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PASSAGES IN THE CAREER OF EL EMPECINADO,
The obstipate persecution of the cipado and Fuentes, the partida was Empecinado by the French, afforded divided into four detachments of twenthat chief numerous opportunities to ty-five men each. The same night, display his natural talent for guerilla Fuentes, at the head of one of these warfare-a talent he possessed in parties, left the mountain, and, passing common with many of his country- through the French lines, made a men, but in a supereminent degree forced march in a southerly direction, With a handful of men, aided by the following the course of the Duero ; nature of the country, and a perfect Sardina and El Manco, subordinate knowledge of localities, he not only officers of the Empecinado, with other managed to elude the pursuit of forces two detachments, took the direction of more than fifty times as numerous as Arragon, but by different roads; while bis own, but also found means to ha- Diez himself remained in the Sierra rass and annoy the enemy, much in with the last twenty-five men. the same way that, on a sultry July A week passed away, during which day, one may sometimes see a horse time the French, having posted troops tortured and driven nearly frantic by round the mountain in which they the active and persevering attacks of conceived the guerillas to be lurking, a solitary fly.
waited patiently till hunger or an Encouraged by the too sanguine attempt to break through the lines reports of some of his spies, to believe should place their troublesome enemy that the French were beginning to
in their power.
On the seventh day, relax their vigilance, the Empecinado, however, news came to the general after remaining some time in the commanding, that on the road to mountains, ventured back to the plains Arragon a party of troops escorting a of the Duero; but soon found it would quantity of clothing, and some sick be impossible to continue there, so and wounded, had been attacked by
were the detachments of the band of the Empecinado. A few hostile cavalry that patrolled the coun- hours later, and while the French were try. In retiring towards the Sierras yet chafing with fury at the escape of of Burgos, the guerillas were com. the Guerilla whom they had made so pelled to cross the Duero at the ford sure of capturing, another messenger of the Puente Caido, or Fallen Bridge, arrived, and reported that a courier which is within sight of Aranda. The had been surprised and taken, and his garrisoa of that town having caught a escort of twenty dragoons cut to view of the Empecinado and his bandpieces, at the village of Magaz, on the a regiment of dragoons were sent out, Valladolid road, also by the Empeciwhich chased them as far as the town nado. Heartily cursing their ubiquiof Coruna del Conde,* but there tous enemy, the French commanders dropped the pursuit, while the Spa- marched with all their forces to the niards took refuge in the Sierra of provinces of Valladolid and Siguenza, Arlanza, and fixed their headquarters leaving forty troopers with the depot at a Benedictine monastery, situated in at the headquarters in the town of the very wildest and most savage part Covarrubias, which is situated at the of those mountains. Hence emissaries foot of the Sierra of Arlanza, and were dispatched in every direction, little more than half a league from the who soon returned with news that the Benedictine monastery where the Em. French were determined to surround pecinado had all the while remained. the Sierra on all sides, and not to It was on the second morning after raise the blockade till the Empecinado the French troops had marched from had fallen into their hands. Upon Covarrubias, that eight or ten of the receiving this intelligence, and after dragoons remaining there in garrison, some consultation between the Empe- were lounging about in front of the
• The Clunia of the ancient Romans, and birthplace of tho Emperor Galba.
large stable where they were quar. up her station at the stable-door, she tered, grumbling at the routine of duty repeated her cry of “ Barquillos," and that had consigned them to the dul- the light hearted Frenchmen, crowding ness of the depot, while their comrades around in high glee at having found were riding over the country, and per- the means of killing a few minutes, haps engaged with the enemy. After began twirling the needle, at a rate having sufficiently lamented their bard that bid fair to empty the tin box and fate in being left to ennuyer themselves fill the barquillera's pocket with cop. in an insignificant Castilian town, and per coins. after having discussed, without coming “ Mille sabres ! quelle gaillarde !” to any satisfactory conclusion, the exclaimed an old dragoon, bestowing means by which the Empecinado had an admiring glance on the wide slipped through their fingers, some of shoulders and well set-up figure of the idlers were making a move in the the burquillera, “ hang me, if I don't direction of a neighbouring tavern, and think an army of such stout-built others, stretching themselves on the lasses would have a better chance of straw inside the open door of the successfully opposing our troops, than stable, seemed disposed to indulge in any Spanish division I ever yet set a forenoon nap, when a shrill voice eyes on. from the further end of the street called " They would have as good a one the attention of both the sleepy and at any rate,” said another soldier the thirsty.
