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Title: Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Vol. II.
Author: Stephens, John L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's notes:

1. Page scan source:

2. Frontispiece (Engraving 1), Map of Mani (Engraving 35), and
Paintings (Engraving 50) are from the NYPL Digital Gallery which
provides free and open access to over 700,000 images digitized
from primary sources and printed rarities in the vast collections
of The New York Public Library.

3. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe]

[Engraving 1: Frontispiece--Casa del Gobernador, Uxmal]

                          INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL



                          BY JOHN L. STEPHENS,


                     ILLUSTRATED BY 120 ENGRAVINGS.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                               VOL. II.

                               NEW YORK:
                     PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS
                            FOR HENRY BILL.

      Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, by
                           HARPER & BROTHERS,
       In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York

                           THE SECOND VOLUME.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                               CHAPTER I.

Departure from Nohcacab.--Outfit.--Rancho of Chack.--Fright of the
Women.--Rancho of Schawill--Casa Real.--Scarcity of Water.--Visit
from the Alcalde.--Primitive Mode of obtaining Water.--A peculiar
People.--Ruins of Zayi.--Great tree-covered Mound.--The Casa
Grande.--Fortunate Discovery.--Staircase.--Doorways, &c.--Buildings on
the second Terrace.--Doorways.--Curiously ornamented Columns.--Building
on the third Terrace.--Doorways, Apartments, &c.--Stone
Lintels.--Façade of the second Range of Buildings.--Ground Plan of the
three Ranges.--The Casa Cerrada.--Doorways filled up inside with Stone
and Mortar.--Finished Apartments, also filled up.--This filling up
simultaneous with the Erection of the Building.--A Mound.--Ruined
Building.--Its Interior.--Sculptured Head, &c.--A strange
Structure.--An Archway.--Perpendicular Wall.--Stuccoed Figures and
Ornaments.--Great Terrace and Building.--Apartments, &c.--Want of
Interest manifested by the Indians in regard to these Ruins.

                               CHAPTER II.

Visit to a ruined Building near Chack.--A Field of Táje.--Description
of the Building.--Hornet's Nest.--Young Vulture.--Picturesque View from
the Terrace.--Well of Chack.--Exploration of its Passages.--Return to
the Rancho.--Departure from Schawill--The Camino Real.--Rancho of
Sennacté.--Wild Appearance of the Indians.--Continued Scarcity of
Water.--Another ruined City.--Two ruined Buildings.--Apartments,
Columns, &c.--High Wall.--Journey continued.--Rancho of
Sabachshé.--Casa Real.--Well--Hut of the Alcalde.--The Señora.--Ruins
of Sabachshé.--Picturesque Edifice.--Alacrity of the
Indians.--Façade.--Pilasters, Cornices, &c.--Encounter with an
Iguana.--Another Ruined Building.--The Agave Americana.--More
Ruins.--The Red Hand.--The Red Hand used as a Symbol by the North
American Indians.--Conclusions to be deduced from this
Circumstance.--Delicate Manner of doing a Service.

                              CHAPTER III.

Ruins of Labnà.--Accounts of the Indians not to be relied
on.--Irretrievable Ruin.--Extraordinary
Structure.--Doorways.--Chambers.--Gigantic Wall, covered with Designs
in Stucco.--Death's Heads.--Human Figures in Alto Relievo.--Colossal
Figure seated.--Large Ball and Figures.--Dilapidated State of this
Structure.--An arched Gateway.--Other Buildings.--Richly ornamented
Doorway.--Courtyard.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Large
Building.--Magnificent Edifice.--Façade ornamented with sculptured
Stone.--Circular Hole leading to a subterranean Chamber.--The Ramon
Tree.--A Cave.--Conversation with the Indians.--A Ride to the
Hacienda of Tabi.--Sculptured Ornament.--Other Figures.--Visit
to a Cave.--Tree-encumbered Path.--A Vaquero.--Descent into the
Cave.--Fanciful Scene.--Return to the Rancho.--A Warm Bath.

                              CHAPTER IV.

Search for Ruined Cities continued.--Journey to the Rancho of
Kewick.--Ruined Building.--Lose the Road.--Set right by an
Indian.--Arrival at Kewick.--The Casa Real.--Visit from the Proprietor
of the Rancho, a full-blooded Indian.--His Character.--Visit to
the Ruins.--Garrapatas.--Old Walls.--Façades.--Imposing Scene of
Ruins.--Principal Doorway.--Apartments.--Curious Painting.--Excavating
a Stone.--A long Building.--Other Ruins.--Continued Scarcity of
Water.--Visit to a Cave, called by the Indians Actum.--A wild
Scene.--An Aguada.--Return to the Casa Real.--A Crisis in Money
Matters.--Journey to Xul.--Entry into the Village.--The
Convent.--Reception.--The Cura of Xul.--His Character.--Mingling of Old
Things with New.--The Church.--A Levée.--A Welcome Arrival.

                               CHAPTER V.

Journey to the Rancho of Nohcacab.--A Fountain and Seybo Tree.--Arrival
at the Rancho.--Its Appearance.--A sick Trio.--Effects of a good
Breakfast.--Visit to the Ruins.--Terrace and Buildings.--Three other
Buildings.--Character of these Ruins.--Disappointment.--Return to
Xul.--Visit to another ruined City.--Ruined Building.--An
Arch, plastered and covered with Painted Figures.--Other
Paintings.--Subterranean Well.--Return to the Village.--Journey to
Ticul.--Large Mounds.--Passage of the Sierra.--Grand View.--Arrival at
Ticul.--A Village Festival.--Ball of the Mestizas.--Costumes.--Dance
of the Toros.--Lassoing Cattle.--Ball by Daylight.--The
Fiscales.--Ludicrous Scene.--A Dance.--Love in a Phrensy.--A unique
Breakfast.--Close of the Ball.

                              CHAPTER VI.

Bull-fights.--Horse-race.--Bull-fighters.--Their villanous
Appearance.--Death of a Bull.--A Ball of Etiquette.--Society in
Yucatan.--Costumes at the Ball.--More Bull-fights.--A Mestiza.--Scenes
in the Bull-ring.--A Storm.--Dispersion of the Spectators.--A
Discovery.--A new Reformation in Yucatan.--Celibacy of Priests.--A
few Words about the Padres.--Arrival of Mr. Catherwood and Dr.
Cabot.--Rain.--Daguerreotyping.--"The Ancient Chronology of
Yucatan."--Don Pio Perez.--Calendar of the Ancient
Indians.--Substantially the same with that of the Mexicans.--This Fact
tends to show the common Origin of the aboriginal Inhabitants of
Yucatan and Mexico.

                              CHAPTER VII.

Return to Nohcacab.--Final Departure from this Village.--An Indian
Sexton.--Route.--"Old Walls."--Ruins of Sacbey.--Paved Road.--Journey
continued.--Ruins of Xampon.--Imposing Edifice.--"Old Walls," called by
Indians Xlapphak.--Ruins of Hiokowitz and Kuepak.--Zekilna.--Altar for
burning Copal.--Ancient Terrace.--Lofty stone Structure.--Remains of a
Building.--Sculptured Stones.--Platform.--Rancho of Chunhuhu.--Become
involuntary Masters of a Hut.--Its interior Arrangements.--Scarcity
of Water.--Pressing Wants.--Visit to the Ruins.--Two
Buildings.--Façade.--Ornamented Doorways.--Welcome Visiters.--Another
Building.--Plastered Front.--A Building seen from the Terrace.--Visit
to the Ruins of Schoolhoke.--Large stone Structure.--Ranges of
Buildings.--Circular Stone.--Ruined Edifice.--Representations of Human
Figures.--Return to the Rancho.--Benefits of a Rain.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

Journey to Bolonchen.--Bad Road.--Large Hacienda.--Imposing
Gateway.--An inhospitable Host.--Ruins of Ytsimpte.--Ruined
Edifice.--Staircase with sculptured Stones.--Square Building.--Façade
decorated with Pillars.--Ruined Walls.--Remains of a sculptured
Figure.--Character and Aspect of the Ruins.--Departure.--Arrival at the
Village of Bolonchen.--Scene of Contentment.--Wells.--Derivation of the
Word Bolonchen.--Origin of the Wells unknown.--The Cura.--Visit to an
extraordinary Cave.--Entrance to it.--Precipitous Descents.--A wild
Scene.--Rude Ladders.--Dangers of the Descent.--Indian Name of this
Cave.--A subterranean Ball-room.--Cavernous Chamber.--Numerous
Passages.--Great Number of Ladders.--Rocky Basin of Water.--Great
Depth of the Cave.--A Bath in the Basin.--Its Indian Name.--Return
to the Rocky Chamber.--Exploration of another Passage.--Another
Basin.--Indian Stories.--Two other Passages and Basins.--Seven
Basins in all.--Indian Names of the remaining five.--Want of
Philosophical Instruments.--Surface of the Country.--This Cave the
sole Watering-place of a large Indian Village.--Return.--Visit to the
Cura.--Report of more Ruins.

                               CHAPTER IX.

Departure from Bolonchen.--Lose the Road.--Sugar Rancho.--A new
Section of Country.--Rancho of Santa Rosa.--Annoyance from
Fleas.--Visit to the Ruins of Labphak.--A lofty Structure.--Apartments,
&c.--Staircases.--Doorways.--Interesting Discovery.--Courtyard.--Square
Building on the second Terrace.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Oblong Building
on the third Terrace.--Colossal Figures and Ornaments.--Centre
Apartment.--Tokens of recent Occupation.--Ground Plan of the lower
Range of Apartments.--Sculptured Bas-reliefs.--Builders adapted
their Style to the Materials at Hand.--Abode at the
Ruins.--Wants.--Moonlight Scene.--Painting.--Circular Holes.--Range of
Buildings.--Staircases.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Rain.--Love of the

                               CHAPTER X.

Departure from Labphak.--Sugar Ranchos.--Hacienda of
Jalasac.--Cultivation of Sugar.--Another Rancho.--Its neat
Appearance.--Señor Trego's Establishment.--A Well.--Seybo
Trees.--Journey resumed.--Village of Iturbide.--Its Settlement and
rapid Growth.--An Acquaintance.--Oppressive Attentions.--Lunar
Rainbow.--Appearance of the Village.--Mound of Ruins.--Visit to the
Ruins of Zibilnocac.--A Well.--A long Edifice.--Lazy Escort.--An
anxious Host.--Return to the Village.--A prosperous Emigrant.--A
Dinner.--Medical Practice.--Deplorable Condition of the Country in
regard to Medical Aid.--Second Visit to the Ruins.--Front of an
Edifice.--Square Structures.--Interesting Painting.--An ancient
Well.--Mounds.--Vestiges of a great City.

                               CHAPTER XI.

End of Journey in this Direction.--Lake of Peten.--Probable Existence
of Ruins in the Wilderness.--Islands in the Lake of Peten.--Peten
Grande.--Mission of two Monks.--Great Idol of the Figure of a
Horse.--Broken by the Monks, who in Consequence are obliged to
leave the Island.--Second Mission of the Monks.--Sent away by
the Indians.--Expedition of Don Martin Ursua.--Arrival at the
Island.--Attacked by the Indians, who are defeated.--Don Martin takes
Possession of Itza.--Temples and Idols of the Indians.--Destroyed
by the Spaniards.--Flight of the Indians into the
Wilderness.--Preparations.--Illness of Mr. Catherwood.--Effects of
Gambling.--From the Church to the Gaming-table.--How People live at
Iturbide.--Departure.--Rancho of Noyaxche.

                               CHAPTER XII.

Journey resumed.--An Aguada.--The Aguadas artificial, and built by the
Aboriginal Inhabitants.--Examination of one by Señor Trego.--Its
Construction.--Ancient Wells.--Pits.--A Sugar Rancho.--Rancho of
'Y-a-Walthel.--Rancho of Choop.--Arrival at Macobà.--The
Ruins.--Lodgings in a miserable Hut.--Wells.--Ruined
Buildings.--Another Aguada.--Pits.--Astonishment of the
Indians.--Falling in Love at first Sight.--Interesting
Characters.--Departure.--Thick Undergrowth.--Rancho of Puut.--An
Incident.--Situation of the Rancho.--Water.--Ruins of Mankeesh.

                             CHAPTER XIII.

Rancho of Jalal.--Picturesque Aguada.--Excavations made in it by the
Indians.--System of Aguadas.--Journey resumed.--Lose the Road.--An
Effort in the Maya Language.--Grove of Orange Trees.--Ruins of
Yakatzib.--Dilapidated Edifice.--Stony Sierra.--Village of
Becanchen.--Hospitality.--Sculptured Stones.--Wells.--Running
Stream of Water.--Derivation of the Word Becanchen.--Rapid Growth of
the Village.--Source of the Water of the Wells.--Accident to an
Indian.--The Party separate.--Aguadas.--A Trogon.--Hacienda of
Zaccacal.--Visit to the Ruins.--Stone Terrace.--Circular Hole.--Two
Buildings.--Garrapatas.--Black Ants.--Return.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

Village of San José.--Thatched Church.--The Cura--A refractory
Indian.--Attachment of the Indians.--Journey to Mani.--The
Sierra.--Hacienda of Santa Maria.--A ruined Mound.--Good Road.--Arrival
at the City of Tekax.--A bloodless Revolution.--Situation and
Appearance of the City.--An interesting Meeting.--Curiosity of the
People.--Akil.--The Site of a ruined City:--Sculptured Stones.--Journey
resumed.--Arrival at Mani.--Historical Notice.--Tutul Xiu.--Embassy to
the Lords of Zotuta.--Ambassadors murdered.--Mani the first interior
Town that submitted to the Spaniards.--Scanty Supply of Water
throughout the Country.--Important Consideration.--A touching

                              CHAPTER XV.

Buying a Wardrobe.--Crowd of Loungers.--Visit to the Ruins.--A long
Edifice built by the Spaniards.--Interesting Well.--Indian Legend.--The
Mother of the Dwarf.--Exploration of the Well.--Remains of large
Mounds.--Cogolludo.--Ancient and curious Painting.--Books and ancient
Characters of the Indians burned by the Spaniards.--Archives of
Mani.--Important Documents.--Ancient Map.--Instrument endorsed
on its Back.--Important Bearing of these Documents.--What was
Uxmal?--Argument.--No Vestiges of a Spanish Town at Uxmal.--Churches
erected by the Spaniards in all their Settlements.--No Indications of a
Church at Uxmal.--Conclusions.--Suspicions of the People.--Church and
Convent.--Extensive View from the Top of the Church.

                              CHAPTER XVI.

Departure from Mani.--Ornithology of Yucatan.--Discoveries of Doctor
Cabot.--Village of Tixmeach.--Peto.--Church and Convent.--News
from Home.--Don Pio Perez.--Indian Almanac.--A Fragment of Maya
Manuscript.--Journey resumed.--Taihxiu.--Yaxcala.--Pisté.--Arrival
at Chichen.--First Sight of the Ruins.--The Hacienda.--A strange
Reception.--Lodgings.--Situation of the Ruins.--Mr. Burke.--Magnificent
Appearance of the Ruins.--Derivation of the Word
Chichen.--Senotes.--Different from those before presented.--Mischievous
Boys.--Failure of the Corn Crop.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

Plan of the Ruins.--An Edifice called
Akatzeeb.--Doorways.--Apartments.--Circular Mass of
Masonry.--Mysterious Chamber.--Sculptured Stone Tablet.---Majestic
Pile of Building called the Monjas.--Hieroglyphics.--Rich
Ornaments.--Doorways, Chambers, &c.--Remains of Painting.--The Eglesia,
or Church.--Ornaments on the Façade.--Cartouches in Plaster.--Circular
Edifice called the Caracol.--Apartment.--Staircase, having on each Side
entwined Serpents.--Gigantic Head.--Doorways.--Paintings.--Building
called Chichanchob.--Ornaments.--Row of Hieroglyphics.--Another
Building.--Vestiges of Mounds and ruined Buildings.--Extraordinary
Edifice, to which the Name Gymnasium or Tennis-court is
given.--Ornamented Columns.--Sculptured Figures in Bas-relief.--Massive
Stone Rings, with entwined Serpents.--Indian Sports.--Two Ranges of
Buildings.--Procession of Tigers.--Sculptured Columns.--Figures
in Bas-relief.--Richly-carved lintel.--Paintings. The
Castillo.--Staircase.--Colossal Serpents' Heads.--Doorways.--Carved
Lintels.--Jambs ornamented with Sculptured
Figures.--Corridors.--Apartments.--Square Pillars, covered with
Sculptured Figures.--Rows of Columns.--Occupation and Abandonment of
Chichen by the Spaniards.--First Discovery of Chichen.--Senotes.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

Departure from Chichen.--Village of Cawa.--Cuncunul.--Arrival at
Valladolid.--An Accident.--Appearance of the City.--Don Pedro
Baranda's Cotton Factory.--A Countryman.--Mexican Revolution.--The
Indians as Soldiers.--Adventures of a Demonio.--Character of the
People.--Gamecocks.--Difficulty of obtaining Information in regard to
the Route.--Departure for the Coast.--Party of Indians.--Village of
Chemax.--Fate of Molas the Pirate.--Discouraging Accounts.--Plans
deranged.--The Convent.--The Cura.--Population of the Village.--Its
early History.--Ruins of Coba.--Indian Sepulchre.--Relics.--A Penknife
found in the Sepulchre.

                              CHAPTER XIX.

Departure.--Journey to Yalahao.--Stony Road.--Arrival at the Port.--The
Sea.--Appearance of the Village.--Bridge.--Springs.--Pirates.--Scarcity
of Ramon.--The Castillo.--Its Garrison.--Don Vicente Albino.--An
Incident.--Arrangements for a Voyage down the Coast.--Embarcation.--The
Canoa El Sol.--Objects of the Voyage.--Point Moscheto.--Point
Frances.--An Indian Fisherman.--Cape Catoche.--The first Landing-place
of the Spaniards.--Island of Contoy.--Sea-birds.--Island of
Mugeres.--Lafitte.--Harpooning a Turtle.--Different Kinds of
Turtle.--Island of Kancune.--Point of Nesuc.--Sharks.--Moschetoes.--Bay
of San Miguel.--Island of Cozumel.--Rancho established by the Pirate
Molas.--Don Vicente Albino.--Mr. George Fisher.--Piratical Aspect of
the Island.--A Well.--Plantation of Cotton.--Stroll along the Shore.

                               CHAPTER XX.

A crippled Dog.--Island of Cozumel known to the Natives by the Name of
Cuzamil.--Discovered by Juan De Grijalva.--Extracts from the Itinerary
of his Voyage.--Towers seen by the Spaniards.--An ancient Indian
Village.--Temples.--Idols prostrated by the Spaniards.--Present State
of the Island.--Overgrown with Trees.--Terrace and Building.--Another
Building.--These Buildings probably the Towers seen by the
Spaniards.--Identical with those on the Mainland.--Ruins of a Spanish
Church.--Its History unknown.--Vanity of Human Expectations.--Opinion
of the old Spanish Writers.--Their Belief that the Cross was found
among the Indians as a Symbol of Christian Worship.--The "Cozumel
Cross" at Merida.--Platform in Front of the Church.--Square
Pillars.--Once supported Crosses.--The Cozumel Cross one of them.--The
Cross never recognised by the Indians as a Symbol of Worship.--Rare
Birds.--A Sudden Storm.--The Canoa in a Strait.--Fearful Apprehensions.

                               CHAPTER XXI.

Search for the Canoa.--An Iron-bound Coast.--A wild Opening.--A
sheltered Cove.--The Canoa found.--The Account of the Patron.--A Man
overboard.--Return.--Sea-shells.--Departure from Cozumel.--Coast
of Yucatan.--Square Buildings.--First Sight of the Castillo of
Tuloom.--Rancho of Tancah.--Molas.--His two Sons.--Visit to the Ruins
of Tuloom.--Buildings seen on the Way.--Magnificent Scenery.--The
Castillo.--Front View.--Grand Staircase.--Columns.--Corridors.--The Red
Hand.--The Wings of the Castillo, consisting of two Ranges.--Devices in
Stucco.--Flat Roofs.--Back View of the Castillo.--A Storm.--Sudden
Change of Feeling.--Ruined Buildings.--Square Terrace.--Picturesque
Sight.--Fragments of Tablets.--Isolated Building.--Curious
Figure.--Paintings.--Discovery of the City Wall.--Its good
constructed on a new Principle.--Onslaught of Moschetoes.

                             CHAPTER XXII.

Discovery of a Building.--Two others.--Description of the first
Building.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Columns.--Corridor.--Paintings.--
Central Chamber.--Altar.--Upper Story.--Stone Tablets.--Another
Building.--Mutilated Figure.--Apartments.--Altar.--A third
Building.--This City seen by the early Spanish Voyagers.--Continued to
be occupied after the Conquest.--Adoratorios.--Accounts of ruined
Cities in the Interior.--Return Voyage.--Sea-sickness.--Nesuc.--
Kancune.--Ruined Buildings.--Island of Mugeres.--Sea-birds.--Appearance
of the Island.--A hideous Funeral Pile.--Ibises.--Lafitte.--Piratical
Associations.--Confession of a Pirate.--Visit to the Ruins.--A
lonely Edifice.--Grand Scene.--Corridors.--Inscriptions.--Square
Building.--Account of Bernal Dias.--Departure from the Island.--
Catoche.--Yalahao.--Ancient Mound.--El Cuyo.--An old Acquaintance in

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

Port of Silan.--Hospitality.--Breakfast.--Walk along the Shore.--
Flamingoes.--Shooting Excursion to Punta Arenas.--Wild Road.--Take
Possession of a Hut.--Great Variety and immense Numbers of Wild
Fowl.--Get Stuck in the Mud.--Flamingoes and Spoonbills.--A ludicrous
Adventure.--Dissection of Birds.--Return to the Port.--The Quartel.--A
Catastrophe.--Departure.--Village of Silan.--Gigantic Mound.--View
from its Top.--Another Mound.--Accounts of Herrera and Cogolludo.--The
Grave of Lafitte.--Hospitality of the Padres.--Departure from
Silan.--Temax.--Church and Convent.--Izamal.--Fiesta of Santa
Cruz.--Appearance of the City.--Mounds.--Colossal Ornaments in
Stucco.--Gigantic Head.--Stupendous Mound.--Interior Chambers.--Church
and Convent.--Built on an ancient Mound.--A Legend.--A Ball.

                               CHAPTER XXIV.

Departure for Merida.--The Road.--Cacalchen.--Hacienda of Aké.--The
Ruins.--Great Mound called the Palace.--Immense Staircase.--Grand
Approach.--Columns.--No Remains of a Building on the Mound.--Other
Mounds.--Interior Chamber.--A Senote.--Rude and Massive Character of
these Ruins.--End of Journey among ruined Cities.--Number of Cities
discovered.--Of the Builders of the American Cities.--Opinion.--Built
by the Ancestors of the present Race of Indians.--Reply to Arguments
urged against this Belief.--Absence of Tradition.--Unparalleled
Circumstances which attended the Conquest.--Unscrupulous Policy of the
Spaniards.--Want of Tradition not confined to Events before the
Conquest.--Nor peculiar to American Ruins.--Degeneracy of the
Indians.--Insufficiency of these Arguments.--Farewell to Ruins.

                              CHAPTER XXV.

Departure.--Arrival at Merida.--Old Acquaintances.--Giraffes.--Aspect
of the Political Horizon.--The great Question of the Revolution
undecided.--Nomination of Deputies to the Mexican Congress.--Santa
Ana's Ultimatum.--Dissensions.--Pitiable Condition of the
State.--Cause of the Convulsions of the Southern Republics.--State
Rights.--Preparations for Departure from the Country.--Invasion of
Yucatan.--Parting with Friends.--Embarcation for Havana.--Arrival
there.--A Paseo.--The Tomb of Columbus.--Passage Home.--Conclusion.

                          ENGRAVINGS. VOL. II.

1. Frontispiece.
2. Front of the Casa Grande at Zayi
3. Façade of the farthest Building at Zaji
4. Ground Plan of the Casa Grande
5. Terrace and Building
6. Terrace and Building
7. Ruined Building
8. Building at Sabachshé
9. Building at Sabachshé
10. Pyramidal Mound and Building at Labnà
11. Arched Gateway
12. Interior Front of Gateway
13. Portion of a Façade
14. Casa Real of Kewick
15. Doorway at Kewick
16. Curious Painting
17. Front of a Building
18. Building at Sacbey
19. Building at Xampon
20. Building at Chunhuhu
21. A Doorway
22. A Building
23. A Building
24. Entrance to a Cave at Bolonchen
25. Principal Staircase in the Cave
26. Section of the Cave
27. A grand Structure
28. Ground Plan
29. Bas-reliefs
30. Building at Zibilnocac
31. An Aguada
32. Building at Macobà
33. An Aguada
34. System of Aguadas
35. Map of Mani
36. Senote at Chichen
37. The Akatzeeb
38. Sculptured Stone Tablet
39. End Façade of the Monjas
40. Front of the Monjas
41. The Eglesia, or Church
42. The Caracol, a Circular Edifice
43. The Casa Colorada
44. Hieroglyphics
45. Picturesque View
46. Gymnasium, or Tennis Court
47. Sculptured Entwined Serpents
48. An Edifice
49. Figures in Bas-relief
50. Paintings
51. The Castillo
52. Staircase, with colossal Serpents' Heads
53. Sculptured Figure
54. An Apartment
55. Rows of Columns and Castillo
56. Port of Yalahao
57. Island of Cozumel
58. Square Building
59. Front View of the Castillo of Tuloom
60. Back View of the Castillo
61. An isolated Edifice
62. Plan of the City Wall
63. A Watch-tower
64. A Building
65. A Building
66. An Adoratorio
67. A lonely Edifice
68. Immense Mound
69. Gigantic Head
70. Mound called El Palacio

                          INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL

                               CHAPTER I.

Departure from Nohcacab.--Outfit.--Rancho of Chack.--Fright of the
Women.--Rancho of Schawill--Casa Real.--Scarcity of Water.--Visit
from the Alcalde.--Primitive Mode of obtaining Water.--A peculiar
People.--Ruins of Zayi.--Great tree-covered Mound.--The Casa
Grande.--Fortunate Discovery.--Staircase.--Doorways, &c.--Buildings on
the second Terrace.--Doorways.--Curiously ornamented Columns.--Building
on the third Terrace.--Doorways, Apartments, &c.--Stone
Lintels.--Façade of the second Range of Buildings.--Ground Plan of the
three Ranges.--The Casa Cerrada.--Doorways filled up inside with Stone
and Mortar.--Finished Apartments, also filled up.--This filling up
simultaneous with the Erection of the Building.--A Mound.--Ruined
Building.--Its Interior.--Sculptured Head, &c.--A strange
Structure.--An Archway.--Perpendicular Wall.--Stuccoed Figures and
Ornaments.--Great Terrace and Building.--Apartments, &c.--Want of
Interest manifested by the Indians in regard to these Ruins.

On the twenty-fourth of January we left Nohcacab. It was a great relief
to bid farewell to this place, and the only regret attending our
departure was the reflection that we should be obliged to return. The
kindness and attentions of the padrecito and his brother, and, indeed,
of all the villagers, had been unremitted, but the fatigue of riding
twelve miles every day over the same ground, and the difficulty of
procuring Indians to work, were a constant source of annoyance; besides
which, we had a feeling that operated during the whole of our journey:
wherever we were taken ill we became disgusted with the place, and were
anxious to leave it.

We were setting out on a tour which, according to the plan laid out,
embraced a circuit of ruins, and required us to revisit Nohcacab,
although our return would be only to make it a point of departure in
another direction.

In consequence of this plan we left behind all our heavy luggage, and
carried with us only the Daguerreotype apparatus, hammocks, one large
box containing our tin table service, a candlestick, bread, chocolate,
coffee, and sugar, and a few changes of clothing in pestaquillas.
Besides Albino and Bernaldo we had a puny lad of about fifteen, named
Barnaby, a much smaller pattern than either of the others, and all
three together were hardly equal in bulk to one fairly developed man.

We were all provided with good horses for the road. Mr. Catherwood had
one on which he could make a sketch without dismounting; Dr. Cabot
could shoot from the back of his. Mine could, on an emergency, be
pushed into a hard day's journey for a preliminary visit. Albino rode a
hard-mouthed, wilful beast, which shook him constantly like a fit of
the fever and ague, and which we distinguished by the name of the
trotter. Bernaldo asked for a horse, because Albino had one, but,
instead of riding, he had to put a strap across his forehead and carry
his own luggage on his back.

We were about entering a region little or not at all frequented by
white men, and occupied entirely by Indians. Our road lay through the
ruins of Kabah, a league beyond which we reached the rancho of Chack.
This was a large habitation of Indians, under the jurisdiction of the
village of Nohcacab. There was not a white man in the place, and as we
rode through, the women snatched up their children, and ran from us
like startled deer. I rode up to a hut into which I saw a woman enter,
and, stopping at the fence, merely from curiosity, took out a cigar,
and, making use of some of the few Maya words we had picked up, asked
for a light, but the door remained shut. I dismounted, and before I had
tied my horse the women rushed out and disappeared among the bushes. In
one part of the rancho was a casa real, being a long thatched hut with
a large square before it, protected by an arbour of leaves, and on one
side was a magnificent seybo tree, throwing its shade to a great
distance round.

On leaving this rancho we saw at a distance on the left a high ruined
building standing alone amid a great intervening growth of woods, and
apparently inaccessible. Beyond, and at the distance of four leagues
from Nohcacab, we reached the rancho of Schawill, which was our first
stopping-place, on account of the ruins of Zayi in its immediate
neighbourhood. This place also was inhabited exclusively by Indians,
rancho being the name given to a settlement not of sufficient
importance to constitute a village. The casa real, like that at Chack,
was a large hut, with mud walls and a thatched roof. It had an open
place in front about a hundred feet square, enclosed by a fence made of
poles, and shaded by an arbour of palm leaves. Around the hut were
large seybo trees. The casa real is erected in every rancho of Indians
expressly for the reception of the cura on his occasional or perhaps
barely possible visits, but it is occupied also by small dealers from
the villages, who sometimes find their way to these ranchos to buy up
hogs, maize, and fowls. The hut, when swept out, and comparatively
clear of fleas, made a large and comfortable apartment, and furnished
ample swinging room for six hammocks, being the number requisite for
our whole retinue.

This place was under the parochial charge of our friend the cura of
Ticul, who, however, owing to the multiplicity of his other
occupations, had visited it but once. The padrecito had sent notice of
our coming, and had charged the people to be in readiness to receive
us. Immediately on our arrival, therefore, Indians were at hand to
procure ramon for the horses, but there was no water. The rancho had no
well, and was entirely dependant on that of Chack, three miles distant.
For two reals, however, the Indians undertook to procure us four
cantaros, one for each horse, which would serve for the night. In the
evening we had a formal visit from the alcalde and his alguazils, and
half the village besides.

Although we had been some time in the country, we regarded this as
really the beginning of our travels; and though the scenes we had met
with already were not much like any we had ever encountered before, our
first day's journey introduced us to some that were entirely new. The
Indians assembled under the arbour, where they, with great formality,
offered us seats, and the alcalde told us that the rancho was poor, but
they would do all they could to serve us. Neither he nor any other in
the place spoke a word of Spanish, and our communications were through
Albino. We opened the interview by remonstrating against the charge of
two reals for watering our horses, but the excuse was satisfactory
enough. In the rainy season they had sources of supply in the
neighbourhood, and these were perhaps as primitive as in any other
section of the habitable world, being simply deposites of rain-water in
the holes and hollows of rocks, which were called sartenejas. From the
rocky nature of the country, these are very numerous; during the rainy
season they are replenished as fast as they are exhausted, and at the
time of our visit, owing to the long continuance of the rains, they
furnished a sufficient supply for domestic use, but the people were not
able to keep horses or cows, or cattle of any kind, the only animals
they had being hogs. In the dry season this source of supply failed
them; the holes in the rocks were dry, and they were obliged to send to
the rancho of Chack, the well of which they represented as being half a
mile under ground, and so steep that it was reached only by descending
nine different staircases.

This account saved them from all imputation of churlishness in not
giving our horses water. It seemed strange that any community should be
willing to live where this article of primary necessity was so
difficult to be obtained, and we asked them why they did not break up
their settlement and go elsewhere; but this idea seemed never to have
occurred to them; they said their fathers had lived there before them,
and the land around was good for milpas. In fact, they were a peculiar
people, and I never before regretted so much my ignorance of the Maya
language. They are under the civil jurisdiction of the village of
Nohcacab, but the right of soil is their own by inheritance. They
consider themselves bitter off than in the villages, where the people
are subject to certain municipal regulations and duties, or than on the
haciendas, where they would be under the control of masters.

Their community consists of a hundred labradores, or working men; their
lands are held and wrought in common, and the products are shared by
all. Their food is prepared at one hut, and every family sends for its
portion, which explained a singular spectacle we had seen on our
arrival; a procession of women and children, each carrying an earthen
bowl containing a quantity of smoking hot broth, all coming down the
same road, and dispersing among the different huts. Every member
belonging to the community, down to the smallest pappoose, contributed
in turn a hog. From our ignorance of the language, and the number of
other and more pressing matters claiming our attention, we could not
learn all the details of their internal economy, but it seemed to
approximate that improved state of association which is sometimes heard
of among us; and as theirs has existed for an unknown length of time,
and can no longer be considered merely experimental, Owen or Fourier
might perhaps take lessons from them with advantage.

They differ from professed reformers in one important particular--they
seek no converts. No stranger is allowed, upon any consideration, to
enter their community; every member must marry within the rancho, and
no such thing as a marriage out of it had ever occurred. They said it
was impossible; it could not happen. They were in the habit of going to
the villages to attend the festivals; and when we suggested a
supposable case of a young man or woman falling in love with some
village Indian, they said it might happen; there was no law against it;
but none could _marry_ out of the ranch. This was a thing so little
apprehended that the punishment for it was not defined in their penal
code; but being questioned, after some consultation they said that the
offender, whether man or woman, would be expelled. We remarked that in
their small community constant intermarriages must make them all
relatives, which they said was the case since the reduction of their
numbers by the cholera. They were, in fact, all kinsfolk, but it was
allowable for kinsfolk to marry except in the relationship of brothers
and sisters. They were very strict in attendance upon the ceremonies of
the Church, and had just finished the celebration of the carnival two
weeks in advance of the regular time; but when we corrected their
chronology, they said they could celebrate it over again.

Early in the morning we set out for the ruins of Zayi, or Salli. At a
short distance from the rancho we saw in an overgrown milpa on our left
the ruins of a mound and building, so far destroyed that they are not
worth presenting.

After proceeding a mile and a half we saw at some distance before us a
great tree-covered mound, which astonished us by its vast dimensions,
and, but for our Indian assistants, would have frightened us by the
size of the trees growing upon it. The woods commenced from the
roadside. Our guides cut a path, and, clearing the branches overhead,
we followed on horseback, dismounting at the foot of the Casa Grande.
It was by this name that the Indians called the immense pile of white
stone buildings, which, buried in the depths of a great forest, added
new desolation to the waste by which they were surrounded. We tied our
horses, and worked our way along the front. The trees were so close
that we could take in but a small portion of it at once. If we had
encountered these woods at Kabah, where we had such difficulties in
procuring Indians, we should have despaired of being able to accomplish
anything, but, fortunately so far, where our labours were great we had
at hand the means of performing them.

We were at no loss what to do, our great object now being to economize
time. Without waiting to explore the rest of the ground, we set the
Indians at work, and in a few minutes the stillness of ages was broken
by the sharp ringing of the axe and the crash of falling trees. With a
strong force of Indians, we were able, in the course of the day, to lay
bare the whole of the front.

Dr. Cabot did not arrive on the ground till late in the day, and,
coming upon it suddenly from the woods, when there were no trees to
obstruct the view, and its three great ranges and immense proportions
were visible at once, considered it the grandest spectacle he had seen
in the country.

[Engraving 2: Front of the Casa Grande at Zayi]

The plate opposite represents the front of this building. The view was
taken from a mound, at the distance of about five hundred feet,
overgrown and having upon it a ruined edifice. In clearing away the
trees and undergrowth, to this mound we discovered a pila, or stone,
hollowed out, and filled with rain-water, which was a great acquisition
to us while working at these ruins.

The plate represents so much of the building as now remains and can be
presented in a drawing.

It has three stories or ranges, and in the centre is a grand staircase
thirty-two feet wide, rising to the platform of the highest terrace.
This staircase, however, is in a ruinous condition, and, in fact, a
mere mound, and all that part of the building on the right had fallen,
and was so dilapidated that no intelligible drawing could be made of
it; we did not even clear away the trees. The engraving represents all
that part which remains, being the half of the building on the left of
the staircase.

The lowest of the three ranges is two hundred and sixty-five feet in
front and one hundred and twenty in depth. It had sixteen doorways,
opening into apartments of two chambers each. The whole front wall has
fallen; the interiors are filled with fragments and rubbish, and the
ground in front was so encumbered with the branches of fallen trees,
even after they had been chopped into pieces and beaten down with
poles, that, at the distance necessary for making a drawing, but a
small portion of the interior could be seen. The two ends of this range
have each six doorways, and the rear has ten, all opening into
apartments, but in general they are in a ruinous condition.

The range of buildings on the second terrace was two hundred and twenty
feet in length and sixty feet in depth, and had four doorways on each
side of the grand staircase, Those on the left, which are all that
remain, have two columns in each doorway, each column being six feet
six inches high, roughly made, with square capitals, like Doric, but
wanting the grandeur pertaining to all known remains of this ancient
order. Filling up the spaces between the doorways are four small
columns curiously ornamented, close together, and sunk in the wall.
Between the first and second and third and fourth doorways a small
staircase leads to the terrace of the third range. The platform of this
terrace is thirty feet in front and twenty-five in the rear. The
building is one hundred and fifty feet long by eighteen feet deep, and
has seven doorways opening into as many apartments. The lintels over
the doorways are of stone.

[Engraving 3: Façade of the farthest Building at Zayi]

The exterior of the third and highest range was plain; that of the two
other ranges had been elaborately ornamented; and, in order to give
some idea of their character, I present opposite a portion of the
façade of the second range. Among designs common in other places is the
figure of a man supporting himself on his hands, with his legs expanded
in a curious rather than delicate attitude, of which a small portion
appears on the right of the engraving; and again we have the "large and
very well constructed buildings of lime and stone" which Bernal Dias
saw at Campeachy, "with figures of _serpents_ and of idols painted on
the walls."

[Engraving 4: Ground Plan of the Casa Grande]

The following engraving represents the ground plan of the three ranges,
and gives the dimensions of the terraces. The platforms are wider in
front than in the rear; the apartments vary from twenty-three to ten
feet, and the north side of the second range has a curious and
unaccountable feature. It is called the Casa Cerrada, or closed house,
having ten doorways, all of which are blocked up inside with stone and
mortar. Like the well at Xcoch, it had a mysterious reputation in the
village of Nohcacab, and all believed that it contained hidden
treasure. Indeed, so strong was this belief, that the alcalde Segundo,
who had never visited these ruins, resolved to take advantage of our
presence; and, according to agreement in the village, came down with
crowbars to assist us in breaking into the closed apartments and
discovering the precious hoard. The first sight of these closed-up
doorways gave us a strong desire to make the attempt; but on moving
along we found that the Indians had been beforehand with us. In front
of several were piles of stones, which they had worked out from the
doorways, and under the lintels were holes, through which we were able
to crawl inside; and here we found ourselves in apartments finished
with walls and ceilings like all the others, but filled up (except so
far as they had been emptied by the Indians) with solid masses of
mortar and stone. There were ten of these apartments in all, 220 feet
long and ten feet deep, which being thus filed up, made the whole
building a solid mass; and the strangest feature was that the filling
up of the apartments must have been simultaneous with the erection of
the buildings, for, as the filling-in rose above the tops of the
doorways, the men who performed it never could have entered to their
work through the doors. It must have been done as the walls were built,
and the ceiling must have closed over a solid mass. Why this was so
constructed it was impossible to say, unless the solid mass was
required for the support of the upper terrace and building; and if this
was the case, it would seem to have been much easier to erect a solid
structure at once, without any division into apartments.

The top of this building commanded a grand view, no longer of a dead
plain, but of undulating woodlands. Toward the northwest, crowning the
highest hill, was a lofty mound, covered with trees, which, to our now
practised eyes, it was manifest shrouded a building, either existing or
in ruins. The whole intervening space was thick wood and underbrush,
and the Indians said the mound was inaccessible. I selected three of
the best, and told them that we must reach it; but they really did not
know how to make the attempt, and set out on a continuation of the road
by which we had reached the ruins, and which led us rather from than to
the mound. On the way we met another Indian, who turned back with us,
and a little beyond, taking his range, he cut through the woods to
another path, following which a short distance, he again struck through
the woods, and, all cutting together, we reached the foot of a stony
hill covered with the gigantic maguey, or Agave Americana, its long
thorny points piercing and tearing all that touched them. Climbing up
this hill with great toil, we reached the wall of a terrace, and,
climbing this, found ourselves at the foot of the building.

It was in a ruinous condition, and did not repay us for the labour; but
over the door was a sculptured head with a face of good expression and
workmanship. In one of the apartments was a high projection running
along the wall; in another a raised platform about a foot high; and on
the walls of this apartment was the print of the red hand. The doorway
commanded an extensive view of rolling woodland, which, with its livery
of deep green, ought to have conveyed a sensation of gladness, but,
perhaps from its desolation and stillness, it induced rather a feeling
of melancholy. There was but one opening in the forest, being that made
by us, disclosing the Casa Grande, with the figures of a few Indians
still continuing their clearings on the top.

In front of the Casa Grande, at the distance of five hundred yards, and
also visible from the top, is another structure, strikingly different
from any we had seen, more strange and inexplicable, and having at a
distance the appearance of a New-England factory.

[Engraving 5: Terrace and Building]

The engraving which follows represents this building. It stands on a
terrace, and may be considered as consisting of two separate
structures, one above the other. The lower one, in its general
features, resembled all the rest. It was forty feet front, low, and
having a flat roof, and in the centre was an archway running through
the building. The front is fallen, and the whole so ruined that nothing
but the archway appears in the engraving. Along the middle of the roof,
unsupported, and entirely independent of everything else, rises a
perpendicular wall to the height of perhaps thirty feet. It is of
stone, about two feet thick, and has oblong openings through it about
four feet long and six inches wide, like small windows. It had been
covered with stucco, which had fallen off, and left the face of rough
stone and mortar; and on the other side were fragments of stuccoed
figures and ornaments. An Indian appears before it in the act of
killing a snake, with which all the woods of Yucatan abound. Since we
began our exploration of American ruins we had not met with anything
more inexplicable than this great perpendicular wall. It seemed built
merely to puzzle posterity.

These were the only buildings in this immediate neighbourhood which had
survived the wasting of the elements; but, inquiring among the Indians,
one of them undertook to guide me to another, which he said was still
in good preservation. Our direction was south-southwest from the Casa
Grande; and at the distance of about a mile, the whole intermediate
region being desolate and overgrown, we reached a terrace, the area of
which far exceeded anything we had seen in the country. We crossed it
from north to south, and in this direction it must have been fifteen
hundred feet in length, and probably was quite as much in the other
direction; but it was so rough, broken, and overgrown, that we did not
attempt to measure it.

[Engraving 6: Terrace and Building]

On this great platform was the building of which the Indian had told
us; I had it cleared, and Mr. Catherwood drew it the next day, as it
appears in the engraving opposite. It measures one hundred and
seventeen feet in front, and eighty-four feet deep, and contains
sixteen apartments, of which those in front, five in number, are best
preserved. That in the centre has three doorways. It is twenty-seven
feet six inches long, by only seven feet six inches wide, and
communicates by a single doorway with a back room eighteen feet long
and five feet six inches wide. This room is raised two feet six inches
above the one in front, and has steps to ascend. Along the bottom of
the front room, as high as the sill of the door, is a row of small
columns, thirty-eight in number, attached to the wall.

In several places the great platform is strewed with ruins, and
probably other buildings lie buried in the woods, but without guides or
any clew whatever, we did not attempt to look for them.

Such, so far as we were able to discover them, are the ruins of Zayi,
the name of which, to the time of our visit, had never been uttered
among civilized men, and, but for the notoriety connected with our
movements, would probably be unknown at this day in the capital of
Yucatan. Our first accounts of them were from the cura Carillo, who, on
the occasion of his only visit to this part of his curacy, passed a
great portion of his time among them.

It was strange and almost incredible that, with these extraordinary
monuments before their eyes, the Indians never bestowed upon them one
passing thought. The question, who built them? never by any accident
crossed their minds. The great name of Montezuma, which had gone beyond
them to the Indians of Honduras, had never reached their ears, and to
all our questions we received the same dull answer which first met us
at Copan, "Quien sabe?" "Who knows?" They had the same superstitious
feelings as the Indians of Uxmal; they believed that the ancient
buildings were haunted, and, as in the remote region of Santa Cruz del
Quiche, they said that on Good Friday of every year music was heard
sounding among the ruins.

There was but one thing connected with the old city that interested
them at all, and that was the subject of a well. They supposed that
somewhere among these ruins, overgrown and lost, existed the fountain
which had supplied the ancient inhabitants with water; and, believing
that by the use of our instruments its site could be discovered, they
offered to cut down all the trees throughout the whole region covered
by the ruins.

                               CHAPTER II.

Visit to a ruined Building near Chack.--A Field of Táje.--Description
of the Building.--Hornet's Nest.--Young Vulture.--Picturesque View from
the Terrace.--Well of Chack.--Exploration of its Passages.--Return to
the Rancho.--Departure from Schawill.--The Camino Real.--Rancho of
Sennacté.--Wild Appearance of the Indians.--Continued Scarcity of
Water.--Another ruined City.--Two ruined Buildings.--Apartments,
Columns, &c.--High Wall.--Journey continued.--Rancho of
Sabachshé.--Casa Real.--Well.--Hut of the Alcalde.--The Señora.--Ruins
of Sabachshé.--Picturesque Edifice.--Alacrity of the
Indians.--Façade.--Pilasters, Cornices, &c.--Encounter with an
Iguana.--Another Ruined Building.--The Agave Americana.--More
Ruins.--The Red Hand.--The Red Hand used as a Symbol by the North
American Indians.--Conclusions to be deduced from this
Circumstance.--Delicate Manner of doing a Service.

The next morning, while Mr. Catherwood was engaged in drawing the
building represented in the last engraving, Dr. Cabot and myself set
out to visit the one which we had passed in coming from the rancho of

In the suburbs of the rancho we turned off to the right by a path,
which we followed for some distance on horseback, when it changed its
direction, and we dismounted. From this place our guides cut a path
through the woods, and we came out upon a large field of táje, being
long stems growing close together, eight or ten feet high, straight,
and about half an inch thick, having a yellow flower on the top, which
is a favourite food for horses. The stems, tied up in bundles three or
four inches thick, are used for torches. On one side of this field we
saw the high building before referred to, and on the other side was a
second not visible before. A bird which the doctor wished to procure
lighted on a tree growing upon the latter, and we went to it, but found
nothing of particular interest, and struck across the field of táje for
the former. This táje was as bad as the woods to walk through, for it
grew so high as to exclude every breath of air, and was not high enough
to be any protection against the sun.

The building stood on the top of a stony hill, on a terrace still firm
and substantial. It consisted of two stories, the roof of the lower one
forming the platform in front of the upper, and had a staircase, which
was broken and ruined. The upper building had a large apartment in the
centre, and a smaller one on each side, much encumbered with rubbish,
from one of which we were driven by a hornet's nest, and in another a
young vulture, with a hissing noise, flapped its plumeless wings and
hopped out of the door.

The terrace commanded a picturesque view of wooded hills, and at a
distance the Casa Grande, and the high wall before presented. They were
perhaps three or four miles distant. All the intermediate space was
overgrown. The Indians had traversed it in all directions in the dry
season, when there was no foliage to hide the view, and they said that
in all this space there were no vestiges of buildings. Close together
as we had found the remains of ancient habitations, it seemed hardly
possible that distinct and independent cities had existed with but such
a little space between, and yet it was harder to imagine that one city
had embraced within its limits these distant buildings, the extreme
ones being four miles apart, and that the whole intermediate region of
desolation had once swarmed with a teeming and active population.

Leaving this, we toiled back to our horses, and, returning to the road,
passed through the rancho, about a mile beyond which we reached the
pozo, or well, the accounts of which we had heard on our first arrival.

Near the mouth were some noble seybo trees, throwing their great
branches far and wide, under which groups of Indians were arranging
their calabashes and torches, preparing to descend; others, just out,
were wiping their sweating bodies. At one moment an Indian disappeared,
and at the next another rose up out of the earth. We noticed that there
were no women, who, throughout Yucatan, are the drawers of water, and
always seen around a well, but we were told that no woman ever enters
the well of Chack; all the water for the rancho was procured by the
men, which alone indicated that the well was of an extraordinary
character. We had brought with us a ball of twine, and made immediate
preparations to descend, reducing our dress as near as possible to that
of the Indians.

Our first movement was down a hole by a perpendicular ladder, at the
foot of which we were fairly entered into a great cavern. Our guides
preceded us with bundles of táje lighted for torches, and we came to a
second descent almost perpendicular, which we achieved by a ladder laid
flat against the rock. Beyond this we moved on a short distance, still
following our guides, and still descending, when we saw their torches
disappearing, and reached a wild hole, which also we descended by a
long rough ladder. At the foot of this the rock was damp and slippery,
and there was barely room enough to pass around it, and get upon
another ladder down the same hole, now more contracted, and so small
that, with the arms akimbo, the elbows almost touched on each side. At
this time our Indians were out of sight; and in total darkness, feeling
our way by the rounds of the ladder, we cried out to them, and were
answered by distant voices directly underneath. Looking down, we saw
their torches like moving balls of fire, apparently at an interminable
distance below us.

At the foot of this ladder there was a rude platform as a
resting-place, made to enable those ascending and descending to pass
each other. A group of naked Indians, panting and sweating under the
load of their calabashes, were waiting till we vacated the ladder
above; and even in this wild hole, with loads on their backs, straps
binding their foreheads, and panting from fatigue and heat, they held
down their torches, and rendered obeisance to the blood of the white
man. Descending the next ladder, both above and below us were torches
gleaming in the darkness. We had still another ladder to descend, and
the whole perpendicular depth of this hole was perhaps two hundred

From the foot of this ladder there was an opening to the right, and
from it we soon entered a low, narrow passage, through which we crawled
on our hands and knees. With the toil and the smoke of the torches the
heat was almost beyond endurance. The passage enlarged and again
contracted, descending steeply, and so low that the shoulders almost
touched the roof. This opened upon a great chasm at one side, and
beyond we came to another perpendicular hole, which we descended by
steps cut in the rock. From this there was another low, crawling
passage, and, almost stifled with heat and smoke, we came out into a
small opening, in which was a basin of water, being the well. The place
was crowded with Indians filling their calabashes, and they started at
the sight of our smoky white faces as if El Demonio had descended among
them. It was, doubtless, the first time that the feet of a white man
had ever reached this well.

On returning we measured the distance. Doctor Cabot going before with a
line of about a hundred feet, in the wild and broken passages being
soon out of sight, and sometimes out of hearing. I followed, with an
Indian winding up the line, while I made notes. I had two Indians with
long bundles of lighted sticks, who, whenever I stopped to write,
either held them so far off as to be of no use, or else thrust them
into my face, blinding the eyes with smoke and scorching the skin. I
was dripping as if in a vapour-bath; my face and hands were black with
smoke and incrusted with dirt; large drops of sweat fell upon my book,
which, with the dirt from my hands, matted the leaves together, so that
my notes are almost useless. They were, no doubt, imperfect, but I do
not believe that, with the most accurate details, it is possible to
convey a true idea of the character of this cave, with its deep holes
and passages through a bed of solid rock, and the strange scene
presented by the Indians, with torches and calabashes, unmurmuring and
uncomplaining, at their daily task of seeking, deep in the bowels of
the earth, one of the great elements of life.

The distance, as we traversed it, with its ladders, ascents and
descents, winding and crawling passages, seemed a full half league, as
represented by the Indians. By measurement it was not quite fifteen
hundred feet, which is about equal to the length of the Park fronting
on Broadway. The perpendicular depth to the water I am not able to
give, but some idea may be formed of these passages from the fact that
the Indians did not carry their calabashes on their shoulders, because,
with the body bent, they would strike against the roof or roll over the
head; but the straps across the forehead were let out so long that the
calabashes rested below the hips, and in crawling on the hands and feet
their loads did not rise above the line of the back.

And this well was not, as at Xcoch, the occasional resort of a
straggling Indian, nor the mere traditionary watering-place of an
ancient city. It was the regular and only supply of a living
population. The whole rancho of Chack was entirely dependant upon it,
and in the dry season the rancho of Schawill, three miles distant.

The patient industry of such a people may well be supposed to have
reared the immense mounds and the great stone structures scattered all
over the country. We consumed a calabash of water in washing and
quenching our thirst, and as we rode back to the rancho of Schawill,
came to the conclusion that an admission into the community of this
exclusive people was no great privilege, when it would entail upon the
applicant, for six months in the year, a daily descent into this
subterraneous well.

We arrived at the rancho in good season. Mr. Catherwood had finished
his drawing, and Bernaldo was ready with his dinner. We had nothing to
detain us, ordered carriers forthwith for our luggage, and at half past
two we were in the saddle again in search of ruined cities.

The reader has some idea of the caminos reales of this country, and
they were all like English turnpikes compared with that upon which we
entered on leaving this rancho. In fact, it was a mere path through the
woods, the branches of the trees being trimmed away to a height barely
sufficient to admit of an Indian passing under with a load of maize on
his back. We were advised that it would be very difficult to get
through on horseback, and were obliged to keep dodging the head and
bending the body to avoid the branches, and at times we were brought to
a stand by some overhanging arm of a tree, and obliged to dismount.

At the distance of two leagues we reached the rancho of Sannacté, the
Indians of which were the wildest people in appearance we had yet seen.
As we rode through, the women ran away and hid themselves, and the men
crouched on the ground bareheaded, with long black hair hanging over
their eyes, gazing at us in stupid astonishment. The same scarcity of
water still continued. The rancho was entirely destitute; it had no
pozo or well of any kind, either ancient or modern, and the inhabitants
procured their whole supply from the village of Sabachshé, two leagues,
or six miles, distant! This supply, too, was brought daily on the backs
of Indians; but again in this arid and destitute region was still
another evidence of ancient population--another desolate and ruined

[Engraving 7: Ruined Building]

Beyond the outskirts of the rancho was a large clearing for a milpa,
within which, naked and exposed to full view, were two ancient
buildings. The milpa was enclosed by a fence, and was overgrown with
táje. We tied our horses to the stems of the táje, and, leaving them
eating the flowers, followed a path which led between the two
buildings. The engraving which follows represents the one on the left.
It stands on a terrace, still strong and substantial, and, fortunately,
clear of trees, though many were growing on the top. It has five
apartments; the façade above the cornice is fallen, and between the
doorways are fragments of small columns set in the wall. On the other
side of the milpa was another edifice, holding aloft a high wall, like
that we had seen at Zayi, extraordinary in its appearance and
incomprehensible in its uses and purposes. From the tact and facility
we had now acquired, a short time sufficed for our examination of this
place, and, with one more added to our list of ruined cities, we
mounted, and resumed our journey.

At half past five we reached the rancho of Sabachshé, lying on the
camino real from Ticul to Bolonchen, and inhabited entirely by Indians.
The casa real stood on an elevation in an open place; it was thatched
with palm leaves, had mud walls, and an arbour before it, and a table
and benches within. Altogether, it was better in appearance and
furniture than the others we had encountered, which, as we afterward
learned, was owing to the circumstance that, besides its regular uses,
it was intended for the residence of the mistress on her annual visits
to the rancho. But much more interesting and important was the fact,
that this rancho was distinguished by a well, the sight of which was
more grateful to us than that of the best hotel to the traveller in a
civilized country. We were scratched with thorns, and smarting with
garrapata bites, and looked forward to the refreshment of a bath. Very
soon our horses had the benefit of it, the bath being in that country,
where the currycomb and brush are entirely unknown, the only external
refreshment these animals ever get. The well was built by the present
owner, and formerly the inhabitants were dependant entirely upon the
well at Tabi, six miles distant! Besides its real value, it presented a
curious and lively spectacle. A group of Indian women was around it. It
had no rope or fixtures of any kind for raising water, but across the
mouth was a round beam laid upon two posts, over which the women were
letting down and hoisting up little bark buckets. Every woman brought
with her and carried away her own bucket and rope, the latter coiled up
and laid on the top of her head, with the end hanging down behind, and
the coil forming a sort of headdress.

Near the well was the hut of the alcalde, enclosed by a rude fence, and
within were dogs, hogs, turkeys, and fowls, which all barked, grunted,
gobbled, and cackled together as we entered. The yard was shaded by
orange-trees loaded with ripe and unusually large fruit. Under one of
them was a row of twenty or thirty wild boars' jaws and tusks, trophies
of the chase, and memorials attesting the usefulness of the barking
dogs. The noise brought the alcalde to the door, a heavy and infirm old
man, apparently rich, and suffering from the high living indicated by
his hogs and poultry; but he received us with meekness and humility. We
negotiated forthwith for the purchase of some oranges, and bought
thirty for a medio, stipulating that they should all be the largest and
best on the trees; after which, supporting himself by his cane, he
hobbled on to the casa real, had it swept out, and assigned Indians to
attend upon us. If he wanted alacrity himself, he infused it into his
people, and made up for all deficiencies by unqualified personal
deference and respect. It was a fine evening, and we spread our
supper-table under the arbour. The old alcalde remained with us, and a
group of Indians sat on the steps, not like the proud and independent
race of Schawill, but acknowledging themselves criados, or servants,
bound to obey the orders of their mistress. La señora was, in their
eyes, a miniature print of Queen Victoria, but skill in the use of
figures may arrive at the value of at least this part of her
possessions. There were fifty-five labradores, or labouring men, under
an obligation to plant and harvest ten micates of maize for her benefit
Each micate produces ten cargas, or loads, making in all five hundred
and fifty, which, at three reals per carga, gives as the revenue this
lady comes regularly to collect, about two hundred dollars per annum;
but this gives more power than lands or money to any amount in our
country could give; and the labradores being all free and independent
electors, fifty-five votes could always be calculated upon in an
emergency for the side of principle and la señora.

Having made our arrangements for the next day, we went into the hut and
shut the door. Some time afterward the old alcalde sent in to ask
permission to go home, as he was very sleepy, which we graciously
granted, and, by his direction, three or four Indians swung their
little hammocks under the arbour, to be at hand in case we should need
anything. During the night we found it extremely cold and, with the
little covering we had brought, could hardly keep ourselves

Early in the morning we found a large gathering round the house to
escort us to the ruins. In the suburbs of the rancho we turned off to
the left, and passed among the huts of the Indians, almost smothered by
weeds, and having at the doors rude boxes of earth set up on posts, for
vegetables to grow in out of the reach of the hogs.

Crossing the fence of the last hut, we entered a thick growth of trees.
As if instinctively, every Indian drew his machete, and in a few
minutes they cut a path to the foot of a small building, not rich in
ornament, but tasteful, having some shades of difference from any we
had seen, overgrown by trees, and beautifully picturesque. On one
corner of the roof a vulture had built her nest, and, scared away at
our approach, hovered over our heads, looking down upon us as if
amazed. We gave directions, all the Indians fell to work, and in a few
minutes the small terrace in front was cleared. I had not expected so
many Indians, and, not knowing what occasion I might have for their
services told them that I did not need so great a number, and should
only pay those whom I had engaged. All stopped, and when the purport of
my words was explained to them, said that made no difference; they
immediately set to work again, and the machete fell with a rapidity
unparalleled in our experience. In half an hour space enough was
cleared for Mr. Catherwood to set up his camera lucida. The same
alertness was shown in preparing a place for him to stand in, and half
a dozen stood ready to hold an umbrella for his protection against the

[Engraving 8: Building at Sabachshé]

The plate opposite represents the front of the building. Its design is
tasteful and even elegant, and when perfect it must have presented a
fine appearance. It has a single doorway, opening into a chamber
twenty-five feet long by ten wide. Above the door is a portion of plain
masonry, and over this a cornice supporting twelve small pilasters,
having between them the diamond ornament, then a massive cornice, with
pilasters and diamond work, surmounted by another cornice, making in
all four cornices; an arrangement we had not previously met with.

While Mr. Catherwood was making his drawing, the Indians stood around
under the shade of the trees, looking at him quietly and respectfully,
and making observations to each other. They were a fine-looking race.
Some of them, one tall old man particularly, had noble Roman faces, and
they seemed to have more respectability of appearance and character
than was consistent with the condition of men not wearing pantaloons.
AH at once an enormous iguana, or lizard, doubled the corner of the
building, ran along the front, and plunged into a crevice over the
door, burying his whole body, but leaving the long tail out. Among
these unsophisticated people this reptile is a table delicacy, and here
was a supper provided for some of them. Machetes flew out, and, cutting
down a sapling with a crotch in it, they rested it against the wall,
and, standing in the crotch, pulled upon the tail; but the animal held
on with his feet as if a part of the building. All the Indians, one
after the other, had a pull at the tail, but could not make him budge.
At length two of them contrived to get hold together, and, while
pulling with all their strength, the tail came off by the roots, a foot
and a half long in their hands. The animal was now more out of their
reach than before, his whole body being hidden in the wall; but he
could not escape. The Indians picked away the mortar with their
machetes, and enlarged the hole until they got his hind legs clear,
when, griping the body above the legs, they again hauled; but, though
he had only the fore legs to hold on with, they could not tear him out.
They then untied the ropes of their sandals, and, fastening them above
the hind legs, and pulling till the long body seemed parting like the
tail, they at length dragged him out. They secured him by a gripe under
the fore part of the body, cracked his spine, and broke the bones of
his fore legs so that he could not run; pried his jaws open, fastened
them apart with a sharp stick so that he could not bite, and then put
him away in the shade. This refined cruelty was to avoid the necessity
of killing him immediately, for if killed, in that hot climate he would
soon be unfit for food; but, mutilated and mangled as he was, he could
be kept alive till night.

[Engraving 9: Building at Sabachshé]

This over, we moved on in a body, carrying the iguana, to the next
building, which was situated in a different direction, about a quarter
of a mile distant, and completely buried in woods. It was seventy-five
feet long, and had three doorways, leading to the same number of
apartments. A great part of the front had fallen; the plate opposite
represents that which remains. With some slight difference in the
detail of ornament, the character is the same as in all the other
buildings, and the general effect pleasing. Growing on the roof are two
maguey plants, Agave Americana, in our latitude called the century
plant, but under the hot sun of the tropics blooming every four or five
years. There are four species of this plant in Yucatan: the maguey,
from which is produced the pulqué, a beverage common in all the Mexican
provinces, which, taken in excess, produces intoxication; the henneken,
which produces the article known in our markets as Sisal hemp; the
sabila, with which the Indian women wean children, covering the breast
with the leaf, which is very bitter to the taste; and the peta, having
leaves twice as large as the last, from which a very fine white hemp is
made. These plants, in some or all of their varieties, were found in
the neighbourhood of all the ruins, forming around them a pointed and
thorny wall, which we were obliged to cut through to reach the

While Mr. C. was engaged in drawing this structure, the Indians told us
of two others half a league distant. I selected two of them for guides,
and, with the same alacrity which they had shown in everything else,
nine volunteered to accompany me. We had a good path nearly all the
way, until the Indians pointed out a white object seen indistinctly
through the trees, again uttering, with strong gutturals, the familiar
sound of "Xlap-pahk," or old walls. In a few minutes they cut a path to
it. The building was larger than the last, having the front ornamented
in the same way, much fallen, though still presenting an interesting
spectacle. As it was not much overgrown, we set to work and cleared it,
and left it for another, in regard to which I formed some curious
expectations, for the Indians described it as _very new_. It lay on the
same path, to the left in returning to the rancho, and separated from
us by a great field of táje, through which we were obliged to cut a
path for several hundred yards to the foot of the terrace. The walls
were entire and very massive; but climbing up it, I found only a small
building, consisting of but two apartments, the front much fallen, and
the doors filled up, but no sign or token distinguishing it as _newer_
or more modern; and I now learned, what I might have done before by a
little asking, that all they meant by their description of it was, that
it was the newest known to them, having been discovered but twelve
years before, accidentally, on clearing the ground for a milpa, until
which time it was as much unknown to them as to the rest of the world.
This intelligence gave great weight to the consideration which had
often suggested itself before, that cities may exist equal to any now
known, buried in the woods, overgrown and lost, which will perhaps
never be discovered.

On the walls of this desolate edifice were prints of the "mano
colorado," or red hand. Often as I saw this print, it never failed to
interest me. It was the stamp of the living hand; it always brought me
nearer to the builders of these cities, and at times, amid stillness,
desolation, and ruin, it seemed as if from behind the curtain that
concealed them from view was extended the hand of greeting. These
prints were larger than any I had seen. In several places I measured
them with my own, opening the fingers to correspond with those on the
wall. The Indians said it was the hand of the master of the building.

The mysterious interest which, in my eyes, always attached to this red
hand, has assumed a more definite shape. I have been advised that in
Mr. Catlin's collection of Indian curiosities, made during a long
residence among our North American tribes, was a tent presented to him
by the chief of the powerful but now extinct race of Mandans, which
exhibits, among other marks, two prints of the red hand; and I have
been farther advised that the red hand is seen constantly upon the
buffalo robes and skins of wild animals brought in by the hunters on
the Rocky Mountains, and, in fact, that it is a symbol recognised and
in common use by the North American Indians of the present day. I do
not mention these as facts within my own knowledge, but with the hope
of attracting the attention of those who have opportunities and
facilities for investigation; and I suggest the interesting
consideration that, if true, the red hand on the tent and the buffalo
robes points back from the wandering tribes in our country to the
comparatively polished people who erected the great cities at the
south; and if true that it is at this day used as a sign or symbol by
our North American Indians, its meaning can be ascertained from living
witnesses, and through ages of intervening darkness a ray of light may
be thrown back upon the now mysterious and incomprehensible characters
which perplex the stranger on the wall of the desolate southern

On my return to the rancho I learned the cause of the extraordinary
attention shown us, which, though we had received it as a matter of
course, and no more than what, for some unknown reasons, was justly due
to us, had, nevertheless, somewhat surprised us. Our movements in that
neighbourhood were matters of some notoriety. Albino's preliminary
visit and our intentions had reached the ears of the señora, and the
evening before our arrival orders from her had arrived at the rancho
for all the Indians to put themselves at our command; and this delicate
manner of doing us a service is one of the many acts of kindness I have
to acknowledge to the citizens of Yucatan. The old alcalde again waited
till he became sleepy, when he asked permission to go to his hut, and
four or five Indians again hung up their hammocks under the arbour.

                              CHAPTER III.

Ruins of Labnà.--Accounts of the Indians not to be relied
on.--Irretrievable Ruin.--Extraordinary
Structure.--Doorways.--Chambers.--Gigantic Wall, covered with Designs
in Stucco.--Death's Heads.--Human Figures in Alto Relievo.--Colossal
Figure seated.--Large Ball and Figures.--Dilapidated State of this
Structure.--An arched Gateway.--Other Buildings.--Richly ornamented
Doorway.--Courtyard.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Large
Building.--Magnificent Edifice.--Façade ornamented with sculptured
Stone.--Circular Hole leading to a subterranean Chamber.--The Ramon
Tree.--A Cave.--Conversation with the Indians.--A Ride to the
Hacienda of Tabi.--Sculptured Ornament.--Other Figures.--Visit
to a Cave.--Tree-encumbered Path.--A Vaquero.--Descent into the
Cave.--Fanciful Scene.--Return to the Rancho.--A Warm Bath.

The next morning we set out for the ruins of Labnà. Our road lay
southeast, among hills, and was more picturesque than any we had seen
in the country. At the distance of a mile and a half we reached a field
of ruins, which, after all we had seen, created in us new feelings of
astonishment. It was one of the circumstances attending our exploration
of ruins in this country, that until we arrived on the ground we had no
idea of what we were to meet with. The accounts of the Indians were
never reliable. When they gave us reason to expect much we found but
little, and, on the other hand, when we expected but little a great
field presented itself. Of this place even our friend the cura Carillo
had never heard. Our first intelligence of ruins in this region was
from the brother of the padrecito at Nohcacab, who, however, had never
seen them himself. Since our arrival in the country we had not met with
anything that excited us more strongly, and now we had mingled feelings
of pain and pleasure; of pain, that they had not been discovered before
the sentence of irretrievable ruin had gone forth against them; at the
same time it was matter of deep congratulation that, before the doom
was accomplished, we were permitted to see these decaying, but still
proud memorials of a mysterious people. In a few years, even these will
be gone; and as it has been denied that such things ever were, doubts
may again arise whether they have indeed existed. So strong was this
impression that we determined to fortify in every possible way our
proofs. If anything could have added to the interest of discovering
such a new field of research, it was the satisfaction of having at our
command such an effective force of Indians. No time was lost, and they
began work with a spirit corresponding to their numbers. Many of them
had hachas, or small axes, and the crash of falling trees was like the
stirring noise of felling in one of our own forests.

[Engraving 10: Pyramidal Mound and Building at Labnà]

The plate opposite represents a pyramidal mound, holding aloft the most
curious and extraordinary structure we had seen in the country. It put
us on the alert the moment we saw it. We passed an entire day before
it, and, in looking back upon our journey among ruined cities, no
subject of greater interest presents itself to my mind. The mound is
forty-five feet high. The steps had fallen; trees were growing out of
the place where they stood, and we reached the top by clinging to the
branches; when these were cleared away, it was extremely difficult to
ascend and descend. The maguey plants cut down in making the clearing
appear fallen on the steps.

