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CHAPTER XLI

IN WHICH THE CAPTIVE STILL CONTINUES HIS ADVENTURES

Before fifteen days were over our renegade had already purchased
an excellent vessel with room for more than thirty persons; and to
make the transaction safe and lend a colour to it, he thought it
well to make, as he did, a voyage to a place called Shershel, twenty
leagues from Algiers on the Oran side, where there is an extensive
trade in dried figs. Two or three times he made this voyage in company
with the Tagarin already mentioned. The Moors of Aragon are called
Tagarins in Barbary, and those of Granada Mudejars; but in the Kingdom
of Fez they call the Mudejars Elches, and they are the people the king
chiefly employs in war. To proceed: every time he passed with his
vessel he anchored in a cove that was not two crossbow shots from
the garden where Zoraida was waiting; and there the renegade, together
with the two Moorish lads that rowed, used purposely to station
himself, either going through his prayers, or else practising as a
part what he meant to perform in earnest. And thus he would go to
Zoraida's garden and ask for fruit, which her father gave him, not
knowing him; but though, as he afterwards told me, he sought to
speak to Zoraida, and tell her who he was, and that by my orders he
was to take her to the land of the Christians, so that she might
feel satisfied and easy, he had never been able to do so; for the
Moorish women do not allow themselves to be seen by any Moor or
Turk, unless their husband or father bid them: with Christian captives
they permit freedom of intercourse and communication, even more than
might be considered proper. But for my part I should have been sorry
if he had spoken to her, for perhaps it might have alarmed her to find
her affairs talked of by renegades. But God, who ordered it otherwise,
afforded no opportunity for our renegade's well-meant purpose; and he,
seeing how safely he could go to Shershel and return, and anchor
when and how and where he liked, and that the Tagarin his partner
had no will but his, and that, now I was ransomed, all we wanted was
to find some Christians to row, told me to look out for any I should
he willing to take with me, over and above those who had been
ransomed, and to engage them for the next Friday, which he fixed
upon for our departure. On this I spoke to twelve Spaniards, all stout
rowers, and such as could most easily leave the city; but it was no
easy matter to find so many just then, because there were twenty ships
out on a cruise and they had taken all the rowers with them; and these
would not have been found were it not that their master remained at
home that summer without going to sea in order to finish a galliot
that he had upon the stocks. To these men I said nothing more than
that the next Friday in the evening they were to come out stealthily
one by one and hang about Hadji Morato's garden, waiting for me
there until I came. These directions I gave each one separately,
with orders that if they saw any other Christians there they were
not to say anything to them except that I had directed them to wait at
that spot.

This preliminary having been settled, another still more necessary
step had to be taken, which was to let Zoraida know how matters
stood that she might be prepared and forewarned, so as not to be taken
by surprise if we were suddenly to seize upon her before she thought
the Christians' vessel could have returned. I determined, therefore,
to go to the garden and try if I could speak to her; and the day
before my departure I went there under the pretence of gathering
herbs. The first person I met was her father, who addressed me in
the language that all over Barbary and even in Constantinople is the
medium between captives and Moors, and is neither Morisco nor
Castilian, nor of any other nation, but a mixture of all languages, by
means of which we can all understand one another. In this sort of
language, I say, he asked me what I wanted in his garden, and to
whom I belonged. I replied that I was a slave of the Arnaut Mami
(for I knew as a certainty that he was a very great friend of his),
and that I wanted some herbs to make a salad. He asked me then whether
I were on ransom or not, and what my master demanded for me. While
these questions and answers were proceeding, the fair Zoraida, who had
already perceived me some time before, came out of the house in the
garden, and as Moorish women are by no means particular about
letting themselves be seen by Christians, or, as I have said before,
at all coy, she had no hesitation in coming to where her father
stood with me; moreover her father, seeing her approaching slowly,
called to her to come. It would be beyond my power now to describe
to you the great beauty, the high-bred air, the brilliant attire of my
beloved Zoraida as she presented herself before my eyes. I will
content myself with saying that more pearls hung from her fair neck,
her ears, and her hair than she had hairs on her head. On her
ankles, which as is customary were bare, she had carcajes (for so
bracelets or anklets are called in Morisco) of the purest gold, set
with so many diamonds that she told me afterwards her father valued
them at ten thousand doubloons, and those she had on her wrists were
worth as much more. The pearls were in profusion and very fine, for
the highest display and adornment of the Moorish women is decking
themselves with rich pearls and seed-pearls; and of these there are
therefore more among the Moors than among any other people.
Zoraida's father had to the reputation of possessing a great number,
and the purest in all Algiers, and of possessing also more than two
hundred thousand Spanish crowns; and she, who is now mistress of me
only, was mistress of all this. Whether thus adorned she would have
been beautiful or not, and what she must have been in her
prosperity, may be imagined from the beauty remaining to her after
so many hardships; for, as everyone knows, the beauty of some women
has its times and its seasons, and is increased or diminished by
chance causes; and naturally the emotions of the mind will heighten or
impair it, though indeed more frequently they totally destroy it. In a
word she presented herself before me that day attired with the
utmost splendour, and supremely beautiful; at any rate, she seemed
to me the most beautiful object I had ever seen; and when, besides,
I thought of all I owed to her I felt as though I had before me some
heavenly being come to earth to bring me relief and happiness.