sneeringly. " I see no reason that “ Barquillos ! Barquillos ! Quien a hard-fisted peasant girl should not quiere barquillos ! ”
pull a trigger from behind a tree, or The person who uttered this cry, à bank, as well as any he-guerilla common enough in the Spanish towns, that ever carried a rifle." was a woman who carried, suspended Every one has his own way of from her arm by a broad leathern fighting," replied the first speaker, strap, a tin-box nearly three feet in " and I am not sure that the Spanish height, serving as a receptacle for a way is the worst. They know they quantity of the thin wafer-like cakes cannot stand against us in a fair charge called barquillos, and having a sort of on the plain, and so they take to bush dialplate painted on its circular top. fighting. But they are not altogether “ Vamos, senores;
a provar la to be despised, when a fellow like this suerte. Try your luck, sirs," said the Empecinado manages to keep a whole wandering cake-merchant, setting division running after him for weeks down her moveable warehouse, and and months, without being able to giving a vigorous spin to the brass catch a sight of his horse's tail. I needle poised in the centre of the dial. trust they soon will, though, and have
The Barquillera was a strapping a pull at it too. At any rate, we have wench of some five-and-twenty years got him out of these mountains, which of age apparently, whose lower person is one point gained." acquired additional amplitude from a The cakes having all disappeared, multiplicity of coloured woollen petti. some wine was sent for, of which the coats, while a tight boddice of coarse barquillera partook, joining in the black stuff encased her broad shoulders conversation of the soldiers, and reand well-defined bust. Her hair, in- plying with much readiness, and in stead of hanging in a plait down the mixture of Spanish and bad French back, was tucked up, probably to pro- to their rude jokes and witticisms. tect it from the dust of the roads, After half an hour spent in this way, under a straw hat, whose wide leaf had, she took up her box and prepared to however, been insufficient to keep the depart. sun from her face, which was tanned “ Adios, senors, y muchas gracias," almost a mahogany colour. Her fea. said she, turning round when a few tures were regular, although somewhat paces from the dragoons, and laughing large and coarse, and when she pushed so as to display a row of brilliant her sombrero a little back upon her white teeth. head, and cast her great black eyes The soldiers were already moving around with an assured and smiling off in various directions, some to their glance, she exhibited quite sufficient quarters and others to the wine-shop; charms to secure the attention and but one of them, either inclined for a admiration of the soldiers. Taking stroll, or seduced by the good looks of
the barquillera, lounged down the to be far enough off—ia Arragon at street in her company. They soon the nearest. I have spoken with sereached the extremity of the town on veral of them, and they are entirely the side looking towards the moun- off their guard. One fellow, indeed, tains; but the dragoon, amused by the was kind enough to accompany me lively chatter of his companion, paid out of the town, but I doubt if he will little attention to the direction she find his way into it again.” was taking, and was nearly half a-mile • And why not?” enquired Diez. from the last houses, when he remem- The peasant made no reply by bered that it might be unsafe to pro- words, but slightly touched the haft of ceed much further, at a time and in a a knife sticking in his girdle. country where the ploughman and 66 Mount!” shouted the Empecinavine dresser pursued their labours with do, and his men sprang into their a gun lying in the furrow beside them, saddles. ready for a shot at 'any straggling The unsuspicious Frenchmen were Frenchman.
Before turning back, dispersed about the streets, and had however, he threw an arm round the leit only half a dozen men on guard barquillera's waist, and made an at- in their stable, when the Empecinado tempt to kiss her. She held him off and his band charged at headlong for an instant, and looked behind her speed into Covarrubias. Proceeding as though to see if any one were fol- straight to the barracks, the guard lowing them along the road. Not a was overpowered and disarmed with. creature was in sight, and she no long- out a shot being fired, and the gueril. er opposed the young Frenchman's las began hunting down the remainembrace. But as his lips touched her ing dragoons, who fled in every direccheek, a piercing cry burst from them, tion, some secreting themselves in the and the dragoon fell backwards, a dead houses, and others even leaving the man. The barquillera remained stand- town and seeking concealment in the ing in the middle of the path, curi- vineyards. But none of them escaped, ously inspecting a long glittering for many of the town's people and peaknife she held in her hand. There sants joined in the chase, and showed was a small stain of blood within an themselves even more merciless than inch of the haft, which she carefully the guerillas, knowing, that if they wiped off, and then buckling the sabre left one man alive to relate the share of the dead soldier round her own they had taken in the affair, their waist, she plunged into a thicket that necks would not be worth an hour's bordered the road.