A narrow platform forms the top of the mound. The building faces the
south, and when entire measured forty-three feet in front and twenty
feet in depth. It had three doorways, of which one, with eight feet of
the whole structure, has fallen, and is now in ruins. The centre
doorway opens into two chambers, each twenty feet long and six feet

Above the cornice of the building rises a gigantic perpendicular wall
to the height of thirty feet, once ornamented from top to bottom, and
from one side to the other, with colossal figures and other designs in
stucco, now broken and in fragments, but still presenting a curious and
extraordinary appearance, such as the art of no other people ever
produced. Along the top, standing out on the wall, was a row of death's
heads; underneath were two lines of human figures in alto relievo (of
which scattered arms and legs alone remain), the grouping of which, so
far as it could be made out, showed considerable proficiency in that
most difficult department of the art of design. Over the centre
doorway, constituting the principal ornament of the wall, was a
colossal figure seated, of which only a large tippet and girdle, and
some other detached portions, have been preserved. Conspicuous over the
head of this principal figure is a large ball, with a human figure
standing up beside it, touching it with his hands, and another below it
with one knee on the ground, and one hand thrown up as if in the effort
to support the ball, or in the apprehension of its falling upon him. In
all our labours in that country we never studied so diligently to make
out from the fragments the combinations and significance of these
figures and ornaments. Standing in the same position, and looking at
them all together, we could not agree.

Mr. Catherwood made two drawings at different hours and under a
different position of the sun, and Dr. Cabot and myself worked upon it
the whole day with the Daguerreotype. With the full blaze of a vertical
sun upon it, the white stone glared with an intensity dazzling and
painful to the eyes, and almost realizing the account by Bernal Dias in
the expedition to Mexico, of the arrival of the Spaniards at Cempoal.
"Our advanced guard having gone to the great square, the buildings of
which had been lately whitewashed and plastered, in which art these
people are very expert, one of our horsemen was so struck with the
splendour of their appearance in the sun, that he came back at full
speed to Cortez, to tell him that the walls of the houses were of

Our best view was obtained in the afternoon, when the edifice was in
shade, but so broken and confused were the ornaments that a distinct
representation could not be made even with the Daguerreotype, and the
only way to make out all the details was near approach by means of a
ladder; we had all the woods to make one of, but it was difficult for
the Indians to make one of the length required; and when made it would
have been too heavy and cumbersome to manage on the narrow platform in
front. Besides, the wall was tottering and ready to fall. One portion
was already gone in a perpendicular line from top to bottom, and the
reader will see in the engraving that on a line with the right of the
centre doorway the wall is cracked, and above is gaping, and stands
apart more than a foot all the way to the top. In a few years it must
fall. Its doom is sealed. Human power cannot save it; but in its ruins
it gave a grand idea of the scenes of barbaric magnificence which this
country must have presented when all her cities were entire. The
figures and ornaments on this wall were painted; the remains of bright
colours are still visible, defying the action of the elements. If a
solitary traveller from the Old World could by some strange accident
have visited this aboriginal city when it was yet perfect, his account
would have seemed more fanciful than any in Eastern story, and been
considered a subject for the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.

[Engraving 11: Arched Gateway]

At the distance of a few hundred feet from this structure, in sight at
the same time as we approached it, is an arched gateway, remarkable for
its beauty of proportions and grace of ornament The plate opposite
represents this gateway. On the right, running off at an angle of
thirty degrees, is a long building much fallen, which could not be
comprehended in the view. On the left it forms an angle with another
building, and on the return of the wall there is a doorway, not shown
in the engraving, of good proportions, and more richly ornamented than
any other portion of the structure. The effect of the whole combination
was curious and striking, and, familiar as we were with ruins, the
first view, with the great wall towering in front, created an
impression that is not easily described.

[Engraving 12: Interior Front of Gateway]

The gateway is ten feet wide, passing through which we entered a thick
forest, growing so close upon the building that we were unable to make
out even its shape; but, on clearing away the trees, we discovered that
this had been the principal front, and that these trees were growing in
what had once been the area, or courtyard. The doors of the apartments
on both sides of the gateway, each twelve feet by eight, opened upon
this area. Over each doorway was a square recess, in which were the
remains of a rich ornament in stucco, with marks of paint still
visible, apparently intended to represent the face of the sun
surrounded by its rays, probably once objects of adoration and worship,
but now wilfully destroyed. The plate opposite represents this front
The buildings around the area formed a great irregular pile, measuring
in all two hundred feet in length. The plan was different from that of
any we had seen, but, having so many subjects to present, I have not
had it engraved.

Northeast from the mound on which the great wall stands, and about one
hundred and fifty yards distant, is a large building, erected on a
terrace, and hidden among the trees growing thereupon, with its front
much ruined, and having but few remains of sculptured ornaments. Still
farther in the same direction, going through the woods, we reach the
grand, and, without extravagance, the really magnificent building
represented in the frontispiece to this volume. It stands on a gigantic
terrace, four hundred feet long and one hundred and fifty feet deep.
The whole terrace is covered with buildings. The front represented
measures two hundred and eighty-two feet in length. It consisted of
three distinct parts, differing in style, and perhaps erected at
different times. At a distance, as seen indistinctly through the trees,
we had no idea of its extent. We came upon it at the corner which
appears on the right in the engraving. Our guide cut a path along the
front wall, and stopping, as we did, to look at the ornaments, and
entering the apartments as we went along, the building seemed immense.

[Engraving 13: Portion of a Façade]

The whole long façade was ornamented with sculptured stone, of which,
large as the engraving is, the details cannot appear; but, to give some
idea of their character, a detached portion is represented up the
engraving opposite, and, I ought at the same time to remark, is perhaps
the most curious and interesting of any. It is at the left end of the
principal building, and in the angle of the corner are the huge open
jaws of an alligator, or some other hideous animal, enclosing a human

The reader will form some idea of the overgrown and shrouded condition
of this building from the fact that I had been at work nearly the whole
day upon the terrace, without knowing that there was another building
on the top. In order to take in the whole front at one view, it was
necessary to carry the clearing back some distance into the plain, and
in doing this I discovered the upper structure. The growth of trees
before it was almost equal to that on the terrace, or in any part of
the forest. The whole had to be cleared, the trees thrown down upon the
terrace, and thence dragged away to the plain. This building consists
of single narrow corridors, and the façade is of plain stone, without
any ornaments.

The platform in front is the roof of the building underneath, and in
this platform was a circular hole, like those we had seen at Uxmal and
other places, leading to subterraneous chambers. This hole was well
known to the Indians, and had a marvellous reputation; and yet they
never mentioned it until I climbed up to examine the upper building.
They said it was the abode of el dueño de la casa, or the owner of the
building. I immediately proposed to descend, but the old Indian begged
me not to do so, and said apprehensively to the others, "Who knows but
that he will meet with the owner!" I immediately sent for rope,
lantern, and matches; and, absurd as it may seem, as I looked upon the
wild figures of the Indians standing round the hole, and their earnest
faces, it was really exciting to hear them talk of the owner. As there
was a difficulty in procuring rope, I had a sapling cut and let down
the hole, by means of which I descended with a lantern. The news of my
intention and of the preparations going on had spread among the
Indians, and all left off work and hurried to the spot. The hole was
about four feet deep, and, just as my head sunk below the surface, I
was startled by an extraordinary scratching and scampering, and a huge
iguana ran along the wall, and escaped through the orifice by which I
had entered.

The chamber was entirely different in shape from those I had seen
before. The latter were circular, and had dome-shaped ceilings. This
had parallel walls and the triangular-arched ceiling; in fact, it was
in shape exactly like the apartments above ground. It was eleven feet
long, seven wide, and ten high to the centre of the arch. The walls and
ceiling were plastered, and the floor was of cement, all hard and in a
good state of preservation. A centipede was the only tenant after the
evasion of the iguana.

While I was making these measurements, the Indians kept up a low
conversation around the hole. A mystery hung around it, transmitted to
them by their fathers, and connected with an indefinable sense of
apprehension. This mystery might have been solved at any time in five
minutes, but none of them had ever thought of doing it, and the old man
begged me to come out, saying that if I died they would have to answer
for it. Their simplicity and credulity seem hardly credible. They had
all sense enough to take their hands out of the fire without being
told, but probably to this day they believe that in that hole is the
owner of the building. When I came out they looked at me with
admiration. They told me that there were other places of the same kind,
but they would not show them to me, lest some accident should happen;
and as my attempt drew them all from work, and I could not promise
myself any satisfactory result, I refrained from insisting.

This chamber was formed in the roof of the lower building. That
building contained two corridors, and we had always supposed that the
great interval between the arches of the parallel corridors was a solid
mass of masonry. The discovery of this chamber brought to light a new
feature in the construction of these buildings. Whether the other
roofs, or any of them, contained chambers, it is impossible to say. Not
suspecting anything of the kind, we had made no search for them, and
they may exist, but with the holes covered up and hidden by the growth
and decay of vegetation. Heretofore I had inclined to the opinion that
the subterraneous chambers I had met with were intended for cisterns or
reservoirs of water. The position of this in the roof of a building
seemed adverse to such an idea, as, in case of a breach, the water
might find its way into the apartment below.

At the foot of the terrace was a tree, hiding part of the building.
Though holding trees in some degree of reverence, around these ruined
cities it was a great satisfaction to hear them fall. This one was a
noble ramon, which I had ordered to be cut down, and being engaged in
another direction, I returned, and found that the Indians had not done
so, and they said it was so hard that it would break their axes. These
little axes seemed hardly capable of making any impression upon the
trunk, and I gave them directions, perhaps still more barbarous to cut
away the branches and leave the trunk. They hesitated, and one of them
said, in a deprecating tone, that this tree served as food for horses
and cattle, and their mistress had always charged them not to cut down
such. The poor fellow seemed perplexed between the standing orders of
the rancho and the special instructions to do what I required.

The ramon tree was growing out of the mouth of a cave, which the
Indians said was an ancient well. I should perhaps not have observed
it, but for the discussion about cutting down the tree. I had no great
disposition for another subterraneous scramble, but descended the
cavity or opening for the purpose of taking a bird's-eye view of the
mouth. On one side was a great ledge of stone projecting as a roof, and
under this was a passage in the rock, choked up by masses of fallen
stone. It was impossible to continue if I had been so disposed, but
there was every reason to believe that formerly there had been some
wild passage through the rocks as at Xcoch and Chack, which led to a
subterraneous deposite of water, and that this had been one of the
sources from which the ancient inhabitants procured their supply.

From the number of Indians at our command, and their alacrity in
working, we had been enabled to accomplish much in a very short time.
In three days they finished all that I required of them. When I
dismissed them, I gave a half dollar extra to be divided among
seventeen, and as I was going away Bernabé exclaimed, "Ave Maria, que
gracias dan a vd." "Ave Maria, what thanks they give you."

The evening closed with a general gathering of the Indians under the
arbour in front of the casa real. Before setting out in the morning the
alcalde asked me whether I wished them to assemble for the purpose of
talking with them, and we had provided for their entertainment a sheep
and a turkey, to which Bernaldo had devoted the day. At sundown all was
ready. We insisted upon seating the old alcalde on a chair. Bernaldo
served out meat and tortillas, and the alcalde presided over the agua
ardiente, which, as it was purchased of himself, and to prove that it
was not bad, he tasted before serving the rest, and took his share
afterward. Supper over, we began our conversation, which consisted
entirely of questions on our part and answers on theirs, a manner of
discourse even in civilized life difficult to be kept up long. There
was no unwillingness to give information, but there was a want of
communicativeness which made all intercourse with them unprofitable and
unsatisfactory. In fact, however, they had nothing to communicate; they
had no stories or traditions; they knew nothing of the origin of the
ruined buildings; these were standing when they were born; had existed
in the time of their fathers; and the old men said that they had fallen
much within their own memory. In one point, however, they differed from
the Indians of Uxmal and Zayi. They had no superstitious feelings with
regard to the ruins, were not afraid to go to them at night, or to
sleep in them; and when we told them of the music that was heard
sounding among the old buildings of Zayi, they said that if it were
heard among these, they would all go and dance to it.

There were other vestiges and mounds, all, however, in a ruinous
condition. The last day, while Mr. Catherwood was finishing at Labnà, I
rode with Bernaldo to the hacienda of Tabi, two leagues distant, which,
and those of Xcanchakan, already presented in these pages, and Vayalke,
belonging to the Señora Joaquina Peon, where we stopped on our first
visit to Uxmal, were distinguished as the three finest in Yucatan.
Before the gate were some noble seybo trees, and near it a tiendicita,
or small shop, supplied with articles adapted to the wants of the
Indians appertaining to the hacienda. The great yard was lined with
buildings, among which were the church and an enclosure for a
bullfight, prepared for a festival which was to commence the next day.
In the wall of the hacienda were sculptured ornaments from the ruins of
ancient buildings. At the foot of the steps was a double-headed eagle,
well carved, holding in his claws a sort of sceptre, and underneath
were the figures of two tigers four feet high. In the back of the house
was a projecting stone figure, with its mouth open, an uncomfortable
expression of face, arms akimbo, and hands pressing the sides, as if in
a qualmish state. It was used as a water-spout, and a stream was
pouring out of the mouth. The buildings from which these stones were
taken were near the hacienda, but were mere piles of ruins. They had
furnished materials for the construction of the church, walls, and all
the edifices on the hacienda.

Besides this there was a great cave, of which I had heard in Merida
from the owner, who said he had never visited it, but wished me to do
so, and he would read my description of it. The major domo was an
intelligent Mestizo, who had been at the cave, and confirmed all the
accounts I had heard of it, of sculptured figures of men and animals,
pillars, and a chapel of rock under the earth. He furnished me with a
vaquero as a guide and a relief horse, and, setting out, a short
distance from the hacienda we turned into a tree-encumbered path, so
difficult to pass through that, before we had gone far, it seemed quite
reasonable in the owner to content himself with reading our description
of this cave, without taking the trouble to see it for himself. The
vaquero was encased in the equipments with which that class ride into
the woods after cattle. His dress was a small, hard, heavy straw hat,
cotton shirt, drawers, and sandals; over his body a thick jacket, or
overall, made of tanned cowhide, with the sleeves reaching below his
hands, and standing out as if made of wood; his saddle had large
leather flaps, which folded back and protected his naked legs, and
leather stirrup flaps to protect his feet. Where he dashed through the
bushes and briers unharmed, my thin blues got caught and torn; but he
knew what garrapatas were, and said with emphasis, "Estos chicos son
muy Demonios." "Those little ones are the very d----l." At the distance
of a league we reached the cave and, tying our hones, descended by a
great chasm to the depth of perhaps two hundred feet, when we found
ourselves under a great shelf of overhanging rock, the cavern being
dark as we advanced, but all at once lighted up from beyond by a
perpendicular orifice, and exhibiting in the background magnificent
stalactites, picturesque blocks and fragments of rock, which, in the
shadows of the background, assumed all manner of fantastic shapes, and,
from their fancied resemblance, had been called the figures of men and
animals, pillars and chapels. I saw at once that there was another
disappointment for me; there were no monuments of art, and had never
been anything artificial; but the cave itself, being large and open,
and lighted in several places by orifices above, was so magnificent
that, notwithstanding the labour and disappointment, I did not regret
my visit. I passed two hours in wandering through it, returned to the
hacienda to dine, and it was after dark when I reached the rancho, and
for the last time had the benefit of its well in the shape of a warm
bath. Throughout Yucatan, every Indian, however poor, has, as part of
the furniture of his hut, a baño, or sort of bathing-tub; and, next to
making tortillas, the great use of a wife is to have warm water ready
for him when he returns from his work. We had not the latter
convenience, but at this place, for a medio, we had the alcalde's baño
every evening. It was a wooden dug-out, flat bottomed, about three feet
long, eighteen inches wide, three or four inches deep, and bathing in
it was somewhat like bathing in the salver of a tea-table, but, covered
as we were constantly with garrapata bites, mere ablution was as
grateful as a Turkish or Egyptian bath.

                              CHAPTER IV.

Search for Ruined Cities continued.--Journey to the Rancho of
Kewick.--Ruined Building.--Lose the Road.--Set right by an
Indian.--Arrival at Kewick.--The Casa Real.--Visit from the Proprietor
of the Rancho, a full-blooded Indian.--His Character.--Visit to
the Ruins.--Garrapatas.--Old Walls.--Façades.--Imposing Scene of
Ruins.--Principal Doorway.--Apartments.--Curious Painting.--Excavating
a Stone.--A long Building.--Other Ruins.--Continued Scarcity of
Water.--Visit to a Cave, called by the Indians Actum.--A wild
Scene.--An Aguada.--Return to the Casa Real.--A Crisis in Money
Matters.--Journey to Xul.--Entry into the Village.--The
Convent.--Reception.--The Cura of Xul.--His Character.--Mingling of Old
Things with New.--The Church.--A Levée.--A Welcome Arrival.

The next morning we resumed our journey in search of ruined cities. Our
next point of destination was the rancho of Kewick, three leagues
distant. Mr. Catherwood set out with the servants and luggage, Dr.
Cabot and myself following in about an hour. The Indians told us there
was no difficulty in finding the road, and we set out alone. About a
mile from the rancho we passed a ruined building on the left,
surmounted by a high wall, with oblong apertures, like that mentioned
at Zayi as resembling a New-England factory. The face of the country
was rolling, and more open than any we had seen. We passed through two
Indian ranchos, and a league beyond came to a dividing point, where we
found ourselves at a loss. Both were mere Indian footpaths, seldom or
never traversed by horsemen, and, having but one chance against us, we
selected that most directly in line with the one by which we had come.
In about an hour the direction changed so much that we turned back,
and, after a toilsome ride, reached again the dividing point, and
turned into the other path. This led us into a wild savanna surrounded
by hills, and very soon we found tracks leading off in different
directions, among which, in a short time, we became perfectly
bewildered. The whole distance to Kewick was but three leagues; we had
been riding hard six hours, and began to fear that we had made a
mistake in turning back, and at every step were going more astray. In
the midst of our perplexities we came upon an Indian leading a wild
colt, who, without asking any questions, or waiting for any from us,
waved us back, and tying his colt to a bush, led us across the plain
into another path, following which some distance, he again struck
across, and put us into still another, where he left us, and started to
return to his colt. We were loth to lose him, and urged him to continue
as our guide; but he was impenetrable until we held up a medio, when he
again moved on before us. The whole region was so wild that even yet we
had doubts, and hardly believed that such a path could lead to a
village or rancho; but, withal, there was one interesting circumstance.
In our desolate and wandering path we had seen in different places, at
a distance, and inaccessible, five high mounds, holding aloft the ruins
of ancient buildings; and doubtless there were more buried in the
woods. At three o'clock we entered a dense forest, and came suddenly
upon the casa real of Kewick, standing alone, almost buried among
trees, the only habitation of any kind in sight; and, to increase the
wondering interest which attended every step of our journey in that
country, it stood on the platform of an ancient terrace, strewed with
the relics of a ruined edifice. The steps of the terrace had fallen and
been newly laid, but the walls were entire, with all the stones in
place. Conspicuous in view was Mr. Catherwood with our servants and
luggage, and, as we rode up, it seemed a strange confusion of things
past and present, of scenes consecrated by time and those of every-day
life, though Mr. Catherwood dispelled the floating visions by his first
greeting, which was an assurance that the casa real was full of fleas.
We tied our horses at the foot of the terrace, and ascended the steps.
The casa real had mud walls and a thatched roof, and in front was an
arbour. Sitting down under the arbour, with our hotel on this ancient
platform, we had seldom experienced higher satisfaction on reaching a
new and unknown field of ruins, though perhaps this was owing somewhat
to the circumstance of finding ourselves, after a hot and perplexing
ride, safely arrived at our place of destination. We had still two
hours of daylight; and, anxious to have a glimpse of the ruins before
night, we had some fried eggs and tortillas got ready, and while making
a hasty meal, the proprietor of the rancho, attended by a party of
Indians, came to pay us a visit.

[Engraving 14: Casa Real of Kewick]

This proprietor was a full-blooded Indian, the first of this ancient
but degraded race whom we had seen in the position of land-owner and
master. He was about forty-five years old, and highly respectable in
his appearance and manners. He had inherited the land from his fathers,
did not know how long it had been transmitted, but believed that it had
always been in his family. The Indians on the rancho were his servants,
and we had not seen in any village or on any hacienda men of better
appearance, or under more excellent discipline. This produced on my
mind a strong impression that, indolent, ignorant, and debased as the
race is under the dominion of strangers, the Indian even now is not
incapable of fulfilling the obligations of a higher station than that
in which his destiny has placed him. It is not true that he is fit only
to labour with his hands; he has within him that which is capable of
directing the labour of others; and as this Indian master sat on the
terrace, with his dependants crouching round him, I could imagine him
the descendant of a long line of caciques who once reigned in the city,
the ruins of which were his inheritance. Involuntarily we treated him
with a respect we had never shown to an Indian before; but perhaps we
were not free from the influence of feelings which govern in civilized
life, and our respect may have proceeded from the discovery that our
new acquaintance was a man of property, possessed not merely of acres,
and Indians, and unproductive real estate, but also of that great
desideratum in these trying times, ready money; for we had given Albino
a dollar to purchase eggs with, who objected to it as too large a coin
to be available on the rancho, but on his return informed us, with an
expression of surprise, that the master had changed it the moment it
was offered to him.

Our hasty dinner over, we asked for Indians to guide us to the ruins,
and were somewhat startled by the objections they all made on account
of the garrapatas. Since we left Uxmal the greatest of our small
hardships had been the annoyance of these insects; in fact, it was by
no means a small hardship. Frequently we came in contact with a bush
covered with them, from which thousands swarmed upon us, like moving
grains of sand, and scattered till the body itself seemed crawling. Our
horses suffered, perhaps, more than ourselves, and it became a habit,
whenever we dismounted, to rasp their sides with a rough stick. During
the dry season the little pests are killed off by the heat of the sun,
and devoured by birds, but for which I verily believe they would make
the country uninhabitable. All along we had been told that the dry
season was at hand, and they would soon be over; but we began to
despair of any dry season, and had no hopes of getting rid of them.
Nevertheless, we were somewhat startled at the warning conveyed by the
reluctance of the Indians; and when we insisted upon going, they gave
us another alarming intimation by cutting twigs, with which, from the
moment of starting, they whipped the bushes on each side, and swept the
path before them.

Beyond the woods we came out into a comparatively open field, in which
we saw on all sides through the trees the Xlap-pahk, or old walls, now
grown so familiar, a collection of vast remains and of many buildings.
We worked our way to all within sight. The façades were not so much
ornamented as some we had seen, but the stones were more massive, and
the style of architecture was simple, severe, and grand. Nearly every
house had fallen, and one long ornamented front lay on the ground
cracked and doubled up as if shaken off by the vibrations of an
earthquake, and still struggling to retain its upright position, the
whole presenting a most picturesque and imposing scene of ruins, and
conveying to the mind a strong image of the besom of destruction
sweeping over a city. Night came upon us while gazing at a mysterious
painting, and we returned to the casa real to sleep.

Early the next morning we were again on the ground, with our Indian
proprietor and a large party of his criados; and as the reader is now
somewhat familiar with the general character of these ruins, I select
from the great mass around only such as have some peculiarity.

[Engraving 15: Doorway at Kewick]

The first is that represented in the plate opposite. It had been the
principal doorway, and was all that now remained of a long line of
front, which lay in ruins on the ground. It is remarkable for its
simplicity, and, in that style of architecture, for its grandeur of

The apartment into which this door opened had nothing to distinguish it
from hundreds of others we had seen, but in the corner one was the
mysterious painting at which we were gazing the evening before, when
night overtook us. The end wall had fallen inward; the others remained.
The ceiling, as in all the other buildings, was formed by two sides
rising to meet each other, and covered within a foot of the point of
junction by a flat layer of stones. In all the other arches, without a
single exception, the layer was perfectly plain; but this had a single
stone distinguished by a painting, which covered the whole surface
presented to view. The painting itself was curious; the colours were
bright, red and green predominating; the lines clear and distinct, and
the whole was more perfect than any painting we had seen. But its
position surprised us more than the painting itself; it was in the most
out-of-the-way spot in the whole edifice, and but for the Indians we
might not have noticed it at all. Why this layer of stones was so
adorned, or why this particular stone was distinguished above all
others in the same layer, we were unable to discover, but we considered
that it was not done capriciously nor without cause; in fact, we had
long been of opinion that every stone in those ancient buildings; and
every design and ornament that decorated them, had some certain though
now inscrutable meaning.

[Engraving 16: Curious Painting]

The following engraving represents this painting. It exhibits a rude
human figure, surrounded by hieroglyphics, which doubtless contain the
whole of its story. It is 30 inches long by 18 inches wide, and the
prevailing colour is red. From its position in the wall, it was
impossible to draw it without getting it out and lowering it to the
ground, which I was anxious to accomplish, not only for the sake of the
drawing, but for the purpose of carrying it away. I had apprehensions
that the proprietor would make objections, for both he and the Indians
had pointed it out as the most curious part of the ruins; but,
fortunately, they had no feeling about it, and were all ready to assist
in any way we directed. The only way of getting at it was by digging
down through the roof; and, as usual, a friendly tree was at hand to
assist us in the ascent. The roof was flat, made of stone and mortar
cemented together, and several feet in thickness. The Indians had no
crowbar, but loosening the mortar with their machetes, and prying apart
the stones by means of hard wood saplings with the points sharpened,
they excavated down to the layer on the top of the arch. The stone
lapped over about a foot on each side, and was so heavy that it was
impossible to hoist it out of the hole; our only way, therefore, was to
lower it down into the apartment. The master sent some Indians to the
rancho to search for ropes, and, as a measure of precaution, I had
branches cut, and made a bed several feet thick under the stone. Some
of the Indians still at work were preparing to let it fall, when Dr.
Cabot, who was fortunately on the roof at the time, put a stop to their

The Indians returned with the rope, and while lowering the stone one of
the strands broke, and it came thundering down, but the bed of branches
saved the painting from destruction.

The proprietor made no objections to my carrying it away, but it was
too heavy for a mule-load, and the Indians would not undertake to carry
it on their shoulders. The only way of removing it was to have it cut
down to a portable size; and when we left, the proprietor accompanied
me to the village to procure a stonecutter for that purpose, but there
was none in the village, nor any chance of one within twenty-seven
miles. Unable to do anything with the stone, I engaged the proprietor
to place it in an apartment sheltered from rain; and, if I do not
mistake the character of my Indian friend and inheritor of a ruined
city, it now lies subject to my order; and I hereby authorise the next
American traveller to bring it away at his own expense, and deposite it
in the National Museum at Washington.

[Engraving 17: Front of a Building]

I shall present but one more view from the ruins of Kewick. It is part
of the front of a long building, forming a right angle with the one
last referred to. The terraces almost join, and though all was so
overgrown that it was difficult to make out the plan and juxtaposition,
the probability is that they formed two sides of a grand rectangular
area. The whole building measures two hundred and thirty feet in
length. In the centre is a wide ruined staircase leading to the top.
The plate opposite represents half of the building to the line of the
staircase, the other half being exactly similar. The whole could not be
drawn without carrying back the clearing to some distance, and
consuming more time than we thought worth while to devote to it. Below
the cornice the entire edifice is plain; and above it is ornamented the
whole length with small circular shafts set in the wall.

The remaining ruins of Kewick we left as we found them. Fallen
buildings and fragments of sculptured stone strew the ground in every
direction; but it is impossible to give the reader an idea of the
impression produced by wandering among them. For a brief space only we
broke the stillness of the desolate city, and left it again to solitude
and silence. We had reason to believe that no white man had ever seen
it, and probably but few will ever do so, for every year is hurrying it
on to more utter destruction.

The same scarcity of water which we had found all over this region,
except at Sabachshé, exists here also. The source which supplied the
ancient city had engaged the attention of its Indian proprietor, and
while Mr. Catherwood was drawing the last building, the Indians
conducted us to a cave, called in their language Actum, which they
supposed was an ancient well. The entrance was by a hole under an
overhanging rock, passing through which by means of a tree, with
branches or crotches to serve as steps, we descended to a large
platform of rock. Overhead was an immense rocky roof, and at the brink
of the platform was a great cavern, with precipitous sides, thirty or
forty feet deep, from which the Indians supposed some passage opened
that would lead to water. As we flared our torches over the chasm, it
presented a scene of wildness and grandeur which, in an hour of
idleness, might have tempted us to explore it; but we had more than
enough to occupy our time.

Coming out from the cave, we went on to the aguada, which was nearly a
league distant. It was a small, muddy pond, with trees growing on the
sides and into the water, which, in any other country, would be
considered an unfit watering-place for beasts. The proprietor and all
the Indians told us that in the dry season the remains of stone
embankments were still visible, made, as they supposed, by the ancient
inhabitants. The bank was knee deep with mud; a few poles were laid out
on supporters driven into the mud, and along these the Indians walked
to dip up water. At the time our horses were brought down to drink; but
they had to be watered out of the calabashes or drinking-cups of the

At two o'clock, we returned to the casa real. We had "done up" another
ruined city, and were ready to set out again; but we had one serious
impediment in the way. I have mentioned that on our arrival at this
place we gave Albino a dollar, but I omitted to say that it was our
last. On setting out on this journey, we had reduced our personal
luggage to hammocks and petaquillas, the latter being oblong straw
baskets without fastenings, unsafe to carry money in, and silver, the
only available coin, was too heavy to carry about the person. At
Sabachshé we discovered that our expenses had overrun our estimates,
and sent Albino back to Nohcacab with the keys of our money trunk, and
directions to follow us in all haste to this place. The time calculated
for his overtaking us had passed, and he did not come. We should have
thought nothing of a little delay but for our pressing necessities.
Some accident might have happened to him, or the temptation might have
been too strong. Our affairs were approaching a crisis, and the
barbarism of the people of the country in matters of finance was
hurrying it on. If we wanted a fowl, food for horses, or an Indian to
work, the money must be ready at the moment. Throughout our journey it
was the same; every order for the purchase of an article was null
unless the money accompanied it. Brought up under the wings of credit,
this system was always odious to us. We could attempt nothing on a
liberal and enlightened scale, were always obliged to calculate our
means, and could incur no expense unless we had the money to defray it
on the spot. This, of course, trammelled enterprise, and now, on a mere
miscalculation, we were brought suddenly to a stand still. On counting
the scattering medios of private stock, we found that we had enough to
pay for transporting our luggage to the village of Xul, but if we
tarried over the night and Albino did not come, both ourselves and our
horses must go without rations in the morning, and then we should have
no means of getting away our luggage. Which of the two to choose?
Whether it was better to meet our fate at the rancho, or go on to the
village and trust to fortune?

In this delicate posture of affairs, we sat down to one of Bernaldo's
best miscellaneous preparations of fowls, rice, and frigoles, and
finished the last meal that we were able to pay for. This over, we had
recourse to a small paper of Havana cigars, three in number, containing
the last of our stock, reserved for some extraordinary occasion.
Satisfied that no occasion could offer when we should be more in need
of extraneous support, we lighted them and sat down under the arbour,
and, as the smoke rolled away, listened for the tread of the trotter.
It was really perplexing to know what to do; but it was very certain
that if we remained at the rancho, as soon as a medio was not
forthcoming the moment it was wanted we were undone. Our chance would
be better at the village, and we determined to break up and go on.

Leaving special charge for Albino to follow, at three o'clock we set
out. The proprietor accompanied us, and at half past five we made a
dashing entry into the village of Xul, with horses, and servants, and
carriers, and just one solitary medio left.

The casa real was the poorest we had seen in the country, and, under
any circumstances, it was not the place for us, for, immediately on
dismounting, it would be necessary to order ramon and maize for the
horses, and the money must follow the order. There was a crowd of
gaping loungers around the door, and if we stopped at this place we
should be obliged to expose ourselves at once, without any opportunity
of telling our story to advantage, or of making friends.

On the opposite side of the plaza was one of those buildings which had
so often sheltered us in time of trouble, but now I hesitated to
approach the convent. The fame of the cura of Xul had reached our ears;
report said that he was rich, and a moneymaking man, and odd. Among his
other possessions, he was lord of a ruined city which we proposed to
visit, particularly interesting to us from the circumstance that,
according to the accounts, it was then inhabited by Indians. We wished
to procure from him facilities for exploring this city to advantage,
and doubted whether it would be any recommendation to his favour as a
rich man to begin our acquaintance by borrowing money of him.

But, although rich, he was a padre. Without dismounting, I rode over to
the convent. The padre came out to meet me, and told me that he had
been expecting us every day. I dismounted, and he took my horse by the
bridle, led him across the corridor, through the sala, and out to the
yard. He asked why my companions did not come over, and, at a signal in
a few minutes their horses followed mine through the sala.

Still we were not entirely at ease. In Yucatan, as in Central America,
it is the custom for a traveller, whether he alights at the casa real,
convent, or the hacienda of a friend, to buy ramon and maize for his
horses; and it is no lack of hospitality in the host, after providing a
place for the beasts, to pay no more attention to them. This might have
brought on a premature explanation; but presently four Indians
appeared, each with a great back-load of ramon. We ventured to give a
hint about maize, and in a moment all anxiety about our horses was at
an end, and we had the whole evening to manage for ourselves.

Don Jose Gulielmo Roderigues, the cura of Xul, was a Guachapino, or
native of Old Spain, of which, like all the old Spaniards in the
country, he was somewhat proud. He was educated a Franciscan friar; but
thirty years before, on account of the revolutions and the persecution
of his order, he fled from Spain, and took refuge in Yucatan. On the
destruction of the Franciscan Convent in Merida, and the breaking up of
the Franciscan monks, he secularized, and entered the regular church;
had been cura of Ticul and Nohcacab; and about ten years before had
been appointed to the district of Xul. His curacy was one of those
called beneficiaries; _i.e._, in consideration of building the church,
keeping it in repair, and performing the duties and services of a
priest, the capitation tax paid by the Indians, and the fees allowed
for baptism, marriages, masses, salves, and funeral services, after
deducting one seventh for the Church, belonged to himself personally.
At the time of his appointment, the place now occupied by the village
was a mere Indian rancho. The land comprehended in his district was, in
general, good for maize, but, like all the rest of that region, it was
destitute of water, or, at least, but badly supplied. His first object
had been to remedy this deficiency, to which end he had dug a well two
hundred feet deep, at an expense of fifteen hundred dollars. Besides
this, he had large and substantial cisterns, equal to any we had seen
in the country, for the reception of rain-water; and, by furnishing
this necessary of life in abundance, he had drawn around him a
population of seven thousand.

But to us there was something more interesting than this creation of a
village and a population in the wilderness, for here, again, was the
same strange mingling of old things with new. The village stands on the
site of an aboriginal city. In the corner of the plaza now occupied by
the cura's house, the yard of which contains the well and cisterns,
once stood a pyramidal mound with a building upon it. The cura had
himself pulled down this mound, and levelled it so that nothing was
left to indicate even the place where it stood. With the materials he
had built the house and cisterns, and portions of the ancient edifice
now formed the walls of the new. With singular good taste, showing his
practical turn of mind, and at the same time a vein of antiquarian
feeling, he had fixed in conspicuous places, when they answered his
purpose, many of the old carved stones. The convent and church occupied
one side of the plaza; along the corridor of the former was a long seat
of time-polished stones taken from the ruins of an ancient building,
and in every quarter might be seen these memorials of the past,
connecting links between the living and the dead, and serving to keep
alive the memory of the fact, which, but for them, would in a few years
be forgotten, that on this spot once stood an ancient Indian city.

But the work upon which the padre prided himself most, and which
perhaps, did him most credit, was the church. It was one of the few the
erection of which had been undertaken of late years, when the time had
gone by for devoting the labour of a whole village to such works; and
it presents a combination of simplicity, convenience, and good taste,
in better keeping with the spirit of the age than the gigantic but
tottering structures in the other villages, while it is not less
attractive in the eyes of the Indians. The cura employed an amanuensis
to write out a description of the church, as he said, for me to publish
in my work, which, however, I am obliged to omit, mentioning only that
over the principal altar were sixteen columns from the ruins at the
_rancho_ of Nohcacab, which were the next we proposed to visit.

During the evening we had a levée of all the principal white
inhabitants, to the number of about six or eight. Among them was the
proprietor of the _rancho_ and ruins of Nohcacab, to whom we were
introduced by the cura, with a tribute to our antiquarian, scientific,
and medical attainments, which showed an appreciation of merit it was
seldom our good fortune to meet with. The proprietor could give us very
little information about the ruins, but undertook to make all the
necessary arrangements for our exploration of them, and to accompany us

At that moment we stood upon a giddy height. To ask the loan of a few
dollars might lower us materially. The evening was wearing away without
any opportunity of entering upon this interesting subject, when to our
great satisfaction, we heard the clattering of horses' hoofs, and
Albino made his appearance. The production of a bag of dollars fixed us
in our high position, and we were able to order Indians for the rancho
of Nohcacab the next day. We finished the evening with a warm bath in a
hand-basin, under the personal direction of the cura, which relieved
somewhat the burning of garrapata bites, and then retired to our

                               CHAPTER V.

Journey to the Rancho of Nohcacab.--A Fountain and Seybo Tree.--Arrival
at the Rancho.--Its Appearance.--A sick Trio.--Effects of a good
Breakfast.--Visit to the Ruins.--Terrace and Buildings.--Three other
Buildings.--Character of these Ruins.--Disappointment.--Return to
Xul.--Visit to another ruined City.--Ruined Building.--An Arch,
plastered and covered with Painted Figures.--Other
Paintings.--Subterranean Well.--Return to the Village.--Journey to
Ticul.--Large Mounds.--Passage of the Sierra.--Grand View.--Arrival at
Ticul.--A Village Festival.--Ball of the Mestizas.--Costumes.--Dance
of the Toros.--Lassoing Cattle.--Ball by Daylight.--The
Fiscales.--Ludicrous Scene.--A Dance.--Love in a Phrensy.--A unique
Breakfast.--Close of the Ball.

Early the next morning we set out for the rancho of Nohcacab, three
leagues distant. The proprietor had gone before daylight, to receive us
on the ground. We had not gone far when Mr. C. complained of a slight
headache, and wishing to ride moderately, Dr. Cabot and myself went on,
leaving him to follow with the luggage. The morning air was fresh and
invigorating, and the country rolling, hilly, and picturesque. At the
distance of two leagues we reached what was called a hebe, or fountain.
It was a large rocky basin, about ninety feet in circumference and ten
feet deep, which served as a receptacle for rain-water. In that dry
country it was a grateful spectacle, and beside it was a large seybo
tree, that seemed inviting the traveller to repose under its branches.
We watered our horses from the same waccal, or drinking cup, that we
used ourselves and felt strongly tempted to take a bath, but, with our
experience of fever and ague, were afraid to run the risk. This
fountain was a league from the rancho to which we were going, and was
the only watering-place for its inhabitants.

At nine o'clock we reached the rancho, which showed the truth of the
Spanish proverb, "La vista del amo engorda el caballo;" "The sight of
the master fattens the horse." The first huts were enclosed by a
well-built stone wall, along which appeared, in various places,
sculptured fragments from the ruins. Beyond was another wall, enclosing
the hut occupied by the master on his visits to the rancho, the
entrance to which was by a gateway formed of two sculptured monuments
of curious design and excellent workmanship, raising high our
expectations in regard to the ruins on this rancho, and sustaining the
accounts we had heard of them.

The proprietor was waiting to receive us, and, having taken possession
of an empty hut, and disposed of our horses, we accompanied him to look
over the rancho. What he regarded as most worth showing was his tobacco
crop, lying in some empty huts to dry, which he contemplated with great
satisfaction, and the well, which he looked at with as much sorrow. It
was three hundred and fifty-four feet deep, and even at this great
depth it was dry.

While we were thus engaged, our baggage carriers arrived with
intelligence that Mr. Catherwood was taken ill, and they had left him
lying in the road. I immediately applied to the proprietor for a coché
and Indians, and he, with great alacrity, undertook to get them ready;
in the mean time I saddled my horse and hastened back to Mr.
Catherwood, whom I found lying on the ground, with Albino by his side,
under the shade of the tree by the fountain, with an ague upon him,
wrapped up in all the coverings he could muster, even to the
saddle-cloths of the horses. While he was in this state, two men came
along, bestriding the same horse, and bringing sheets and ponchas to
make a covering for the coché; then came a straggling line of Indians,
each with a long pole, and withes to lash them together; and it was more
than an hour before the coché was ready. The path was narrow, and lined
on each side with thorn bushes, the spikes of which stuck in the naked
flesh of the Indians as they carried the coché, and they were obliged
to stop frequently and disentangle themselves. On reaching the rancho I
found Doctor Cabot down with a fever. From the excitement and anxiety
of following Mr. Catherwood under the hot sun, and now finding Doctor
Cabot down, a cold shivering crept over me, and in a few minutes we
were all three in our hammocks. A few hours had made a great change in
our condition; and we came near bringing our host down with us. He had
been employed in preparing breakfast upon a large scale, and seemed
mortified that there was no one to do it justice. Out of pure good
feeling toward him, I had it brought to the side of my hammock. My
effort made him happy, and I began to think my prostration was merely
the reaction from over-excitement; and by degrees what I began to
please our host I continued for my own satisfaction. The troubles of my
companions no longer disturbed me. My equanimity was perfectly
restored, and, breakfast over, I set out to look at the ruins.

Ever since our arrival in Yucatan we had received courtesies and
civilities, but none more thorough than those bestowed by our host of
Nohcacab. He had come out with the intention of passing a week with us,
and the Indians and the whole rancho were at our service as long as we
chose to remain.

Passing through one of the huts, we soon came to a hill covered with
trees and very steep, up which the proprietor had cut, not a mere
Indian path, but a road two or three yards wide, leading to a building
standing upon a terrace on the brow of the hill. The façade above the
cornice had fallen, and below it was of plain stone. The interior was
entire, but without any distinguishing features. Following the brow of
this hill, we came to three other buildings, all standing on the same
range, and without any important variations in the details, except that
in one the arch had no overlapping stone, but the two sides of the
ceiling ran up to a point, and formed a complete angle. These, the
Indian told as, were the only buildings that remained. That from which
the pillars in the church at Xul were taken was a mere mass of ruins. I
was extremely disappointed. From the accounts which had induced us to
visit this place, we had made larger calculations. It was the first
time I had been thoroughly disappointed. There were no subjects for the
pencil, and, except the deep and abiding impression of moving among the
deserted structures of another ruined and desolate city, there was
nothing to carry away. The proprietor seemed mortified that he had not
better ruins to show us, but I gave him to understand that it was not
his fault, and that he was in no wise to blame. Nevertheless, it was
really vexatious, with such good-will on his part, and such a troop of
Indians at command, that there was nothing for us to do. The Indians
sympathized in the mortification of their master, and, to indemnify me,
told me of two other ruined cities, one of which was but two leagues
from the village of Xul.

I returned and made my report, and Mr. Catherwood immediately proposed
a return to the village. Albino had given him an alarming account of
the unhealthiness of the rancho, and he considered it advisable to
avoid sleeping there a single night. Doctor Cabot was sitting up in his
hammock, dissecting a bird. A recurrence of fever might detain us some
time, and we determined on returning immediately to Xul. Our decision
was carried into execution as promptly as it was made and, leaving our
luggage to the care of Albino, in half an hour, to the astonishment of
the Indians and the mortification of the proprietor, we were on our way
to the village.

It was late in the evening when we arrived, but the cura received us as
kindly as before. During the evening I made inquiries for the place of
which the Indians at the rancho had told me. It was but two leagues
distant, but of all who happened to drop in, not one was aware of its
existence. The cura, however, sent for a young man who had a rancho in
that direction, and who promised to accompany me.

At six o'clock the next morning we started, neither Mr. Catherwood nor
Doctor Cabot being able to accompany me. At the distance of about two
leagues we reached an Indian rancho, where we learned from an old woman
that we had passed the path leading to the ruins. We could not prevail
on her to go back and show us the way, but she gave us a direction to
another rancho, where she said we could procure a guide. This rancho
was situated in a small clearing in the midst of the woods, enclosed by
a bush fence, and before the door was an arbour covered with palm
leaves, with little hammocks swinging under it, and all together the
picture of Indian comfort.

My companion went in, and I dismounted, thinking that this promised a
good stopping-place, when, looking down, I saw my pantaloons brown with
garrapatas. I laid hold of a twig, intending to switch them off, and
hundreds fell upon my hand and arm. Getting rid of those in sight as
well as I could, and mounting immediately, I rode off, hoping most
earnestly not to find any ruins, nor any necessity of taking up our
abode in this comfortable-seeming rancho.

We were fortunate in finding at this place an Indian, who, for reasons
known to himself and the wife of the master, was making a visit during
the absence of the latter at his milpa; but for which we should not
have been able to procure a guide. Retracing our steps, and crossing
the camino real, we entered the woods on the other side, and tying our
horses, the Indian cut a path up the side of a hill, on the top of
which were the ruins of a building. The outer wall had fallen, leaving
exposed to view the inner half of the arch, by which, as we approached
it, my attention was strongly attracted. This arch was plastered and
covered with painted figures in profile, much mutilated, but in one
place a row of legs remained, which seemed to have belonged to a
procession, and at the first glance brought to my mind the funeral
processions on the walls of the tombs at Thebes. In the triangular wall
forming the end of the room were three compartments, in which were
figures, some having their heads adorned with plumes, others with a
sort of steeple cap, and carrying on their heads something like a
basket; and two were standing on their hands with their heels in the
air. These figures were about a foot high, and painted red. The drawing
was good, the attitudes were spirited and life-like, and altogether,
even in their mutilated state, they were by far the most interesting
paintings we had seen in the country.

Another apartment had been plastered and covered with paintings, the
colours of which were in some places still bright and vivid. In this
apartment we cornered and killed a snake five feet long, and as I threw
it out at the door a strong picture rose up before me of the terrific
scenes which most have been enacted in this region; the cries of wo
that must have ascended to Heaven when these sculptured and painted
edifices were abandoned, to become the dwelling-place of vultures and

There was one other building, and these two, my guide said were all,
but probably others lie buried in the woods. Returning to our horses,
he led me to another extraordinary subterraneous well, which probably
furnished water to the ancient inhabitants. I looked into the mouth,
and saw that the first descent was by a steep ladder, but had no
disposition to explore it.

In a few minutes we mounted to return to the village. Ruins were
increasing upon us, to explore which thoroughly would be the work of
years; we had but months, and were again arrested by illness. For some
days, at least, Mr. Catherwood would not be able to resume work. I was
really distressed by the magnitude of what was before us, but, for the
present, we could do nothing, and I determined at once to change the
scene. The festival of Ticul was at hand, and that night it was to open
with el báyle de las Mestizas, or the Mestiza ball. Ticul lay in our
return route, nine leagues from the village of Xul, but I determined to
reach it that evening. My companion did not sympathize in my humour;
his vaquero saddle hurt him, and he could not ride faster than a walk.
I had need to economize all my strength; but I took his hard-trotting
horse and uneasy saddle, and gave him mine. Pushing on, at eleven
o'clock we reached Xul, where I had my horse unsaddled and washed,
ordered him a good mess of corn, and two boiled eggs for myself. In the
mean time, Mr. Catherwood had a recurrence of fever and ague, and my
horse was led away; but the attack proved slight, and I had him brought
out again. At two o'clock I resumed my journey, with a sheet, a
hammock, and Albino. The heat was scorching, and Albino would have
grumbled at setting out at this hour, but he, too, was ripe for the
fiesta of Ticul.

In an hour we saw in the woods on our right large mounds, indicating
that here, too, had once stood an ancient city. I rode in to look at
them, but the buildings which had crowned them were all fallen and
ruined, and I only gained an addition to the stock of garrapatas
already on hand. We had not heard of these ruins at the village, and,
on inquiring afterward, I could find no name for them.

At the distance of three leagues we commenced ascending the sierra, and
for two hours the road lay over an immense ledge of solid rock. Next to
the Mico Mountain, it was the worst range I ever crossed, but of
entirely different character; instead of gullies, and holes, and walls
of mud, it consisted of naked, broken rock, the reflection of the sun
upon which was intense and extremely painful to the eyes. In some
places it was slippery as glass. I had crossed the sierra in two
different places before, but they were comparatively like the passage
of the Simplon with that of San Bernard or San Gothard across the Alps.
My horse's hoofs clattered and rang at every step, and, though strong
and sure-footed, he stumbled and slid in a way that was painful and
dangerous to both horse and rider; indeed, it would have been an
agreeable change to be occasionally stuck in the mud. It was impossible
to go faster than a walk, and, afraid that night would overtake us, in
which case, as there was no moon, we might lose our way, I dismounted
and hurried on, leading my horse.

It was nearly dark when we reached the top of the last range. The view
was the grandest I had seen in the country. On the very brink stood the
church of La Hermita, below the village of Oxcutzcab, and beyond a
boundless wooded plain, dotted in three places with villages. We
descended by a steep and stony path, and, winding along the front of La
Hermita, came upon a broad pavement of stones from the ruined buildings
of an aboriginal town. We passed under an imposing gateway, and,
entering the village, stopped at the first house for a draught of
water, where, looking back, we saw the shades of night gathering over
the sierra, a token of our narrow escape. There were ruined mounds in
the neighbourhood, which I intended to look at in passing, but we had
still four leagues to make, and pushed on. The road was straight and
level, but stony, and very soon it became so dark that we could see
nothing. My horse had done a hard day's work, and stumbled so that I
could scarcely keep him from falling. We roused the barking dogs of two
villages, of which, however, I could distinguish, nothing but the
outline of their gigantic churches, and at nine o'clock rode into the
plaza of Ticul. It was crowded with Indians, blazing with lights, and
occupied by a great circular scaffold for a bull-ring, and a long,
enclosed arbour, from the latter of which strains of music gave notice
that the báyle de las Mestizas had already begun.

Once more I received a cordial welcome from the cura Carillo; but the
music from the arbour reminded me that the moments of pleasure were
fleeting. Our trunks had been ordered over from Nohcacab, and, making a
hurried toilet, I hastened to the ball-room, accompanied by the padre
Brizeña; the crowd outside opened a way, Don Philippe Peon beckoned to
me as I entered, and in a moment more I was seated in one of the best
places at the báyle de las Mestizas. After a month in Indian ranchos,
that day toiling among ruins, almost driven to distraction by
garrapatas, clambering over a frightful sierra, and making a journey
worse than any sixty miles in our country, all at once I settled down
at a fancy ball, amid music, lights, and pretty women, in the full
enjoyment of an armchair and a cigar. For a moment a shade of regret
came over me as I thought of my invalid friends, but I soon forgot

The enramada, or enclosure for the ball-room, was an arbour about one
hundred and fifty feet long and fifty feet wide, surrounded by a
railing of rude lattice-work, covered with costal, or hemp bagging, as
a protection against the night air and sun, and lighted by lamps with
large glass shades. The floor was of hard cement; along the railing was
a row of chairs, all occupied by ladies; gentlemen, boys, and girls,
children and nurses, were sitting promiscuously on the floor, and Don
Philippe Peon, when he gave me his chair, took a place among them. El
báyle de las Mestizas was what might be called a fancy ball, in which
the señoritas of the village appeared as las Mestizas, or in the
costume of Mestiza women: loose white frock, with red worked border
round the neck and skirt, a man's black hat, a blue scarf over the
shoulder, gold necklace and bracelets. The young men figured as
vaqueros, or major domos, in shirt and pantaloons of pink striped
muslin, yellow buckskin shoes, and low, round-crowned, hard-platted
straw hat, with narrow brim rolled up at the sides, and trimmed with
gold cord and tassels. Both costumes were fanciful and pretty, but at
first the black hat was repulsive. I had heard of the sombreros negros
as part of the Mestiza costume, and had imagined some neat and graceful
fabric of straw; but the faces of the girls were so soft and mild that
even a man's hat could not divest them of their feminine charm.
Altogether the scene was somewhat different from what I expected, more
refined, fanciful, and picturesque.

To sustain the fancy character, the only dance was that of the toros. A
vaquero stood up, and each Mestiza was called out in order. This dance,
as we had seen it among the Indians, was extremely uninteresting, and
required a movement of the body, a fling of the arms, and a snapping of
the fingers, which were at least inelegant; but with las Mestizas of
Ticul it was all graceful and pleasing and there was something
particularly winning in the snapping of the fingers. There were no
dashing beauties, and not one who seemed to have any idea of being a
belle; but all exhibited a mildness, softness, and amiability of
expression that created a feeling of promiscuous tenderness. Sitting at
ease in an arm-chair, after my sojourn in Indian ranchos, I was
particularly alive to these influences. And there was such a charm
about that Mestiza dress. It was so clean, simple, and loose, leaving

                              "Every beauty free
            To sink or swell as Nature pleases."

The ball broke up too soon, when I was but beginning to reap the fruit
of my hard day's work. There was an irruption of servants to carry home
the chairs, and in half an hour, except along a line of tables in front
of the audiencia, the village was still. For a little while, in my
quiet chamber at the convent, the gentle figures of las Mestizas still
haunted me, but, worn down by the fatigues of the day, I very soon
forgot them.

At daylight the next morning the ringing of bells and firing of rockets
announced the continuance of the fiesta; high mass was performed in the
church, and at eight o'clock there was a grand exhibition of lassoing
cattle in the plaza by amateur vaqueros. These were now mounted, had
large vaquero saddles, spurs to match, and each was provided with a
coil of rope in hand; bulls of two years old were let loose in the
plaza, with the bull-ring to double round, and every street in the
village open to them. The amateurs rode after them like mad, to the
great peril of old people, women, and children, who scampered out of
the way as well as they could, but all as much pleased with the sport
as the bull or the vaqueros. One horse fell and hurt his rider, but
there were no necks broken.

This over, all dispersed to prepare for the báyle de dia, or ball by
daylight. I sat for an hour in the corridor of the convent, looking out
upon the plaza. The sun was beaming with intense heat, and the village
was as still as if some great calamity had suddenly overtaken it. At
length a group was seen crossing the plaza: a vaquero escorting a
Mestiza to the ball, holding over her head a red silk umbrella to
protect her from the scorching rays of the sun; then an old lady and
gentleman, children, and servants, a complete family group, the females
all in white, with bright-coloured scarfs and shawls. Other groups
appeared crossing in other directions, forming picturesque and pleasing
spectacles in the plaza. I walked over to the arbour. Although in broad
daylight, under the glare of a midday sun, and shaded only on one side
by hemp bagging, as the Mestizas took their seats they seemed prettier
than the night before. No adjustment of curtain light was necessary for
the morning after the ball, for the ladies had retired at an early
hour. The black hat had lost its repugnant character, and on some it
seemed most becoming. The costumes of the vaqueros, too, bore well the
light of day. The place was open to all who chose to enter, and the
floor was covered with Indian women and children, and real Mestizoes in
cotton shirts, drawers, and sandals; the barrier, too, was lined with a
dense mass of Indians and Mestizoes, looking on good-humouredly at this
personification of themselves and their ways. The whole gathering was
more informal and gayer, and seemed more what it was intended to be, a
fiesta of the village.

The báyle de dia was intended to give a picture of life at a hacienda,
and there were two prominent personages, who did not appear the evening
before, called fiscales, being the officers attendant upon the ancient
caciques, and representing them in their authority over the Indians.
These wore long, loose, dirty camisas hanging off one shoulder, and
with the sleeves below the hands; calzoncillos, or drawers to match,
held up by a long cotton sash, the ends of which dangled below the
knees; sandals, slouching straw hats, with brims ten or twelve inches
wide, and long locks of horse hair hanging behind their ears. One of
them wore awry over his shoulder a mantle of faded blue cotton cloth,
said to be an heirloom descended from an ancient cacique, and each
flourished a leather whip with eight or ten lashes. These were the
managers and masters of ceremonies, with absolute and unlimited
authority over the whole company, and, as they boasted, they had a
right to whip the Mestizas if they pleased.

As each Mestiza arrived they quietly put aside the gentleman escorting
her, and conducted the lady to her seat. If the gentleman did not give
way readily, they took him by the shoulders, and walked him to the
other end of the floor. A crowd followed wherever they moved, and all
the time the company was assembling they threw everything into laughter
and confusion by their whimsical efforts to preserve order.

At length they undertook to clear a space for dancing, backing the
company in a summary way as far as they could go, and then taking the
men and boys by the shoulder, and jamming them down upon the floor.
While they were thus engaged, a stout gentleman, of respectable
appearance, holding some high office in the village, appeared in the
doorway, quietly lighting another straw cigar, and as soon as they saw
him they desisted from the work they had in hand, and, in the
capricious and wanton exercise of their arbitrary power, rushed across,
seized him, dragged him to the centre of the floor, hoisted him upon
the shoulders of a vaquero, and, pulling apart the skirts of his coat,
belaboured him with a mock vigour and earnestness that convulsed the
whole company with laughter. The sides of the elevated dignitary shook,
the vaquero shook under him, and they were near coming down together.

This over, the rogues came directly upon me. El Ingles had not long
escaped their eye. I had with difficulty avoided a scene, and my time
seemed now to have come. The one with the cacique's mantle led the way
with long strides, lash raised in the air, a loud voice, and his eyes,
sparkling with frolic and mischief, fastened upon mine. The crowd
followed, and I was a little afraid of an attempt to hoist me too on
the shoulders of a vaquero; but all at once he stopped short, and,
unexpectedly changing his language, opened upon me with a loud harangue
in Maya. All knew that I did not understand a word he said, and the
laugh was strong against me. I was a little annoyed at being made such
a mark, but, recollecting the achievement of our vernacular at
Nohcacab, I answered him with an English oration. The effect was
instantaneous. He had never before heard a language that he could not
understand, bent his ear earnestly, as if by close attention he could
catch the meaning, and looked up with an air of real perplexity that
turned the laugh completely against him. He began again, and I answered
with a stanza of Greek poetry, which had hung by me in some
unaccountable way; this, again, completely silenced him, and he dropped
the title Ingles, put his arms around my neck, called me "amigo," and
made a covenant not to speak in any language but Castilian.

This over, he ordered the music to commence, planted a vaquero on the
floor, and led out a Mestiza to dance, again threw all the bystanders
into confusion, and sat down quietly on the floor at my feet. All the
Mestizas were again called out in order, presenting the same pretty
spectacle I had seen the evening before. And there was one whom I had
noticed then, not more than fifteen, delicate and fragile, with eyes so
soft and dovelike that it was impossible to look upon them without a
feeling of tenderness. She seemed sent into the world to be cherished
and cared for, and closeted like the finest china, the very emblem of
purity, innocence, and loveliness; and, as I had learned, she was the
child of shame, being the crianza, or natural daughter, of a gentleman
of the village; perhaps it was that she seemed so ill fitted to buffet
with contumely and reproach that gave such an indescribable interest to
her appearance; but, fortunately, brought up in her father's house, she
may go through life without meeting an averted face, or feeling that a
stain rests upon her name.

As may be supposed, the presence of this señorita on the floor did not
escape the keen eyes of the mercurial fiscal. All at once he became
excited and restless, and, starting to his feet, gazed at her for a
moment as if entranced by a vision, and then, as if carried away by his
excitement, and utterly unconscious of what he was about, he pushed
aside the vaquero who was dancing with her, and, flinging his sombrero
on the ground, cried out in a tone of ecstacy, "Voy baylár con vd, mi
corazon!" "I am going to dance with you, my heart!" As he danced, his
excitement seemed to increase; forgetting everything around him, the
expression of his face became rapt, fixed, intense; he tore off his
cacique's mantle, and, dancing toward her, spread it at the lady's
feet. This seemed only to excite him more; and, as if forgetful of
everything else, he seized the collar of his camisa and, dancing
violently all the time, with a nervous grasp, tugged as if he meant to
pull it over his head, and throw all that he was worth at her feet.
Failing in this, for a moment he seemed to give up in despair, but all
at once he thrust his hands under the long garment, seized the sash
around his waist, and still dancing with all his might, unwound it,
and, moving up to her with mingled grace, gallantry, and desperation,
dropped it at her feet, and danced back to his place. By this time his
calzoncillos, kept up by the sash, were giving way. Grasping them
furiously, and holding them up with both hands, as if by a great
effort, he went on dancing with a desperate expression of face that was
irresistibly ludicrous.

During all this time the company was convulsed with laughter, and I
could not help remarking the extreme modesty and propriety of the young
lady, who never even smiled or looked at him, but, when the dance was
ended, bowed and returned to her seat. The poor fiscal stood gating at
the vacant place where she had stood, as if the sun of his existence
had set. At length he turned his head and called out "amigo," asked if
there were any such Mestizas in my country; if I would like to take her
home with me; then said that he could not spare this one, but I might
take my choice of the others; insisting loudly upon my making a
selection, and promising to deliver any one I liked to me at the

At first I supposed that these fiscales were, like the vaqueros, the
principal young men of the village, who, for that day, gave themselves
up to frolic and fun, but I learned that these were not willing to
assume such a character, but employed others known to them for wit and
humour, and, at the same time, for propriety and respectability of
behaviour. This was a _matador de cochinos_, or pig butcher, of
excellent character, and _muy vivo_, by which may be understood "a
fellow of infinite wit and humour." The people of the village seemed to
think that the power given him to whip the Mestizas was the extremity
of license, but they did not consider that, even for the day, they put
him on equal terms with those who, in his daily walks, were to him as
beings of another sphere; for the time he might pour out his tribute of
feeling to beauty and attraction, but it was all to be regarded as a
piece of extravagance, to be forgotten by all who heard it, and
particularly by her to whom it was addressed. Alas, poor matador de

According to the rules, the mantle and sash which he had thrown at the
feet of the lady belonged to her, and he was obliged to appeal to the
charity of the spectators for money to redeem them. In the mean time
the dance continued. The fiscales, having once taken ground as dancers,
were continually ordering the vaqueros to step aside, and taking their
places. At times, too, under the direction of the fiscales, the idle
vaqueros seated themselves on the ground at the head of the arbour, and
all joined in the hacienda song of the vaqueria, in alternate lines of
Maya and Castilian. The chorus was led by the fiscales, with a noise
that drowned every other sound; and while this boisterous merriment was
going on, the light figures of the Mestizas were moving in the dance.

At twelve o'clock preparations were made for a déjeûner à la
fourchette, dispensing, however, with knives and forks. The centre of
the floor was cleared, and an enormous earthen jar, equal in capacity
to a barrel, was brought in, containing frigoles, or black beans fried.
Another vessel of the same size had a preparation of eggs and meat, and
near them was a small mountain of tortillas, with all which it was the
business of the Mestizas to serve the company. The fiscal did not
neglect his amigo, but led to me one of whom I had expressed my opinion
to him in confidence, and who brought in the palm of her hand a layer
of tortillas, with frigoles in the centre, and turned up at the sides
by means of the fingers, so as to prevent the frigoles from escaping.
An attempt to acknowledge the civility was repressed by the fiscal, who
crowded my hat over my eyes, saying that they passed no compliments on
the haciendas, and we were all Indians together. The tortillas, with
the frigoles in them, were not easy to hold without endangering my only
pair of white pantaloons. I relieved myself by passing them over the
railing, where any number of Indians stood ready to receive them; but I
had hardly got rid of this when another Mestiza brought another
portion, and while this engaged my one hand a third placed tortillas
with eggs in the other, and left me afraid to move; but I contrived to
pass both handfuls over the railing. Breakfast over, the dancing was
resumed with new spirit. The fiscales were more amusing than ever; all
agreed that the ball was muy allégre, or very gay, and I could not but
notice that, amid all this motley company and extraordinary license,
there was less noise than in a private drawing-room at home. At two
o'clock, to my great regret, the ball of las Mestizas broke up. It was
something entirely new, and remains engraven on my mind as the best of
village balls.

                              CHAPTER VI.

Bull-fights.--Horse-race.--Bull-fighters.--Their villanous
Appearance.--Death of a Bull.--A Ball of Etiquette.--Society in
Yucatan.--Costumes at the Ball.--More Bull-fights.--A Mestiza.--Scenes
in the Bull-ring.--A Storm.--Dispersion of the Spectators.--A
Discovery.--A new Reformation in Yucatan.--Celibacy of Priests.--A
few Words about the Padres.--Arrival of Mr. Catherwood and Dr.
Cabot.--Rain.--Daguerreotyping.--"The Ancient Chronology of
Yucatan."--Don Pio Perez.--Calendar of the Ancient
Indians.--Substantially the same with that of the Mexicans.--This Fact
tends to show the common Origin of the aboriginal Inhabitants of
Yucatan and Mexico.

In the afternoon commenced the first bull-fight. The bull-fights of
Ticul had a great reputation throughout the country. At the last, a
toreador was killed, which gave a promise of something exciting. The
young men of the village still appeared in character as vaqueros, and
before the fight they had a horse-race, which consisted in riding
across the ring, one at a time, in at one door and out at the other,
and then racing in the same way through the either two doors. It was a
fine opportunity for exhibiting horses and horsemanship, and was a sort
of pony scamper.

After these came the toreadores, or bull-fighters, who, to do them
justice, were by far the worst-looking men I saw in the country, or
anywhere else, except, perhaps, the libellous representatives of the
twelve apostles in the feet-washing scene, at which I was once a
spectator in Jerusalem. They were of a mixed blood, which makes,
perhaps, the worst race known, viz., the cross of the Indian and
African, and called Pardos. Their complexion is a black tinge laid upon
copper, and, not satisfied with the bountiful share of ugliness which
nature had given them, these worthies had done something for themselves
in the way of costume, which was a vile caricature of the common
European dress, with some touches of their own elegant fancy.
Altogether, I could imagine that they had fitted themselves out with
the unclaimed wardrobe of deceased hospital patients. Their horses,
being borrowed by the committee of arrangements, with the understanding
that if killed they were to be paid for, were spavined, foundered,
one-eyed, wretched beasts. They had saddles covered with scarlet
cloths, enormous spurs with rowels six inches long, and murderous
spears discoloured with old stains of blood. The combination of
colours, particularly the scarlet, was intended to frighten the bull,
and all together they were almost enough to frighten el demonio.

The races over, the amateur vaqueros led in the first bull, having two
real vaqueros at hand for cases of emergency. The toreadores charged
upon him with spears brandished, and presenting a vivid picture of the
infernals let loose; after which they dismounted and attacked him on
foot. The bull was brought to bay directly under our box, and twice I
saw the iron pass between his horns, enter the back of his neck with a
dull, grating sound, and come out bloody, leaving a ghastly wound. At
the third blow the bull staggered, struggled to sustain himself on his
feet, but fell back on his haunches, and, with a feeble bellow, rolled
over on his side; blood streamed from his mouth, his tongue hung out on
the ground covered with dust, and in a few moments he was dead. The
amateurs tied his hind legs, ropes were fastened to the saddles of two
horsemen, others took hold, and as the carcase was dragged across the
ring, a fair and gentle-voiced neighbour said, in a tone of surprise,
"Dos caballos y seis Christianos!" "Two horses and six Christians!"

I omit the rest. From the bull-fight we again went to the ball, which,
in the evening, was the báyle del etiquette, no gentleman being
admitted without pantaloons. Society in Yucatan stands upon an
aristocratic footing. It is divided into two great classes: those who
wear pantaloons, and those who do not; the latter, and by far the most
numerous body, going in calconcillos, or drawers. The high-handed
regulation of the ball of etiquette was aimed at them, and excluded
many of our friends of the morning; but it did not seem to give any
offence, the excluded quietly taking their places at the outside of the
railing. El matador de cochinos, or the pig butcher, was admitted in
drawers, but as assistant to the servants, handing refreshments to the
ladies he had danced with in the morning. The whole aspect of things
was changed; the vaqueros were in dress suits, or such undress as was
not unbecoming at a village ball. The señoritas had thrown aside their
simple Mestiza dresses, and appeared in tunicas, or frocks, made to fit
the figure or, rather, to cut the figure in two. The Indian dances had
disappeared, and quadrilles and contra-dances, waltzes and gallopades,
supplied their place. It wanted the piquancy of the báyle de las
Mestizas; the young ladies were not so pretty in their more fashionable
costume. Still there was the same gentleness of expression, the dances
were slow, the music low and soft, and, in the quiet and decorum of
all, it was difficult to recognise the gay and tumultuous party of the
morning, and yet more difficult to believe that these gentle and, in
some cases, lovely faces, had been but a few hours before lighted up
with the barbarous excitement of the bull-ring.

At ten the next day there was another bull-fight, then a horse-race
from the plaza down the principal street to the house of Don Philippe
Peon; and in the afternoon yet another bull-fight which opened for me
under pleasant circumstances. I did not intend to go, had not secured a
seat, and took my place in a box so full that I was obliged to stand up
by the door. In front was one of the prettiest of the Mestizas of the
ball; on her right was a vacant seat, and next to this sat a padre, who
had just arrived at the village. I was curious to know who could be the
proprietor of the vacant seat, when the gentleman himself (an
acquaintance) entered, and asked me to take it. I did not require much
urging and, in taking it, turned first to the padre to acknowledge my
good fortune in obtaining it, which communication I thought he did not
receive quite as graciously as he might have done. The corrida opened
bravely; bulls were speared, blood flowed and men were tumbled over. I
had never taken so much pleasure in the opening scenes; but a storm was
gathering; the heavens put on black; clouds whirled through the air;
the men stood up, seeming anxious and vexed, and the ladies were uneasy
about their mantillas and headdresses. Darkness increased, but man and
beast went on fighting in the ring, and it had a wild and strange
effect, with the black clouds scudding above us, to look from the
fierce struggle up to the sea of anxious faxes on the other side of the
scaffold, and beyond, over the top, to the brilliant arch of a rainbow
illuminating with a single line the blackness of the sky. I pointed out
the rainbow to the lady as an indication that there would be no rain;
but the sign disappeared, a furious gust of wind swept over the frail
scaffold, the scalloped papers fluttered, shawls and handkerchief flew,
a few drops of rain fell, and in three minutes the Plaza de Toros was
empty. I had no umbrella to offer the lady; some ill-natured person
carried her off; and the matador de cochinos extended his poncha over
my head, and escorted me to a house, where I made a great discovery,
which everybody in the village knew except myself. The lady, whom I had
supposed to be a señorita, was a comprometida, or compromised, or, to
speak precisely, she was the compagnera of the padre who sat on the
other side of me.

I have omitted to mention that a great change, or, as it is sometimes
called in the country, a new reformation, is now going on in Yucatan,
not like the reformations got up by disorganizing laymen, which have,
at times, convulsed the whole Christian world, but peculiar and local,
and touching only the domestic relations of the padres. It may be known
to many of my readers that in the early ages of the Catholic Church
priests were not forbidden to marry. In process of time the pope, to
wean them from wordly ties, enjoined celibacy, and separation where
marriage had already taken place. The priests resisted, and the
struggle threatened to undermine the whole fabric of church government;
but the pope prevailed, and for eight centuries, throughout those
countries in which the spiritual domination of Rome is acknowledged, no
priest has been allowed to marry. But in Yucatan this burden was found
too heavy to be borne. Very early, from the necessity growing out of
local position, some special indulgences had been granted to the people
of this country, among which was a dispensation for eating meat on fast
days; and, under the liberal spirit of this bull, or of some other that
I am not aware of, the good padres have relaxed considerably the
tightness of the cord that binds them to celibacy.