As she approached her father told her in his own language that I was
a captive belonging to his friend the Arnaut Mami, and that I had come
for salad.

She took up the conversation, and in that mixture of tongues I
have spoken of she asked me if I was a gentleman, and why I was not
ransomed.

I answered that I was already ransomed, and that by the price it
might be seen what value my master set on me, as I had given one
thousand five hundred zoltanis for me; to which she replied, "Hadst
thou been my father's, I can tell thee, I would not have let him
part with thee for twice as much, for you Christians always tell
lies about yourselves and make yourselves out poor to cheat the
Moors."

"That may be, lady," said I; "but indeed I dealt truthfully with
my master, as I do and mean to do with everybody in the world."

"And when dost thou go?" said Zoraida.

"To-morrow, I think," said I, "for there is a vessel here from
France which sails to-morrow, and I think I shall go in her."

"Would it not be better," said Zoraida, "to wait for the arrival
of ships from Spain and go with them and not with the French who are
not your friends?"

"No," said I; "though if there were intelligence that a vessel
were now coming from Spain it is true I might, perhaps, wait for it;
however, it is more likely I shall depart to-morrow, for the longing I
feel to return to my country and to those I love is so great that it
will not allow me to wait for another opportunity, however more
convenient, if it be delayed."

"No doubt thou art married in thine own country," said Zoraida, "and
for that reason thou art anxious to go and see thy wife."

"I am not married," I replied, "but I have given my promise to marry
on my arrival there."

"And is the lady beautiful to whom thou hast given it?" said
Zoraida.

"So beautiful," said I, "that, to describe her worthily and tell
thee the truth, she is very like thee."

At this her father laughed very heartily and said, "By Allah,
Christian, she must be very beautiful if she is like my daughter,
who is the most beautiful woman in all this kingdom: only look at
her well and thou wilt see I am telling the truth."

Zoraida's father as the better linguist helped to interpret most
of these words and phrases, for though she spoke the bastard language,
that, as I have said, is employed there, she expressed her meaning
more by signs than by words.

While we were still engaged in this conversation, a Moor came
running up, exclaiming that four Turks had leaped over the fence or
wall of the garden, and were gathering the fruit though it was not yet
ripe. The old man was alarmed and Zoraida too, for the Moors commonly,
and, so to speak, instinctively have a dread of the Turks, but
particularly of the soldiers, who are so insolent and domineering to
the Moors who are under their power that they treat them worse than if
they were their slaves. Her father said to Zoraida, "Daughter,
retire into the house and shut thyself in while I go and speak to
these dogs; and thou, Christian, pick thy herbs, and go in peace,
and Allah bring thee safe to thy own country."

I bowed, and he went away to look for the Turks, leaving me alone
with Zoraida, who made as if she were about to retire as her father
bade her; but the moment he was concealed by the trees of the
garden, turning to me with her eyes full of tears she said, Tameji,
cristiano, tameji?" that is to say, "Art thou going, Christian, art
thou going?"

I made answer, "Yes, lady, but not without thee, come what may: be
on the watch for me on the next Juma, and be not alarmed when thou
seest us; for most surely we shall go to the land of the Christians."

