In New Granada, Heroes and Patriots, by W.H.G. Kingston.
A story about some English people who were caught up in the wars of independence from Spain of a small South American country. We are shown life on the side of the Patriots fighting against the cruel rule of the Spaniards. Our friends have for various reasons to travel from one end of the country to the other, with various fights with the Spanish on the way.
There are numerous illustrations, but we are at first at least putting a version without these onto the website. We very much hope that we will find the opportunity of adding the pictures.
Well written, as always from this author, you will find this book very interesting.
IN NEW GRANADA, HEROES AND PATRIOTS, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.
INTRODUCTORY—MY FATHER'S HISTORY—ENTERS THE NAVY AS A SURGEON—LEARNS SPANISH—APPOINTED TO THE "ZEBRA," IN THE PACIFIC—TAKES DICKY DUFF UNDER HIS CHARGE—A SHOOTING EXPEDITION ON SHORE—CAPTURED BY SPANIARDS ON COAST OF GUATEMALA WITH DICKY AND PAUL LORO—CARRIED TO PANAMA—MEETS AN OLD FRIEND, WHO TAKES HIM TO GUAYAQUIL—VISIT LOJA TO INSPECT PERUVIAN BARK—MEETS DR. CAZALLA—ACCOMPANIES HIM TO POPAYAN—HE MARRIES MISS CAZALLA, WHO BECOMES MY MOTHER; AND RICHARD DUFFIELD MARRIES HER NIECE, AN HEIRESS—THEY BOTH SETTLE AT POPAYAN.
The circumstances which led my father, Dr Andrew Sinclair, to settle in New Granada—the land of my birth—are of so romantic a character, that I cannot better preface an account of my own adventures in that country than by narrating them.
My grandfather, Duncan Sinclair, after whom I was named, was a member of an old Covenanter family in Dumfriesshire, and was the parent of six sons,—all of whom, with the exception of the eldest, who inherited the estate, had to seek their fortune in the world. My father was his fourth son. Having gone through a medical course at the University of Edinburgh, where he gained not only a knowledge of his profession, but of science generally, he entered the Royal Navy as an assistant-surgeon, and was ultimately promoted to the rank of surgeon. Among his many other talents, he possessed that of acquiring foreign languages, and he spoke French and Spanish remarkably well; though at the time he learned the latter—from a wounded Spanish prisoner, whose life was saved by his skill—he little thought how useful it would prove to him. After visiting many parts of the world, adding greatly to his store of information, he was appointed to the Zebra sloop-of-war of eighteen guns, which soon after sailed for the Pacific.
Among the youngsters on board was a midshipman named Richard Duffield,— generally known, however, as Dicky Duff. He was the orphan son of an old messmate, who had been killed in action. The brave lieutenant's last thoughts, as he lay mortally wounded in the cockpit, the guns still thundering overhead, were about his son.
"The boy's mother is dead, and when I am gone he'll not have a friend in the world. Doctor, will you look after him? I know you will!"
"Don't let any doubt about that trouble you. I'll act a father's part towards your boy as well as I am able," was the answer.
My father faithfully fulfilled his promise; and when the boy was old enough, he got him placed on the quarter-deck, and generally managed to take him to sea with himself. Richard Duffield was grateful for the kindness shown him, and became much attached to his protector, with whom he had many tastes in common.
My father, whenever he had an opportunity, was in the habit of going on shore with his gun, to obtain specimens of the birds and beasts of the country; while he also frequently brought off a bag of game for the benefit of the commander and his own messmates. On such occasions he was generally accompanied by Dicky Duff, who had become as good a sportsman as himself.
On one occasion, when the Zebra was off the coast of Guatemala in Central America, my father, having obtained a boat from the commander, left the ship, taking with him Dicky Duff, and their constant attendant, Paul Lobo, an African seaman, and a crew of six men. No inhabitants appearing, the boat was hauled up on the beach, and the crew amused themselves at leap-frog and other games, while my father and his two attendants proceeded some way inland. Having had very good sport, and filled their bags, my father sent back the midshipman and Paul to the boat with the game, while he continued shooting, hoping to obtain some more birds.
He had been thus employed for some time, and was thinking of returning, when the sound of several shots reached his ears. These were followed by a regular volley, and he had too much reason to fear that the inhabitants had attacked the boat. Instead, therefore, of returning to her, he made his way directly towards the shore. Emerging from the forest, which reached almost to the water's edge, he saw the boat at some distance off, with a party of men on the beach firing at her. His hope was that Dicky and Paul had already got on board before the boat shoved off. The distance was considerable, but still he hoped to be able to swim to her; so, leaving his gun and ammunition, with the game he had shot, under a tree, he plunged into the water. He had got some distance from the shore when he found that he was discovered, by seeing a shot strike the water not far from him. On looking round, what was his dismay to perceive Dicky and Paul in the hands of the Spaniards! He could not desert them, and consequently he at once turned and swam back, hoping that by explaining their object in visiting the shore he might obtain their release. But no sooner did he land than the Spaniards rushed down and seized him. In vain he expostulated. "He and his companions belonged to a ship of war, and they wished to be able to boast that they had made three prisoners." They told him, however, that if he would make signals to the boat to return, they would give him and his younger companions their liberty. On his refusing to act so treacherously, they became very angry, and bound his hands behind him, as well as those of Dicky and Paul. The seamen at once pulled back to the ship, when the captain sent a flag of truce on shore to try and recover his surgeon and midshipman; but the Spaniards refused to give them up.
After being kept prisoners for some time, they were sent down to Panama. Here, though strictly guarded, they were not ill-treated; and when it became known that my father was a surgeon, many persons, of all ranks, applied to him for advice. He was thus the means of effecting several cures, by which he obtained numerous friends. Indeed, he might here have established a good practice, and have comfortably supported himself and his companions; but he was anxious, for Dicky's sake especially, to return with him to the ship. There was no place, however, nearer than Cartagena, at which it was customary to exchange prisoners; and how to get to it, was the difficulty.
He had been kept a prisoner for some months, when, passing through the streets, he met his old acquaintance, Don Tomaso Serrano, from whom, while Don Tomaso was a prisoner on board his ship, he had learned Spanish. They immediately recognised each other, and expressed their pleasure at meeting. Don Tomaso, on hearing what had befallen my father, told him that he was in command of a man-of-war schooner, and was about to proceed in her to the southward. "Although I cannot obtain your liberty," he said, "I have sufficient influence to get leave for you and your companions to come on board my vessel and proceed with me as far as Guayaquil. I have friends there, whom I hope to interest in your favour; and by their influence you will, I hope, be able to obtain permission to land and travel across the country to Honda, from whence you can make your way down the river to Cartagena. It is a round-about route, but it may prove the shortest in the end. You will have an opportunity, too, of seeing a beautiful region; and you cannot fail, I am sure, to be hospitably treated wherever you go."
My father at once closed with Don Tomaso's offer, and was allowed to go on board the schooner, accompanied by Dicky and Paul. Having obtained a considerable sum of money, he was able to dress both of them, as well as himself, in Spanish costume, so that they did not attract attention; and as both he and Paul spoke Spanish perfectly, they were generally taken for natives. Though still prisoners, the party were treated with the greatest kindness, and enjoyed as much liberty as they could desire.
Heavy weather coming on, the schooner ran into the port of Buenaventura. Beyond the bay, opening into it, is a lagoon of considerable extent. On one side is the town, a great part of which is built on piles at the water's edge. The place has but little to recommend it; indeed, there are scarcely a dozen houses of any size, while the rest of the buildings have a miserable appearance both without and within. Above the town stands the church,—a building of no architectural pretensions, and greatly resembling a barn. Buenaventura is the port of a considerable district, embracing the valley of the Cauca. The climate, however, owing to the constant damp and heat, which produce intermittent fevers, prevents foreigners from residing here; indeed, it rains nearly every day in the year.
Most of my father's time on shore was occupied in visiting persons suffering from ague, and in prescribing for them. What a blessing, indeed, can a clever medical man prove in such regions! He is like a heaven-sent messenger carrying relief to the sick and suffering.
The weather moderating, the schooner continued her voyage, and at length reached Guayaquil, the port of Quito, to the south of which it is situated, at the head of the Gulf of Guayaquil. Here Don Tomaso proved as good as his word, and obtained leave from the governor for my father to travel with his attendants through the country.
While on shore at Guayaquil, he heard that in the region of the little town of Loja, three days' journey off, grew in the greatest profusion the cinchona, or Peruvian bark tree, at that time but comparatively little known in Europe. Although my father was well acquainted with the beneficial effect produced by the bark in cases of intermittent fever, he was anxious to ascertain, by personal examination, the other peculiarities of the tree. He obtained leave, therefore, from the governor, to proceed in the first instance to Loja. That place he reached without difficulty. On his arrival in the town, he found that a Spanish doctor was residing there for the same object, but that he was now laid up by a severe attack of illness, unable to continue his researches. My father immediately called on him, and found that he was no other than Doctor Cazalla, a physician widely celebrated for his scientific knowledge and talents. Introducing himself as a medical man, my father offered to prescribe for his brother physician, and in a short time had the satisfaction of restoring him to health. The two doctors then set out together on an expedition of botanical research, in which both Dicky and Paul accompanied them.
