the castle, until I
was informed in the town that the bandits only carried off the Infanta."

"Go away, mother Mari-Perez, for if the count should recognise you and
see you speaking to me, we might, perchance, lose all we gained up to
the present."

"I will do so, daughter," said Mari-Perez, for we now know that it was
she. "Please God, when I see you again you will be the wife of Don
Suero."

"I hope so, mother."

And the old woman walked off from the castle, commending to God and all
the saints the lady, from whom people thought she had received bounteous
alms.

Let us now return to Don Suero. The reader can calculate how enamoured
he was of Sancha, having seen him occupied with her for some minutes,
just at a time that was the least suitable for love affairs. It is not
easy to guess how long he would have remained by the side of the peasant
girl, if his nephews, Diego and Fernando, had not arrived on the scene.

The two boys were looking for him in the vicinity of Sancha's chamber,
calling out his name in loud voices. Don Suero heard them, and went out
at once to meet them.

"O uncle," cried out Diego, on seeing him, "what a lot of dead men there
are down below and in the passages! If you only knew how afraid we were
when we heard the awful uproar throughout the castle! Fernando and I
were in bed, and when some men came into our room we pretended to be
asleep. Tell us, is it true that they have taken off our aunt?"

"Yes, my children," answered Don Suero, as he liked the boys very much,
chiefly because he had noticed their evil dispositions.

"I am glad of it," said Fernando, "for she was always scolding us
because we did not say our prayers, and because we stuck pins in the
dogs and cats, and cut off the hens' feet, to see how they would walk
lame."

Don Suero almost repented of his work, that is to say, of the bad
education which he had given to his nephews, when he heard them speak in
such a way of his sister, for he loved Teresa, although his affection
was of that barbarous and tyrannical nature which tortures while it
caresses.

"Be silent, and do not speak badly of your aunt," said the count; "go
back to your beds."

"We want to see first the dead and the wounded men," replied Diego. "If
you were only to see all the blood that is coming from their wounds, and
the gestures they are making."

"And I want to see them too," said Fernando.

Don Suero did not hear these cruel words of the children, for he had
hurriedly walked off towards the corridors where the fight had been the
hottest.

His vassals, the peasants who had come with him, were busy in aiding the
wounded of both sides.

"God's anger! what are you doing, fellows?" exclaimed the count, seeing
that his vassals were attending to the wounded bandits. "Kill all those
that belonged to that cursed band; let that be your first care."

"My lord, do you know what you order?" was said to him from all sides.
"The Vengador has sent to tell us that the Infanta Doña Teresa is held
as a hostage for the lives and liberty of all those of his band who are
here, and that Guillen, who would not leave your sister, will also
answer for them with his life."

"Oh!" exclaimed Don Suero, almost howling with rage, and stamping on the
ground, "why does not the ground open and swallow up the castle and all
in it? The bandits shall die, even though my sister dies also! My
sister--poor Teresa! No, no, care for them and bind their wounds, let
none of them die, for those ruffians--may God confound them!--would kill
my sister without pity."

The count then took precautions for the proper guarding of the entrances
into the castle, and sent off his vassals, except a few whom he retained
to keep watch on the ramparts with the few crossbow-men who were still
alive and uninjured after the fight.

When the townspeople left the castle, Bellido Dolfos entered it, and
proceeded to the apartment of the count, who was preparing to take some
rest. He was covered with blood, which was dropping from a wound in the
front part of his head; his face was pallid and disfigured, his voice
was feeble, and his legs bent under him at every step.

Bellido considered that he had a just right to treat Don Suero with
familiarity, considering the services he had rendered him, and the
pitiful condition in which he now was on account of those services; he
therefore entered the chamber without any previous intimation, and
before he was perceived he threw himself down on an arm-chair. It
creaked with the weight of Bellido, and Don Suero then turned round, and
seeing a wounded man whom he did not recognise, doubtless by reason of
the blood which covered his countenance, he stepped backwards and
exclaimed--

"May Lucifer confound anyone who dares to enter my chamber! Get out of
this at once, fellow, whether you belong to my men, or to the band of
the accursed Vengador! It was enough for me to give orders that the
wounded should be cared for, without having to attend to them myself."

"Don't you know me, count?" said Bellido in a weak voice. "Don't you
recognise your faithful servant, Bellido Dolfos?"

"Bellido!" exclaimed Don Suero, approaching the traitor quickly. "You
are wounded, you are losing your blood. How did you get into such a
state, tell me,--but no, it is necessary first to staunch your wounds."

The count summoned his domestics, and at once sent for one of the
townsmen who practised the art of surgery, and who then happened to be
in the castle, lending his aid to the wounded. A moment afterwards he
arrived and bound up the wounds.

Bellido, whose wounds were not dangerous, according to the opinion of
him who had attended to them, felt himself much relieved, and he and the
count remained alone in the room.

"I was very uneasy regarding you, as I knew nothing as to what happened
to you," said Don Suero. "I feared that some misfortune had come upon
you."

"What troubles me most," replied Bellido, "is that the Vengador and
Rui-Venablos have escaped from the trap we set for them, and even got
away, carrying prisoners with them."

"Now, leaving that for the present, tell me how you received those
wounds, and where you were from the time the attack commenced until you
came here."

"I shall tell you all in a few words, for my head is not in a condition
for much talking. I swear to you that I will go out of my mind
altogether, or else exterminate the Vengador and his band. However,
learn now how I received this cursed wound. The entire band entered by
the postern, and I remained outside, having taken advantage of the
darkness, of the tumult, and of the bushes which surround that part of
the castle. When all were within, I approached the door, shut it, and
fastened it as well as I could, taking advantage of the nails with large
protruding heads, which are on its exterior, for the purpose of
resisting blows from outside. When the arch began to bulge down just
before falling, many of the bandits made a rush to the door, trying to
escape through it; I did my utmost to keep it shut, using all my
strength, but, notwithstanding, the bandits pushed it forward against
me; suddenly the arch fell in, and doubtless the block of stone, which
had occasioned its fall, rolled towards the postern, and, striking
violently against it, dashed it outwards, and I received such a blow on
my head that I was thrown several feet away on the ground, deprived of
my senses; and know not how the nails did not split my head open. When I
regained consciousness, I found myself covered with blood and in very
great pain; I tried to rise, but I fell again on the ground, and
remained there for a long time, until, making a fresh effort, I was able
to come here, having heard the bandits depart, and the townsmen return
to their homes, talking together as they went."

"You shall be well rewarded for all you have suffered in serving me,"
said Don Suero, holding out his hand to Bellido. "I promised you three
hundred gold marks if the Vengador and his band were destroyed, and I
shall pay you the full amount. If they were not all killed by the
falling of the arched roof, it was my fault, and not yours. But, as you
know more of the constitution of the band than I do, think you that the
Vengador will be able to get together again a band such as that which he
has now lost?"

"I swear to you that he will not be able to do so, nor even keep with
him the men that he now has," answered Bellido, in so confident a tone
of voice that the count was agreeably surprised.

"And who will conquer him, when the brotherhood of the Salvadores, in
whom all the grandees of the country have such confidence, has not
succeeded, and probably will never succeed, in suppressing the bandits?"

"I alone."

"You?"

"Yes. Do you think that Bellido Dolfos will be discouraged because he
stumbles at the beginning of a journey? Do you believe that it is the
gold from your coffers that urges him to make short work of the Vengador
and his band? If you so think, and so believe, you know me but little,
count. In souls like mine there is no place for discouragement, nor for
the forgetting of insults. The Vengador and Rui-Venablos dared to call
me traitor and to point their daggers at my breast. I would lose a
hundred lives rather than relinquish the chastisement of such audacity."

"You are wounded and weak from loss of blood. It will be some time
before you can attack the Vengador; meanwhile, he will have time to
reorganise his band."

"The wound which I have received will favour my projects."

"I do not understand you, Bellido."

"It is easy to understand me, my lord count. As soon as I can travel,
which will be in a few days, I shall set out to rejoin the Vengador. The
bandits will believe that I received the wound when the arch fell in,
and I will tell them that I had a miraculous escape. I will relate to
them a long story of the sufferings which I went through before I could
get back to them, and if formerly they simply looked on me as a member
of the band, they will in the future not alone consider me as such, but
also as one who became a victim through my devotion to it, and through
the cruelty of the Count of Carrion. At this moment I cannot tell you
exactly to what plans I must resort in order to win the full confidence
of the Vengador and his men, because my head is not capable of thinking
them out, but you shall know them soon, and your desires and mine shall
be fulfilled."

"Bellido, you are my best friend," said the count, again extending his
hand to the traitor. "All the gold in the world would not be too much to
reward your skill and the services which you are rendering me."

He then opened a strong chest and took money from it, which he handed to
Bellido, saying--

"Here are the three hundred marks, which you have so well earned."

The eyes of Bellido shone as brightly as the gold which the count had
placed in his hand.

"Look there," added Don Suero, pointing to the interior of the chest,
which certainly contained a treasure; "see how much gold I have,
wherewith to reward your services, should we succeed in exterminating
the bandits."

The eyes of Bellido shone like burning coals, and seemed as if they
wished to attract the gold, which they devoured, as the magnet attracts
iron.

"You will return to the camp of the bandits," said Don Suero, "as soon
as you are able, and--count on my gratitude. My sister is there, and I
fear that they will take base advantage of her weakness. Watch over her,
Bellido, for the noble family of the lords of Carrion must not have a
fresh crime committed by the band of the Vengador to lament over."

"Trust in me," replied Bellido. "Permit me now to retire and seek some
repose amid the wounded bandits, so that I may be still thought one of
them, and then watch them, should you intend to set them free to rejoin
their companions when they are strong enough to do so."

"Such is my intention," said Don Suero, "and the sooner the better, for
the Vengador will not give freedom to my sister until every man of his
who is alive returns to him."

"You will often hear me protest against your bad treatment of the
wounded, and even threaten you with the vengeance of the band. Pretend
that what I do angers you, but bear with me, for all will turn out to
your advantage."

"I shall do as you desire, Bellido."

Don Suero and Bellido Dolfos then separated, both content; the former
with fresh hopes of destroying the bandits, and the latter confident of
revenging himself and, at the same time, of making the count more and
more his debtor.



CHAPTER XXV

WHAT HAPPENED TO RODRIGO ON THE ROAD TO COMPOSTELA


There could be seen in the palace of the lords of Vivar, at Burgos,
great commotion amongst knights, squires, and pages, as if preparations
were being made for a journey which was to immediately commence. At the
gate of the palace stood several horses fully caparisoned, the number of
which was increasing every moment, according as fresh cavaliers arrived,
dismounted, and proceeded into the apartments occupied by the noble
family. Amongst the squires, who held the horses by their bridles, were
Fernan and Alvar, who was trying to keep Babieca quiet, as his prancing
and neighing were throwing the other horses into confusion. That noble
animal seemed quite excited by the preparations for a campaign which
were going on around him. He was no longer the poor-looking hack which
Rodrigo had selected in the stables of Don Peyre, and which excited the
laughter of the passers-by. His body had filled up, his coat had changed
and acquired gloss, he carried his head well and bravely, and his entire
appearance and movements were noble and free.

"By the soul of Beelzebub," Fernan was saying, "this Babieca thinks
that he will be soon in close quarters with the Moors, and he can't
contain his delight. My lord and master is fortunate in everything. If
the son of my mother had a horse like that, he would not exchange it for
the steed of a king. And," he added, passing his hand over the sides of
the intelligent animal, "my good Babieca, what you eat puts a shine on
you. If you were mine it is not oats you would get, but the best bread."

Overo, which was also there, brilliantly caparisoned, approached his
head to Fernan, rubbing it against him, as if jealous of the praises
which were being lavished on Babieca. The squire turned towards him,
stroking him also with his hand, and said--

"Hola, Overo! are you jealous, my son? If you were as brave as Babieca,
I would caress and reward you in fine style. But do not let my praises
of Babieca trouble you, for your well-filled sides witness that I treat
you well. You are not very spirited, indeed; but everyone is as God made
him, and it is not just to punish failings which come to one from his
mother. Here are our masters, who treat Alvar as the very best of their
servants, and for all that he has not even as much spunk in him as you
have, Overo."

"By my soul, Fernan!" cried Alvar in a passion, "you must give up
comparisons of that kind."

"If you only were braver, I would compare you to Babieca."

"It is my misfortune that this knave of a squire is always making fun of
me!" muttered Alvar, still very angry, but fearing to irritate Fernan.
"I wonder why you show such enmity towards me for some time back," he
added, turning towards him. "Have I offended you in any way, Fernan?"

"And you dare ask me such a question, when the reins of Overo answered a
similar one on your ribs yesterday? I swear to you, Alvar, by the soul
of Beelzebub, that I will break every bone in your body if you don't
treat the Moorish boy like the son of a prince."

"I certainly do scold him sometimes, but it is because his pranks, which
you laugh at and applaud, irritate me."

"I applaud them because sprightliness in children should be applauded.
Ismael, or rather Gil, for our masters have given him that name, is a
little turbulent; but for that very reason I believe that he will grow
up to be a brave youth, and a skilful and daring warrior. I have given
him only about a dozen lessons in horsemanship and the use of arms, and
he is now, as God hears me, almost as expert in such things as I am
myself."

The squire and the page had got thus far in their conversation when they
had to interrupt it, as they heard the cavaliers coming.

Rodrigo Diaz was indeed about to undertake a long journey, and his
cousins and several knights of Burgos, who considered it a great honour
to be permitted to do so, were to accompany him. He was going to
Compostela, to visit the shrine of the apostle St. James, for the
purpose of returning thanks to him for the victory of the mountains of
Oca, and also to comply with the custom, which every good knight
practised at least once in his life, of prostrating himself before the
holy patron of Spain, on whose aid he counted in all his warlike deeds.
At the same time Rodrigo desired to pay a visit to the king, Don
Fernando, who at that time was personally superintending the
reconstruction of Zamora, from whence he had sent him letters,
congratulating him on the victory of Oca, and expressing an earnest
desire to see him. Zamora the Beautiful, as our romance-writers call it,
had been destroyed by the Moors in the time of Don Bermudo III., the
last King of Leon, whom Don Fernando had defeated in a battle fought on
the banks of the river Carrion, in which Don Bermudo lost his life;
after this the King of Castile had joined the two crowns. Don Fernando
had the intention of leaving it to his daughter Urraca as a legacy, and
for that reason he was assisting in person at its reconstruction,
endeavouring with much trouble to make the jewel, which he was preparing
for his daughter, worthy of her who was to be the possessor of it.

Rodrigo Diaz, with the cavaliers, squires, and pages of his escort,
mounted their steeds at the gate of the palace, and waving adieu to
those who came to the windows to bid them farewell, they quitted Burgos
and took the road to Zamora, all in excellent spirits, although Rodrigo
felt that he was almost leaving his soul behind when he parted from
Ximena and his parents. Fernan also felt rather sad on leaving Mayor,
whom he had sworn would henceforth be his only love, even if there were
wars, in which so many men should be killed, that there would be fully
four women left for each of those who survived.

The name of Rodrigo Diaz resounded through all parts of the country; the
son of the grandee of Vivar was an object of love and admiration to both
Castilians and Leonese, for his brave deeds had reached the ears of
all. For this reason, wherever he passed, the people crowded out to
welcome him; and in the plains, where he halted to spend the night,
there was warm rivalry as to who should have the honour of entertaining
him in his house. This was naturally very pleasing to Rodrigo, but, in
order to give offence to none, he arranged that he, and those who
accompanied, should lodge in the public hostelries which were not
wanting on that route.

The night was somewhat advanced when they came near to Medina de
Riosico; it had rained so heavily during the day that the roads were
almost impassable; it was, moreover, very cold, and the darkness was
complete. Our cavaliers were crossing an extensive morass, when they
thought they heard very doleful moans issuing from a thicket, which lay
at the side of the road, and when they stopped their horses, in order to
hear better, a weak voice became audible, which said--

"Help me, travellers, whoever you are; if not, I shall die in this
thicket! Alas! I have lost my sight, and I cannot save myself with my
feet and hands."

"Be not uneasy," replied Rodrigo in a loud voice; "you shall be
succoured without delay." He then continued, addressing his companions:
"It must be some unfortunate mendicant who has lost his way in the
darkness and amongst the thick bushes which grow hereabout. Let us seek
him out and bring him with us to Medina, which is near here, and where
we are to halt for the night."

He then guided Babieca towards the spot from whence the groans
proceeded, but the ground was so cut up, and the thicket so dense, that
the horses were scarcely able to advance a dozen paces. Rodrigo
therefore dismounted, and, giving the reins of Babieca to Fernan,
advanced so rapidly into the thicket, that none of his companions were
able to follow him. Guided by the voice of him who had lost his way, he
came to where he was, and found an old man stretched on the ground,
covered with mud, soaked with water, and his limbs paralysed by the
cold, as well as by some nervous affection he had in them. He raised him
from the ground, filled with compassion, and endeavoured to encourage
and console him. When he asked him how he got into such a place, the old
man replied--

"I lost my way in the evening, and tried for a long time to find it
again, but without success, for the more I moved about in this thicket,
the more did I become perplexed, until, my strength having become
exhausted, and my body benumbed with cold, I fell in the place where you
found me. In vain did I call out for aid to those who passed by, but
they either did not hear me, or did not want to give themselves trouble.
I had then resigned myself to die, and become the food of the wild
animals which frequent this thicket, when I heard you, and summoned up
sufficient strength to call out. God will protect him who raised up the
weak, and guided the blind!"

Rodrigo endeavoured to get the unfortunate man to walk out of the
morass, but he was soon convinced that he could not move a step, and
then, finding more strength in his kindly heart than even in his
shoulders, he took him up on them, and, although he met with many
obstacles, got back to the road, which he had left, in a very short
time. The old man wept with gratitude and joy. Fernan wished to put him
on his horse, and walk by its side to Medina, for he did not consider
Overo strong enough to carry a double burden, especially as the road was
so very bad. Rodrigo, however, did not wish to share the credit of
saving the unfortunate old man.

"Babieca," he said, "is well able to carry two men, not alone to Medina,
but even the entire distance to Zamora. You will see how easily and
bravely he will continue his journey."

Thus speaking, Rodrigo mounted Babieca, and, with the assistance of
Fernan, got up the old man on the saddle behind him. They all proceeded
then towards Medina, where they arrived half an hour afterwards.

The table was ready laid, and knights and squires prepared for their
supper. Rodrigo made the old man sit down beside him, to eat with them,
notwithstanding that this determination displeased the other cavaliers,
whom the dirt and the wounds of the mendicant disgusted. The supper,
however, began, and as the hands of the old man were palsied, he let
fall the food when carrying it to his mouth, which only moved Rodrigo to
compassion for him. The other cavaliers could scarcely eat their meal on
account of the repugnance which the old man caused them, and at last
arose from the table, saying that they could not bear the sight any
longer. Rodrigo rebuked them sharply, and obliged the mendicant to
remain at the table in order to finish his supper, although he was
desirous of leaving the room, so as not to trouble the companions of his
generous benefactor.

When the supper was ended; when the blind man had somewhat recovered his
strength; when the heat of the hearth had taken the numbness from his
limbs; when his heart, in fine, had been consoled by the kindness of
Rodrigo, the young cavalier began to talk familiarly to that unfortunate
man, and by degrees the other cavaliers, who had gone to sup in another
apartment, returned, desirous of hearing the stories which doubtless the
blind man would relate.

"Ah, sir knight," he then said to Rodrigo, "how much would I rejoice to
be able to repay your kindness! But what remains to me in this world?
Nothing but a sad heart to express its gratitude,--and this instrument,
with which I earn a poor subsistence," he added, pointing to his lute.

One of the nephews of Rodrigo--the youngest and most cheerful of
them--said, on hearing these words--

"If it will be pleasing to you, my uncle and lord, and to himself also,
this old man can amuse us for a while by singing to the accompaniment of
his lute some of the ballads which he doubtless knows."

"I shall do so with very great pleasure," answered the blind man.

And as he felt that Rodrigo was not opposed to the proposal, he took up
his lute and began to touch its strings with considerable skill and
lightness, notwithstanding the palsy with which he was afflicted. He
then suddenly stopped and said--

"Listen, cavaliers and squires, listen to the true story of a peasant
from whom a traitor count stole his daughter, in order to dishonour her,
and whose eyes he put out in order that he might not be able to avenge
himself."

He then sang, with the accompaniment of his lute--


  "Cavaliers of Leon,
  Castilian cavaliers!
  Haughty with the strong,
  But gentle with the weak!
  Through Leon and Castilian lands,
  Wanders a poor old man,
  A count's foul crimes denouncing--
  For a vile wretch is that count.
  He cannot take revenge himself,
  For age his body bends,
  And his eyes now only serve
  To weep o'er his sad fate.
  Come to the aid of that old man,
  In his most wretched plight,--
  Cavaliers of Leon,
  Castilian cavaliers!

  That vile count stole his daughter,--
  She was fair as a May rose,--
  And put him in a prison dark,
  Where the tyrant then did blind
  That sad, ill-fated, wretched man.
  Who will dry his constant tears?
  Who will give him back his child?
  Cavaliers, if such ye are,
  Punish that accursed count,--
  Him who bears off maidens fair,
  Him who vilely blinds old men.
  Such is the duty of the good,
  Such is the mission of the great
  Cavaliers of Leon,
  Castilian cavaliers!"


The old man ceased his song, for he became almost suffocated with sobs
and tears. Those who had been listening to him were also much moved, and
their indignation was so great against the count, who had been alluded
to, although they did not know who he was, that if he appeared in their
presence at that moment, they would have rushed at him with their naked
swords.

"Do you tell us that your story is true?" asked Rodrigo.

"Yes, it is true, sir knight, unfortunately for me," he replied.

"Unfortunately for you? As I hope to be saved," exclaimed Rodrigo,
remembering the adventure which Beatrice had related to him and to
Fernan, "that count is the Count of Carrion, and you are the old man
whose daughter was stolen!"

"You are quite right, sir knight."

"I vow by Judas Iscariot, that I would willingly give ten years of my
life to be able to put ten inches of my sword into the breast of that
felon count!" exclaimed Fernan, giving vent to his indignation, which he
could not restrain, although he knew it was contrary to his duty to
interrupt the conversation of his master.

"And you know nothing of your daughter?" asked Rodrigo of the blind man.

"I do not know, sir knight, what has become of her, but I suppose the
count keeps her shut up in his castle, for, if not, she would have
endeavoured to find her unfortunate father, whom she loved so much, and
loves still if she is alive."

The poor old man, as we see, was far from suspecting how different his
daughter had become since the count had deprived her of her robe of
innocence.

"And have you found no cavalier to take upon himself the carrying out of
the revenge which you desire?" asked Rodrigo.

"I have found," replied the old man, "a soldier, as brave as he is
kind-hearted; but up to the present he has not been able to do
anything."

"Then we will assist him in his task, and, as God lives, it shall not
avail the count to shut himself up in his castle and lend a deaf ear to
every challenge, as is his custom," said Rodrigo.

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed all present; "we must punish that accursed count,
who is a disgrace to the nobility of Leon and Castile."

"Oh," cried the unfortunate old man, filled with joy, "God will assist
you in your noble enterprise. My journey to Medina has not been in vain,
for if I have not met the valiant and noble cavalier whom I was in
search of, I have found another, not less kind-hearted and
compassionate."

"Who was the cavalier whom you were seeking?" asked Rodrigo.

"Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, he who was expected to lodge here to-night,"
he replied.

"Then you find here him you were in search of."

"My God!" exclaimed the old man, scarcely able to speak, such was his
surprise, kissing the hand which Rodrigo held out to him. "Can it be
possible that he who carried me on his shoulders, and seated me at his
table, is Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the conqueror in the mountains of
Oca, the son of Diego Lainez, the descendant of the Judges of Castile,
the most noble, honoured, powerful, and brave cavalier of Spain?"

"Rodrigo Diaz is he who took you on his shoulders, seated you at his
table, and intends to share his bed with you," replied the son of Diego
Lainez.

"Oh, my lord," cried the old man, not knowing how to express his
gratitude, "your kindness to me has been too great; but to share your
bed with me, a beggar, full of misery and dirt! No, no, that cannot be,
my lord."

"You say that I am noble, honoured, and powerful. Who but the powerful,
the honoured, and the noble should console and protect the afflicted,
the sad, and the defenceless? Let us go to rest, for we all stand much
in need of it, and particularly you, a feeble old man."

Rodrigo, his companions, and the blind man then retired, and in reality
the former did share his bed with the mendicant. Divine rays of charity
which would have adorned the noble brow of the cavalier with the aureole
of the saints, if his brave deeds had not adorned it with the laurel
crown of the hero; for charity modestly hides herself, whilst warlike
heroism cannot do so.

It is impossible to describe the gratitude of the unhappy old man when,
the following morning, he parted from the compassionate cavalier. It is
impossible also to describe the inspired accents in which, shedding
abundant tears, he said to Rodrigo--

"My lord, I feel confident that God has sent me to you to bring you glad
tidings. You are loved by Him; you will conquer in all your battles;
your honours and your prosperity will increase; you will be feared by
the bad and loved by the good, and you will die happy, blessed by God
and by men."

Rodrigo looked on these words as a divine prophecy. The accents in which
they were pronounced made him believe that it was such.

At the rising of the sun, that bright and beautiful sun which follows a
storm, Rodrigo and his companions departed from Medina de Rioseco, with
the intention of reaching Zamora on that day; which they succeeded in
doing.

Here, where but a short time before could be seen heaps of rubbish,
between which nettles and brambles grew and reptiles hissed, where it
might have been said, "Here was Zamora," using the expression applied in
old times to the city of Æneas--here, we repeat, were springing up
magnificent temples with high turrets, superb palaces, and strong
fortifications; and bustle and animation had succeeded to the silence
and solitude which had but recently reigned there.

The king, Don Fernando, was just going to dinner when he was informed
that Rodrigo had arrived in the city. The joy of the wise and good
monarch was very great; Don Fernando did not look upon the cavalier,
whom he was about to see, as a vassal, but as the most beloved of his
friends--even more than that, as one of his sons. Even the circumstance
of being separated from his family, which had remained in Burgos and was
so dear to him, had caused him to desire with greater eagerness the
arrival of Rodrigo, for he had now passed a considerable time without
being able to expand his heart in the calm pleasures of family life. He
therefore longed to have at his side one, with whom he could feel
himself joined by closer and softer bonds than those which usually
unite the lord to his vassal, in order that he might satisfy the most
imperious necessity of his soul, that of living in the bosom of
friendship. He had scarcely learned that Rodrigo had crossed the
threshold of the palace when he went to meet him, like a father who goes
out to meet a son after a long absence from the paternal dwelling. The
brave and noble cavalier was about to prostrate himself at the feet of
the king, like a good vassal as he was, but Don Fernando did not allow
him to do so, for he opened his arms and pressed him in them, with an
effusion of affection and esteem almost paternal, saying to him, "You
are very welcome, Rodrigo, glory of Castile and strongest pillar of my
throne."

"Oh, sire," exclaimed Rodrigo, much moved by so flattering a reception,
"the strongest pillars of your throne are your own wisdom, your
goodness, and the affection which your subjects feel for you. I am one
of them, and I would not change my condition for yours, for the honours
you confer on me are of more value in my eyes than a throne."

"I love you, Rodrigo, as the best of my vassals, and I repay but poorly
all your services to me. I do not alone admire and respect you as the
descendant of Lain Calvo, as the son of Diego Lainez, as the valiant
youth who knew how to avenge the insult inflicted on his honour, as he
who conquered the bravest of the Aragonian knights, and finally, as the
hero who gained one of the most glorious triumphs over the Moorish
power; but as the magnanimous and generous cavalier who restored to
freedom Abengalvon and his companions in misfortune. How great loyalty
must not the King of Castile and Leon expect from him who, having
conquered them, respected even the enemies of his God and his country,
because they bore the name of king."

All the cavaliers who were with Don Fernando were also much rejoiced at
the arrival of Rodrigo, and felicitated him on his victory at Oca.
Rodrigo was soon seated at the king's table, which honour he enjoyed
during the few days he was obliged to spend in Zamora, for Don Fernando
was unwilling that he should depart, and only consented at last on
account of the sacred object of his journey.

The day at last arrived on which he had to resume it. Everything was
ready for his departure, when a great commotion was noticed amongst the
townspeople who were thronging towards the avenue which led to the royal
Alcazar. The king, Rodrigo, and the courtiers went out on a balcony,
and were much surprised at the strange spectacle which they saw. A large
number of Moors, richly clad, were leading more than a hundred horses
gorgeously caparisoned, and in addition several mules all heavily
loaded.

When the Moors arrived at the gates of the Alcazar, they sent to ask
Rodrigo's permission to appear in his presence. He conceded it, having
obtained the assent of the king, and they entered the apartment in which
the noble cavalier awaited them, seated beside the king, who thus
honoured him in order that the Moslims might see in what estimation he
was held.

"_Cid_," said to Rodrigo he who seemed to be the leader of the
ambassadors, "Abengalvon, king of Molina, Mahomad, king of Huesca, Ali,
king of Zaragoza, Osmin, king of Teruel, and Hamet, king of Calatayud,
whom you took prisoners in the mountains of Oca, and to whom you
generously restored their freedom, send you their tributes and pay you
homage, as vassals who are pleased to do so. In addition, they send you,
as marks of friendship and gratitude, thirty sorrel horses, thirty black
horses, twenty white, and twenty dapple-grey, besides valuable ornaments
and precious stones for your spouse, and rich cloths and good arms for
yourself and your knights."

"You are mistaken in your errand," replied Rodrigo modestly and humbly;
"you have called me _Cid_, which in your language signifies 'a lord over
vassals,' and I am not a lord where my king is, but only the least of
his vassals. Here you see my king, and to him you must pay homage, and
to him you must offer the tributes and the marks of friendship which
Abengalvon and his friends have confided to your charge."

"Say to your masters," interrupted the king, exceedingly pleased by his
humility, and addressing the Moors, "that although their lord is not a
king himself, he is seated beside the King of Castile and Leon; tell
them also that to him I owe a large portion of the territories which I
possess, and that I consider it a greater glory to have him as my vassal
than to be a king myself. As you have called him 'Cid,' it is my will
that from this day he shall bear that name."

Rodrigo then received the tributes and gifts which the Moorish kings had
sent to him, and wrote to each of them a letter, expressing his thanks,
and promising to return their loyalty and friendship.

The ambassadors received from the hand of Rodrigo valuable presents, and
departed, repeating the name of 'Cid,' which the son of Diego Lainez was
henceforth to bear, and to which was soon added _Campeador_,[1] which
both Moors and Christians conferred on him, on account of his constant
and glorious triumphs on the fields of battle.

[1] "Warrior," in old Spanish.

A few hours after he had received this honourable embassy, Rodrigo left
Zamora, with the friends and servants who accompanied him on his
journey; all were in good spirits and desirous of arriving at
Compostela, in order to fulfil the duties of Christian cavaliers before
the altar of the holy apostle, and afterwards practise other duties in
the districts which were frequently invaded by the Moors.



CHAPTER XXVI

HOW THE VENGADOR AND RUI-VENABLOS CHANGED THEIR OPINION REGARDING
BELLIDO


Three days after the disastrous attack of the bandits on the Castle of
Carrion, those that remained of them were still encamped in the place
where we left them in the twenty-third chapter.

It was near nightfall, and the weather, which had been cold and rainy on
the preceding day, had become mild and calm. The Vengador and
Rui-Venablos were conversing together, walking through the camp, in
which were four tents, one for the chiefs, one for the Infanta of
Carrion, who was still their prisoner, one for the wounded who had been
brought from Carrion, and one for the other members of the band.

Near the encampment was a hill, from the summit of which could be seen
all the approaches, principally the road from Carrion, for a
considerable distance. The bandits kept watch on it, and had been given
strict orders to give notice when they saw anyone approaching the camp,
which proved that the Vengador had lost the blind confidence which he
had before placed in his strength and in his good fortune; for when he
had but a dozen followers, and had as his enemies not alone the
brotherhood of the Salvadores, but all the inhabitants of the country,
he did not take such precautions. With all their valour, the Vengador
and Rui-Venablos could not but feel discouraged by the terrible blow
which they had just received. Grief and despair had at first given them
courage and confidence, but when reflection came, the thought of those
who had remained entombed under the arched roof of the castle, and the
contrast between what the band had been and what it now was, changed
their energy and confidence into discouragement.

"The life we are leading here is a miserable one," said Rui-Venablos.
"Inaction not only causes discontent in our men, but leaves us open to a
sudden attack by our enemies; it deprives us, besides, of precious time,
which should be employed in filling up the wide gaps which have been
left in our ranks."

"We should indeed move away from here and shake off this inaction which,
in more ways than one, is weakening us," replied the Vengador; "but how
can we do so until all our companions who remained at Carrion have
returned, and thus place us in a position to give the Infanta her
liberty? If we departed hence, God only knows where we should have to
go; our companions would arrive with the hope of finding us, and having
made a long journey, which in their condition would be very painful,
they would be disappointed, and have to proceed in search of us through
the whole country, and many of them would probably succumb before they
could find us."

Martin bent down his head and continued--

"You, Rui-Venablos, and I, only bandits in appearance, and our comrades
being so in reality, should, it might be supposed, have no compassion
for them, and need not be loyal to them; but we act as it is but right
for us to do: every honourable man should be loyal and compassionate
towards those who share their good or evil fortunes, whether those men
happen to be honourable or not. In truth, our comrades are as honourable
as we are, for if we examine into the depths of their hearts and of
their conduct, we must place them, not in the category of bandits, but
in that of men whom hunger and oppression have forced to exercise a
shameful profession, and who, nevertheless, exercise it as honourably as
they can; for you know already, Rui, that if there are in the band many
men inclined to pillage and assassination, more by inclination than by
necessity, we have curbed the instincts of several of them,--sometimes
by persuasion, at other times by punishment,--and got rid of the others.
Perhaps those who appear least worthy of compassion are the very men who
most deserve it. What are you and I in the eyes of the public but bandit
chiefs, deserving of being hung and quartered, and exposed to public
obloquy on the highroads? Nevertheless, we dare shame and death for one
of the noblest causes,--one which even cavaliers have fought for. Oh,
how far are people from imagining that Rui-Venablos and the Vengador,
redoubtable bandits, who attacked, pillaged, and consigned to the flames
the mansions of grandees, have no ambition but to avenge the murder of
one father, the tortures inflicted on another, the dishonour of a girl,
and the oppressions and crimes which noblemen, wrongly so named,
practise on the weak and unfortunate."

"That is quite certain, brother," replied Rui-Venablos. "And Bellido
himself, of whom both of us, I the first, had suspicions, is a proof of
this. Who can say but that he enlisted in the band with an object just
as honourable as ours? I have changed my opinion regarding him so much,
that if the count should retain him in his castle, as God lives!
Rui-Venablos would risk a hundred lives to restore him to liberty. Who
does not love him, and desire that he should return to us, having heard
all that the wounded, who have come back to us, relate of him? Certainly
a man deserves praise and love who, severely wounded in his head,
forgets his own sufferings, dedicates himself to serve and console those
who most likely suffer less than he does, protests with a brave heart
against the inhumanity of the count, whom he rebukes, risking his anger,
and will not leave the castle until the very last of his companions has
quitted it, saying, that as he is one of their leaders, it is his duty
to die rather than abandon his comrades! Besides this, the circumstance
of Bellido having been the only one who escaped of all those on whom the
ruins of the arch fell, is another reason to consider him worthy of our
affection."

"Yes," said Martin; "from this day Bellido shall be our equal. Amongst
us there shall be no first or second; all three shall be but as one, all
three shall command the band, all three shall have the same power. And,
indeed, Bellido forecast things better than either of us, and you see
how events have justified his opinion that half the band would perish in
the assault on the Castle of Carrion. We were indignant at the plan he
proposed to us, in order to carry out our enterprise; but although we
never could have approved of it, perhaps our words would have been less
severe if we could have foreseen the dangers which he foreshadowed. Now
that we know how much Bellido is afflicted by the misfortunes of his
comrades, we must not feel surprised that, in order to save us from an
almost certain death, he should have ventured a proposal which made him
appear to us dishonourable and disloyal."

Their conversation had proceeded thus far when the sentry signalled that
people were coming from the direction of Carrion. The chiefs of the band
joined him in order to see who they were; and what was their surprise
and delight when they found that those who were approaching were Bellido
and the last of the bandits who had remained wounded in the power of Don
Suero.

Martin and Rui-Venablos hurried to meet them, and embraced Bellido
warmly, whose face, pale and emaciated, gave expression to his
satisfaction.

"Welcome, brother!" exclaimed both; "welcome, all of you!"

"We were awaiting you with very great anxiety," said Martin.

"It was not greater than the longing I felt to return to you," replied
Bellido.

"Brother," said Rui-Venablos, "we have learned how loyal your conduct
has been in Carrion with regard to our companions, and we, together with
the entire band, shall consider you in the future as its best and most
faithful member."

"Oh, you confer an honour on me which I do not deserve," replied
Bellido, with feigned modesty and emotion. "All our comrades are so kind
and grateful that those who arrived first must have spoken too well of
me, exaggerating the trifling services I rendered them."

"What a terrible blow it was to us, Bellido! You prophesied only too
truly when you said that half the band would be destroyed if we
assaulted the castle by force," said Martin.

"Let us speak no more of that," replied Bellido, as if his modesty
resented any allusion to his foresight. "Let us forget all that is past,
and let us only endeavour to recover lost ground. Let us work together
with earnestness, with zeal superior to all adverses, until we regain
our lost strength, and have again sufficient to ensure victory. Let us
then return to Carrion, to avenge our unfortunate companions who were
butchered by the count in so barbarous a manner; for you must know that
the arched roof, which fell down on us, had been previously prepared so
as to kill all of us; and deaths caused by such dastardly artifices can
only be called vile murders."

"And how were you able to save yourself from that slaughter?"

"Only by a miracle."

"Relate to us then, brother, all that happened to you at Carrion," said
Martin, just as they reached the tents.

The wounded bandits entered that which the chiefs of the band had
arranged in the best possible manner, and the Vengador, with his two
companions, entered his tent. Martin and Rui-Venablos could not do too
much for Bellido, with the view of ensuring his comfort and ease. They
prepared, with the utmost solicitude, a place where he could seat
himself. They saw that a meal was prepared for him, and they examined
the condition of his wound. Their care might be compared to that which a
father or mother would have lavished on a sick and debilitated son.

"Do not trouble yourself, brothers, in preparing comforts for me, for
when with you, I feel well however I may be placed. I assure you that
this cursed wound which, during the entire journey, made me suffer all
the pains of hell, has ceased to trouble me since I have seen you again.
One would say that you have the hand of a saint," added Bellido, with a
pleasant smile, "for you scarce touched me when I felt myself completely
cured. However, learn now what I suffered in Carrion."

Martin and Rui-Venablos then seated themselves by his side, ready to
listen attentively to him.

"When that terrible blow was heard above the arched roof, I foresaw the
danger which threatened us, and I rushed to the postern, to endeavour to
facilitate the exit of my comrades by opening the door, which had
suddenly closed through the impulse of the violent shock which made the
entire building quiver; however, the door, when closing, must have
dragged on with it some of the fragments which fell from the roof, and
wedged them in the door frame, for all the strength which I exerted to
open it was useless. Nevertheless, it was just yielding when the arch
crashed down, and I received so violent a blow on the head that I
instantly lost consciousness. I am ignorant of the length of time I
remained buried amid the ruins and the dead bodies. When I regained my
senses, the moonlight was penetrating through the postern, which was
partly open, just as it was at the moment the catastrophe took place.
The spectacle which then presented itself to my view was terrible;
rivulets of blood were flowing from the ruins, and on every side were
protruding corpses, horribly disfigured and mutilated; but not a voice,
not a groan, not a sigh was to be heard around me, which proved that I
was the only one in whom any life remained, of all those who were in the
place when the arched roof fell in. I turned my eyes away from that
horrible sight, and reflected as well as I could, for the loss of blood,
which continued to run from my head, had weakened my faculties. I knew
then that if I could not procure assistance, I should soon lose my
consciousness a second time, and the count would find one corpse more
under the ruins of the roof. I managed to get out into the fields;
bathed my wound in the river which flows near the walls of the castle,
bandaged it as well as I could, and was thus able to arrest the flow of
the blood. I advanced a few steps on the road which leads hither, but I
stopped, hearing some people approach, and concealed myself amongst the
bushes. I was thus able to overhear the conversation of some peasants
who were coming out of the castle and proceeding towards the town,
talking on their way of what had occurred. I thus learned that there
were in the castle several of my wounded companions, in danger of being
sacrificed to the anger of the accursed count, and I considered that it
would be a cowardly act not to share their fate. I then entered the
castle, taking advantage of the confusion which still reigned there, and
in a few minutes I was with my comrades again. You know the rest; and I
have only to add that the count is not taking any precautions to protect
the castle against a fresh attack, for he considers us too much weakened
to attempt one again. For that reason we should endeavour to recruit our
forces as quickly as possible, and strike another blow, which will
certainly have better results, as Don Suero will be unprepared."

"We shall do so, brother," exclaimed in one breath Martin and Rui,
clasping one after the other the hand of Bellido.

The three men continued to converse in a friendly way for a short time,
principally regarding the best means that could be adopted in order to
restore the band to its former strength; and an hour later there was no
other sound to be heard in the camp but the footsteps of two or three
sentries, stationed on the paths leading to it, and who continued
walking to drive away the cold, which, if they had not done so, would
almost have frozen the blood in their veins. Nevertheless, all who were
in the tents had not gone to rest: Teresa and Guillen were awake, seated
beside a lamp, in the same place where we have seen them but a few days
previously. The Infanta was no longer the same young girl, worn out by
grief, for whom the few kindly souls who saw her in the Castle of
Carrion felt so great compassion: a sweet and pleasant smile now played
constantly on her lips; her cheeks, a short time before pale as those of
a corpse, were commencing to be tinged with the colour of the rose; and
her soft eyes, formerly dim and sad, shone with joy and animation.
Teresa was born to love, and love was the only element in which she
could really live; from the time, therefore, that her soul had commenced
to satisfy that imperious necessity, it might be said that she had
returned again to life, for the contentment of the soul is a fountain of
health for the body. How rapidly time sped on for Teresa and Guillen in
that poor tent, into which penetrated from all sides the wet and the
cold, in which there was not even a rustic bench to use as a seat; where
it was necessary to lie on the ground, moist and rugged; where they had
not sufficient coverings to keep themselves warm; where food was scanty
and of the very coarsest kind; and where, finally, they were in the
power of a band of bandits. How true is it that love adorns everything,
and makes all things easily borne and even sweet! All those privations
were little thought of by them, for they were sufficiently compensated
by the pleasure of constantly seeing each other, of caring for each
other, and of building beautiful castles in the air.

"Teresa," said Guillen, with a loving smile, "we have been painting the
future with rosy tints, we have forgotten the real world in order to
make ourselves happy in an imaginary one; would it not be well now to
reflect for a few moments on the obstacles against which our love must
contend from the time that we return to the castle? It is sad to have to
awake from so delicious a dream as ours has been, only to find ourselves
in a reality as bitter as that which awaits us."

"Let us think over that reality," replied Teresa, also trying to smile,
but in truth becoming very sad at the discomforting prospect which
Guillen had conjured up before her.

"We must consider," said the page, "as to the kind of life we shall have
to lead when we arrive in Carrion; we must see each other as little as
possible, and in the presence of your brother you must address me coldly
and haughtily, in order that he may not suspect our love."

"And do you believe, Guillen, that I could live without often seeing
you, or that I could speak coldly to you?"

"It will be also very painful to me to spend even an hour without seeing
you, but we must accept such a bitter sacrifice, for what would be our
fate if your brother found out that there were any other relations
between us but those of a mistress and her servant?"

"Guillen, I repeat to you that I, formerly a weak and timid woman, now
feel myself strong and courageous; so much so, that I would not hesitate
to confess to my brother--ay, to the whole world--that I love you."

"Confess it to your brother, Teresa! Ah no! for the count would kill
you, as he would look upon the love of the Infanta of Carrion for an
obscure page as a crime deserving of being punished with death; for he
considers that such as I should kiss the ground on which their masters
place their feet. Let us conceal our love until the day arrives when you
need not be ashamed, in the eyes of the world, of loving me."

"Ashamed of loving you, Guillen! No, I shall never be ashamed of that,
for what armorial bearings could be found more noble than the good and
chivalrous soul which animates you?"

"I know, Teresa, that for you such armorial bearings are sufficient, but
not for your brother, not for the world. Let us conceal, I repeat, the
love which we have for one another whilst I remain in Carrion, for it
will be only till the day that the infidels make the first of their
frequent raids into Castile and Leon. I shall then join the first body
of soldiers which sets out to oppose the enemy, and the first fight in
which I take part shall win for me the first of the titles that will
enable me to demand your hand from your brother."

"Ah, Guillen, what bitter trials await our love, if they were only those
of the long separation which we must endure!" exclaimed Teresa, thinking
how illusory the hopes of the page were, and on what a weak foundation
his dreams of happiness rested.

"Teresa," said the page, smiling in order to encourage her, "do we not
feel ourselves strong and courageous? Well, then, let us trust in God
and in our love, for after a short period of tempest we shall enjoy
years of calm."

Whilst the lovers were thus conversing,--without thinking of who might
hear them, without even lowering their voices, as if fearful of being
heard and ridiculed by the bandits, who would have found in the love of
the Infanta and the page only a subject for jests and noisy mirth,--a
man issued from the tent of the chiefs and approached, as noiselessly as
possible, that of Teresa. The man applied his ear carefully to the
canvas of the tent, greedy to hear the conversation of the lovers, and
when it had ceased, or at least had changed its character, he returned
to the tent from whence he had come. If the darkness had not been so
great, he might have been seen to smile with satisfaction.

That man was Bellido Dolfos, who, surprising the love-making of Doña
Teresa and the page, had made up his mind to gain some gold marks in
exchange for--who knows but for the lives of two good and innocent
fellow-creatures!

All ages have had their traitors, but none of them more vile, more
despicable, more wicked than Bellido.



CHAPTER XXVII

HOW TERESA AND GUILLEN BELIEVED THAT GOD HAD TOUCHED THE HEART OF DON
SUERO


On the following day, just as the sun was beginning to lessen the
intense cold of the morning, Teresa and Guillen departed from the
encampment of the bandits, with their consent, which had been obtained
on the previous evening, when the last of the wounded, who had been in
the power of Don Suero, returned with Bellido. As the journey was long
and the roads were bad, even worse than usual on account of the heavy
rain which had fallen, the Vengador had taken compassion on the weak
state of the Infanta, and had given her a very strong horse, which was
able to carry both her and the page. They both, therefore, mounted it,
extremely grateful for the generosity of the bandits, and, above all,
for the kindness of their chief, who had afforded them protection and
cared for them as well as he possibly could in that solitary place.

The two young people were journeying thus towards Carrion, conversing
lovingly, when about half-way they met a servant of Don Suero, who, on
perceiving them, stopped, full of joy on seeing his mistress at liberty,
for all the inhabitants of the castle, and of the surrounding district,
loved and respected her.

Teresa and Guillen were informed by him of all that had occurred in the
castle during their absence, and when they were about to continue their
journey, the Infanta asked Gonzalo, for that was the name of the
servant, whither he was going.

"My lady," he replied, "Don Suero sends me with a letter to the Count of
Cabra."

"Is he sending to his friend the count for aid, fearing that some other
band may attack the castle?" asked Teresa.

"My lady, I can only tell you that my master received tidings yesterday
from Zamora, which caused him great annoyance, so great that he beat me
with a stick, shut himself up in his apartment, and spoke to no person
until this morning, when he summoned me in order to give me a letter,
which he said I should bring to the Count of Cabra as quickly as
possible."

"Ah, you do not know, my good Gonzalo, what fear the bandits inspire me
with, now that I know how far their audacity may go," said the Infanta,
in order that the servant might not suspect that she had any other
object in having thus questioned him. "Proceed on your way now, my good
Gonzalo, proceed whither your master sends you, for we shall soon arrive
at the castle, and relieve the anxiety which my brother feels respecting
us."

