Short summary - The Free Lances
Thomas Mayne Reid
A young Irishman, to annoy his beloved Mexican, enters the ranks of American partisans. But his love is mutual, the young man becomes a Mexican rebel, wins and marries his beloved.
Irish nobleman Florence Kearney arrives in New Orleans. The young man intends to go further to Mexico to study this country, but he is stopped by his lack of knowledge of Spanish. Florence met with the Mexican: he was expelled from the country by the tyrant who had seized power and lost all his fortune. Studying Spanish with him, Florence falls in love with his daughter Louise, who, it seems to Florence, does not show interest in him.
To annoy Louise, Florence enters the ranks of American partisans fighting against the Mexicans who invaded the capital of Texas. The meeting is attended by Carlo, his rival for the attention of Louise. Florence is surprised that Carlo, a Mexican about origin, although born in New Orleans, is on the side of the Americans.
In the evening, Louise is waiting for Florence invited by her father for dinner, but unexpectedly for the girl, Carlo arrives. Louise's father with the help of Carlo hopes to return the confiscated land. For this, he promises a hand to his daughter. Carlo, who came during the conversation, insults Carlo, and the Irishman challenges the offender to a duel.
During the duel, it turns out that Carlo meanly acted by putting on a protective carapace under his shirt. His seconds, who did not know about this, ask for forgiveness, and Florence's second throws the disgraced duelist into a ditch with water. Carried away to the bottom by a heavy shell, Carlo hardly crawls out of the water.
In one of the battles, Florence fights heroically, but is captured. The young man, together with his faithful friend, is placed in a prison cell with two Mexicans: a thief Ruperto and a poison killer, a disgusting dwarf hunchback. They are treated worse than the rest of the captives. The jailer chained Ruperto to Florence, and the dwarf to friend Florence, a man of gigantic growth.
A few days later, Carlo appears in their cell. In fact, he is a Mexican spy. After the duel, he returned to Mexico, fortunately avoiding the publicity of his shame.
Thanks to Carlo, Louise and his father return to Mexico, having received their lands back. After a duel, the bloodied Carlo lied to them that he seriously wounded Florence. The girl herself is not her own from grief.
Meanwhile, Louise is waiting for her servant, whom she sent to find out if there are Florence among the prisoners.
Louise comes to visit a friend, Countess Isabella, yearning for her lover Ruperto, who had to leave the country. Isabella found out that Ruperto was back and put in jail. The conversation of the girls interrupts the servant with the news that Florence is in the same prison as Ruperto.
Carlos visits the dictator. He says that in prison is a dangerous criminal Florence, one of the ruler’s most ardent enemies. Since Florence is an Irishman, and in the event of his execution, the English consul intervenes, the tyrant orders not to apply the death penalty to him, but gives him to the full disposal of Carlos.
The dictator is visited by Louise and Isabella, who ask for their beloved. Old lovelace, who lost a leg in the war, sympathizes with both ladies and refuses. He hints to Isabella that if they meet in private, her request may be a success. The girl scornfully rejects such an offer.
Prisoners are sent to the most terrible job - to clean the gutter. Florence sees Louise passing at this moment. The maid of Louise, disguised as a beggar, comes to Florence and quietly hands him a letter, which sets out the plan of escape.
Soon, a carriage with two beautiful ladies sitting in it passes by from a ditch. Suddenly, the carriage slides into the ditch. People rush to save women, but Florence, his friend, Ruperto and the dwarf take control of the crew and hide.
A carriage with disguised fugitives arrives at a military post. The sentries, recognizing the crew of Louise's father, pass him with honors. The chimes of church bells and cannon shots from the forts are heard. A hussar squadron is approaching the post, looking for a carriage.
Seeing that a squadron had been sent for them, the fugitives untied the horses, left the coachman, and themselves ran away two by two on a horse. Letting go of the horses so that they do not betray their neighing, the fugitives take refuge in the forest.
Upon learning of the escape, the dictator becomes furious. He sends in pursuit of Carlo.
Fugitives get to the huts of Ruperto in the mountains. The dwarf is placed in an ancient monastery nearby and put on a chain. Ruperto and his friends are preparing an uprising. For robbing one of their worst enemies, Ruperto was accused of theft. Florence and his friend decide to join them.
The fugitives cannot be found. The dictator, fearing the impending uprising, begins to forget about them.
The dwarf manages to free himself. In a nearby village, he sees Louise and Isabella. They worry about their beloved, about whom they know nothing. The dwarf deceives them, saying that the fugitives need help.
The dwarf meets Carlo, sometimes visiting Louise. He tells Carlo where the fugitives are hiding. He orders two soldiers to arrest him. Louise's servant, having heard their conversation, decides to help. He comes to the monastery and warns the rebels who are there about the danger. Soon after their departure, a squadron led by Carlo appears.
Finding no one in the monastery, Carlo arrests Louise, her father and Isabella. Arrived in time Florence with Ruperto beat them off, Florence kills Carlo.
After the victory of the rebels, the dictator is forced to flee abroad. In Mexico City Cathedral, couples in love marry.