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ZEGARRA: A TALE OF THE SCOTCH OCCUPATION OF DARIEN.

I.

"THIS Darien scheme of M. De Lesseps," said Colin Fletcher, "is neither new nor wise; though that is little to discredit it, for novelty and wisdom are somewhat at a discount now-a-days, and therein we imitate the example of our ancestors."

"Timothy sows, the other chap waters, and the middleman takes all the profit," was the comment of young Sparks, who came from the West, and made up in Granger enthusiasm what he lacked in Biblical lore.

hear the story his inflammable friend was bursting to tell.

"Well, then," said Fletcher, "here goes."

On the 26th of July, 1698, the inhabitants of Edinburgh flocked to the seaport of Leith to bid farewell and God-speed to the colony of twelve hundred men and six ships, which, under command of William Paterson, set sail that day for Darien. Paterson had been to America, and, being a sharp, shrewd man, was impressed with the importance of the Isthmus in a military, no less than a commercial sense. On his return to England, he vainly tried to interest the English merchants and government in a colonization scheme which had some flavor of conquest in it, but not enough to rouse martial ardor, or stimulate national cupidity. In the Low Countries he fared badly, while trying to induce. the Dutch to seize the opportunity of dominating the commerce of the world. Disheartened and weary, he retraced his steps to Scotland, his native land, and, after many hardships, finally fell in with Fletcher of Saltoun, from whose family I am come.

"Yes," continued Fletcher, "from the time the Spaniard stood upon the heights of Panama, and turned his gaze from the stormy Atlantic to the great ocean that stretched to the shores of India and Far Cathay, down to the Paris hocus-pocus and proposed lottery to capture the populace, the cut across the Isthmus has been the dream of mariners, and the problem of engineers. And, by the way, an ancestor of my own was early in the field of Darien possession, and but for the collapse of the Paterson colony at Acta, I might have been a creole; and I might have been a girl." "In these times," remarked Sparks, "any of Scotland at the English court,-for this change would be for the better."

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That celebrated Scot was neighbor to Tweeddale, the marquis, and representative

was before the Act of Union, and while the English and Scotch were virtually two nations. The minister caught warmth and light from Fletcher of Saltoun, entered with vigor into Paterson's scheme for national aggrandizement, and procured from the English Parliament and King an act of incorporation and charter for the Darien colony. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were subscribed in Edinburgh, London, and La Hague; and though the Dutch and English merchants withdrew their subscriptions when, through court-craft, William III., the phlegmatic Orange King of England, was turned against the project, there was cash and vim enough in Scotia to keep the scheme afloat.

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Twelve hundred men were called for; twelve thousand volunteered, and the men who sailed from Leith that day in 1698 were the pick of Scotland's bone and sinew, pluck and worth.

On the quay at Leith stood Elsie Maclean, and from the deck of the "Lomond," Paterson's own ship, Andrew Fletcher, nephew to him of Saltoun, waved her a farewell.

Save for the space of four years, which he had spent in the Spanish city of Cadiz as correspondent for his father's commercial house in Edinburgh, there had hardly elapsed a day, from her infancy up, that Elsie had not seen Andrew Fletcher. They had been in plighted troth for some months now, and but for this venture to the Spanish Main in far America, would have been married within a twelvemonth. His readiness in the Spanish tongue, and his mercantile connection with the traders of Spain and the Isthmus, made Fletcher a valuable acquisition to the venturesome band under the enthusiastic leadership of Paterson.

Midway between Portobello and Carthagena, near fifty leagues from either, at a place called Acta, now Port Escosas, in the mouth of the river Darien, there was a natural harbor, capable of receiving the greatest fleets, and defended from storms by islands. Above it was a promontory, on which might be erected defensive works. On the other side of the isthmus, and in the same tract of country, there were natural harbors equally capacious and well defended. The two regions were connected by a ridge of hills, which, by their height, created a temperate climate in the midst of the most sultry latitudes. And here, in this land, which seemed an Eden by contrast with hard-favored Caledonia, the adventurers landed, after a perilous voyage of two months.

