The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom HTML version

Chapter 26
The History Of The Noble Castilian.
I should be ungrateful, as well as unwise, did I longer resist the desire you
express to know the particulars of that destiny which hath driven me to this
miserable disguise, and rendered me in all considerations the most wretched of
men. I have felt your friendship, am confident of your honour, and though my
misfortunes are such as can never be repaired, because I am utterly cut off from
hope, which is the wretch's last comfort, yet I may, by your means, be enabled to
bear them with some degree of fortitude and resignation.
Know then, my name is not Ali; neither am I of Persian extraction. I had once the
honour to own myself a Castilian, and was, under the appellation of Don Diego
de Zelos, respected as the head of one of the most ancient families of that
kingdom. Judge, then, how severe that distress must be, which compels a
Spaniard to renounce his country, his honours, and his name. My youth was not
spent in inglorious ease, neither did it waste unheeded in the rolls of fame.
Before I had attained the age of nineteen, I was twice wounded in battle. I once
fortunately recovered the standard of the regiment to which I belonged, after it
had been seized by the enemy; and, at another occasion, made shift to save the
life of my colonel, when he lay at the mercy of an enraged barbarian.
He that thinks I recapitulate these particulars out of ostentation, does wrong to
the unhappy Don Diego de Zelos, who, in having performed these little acts of
gallantry, thinks he has done nothing, but simply approved himself worthy of
being called a Castilian. I mean only to do justice to my own character, and to
make you acquainted with one of the most remarkable incidents of my life. It was
my fate, during my third campaign, to command a troop of horse in the regiment
of Don Gonzales Orgullo, between whom and my father a family feud had long
been maintained with great enmity; and that gentleman did not leave me without
reason to believe he rejoiced at the opportunity of exercising his resentment
upon his adversary's son; for he withheld from me that countenance which my
fellow-officers enjoyed, and found means to subject me to divers mortifications,
of which I was not at liberty to complain. These I bore in silence for some time, as
part of my probation in the character of a soldier; resolved, nevertheless, to
employ my interest at court for a removal into another corps, and to take some
future opportunity of explaining my sentiments to Don Gonzales upon the
injustice of his behaviour.
While I animated myself with these sentiments against the discouragements I
underwent, and the hard duty to which I was daily exposed, it was our fate to be
concerned in the battle of Saragossa, where our regiment was so severely
handled by the English infantry, that it was forced to give ground with the loss of
one half of its officers and men. Don Gonzales, who acted as brigadier in another
wing, being informed of our fate, and dreading the disgrace of his corps, which
had never turned back to the enemy, put spurs to his horse, and, riding across
the field at full speed, rallied our broken squadrons, and led us back to the
charge with such intrepidity of behaviour, as did not fail to inspire us all with
uncommon courage and alacrity. For my own part, I thought myself doubly