The ruddy glare lit up the glens and passes, and fell strongly upon the Christian camp, revealing all its tents and every post and bulwark. Wherever El Zagal turned his eyes he beheld the light of his fires flashed back from cuirass and helm and sparkling lance; he beheld a grove of spears planted in every pass, every assailable point bristling with arms, and squadrons of horse and foot in battle array awaiting his attack.
In fact, his letter to the alcayde of Velez Malaga had been intercepted by the vigilant Ferdinand, the renegado messenger hanged, and secret measures taken after nightfall to give the Moors a warm reception. El Zagal saw that his plan of surprise was discovered and foiled; furious with disappointment, he ordered his troops forward to the attack. They rushed down the defile, but were again encountered by the mass of Christian warriors, being the advance guard of the army commanded by Don Hurtado de Mendoza, brother of the grand cardinal. The Moors were again repulsed, and retreated up the height. Don Hurtado would have followed them, but the ascent was steep and rugged and easily defended. A sharp action was kept up through the night with crossbows, darts, and arquebuses. The cliffs echoed with deafening uproar, while the fires blazing upon the mountains threw a lurid and uncertain light upon the scene.
When the day dawned and the Moors saw that there was no co- operation from the city, they slackened in their ardor: they beheld also every pass of the mountain filled with Christian troops, and began to apprehend an assault in return. Just then King Ferdinand sent the marques of Cadiz with horse and foot to seize upon a height occupied by a battalion of the enemy. The marques assailed the Moors with his usual intrepidity, and soon put them to flight. The others, who were above, seeing their comrades fly, threw down their arms and retreated. One of those unaccountable panics which now and then seize upon great bodies of people, and to which the light-spirited Moors were prone, now spread throughout the camp. They were terrified, they knew not why nor at what, and, throwing away swords, lances, breast-plates, crossbows, everything that could impede their motions, scattered themselves wildly in every direction. They fled without pursuers--from the glimpse of each other's arms, from the sound of each other's footsteps. Reduan de Vanegas, the brave alcayde of Granada, alone succeeded in collecting a body of the fugitives; he made a circuit with them through the passes of the mountain, and, forcing his way across a weak part of the Christian lines, galloped toward Velez Malaga. The rest of the Moorish host was completely scattered. In vain did El Zagal and his knights attempt to rally them; they were left almost alone, and had to consult their own security by flight.
The marques of Cadiz, finding no opposition, ascended from height to height, cautiously reconnoitring and fearful of some stratagem or ambush. All, however, was quiet. He reached with his men the place which the Moorish army had occupied: the heights were abandoned and strewed with cuirasses, scimetars, crossbows, and other weapons. His force was too small to pursue the enemy, but returned to the royal camp laden with spoils.
Ferdinand at first could not credit so signal and miraculous a defeat, but suspected some lurking stratagem. He ordered, therefore, that a strict watch should be maintained throughout the camp and every one be ready for instant action. The following night a thousand cavaliers and hidalgos kept guard about the royal tent, as they had done for several preceding nights; nor did the king relax this vigilance until he received certain intelligence that the enemy was completely scattered and El Zagal flying in confusion.
The tidings of this rout and of the safety of the Christian army arrived at Cordova just as reinforcements were on the point of setting out. The anxiety and alarm of the queen and the public were turned to transports of joy and gratitude. The forces were disbanded, solemn processions were made, and "Te Deums" chanted in the churches for so signal a victory.
HOW THE PEOPLE OF GRANADA REWARDED THE VALOR OF EL ZAGAL.
The daring spirit of Muley Abdallah el Zagal in sallying forth to defend his territories while he left an armed rival in his capital struck the people of Granada with admiration. They recalled his former exploits, and again anticipated some hardy achievement from his valor. Couriers from the army reported its formidable position on the height of Bentomiz. For a time there was a pause in the bloody commotions of the city; all attention was turned to the blow about to be struck at the Christian camp. The same considerations which diffused anxiety and terror through Cordova swelled every bosom with exulting confidence in Granada. The Moors expected to hear of another massacre like that in the mountains of Malaga. "El Zagal has again entrapped the enemy!" was the cry. "The power of the unbelievers is about to be struck to the heart. We shall soon see the Christian king led captive to the capital." Thus was the name of El Zagal on every tongue. He was extolled as the savior of the country, the only one worthy of wearing the Moorish crown. Boabdil was reviled as basely remaining passive while his country was invaded and so violent became the clamor of the populace that his adherents trembled for his safety.