I am about making a delicate and curious communication. It may be
considered an ill-natured attack upon the Catholic Church; but as I
feel innocent of any such intention, this does not trouble me. But
another consideration does. I have a strong liking to padres. I have
received from them nothing but kindness, and wherever I have met with
them I have found friends. I mean barely to mention the subject and
pass on, though I am afraid that by this preface I am only calling more
particular attention to it. I would omit it altogether, but it forms so
striking a feature in the state of society in that country, that no
picture can be complete without it. Without farther preface, then, I
mention, but only for the private ear of the reader, that, except at
Merida and Campeachy, where they are more immediately under the eyes of
the bishop, the padres throughout Yucatan, to relieve the tedium of
convent life, have compagneras, or, as they are sometimes called,
_hermanas politicas_, or sisters-in-law; or, to speak with the
precision I particularly aim at, the proportion of those who have to
those who have not is about as the proportion in a well-regulated
community of married to unmarried men.

I have now told the worst; the greatest enemy of the padres cannot say
more. I do not express any opinion of my own upon this matter, but I
may remark that with the people of the country it is no impeachment of
a padre's character, and does not impair his usefulness. Some look upon
this arrangement as a little irregular, but in general it is regarded
only as an amiable weakness, and I am safe in saying that it is
considered a recommendation to a village padre, as it is supposed to
give him settled habits, as marriage does with laymen, and, to give my
own honest opinion, which I did not intend to do, it is less injurious
to good morals than the by no means uncommon consequences of celibacy
which are found in some other Catholic countries. The padre in Yucatan
stands in the position of a married man, and performs all the duties
pertaining to the head of a family. Persons of what is considered
respectable standing in a village do not shun left-hand marriage with a
padre. Still it was to us always a matter of regret to meet with
individuals of worth, and whom we could not help esteeming, standing in
what could not but be considered a false position. To return to the
case with which I set out: the padre in question was universally spoken
of as a man of good conduct, a sort of pattern padre for correct,
steady habits; sedate, grave, and middle-aged, and apparently the last
man to have had an eye for such a pretty compagnera. The only comment I
ever heard made was upon his good fortune, and on that point he knows
my opinion.

The next day Mr. Catherwood and Doctor Cabot arrived. Both had had a
recurrence of fever, and were still very weak. In the evening was the
carnival ball, but before the company had all arrived we were again
scattered by the rain. All the next day it was more abundant than we
had seen it in the country, and completely destroyed all the proposed
gayeties of the carnival.

We had one clear day, which we devoted to taking Daguerreotype
likenesses of the cura and two of the Mestizas; and, besides the great
business of balls, bull-fights, Daguerreotyping, and superintending the
morals of the padres, I had some light reading in a manuscript
entitled, "Antigua Chronologia Yucateca," "Ancient Chronology of
Yucatan; or, a simple Exposition of the Method used by the Indians to
compute Time." This essay was presented to me by the author, Don Pio
Perez, whom I had the satisfaction of meeting at this place. I had been
advised that this gentleman was the best Maya scholar in Yucatan, and
that he was distinguished in the same degree for the investigation and
study of all matters tending to elucidate the history of the ancient
Indians. His attention was turned in this direction by the circumstance
of holding an office in the department of state, in which old documents
in the Maya language were constantly passing under his eyes.
Fortunately for the interests of science and his own studious tastes,
on account of some political disgust he withdrew from public life, and,
during two years of retirement, devoted himself to the study of the
ancient chronology of Yucatan. It is a work which no ordinary man would
have ventured to undertake; and, if general reputation be any proof,
there was no man in the country so competent, or who could bring to it
so much learning and research. It adds to the merit of his labours
that, in prosecuting them, Don Pio stood alone, had none to sympathize
with him, knew that the attainment of the most important results would
not be appreciated, and had not even that hope of honourable
distinction which, in the absence of all other prospects of reward,
cheers the student in the solitary labours of his closet.

The essay explains at large the principles imbodied in the calendar of
the ancient Indians. It has been submitted for examination (with other
interesting papers furnished me by Don Pio, which will be referred to
hereafter) to a distinguished gentleman, known by his researches into
Indian languages and antiquities, and I am authorized to say that it
furnishes a basis for some interesting comparisons and deductions, and
is regarded as a valuable contribution to the cause of science.

The essay of Don Pio contains calculations and details which would not
be interesting to the general reader; to some, however, even these
cannot fail to be so, and the whole is published in the Appendix.[1] I
shall refer in this place only to the result. From the examination and
analysis made by the distinguished gentleman before referred to, I am
enabled to state the interesting fact, that the calendar of Yucatan,
though differing in some particulars, was substantially the same with
that of the Mexicans. It had a similar solar year of three hundred and
sixty-five days, divided in the same manner, first, into eighteen
months of twenty days each, with five supplementary days; and,
secondly, into twenty-eight weeks of thirteen days each, with an
additional day. It had the same method of distinguishing the days of
the year by a combination of those two series, and the same cycle of
fifty-two years, in which the years, as in Mexico, are distinguished by
a combination of the same series of thirteen, with another of four
names or hieroglyphics; but Don Pio acknowledges that in Yucatan there
is no certain evidence of the intercalation (similar to our leap year,
or to the Mexican secular addition of thirteen days) necessary to
correct the error resulting from counting the year as equal to three
hundred and sixty-five days only.

It will be seen, by reference to the essay, that, besides the cycle of
fifty-two years common to the Yucatecans and Mexicans, and, as Don Pio
Perez asserts (on the authority of Veytia), to the Indians of Chiapas,
Oaxaca, and Soconusco, those of Yucatan had another age of two hundred
and sixty, or of three hundred and twelve years, equal to five or six
cycles of fifty-two years, each of which ages consisted of thirteen
periods (called Ajau or Ajau Katun) of twenty years each, according to
many authorities, but, in Don Pio's opinion, of twenty-four years.

The fact that though the inhabitants of Yucatan and Mexico speak
different languages, their calendar is substantially the same, I regard
as extremely interesting and important, for this is not like a
similarity of habits, which may grow out of natural instincts or
identity of position. A calendar is a work of science, founded upon
calculations, arbitrary signs, and symbols, and the similarity shows
that both nations acknowledged the same starting points, attached the
same meaning to the same phenomena and objects, which meaning was
sometimes arbitrary, and not such as would suggest itself to the
untutored. It shows common sources of knowledge and processes of
reasoning, similarity of worship and religious institutions, and, in
short, it is a link in a chain of evidence tending to show a common
origin in the aboriginal inhabitants of Yucatan and Mexico. For this
discovery we are indebted to Don Pio Perez.

                              CHAPTER VII.

Return to Nohcacab.--Final Departure from this Village.--An Indian
Sexton.--Route.--"Old Walls."--Ruins of Sacbey.--Paved Road.--Journey
continued.--Ruins of Xampon.--Imposing Edifice.--"Old Walls," called by
Indians Xlapphak.--Ruins of Hiokowitz and Kuepak.--Zekilna.--Altar for
burning Copal.--Ancient Terrace.--Lofty stone Structure.--Remains of a
Building.--Sculptured Stones.--Platform.--Rancho of Chunhuhu.--Become
involuntary Masters of a Hut.--Its interior Arrangements.--Scarcity
of Water.--Pressing Wants.--Visit to the Ruins.--Two
Buildings.--Façade.--Ornamented Doorways.--Welcome Visiters.--Another
Building.--Plastered Front.--A Building seen from the Terrace.--Visit
to the Ruins of Schoolhoke.--Large stone Structure.--Ranges of
Buildings.--Circular Stone.--Ruined Edifice.--Representations of Human
Figures.--Return to the Rancho.--Benefits of a Rain.

On the fourteenth of February we returned to Nohcacab. We had sent
Albino before to make all our necessary arrangements, and on the
fifteenth we took our final leave of this village. We had no regret; on
the contrary, it was pleasant to think that we should not return to it.
Our luggage was again reduced to the smallest possible compass:
hammocks, a few changes of clothes, and Daguerreotype apparatus, all
the rest being forwarded to meet us at Peto. The chief of our Indian
carriers was a sexton, who had served out his time, an old neighbour in
the convent, whom we had never seen sober, and who was this morning
particularly the reverse.

[Engraving 18: Building at Sacbey]

To understand our route it will be necessary for the reader to consult
the map. On setting out our direction was again south, and again our
road was over the sepulchres of cities. At the distance of two miles we
saw "old walls" on an eminence at the right; a little farther three
ruined buildings on the same side of the road; and beyond these we came
to the ruins of Sacbey. These consist of three buildings, irregularly
disposed, one of which is represented in the engraving opposite. It
faces the south, measures fifty-three feet front by twelve feet six
inches deep, and has three small doorways. Another, a little farther
south, is about the size of the former, and has three apartments, with
two columns in the centre doorway. The third is so ruined that its plan
could not be made out.

Near as they were to the village, the padrecito had never seen them.
They stand about a hundred feet from the path, but so completely buried
among the trees, that, though I had visited them before under the
guidance of an Indian, I passed now without observing them.

A short distance beyond is one of the most interesting monuments of
antiquity in Yucatan. It is a broken platform or roadway of stone,
about eight feet wide and eight or ten inches high, crossing the road,
and running off into the woods on both sides I have before referred to
it as called by the Indians Sacbey, which means, in the Maya language,
a paved way of pure white stone. The Indians say it traversed the
Country from Kabah to Uxmal; and that on it couriers travelled, bearing
letters to and from the lords of those cities, written on leaves or the
bark of trees. It was the only instance in which we had found among the
Indians anything like a tradition, and the universality of this legend
was illustrated by the circumstances attending our arrival. While we
were standing upon the road, an old Indian came up from the other
direction, bending under a load, who, in crossing it, stopped, and,
striking his stick against the stones, uttered the words Sacbey, and
Kabah, and Uxmal. At the same time our carriers came up, the old sexton
at their head, who, depositing his burden upon the ancient road,
repeated Sacbey, and then favoured us with an oration, in which we
could only distinguish Kabah and Uxmal.

It had been my intention to explore thoroughly the route of this
ancient road, and, if possible, trace it through the woods to the
desolate cities which it once connected, and it was among the vexations
of our residence at Nohcacab that we had not been able to do so. The
difficulty of procuring Indians to work, and a general recurrence of
sickness, rendered it impossible. We could not tell how much time might
be required; the whole country was overgrown with trees; in some places
the track was but faintly marked, and in others it might be lost
altogether. It remains, therefore, an unbroken ground for the future

[Engraving 19: Building at Xampon]

Again passing "old walls" on each side of the load, at the distance of
two leagues we reached Xampon, where stand the remains of an edifice
which, when entire, must have been grand and imposing, and now, but for
the world of ruins around, might excite a stranger's wonder. Its form
was rectangular, its four sides enclosing a hollow square. It measured
from north to south eighty feet, and from east to west one hundred and
five. Two angles only remain, one of which is represented in the plate
opposite. It stood alone, and an Indian had planted a milpa around it.
From this "old walls" were again visible, which the Indians called

Beyond we saw at a distance two other places, called Hiokowitz and
Kuepak, ruined and difficult of access, and we did not attempt to reach

It added to the effect of the ruins scattered in this region, that they
were not on a camino real, but on a little-frequented milpa path, in
some places so overgrown that we found it difficult to force a passage.
The heat was intense; we exhausted our waccals of water, and as there
was no stream or fountain, our only chance of a supply was from a
deposite of rain-water in the hollow of some friendly rock.

At two o'clock we reached a small clearing, in which stood an arbour of
leaves, and under it a rude cross, facing the road; beyond, on the
left, was an overgrown path, which, for the first time in many years,
had been opened for me on a former occasion, to enable me to visit the
ruins of Zekilna.

This place had been the object of one of my bootless visits from
Nohcacab. The account I had heard was of an apartment containing an
altar for burning copal, with traces of its use as left by the ancient
inhabitants. When I had arrived where it was necessary to turn off, it
was some time before the Indian could discover any signs of a path; and
when found, he had to clear every step of the way. By that time my
views on the subject of ruined cities had become practical, and,
perceiving the discomfort and hardship that must attend an exploration
in so desolate a place, I did most earnestly hope that the path would
lead to nothing that might require a second visit. I dismounted, and
leading my horse as the Indian cleared the way, we came to a broken,
stony ascent, climbing up which I discovered that we were upon the top
of an ancient terrace. A fine alamo tree was growing on the terrace,
under which I tied my horse, and descending on the other side, we
crossed a closely-wooded hollow, which, from the excessive heat, I
supposed to be between two mounds. In a few moments I found myself
ascending the side of a lofty stone structure, on the top of which were
the remains of a large building, with its walls fallen, and the whole
side of the mound strewed with sculptured stones, a scene of
irrecoverable ruin. Descending on the other side of this structure, we
reached a broad platform, in a good state of preservation, with trees
growing upon it, without brush or underwood, but so teeming with
insects and large black ants that it was necessary to step from stone
to stone, and avoid touching the ground. Running off lengthwise from
this terrace was a small building, which the Indian pointed out as
containing the altar and copal. Passing the first door, he went on to
the second, put his head in cautiously, and, without entering, drew
back. Going in, I found an apartment differing in nothing from the most
ordinary we had seen in the country. For some time I could not get the
Indian to enter, and when he did, standing in the doorway, and looking
around cautiously, he waved his finger horizontally, according to the
manner of the Indians, to indicate that there was nothing. Fortunately,
however, I learned that the road we had left led to the ruins of
Chunhuhu; and it shows the difficulty I had in ascertaining the
juxtaposition of places, that though this was one of the places which I
intended to visit, until this man mentioned it I had not been able to
learn that it lay in the same neighbourhood. I determined at once to
continue on, and it was what I saw on that occasion that now put our
whole body in motion in this direction.

To return. It was late in the afternoon when we reached the savanna of
Chunhuhu, and rode up to the hut at which I had tied my horse on my
former visit.

The hut was built of upright poles, had a steep projecting roof
thatched with palm leaves, and the sides protected by the same
material; as we stopped in front, we saw a woman within mashing maize
for tortillas, which promised a speedy supper. She said her husband was
away; but this made no difference to us, and, after a few more words,
we all entered, the woman at the moment bolting for the door, and
leaving us in exclusive possession. Very soon, however, a little boy,
about eight years old, came down and demanded the maize, which we were
loth to give up, but did not consider ourselves authorized to retain.
Albino followed him, in hopes of persuading the woman to return; but as
soon as she caught a glimpse of him she ran into the woods.

The hut of which we thus became the sudden and involuntary masters was
furnished with three stones for a fireplace, a wooden horse for
kneading maize upon, a comal for baking tortillas, an earthen olla, or
pot, for cooking, three or four waccals, or gourds, for drinking-cups,
and two small Indian hammocks, which also were demanded and given up.
Besides these, there was a circular dining-table about a foot and a
half in diameter, supported by three pegs about eight inches high, and
some blocks of wood about the same height for seats. Overhead;
suspended from the rafters, were three large bundles of corn in the
husk and two of beans in the pod; and on each string, about a foot
above these eatables, was half a calabash or squash, with the rounded
side up, like the shade over a lamp, which, besides being ornamental,
filled the office of a rat-trap; for these vermin, in springing from
the rafters to reach the corn and beans, would strike upon the
calabash, and fall to the ground.

Being provided for ourselves, we next looked to our horses. There was
no difficulty about their food, for a supply of corn had fallen into
our hands, and the grass on the savanna was the best pasture we had
seen in the country; but we learned, to our dismay, from the little
boy, who was the only person we saw, that there was no water. The place
was worse supplied than any we had yet visited. There was neither well,
cueva, nor aguada, and the inhabitants depended entirely upon the
rain-water collected in the hollows of the rocks. As to a supply for
four horses, it was utterly out of the question. Any long stay at this
place was, of course, impossible; but immediate wants were pressing.
Our horses had not touched water since morning, and, after a long, hot,
and toilsome journey, we could not think of their going without all

The little boy was hovering about the rancho in charge of a naked
sister some two years old, and commissioned, as he told us himself, to
watch that we did not take anything from the hut. For a medio he
undertook to show me the place where they procured water, and, mounting
his little sister upon his back, he led the way up a steep and stony
hill I followed with the bridle of my horse in my hand, and, without
any little girl on my back, found it difficult to keep up with him. On
the top of the hill were worn and naked rocks, with deep hollows in
them, some holding perhaps as much as one or two pails of water. I led
my horse to one of the largest. He was always an extraordinary water
drinker, and that evening was equal to a whole temperance society. The
little Indian looked on as if he had sold his birthright, and I felt
strong compunctions; but, letting the morrow take care of itself, I
sent up the other horses, which consumed at a single drinking what
might, perhaps, have sufficed the family a month.

In the mean time our own wants were not slight. We had been on the road
all day; and had eaten nothing. Unluckily, the old sexton had taken for
his load the box containing our table furniture and provisions for the
road, and we had not seen him since we left him at Sacbey. All the
other carriers had arrived. I had hired them to remain with us and work
at the ruins, and then carry the luggage to the next village. Part of
my contract was to feed them, and, knowing the state of things, they
scattered in search of supplies, returning, after a long absence, with
some tortillas, eggs, and lard. We had the eggs fried, and would,
perhaps, have been content but for our vexation with the sexton. While
we were swinging in our hammocks, we heard his voice at a distance, and
presently he entered in the best humour possible, and holding up his
empty bottle in triumph.

The next morning at daylight we sent Albino with the Indians to begin
clearing around the ruins, and after breakfast we followed. The path
lay through a savanna covered with long grass, and at the distance of a
mile we reached two buildings, which I had seen before, and were the
inducement to this visit.

[Engraving 20: Building at Chunhuhu]

The first is that represented in the plate opposite. It stands on a
substantial terrace, but lower than most of the others. The front is
one hundred and twelve feet long, and when entire must have presented a
grand appearance. The end on the left in the engraving has fallen,
carrying with it one doorway, so that now only four appear. The doorway
was the largest and most imposing we had seen in the country, but,
unfortunately, the ornaments over it were broken and fallen. In the
centre apartment the back corridor is raised, and the ascent to it is
by three steps.

[Engraving 21: A Doorway]

All the doorways were plain except the centre one (the second to the
left in the engraving), which is represented in the plate opposite. It
is in a dilapidated condition, but still presents bold and striking
ornaments. Even on this scale, however, the details of the sitting
figures above the cornice do not appear.

While we were engaged in making a clearing in front of this building,
two young men came down upon the terrace from the corner that was
fallen, and apparently from the top of the building, with long guns,
the locks covered with deer-skin, and all the accoutrements of
caçadores, or hunters. They were tall, fine-looking fellows, fearless
and frank in appearance and manner. Dr. Cabot's gun was the first
object that attracted their attention, after which they laid down their
guns, and, as if for the mere sport of swinging their machetes, were
soon foremost in making the clearing. When this was finished, Mr. C.
sat up his camera lucida, and though at first all gathered round, in a
few minutes he was left with only the two brothers, one of them holding
over him an umbrella to protect him from the sun.

Except the little boy and the woman, these were the first persons we
had seen within speaking distance. We were so pleased with their
appearance that we proposed to one of them to accompany us in our
search after ruins. The elder was quite taken with the idea of
rambling, but soon said, with a rather disconsolate tone, that he had a
wife and children. His hermanito, or younger brother, however, had no
such ties, and would go with us. We made an agreement on the spot; and
nothing can show more plainly the sense which we entertained of the
security of travelling in Yucatan. In Central America we never dared to
take a man into our service without strong recommendations, for he
might be a robber or an assassin. These men we had never heard of till
they came upon us with their guns. Their manly bearing as hungers
inspired confidence, and the only suspicious circumstance was that they
were willing to take us without references; but we found afterward that
they had both known us at Nohcacab. The one whom we engaged was named
Dimas, and he continued with us until we left the country.

[Engraving 22: A Building]

On the same line, and but a short distance removed, though on a lower
terrace, is another building, measuring eighty-five feet in front,
which is represented in the plate opposite. It had a freshness about it
that suggested the idea of something more modern than the others. The
whole was covered with a coat of plaster but little broken, and it
confirmed us in the opinion we had entertained before, that the fronts
of all the buildings had been thus covered.

Our meeting with these young men was a fortunate circumstance for us in
exploring these ruins. From boyhood their father had had his rancho on
the savanna, and with their guns they had ranged over the whole country
for leagues around.

From the terrace of the first building we saw at a distance a high
hill, almost a mountain, on the top of which rose a wooded elevation
surrounding an ancient building. There was something extraordinary in
its position, but the young men told us it was entirely ruined, and,
although it was then but eleven o'clock, if we attempted to go to it,
we could not return till after dark. They told us, also, of others at
the distance of half a league, more extensive, and some of which, they
said, were, in finish and preservation, equal to these.

At one o'clock Doctor Cabot and myself, under the guidance of Dimas,
set out to look for them. It was desperately hot. We passed several
huts, and at one of them asked for some water; but it was so full of
insects that we could barely taste it. Dimas led us to the hut of his
mother, and gave us some from a vessel in which the insects had settled
to the bottom.

Beyond this we ascended the spur of a high hill, and coming down into a
thickly-wooded valley, after the longest half league we ever walked, we
saw through the trees a large stone structure. On reaching it, and
climbing over a broken terrace, we came to a large mound faced on all
sides with stone, which we ascended, and crossing over the top, looked
down upon an overgrown area, having on each side a range of ruined
buildings, with their white facades peering through the trees; and
beyond, at a distance, and seemingly inaccessible, was the high hill
with the ruins on the top, which we had seen from the terrace of the
first building. Hills rose around us on every side, and, for that
country, the scene was picturesque, but all waste and silent. The
stillness of the grave rested upon the ruins, and the notes of a little
flycatcher were the only sounds we heard.

[Engraving 23: A Building]

The ruins in sight were much more extensive than those we had first
visited, but in a more ruinous condition. We descended the mound to the
area in front, and, bearing down the bushes, passed in the centre an
uncouth, upright, circular stone, like that frequently referred to
before, called the picote, or whipping-post, and farther on we reached
an edifice, which Mr. Catherwood afterward drew, and which is
represented in the engraving opposite. It is thirty-three feet in
front, and has two apartments, each thirteen feet long by eight feet
six inches deep, and conspicuous in the façade are representations of
three uncouth human figures, in curious dresses, with their hands held
up by the side of the head, supporting the cornice.

These ruins, Dimas told us, were called Schoolhoke, but, like the
others, they stand on what is called the savanna of Chunhuhu; and the
ruined building on the top of the hill, visible from both places, seems
towering as a link to connect them together. What the extent of this
place has been it is impossible to say. Returning, overtaken by night,
and in apprehension of rain, we were an hour and a half, which would
make the two, by the path we took, at least five miles apart, though
much nearer in a straight line. Supposing the two piles of ruins to
have formed part of the same city, there is reason to believe that it
once covered as much ground and contained as many inhabitants as any
that has yet been presented.

The first intelligence I received of the existence of these ruins was
from Cocom, who, the reader may remember, was our guide at Nohpat; and
this is all that I am able to communicate in regard to their history.

We returned to the rancho worn down with fatigue, just in time to
escape a violent rain. This brought within, as an accompaniment to the
fleas of the night before, our carriers and servants, and we had eleven
hammocks, in close juxtaposition, and through the night a concert of
nasal trombones, with Indian variations. The rain continued all the
next day, and as no work could be done, Mr. Catherwood took advantage
of the opportunity to have another attack of fever. We were glad of it
on another account, for we had kept a man constantly employed in the
woods searching for water; our horses had exhausted all the rocky
cavities around, and we could not have held out another day. The rain
replenished them, and relieved us from some compunctions.

In the afternoon the little boy came down with a message from his
mother, desiring to know when we were going away. Perhaps the leader is
curious to know the costume of boys at Chunhuhu. It consists of a straw
hat and a pair of sandals. This one had, besides, some distinguishable
spots of dirt, and Mr. Catherwood made a drawing of him as he stood.
Soon afterward the poor woman herself was seen hovering about the
house. She considered that it was really time to come. We had made a
great inroad upon her provisions; given the corn to our horses, and
cooked the frigoles; but the special cause of her coming was to return
a medio, which she said was bad. She was mild, amiable, and simple as a
child; complained that we said we were only going to remain one night,
and now she did not know when we were going away. With great
difficulty, we prevailed upon her to enter the hut, and told her she
might return whenever she pleased. She laughed good-naturedly, and,
after looking round carefully to see that nothing was missing, went
away comforted by our promise to depart the next day.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

Journey to Bolonchen.--Bad Road.--Large Hacienda.--Imposing
Gateway.--An inhospitable Host.--Ruins of Ytsimpte.--Ruined
Edifice.--Staircase with sculptured Stones.--Square Building.--Façade
decorated with Pillars.--Ruined Walls.--Remains of a sculptured
Figure.--Character and Aspect of the Ruins.--Departure.--Arrival at the
Village of Bolonchen.--Scene of Contentment.--Wells.--Derivation of the
Word Bolonchen.--Origin of the Wells unknown.--The Cura.--Visit to an
extraordinary Cave.--Entrance to it.--Precipitous Descents.--A wild
Scene.--Rude Ladders.--Dangers of the Descent.--Indian Name of this
Cave.--A subterranean Ball-room.--Cavernous Chamber.--Numerous
Passages.--Great Number of Ladders.--Rocky Basin of Water.--Great
Depth of the Cave.--A Bath in the Basin.--Its Indian Name.--Return
to the Rocky Chamber.--Exploration of another Passage.--Another
Basin.--Indian Stories.--Two other Passages and Basins.--Seven
Basins in all.--Indian Names of the remaining five.--Want of
Philosophical Instruments.--Surface of the Country.--This Cave the
sole Watering-place of a large Indian Village.--Return.--Visit to the
Cura.--Report of more Ruins.

At daylight the next morning the woman was on the spot to remind us of
our promise. We gave her a cup of coffee, and with a small present,
which amply satisfied her for our forcible occupation of her hut, left
her again in possession.

Our party this morning divided into three parcels. The carriers set out
direct for Bolonchen; Mr Catherwood went, under the guidance of Dimas,
to make a drawing of the last building, and Doctor Cabot, myself, and
Albino to visit another ruined city, all to meet again at Bolonchen in
the evening.

Doctor Cabot and myself were warned that the path we proposed taking
was not passable on horseback. For the first league our arms and legs
were continually scratched and torn by briers, and only our hats saved
us from the fate of Absalom. In that hot climate, it was always
uncomfortable to tie the sombrero under the chin; and there were few
things more annoying than to have it knocked off every five minutes,
and be obliged to dismount and pick it up. Our Indian guide moved
easily on foot, just clearing the branches on each side and overhead.
We had one alternative, which was to dismount and lead our horses; but,
unused to having favours shown them, they pulled back, so that the
labour of dragging them on added greatly to the fatigue of walking.

Emerging from this tangled path, we came out upon a large hacienda, and
stopped before an imposing gateway, under the shade of great seybo
trees, within which were large and well-filled water-tanks. Our horses
had drunk nothing since the afternoon before; we therefore dismounted,
loosened the saddle girths, and, as a matter of form, sent Albino to
ask permission to water them, who returned with the answer that we
might for a real. At Chunhuhu it always cost us more than this in the
labour of Indians; but the demand seemed so churlish at the gate of
this large hacienda, that we refused to pay, and again mounted. Albino
told us that we might save a slight circuit by passing through the
cattle-yard; and we rode through, close beside the water-tanks and a
group of men, at the head of whom was the master, and, coming out upon
the camino real, shook from off our feet the dust of the inhospitable
hacienda. Our poor horses bore the brunt of sustaining our dignity.

At one o'clock we came to a rancho of Indians, where we bought some
tortillas and procured a guide. Leaving the camino real, we turned
again into a milpa path, and in about an hour came in sight of another
ruined city, known by the name of Ytsimpte. From the plain on which we
approached we saw on the left, on the brow of a hill, a range of
buildings, six or eight hundred feet in length, all laid bare to view,
the trees having just been felled; and as we drew near we saw Indians
engaged in continuing the clearing. On arriving at the foot of the
buildings, Albino found that the clearing was made by order of the
alcalde of Bolonchen, at the instance and under the direction of the
padre, in expectation of our visit and for our benefit!

We had another subject of congratulation on account of our horses.
There was an aguada in the neighbourhood, to which we immediately sent
them, and, carrying our traps up to the terrace of the nearest
building, we sat down before it to meditate and lunch.

This over, we commenced a survey of the ruins. The clearings made by
our unknown friends enabled us to form at once a general idea of their
character and extent, and to move from place to place with comparative
facility. These ruins lie in the village of Bolonchen, and the first
apartment we entered showed the effects of this vicinity. All the
smooth stones of the inner wall had been picked out and carried away
for building purposes, and the sides presented the cavities in the bed
of mortar from which they had been taken. The edifice was about two
hundred feet long. It had one apartment, perhaps sixty feet long, and a
grand staircase twenty feet wide rose in the centre to the top. This
staircase was in a ruinous condition, but the outer stones of the lower
steps remained, richly ornamented with sculpture; and probably the
whole casing on each side had once possessed the same rich decoration.

Beyond this was another large building, square and peculiar in its
plan. At the extreme end the whole façade lay unbroken on the ground,
held together by the great mass of mortar and stones and presenting the
entire line of pillars with which it had been decorated. In the doorway
of an inner apartment was an ornamented pillar, and on the walls was
the print of the mysterious red hand. Turn which way we would, ruin was
before us. At right angles with the first building was a line of ruined
walls, following which I passed, lying on the ground, the headless
trunk of a sculptured body; the legs, too, were gone. At the end was an
arch, which seemed, at a distance, to stand entire and alone, like that
named the arch of triumph at Kabah; but it proved to be only the open
and broken arch of a ruined building. From the extent of these remains,
the masses of sculptured stones, and the execution of the carving, this
must have been one of the first class of the aboriginal cities. In
moral influence there was none more powerful. Ruin had been so complete
that we could not profit by the kindness of our friends, and it was
melancholy that when so much had been done for us, there was so little
for us to do. It was but another witness to the desolation that had
swept over the land.

A short ride brought us to the suburbs of the village of Bolonchen, and
we entered a long street, with a line of straggling houses or huts on
each side. It was late in the afternoon. Indian children were playing
in the road, and Indians, returned from their work, were swinging in
hammocks within the huts. As we advanced, we saw a vecino, with a few
neighbours around him, sitting in the doorway thrumming a guitar. It
was, perhaps, a scene of indolence, but it was one of quiet and
contentment, of comfort and even thrift. Often, in entering the
disturbed villages of Central America, among intoxicated Indians and
swaggering white men, all armed, we felt a degree of uneasiness. The
faces that looked upon us seemed scowling and suspicious; we always
apprehended insult, and frequently were not disappointed. Here all
looked at us with curiosity, but without distrust; every face bore a
welcome, and, as we rode through, all gave us a friendly greeting. At
the head of the street the plaza opened upon us on a slight elevation,
with groups of Indian women in the centre drawing water from the well,
and relieved against a background of green hills rising above the tops
of the houses, which, under the reflection of the setting sun, gave a
beauty and picturesqueness of aspect that no other village in the
country had exhibited. On the left, on a raised platform, stood the
church, and by its side the convent. In consideration of what the cura
had already done for us, and that we had a large party--perceiving,
also, that the casa real, a long stone building with a broad portico in
front, was really inviting in its appearance, we resolved to spare the
cura, and rode up to the casa real. Well-dressed Indians, with a
portly, well-fed cacique, stood ready to take our horses. We dismounted
and entered the principal apartment. On one side were the iron gratings
of the prison, and on the other two long beams of wood with holes in
them for stocks, and a caution to strangers arriving in the village to
be on their good behaviour. Our carriers had arrived. We sent out to
buy ramon and corn for the horses, had our hammocks swung, and sat down
under the corridor.

We had hardly time to seat ourselves before the vecinos, in their clean
afternoon clothes, and some with gold-headed canes, came over to "call
upon us." All were profuse in offers of services; and as it was the
hour for that refreshment, we had a perplexing number of invitations to
go to their houses and take chocolate. Among our visiters was a young
man with a fine black beard all over his face, well dressed, and the
only one wearing a black hat, whom, as we knew they were about drilling
companies in the villages to resist the apprehended invasion of Santa
Ana, we supposed to belong to the army, but we afterward learned that
he was a member of the church militant, being the ministro, or
assistant, of the cura. The cura himself did not come, but one of our
visiters, looking over to the convent, and seeing the doors and windows
closed, said he was still taking his siesta.

We had time to look at the only objects of interest in the village, and
these were the wells, which, after our straits at Chunhuhu, were a
refreshing spectacle, and of which our horses had already enjoyed the
benefit by a bath.

Bolonchen derives its name from two Maya words: _Bolon_, which
signifies nine, and _chen_ wells, and it means the nine wells. From
time immemorial, nine wells formed at this place the centre of a
population, and these nine wells are now in the plaza of the village.
Their origin is as obscure and unknown as that of the ruined cities
which strew the land, and as little thought of.

These wells were circular openings cut through a stratum of rock. The
water was at that time ten or twelve feet from the surface, and in all
it was at the same level. The source of this water is a mystery to the
inhabitants, but there are some facts which seem to make the solution
simple. The wells are mere perforations through an irregular stratum of
rock, all communicate, and in the dry season a man may descend in one
and come out by another at the extreme end of the plaza; it is
manifest, therefore, that the water does not proceed from springs.
Besides, the wells are all full during the rainy season; when this is
over the water begins to disappear, and in the heat of the dry season
it fails altogether; from which it would appear that under the surface
there is a great rocky cavern, into which the floods of the rainy
season find a way by crevices or other openings, which cannot be known
without a survey of the country, and, having little or no escape, are
retained, and furnish a supply so long as they are augmented by the

The custody and preservation of these wells form a principal part of
the business of the village authorities, but, with all their care, the
supply lasts but seven or eight months in the year. This year, on
account of the long continuance of the rainy season, it had lasted
longer than usual, and was still abundant. The time was approaching,
however, when these wells would fail, and the inhabitants be driven to
an extraordinary cueva at half a league from the village.

At about dark Mr. Catherwood arrived, and we returned to the casa real.
In a room fifty feet long, free from fleas, servants, and Indian
carriers, and with a full swing for our hammocks, we had a happy change
from the hut at Chunhuhu.

During the evening the cura came over to see us, but, finding we had
retired, did not disturb us; early in the morning he was rapping at our
door, and would not leave us till we promised to come over and take
chocolate with him.

As we crossed the plaza he came out to meet us, in black gown and cape,
bare-headed, with white hair streaming, and both arms extended;
embraced us all, and, with the tone of a man who considered that he had
not been treated well, reproached us for not coming directly to the
convent; then led us in, showed us its comforts and conveniences,
insisted upon sending for our luggage, and only consented to postpone
doing so while we consulted on our plans.

These were, to leave Bolonchen in the afternoon for the ruins of San
Antonio, four leagues distant. The cura had never heard of such ruins,
and did not believe that any existed, but he knew the hacienda, and
sent out to procure information. In the mean time it was arranged that
we should employ the morning in a visit to the cueva, and return to
dine with him. He reminded us that it was Friday, and, consequently,
fast day; but, knowing the padres as we did, we had no apprehension.

There was one great difficulty in the way of our visiting the cueva at
this time. Since the commencement of the rainy season it had not been
used; and every year, before having recourse to it, there was a work of
several days to be done in repairing the ladders. As this, however, was
our only opportunity, we determined to make the attempt.

The cura undertook to make the arrangements and after breakfast we set
out, a large party, including both Indians and vecinos.

At the distance of half a league from the village, on the Campeachy
road, we turned off by a well-beaten path, following which we fell into
a winding lane, and, descending gradually, reached the foot of a rude,
lofty, and abrupt opening, under a bold ledge of overhanging rock,
seeming a magnificent entrance to a great temple for the worship of the
God of Nature. The engraving which follows represents this aperture, an
Indian with a lighted torch being seen just entering.

[Engraving 24: Entrance to a Cave at Bolonchen]

We disencumbered ourselves of superfluous apparel, and, following the
Indian, each with a torch in hand, entered a wild cavern, which, as we
advanced, became darker. At the distance of sixty paces the descent was
precipitous, and we went down by a ladder about twenty feet. Here all
light from the mouth of the cavern was lost, but we soon reached the
brink of a great perpendicular descent, to the very bottom of which a
strong body of light was thrown from a hole in the surface, a
perpendicular depth, as we afterward learned by measurement, of two
hundred and ten feet. As we stood on the brink of this precipice, under
the shelving of an immense mass of rock, seeming darker from the stream
of light thrown down the hole, gigantic stalactites and huge blocks of
stone assumed all manner of fantastic shapes, and seemed like monstrous
animals or deities of a subterranean world.

From the brink on which we stood an enormous ladder, of the rudest
possible construction, led to the bottom of the hole. It was between
seventy and eighty feet long, and about twelve feet wide, made of the
rough trunks of saplings lashed together lengthwise, and supported all
the way down by horizontal trunks braced against the face of the
precipitous rock. The ladder was double, having two sets or flights of
rounds, divided by a middle partition, and the whole fabric was lashed
together by withes. It was very steep, seemed precarious and insecure,
and confirmed the worst accounts we had heard of the descent into this
remarkable well.

Our Indians began the descent, but the foremost had scarcely got his
head below the surface before one of the rounds slipped, and he only
saved himself by clinging to another. The ladder having been made when
the withes were green, these were now dry, cracked, and some of them
broken. We attempted a descent with some little misgivings, but, by
keeping each hand and foot on a different round, with an occasional
crash and slide, we all reached the foot of the ladder; that is, our
own party, our Indians, and some three or four of our escort, the rest
having disappeared.

[Engraving 25: Principal Staircase in the Cave]

The plate opposite represents the scene at the foot of this ladder.
Looking up, the view of its broken sides, with the light thrown down
from the orifice above, was the wildest that can be conceived. As yet
the reader is only at the mouth of this well; but to explain to him
briefly its extraordinary character, I give its name, which is Xtacumbi
Xunan. The Indians understand by this La Señora escondida, or the lady
hidden away; and it is derived from a fanciful Indian story that a lady
stolen from her mother was concealed by her lover in this cave.

Every year, when the wells in the plaza are about to fail, the ladders
are put into a thorough state of repair. A day is appointed by the
municipality for closing the wells in the plaza, and repairing to the
cueva; and on that day a great village fête is held in the cavern at
the foot of this ladder. On the side leading to the wells is a rugged
chamber, with a lofty overhanging roof and a level platform; the walls
of this rocky chamber are dressed with branches and hung with lights,
and the whole village comes out with refreshments and music. The cura
is with them, a leader of the mirth; and the day is passed in dancing
in the cavern, and rejoicing that when one source of supply fails
another is opened to their need.

The engraving which follows will give some imperfect idea of a section
of this cave from the entrance to the foot of the great ladder with the
orifice through which the light descends from above, and the wild path
that leads deeper into the bowels of the rock and down to the water.

[Engraving 26: Section of the Cave]

On one side of the cavern is an opening in the rock, as shown in the
engraving, entering by which, we soon came to an abrupt descent, down
which was another long and trying ladder. It was laid against the
broken face of the rock, not so steep as the first, but in a much more
rickety condition; the rounds were loose, and the upper ones gave way
on the first attempt to descend. The cave was damp, and the rock and
the ladder were wet and slippery. At this place the rest of our
attendants left us, the ministro being the last deserter. It was
evident that the labour of exploring this cave was to be greatly
increased by the state of the ladders, and there might be some danger
attending it, but, even after all that we had seen of caves, there was
something so wild and grand in this that we could not bring ourselves
to give up the attempt. Fortunately, the cura had taken care to provide
us with rope, and, fastening one end round a large stone, an Indian
carried the other down to the foot of the ladder. We followed, one at a
time; holding the rope with one hand, and with the other grasping the
side of the ladder, it was impossible to carry a torch, and we were
obliged to feel our way in the dark, or with only such light as could
reach us from the torches above and below. At the foot of this ladder
was a large cavernous chamber, from which irregular passages led off in
different directions to deposites or sources of water. Doctor Cabot and
myself attended by Albino, took one of the passages indicated by the
Indians, of which some imperfect idea is given in the section.

Moving on by a slight ascent over the rocks, at the distance of about
seventy-five feet we came to the foot of a third ladder nine feet long,
two or three steps beyond another five feet high, both which we had to
go up, and six paces farther a fifth, descending, and eighteen feet in
length. A little beyond we descended another ladder eleven feet long, and
yet a little farther on we came to one--the seventh--the length and
general appearance of which induced us to pause and consider. By this
time Albino was the only attendant left. This long ladder was laid on a
narrow, sloping face of rock, protected on one side by a perpendicular
wall, but at the other open and precipitous. Its aspect was
unpropitious, but we determined to go on. Holding by the side of the
ladder next the rock, we descended, crashing and carrying down the
loose rounds, so that when we got to the bottom we had cut off all
communication with Albino; he could not descend, and, what was quite as
inconvenient, we could not get back. It was now too late to reflect. We
told Albino to throw down our torches, and go back for Indians and rope
to haul us out. In the mean time we moved on by a broken, winding
passage, and, at the distance of about two hundred feet, came to the
top of a ladder eight feet long, at the foot of which we entered a low
and stifling passage; and crawling along this on our hands and feet, at
the distance of about three hundred feet we came to a rocky basin full
of water. Before reaching it one of our torches had gone out, and the
other was then expiring. From the best calculation I can make, which is
not far out of the way, we were then fourteen hundred feet from the
mouth of the cave, and at a perpendicular depth of four hundred and
fifty feet. As may be supposed from what the reader already knows of
these wells, we were black with smoke, grimed with dirt, and dripping
with perspiration. Water was the most pleasant spectacle that could
greet our eyes; but it did not satisfy us to drink it only, we wanted a
more thorough benefit. Our expiring torch warned us to forbear, for in
the dark we might never be able to find our way back to upper earth;
but, trusting that if we did not reappear in the course of the week Mr.
Catherwood would come to the rescue, we whipped off our scanty covering
and stepped into the pool. It was just large enough to prevent us from
interfering with each other, and we achieved a bath which perhaps, no
white man ever before took at that depth under ground.

The Indians call this basin Chacka, which means agua colorado, or red
water; but this we did not know at the time, and we did not discover
it, for to economize our torch we avoided flaring it, and it lay on the
rock like an expiring brand, admonishing us that it was better not to
rely wholly upon our friends in the world above, and that it would be
safer to look out for ourselves. Hurrying out, we made a rapid toilet,
and, groping our way back, with our torch just bidding us farewell, we
reached the foot of the broken ladder, and could go no farther. Albino
returned with Indians and ropes. We hauled ourselves up, and got back
to the open chamber from which the passages diverged; and here the
Indians pointed out another, which we followed till it became lower
than any we had yet explored; and, according to Doctor Cabot's
measurement, at the distance of four hundred and one paces, by mine,
three hundred and ninety-seven, we came to another basin of water.
This, as we afterward learned, is called Pucuelha, meaning that it ebbs
and flows like the sea. The Indians say that it recedes with the south
wind, and increases with the northwest; and they add that when they go
to it silently they find water; but when they talk or make a noise the
water disappears. Perhaps it is not so capricious with white men, for
we found water, and did not approach it with sealed lips. The Indians
say, besides, that forty women once fainted in this passage, and that
now they do not allow the women to go to it alone. In returning we
turned off twice by branching passages and reached two other basins of
water; and when we got back to the foot of the great staircase
exhausted and almost worn out, we had the satisfaction of learning,
from friends who were waiting to hear our report, that there were seven
in all, and we had missed three. All have names given them by the
Indians, two of which I have already mentioned.

The third is called Sallab, which means a spring; the fourth Akahba, on
account of its darkness; the fifth Chocohá, from the circumstance of
its being always warm; the sixth Ociha, from being of a milky colour;
and the seventh Chimaisha, because it has insects called ais.

It was a matter of some regret that were were not able to mark such
peculiarities or differences as might exist in these waters, and
particularly that we were not provided with barometer and thermometer
to ascertain the relative heights and temperatures. If we had been at
all advised beforehand, we should at least have carried the latter with
us, but always in utter ignorance of what we were to encounter, our
great object was to be as free as possible from all encumbrances;
besides which, to tell the truth, we did some things in that country,
among which was the exploring of these caves, for our own satisfaction,
and without much regard to the claims of science. The surface of the
country is of transition or mountain limestone; and though almost
invariably the case in this formation, perhaps here to a greater extent
than anywhere else; it abounds in fissures and caverns, in which
springs burst forth suddenly, and streams pursue a subterranean course.
But the sources of the water and the geological formation of the
country were, at the moment, matters of secondary interest to us. The
great point was the fact, that from the moment when the wells in the
plaza fail, the whole village turns to this cave, and four or five
months in the year derives from this source its only supply. It was
not, as at Xcoch, this resort of a straggling Indian, nor, as at Chack,
of a small and inconsiderable rancho. It was the sole and only watering
place of one of the most thriving villages in Yucatan, containing a
population of seven thousand souls; and perhaps even this was surpassed
in wonder by the fact that, though for an unknown length of time, and
through a great portion of the year, files of Indians, men and women,
are going out every day with cantaros on their backs, and returning
with water, and though the fame of the Cueva of Bolonchen extends
throughout Yucatan, from the best information we could procure, not a
white man in the village had ever explored it.

We returned to the casa real, made a lavation, which we much needed,
and went over to the cura's to dine. If he had not reminded us
beforehand that it was Friday and Lent, we should not have discovered
it. In fact, we were not used to dainties, and perhaps the good cura
thought we had never dined before. It was not in nature to think of
moving that afternoon, and, besides, we were somewhat at a loss what to
do. The cura had unsettled our plans. He had made inquiries, and been
informed that there were no ruins at San Antonio, but only a cueva, and
we had had enough of these to last us for some time; moreover, he
advised us of other ruins, of which we had not heard before. These were
on the rancho of Santa Ana, belonging to his friend Don Antonio
Cerbera, the alcalde. Don Antonio had never seen them, but both he and
the cura said they intended to visit them; and they spoke particularly
of a casa cerrada, or closed house, which, as soon as the dry season
came on, they intended to visit con bombas, to blow it up! The cura was
so bent upon our visiting this place, that almost in spite of ourselves
we were turned in that direction.


                               CHAPTER IX.

Departure from Bolonchen.--Lose the Road.--Sugar Rancho.--A new
Section of Country.--Rancho of Santa Rosa.--Annoyance from
Fleas.--Visit to the Ruins of Labphak.--A lofty Structure.--Apartments,
&c.--Staircases.--Doorways.--Interesting Discovery.--Courtyard.--Square
Building on the second Terrace.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Oblong Building
on the third Terrace.--Colossal Figures and Ornaments.--Centre
Apartment.--Tokens of recent Occupation.--Ground Plan of the lower
Range of Apartments.--Sculptured Bas-reliefs.--Builders adapted their
Style to the Materials at Hand.--Abode at the Ruins.--Wants.--Moonlight
Scene.--Painting.--Circular Holes.--Range of
Buildings.--Staircases.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Rain.--Love of the

Early the next morning we resumed our journey. On leaving the village
we were soon again in the wilderness. Albino remained behind to
breakfast; we had not gone far before we came to a fork of the road,
and took one of the branches, by which we missed our way, and rode on
over a great plain covered with bushes above our horses' heads, the
path finally becoming so completely choked up that it was impossible to
continue. We turned back and took another; and, keeping as near as
possible, by the compass, what we understood to be the direction, came
out upon a muddy aguada, covered with weeds, and beyond this a sugar
rancho, the first we had seen in Yucatan, indicating that we were
entering a different section of country. We had escaped the region of
eternal stones, and the soil was rich and loamy. A league beyond this
we reached the rancho of Santa Rosa. It was a very rare thing in this
country to notice any place for its beauty of situation, but we were
struck with this, though perhaps its beauty consisted merely in
standing upon a slight elevation, and commanding a view of an open

The major domo was somewhat surprised at the object of our visit. The
ruins were about two leagues distant, but he had never seen them, and
had no great opinion of ruins generally. He immediately sent out,
however, to notify the Indians to be on the ground in the morning, and
during the evening he brought in one who was to be our guide. By way of
getting some idea of the ruins, we showed him some of Mr. Catherwood's
drawings, and asked him if his bore any resemblance to them. He looked
at them all attentively, and pointed to the blanks left for the
doorways as the points of resemblance; from his manner we got the
impression that we should have to thank the cura for a bootless visit.

The night at this rancho was a memorable one. We were so scourged by
fleas that sleep was impossible. Mr. Catherwood and Dr. Cabot resorted
to the Central American practice of sewing up the sheets into a bag,
and all night we were in a fever.

The next morning we started for the ruins of Labphak, taking care to
carry our luggage with, us, and not intending, under any circumstances,
to return. The major domo accompanied us. It was luxurious to ride on a
road free from stones. In an hour we entered a forest of fine trees,
and a league beyond found a party of Indians, who pointed us to a
narrow path just opened, wilder than anything we had yet travelled.
After following this some distance, the Indians stopped, and made signs
to us to dismount. Securing the horses, and again following the
Indians, in a few minutes we saw peering through the trees the white
front of a lofty building, which, in the imperfect view we had of it,
seemed the grandest we had seen in the country. It had three stories,
the uppermost consisting of a bare dead wall, without any doorways,
being, the Indians told us, the casa cerrada, or closed house, which
the cura and alcalde intended to open con bombas. The whole building,
with all its terraces, was overgrown with gigantic trees. The Indians
cutting a path along the front, we moved on from door to door, and
wandered through its desolate chambers. For the first time in the
country we found interior staircases, one of which was entire, every
step being in its place. The stones were worn, and we almost expected
to see the foot-prints of the former occupants. With hurried interest
we moved on till we reached the top. This commanded an extensive view
over a great wooded and desolate plain, to which the appearance of the
heavens gave at the moment an air of additional dreariness. The sky was
overcast, and portended the coming of another Norte. The wind swept
over the ruined building, so that in places we were obliged to cling to
the branches of the trees to save ourselves from falling. An eagle
stayed his flight through the air and hovered over our heads. At a
great height Doctor Cabot recognised it as one of a rare species, the
first which he had seen in the country, and stood with his gun ready,
hoping to carry it home with him as a memorial of the place; but the
proud bird soared away.

It seemed almost sacrilege to disturb the repose in which this building
lay, and to remove its burial shroud, but soon, amid the ringing of the
axe and machete, and the crash of falling trees, this feeling wore
away. We had thirty Indians, who, working under the direction of the
major domo, were equal to forty or fifty in our hands, and there was
the most glorious excitement I had experienced in walking along these
terraces, with Albino and the major domo to convey my directions to the
Indians. Indeed, I can hardly imagine a higher excitement than to go
through that country with a strong force, time, and means at command,
to lay bare the whole region in which so many ruined cities are now

In the mean time Mr. Catherwood, still an invalid, and deprived of
sleep the night before, had his hammock slung in an apartment at the
top of the building. By afternoon the clearing was finished, and he
made his drawing, which appears in the engraving opposite.

[Engraving 27: A grand Structure]

The lowest range or story is one hundred and forty-five feet in length.
The roof and a portion of the façade have fallen, and almost buried the
centre doorways. The apartments containing the staircases are indicated
in a plan hereinafter presented. Each staircase consists of two
flights, with a platform at the head of the first, which forms the foot
of the second, and they lead out upon the roof, under the projection
which stands like a watch-tower in the wall of the second range, and
from this range two interior staircases lead out in the same way to the
platform of the third.

The reader will observe that in the second and third ranges there are
no openings of any kind except those at the head of the staircases, but
simply a plain, solid wall. At first sight of this wall we thought we
had really at last found a casa cerrada, and almost wished for the cura
with his bombas. The major domo, looking up at it, called it so; but it
seemed strange that such a character had ever been ascribed to it; for,
barely working our way round the platform of the terrace, we found
ranges of doorways opening into apartments, and that this was merely
what we had often seen before, a back wall without doors or windows.
And we made another much more interesting and important discovery. The
elevation which we came upon first, facing the west, and shown in the
engraving, noble and majestic as it was, was actually the rear of the
building, and the front, facing the east, presented the tottering
remains of the grandest structure that now rears its ruined head in the
forests of Yucatan.

In front was a grand courtyard, with ranges of ruined buildings,
forming a hollow square, and in the centre a gigantic staircase rose
from the courtyard to the platform of the third story. On the platform
of the second terrace, at each end, stood a high square building like a
tower, with the remains of rich ornaments in stucco; and on the
platform of the third, at the head of the grand staircase, one on each
side of it, stood two oblong buildings, their façades adorned with
colossal figures and ornaments in stucco, seemingly intended as a
portal to the structure on the top. In ascending the grand staircase,
cacique, priest, or stranger had before him this gorgeously ornamented
portal, and passed through it to enter the centre apartment of the
upper story.

This apartment, however, does not correspond with the grandeur of the
approach, and, according to our understanding of proprieties, the view
of it is attended with disappointment. It is twenty-three feet long,
only five feet six inches wide, and perfectly plain, without painting
or ornament of any kind. But in this lofty chamber were strange
memorials, tokens of recent occupation, indicating, amid the desolation
and solitude around, that within a few years this ruined edifice, from
which the owners had perhaps fled in terror, or been driven by the
sword, had been the refuge and abode of man. In the holes of the
archway were poles for the support of hammocks, and at each end were
swinging shelves made of twigs and rods. When the cholera swept like a
scourge over this isolated country, the inhabitants of the villages and
ranchos fled for safety to the mountains and the wilderness. This
desolate building was repeopled, this lofty chamber was the abode of
some scared and stricken family, and here, amid hardships and
privations, they waited till the angel of death passed by.

The engraving which follows represents the ground-plan of the lower
range. It consists of ranges of narrow apartments on all four of the
sides, opening outward, and the reader will see that it has fitness,
and uniformity of design and proportion. The grand staircase, forty
feet wide, is indicated in the engraving. The interior, represented in
blank, forms the foundation for the support of the two upper ranges. It
is cut off and enclosed on all sides by the inner wall, has no
communication with any of the apartments, and is apparently a solid
mass. Whether it really is solid or contains apartments, remains, as in
other structures of the same kind, a question for the investigation of
future explorers. Under the circumstances attending our visit, we were
utterly unable to attempt anything of the kind.

[Engraving 28: Ground Plan]

The reader will notice in the plan two places marked "sculptured
bas-reliefs." In these places are carved tablets set in the wall, as at
Palenque, and, except at Palenque, this was the only place in all our
wanderings in which we found bas-reliefs thus disposed. We were now
moving in the direction of Palenque, though, of course, at a great
distance from it; the face of the country was less stony, and the
discovery of these bas-reliefs, and the increase and profusion of
stuccoed ornaments, induced, the impression that, in getting beyond the
great limestone surface, the builders of these cities had adapted their
style to the materials at hand, until, at Palenque, instead of putting
up great façades of rudely-carved stone, they decorated the exterior
with ornaments in stucco, and, having fewer carved ornaments, bestowed
upon them more care and skill.

[Engraving 29: Bas-reliefs]

The plate opposite represents the bas-reliefs referred to. Though
resembling those at Palenque in general character and detail of
ornament, they are greatly inferior in design and execution. Standing
in the outer wall, they are much defaced and worn; the tablets on the
south, both in the drawing and Daguerreotype view, presented a confused
appearance. Both were composed of separate stones; but the subjects on
the different pieces appeared, in some cases, to want adaptation to
each other, and almost suggested the belief that they were fragments of
other tablets, put together without much regard to design of any kind.

Night was almost upon us when Albino inquired in what apartment he
should hang up our hammocks. In the interest of our immediate
occupations we had not thought of this; a buzzing in the woods gave
ominous warning of moschetoes, and we inclined to the highest range;
but it was unsafe to carry our things up, or to move about the broken
terraces in the dark. We selected, as the most easy of access, the
rooms indicated in the engraving by the second doorway on the left,
which, as the reader may see, was partly encumbered in front by the
ruins of the façade on the right. We secured the doorway against
moschetoes with the black muslin used for the Daguerreotype tent. The
kitchen was established in the corner room, and as soon as all was
arranged we called in the servants, and associated them with us in an
interesting and extraordinary sitting, as a committee of ways and
means. The horses were well provided for in the way of green food, for
many of the trees cut down were noble ramons, but there was neither
corn nor water, and we were equally destitute ourselves. Except our
staple stock of ten, coffee, chocolate, and a few rolls of Bolonchen
bread (like all the bread of that country, sweetened, and only made to
be used with chocolate), we had nothing. Morning would break upon us
without materials for a breakfast. Summary measures were necessary, and
I went out to consult with the major domo and the Indians. They had
made a clearing near the horses, had their hammocks swung under the
trees, and a large fire in the centre. All vacated their hammocks, and
were docile as doves until I mentioned the necessity of sending
immediately for provisions. Completely the creatures of habit, used to
ending their labours with the sun, and then to gossip and repose, they
could not bear to be disturbed. Money was no object to them; and but
for the major domo I should not have been able to accomplish anything.
He selected two, each of whom was intrusted with part of the
commission, as one could not remember all the items, and a written
memorandum would, of course, be of no use. There was one article, the
procuring of which was doubtful, and that was an olla, or earthen pot,
for cooking; no Indian had more than one in his hut, and that was
always in use. Our messengers were instructed to buy, hire, or beg, or
get in any other way their ingenuity might suggest, but not to come
back without one.

Relieved in this important matter, the encampment under the trees, with
the swarthy figures of the Indians lighted by the fire, presented a
fine spectacle, and, but for the apprehension of moschetoes, I should
have been tempted to hang up my hammock among them. As I returned, the
moon was beaming magnificently over the clearing, lighting up the
darkness of the woods, and illuminating the great white building from
its foundation to the summit.

We had some apprehensions for the night. My hammock was swung in the
front apartment. Directly over my head, in the layer of flat stones
along the arch, was the dim outline of a faded red painting like that
first seen at Kewick. On the walls were the prints of the mysterious
red hand, and around were the tokens of recent occupation before
referred to, adding strength to the reflection always pressing upon our
minds, what tales of fear and wonder these old walls, could they speak,
might disclose. We had a large fire built in one corner of the
apartment, but we heard no moschetoes, and there were no fleas. During
the night we all woke up at the same moment, only to congratulate each
other and enjoy the consciousness of feeling ourselves free from these
little nuisances.

Our first business the next morning was to send our horses off to
drink, and to procure water for ourselves, for the Indians had
exhausted all that was found in the hollows of the rocks. At eleven
o'clock our emissaries returned with fowls, tortillas, and an olla, the
last of which they had hired for a medio, but for that day only.

Except a small ruined structure which we passed on the way to this
building, as yet we had seen only this one with the ranges around the
courtyard. It was clear that it did not stand alone; but we were so
completely buried in the woods that it was utterly impossible to know
which way to turn in search of others. In making our clearing we had
stumbled upon two circular holes, like those found at Uxmal, which the
Indians called chuhunes, or cisterns, and which they said existed in
all parts, and Doctor Cabot, in pursuit of a bird, had found a range of
buildings at but a short distance, disconnected from each other, and
having their façades ornamented with stucco.

Going out to the path from which we had turned off to reach this
edifice, and proceeding upon it a short distance, we saw through the
trees the corner of a large building, which proved to be a great
parallelogram, enclosing a hollow square. In the centre of the front
range a grand but ruined staircase ascended from the ground to the top
of the building and, crossing the flat roof, we found a corresponding
staircase leading down into the courtyard. The richest ornaments were
on the side facing the courtyard, being of stucco and on each side of
the staircase were some of new and curious design, but, unfortunately,
they were all in a ruinous condition. The whole courtyard was
overgrown, so that the buildings facing it were but indistinctly
visible, and in some places not at all.

In the afternoon the wind increased to a regular Norther, and at night
all the Indians were driven in by the rain.

The next day the rain continued, and the major domo left us, taking
with him nearly all the Indians. This put an end to the clearing, Mr.
Catherwood had a recurrence of fever, and in the intervals of sunshine
Dr. Cabot and myself worked with the Daguerreotype.

In the mean time, from the difficulty of procuring water and
necessaries, we found our residence at these ruins uncomfortable. Our
Indians, whom we had engaged to carry our luggage, complained of the
detention, and, to crown our troubles, the owner of the olla came, and
insisted upon having it returned. Mr. Catherwood, too, was unable to
work, the woods were wet with the rain, and we considered it advisable
to change the scene. There is no place which we visited that we were so
reluctant to leave unfinished, and none that better deserved a month's
exploration. It remains a rich and almost unbroken field for the future
explorer, and, that he may have something to excite his imagination,
and, at the same time, to show that the love of the marvellous is not
confined to any one country, I may add that, upon the strength of a
letter of mine to a friend in the interior, giving an account of the
discovery of this place, and mentioning the vestiges of six buildings,
we found, on our return to Merida, that these six had gone on
accumulating, and had not been fairly brought to a stop till they had
reached six hundred!

                               CHAPTER X.

Departure from Labphak.--Sugar Ranchos.--Hacienda of
Jalasac.--Cultivation of Sugar.--Another Rancho.--Its neat
Appearance.--Señor Trego's Establishment.--A Well.--Seybo
Trees.--Journey resumed.--Village of Iturbide.--Its Settlement and
rapid Growth.--An Acquaintance.--Oppressive Attentions.--Lunar
Rainbow.--Appearance of the Village.--Mound of Ruins.--Visit to the
Ruins of Zibilnocac.--A Well.--A long Edifice.--Lazy Escort.--An
anxious Host.--Return to the Village.--A prosperous Emigrant.--A
Dinner.--Medical Practice.--Deplorable Condition of the Country in
regard to Medical Aid.--Second Visit to the Ruins.--Front of an
Edifice.--Square Structures.--Interesting Painting.--An ancient
Well.--Mounds.--Vestiges of a great City.

On Thursday, the twenty-fourth of February, we broke up and left the
ruins. A narrow path brought us out into the camino real, along which
we passed several small ranchos of sugar-cane. At eleven o'clock we
reached the hacienda of Jalasac, the appearance of which, after a few
days' burial in the woods, was most attractive and inviting; and here
we ventured to ask for water for our horses. The master made us
dismount, sent our horses to an aguada, and had some oranges picked
from the tree, sliced, and sprinkled with sugar, for ourselves. He told
us that his establishment was nothing compared with Señor Trego's, a
league distant, whom, he said, we, of course, knew, and would doubtless
stop with a few days. Not remembering ever to have heard of Señor Trego
before, we had not formed unalterably any such intention, but it was
manifest that all the world, and we in particular, ought to know Señor
Trego; and we concluded that we would do him the honour of a visit as
we passed through. This gentleman had forty criados, or servants,
engaged in making sugar. And, on entering the sugar region, I may
suggest that Yucatan seems to present some advantages for the
cultivation of this necessary; not in the interior, on account of the
expense of transportation, but along the coast, the whole line from
Campeachy to Tobasco being good for that purpose, and within reach of a
foreign market. The advantages are, first, that slave labour is
dispensed with, and, secondly and consequently, no outlay of capital is
necessary for the purchase of slaves. In Cuba or Louisiana the planter
must reckon among his expenses the interest upon the capital invested
in the purchase of slaves, and the cost of maintaining them. In Yucatan
he has to incur no outlay of capital; Indian labour is considered by
those who have examined into the subject in Cuba, as about the same
with that of the negroes; and by furnishing them constant employment,
Indians can be procured in any numbers at a real per day, which is less
than the interest upon the cost of a negro, and less than the expense
of maintaining him if he cost nothing.

Resuming our journey, at the distance of a league we reached another
rancho, which would have been creditable in any country for its
neatness and arrangement. Our road ran through a plaza, or square, with
large seybo trees in the centre, and neat white houses on all the
sides; and before the door of one of them we saw a horse and cart! an
evidence of civilization which we had not seen till that time in the
country. This could be no other than Señor Trego's. We stopped in the
shade, Señor Trego came out of the principal house, told the servants
to take our horses, and said he had been expecting us several days. We
were a little surprised, but, as we were very uncertain about our
chances for a dinner, we said nothing. Entering the house, we fell into
fine large hammocks; and Señor Trego told us that we were welcome on
our own account, even without the recommendation of the padre Rodriguez
of Xul. This gave us a key to the mystery. The padre Rodriguez had
given us a letter to some one on this road, which we had accidentally
left behind, and did not know the name of the person to whom it was
addressed; but we now remembered that the cura, in speaking of him, had
said deliberately, as if feeling the full import of his words, that he
was rich and his friend; and we remembered, too, that the padre had
frankly read to us the letter before giving it, in which, not to
compromise himself with a rich friend, he had recommended us as worthy
of Señor Trego's best offices upon our paying all costs and expenses;
but we had reason to believe that the honest padre had reversed the
custom of more polished lands, and that his private advices had given a
liberal interpretation to his cautious open recommendation. At all
events, Señor Trego made us feel at once that there was to be no
reserve in his hospitality; and when he ordered some lemonade to be
brought in immediately, we did not hesitate to suggest the addition of
two fowls boiled, with a little rice thrown in.

While these were in preparation, Señor Trego conducted us round to look
at his establishment. He had large sugar-works, and a distillery for
the manufacture of habanera; and in the yard of the latter was a
collection of enormous black hogs, taking a siesta in a great pool of
mud, most of them with their snouts barely above water, a sublime
spectacle for one interested in their lard and tallow, and Señor Trego
told us that in the evening a hundred more, quite equal to these, would
come in to scramble for their share of the bed. To us the principal
objects of interest were in the square, being a well, covered over and
dry, dug nearly to the depth of six hundred feet without reaching
water, and the great seybo trees, which had been planted by Señor Trego
himself; the oldest being of but twelve years' growth, and more
extraordinary for its rapid luxuriance than that before referred to as
existing at Ticul.

At four o'clock we resumed our journey, and toward dark, passing some
miserable huts in the suburbs, we reached the new village of Iturbide,
standing on the outposts of civilization, the great point to which the
tide of emigration was rolling, the Chicago of Yucatan.

The reader may not consider the country through which we have been
travelling as over-burdened with population, but in certain parts,
particularly in the district of Nohcacab, the people did so consider
it. Crowded and oppressed by the large landed proprietors, many of the
enterprising yeomanry of this district determined to seek a new home in
the wilderness. Bidding farewell to friends and relatives, after a
journey of two days and a half they reached the fertile plains of
Zibilnocac, from time immemorial an Indian rancho. Here the soil
belonged to the government; every man could take up what land he
pleased, full scope was offered to enterprise, and an opportunity for
development not afforded by the over-peopled region of Nohcacab. Long
before reaching it we had heard of this new pueblo and its rapid
increase. In five years, from twenty-five inhabitants it had grown into
a population of fifteen or sixteen hundred; and, familiar as we were
with new countries and the magical springing up of cities in the
wilderness, we looked forward to it as a new object of curiosity and

The approach was by a long street, at the head of which, and in the
entrance to the plaza, we saw a gathering, which in that country seemed
a crowd, giving an indication of life and activity not usual in the
older villages; but drawing nearer, we noticed that the crowd was
stationary, and, on reaching it, we found that, according to an
afternoon custom, all the principal inhabitants were gathered around a
card-table, playing monte; rather a bad symptom, but these hardy
pioneers exhibited one good trait of character in their close attention
to the matter in hand. They gave us a passing glance and continued the
game. Hanging on the outskirts of the crowd, however, were some who,
not having the wherewithal to join in the stakes, bestowed themselves
upon us. Among them was one who claimed us as acquaintances, and said
that he had been anxiously looking for us. He had kept the "run" of us
as far as Bolonchen, but had then lost us entirely, and was relieved
when we accounted for ourselves by mentioning our disappearance in the
woods of Labphak. This gentleman was about fifty, dressed in the light
costume of the place, with straw hat and sandals, and it was no great
recommendation to him when he told us that he had made our acquaintance
at Nohcacab. He was an emigrant from that place, and on a visit when he
saw us there. He claimed Dr. Cabot more particularly as his friend,
and the latter remembered receiving from him some really friendly
offices. He apologized for not being able to show us many attentions at
that place; it was his pueblo, but he had no house there; this was his
home, and here he could make amends. He told us that this was a new
village, and had but few accommodations; the casa real had no doors, or
they were not yet put on. He undertook to provide for us, however, and
conducted us to a house adjoining that of his brother, and belonging to
the latter, on the corner of the plaza. It had a thatched roof, and
perhaps, by this time, the floor is cemented; but then it was covered
with the lime and earth for making the cement, taking a good impression
from every footstep, and throwing up some dust. It was, however,
already in use as a store-room for the shop on the corner, and had
demijohns, water-jars, and bundles of tobacco stowed along the wall;
the middle was vacant, but there was no chair, bench, or table; but by
an energetic appeal to the lookers-on these were obtained.

Our Nohcacab friend was most efficient in his attentions, and, in fact,
constituted himself a committee to receive us; and after repeating
frequently that at Nohcacab, though it was his village, he had no
house, &c., he came to the point by inviting us forthwith to his house
to take chocolate.

Tired of the crowd, and wanting to be alone, we declined, and unluckily
assigned as a reason that we had ordered chocolate to be prepared. He
went away with the rest, but very soon returned, and said that we had
given him a bofetada, or rebuff, and had cheapened him in the
estimation of his people. As he seemed really hurt, we directed our
preparations to be discontinued, and went with him to his house, where
we had a cup of very poor chocolate, which he followed up by telling us
that we must eat at his house during the whole of our stay in the
village, and that we must not spend a cent for la comida, or food. Our
daily expenses at Nohcacab, he said, were enormous; and when we left he
escorted us home, carrying with him a little earthen vessel containing
castor oil with a wick in it, and said we must not spend any money for
candles, and again came to the point by insisting upon our promising to
dine at his house the next day.

In the mean time Albino had inquired him out, and we found that we had
secured a valuable acquaintance. Don Juan was one of the oldest
settlers, and one of the most influential inhabitants. He was not then
in public office, but he was highly connected. One of his brothers was
first alcalde, and another keeper of the gambling-table.

