Don Francisco summoned the alcaydes of his district to hasten with him to the relief of this important fortress. A number of cavaliers and their retainers answered to his call, among whom was Hernan Perez del Pulgar, surnamed "El de las hazanas" (He of the exploits)-- the same who had signalized himself in a foray by elevating a handkerchief on a lance for a banner and leading on his disheartened comrades to victory. As soon as Don Francisco beheld a little band collected round him, he set out with all speed for Salobrena. The march was rugged and severe, climbing and descending immense mountains, and sometimes winding along the edge of giddy precipices, with the surges of the sea raging far below. When Don Francisco arrived with his followers at the lofty promontory that stretches along one side of the little vega of Salobrena, he looked down with sorrow and anxiety upon a Moorish army of great force encamped at the foot of the fortress, while Moorish banners on various parts of the walls proved that the town was already in possession of the infidels. A solitary Christian standard alone floated on the top of the castle-keep, showing that the brave garrison were hemmed up in their rock-built citadel. They were, in fact, reduced to great extremity through want of water and provisions.
Don Francisco found it impossible, with his small force, to make any impression on the camp of the Moors or to get to the relief of the castle. He stationed his little band upon a rocky height near the sea, where they were safe from the assaults of the enemy. The sight of his friendly banner waving in their neighborhood cheered the heart of the garrison, and gave them assurance of speedy succor from the king, while the hostile menaces of Don Francisco served to check the attacks of the Moors upon the citadel.
In the mean time, Hernan Perez del Pulgar, who always burned to distinguish himself by bold and striking exploits, had discovered in the course of his prowlings a postern gate of the castle opening upon the steep part of the rocky hill looking toward the mountains. The thought occurred to him that by a bold dash at a favorable moment this postern might be attained and succor thrown into the castle. He pointed the place out to his comrades. "Who will follow my banner," said he, "and make a dash for yonder postern?" A bold proposition in time of warfare never wants for bold spirits to accept it. Seventy resolute men stepped forward to second him. Pulgar chose the early daybreak for his enterprise, when the Moors, just aroused from sleep, were changing guard and making the various arrangements of the morning. Favored by these movements and the drowsiness of the hour, Pulgar approached the Moorish line silently and steadily, most of his followers armed with crossbows and espingardas, or muskets. Then, suddenly making an onset, they broke through a weak part of the camp before the alarm had spread through the army, and succeeded in fighting their way up to the gate, which was eagerly thrown open to receive them.
The garrison, roused to new spirit by this unlooked-for reinforcement, was enabled to make a more vigorous resistance. The Moors, however, who knew there was a great scarcity of water in the castle, exulted in the idea that this additional number of warriors would soon exhaust the cisterns and compel a surrender. Pulgar, hearing of this hope, caused a bucket of water to be lowered from the battlements and threw a silver cup in bravado to the Moors.
The garrison, in truth, suffered intensely from thirst, while, to tantalize them in their sufferings, they beheld limpid streams winding in abundance through the green plain below them. They began to fear that all succor would arrive too late, when one day they beheld a little squadron of vessels far at sea, but standing toward the shore. There was some doubt at first whether it might not be a hostile armament from Africa, but as it approached they descried, to their great joy, the banner of Castile.
It was a reinforcement, brought in all haste by the governor of the fortress, Don Francisco Ramirez. The squadron anchored at a steep rocky island which rises from the very margin of the smooth sandy beach directly in front of the rock of Salobrena and stretches out into the sea. On this island Ramirez landed his men, and was as strongly posted as if in a fortress. His force was too scanty to attempt a battle, but he assisted to harass and distract the besiegers. Whenever King Boabdil made an attack upon the fortress his camp was assailed on one side by the troops of Ramirez, who landed from their island, and on another by those of Don Francisco Enriquez, who swept down from their rock, while Hernan del Pulgar kept up a brave defence from every tower and battlement of the castle.
The attention of the Moorish king was diverted also, for a time, by an ineffectual attempt to relieve the little port of Adra, which had recently declared in his favor, but which had been recaptured for the Christians by Cid Hiaya and his son Alnayar. Thus, the unlucky Boabdil, bewildered on every hand, lost all the advantage that he had gained by his rapid march from Granada. While he was yet besieging the obstinate citadel, tidings were brought him that King Ferdinand was in full march with a powerful host to its assistance. There was no time for further delay: he made a furious attack with all his forces upon the castle, but was again repulsed by Pulgar and his coadjutors, when, abandoning the siege in despair, he retreated with his army, lest King Ferdinand should get between him and his capital. On his way back to Granada, however, he in some sort consoled himself for his late disappointment by overrunning a part of the territories and possessions lately assigned to his uncle El Zagal and to Cid Hiaya. He defeated their alcaydes, destroyed several of their fortresses, burnt their villages, and, leaving the country behind him reeking and smoking with his vengeance, returned with considerable booty to repose himself within the walls of the Alhambra.*
*Pulgar, Cron., p. 3, c .131; Cura de los Palacios, cap. 97.