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Chapter II.2
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.
After getting over the shock, Don Jose refused to let himself be prostrated.
Indeed, better news succeeded at first. The revolt in the capital had been
suppressed after a night of fighting in the streets. Unfortunately, both the
Monteros had been able to make their escape south, to their native province of
Entre-Montes. The hero of the forest march, the victor of Rio Seco, had been
received with frenzied acclamations in Nicoya, the provincial capital. The troops
in garrison there had gone to him in a body. The brothers were organizing an
army, gathering malcontents, sending emissaries primed with patriotic lies to the
people, and with promises of plunder to the wild llaneros. Even a Monterist press
had come into existence, speaking oracularly of the secret promises of support
given by "our great sister Republic of the North" against the sinister land-