Gonzalo then continued his way to Burgos, and Teresa and Guillen
proceeded towards Carrion.

"Guillen," said Teresa, "that letter which my brother is sending to the
Count of Cabra causes me to foresee events which may effect the peace of
my family. The Count of Cabra is the instrument which some of the
grandees of Leon and Castile have made use of, for many years, to plot
treasons and to carry out their mean revenges; for Don Garcia is a
skilled master in the art of conspiring, in everything that is cowardly
and cunning. To be in relations with him is the same as being engaged in
some treacherous action. Since he fled from his estates, although he
had sufficient armed retainers to resist the Moors, and came to Castile,
he lives by what those who have need of his assistance in carrying out
their plots, pay him."

"And I would stake a hundred to one that your brother is plotting some
treachery against the knight of Vivar, for he considers him his greatest
enemy, especially since Don Rodrigo challenged him, and, on his refusing
to fight with him, got notices posted up throughout Castile and Leon,
denouncing his cowardice, calling him a bad, disloyal, and treacherous
cavalier, together with other disagreeable names of a like nature, which
your brother has not forgotten. Besides, the great success of the
cavalier of Vivar has made him jealous, and he would be only too glad to
clip the wings which in so short a time have soared so high."

"I trust in God that we all shall not have to weep tears of blood on
account of the ambition, the injustice, and the wild and ungovernable
character of my brother. The house of Carrion, formerly loved and
respected by all, is now surrounded by enemies. Who now treats it with
respect? Who would draw a sword in its defence, on the day when all its
enemies will rise in open hostility against it? It is indeed powerful,
and its vassals are numerous enough to form an army, before which even
the King of Castile and Leon might well tremble; but how weak is power
when it has not love for its cement!"

Whilst engaged in this and other such conversations, the Castle of
Carrion appeared to their view. Teresa remembered the joy with which in
other times she had seen again those grey walls, when returning with her
parents from the frequent excursions which they were in the habit of
making, and when they were always received with ovations by their
vassals, amongst whom the lords of Carrion were looked on as a second
providence. She remembered what she had suffered within those walls from
the time she had lost her parents, and thought of what she might still
have to suffer; and the comparison of those two periods, so different
from each other, filled her heart with sadness. The Infanta almost felt
grief at having to return to the castle in which she had been born; she
was almost sorry for having left the camp of the bandits, for in it,
although she was the captive of the Vengador, she had Guillen
continually by her side, she could enjoy freely the sweet and ardent
love which dominated her soul, and God alone knew what awaited her in
the castle, God alone knew if there she should ever see Guillen near
her.

At length they arrived at the castle gate. Don Suero came out to meet
them, and, almost the first time in his life, he embraced Teresa, and
held out his hand to Guillen.

"You are heartily welcome, my sister," he said to the Infanta. "If the
natural roughness of my character, which contrasts with the sweetness of
yours, has ever caused you to doubt of my affection, that want of
confidence in me must henceforth cease. Think, Teresa, how much I must
love you when, in order not to draw upon you the vengeance of the
bandits, I renounced the exercise of mine on those accursed wretches,
when they were in my power. You, who know how undeserving of pity those
bandits are, who committed so many outrages in the district of Carrion,
who attacked so treacherously my castle; you, who know the terrible
chastisements which I am in the habit of inflicting on those who offend
me; you, my sister, can now understand the great sacrifice I have made
to ensure your safety. If you had not been in the power of the bandits,
my men-at-arms would have followed the track of the miserable remnant of
the band of the Vengador, would have overtaken them, and could have
completely exterminated them; but how could I pursue them when you were
amongst them, for, at the shooting of the first arrow by my men, those
pitiless wretches would have plunged their daggers in your heart."

"Oh, thanks, thanks, brother!" replied Teresa, much moved, and
forgetting the brutal tyranny which the count had practised on her
during so long a time; for the heart of Teresa was always open to
gratitude and affection; and to the poor girl, who had always seen
frowns and severity on the face of her brother, a kindly smile from him
was of inestimable value.

"To you I return my best thanks, my good Guillen," said Don Suero to the
page, "for having so loyally accompanied and guarded your mistress. I
have always looked on you differently than on my other attendants, and
from to-day you shall be the friend rather than the servant of the Count
of Carrion, for I know that you will become more and more worthy of my
esteem."

"My lord," replied Guillen in a stammering voice, "your goodness is
greater than my deserts. Was it not my simple duty to protect and defend
my mistress in every way in my power?"

The honourable page accused himself at that moment of disloyalty to his
master; his conscience was so upright, his soul was so noble and
delicate, that he could not help thinking to himself--

"I am vilely deceiving my master: Teresa is the most valuable thing he
has in his castle, and I have stolen it from him, like an unfaithful
servant; my lips speak one thing and my heart feels another." Such were
the thoughts that were disturbing the page and bringing a colour to his
cheeks.

If the words which her brother had addressed to her were sweet to
Teresa, those which he had spoken to Guillen were far sweeter to her.
Oh, how delicious did the name of "friend," which Don Suero had given to
the page, sound in her ears!

The Infanta entered her chamber filled with gladness, consolation, and
the hope of having happy days there instead of the sad ones she had
before spent in it; all this was not founded so much on the favourable
state of mind in which she had found her brother, as on the certainty
she felt that henceforth there would be one in the castle who loved her
tenderly and disinterestedly.

"I shall see Guillen every day," she thought to herself, "for my brother
will be grateful to him for the sacrifices he has made for me, the cares
he has lavished on me, his grief at seeing me deprived of almost the
necessaries of life; and thus he will attribute to my gratitude alone
the preference I will show him, my affection for him, and my desire to
see him constantly near me."

These thoughts, these hopes filled Teresa with happiness. That apartment
already seemed to her less lonely, less sad, less gloomy; she no longer
looked on herself as alone in the world; she breathed with freedom; she
saw the horizon of her life smiling and bright. She went to that narrow
window, at which she had so often shed tears, and directed her gaze on
the wide stretch of country which was visible from it. The sun had just
disappeared behind a hill, and in the fields could be heard the songs of
the shepherds and labourers, and the summons to prayer which was
sounding from all the belfries that arose on the extensive plain. This
sight, which had so often formerly saddened her heart, which had filled
her with an invincible and deep melancholy, now caused in her an
entirely different feeling; the songs of the country people, the chimes
of the bells, seemed to her as if they were celebrating her happiness
and announcing it to her.

She stood for a long time motionless at the window, buried in the
contemplation of her newly awakened hopes, blessing God who had
sweetened the bitterness of her life, and giving thanks to her mother,
to whose prayers she believed that she owed a great part of her
happiness; for that mother who, in other times, loved her, pitied her,
and consoled her, must have implored the mercy of God in her favour, in
favour of the sad orphan, isolated in the world and persecuted by her
own brother, by him who, when her mother died, should have loved,
pitied, and consoled her.

When Teresa was most absorbed in those sweet reflections, she heard some
person entering her chamber, and almost at the same moment the voice of
her brother, who thus affectionately addressed her:--

"Teresa, my sister, I could not retire to rest without first embracing
you, without seeing that you have everything necessary for your comfort,
without beseeching you to forget for ever my harshness towards you, for,
from this day, I shall not be a tyrant to you, as I have hitherto been,
but a brother to my good and gentle Teresa!"

Saying this, Don Suero opened his arms and clasped the Infanta to his
breast, with a seeming tenderness, which filled the sweet girl with
pleasure.

She endeavoured to speak, but could not, for the excitement of joy
smothered her voice. If at that moment Guillen had come to the door of
the chamber, he would have blessed God for having granted to him the
felicity of being loved by that angel, whose heart was overflowing with
affection and tenderness. For, when the noble maiden exhibited such
affection for her executioner, what would it not be for the kind-hearted
youth who loved, who adored her with the purest affection and the most
reverent adoration that a man can offer to a human creature.

Teresa was not able to express to her brother by means of words the
gratitude, the tenderness, and the joy which filled her heart, but a
kiss, which her lips imprinted on the cheek of Don Suero, spoke for her.

"My sister," continued the count, still in an affectionate tone of
voice, "until I saw you in danger, until you were absent from me, I did
not really know how much I loved you. Until one loses a thing, he often
does not recognise its value; whilst your sweet voice, your tenderness,
and your cares for me, soothed my troubles, and made life more
tolerable--a life constantly tortured, I know not how, whether by a
fatal destiny that thwarts all my plans, that constantly opposes my
will, and makes me hateful even in the eyes of those most disposed to
indulgence and affection; whilst I enjoyed this blessing, I did not know
how to appreciate it; but as soon as I was deprived of it, I understood
its value, and constantly lamented its loss. You cannot know, my sister,
how much I felt your absence, how I longed for your return, what anxiety
on your account drove my sleep away, whilst you were in the power of the
bandits. Every moment I feared either that a dagger might be plunged in
your breast, or that some villain might treacherously stain the purity
of the angel, whose custody the most tender and holy of women confided
to me when she went to heaven."

"Oh, may God bless you, brother!" exclaimed Teresa, at last recovering
her speech, as if God had come to her aid when she wished to praise her
mother; "God bless you, brother, for speaking thus of her who gave us
our being, and for so reverencing her memory! What will not be her
pleasure in looking down from heaven on the love you manifest for me! Do
you remember her last words, brother, do you remember them? 'Love each
other,' she said; 'let you, my son,' she added, looking towards you,
'watch over your sister; be her guide, her shield; for she is weak, and
has no one in the world but you to protect her!' We both then knelt down
by the bedside, and the last words she heard was the solemn promise we
made to follow her counsels and fulfil her wishes."

"Yes, my sister, I remember the last words of our mother; perhaps I have
forgotten them for a long time; but I repent of that forgetfulness, and
wish to expiate my fault, and give back to you that affection which I
have denied you; loving you henceforth, and, if necessary, sacrificing
my life for your happiness."

"Oh, my brother," exclaimed the Infanta, "how can I ever repay you for
those dear promises?"

"With your love, Teresa, with your love, and with the cancelling from
your memory of any cruelty with which I may have hitherto treated you.
From this day you shall be absolute mistress of this castle, and even I
will submit with pleasure to your commands. Mention to me the dueñas and
the maidens you wish to attend on you, the servants you desire to have
at your orders, and from this very night they shall be ready to obey
you."

"Those who have hitherto waited on me, my brother, will be sufficient."

Teresa believed that the occasion had presented itself to speak of
Guillen, to justify in the eyes of her brother the preference she
intended to show him, and to heighten the good opinion which Don Suero
already had of him. Her cheeks, however, became covered with blushes,
for the maiden had never concealed her real feelings, but now she felt
herself obliged to do so, and was fearful lest her words might reveal
them to her brother; she ventured to say, nevertheless, endeavouring to
conceal her agitation--

"The good Elvira is sufficient to attend to me; but as years have
deprived her, to a great extent, of her hearing, I cannot pass,
conversing with her, the long winter evenings, and I would wish that
Guillen might sometimes keep me company; you know how pleasant his
conversation usually is, always brightened with narratives which his
natural cleverness has enabled him to treasure up, and which he knows
how to make very entertaining."

"Well, then, sister, although Guillen is very useful to me, you can have
him with you as often as you desire, for indeed that youth is not only
the most discreet of our servants, but also the most loyal and
noble-hearted."

"Oh, if you only knew, my brother, the proofs of devotion and loyalty
which he gave me during our sojourn with the bandits! If you only knew
the cares he lavished on me, with what assiduity he guarded me whilst I
slept, with what solicitude he endeavoured to lessen the privations I
had to endure, and above all, with what self-forgetfulness, with what
bravery, in short, he shed his blood to defend me from one of the
bandits! Oh, my brother, Guillen is the son of an humble man, but the
heart of a cavalier beats in his breast."

Teresa stopped, fearing that if she continued to praise the page thus,
she might go farther than it was prudent to do.

"Do you say, Teresa, that Guillen shed his blood for you?" asked Don
Suero, much astonished.

"Yes; one night we were watching together in a dilapidated tent, which
the bandits had allotted to us, when one of those men entered it, and
commanded Guillen to leave him alone with me; but the faithful page
answered, that rather than do so, he would lose his life by my side. A
terrible fight then took place between Guillen and the bandit, and I
was saved, but the dagger of our persecutor wounded the hand which was
defending me."

"Oh, thanks, thanks, my good page, my good friend, for that is the name
I shall give him henceforth!" exclaimed Don Suero, with a seeming
tenderness and enthusiasm which increased very much the happiness of
Teresa.

"My sister," added the count, "both of us have need of repose, for it is
near midnight. You have not slept well for a long time, and I may almost
say the same of myself, for the thoughts of the dangers that menaced you
drove slumber from me."

The count then quitted the chamber of Teresa, having embraced her
affectionately. He proceeded to the place where Guillen was awaiting his
orders, and extending his hand to him, he said--

"Guillen, my friend, thanks for your loyalty. My sister has just related
to me all that you did for her, and I shall know how to recompense you.
From to-day it is my desire that you should always be at the orders of
the Infanta. Go to her apartments before retiring to rest, and see if
she has any commands for you."

The page felt himself almost wild with joy. He could not find words to
reply to his master, for all appeared too poor to express his gratitude,
but went off at once to her apartments, his head almost turned with the
delight he felt.

Had it not been for the habit he had acquired of respectfully calling
out the name of the Infanta on approaching her rooms, he would have
allowed himself to be borne away by the gladness which was intoxicating
him, by that species of madness with which he was possessed; he would
have approached Teresa, pouring forth the most affectionately familiar
names that the vocabulary of love contains. As he approached the
chamber, in very high spirits, he was evidently on the point of doing
so, but he checked himself, and only said, on entering the chamber--

"My lady, the count has sent me to receive your orders."

However, Teresa made him a familiar sign to come near her; then Guillen
abandoned his gravity, at once approached the maiden, and said to her--

"Oh, how happy I am, Teresa--how happy! To be always by your side, to
see you at all hours!"

"Yes, Guillen, yes," interrupted the Infanta. "The finger of God has
touched the heart of my brother. How happy we are, Guillen!" And she
added, with the smile of a child who amuses itself with other children,
"Let us now be content with the happiness that we have already
experienced, for there will be time enough to enjoy that which smiles on
us from all sides."

"Yes, Teresa, yes, my angel," murmured the page in a low voice, "let us
retire to rest, for when the heart is full of love there is happiness in
sleep. Go to your rest, my love, lulled to sleep by the happiness which
will lull me to sleep also."

And the happy lovers parted from each other.

Teresa did not send for Elvira to undress her, as she was in the habit
of doing, for she desired to be alone, entirely alone, in order to give
herself up unreservedly to her happy thoughts. She knelt down and
prayed, thanking God for the joy which she experienced, with as much
fervour and earnestness as a saint could have shown if the gates of
heaven, in a divine vision, had been opened before him.

She then retired to her bed, and in a very short time was in a deep
sleep.

The count was also sleeping--but let us not approach his couch, for the
angel of purity does not repose in it, for it is profaned by unholy
love. Let us approach that of Guillen or that of Teresa--let us only
approach that of the latter, for the chaste love which sleeps in the one
also sleeps in the other.

Teresa was dreaming of Guillen.

Guillen was dreaming of Teresa.

There is scarcely anyone in the world who has not dreamed, some time or
other, that the bonds of love united him to a being who until then had
been indifferent to him, and on awaking, and for some time after, had
thought with delight on that being, and where formerly he had seen only
an ordinary individual who awoke no feelings in his soul, now sees a
being surrounded with enchantment and poetry. How many constant, ardent
loves, fruitful of joys and sorrows, have had their birth in a dream!

Well, then, if the being who has been always indifferent to us, and to
whom we do not owe sacrifices of love, appears in dreams surrounded with
enchantment, ideality, and poesy, how must not that being appear to us
whom we have long loved, and who loves us sincerely, who has exposed his
life to save us; who is our only hope in this world; who physically and
morally has so many claims on our love, and appears to our eyes
surrounded with so many charms? Such was the case of Teresa in regard to
Guillen.

How beautiful, how sweet, how celestial, if it is right to employ that
word to express complete earthly happiness, was the dream which
presented itself to the Infanta of Carrion immediately on her falling
asleep, picturing to her the last loving words of Guillen! She dreamt
that she was in an enchanted land, in a paradise; light, flowers,
perfumes, harmonies, palaces of gold and diamonds surrounded her; there
men and women had the bodies of angels, and also the souls of angels;
there were neither masters nor servants in that beautiful place, neither
oppressed nor oppressors, for the will of one was the will of all; there
was a common soul-feeling amongst them, as there is a common atmosphere
for all living beings; there the sky was ever blue and calm, and the sun
was never clouded; there the verdure of the fields, and the colour, and
the freshness, and the perfume of the flowers were eternal; there the
birds always sang, but their music was ever sweet and in delicious
harmony, like the harps of the seraphim; there no serpent hissed, and no
wild animal lurked in the thickets; there the feet of the wayfarers were
not wounded by thorns or brambles; there storms did not rage, the sun
did not parch the ground, and the frost, snow, and biting blasts of
winter did not benumb; there the trees were ever laden with scented
blossoms and delicious fruits; and there, in the midst of that land of
enchantment, of that heaven, she and he lived, the two beloved of each
other, Guillen and Teresa, and their love was so great, and their
happiness so immense, that they almost feared to excite the envy of the
inhabitants of that paradise, all happy, all lovers, all intoxicated
with boundless and endless delights. And that sweet dream, marvellously
like to one which had presented itself also to Guillen at the same time,
bound Teresa in calm sleep, until she was aroused from it by the songs
of the birds and the bright morning light, entering through the window,
which in her happiness she had forgotten to close.



CHAPTER XXVIII

HOW THE COUNT OF CABRA SANG A BALLAD FOR THE COUNT OF CARRION


Very few conspiracies were worked out in Castile and Leon without Don
Garcia, Count of Cabra, having taken part in them as the chief plotter,
for, in order to obtain employment on such occasions, he had versed
himself thoroughly in such matters.

Don Garcia had formerly possessed a rich seigniory in Andalusia, as its
name indicated. As this district of Cabra was very much coveted by the
Moors, and as their territories lay adjacent to it, their attacks
consequently were very much to be dreaded; as the count was a coward and
powerful at the same time, his possessions were defended by strong
fortresses and numerous men-at-arms. These circumstances had prevented
the Moors from attacking them, even after Don Garcia had become their
owner through the death of his father, who, with a handful of soldiers
and fortifications by no means strong, had repulsed on repeated
occasions the expeditions which they had organised against him. They,
believing that the son had inherited the valour of his father, and
seeing that he had better means of defence than the late count, thought
it useless to renew their attacks; however, the effeminate kind of life
which Don Garcia led and the circumstance of his never being seen in
combats, as all other Christian cavaliers were, soon made them
understand that Don Garcia was only heir to his father's name and
estates; they therefore got together a large body of men and entered the
territory of Cabra.

The vassals of the count and the soldiers, who garrisoned the
fortifications on the frontiers, defended themselves bravely; but, as
Don Garcia did not send them aid,--having kept the main body of his men
in the town, the most important place in his seigniory, fearful for his
personal safety,--they yielded chiefly on account of the desperation and
anger which the conduct of the count caused them, and the Moors advanced
as far as the town of Cabra.

That town was surrounded by good walls, had a strong castle, and
fortifications capable of sustaining a long siege; nevertheless, Don
Garcia abandoned it precipitately, with his family, without even an
arrow having been discharged.

He went to Castile, and established his residence in Burgos, where he
had some property; accustomed, however, to ostentation and extravagant
living, it was not long before he had sold all he possessed, and soon
found himself, if not in a state of misery, at least surrounded by
privations such as he had never before experienced, and which were
insupportable to him. Another cavalier, with more courage than the
count, would have collected together a sufficient number of adventurous
soldiers, who were abundant at that epoch; would have proceeded to one
of the provinces in the power of the Moors; would have fought against
them, and perhaps regained his patrimony. Don Garcia, however, would
have preferred to die in misery rather than fight, face to face, and arm
to arm, against either Moors or Christians.

He had hopes of getting his son, Nuño Garciez, married to some rich
maiden of Castile or Leon, and until such hope could be realised, he
subsisted on the payments he received from many grandees, who had great
confidence in his cleverness and in the cunning which he knew well how
to employ in the planning and carrying out of their schemes and
conspiracies. This, then, had become the almost constant occupation of
Don Garcia.

His son Nuño was still very young at the period of which our story
treats, and his heart was just as effeminate and cowardly as that of his
father. The latter, however, possessed a genius for intrigue, which
quality was wanting in Nuño; he was stupid, he was but a puppet whom his
father used for his own purposes, he had no will of his own, and he was
looked on with contempt by his equals in rank.

Don Garcia had solicited for his son the hand of the Infanta of Carrion,
but Don Suero had refused it, not on account of the personal
disadvantages of Nuño, for in his eyes such things were of little
moment, but because avarice was a passion which dominated him,--why
should he consent to the marriage of his sister with the son of the
Count of Cabra, who was not the owner of a square foot of ground?

Don Suero had often thought of having recourse to Don Garcia, in order
that he might obtain his aid in a conspiracy against his enemies, and
especially against Rodrigo Diaz; but he had always hesitated to do so,
feeling that the return for his services, which the Count of Cabra would
demand, would be the hand of Teresa for his son.

The fame of the cavalier of Vivar was increasing rapidly and in the
same proportion were the hostile feelings between him and Don Suero
becoming more bitter; the latter considered, therefore, that the time
had arrived when he should take some decisive step, in order to clip the
wings of one who was soaring so high, as Guillen had said; for, if he
did not do so, he felt that his own ruin was not very far remote.

Four-and-twenty hours after the departure from Carrion of Gonzalo, the
messenger of the count, with a letter for Don Garcia, the latter arrived
at the gates of the castle, accompanied by the same Gonzalo and some
well-armed attendants, whom he always kept about him, and whom he paid
handsomely for acting as his guards, as he knew well that such
protection was necessary for him.

Don Suero was in the company of Teresa, with whom he was chatting
affectionately, when the arrival of Don Garcia was announced to him. The
joy of the count was as great as the dismay of Teresa. She was ignorant
of the fact that he had solicited her hand for Nuño, but, nevertheless,
the presence of the Count of Cabra in the castle filled her with
forebodings and fear; for, as the reader already knows, she had learned
much concerning him, and knew that his visit to her brother could not be
for any good purpose.

Don Suero hastened to receive Don Garcia, so much the more pleased as he
had feared that the refusal of Teresa's hand to his son might have
prevented his coming. A short time after he had left his sister's
chamber, he and his guest were together in a private apartment, where
they could not be overheard by anyone.

"I thank you, Don Garcia, for having come so promptly to honour my house
by your presence," said Don Suero, intending to secure the goodwill of
the Count of Cabra by the friendliness and softness of his accents.

"It is I who am honoured," answered Don Garcia, "and you will not doubt
how honoured I feel at being with you, if you remember how much I
desired that we might be united, not alone by the bonds of friendship,
but also by those of relationship."

Don Suero knew that the count had not abandoned his old pretensions;
however, as he only intended to accede to them when he could accomplish
his ends by no other means, he thought it better to pretend not to hear
the allusion of Don Garcia, and said--

"What news has been received from Zamora?"

"Very satisfactory tidings for the friends of the cavalier of Vivar have
come to Burgos; not only has Don Fernando conferred great honours on
him, but also rich tributes have been sent to him by Abengalvon and the
four other Moorish kings who were taken prisoners by him in the battle
of the Oca Mountains. I assure you that this news has pained me not a
little, as, De Vivar being your enemy, his great success must be
exceedingly disagreeable to you: as your friend I cannot but deplore the
triumphs of your enemy."

"I am thankful to you, Don Garcia, for your devotion and friendship; but
do you only deplore the rise of Rodrigo because it militates against me?
Have you no other motives for hating him?"

"What other motives could I have?"

"It is strange, my lord count, that in this matter you have so little
foresight when in all others you forecast events so well. Do you not
belong to the most illustrious nobility of Castile?"

"Yes, and that confers such honour on me that I can never forget the
fact."

"Well, then, in a very short time the most noble and powerful grandees
of Castile and Leon will be at the side of De Vivar, as your squire is
at yours; in a short time De Vivar will regard only as vassals those who
to-day are greater than he is; soon the king, Don Fernando himself, will
be ruled by that audacious and haughty soldier, to whom he now dispenses
so many favours, never thinking that he is cherishing the raven which
will pick out his eyes. And do you not think, Don Garcia, that it is
your duty to curb this wild steed, which threatens to trample down you,
as well as so many others? Do you believe that De Vivar, to whom even
the king is inferior in pride and ambition, will not consider himself
greater than you, and consequently will humiliate you under his feet?"

"De Vivar, if he is not my friend, is also not my enemy," replied Don
Garcia, the words of Don Suero not having changed in the least his
habitual calmness; and he added, with a smile, slightly sarcastic: "Does
it appear to you that it is fitting for one good cavalier, as I consider
myself to be, to envy the good fortune of another cavalier, much less to
injure one who has never done me a wrong? Let that be for you, good
count, let you thwart the plans of De Vivar, as you are his mortal
enemy, on account of insults which one who prides himself on being a
noble and a cavalier should never forget. I, far from disapproving of
the enmity you bear to Don Rodrigo, and your intention to endeavour to
prevent his rise, sincerely applaud it. If I were in your position, I
would wage a war, without truce, against De Vivar; I would sacrifice my
repose, my property, even my life, to the avenging of my honour,--for it
must be confessed that you have been cruelly outraged by Rodrigo Diaz.
Who in Castile and Leon does not remember the proclamations he caused to
be posted about, branding you as a coward and a felon? Go through the
country places and the towns of Castile, and you will hear the people
singing gentle ballads, in which those proclamations of De Vivar are
amplified and improved on"--

"Cease, Don Garcia, be silent, for the fire of hell is burning in my
breast!" exclaimed Don Suero, stamping so violently on the floor that it
vibrated.

"Pardon me," continued Don Garcia, "but as your friend, knowing that you
do not often go far from your castle, and therefore are ignorant of what
is said of you, I thought it well to inform you, so that you might take
steps to punish the offenders. If you had travelled hither with me from
Burgos you could have heard the rustics chanting the ballads I have
mentioned. Just listen, in order that you may have some idea of the
malice of the Castilian peasants; listen to what I heard sung shortly
after I left Burgos."

And the count repeated, in that monotonous and melancholy chant with
which the women of Castile lull their infants to sleep--


  "In Carrion, in its Castle,
  At his dinner seated,
  Was its owner, Don Suero,
  That disloyal count.
  Pages, elegant and young,
  Served to him his cup,
  And in the polished cup
  Was wine to make him drunk.
  The count is fond of wine,
  But dreads to shed his blood."


"Earth, earth! Open and bury me in your depths!" roared Don Suero,
writhing as if he were suffering the torments of the damned. "Be silent,
Don Garcia! I would throw myself from this window, or plunge a dagger
into my heart, if it were not necessary to live in order to bury it in
the breasts of those who thus calumniate me and scoff at me."

"I like to see you thus, enraged when insulted," said the Count of
Cabra, clasping the hand of Don Suero, whose veins had swelled to such
an extent that they appeared as if they were about to burst; whose eyes
were injected with blood, and from whose mouth foam was oozing, as from
that of an infuriated wild beast,--"thus do I like to see you, enraged
and not resigned."

And Don Garcia continued--


  "Envoys, sent by Don Rodrigo,
  Castile's bravest cavalier,--
  Born in a lucky hour,
  Fearing no one in the world,--
  Then announced to him their message,
  And these words to him they spake:
  'Don Suero, brave Rodrigo,
  The good cavalier of Vivar,
  Calls you forth, for having libelled
  Him; for having called him coward.
  If you don't accept his challenge,
  Cavalier no more are you.
  Buckle on the spur no longer,
  Never mount again a charger,
  Eat no white bread at your table,
  Ne'er divert yourself with ladies.'

  'Now depart from this, ye envoys,
  Bear the message to your master,
  That he may do as he pleases;
  On the field I shall not meet him.'
  Thus then spake Count Don Suero,
  That disloyal cavalier;
  And he turned to his pages,
  To receive his sparkling cup;
  For the count is fond of wine,
  But he is not fond of blood."


"Ah! they say that I am not fond of blood! I shall make that of those
rustics flow in torrents," cried the Count of Carrion, infuriated, mad
with anger. "Tell me, who are those that dare to insult me with such
accursed ballads?"

"All the peasants of Castile are constantly singing that which you have
just heard. Judge how often I must have listened to it, when my memory
retains it, and I have not, indeed, a good memory for such things. But
it is not the rustics alone who revile and mock you; it would be as
unjust and difficult to chastise them as the echo which repeats the
words of a calumniator. Return insult for insult to De Vivar, humiliate
him as he has humiliated you, and you will see how those very same
rustics will call you in a short time--


  "'The bravest cavalier,
  Born in a lucky hour,
  Fearing no one in the world.'"


"Yes, yes, you are right; my vengeance must fall on De Vivar, for he is
my real enemy, my persecutor, my fate, my evil genius. But how shall I
be able to conquer him? How can I humble him? How can I throw back in
his teeth the ignominy which he has heaped on me?"

"Why? can you not bind on your sword; does not the heart of a knight
beat in your breast? Fight with him as the bandits have fought with
those who, at the Inn of the Moor, were bearing a maiden off from them;
fight with him as Don Gome de Gormaz, as Martin Gonzalez, the Aragonian,
fought with him"--

Don Suero trembled at this recalling to his mind of the valour of
Rodrigo, which Don Garcia saw with much satisfaction, and replied,
interrupting the Count of Cabra--

"I would do so, if God had given to my arm as much strength as He has
given to my heart; but the bad health, which constantly darkened my
youth, and which still afflicts me, has not permitted me to perfect
myself in the use of arms, so as to be a match for De Vivar, who, thanks
not to his heart, but to his strength and skill, is able to unhorse an
adversary with a stroke of his lance."

The Count of Cabra smiled, not so much at the puerile excuse of Don
Suero, as with satisfaction at seeing that the road was being made easy
which would lead him to the accomplishment of his desires.

"Certainly," he replied, "De Vivar, fighting against you in the lists,
would have that advantage; but there is another kind of contest, more
safe, and allowable to a cavalier whose natural incapacity to avenge his
honour with sword and lance has been taken advantage of in order to
insult him. Where the sword cannot reach, cunning can, my good count."

"I understand you, Don Garcia, I understand you, and I am resolved to
follow your advice; but do you think that I would be victorious in such
a fight?"

"If you carry it out dexterously, I have no doubt of it."

"But how can I plot cleverly, when that kind of thing is new to me? I
am wanting in friends to assist me, and De Vivar has many such."

"You say that you are wanting in friends?"

"The only person to whom I can give that name is you, Don Garcia, and
you have refused me your aid several times when I asked you to help me
in such a struggle as you now advise."

"I never refused you my aid, Don Suero; the only thing I did was to ask
from you a hostage, so that I could depend on your silence in case our
plans might fail; and if you now desire my assistance you must give me
that hostage."

"Don Garcia, my family would be much honoured by being united to yours,
for you are as noble as a king, although you have been unfortunate; but
my sister is still but a child, both on account of her age and of her
natural fragility. And besides, to marry her would be but to kill her,
for she desires either to live and die by my side or to go into a
convent. If you only knew, Don Garcia, how I love her, how sad my life
would be without her, you would praise me for not wishing to force her
will. I was still a beardless youth when both of us were left orphans,
and from that time she has been my only comfort, and I hers."

"When the Infanta is the wife of my son, you will both cease to be
orphans, for in me and in my wife, Doña Elvira, she and you will find
parents as affectionate as those whom you have lost."

"I appreciate, as I should, the desire which animates you; however,
respect the feelings of that poor girl, very unhappy on account of her
sad disposition and her delicate constitution."

"Measure by the love that you have for your sister that which I feel for
my son, and you need not be surprised that I desire to procure for Nuño
the peace of mind that he has lost since the time he first saw Doña
Teresa, and heard both cavaliers and peasants speaking so highly of her
virtues and good sense."

"I cannot do less than extol the feelings which move you to ask for your
son the hand of my sister," said Don Suero, though now almost certain
that he would never be able to obtain the assistance of the Count of
Cabra, except at the price of the hand of Teresa, "but it is impossible
to comply with your wishes."

"And it is also impossible for me to make known to you an excellent plan
for freeing yourself from De Vivar."

"Tell me, Don Garcia, what that plan is, and in exchange demand from me
my treasures, demand from me"--

"The hand of your sister. I desire nothing more; I want nothing more."

"Oh, this miserable fate of mine! Can I not advance a step without
losing a portion of my heart? Let De Vivar come, let all my enemies
come, and tear life from me; for then the torments I suffer will cease."

"Yes, De Vivar will come, your enemies will come, but they will leave
you your life, that you may spend it dishonoured, a fugitive, without a
spot of land on which to place your feet, without a hut to shelter you,
with scarcely a piece of bread to put into your mouth. And then your
sister, that delicate girl whom you love so much, will die of grief, of
exposure, of hunger, or will marry some peasant, in order to secure an
existence for herself. Do you perchance consider yourself powerful
enough to continue despising De Vivar? Powerful and rich and haughty
were the Count of Gormaz and Martin Gonzalez, and notwithstanding they
died at his feet,--and that when Rodrigo was neither as skilful nor as
strong as he now is; he had not then kings as his vassals."

"Well, then, Don Garcia," interrupted at this point Don Suero, "my
sister shall be the wife of your son if Rodrigo Diaz ceases to live, or,
at the least, if he is banished from Castile and Leon."

"He shall die, he shall die; have no doubts of that, Don Suero,"
exclaimed the Count of Cabra, embracing De Carrion, full of joy; and he
added, "Are you quite sure, however, that your sister will consent to a
marriage with my son?"

"My sister," replied Don Suero, "shall do my will; and if not, let her
beware."

And whilst poor Teresa, the gentle, loving girl, was in her apartment
with Guillen, dreaming of a paradise of love, those two cowards, with
souls of chaff and hearts of flint, were plotting her slavery, and also
a vile plan for the assassination of Rodrigo, the most perfect cavalier
of Castile, the good knight, the conqueror, he who was born in a lucky
hour, he who in a fortunate hour girt on his knightly sword.



CHAPTER XXIX

HOW THE KING AND RODRIGO, HAVING SAID GOOD PRAYERS, GAVE GOOD SWORD
STROKES


The king, Don Fernando, having left the works for the rebuilding of
Zamora in a forward state, was preparing to return to Burgos, where he
intended to devote himself exclusively to the improvement of the laws,
of agriculture, and of the arts, taking advantage of the tranquillity
that reigned in his kingdoms, and desirous of ameliorating many
grievances in them, as such had been rather increasing for some time
back.

Before returning to Burgos, he desired to go to Compostela, with the
object of visiting the shrine of the holy Apostle James. When Rodrigo,
just as he was about to leave that last-named city, learned the king's
intention, having finished his devotions, he determined to await the
king there, in order to accompany him on his journey to Burgos.

Don Fernando arrived in due course at Compostela, and for some days
devoted himself with much fervour to pious exercises, for he was as good
a Christian as he was a brave warrior. He was solacing himself with the
hope of soon being in the bosom of his family, when the Moors of
Portugal unexpectedly broke the peace which they had arranged with Don
Fernando, crossing the frontiers of the Christian districts, and
committing various kinds of outrages.

Don Fernando felt that he must sacrifice his personal tranquillity to
the protection of his subjects, and to the punishment of the infidels,
who, if he did not arrest their progress, would become more daring, and
extend their depredations farther. He asked advice from Don Rodrigo and
other cavaliers, and all, especially the latter, counselled war.

That, therefore, was decided on. The king and Rodrigo Diaz collected
together in a few days an army sufficiently large, and set out for
Portugal, with the determination of attacking the first Moorish castle
which they might find on their route; for this purpose they had provided
themselves with good materials of war.

Near Monzao they overtook a large body of infidels who were hastening
back to Portugal with the rich booty that they had seized in the
district of Tuy, and routed them completely, taking back from them all
the plunder which they had possessed themselves of. Don Fernando
divided it amongst his troops, and this inspirited the Christian army to
such an extent, that it followed the track of the comparatively few
Moors who had escaped from the battle, and who, under the command of the
Alcaide[1] of Cea, had succeeded in taking refuge in the castle in that
town.

[1] Governor of a castle or fort.

The Castle of Cea was very strong, was well garrisoned, and provided
with provisions sufficient to bear a long siege; for these reasons Don
Fernando believed that an attempt to take it would result in a loss both
of time and men. However, as such obstacles were only incentives to the
courage of the Cid, for by that name Rodrigo was now known, he believed
that the Christian army should not pass on farther without giving a
fresh proof of its power by destroying that first bulwark of the
Moslems.

"Sire," said Rodrigo to the king, "I am about to ask a favour of you,
which I trust you will grant."

"Speak, Rodrigo," replied Don Fernando, "for you already know how
desirous I am to gratify you."

"The favour I ask of you is, that you will permit me, this very day, to
plant the Christian standard with my own hands on the walls of the
Castle of Cea."

"O good Cid, who is there but must love you as the best cavalier in the
world!" exclaimed Don Fernando, clasping him to his breast. "With a
hundred knights like you, I would undertake to drive the Moors, not
alone from Portugal, but from all Spain. It is not idle talk when the
people say that you were born in a lucky hour! I applaud your valour,
Rodrigo; my heart swells and rejoices when I hear you thus speak; but
you know that the enterprise which you desire to undertake is very
difficult."

"Sire, it is in difficult and useful enterprises that glory is to be
found. In this castle have taken refuge those who have pillaged and laid
waste a considerable portion of your states, and they must not remain
unpunished. Pardon me if I speak with more heat than is seemly before my
lord and king, but Rodrigo Diaz would rather break his sword into
fragments than be within a few bow-shots of the Moors and not come to
close quarters with them. Let them but see that we do not take into
consideration whether their walls are strong or weak, and the terror
that will seize on them shall serve us better than our weapons. The same
feeling is widespread amongst those under my command, who desire to be
the first to prove to the infidels that there are no Moors capable of
resisting Castilian arms."

"Well, then, Rodrigo, let us attack and conquer this fortress," replied
Don Fernando, full of hope and joy. "Then let us hasten on to Viseo and
other strongholds, and let us not return to Castile till we have freed
Portugal completely from the Moslem domination."

Preparations were then immediately made for the siege of the castle. In
a few hours it was attacked and defended with extreme obstinacy. The
Moors discharged clouds of projectiles from the walls, causing terrible
carnage amongst the besiegers. The battering-rams, which the latter
worked unweariedly, did not move a stone, for the walls of Cea were
extremely solid. The Cid, and those under his command, who fought in the
most advanced position, were burning with impatience, seeing that the
time for dashing at the fortress was delayed so long.

"To the assault! To the assault!" cried the Cid, full of ardour and
courage.

"To the assault!" cried all who were fighting by his side.

But just as they were preparing to put ladders against the walls, a
large portion of one of them crashed down, dislodged by a terrible blow
from a more powerful battering-ram, which had been constructed when it
was found that those which they had been using were inefficient.

"St. James of Compostela!" thundered the Cid. "To the walls! To the
walls, my good cavaliers!"

And snatching from the hands of its bearer the standard of Castile and
Leon, he clambered up the ruins of the wall, it in one hand, and his
sword in the other, followed by many cavaliers as brave as himself.

Blood ran in torrents. The Moors fought with desperation, concentrating
almost all their forces on that point; but all was in vain, for the Cid
pressed onward, trampling Moslem corpses under his feet, and at last
gained the highest part of the wall. There he planted the Christian
standard, crying out with resounding voice--

"Cea for Don Fernando!"

This triumph, achieved by the company of the Cid, lent new courage to
the besiegers, and struck terror into the besieged. In a short time the
castle was assaulted at many other places, and the cross was substituted
everywhere for the crescent. The Castle of St. Martin and others were
taken by the army of Don Fernando shortly after the conquest of Cea. The
name of the Cid resounded in all directions, filling the Moors with
terror; and the brave cavalier, becoming every day more daring, every
day more desirous of seeing the holy cross where the crescent hitherto
dominated, proposed to the king the siege of Viseo, the only place of
importance which the Mahometans still held in Portugal.

"Sire," said Rodrigo to Don Fernando, "your health and your age demand
quiet and rest after such severe labours. If a vassal may be allowed to
give advice to his lord, I would counsel you to retire to Coimbra, which
is a populous and rich town, and where you will find, therefore, all the
conveniences and comforts which you have been accustomed to enjoy in
Leon or in Burgos. I am a young man, and therefore must not let my arm
get out of practice. Leave to my charge the siege and assault of Viseo,
and, God aiding me, it shall be yours within fifteen days."

"It is certain," said Don Fernando, "that my health is much impaired,
and years are coming on me more rapidly than I should wish. If I were
younger, you and I together would soon drive the Moorish power beyond
the Strait into Africa. My heart, however, beats and grows young again
when I see you fighting. We shall first subjugate Viseo, and then we
shall go together to take some repose in Coimbra, which place I am
desirous to see, as I am fond of it, if it were only because it cost me
a seven-months' siege to subdue it."

"That which pleases you also pleases me, sire," replied Rodrigo, seeing
with joy, and being much moved by, the warlike ardour which animated the
king.

Two days after, the town of Viseo was surrounded.

In vain did the battering-rams exert all their force against the walls,
for they were extremely solid; in vain were ladders brought up in order
to take the castle by assault, for the battlements were crowded with
crossbow-men who rained down their arrows on all who approached the
walls. Three times had the Cid taken up the standard of Castile and
Leon, as at the escalade of Cea, and had endeavoured to mount the wall;
but each time he had to fall back, seeing those about him killed, and
himself preserved almost miraculously.

It was past midnight. Don Fernando had ordered the assault to be
suspended, in order that he might deliberate with his captains, and
particularly with the Cid, as to the precautions that should be taken
in order to prevent the sacrifice of so many men-at-arms, and as to the
best means for bringing the enterprise to a successful issue. They had
demanded from its defenders the surrender of the stronghold, threatening
that all would be put to the sword if they did not deliver themselves up
by a certain day. That day had arrived, and the besieged still continued
to defend it.

A Moor who was one of the sentinels on the battlements let himself down
on the outer side of the wall, and, making his way to the royal tent of
Don Fernando, asked to be brought into his presence. He was carefully
examined, lest he might have concealed weapons, wherewith to commit some
act of treachery, and, none having been found, he was brought before the
king.

"Sire," he said to Don Fernando, "I believe it is your intention to take
this place by storm and put all the inhabitants to the sword; I have a
wife and children, whom I love, and in order to save them I have become
a traitor to my faith and to my brothers-in-arms. Many years ago an
arrow was shot from these very walls, which killed Don Alfonso, King of
Leon, and the father of your queen; he who shot that arrow is now in
Viseo. If you give me your word to spare my wife, my children, and
myself, I will tell you who"--

"Glorious St. Isadore!" exclaimed Don Fernando, "what do I hear? Can it
be possible that the murderer of the good Don Alfonso--for whom Queen
Sancha still weeps--yet lives? Tell me who the traitor is, tell me his
name, and I promise you, not only to spare yourself and your family, but
also to load you with riches."

"Sire," hastened to answer the Moor, filled with joy, "he is named
Ben-Amet, and is now charged with the defence of the wall of the Mosque;
for, as it is it, above all, that should not fall into your hands, they
have confided its defence to him."

"You are now at liberty either to remain here or to return into the
town," said Don Fernando. "To-morrow we shall enter Viseo; whether you
now go or remain with us, describe the position of your house
accurately, and both it and its occupants shall be respected."

"Opposite the great Mosque there is a detached building with a handsome
frontage; that is my house, sire, and my wife and children are in it."

The Moor retired to a tent, near that of the king, for he did not dare
to return to the town. Shortly afterwards, Don Fernando summoned his
captains and related to them what he had heard.

"We must," said the Cid, "make the assault at daybreak on the wall which
that traitor defends, and all of us shall either take it or die in the
attempt."

Don Fernando held out his hand to Rodrigo Diaz, rejoiced to know that he
had anticipated his own wish.

"Rodrigo," he said, "you always divine what my heart feels. Yes, the
traitor Ben-Amet must expiate with his blood that of Don Alfonso; but we
must economise as much as possible our own. We have already lost very
many brave cavaliers in the assaults which we have attempted, and we
must now endeavour to think of some plan to shelter ourselves to some
extent from the arrows of our enemies."

"Our shields," said the Cid, "are not large enough to protect our bodies
from the arrows of the besieged; it seems to me that it would be a good
plan to enlarge them by attaching to them wooden boards; I heard my
father say that such a thing has been done at times."

"Yes, yes," said the king, "we shall do that."

And as Martin Antolinez, Alvar Minaya, and the other cavaliers who were
present approved, as well as the king, of the plan of the Cid, whose men
were the first that offered to scale the wall of the Mosque, they began
at once to get the shields enlarged in the manner indicated.

At the dawn of day the Cid and his men approached the wall of the Mosque
as quietly as possible, provided with scaling ladders and the enlarged
shields. At a signal, that had been arranged beforehand, the ladders
were placed against the walls; the Moors, however, discovered this, and
began to rain down a shower of arrows. The Christian cavaliers, who
preceded the other scalers of the walls, also cast a large number of
javelins, which caused great slaughter amongst the defenders; however,
as the shields protected the bodies of the besiegers, they did not fall
back, but mounted the ladders, and were very near its summit,
notwithstanding the furious efforts which Ben-Amet and his soldiers used
in order to keep them back.

"St. James of Compostela!" cried the Cid, as at the assault of Cea; all
who followed him repeated the cry with enthusiasm, and all rushed on to
the top of the wall. Then followed a sanguinary fight; horrible,
ferocious, body to body, arm to arm; dead bodies fell in all directions,
blood ran in torrents; those who were guarding other portions of the
walls rushed to the defence, but at last the Christian army pressed
forward into the citadel, through the opening made by the Cid and those
under his command, and Ben-Amet was in the power of Don Fernando.

"Sire," then cried out Rodrigo Diaz, "I ask a favour of you; enough of
blood has already been shed in Viseo, pardon the vanquished, let not our
swords be used against the defenceless inhabitants of the town."

"I grant your request, good Cid," responded Don Fernando. "They shall
not be used; let no one dare to kill man or woman."

The soldiers were preparing to put to the sword the inhabitants of the
place, but refrained, respecting the command of the king.

And then Rodrigo Diaz planted with his own hand the Christian standard
on the walls of Viseo, crying out--

"Viseo for Castile and Leon! Viseo for Don Fernando!"

On that same day the hands of the slayer of Don Alfonso were cut off and
his eyes torn out; he then was put to death with arrows on the very wall
from whence he had shot the regicidal arrow.

The Moors, fearful that Don Fernando would subject the district over
which they still ruled in Portugal, endeavoured to divert his course,
and collecting together a numerous army, in the direction of Elvas, they
marched on through Estremadura, committing still greater outrages than
those which they had practised in Galicia. Don Fernando learned this,
and although he determined to hasten to stem that torrent, he considered
that he should not leave unprotected the districts which he had
subjected; he resolved, therefore, to divide his army, with the object
that half of it should remain in Portugal and that the remainder should
go in pursuit of the invaders.

Rodrigo Diaz, to whom inaction was unbearable, for whom the favourite
position was that which offered the most dangers and fatigues, and who
always anticipated the desires of the king, offered to go in pursuit of
the Moors. Don Fernando accepted his offer, and in a short time the Cid
placed himself at the head of a brave body of men and set out for the
frontiers of Estremadura. The king, in the meantime, well satisfied with
the results of that campaign, and firmly persuaded that Rodrigo would
make the Moors pay dearly for their temerity, made preparations to
visit his dominions in Portugal. His objects were to assure himself, by
personal observation, of the state of public spirit, of the condition of
the fortified places, of the needs of his subjects; and to put in good
order the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of that kingdom.

The progress of Don Fernando from district to district presented
occasions for the most ardent and sincere ovations that had been offered
to him during his long life. The Portuguese, who during very many years
had groaned under the heavy Moslem yoke, blessed and honoured with fêtes
and rejoicings the monarch who had liberated them, and in doing so they
also celebrated the glory of Rodrigo.



