The execution scene.
The morning was bright and beautiful that ushered in the day which was appointed for the execution of Captain Lorenzo Bezan, in accordance with the sentence passed upon him. The birds carolled gaily in the little grove that is formed about the fountain which fronts the governor-general’s palace and the main barracks of the army, while the fresh, soft air from inland came loaded with delicious flavors and sweet aroma. Nature could hardly have assumed a more captivating mood than she wore at that time.
The soldiers, who sauntered about the Plaza, and hung around the doors of the guard house, wore an air quite different from that which the bright and beautiful tropical morning might be supposed to induce. They knew only too well of the tragedy that was that day to enacted; such occasions-the spilling of the tide of life, in cold blood-suited not their chivalrous notions at any time, much less so now, for they loved the officer who was to lose his life-a victim to Harero-whom, again, few men respected, either as a soldier or a man-his character was repulsive to nearly all.
“So the captain is to be shot to-day,” remarked one of Captain Bezan’s own company, to a comrade whom he had just met in the Plaza.
“Yes, I had rather it had been—”
“Hush, Alonzo,” said his companion, observing General Harero walking across the street.
“That is he, and he is the only man I ever saw,” continued the officer, “that I would like to see shot in cold blood. Poor Bezan, he’s sacrificed to the general!”
“I wonder what gave the trouble between them.”
“Don’t know; some say there’s a lady in the case.”
“I hadn’t heard of that.”
“Yes, you know he challenged the general?”
“Well, that was about a lady, in some way; I heard one of the officers say so.”
“The first file do the business.”
“Yes, and thankful am I, Alonzo, that you and I are in the fourth section.”
The hour appointed for the execution of the sentence had nearly arrived, and the steady roll of the drum beat the regiment to which Captain Bezan’s company belonged, to the line. His own immediate company was formed on the side of the Plaza at right angles with the rest of the line, in all some thousand rank and file. This company “stood at ease,” and the men hung their heads, as if ashamed of the business they were about to perform. In the rest of the line the men exchanged a few words with each other, now and then, quietly, but the company referred to, spoke not a word. to each other. Their officers stood in a little knot by themselves, and evidently felt sad at heart when they remembered the business before them, for their comrade condemned to die had been a universal favorite with them.