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The escort of a squad of Spanish cavalry,
unexpected and unsatisfactory as it was,
removed the immediate or actual necessity
for the presence of his troop i/vith the little
party of Eunice's retainers. None the less
did he assure her that he should rejoin the
party with his larger force, though he did
think it advisable to keep these out of the
sight of the officers at the Spanish outposts.
The outposts (Hice passed, he and his would
journey in one part of the province as easily
as in another.

To a reader in our time, it is difficult,
indeed, to understand why all this machin-
ery of passport should be maintained, or
why Nolan should have had any anxiety
about his welcome. Such a reader must
leam, and must remember, therefore, that
under the old colonial system of Spain, the
crown held its colonies in the state of sepa-
ration which we speak of sometimes as
Japanese or Paraguayan, though it be now
abandoned in both Japan and Paraguay. On
tHe theory that it was well to maintain colo-
nies for the benefit of what was called the
Metropolis, that is, the European State,
the people of the Spanish colonies were
sternly forbidden to manufacture a»y article
which could be supplied firom home. With
the same view, all trade between them and
other nations than the Metropolis was abso-
lutely forbidden, and, to prevent trade, all
communication was forbidden, excepting at
certain ^^ecified ports of entry, and with
certain formal passes. At the time with
which we have to do, the people of Mexico,
and, therefore, the few scattered inhabitants
of'this region, which we now call Texas, a
part of Mexico, were not permitted to culti-
vate flax, hemp, saffiron, the olive, the vine,
nor the mulberry, and any communication
between them and the French colony of
Louisiana, to the east of them, had been
^ctly forbidden. What the line between
Mexico and Louisiana was, no man could
certainly say. But it was certain Natchito-
ches in Louisiana had been a French out-
post, while Nacogdoches in Texas and San
Antonio were Mexican outposts. The terri-
tory between the Rio Grande and the Red
River had always been claimed, with more
or less tenacity, by both crowns.

That there should be animosity between
Mexico and Louisiana while one was French
and one was Spanish was natural enough,
even if the crowns of France and Spain
were united in a family alliance. It is not
so easy to see why this animosity did not
vanish when Louisiana became a Spanish



province, as it was in this year 1800, in
which we are tracing along our party of
travelers. And it is certainly true that a
guarded trade was springing up between
Orleans and Natchitoches on the one hand,
and the Mexican province on the other.
But it is as sure that this trade was watched
with the utmost suspicion.

For it involved the danger, as the Mexi-
can authorities saw, of a vic^ation of their
fundamental principle of isolation. The^
doubtless feared that the silver from theu:
northern mines might be a tempting bait to
the wild Anglo-Americans of the Mississippi,
of whose prowess they heard tales which
would quite confirm the boast that their
adventurers were half-horse and half-alliga-
tor. Trade with the civilized Frenchmen,
who had a few weak posts on the Missis-
sippi, might be tolerable, now that their colo-
nists were under the flag of Spain. But
who and what were these sons of Anak, on
the other side of the Mississippi River, who
carried a starry flag of their own ?

It must be remembered, also, that from the
moment that the Independence of the United
States was secure, the new settlers of the
West had determined that they would have
a fi'ee navigation to the sea, %)ain or no
Spain. They had made many different
plans for this, none of them very secret.
There were those who hoped that Louisiana
might become French again, and were will-
ing to annex Kentucky to Louisiana as a
French province. There were agents down
firom the Canadian Government, intimating
that King George could get command of a
route through to the sea, and would not the
people of Kentucky and Teimessee like to
join him ? There were simple people who
did not care what stood in the way, but were
ready to march in their might and sweep
out of the valley anybody who hmdered the
Kentucky tobacco fix)m finding its way to
the markets of Europe. None of these
plans regarded the King of Spain or his
hold of the mouth of the Mississippi River
with any reverence or favor.

Philip Nolan, however, had made his
earlier expeditions into Texas with the ftill
assent and approval of the Spanish Gov-
ernors of Louisiana. When he came back,
as has been said, he gave the Governor
some handsome horses fix)m the wild drove
which he had collected; he received the
Governor's thanks, and had no difficulty in
getting leave to go again. And if Philip
Nolan's name had been Sancho Panza or
lago del Toboso, and if his birthplace had



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been in Andalusia or Leon, he might, per-
haps, have gone back and forth, with horses
or without them, for fifty years, and this
little history would then certainly never have
been written.

