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The Tale Of The Cid

In the year 1025, when Canute the Dane was sitting on the throne of

England, there was born in the ancient Spanish city of Burgos a baby, to

whom was given the name of Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar. He came of noble blood

on both sides of the House, and his forefathers had borne some of the

highest offices of the land, and from his childhood the boy had been

taught that it was his duty never to fall one whit behind them in

age and in honour. As he grew older, he burned more and more for a

chance to show the metal of which he was made, and longed to join the

companies of knights that were ever going forth to fight the Arabs, who

for nearly four hundred years had reigned over the fairest provinces of

Spain. But to all his prayers, his father, Don Diego Lainez, turned a

deaf ear.

* * * * *

'Wait, wait, my son!' he would say; 'the little shoot must first grow

into a tree. Go now and practise that sword-thrust in which you failed


It was when he was sixteen that the longed-for opportunity came.

Don Diego Lainez, now old and weak, had gone to do his homage to King

Fernando, who had managed to unite the small kingdoms of Northern Spain

under his banner. Some dispute arose between him and the powerful count,

Don Lozano Gomez, probably as to which had the right to pass first into

the presence of their king, and in the presence of the whole court Don

Lozano spoke words of deadly insult to the old man, and even gave him a

buffet on the cheek. The courtiers all cried shame, and Don Diego's hand

clutched the pommel of his sword, but his rage had deprived him of the

little strength that remained, and he was powerless to draw it. At this

the count laughed scornfully, and, bowing mockingly to the king, who

held it best that men should settle their own quarrels, rode away to his

castle. Then, without another word, Don Diego turned and mounted his

horse and set out homewards.

A broken man and older by ten years was he when he entered his hall, but

many days passed before any could guess what had wrought this change in

him. All night he lay awake staring into the darkness, and when food was

brought him it was carried away untasted, and his wife whispered to her

ladies, 'If we rouse him not he will surely die! Would that I knew what

has stricken him like this?'

Fifteen days went by in this manner, and none thought to see him leave

his bed again, when one morning he strode into the hall with some of the

fire of his former years, and called his sons to him. One by one he

signed to each to draw near, and taking their soft hands in his palms,

pressed so hard that the boys cried to him to loosen his grasp, or they

would die of the pain. But when he came to Rodrigo, he heard no prayers

of mercy from _him_, only threats and hot words uttered with blazing

eyes and cheeks burning with anger. And the old man wept for joy, and


'Thou art indeed my true son; your rage calms me, your fury heals me. It

is you who will redeem my honour, which I held lost.' And then he told

the youth the tale of what had passed at court.

'Take my blessing,' were his last words, 'and take this sword also,

which shall deal the count his death-blow. After that, you shall do

greater deeds still.'

Young though he was, Rodrigo had heard enough of war to know Lozano

Gomez would not prove an easy prey; but, easy or not, he meant to

fight him. So, vowing to his sword that should he ever bring dishonour

on the weapon that had done his House good service, he would sheathe it

in his breast, he mounted his horse and rode to meet his foe.

'Is it a knightly or a brave deed, think you, to smite an old man who

cannot defend himself?' asked he. 'But when you dealt that blow you may

have thought that his sons were yet in their cradles, and that there was

none to avenge him. Well, traitor, you are wrong. _I_ am his son, and

his honour is mine, so look to yourself, lest I take your head home with


And Gomez laughed to hear him, and bade him cease crowing like a young

cock, but a furious onslaught from Rodrigo cut his words short, and

hardly did he escape being unhorsed. Before he had steadied himself in

the saddle Rodrigo had charged again, and this time his enemy was borne

to the ground.

'So may all dastards die!' cried the victor, as he cut off his head.

* * * * *

Don Diego Lainez was sitting at the table in his great hall, the tears

rolling down his cheeks as the shameful scene of his dishonour rose up

before him. Suddenly a clatter of hoofs was heard in the courtyard, and

the doors swung open. The men-at-arms gathered round the board rose to

their feet as Rodrigo entered, carrying the head of Count Gomez by the

long front lock. Taking Don Diego by the arm, he shook him roughly:

'Open your eyes wide, my father, and raise your head, and let your heart

be merry, for I have cut down the poisonous weed; I have stamped out the

plague-spot; the robe of your honour is stainless as of yore.'