The time thus spent together having resulted in the establishment of a warm friendship between my father and the Spanish doctor, the latter prevailed upon him to visit Popayan, his native place, on the way to Cartagena. Their journey over that mountain region amid which Chimborazo towers to the sky, was interesting in the extreme. I have often heard my father speak of it. Popayan was at length safely reached, with the botanical treasures they had collected; and here my father was induced to remain for some time, in order to assist his friend in their arrangement. Before their labours came to an end, my father and Dicky were taken seriously ill. It now became the turn of the Spanish doctor to attend to them. He, however, was aided in his task by two ladies,—his sister and a young niece; the latter taking Dicky under her special charge. The result was that my father married the doctor's sister, and Dicky fell desperately in love with his niece. The war with Spain was by this time over, and the Zebra had returned to England, so my father and his young charge, believing that they had little prospect of getting on in the navy, determined to remain where they were. As Doctor Cazalla was engrossed in scientific pursuits, he gladly yielded up his practice to my father, his brother-in-law, whose fame as a physician was soon established in the town and throughout the surrounding district.
Richard Duffield, for I ought now to give him his proper name, in the course of a few years married Dona Maria, the girl who had so affectionately tended him, and who proved to be the heiress to a nice estate in the neighbourhood, to the improvement of which, when he became the proprietor, Richard devoted his time and attention; while Paul Lobo remained with my father as his personal attendant and general factotum.
OUR STUDIES INTERRUPTED—DON JUAN DE LEON—A RIDE TO VISIT DON RICARDO, ACCOMPANIED BY HUGH AND OUR TUTOR, MR. LAFFAN—DESCRIPTION OF POPAYAN— TYRANNICAL TREATMENT OF NEW GRANADA AND VENEZUELA BY THE SPANIARDS— PREVIOUS STRUGGLES OF THE COLONISTS FOR LIBERTY—FEARFUL CRUELTIES INFLICTED ON THEM BY THE SPANIARDS—MY UNCLE, DR. CAZALLA, A KNOWN LIBERAL—HIS DANGEROUS POSITION—HOW MR. LAFFAN BECAME OUR TUTOR—JUAN EXPATIATES ON THE PERFECTIONS OF DONA DOLORES, AND INVITES ME TO ACCOMPANY HIM ON A VISIT—PASS A PARTY OF INDIANS—DON RICARDO'S HACIENDA—FRUITS OF NEW GRANADA—INVITED TO STAY—JUAN, OUR TUTOR, AND I SERENADE DONA DOLORES—THE INTERVIEW—DONA DOLORES ENDEAVOURS TO AROUSE JUAN'S PATRIOTISM—MUSIC VICTORIOUS—A HEROINE—JUAN DEVOTES HIMSELF TO THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM.
"Holloa! mio amigo Senor Duncan, come down! I want to have a talk with you. You can spare a few minutes from your books."
Leaving the table at which I was seated with my brother Hugh and our tutor, Mr Michael Laffan, I went to the window, which looked out into the court of our house at Popayan, when I saw that the person who had hailed me was our friend Don Juan de Leon. He had just ridden in, mounted on a fine black horse, his special pride; and as he gracefully sat his steed, he looked a remarkably handsome young fellow. His costume, too,—a broad-brimmed sombrero, a feather secured to it by a jewelled buckle, a richly-trimmed poncho or capote over his shoulders, broad leggings, ornamented with braiding and tags, and large silver spurs,—became him well.
"Come down, Duncan, I want to speak to you," he said, beckoning to me.
Having obtained permission, I descended to the courtyard with a hop, skip, and jump. After shaking hands, I begged him to come in, as I was sure the ladies of my family would be glad to see him.
"I have no time now," he answered; "I hope to pay my respects to-morrow."
"What have you to say to me?" I asked.
"I want you to come with me to visit your friends Don Ricardo and Dona Maria at Egido. You can easily obtain a holiday from Senor Miguel. As the ride is a long one, I shall be glad of your companionship. You will have no objection either, I am sure, to enjoying the bright smiles of your sweet little cousin, Dona Rosa, their daughter."
Don Ricardo, I should explain, was our old friend Richard Duffield; and Senor Miguel was Mr Michael Laffan, our tutor.
"She is not my cousin, though we are both half British, and our fathers are old friends. But confess, Juan, that you have another object in going to Egido. You will have no objection either to pay a visit on your way to Dona Dolores Monteverde, and to bask in her sweet smiles," I rejoined, repeating his words. "However, as Mr Laffan would say, 'Amicus certus in re incerta, cerniter' (A true friend is discovered in a doubtful matter), I shall be very glad to accompany you, and be of any service in my power, if I can obtain leave."
"Thank you, Duncan. Go then and obtain leave, although I thought you were old enough to act as you might think fit in a matter of this sort," said Juan. "I have a little commission to perform at the other end of the town, and will shortly return for you. You are sure to obtain leave, so I can depend upon having your company."
Lighting a cigarillo, he rode off down the street. My father was out, so I went to my mother in order to have her sanction, in case Mr Laffan should prove obdurate. Juan was a favourite of hers, as well as of everybody who knew him, so when I told her of his request she made no objection.
"Then I'll tell Mr Laffan that I have your leave," I observed.
"And that you have mine too," exclaimed my young sister Flora; "for I want you to carry a packet to Rosa, and a note with my love, and tell her she must come here soon and stay with us."
While I ordered my horse, and put on my riding costume, Flora wrote and sealed her note, which I promised faithfully to deliver with the packet she entrusted to my care. On going to Mr Laffan to beg that he would excuse me from my studies for a few hours, he exclaimed, looking out of the window—
"It's a mighty fine day. Hugh and I will be ready to take a ride with you. I can instruct him in orthography, geography, botany, and the natural sciences, as we go along."
Hugh was delighted to go, and undertook duly to receive all the instruction our worthy tutor could impart to him on the way. Though my brother was still very young, he was a capital horseman, and would make nothing of riding a dozen leagues or more in a day. I was in doubt, however, whether Juan would be particularly pleased to have Mr Laffan's company; but such an idea never occurred to our good tutor, who was not inconveniently troubled with bashfulness. I knew, however, that he would be welcomed at the house of Don Ricardo, who esteemed him for his many sterling qualities.
Hugh and Mr Laffan were ready almost as soon as I was, and when Juan returned we were all three mounted in the courtyard, prepared to accompany him.
"I did not know that you were coming, Mr Laffan," he said, lifting his hat and bowing politely; "but it will afford me great pleasure to have your society."
Our tutor replied in wonderfully curious Spanish, into which he could not help occasionally introducing a few Irishisms, for the purpose, as he used to say, of adding pepper to his remarks.
Without delay we set off, Juan and I riding together, Mr Laffan and Hugh following; and I saw by our tutor's gestures, after we got clear of the town, that, faithful to his promise, he was imparting information in his usual impressive manner, which Hugh was endeavouring with all his might to take in.
While we ride along, I will describe the region and the city in which I was born, and some of the principal events which had occurred since my father settled there, up to the present time.
In the western half of New Granada are three ranges of lofty mountains, into which the main branch of the Andes is divided, extending from Quito northwards to the Caribbean Sea; a fourth branch, running close to the shores of the Pacific, extends towards the Isthmus of Panama. These four ranges form three valleys, elevated, however, a considerable distance above the sea. Throughout that to the east runs the magnificent river Magdalena; the next is watered by the Cauca, of equal length; and the third valley by the Atrato, of less extent, which runs into the Gulf of Darien. At the head of the centre valley—that of the Cauca—is situated Popayan, the capital of the province of the same name, in the midst of a beautiful plain, almost surrounded by two streams, which finish their course about a league below it, when they fall into the fine river Cauca. This river then runs to the northward through the rich and charming valley of the Cauca. Nothing can be more delicious than the climate of this region, the inhabitants being never oppressed by excessive heat, or annoyed by extreme cold. Rain, however, falls during the last three months of the year, and also in April and May; but even at that period the mornings are fine, as the showers seldom come on until two or three o'clock in the afternoon, and continue during the night. The plain, or I may call it the wide valley of Popayan, lies between two ranges of lofty mountains. On one side are the Cordilleras, with Purace, eternally covered with snow, rising above them; and on the west side is another range, which separates the valley from the province of Buenaventura. In the midst, surrounded by trees, appears Popayan, with its numerous churches and large convents, distinguished at a considerable distance by their whiteness. It is one of the most ancient towns in that part of the continent. Its founders, companions of Sebastian Belalcazar, made it the capital of the province, establishing a bishopric, a college, and numerous religious institutions. Although its buildings might not be greatly admired in Europe, the inhabitants are proud of them; and justly so, when the difficulties under which they were erected are remembered. Every article used in their construction had to be brought either on the backs of men or mules; and there were few native craftsmen capable of performing the necessary work. Many families proud of their ancient descent were settled in the town, and its society was therefore superior to that of any of the surrounding places. In Popayan is a large square, of which I shall have to speak by-and-by, with the cathedral on one side, and the residences of some of the principal people in the town occupying the other sides. There were, besides, several churches, four convents, and two nunneries. To the north of the city, towards the Cauca, is the handsomest bridge in that part of the country. From the town, in the early part of the morning, when the sun shines on them, can be seen the Cordilleras of Chicquio, and at a less distance rises the Paramos of Puxana and Soltana, presenting a magnificent appearance.
This description may give a faint idea of the beautiful scenery amid which I was born. Although I was accustomed to it from my earliest days, I nevertheless admired it more and more as I grew older. Though my father and Richard Duffield had not intended to settle in America when they married, their wives, who were attached to the country, exerted all their influence to induce them to stay, so they finally made up their minds to abandon their native land. The doctor, having been so long a prisoner, was supposed to be dead, and he had no difficulty in retiring from the service; while the midshipman very easily discharged himself.
