“That might have been called an act of deliberate wisdom,” said L’Isle, “had it not been stamped with feebleness and cowardice in the execution. Resistance was hopeless against France united with Spain, its tool, and soon to be its victim. Yielding to the storm left the invaders without apology for the plunder and atrocities the French have since perpetrated on the people. Nor was it a sudden thought. As long ago as the beginning of the last century, a Portuguese Secretary of State, seeing the defenceless condition of his country, urged that the King should remove to Brazil, and fix his court at Rio Janeiro. He points out the dependent state of his country in Europe, and asks: ‘What is Portugal?’ A corner of land divided into three parts; one barren, one belonging to the church, and the other part not even producing grain enough for the inhabitants. Look now at Brazil, and see what is wanting! The soil is rich, the climate delightful, the territory boundless, and the city would soon become more flourishing than Lisbon. Here he might extend his commerce, make discoveries in the interior, and take the title of Emperor of the West.’ In truth, the behavior of the house of Braganza in this migration, contrasts well with the infamous conduct of the Spanish Bourbons.”
They had strolled on to the foot of a tower within the fort, and Cranfield led the party to the top to survey the panorama around them. The horizon was pretty equally divided between Portugal and Spain. On the North, close at hand, rose the rugged Serra de Portalegre, famous for its chesnut forests; to the west was the fertile plain of Eastern Alemtejo, crossed by the enormous pile of the aqueduct, and backed by the heights of Serra D’Ossa; to the south and east, the valley of the Guadiana lay before them, with few marks of culture on the Spanish side; and the eye could range over the sheep pastured plains of Estremadura to the misty sides and blue tops of the sierras that shut them in on either hand.
In the East, nine miles off, by the straight path the vulture makes, rose Badajoz, capped by its castle, and over-looked by fort San Christoval on a high hill across the river. The fame of its sieges during this war, its stubborn defence and bloody fall within the year, drew the eyes of the ladies on it. L’Isle pulled out a field glass to aid them in inspecting it. When the Portuguese ladies got hold of it, they were as much delighted as children with a new toy, snatching it out of each other’s hands, without allowing time for its deliberate use, and protesting against their Spanish neighbors being brought so near to them.
“If they are so delighted at the powers of this little thing,” said L’Isle, “what would they think of the glass Lord Wellington had put up in this tower during the siege of Badajoz?”
“Were its powers so great?” Mrs. Shortridge asked.