We considered his attentions for the evening at an end, but in a short
time he entered abruptly, and with a crowd at his heels. This time he
was really welcome, for he called us out to look at a lunar rain bow,
which the people, looking at it in connexion with our visit and its
strange objects, considered rather ominous, and Don Juan himself was
not entirely at ease; but it did not disturb the gentlemen around the
gambling-table, who had, in the mean time, to avoid the night air,
moved under the shed of the proprietor, Don Juan's brother and our

The next morning a short time enabled us to see all the objects of
interest in the new village of Iturbide. Five years before the plough
had ran over the ground now occupied by the plaza, or, more literally,
as the plough is not known in Yucatan, the plaza is on the ground
formerly occupied by an old milperia, or cornfield. In those ancient
days it was probably enclosed by a bush fence; now, at one corner rises
a thatched house, with an arbour before it, and a table under the
arbour, at which, perhaps, at this moment the principal inhabitants are
playing monte. Opposite, on the other corner, stood, and still stands
if it has not fallen down, a casa de paja (thatched house) from which
the thatching had been blown away, and in which were the undisposed-of
remains of an ox for sale. Along the sides were whitewashed huts, and
on one corner a large, neat house, belonging to our friend Señor Trego;
then a small edifice with a cross in the roof, marking it as a church;
and, finally, an open casa publica, very aptly so called, as it had no
doors. Such are the edifices which in five years have sprung up in the
new village of Iturbide; and attached to each house was a muddy yard,
where large black pigs were wallowing in the mire, the special objects
of their owner's care, soon to become large black hogs, and to bring
ten or twelve dollars a piece in the Campeachy market. But, interesting
as it is to watch the march of improvement, it was not for these we had
come to Iturbide. Within the plaza were memorials of older and better
times, indications of a more ingenious people than the civilized whites
by whom it is now occupied. At one end was a mound of ruins, which had
once supported an ancient building; and in the centre was an ancient
well, unchanged from the time of its construction, and then, as for an
unknown length of time before, supplying water to the inhabitants.
There could be no question about the antiquity of this well; the people
all said that it was a work of the antiguos, and paid respect to it and
valued it highly on that account, for it had saved them the labour and
expense of digging a new one for themselves.

It was about a yard and a quarter wide at the month, and seven or eight
yards in depth, circular, and constructed of stones laid without
plaster or cement of any kind. The stones were all firmly in their
places, and had a polish which with creases made by ropes in the
platform at the top, indicated the great length of time that water had
been drawn from it.

Besides these memorials, from a street communicating with the plaza we
saw a range of great mounds, the ruins of the ancient city of
Zibilnocac, which had brought us to Iturbide.

Don Juan was ready to accompany us to the ruins, and while he was
waiting at our door, one person and another came along and joined him,
until we had an assemblage of all the respectable citizens, apparently
just risen from the gambling-table, of wan and miserable aspect, and,
though they had ponchas wrapped about them, shivering with cold.

On the way to the ruins we passed another ancient well, of the same
construction with that in the plaza, but filled up with rubbish, and
useless. The Indians called it Stu-kum, from a subject familiar to
them, and presenting not a bad idea of a useless well; the word meaning
a calabash with the seeds dried up. A short walk brought us into an
open country, and among the towering ruins of another ancient city. The
field was in many places clear of trees, and covered only with
plantations of tobacco, and studding it all over were lofty ranges and
mounds, enshrouded in woods, through which white masses of stone were
glimmering, and rising in such quick succession, and so many at once,
that Mr. Catherwood, in no good condition for work, said, almost
despondingly, that the labours of Uxmal were to begin again.

Among them was one long edifice, having at each end what seemed a
tower; and, attended by our numerous escort, we approached it first. It
was difficult to imagine what could have procured us the honour of
their company. They evidently took no interest in the ruins, could give
us no information about them, nor even knew the paths that led to them;
and we could not flatter ourselves that it was for the pleasure of our
society. The building before us was more ruined than it seemed from a
distance, but in some respects it differed from all the others we had
seen. It required much clearing; and when this was signified to our
attendants, we found that among them all there was not a single
machete. Generally, on these occasions, there were some who were ready
to work, and even on the look-out for a job; but among these thriving
people there was not one who cared to labour in any capacity but that
of a looker-on. A few, however, were picked out as by general consent
the proper persons to work, upon whom all the rest fell and drove them
to the village for their machetes. At the same time, many of those who
remained took advantage of the opportunity to order their breakfast
sent out, and all sat down to wait. Mr. Catherwood, already unwell,
worried by their chattering, lay down in his poncha on the ground, and
finally became so ill that he returned to the house. In the mean time I
went to the foot of the building, where, after loitering more than an
hour, I heard a movement overhead, and saw a little boy of about
thirteen cutting among the branches of a tree. Half a dozen men placed
themselves within his hearing, and gave him directions to such an
extent that I was obliged to tell them I was competent to direct one
such lad myself. In a little while another lad of about fifteen joined
him, and for some time these boys were the only persons at work, while
lazy beggars were crouching on every projecting stone, industriously
engaged in looking at them. Finally, one man came along with his
machete, and then others, until five were at work. They were occupied
the greater part of the day, but to the last there were some trees,
obstructing the view of particular parts, which I could not get cut
down. All this time the spectators remained looking on as if in
expectation of some grand finale; toward the last they began to show
symptoms of anxiety, and during this time, through the unintentional
instrumentality of Don Juan, I had made a discovery. The fame of the
Daguerreotype, or la machina, had reached their ears, greatly
exaggerated. They, of course, knew but little about it, but had come
out with the expectation of seeing its miraculous powers exercised. If
the reader be at all malicious, he will sympathize in my satisfaction,
when all was cleared and ready to be drawn, in paying the men and
walking back to the village, leaving them sitting on the stones.

The untoward circumstances of the morning threw Don Juan into a
somewhat anxious state; he had incurred the expense of preparations,
and was uncertain whether we intended to do him the honour of dining
with him; apprehensive of another bofetada, he was afraid to mention
the subject, but on reaching his house he sent to give notice that
dinner was ready, and to inquire when he should send it to us. To make
amends, and again conciliate, we answered that we would dine at his
house, which he acknowledged through Albino as a much higher honour.

His house was on the principal street, but a short distance from the
plaza, and one of the first erected, and the best in the place. He had
been induced to settle in Iturbide on account of the facilities and
privileges offered by the government, and the privilege which he seemed
to value most was that of selling out. As he told us himself, when he
came he was not worth a medio, and he seemed really to have held his
own remarkably well. But appearances were deceitful, for he was a man
of property. His house, including doors and a partition at one end, had
cost him thirty dollars. The doors and partition his neighbours
regarded as a piece of pretension, and he himself supposed that these
might have been dispensed with, but he had no children, and did not
mind the expense. At one end of the room was a rude frame, supporting
the image of a tutelary saint. Near it was a stick thrust into the mud
floor, with three prongs at the upper end, in which rested an earthen
vessel containing castor oil, with a wick in it, to light up the
mansion at night; a sort of bar with bottles containing agua ardiente
flavoured with anise, for retailing to the Indians, which, with a small
table and three hammocks, constituted the furniture of Don Juan's
house. These last served for chairs, but as he had never anticipated
the extraordinary event of dining three persons, they could not be
brought into right juxtaposition to the table. Consequently, we sent
for our two borrowed chairs, and, with the table in front of one of the
hammocks, we were all seated except our host, who proposed to wait
upon us. There was one aristocratic arrangement in Don Juan's
household. His kitchen was on the other side of the street, a rickety
old frame of poles, and Don Juan, after running across several times,
bare-headed, to watch the progress of the dinner, returned and threw
himself into a hammock a little within the doorway, crying out across
the street, "Trae la comida, muchacha." "Bring the dinner, girl." The
first course included a bowl of soup, a plate of rice, and three
spoons; rather an alarming intimation, but at the same time rather
grand, and much better than the alternative that sometimes happened, of
three plates and one spoon, or none at all; and all apprehension was
dissipated by the reappearance of the girl with another bowl and plate.
Don Juan himself followed with each hand full, and we had a bowl,
plate, and spoon apiece. The contents disposed of, another dish was
served, which, by counting the wings and legs, we ascertained to be the
substance of two fowls; and while attending to them, we were engaged in
the friendly office, which guests but rarely do for their host, of
calculating the expense he was incurring. We had too good an opinion of
Don Juans shrewdness to believe that he was making this lavish
expenditure in mere wantonness, and wondered what he could expect to
get out of us in return. We had hardly begun to speculate upon this
when, as if knowing what was passing in our minds, he called in his
wife, a respectable-looking elderly person, and disclosed another
design upon the Daguerreotype. At Nohcacab he had heard of portraits
being taken, and wanted one of his wife, and he was somewhat
disappointed, and, perhaps, went over the calculation we had just made,
when he learned that, as there were no subjects on which it could be
used to advantage we had determined not to open the apparatus.

But he did not let us off yet. His next attempt was upon Dr. Cabot, and
this, too, was in favour of his old wife. Taking her by the hand, he
led her before the doctor, and, with an earnestness that gave dignity
to his scanty wearing apparel, and ought to have found its way to the
depths of medical science, explained the nature of her maladies. It was
really a delicate case, and made more so by the length of time that had
elapsed since marriage. No such case had ever occurred in my practice,
and even Doctor Cabot was at a loss.

While the matter was under discussion several men came in. No doubt
they had all received a hint to drop in at that hour. One had an
asthma, another a swelling, and there were so many of Don Juan's
friends afflicted that we made an abrupt retreat.

In the evening Don Juan's brother, the alcalde, called upon Dr. Cabot
for advice for a sick child, which the course he was pursuing would
soon have put beyond the reach of medicine. Doctor Cabot made him
desist, and in the morning it was so much better that all the people
conceived a good opinion of his abilities, and determined to patronise
him in earnest.

The condition of the whole country in regard to medical aid is
deplorable. Except at Campeachy and Merida there are no regular
physicians, nor even apothecaries' shops. In the villages where there
are curas, the whole duty of attending the sick devolves upon them.
They have, of course, no regular medical education, but practise upon
some old treatise or manuscript recipes, and even in their small
practice they are trammelled by want of medicines. But in villages
where there are no curas, there is no one to prescribe for the sick.
The rich go to Campeachy or Merida, and put themselves under the hands
of a physician; the poor linger and die, the victims of ignorance and

Dr. Cabot's fame as a curer of biscos had spread throughout the
country, and whenever we reached a village there was a curiosity, which
threw Mr. Catherwood and me into the shade, to see the medico.
Frequently we overheard the people say, "Tan joven," "So young:" "Es
muchacho," "He is a boy;" for they associated the idea of age with
that of a great medico. He was often consulted upon cases for which he
could not prescribe with any satisfaction. Treatment which might be
proper at the moment might not answer a few days afterward, and the
greatest annoyance was that, if our travelling chest could not furnish
the medicine, the prescription had to wait an opportunity of being sent
to Merida; but when the medicine arrived, the case might have altered
so much that this medicine had become altogether improper for it. It is
gratifying to know that, in general, his practice gave satisfaction,
yet, at the same time, it must be admitted that there were complaints.
The terms could not well have been made easier, but the ground of
dissatisfaction was, that he did not always furnish medicine as well as
advice. I do not mention this reproachfully, however; throughout the
country he had a fair share of patronage, and the run reached its
climax at Iturbide. Unluckily, the day on which the inhabitants
resolved to take him up in earnest it rained, and we were kept nearly
all the time within doors, and there were so many applications from
men, women, and children, many of whom came with Don Juan's
recommendation, that the doctor was seriously annoyed. Every latent
disease was brought out, and he could even have found business in
prescribing for cases that might possibly occur, as well as for those
already existing.

The next morning Mr. Catherwood made an effort to visit the ruins. Our
numerous escort of the former occasion were all missing, and, except an
Indian who had a tobacco patch in the neighbourhood, we were entirely
alone. This Indian held an umbrella over Mr. Catherwood's head to
protect him from the sun, and, while making the drawing, several times
he was obliged by weakness to lie down and rest. I was disheartened by
the spectacle. Although, considering the extent of illness in our
party, we had in reality not lost much time, we had been so much
embarrassed, and it was so disagreeable to be moving along with this
constant liability to fever and ague, that here I felt very much
disposed to break up the expedition and go home, but Mr. Catherwood

[Engraving 30: Building at Zibilnocac]

The plate opposite represents the front of this building. It is one
hundred and fifty-four feet in front and twenty feet seven inches in
depth. It differed in form from any we had seen and had square
structures rising in the centre and at each end, as seen in ruins in
the engraving; these were called towers, and at a distance had that
appearance. The façades of the towers were all ornamented with
sculptured stone. Several of the apartments had tobacco leaves spread
out in them to dry. In the centre, one apartment was encumbered with
rubbish, cutting off the light from the door, but in the obscurity we
saw on one of the stones, along the layer in the arch, the dim outline
of a painting like that at Kewick; in the adjoining apartment were the
remains of paintings, the most interesting, except those near the
village of Xul, that we had met with in the country and, like those, in
position and general effect reminding me of processions in Egyptian
tombs. The colour of the flesh was red, as was always the case with the
Egyptians in representing their own people. Unfortunately, they were
too much mutilated to be drawn, and seemed surviving the general wreck
only to show that these aboriginal builders had possessed more skill in
the least enduring branch of the graphic art.

The first accounts we heard of these ruins date back to the time of my
first visit to Nohpat. Among the Indians there at work was one who,
while we were lunching, sitting apart under a tree, mentioned these
ruins in exaggerated terms, particularly a row of painted soldiers, as
he called them, which, from his imperfect description, I supposed might
bear some resemblance to the stuccoed figures on the fronts of the
buildings at Palenque; but, on pushing my inquiries, he said these
figures carried muskets, and was so pertinacious on this point that I
concluded he was either talking entirely at random, or of the remains
of old Spanish structures. I noted the place in my memorandum-book, and
having had it for a long time upon our minds, and received more
different accounts of it than of any other, none proved more unlike
what we expected to find. We looked for few remains, but these
distinguished for their beauty and ornament, and high state of
preservation, instead of which we found an immense field, grand,
imposing, and interesting from its vastness, but all so ruined that,
with the exception of this one building, little of the detail could be

Back of this building, or, rather, on the other front, was a thriving
tobacco patch, the only thriving thing we saw at Iturbide; and on the
border another ancient well, now, as in ages past, furnishing water,
and from which the Indian attending the tobacco patch gave us to drink.
Beyond were towering mounds and vestiges, indicating the existence of a
greater city than any we had yet encountered. In wandering among them
Dr. Cabot and myself counted thirty-three, all of which had once held
buildings aloft. The field was so open that they were all comparatively
easy of access, but the mounds themselves were overgrown. I clambered
up them till the work became tiresome and unprofitable; they were all,
as the Indians said, puras piedras, pure stones; no buildings were
left; all had fallen; and though, perhaps, more than at any other
place, happy that it was our fortune to wander among these crumbling
memorials of a once powerful and mysterious people, we almost mourned
that our lot had not been cast a century sooner, when, as we believed,
all these edifices were entire.

                               CHAPTER XI.

End of Journey in this Direction.--Lake of Peten.--Probable Existence
of Ruins in the Wilderness.--Islands in the Lake of Peten.--Peten
Grande.--Mission of two Monks.--Great Idol of the Figure of a
Horse.--Broken by the Monks, who in Consequence are obliged to
leave the Island.--Second Mission of the Monks.--Sent away by
the Indians.--Expedition of Don Martin Ursua.--Arrival at the
Island.--Attacked by the Indians, who are defeated.--Don Martin takes
Possession of Itza.--Temples and Idols of the Indians.--Destroyed
by the Spaniards.--Flight of the Indians into the
Wilderness.--Preparations.--Illness of Mr. Catherwood.--Effects of
Gambling.--From the Church to the Gaming-table.--How People live at
Iturbide.--Departure.--Rancho of Noyaxche.

Our journey in this direction is now ended. We were on the frontier of
the inhabited part of Yucatan, and within a few leagues of the last
village. Beyond was a wilderness, stretching off to the Lake of Peten,
and that region of Lacandones or unbaptized Indians, in which,
according to the suggestion made in my previous volumes, lay that
mysterious city never reached by a white man, but still occupied by
Indians precisely in the same state as before the discovery of America.
During my sojourn in Yucatan, my account of this city was published in
one of the Merida papers, and among intelligent persons there was a
universal belief that beyond the Lake of Peten there was a region of
unconverted Indians of whom nothing was known. We had been moving on in
the track of ruined cities. A venerable ecclesiastic in Merida had
furnished me with an itinerary of the journey through the wilderness to
the Lake of Peten, and I had some hope of being led on from place to
place until we should reach a point which might unravel all mystery,
and establish a connecting link between the past and present; but this
hope was accompanied by a fear, and, perhaps fortunately for us, we did
not hear of ruins beyond. If we had, we should not have attempted to go
in search of them, and it would have been painful to turn back. I am
far from believing, however, that because we did not hear of them none
exist. On the contrary, it may well be that wrecks of cities lie buried
but a few leagues farther on, the existence of which is entirely
unknown at the village of Iturbide, for at that place there was not a
single individual who had ever heard of the ruins at Labphak, which we
had visited just before, until they heard of them from us.

As yet, however, our face is still set toward the Lake of Peten. In
this lake are numerous islands, one of which is called Peten Grande,
Peten itself being a Maya word, signifying an island; and before
turning back I wish to present this island for one moment to the
reader. It now belongs to the government of Guatimala, and is under the
ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Yucatan. Formerly it was
the principal place of the province of Itza, which province, for one
hundred and fifty years after the subjugation of Yucatan, maintained
its fierce and native independence. In the year 1608, sixty-six years
after the conquest, two Franciscan monks, alone, without arms, and in
the spirit of peace, set out to conquer this province by converting the
natives to Christianity. The limits of these pages will not permit me
to accompany them in their toilsome and dangerous journey, but,
according to the account of one of them as given by Cogolludo, at ten
o'clock at night they landed on the island, were provided with a house
by the king, and the next day preached to the Indians; but the latter
told them that the time had not yet come for them to become Christians,
and advised the monks to go away and return at some other day.
Nevertheless, they carried them round to see the town, and in the
middle of one of the temples they saw a great idol of the figure of a
horse, made of lime and stone, seated on the ground on his haunches,
with his hind legs bent, and raised on his fore feet, being intended as
an image of the horse which Cortez left at that place on his great
journey from Mexico to Honduras. On that occasion the Indians had seen
the Spaniards fire their muskets from the backs of the horses, and
supposing that the fire and noise were caused by the animals, they
called this image Tzimin Chac, and adored it as the god of thunder and
lightning. As the monks saw it, one of them, says the author of the
account, seemed as if the Spirit of the Lord had descended upon him;
and, carried away by zealous fervour, seized the foot of the horse with
his hand, mounted upon the statue, and broke it in pieces. The Indians
immediately cried out to kill them; but the king saved them, though
they were obliged to leave the island.

In the beginning of October, 1619, the same two monks, undaunted by
their previous ill success, again appeared on the island; but the
people rose up against them. One of the padres remonstrated; an Indian
seized him by the hair, twisted his neck, and hurled him to the ground,
tearing out his hair by the roots, and throwing it away. He was picked
up senseless, and, with his companion and the accompanying Indians, put
on board a bad canoe, without anything to eat, and again sent away.
With all their fanaticism and occasional cruelty, there is something
soul-stirring in the devotion of these early monks to the business of
converting the souls of the Indians.

In the year 1695, Don Martin Ursua obtained the government of Yucatan,
and, in pursuance of a proposal previously submitted by him to the
king, and approved by the council of the Indies, undertook the great
work of opening a road across the whole continent from Campeachy to
Guatimala. The opening of this road led to the conquest of Itza, and we
have a full and detailed account of this conquest, written by the
licenciado, or lawyer, Don Juan Villagutierres, a native of Yucatan. It
is entitled,  "A History of the Conquest of Itza, reduction and
progress of that of Lacandon, and other barbarous Nations of Gentile
Indians in the Mediacion of Yucatan and Guatimala." It was published at
Madrid in the year 1701, and, what gives it great value, within four
years after the events referred to took place.

The work of opening the road was begun in 1695. In prosecuting it, the
Spaniards encountered vestiges of ancient buildings raised on terraces,
deserted and overgrown, and apparently very ancient. These, it is true,
may have been abandoned long before the conquest; but, as the Spaniards
had now been in the country one hundred and fifty years, it is not
unreasonable to suppose that the terror of their name may have made
desolate many places which their arms never reached.

On the twenty-first of January, 1697, Don Martin de Ursua set out
from Campeachy to take command of the expedition in person, with a
vicar-general and assistant, already nominated by the bishop, for the
province of Itza. On the last day of February he had timber cut on the
borders of Peten for the construction of vessels which should convey
them to the island. He sent before a proclamation, giving notice that
the time had come when they should have one cup and one plate with the
Spaniards. "If not," says the proclamation, "I will do what the king
commands me, but which it is not necessary now to express." The
thirteenth of March was appointed for the day of embarcation. Some of
the Spaniards, knowing the immense number of Indians on the island, and
the difficulty of conquering it, represented to the general the
rashness of his undertaking; but, says the historian, carried away by
his zeal, faith, and courage, he answered that, having in view the
service of God and the king, and the drawing of miserable souls from
the darkness of heathenism, under the favour and protection of the
Virgin Mary, whose image he carried on the royal standard, and engraven
on his heart, he alone was sufficient for this conquest, even if it
were much more difficult.

He embarked with one hundred and eight soldiers, leaving one hundred
and twenty, with auxiliary Indians, and two pieces of artillery, as a
garrison for the camp. The vicar blessed the vessel, and as the sun
rose she got under way for the island, two leagues distant The vicar
offered up a prayer, and the Spaniards cried "Viva la ley de Dios!"
Half way across he encountered fleets of canoes filled with warlike
Indians; but taking no notice of them, and moving on toward the island,
the Spaniards saw assembled immense numbers, prepared for war; Indians
crowded the tops of the small islands around; the canoes followed them
on the lake, and enclosed them in a half moon between themselves and
the shore. As soon as within reach, the Indians, by land and water,
poured upon them a shower of arrows. The general, Don Martin Ursua,
cried out in a loud voice, "Silence! let no one begin fighting, for God
is on our side, and there is nothing to fear." The Spaniards were
enraged, but Don Martin still cried out, "Let no one fire, on pain of
death!" The arrows from the shore were like thick rain. The Spaniards
could scarcely be restrained, and one soldier, wounded in the arm, and
enraged by the pain, fired his musket; the rest followed; the general
could no longer control them, and, without waiting till they reached
the shore, as soon as the oars stopped all threw themselves into the
water, Don Martin de Ursua among them. The Indians were thick as if
collected at the mouth of a cannon; but at the horrible noise and
destruction of the fire-arms they broke and fled in terror. The vessel,
with twenty soldiers, attacked the canoes, and those both in the canoes
and on the land, from the king to the smallest creature, all leaped
into the water, and from the island to the main nothing was to be seen
but the heads of Indians, men, women, and children, swimming for life.
The Spaniards entered the deserted town, and hoisted the royal standard
on the highest point of Peten. With a loud voice they returned thanks
to God for his mercies, and Don Martin Ursua took formal possession of
the island and the territory of Itza in the name of the king. The vicar
claimed it as belonging to the bishopric of Yucatan, and in stole and
bonnet blessed the lake. This took place on the thirteenth of March,
1697, one hundred and fifty-five years after the foundation of Merida,
and but one hundred and forty-five years ago.

We have, then, accounts of visits by the padres sixty years after the
subjugation of Yucatan, and a detailed account of the conquest of Itza,
one hundred and fifty-five years afterward; and what did they find on
the island? The monks say that, when taken to look over the city, they
went to the middle and highest part of the island to see the kues and
adoratorios of the heathen idols, and that "there were twelve or more
of the size of the largest churches in the villages of the Indians in
the province of Yucatan, each one of which was capable of containing
more than one thousand persons."

The Spanish soldiers, too, almost before they had time to sheath their
blood-stained swords, were seized with holy horror at the number of
adoratorios, temples, and houses of idolatry. The idols were so
numerous, and of such various forms, that it was impossible to give any
description of them, or even to count them; and in the private houses
of these barbarous infidels, even on the benches on which they sat,
were two or three small idols.

According to the historical account, there were twenty-one adoratorios,
or temples. The principal one was that of the great false priest
Quin-canek, first cousin of the king Canek. It was of square form, with
handsome breastwork, and nine steps, all of wrought stone, and each
front was about sixty feet, and very high. It is again mentioned as
being in the form of a castillo, and this name, perhaps, makes a
stronger impression on my mind from the fact that in the ruined cities
of Chichen and Tuloom, which will be presented to the reader hereafter,
there is an edifice bearing to this day the name of El Castillo, given
to it by the Spaniards, doubtless, from the same resemblance to a
castle which induced General Ursua to apply that name to the adoratorio
in Peten. On the last step at the entrance was an idol in a squatting
position, sitting close to the ground, in human form, but with a very
unprepossessing countenance.

Another great adoratorio is described, of the same form and similar
construction, and the rest are mentioned only with reference to the
number and character of the idols they contained; but, probably, if
there had been any material difference in form or construction, it
would have been mentioned, and there is reason, to believe that they
were all alike. These descriptions are brief and general, but, in my
opinion, they are sufficient to identify the adoratorios and temples on
this island as being of the same general character with all the ruined
buildings scattered over this country; and this presumption has great
additional interest from another important consideration, for we have
clear and authentic historical accounts, perhaps more reliable than any
others relating to the aborigines of this country, of the very people
by whom and the very time within which these kues, adoratorios, and
temples were erected.

According to both Cogolludo and Villagutierres, who drew their
conclusions from occurrences of such late date as to leave but little
room for error, the Itzites, or people of Itza, were originally from
the land of Maya, now Yucatan, and once formed part of that nation. At
the time of the insurrection of the caciques of Maya, and the
destruction of Mayapan, Canek, one of the rebellious caciques, got
possession of the city of Chichen Itza. As it is sometimes said, on
account of the foretelling of the arrival of the Spaniards by one of
their prophets, but more probably on account of the insecurity of his
possessions, he withdrew with his people from the province of Chichen
Itza to the most hidden and impenetrable part of the mountains, and
took possession of the Lake of Peten, establishing his residence on the
large island which now bears that name. This emigration, according to
the history, took place but about one hundred years before the arrival
of the Spaniards. It follows, therefore, that all the adoratorios and
temples which Don Martin Ursua found on the island must have been
erected within that time. The conquest took place in March, 1697, and
we have the interesting fact, that but about one hundred and forty-five
years ago, within the period of two lives, a city existed occupied by
unbaptized Indians, precisely in the same state as before the arrival
of the Spaniards, having kues, adoratorios, and temples of the same
general character with the great structures now scattered in ruins all
over that country. This conclusion cannot be resisted except by denying
entirely the credit of all the historical accounts existing on the

And where are these kues, adoratorios, and temples now? In both my
journeys into that country, it was always my intention to visit the
island of Peten, and it has been a matter of deep regret that I was
never able to do so; but as the result of my inquiries, particularly
from the venerable cura who furnished me with the itinerary, and who
lived many years on the island, I am induced to believe that there are
no buildings left, but that there are feeble vestiges, not enough in
themselves to attract the attention of mere curiosity, but which may
possess immense antiquarian interest, as making manifest the hand of
the builders of the American cities. But even if these twenty-one kues,
adoratorios, or temples have entirely disappeared, not one stone being
left upon another, this does not impeach the truth of the historical
account that they once existed, for in the history of the Spaniards'
first day on the island we have an indication of what the same ruthless
spirit might accomplish in one hundred and forty-five years. General
Ursua took possession of the island at half past eight o'clock in the
morning, and, immediately after returning thanks to God for the
victory, the first order he issued was for each captain and officer,
with a party of soldiers, to proceed forthwith to different parts of
the city to reconnoiter all the temples, and houses of idolaters and of
individuals, and to hurl down and break the idols. The general himself
set out, accompanied by the vicar and assistant, and we learn
incidentally, and only as a means of conveying an idea of the multitude
of idols and figures thrown down by the Spaniards, that the taking of
the island having been at half past eight in the morning, they were
occupied, with but little intermission, in throwing down, breaking, and
burning idols and statues, from that hour until half past five in the
evening, when the drum called them to eat, which, says the historian,
was very necessary after so great labour; and if one day served for
destroying the idols, one hundred and forty-five years, in which were
erected a fort, churches, and other buildings that now exist, may well
have effected the complete destruction of all the native edifices for
idol worship.

I have asked where are the adoratorios and temples of Peten, and I am
here tempted to ask one other question. Where are the Indians whose
heads on that day of carnage and terror covered the water from the
island to the main? Where are those unhappy fugitives, and the
inhabitants of the other islands and of the territory of Itza? They
fled before the terrible Spaniard, plunged deeper into the wilderness,
and are dimly connected in my mind with that mysterious city before
referred to; in fact, it is not difficult for me to believe that in the
wild region beyond the Lake of Peten, never yet penetrated by a white
man, Indians are now living as they did before the discovery of
America; and it is almost a part of this belief that they are using and
occupying adoratorios and temples like those now seen in ruins in the
wilderness of Yucatan.

The reader will perhaps think that I have gone quite far enough, and
that it is time to come back.

The next on our list were the ruins of Macoba, lying on the rancho of
our friend the cura of Xul, and then in the actual occupation of
Indians. We learned that the most direct road to this place was an
Indian path, but the best way to reach it was to retrace our steps as
far the rancho of Señor Trego; at least, this was so near being the
best that the opportunity of passing the night with him determined us
to set out immediately by that route. We had our Indian carriers in
attendance at the village; but, unluckily, while preparing to set out,
Mr. Catherwood was taken with fever, and we were obliged to postpone
our departure.

We had another subject of anxiety, but more moderate, in the conduct of
Don Juan. He had not been near us all day, and we could not account for
his neglect; but toward evening Albino learned that the night before he
had lost sixteen dollars at the gaming-table, and had kept his hammock
ever since.

The next day it rained. On Sunday the rain still continued. Early in
the morning the ministro came over from the village of Hopochen to say
mass, and, while lounging about to note the prospect in regard to the
weather, I stopped under the shed where the gaming-table remained ready
for use, to which, when mass was over, all the better classes came from
the church in clean dresses, prepared for business.

It was a matter of some curiosity to me to know how these men lived;
none of them worked. Their only regular business seemed to be that of
gambling. On taking a seat among them, I learned the secret from
themselves. Each man had several outstanding loans of four or five
dollars made to Indians, or he had sold agua ardiente or some other
trifling commodity, which created an indebtedness. This made the Indian
a criado, or servant, and mortgaged his labour to the creditor or
master, by the use of which, in milpas or tobacco plantations, the
latter lived. By small occasional supplies of cocoa or spirit they keep
alive the indebtedness; and as they keep the accounts themselves, the
poor Indians, in their ignorance and simplicity, are ground to the
earth to support lazy and profligate masters.

We had not formed any very exalted opinion of these people, and they
did not rate themselves very high. Don Juan had told us that the
Indians were all drunkards, and half the white people; and the other
half had occasionally to take to the hammock; he said, too, that they
were all gamblers, and the alcalde, as he shuffled the cards, confirmed
it, and asked me to join them. He inquired if there was no gambling in
my country, or what people did with their money if they did not gamble,
and he allowed that to expend it in horses, carriages, dinners,
furniture, dress, and other particulars suggested by some of them, was
sensible enough; for, as he said very truly, when they died they could
not carry it away with them. I mentioned that in my country gambling
was forbidden by law, and that for gambling in the street, and on a
Sunday, they would all be taken up and punished. This touched the
alcalde in his office, and he started up with the cards in his hand,
and looking indignantly at the people under his charge, said that there
too it was forbidden by law; that any one who gambled, or who connived
at it, or who permitted it in his house, was liable to be declared not
a citizen; that they had laws, and very good ones; all knew them, but
nobody minded them. Everybody gambled, particularly in that village;
they had no money, but they gambled corn and tobacco and he pointed to
a man then crossing the plaza, who the night before had gambled away a
hog. He admitted that sometimes it was a good way to make money, but
he pointed to a miserable-looking young man, not more than two or
three-and-twenty, whose father, he said, had ranchos, and Indians, and
houses, and ready money, and was close-fisted, and had left all to that
son, who was now looking for seven and sixpence to make up a dollar,
and the young man himself, with a ghastly smile, confirmed the tale.
The alcalde then continued with a running commentary upon the idleness
and extravagance of the people in the village; they were all lazy, and
having illustrations at hand, he pointed to an Indian just passing with
three strings of beef, which, he said, had cost him a medio and a half,
and would be consumed at a meal, and that Indian, he knew, had not a
medio in the world to pay his capitation tax. One of the gentlemen
present then suggested that the government had lately passed an
iniquitous law that no Indian should be compelled to work unless he
chose; if he refused, he could not be whipped or imprisoned, and what
could be expected in such a state of things? Another gentleman
interposed with great unction, declaring that the alcalde of a
neighbouring village did not mind the law, but went on whipping the
same as before. All this time a dozen Indians, by the constitution free
and independent as themselves, sat on the ground without saying a word,
merely staring from one to the other of the speakers.

After this the conversation turned upon our own party, and finally
settled upon Doctor Cabot. I regretted to find that, in a community
which had patronised him so extensively, there was some diversity of
opinion as to his qualifications. There was one dissenting voice, and
the general discussion settled down into a warm argument between
the two brothers of Don Juan, the alcalde and the keeper of the
gambling-table, the latter of whom held up an ugly sandalled foot, with
a great excrescence upon it, and said, rather depreciatingly, that the
doctor did not cure his corns. The alcalde was stanch, and thrust
forward his cured child, but his brother shook his head, still holding
out his foot, and I am sorry to say that, so far as I could gather the
sense of the community, Doctor Cabot's reputation as a medico received
somewhat of a shock.

In the afternoon the rain ceased, and we bade farewell to the new
village of Iturbide. As we passed, Don Juan left his place at the table
to bid us goodby, and a little before dark we reached the rancho
Noyaxche of Señor Trego, where we again received a cordial welcome, and
in his intelligent society found a relief from the dulness of Iturbide.

                               CHAPTER XII.

Journey resumed.--An Aguada.--The Aguadas artificial, and built by the
Aboriginal Inhabitants.--Examination of one by Señor Trego.--Its
Construction.--Ancient Wells.--Pits.--A Sugar Rancho.--Rancho of
'Y-a-Walthel.--Rancho of Choop.--Arrival at Macobà.--The
Ruins.--Lodgings in a miserable Hut.--Wells.--Ruined
Buildings.--Another Aguada.--Pits.--Astonishment of the
Indians.--Falling in Love at first Sight.--Interesting
Characters.--Departure.--Thick Undergrowth.--Rancho of Puut.--An
Incident.--Situation of the Rancho.--Water.--Ruins of Mankeesh.

[Engraving 31: An Aguada]

The next morning after breakfast we again set out. Señor Trego escorted
us, and, following a broad wagon road made by him for the passage of
the horse and cart, at the distance of a mile and a half we came to a
large aguada, which is represented in the plate opposite. It was
apparently a mere pond, picturesque, and shaded by trees, and having
the surface covered with green water plants, called by the Indians
Xicin-chah, which, instead of being regarded as a blot upon the
picturesque, were prized as tending to preserve the water from
evaporation. Indians were then filling their water jars, and this
aguada was the only watering-place of the rancho. These aguadas had
become to us interesting objects of consideration. Ever since our
arrival in the country, we had been told that they were artificial,
and, like the ruined cities we were visiting, the works of the ancient
inhabitants. At first we had considered these accounts unreliable, and
so nearly approaching the marvellous that we put but little faith in
them; but as we advanced they assumed a more definite character. We
were now in a region where the people were entirely dependant upon the
aguadas; all considered them the works of the antiguos; and we obtained
at length what we had long sought for, certain, precise, and definite
information, which would not admit of question or doubt.

Failing in his attempt to procure water from the well, before referred
to, in the plaza, in 1835 Señor Trego turned his attention to this
aguada. He believed that it had been used by the ancients as a
reservoir, and took advantage of the dry season to make an examination,
which satisfied him that his supposition was correct. For many years it
had been abandoned, and it was then covered three or four feet deep
with mud. At first he was afraid to undertake with much vigour the work
of clearing it out, for the prejudices of the people were against it,
and they feared that, by disturbing the aguada, the scanty supply then
furnished might be cut off. In 1836 he procured a permission from the
government, by great exertions secured the co-operation of all the
ranchos and haciendas for leagues around, and at length fairly
enlisting them all in the task, at one time he had at work fifteen
hundred Indians, with eighty superintendents (major domos). On clearing
out the mud, he found an artificial bottom of large flat stones. These
were laid upon each other in this form,
                            ___|__   __|___
                           |               |

and the interstices were filled in with clay of red and brown colour,
of a different character from any in the neighbourhood. The stones were
many layers deep, and he did not go down to the bottom, lest by some
accident the foundation should be injured, and the fault be imputed to

Near the centre, in places which he indicated as we rode along the
bank, he discovered four ancient wells. These were five feet in
diameter, faced with smooth stone not covered with cement, eight yards
deep, and at the time of the discovery were also filled with mud. And,
besides these, he found along the margin upward of four hundred
casimbas, or pits, being holes into which the water filtered, and
which, with the wells, were intended to furnish a supply when the
aguada should be dry.

The whole bottom of the aguada, the wells, and pits were cleared out;
Señor Trego portioned off the pits among families, to be preserved and
kept in order by them, and the dry basin was then given up to the
floods of the rainy season. It so happened that the next year was one
of unusual scarcity, and the whole country around was perfectly
destitute of water. That year, Señor Trego said, more than a thousand
horses and mules came to this aguada, some even from the rancho of
Santa Rosa, eighteen miles distant, with barrels on their backs, and
carried away water. Families established themselves along the banks;
small shops for the sale of necessaries were opened, and the butcher
had his shambles with meat; the aguada supplied them all, and when this
failed, the wells and the pits held out abundantly till the rainy
season came on, and enabled them to return to their several homes.

Throughout our journey we had suffered from the long continuance of the
rainy season, and at this place we considered it one of the greatest
misfortunes that attended us, that we were unable to see the bottom of
this aguada and these ancient wells. Señor Trego told us that usually,
at this season, the aguada was dry, and the people were drawing from
the wells and pits. This year, happily for them, but unluckily for us,
water was still abundant. Still it was a thing of high interest to see
this ancient reservoir recovered and restored to its original uses,
and, as we rode along the bank, to have indicated to us the particular
means and art used to render it available. Hundreds are perhaps how
buried in the woods, which once furnished this element of life to the
teeming population of Yucatan.

Leaving the aguada, our road lay over a level and wooded plain, then
wet and muddy from the recent rains, and at the distance of a league we
reached the sugar rancho of a gentleman from Oxcutzcab, who had been a
co-worker with Señor Trego in clearing out the aguada, and confirmed
all that the latter had told us. A league beyond we came to the rancho
of 'Y-a-walthel, inhabited entirely by Indians, and beyond our road
opened upon a fine savanna, in which were several aguadas. Beyond this
we reached the rancho of Choop, and came into a good road, different
from the usual milpa paths, and like a well-beaten camino real, made so
by the constant travelling of beasts with water kegs to the aguadas.

In the afternoon we passed the campo santo of Macoba, and very soon,
ascending a hill, we saw through the trees the "old walls" of the
ancient inhabitants. It was one of the wildest places we had seen; the
trees were grander, and we were somewhat excited on approaching it, for
we had heard that the old city was repeopled, and that Indians were
again living in the buildings. It was almost evening; the Indians had
returned from their work; smoke was issuing from the ruins, and, as
seen through the trees, the very tops seemed alive with people; but as
we approached we almost turned away with sorrow. It was like the
wretched Arabs of the Nile swarming around the ruined temples of
Thebes, a mournful contrast of present misery and past magnificence.
The doors were stopped with leaves and branches; the sculptured
ornaments on the façades were blackened by smoke rolling from the
doorways, and all around were the confusion and filthiness of Indian
housekeeping. As we rode up the Indians stared at us in astonishment
and the scared women snatched up their screaming children and ran away.

Among these ruins a rancho had been erected for the major domo, and as
everything we had heretofore seen belonging to the cura of Xul was in
fine order, we had no fears about our accommodations; but we found that
nothing in this world must be taken for granted. The rancho was
thatched, and had a dirty earthen floor, occupied by heaps of corn,
beans, eggs, boxes, baskets, fowls, dogs, and pigs. There were two
small, dirty hammocks, in one of which was swinging an Indian lad, and
from the other had just been taken a dead man, whose new grave we had
seen at the campo santo.

The major domo was a short, stupid, well-meaning old man, who
apologized for the confusion on account of the death and burial that
had just taken place. He was expecting us, had his master's orders to
treat us with all due consideration, and we directed the rancho to be
swept out. As night approached, we began to feel that our discomforts
might be increased, for our carriers did not make their appearance. We
had no apprehensions of robbery. Bernaldo was with them, and, knowing
his propensities, we supposed that he had stopped at some rancho,
where, in waiting to have some tortillas made, he had got belated, and
was unable to find the road; but, whatever the cause, we missed the
comforts of our travelling equipage. We were without candles, too, and
sat in the miserable rancho in utter darkness, listening for the sound
of the approaching carriers, until Albino procured a broken vessel of
castor oil with a wick in it, which, by faintly illuminating one
corner, disclosed more clearly the dreariness and discomfort of the

But worse than all was the prospect of sleeping in the flea-infested
hammocks, from one of which the body of a dead man had just been taken.
We got the major domo to remove them and hire others, which, perhaps,
were in reality not much better. Albino and Dimas had to lie down on
the earthen floor, but they could not remain long. Dimas mounted
lengthwise upon a log, and Albino doubled himself up in a baño, or
bathing-tub, which kept him from the bare ground, but not above the
jump of a flea. Fortunately, we suffered excessively from cold, which
prevented us from being thrown into a fever, but it was one of the
worst nights we had passed in the country.

Early in the morning Bernaldo made his appearance, he and the carriers
having had a harder time than our own. They had been lost, and had
wandered till ten o'clock, when they came to a rancho, where they
learned their mistake, but were too much tired to carry their loads any
farther, and, with an Indian from the rancho to guide them, had set out
two hours before daylight.

The rancho of Macoba had been established but four years. It was
situated in the midst of an immense forest; as yet it had been used
only for the cultivation of maize, but the cura intended the ensuing
year to commence a plantation of sugar. His inducement to establish a
rancho at this place was the existence of the ruined buildings,
which saved the expense of erecting huts for his criados; and
he was influenced also by the wells and other remains of ancient
watering-places. In the immediate vicinity of the buildings, without
inquiring or seeking for them, we came across four wells, but all
filled up with rubbish, and dry. Indeed, so many were known to exist,
and the other means of supply were so abundant, that Señor Trego was
about becoming a partner with the cura, under the expectation of
clearing out and restoring these ancient reservoirs, furnishing an
abundant supply of water, and calling around them a large Indian

In the mean time the cura had constructed two large tanks, or cisterns,
one of which was twenty-two feet in diameter, and the same in depth,
and the other eighteen. Both these were under a large circular roof, or
top platform, covered with cement, and sloping toward the centre, which
received the great body of rain-water that fell in the rainy season,
and transmitted it into the cisterns, and these furnished a supply
during the whole of the dry season, as the major domo said, for fifty
souls, besides fowls, hogs, and one horse.

[Engraving 32: Building a Macobà]

The ruins at this place were not so extensive as we expected to find
them. There were but two buildings occupied by the Indians, both in the
immediate neighbourhood of our hut, and much ruined, one of which is
represented in the plate opposite. A noble alamo tree was growing by
its side, and holding it up, which, while I was in another direction,
the Indians had begun to cut down, but which, fortunately, I returned
in time to save. The building is about 120 feet front, and had two
stories, with a grand staircase on the other side, now ruined. The
upper story was in a ruinous condition, but parts of it were occupied
by Indians.

In the afternoon Doctor Cabot and myself set out for a ride to the
aguada, induced somewhat by the forest character of the country, and
the accounts the Indians gave us of rare birds, which they said were to
be found in that direction. The road lay through a noble piece of
woods, entirely different from the usual scrubby growth, with thorny
and impenetrable underbrush, being the finest forest we had seen, and
abounding in sapote and cedar trees. At the distance of half a league a
path turned off to the right, overgrown, and hardly distinguishable,
following which we reached the aguada. It was a mere hollow basin,
overgrown with high grass. We rode down into it, and, dismounting, my
first step from the side of my horse carried me into a hole, being a
casimba, or pit, made by the Indians for the purpose of receiving the
filtrations of water. We discovered others of the same kind, and to
save our horses, backed them out to the edge of the aguada, and moved
cautiously around it ourselves. These pits were no doubt of modern
date, and we could not discover any indications of ancient wells;
nevertheless, such may exist, for the aguada has been disused and
neglected for an unknown length of time. Soil had accumulated, without
removing which, the character and construction of the bottom could not
be ascertained.

I returned from the aguada in time to assist Mr. Catherwood in taking
the plan of the buildings. Our appearance in this wilderness had
created astonishment among the Indians. All day, whenever we drew near
to the buildings, the women and children ran inside, and now, when they
found us entering their habitations, they all ran out of doors. The old
major domo, unused to such a commotion among the women, followed us
close, anxiously, but respectfully, and without uttering a word; and
when we closed the book and told him we had finished, he raised both
hands, and, with a relieved expression, exclaimed, "Gracios a Dios, la
obra es acabada!" "Thank God, the work is done!"

I have nothing to say concerning the history of these ruins. They are
the only memorials of a city which, but for them, would be utterly
unknown, and I do not find among my notes any memoranda showing how or
from whom we first received the intelligence of their existence.

March 2. Early in the morning we were again preparing to move, but,
when on the eve of setting out, we learned that Bernaldo wanted to vary
the monotony of travelling by getting married. He had met at the well
an Indian girl of thirteen, he himself being sixteen. While assisting
her to draw water, some tender passages had taken place between them,
and he had disclosed to Albino his passion and his wishes; but he was
trammelled by that impediment which all over the world keeps asunder
those who are born for each other, viz., want of fortune. The girl made
no objections on this score, nor did her father. On the contrary, the
latter, being a prudent man, who looked to the future well-establishing
of his daughter, considered Bernaldo, though not in the actual
possession of fortune, a young man of good expectations, by reason of
the wages that would be due to him from us; but the great difficulty
was to get ready money to pay the padre. Bernaldo was afraid to ask for
it, and the matter was not communicated to us until at the moment of
setting out. It was entirely against hacienda law to marry off the
estate; Don Simon would not like it; and, in the hurry and confusion of
setting out, we had no time to deliberate; we therefore sent him on
before us, and I am sorry to be obliged to say that this violence to
his affections never made it necessary to change the appellation which
we had given him very early after he came into our possession, namely,
the fat boy.

We found among our carriers another youthful example of blighted
affections, but recovering. He was a lad of about Bernaldo's age, to
wit, sixteen, but had been married two years before, was a father, a
widower, and about to be married again. The story was told us in his
hearing, and, from his smiles at different parts of it, it was
difficult to judge which he considered the most amusing; and we had
still another interesting person, being a runaway Indian, who had been
caught and brought back but a few days before, and upon whom the major
domo charged all the others to keep a good look-out.

Our road lay through the same great forest in which the ruins stood. At
the distance of a league we descended from the high ground, and reached
a small aguada. From this place the road for some distance was hilly
until we came out upon a great savanna covered with a growth of bushes,
which rose above our heads so thick that they met across the path,
excluding every breath of air, without shielding as from the sun, and
exceedingly difficult and disagreeable to ride through. At one o'clock
we reached the suburbs of the rancho of Puut. The settlement was a long
line of straggling huts, which, as we rode through them under the blaze
of a vertical sun, seemed to have no end. Mr. Catherwood stopped at one
of them for a cup of water, and I rode on till I reached an open plain,
forming a sort of square with thatched houses, and on one side a
thatched church. I inquired of a woman peeping out of a door for the
casa real, and was directed to a ruined hut on the same side, at the
door, or, rather, at the doorway of which I dismounted, but had hardly
crossed the threshold when I saw my white pantaloons speckled with
little jumping black insects. I made a hasty retreat, and saw a man at
the moment moving across the plaza, who asked me to his house, which
was clean and comfortable, and when Mr. Catherwood came up the women of
the house were engaged in preparing our dinner. Mr. Catherwood had just
experienced the same kind of good feeling at an Indian hut. Water, in
the Maya language, is expressed by the word _ha_, but, being that
morning rather out of practice, Mr. Catherwood had asked for _ka_,
which means fire, and the woman brought him a lighted brand. He
motioned that away, but still continued asking for _ka_, fire. The
woman went in, sat down, and made him a straw cigar, which she brought
out to him. Sitting in the broiling sun, and perishing with thirst, he
dropped his Maya, and by signs made her understand what he wanted, when
she brought him water.

Our host, who was a Meztizo and ex-alcalde, procured for us another
empty hut, which, by the time our carriers arrived, we had swept out
and made comfortable.

The situation of this rancho was on a fine open plain; the land was
good, and water abundant, though not very near at hand, the supply
being derived from an aguada, to which we sent our horses; and they
were gone so long that we determined the next morning, as the aguada
lay but little out of our road, to ride by it and water them ourselves.

From this place we intended to visit the ruins of Mankeesh, but we
learned that it would require a large circuit to reach them, and, at
the same time, we received intelligence of other ruins of which we had
not heard before, at the rancho of Yakatzib, on the road we had
intended taking. We determined for the present to continue on the route
we had marked out, and it so happened that we did not reach the ruins
of Mankeesh at all, which, according to more particular accounts
received afterward, when it was too late to profit by them, merit the
attention of the future traveller.

                               CHAPTER XIII.

Rancho of Jalal.--Picturesque Aguada.--Excavations made in it by the
Indians.--System of Aguadas.--Journey resumed.--Lose the Road.--An
Effort in the Maya Language.--Grove of Orange Trees.--Ruins of
Yakatzib.--Dilapidated Edifice.--Stony Sierra.--Village of
Becanchen.--Hospitality.--Sculptured Stones.--Wells.--Running
Stream of Water.--Derivation of the Word Becanchen.--Rapid Growth of
the Village.--Source of the Water of the Wells.--Accident to an
Indian.--The Party separate.--Aguadas.--A Trogon.--Hacienda of
Zaccacal.--Visit to the Ruins.--Stone Terrace.--Circular Hole.--Two
Buildings.--Garrapatas.--Black Ants.--Return.

[Engraving 33: An Aguada]

At seven o'clock the next morning we started, and at the distance of a
league reached the rancho of Jalal, from which we turned off to the
aguada to water our horses. The plate opposite, represents this aguada.
When we first came down upon its banks it presented one of the most
beautifully picturesque scenes we met with in the country. It was
completely enclosed by a forest, and had large trees growing around the
banks and overhanging the water. The surface was covered with water
weeds like a carpet of vivid green, and the aguada had a much higher
interest than any derived from mere beauty. According to the accounts
we had received at the rancho, ten years before it was dry, and the
bottom covered with mud several feet deep. The Indians were in the
habit of digging pits in it for the purpose of collecting the water
which filtered through, and in some of these excavations they struck
upon an ancient well, which, on clearing it away, was found to be of
singular form and construction. It had a square platform at the top,
and beneath was a round well, faced with smooth stones, from twenty to
twenty-five feet deep. Below this was another square platform, and
under the latter another well of less diameter, and about the same
depth. The discovery of this well induced farther excavations, which,
as the whole country was interested in the matter, were prosecuted
until upward of forty wells were discovered, differing in their
character and construction, and some idea of which may be formed from
the engraving that follows. These were all cleared out, and the whole
aguada repaired, since which it furnishes a supply during the greater
part of the dry season, and when this fails the wells appear, and
continue the supply until the rains come on again.

[Engraving 34: System of Aguadas]

Leaving this, we continued again upon a plain. Albino had not come up
with us, and passing through one Indian rancho, we came to another, in
which were many paths, and we were at a loss which to take. The men
were all away, and we were obliged to chase the women into their very
huts to ask directions. At the last hut we cornered two, who were
weaving cotton, and came upon them with our great effort in the Maya
language, "Tush y am bé--" "Is this the way to--" adding Yakatzib, the
name of the rancho at which we were told there were ruins. We had
acquired great facility in asking this question, but if the answer went
beyond "yes" or "no," or an indication with the hand, as was the case
on this occasion, it was entirely beyond our attainments. The women
gave us a very long, and probably a very civil answer, but we could not
understand a word of it; and finding it impossible to bring them to
monosyllables, we asked for a draught of water and rode on.

When we had gone some distance beyond the rancho, it occurred to us
that this might be Yakatzib itself and we turned back. Before reaching
it, however, we turned off into a grove of large orange trees at one
side of the road, dismounted, and tied our horses under the shade to
wait for Albino. The trees were loaded and the ground covered with
fruit, but the oranges were all of the sour kind. We could not sit down
under the trees, for the ground was teeming with garrapatas, ants, and
other insects, and while standing we were obliged to switch them off
with our riding whips. Soon Albino came thundering along on the
trotter, and we learned that we had really passed Yakatzib, as the
women had no doubt told us. While we were mounting to go back, a boy
passed on a miserable old horse, his bare body perched between two
water-kegs with which he was going to the aguada. For a medio he
slipped off, tied his horse to a bush, and ran before us as our guide
through the rancho, beyond which, turning off to the right, we soon
reached a ruined edifice.

It was small, and the whole front was gone; the door had been
ornamented with pillars which had fallen, and lay on the ground. The
boy told us that there were ruined mounds, but no other remains of
buildings. We turned back without dismounting and continued our

At two o'clock we reached the foot of a stony sierra, or mountain
range, toilsome and laborious for the horses, but Mr. Catherwood
remarked that his pricked up his ears and trod lightly, as if just
beginning a journey. From the top of the same sierra we saw at its
foot, on the other side, the village of Becanchen, where, on arriving,
we rode through the plaza, and up to a large house, the front of which
was adorned with a large red painting of a major domo on horseback,
leading a bull into the ring. We inquired for the casa real, and were
directed to a miserable thatched house, where a gentleman stepped out
and recognised Mr. Catherwood's horse, which had belonged to Don Simon
Peon, and through the horse he recognised me, having seen me with Don
Simon at the fair at Jalacho, on the strength of which he immediately
offered his house for a posada, or inn, which offer, on looking at the
casa real, we did not hesitate to accept.

We were still on the great burial-ground of ruined cities. In the
corridor of the house were sculptured stones, which our host told us
were taken from the ancient buildings in the neighbourhood; they had
also furnished materials for the foundation of every house on the
plaza; and besides these there were other memorials. In the plaza were
eight wells, then furnishing an abundant supply of water, and bearing
that stamp which could not be mistaken, of the hand of the ancient
builders. Below the plaza, on the declivity of the hill, was water
gushing from the rocks, filling a clear basin beneath, and running off
till it was lost in the woods. It was the first time in our whole
journey that we had seen anything like a running stream, and after the
parched regions through which we had passed, of almost inaccessible
caves, muddy aguadas, and little pools in the hollows of rocks, it was
a refreshing and delightful spectacle. Our Indian carriers had taken up
their quarters under a brush fence, in sight and within reach of the
stream, and to them and the muleteers it was like the fountain to the
Arab in the desert, or the rivers of sweet water promised to the
faithful in the paradise of Mohammed.

The history of this village has all the wildness of romance, and,
indeed, throughout this land of sepulchred cities the genius of romance
sits enthroned. Its name is derived from this stream of water, being
compounded of the Maya words _Becan_, running, and _chen_, a well.
Twenty years ago the country round about was a wilderness of forest. A
solitary Indian came into it and made a clearing for his milpa. In
doing so he struck upon the running stream, followed it until he found
the water gushing from the rock, and the whole surface now occupied by
the plaza pierced with ancient wells. The Indians gathered round the
wells, and a village grew up, which now contains six thousand
inhabitants; a growth, having regard to the difference in the resources
of the country and the character of the people, equal in rapidity to
that of the most prosperous towns in ours.

These wells are all mere excavations throng a stratum of limestone
rock, varying in depth according to the irregularity of the bed, and in
general not exceeding four or five feet. The source of the water is
considered a mystery by the inhabitants, but it seems manifest that it
is derived from the floods of the rainy season. The village is
encompassed on three sides by hills. On the upper side of the plaza,
near the corner of a street running back to the elevated range, is a
large hole or natural opening in the rock, and during the whole of the
rainy season a torrent of water collects into a channel, pours down
this street, and empties into this hole. As we were told, the body of
water is so great that for a week or ten days after the last rains the
stream continues to run; and at the time of our visit it was eighteen
inches in diameter. The water in the wells is always at the same level
with that in the hole. They rise and fall together; and there is
another conclusive proof of direct connexion, for, as we were told, a
small dog that had been swept into the hole appeared some days
afterward dead in one of the most distant wells.

Doctor Cabot and I descended into one of the wells, and found it a
rude, irregular cavern, about twenty-five feet in diameter; the roof
had some degree of regularity, and perhaps, to a certain extent, was
artificial. Directly under the mouth the water was not more than
eighteen inches deep, but the bottom was uneven, and a step or two
beyond the water was so deep that we could not examine it thoroughly.
By the light of a candle we could see no channel of communication with
the other wells, but on one side the water ran deep under a shelving of
the rock, and here there were probably some crevices through which it
passed; indeed, this must have been the case, for this was the well in
which the dog had come to light.

When we emerged from this well other business offered. Having little or
no intercourse with the capital, this village was the first which
Doctor Cabot's fame had not reached, and our host took me aside to ask
me in confidence whether Doctor Cabot was a real medico; which fact
being easily established by my evidence, he wanted the medico to visit
a young Indian whose hand had been mangled by a sugar-mill. Doctor
Cabot made some inquiries, the answers to which led to the conclusion
that it would be necessary to cut off the hand; but, unluckily, at the
last reduction of our luggage he had left his amputating instruments
behind. He had a hand-saw for miscellaneous uses, which would serve in
part, and Mr. Catherwood had a large spring-knife of admirable temper,
which Doctor Cabot said would do, but the former flatly objected to its
conversion into a surgical instrument. It had been purchased at Rome
twenty years before, and in all his journeyings had been his travelling
companion; but after such an operation he would never be able to use it
again. Strong arguments were urged on both sides, and it became
tolerably manifest that, unless amputation was necessary to save the
boy from dying, the doctor would not get the knife.

Reaching the house, we saw the Indian sitting in the sala, the hand
torn off to within about an inch of the wrist, and the stump swollen
into a great ball six inches in diameter, perfectly black, and
literally alive with vermin. At the first glance I retreated into the
yard, and thence into the kitchen, when a woman engaged in cooking ran
out, leaving her vessels boiling over the fire. I superintended her
cooking, and dried my damp clothes, determined to avoid having anything
to do with the operation; but, fortunately for me and M., Catherwood's
knife, Doctor Cabot considered that it was not advisable to amputate.
It was ten days since the accident happened, and the wound seemed to be
healing. Doctor Cabot ascribed the lad's preservation to the sound and
healthy state of the blood, arising from the simple diet of the Indian.

At this place we determined to separate; Mr. Catherwood to go on direct
to Peto, a day and a half's journey distant, and lie by a few days to
recruit, while Doctor Cabot and I made a retrograde and circuitous
movement to the village of Mani. While speaking of our intention, a
by-stander, Don Joaquin Sais, a gentleman of the village, told us of
ruins on his hacienda of Saccacal, eight leagues distant by a milpa
road, and said that if we would wait a day, he would accompany us to
visit them; but as we could not, he gave us a letter to the major domo.

Early the next morning Doctor Cabot and I set out with Albino and a
single Indian, the latter carrying a petaquilla and hammocks. We left
the village by the running stream, and rode for some time along a deep
gully made by the great body of water which rushes through it in the
rainy season. At half past nine we reached a large aguada, the banks of
which were so muddy that it was impossible to get down to it to drink.
A league beyond we reached another, surrounded by fine shade trees,
with a few ducks floating quietly upon its surface. As we rode up Dr.
Cabot shot a trogan, one of the rare birds of that country, adorning by
its brilliant plumage the branches of an overhanging tree. We lost an
hour of hard riding by mistaking our road among the several diverging
tracks that led from the aguada. It was very hot; the country was
desolate, and, suffering from thirst, we passed some Indians under the
shade of a large seybo tree eating tortillas and chili, to whom we rode
up, confident of procuring water; but they either had none, or, as
Albino supposed, hid it away as we approached. At one o'clock we came to
another aguada, but the bank was so muddy that it was impossible to get
to the water without miring our horses or ourselves, and we were
obliged to turn away without relief from our distressing thirst. Beyond
this we turned off to the left, and, unusually fatigued with the heat
and hard riding, although we had come but eight leagues, to our great
satisfaction we reached the hacienda of Zaccacal.

Toward evening, escorted by the major domo and a vaquero to show the
way, I set out for the ruins. At the distance of half a mile on the
road to Tekax, we turned off into the woods to the left, and very soon
reached the foot of a stone terrace. The vaquero led the way up it on
horseback, and we followed, dismounting at the top. On this terrace was
a circular hole like those before referred to at Uxmal and other
places, but much larger; and, looking down into it till my eyes became
accustomed to the darkness, I saw a large chamber with three recesses
in different parts of the wall, which the major domo said were doors
opening to passages that went under ground to an extent entirely
unknown. By means of a pole with a crotch I descended, and found the
chamber of an oblong form. The doors, as the major domo called them,
were merely recesses about two feet deep. Touching one of them with my
feet, I told him that the end of his passage was there, but he said it
was tapado, or closed up, and persisted in asserting that it led to an
indefinite extent. It was difficult to say what these recesses were
intended for. They threw a mystery around the character of these
subterranean chambers, and unsettled the idea of their being all
intended for wells.

Beyond this, on a higher terrace, among many remains, were two
buildings, one of which was in a good state of preservation, and the
exterior was ornamented all around with pillars set in the wall,
somewhat different from those in the façades of other buildings, and
more fanciful. The interior consisted of but a single apartment,
fifteen feet long and nine feet wide. The ceiling was high, and in the
layer of flat stones along the centre of the arch was a single stone,
like that seen for the first time at Kewick, ornamented with painting.

This building stood in front of another more overgrown and ruined,
which had been an imposing and important edifice. The plan was
complicated, and the exterior of one part was rounded, but the rounded
part was a solid mass, and within the wall was straight. In the back
wall was a recess, once occupied, perhaps, by a statue. Altogether,
there was much about this edifice that was new and curious; and there
were other cerros or mounds, of undistinguishable ruins.

Short as my visit was, there were few considerations that could have
tempted me to remain longer. The garrapatas would soon be over, but
they continued with the rainy season, and, in fact, increased and
multiplied. I discovered them the moment I dismounted, and at first
attempted to whip them off, but wishing to get through before night, I
hurried round this building, creeping under branches and tearing aside
bushes, and, actually covered with the abominable insects, started for
the road.

In hurrying forward I unwittingly crossed the track of a procession of
large black ants. These processions are among the extraordinary
spectacles of that country, darkening the ground for an hour at a time;
and the insect has a sting equal to that of hornets, as I quickly
learned on this occasion. When I reached the road I was almost numbed
with pain, and when I mounted I felt that nothing could tempt me to
live in such a country. The hacienda was in an unusually pretty
situation. Opposite was a long line of hills; the sun was setting, and
it was precisely the hour and the scene for a country ramble; but the
owner of thousands of acres could never diverge from the beaten path
without bringing these pests upon him.

I returned to the house, where the major domo kindly provided me with
warm water for a bath, which cooled the fever of my blood. At night,
for the first time in the country, we had at one end of the room the
hammocks of the women, but this was so bad as ants or garrapatas.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

Village of San José.--Thatched Church.--The Cura--A refractory
Indian.--Attachment of the Indians.--Journey to Mani.--The
Sierra.--Hacienda of Santa Maria.--A ruined Mound.--Good Road.--Arrival
at the City of Tekax.--A bloodless Revolution.--Situation and
Appearance of the City.--An interesting Meeting.--Curiosity of the
People.--Akil.--The Site of a ruined City:--Sculptured Stones.--Journey
resumed.--Arrival at Mani.--Historical Notice.--Tutul Xiu.--Embassy to
the Lords of Zotuta.--Ambassadors murdered.--Mani the first interior
Town that submitted to the Spaniards.--Scanty Supply of Water
throughout the Country.--Important Consideration.--A touching

March 5. Early the next morning we set out for the ruins of San José. At
seven o'clock we reached the pueblocito, or little village, of that
name, pleasantly situated between a range of hills and a sierra,
containing about two hundred inhabitants, among whom, as we rode into
the plaza, we saw several white men. At the casa real we found a
cacique of respectable appearance, who told us that there were no "old
walls" in that village, which report of his, other Indians standing
round confirmed. We were not much disappointed, nor at all anxious to
find anything that would make it necessary to change our plans; to lose
no time, we determined to push on to Mani, eight leagues distant, and
applied for an Indian to carry our hammocks, which the cacique
undertook to provide.

On the opposite side of the square was a thatched church, the bell of
which was tolling for morning mass, and before the door was a group of
men, surrounding a portly old gentleman in a round jacket, who I knew
must be the padre. They all confirmed the accounts we had received at
the casa real, that there were no ruins; but the cura, enforcing his
words with an Ave Maria, said that at Ticum, the head of his curacy,
there were bastante, or enough of them. He intended to return
immediately after mass, and wanted us to go with him to see them, and
write a description of them. I felt a strong disposition to do so, if
it was only to pass a day with him at the convent; but, on inquiring, I
learned that the "old walls" were entirely in ruins; they had
furnished materials for that church and convent, and all the stone
houses of the village.

While this was going on at the door of the church, an Indian sexton was
pulling lustily at the bell-rope, ringing for mass, and, as if
indignant that his warning was not attended to, he made it so deafening
that it was really a labour for us to hear each other. The cura seemed
in no hurry, but I had some scruples about keeping the congregation
waiting, and returned to the casa real.

Here a scene had just taken place, of which nothing but the noise of
the bell prevented my having some previous knowledge. The cacique had
sent for an Indian to carry our load, but the latter refused to obey,
and was insolent to the cacique, who in a rage, ordered him to be put
into the stocks. When I entered, the recusant, sullen and silent, was
waiting the execution of his sentence, and in a few minutes he was
lying on his back on the ground, with both legs secured in the stocks
above his knees. The cacique sent for another, and in the mean time an
old woman came in with a roll of tortillas, and a piteous expression of
face. She was the mother of the prisoner, and took her seat on the
stocks to remain with him and comfort him; and, as the man rolled his
head on the ground, and the woman looked wonderingly at us, we
reproached ourselves as the cause of his disaster, and endeavoured to
procure his release, but the cacique would not listen to us. He said
that the man was punished, not for refusing to go with us, although
bound to do so on account of indebtedness to the village but for
insolence to himself. He was evidently one who would not allow his
authority to be trifled with; and seeing that, without helping the
Indian, we might lose the benefit of the cacique's good dispositions in
our favour, we were fain to desist. At length, though evidently with
some difficulty, he procured another Indian. As we mounted, we made a
final effort in behalf of the poor fellow in the stocks; and, though
apparently unable to comprehend why we should take any interest in the
matter, the cacique promised to release him.

This over, we found that we had thrown another family into confusion.
The wife and a little daughter of our carrier accompanied him to the
top of a hill beyond the village, where they bade him farewell as if he
was setting out on a long and dangerous journey. The attachment of the
Indian to his home is a striking feature of his character. The
affection which grows up between the sexes was supposed by the early
writers upon the character of the Indians not to exist among them, and
probably the sentiment and refinement of it do not; but circumstances
and habit bind together the Indian man and woman as strongly as any
known ties. When the Indian grows up to manhood he requires a woman to
make him tortillas, and to provide him warm water for his bath at
night. He procures one, sometimes by the providence of the master,
without much regard to similarity of tastes or parity of age; and
though a young man is mated to an old woman, they live comfortably
together. If he finds her guilty of any great offence, he brings her up
before the master or the alcalde, gets her a whipping and then takes
her under his arm and goes quietly home with her. The Indian husband is
rarely harsh to his wife, and the devotion of the wife to her husband
is always a subject of remark. They share their pleasures as well as
their labours; go up together with all their children to some village
fiesta, and one of the most afflicting incidents in their lot is a
necessity that takes the husband from his home.

In the suburbs of the village we commenced ascending the sierra, from
the top of which we saw at the foot the hacienda of Santa Maria. Behind
it rose a high mound, surrounded by trees indicating that here too were
the ruins of an ancient city.

Descending the sierra, we rode up to the hacienda, and saw three
gentlemen sitting under a shed breakfasting. One of them had on a fur
hat, a mark of civilization which we had not seen for a long time; an
indication that he was from the city of Tekax, and had merely come out
for a morning ride.

The proprietor came out to receive us, and, pointing to the mound, we
made some inquiry about the building, but he did not comprehend us,
and, supposing that we meant some old ranchos in that direction, said
that they were for the servants. Albino explained that we were
travelling over the country in search of ruins, and the gentleman
looked at him perhaps somewhat as the inn-keeper looked at Sancho Panza
when he explained that his master was a knight-errant travelling to
redress grievances. We succeeded, however, in coming to an
understanding about the mound, and the master told us that he had never
been to it; that there was no path; that if we attempted to go to it we
should be eaten up by garrapatas, and he called some Indians, who said
that it was entirely in ruins. This was satisfactory, for the idea of
being loaded with garrapatas to carry about till night had almost made
me recoil. At the same time, the other gentlemen told us of other ruins
at a league's distance from Tekax, on the hacienda of Señor Calera. I
felt strongly disposed to turn off and visit the latter, but our
carrier had gone on, and the little difficulties of overtaking him,
procuring another for a change of route, and perhaps losing a day, were
now serious objections; besides, there was no end to the ruins.