At the time I speak of, Liberal principles had been making rapid progress in the country among persons of all ranks. For years the colony had groaned under the tyranny and narrow-minded policy of the mother country. As she produced wine, oil, and silk, the inhabitants of New Granada and Venezuela were not allowed to cultivate either the vine, the olive, or the mulberry, under the idea that they would thus be compelled to consume the produce of Spain. Attempts were made from time to time to establish manufactories, which were invariably destroyed by the orders of the Spanish Government. At length, when Spain herself became enslaved by the French, the colonists took the opportunity of throwing off the galling yoke, and New Granada and Venezuela declared their independence. The Spanish standard was cut down and destroyed, while the tricoloured flag was hoisted in numerous towns and fortresses. The inhabitants of the two vice-royalties flew to arms, and, under the leadership of General Miranda, the Royalists were defeated in Venezuela. No sooner, however, had Spain been liberated by the success of the British arms over Napoleon's generals in the Peninsula, than she made use of her recovered liberty again to enthral the hapless colonists. Simon Bolivar, who had hitherto taken no active part in the revolution, was at length won over to espouse the cause of Freedom; and a congress having been assembled at Caracas to organise a new Government for the state of Venezuela, he proceeded to England for the purpose of endeavouring to induce the British Cabinet to aid the cause of Liberty. Finding, however, that the English had resolved on maintaining a strict neutrality, though they had ample excuses for interfering in the cause of humanity, he returned in disgust to Caracas.
Sometimes success attended the Patriot arms, sometimes the Royalists were victorious. At length a dreadful earthquake occurred. I remember it well. Fear was inspired by the terrible destruction it caused to life and property. In the three cities of Caracas, La Guayra, and Merida, twenty thousand persons perished. The priests, monks, and friars, who in general were the main supporters of Spanish tyranny, knowing that with the advancement of Liberal principles their power would be decreased, if not overthrown, declared this catastrophe to be a judgment on the revolutionists. About twelve hundred of the Royalist prisoners who were confined in the fortress of Puerto Cabello, of which Bolivar was then commandant, having broken loose, murdered some of the garrison, and by the treachery of the officer on guard took possession of the citadel. Bolivar, with a band of followers, narrowly escaped destruction; and General Miranda, who was at Vittoria, on hearing that this important place, with all its stores, arms, and ammunition, was deserted, capitulated in despair to Monteverde, the Royalist general; and being sent in irons to Spain, he there died—shortly afterwards—in a dungeon.
The whole country was now once more entirely in the hands of the Royalists, who inflicted the most fearful cruelties on the hapless inhabitants. On pretexts the most trivial, old men, women, and children were arrested, their houses plundered, and they themselves maimed in the most horrible way, or massacred as rebels.
I have been speaking chiefly of Venezuela. The Liberals in New Granada suffered similar reverses; but, in consequence of the inaccessible nature of many parts of the country, the Patriots, although defeated, were able to take refuge in positions from which they could not be driven by the Spaniards; and many, under various leaders, remained in arms, prepared for the moment when they might again attack the Royalists with a prospect of success, and drive them, as they had vowed to do, from the country.
The bloodthirsty monster, General Murillo, had at this time his headquarters at Santa Fe de Bogota, the capital of New Granada. Our own city of Popayan had not altogether escaped, but it was at present comparatively tranquil, though people lived in dread of what a day might bring forth. Murillo was attempting to stamp out Liberal principles by the destruction of every man of science and education in the country, being well aware that ignorance and superstition were the strongest supporters of Spanish tyranny. My father, as a medical man and an English subject, hoped to escape annoyance; though our uncle, Dr Cazalla, owing to his known Liberal principles and scientific attainments, was well aware that his position was critical in the extreme. Though on his guard, he was too bold to fly. My father often urged him to leave the country, but his reply was, "I will remain, to forward, by every means in my power, the cause of liberty, and endeavour to advance the true liberties of the people among whom I live." My father steadily pursued his professional duties, attending equally on the Royalists and Liberals, by both of whom he was highly esteemed,— though those who knew him best were well aware that his sympathies were all on the side of Freedom.
However, my object is not so much to describe the political events which occurred in the country, as to narrate my own adventures, and those of my relatives and friends. My father had often intended to send my brother and me to England for our education; but my mother was unwilling to part with us, and suggested, instead, that an English tutor should be procured, who would give us the instruction we required. My father remarked that it was not only the knowledge we should obtain by going to England which would prove of value, but the training and general education we should receive at an English school. He had made up his mind to act as he thought best, notwithstanding our mother's objections, when he was called in to visit an English traveller who had lately arrived at Popayan, accompanied by a secretary—Mr Laffan—for whom he seemed to entertain a warm regard. His malady increased, and my father soon saw that his hours were numbered, and told him so. The dying man acknowledged that his funds were nearly exhausted; that he was waiting remittances from England, but that it might be long before they arrived, if they ever came at all; and he was greatly concerned as to what would become of his attendant, who would thus be left in a foreign country without the means of leaving it, or of obtaining support. My father had not been favourably impressed by the appearance of Mr Laffan, who was tall and gaunt, with awkward manners and ungainly figure; but after some conversation he found him to be a man of considerable attainments and intelligence, and apparently thoroughly honest and trustworthy.
On the death of the unfortunate gentleman, my father found his companion plunged in the deepest grief.
"He was my best friend, sir, the truest I ever had in the world; and now he's gone and left me all alone among savages, or little better, by the way they murder each other; and we may call them heathens, too, when we see them bow down to stocks and stones."
My father, feeling for the poor man, inquired whether he would be willing to act as tutor to two boys. On receiving this proposal, Mr Laffan started up and pressed my father's hand, and while the tears ran down his cheeks, assured him that he would gladly devote his life and energies to the task, hoping that my father would have no cause to regret having entrusted us to his charge.
Having seen his former patron placed in the grave, Mr Laffan took up his abode in our house, and well and faithfully fulfilled the duties he had undertaken—although, it must be confessed, in a somewhat curious fashion—and we soon became as much attached to him, I believe, as he was to us. He gave us not only mental, but physical training; for, in spite of his gaunt figure, he was a first-rate horseman, and thoroughly understood the sword-exercise, a practical knowledge of which he imparted to us. He was a good shot and a keen sportsman; and although he seldom spoke of himself, he had, I discovered, seen a good deal of service, and had honourable wounds to show. He was a devoted Liberal, and detested tyranny in every shape and form. As may be supposed, we admired his principles, which, indeed, were those of our father and uncle, and all the members of our mother's family.
As I have said, Juan and I rode on, while Mr Laffan and Hugh followed close behind us. Our road lay between lanes bordered by hedges of the prickly pear, and gardens filled with fruit trees of every description; while before us rose the Cordilleras, adding much to the beauty of the scenery. Before we had ridden far, Don Juan confessed to me that, besides paying a promised visit to my friends, his object was to see Dona Dolores.
"She is beautiful and good, and full of sense and spirit, so unlike the greater number of my countrywomen," he exclaimed; "I believe there is nothing that she would not dare and do."
"I quite believe all you say of her, Juan," I answered; though I confess I did not admire the young lady quite as much as my friend did. According to my taste, her manner was somewhat too determined and forward—shall I call it?—although I could not exactly say that she was masculine in her appearance, or wanting in feminine attractions; and I had no doubt that she could be soft and tender on occasion.
"But does Dona Dolores return your love?" I asked.
"I hope so; I have no reason to believe that she dislikes me," he answered, "though I own that she treats me sometimes as if I were a mere boy. But perseverance conquers all difficulties. My great desire is to convince her of the sincerity of my affection, and that I am worthy of her love."
"I should think that she would soon be convinced of that," I observed, looking up at Juan, of whom I thought a great deal; he was a man, I fancied, to whom any girl would willingly give her heart.
"I have determined to visit her to-day, after paying my respects to Don Ricardo and Dona Maria, and to learn my fate. Will you accompany me, Duncan? I dare say that, if I give you a sign, you will find an excuse for leaving us together while I plead my cause."
I, of course, said that I was perfectly ready to do as Juan wished, although I did not think my presence would be necessary.
We had got more than half-way to Egido, when we overtook a large party of Indians returning from Popayan to their own village. At their head marched one of their number playing the tabor and pipes, to which they kept admirable time. The men were a remarkably fine-looking set of fellows; and the women were handsome, with good figures. The former, who carried long lances, wore kilts, and on their heads blue cloth caps trimmed with scarlet, ornamented with gold lace somewhat the worse for wear. Their bearing, also, was bold and independent. They saluted Don Juan in a familiar way, and he laughed and joked with them as we passed by.
"These men would make good soldiers, if they could be got to join the Liberal cause," observed Mr Laffan.
"But you'll not get them while they live under the influence of their priests," answered Juan. "The friars try to persuade the people that the Liberals are in league with Satan, and that if they join them they will do so at the peril of their souls. They eyed you three very suspiciously," he continued; "for the friars tell them that all Englishmen have tails, like monkeys, and horns on their heads, and that they are addicted to eating babies when they can get a supply."
"You should try and disabuse them of such notions, Don Juan," said Mr Laffan.
"I!—it is no business of mine. I let the people think as they like—it does no harm."
"It always does harm to allow people to believe a falsehood, and we should oppose it with truth," observed Mr Laffan.
Don Juan laughed, and commenced trolling forth a jovial song as we rode along, as if he did not like to be lectured by our tutor.
