When, however, the command reached the summit of a hill, about four miles from Rivas, a scene of beauty and of splendor burst upon their vision, and for a while drew them from everything else, even from thought of the eager strife in which they expected soon to mingle.
As the advance guard reached a turn in the road it seemed to halt for a moment, involuntarily, and though the order was to march in silence an exclamation of surprise and pleasure escaped the lips of all. Mendez, the red streamer flying from the lance which rested on his stirrup, was up with the advance and uttered the single word "Ometepe." To his eye the scene was familiar, but to the Americans it appeared a vision of enchantment. The lake of Nicaragua lay in full view, and rising from it, as Venus from the sea, was the tall and graceful cone of Ometepe. The dark forests of the tropics clothed the side of the volcano, which seemed to repose under the influence of the soft sunshine around it. The form of the mountain told its history as if written in a book; and the appearance of the volcano was so much that of a person enjoying a siesta, the beholder would not have been surprised to see it waken at any moment and throw the lava from its burning sides. The first glimpse of the scene almost made the pulse stand still; and the Falange had scarcely recovered from its effects when the command was halted opposite a countryhouse a few hundred yards from Rivas, in order to prepare for the attack on the town.