The present version, translated by Gray Casement, from the volume, Costa Rican Tales, copyright, 1905, by Burrows Co., Cleveland, is here reprinted by permission of the translator.

Chivalry

One night in the month of July, four horsemen, well mounted, emerged from an hacienda in Uruca and rode hurriedly along the highway to the joining of the road to San Antonio de Beldn, where they stopped.

“Here we must separate,” said one of them. “May you have good luck, Ramon,” he added, searching in the darkness for his friend’s hand.

“Adios, Salvador, adios,” replied the one spoken to, in a voice trembling with emotion. The two men, without letting go of each other’s hands, drew together until their stirrups touched, and embraced warmly.

“Adios, adios”—“Good luck.”

After a last embrace, long and affectionate, both started off in different directions, each escorted by one of the two horsemen who had just witnessed the sad scene of farewell. Those who followed the highroad did not get very far. At the Ciruelas river they fell into the hands of a picket of soldiers who carried them prisoners to the Alejuela Barracks. The other two fugitives, for fugitives they were, kept on, with better fortune, along the San Antonio road. The darkness did not permit them to see where they were going, so that the travellers had to trust to the instinct of their horses to avoid the bad places or to get out of them.

Luckily it did not rain, which would have been one more hindrance to the rapid march that the critical situation in which Salvador Moreno found himself necessitated, for he was being eagerly searched for on account of his share in the attack made the night before on the Cuartel Principal in San Josd. The revolutionary uprising had failed through the fault of those who were to have brought men from the neighboring towns, with the intention of arming them when the Cuartel had surrendered, and of laying siege to the other ones.

Not one of them appeared at the critical moment, and the few valiant ones who had surprised the garrison asleep at two o’clock in the morning, had to abandon at daybreak the conquest which had cost them so much blood.

Salvador did not answer the questions which from time to time his companion asked him. Absorbed in his thoughts he lived over again the happenings of last night’s bloody drama; the meeting in the house of one of the conspirators, the irritating wait for those who did not come, the fear of a betrayal, the doubts and hesitations of the last hour, finally the moment of marching, the gate of the Cuartel opened by the hand of a traitor, the hand-to-hand fight with the guard, the gallantry of the officers meeting death at their posts. But more than all there harassed him the vision of a young lieutenant running up hurriedly, saber in hand, to aid his comrades, whom he had laid low by a shot at barely arm’s length. In vain he tried to make himself believe that it was a legitimate act of warfare. An internal voice cried out in the tribunal of his conscience against the blood that had been shed.

Mustafa
istanbul@istanbulday.com

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