CHAPTER XXX

HOW ONE GOOD MAN CAN MAKE A HUNDRED GOOD ALSO


Teresa and Guillen had now been for some days delivered up to their
dreams of love and happiness; it may be said that those days had
liberally indemnified the Infanta for all she had suffered since the
time her mother went to heaven. The joy of her heart was reflected in
her countenance, now as bright and smiling as it was formerly pale and
sad. Her brother continued to lavish on her assiduous attentions and
endearments, and Guillen also experienced the advantages of the
extraordinary change that could be perceived in the conduct of the
count; a change which, as the reader already knows, was assumed in order
to induce Teresa to obey her brother when he would make known to her his
wish that she should bestow her hand on the son of the Count of Cabra.
Don Suero was far from suspecting the love which united the Infanta and
the page; he believed that Teresa had an affection for him, because he
was a loyal servant, who amused her with his pleasant conversation, and
who had guarded her, with fidelity and self-sacrifice, during her
captivity amongst the bandits.

Tidings arrived at Carrion of the victories which the Castilian and
Leonese arms had gained in Portugal, and of the fact that very many,
both nobles and commoners, were hastening from all quarters to join the
army of Don Fernando, some desirous of glory and others of booty.
Guillen then began to think of his condition, considered that this was
the opportune occasion to endeavour to realise his dreams of glory and
advancement, and decided to leave the service of Don Suero, in order to
take part in the Portuguese hostilities, however sorrowful the
separation between him and the Infanta might be. He therefore made known
his resolution to Teresa, and she approved of it, feeling that in it lay
the only hope of the realisation of their love. He then went to inform
the count of his intention, determined to carry it out, whether he
gained the approbation of Don Suero or not.

"My lord," he said to him, "the sacrifice even of my life appears but a
small thing to me, if thereby I can repay all the kindnesses which I
have received from you whilst I have been in your service, and in my
present condition all that I could do to pay that debt would be but
trifling. I am nothing at present, but must become something in the
world's esteem, in order to be of use to your house. The Christian army
is gaining glory and riches in Portugal, and I desire to have a part in
its victories; allow me to depart and enlist in it."

The Count of Carrion smiled at what he considered the foolish hopes of
the page, and said in a tone of kindly expostulation--

"You must be mad, Guillen! Do you imagine that it is an easy thing for a
peasant's son to win the sword and spurs of a knight by means of sword
strokes and lance thrusts, in an army where such are given, right and
left, in abundance? If such only were necessary, the army of Don
Fernando would soon be one consisting of nothing but knights. Rest
content to be what you are, as your birth prevents you from being
anything higher, and as I am well satisfied with you and desire to have
you with me."

"My lord," replied Guillen, "I know that noble blood does not run in my
veins, but in my breast beats a heart that feels the ambition of
becoming noble. I am still but a youth, and am resolved to struggle
boldly to win the nobility which my birth denied to me. If I succeed, my
rise will be the greater in proportion to the low condition from which I
shall have raised myself; if I die, I shall at least have gained some
honour in having sacrificed my life for a worthy and noble ambition."

The enthusiasm and the ardent desire for advancement which the page
manifested were noted by Don Suero. He considered that such feelings
could indeed make the humble page very brave. He considered also that
Guillen was grateful to him; he reflected that he, the Count of Carrion,
was in need of friends, for he had not even the friendship of the
neighbouring townspeople and rustics; and, finally, he came to the
conclusion that the youth might be more useful to him in the army of the
Cid than in his own castle.

"Guillen, my good page," he said to him, holding out his hand
affectionately, "you are more honourable than many who are of noble
birth; there is in you the stuff out of which cavaliers are made;
generous sentiments, which I applaud warmly, animate you. Go then to the
wars, and I will nourish the hope of treating some day as a cavalier him
who had been my servant. I desire that you should bring with you a
memento of him whom you have so loyally served; the bandits have left me
but few horses, but I wish to bestow on you the best that is in my
stables, and also all the arms you require."

"Thanks, my lord, thanks," murmured the page, forgetting all the evil
deeds of the count, and only seeing the generosity which Don Suero
exhibited towards him at that moment.

"Rodrigo Diaz feels enmity with regard to me," continued Don Suero,
"doubtless because he judges me wrongfully, as I have been calumniated
to him; nevertheless, I cannot but acknowledge that he is an honourable
cavalier and a very brave soldier. You must enlist in his army, for at
his side you will learn all that is necessary for both a soldier and a
knight."

The page was astonished to hear Don Suero speak thus of Rodrigo Diaz,
whom, up to that time, he had hated, and of whom he had taken every
opportunity to speak badly in every respect. He considered, however,
that, as the feelings of Don Suero had become so greatly modified
regarding the Infanta, they had also changed with regard to the Cid.

"And when do you think of setting out?" asked the count.

"I should wish to do so this very day, my lord," replied the page; "for,
as I have now obtained your goodwill, I must arrive in Portugal before
the termination of the war against the Moors, and I do not believe it
will last long, to judge by the valour which, it is reported, the
Christian army is displaying."

"Well, then, Guillen, perhaps Doña Teresa will have some message to
confide to you; take leave of her, and depart whenever it suits you."

Guillen went to the apartments of the Infanta, well pleased with the
kindness of the count, but sorrowful because the sad moment was
approaching when he and Teresa should be separated--perhaps for ever.

Their parting was indeed like that of the nail from the flesh, to use
the expressive words of a chronicler of the Cid; and shortly after,
Guillen left the Castle of Carrion, mounted on the spirited steed which
Don Suero had presented to him, and armed with shield and lance.

Just then Bellido Dolfos arrived at the gate of the castle. Guillen
recognised him as one of the captains of the band of the Vengador, for
he had seen him in his camp just before he and Teresa had set out on
their return journey to Carrion, when the last of the bandits who had
been in the power of Don Suero had arrived. Seeing him now enter the
castle caused, therefore, much surprise to Guillen.

Guillen pursued his way towards Portugal, thinking of Teresa and
building castles in the air. He had been riding on for about four hours,
when, on arriving at a wood, almost always deserted, as there was
neither village nor inn throughout that district, he thought he heard
voices in a thicket. He listened, and caught the following words--

"He must be a cavalier, to judge by his horse and arms, as far as I
could take note of them, some way down the road."

"If he were such he would not travel alone through these solitudes."

"Perhaps he has got separated from his followers by accident in this
thick wood."

"Whether he is a cavalier or not, go and advise our chiefs. I will
remain here and keep a close eye on the road. There may perchance come
other men behind him, and 'going for wool we might return shorn.'"[1]

[1] A Spanish proverb.

"I shall do it at once, comrade."

Guillen looked carefully into the wood, and though there was no
brushwood between the trees he could see nothing. Just, however, as it
occurred to him that the speakers might be concealed behind the trunk of
a tree, he saw a man coming out from such a position and running towards
an adjacent glen; he was clad almost exactly like those of the band of
the Vengador. Guillen then knew with what kind of people he had to do:
the Vengador was evidently encamped in that wood, and had placed
sentinels on those high trees. He got into readiness his lance and
shield, in case he might be compelled to use them, and continued his
way. Scarcely, however, had he advanced twenty paces when four horsemen
rode forth from the glen, on a pathway that led from it, and cried out
to him--

"Halt, cavalier!"

"I shall do so if you address me more courteously," replied Guillen,
without obeying their order.

"Now we shall use courtesy towards a very daring individual."

And the bandits, for those men did really belong to the band of the
Vengador, rushed on the ex-page, who received them with the point of his
lance.

Guillen defended himself for a considerable time, giving thrusts, each
of which was worth four of those of the aggressors; in the end, however,
thanks to their numerical superiority, they succeeded in disarming him,
and then dragged him off to the glen.

"You need not fear that we will injure you," said one who appeared to be
the leader. "You have fought like a brave man, and we, although bandits,
are sufficiently honourable to esteem courageous men as they deserve."

And when he who thus spoke saw the face of Guillen, who just then threw
back his hood, he added--

"May Beelzebub take me if that face is not known to me! Confound me! if
we have not taken prisoner no other than the most loyal and attached
servitor of the Count of Carrion."

"I have been such, Sir Vengador, or whatever is your name," replied
Guillen; "but henceforth I intend to serve Don Rodrigo Diaz, or the Cid,
as he is now called. In doing so, I shall also serve Christ and my
country, against whose enemies I am going to fight in Portugal."

"And you will fight well, judging by what we have experienced from you,"
said the Vengador. "I cannot understand how you could have remained so
long in the service of De Carrion, for he is such a wretch that you must
have been very badly treated by him."

"On the contrary, he has always treated me very well; you see my horse
and arms, those are the final proofs of that, for he made me a present
of them. Don Suero was indeed a Don Judas for a long time; but you do
not know that of late he has become quite different."

"Such a conversion astonishes me."

"It is indeed astonishing."

"But I would not trust much in it."

"I trust in it. Do you believe that there are no repentant sinners in
the world?"

"There are such doubtless; but"--

"You who to-day are bandits, might be to-morrow honourable soldiers."

"Certainly, soldiers and bandits are all fighting men; the business of
both one and the other is killing and plundering."

Guillen, who already considered himself a soldier, was not very well
pleased with this comparison.

"They adopt, however, different modes of killing and plundering."

"But the certain fact is that they all kill and plunder."

"I am not going to defend, with bandits, the honourable calling of those
who are not such."

"Well, then, if that does not please you, let us talk of something else.
What has become of your lady, that delicate maiden, whom you took such
good care of when in our camp?"

Guillen, who for a moment had forgotten Teresa, changed colour when she
was mentioned, believing that the bandits were about to profane her
name, mixing it up with some of their coarse jests.

"Do not speak of her," he said, "for only those who are as good as she
is should have her name in their mouths."

"Do you think that we do not respect those who are really good? We know
that the Infanta is so, and far from saying anything against her, we
would cut out the tongue of anyone who dared to speak an ill word of
her. And as a proof, do you not remember what we did to a comrade who
desired to take your place with her in the tent?"

Guillen remembered what the Vengador referred to; he recalled to mind
the way in which the chief of the bandits had acted with regard to
Teresa, conduct rather of a good cavalier than of a bandit; and he
experienced in his heart a feeling of sympathy with the Vengador.

"Yes, yes, I have not forgotten it; and if you demanded my life, I would
give it for you, on account of the noble way you treated my lady."

"Hola! the well-being of the Infanta seems to interest you much! I would
swear that it is not for you a sack of straw"--

Guillen coloured up; the Vengador noticed it, and continued--

"May God preserve me! but it would be a good thing if in Portugal, by
cutting the heads off Moors, you could make yourself worthy of
knighthood and could mount up as easily as a bubble, so that in the end
the Infanta might bestow her hand on you, in order to efface, with its
gentle rubbing, that cicatrice which was left on yours by the dagger of
that fellow whom I have just mentioned."

A peculiar joy shone on the face of the ex-page, as if these words,
which were so much in harmony with his hopes, were the prophecy of a
saint or of a wizard. The Vengador had gained a new claim on the
confidence of Guillen, for with whom does a man more sympathise than
with him who most flatters his inclinations? The youth, however, thought
that he should not disclose that pure love of his which he concealed in
his heart at his departure from Castile.

"Such a ridiculous idea," he said, "has never entered my head. I do love
the Infanta, but all love her, because she is good, because she is
kind-hearted, because she is the holiest of women; I love her, as
brothers love their sisters, and I cannot find any better way to express
to you how I love the Infanta Doña Teresa."

Between a youth and a maiden, not related by the ties of blood, a tender
and pure friendship may exist, but it takes very little to change it
into real love; or rather, such a friendship, in relation to love, is as
the bud to the full-blown rose. The Vengador knew this from personal
experience; he knew, and the reader knows, if his memory or
understanding is not very weak, and they are almost one and the same
thing, a maiden whom he first loved as a sister, and ended by loving as
a sweetheart; for this reason the last words of Guillen convinced him
more and more that the ex-page was in love with the Infanta, although he
would not give the name of love to his feelings regarding her.

And it was the fact that, as Martin and Guillen were both in love, they
longed to speak of their love affairs; each was anxious to make a
confidant of someone who could understand him. Martin had confided to
Rui-Venablos his love for Beatrice, whom he had not seen for a
considerable time; but what did Rui-Venablos understand of love, the
rough soldier who had spent his life on fields of battle, without
feeling affection for anything but his horse and his arms, and whose
ears had never been delighted with more amorous accents than those of
the trumpets which incited him to close with the Moorish ranks, and to
lop off Moorish heads wherewith to adorn Castilian lances?

"But would it not make you happy to marry Doña Teresa?" asked the
Vengador.

"It would make me happier than to be King of Castile and Leon," replied
the ex-page, scarcely knowing what he was saying.

Of course Martin had not now the slightest doubt of Guillen being in
love with the Infanta.

The bandits who accompanied the Vengador, when he dismounted, removed to
some distance from the speakers, whilst their horses went to graze on a
sloping bank, covered with fresh and abundant herbage.

"Go to the glen," said the chief to them, "and hurry on the meal which
we were preparing when we came out to look after this youth; if I want
you meanwhile, I shall send notice to you."

The bandits took their horses by the bridles, and obeyed their chief. He
and Guillen therefore remained alone, as the sentinels stationed amongst
the trees were too far off to hear them.

"Then know, my friend," said Martin, "that I have got to like you since
I saw you in the castle of your master on that accursed night in which
we assaulted it, and noticed your zeal for the interests of the Infanta,
and your courage; your present determination to go to the wars and fight
against the infidels has increased my affection for you. Perhaps you
will learn some day that if I am a bandit by profession, I am not one by
inclination. You love the Infanta; I know it, for it is impossible to
conceal it from me. Learn, then, that I also love a maiden, who, if she
has not noble blood, has a soul as noble as that of Doña Teresa, and I
can make no better comparison. I am dying to speak of my love with
someone who can understand it; but I have not met with such a person
since I became a member of this band. I know that one of my companions,
named Bellido, is in love with a woman whom he has now gone to see; but
I also know that his heart is not like that which beats in my breast."

"You say that Bellido loves a woman?" asked Guillen of Martin,
remembering that he had seen the traitor entering the castle.

"Yes, the woman he loves lives on the Burgos road."

"I should rather believe that she lives in the Castle of Carrion, for I
saw him enter it just as I was departing."

"May the anger of God strike him!" exclaimed Martin, enraged. "Bellido
Dolfos at Carrion! The traitor must be engaged in a plot with the count
to destroy the band! My heart told me that he was a Judas. But are you
quite certain that it was he?"

"As certain as that you are the Vengador," replied Guillen, beginning to
think that the suspicions of the chief of the bandits were well founded,
for he recollected having heard his companions, the servants of the
count, saying that they suspected there was some understanding between
him and Bellido.

"What a fool I have been!" said Martin, striking his head with the palm
of his hand. "How simple I was not to believe in the perfidy of men! I
always looked on it as a delusion of that good Rui-Venablos, when he
often expressed doubts as to the fidelity of Bellido."

"You are a greater fool not to abandon the wretched calling of a
bandit," said Guillen, vexed that a young man like the Vengador should
not have a better profession. "Is it possible, that in times like these,
when infidels fight ceaselessly against the law of Christ, and carry on
plunder and murder in your native land, that a brave, generous, and
enamoured youth like you can be content to remain leader of a band of
highway robbers? I say enamoured, for I cannot understand that, being
so, you should not have the same ambitious aspirations in your mind that
I have in mine."

"I knew well that you were in love with the Infanta," said Martin,
smiling, notwithstanding the vexation and the inquietude which his
suspicions of treachery against Bellido were causing him.

"Well, then, I do love her," replied Guillen, letting himself be drawn
on by the irresistible confidence which Martin inspired him with. "I
love her, and I know that this secret, which I confide to you, will die
with you; I love her, and I must either make myself worthy of her, or
die in the effort. What was I before I felt that love, which has raised
my thoughts higher than the flight of the eagles, which soar above us,
touching with their pinions the azure heights of the heavens? Listen,
Sir Vengador, to what I was then. I was a man who only looked upon the
sky to see if the weather was about to be fair or foul, who only thought
of the sun when it was too burning, or when its heat was pleasant; who
only envied cavaliers because they were better clad and better mounted
than I was; who desired to be rich, because the wealthy regale
themselves with dainty fare and dwell in luxurious mansions; who saw
supreme happiness in a jar of wine, a loaf of white bread, and a good
joint of meat; who in battle saw no pleasure but in personal revenge, no
glory but in the booty captured from the enemy; who in women saw nothing
but women, confounding the love of a loose wench with that of a girl
really good and affectionate; who, on seeing laurel crowns and bouquets
of flowers thrown to the soldiers, returning conquerors from the battle,
said, 'Why should those cavaliers feel so proud at having those laurel
crowns and flowers on their brows, when it is so easy to gather them in
the fields of Castile?' Who often asked himself, 'Why should men trouble
themselves about the good or evil which may be spoken of them after they
are dead? What is this world to those who have ceased to exist? Does not
everything connected with the world die with a man?' Thus was I then; my
soul was as vulgar as that of the commonest of rustics; but as soon as I
began to love the Infanta Doña Teresa, that noble girl lived constantly
in my thoughts, by day and by night, when I was awake and when I slept.
I am not the same, Sir Vengador. It now delights me at all times to gaze
on the sky, for it seems to me that there, amongst those white, fleecy
clouds floating on its azure transparency, is the world which the
Infanta and I dream of every night; the sun of March is as delightful to
me as that of July, for the sun is always beautiful, and I adore beauty,
wherever it may be found, since I have learned to adore the Infanta; I
desire to be noble and rich, that my occupations may be noble, in order
to cast no stain on the Infanta with the feelings which cling to those
who drag themselves along the ground; vengeance and booty appear to me
but trifling pleasures in war; the glory of serving God and Fatherland
is that for which I envy the soldier; it is of it that I am going in
search on the battlefields of Portugal; I see in women something more
than women, I see--I cannot explain it to you, Sir Vengador, but I see
amongst them beings who resemble angels, beings who resemble Teresa;
love which has not its dwelling-place in the soul is disgusting to me,
my heart is all love, all tenderness; it seems to me that one of those
crowns with which I have seen the brows of warriors adorned would make
me mad with pleasure; my reason would almost depart on its touching my
forehead; I would give a hundred lives to win it; I now envy the
happiness of those who, when they die, leave behind them noble memories
which shall never die."

"Young man!" exclaimed Martin, who had listened to Guillen with
enthusiasm and emotion, "give me your hand, even though that of a man,
as honourable as you are, should not clasp that of a bandit."

"My arms, and not my hand, will I give you," said Guillen, pressing the
Vengador to his breast. "I do not judge men according as they appear,
but according to what they are. I know not why you have embraced the
despicable profession of a bandit, but I know that the heart of a
cavalier beats in your breast. No, you cannot be a bandit simply for the
sake of killing and plundering, in order to enrich yourself; some desire
for revenge has induced you to adopt the life which you are leading."

"Yes, yes, a revenge it was," replied Martin, with emotion; "a noble, a
holy revenge--a revenge which I swore over the dead body of my father,
and which I have not yet been able to accomplish. It was it which armed
my right hand with the dagger of a bandit; it was it which changed
Martin, a good, peaceful, inoffensive youth, living in Carrion, into the
terrible Vengador."

And Martin related his story to Guillen, laid bare his heart to him,
just as it was, with the confidence with which one brother relates to
another, on his return from a long journey, all that he has gone
through, all that he has suffered, all that he has enjoyed, all that he
feels; he then concluded, saying--

"Do you now think that I should abandon the revenge for which I pant,
and for which I have hitherto laboured so hard?"

"If you abandoned it, far from falling in my esteem, I would think
vastly more of you; for, according to my way of seeing things, vengeance
is always despicable, is always criminal. However, as custom has
sanctified it up to a certain point, persevere in it for the present;
but, in order to succeed in it, make yourself strong by more noble means
than those of pillage and homicide. If, when you had three hundred men
under your command, you were not able to revenge yourself on your
enemy, how can you expect to do it now, when you have only forty? What
hopes can you have of increasing your band, when you have got so few to
join it, and have suffered such reverses since that which you
experienced in the Castle of Carrion? You certainly are right, Martin,
in believing that the fear of losing their lives in the band of the
Vengador prevents those from enlisting in it who, at other times, by
their inclinations, and by misery, would be induced to do so. You know
now, moreover, that Bellido is plotting your destruction, for, without
doubt, that and nothing else brings him to Carrion."

"And what am I to do, Guillen; what can I do in so critical a situation?
Anger of the devil! I, so bold, so daring, so obstinate, only a short
while ago; now so irresolute, so faint-hearted, so cowardly. What am I
to do, Guillen; what can I do?"

"What are you to do? Does not your heart, perchance, counsel you; that
heart so generous, so noble, so deeply in love?"

"Since I have heard your words, my heart tells me that it desires
something more than vengeance. The bandit cannot proudly raise his brow
without danger of someone spitting in his face, and I feel now that I
would risk my life to be able to raise my head like the most honourable
men of Castile."

"Well, then, Martin, come with me. Let us go to the Portuguese campaign,
in which they are fighting for God and native land; there you will be
able to wash off, with Moorish blood, the stain which the world sees on
the brow of the bandit; there you will win power to punish the assassin
of your father; from thence you will return a hundred times more worthy
of being united with that honourable girl whom you love so much."

"Yes, Guillen, yes, let us go to Portugal, for even now my heart beats
violently, thinking that the time has come when I can show my courage in
more honourable fights than those in which I have been engaged."

"Good, Martin, good! This enthusiasm tells me that you will be a valiant
soldier," cried Guillen, embracing the bandit captain.

"Come with me now," said Martin, "as I must inform the members of the
band of my resolution, as they will have to follow me to Portugal. They
are men to whom my will is law, who, only to free themselves from
tyranny and misery, smother in their hearts the voice of honour, and
bear the infamy which attaches itself to the life of a bandit. Here, in
this glen, is one half of the band, and the other half is with
Rui-Venablos, round the turn of that hill which you see there in front
of you."

"And do you think that Rui-Venablos will also go with you?"

"Oh, you do not know what he is. Rui-Venablos is more honourable than I
am. He joined the band, moved by a disinterested and noble sentiment. He
has been a soldier almost all his life, and for him happiness is only to
be found on battlefields."

Some hours after, the forty bandits, which now composed the band of the
Vengador, were assembled together in the wood, all contented with the
resolve of their chief. In reality, those men did not deserve the name
of bandits. They had only revolted against the tyranny of certain
nobles, and indeed had governed themselves more by the laws of war than
by those of vandalism. Admitted, that at the present day they would not
have been received as soldiers into any honourable and loyal army, still
at that period what was required were soldiers ready to fight against
the common enemy, and nobody thought much of inquiring into their
antecedents.

Shortly afterwards, Martin and Guillen took the road that led to Burgos,
for the former desired to go to Vivar to take leave of Beatrice, whom he
had not seen for a considerable time. Rui-Venablos went on towards
Portugal, followed by the bandits; a place having been decided on
beforehand, where all should meet before their arrival at the frontier.



CHAPTER XXXI

IN WHICH THE PROVERB, "LET THE MIRACLE BE WROUGHT, EVEN THOUGH THE DEVIL
DOES IT," IS JUSTIFIED


The Cid was burning with impatience to overtake the Moors, who were
ravaging Estremadura. They were committing more outrages than ever
before, for they had not invaded the states of Don Fernando on any
former occasion with so much impetuosity and ferocity. Rodrigo saw with
the eyes of his soul all their barbarities; he saw the harvests cut down
and burned, the flocks stolen, churches and private dwellings sacked,
some of the inhabitants inhumanly butchered, and others, even more
unfortunate, taken captive and savagely maltreated; he saw those who
were still free raising their hands to heaven and imploring God for
mercy, beseeching Him to send a warrior who might chastise those savage
invaders; an angel who, with his flaming sword, might exterminate those
barbarous and impious men, who looked on nothing as sacred. And the
brave and noble heart of the Castilian leader bled for the sufferings of
those unfortunate people. The Cid crossed the frontier of Estremadura,
at the head of his valorous army, filled with joy as if he were entering
the Promised Land. On all sides his eyes saw the marks of fire and blood
which the infidels had left on their track. Rapidly, however, as the
Castilian army marched on, they could not discover the infidels, and
Rodrigo and his men were filled with fury, seeing that all their
diligence was in vain.

The Moors had learned that the invincible Christian army was advancing
on them; to return to Portugal was the same as to go straight to meet
them; to proceed towards the kingdom of Toledo was to expose themselves
to be driven back from the frontier, for they knew that Almenon would
not wish to lose the friendship of Don Fernando by admitting them into
his dominions. The only thing that was open to them was to proceed
straight on, pass through the centre of Castile and cross the Moncayo,
with the object of taking refuge in some one of the many small Moorish
states into which Aragon was then divided; they adopted, therefore, that
latter course, and continued their march into the interior of Castile,
increasing on their way the stores of rich booty which they had taken in
Estremadura. As they were, however, a day's march in advance of the Cid,
it was not possible for him to overtake them as soon as he desired. Both
armies, however, were now in Castile; and Rodrigo, fearing that the
Moors might be able to carry out their intention of getting into Aragon
before he could overtake them, determined to make a final effort, an
almost superhuman one, in order to fall on them and wrench from them the
numerous captives whom they were carrying off, and punish their audacity
and their cruelties. At last he overtook them, between Atienza and San
Esteban de Gormaz, and a battle commenced, furious on both sides.

The army of the Cid, though having the advantage in valour, was less
numerous than that of the enemy; however, the circumstance of their
being on their native soil, and their courage, which had been increased
by their efforts for so long a time to attack the invaders, were
elements which were much in their favour. The Moors resolved to defend
their booty at all costs, for it was so valuable that they would leave
nothing undone in order to retain it. The Castilian squadrons threw
themselves several times against the infidels, but were each time
repulsed, with heavy loss on both sides. The Cid was always in the very
front, spurring on his steed to close with his adversaries, and at his
side could be seen Fernan, although to keep up with Babieca, which flew
at the slightest touch of the spur, he had almost to flay the sides of
Overo.

"On, on! St. James of Compostela!" cried the Cid, burning with anger at
seeing the impotence of all his efforts, and preparing for a fresh
charge. "We shall all die on those fields of our native land rather than
lose the name of Invincibles which Castile has given us, for it is
better to die fighting than to live flying. Do you not hear, cavaliers,
those lamentations which rise from the enemies' camp? They come from the
unhappy Christians whom those infidels drag on with them, loaded with
chains and trampled under the hoofs of their chargers. We are their only
hope; they trust in us, they call down on our heads the blessing of God,
as we have come to fight bravely for them in order to save them from
captivity, and they should justly curse us if they saw us turning back
like cowards. We conquered in Portugal, shall we be defeated in
Castile--in Castile, where the ashes of our brave forefathers repose,
where the eyes of a mother, of a wife, or of a beloved maiden look upon
our deeds? Onward, cavaliers! follow me, conquer or die with me; for I
will conquer, or die as a brave man!"

When he had pronounced those last words the Cid rushed on the enemy, and
with him all his cavaliers, shouting enthusiastically, proving the
influence which the words and the example of their brave leader
exercised on those sturdy warriors.

The hostile army was divided into two bodies, stationed within ten
crossbow-shots of each other. At the same time both were attacked by
the Christians, whose squadrons got separated when the charge was made;
the Cid closing with the Moors to the right, whilst Martin Antolinez, to
whom he had confided his standard, attacked those on the left. Both
bodies received the Christians with the points of their lances and the
keen edges of their cimeters; the division attacked by the Cid was not
able to resist the charge, and took to flight in the greatest disorder,
followed and cut down by the Castilians.

The Cid and his followers had already disappeared in the distance,
pursuing the enemy, blinded by fury and desirous of exterminating them,
and as yet Martin Antolinez had not succeeded in breaking the Moorish
squadron, which was stationed to the left. The fight was becoming every
moment more obstinate and bloody, and its result was becoming more and
more doubtful. The soldiers of Antolinez, instead of gaining ground were
rather losing it, as the Moors, seeing themselves deprived of all chance
of aid, were now fighting with the desperation of those who, having lost
all hope of saving themselves, desire to savour death with the pleasure
of vengeance. The Christians, rendered more courageous by that strenuous
resistance, broke at last into the midst of their enemies, without
thinking of the risk of such an undertaking, and then the Moors,
availing themselves of a rapid and skilful piece of strategy, surrounded
them on all sides, and the conflict became still more furious. The
Christians were horribly cut up by the sword strokes, and all their
strength was vainly expended against that circle of hostile lances which
encircled them, and which was closing round them closer and closer each
moment; hope of escape was scarcely left to them, and the green standard
of the Cid would soon be in the hands of his foes, although Martin
Antolinez, who held it aloft in one hand, whilst he brandished his sword
with the other, cutting down an enemy at each stroke, was resolved to
save it or to die under its shadow. Fatigue and want of breath was
beginning to tell on the Christian cavaliers. Antolinez cast from time
to time a rapid glance across the plain to see if assistance of any kind
was coming to them; the plain, however, was deserted, and he only could
see the line of corpses which the Moors, pursued by the Cid, were
leaving behind them, and several captives who had succeeded in escaping
from their captors during the battle. Those were wandering about, still
manacled and uncertain as to the fate which might befall them. A
multitude of his enemies composed the circle around Antolinez, attacking
him with fury, endeavouring to capture the standard. The brave man of
Burgos defended himself with the most stubborn courage, but his blood
was staining the equipments of his horse; Alvar, Fañez Minaya, and other
cavaliers were fighting vainly to free him from his enemies.

"Cowards!" cried out Antolinez to the Moors. "A brave deed, forsooth, is
yours--twenty of you to attack one cavalier! Fight with me, not one
against one, but four against one, and you will see whether my sword
pierce not your hearts, e'er you shall drag from my hand the standard of
my Cid!"

Thus speaking, he showered furious blows on his enemies, the number of
whom was increasing every moment. At last a cimeter struck the arm which
held up the standard, and it fell from his hand notwithstanding all the
efforts he made to retain it, for the cut was terrible. The despair of
Antolinez then reached its height: the good cavalier, rendered incapable
of guiding his steed, spurred it on furiously and dashed into the midst
of the enemy, making a bloody opening through them.

But behold, when the Castilians were almost completely vanquished, a
loud cry was heard in the distance, and about fifty horsemen were seen
rushing towards the combat with the fleetness of the wind.

"St. James! St. James!" they shouted, and that cry was full of terror
for the Moors, and full of hope for Martin Antolinez and his men.

Who are those who thus come to the aid of the Christians? They cannot be
the squadron of the Campeador, for it is pursuing the Moors in the
direction opposite to that from which those horsemen appear. Behold
them, behold them already at the place of combat: two handsome youths
and a man of colossal stature, and evidently of great strength, lead the
band.

Justice of God! with what fury they rush into the midst of the Moors,
throw them into confusion, and scatter them in all directions! What
fierce cuts and thrusts they give! How the dead bodies of the Moslems
roll upon the ground!

"Cavaliers, whoever you are, to me, to me! Rescue the standard of the
Campeador, which these cowards have torn from my grasp!" cried Martin
Antolinez, addressing the leaders of the newly-arrived combatants.

"We will all die or save it," cried Guillen, for it was he, with Martin,
Rui-Venablos, and all the bandits who composed the band of the
Vengador, that had arrived fortunately before it was too late, to the
aid of Martin Antolinez and his soldiers.

And whilst Martin and Rui-Venablos continued to fight like lions in the
thick of the hostile force, Guillen rushed like lightning against the
Moorish horseman who had succeeded in capturing the green standard of
the Cid, and who was holding and defending it tenaciously. His lance
caused great slaughter amongst the enemy, who endeavoured to avoid his
thrusts, and soon were thrown into disorder: the Moor, however, who had
wounded Antolinez and taken the standard from him, would not yield up
that inestimable prize, the acquiring of which had been so difficult; he
fought front to front with Guillen, and to judge by the fury of the
combat, one or other must soon cease to exist. Blow followed blow with
fearful rapidity, and both combatants were wounded more or less
severely.

"St. James! St. James to my aid!" shouted Guillen, grasping his lance
with desperate force, and making so furious a thrust at his enemy that
he fell from his horse pierced through the breast. The youth dragged
from him the standard which, even when falling dead, he still held
convulsively clutched in his hand, and, raising it aloft and waving it
gallantly above his head, cried--

"Victory! victory! St. James!"

When they saw the standard rescued, the Castilian soldiers felt their
strength redoubled, and in a few minutes the Moslem squadron was flying
before them.

However, as it was numerous, some hundreds of horse soldiers succeeded
in escaping from the field of battle, abandoning what remained to them
of the rich booty which they had seized on their long march.

The Christians dashed on in their pursuit, guided by the standard of the
Cid which Guillen waved in the van, and as the Moors fled they left
behind a very large number of their dead, for the Castilians came up
with them from time to time and cut them down without mercy.

The soldiers of Martin Antolinez had pursued the Moors for about half an
hour, when they perceived in the distance the Cid, who was returning to
the assistance of his men, when he had finished with that division of
the enemy in pursuit of which he had gone. All the Castilian forces were
soon reunited, and the entire army continued the pursuit for more than
seven leagues, until the Moorish army was completely destroyed.

Scarcely a Moor escaped the Castilian steel; that formidable Moslem army
which, haughty and devastating, had penetrated into Estremadura and
overrun all Castile, ceased to exist before they could reach Aragon, and
the Cid and his cavaliers made themselves masters of the very rich
spoils which they were bearing away with them.

Scarcely had Rodrigo rejoined the division commanded by Martin Antolinez
when his attention was called to the band of the Vengador, and
especially to the youth who was bearing his standard; but as it was then
incumbent on him to continue the pursuit of the Moors, he postponed,
till that was ended, the obtaining of information as to what had
happened, and as to who those soldiers were who had exhibited such
bravery in the fight.

Therefore, as soon as the Castilian army had finished with the Moors and
collected the spoils together, he sat down to take the rest of which he
was so much in need, and Martin Antolinez and other cavaliers, who were
in his company at the commencement of the combat, related to the Cid all
that had taken place. Martin Antolinez, who cared only for his wound
because it prevented him from using his sword, told his leader that his
soldiers were on the point of yielding and abandoning the standard when
the unknown band arrived to their aid; he narrated to him the valour and
the dexterity with which those men, especially their captains, had
fought, and finally the heroic efforts by which that youth, whose name
he was ignorant of, had rescued the standard.

Rodrigo advanced towards Guillen, the Vengador, and Rui-Venablos, and
opened his arms to them, filled with enthusiasm and gratitude.

"You have saved my standard," he said to the former, "and all the
treasures of the world would appear too small a recompense for so great
a service."

"My lord," answered Guillen, much moved, and feeling his heart throb
with joy, for he was beginning to realise the hopes of glory of which he
had dreamed for so long a time, "the service you mention merits no
reward, for every soldier should do his duty, and I have done no more
than accomplish mine. For good men it is a sufficient recompense to know
that they have served God and their native land; but if the rescue from
the infidels of your glorious standard merits a greater reward than that
which I have mentioned, pay it to me by granting me the honour of being
one of your soldiers, to fight in your army and by your side against
the Moorish power."

"I shall consider myself much honoured if you and your companions will
aid me in this war. You shall be my friends, my brothers-in-arms. In my
heart, which the sanguinary scenes of battlefields cannot move, there is
a space, by no means small, destined for gratitude and sweet friendship;
in that space you will always occupy one of the chief positions."

Guillen, Martin, and Rui-Venablos listened with moist eyes to that noble
cavalier, to that valiant leader, who won hearts with a single word, for
in that word was manifested the most generous and best soul that could
animate a man.

Guillen, Martin, and Rui-Venablos felt it their duty not to conceal
their antecedents from Rodrigo Diaz, for he was sufficiently just to do
justice to those who had it on their side, sufficiently sensible not to
let himself be borne away by vulgar prejudices, and sufficiently
clear-sighted to understand the motives by which men were animated. For
these reasons it appeared to them a treason, which their consciences
could not tolerate, were they to present themselves to that cavalier, so
loyal, so kind, and so sincere, otherwise than as they had really been.

A curious observer could not fail to have taken note of an animated
discussion which took place on the following day amongst Fernan Cardeña,
Alvar, Lope, and other pages and squires, whilst the army of the Cid was
marching towards Burgos, in the midst of the noisiest and most
enthusiastic ovations of the Castilian people; these were more ardent
even than those of which they were the objects on their return from the
battle of the mountains of Oca. That discussion was very curious and so
connected with the objects we have in view that we think it well to
insert it on our pages.

"I say to you, Fernan," said Alvar, "that if I were as old as you are,
if I had the prizes you have won in this campaign, and a wife to marry
as good and loving as Mayorica is, I vow to God that I would wed her as
soon as I got back to Burgos, and give up at once the profession of
arms."

"I swear, by the soul of Beelzebub, that you deserve a gag in your
mouth, to keep you from talking such nonsense. Give up at once the
profession of arms? Is it not an honourable one, perchance?"

"Honourable, I admit, but thankless and severe."

"It may be so for those who possess your mean disposition, but not for
those who love glory and advancement."

"And what do you understand by glory, Fernan?"

"I vow by Judas Iscariot that the question of this fool pleases me. What
do I understand by glory? I understand by it, sleeping in camps; awaking
to the noise of the trumpets and drums which sound the alarm; listening
to the neighing of the chargers, impatient to rush on the enemy; giving
sword slashes to the Moors; and seeing the heads of foemen fall about,
as ripe fruit falls from the trees when a brisk breeze blows. That, and
nothing else, is real glory, brother, and the son of my mother would not
exchange it for all other kinds of glory in the world, even that of
marrying girls as handsome and loving as Mayorica."

"However, comrade," said Lope, the discreet squire, who on another
occasion gave two salutary pieces of advice to Fernan on the subject of
love, "one could continue to exercise the honourable profession of arms,
and still have a wife and children; I have such myself, and nevertheless
have not abandoned arms, as you see. Alvar is right in recommending you
to marry Mayor, now that you have means enough to support her."

"Whether I marry or don't marry, as long as there remain Moors for my
master Don Rodrigo to fight against, I will not give up my lance."

"But don't you love Mayorica?"

"I love her, and will continue to love her with all my soul. Oh, how I
long to arrive at Burgos, to see her after so long a separation!"

"Now I see," replied Lope, "that you are begging the question as to
whether you will marry her or not."

"I am indeed thinking of marrying, but it is an unfair thing to have to
bind oneself before God to love only one woman, considering that there
are two or even more for every man."

"Leave aside all that nonsense, comrade, for it sounds badly coming from
a man so ripe in years as you are. To think as you think should be only
for beardless youths, such as he who yesterday rescued the standard of
Don Rodrigo, and I am of opinion that even he would not talk of love
with as little sense as you display in the matter."

"Do you know," said Alvar, "that I look on the friendship and honours
which Don Rodrigo confers on that youth as signs of mere craziness."

"Craziness?" cried Fernan, whose anger was aroused on hearing the page
find fault with his master. "The craziness, which deserves more stripes
than you have hairs on your head, is your own, you confounded fool and
chatterbox. All that Don Rodrigo does is well done."

"I only meant to say that nobody knows in the least who that young man
is; and as to his companions, everybody knows, for they tell it
themselves, that they are the band of the Vengador."

"'Let the miracle be wrought, even though the devil does it.' The
certain thing is, that only for that youth and those who accompanied him
to aid us, the squadron of Martin Antolinez would have been completely
routed, and the standard of Don Rodrigo would be now in the hands of the
infidels. I swear by Judas Iscariot, that if the Cid, my master, had
lost his standard, he would have either died of grief and despair, or
else have pursued the infidels to the ends of the world in order to
recapture it."

"How much soever they may have extolled to you the valour of that
Guillen, whoever he may be, of that Martin, and of that giant who bears
the name of Rui-Venablos, and of all their men," said Lope, "it is
nothing to what they deserve. I happened to be amongst the soldiers of
Martin Antolinez, and thanks to that, I know exactly to what extent
those men deserve the recompenses which the Campeador has bestowed on
them, and promised to bestow on them."

"Well, tell us, then, what recompenses they have received?" asked Alvar.

"He has given," answered Fernan, "double as much of the spoils to each
of them as to the other men in the army; and he has promised Guillen,
who is of peasant origin, like Martin and Rui, that he will be knighted
in Burgos. You need not imagine, moreover, that Don Rodrigo will allow
these men-at-arms to leave his side, for he has taken them into his
pay."

"Anger of God!" exclaimed Alvar, "with what a lucky foot this Guillen
has walked into the profession of arms!"

"And I have heard that our master, who never makes a mistake, has said
that Guillen will be in a short time one of his best captains."

"He will be an emperor if our master goes on thus lavishing favours on
him, for some men are born feet foremost and others head foremost, and
he must be of the former."

"Oh, you cursed charlatan, how envious you are!" said Fernan. "The good
fortune of another man enrages you, no matter how well merited it may
be. I suppose you would like to be made a knight? I tell you, Alvar,
that if I ever hear you say a word against Guillen, or any of those who
have joined the army with him, I'll break your ribs with a cudgel. It is
my duty to defend that youth; only for him the son of my mother would be
now lying, food for wild beasts, on the field of battle where we
defeated the Moors yesterday."

"Relate to us, Fernan, what happened to you," said Alvar; "for I should
like to go slow for a while, as my horse is very much fatigued."

"Don't lay the blame of your falling back on your horse, as it is the
fault of your own cowardly heart," replied Don Rodrigo's squire. "There
is no chance of your scarifying very seriously the flanks of your
charger whenever you shall be required to rush on the enemy."

"Comrade, I say of myself what you said of Overo a short time before you
sallied forth from Burgos to proceed to Compostela, 'everyone is just as
God made him, and faults should not be punished which one brings from
the womb of his mother.' But won't you recount to us what happened to
you yesterday?"

"I shall do so at once. Don Rodrigo, Guillen, and I were fighting, with
more than usual fury, against five Moorish cavaliers, who formed an
impenetrable wall before us. At last we succeeded in breaking through
them and throwing them into disorder. Don Rodrigo rushed in pursuit of
three of them who had fled, and who appeared to be men of rank, whilst
Guillen and I remained fighting with the others, who, to give them their
due, were much braver than their companions, as they did not seek safety
in flight. He who was fighting with me gave so fierce a lance thrust
that, striking the pommel of the saddle, the shock threw down Overo, and
I found myself on the ground, incapable of defending myself. The Moor
was already aiming his lance at me, to fix me to the earth, when
Guillen, who saw what was going on, rushed to my aid, overthrew the
Moor, my antagonist, with his lance, and returning to him whom he had
just left, and who was taking to flight, he pierced him through the
breast. Now you see that, were it not for that brave youth, the weakness
of my horse would have cost me my life."

"Oh, what triumphs you achieve with that high-spirited Overo!" said
Alvar, laughing, which made Fernan very angry.

"By the soul of Beelzebub, if you laugh at my mishaps, it will cost you
dear, Alvar. As to my horse, I swear that if he ever again treats me so,
he shall atone for his fault where he commits it, by being left there as
the prey of wild beasts."

"You always say that, Fernan; if I were your horse I would laugh at your
threats."

"You will see if he laughs the next time he acts in such a manner."

Just as Fernan thus spoke, a bull ran from a herd which was grazing in a
field beside the road, and rushed on the pages and squires with a fury
such as is seldom seen. All were trying to get out of his way, surprised
by such a sudden attack, except Fernan, who, pulling at the reins of
Overo, and preparing his lance, exclaimed--

"Cowards! Do you fly from this miserable beast? You will see, I vow to
Judas Iscariot, that my lance shall soon bring down his pride."

And thus speaking, he directed his steed in the direction of the bull.

The latter gave a furious bellow, and rushed on him who had thus
challenged him. The lance of Fernan struck one of the flanks of the
bull, but glanced off it; the animal charged Overo fiercely, and he
fell, together with his rider, rolling down a very steep declivity, so
that all believed that both of them were killed.

The bull continued to do considerable damage to the squires, none of
whom were able to restrain him, although they did their best, having
recovered from the confusion which his first charge had caused amongst
them.

Rodrigo Diaz, as well as the cavaliers who were conversing with him,
noticed the tumult which had just arisen, and, as soon as he learned the
cause of it, seized his lance, and turning back, guided Babieca towards
the bull. The first victory won by the animal seemed to have increased
his ferocity. He rushed madly at the cavalier who was approaching him,
but the lance of the Cid buried itself in his head, as deep as its steel
head was long.

The bull gave a terrible roar, and fell lifeless on the ground. In the
meantime, Fernan and his steed were brought up from the hollow into
which they had fallen, without more damage than a few, not very serious,
bruises.

"Are you much injured, Fernan?" hastened to ask all his companions.

"No," answered Fernan; "only bruised, but no bones broken. Leave me, by
the soul of Beelzebub! leave me, and go see if Overo has a wound on his
head."

When he was told that Overo had received no hurt of any consequence, joy
appeared on his countenance, and he hastened to mount him again,
saying--

"I am always unlucky with that horse. Many, many indeed, Overo, are the
mishaps thou hast caused me, but if thou actest so again thou shalt pay
for it with thy skin."



CHAPTER XXXII

IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT HE WHO SOWS REAPS, AND IN WHICH IT IS SEEN
THAT THEY WHO GIVE RECEIVE


The sun had not yet risen in the east when Ximena was standing at a
window from which could be seen the road, which Rodrigo and his knights
had taken when going on their pilgrimage to Compostela. An unusual joy
animated her countenance, and her gaze did not wander from that road on
which she had seen her noble and beloved husband departing, and by which
she hoped to see him returning on that very day.

On that day, indeed, he was expected in Burgos, the city of his
ancestors, and Ximena, who, after the receipt of such good news, had not
been able to sleep during the night, arose at dawn, and placed herself
at the window of her apartment, desirous that her eyes might be the
first to see Rodrigo enter Burgos. It is a common opinion that a young
woman does not look on a husband with the same eyes as on a lover, that
for her has disappeared the golden halo which surrounded him, the
inexplicable mystery which had presented him to her as a being distinct
from all other beings. Ximena, however, gave a contradiction to that
opinion, and every wife who has a soul like hers, who has gone to the
altar impelled, not by an artificial love, but by an affection which has
been insensibly identifying itself with the soul, becoming part of it,
and acquiring its immortal principle. When love is essentially pure,
and refined by the various trials which Ximena had passed through; when
it is the thought of one's entire life; when in it is to be found the
sole hope and the sole happiness of this world; when its object is so
worthy of being beloved as Rodrigo was, then love never loses its
enchantment, its mystery, its poetry; it becomes even more beautiful
with full possession, more complete in every way. Sermonda, as the
Limosin chronicles relate, went one day to her window and saw Raimundo
de Castel mounted on a fiery steed, completely covered with white
armour, and bearing as his device these words: "_Mi corazon está libre y
desea ser cautivo_."[1]

[1] "My heart is free, but desires to be made a prisoner."

Sermonda was a maiden of ardent heart, of fantastic imagination, and
passionately fond of the love romances of the troubadours and minstrels,
especially those of Guillermo de Cabestañ, the sweetest troubadour of
Provence. She fell in love with Raimundo de Castel, for in him she saw
one of those valiant and enamoured cavaliers whom the good Guillermo
described in his lays of love, and married him shortly afterwards. Much
time had not elapsed when her love had changed to indifference; in a
short time Raimundo had lost in the eyes of Sermonda the aureole of love
and poesy which had surrounded him; before long she happened to meet the
gentle troubadour Guillermo de Cabestañ, and loved him madly. Raimundo
found this out, killed the troubadour, caused his heart to be fried and
served up to his faithless spouse. When she discovered that she had
eaten the heart of her lover, she told her husband that she had never
tasted more delicious food, and then threw herself from the window. This
is the kind of love which degenerates, which vulgarises itself by
intimate and continuous intercourse, a love which has no hold on the
soul, for the love of Sermonda was that of the imagination, not that of
the heart. The love of Ximena was that love which is almost born with
us, which increases in us, which lives with our life; and that is the
love which, instead of becoming weaker, gains strength, preserves always
its primitive freshness, mystery, and poesy, and which is as immortal as
the soul to which it has clung.

