NINE days after Bolívar landed at La Guaira, the Avon dropped anchor in the harbor. A rowboat put out from the crowded quay, crossed the dancing, sunlit water and pulled alongside the British vessel. Shortly after, the rowboat headed shoreward once more, with the Precursor and the future Liberator of five nations standing together in the bow.
Miranda, burly and erect, was an imposing military figure wearing the uniform of a general of the Grand Army of France. The tropic sun gleamed upon his brilliant coloring--upon the sky-blue of his coat and his tight white breeches, upon the red, white and blue of his sash. It glinted from his great polished boots, from the massive gold epaulets, from the hilt of his sword, and danced from the gold fringe and tassels that moved with the gentle breeze. His cold gray eyes squinted under the great half-moon hat that was worn at an angle across his head, and his curly hair was powdered and drawn to a queue behind. In one ear he wore a gold ring.
Beside him, dressed in the uniform of a colonel of Venezuelan militia, Bolívar appeared very young and slight--eager, restless. His fingers played with the hilt of his untried sword, and his face was alight with animation as he talked constantly, moving his head and shoulders in quick gestures. His eyes, glancing over the familiar shore ahead, turned upward to the towering green mountains that were the northern edge of that vast land he had sworn to deliver into the hands of a free people.