For a moment the old man kept silence, and then he looked up, his face


'Son of my heart,' he said, 'it is enough. From henceforth the seat of

honour is yours, and you shall take my place as the head of my House.'

From that day the young knights vied with each other in gaining leave to

ride in the train of Rodrigo Diaz, or 'the Cid' as he was afterwards

called, and to this name was later added the proud title of 'Campeador.'

Three hundred youths in splendid attire followed him to the court of

Fernando, when he went in his turn to do the king homage, and stood by

his side as he challenged anyone of the blood of Count Lozano to fight

and avenge his death; but no one came. Then his father and his noble

company left their horses to kiss the hand of the king, but Rodrigo

remained in his saddle.

'Get down, get down, Rodrigo!' cried his father, fearing lest the king

should resent his rudeness. 'Swear fealty to thy lord, and kiss his

hand, as a loyal subject should do.'

Now, ever since he had fought with Count Gomez, Rodrigo had felt himself

to be a man, and, more than that, to be much greater than other men, and

he was not pleased to be scolded by his father in the presence of so

many people. Still, he was wise enough to know that it would do him no

good in the eyes of the nobles gathered round, to disobey his father,

and slowly he got down from his horse to do homage with the rest. But so

clumsy was he that, as he knelt, his sword nearly fell out of its

sheath, and the king, thinking Rodrigo meant to kill him, started back,


'Away, away! you devil! If you have the form of a man, your deeds are

those of a lion.'

'It is base to kiss the hand of such a craven,' answered Rodrigo in

anger, 'and I hold that my father has heaped disgrace on his family by

humbling himself in such a fashion!' And so saying, he rode away, with

his followers behind him.

A few centuries later a man might have lost his head for such words, but

in those days people were accustomed to speak their minds even to

kings, and little harm came of it. Six weeks later, Rodrigo had

forgotten all about it, and, what was more to the purpose, so had the

king, at any rate he pretended to do so, and when Don Diego sent his son

to do his business with Fernando, who was at Burgos, the young man went

willingly. The morning after he reached the city he was dining in the

hall of the palace with the king and his nobles, when word was brought

to the royal table that Ximena, the daughter of Count Gomez, and her

train stood at the gates, and demanded an audience of the king. Fernando

rose from his seat, and, signing to his nobles to follow him, he went to

meet Ximena.

A figure of woe was she, clothed all in black, even her face hidden by a

black veil. Throwing herself on her knees, she implored that justice

might be done on the murderer of her father, for not till then would the

stain be wiped out which had killed her mother and was killing her. 'He

rides to and fro under my lattice,' said she, 'and the hawk on his wrist

slays my doves, and my mantle is sprinkled with their blood. If you do

not do me right, O king, you are not fit to reign, or to call yourself a


Thus spake Ximena, and the king sat silent and pondered her words. 'I

cannot punish Don Rodrigo, either by imprisonment or death,' he said to

himself, 'for my nobles would not suffer it; I must find some other way

to satisfy Ximena.' Then turning to her, he bade her go home, and added

that no damsel should have cause to complain that wrong had been done

them at his hands.

Then Ximena rode away, and by-and-by Rodrigo departed also.

* * * * *

Six months later King Fernando was seated in the great hall of his

palace of Burgos, dispensing justice to high and low, when there entered

once more Ximena, followed by thirty esquires and pages.

'I come, though I know it is in vain,' she cried, when she had made her

way to the foot of the throne. 'Five times I have appeared to demand my

rights, and no longer will I be put off with empty words. No king are

you, who are swayed this way and that by every man that passes, and dare

not even avenge your friends, for fear of what may come of it.'

'Not so,' answered the king; 'but is there no other way by which your

quarrel may be appeased? Has Rodrigo on his side suffered no insult? You

have heard of the fame he has lately won, when he took captive the five

Moorish kings who broke suddenly into the land and ravaged it with fire

and sword. And to prove that it was fame and not gold he wanted he set

them all free, with only a promise of homage from them. Ah, if there

were but a few more like him, Spain would soon be rid of the Moors.

Happy is the woman he shall choose for his wife; she will live all her

days in safety and in honour.'

Then the king paused, and watched to see how Ximena took his words.

She was silent for some moments, but the king could not see her face, as

she had pulled her veil over it. Suddenly she raised her head, and cast

the veil back over her shoulders.