Who is there that has not passed a night feeling somewhat as Ximena did
during that which preceded the day of the return of her husband? Who is
there who has not sometimes lost a night's repose for the hope of seeing
a beloved being on the following day, has not in vain endeavoured to
call down sleep on his eyelids, has not counted the hours one by one,
and has not several times thought that the light of the moon, feebly
penetrating into the room, was the early dawn? And did not that night
seem three times as long as usual, on account of her having passed it
thinking on him who was expected, seeing him in thought, pondering over
the first words that would be heard from his lips, guessing at the
costume he would wear, calculating when they would meet each other, and
even considering what effect that meeting would have on the countenance
of him who was about to return home?

He who has found himself in that position, he who has experienced
anything like this, will understand how long that night must have seemed
to Ximena; how sweet the singing of the birds must have sounded to her
ears on that morning; with what joy she had saluted the day; how excited
her heart must have felt, and with what intentness her eyes must have
been fixed on the road by which Rodrigo was to arrive. The hope,
however, of seeing again her absent husband, her beloved one, the
valiant knight, the hero returning with his brows crowned with laurels,
was not the only thing which caused Ximena to feel so happy.

She had good news to communicate to Rodrigo; he was about to find in his
sweet and loving wife a new title to his love, a new pledge of her
affection, for the breast of Ximena enclosed the first-fruit of that
love which had filled up almost the entire lives of both of them--she
was about to become a mother. What new and exceeding sweet enchantments
must she not have experienced from the time she had become aware of that
happiness! The wife is then something more than a woman, she has
something of the divine, something which separates her from weak
humanity; then surrounds her brow a holy aureole, which eyes cannot see,
but which the soul distinctly perceives,--a husband must then have a
worthless soul and a flinty heart, not to respect her, adore her, bless
her! For love has now rendered its work complete, combining matter in
the same way as spirit had been combined; for the wife could say to the
husband, on feeling the pains of maternity, "Behold, to thee am I
indebted for these pains"; for the wife is then a being the most
tortured, and the most in need of tender care; for the husband then sees
in that woman a mother, a mother such as she who had carried himself in
her breast, fed him with her milk, taught him to lisp his first words,
to walk his first steps, and who dried his tears with her kisses.

"My husband, a being, a small part of ourselves, moves in my breast."

Should not these words sound very sweet to the ears of the husband who,
for the first time, is about to receive the name of father? How sweet
must they not sound when they come from the lips of an idolised woman,
of a woman whose love he believes to be sufficient to abundantly
compensate for all trials, all deceptions, all miseries, all sadnesses,
all injustices, all physical pain, all the misfortunes of life! How
pleasing, how consoling must not the hopes of paternity be! At first,
beautiful children, with complexions like the lily and the rose, with
golden hair like that of the angels, who, with smiles on their lips,
throw their tender arms around those who have given them their being, as
if they were endeavouring to pay the debt of their existence with kisses
and innocent caresses; afterwards, gentle youths and maidens, whose
ardent hearts are agitated by the generous instincts and noble
aspirations of early life, in whom the parents look upon the pictures of
themselves, with the same pleasure as the old man looks upon his
portrait which, when young, he presented to the maiden of his love, and
which she restored to him on the day when they went to live under the
same roof. Such, in short, are the hopes which should be awakened in the
heart of a husband when his wife tells him that she is about to become a
mother.

How sad must be the life of married people whose heads become white,
whose limbs become weak, and in whose ears the name of father or mother
does not sound! Feel compassion for those spouses who around their
hearths see none to whom they can give the title of child; for old
people feel the need of children as much as children do of parents; old
age requires a staff on which to lean; for death is doubly painful when
all goes with ourselves to the churchyard, when no eyes remain to water
the flowers placed on our tombs.

Such were the thoughts which passed through the mind of Ximena during
that night. She knew that Rodrigo would think in the same way; she knew
that the news she was about to impart to her beloved husband would be
the sweetest he could listen to; she knew that an additional bond, as
firm, as indissoluble, as holy as those which already united them, would
soon draw them even more closely together, and her heart leaped with
joy, and tears of happiness flowed from her eyes, and she blessed God
who had thus increased her felicity, when the being whom she felt in her
breast reminded her that Rodrigo, when clasping her in his arms, would
embrace two dear ones at the same time.

She, however, was not the only one who had her eyes fixed on that road:
those of Teresa and Diego, and also those of Mayor, Lambra, and Gil,
were looking in the same direction; besides these, all the inhabitants
of Burgos were anxiously expecting the arrival of the victorious leader.
Happy are the absent who know that they are expected at the domestic
hearth with such great love, impatience, and anxiety!

At last, a dark moving mass was perceived on the white road, which
disappeared towards the distant horizon. Numerous cries of joy resounded
at the same time from the windows of the house of the lords of Vivar,
and shortly afterwards Rodrigo and his escort dismounted at its door. To
describe the joy, the caresses, the tears, the embraces, with which his
family welcomed the victorious cavalier would be as difficult as to
express with words all the joys, enchantments, mutual pleasures, and
sweet confidences which the unwritten and undescribable history of
domestic life contains.

Rodrigo Diaz, who on the field of battle mowed down Moslem heads as the
reaper cuts down the harvest in his fields; who, at the assault of a
fortress, rushed against its walls, trampling dead bodies under foot,
and covered with blood; the terrible warrior whose name alone filled the
ferocious Islamites with terror; that man of iron, who seemed born only
to live in combats--that man, we repeat, was at the domestic hearth the
personification of mildness, of love, and of simplicity. If he could be
seen clasping his parents and his wife to his heart, with tears of
happiness in his eyes; if he could be seen, as excited as a child,
blessing God and Ximena, when he learned that she bore the first-fruit
of their love within her breast; if he could be seen conversing with his
servants with the same kindness as if they were his equals; and,
finally, caressing Gil, the Moorish child, whom he had taken under his
protection, and amusing him with the same playfulness and boyishness as
he had displayed at the period when he sported with Ximena at the Castle
of Vivar, and imprinted a kiss for the first time on the lips of the
innocent little girl; if all this could have been seen, he would have
been admired more under the domestic roof than on the fields of battle.

Three days after the return of the Cid to Burgos, on a calm and
beautiful morning, like another which he remembered with joy, for it had
been the happiest of his life, that on which he had first called Ximena
by the sweet name of wife, a great multitude crowded round the gates of
the church of Santa Gadea, and many ladies and cavaliers entered it.

On that morning the order of knighthood was to be conferred on Guillen
by the hand of the Cid Campeador, and the noble Ximena was to buckle on
the golden spur.

The brave youth had kept vigil over his arms, during the preceding
night, before the altar, and was awaiting with impatience the solemn
ceremony, when he would receive the sword-stroke on his shoulder, when
the golden spur would be buckled on, and when he would be girt with his
knightly sword.

And the time at last arrived.

The church was decorated with the Moslem standards, which, from time
immemorial, the cavaliers of Burgos had deposited in it, on their return
from the wars, as a just and holy homage to the God of battles. Torrents
of light spread themselves about in all directions, incense filled the
nave of the church, and sacred chants sounded in harmony with the peals
of the bells.

"The Lord," sang the priests and the congregation, "has broken the bows,
the shields, and the swords of our enemies, and put an end to the war."

"O Lord! Thou hast shed down upon us the rays of Thy goodness, whilst
Thou hast filled our enemies with fear."

"Who, O Lord, can resist Thy anger?"

"Seated on Thy heavenly throne, Thou hast decreed the salvation of Thy
people, and peace has succeeded to war."

"The universe praises Thee, and blesses Thee, and sings the glory of Thy
name."

Many of the people assembled in the church were shedding tears of joy,
whilst they accompanied the chants of the priests at the altar, for they
were congregated there to thank God for the victories which had been
won, as well as to witness the rewarding of him who had fought so
valiantly against the enemies of Christ.

The Bishop of Burgos blessed the arms about to be presented to the new
knight.

Then Rodrigo Diaz and Guillen, who had both been kneeling, arose and
approached the arms, which stood before the altar. They were imitated by
the ladies and cavaliers who were assisting at the solemn ceremony.

The young man bent his knee, and Rodrigo said to him--

"The order of knighthood which you are about to receive imposes duties
on you in which you must not fail. It commands you to serve God and the
king; it binds you to speak the truth always, to be loyal to your
friends; to be abstemious, and to seek the companionship of wise men,
who can teach you to live well, and of warlike men, who can teach you to
fight bravely; it binds you to have good arms and accoutrements, good
horses in your stable, and a good sword by your side; it commands that
you shall not dare to go to the Court on a mule, but on a horse, nor
enter the palaces of the king without a sword; it binds you not to speak
flattery, nor to utter jests, nor play any game of chance, nor eat
without tablecloths; it binds you not to complain of any wound you may
receive, nor to groan during an operation, nor to boast of any deed you
may perform; it binds you to have no contention with a young maiden, nor
engage in a lawsuit with the wife of a hidalgo; if you should meet a
brave and noble dueña in the street, it binds you to dismount and
accompany her; if a noble woman or young woman asks a favour of you, and
you do not grant it, it ordains that ladies should call you 'a badly
ordered and discourteous knight'; it ordains that you must not be at the
Court without serving some lady, not to dishonour her, but to make love
to her, and, if you are a bachelor, to marry her, and when she goes
forth you must accompany her according as she may desire, on foot or on
horseback, with your hood removed, and doing reverence with your knee;
it binds you, finally, to assist the weak, whatever their position may
be, whenever they ask for your help."

When the Cid recited to the youth these statutes, which were, without
any doubt, in force two hundred years later, when the statutes of the
"Caballeros de la Banda" were compiled, he said to him--

"Do you swear to faithfully comply with all that the law of chivalry
commands?"

"I swear," answered Guillen.

"If you so act, may you be accounted a good knight, and may God aid you
in all the enterprises that you undertake; if you should do the
contrary, cavaliers and peasants will despise you as vile and perjured,
and nothing you undertake shall succeed."

He then gave him the kiss of peace on the mouth and the stroke on the
shoulder, bound on the sword, which had been blessed, and which a page
presented to him on a cushion, and immediately after Ximena buckled on
the spur, which another page brought forward in the same way as the
sword.

Then the bishop, the clergy, and the people chanted the first verse of a
Psalm of David--

"Blessed be the Lord my God, who gave me hands to fight, and taught me
the art of war."

And thus terminated the solemn ceremony, the people leaving the church
and cheering the newly-made knight, who proceeded to the residence of
the Cid, accompanied by him, by Ximena, and by the brilliant escort
which had been with them in the church of Santa Gadea.

The people of Burgos devoted themselves to merrymaking during the
remainder of the day, and even into the late hours of the night, which
was calm and beautiful, and lit up by a brilliant moon. Rodrigo had
divided amongst the needy a large portion of the spoils which had fallen
to his share after the recent victories, and that liberality had
increased the public joy, already very great on account of the triumph
obtained by the Christian army over the infidels. There was music and
dancing in the public places; there were games of various kinds; and the
evening terminated with a spectacle, as popular at that period as
bull-fights were afterwards. In one of the largest squares of the city a
circus was constructed with boards, and in it took place pig-baiting.
This singular amusement was carried out in the following manner. Some of
those animals were driven into the circus, and men then entered it with
stout sticks, having their eyes bandaged, and with iron helmets on their
heads. Whoever struck a pig with his stick became the possessor of the
animal; however, it happened sometimes that the men cudgelled each other
terribly, although it was ordered not to strike violently, and this
constituted the principal amusement. During the evening of which we
write, there was greater noise and uproar than usual, for the country
people had indulged in large potations of wine, in order to celebrate
with greater joy the triumph of the army of the Cid, and in dealing
their blows in the circus they paid little attention to regulations and
prohibitions.

Country people were generally the actors in these games, but when they
were celebrated in honour of some very important and propitious event,
pages and squires also frequently took part in them. In proof of this we
mention the fact that Alvar, the page of Rodrigo Diaz, entered the
circus on the day that Guillen was knighted.

The foolish page had, during the day, raised his elbow with marvellous
frequency, and was in a humour to fight with something or other--with
pigs or rustics, if he could not find a bull as fierce as the one he
attacked when returning, a few days before, with the army of his master
to Burgos. Thus it happened that, despite the advice of his friends, and
especially that of Fernan, who had retired to sleep off his debauch, he
insisted on having his eyes bandaged in order to sally forth to the
conquest of the pig.

"By the soul of Beelzebub, Alvar," said Fernan to him, when he found
that it was impossible to dissuade him from his intention, "you are the
greatest fool that eats bread in Castile. You are as full of wine as a
grape, and you imagine you will be able to hit the pig."

"May I never drink another drop of it if I don't win as fine a pig as
that of St Antony!" answered Alvar, stretching out his neck so that his
eyes might be bound.

"The cudgellings you get from me are not enough, I suppose, and you must
needs go off to get more from the rustics?"

"Your preachings are all in vain, brother," replied Alvar. "May I be
turned into a pig myself if I leave the circus without one!"

Fernan did not persevere any longer with his counsels. Alvar went into
the circus, blindfolded and armed with a stout stick, which he had to
use to keep himself on his feet, such was the state of drunkenness in
which he was.

The pig which just then happened to be in the circus, finding itself
harassed at the opposite side, ran towards the side where Alvar was
standing, and rushed violently between his legs.

The animal, finding this obstacle in its path, gave a loud grunt; its
pursuers heard it, and made their way, with raised sticks, to the place
where they thought the pig was. Alvar was struggling to raise himself,
and as the country people, on coming up to him, heard the noise he was
making on the ground with his hands and feet, and also his puffing and
panting, they thought the pig was before them, and brought down their
cudgels with such force on the unlucky page that, but for his cries,
they would have made a speedy end of him.

Fernan rushed to the circus, followed by other servitors of the house of
Vivar, raised up and carried off Alvar, whose bones were almost broken
by the terrible cudgelling which he had received--a cudgelling which, if
it moved the pity of some spectators, excited laughter and enthusiastic
cheering amongst the great bulk of them.

When Fernan heard this laughter and cheering, which the misfortune of
Alvar had caused, he directed his gaze threateningly towards the crowd,
and cried out, full of indignation--

"I vow by Judas Iscariot that I would give my soul to the devil for a
dozen men to attack with stout cudgels that crowd of rascals, who laugh
thus at other people's misfortunes, and beat and bruise them, like pigs
as they are."

The good squire then hastened to lead the unfortunate page where he
could be attended to; he was as afflicted at the mishap as Alvar
himself, for with regard to their relations we may appropriately quote
the Castilian proverb, "_Quien bien te quiere te hará llorar._"[1]

[1] "He who loves thee well will make thee weep."



CHAPTER XXXIII

IN WHICH WE CONTINUE TO PROVE THAT THE CID WAS A CID IN EVERY WAY


The first care of Rodrigo Diaz, having defeated the Moors as the result
of his expedition from Portugal, was to send messengers to the king, Don
Fernando, to announce to him that victory.

The king was in Coimbra when he received this auspicious news, and he
determined to return immediately to Castile, as he wished to see his
family again, and also to attend to an important matter which was
pending between him and Henry IV., Emperor of Germany, who for a
considerable time had been demanding from him vassalage and tribute,
which Don Fernando refused, putting forward very valid reasons for
preserving the independence of his kingdoms.

When departing from Portugal he had received letters from Rome which
caused him deep anxiety, for Pope Alexander II. threatened him with
excommunication and a crusade, if he did not comply with the demands of
the emperor.

In whatever portion of the annals of the reign of Don Fernando I. we
read, we find incontrovertible proofs of the piety of that great
monarch: in his reign were ransomed from the Moors the sacred bodies of
St. Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, of Saints Justa, Rufina, Victor, and
many other servants of God; in his time were erected magnificent
cathedrals and monasteries, amongst which may be mentioned that of
Sahagun; in his time ecclesiastical discipline was admirably regulated
in Castile; in his time Christian worship, neglected till then, on
account of the continual wars with the Moors and internal dissensions,
was fully re-established; and, as a last proof of the piety of Don
Fernando the Great, history tells us that he made long and frequent
retreats in the monastery of St. John of Sahagun, joining in pious
exercises with its monks, and taking part in all the austerities and
mortifications which, at that period, accompanied monastic life. We can
judge of those which were practised by the monks of Sahagun, when we
recall to mind many anecdotes found in history. In one of his frequent
visits to that monastery Don Fernando noticed that the monks went about
barefooted, a custom which caused many of them to contract deadly
diseases; the king felt compassion for them, and supplied the abbot with
the money necessary to procure sandals for them. There was in the
monastery a glass vessel, which was reserved for the superior and for
the king whenever he sought hospitality in that holy house. One day,
when Don Fernando went to Sahagun, he found the community in a state of
great affliction, and when he inquired the cause of it he was informed
that the monastery had lost one of its most precious possessions, the
glass cup of the abbot, which had been broken. The king knew that this
feeling of the monks was not unfounded, as the loss of that article, in
their extreme poverty, was difficult for them to make good, and he
ordered a golden goblet to be made, to take the place of the glass one.

A council had been held at Rome, promoted by the Emperor of Germany, at
which had assisted the King of France and other sovereigns who supported
the pretensions of the emperor, and the letters which we have mentioned
were sent to Don Fernando as a consequence of it.

Don Fernando was in a state of perplexity between two courses, either to
excite the enmity of the allies of Henry IV., especially that of the
Holy See, or to submit his states to a vassalage, hateful to a nation
which had worked out its independence with the sword, and which was
therefore proud of it and little disposed to submit to a foreign yoke.
In this difficult matter he considered that he should not come to any
conclusion guided by his own opinion alone, but that he should consult
the wisest men of Castile and Leon, particularly the bishops, who might
be considered very competent advisers in such a matter.

Whilst the grandees, noblemen, and bishops were assembling from various
districts, Don Fernando was taking repose, after his recent fatigues, in
the midst of his family, which had come to meet him in Leon. At last the
time arrived for the opening of the Cortes, and the dejection of the
king was changed into hope and gladness when he saw himself surrounded
by so many illustrious men--some famous for their wisdom, others for
their nobility. All the great men of the kingdom were arriving in Leon,
and, notwithstanding, at the time for commencing the debates, Don
Fernando did not see at his side him whom he most desired to be present,
Rodrigo Diaz, the brave cavalier, whose advice he thought more of than
that of all the other nobles of Castile and Leon. How was it that
Rodrigo had not come to the Cortes, to assist the king, when he was so
much in need of the counsels of all good men, and when a matter of such
vital importance was about to be considered, whether Castile and Leon
should or should not be made subject to a foreign yoke?

Don Fernando explained to the nobles the object for which he had
summoned them together, and the high importance, in his opinion, of the
question which they had to decide.

"Do you believe," he asked of them, "that Castile and Leon should
acknowledge vassalage to the Emperor of Germany, whose pretensions are
supported by the Pope, or that we should repudiate it?"

"Those who were present," as Mariana relates, "were not unanimous. They
who were most religiously disposed advised that submission should be
made, in order that the Pope might not be offended, and that
disturbances might not be stirred up in Spain, which would necessarily
injure the country very much, as in every possible way civil war should
be avoided, as the country was divided into many kingdoms, and as so
many Moors, enemies of Christianity, were in it. Others, more daring and
of greater courage, said, that if they yielded, Spain would be submitted
to a very heavy yoke, which it would never be able to shake off; that
it would be better to die with arms in their hands than to permit such
injury to their country, and such lowering of its dignity."

The views of those last mentioned, who consisted of Arias Gonzalo,
Peranzures, and many more, were those which were most in harmony with
the opinion of Don Fernando; he, however, considered the opposite one
worthy of deep consideration, as it was that of the majority, and
especially that of many wise and virtuous prelates, and it was at last
virtually decided to yield to the demands of the emperor and his allies.

The debates had already ceased, and those who had been present at them
were about to leave the chamber in which the Cortes had been held, when
the arrival of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was announced. Prolonged
expressions of satisfaction on the one part, and of annoyance on the
other, arose on all sides, and joy shone in the countenance of the king.
The Counts of Carrion and of Cabra bit their lips with fury, and
interchanged looks, the significance of which no one knew just then, but
which the reader shall learn very soon. The Cid appeared in the council
chamber a moment after. Notwithstanding the solemnity of the occasion,
Don Fernando arose from his throne, in order to advance to meet Rodrigo,
whom he clasped in his arms, not permitting him to prostrate himself at
his feet.

All fixed their looks on the Count of Carrion, and all remarked the
vexation and rage which were excited in him by those signal proofs of
friendship and affection which the king exhibited towards De Vivar.

"Oh!" said Don Fernando, beaming with joy, "my hope was not vain that
you would arrive before the question we were considering was finally
settled, so that we might have the advantage of your loyal counsels. Why
have you delayed so long, when your presence was so necessary? My desire
to clasp you in my arms, long before this, was very great."

"Sire," answered Rodrigo, with a certain embarrassment, which the king
could not help noticing, "my family detained me rather too long; you,
who love yours so much, can easily understand the effect of the tears of
a wife, who fears, when her husband is leaving her, that she may not see
him again for a very long time. Perhaps I have failed in my duty as a
good subject, and in the gratitude which I owe to you, but I assure you,
sire, that it was impossible for me to avoid it."

"The proofs of loyalty, which you have always given, suffice abundantly
to prove it to me, Rodrigo."

"Sire, dispose of my life and of all that I possess, for they are not
sufficient to repay your kindness!" exclaimed Rodrigo, deeply moved.

"Are you well informed, Rodrigo, as to the serious business which has
obliged me to summon together all the leading men of my kingdoms?" asked
Don Fernando.

"No person in Castile is ignorant of it, sire," replied the Cid. "It is
a question of the freedom or of the enslavement of a brave and proud
nation, which has won its independence by fighting against foreign foes
during four centuries. Has not such a nation some interest in the
question which brings us together here?"

The presence of the Cid caused the debates, which were thought to be
ended, to commence afresh. Those who were disposed to refuse vassalage
to the emperor had now some hopes of seeing their views prevail, as they
felt sure that the Cid would support them, and they knew that the
influence of De Vivar was very great.

Rodrigo Diaz listened for some time to the arguments of the opposed
parties, and then said--

"We have scarcely shaken off the yoke which the Moors held over our
humiliated heads, and shall we now allow Christians to make us vassals
and enslave us? Our ancestors smashed to pieces the heavy yoke imposed
on them by the Romans, and shall we now permit the Germans to bend us
down under another? Theirs would then become the power, the authority,
the honour, the riches, which our fathers won with their blood. And what
would remain to us? Trials, dangers, slavery, and poverty! It is better
to die as brave men than lose the liberty which our forefathers left us
as a sacred inheritance!"

Almost the entire assembly broke out into exclamations of assent when
Rodrigo had pronounced those words. A bishop, however, whose name the
"Chronicles" do not mention, arose from his seat and replied to him
thus--

"If the vassalage which is demanded of Castile were not supported by the
Supreme Pontiff, your reasons would be just and valid, and it would be
right to sustain the refusal with the sword; but it is a question of
obedience or non-obedience to the Vicar of Christ."

"For the law of Christ Castile has fought for more than four hundred
years," replied the Cid with energy. "For the law of Christ I have
fought, and shall always fight, and nevertheless I should consider
myself a bad Christian, a bad cavalier, and a bad Castilian, if I were
not to oppose to the utmost the demand of the emperor, even though it be
supported by the Pope. If Castile is now, when free and rich, only
barely able to keep the infidels in check, how can she conquer them when
poor and enslaved? The vassalage which the foreigner seeks to impose on
us will enervate our strength, will pauperise us, will make us cowards
as well as slaves, and then--what will become of the faith of our
fathers, what will become of the Cross, which until recently was under
the subjection of the Crescent?"

Cries of enthusiasm, which even the presence of the king and the
solemnity of the occasion were not able to keep down, answered those
words of Rodrigo Diaz. Even those who, with the greatest zeal, had
maintained that the demands of the Germans should be acceded to, changed
their minds, with the exceptions of the Counts of Carrion and Cabra and
a few others, who were envious of the favour and advancement which the
Cid enjoyed. The latter turned towards Don Fernando, and continued--

"Sire, you were born in an evil day for Spain, if in your time a people
should become enslaved who, until now, have been always free. If you
consent to such a terrible humiliation, all is lost--lost is all the
honour which God has given you, and all the good He has accomplished for
you. Whoever counsels you to accede to the demands of the emperor is not
loyal, nor does he love your honour or your sway--he deserves not to be
a son of our beloved Castile."

The Count of Carrion and his partisans placed their hands on their
swords, unable to restrain their fury; and they would have drawn them if
the voice of the king had not been heard above the loud applause which
drowned the last words of Rodrigo. Don Fernando cried out--

"Silence, vassals, silence! Who is it that dares to lay his hand on his
sword in the presence of his lord and king? A valiant cavalier, a noble,
who is as good a Christian as he is a good knight, is he who sustains
opinions different to yours. You all have been summoned here to speak
freely what you think, and even if I were not present, the gravity and
importance of this assembly should restrain you. Speak, De Vivar, for we
consider all advice important, whether it be given with the energy
which befits a brave soldier, as you are, or with the calm deliberation
which characterises ecclesiastics."

Don Suero and his friends became quiet, much against their wills, and
the silence and order of the assembly were restored.

"I do not believe," continued Rodrigo, "that the Pontiff will close his
ears to our just prayers; let us send those to him who will defend our
freedom in his presence, and explain to him how unjust and impolitic are
the pretensions of the Germans; but if our reasonings avail nothing, we
must then have recourse to the sword. For my part, I am now resolved to
defend against the entire world the honour and the liberty which my
ancestors have handed down to me, and those who agree in my views I look
on as my friends, and as the friends of our country. If the Germans do
not recognise our rights, we have good lances in Castile wherewith to
prove to them that we have honour and courage. Rouse up the country,
sire; get together an invincible host--you can easily do so--and cross
the Pyrenees; I shall go in the front with two thousand of my friends,
and, in addition, the troops that my Moorish tributaries shall supply me
with."

This advice of the Cid satisfied almost all, especially the king, and it
was arranged to reply to the Pope with all respect, but at the same time
to raise, without delay, an army of ten thousand men, which should be
ready to cross the Pyrenees, under the command of the Cid, in case the
Germans and their allies should persist in their demands. The assembly
then broke up.

Whilst Rodrigo Diaz was thus opposing those who advised the king to
yield to the pretensions of Henry IV., Fernan Cardeña, with other
squires and pages, was walking about in the large square which fronted
the palace which the lords of Gormaz had owned in the city, and which
was now the property of Rodrigo, as a result of his marriage with
Ximena.

"It appears to me," said a squire to Fernan, "that we could kill time a
little in this square by exercising ourselves in arms; if our masters
serve Castile in the council chamber, we can serve her here by
practising how to give good blows on the battlefields."

"Leave me in peace, comrades," replied Fernan, "for the son of my mother
is in more humour to go asleep and rest himself than to exercise himself
in arms."

"Are you fatigued, then?"

"As much as if I had just come from a fierce battle."

"Your journey must have been a very hasty one?"

"One half of it was."

"Nevertheless, the Campeador arrived very late."

"That was not his fault."

"How was that?"

"We set out from Burgos in good time, but"--

"You had then some ugly adventure on the road?"

"It would have been so, in the case of anyone but my master."

"May I turn Moor if I understand you!"

"Then you need not hope that the son of my mother will explain himself
more fully."

"Anger of God! but you have very little confidence in your friends,
Fernan."

"How can I have confidence in anyone at the present time? No, only
believe that people love you, and, when you least expect it, they will
get up a plot against your life; and you would lose it, as my master
should have done, if he had not been so brave, and if he had not such
good cavaliers in his company."

These words excited the curiosity of his hearers.

"Tell us all about it," they cried out; "relate to us the adventure that
befell the Cid on his journey from Burgos to Leon."

"I swear that, for a prattler, I deserve to be driven with cudgels from
his service by my master!" cried Fernan, indignant with himself for his
indiscretion.

"Relate it to us, comrade, for we shall know from you exactly what took
place, and not with the addition of all kinds of embellishments, which
the people will invent before long."

Fernan, as it concerned honourable deeds of his master, felt that he
should burst if he did not relate them; he seemed satisfied, with regard
to his conscience, by the remarks of the last speaker, and said--

"Keep secret what I am about to tell you, for my lord, Don Rodrigo,
ordered all who were with him at the time not to speak of it, and he
must have had his reasons for doing so, and I should respect them. You
must know, then, that we sallied forth from Burgos early yesterday, in
order to arrive here in good time. My master had no other cavaliers with
him but Martin Antolinez and Guillen of the Standard, as he is now
called, because he rescued that of Don Rodrigo; and no other squires but
the two who are now asleep in the stable and myself; for that fool Alvar
still keeps his bed, as a result of a certain cudgelling he got Martin
Vengador has gone to Vivar to see his sweetheart, and Rui-Venablos could
not leave the band, which has entered into the service of my master, and
which he commands during the absence of Martin, who is its captain. We
were passing through a wood near Carrion, when certain very dolorous
wailings attracted our attention; we stopped to listen, when we heard a
woman's voice, which cried out--

"'Succour me, succour me, travellers! for my house is on fire, and my
children, who are in it, will be burned.'

"We all hastened to the place from which the voice sounded, and, on a
small hill, we saw the person who had called out; it was a woman with
dishevelled hair, and with all the signs of great despair.

"'Where is your house--in which direction?' we asked, when still at some
distance from her.

"'You will find it just round the turn of this hill,' she replied to our
question. 'Do you not see the smoke which is rising to the sky? Go
thither, good cavaliers, and save my unhappy children, if there is still
time; but there will be, if you hasten.' In reality, a column of smoke
was rising behind the hill.

"We applied spurs to our horses, and, in less time than I tell it, we
turned the small hill, and at a short distance, beside a thick cluster
of trees, we saw a house from which cries proceeded, seemingly those of
children, and from which dense smoke was arising.

"On arriving at the house we all dismounted, dashed in the door with a
few good kicks, and hastily entered."

"And did you save the children?" asked, impatiently, those who were
listening to the narration of Fernan.

"The children which we found," he answered, "were ten very big men, who
were concealed in one of the rooms of the house, and who rushed, swords
in hand, on us, and especially on my master, who was in the front. May
Beelzebub take my soul if ever I saw a fiercer fight than that which
then took place in the small room. Guilt doubtless caused those ruffians
to lose their presence of mind, for they all missed their first strokes
and gave time to Don Rodrigo and the two other cavaliers to draw their
swords and close with them. The fight lasted only a short time, but it
was fierce and bloody. Four of the assassins fell to the ground, pierced
by the sword of my master, and the others jumped through a window and
escaped through the wood."

"What a terrible picture must have presented that combat in a house
which was on fire!" exclaimed one of the squires.

"What was on fire was a lot of straw, heaped up in a yard," replied
Fernan; and he then continued: "Guillen thought he recognised one of the
assassins, who was weltering in his blood, and when he examined him
closely, he uttered a cry of surprise and exclaimed--

"'Illan! you armed with an assassin's dagger! wretched, wretched man!
And it was you who expressed surprise that I should be in the service of
the Count of Carrion before we separated at the railings of the porch of
Santa Gadea.'

"'Pardon, pardon, Guillen!' murmured the man called Illan.
"'Avarice--the gold which Don Garcia and Don Suero promised us, if we
killed the Cid and you, blinded me. Pardon a dying man, and do not go to
Carrion, for Don Suero knows that you love the Infanta'--

"'May God pardon you, as I do,' replied Guillen. And we all left the
house, in pursuit of those who had fled through the wood. We spent many
hours in search of them, in that hilly country, and at last, despairing
of finding them, we continued our journey hither, both ourselves and our
horses being much fatigued, as we had to press onward very quickly to
make up for lost time."

"And who was the woman that allured you to the ambuscade?"

"Some witch, doubtless, for she became invisible from the time she spoke
to us from the top of the hill, and we could find her no more than the
others we were seeking."

The squires had come to this part of their conversation when, the Cortes
being ended, the nobles who had taken part in it began to issue forth
from the Alcazar.

Fernan impressed on his friends the necessity of the strictest secrecy
with regard to that which he had related to them, and went off to the
residence of his master, whom he saw going towards it, accompanied by
Martin Antolinez and Guillen.



CHAPTER XXXIV

WHICH TREATS OF CAVALIERS FREE WITH THE HAND AND PEASANTS FREE WITH THE
TONGUE


As had been determined at the Cortes held at Leon, the king, Don
Fernando, wrote to the allied powers refusing the tribute which the
Emperor of Austria had demanded; also giving the reasons on which that
refusal was based. Meanwhile the Cid, by his orders, was occupied in
getting together an efficient army by means of which Castile would be
able to oppose the foreigners, if they appealed to arms to sustain their
demands, as they had threatened. Seeing that there was not perfect
agreement amongst them, and that, on the contrary, in France and other
countries allied to the Germans, warlike preparations were being made,
Don Fernando consulted the Cid and other cavaliers as to whether he
should cross the Pyrenees or remain in Castile on the defensive. All
upheld the former proposition, for they said: "The less we embarrass the
foreigners the more time will they have to prepare their armies for a
campaign; and if they see us remain quiet in Castile, they will look
upon us as very weak, both in numbers and in courage, as we do not dare
to challenge them on their own soil. Let us make a display of valour,
and our enemies, seeing that we are neither weak nor faint-hearted, will
soon change their opinion."

The Cid then demanded aid from Abengalvon and from the other Moorish
kings, his vassals, and as they not only sent it, but also came
themselves, leading the regiments which they furnished to the
Castilians, the army of Don Fernando soon set out for the French
frontiers.

Don Fernando commanded the main army, composed of eight thousand men,
and Rodrigo Diaz marched in advance, in order to select good quarters.

When the Cid entered the gates of Aspa he found great disturbance
amongst the inhabitants of that district; so much so that they would not
furnish the Castilians with quarters nor sell provisions to them;
moreover, they endeavoured to do as much injury to them as was in their
power.

Rodrigo ordered that the crops and houses of the rebels should be
burned, but that, on the contrary, all those should be well treated who
provided quarters and sold food to them.

On arriving near Tolosa, the Cid learned that large hostile forces were
sallying out to meet him, with the object of preventing his advance. Don
Ramon, Count of Savoy, was approaching with twenty thousand men, and
with full authority from the King of France to engage in hostilities
with the Castilians.

"My army numbers two thousand men," said the Cid, "but we must either
prove to France, and to the entire world, that two Castilian cavaliers
are equal to twenty foreigners, or else die gloriously. Our enemies have
decided to attack us before the king's army can arrive; there are but
two things left to us, either to face them as we are, or to turn back in
order to reinforce ourselves with the soldiers who are coming on with
Don Fernando. Turn back? No, no! Let us rather advance to certain death
than turn our backs to the enemy."

Rodrigo now made his warriors ready for the fight, as his enemies
appeared at but a short distance from them.

"St. James! St. James!" he then cried out, and closed with the hostile
force.

The combat was fierce, and lasted for an hour. In that time prodigies of
valour were performed, not alone by the Castilians but also by the
Moorish warriors who accompanied the Cid, at whose side Abengalvon and
the other Moorish kings fought, and by Guillen of the Standard, to whom
Rodrigo had confided his own, in order to confer a fresh proof of
confidence, and to mark the esteem in which he held him.

The army of the Count of Savoy was cut to pieces, and Don Ramon himself
was taken prisoner.

This first victory of the Castilians filled the allies of the emperor
with terror; nevertheless, the King of France sent against the invaders
a fresh army which he kept in reserve in Gascony.

These forces marched forth to the encounter of the representative of Don
Fernando in the same way as those of the Count of Savoy had done, and,
like those, they were routed by the Cid and his two thousand cavaliers
before the king could arrive to take part in the combat.

The Count of Savoy begged for his liberty, as the fact of his being a
prisoner wounded his pride, and because disturbances which had broken
out in his own states urgently required his presence there. Don Fernando
refused his request, fearing that his object was to organise fresh
forces wherewith to avenge the humiliating defeat which he had suffered.
Don Ramon then offered, as a hostage, his daughter, whom he dearly
loved, and who was very beautiful and discreet. Don Fernando considered
this sufficient, and the count obtained his freedom, leaving his
daughter in the power of the King of Castile.

The allied sovereigns sent letters to Don Fernando, praying him not to
advance farther, and offering to agree to terms for peace; the King of
Castile, as a result, established his headquarters in Toulouse, and sent
the Cid, Alvar Fañez Minaya, Arias Gonzalo, Martin Antolinez, and other
cavaliers to Rome to inform the Pope that ambassadors should proceed to
Spain empowered to treat for peace.

The Pope called together a council, and in it debated as to what steps
should be taken. All were of opinion that the demands of Don Fernando
should be acceded to, for, they said, "if we should decide to settle
this contest by means of arms, no one will dare to oppose this famous
Cid, whom all look upon as invincible." In consequence of this decision,
the king sent, as his plenipotentiary, the Cardinal of Santa Sabina;
others also were sent, with full powers, by the emperor and the other
allied sovereigns, between whom and the King of Castile it was
stipulated, in proper form, that vassalage, of any form whatsoever,
should never be demanded of Spain.

Six months were spent in these preliminaries and treaties, and at the
end of that period the Castilian army recrossed the frontiers, and was
received in Castile with the greatest enthusiasm, which the people gave
expression to by loud acclamations and splendid festivities.

The people of Castile had loved the Cid very much, and that love now
changed almost into adoration after the recent splendid feats of arms of
the brave cavalier, and especially on account of the valour and the
energy with which he had defended the freedom of the kingdom at the last
Cortes in Leon. Nations are extreme in their loves and hatreds. When a
public man should be exalted, they raise him to the very clouds; when
his humiliation is concerned, they drag him through the mire; they
always exaggerate things, whether it is a question of reward or
punishment. The acts of the Cid were really splendid, but in the eyes of
the populace they were very much more.

The inhabitants of Burgos were occupied with the feats of Rodrigo, and
they explained them and commented on them in their own way. Many of his
exploits were pure inventions of popular enthusiasm and credulity; this,
however, only strengthens what we have said, that the Cid was the idol
of the Castilian people.

Just at the entrance into Burgos, on the northern side, resided a worthy
artisan who worked constantly before the door of his house as a farrier.
Our readers already know Iñigo, for that was his name, having seen him
exchange blows with a rustic on the day that Ximena entered the city to
celebrate her nuptials with Rodrigo Diaz. Iñigo was a type of the
populace in its most perfect form; he was talkative, irascible,
enthusiastic, credulous, fond of news, a grumbler--in a word, all that
his class has ever been. A fly scarcely moved in Burgos but Iñigo knew
where it flew to: if he had lived in our times he could have made plenty
of money as a member of the detective police, or as a supplier of events
of the day to some newspaper. If a muleteer entered Burgos on a very hot
day, Iñigo would say to him--

"You are welcome, brother. This is a bad time for travelling. What news
on the roads? Won't you sit down for a while on this bench, and take a
draught of this deliciously cool water which I have here?"

And the muleteer, believing that it would be discourteous if he did not
accept the invitation, would stop to satisfy the curiosity of Iñigo.

If a peasant woman came in when the weather was cold, with a basket of
eggs or other farm produce on her head, Iñigo would say to her--

"You are welcome, sister. This is a bad time to come to town. Is there
any news in your district? Won't you put down your basket, and warm
yourself at the good fire I have here?"

And the peasant woman would do just the same as the muleteer.

If there is added to the information he obtained in this way all that he
picked up from squires who brought their masters' horses to be shod,
from the women and men of the vicinity, who rested themselves, talking
meanwhile of their neighbours' affairs, on the bench of the horse-shoer,
which was pleasantly shaded from the sun, all the world will agree that
Iñigo was exactly suited to fill a position of the nature of those which
we have mentioned above.

Two days after the return of the Cid to Burgos, there entered the city
the same peasant to whom Iñigo had given so sound a drubbing on a former
occasion. The farrier and he had become friends again, to judge by the
way they saluted each other.

"You are welcome, Señor Bartolo," cried out the former on seeing the
peasant.

"God keep you in His guard, Master Iñigo," was the reply.

"I was just saying to myself, that, considering all the news that is
flying about Burgos, it is curious that Señor Bartolo is not coming to
hear it."

"Oh, then there is a lot of news, eh? I swear that one might just as
well be a captive among the Moors as live in a village."

"What, does news never get to Barbadillo?"

"You may say, none. I tell you we live like beasts in the villages.
Whenever I smell any news in the air, I come to the city to see you. And
as you are so wise and clever, and all that kind of thing, you polish me
up a bit. What is to be learned in a village? That a wolf ate a sheep
belonging to Uncle Pellica; that Uncle Colambra got drunk, and gave his
wife a beating; that the daughter of Aunt Valeta fell in love with four
young fellows; and other things of a similar nature. What wonder is it,
then, that one is always bored when living in such a place? I swear I
am."

"It is, indeed, Señor Bartolo, great good luck to live in a city."

"And what gets up my blood most is that my wife is constantly wrangling
with me because I come now and then to the city to learn the news; she
says that I am always neglecting my land and my cattle."

"Your wife must certainly be a great ass, Señor Bartolo."

"And she is not the only one that finds fault with me; all my neighbours
are against me. I was formerly stupid and ignorant like themselves, and
they don't like to see me getting a little knowledge into my head."

"Certainly, Señor Bartolo, your neighbours must be all great
blockheads."

"But I swear I won't stand it any longer; in spite of my wife and
neighbours, I'll get rid of the bit of ground I own, and the cottage I
have in the village, and come to live in Burgos."

"Certainly, Señor Bartolo, you should come to the city, for it is a
great pleasure to know at once all that is passing in the world, and
just at present there's good news coming every day."

"What good news, eh?"

"Good, Señor Bartolo, very good."

"And what is it all about, Master Iñigo?"

"About the Campeador, as you may well suppose."

"By San Pedro of Cardeña, the Cid is a splendid cavalier! But tell me,
tell me, Master Iñigo, the latest news of him."

"I will, Señor Bartolo. You know already what a good beating he gave the
French, don't you?"

"Yes, yes; you told me all about that already. Anger of God! how I
should like to have been on the top of the Pyrenees to see from there
how the Cid and his army treated those French dogs."

"You know also that the Cid was at Rome, with other good cavaliers?"

"Certainly; you told me that too."

"But that which you don't know is what happened there to the Cid."

"What happened to him? Did he fight a terrible battle with that Don
Vaticano, as they call him?"

"Ha, ha, ha!"

"Master Iñigo, are you also making game of me?"

"I was laughing at your ignorance and simplicity, for you are mistaking
the Pope's palace for a cavalier; the Vatican is a palace, and not a
man."

"Curses on the village! living in it has made me the ass I am. May I
become a greater Turk than Mahomet if I don't leave it at once!"

"Learn, then, that the Cid, when he arrived in Rome, went straight to
the church of St. Peter"--

"It's something like a church, I've heard, and not like the one in my
village."

"Yes, Señor Bartolo, they tell wonders of it; they say it is built of
blocks of diamond."

"San Pedro de Cardeña! what a great misfortune it is to live in villages
and not in cities, where there are such riches!"

"Know, then, that the Cid went to St. Peter's to see the throne of the
Pope, which is made of solid gold."

"Anger of God! It must be a fine thing to be a Pope."

"All the Christian kings have seats near the Pope's throne, and when the
Campeador saw that the seat of the King of France was placed a little
higher than that of the King of Castile, he kicked it down."

"I swear that it would have been a great misfortune for me not to know
of that act, so worthy of being known. I certainly shall leave
Barbadillo."

"As the seat of the King of France was made of marble, it broke into
pieces. And what do you think the Cid then did, Señor Bartolo? He took
that of the King of Castile and put it in the principal place."

"My God, what a good vassal! May God preserve him!"

"Then out spoke a duke, who is called the Savoyard, and said to the
Campeador, 'May you be accursed, Rodrigo, and may the Pope excommunicate
you, for having insulted the King of France, the most honoured sovereign
in the world.' 'Leave kings aside,' said the Campeador; 'and if you
consider yourself aggrieved, let us settle this quarrel between us.'"

"And the Cid and the Savoyard fought? I swear that I am delighted with
your story."

"As they were going out of the church, the Campeador went up to the duke
and gave him a shove."

"God's anger! And they came to blows, eh? What did the Savoyard do?"

"He remained very quiet, and made no answer to the Campeador."

"By San Pedro of Cardeña, no one dares to oppose the Cid."

"When the Pope heard of it, he excommunicated Don Rodrigo."

"What do you tell me, Master Iñigo? The Cid excommunicated! What a pity!
for he will begin to dwindle away, as it is said those do who are
excommunicated."

"Such did not happen, for he knelt down with much humility at the feet
of the Pope, and said to him, 'Absolve me, holy father, for it won't be
prudent of you not to do so.' And the Pope gave him absolution, like a
merciful father as he is, saying to him, 'I absolve you, Campeador; but
you must be more circumspect in my Court.'"

"Oh, accursed Barbadillo! such fine things are never heard of there!
Master Iñigo, I am just going back to dispose of all my belongings, and
you shall soon see me here again. You won't see me making an ass of
myself any longer."

"You are right, Señor Bartolo; but won't you tell me what is going on in
your district?"

"I have told you: nothing whatever, Master Iñigo."

The farrier was about to put fresh questions to the peasant, when he
noticed that some muleteers were approaching, who, to judge by their
appearance, had come from some very distant locality. He hastened to
meet them, saluting them in his customary way, in order to satisfy his
curiosity, at the expense of a bench which he kept beside a good fire in
winter, and of a draught of cold water which he had ready to attract
travellers in summer.

A few moments having passed, the peasant and the artisan were listening
with delight to the wonderful bits of news which the muleteers brought
with them, but which need not figure in this book, as they were only
vulgar gossip.



CHAPTER XXXV

OF THE SORROWS WHICH THE COWARDLY DON SUERO CAUSED HIS SISTER


Just at the time that Guillen left the Castle of Carrion to proceed to
the seat of war in Portugal, Bellido Dolfos entered it. The arrival of
the traitor was announced to Don Suero, and satisfaction shone in the
eyes of the count, who hastened to receive Bellido, for he doubted not
but that he brought him some important intelligence, having returned so
soon to the castle.

"What tidings do you bring me? Speak at once," he asked of the
new-comer, even without waiting for his salutation.

"I bring you very important news, sir count."

"Speak, speak!"

"Can any person hear us?"

"No one, Bellido."

"Notwithstanding, it is just as well to shut the door."

And Bellido closed the door of the apartment, and then returned and
seated himself at the side of the count.

"What have you to tell me of that infernal band?"

"I have but little to tell you of the band."

"Then of whom do you bring me news?"

"Of your sister, and of the page."

"They returned to the castle."

"I know that."

"I do not then understand what the news can be that you bring me of
them."

"Calm your impatience, my lord. The attentions of that handsome page
were more than a little pleasing to the Infanta."

"And to me also, Bellido; for this very day I rewarded that loyal
servant, giving him the best of my horses and arms, in order that he
might go to the seat of war. You must have met him near the castle."

"Is he not in the castle now?"

"No."

"I certainly saw a horseman issue forth. Ah, my lord, you have allowed
to escape from your hands him who is the most deserving of your anger."

"By Lucifer, explain yourself, Bellido! What would you tell me?"

"I would tell you that the youth loves your sister, and that your sister
returns his love."

The count jumped to his feet as suddenly as if a serpent had pierced him
with its fangs. Bellido had foreseen his rage, and, in order to lessen
it, had intended to break the information to him; he had, however,
precipitated it, annoyed by the impatience and the imperious tone of Don
Suero.

"Bellido!" exclaimed the count, gazing fixedly at his companion,
"perchance you think that I am in such good humour that I can tolerate
jokes? Do you believe that the Count of Carrion is so much your friend
that you can amuse yourself with him?"

"My lord," answered Bellido humbly, "the vexation you feel grieves me
sincerely; but I can only repeat to you that your sister and the page
are in love with each other, that they vilely deceive you, and"--

"This calumny will cost you your life, Bellido!"

"If what I tell you is not the truth I am quite willing that you cause
me to be hung on the ramparts of your castle."

"What proofs can you give me that you are not calumniating one of the
noblest maidens in Spain?"

"My word, which the loyalty and the zeal with which I have served you,
will vouch for."