This I said in such a way that she understood perfectly all that
passed between us, and throwing her arm round my neck she began with
feeble steps to move towards the house; but as fate would have it (and
it might have been very unfortunate if Heaven had not otherwise
ordered it), just as we were moving on in the manner and position I
have described, with her arm round my neck, her father, as he returned
after having sent away the Turks, saw how we were walking and we
perceived that he saw us; but Zoraida, ready and quickwitted, took
care not to remove her arm from my neck, but on the contrary drew
closer to me and laid her head on my breast, bending her knees a
little and showing all the signs and tokens of ainting, while I at the
same time made it seem as though I were supporting her against my
will. Her father came running up to where we were, and seeing his
daughter in this state asked what was the matter with her; she,
however, giving no answer, he said, "No doubt she has fainted in alarm
at the entrance of those dogs," and taking her from mine he drew her
to his own breast, while she sighing, her eyes still wet with tears,
said again, "Ameji, cristiano, ameji"- "Go, Christian, go." To this
her father replied, "There is no need, daughter, for the Christian
to go, for he has done thee no harm, and the Turks have now gone; feel
no alarm, there is nothing to hurt thee, for as I say, the Turks at my
request have gone back the way they came."

"It was they who terrified her, as thou hast said, senor," said I to
her father; "but since she tells me to go, I have no wish to displease
her: peace be with thee, and with thy leave I will come back to this
garden for herbs if need be, for my master says there are nowhere
better herbs for salad then here."

"Come back for any thou hast need of," replied Hadji Morato; "for my
daughter does not speak thus because she is displeased with thee or
any Christian: she only meant that the Turks should go, not thou; or
that it was time for thee to look for thy herbs."

With this I at once took my leave of both; and she, looking as
though her heart were breaking, retired with her father. While
pretending to look for herbs I made the round of the garden at my
ease, and studied carefully all the approaches and outlets, and the
fastenings of the house and everything that could be taken advantage
of to make our task easy. Having done so I went and gave an account of
all that had taken place to the renegade and my comrades, and looked
forward with impatience to the hour when, all fear at an end, I should
find myself in possession of the prize which fortune held out to me in
the fair and lovely Zoraida. The time passed at length, and the
appointed day we so longed for arrived; and, all following out the
arrangement and plan which, after careful consideration and many a
long discussion, we had decided upon, we succeeded as fully as we
could have wished; for on the Friday following the day upon which I
spoke to Zoraida in the garden, the renegade anchored his vessel at
nightfall almost opposite the spot where she was. The Christians who
were to row were ready and in hiding in different places round
about, all waiting for me, anxious and elated, and eager to attack the
vessel they had before their eyes; for they did not know the
renegade's plan, but expected that they were to gain their liberty
by force of arms and by killing the Moors who were on board the
vessel. As soon, then, as I and my comrades made our appearance, all
those that were in hiding seeing us came and joined us. It was now the
time when the city gates are shut, and there was no one to be seen
in all the space outside. When we were collected together we debated
whether it would be better first to go for Zoraida, or to make
prisoners of the Moorish rowers who rowed in the vessel; but while
we were still uncertain our renegade came up asking us what kept us,
as it was now the time, and all the Moors were off their guard and
most of them asleep. We told him why we hesitated, but he said it
was of more importance first to secure the vessel, which could be done
with the greatest ease and without any danger, and then we could go
for Zoraida. We all approved of what he said, and so without further
delay, guided by him we made for the vessel, and he leaping on board
first, drew his cutlass and said in Morisco, "Let no one stir from
this if he does not want it to cost him his life." By this almost
all the Christians were on board, and the Moors, who were
fainthearted, hearing their captain speak in this way, were cowed, and
without any one of them taking to his arms (and indeed they had few or
hardly any) they submitted without saying a word to be bound by the
Christians, who quickly secured them, threatening them that if they
raised any kind of outcry they would be all put to the sword. This
having been accomplished, and half of our party being left to keep
guard over them, the rest of us, again taking the renegade as our
guide, hastened towards Hadji Morato's garden, and as good luck
would have it, on trying the gate it opened as easily as if it had not
been locked; and so, quite quietly and in silence, we reached the
house without being perceived by anybody. The lovely Zoraida was
watching for us at a window, and as soon as she perceived that there
were people there, she asked in a low voice if we were "Nizarani,"
as much as to say or ask if we were Christians. I answered that we
were, and begged her to come down. As soon as she recognised me she
did not delay an instant, but without answering a word came down
immediately, opened the door and presented herself before us all, so
beautiful and so richly attired that I cannot attempt to describe her.
The moment I saw her I took her hand and kissed it, and the renegade
and my two comrades did the same; and the rest, who knew nothing of
the circumstances, did as they saw us do, for it only seemed as if
we were returning thanks to her, and recognising her as the giver of
our liberty. The renegade asked her in the Morisco language if her
father was in the house. She replied that he was and that he was
asleep.

