“But what’s the secret of Bezan’s good fortune?” asked one.
“His luck, to be sure-born under a lucky star.”
“Not exactly luck, alone, but his own intrepidity and manliness,” replied a fellow-officer. “Haven’t you heard of his saving the life of young Gonzales, who fell into the bay from the parapet of the Plato?”
“Not in detail. If you know about the affair, recite it,” said another.
Leaving the mess, as did Captain Bezan at this juncture, we will follow the thread of our story in another chapter, and relating to other scenes.
A sudden introduction.
It was again night in the capital; the narrow streets were brilliantly lighted from the store windows, but the crowd were no longer there. The heat of the long summer day had wearied the endurance of master and slave; and thousands had already sought that early repose which is so essential to the dwellers in the tropics. Stillness reigned over the drowsy city, save that the soft music which the governor-general’s hand discourses nightly in the Plaza, stole sweetly over the scene, until every air seemed heavy with its tender influence and melody. Now it swelled forth in the martial tones of a military band, and now its cadence was low and gentle as a fairy whisper, reverberating to the ear from the opposite shore of Regla, and the frowning walls of the Cabanas behind the Moro, and now swelling away inland among the coffee fields and sugar plantations.
The long twilight was gone; but still the deep streak of golden skirting in the western horizon lent a softened hue to the scene, not so bright to the eye, and yet more golden far than moonlight: “Leaving on craggy hills and running streams A softness like the atmosphere of dreams.”
At this favorite hour the Senorita Isabella Gonzales and her young brother, Ruez, attended only by the wolf hound, who seemed to be almost their inseparable companion, were once again strolling in the cool and retired walk of the Plato. The lady moved with all the peculiar grace so natural to the Spanish women, and yet through all, a keen observer might have seen the lurking effects of pride and power, a consciousness of her own extraordinary beauty, and the control it gave her over the hearts of those of the other sex with whom she associated. Alas! that such a trait should have become a second nature to one with so heavenly a form and face. Perhaps it was owing to the want of the judicious management of a mother, of timely and kindly advice, that Isabella had grown up thus; certainly it seemed hard, very hard, to attribute it to her heart, her natural promptings, for at times she evinced such traits of womanly delicacy and tenderness, that those who knew her best forgot her coquetry.