“Does that mean the end of the war?” Rosa eagerly inquired.
“Oh no. They have sent a new man—he’s in Havana now—a dark little, old fellow who never smiles. He has a long nose and a big chin; he dresses all in black—a very ‘jew-bird’ in appearance, from what I hear. His name is Weyler—Valeriano Weyler, Marquis of Teneriffe.” Esteban laughed tolerantly, for as yet the name of Weyler meant nothing to him.
“No wonder we knew nothing about it,” said the girl. “We hide like animals and we see no one for weeks at a time. I sometimes wonder how O’Reilly will manage to find us.”
“Oh, he’ll manage it somehow,” Esteban declared, cheerfully. Then he ran an approving eye over the new bohio and the new garden plot which Evangelina had courageously begun. “We’re not so badly fixed, are we? At least Colonel Cobo won’t find us so readily this time.”
“Cobo!” shuddered the girl. “I dream about him.”
Esteban scowled. “I’ve seen him at a distance several times, but he takes pains to guard himself well when he comes into the Yumuri. They say he’s trying to destroy the whole valley.”
“He will never forget.”
Esteban covertly appraised his sister’s charms, but respecting her terror of Cobo he did not speak his thoughts. He was certain, however, that Rosa knew, as well as he, what motive lay behind the fellow’s tireless persecutions of the valley dwellers; for in spite of their isolation stories of Cobo had reached the refugees--stories that had rendered both the boy and the girl sick with apprehension. The colonel, it seemed, had nearly died of his machete wound, and on recovering he had sworn to exterminate the wasps that had stung him. He had sworn other oaths, too, oaths that robbed Esteban of his sleep.
Esteban idolized his sister; her loyalty to him was the most precious thing of his life, Therefore, the thought of that swarthy ruffian hunting her down as a hound hangs to the trail of a doe awoke in him a terrible anger. Second only to his hatred for the guerrilla chief was his bitterness against the traitor, Pancho Cueto, who had capped his villainy by setting this new peril upon them; and since Rosa’s safety and his own honor called for the death of both men, he had sworn that somehow he would effect it. It was, of course, a difficult matter to get at the Colonel of Volunteers, but Cueto still lived in the midst of his blackened fields, and it was against him that the boy was now planning to launch his first blow.
The mention of Cobo’s name had momentarily distracted Esteban’s thoughts. Now he collected them and said:
“Wait! I am forgetting something. See what Lacret’s men handed me; they are posted from one end of the island to the other.” He displayed a printed bando, or proclamation, signed by the new captain-general, and read as follows:
“All inhabitants of the country districts, or those who reside outside the lines of fortifications of the towns, shall, within a period of eight days, enter the towns which are occupied by the troops. Any individual found outside the lines in the country at the expiration of this period shall be considered a rebel and shall be dealt with as such.”