It was full early when I came to the wall. I could make out the heavy and tall archway of the gate, but as yet was no throng before it. I waited; the folk began to gather, the sun came up. Zarafa grew rosy. Now was clatter enough, voices of men and brutes, both sides the gate. The gate opened. Juan Lepe won out with a knot of brawny folk going to the mountain pastures. Well forth, he looked back and saw Zarafa gleaming rose and pearl in the blink of the sun, and sent young merchantward a wish for good. Then he took the eastward way down the mountain, toward lower mountains and at last the Vega of Granada.
The day passed. I had adventures of the road, but none of consequence. I slept well among the rocks, waked, ate the bit of bread I had with me, and fell again to walking.
Mountains were now withdrawing to the distant horizon where they stood around, a mighty and beautiful wall. I was coming down into the plain of Granada, that once had been a garden. Now, north, south, east, west, it lay war-trampled. Old owners were dead, men and women, or were mudexares, vassals, or were fled, men and women, all who could flee, to their kindred in Africa. Or they yet cowered, men and women, in the broken garden, awaiting individual disaster. The Kingdom of Granada had sins, and the Kingdom of Castile, and the Kingdom of Leon. The Moor was stained, and the Spaniard, the Moslem and the Christian and the Jew. Who had stains the least or the most God knew—and it was a poor inquiry. Seek the virtues and bind them with love, each in each!
If the mountain road had been largely solitary, it was not so of this road. There were folk enough in the wide Vega of Granada. Clearly, as though the one party had been dressed in black and the other in red, they divided into vanquished and victor. Bit by bit, now through years, all these towns and villages, all these fertile fields and bosky places, rich and singing, had left the hand of the Moor for the hand of the Spaniard.
In all this part of his old kingdom the Moor lay low in defeat. In had swarmed the Christian and with the Christian the Jew, though now the Jew must leave. The city of Granada was not yet surrendered, and the Queen and King held all soldiery that they might at Santa Fe, built as it were in a night before Granada walls. Yet there seemed at large bands enough, licentious and loud, the scum of soldiery. Ere I reached the village that I now saw before me I had met two such bands, I wondered, and then wondered at my own wonder.