"Then it will be necessary to waken him and take him with us,"
said the renegade, "and everything of value in this fair mansion."

"Nay," said she, "my father must not on any account be touched,
and there is nothing in the house except what I shall take, and that
will be quite enough to enrich and satisfy all of you; wait a little
and you shall see," and so saying she went in, telling us she would
return immediately and bidding us keep quiet making any noise.

I asked the renegade what had passed between them, and when he
told me, I declared that nothing should be done except in accordance
with the wishes of Zoraida, who now came back with a little trunk so
full of gold crowns that she could scarcely carry it. Unfortunately
her father awoke while this was going on, and hearing a noise in the
garden, came to the window, and at once perceiving that all those
who were there were Christians, raising a prodigiously loud outcry, he
began to call out in Arabic, "Christians, Christians! thieves,
thieves!" by which cries we were all thrown into the greatest fear and
embarrassment; but the renegade seeing the danger we were in and how
important it was for him to effect his purpose before we were heard,
mounted with the utmost quickness to where Hadji Morato was, and
with him went some of our party; I, however, did not dare to leave
Zoraida, who had fallen almost fainting in my arms. To be brief, those
who had gone upstairs acted so promptly that in an instant they came
down, carrying Hadji Morato with his hands bound and a napkin tied
over his mouth, which prevented him from uttering a word, warning
him at the same time that to attempt to speak would cost him his life.
When his daughter caught sight of him she covered her eyes so as not
to see him, and her father was horror-stricken, not knowing how
willingly she had placed herself in our hands. But it was now most
essential for us to be on the move, and carefully and quickly we
regained the vessel, where those who had remained on board were
waiting for us in apprehension of some mishap having befallen us. It
was barely two hours after night set in when we were all on board
the vessel, where the cords were removed from the hands of Zoraida's
father, and the napkin from his mouth; but the renegade once more told
him not to utter a word, or they would take his life. He, when he
saw his daughter there, began to sigh piteously, and still more when
he perceived that I held her closely embraced and that she lay quiet
without resisting or complaining, or showing any reluctance;
nevertheless he remained silent lest they should carry into effect the
repeated threats the renegade had addressed to him.

Finding herself now on board, and that we were about to give way
with the oars, Zoraida, seeing her father there, and the other Moors
bound, bade the renegade ask me to do her the favour of releasing
the Moors and setting her father at liberty, for she would rather
drown herself in the sea than suffer a father that had loved her so
dearly to be carried away captive before her eyes and on her
account. The renegade repeated this to me, and I replied that I was
very willing to do so; but he replied that it was not advisable,
because if they were left there they would at once raise the country
and stir up the city, and lead to the despatch of swift cruisers in
pursuit, and our being taken, by sea or land, without any
possibility of escape; and that all that could be done was to set them
free on the first Christian ground we reached. On this point we all
agreed; and Zoraida, to whom it was explained, together with the
reasons that prevented us from doing at once what she desired, was
satisfied likewise; and then in glad silence and with cheerful
alacrity each of our stout rowers took his oar, and commending
ourselves to God with all our hearts, we began to shape our course for
the island of Majorca, the nearest Christian land. Owing, however,
to the Tramontana rising a little, and the sea growing somewhat rough,
it was impossible for us to keep a straight course for Majorca, and we
were compelled to coast in the direction of Oran, not without great
uneasiness on our part lest we should be observed from the town of
Shershel, which lies on that coast, not more than sixty miles from
Algiers. Moreover we were afraid of meeting on that course one of
the galliots that usually come with goods from Tetuan; although each
of us for himself and all of us together felt confident that, if we
were to meet a merchant galliot, so that it were not a cruiser, not
only should we not be lost, but that we should take a vessel in
which we could more safely accomplish our voyage. As we pursued our
course Zoraida kept her head between my hands so as not to see her
father, and I felt that she was praying to Lela Marien to help us.

We might have made about thirty miles when daybreak found us some
three musket-shots off the land, which seemed to us deserted, and
without anyone to see us. For all that, however, by hard rowing we put
out a little to sea, for it was now somewhat calmer, and having gained
about two leagues the word was given to row by batches, while we ate
something, for the vessel was well provided; but the rowers said it
was not a time to take any rest; let food be served out to those who
were not rowing, but they would not leave their oars on any account.
This was done, but now a stiff breeze began to blow, which obliged
us to leave off rowing and make sail at once and steer for Oran, as it
was impossible to make any other course. All this was done very
promptly, and under sail we ran more than eight miles an hour
without any fear, except that of coming across some vessel out on a
roving expedition. We gave the Moorish rowers some food, and the
renegade comforted them by telling them that they were not held as
captives, as we should set them free on the first opportunity.

