A day will come when York shall claim his own;
Then York be still awhile, till time do serve.
The further Edmund journeyed from the late abode of his lost cousin, the more he felt displeased at the step he had taken; but on his arrival in Paris his uncertainty ended. Warbeck had received intimation of the hurried embarkation of his sister, and here also he found Lady Brampton, whose husband had taken refuge in Paris after the battle of Stoke. Like the queen-dowager, the fate of Margaret of Anjou's son haunted this lady, and she warmly espoused the idea of bringing the duke of York up in safe obscurity, until his own judgment might lead him to choose another line of action, or the opposing politics of Europe promised some support to his cause. She agreed to repair herself to Brussels, to take counsel with the duchess, to use all her influence and arts, and, as soon as time was ripe, to proceed herself to Spain to announce it to the prince. Meanwhile, Plantagenet, following his former purpose, would take up his abode with Richard in Spain; teach him the science of arms, and the more difficult lessons of courage, self-command, and prudent conduct. In pursuance of this plan, Edmund lost no time in going to Bordeaux, whence he embarked for Malaga, and following his friend's steps, arrived shortly after him at the retreat De Faro had chosen among the foldings of the mountains on the borders of Andalusia.
De Faro's was a singular history. In those days, that park of Andalusia which comprised the kingdom of Granada, was the seat of perpetual wars, and even when armies did not meet to deluge its fertile plains and valleys with their blood, troops led by noble cavaliers and illustrious commanders overran its districts in search of plunder and glory. During one of these incursions, in the year 1452, some impulse of religion or humanity made a Spanish soldier snatch from a couch in the country-house of a noble wealthy Moor, already half consumed, an infant hardly a year old; the band was already in full retreat, and, fortunately, this incident took place on the very frontiers of Granada, or the benevolence of the soldier would hardly have been proof against the trouble his little charge occasioned him. Toiling up the mountains on their return to the kingdom of Jaen, they entered the little town of Alcala-la-Real, where, on the side of the mountainous road, rose the walls of a monastery. "How better," thought the soldier, "save the soul of this boy than by giving him to the monks?" It was not, perhaps, the present they would most readily have selected, but compassion and piety forbade them to refuse it: the little Moor became a Christian by the name of Hernan, and was brought up within the sacred precincts of the convent. Though the monks were able to make a zealous Catholic of their nursling, they did not succeed so well in taming his fiery spirit, nor could they induce him to devote himself to the inactive and mortifying life of a priest. Yet he was generous and daring, and thus acquired their affection; next to being a recluse vowed to God, the vocation of a soldier for the faith, in the eyes of these holy men, was to be selected. Hernan advancing in life, and shooting up into strong and premature manhood, was recommended by the abbot to his cousin, the illustrious Don Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, marquess of Cadiz. He fought several times under his banners, and in the year 1471 entered with him the kingdom of Granada, and was wounded at the taking of Cardela. In this last action it was, that a sudden horror of taking up arms against his countrymen sprung up in Hernan's breast. He quitted Spain in consequence; and, visiting Lisbon, he was led to embrace a sea-faring life, and entered the marine service of the king of Portugal; at one time, visiting Holland, where he sought and won the hand of Madeline: and afterwards, with Bartholomew Diaz, he made one of the crew that discovered the Cape of Good Hope. He sailed with three vessels, one of which lost company of the others, and its crew underwent various and dreadful perils at sea, and from the blacks on land: after nine months they again fell in with their companions, three sailors only remaining. One of these was Hernan de Faro; his skill, valour, and fortitude, had saved the vessel; he was exalted to its command, and now, in safer voyage over seas more known, lie had freighted it with the fugitives from Tournay.
During all his wanderings, even in the gay and rich Portugal, Hernan turned with fond regret to his mountain home. To its rugged peaks, its deep and silent dells; its torrents, its verdure, its straggling and precipitous paths; its prospect over the rich and laughing Vega of Granada. He had promised himself, after weary toils, a long repose in this beloved spot; and hither he now led his wife, resolving to set up his tent for ever in the land of his childhood, his happy childhood. It was a strange place to choose, bordering on Granada, which at that time was as lists in which Death and Havock sat umpires. But the situation of Alcala-la-Real preserved it secure, notwithstanding its dangerous neighbourhood. It was perched high upon the mountain, overlooking a plain which had been for many years the scene of ruthless carnage and devastation, being in itself an asylum for fugitives—a place of rest for the victor—an eagle's nest, unassailable by the vultures of the plain.
