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and that I had no necessity for remaining. 1 had a strong curiosity to see a city taken by assault, but, unfortunately, I had not the least possible excuse. I had my passport in my hand and my mules were ready. Nevertheless, before I reached Don Pedro's house I determined to remain. The captain had his sword and spurs on, and was only waiting for me. I told him the news, and he uttered an exclamation of thankfulness that we were all ready, and mounted immediately. I added that I intended to remain. He refused; said that he knew the sanguinary character of the people better than I did, and did not wish to see an affair without having a hand in it. I replied, and after a short controversy, the result was as usual between two obstinate men: I would not go and he would not stay. I sent my luggage-mules and servants under his charge, and he rode off, to stop for me at a hacienda on the road, while I unsaddled my horse and gave him another mess of corn.
In the mean time the news had spread, and great excitement prevailed in the city. Here there was no thought of flight; the spirit of resistance was general. The impressed soldiers were brought out from the prisons and furnished with arms, and drums beat through the streets for volunteers. On my return from the Government House I noticed a tailor on his board at work; when I passed again his horse was at the door, his sobbing wile was putting pistols in his holsters, and he was fastening on his spurs. Afterward I saw him mounted before the quartel, receiving a lance with a red flag, and then galloping off to take his place in the line. In two hours, all that the impoverished city could do was done. Vigil, the chief of the state, clerks, and household servants, were preparing for the last strug
gle. At twelve o'clock the city was as still as death. 1 lounged on the shady side of the plaza, and the quiet was fearful. At two o'clock intelligence was received that the troops of San Vicente had fallen back upon Cojutepeque, and that the Honduras troops had not yet come up. An order was immediately issued to make this the rallying-place, and to send thither the mustering of the city. About two hundred lancers set off from the plaza with a feeble shout, under a burning sun, and I returned to the house. The commotion subsided; my excitement died away, and I regretted that I bad not set out with the captain, when, to my surprise, he rode into the courtyard. On the road he thought that he had left me in the lurch, and that, as a travelling companion, he ought to have remained with me. I had no such idea, but I was glad of his return, and mounted, and left my capital to its fate, even yet uncertain whether I had any government.
Contribut ons.—La Barranca deGuaramal —Volcano of Izalco.—Depredations of Rascon —Zonzonate.—News from Guatemala.—Journey continued.—Aguisalco.—A|«neca.—Mountain of Aguachapa.—Subterranean Fires.—Aguachapa.— Defeat of Morazan.—Confusion and Terror.
The captain had given me a hint in a led horse which he kept for emergencies, and I had bought one of an officer of General Morazan, who sold him because he would not stand fire, and recommended him for a way he had of carrying his rider out of the reach of bullets. At the distance of two leagues we reached a hacienda where our men were waiting for us with the luggage. It was occupied by a miserable old man alone, with a large swelling under his throat, very common all through this country, the same as is seen among the mountains of Switzerland. While the men were reloading, we heard the tramp of horses, and fifteen or twenty lancers galloped up to the fence; and the leader, a dark, stern, but respectable-looking man about forty, in a deep voice, called to the old man to get ready and mount; the time had come, he said, when every man must fight for his country; if they had done so before, their own ships would be floating on the Atlantic and the Pacific, and they would not now be at the mercy of strangers and enemies. Altogether the speech was a good one, and would have done for a fourth of July oration or a ward meeting at home; but made from the back of a horse by a powerful man, well armed, and with twenty lancers at his heels, it was not pleasant in the ears of the "strangers" for whom it was intended. Really I respected the man's energy, but his expression and manner precluded all courtesies; and though he looked at
LETTER CARRYING. 59
ns for an answer, we said nothing. The old man answered that he was too old to fight, and the officer told him them to help others to do so, and to contribute his horses or mules. This touched us again; and taking ours apart, we left exposed and alone an object more miserable as a beast than his owner was as a man. The old man said this was his all. The officer, looking as if he would like a pretext for seizing ours, told him to give her up; and the old man, slowly untying her, without a word led her to the fence, and handed the halter across to one of the lancers. They laughed as they received the old man's all, and pricking the mule with their lances, galloped off in search of more "contributions."
Unluckily, they continued on our road, and we feared that parties were scouring the whole country to Zonzonate. This brought to mind a matter that gave us much uneasiness. As the mail-routes were all broken up, and there was no travelling, I was made letter-carrier all the way from Nicaragua. I had suffered so much anxiety from not receiving any letters myself, that I was glad to serve any one that asked me; but I had been treated with great frankness by the " party" at San Salvador, and was resolved not to be the means of communicating anything to their enemies; and with this view, always asked whether the letters contained any political information, never taking them until assured that they did not. But many of them were to Mr. Chatfield and the other Ingleses in Guatimala. There was a most bitter feeling against Mr. Chatfield, and the rudeness of this really respectable-looking man gave us some idea of the exasperation against foreigners generally; and as they were identified in the revolution, the directions alone might expose us to danger with any band of infuriated partisans who might take it into their heads to search us on the road. If I had had a safe opportunity, I should have sent them back to San Salvador. I could not intrust them with the old man, and we deliberated whether it was not better to return, and wait the crisis at the capital; but we thought it an object to get near the coast, and perhaps within reach of a vessel, and determined to continue. In about an hour we passed the same party dismounted, at some distance from the road, before the door of a large hacienda, with some of the men inside, and, fortunately, so far off that, though we heard them hallooing at us, we could not understand what they said. Soon after we descended a wild mountain-pass, and entered La Barranca de Guaramal, a narrow opening, with high perpendicular sides, covered with bushes, wild flowers, and moss, and roofed over by branches of large trees, which crossed each other from the opposite banks. A large stream forced its way through the ravine, broken by trunks of trees and huge stones. For half a league our road lay in the bed of the stream, knee-deep for the mules. In one place, on the right-hand side, a beautiful cascade precipitated itself from the top of the bank almost across the ravine. A little before dark, in a grassy recess at the foot of the bank, a pig-merchant had encamped for the night. His pigs were harnessed with straps and tied to a tree, and his wife was cooking supper; and when we told him of the foraging party at the other end of the ravine, he trembled for his pigs. Some time after dark we reached the hacienda of Guaramal. There was plenty of sacate in an adjoining field, but we could not get any one 1o cut it. The major-domo was an old man, and the workmen were afraid of snakes. Bating this, however, we fared well, and had wooden bedsteads to sleep on; and in one corner was a small space partitioned off for the major-domo and his wife.