'It is true, O king, what you speak, and I will forego my vengeance.

Nay, I think my father himself would have it so. Give me Don Rodrigo for

my husband; all my days I will be a loyal wife to him, and his honour

shall be mine.'

Perhaps the king was not so surprised as some of his courtiers as they

listened to Ximena's request. If he smiled, his beard was thick enough

to hide it, and he answered gravely:

'You say well, my daughter, and I will to-day send a messenger bidding

Don Rodrigo meet me at Palencia, and I will give him lands and riches,

so that in wealth as in birth he may be equal to you.'

When the messengers reached Don Rodrigo, with the offer of Ximena's

hand, his heart was glad, and, calling his friends to dress themselves

in their most splendid cloaks and brightest armour, he rode at their

head towards the city of Palencia. Ximena with her train was already in

the royal palace, and in the presence of the king the two plighted their

troth. But Rodrigo swore by the cross on his sword that the marriage

rite should not be fulfilled till he had beaten five foes in the field,

and, leaving Ximena under the care of his mother, he bade her farewell,

and set forth to accomplish his vow.

However, he was not destined to be absent very long, for in those days

enemies were not far to seek, and in less than two months the wedding

preparations began. His brothers took pride in arraying him themselves,

and buttoning on the doublet of black satin which his father had worn in

many of his battles, while over this he wore a jacket of stout leather

and a loose cloak lined with plush.

At the last he girded on his sword Tizona, the Dread of the World, then,

surrounded by his friends and his family, the bridegroom walked to the

court, where the king, the bishop, and all the nobles were awaiting him.

Soon the noise of trumpets was heard, and there entered Ximena dressed

in a robe of fine white cloth, brought from London across the seas, with

a border of silver embroidered on it. On her head was a close hood of

the same stuff, and high shoes of red leather were on her feet. Round

her neck was a necklace made of eight round medals, with a little figure

of St. Michael hanging from them.

Don Rodrigo went forward to lift Ximena from her horse, and kissed her,

whispering as he did so:

'It is true, O my lady, that I killed your father, but I did it in fair

fight, as man to man. And in his stead you shall have a husband that

will care for you and protect you to the end of your life.'

Now, although Don Rodrigo was married, he did not stay at home much more

than he had done in other days, and his sword was ever unsheathed in the

service of his king. He was the champion chosen by Fernando to meet in

single combat Martino Gonzalez, the stoutest knight in Spain, and decide

a quarrel between Castile and Aragon. The victory lay with Rodrigo, and

no sooner was the duel over than he rode off to fight the Moors in the

North of Spain. At length the patience of Ximena was worn out, and she

wrote a letter to Fernando in which she told him plainly all that was in

her mind.

'What was the use,' she asked, 'of her marrying Rodrigo if the king kept

him for ever engaged in his service, and away from her?' She had no

father, and might as well have no husband, and she implored his master

to think upon her loneliness, and to let Rodrigo return to her side.

But the king would make no promises, and by-and-by Ximena had a little

girl to comfort her, to whom Fernando stood godfather.

