« AnteriorContinuar »
W. P. R. to GENERAL MILLER. Our Imprisonment—The Goya Prison, and Inmates of the Prison
house-Its Furniture Our Flitting—A portentous Visit from Macdougall in his Dreadnought-A Dangerous Proposal-Rejected—Weapons of War laid down for the Fiddle-The SupperThe Comandantes Alarm and Interference-He desires to see us, being ill in bed—We refuse to go, but at length consent–The Liberation-Doña Rosita wins over her Papa, and marries her Lover-The result of the Interview-Mora's Chagrin-The Comandante's Rebuke of his Uncle-Mora, ashamed of his doings in Goya, takes to his Estancia, and there remains for Life Duval's Marriage.
London, 1842. WHEN we thus suddenly found ourselves really prisoners in the guard house of Goya, my brother and I called up, by an apparently simultaneous movement of the mind, all the incidents of the evening, and our first impulse was to indulge in a hearty fit of laughter. The former then related to me the particulars of his visit to Gonzalez, as I have detailed them in my last letter, and we came to the magnanimous conclusion that our wounded honour, as British subjects, was only to be healed by the defeat, in return, of our self-constituted enemy, the malignant Mora. We determined, accordingly,
that prisoners we would remain till we had ample retributive justice at the hands of the comandante, or if not at his, at those of the governor of the province.
Our prison was like no prison that you have ever seen or heard of in England. It was an immense galpon, or barn, having a door in the centre, and any other light which it received during the day, was admitted by the crevices of the thatched roof, or the time-worn apertures in the mud plastered and seamy walls. Such felons, (some of them in irons,) or other prisoners as were detained in it, were, on the present occasion, out of a rude respect to ourselves, huddled together at the opposite end of the building ; the soldiers occupied the centre, and we had a large space left at the other extremity of the barn, for ourselves. Mora had retired as soon as he saw us safely lodged in prison, and immediately after his departure, we got to be on free and easy terms with the officer on guard for the night. He had a latent suspicion that he was not quite right in acting on the orders of Mora, even though the latter was a justice of the peace; and hence the captain was willing to conciliate us as much as possible.
INMATES OF THE PRISON HOUSE.
We had only a couple of hides stretched out for our beds, three or four bullocks' skulls for chairs, and we were lighted by a rude earthen lamp, twothirds filled with tallow and grease, and a thick cotton wick stuck therein, which it was necessary every now and then to trim, in order to keep its flame alive. The vessel was a small low circular bowl with a handle of Indian manufacture, but not unlike a Roman relic. The floor was neither more nor less than the ground on which the building had been erected, now trodden into an uneven surface of loose clay. The walls had in many places lost their half-plastering of not adhesive mud; and in these, showing forth the canes used instead of lathes, they looked like the projecting ribs of the carcase of a horse, allowing the free admission of atmospheric air.
The habiliments of the soldiers, and even of the officer, were in keeping with their rough guardhouse. Uncombed hair and unwashed faces, with a profusion of black whiskers and mustachios, tattered clothes, the untanned horse-skin leggings, called potro boots, coming over the instep, but leaving the toes bare; horse pistols and knives stuck in their girdles, and carbines in their hands ;
such were to be our guardians for the night. The officer's costume differed from that of his men, only by being somewhat better in its general contour. As to the prisoners confined in the quartel, they had the look of demons, half naked, filthy, rattling in irons, reckless and hardened in their words and actions, terrible, because murderous in their looks.
Being still somewhat excited by the events of the evening, we called the officer, and asked him if there were any objection to our getting some furniture into our prison ? He was puzzled by such an unlooked for wish on our part, involving, as he thought, so unnecessary an addition to a night's lodging; but as he had no orders to prevent his gratifying our desire, he told us to do as we liked. Our factotum, Juan, was forthwith in requisition, and the officer good-naturedly lent one of his men to assist in transferring the furniture of my room, including my grand tiger skin carpet, to our prison; chairs, sofa, table, sideboard, plated candlesticks, decanters, all were brought over, and the prison being within a hundred yards of the cottage, the operation was soon concluded. Great was the admiration of the soldiers, greater
A PORTENTOUS VISIT FROM M'DOUGALL.
that of the felons, as they saw one end of the gloomy galpon, assuming the air of a comfortable room; and Rembrandt ought to have been there to see the strong light which illuminated our end of the prison, and our own figures, and the deep dark glare which was thrown on the savage, but picturesque group of soldiers, and fettered banditti, the latter mingled together, and over each other's shoulders, scanning in wonder our movements, to them at once incomprehensible and mysterious. On the whole, however, they were much pleased with the transformation which we effected.
We got our wine and water, treated the officer and his men, laughed over the events of the night, and calculated how things might go with us in the morning.
We were thus sitting at our ease, towards twelve o'clock, having ordered in supper, the preparations for which gave evident satisfaction to our fellow prisoners at the other end, when the officer informed me that some one wished to see me at the door. “I know,” he added, "you have no design of escaping to night, and you may therefore go freely, on your parole, and speak with your friend.”
It had begun to rain, and the person seeking me