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PERHAPS you have heard of General Rafael Riego; he was well known during the war of independence in the Peninsula, and still better after he and Quiroga had headed an insurrection of the Spanish troops in the Isla de Leon, and set up against the despotism of Ferdinand VII.* a popular representative government. I was then a traveller in Spain, and saw the constitutional monuments erected in many of the towns and cities amidst the acclamations of the people. At that time Riego was absolutely the idol of the nation; he was a man of gentle manners, kind affections, and made to be loved. But in those political vicissitudes through which men almost always are doomed to pass when struggling for political change, Riego perished-perished on the scaffold. One of his aid-de-camps was an Irishman, named George Matthewes.
It happened that many Englishmen were engaged in these contests, which ended in the subjugation of freedom and the re-establishment of despotic power; and many of these Englishmen occupied the prisons of Spain. I was called upon to inquire into the fate of one of them, who was believed to be immured in the dungeons of the Spanish capital. I employed a banker of some influence to ascertain whether any Englishman, who corresponded to the description I gave of the party, was really confined in any of the jails of Madrid.
• Ferdinand VII. of Spain, born 1784, died 1833,
He could not be found, notwithstanding the most anxious and persevering search of my friend. But while he was engaged in his investigations, a dirty memorandum was put into his hand by a soldier who was guarding one of the condemned cells in which a human being had been long kept in solitary confinement-excluded from all communication, except such verbal conversation as, in opposition to the orders of his superior, might be charitably entered on by the soldier stationed at the door of the cell. No writing materials-no pen, ink, or paper-no means of intercourse with any person beyond the four walls of the dungeon, were ever allowed to the unhappy prisoner. The name of the prisoner was unknown to his guard; all he knew was that he had been captured with Riego, and confined in the cell adjacent to that from whence Riego had been led out to execution; but the soldier had mentioned to the prisoner that inquiries had been made about an Englishman of the name of Harper, and the answer had been, that no such person was within the prison walls. The prisoner entreated the soldier to convey the scrap of paper that he gave him to the gentleman who had been making the inquiries: he consented to do so; the banker received it, and sent it to me. It was signed George Matthewes." It was scarcely legible; but it stated that the writer had been long in solitary confinement, without accusation, without judgment, yet in apprehension of sentence of death, and that he was an Englishman.
Mr Canning was then Prime Minister. I wrote to him immediately, and a dispatch was sent off without delay to Madrid, directing the British minister to claim the person who, without the forms of legal proceeding, had been thus arbitrarily detained. The intervention was successful, and the prisoner was released.
He accompanied the returning messenger to England; he brought with him the funeral momentos of Riego-the pockethandkerchief with which he wiped his last mortal but manly tears, and gave it to his widow. Poor thing! she was then drooping like a lily on its stem, fair and pure; and the weight of grief soon overwhelmed a broken heart, and loosened the silver cord of an existence attenuated by long disease. I remember her, a saint-like beauty, disassociated, as it were, from earth.
Matthewes brought with him one other treasure-it was a
white dove. While excluded from all knowledge of what was passing in the world, hopeless of ever communicating his forlorn condition to any living soul, that dove had flown into his cell. He plucked a feather from its wing, and with his teeth and nails, shaped it into a pen. He made ink of the filth he gathered in the corners of his miserable abode ; he tore out the lining of his hat, on which he wrote the account that led to his deliverance-that was the memorandum I received. What became of the dove I know not; but George Matthewes died some years afterwards, a prisoner in Portugal.
14. What was thrust into his hand by a soldier one day?
15. What did the memorandum state? 16. What was this prisoner's name? 17. Who had been led forth to execu. tion from the adjacent cell?
18. Who was Prime Minister of England then?
19. Did the influence used in behalf of the prisoner succeed?
20. What memento of Riego did the prisoner bring to England?
21. To whom did he give it?
22. What more is said of her?
23. What other treasure had he brought with him?
24. How had he got the dove?
25. How got he the note written that led to his release?
26. Does this story bring any event in the history of Noah to your mind?
VI. AN ADVENTURE AMONG THE MOUNTAINS OF
In-con-sid'er-ate, adj....considĕrāre Ap'er-ture, n. ..................................
