The veteran was not to be dazzled by the splendid offers of the monarch: he had received exaggerated accounts of the damage done to the Christian camp by the late storm, and of the sufferings and discontents of the army in consequence of the transient interruption of supplies: he considered the overtures of Ferdinand as proofs of the desperate state of his affairs. "A little more patience, a little more patience," said the shrewd old warrior, "and we shall see this cloud of Christian locusts driven away before the winter storms. When they once turn their backs, it will be our turn to strike; and, with the help of Allah, the blow shall be decisive." He sent a firm though courteous refusal to the Castilian monarch, and in the mean time animated his companions to sally forth with more spirit than ever to attack the Spanish outposts and those laboring in the trenches. The consequence was a daily occurrence of daring and bloody skirmishes that cost the lives of many of the bravest and most adventurous cavaliers of either army.
In one of these sallies nearly three hundred horse and two thousand foot mounted the heights behind the city to capture the Christians who were employed upon the works. They came by surprise upon a body of guards, esquires of the count de Urena, killed some, put the rest to flight, and pursued them down the mountain until they came in sight of a small force under the count de Tendilla and Gonsalvo of Cordova. The Moors came rushing down with such fury that many of the men of the count de Tendilla took to flight. The count braced his buckler, grasped his trusty weapon, and stood his ground with his accustomed prowess. Gonsalvo of Cordova ranged himself by his side, and, marshalling the troops which remained with them, they made a valiant front to the Moors.
The infidels pressed them hard, and were gaining the advantage when Alonso de Aguilar, hearing of the danger of his brother Gonsalvo, flew to his assistance, accompanied by the count of Urena and a body of their troops. A fight ensued from cliff to cliff and glen to glen. The Moors were fewer in number, but excelled in the dexterity and lightness requisite for scrambling skirmishes. They were at length driven from their vantage-ground, and pursued by Alonso de Aguilar and his brother Gonsalvo to the very suburbs of the city, leaving many of their bravest men upon the field.
Such was one of innumerable rough encounters daily taking place, in which many brave cavaliers were slain without apparent benefit to either party. The Moors, notwithstanding repeated defeats and losses, continued to sally forth daily with astonishing spirit and vigor, and the obstinacy of their defence seemed to increase with their sufferings.
The prince Cid Hiaya was ever foremost in these sallies, but grew daily more despairing of success. All the money in the military chest was expended, and there was no longer wherewithal to pay the hired troops. Still, the veteran Mohammed undertook to provide for this emergency. Summoning the principal inhabitants, he represented the necessity of some exertion and sacrifice on their part to maintain the defence of the city. "The enemy," said he, "dreads the approach of winter, and our perseverance drives him to despair. A little longer, and he will leave you in quiet enjoyment of your homes and families. But our troops must be paid to keep them in good heart. Our money is exhausted and all our supplies are cut off. It is impossible to continue our defence without your aid."
Upon this the citizens consulted together, and collected all their vessels of gold and silver and brought them to Mohammed. "Take these," said they, "and coin or sell or pledge them for money wherewith to pay the troops." The women of Baza also were seized with generous emulation. "Shall we deck ourselves with gorgeous apparel," said they, "when our country is desolate and its defenders in want of bread?" So they took their collars and bracelets and anklets and other ornaments of gold, and all their jewels, and put them in the hands of the veteran alcayde. "Take these spoils of our vanity," said they, "and let them contribute to the defence of our homes and families. If Baza be delivered, we need no jewels to grace our rejoicing; and if Baza fall, of what avail are ornaments to the captive?"
By these contributions was Mohammed enabled to pay the soldiery and carry on the defence of the city with unabated spirit.
Tidings were speedily conveyed to King Ferdinand of this generous devotion on the part of the people of Baza, and the hopes which the Moorish commanders gave them that the Christian army would soon abandon the siege in despair. "They shall have a convincing proof of the fallacy of such hopes," said the politic monarch: so he wrote forthwith to Queen Isabella praying her to come to the camp in state, with all her train and retinue, and publicly to take up her residence there for the winter. By this means the Moors would be convinced of the settled determination of the sovereigns to persist in the siege until the city should surrender, and he trusted they would be brought to speedy capitulation.