The same was said to Zoraida's father, who replied, "Anything
else, Christian, I might hope for or think likely from your generosity
and good behaviour, but do not think me so simple as to imagine you
will give me my liberty; for you would have never exposed yourselves
to the danger of depriving me of it only to restore it to me so
generously, especially as you know who I am and the sum you may expect
to receive on restoring it; and if you will only name that, I here
offer you all you require for myself and for my unhappy daughter
there; or else for her alone, for she is the greatest and most
precious part of my soul."

As he said this he began to weep so bitterly that he filled us all
with compassion and forced Zoraida to look at him, and when she saw
him weeping she was so moved that she rose from my feet and ran to
throw her arms round him, and pressing her face to his, they both gave
way to such an outburst of tears that several of us were constrained
to keep them company.

But when her father saw her in full dress and with all her jewels
about her, he said to her in his own language, "What means this, my
daughter? Last night, before this terrible misfortune in which we
are plunged befell us, I saw thee in thy everyday and indoor garments;
and now, without having had time to attire thyself, and without my
bringing thee any joyful tidings to furnish an occasion for adorning
and bedecking thyself, I see thee arrayed in the finest attire it
would be in my power to give thee when fortune was most kind to us.
Answer me this; for it causes me greater anxiety and surprise than
even this misfortune itself."

The renegade interpreted to us what the Moor said to his daughter;
she, however, returned him no answer. But when he observed in one
corner of the vessel the little trunk in which she used to keep her
jewels, which he well knew he had left in Algiers and had not
brought to the garden, he was still more amazed, and asked her how
that trunk had come into our hands, and what there was in it. To which
the renegade, without waiting for Zoraida to reply, made answer, "Do
not trouble thyself by asking thy daughter Zoraida so many
questions, senor, for the one answer I will give thee will serve for
all; I would have thee know that she is a Christian, and that it is
she who has been the file for our chains and our deliverer from
captivity. She is here of her own free will, as glad, I imagine, to
find herself in this position as he who escapes from darkness into the
light, from death to life, and from suffering to glory."

"Daughter, is this true, what he says?" cried the Moor.

"It is," replied Zoraida.

"That thou art in truth a Christian," said the old man, "and that
thou hast given thy father into the power of his enemies?"

To which Zoraida made answer, "A Christian I am, but it is not I who
have placed thee in this position, for it never was my wish to leave
thee or do thee harm, but only to do good to myself."

"And what good hast thou done thyself, daughter?" said he.

"Ask thou that," said she, "of Lela Marien, for she can tell thee
better than I."

The Moor had hardly heard these words when with marvellous quickness
he flung himself headforemost into the sea, where no doubt he would
have been drowned had not the long and full dress he wore held him
up for a little on the surface of the water. Zoraida cried aloud to us
to save him, and we all hastened to help, and seizing him by his
robe we drew him in half drowned and insensible, at which Zoraida
was in such distress that she wept over him as piteously and
bitterly as though he were already dead. We turned him upon his face
and he voided a great quantity of water, and at the end of two hours
came to himself. Meanwhile, the wind having changed we were
compelled to head for the land, and ply our oars to avoid being driven
on shore; but it was our good fortune to reach a creek that lies on
one side of a small promontory or cape, called by the Moors that of
the "Cava rumia," which in our language means "the wicked Christian
woman;" for it is a tradition among them that La Cava, through whom
Spain was lost, lies buried at that spot; "cava" in their language
meaning "wicked woman," and "rumia" "Christian;" moreover, they
count it unlucky to anchor there when necessity compels them, and they
never do so otherwise. For us, however, it was not the resting-place
of the wicked woman but a haven of safety for our relief, so much
had the sea now got up. We posted a look-out on shore, and never let
the oars out of our hands, and ate of the stores the renegade had laid
in, imploring God and Our Lady with all our hearts to help and protect
us, that we might give a happy ending to a beginning so prosperous. At
the entreaty of Zoraida orders were given to set on shore her father
and the other Moors who were still bound, for she could not endure,
nor could her tender heart bear to see her father in bonds and her
fellow-countrymen prisoners before her eyes. We promised her to do
this at the moment of departure, for as it was uninhabited we ran no
risk in releasing them at that place.

