Patrañas; or, Spanish Stories, Legendary and Traditional | Annotated Tale

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El Conde Fernan Gonzalez

CONDE Fernan Gonzalez was a bold lance. Restless as brave; when not engaged in chasing the Moors, he kept his appetite for noble exploits whetted with the dangers of the chase.

               One day, the furious course of a wild boar, and his own impetuosity in the pursuit, led him far away from his companions, and the hills and leafy oaks of Lara soon hid him from sight. On went the boar, and on went the Conde after him, till, in the thickest of the forest, the brute took refuge in a hermit's cell long deserted and forgotten, and overgrown with ivy. The trees grew so close round the spot, that the horse could not go through for the low interlacing branches, so Gonzalez dismounted, taking his sword in his hand, and wrapping his cloak round his arm by way of shield [1]. Cutting his way through to the low doorway, he found the boar lying panting at the foot of a little altar which was there.

               The good Count would not hurt the animal under such circumstances, so he put up his sword into the sheath, and, before he turned to go, knelt to offer up a prayer upon the sacred spot.

               Suddenly, as he knelt, there appeared before him a vision of the former inhabitant of the place. He was a venerable man, dressed in white, with bald head and a long grey beard, his feet were bare and he leant upon a crook.

               "Good Conde Fernan Gonzales," he said, "Behold, the King Almanzor [2] is even now preparing to come out to meet thee. Now, go out and give him battle, and be of good heart; for though thou shalt be badly wounded, and the infidels shall spill much of thy blood, yet shall a hundred of them fall for one of thine. God guard thee, Conde, and that which thou shalt do this day shall resound throughout all Spain. But this sign must come to pass first; and when it is fulfilled do not lose courage, for all that are with thee shall be stricken with fear and ready to flee away; but only stand thou fast, and the day shall be given thee. After that shall come days of peace; and a good wife shall be given thee, who shall be called Sancha. And now return to Lara, for thy people are seeking thee with fear and anxiety; and when these things come to pass, remember the hermit who foretold them."

               Then, without answering him a word, the good Count rose from his knees, and, mounting his horse, rode back to Lara. There he found his people, all running hither and thither in search of him. But he, without telling them what had befallen, ranged them in order of battle, and went out to meet King Almanzor.

               Thus they went their way, and sure enough they were none too soon; for even as the hermit had said, King Almanzor was on his way to meet him.

               When the followers of Gonzalez saw the host that was marching towards them, they were stricken with fear, for they were but a handful. But Gonzalez, seeing their disorder, turned and said to them, "It is a shame, noble Castilian knights, to flee at sight of an infidel host; for who is there that can stand against our banner and our arms? At them! my friends, at them! Let there be not one of us wanting!"

               With that he set spurs to his charger, and rode into the midst of the Moors; and he did so valiantly, that all his followers dashed into them with like impetuosity, and none could stand before them; and for one of them that was slain, a hundred of the infidels lay stretched upon the ground. But the good Conde was wounded, and his blood was poured out upon the ground; yet they pushed their way into the camp, where they found much precious spoil.

               And when they divided the treasure, Gonzalez remembered the hermit, and set aside a portion of his share; and with it he built the church of San Pedro de Arlanza.



[1] A common practice of Spaniards, even in street fights, to the present day. 

[2] A formidable leader of the Moors in Spain of the tenth and eleventh centuries. 

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: El Conde Fernan Gonzalez
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel
Book Title: Patrañas; or, Spanish Stories, Legendary and Traditional
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel
Publisher: Griffith and Farran
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1870
Country of Origin: Spain
Classification: unclassified

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