“You will be careful, won’t you?” she implored. “And you’ll be stout of heart, no matter what occurs?”
He nodded. “It’s a long way back here to Cubitas. You may not see or hear from me again.”
“I understand.” She choked miserably. “You mean you may not come back. Oh, Johnnie!”
“Tut, tut! We O’Reillys have more lives than a litter of cats. I mean I may not see you until the war is over and we meet in New York. Well, we’ve been good pals, and—I’m glad you came to Cuba.” His grasp upon her two hands was painful.
“You must go, I know, and I wouldn’t try to keep you, but—” Norine faltered, then impulsively she drew him down and kissed him full upon the lips. “For Rosa!” she whispered. Her eyes were shining as she watched him pass swiftly out of sight.
Of all the military measures employed by the Spaniards in their wars against Cuban independence, perhaps the most unique was the trocha—trench or traverse. Martinez Campos during the Ten Years’ War built the first trocha just west of the Cubitas Mountains where the waist of the island is narrowest. It was Campos’s hope, by means of this artificial barrier, to confine the operations of the insurgents to the eastern end of Cuba, but in that he failed, as likewise he failed in the results gained by his efforts to concentrate the rural population in the cities. Not until Weyler’s time were these two methods of pacification, the trocha and the concentration camp, developed to their fullest extent. Under the rule of the Butcher several trochas were constructed at selected points, and he carried to its logical conclusion the policy of concentration, with results sufficiently frightful to shock the world and to satisfy even Weyler’s monstrous appetite for cruelty. Although his trochas hindered the free movement of Cuban troops and his prison camps decimated the peaceful population of several provinces, the Spanish cause gained little. Both trenches and prison camps became Spanish graveyards.
Weyler’s intrenchments cost millions and were elaborately constructed, belted with barbed wire, bristling with blockhouses and forts. In both the digging and the manning, however, they cost uncounted lives. Spanish spades turned up fevers with the soil, and, so long as raw Spanish troops were compelled to toil in the steaming morasses or to lie inactive under the sun and the rain, those traitor generals—June, July, and August—continued to pile up the bodies in rotting heaps and to timber the trenches with their bones. So long as the cities were overcrowded with pacificos and their streets were putrid with disease, so long did the Spanish garrisons sicken and die, as flies perish upon poisoned carrion.
Out on the cool, clean hills and the windy savannas where the Insurrectos dwelt there was health. Poorly armed, ragged, gaunt, these Insurrectos were kept moving by hunger, always moving like cattle on a barren range. But they were healthy, for disease, which is soft-footed and tender-bellied, could not keep up.