CONTINUATION OF THE SIEGE OF BAZA.
The Moorish king, El Zagal, mounted a tower and looked out eagerly to enjoy the sight of the Christian marauders brought captive into the gates of Guadix, but his spirits fell when he beheld his own troops stealing back in the dusk of the evening in broken and dejected parties.
The fortune of war bore hard against the old monarch; his mind was harassed by disastrous tidings brought each day from Baza, of the sufferings of the inhabitants, and the numbers of the garrison slain in the frequent skirmishes. He dared not go in person to the relief of the place, for his presence was necessary in Guadix to keep a check upon his nephew in Granada. He sent reinforcements and supplies, but they were intercepted and either captured or driven back. Still, his situation was in some respects preferable to that of his nephew Boabdil. He was battling like a warrior on the last step of his throne; El Chico remained a kind of pensioned vassal in the luxurious abode of the Alhambra. The chivalrous part of the inhabitants of Granada could not but compare the generous stand made by the warriors of Baza for their country and their faith with their own time-serving submission to the yoke of an unbeliever. Every account they received of the woes of Baza wrung their hearts with agony; every account of the exploits of its devoted defenders brought blushes to their cheeks. Many stole forth secretly with their weapons and hastened to join the besieged, and the partisans of El Zagal wrought upon the patriotism and passions of the remainder until another of those conspiracies was formed that were continually menacing the unsteady throne of Granada. It was concerted by the conspirators to assail the Alhambra on a sudden, slay Boabdil, assemble the troops, and march to Guadix, where, being reinforced by the garrison of that place and led on by the old warrior monarch, they might fall with overwhelming power upon the Christian army before Baza.
Fortunately for Boabdil, he discovered the conspiracy in time, and the heads of the leaders were struck off and placed upon the walls of the Alhambra--an act of severity unusual with this mild and wavering monarch, which struck terror into the disaffected, and produced a kind of mute tranquillity throughout the city.
Ferdinand had full information of all the movements and measures for the relief of Baza, and took precautions to prevent them. Bodies of horsemen held watch in the mountain-passes to prevent supplies and intercept any generous volunteers from Granada, and watch-towers were erected or scouts placed on every commanding height to give the alarm at the least sign of a hostile turban.
The prince Cid Hiaya and his brave companions-in-arms were thus gradually walled up, as it were, from the rest of the world. A line of towers, the battlements of which bristled with troops, girded their city, and behind the intervening bulwarks and palisadoes passed and repassed continual squadrons of troops. Week after week and month after month passed away, but Ferdinand waited in vain for the garrison to be either terrified or starved into surrender. Every day they sallied forth with the spirit and alacrity of troops high fed and flushed with confidence. "The Christian monarch," said the veteran Mohammed Ibn Hassan, "builds his hopes upon our growing faint and desponding--we must manifest unusual cheerfulness and vigor. What would be rashness in other service becomes prudence with us." The prince Cid Hiaya agreed with him in opinion, and sallied forth with his troops upon all kinds of hare-brained exploits. They laid ambushes, concerted surprises, and made the most desperate assaults. The great extent of the Christian works rendered them weak in many parts: against these the Moors directed their attacks, suddenly breaking into them, making a hasty ravage, and bearing off their booty in triumph to the city. Sometimes they would sally forth by passes and clefts of the mountain in the rear of the city which it was difficult to guard, and, hurrying down into the plain, sweep off all cattle and sheep that were grazing near the suburbs and all stragglers from the camp.
These partisan sallies brought on many sharp and bloody encounters, in some of which Don Alonso de Aguilar and the alcayde de los Donceles distinguished themselves greatly. During one of these hot skirmishes, which happened on the skirts of the mountain about twilight, a cavalier named Martin Galindo beheld a powerful Moor dealing deadly blows about him and making great havoc among the Christians. Galindo pressed forward and challenged him to single combat. The Moor was not slow in answering the call.
Couching their lances, they rushed furiously upon each other. At the first shock the Moor was wounded in the face and borne out of his saddle. Before Galindo could check his steed and turn from his career the Moor sprang upon his feet, recovered his lance, and, rushing upon him, wounded him in the head and the arm. Though Galindo was on horseback and the Moor on foot, yet such was the prowess and address of the latter that the Christian knight, being disabled in the arm, was in the utmost peril when his comrades hastened to his assistance. At their approach the valiant pagan retreated slowly up the rocks, keeping them at bay until he found himself among his companions.