On arriving at the hacienda, we found that Don Ricardo was out; but Dona Maria received us very kindly, and servants immediately came forward to take charge of our horses. My little cousin Rosa, as we always called her, received me with smiles as I delivered Flora's package, and gave her the message she had sent. She was a beautiful blue-eyed girl, with a rich colour, inheriting the naturally fair complexion of her father, with her mother's beauty; for Dona Maria was one of the prettiest of the young people in that part of the country—still looking almost like a girl. Without inquiring whether we would have them, she immediately ordered the usual refreshments, wine, cake, and fruit, with some cups of coffee, to be placed on the table; to which, after our ride, we did ample justice. Mr Laffan complimented Dona Maria on the fruits produced on the estate. Indeed, when I afterwards left my native valley, I learned to appreciate them, by comparison with the productions of other regions. Nothing, indeed, can surpass the flavour of the chirimoya, a fruit sometimes double the size of a cocoa-nut, tasting like a mixture of strawberries, cream, and sugar, with a fragrance far superior to any mixture. Then the caymato (in shape like a lemon, but far sweeter, with scarcely a touch of the acidity of the lemon), a species of lime, and the pomegranates, oranges, and strawberries, one of which was a mouthful, and figs unsurpassed in any other country. Then there was the mamei, a fruit as large as a water-melon, very nice, fresh, and not to be despised when preserved. Then there were several sorts of pine apples, and a variety of melons. Indeed, the climate of this region is especially favourable to the production of fruit, as the thermometer seldom falls below 68 degrees, and never rises much above 76 degrees. Then the wine and the lemonade were delightfully cooled by ice; an ample supply of snow being constantly brought down from the mountain of Purace, distant little more than a day's journey.
In a short time Don Ricardo came in, and welcomed us in a hearty, sailor-like fashion. He still retained his nautical manners and appearance, as well as his seamanlike habits. He was broad-shouldered, of moderate height, with a fine brow and an open countenance, and the light blue eye of the Anglo-Saxon. We always called him Uncle Richard, and he treated us as his nephews.
"You'll stop, now you have come," he said, shaking us all by the hand; "I've been looking for you for many a day. We must have some hunting and shooting. I will send over and let your father know that I have laid an embargo on you, so that he must not expect you until you appear. You can study as hard as you like in the evening, or whenever we are in the house, and Mr Laffan will give you lectures on natural history while we are on our excursions. Juan, mio amigo, you must remain also; we have plenty of room, and can hang up a dozen hammocks, or fifty for that matter; I have hooks provided on purpose in the hall."
Juan did not even make a show of refusing, for fear that the invitation might not be pressed. I suspect that Uncle Richard was well aware of his admiration for Dona Dolores, who was a distant cousin of Dona Maria's. She was an only daughter, and heiress of a fair estate close to Egido.
Mr Laffan making no objection, Don Ricardo despatched a messenger, as he had promised, to our father, and we remained with clear consciences.
The house itself, I may here say, was a long low building, of two stories only in one portion, round which ran a broad verandah. It possessed no pretensions to architectural beauty, but was very neat and comfortable inside, and even elegant on the garden front.
Before dinner Don Ricardo took us out to see the gardens and farm. In the former, the fruits I have already described were growing in profusion, besides vegetables of all sorts. In one direction spread out fields of Indian corn of luxuriant growth. In the meadows were cattle and sheep with beautiful white fleeces and long tails, while numbers of horses were seen galloping about at liberty.
"I sincerely hope the Spaniards will not pay a visit to this place," observed Mr Laffan to me, as Uncle Richard and Juan were walking on ahead; "they would soon make a clean sweep of these cattle and the corn-fields."
This estate was only one of many others of a similar character scattered over the country, but probably Egido benefited by the energy and perseverance of its owner. My father used to remark, that Dona Maria was twice as rich as she would have been had she married a countryman with an estate double the size of her own. The people also were well looked after, having nice cottages, well thatched, and kept clean and tidy. Uncle Richard's plan was to go about giving prizes to those who had the best-kept huts. He had a school for the children, too, where they were taught to read the Bible, notwithstanding the objection at first raised by the parish priest—who was, however, at length induced to read it himself. He one day came to Uncle Richard and acknowledged it to be the best book for all who could read. Although the honest padre at first sided with the oppressors of his country, he now became an earnest Liberal, but avoided taking any open part in politics, and confined himself to instructing the people. Uncle Richard was no theologian, and had never had an argument in his life with Padre Vincente. His custom was simply to open the Bible and point to certain parts, and say, "Read that; if this book was written by God's command— and I am sure it was—that's what he says, not I." Padre Vincente might not have called himself a Protestant, but he certainly preached the gospel, and the people under his charge were the best conducted and happiest in the neighbourhood.
On our return to the house, we found dinner ready. Dona Maria, during our absence, had been busy superintending its preparation; and if the table did not groan with delicacies, the feast was as good a one as we could have desired to eat. Mr Laffan, Hugh, and I showed, at all events, that we enjoyed it, though Juan was unusually silent, and ate but little. There was something on his mind, which came out after dinner.
"Duncan," he said, "I want you and Senor Laffan to assist me in giving Dona Dolores a serenade, as soon as the shades of evening come on. You sing, and he plays the guitar. I understand that Dona Dolores is fond of music, although she tells me that I trifle away my time by practising it."
Uncle Richard laughed when Juan told him what he was going to do. "If I were a bachelor I would accompany you, although such kind of singing as yours is somewhat out of my way. I don't think, however, that the young lady would be charmed by 'Cease, rude Boreas,' 'One night it blew a hurricane,' 'On board of the Arethusa,' or such other songs as I used to sing afloat."
We had no difficulty in procuring a couple of guitars. Juan took one, Mr Laffan the other, and as soon as it began to grow dark we set out. We soon approached the front of Dona Dolores' residence. It was a two-storied building, with a balcony on one side overhanging the road some little way from the entrance-gate.
Juan and I were walking together, Mr Laffan bringing up the rear, when suddenly the former stopped and grasped my arm. "I see some one on the balcony," he whispered. "It must be she—how fortunate! She would consider it rude to go away when once we begin; let us lose no time."
We cautiously approached.
"Suppose it is only her old duenna, Senora Ortes!"
"Nonsense!" answered Juan. "I can discern the outline of her figure; no other form can possess such grace."
I thought that Juan's imagination assisted him in this respect, as I could only just distinguish that a female was seated on the balcony. As we drew near, however, I began to suspect that it was Dona Dolores herself, but her head at the time was turned away, as if addressing some one.
Stepping softly, so that we might not be discovered until we at once burst into song, we approached the house. Juan led the way; I kept close under the wall, having no guitar; while Mr Laffan stood at a little distance. Juan gave the signal, and we commenced the song. It was in praise of a lady resembling Dona Dolores in all particulars, and the love and devotion of one whose affection she had won, but appeared to regard with disdain.
Dona Dolores—for it was she—leaned her head on her hand as she listened to the music, which was such as to attract any female ear. I will not speak of my own powers; but Juan's voice was full and rich— indeed, he was one of the best singers I ever heard; and Mr Laffan did his part on the guitar.
We had continued for some time, when Dona Dolores leaned forward and said, "I will not pretend to be ignorant as to who you are. You desire to speak with me; and I am willing to see you. You are welcome to come in, with your young friend, whose voice I recognise."
Don Juan poured out his thanks, and expressed his readiness to take advantage of the permission given him.
Dona Dolores had said nothing of Mr Laffan; perhaps she had not perceived him, or in the dark had mistaken him for me, as I had been concealed under the wall—although our figures were very different. At all events, it was very evident that he would be one too many. Of this he was perfectly well aware himself, and as we went round to the front entrance he whispered,—"I'll go back and tell Don Ricardo that you have the honour of an interview, and will soon return;" and without another word he hastened along the road.
We made our way to the front gate, which was opened as we arrived by Senora Ortes, who had been directed by her mistress to let us in.
"Dona Dolores awaits you in her sitting-room," she said; "you are welcome."
She led the way into the house. We found Dona Dolores with a female friend, somewhat older, seated in a well-furnished room, with a couple of guitars on a sofa beside them. Some books were on a table, very seldom to be seen in a lady's apartment in that country; while one of the walls was ornamented with swords and daggers, guns and pistols— giving a somewhat odd appearance to a lady's boudoir.
Dona Dolores looked handsomer than ever, and I could not be surprised that she had won my friend's heart. She smiled as we approached and saluted her. Don Juan having told her where we were staying, and a little ordinary conversation having taken place, they both looked, I thought, as if they wished that the other lady and I were at a distance. We, at all events, supposing such to be the case, retired to the other end of the room, to examine some artificial flowers, which the young lady told me she had learned to make at the nunnery of the Encarnacion at Popayan. She then confided to me that she had once intended to be a nun, but, after a little experience of a conventual existence before she had taken the vows, thought better of it, and had returned to her friends; adding, "And perhaps some day I may accept a husband, should a suitable one be presented to me."
While we were speaking, she saw my eye directed towards the arms on the walls.
"They are all in good order, and intended to be used," she observed. "My friend thinks it a good place to keep them in, as no one would imagine that they were placed there otherwise than for ornament. The time may come, however, and that before long, when they may do good service to our country."
Although my companion continued to speak, as if to engage my attention, I could not help hearing the conversation that was going on between Don Juan and Dona Dolores. In ardent tones he declared his love and devotion, and vowed that his happiness in life depended on her becoming his wife.
"I will not deny, Don Juan, that I return the love you bestow on me; but this arises from the weakness of my woman's nature. Notwithstanding this, I tell you that nothing shall induce me to marry a man who is not ready to sacrifice his life and property to obtain the enfranchisement of our beloved country from the tyrannical yoke of her oppressors. You have hitherto led an indolent life, regardless of the sufferings of our people. Not until I see you boldly come forward and nobly devote yourself to the cause of freedom, will I promise to become your wife. When that freedom has been won, and the Spaniards, the hated Godos, have been driven into the sea—"
"But that may not be for many years, my beloved Dolores!" exclaimed Don Juan; "am I to wait so long before I enjoy the unspeakable happiness of calling you mine?"
