“Rise, and I will tell you,” replied the other, while he shaded the lantern with his hand.
“Speak on, I am listening,” replied Lorenzo Bezan, rising to his feet.
“I would speak of your liberty.”
“My liberty? I am condemned to die, and do you come to mock me?”
“Be patient; the way is open, and you may yet escape from death.”
“And what should interest you, General Harero, in my fate? Your purpose is gained; I am removed from your path; why do you visit me thus at this still hour of the night, and in so extraordinary a manner by a secret entrance to my cell?”
“All this matters nothing. I came not here to answer questions. On one condition you are free. I have the means of your escape at hand.”
“Name the condition,” said the prisoner, though without exhibiting the least interest.
“There is a vessel which will sail for America with the morning tide; swear if I liberate you that you will take passage in her, and never return to this island.”
“Never!” said the soldier, firmly. “I will never leave those I love so dearly.”
“You refuse these terms?” continued the general, in a hoarse tone of voice.
“I do, most unhesitatingly. Life would be nothing to me if robbed of its brightest hope.”
“You will not consider this for a moment? it is your only chance.”
“I am resolved,” said Lorenzo Bezan; “for more than one reason I am determined.”
“Then die for your obstinacy,” said General Harero, hoarse with rage and disappointment.
Thus saying, General Harero descended into the secret passage from whence he had just emerged, and replacing the stone above his head, the prisoner heard the grating of the rusty bolts and bars as they were closed after him. They grated, too, most harshly upon his heart, as well as upon their own hinges, for they seemed to say, “thus perishes your last hope of reprieve-your last possibility of escape from the fate that awaits you.”
“No matter,” said he, to himself, at last, “life would be of little value to me now if deprived of the presence of Isabella, and that dear boy, Ruez, and therefore I decided none too quickly as I did. Besides, in honor, I could hardly accept my life at his hands on any terms-he whom I have to thank for all my misfortunes. No, no; let them do their worst, I know my fate is sealed; but I fear it not. I will show them that I can die as I have lived, like a soldier; they shall not triumph in my weakness so long as the blood flows through my veins.”
With this reflection and similar thoughts upon his mind, he once more threw himself upon the hard damp floor, and after thinking long and tenderly of Isabella Gonzales and her brother, he once more dropped to sleep, but not until the morning gun had relieved the sentinels, and the drum had beat the reveille.