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emotion," continues Narvez, "I had promised to sing to-night, and you must tell me which song you will choose."
They have asked him for a favourite Indian piece, and he touches the guitar lightly, almost merrily. It would not be well-bred to let us dwell upon the thought of that prospective fusilade, in which he is to figure with an open grave at his feet and a handkerchief bound across his eyes.
Miss Malcolm lent her guitar, and has already been thanked for so doing. You will, of course, suppose a young lady possessed of such an instrument romantic and golden-haired, with a freshly-picked rose as her only ornament, and millinery to suit. Not a bit of it! She has nursed in military hospitals, and taught coloured soldiers to read, and her story is scarcely less connected with political events than is that of Diego Narvez. Now she looks forward to the superintendence of a school for coloured children, to be opened amongst unfriendly neighbours, who will snub her in every possible way as an emissary of the faction they abhor. There is risk of personal violence, and, though this risk may not be very great, it makes the certainty of loneliness still more depressing. Yet she is cheerful and resolute. I cannot help comparing her in my own mind to Diego Narvez, for each'is an enthusiast in a difficult cause, though you would smile at the thought of comparison if you saw them together. She, tall and serious; he,
the shorter of the two, with a lively manner, and what was once known as "Frenchified ways;" her notions of religion formed amongst Puritans, his those of a doubting Romanist, driven from Rome by dislike of the Mexican priesthood. Narvez would look with wonder at Miss Malcolm, as a señorita who was sociable without badinage, and warmly kind without coquetry. She evidently regarded him as a strange being, small and bright, whose ways were worth observing, whilst his misfortunes claimed polite regard.
Other guests, with interesting stories to tell, were waited on by Charles, or exercised the lingual talents of Corinne. There was a German ex-Confederate, drafted into the service before he knew what his new countrymen were fighting about. He was still at a loss to reconcile the subjective and objective phases of the rebellion, and had not seen enough of Sharp's Patent to lessen his profound admiration for the Zündnadel Gewehr. Then we had a sometime overseer, remembered by Miss Malcolm as dealing cruelly with the hands on a plantation which she had visited. This overseer resembled in one particular a coloured gentleman immortalized by Shakespeare-his occupation was gone. Nor did we see much of him, for he sat alone at the dining-room fire, staring into the red caverns and yellow flames, as though curious recollections shaped themselves before his eyes. It was a relief when he ceased to be associated with our
daily life, and we fancied him setting sail for Cuba to resume the old trade.
I will say little of the remainder of our party-of the circle, I mean, which was first formed at mine hostelry-and nothing individually of those outsiders who arrived at Christmas time. A picture must have its principal figures, as two or three persons of quality, or a Roman soldier with his head on the Briton's lap, to occupy the foreground; while pages respectfully attend the quality, and other legionaries walk away from their distracted friend. You and I, dear reader, should be quite content to appear as a page or a departing comrade. If it were a battle piece we might even rest satisfied with being handed down to posterity in a frightfully disagreeable position amongst horses' feet, and leave the sword-play above us to be done by our betters-artistic betters --with more beard or fiercer eyebrows.
Corinne is of African descent. She has no pretence to an admixture of Caucasian blood, and no beauty, if measured by a Caucasian standard; yet her woolly locks look neat and crisp when she has on her best attire, and her face wears a smile of perpetual good humour. Strong is she beyond the strength of average chambermaids, though seemingly too small for lifting heavy burdens. "Dat ain't no account," says Corinne, when shown some box which in its owner's opinion she cannot move, and she drags the object aside with a sniff of conscious power. But her
chief accomplishment is modern languages, to wit, English and French. I said that the guests exercised this talent, and so they did, for, albeit most of them spoke English, there were still enough who relied upon the tongue of Mossoo to render an interpreter useful, besides which there were sundry people calling with things to sell and others who wanted to know if this wasn't where Mr. So and So lived. For these Corinne's French was invaluable. She was often summoned to attend, and it appeared that such notice, far from puffing her up with pride of learning, left her the same humble creature as before, with not a smirk of dignity on those jolly, shining, features.
One day there was an arrival which deserves especial notice. There appeared upon the scene a welldressed man of middle age, of portly and sedate appearance. He was a Mexican, and, after cautious advances on either side, from the suspicion that each was meeting a traitor, Diego Narvez recognized him with delight to be General Aquilla, a zealous Liberal. How they talked of old times, and how enthusiastic they were for the cause! But Aquilla dwelt rather on the bright side of things. He going to be fusiladed? Not at all! The tide would soon turn, Napoleon would retire from Mexico, and Maximilian would seek change of air in Europe. The General was confident of success, as generals should always seem, and if he had doubts in his own mind, they were carefully kept out of sight. Was not recruiting
for the Republic carried on vigorously in Texas? Did they not obtain arms and money from New York? Americans were with them in feeling, and five hundred leagues of frontier was open for the importation of supplies. President Juarez would have thirty thousand regular troops under his command by the first of March, and be able to threaten St. Louis Potosi, and perhaps Mexico itself. Even whilst we spoke the President was again in Chihuahua, so we must not pity our friends over much or think that they were about to be uselessly slaughtered.
Narvez brightened up as he listened to the solid, comfortable, reasonings of Aquilla, yet I fancy that it was more on account of having the society of a countryman with whom he could discuss familiar subjects, than because he believed in easy victory, or in victory of any kind save after wearisome delay. He believed though in the General as his superior officer, showing a deference to him which amused the Americans of our party. "Why," said they, "we haven't got that notion of discipline. Once out of the camp with us and all respect for rank is over."
There were snapdragons in mine hostelry at Christmas time, for which I was responsible, to the extent of several burns produced on fingers by playing the game too earnestly and a confusion in the minds of our Mexican friends as to how far the observance
was held sacred amongst us.
Narvez thrust his hand