"Hell, hell! Must I believe what you tell me? No, I cannot believe it,
Bellido; it cannot be that a miserable page has dared to set his eyes on
the Infanta of Carrion; it cannot be that my sister has opened her ears
to so low-born a youth!"

"My lord, I can well understand your incredulity, but there is nothing
more certain than that which I have told you. Silence reigned in the
camp of the bandits. I know not what made me suspect that the page was
something more than a servant in the eyes of the Infanta; I crept up to
the tent in which both of them were lodged, and, as I found that they
were awake, I applied my ear to the canvas, and surprised the secret of
their love"--

"And if it is a fact that the page loves my sister, why has he
voluntarily left her, in order to go to the war in Portugal?"

"Because he aspires to the hand of your sister, and knows that he must
be at least a knight in order to marry the Infanta of Carrion."

"Oh, everything conspires against me!" exclaimed Don Suero, falling back
into the violent despair which he seemed to have mastered for a moment.
"I suffer on earth all the tortures of hell. They deceive me, they sell
me; my own kinsfolk and strangers murder me slowly. Whom can I trust? My
life appears to be that of the wicked, which my mother often described
to me; not a moment of calm; no happiness that merits such a name,
enemies on all sides; vain projects; desires never satisfied; sadness,
sleeplessness, everlasting despair,--such was the life my mother
pictured to me, and such is mine. Oh! am I one that is accursed? No, I
am not, I am not. If I have treated my servants and my vassals cruelly,
it is because my servants and my vassals detested me, and would have
sold me. If I have enemies and plot their destruction, it is because I
cannot gain their friendship, because they all insult me and conspire
against me. This is to live a life of agony."

And the count, who had bent it down, raised his head suddenly, and such
was the appearance of his countenance, and the glitter of his eyes, that
Bellido made a movement as if to turn away from him, believing that
reason had forsaken him.

"Traitor!" exclaimed Don Suero, "have you come here to take advantage of
what I say? My dagger shall teach you to be more courteous."

Bellido arose from his seat, and placing his hand on the pommel of his
sword, said, endeavouring to render his words as conciliatory as
possible--

"My lord, grief is overcoming you; remember that he who stands by your
side is the only loyal friend in whom you can trust."

Don Suero quickly recovered his senses, which, for a moment, had
abandoned him, and said, holding out his hand to the traitor--

"Pardon me, Bellido, pardon my burst of passion. Yes, yes, you are
right; grief, anger, despair, put me out of my mind. Yes, you are my
sole friend, the only one who has not betrayed me, who has not insulted
me, who feels compassion for me. But is it quite certain that this
miserable page loves my sister, and that she has degraded herself by
returning his love?"

"Nothing, I repeat, is more certain."

"And what is to be done, Bellido, what is to be done?"

"Kill the villain who has thus betrayed your confidence."

"Yes, and the Infanta also deserves to die. A hundred lives, taken one
by one, would not be sufficient to expiate such treason. But where can I
find the page? What a fool I was to let him escape my vengeance! And I
have given him arms--perchance to use them against myself, for, I doubt
it not, that traitor will proceed to Portugal, he will fight against the
Moors, rise from his present low condition, and return, filled with
pride and audacity, to insult me, to challenge me, and to impose
shameful conditions on me."

"As soon as he returns from Portugal he will come to see the Infanta,
and then you will find an opportunity to punish his treachery; but, in
order that he may return to the castle, that he may fall into your
hands, he must not know that you have discovered his insensate love; you
must not let the Infanta know that you even suspect it, for Doña Teresa
would be able to discover some means of advising him, and then the
traitor would remain unpunished."

"Impossible, Bellido, impossible! Can I look on my sister without my
indignation breaking out? Can I put off the punishment, which she
deserves, until the day when that traitor may feel pleased to appear in
my castle?"

"Certainly, my lord, it would be difficult for you to do so; but you
must find some pretext for your annoyance. Say to your sister that you
wish to confer her hand on--the first that comes into your head; your
sister will oppose your wishes, and then you can give vent to your
anger, the real motive of which will not be suspected."

"I shall do so, Bellido, I shall do so. It was a fortunate day on which
I first made your acquaintance, for you are the only man who gives me
loyal advice, who aids me to fight against that cruel fate which
baffles all my enterprises, which upsets all my plans, which does not
leave a moment of tranquillity to my soul. Yes, yes, I intend the hand
of my sister for the son of the Count of Cabra, and my sister does not
yet know of it. The occasion for telling her has arrived."

"But be on your guard, I repeat; do not let her suspect that you know of
her love for the page."

"She shall suspect nothing, Bellido. But tell me now, in what condition
is the band?"

"I believe that it will totally disappear within the next few days.
Although its members are now but few, they are able to defend themselves
against the Salvadores as long as they are all together--they can at
least escape from them if they cannot conquer them as formerly. I have,
however, succeeded in dividing them, under the pretext that such is done
for their security, availing myself of the influence which I have gained
over the Vengador and Rui-Venablos, from the time I prophesied to them
that the band would be destroyed, if they forcibly attacked the Castle
of Carrion. After to-day one half of the bandits will be encamped at a
considerable distance from the other half, so that they could not rejoin
each other quickly, should the two encampments be attacked by the
Salvadores, to whom, before I return to the band I shall give full
information. You can easily imagine that if the bandits were deadly
hostile to you before, they have been much more so since they suffered
such a terrible reverse in your castle. For that reason you should be
delighted to get rid of them quickly."

"Certainly, Bellido, certainly. I trust that, with your assistance, I
shall be able to annihilate those implacable enemies. Continue your
efforts in that direction, and count on my liberality."

"Sir," said Bellido, affecting diffidence, "I venture to ask you for
some money, which I require to add to the considerable sum, which I have
already expended on the bandits in order to win their confidence, so
that I might succeed in realising my plans."

With every coin which he had to give, it seemed to Don Suero that he was
parting with a piece of his heart, for avarice was the moving cause of
most of his evil actions; however, as it was necessary to secure the aid
of Bellido in his favour, he answered, going to the strong chest, in
which he had on a former occasion showed his treasures to Bellido--

"Take, Bellido, the money which you require. Will twenty gold marks be
sufficient for you?"

"That will not be enough," replied Bellido in a humble tone of voice.

"I will give you forty."

"I must have more," said Bellido firmly.

"Take sixty."

"I require as much as a hundred," replied Bellido haughtily.

"Villain!" exclaimed Don Suero in an involuntary burst of indignation;
but a moment's reflection made him recognise that he must be prudent
with Bellido, and he added in a more subdued and friendly voice--

"Pardon me, Bellido; the annoyances to which I have been subjected make
me forget myself sometimes, and I scarcely know what I say or do. Here
are the hundred marks which you require." And he handed them to Bellido,
who took them with a joy which he vainly tried to conceal.

They then arranged some matters relative to the business which had
brought them together, and Bellido quitted the Castle of Carrion.

Let us see what was taking place in the chamber of Doña Teresa whilst
the scene we have described was being acted in that of the count.

When Guillen left the castle, the Infanta took her place at the window
of her apartment in order to see his departure, and her eyes, full of
tears, followed him until he disappeared behind a cluster of trees which
grew at some distance from the castle. How can we explain what the
loving girl experienced at that moment? It seemed to her as if her soul
had quitted her body in order to accompany the handsome youth who was
departing from her; who was going away, perhaps never to return. It
appeared to her that the sky was growing dark, that the fields were
losing their verdure and beauty, that the birds had ceased their
warbling, that her chamber had suddenly become as gloomy, as dark, and
as solitary as it had appeared before she was loved by Guillen; it
seemed to her as if everything was clad in mourning, as if everything
was weeping for the absence of the handsome page. Her eyes remained
fixed for a long time on that part of the landscape where Guillen had
disappeared, trying to catch a glimpse of him, but no, he had
disappeared.

Reader! he who writes this book appeals again to your recollections, to
your experience, to your heart, in order that you may understand that
which his pen is not able to explain. Have you ever seen a beloved
object disappear from your sight, when going on a long journey, as the
poor Teresa saw Guillen? Have you ever walked forth from your native
place, accompanying a beloved being, who was about to be absent for a
long period, in order to prolong for a short time the sad leave-taking,
and when that at last came, did you not ascend an eminence to see the
traveller as far as possible on his way, and did you not follow him with
your gaze until the horizon shut him off from you; and then, when he had
completely disappeared, did not your eyes overflow with tears? If you
have experienced all that, as he has done who writes this, you will
understand the grief, the anguish, the despair with which Teresa saw her
lover disappear behind the distant trees.

The sad girl turned from the window with her heart full of sadness, and
kneeling down before an image of Mary, which she had adorned with
flowers every day formerly, when she was free and happy enough to go out
to gather them in the surrounding fields, now a long time ago, she
besought the "Mother of pure love" to protect the brave and handsome and
loving youth, who had set out to fight for her love and for the
Christian faith, and she felt her heart consoled. In former times, when
she felt her soul sad, the tender, the pure, the sweet Teresa sought
consolation from her mother; but, as she had been taken from her, to
whom could she appeal but to the universal Mother of the afflicted! Oh,
what a sweet, beautiful, and consoling religion is that which gives us
an immortal Mother, so that we may not remain orphans when she who bore
us has departed from us!

Teresa felt consoled; but, her sensibilities being very much excited,
she felt the necessity of conversing with someone whom she loved and who
loved her. Who then could that person be but her brother? She was about
leaving her chamber to go in search of him, when he appeared before her,
and the poor girl trembled when she saw him, for she remarked on the
countenance of her brother a certain expression of anger, which she had
perceived in it on other occasions. However, Don Suero was restraining
himself, and succeeded in somewhat softening that expression; and then
tranquillity and confidence returned to the heart of the Infanta.

"My brother," said Teresa in a sweet and affectionate tone, "accustomed
to be so much by your side, I feel lonely when I am long without seeing
you, and I was therefore going to seek you."

The Infanta spoke the truth when she said this: from the time she had
returned from the bandits' camp she desired to be near her brother, whom
she really loved tenderly, for she believed that he nourished the same
feeling towards her.

"Hypocrite!" said Don Suero to himself, and he was on the point of
breaking the resolution he had made to conceal his anger; but he
conquered that instinctive feeling, and answered his sister kindly--

"I also desire to be near you, Teresa, for you are the only being I
really love. For a long time I was unjust towards you, but at last I
recognised my error, and I wish to repair it by bestowing on you the
happiness which you deserve. My sister, I am about to prove to you that
I anxiously desire your happiness, that I desire to see you honoured,
loved, happy. Have you ever thought on the felicity to which a woman
should aspire?"

"I do not understand you, brother."

"Have you never thought that the greatest happiness of an honoured and
good maiden, as you are, consists in finding a noble and loving
husband?"

The Infanta trembled with fright on hearing this question, and replied--

"Yes, brother, my mother said that to me."

"Well, then, Teresa, your brother is about to bestow that happiness on
you."

The terror of the girl came to its height.

"Brother," she said, "I am still very young, allow me to remain at your
side, for that is the happiness I desire at present."

"Teresa, at the side of the husband whom I destine for you, you will
also have the affection of your brother. Nuño Garciez, the son of the
Count of Cabra, is noble, is brave, and loves you now for a long time."

"Nuño Garciez, the son of the Count of Cabra?" exclaimed Teresa,
terrified.

"Yes, he shall be the husband who will work out your happiness, my
sister."

"Impossible, brother, impossible!"

Anger inflamed the visage of Don Suero.

"Teresa!" he exclaimed, with severity, "do you mean to say that you
refuse the hand of Nuño?"

Teresa could not lie; her sincerity conquered her natural timidity.

"Pardon me, brother," she answered, "but I shall never bestow my hand on
the son of the Count of Cabra."

"May the anger of God strike you! What is that you dare to say,
traitress? Do you repay my affection by opposing yourself insolently and
rebelliously to my will? Teresa, you shall be the wife of Nuño Garciez!"

"Have compassion on me, my brother; do not condemn to eternal sadness,
to eternal pain, to eternal despair this heart which has suffered so
much."

And the Infanta sank down on her knees before her brother, bursting into
tears.

"Have you any for me, perchance?" retorted Don Suero. "Have you
compassion for me when, seeing me surrounded by enemies, you refuse to
procure for me the aid of a family which could help me to triumph over
all my rivals?"

"But I could never love Nuño Garciez, and my vow before the altar would
be horrible perjury. Brother, have pity on me; remember the promise you
made to our mother; remember that she, who gave you life, blessed you
when she was breathing her last; for you had just promised her that you
would be my shield, my protector, my brother--not my executioner"--

"Hell, hell! Arise from your knees, traitress, for your supplications
and tears are unavailing!" roared Don Suero, at the very height of his
rage.

And with a violent push he threw the gentle girl on the floor.

Teresa arose quickly, no longer humble and timid, but haughty as a queen
whom a ruffian has insulted, and said--

"Listen to me, Don Suero, for you do not deserve that my lips should
give you the dear name of brother; perhaps you may be able to escape the
justice of men; perhaps God will permit you to escape even His justice
for some time; perhaps you will torture me as long as I live; but the
Infanta of Carrion will never bestow her hand on the son of the Count of
Cabra, nor on anyone whom her heart has not chosen. A woman may be
dragged to the steps of the altar, may be calumniated, may be
barbarously ill-treated; but if she has courage enough to die without
opening her lips, as I have, that vow cannot be dragged from her--that
vow which alone constitutes the union of husband and wife."

"Silence, silence!" cried Don Suero, clutching at the handle of his
dagger, "or you will force me, at this very moment, to punish your
rebellion."

"I have told you already that you may kill me, for death does not
terrify me; but my hand shall never belong to anyone who is not master
of my heart."

"Then you shall suffer on earth all the tortures of hell; you shall be
scoffed at by even the worst ruffians; ignominy and shame shall follow
you everywhere."

"Shame shall never humiliate my brow, for in my life there never has
been, nor shall there ever be, anything of which I can feel ashamed."

"Do you dare to speak thus, traitress? Bow your haughty brow to the
ground, for the noble Infanta of Carrion cannot raise it proudly when
she has become a renegade to her glorious race by loving one who is
base-born, one of her wretched menials."

Don Suero repented, perhaps, of that burst of anger which had caused him
to reveal to his sister what he had intended to conceal. Teresa trembled
when she heard those words, which showed that her brother was aware of
her love for Guillen; but both of them now felt that dissimulation was
useless, and the masks having been torn off, they made up their minds to
fight face to face.

"Well, then," said the Infanta, "I do confess my love for the menial
whom you allude to; but I feel no shame on that account, for that
menial, that peasant, has a heart as noble as that of the proudest
hidalgo of Castile. I shall never feel shame for having loved him."

"That traitor shall die; he shall die, hung up on the ramparts of my
castle, and his crime shall be everywhere published; it shall be known
that he was the accepted lover of the Infanta of Carrion, and that noble
Infanta will be scoffed at by all, and the Leonese and Castilian nobles
will spit on her face."

"Be it so, Don Suero; the Infanta of Carrion is resolved to encounter
the ignominy with which you threaten her, without ceasing to love
Guillen, the miserable page, the humble peasant, whom she does love with
all her heart."

"Hell, hell!" cried Don Suero, furious, mad with anger, and he pulled
out his dagger to strike down his sister with it; but whether it was
that he was not quite cruel enough to commit so horrible a crime, or
that he wished to reserve his victim for greater tortures, for a more
tedious agony, for a more painful death, he returned the weapon to its
sheath, and in order not to fall again into that barbarous temptation,
he left the chamber of Teresa, speaking to himself in a loud voice, like
a madman, whilst traversing the corridors that lay between his
apartments and those of his sister.

When he had become somewhat calm, he took a sheet of parchment, wrote
some lines, fastened it up, called Gonzalo, and said to him--

"Start for Burgos at once, and deliver this letter to the Count of
Cabra; gallop, do not spare the best horse in my stables. It is now
midday; if you are not back by midnight you shall be hung on the
ramparts."

"But, my lord," the servant ventured to say, "that time is necessary for
the journey thither alone; it is a twelve-hours' journey from Carrion to
Burgos."

"Villain! do you dare to disobey your master?" exclaimed the Count, and
laying his hand on his dagger he rose from his seat.

Gonzalo retreated a few paces, terrified, and cried out--

"Pardon, my lord, pardon; I shall obey your orders; I shall be back from
Burgos even sooner than you say, if such is your desire."

And the servant started from the castle a few minutes afterwards,
spurring to a full gallop the very best horse that was to be found in
the stables.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE KING IS DEAD--LONG LIVE THE KING


Some time has passed since the events which we have narrated in the
preceding chapters. Fresh victories gained over the Moors, in the
eastern portion of Castile, have raised more and more the glory of Don
Fernando, of the Cid, and of the cavaliers who accompanied the latter.

Suddenly, however, both Castilians and Leonese were shocked by rumours
which suddenly flew about in all directions: Don Fernando, the great,
the noble the brave, the prudent and wise, was about to exchange his
crown for a far richer one--one far more brilliant and lasting, for that
which God places on the heads of the just in heaven. Years, together
with the constant fatigues endured in the defence of the Christian faith
and in the government of the nation which the King of kings had placed
in his charge, had broken down his health, had weakened his energies,
and had brought him to the gates of eternity.

He was in Cabezon, near Valladolid, occupied with the government of his
kingdom, when he found that his health was rapidly failing, and he
ordered that he should be brought to his Alcazar in Leon, to the
bosom of his family, near to the holy temples erected by his
never-to-be-forgotten religious fervour. "They carried him," writes
Mariana, "in a military litter, borne by hand; the soldiers and exalted
private persons were constantly changed, by his orders, on account of
the rivalry which was displayed in the work; such was the love that both
humble and great felt for him."

As soon as he arrived in Leon, although his disease had become much
aggravated, he got himself carried to the churches, and visited the
bodies of the saints, where he prostrated himself on the ground, with
all the marks of the most ardent and fervent piety. This holy task
completed, he was borne to his Alcazar, where he made his will, dividing
his estates amongst his children in the following manner:--"To Don
Sancho, the eldest," writes the above-mentioned historian, "he
bequeathed the kingdom of Castile, as it extends from the river Ebro to
the river Pisuerga; all that he inherited of Navarre, by the death of
Don Garcia, he added to Castile. The kingdom of Leon he left to Don
Alfonso, with the district of Campos, and the portion of the Asturias
which extends as far as the river Deva, which flows by Oviedo, together
with some towns of Galicia which belonged to him. To Don Garcia, the
youngest, he gave the remainder of the kingdom of Galicia, and the
portion of the kingdom of Portugal which he had taken from the Moors.
All three were to be called kings. To Doña Urraca he bequeathed the city
of Zamora; to Doña Elvira the city of Toro. These cities were called the
'Infantado,' a word used at that period to signify the estates left to
maintain the Infantes, the younger children of the kings."

Many grandees of the kingdom were gathered round Don Fernando at that
time, amongst whom were Arias Gonzalo, Peranzures, Alvar Minaya, Martin
Antolinez, Diego Ordoño de Lara, and Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, and they all
urged him not to divide the realm into so many portions, for it was to
be feared that his doing so would give rise to sanguinary wars.

"Sire," said to him the honoured Arias Gonzalo, "remember the
dissensions and the hostilities which were caused by the division which
your father, the King of Navarre, made of his kingdom. Leave behind you
one compact and strong realm, and not several poor and disunited
states."

Don Fernando gazed round his bed, and saw there, weeping disconsolately,
all his children.

"Arias," he answered to the loyal old man, "all those whom you see
weeping are my children, all have an equal claim on my affection, and I
love them all equally. Why do you desire that I should favour one to the
detriment of the others? When I captured a fortress from the Moors, when
I conquered them on the field of battle, do you know what was the first
thought that entered my mind? I considered that I possessed one jewel
the more to leave to my children, and then I saw no difference between
them, as I thought on all of them; for, I repeat it, my good Arias, all
my sons have an equal right to my love. I now do what both my conscience
and my heart prompt, and I trust that my sons shall always live in
concord, shall always love each other as they have hitherto done, and
shall always be brothers."

Arias Gonzalo inclined his noble and rugged brow, as a mark of respect
to the will of his dying king.

His malady became rapidly worse; nevertheless, on the following day,
which was the second one before Christmas, he caused himself to be
carried to the church of St. Isidore, where he heard mass with great
devotion, and received communion.

On the day before Christmas he returned to the same church, clad in the
robes and insignia of state, and, having been placed near the sepulchre
of the holy Archbishop, he exclaimed in a loud voice, directing his gaze
towards the altar--

"Lord! Thine is the power, Thine it is to command, all are subject to
Thee, kings are Thy servants. I return to Thee the kingdom which I
received from Thy hand, and I ask from Thee that my soul may enjoy Thy
eternal glory."

Having said this, he laid aside his crown and mantle, received Extreme
Unction from the hands of one of the many prelates who were present,
caused himself to be clothed with haircloth, and got his head covered
with ashes, in which condition he left the church.

On the next day, towards evening, feeling that his life was touching on
its close, he summoned his sons and daughters, and also his queen, Arias
Gonzalo, Rodrigo Diaz, and some other persons.

"You, my good Sancha," he said to the queen, "have always loved me, as
the best of wives. In the name of the love which you have felt for me,
in the name of God, and in the name of the people whose happiness you
have always had so much at heart, I charge you to take good care of our
children, to guide them along the paths of virtue; I know the power
which a mother, so good as you are, exercises over her children, and in
order that I may quit this world with a peaceful soul, it will suffice
that you make me the promise which I ask from you."

"I swear to you, my dear husband, that I will fulfil your wishes; I
swear it to you by the salvation of my soul," answered Doña Sancha,
bursting into tears, and kneeling down beside the bed of the dying king.

He ordered his children to come near him.

"My children," he said to them, "the words with which Christ inculcated
love to mankind contain the chief counsels which I desire to give you,
'Love each other.' Obey your mother in everything, so that, guided by
her advice, you may never stray from the path of duty. You, my good
Urraca, are about to take up your residence in the city of Zamora, you
will have near you Arias Gonzalo, who has his house there, and who will
return to it as soon as, by my death, he shall be freed from the duties
which he at present discharges in my Alcazar; consult him, ask his
advice in all difficult affairs, and trust in him, for he is honourable
and wise, and will be as a father to you."

"I shall never forget your counsels, my father," replied the Infanta.

"Nor I, sire," said Arias; "I shall serve your daughter with the same
loyalty and goodwill with which I always served you."

"Sancho," then continued Don Fernando, "you already know the love which
I have always had for the Cid, and the services which he has rendered to
faith and country, as an honourable and brave cavalier. It is fortunate
for you that you will have him by your side. Love him as I have loved
him, honour him as I have honoured him, ask his advice before you come
to any resolution, and what he counsels do always."

"Father," replied Don Sancho, "you know the esteem in which I have
always held the Cid; I swear to you that he shall have the same exalted
place in my heart which he has had in yours."

Don Fernando recommended to Don Garcia the friendship of a Galician
cavalier, named Rui-Ximenes, and to Elvira that of another, whose
ancestral residence was in Toro, but whose name the "Chronicles" do not
mention; he then added, turning towards his children--

"Swear to me, my children, that, content with the possessions which I
have given to each of you, no one of you will ever declare war against
the other, to take from him any of those states which your dying father
has bequeathed."

"We swear it, father and king!" answered all, except Don Sancho, who
remained silent.

Don Fernando noted this, and said--

"May the malediction of heaven fall on the Cain who will take up arms
against his brother!"

He then ordered the Cid to approach his bed, and said to him--

"Rodrigo, swear to me that you will never draw your sword against a son
or daughter of mine, unless you see that such is necessary in order to
protect one of them from the oppression of another, and that your strong
arm must be used for that purpose."

"Sire, I swear it to you!" replied the Cid, with deep emotion, for his
heart was pierced with grief when he saw that his king was near his last
breath; he who had been so dear a friend to him, the old man whom he had
loved so much, whom he had served so well, and from whom he had received
so many proofs of affection.

"Breath is failing my breast!" said Don Fernando in a very weak voice.

Then his queen, his children, all present, indeed, knelt around the bed,
exclaiming with sobs--

"Give us your benediction, sire, give us your benediction!"

The dying king blessed all of them; but when he heard their weeping, he
made a strong effort to restore to his voice something of the energy
which was rapidly departing from it, and said to them--

"Do not weep for me, my wife, my children, my cavaliers, my good
servants! No pain afflicts my body or my soul; my spirit is sweetly
exhaling itself away like the perfume of the flowers on a beautiful May
morning; it is not by physical suffering that my vital forces are
weakened, but what is formed from nothingness naturally returns to its
origin. I trust in the divine mercy, I trust in God that He will blot
out my sins from His recording book, and I go tranquil and even joyous
to the gates of eternity. If worldly things can be of any importance to
those who are about to leave them for ever, should I not be content to
see grouped around my bed those whom I have most loved in the world?"

The king was then silent for some moments, remaining as if in a calm
sleep. Then his face became animated, a smile appeared on his lips--a
sweet, peaceful smile, like that of a child that, in its sleep, sees
itself surrounded by angels.

"What sweet music!" he murmured; "what harmonious singing comes to my
ears! What brilliancy surrounds me! What beautiful children, maidens,
and youths surround me, all clad in white garments! What a bright throne
do I see there--there!... They lead me to it. No, no, it is not the
throne of Castile--it is more beautiful, more rich.... But--what
perfumes do I inhale!--what delights!--they intoxicate me!"

And the voice of the monarch ceased--ceased for ever.

And many of those who were in the chamber exclaimed--

"Blessed are the just who die thus! Blessed are those who die in the
Lord!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The children of the dead king, Don Fernando, when they took possession
of the states which their father bequeathed to them, dedicated
themselves peacefully to the government of them, without ceasing to
yield obedience to their mother, Doña Sancha, as their father had
commanded them, in which task the Cid aided Don Sancho very much, who
loved and respected that brave and loyal cavalier.

"The crown became Don Sancho well," writes an historian, "for he was of
good presence, and a goodly man; of great prowess, more skilled in the
affairs of war than in those of peace. On that account he was called Don
Sancho the Strong. Pelagio Ovetense says that he was very handsome, and
very skilful in war. He was well-conditioned, quiet and tractable, if
not irritated by some annoying matter, or if false friends, under the
pretence of doing him a service, did not deceive him. After the death of
his father he complained that, by the division of the kingdom, an
injustice had been done to him; that the entire kingdom should have been
his, and that it had been weakened by its division into so many parts;
he talked over this in private with his friends, and showed it even on
his countenance. His mother, as long as she lived, restrained him by her
authority, and prevented him from declaring war against his brothers."

Some Moorish kings in Aragon, who had paid tribute to his father,
refused to recognise vassalage to him, and he prepared to compel them by
force of arms. He collected together an army for that purpose, and,
accompanied by the Cid, set out for Aragon. The Moors were routed in
several pitched battles; he captured many fortified places from them,
and consequently forced them to continue to pay tribute to Castile. He
had now only to conquer Almugdadir, King of Saragosa, who, but a short
time before, had succeeded Ali, one of the five who had been captured by
the Cid in the battle of the Oca Mountains. He encamped before that
city, which was of much importance in various ways, encircling it and
attacking it with vigour; it was defended by strong walls and a numerous
garrison, accustomed to war, and the Castilians were repulsed in several
assaults; in the end, however, Almugdadir made terms and yielded, it
being agreed that he should break off his alliance with Don Ramiro, King
of Aragon, and pay tribute to Don Sancho; the latter binding himself, on
his part, to defend him against any power which might wage war on him,
whether Christian or Moslem.

Don Sancho was much enraged against Don Ramiro for having aided the
people of Navarre, his enemies, who very often made raids and irruptions
into the territories of Castile, committing all kinds of depredations;
and Don Ramiro, on his side, was very angry with Don Sancho, for he
considered that he had humiliated him by having conquered Saragosa,
which had been under obedience to him; and the conquest of which, he
believed, only appertained to him.

The Aragonese were stationed at the Castle of Grados erected by the
Moors on the bank of the river Esera, that it might serve as a defence
against the invasions of the Christians, and, quitting their fortified
position, they sallied forth to encounter Don Sancho, in order to demand
satisfaction from him for the affront which they considered they had
received.

Don Sancho asked the advice of the Cid, before replying to the demands
of Don Ramiro.

"Sire," answered Rodrigo, "I do not believe that the King of Aragon
denies entirely your right to compel to obedience those infidels, who
acknowledged vassalage to Castile during the lifetime of your father, or
that Don Ramiro denies that the Christian kings of Spain should not have
equal right to seize on the territories occupied by the infidels.
Explain to him with courtesy, but without in any way lowering your
dignity, the reasons on account of which you considered yourself
justified in attacking the Moors of Aragon, and if, not satisfied with
these reasons, he should take up arms, let you do the same; sustain the
general opinion, that Castile should never let itself be made a vassal
by either Moors or Christians. It is certainly a painful thing to have
to fight against Christians, but it is not less so that Christians
should seek to reduce to vassalage Castile, which for centuries has
fought against the Crescent. Remember what your father did when the
Germans, who were also Christians, sought to impose vassalage on him. If
at the beginning of your reign you do not gain the reputation of
firmness and bravery, even though you may have to fight against
Christians, you will be considered pusillanimous, and even the weakest
will dare to oppose you."

This advice of Don Rodrigo was very pleasing to Don Sancho, for both
their views on this subject were identical, and the King of Castile
answered, in a courteous but dignified manner, the King of Aragon; Don
Ramiro, however, who did not want explanations, but rather some pretext
to avenge his resentment, would not listen to those of Don Sancho, but
at once prepared his army for battle. Don Sancho did the same, and the
fight commenced with a fury not often seen.

Don Sancho and the Cid, accompanied by Diego Ordoñez de Lara, a cavalier
much devoted to the king and to Rodrigo, and by other good knights,
amongst whom were Guillen of the Standard, Alvar Fañez Minaya, and
Martin Antolinez, were the first that closed with the army of Aragon.

The battle lasted for many hours, and much blood was shed on both sides,
but in the end Don Ramiro had to abandon the field in very great
disorder. Don Sancho, satisfied with having taught such a lesson to the
Aragonese, ceased the pursuit, for to follow up his victory would only
cause the shedding of more Christian blood.

The Moors, however, who garrisoned the Castle of Grados, when they
learned that the army had retreated, filled with dismay and with its
forces much weakened, sallied forth against it and annihilated it; Don
Ramiro having been killed in this battle before Don Sancho could come to
his assistance, for as soon as he learned that he, whom he had just
defeated as his principal enemy, was in great danger, he advanced to the
place, rather distant, where the Aragonese and Moors were fighting.

The latter turned back to shut themselves up again in Grados, being much
in dread of the Castilians; and, as that fortress was impregnable, and
as Don Sancho had not been offended directly by those who garrisoned it,
the Castilians did not consider it prudent to remain longer in Aragon,
and therefore returned to Castile, satisfied with the success which they
had achieved.

The people of Castile, who still deplored the loss of Don Fernando,
changed their mourning into gladness on account of those glorious
triumphs; hoping to find in Don Sancho a king as brave, as wise, and as
great as he was whom they had recently lost.

Don Sancho, desirous of celebrating the propitious commencement of his
reign, and wishing to return the proofs of affection which his people
had given to him, conceded to them many privileges and favours, and
showed himself specially generous to those who had accompanied him
during his campaign in Aragon. This increased the public rejoicings very
much.

Guillen of the Standard did not receive the least share of his princely
munificence. Don Sancho had seen him fighting bravely in all the
battles, and, as he desired to reward his valour, and knew that the
brave youth was ambitious of honours, he gave him such titles of
nobility that Guillen could envy few nobles by privilege, a name which
was given to those who were ennobled, not by blood, but through the
privileges received from the king as recompenses for personal actions.

All the Castilians, however, did not share in the munificence of Don
Sancho. He bore in mind the nobles who, having it in their power to
accompany him in the campaign, did not do so, and he took care to
manifest his vexation towards them by leaving them unrewarded.



CHAPTER XXXVII

HOW CERTAIN CAVALIERS WENT FOR WOOL AND CAME BACK SHORN


Seldom was seen such activity and life in the Castle of Carrion, in
which, usually, solitude reigned: many cavaliers were arriving at the
gates of that gloomy edifice, which, during the greater part of the
year, seemed to be uninhabited, as its owner, enclosed almost always
within those dark walls, lived apparently without any communication with
the outside world.

What event can explain such an assemblage of strangers in the Castle of
Carrion? Amongst those cavaliers might be seen the Count of Cabra and
other nobles, as well known as Don Garcia for their ungovernable,
intriguing, and envious characters.

Let us see what they were occupied with.

In a large apartment of the castle about a dozen cavaliers were
assembled, whilst their servitors were talking of love and war in the
adjoining rooms, under the eye of Bellido Dolfos, who was moving about
amongst them, apparently indifferent to their talk.

Let us listen to Don Suero, who took the initiative in the debates of
that assembly.

"The Count of Cabra and I," he said, "have come to the conclusion that
the Castilian and Leonese nobility, which has always occupied an
honoured position by the side of kings, commenced to see itself lowered
and humiliated in the time of Don Fernando I., on account of the favour
enjoyed by De Vivar, that ambitious soldier who has succeeded in making
himself absolute master of the will of the monarch, so that he will only
hearken to his counsels. It was to be hoped that Don Sancho II. would
atone for the shortcomings of his father, by letting himself be guided
by the advice of his nobles, and not exclusively by that of this soldier
of fortune, whom, as he would not quit his side, he should only consult
in matters of war--for instance, whether it were better to take a
fortress by escalade or by bursting in its gates with the battering-ram.
But has the new king done this? No; far from it, he consults the Cid in
all affairs of state, and follows his counsels blindly, without
admitting to his presence the nobles of the kingdom--such is the
contempt with which he treats us, and the distance at which he holds
us."

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed all his hearers; "we must assert our dignity by
putting an end to the influence and the exclusive favour which De Vivar
enjoys with the king, before the evil progresses so far that its cure
would be impossible."

"Remember," said the Count of Cabra, "what the king did when he was
setting out for the campaign in Aragon: he consulted the Cid as to the
prudence of undertaking that enterprise, and he undertook it because
that was the will of De Vivar, who, in addition to being ambitious,
always seeks for opportunities to increase his wealth by the spoils of
war. It was a very ancient custom in Castile to assemble a Cortes before
undertaking enterprises of such importance as that of leading an army
against another state, and subduing it by fire and sword; but Don Sancho
considers the caprice of an individual superior to all old customs, to
expedience, and to what he owes to the nobility of his kingdom. If,
perchance, he forgets that there are other nobles in Castile besides the
friends of De Vivar, let us bring it to his mind, gentlemen."

"And if he pays no attention to the arguments by which we back up our
demands," added one of the nobles, "we intend to compel him by means of
our men-at-arms; for, if the vassal owes obedience to the king, vassals,
on their side, when they are as noble as we are, have the right to
demand that the king should respect their honour and the privileges
which they, or their ancestors, won by the sword."

"I can count on a hundred lances to help to humble the arrogance of De
Vivar," said one of the counts there assembled.

"And I the same number."

"And I two hundred."

"I with three hundred."

"Five hundred stand at my disposal."

And in succession were mentioned all the men-at-arms who could be
counted on to dictate terms to Don Sancho, in case he should refuse
their demands; the Count of Cabra, however, who, it must be
acknowledged, possessed much foresight and skill in hatching
conspiracies, objected.

"It is a great and important thing to trust to arms when reasoning
fails; but we must remember that the campaign of Aragon has given to Don
Sancho and to the Cid great prestige and fame amongst the people; also,
that De Vivar has very many friends, and that he is daring, skilful, and
strong in battle. Let us respectfully protest against the excessive
favour shown to De Vivar, and if Don Sancho pays no attention to us, let
us conceal our displeasure, let us win friends, and let us dispose the
people in our favour by letting them see, by skilful management, how
undeserved is the incense which they burn before their idol, and when we
are in a position to feel sure of success, we shall express our
indignation publicly."

All present expressed their approval of the plan of Don Garcia.

"You know already," he continued, "that Don Ramiro owed the destruction
of his army and his death to the Castilians, to the injustice of Don
Sancho, or rather to the disloyal counsels which the Cid gave to the
King of Castile. Well, then, this fact can aid us in carrying out our
plans. Don Sancho Ramirez, the new King of Aragon, will aid us, should
we require his help, for he is panting to avenge the death of his
father."

The views of the Count of Cabra received the full approbation of all
present, and filled Don Suero with joy, for he considered himself, even
already, freed from De Vivar, who was his everlasting nightmare; and
having arranged as to the manner in which they should make their protest
to the king against the excessive privileges enjoyed by Rodrigo, and
having sworn to go on with their enterprise, the meeting broke up, the
conspirators setting out for Burgos, where Don Sancho held his Court.

Don Suero went as far as the gate of his castle to see them off, where
he held out his hand to Don Garcia, with all the marks of friendship and
gratitude.

"Don Suero," said the Count of Cabra to him, "you do not give me a
favourable message to bear back to my son."

"Tell him," answered De Carrion, "that he may trust in my promise to
reward the services of the father by giving to the son the hand of my
sister."

"Have you already arranged with the Infanta?"

"Yes, Don Garcia; Doña Teresa now knows who the husband is whom I
destine for her."

"And she accepts?"

"She is delighted."

"Oh, then I have good news to bring to Don Nuño. When I return to see
you I shall bring my son with me, for, as he has loved your sister for a
long time, it will afford him the greatest pleasure to see her."

"My sister," replied Don Suero, somewhat disturbed, "is so timid and
bashful that, although she longs to see the young man whom she is to
marry, she will avoid his presence until the day when she can give him
the name of husband. Don Nuño, as yourself, can honour my house when it
pleases him; but tell him, that if my sister should not venture to let
herself be seen by him, he must not be offended by that."

"Then, Don Suero, I believe that the day is not far distant when your
family and mine shall become relations, and we shall defer until then
the first interview between your sister and my son."

"Thanks, Don Garcia, for your desire to please both my sister and me."

"Trust in my friendship, and do not doubt, but that with the aid of the
cavaliers who accompanied me here, we shall triumph over De Vivar, over
that arrogant soldier, from whom you have received so many insults. If
fate was against us in the ambush which we prepared for De Vivar when he
was going to the Cortes at Leon, and if the Moors, his allies, did not
wish to second our plans when they went to his assistance against the
allies of the Emperor of Germany, it was because we were fighting alone;
but it will be a different thing now, as we can count on powerful
auxiliaries, and have arranged a good plan of operations. But you have
told me nothing of that treacherous page who dared to set his eyes on
your sister."

"That disloyal fellow is so beneath contempt that I would only lower
myself by speaking of him."

"And I believe that it would be an insult to your sister were I to ask
if you have remarked whether Doña Teresa returns his mad love."

"As to that, Don Garcia, have no uneasiness: my sister was filled with
indignation when she learned that the youth had dared to set eyes on
her. That traitor forgot for a moment his low condition, and believed
that it was allowable to fall in love with his mistress; but she would
have got him driven from the castle with cudgels, if she had known to
what an extent his audacity went. If we find an opportunity to chastise
him as much as he deserves, we shall take advantage of it; if not, let
us simply despise him as a madman. What can prevent a rustic from
secretly loving, I will not say the Infanta of Carrion, but even Doña
Urraca, the Infanta of Zamora?"

"Do you know of the favours which the Cid has lavished on him?"

"That, Don Garcia, is another reason that both you and I should hate De
Vivar."

"Certainly, certainly, Don Suero. We shall both be avenged; have no
doubt of that."

Thus speaking, the Count of Cabra hastened to mount his steed, and
galloped off to overtake his friends, who had already ridden some
distance.

Two days afterwards the king, Don Sancho, was conversing with his mother
in the Alcazar of Burgos, when Doña Sancha said to her son--

"If the will of your father, if the wishes of a dying man do not suffice
to make you content with the kingdom of Castile as your inheritance, the
tears of your mother should be sufficient to do so--she who would give a
hundred lives to prevent her children fighting against each other."

"Mother," replied Don Sancho, "I swear to you, that if my brothers do
not provoke a war, I shall not do so,--but allow me the right to
complain here, where none but you hears me, of the injustice which was
done me by dividing the kingdom into five parts and giving me one of
them, when I should have received all. The kingdom of Castile and Leon,
in its entirety, should have gone to the eldest son of Don Fernando I."

"Reason and justice are superior to custom, my son. Why should a father
disinherit one son because he happened to come into the world a short
time after another? In order that a king may be good, he must be just;
he must be guided by reason; for these causes your father gained the
name of Great, and only thus shall you also merit it. His brother
challenged your father to battle, but your father refused to accept that
challenge until his kingdom of Castile was invaded. Don Garcia having
been conquered and slain, your father had the right to take possession
of Navarre, and he did so. If you desire to imitate your father, how far
should you be from declaring war against your brothers, who do not
provoke you to do so."

"I shall not do it, mother, I repeat to you, even though I consider
myself very much aggrieved."

"Castile is a kingdom which the most powerful monarchs envy, its people
are as loyal as they are brave and warlike; the Castilians love you, and
a courageous soul beats in your breast. Leave your brothers and sisters
in peaceful possession of their states, and enlarge your own by
conquering, with the sword, and by the aid of the good cavaliers who
surround you, infidel territories, with the possession of which Castile
will become so great and redoubtable that powerful rulers will come to
offer vassalage to you."

"Yes, yes, I shall do so, mother; I shall thus satisfy that ambition
which, in spite of myself, continually disquiets me."

"My son, you do not know how that ambition weighs upon the heart of your
mother."

"And do you not know why I am ambitious? Do you not know, mother? It is
because I cannot live in a close circle without feeling that I am being
smothered; it is because small and petty things are repugnant to my
soul; it is because my spirit is only contented with the grand and the
magnificent. The title of king is but a mockery when he who bears it
only rules over a small state which can be ridden through in a few
days."

"Well, then, my son, if mean things are hateful to you, respect the will
of your father, and love your brothers, for it would be paltry not to do
so."

"My father impressed on me that I should always let myself be guided by
your counsels and by those of Rodrigo Diaz; I shall obey him, mother."

"Yes, my son, let not De Vivar quit your side, give heed to his
counsels, for none can give them to you as loyally and as wisely as that
good cavalier."

"Oh, my mother, you cannot know how much the friendship, which I always
had for Rodrigo, has increased, since the crown of Castile first
encircled my brow, and especially since, with his aid, I reduced to
obedience the Moors of Aragon and conquered Don Ramiro. How invaluable
were his advice and his sword to me at that time! It seemed to me that,
having the Cid at my side, there was no enterprise that I could not
bring to a successful issue; it seemed to me, that if the entire earth
declared war against me, I could conquer it with the aid of the Cid."

Don Sancho was interrupted by the entrance of one of his servants who
announced to him the arrival at the Alcazar of a deputation from the
Castilian nobility, which solicited an audience. Don Sancho gave orders
that those nobles should be admitted to his presence.

A few minutes after the Count of Cabra and some more of those whom we
have seen assembled in the Castle of Carrion stood in the presence of
the king.

"Sire," said Don Garcia, with all the marks of profound respect, "many
nobles, your vassals, have sent us to you to offer their congratulations
on the glorious triumphs which you have recently won in Aragon."

"Triumphs," replied the king, "which the Castilian nobility have helped
me to win, by accompanying me in the campaign and fighting bravely."

The Count of Cabra and those who were with him perceived at once the
reproach which Don Sancho had aimed at them, and were on the point of
exhibiting their vexation; they restrained themselves, however; and Don
Garcia continued, as if he had not noticed the irony which was contained
in the words of the king--

"Sire, the nobles who have commissioned us to bring you their
salutations do not belong to the number of those who followed you to
Aragon."

"Who then are they, Don Garcia?"

The Count of Cabra began to give the names of his friends.

"Have you not told me that you come on the part of the Castilian
nobility?"

"Certainly, sire, for the nobles I have named are the most exalted
amongst them."

"And the most exalted nobles of Castile remained quietly in their
castles whilst their king was fighting against the enemies of God and of
their country?"

"Sire, the grandees who salute you have given abundant proofs of their
valour and of their devotion to their king; if they did not accompany
you to the war of Aragon it was because years, infirmities, or urgent
private affairs did not permit it. Besides, sire, they believe that, if
the king keeps them at a distance and does not seek their counsels, he
does not require their aid when he engages in important enterprises,
such as that of making war on foreign states."

Indignation coloured the visage of Don Sancho, who interrupted the Count
of Cabra, exclaiming--

"As God lives, I shall chastise the audacity of the subjects who thus
insult their lord! Let both you and those who sent you understand
clearly, that the King of Castile will not tolerate any fault-finding
from his vassals."

"Sire, it is not our desire to find fault with you, but to beseech you
to show that consideration towards us which our exalted position
merits, and which was always shown to our ancestors; we desire that in
the Court of Castile there should be favours for all nobles, and not for
a few, or rather for one only."

"What is this you say to your king, traitors?"

"Sire!" exclaimed almost all of the nobles present, in indignation,
"what is this you say to us? You have stained the honour of the most
noble cavaliers of Castile."

"No, they are not nobles who dare to impose laws on their sovereign, who
dare to speak before him in the outrageous and arrogant way in which you
have spoken!" replied Don Sancho, not less irritated than those who were
listening to him.

"It would be a stain on our honour," continued the Count of Cabra,
abandoning entirely the affected humility with which, at first, he had
addressed the king,--"it would be a stain on our honour if we were not
to bring our complaints before you with the frankness which befits good
cavaliers. You offend us, sire, by keeping us away from your Alcazar,
forgetting what is due to us, and the right we have to share in the
favours which you lavish on De Vivar and his friends, in order that you
may retain their support."

"Silence, silence! and do not dare to profane with your lips the name of
the Cid Campeador, or the names of his friends and mine! I understand
your desire; you would withdraw from my side the most honoured cavalier
of Castile, the strongest pillar of my throne, the best servant of my
father, the terror of the enemies of the Christian faith? Depart from my
presence, for anger burns in my heart at seeing before me men with such
despicable souls as yours."

"Sire, recognise what we are, and what our rights are!"

"Justice of God!" exclaimed Don Sancho, now no longer able to restrain
his anger. "Must I tolerate that traitor vassals should threaten me in
my own palace? No, as God lives, no! there are executioners in my Court
who this very day shall make your heads roll in the dust!" Then, turning
towards the door of the apartment, he called out in a loud voice, "My
guards hither! My guards hither!"

About a dozen archers immediately appeared, to whom the king said--

"Lead off these traitor nobles and shut them up in a prison, from which
they shall only come forth to the scaffold."

The archers were about to obey the king, when those men, who had showed
themselves so audacious only a few moments before, bent their knees
before the enraged monarch, stricken with terror--

"Pardon, sire, pardon!"

Don Sancho made a sign to the archers to retire, and darting a glance at
the nobles, which expressed both the contempt and indignation that
filled his soul, he said to them--

"Rise, despicable cowards; men as noble as you say you are should not
touch the floor with their immaculate brows. Be off from my sight; such
baseness afflicts my soul. Depart from my Court at once, and never
return to it, for if my eyes rest on you again, they shall be as those
of the basilisk, which kills by its glances."

The counts hastened to quit the Alcazar, and even the city, with all the
haste which the king had commanded.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

HOW THE PEASANT OF BARBADILLO WENT TO BURGOS, WITH OTHER THINGS WHICH
THE READER WILL LEARN


We must now cast a rapid glance on the mansion of De Vivar, for none of
its inhabitants deserve to be forgotten; we shall not, however,
penetrate into the principal apartments, for in the entrance-hall we
shall meet those who will engage our attention for a brief period.
Fernan and Alvar were there, chatting in a friendly manner: we must
certainly lend some attention to their conversation, for it is not
altogether foreign to the story which we are endeavouring to relate.

"Is it long since you were at Vivar?" asked Alvar.

"I have been there twice since we returned from Aragon."

"And did you go to the house of Pero?"

"Of course; our master and mistress are so fond of Beatrice that they
would never forgive me if I were not to bring them tidings of her and
her family whenever I happen to be near the dwelling of Pero."

"And what about Beatrice? Is she as gentle and beautiful as at the time
when you and I caught fire from the glances of her eyes?"

"More so than even then, brother."