Leaving the hacienda, we entered, with a satisfaction that can hardly
be described, upon a broad road for carretas and calesas. We had
emerged from the narrow and tangled path of milpas and ranchos, and
were once more on a camino real. We had accomplished a journey which we
were assured, on setting out, was impracticable; and now we were coming
upon the finest portion of the state, famed for its rich sugar
plantations. We met heavy, lumbering vehicles drawn by oxen and horses,
carrying sugar from the haciendas. Very soon we reached Tekax, one of
the four places in Yucatan bearing the name of a city, and I must
confess that I felt some degree of excitement. Throughout Yucatan our
journey had been so quiet, so free from danger or interruption of any
kind, that, after my Central American experience, it seemed unnatural.
Yucatan was in a state of open rebellion against Mexico; we had heard
of negotiations, but there had been no tumult, confusion, or bloodshed.
Tekax alone had broken the general stillness, and while the rest of the
country was perfectly quiet, this interior city had got up a small
revolution on its own account, and for the benefit of whom it might

According to the current reports, this revolution was got up by three
patriotic individuals, whose names, unfortunately, I have lost. They
belonged to the party called Los Independientes, in favour of declaring
independence of Mexico. The elections had gone against their party, and
alcaldes in favour of a reannexation to Mexico were installed in
office. In the mean time commissioners arrived from Santa Ana to
negotiate with the government of Yucatan, urging it not to make any
open declaration but to continue quietly in its state of independence
de facto until the internal difficulties of Mexico were settled, when
its complaints would be attended to and its grievances redressed.
Afraid of the influence which these commissioners might exercise, the
three patriots of Tekax resolved to strike for liberty, went round
among the ranches of the sierra, and collected a band of more than
half-naked Indians, who, armed with machetes, a few old muskets, and
those primitive weapons with which David slew Goliath, descended upon
Tekax, and, to the great alarm of the women and children, took
possession of the plaza, set up the figure of Santa Ana, pelted him
with stones, put some bullets into him, burned him to ashes, and
shouted "Viva la independencia." But few of them had ever heard of
Santa Ana, but this was no reason why they should not pelt him with
stones and burn him in effigy. They knew nothing of the relations
between Yucatan and Mexico, and by the cry of independencia they meant
a release from tribute to the government and debts to masters. With but
little practice in revolutions, they made a fair start by turning out
the alcaldes and levying contributions upon political opponents, and
threw out the formidable threat that they would march three hundred men
against the capital, and compel a declaration of independence.
Intelligence of these movements soon reached Merida, and fearful
menaces of war were bandied from one city to the other. Each waited for
the other to make the first demonstration, but at length the capital
sent forth its army, which leached Ticul the day after I left at the
conclusion of my first visit, and while Doctor Cabot was still there.
It was then within one day's march of the seat of rebellion, but halted
to rest, and to let the moral effect of its approach go on before. The
reader has perhaps never before heard of Tekax; nevertheless, a year
has not elapsed since the patriotic, half-naked band in arms for
independence thought that the eyes of the whole world were upon them.
In three days the regular army resumed its march, with cannon in front,
colours flying, drums beating, and the women of Ticul laughing, sure
that there would be no bloodshed. The same day it reached Tekax, and
the next morning, instead of falling upon each other like so many wild
beasts, the officers and the three patriot leaders were seen walking
arm in arm together in the plaza. The former promised good offices to
their new friends, two reales apiece to the Indians, and the revolution
was crushed. All dispersed, ready to take up arms again upon the same
terms whenever their country's good should so require.

Such were the accounts we had received, always coupled with sweeping
denunciations of the population of Tekax as revolutionary and radical,
and the rabble of Yucatan. Having somewhat of a leaning to revolutions
in the abstract, I was happy to find that, with such a bad reputation,
its appearance was finer, and more promising than that of any town I
had seen, and I could not but think it would be well for Yucatan if
many of her dead-and-alive villages had more such rabble.

The city stands at the foot of the sierra. Riding up the street, we had
in full view the church of La Hermita, with a broad flight of stone
steps scaling the side of the mountain. The streets were wide, the
houses large and in fine order, and one had three stories, with
balconies overhanging the street; and there was an appearance of life
and business which, coming as we did from Indian ranches, and so long
away from anything that looked like a city and the comforts and
elegances of living, was really exciting.

As we rode along a gay calesa approached us, occupied by a gentleman
and lady, well dressed and handsome, and, to our surprise, in the lady
we recognised the fair subject upon whom we had begun business as
Daguerreotype portrait takers, and whose gift of a cake had penetrated
the very leather of my saddle-bags. A few short weeks had made a great
change in her condition; she was now riding by the side of her lawful
proprietor. We attempted, by the courtesy of our salute, to withdraw
attention from our wearing apparel. Unluckily, Doctor Cabot's sombrero
was tied under his chin, so that he could not get it off. Mine, with
one of the strings carried away, described a circle in the air, and, as
the doctor maliciously said, disappeared under my horse. The gentleman
nodded condescendingly, but it was flattering ourselves to believe that
the lady took any notice of us whatever.

But though old friends forgot us, we were not unnoticed by the citizens
of Tekax. As we rode along all eyes were turned upon us. We stopped in
the plaza, which, with its great church and the buildings around it,
was the finest we had seen in the country, and all the people ran out
to the corridors to gaze at us. It was an unprecedented thing for
strangers to pass through this place. European saddles, holsters, and
arms were strange, and, including Albino, we made the cabalistic number
of three which got up the late revolution. Knowing the curiosity we
excited, and that all were anxious to speak to us, without dismounting
or exchanging a word with an inhabitant, we passed through the plaza
and continued our journey. The people were bewildered, as if the ragged
tail of a comet had passed over their heads; and afterward, at a
distant village, we heard the report that we had passed through Tekax
_vestidos como Moros_, or dressed like Moors. The good people, having
never seen a Moor, and not being very familiar with Moorish costume,
had taken our blouzes for such. The strange guise in which we appeared
to them alleviated somewhat the mortification of not being recognised
by the fair lady of Merida.

Our road lay for some distance along the sierra. It was broad, open,
and the sun beat fiercely upon us. At half past ten we reached Akil,
and rode up to the casa real. At the door was a stone hollowed out like
those often before referred to, called pilas. In the steps and
foundation were sculptured stones from ruined mounds in the immediate
neighbourhood, and the road along the yard of the church ran through a
mound, leaving part on each side, and the excavated mass forming on one
side the wall of the convent yard. The rest of the wall, the church,
and the convent were built with stones from the ancient buildings. We
were on the site of another ruined city, of which we had never heard,
and might never have known, but for the telltale memorials at the door
of the casa real.

At a quarter before three we resumed our journey. The sun was still
very hot; the road was straight, stony, and uninteresting, a great part
of the way through overgrown milpas. At half past five we reached Mani,
again finding over the door and along the sides of the casa real
sculptured stones, some of them of new and curious designs; in one
compartment was a seated figure, with what might seem a crown and
sceptre, and the figures of the sun and moon on either side of his
head, curious and interesting in themselves, independent of the
admonition that we were again on the site of an aboriginal city.

In all our journey through this country there were no associations. Day
after day we rode into places unknown beyond the boundaries of Yucatan,
with no history attached to them, and touching no chord of feeling.
Mani, however, rises above the rest, and, compared with the profound
obscurity or the dim twilight in which other places are enveloped, its
history is plainly written.

When the haughty caciques of Maya rebelled against the supreme lord,
and destroyed the city of Mayapan, the reigning monarch was left with
only the territory of Mani, the people of which had not joined in the
rebellion. Here, reduced in power to the level of the other caciques,
the race of the ancient lords of Maya ruled undisturbed until the time
of the Spanish invasion; but the shadow of the throne rested over it;
it was consecrated in the affections of the Indians, and long after the
conquest it bore the proud name of la Corona real de Mani.

It has been mentioned that on their arrival at Tihoo the Spaniards
encamped on a cerro, or mound, which stood on the site now occupied by
the plaza of Merida. While in this position, surrounded by hostile
Indians, their supplies cut off and straitened for provisions, one day
the scouts brought intelligence to Don Francisco Montejo of a great
body of Indians, apparently warlike, advancing toward them. From the
top of the cerro they discovered the multitude, and among them one
borne on the shoulders of men, as if extended on a bier. Supposing that
a battle was certain, the Spaniards recommended themselves to God, the
chaplain held up a holy cross, and, prostrating themselves before it,
they took up their arms. As the Indians drew near to the cerro, they
lowered to the ground the person whom they carried on their shoulders,
who approached alone, threw down his bow and arrow, and, raising both
hands, made a signal that he came in peace. Immediately all the Indians
laid their bows and arrows on the ground, and, touching their fingers
to the earth, kissed them, also in token of good-will.

The chief advanced to the foot of the mound and began to ascend it. Don
Francisco stepped forward to meet him, and the Indian made him a
profound reverence; Don Francisco received him with cordiality, and,
taking him by the hand, conducted him to his quarters.

This Indian was Tutul Xiu, the greatest lord in all that country, the
lineal descendant of the royal house which once ruled over the whole
land of Maya, and then cacique of Mani. He said that, moved by the
valour and perseverance of the Spaniards, he had come voluntarily to
render obedience, and to offer his aid and that of his subjects for the
pacification of the rest; and he brought a large present of turkeys,
fruits, and other provisions. He had come to be their friend; he
desired, also, to be a Christian, and asked the adelantado to go
through some Christian ceremonies. The latter made a most solemn
adoration to the holy cross, and Tutul Xiu, watching attentively,
imitated the Spaniard as well as he could until, with many
demonstrations of joy, he came to kiss the cross on his knees. The
Spaniards were delighted, and, the adoration over, they remarked that
this fortunate day for them was that of the glorious San Ildefonso,
whom they immediately elected for their patron saint.

Tutul Xiu was accompanied by other caciques, whose names, as found in
an Indian manuscript, have been handed down. They remained with the
Spaniards seventy days, and on taking leave, Tutul Xiu promised to send
ambassadors to solicit the other chiefs, though they were not his
vassals, to render obedience to the Spaniards; when, leaving them a
great supply of provisions and many Indian servants, he returned to

He convoked all his Indians, and gave them notice of his intentions,
and of the agreement he had made with the Spaniards; to which they all

Afterward he despatched the caciques who went with him to render
submission to the Spaniards, as ambassadors to the Lords of Zotuta,
called the Cocomes, and the other nations to the east as far as the
region where now stands the city of Valladolid, making known to them
his resolution, and the friendship he had contracted with the
Spaniards, and beseeching them to do the same; representing that the
Spaniards were determined to remain in the land, had established
themselves in Campeachy, and were preparing to do so in Tihoo;
reminding them how many battles they had fought, and how many lives of
the natives had been lost; and informing them that he had experienced
from the Spaniards while he remained with them good-will, and that he
held it better for all his countrymen to follow his example,
considering the dangers of the opposite course.

The ambassadors proceeded to the district of Zotuta, and made known
their embassy to Nachi Cocom, the principal lord of that territory. The
latter requested them to wait four or five days for their answer, and
in the mean time convoked all his dependant caciques, who, in concert
with this chief, determined to make a great wild-boar hunt, ostensibly
to fête the ambassadors. Under this pretext, they enticed them from the
inhabited parts of the country into a dense forest, and feasted them
three days. On the fourth they assembled to eat beneath a large sapote
tree, and the last act of the feast was to cut the throats of the
ambassadors, sparing but one, whom they charged to inform Tutul Xiu of
their reception of his embassy, and to reproach him with his cowardice;
but though they spared the life of this one, they put out his eyes with
an arrow, and sent him, under the charge of four captains, to the
territory of Tutul Xiu, where they left him and returned to their own

Such were the unfortunate circumstances under which Mani became known
to the Spaniards. It was the first interior town that submitted to
their power, and by referring to the map, the reader will see that
after our long, irregular, and devious route, we are at this moment but
four leagues from Ticul, and but eleven from Uxmal by the road of the
country, while the distance is much less in a straight line.

Among the wonders unfolded by the discovery of these ruined cities,
what made the strongest impression on our minds was the fact that their
immense population existed in a region so scantily supplied with water.
Throughout the whole country there is no stream, or spring, or living
fountain, and, but for the extraordinary caves and hollows in the rocks
from which the inhabitants at this day drink, they must have been
entirely dependant upon artificial fountains, and literally upon the
rain that came down from heaven. But on this point there is one
important consideration. The aborigines of this country had no horses
or cattle, or large domestic animals, and the supply required for the
use of man only was comparatively small. Perhaps at this day, with
different wants and habits, the same country would not support the same
amount of population. And, besides, the Indian now inhabiting that dry
and thirsty region illustrates the effect of continual scarcity, habit,
and training, in subduing the appetites. Water is to him, as to the
Arab of the Desert, a scarce and precious commodity. When he puts down
the load from his back, his body streaming with perspiration, a few
sips of water dipped up in the palm of his hand from a hollow rock
suffice to quench his thirst. Still, under any circumstances, the
sources of supply present one of the most interesting features
connected with the discovery of these ruined cities, and go to confirm
belief in the vast numbers and power, as well as the laborious industry
of the ancient inhabitants.

It was late on Saturday afternoon when we reached Mani. The guarda of
Indians had served their term of a week in attendance at the casa real,
and were now retiring from office, as usual all intoxicated, but we got
a large room swept out, had it furnished with chairs and tables, and
our hammocks hung up; and here, amid the wrecks of cities, we were
almost in ruins ourselves. Before resorting to our hammocks we made an
important and touching discovery, which was that we had but one clean
camisa between us; and if the reader knew the extent of our travelling
wardrobe, he would, perhaps, be somewhat astonished that we had that.
Nevertheless, the discovery perplexed us. The next day was Sunday; all
the village would appear in clean clothes; it was mortifying that we
could not do so too, and, besides, we had some little feeling on the
score of personal comfort. In Europe, with a frock-coat buttoned tight
across the breast, black stock, and one pair of pantaloons, hat, and
boots, the traveller is independent of the world, but not so under the
hot sun of Yucatan. We sent Albino out to look for supplies, but he
returned unsuccessful, though he did succeed in making a bargain with a
woman to wash an entire change for us the next day; but she could
hardly be made to understand that stockings and sheets were included in
a change.

                               CHAPTER XV.

Buying a Wardrobe.--Crowd of Loungers.--Visit to the Ruins.--A long
Edifice built by the Spaniards.--Interesting Well.--Indian Legend.--The
Mother of the Dwarf.--Exploration of the Well.--Remains of large
Mounds.--Cogolludo.--Ancient and curious Painting.--Books and ancient
Characters of the Indians burned by the Spaniards.--Archives of
Mani.--Important Documents.--Ancient Map.--Instrument endorsed
on its Back.--Important Bearing of these Documents.--What was
Uxmal?--Argument.--No Vestiges of a Spanish Town at Uxmal.--Churches
erected by the Spaniards in all their Settlements.--No Indications of a
Church at Uxmal.--Conclusions.--Suspicions of the People.--Church and
Convent.--Extensive View from the Top of the Church.

Early in the morning Albino was in quest of some gentleman who might
have a spare camisa and pantaloons which he would be willing to part
with, and, by one of those rare pieces of good luck that sometimes
illuminate the path of a traveller, he procured both, the latter having
an elegantly embroidered bosom, which fell to Doctor Cabot; and, with
my cast-off blouse, which was in better condition than his, and a thin
frock-coat, that considered itself cast-off some time before, for
myself, we were able to make a dashing appearance in the streets.

Notwithstanding our perplexities, I had an uncommon degree of
satisfaction at waking up in Mani. I had heard of this place on my
first visit to Uxmal, of relics and heirlooms in the hands of the
cacique, and of ruins, which, however, we were advised were not worth
visiting. The morning, nevertheless, did not open with much promise. On
first emerging we found about the door of the casa real a crowd of
loungers, of that mixed race who might trace their ancestry to the
subjects of Tutul Xiu and the conquerors, possessing all the bad
qualities of both, and but few of the good traits of either. Some of
them were intoxicated, and there were many half-grown, impudent boys,
who kept close to us, watching every movement, and turning aside to
laugh when they could do so unobserved.

We set out to look at the ruins, and the crowd followed at our heels.
At the end of a street leading to the well we saw a long building,
pierced in the middle by the street, and part still standing on each
side. We saw at a glance that it was not the work of the antiguos, but
had been erected by the Spaniards since the conquest, and yet we were
conducted to it as one of the same class with those we had found all
over the country; though we did meet with one intelligent person, who
smiled at the ignorance of the people, and said that it was a palace of
_El Rey_, or the _king_, Montejo. Its true history is perhaps as much
unknown as that of the more ancient buildings. In its tottering front
were interspersed sculptured stones taken from the aboriginal edifices,
and thus, in its own decay, it publishes the sad story that it had
risen upon the ruins of another race.

Near this building, and at the corner of the street, is the well
referred to in the conclusion of my legend of the House of the Dwarf at
Uxmal. "The old woman (the mother of the Dwarf) then died, but at the
Indian village of Mani there is a deep well, from which opens a cave
that leads under ground an immense distance to Merida. In this cave, on
the bank of a stream, under the shade of a large tree, sits an old
woman, with a serpent by her side, who sells water in small quantities,
not for money, but only for a criatura, or baby, to give the serpent to
eat; and this old woman is the mother of the Dwarf." The entrance to
the well was under a great shelf of overhanging rock, forming the mouth
of a magnificent cavern, wild enough to sustain the legend. The roof
was high, and the villagers had constructed steps, by which, walking
erect, we reached a large pool of water, whence women were filling
their cantaros. At one side was an opening in the rock above, which
should have been, and was intended to be, made directly over the water,
for the purpose of drawing it up in buckets; and as this mistake
occurred in a cave where the water is but a short distance from the
mouth, and the passage is wide, it shows the difficulty, without any
knowledge of the use of instruments, of fixing on the surface the
precise point over the water in the other caves, which have long,
narrow, and winding passages.

In the yards of some houses on a street at the rear of the casa real
were the remains of large mounds. In the wall round the square of the
church was a large circular upright stone, like those heretofore called
picotes, or whipping-posts, and our guide told us that in the suburbs
there were other mounds; but, without leaving the streets, we saw
enough to satisfy us that Mani stood on the site of an ancient town of
the same general character with all the others.

Returning to the casa real, we found a new guarda, who came into office
rather more intoxicated than their predecessors in going out. Albino
had inquired of the cacique for the ancient relics of which we had
heard accounts, and the Indians brought a copy of Cogolludo, wrapped up
and treasured with great care in the casa real. This did not astonish
us much, and they opened the book and pointed out a picture, the only
one in it, being a representation of the murder of the ambassadors of
Tutul Xiu; and while we were looking at it they brought out and
unrolled on the floor an old painting on cotton cloth, being the
original from which Cogolludo had the engraving made. The design was a
coat of arms bordered with the heads of the murdered ambassadors, one
of which has an arrow fixed in the temple, intended to represent the
ambassador who had his eyes put out with this weapon. In the centre is
a tree growing out of a box, representing the sapote tree at Zotuta,
under which the murder was committed, and which, the Indians say, is
still standing. This tree I shall have occasion to mention again
hereafter. The painting had evidently been executed by an Indian, and
probably very near the time of the occurrence which it was intended to
commemorate. Cogolludo refers to it as an ancient and interesting relic
in his time, and, of course, it is much more so now. It is an object of
great reverence among the Indians of Mani. In fact, throughout our
whole journeyings, either in Central America or Yucatan, it was the
first and only instance in which we met with any memorial in the hands
of the Indians, tending to keep alive the memory of any event in their
history; but this must not be imputed to them as a reproach. History,
dark as it is on other points, shows clearly enough that this now
abject and degraded race did cling with desperate and fatal tenacity to
the memory of those ancestors whom they know not now; the records of
their conquerors show the ruthless and savage policy pursued by the
Spaniards to root this memory from their minds; and here, in this very
town of Mani, we have a dark and memorable instance.

In 1571, twenty-nine years after the foundation of Merida, some Indians
of Mani relapsed and became idolaters, practising in secret their
ancient rites.

Intelligence of their backsliding reached the ears of the provincial in
Merida, who came to Mani in person, and forthwith established himself
as inquisitor. Some who had died obstinately in the secret practice of
idolatrous rites had been buried in sacred ground; he ordered their
bodies to be dug up, and their bones thrown into the fields; and, in
order to strike terror into the minds of the Indians, and root out the
memory of their ancient rites, on a day appointed for that purpose,
attended by the principal of the Spanish nobility, and in the presence
of a great multitude of Indians, he made them bring together all their
books and ancient characters, and publicly burned them, thus destroying
at once the history of their antiquities. Those envious of the blessed
father, says the historian, gave him the title of cruel; but very
differently thought of the action the Doctor Don Pedro Sanchez de
Aguilar, in his information against the idolaters of this country.

The sight of this painting made me more earnest in pushing my inquiries
for other memorials, but this was all; the Indians had no more to show,
and I then inquired of the alcalde for ancient archives. He knew
nothing about them, but said we could examine for ourselves, and the
key of the apartment in which they were kept was with the second

The schoolmaster of the village, who had received a letter in our
behalf from our friend the cura Carillo of Ticul, accompanied me to
look for the second alcalde, and, after tracing him to several places,
we procured the keys, and returned to the casa real, and when we
unlocked the door we had thirty or forty persons to enter with us. The
books and archives of the municipality were in the back room, and among
them was one large volume which had an ancient and venerable appearance
being bound in parchment, tattered, and worm-eaten, and having a flap
to close like that of a pocket-book. Unhappily, it was written in the
Maya language, and perfectly unintelligible. The dates, however, showed
that these venerable pages were a record of events which had taken
place within a very few years after the entry of the Spaniards into the
country; and as I pored over them, I was strongly impressed with the
belief that directly, or in some incidental expressions, they contained
matter which might throw some light upon the subject of my

Being Sunday, a crowd of curious and lazy lookers-on surrounded the
table, but they could not distract my attention. I found that, though
all could speak the Maya, none could read it. Nevertheless; I continued
to turn over the pages. On the 157th page, in a document which bore the
date of 1557, I saw the word _Vxmal_. Here I stopped, and called upon
the by-standers. The schoolmaster was the only one who could even
attempt to give me any assistance, but he was not familiar with the
Maya as a written tongue, and said that this, having been written
nearly three hundred years before, differed somewhat from that of the
present day, and was more difficult to comprehend. Other places were
referred to in the document, the names of which were familiar to me,
and I observed that the words immediately preceding Vxmal were
different from those preceding the other names. The presumption was
that Uxmal was referred to in some different sense.

In turning to the end of the document I found a sheet of foolscap
paper, which had been secured in the book, but was then loose; and upon
it was a curious map, also dated in 1557, of which Mani was the centre.
Vxmal was laid down upon it, and indicated by a peculiar sign,
different from that of all the other places named. On the back of the
map was endorsed a long instrument of the same date, in which the word
_Vxmal_ again occurred, and which, beyond doubt, contained matter
relating to other places named in the map, and to their condition or
state of being at that time. With the assistance of the schoolmaster I
compared this with the one written in the book, and ascertained that
the latter was a recorded copy of the other.

A few pages beyond was another document, bearing date in 1556, one year
earlier, and in this, again, the word Vxmal appeared. The schoolmaster
was able to give me some general idea of the contents, but he could not
translate with facility nor, as he said, very accurately. The alcalde
sent for an Indian escribano, or clerk, of the municipality; but he was
not in the village, and an old Indian was brought who had formerly
served in that capacity; but, after staring stupidly at the pages as if
looking at a row of machetes, he said he had grown so old that he had
forgotten how to read. My only course was to have copies made, which
the schoolmaster set about immediately, and late in the afternoon he
placed them in my hands. In the evening, by the permission of the
alcalde, I took the book to my quarters, and looked over every page,
running my finger along every line, in search of the word Uxmal, but I
did not meet with it in any other place, and probably the documents
referred to are the most ancient, if not the only ones in existence of
ancient date, in which that name is mentioned.

The copies I carried with me to my friend Don Pio Perez, who discovered
some errors, and, at his instance, my good friend the cura Carillo went
over to Mani, and made exact copies of the map and documents. He also
made diligent search through the Maya archives for other papers
mentioning Uxmal, or referring to it in any way, but found none. He
added to his copies a translation, which was revised by Don Pio, and it
is from his version that what follows is prepared.

[Engraving 35: Map of Mani]

The engraving opposite is a copy of the ancient map, the original of
which covers one side of a sheet of foolscap paper.

The instrument endorsed on the back, as translated, reads as follows:

"Memorandum of having divided the lands by D. Francisco Montejo Xiu,
governor of this pueblo of Mani, and the governors of the pueblos who
are under him.

"There met together Don Francisco Montejo Xiu governor of this pueblo,
and of the jurisdiction of Tutul Xiu; Don Francisco Che, governor of
Ticul, Don Francisco Pacab, governor of Oxcutzcab, Don Diego Vs,
governor of Tekax, Don Alonzo Pacab, governor of Jan-monal, Don Juan
Che, governor of Mama, Don Alonzo Xiu, governor of Tekit, and the other
governors within the jurisdiction of Mani, together with the regidores,
for the purpose of regulating the landmarks, and maintaining the right
of each village respecting the felling of trees, and to fix and settle
with crosses the boundaries of the milpas of their respective villages,
dividing them into parts according to their situation, showing the
lands pertaining to each. The people of Canul, those of Acanceh, of
Ticoh, those of Cosuma, those of Zotuta and its jurisdiction, those of
Tixcacab, a part of those of Peto, Colotmul, and Zuccacab, after having
conferred together, declared it necessary to cite the governors of the
villages, and we answered that they should come to this audiencia of
Mani, each one bringing with him two regidores to be present at the
division of the lands Don Juan Canul, governor of Nunkini, and
Francisco Ci, his colleague; D. Juan Cocom, governor of Ticoh, D.
Gaspar Tun of Cosuma, Don Juan Cocom, governor of Sotuta, D. Gonzalo
Tuyn, governor of Tixcacab, D. Juan Han of Yaxcacab; these received the
donation on the fifth day from Merida, consisting of one hundred
'paties' of fine sheets, each pati or cotton cloth, and thus they
continued receiving by twenties for a beginning, being rolled up by
Juan Nic, Pedro May, and Pedro Coba, assembled in the house of Don
Francisco Montejo Xiu, governor of the village of Mani; three arrobas
of wax, which were sold by them, Don Juan Cocom of Zotuta having first
received them. In Talchaquillo, on the road to Merida, toward the north
of said village, the cross was planted, and called Hoal. In Sacmuyalna
they put a cross; this is the limit of the lands of those of Ticoh. In
Kochilha a cross was placed. In Cisinil, Toyotha, Chulul Ytza, Ocansip,
and Tiphal, crosses were placed; this is the boundary of the milpas and
the lands of those of Maxcanú-al Canules, In Kaxabceh Chacnocac, Calam,
Sactos, are the limits of the fields of the Canules, and there crosses
were placed. In Zemesahal and in Opal were planted crosses: these are
the limits of the grounds of the villagers of Kilhini and Becal. In
Yaxche Sucilha Xcalchen, Tehico Sahcabchen Xbacal, Opichen, crosses
were planted. Twenty-two is the number of the places marked, and they
returned to raise new landmarks, by the command of the judge, Felipe
Manriques, specially commissioned by his excellency the governor, when
he arrived at _Uxmal_ accompanied by his interpreter, Gaspar Antonio,"
&c. The rest of this document I omit.

The other document begins as follows: "On the tenth of August, in the
year one thousand five hundred and fifty-six, the special judge arrived
with his interpreter, Gaspar Antonio, _from Vxmal_, when they reached
this chief village of Mani, with the other caciques that followed them,
Don Francisco Che, governor of Ticul, Don Francisco Pacab, governor of
Tekax, Don Alonzo Pacab, governor of Jan, Don Juan Che, governor of
Mama, Don Alonzo Xiu, governor of Tekit, with the other governors of
his suite, Don Juan Cacom, governor of Tekoh, with Don Gaspar Fun, Don
Juan Camal, governor of Nunhini, Don Francisco Ciz, other governor of
Cosuma, Don Juan Cocom, governor of Zotuta, Don Gonzalo Fuyú, governor
of Tixcacaltuyú, Don Juan Han, governor of Yaxcaba; those were brought
to this chief village of Mani _from_ Vxmal, with the others named, and
the judge Felipe Manrique, with Gaspar Antonio, commissioned
interpreter." Of this, too, the rest is omitted, not being relevant to
this subject.

The reader will observe that, fifteen or sixteen years after the
foundation of Merida, Mani had the same pre-eminence of position as
when Tutul Xiu went up with his dependant caciques to make submission
to the Spaniards. It was the "chief village," the central point for
meeting and settling the boundaries of villages; but it appears, on the
face of these documents, that great changes had already occurred. In
fact, even at that early date we see the entering wedge, which, since
driven to its mark, has overturned all the institutions and destroyed
forever the national character of the aboriginal inhabitants. The
Indians were still rulers over their villages, and meet to settle their
boundary lines, but they meet under the direction of Don Felipe
Manriques, a Spanish officer, specially commissioned for that purpose;
they establish their boundaries by planting _crosses_, symbols
introduced by the Spaniards; they have lost their proud and independent
national title of cacique, and are styled _Dons_ and _Gobernadores_;
under the gentle patting of the hand destined soon to crush their race,
they have abandoned even the names received from their fathers, and
have adopted, either voluntarily or by coercion, the Christian names of
the Spaniards; and the Lord of Mani himself, the lineal descendant of
the royal house of Maya, either that same Tutul Xiu who first submitted
himself and his vassals to the dominion of Don Francisco Montejo, or
his immediate descendant, in compliment to the conqueror and destroyer
of his race, appears meekly and ingloriously under the name of _Don
Francisco Xiu_.

But it is not for the sake of this melancholy tale that I have
introduced these documents; they have another and a more important
bearing. By this act of partition it appears that, in 1667, "the judge
_arrived at Uxmal_, accompanied by his interpreter Don Antonio Gaspar."
And by the agreement it appears that in 1556, one year previous, the
special judge _arrived_ with his interpreter, Gaspar Antonio, _from
Uxmal_, when they reached the chief village of Mani with the other
caciques who followed them. The names are all given, and it is said
these "_were brought to this_ chief village of Mani _from Uxmal_, with
the others named, and the judge Felipe Manrique and Gaspar Antonio,
commissioned interpreter."

Now what was Uxmal? It is clear, beyond all question, that it was a
place at which persons could arrive, at which they could be, and from
which they could come. I am safe in supposing that it was not a mere
hacienda, for at that early period of the conquest haciendas had not
begun to be established; and, besides, the title papers of Don Simon
Peon show that the first grant of it was made for the purposes of a
hacienda one hundred and forty-four or one hundred and forty-five years
afterward, at which time the land was waste and belonged to the crown,
and had small settlements of Indians upon it, who were publicly and
notoriously worshipping the devil in the ancient buildings. It was not,
then, a hacienda. Was it a Spanish town? If so, some remains would have
been visible at the time of the grant, and the great object of driving
away the Indians and breaking up their idolatrous worship would already
have been accomplished. There is no indication, record, or tradition
that a Spanish town was ever established at Uxmal; the general belief
is that there never was any; Don Simon is sure of it, and in that
confidence I fully participate. But as the strongest proof on this
point, I call in this ancient map. It is a fact perhaps more clearly
established than any other in the history of the conquest, that in
every Indian village in which the Spaniards made a settlement, with
that strong religious enthusiasm which formed so remarkable a feature
in their daring and unscrupulous character, their first act was the
erection of a church. Now it will be remarked that nearly all the
places laid down on the map are indicated by the sign of a church; most
of them now exist, all have aboriginal names, and the inference is that
they were at that time existing aboriginal towns, in which the
Spaniards had erected churches, or had taken the preliminary steps for
doing so. Several of these places we had visited; we had seen their
churches reared upon the ruins of ancient buildings, and in their
immediate vicinity vestiges and extensive ruins of the same general
character with those at Uxmal.

But Uxmal, it will be seen, is not indicated by the sign of a church.
This I consider evidence that no church was erected there, and that
while the Spaniards were establishing settlements in other Indian
towns, for some reason, now unknown, perhaps on account of its
unhealthiness, at Uxmal they made none. But it will be seen farther,
that Uxmal not only is not indicated by the sign of a church, but is
indicated by one entirely different, of a peculiar and striking
character, which was manifestly never adopted from caprice or without
cause. In my opinion, this sign was intended to represent what would
most clearly distinguish a large place without a church from those in
which churches had been erected, the characteristic ornaments on the
fronts of the aboriginal buildings, as now seen at Uxmal. It is the
same obvious character or symbol which might serve at this day to
indicate on a map a city like Uxmal, and to my mind the conclusion is
irresistible that at the time when the Judge Don Felipe Manriques
arrived _at_ Uxmal and arrived _from_ Uxmal, it was an existing
inhabited aboriginal town. Farther, in the scanty light that we have on
this subject, the slightest incidental circumstance is not to be
disregarded. In each reference to his arrival at or from Uxmal, it is
mentioned that he was accompanied by his interpreter. He would not need
an interpreter if the place was desolate, or if it was a hacienda, or a
Spanish town. He could need an interpreter only when the place was
occupied by the aborigines, whose language he did not understand, and
such, I cannot help believing, was actually the case. I can easily
believe, too, that its depopulation and desolation within the hundred
and forty years preceding the royal grant for the purposes of a
hacienda, were the inevitable consequence of the policy pursued by the
Spaniards in their subjugation of the country. I would remark that
there is no doubt of the authenticity of these documents. They are true
records of events which occurred at that early period of the conquest
To this day the map and act of partition are good evidence in all legal
proceedings affecting the title to lands in that neighbourhood, and I
afterward saw them enrolled as proofs and forming part of the record in
a contested and protracted lawsuit.

I make no apology for dwelling so long upon this ancient map. Perhaps,
however, it will not interest the reader so much as it did ourselves
and the half-breeds of Mani. These ascribed our curiosity to a much
less innocent motive than that of investigating the history of ancient
cities. In consequence of some recent difficulties, los Ingleses were
somewhat objects of suspicion; the idlers of Mani made close inquiries
of Albino touching our reasons for wanting the map, and, not being able
to comprehend his explanations, which were, perhaps, not very clear,
they said that we intended to seek out and seize the strong points for
fortifications; and, with a spirit unlike that of their warlike sires,
Spanish or Indian, quietly made up their minds that we intended to
reduce the country and make slaves of them.

Toward evening we strolled over to the church and convent, which are
among the grandest of these early structures erected in Yucatan, proud
monuments of the zeal and labour of the Franciscan friars. They were
built under the direction of Friar Juan of Merida, distinguished as a
warrior and conqueror, but who threw aside the sword and put on the
habit of a monk. According to Cogolludo, they were both finished in the
short space of seven months, the cacique who had been lord of that
country furnishing six thousand Indians. Built upon the ruins of
another race, they are now themselves tottering and going to decay.

The convent had two stories, with a great corridor all round; but the
doors were broken and the windows wide open, rain beat into the rooms,
and grass grew on the floor.

The roof of the church formed a grand promenade, commanding an almost
boundless view of the great region of country of which it was once the
chief place and centre. Far as the eye could reach was visible the
great sierra, running from east to west, a dark line along the plain.
All the rest was plain, dotted only by small clearings for villages. My
guide pointed out and named Tekax, Akil, Oxcutzcab, Schochnoche,
Pustonich, Ticul, Jan, Chapap, Mama, Tipika, Teab, the same villages
laid down in the ancient map, whose caciques came up, three hundred
years before, to settle the boundaries of their lands; and he told me
that, under a clearer atmosphere, more were visible. Some I had
visited, and had seen the crumbling remains of the ancient town; and
looking at them from the roof of the church, the old map gave them a
vividness, reality, and life, as they had been three hundred years
before, more exciting than the wildest speculations in regard to lost
and unknown races. The sun went down, and the gloom of night gathered
over the great plain, emblematic of the fortunes and the fate of its
ancient inhabitants.

                               CHAPTER XVI.

Departure from Mani.--Ornithology of Yucatan.--Discoveries of Doctor
Cabot.--Village of Tixmeach.--Peto.--Church and Convent.--News
from Home.--Don Pio Perez.--Indian Almanac.--A Fragment of Maya
Manuscript.--Journey resumed.--Taihxiu.--Yaxcala.--Pisté.--Arrival
at Chichen.--First Sight of the Ruins.--The Hacienda.--A strange
Reception.--Lodgings.--Situation of the Ruins.--Mr. Burke.--Magnificent
Appearance of the Ruins.--Derivation of the Word
Chichen.--Senotes.--Different from those before presented.--Mischievous
Boys.--Failure of the Corn Crop.

Monday, March 7. Before daylight the next morning we left Mani.

Our present mode of travelling favoured Doctor Cabot's particular
objects. His best chance for procuring birds was always on the road,
the time passed at ruins, on account of the density of the woods and
underbrush, being in a great measure lost to him. Yucatan had never
before been explored ornithologically; or, to speak more correctly, the
only person who had given any attention to that branch of its natural
history, a German, died in the country; his collections were scattered
and his notes lost. Doctor Cabot's field of operations, therefore, was,
like our own entirely new; and our attention being constantly directed
to the brilliant plumage of the birds and their interesting habits,
they became identified with the purposes of our journey. It was my
intention to obtain from Doctor Cabot, and publish in this work, a full
essay on the ornithology of the country, but I find my materials so
abundant and my volumes growing to such a bulk that compression has
become a work of serious necessity.

Doctor Cabot has published, in the Boston Journal of Natural History,
an account of his observations upon one rare and splendid bird, the
ocellated turkey, of which one stuffed specimen at the Jardin des
Plantes, and another in the collection of the Earl of Derby, are the
only two known to exit, and of which, besides obtaining a stuffed
specimen, we succeeded in transporting two living birds from the
interior, and embarking them for home, but lost them overboard on the
voyage. I have hopes that he may be induced to publish a full account
of his observations upon the ornithology of Yucatan. In the mean time I
give in the Appendix a memorandum of about one hundred birds observed
by him in that country, which are also found within the United States,
and have been figured and described by Wilson, Bonaparte, Audubon, and
Nuttall; of others, which are well known to the scientific world for
their striking brilliancy of plumage, having been observed in different
parts of South and Central America, but are known only by skins
prepared and sold in the country, and whose habits have never been
described; and a third class, more important to the naturalist than
either of the others, comprising birds entirely unknown until
discovered by him in Yucatan. The memorandum is accompanied by a few
notes referring to the places and circumstances under which they were
procured; and in referring to them in the Appendix, I would take
occasion to say that some of the most really important matter in this
work is to be found in that place, for the sake of which I have
considered it expedient materially to abridge my narrative.

But to resume. We stopped that night at Tixmeach, eight leagues
distant, a neat village with a well one hundred and forty-four feet
deep, at which every woman drawing from it left a handful of maize for
a cantaro of water, and we paid a medio for watering our horses; and
setting out before daylight the next morning, at half past nine we
reached Peto, where we found Mr. Catherwood and our luggage on the
hands of our friend Don Pio Perez.

Peto is the head of a department, of which Don Pio Perez was gefe
politico. It was a well-built town, with streets indicated, as at
Merida, by figures on the tops of the houses. The church and convent
were large and imposing edifices, and the living of the cura one of the
most valuable in the church, being worth six or seven thousand dollars
per annum.

At this place we found letters and packets of newspapers from home,
forwarded to us from Merida, and, except attending to them, our time
was devoted almost exclusively to long and interesting conversations
with Don Pio on matters connected with the antiquities of the country.
I cannot sufficiently express my obligations to this gentleman for the
warm interest he took in facilitating our pursuits, and for the labour
he bestowed ungrudgingly in our behalf. Besides preparing a series of
verbal forms and other illustrations of the grammar of the Maya
language, according to memoranda made by the same distinguished
gentleman before referred to, he gave me a vocabulary in manuscript,
containing more than four thousand Maya words, and an almanac, prepared
by himself, according to the Indian system of computation, for the year
from the 16th of July, 1841, to the 15th of July, 1842, a translation
of which is published in the Appendix, as a key or supplement to his

Besides these, he furnished me with the copy of one other document,
which, if genuine and authentic, throws more light upon aboriginal
history than any other known to be in existence. It is a fragment of a
Maya manuscript, written from memory by an Indian, at some time not
designated, and entitled "Principal epochs of the ancient history of

It purports to give the series of "katunes," or epochs, from the time
of the departure of the Toltecs from the country of Tulapan until their
arrival at this, as it is called, island of Chacno-uitan, occupying,
according to Don Pio's computation of katunes, the lapse of time
corresponding with that between the years 144 and 217 of the Christian

It assigns dates to the discovery of Bacalar and then of Chichen Itza,
both within the three epochs corresponding with the time between A.D.
360 and A.D. 432; the colonization of Champoton, and its destruction;
the times of wandering through the uninhabited forests, and
establishing themselves a second time at Chichen Itza, within epochs
corresponding with the lapse between A.D. 888 and A.D. 936.

The epoch of the colonization of Uxmal, corresponding with the years
between A.D. 936 and 1176 A.D.; the epochs of wars between the
governors of Chichen Itza and Mayapan; the destruction of the latter
city by the Uitzes of the Sierras, or highlanders; and the arrival of
the Spaniards, adding that "Holy men from the East came with them;" and
the manuscript terminates with the epoch of the first baptism and the
arrival of the first bishop.

I shall make ho comment upon the subject matter of this manuscript. How
far it is to be regarded as authentic I am not able to say, but as the
only known manuscript in existence that purports to be written by an
Indian, in his native language, giving an account of the events in the
ancient history of this country, I publish it entire in the Appendix.
It may conflict in some particulars with opinions expressed by me but I
consider the discovery of the truth on this subject as far more
important than the confirmation of any theory of my own; and I may add
that, in general, it bears out and sustains the news presented in these

On the afternoon of the 11th of March we bade farewell to Don Pio
Perez, and set out for Chichen. Ever since we left home we had had our
eyes upon this place. We had become eager to reach it, and the
increasing bulk of these volumes warns me that I must not now linger on
the road. I shall therefore barely say that the first night we stopped
at the village of Taihxiu, the second at Yaxcaba and at noon of the
third day we reached Pisté about two miles, distant from Chichen. We
had heard some unpropitious accounts concerning the hospitality of the
proprietor of the hacienda, and thought it safer not to alarm him by
going upon him with appetites sharpened by a hard day's ride, but first
to lay the village under a moderate contribution.

At four o'clock we left Pisté, and very soon we saw rising high above
the plain the Castillo of Chichen. In half an hour we were among the
ruins of this ancient city, with all the great buildings in full view,
casting prodigious shadows over the plain, and presenting a spectacle
which even after all that we had seen, once more excited in us emotions
of wonder. The camino real ran through the midst of them, and the field
was so open that, without dismounting, we rode close in to some of the
principal edifices. Involuntarily we lingered, but night was
approaching, and, fairly drawing ourselves away, we rode on, and in a
few minutes reached the hacienda. Vaqueros were shouting, and a large
drove of cattle was pouring in at the gate. We were about following,
but a crowd of men and women on the steps of the hacienda shouted to us
not to come in, and a man ran toward us, throwing up both hands, and
shut the gate directly in our faces. This promised us another Don
Gregorio welcome; but this ominous demonstration did not mean anything
churlish; on the contrary, all was done out of kindness. We had been
expected for three months. Through the agency of friends the proprietor
had advised the major domo of our intended visit, directing him to do
all in his power to make us comfortable, and it was for this reason
that the latter had ordered the gate to be shut upon us, for, as the
man who did it told us, the hacienda was overrun with women and
children, and there was no room for another hammock. He conducted us
to the church, standing in a fine situation, and offered us the
sacristia, or vestry-room, which was new, clean, and had plastered
walls, but it was small, and had only knobs for two hammocks. It had a
door of communication with the church, and he said we might swing a
third hammock in the latter, but it was toward the end of a fiesta, the
Indians might want to use the altar, and we had some scruples.

Our alternative was a house directly opposite the gate of the hacienda,
to which there was no objection on the score of size, for as yet its
dimensions were unlimited, as it was merely a frame of poles supporting
a thatched roof, with a great pile of lime and sand in the centre,
intended to be made into walls. The proprietor was erecting it
expressly for the accommodation of travellers. While we resided in it,
the pile of lime and sand was converted to its destined purpose, and we
were plastered in; so that the next visiter to these ruins will find a
good house ready for his reception. The major domo wished us to take
our meals at the hacienda, but as we had all our travelling equipage,
we again organized for housekeeping, and to that end we had an unusual
proportion of comforts. Besides the resources of the hacienda, we had
the village of Pisté at command, and Valladolid being but six hours'
distance, we prepared an order for supplies to be sent off the next

The next morning, under the guidance of an Indian of the hacienda, we
prepared for a preliminary survey. The ruins of Chichen lie on a
hacienda, called by the name of the ancient city. It is the property of
Don Juan Sosa, and was set off to him, on the decease of his father and
an apportionment of his estate, with cattle, horses, and mules, at a
valuation of between five and six thousand dollars. As with most of the
lands in that neighbourhood, the fee is in the government, and the
proprietor entitled only to the majores, or improvements.

The ruins are nine leagues from Valladolid, the camino real to which
passes directly through the field. The great buildings tower on both
sides of the road in full sight of all passers-by, and from the fact
that the road is much travelled, the ruins of Chichen are perhaps more
generally known to the people of the country than any other in Yucatan.
It is an interesting fact, however, that the first stranger who ever
visited them was a native of New-York, whom we afterward met at
Valladolid, and who is now again residing in this city.

Immediately on our arrival at Chichen we heard of a paysanno, or
countryman, Don Juan Burque, enginero en la machina de Valladolid, the
English of which is, Mr. John Burke, engineer in the factory. In 1838
Mr. Burke came from Valladolid to the village of Cawa, six leagues
distant from Chichen. While making excursions in the neighbourhood, one
of the young men told him of old buildings on this hacienda, from one
of which Valladolid was visible. Mr. Burke rode over, and on the fourth
of July stood on the top of the Castillo, spy-glass in hand, looking
out for Valladolid. Two years afterward, in 1840, they were visited by
the Baron Frederichstahl, and by him first brought to the notice of the
public, both in Europe and this country; and I take occasion to say
that this visit was made in the prosecution of a route recommended to
him by me after my return from my former interrupted journey of
exploration among the ruins of Yucatan.

But to return. From the door of our hut some of the principal buildings
were in sight. We went first to those on the opposite side of the
camino real. The path led through the cattle-yard of the hacienda, from
which we passed out at one end by a range of bars into the field of
ruins, partially wooded, but the greater part open and intersected by
cattle-paths. Garrapatas were as abundant as ever, and perhaps more so
from the numerous cattle running over the plain, but the luxuries of an
open country, and the facility of moving from place to place, were so
great, that these could not mar our satisfaction, which was raised to
the highest pitch by the ruins themselves. These were, indeed,
magnificent. The buildings were large, and some were in good
preservation; in general, the façades were not so elaborately
ornamented as some we had seen, seemed of an old date, and the
sculpture was ruder, but the interior apartments contained decorations
and devices that were new to us, and powerfully interesting. All the
principal buildings were within a comparatively small compass; in fact,
they were in such proximity, and the facilities for moving among them
were so great, that by one o'clock we had visited every building,
examined every apartment, and arranged the whole plan and order of
work. This over, we went to join Doctor Cabot, who was in the mean time
pursuing an independent occupation, but on joint account, and for joint

The name of Chichen is another instance added to those already given,
showing the importance attached in that dry country to the possession
of water. It is compounded of the two Maya words _chi_, mouth, and
_chen_, well, and signifies the mouth of the well. Among the ruins are
two great senotes, which, beyond doubt, furnished water to the
inhabitants of the ancient city. Since the establishment of a hacienda
and the construction of a well, these had fallen into disuse. Doctor
Cabot had undertaken to open a path in one of them down to the water,
for the purpose of bathing, which, in that hot climate, was as
refreshing as food. We came upon him just as he had finished, and,
besides his Indian workmen, he had the company of a large party of
Mestizo boys from the village of Pisté, who were already taking
advantage of his labours, and were then swimming, diving, and perched
all about in the hollows of the rocks.

On our journey from Peto, the particulars of which I was obliged to
omit, we had entered a region where the sources of the supply of water
again formed a new and distinctive feature in the face of the country,
wilder, and, at first sight, perhaps creating at stronger feeling of
admiration and wonder than even the extraordinary cuevas, aguadas, and
senotes we had formerly encountered. These, too, are called senotes,
but they differ materially from those before presented, being immense
circular holes, from sixty to two hundred feel in diameter, with
broken, rocky, perpendicular sides from fifty to one hundred feet deep,
and having at the bottom a great body of water, of an unknown depth,
always about the same level, supposed to be supplied by subterranean
rivers. We had seen ranchos of Indians established near these senotes,
with a railing on one side, over which Indian women were drawing up
water in little bark buckets; probably the two great senotes at this
place were the inducements to the foundation of the ancient city.

The engraving that follows represents this senote among the ruins of
Chichen. Though wild enough in its appearance, it had less of that
extraordinary regularity than the others we had seen. Those were all
circular, and it was impossible to get access to the water except by
means of a rope. This wae oblong, about three hundred and fifty feet in
length and one hundred and fifty wide. The sides were between sixty and
seventy feet high, and perpendicular, except in one place, which was
broken so as to form a steep, winding descent to the water. The view is
taken from the edge of the water. The path is evidently, to a certain
extent, artificial, as we saw in one place the vestiges of a stone wall
along the brink. On this side Doctor Cabot had erected a railing for
protection, which the mischievous boys of Pisté afterward pulled down;
we tempted them with a reward of two reales apiece for the discovery of
the offenders, but none of them ever accepted the offer. These boys,
by-the-way, with the inhabitants of Pisté generally, both men and
women, seemed to consider that the opening of this path was for their
especial benefit, and at first they made it a point to be on the spot
at the same hour with us. Upon one occasion we were so annoyed by the
presence of two ladies of that village, who seemed determined not to go
away, that we were obliged to come to an amicable understanding by
means of a peremptory notice that all persons most give us the benefit
of their absence at that hour; and every day, when the sun was vertical
and scarcely endurable on the surface of the earth, we bathed in this
deep senote.

[Engraving 36: Senote at Chichen]

We returned to the hut well satisfied with our first day at Chichen;
and there was another circumstance which, though painful in itself,
added materially to the spirit with which we commenced our labours at
this place. The danger apprehended from the rainy season was coming to
pass, and under the anticipation of a failure of the next crop, corn
had risen from two reales to a dollar the load. The distress occasioned
in this country by the failure of the corn crop cannot well be
imagined. In 1836 this calamity occurred, and from the same cause that
threatened to produce it now. Along the coast a supply was furnished
from the United States, but it would not bear the expense of
transportation into the interior, and in this region corn rose to four
dollars a load, which put the staff of life completely beyond the reach
of the Indians. Famine ensued, and the poor Indians died of starvation.
At the time of our arrival the criados, or servants, of the hacienda,
always improvident, had consumed their small stock, and, with no hope
from their milpas, with the permission of the master were about moving
away to regions where the pressure would be less severe. Our arrival,
as the major domo told us, arrested this movement; instead of our being
obliged to hunt them up, the poor Indians crowded round the door of our
hut, begging employment, and scrambling for the reales which Albino
distributed among them; but all the relief we could afford them was of
short duration, and it may not be amiss to mention that at the moment
of writing the calamity apprehended has come to pass; the ports of
Yucatan are thrown open and begging for bread, and that country in
which, but a few short months since, we were moving so quietly and
experiencing continual acts of kindness, is now groaning under famine
superadded to the horrors of war.

                               CHAPTER XVII.

Plan of the Ruins.--An Edifice called
Akatzeeb.--Doorways.--Apartments.--Circular Mass of
Masonry.--Mysterious Chamber.--Sculptured Stone Tablet.---Majestic
Pile of Building called the Monjas.--Hieroglyphics.--Rich
Ornaments.--Doorways, Chambers, &c.--Remains of Painting.--The Eglesia,
or Church.--Ornaments on the Façade.--Cartouches in Plaster.--Circular
Edifice called the Caracol.--Apartment.--Staircase, having on each Side
entwined Serpents.--Gigantic Head.--Doorways.--Paintings.--Building
called Chichanchob.--Ornaments.--Row of Hieroglyphics.--Another
Building.--Vestiges of Mounds and ruined Buildings.--Extraordinary
Edifice, to which the Name Gymnasium or Tennis-court is
given.--Ornamented Columns.--Sculptured Figures in Bas-relief.--Massive
Stone Rings, with entwined Serpents.--Indian Sports.--Two Ranges of
Buildings.--Procession of Tigers.--Sculptured Columns.--Figures
in Bas-relief.--Richly-carved lintel.--Paintings. The
Castillo.--Staircase.--Colossal Serpents' Heads.--Doorways.--Carved
Lintels.--Jambs ornamented with Sculptured
Figures.--Corridors.--Apartments.--Square Pillars, covered with
Sculptured Figures.--Rows of Columns.--Occupation and Abandonment of
Chichen by the Spaniards.--First Discovery of Chichen.--Senotes.

[Engraving: General Plan of the Buildings at Chichen Itza]

The plate opposite represents the general plan of the ruins of Chichen.
This plan is made from bearings taken with the compass, and the
distances were all measured with a line. The buildings are laid down on
the plan according to their exterior form. All now standing are
comprehended, and the whole circumference occupied by them is about two
miles, which is equal to the diameter of two thirds of a mile, though
ruined buildings appear beyond these limits.

[Engraving 37: The Akatzeeb]

By referring to the plan the reader will see the position of the hut in
which we lived, and, following the path from our door through the
cattle-yard of the hacienda, at the distance of two hundred and fifty
yards he will reach the building represented in the plate opposite. It
does not stand on an artificial terrace, but the earth seems to have
been excavated for some distance before it, so as to give it elevation
of position. It faces the east, and measures one hundred and forty-nine
feet in front by forty-eight feet deep. The whole exterior is rude, and
without ornament of any kind. A grand staircase, forty-five feet wide,
now entirely in ruins, rises in the centre to the roof of the building.
On each side of the staircase are two doorways; at each end is a single
doorway, and the front facing the west has seven. The whole number of
apartments is eighteen. The west front opens upon a large hollow
surface, whether natural or artificial it is not easy to say, and in
the centre of this is one of those features before referred to, a solid
mass of masonry, forty-four feet by thirty-four, standing out from the
wall, high as the roof and corresponding, in position and dimensions,
with the ruined staircase on the eastern front. This projection is not
necessary for the support of the building; it is not an ornament, but,
on the contrary, a deformity; and whether it be really a solid mass, or
contain interior chambers, remains to be ascertained by the future

[Engraving 38: Sculptured Stone Tablet]

At the south end the doorway opens into a chamber, round which hangs a
greater and more unpenetrable mystery. This chamber is nineteen feet
wide by eight feet six inches deep, and in the back wall a low, narrow
doorway communicates with another chamber in the rear, of the same
dimensions, but having its floor one step higher. The lintel of this
doorway is of stone, and on the soffite, or under part, is sculptured
the subject represented in the engraving opposite. This tablet, and the
position in which it exists, have given the name to the building, which
the Indians call Akatzeeb, signifying the writing in the dark; for, as
no light enters except from the single doorway, the chamber was so dark
that the drawing could with difficulty be copied. It was the first time
in Yucatan that we had found hieroglyphics sculptured on stone, which,
beyond all question, bore the same type with those at Copan and
Palenque. The sitting figure seems performing some act of incantation,
or some religious or idolatrous rite, which the "writing in the dark"
undoubtedly explains, if one could but read it. Physical force may raze
these buildings to the ground, and lay bare all the secrets they
contain, but physical force can never unravel the mystery that involves
this sculptured tablet.

[Engraving 39: End Façade of the Monjas]

Leaving this building, and following the path indicated in the map, at
the distance of one hundred and fifty yards westward we reach a modern
stone fence, dividing the cattle-field of the hacienda, on the other
side of which appears through the trees, between two other buildings
the end façade of a long, majestic pile, called, like one of the
principal edifices at Uxmal, the Monjas, or Nuns; it is remarkable for
its good state of preservation, and the richness and beauty of its
ornaments, as represented in the plate opposite. The view comprehends
the corner of a building on the right, at a short distance, called the
Eglesia, or Church. The height of this façade is twenty-five feet, and
its width thirty-five. It has two cornices of tasteful and elaborate
design. Over the doorway are twenty small cartouches of hieroglyphics
in four rows, five in a row, barely indicated in the engraving, and to
make room for which the lower cornice is carried up. Over these stand
out in a line six bold projecting curved ornaments, like that presented
from the House of the Governor at Uxmal, resembling an elephant's
trunk, and the upper centre space over the doorway is an irregular
circular niche, in which portions of a seated figure, with a head-dress
of feathers, still remain. The rest of the ornaments are of that
distinctive stamp, characteristic of the ancient American cities, and
unlike the designs of any other people, with which the reader must now
be familiar. The tropical plants and shrubs growing on the roof, which,
when we first saw it, hung over the cornice like a fringe-work, added
greatly to the picturesque effect of this elegant façade.

[Engraving 40: Front of the Monjas]

The plate opposite represents the front of the same building. It is
composed of two structures entirely different from each other, one of
which forms a sort of wing to the principal edifice, and has at the end
the façade before presented. The whole length is two hundred and
twenty-eight feet, and the depth of the principal structure is one
hundred and twelve feet. The only portion containing interior chambers,
is that which I have called the wing. This has two doorways opening
into chambers twenty-six feet long and eight feet deep, behind each of
which is another of corresponding dimensions, now filled up several
feet with mortar and stones, and appearing to have been originally
filled up solid to the ceiling, making again casas cerradas, or closed
houses. The whole number of chambers in this wing is nine, and these
are all the apartments on the ground floor. The great structure to
which the wing adjoins is apparently a solid mass of masonry, erected
only to hold up the two ranges of buildings upon it. A grand staircase
fifty-six feet wide, the largest we saw in the country, rises to the
top. On one side of the staircase a huge breach, twenty or thirty feet
deep, has been made by the proprietor, for the purpose of getting out
building stone, which discloses only solid masonry. The grand staircase
is thirty-two feet high, and has thirty-nine steps. On the top of the
structure stands a range of buildings, with a platform of fourteen feet
in front extending all round.

From the back of this platform the grand staircase rises again, having
the same width, fifteen steps to the roof of the second range, which
forms a platform in front of the third range; this last is
unfortunately, in a ruinous condition, and it is to be observed that in
this, as in all the other cases, these ancient architects never placed
an upper building on the roof of a lower one, but always back, so as to
rest on a structure solid from the ground, the roof of the lower range
being merely a platform in front of the upper one.

The circumference of this building is six hundred and thirty-eight
feet, and its height, when entire, was sixty-five feet. It seems to
have been constructed only with reference to the second range of
apartments, upon which the art and skill of the builders have been
lavishly expended. It is one hundred and four feet long and thirty feet
wide, and the broad platform around it, though overgrown with grass
several feet high, formed a noble promenade, commanding a magnificent
view of the whole surrounding country.

On the side of the staircase are five doorways, of which the three
centre ones are what are usually called false doors, appearing to be
merely recesses in the wall. The compartments between the doorways
contained combinations of ornaments of unusual taste and elegance, both
in arrangement and design. The two extreme doorways open into chambers,
in each of which are three long recesses in the back wall, extending
from the floor to the ceiling, all of which, from the remains still
visible, were once ornamented with paintings. At each end of the
building was another chamber, with three niches or recesses, and on the
other side, facing the south, the three centre doorways, corresponding
with the false doors on the north side, opened into an apartment
forty-seven feet long and nine deep, having nine long niches in the
back wall; all the walls from the floor to the peak of the arch had
been covered with painted designs, now wantonly defaced, but the
remains of which present colours in some places still bright and vivid;
and among these remains detached portions of human figures continually
recur, well drawn, the heads adorned with plumes of feathers, and the
hands bearing shields and spears. All attempt at description would
fail, and much more would an attempt to describe the strange interest
of walking along the overgrown platform of this gigantic and desolate

[Engraving 41: The Eglesia, or Church]

Descending again to the ground, at the end of the wing stands what is
called the Eglesia, or Church, a corner of which was comprehended in a
previous view, and the front of which is represented in the plate
opposite. It is twenty-six feet long, fourteen deep, and thirty-one
high, its comparatively great height adding very much to the effect of
its appearance. It has three cornices, and the spaces between are richly
ornamented. The sculpture is rude but grand. The principal ornament is
over the doorway, and on each side are two human figures in a sitting
posture, but, unfortunately, much mutilated. The portion of the façade
above the second cornice is merely an ornamented wall, like those
before mentioned at Zayi and Labnà.

The whole of this building is in a good state of preservation. The
interior consists of a single apartment, once covered with plaster, and
along the top of the wall under the arch are seen the traces of a line
of medallions or cartouches in plaster, which once contained
hieroglyphics. The Indians have no superstitious feelings about these
ruins, except in regard to this building; and in this they say that on
Good Friday of every year music is heard sounding; but this illusion,
brought with us from Santa Cruz del Quiché, was here destined to be
broken. In this chamber we opened our Daguerreotype apparatus, and on
Good Friday were at work all day, but heard no music. This chamber,
by-the-way, was the best we had found for our Daguerreotype operations.
Having but one door, it was easily darkened; we were not obliged to
pack up and carry away; the only danger was of cattle getting in and
breaking; and there was no difficulty in getting an Indian to pass the
night in the room and guard against this peril.

South of the end of the Monjas, and twenty-two feet distant, is another
building, measuring thirty eight feet by thirteen, having the exterior
above the cornice decorated in the usual manner, but which I do not
think it worth while to present.

[Engraving 42: The Caracol, a Circular Edifice]

Leaving this pile of buildings, and passing on northward from the
Monjas, at the distance of four hundred feet we reach the edifice
represented in the opposite engraving, conspicuous among the ruins of
Chichen for its picturesque appearance, and unlike any other we had
seen, except one at Mayapan much ruined. It is circular in form, and is
known by the name of the Caracol, or winding staircase, on account of
its interior arrangements. It stands on the upper of two terraces. The
lower one measures in front from north to south two hundred and
twenty-three feet, and in depth from east to west one hundred and fifty
feet, and is still in good preservation. A grand staircase forty-five
feet wide, and containing twenty steps, rises to the platform of this
terrace. On each side of this staircase, forming a sort of balustrade,
were the entwined bodies of two gigantic serpents, three feet wide,
portions of which are still in place; and among the ruins of the
staircase we saw a gigantic head, which had terminated at one side the
foot of the steps.

The platform of the second terrace measures eighty feet in front and
fifty-five in depth, and is reached by another staircase forty-two feet
wide, and having sixteen steps. In the centre of the steps, and against
the wall of the terrace, are the remains of a pedestal six feet high,
on which probably once stood an idol. On the platform, fifteen feet
from the last step, stands the building. It is twenty-two feet in
diameter, and has four small doorways facing the cardinal points. A
great portion of the upper part and one of the sides have fallen. Above
the cornice the roof sloped so as almost to form an apex. The height,
including the terraces, is little short of sixty feet, and, when
entire, even among the great buildings around, this structure must have
presented a striking appearance. The doorways give entrance to a
circular corridor five feet wide. The inner wall has also four
doorways, smaller than the others, and standing at intermediate points
of the compass, facing northeast, northwest, southwest, and southeast.
These doors give entrance to a second circular corridor, four feet
wide; and in the centre is a circular mass, apparently of solid stone,
seven feet six inches in diameter; but in one place, at the height of
eight feet from the ground, was a small square opening choked up with
stones which I endeavoured to clear out; but the stones falling into
the narrow corridor made it dangerous to continue. The roof was so
tottering that I could not discover to what this opening led. It was
about large enough to admit the figure of a man in a standing position,
to look out from the top. The walls of both corridors were plastered
and ornamented with paintings, and both were covered with the
triangular arch. The plan of the building was new, but, instead of
unfolding secrets, it drew closer the curtain that already shrouded,
with almost impenetrable folds, these mysterious structures.

At the distance of four hundred and twenty feet northwest from the
Caracol stands the building represented in the following engraving. It is
called by the Indians Chichanchob, meaning in Spanish, Casa Colorada,
and in English, Red House. The terrace is sixty-two feet long and
fifty-five wide, and is still in good preservation; the staircase is
twenty feet wide, and as we approached it on our first visit, a cow was
coming quietly down the steps.

[Engraving 43: The Casa Colorada]

The building measure forty-three feet front and twenty-three feet deep,
and is still strong and substantial. Above the cornice it was richly
ornamented, but the ornaments are now much decayed. It has three
doorways, which open into a corridor running the whole width of the
building; and along the top of the back wall was a stone tablet, with a
row of hieroglyphics extending all along the wall. Many of them were
defaced, and, from their height, in an awkward position to copy; but we
had a scaffold erected, and obtained copies of the whole. The plate
opposite represents these hieroglyphics, so far as they could be made
out. When not distinct, to avoid misleading they are not given at all.
Under the hieroglyphics, in the plate, is given a plan of the building,
with its terrace and staircase. It has a back corridor, consisting of
three chambers, all of which retain the marks of painting; and, from
the convenience of its arrangements, with the platform of the terrace
for a promenade, and the view of a fine open country in front, but for
the greater convenience of being near the hacienda we should have been
tempted to take up our abode in it.

[Engraving 44: Hieroglyphics]

[Transcriber's Note:

The text within the engraving is as follows:

Above first row of hieroglyphics: _The Hieroglyphics commence at this
end and continue in an uninterrupted line to the end._

Above second row of hieroglyphics: _Recommence here._

At end of hieroglyphics: _94 in. End of Line of Hieroglyphcs._

_Ground plan of the Building containing the row of Hieroglyphics which
are place over the three inner doorways._

Within ground plan: (width:)_Platform 62 (depth:) feet 56 feet._

At right of ground plan: A _First Room in which are the Hieroglypics.
Room 39 ft. 6 in. long by 7 ft. 6 in. broad._

B B B _Small inner rooms with remains of painting._

Lower left of engraving: _CHICHEN-ITZA._

Across bottom of engraving: _Scale in feet._]

At the short distance of two hundred feet is the building represented
in the following engraving. The platform of the terrace was sixty-four
feet square, the building had three rooms, but both terrace and
building are ruined, and the view is presented only because it was so
picturesque that Mr. Catherwood could not resist the temptation to draw

[Engraving 45: Picturesque View]

All these buildings are within three hundred yards of the staircase of
the Monjas; from any intermediate point all are in full sight; the
field is open, and intersected by cattle-paths; the buildings,
staircases, and terraces were overgrown, but Indians being at hand in
sufficient force, they were easily cleared, and the whole was finished
with a despatch that had never before attended our progress.

These are the only buildings on the west side of the camino real which
are still standing; but great vestiges exist of mounds with remains of
buildings upon them, and colossal stones and fragments of sculpture at
their feet, which it would be impossible to present in detail.

[Engraving 46: Gymnasium, or Tennis Court]

Passing among these vestiges, we come out upon the camino real, and,
crossing it, again enter an open field, containing the extraordinary
edifice represented in the plate opposite, which, on first reaching the
field of ruins, we rode in on horseback to examine. It consists of two
immense parallel walls, each two hundred and seventy-four feet long,
thirty feet thick, and one hundred and twenty feet apart. One hundred
feet from the northern extremity, facing the open space between the
walls, stands on an elevation a building thirty-five feet long,
containing a single chamber, with the front fallen, and, rising among
the rubbish, the remains of two columns, elaborately ornamented with
sculpture; the whole interior wall being exposed to view, covered
from the floor to the peak of the arch with sculptured figures in
bas-relief, much worn and faded. The engraving represents the two
walls, with this building in the distance. And at the other end,
setting back, too, one hundred feet, and commanding the space between
the walls, is another building eighty-one feet long, also ruined, but
exhibiting the remains of two columns richly ornamented with sculptured
figures in bas-relief. The position in which these walls and buildings
stand to each other is laid down on the general plan.

In the centre of the great stone walls, exactly opposite each other,
and at the height of twenty feet from the ground, are two massive stone
rings, four feet in diameter, and one foot one inch thick; the diameter
of the hole is one foot seven inches. On the rim and border were two
sculptured entwined serpents, one of which is represented in the
engraving below.

[Engraving 47: Sculptured Entwined Serpents]

These walls, at the first glance, we considered identical in their uses
and purposes with the parallel structures supporting the rings at
Uxmal, of which I have already expressed the opinion that they were
intended for the celebration of some public games. I have in all cases
adopted the names of buildings which I found assigned to them on the
spot, where any existed, and where there were none I have not attempted
to give any. At Chichen all the principal buildings have names; this is
called an Eglesia, or Church, of the antiguos, which was begun, but not
finished, and the great open walls present not a bad idea of one of
their gigantic churches before the roof is put on; but as we have
already one Eglesia, and there is historical authority which, in my
opinion, shows clearly the object and uses of this extraordinary
structure, I shall call it, as occasion requires, the Gymnasium or

In the account of the diversions of Montezuma, given by Herrera, we
have the following:

"The King took much Delight in seeing Sport at Ball, which the
Spaniards have since prohibited, because of the Mischief that often
hapned at it; and was by them call'd _Tlachtli_, being like our Tennis.
The Ball was made of the Gum of a Tree that grows in hot Countries,
which, having Holes made in it, distils great white Drops, that soon
harden, and, being work'd and moulded together, turn as black as
Pitch.[3] The Balls made thereof, tho' hard and heavy to the Hand, did
bound and fly as well as our Foot-balls, there being no need to blow
them; nor did they use Chaces, but vy'd to drive the adverse Party that
is to hit the Wall, the others were to make good, or strike it over.
They struck it with any Part of their Body, as it hapned, or they could
most conveniently; and sometimes he lost that touched it with any other
Part but his Hip, which was look'd upon among them as the greatest
Dexterity; and to this Effect, that the Ball might rebound the better,
they fastned a Piece of stiff Leather on their Hips. They might strike
it every time it rebounded, which it would do several Times one after
another, in so much that it look'd as if it had been alive. They play'd
in Parties, so many on a Side, for a Load of Mantles, or what the
Gamesters could afford, at so many Scores. They also play'd for Gold,
and Feather-work, and sometimes play'd themselves away, as has been
said before. The Place where they play'd was a ground Room, long,
narrow, and high, but wider above than below, and higher on the Sides
than at the Ends, and they kept it very well plaster'd and smooth, both
the Walls and the Floor. _On the side Walls they fix'd certain Stones
like those of a Mill, with a Hole quite through the Middle_, just as
big as the Ball, and he that could strike it through there won the
Game; and in Token of its being an extraordinary Success, which rarely
hapned, he had a Right to the Cloaks of all the Lookers-on, by antient
Custom, and Law amongst Gamesters; and it was very pleasant to see,
that as soon as ever the Ball was in the Hole, the Standers-by took to
their Heels, running away with all their Might to save their Cloaks,
laughing and rejoicing, others scouring after them to secure their
Cloaks for the Winner, who was oblig'd to offer some Sacrifice to the
Idol of the Tennis-court, and the Stone through whose Hole the Ball had
pass'd. Every Tennis-court was a Temple, having two Idols, the one of
Gaming, and the other of the Ball. On a lucky Day, at Midnight, they
performed certain Ceremonies and Enchantments on the two lower Walls
and on the Midst of the Floor, singing certain Songs, or Ballads; after
which a Priest of the great Temple went with some of their Religious
Men to bless it; he uttered some Words, threw the Ball about the
Tennis-court four Times, and then it was consecrated, and might be
play'd in, but not before. The Owner of the Tennis-court, who was
always a Lord, never play'd without making some Offering and performing
certain Ceremonies to the Idol of Gaming, which shows how superstitious
they were, since they had such Regard to their Idols, even in their
Diversions. Montezuma carry'd the Spaniards to this Sport, and was well
pleas'd to see them play at it, as also at Cards and Dice."