Our prayers were not so far in vain as to be unheard by Heaven,
for after a while the wind changed in our favour, and made the sea
calm, inviting us once more to resume our voyage with a good heart.
Seeing this we unbound the Moors, and one by one put them on shore, at
which they were filled with amazement; but when we came to land
Zoraida's father, who had now completely recovered his senses, he
said:

"Why is it, think ye, Christians, that this wicked woman is rejoiced
at your giving me my liberty? Think ye it is because of the
affection she bears me? Nay verily, it is only because of the
hindrance my presence offers to the execution of her base designs. And
think not that it is her belief that yours is better than ours that
has led her to change her religion; it is only because she knows
that immodesty is more freely practised in your country than in ours."
Then turning to Zoraida, while I and another of the Christians held
him fast by both arms, lest he should do some mad act, he said to her,
"Infamous girl, misguided maiden, whither in thy blindness and madness
art thou going in the hands of these dogs, our natural enemies? Cursed
be the hour when I begot thee! Cursed the luxury and indulgence in
which I reared thee!"

But seeing that he was not likely soon to cease I made haste to
put him on shore, and thence he continued his maledictions and
lamentations aloud; calling on Mohammed to pray to Allah to destroy
us, to confound us, to make an end of us; and when, in consequence
of having made sail, we could no longer hear what he said we could see
what he did; how he plucked out his beard and tore his hair and lay
writhing on the ground. But once he raised his voice to such a pitch
that we were able to hear what he said. "Come back, dear daughter,
come back to shore; I forgive thee all; let those men have the
money, for it is theirs now, and come back to comfort thy sorrowing
father, who will yield up his life on this barren strand if thou
dost leave him."

All this Zoraida heard, and heard with sorrow and tears, and all she
could say in answer was, "Allah grant that Lela Marien, who has made
me become a Christian, give thee comfort in thy sorrow, my father.
Allah knows that I could not do otherwise than I have done, and that
these Christians owe nothing to my will; for even had I wished not
to accompany them, but remain at home, it would have been impossible
for me, so eagerly did my soul urge me on to the accomplishment of
this purpose, which I feel to be as righteous as to thee, dear father,
it seems wicked."

But neither could her father hear her nor we see him when she said
this; and so, while I consoled Zoraida, we turned our attention to our
voyage, in which a breeze from the right point so favoured us that
we made sure of finding ourselves off the coast of Spain on the morrow
by daybreak. But, as good seldom or never comes pure and unmixed,
without being attended or followed by some disturbing evil that
gives a shock to it, our fortune, or perhaps the curses which the Moor
had hurled at his daughter (for whatever kind of father they may
come from these are always to be dreaded), brought it about that
when we were now in mid-sea, and the night about three hours spent, as
we were running with all sail set and oars lashed, for the favouring
breeze saved us the trouble of using them, we saw by the light of
the moon, which shone brilliantly, a square-rigged vessel in full sail
close to us, luffing up and standing across our course, and so close
that we had to strike sail to avoid running foul of her, while they
too put the helm hard up to let us pass. They came to the side of
the ship to ask who we were, whither we were bound, and whence we
came, but as they asked this in French our renegade said, "Let no
one answer, for no doubt these are French corsairs who plunder all
comers." Acting on this warning no one answered a word, but after we
had gone a little ahead, and the vessel was now lying to leeward,
suddenly they fired two guns, and apparently both loaded with
chain-shot, for with one they cut our mast in half and brought down
both it and the sail into the sea, and the other, discharged at the
same moment, sent a ball into our vessel amidships, staving her in
completely, but without doing any further damage. We, however, finding
ourselves sinking began to shout for help and call upon those in the
ship to pick us up as we were beginning to fill. They then lay to, and
lowering a skiff or boat, as many as a dozen Frenchmen, well armed
with match-locks, and their matches burning, got into it and came
alongside; and seeing how few we were, and that our vessel was going
down, they took us in, telling us that this had come to us through our
incivility in not giving them an answer. Our renegade took the trunk
containing Zoraida's wealth and dropped it into the sea without anyone
perceiving what he did. In short we went on board with the
Frenchmen, who, after having ascertained all they wanted to know about
us, rifled us of everything we had, as if they had been our
bitterest enemies, and from Zoraida they took even the anklets she
wore on her feet; but the distress they caused her did not distress me
so much as the fear I was in that from robbing her of her rich and
precious jewels they would proceed to rob her of the most precious
jewel that she valued more than all. The desires, however, of those
people do not go beyond money, but of that their covetousness is
insatiable, and on this occasion it was carried to such a pitch that
they would have taken even the clothes we wore as captives if they had
been worth anything to them. It was the advice of some of them to
throw us all into the sea wrapped up in a sail; for their purpose
was to trade at some of the ports of Spain, giving themselves out as
Bretons, and if they brought us alive they would be punished as soon
as the robbery was discovered; but the captain (who was the one who
had plundered my beloved Zoraida) said he was satisfied with the prize
he had got, and that he would not touch at any Spanish port, but
pass the Straits of Gibraltar by night, or as best he could, and
make for La Rochelle, from which he had sailed. So they agreed by
common consent to give us the skiff belonging to their ship and all we
required for the short voyage that remained to us, and this they did
the next day on coming in sight of the Spanish coast, with which,
and the joy we felt, all our sufferings and miseries were as
completely forgotten as if they had never been endured by us, such
is the delight of recovering lost liberty.