"If you and other young men of wealth and position in the country, who ought to set the example to other classes, hang back, that glorious object may never be accomplished, and I shall die a maiden; for I swear to you I will never wed while our country remains enslaved," exclaimed Dona Dolores in a firm tone.
My companion's tongue here went rattling on at such a rate, that I did not hear what more was said for some time; but it was evident that Dona Dolores was expatiating on the duty of all patriots to struggle on, in spite of every difficulty, until the power of the Spaniards was overthrown.
At length Don Juan exclaimed,—"Your arguments have prevailed, Dona Dolores: from henceforth I will emerge from the useless life I have hitherto led, and will devote my life to the cause of Freedom. You shall have no reason to complain of your pupil. I trust that you will hear of such deeds as you would have me do; and you may be sure that I shall ever be found in the van of the battle, when the foe are to be encountered. Your approval, and the reward I look for, will spur me on to acts of valour."
As he spoke I looked round. Dona Dolores had given him her hand, which he was pressing to his lips; and I heard her say,—"I will trust you, Juan; and you may rest assured that I will not depart from my promise."
As my companion had no longer any excuse for remaining where we were, she returned to the side of her friend. Dona Dolores had taken up her guitar, and running her fingers over the strings, sang a few verses of a patriotic song, which greatly affected Juan, and at the same time roused in my heart a desire to take a part in the struggle for freedom in which all classes throughout the country were eager to engage. It was well-known that, when once it began, it would be to the knife, as the Spanish generals showed no mercy to those who fell into their power— neither sex, rank, nor age were spared. As we spoke of the atrocities which had been committed, the eyes of Dona Dolores flashed fire. She pressed her lips together, and looked towards the wall on which the weapons hung.
"Every man and youth—ay, every woman who has a spark of patriotism— must take a part in the glorious work!" she exclaimed. Rising from her seat, she took a sword from the wall. "Here, my Juan, let me gird you with this weapon; and when once you draw it, swear that it shall never again be sheathed until the standard of Liberty waves throughout the length and breadth of the land, and every Spaniard is hurled into the ocean which bore him to our shores."
Don Juan, kissing the jewelled hilt of the weapon, swore as Dolores wished, and with a triumphant smile she buckled it to his waist.
My enthusiasm being aroused, I dare say I too looked as if I wished to be presented with a sword.
"You must wait a while," observed Dona Dolores, divining my thoughts; "you are not yet your own master, and I would not compromise your excellent father."
The remark showed that the speaker possessed good sense and judgment as well as patriotism.
At last I reminded Juan that Don Ricardo would be expecting us, and we took our leave of the two ladies—my admiration for Dona Dolores greatly increased by the visit we had paid her.
I expected that Juan would break out enthusiastically in her praise, but he did not utter a word during our walk home; his thoughts were evidently occupied by the new duties he had undertaken. He had hitherto passed his time in superintending his mother's estate, or enjoying such amusements as offered. He would now have to lead a life full of dangers and hardships.
"I congratulate you on finding Dona Dolores at home," observed Uncle Richard when we arrived.
"Yes, we had that honour," said Juan, endeavouring to hide the sword which he had received—he had given me his to carry. I observed that he placed it carefully against the wall, and covered it with his cloak.
Supper was now announced, but Juan spoke very little during the meal. Mr Laffan, however, conversed for all the party; rattling away, as he could do when he had had a glass or two of good wine to raise his spirits, and listening, apparently with rapt attention, to Uncle Richard's sea stories and jokes, though he had heard them fifty times before. Dona Maria, too, spoke English very fairly, having learned it from her husband; and Juan could understand what was said, though he was bashful about speaking.
We retired at an early hour to our hammocks, as we were to start betimes the next morning, on our expedition.
A SHOOTING EXPEDITION—SNARING PARROQUETS—THE DOMINIE AND THE TIGER-CAT—A DEER SHOT—THE DOMINIE PROVES THAT HE IS A MAN OF COURAGE— BLOW-PIPES AND POISONED ARROWS—A JAGUAR HUNT—STORIES ABOUT JAGUARS—A FEARFUL THUNDERSTORM—THE STRICKEN TREE—REACH HOME—A DISCUSSION ON LIBERTY—SET OUT ON A SECOND EXPEDITION—REACH A HOT SPRING—VISIT TO AN OLD CACIQUE—THE LAST OF HIS RACE—PROMISES TO AID THE PATRIOT CAUSE— VINEGAR RIVER—THE DOMINIE TASTES THE WATER—UNCLE RICHARD'S FARM— RETURN HOMEWARDS—PAUL LOBO MEETS US WITH BAD NEWS—OUR NIGHT-RIDE TO POPAYAN—DONA DOLORES ENLISTS THE DOMINIE—WE REACH POPAYAN— ARRANGEMENTS MADE FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR FAMILY—THE DOMINIE AND I REMAIN WITH MY FATHER.
I was in doubt whether Juan would accompany us. When I asked him, he replied that he wished to have some conversation with Don Ricardo, and that he should have an opportunity of speaking to him as we rode along. Leaving our own horses in the stable, we were supplied instead with active little mules, better calculated for climbing up and sliding down the steep declivities. We had a dozen couples of dogs, not quite as large as greyhounds, but of the same species.
"They will run down any of the wild animals found in these forests, as well as the danta, or wild ass—the black bear, red leopard, tiger-cat, the deer, and fox; though it is necessary to follow them closely, since, not being well broken-in, they will devour their prey, if they have an opportunity, before the hunter comes up," observed Uncle Richard, as we were about to start, our canine companions barking and yelping round us.
We had not gone far when we saw an Indian in a large field of maize near the road, engaged in snaring the red-headed, green parroquets, which are here very numerous, and do much mischief to the crops of corn. The snares are very simple, being composed of a line of horse-hair, a slip-knot, and a loop, in the centre of which a little maize is sprinkled as a bait. As soon as the bird pitches on the grain, the Indian draws the line with a sudden jerk, and catches the bird by the legs. Just as we arrived he had caught one, which Hugh cried out he should like to have. On this the man brought it to him; but the bird fought so vigorously to obtain its liberty, and gave Hugh so severe a bite on the finger, that he was glad to let it go.
We had dismounted in order to enjoy a draught of water from a fountain which bubbled out of the hill-side, and to pluck some oranges from a grove irrigated by it. Mr Laffan had gone to a little distance, and we saw him stretching up to reach some fruit from a bough overhead, when he uttered a cry, or rather a howl to which an Irishman alone can give vent; and his foot slipping on a root which projected above the soil, down he came stretched at full length. But he was not inclined to lie long on the ground; and springing up, off he scampered. At the same instant a tiger-cat leaped out of the tree; while a covey of partridges, which had been nestling in the grass close by, rose with a loud "wurr," still further alarming the dominie.
"Get your guns! get your guns!" he shouted. "There's a huge tiger, or a jaguar, or a beast of some sort, close at our heels; he'll be after seizing some of us, if we are not on our guard."
As he spoke we saw the tiger-cat, quite as much frightened as Mr Laffan, scampering off in the opposite direction; and a hearty laugh, in which we all indulged, assured our friend that no danger was to be apprehended. Before we could get our guns ready, both partridges and tiger-cat had disappeared.
The air was pure and invigorating, and the scenery, made up of forests, mountains, and streams, was magnificent.
At length the dogs found a deer, to which, as it started off along the side of the hill, we all gave chase. Over fallen logs, gullies, and streams we galloped, finding it no easy matter to keep up with our nimble four-footed companions. Juan was the most active among us; holding his rifle in his hand ready for a shot, he at length got ahead. I saw him lift his weapon and fire, and as he did so the deer leaped several feet in the air and fell over dead. We soon had it flayed and cut up, when it was placed on the back of one of the mules brought for the purpose.
Several other deer were started, and I had the satisfaction of killing one with my own rifle; but Juan was the most successful.
The dominie, although he did not at first quite recover his nerve, had before long an opportunity of displaying his skill and courage. The dogs, which were ahead, were heard barking loudly.
"That's not deer," observed Uncle Richard; "it must be some savage animal at bay."
We were hurrying forward—having, I should have said, dismounted from our mules—the dominie on this occasion leading, when, with a loud roar, a huge jaguar leaped from its covert, scattering the dogs on either side, and making directly toward us. Mr Laffan, dropping on his knee, and holding his rifle like an infantry soldier about to receive a charge of cavalry, waited until the jaguar was within twelve yards of him, when he fired. The creature bounded on, and I trembled for our friend's safety; but in an instant, rising, he sprang on one side, and drawing his hunting-knife he struck it into the shoulder of the savage animal, right up to the hilt, when the jaguar rolled over with one convulsive struggle and was dead.
We all congratulated the dominie on his skill and coolness.
"I'm not in the habit of howling when I see a beast, but I was just now thinking to pick an orange, when the tiger-cat sprang at my throat. Faith! it was a little more than I bargained for," he answered, laughing.
"It is certainly what any of us would have done; though few would have met a jaguar with the same coolness as you have exhibited," observed Uncle Richard.
We arrived at length at a neatly-thatched cottage near a hacienda, belonging to a farmer who employed Indians chiefly in the cultivation of his fields. He was absent, but an old Indian who had charge of the house begged us to enter and consider it as our own. As the sun was high and the heat increasing, we were glad to find shelter beneath its roof. Here we spread the viands which had been brought in a pannier on the back of one of the mules.
Several of the Indians possessed blow-pipes, from which they projected arrows not more than eight inches in length; and with these we saw them bring down a number of parroquets and other birds in rapid succession. Scarcely had a bird been touched than, after fluttering for a few moments, it fell dead. The arrows, we found, were poisoned; and the Indians told us that the poison was produced from the moisture which exudes from the back of a small green frog. They declared that, to obtain it, the frog was put near a fire, and in the moisture which quickly appeared on its back they dipped the tips of their arrows. So speedy is the poison, that even a jaguar or puma which has received the slightest wound soon becomes convulsed and dies. Instead of feathers, a little cotton is wrapped neatly round the lower end of the arrow, to make it go steadily through the air: and at about an inch from the point it is spiral.