They knew full well that they had to encounter the hostility of the Spaniards, jealous of intrusion into their El Dorado; but fear had so little control in the breasts of those hardy colonists, that in little bands, and not seldom alone, they penetrated the forests in all directions for game; followed the Darien river, or fished in its sluggish waters; or

climbed the high land, to feast their eyes on the fairy landscape. The natives were friendly; in fact, they were intensely hostile to the Spaniards, and early learned to regard the Darien colonists as their friends. So, until they came to Swatee, eighteen miles away east of southerly, and Tubugantee, eight miles further on, their way was entirely free from molestation by the jealous Spaniard.

In these solitary expeditions young Andrew Fletcher exceeded all his comrades; and as he brought back little game, they concluded that he was roaming love-lorn, and mourning about Elsie Maclean, who, they knew, was waiting in Bishop-close for tidings of her Andy over the sea.

One morning in January, 1699, Fletcher approached the landward gate in the stockade which formed the primitive defense the new-comers had erected, when he was accosted by one evidently in authority with the demand: "Where are ye gaun sae soon i' the day, Andy Fletcher, an' for why d'ye no obey the wishes o' the Assembly anent the attendance at kirk?"

"Tush!" said Fletcher angrily. ""Tis enow to be coopit up sax hours on the Sabbawth, list'nin' to the clapper-clawing o' they three dreary expounders; but o' Weensday, too, an' the sun just peltin' on they guardhoose, fit to melt baith body an' heart o' the most obdurate-I tell 'ee, Campbell o' Finab, it's a folly."

"Ye're no to be the judge," replied Campbell, "the General Assembly an' Kirk o' Scotland charged they divines wi' oor spiritual care, an' if they direct that it will be twal' hours an' sax days i' th' week, we maun aye be content to listen to th' word."

"Liberty o' conscience, then, accordin' to Paterson an' the Kirk, is just the liberty to endure a' the preachin' the wakin' hours will permit?" queried Fletcher.

"Thot's as may be," replied Campbell, "but where are ye gaun?"

"Tubugantee towards."

"Is it for game ye go?" again asked Campbell.

'Aye-an' sic a game," muttered Fletcher to himself. Then turning his face to the

gate, he called back over his shoulder to Campbell, "I'll be back on the morrow, before my watch is called." The sentry at the gate nodded him a "good-day," and Fletcher plunged into the tropical forest.

Now, traveling through a forest in New Granada, where the path that was trodden yesterday is all overgrown with mimosa and trailing vines today, and the fact of a path is resolved to a little less chopping and hewing with the heavy machete than when one encounters the unbroken tract, is a terrible task. Though he had started out before four o'clock, it was after twelve when he stopped just without the border of a glade between Swatee and Tubugantee, and seated himself to rest in the loop of a snake-like vine which swung between two gigantic trees. At the upper edge of the glade, which sloped toward the North where he stood, was a house that, in an architectural sense, was a vast improvement on the usual Isthmian hut, but which in our country and day, would scarcely be considered a rival to a Maine lumberman's shanty. Yet in 1699, and on Darien, the residence of El Capitan Zegarra was ranked as a palace, and cited as a marvel.

1;

José De Lopez Zegarra had been in supreme command at Portobello before the advent of Commander Carriljo, and his transfer to the distant miasma-infested district of Tubugantee almost cost Spain the services of a gallant officer. In his disappointment and resentment, he removed his family, consisting of Señora Zegarra, and their children, Inez and Eduardo, to his new command and discovering the beautiful glade to the westward of the town, he took up his quarters there, leaving Lieutenant Eduardo in charge of the garrison. The intrusion of the Scotchmen between Tubugantee and Portobello cost him no uneasiness; it rather pleased him, for their implied antagonism and supposed desire to cut communication between the various Spanish posts afforded him excuse for not writing, and explanation in case he should be called to account for his remissness. So, since the first of October preceding, he had neither written to, nor re

ceived writing from the hand of, the hated Commander Carriljo.

Fletcher was dozing and nodding to a fall from his insecure perch. Under the vertical sun the forest was hushed; chattering monkey and paroquet, the myriads of gay-colored insects and humming-birds were silent; not even a serpent stirred the tendrils of the vines, or gleamed in the fronds of the palm.

