of the ponies' hoofs made conversation difficult. I shouted back
that the presence of General Ernst in the town made it quite proper
for a foreign attache to enter it.
"It must have surrendered by now," I shouted. "It's been half an
hour since Ernst crossed the bridge."
At these innocent words, all my companions tugged violently at their
bridles and shouted "Whoa!"
"Crossed the bridge?" they yelled. "There is no bridge! The bridge
is blown up! If he hasn't crossed by the ford, he isn't in the
Then, in my turn, I shouted "Whoa!"
But by now the Porto Rican ponies had decided that this was the race
of their lives, and each had made up his mind that, Mexican bit or no
Mexican bit, until he had carried his rider first into the town of
Coamo, he would not be halted. As I tugged helplessly at my Mexican
bit, I saw how I had made my mistake. The volunteers, on finding the
bridge destroyed, instead of marching upon Coamo had turned to the
ford, the same ford which we had crossed half an hour before they
reached it. They now were behind us.