Sidor som bilder



troduced us to Don Juan Lavanigna, an Italian from Genoa, banished on account of a revolution headed by the present king, then heir apparent, and intended to put him on the throne, but out of which he basely drew himself, leaving his followers to their fate. How the signor found his way to this place I did not learn, but he had not found peace; and, if I am not deceived, he was as anxious to get out of it as ever he was to leave Genoa.

On our return to the convent we found the cura, who gave us personally the welcome assured to us by his housekeeper. With him was a respectable-looking Indian, bearing the imposing title of Gobernador, being the Indian alcalde ; and it was rather singular that, in an hour after our arrival at Quezaltenango, we had become acquainted with the four surviving victims of Carrera's wrath, all of whom had narrowly escaped death at the time of the outrage, the rumour of which reached us at Guatimala. The place was still quivering under the shock of that event. We had heard many of the particulars on the road, and in Quezaltenango, except the parties concerned, no one could speak of anything else.

On the first entry of Morazan's soldiers into the plaza at Guatimala, in an unfortunate moment, a courier was sent to Quezaltenango to announce the capture of the city. The effect there was immediate and decided ; the people rose upon the garrison left by Carrera, and required them to lay down their arms. The corregidor, not wishing to fire upon the townsmen, and finding it would be impossible with his small force to repress the insurrection, by the advice of the cura and Don Juan Lavanigna, to prevent bloodshed and a general massacre, induced the soldiers to lay down their arms and leave the town. The same night the municipality, without his knowledge, nominated Don Juan Lavanigna as commandant. He refused to serve; but the town was in a violent state of excitement, and they urged him to accept for that night only, representing that if he did not the fury of the populace would be di. rected against him. The same night they made a pronunciamento in favour of Morazan, and addressed a letter of congratulation to him, which they despatched immediately by an Indian courier. It will be remembered, however, that in the mean time Morazan had been driven out of Guatimala, and that Carrera had pursued him in his flight. At the Antigua the latter met a dis. armed sergeant, who informed him of the proceedings at Quezaltenango, whereupon, abandoning his pursuit of Morazan, he marched directly thither. Early intel. ligence was received of his approach, and the corregidor, the cura, and Don Juan Lavanigna were sent as a deputation to receive him. They met him at Totonicapan. Carrera had heard on the road of their agency in inducing the soldiers to surrender their arms, and his first greeting was a furious declaration that their heads should lie at that place; laying aside his fanaticism and respect for the priests, he broke out against the cura in particular, who, he said, was a relative of Morazan. The cura said he was not a relative, but only a coun. tryman (which in that region means a townsman), and could not help the place of his birth ; but Carrera forthwith ordered four soldiers to remove him a few paces and shoot him on the spot. The gobernador, the old Indian referred to, threw himself on his knees and begged the cura's life; but Carrera drew his sword and struck the Indian twice across the shoulder, and the wounds were still unhealed when we saw him ; but he



desisted from his immediate purpose of shooting the cura, and delivered him over to the soldiers. Don Juan Lavanigna was saved by Carrera's secretary, who exhibited in El Tiempo, the government paper of Guatimala, an extract from a letter written by Don Juan to a friend in Guatimala, praising Carrera's deportment on his previous entry into Quezaltenango, and the discipline and good behaviour of his troops.

Early the next morning Carrera marched into Quezaltenango, with the cura and Don Juan as prisoners. The municipality waited upon him in the plaza ; but, unhappily, the Indian intrusted with the letter to Morazan had loitered in the town, and at this unfortunate moment presented it to Carrera. Before his secretary had finished reading it, Carrera, in a transport of fury, drew his sword to kill them on the spot with his own hand, wounded Molina, the alcalde-mayor, and two other members of the municipality, but checked himself and ordered the soldiers to seize them. He then rode to the corregidor, where he again broke out into fury, and drew his sword upon him. A woman in the room threw herself before the corregidor, and Carrera struck around her several times, but finally checked himself again, and ordered the corregidor to be shot unless he raised five thousand dollars by contributions upon the town. Don Juan and the cura he had locked up in a room with the threat to shoot them at five o'clock that afternoon unless they paid him one thousand dollars each, and the former two hundred, and the latter one hundred to his secretary. Don Juan was the principal merchant in the town, but even for him it was difficult to raise that sum. The poor cura told Carrera that he was not worth a cent in the world except his furniture and books. No one was allowed to visit him except the old housekeeper who first told us the story. Many of his friends had fled or hidden themselves away, and the old housekeeper ran from place to place with notes written by him, begging five dollars, ten dollars, anything she could get. One old lady sent him a hundred dollars. At four o'clock, with all his efforts, he had raised but seven hundred dollars ; but, after undergoing all the mental agonies of death, when the cura had given up all hope, Don Juan, who had been two hours at liberty, made up the deficiency, and he was released.

The next morning Carrera sent to Don Juan to borrow his shaving apparatus, and Don Juan took them over himself. He had always been on good terms with Carrera, and the latter asked him if he had got over his fright, talking with him as familiarly as if nothing had happened. Shortly afterward he was seen at the win. dow playing on a guitar; and in an hour thereafter, eighteen members of the municipality, without the slightest form of trial, not even a drum-head court-martial, were taken out into the plaża and shot. They were all the very first men in Quezaltenango; and Molina, the alcalde-mayor, in family, position, and character was second to no other in the republic. His wise was clinging to Carrera's knees, and begging for his life when he passed with a file of soldiers. She screamed “Robertito ;" he looked at her, but did not speak. She shrieked and fainted, and before she recovered her husband was dead. He was taken around the corner of the house, seated on a stone, and despatched at once. The others were seated in the same place, one at a time; the stone and the wall of the house were still red with their blood. I was told that Carrera shed tears for the death of the first two, but for the rest he said he did not care. Heretofore, in all their revolutions, there

[blocks in formation]


had been some show of regard for the tribunals of justice, and the horror of the citizens at this lawless murder of their best men cannot be conceived. The facts were notorious to everybody in Quezaltenango. We heard them, with but little variation of detail, from more than a dozen different persons.

Having consummated this enormity, Carrera returned to Guatimala, and the place had not yet recovered from its consternation. It was considered a blow at the whites, and all feared the horrors of a war of castes. I have avoided speaking harshly of Carrera when I could. I consider myself under personal obligations to him, and without his protection I never could have travelled through the country; but it is difficult to suppress the feelings of indignation excited against the government, which, conscious of the enormity of his conduct and of his utter contempt for them, never dared call hiin to account, and now cajoles and courts him, sustaining it. self in power by his favour alone.

To return to the cura : he was about forty-five, tall, stout, and remarkably fine-looking; he had several curacies under his charge, and next to a canonigo's, his position was the highest in the country; but it had its labours. He was at that time engrossed with the ceremonies of the Holy Week, and in the evening we accompanied him to the church. At the door the coup d'æil of the interior was most striking. The church was two hundred and fifty feet in length, spacious and lofty, richly decorated with pictures and sculptured or. naments, blazing with lights, and crowded with In. dians. On each side of the door was a grating, behind which stood an Indian to receive offerings. The floor was strewed with pine-leaves. On the left was the fig. ure of a dead Christ on a bier, upon which every woman


« FöregåendeFortsätt »