With some slight variation in details, the general features are so
identical as to leave no doubt on my mind that this structure was
erected for precisely the same object as the Tennis-court in the city
of Mexico described by Herrera. The temples are at hand in which
sacrifices were offered, and we discover in this something more
important than the mere determining of the character of a building; for
in the similarity of diversions we see a resemblance in manners and
institutions, and trace an affinity between the people who erected the
ruined cities of Yucatan and those who inhabited Mexico at the time of
the conquest. In the account of Herrera, moreover, we see incidentally
the drawing of a funeral pall over the institutions of the natives, for
we learn that the sport which "Montezuma took much delight in seeing,"
and which, beyond doubt, was a favourite diversion of the people, "the
Spaniards have since prohibited."

[Engraving 48: An Edifice]

At the southern extremity of the eastern wall, and on the outer side,
stands the building represented in the engraving opposite, consisting
of two ranges, one even with the ground, and the other about
twenty-five feet above it, the latter being in a good state of
preservation simple, tasteful in its arrangement of ornaments, and
having conspicuous a procession of tigers or lynxes, which appear on a
small scale in the engraving. From its lofty position, with trees
growing around it and on the roof, the effect is beautifully
picturesque  but it has, besides a far higher interest, and on some
considerations may perhaps be regarded as the most important structure
that we met with in our whole exploration of ruins.

The lower building, standing on the ground, is in a ruinous condition:
the front has fallen, and shows only the remains of two columns covered
with sculptured figures; the fall of the front has laid bare the entire
wall of the chamber, covered from one end to the other with
elaborately-sculptured figures in bas-relief.

[Engraving 49: Figures in Bas-relief]

[Transcriber's Note:

Text at end of line of Bas-relief: _This part is covered with
sculpture of the same character._

Text below last line of Bas-relief: _This part is covered with
sculpture of the same character._

Text below Bas-relief: _Portion of a Painted Bas-relief on the Wall of a
Building at CHICHEN-ITZA._

Bottom line: _Scale of English feet._]

The plate opposite represents a portion of these figures. Exposed for
ages to a long succession of winds and rains, the characters were faded
and worn; under the glare of a tropical sun the lines were confused and
indistinct, and the reflection of the heat was so intense that it was
impossible to work before it except for an hour or two in the
afternoon, when the building was in the shade. The head-dress of the
figures is, as usual, a plume of feathers, and in the upper row each
figure carries a bundle of spears or a quiver of arrows. All these
figures were painted, and the reader may imagine what the effect must
have been when all was entire. The Indians call this chamber Stohl, and
say that it represents a dance of the antiguos; and these bas-reliefs,
too, have a distinct and independent value. In the large work of Nebel,
entitled "Voyage Pittoresque et Archéologique dans le Mexique," lately
published at Paris, is a drawing of the stone of sacrifice in the
Museum of Mexico, and now for the first time published. It is nine feet
in diameter and three feet thick, and contains a procession of figures
in bas-relief, which, though differing in detail, are of the same
general character with those sculptured on the wall of this building.
The stone was dug up in the plaza of Mexico, near the spot on which
stood, in the time of Montezuma, the great teocalis of that city. The
resemblance stands upon a different footing from any which may exist in
Mitla, or Xocichalco, or other places, the history of which is unknown,
and forms another connecting link with the very people who occupied the
city of Mexico at the time of the conquest. And the proofs go on
accumulating. In the upper building, the back of which appears in the
engraving, is presented a casket containing, though broken and
disfigured, perhaps the greatest gem of aboriginal art which on the
whole Continent of America now survives.

[Engraving 50: Paintings]

[Transcriber's Note:

Text within Engraving above each group: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4.

Text at Bottom: Outlines from paintings on the walls of a room at
CHICHEN-ITZA. The colors are vivid and well preserved and consist of
Green, Yellow, Red, Blue and a Reddish brown, which last color is
invariably used for the color of flesh, the color of the women is
somewhat lighter than that of the men. On the line marked No. 1 the
figures follow as shewn in the drawing. On line No. 2 the figures are
all on the same line but some figures occur between the first two and
the last two which are omitted from being much defaced. Line No. 3
represents figures taken from various groups. No. 4 the same. Figures
9 in. high.]

The steps or other means of access to this building are gone, and we
reached it by clambering over fallen stones. The door opens upon the
platform of the wall, overlooking the Tennis-court. The front corridor
was supported by massive pillars, portions of which still remain,
covered with elaborate sculptured ornaments. The lintel of the inner
doorway is a beam of sapote richly carved. The jambs are partly buried,
and above the rubbish appear sculptured figures with rich head-dresses,
which anywhere else we should have considered it necessary to bring to
light and copy; but between these jambs we enter an inner chamber, the
walls and ceiling of which are covered, from the floor to the peak of
the arch, with designs in painting, representing, in bright and vivid
colours, human figures, battles, houses, trees, and scenes of domestic
life, and conspicuous on one of the walls is a large canoe; but the
first feeling of gratified surprise was followed by heavy
disappointment, for the whole was mutilated and disfigured. In some
places the plaster was broken off; in every part deep and malignant
scratches appeared in the walls, and while individual figures were
entire, the connexion of the subjects could not be made out. For a long
time we had been tantalized with fragments of painting, giving us the
strong impression that in this more perishable art these aboriginal
builders had made higher attainments than in that of sculpture, and we
now had proofs that our impression did them justice. The plate opposite
represents detached portions of these paintings. The colours are green,
yellow, red, blue, and a reddish brown, the last being invariably the
colour given to human flesh. Wanting the various tints, the engraving,
of course, gives only an imperfect idea of them, though, even in
outline, they exhibit a freedom of touch which could only be the result
of discipline and training under masters. But they have a higher
interest than any that attaches to them as mere specimens of art; for
among them are seen designs and figures which call forcibly to mind the
well-known picture writings of the Mexicans; and if these analogies are
sustained, this building attached to the walls of the Tennis-court
stands an unimpeachable witness that the people who inhabited Mexico at
the time of the conquest belonged to the same great race which
furnished the builders of the ruined cities in Yucatan.

[Engraving 51: The Castillo]

But to continue. At the distance of five hundred feet southeast from
this rises the Castillo, represented in the plate opposite, the first
building which we saw, and from every point of view the grandest and
most conspicuous object that towers above the plain. Every Sunday the
ruins are resorted to as a promenade by the villagers of Pisté, and
nothing can surpass the picturesque appearance of this lofty building
while women, dressed in white, with red shawls, are moving on the
platform, and passing in and out at the doors. The mound measures at
the base on the north and south sides one hundred and ninety-six feet
ten inches, and on the east and west sides two hundred and two feet. It
does not face the cardinal points exactly, though probably so intended;
and in all the buildings, from some cause not easily accounted for,
while one varies ten degrees one way, that immediately adjoining varies
twelve or thirteen degrees in another. It is built up apparently solid
from the plain to the height of seventy-five feet. On the west side is
a staircase thirty-seven feet wide; on the north, being that presented
in the engraving, the staircase is forty-four feet wide, and contains
ninety steps. On the ground at the foot of the staircase, forming a
bold, striking, and well-conceived commencement to this lofty range,
are two colossal serpents' heads, ten feet in length, with mouths wide
open and tongues protruding, as represented in the following engraving.
No doubt they were emblematic of some religious belief and in the minds
of an imaginative people, passing between them to ascend the steps,
must have excited feelings of solemn awe.

[Engraving 52: Staircase, with colossal Serpents' Heads]

[Engraving 53: Sculptured Figure]

[Transcriber's Note:
Text immediately below Figure: _4 feet 8 in._
Bottom line: _Figure in Bas-relief on Stone on one of the Jambs of the

The platform on the top of the mound measures sixty-one feet from north
to south, and sixty-four from east to west; and the building measures
in the same directions forty-three feet and forty-nine. Single doorways
face the east, south, and west, having massive lintels of sapote wood
covered with elaborate carvings, and the jambs are ornamented with
sculptured figures, one of which is represented in the engraving
opposite. The sculpture is much worn, but the head-dress, ornamented
with a plume of feathers, and portions of the rich attire still remain.
The face is well preserved, and has a dignified appearance. It has,
too, earrings, and the nose bored, which, according to the historical
accounts, was so prevalent a custom in Yucatan, that long after the
conquest the Spaniards passed laws for its prohibition.

All the other jambs are decorated with sculpture of the same general
character, and all open into a corridor six feet wide, extending round
three sides of the building.

[Engraving 54: An Apartment]

The doorway facing the north, represented in the engraving, presents a
grander appearance, being twenty feet wide, and having two short
massive columns, eight feet eight inches high, with two large
projections at the base, entirely covered with elaborate sculpture.
This doorway gives access to a corridor forty feet long by six feet
four inches wide and seventeen feet high. In the back wall of this
corridor is a single doorway, having sculptured jambs, over which is a
richly-carved sapote beam, and giving entrance to an apartment
represented in the engraving opposite, nineteen feet eight inches long,
twelve feet nine inches wide, and seventeen feet high. In this
apartment are two square pillars nine feet four inches high and one
foot ten inches on each side, having sculptured figures on all their
sides, and supporting massive sapote beams covered with the most
elaborate carving of curious and intricate designs, but so defaced and
timeworn that, in the obscurity of the room, lighted only from the
door, it was extremely difficult to make them out. The impression
produced on entering this lofty chamber, so entirely different from all
we had met with before, was perhaps stronger than any we had yet
experienced. We passed a whole day within it, from time to time
stepping out upon the platform to look down upon the ruined buildings
of the ancient city, and an immense field stretching on all sides

[Engraving 55: Rows of Columns and Castillo]

And from this lofty height we saw for the first time groups of small
columns, which, on examination, proved to be among the most remarkable
and unintelligible remains we had yet met with. They stood in rows of
three, four, and five abreast, many rows continuing in the same
direction, when they changed and pursued another. They were very low,
many of them only three feet high, while the highest were not more than
six feet, and consisted of several separate pieces, like millstones.
Many of them had fallen, and in some places they lie prostrate in rows,
all in the same direction, as if thrown down intentionally. I had a
large number of Indians at work clearing them, and endeavouring to
trace their direction to the end. In some places they extended to the
bases of large mounds, on which were ruins of buildings and colossal
fragments of sculpture, while in others they branched off and
terminated abruptly. I counted three hundred and eighty, and there were
many more; but so many were broken, and they lay so irregularly, that I
gave up counting them. They were entirely too low to have supported a
roof under which persons could walk. The idea at times suggested itself
that they had upheld a raised walk of cement, but there were no remains
visible. The plate opposite will give some idea of these columns, with
the Castillo and part of the Tennis-court appearing in the background.
They enclose an area nearly four hundred feet square; and,
incomprehensible as they are in their uses and object, add largely to
the interest and wonder connected with these ruins.

I have now closed my brief description of the ruins of Chichen, having
presented, with as little detail as possible, all the principal
buildings of this ancient city. Ruined mounds exist, and detached
portions of sculpture strew the ground, exhibiting curious devices,
which often arrested us in wandering among them, but which I shall not
attempt to give. They were the ruins which we had had longest in
prospect, of which we had formed the largest expectations, and these
expectations were not disappointed, but more than realized. And they
had additional interest in our eyes from the fact that the broad light
of day beams upon their history. The first settlement of the Spaniards
in the interior was made at this very spot.

The reader may remember that in the early part of these pages he
accompanied Don Francisco Montejo to Chichen, or Chichen Itza, as it
was called, from the name of the people who occupied the country. The
site of this place is identified beyond all peradventure as that now
occupied by these ruins; and the reader, perhaps, will expect from Don
Francisco Montejo, or the Spanish soldiers, some detailed account of
these extraordinary buildings, so different from any to which the
Spaniards were accustomed. But, strange as it may appear, no such
account exists. The only existing notice of their journey from the
coast says, that from a place called Aké they set out, directing their
course for Chichen Itza, where they determined to stop and settle, as
it appeared a proper place, on account of the strength of the great
buildings that were there, for defence against attacks by the Indians.
We do not even learn whether these buildings were inhabited or
desolate; but Herrera says that the Indians in this region were so
numerous, that in making the distribution which the adelantado was
allowed by the terms of the royal grant, the least number which fell to
the lot of a Spaniard was two thousand.

Having regard, however, to the circumstances of the occupation and
abandonment of Chichen by the Spaniards, their silence is perhaps not
extraordinary. I have already mentioned that at this place the
adelantado made a fatal mistake, and, lured by the glitter of gold in
another province, divided his forces, and sent one of his best
captains, with fifty men, in search of it. From this time calamities
and dangers pressed upon him; altercations and contests began with the
Indians; provisions were withheld, the Spaniards were obliged to seek
them with the sword, and all that they ate was procured at the price of
blood. At length the Indians determined upon their utter destruction.
Immense multitudes surrounded the camp of the Spaniards, hemming them
in on all sides. The Spaniards, seeing themselves reduced to the
necessity of perishing by hunger, determined to die bravely in the
field, and went out to give battle. The most sanguinary fight they had
ever been engaged in then took place. The Spaniards fought for their
lives, and the Indians to remain masters of their own soil. Masses of
the latter were killed, but great slaughter was made among the
Spaniards, and, to save the lives of those who remained, the adelantado
retreated to the fortifications. One hundred and fifty of the
conquerors were dead; nearly all the rest were wounded, and if the
Indians had attacked them in their retreat they would have perished to
a man.

Unable to hold out any longer, they took advantage of a night when the
Indians were off their guard, and making sallies in the evening so as
to keep them awake, that weariness might afterward overtake them, as
soon as all was still they tied a dog to the clapper of a bell-rope;
putting some food before him, but out of his reach, and with great
silence marched out from the camp. The dog, when he saw them going,
pulled the cord in order to go with them, and afterward to get at the
food. The Indians, supposing that the Spaniards were sounding the
alarm, remained quiet, waiting the result, but a little before
daylight, perceiving that the bell did not cease ringing, they drew
near the fortification, and found it deserted. In the mean time the
Spaniards escaped toward the coast, and in the meager and disconnected
accounts of their dangers and escape, it is, perhaps, not surprising
that we have none whatever of the buildings, arts, and sciences of the
fierce inhabitants of Chichen.

I shall close with one general remark. These cities were, of course,
not all built at one time, but are the remains of different epochs.
Chichen, though in a better state of preservation than most of the
others, has a greater appearance of antiquity; some of the buildings
are no doubt older than others, and long intervals may have elapsed
between the times of their construction.

The Maya manuscript places the first discovery of Chichen within the
epochs corresponding with the time between A.D. 360 and A.D. 432. From
the words used, it may be understood that the discovery was then made
of an actual existing city, but it is a fair construction of these
words to suppose that nothing more is meant than a discovery of what
the words Chi-chen import, viz., the mouths of wells, having reference
to the two great senotes, the discovery of wells being, among all
primitive people, and particularly in the dry region of Yucatan, an
event worthy to be noted in their history.

One of these senotes I have already mentioned; the other I did not
visit till the afternoon preceding our departure from Chichen. Setting
out from the Castillo, at some distance we ascended a wooded elevation,
which seemed an artificial causeway leading to the senote. The senote
was the largest and wildest we had seen; in the midst of a thick
forest, an immense circular hole, with cragged, perpendicular sides,
trees growing out of them and overhanging the brink, and still as if
the genius of silence reigned within. A hawk was sailing around it,
looking down into the water, but without once flapping its wings. The
water was of a greenish hue. A mysterious influence seemed to pervade
it, in unison with the historical account that the well of Chichen was
a place of pilgrimage, and that human victims were thrown into it in
sacrifice. In one place, on the very brink, were the remains of a stone
structure, probably connected with ancient superstitious rites; perhaps
the place from which the victims were thrown into the dark well

                               CHAPTER XVIII.

Departure from Chichen.--Village of Cawa.--Cuncunul.--Arrival at
Valladolid.--An Accident.--Appearance of the City.--Don Pedro
Baranda's Cotton Factory.--A Countryman.--Mexican Revolution.--The
Indians as Soldiers.--Adventures of a Demonio.--Character of the
People.--Gamecocks.--Difficulty of obtaining Information in regard to
the Route.--Departure for the Coast.--Party of Indians.--Village of
Chemax.--Fate of Molas the Pirate.--Discouraging Accounts.--Plans
deranged.--The Convent.--The Cura.--Population of the Village.--Its
early History.--Ruins of Coba.--Indian Sepulchre.--Relics.--A Penknife
found in the Sepulchre.

On Tuesday, the twenty-ninth of March, we left Chichen. It was still in
the gray of the morning when we caught our last view of the great
buildings, and as we turned away we felt that the few short months of
our journey had been a time of interest and wonder, such as rarely
occurs in life. At nine o'clock we reached the village of Kaua, six
leagues distant, and at half past eleven the small village of Cuncunul,
within an hour's ride of Valladolid, and there we determined to dine,
and wait for the servants and carriers.

We remained till four o'clock, and then set out for Valladolid. As far
as the suburbs the road was broken and stony. We entered by the great
Church of Sisal, with convent and cloisters by its side, and a square
in front, which, as we rode across it, sounded hollow under our horses'
feet, and underneath was an immense senote. We passed up the Calle de
Sisal, a long street with straggling houses on each side, and were
directed to the house of Don Pedro Baranda, one of the largest and best
in the place. This gentleman had received advices of our intended
visit, and had engaged for us a house. As our luggage did not arrive,
he furnished us with hammocks, and in an hour we were comfortable as in
our house at Merida. About midnight Albino came clattering to the door,
accompanied by only one horse, carrying our hammocks, and bringing the
disastrous intelligence that the horse carrying the Daguerreotype
apparatus had run away, and made a general crash. Hitherto the
apparatus had always been carried by an Indian, but the road from
Chichen was so good that we were not afraid to trust it on horseback.
There was consolation, however, in the thought that we could not lose
what we had already done with its assistance.

The next morning we were in no hurry. From Valladolid it was our
purpose to prosecute our exploration through a region of which less was
known than of any we had yet visited. In our short voyage with Captain
Fensley from the Laguna to Sisal, he had told us of stone buildings on
the coast, near Cape Catoche, which he called old Spanish forts. These
accounts were confirmed by others, and we at length ascertained what we
supposed to be the fact, that in two places on the coast called Tancar
and Tuloom, what were taken for Spanish forts were aboriginal
buildings. Our business at Valladolid was to make arrangements for
reaching them, and at the same time for coasting round Cape Catoche,
and visiting the Island of Cozumel. We had been told that at Valladolid
we should be able to procure all necessary information about the ruins
on the coast; but we could not even learn the way to reach them; and by
the advice of Don Pedro Baranda we determined to remain a few days,
until a person who was expected, and who was familiar with that region,
should arrive.

In the mean time, a few days did not hang heavy on our hands in
Valladolid. The city, which was founded at an early period of the
conquest, contains about fifteen thousand inhabitants, and is
distinguished as the residence of the vicar-general of the church of

It was built in a style commensurate with the lofty pretensions of the
conquerors, and, like other cities of Spanish America, bears the marks
of ancient grandeur, but is now going to decay. The roads leading to it
and the very streets are overgrown with bushes. The parochial church
still stands, the principal object in the plaza, and the churches of
San Servacio, San Juan De Dios, Santa Lucia, Santa Ana, La Virgen de la
Candelaria, and the Church of Sisal, the largest buildings in the city,
are all more or less dilapidated.

The same melancholy tokens are visible in the private houses. In the
principal street stand large buildings, roofless, without windows or
doors, and with grass and bushes growing from crevices in the walls;
while here and there, as if in mockery of human pride, a tottering
front has blazoned upon it the coat of arms of some proud Castilian,
distinguished among the daring soldiers of the conquest, whose race is
now entirely unknown.

Among these time-shattered buildings stood one in striking contrast,
remarkable for its neat, compact, and business-like appearance; and in
that country it seemed a phenomenon. It was a cotton factory belonging
to Don Pedro Baranda, the first established in the Mexican Republic,
and for that reason, as emblematic of the dawn of a great manufacturing
system, called the "Aurora de la Industria Yucateca;" and, what gave it
a greater interest in our eyes, it was under the direction of that
young countryman and fellow-citizen, Don Juan Burque, or Mr. John
Burke, to whom I before referred as the first stranger who visited
the ruins of Chichen. It seemed strange to meet in this unknown,
half-Spanish and half-Indian town a citizen of New-York. It was seven
years the day of our arrival since he came to Valladolid. He had almost
lost the facility of expressing himself in his native tongue, but in
dress, manner, appearance, and feelings he was unchanged, and different
from all around him; and it was gratifying to us to know that
throughout that neighbourhood it was no small recommendation to be the
countryman of "the engineer."

Don Pedro Baranda, the proprietor of the factory, began life in the
Spanish navy; at fifteen he was a midshipman on board the flag-ship of
the Spanish admiral at the memorable battle of Trafalgar, and, though
not unwounded, was one of the few who escaped the terrible slaughter of
that day. At the commencement of the war of Mexican independence he was
still in the Spanish navy, but, a Mexican by birth, joined the cause of
his countrymen, and became admiral of the fleet, which he commanded at
the taking of the Castle of San Juan de Ulloa, the closing act of the
successful revolution. After this, he resigned and went to Campeachy,
his native place, but, being in delicate health, removed to Valladolid,
which, in the absence of all other recommendations, was celebrated for
the salubrity of its climate. He had held the highest offices of honour
and trust in the state, and, although his party was now down and his
political influence lost, he had fallen with the respect of all, and,
what was a rare thing among the political animosities of that country,
the actual government, his successful opponents, gave us letters of
introduction to him.

Retired from office, and unable to endure idleness, the spontaneous
growth of cotton around Valladolid induced him to undertake the
establishment of a cotton factory. He had great difficulties to contend
with, and these began with the erection of the building. He had no
architect to consult, and planned and constructed it himself. Twice the
arches gave way, and the whole building came down. The machinery was
imported from the United States, accompanied by four engineers, two of
whom died in the country. In 1835, when Mr. Burke arrived, the factory
had yielded but seventy pieces of cotton, and eighteen yards had cost
eight thousand dollars. At this time the office of acting governor of
the state devolved upon him, but by a political revolution he was
deposed; and while his workmen were celebrating the grito de Dolores,
which announced the outbreak of the Mexican revolution, they were
arrested and thrown in prison, and the factory was stopped for six
months. It was afterward stopped twice by a failure of the cotton crop,
and once by famine; and all the time he had to struggle against the
introduction of smuggled goods from Belize; but, in spite of all
impediments, it had gone on, and was then in successful operation.

In walking about the yard, Don Pedro led us to the wood-pile, and
showed us that the logs were all split into four pieces. This wood is
brought by the Indians in back-loads at a medio per load, and Don Pedro
told us that at first he had requested the Indians not to split the
logs, as he would rather have them entire, but they had been used to
doing so, and could not alter their habits; yet these same Indians, by
discipline and instruction, had become adequate to all the business of
the factory.

The city of Valladolid had some notoriety, as being the place at which
the first blow was struck in the revolution now in progress against the
dominion of Mexico, and also as being the residence of General Iman,
under whom that blow was struck. The immediate consequence was the
expulsion of the Mexican garrison; but there was another, more remote
and of more enduring importance. Therein for the first time, the
Indians were brought out in arms. Utterly ignorant of the political
relations between Mexico and Yucatan, they came in from their ranchos
and milpas under a promise by General Iman that their capitation tax
should be remitted. After the success of the first outbreak the
government endeavoured to avoid the fulfilment of this promise, but was
compelled to compromise by remitting the tax upon women, and the
Indians still look forward to emancipation from the whole. What the
consequences may be of finding themselves, after ages of servitude,
once more in the possession of arms, and in increasing knowledge of
their physical strength, is a question of momentous import to the
people of that country, the solution of which no man can foretell.

And Valladolid had been the theatre of stranger scenes in ancient
times. According to historical accounts, it was once haunted by a
demonio of the worst kind, called a demonio parlero, a loquacious or
talking devil, who held discourse with all that wished at night,
speaking like a parrot, answering all questions put to him, touching a
guitar, playing the castanets, dancing and laughing, but without
suffering himself to be seen.

Afterward he took to throwing stones in garrets, and eggs at the women
and girls, and, says the pious doctor Don Sanchez de Aguilar, "an aunt
of mine, vexed with him, once said to him, 'Go away from this house,
devil,' and gave him a blow in the face which left the nose redder than
cochineal." He became so troublesome that the cura went to one of the
houses which he frequented to exorcise him, but in the mean time El
Demonio went to the cura's house and played him a trick, after which he
went to the house where the cura was waiting, and when the latter went
away, told the trick he had been playing. After this he began
slandering people, and got the whole town at swords' points to such an
extent that it reached the ears of the bishop at Merida, who forbade
speaking to him under pain of heavy spiritual punishments, in
consequence of which the vecinos abstained from any communication with
him; at first the demonic fell to weeping and complaining, then made
more noise than ever, and finally took to burning houses. The vecinos
sought Divine assistance, and the cura, after a severe tussle, drove
him out of the town.

Thirty or forty years afterward, "when I," says the doctor Don Sanchez
de Aguilar, "was cura of the said city, this demonic returned to infest
some of my annexed villages, and in particular one village, Yalcoba,
coming at midnight, or at one in the afternoon, with a great whirlwind,
dust, and noise, as of a hurricane; stones swept over the whole pueblo;
and though the Indians promptly put out the fires of their kitchens, it
did not avail them, for from the flames with which this demonio is
tormented proceeded flashes like nightly comets or wandering stars,
which set fire to two or three houses at once, and spread till there
were not people enough to put out the fire, when I, being sent for to
come and drive it away, conjured this demon, and, with the faith and
zeal that God gave me, commanded him not to enter that village; upon
which the fires and the whirlwinds ceased, to the glory and honour of
the Divine Majesty, which gave such power to the priests." Driven out
here, this demonio returned to infest the village of Valladolid with
new burnings; but by putting crosses in all the hills this evil ceased.

For generations this demonio has not been heard of, but it is known
that he can take any shape he pleases; and I fear me much that he has
at last entered the padres, and, taking advantage of that so-called
amiable weakness which I before hinted at in confidence to the reader,
is leading them along seeming paths of roses, in which they do not yet
feel the thorns.

I have none but kind feelings toward the padres, but, either as a cause
or in consequence of the ascendency of this demonio, the people of
Valladolid seemed the worst we had met with, being, in general, lazy,
gambling, and good for nothing. It is a common expression, "Hay mucho
vago en Valladolid," "There are many idlers in Valladolid;" and we saw
more gamecocks tied by the leg along the walls of the houses than we
had seen in any other place we visited. Part of our business was to
repair our wardrobe and procure a pair of shoes, but neither of these
undertakings could we accomplish. There were no shoes ready made, and
no artist would promise to make a pair in less than a week, which we
learned might be interpreted as meaning at least two.

In the mean tittle we were making inquiries and arrangements for our
journey to the coast. It is almost impossible to conceive what
difficulty we had in learning anything definite concerning the road we
ought to take. Don Pedro Baranda had a manuscript map, made by himself,
which, however, he did not represent as very correct; and the place on
the coast which we wished to visit was not laid down on it at all.
There were but two persons in the town who could give us any
information, and what they gave was most unsatisfactory. Our first plan
was to go to the Bay of Ascension, where we were advised we could hire
a canoa for our coast voyage, but fortunately, by the advice of Don
Pedro Baranda, we were saved from this calamitous step, which would
have subjected us to a long and bootless journey, and the necessity of
returning to Valladolid without accomplishing anything, which might
have disheartened us from attempting to reach the coast in another
direction. Upon the information we received, we determined on going to
the village of Chemax from which, we were advised, there was a direct
road to Tancah, where a boat was on the stocks, and probably then
finished, which we could procure for a voyage down the coast.

Before our departure Doctor Cabot performed an operation for
strabismus, under circumstances peculiarly gratifying to us and, with
the satisfaction arising from its complete success, on Saturday, after
an early dinner, we mounted for our journey to the coast, going first
to the house of Don Pedro Baranda, and to the factory to bid farewell
to Mr. Burke. The road was broad, and had been lately opened for carras
and calesas. On the way we met a large straggling party of Indians,
returning from a hunting expedition in the forests along the seacoast.
Naked, armed with long guns, and with deer and wild boars slung on
their backs, their aspect was the most truculent of any people we had
seen. They were some of the Indians who had risen at the call of
General Iman, and they seemed ready at any moment for battle.

It was some time after dark when we reached the village. The outline of
the church was visible through the darkness, and beside it was the
convent, with a light streaming from the door. The cura was sitting at
a table surrounded by the officials of the village, who started at the
clatter of our horses; and when we appeared in the doorway, if a
firebrand had been thrown among them they could not have been more
astounded. The village was the Ultima Thule of population, the last
between Valladolid and Tancah, and the surprise caused by our
appearance did not subside when we told them that we were on our way to
the latter. They all told us that it was impossible. Tancah was a mere
rancho, seventy miles distant, and the whole intermediate country was a
dense forest. There was no road to it, and no communication except by
an overgrown footpath. It was utterly impossible to get through without
sending Indians before to open a road all the way; and, to crown all,
we would be obliged to sleep in the woods, exposed to moschetoes,
garrapatas, and rain, which last, in our uncertain state, we regarded
with real apprehension.

The rancho was established by one Molas, a smaller and pirate, who,
while under sentence of death in Merida, escaped from prison, and
established himself at this lonely point, out of the reach of justice.
Soldiers had been sent from Merida to arrest him, who, after advancing
as far as Chemax, turned back. In consequence of new political
excitements, change of government, and lapse of time, the persecution,
as it is called, against poor Molas had ceased; and, having an attack
of sickness, he ventured up from the coast, and made his appearance in
the village, to procure such medical aid as it afforded. No one
molested him; and after remaining a while he set out to return on foot
with a single Indian, but worn down by the fatigues of the journey,
while yet eight leagues from the rancho he died upon the road.

These accounts came upon us most unexpectedly, and deranged all our
plans. And there was nothing that more strikingly exhibited the
ignorance prevailing in that country in regard to the roads, than the
fact that, after diligent and careful inquiries at Valladolid, we had
set out upon positive information that we could ride directly through
to Tancah, and had made all our arrangements for doing so, whereas at
six leagues' distance we found ourselves brought to a dead stand.

But turning back formed no part of our deliberations. The only question
was whether we should undertake the journey on foot. The mere walking
none of us regarded; in fact, it would have been a pleasant change, for
there was no satisfaction in stumbling on horseback along those stony
roads; but our servants foresaw a great accumulation of their labours,
and the risk of exposure to rain was a serious consideration; moreover,
I had one little difficulty, which, however, was really a serious one,
and could not be remedied except by a delay of several days, in the
want of shoes, those on my feet being quite incapable of holding out
for such a walk. Our alternative was to go to the port of Yalahao,
which, the reader will see by the map, is almost at right angles from
Tancah, and thence take a canoa. This would subject us to the necessity
of two voyages along the coast, going and returning, and would require,
perhaps, a fortnight to reach Tancah, which we had expected to arrive
at in three days; but there were villages and ranchos on the road, and
the chance of a canoa was so much greater that, under the
circumstances, we were glad of such an alternative.

In the midst of the vexation attending this derangement of our plan, we
were cheered by the comfortable appearance of the convent, and the warm
reception given us by the cura Garcia. The sala was furnished with
pictures and engravings from Scott's novels, made for the Spanish
market, with Spanish lettering; looking-glasses, with gilt frames, from
El Norte, and a large hand organ, horribly out of tune, which, in
compliment to us, the cura set to grinding out "God save the King!"
And, besides all this, the smiling faces of women were peeping at us
through the doors, who at length, unable to repress their curiosity,
crowded each other into the room. The cura sat with us till a late
hour, and when we retired followed us to our room, and stood by us till
we got into our hammocks. His curacy extended to the coast. The ruins
which we proposed visiting were within it, but he had never visited
that part, and now talked seriously of going with us.

The next day Dr. Cabot was taken with a fever, which the cura said he
was almost thankful for, and we were glad of an excuse for passing the
day with him. It was Sunday, and, dressed in his black gown, I never
saw a priest of more respectable appearance. And he was a politician as
well as priest. He had been a member of the convention that formed the
constitution of the state, had taken a prominent part in the
discussions, and distinguished himself by his strong and manly
eloquence. The constitution which he had assisted in forming debarred
priests from holding civil offices, but through the loophole of his
retreat he looked out upon the politics of the world. The relations
between Mexico and Texas were at that time most interesting to him; he
had received a Merida paper, containing a translation in full of
President Houston's inaugural address; and often repeated, "not a
dollar in the treasury, and ten to fifteen millions of debt." He
predicted the downfall of that republic, and said that the conquering
army in Texas would proclaim Santa Ana emperor, march back upon the
capital, and place the diadem upon his head!

Amid the distraction and civil war that devastated his own country, he
had looked to ours as the model of a republic, and gave us many though
not very accurate details; and it seemed strange in this little
interior Indian town to hear an account of late proceedings in our own
capital, and to find one taking so deep an interest in them.

But the cura had more accurate knowledge in regard to matters nearer
home. The village of Chemax contains nearly ten thousand inhabitants,
and was in existence at the time of the conquest. Four years after the
foundation of Merida the Indians in the neighbourhood of Valladolid
formed a conspiracy to destroy the Spaniards, and the first blow was
struck at Chemax, where they caught two brothers, whom they put upon
crosses, and shot at from a distance till they were covered with
arrows. At sunset they took down the bodies, dismembered them, and sent
the heads and limbs to different places, to show that vengeance was

The curacy of Chemax comprehended within its jurisdiction all between
it and the sea. The cura had drawn up a report, by order of the
government, of the condition and character of the region under his
charge, and its objects of curiosity and interest, from which I copied
the following notice in regard to ruins known by the name of Coba.

"In the eastern part of this village, at eight leagues' distance, and
fourteen from the head of the district, near one of the three lagunas,
is a building that the indigenes call Monjas. It consists of various
ranges of two stories, all covered with arches, closed with masonry of
rude stone, and each piece is of six square yards. Its interior
pavement is preserved entire, and on the walls of one, in the second
story, are some painted figures in different attitudes, showing,
without doubt, according to the supposition of the natives, that these
are the remains of that detestable worship so commonly found.

"From this edifice there is a calzada, or paved road, of ten or twelve
yards in width, running to the southeast to a limit that has not been
discovered with certainty, but some aver that it goes in the direction
of Chichen Itza."

The most interesting part of this, in our eyes, was the calzada, or
paved road, but the information from others in the village did not
increase our interest. The cura himself had never visited these ruins;
they were all buried in forest; there was no rancho or other habitation
near; and as our time was necessarily to be much prolonged by the
change we were obliged to make, we concluded that it would not be
advisable to go and see them.

But the cura had much more interesting information. On his own hacienda
of Kantunile, sixteen leagues nearer the coast, were several mounds, in
one of which, while excavating for stone to be used in building, the
Indians had discovered a sepulchre containing three skeletons, which,
according to the cura, were those of a man, a woman, and a child, but
all, unfortunately, so much decayed that in attempting to remove them
they fell to pieces.

[Engraving: Contents of terra cotta vases]

At the head of the skeletons were two large vases of terra cotta, with
covers of the same material. In one of these was a large collection of
Indian ornaments, beads, stones, and two carved shells, which are
represented in the following engraving. The carving on the shells is in
bas-relief, and very perfect; the subject is the same in both, and the
reader will observe that, though differing in detail, it is of the same
type with the figure on the Ticul vase, and those sculptured on the
wall at Chichen. The other vase was filled nearly to the top with
arrow-heads, not of flint, but of obsidian; and as there are no
volcanoes in Yucatan from which obsidian can be procured, the discovery
of these proves intercourse with the volcanic regions of Mexico. But,
besides these, add more interesting and important than all, on the top
of these arrow-heads lay a _penknife with a horn handle_. All these the
cura had in his possession, carefully preserved in a bag, which he
emptied on a table for our examination; and, as may be supposed,
interesting as the other memorials were, the penknife attracted out
particular attention. The horn handle was much decayed, and the iron or
steel was worn and rusted. This penknife was never made in the country.
How came it in an Indian sepulchre? I answer, when the fabrics of
Europe and this country came together, the white man and the red had
met. The figures carved on the shells, those little perishable
memorials, accidentally disinterred, identify the crumbling bones in
that sepulchre with the builders of Chichen, of those mysterious cities
that now lie shrouded in the forest; and those bones were laid in their
grave after a penknife had found its way into the country. Speculation
and ingenuity may assign other causes, but, in my opinion, the
inference is reasonable, if not irresistible, that at the time of the
conquest, and afterward, the Indians were actually living in and
occupying those very cities on whose great ruins we now gaze with
wonder. A penknife--one of the petty presents distributed by the
Spaniards--reached the hands of a cacique, who, far removed from the
capital, died in his native town, and was buried with the rites and
ceremonies transmitted by his fathers. A penknife is at this day an
object of curiosity and admiration among the Indians, and, perhaps, in
the whole of Yucatan there is not one in the hands of a native. At the
time of the conquest it was doubtless considered precious, worthy of
being buried with the heirlooms of its owner, and of accompanying him
to the world of spirits. I was extremely anxious to procure these
memorials. The cura said, with Spanish courtesy, that they were mine;
but he evidently attached great value to them, and, much as I desired
it, I could not, with any propriety, take them.

                              CHAPTER XIX.

Departure.--Journey to Yalahao.--Stony Road.--Arrival at the Port.--The
Sea.--Appearance of the Village.--Bridge.--Springs.--Pirates.--Scarcity
of Ramon.--The Castillo.--Its Garrison.--Don Vicente Albino.--An
Incident.--Arrangements for a Voyage down the Coast.--Embarcation.--The
Canoa El Sol.--Objects of the Voyage.--Point Moscheto.--Point
Frances.--An Indian Fisherman.--Cape Catoche.--The first Landing-place
of the Spaniards.--Island of Contoy.--Sea-birds.--Island of
Mugeres.--Lafitte.--Harpooning a Turtle.--Different Kinds of
Turtle.--Island of Kancune.--Point of Nesuc.--Sharks.--Moschetoes.--Bay
of San Miguel.--Island of Cozumel.--Rancho established by the Pirate
Molas.--Don Vicente Albino.--Mr. George Fisher.--Piratical Aspect of
the Island.--A Well.--Plantation of Cotton.--Stroll along the Shore.

On Monday, the fourth of April we took leave of the warm-hearted cura,
and set out for our new point of destination, the port of Yalahao.

I am obliged to hurry over our journey to the coast. The road was
lonely and rugged, mostly a complete crust of stone, broken and sharp
pointed, which severely tried and almost wore out our horses. It was
desperately hot; we had no view except the narrow path before us, and
we stumbled along, wondering that such a stony surface could support
such a teeming vegetation.

In the afternoon of the third day we were approaching the port. When
within about a league of it, we came out upon a low, swampy plain, with
a grove of cocoanut trees at a long distance before us, the only
objects rising above the level surface, indicating, and, at the same
time, hiding, the port of Yalahao. The road lay over a causeway, then
wet and slippery, with numerous holes, and sometimes completely
overflowed. On each side was a sort of creek, and in the plain were
large pools of water. With a satisfaction perhaps greater than we had
experienced in our whole journey, we reached the port, and, after a
long absence, came down once more upon the shore of the sea.

The village was a long, straggling street of huts, elevated a few feet
above the washing of the waves. In passing along it, for the first time
in the country we came to a bridge crossing a brook, with a fine stream
of running water in sight on the left. Our horses seemed as much
astonished as ourselves, and we had great difficulty in getting them
over the bridge. On the shore was another spring bubbling within reach
of the waves.

We rode on to the house of Don Juan Bautista, to whom we had a letter
from the cura of Chemax, but he had gone to his rancho. His house and
one other were the only two in the place built of stone, and the
materials had been obtained from the ruins of Zuza, standing on his
rancho, two leagues distant on the coast.

We returned through the village to a house belonging to our friend the
cura, better than any except the two stone houses, and in situation
finer than these. It stood on the very edge of the bank, so near the
sea that the waves had undermined part of the long piazza in front; but
the interior was in good condition, and a woman tenant in possession.
We were about negotiating with her for the occupation of a part; but
wherever we went we seemed to be the terror of the sex, and before we
had fairly made a beginning, she abandoned the house and left us in
quiet possession. In an hour we were completely domesticated, and
toward evening we sat in the doorway and looked out upon the sea. The
waves were rolling almost to our door, and Doctor Cabot found a new
field opened to him in flocks of large sea-fowl strutting along the
shore and screaming over our heads.

[Engraving 56: Port of Yalahao]

The plate opposite represents this place as taken from the shore. Our
house appears in the left corner, and at a distance down the coast is
seen an ancient mound. Cut off, to a great extent, from communication
with the interior, or, at least, connected with it only by a long and
toilsome road, its low huts buried among the cocoanut trees, but few
people moving about it, canoas in the offing, and a cannon half buried
on the shore, it seemed, what it was notorious for having been, the
haunt of pirates in days gone by.

In our journey to the coast we had entered a region of novel and
exciting interest. On the road we had heard of quondam pirates, having
small sugar ranchos, and enjoying reputations but little the worse for
wear, in fact, much respected, and looked upon with a sort of
compassion, as men who had been unfortunate and broken up in business.
We had now reached the focus of their operations.

It is not many years since the coast of Cuba and the adjacent continent
were infested by bands of desperadoes, the common enemies of mankind,
and doomed to be hung and shot without trial, wherever caught. Tales of
piracies and murders which make the blood run cold are fresh in the
remembrance of many. The sailor still repeats or listens to them with
shuddering interest, and in those times of rapine and blood, this port
was notorious as a rendezvous for these robbers of the sea.

It commanded a view of many leagues, and of all vessels passing between
Cuba and the Spanish Main. A long, low flat extended many miles out; if
the vessel was armed, and of superior force, the pirates pulled back
into shoal water, and if pursued by boats, scattered and saved
themselves in the interior. The plunder brought ashore was spent in
gaming and revelry. Doubloons, as one of the inhabitants told us, were
then as plentiful as medios are now. The prodigality of the pirates
brought many people to the place, who, profiting by their ill-gotten
gains, became identified with them, and pirate law prevailed.

Immediately on our arrival we had visiters, some of whom were silent
and uncommunicative upon the historical associations of the place; and
when they went away their good-natured neighbours spoke of them as los
pobres, who had good reason to be silent. All spoke with kindness and
good feeling of the leaders, and particularly of one Don Juan, the
captain, a dashing, generous fellow, whose death was a great public
loss. Individuals were named, then living in the place, and the
principal men, who had been notoriously pirates; one had been several
years in prison and under sentence of death, and a canoa was pointed
out, lying in front of our door, which had been often used in pirate

Our house had been the headquarters of the bucaniers. It was the house
of Molas, to whose unhappy end I have before referred. He had been sent
by the government as commandant to put down these pirates, but, as it
was said, entered into collusion with them, received their plunder, and
conveyed it to the interior. At night they had revelled together in
this house. It was so far from the capital that tidings of his
misdoings were slow of transmission thither, and, when they were
received, he persuaded the government that these reports proceeded from
the malice of his enemies. At length, for his own security, he found it
necessary to proceed against the pirates; he knew all their haunts,
came upon them by stealth, and killed or drove away the whole band. Don
Juan, the captain, was brought in wounded, and placed at night in a
room partitioned off at the end of our sala. Molas feared that, if
carried up to Merida, Don Juan would betray him, and in the morning the
latter was found dead. It was more than whispered that he died by the
hand of Molas. It is proper to add, what we heard afterward, that these
stories were false, and that Molas was the victim of a malicious and
iniquitous persecution. I should add, too, that the character of this
place has improved. Broken up as a pirates' haunt it became the abode
of smugglers, whose business being now comparatively unprofitable, they
combine with it the embarking of sugar and other products of ranchos
along the coast.

We found one great deficiency at this place: there was no ramon for the
horses. At night we turned them loose in the village; but the barren
plain furnished them no grazing, and they returned to the house. Early
in the morning we despatched Dimas to a ramon tree two leagues distant,
that being the nearest point at which any could be procured; and in the
mean time I set about searching for a canoa, and succeeded in engaging
one, but not of the best class, and the patron and sailors could not be
ready in less than two or three days.

This over, we had nothing farther to do in Yalahao. I rambled for a
little while in the Castillo, a low fortress, with twelve embrazures,
built for the suppression of piracy, but the garrison of which, from
all accounts, connected themselves somewhat closely with the pirates.
It was now garrisoned by a little Meztizo tailor, who had run away from
Sisal with his wife to avoid being taken for a soldier. The meekest
possible tenants of a fort, they paid no rent, and seemed perfectly

The next morning, when we opened our door, we saw a sloop lying at
anchor, which we soon understood was the balandra of Don Vicente
Albino. Don Vicente was already on shore, and, before we had time to
make many inquiries, he called upon us. We had heard of him before, but
never expected to see him in person, for our accounts were that he had
established a rancho on the island of Cozumel, and had been murdered by
his Indians. The first part of the story was true, but Don Vicente
himself assured us that the last was not, though he told us that he had
had a narrow escape, and showed us a machete cut in the arm as a token.

Don Vicente was the person of all others whom we wished to see, as he
was the only one who could give us any information about the island of
Cozumel. While he was with us another vessel came in sight, standing in
toward the shore; which, when still two leagues distant, lowered a
boat, and then stood off again. Don Vicente recognised her as a
Yucatecan brig of war. The commandant came ashore; we had already
invited Don Vicente to dine with us, and feeling it incumbent upon us
to entertain visiters of distinction, I invited the commandant to join
us. This was a rather bold attempt, as we had but one spare plate,
knife, and fork, but we had all been in worse straits and were

Amid the excitement in the port caused by the arrival of these
strangers, the inhabitants were not suffered to forget us. A large
sea-bird, prepared by Doctor Cabot with arsenic, and exposed to the sun
to dry, had been carried off and eaten by a hog, and the report got
abroad that a hog sold that day had died from eating the bird. This
created somewhat of a panic, and at night all who had partaken of the
suspicious meat were known throughout the port. A scientific
exposition, that even if the hog had died from eating the bird, it did
not follow that those would die who had eaten of the hog, was by no
means satisfactory.

The next day we completed laying in our stock of provisions, to wit,
chocolate, sweetened bread, beef and pork in strings, two turtles,
three bushels of corn, and implements for making tortillas. We had one
other important arrangement to make, which was the disposition of our
horses; and, according to our previous plan, to avoid the long journey
back through the interior we determined to send Dimas with them to
Valladolid, and thence to the port of Silan, a journey of two hundred
and fifty miles, while we should, on our return, continue down the
coast with the canoa, and meet him there.

At nine o'clock we were taken off, one at a time, in a small dug-out,
and put on board our canoa. We had no leave-takings. The only persons
who took any interest in our movements were Dimas, who wanted to go
with us, the woman whom we had dispossessed of the house, and the agent
of the canoa, who had no desire to see us again.

Our canoa was known in the port of Yalahao by the name of El Sol, or
the Sun. It was thirty-five feet long and six feet wide, at the top,
but curving toward the bottom. It carried two large sails, with the
peaks held up by heavy poles secured at the masts; had a space of eight
or ten feet clear in the stern, and all the rest was filled with
luggage, provisions, and water-casks. We had not been on board till the
moment of embarcation, and prospects seemed rather unpromising for a
month's cruise. There was no wind; the sails were flapping against
the mast; the sun beat down upon us and we had no mat or awning of
any kind, although the agent had promised one. Our captain was a
middle-aged Mestizo, a fisherman, hired for the occasion.

Under these circumstances we set out on our voyage. It was one which we
had determined upon before leaving home, and to which we had always
looked forward with interest; and the precise object we had in view
was, in following the track of the Spaniards along this coast, to
discover vestiges or remains of the great buildings of lime and stone
which, according to the historical accounts, surprised and astonished

At eleven o'clock the breeze set in. At twelve the patron asked if he
should ran ashore for us to dine, and at half past one the breeze was
so strong against as that we were obliged to come to anchor under the
lee of Point Moscheto. This was an island about two leagues distant
from Yalahao, with a projecting point, which we had to double. We could
have walked round it in an hour, but, after the experience of a few
hours' navigation in El Sol, it seemed to stand out like Cape Horn. Our
bark had no keel, and could do nothing against the wind. We went ashore
on a barren, sandy beach, bathed, shot, and picked up shells. Toward
evening the wind fell, and we crawled round the point, when we came to
anchor again, for it was now dark, and El Sol could not travel at
night. The patron made all secure; we had a big stone for anchor, and
rode in water knee deep. In due time we turned in for sleep; and it
might have been consoling to distant friends to know that, exposed as
we were on this desolate coast, we made so tight a fit in the canoa
that if the bottom had fallen out we could hardly have gone through.

The next morning, with the rising of her great namesake, El Sol was
under way. The prevalent wind along the coast was southeast, adverse
for us; but, as the captain said, on our return it would be in our
favour. At one o'clock another bold point intercepted us. It was a
great object to get round it, for the wind would then be fair. El Sol
made a vigorous effort, but by this time the breeze had become strong,
and we were fain to come to anchor under the lee of Point Frances,
which, was on the same island with Point Moscheto. The island itself
has no name, and is a mere sand-bank covered with scrub bushes, having
a passage between it and the mainland, navigable for small canoas. Our
anchorage ground was in front of the rancho of a fisherman, the only
habitation on the island, built like an Indian's wigwam, thatched with
palm leaves close down to the ground, and having both ends open, giving
free passage to a current of air, so that while without a step from the
door, the heat was burning, within there were coolness and comfort. The
fisherman was swinging in his hammock, and a handsome Indian boy was
making tortillas, the two presenting a fine picture of youth and
vigorous old age. The former, as he told us, was sixty-five years old,
tall and erect, with his face burned black, deep seams on his forehead,
but without a single gray hair or other symptom of decay. He had been
three months living on this desolate island, and called it amusing
himself. Our skipper said he was the best fisherman from Yalahao, that
he always went alone, and always made more than the rest but in a week
on shore his money was all gone. He had no milpa, and said that with
his canoa, and the sea, and the whole coast as a building spot for a
rancho, he was independent of all the world. The fishing on this coast
was for turtle; on one side of the hut were jars of turtle oil, and
outside, rather too near when the wind was in certain quarters, were
the skeletons of turtles from which he had extracted it.

Toward evening the breeze again died away, we slowly got round the
point, and at half past eight came to anchor, having made six leagues
on our voyage. Our captain told us that this desolate point was Cape
Catoche, the memorable spot on the Continent of America at which the
Spaniards first landed, and approaching which, says Bernal Dias, we saw
at the distance of two leagues a large town, which, from its size, it
exceeding any town in Cuba, we named Grand Cairo. The Spaniards set out
for it, and passing by some thick woods were attacked by Indians in
ambuscade. Near the place of this ambuscade, he adds, were three
buildings of lime and stone, wherein were idols of clay, with diabolical
countenances, &c.

Navigators and geographers, however, have assigned different localities
to this memorable point, and its true position is, perhaps, uncertain.

At daylight we were again under way, and soon were opposite Boca Nueva,
being the entrance to a passage between the island and the main, better
known to the fishermen as the Boca de Iglesia from the ruins of a
church visible at a great distance. This church was one of the objects
I intended to visit; and one reason for preferring the canoa, when we
had the chance of Don Vicente's sloop, was that we might do so; but our
captain told us that even with our draught of water we could not
approach nearer than a league; that a long muddy flat intervened; and
that we could not reach the shore by wading. He said, too what we had
heard from others, and believed to be the case, that the church was
certainly Spanish, and stood among the ruins of a Spanish town
destroyed by the bucaniers, or, in his own words, by the English
pirates. The wind was ahead, but we could make a good stretch from the
coast, and, anxious to lose no advantage, we made sail for the island
of Contoy. It was dark when we came to anchor, and we were already
distressed for water. Our casks were impregnated with the flavour of
agua ardiente, and the water was sickening. Through the darkness we saw
the outline of a desolate rancho. Our men went ashore, and, moving
round it with torches, made a line piratical appearance; but they found
no water.

Before daylight we were roused by the screaming of sea-birds; in the
gray of the morning, the island seemed covered with a moving canopy,
and the air was noisy with their clamour; but, unfortunately for Doctor
Cabot, we had a fine breeze, and he had no opportunity of getting at
their nests. The coast was wild and rugged, indented occasionally by
small picturesque bays. Below the point of the island Doctor Cabot shot
two pelicans, and getting the canoa about to take them on board was
like man[oe]uvring a seventy-four gun-ship.

At eleven o'clock we reached the island of Mugeres, notorious in that
region as the resort of Lafitte the pirate. Monsieur Lafitta, as our
skipper called him, bore a good character in these parts; he was always
good to the fishermen, and paid them well for all he took from them. At
a short distance beyond the point we passed a small bay, in which he
moored his little navy. The month was narrow, and protected by ledges
of broken rocks, on which, as the patron told us, he had batteries
constantly manned. On the farther point of the island we had a distant
view of one of those stone buildings which were our inducement to this
voyage along the coast. While looking at it from the prow of the canoa,
with the patron by my side, he broke from me, seized a harpoon, and
pointing with it to indicate the direction to the helmsman, we came
silently upon a large turtle, apparently asleep, which must have been
somewhat surprised on waking up with three or four inches of cold steel
in his back. The patron and sailors looked upon him as upon a bag of
dollars snatched from the deep. There are three kinds of turtles which
inhabit these seas; the Cahuamo, the eggs of which serve for food, and
which is useful besides only for its oil; the Tortuga, of which the
meat as well as the eggs is eaten, which also produces oil, and of
which the shell is worth two reales the pound; and the Karé, of which
the shell is worth ten dollars a pound. It was one of this kind, being
the rarest, that had crossed our path. I would not make any man
unhappy, but the fishermen say that the turtle which forms the delight
of the gourmand is of the commonest kind, not worth killing for the
sake of the shell, and therefore sent away alive. The karé he has never
tasted. It is killed for the sake of the shell, and eaten by the
luxurious fishermen on the spot. I immediately negotiated with the
patron for the purchase of the shell. The outer scales of the back,
eight in number, are all that is valuable. Their weight he estimated at
four pounds, and the price in Campeachy he said was ten dollars a
pound, but he was an honest fellow, and let me have it at two pounds
and a half, for eight dollars a pound; and I had the satisfaction of
learning afterward that I had not paid more than twice as much as it
was worth.

In the afternoon we steered for the mainland, passing the island of
Kancune, a barren strip of land, with sand hills and stone buildings
visible upon it. The whole of this coast is lined with reefs of rocks,
having narrow passages which enable a canoa to enter and find shelter;
but it is dangerous to attempt the passage at night. We had a good
wind, but as the next harbour was at some distance, the patron came to
anchor at about four o'clock under the lee of the point of Nesuc.
Immediately we went ashore in search of water, but found only a dirty
pool, in which the water was so salt that we could scarcely drink it,
but still it was an agreeable change from that we had on board.

We had time for a bath, and while preparing to take it saw two large
sharks moving along the shore in water four or five feet deep, and so
clear that their ugly eyes were visible. We hesitated, but, from the
heat and confinement of the canoa, we were in real need; and stationing
Albino on the prow to keep a look out, we accomplished our purpose.
Afterward we rambled along the shore to pick up shells; but toward dark
we were all hurrying back, flying before the natives, swarms of
moschetoes, which pursued us with the same bloodthirsty spirit that
animated the Indians along this coast when they pursued the Spaniards.
We heaved upon our cable, hauled up our big stone, and dropped off to
distance from the shore, with horrible apprehensions for the night,
but, fortunately, we escaped.

At daylight the next morning we were again under way, and, with a
strong and favourable wind, steered from the coast for the island of
Cozumel. Very soon, in the comparatively open sea, we felt the
discomfort and even insecurity of our little vessel. The waves broke
over us, wetting our luggage and ourselves, and interfering materially
with Bernaldo's cooking. At about four o'clock in the afternoon we were
upon the coast of Cozumel, and here for the first time we made a
discovery, at the moment sufficiently annoying, viz., that our patron
was not familiar with the coast of this island; it was bound with
reefs; there were only certain places where it was practicable to run
in, and he was afraid to make the attempt.

Our plan was to disembark at the rancho of Don Vicente Albino, and the
patron did not know where it was. It was too late to look for it, and,
sailing along till he saw a passage among the reefs, he laid the old
canoa into it, and then threw out the big stone, but at some distance
from the shore. On the outer reef was the wreck of a brig; her naked
ribs were above the water, and the fate of her mariners no one knew.

The next morning, after some hours spent in groping about, we
discovered the rancho of Don Vicente, distant about three miles. Here
we encountered a strong current of perhaps four miles an hour; and,
taking the wind close hauled, in a little while found that El Sol was
not likely to have a very brilliant career that day. At length we went
close in, furled sails, and betook ourselves to poles, by means of
which, after two hours' hard work, we reached the little Bay of San
Miguel, on which stood the rancho of Don Vicente. The clearing around
it was the only one on the island, all the rest being thick woods. This
bay had a sandy beach extending some distance to a rocky point, but
even here the water was discoloured by sunken reefs. In the case of a
norther it was an unsafe anchorage ground; El Sol would be driven upon
the rocks, and the captain wished to leave us on shore, and go in
search of a better harbour; but to this we objected, and for the
present directed him to run her up close; when, standing upon the bow,
and leaping with our setting poles, we landed upon the desolate island
of Cozumel.

Above the line of the shore was a fine table of land, on which were
several huts, built of poles, and thatched with palm leaves. One was
large and commodious, divided into apartments, and contained rude
benches and tables, as if prepared for our immediate occupation. Back
of the house was an enclosure for a garden, overgrown, but with any
quantity of tomatoes, ripe, wasting, and begging to be put into a
turtle soup then in preparation on board the canoa.

This rancho was established by the pirate Molas, who, escaping from
death in Merida, made his way hither. He succeeded in getting to him
his wife and children and a few Indians, and for several years nothing
was heard of him. In the mean time he laid the keel of a sloop,
finished it with his own hands, carried it to Belize, and sold it; new
subjects of excitement grew up, and, being in a measure forgotten, he
again ventured to the mainland, and left the island to its solitude.

After him Don Vicente Albino undertook to establish upon it a rancho
for the cultivation of cotton, which was broken up by the mutiny of his
Indians and an attempt to murder him. When we met him at Yalahao he had
just returned from his last visit, carrying away his property, and
leaving five dogs tenants of the island. After him came a stranger
occupant than either, being no other than our old friend Mr. George
Fisher, that "citizen of the world" introduced to the reader in the
early part of these pages, who, since our separation in Merida, had
consummated the history of his wandering life by becoming the purchaser
of six leagues, or eighteen miles, of the island, had visited it
himself with surveyors, set up his crosses along the shore, and was
about undertaking a grand enterprise, that was to make the lonely
island of Cozumel known to the commercial world.

[Engraving 57: Island of Cozumel]

Our act of taking possession was unusually exciting. It was an immense
relief to escape from the confinement of the canoa. The situation
commanded a view of the sea, and, barely distinguishable, in the
distance was the coast of Yucatan. On the bank were large forest trees
which had been spared in the clearing, and orange and cocoanut trees
planted by Molas. The place had a sort of piratical aspect. In the hut
were doors and green blinds from the cabin of some unlucky vessel, and
reeving blocks, tar buckets, halliards, drinking gourds, fragments of
rope, fishing nets, and two old hatches were scattered on the ground.
Above all, the first object we discovered, which would have given a
charm to a barren sand bank, was a well of pure and abundant water,
which we fell upon at the moment of landing, and were almost like the
Spanish soldier in the expedition of Cordova, who drank till he swelled
and died. And, besides the relief of a pressing want, this well had a
higher interest, for it assured us that our visit was not bootless. We
saw in it, at the first glance, the work of the same builders with
whose labours on the mainland we were now so familiar, being, like the
subterranean chambers at Uxmal, dome shaped, but larger both at the
mouth and in the interior.

This well was shaded by a large cocoanut tree. We hauled up under it
one of the hatches, and, sitting around it on blocks, had served up the
turtle which had been accomplishing its destiny on board the canoa.
With our guns resting against the trees, long beards, and canoa
costume, we were, perhaps, as piratical-seeming a trio as ever scuttled
a ship at sea. In the afternoon we walked over the clearing, which was
covered with a fine plantation of cotton, worth, as the patron said,
several hundred dollars, with the pods open and blowing away,
indicating that the rancho had been abandoned in haste, without regard
to the preservation of property. Toward evening we strolled for a great
distance along the shore, picking up shells, and at night we had a
luxurious swing in our hammocks.

                              CHAPTER XX.

A crippled Dog.--Island of Cozumel known to the Natives by the Name of
Cuzamil.--Discovered by Juan De Grijalva.--Extracts from the Itinerary
of his Voyage.--Towers seen by the Spaniards.--An ancient Indian
Village.--Temples.--Idols prostrated by the Spaniards.--Present State
of the Island.--Overgrown with Trees.--Terrace and Building.--Another
Building.--These Buildings probably the Towers seen by the
Spaniards.--Identical with those on the Mainland.--Ruins of a Spanish
Church.--Its History unknown.--Vanity of Human Expectations.--Opinion
of the old Spanish Writers.--Their Belief that the Cross was found
among the Indians as a Symbol of Christian Worship.--The "Cozumel
Cross" at Merida.--Platform in Front of the Church.--Square
Pillars.--Once supported Crosses.--The Cozumel Cross one of them.--The
Cross never recognised by the Indians as a Symbol of Worship.--Rare
Birds.--A Sudden Storm.--The Canoa in a Strait.--Fearful Apprehensions.

The next morning, while breakfasting on the old hatch, we saw a dog
peering at us from a distance, as if wishing, but fearful to approach.
The poor, beast was crippled, limped badly, and had his fore shoulder
horribly mangled, the patron said by an encounter with a wild boar. We
endeavoured to entice him to us, but, after looking at us a few
moments, he went away, and never came near us again. No doubt he was
one of the five left by Don Vicente Albino, and, abandoned once, he had
lost all confidence in man. In a few years, if these are not eaten up
by stronger beasts, a race of wild dogs may inhabit this deserted

The island of Cozomel, as it is now called, was known to the natives by
the name of Cuzamil, signifying in their language the Island of
Swallows. Before setting out from home I had fixed upon this island as
one of the points of our journey. My attention was directed to it by
the historical accounts of its condition when it first became known to
the Spaniards. It was discovered accidentally in 1518 by Juan de
Grijalva, who, in attempting to follow in the track of Cordova, was
driven in sight of it. The itinerary of this voyage was kept by the
chaplain-in-chief of the fleet, under the direction of Grijalva, and,
with a collection of original narratives and memoirs, was published for
the first time in 1838 at Paris. The itinerary opens thus:

"Saturday, the first of March of the year 1518, the commandant of the
said fleet sailed from the island of Cuba. On the fourth of March we
saw upon a promontory a white house.... All the coast was lined with
reefs and shoals. We directed ourselves upon the opposite shore, when
we distinguished the house more easily. It was in the form of a small
tower, and appeared to be eight palms in length and the height of a
man. The fleet came to anchor about six miles from the coast. Two
little barks called canoes approached us, each manned by three Indians,
which came to within a cannon shot of the vessel. We could not speak to
them nor learn anything from them, except that in the morning the
cacique, _i.e._, the chief of that place, would come on board our
vessel. The next morning we set sail to reconnoiter a cape which we saw
at a distance, and which the pilot told us was the island of Yucatan.
Between it and the point of _Cucuniel_, where we were, we found a gulf,
into which we entered, and came near the shore of Cuzamil, which we
coasted. Besides the tower which we had seen, we discovered fourteen
others of the same form. Before leaving the first, the two canoes of
Indians returned; the chief of the village was in one of them, and came
on board the vessel of the admiral, and spoke to us by means of an
interpreter (one of the two Indians carried off from Yucatan on the
previous voyage of Cordova), and prayed the commander to come to his
village, saying that it would be a great honour to him....

"We set sail, following the coast at the distance of a stone's throw,
for the sea is very deep upon the borders. The country appeared very
agreeable; we counted, on leaving this point, _fourteen towers_ of the
form indicated. At sunset we saw a large white tower, which appeared
very high. We approached, and saw near it a multitude of Indians, men
and women, who were looking at us, and remained until the fleet stopped
within musket shot of the tower. The Indians, who are very numerous in
this island, made a great noise with their drums.

"On Friday, the sixth of May, the commandant ordered one hundred men to
arm themselves. They embarked in the boats, and landed. They were
accompanied by a priest, and expected to be attacked by a great number
of Indians. Being prepared for defence, they arranged themselves in
good order, and came to the tower, where they found no one; and in all
the environs they did not see a single man. The commandant mounted upon
the tower with the standard bearer, the flag unfurled. He planted this
standard upon one of the façades of the tower, took possession in the
name of the king, in presence of witnesses, and drew up a declaration
of said taking possession.

"The ascent to this tower was by eighteen steps; the base was very
massive, one hundred and eighty feet in circumference. At the top rose
a small tower of _the height of two men placed_ one upon the other.
Within were figures, bones, and idols that they adored. From these
marks we supposed that they were idolaters. While the commandant was at
the top of the tower with many of our people, an Indian, followed by
three others who kept the doors, put in the interior a vase with very
odoriferous perfumes, which seemed of storax. This Indian was old; he
burned many perfumes before the idols which were in the tower, and sang
in a loud voice a song, which was always in the same tone. We supposed
that he was invoking his idols.... These Indians carried our commandant
with ten or twelve Spaniards, and gave them to eat in a hall
constructed of stones very close together, and covered with straw.
Before the hall was a large well, from which everybody drank.... They
then left us alone, and we entered the village, where all the houses
were built of stone. Among others, we saw five very well made, and
commanded by small towers. The _base_ of these edifices is _very large_
and _massive_; the _building is very small at the top_. They appeared
to have been built a long time, but there are also modern ones.

"That village, or bourg, was paved with concave stones. The streets,
elevated at the sides, descended, inclining toward the middle, which
was paved entirely with large stones. The sides were occupied by the
houses of the inhabitants. They are constructed of stone from the
foundation to half the height of the walls, and covered with straw. To
_judge by the edifices and houses, these Indians appear to be very
ingenious_; and if we had not seen a number of recent constructions, we
should have thought that these buildings were the works of the
Spaniards. This island appears to me very handsome.... We penetrated,
to the number of ten men, three or four miles in the interior. We saw
there edifices and habitations separated one from another, and very
well constructed."

On the tenth of February, 1519, the armament of Cortez rendezvoused at
this island. Bernal Dias was again a companion, and was an actor in a
scene which he describes as follows: "There was on the island of
Cozumel a temple containing some hideous idols, to which all the
Indians of the neighbouring districts used to go frequently in solemn
procession. One morning the courts of this temple were filled with
Indians, and curiosity having also drawn many of us thither, we found
them burning odoriferous resins like our incense, and shortly after an
old man in a large loose mantle ascended to the top of the temple, and
harangued or preached to the multitude for a considerable time. Cortez,
who was present, at length called to him Melchorejo, an Indian prisoner
taken on a previous voyage to Yucatan, to question him concerning the
evil doctrines which the old man was delivering. He then summoned all
the caciques and chief persons to come before him, and as well as he
could, by signs and interpretations, explained to them that the idols
which they worshipped were not gods, but evil things, which would draw
their souls down to hell, and that, if they wished to remain in
brotherly connexion with us, they must pull them down, and place in
their stead the crucifix of our Lord, by whose assistance they would
obtain good harvests and the salvation of their souls, with many other
good and holy reasons, which he expressed very well. The priests and
chiefs replied that they worshipped these gods as their ancestors had
done, because they were kind to them, and that, if we attempted to
molest them, the gods would convince us of their power by destroying us
in the sea. Cortez then ordered the idols to be prostrated, which we
immediately did, rolling them down some steps. He next sent for lime,
of which there was abundance in the place, and Indian masons, by whom,
under our direction, a very handsome altar was constructed, whereon we
placed an image of the Holy Virgin; and the carpenters having made a
crucifix, which was erected in a small chapel close to the altar, mass
was said by the reverend father Juan Dias, and listened to by the
priests, chiefs, and the rest of the natives with great attention."

These are the accounts given by eyewitnesses of what they saw on the
first visits of the Spaniards. The later historians are more explicit,
and speak of Cozumel as a place containing many adoratorios and
temples, as a principal sanctuary and place of pilgrimage, standing to
Yucatan in the same relation as Rome to the Catholic world. Gomarra
describes one temple as being "like a square tower, broad at the base,
having steps on the sides, and at the top a chamber covered with straw,
with four doors or windows, with their breastworks or corridors. In the
hollow, which seems like a chapel, they seat or paint their gods. Such
was that which stood near the seacoast."

By these accounts I had been induced to visit the island of Cozumel;
and an incidental notice in the Modern Traveller, speaking of existing
ruins as remains of Spanish buildings, led me to suspect that their
character had been mistaken, and that they were really vestiges of the
original population; but on the ground we asked ourselves where to look
for them. Amid all the devastations that attended the progress of the
Spaniards in America, none is more complete than that which has swept
over the island of Cozomel. When I resolved to visit it I was not aware
that it was uninhabited; and knowing it to be but thirty miles long, I
supposed that, without much difficulty, a thorough exploration could be
made; but even before landing we saw that it would be impossible to
accomplish this, and idle to make the attempt. The whole island was
overgrown with trees, and, except along the shore or within the
clearing around the hut, it was impossible to move in any direction
without cutting a path. We had only our two sailors, and if we should
cut by the compass through the heart of the island, we might pass
within a few feet of a building without perceiving it. Fortunately,
however, on the borders of the clearing there were vestiges of ancient
population, which, from the directions of Don Vicente Albino, we had no
difficulty in finding. One of them, standing about two hundred feet
distant from the sea, and even now visible above the tops of the trees
to vessels sailing by, is represented in the engraving that follows. It
stands on a terrace, and has steps on all four of its sides. The
building measures sixteen feet square; it had four doors facing the
cardinal points, and, as will be seen by the figure of a man sitting on
the steps, it is very low. The exterior is of plain stone, but was
formerly stuccoed and painted, traces of which are still visible. The
doorways open into a narrow corridor only twenty inches wide, which
encompasses a small room eight feet six inches long and five feet wide,
having a doorway opening to the centre.

