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The saintly soul, that shows the world's deceitfulness."
Promptly I heard her bidding and once again
Behold her on the Throne, whereon her merit placed her.”
I raised and saw her where she sat.
So I my suit preferred, and she, so distant,
THE SIEGE OF ZAMORA.
[From "The Cid.”)
Translated by ROBERT SOUTHEY.
AND there came messengers, vassals, to Ruydiez of Bivar, bring
ing him tribute; and they called him Cid, which signifieth Lord, and would have kissed his hands, but he would not let them till they had kissed the hand of the King.
The King sent for the Cid, and said to him: “You well know I have ever shown favor unto you, and you have ever served me as the loyalist vassal that ever did service to his lord ; and I have, for your good service, made you chief of my household. Now, there. fore, go to Zamora, to my sister, Doña Urraca, and say unto her that I beseech her to give me the town either for a price or in exchange, and I will swear to her, with twelve of my vassals, never to break this covenant between us. But if she refuseth to do this, I will take away the town from her by force.”
And the Cid kissed the hand of the King, and said unto him : “This bidding, sir, should be for other messenger, for it is a heavy thing for me to deliver it; for I was brought up in Zamora by your father's command, in the house of Don Arias Gonzalo, with Doña
Urraca, and with his sons, and it is not fitting that I should be the bearer of such bidding."
And the King persisted in requiring of him that he should go, insomuch that he was constrained to obey his will. And he took with him fifteen of his knights and rode toward Zamora ; and when he drew nigh he called unto those who kept guard in the towers not to shoot their arrows at him, for he came to Doña Urraca with the bidding of her brother, King Don Sancho. With that there came down a knight who was nephew to Arias Gonzalo, and had the keeping of the gate, and he bade the Cid enter, saying that he would order him to be well lodged while he went to Doña Urraca to know if she would be pleased to see him.
When the Cid entered the palace, Doña Urraca advanced to meet him, and greeted him full well, and they seated themselves upon the estrado. And she said to the Cid:
“You well know that you were brought up with me here in Zamora, and when my father was at the point of death he charged that you should always counsel his sons the best you could. Now, therefore, tell me, I beseech you, what is it my brother goes about to do, that he has called up all Spain in arms, and to what lands he thinks to go, whether against Moors or Christians ?”
Then said the Cid: “The King, your brother, sends to greet you, and beseeches you to give him this town of Zamora either for a price or in exchange; and he will swear unto you, with twelve knights, his vassals, never to do you hurt or harm. But if you will not give him the town, he will take it against your will."
When Doña Urraca heard this, she was sorely grieved, and in her great sorrow she lamented aloud, saying:
“Wretch that I am, many are the evil messages which I have heard since my father's death! He hath disinherited my brother, King Don Garcia, of his kingdom, and taken him, and now holds him in irons as if he were a thief or a Moor; and he hath taken his lands from my brother, King Don Alfonso, and forced him to go among the Moors and live there exiled, as if he had been a traitor; and he hath taken her lands from my sister, Doña Elvira, against her will, and now he would take Zamora from me also !
Now, then, let the earth open and swallow me, that I may not see so many troubles! I am a woman, and well know that I cannot strive with him in battle; but I will have him slain either secretly or openly.”
Then Don Arias Gonzalo stood up and said: “Lady Doña Urraca, in thus complaining and making lamentation you do inconsiderately; for in time of trouble it befits us to take thought of what best is to be done, and so must we do. Now, then, Lady, give order that all the men of Zamora assemble in St. Salvador's and know of them whether they will hold with you, seeing that your father
gave them to you to be vassals. And if they will hold with you, then give not you up the town, neither for a price nor in exchange."
And she did as her foster-father advised. And when they were all assembled, she arose and said: “Friends and vassals, my brother, King Don Sancho, hath sent to bid me give him Zamora. Now concerning this I would know whereunto ye advise me, and will hold with me as good vassals and true. If
will keep my career, I think to defend it by God's mercy and with your help."
Then there arose a knight, Don Miño, a man of worth, aged and of fair speech; and he said : “God reward you, Lady, for this favor which you have shown us in thinking to come to our council, for we are your vassals, and should do what you command. Give not up Zamora, for he who besieges you upon the rock would soon drive you from the plain. The council of Zamora will do your
biding, and will not desert you, neither for trouble nor for danger, even unto death. Sooner, Lady, will we expend all our possessions, and eat our mules and horses, yea, sooner feed upon our children and wives than give up Zamora, unless by your command.”
When Doña Urraca heard this she was well pleased, and praised them greatly; and she turned to the Cid, and said unto him: “ You were bred up with me in this town, and through your help it was the King, my father, gave it unto me to be my inheritance. Entreat my brother that he seek not to disinherit me; but if he will go on with what he hath begun, say to him that I will rather die with the men of Zamora, and they with me, than give him up the town."
When the King heard what the Cid said, his anger kindled against him, and he said: “You have given this counsel to my sister because you were bred up with her.”
And the Cid answered: “Faithfully have I discharged your bidding, as a true vassal. Howbeit, 0 King, I will not bear arms against the Infanta, your sister, nor against Zamora, because of the days which are past; and, I beseech you, do not persist in doing this wrong."
But King Don Sancho was more greatly incensed, and said: “If it were not that thy father left you commended to me, I would order you this instant hanged. But I command you to quit my kingdom within nine days."
And the King ordered proclamation to be made that the people should make ready to attack Zamora. And they fought against the town three days and three nights, so bravely that all the ditches were filled up, and the barbicans thrown down, and they who were within fought sword in hand with those without, and the waters of the Duero, as they passed below the town, were all discolored with blood. And when Count Don Garcia de Cabra saw the great loss they were suffering, it grieved him; and he went to the King and told him that many men were slain, and adv ed him to call off the hosts that they should no longer fight against the town, but hold it besieged, for by famine it might soon be taken.
Then the King ordered them to draw back, and he sent to each camp to know how many men had died in the attack, and the number was found to be a thousand and thirty. And the King was troubled, and ordered the town to be beleaguered round about, that none could enter into it, neither go out therefrom; and there was a great famine within the town.
And when Don Arias Gonzala saw the misery, and the hunger, and the mortality which were there, he said to the Infanta Doña Urraca : “ You see, Lady, the great wretchedness which the people of Zamora have suffered to maintain their loyalty; now call together the council, and thank them truly for what they have done for you, and bid them give up the town within nine days to the King, your brother, for we cannot defend Zamora.”