The major-domo told us that the farm, being at a distance from others, was frequently attacked by jaguars, which carried off pigs, calves, and sometimes even mules, although horses and the larger animals were generally too wary for them. He took us to a remote spot, to show us a trap which had been set for catching the jaguars. It was in a small circular plot of ground, enclosed with strong stakes of considerable height, to prevent the entrapped jaguar from breaking through or leaping over. A doorway is left for the jaguar to enter. Above this is suspended a large plank of wood communicating with one on the ground, over which the jaguar on entering must tread, and it is so contrived that as he does so the portcullis falls and shuts him in. A live pig is fastened by a rope in the centre of the enclosure as a bait. An Indian is always on the watch at night in a tree near the spot, and the moment the jaguar is caught he gives the alarm, and his companions assemble and despatch it with firearms and lances. Previous to our visit, a male and female jaguar had been caught together, but before the labourers could assemble they had almost eaten up the poor pig.
As we had already as much venison as we could carry, we agreed that we should like to go out with the old Indian factor, Quamodo, and hunt jaguars under his guidance, with as many of his people as he could collect. By the time luncheon was over, therefore, he had provided a party of Indians, armed with long lances, and a number of sturdy-looking dogs very unlike our own high-bred animals—which, being unfit for the purpose, were left behind under the charge of their keepers.
We proceeded some distance through the forest, the dogs advancing in regular order like riflemen skirmishing, so that there was no chance of a jaguar being passed without their discovering him. After keeping on for about a couple of miles, the dogs stopped and began to bay loudly; whereupon the old Indian told us to halt, with our arms ready for action, while the lance-men moved forward. The dogs, encouraged by their masters' voices, continued to advance; and we soon caught sight of a jaguar thirty yards in front of us, seated on his haunches, prepared for fight. Several of the more daring dogs now sprang forward, but two paid dearly for their boldness; for the jaguar striking them with his huge paw, they soon lay dead at his feet. The Indians now allowed the dogs to attack the jaguar. Taught wisdom by the fate of their companions, however, they assaulted him in the rear, rushing in on his haunches, biting him, and then retiring. This continued for some time. Although the jaguar saw the men, he had first to settle with his canine enemies; and the efforts he made to keep them at a distance apparently considerably exhausted him. The Indians then shouted and threw sticks towards him, in order to irritate him and make him spring upon them; and having got up to within twenty yards of him, they next presented their lances in such a position that, when he might spring, they would receive him on the points. Suddenly he began to move; then he sprang, moving in a semicircular line, like a cat and uttering a tremendous roar. The lance-men kept their bodies bent, grasping their lances with both hands, while one end rested on the ground. I thought that the jaguar would have killed the man at whom he sprung, but the Indian was strong of nerve as well as of limb, and the point of his lance entered the jaguar's chest, when the others immediately rushed forward and despatched the savage brute with their weapons.
Old Quamodo told us how it sometimes happens that a hunter unfortunately fails to receive the jaguar on his lance; and in many instances he is torn to pieces before he can be assisted. His only resource on such an occasion is his manchette, or long knife,—by means of which, if he can stab the jaguar, he may possibly escape. Quamodo also narrated how, upon one occasion in his youth, when he was very fond of jaguar hunting, he only slightly wounded an animal with his lance, and the jaguar, closing with him, knocked him down with his paw. Keeping his presence of mind, however, he drew his long knife with one hand, while he seized the throat of the jaguar with the other. A desperate struggle ensued, and he received several severe wounds from the claws and teeth of the creature. As he rolled over and over he made good use of his knife, stabbing his antagonist until the jaguar sank down dead from loss of blood. He managed to crawl home, and recovered. He declared that as soon as he was well again he went out hunting, and killed a couple of jaguars, in revenge for the injuries he had received.
On another occasion, while out hunting, he fell asleep on a bank, exhausted by fatigue. Suddenly he was awakened by a tremendous blow on the side of the head. His natural impulse was to start up and shout lustily, when he saw a huge jaguar standing close to him, about to repeat the salute. His cries were heard by his companions, who were at a short distance, and they hastened to his assistance. The jaguar, however, was probably not very hungry, for before he could use his manchette, or his friends come up, the creature bounded off, leaving the hunter with the top of his ear torn away, and an ugly scratch on his head. Still the old Indian was of opinion that the jaguar seldom attacks human beings unless first molested by them.
We encountered and killed another animal, much in the same way as the first; and having secured their skins, we returned to the farm, and afterwards set off on our way home. As we emerged from the forest we saw that clouds of inky blackness were collecting rapidly overhead, and spreading across the whole valley.
"We must push forward, for we are about to have a storm, and no slight one," observed Uncle Richard. "Fast as we may go, however, we shall not escape the whole of it."
Scarcely had he spoken when a flash of the most vivid lightning darted from the sky, wriggling along the ground like a huge snake.
"It's well that we are in the open country; but even here we may be overtaken by one of those flashes—though Heaven grant that they may pass us by," said Uncle Richard.
The flashes were succeeded by the most tremendous roars of thunder, as if the whole artillery of heaven were being discharged at once. The animals we rode stopped and trembled, and when urged by the spur dashed forward as if running a race for their lives; indeed, it was no easy matter to sit them, as they sprang now on one side, now on the other. In a short time the rain came down in torrents, every drop, as the dominie declared, "as big as a hen's egg." As a natural consequence, in a few seconds we were wet to the skin, though that mattered but little.
While we were passing a lofty and magnificent tree, about fifty yards off, a flash darted from the sky, and a fearful crash was heard. The next instant the tree was gone, shivered to the very roots, while the fragments of its branches and trunk strewed the ground around. No shelter was at hand; indeed, unless to escape the rain, it would have been useless, for the strongest building would not have secured us from the effects of such a flash. Our great object was to keep away from any trees which might attract the lightning.
The storm was still raging when we arrived at home, where we found Dona Maria and Rosa in no small alarm about us,—thinking more of our safety than their own. They had closed all the windows and doors—as they said, to keep the lightning out; although in reality it only prevented them from seeing the bright flashes. The trembling mules were sent round to the stables; while Uncle Richard produced various articles from his wardrobe with which to clothe us.
The ladies laughed heartily as we made our appearance at the supper-table. Hugh was dressed with one of Rosa's petticoats over his shoulders, which she declared gave him a very Oriental look. The dominie had on a flowered dressing-gown of Uncle Richard's, with a pair of loose drawers, and a sash round his waist. Juan wore a red shirt, a sky-blue dress coat, and a pair of shooting breeches; while I was rigged out in an entire suit belonging to our host, a world too wide, and much too short.
The storm had by this time ceased, though the thunder, as it rolled away down the valley, was occasionally heard.
The ladies were amused by the account of our adventures, especially on hearing of the alarm of Mr Laffan at the unexpected appearance of the tiger-cat Uncle Richard having proposed music, Dona Maria and Rosa got their guitars and sang very sweetly.
"Now let us have a dance," cried our host, jumping up; "old Pepe plays the fiddle, and we have another fellow who is an adept with the pipes."
The persons named were sent for. The first was a grey-headed old man, half Spaniard, half Indian; the latter a young man, a pure-blooded Indian. The merry strains they struck up inspired us all; even the dominie rose and began to snap his fingers and kick his heels. Don Ricardo setting the example, we were soon all engaged in an uproarious country dance; while every now and then we burst into laughter, as we looked at each other, and criticised our costumes.
Pretty well tired out, we soon turned into our hammocks, Uncle Richard having proposed another excursion on the following day.
On getting up in the morning, we found all the females of the family already on foot, busily engaged in various household duties. Dona Maria, habited in a somewhat degage costume, was superintending the baking of Indian corn bread, which was done in the most primitive fashion. Some of the girls were pounding the grain in huge mortars with pestles, which it required a strong pair of arms to use; others were kneading large masses of the flour in pans, which were then formed into flat cakes, and placed on a copper "girdle" with a charcoal fire beneath, where they were quickly baked. They gave us some of the cakes to stay our appetites, just hot from the "girdle," and most delicious they were.
Having taken a turn round the fields, where the labourers were assembling to commence work, we returned to an early breakfast. As Mr Laffan had seen but little of the country, Uncle Richard proposed that we should visit some interesting places in the neighbourhood. Juan excused himself; he very naturally wished to pay his respects to Dona Dolores, and soon afterwards rode off.
"He is desperately in love, there's no doubt about that," remarked Dona Maria. "Dolores will make much of him, for she is equally attached to him, though she will not acknowledge it. She is a fine spirited girl—a devoted Patriot. She converted her father, who was rather disposed to side with the Godos for the sake of a quiet life; but she roused him up, and he is now as warm in the cause of liberty as she is."
"Are you not a Patriot, Aunt Maria?" I asked.
"I side with my husband, and he is an Englishman."
"But Englishmen love liberty and hate tyranny, if they are worthy of the name of Britons," I answered; "and I hope we shall all be ready, when the time comes, to fight for freedom."
"But we may lose our property and our lives, if the Spaniards prevail," she remarked.
"They must not prevail; we must conquer!" exclaimed Uncle Richard, who just then came in.
"Has Dona Dolores won you over?" asked Dona Maria of her husband.
"She is a noble creature, and sees things in their true light," answered Uncle Richard. "While the Spaniards have the upper hand, through keeping the people in subjection by their soldiers, and their minds in darkness and superstition through the teaching of the priests, our country can never flourish. All progress is stopped. Our agriculture is stunted, our commerce crippled, and no manufactures can exist."