It seems strange that after these great deeds King Fernando never

thought of making Don Rodrigo a knight, but so it was. Not till the long

siege of the city of Coimbra was ended, and the Moorish mosque turned

into a Christian church, was the order of knighthood conferred on Don

Rodrigo in return for the mighty works that he had done. But Don Rodrigo

knew well that his sword-thrusts would have availed him nothing had it

not been for the aid of a Greek bishop who dreamed when at the shrine of

St. James that the gates of the city would only fall when a successor of

the Apostle should appear before them. So the bishop arose and clad

himself in armour and rode into the Christian hosts, and as he drew

near, the walls fell down like Jericho of old, and the army entered in


After this the Cid, as men now called him, from a Moorish word which

meant a man of great valour and fame, went home for a short space to see

his wife and his little daughter, who by this time was seven years old

and had never beheld her father. Rest was sweet to Don Rodrigo, but

before it could grow irksome to him he was summoned to court by the

death of Fernando, who left all his children under the wardship of the

Cid. Unluckily, the old man's will had not been a wise one, and bitter

quarrels soon raged between the new king Sancho and his brothers and

sisters. In vain Don Rodrigo tried to heal the feuds, but war soon broke

out, and by his oath of allegiance he was forced, sorely against his

wish, to fight under the king's banner. By his aid Sancho despoiled his

two brothers and one of his sisters of the lands which were theirs by

right, but when the king demanded that he should go as envoy and bid the

princess Dona Urraca yield up her town of Zamora in exchange for much

gold, the Cid prayed him to send someone else, for he could not take

arms against the princess whom he had known when they were children

together. His words, however, were useless. The king would listen to

nothing, and the Cid rode forth to Zamora with a heavy heart. Silently

he bore the reproaches of Dona Urraca, and returned in five days to tell

Fernando that the citizens of Zamora had sworn in his presence, that the

city would never be given up till they all lay dead upon her walls. This

answer so infuriated Don Sancho that he falsely accused the Cid of

having put the words into the mouths of his enemies, and bade him begone

out of the kingdom.

But a man like the Cid could not lightly be dismissed, and very soon the

king was forced to humble himself, and send messengers to beg his

forgiveness. The Campeador was too generous to bear malice, and rode

joyfully back, to find Sancho besieging Zamora. And an ill day it was

for the king when he resolved to wrest his sister's possessions from

her; for one of her citizens, spurred by love to his lady, gained

admittance into the royal camp and offered to betray the city. A

councillor of the princess, the old Arias Gonzalo, cried to the king

from the walls to lend no ear unto the man's words, for he was a

traitor; but Dolfos had a wily tongue, and easily persuaded Sancho to

come with him to see the small door across the trench by which the army

might enter. They were hardly outside the camp when Dolfos struck him

between the shoulders with his spear, and the king rolled in his death

agony on the ground. The sight was seen by Don Rodrigo, who had watched

eagerly and anxiously the movements of Dolfos, and now sprang towards

the traitor with his drawn sword. But Dolfos was too quick for him, and

the postern was flung open by some of the men of Zamora, before the Cid

could get across the trench.

'Oh, fool was I not to have fastened on my spurs, and then I should have

caught him!' cried Don Rodrigo shaking with rage, as he turned sadly

back to stand by the bedside of his dying master, waiting for the

vengeance which the future would bring.

* * * * *

Now directly she heard that King Sancho was dead, Dona Urraca, his

sister, the lady of Zamora, sent the tidings to her brother, Don

Alfonso, in exile at Toledo.

'We have been sent to summon you, King Alfonso,' said the messengers

when they found him, falling on their knees as they spoke. 'Don Sancho

was foully stabbed by Bellido el Dolfos, and the men of Castile and Leon

call on you to take his place. Don Rodrigo only hangs back, and swears

he will never take the oath of fealty till you have proved that you had

no part in the murder of your brother.'

Don Alfonso felt glad at their words. He had received nothing but ill at

the hands of his brother, and he hurried to place himself at the head of

the army of Castile. But the Arab ruler was not willing to let him go,

and many days passed before he was able to escape at night, climbing

silently with a few followers down the walls of Toledo; then, turning

the shoes on the feet of their horses, so that the track should point

south instead of north, they made the best of their way to Zamora.

The nobles received the king with joy, and, kneeling to kiss his hand,

vowed to be true to him. The Cid alone held aloof.

'You are heir to the throne, Don Alfonso,' said he, 'but before I bend

the knee to you I demand that you and twelve of your vassals shall swear

that you are innocent, in deed or in word, of the blood of your


'I will swear it,' answered Alfonso, 'when and where you please, and

twelve men of Leon shall swear it likewise.'

'You shall swear to me in the holy cathedral of Santa Gadea in Burgos,'

said the Cid; and thither they all rode silently and solemnly, while Don

Rodrigo, standing at the altar, held out the crucifix to the kneeling

king. But though the oath was taken freely, both by Alfonso and his

vassals, deep in the heart of the Cid lay a doubt of his truth.

'You shall swear it thrice,' he said, and Alfonso, devoured as he was

with rage, knew the Cid's power too well to disobey, though his face

grew pale with wrath.

'You shall answer for this,' he cried as he rose to his feet, and from

that day the king never ceased to seek for an excuse to compass Don

Rodrigo's banishment. At last he found one.

