"Is there nothing, then," said Queen Isabella, "that we can do to gratify thee, and to prove to thee our regard?"--"Yes," replied the Moor; "I have left behind me, in the towns and valleys which I have surrendered, many of my unhappy countrymen, with their wives and children, who cannot tear themselves from their native abodes. Give me your royal word that they shall be protected in the peaceable enjoyment of their religion and their homes."--"We promise it," said Isabella; "they shall dwell in peace and security. But for thyself-- what dost thou ask for thyself?"--"Nothing," replied Ali, "but permission to pass unmolested with my horses and effects into Africa."
The Castilian monarchs would fain have forced upon him gold and silver and superb horses richly caparisoned, not as rewards, but as marks of personal esteem; but Ali Aben Fahar declined all presents and distinctions, as if he thought it criminal to flourish individually during a time of public distress, and disdained all prosperity that seemed to grow out of the ruins of his country.
Having received a royal passport, he gathered together his horses and servants, his armor and weapons, and all his warlike effects, bade adieu to his weeping countrymen with a brow stamped with anguish, but without shedding a tear, and, mounting his Barbary steed, turned his back upon the delightful valleys of his conquered country, departing on his lonely way to seek a soldier's fortune amidst the burning sands of Africa.
*Pulgar, part 3, cap. 124; Garibay, lib. 40, cap. 40; Cura de los Palacios.
SUBMISSION OF EL ZAGAL TO THE CASTILIAN SOVEREIGNS.
Evil tidings never fail by the way through lack of messengers: they are wafted on the wings of the wind, and it is as if the very birds of the air would bear them to the ear of the unfortunate. The old king El Zagal buried himself in the recesses of his castle to hide himself from the light of day, which no longer shone prosperously upon him, but every hour brought missives thundering at the gate with the tale of some new disaster. Fortress after fortress had laid its keys at the feet of the Christian sovereigns: strip after strip of warrior mountain and green fruitful valleys was torn from his domains and added to the territories of the conquerors. Scarcely a remnant remained to him, except a tract of the Alpuxarras and the noble cities of Guadix and Almeria. No one any longer stood in awe of the fierce old monarch; the terror of his frown had declined with his power. He had arrived at that state of adversity when a man's friends feel emboldened to tell him hard truths and to give him unpalatable advice, and when his spirit is bowed down to listen quietly if not meekly.
El Zagal was seated on his divan, his whole spirit absorbed in rumination on the transitory nature of human glory, when his kinsman and brother-in-law, the prince Cid Hiaya, was announced. That illustrious convert to the true faith and the interests of the conquerors of his country had hastened to Guadix with all the fervor of a new proselyte, eager to prove his zeal in the service of Heaven and the Castilian sovereigns by persuading the old monarch to abjure his faith and surrender his possessions.
Cid Hiaya still bore the guise of a Moslem, for his conversion was as yet a secret. The stern heart of El Zagal softened at beholding the face of a kinsman in this hour of adversity. He folded his cousin to his bosom, and gave thanks to Allah that amidst all his troubles he had still a friend and counsellor on whom he might rely.