Here, then, Plantagenet found his cousin; here, in lovely and romantic Spain. Though defaced and torn by war, Andalusia presented an aspect of rich and various beauty, intoxicating to one whose life had been spent in the plains of England, or the dull flats of Flanders. The purple vineyards; the olive plantations clothing the burning hill-side; the groves of mulberry, cork, pomegranate, and citron, that diversified the fertile vegas or plains; the sweet flowing rivers, with their banks adorned by scarlet geranium or odoriferous myrtle, made this spot Nature's own favoured garden—a paradise unequalled upon earth. On such a scene did the mountain-home of the exiles look down. Alcala, too, had beauties of her own. Ilex and pine woods clothed the defiles of the rugged Sierra, which stretched far and wide, torn by winter torrents into vast ravines;by a thousand intersecting lines, formed by the foldings of the hills; the clouds found a home on the lofty summits; the wandering mists crept along the abrupt precipices; alternate light and shadow, rich in purple and golden hues, arrayed each rocky peak or verdant slope in radiance all their own.
All this fair land had been under the dominion of the Moors. Now, town by town, stronghold by stronghold, they had lost it; the riches of the land belonged to the Christians, who still, by military conquest or policy, pressed the realm of the Moorish sovereign into a narrower compass; while, divided in itself, the unhappy kingdom fell piecemeal into their hands. De Faro was a devout Catholic; but, with all his intrepidity, more humanity than belonged to that age warmed his manly heart. He remembered that he was a Moor: whenever he saw a Moslem prisoner in chains, or a cavalgada of hapless women driven from their native towns to slavery, the blood in his veins moved with instinctive horror; and the idea that among them might pine and groan his parents, his own relatives, burned like living coal in his breast. He had half forgotten this when he came to Alcala, bringing his wife and child, and resolved to set up here his home; but when, in the succeeding spring, the Spanish army assembled on the frontiers of Murcia, and swept on towards the south—when deeds of Moorish valour and Moorish suffering reached Alcala—when the triumph of the Christians and their ravages were repeated—the gallant mariner could endure no longer. "It is a fruitless struggle," he said; "Granada must fall; and God, who searches hearts, knows that his victory will be dear to me when the cross floats from the towers of the Alhambra. But I cannot behold the dark, bloodstained advances of the invader. I will go—go where man destroys not his brother, where the wild winds and waves are the armies vs e combat. In a year or two every sword will be sheathed; the peace of conquest will reign over Andalusia. One other voyage, and I return."
He went without fear, for Alcala appeared a safe retreat, and left his family spectators of the war. What a school for Richard! Edmund rejoiced that he would be accomplished in knightly exercise in the land of chivalry; but he was not prepared for the warlike enthusiasm that sprung up in his cousin's heart, and even in his own. It was the cause of God that armed the gentlemen of Spain, that put daring into the politic Ferdinand's heart, and inspired with martial ardour the magnanimous Isabella. The veteran cavaliers had lost many relatives and companions in arms, in various defeats under the rocky castles, or within the pathless defiles of Andalusia; and holy zeal possessed them to avenge their deaths, or to deliver those who pined in bondage. The younger knights, under the eye of their sovereigns, emulated each other in gallantry and glory. They painted war with pomp, and adorned it by their virtues.
Not many months before, the earl of Rivers, with a band of Englishmen, aided at the siege of Loxa, and distinguished himself by his undaunted bravery; his blunt but gay humour; his eager emulation with the Spanish commanders. The duke of York heard, with a leaping heart, his mother's brother's name. Had he still been there; but no, he had returned to fall in affray in Britany, the victim of Tudor's heartless desertion—this circumstance had given distinction and honour to the name of Englishmen; nor did Edmund feel inclined to lower the national character by keeping away from the scene of glory. What was to be done? York was a mere boy; yet when Plantagenet spoke of serving under one of the illustrious Catholic chieftains, York said, "I follow you; I will be your squire, your page, your stirrup-boy; but I follow!"