It may have been about mid-day when they placed us in the boat,
giving us two kegs of water and some biscuit; and the captain, moved
by I know not what compassion, as the lovely Zoraida was about to
embark, gave her some forty gold crowns, and would not permit his
men to take from her those same garments which she has on now. We
got into the boat, returning them thanks for their kindness to us, and
showing ourselves grateful rather than indignant. They stood out to
sea, steering for the straits; we, without looking to any compass save
the land we had before us, set ourselves to row with such energy
that by sunset we were so near that we might easily, we thought,
land before the night was far advanced. But as the moon did not show
that night, and the sky was clouded, and as we knew not whereabouts we
were, it did not seem to us a prudent thing to make for the shore,
as several of us advised, saying we ought to run ourselves ashore even
if it were on rocks and far from any habitation, for in this way we
should be relieved from the apprehensions we naturally felt of the
prowling vessels of the Tetuan corsairs, who leave Barbary at
nightfall and are on the Spanish coast by daybreak, where they
commonly take some prize, and then go home to sleep in their own
houses. But of the conflicting counsels the one which was adopted
was that we should approach gradually, and land where we could if
the sea were calm enough to permit us. This was done, and a little
before midnight we drew near to the foot of a huge and lofty mountain,
not so close to the sea but that it left a narrow space on which to
land conveniently. We ran our boat up on the sand, and all sprang
out and kissed the ground, and with tears of joyful satisfaction
returned thanks to God our Lord for all his incomparable goodness to
us on our voyage. We took out of the boat the provisions it contained,
and drew it up on the shore, and then climbed a long way up the
mountain, for even there we could not feel easy in our hearts, or
persuade ourselves that it was Christian soil that was now under our
feet.

The dawn came, more slowly, I think, than we could have wished; we
completed the ascent in order to see if from the summit any habitation
or any shepherds' huts could be discovered, but strain our eyes as
we might, neither dwelling, nor human being, nor path nor road could
we perceive. However, we determined to push on farther, as it could
not but be that ere long we must see some one who could tell us
where we were. But what distressed me most was to see Zoraida going on
foot over that rough ground; for though I once carried her on my
shoulders, she was more wearied by my weariness than rested by the
rest; and so she would never again allow me to undergo the exertion,
and went on very patiently and cheerfully, while I led her by the
hand. We had gone rather less than a quarter of a league when the
sound of a little bell fell on our ears, a clear proof that there were
flocks hard by, and looking about carefully to see if any were
within view, we observed a young shepherd tranquilly and
unsuspiciously trimming a stick with his knife at the foot of a cork
tree. We called to him, and he, raising his head, sprang nimbly to his
feet, for, as we afterwards learned, the first who presented
themselves to his sight were the renegade and Zoraida, and seeing them
in Moorish dress he imagined that all the Moors of Barbary were upon
him; and plunging with marvellous swiftness into the thicket in
front of him, he began to raise a prodigious outcry, exclaiming,
"The Moors- the Moors have landed! To arms, to arms!" We were all
thrown into perplexity by these cries, not knowing what to do; but
reflecting that the shouts of the shepherd would raise the country and
that the mounted coast-guard would come at once to see what was the
matter, we agreed that the renegade must strip off his Turkish
garments and put on a captive's jacket or coat which one of our
party gave him at once, though he himself was reduced to his shirt;
and so commending ourselves to God, we followed the same road which we
saw the shepherd take, expecting every moment that the coast-guard
would be down upon us. Nor did our expectation deceive us, for two
hours had not passed when, coming out of the brushwood into the open
ground, we perceived some fifty mounted men swiftly approaching us
at a hand-gallop. As soon as we saw them we stood still, waiting for
them; but as they came close and, instead of the Moors they were in
quest of, saw a set of poor Christians, they were taken aback, and one
of them asked if it could be we who were the cause of the shepherd
having raised the call to arms. I said "Yes," and as I was about to
explain to him what had occurred, and whence we came and who we
were, one of the Christians of our party recognised the horseman who
had put the question to us, and before I could say anything more he
exclaimed:

"Thanks be to God, sirs, for bringing us to such good quarters; for,
if I do not deceive myself, the ground we stand on is that of Velez
Malaga unless, indeed, all my years of captivity have made me unable
to recollect that you, senor, who ask who we are, are Pedro de
Bustamante, my uncle."

The Christian captive had hardly uttered these words, when the
horseman threw himself off his horse, and ran to embrace the young
man, crying:

"Nephew of my soul and life! I recognise thee now; and long have I
mourned thee as dead, I, and my sister, thy mother, and all thy kin
that are still alive, and whom God has been pleased to preserve that
they may enjoy the happiness of seeing thee. We knew long since that
thou wert in Algiers, and from the appearance of thy garments and
those of all this company, I conclude that ye have had a miraculous
restoration to liberty."

"It is true," replied the young man, "and by-and-by we will tell you
all."

As soon as the horsemen understood that we were Christian
captives, they dismounted from their horses, and each offered his to
carry us to the city of Velez Malaga, which was a league and a half
distant. Some of them went to bring the boat to the city, we having
told them where we had left it; others took us up behind them, and
Zoraida was placed on the horse of the young man's uncle. The whole
town came out to meet us, for they had by this time heard of our
arrival from one who had gone on in advance. They were not
astonished to see liberated captives or captive Moors, for people on
that coast are well used to see both one and the other; but they
were astonished at the beauty of Zoraida, which was just then
heightened, as well by the exertion of travelling as by joy at finding
herself on Christian soil, and relieved of all fear of being lost; for
this had brought such a glow upon her face, that unless my affection
for her were deceiving me, I would venture to say that there was not a
more beautiful creature in the world- at least, that I had ever seen.
We went straight to the church to return thanks to God for the
mercies we had received, and when Zoraida entered it she said there
were faces there like Lela Marien's. We told her they were her images;
and as well as he could the renegade explained to her what they meant,
that she might adore them as if each of them were the very same Lela
Marien that had spoken to her; and she, having great intelligence
and a quick and clear instinct, understood at once all he said to
her about them. Thence they took us away and distributed us all in
different houses in the town; but as for the renegade, Zoraida, and
myself, the Christian who came with us brought us to the house of
his parents, who had a fair share of the gifts of fortune, and treated
us with as much kindness as they did their own son.

We remained six days in Velez, at the end of which the renegade,
having informed himself of all that was requisite for him to do, set
out for the city of Granada to restore himself to the sacred bosom
of the Church through the medium of the Holy Inquisition. The other
released captives took their departures, each the way that seemed best
to him, and Zoraida and I were left alone, with nothing more than
the crowns which the courtesy of the Frenchman had bestowed upon
Zoraida, out of which I bought the beast on which she rides; and, I
for the present attending her as her father and squire and not as
her husband, we are now going to ascertain if my father is living,
or if any of my brothers has had better fortune than mine has been;
though, as Heaven has made me the companion of Zoraida, I think no
other lot could be assigned to me, however happy, that I would
rather have. The patience with which she endures the hardships that
poverty brings with it, and the eagerness she shows to become a
Christian, are such that they fill me with admiration, and bind me
to serve her all my life; though the happiness I feel in seeing myself
hers, and her mine, is disturbed and marred by not knowing whether I
shall find any corner to shelter her in my own country, or whether
time and death may not have made such changes in the fortunes and
lives of my father and brothers, that I shall hardly find anyone who
knows me, if they are not alive.

I have no more of my story to tell you, gentlemen; whether it be
an interesting or a curious one let your better judgments decide;
all I can say is I would gladly have told it to you more briefly;
although my fear of wearying you has made me leave out more than one
circumstance.




Don Quixote by Migeul de Cervantes
Category:
Romance Literature - Spanish
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