"Anger of God! how fortunate that Martin Vengador is to have won the
love of such a splendid girl!"

"And how much more fortunate he is to have gained so much favour in the
eyes of our master!"

"Don Rodrigo certainly thinks a great deal of that youth. You saw what a
large share of the booty he assigned to him after the campaign in
Aragon."

"And his generosity did not stop there with regard to that Martin."

"What? Has he bestowed additional favours on him?"

"He has promised to do so on the occasion of his marriage with
Beatrice."

"And what favours are those, Fernan?"

"Don Rodrigo and Doña Ximena are to be groomsman and brideslady at the
wedding of Martin and Beatrice; and they are to receive as gifts, for
themselves and their descendants, a house and excellent lands on the
estate of Vivar."

"Do you know what you should do?"

"What, Alvar?"

"Marry Mayorica, before their wedding, and see if our lord and lady will
give you as valuable gifts as they will give to that youth."

"They would give them to me, for they are liberal to those who serve
them faithfully."

"Well, if it is so, why don't you marry?"

"I shall do so very soon, Alvar: yesterday I promised Mayorica, who is
mad to be married, for she says that if she cannot get me to church now,
while she is still young and comely, she won't be able to do so later
on. Her complaints almost upset my patience."

"And will you keep your promise to her?"

"I have made it, and I shall keep it, although I was never so much
against it as now."

"May the Moors kill me if I understand you! Why should you be unwilling
to get married, when you are well off, when you can have a gentle and
loving bride, and hopes of rich presents? Is not Mayorica pleasing to
you?"

"She pleases me as much as ever, Alvar, but--listen, for I am about to
confide a great secret to your discretion."

Fernan looked round to see if there was anyone present who might hear
him, and, not seeing anyone, he continued--

"You must know, comrade, that some time ago I saw a girl whose charms
would set a heart of stone on fire."

"What? Perchance that girl from Albarracin has come to Burgos, she whom
you fell in love with when we were stationed there during the last
campaign?"

"No, brother, it is not that one. I should wish indeed that the girl
from Albarracin were here, for I think of her night and day. She whom I
have fallen in love with in Burgos comes from Barbadillo, and I swear to
you that she seems to have come from heaven, so beautiful is she!"

"There is also a girl from Barbadillo for whom I sigh."

"From Barbadillo? I vow by Judas Iscariot that it would be a nice thing
if.... Where did you see her, tell me?"

"At the forge of Master Iñigo"--

"By the soul of Beelzebub I'll cudgel you if you have dared to cast your
eyes where I have set mine; it was also in the forge of Master Iñigo
that I saw the girl I told you of. What kind is she, Alvar?"

"Dark-complexioned."

"So is mine."

"Black eyes."

"So has mine also."

"A fine figure."

"Exactly."

"Strong hands."

"Just like mine."

"For she made my face smart with a blow, when I began to talk amorously
to her."

"My girl did just the same to me! Traitor! How have you dared"--

"But, my friend, if I did not know"--

"You shall know now, if you have forgotten, what my hands are able to
do."

And Fernan seized the page by the back of the neck with the force of a
pair of pincers.

On hearing the cries of the page, Mayor came out on the top of the
flight of stairs, and as she saw that Fernan did not perceive her, so
much was he intent on venting his rage on Alvar, she stopped, in order
to try to discover the origin of the quarrel, which doubtless she
suspected.

"Traitor!" exclaimed Fernan. "I am never to love a woman, but you must
needs fall in love with her also? You shall die by my hand!"

And the squire not only plied his hands on the page, but also his feet.

"Let me go, Fernan; I swear to you I shall never speak another word to
that peasant girl from Barbadillo, nor indeed to any woman, born or to
be born"--

"That oath saves you," said Fernan, letting him loose; "but I assure
you, Alvar, that you shall answer for it to me if you ever try to gain
the love of that pretty girl for whom I sigh."

"Ah, traitor! oh, false one! This, then, is the fidelity which you swore
to me only yesterday!" exclaimed Mayor, no longer able to restrain her
anger, and coming down the flight of stairs with two jumps, her hands
clenched and her eyes flaming.

Fernan receded a few steps, terrified, as if he wished to fly from that
fury, by whose hands he felt himself gripped with almost as much force
as Alvar had been by his.

"Traitor! Do you forget me, thus turning your back on me? I shall take
care that you remember me as long as you live." And Mayor, with her
nails, made the blood run from the neck and face of her faithless lover,
who, despite his enormous strength, which he used to its fullest, could
not free himself from her.

"Get away from me, wench, or I shall strike and kick you!" cried the
unlucky squire, whose strength prevailed at last. Mayor let him go,
and, from a shove which Fernan gave her, fell against the bottom of the
stairs, receiving a blow on the head which deprived her of
consciousness.

Fernan raised his foot to kick Mayor, as he had threatened, but, seeing
her motionless, he examined her, and, seeing that blood was flowing from
her head, became frightened. His anger suddenly changed to grief and the
most violent despair.

"Mayorica! Mayorica! my darling, return to yourself! pardon me!" cried
the deeply afflicted squire, endeavouring to raise the young woman;
seeing, however, that she was not recovering, he began to tear his hair
and strike his head and face, as if he had lost his reason.

"I have killed her! I have murdered her! I am a barbarian, I am a
villain! I am a treacherous assassin! Kill me, Alvar, kill me, and kill
at once that peasant girl who is to blame for this misfortune."

Alvar, far from killing anyone, was endeavouring to save Mayor's
life; he was bathing her face with water, which, fortunately, was near
at hand, and bandaging her face with his pocket handkerchief.

At last she recovered consciousness and arose, breaking out, not into
abuse of her lover, but into wailings capable of moving to compassion
even the stone against which her head had struck. Fernan redoubled his
caresses and promises of amendment, with which he succeeded in consoling
her a little, although Mayor knew well how soon the squire usually
forgot his oaths.

A moment after, the entrance-hall was deserted, for Fernan and Alvar had
disappeared up the staircase, supporting Mayor; however, in a short time
a number of persons, who from the commencement of the quarrel had been
crowding to the principal gate, approached as near it as possible,
commenting on and explaining in their own way what had happened in the
hall.

"The girl must have slipped on the staircase and rolled down it," said
one.

"No," replied another; "but she was in love at the same time with both
Fernan and Alvar, and as soon as they discovered it they knocked the
dust off each other, and then settled their accounts with the girl."

"She who got the blow is not the cause of the quarrel; it is a peasant
girl from Barbadillo."

"Whoever it is, I swear by all that's holy that women are the ruin of
men. May I be confounded if, from this day forward, I believe in even
the best of them."

"All men should do the same, master soldier."

"Yes, they are falser than Judas himself."

"It is men who are false; they fall in love with us, two at a time, and
even that isn't enough for them."

"Eh, my good old woman, don't take yourself into the count, for you are
out of the running."

"Holy Santa Gadea! Is there no one to defend an honest matron against
the insults of this ruffian of a soldier?"

"This soldier swears that all women are not good for much."

"You insolent, shameless fellow!" cried out a loud chorus of women, who
rushed furiously on him who had levelled that insult at them, and
scratched and mauled him without giving him time to defend himself.

The men rushed to the aid of the soldier, who, in the end, found himself
free from those furies, and went off from the crowd, well beaten, and
with a face torn and bleeding.

At the same time a peasant approached the crowd and with very great
curiosity asked what was the cause of the assembly; he muttered an
execration when he could find out nothing distinctly, for what one said
was in complete contradiction to the explanations of another. His chief
wish seemed to be to get to the door, around which the people were still
crowding, to see if the heroes of the recent fight would again appear in
the entrance-hall; he then tried to force a passage for himself with his
hands and head, muttering threats and oaths at the same time.

"I swear," he growled, "that even if I'm crushed to death, I'll know
what is going on, for it must be something important when it brings so
many people here, and I have not come to the city to live in obscurity
as I did in Barbadillo."

The execrations and exclamations became more frequent, according as the
peasant's efforts to press forward increased.

"Don't push us, you vile rustic!" cried some.

"Anger of God!" exclaimed others, "let us flatten the clown!"

"Don't look on that ass as a rational creature."

"By all the saints in heaven, this fellow is the greatest brute that
eats bread."

"Push the pig back!"

"Sit upon the savage!"

"I swear that the insults of those good-for-nothing women are putting me
out of patience."

"It's yourselves that are good for nothing."

"Women are never good for anything, and by San Pedro of Cardeña we'll
soon come to blows with you."

"Come to blows with us?" cried several of the women, and they made a
rush on Bartolo, for it was he who was making such violent efforts to
push his way through the crowd, and attacked him with the same fury as
they had, but a short time before, exhibited towards the soldier who had
insulted them. The peasant, who was very strong, defended himself,
knocking down a woman with each blow, and was on the point of triumphing
over his furious enemies; they, however, cried out to the men to help
them, calling them cowards, and telling them that men are bound to
render their assistance to women. The men who were present were but few,
for curiosity, in all ages, has been the almost exclusive birthright of
women; those who were there, however, ranged themselves on the side of
the weaker sex, and attacked with sticks and fists the man from
Barbadillo, who at last surrendered at discretion, bruised, scratched,
and bleeding, so that he was a pitiable sight to see.

The boy who has been beaten by other boys in a street, which is not that
in which he lives, often vents his anger by calling out to those who
have maltreated him--

"You'll see how I'll make you pay for this when I get you into my
street."

And neither more nor less did the persecuted Bartolo do, for, seeing
that he was vanquished, and that there was no possibility of his having
revenge then and there, he exclaimed, crossing his arms, moving his head
from side to side, and wishing to annihilate them all with a glance--

"I swear by all that's holy that I'll smash you all when I get you in
Barbadillo!"

"Oh, the fellow comes from Barbadillo!" said one of those who had been
there at the beginning of the quarrel between Fernan and Alvar, and who
consequently had had an opportunity of learning something of its cause.
"Barbadillo be cursed, for the wench who was the cause of all this row
comes from it!"

These words aroused the curiosity of the peasant, who, as we have seen,
did not need much to excite it.

"Keep yourself quiet," said Bartolo to himself, "and you'll discover
something that will give annoyance to the Barbadillo people, in return
for what they have said respecting your going often to the city, that
you were outrageously curious, and that you neglected your wife and
property to stick your nose into other people's affairs."

And approaching, very quietly, him who was cursing Barbadillo, and who
indeed was the soldier whom the women had beaten so severely, he said to
him--

"Friend, I am from Barbadillo, but I would rather belong to the country
of the Moors than to that wretched village, which, without doubt, God
cursed as a punishment for the strife between the Infantes of Lara,
which commenced in it. Then she, you say, who caused all this row is
from Barbadillo? I swear she couldn't be from any other place."

This agreement in their views gained for Bartolo the sympathy of the
soldier.

"What! you know nothing of the cause of the fight?" said the latter.

"You will please me much by relating to me what took place; I know you
will do so, for you are more polite than this vulgar crew," replied the
peasant.

"Then you must know," said the soldier, "that two servitors of the Cid
are in love with a girl from Barbadillo, and they have fought and
cudgelled each other as the result of a dispute as to which of them
should have her."

"I swear that she must be no great things of a girl when she throws eyes
at both of them. The women of Barbadillo, my friend, are just that kind;
there's the daughter of old mother Valeta, who, they say, fell in love
with four."

"According to that, comrade, you should not choose a wife from that
place."

"It is from it that I have mine; but I have come with her to live in
Burgos, for I am very fond of knowing what is going on in the world,
such as one can learn who lives in a city, and I go every day to the
forge of Master Iñigo to hear the news that's going round. My wife goes
with me, though I find it hard to get her to do so, but wish to polish
her up a bit, and it happened the other day that a knave of a squire
began to make love to her while I was talking to Iñigo, and she told me,
for I saw nothing of it, that she broke the fellow's teeth with a blow
of her fist You see by that what an honest woman my wife is."

"Honesty be hanged!"

"What do you mean, friend?"

"I mean that your wife is the very one that the two men were fighting
about."

"San Pedro de Cardeña, help me!"

"And it is quite certain that, even if the first time she received them
with blows, she must have shown herself kinder to them afterwards, for,
if not, they would not have fought so furiously on account of her."

"I swear I'll kill that false woman!" exclaimed the enraged rustic,
tugging at his hair with rage.

As some of the bystanders had heard his conversation with the soldier,
all of them knew very soon the cause of his despair, and it was at once
intensified by a fearful chorus of hisses, of coarse jokes, and of
abuse.

The unfortunate Bartolo faced the crowd defiantly; his words, however,
were lost amid the hisses and the loud voices, and then there was no
remedy but to open a way for himself and fly, mad, raging, careless as
to consequences.

The crowd remained in its position, as those who composed it desired to
learn the result of the quarrel between the servitors of De Vivar, for
they wished to know for certain, as already began to be whispered, if
the waiting-woman of Doña Teresa had died of the blow which the squire
had given her.

The gallop of a horseman was heard, just then, on the road leading from
the Alcazar, and it was soon perceived that it was a king's messenger
who was approaching the residence of the Cid in great haste; and he,
seeing that the crowd was but slowly opening a passage for him, broke
through it, his horse knocking some of the people down.

A few minutes afterwards the Cid was proceeding towards the Alcazar,
accompanied by Guillen, Fernan, and Alvar, and the people hastened to
withdraw, actuated by a feeling of respect, but perhaps chiefly because
they had lost all hopes of satisfying their curiosity, and of seeing the
squire and the page engage in a fresh quarrel.

Don Sancho, who, as soon as the Count of Cabra and the other
conspirators had departed from his presence, had sent to summon Rodrigo,
was awaiting him with impatience, for, although he felt that he should
chastise those audacious men, he did not wish to do so without
consulting the Cid on such a serious matter. The king also desired to
obtain the advice of his mother, and that is why Doña Sancha was at his
side when Rodrigo arrived.

"My good Cid," said Don Sancho on seeing him, "the Count of Cabra and
other noblemen have but just now left the Alcazar. I suppose you think
they came to offer me their swords to fight against the Moorish power?"

"Sire," replied Rodrigo, "that is what nobles like Don Garcia should do;
but neither he nor his friends did so when you set out for the campaign
of Aragon, and I doubt much if they have done it now."

"You are right; those wrongly named noblemen, far from coming to offer
their king the aid of their arms, came to insult him, to threaten him,
to impose laws on him."

"God's anger! what traitors they are!" exclaimed Rodrigo, unable to
restrain his anger; but sorry for having failed in the moderation and
proper restraint which the presence of his king and of the widow of
Fernando the Great required, he bent his knee respectfully and added--

"Pardon, sire; pardon me if I have been wanting in respect to you."

"Arise, Rodrigo," said Don Sancho, holding out his hand to the Cid,
"arise, for your very indignation proves that you are a good vassal and
a good cavalier."

De Vivar, emboldened by this kindness, continued, giving reins to his
just indignation--

"Tell me, sire, in what way have they offended you; although it is
sufficient for me to know that they have done so, and I have a sword to
fight with them--to avenge you or to die! Is it not enough that De
Cabra, De Carrion, and their partisans should be always in revolt
against Castile with their cowardly plots, and never draw a sword
against the enemies of their country, but that they should come
barefacedly to insult you in your Alcazar?"

"No, Rodrigo, my indulgence does not suffice them; it is not sufficient
for them that their king should pardon them their neglect of everything
that cavaliers should do: they want me to lavish favours on them; they
desire to occupy the best positions in my Alcazar; they wish that
Castile should be governed by laws dictated by their caprice and
ambition; they demand that all those should be removed from my side who
have loyally served and advised me, and you, especially, my good Cid--it
is you who are the principal object of their hatred."

"I am not surprised to hear that those counts hate me, for I have known
that for a long time. As long as their cowardly attempts were directed
against me alone, I despised them. I did not desire to appeal to my king
for help to defend myself or for the punishment of my enemies; but now
when, to make war against me, they desire to wage it against you also, I
feel bound to reveal to you the cowardly treachery of those men, and to
urge you to punish them."

Having thus spoken, Rodrigo Diaz put his hand into the pouch which hung
from his girdle, and took from it some sheets of parchment which he
handed to the king, adding--

"See here, sire, the propositions which the Counts of Cabra and of
Carrion made to Abengalvon and to the other Moorish kings, my friends,
when we were marching against the allies of the Emperor of Germany."

The king read the letters in a low voice. In them it was proposed to the
Moorish kings to get up a plot against the Cid on the first occasion
that might present itself, and kill him. In order to induce them to do
this Don Suero and Don Garcia employed the grossest calumnies, asserting
that the Cid was working in an underhand way, under the guise of
friendship, and abusing their confidence, to dispossess Abengalvon and
the other Moorish kings of their states. They also promised them liberal
rewards.

"Traitors, cowardly counts!" exclaimed at the same time both Don Sancho
and his mother.

"Abengalvon and the other Moors," continued Rodrigo, "although infidels,
placed these letters in my hands, indignant not only on account of the
malice of those counts, but also on account of the insult inflicted on
them by supposing them capable of such perfidious conduct towards their
best friend--against him, who, having taken them captives in fair war,
restored to them their liberty, without imposing any conditions
whatsoever on them. And that, sire, was not the first time that De Cabra
and De Carrion had endeavoured to disembarrass themselves of me. A short
time before the campaign beyond the Pyrenees, when I was proceeding to
the Cortes at Leon, Martin Antolinez, Guillen of the Standard, and
myself were enticed by stratagem into an ambuscade where ten assassins,
in the pay of the Counts of Carrion and of Cabra, awaited us. We fought,
and fortune protected us, although we were so inferior in numbers and
unprepared for a combat. Amongst the assassins there was one who, before
he expired, confessed to us who had put the assassin's steel in his
hand."

"With their blood," cried Don Sancho, deeply indignant, "shall those
accursed traitors pay the penalty of their crimes. Their heads shall
fall on the scaffold, and even that will not be as great a punishment as
they deserve."

"Sire," said Rodrigo, "punish them, but do not shed their blood; enough
has been shed in the war. Banish them for ever from Castile, and
threaten them with heavier punishment if they should ever dare to
return."

"Yes, my son, take the advice of Rodrigo," said Doña Sancha; "imitate
the generous example of the good cavalier who intercedes for his
treacherous enemies."

"If the presence of those counts in Castile were only to my prejudice,"
said Rodrigo, "I would not counsel you to banish them; but they have
dared to threaten you, and they will collect bands together and plot
conspiracies, which must be prevented. Cast from the kingdom this evil
seed before it has time to germinate; but I swear to you, sire, that
even with the price of my own blood I would try to prevent the shedding
of that of my enemies."

"Be it so, then, Rodrigo," said Don Sancho; "the Count of Cabra and his
partisans shall leave my kingdom within four days, and if they do not
go, we shall have no pity for them; in that case their traitorous heads
shall roll on the ground. I wish to be good towards the good, but
inexorable towards the bad; the Castilian nobles shall have in me a
friend rather than a master, if they will correspond to my friendship;
but I shall not be subject to them, I do not desire to bear the name of
king and allow the nobles to govern the kingdom."

"Thus," said the Cid, "Castile will be powerful and happy as in the time
of your father, and like him you will merit the name of 'the Great.' I
belong to the highest nobility of Castile, but notwithstanding I
maintain that the duty of nobles is to aid their king, not to enslave
him and paralyse the hands which should freely guide the reins of the
State."

On that same day Don Sancho issued an order that within three days the
Counts of Cabra and of Carrion, and about a dozen other nobles, should
depart from Castile, into perpetual banishment, as rebels to his
authority, traitors, and disturbers of the peace of the kingdom.



CHAPTER XXXIX

HOW THE CID AVENGED HIMSELF ON THE COUNT OF CABRA


Don Sancho II. had proposed to himself to rise superior to the demands
of the nobles; nevertheless, he did not cease to consult them in matters
of minor importance, for it was one thing to listen to respectful
counsels, springing from loyalty and wisdom, and another to hear
interested advice, given, as if it were law, by men who, like the Counts
of Cabra and of Carrion, and others, merited the contempt of all
honourable men, even though they had descended from the most noble
families of the kingdom. His palace, therefore, was much frequented by
the nobility, and Don Sancho took great pleasure in being surrounded by
the Castilian nobles.

He had invited many of them to his Alcazar in Burgos on the day
following that on which he had signed the order for the banishment of
the Count of Cabra and his partisans; he made known to his visitors the
steps which he had taken, and they all approved of them, agreeing with
Rodrigo Diaz that the king should govern, without being plotted against
by either nobles or plebeians.

Shortly after the nobles had retired from his presence, the king was
conversing in a very friendly way with the Cid, whom he had ordered to
remain a little longer by his side, for the company of De Vivar was
always pleasing to him; just then the arrival of the Count of Cabra, who
solicited a brief audience, was announced.

"Tell him," replied Don Sancho indignantly, "that he must depart
immediately from the Alcazar, if he does not desire to receive this very
day the punishment which his audacity merits."

The Cid hastened to appease the indignation of the king, by pleading in
favour of the count.

"Sire," he said to Don Sancho, "perhaps the Count of Cabra, before
leaving the country, wishes to give you some information which may be of
importance, concerning the peace of the kingdom. You are justly
indignant with him, but what can you lose by hearing him? He is such a
coward that he would never hesitate to denounce even his best friend if
he considered it to his advantage to do so."

Don Sancho was somewhat mollified by these words, and ordered that the
count should be admitted to his presence.

Don Garcia entered immediately after, and, bending his knee before the
king, said in a respectful voice--

"Sire, as a good vassal, which I am, I shall submit to the sentence of
banishment which my lord and king has passed on me; but, before
departing from Castile for ever, I have ventured to solicit your royal
attention, in order to explain to you the difficult position in which I
find myself."

Don Sancho could not restrain his indignation in view of the cowardice
and meanness of that man, who had not sufficient courage or dignity to
submit with a calm brow to the sentence which hung over him, as should
have done even the least honourable cavalier.

"Depart from my presence," he said to Don Garcia, "and leave Castile
within the time which I have mentioned, for I have been sufficiently
indulgent in leaving the head on the shoulders of him who not alone
dared to threaten me, but who paid vile assassins to strike down the
best cavalier in Spain."

Don Garcia was about to deny that accusation, but a glance of the Cid
sufficed to close his lips.

"Sire," the count ventured to say, "it would be better for me to die by
a single stroke in Castile, than to die slowly in a foreign country. My
estates at Cabra are in the possession of the Moors, and since I lost
them I have been obliged to live in very straitened circumstances in
Castile, even though I have friends and some little property in it. How
shall I be able to live in a foreign land, with no friends there, and no
means? Sire, if you have no compassion for me, pity at least my wife and
children, who have never offended you; revoke the sentence of banishment
which you have passed on me, or if you consider it absolutely necessary
that I should quit your kingdom, provide me with some resources which
may enable me to procure the absolute necessaries of life."

"Did you not inherit from your father a sword which you have allowed to
rust in its scabbard?" replied Don Sancho. "Brighten it again with
Moslem blood, reconquer with it your estates, and then you will not find
it necessary to beg for the means of subsistence from either your king
or your friends."

"My arm is much weakened by age"--

"By age and by inaction, not by exertion on the battlefields,"
interrupted the king.

The count, seeing that the king was not disposed to grant him the favour
which he had requested, asked another from him.

"Sire," he said, "allow me at least to remain in Castile for the time
necessary to realise the small property I still possess, so that I may
have something to live on, in the place of my banishment, until I may be
able, by means of my sword, to secure the well-being of myself and my
family."

Rodrigo Diaz believed that the fears which the count expressed,
regarding the privations to which his family might be subjected, were
not ill-founded, and, forgetting the just resentment which he nourished
towards the count, he resolved to intercede for that man, who invoked
the names of wife and children--names which were so dear to himself.

"Sire," he said to the king, "as you denied to the Count of Cabra the
previous favour he asked from you, I pray you to grant him the request
which he now makes, and that you extend to a month the period within
which he must depart from Castile; I guarantee to you that within that
time your will shall be accomplished."

Shame and disdain should have been pictured on the visage of the count
if he were a good cavalier; but Don Garcia did not know that noble
pride, that dignity which prevents an honourable man from accepting a
favour from an enemy. The count would have knelt down before De Vivar
had not the king been present.

"Be it so," replied Don Sancho; "I grant the request which you make, but
woe to him if he shall not have departed from my kingdom before the end
of the month."

"Your will shall be done," replied Don Garcia, with humility; "thanks,
sire"--

"Thank the Cid," interrupted Don Sancho disdainfully, "for it is to
please De Vivar, and not you, that I have extended the period, before
the end of which you are to quit Castile."

Rodrigo Diaz expressed to the king the pleasure he felt in having his
request granted, and Don Sancho loaded him with praise and gave him
signal proofs of friendship in the presence of the Count of Cabra, in
order to humiliate him, by showing how far his intention was from
refusing favours to the Cid, as those nobles, who were now sentenced to
banishment, wished him to do.

On the same day Rodrigo Diaz said to the king--

"I have another favour to ask of you, sire."

"You know, good Cid, how delighted I always am to please you."

"Happily," continued Rodrigo, "peace reigns in Castile, and we have not
to fear that it shall soon come to an end, for some love you, and they
are the majority, and the remainder fear you. The sword of the cavalier,
who can provide some hundreds of lances, should not lie idle in its
scabbard, when there are near his country infidels, against whom he can
fight, and countries into which he can carry the Christian faith, which
is proscribed by them. You know, sire, that I can count on many brave
friends who will accompany me to the war, and that I have a numerous
body of men, whom I keep in my pay; well, then, I wish you to give me
permission to set out for Andalucia, in order that my friends and I may
have an opportunity of escaping from the inaction which is pressing on
us in Castile."

"I feel much your leaving me, even for a short time," replied Don
Sancho; "but your intentions are so honourable, that if I opposed them I
should consider myself wanting in what is the duty of a king and of a
Christian cavalier. Go, good Campeador, to the country of the infidels,
and fight as you always have fought, for I know that you will gain fame
thereby, not alone in Castile, but throughout all Christendom. My father
indeed was right when he said, that with a hundred cavaliers like you he
could drive the Moors from the entire of Spain."

"Sire, I am only a cavalier, accustomed to conflicts, and I must be
excused if from them I hope to win a little honour for myself, and much
also for my country and the faith of my ancestors."

"I envy your lot, Rodrigo," exclaimed Don Sancho, fired with warlike
enthusiasm; "the throne pleases me, because he who is seated on it is
raised above the multitude, because he is always surrounded by splendour
and grandeur, for my heart does not feel satisfaction in small things;
my soul would desire to rule over the entire world; but I would wish
also, like you, to fly to hostile countries, freed from the cares of a
kingdom; to sleep in camps, always in armour and girded with my sword;
to breathe the air of the fields; to hear the neighing of chargers and
the sounds of the trumpets and drums; to see the flags of the enemy
floating before me, to close with the infidels every day at the rising
of the sun, to fight for many hours without cessation, and to throw
myself for repose on Moslem standards, lulled to sleep by the chants of
victory, and by the cheers of the enthusiastic people, who crown with
laurel the brows of conquerors. Such, Rodrigo, is the liberty and the
glory which my soul ardently desires; that is why I envy your lot, for
it is in your power to achieve that glory and to enjoy that liberty."

"You also, sire, will gain them," answered Rodrigo, participating in the
enthusiasm of the king; "you are young, and have abundant time to devote
yourself to a soldier's life. What happiness, what glory, what
prosperity may not Castile hope for during the reign of the successor of
Fernando the Great!"

"Rodrigo," cried the Cid, with joy and emotion, "you not alone serve
your king with the sword but also with the tongue. Your words fill my
heart with the noblest ambition and with the sweetest hopes, which must
bear excellent fruit."

On the same day the Cid commenced his preparations for an expedition
against the infidels; he summoned all the friends who desired to follow
him, and very soon he had an army collected, strong both in numbers and
in the bravery of those who composed it. In it were Martin Antolinez,
Alvar Fañez Minaya, Guillen of the Standard, Diego Ordoñez de Lara, the
cousins of the Cid, and numerous other cavaliers; it is almost
unnecessary to mention that Martin, formerly the Vengador, Rui-Venablos,
and the bandits who had formed their band, were now in the Cid's army.

On other occasions Burgos had put on mourning when its cavaliers set out
for a war; but on the day to which we refer the inhabitants of the city
rejoiced, for they felt sure that the army, under the leadership of the
Cid Campeador, would return victorious. Even Ximena, whose heart was
usually full of grief whenever Rodrigo left the domestic hearth, seemed
to share in the universal pleasure and hopes; she trusted that her
husband would return from Andalucia crowned with fresh laurels. How
love, and generous and noble pride shone in her beautiful eyes when, on
taking leave of Rodrigo, she put to his lips the smiling face of a
tender baby which she was fondling in her arms. Notwithstanding the
universal gladness and the universal hopes, there was a person in the
residence of the lords of Vivar who was weeping on account of one of
those who was about to set out in the army of the Campeador: it was
Mayor, the unhappy sweetheart of Fernan, who was lamenting, in
anticipation, over the faithlessness which she feared from him as soon
as he left her. Fernan had repented of the rough way he had treated her
a few days before, had sworn everlasting fidelity to her by all that was
most sacred in heaven and on earth, but--how could she trust in the
oaths of one who so many times had sworn similar ones, and so many times
had broken them?

The Cid Campeador departed with his army from Burgos. Almenon, King of
Toledo, willingly permitted him to pass through his dominions, in order
that he might continue in peace with Castile as in the time of Don
Fernando; and as he was at war just then with his co-religionists of
Andalucia.

When the latter learned that the Campeador was advancing on them, the
note of alarm was sounded, and collecting together a numerous army, they
hastened to Sierra Morena, in order to oppose the advance of the
Castilians. The Cid well knew the advantage he would derive if he could
triumph over the infidels in that first encounter, and prepared,
therefore, to attack the enemy with greater impetuosity and valour than
he had ever before displayed, although his men were inferior in numbers.

When the Moors confidently hoped that the Castilians would refrain from
advancing, if, indeed, they did not retreat, they found themselves
attacked with such fury that they had to fall back for a considerable
distance. However, the Christians were few in number compared with them,
and shame infused sufficient valour into their hearts to prevent them
from retreating, so that they swore that they would die rather than
abandon the field of battle. Then the combat began anew with fierce
determination on both sides. The conflict lasted many hours, and infidel
blood, mixed with that of the Christians, ran in torrents; but some
supernatural power seemed to aid the Christians,--even though the Moors
opposed twenty cavaliers to each of those of the Cid,--and gave the
victory to the latter, deciding it in such a way, that but few of the
infidels escaped from the weapons of the Castilians.

The army of the Cid collected the spoils, which were very valuable, and
having divided them, advanced with stronger resolution, with fresh hopes
of conquering in all battles in which they might be engaged.

The Campeador then proceeded in the direction of Cabra. Why should he
select the conquest of that place in preference to that of other
fortresses nearer to him, and easier to subdue? "The reason," said his
cavaliers, "is that he wishes to be able to say to his enemy, the Count
of Cabra, 'See, I have been able to conquer what you were not able to
defend; with a few hundred men I have taken the place which you were not
able to retain with several thousands; you have not, in reality, been
Count of Cabra for a long time, but I am so now; give up that title, of
which you have been so proud, for it no longer belongs to you.'"

The army of the Cid arrived at last in the territory of Cabra; the
frontiers were guarded by watch-towers and garrisoned ramparts; these
fortresses fell into the power of the Castilians in a very short time,
and although the governor of the town asked for aid from the
neighbouring Moors, he asked for it in vain, for they, disheartened by
the defeat at Sierra Morena, and others which they had afterwards
suffered, were only intent on repairing their fortifications and
preparing themselves for their own defence, in case, as they feared,
they might be attacked by the Castilians.

The town of Cabra was very strong, both on account of its defences and
the number of soldiers who garrisoned them when Don Garcia lost it, but
in both respects it was even stronger when the Cid advanced to
reconquer it; but that did not cause De Vivar to waver in his resolution
to lay siege to it. Having taken their position, the Castilians found
that they were unprovided with sufficient warlike machines to break down
the formidable walls, but brave hearts never let themselves be foiled by
obstacles: such, indeed, were only incentives to the Cid. The besiegers
required battering-rams, catapults, and scaling ladders, and they
provided themselves with them in a very short time. They then placed
them in position, and the place was attacked in many places. Its
defenders were brave and numerous, and were supplied with powerful means
of defence; the walls of Cabra were always crowded with soldiers, who
continually cast forth clouds of death-dealing projectiles; the Cid,
however, got his men ready for the assault. The walls had been weakened
at four different points; at these four points the Cid determined to
assault the town simultaneously, and he did so.

The Castilians and Moslems fought bravely, bloodily, and ferociously on
the walls of Cabra; but at the end the army of the Cid poured into the
town, and although the infidels, having abandoned the walls, defended,
step by step, the streets and houses, the sacred Cross shone, on the
same day, above the Moslem minarets, and Rodrigo Diaz could name himself
Count of Cabra.

Enormous were the riches which the Moors had accumulated in that town,
and consequently the spoils of the conquerors were very great. Rodrigo
made the partition of all these valuable things, reserving the fifth
part for the king, as was the custom, and only for himself the territory
which he had conquered, although by right he could claim not only it,
but also the larger part of the spoils. All those, therefore, who had
taken part in the victory considered themselves very liberally treated,
and broke out into enthusiastic cheers for their valiant and generous
leader.

The Cid then put the fortifications of Cabra into a good state of
repair, and having arranged that it should be garrisoned by two hundred
soldiers, selected from his army, and commanded by Guillen of the
Standard and Martin the Vengador, he prepared to return to Castile with
the remainder of his army.

How joyful were the Cid and his companions when returning to their own
country!

By travelling in a leisurely way four days would be necessary to get to
Burgos; the Cid, however, remembered that it wanted but two days of a
month, from the time he had set out for Andalucia; and he became very
uneasy, and accelerated the march. They went on, therefore, day and
night, with but little rest, and came within sight of Burgos before the
end of the two days.

"Will you tell me, Fernan," asked Alvar, "why we travelled so leisurely
at first, and why our master gives us no rest now?"

"It puzzles me," answered the squire, "unless it is that the Count of
Cabra and his partisans have commenced hostilities, and our master
wishes to subdue them."

"That cannot be, comrade, for the partisans of De Garcia had to leave
Castile almost at the same time as we did; and although the Count of
Cabra had permission from the king to remain in it a month longer, his
friends being away, he could not venture to attempt anything on his own
account."

"You are right, Alvar; but--I swear by Judas Iscariot, I have just hit
upon the reason why our master has journeyed so rapidly. On this very
day Don Garcia must be off, bag and baggage; Don Rodrigo has made haste
to get to Burgos before he leaves, in order that he may throw in his
face the loss of his title of Count of Cabra, and tell him a few plain
truths which will bring the colour to his cheeks."

"You are right, Fernan; it must be that."

"I doubt whether I most rejoice at having arrived in Burgos to see
Mayorica, or to hear the pretty things which my master will say to Don
Garcia."

"I would offer four masses to Santa Gadea that my master might find Don
Garcia still in Burgos."

"And I the same, Alvar."

Fernan and Alvar had arrived at this point of their conversation when
they came in full view of the city.

The army was at but a very short distance from Burgos, when those that
composed it saw a number of cavaliers issuing from one of its gates and
coming towards them. The Cid, who was riding in the front, was the first
to notice those who were leaving the city, and was much rejoiced to find
that they were Don Garcia, with some of his friends and retainers.

The Count of Cabra, the time being just completed which the king had
fixed for his departure, was leaving Burgos, in order to quit Castile.

The haste with which the army of the Cid had marched was the reason
that his arrival was not known in Burgos, and that the citizens had not
thronged out to meet him; but just as Don Rodrigo and Don Garcia met,
the city was becoming deserted, as its inhabitants were hastening out in
swarms to welcome the victorious army.

Don Garcia, who had already learned that the Cid had taken possession of
the states of Cabra, could not disguise his vexation, his anger, his
envy, his despair at the sight of Rodrigo. He was a coward, and for that
reason would not have dared, on any other occasion, to excite the anger
of Rodrigo, but the rage which then burned within him made him reckless.

"You come in good time, De Vivar," he said to Rodrigo; "you continue to
clothe yourself in the skin of a lamb in order that none may know that
you are a fox."

"San Pedro of Cardeña!" murmured the Cid, placing his hand on his sword,
unable to keep in his anger on hearing that insult; but he at once
restrained himself, and Don Garcia continued--

"Can he be called a good cavalier who prayed the king to extend the time
before my banishment that he might be able to insult me in my
misfortunes, by saying, 'Quit Castile, not only without property, but
also without the name of your ancestors, for that name is now mine; from
this day forward I shall adorn myself with it'? Some day you shall know
how terrible is the vengeance of the cavalier who has been so cruelly
treated."

"You know, Don Garcia," answered the Cid, still restraining his anger,
"that in all Castile there is no cavalier who should doubt of my loyalty
less than you. Do not force me to throw publicly in your face the
insults with which you sought to stain my honour."

"The day of my revenge will come, and then--beware of me, De Vivar."

"You have abundance of proof of your impotence to revenge yourself on
me. I do not fear your vengeance, even if, to carry it out, you use
means as base as those which you and your friends have already
practised."

"My vengeance can never be as base as yours."

"Don Garcia!" exclaimed the Cid in a loud voice, "you shall now learn
how Rodrigo de Vivar avenges himself on those who have injured him, who
have hated him, and who have paid assassins to plunge their daggers in
his heart. You are leaving Castile, banished, not knowing whither to go
in order to weep over your misfortunes. Proceed now to your estates of
Cabra, for if you did not know how to defend them, I have been able to
reconquer them for you. If you do not consider yourself strong enough to
protect them from the Moors, you will find there Guillen of the
Standard, Martin Vengador, and two hundred soldiers, who will be able to
defend your states against all the Moors in Andalucia. Now do you
understand why I besought Don Sancho to extend the time, before the end
of which you should go from Castile into exile, from four days to a
month?"

The Count of Cabra, stupefied by astonishment and joy, murmured some
words of gratitude, and, urging on his horse towards Rodrigo, he held
out his hand to him; but the Cid did not hear those words, which were
drowned by the acclamations of the multitude, which had been quickly
approaching; nor did he extend his hand to take that of Don Garcia, for,
as soon as he had pronounced his last words, he set spurs to Babieca and
continued his way.



CHAPTER XL

HOW THE COUNT OF CARRION WOUND THE SKEIN AND HOW OTHERS UNWOUND IT


The Count of Carrion had some friends in Toro, and he proceeded thither,
two days after he had received the sentence of banishment pronounced by
Don Sancho, leaving his sister in the castle under the guard of his
accomplice, Bellido Dolfos.

Doña Elvira, the mistress of Toro, was a young princess, as unsuspecting
as she was good, and this being known to Don Suero and his partisans,
they determined, at any cost, to make themselves masters of her will, in
order to establish at Toro the centre of their operations; for they had
resolved to get up a conspiracy against Don Sancho, in order to avenge
themselves for the sentence of banishment which he had passed on them.
They made the Infanta believe that she was surrounded by dangers, that
her brother harboured the design of reigning in all the states of his
late father, and that Toro was the first which he had resolved to get
possession of, as, being the weakest, he preferred to commence in it his
plans of usurpation. "Let us cause enmity," they said, "between Doña
Elvira and Don Sancho, and he will at once endeavour to make himself
master of Toro. Don Alfonso, Don Garcia, and Doña Urraca will take up at
once the defence of their sister, fearing lest Don Sancho would also
attack their dominions, stimulated to it by his usurpation of the state
of Toro, and then the King of Castile will lose his crown, for he will
not be able to resist all his brothers and sisters leagued against him."
At the same time they instilled distrust, regarding the intentions of
Don Sancho, into the heart of Don Alfonso, and into those of Don Garcia
and Doña Urraca, by means of trusty friends whom they had near them. In
a word, they were hatching a widespread conspiracy, which they felt
confident would enable them to avenge themselves on the King of Castile.

The credulous Doña Elvira cast herself blindly into the arms of those
men, believing that she could only procure her safety through them; so
that, in a very short time, the Count of Carrion and his partisans were
much more rulers of Toro than the daughter of Don Fernando. Such being
the condition of affairs, was it not easy for those traitors to force
Doña Elvira to declare war against Don Sancho? And having embroiled
himself with Doña Elvira, would he not also have done so with all his
brothers and sisters? And then, was not his ruin certain?

Don Sancho learned that Toro was now the residence of his bitterest
foes, that they were conspiring there against Castile, and that his
sister, far from opposing the conspirators, was aiding them by her
tolerance, and even openly protecting them. On this account he was very
much irritated with Doña Elvira, to whom he addressed frequent protests,
threatening her with the loss of her state if she did not change her
conduct.

Persuaded by her disloyal advisers, she replied to Don Sancho with much
haughtiness, telling him that, if he dared to make an attempt on her
state, all her brothers and sisters would side with her, and that they
would divide amongst them the kingdom of Castile.

Don Sancho was easily excited to anger, but brave at the same time. That
challenge made him very indignant, with the much more reason, as he
believed that his brothers and sisters owed the quiet possession of
their states, up to the present time, to his affection and
generosity--states which, he believed, belonged by right to him.
Besides, his mother, whose counsels were the only ones which had very
strong effect on him, was not with him; he held, indeed, those of the
Cid in much esteem, but he did not always allow himself to be blindly
guided by him.

"My sister!" he exclaimed, filled with rage, when he had read her
letters, "thinks that I fear my brothers, but she knows me but very
imperfectly. I promised my mother not to proclaim war against my
kinsfolk, and I have kept that promise; but if they declare war against
me, I accept the issue. I do not fail in my word. Within a few days the
state of Toro shall be mine, even though all my brothers and sisters
should unite for its defence."

"Sire," said Rodrigo Diaz and other cavaliers to him, "remember the
curse which your father called down on the head of any child of his who
would dare to deprive another of them of his inheritance. You should
know that Doña Elvira is but a powerless woman, who, instead of being
punished, should be protected by you, for, in addition to being her
brother, you are powerful."

"I do not incur the malediction of my father by opposing war to war,"
answered Don Sancho; "the curse of my father will fall on the head of
that sister or brother who insults and challenges me. If I tolerate the
arrogance and the provocation of my sister, they will all look on me as
weak and cowardly, and some day they will all attack me, anxious to
divide my kingdom amongst them. If I let Doña Elvira and all the others
see now that I am neither weak nor a coward, they will not abuse my
generosity in the future. The state of Toro must be mine, even though I
return it to my sister immediately after having taken possession of it."

The Cid endeavoured to dissuade Don Sancho from his resolve, but his
counsels were of no avail. He did not persist in them energetically, in
order not to act against the principle which he had formerly expressed,
that the king should act without being impeded either by nobles or
commoners.

Don Sancho then collected a large body of men-at-arms, and was preparing
to attack Toro; but just then Doña Elvira, having sought aid from Don
Garcia, who was the most powerful of her brothers, the latter sent one
of his cavaliers, named Rui-Ximenez, to Don Sancho, challenging him to
attack the kingdom of Galicia instead of the state of Toro, and
charging him with cowardice, on account of his intention to fall upon
the weak, like Doña Elvira, instead of the strong, like him. The
vexation which this message caused Don Sancho was much greater than that
which the provocations of Doña Elvira had occasioned.

The King of Castile consulted the Cid as to the reply which he should
give to his brother.

"Endeavour," said Don Rodrigo to him, "to avoid war with your brother,
but if he perseveres in his provocations, make war against him, without,
however, forgetting that he is your brother; but to enter into his
kingdom you must pass through that of Leon, and to do so without the
consent of Don Alfonso would be only to make another enemy."

Don Sancho and Don Alfonso met in Sahagun, and arranged that the latter
should allow the Castilian army to pass through the kingdom of Leon. As
a result of this arrangement, Don Sancho sent Alvar Fañez Minaya to
challenge Don Garcia.

He accepted the challenge, and collected a large army, with which he
prepared to march against his brother, who was advancing in great force
towards Galicia. His soldiers, however, who were very much discontented
on account of war having been declared against Castile, as they foresaw
its disastrous consequences, revolted at the moment of setting out, and
killed Rui-Ximenez in the presence of the king, for they believed that
it was he who had given evil counsels to Don Garcia.

This occurrence caused the breaking up of the army of the King of
Galicia, and thus the Castilians penetrated into his kingdom, and Don
Sancho made himself master of several fortified places, and especially
of the entire Portuguese portion of the kingdom.

After a time, however, Don Garcia mustered another large army, and
sallied forth to encounter his brother. The battle was fierce, the two
kings fighting at the fronts of their respective troops, and after a
combat, lasting for half a day, the Castilians were thrown into
disorder. Don Garcia succeeded in making Don Sancho his prisoner, and
having given him into the charge of six of his followers, he set out in
pursuit of the fugitives.

"Give me my liberty, cavaliers," cried Don Sancho to those who were
guarding him, full of anger at not being able to stop the flight of his
disordered army, and of shame at finding himself a prisoner. "Let me
free, and I promise you rich rewards, and I also give you my word that
I will not cause any further injury to your country."

"For all your kingdom we would not do it," replied his guards, "for we
should then be traitors to our lord and king. You must await the return
of Don Garcia, and he can act as he pleases."

Alvar Fañez Minaya saw from a distance the capture of Don Sancho, and,
spurring his horse towards those who were guarding him, he cried out--

"Traitors, set my lord and king at liberty!"

And as they did not show any disposition to obey him, but were rather
preparing to chastise his audacity, he rushed on them, and unhorsed two
with the first thrusts of his lance. The other four then fled in terror;
and Don Sancho, having recovered his freedom, rode up to the top of an
eminence and cried out to his men--

"To me, my cavaliers! Loyal and brave Castilians, rally around me!"

Four hundred cavaliers collected around him in a few minutes, and the
others, who were fighting in groups, scattered here and there, recovered
courage, and succeeded in also joining the king.

The Cid, who in those wars accompanied the king, without taking part in
the conflicts, as he desired to keep the promise which he had made to
Don Fernando the Great, never to draw his sword against a son or
daughter of his, unless one was oppressed by another and required his
aid,--the Cid, we repeat, had remained neutral, at some distance from
the field of battle; but when he became aware of the difficult position
in which Don Sancho was, he believed that he should go to his
assistance, and he appeared, with his three hundred cavaliers, in sight
of the king just as he was preparing to descend to the plain, where the
battle was continuing, with the troops which he had been able to
reunite.

Don Sancho saw him, and joy and hope shone in his eyes.

"Let us descend to the plain," he said to his cavaliers; "for, the Cid
aiding us, we shall still be able to recover our losses, the day shall
yet be ours."

And he added, approaching the Cid--

"You are welcome, Campeador. A vassal never arrived in better time to
serve his king, than you do now."

"Sire," replied Rodrigo, "you can count on winning the battle. Your
brother will be defeated; but you must promise me to spare his life,
should he become your prisoner."

"I make you that promise, good Cid," answered Don Sancho.

They then descended to the plain, Don Sancho and the Cid in the front.

Don Garcia, wearied by the pursuit, was returning, well contented, and
rejoicing at having defeated his brother, when, on turning a hill, he
found himself face to face with the Castilians. The fight then
recommenced, all the troops, on both sides, reuniting.

That second fight was as sanguinary as the first, but shorter. The
cavaliers of the Cid succeeded in breaking up the ranks of Don Garcia,
and the Castilians were victorious.

The Cid took Don Garcia prisoner, and delivered him up to Don Sancho.

"Don Garcia," said the latter to his brother, "tell me, on the word of a
cavalier, what fate you had reserved for me when, a short time ago, you
had me in your power, for I wish to treat you as you would have treated
me."

"Death!" replied Don Garcia, driven to the wildest desperation.

"Your brother does not wish to shed the blood of his brother," said the
King of Castile; "your brother would restore you to liberty, and would
give back to you the kingdom which he has won from you, if he did not
fear that you would provoke a second war, in which Christians would shed
the blood of Christians. As you cannot live free in your Alcazar of
Oviedo, live a prisoner in the Castle of Luna."

"You do well to imprison me," replied Don Garcia, "as I am now your
deadliest foe, since it has been your desire to have in me an enemy and
not a brother. But those who will free me from my prison are not
wanting. The King of Leon is still free; and the hope also remains to me
that your forehead shall be struck some day by the bolt of divine
vengeance, with which our father threatened the Cain who would attack
his brother."