"That's just what Dona Dolores says," observed Aunt Maria.
"And she says the truth," answered Uncle Richard. "I for one am resolved to aid the Patriot cause; and you, my dear wife, will acknowledge that I am acting rightly. You cannot wish to see our children slaves; and what else can they be, if, for fear of the consequences, we tamely submit to the yoke of Spain?"
I remembered this conversation in after-days, when Uncle Richard showed how fully he kept up to the principles he professed, and Dona Maria proved herself to be a true and faithful wife.
After Uncle Richard had transacted some business, we set off on our expedition, mounted on mules, for the road we had to traverse was rough and uneven in the extreme. We had several small rivers to cross, which, in consequence of the storm of the preceding day, had become torrents, and almost carried our mules off their legs. The beds of the streams, too, were full of large stones, which had fallen down from the mountains. In these torrents swimming is of no avail, as the water rushes on with irresistible force, carrying everything before it. Sometimes in the descent of the hills the mules sat on their haunches, gliding down with their fore-feet stretched out in the most scientific fashion.
At length, sliding down a steep descent, we arrived at the hot spring, which issues from an aperture about three feet in diameter, at the bottom of the valley—the water bubbling up very much like that in a boiling pot. Around the brink of the aperture is an incrustation of brimstone, of a light colour, from which we broke off several pieces and carried them away. The dominie put in his finger to test the heat of the water, but drew it out again pretty quickly.
"You will not find me doing that a second time!" he exclaimed, as he put his scalded finger into his mouth to cool it.
We had brought some eggs, which were boiled hard in little more than three minutes.
Mr Laffan having carried away some of the water, afterwards analysed it, and found it to be composed of sulphur and salt. On being exposed to the sun, the sulphur evaporated, and left pure white salt fit for use.
After leaving the spring, we continued some way further towards the Rio Vinaigre, or Vinegar River. On our road we passed several Indian huts perched on the summits of precipices which appeared perfectly inaccessible; but, of course, there were narrow paths by which the inhabitants could climb up to their abodes. They naturally delight in these gloomy and solitary situations, and had sufficient reasons for selecting them: for they were here free from the attacks of wild beasts or serpents, and also from their cruel masters the Spaniards, who were accustomed to drag them away to work in the mines, to build fortifications, or to serve in the ranks of their armies.
Dismounting, we climbed up a zig-zag path, to pay a visit to one of these Indian abodes which was less difficult to reach than the rest, although a couple of well-armed men, supplied with a store of rocks, could from the summit have kept a whole army at bay. The hut was the abode of an old Indian, the descendant of the chief of a once powerful tribe. We found him leaning against the sunny side of his house, and holding on to a long staff with which he supported himself. He was dressed in a large broad-brimmed hat, a poncho over his shoulders, and sandals on his feet. His projecting, dropping lower jaw exhibited the few decayed teeth he had in his head, which, with his lustreless eyes, made him look the very picture of decrepitude. He brightened up and rose, however, as he saw Uncle Richard,—with whom he was acquainted, and who had frequently shown him kindness,—and welcomed us to his abode.
The thatched hut was diminutive, and full of smoke, as there was but one small hole in the roof by which it could escape. Some distance behind it, and separated by a wide chasm, over which a bamboo bridge had been thrown, was a wide level space, with mountains rising above it, on which sheep and goats were feeding—the fields fenced round by a shrub called el lechero, or milk-tree, which derives its name from a white liquid oozing out of it when a branch is broken off. This liquid, however, is sharp and caustic. The sticks, about six feet in height, throw out young shoots like the osier, and when pruned become very thick, and form an excellent fence. Within the enclosure were growing patches of wheat, potatoes, and Indian corn, as also the yuca root, from the flour of which palatable cakes are formed. This mountain plantation was cultivated, the old man told us, by the faithful followers of his tribe. He had no children; he was the last of his race.
Uncle Richard had an object in paying the visit. The old Indian had considerable influence over the inhabitants of the surrounding hills, and he wished to stir them up, when the time should come, to join the Patriot ranks.
"I am too old myself to strike a blow for liberty," said the old man; "but often, as I gaze over yonder wide valley, and remember that once it belonged to my ancestors, that by the cruelty and oppression of the Godos my people are now reduced to a handful, and that the sufferings and death of thousands of my people rest on the heads of our oppressors, my heart swells with indignation. Si, Senor Ricardo, si. You may depend on me that I will use all the influence I possess to arouse my people, but I fear that we shall be able to send scarce fifty warriors into the field—many of them mere youths, although they have the hearts of men."
After some further conversation, Uncle Richard left a present with the old cacique, and we bade him farewell.
On reaching the foot of the cliff we met several Indians, who, having observed us from neighbouring heights, had come down to ascertain the object of our visit. Uncle Richard spoke to them, although not so openly as he had done to the chief. The men had a peculiarly serious cast of countenance; not one of them smiled while with us, but they appeared good-tempered, and were perfectly civil. Their eyes were large, fine, and full of expression; and two or three girls who were of the party were decidedly good-looking, which is more than can be said of Indian maidens in general. Each man was accompanied by a dog, of which he seemed very fond. Round their huts we saw abundance of fruit, and several fat pigs, so that they were evidently well off for provisions.
It is wonderful how long these Indians will go without food by chewing coca leaf, which is far more sustaining and refreshing than tobacco.
"Those men would make sturdy soldiers, and fight bravely," observed Uncle Richard, as we rode away.
Our destination was a small valley, through which the Rio Vinaigre makes its way towards the Cauca. We left our animals at the top of the hill, as the descent was so steep and slippery that it would have been impossible to ride down it. As it was, we could scarcely keep our legs, and the dominie more than once nearly fell head over heels.
Uncle Richard, by-the-by, had not told our worthy friend the character of the river-water. He had brought a cup, formed from a gourd, which answered the purpose of a "quaich," as it is called in Scotland; and we made our way down to the edge of the stream, where he could dip out a cupful. The water appeared bright and sparkling, and the dominie, who was thirsty after his walk, put it to his lips and took a huge gulp. Directly afterwards he spat it out, with a ridiculous grimace, exclaiming—
"Rotten lemons, iron filings, and saltpetre, by all that is abominable! Ah, faith! there must have been poison in the cup."
"Wash it out and try again," said Uncle Richard; "although, I tell you, I believe the cup is perfectly clean."
The dominie made a second attempt, with the same result.
"You find it taste somewhat like vinegar?" asked Uncle Richard.
"Indeed I do," answered Mr Laffan. "Is it always like this?"
"Yes," said Uncle Richard; "it comes in its present state out of the mountain, and you were not far from the truth in your description, as when analysed it is found to be acidulated, nitrous, and ferruginous. So completely does it retain these qualities, that in the Cauca, several leagues below where it falls into that river, not a fish is to be found, as the finny tribe appear to have as great a dislike to it as yourself."
The dominie, to satisfy himself, carried away half a bottle, for the purpose of analysing it on his return home.
Proceeding up the valley, we visited, in succession, three waterfalls, one of which came down over a perpendicular cliff, with a descent of a couple of hundred feet. We then bent our steps homewards, stopping by the way to dine and rest our animals at a farm belonging to Uncle Richard, and which it was one of the objects of our excursion to visit. The building was entirely of wood, with wide projecting eaves, supported by posts united by a railing, which gave it a very picturesque appearance. Around the house was an enclosure for the poultry, of which there was a great profusion. Indeed, it would have been difficult for a hen-wife to know her hens. Outside this was another enclosure for cattle and horses. In a smaller paddock were several llamas, which are not indigenous to this part of the country. They had been brought from Upper Peru, where they are used as beasts of burden, and were here occasionally so employed. It was a pretty rural scene.
"It's lovely, it's lovely! In truth, it reminds me of Old Ireland, barring the palm-trees, and the cacti, and the chirramoyas, and the Indian corn, and those llama beasts," exclaimed Mr Laffan. Then looking at the Indian women who were tending the poultry, he added, "And those olive damsels. Ah, young gentlemen, you should see my own fair countrywomen, and you would acknowledge that through the world you couldn't meet any beings so lovely under the blue vault of heaven— whatever there may be above it in the form of angels; and they are as modest as they are good."
Mr Laffan continued to expatiate on the perfections of green Erin's Isle, its mountains, lakes, and rivers, a theme in which he delighted, until his eyes glistened, and his voice choked with emotion, as he thought of the country he might never again see.
Uncle Richard having inspected the farm, and examined some of the horses, we mounted our animals and proceeded homewards. We were approaching the house, when we caught sight of Paul Lobo galloping towards us from the direction of Popayan.
"What is the matter?" exclaimed Uncle Richard, observing his excited manner.
"El senor doctor want to see you, Massa Duncan, in quarter less no time. Says he, You Paul Lobo, get on horseback and bring him here."
The horse stood panting for breath, its nostrils covered with foam, showing at what a rate he must have ridden.
"Why does he want to see me?" I asked anxiously. "Is he ill, or my mother or Flora?"
"No, no! dey all berry well; but el senor doctor got news from Cauca, and berry bad news too. De Spaniards enter dere, and cut de t'roats ob all de men 'cept what ride or run away, and de women as bad, and dey come on quick march to Popayan; do de same t'ing dere, no doubt."
"That is indeed bad news," I said. "We will get our horses and return home to-night; they are fortunately fresh. You must change horses, Paul, and go with us, after you have had some food."
"We must endeavour to oppose them, if it can be done with any chance of success," exclaimed Uncle Richard, who had just then come up. "I will accompany you, Duncan, and ascertain what your father advises. We will let Senor Monteverde and Dona Dolores know, in case they may not have received the information."