In 1489 the siege of Baza was formed. It was defended with desperate valour by the Moors, while every noble Spaniard capable of bearing arms assembled in Ferdinand's camp, which glittered in silks and gay caparisons; yet the very luxury of the warriors was ennobled by their valour. The sallies on the part of the besieged were furious; the repulse they sustained, determined and successful. When closely hemmed in, the Moors relaxed in their desperate efforts. The younger Christian cavaliers used the leisure so afforded them to unite in making incursions in the surrounding country, to cut off supplies, and to surprise the foraging-parties of the enemy. Two youths became conspicuous in these exploits; both proclaimed their English origin. One bore a knight's golden spurs (Edmund had been knighted on the eve of the battle of Stoke by the earl of Lincoln), and boasted of his royal, though illegitimate, descent; the other, a beardless, fair-haired, blooming boy, was nameless, save by the Christian appellation of Ricardo, to which was added the further designation of El Muchacho, from his extreme youth. It was a lovely yet an awful sight to behold this pair. The elder, whose dark eyes and dun complexion gave him a greater resemblance to his southern comrades, never lost sight of his young friend; side by side, his shield before Richard's breast, they went to the field. When Edmund would otherwise have pressed forward, he hung back to guard his cousin; and when the boy was hurried forward in the ardour of fight, still his kinsman's gaze was on him—his sword protecting him in every aspect of danger. If the stripling were attacked, Edmund's eyes flashed fire, and mortal vengeance fell upon his foe. They became the discourse of the camp; and Plantagenet's modesty, and Richard's docility in all, save avoiding peril, advanced them still further in the favour of the grave, courteous Spaniards. "Art thou, then, motherless?" Isabel asked; "if thou art not, thy gentle parent must pass many wakeful nights for thee! "At length, in one skirmish, both the youths got surrounded by the foe. Richard's young arm, wearied by the very sword he bore, gave ineffectual blows. Forgetting that he left himself unguarded, Edmund rushed between him and his assailant; others came to their assistance; but Plantagenet was already struck to the ground; and for many weeks York forgot even the glorious emulation of arms, while watching over his best and dearest friend. meanwhile Baza surrendered; and the cousins returned to Alcala, to Madeline and her fair child; and domestic peace succeeded to the storms of war. Richard loved Madeline as his mother; her daughter was his sister, his angel sister, whose tenderness and heroism of character commanded deep affection.
Monina de Faro was, even in childhood, a being to worship and to love. There was a dreamy sweetness in her countenance, a mystery in the profound sensibility of her nature, that fascinated beyond all compare. Her characteristic was not so much the facility of being impressed, as the excess of the emotion produced by every new idea or feeling. Was she gay?—her large eyes laughed in their own brightness, her lovely countenance became radiant with smiles, her thrilling voice was attuned to lightest mirth, while the gladness that filled her heart overflowed from her as light does from the sun, imparting to all around a share of its own essence. Did sorrow oppress her?—dark night fell upon her mind, clouding her face, oppressing her whole person, which staggered and bent beneath the freight. Had she been susceptible of the stormier passions, her subtle and yielding soul would have been their unresisting victim—but though impetuous—wild—the slave of her own sensations, her soft bosom could harbour no emotion unallied to goodness: and the devouring appetite of her soul, was the desire of benefiting all around her. Her countenance was the mirror of her mind. Its outline resembled those we see in Spanish pictures, not being quite oval enough for a northern beauty. It seemed widened at the forehead, to give space for her large, long eyes, and the canopy of the darkly fringed and veined lid: her hair was not black, but of a rich sunny chesnut, finer than carded silk, and more glossy; her skin was delicate, somewhat pale, except when emotion suffused it with a deep pink. In person, she was not tall, but softly rounded; and her taper, rosy-tipped fingers, and little feet, bespoke the delicate proportion that moulded her form to a beauty, whose every motion awakened admiration and love.