Across the shining sward, braving the scorching rays, a slight girlish form, clad all in white, her face shaded by a broad-leafed hat, tripped rapidly from the hacienda to the forest. It was Inez, the princess of Darien. The war-scarred Don, her father, and all the household were forgetting the heat in the noon-tide siesta, and she seemed the only living thing astir. In the shadow of the palo de vacca, she stopped, and smilingly observed the drowsy Scot.

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Andreas," she called, "I thought a soldier never slept on his post."

"I can only plead fatigue," he replied, "and throw myself upon the mercy of the court."

"A weak court for so grave an offense. I am glad you came today, for tomorrow the rains come on, and El Capitan says the 20th of this month always brings the storm. Then for weeks the journey from the river to Swatee is impossible for a native.”

"But not for a Scotchman in love," rejoined Fletcher, with a gallantry born of determination. "I have been on the Tay and Guadalquiver when the floods were out, and even a tempest on Darien will fail to daunt me."

"I can well believe," said Inez, "that the brave Inglese, who could peril his life, and, single-handed and without weapon, attack and slay the fierce puma that threatened the life of the poor Señorita Inez Zegarra, would face the storm to tell his love to the grateful girl he saved; but the storm brings out the wild beasts and serpents, a thousandfold more fierce and deadly then, and it would be worse than madness to attempt the journey."

"But the Spaniah troopers that are afoot between Swatee and New St. Andrew, spying

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say?"

out our location and our plans, will be me?" asked Fletcher. "An' what do they housed, and their presence I have more reason to dread than the beasts or serpents." Spanish troopers?" queried Inez.

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"Yes! And we have supposed they came from Tubugantee."

"Indeed, no! My brother Eduardo was at the hacienda yesterday, and told us how the soldiers there were eating their hearts in very inaction, and now for four weeks they will be perforce kept idle. They are afraid they will not be made to move before El Veranito di San Juan-the Little Summer of St. John."

"No much, but that ye're foregathering wi' the Dons."

"And then?"

"And then? mayhap ye'll be able to tell whaur they came frae, what they want, and how mony there may be to enforce their demand."

The tone of MacLaren's reply set Fletcher's blood tingling in his veins. "They suspect me, then, of covenanting wi' the Spaniard?”

"You alone of all in New Caledonia have the tongue; an' 'a Fletcher makes the best They are hardly from Portobello,"mused shaft for his ain sel',' I've heard them say in Fletcher. Inverness."

"No!" said Inez, catching the words, "they must be from over the range-Panama, you know."

"The inference being that I would sell my countrymen for Spanish gold?"

'I'm to hale ye to the guard, an' not to

"That means concerted danger, then," be counsel nor accuser," was MacLaren's thought Fletcher. decisive reply.

A bustle about the wattled and thatched huts that stood near the hacienda betokened the hour of four o'clock, and the appearance of the sleepers; and, with an embrace and "hasta la mañana," the Northman and the dark-skinned daughter of Spain separated.

II.

"GIN yon Andy Fletcher makes the gate the nicht, ye'll bring him to the guard, and ca' me up," was the charge that Paterson gave to Peter MacLaren, as that trusty son of Inverness took his evening station at the stockade.

Peter had been five weary hours watching the twinkling gleam of the fire-flies, and slapping vigorously to protect himself from the swarms of mosquitos, indulging between whiles in complimentary references to Peterhead and the comparative discomforts of Acta, when Andrew Fletcher emerged from the black shadow of the forest, and crossed the open space to the gate.

"I'm to hale ye to the guard," was MacLaren's greeting; "there's like to be trouble in store for ye, Andy, an' I doubt ye've gude reason to set yerself fair before the council." "Whose business is it to interfere wi'

Had Fletcher been left until the morrow to himself, he would have told Paterson and the Council what he had learned concerning the garrison at Tubugantee, and the probable source from which the troopers of the enemy

came.

MacLaren's imprudent speech had put him on his mettle, and to his questioners that night he simply remarked that he "had been taking his tent, and feared the Spaniards as little as he meditated treason."