The Moorish king of Toledo laid a complaint against the Cid that, in

spite of his alliance with Alfonso of Castile, his lands had been

ravaged and his people made captive. Well Alfonso knew that it was the

Moors themselves who had broken faith with him, and had wasted the

Spanish territories which lay along their borders, but he eagerly

snatched at the plea, and bade the Cid go, an exile, from Castile, while

his possessions were declared forfeit.

With every insult heaped on him that the king could invent, the Cid left

the city and rode to his castle of Bivar, only to find that his enemies

had been before him and had stripped it bare, while his wife and

children had sought refuge in the convent of San Pedro de Cardena.

It was on his way thither that the Cid in his dire distress did the one

mean deed recorded of him, which he never ceased to bewail during his

life, and afterwards on his deathbed. He had reckoned on finding money

for his needs at Bivar, and there was none, and he knew not what to do.

In this strait he invited two rich Jews to his tent under the walls of

Burgos, and, pointing to two large chests which stood on the ground, he

told the Jews that they were filled with silver plate, and begged that

they would take them, and give him a thousand crowns in exchange. The

Jews, used though they were to being cheated and despoiled by

Christians, yet trusted to the honour of the Cid, and counted out the

money. Then, placing the coffers on the backs of two stout mules, they

returned with them into Burgos, first promising that they would not open

them till a year had passed. At the time appointed they lifted the lid,

and, behold, the coffers were full of sand!'

But except in this matter, for which his repentance was bitter, the Cid

never ceased in his exile to be true to his knighthood, and in all the

wars which he and his followers made on the Moors he always sent part of

the spoils to Alfonso. At length the king found that he could not do

without him. Young knights there were in plenty, but neither in battle

nor in the council chamber could they vie with Don Rodrigo; so after

many years, when the Cid had captured strong cities and great towns

from the Moors, Alfonso sent messengers to say that he was willing to

pardon him. And the Cid vowed anew to serve him, but his heart was heavy

for the death of his only son in the siege of Consuegra.

From time to time the king's jealousy broke out afresh, and more than

once Don Rodrigo was banished, but in the end the Cid always returned to

Castile, for in truth, as we have said, the land prospered but little in

his absence. After conquering the Moors in Valencia and elsewhere, his

fame and wealth grew greater than ever, and two of the proudest nobles

in Castile, the counts of Carrion, prayed Alfonso to use his rights as

liege lord, and to grant them the Cid's daughters in marriage. Now, the

proposal pleased Don Rodrigo but little, and his wife even less. He knew

something of the two young men who wished to be his sons-in-law, and he

felt that it was his wealth, and not his daughters, that was wooed.

Besides, he liked not the boastfulness of the two brothers, and feared

that beneath their proud and haughty ways the hearts of cowards might be

hidden. But outwardly all was fair-seeming, and when the king in a

meeting on the banks of the Tagus bade the Cid consider well the matter,

Don Rodrigo could only reply that, in his view, his daughters were as

yet too young to be wedded, but that they and all that belonged to him

were in the hands of the king, to be dealt with as he thought best. To

which the king answered that he knew the maidens to be wise beyond their

years, and, summoning the counts of Carrion to his presence, he informed

them that he had resolved to grant their desire, and bade them kneel and

kiss the Cid's hand, which they did with joy. So the next day they all

rode back to Valencia, and the Cid made a feast for fifteen days, and

the marriage rite was performed by the Bishop Geronymo, mighty in


It was not long after the wedding that the counts showed of what metal

they were made, and that the Cid had read them truly. One evening they

and Don Bermudo, nephew of the Cid, were sitting laughing and jesting in

the hall of the castle, when a cry arose from without, 'Beware of the

lion; he has broken from his den'; and in an instant the huge beast had

sprung through the door. Don Bermudo sat still, waiting to see what the

lion would do, but Don Diego, the elder count, took refuge in a closet,

while Don Fernan, his brother, hid himself under the bed on which the

Cid was stretched sleeping. The noise awoke Don Rodrigo, who sprang up,

when the lion at once lay down on the ground and began to lick his feet.

The Cid stooped and stroked its head, then calling to the beast to

follow, he led it back to its den, which it entered quietly, for it knew

its master well.

'Where are my sons-in-law?' asked he as he entered. 'Methought I heard

their voices but a moment agone.'

'Here,' cried one of his nephews, and 'here' cried another, and the

counts were dragged forth, their fine clothes disordered and their faces

pale with fear.