[Engraving 58: Square Building]

South-southeast from this, near an opposite angle of the clearing, and
five or six hundred feet from the sea, stands another building raised
upon a terrace, consisting of a single apartment, twenty feet front and
six feet ten inches deep, having two doorways and a back wall seven
feet thick. The height is ten feet, the arch is triangular, and on the
walls are the remains of paintings.

These were the only buildings in the clearing, and though, doubtless,
many more lie buried in the woods, we saw no other on the island; but
to us these were pregnant with instruction. The building presented in
the engraving, standing close to the sea, answers, in all its general
features, the description of the "towers" seen by Grijalva and his
companions as they sailed along the coast. The _ascent is by steps_,
the _base is very massive_, the _building is small at the top_, it is
_about the height of two men placed one above the other_, and at this
day we may say, as the Spaniards did, that, _to judge by their
edifices, these Indians appear to be very ingenious_. It is an
interesting fact, moreover, that not only our patron and sailors called
this building a "tower," but in a late article published in the
proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society at London, entitled
"Sketch of the Eastern Coast of Central America, compiled from Notes of
Captain Richard Owen and the Officers of her Majesty's Ship Thunder and
Schooner Lark," this building, with others of the same general
character, is indicated by the name of a "tower." So far as the route
of Grijalva can be traced with certainty, there is strong reason to
believe that the Spaniards landed for the first time in the bay on the
shore of which this building stands, and there is no violence in the
supposition that the building presented is the very tower in which the
Spaniards saw the performance of idolatrous rites; perhaps it is the
same temple from which Bernal Dias and his companions rolled the idols
down the steps. And more than this, establishing the great result for
which we had visited this island, these buildings were identically the
same with those on the mainland; if we had seen hundreds, we could not
have been more firmly convinced that they were all erected and occupied
by the same people; and if not a single corroborating circumstance
existed besides, they afford in themselves abundant and conclusive
proof that the ruined cities on the continent, the building of which
has been ascribed to races lost, perished, and unknown, were inhabited
by the very same Indians who occupied the country at the time of the

At the rear of the last building, buried in the woods, so that we
should never have found it but for our patron, is another memorial,
perhaps equal in interest to any now existing on the island of Cozumel.
It is the ruins of a Spanish church, sixty or seventy feet front and
two hundred deep. The front wall has almost wholly fallen, but the side
walls are standing to the height of about twenty feet. The plastering
remains, and along the base is a line of painted ornaments. The
interior is encumbered with the ruins of the fallen roof, overgrown
with bushes; a tree is growing out of the great altar, and the whole is
a scene of irrecoverable destruction. The history of this church is as
obscure as that of the ruined temples whose worship it supplanted. When
it was built or why it was abandoned, and, indeed, its very existence,
are utterly unknown to the inhabitants of New Spain. There is no record
or tradition in regard to it, and, doubtless, any attempt at this day
to investigate its history would be fruitless. In the obscurity that
now envelops it we read a lesson upon the vanity of human expectations,
showing the ignorance of the conquerors in regard to the value of the
newly-discovered countries in America. Benito Perez, a priest who
accompanied the expedition of Grijalva, solicited from the king the
bishopric of this island. At the same time, a more distinguished
ecclesiastic was asking for that of the island of Cuba. The king
advanced the latter to the higher honour of the bishopric of Cozumel,
and put off Benito Perez with what was considered the comparatively
insignificant see of Culhua. Cozumel is now a desert, and Culhua, or
Mexico, is the richest bishopric in New Spain.

But I have a particular reason for presenting to the reader this ruined
church. It is a notion, or, rather, a principle, pervading all the old
Spanish writers, that at some early day Christianity had been preached
to the Indians, and connected with this is the belief that the cross
was found by the first conquerors in the province of Yucatan as a
symbol of Christian worship. Prophecies are recorded supposed to show a
traditionary knowledge of its former existence, and foretelling that
from the rising of the sun should come a bearded people and white, who
should carry aloft the sign of the cross, which their gods could not
reach, and from which they should fly away. The same vague idea exists
to this day; and, in general, when the padres pay any attention to the
antiquities of the country, they are always quick in discovering some
real or imaginary resemblance to the cross. A strong support of this
belief is advanced in the "Cozumel Cross" at Merida, found on the
island of Cozumel, and in the time of Cogolludo, as at this day,
supposed to have been an object of reverence among the Indians before
their conversion to Christianity.

Until the destruction of that edifice it stood on a pedestal in the
patio of the Franciscan convent, and, as we were told, from the time
when it was placed there, no lightning had ever struck the building, as
had often happened before. It is now in the Church of the Mejorada, and
in looking for it at that place, Mr. Catherwood and myself were invited
into the cell of an octogenarian monk then lying in his hammock, for
many years unable to cross the threshold of his door, but in the full
exercise of his mental powers, who told us, in a tone which seemed to
indicate that he had done what would procure him a remission from many
sins, that he had himself dug it up from among the ruins, and had it
set up where it is now seen. It is fixed in the wall of the first altar
on the left; and is almost the first object that arrests the eye of one
entering the church. It is of stone, has a venerable appearance of
antiquity, and has extended on it in half relief an image of the
Saviour, made of plaster, with the hands and feet nailed. At the first
glance we were satisfied that, whatever might be the truth in regard to
its early history, it was at least, wrought into its present shape
under the direction of the monks. And though, at that time, we did not
expect ever to know anything more about it, the ruins of this church
cleared up in our minds all possible mystery connected with its

In front of the building is a cemented platform, broken and uprooted by
trees, but still preserving its form; and on this stand two square
pillars, which, as we supposed on the spot, had once supported crosses,
and we were immediately impressed with the belief that one of these
missing symbols was that now known as the "Cozumel Cross," and that it
had probably been carried away by some pious monk at or about the time
when the church became a ruin and the island depopulated. For myself, I
have no doubt of the fact; and I regard it as important, for, even
though crosses may have been found in Yucatan, the connecting of the
"Cozumel Cross" with the ruined church on the island completely
invalidates the strongest proof offered at this day that the cross was
ever recognised by the Indians as a symbol of worship.

At noon we had finished all our work, but there was a charm about our
absolute proprietorship of this desolate island which made us regret
that there was not more to give us occupation. Doctor Cabot found in it
a rich field for his ornithological pursuits, but he was rather
unfortunate. Two specimens of rare birds, which he had dissected and
put away to dry, were destroyed by ants. In the clearing was a dead
tree, holding on its topmost branches the nest of a hawk of a rare
species, the eggs of which were unknown to naturalists. The nest seemed
to have been built in apprehension of our visit. The dead branches were
barely able to support it, and would evidently bear no additional
weight. The patron and sailors cut down the tree, and the eggs were
broken, but preserved in fragments.

In the afternoon we picked up shells along the shore, and toward
evening we again took a bath; while we were in the water black clouds
gathered suddenly, thunder rolled, lightning flashed, and sea-birds
flew screaming over our heads. Rain following quickly, we snatched up
our clothing and ran for the hut. Looking back for a moment, we saw our
canoa under way, with scarcely a yard of mainsail, and seeming like a
great bird flying over the water. As she turned the point of the island
and disappeared our fears were roused. From our experience of a little
rough weather we judged it impossible for her to live through a storm
so sudden and violent; and our sense of thankfulness at not being on
board made us feel more sensibly the danger of those who were. The
patron was not familiar with the coast, there was but one place in
which he could find shelter, a narrow passage, difficult to enter even
by daylight, and night was almost upon him; Mr. Catherwood had timed
the precise moment when he turned the point, and we knew that the canoa
would not be able to reach the cove before dark, but would have to ride
through the storm, and, perhaps, be driven to sea. It was fearful to
think of the danger of the poor patron and sailors; and mingled with
these fears was some little uneasiness on our own account. All our
luggage and provisions were on board, as we had intended to sail early
the next morning. The storm had come up so suddenly that though Albino
stood on the bank entreating, the patron would not wait to put a single
thing on shore. We had only our box of table service, with coffee,
sugar, tea, chocolate, and a few biscuit; even if no accident happened,
several days might elapse before the canoa could return, and if she
never returned we should be five Robinson Crusoes, all alone on a
desert island. We had our guns to look to for provisions, but,
unluckily, we had an unusually small quantity of ammunition on shore.
As the storm raged our apprehensions ran high, and we had got so far as
to calculate our chances of reaching the mainland by a raft, finding
some relief in the occupation of moving our hammocks occasionally to
avoid the rain as it beat through the thatched roof, and at length we
fell asleep.

                              CHAPTER XXI.

Search for the Canoa.--An Iron-bound Coast.--A wild Opening.--A
sheltered Cove.--The Canoa found.--The Account of the Patron.--A Man
overboard.--Return.--Sea-shells.--Departure from Cozumel.--Coast
of Yucatan.--Square Buildings.--First Sight of the Castillo of
Tuloom.--Rancho of Tancah.--Molas.--His two Sons.--Visit to the Ruins
of Tuloom.--Buildings seen on the Way.--Magnificent Scenery.--The
Castillo.--Front View.--Grand Staircase.--Columns.--Corridors.--The Red
Hand.--The Wings of the Castillo, consisting of two Ranges.--Devices in
Stucco.--Flat Roofs.--Back View of the Castillo.--A Storm.--Sudden
Change of Feeling.--Ruined Buildings.--Square Terrace.--Picturesque
Sight.--Fragments of Tablets.--Isolated Building.--Curious
Figure.--Paintings.--Discovery of the City Wall.--Its good
constructed on a new Principle.--Onslaught of Moschetoes.

Very early in the morning we were moving. The rain had ceased, but the
wind was still high, and the waves exhibited its power. Albino and
Bernaldo were even more interested in the missing canoa than we, for
tea and coffee were nothing to them, and our supply of biscuit being
exhausted at breakfast, they had literally nothing to eat. At daylight
Bernaldo set off along the shore, and soon after I followed with
Albino. Passing round the point which had cut off our view of the
canoa, we came upon what might well be called an iron-bound coast,
being a table of rock rising but a few feet above the level of the sea,
washed by every storm, until it had become porous and full of holes,
and the edges stuck up like points of rusted iron. The waves were still
dashing over them, forming great whirlpools in the hollow spaces, and
suggesting a frightful picture of the fate of any unhappy voyagers who
might have been thrown upon them; and the rocks were strewed with
staves and planks from some wrecked vessel. After walking two hours I
became satisfied that the canoa must have taken the brunt of the storm,
and my apprehensions were seriously excited when I saw, at a long
distance beyond, Bernaldo, whom I at first thought I had overtaken, but
discovered that he had a small pyramid on his head, consisting of
cooking vessel and provisions. He had met one of the sailors coming to
our relief, from whom he had taken his burden, and was then returning.
We went on, and after three hours' painful walking reached the cove. It
was a wild, abrupt, and narrow opening between the rocks, about fifty
feet wide, with perpendicular sides, and leading into a sheltered
basin, which, while the sea outside was raging, was calm and quiet as a
pond. At the head of this lay the canoa, which came down and took me on

From the simple and unaffected account of the patron, his entry into
the cove must have been sublime. Night had overtaken him, and he
supposed that he had run by, when a flash of lightning disclosed the
narrow passage, and he turned the old canoa short into the very middle
of it. In passing through he struck upon a sunken rock, lost one man
overboard, caught him by the light of another flash, and in a moment
was in still water. The cove was imbosomed among noble trees. The water
was twenty feet deep, and so clear that the bottom was distinctly
visible; and from one end ran a creek, which the patron said was
navigable for canoes into the centre of the island, where it expanded
into a lake. Sails, luggage, Doctor Cabot's birds, and my copy of
Cogolludo, were spread out to dry, and, after dining upon turtles' eggs
laid a few minutes on the coals, I set out on my return, gathering on
the way an unusual harvest of shells. Ever since we came upon the coast
our idle moments had been employed in this pleasant occupation, but
nowhere with the same success as on this island. Regularly, after
stripping the shore, we returned in a few hours, and found others
thrown up, pure and fresh from the sea. I was seldom more fatigued than
when I reached the hut.

On the third day, at twelve o'clock, the canoa again hove in sight,
working her way round the point, and in a short time was at her old
anchorage ground. The wind was still so high that the patron was afraid
to remain; we filled our water casks, in an hour were on board, and
left, solitary as we found it, the once populous island of Cozumel. A
hawk mourning over its mate, which we carried away, was the only living
thing that looked upon our departure; but there was no place in our
whole journey that we left with more regret.

From the point at which we left the island, the opposite coast of
Yucatan was dimly visible, and I would remark, that, from our own
observation and from information given to us by others, it is the only
point from which the opposite coast can be seen at all, whence it is a
conclusion almost unquestionable that it was from this same point
Grijalva steered for Yucatan. The wind was high, the sea rough, and a
strong current was sweeping us down toward the point of Cape Catoche.
About an hour before dark we got across the current, and stood up along
the coast, passing three low, square buildings, apparently in a good
state of preservation, but the sea was so rough that we could not land
to examine them. The account of the expedition of Grijalva says, "After
leaving the island of Cozumel we saw three large villages, separated
two miles from each other. They contained a great number of stone
houses, with high towers, and covered with straw." This _must_ have
been the very part of the coast where these villages were seen. The
whole is now covered with forest, but it is not unreasonable to suppose
that the stone buildings visible on the shore are tokens of the buried
towns in the interior. We ran on till after dark, and came to anchor
under a projecting point, behind a reef of rocks. In the edge of the
water was a square enclosure for turtle and on the shore a deserted
fisherman's hut.

At daylight we were again under way. We passed three more square
buildings; but as the coast was rocky we could not land without
endangering the safety of our precious canoa; and far off, on a high
cliff, stood the Castillo of Tuloom, the extreme point at which we were
aiming. At twelve o'clock we turned a point, and came upon a long,
sandy beach, forming a bay, at the head of which was a small collection
of huts, composing the rancho of Tancar. The entrance was difficult,
being hemmed in by sunken reefs and rocks. Two women were standing in
the doorway of one of the huts, except the old fisherman the only
persons we had seen along this desolate coast.

It was this point which we expected to reach by land direct from
Chemax. The reader will see the circuit it has cost us to make it, but
the first glance satisfied us of our good fortune in not going to it
direct, for we saw the frame of the sloop we had heard of still on the
stocks, which probably is not yet finished. We should not have been
able to get a canoa, and should have been obliged to return by the same
road. The moment the stone was thrown out we were in the water, wading
ashore. The sun was intensely hot, and the sand burning. In front of
the principal hut, beside the sloop, was a thatched arbour to protect
the carpenter who occasionally worked upon it. Near by was a ruined
hut, which we had cleared out, and for the third time took up our abode
in a habitation erected by Molas. On leaving the island of Cozumel it
was only to this desolate point on the coast that he dared venture. It
was a situation that again suited his proscribed life, and having no
fear of pursuit from the interior, his energy and industry did not
desert him. He again cultivated his milpa, and again laid the keel of a
sloop, being the same which we then saw unfinished. But, finding
himself growing old, in a measure forgotten and afflicted by illness,
he ventured to appear in the village of Chemax, on returning from
which, as before mentioned, with a single Indian, while yet eight
leagues from Tancar he died in the road; as our informant expressed it,
he died like a dog, without aid either human or divine. We had heard so
much of Molas, of his long succession of calamities, and of the heavy
retribution that had been poured upon his aged head, and we had seen so
much of his unbroken energy, that, in spite of the violence and crimes
imputed to him, our sympathies were excited; and having heard afterward
from other sources the opinion expressed strongly, that during these
long years of proscription he was the victim of an iniquitous and
unrelenting persecution, I draw a veil over his history. It was but a
year since he died, and his two sons were in possession of the rancho,
both young men, who paid us a visit soon after our arrival. When the
old man died the Indian left the body in the road, and came on to the
rancho, whence these young men went up and buried it on the spot.
Afterward they went again, dug it up, put it in a box, brought it to
the rancho, and embarked with it in a canoa for San Fernando, where
some of their kinsmen lived. On the way they were overtaken by a storm,
threw the body overboard, and, said our informant, that was the last of
poor old Molas. The elder son was said to have been implicated with his
father, and the curse seemed entailed upon him. He had lost entirely
the use of one eye, and the other rolled feebly and lustreless in a
watery orbit. Probably by this time he is perfectly blind.

Our first inquiries were upon the subject of ruins. A short path
through the woods leads to a milpa, in which are numerous remains of
ancient buildings standing on terraces, but all small and dilapidated.
These buildings once stood erect in full view from the sea, but now the
stranger sails along the coast unconscious that among the trees lie
shrouded the ruins of an aboriginal town.

In the afternoon we set out for the ruins of Tuloom, a league distant
on the coast, and with the Castillo on a high cliff in full sight. Our
road lay for a mile and a half along the shore. The beach was sandy,
and in some places so yielding that we sank above the ankles, and found
it a relief to take off our shoes and stockings, and wade in the edge
of the water. At the end of the beach was a high rocky promontory,
standing out into the sea, and cutting off all progress along the
shore. This we ascended, and continued along the cliff, which sloped
toward the sea, in some places forming a perpendicular wall, and on our
right rose great masses of rock, cutting off entirely the view of the
Castillo. In half an hour we came unexpectedly upon a low building,
apparently an adoratorio, or altar, climbing to the top of which, we
again saw the Castillo. Beyond the cliff became more rugged and barren,
reminding us of the witches' gathering-place in the Hartz Mountains, as
described in the Faust of Goethe; and, amid all its barrenness, from
the crevices of the rocks sprang a thick growth of scrubby wild palm
called tshike, covering the whole surface of the cliff. Toiling through
this, we reached another low building, from the top of which we again
saw El Castillo, but with a great chasm between, apparently cutting off
all hope of access. By this time it was late, and, afraid of being
overtaken by darkness on this wild range, we turned back. Night was
upon us when we again reached the shore. The sandy beach was now a
welcome relief, and at a late hour we again reached the hut, having
come to a rapid conclusion that a frequent repetition of this walk
would be neither pleasant nor profitable, and that, in order to get
through our work with the celerity we aimed at, it would be necessary
again to take up our abode among the ruins.

The next, morning we set out for that purpose, escorted by the younger
Molas, a fine lad of about twenty, who considered our arrival the
greatest incident that had ever occurred at Tancar, and before we
reached the end of the beach he wanted to go travelling with us.
Ascending the cliff, and passing beyond the two buildings we had seen
the day before, we descended from the rear of the last to the head of
the chasm which had seemed to cut us off from the principal object of
our visit; ascending again at the other end of the ravine, we entered a
gloomy forest, and, passing a building on the left, with "old walls"
visible in different places indistinctly through the trees, reached the
grand staircase of the Castillo. The steps, the platform of the
building, and the whole area in front were overgrown with trees, large
and principally ramon, which, with their deep green foliage and the
mysterious buildings around, presented an image of a grove sacred to
Druidical worship.

Our boatmen and Molas cut a path up the steps, and, carrying up their
loads, in an hour we were domesticated in the Castillo. We had
undertaken our long journey to this place in utter uncertainty as to
what we should meet with; impediments and difficulties had accumulated
upon us, but already we felt indemnified for all our labour. We were
amid the wildest scenery we had yet found in Yucatan; and, besides the
deep and exciting interest of the ruins themselves, we had around us
what we wanted at all the other places, the magnificence of nature.
Clearing away the platform in front, we looked over an immense forest;
walking around the moulding of the wall, we looked out upon the
boundless ocean, and deep in the clear water at the foot of the cliff
we saw gliding quietly by a great, fish eight or ten feet long.

[Engraving 59: Front View of the Castillo of Tuloom]

The plate opposite represents the front of the Castillo. A few of the
trees which grew around it appear in the engraving, and one is left
growing on the top of the lower range, with its gnarled roots binding
the front wall and obstructing the doorway, but no words and no drawing
could convey a true idea of the solemnity of its living shroud, or of
the impression made upon us when the ring of the axe first broke the
stillness that had so long prevailed around. The building, including
the wings, measures at its base one hundred feet in length. The grand
staircase is thirty feet wide, with twenty-four steps, and a
substantial balustrade on each side, still in good preservation, gives
it an unusually imposing character. In the doorway are two columns,
making three entrances, with square recesses above them, all of which
once contained ornaments, and in the centre one fragments of a statue
still remain. The interior is divided into two corridors, each
twenty-six feet long; the one in front is six feet six inches wide, and
had at each end a stone bench, or divan; and again on the walls we
found the mysterious prints of the red hand.[4]

A single doorway leads to the back corridor, which is nine feet wide,
and has a stone bench extending along the foot of the wall. On each
side of the doorway are stone rings, intended for the support of the
door, and in the back wall are oblong openings, which admit breezes
from the sea. Both apartments have the triangular-arched ceiling, and
both had a convenience and pleasantness of arrangement that suited us
well as tenants.

The wings are much lower than the principal building. Each consists of
two ranges, the lower standing on a low platform, from which are steps
leading to the upper. The latter consists of two chambers, of which the
one in front is twenty-four feet wide and twenty deep, having two
columns in the doorway, and two in the middle of the chamber
corresponding with those in the doorway. The centre columns were
ornamented with devices in stucco, one of which seemed a masked face,
and the other the head of a rabbit. The walls were entire, but the roof
had fallen; the rubbish on the floor was less massive than that formed
in other places by the remains of the triangular-arched roof, and of
different materials, and there were holes along the top of the wall, as
if beams had been laid in them, all which induced us to believe that
the roofs had been flat, and supported by wooden beams resting upon the
two columns in the centre. From this apartment a doorway three feet
wide, close to the wall of the principal building, leads to a chamber
twenty-four feet wide and nine feet deep, also roofless, and having the
same indications that the roof had been flat and supported by wooden

[Engraving 60: Back View of the Castillo]

The plate opposite represents the back or sea wall of the Castillo. It
rises on the brink of a high, broken, precipitous cliff, commanding a
magnificent ocean view, and a picturesque line of coast, being itself
visible from a great distance at sea. The wall is solid, and has no
doorways or entrances of any kind, nor even a platform around it. At
evening, when the work of the day was ended and our men returned to the
hut, we sat down on the moulding of the wall, and regretted that the
doorways of our lofty habitation had not opened upon the sea. Night,
however, wrought a great change in our feelings. An easterly storm came
on, and the rain beat heavily against the sea wall. We were obliged to
stop up the oblong openings, and congratulated ourselves upon the
wisdom of the ancient builders. The darkness, the howling of the winds,
the cracking of branches in the forest, and the dashing of angry waves
against the cliff, gave a romantic interest, almost a sublimity to our
occupation of this desolate building, but we were rather too hackneyed
travellers to enjoy it, and were much annoyed by mochetoes.

Our first day did not suffice to finish the clearing of the area in
front of the Castillo. Within this area were several small ruined
buildings, which seemed intended for altars. Opposite the foot of the
steps was a square terrace, with steps on all four of its sides, but
the platform had no structure of any kind upon it, and was overgrown
with trees, under the shade of which Mr. Catherwood set up his camera
to make his drawing; and, looking down upon him from the door of the
Castillo, nothing could be finer than his position, the picturesque
effect being greatly heightened by his manner of keeping one hand in
his pocket, to save it from the attacks of moschetoes, and by his
expedient of tying his pantaloons around his legs to keep ants and
other insects from running up.

Adjoining the lower room of the south wing were extensive remains, one
of which contained a chamber forty feet wide and nineteen deep, with
four columns that had probably supported a flat roof. In another, lying
on the ground, were the fragments of two tablets, of the same character
with those at Labphak.

[Engraving 61: An isolated Edifice]

On the north side, at the distance of about forty feet from the
Castillo, stands a small isolated building, a side view of which is
represented in the engraving opposite. It stands on a terrace, and has
a staircase eight feet wide with ten or twelve broken steps. The
platform is twenty-four feet front and eighteen deep. The building
contains a single room, having, like the Castillo, a triangular-arched
roof. Over the doorway is the same curious figure we saw at Sayi, with
the head down and the legs and arms spread out; and along the cornice
were other curious and peculiar ornaments. The doorway is very low.
Throughout the country at times we had heard the building of these
cities ascribed to corcubados, or hunchbacks, and the unusual lowness
of all the doorways, with the strangeness and desolation of all around,
almost gave colour to the most fanciful belief.

The interior of this building consisted of a single chamber, twelve
feet by seven, having the triangular-arched ceiling, and at each end a
raised step or divan. The wall and ceiling were stuccoed and covered
with paintings, the subjects of which were almost entirely effaced.

The day ended without our making any advances beyond this immediate
neighbourhood, but the next was made memorable by the unexpected
discovery that this forest-buried city was encompassed by a wall, which
had resisted all the elements of destruction at work upon it, and was
still erect and in good preservation. Since the beginning of our
exploration we had heard of city walls, but all vestiges of them
elsewhere had been uncertain, and our attempts to trace them
unsatisfactory. Young Molas had told us of these, and was on the ground
early to guide us to them. We set out without much expectation of any
decided result, and, following him through the woods, all at once found
ourselves confronted by a massive stone structure running at right
angles to the sea; and, following its direction, we soon came to a
gateway and watch-tower. We passed through the gateway, and followed
the wall outside, keeping as close to it as the trees and bushes would
permit, down to the sea. The character of this structure could not be
mistaken. It was, in the strictest sense, a city wall, the first we had
seen that could be identified as such beyond all question, and gave
colour to the many stories we had heard of walls, inducing us to
believe that many of the vestiges we had seen were parts of continuous
lines of enclosure. We immediately set about a thorough exploration,
and without once breaking off, measured it from one end to the other.

The engraving which follows represents the plan of this wall, as taken
from the sea. It forms a parallelogram abutting on the sea, the high,
precipitous cliff forming a sea wall 1500 feet in length. We began our
survey on the cliff at the southeast angle, where the abutment is much
fallen. We attempted to measure along the base, but the close growth of
trees and underbrush made it difficult to carry the line, and we
mounted to the top. Even then it was no easy matter. Trees growing
beside the wall threw their branches across it, thorns, bushes, and
vines of every description grew out of it, and at every step we were
obliged to cut down the Agave Americana, which pierced us with its
long, sharp points; the sun beat upon us, moschetoes, flies, and other
insects pestered us, but, under all annoyances, the day employed on the
summit of this wall was one of the most interesting we passed among

[Engraving 62: Plan of the City Wall.

[Transcriber's Note: Legend to Engraving 62.

A. A. Walls.                    G. G. Buildings last discovered.
B. B. Gateways.                 H.    Building with wooden roof.
C. C. Watch-towers.             I.    Altar.
D.    Castillo.                 J.    Guard house.
E. E. Small adoratorio.         K.    Senote of brackish water.
F. F. Casas.                    L. L. Thick woods.]

The wall is of rude construction, and composed of rough, flat stones,
laid upon each other without mortar or cement of any kind, and it
varies from eight to thirteen feet in thickness. The south side has two
gateways, each about five feet wide. At the distance of six hundred and
fifty feet the wall turns at right angles, and runs parallel to the
sea. At the angle, elevated so as to give a commanding view, and
reached by ascending a few steps, is the watch-tower represented in the
following engraving. It is twelve feet square, and has two doorways.
The interior is plain, and against the back wall is a small altar, at
which the guard might offer up prayers for the preservation of the
city. But no guard sits in the watch-tower now; trees are growing
around it; within the walk the city is desolate and overgrown, and
without is an unbroken forest. The battlements, on which the proud
Indian strode with his bow and arrow, and plumes of feathers, are
surmounted by immense thorn bushes and overrun by poisonous vines. The
city no longer keeps watch; the fiat of destruction has gone out
against it, and in solitude it rests, the abode of silence and

[Engraving 63: A Watch-tower]

The west line, parallel with the sea, has a single gateway; at the
angle is another watch-tower, like that before presented, and the wall
then runs straight to the sea. The whole circuit is twenty-eight
hundred feet, and the reader may form some idea of its state of
preservation from the fact that, except toward the abutments on the
sea, we measured the whole length along the top of the wall. The plan
is symmetrical, encloses a rectangular area, and, as appears in the
engraving, the Castillo occupies the principal and central position.
This, however, on account of the overgrown state of the area, we were
not aware of until the plan was drawn out.

On the north side of the wall, near the east gateway, is a building
thirty-six feet in front and thirty-four deep, divided into two
principal and two smaller rooms, the ceilings of which had entirely
fallen. At one corner is a senote, with the remains of steps leading
down to it, and containing brackish water. Near this was a hollow rock
which furnished as with our supply.

Toward the southeast corner of the wall, on the brow of the cliff,
stands a building fifteen feet front and ten deep. The interior is
about seven feet high, and the ceiling is flat, and discloses an
entirely new principle of construction. It has four principal beams of
wood, about six inches in diameter, laid on the top of the wall from
end to end of the chamber, with smaller beams, about three inches in
diameter, laid across the larger so closely as to touch; and on these
crossbeams is a thick mass of mortar and large pebbles, which was laid
on moist, and now forms a solid crust, being the same materials which
we had seen in ruins on the floors of other rooms. Against the back
wall was an altar, with a rude triangular stone upon it, which seemed
to bear marks of not very distant use. On each side of the doorway were
large sea-shells fixed in the wall for the support of the doors.

These were all the buildings to which young Molas conducted us, and he
said there were no others within the area of the walls, but there were
many vestiges without; and it was our belief that the walls enclosed
only the principal, perhaps the sacred buildings, and that ruins
existed to a great distance beyond; but, with only young Molas and one
boatman, being all that the patron could spare at a time, we did not
consider it worth while to attempt any exploration; in fact, our
occupation of this walled city was too much disturbed to allow us to
think of remaining long. A legion of fierce usurpers, already in
possession, were determined to drive us out, and after hard work by
day, we had no rest at night;

           "There was never yet philosopher
            That could endure the toothache patiently;"

and I will venture to say that a philosopher would find the moschetoes
of Tuloom worse than the toothache. We held our ground against them for
two nights, but on the third, one after the other, we crawled out of
our hammocks to the platform before the door. The moon was shining
magnificently, lighting up the darkness of the forest, and drawing a
long silvery line upon the sea. For a time we felt ourselves exalted
above the necessity of sleep, but by degrees drowsiness overcame us,
and at last we were all stretched at full length on the ground. The
onslaught was again terrible; we returned to our hammocks but found no
peace, and emerging again, kindled a large fire, and sat down to smoke
till daylight. It was aggravating to look the moon in the face, its
expression was so calm and composed. A savage notice to quit was
continually buzzing in our ears and all that we cared for was to get

                             CHAPTER XXII.

Discovery of a Building.--Two others.--Description of the first
Building.--Ornaments in Stucco.--Columns.--Corridor.--Paintings.--
Central Chamber.--Altar.--Upper Story.--Stone Tablets.--Another
Building.--Mutilated Figure.--Apartments.--Altar.--A third
Building.--This City seen by the early Spanish Voyagers.--Continued to
be occupied after the Conquest.--Adoratorios.--Accounts of ruined
Cities in the Interior.--Return Voyage.--Sea-sickness.--Nesuc.--
Kancune.--Ruined Buildings.--Island of Mugeres.--Sea-birds.--Appearance
of the Island.--A hideous Funeral Pile.--Ibises.--Lafitte.--Piratical
Associations.--Confession of a Pirate.--Visit to the Ruins.--A
lonely Edifice.--Grand Scene.--Corridors.--Inscriptions.--Square
Building.--Account of Bernal Dias.--Departure from the Island.--
Catoche.--Yalahao.--Ancient Mound.--El Cuyo.--An old Acquaintance in

The next morning we finished what remained to be done, and, after an
early dinner, prepared to leave the ruins. While the men were arranging
their loads I gave Doctor Cabot a direction to a point in the wall,
where, in measuring around it, Mr. Catherwood and I had started two
ocellated turkeys. He set out to cut his way in a straight line with
his hunting knife, and very soon, while sitting on the steps of the
Castillo, I heard him calling to me that he had come upon another
building which we had not seen. Having occasion to economize shoe
leather for the walk back over the cliff, I at first hesitated about
going to it, but he insisted. He was so near that we communicated
without any particular effort of voice, but I could see nothing of him
or of the building. Following his path, I found him standing before it;
and while working our way around it we discovered two others near by,
almost invisible, so dense was the foliage of the trees, but the
largest, except the Castillo, and most important of any we had seen.
Our plans were all deranged, for we could not go away without drawings
of these buildings. We returned to the steps of the Castillo, and
summoned all hands to council. The men had their back-loads ready,
Bernaldo reported two tortillas as the stock of provisions on hand, and
the idea of another night in the Castillo struck us with dismay. We had
been so long accustomed to sleep that it had become part of our nature;
a night's rest was indispensable, and we determined to break up and
return the next day.

Before daylight the next morning Albino set off with Molas and the
sailors, and by the time Mr. Catherwood arrived on the ground the
clearing of the first building was made.

[Engraving 64: A Building]

The plate opposite represents the front of this building. It faces the
west, measures twenty-seven feet in length and nineteen in depth, and
consists of two stories. The exterior had been richly decorated, and
above the cornice were fragments of rich ornaments in stucco. The lower
story has four columns, making five doorways opening into a narrow
corridor, which runs round and encloses on three sides a chamber in the
centre. The walls of the corridor on both sides were covered with
paintings, but green and mildewed from the rankness of vegetation in
which the building is smothered. A small doorway in front opens into
the chamber, which measures eleven feet by seven; of this, too, the
walls were covered with paintings, decayed and effaced, and against the
back wall was an altar for burning copal.

The building on the top stands directly over the lower chamber, and
corresponds with it in dimensions, this being the only instance we met
with in which one room was placed directly over another. There was no
staircase or other visible means of communication between the lower and
upper stories.

At the rear of this building were others attached to it, or connected
with it, but uprooted and thrown down by trees, and among the ruins
were two stone tablets with rounded surfaces, six feet six inches high,
two feet four inches wide, and eight inches thick, having upon them
worn and indistinct traces of sculpture.

[Engraving 65: A Building]

At the short distance of fifty-three feet is the building represented
in the engraving opposite. It stands on a terrace six feet high, with a
staircase in the centre, measures forty-five feet by twenty-six, has
two pillars in the doorway, and over the centre is the head of a
mutilated figure. The interior is divided into two principal and
parallel apartments, and at the north extremity of the inner one is a
smaller apartment, containing an enclosed altar five feet long, and
three feet six inches deep, for burning copal. The roof had fallen, and
trees were growing out of the floor.

Near this is another building, larger than the last, constructed on the
same plan, but more ruined. These buildings were all within about two
hundred feet of the steps of the Castillo. We were in the very act of
leaving before we discovered them, and but for the accidental attempt
of Doctor Cabot to cut through in search of birds, or if he had
happened to cut a few yards to the right hand or the left, we should
have gone away ignorant of their existence.

It will be borne in mind that when this city was inhabited and clear of
trees, the buildings were all visible from the sea; the Spaniards are
known to have sailed along this coast, and the reader will ask if they
have given us no accounts of its existence. The narrative of the
expedition of Grijalva, taken up at the point at which we left it,
after crossing from Cozumel, continues: "We ran along day and night,
and the next day toward sunset we saw a bourg, or village, so large
that Seville would not have appeared larger or better. We saw there a
very high tower. There was upon the bank a crowd of Indians, who
carried two standards, which they raised and lowered as signs to us to
come and join them. The same day we arrived at a bay, near which was a
tower, the highest we had seen. We remarked a very considerable
village; the country was watered by many rivers. We discovered a bay
_where a fleet would have been able to enter_." This account is
certainly not so accurate as a coast survey would be at this day, but
it is more minute than most accounts of the early voyages of the
Spaniards, and, in my opinion, it is all sufficient to identify this
now desolate city. After crossing over from Cozumel, twenty-four hours'
sailing would bring them to this part of the coast; and the next
circumstance mentioned, viz., the discovery of a bay where a fleet
would have been able to enter, is still stronger, for at the distance
of about eight leagues below Tuloom is the Bay of Ascension, always
spoken of by the Spanish writers as a harbour in which the whole
Spanish navy might lie at anchor. It is the only bay along the coast
from Cape Catoche into which large vessels can enter, and constrains me
to the belief that the desolate place now known as Tuloom was that
"bourg, or village, so large that Seville would not appear larger or
better," and that the Castillo, from which we were driven by the
moschetoes, was that "highest tower which the Spaniards had seen."

Farther, it is my firm belief that this city continued to be occupied
by its aboriginal inhabitants long after the conquest, for Grijalva
turned back from the Bay of Ascension, again passed without landing,
and after the disastrous expedition of Don Francisco Montejo, the
Spaniards made no attempt upon this part of the coast, so that the
aborigines must have remained for a long time in this place unmolested.
And the strong impression of a comparatively very recent occupation is
derived from the appearance of the buildings themselves, which, though
not less ruined, owing to the ranker growth of trees, had in some
instances an appearance of freshness and good keeping that, amid the
desolation and solitude around, was almost startling.

Outside of the walls are several small buildings, no doubt intended for
adoratorios, or altars, one of which is represented in the following
engraving. It stands on a terrace, having a circular platform, on the
brow of the cliff, overlooking the sea, and measures fifteen feet front
by twelve deep. The doorway faces the north. The interior consists of a
single chamber, and against the back wall is an altar in such a state
of preservation as to be fit for its original uses. Near the foot of
the steps, overgrown by the scrubby wild palm which covers the whole
cliff, is a small altar, with ornaments in stucco, one of which seems
intended to represent a pineapple. These wanted entirely the massive
character of the buildings, and are so slight that they could almost be
pushed over with the foot. They stand in the open air, exposed to
strong easterly winds, and almost to the spray of the sea. It was
impossible to believe that the altar had been abandoned three hundred
years; within that time some guardian eye had watched over it, some
pious hand had repaired it, and long since the arrival of the Spaniards
the Indian had performed before it his idolatrous rites.

[Engraving 66: An Adoratorio]

Under the circumstances attending our visit to it, we found this one of
the most interesting places we had seen in our whole exploration of
ruins; but I am compelled to omit many details deserving of description
and comment, and shall close with one remark. The reader knows the
difficulty we had in reaching this place from the interior. The whole
triangular region from Valladolid to the Bay of Ascension on one side,
and the port of Yalahao on the other, is not traversed by a single
road, and the rancho of Molas is the only settlement along the coast.
It is a region entirely unknown; no white man ever enters it. Ruined
cities no doubt exist, and young Molas told us of a large building many
leagues in the interior, known to an old Indian, covered with paintings
in bright and vivid colours, and the subjects of which were still
perfect. With difficulty we contrived to see this Indian, but he was
extremely uncommunicative; said it was many years since he saw the
building; that he had come upon it in the dry season while hunting, and
should not be able to find it again. It is my belief that within this
region cities like those we have seen in ruins were kept up and
occupied for a long time, perhaps one or two centuries, after the
conquest, and that, down to a comparatively late period, Indians were
living in them, the same as before the discovery of America. In fact, I
conceive it to be not impossible that within this secluded region may
exist at this day, unknown to white men, a living aboriginal city,
occupied by relics of the ancient race, who still worship in the
temples of their fathers.

The reader will, perhaps, think that I have gone far enough. We had now
finished our voyage along the coast, and the end which we had in view
was fully accomplished. We had seen, abandoned and in ruins, the same
buildings which the Spaniards saw entire and inhabited by Indians, and
we had identified them beyond question as the works of the same people
who created the great ruined cities over which, when we began our
journey, hung a veil of seemingly impenetrable mystery. At that time,
we believed the discovery and comparison of these remains to be the
surest, if not the only means, of removing this veil; and though other
proofs had accumulated upon us, these were not on that account the less

Our journey in this direction is now ended, and our course is homeward.
We were detained one day at Tancar by a storm, and on Tuesday morning
the patron came to us in a hurry with a summons on board; the wind had
veered so that he could get out of the harbour; and, bidding good-by to
the carpenter and Molas, we were soon under way. The wind was still
high, and the sea so rough, and kept the little canoa in such
commotion, that in half an hour nearly all our party were sea-sick. The
servants were completely disabled, and there was no chance for a
dinner. We had a strong wind and fair, passed several small square
stone buildings, like those of which representations have been given,
but, on account of the rough sea and rocky shore we could not land, and
late in the afternoon put in at Nesuc, where we had stopped before,
distinguished by its solitary palm tree.

Early in the morning we were again under way, and coasted to the point
of Kancune, where we landed in front of a rancho then occupied by a
party of fishermen. Near by was another great pile of the skeletons of
turtles. The fishermen were busy within the hut mending their nets, and
seemed to be leading a hardy, independent, and social life, entirely
different from anything seen in the interior. A short walk brought us
to the point, on which stood two dilapidated buildings, one entirely
fallen, and the other having dimensions like the smallest of those seen
at Tuloom. It was so intensely hot, and we were so annoyed by millions
of sand-flies, that we did not think it worth while to stay, but
returned to the hut, embarked, and, crossing over, in two hours reached
the island of Mugeres. Near the shore were immense flocks of sea-birds,
sitting on the piles of a turtle enclosure; over our heads was a cloud
of white ibises, and, somewhat to the surprise of the fishermen, our
coming to anchor was signalized by a discharge of heavy bird artillery,
and a splashing into the water to pick up the dead and wounded. In
wading ashore we stuck in a mud-bank, and had time to contemplate the
picturesque beauty of the scene before us. It was a small sandy beach,
with a rocky coast on each side, and trees growing down to the water,
broken only by a small clearing opposite the beach, in which were two
palm leaf huts, and an arbour covered with palm leaves. Under the
arbour hung three small hammocks, and a hardy, sun-dried fisherman sat
repairing a net, with two Indian boys engaged in weaving a new one. The
old fisherman, without desisting from his work, invited us to the
hammocks, and, to satisfy our invariable first want on this coast, sent
a boy for water, which, though not good, was better than that on board.

Along the shore, at no great distance, was a funeral pile of the
carcasses of turtles, half burned, and covered with countless millions
of flies, actually heaving and moving as if alive; and near this
hideous pile, as if to contrast beauty and deformity, was a tree,
covered to its topmost boughs with the white ibis, its green foliage
appearing like an ornamental frame-work to their snowy plumage. We
ordered our dinner to be brought to the arbour, and as we were sitting
down a canoe came ashore; the fishermen dragged across the beach two
large turtles, and leaving the carcasses to swell the funeral pile,
brought down to the arbour strings of eggs, and the parts that served
for food or oil, and hung them quivering in the sun along the fence,
their sudden blackness from swarms of flies disturbing somewhat the
satisfaction with which we had first hailed this arbour. We had again
stopped to visit ruins, but in the afternoon it rained, and we could
not go to them. The arbour was no protection, and we were obliged to go
inside the hut, which was snug and comfortable, the oil jars being
arranged under the eaves, with turtle-shells tied up carefully in
bundles, and on the rafters hung strings of eggs, while nets, old
sails, blocks, and other characteristic furniture of a fisherman's hut
filled up the corners. It was no hardship to be obliged to pass the
afternoon among these fishermen, for their hardy, independent
occupation gave manliness to their character, and freedom to their
speech and manners.

The island was famed among the fishermen as the rendezvous of Lafitte
the pirate, and the patron told us that our host had been his prisoner
two years. This man was about fifty-five, tall and thin, and his face
was so darkened by the sun that it was hard to say whether he was white
or of mixed blood. We remarked that he was not fond of talking of his
captivity; he said he did not know how long he was a prisoner nor where
he was taken; and as the business of piracy was rather complicated in
these parts, we conceived a suspicion that he had not been a prisoner
entirely against his will. His fellow-fishermen had no narrow feelings
on the subject, and perhaps gave a preference to piracy as a larger
business, and one that brought more ounces, than catching turtles. They
seemed however, to have an idea that los Ingleses entertained different
views, and the prisoner, el pobre, as our patron called him, said those
things were all over, and it was best not to disturb them. He could
not, however, help dropping a few words in behalf of Lafitte, or
Monsieur Lafitta; he did not know whether it was true what people said
of him, but he never hurt the poor fishermen, and, led on by degrees he
told us that Lafitte died in his arms, and that his widow, a señora del
Norte from Mobile, was then living in great distress at Silan, the port
at which we intended to disembark.

Besides piratical associations, this island had been the scene of a
strange incident within the last two years. A sailor lay on his
death-bed in Cadiz, penniless and friendless, and, to requite the
kindness of his host for allowing him to die in his house, he told the
latter that, some years before, he had belonged to a band of pirates,
and upon one occasion, after taking a rich prize and murdering all on
board, he had gone ashore with his companions at the island of Mugeres,
and buried a large sum of money in gold. When the piratical hordes were
broken up he escaped, and dared not return to regions where he might be
recognised. He said his companions were all hanged except one
Portuguese, who lived in the island of Antigua, and, as the only means
of requiting his host's kindness, he advised him to seek out the
Portuguese and recover the money. The host at first thought the story
was told only to secure a continuance of good treatment, and paid no
attention to it, but the sailor died protesting its truth. The Spaniard
made a voyage to the island of Antigua, and found out the Portuguese,
who at first denied all knowledge of the transaction, but at length
confessed it, and said that he was only waiting for an opportunity to
go and dig up the gold. Some arrangement was made between them, and the
Spaniard procured a small vessel, and set sail with the Portuguese on
board. The vessel became short of provisions and water, and off Yalahao
encountered the patron of our canoa, who, as he said, on receiving
twenty-five dollars in advance, piloted her into that place for
supplies. While there the story of the treasure leaked out; the
Portuguese tried to escape, but the Spaniard set sail, carrying him
off. The fishermen followed in canoas. The Portuguese, under the
influence of threats, indicated a place for the landing, and was
carried on shore bound. He protested that in that condition he could
not find the spot; he had never been there except at the time of
burying the gold, and required time and freedom of movement; but the
Spaniard, furious at the notoriety given to the thing, and at the
uninvited company of the fishermen, refused to trust him, and set his
men to digging, the fishermen joining on their own account. The digging
continued two days, during which time the Portuguese was treated with
great cruelty, and the sympathy of the fishermen was excited, and
increased by the consideration that this island was within their
fishing limits, and if they got the Portuguese into their own
possession, they could come back at any time and dig up the money
quietly, without any wrangle with strangers. In the mean time, our old
friend Don Vicente Albino, then living at Cozumel, hearing of treasure
on an island belonging to nobody, and so near his own, ran down with
his sloop and put in for the Portuguese. The Spanish proprietor was
obliged to give him up. Don Vicente could not get hold of him, and the
fishermen carried him off to Yalahao, where, finding himself out of the
actual grasp of any of them, he set up for himself, and by the first
opportunity slipped off in a canoa for Campeachy, since which he had
never been heard of.

[Engraving 67: A lonely Edifice]

Early in the morning, under the guidance of two of the fishermen, we
set out to visit the ruins. The island of Mugeres is between four and
five mile long, half a mile wide, and four miles distant from the
mainland. The ruins were at the north end. For a short distance we kept
along the shore, and then struck into a path cut straight across the
island. About half way across we came to a santa cruz, or holy cross,
set up by the fishermen, at which place we heard distinctly the sound
of the breakers on the opposite shore. To the right a faint track was
perceptible, which soon disappeared altogether; but our guides knew the
direction, and, cutting a way with the machete, we came out upon a
high, rocky, perpendicular cliff, which commanded an immense expanse of
ocean, and against which the waves, roused by the storm of the night
before, were dashing grandly. We followed along the brink of the cliff
and around the edges of great perpendicular chasms, the ground being
bare of trees and covered with a scrubby plant, called the uba, with
gnarled roots, spreading like the branches of a grape-vine. At the
point terminating the island, standing boldly upon the sea, was the
lonely edifice represented in the engraving opposite. Below, rocking on
the waves was a small canoa, with our host then in the act of getting
on board a turtle. It was the wildest and grandest scene we had looked
upon in our whole journey.

The steps which led to the building are in good preservation, and at
the foot is a platform, with the ruins of an altar. The front, on one
side of the doorway, has fallen. When entire it measured twenty-eight
feet, and it is fifteen feet deep. On the top is a cross, probably
erected by the fishermen. The interior is divided into two corridors,
and in the wall of that in front are three small doorways leading to
the inner corridor. The ceiling had the triangular arch, and throughout
the hand of the builders on the mainland could not be mistaken, but on
the walls were writings which seemed strangely familiar in an
aboriginal building. These inscriptions were,

            D. Doyle, 1842.             A. G. Goodall, 1842.
                          H. M. Ship Blossom.
       11th October, 1811. Corsaire Françes (Chebek) le Vengeur,
                          Capt. Pierre Liovet;

and wafered on the wall on separate cards were the names of the
officers of the Texan schooners of war San Bernard and San Antonio.

At the distance of a few hundred feet was another building about
fourteen feet square, having four doorways, with steps on three sides,
dilapidated, and almost inaccessible on account of the thickets of
cactus and thorn bushes growing around it.

In the account given by Bernal Dias of the expedition of Cortez, he
says that, after leaving the island of Cozumel, the fleet was separated
by a gale of wind, but the next day all the ships joined company except
one, which, according to the surmise of the pilot, was found in a
certain bay on the coast wind bound. "Here," says Bernal Dias, "several
of our companions went on shore, and found in the town hard by, four
temples, the idols in which represented human female figures of large
size, for which reason we named this place _Punta_ de las Mugeres," or
the Point of the Women. Gomarra speaks of a _Cape_ Mugeres, and says,
"At this place there were towers covered with wood and straw, in which,
in the best order, were put many idols, that appeared to be
representations of women." No mention is made by any of the old
historians of the _island_ of Mugeres, but there is no point or cape on
the mainland; and, considering the ignorance of the coast which must
have existed in the early voyages, it is not impossible to believe that
the Spaniards gave to the promontory on which these buildings stand the
name of point or cape, in which case the building presented in the
engraving may be one of the temples or towers referred to by Bernal
Dias and Gomarra.

We returned to the hut ready to embark, and at twelve o'clock we took
leave of the fishermen, and were again on board our canoa.

The wind was fair and strong, and very soon we reached the point of the
island. Toward dark we doubled Catoche, and, for the first time
coasting all night, day broke upon us in the harbour of Yalahao. After
the desolate regions we had been visiting, the old pirates' haunt
seemed a metropolis. We anchored on a mud-bank leg deep, and now
discovered that our patron, hired only for the occasion, intended to
leave us, and substitute another. Afraid of the men following, and
subjecting us to detention, we forwarded a threatening message to the
agent, and remained on board.

At seven o'clock we were again under way, with the wind directly
astern, and as much as we could carry, the canoa rolling so that we
were compelled to take in the mainsail. The coast was low, barren, and
monotonous. At three o'clock we passed an ancient mound, towering above
the huts that constituted the port of El Cuyo, a landmark for sailors,
visible at sea three leagues distant; but our patron told us that there
were no buildings or vestiges of ruins.

At four o'clock we saw an old acquaintance in misfortune. It was the
brig which had arrived at Sisal a few hours after we did, lying a wreck
on the beach, with foremast and bowsprit broken, sails stripped, but
the hull still entire; probably long before this the shore is strewed
with her fragments.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

Port of Silan.--Hospitality.--Breakfast.--Walk along the Shore.--
Flamingoes.--Shooting Excursion to Punta Arenas.--Wild Road.--Take
Possession of a Hut.--Great Variety and immense Numbers of Wild
Fowl.--Get Stuck in the Mud.--Flamingoes and Spoonbills.--A ludicrous
Adventure.--Dissection of Birds.--Return to the Port.--The Quartel.--A
Catastrophe.--Departure.--Village of Silan.--Gigantic Mound.--View
from its Top.--Another Mound.--Accounts of Herrera and Cogolludo.--The
Grave of Lafitte.--Hospitality of the Padres.--Departure from
Silan.--Temax.--Church and Convent.--Izamal.--Fiesta of Santa
Cruz.--Appearance of the City.--Mounds.--Colossal Ornaments in
Stucco.--Gigantic Head.--Stupendous Mound.--Interior Chambers.--Church
and Convent.--Built on an ancient Mound.--A Legend.--A Ball.

At daylight the next morning we crawled out from the bottom of the
canoa, and found her anchored off the port of Silan, which consisted of
a few huts built around a sandy square on a low, barren coast. We gave
portions of our tattered garments to the waves, and waded ashore. It
was three weeks since we had embarked; our coast voyage had been more
interesting than we expected, but there was no part of it so agreeable
as the end; we were but too happy to get rid of the discomfort and
confinement of the canoa. The patron went to find lodgings for us, and
I followed with one of the boatmen, carrying a load. A man just opening
the door of a sort of warehouse called to me, and offered it for our
accommodation, which, on looking within, I did not hesitate to accept.
This man had never heard of us nor we of him, and, probably, neither
will ever hear of the other again. It was another instance of the
universally kind treatment we met with in all parts of the country.

Silan is the port of Izamal, which is eleven leagues distant.
According to our arrangement, Dimas was to meet us here with the
horses, but he had not arrived or been heard of. We learned, however,
that there was no green food to be procured at this place, which Dimas
had probably learned at the village, three leagues distant, and had
therefore remained at that place; yet we had some uneasiness, as he had
to make a journey of two hundred and fifty miles, and our first
business was to despatch Albino for information. Next we had a great
enterprise in procuring breakfast, and after this in providing for
dinner, which we determined should be the best the country afforded, to
consist of fish and fowl, each of which had to be bought separately,
and, with separate portions of lard, sent to different houses to be

During the interval of preparation I took a walk along the shore.
Toward the end of a sandy beach was a projecting point, on a line with
which I noticed on the water what seemed to be a red cloud of singular
brilliancy, and, at the same time, delicacy of colour, which, on
drawing nearer, I found to be a flat covered with flamingoes. On my
return I reported the discovery to Doctor Cabot, when our host gave us
such a glowing account of flamingoes, scarlet ibises, and roseate
spoonbills at Punta Arenas, about two leagues distant, that my
imagination was excited by the idea of such clouds of beautiful
plumage. Doctor Cabot was anxious for closer acquaintance with the
birds, and we determined, in case our horses arrived, to go thither
that same afternoon, and, after a few hours' shooting, overtake Mr.
Catherwood the next day at Izamal. In good time our horses arrived with
Dimas, in fine order; and as he had had some days' rest, we took him
and an Indian procured by our host, and at about four o'clock set out.
For the first league our road lay directly along the shore, but farther
on there were projecting points, to cut off which a footpath led among
mangrove trees, with shoots growing from the branches into the ground,
forming what seemed a naked and impenetrable canebrake, surmounted by
thick green foliage. In many places it was difficult to advance on
horseback; from time to time we came out upon a broken, stony shore,
and, considering that we had set out merely for a short ride, we found
ourselves travelling on one of the wildest roads we had met with in the
country. At dusk we reached a hut in a beautifully picturesque
position, imbosomed in a small bay, with a frail bridge, about two feet
wide, running out some distance from the shore, and a canoa floating at
the end. The hut consisted of two parts, connected by a thatched
arbour, empty, and apparently begging for a tenant. A string of fish
hung on one of the beams, and on the ground were a few smothered coals.
We swung our hammocks, kindled a fire, and when the occupant arrived
had a cup of chocolate ready for him, and endeavoured to make him feel
himself at home; but this was no easy matter. He was a lad of about
sixteen, the son of the proprietor, who had gone away that day, the
fishing season being nearly over. He certainly was not expecting us,
and was taken somewhat by surprise; he had never seen a foreigner in
his life, and was by no means reassured when we told him that we had
come to shoot flamingoes and spoonbills. Our Indian gave him some
indistinct notion of our object, of which, however, he must have had a
very imperfect notion himself; and seeming to intimate that we were
beyond his comprehension, or, at all events, entirely too many for him,
the boy withdrew to the other division of the hut, and left us in full
possession. Instead of a rough night we were well provided for, but,
unfortunately, there was no ramon or water for the horses. We made an
affecting appeal to our young host, and he spared us part of a small
stock of maize, which he had on hand for the making of his own
tortillas, but they had to go without water, as none could be procured
at night.

In the gray of the morning we heard a loud quacking of ducks, which
almost lifted us out of our hammocks, and carried us out of doors.
Beyond the point of the little dock was a long sand-bank, covered with
immense flocks of these birds. Our host could not go with us till he
had examined his fishing nets, and Dimas had to take the horses to
water, but we pushed off with our Indian to set the canoe. Very soon we
found that he was not familiar with the place, or with the management
of a canoe, and, what was worse, we could not understand a word he
said. Below us the shore formed a large bay, with the Punta de Arenas,
or Point of Sand, projecting toward us, bordered down to the water's
edge with trees, and all over the bay were sand-banks, barely appearing
above water, and covered with wild fowl of every description known, in
numbers almost exceeding the powers of conception. In recurring to them
afterward, Doctor Cabot enumerated of ducks, the mallard, pin-tail,
blooming teal, widgeon, and gadwall; of bitterns, the American bittern,
least bittern, great and lesser egret, blue crane, great blue heron,
Louisiana heron, night heron, two kinds of rail, one clapper rail,
white ibis, willets, snipes, red-breasted snipe, least snipe,
semi-palmated sandpiper, black-breasted plover, marble godwit,
long-billed curlew, osprey or fish-hawk, black hawk, and other smaller
birds, of which we took no note, and all together, with their brilliant
plumage and varied notes, forming, as we passed among them, an animated
and exciting scene, but it was no field for sporting. It would have
been slaughter to shoot among them. In an hour we could have loaded our
canoe with birds, of which one or two brace would be considered a fair
morning's work. But we did not know what to do with them, and, besides,
these were not what we were looking for. A single flock of flamingoes
flew by us, but out of reach, and at the moment we were stuck in the
mud. Our Indian made horrible work in setting us, and continued to hit
every flat till we reached the head of the bay, and entered a branch
like a creek. Unable to hold discourse with him, and supposing that he
was setting right, we continued to move slowly up the stream, until we
found that we were getting beyond the region of birds; but the scene
was so quiet and peaceful that we were loth to return; and still on
each bank the snowy plumage of the white ibis appeared among the green
of the trees, and the heron stood like a statue in the water, turning
his long neck almost imperceptibly, and looking at us. But we had no
time for quiet enjoyment, and turned back. Near the mouth of the creek
a flock of roseate spoonbills flew over our heads, also out of reach,
but we saw where they alighted, and setting toward them till we were
stopped by a mud-bank, we took to the water, or rather to the mud, in
which we found our lower members moving suddenly downward to parts
unknown, and in some danger of descending till our sombreros only
remained as monuments of our muddy grave. Extricating ourselves, moving
in another direction, and again sinking and drawing back, for two hours
we toiled, struggled, floundered, and fired, a laughing stock to the
beautiful spoonbills in the free element above. At length Dr. Cabot
brought one down, and we parted. In following our separate fortunes
along the shore I shot one, which fell at the other side of a stream.
As I rushed in, the water rose above all my mud stains, and I fell
back, and hastily disencumbered myself of clothing. A high wind was
sweeping over the bay; having no stone at hand with which to secure
them, my hat and light garments were blown into the water, and at the
same moment the roseate bird stood up, opened its large wings, and
fluttered along the beach. Distracted between the bird and the fugitive
clothing, I let the latter go, and gave chase to the bird, after
securing which, and holding it kicking under my arm, I pursued my
habiliments, now some distance apart, into the water, and at length got
back to dry land with my miscellaneous load, and stood on the beach a
picture of an antiquary in distress, doubtless illustrating the proverb
to the Indian, who now came to my relief, if he had ever met with it in
the course of his reading, that no man can be a hero to his valet de
chambre. In honour of the event I determined to make an essay in
dissection, and to carry the bird home with me as a memorial of this

By this time Doctor Cabot joined me, and it was necessary to return. We
had procured but one bird each, and had been disappointed of the grand
spectacle of clouds of beautiful plumage, but the account of our host
was no doubt true to the letter, for the season was late, and the
brilliant birds we were seeking had wended their way north; but even of
these, with the knowledge we had acquired of localities, two canoes,
and good setters, in another day we could have procured any number we
wanted. For mere sporting, such a ground is not often seen, and the
idea of a shooting lodge, or rather hut, on the shores of Punta de
Arenas for a few months in the season, with a party large enough to
consume the game, presented itself almost as attractively as that of
exploring ruined cities. On our return, each of us made a single shot,
from which we picked up between thirty and forty birds, leaving others
crippled and hopping on the beach. We got back to the hut; and tumbled
them all into a dry pot (the feathers being, of course, taken off), and
sat down ourselves to the business of dissection. With a finishing
touch from Doctor Cabot, I prepared a miserable specimen of a beautiful
bird, looking upon it, nevertheless, with great satisfaction as the
memorial of a remarkable place and an interesting adventure. In the
mean time, the birds on the fire were getting on swimmingly, in a
literal sense, giving decided evidence touching the richness of their
feeding-grounds. We had only tortillas as an accompaniment, but neither
we nor the birds had any reason to complain.

At four o'clock we took leave of our young host, and at dark reached
the port, and rode across the sandy plaza. The door which had opened to
us with so much alacrity was now shut, but not by the hand of
inhospitality. Mr. Catherwood and the owner had left for the village,
and the house was locked up. Some of the villagers, however, came to
us, and conducted us to the quartel, which was garrisoned by two women,
who surrendered at discretion, provided us with chocolate, and,
although the hut was abundantly large for all of us, unexpectedly bade
us good-night, and withdrew to a neighbour's to sleep. If they had
remained, not being worn down by fatigue as we were, and, consequently,
more wakeful, a sad catastrophe might have been prevented. We laid our
birds carefully on a table to dry; during the night a cat entered, and
we were awaked to see the fruits of our hard day's labour dragged along
the floor, and the cat bounding from them, and escaping through a hole
in the side of the hut. It was no consolation to us, but if she had
nine lives, the arsenic used for preserving the birds had probably
taken them all.

[Engraving 68: Immense Mound]

Before daylight the next morning we were again in the saddle. For some
distance back from the port the ground had been washed or overflowed by
the sea, and was a sandy, barren mangrove brake. Beyond commenced the
same broken, stony surface, and before we had proceeded far we
discovered that Doctor Cabot's horse was lame. Not to lose time, I rode
on to procure another, and at eight o'clock reached the village of
Silan. In the suburbs I discovered unexpectedly the towering memorial
of another ruined city, and riding into the plaza, saw at one angle,
near the wall of the church, the gigantic mound represented in the
plate opposite, the grandest we had seen in the country. Much as we had
seen of ruins, the unexpected sight of this added immensely to the
interest of our long journeying among the remains of aboriginal
grandeur. Leaving my horse at the casa real, and directing the alcalde
to see about getting one for Doctor Cabot, I walked over to the mound.
At the base, and inside of the wall of the church, were five large
orange trees, loaded with fruit. A group of Indians were engaged in
getting stone out of the mound to repair the wall, and a young man was
superintending them, whom I immediately recognised as the padre. He
accompanied me to the top of the mound; it was one of the largest we
had seen, being about fifty feet high and four hundred feet long. There
was no building or structure of any kind visible; whatever had been
upon it had fallen or been pulled down. The church, the wall of the
yard, and the few stone houses in the village, had been built of
materials taken from it.

In walking along the top we reached a hole, at the bottom of which I
discovered the broken arch of a ceiling, and looked through it into an
apartment below. This explained the character of the structure. A
building had extended the whole length of the mound, the upper part of
which had fallen, and the ruins had made the whole a long, confused,
and undistinguishable mass. The top commanded an extensive view of a
great wooded plain, and near by, rising above the trees, was another
mound, which, within a few years, had been crowned with an edifice,
called, as at Chichen and Tuloom, El Castillo. The padre, a young man,
but little over thirty, remembered when this Castillo stood with its
doorways open, pillars in them, and corridors around. The sight of
these ruins was entirely unexpected; if they had been all we had met
with in the country, we should have gazed upon them with perplexity and
wonder; and they possessed unusual interest from the fact that they
existed in a place, the name of which was known and familiar to us as
that of an existing aboriginal town at the time of the conquest.

In tracing the disorderly flight of the Spaniards from Chichen Itza, we
find them first at Silan, which is described by Herrera as being "Then
a fine Town, the Lord whereof was a Youth of the Race of the Cheles,
then a Christian, and great Friend to Captain Francis de Montejo, who
received and entertained them. Tirrok was near Silan; that and the
other Towns along the Coast were subject to the Cheles, who, having
been no way disobliged by the Spaniards did not disturb them, and so
they continued some Months, when, seeing no Possibility of being
supplied with Men and other Things they wanted, they resolved quite to
abandon that Country. In order to it, they were to march to Campeachy,
forty Leagues from Silan, which was looked upon as very dangerous,
because the Country was very populous; but the Lord of Silan and others
bearing them Company, they arrived in Safety, and the Cheles returned
to their own Homes." Cogolludo, too, traces the routed Spaniards to
Silan, but thence, with more probability, he carries them by sea to
Campeachy; for, as he well suggests, the lords of Silan would not have
been able to give them safe escort through forty leagues of territory
inhabited by different tribes, all hostile to the Spaniards, and some
of them hostile to the Cheles themselves. This difference, however, is
unimportant; both accounts prove that there was a large town of
aboriginal inhabitants in this vicinity, and, as at Ticul and Nohcacab,
we must either suppose that these great mounds are the remains of the
aboriginal town, or we must believe that another town of the same name
existed in this immediate neighbourhood, of which no trace whatever now

The reader may remember that we left the port before daylight. As I
stood on the top of the mound, all that I needed to fill up the measure
of my satisfaction was the certainty of a breakfast The padre seemed to
divine my thoughts; he relieved me from all uneasiness, and enabled me
to contemplate with a tranquil mind the sublimity of these remains of a
fallen people. When Doctor Cabot arrived he found a table that
surprised him.

Silan was known to us as the scene of a modern and minor event. Our
ambiguous friend on the island of Mugeres had told us that at this
place Lafitte died and was buried, and I inquired for his grave. The
padre was not in the village at the time, and did not know whether he
was buried in the campo santo or the church, but supposed that, as
Lafitte was a distinguished man, it was in the latter. We went thither,
and examined the graves in the floor, and the padre drew out from amid
some rubbish a cross, with a name on it, which he supposed to be that
of Lafitte, but it was not. The sexton who officiated at the burial was
dead; the padre sent for several of the inhabitants, but a cloud hung
over the memory of the pirate: all knew of his death and burial, but
none knew or cared to tell where he was laid. We had heard, also, that
his widow was living in the place, but this was not true. There was,
however, a negress who had been a servant to the latter, and who, we
were told, spoke English; the cura sent for her, but she was so
intoxicated that she could not make her appearance.

The last of the padre's good offices was procuring a horse for Doctor
Cabot, which the alcalde had not been able to do. It was the last time
we were thrown upon the hospitality of a padre, and in taking leave of
him, I do repent me that in my confidential intercourse with the reader
I have at times let fall what I might better have kept to myself.

At ten o'clock we set out, and at half past twelve reached Temax, two
and a half leagues distant. It had a fine plaza, with a great church
and convent, and a stone casa real, with a broad corridor in front,
under which the guarda were swinging in hammocks.

We were but six leagues from Izamal, at which place, we learned, a
fiesta was then going on, and there was to be a ball in the evening;
but we could neither push our horses through, nor procure a calesa,
though the road was good for wheel carriages.

Early in the evening we took to our hammocks, but had hardly lain down,
when one of the guarda came to inform us that a caricoche had just
arrived from Izamal, and wanted a return freight. We had it brought
down to the casa real, and at two o'clock, by a bright moonlight, we
started, leaving Dimas to follow with the horses. The caricoche was
drawn by three mules, and had in it a bed, on which we reclined at full

At nine o'clock we entered the suburbs of Izamal, but fifteen leagues
from Merida. The streets had lamps, and were designated by visible
objects, as at Merida. Peeping through the curtain, we rode into the
plaza, which was alive with people, dressed in clean clothes for the
fiesta. There was an unusual proportion of gentlemen with black hats
and canes, and some with military coats, bright and flashing to such a
degree that we congratulated ourselves upon not having made our entry
on horseback. We had on our shooting-clothes, with the mud stains from
Punta Arenas, and by computation our beards were of twenty-eight days'
growth. In the centre of the plaza our driver stopped for instructions.
We directed him to the casa real, and as we were moving on, our English
saddles, strapped on behind, caught the eye of Albino, who conducted us
to the house in which Mr. Catherwood was already domiciled. This house
was a short distance from the plaza, built of stone, and about sixty
feet front, divided into two large salas, with rooms adjoining, a broad
corridor behind, and a large yard for horses, for all which the rent
was three reales per day, being, as we were advised, but two more than
anybody else would have been obliged to pay. In a few moments we had
done all that our scanty wardrobe would allow, and were again in the

It was the last day of the fiesta of Santa Cruz. By the grace of a
beneficent government, the village of Izamal had been erected into a
city, and the jubilee on account of this accession of political dignity
was added to the festival of the holy cross. The bull-fights were over,
but the bull-ring, fancifully ornamented, still remained in the centre
of the plaza, and two bulls stood under one of the corridors, pierced
with wounds and streaming with blood, as memorials of the fight. Amid a
crowd of Indians were parties of vecinos, or white people, gay and well
dressed in the style and costume of the capital, and under the corridor
of a corner house, with an arbour projecting into the plaza, music was
sounding to summon the people to a ball. From desolation and solitude
we had come into the midst of gayeties, festivities, and rejoicings.
But amid this gay scene the eye turned involuntarily to immense mounds
rising grandly above the tops of the houses, from which the whole city
had been built, without seeming to diminish their colossal proportions,
proclaiming the power of those who reared them, and destined,
apparently, to stand, when the feebler structures of their more
civilized conquerors shall have crumbled into dust.

[Engraving 69: Gigantic Head]

One of these great mounds, having at that time benches upon it,
commanding a view of the bullfight in the plaza, blocked up the yard of
the house we occupied, and extended into the adjoining yard of the
Señora Mendez, who was the owner of both. It is, perhaps, two hundred
feet long and thirty high. The part in our yard was entirely ruined,
but in that of the señora it appeared that its vast sides had been
covered from one end to the other with colossal ornaments in stucco,
most of which had fallen, but among the fragments is the gigantic head
represented in the plate opposite. It is seven feet eight inches in
height and seven feet in width. The ground-work is of projecting
stones, which are covered with stucco. A stone one foot six inches long
protrudes from the chin, intended, perhaps, for burning copal on, as a
sort of altar. It was the first time we had seen an ornament of this
kind upon the exterior of any of these structures. In sternness and
harshness of expression it reminded us of the idols at Copan, and its
colossal proportions, with the corresponding dimensions of the mound,
gave an unusual impression of grandeur.