With these companions Richard passed the winter. The following spring brought war still nearer to the English exiles—Baza had fallen; one of the kings of Granada, surnamed El Zagal, the Valiant, had submitted to the Spaniards: and now Ferdinand commanded his former ally, Boabdil el Chico, to deliver up to him proud Granada, the loved city of the Moors. Poor Boabdil, whose misfortunes had been prophesied at his birth, and whose whole career had been such as to affix to him the surname of el Zogoybi, or the Unfortunate, was roused from his state of opprobrious vassalage by this demand, and followed up his refusal by an Inroad into the Christian country, near Jaen. Count de Tendilla, a veteran warrior of high reputation and brilliant exploits, commanded this district. His headquarters were in the impregnable fortress of Alcala-la-Real itself; and when the cry came, that the Moors had passed his border, he resolved to stoop from his eagle's eyrie, and to pounce upon the insolent foe, as they returned from their incursion. He chose one hundred and fifty men, and lay in ambush for them. Plantagenet was of the number, and our young warrior also; though with sage entreaties Edmund, and with tears Madeline, had besought him to stay. The count succeeded to his wish—the Moors fell into his toils—few escaped slaughter or capture: but while the Christian hero exulted in victory, a messenger, pale with horror, spent with weariness, came to tell that a band of Moors had taken advantage of his absence, to fall upon Alcala. Indignation and fury possessed the noble captain; he left half his troop to protect his spoil, and with the rest, all weary as they were, he hurried back to Alcala, eager to fall upon the marauders before they should have secured their prey in a neighbouring fortress. Edmund and Richard were among the foremost; their rage could only be calmed by the swiftness with which they returned to deliver or avenge their friends. The sun was sinking in the west when they arrived at the foot of the Sierra. At first Tendilla desired that his wearied troop should repose; but several stragglers among the enemy, perceiving them, gave the alarm to their comrades, who, laden with booty, were preparing to depart. Harassed as the Christians were, they had no choice, while their position, on the lower ground, rendered their attack very disadvantageous. But nothing could cheek their fury: with loud cries and flashing weapons they fell upon the enemy, who, burthened by their prey and wearied by their very outrages, could ill resist men fighting to avenge their desolated hearths. Still, so accustomed to war, so innately brave was every soldier on either side, that the combat was long and sanguinary. Night, the swift-walking darkness of the nights of the south, came suddenly upon the combatants: the casques of one party, and the turbans of the other, were scarce perceptible, to guide the scimitar, or to serve as an aim for the arquebus. The discomfited Moors, leaving their booty, dispersed along the defiles, and, forgetful of their prisoners, availed themselves of the obscurity to make good their flight. Alcala was retaken; and through the shadows of night, husbands and fathers called aloud on their wives and children to tell them if they were safe, while many a sound of woman's wail arose over the corpse of him who had died to save her.
The troop, diminished in number, was drawn up the following morning in the square of Alcala. "Where," asked the count, "are my two English soldiers? I saw the elder leading five others across a steep mountain-path, so as to fall on the enemy's rear; it was a sage measure, and succeeded well. Ricardo I beheld contending with two bearded Moors, who held in their fierce grasp a young and fainting girl. I sent Diego to his rescue: Diego, they say, was slain: night prevented me from knowing more: have both these strangers fallen? I would pay them a Spaniard's thanks for their aid—a knight's praise for their gallantry."
Alas! both thanks and praise would have visited their ears coldly. They had forgotten Tendilla, his troop, the very Christian cause, in the overwhelming calamity that had befallen them. Assisted by Diego, who was cut down in the conflict, Richard had delivered Monina; and, forcing his way through the enemy, now already scattered, clambered with her in his arms to their mountain abode: he was guided towards it by the glaring light of the flames that destroyed it. Meanwhile, the fight still raged; York placed Monina in safety, and returned to share its perils.
The peace of desolation that came with the morning united the cousins; and they sought the ruins of their home, and their miserable friend, whose broken and harrowing tale recorded how Madeline had fallen a victim to the savage cruelty of the enemy, as she strove to defend her daughter from impending slavery.
This was the result of Moorish wars—death and misery. Richard's young heart had bounded to the sound of trump and clarion; and he returned to hear the melancholy bell that tolled for death. Their very home was in ruins; but it was long before, amidst deeper woe, they remembered to lament the destruction of many papers and hoarded objects, the relics and the testimonies of Richard's royal descent.
- I had originally entered more at large on a description of Andalusia, and the history of the conquest of Granada. The subsequent publication of Mr. Washington Irving's very interesting work has superseded the necessity of this deviation from the straight path of my story. Events which, in their romantic detail, were before only to be found in old Spanish folios, are now accessible to every English reader, adorned by the elegance of style, and arranged with the exquisite taste, which characterize the very delightful "Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada."