Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/28

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THE ROMANCE OF MEXICO

cruelty which the Spaniard wreaked on the heathen Indians in the New World across the seas.

As happens with all ignorant peoples dwelling among the wild and lonely mountains, the imagination of the Spanish Christians was vivid and had a strong superstitious bias. The saints often appeared in bodily form to aid them in their conflict with the Moors. A pious bishop, who was wont to rebuke his flock for calling St. James, or Santiago, a knight, for he was "a fisher who never rode, or even mounted a horse," fell one day into a trance, when there appeared to him, in shining armour, the apostle himself, bearing in his hands the key of a Moorish city besieged by the Spaniards. As the bishop gazed in wonder, Santiago mounted a snow-white horse and rode like "a goodly knight" three times round his own church. Ere he vanished he revealed to the bishop the day and hour at which the gate of the Moorish city would open to the Christians. The prophecy came true, and Santiago became thenceforth the patron saint of Spain, whom many a time and oft the conquerors of Mexico beheld in the forefront of a fight.

When the Spaniards were strong enough to wage war against the Moors on equal terms, their uncouth barbarity was tempered by the Moorish chivalry, and they gleaned almost insensibly something of the skill and knowledge of the Moslem. But beneath the knightly veneer they remained at heart still savage, rapacious, fanatical.

In the Cid Campeador, the national hero, half-legendary, half-historic, we find embodied the distinctive spirit of the Spaniard. By his valour in

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