He was informed that he was to consider himself under surveillance, and on no account to go beyond the forest or the water's edge without specific leave.

Andrew Fletcher's private grief was only part of the sorrow that brooded over Paterson's doomed colony in New Caledonia. Famine threatened them, and open discontent, because the gold they fancied was to be had for the mere picking up did not appear, broke out in murmurs and mutiny. By order of the Orange King of Britain, given to curry favor with the treacherous Spaniard, the English colonies and possessions in America were forbid to supply the people of New Caledonia with food or munitions. It would have fared hardly with the unfortunate Scotchmen, had not the friendly natives volunteered themselves as purveyors of fish and game,

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Then the rainy season set in. "On the Isthmus," says Dampier, "the rains are ushered in by a perfect deluge tumbling from the sky; the trickling streams swell suddenly into roaring and destructive torrents; the plains are quickly flooded, the whole country is swamped. All the while a close and terrible heat pervades the darkened atmosphere; noisome insects fill the air and swarm upon the ground. To breathe is an effort, and miasma creeps into the lungs at every labored respiration. When the rain ceases for some time in the night, the wan moon gleams down upon a ghastly world of waters, whence, among drowned groves, rises up pestilence in the visible form of murky vapors."

No wonder that the prospect of extermination at the hands of the Don, added to the score of miseries already set against them, made Andrew Fletcher an object of suspicion when the colonists received and entertained the impression that he was in communication with their most dreaded enemy. As death stalked among them and left not one in ten alive and well, they said that the Spaniard and Andrew Fletcher only bided their time, while their ally, disease, made havoc in the Scottish ranks.

In the midst of their calamity they were surprised, one morning, by the appearance of a Spaniard and two blacks paddling across the mouth of the Darien to Fort St. Andrew and its artificial island. Such of the menat-arms as could still handle musket and wield claymore were hastily summoned and drawn up to the defense of the gate, from which issued Campbell of Finab and young Torwoodlee. The Spaniard responded to their hail by waving a white flag and crying "amigo," for he could speak no word of English. Paterson was away from the fort, and Andrew Fletcher, was the only man therein who could hold converse with the Spaniard. He at once recognized the stranger as El Capitan Zegarra, for, unseen himself, he had frequently watched the coming and going of Inez's father about the hacienda.

At his first word of greeting El Capitan interrupted him, to ask if he were not "Andreas," on which a look that boded no good to Fletcher was exchanged among the bystanders.

"I am Andrew Fletcher," was the quiet response, though Fletcher realized how unfortunate for him was this query.

"Then," said the Spaniard, "here is a letter for thee. I have brought also for thee anodynes against the fever, and simples which the natives here cull in the rainy season as nature's antidote for the vapors of death which then arise."

Securing the letter in his bosom, Fletcher turned away from the package the Spaniard held towards him, exclaiming: "Not for me. Unless for all, Andrew will none of thy simples or anodynes. I thank El Capitan Zegarra for his kindness, and beg that he will send us here these medicaments for our hospital, now full with fever-stricken men.”

"Who told thee my name?" demanded the Spaniard; then added under breath, “The Scot who lurked in the forest!"

That expression, faintly overheard, removed the doubts that had arisen in Fletcher's mind regarding the honesty of the old Spaniard's intentions. From having been singled out to receive the letter and remedies, he thought the father had discovered in him the heretic lover of Inez, and, in the guise of a benefactor, had come to poison, infect, or otherwise do him mortal harm. But the Spaniard's expression testified to the ignorance he had been in as to the man or his motive who had been seen among the trees.

"A spy," thought the Don, as he regarded Andrew with a contemptuous look. As if his unspoken words had found echo in living breasts, the cry arose from a body of the Scotch, who had been talking apart, "A spy, a spy," and they fell upon El Capitan Zegarra and bore him to the guard-house before Campbell of Finab or Fletcher could interpose a word.

A second hasty consultation ended in the seizure of Fletcher, who was thrust with Zegarra into the narrow, damp, and deathbreeding "strong-room" of the guard-house.

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