ONE day the Captain-General of Venezuela received a packet of English newspapers from the Governor of Trinidad. The captain, Don Juan de Casas, gave them to his secretary, declaring that he had not time to read all those pages. The secretary, Bello, glanced at 'The Times' and was stupefied by the news which he found there. It announced the abdication of Ferdinand VII, the French victories in Spain, the trap at Bayonne, the entry of Joseph Bonaparte into Madrid, and the exile of the Spanish sovereigns. It gave the text of a letter from King Charles to the Prince of the Asturias, and an act of King Charles renouncing his rights in favour of the Emperor Napoleon. Bello believed this news to be a hoax and dared not make it public immediately. He passed a sleepless night, not knowing whether duty called on him to publish these lies. In the morning he could bear it no longer, but rushed to the palace of Don Juan, who burst out laughing and declined to believe such a joke. At any rate, the two men repeated it to no one.
On the 15th of July, at nine o'clock in the morning, it was whispered in the town that a brig had cast anchor during the night opposite La Guayra. Soon afterwards a boat came ashore and two French officers landed. As far as could be made out, they wanted