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chapter 11
 On reaching the other side of the hill Manos-gordas descried in a glen, a short distance off, a corpulent Moor dressed in white, ploughing the black earth with the help of a fine yoke of oxen, in patriarchal fashion. This man, who seemed a statue of Peace carved in marble, was the morose and dreaded renegade, Ben-Munuza, the details of whose story would make the reader shudder with horror, if he were to hear them.
Suffice it for the present to say that he was some forty years old, that he was active, vigorous, and robust, and that he was of a gloomy cast of countenance, although his eyes were blue as the sky, and his beard yellow as the African sunlight, which had bronzed his originally fair complexion.
"Good-morning, Manos-gordas!" cried the renegade, as soon as he perceived the Moor.
And his voice expressed the melancholy pleasure the exile feels in a foreign land when he meets some one with whom he can converse in his native tongue.
"Good-morning, Juan Falgueira!" responded Ben-Carime, in ironical accents.
As he heard this name the renegade trembled from head to foot, and seizing the iron bar of the plough prepared to defend himself.
"What name is that you have just pronounced?" he said, advancing threateningly toward Manos-gordas.
The latter awaited his approach, laughing, and answered in Arabic, with a courage which no one would have supposed him to possess:
"I have pronounced your real name; the name you bore in Spain when you were a Christian, and which I learned when I was in Oran three years ago."
"In Oran?"
"Yes, in Oran. What is there extraordinary in that? You had come from Oran to Morocco; I went to Oran to buy hens. I inquired there concerning your history, describing your appearance, and some Spaniards living there related it to me. I learned that you were a Galician, that your name was Juan Falgueira, and that you had escaped from the prison of Granada, on the eve of the day appointed for your execution, for having robbed and murdered, fifteen years ago, a party of gentlemen, whom you were serving in the capacity of muleteer. Do you still doubt that I know who you are?"
"Tell me, my soul," responded the renegade, in a hollow voice, looking cautiously around, "have you related this story to any of the Moors? Does any one but yourself in this accursed land know it? Because the fact is, I want to live in peace, without having any one or anything to remind me of that fatal deed which I have well expiated. I am a poor man. I have neither family, nor country, nor language, nor even the God who made me left to me. I live among enemies, with no other wealth than these oxen and these fields, bought by the fruit of ten years' sweat and toil. Consequently, you do very wrong to come and tell me—"
"Hold!" cried Manos-gordas, greatly alarmed. "Don't cast those wolfish glances at me, for I come to do you a great service, and not to vex you needlessly. I have told your unfortunate story to no one. What for? Any secret may be a treasure, which he who tells gives away. There are, however, occasions in which an EXCHANGE OF SECRETS may be made with profit. For instance, I am going to tell you an important secret of mine, which will serve as security for yours, and which will oblige us to be friends for the rest of our lives."
"I am listening; go on," responded the renegade quietly.
Aben-Carime then read aloud the Arabic document, which Juan Falgueira listened to without moving a muscle of his still angry countenance. The Moor seeing this, in order to dispel his distrust, disclosed to him the fact that he had stolen the paper he had just read from a Christian in Ceuta.
The Spaniard smiled slightly to think how great must be the huckster's fear of him to cause him voluntarily to reveal to him his theft, and poor Manos-gordas, encouraged by Ben-Munuza's smile, proceeded to disclose his plans, in the following terms:
"I take it for granted that you understand perfectly well the importance of this document and the reason of my reading it to you. I know not where the Tower of Zoraya, nor Aldeire, nor El Cenet is, nor do I know how to go to Spain, nor should I be able to find my way through that country if I were there; besides which, the people would kill me for not being a Christian, or at least they would despoil me of the treasure after I had found it, if not before. For all these reasons, I require that a trusty and loyal Spaniard should accompany me, a man whose life shall be in my power, and whom I can send to the gallows with half a word; a man, in short like you, Juan Falgueira, who, after all, have gained nothing by robbing and murdering, since you are now toiling here like a donkey, when with the millions I am going to procure you, you can go to America, to France, or to India, and enjoy yourself, and live in luxury, and rise in time perhaps to be king. What do you think of my plan?"
"That it is well put together, like the work of a Moor," responded Ben-Munuza, in whose nervous hands, clasped behind his back, the iron bar swung back and forth like a tiger's tail.
Manos-gordas smiled with satisfaction, thinking that his proposition was already accepted.
"But," added the sombre Galician, "there is one thing you have not considered."
"And what is that?" asked Ben-Carime, throwing back his head with a comical expression, and fixing his eyes on vacancy, like one who is prepared to hear some trivial and easily answered objection.
"You have not considered that I should be an unmitigated fool if I were to accompany you to Spain to put you in possession of half a treasure, relying upon your putting me in possession of the other half. I say this because you would only have to say half a word the day we arrived at Aldeire, and you thought yourself free from danger, to rid yourself of my company and avoid giving me my half of the treasure, after it was found. In truth, you are not the clever man you imagine yourself to be, but only a simpleton deserving of pity, who have deliberately walked into a trap from which there is no escape, in telling me where this great treasure is to be found, and telling me at the same time that you know my history, and that if I were to accompany you to Spain you would there be absolute master of my life. And what need, then, have I of you? What need have I of your help to go and take possession of the entire treasure myself? What need have I of you in the world at all? Who are you, now that you have read me that document, now that I can take it from you?"
"What are you saying?" cried Manos-gordas, who all at once felt a chill, like that of death, strike to the marrow of his bones.
"I am saying—nothing. Take that!" replied Juan Falgueira, dealing Ben-Carime a tremendous blow on the head with the iron bar. The Moor rolled over on the ground, the blood gushing from his eyes, nose, and mouth, without uttering a single sound.
The unfortunate man was dead.


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