But his name was not Sancho Panza — it
was Philip Nolan. And his companions
were not Mexican cattle-drivers, nor even
yoxmg hidalgos hanging about town in
Orleans. There were a few young Ken-
tuckians, like Harrod and himself; there
were Americans fix)m a dozen different
States, and there were but six Spaniards in
his whole party.

He seems to have regarded it as a matter
of indifference where this party made its
rendezvous. As he had the permission of
the Spanish Governor to trade, it certainly
shoula have made no difference. But, in
fact, his men made their rendezvous and
were recruited at Natchez, within the
United States territory, a town of which
the Spaniards had but lately given up the
possession to the American authorities, and
that only after much angry talk and in very
bad blood. That a party of twenty-one
young adventurers, under the lead of an
American as popular and distmguished as
Philip Nolan, should cross west into Mexico
from Natchez, — this was, it may be supposed,
what excited the jealousy of the military
officers in command in Northern Mexico.
The local jealousy between them and the
officials of their own King in Orleans came
in also to help the prejudice with which
the young American was regarded.

Nolan rode away with one of the men in
buckskin who had joined with Harrod,
throwing a kiss to Inez with that mixture
of mock gallantry and real feeling which
might have been traced in all their inter-
course with each other. "Au revoir," cried
she to him. And he answered, "Au revoir,"
and was gone.

" We shall miss him sadly," said Eunice,
after a moment's silence, "and I cannot
bear to have him speak with anxiety of his
expedition. He has staked too much in it
to be disappointed."

The travelers followed on their whole
route what was even then known as the Old
San Antonio Road — a road which followed
the trail made by the first adventurers as
early as 1715* It was not, and is not by
any means as straight as the track of a bee
or a carrier pigeon, and it was after they
had had the experience of four nights under
canvas that they approached the Spanish
post of Nacogdoches,



The conversation had again fallen on the
probable danger or safety of Nolan's party.

William Harrod said what was quite
true — that Nolan would never be anxious
for a moment about his own risks ; but he
was too loyal to these young men who had
enlisted with him, to lead them into danger
of which he had not given warning.

" For himself he has no fear," said Inez.

"Nor ever had," was Hairod's reply.
"Why, Miss Inez, I was with him once
when a party of Apaches ought to have
fiightened us out of our wits if we had had
any. I dare not tell you how many there
were, but the boys said there were five
hundred, and if they had said five thousand
I would not have contradicted them ; and
we poor white skins, we were but fourteen
all told. Ahd th&re was Master Nolan as
cool as a winter morning. He was here, he
was there. I can see him now, asking one
of our faint-hearted fellows for a plug of
tobacco, just that Ije might say somethinj^
pleasant to the poor fiightened dog and
cheer him up. He was in his element till it
all was over."

"And how was it over?" said Inez*
" Did you have to fight them ?"

" Yes, and no. We did not get off with-
out firing a good many shots before that day
was over; and if, whenever we come to
dance with each other. Miss Inez, you ever
find that my bridle arm here is the least bit
stiff, why, it is because of a flint-headed
arrow one of those rascals put through it
that day. But Master Phil outgeneraled
them in the end."

"How?"

"Oh, it was a simple enough piece of
border strategy. He brought us down to a
shallow place in the river, not commanded,
you know, by any blufi^ or high land ; and
here, with great difficulty, we crossed and
got our wild horses across, and all our packs,
and went into camp with pickets out, and
so on. And then, at midnight, he waked
every man of us fi-om sleep, took us all back
under a sky as dark as Egypt, marched us
full five miles back on the trail where they
had been hunting us; and, while my red
brethren were watching and waiting to cut
our throats at daybr^ — having crossed
the river to lie in wait for us as soon as we
started — why, we were * over the hills and
far away ! ' "

"I don't think the Captain likes the
Apaches," he said grimly, as he finished his
little story.

"But he can be very kind with the



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515



Indians. How pleasant it was to see him
talking with those — Lipans. did you call
them?"

" Oh, yes ; and they knew him and they
fear him; and so far as it is in savage
nature they love him. Far and wide you
will hear them tell these stories of the Cap-
tain of the Longknives — that is what they
call him; for they have seen him twenty
times oftener than they have seen any
other officer — Spanish, French, or American.
Twenty times? They have seen him a
hundred times as often."

