interview with the British Minister was interrupted by the arrival of the
expected despatches from Europe, on the purport of which the fate of the
had lasted long enough to enable Noel
to deeply impress the Minister with the importance of his representations, and
to excite in him the most vivid curiosity as to the source of his information.
‘You say,’ observed Sir Charles, after they had talked together for some time,
‘that you have been absent for some years from Europe, and have held no
communication whatever with
‘Tell Lord Littmass from me, (for I recognise your friend as entitled to that
appellation: it is an honoured name, and I trust that he will not long consider
himself debarred from assuming it,) that he alone of all foreigners in Mexico
has divined the true policy of the British Government, and the only possible one
for the country; and that it will be a subject of congratulation to all free
States if the indigenous races of Mexico, under the leadership of one of their
own children, succeed in regenerating their country, and in gaining for it a
place among the modern civilisations. I must not speak more definitively; but of
this you may be assured, that the British Government has neither any ambition of
its own to gratify, nor any disposition to further the ambition of others,
especially at the expense of
Noel took his leave, saying, that if the object of the Intervention really was to aid and not to supplant, it was essential for all parties that no time be lost in publishing the fact. Otherwise, only mischief would ensue.
The next few days were a time of great excitement, and anxiety at
necessity of his calling on the plenipotentiaries to disavow, openly, the rumours – rumours encouraged by the facility with which the English had allowed themselves to be cajoled into according the protection of their flag to the most notorious intriguers among the Mexican refugees from Paris – that they contemplated a hostile invasion of the country, and so to hasten the disavowal of any intention to subvert the government by force. The reply to his communication was brief, and to this effect: –
‘Gratias muchissimas. I knew all. Wait and watch.’
So Noel waited and watched; and the first intimation that the rupture, which
grew daily more imminent between the Allies, was complete, consisted in an order
to his naval friends to rejoin their ships. Assuming that the Minister would not
be long in following he called to pay his final respects. Being admitted, he was
greeted with a friendly admonition to get himself and his friends out of
‘Your information was correct, wherever it came from,’ said Sir Charles; ‘and had we possessed it soon enough, we should not have been here. Have you any reason for farther secrecy as to the source of your information?’
‘It was Juarez himself,’ replied Noel.
‘He has known it from the first,’ replied Noel.
‘Then he is a noble fellow,’ exclaimed the Minister, ‘and I shall do my best to make amends for the folly with which our Government has fallen into the trap.’
He was as good as his word; and, in spite of all denials and remonstrances from
the French Envoy, the British withdrew from
smile, ‘so long as I am in a position to protect anything.’
In the threatening position of affairs, troops could ill be spared; but the President insisted on providing Noel with an escort, and even offered to allow him to retain it at Dolóres, in case ‘Don Maynardo’ should deem such protection desirable.
So they parted; the young English gentleman to solve the hard problem of love and incompatible friendship, and the aboriginal Mexican ruler to wage war to the knife against the wily invaders of his country; and both to learn how important an element in the dispositions of Fate is individual character.