Page:The Fall of Maximilan's Empire.djvu/123

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bastion. As the first gray streaks of daylight appeared and grew in the east, these threatening objects began to loom out more distinctly from the dark edge of the castle wall; and soon two guns were discerned pointing on the deck of the "Tacony," and a heavy rifle at the "Jason." These were fully manned, the crews standing with lock-strings in hand and rammers and sponges ready. The gunners there certainly realized that a similar state of preparation existed on board the two ships; and the minutes seemed to lengthen to hours as the adversaries looked at each other through the sight bars, occasionally touching an elevating quoin, or giving a slight heave with a handspike to keep perfect their aim. All seemed to depend upon the caprice or pride of General Gomez, the commander of the castle, who, now that the Imperial cause was at an end, had nothing to gain and nothing to lose by a conflict, and upon whose voice or gesture depended the fate of probably one ship and the lives of many men. To his honor, be it said, his pride did not succeed in leading him to pursue the desperate course which it had prompted. His adversaries were not to be daunted, and he apparently accepted the situation. As by a common impulse, though probably in obedience to a silent order, the gunners of the castle finally broke from their pieces and dispersed, and the great tension was relieved. The battery was kept loaded and trained, but the