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Chapter 39

  • **Wherein the captive relates his life and adventures**
  • My family had its origin in a village in the mountains of Leon, and nature ha_een kinder and more generous to it than fortune; though in the genera_overty of those communities my father passed for being even a rich man; an_e would have been so in reality had he been as clever in preserving hi_roperty as he was in spending it. This tendency of his to be liberal an_rofuse he had acquired from having been a soldier in his youth, for th_oldier's life is a school in which the niggard becomes free-handed and th_ree-handed prodigal; and if any soldiers are to be found who are misers, the_re monsters of rare occurrence. My father went beyond liberality and bordere_n prodigality, a disposition by no means advantageous to a married man wh_as children to succeed to his name and position. My father had three, al_ons, and all of sufficient age to make choice of a profession. Finding, then,
  • that he was unable to resist his propensity, he resolved to divest himself o_he instrument and cause of his prodigality and lavishness, to divest himsel_f wealth, without which Alexander himself would have seemed parsimonious; an_o calling us all three aside one day into a room, he addressed us in word_omewhat to the following effect:
  • "My sons, to assure you that I love you, no more need be known or said tha_hat you are my sons; and to encourage a suspicion that I do not love you, n_ore is needed than the knowledge that I have no self-control as far a_reservation of your patrimony is concerned; therefore, that you may for th_uture feel sure that I love you like a father, and have no wish to ruin yo_ike a stepfather, I propose to do with you what I have for some time bac_editated, and after mature deliberation decided upon. You are now of an ag_o choose your line of life or at least make choice of a calling that wil_ring you honour and profit when you are older; and what I have resolved to d_s to divide my property into four parts; three I will give to you, to eac_is portion without making any difference, and the other I will retain to liv_pon and support myself for whatever remainder of life Heaven may be please_o grant me. But I wish each of you on taking possession of the share tha_alls to him to follow one of the paths I shall indicate. In this Spain o_urs there is a proverb, to my mind very true—as they all are, being shor_phorisms drawn from long practical experience—and the one I refer to says,
  • 'The church, or the sea, or the king's house;' as much as to say, in plaine_anguage, whoever wants to flourish and become rich, let him follow th_hurch, or go to sea, adopting commerce as his calling, or go into the king'_ervice in his household, for they say, 'Better a king's crumb than a lord'_avour.' I say so because it is my will and pleasure that one of you shoul_ollow letters, another trade, and the third serve the king in the wars, fo_t is a difficult matter to gain admission to his service in his household,
  • and if war does not bring much wealth it confers great distinction and fame.
  • Eight days hence I will give you your full shares in money, without defraudin_ou of a farthing, as you will see in the end. Now tell me if you are willin_o follow out my idea and advice as I have laid it before you."
  • Having called upon me as the eldest to answer, I, after urging him not t_trip himself of his property but to spend it all as he pleased, for we wer_oung men able to gain our living, consented to comply with his wishes, an_aid that mine were to follow the profession of arms and thereby serve God an_y king. My second brother having made the same proposal, decided upon goin_o the Indies, embarking the portion that fell to him in trade. The youngest,
  • and in my opinion the wisest, said he would rather follow the church, or go t_omplete his studies at Salamanca. As soon as we had come to an understanding,
  • and made choice of our professions, my father embraced us all, and in th_hort time he mentioned carried into effect all he had promised; and when h_ad given to each his share, which as well as I remember was three thousan_ucats apiece in cash (for an uncle of ours bought the estate and paid for i_own, not to let it go out of the family), we all three on the same day too_eave of our good father; and at the same time, as it seemed to me inhuman t_eave my father with such scanty means in his old age, I induced him to tak_wo of my three thousand ducats, as the remainder would be enough to provid_e with all a soldier needed. My two brothers, moved by my example, gave hi_ach a thousand ducats, so that there was left for my father four thousan_ucats in money, besides three thousand, the value of the portion that fell t_im which he preferred to retain in land instead of selling it. Finally, as _aid, we took leave of him, and of our uncle whom I have mentioned, no_ithout sorrow and tears on both sides, they charging us to let them kno_henever an opportunity offered how we fared, whether well or ill. We promise_o do so, and when he had embraced us and given us his blessing, one set ou_or Salamanca, the other for Seville, and I for Alicante, where I had hear_here was a Genoese vessel taking in a cargo of wool for Genoa.
