“I will see it.”
“Excellency, at your pleasure,” said the general, hoping not to have been obliged to show this document.
“Now, if you please, general.”
“At once, excellency.”
General Harero produced the letter, and handed it with something very like a blush tinging his sunburnt check, to his commander-in-chief. Tacon read it slowly, pausing now and then to re-read a line, and then, remarked, as he slowly folded it up once more:
“A love affair.”
“Why, your excellency will easily understand that the young officer has dared to lift his eyes to one above his rank, and she cares nothing for him. His causes for complaint are all imaginary.”
“Well, be this as it may, in that I shall not interfere. He has been guilty of a serious breach of discipline and must suffer for it. You may take the necessary steps at once in the matter, general.”
“Excellency, yes,” said General Harero, hastening away with secret delight, and at once taking such measures as should carry out his own wishes and purposes.
The result of the matter was, that before ten o’clock that morning the note conveying the challenge was answered by an aid-de-camp and a file of soldiers, who arrested Captain Bezan for insubordination, and quietly conducted him to the damp underground cells of the military prison, where he was left to consider the new position in which he found himself, solitary and alone, with a straw bed, and no convenience or comfort about him. And it is not surprising that such a situation should have been particularly suggestive to a mind so active as that of Lorenzo Bezan.
To know and fully realize the bitter severity exercised in the Spanish prisons, both at Madrid and in Havana, one must have witnessed it. Cold, dark and dreary cells, fit only to act as supports to the upper and better lighted portions of the dismal structure, are filled by those persons who have incurred in any way the displeasure of the military board of commission. Here, in one of the dampest and most dreary cells, immured with lizards, tarantulas, and other vile and unwholesome reptiles, Captain Bezan, but so very recently-risen from a sick bed, and yet smarting under his wounds, found himself. He could now easily see the great mistake he had made in thus addressing General Harero as he had done, and also, as he knew very well the rigor of the service to which he was attached when he considered for a moment, he had not the least possible doubt that his sentence would be death.
As a soldier he feared not death; his profession and experience, which had already made him familiar with the fell destroyer in every possible form and shape, had taught him a fearlessness in this matter; but to leave the air that Isabella Gonzales breathed, to be thus torn away from the bright hopes that she had given rise to in his breast, was indeed agony of soul to him now. In the horizon of his love, for the first time since his heart had known the passion, the sun had risen, and the genial rays of hope, like young spring, had commended to warm and vivify his soul.