He produced also the lists of men capable of bearing arms. "The number," said he, "is great, but what can be expected from mere citizen soldiers? They vaunt and menace in time of safety; none are so arrogant when the enemy is at a distance; but when the din of war thunders at the gates they hide themselves in terror."
When Muza heard these words he rose with generous warmth. "What reason have we," said he, "to despair? The blood of those illustrious Moors, the conquerors of Spain, still flows in our veins. Let us be true to ourselves, and fortune will again be with us. We have a veteran force, both horse and foot, the flower of our chivalry, seasoned in war and scarred in a thousand battles. As to the multitude of our citizens, spoken of so slightly, why should we doubt their valor? There are twenty thousand young men, in the fire of youth, whom I will engage that in the defence of their homes they will rival the most valiant veterans. Do we want provisions? Our horses are fleet and our horsemen daring in the foray. Let them scour and scourge the country of those apostate Moslems who have surrendered to the Christians. Let them make inroads into the lands of our enemies. We shall soon see them returning with cavalgadas to our gates, and to a soldier there is no morsel so sweet as that wrested with hard fighting from the foe."
Boabdil, though he wanted firm and durable courage, was readily excited to sudden emotions of bravery. He caught a glow of resolution from the noble ardor of Muza. "Do what is needful," said he to his commanders; "into your hands I confide the common safety. You are the protectors of the kingdom, and, with the aid of Allah, will revenge the insults of our religion, the deaths of our friends and relations, and the sorrows and sufferings heaped upon our land."
To every one was now assigned his separate duty. The wazir had charge of the arms and provisions and the enrolling of the people. Muza was to command the cavalry, to defend the gates, and to take the lead in all sallies and skirmishings. Naim Reduan and Muhammed Aben Zayde were his adjutants. Abdel Kerim Zegri and the other captains were to guard the walls, and the alcaydes of the Alcazaba and of the Red Towers had command of the fortresses.
Nothing now was heard but the din of arms and the bustle of preparation. The Moorish spirit, quick to catch fire, was immediately in a flame, and the populace in the excitement of the moment set at naught the power of the Christians. Muza was in all parts of the city, infusing his own generous zeal into the bosoms of the soldiery. The young cavaliers rallied round him as their model; the veteran warriors regarded him with a soldier's admiration; the vulgar throng followed him with shouts; and the helpless part of the inhabitants, the old men and the women, hailed him with blessings as their protector.
On the first appearance of the Christian army the principal gates of the city had been closed and secured with bars and bolts and heavy chains: Muza now ordered them to be thrown open. "To me and my cavaliers," said he, "is entrusted the defence of the gates; our bodies shall be their barriers." He stationed at each gate a strong guard chosen from his bravest men. His horsemen were always completely armed and ready to mount at a moment's warning: their steeds stood saddled and caparisoned in the stables, with lance and buckler beside them. On the least approach of the enemy a squadron of horse gathered within the gate, ready to launch forth like the bolt from the thunder-cloud. Muza made no empty bravado nor haughty threat; he was more terrible in deeds than in words, and executed daring exploits beyond even the vaunt of the vainglorious. Such was the present champion of the Moors. Had they possessed many such warriors, or had Muza risen to power at an earlier period of the war, the fate of Granada might have been deferred, and the Moor for a long time have maintained his throne within the walls of the Alhambra.
HOW KING FERDINAND CONDUCTED THE SIEGE CAUTIOUSLY, AND HOW QUEEN ISABELLA ARRIVED AT THE CAMP.
Though Granada was shorn of its glories and nearly cut off from all external aid, still its mighty castles and massive bulwarks seemed to set all attack at defiance. Being the last retreat of Moorish power, it had assembled within its walls the remnants of the armies which had contended, step by step, with the invaders in their gradual conquest of the land. All that remained of high-born and high-bred chivalry was here; all that was loyal and patriotic was roused to activity by the common danger; and Granada, so long lulled into inaction by vain hopes of security, now assumed a formidable aspect in the hour of its despair.