Hamet rolled a dark and searching eye upon the assembly. "Who," said he, "is loyal and devoted to Muley Abdallah el Zagal?" Every one present asserted his loyalty. "Good!" said Hamet; "and who is ready to prove his devotion to his sovereign by defending this his important city to the last extremity?" Every one present declared his readiness. "Enough!" observed Hamet. "The alcayde Aben Comixa has proved himself a traitor to his sovereign and to you all, for he has conspired to deliver the place to the Christians. It behooves you to choose some other commander capable of defending your city against the approaching enemy." The assembly declared unanimously that no one was so worthy of the command as himself. So Hamet was appointed alcayde of Malaga, and immediately proceeded to man the forts and towers with his partisans and to make every preparation for a desperate resistance.
Intelligence of these occurrences put an end to the negotiations between King Ferdinand and the superseded alcayde Aben Comixa, and it was supposed there was no alternative but to lay siege to the place. The marques of Cadiz, however, found at Velez a Moorish cavalier of some note, a native of Malaga, who offered to tamper with Hamet el Zegri for the surrender of the city, or at least of the castle of Gibralfaro. The marques communicated this to the king. "I put this business and the key of my treasury into your hands," said Ferdinand; "act, stipulate, and disburse in my name as you think proper."
The marques armed the Moor with his own lance, cuirass, and target and mounted him on one of his own horses. He equipped in similar style also another Moor, his companion and relative. They bore secret letters to Hamet from the marques offering him the town of Coin in perpetual inheritance and four thousand doblas in gold if he would deliver up Gibralfaro, together with a farm and two thousand doblas for his lieutenant, Ibrahim Zenete, and large sums to be distributed among his officers and soldiers; and he offered unlimited rewards for the surrender of the city.
Hamet had a warrior's admiration of the marques of Cadiz, and received his messengers with courtesy in his fortress of Gibralfaro. He even listened to their propositions with patience, and dismissed them in safety, though with an absolute refusal. The marques thought his reply was not so peremptory as to discourage another effort. The emissaries were despatched, therefore, a second time, with further propositions. They approached Malaga in the night, but found the guards doubled, patrols abroad, and the whole place on the alert. They were discovered, pursued, and only saved themselves by the fleetness of their steeds and their knowledge of the passes of the mountains.*
*Cura de los Palacios, MS., c. 82.
Finding all attempts to tamper with the faith of Hamet utterly futile, King Ferdinand publicly summoned the city to surrender, offering the most favorable terms in case of immediate compliance, but threatening captivity to all the inhabitants in case of resistance.
It required a man of nerve to undertake the delivery of such a summons in the present heated and turbulent state of the Moorish community. Such a one stepped forward in the person of a cavalier of the royal guards, Hernan Perez del Pulgar by name, a youth of noble descent, who had already signalized himself by his romantic valor and daring enterprise. Furnished with official papers for Hamet el Zegri and a private letter from the king to Ali Dordux, he entered the gates of Malaga under the protection of a flag, and boldly delivered his summons in presence of the principal inhabitants. The language of the summons or the tone in which it was delivered exasperated the fiery spirit of the Moors, and it required all the energy of Hamet and the influence of several of the alfaquis to prevent an outrage to the person of the ambassador. The reply of Hamet was haughty and decided. "The city of Malaga has been confided to me," said he--"not to be surrendered, but defended, and the king shall witness how I acquit myself of my charge."*
His mission at an end, Hernan del Pulgar rode slowly and deliberately through the city, utterly regardless of the scowls and menaces and scarcely restrained turbulence of the multitude, and bore to Ferdinand at Velez the haughty answer of the Moor, but at the same time gave him a formidable account of the force of the garrison, the strength of the fortifications, and the determined spirit of the commander and his men. The king immediately sent orders to have the heavy artillery forwarded from Antiquera, and on the 7th of May marched with his army toward Malaga.