behind them tittered. The queen, she thought, but it didn’t


At length, to bring the siege to a conclusion, Francisco Ramirez elevated some of the heaviest artillery on a mount that rose in form of a cone or pyramid on the side of the river near to Albahar and commanded both castles. This was an operation of great skill and excessive labor, but it was repaid by complete success, for the Moors did not dare to wait until this terrible battery should discharge its fury. Satisfied that all further resistance was in vain, the valiant alcayde made signal for a parley. The articles of capitulation were soon arranged. The alcayde and his garrisons were permitted to return in safety to the city of Granada, and the castles were delivered into the possession of King Ferdinand on the day of the festival of St. Matthew in the month of September. They were immediately repaired, strongly garrisoned, and delivered in charge to the city of Jaen.

behind them tittered. The queen, she thought, but it didn’t

The effects of this triumph were immediately apparent. Quiet and security once more settled upon the bishopric. The husbandmen tilled their fields in peace, the herds and flocks fattened unmolested in the pastures, and the vineyards yielded corpulent skinsful of rosy wine. The good bishop enjoyed in the gratitude of his people the approbation of his conscience, the increase of his revenues, and the abundance of his table a reward for all his toils and perils. "This glorious victory," exclaims Fray Antonio Agapida, "achieved by such extraordinary management and infinite labor, is a shining example of what a bishop can effect for the promotion of the faith and the good of his diocese."

behind them tittered. The queen, she thought, but it didn’t


behind them tittered. The queen, she thought, but it didn’t

While these events were taking place on the northern frontier of the kingdom of Granada the important fortress of Alhama was neglected, and its commander, Don Gutiere de Padilla, clavero of Calatrava, reduced to great perplexity. The remnant of the foraging party which had been surprised and massacred by El Zagal when on his way to Granada to receive the crown had returned in confusion and dismay to the fortress. They could only speak of their own disgrace, being obliged to abandon their cavalgada and fly, pursued by a superior force: of the flower of their party, the gallant knights of Calatrava, who had remained behind in the valley, they knew nothing. A few days cleared up the mystery of their fate: tidings were brought that their bloody heads had been borne in triumph into Granada. The surviving knights of Calatrava, who formed a part of the garrison, burned to revenge the death of their comrades and to wipe out the stigma of this defeat; but the clavero had been rendered cautious by disaster--he resisted all their entreaties for a foray. His garrison was weakened by the loss of so many of its bravest men; the Vega was patrolled by numerous and powerful squadrons sent forth by El Zagal; above all, the movements of the garrison were watched by the warriors of Zalea, a strong town only two leagues distant on the road toward Loxa. This place was a continual check upon Alhama when in its most powerful state, placing ambuscades to entrap the Christian cavaliers in the course of their sallies. Frequent and bloody skirmishes had taken place in consequence; and the troops of Alhama, when returning from their forays, had often to fight their way back through the squadrons of Zalea. Thus surrounded by dangers, Don Gutiere de Padilla restrained the eagerness of his troops for a sally, knowing that an additional disaster might be followed by the loss of Alhama.

In the mean while provisions began to grow scarce; they were unable to forage the country as usual for supplies, and depended for relief upon the Castilian sovereigns. The defeat of the count de Cabra filled the measure of their perplexities, as it interrupted the intended reinforcements and supplies. To such extremity were they reduced that they were compelled to kill some of their horses for provisions.

The worthy clavero, Don Gutiere de Padilla, was pondering one day on this gloomy state of affairs when a Moor was brought before him who had surrendered himself at the gate of Alhama and claimed an audience. Don Gutiere was accustomed to visits of the kind from renegado Moors, who roamed the country as spies and adalides, but the countenance of this man was quite unknown to him. He had a box strapped to his shoulders containing divers articles of traffic, and appeared to be one of those itinerant traders who often resorted to Alhama and the other garrison towns under pretext of vending trivial merchandise, such as amulets, perfumes, and trinkets, but who often produced rich shawls, golden chains and necklaces, and valuable gems and jewels.

The Moor requested a private conference with the clavero. "I have a precious jewel," said he, "to dispose of."

"I want no jewels," replied Don Gutiere.

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