FIRST a servant, afterwards skipper of a boat, a smuggler, implicated in some shady affair and condemned by the authorities at Puerto Cabello to eight years' imprisonment, Boves was released by the Spaniards on condition that he fight against the revolutionaries.
He was a short man, as broad as he was long, with deep-set, light-coloured eyes, a nose like an eagle's beak, ruddy skin, bristly hair and beard, and the strength of Hercules; Boves raised bands of herdsmen, the Ilaneros. War was his delight; he would have fought as happily against no matter whom; it was a means for assuaging his thirst for blood. Extremely brave, moreover, and always in the van of his 'infernal legion' brandishing a blood-stained flag, he was wounded at least thirty times. Never would he admit defeat; beaten by Bolivar, having saved only ten men out of his fifteen hundred riders, he remade a fresh army. When he entered a village, the folk were obliged to obey him; they had heard of his cruelty and were afraid.
In a deserted town where no one remained save an old man and a child, he gave orders to behead the man.
'Spare him,' implored the boy, 'and I will be your slave.'