He had received information from his adalides, who were apostate Moors, that an incursion might be safely made into a mountainous region near Malaga called the Axarquia. Here were valleys of pasture-land well stocked with flocks and herds, and there were numerous villages and hamlets, which would be an easy prey.
Murray, impatiently, darting an angry glance at the servant. "I did, ma'am, but they said they would wait." As Estelle folded up her napkin and slipped it into the silver ring, she looked furtively at St. Elmo, who, holding up a bunch of purple grapes, said in an indifferent tone to his mother: "The vineyards of Axarquia show nothing more perfect.
A rout of the Spaniards in the Axarquia was followed by the capture of Boabdil in a rout of the Moors; he was ransomed, accepting an ignominious treaty, while the war was maintained against Abdul Hacen. In the summer of 1487, Malaja fell, after a siege in which signal heroism was displayed by the Moorish defenders. Since they had refused the first offers, they now had to surrender at discretion.
The good marques had another motive for his advice, becoming a true and loyal knight. In the deep dungeons of Ronda languished several of his companion-in-arms who had been captured in the defeat in the Axarquia. To break their chains and restore them to liberty and light he felt to be his peculiar duty as one of those who had most promoted that disastrous enterprise.
At the same time that he received this reply the king learnt that at the strong town of Comares, upon a height about two leagues distant from the camp, a large number of warriors had assembled from the Axarquia, the same mountains in which the Christian cavaliers had been massacred in the beginning of the war, and that others were daily expected, for this rugged sierra was capable of furnishing fifteen thousand fighting-men.
As the night closed in they reached the chain of little valleys and hamlets locked up among these rocky heights, and known among the Moors by the name of the Axarquia. Here their vaunting hopes were destined to meet with the first disappointment.
The capture of Velez Malaga was followed by the surrender of Bentomiz, Comares, and all the towns and fortresses of the Axarquia, which were strongly garrisoned, and discreet and valiant cavaliers appointed as their alcaydes.
He had received from him a particular account of these mountains of the Axarquia.* Their savage and broken nature was a sufficient defence for the fierce people who inhabited them, who, manning their rocks and their tremendous passes, which were often nothing more than the deep dry beds of torrents, might set whole armies at defiance. Even if vanquished, they afforded no spoil to the victor.
Many of the cavaliers were exasperated against Malaga for its long resistance, which had caused the death of many of their relatives and favorite companions. It had long been a stronghold also for Moorish depredators and the mart where most of the warriors captured in the Axarquia had been exposed in triumph and sold to slavery.
For forty days did they continue on like a consuming fire, leaving a smoking and howling waste to mark their course, until, weary with the work of destruction, and having fully sated their revenge for the massacre of the Axarquia, they returned in triumph to the meadows of Antiquera.