"For he has done good service to the
Spanish crown," said Eimice, joining again
in the conversation. " Though these Span-
ish gentlemen choose to be suspicious, the
Captain has been their loyal friend. The
Baron Carondelet trusted him implicitly,
and Governor Gayoso either feared him or
loved him. This is certain — that the Cap-
tain has done for them all that he ever said
he would do, and much more."

"You say '^)anish and American,'"
said Inez, laughing. " And now that he is
the confidential agent of General Bonaparte,
you must say * French' as well."

" You remind me," said William Harrod,
" to ask what I am to say if our Spanish
firiends at the fort yonder should wish to
pariez-vous a little. The Captain would
give them as good as they sent or better.
But poor I — ^when I have said, * Bon jour !
comment vous portez vous ?' and * Je n'en-
tends pas' — I have come to the end of my
vocabulary. What in the worid shall I do?"

" You must have a toothache," said Inez,
laughing, as usual.

" Oh, no," said Eunice. " The confiden-
tial agent is a diplomatist; and this, for a
diplomatist is a very large stock in trade.
Let me try.

" I will be Captain Alfonso Almonte,
Acting Major Commandant of His Most
Catholic Majesty's Presidio and Fort of Our
Lady of the Bleeding Heart on the Green
River of the West. One of my pickets
brin^ in, in honorable captivity, the Seiiora
Eunice Perry, of Orleans, with the Senorita
Inez Perry, of the same city, and a mixed
company of black, white, and gray, includ-
ing three men in buckskin, and M. Philippe,
the confidential officer of First Consul
Bonaparte, Major-General commanding.

"Well, all the others prove to be just
what they should be — amiable, charming
travelers, and only too loyal in their enthu-
siasm for His Most Catholic Majesty Kmg
Charles the Fourth. After I have sent them



all to feast from silver and gold, then I turn
to you. Monsieur Philippe, and I say :

" * When did you leave Paris, Monsieur ? ' "

Harrod entered into the joke, and replied
bravely :

"I say, * Bon jour!'"

" Do you ? Well, then, I say * Good-day.
I hope I see you very well, and may Heaven
preserve your life for many years ! ' "

" What do you say now ? "

" If you would say that in nice homespun
English," said Harrod, " I would say, * The
same to you. Long life and many years
to you. Suppose we have something to
drink.'"

" No ; you must not say that to a Major
Commandant. It is not etiquette. Besides,
he does not speak in English. He speaks
in French. What do you say ? "

" I think the best thmg I could say would
be, *Je n'entends pas.' See. I would
put up my hand, so, as if I did not quite
catch His Excellency's meaning, and then,^
very cautiously, and a little as if I would
deprecate his anger, I would say, "Je
n'entends pas.'"

" But this is mere cowardice. You only
postpone the irrevocable moment. I should
speak a great deal louder. I should scream
and say : * Bon jour I Dieu te benisse 1 Quel
heureux hasard vous a conduit dans ce
pays ? ' I should say this with the last scream
of my lungs — and you ? "

" Why, I think I would then say, * Com-
ment vous portez vous. Monsieur ? ' Perhaps
it would be better to say that at the be-
ginning."

"Well, we shall soon find out," said
Eunice. " For here is the picket, and here
is the chaUenge."

Sure enough, as they approached the
adobe buildings of the Fort, a trooper rode
out, sufficiently well equipped to show that
he was in the Royal service, and asked,
"Who goes there?"

Ransom was ready for him, and had
learned this time that civility was the best
policy. The corporal of the Spanish escort
rode forward, and exchanged a word or two
with the sentry of the garrison, who threw
up his lance in salute, and they all filed by.-
A Mexican woman at work making cakes
looked up and smiled a pretty welcome.
She was " grinding in a mill." That means
that she had two stones, one somewhat con-
cave, and the other, so to speak, a gigantic
pestle, which filled or fitted into the cavity.
Into the cavity she dipped in com, which
had been already hulled by the use of lye^



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and with the stone she ground it into an
impalpable paste. Had the ladies staid long
enough to watch this new form of household
duties, they would have seen her form with
her hands and bake the tortilla, with which
they were destined to be better acquainted.
As it was, they paused but a moment, as
the cortege filed by. But they had seen
enough to know that they were indeed in a
foreign country, and that now they were to
begin to see the customs and hear the lan-
guage of the subjects of their King.