  • It is now some twenty-two years since I left my father's house, and all tha_ime, though I have written several letters, I have had no news whatever o_im or of my brothers; my own adventures during that period I will now relat_riefly. I embarked at Alicante, reached Genoa after a prosperous voyage, an_roceeded thence to Milan, where I provided myself with arms and a fe_oldier's accoutrements; thence it was my intention to go and take service i_iedmont, but as I was already on the road to Alessandria della Paglia, _earned that the great Duke of Alva was on his way to Flanders. I changed m_lans, joined him, served under him in the campaigns he made, was present a_he deaths of the Counts Egmont and Horn, and was promoted to be ensign unde_ famous captain of Guadalajara, Diego de Urbina by name. Some time after m_rrival in Flanders news came of the league that his Holiness Pope Pius V o_appy memory, had made with Venice and Spain against the common enemy, th_urk, who had just then with his fleet taken the famous island of Cyprus,
  • which belonged to the Venetians, a loss deplorable and disastrous. It wa_nown as a fact that the Most Serene Don John of Austria, natural brother o_ur good king Don Philip, was coming as commander-in-chief of the allie_orces, and rumours were abroad of the vast warlike preparations which wer_eing made, all which stirred my heart and filled me with a longing to tak_art in the campaign which was expected; and though I had reason to believe,
  • and almost certain promises, that on the first opportunity that presente_tself I should be promoted to be captain, I preferred to leave all and betak_yself, as I did, to Italy; and it was my good fortune that Don John had jus_rrived at Genoa, and was going on to Naples to join the Venetian fleet, as h_fterwards did at Messina. I may say, in short, that I took part in tha_lorious expedition, promoted by this time to be a captain of infantry, t_hich honourable charge my good luck rather than my merits raised me; and tha_ay—so fortunate for Christendom, because then all the nations of the eart_ere disabused of the error under which they lay in imagining the Turks to b_nvincible on sea-on that day, I say, on which the Ottoman pride and arroganc_ere broken, among all that were there made happy (for the Christians who die_hat day were happier than those who remained alive and victorious) I alon_as miserable; for, instead of some naval crown that I might have expected ha_t been in Roman times, on the night that followed that famous day I foun_yself with fetters on my feet and manacles on my hands.
  • It happened in this way: El Uchali, the king of Algiers, a daring an_uccessful corsair, having attacked and taken the leading Maltese galley (onl_hree knights being left alive in it, and they badly wounded), the chie_alley of John Andrea, on board of which I and my company were placed, came t_ts relief, and doing as was bound to do in such a case, I leaped on board th_nemy's galley, which, sheering off from that which had attacked it, prevente_y men from following me, and so I found myself alone in the midst of m_nemies, who were in such numbers that I was unable to resist; in short I wa_aken, covered with wounds; El Uchali, as you know, sirs, made his escape wit_is entire squadron, and I was left a prisoner in his power, the only sa_eing among so many filled with joy, and the only captive among so many free;
  • for there were fifteen thousand Christians, all at the oar in the Turkis_leet, that regained their longed-for liberty that day.
  • They carried me to Constantinople, where the Grand Turk, Selim, made my maste_eneral at sea for having done his duty in the battle and carried off a_vidence of his bravery the standard of the Order of Malta. The followin_ear, which was the year seventy-two, I found myself at Navarino rowing in th_eading galley with the three lanterns. There I saw and observed how th_pportunity of capturing the whole Turkish fleet in harbour was lost; for al_he marines and janizzaries that belonged to it made sure that they were abou_o be attacked inside the very harbour, and had their kits and pasamaques, o_hoes, ready to flee at once on shore without waiting to be assailed, in s_reat fear did they stand of our fleet. But Heaven ordered it otherwise, no_or any fault or neglect of the general who commanded on our side, but for th_ins of Christendom, and because it was God's will and pleasure that we shoul_lways have instruments of punishment to chastise us. As it was, El Uchal_ook refuge at Modon, which is an island near Navarino, and landing force_ortified the mouth of the harbour and waited quietly until Don John retired.
  • On this expedition was taken the galley called the Prize, whose captain was _on of the famous corsair Barbarossa. It was taken by the chief Neapolita_alley called the She-wolf, commanded by that thunderbolt of war, that fathe_f his men, that successful and unconquered captain Don Alvaro de Bazan,
  • Marquis of Santa Cruz; and I cannot help telling you what took place at th_apture of the Prize.
  • The son of Barbarossa was so cruel, and treated his slaves so badly, that,
  • when those who were at the oars saw that the She-wolf galley was bearing dow_pon them and gaining upon them, they all at once dropped their oars an_eized their captain who stood on the stage at the end of the gangway shoutin_o them to row lustily; and passing him on from bench to bench, from the poo_o the prow, they so bit him that before he had got much past the mast hi_oul had already got to hell; so great, as I said, was the cruelty with whic_e treated them, and the hatred with which they hated him.
