Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

CrNFCSION AND TERROR. 71

and, at all events, we would avoid the dangers of a general sacking and plunder of the town. I approved of this suggestion; the fact is, I was for anything that put us on horseback; but the captain again opposed it violently. Unluckily, he had four large, heavy trunks containing jewelry and other valuables, and no mules to carry them. I made a hurried but feeling comment upon the comparative value of life and property; but the captain said that all he was worth in the world was in those trunks; he would not leave them; he would not risk them on the road; he would defend them as long as he had life; and, taking them up one by one from the corridor, he piled them inside of our little sleeping-room, shut the door, and swore that nobody should get into them without passing over his dead body. Now I, for my own part, would have taken a quiet stripping, and by no means approved this desperate purpose of the captain's. The fact is, I was very differently situated from him. My property was chiefly in horseflesh and muleflesh, at the moment the most desirable thing in which money could be invested; and with two hours' start, I would have defied all the Cachurecos in Guatimala to catch me. But the captain's determination put an end to all thoughts of testing the soundness of my investment; and perhaps, at all events, it was best to remain.

I entered the house, where the old lady and her daughters were packing up their valuables, and passed through to the street. The church bells were tolling with a frightful sound, and a horseman, with a red banneret on the point of his lance, was riding through the streets warning the inhabitants to fly. Horses were standing before the doors saddled and bridled, and all along men were issuing from the doors with loads on

r their backs, and women with packages and bundles in their hands, and hurrying children before them. The moon was beaming with unrivalled splendour; the women did not scream, the children did not cry; terror was in every face and movement, but too deep for utterance. I walked down to the church; the cura was at the altar, receiving hurried confessions and administering the sacrament; and as the wretched inhabitants left the altar they fled from the town. I saw a poor mother searching for a missing child; but her friends, in hoarse whispers, said, " La gente vienne!" and hurried her away. A long line of fugitives, with loaded mules interspersed, was moving from the door of the church, and disappearing beneath the brow of the hill. It was the first time I ever saw terror operating upon masses, and I hope never to see it again. I went back to the house. The family of Padilla had not left, and the poor widow was still packing up. We urged Colonel Molina to hasten; as commandant, he would be the first victim. He knew his danger, but in a tone of voice that told the horrors of this partisan war, said he could not leave behind him the young women. In a few moments all was ready; the old lady gave us the key of the house, we exchanged the Spanish farewell with a mutual recommendation to God, and sadly and silently they left the town. Colonel Molina remained a moment behind. Again he urged us to fly, saying that the enemy were robbers, murderers, and assassins, who would pay no respect to person or character, and disappointment at finding the town deserted would make them outrageous with us. He drove his spurs into his horse, and we never saw him again. On the steps of the church were sick and infirm old men and children, and the cura's house was thronged with the

[graphic]

A TOWN DESERTED. 73

same helpless beings. Except these, we were Lft in sole possession of the town.

It was not yet an hour since we had been roused from sleep. We had not been able to procure any definite information as to the character of the approaching force. The alarm was " la gente vienne ;" no one knew or thought of more, no one paid any attention to us, and we did not know whether the whole army of Carrera was approaching, or merely a roving detachment. If the former, my hope was that Carrera was with them, and that he had not forgotten my diplomatic coat; I felt rejoiced that the soldiers had marched out, and that the inhabitants had fled; there could be no resistance, no bloodshed, nothing to excite a lawless soldiery. Again we walked down to the church; old women and little boys gathered around us, and wondered that we did not fly. We went to the door of the cura's house; the room was small, and full of old women. We tried to cheer them, but old age had lost its garrulity; they waited their fate in silence. We returned to the house, smoked, and waited in anxious expectation. The enemy did not come, the bell ceased its frightful tolling, and after a while we began to wish they would come, and let us have the thing over. We went out, and looked, and listened; but there was neither sound nor motion. We became positively tired of waiting; there were still two hours to daylight; we lay down, and, strange to say, again fell asleep.

Vol. II.—K 7

CHAPTER V.

Approach of Carrera-s Forces.—Terror of the Inhabitants.—Their Flight.—Sur render of the Town.—Ferocity of the Soldiery.—A Bulletin.—Diplomacy.—A Passport.—A Breakfast.—An Alarm.—The Widow Padilla.—An Attack.—Do. feat of Carrera-s Forces.—The Town taken by General Morazan—His Entry. —The Widow-s Son.—Visit to General Morazan.—His Appearance, Character, &c.—Plans deranged.

It was broad daylight when we woke, without any machete cuts, and still in undisturbed possession of the town. My first thought was for the mules; they had eaten up their sacate, and had but a poor chance for more, but I sent them immediately to the river for water. They had hardly gone when a little boy ran in from the church, and told us that la gente were in sight. We hurried back with him, and the miserable beings on the steps, with new terrors, supposing that we were friends of the invaders, begged us to save them. Followed by three or four trembling boys, we ascended to the steeple, and saw the Cachurecos at a distance, descending the brow of a hill in single file, their muskets glittering in the sunbeams. We saw that it was not the whole of Carrera's army, but apparently only a pioneer company; but they were too many for us, and the smallness of their numbers gave them the appearance of a lawless predatory band. They had still to cross a long plain and ascend the hill on which the town was built. The bellrope was in reach of my hand; I gave it one strong pull, and telling the boys to sound loud the alarm, hurried down. As we passed out of the church, we heard loud cries from the old women in the house of the cura; and the old men and children on the steps asked us whether they would be murdered.

[graphic]

SURRENDER. 75

The mules had not returned, and, afraid of their being intercepted in the street, I ran down a steep hill toward the river, and meeting them, hurried back to the house. While doing so I saw at the extreme end of the street a single soldier moving cautiously; and watching carefully every house, as if suspecting treachery, he advanced with a letter directed to Colonel Angula. The captain told him that he must seek Angula among the mountains. We inquired the name of his commanding officer, how many men he had, said that there was no one to oppose him, and forthwith surrendered the town. The man could hardly believe thaf it was deserted. General Figoroa did not know it; he had halted at a short distance, afraid to make the attack at night, and was then expecting immediate battle. He himself could not have been much better pleased at avoiding it than we were. The envoy returned, and in a short time we saw at the extreme end of the street the neck of a horse protruding from the cross-street on the left. A party of cavalry armed with lances followed, formed at the head of the street, looking about them carefully as if still suspecting an ambush. In a few moments General Figoroa, mounted on a fierce little horse, without uniform, but with dark wool saddle-cloth, pistols, and basket-hilted sword, making a warlike appearance, came up, leading the van. We took off our hats as he approached our door, and he returned the salute. About a hundred lancers followed him, two abreast, with red flags on the ends of their lances, and pistols in their holsters. In passing, one ferocious-looking fellow looked fiercely at us, and grasping his lance, cried "Viva Carrera." We did not answer it immediately, and he repeated it in a tone that brought forth the response louder and more satisfactory, from the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »