Joseph Conrad: Nostromo


AFTER another armed struggle, decided by Montero's victory of Rio
Seco, had been added to the tale of civil wars, the "honest men,"
as Don Jose called them, could breathe freely for the first time
in half a century. The Five-Year-Mandate law became the basis of
that regeneration, the passionate desire and hope for which had
been like the elixir of everlasting youth for Don Jose Avellanos.

And when it was suddenly--and not quite unexpectedly--endangered
by that "brute Montero," it was a passionate indignation that
gave him a new lease of life, as it were. Already, at the time of
the President-Dictator's visit to Sulaco, Moraga had sounded a
note of warning from Sta. Marta about the War Minister. Montero
and his brother made the subject of an earnest talk between the
Dictator-President and the Nestor-inspirer of the party. But Don
Vincente, a doctor of philosophy from the Cordova University,
seemed to have an exaggerated respect for military ability, whose
mysteriousness--since it appeared to be altogether independent of
intellect--imposed upon his imagination. The victor of Rio Seco
was a popular hero. His services were so recent that the
President-Dictator quailed before the obvious charge of political
ingratitude. Great regenerating transactions were being
initiated--the fresh loan, a new railway line, a vast
colonization scheme. Anything that could unsettle the public
opinion in the capital was to be avoided. Don Jose bowed to
these arguments and tried to dismiss from his mind the gold-laced
portent in boots, and with a sabre, made meaningless now at last,
he hoped, in the new order of things.

Less than six months after the President-Dictator's visit, Sulaco
learned with stupefaction of the military revolt in the name of
national honour. The Minister of War, in a barrack-square
allocution to the officers of the artillery regiment he had been
inspecting, had declared the national honour sold to foreigners.
The Dictator, by his weak compliance with the demands of the
European powers--for the settlement of long outstanding money
claims--had showed himself unfit to rule. A letter from Moraga
explained afterwards that the initiative, and even the very text,
of the incendiary allocution came, in reality, from the other
Montero, the ex-guerillero, the Commandante de Plaza. The
energetic treatment of Dr. Monygham, sent for in haste "to the
mountain," who came galloping three leagues in the dark, saved
Don Jose from a dangerous attack of jaundice.

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