Ex-traor'di-na-ry, adj. .ordo.
Aug-ment'ed, v.. ....augēre.
1 Quito, (Keeto.) lit. " deep ravine," the capital of the republic of Ecuador in S. America, situated at an elevation of 9534 feet above the level of the sea. Although placed so near the equator, its great elevation renders the climate very mild all the year round. From its situation it is peculiarly exposed to tremendous earthquakes. Pop. 50,000.
WHEN the storm which overtook us as we wound around Chimborazo's wide base, had somewhat abated, our guides ventured out in order to ascertain if it were possible to continue our journey. The cave in which we had taken refuge was so extremely dark, that, if we moved a few paces from the entrance, we could not see an inch before us; and we were debating as to the propriety of leaving it, even before the Indians came back, when we suddenly heard a singular groaning or growling in the farther end of the cavern, which instantly fixed all our attention. Wharton and myself listened anxiously; but our daring and inconsiderate young friend, Lincoln, together with my huntsman, crept about upon their hands and knees, and endeavoured to discover, by groping, whence the sound proceeded.
They had not advanced far into the cavern, before we heard them utter on exclamation of surprise, and they returned to us, each carrying in his arms an animal singularly marked, and about the size of a cat, seemingly of great strength and power, and furnished with immense fangs. The eyes were of a green colour; strong claws were upon their feet; and a blood-red tongue hung out of their mouths. Wharton had scarcely glanced at them, when he exclaimed in consternation, "We have come into the den of a-” He was interrupted by a fearful cry of dismay from our guides, who came rushing precipitately towards us, calling out, "A tiger! a tiger!" and, at the same time, with extraordinary rapidity, they climbed up a cedar tree, which stood at the entrance of the cave, and hid themselves among the branches.
After the first sensation of horror and surprise, which
1 Chimborazo, a volcanic mountain in S. America, on the plain of Quito-21400 feet high.
rendered me motionless for a moment, had subsided, I grasped my fire-arms. Wharton had already regained his composure and self-possession; and he called to us to assist him instantly in blocking up the mouth of the cave with an immense stone, which fortunately lay near it. The sense of approaching danger augmented our strength; for we now distinctly heard the growl of the ferocious animal, and we were lost beyond redemption if he reached the entrance before we could get it closed. Ere this was done, we could distinctly see the tiger bounding towards the spot, and stooping in order to creep into his den by the narrow opening. At this fearful moment, our exertions were successful, and the great stone kept the wild beast at bay.
There was a small open space, however, left between the top of the entrance and the stone, through which we could see the head of the animal, illuminated by his glowing eyes, which he rolled glaring with fury upon us.
Now is the time to fire at him," said Wharton, with his usual calmness; "aim at his eyes; the ball will go through his brain, and we shall then have a chance to get rid of him."
Frank seized his double-barrelled gun, and Lincoln his pistols. The former placed the muzzle within a few inches of the tiger, and Lincoln did the same, At Wharton's com
mand they both drew the triggers at the same moment; but no shot followed. The tiger who seemed aware that the flash indicated an attack upon him, sprang growling from the entrance, but, feeling himself unhurt, immediately turned back again, and stationed himself in his former place. The powder in both pieces was wet.
"All is now over," said Wharton; "we have only now to choose whether we shall die of hunger, together with these animals who are shut up along with us, or open the entrance to the blood-thirsty monster without, and so make a quicker end of the matter.
So saying, he placed himself close beside the stone, which for the moment defended us, and looked undauntedly upon the lightning eyes of the tiger. Lincoln raved, and Frank took a piece of strong cord from his pocket, and hastened to the farther end of the cave; I knew not with what design. We soon however, heard a low stifled groaning; and the tiger, which had heard it also, became more restless and disturbed than ever.
He went backwards and forwards before