Orleans, after all, was a pure French city,
and till now none of this party, excepting
Harrod, had any real experience of Mexican
life. Nacogdoches was not even a town,
though the rudiments of a civil settle-
ment were beginning to appear around the
garrison. The party were halted until their
different passes codd be examined, but the
news of the arrival of such a cortege had, of
course, run like wild-fire through the post.
In a very few minutes, Don Sebastian Rod-
riguez, the Commandant, had come forward
in person, bare-headed, to tender his respects
to the ladies, and to beg them to leave the
saddle. He introduced Colonel Trovino,
the officer of the day, who said his wife
begged them to honor her by accepting her
poor hospitality, and trusted that they would
fed at home in her quarters.

The uniform of the "officer of the day"

was quite different from the uniform of any

Spanish officers whom Inez had ever seen

before. For Nacogdoches, like the rest of

Mexico, was xmder the rule of the Council

for the Indies, while Orleans was governed

directiy by the Crown. This gentleman had

such a coat and waistcoat as the ladies had

seen in pictures of a generation before. He

had on boots which resembled a litde an

artered up, so soft and

ler. His coat and vest

so that the costume did

:y, but the whole aspect,

efficiency. His costume

d definition of a gentle-

jre was no question but

id ride for his life."

^ack to call his wifb, and

;erly to lift Inez from her

Sebastian rendered the

ice.

came forward shyly, but
to meet the ladies, and
nensely relieved when
ality, addressed her in
word had been through
party of Americans had



arrived, and there was some terror, mixed
with much curiosity, as one and another of
the natives met the strangers. When Eunice
spoke to the Donna Maria Trovino in Spanish
rather better than her own, the shadow of
this terror passed firom her face, and, indeed.
Colonel Trovino's face took on a different
expression.

In far less time than people who call in
carriages and keep lists of visitors can con-
ceive, the three women were perfectly at
home with one another. In less than five
minutes appeared a little collation consisting
of chocolate and wine and fruit, and, as the
Seiiora Trovino with some pride pointed out,
a cup of tea. Neither Eunice nor Inez
implied, by look or tone, that this luxury
was not an extreme rarity to them. To have
said that tea had been served by Ransom
morning and night at every resting-place,
and at every bivouac, since they left Orieans,
would have done no good, and certainly
would not have been kind.

Meanwhile, in the outer room, which
served the purpose of an office for Colonel
Trovino, this functionary and Harrod were
passing through an examination, none the
less severe that it was couched with all the
forms of courtesy. But with the Colonel,
as with his lady, the Castilian language
worked a spell to which even the wax and
red tape of the Governor Casa Calvo were
not equal. Nor was any curiosity expressed
because M. Philippe did not speak in French.
And when, after this interview, the Colonel
and Harrod joined the ladies, as they did,
Ransom, having respectfully withdrawn
under the pretext of seeing personally to
the horses of the party, Inez was greatly
amused to see the diplomatic agent, Mon-
sieur Philippe, and the Colonel command-
ing, Don Francesco Trovino, talking Span-
ish together with the ease and regard of old
companions in arms.

Harrod said afterward that a common
danger made even rabbits and wolves to be
friends. " And my firiend the Colonel was
so much afi-aid of this redoubtable filibuster
* Nolano,* with his hundreds of giant ' Ken-
tuckians,' that when he found a meek
little Frenchman like me, with never a
smack of English on my tongue, he was
eager to kiss and be firiends."

The conversation, indeed, had not been
very unlike that which they had but just
now rehearsed in jest. Ransom, with per-
fect civility this time, had explained that
these were Spanish ladies, with their ser-
vants, traveling to San Antonio, on a visit



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to their relations. The name of Barelo, his
brother officer, was enough to command the
respect of Colonel Trovino, who was only
too voluble in expressing the hope that
his pickets and sentries had been civil.