The Cid looked at them silently, till they grew red with shame and


'Are these your wedding garments?' said he at last. 'Truly I should

scarce have guessed it'; and he passed on, leaving hate and a longing

for revenge in the young men's hearts.

* * * * *

The matter of the lion did not dwell long in the mind of the Cid, for

news was speedily brought him that the Moorish king of Morocco was

advancing with an army to besiege the fair city of Valencia. He quickly

gathered together a host large enough to give battle in the plain

outside the walls, but while mounting his horse Babieca he counselled

his sons-in-law to remain in safety behind the walls of the town. This

they would gladly have done, but dared not set at naught the mocking

eyes of the knights around them, so, clad in shining armour, they rode

forth with the rest. Hardly had the fight begun, when a Moor attacked

the younger brother, who turned and fled. Another instant and he would

have sunk to the ground, pierced by the enemy's lance, when Don Bermudo

suddenly appeared, and engaged the Moor in deadly combat. After a hard

struggle the infidel was overborne and slain, and the victor turned to

Don Fernan Gonzalez:

'Take his horse and his armour,' he said, 'and tell the Cid it was you

who killed him; I will not gainsay you.' And, as cowards are generally

liars also, Don Fernan gladly snatched at the crown of glory that

belonged to another.

Don Bermudo was rewarded for his generous deed when he saw the joy of

the Cid. Perhaps he had condemned them wrongly, thought Don Rodrigo, and

that the souls of men were at last awaking in them. So he praised them

for their valour, and if there were those present who could have told a

different tale, they held their peace.

* * * * *

But whether they were, perforce, following the Cid in the field, or

basking in the wealth and pleasures of Valencia, the counts of Carrion

never forgot or forgave the scorn they had read in the eyes of the Cid

on the day when they had hidden from the lion. Together they plotted to

take vengeance on them, and it was a vengeance as mean as their souls.

One morning they entered the great hall of Valencia, where the Cid was

sitting, and prayed him to give them their wives, and let them depart

forthwith to their lands. Their words were fair, yet the Cid felt

troubled; why, he knew not.

'I gave you my daughters to wife, at my king's bidding,' answered he at

last, 'and I cannot withhold them from you if indeed you desire to take

them unto your own lands. But see that they are treated as beseems

them; if not, woe to you.'

And the counts of Carrion, with treason in their hearts, promised that

all honour should await their brides.

Eight days hence, the procession passed out of the city gates, and the

Cid went first, with Dona Elvira on his right hand, and Dona Sol on his

left. For the space of a league he rode, and then he reined up his

horse. Calling his nephew Don Ordono to his side, he bade him follow

unperceived, and bring back news of what befell his daughters.

And so they parted.

For many miles the procession went slowly on, and was received with

kindness and hospitality by the great Moslem lords through whose country

the road lay, a kindness repaid whenever possible by theft and cruelty

by the counts of Carrion. Then, when they had reached a wood which was

neither in the lordship of the Cid nor of the Moors, they felt that the

time for which they had so long waited was come. Ordering the guards and

attendants to ride forward to the Castle of Carrion and prepare for

their reception, the counts scarcely delayed until they were out of

their sight before they dragged their wives from their mules, and

stripped their bodies bare. Next, seizing them by their hair, they flung

them to the ground, and dug their spurs into them till their bodies were

covered with blood.

'Farewell, beautiful damsels,' they cried mockingly, bowing low, 'you

were never fit mates for the counts of Carrion, and, besides, it was

needful to avenge the affront that the Cid your father put on us in the

matter of the fierce beast who would have slain us.' And, stooping low

from their horses, the base knights rode away.

From a distant hill Don Ordono had seen and heard all that had passed,

and he now came forth to help and comfort his cousins. 'Take heart,' he

said, 'I will bring you your lost garments, and if you have lost your

husbands, who deserve nothing better than the fate of traitors, remember

that you have yet a father, without a peer throughout the world.'

None can tell the wrath of the Cid when his daughters came home. Little

he said, for he was ever a man of few words, but he sent forthwith

messengers to the king, telling him of the base deeds of the counts of

Carrion, and begging for leave to plead his cause before the Parliament

at Toledo. This permission Alfonso granted gladly, and bade the counts

of Carrion to be present also and answer the Cid.

Many days they waited ere Don Rodrigo, accompanied by his wife and

daughters, and followed by a train of nobles, rode through the gates.

