The idea of thus making booty at the very gates of Guadix pleased the hot-spirited youths. These predatory excursions were frequent about this time, and the Moors of Padul, Alhenden, and other towns of the Alpuxarras had recently harassed the Christian territories by expeditions of the kind. Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva soon found other young cavaliers of their age eager to join in the adventure, and in a little while they had nearly three hundred horse and two hundred foot ready equipped and eager for the foray.
Keeping their destination secret, they sallied out of the camp on the edge of an evening, and, guided by the adalid, made their way by starlight through the most secret roads of the mountains. In this way they pressed on rapidly day and night, until early one morning, before cock-crowing, they fell suddenly upon the hamlets, made prisoners of the inhabitants, sacked the houses, ravaged the fields, and, sweeping through the meadows, gathered together all the flocks and herds. Without giving themselves time to rest, they set out upon their return, making with all speed for the mountains before the alarm should be given and the country roused.
Several of the herdsmen, however, had fled to Guadix, and carried tidings of the ravage to El Zagal. The beard of old Muley trembled with rage: he immediately sent out six hundred of his choicest horse and foot, with orders to recover the booty and to bring those insolent marauders captive to Guadix.
The Christian cavaliers were urging their cavalgada of cattle and sheep up a mountain as fast as their own weariness would permit, when, looking back, they beheld a great cloud of dust, and presently descried the turbaned host hot upon their traces.
They saw that the Moors were superior in number; they were fresh also, both man and steed, whereas both they and their horses were fatigued by two days and two nights of hard marching. Several of the horsemen therefore gathered round the commanders and proposed that they should relinquish their spoil and save themselves by flight. The captains, Francisco de Bazan and Antonio de Cueva, spurned at such craven counsel. "What?" cried they, "abandon, our prey without striking a blow? Leave our foot-soldiers too in the lurch, to be overwhelmed by the enemy? If any one gives such counsel through fear, he mistakes the course of safety, for there is less danger in presenting a bold front to the foe than in turning a dastard back, and fewer men are killed in a brave advance than in a cowardly retreat."
Some of the cavaliers were touched by these words, and declared that they would stand by the foot-soldiers like true companions-in-arms: the great mass of the party, however, were volunteers, brought
together by chance, who received no pay nor had any common tie to keep them together in time of danger. The pleasure of the expedition being over, each thought but of his own safety, regardless of his companions. As the enemy approached the tumult of opinions increased and everything was in confusion. The captains, to put an end to the dispute, ordered the standard-bearer to advance against the Moors, well knowing that no true cavalier would hesitate to follow and defend his banner. The standard-bearer hesitated: the troops were on the point of taking to flight.
Upon this a cavalier of the royal guards rode to the front. It was Hernan Perez del Pulgar, alcayde of the fortress of Salar, the same dauntless ambassador who once bore to the turbulent people of Malaga the king's summons to surrender. Taking off a handkerchief which he wore round his head after the Andalusian fashion, he tied it to the end of a lance and elevated it in the air. "Cavaliers," cried he, "why do ye take weapons in your hands if you depend upon your feet for safety? This day will determine who is the brave man and who the coward. He who is disposed to fight shall not want a standard: let him follow this handkerchief." So saying, he waved his banner and spurred bravely against the Moors. His example shamed some and filled others with generous emulation: all turned with one accord, and, following Pulgar, rushed with shouts upon the enemy. The Moors scarcely waited to receive the shock of their encounter. Seized with a panic, they took to flight, and were pursued for a considerable distance with great slaughter. Three hundred of their dead strewed the road, and were stripped and despoiled by the conquerors; many were taken prisoners, and the Christian cavaliers returned in triumph to the camp with a long cavalgada of sheep and cattle and mules laden with booty, and bearing before them the singular standard which had conducted them to victory.