" In truth," he said, " we have been cau-
tious, perhaps too cautious ; but no, a ser-
vant of the King is never too cautious;
a soldier is never too cautious. But we
have received now one, two, three alarms
that the Americans are to attack us. We
do not know if there is peace ; we do not
know if there is war. But we do not love
republics, we soldiers of the King. And if
my men had taken you for the party of No-
lano, well, well — it is well — that there were
ladies was itself your protection. The fili-
busters do not bring with them ladies." •

Harrod was troubled to find that Nolan's
reputation on the frontier was so bad, and
felt at once that his chief had not rated at
the full the perils of his position, when he
ascribed them merely to a difference between
Orleans Spaniards and Spaniards of Texas.
Of course, the young man let no sign escape
him which should show that he was inter-
ested in Nolan or his filibusters. He was
only hoping that Blackburn and the other
men outside might be as prudent In a
moment more the Colonel said, with some
embarrassment :

" I beg your pardon that I addressed you
in the Castilian. I see fix)m Major Mo-
rales's pass that you are a French gentle-
man. We forget that our fiiends in Orleans
yonder do not all use our language."

HaiTod laughed good-naturedly, and,
speaking in the Castilian, as before, said :

" It is indeed a pleasure to me to speak
in the Spanish when I am permitted. As
the language is more convenient to the
ladies, let us retain it, if you please."

The Colonel had been about to say that
he would call a lieutenant upon his staff,
who spoke the French more freely than he
did. But the readiness, of the French gen-
tleman saved him fix)m this necessity, and,
with relief only next to that which he hsyl
shown when he found he was not talking to
the dreaded Nolan, he entered into firee



• This word ** filibusters "^^riginally the English
word " freebooters/' and as sndi fiuniuarly used on
die coast of Mexico and the Spanish main — ^had
degenerated on Spanish tong[ttes into the word '* iil-
ibustier.'* It was fiuniliarlv used for an inyader
who came for plunder, whetner he crossed the fron-
tier by land or by sea. It has passed back into our
language without regaining its original spelling and
pranui^iation.



conversation in his own tongue. In this
language Harrod had for many years been
quite at home.

The Colonel finished his examination of
the elaborate pass fiunished by Casa Calvo ;
intimated that he would prepare a more
formal document than that given in the
saddle by Major Morales, and then, hav»
ing made himself sure that the little colla-
tion was prepared, proposed that they should
join the ladies.

The ladies felt as Harrod had done, that
a single word even of English might preju-
dice the cordiality of their reception. Even
old Ransom had made this out, by that
divine instinct or tact which was an essen-
tial part of his make-up. And when he
came for orders, so-called, from the ladies,
even if he whispered to them and they to
him, it was alwa^ in the Spanish language.
Indeed, Inez said afterward, that when he
chose to swear at the muleteers, it was in
oaths of the purest Castilian.

As he left the room for the first time,
Harrod called him back, and whispered to
him also. This was to bid him tell Black-
bum and the others of his immediate com-
mand that, as they loved Captain Nolan,
they were not to speak in English, either to
Harrod or to one another, whUe they were in
Nacogdoches. They were to remember that
they were all French hunters, and if they
did not ^eak French, they must speak
Choctaw — an alternative which all three
accepted.

" Let me present to you, my dear wife,
Monsieur Philippe, the gentleman who
accompanies these ladies, a French gentle-
man, my dear."

Harrod bowed with all the elegance of
Paris and Kentucky united.

" I have been explaining, ladies, to your
friends, the causes of these preparations of
war; the oversight of pas^wrts, and the
challenge of travelers, so unusual and so
foreign to hospitality in the time of peace —
if indeed this be peace. May God bless us.
Only He knows, and the blessed Virgin."

" Is it then a time of war ? " asked Eunice,
" and with whom ? "

"The good God knows, Senora; if only
I were equally fortunate. Whether our gra-
cious master, the good King Charies IV.,
is not at this moment in war with this great
general, Bonaparte," and he bowed with a
droll and sad effort at civility toward " Mon-
sieur Philippe," as if that gentleman were
himself the young Corsican adventurer;
" or, whether these wild republicans of the



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American States have not made war upon
us; the good God — ^may He bless us all! —
and the Holy Mother know, but I do not."

" Surely, I can relieve your anxiety, Colo-
nel," said Eunice, in her most confiding
manner. " We are not yet a fortnight fit)m
Orleans, and we had then news only nine
weeks from Europe. So far fix)m war, the
First Consul was cementing peace with our
august King. I shall have pleasure in
showing you a French gazette which makes
us certain of that happy intelligence. Then,
from our neighbors of the American States



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 89 of 163)