Pedro de Garza, 1480 AD
Don Hernan, a low ranking nobleman, arrives weary and distressed to the country home of a well-to-do fellow knight, Don Alberto, who is just sitting down to an evening merienda in the courtyard.
Don Alberto: Hernan! What is the matter with you? Something awful has happened! Sit, let me pour you some wine.
Don Hernan (sitting, listlessly accepting a cup of wine): Awful… You remember Don Pedro de Garza?
Don Alberto: The marrano lawyer? Heard he ran into some trouble with the Inquisition.
Don Hernan: He was executed this morning.
Don Alberto: Executed? Poor bastard. I figured he would just confess to whatever they were accusing him of, pay a fine, do his penance, and go back to cooking the books for the Duke.
Don Hernan: Seems he did not.
Don Alberto: But Hernan, I’ve never seen you so shaken. One marrano more or less…
Don Hernan: They burnt him, Alberto. Of course he passed out from the smoke and the heat before he really got cooking, but… I’ve seen executions, Alberto… nothing like this.
Don Alberto: I thought you hated Don Pedro.
Don Hernan: Por Dios! Of course I hated that cerdo marrano, I’m a true Spaniard, aren’t I? My people are originally from Asturias, never conquered by the Moors! My ancestors fought with Alfonso VI and El Cid! Of course I hated watching that bastard working for the Duke and dressing his wife in silk while I, a knight, have to scrape for every dollar… but I didn’t want to see the man dead. Not like that. Not really.
(The two men sit in silence for a while)
Don Alberto: Well, the marrano was a wealthy man. His poor children: since this was a capital case, of course, his property is now forfeit to the King…. He could have avoided it with a confession. Why do you think he didn’t confess?
Don Hernan: I don’t know. I’m sure they tried to rack a confession out of him… When they led him out of prison, you saw a shadow of a man: he was pale and thin. The common folk jeered. The mayor and Don Sancho, that fat cuervo of a priest, those two looked happy as pigs in shit. Only the Duke looked sorry.
Don Alberto: The Duke was sorry not because he cared about the marrano, but because he did not have the power to protect his own employee. The Duke is not a popular man in court nowadays.
Don Hernan: Really? What would I know. Too far above my head… But, Don Hernan, the things Don Pedro said. The Duke let him address the crowd… he acted for all the world like an innocent man.
Don Alberto: Naturally, he would act innocent.
Don Hernan: No, he spoke as if he were as innocent as you or I, as if he were a Spaniard. He said: My ancestor Issac bar-Jona arrived to Spain from Tunis in the times of Alfonso X, and lived in the service of that great king. My family has always lived under the protection of the kings of Spain. I have always boasted that I am a son of Abraham, (you can imagine the reaction of the crowds to that!) and count as my ancestors the very Patriarchs! Not only are the Patriarchs and Prophets my kin, so too is our blessed Lord and Savior! As too is the blessed Virgin, and Santiago Mata-Moros, and all the Apostles!
My great-grandfather received the waters of baptism by the hands of Vincent Ferrer himself. My maternal uncle served as Bishop of Valencia. Though I am not a knight, and have little training in arms, as a young man I rode against the Moors and killed one with my own blade in action outside Cordova. Though I am as much a sinner as any of you, never in my life have I missed a Mass or Holy Day. They accuse me of being a Jew in secret: I am openly a Jew in blood, a proud member of that noble race! But, doubly blessed, I am a Christian in faith! And it is as a Christian that I forgive you, my persecutors.
The crowd would have torn him to pieces right there had the Duke not been present with soldiers. They staked him, torched him, and the soldiers had to force Don Sancho to hold up the Cross so Don Pedro could look upon it as he died… the only thing Don Sancho hates more than real Jews are marranos. And the mayor, with his stupid peasant grin; never would you have thought death could make a man so happy.
Don Alberto: Well, the mayor would rather kill the Duke, but since he can’t, he will have to settle for the Duke’s marrano… Hernan, you believe the marrano was innocent? Well, no man is innocent… I mean, as innocent as a man can be?
Don Hernan: I don’t know… I believe that where there is smoke there is fire. I know that Jews are stubborn and black-hearted enough to put up with torture and go on pretending to be decent Christians even while staring death in the eye… Still, I hope King Ferdinand knows what he is doing.
Don Alberto: Hernan, I have always loved your straightforwardness. I too believe that the King knows perfectly well what he is doing.