« FöregåendeFortsätt »
3uired the news from Guatimala, and bought from them several copies of the “Parte Official” of the Supreme Government, headed “Viva la Patria! Viva el General Carrera ! The enemy has been completely exterminated in his attack upon this city, which he intended to devastate. The tyrant Morazan flies terrified, leaving the plaza and streets strewed with corpses sacrificed to his criminal ambition. The principal officers associated in his staff have perished, &c. Eternal glory to the Invincible Chief GENERAL CARRERA, and the valiant troops under his command.” They told us that Carrera, with three thousand men, was in full pursuit. In a little while the demand for sixpences became so frequent, that, afraid of being supposed to have mucha plata, we walked to the plaza to present ourselves to General Figoroa, and settle the terms of our surrender, or, at all events, to “define our position.” We found him at the cabildo, quite at home, with a parcel of officers, white men, Mestitzoes, and mulattoes, smoking, and interrogating some old men from the church as to the movements of Colonel Angula and the soldiers, the time of their setting out, and the direction they took. He was a young man—all the men in that country were young—about thirty-two or three, dressed in a snuff-coloured cloth roundabout jacket, and pantaloons of the same colour; and off his warhorse, and away from his assassin-like band, had very much the air of an honest Inan. It was one of the worst evils of this civil war that no respect was paid to the passports of opposite parties. The captain had only his San Salvador passport, which was here worse than worthless. Don Saturnino had a variety from partisan commandants, and upon this occasion made use of one from a colonel under Ferrera.
The captain introduced me by the title of Señor Ministro del Norte America, and I made myself acceptable by saying that I had been to San Salvador in search of a government, and had not been able to find any. The fact is, although I was not able to get into regular business, I was practising diplomacy on my own account all the time; and in order to define at once and clearly our relative positions, I undertook to do the honours of the town, and invited General Figoroa and all his officers to breakfast. This was a bold stroke, but Talleyrand could not have touched a micer chord. They had not eaten anything since noon the day before, and I believe they would have evacuated their empty conquest for a good breakfast all round. They accepted my invitation with a promptness that put an end to my small stock of provisions for the road. General Figoroa confirmed the intelligence of Morazan's defeat and flight, and Carrera's pursuit, and the “invincible chief.” would perhaps have been somewhat surprised at the pleasure I promised myself in meeting him. With a very few moments’ interchange of opinion, we made up our minds to get out of this frontier town as soon as possible, and again to go forward. I had almost abandoned ulterior projects, and looked only to personal safety. To go back, we reasoned, would carry us into the very focus of war and danger. The San Salvador people were furious against strangers, and the Honduras troops were invading them on one side, and Carrera's hordes on the other. To remain where we were was certain exposure to attacks from both parties. By going on we would meet Carrera's troops, and if we passed them we left war behind us. We had but one risk, and that would be tested in a day. Under this belief, I told the general that we designed proceeding to Gua
timala, and that it would add to our security to have his passport. It was the general's first campaign. He was then only a few days in service, having set off in a hurry to get possession of this town, and cut off Morazan's retreat. He was flattered by the request, and said that his passport would be indispensable. His aid and secretary had been clerk in an apothecary’s shop in Guatimala, and therefore understood the respect due to a ministro, and said that he would make it out himself. I was all eagerness to get possession of this passport. The captain, in courtesy, said we were in no hurry. I dismissed courtesy, and said that we were in a hurry; that we must set out immediately after breakfast. I was afraid of postponements, delays, and accidents, and in spite of impediments and inconveniences, I persisted till I got the secretary down at the table, who, without any trouble, and by a mere flourish of the pen, made me “ministro plenipotentiario.” The captain's name was inserted in the passport, General Figoroa signed it, and I put it in my pocket, after which I breathed more freely. We returned to the house, and in a few minutes the general, his secretary, and two mulatto officers came over to breakfast. It was very considerate in them that they did not bring more. Our guests cared more for quantity than quality, and this was the particular in which we were most deficient. We had plenty of chocolate, a stock of bread for the road, and some eggs that were found in the house. We put on the table all that we had, and gave the general the seat of honour at the head. One of the officers preferred sitting away on a bench, and eating his eggs with his fingers. It is unpleasant for a host to be obliged to mark the quantity that his guests eat, but I must say I was agreeably disappointed. If I had been breakfasting with them instead of vice versa, I could have astonished them as much as their voracious ancestors did the Indians. The breakfast was a meat fit; there was none over, and I believe nothing short. There was but one unpleasant circumstance attendant upon it, viz., General Figoroa requested us to wait an hour, until he could prepare despatches to Carrera, advising him of his occupation of Aguachapa. I was extremely anxious to get away while the game was good. Of General Figoroa and his secretary we thought favourably; but we saw that he had no control over his men, and as long as we were in the town we should be subject to their visits, inquiries, and importunities, and some difficulties might arise. At the same time, despatches to Carrera would be a great security on the road. Don Saturnino undertook to set off with the luggage, and we, glad of the opportunity of travelling without any encumbrance, charged him to push on as fast as he could, not to stop for us, and we would overtake him. In about an hour we walked over to the plaza for the despatches, but unluckily found ourselves in a new scene of confusion. Figoroa was already in the saddle, the lancers were mounting in haste, and all running to arms. A scout had brought in word that Colonel Angoula, with the soldiers of the town, was hovering on the skirt of the mountain, and our friends were hurrying to attack them. In a moment the lancers were off on a gallop, and the ragged infantry snatched up their guns and ran after them, keeping up with the horses. The letter to Carrera was partly written, and the aiddecamp asked us to wait, telling us that the affair would soon be over. He was left in command of about seventy or
eighty men, and we sat down with him under the corridor of the quartel. He was several years younger than Figoroa, more intelligent, and seemed very amiable except on political matters, and there he was savage against the Morazan party. He was gentlemanly in his manners, but his coat was out at the elbows, and his pantaloons were torn. He said he had a new frockcoat, for which he had paid sixteen dollars, but which did not fit him, and he wished to sell it. I afterward spoke of him to one of Morazan's officers, whom I would believe implicitly except in regard to political opponents, who told me that this same secretary stole a pair of pantaloons from him, and he had no doubt the coat was stolen from somebody else. There was no order or discipline among the men; the soldiers lay about the quartel, joined in the conversation, or strolled through the town, as they pleased. The inhabitants had fortunately carried away everything portable; two or three times a foraging party returned with a horse or mule, and once they were all roused by an alarm that Angoula was returning upon the town in another direction. Immediately all snatched up their arms, and at least one half, without a moment's warning, took to their heels. We had a fair chance of having the town again upon our hands, but the alarm proved groundless. We could not, however, but feel uncomfortable at the facility with which our friends abandoned us, and the risk we ran of being identified with them. There were three brothers, the only lancers who did not go out with Figoroa, white men, young and athletic, the best dressed and best armed in the company; swaggering in their manner, and disposed to cultivate an acquaintance with us; they Vol. II.-L. o