THOUGH the Moors were always hated in Spain, first as a conquering and afterwards as a conquered race, yet many poetical traces of their traditions and maxims remain in the popular literature of the country; and in some of these they appear in a very advantageous light, though, of course, the national hatred loved rather to record those of a contrary import.
Issy-ben-Aran was a venerable muleteer, well-known in all the towns of Granada for his worth and integrity--an elder and a father among his tribe.
One day, as he was journeying over a wild and sequestered track of the Sierra Nevada, he heard a cry of pain proceeding from the road-side. The good old man immediately turned back to render help to the unfortunate. He found a young man lying among the sharp points of an aloe hedge, groaning as if at the last gasp.
"What ails thee? Son, speak," said Issy-ben-Aran.
"I was journeying along the road, father, an hour agone, as full of health as you may be, when I was set upon by six robbers, who knocked me off my mule, and not satisfied with carrying off all I possessed in the world, beat me till they thought I was dead, and then flung my body into this aloe hedge."
Issy-ben-Aran gave him a draught of water from his own bota  and bound his head with linen cloths steeped in fresh water, then he set him on his own beast to carry him at a gentle pace to the nearest town and further care for him, with great strain of his feeble arms lifting him tenderly into the saddle.
No sooner was the stranger well mounted, with his feet firmly set in the stirrups, than, drawing himself up with no further appearance of weakness, he dug his heels into the horse's side, and setting up a loud laugh, started off at a rapid gallop.
Issy-ben-Aran, to whom every stone of the road was known as the lines upon his right hand, immediately scrambled down the mountain-side, so as to confront the stranger at the turning of the road.
"Hold!" he cried. And the nag, who loved his master well, stood still and refused to move for all the stranger's urging.
"Son! think not I am come to reproach you," said the old man. "If you desire the horse, even take it at a gift; you shall not burden your conscience with a theft on my account."
"Thank you!" scoffed the heartless stranger. "It is fine to make a merit of necessity; but I have nothing to do but ride to the nearest town, and sell the brute."
"Beware! and do it not," said the old man. "The nag of Issy-ben-Aran is known at every market in the kingdom, and any man of all our tribes who frequents them, finding you with him, will reckon you have killed me, and slay you in turn. Even for this have I come to you: take this scroll to show that you have it of me as a free gift, and so no harm shall come to you.
"Only one condition I exact. Bind yourself to me, that you tell no man of what has passed between us; lest peradventure, should it become known, a man hearing his brother cry out in distress might say, 'This man is feigning, that he may take my horse like the horse of Issy-ben-Aran,' and the man who is really in danger be thus left to perish miserably."