Two or three streets distant from the plaza, but visible in all its
huge proportions, was the most stupendous mound we had seen in the
country, being, perhaps, six or seven hundred feet long and sixty feet
high, which, we ascertained beyond all doubt, had interior chambers.

Turning from these memorials of former power to the degraded race that
now lingers round them, the stranger might run wild with speculation
and conjecture, but on the north side of the plaza is a monument that
recalls his roving thoughts, and holds up to his gaze a leaf in
history. It is the great church and convent of Franciscan monks,
standing on an elevation, and giving a character to the plaza that no
other in Yucatan possesses. Two flights of stone steps lead up to it,
and the area upon which they open is probably two hundred feet square;
on three sides is a colonnade, forming a noble promenade, overlooking
the city and the surrounding country to a great distance. This great
elevation was evidently artificial, and not the work of the Spaniards.

At the earliest period of the conquest we have accounts of the large
aboriginal town of Izamal, and, fortunately, in the pious care of the
early monks to record the erection of their church and convent, the
only memorials which, to the exclusive and absorbing spirit of the
times, seemed worth preserving, we have authentic records which
incidentally dispel all uncertainty respecting the origin of these
ancient mounds.

According to the account of the padre Lizana, in the year 1553, at the
second chapter held in the province, the padre Fr. Diego de Landa was
elected guardian of the convent of Izamal, and charged to erect the
building, the monks having lived until that time in houses of straw. He
selected as the place for the foundation one of the cerros, or mounds,
which then existed, "made by hand," and called by the natives
Phapphol-chac, which, says the padre Lizana, "signifies the habitation
or residence of the priests of the gods; this place was selected in
order that the devil might be driven away by the divine presence of
Christ sacrificed, and that the place in which the priests of the idol
lived, and which had been the place of abomination and idolatry, might
become that of sanctification, where the ministers of the true God
should offer sacrifices and adoration due to his Divine Majesty."

This is clear and unmistakeable testimony as to the original use and
occupation of the mound on which the church and convent of Izamal now
stand; and the same account goes on farther, and says: "At another
mound, on which was the idol called Kinick Kakmo, he founded a village
or settlement, calling it San Ildefonzo, and to the other cerro, called
Humpictok, where falls the village of Izamal, he gave for patron San
Antonio de Padua, demolishing the temple which was there; and where was
the idol called Haboc he founded a village called Santa Maria, by which
means he sought to sweep away the memory of so great idolatry."

It is unnecessary to comment upon these accounts. Testimony, never
intended for that purpose, proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that
these great mounds had upon them temples and idols, and the habitations
of priests, in the actual use of the Indians who were found occupying
the country at the time of the conquest; and, in my opinion, if it
stood alone, unsupported by any other, it is sufficient to dispel every
cloud of mystery that hangs over the ruins of Yucatan.

At the present day Izamal is distinguished throughout Yucatan for its
fair, but it has a stronger hold upon the feelings of the Indians in
the sanctity of its Virgin. From the history of the proceedings of the
monks, it appears that the Indians continued to worship El Demonio, and
the venerable padre Landa, after severe wrestling with the great enemy,
proposed to procure an image of the holy Virgin, offering to go for it
himself to Guatimala, in which city there was a skilful sculptor. At
the same time, another was wanted for the convent at Merida. The two
images were brought in a box, and though there was much rain on the
way, it never fell on the box, or on the Indians who carried it, or
within some steps of them. At Merida the monks selected for their
convent the one which had the most beautiful countenance and seemed
most devout; the other, though brought by the Indians of Izamal, and
intended for that place, the Spaniards of Valladolid claimed, and said
that it ought not to remain in a village of Indians. The Indians of
Izamal resisted, the Spaniards attempted to carry their purpose into
execution, and when in the suburbs of the village, the image became so
heavy that the bearers could not carry it. Divine Majesty interposed on
behalf of the Indians of Izamal, and there was not sufficient human
force to remove the statue. The devotion of the faithful increased at
the sight of these marvels, and in all parts, by land and sea, by means
of invocation to this Virgin, innumerable miracles have been wrought,
of which, says Cogolludo, a volume might have been written, if proper
care had been taken.

But, alas! though this Virgin could save others, herself she could not
save. On the left of the door of the church is a square stone set in
the wall, with an inscription, which tells the mournful tale, that in
the great burning of the church the Santa Virgen was entirely consumed;
but the hearts of the faithful are cheered by the assurance that one as
good as she has been put in her place.

After our visit to the church we returned to the corridor overlooking
the plaza. A young girl whom I had noticed all day sitting in one of
the corridors was still there, looking down upon the gay scene in the
plaza, but apparently abstracted, pensive, perhaps looking in vain for
one who did not appear.

In the evening we went to the ball, which was held in, or rather out
of, a house on the corner of the plaza. The sala was opened as a
refreshment room. In the corridor was a row of seats for those who did
not take part in the dance, and in front was an arbour projecting into
the plaza, with a cemented floor for the dancers. The ball had begun at
eight o'clock the evening before, and, with an intermission of a few
hours toward daylight, had been continued ever since; but it was
manifest that there were limits to the capabilities of human nature
even in dancing. The room was already less crowded than it had been
during the day. Two officers of the army (militia), who had been
toiling all day with a determination that promised well for Yucatan
under the threatened invasion of Mexico, had danced off their military
coats, but still kept the floor in light jackets. One placed a chair
for his drooping partner during the intervals of the dance. Another
followed his example, and by degrees every lady had her seat of relief.
At the last call only four couples appeared on the floor. Ladies,
fiddlers, and lights were all wearing out together, and we went away.
Before we were in our hammocks a loud burst of music, as it were a last
effort of expiring nature, broke up the ball.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

Departure for Merida.--The Road.--Cacalchen.--Hacienda of Aké.--The
Ruins.--Great Mound called the Palace.--Immense Staircase.--Grand
Approach.--Columns.--No Remains of a Building on the Mound.--Other
Mounds.--Interior Chamber.--A Senote.--Rude and Massive Character of
these Ruins.--End of Journey among ruined Cities.--Number of Cities
discovered.--Of the Builders of the American Cities.--Opinion.--Built
by the Ancestors of the present Race of Indians.--Reply to Arguments
urged against this Belief.--Absence of Tradition.--Unparalleled
Circumstances which attended the Conquest.--Unscrupulous Policy of the
Spaniards.--Want of Tradition not confined to Events before the
Conquest.--Nor peculiar to American Ruins.--Degeneracy of the
Indians.--Insufficiency of these Arguments.--Farewell to Ruins.

The next morning we started for Merida, with the intention of diverging
for the last time to visit the ruins of Aké. The road was one of the
best in the country, made for carriages, but rough, stony, and
uninteresting. At Cacalchen, five leagues distant, we stopped to dine
and procure a guide to Aké.

In the afternoon we proceeded, taking with as only our hammocks, and
leaving Dimas to go on direct with the luggage to Merida. Turning off
immediately from the main road, we entered the woods, and following a
narrow path, a little before dark we reached the hacienda of Aké, and
for the last time were among the towering and colossal memorials of an
aboriginal city. The hacienda was the property of the Conde Peon, and,
contrary to our expectations, it was small, neglected, in a ruinous
condition, and entirely destitute of all kinds of supplies. We could
not procure even eggs, literally nothing but tortillas. The major domo
was away, the principal building locked up, and the only shelter we
could obtain was a miserable little hut, full of fleas, which no
sweeping could clear out. We had considered all our rough work over,
but again, and within a day's journey of Merida, we were in bad
straits. By great ingenuity, and giving them the shortest possible tie,
Albino contrived to swing our hammocks, and having no other resource,
early in the evening we fell into them. At about ten o'clock we heard
the tramp of a horse, and the major domo arrived. Surprised to find
such unexpected visiters, but glad to see them, he unlocked the
hacienda, and walking out in our winding sheets, we took possession;
our hammocks followed, and were hung up anew. In the morning he
provided us with breakfast, after which, accompanied by him and all the
Indians of the hacienda, being only six, we went round to see the

[Engraving 70: Mound called El Palacio]

The plate opposite represents a great mound towering in full sight
sight from the door of the hacienda, and called El Palacio, or the
Palace. The ascent is on the south side, by an immense staircase, one
hundred and thirty-seven feet wide, forming an approach of rude
grandeur, perhaps equal to any that ever existed in the country. Each
step is four feet five inches long, and one foot five inches in height.
The platform on the top is two hundred and twenty-five feet in length,
and fifty in breadth. On this great platform stand thirty-six shafts,
or columns, in three parallel rows of twelve, about ten feet apart from
north to south, and fifteen from east to west. They are from fourteen
to sixteen feet in height, four feet on each side, and are composed of
separate stones, from one to two feet in thickness. But few have
fallen, though some have lost their upper layer of stones. There are no
remains of any structure or of a roof. If there ever was one, it must
have been of wood, which would seem most incongruous and inappropriate
for such a solid structure of stones. The whole mound was so overgrown
that we could not ascertain the juxtaposition of the pillars till the
growth was cleared away, when we made out the whole, but with little or
no enlargement of our knowledge as to its uses and purposes. It was a
new and extraordinary feature, entirely different from any we had seen,
and at the very end of our journey, when we supposed ourselves familiar
with the character of American ruins, threw over them a new air of

In the same vicinity are other mounds of colossal dimensions, one of
which is also called the Palace, but of a different construction and
without pillars. On another, at the head of the ruined staircase, is an
opening under the top of a doorway, nearly filled up, crawling through
which, by means of the crotch of a tree I descended into a dark chamber
fifteen feet long and ten wide, of rude construction, and of which some
of the stones in the wall measured seven feet in length. This is called
Akabna, casa obscura, or dark house. Near this is a senote, with the
remains of steps leading down to water, which once supplied the ancient
city. The ruins cover a great extent, but all were overgrown, and in a
condition too ruinous to be presented in a drawing. They were ruder and
more massive than all the others we had seen, bore the stamp of an
older era, and more than any others, in fact, for the first time in the
country, suggested the idea of Cyclopean remains; but even here we have
a gleam of historic light, faint, it is true, but, in my mind,
sufficient to dispel all unsettled and wavering notions.

In the account of the march of Don Francisco Montejo from the coast,
presented in the early part of these pages, it is mentioned that the
Spaniards reached a town called Aké, at which they found themselves
confronted by a great multitude of armed Indians. A desperate battle
ensued, which lasted two days, and in which the Spaniards were
victorious, but gained no easy triumph.

There is no other mention of Aké, and in this there is no allusion
whatever to the buildings, but from its geographical position, and the
direction of the line of march of the Spanish army from the coast, I
have little doubt that their Aké was the place now known by the same
name, and occupied by the ruins last presented. It is, indeed, strange
that no mention is made of the buildings, but regard must be had to the
circumstances of danger and death which surrounded the Spaniards, and
which were doubtless always uppermost in the minds of the soldiers who
formed that disastrous expedition. At all events, it is not more
strange than the want of any description of the great buildings of
Chichen, and we have the strongest possible proof that no correct
inference is to be drawn from the silence of the Spaniards, for in the
comparatively minute account of the conquest of Mexico, we find that
the Spanish army marched under the very shadow of the great pyramids of
Otumba, and yet not the slightest mention whatever is made of their

I have now finished my journey among ruined cities. I know that it is
impossible by any narrative to convey to the reader a true idea of the
powerful and exciting interest of wandering among them, and I have
avoided as much as possible all detailed descriptions, but I trust that
these pages will serve to give some general idea of the appearance
which this country once presented. In our long, irregular, and devious
route we have discovered the crumbling remains of forty-four ancient
cities, most of them but a short distance apart, though, from the great
change that has taken place in the country, and the breaking up of the
old roads, having no direct communication with each other; with but few
exceptions, all were lost, buried, and unknown, never before visited by
a stranger, and some of them, perhaps, never looked upon by the eyes of
a white man. Involuntarily we turn for a moment to the frightful scenes
of which this now desolate region must have been the theatre; the
scenes of blood, agony, and wo which preceded the desolation or
abandonment of these cities But, leaving the boundless space in which
imagination might rove, I confine myself to the consideration of facts.
If I may be permitted to say so, in the whole history of discoveries
there is nothing to be compared with those here presented. They give an
entirely new aspect to the great Continent on which we live, and bring
up with more force than ever the great question which I once, with some
hesitation, undertook to consider: Who were the builders of these
American cities?

My opinion on this question has been fully and freely expressed, "that
they are not the works of people who have passed away, and whose
history is lost, but of the same races who inhabited the country at the
time of the Spanish conquest, or of some not very distant progenitors."
Some were probably in ruins, but in general I believe that they were
occupied by the Indians at the time of the Spanish invasion. The
grounds of this belief are interspersed throughout these pages; they
are interwoven with so many facts and circumstances that I do not
recapitulate them; and in conclusion I shall only refer briefly to
those arguments which I consider the strongest that are urged against
this belief.

The first is the entire absence of all traditions. But I would ask, may
not this be accounted for by the unparalleled circumstances which
attended the conquest and subjugation of Spanish America? Every captain
or discoverer, on first planting the royal standard on the shores of a
new country, made proclamation according to a form drawn up by the most
eminent divines and lawyers in Spain, the most extraordinary that ever
appeared in the history of mankind; entreating and requiring the
inhabitants to acknowledge and obey the church as the superior and
guide of the universe, the holy father called the pope, and his majesty
as king and sovereign lord of these islands, and of the terra firma;
and concluding, "But if you will not comply, or maliciously delay to
obey my injunction, then, with the help of God, I will enter your
country by force; I will carry on war against you with the utmost
violence; I will subject you to the yoke of obedience, to the church
and king; I will take your wives and children, and make them slaves,
and sell or dispose of them according to his majesty's pleasure. I will
seize your goods, and do you all the mischief in my power, as
rebellious subjects, who will not acknowledge or submit to their lawful
sovereign; and I protest that all the bloodshed and calamities which
shall follow are to be imputed to you, and not to his majesty, or to
me, or the gentlemen who serve under me."

The conquest and subjugation of the country were carried out in the
unscrupulous spirit of this proclamation. The pages of the historians
are dyed with blood; and sailing on the crimson stream, with a master
pilot at the helm, appears the leading, stern, and steady policy of the
Spaniards, surer and more fatal than the sword, to subvert all the
institutions of the natives, and to break up and utterly destroy all
the rites, customs, and associations that might keep alive the memory
of their fathers and their ancient condition. One sad instance shows
the effects of this policy. Before the destruction of Mayapan, the
capital of the kingdom of Maya, all the nobles of the country had
houses in that city, and were exempted from tribute; according to the
account from which Cogolludo derives his authority, in the year 1582,
forty years after the conquest, all who held themselves for lords and
nobles still claimed their solares (sites for mansions) as tokens of
their rank; but now, he says, "from the change of government and the
little estimation in which they are held, it does not appear that they
care to preserve nobility for their posterity, for at this day the
descendants of Tutul Xiu, who was the king and natural lord by right of
the land of Maya, if they do not work with their own hands in manual
offices, have nothing to eat." And if at that early date nobles no
longer cared for their titles, and the descendants of the royal house
had nothing to eat but what they earned with their own hands, it is not
strange that the present inhabitants, nine generations removed, without
any written language, borne down by three centuries of servitude, and
toiling daily for a scanty subsistence, are alike ignorant and
indifferent concerning the history of their ancestors, and the great
cities lying in ruins under their eyes. And strange or not, no argument
can be drawn from it, for this ignorance is not confined to ruined
cities or to events before the conquest. It is my belief, that among
the whole mass of what are called Christianized Indians, there is not
at this day one solitary tradition which can shed a ray of light upon
any event in their history that occurred one hundred and fifty years
from the present time; in fact, I believe it would be almost impossible
to procure any information of any kind whatever beyond the memory of
the oldest living Indian.

Besides, the want of traditionary knowledge is not peculiar to these
American ruins. Two thousand years ago the Pyramids towered on the
borders of the African Desert without any certain tradition of the time
when they were founded; and so long back as the first century of the
Christian era, Pliny cites various older authors who disagreed
concerning the persons who built them, and even concerning the use and
object for which they were erected. No traditions hang round the ruins
of Greece and Rome; the temples of Pæstum, lost until within the last
half century, have no traditions to identify their builders; the "holy
city" has only weak inventions of modern monks. But for written
records, Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman remains would be as mysterious as
the ruins of America; and to come down to later times and countries
comparatively familiar, tradition sheds no light upon the round towers
of Ireland, and the ruins of Stonehenge stand on Salisbury plain
without a tradition to carry us back to the age or nation of their

The second argument I shall notice is, that a people possessing the
power, art, and skill to erect such cities, never could have fallen so
low as the miserable Indians who now linger about their ruins. To this,
too, it might be sufficient to answer that their present condition is
the natural and inevitable consequence of the same ruthless policy
which laid the axe at the root of all ancient recollections, and cut
off forever all traditionary knowledge. But waiving this ground, the
pages of written history are burdened with changes in national
character quite equal to that here exhibited. And again, leaving
entirely out of the question all the analogous examples which might be
drawn from those pages, we have close at hand, and under our very eyes,
an illustration in point. The Indians who inhabit that country now are
not more changed than their Spanish masters. Whether debased, and but
little above the grade of brutes, as it was the policy of the Spaniards
to represent them, or not, we know that at the time of the conquest
they were at least proud, fierce, and warlike, and poured out their
blood like water to save their inheritance from the grasp of strangers.
Crushed, humbled, and bowed down as they are now by generations of
bitter servitude, even yet they are not more changed than the
descendants of those terrible Spaniards who invaded and conquered their
country. In both, all traces of the daring and warlike character of
their ancestors are entirely gone. The change is radical, in feelings
and instincts, inborn and transmitted, in a measure, with the blood;
and in contemplating this change in the Indian, the loss of mere
mechanical skill and art seems comparatively nothing; in fact, these
perish of themselves, when, as in the case of the Indians, the school
for their exercise is entirely broken up. Degraded as the Indians are
now, they are not lower in the scale of intellect than the serfs of
Russia, while it is a well-known fact that the greatest architect in
that country, the builder of the Cazan Church at St. Petersburgh, was
taken from that abject class, and by education became what he is. In my
opinion, teaching might again lift up the Indian, might impart to him
the skill to sculpture stone and carve wood; and if restored to
freedom, and the unshackled exercise of his powers of mind, there might
again appear a capacity to originate and construct, equal to that
exhibited in the ruined monuments of his ancestors.

The last argument, and that upon which most stress has been laid,
against the hypothesis that the cities were constructed by the
ancestors of the present Indians, is the alleged absence of historical
accounts in regard to the discovery or knowledge of such cities by the
conquerors. But it is manifest that even if this allegation were true,
the argument would be unsound, for it goes to deny that such cities
ever existed at all. Now there can be no doubt as to the fact of their
existence; and as it is never pretended that they were erected since
the conquest, they must be allowed to have been standing at that time.
Whether erected by the Indians or by races perished and unknown,
whether desolate or inhabited, beyond all question the great buildings
were there; if not entire, they must at least have been far more so
than they are now; if desolate, perhaps more calculated to excite
wonder than if inhabited; and in either case the alleged silence of the
historian would be equally inexplicable.

But the allegation is untrue. The old historians are not silent. On the
contrary, we have the glowing accounts of Cortez and his companions, of
soldiers, priests, and civilians, all concurring in representations of
existing cities, then in the actual use and occupation of the Indians,
with buildings and temples, in style and character like those presented
in these pages. Indeed, these accounts are so glowing that modern
historians, at the head of whom stands Robertson, have for that reason
thrown discredit over them, and ascribed them to a heated imagination.
To my mind, they bear on the face of them the stamp of truth, and it
seems strange that they have been deemed worthy of so little reliance.
But Robertson wrote upon the authority of correspondents in New Spain,
one of whom, long resident in that country, and professing to have
visited every part of it, says that "at this day there does not remain
the smallest vestige of any Indian building, public or private, either
in Mexico or any province of New Spain." Robertson's informants were
probably foreign merchants resident in the city of Mexico, whose
travels had been confined to the beaten road, and to places occupied by
the Spaniards; and at that time the white inhabitants were in utter
ignorance of the great cities, desolate and in ruins, that lay buried
in the forests. But at this day better information exists; vast remains
have been brought to light, and the discoveries prove incontestably
that those histories which make no mention of these great buildings are
imperfect, those which deny their existence are untrue. The graves cry
out for the old historians, and the mouldering skeletons of cities
confirm Herrera's account of Yucatan, that "there were so many and such
stately Stone Buildings that it was Amazing; and the greatest Wonder
was that, having no Use of any Metal, they were able to raise such
Structures, which seem to have been Temples, for their Houses were all
of Timber, and thatched." And again, he says, that "for the Space of
twenty Years there was such Plenty throughout the Country, and the
People multiplied so much that Men said the whole Province looked like
one Town."

These arguments then--the want of tradition, the degeneracy of the
people, and the alleged absence of historical accounts--are not
sufficient to disturb my belief, that the great cities now lying in
ruins were the works of the same races who inhabited the country at the
time of the conquest.

Who these people were, whence they came, and who were their
progenitors, are questions that involve too many considerations to be
entered upon at the conclusion of these pages; but all the light that
history sheds upon them is dim and faint, and may be summed up in few

According to traditions, picture writings, and Mexican manuscripts
written after the conquest, the Toltecs, or Toltecans, were the first
inhabitants of the land of Anahuac, now known as New Spain or Mexico,
and they are the oldest nations on the continent of America of which we
have any knowledge. Banished, according to their own history, from
their native country, which was situated to the northwest of Mexico, in
the year 596 of our era, they proceeded southward under the directions
of their chiefs, and, after sojourning at various places on the way for
the space of one hundred and twenty-four years, arrived at the banks of
a river in the vale of Mexico, where they built the city of Tula, the
capital of the Toltecan kingdom, near the site of the present city of

Their monarchy lasted nearly four centuries, during which they
multiplied, extended their population, and built numerous and large
cities; but direful calamities hung over them. For several years Heaven
denied them rain; the earth refused them food; the air, infected with
mortal contagion, filled the graves with dead; a great part of the
nation perished of famine or sickness; the last king was among the
number, and in the year 1052 the monarchy ended. The wretched remains
of the nation took refuge, some in Yucatan and others in Guatimala,
while some lingered around the graves of their kindred in the great
vale where Mexico was afterward founded. For a century the land of
Anahuac lay waste and depopulated. The Chechemecas, following in the
track of their ruined cities, reoccupied it, and after them the
Acolhuans, the Tlastaltecs, and the Aztecs, which last were the
subjects of Montezuma at the time of the invasion by the Spaniards. The
history of all these tribes or nations is misty, confused, and
indistinct. The Toltecans, represented to have been the most ancient,
are said to have been also the most polished. Probably they were the
originators of that peculiar style of architecture found in Guatimala
and Yucatan, which was adopted by all the subsequent inhabitants; and
as, according to their own annals, they did not set out on their
emigration to those countries from the vale of Mexico until the year
1052 of our era, the oldest cities erected by them in those countries
could have been in existence but from four to five hundred years at the
time of the Spanish conquest. This gives them a very modern date
compared with the Pyramids and temples of Egypt, and the other ruined
monuments of the Old World; it gives them a much less antiquity than
that claimed by the Maya manuscript, and, in fact, much less than I
should ascribe to them myself. In identifying them as the works of the
ancestors of the present Indians, the cloud which hung over their
origin is not removed; the time when and the circumstances under which
they were built, the rise, progress, and full development of the power,
art, and skill required for their construction, are all mysteries which
will not easily be unravelled. They rise like skeletons from the grave,
wrapped in their burial shrouds; claiming no affinity with the works of
any known people, but a distinct, independent, and separate existence.
They stand alone, absolutely and entirely anomalous, perhaps the most
interesting subject which at this day presents itself to the inquiring
mind. I leave them with all their mystery around them; and in the
feeble hope that these imperfect pages may in some way throw a glimmer
of light upon the great and long vainly mooted question, who were the
peoplers of America? I will now bid farewell to ruins.

                              CHAPTER XXV.

Departure.--Arrival at Merida.--Old Acquaintances.--Giraffes.--Aspect
of the Political Horizon.--The great Question of the Revolution
undecided.--Nomination of Deputies to the Mexican Congress.--Santa
Ana's Ultimatum.--Dissensions.--Pitiable Condition of the
State.--Cause of the Convulsions of the Southern Republics.--State
Rights.--Preparations for Departure from the Country.--Invasion of
Yucatan.--Parting with Friends.--Embarcation for Havana.--Arrival
there.--A Paseo.--The Tomb of Columbus.--Passage Home.--Conclusion.

At two o'clock we mounted for Merida, nine leagues distant. We did not
expect to reach it till night, and, from the unfortunate condition of
our travelling costume, did not care to enter the capital by daylight;
but, pushing on, and miscalculating the pace of our horses, we found
ourselves in the suburbs at that unlucky hour when, the excessive heat
being over, the inhabitants, in full dress, were sitting in the
doorways or along the side-walks, talking over the news of the day, and
particularly alive to the appearance of such a spectacle as our party
presented. We rode the whole length of the principal street, running
the gauntlet between long rows of eyes, and conscious that we were not
looked upon as making a very triumphal entry. Approaching the plaza, an
old acquaintance greeted us, and accompanied us to the Casa de las
Diligencias, a new establishment, opened since our departure, opposite
the convent, one of the largest and finest in the city, and equal to a
good hotel in Italy. Very soon we had the best apartments, and were
sitting down to _thé du China_, in English, tea, and _pan Françes_, or
bread without sweetening. After our hard journey among Indian ranches
and unwholesome haciendas, at times all prostrated by illness, we had
returned to Merida, successful beyond our utmost hopes. Our rough work
was all over, and our satisfaction cannot easily be described.

While lingering over the table, we heard the loud ringing of the
porter's bell, followed by landlord and servants running and tumbling
along the corridor, all crying out "La Diligencia," and presently we
heard the tramp of horses and the rattling of the post-coach from
Campeachy, into the court-yard. The passengers came up, and among them
we greeted with lively satisfaction our old friend Mr. Fisher, that
citizen of the world, the last traces of whom we had seen on the
desolate island of Cozumel. Another passenger, whose voice we had heard
rising in English from the court-yard above the jargon of Spanish and
Indian, as if entirely on private account, and indifferent whether it
was understood or not, immediately accosted me as an acquaintance; said
that I had been the cause of his coming to that place, and if he did
not succeed, should come upon me for damages; but I soon learned that I
had nothing to fear. Mr. Clayton had already created, perhaps, a
greater sensation than any stranger who ever visited that country; he
had obtained a hold upon the feelings of the people that no explorers
could ever win, and will be remembered long after we are forgotten. He
had brought from the United States an entire circus company, with
spotted horses, a portable theatre, containing seats for a thousand
persons, riders, clowns, and monkeys, all complete. No such thing had
ever been seen before; it threw far into the shade Daguerreotype and
curing biscos. He had turned Campeachy upside down, and leaving his
company there to soothe the excitement and pick up the pesos, he had
come up to make arrangements for opening in Merida. And this was by no
means Mr. Clayton's first enterprise. He had brought the first giraffes
into the United States from the Cape of Good Hope, and his accounts of
penetrating fifteen hundred miles into the interior of Africa, of his
adventures among the Caffres, of shooting lions, and his high
excitement when, on a fleet horse, he ran down and shot his first
giraffe, made the exploration of ruins seem a rather tame business. He
reached the Cape with four giraffes, but two died after their arrival,
and with the others he embarked for New-York, where he expected to
deliver them over to the parties interested; but from the great care
required in their treatment, it became indispensable for him to travel
with them while they were exhibited. In one of the Western states he
encountered a travelling circus company, which undertook to run an
opposition on the same line of travel. The giraffes were rather too
strong for the horses, and a proposition was made to him to unite the
two and become director of both, which he accepted. He afterward bought
the latter out, and so became the manager of a strolling circus
company. With it he travelled all over the United States, but in Canada
his last giraffe died, and left him with a stock of horses and a
company on hand. He returned to New-York, chartered a brig, and after
touching and exhibiting at several West India Islands, sailed for
Campeachy, where he was received with such enthusiasm, that among the
benefits conferred upon mankind by authors, I rank high that of having
been the means of introducing a circus company into Yucatan, in the
belief that it may prove the first step toward breaking up the popular
taste for bull-fights.

The next morning we advertised for sale our horses and equipments, and
sallied out to visit our friends. Great changes had taken place since
our departure. Abroad the political horizon was stormy. News had been
received of increased difficulties, complicated and uncertain
negotiations, and apprehensions of war between our own country and
England; also of the failure of the Santa Fé expedition, the capture
and imprisonment of American citizens, and that Texas and the whole
valley of the Mississippi were in arms to carry the war into Mexico.
And black clouds were lowering, also, over Yucatan. The governor had
lost his popularity. The great question opened by the revolution two
years before was not yet decided. Independence was not declared; on the
contrary, during our absence a commissioner had arrived from Mexico,
and had negotiated a treaty for the return of Yucatan to the Mexican
confederacy, subject to the approval or disapproval of the Mexican
government. In the mean while, electors were called to nominate
deputies to the Mexican Congress, as if the treaty was approved, and at
the same time the Legislature was summoned in extraordinary session, to
provide for the protection of the state against invasion, in case the
treaty should be rejected. Both bodies were then sitting. Three days
after our return, a vessel arrived at Sisal, having on board a special
envoy, bearing Santa Ana's ultimatum. He was detained one day at the
port, while the government considered the expediency of permitting him
to visit the capital. Apartments were prepared for him at our hotel,
but he was taken to the house of the secretary of war, ostensibly to
save him from insult and violence by the populace, who were represented
as highly excited against Mexico, but in reality to prevent him from
holding communication with the partisans in favour of reunion. Great
dissensions had grown up. The revolution had been almost unanimous, but
two years of quasi independence bad produced a great change of feeling.
The rich complained of profligate expenditures, merchants of the
breaking up of trade by the closing of the Mexican ports, and while
many asked what they had gained by a separation, a strong "independent"
party was more clamorous than ever for breaking the last link that
bound them to Mexico.

I was in the Senate Chamber when the ultimatum of Santa Ana was read. A
smile of derision flitted over the faces of senators, and it was
manifest that the terms would not be accepted, yet no man rose to offer
a declaration of independence. In the lobby, however, an open threat
was made to proclaim it _viva voce_ in the plaza on the coming Sunday,
and at the mouth of the cannon. The condition of the state was pitiable
in the extreme. It was a melancholy comment upon republican government,
and the most melancholy feature was that this condition did not proceed
from the ignorant and uneducated masses. The Indians were all quiet,
and, though doomed to fight the battles, knew nothing of the questions
involved. It is my firm conviction that the constant and unceasing
convulsions of the southern republics more than from any other cause
grow out of the non-recognition or the violation of that great saving
principle known among us as state rights. The general government aims
constantly at dominion over the states. Far removed by position,
ignorant of the wants of the people, and regardless of their feelings,
it sends from the capital its military commandant, places him above the
local authorities, cripples the strength of the state, and drains its
coffers to support a strong, consolidated power. Such were the
circumstances which had placed Yucatan in arms against the general
government, and such, ere this, might have been the condition of our
own republic, but for the triumphant assertion of the great republican
principle that the states are sovereign, and their rights sacred.

While the clouds were becoming darker and more portentous, we were
preparing for our departure from the country. A vessel was then at
Sisal ready to sail. It was one which we had hoped never to be on board
of again, being the old Alexandre, in which we made our former unlucky
voyage, but we had now no alternative, being advised that if we lost
that opportunity, it was entirely uncertain when another would present
itself. At the request of the governor, we delayed our departure a few
days, that he might communicate with a relative in Campeachy, who
wished a surgical operation performed by Doctor Cabot, and had passed
two months in Merida awaiting our return. In the mean time the governor
procured the detention of the vessel.

On Sunday, the sixteenth of May, early in the morning, we sent off our
luggage for the port, and in the afternoon we joined for the last time
in a paseo. All day we had received intimations that an outbreak was
apprehended; a volcano was burning and heaving with inward fires, but
there was the same cheerfulness, gayety, and prettiness as before,
producing on our minds the same pleasing impression, making us hope
that these scenes might be long continued, and, above all, that they
might not be transformed into scenes of blood. Alas! before these pages
were concluded, that country which we had looked upon as a picture of
peace, and in which we had met with so much kindness, was torn and
distracted by internal dissensions, the blast of civil war was sounding
through its borders, and an exasperated, hostile army had landed upon
its shores.

In the evening we rode to the house of Doña Joaquina Peon, said
farewell to our first, last, and best friends in Merida, and at ten
o'clock started for the port.

On Tuesday, the eighteenth, we embarked for Havana. The old Alexandre
had been altered and improved in her sailing, but not in her
accommodations. In fact, having on board eleven passengers, among whom
were three women and two children, these could not well have been
worse, and at one time our voyage threatened to be as long as the other
of unfortunate memory, but the captain, a surviver of the battle of
Trafalgar, was the same excellent fellow as before. On the second of
June we anchored under the walls of the Moro Castle. Before obtaining
passports to land, a barque entered, which we immediately recognised as
an American, and on landing, learned that she was the Ann Louisa,
Captain Clifford, one of a line of packets from Vera Cruz, had put in
short of water, and was to sail the next day for New-York. The yellow
fever had already broken out; there was no other vessel in port, and we
determined, if possible, to get on board, but we were met with a
difficulty, which at first threatened to be insuperable. By the
regulations of the port, it was necessary for all luggage to be carried
to the custom-house for inspection, and a list furnished beforehand of
every article. The last was utterly impossible, as we had on board the
whole miscellaneous collection made on our journey, with no such thing
as a memorandum of the items. But by the active kindness of our late
consul, Mr. Calhoun, and the courtesy of his excellency the governor, a
special order was procured for transferring the whole without
inspection from one vessel to the other. The next day was occupied in
the details of this business, and in the afternoon we joined in a
paseo, the style and show of which, for the moment, made us think
slightingly of the simple exhibition at Merida; and after dark, by the
light of a single candle, with heads uncovered, we stood before the
marble slab enclosing the bones of Columbus.

On the fourth we embarked on board the Ann Louisa. She was full of
passengers, principally Spaniards escaping from the convulsions of
Mexico, but Captain Clifford contrived to give us accommodations much
better than we were used to, and we found on board the comforts and
conveniences of Atlantic packets. On the seventeenth we reached
New-York. The reader and I must again part, and trusting that he will
find nothing in these pages to disturb the friendship that has hitherto
existed between us, I again return him my thanks for his kindness, and
bid him farewell.

                          APPENDIX TO VOL. II.


         _Principal Epochs of the Ancient History of Yucatan._

                                 §1. _Maya._

Lai u tzolan Katun lukci ti cab ti yotoch Nonoual cante anilo Tutul
Xiu ti chikin Zuina; u luumil u talelob Tulapan chiconahthan. Cante bin
ti Katun lic u ximbalob ca uliob uaye yetel Holon Chantepeuh yetel u
cuchulob: ca hokiob ti petene uaxac Ahau bin yan cuchi, uac Ahau, can
Ahau, cabil Ahau, cankal haab catac hunppel haab, tumen hun piztun
oxlahun Ahua cuchie ca uliob uay ti petene cankal haab catac hunppel
haab tu pakteil yete cu xinbalob lukci tu luumilob ca talob uay ti
petene Chacnouitan lae.


This is the series of "Katunes," or epochs, that elapsed from the time
of their departure from the land and house of Nonoual, in which were
the four Tutul Xiu, lying to the west of Zuina, going out of the
country of Tulapan. Four epochs were spent in travelling before they
arrived here, with Tolonchantepeuj and his followers. When they began
their journey toward this island, it was the 8th Ajau, and the 6th,
4th, and 2d were spent in travelling; because in the first year of the
13th Ajau they arrived at this island, making together eighty-one years
they were travelling, between their departure from their country and
their arrival at this island of Chacnouitan.

                              §2. _Maya._

Uaxac Ahua, uac Ahua, cabil Ahua kuchci Chacnouitan Ahmekat Tutul Xiu
hunppel haab minan ti hokal haab cuchi yanob Chacnouitan lae.


In the 8th Ajau arrived Ajmekat Tutul Xiu, and ninety-nine years they
remained in Chacnouitan.

                              §3. _Maya._

Laitun uchci u chicpahal Tzucubte Ziyan-caan lae Bakhalal, can Ahua,
cabil Ahua, oxlahun Ahua oxkal haab cu tepalob Ziyan-caan ca emob uay
lae: lai u haabil cu tepalob Bakhalal chuulte laitun chicpahi Chichen
Itza lae.


Then took place the discovery of the province of Ziyan-caan, or
Bacalar; the 4th Ajau, the 2d, and the 13th, or sixty years, they ruled
in Ziyan-caan, when they came here. During these years of their
government of the province of Bacalar occurred the discovery of Chichen

                              §4. _Maya._

Buluc Ahau, bolon Ajau, uuc Ahau, ho Ahau, ox Ahau, hun Ahau uac kal
haab cu tepalob Chichen Itza ca paxi Chichen Itza, ca binob cahtal
Chanputun ti yanhi u yotochob ah Ytzaob kuyen uincob lae.


The 11th Ajau, 9th, 7th, 5th, 3d, and 1st Ajau, or 120 years, they
ruled in Chichen Itza, when it was abandoned, and they emigrated to
Champoton, where the Ytzaes, holy men, had houses.

                              §5. _Maya._

Uac Ahau, chucuc u luumil Chanputun, can Ahau, cabil Ahau, oxlahun
Ahau, buluc Ahau, bolon Ahau, uuc Ahau, ho Ahau, ox Ahau, hun Ahau,
lahca Ahau, lahun Ahau; uaxac Ahau paxci Chanputun, oxlahun kaal haab
cu tepalob Chanputun tumenel Ytza uinicob ca talob u tzaclé u yotochob
tu caten, laix tun u katunil binciob ah Ytzaob yalan che yalan aban
yalan ak ti numyaob lae.


The 6th Ajau they took possession of the territory of Champoton; the
4th Ajau, 2d, 13th, 11th, 9th, 7th, 5th, 3d, 1st, 12th, 10th, and the
8th, Champoton was destroyed or abandoned. Two hundred and sixty years
reigned the Ytzaes in Champoton, when they returned in search of their
homes, and then they lived for several epochs under the uninhabited

                              §6. _Maya._

Uac Ahau, can Ahau, ca kal haab catalob u hecob yotoch tu caten ca tu
zatahob Chakanputun.


The 6th Ajau, 4th Ajau, after 40 years, they returned to their homes
once more, and Champoton was lost to them.

                              §7. _Maya._

Lai u katunil cabil Ahau, u hecci cab Ahcuitok Tutul Xiu Uxmal. Cabil
Ahau, oxlahun Ahau, buluc Ahau, bolon Ahau, uuc Ahau, ho Ahau, ox Ahau,
hun Ahau, lahca Ahau, lahun Ahau, lahun kal haab cu tepalob yetel u
halach uinicil Chichen Itza yetel Mayalpan.


In this Katun of 2d Ajau, Ajcuitok Tutul Xiu established himself in
Uxmal; the 2d Ajau, the 13th, 11th, 9th, 7th, 5th, 3d, 1st, the 12th
and the 10th Ajau, equal to 200 years, they governed and reigned in
Uxmal, with the governors of Chichen Itza and of Mayapan.

                              §8. _Maya._

Lai u katunil buluc Ajau, bolon Ahau, uac Ahau, uaxac Ahau, paxci u
halach uinicil Chichen Itza tumenel u kebanthan Hunac-eel, ca uch ti
Chacxib-chac Chichen Itza tu kebanthan Hunac-eel u halach uinicil
Mayalpan ichpac. Cankal haab catac lahun piz haab, tu lahun tun uaxac
Ahau cuchie; lai u haabil paxci tumenel Ahzinteyutchan yetel
Tzunte-cum, yetel Taxcal, yetel Pantemit, Xuch-ucuet, yetel Ytzcuat,
yetel Kakaltecat lay u kaba uinicilob lae nuctulob ahmayapanob lae.


After the lapse of the Ajau Katunes of 11th, 9th, 6th Ajau, in the 8th
the Governor of Chichen Itza was deposed, because he murmured
disrespectfully against Tunac-eel; this happened to Chacxibchac of
Chichen Itza, who had spoken against Tunac-eel, governor of the
fortress of Mayalpan. Ninety years had elapsed, but the 10th of the 8th
Ajau was the year in which he was overthrown by Ajzinte-yutchan, with
Tzunte-cum, Taxcal, Pantemit, Xuch-ucuet, Ytzcuat, and Kakaltecat;
these are the names of the 7 Mayalpanes.

                              §9. _Maya._

Laili u katunil uaxac Ahua, lai ca binob u pà ah Ulmil Ahua tumenel u
uahal-uahob yetel ah Ytzmal Ulil Ahua lae Oxlahun uuc u katunilob ca
paxob tumen Hunac-eel tumenel u cabal u naátob; uac Ahua ca coci:
hunkal haab catac can lahun pizí.


In this same period, or Katun, of the 8th Ajau, they attacked King
Ulmil, in consequence of his quarrel with Ulil, king of Yzamal;
thirteen divisions of troops had he when he was routed by Tunac-eel; in
the 6th Ajau the war was over, after 34 years.

                             §10. _Maya._

Uac Ahua, can Ahua, cabil Ahua, oxlahun Ahua, buluc ahua, chucuc u
luumil ich pà Mayalpan, tumenel u pach tulum, tumenel multepal ich cah
Mayalpan, tumenel Ytza uinicob yetel ah Ulmil Ahua lae, can kaal haab
catac oxppel haab; yocol buluc Ahua cuchie paxci Mayalpan tumenel
ahuitzil cul, tan cah Mayalpan.


In the 6th Ajau, 4th Ajau, 2d Ajau, 13th Ajau, 11th Ajau, the fortified
territory of Mayalpan was invaded by the men of Ytza, under their King
Ulmil, because they had walls, and governed in common the people of
Mayalpan; eighty-three years elapsed after this event, and at the
beginning of the 11th Ajau Mayalpan was destroyed by strangers of the
Uitzes, or Highlanders, as was also Tancaj of Mayalpan.

                             §11. _Maya._

Uaxac Ahua lay paxci Mayalpan lai u katunil uac Ahua, can Ahua, cabil
Ahua, lai haab ca yax mani upañoles u yaxilci caa luumi Yucatan
tzucubte lae, oxkal haab páxac ich pà cuchie.


In the 6th Ajau Mayalpan was destroyed; the epochs of 6th Ajau, 4th and
2d Ajau, elapsed, and at this period the Spaniards, for the first time,
arrived, and gave the name of _Yucatan_ to this province, sixty years
after the destruction of the fortress.

                             §12. _Maya._

Oxlahun Ahua, buluc Ahua, uchci mayacimil ich pà yetel nohkakil:
oxlahun Ahua cimci Ahpulá uacppel haab u binel ma cococ u xocol oxlahun
Ahua cuchie, ti yanil u xocol haab ti lakin cuchie, canil kan cumlahi
pop, tu holhun Zip catac oxppeli, bolon Ymix u kinil lai cimci Ahpulá;
laitun año cu ximbal cuchi lae ca oheltabac lay u xoc numeroil años lae
1536 años cuchie, oxkal haab paaxac ich pà cuchi lae.


The 13th Ajau, 11th Ajau, pestilence and smallpox were in the castles.
In the 13th Ajau Ajpula died; six years were wanting to the completion
of the 13th Ajau; this year was counted toward the east of the wheel,
and began on the 4th "Kan." Ajpula died on the 18th day of the month
Zip, in the 9th Ymix; and that it may be known in numbers, it was the
year 1536, sixty years after the demolition of the fortress.

                             §13. _Maya._

Laili ma cococ u xocol buluc Ahua lae lai ulci erpañoles kul uincob ti
lakin u talob ca uliob uay tac hurmil lae bolon Ahua hoppci cristianoil
uchci caputzihil: laili ichil u katunil lae ulci yax obispo Toroba u


Before the termination of the 11th Ajau the Spaniards arrived; holy men
from the East came with them when they reached this land. The 9th Ajau
was the commencement of baptism and Christianity; and in this year was
the arrival of Toral, the first bishop.

Thus far only from the Maya manuscript, because the other events cited
are posterior to the conquest, and of little historical interest.
Although this manuscript may contain some errors which should be
rectified, still, as these are committed in the numeration of the
epochs, or Ajaues, which do not keep a correlative numerical order, it
was very easy for the author, who wrote from memory, to transpose them,
preserving solely the number of periods which elapsed between the
occurrence of one and the other event, without designating correctly
the sign of the period. I repeat that the writer of this epitome did it
from memory, because it was done long after the conquest: the
histories, paintings, and hieroglyphics of the Indians had about this
period been collected by order of Bishop Landa, as is related by
Cogolludo in his history; and likewise because his historical narrative
is so succinct, that it appears rather a list than a circumstantial
detail of the events. But, notwithstanding these defects, as the
manuscript is the only one which has been found treating of this
matter, it is well worthy the trouble of correcting and analyzing it,
on account of the ideas which it communicates respecting the ancient
history and establishment of the principal peoples of that time, whose
ruins are admired at the present day, such as those of Chichen and
Uxmal; deducing from these, what were the others which the traveller
encounters, and whose origin is unknown.

The manuscript may be abridged in the following manner: "Four epochs
were expended by the Toltecos between their departure from their city
under the direction of Tolonchante Peech, and their arrival at
Chacnouitan.[5] They arrived at this province of Chacnouitan in the
first year of the following epoch, and remained in the same place with
their captain Ajmekat Tutul Xiu during the space of four epochs
more.[6] They discovered Ziyancan, or Bacalar, and governed in it three
epochs, until they came to Chichen Itza.[7] They remained here until
their departure to colonize Champoton, a period of six epochs.[8] From
the discovery of Champoton, where they settled and reigned until it was
destroyed, and they lost it, thirteen epochs elapsed.[9] They were
wanderers among the hills during two epochs, when they established
themselves for the second time at Chichen Itza.[10] In the following
epoch, Ajcuitok Tutul Xiu colonized Uxmal, and reigned with the
governor of Mayapan during ten epochs.[11] After a farther lapse of
three epochs, and on the tenth year of the one following, Chacxibchac,
governor of Chichen Itza, was defeated by Tunac-eel, governor of
Mayapan, and his seven generals.[12] In this same epoch of the defeat
of the Governor of Chichen, they marched to attack Ulmil, king of
Chichen, because he had made war against Ulil, king of Yzamal, and the
object was effected by Tunac-eel in the following epoch.[13] After this
epoch, Ulmil, king of Chichen, recovering from his defeat, invaded the
territory of Mayapan in the following epoch, and, after the lapse of
two more, and in the third year of the one following, Mayapan was
destroyed by the strangers, inhabitants of the hills.[14] After the
lapse of three more epochs, the Spaniards arrived for the first time,
and gave to this province the name of Yucatan.[15] In the following
epoch occurred the plague, which visited even the temples and castles;
and in its sixth year Ajpula died, on the 11th of September, 1493.[16]
In the eleventh epoch, and the last of this record, was the arrival of
the conquerors; this happened in 1527.[17] In the following epoch the
conquest was finished, and the first bishop reached the province: the
first occurred in January, 1541, and the other in 1560."


The genus Accipitres, including eagles, falcons, buzzards, &c., is very
numerous, and of these three or four new varieties were obtained. One,
a beautiful hawk, resembling in its markings the goshawk (Falco
Atricapillus), differing, however, in its form, in the bill, colour of
its eyes (dark brown), in not having the white line over the eyes, and
in the bands on the tail. The first specimen was killed at Uxmal, but
afterward many others were procured, and two were brought home. Another
new and beautiful species is a falcon of a very noble character in the
form of its bill and head, and in its habits; of which two specimens
were obtained at Chichen Itza, the male being shot over the senoté
during a heavy shower. No others but this pair were seen. Another is
undescribed, or, if described, imperfectly so, under the name of the
mingled buzzard of Latham (La Buse Mixté Noire. Voy. d'Azara, vol.
iii., No. 20). It is a large black hawk, and was obtained, the female
at Punta Francaise, and the male at the island of Cozumel, where a nest
also was found, but was destroyed, together with the eggs, in
consequence of Dr. Cabot's being obliged to have the tree felled. He
afterward procured an egg from a nest between Silan and Las Bockas de
Silan. Another very beautiful hawk is shaped much like the little
corporal of Audubon, and belongs to the same division of hawks as the
hobby falcon of Europe. It is a bold hawk, and is met with about the
rains and on the tops of the churches. It is quite abundant in Yucatan,
though only one specimen was obtained, which was shot from the top of
the cross over the gateway at the hacienda of the senoté (Mucuyché), as
we rode up on our way to Uxmal. There does not appear to be any
published description of this hawk. Still another hawk was procured,
which also seems not to have been described; but, as it appears to be
in immature plumage, it may be the young of some known bird. Besides
these, among the specimens is the laughing falcon (Falco Cachinnans of
Lin.). It is called by the natives koss, and was shot at Chichen Itza
near the Castillo, and was stuffed. Another specimen of the same bird
was procured on the way from Nohcacab to Uxmal, after our first attack
of sickness. These birds are quite numerous throughout Yucatan.

Of the genus Strix but three varieties were seen, and of those two were
preserved, both of which are believed to be undescribed. The first, a
little owl, about six inches and a half long, of a tawny colour,
lighter beneath, which was shot near Merida. The second is about six
inches long, of a brown above and lighter beneath, called by the
natives tiquim thohca. Several specimens of both these owls were seen.
The third was caught in one of the ruined buildings, and kept alive for
a little while, but afterward escaped. It resembled somewhat the Strix
Aluco of Europe. One was afterward shot at Sabachshé, but was so much
injured that it could not be stuffed.

Of the genus Corvus were procured three species, two of which are
apparently not described. The first is a very beautiful jay, the head
and belly black; back, wings, and tail of a beautiful blue; the bill of
the male is yellow, and of the female black; the legs yellow. It was
first seen and shot near Sisal, on the way up to Merida, and afterward
several other specimens were obtained in different parts of the
country, for they are numerous throughout Yucatan. The other was first
met with at Uxmal, where a female was shot, and afterward two males.
They are of a dark brown on the head, neck, back, and tail; belly
white; bill of male black, and female yellow; they have a most singular
formation of the trachea, there being a sort of membranous sack or bag
coming off in front of the trachea at about the middle of its length,
and intimately connected with the skin of the neck; this formation,
together with the great muscularity of the larynx, may account for
their excessively loud and disagreeable cry. The other jay is the
Corvus Peruvianus, Peruvian jay. (Shaw, vol. viii., plate 27.) This
most beautiful bird is found in great abundance in almost all parts of
Yucatan, which is probably its native country, as it is mentioned as
rare in Peru.

Of the genus Psittacus were procured four species, three of which have
been described, and perhaps the fourth also; but, as the specimen is
bad, it is not easy to ascertain positively whether it has or not. One,
the Psittacus Albifrons (Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 119), white-crowned
parrot (Shaw vol. viii., p. 519), is very numerous throughout Yucatan.
It is a beautiful bird, coloured with green, blue, red, white, and
yellow. Another, supposed to be the Psittacus Guianensis (Gen. Lil.,
vol. i., p. 323), the green parrot of Guiana (Gen. Syn., i., 231), is
not so abundant as the last, but still quite numerous. The specimens
were procured at Ticul, and some were afterward shot near Iturbide. The
third species was not seen in the wild state, the only specimen
procured being given to Dr. Cabot, alive, by the padre Curillo, of
Ticul. It is the Psittacus Macao (Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 82), red and
blue macaw (Gen. Syn., i., 199).

Of the genus Ramphastos one specimen was procured, the yellow-breasted
toucan (Gen. Syn., vol. i., p. 326), Ramphastos Tucanus (Ind. Orn.,
vol. i., p. 136). This specimen does not agree with the description in
Latham, but is the same as the one described by Mr. Edwards from a
living specimen in Lord Spencer's collection. It was procured at Uxmal
on the day when Dr. Cabot went down to the hacienda to operate on an
Indian's leg. Two or three different species were afterward seen at
Macobà, but Dr. C. did not succeed in killing any of them.

Of the genus Momotus were obtained two species: the first, the common
Brazilian or blue-headed motmot; this was quite common in Yucatan, but
not so common as the other, as to which it is doubtful whether it has
been described. It is about the same length as the blue-headed, but the
tail is longer in proportion to the body. The markings on the plumage
are very different from those of the Brazilian; there is a black stripe
extending down from the chin to the middle of the breast, bordered on
each side with light blue; a broad, light blue, almost white, stripe
extends over the eye from the base of the bill almost to the hind head.
The general colour is a sort of greenish bay; primaries and tail light
green, tipped with black; the two central feathers of the tail much
longer than in the Brazilian, having the shaft bare to a much greater
degree, and the feather at the tip is bright pale green, tipped broadly
with black.

Of the genus Crotophaga one species was procured, the lesser ani
(Crotophagi Ani. Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 448). These were very abundant
in all parts of the country.

Of the genus Oriolus, including under this denomination Icterus and
Cassicus, were procured five species, one of which is supposed to be
new, three doubtful, and one known. The male of the new species is nine
inches and a half long; head, neck, cheeks, breast, belly, rump,
tertiaries, and nearly the whole length of the outer tail feathers and
the lower part of the third, and occasionally a stripe on the fourth,
bright chrome yellow; face, throat, primaries, secondaries, back, and
four, and sometimes six tail feathers, black; legs bluish; bill black,
except the base of lower mandible, which is bluish; sings finely.
Female eight inches and seventh eighths long; marked like the male, but
not so brilliant; irides hazel. One of the doubtful comes very near to
Latham's description of the lesser Bonana bird (Oriolus Xanthornus.
Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 181), but is an Icterus, and differs in some
particulars of plumage. Another of the doubtful resembles closely the
black oriole, and another the black cassican, but is smaller. The known
species is the St. Domingo oriole (Oriolus Dominicensis. Ind. Orn.,
vol. i., p. 182). Two specimens of this bird were procured, being the
only two that were seen.

Of the genus Cuculus, including Polophilus, were procured two species.
One resembles somewhat the bird described by Latham as the variegated
coucal (Polophilus Variegatus); the other the Cayenne cuckoo (Cuculus
Cayanus. Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 221). These were both quite abundant
throughout the country.

Of the genus Picus were procured three species, two of which are
perhaps new. One of these resembles the little woodpecker of Europe
(Picus Minor) very closely. The other resembles Latham's description of
the Brazilian woodpecker (Picus Braziliensis). The known one is the
lineated woodpecker (Picus Lineatus. Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 226).

Of the genus Certhia were obtained two species, of one of which no
description has been found, though Dr. Cabot was under the impression
that he had seen specimens of it in some of the cabinets of Europe. It
is three inches and seven eighths long; top of head, neck, and back,
dark brown, each feather having a light, buff-coloured, pear-shaped
mark in the centre; chin light buff colour; breast and belly light
brown, each feather having also a light buff-coloured mark down the
centre; primaries, secondaries, tertiaries, and tail dun-coloured; bill
one inch and three eighths along the ridge, and one inch and five
eighths along the gap, bent in its whole length, and horn-coloured.
They were not numerous. The other species is the yellow-bellied
nectarinia (Nectarinia Flaveola. Vieill., Ois. Dor. Certh., plate 51,
p. 102). They were quite numerous at Cozumel, where two specimens were
procured. They were not seen in any other part of the country.

Of the genus Trochilus were procured two or three species, one of which
is undescribed; another is probably the young of the same, and one is
described. The undescribed, male, is four inches long; bill six eighths
of an inch, yellowish, tipped with black; upper parts of head and back
dull green; throat and upper part of breast bright emerald green in
scales, with metallic lustre; lower part of breast, belly, and tail dun
or bay colour; the feathers of the tail fringed and tipped with black;
primaries dark brown, with some purplish reflections. The four middle
tail feathers have greenish reflections on them. The female is rather
less, and wants the bright emerald throat, the whole under parts being
bay-coloured; the male had some white about the thighs. The known
species is the Ourissia humming-bird (Trochilus Maugeri. Lesson.).

Of the genus Turdus were procured two species, thought to be new. One
agrees very nearly with Le Merle de Paraguai, or Calandra, as described
in Vieillot, but it wants the white on the wings. The other is a good
deal like the Turdus Plumbeus, as described by the same author. The
first is quite common throughout Yucatan, but the second is rather

Of the genus Loxia were obtained four species, three of which are in
immature plumage, and cannot, therefore, be placed with certainty. The
other does not appear to have been described, though there are some
descriptions which come near it. The male is nearly ten inches long;
head and chin, extending down the sides of the neck, and in a crescent
across the upper part of the breast, black; cheeks very dark steel
gray; a white line extending from the bill over the eye almost to the
hind head; hind head, back, secondaries, outer edge of the primaries,
yellow olive; also the tail; the shafts of the feathers are black; part
of the chin and throat pure white; breast, belly, and thighs cinereous;
vent, and under the tail coverts, light bay; bill quite stout, nearly
an inch long, and black; the female is about nine inches long, having
dark cinereous brown in place of the olive; the other markings much the
same as the male, but not so vivid. They are very common throughout
Yucatan, and said to be very destructive in the fields and gardens:
called by the Indians _tsapin_.

Of the genus Emberiza one was procured, in immature plumage; probably
the painted bunting.

Of the genus Pipra one: the blue and yellow manakin, not common in

Of the genus Tanagra were procured two species, one of which is the
red-crested tanager of Latham. But one pair was seen. The other is
believed to be undescribed. The specimen was a male, six inches and a
quarter long; bill inflated, and strongly toothed; at about the middle
of the upper mandible, six eighths of an inch along the gap, top of the
head, wings, and tail, of a deep raspberry, approaching maroon colour;
back cinereous, tinged with red; chin and throat bright rose colour;
breast and belly light cinereous; vent and under tail coverts light
rosy red.

Of the genus Fringilla was procured one species, believed to be
described in Latham as the cinereous finch (Fringilla Cinerea); they
were quite common about Merida in the latter part of May.

Of the genus Lanius three species were obtained, all of which have been
described. They are the Cayenne shrike (L. Cayanus. Ind. Orn., vol. i.,
p. 80), the rusty shrike (L. Rubiginosus), and the gray-headed shrike
(Tanagra Guianensis. Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 427), more properly the
Lanius G. This bird sings quite prettily, and is rather common in
Yucatan. The other two were rarer, especially the second.

Of the genus Muscicapa were obtained five species, four of which have
been described. The specimen procured of the fifth was a male. It is
six inches and a half long; bill one inch along the gap quite stout and
broad; top of the head and nape black; back, wings, and tail very dark,
slaty brown; breast, belly, cheeks, and chin light cinereous; throat
and upper part of the breast bright rose colour; legs black. This was
the only specimen seen in the country. The others were Muscicapa
Coronata (round-crested flycatcher. Shaw, vol. v., pl. 13). This is
quite common throughout Yucatan. Muscicapa Sulphuratus, not rare; M.
Barbata, quite common; M. Ferox, very common.

Of the genus Sylvia one was obtained, in young plumage, and, therefore,
uncertain whether new or not.

Of the genus Caprimulgus one species was obtained; the specimen so poor
that nothing can be made of it.

Of the genus Columba were procured two species, one of which is in such
imperfect plumage that its character cannot be made out. The other
agrees very nearly with the blue pigeon (Columba Cærulea. Ind. Orn.,
vol. ii., p. 601). Both are common in Yucatan.

Of the genus Meleagris was procured one species (Meleagris Ocellata),
the ocellated turkey, Cuv. This most magnificent bird is common
throughout Yucatan.

Of the genus Penelope were procured two species; one the crested guan
(P. Crestata. Ind. Orn., vol. ii., p. 619). These are called kosh by
the natives; the only specimen seen was given to Dr. Cabot by the
brother of the padrecito at Ticul, and was still alive in November,
1842. The other is the Penelope, or Phasianus Paragua (Ind. Orn., vol.
ii., p. 632). They are common in all parts of Yucatan, where they are
called chachalacha, from the noise they make, which is perfectly
astounding, and also bach by the Indians. They have a most remarkable
arrangement of the trachea, which passes down on the external surface
of the muscles, between them and the skin, in a long loop as low as the
pubis, and then passes up on the other side, and enters the thorax.

Of the genus Crax two species were obtained; the red curassow (Crax
Rubra, Lin., vol. i., p. 270), and C. Globicera (globose curassow).
They are found throughout the country, and are called by the natives

Of the genus Tinamus one species was obtained, the variegated tinamou
(T. Variegatus). They are quite common throughout Yucatan, where they
are called by the natives partridges. They are kept tame in many of the
houses, being very useful in destroying scorpions, &c.

Of the genus Onyx one species was obtained, which, as far as the
plumage and size go, is undescribed, but it has the same note, habits,
&c., as our quail or partridge. It is smaller; the throat of the male
is jet black, and most of the markings are different, though having a
general resemblance to the Ortyx or Perdix Virginianus. They are very
numerous in all parts of Yucatan.

Of the genus Cancroma one specimen was procured, the cinereous
boatbill, which was killed at the senoté at Chichen.

Of the genus Jacana also one species was obtained, the variable jacana
(Parra or Jacana Variabilis. Ind. Orn., vol. i., p. 763). It was killed
at Uxmal, at one of the small aguadas, and was the only one seen in the

Of the genus Gallinula Dr. Cabot procured two species, the Cayenne
gallinule (G. Cayanensis. Ind. Orn., vol. ii., p. 767) and the
black-bellied gallinule (G. Ruficollis. Ind. Orn., vol. ii., p. 767).

Of the long-billed wren one specimen only was seen. The violet-headed
trogon was more common, several having been procured in different

Besides the birds enumerated above, the following list comprises those
which were procured in Yucatan, and which are found also in the United
States, and have been well described by different naturalists.

_Birds observed in Yucatan during the winter of_ 1811, '2, _between the
months of October and June, which are also found in the United States,
and have been figured and described by Wilson, Audubon, Bonaparte, and

Cathartes Jota, all parts.
Cathartes Papa, at Labphak.
Cathartes Aura, all parts; less numerous than the C. Jota.
Aquila (?) Caracara, all parts.
Falco Pennsylvanicus.
Falco Haliætos.
Falco Cyaneus.
Falco Sparverius.
Icterus Spurius.
Quiscalus Major.
Quiscalus Versicolor.
Muscicapa Crinita.
Muscicapa Virens.
Muscicapa Atra.
Muscicapa Ruticilla.
Muscicapa Verticatis. (?)
Turdus Polyglottus.
Turdus Noveboracensis.
Turdus Lividus, Felisox.
Sylvia Virens.
Sylvia Mitrata.
Sylvia Trichas.
Sylvia Protonotarius.
Sylvia Maculosa. (?)
Sylvia Æstiva.
Sylvia Americana.
Sylvia Coronata.
Tanagra Æstiva.
Tanagra Rubra.
Fringilla Ludoviciana.
Fringilla Ciris.
Fringilla Cyanea.
Loxia C[oe]rulea.
Loxia Cardinalis.
Picus Carolinensis.
Trochilus Colubris.
Trochilus Mango.
Alcedo Alcyon.
Hirundo Rufa.
Hirundo Lunifrons. (?)
Hirundo Riparia.
Cypselus Pelasgius.
Caprimulgus Carolinensis.
Columba Passerina.
Columba Leucocephala.
Columba Zenaida.
Calidris Arenaria.
Himantopus Nigricollis.
Hæmatopus Ostralagus.
Charadrius Melodus.
Charadrius Wilsonius. (?)
Charadrius Semipalmatus. (?)
Charadrius Helveticus.
Strepsilus Interpres.
Ardea Herodias.
Ardea Rufescens.
Ardea Egretta.
Ardea Candidissima.
Ardea Ludoviciana. (?)
Ardea Nycticorax.
Ardea C[oe]rulea.
Ardea Lentiginosa.
Ardea Virescens.
Ardea Exilis.
Aramus Scolopaceus.
Ph[oe]nicopterus Ruber.
Platalea Ajaja.
Ibis Alba.
Numenius Longirostris.
Tringa Wilsonii.
Tringa Semipalmata.
Totanus Semipalmatus.
Totanus Vociferus.
Totanus Flavipes.
Totanus Chloropygius.
Totanus Macularius.
Totanus Bartramius.
Limosa Fedoa.
Scolopax Grisea.
Scolopax Wilsonii.
Gallinula Martinica.
Podiceps Minor.
Sterna Cayana.
Sterna Boysii.
Larus Atricilla.
Thalassidroma Wilsonii.
Anas Boschas.
Anas Strepera.
Anas Acuta.
Anas Americana.
Anas Discors.
Pelecanus Onocrotalus.
Phalacrocorax Carbo.
Phalacrocorax Graculus.
Trachypetes Aquilus.
Phæton Æthereus. (?)

                             THE RED HAND.

The figure of the human hand is used by the North American Indians to
denote supplication to the Deity or Great Spirit; and it stands in the
system of picture writing as the symbol for strength, power, or
mastery, thus derived. In a great number of instances which I have met
with of its being employed, both in the ceremonial observances of their
dances and in their pictorial records, I do not recollect a single one
in which this sacred character is not assigned to it. Their priests are
usually drawn with outstretched and uplifted hands. Sometimes one hand
and one arm, but more commonly both are uplifted. It is not uncommon
for those among them who profess the arts of medicine, magic, and
prophecy (the three are sometimes united and sometimes not) to draw or
depict a series of representative or symbolical figures on bark, skins
of animals, or even tabular pieces of wood, which are a kind of
notation, and the characters are intended to aid the memory in singing
the sacred songs and choruses. When the inscriptions are found to be on
wood, as they often are in the region of Lake Superior and the sources
of the Mississippi, they have been sometimes called "music boards." I
induced a noted meta, or priest, to part with one of these figured
boards, many years ago, and afterward obtained impressions from it in
this city by passing it through Mr. Maverick's rolling press. It was
covered with figures on both sides, one side containing forty principal
figures; six embrace the symbol of the uplifted hand, four of which had
also the arm, but no other part of the body, attached. Their import,
which the man also imparted to me, is given in the general remark
above. On the reverse of this board, consisting of thirty eight
characters, nine embrace the uplifted hand, in one case from a headless
trunk, but in the eight others connected with the whole frame.

The design of the hand is uniformly the same with our tribes, whether
it be used disjunctively or alone, or connected with the arm alone, or
with the whole body. In the latter cases it is a compound symbol, and
reveals some farther particular or associated idea of the action. The
former is the most mysterious use of it, precisely because there are no
accessories to help out the meaning, and it is, I think, in such
isolated cases, to be regarded as a general sign of devotion.

In the course of many years' residence on the frontiers, including
various journeyings among the tribes, I have had frequent occasion to
remark the use of the _hand alone_ as a symbol, but it has generally
been a symbol applied to the naked body after its preparation and
decoration for sacred or festive dances. And the fact deserves farther
consideration, from these preparations being generally made in the
arcanum of the medicine, or secret lodge, or some other private place,
and with all the skill of the priest's, the medicine man's, or the
juggler's art. The mode of applying it in these cases is by smearing
the hand of the operator with white or coloured clay, and impressing it
on the breast, the shoulder, or other part of the body. The idea is
thus conveyed, that a secret influence, a charm, a mystic power is
given to the dancer, arising from his sanctity or his proficiency in
the occult arts. This use of the hand is not confined to a single tribe
or people. I have noticed it alike among the Dacotahs, the Winnebagoes,
and other Western tribes, as among the numerous branches of the red
race still located east of the Mississippi River, above the latitude of
42°, who speak dialects of the Algonquin language.

A single additional fact appears to me to be pertinent to your inquiry.
In an excursion which I made in the year 1831 into the more
unfrequented and interior parts of the Chippewa country, lying between
the group of the Twelve Apostles' Islands in Lake Superior and the
Falls of St. Anthony, I came to a curious edifice, situated in the edge
of the forest, on the elevated banks of a fine lake, which was
exclusively used as the village temple. It was built of stout posts,
describing a circle, firmly and well sheathed with thick bark, fastened
on transverse pieces. It constituted a peculiarity in this structure
that there was a circular building within, or, rather, it was arranged
after the manner of the whorls of a sea-shell, so that a person could,
as it were, involve himself in a labyrinth. It had a single door,
subject to the entrance of the priest only. As this person was the
political chief of the band, and a man of more than ordinary intellect,
he appeared to have adopted this mode of exhibiting his skill and
securing and extending his power. He permitted me to inspect the
building. Drums, rattles, and other insignia of the priest's art, were
hung up on the wall. Heads of men were rudely carved or inscribed, and
numerous marks of the hand, as in the case of naked dancers, were
impressed on the involutions of the inner walls.

I have expressed the opinion that the human hand denotes strength, or
power, or mastery arising from devotional acts. The want or absence of
the hand or arm, therefore, in these symbolical figures, should imply
impotence, weakness, or cowardice, arising from fright, subjugation, or
other causes; and such is found to be the import of the armless figure
of the human body in two of the symbols of the ancient hieroglyphic
inscription on the Assonet, or Dighton Rock, as explained by the
well-known American chief Chingerauk.

                                THE END.

                         HARPER'S NEW CATALOGUE

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                          82 _Cliff Street, New York, Nov._, 1847.


[Footnote 1: See Appendix to vol. i.]

[Footnote 2: See Appendix to vol. i.]

[Footnote 3: Undoubtedly caoutchouc, or India-rubber.]

[Footnote 4: While these pages were passing through the press the
author had an opportunity of conferring with Mr. Schoolcraft, a
gentleman well known for his researches into the character and habits
of our North American Indians, and was favoured by him with an
interesting communication on the subject of the print of the red hand,
which will be found in the Appendix, and for which the author here
takes occasion to offer his acknowledgments.]

[Footnote 5: From the year 144 of the vulgar era up to 217.]

[Footnote 6: From 218 until 360.]

[Footnote 7: From 260 until 432.]

[Footnote 8: From 432 until 576.]

[Footnote 9: From 576 until 888.]

[Footnote 10: From 888 until 936.]

[Footnote 11: From 926 until 1176.]

[Footnote 12: From 1176 until 1258, in which was the defeat.]

[Footnote 13: From 1258 until 1272.]

[Footnote 14: From 1272 until 1368, the date of the destruction of
Mayapan. And the following, from 1368 to 1392.]

[Footnote 15: From 1392 until 1488.]

[Footnote 16: From 1488 until 1512.]

[Footnote 17: From 1512 until 1536, which concluded the eleventh epoch;
the following one beginning in 1536, and concluding in the year 1560.]

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