We immediately entered the house, and Uncle Richard sent off a messenger to the Monteverdes, where he supposed Juan would be found.
While we had dinner, and prepared for our ride, Paul took some food, and was again ready to start when the horses were brought round.
Dona Maria was much agitated on hearing the news. "Do nothing rash, my dear Richard," she said to her husband. "It is impossible to withstand the Godos."
"Nothing is impossible to brave men fighting in a just cause," answered Uncle Richard.
Embracing his wife and Rosa, to whom we had already bidden farewell, he joined us in the courtyard, where we sat our horses ready to start. We had a long ride before us in the dark, the road being none of the best, but our steeds were sure-footed, and we were well accustomed to them.
We had got to some distance, when we heard the tramp of horses coming along a road which led from the Monteverdes' house, and Dona Dolores, with her father and four domestics, all armed, came up. She sat her steed, as far as I could judge in the fast gathering gloom, like a person who had thorough command over it. She rode up to me, as if desirous of speaking; and I took the opportunity to inquire for my friend Juan, observing that he had not returned to Don Ricardo's.
"He has gone home to commence the career which, I trust, he will from henceforth follow," she replied. "He will endeavour to raise and arm the men on his property, as well as others from the surrounding villages. We were already aware that the Spaniards were advancing up the valley, and had been engaged in sending information in all directions to arouse the Patriots, and to counsel them to take up arms in defence of their homes and families. We may count on you, Senor Duncan? Young as you are, you may render essential service to our glorious cause, though your arm may not yet be strong enough to wield a sword."
"I believe I could make very good use of one, if necessary," I answered, somewhat piqued by her remark. "Juan would tell you that I can hold my own, even against him."
"I am glad to hear it," she observed.
"We must not count the cost, dear as that may be," I said; "but I shall be ready to yield up my life, and everything I possess, could I be sure that victory would be gained by the sacrifice."
"We may count on you, then, as a Patriot?"
"Yes, most certainly, as you can on Don Ricardo."
"And upon your tall tutor? I don't know his name."
I told her his name, and she immediately rode up alongside Mr Laffan. We were ascending a hill too steep to gallop up, which enabled us to hold this conversation. What the patriotic young lady said to the dominie I did not at the time know, but, whatever his previous sentiments were, her enthusiastic eloquence soon won him to the cause she had espoused.
On reaching the level ground, we galloped forward as hard as our horses could go, led by Uncle Richard. Our worthy tutor kept by the side of Hugh, about whom he seemed to have no little anxiety; but my young brother sat his horse as well as any of us, and assured Mr Laffan that he need not be troubled about him. Dona Dolores, with her father, followed close behind Uncle Richard, and whenever we were obliged to pull up she spoke with her usual earnestness to one or other of the party, as if eager to make the best use of the time in impressing her ideas on others. She did not disdain to speak even to Paul Lobo.
"I do what massa el senor doctor does," was the reply.
She found, at last, that she could make nothing of Paul—who was, however, as great a lover of liberty as any of us.
Crossing the bridge, we at length entered the city, where the streets were even more quiet than usual. We scarcely met a single person as we rode up to our house. It was perhaps as well that we did not, for the appearance of so large a party might have roused the suspicions of some of the Spanish authorities.
My father came in from visiting a patient at the moment we arrived. Dona Dolores and Senor Monteverde had, I should have said, parted from us, and gone to the house of a friend. My father seemed somewhat surprised at seeing Uncle Richard with us, but said he was very glad that he had come. We found supper on the table waiting us; and as soon as the servants had withdrawn, my father addressed me, and told us the particulars of the news he had received.
"This city will not be a safe place for women and children, or any one else, in a short time," he observed. "Those who have duties to perform must remain at their posts. I have numerous patients whom I ought not to and will not desert. I therefore sent for you, Duncan, to take charge of your mother and sister, and to escort them to your Uncle Richard's, where you can watch over their safety. I know that I can rely on Mr Laffan to assist you."
"Indeed, sir, you may," he replied; "while I have an arm to strike a blow, I will fight for the ladies."
"I hope that while they are in my house they will run no risk, removed as it is from the city," said Uncle Richard; "and if you will entrust them to my keeping, I will take care of them, along with my wife and daughter. Duncan and Mr Laffan may be of use here."
Uncle Richard then began to tell my father the plans which had been formed for preventing the Spaniards from entering the city.
My father stopped him. "I desire not to be acquainted with anything that is going forward. It is my duty to endeavour to heal the sick and wounded, in the character of a physician and a non-combatant. I may remain unmolested, and be able to serve the cause of humanity. As for Duncan and Mr Laffan, I will reconsider my intentions. I will, however, accept your offer as regards my wife and Flora, and place them under your care."
It was finally arranged that my mother and sister, with their female attendants, and Hugh, should set off the next morning, escorted by Uncle Richard; and that Mr Laffan and I should remain until, in the course of events, it might be decided what was best to be done.
MY MOTHER AND SISTER LEAVE POPAYAN WITH UNCLE RICHARD—MR. LAFFAN AND I ACCOMPANY THEM—LION GIVEN TO ME—MEET JUAN AND HIS TROOP—HEAR AN INSPIRITING ADDRESS FROM DONA DOLORES—A POLITICAL BALL AT DON CARLOS MOSQUERA'S—DONA DOLORES WARNS ME AGAINST CAPTAIN LOPEZ—SHE ENLISTS NUMEROUS RECRUITS—THE DOMINIE SHOWS THAT HE HAS HAD MILITARY EXPERIENCE—DRILLING THE LEVIES—THE CITIZENS EMPLOYED IN ERECTING FORTIFICATIONS—THE ENEMY APPROACH—PREPARATIONS FOR THE DEFENCE—THE SUMMONS TO ARMS—THE CITY ATTACKED—MR. LAFFAN AND I JOIN DON JUAN—THE ENEMY DRIVEN BACK—A SORTIE—THE ENEMY ATTACKED—GUNS CAPTURED—RETURN IN TRIUMPH TO THE CITY.
During the night information was received that the Spaniards, two days before, had entered Bouga, on the Cauca, leaving us in no doubt that they were advancing up the valley, and might be expected in our neighbourhood in the course of three or four days—perhaps even their cavalry might appear sooner, as they probably, thinking there was no force to oppose them, would push on ahead of the main body. My father therefore kept to his resolution of sending off my mother and sister; and the next morning at daylight, after a hurried breakfast, the horses and mules were brought round to the courtyard, ready to start. My mother and sister, and the female attendants, rode the mules; the rest of the party were mounted on horseback. It was settled that Mr Laffan and I should accompany them to Egido, as we could without difficulty be back before nightfall.
Our uncle, Dr Cazalla, came to see our mother off.
"I wish that you would accompany us, my dear brother," she said. "If the Spaniards take the place, you are certain to be annoyed and persecuted, even should no worse consequences follow."
"No, no; I must stay at my post, as your husband intends doing. We must set a good example. If the principal people run away, what may be expected of others?"
My mother's entreaties were of no avail, so Uncle Richard, finding that all was ready, gave the word to move on.
We proceeded as fast as the mules could travel, and by noon arrived at Uncle Richard's hacienda, where Aunt Maria and Rosa gave my mother a warm reception.
"We shall here, I trust, be safe from the Spaniards; but if we hear of their coming, we must take to the mountains, where even they will be unable to find us," said Dona Maria.
"But what will become of the house and estate?" asked my mother.
"We must leave that matter in God's hands," answered Dona Maria. "If the fruit trees are cut down, and the corn destroyed, he can restore them. The Godos cannot prevent that."
As soon as our horses had baited, the dominie and I prepared to start on our return. I embraced my mother and sister affectionately, and bade farewell to dear little Rosa and Aunt Maria. We knew not what might occur before we should meet again. I had, while staying at the house, admired a fine dog called Lion, which had grown from a puppy into a noble animal since I first saw him. The creature had taken a great fancy to me, too, and this had been observed by Uncle Richard.
"I make you a present of him, Duncan," said Uncle Richard; "he will prove faithful, I am sure, and may possibly be of service."
Lion was a species of hound, with a thick tawny coat and large paws, possessing prodigious strength. He was good-tempered and obedient, but at the same time it was very evident that he could fight desperately with those powerful jaws of his. Patting his head, I told him that he was to accompany us, and he seemed fully to understand me. The dominie was already mounted. Lion looked at Uncle Richard when he saw me getting on horseback, as if to ask if he was to go. Uncle Richard nodded, and pointed to me. So Lion set off, keeping close to my heels all the way, clearly understanding that I was in future to be his master.
Mr Laffan was as eager to get back to the town as I was, in order to hear the news. We were still about half a league from Popayan, when we saw, in an open space near a wood, a considerable body of men, some on horseback, others on foot, with flags fluttering above their heads. As we approached, one of them rode out to meet us, in whom I recognised Don Juan, though much changed in appearance. Instead of his civil garb he was dressed in military fashion, with a long lance in his hand, a carbine at his back, and pistols in his holsters.
"I have not been idle, you see, Duncan," he observed, after we had greeted each other. "I have raised fifty fine fellows, and hope to have a hundred more mounted and armed in a day or two. If every gentleman will do the same, we shall soon collect a Patriot force sufficient to drive back the Spaniards."
We rode forward with him to see his troop. The larger number were mounted, but there were some infantry armed with long guns—tall, sinewy fellows, dressed in broad-brimmed hats, loose trousers, and coats fastened by pouch belts round their waists. The horsemen also wore large sombreros, leggings and huge spurs, and tight-fitting jackets; and they were armed with spears and swords of various lengths. Some had pistols, others carbines, but the lance was the principal weapon.