"It is ye that are Cains, not I," exclaimed Don Sancho, in anger; but,
restraining himself, he added--

"Brother, refrain from insults, which can only make your condition
worse. Give me your word that you will live far from my states, and I
shall see that you want nothing wherewith to maintain your dignity, and
in exchange I will now give you your freedom."

"If you give it to me, I shall use it to drag you from the throne which
you have usurped."

"Then you shall live and die in confinement, as you so desire!"
exclaimed Don Sancho indignantly.

A few days after, the unfortunate Don Garcia was imprisoned in the
Castle of Luna.



CHAPTER XLI

FROM BURGOS TO VIVAR


One morning in summer, shortly after sunrise, two cavaliers set out from
Burgos in the direction of Vivar; both were young and graceful, and rode
on, conversing in an animated and pleasant tone, keeping their steeds
beside each other.

They were Guillen of the Standard and Martin Vengador.

"What a beautiful morning this is!" said Guillen.

"Yes," replied his companion; "and how pleasant it is to breathe the air
of the fields when the sun is rising."

"We, who have passed our lives in the country, smother in cities. See,
Martin, how blue the sky is, listen to the singing of the birds amid the
trees of that dell, and smell the fragrance of the plants which grow
around us."

"This morning reminds me of the one on which we left Cabra, the day
following the arrival of the count, whom it cost so little to have it
restored to him."

"They say that Andalucia is a fairer land than Castile, and certainly
its fields are more fertile and its sky clearer, but may God grant it to
me to live and die in our famed Castile, for there is no country equal
to one's native land."

"So say I also, Guillen; besides, in our Castile there are abundance of
fertile plains, luxuriant woods, and fragrant flowers; we also have a
clear sky and a brilliant and life-giving sun. Castile is, above all
others, the land of chivalry, of honour, and of glory. If Andalucia has
an advantage over Castile in its soil, it has not such with regard to
its inhabitants; here we let our souls be seen as naked as our fields;
there they show their souls concealed with foliage and flowers, like
the fields of that land; as in our land we have permitted scarcely any
infidels to dwell, we have preserved pure the blood of the cavaliers of
Covadonga and Roncesvalles."

"It delights me to wander along the banks of the Guadalquiver, for on
them the trees and flowers are most beautiful; but it delights me more
to walk on the banks of the Ebro, of the Tormes, and of the Duero, for
they are filled with the memories of brave cavaliers and glorious feats
of arms."

"We cannot envy any who dwell in Spain, for God has given us honours, of
which we can justly feel proud, and great natural riches which we can
enjoy."

"And love adorns all, Martin; for my part, I can say that love causes me
to see flowers where others can only see rocks, palaces where there are
only huts, and angels where there are but human beings. Does it not seem
a great happiness to you to have souls that feel as ours do, and to love
so well the land in which we were born?"

"And above all," said Martin, smiling pleasantly, "the love of maidens,
so worthy of being loved as your noble Doña Teresa and my humble
Beatrice."

Guillen sighed, and there disappeared from his face the joy which, till
then, had shone on it.

"Happy you, who can see, as often as you like, her whom you love!"
exclaimed the lover of the Infanta of Carrion.

"Guillen, the day is not far distant when your happiness will be as
complete as mine. Are you indeed discontented with your lot?"

"No, Martin, no. When I think that I, a poor servitor of the Count of
Carrion, the son of a humble peasant, have been made already a member of
the order of chivalry, am treated as an equal by the most noble
cavaliers of Castile, have won the love of the king and of the Cid, and
am richer than many of those who call themselves grandees, it seems that
joy should disturb my reason. But why should you be astonished, Martin,
that my heart becomes sad when I think of the Infanta, whom I love more
and more as days go on, and whom I may not see for a very long time? If
Doña Teresa had a mother by her side, or even anyone who could protect
her, love her, and cheer up the sadness of her heart, living apart from
her would not be so hard to bear; but she is in the power of her
brother, nay, even worse, in the power of that traitor Bellido, since
the king banished Don Suero."

"But how is it possible, Guillen, that the Count of Carrion can trust
the traitor to such an extent, that he not only gives him his
friendship, but also confides to him the care of his household? How is
it possible that he should have put his sister and his nephews in his
charge, during his absence?"

"It appears impossible, Martin, but nothing is more certain."

"But how do you manage to receive news of what takes place in the Castle
of Carrion?"

"I hear from Doña Teresa through a domestic, named Gonzalo, who was
always devoted to his lady and to me; he is bent on revenging himself on
the count, from whom he has received more blows than he has hairs on his
head."

"I am astonished that Bellido permits him to absent himself from the
Castle long enough to go to Burgos."

"For a considerable time the count made use of him to send letters to
his friends; and when he went to Toro, where he now is, he left him in
Carrion, in order that he might perform the same services for Bellido,
spurred on now and then by a sound cudgelling, which the count advised
his friend to apply to him, should he show himself at any time reluctant
to do his bidding. Bellido sends him rather often to Burgos, with
letters to the partisans of the exiled noblemen, for they have still in
Castile some who are desirous to aid them; also to find out what is
going on, and to act as a spy even on the king himself."

"It is fortunate for you that you have such means of communicating with
the Infanta."

"It certainly is, for if I had them not, I swear by the name I bear,
that before this I would have attacked the Castle of Carrion, and have
either found my death or removed the Infanta from that prison."

"But I think that even still we should strike a blow against the castle,
in order to free the defenceless dove from the claws of the hawk."

"I am thinking of doing so, Martin; and if I have not done so before
this, it is because I feared that the attempt might be vain; the castle
is very strong in itself, and it is defended by good crossbow-men; but I
can now count on friends who will aid me in the enterprise, even Don
Rodrigo himself will lend me his assistance, if not personally, at least
with men-at-arms, and I hope that before a year passes, Guillen of the
Standard and the Infanta of Carrion will be united before the altar. On
the day that I found you in the wood, and induced you to go with me to
the wars, if I had said to a grandee, of even the lowest rank, that I
aspired to the hand of the Infanta of Carrion, he would have spat in my
face and looked on me as a madman; but now even the King of Castile will
support my pretensions."

"Blessed was the day of which you remind me, Guillen," exclaimed Martin,
thinking of what he had been when he commanded his band, and what he now
was, in the service of the Cid. "Blessed also be you," he added, "who,
from being a miserable bandit, made of me a soldier, whom the Campeador
honours with his friendship and confidence--he who is the best cavalier
in the world. You well said that on the fields of battle I would be able
to wash away, with infidel blood, the stain which the world sees on the
brow of the bandit; that on them I would acquire power to chastise the
assassin of my father; that from them I would return a hundred times
more worthy to be united to the girl whom I love."

"We have had many glorious days in the wars, and I hope that we shall
have many more."

"I pray God that we may be soon fighting once more against the Moors,
instead of in those accursed conflicts of Christians against
Christians."

"Unfortunately, Martin, I fear that those battles, of which you speak,
are not yet terminated. As things are, I believe that, before long,
there must be more sanguinary combats between Castilians and Leonese. I
would wager the sword which the Cid girt on me, that, within two months,
there will be a fierce war between Don Sancho and his brother Don
Alfonso. Don Sancho eagerly desires to possess the kingdom of Leon,
especially since he has acquired that of Galicia; and Don Alfonso, who
knows that, and gives ear to evil advisers, affords every day
opportunities for a rupture, by letting the enmity appear which he feels
towards Don Sancho."

The two young men were thus conversing when they came in sight of Vivar;
they were much rejoiced at this, for the day, fresh and pleasant at its
beginning, was becoming oppressive, as the sun was very high, and was
shooting down his beams much fiercer than was agreeable. It was not
alone the hope of rest, shaded from the heat of the sun, that made them
anxious to see the end of their two-hours' journey, for it did not take
much longer time to complete it; Martin loved Beatrice deeply, and was
returning to see her after a long absence in the war between Don Sancho
and Don Garcia, and Guillen was about to see the happiness of his friend
and companion-in-arms, in which he rejoiced as much as if it were his
own.

In front of the farmhouse of Pero was a beautiful orchard, in which was
a great abundance of fruit-trees, which laborious and happy husbandmen
had planted, and made to grow and bear fruit with their constant care;
in it were standing Beatrice and her parents when Martin and Guillen
halted on an eminence which overlooked the farmhouse.

On seeing them, a cry of joy escaped from the lips of Beatrice, who let
fall the fruit which she was carrying in her turned-up skirt, and ran to
meet the two young men; her parents imitated her, for they looked on
Martin as a son, and indeed on Guillen almost as such, for the former
seldom went to Vivar without being accompanied by the latter.

Beatrice was soon serving an appetising meal to her guests and her
parents under a large tree in the garden, and all were conversing
pleasantly together, building castles in the air, and abandoning
themselves to a happiness which only good souls can understand.

Shortly after the termination of the meal the gallop of a horse was
heard on the road which led to Carrion, and which was only about two
stone-throws from the farmhouse. All turned their eyes in that
direction, and Guillen uttered a cry of pleasure, for in the horseman he
recognised Gonzalo, the servant of Don Suero, who now and then brought
him news from Doña Teresa.

Guillen ran across the orchard and went out on the road to meet Gonzalo,
who dismounted at once when he recognised him.

"Gonzalo, you are indeed welcome," said Guillen, in whose face pleasure
and inquietude were depicted. "Do you come from the Castle of Carrion?"

"I left it during the night," answered Gonzalo, "and I bring you a
letter from my mistress. Here it is," he said, and he handed a parchment
to the young man.

Guillen hastened to open it, and then read it eagerly.

"To-day," wrote the Infanta to him, "Bellido, my jailer sets out for
Toro, and he cannot be back for at least eight days. Guillen, it is a
long time since I saw you last, and for a long time I feared to die
without seeing you again; ask Gonzalo, when he delivers this letter to
you, when he can be back to the castle, for, if you can come to see me,
he will facilitate your entrance into it. Have pity on me, do not allow
me to die within those gloomy walls without again seeing you--you on
whom I place the only hope which I have in this world."

The loving youth pressed his lips on those lines, partly effaced by the
tears of Teresa, and felt his eyes moist, as on that night, both sad and
joyous, in which he revealed his love to the unhappy maiden in the camp
of the bandits.

"Gonzalo!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms round the neck of the
messenger, "if I had a hundred lives I would willingly give them in
exchange for the happiness which you have brought me, and even then I
would consider it but poorly paid! I am no longer the humble servitor of
Don Suero, such as you formerly knew me; I have power and wealth, with
which I can recompense your services. Continue in the household of the
count, in order that you may watch over Doña Teresa; and on the day when
your mistress shall no longer have need of your care, I will say to you,
'In future you shall not have to go into the employment of any person; I
have wealth which I have won in the wars; take what you require in order
to live free and happy wherever you may desire!'"

Gonzalo was not mercenary, but how was it possible for him not to feel
happy, when he saw shining before him the hope of being able to live as
Guillen had said, instead of being constantly exposed to the outrages
and bad treatment to which he was subjected in the service of the Count
of Carrion.

"My lady and you," he replied, "can dispose of me, as I am resolved to
serve both of you, as far as is in my power, without any recompense but
that of being useful to those who need my services."

"Do you believe, Gonzalo, that it will be possible for me to enter the
castle during the absence of Bellido?"

"My lady and I have had long talks on the subject, and we have come to
the conclusion that such is possible, by making our arrangements
beforehand."

"When can you be in Carrion again?"

"To-morrow night; I am now going to Burgos with letters, which Bellido
gave me before his departure, with instructions to go with them
to-day."

"Well, then, to-morrow night, at whatever hour you now tell me, I shall
be outside the castle."

"At midnight you must come to the postern very cautiously, although
there is not much risk of the crossbow-men hearing you; for, as Bellido
makes them keep watch every night, under pain of anyone who falls asleep
being hung on the battlements in the morning, they will try to make up
for that by sleeping well whilst he is away from the castle. I shall
watch for your arrival through the loopholes, and as soon as I see you
approach I will open the postern and let you in, and will facilitate
your getting through the castle, so that you may see Doña Teresa for a
short time."

"Very well, I shall not fail to be there to-morrow night at the hour you
have mentioned."

"Take care that you are not surprised by a band of robbers, who, people
say, have appeared recently in the district of Carrion, where bandits
have not been seen since the Vengador and his men went away."

"All right, Gonzalo, I shall not forget your caution; I thank you for
it. What have you to tell me of the Infanta?"

"If her troubles do not soon cease, God will be as unjust to her as men
have been."

"No, Gonzalo, God is not unjust, as men often are; God will make up for
the sufferings of the Infanta with many years of perfect happiness; tell
her that, for you will see her before I can."

After a few more words Guillen and Gonzalo separated, the former
returning to where Martin and the Pero family were awaiting him, and the
latter continuing his journey to Burgos.

Guillen showed Martin the letter from the Infanta, and told him that he
would go to Carrion before he returned to Burgos, with the intention of
removing Teresa from the castle.

"I will accompany you, Guillen," said the Vengador, "and I will die with
you if necessary."

"Thanks, Martin," exclaimed Guillen, holding out his hand affectionately
to his friend; "but I know the danger which threatens both you and me
when we approach Carrion; I cannot therefore accept your generous offer,
for--what would become of your good and loving Beatrice if she were to
lose you?"

"Beatrice," replied Martin, "would look on me as a coward, and would
despise me, with very good cause, if I saw you going into danger without
accompanying you. Do I not value more than my life the friendship with
which you honour me, and the good fortune which you procured me, when
you induced me to exchange the vile career of a bandit for that of a
soldier? Guillen, let us set out for Carrion as soon as it may please
you, for I will follow you gladly to the end of the world, even though
there were dangers at every step. I wish that Rui-Venablos could
accompany us, but he must remain in command of the Cid's troops during
our absence."

Guillen finally accepted the offer of Martin. They spent the remainder
of the day and the following night in the farmhouse of Pero, and at a
very early hour in the morning they started for Carrion.



CHAPTER XLII

FROM VIVAR TO CARRION


At the fall of the evening Guillen and Martin arrived within view of the
castle, although they were still at a considerable distance from it;
they determined to await the night in a thick grove of chestnut trees,
in order that they might continue their journey as soon as it grew dark,
and arrive at the castle by midnight, as had been arranged between
Guillen and Gonzalo.

The sun was near setting, and was lighting up, with a fiery glow, the
distant horizon. Guillen and Martin had dismounted, and, whilst their
horses were grazing amongst the chestnut trees, were seated on a high
bank, from which they had an extensive view of the surrounding country.
Martin had his eyes fixed on the wide and fertile plain of Carrion, the
beauty of which confirmed what he had said on the previous day--that the
hand of God had been also extended over Castile, when He was
distributing the best gifts of nature. Guillen was gazing on the Castle
of Carrion, which arose in the distance, veiled by the smoke arising
from heaps of burning stubble, like a dark phantom, which seemed intent
on filling with terror that calm and enchanting landscape.

"Ah!" he said, with a heavy heart, and with tears ready to break from
his eyes, "how near appears that accursed castle, and, notwithstanding,
what a distance separates me from her who sighs within it! There--within
those gloomy walls--is the dear girl who has, in the whole world, no
other hope but my love. Would that I could fly like those birds, which,
in the branches of the trees surrounding us, are plaintively singing
their farewell to the day! Would that I could fly like them through the
clear air and alight on the sill of that window, at which Teresa has so
often shed sad tears. Perhaps the poor girl is now standing, full of
grief, at that window, thinking of me, and beseeching the Virgin, whose
sanctuary is on the neighbouring hill, to guide my footsteps, and to
make me brave enough to endeavour to get to her."

Guillen and Martin suddenly abandoned their enthusiastic reflections,
for, turning round, they saw behind them about fifty armed men, who came
out from amongst the surrounding trees. Both placed their hands on their
swords, but before they had time to draw them, those men rushed upon
them, with threatening aspect, and seized on them, crying out--

"If you move hands or feet you are dead!"

Guillen doubted not but that these were the robbers of whom Gonzalo had
spoken.

"Cowards," he said to them, "you have not courage enough to fight, arm
to arm and breast to breast, although you are twenty times as numerous
as we are, but treacherously capture us without giving us time to defend
ourselves."

"By the glorious San Isidore!" cried out one of the bandits, closely
examining Martin, "I have less sense than these horses if we have not
amongst us our former captain, the valiant Vengador."

"I am the Vengador," said Martin, examining in his turn the bandits, who
hastened to set both him and Guillen free, with evident marks of
respect.

"I certainly remember," he added, "having seen some of you in my band."

"We are those who were in it," replied four of the bandits, amongst whom
was he who had first recognised Martin, and who appeared to be the
leader.

"Do you not remember," said this man, "Juan Centellos, who on the day of
the death of the Raposo proposed that you should be chosen as the chief
of those remaining of the band, and who said to you that he had a
daughter as good as the noblest lady in Castile, and who afterwards
cured the wound which you had received on your head?"

"Yes, I remember it well," replied Martin.

"Do you not also remember that after the unlucky attack on the Castle of
Carrion, some of the few of us that succeeded in escaping, separated
themselves from the band, hoping that, by working separately, they would
find it easier to avenge themselves than by remaining with their
companions?"

"I do; you were one of them."

"And the others were the three whom you see here. All our efforts were,
however, useless, and we therefore made up our minds to rejoin the band.
When we went to look for it, we learned that it had marched to Portugal,
and since then we have wandered about the district of Carrion, sometimes
with good fortune, sometimes with bad. Do you know, Sir Vengador, that
Bellido Dolfos, whom you loved so much, was the greatest traitor that
woman ever give birth to?"

"Yes; I have since learned that it was he who sold the band in Carrion."

"That is what I was just about to tell you. And, by my soul, Don Suero
is pleased with him, for he keeps him in his castle, treating him
royally. Anger of Lucifer! if we only lay hands on him, and we are
trying to do so for a long time! Don't go too near Carrion, for if that
Bellido smells you it will be bad for you, for you must know that he is
not so much your friend as you perchance think."

"It is to the Castle of Carrion that we are going, as Bellido is now
absent."

"The son of my mother would not trust much in his absences. Do not go
there, Sir Vengador; and I give the same advice to this youth, although
I do not know who he is.... But now that I look closely at him, I think
that he is the page who came with Doña Teresa to our camp."

"He is the same," replied Martin.

"What, does he no longer serve Don Suero?"

"Far from serving him, he would plunge his sword in him, and also in
Bellido, if he only had them in his power."

"I repeat to you, however, Sir Vengador, that you should not go to the
castle, for I fear that some evil will come on you there."

"I thank you for the interest you take in us; but we are resolved to
enter the castle this very night, and we would not abandon our intention
for all the wealth of the world."

"Well, then, as you are resolved to go on, may God send you good luck!"

"I think," said Guillen, "that we cannot remain here longer, as night is
coming on, and we are still far from the castle."

"You are right," said Martin; and he added, turning to the bandits--

"We wish you good luck; and if you don't object, we are going to
continue our journey."

"Continue it, with our good wishes," answered Juan Centellos; "but tell
me, Sir Vengador, what do you mean by good luck?"

"By good luck I mean that you may escape from the Salvadores, and"--

"And that Bellido and Don Suero may fall into our hands, so that we may
pay off last year's treachery; is it not so?" interrupted the captain of
the band.

"That is what I was about to say to you," answered Martin.

The two travellers then mounted and continued their journey.

They had left the bandits a considerable time, when they thought they
heard the noise of people in their rear; they stopped to listen, but as
they heard nothing more they believed that it was voices borne by the
breeze from some village in their vicinity; they then silently pursued
their way.

They came at last near the wood situated close to the castle, and
recognised it by the branches of the trees standing out against the sky
behind them. They dismounted there, enveloped the hoofs of the horses
with some pieces of cloth, which they had brought with them for that
purpose, and, thanks to that precaution, they approached the postern of
the castle with scarcely any noise, leading their horses by the bridles.

A white handkerchief, held out through one of the loopholes, and which
could be distinctly seen against the dark background of the wall, was
waved for a moment, as if summoning them to that spot. They then
fastened their horses to trees, and proceeded to the postern, which
Gonzalo immediately opened, with the least noise possible.

"Ascend by the secret stairs," he said to Guillen, "and come back soon;
I shall await you here, to shut the postern when you go out."

Guillen, who was well acquainted with the rooms and corridors of the
castle, mounted, feeling his way, the stairs which Gonzalo had indicated
to him, and Martin followed close behind; both had their unsheathed
swords in their hands, in order to be prepared in case of a surprise.
In a short time they were in the upper storey of the castle, and
consequently near the apartments of the Infanta.

The heart of Guillen was beating with violence; against it would soon
rest, throbbing, the heart of Teresa, which for so long a time had been
sad and solitary.

Both youths reached the door of Teresa's apartment; at that moment it
suddenly opened; she rushed towards Guillen with open arms, and fell
senseless on his neck, crying out, "Guillen, Guillen!"

And that exclamation was so loud that it echoed through the vaulted
passages of the castle.

"Treason, treason! The chamber of the Infanta!" answered, to the cry of
Teresa, a voice which Guillen and Martin recognised with terror; it was
the voice of Bellido, who had pretended to have left the castle in order
to surprise Guillen, who, he doubted not, would be informed of his
absence by the Infanta, and would therefore hasten to visit her.

A great din of footsteps, of voices, and of arms followed the cry of
Bellido.

The Infanta remained in a faint, notwithstanding the efforts of Guillen
and Martin to restore her to consciousness.

"Let us fly from the castle," said Martin. "Take the Infanta in your
arms, and I will protect you behind; we shall thus escape, for if
Gonzalo did not betray us, the postern is still open."

Guillen took up Teresa in his arms; her weight could not embarrass him
much, for the unhappy girl was worn away with grief; then, followed by
Martin, he ran to the staircase by which they had ascended. Just as they
placed their feet on the first step they were overtaken by Bellido and a
number of servants and crossbow-men, who attacked them furiously; the
staircase, however, was narrow, and that circumstance favoured Martin,
who had only to ward off three or four blows at a time. At last they
reached the postern, which Gonzalo quickly opened. He placed himself at
the side of Martin, determined to share the fate of the young men,
fighting against Bellido and his followers: all the combatants were then
outside the castle.

At that moment loud voices were heard amongst the neighbouring trees,
and a number of men rushed like lions on Bellido's followers, whilst
others entered the postern, in obedience to Juan Centellos, who cried
out, "Come on, my brave fellows; let some get into the castle, and let
the others exterminate those cowards, who are attacking the Vengador!"

The forces were now more equal; or rather, those who were at first the
weaker had become the stronger. The combat was obstinate and bloody,
both without and within the castle. Inside, the advantage should be on
the side of the bandits, for their opponents were but few, as almost all
the men-at-arms, who guarded the castle, had sallied forth in pursuit of
the abductors.

At a short distance from the castle was a convent of nuns, to which
Guillen made his way, with his precious burden, hearing behind him the
noise of the combat.

What a torture was it for the brave youth to hear, at but a few paces
from him, the clashing of swords, and not be able to use his! He
ran--flew on, as if nothing were impeding his footsteps; and if the
question were then asked, What most urged him on with such speed to the
convent? whether it was to place Teresa in a place of safety, or to
return to fight amid his friends? it would have been difficult to
answer.

Suddenly the town and its vicinity was lighted up with a bright glare.
The Castle of Carrion had been set on fire.

Guillen arrived at the door of the convent, which was a small building,
recently erected to shelter the community which occupied it, until
Christian charity would enable them to build another, larger and more
beautiful. He pulled violently a rope, which hung outside the door, and
set a bell ringing. Some of the nuns ran to this summons, and Guillen
hurriedly said to them--

"Fire is consuming the castle of the Counts of Carrion; afford
hospitality to the Infanta Doña Teresa, whom I have had the good fortune
to rescue from the flames."

The nuns hastened to afford assistance to the young lady, and Guillen
left the convent, making his way to the castle, in the vicinity of which
the fight was still raging. After proceeding a short distance, he met
Martin and Gonzalo, and the three embraced warmly.

"Martin," cried Guillen, "the innocent dove is now free, and saved from
the talons of the hawk."

"And the hawk," replied the Vengador, "is in flight, pursued by Juan
Centellos and others of our aiders, and the riches of Don Suero are in
the power of the bandits."

"To Vivar, to Vivar!" cried Guillen. "God has commenced to discharge the
bolts of His justice on the heads of the wicked, and expiation will be
completed in the end. Gonzalo," he added, turning towards him who had
facilitated his entrance into the castle, "come with us, and you will be
with your best friends."

They then proceeded to the place where they had left the horses, which
were still fastened to the trunks of the trees.

"My horse is strong," said Guillen to Gonzalo, "get up behind me and you
shall see that this horrible spectacle will be soon lost to our view. It
is a sight which oppresses and saddens my soul. My God! my God! the fire
consumes the apartment of Teresa, which I should like to see preserved,
as the sanctuary of my sweetest remembrances. See how the flames burst
from the window, at which the Infanta so often stood, sad and
broken-hearted! Comrades, let us get away as quickly as possible."

The three of them then made their way towards the Burgos road, whilst
the flames, fanned by a strong breeze, roared through the castle,
shooting up to the very battlements, and illuminating with their
sinister glare the plain of Carrion to a considerable distance.



CHAPTER XLIII

HOW A GOOD CAVALIER WAS CHARGED WITH AN EVIL MESSAGE


It must be confessed that ambition was the ruling passion of Don Sancho;
it must also be admitted that the injustice, or rather the imprudence,
of his brothers, supplied food to that passion. Don Sancho was haughty
and irritable in a high degree, and that character of his contributed
also, not a little, to cause him to forget that, in extending his
dominions, those whom he attacked were his brothers, and that, whether
just or unjust, the wishes of a dying father should be held sacred.

Guillen did not deceive himself when he said that, in a short time,
there would be a sanguinary war between Leonese and Castilians. The
counts sent into exile by Don Sancho, amongst whom we must include the
Count of Cabra, who, not content with the district which the Cid had so
generously recovered for him, was working, in union with his friends, to
avenge his banishment,--those counts, we repeat, worked on the mind of
Don Alfonso in the same manner as they had influenced that of Doña
Elvira, so that Leon might provoke Castile to a war, in which Don Sancho
might lose his crown, and perhaps his life. It might be that Don Alfonso
himself would lose both; in that case, however, the Count of Carrion and
his friends would lose but little, for the worst that could then happen
to them would be that they should complete their exile in states held by
the Moors, in Aragon or Navarre, instead of in the kingdom of Leon. In
that game they might win, but they could not lose.

Don Alfonso knew of the ambitious aims of his brother, and doubted not
but that he would very soon declare war against him, in order to
dispossess him of his kingdom, whether he were provoked to it or not; he
therefore hastened to put himself in a state of defence, so that he
might not be unprepared, should his fears be realised.

Don Sancho, knowing of the warlike preparations of his brother, demanded
explanations from him regarding their object. The answer of Don Alfonso
by no means satisfied him; negotiations succeeded, becoming gradually
more embittered, and in the end there was a complete rupture between
Castile and Leon; the efforts of the Cid and some other honoured
noblemen to prevent it having had no result.

Don Alfonso asked for aid from the kings of Navarre and of Aragon; but
before they were able to afford it, Don Sancho had collected together a
good army and hastened to invade the territory of his brother. The two
contending parties came to blows near a village named Plantaca; they
fought with great valour, and victory declared for the Castilians. The
king, Don Alfonso, being conquered, and his army destroyed, was forced
to retire to the city of Leon, where he intended to reinforce himself,
with the object of again attacking his victorious enemies.

He encountered them again near Golpelara, on the banks of the river
Carrion; another battle was fought, and, fortune changing, the
Castilians were beaten, before the Cid was able to take part in the
combat.

Rodrigo Diaz was very unwilling to fight against any of the children of
Don Fernando, and he only decided to do so when he saw Don Sancho, whom
he had accompanied in this war, quite powerless. On his arrival at the
field of battle, he found the Castilian army cut up and in flight, and
Don Sancho in despair. He cheered him up, assuring him that he would
regain all he had lost, got together again the flying soldiers and
before daybreak attacked the Leonese, who, heavy with sleep and wine, as
Mariana writes, were far from thinking of such a thing. The most
terrible disorder arose in the army of Don Alfonso. Some fled, others
took up their arms in a careless way, all were commanding, no one
obeying; they were vanquished, therefore, in a very short time. Don
Alfonso, fearing that he would soon fall into the hands of his enemies,
fled from the field of battle and shut himself up, with some of his
followers, in the church of Carrion; the Castilians, however, surrounded
it, and compelled him to surrender.

Don Sancho sent him at once to Burgos, and followed up the conquest of
the kingdom of Leon. The city of that name and other towns resisted; in
the end, however, they yielded, and in a few days the entire kingdom of
Don Alfonso was in the hands of Don Sancho.

Many noble Castilians and Leonese, amongst whom were Doña Urraca,
Peranzures, and the Cid, interceded with Don Sancho, praying him to make
the condition of the prisoner as favourable as possible. The King of
Castile consented to his brother going to the monastery of Sahagun,
taking the habit of a monk, and renouncing the secular state.

Don Alfonso did not remain long in that monastery. Whether it was that
the monastic life disgusted him, that he suspected the intentions of his
brother, or that he desired to put himself in a position to recover the
kingdom he had lost, whenever a favourable opportunity might present
itself,--whatever was the true reason, he fled to Toledo, where he was
kindly received by Almenon, who was glad to find an opportunity for
fulfilling the promise which he had made to the dead king, Don Fernando,
of affording the same protection to his children which he had afforded
to his daughter Casilda. He told him that he might remain in his states
as long as he desired; that he would provide for all his wants in such a
manner that he would scarcely regret the throne which he had lost; and
that he would treat him as a son. Don Alfonso entered into a covenant
with Almenon to serve him in the wars in which he was engaged with other
neighbouring Moors. He was accompanied by Peranzures and other
cavaliers, to whom the King of Toledo made allowances, by means of which
they could maintain themselves, and his ordinary occupation was the
chase. For greater convenience in the pursuit of this, he built a
country-house, which was the origin of the town of Brihuega.

There now only remained to Don Sancho to take possession of Zamora, in
order to possess all the states which had belonged to his father. The
city of Zamora was well supplied with fortifications, munitions,
provisions, and soldiers, which were there in order that all emergencies
might be provided for. The inhabitants were very brave and loyal, and
were always ready to expose themselves to any dangers by which they
might be threatened. They were under the command of Arias Gonzalo, a
cavalier advanced in years, of great valour and prudence, and whose
counsels, in matters of government and war, were much esteemed by Doña
Urraca.

Don Sancho desired to possess that city, especially as he now held Toro,
which he had taken from Doña Elvira, and, as the two were near each
other, he feared that the people of Zamora, who were strong and daring,
might fall upon the latter; he, however, desired to live in peace with
Doña Urraca, for whom he had always felt a greater affection than for
his other brothers and sisters. Hoping that he might be able to obtain
Zamora in exchange for some other place, and not by force of arms, he
resolved to send the Cid in order to negotiate such an exchange with the
Infanta.

"Zamora is worth half a kingdom," he said to Rodrigo; "built on a rock,
its walls and citadels are very strong, and the Duero, which runs
beneath it, serves it as an admirable defence. If my sister would
deliver it up to me, I would hold it in more esteem than the entire
kingdom of Leon. I pray you, therefore, good Cid, to go to Doña Urraca,
and ask her to give it to me in exchange, or else for a monetary
consideration. Tell her that for Zamora I will give her Medina de
Rioseco, Villalpando, with all its lands, the Castle of Tiedra, or
Valladolid, which is a very rich city, and I, together with twelve of my
vassals, will make oath to faithfully keep my promise to her."

"Sire," replied Rodrigo, "you have always found me, and shall always
find me, prepared to obey you, for in no other manner could I repay all
the favours you have bestowed on me, or fulfil the promise which I made
your father when he was on his deathbed; but if I go to Zamora with the
message which you desire to confide to me, your sister will believe, the
inhabitants of Zamora, and even the Castilians and Leonese will believe,
that I am aiding you in depriving Doña Urraca of her inheritance, and
that I am breaking the promise which I made to your father. I beseech
you, sire, to use the services, in this special matter, of other
cavaliers, who have not the same motives as I have to keep entirely out
of the matter."

"I do not send you," replied Don Sancho, "to threaten my sister, but to
make amicable proposals to her. What Castilian cavalier is as respected
as you by the inhabitants of Zamora, or whose words would have so much
influence as yours on Doña Urraca? Or do you fear that the promises
which you might make in my name would not be kept by me?"

"You insult me, sire, by imagining that Rodrigo Diaz could have any
doubt regarding the promises of his king."

"Then go to Zamora and endeavour to induce my sister to yield up her
inheritance to me; I beseech you to do so, as a friend, and I command
you to do so, as your king."

On the same day the Cid set out for Zamora, where, for some time,
ambassadors were expected from Don Sancho to demand the submission of
the city. When the Cid came near it the Infanta was in her palace,
listening to the counsels of Arias Gonzalo and other noblemen.

The inhabitants of Zamora, when they saw from the walls Rodrigo Diaz and
his retinue, who were proceeding towards the ancient gate in order to
enter the city, they began to utter loud cries and lamentations, seeing
that the time had come which they had so long dreaded; and the guards at
the gate prepared to resist the entrance of the Castilians. Doña Urraca
heard the loud cries and the alarm, which had now extended through the
entire city, and when she inquired, and was informed of the cause, she
went to a window which overlooked the exterior of the gate, although the
nobles who were with her tried to prevent her, fearing that some weapon
might be cast at her from the outside. It was then that, seeing the Cid
at the foot of the wall of the city, she addressed to him those bitter
reproaches, which have been preserved, thanks, perhaps, to the metrical
form which, at a later period, was given to them--


  "Leave me, leave me, Don Rodrigo,
  Haughty Castilian cavalier!
  Well should you remember
  The good times that are past;
  When a knight you first were made
  Before St James's holy altar;
  My father gave to you your arms;
  My mother gave to you your steed;
  I buckled on the spur of gold;
  That more honoured you might be,"


Rodrigo raised his face on hearing that reproof, which he was so far
from deserving, and felt his heart wounded, not so much because those
words accused him of being disloyal and ungrateful, but on account of
the grief which Doña Urraca showed by still wearing mourning, both for
the death of her father, and for the death of the happiness which had
reigned for so many years in her family. The face of the Infanta was
pale and haggard, and from her eyes flowed abundant tears.

"My lady," replied Rodrigo, "calm yourself, and admit me to your
presence, for I do not come as an enemy; Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar will
never bear arms against the daughter of Don Fernando the Great."

Doña Urraca became calm on hearing those words, and gave orders that the
Cid should be permitted to enter the city.

A few minutes later the honoured Castilian was in the presence of the
Infanta. He kissed her hand, bending his knee respectfully before her,
and repeated to her the message which Don Sancho had entrusted to him.
Doña Urraca then broke out afresh into lamentations.

"Woe is me!" she exclaimed; "what is this which Don Sancho demands of
me? How badly has he fulfilled the wishes of our father!--of our father,
who called down the wrath of Heaven on the brother who would attack his
brother. Our father was scarcely dead, when Don Sancho took all his
territories from my brother, Don Garcia, and made him a prisoner; then
he deprived Don Alfonso of his kingdom, who, finding himself so badly
treated by Christians, had to take refuge amongst the Moors. He took
Toro from my sister, and now he desires to take Zamora from me. Don
Sancho knows that his brothers and sisters are not strong enough to
fight against him face to face; but where the sword of the loyal is not
able to do its office, the dagger of traitors can work; if Don Garcia is
a prisoner, Don Alfonso, on the other hand, is free and is in the
country of the Moors."

Doña Urraca was weeping inconsolably whilst thus speaking; and neither
the words of Rodrigo nor those of the other cavaliers were able to
tranquillise her.

"Dry up your tears, my lady," said old Arias Gonzalo, whose words were
those which had the most authority with the Infanta; "it is not with
tears that troubles are remedied. Consult your vassals; inform them of
that which Don Sancho pretends to, and if they think it well, deliver to
the king the territory of Zamora; but if they consider that you should
not do so, we shall all defend it for you, as brave and honourable men.
Don Sancho asks you to give him Zamora, promising to hand over to you
other places in exchange for it; but how can you trust him to keep his
promise, who has so badly carried out the will of his father? For my
part, I advise you not to deliver up the city to your brother. We shall
die in it, rather than surrender it in a cowardly manner, and I believe
that all its inhabitants will be of my opinion. Do you wish to know at
once, my lady? Do you wish to learn now, whether the people of Zamora
are resolved to defend your inheritance or not? Crowds swarm at the
gates of this Alcazar in order to learn what resolution you may come to.
Let me ask your people whether they prefer to bring on them the anger of
Don Sancho, or to see their mistress despoiled of that which rightly
belongs to her."

When he had thus spoken, Arias Gonzalo went to a window which overlooked
a small square which lay at the front of the Alcazar. Crowds were indeed
swarming into it, anxious to learn what the message was which the Cid
had brought, for no one doubted but that it was a very important one for
the people of Zamora, when that famous cavalier had been entrusted with
it.

"People of Zamora!" cried out old Arias Gonzalo, whose first words
imposed a hushed silence on the assembled multitude. "The king, Don
Sancho, wishes to take from our lady, Doña Urraca, the city of Zamora in
exchange for other places which he promises to give her. Do you desire
that the Infanta should yield to those demands of her brother, or are
you prepared to fight, as brave men, in the defence of her inheritance?"

"We will die fighting within the walls of Zamora!" was the universal
shout which answered Arias.

"Zamora for Doña Urraca! Zamora for Doña Urraca!" the multitude
continued to cry; and then the old man turned to the Infanta and said to
her--

"Now you hear, my lady, the opinion of your vassals."

"Well, then," replied Doña Urraca, assuming a masculine haughtiness,
"good Cid, say to Don Sancho that his sister and all her vassals will
die in Zamora, rather than yield it up to him."

"I shall bring that answer to the king, my lady," said the Cid; "permit
me to kiss your hand once more, as a pledge that I shall fulfil my
promise not to bear arms against you."

"I know already, Don Rodrigo, that you are an honourable cavalier,"
replied the Infanta, holding out her hand that he might kiss it. "Tell
him that it sullies the reputation of the strong to attack the weak;
tell him that he should remember the affection I always had for him;
tell him that, however great his ambition may be, he should be satisfied
with the states which he already possesses; tell him that the
malediction of his father will fall on him; and tell him, finally, that
I am his sister."

Rodrigo went forth from the Alcazar of Doña Urraca, followed by the
Castilian cavaliers who had accompanied him. The people who still
crowded the square, raging with fury against Don Sancho, became silent
when they saw him, and respectfully opened a passage for him. Such was
the esteem in which that brave cavalier was universally held.

Whilst going through the crowds he saw cavaliers and peasants, young men
and old men, people indeed of all ranks and conditions, and he thought
he saw amongst them the Count of Carrion and some others of the nobles
who had been banished by Don Sancho.

Shortly after the Castilians had left the city, they turned their looks
towards it, and saw the walls crowded with men, preparing for the
defence; they heard the sounds of the implements which they were
employing to repair the fortifications.

"Alas!" then exclaimed Rodrigo, "how much Christian blood must flow by
reason of the ambition of Don Sancho and the wickedness of those who
have stirred up those discords!"



CHAPTER XLIV

THE SIEGE OF ZAMORA


Rodrigo returned, sad and downcast, to give the answer of Doña Urraca to
Don Sancho, for he knew that ambition and anger had more effect on him
than the voice of relationship and reason. The king was awaiting him
impatiently, for he did not wish to delay the addition of Zamora to his
dominions, either by arrangement or by force of arms. As soon,
therefore, as Rodrigo appeared in his presence, he hastened to ask him
what the reply of his sister was.

"Sire," answered the Cid, "the Infanta fears that, once having taken
from her the city of Zamora, you would not give up to her the places
which you offer in exchange for it."

"As God lives," interrupted Don Sancho in a rage, "I have been very
foolish to make peaceful proposals to one who has so little faith in my
promises! But does my sister consent to yield up her territory to me?"

"On the contrary, she is resolved to defend it at all costs, for such is
the love that her vassals have for her, that I myself have heard them
swear that they would defend the inheritance of Doña Urraca, even were
they all to die with their arms in their hands."

"Then they shall die, and Zamora shall be mine."

"Sire, give ears to reason; consider that you are about to fight against
a weak woman, and, above all, that she is your sister."

"She, who rejects the peace which I offer her, is not such; she is not
my sister who insults me by doubting my promises, who denies the justice
which urges me on to recover the states which have been usurped from me,
taking advantage of the wishes of a dying man, whose reason at the time
was clouded by the near approach of death."

"Zamora is so strong, both in its walls and its defenders, that, before
you can take it, Christian blood will swell the current of the Duero.
Leave, sire, that paltry speck of earth with your sister, and increase
your kingdom by other conquests, richer and more glorious: you are
brave, and have good soldiers, go to the lands of the Moors and fight
there; you can thus enlarge your dominions and gain honour, the worth of
which no one can ever place in doubt."

"Rodrigo!" exclaimed Don Sancho, irritated, "you plead the cause of my
sister with such warmth, that one might well imagine that you were one
of her partisans."

"Pardon me, sire, if I depart somewhat from the respect which a vassal
owes to his king; but it is my duty to tell you that all good cavaliers
are bound to defend the weak, and I only comply with the demands of
chivalry by pleading the cause of your sister."

"I wish to spare you the annoyance of being present at the humiliation
of Doña Urraca, by causing you to absent yourself from Castile. Leave my
kingdom, banished from it, within nine days; for, if up to the present
you have been a good vassal, you are such no longer, since you oppose
the wishes of your king, instead of assisting him to augment his
states."

"It is my duty to obey your orders," replied the Cid, with humility.

And on the same day he set out from the Court, in order to go into
exile, followed by several cavaliers, who voluntarily went to share his
disgrace. The lamentations of the Castilian people accompanied him
everywhere, and all showed by their demeanour, and by their words, the
indignation with which the conduct of Don Sancho filled them.

It was not long before he repented of his ingratitude; his conscience
and the words of the nobles who were present at the Court made him see
at once how unjust he had been towards the Cid, and what evils the
banishment of such a good cavalier might bring upon Castile.

"Go," he said to Diego Ordoñez de Lara, "overtake De Vivar, and pray
him, in my name, to return; tell him that I revoke the sentence of
banishment, and that my greatest happiness will be to see him return to
my side, free from all resentment."

Diego Ordoñez de Lara hastened to obey the king, and at two o'clock in
the afternoon he overtook the Cid, to whom he delivered the message
which the king had entrusted to him.

Rodrigo returned with the messenger; and the king, instead of giving him
his hand to kiss, opened his arms to him, with all the marks of
affection, and besought him to forget his unjust severity.

Nothing, however, could induce Don Sancho to abandon his determination
of taking possession of Zamora, although many cavaliers, amongst whom De
Lara was one of the most prominent, joined their requests and prayers to
those of the Cid, that the Infanta might be left in peaceful possession
of her city. Don Sancho enrolled a good army and all the warlike
instruments necessary for the siege of a strongly fortified place, and
set out for Zamora, accompanied by the Cid, who, however, was resolved
not to break his promise or unsheath his sword against Doña Urraca.

Having arrived before Zamora, he again demanded its surrender by the
Infanta; but the inhabitants, crowding on its walls, replied with loud
cries and threats, that they were resolved to die rather than yield it
up, and Doña Urraca answered to the same effect. Don Sancho then
hastened to commence the siege, which, from the first day, was
prosecuted with great ardour. It was not much to the taste of the
soldiers of Don Sancho to be obliged to attack the inhabitants of
Zamora, but the cries and insults such as usually are exchanged between
besieged and besiegers made the Castilians forget the bad cause for
which they were fighting, and they soon regarded the people of Zamora as
enemies and nothing more.

The siege of Zamora was now definitely commenced.

The Castilians made an attempt to take the walls by assault; they were,
however, repulsed with heroic valour, and the defenders of the city were
filled with renewed confidence by this first triumph. The assaults were
frequently repeated, and always with unhappy results for the besiegers,
which intensified more and more their anger, and especially that of Don
Sancho, who had not expected such a stubborn resistance from the weak
woman who had opposed his ambitious plans.

The tent of Don Sancho was pitched on a hill, a few hundred paces
distant from the city, opposite one of the large gates which afforded
entrance into it. From it Zamora could be plainly seen, the walls and
turrets of which were always crowded with men who defied those outside
with shouts and waving of their arms. The Castilians attacked the walls
three times during one night, and Don Sancho was at their front, in the
most dangerous positions: all these attacks were, however, unavailing,
for the walls were almost impregnable, both on account of their solidity
and height, and of the great bravery of the people of Zamora. At sunrise
on the day following that sanguinary night, Don Sancho was standing
before his tent, gazing on the haughty city and thinking out new plans
by which to take it. His cavaliers, heavy with sleep and fatigue, were
lying in all directions throughout the camp; but he, Don Sancho the
Strong, had not taken any repose, for the energy of his soul was
superior to all physical weaknesses. His eyes remained constantly fixed
on the proud city, which he would have wished to reduce to ruins by his
glances. In his mind no project was so impossible that it could not be
carried out, but the taking of Zamora now appeared to him, if not
impossible, at least very difficult, as the flower of his warriors had
perished at the foot of those walls, and in proportion as his soldiers
became discouraged, the confidence of his opponents had increased. The
proud monarch was thinking of the shame which would come upon him on the
day when he should have to abandon the siege, and all the world would
know that he had not been able to conquer a woman; at that moment he
would have accepted death itself, if it were only accompanied by the
surrender of Zamora.

When he was deeply immersed in those reflections, he heard loud sounds
of voices in the direction of the city, and he saw, coming through the
gate, which was opposite his camp, a number of cavaliers behind a man,
who was advancing about forty paces in front of them. Don Sancho
believed that the soldiers of Zamora were making a sortie for the
purpose of attacking the camp, and the sentries thought the same. They
began to spread the alarm amongst the Castilians, when they ceased
suddenly, on seeing that only he who was in advance of the cavaliers
came towards them, and that the others returned into the city through
the postern by which they had issued from it.

"King Don Sancho!" a voice called out from the walls, just at the moment
that this man was approaching the camp of the besiegers,--"King Don
Sancho, beware of Bellido Dolfos, for he is going to your camp, plotting
some treachery against you. If he deceives you, do not blame us, for
Arias Gonzalo and all the honourable men of Zamora warn you."

Bellido heard that voice, and coming up, panting, he prostrated himself
at the feet of the king, exclaiming, "Sire, do not believe those men of
Zamora. Arias Gonzalo and his followers calumniate me, for they fear
that you may conquer the city if you hearken to my words, for they know
well that I can point out a position to you from which you can take
Zamora."

Don Sancho held forth his hand to Bellido and raised him up kindly,
saying to him--

"I believe you, and I should be considered stupid and an idiot if I were
to trust in those who insult me and oppose my authority, instead of in
him who comes to my camp to receive orders at my feet."

"Thanks, sire!" exclaimed Bellido. "Zamora shall be yours within two
days if you let yourself be guided by my counsels, for not far from here
there is a gate, through which you can enter it; but I fear that, having
heard the accusation of treachery, which Arias has directed against me,
you will distrust me, and that my desire to serve you shall be in vain."

"No, it shall not be in vain, Bellido; I do not distrust you, and if you
wish that I should prove that to you, tell me where I must assault the
walls, and you will see that, this very day, I shall fight there in
front of my troops."

"Well, then, my lord, come with me, and just beyond that rampart, which
you see, to our right, I will show you the Cambron Gate, through which
you will be able to enter Zamora, provided you do not forget the
instructions which I will give you."

"Let us not lose time, my good Bellido, let us now proceed to
reconnoitre the gate of which you tell me, and this very day we shall
enter through it, and humble the insolent pride of the defenders of
Zamora."

Don Sancho mounted his horse, in a joyous state of mind, and prepared to
set out with Bellido. The cavaliers who surrounded him, amongst whom
were the Cid and Diego Ordoñez de Lara, were preparing to go with the
king, but when Bellido noticed it he hastened to say to Don Sancho--

"My lord, it would much please me if you and I alone went, in order not
to attract too much the attention of those in the town, for they would
fortify at once the abandoned gate if they surmised that we were going
to make an attack on them through it; but as you have just reasons for
distrusting me, it is but right you should bring your cavaliers as a
guard."