purchase on the return of the French On the same morning on which this division. About fifty horses, and a incident occurred, the Empecinado large number. of mules belonging to was walking up and down in front of the commissariat, fell into the hands the Benedictine monastery, in com- of the Empecinado, who immediately pany with one of the monks. His sent them off to the monastery in charger and those of his troop were charge of the greater part of his men, there, saddled and bridled in readi- in order that they might be placed for ness for a march, and the guerillas security in the vast caverns existing stood about in groups, fully equipped, in the mountains of Arlanza-caverns and apparently only waiting the order that date from the time of the Moors, to mount and away. Presently a and which the famous Count of Cas. horse was pushed full speed up the tile, Don Fernan Gonzalez, used as steep rocky path leading to the mo- magazines for his warlike stores and nastery, and a lad of eighteen in his munitions. shirt sleeves, and with a woman's The horses and mules had been straw hat upon his head, but armed gone some time, when the Empecinawith a sabre, flung himself off.
do heard from the alcalde, what he • What news, Pedrillo ?” asked had not been previously aware of, Diez. “ Have you been into the that every day ten dragoons belongtown ? "
ing to the garrison of Lerma were “ I have so, Senor," replied the sent to patrol the road between that youth, "and might have stopped there town and Covarrubias, which latter all day, before those muddle-headed place they reached at three in the gavachos would have found out my afternoon, and after a short delay, redisguise. Besides, they believe you turned to the garrison. The Em
pecivado immediately formed the pro- of three and four, with orders to make ject of waylaying and attacking this the best of their way to the province patrol, although he had only six men of Palencia, where Mariano Fuentes with him, and there was no time to then was.
He himself, with five men, send up to the mountain for more. remained at the village of Ontorio del He set off in the directiop of Lerma, Pinar to observe the movements of the and halting at the village of Turduel. enemy. les, enqnired if the French had yet But it seemed to be ordained, that been seen. Being answered that they that sex which an eastern monarch had not, but were momentarily ex- asserted to be the direct or indirect pected, he placed his men in ambush cause of all the mischief and bloodshed bebind a dead wall in a field, which occurring in the world, should be the was level with the road, and merely means of getting Diez into scrapes and separated from it by a small ditch. difficulties, the least of which would After waiting a few minutes, the jing. have been fatal to a less daring and ling, clattering noise of cavalry on the fortunate man. Had he been contented march was heard, and as the leading to remain quiet in Oatorio del Pinar, files passed the end of the wall where he might have eluded all the researches the. Empecioado was stationed, he of his enemies; for he had always timegave the word to charge, aud with his ly information through the peasantry favonrite war-cry of “ Viva la lode- of the approach of any party of French pendencia," cleared the ditch, and fell troops. It chanced, however, that in
nderbolt on the French pat. the Burgo de Osma there lived a canon rol. The surprise and suddenness of who was a native of the same place as the attack compensated for the dif- the Empecinado, and this canon had a ference of numbers, and only two of handsome niece with whom Diez bad the dragoons escaped. These two formerly been intimate. As ill luck men, on reaching Lerma, made a some- would have it, one fine afternoon the what exaggerated report of the force Empecinado took a fancy to visit this by which they had been attacked; and damsel and her uncle. The Burgo de the officer commanding there, exas
Osma at that time had no regular garperated beyond measure at being thus rison, but the country was so covered harassed by a guerilla, turned out the with French troops, that scarcely a day greater part of the garrison, and at went by without some detachment or daybreak the next morning arrived at piquet passing through the town. BeCovarrubias, where he received the sides this, the Corregidor and other further intelligence of the surprise of Spanish authorities at the above-named that place on the previous day. place, who had been appointed by the
The rapid movements of the Em- invaders and were what was called pecinado, and the division he had Afrancesados, or favourable to the made of his band into four parties, French, had received repeated orders completely puzzled the French, who to be on the look-out for the Empeci. one moment heard of his being thirty nado, and to take him dead or alive, or forty leagues off, and the next found should he come within their reach. him falling upon their own outposts; The risk, therefore, was great ; but 80 that by this time they began to nevertheless the Empecinado, nothing think there must be three or four Em- daunted, almost as soon as the idea pecinados instead of one, and with entered his bead, got upon his horse, far larger forces than they had hitherto and, leaving the five men at Ontorio, suspected, or than he