  • We returned to Constantinople, and the following year, seventy-three, i_ecame known that Don John had seized Tunis and taken the kingdom from th_urks, and placed Muley Hamet in possession, putting an end to the hopes whic_uley Hamida, the cruelest and bravest Moor in the world, entertained o_eturning to reign there. The Grand Turk took the loss greatly to heart, an_ith the cunning which all his race possess, he made peace with the Venetians
  • (who were much more eager for it than he was), and the following year,
  • seventy-four, he attacked the Goletta and the fort which Don John had lef_alf built near Tunis. While all these events were occurring, I was labourin_t the oar without any hope of freedom; at least I had no hope of obtaining i_y ransom, for I was firmly resolved not to write to my father telling him o_y misfortunes. At length the Goletta fell, and the fort fell, before whic_laces there were seventy-five thousand regular Turkish soldiers, and mor_han four hundred thousand Moors and Arabs from all parts of Africa, and i_he train of all this great host such munitions and engines of war, and s_any pioneers that with their hands they might have covered the Goletta an_he fort with handfuls of earth. The first to fall was the Goletta, until the_eckoned impregnable, and it fell, not by any fault of its defenders, who di_ll that they could and should have done, but because experiment proved ho_asily entrenchments could be made in the desert sand there; for water used t_e found at two palms depth, while the Turks found none at two yards; and s_y means of a quantity of sandbags they raised their works so high that the_ommanded the walls of the fort, sweeping them as if from a cavalier, so tha_o one was able to make a stand or maintain the defence.
  • It was a common opinion that our men should not have shut themselves up in th_oletta, but should have waited in the open at the landing-place; but thos_ho say so talk at random and with little knowledge of such matters; for if i_he Goletta and in the fort there were barely seven thousand soldiers, ho_ould such a small number, however resolute, sally out and hold their ow_gainst numbers like those of the enemy? And how is it possible to help losin_ stronghold that is not relieved, above all when surrounded by a host o_etermined enemies in their own country? But many thought, and I thought s_oo, that it was special favour and mercy which Heaven showed to Spain i_ermitting the destruction of that source and hiding place of mischief, tha_evourer, sponge, and moth of countless money, fruitlessly wasted there to n_ther purpose save preserving the memory of its capture by the invincibl_harles V; as if to make that eternal, as it is and will be, these stones wer_eeded to support it. The fort also fell; but the Turks had to win it inch b_nch, for the soldiers who defended it fought so gallantly and stoutly tha_he number of the enemy killed in twenty-two general assaults exceeded twenty-
  • five thousand. Of three hundred that remained alive not one was take_nwounded, a clear and manifest proof of their gallantry and resolution, an_ow sturdily they had defended themselves and held their post. A small fort o_ower which was in the middle of the lagoon under the command of Don Jua_anoguera, a Valencian gentleman and a famous soldier, capitulated upon terms.
  • They took prisoner Don Pedro Puertocarrero, commandant of the Goletta, who ha_one all in his power to defend his fortress, and took the loss of it so muc_o heart that he died of grief on the way to Constantinople, where they wer_arrying him a prisoner. They also took the commandant of the fort, Gabri_erbellon by name, a Milanese gentleman, a great engineer and a very brav_oldier. In these two fortresses perished many persons of note, among whom wa_agano Doria, knight of the Order of St. John, a man of generous disposition,
  • as was shown by his extreme liberality to his brother, the famous John Andre_oria; and what made his death the more sad was that he was slain by som_rabs to whom, seeing that the fort was now lost, he entrusted himself, an_ho offered to conduct him in the disguise of a Moor to Tabarca, a small for_r station on the coast held by the Genoese employed in the coral fishery.
  • These Arabs cut off his head and carried it to the commander of the Turkis_leet, who proved on them the truth of our Castilian proverb, that "though th_reason may please, the traitor is hated;" for they say he ordered those wh_rought him the present to be hanged for not having brought him alive.
  • Among the Christians who were taken in the fort was one named Don Pedro d_guilar, a native of some place, I know not what, in Andalusia, who had bee_nsign in the fort, a soldier of great repute and rare intelligence, who ha_n particular a special gift for what they call poetry. I say so because hi_ate brought him to my galley and to my bench, and made him a slave to th_ame master; and before we left the port this gentleman composed two sonnet_y way of epitaphs, one on the Goletta and the other on the fort; indeed, _ay as well repeat them, for I have them by heart, and I think they will b_iked rather than disliked.
  • The instant the captive mentioned the name of Don Pedro de Aguilar, Do_ernando looked at his companions and they all three smiled; and when he cam_o speak of the sonnets one of them said, "Before your worship proceeds an_urther I entreat you to tell me what became of that Don Pedro de Aguilar yo_ave spoken of."
  • "All I know is," replied the captive, "that after having been i_onstantinople two years, he escaped in the disguise of an Arnaut, in compan_ith a Greek spy; but whether he regained his liberty or not I cannot tell,
  • though I fancy he did, because a year afterwards I saw the Greek a_onstantinople, though I was unable to ask him what the result of the journe_as."
  • "Well then, you are right," returned the gentleman, "for that Don Pedro is m_rother, and he is now in our village in good health, rich, married, and wit_hree children."
  • "Thanks be to God for all the mercies he has shown him," said the captive;
  • "for to my mind there is no happiness on earth to compare with recovering los_iberty."
  • "And what is more," said the gentleman, "I know the sonnets my brother made."
  • "Then let your worship repeat them," said the captive, "for you will recit_hem better than I can."
  • "With all my heart," said the gentleman; "that on the Goletta runs thus."