The king was sitting surrounded by the Cortes or Parliament, but he

desired that the Cid should be brought to him at once, and then

commanded him to set forth his wrongs.

'It is you, O king, and not I, who gave my daughters in marriage to

these base men, therefore it is you, and not I, who must answer for

this. I ask you that you will force them to restore my swords Colada and

Tizona that I girded on them when they bore my children from Valencia.'

And the hearts of the counts were glad when they heard his words, and

they hasted to place the gold-pommelled swords in the hands of the Cid.

Next, Don Rodrigo demanded that the dowries of his daughters should be

given back to him, and this also the king adjudged to be his right.

Last, he set forth the treatment his daughters had suffered from the

counts of Carrion, and challenged them and also their uncle, who had

ever given them evil counsel, to fight with three of his knights that


Before the combat could take place a sound as of armed men was heard in

the courtyard, and in rode two youths covered with golden armour and

tall plumed helmets, and one was Don Ramiro of Navarre, and the other

Don Sancho of Aragon.

'It has reached our ears,' said they, 'that the marriages between the

counts of Carrion and the daughters of the Cid are about to be set

aside, and we have come to pray that the ladies may be given to us to


And the king answered: 'If it pleases the Cid, it pleases me also, but

the Cortes here present must grant its consent.'

So the Cid kissed the hand of the king in token of the honour done him,

and the Cortes cried with one voice that the man who allied himself with

Don Rodrigo de Bivar was honoured above all. Therefore, the weddings

were celebrated without delay, the counts of Carrion having been

pronounced outlaws and their former marriages null and void.

This matter being settled, the king directed that there should be no

more delay in arranging the fight between the champions of the Cid and

the counts of Carrion, which at the request of the counts was to be held

three weeks later in their own castle. Don Rodrigo himself did not mean

to fight. His honour was, he knew, safe in the hands of Don Bermudo and

his other nephews, and he rode blithely home to Valencia. But Alfonso

declared that he would be present to see that the combat was fairly

fought, and it was well that he went, for the counts, thinking

themselves safe on their own lands, had planned treachery. However, the

king, mistrusting them, made a proclamation that in case of false

dealing the traitor should be slain upon the field, and his possessions

be forfeit. Baulked in this direction, the counts then entreated the

king to forbid their foes to use the swords Tizona and Colada which they

had been forced to give up, but Alfonso answered that it was now too

late to make conditions, and they must get to the fight with stout

hearts. This they could not do, for they had not got them, but, finding

there was no help for it, they mounted their horses and put their lances

in rest.

Between such adversaries the combat lasted but a short while. Fernan

Gonzalez was soon unhorsed by Don Bermudo; Don Diego and his uncle

confessed themselves vanquished. Their lands were declared forfeit by

the judges, though their lives were granted them; but the tale of their

cowardice spread far and wide, and none would speak to them or have

dealings with them.

Thus was the Cid avenged.

For five years the Cid lived on in Valencia wearied of wars, and turning

his thoughts to repenting him of his sins, and chief among them the

wrong he had done many years before to the two Jews of Burgos. His

strength grew daily less, till at length he could rise from his bed no

more, neither could he eat food. While he lay in this manner, tidings

were brought him that the Moors were preparing to besiege Valencia. This

news roused the dying man, and for a moment it seemed as if he might be

well again. Clearly he gave his orders how best to resist the attack,

and bade his followers fight under the banner of Bishop Geronymo. 'As

for me,' he said, 'you shall take my body and fill it with sweet spices,

and shall set me once more on Babieca, and place Tizona in my hand. With

cords shall you fasten me to the saddle, and so you shall lead me forth

to my last fight with the Moors. Ximena my wife will care for Babieca,

and when he is dead she will bury him where no Moorish dogs may root up

his grave. And let no women be hired to make mourning for me. I want no

tears to be shed over me but the tears of Ximena my wife. But for the

Christians in this city, well know I that they are too few men to

conquer the Moors, therefore let them prepare their goods, and steal

forth by night, and take refuge in Castile. So farewell to you all, and

pray that God may have mercy on my soul.'

Thus the Cid died, and all was done as he had said, and the king put

rich garments on him, and set Tizona in his hand, and seated him in a

carved chair by the altar of San Pedro de Cardena.