actually had. It set off on this hazardous expedition. was determined to make an effort to It was about an hour after sunset get rid at least of the band which was that a borseman, well mounted and in the sierra of Arlanza. Couriers armed, but dressed in peasant's clothes, were sent to order down fresh troops and having much the appearance of a from Soria, La Rioja, Vitoria, and contrabandista, entered the ancient other places; and the pursuit recom- town of the Burgo de Osma. As he menced with so much vigour and such passed under a heavy old-fashioned overwhelming numbers, that the Em. archway which formed the entrance to pecinado found it would be impossible one of the streets, a dark figure that to keep concealed even with the small was crouched down in an angle of the force that accompanied him. He sent wall accosted him, asking alms. off twenty men, therefore, by parties “ Una limosna, Senor, por el amor
he rode away
de Dios." The horseman threw some one threw him alms, and advised small coins to the beggar, and in so
him to seek some better place to pass doing turoed his face towards him. the night. But the advice was un
“ Santa Virgen! El Empecinado !” heeded, and the money left upon the exclaimed the mendicant, rising from pavement. At length, and as the town his half recumbent posture and step- clocks were striking eleven, the begping up to the guerilla, who at once garman started up, crawled as fast as recognised a deformed object that for bis distorted limbs would allow him to many years had haunted the church
the corregidor's door, and knocked door of Castrillo, where he went by hastily and loudly. The whole movetbe name of Nicolas el Coco, or the ment was that of a man who had worklame Nicolas. Having become sus- ed himself up to the commission of an . pected of some petty thefts, he left act of which he felt ashamed, and was Castrillo, and had since wandered over fearful of leaving undone if it were the country, living as best he migbt at delayed a moment longer. The serthe expense of the charitably disposed. vant, who, through a small grated Not over pleased at this meeting, but wicket in the centre of the door, reat the same time unsuspicious of be- connoitred the applicant for admittrayal, the Empecipado placed a piece tance at that late hour, started back of gold in the hand of the beggarman. on finding his face within an inch or
« Not a word of my being here, two of the hideous countenance and Nicolas," said he, “ and when alms small red eyes of the deformed wretch. are scanty or hunger pinches, you Recovering from his alarm, however, shall not lack a bite and a sup at the a few words were exchanged between bivouac fire of the Empecinado. him and Nicolas, which ended in the The mendicant gazed after Diez as admission of the latter.
Meanwhile the Empecinado had “ The same as ever,".muttered he been joyfully welcomed by the worthy to bimself. « An open hand and a canon and his fair niece, although they kind word Martin Diez always had for did not fail to reproach him with fool. the poor man, and many's the realito hardiness in having thus placed bis he has given me when he was only head in the lion's jaws. Diez made light known as the best vinedresser and of their apprehensions, and having by keenest woodsman in the province of his gayety and confidence at last sucValladolid. Times have changed with ceeded in dissipating them, declared him now, and gold seems as plenty in his intention of passing the next day his pouch as quartos were formerly. in their society, and leaving the town And well may it be so after all he has as he had entered it, in the dusk of the taken from the French. Carts full of evening. treasure, they say, rich clothes, and Owing perhaps to the unwonted fine horses, and well-tempered arms. softness of the bed which the hos. Ay de mi! Nicolas, 'twill be long ere pitable canon had prepared for his thy crippled carcass may share in the guest, and which was somewhat difcapture of such princely plunder. A ferent from the rough and hard couches few rags, a dry crust, and a well. he had of late been accustomed to, the scraped bone, are thy portion of this Empecinado's sleep was that night world's goods. And yet there is a deeper and sounder than usual. Thus way,” continued he, in an altered tone it was that he who at the bivouac, or and as though a sudden thought had stretched on a paillasse in a peasant's flashed across him. “But 'twere foul cottage, was used to start from his treason, with his gold yet warm in my slumbers at the jingle of a spur or hand. Yet the sum
click of a musket-lock, heard not the tering broken sentences to himself, he blows that, an hour after midnight, hobbled slowly down the street. were struck on the door of the canon's
Various persons, who had occasion house. The capon himself, more in the course of that evening to visit vigilant than his guest, looked out of the corregidor of the Burgo de Osma, an upper window, and seeing a group observed what at first appeared to be of persons assembled in front of his a misshapen mass of rags propped up dwelling, although, from the darkness against the wall near the magistrate's of the night, he could not distinguish door. On looking closer they recog- who they were, suspected some dannized Nicolas el Coco, and more than ger to the Empecinado, and hastily