Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter IV / The Story of the Maid of Bogota >> Page 53

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Page 53

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Living in Bogota�the stronghold of the enemy � she exer-
cised a policy and address which disarmed suspicion. Her father
and his family were to be saved and shielded, while they re-
mained under the power of the viceroy, Zamano � a military des-
pot who had already acquired a reputation for cruelty scarcely
inferior to that of the worst of the Roman emperors in the latter
days of the empire. The wealth of her father, partly known,
made him a desirable victim. Her beauty, her spirit, the charm
of her song and conversation, were exercised, as well to secure
favor for him, as to procure the needed intelligence and assis-
tance for the Liberator. She managed the twofold object with
admirable success � disarming suspicion, and, under cover of the
confidence which she inspired, succeeding in effecting constant
communication with the patriots, by which she put into their
possession all the plans of the Spaniards. Her rare talents and
beauty were the chief sources of her success. She subdued her
passionate and intense nature�her wild impulse and eager
heart�employing them only to impart to her fancy a more im-
pressive and spiritual existence. She clothed her genius in the
brightest and gayest colors, sporting above the precipice of feel-
ing, and making of it a background and a relief to heighten the
charm of her seemingly wilful fancy. Song came at her sum-
mons, and disarmed the serious questioner. In the eyes of her
country's enemies she was only the improvvisatrice�a rarely
gifted creature, living in the clouds, and totally regardless of the
things of earth. She could thus beguile from the young officers
of the Spanish army, without provoking the slightest apprehen-
sion of any sinister object, the secret plan and purpose the
new supply�the contemplated enterprise in short, a thousand
things which, as an inspired idiot, might be yielded to her with
indifference, which, in the case of one solicitous to know, would
be guarded with the most jealous vigilance. She was the prin-
cess of the tertulia�that mode of evening entertainment so com-
mon, yet so precious, among the Spaniards. At these parties
she ministered with a grace and influence which made the house
of her father a place of general resort. The Spanish gallants
thronged about her person, watchful of her every motion, and
yielding always to the exquisite compass, and delightful spiritu-
ality of her song. At worst, they suspected her of no greater