"Bellido," said Don Sancho, somewhat vexed at seeing that the deserter
was not quite convinced that he trusted him, "I repeat to you that I
have the fullest confidence in you, and I assure you of that on the word
of a king and of a cavalier."

Then, turning to those who were preparing to accompany him, he added--

"Remain in the camp, for I do not need to be guarded."

"Sire," said the Cid, "we shall go with Bellido; either remain in your
tent, or permit us to accompany you."

Don Sancho, however, did not pay any attention to the words of the Cid,
but set out with Bellido, both of them proceeding cautiously around the
walls of the town, and doing their utmost to conceal themselves amongst
the trees, so as not to be seen by the enemy.

In a short time they were at a considerable distance from the royal
camp, but not so far that the cavaliers, who had remained in it, lost
them entirely to view.

Don Sancho was mounted on a spirited horse, the impetuosity of which he
felt it rather difficult to keep in control; and when Bellido informed
him that they were near the Cambron Gate, he advanced some paces, not
being able to curb his impatience to see that road which he believed was
to lead him to the goal which he so anxiously desired to reach. Bellido
took advantage of that opportunity in order to carry out the hellish
plot, for the purpose of which he had gone to the Castilian camp; he
took a javelin in his hand, and darting it with all the force he could
command, buried it in the breast of the unfortunate king. Don Sancho
uttered a cry of agony, and seized the javelin, not so much to free
himself from it as to use it against the assassin, but his strength was
insufficient, as it was quickly leaving him, and it was only with very
great difficulty that he could keep himself on his horse.

"Quick, my cavaliers!" cried the king, struggling with death, which was
now stopping his breath; "pursue the traitor who has wounded me!"

The Cid hastened to mount Babieca in order to pursue the assassin, who
was hurrying off to seek refuge in Zamora, whilst Don Diego Ordoñez de
Lara and other cavaliers quickly proceeded to the spot where Don Sancho
was lying. The Cid, in the haste with which he had mounted, had
forgotten to buckle on his spurs, for which reason the horse could not
be got to gallop as fast as the enraged cavalier desired. Bellido was
rapidly nearing a postern, and although the Cid urged on Babieca by
striking his flanks with his heels and the butt-end of his lance, he was
not able to overtake in time the treacherous regicide, who arrived at
the postern and entered it without any opposition. Rodrigo, blinded by
anger, would have rushed into the town after him, but the gate was shut
in his face, and the Cid exclaimed in despair--

"May God curse the knight who rides without spurs!"

Don Sancho had breathed his last just at that moment, and the loud
lamentations and cries of fury, which were uttered by the Castilian
cavaliers around him, rent the air, and filled with fear and dismay the
entire camp of the besiegers.

Diego Ordoñez de Lara left the dead body of the king, weeping with grief
and rage, and ascended a hill which commanded the town and sloped down
towards it.

"People of Zamora!" he cried from it, with a voice of thunder, "you are
all murderers and traitors, for you have received into the city Bellido
Dolfos, who has assassinated Don Sancho, my good king and lord. Those
are traitors who protect traitors, and as such I, Diego Ordoñez de Lara,
brand you. As traitors and murderers I challenge you all, great and
humble, men and women, living and dead, born and to be be born, the fish
and the birds, the flocks and the waters, the plants and the trees,
everything, in fine, that is in Zamora, and all shall be exterminated by
our anger!"

Arias Gonzalo, who heard the challenge of De Lara, answered from the
wall--

"If the people of Zamora were capable of committing the treacherous act
of which you accuse them, De Lara, Arias Gonzalo and his sons would
serve Moors rather than fight for Doña Urraca. Remember that we
cautioned Don Sancho that Bellido was going to the royal camp for some
treacherous purpose, and that caution frees us from any blame. But if
you persist in your challenge, I accept it; for if I myself am too old
to fight against you, I have sons, honourable and valiant, who will take
my place."

"That is what I desire," said De Lara. "On the field of battle I shall
prove that the people of Zamora are vile traitors and assassins."

Arias Gonzalo turned to those who crowded the ramparts of Zamora, and to
those who filled the square which was opposite the palace of the
Infanta, and said to them--

"Men, great and small, nobles and commoners, if there are any amongst
you who have taken part in the treachery of Bellido Dolfos, speak out at
once, for it would be better to go as an exile to Africa than to be
vanquished on the field as a traitor and murderer."

"No, no!" cried out all, "may there be no salvation for our souls if we
had any part in that act of treachery!"

"Hear, De Lara," cried Arias: "Zamora accepts the challenge which you
have given to it, and Arias Gonzalo and his followers will fight against
you."

On that same day many Castilians left the camp and set out for Castile,
with the dead body of Don Sancho, which they brought to Oña, where it
was interred.

On that same day the people of Zamora and the Castilians arranged the
date, the place, and the conditions of the duel, for which the challenge
had been given by De Lara.

On that day, also, active search was made in Zamora with the object of
finding Bellido Dolfos, and delivering him up to the fury of the
townspeople, who were enraged by his crime, even though it had been
committed on their enemy.

The assassin, however, had succeeded in scaling the wall, which overhung
the Duero, without being seen; and having done so, he hastened away from
the town.

And finally, on that day, the Count of Carrion and his friends
celebrated the death of Don Sancho by a banquet given in the lodgings of
Don Suero.



CHAPTER XLV

IN WHICH IT IS PROVED THAT ONE CAN FIGHT WITHOUT CONQUERING OR BEING
CONQUERED


Some days after the death of the king, Don Sancho, great excitement
could be noticed in Zamora and its neighbourhood. The cause of it was
that, on a plain beside the Duero, the combat was about to take place
which was pending between the Castilians and the men of Zamora, or, as
their champions, between Diego Ordoñez de Lara on the one side, and
Arias Gonzalo and his sons on the other.

Doña Urraca was in her palace, bathed in tears, on account of the death
of her brother, on account of the accusation which De Lara had hurled
against the people of Zamora, and on account of the risk which the sons
of Arias ran, for she esteemed them very much, as, although very young,
they were loyal and brave cavaliers. Just then Gonzalo appeared,
followed by his sons Pero, Diego, Fernando, and another, whose name the
Chronicles do not give.

The old man and the youths, throwing back their large cloaks, appeared
clad in coats of mail, and they all knelt down at the feet of the
Infanta, whose hand they kissed with marks of the greatest devotion and
respect.

"Noble Infanta," said old Arias, "you know already that Don Diego
Ordoñez de Lara, one of the best of the Castilian cavaliers, has
challenged Zamora, and I have accepted the challenge in the name of your
subjects. The lists are open, the judges of the combat are appointed,
and the hour for it approaches. I would be the first to commence the
fight if I did not know that my age makes me feeble, and that De Lara
might be able to boast of the first triumph; my sons, however, whom you
see here, are young, and moreover, skilful and brave combatants, and
they will defend your honour and that of your subjects as long as they
have blood in their veins. If all my sons should fall in the struggle, I
shall then use, in the defence of your outraged honour, the little
strength which yet remains in my arm."

Doña Urraca broke out into fresh tears on hearing old Arias.

"Do not weep, my lady," he said to her, "for good cavaliers are born to
conquer or to die in the fight. My sons and I will go to the lists if
you grant us your consent; give us no thanks for doing so, for it is the
duty of good vassals to sacrifice their lives and their property for
their sovereign."

"Go then, noble old man, and you also, loyal and brave youths; God will
protect those who defend their honour, and He will have compassion on
me, for if I should lose you I shall ever weep for you."

Arias Gonzalo and his sons left the palace of Doña Urraca and proceeded
to the place of combat, accompanied by the prayers which all the
inhabitants of Zamora offered to God, that He might give His divine aid
to such good cavaliers.

An enormous multitude was collected around the lists; but there were not
reflected on the faces of those present the animation and the joy which
we have seen on those of the spectators of another combat, that between
Rodrigo Diaz and Martin Gonzalez the Aragonian. Both the people of
Zamora and the Castilians were filled with grief by the death of Don
Sancho, for if the late king was ambitious and unjust when he let
himself be led away by his haughty and irascible character, he was, on
the other hand, valiant and passionately fond of difficult enterprises;
such qualities constituted the chief merit of men in that specially
warlike age.

Around the enclosure had been erected platforms for the ladies and the
judges of the combat, and the latter already occupied their places when
Arias and his sons received permission to defend her cause from Doña
Urraca; the places reserved for the ladies were, however, unoccupied.
That combat did not awaken female curiosity, on account of the way their
minds were affected by the disastrous death of the brave King of
Castile, and by the infamous accusation which weighed upon the people of
Zamora. At the same moment, also, Arias, with his sons and Don Diego
Ordoñez de Lara, arrived in the lists; he was accompanied, as his
second, by Martin Antolinez, in the absence of the Cid, who had departed
from Zamora, going with the corpse of Don Sancho to Oña. He was desirous
of accompanying his king to his last dwelling-place, and of fulfilling
his promise not to take any part against the inhabitants of Zamora. When
the spectators saw those honoured and brave cavaliers, they broke out
either in lamentation or in maledictions on the treacherous regicide, on
account of whose crime such esteemed combatants had to risk their lives.

All the preliminaries having been arranged and the ground measured by
those appointed for that purpose, Pero Arias appeared at one end of the
lists, and Diego Ordoñez de Lara at the other. Both were mounted on
fiery chargers, were clad with shining armour, were girt with swords,
and were provided with good shields and strong lances.

The judges gave the signal to the heralds, and they sounded their
trumpets. On hearing the first blast, the champions prepared for the
charge, and scarcely did they hear the second when they drove their
spurs into the flanks of their horses, which rushed forward as swift as
lightning. The meeting of the combatants was terrible; the lances,
however, struck the shields, and, glancing off them, left the champions
uninjured. They then made ready for the second charge, and starting with
even greater speed than in the first, the lance of De Lara pierced the
helmet of Pero Arias, who felt himself seriously wounded in the head.
The champion of Zamora reeled on his saddle, but, holding on by the mane
of his horse, he had strength enough to deal a furious blow at his
enemy. The sight of Pero Arias was dimmed by the blood which flowed over
his face, and, for that reason, his lance only wounded the horse of De
Lara; the young man then fell to the ground, breathing his last.

A cry of lamentation was heard on all sides, and many of the spectators
burst into weeping. Diego Ordoñez brandished his lance in the air and
cried with a voice of thunder--

"Woe to the people of Zamora! Arias Gonzalo, send out another son, for
the first is settled with!"

Diego, the second son of Arias, went into the lists when the body of his
brother was removed, and when De Lara had mounted a fresh horse, instead
of that which had been badly wounded by the lance of Pero. The cuirass
of Diego Arias was strong, but the lance of Diego Ordoñez struck it with
such force, that it went through it, and came out, with its point so
abundantly covered with blood, that the shaft and pennon were stained by
it. Diego Arias, mortally wounded in the breast, fell to the ground,
like an inert mass, and fresh cries of grief and fresh wailings
accompanied the death of the second champion of Zamora.

De Lara again brandished his bloodstained lance and cried out--

"Woe to the people of Zamora! Send out another son, good Arias, for
Diego's fighting days are over."

Fernando Arias was awaiting the blessing of his father before
proceeding to the lists, when the old man said to him--

"My son, go fight for our honour, as a good cavalier should: imitate
your brothers and avenge their deaths, washing off at the same time the
stain of treachery, which De Lara has cast upon us."

"Father," replied the young man, "do not insult me by reminding me of my
duty; I trust in God and in my arm that Zamora and my brothers shall be
avenged."

And Fernando Arias went out to the lists, anxious to pierce with his
lance Diego Ordoñez, who seemed to wish to devour him with his furious
glances.

The champions rushed on each other with a fury seldom witnessed, and the
lance of Fernando entered the shoulder of Diego; he, however, far from
losing courage on account of the intense pain which the wound must have
caused him, hastened to charge again, and aiming at his adversary's
head, carried off his helmet, and wounded him, though but slightly.
Fernando, when he felt himself wounded, directed his lance against De
Lara, blind with rage and desperation; he, however, only succeeded in
wounding the horse.

The animal, feeling the blade of the lance of Fernando in its neck, gave
a great jump, which disconcerted its rider, then, darting off, Diego not
being able to control it, jumped over the barrier, trampling down the
crowd which was outside.

The judges ordered the herald to give the signal that the combat was
suspended, for according to the laws regulating the duel the cavalier
who quitted the lists was considered conquered.

Don Diego de Lara wished to resume the fight, for he said that his horse
had crossed the barrier, he not having been able to control it; but the
judges did not permit it, and began to argue over that unforeseen
occurrence, without being able to come to any decision.

Whilst the judges were deliberating, Arias Gonzalo said to De Lara, not
having sufficient mastery over himself to repress his anger and the
grief which he experienced on account of the loss of his two sons--

"You are more arrogant than courageous, De Lara. You have conquered
beardless youths; but I maintain that you could not overcome men, such
as I formerly was."

De Lara replied, without becoming irritated--

"Good Arias, I could well recount to you acts of valour, which would
contradict your words; but to prove my prowess it needs only to say that
I have fought with your sons and have vanquished them."

The old man recognised the fact that grief had made him discourteous,
and he could not but appreciate the moderation of the Castilian who paid
back insults with flattery. He was about to hold out his hand to De
Lara, but he restrained himself when he saw that the judges were about
to announce their decision. This is how the heralds made it public:--

"The judges of the combat declare that both the champions of Castile and
of Zamora have acted as good and true men in this contest, for if the
Castilian champion quitted the lists, it was not of his own election,
but through the fault of his horse. Both sides should consider
themselves victors--the Castilians satisfied, and Zamora freed from the
charge of treachery which was imputed to it."

This decision changed the lamentations and the consternation of the
crowds of spectators into joyous cheers; and Arias Gonzalo extended his
hand to De Lara, and said to him--

"You have taken from me two sons, give me your friendship in exchange
for them, as I consider it as valuable as the short tenure of life which
remains to me."

"My friendship and my arms I give to you, honoured Arias," replied Don
Diego, pressing the old man to his breast.

Some hours after the Castilians raised the siege of Zamora, and Doña
Urraca, by the advice of Arias and other nobles of the city, wrote to
Don Alfonso, shedding at the same time copious tears, to inform him of
the death of his brother, and to advise him to take immediate steps to
place his father's crown upon his head, before ambitions could break
loose, and rival factions inundate the country with blood.

Eight days afterwards, Don Alfonso arrived in Leon, and again took
possession of the kingdom which his brother had usurped from him; the
kingdom of Galicia then spontaneously placed itself under his sway, for
no one desired the liberty of Don Garcia, who was detested on account of
his ungovernable, tyrannical, and foolish character. He was then
preparing to set out for Burgos, to take possession of the kingdom of
Castile, but when this became known, the Castilian grandees assembled
together, at the earnest request of Rodrigo Diaz, who thus addressed
them:--

"I have always considered Don Alfonso an honourable man, and Castile by
right belongs to him; but as connivance in the death of Don Sancho can
be attributed to no one with greater probability than to him, I am of
opinion that the Castilian people should demand an oath from him that he
had no part whatever in the treacherous crime of Bellido Dolfos. Castile
is held in the highest honour, and for that very reason it has a right
to know if he is an honourable man, whom it proclaims its lord and king.
It is necessary, then, that Don Alfonso should swear that he had no part
in the death of his brother."

All the nobles approved of the views of the Cid, but all trembled at the
idea of the vexation which the demand of an oath, that implied a highly
offensive suspicion, would cause to Don Alfonso.

"And who will dare to draw down upon himself the indignation of Don
Alfonso by exacting such an oath from him?" many asked.

"I!" answered the Cid, with generous pride. "In addition to being a
subject of Don Alfonso, I am a Castilian and a cavalier, and it is my
duty to risk death, in order to preserve immaculate the honour of my
native land. I have always looked upon Don Alfonso as an honourable and
good man; but I also know to what extent men are blinded by ambition and
the thirst for vengeance. I would venture to swear by all that I love
most in the world that it was the Count of Carrion, with his partisans,
whom I saw at the time at Zamora, that spurred on Bellido to assassinate
Don Sancho; but how can I have complete confidence that they were not,
beforehand, instigated by Don Alfonso, especially when Doña Urraca
reminded me, before the commencement of the siege of Zamora, that Don
Alfonso was free, and that, if she was too powerless to fight face to
face with Don Sancho, daggers could reach where swords could not avail?
Let Don Alfonso come to Castile; I shall exact the oath from him, and
when he shall have taken it, I shall be the first to kneel before him,
in acknowledgment of the vasalage which I owe him. The land which was
ruled over by the Count Fernan Gonzalez, and by Don Fernando the Great,
must only have as its king a man as loyal and honourable as they were."

In a short time the resolve of the Cid had spread through Burgos, and
even through the entire of Castile, and this gained for him, in the eyes
of all the Castilians, a title to their love, as great as that which he
had ever gained by the most glorious of his triumphs on battlefields.
On the same day on which he had arranged with the nobles to demand the
oath from Don Alfonso, the brave and loyal cavalier was surrounded by
his family, delivering himself up to domestic happiness, which for him
was the sweetests of delights. Rodrigo was born in an age when, in order
to be a good son, a good husband, and a good father, it was also
necessary that a man should be a good soldier; for the latter quality
figured amongst the greatest virtues. For that reason he passed the
greater portion of his life in the din of combats; but how can it be
conceived that a man could prefer the barbarous charms of war to the
sweetnesses of domestic peace, who always appears in history with the
names of his spouse and of his daughters on his lips, weeping when
separating from them, and loading with gifts and affection those who
protected his Ximena, his Sol, and his Elvira? A Castilian artist, an
enthusiastic admirer of the Cid, the popular hero of Castile, has
painted Rodrigo Diaz in the following manner: the Cid has his left arm
thrown around the necks of Sol and Elvira, and his right arm around that
of Ximena; from his belt hangs his formidable sword, and before them
stands Babieca, ready caparisoned to set out for the battlefield.

That picture is the complete history of the Cid Campeador. It is as
interesting as the one which Rodrigo Diaz and his family presented on
the day which we have mentioned. It was a beautiful evening in spring:
the background of the enchanting picture was formed by the modest garden
belonging to the mansion, in Burgos, of the lords of Vivar. Rodrigo was
seated under a tree covered with foliage, and was caressing a
golden-haired child, that was jumping on his knees, whose name also was
Rodrigo, and was his first-born. By his side were Ximena, Teresa Nuña,
Lambra, and Mayor, occupied with work suited to their sex; opposite was
the venerable Diego Lainez, who had been entertaining all of them, for a
considerable time, with a curious story of chivalry, connected with one
of his ancestors; and finally, was to be seen Gil, the Moorish boy,
adopted by Rodrigo in the mountains of Oca, who was now approaching
manhood, and was the idol of the family, by reason of his discretion,
his beauty, and the generous instincts which he displayed.

"It is good," said Diego, "that the remembrance of deeds, such as those
which I have just related, should pass down from father to son; that is
why I have often recounted to you those of Lain Calvo, who was my
father. Would to God that we had in Castile some that were capable of
chronicling the heroic deeds of those who wielded lance and sword, but
in that we are less fortunate than the Greeks and Romans."

"You are right," replied Rodrigo. "Oral tradition easily distorts real
facts, and it is a sad thing that the deeds of a loyal and valiant age
of chivalry should traverse the centuries, confided to the folly of the
ignorant crowd."

"Then it must not be the ignorant multitude that shall perpetuate your
brave deeds; if God permits me to become a man!" exclaimed Gil, he who
afterwards composed the Chronicle of the famous cavalier, Rodrigo Diaz
de Vivar.

"Rejoice, O Cesar, for you have already your Suetonius, to write your
history," said the old man, laughing, and all the others joined with
him.

"Good Gil," said Rodrigo, "wait until we return to Vivar, and there I
will teach you, if not how to write histories of cavaliers, at least how
cavaliers should act, so that their memory may never die."

"And when shall we return to Vivar?" asked Ximena; "when, Rodrigo, will
you forget arms, in order to consecrate yourself entirely to our love?"

"It appears to me that that day is not very distant," answered Rodrigo.
"Don Alfonso is about to assume the crown of Castile; Castile and Leon
will then form but one kingdom, and peace will be the result of the
union of both crowns. The day on which they hang up banners in Castile,
to honour Don Alfonso VI., will be that on which we shall leave the
Court and return to Vivar, where all of us will enjoy the tranquillity
which the anxieties of courts banish."



CHAPTER XLVI

THE OATH IN SANTA GADEA


There is unusual excitement in Burgos; very many persons crowd in from
the neighbouring villages on all sides of the city, and streets and
squares are thronged by the crowds, on whose visages both fear and
curiosity are expressed. The place, however, where the crush is
greatest, is outside the city, in the direction of the Leon road; many
thousands of people of all ages and conditions hasten thither, and
direct their looks, with avidity, towards a road which, at about
half-an-hour's walk from the city, becomes lost on the summit of a hill,
which limits the horizon. Whom do those people of Burgos expect? Let us
see if, amongst the crowds, we can find any of our old acquaintances,
who may be able to fully satisfy our curiosity. Men and women, nobles,
peasants, and townspeople are everywhere, in the centre of the road, and
on the raised banks beside it, on the trees and on the adjacent hills,
all impatient, and all weary already of waiting; however, we see no one
that we know, not even the peasant from Barbadillo, whose curiosity is
as proverbial in Burgos as that of his friend Iñigo, and whose conjugal
affairs amuse so much the townspeople, since the day they saw him disown
his wife at the door of the mansion of the lords of Vivar. But is not
that his wife,--the wife of Bartolo,--that handsome peasant woman, who
is walking with a young man on the summit of the low hill? Yes, it is
she. And is not Alvar the youth who is in such good humour, and who is
laughing with her? It is Alvar, no doubt of that. She does not now seem
disposed to refuse, with blows, as she used to do at the smithy of
Iñigo, the flowers which the daring page presented to her.

"It is a long time now," said Alvar, "that I sigh for you and bear the
insults of your husband, and you have not rewarded me even with a little
embrace! Tyrant! Does a lover, as faithful as I have been, merit such
poor pay? Does my love, perchance, displease you?"

"I only wish I were not a married woman, as you are such a gentle youth,
and not a fool like my husband; but, as long as Bartolo lives, your
efforts will be in vain, and those also of the squire, Fernan, who makes
love to me, as well as you."

"Accursed be my ill fortune!" said Alvar, stamping on the ground. "It is
on account of that Fernan, and not on account of your husband, that you
respond so badly to my love."

"I respond to Fernan just the same as to you."

"So, you are pleased with his graces?"

"Why should not his please me as much as yours?"

"But don't mine please you? Reward me, if it is so."

"But those of Fernan merit an equal reward."

"Oh, how unfortunate I am with the women!" said Alvar, despairing of
ever seeing his love requited by the peasant woman.

Whilst she and the page were thus conversing in a field beside the road,
Bartolo himself was struggling to make his way through the crowd,
looking anxiously in all directions, as if he were seeking someone.

"Oh, Señor Bartolo, come here, as I have great news for you!" cried out
a man, who was resisting the rushing of the waves, formed by the
multitude, firmly planted against the trunk of a tree. That man was the
soldier who, on a former occasion, had so courteously explained to him
what was going on between the servitors of the Cid; but Bartolo either
did not hear him, or paid no attention to his words.

"Señor peasant, come here, and I shall relate strange news to you,"
persisted the soldier.

"I don't want your news," replied Bartolo at last. "I am looking for my
wife. The jade has escaped from my house, and I swear that, if I catch
her, she'll have to bear more wood than a miller's ass"--

"But what I have to tell you is about your wife."

"About my wife? Where is the slut?"

"Look at her over there in the field, amusing herself with one of her
lovers."

"San Pedro de Cardeña, preserve me!" exclaimed the peasant, looking in
the direction which the soldier had pointed out to him.

"Ha, ha, ha! I stick to what I always said--that is, that women are no
great things," said the soldier, laughing maliciously.

"I swear by all that's holy!" muttered the rustic, breaking suddenly
through the crowd in the direction of the hill. "My wife was a simpleton
in Barbadillo, but no person ever said a word against her honour. A
curse on this city and all the news that can be got out of it! Since I
came to Burgos I have never had an easy day. Treacherous women! my wife
is a deceiver! I swear that, this very day, she shall return to
Barbadillo, with more blows than she has hairs on her head, and neither
she nor I shall ever leave the village again."

At last he arrived at the little hill, and making a short circuit, in
order to take at the rear his wife and the page, who were still talking,
to all appearance, very confidentially, he fell suddenly on them, and
with a stick, which he had provided himself with, he began to belabour
them furiously, his wife specially. Alvar only received one good
stroke, for he managed to escape through the crowd as soon as he felt
the peasant's stick on his back.

"I swear I'll kill you, traitress!" exclaimed Bartolo, without ceasing
to chastise his wife.

"Woe is me, woe is me! this brute of a husband will kill me!" cried out
the peasant woman. "Is there no one to defend me against the savage?"

"You barbarian!" cried the surrounding people, "do not maltreat a
defenceless woman in such a way."

"I'll kill her, she is a jade!" replied Bartolo. And seizing his wife by
one arm, he went off, dragging her along and exclaiming--

"To Barbadillo, to Barbadillo! May Heaven's curse fall on cities!"

This incident had amused the impatient crowd for a short time; but, as
soon as it terminated, all turned their gazes again towards the hill on
which the Leon road was lost to view.

"If Don Alfonso learned that no banners would be hung out in his honour
until he takes the oath," said one of the bystanders, "he has certainly
stopped on his way to raise men to accompany him, and aid him in
imposing his will on the Castilians."

"What Don Alfonso has to do," replied another, "is to swear, if he can
do so with a good conscience; if not, he must only rest content with the
kingdom of Leon which he already possesses, for honourable men will not
be wanting to govern Castile, as in the time of the Judges."

"There is one thing certain, and that is, if Don Alfonso tries to put
down Castile by force, he engages in a bad business; and let him beware
lest he have neither one kingdom nor the other."

"God's anger! If the Cid raises his Green Standard and cries,
'Castilians! we are honourable, and he who governs us must also be
honourable; we shall have no king suspected of having shed his brother's
blood. Rise with me to defend the honour of our native land!' you will
then see how all Castile will spring up and seize on the kingdom of
Leon, and Don Alfonso will have to go and demand hospitality from the
Moors."

"I believe that he will not refuse to take the oath, for it is
impossible that he can have had any part in the death of Don Sancho. Don
Alfonso was always a good cavalier; he may have wanted prudence, he may
have lent his ears to evil councillors, he may have been weak, but
fratricide--I can't believe that."

"What I believe, and what all believe, is that he will reject the oath,
not on account of his conscience, but through pride; for, you see, the
great always resent having conditions imposed on them by their
inferiors."

"And especially when those conditions imply so infamous a suspicion as
fratricide. But listen! What cries are those which arise? Is Don Alfonso
approaching already? It must be, for all the people are crowding up on
the hill."

Indeed, a body of men had been seen on the eminence which bounded the
horizon, and on seeing them, the multitude became agitated, a prolonged
murmur arose, and the people who were scattered in all directions began
to make their way towards the main road. The strangers, who were in
reality Don Alfonso and about a hundred horsemen, who formed his escort,
were rapidly nearing Burgos. At last they came to the place where the
crowds were awaiting them, and which then accompanied them, moving on at
both sides of the road. They were about one hundred paces from the city,
when, at its gate, the Castilian nobles appeared, bearing the Standard
of Castile, veiled with black gauze. The nobles made a sign to Don
Alfonso to halt, which he and his followers did: Rodrigo Diaz then
advanced, and, having saluted, addressed Don Alfonso, not as a king but
as a cavalier.

"Don Alfonso!" he said to him, "you are heir to the kingdom of Castile,
and no person has any intention of disputing your rights. Castile is an
honourable land, which always venerated and defended its sovereigns; but
how can it venerate and defend them if it has not the fullest faith in
their honour? We have always, in Castile, looked upon you as good and
honourable; but now an infamous suspicion weighs upon you, and it is
necessary to destroy it before this country, always loyal, raises its
standards for you. You know already that the hand of an assassin
deprived your brother of life at the siege of Zamora; although your
antecedents justify you, circumstances cast upon you a terrible
suspicion, which never should rest on him who wears a crown and who is
called upon to rule an honourable and generous people. Well, then, in
order that Castile may love and respect you, in order that the world may
know that he who occupies the throne of Don Fernando the Great is worthy
to occupy it, you must swear in Santa Gadea, with your hand on the holy
Gospels, that you had no part in the death of Don Sancho."

Indignation had been colouring the visage of Don Alfonso whilst the Cid
was thus speaking, and all the spectators, except Rodrigo, were
trembling, seeing that he was about to burst out into anger.

"God's justice!" he then exclaimed, "who is it that dares to speak thus
to me? Who is it that dares to demand of me this shameful oath?"

"Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar!" answered the Cid, not with haughty insolence,
but respectfully and firmly.

"I would renounce, not only the kingdom of Castile, but even the empire
of the entire world, rather than submit to the humiliation which you
propose to me, Cid! Does any good cavalier suspect my loyalty to such a
degree that he can suppose me to be an accomplice in the death of my
brother? I cast in your face, and in the faces of all who think as you
do, the infamy with which you desire to sully me!"

"Sire," replied the Cid, "by refusing to take the oath you afford fresh
motives to those who suspect you"--

"Well, then," exclaimed Don Alfonso, interrupting Rodrigo, "let us get
on to the church. But woe to those who insult me! Woe to those who dare
to humiliate me, in a way that a king was never before humiliated!"

"After the oath," humbly replied Rodrigo, "you will be my king, and it
will be in your power to dispose of my life and of my property as it may
seem well to you; now, however, I willingly risk both in order to comply
with the dictates of my conscience and of my honour."

Castilians and Leonese then proceeded to the Church of Santa Gadea,
around the gates of which thronged the multitude, scarce able to repress
the admiration with which they were filled by the abnegation and heroic
firmness of the Cid.

He and Don Alfonso approached the altar, at the foot of which the prince
knelt down, placing his hand on the Book of the Evangelists, which
Rodrigo supported on his, whilst Don Diego Ordoñez de Lara held the
Standard of Castile at some distance, and all the nobles, wondering and
timorous at the same time, contemplated the imposing scene. The
populace, who crowded up to the entrance of the church, endeavouring to
see what was taking place within it, kept silence, anxious to hear the
oath of the prince, for whom, a moment after, they were about to raise
their standards.

"Don Alfonso," said the Cid in a loud voice, "do you swear, on the holy
Evangelists, that you had no part in the death of Don Sancho, your
brother?"

"Yes, I swear it!" answered Don Alfonso.

"If you swear truly, may you be always happy and prosperous on this
earth, and may you be safe from the torments of hell; but if your oath
is false, may rustics of the Asturias of Oviedo kill you, and not those
of Castile; may you die by shepherds' crooks and not by lances; may
those who kill you be such as wear coarse sandals, and ride on asses,
instead of mules or horses; may you meet your death in fields, and not
in towns or villages; may your heart be dragged out through your left
side; and may you descend to hell, to suffer there for ever!"

"Thus let it be," replied Don Alfonso, without, however, concealing the
irritation which the daring of the Cid caused him.

Rodrigo then placed the Book of the Evangelists upon the altar, and when
Don Alfonso arose, he bent his knee before him and kissed his hand; all
the nobles who were present imitated him.

Don Diego Ordoñez de Lara then pulled off the black gauze that had
veiled the Standard, and went out with it to the porch of the cathedral,
where he cried out three times--

"Castile for Don Alfonso!"

The populace repeated that cry with joy and enthusiasm, and in all
quarters of the city standards were raised and proclamations issued,
announcing that the throne of Castile was now occupied.

How different was the spectacle which Burgos offered on that day,
compared with that on the preceding one, when all was uncertainty as to
the future, sadness and mourning; now there were strong hopes of a
prosperous, peaceful, just, and powerful reign; for Castile would be a
large and powerful kingdom, as it had been in the time of Fernando the
Great, and not limited and surrounded by rival states, as it was under
Sancho II.

On account of that propitious event, the Castilian people were preparing
to give themselves up to joyous festivities; enemy was disposed to hold
out his hand to enemy, the rich to mitigate the hardships of the poor,
and the king to grant liberal gifts to both nobles and civilians.

The rainbow, rich with brilliant hues, showed itself after the storm,
and filled with gladness the souls of all the good Castilians.



CHAPTER XLVII

IN WHICH THIS BOOK ENDS, PROVING THAT GOD GIVES IN THIS WORLD, BOTH TO
THE GOOD AND TO THE BAD, A SAMPLE OF THE CLOTH WHICH THEY SHALL WEAR IN
THE OTHER WORLD


Some days have passed since the Castilian people raised their standards
for Don Alfonso VI.

It is the morning of St. John's Day. The sky is azure, and the stars
which sprinkled it are gradually disappearing, for the brightness which
precedes the rising sun is beginning to illumine the east; the breeze is
so gentle that the leaves of the trees, in which the birds sing,
scarcely stir, and the golden corn, amid which is heard the plaintive
cooing of the turtle-doves, is also motionless. That light breeze has,
however, sufficient force to extract the perfumes from the thyme and
hundreds of other herbs and flowers, and to bear them on its wings,
filling the air with sweetness. The white, misty clouds which veiled the
river Carrion, like a web of white and transparent gauze spread over the
plain, had entirely disappeared, and the morning light was reflected
from the tranquil surface of the stream, like the light of a lamp from a
string of diamonds. What a beautiful sight the banks of the Carrion
present! Here, the ripe corn, the colour of which shows that the golden
dreams of the labourers are realised; there, trees, the branches of
which are bent to the ground by the luscious fruits, as if they wished
to cheer the passer-by with their sweetness and perfume; farther on, a
meadow covered with flowers, the various colours of which are made still
more varied by the mild breeze, as it gently agitates them whilst
passing along; and finally, a hundred white villages scattered over the
plain, like flocks of pigeons which have alighted on the cornfields.
Singing is heard in all directions, and a thousand joyful cries fill the
air. Who are those that walk across the plain, singing and shouting? Are
they the young men and women of Carrion, going to gather vervain on the
banks of the river? How is it that, so early, white columns of smoke
arise from the houses scattered over the plain? How beautiful is St.
John's morning shortly after sunrise!

The sun ascends, shooting torrents of light upon the slopes and
inundating with splendour the plain of Carrion, already filled with
flowers and perfumes, and to the shouts and songs of the multitude are
united the peals of the bells of the town, in which some festival, much
above ordinary ones, is about to take place. But those bells which cheer
up the inhabitants of the town and of the plain are not those of the
Virgin of Belen, or those of Santa Maria del Camino; they are those of a
new church which rises to the east of the town, of a church which did
not exist on the night during which the count's castle was devoured by
the flames; the blackened walls of which, half-destroyed, rise on the
eminence which looks down on the town.

Immense crowds pour indeed across the plain from all quarters. Men and
women, people on foot and on horses, peasants and nobles. Let us listen
to the conversations of some of those who flock to that festival, the
object of which is still unknown to us.

"By the soul of Beelzebub, even at the battle of the Oca Mountains there
was not such a multitude as there is to-day on the plain of Carrion!"
exclaims a dark-complexioned man, who is amid a group of men and women,
standing on an eminence beside the Burgos road, looking down on the
plain.

By my life that man is Fernan, mounted on Overo, although just now he
does not carry the accoutrements of a squire! The woman who is at his
side, mounted on a donkey, is Mayor, and in the same group are other
persons, not unknown to us: for instance, Martin Vengador, Rui-Venablos,
and Beatrice, who are riding, the latter on an ass, like Mayor, and the
men on horses.

Let us listen to Fernan, who, to judge by the attention which the
bystanders are bestowing on him, must be intimately acquainted with
everything concerning those festivities.

"The tournament which is to take place on the plain of Carrion," he
says, "will be the most famous that has ever been seen or heard of in
Spain. They are going to celebrate, in magnificent style, the coronation
of Don Alfonso, as King of Castile and Leon."

"Can you tell me, friend," asked a bystander, "why Don Alfonso has taken
it into his head to have those famous festivities on the plain of
Carrion instead of in Leon or Burgos?"

"I will tell you, brother," replied Fernan; "as Carrion stands in the
centre of the two kingdoms, now united again, as in the time of Don
Fernando, and as the country is so beautiful and level, Don Alfonso has
desired to celebrate the festivities in a place to which it is an easy
journey for both Castilians and Leonese."

"And do you know who are to take part in the jousts?"

"The most noble cavaliers of Leon and Castile, and it is even said that
the king, Don Alfonso, will break a lance with De Lara, the Campeador,
and other distinguished cavaliers."

"Those festivities, then, will be worth seeing."

"Of course they will; there will be ring, wand, and other games, and
finally a passage-at-arms, which Guillen of the Standard will defend,
not alone to celebrate the coronation of Don Alfonso, but also to
celebrate his own marriage."

"And to whom is that youth going to be married?"

"This very day he marries the Infanta of Carrion, in the convent which
Doña Teresa built at her own expense for the nuns of San Zoil, who are
going to it to-day. She did that to repay the hospitality which she
received from them on the night that Guillen rescued her from the
burning castle. The Campeador and his wife, Doña Teresa, my lord and
lady, will give them away, and for that purpose they are in Carrion
since yesterday. Just listen how the bells of San Zoil are pealing! I
would lay a wager that at this very moment they are uniting for ever the
hero of the Standard with the Infanta."

"The marriage of Doña Teresa and Guillen must be great happiness for
them; people say that they love each other very much."

"Brother, there is one here--ay, more than one--who can speak with
certainty regarding such happiness. This honoured lady, who is beside me
on the donkey, and I have got married, for love only, a few days ago,
and also that brave youth and the young woman, over there, who are
talking so lovingly to each other."

"I wish joy to you all, for you must be happy when you love so
sincerely."

"We love each other, and are now well off, for the lords of Vivar, our
masters--may God bless and prosper them!--have given us very rich
gifts."

"It does not astonish me that the Campeador has been liberal to his
servitors, for Don Alfonso has given a good example to all. It is said
that the favours which the king has bestowed are enormous; and, being
so, I am surprised that he has not shown himself indulgent also towards
those lords whom Don Sancho exiled, by pardoning them and allowing them
to return."

"Far from doing that, he has taken their estates from them, in order to
bestow them on their next-of-kin; and he has imposed the penalty of
death on them if they should set foot in Castile or Leon. And, by my
soul, Don Alfonso has done well, for those counts deserve it richly. The
king has strong suspicions--and those also who are not kings--that those
accursed counts, and especially De Carrion, were the persons who paid
Bellido to assassinate the brave Don Sancho."

Those who were thus talking had now descended to the plain; they ceased
their conversation, for the crowds that were about them absorbed their
attention, presenting to them a thousand different scenes. A minute
afterwards they were amid the animated multitude, and joined in the
general rejoicings.

An hour after, King Alfonso, accompanied by Castilian and Leonese
nobles, arrived on the centre of the plain; the platforms which had been
erected, as if by magic, were occupied by a thousand noble and beautiful
women, and the games were commencing to the sounds of numerous musical
instruments, the sounds of which filled the air and increased the
enjoyment of all the spectators.

Whilst the plain, rich with light, harmony, flowers, and happiness,
offered such enchanting scenes to the sight, another scene, entirely
different, was being enacted in a wood filled with briars and ancient
chestnut trees, situated on the slope of one of the hills which bound
the plain, and at a short distance from the road.

About fifty men were in it, some tranquilly sleeping, stretched on the
grass, others viewing with delight the magnificent spectacle which was
offered by the plain, which from that point could be seen to its fullest
extent; and others still, under the spreading branches of the trees,
watching the approaches to the wood.

These men were bandits; they were Juan Centellos and his band, whom the
Salvadores were pursuing in vain; for they laughed at their efforts and
baffled them, sometimes by their cleverness and sometimes by means of
the money which they possessed, especially since they had sacked and
burned the Castle of Carrion.

Juan Centellos and another bandit, who seemed to be his second in
command, began to speak in a low voice, as soon as the former had sent
away a peasant, who, shortly before, had entered the wood and conversed
with Juan for a few minutes.

"Have we good news?" the lieutenant asked.

"The spy has indeed brought good news from Carrion," answered Centellos.
"The bird will soon fly into the net."

"How so, comrade? Tell me all about it."

"Don Suero has taken refuge in an ancient castle which he possesses in
Senra, a solitary valley in the Asturias, despairing of being able to
conquer his opponents there, and fearful of dying on the gallows if he
sets foot in Castile or Leon. It appears that, desirous of having
someone to amuse him in his solitude, he sent to seek out, by means of
Bellido, that wench whom we found in the castle, but did not kill, as we
did not wish to stain our hands with the blood of a woman; and this very
day Bellido is to pass along here with her."

"Anger of hell! what a fortunate day we shall have if that traitor, who
sold the band of the Vengador, falls into our hands! We also will
celebrate the coronation of Don Alfonso, and will not leave it
altogether to those down below on the plain."

"Bellido shall not escape us on this occasion, as he did on that night
some time ago. I once swore to hang him on the ramparts of the Castle of
Carrion, in which, through his vile treachery, so many of our comrades
perished; and if, as I hope, we capture him to-day, he shall appear
to-morrow as a scarecrow on the blackened walls of the burned edifice.
We must keep our eyes open, comrades, for I have been told that the
Salvadores are in this neighbourhood; doubtless to see to the safety of
all those who have come to take part in the festivities."

The officers of the band had got thus far in their conversation when
they were interrupted by a whistle, which was a perfect imitation of
that of a blackbird.

"People are approaching, and the lookouts are giving the signal," said
Juan Centellos; and he added, looking towards the road, "It is a man who
is carrying a woman behind him on his horse. May the demon carry me off
if it is not he of whom we are in search! To the road, to the road,
comrades!"

And Juan Centellos and some of his men took up their arms and hurried in
the direction of the road.

The man indeed whom they had seen was Bellido Dolfos and the woman he
was carrying behind him on the horse was Sancha, the daughter of the
blind lute-player, the mistress of Don Suero.

Bellido put spurs to his horse, but the bandits barred his way. He then
drew his sword, resolved to defend himself obstinately. Vain, however,
were all his endeavours, for in a few moments he was disarmed by the
bandits and dragged, together with Sancha, into the wood of chestnut
trees.

Bellido indeed deserved to suffer on earth all the tortures of hell, and
the wretched woman, who accompanied him, was not worthy of compassion,
for she had become degraded to that extent that she avoided her blind
father, who was seeking her all over the country; and it was she also
who had aided Don Suero and the Count of Cabra to allure the Cid and his
escort, when going to the Cortes of Leon, into the ambush, where, almost
by a miracle, their lives were preserved; notwithstanding all this, it
is repugnant to us to mention the cruelties of which they, especially
Bellido Dolfos, were the victims when they fell into the hands of the
bandits.

"Comrades," said Juan Centellos to the members of his band, "let this
woman go and bring the news to her noble lover; we shall take good care
of Bellido."

The bandits then seized on the traitor and dragged him to a very large
chestnut tree, the trunk of which was hollow, and into which a man could
enter through an aperture which was almost on a level with the ground.
They shoved him into the hollow trunk notwithstanding the furious
resistance which he made to avoid it; they then closed up the hole with
a large flat stone which they carried to it, and against this they
placed others, so that no man's strength, exerted from within, could
push them away.

It was but a short time since they had restored freedom to Sancha, when
the whistle of the blackbird was again heard, and those who were
watching the approaches to the wood, hastened to descend from the trees,
crying out--

"The Salvadores! the Salvadores are approaching!"

All the bandits made preparations to take to flight, for, indeed, a
large body of Salvadores was coming from the direction towards which
Sancha had gone.

"Let us kill Bellido before we go!" cried several, and they were about
to remove the stones which closed the entrance into the trunk of the
chestnut tree.

"Let no one touch those stones!" said Juan Centellos; and he added,
with a sinister smile, "I should like Bellido to get accustomed to fire
before he goes to hell."

He then applied a burning torch to the bushes and brambles which grew
round the chestnut tree, and cried--

"Now, comrades, let us get away!"

The bandits dispersed themselves through the wood, endeavouring to get
to the rear of the Salvadores, for in that direction the ground was more
broken and the trees closer together. The Salvadores were following the
principal body, composed of Juan Centellos and about twenty of his men.

"Comrades," said their chief to those bandits, halting on an eminence,
now almost safe from his pursuers, "through a foolish act we were near
falling into the hands of our enemies, for it was a great piece of
stupidity to let the companion of Bellido go free; it was she,
doubtless, who gave information to the Salvadores. But--justice of God!
Is it not she who is walking along the road down there?"

"Yes, yes, it is she!" cried all the bandits.

"My good crossbow," said Juan, descending towards the road, "aid my
revenge as thou hast always aided it!"

The leader of the bandits shot an arrow, and Sancha uttered a cry of
agony and fell, mortally wounded.

At the same time immense columns of smoke and flame arose from the wood,
and horrible cries, becoming weaker by degrees, were heard proceeding
from the place where the fire had commenced.

Those cries ceased altogether in a few minutes, and an hour after there
were neither chestnut trees, bushes, nor anything else left but heaps of
glowing ashes and a few calcined stones, where the bandits had enclosed
Bellido Dolfos in the hollow tree.

The following morning was as beautiful as that which had preceded it:
the sky was azure, the air was fall of perfumes, the birds were singing
in the trees, and everywhere were exhibited the animation and pleasure
of those who were returning from the festivities that had taken place at
Carrion.

The Cid, Ximena, the Infanta, Doña Teresa, Martin, Beatrice,
Rui-Venablos, Gonzalo, Alvar, and, last, Fernan and Mayor, were
travelling together along the road to Burgos; all joyful, all content,
all happy, except the two last-mentioned, who had had a serious
disagreement on that morning. Fernan, remembering the pretty girls whom
he had seen on the previous day at the festival, was bitterly lamenting
the tyranny of matrimony, which, among Christians, does not permit more
than one wife, when, according to his infallible calculations, two, at
least, should be allowed to each man. Those complaints and those
calculations naturally irritated Mayorica; Fernan cursed the
wrong-headedness and stupidity of women, of his wife especially, and the
quarrel ended in scratches and blows, Alvar receiving some of them as he
had endeavoured to pacify the combatants.

Some hours after they had left Carrion, on arriving at a cross-roads,
they heard the sounds of a lute, which an old man, seated by the
wayside, was playing, and, at the same time, was asking charity from the
passers-by.

The Cid and Ximena sent one of their servants to give alms to the
mendicant, and Guillen and Teresa did the same. The old man began, just
then, to sing a ballad which commenced thus--


  "Cavaliers of Leon,
  Castilian cavaliers!
  Haughty with the strong,
  But gentle with the weak."


"By St. James of Compostela!" exclaimed the Cid, pulling up Babieca when
he heard those lines. "It is the old man who, in the name of God, told
me on the road to Zamora that I should conquer in all my battles, and
that my honour and my prosperity would ever increase."

The blind man continued his ballad, calling for vengeance on him who had
stolen his daughter.

"You have already been avenged!" said solemnly some of the listeners,
amongst whom was Rui-Venablos, for all of them knew of the tragic end of
Sancha, and of the unhappy life to which Don Suero Gonzalez was
condemned.

The Cid approached the mendicant and said to him--

"Old man, if the sword of a cavalier has not struck the head of the
Count of Carrion, the justice of God has sentenced him to misery, to
infamy, to loneliness, and to despair, which are worse than death. Your
daughter disowned you, and ceased thinking of you almost as soon as she
was separated from you; but she also has suffered the chastisement which
her crimes deserved. Do not weep for her: she merits oblivion and not
your curse. Have you not a family which will console your grief and
support your old age? Yes, you will find such in my castle. Get into one
of the litters, and come to share the happiness which smiles on the
lords of Vivar."

The old man then got into a litter, weeping with gratitude and joy, and
the travellers continued their way, all joyous, contented, and happy,
for even Fernan and Mayor were beginning to make peace.


THE END.


M. H. GILL AND SON, DUBLIN.





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