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.
ADVANCE OF KING FERDINAND AGAINST MALAGA.
The army of Ferdinand advanced in lengthened line, glittering along the foot of the mountains which border the Mediterranean, while a fleet of vessels, freighted with heavy artillery and warlike munitions, kept pace with it at a short distance from the land, covering the sea with a thousand gleaming sails. When Hamet el Zegri saw this force approaching, he set fire to the houses of the suburbs which adjoined the walls and sent forth three battalions to encounter the advance guard of the enemy.
The Christian army drew near to the city at that end where the castle and rocky height of Gibralfaro defended the seaboard. Immediately opposite, at about two bow-shots' distance, stood the castle, and between it and the high chain of mountains was a steep and rocky hill, at present called the hill of St. Christobal, commanding a pass through which the Christians must march to penetrate to the vega and surround the city. Hamet ordered the three battalions to take their stations--one on this hill, another in the pass near the castle, and a third on the side of the mountain near the sea.